open thread – June 7-8, 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.

{ 1,754 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    When you’ve gotten job offers for positions you know you want (and no offer from another place at the same time), do you still ask for a day or two to think about it (maybe talk it over with a spouse or close friend), or do you just take the offer? Reasons?

    1. LSP*

      I think if you’ve already considered everything they are offering (salary, benefits, PTO, etc.) there’s no reason to stall on accepting, but I think there is almost no reason to not ask to get back to them in a day or two. No reasonable employer is going to balk at that, so you might as well take a beat to make sure the offer is hitting everything you want.

    2. Lucy*

      Why not? Why be coy? Accept subject to package and conditions, and start negotiations – the finer details of those might warrant discussion with spouse/family/close friends.

      I’m really glad you’re in this position! Hurrah!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’m not in this position yet, but I may be. So I just want to be prepared on whether I should ask for time to think or just accept it (if they offer).

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      I still ask for a day or two. They don’t need to know they’re my only option, lol. Not only that, it’s usually at the offer stage that I get full benefit info, and I need time to compare those to the ones I already have.

      1. Windchime*

        This is how I am, too. I need a little time to think and compare. Unless I was (theoretically) offered a ton of money and 8 weeks vacation and the best insurance ever, I would give it a day or two.

    4. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Unless for some reason you really did have to speak to your significant other about it, I would just go ahead and accept the job. I have done that.

    5. Eeyore's missing tail*

      I’ve accepted jobs like that the same day before. But, my now-husband and I were already on the same page about both positions (we were living together for one and married for the other), so it made sense for me to accept without discussing it with him.

      1. Eeyore's missing tail*

        I should add that both positions were in the same company, so I was already familiar with the benefits package.

    6. Silver Fig*

      I always ask for time. I request paperwork on the full reimbursement package (salary, bonus, retirement, health care, PTO, sick leave, tuition, anything else) and a day or two so I can pore over what the offer is as a whole, and then counteroffer. I never accept the first number.

      If the potential company offers you full information disclosure on the first try and a mind-blowing salary, I guess technically you could argue there’s no reason not to just accept immediately, but I’ve never seen that happen.

    7. theletter*

      I always ask for 24 hours to sleep on it, just in case I realize something at 3am.

      1. Caroline*

        +1 I’m just the type who needs time to digest and will realize something in the middle of the night.

    8. Adric*

      I would say that a day or two to think about a major life decision (such as a new job) is hardly ever amiss. Presumably you have been concentrating on getting the offer, and (much like the dog chasing the car) may not have fully considered just what it will mean when you get it.

      On the other hand, the whole point of the interview process is for you and the employer to feel each other out and get to a point where you’re both confident that you’re a match. If you both get there at the same time, that hardly seems like a problem.

      I would argue against doing it just for “gamesmanship”. If you have legitimate things to consider, then sure consider them and take the time you need for that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to start a new job from a standpoint of us both trying to put one over on each other.

      Bottom line, I’d say either way is fine, as long as you’re doing it with integrity and confidence.

    9. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I’ve always taken the position pretty much immediately. I’ve already thought it over and talked it to death with my spouse by the time an employer is getting ready to make an offer. I have baselines and as long as they hit the $$ and other benefits that I have decided are my must haves then I’ll accept.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’ve already thought it over and talked it to death with my spouse by the time an employer is getting ready to make an offer.

        Thanks. This is kind of where I am.

        1. just a random teacher*

          If this is in a school on the American academic year, this time of year it’s best to take as little time as you can be comfortable with to make a decision. Everyone’s trying to wrap things up and go home for summer, so being able to accept quickly is helpful if you’re comfortable doing it. (I’ve gotten teaching jobs in August before where they definitely wanted to know right then, because they needed to get the ball rolling on paperwork/onboarding stuff ASAP so that I could get access to things and start planning my year.)

          This is in a unionized environment where I’ve generally researched salary and benefits as soon as they call me for an interview, though (and at the interview, I ask the position-specific working conditions questions like which classes do they think this position will be likely to teach). There’s very little negotiation involved in the actual job offer at that point, just confirming which things count for what on their salary placement grid. (Some districts count all graduate level credits toward salary placement and others count only those you took after getting your teaching license, for example. This is usually spelled out in the contract, which is often posted on their public website, in which case I generally read it before interviewing.)

      2. Junior High Teacher*

        This is me, too. The last job I accepted is a 3-minute commute from my house, is the school my kids will eventually attend, and there’s nothing to negotiate when you have a union contract (for good and for bad). It is a perfect position for me, and I didn’t need to think it over any more.

        Also, I think enthusiastically accepting a job immediately (assuming you already know the details and so forth) gains a certain amount of goodwill from your boss. That’s just a nice perk, though.

        1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

          So incredibly jealous of your 3-minute commute. That’s my dream.

          Just had to say that.

          My job would be pretty close to perfection if I had a 3-minute commute. Or even a 13-minute commute. But I knew it would be a 25-40 minute drive (yet under 9 miles, distance-wise….that’s good old Los Angeles traffic for ya) when I signed up so I don’t complain. But if I DID have the ability to change one thing, my commute would be it.

          Sorry for being off topic.,

    10. Midge*

      I have done this and have no regrets. I live in a bit of a job desert, and was very ready to move on from my previous employer/position. Everything about the new job and employer was a step up, pretty much. I didn’t have to worry about health insurance affordability because I’m insured through my husband and his employer. (And how messed up is it that this has to be a consideration for anybody…) There was no point in me playing coy and asking for time. Easy yes that meant I got to give notice sooner and start sooner than if I took time I didn’t need to think about it.

    11. ceiswyn*

      I take it.

      In general, by the offer stage, I’ve already had as much thinking/talking time as I need for a single position; I have a good idea of the job, and a pretty good idea of what overall package would make it worth it for me.

      If I’m interviewing at multiple places, I’m pretty honest with them; I say that I’m talking to other companies and would like the time to make sure I’m making the right decision.

      Their reaction to that tells me a lot about the employer. An employer who would rather push me into accepting their offer and risk my changing my mind later, maybe even after starting work, is an employer with terrible judgement who I don’t want to work for.

    12. EtherIther*

      Usually I’m either moving or leaving a job upon having a new one, so there’s details worth thinking about. But I’m always a believer in taking a day to think about things. Never hurts, helps me feel better about the decision after. That might not be as helpful for others, though!

    13. Just Elle*

      I try never to accept it on the spot / on the phone. Mostly because you want to wait for the offer letter to come through and make sure whats on paper matches what you heard on the phone. And also because, its a huge life decision and even one hour makes a big difference in taking a moment to process. Its not like taking an hour is going to hurt anything but it could save you.

      That said, I don’t play coy with them either, I’ll say “I’m really excited about this offer! To be honest you are far and away my first choice. Would you mind if I wait until the formal offer comes through and officially accept via email?”

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I’m with you – I want to make sure the details line up with what I’ve been told, no bait and switch, and get everything in writing. It wasn’t quite the same but I had a temp job I was ready to take based on the high hourly rate and then they came back and told me the real rate was $10/hr lower.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, a “provided everything looks good when written down” clause makes perfect sense, even if you sound like you’re orally agreeing to it.

    14. Lucette Kensack*

      Do you actually have all the information you need? I’ve never had that happen — even when I was 100% certain that I wanted the job, I wanted to kick the tires of the offer before I confirmed my acceptance. (I’ve never had an org give me details on benefits — for example, the employee cost for their health care premiums) without prompting.

      Or, is there anything you want to ask about or negotiate (even if you would accept the job whether or not you get what you ask for)? I’m not talking about the obvious stuff, but things like: making sure you can take a couple of days off in your first month for your sister’s wedding; confirming where you will be sitting; negotiating the ability to leave at 4 on Tuesdays so you can make it to your favorite spin class.

      It sounds like you’re a teacher and so perhaps these kinds of details are spelled out in the contract. Otherwise, make sure you’re thinking about these things.

      1. ceiswyn*

        If these things are important to me, I ask about them when I’m interviewing the company.

    15. Canuck Library Employee*

      I accepted my job in the phone call it was offered. But it was a union job and there was no negotiation – the position, its duties, and compensation were all clearly spelled out in the contract. I was also a temp there so I was very familiar with the work and culture. I was not actively looking for a job other than at this workplace. So in a case where there are no unknowns (not even unknown unknowns!), I don’t see a point in asking for more time if you’re not actually going to use it.

    16. Lilysparrow*

      If you have already figured out your “strike price” in terms of salary & benefits package, and they clearly meet or exceed it, sure, go ahead.

      If there are pro’s and cons, or part of the offer is not quite in the zone you wanted, then take time to review it. A significant deficit in PTO, healthcare, or retirement funds is going to affect you long after your enthusiasm for the role has worn off.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        And like others upthread, if we’re clearly at a final interview/offer stage, I would have already discussed the change extensively with my husband. I might do a quick check-in call, but that’s it. I could do that in the lobby.

        If we weren’t anticipating an offer yet, I would take a day to discuss it.

    17. Cascadia*

      I don’t necessarily wait for the sake of waiting, but like many other people have pointed out, I’m usually not getting the full package of benefits and the salary until the offer comes down. I’ve also been told by multiple jobs that they want me to think it over and that they don’t expect an answer that day. I usually take a day or two to think about it and make sure I have all the info I need. Especially if you are going to negotiate for a salary, you can’t negotiate until after you have an offer, but before you accept. That being said, if I’m really excited and feel confident I’m going to take it I convey that excitement over the phone and ask for some time to discuss with my family, etc.

      I have taken jobs right away, but I did that a lot more when I was younger, working part-time or stipend/contract jobs over the summer, where I was getting paid an hourly wage that was in the job posting, and I knew there was no negotiation or anything.

    18. Art3mis*

      I take it, but I also don’t have a lot of options. Maybe if I did, I would sleep on it.

    19. KRM*

      I took my current job after only interviewing here. I liked the people and the package overall was great, so it just made sense. I think as long as you feel good about it, you should do it. And they should give you at least three days before asking for an acceptance notice, so if you really want to talk to someone, you can use that time. But if you feel good about it, go for it!

    20. Little Tin Goddess*

      Nothing wrong with taking a day or so to think about it, even if you dont need to think about it. Companies expect it. They dont necessarily know if you are interviewing elsewhere, unless you have told them when asked.

    21. Not So NewReader*

      I accept the job.
      I don’t want people wasting my time so why waste theirs?
      And I don’t want to work for someone who plays head games and I refuse to be that person who plays head games.
      (Am speaking for myself. Others may have good reason for delaying. I have never been able to find a good reason. If there isn’t a good reason then it feels head game-ish to me.)

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        You don’t think people needing a couple of days to review benefits is a good reason?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          hmm. Not sure how you got that out of what I said. If that is what they need to do then they should do that. But I see no point to “pretending” to do x or y, just to make the company wait for the answer when a person has already decided.
          I only read AAM now. But in the past I had stumbled across more than a few articles saying that one should make the company wait for their answer of acceptance. No reason was necessary, just make them wait.
          I have always thought that was bad advice.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Others may have good reason for delaying. I have never been able to find a good reason.

            This is what you said – this is where I got it from. Had you added what you just did about people asking for time when they really didn’t need it, I wouldn’t have asked the question.

      2. Windchime*

        I don’t really consider taking a day or so to consider all the factors to be “playing games” or “being coy” as another poster suggested. I usually say that I’m super excited but I’d like to sleep on it until tomorrow (or whatever), and then spend that time reviewing the benefits package, etc. With my current job, the manager had pretty much filled me in on that, so the only thing left was salary negotiation. As soon as that was done, I got a written offer and then accepted a few hours later.

    22. Jill March*

      My company was great about this. They wanted me to take some time. When they called with the offer, they asked if I’d be able to give them a decision by a specific date (which was a couple of business days plus the weekend). I probably could have asked for more time, but that was plenty.

      I was in your position and knew I’d take it, but I waited a day to send the signed offer letter. It never hurts to sleep on it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, I’ve had this happen, and this is great when they actually insist you take time even if you know you want it. More employers, do this!

    23. quirkypants*

      If I knew I wanted the job and the terms they outlined on the call sounded good to me, I’d probably answer with something like:
      “This sounds great! Let me just review all the terms and give it a thorough read-through and I’ll get back to you by EOD tomorrow” << I want to express I'm happy, I'm feeling positive, but that I do need to give a thorough reading and give the time that I will get back to them.

      I've also been the hiring manager and roll my eyes a bit when people take an entire week to get back to us. We give them the full week (when most other employers don't!) and our employement contracts are standard/simple, etc. In those cases it feels like it's mostly on principle.

      1. Windchime*

        When people ask for this much time, I would assume they are either waiting for another offer from someone else or they are using your offer to leverage a counter-offer from the current employer. I would probably still give them the time, but I would also be mentally preparing for that candidate to bail on me.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          ONE day would make you worried about them bailing?? Yikes. The only folks I’ve encountered who accepted offers faster than that were very junior.

              1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

                Yup, they said a week.

                My thinking is that if someone asks for a week that’s a sign they are either trying to get their current employer to up their salary, or they’re juggling a few potential offers. When I handed recruiting, we needed to hire ASAP after getting notice and a week’s wait time meant potentially not having the exiting employee around to train the new person replacing them. So, a week to decide would not have been possible in my former industry. That particular position needed to be replaced immediately and it meant my dropping everything to meet 10-15 candidates within a day or two of getting notice from the exiting employee, and hiring a new person ideally within a week so they have 3-5 training days with the old person. I know most industries don’t work that way, but there is no way a week would be possible just to get a yes or no response. It would throw everything off completely and people would be unable to function.

    24. fhqwhgads*

      No offer I’ve ever received (as in the initial verbal offer, or the offer letter itself) has had the details about benefits. It usually says things like how many paid holidays, how many sick days, how many vacation days, and that there is health/vision/dental (or some subset thereof), but not the details of the insurance. So I generally have to ask them to provide that, which usually takes them some time to get back to me, and then once I have that I need time to review the details of the plans (and their cost to me). Because of that I’m very unlikely to accept on the spot.

      1. quirkypants*

        See, this is something I don’t think of as a Canadian. We do have extended health plans for things like prescriptions and dental but there’s generally not a lot of variability between plans so unless someone has very special circumstances (ie, they know they have very expensive prescriptions to pay for) this doesn’t come up super often.

        I’m curious why it takes so long to send to you, though. It wouldn’t take long for HR to just hit forward on a pdf with the details…

        1. Windchime*

          There usually isn’t just one plan, though. My employer has a handful of plans, and they are all different. Different levels of coverage, different deductibles, different restrictions on which doctors you can see, prescription co-pays, etc. It can be mind-boggling.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          I don’t know why they took quite so long to get back to me..not that it was super long, maybe 1-2 business days. Still you’d think that’d be info they’d have at the ready since they’d presumably need to give any new employee the info on the plans their first day. And yet, they acted like it was…not an out of the ordinary request, but also not a simple thing that takes 2 minutes either. I mean, I get that these people have other work to do, but yeah…usually there’s some sort of one-sheet with a grid that lays out all the possible options for comparison. To me, you don’t need super serious medical issues or expensive prescriptions to want to compare the plans. It can be as simple as “I live my existing doctor/dentist and don’t want to change. So I need to see if they’re in-network in any of these options.” Plus or minus: are these copays significantly different than what I have now? And what does each of these plans cost? It’s not just about taking or leaving the job, it’s knowing what negotiation needs to be done. Like if the healthcare costs to me in premiums alone are in the thousands more than my current job, even if initially the salary might’ve seemed great, combined with that expense, it might not be. So you have to do all the math even if you’re not going to the doctor or refilling prescriptions all the time.

          1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

            In my current job, I have a pdf ready to go with the 3 plan options, the coverage and specific details of each option, and the cost to the employee for the one “platinum plus”’plan we offer that we don’t pay 100% of the premium on (we pay 90% of that plan premium and 100% of the other 2 plans). It’s a 46-page pdf and a lot of it is stuff no one would ever think to ask about, but it literally covers EVERYTHING a potential employee could ask about. And I take 30 seconds to send it – not 2 minutes or 2 hours or 2 days. I don’t understand these HR people who take so long to simply forwarding a pdf. It’s kinda mind blowing.

        3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Ah, American health insurance. It’s far more complicated than it should be.

    25. alphabet soup*

      I always ask for time to consider. But that’s mostly because I have a personal rule to always sleep on it and make a pro/con list before making any big decisions in life. In my youth, I had a tendency to make stupid, impulsive decisions, so this rule has been a good antidote to that. You don’t lose anything by asking for time to think about it, so why not ask for the time? They’re not going to change their mind about hiring you if you ask for a weekend to think it over, and if they do, consider that a bullet dodged.

    26. kj*

      I received and offer a couple weeks ago for my second place company. I asked for the weekend to think it over, and immediately reached out to my top choice. The rushed the process and hot me an offer by the end of the day that was for more than it would have been had I not had another offer on the table. I have a week left at my current job before I get to start at my top choice!

    27. Just Elle*

      Ok so counter question – should you always try to negotiate? Thinking back on it, the only job I ever didn’t negotiate on was one where it was clearly spelled out what the salary was and that it Was Not Negotiable from the beginning. Otherwise, I’ve never been in a position where the offer came in above my expectations, so I’ve always negotiated (successfully btw).

      But if one did blow away my expectation, I’m wondering if I should negotiate for the sake of negotiating (heck, what if they were willing to pay $10k more and I missed the boat)? I guess it would be hard to justify why I think more is fair, if it meets industry standard etc.

      1. quirkypants*

        I’ve taken jobs without negotiating. If they meet the top end of the range I’ve provided, I feel it’s bad faith to ask for more UNLESS something has substantially changed in my understanding of the job.

        I actually pulled an offer once when I met the top of his range and he came back wanting 10K more (in this case, 7% higher than he wanted and we offered). We also paid above industry standards, he was a strong candidate but not a super star, and he was kind of presumptive and jerky about it. He had just beaten out our next best candidate by a hair so we pulled our offer to him and hired her and I think in the end we were happier for it.

        Note: the way he was jerky about it, I told him we couldn’t go that high. He then called my boss’s boss who he had met with for a fit interview to complain I wouldn’t meet his demands. My grand boss was gabbing NONE OF IT and told him off (professionally). I should note this was a dude who went above two women to try to appeal to another dude. Even my grandboss thought that was pretty obvious what was happening.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Absolutely. He should have just taken the generous offer, worked his ass off at this job, and then made his case for a raise after a year.

      2. alphabet soup*

        I didn’t negotiate my most recent offer. They met the top of my range. I felt like what they offered is fair for the work, and still 70% more than my current salary, plus the benefits are better than my current position (including tuition benefits which is very attractive to me because I’m getting my masters). I couldn’t think of any good justification for asking for more other than, you know, I like money.

    28. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I have been in this position and accepted on the spot. I almost mentioned one scenario where I didn’t do that, but actually, I DID have some reservations that I wanted to talk through with my spouse first (nothing red-flaggy, just some serious considerations I needed to make). I ended up taking that job (I think I called back the next day with a yes).

      Managers don’t think poorly of people who accept on the spot. That’s a myth.

    29. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you have one offer and enough info to make the decision, just do it.
      If you have two offers, open questions, or another interview response expected aby day now, take the time. If gyou liked the other position/company better, that lets you call them and say “I have an offer from someone else but really liked the sound of your position. I d there any chance you’ll be deciding this week?”

    30. Chaordic One*

      When I’ve done this in the past, on one occasion I’ve had a job offer withdrawn. In my case, I wanted to look into options for insurance coverage, since the job I had been offered paid quite well, but had few benefits and no employer provided health insurance. (Having the job offer withdrawn was probably a red flag.)

      In spite of my bad experience, I think that this is a reasonable request and that it doesn’t hurt to ask for at least 24 hours to think things over.

    31. Kira*

      I recently got a literal dream job offer, much more than I thought they were going to pay me, and verbally basically said I would take it over the phone. I was too excited to be more reticent! But I didn’t consider it official until they sent me an offer letter (a few days later) and I had signed it.

    32. Well I used to be a farmer and I made a living fine*

      My first post-grad-school job, I’d thought a lot about whether I’d accept the job if it was offered to me, so when the company called with the offer, I said yes right away, about 3 seconds into the conversation. My new boss replied with some amusement, “Hang on, I haven’t even told you what we’re offering to pay you yet!”

      Oh right. At that point I barely cared what they were paying me because I knew whatever it was, it would be more than my grad student stipend! But it was a good reminder for me as an early-career person that employers appreciate thoughtful decision-making, and because of that, there is space for me to advocate for what I need (within reason, obviously!).

    33. The Other Dawn*

      I did with my previous job. To be honest, I only did that because I’ve read on here (and other sites) at various times that people should take a day or so to think it over. So I did, even though I knew right after the interview I wanted it.

      With the job prior to that one, I SHOULD have taken even an hour to think it over. I could have saved myself 10 months of utter misery. But I knew the manager, or thought I knew the manager. Live and learn.

      With my current job, it was my only option after my company being sold and I was headed for a stretch of unemployment. I’d applied for jobs and either got rejected or no response. I had one interview, but they were too slow to get back to me for the second interview. (They finally did…the day after I accepted my current job.) On paper, almost everything about my current job was what I was looking for; however, I had absolutely no enthusiasm about it, even with a slightly higher salary. Part of it was that I really, really wanted to move to another part of the industry (still do) and it wasn’t happening. Also, none of us were looking to change jobs; we were forced into it by a company sale. When I got the offer, I told him I’d get back to him the following day. It moved a little too fast for me given how I felt about the whole job search (two interviews and the offer within a total of four days), but most people would have been thrilled for the hiring process to move this quickly. I stalled on calling the HR guy back, mainly because I just didn’t want to face having to stay in this part of the industry. But I called him the next day and accepted. I’ve been here about three months now. It’s going well, though I do have my work cut out for me–the company is quite conservative in their policies and procedures, which is tough, but that’s part of what I was hired to work on changing. I still longingly look at job postings at the company I wanted to work for, but I just keep in mind that what I’m doing now will better prepare me to work there eventually.

  2. Simplyste*

    Do any of you have experience with starting an entirely new line of business or office priority? What resources did you use to map out your plan and make sure you didn’t miss any key steps?

    In my case, I’m fortunate to have been promoted into a more strategic role, and have been tasked with starting a student initiative which they’re saying could be our “third pillar”. It’s a fabulous opportunity for me – but would love to know some best practices, especially since I’m not an expert in the field.

    1. The Rain In Spain*

      Reach out to established programs to pick their brain- sometimes people will be guarded until you explain that you’re hoping they can share their knowledge/expertise with you and then they are often quite happy to discuss/set up a meeting/even send over resources.

      It can also be helpful to reach out to your end user/target (the students here it sounds like) to get some ideas from them on what would be helpful.

      And go in with a spirit of being flexible- you’re going to try some stuff out and see what lands well and build from there!

    2. Just Elle*

      Look into Lean. It originated in manufacturing but is highly applicable to business practices. Theres lots of good training out there. The most relevant ones here are the Improvement Mandate and the SIPOC / Process Map.

      Improvement Mandate – make sure you’re delivering what the sponsors actually want, and are clear on scope. List out: Stakeholders (who is impacted), problem statement, problem symptoms/history, desired results, guideline and scope (specifically list what is out of scope), key milestones, measures of success, risks to be managed, required resources, team leader/members and roles, and sponsors. Sponsors are your enablers – the people who can give you funding and priority. Get them to sign the improvement mandate. All of this is very brief, a few bullet points each, and should fit on one page.

      SIPOC – suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers. Helps you understand who you are serving and what you need to serve them. There’s example templates online.

      Process Map – you ever been in one of those conversations where you you said purple, and thought it was really obvious you meant purple, but it turns out later everyone was picturing a different shade of purple? By laying out a process map, you can uncover misunderstandings about everyone’s role and interpretation of a process.
      Do this with post it notes on a wall. Start with current state (if you have one – sounds like you might not). List inputs on the left, everything your department does goes in the middle on a flowchart, and then on the right list your outputs/customer.
      Then make your future state below that: what do you want the process to look like when you’re done?
      Then figure out what you need to do to get from current to future and add big yellow sticky notes to your wall. Things like “develop automated report system” or “appoint task owner” or whatever. Then assign owners for all of the actions, along with due dates. Transfer that into an action log and voila.

      1. Samwise*

        OMG, this is excellent, I’m starting a new initiative and have thought about many of these things, but not how to put it together. Yay! Thank you!

        1. Just Elle*

          “The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook” is $10 on Amazon and a great resource if you want to learn more!

    3. Loubelou*

      I’m a fan of design thinking for something like this. There’s a great process that walks you through key stakeholders, needs, resources and outputs. The Google Design Sprint is a great example.

    4. Ama*

      I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything entirely new, but I have developed new processes that fit in my portfolio but we just weren’t doing before. I concur with the other advice to look around for similar programs elsewhere — if anyone is willing to talk with you about how they developed their program that’s great, but sometimes even just seeing how a program is structured and presented publicly can help identify key elements you hadn’t thought about.

      I’d also advise you to document your entire development process — what options are being considered, why A was chosen over B, etc. One other thing I’ve had to do a lot at my current job is try to figure out why long-standing programs are structured the way they are and it is so much easier when I can find a document that says why certain decisions were made — and honestly, sometimes this even goes for decisions I made years ago, where I *know* there’s a reason why I chose to go one direction with a project but I can’t remember it offhand. As a bonus, in a worst-case scenario where someone has to take over the project from you (why yes, I have had a boss go on medical leave half way through implementation of an entirely new program), they’ll already have a record of what’s been done.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t ignore logistics. You can have great ideas and great people, but if they don’t have desks, computers, phone, etc. nothing will get done. And all those administrative things that we all hate? Those are important too. Wiring diagrams that clearly show lines of authority, position descriptions that clearly outline responsibilities, who can authorize spending and up to what dollar amount, etc. I have seen initiatives fail because everyone thinks someone else will take care of all that.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is so very true. At my current job in a large faceless bureaucracy, no one knows who to call for anything, and when you do call, half the time no one is at their desk and they don’t return their messages. If they do return their messages, then it is to tell you that it is something they can’t do and most of the time they can’t tell you who can do it. We call the H.R. department, “Bigfoot,” because, in spite of occasional sightings, no one knows if it really exists.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        One of the keys to my success is taking time to be organized. Take the time to make comprehensive notes, organize documents and put them away where they can be found.
        Also take time to review your notes and annotate them, and review as often as necessary.
        All around me people are losing their documents or forgetting key details because they don’t do this.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      A contact list with contact info AND their area of responsibility or expertise.
      Sue (contact info) llama problems
      Tom (contact info) sheep problems
      Mary (contact info) HR problems

      For tasks that are repetitive, I try to do them the same way each time until I catch on and find my preferred way.

      I use a bullet journal type of thing to put info that I cannot put anywhere else, but absolutely must have. I keep a running index as I build the journal and date each entry like you would in a personal use journal.

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      Not a new program, but a new role to the org that I had major controller shaping. Honestly I think you are already focusing on the wrong things. It should be people, people, people.

      You need to know who are your stakeholders, what do they need and how can you deliver? Who are your dissenters? What are their concern and how can you mitigate? Before you build be sure you have these answers first.

    8. Phoenix Programmer*

      There are some good ideas here but before you focus on the how you should get the why and for whom down pat. #1 priority should be people.

      Who are you building the program for? Who are your promoters and what do they need from you? How and when can you deliver?

      Who are your dissenters and what are their concerns? How can you mitigate those?

      People are the most important part.

      Source: stepped into a new role I was mainly responsible for building out the scope and responsibilities for. Built an internship program that’s been running two years.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Sorry for the double post. For some reason the first one did not appear when I refreshed so I assumed I managed to cancel it. Easy to do on the phone. I know Alison is sick but feel free to ignore the first as I think I was able to focus and word the second one better anyway.

  3. Peaches*

    Just wanted to give an update on my coworker who was let go a couple of weeks ago, but is still working. To recap, our boss (in his email to our office staff) told us that he is allowing her to work until either she finds a new job, or we find someone to fill her job.

    I had mentioned last week that I had an inkling my coworker did not realize our boss had told everyone that we were letting her go. Well, my suspicions were confirmed. I overheard her telling a brand new employee of ours who is unaware of her soon departure that she was “going to be resigning soon for an amazing opportunity that [she] just couldn’t pass up.” She then proceeded to tell him that she “would probably be staying on for a little while longer though” since boss “will definitely want her to stay and train the new person for her role.” I just sat at my desk cringing. Our boss will most certainly NOT want her to stay on and train the next person considering what a disaster she’s been during her tenure here.

    On another happy note, my boss informed me that I wouldn’t have to train the new person in this role AT ALL. I spoke to him about my concerns of devoting so much time to training (which isn’t a part of my role at all), because my new position had started to get so busy lately. He understood completely, and decided that our corporate office will be doing all the training for the new employee. Here’s to hoping the next employee will be a much better fit!

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      LOL. I shouldn’t laugh at this woman’s delusions, but seriously? She can’t be real.

      I’m glad you don’t have to train her replacement. Could you imagine if you all ended up getting another one of her?

      1. Peaches*

        Honestly, though. She’s absolutely delusional!

        But yes, I’m very thrilled to be off the training bandwagon. :)

      2. Observer*

        Either delusional or putting up a front. It’s hard to admit that you’ve been fired, especially for cause.

    2. CatCat*

      And does the “amazing opportunity” actually exist? I suspect not! Thus the qualifier that she would be staying a little while longer.

      1. HigherEd Person*


        Amazing opportunity = essential oil pyramid scheme #bossbabe #oilyhun

        1. Peaches*

          Hahah! I love that you said that, because I’m the biggest pyramid scheme hater of all time.

        2. Silver Fig*

          Apropos of nothing: it really grates my pedantic cheese that MLM culture chose the wrong spelling of “hun”. My invasion of Persia went just fine, Karen.

    3. Charlie Dimmock*

      Is she trying to save face by saying the boss will want her to stay on or does she really believe it?

      1. Peaches*

        I’m not sure! I’ve tried to determine whether it’s a “save face” thing, or just pure delusion.

        1. Jule*

          You’re calling her delusional all over this thread, so it seems like you have determined your take already. The question was rhetorical and designed to help you consider empathy. You still have time to choose that over malice; I recommend it, both because it’s the right thing to do and because over time coworkers and supervisors notice when people want to kick those who are already down, and it’s not such a great professional look.

    4. sunshyne84*

      Does your boss have a set amount of time they are going to keep her? Finding a job can be a long process.

      1. Peaches*

        From my understanding, he will dismiss her if we find a new employee to take her place before she finds a job.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ah I’ve seen this kind of thing unfold, it’s not even necessarily that she doens’t know she’s being terminated! She may very well know that but is playing like it’s her choice because it feels better. It wouldn’t be the first time at all.

      Also she’s still a temp, right? So the boss wouldn’t necessarily need to say anything, that’s usually handed down with the temp agency. So her contact at the office probably set her up with a new gig =X That’s the amazing opportunity.

      1. Peaches*

        Oh, she does know! I just don’t think she realizes everyone else knows that she’s been let go (and is just working until she finds a job, or we find someone to replace her – whichever comes first).

        Yes, she is through a temp agency, but our boss himself did let her know that we were going to find someone else, per his email at least – “I let (coworker) know…”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Oh oh oh! I was reading wrong, my bad! So she is just delusional, bless her sweet heart.

          I mean she shouldn’t have a problem getting a new job, unless she really burnt the temp agency. They don’t usually junk a person just for not being picked up as a perm-role. They will still be able to make money off her elsewhere.

          1. Peaches*

            No worries!

            I agree with you on the temp agency – I’m sure they can make money off her elsewhere!

    6. Susie Q*

      How is she being laid off if the company is planning on replacing her? Being laid off means that the company does not need that position or doesn’t have the money to pay someone to take that position.

      1. Peaches*

        I don’t think she’s been “laid off”, but “fired in a nice way” (i.e., letting her stay on until she finds something else, or we find her replacement). The position is not being eliminated.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        She’s still under a temp agency, so she’s not being laid off at all regardless. It’s a straight up “we’re going in a different direction with this role.” setup. That’s the rub for temping.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        That definition may be the correct one, but I’ve seen other companies use it to mean the person was let go when they weren’t quite the right fit for the job, but also didn’t have major performance issues or attitude problems. For example, my very first job out of college told me I was laid off and not fired when I asked them to clarify. It was a position as an admissions counselor at a for-profit college, and I just wasn’t a good salesperson, which is essentially what that position is. They liked me personally, though, and ended up paying out my unused vacation time (the company had no policy or state requirement to do so) and giving me two weeks’ severance.

    7. no one*

      Someone is losing a job here. She is probably so stressed looking for new one and was just trying to save face. Who wants to go around telling people you’ve been fired?
      I’ve been let go too, they didn’t need my skills anymore.. my boss said we’ll just tell them it was a mutual decision. I remember finding a new one was hard, and telling them why is even tougher. I felt bad for her that she’s being called delusional.

      1. Peaches*

        I think it’s the fact that she’s offering (unprompted) information that she’s “leaving for an amazing opportunity” rather than just say nothing and leave when her time is up, that is causing people to call her delusional. No one asked her about her future endeavors – she choose to bring it up. Same with her comment about our boss “definitely wanting her to stay to train the new person.” She’s being let go for numerous performance issues that she is aware of. So why pretend that you’re so coveted here instead of again, just saying nothing? Also, she was given a lot of grace before being late go, and still chose to self destruct and not listen to direction. It just makes it difficult to feel bad for her.

          1. Miss Cheeks*

            Agreed, this whole thread seems really mean-spirited. What do you care if she’s trying to save face? Bad enough you’re mocking her to strangers on the internet.

          2. anon moose, anon mouse*

            Yup. But I find a lot of commenters on this site tend to find enjoyment in other people’s misfortune. See the helicopter parenting thread the other day as an example. It’s a lot of gleeful “and then they didn’t get the job and it was great!”

          3. Myrin*

            Have you read any of Peaches’s previous posts about this coworker, though? She’s been pulling quite unbelievable stunts for something like two months (I believe? Could be more), with Peaches’s actually being too understanding and accommodating in some situations, and I can totally understand being fed up with someone like this after they’ve been a thorn in your side for so long. It’s certainly not nice but honestly, after this woman’s behaviour, “civil” is the most she can expect.

            1. anon moose, anon mouse*

              I don’t think anyone should be expected to comb through previous posts to know what’s going on with someone. This isn’t anyone’s personal blog. The post came off as mean, so it’s understandable that people called it out as mean. They’re not required to go read up on the situation.

              1. Myrin*

                Of course they aren’t! But that also means that they don’t have the full picture and might be judging and mis-judging the situation accordingly. Those of us who have been following along know the trouble Peaches’s office went through with this person, which is why we’re siding with Peaches even in a thread where, if it were a standalone occurrence, she’d come across as mean. But if you don’t know the backstory – which, like you say, totally understandable – I think it’s fair to at least take her explanation (at 12:39 pm) at face value and not damn her and people siding with her based on incomplete knowledge of a situation.

                1. Peaches*

                  Again…thank you, Mryin!

                  Of course no one is expected to read the previous posts, but I do preface all of my posts with “just an update for those who have been following…” for this very reason. You do not have the full picture, and would understand my frustration with this person if you had, and realize there is absolutely no “unkindness” on my part when you factor in everything that had occurred with this coworker.

                  Just a couple weeks ago, readers were praising a constructive email I took the time to send my coworker, to aid her in turning things around, and not getting let go. Several commenters said they would love to have me as a coworker, and appreciated the eloquence in my email to her.She did NOT follow my advice whatsoever, which ultimately resulted in her demise.

                  So, please do not attack my character based on this standalone post (which is part of a MUCH bigger post!) I was overly kind to this coworker. She continued to be difficult and not follow direction. This is not a case of “she worked hard and everyone should feel bad that she’s being dismissed. It’s a case of “she was given many more chances than most people would have been given, and still chose to rub salt into her own wound.”

            2. Peaches*

              Thank you for commenting this, Myrin!

              As you mentioned, I have been overly understanding and accommodating with her for months, when others at my office did NOT give her the same grace.

              I don’t expect anyone to read previous posts, but I would really appreciate others not jumping to me being “mean spirited” and “unkind.” It’s simply not true.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        But she’s a temp! She has a built-in answer to why she left her last job: “It was an X month contract.”and she can roll into how it helped her decide that she really wants a permanent position as a….whatever they’re hiring.

    8. justcourt*

      I can’t imagine why this woman would want to sugarcoat an embarrassing, demoralizing occurrence. Surely all the employees at your office are the kind of people who would reassure her and pass along job ledes. No one would do anything so unkind as share her humiliation on the internet or call her delusional.

      1. Stardust*

        I mean, i agree with your first sentence on principle although the fact that shes bringing this up unprompted muddies the water a little. (As in, i’d be very sympathetic to her saying this if people kept pestering her about her future at the company but i’m less so if noone even cares but she keeps bringing it up anyway.)

        But apart from that, have you and the others who are critical of Peaches and her office read her other posts about this coworker? The office has had massive problems with this employee for months–i remember Peaches’ very first post about her, where she kept insisting on using Peaches’s personal iPad for work to the point where people were wondering if she was planning on stealing it or just weirdly obsessed with Peaches; she simply refused to do work; she lied about where she was when she was supposed to be on a field trip; etc. Peaches has also been extraordinarily kind when giving her coworker detailed feedback and when it seemed like coworker got it, Peaches was relieved and glad and willing to work with her.

        I can absolutely understand the office’s goodwill running out eventually after months of this crap.

    9. Dontlikeunfairrules*

      I actually had a long-term contract role where the person I was replacing/filling in for told me she wasn’t coming back after maternity leave because “she and her husband discussed it and came to the conclusion that she should stay home full-time after giving birth and her husband didn’t like the amount of stress this job put on her.” BUT – BUT !! the CEO and executive VP I interviewed with both told me that they told the girl that she was essentially not able to return due to her poor attitude and lack of ability in the job. They both told me this and said she was shocked and tried convincing them otherwise but they were adamant that she wasn’t going to return. The fact that she lied so smoothly to my face, without my even asking about the situation, made me feel embarrassed for her but also annoyed, because why did she need to even say anything about it?

      Anyway, same type of thing and it’s cringeworthy when it’s happening- just stop talking already!

  4. Lillie Lane*

    Is it worth trying to make a change in an industry/event that you are only tangentially involved in?

    I received a general invite to an industry conference in an area that I have some experience with, but it’s not my focus. I won’t be going to the conference. But I checked out the web site for the event. Out of 27 speakers at the conference last year, only one was a woman. None of the advisory board members are women.

    I don’t have any political capital in this industry, and I don’t have a desire to start a crusade or anything. However, I find the lack of diversity in this group to be very concerning and it makes me very wary to be involved in the group. Is it worth saying anything, or should I move on?

    1. Eeyore's missing tail*

      Are you close to anyone involved with the conference? If not, it might not do much good to note the lack of diversity. I’m sorry.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        No, unfortunately I’m far removed from anyone involved. It’s a broad area that involves several different major industries, and all of the people are at high levels in large companies that I don’t have any dealings with. I work at a little company that is pretty isolated.

        1. Eeyore's missing tail*

          That’s a bummer. Maybe after the conference you can send the organizers a note about how much you got out of the conference, but that you noticed a lack of diversity among the speakers?

            1. Sam Sepiol*

              She could say (if it’s true) that she might have attended if the panels were more balanced.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      If you feel strongly about it, it may not hurt to send the conference organizer a brief note saying how you were interested in attending until you saw the homogeneous nature of the panel speakers – this may be off-putting to others who are in your similar position.

    3. La la laaaa*

      I would! It can’t hurt, right? As long as you’re polite and considerate about it, I think it would be valuable for them to know that people are noticing that kind of thing. And even if you aren’t big enough in the industry to carry any capital at all, if anyone else offers the same feedback, you could be contributing to a critical mass that could foment some change.

    4. MintLavender*

      If you got invited, they care about your opinion. Doesn’t have to be a super high-stakes thing; “Thanks for the invite, unfortunately, I couldn’t help but notice that out of 27 speakers you hosted last year, only one was a woman, and that none of your advisory board members are women? There’s an increasingly popular movement for folks to decline speaking engagements at events that don’t have diverse speaking rosters, so I just wanted to flag that this is really concerning, and I hope you’re doing better this year than last. Thanks!”

    5. Lilysparrow*

      I think if you feel strongly enough to have the letter be your introduction to the industry, then others have suggested good wording.

      My personal inclination is to focus my efforts within my own sphere of influence.

      You said this conference is

      -Not in your segment of the industry;
      -Not one you would attend anyway;

      (aka, not your circus)

      -Not an area where you have any connections;
      -Not where you have any capital.

      (aka, not your monkeys).

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Unless you think it would damage your career or future options, you could send a note anyway, if you feel strongly about it.
          I’ve done things like that and sometimes actually seen change!

  5. Awful Office*

    Does anyone else ever feel put down for having an office job? Twice this week, I have heard from different people that they couldn’t stand working at a desk job in an office setting, that its soul sucking to work at a corporation that is only about making money. Once from my best friend, a freelance artists, and again from a podcast I love hosted by someone who works in the entertainment industry. Both cases, they seemed offended by the thought of office work.

    If I had my choice would I be doing office work? No, there are a million other things I’d like to do with my time. But I like the regular hours, steady paycheck and benefits, and reliable work tasks that allows me to do my job and go home every day to things I want to do. While I can’t speak to the life of the podcaster, I know my artist friend struggles with her bills, her health, and even her fun art because of the low pay and unreliable work of a freelancer.

    To hear several times this week about how awful office work is gets my negative thoughts rolling, even though I like my job, coworkers, pay and all that. Just made me wonder if others feel put down for the work they do.

    1. Snubble*

      I get that sometimes, but I like to emphasise the benefits in a way that… very gently calls them out for classist assumptions about what work should be? What I mean is, it’s a regular paycheque and everyone can appreciate that, but it’s also indoors in the warm and I get to sit down all day, so it’s really pretty good!

      1. alphabet soup*

        That’s a really important point. I grew up in a working class household– my mom was a bartender, my dad worked third-shift in a factory, I have great uncles who were migrant farmworkers, etc. I attended a prestigious LAC, which kind of gave me a weird sense of what work what should be– I had a lot of peers who bought into “office work makes you a sell-out– I want to do something exciting and creative!” mentality. But like, for my family office work is a privilege that comes with a steady paycheck and benefits. My dad applied to the factory that he worked at 30 times before they hired him– he wanted to work at that particular factory because he knew they offered great benefits. Office work is a great source of security that not many people in the world, relatively speaking, have access to.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I think that sometimes people talk that way about office work to make themselves feel better about their choices to do something else.

    2. LSP*

      I don’t take that personally. People saying that are generally referring to how *they* would react to having to work in an office setting. I don’t think most of those comments are making a judgement about people who do work in offices.

      Except the comment about working “just for money.”

      Yes, we work for money. That is how we afford what we need to live. Some people have lucked out and are able to just do what they love day-in and day-out and earn enough for food, shelter and clothing. The rest of us need to find other ways of earning money, which may mean working in an office. People who scoff at the idea of working for money are just really entitled, and that comment says more about them than it does about you.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        People who scoff at the idea of working for money are just really entitled

        Or incredibly idealistic and naive.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Honestly, I think naivete/idealism is more often the culprit than entitlement. I used to shudder with dread at the idea of being tied down to an office job, because to me (in my early-to-mid twenties) that represented capitulation to the dominant culture and a subsuming of my values and identity into Corporate America. It took an unfortunate amount of time for reality to get through the “follow your passion” nonsense I’d been inculcated with growing up, and eventually my outlook was less “yay, office jobs” and more “I need to eat, and hey, it’s better than retail.”

          And then I got lucky and made my way into the nonprofit sector, in a social justice organization that I believe in wholeheartedly, in a position where I can help people, and where I can be my less-than-perfectly-conformist self and be accepted as such. Younger-me was afraid because she didn’t have the life experience to realize such a thing was possible. Time and exposure to the working world helped. I think there are a number of people, especially younger folks, who’ve been raised on the “follow your dreams/leap and the net will appear/etc” mentality, and they develop this “ew, working for money” attitude because of it – but then they learn a bit more about how the world works and generally grow out of that.

          (Some people never will, of course – but I just really do think it’s idealism/naivete rather than entitlement at the root of this most of the time.)

          1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

            This is such a good point. As a younger millennial, I really feel like the “don’t sell out to a corporate job” thing was so present in media and pop culture as my generation was growing up. And then a lot of us realized that an office job can actually feel like a huge privilege when the economy is in crisis and you can barely find retail/service jobs, let alone afford to strike out and “follow your passion” and “be true to yourself.”
            That being said, I’m sure that parts of creative, artistic industries probably feel a little bit like a bubble, where no one in your circle is doing anything office-ish so it feels strange that anyone would want that. I think it’s similar to academia in that way – my partner is in academia, and has only ever been in academia, as have most of his peers, and sometimes I think they just don’t get why someone would work in an office.

            1. ket*

              I’m evolving in this too. I’m in academia right now, and have expressed horror in the past at jobs that seem to require you to sit in one place for a long time (or stand, or whatever) — my work style has always been “nomadic” in part because of the nature of what I do (you can grade and write anyplace; you must do classroom teaching in a classroom, not your office; there is often travel involved in my job). As I’m getting older, my idealism is being challenged in that increasingly it seems like I can’t make the change I want to see from academia. I am feeling like I need to move into corporate America because that’s where many directions are set, and even if I’ll be a cog there esp at first, I’ll be a cog that’s better understanding how power works in the US.

              The freelancer/solopreneur/independent creative lifestyle sells itself with the ability to make a difference on your own. I’ve tried it and I realize that I’m not the person who can run the business/be a great marketer/do the research/do the online class curriculum development/build a following/post great Instagram pics. (I mean, I can and have, I just hate a bunch of it and am not that great at it.) If I want to make change, I need to work with other people and leverage their strengths too, maybe join a larger organization that’s working on what I want to work on. An office job might actually be the more powerful venue.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            Yup, I had the same thought process when I was fresh out of school. Then those student loans came due, lol. Sallie Mae does not care one bit about my artistic integrity – these bills gotta get paid.

      2. Kiki*

        I agree with everything LSP said and want to add that sometimes people who say this are trying to justify (to themselves and others) why they don’t have all the benefits that come along with a regular ole office job. The reality is most people don’t adore office work– they need insurance and money.

        1. Caroline*

          Agree, this sounds a lot like projection and trying to justify (to themselves) a very difficult lifestyle choice. More power to them if they love it, but I’ve done full-time freelancing before and you pretty much have to constantly talk yourself out of taking a steady deskjob because of how tough it is just to stay afloat that way.

        2. Kendra*

          I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there; if you’ve spent most of your adult life feeling like you have to justify to your parents, family, friends, neighbors, random people in the supermarket, etc., why you don’t have a “real” job (as many people in creative fields do), it would probably be pretty easy to start mentally tearing more mainstream jobs down.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          I don’t love getting up early and corporate bs, but an office job suits me in other ways. I have health issues and I can work when I’m not feeling 100%, it’s comfortable, I can eat and drink while working. In many ways it’s much better than other environments. Maybe jealousy is a factor in the grumbling of freelancers.
          One thing to keep in mind for those who think they’d like an office job: the way the office looks doesn’t tell you whether the employer is good. I worked at an office that was in a vintage building in a lovely tree-lined neighborhood, the office had nice furniture, plants, a flower garden… and the job was a nightmare because of the toxic owner.
          I’ve seen other offices with gorgeous upscale furniture and decor, the people there wearing beautiful suits, hot drinks and food provided, etc. – that’s to impress the rich customers and the employer may or may not value their staff. You have to look at other things than the decor to determine if they’re a good employer.

      3. I hate the offseason.*

        As someone who has always had an office job, I love the security. I have relatives who are either chasing a dream or looking for a get rich quick scheme. You should see them twitch when they find out I will be eligible to retire at age 60 (less than 3 years!!) w/ a pension, a 401K, and other benefits. It may be boring on occassion, but I love security. I grew up in a financially insecure home (dad lives on social security and what money I send him), so that was a huge factor. It isn’t about the money, it is about the security (I’ve been fortunate that my position is secure).

        1. EH*


          I freelanced for about five years after I finished school, trying to break into the field I’d been training for and failing (it was crumbling, not hiring new people). When I finally took an office job, following in my Dad’s footsteps as a technical writer, the security and predictability were WONDERFUL. No more constant hustling for work, no driving all over to my several part-time/freelance gigs, etc. I got stuck contracting for a few years, and am finally salaried again – and loving it. I love the stability. I have a ton of debt from my freelance years, and until that’s paid off, I am a happy office worker bee.

          Sometimes it’s boring af, but if it were fun all the time they wouldn’t pay me nearly as much.

        2. Even Steven*

          Exactly this! For me – the security, the 401k, the health insurance, the cosy cubicle, the lovely big lunchroom, sitting all day LOL being warm & dry, no evening or weekend work, no back-breaking lifting. Most days I can’t believe my good fortune. My next-door neighbor owns a landscaping business and comes home wet, tired & aching every day. We make the same money, and are the same age, but he has none of my office perks, and looks 15 years older than I. If anyone were to criticize office work I would just laugh back.

          It’s interesting to me to see that many folks here have heard this criticism and its underlying message that creative work is more valuable than being stuck in a cube. Well, the cube jobs offer all of the long-term value-added that I described here, AND can finance creative pursuits during all the free time they afford. Win win!

      4. Long-time AMA Lurker*

        I get this all the time. I have an artistic background myself and have consciously chosen not to go into the freelancing/hustling lifestyle because I find I need steady benefits and a steady paycheck to *be* creative! I think most folks who balk at the idea of regular office work have never really…worked in an office, or at least a corporate setting. Whenever I hear someone from the art world throwing shade at regular 9-5s, I always cheerfully say, “I love the benefits!” and move on. Only you know what works best for your personality type and energy level, and I’ve found that for me personally, the dependability and work/life balance that comes from my office job far outweighs the love of “mission” that I’ve had in other jobs where my sense of balance (and most people’s professional boundaries…) were totally out of whack.

        Whenever I start feeling crappy about this, I check my 401K matching and daydream of my safe and reliable retirement.

        1. Anax*

          Likewise, I’m a creative sort but goodness, I would crash and burn in a freelance lifestyle. Why on earth would I want a job where I have to rustle up clients (who may well be jerks!), do my own marketing, and sell myself – when I can have a manager do that FOR me? And an HR department which will smack down bigoted views, with no cost to my paycheck?

          I know freelancing can come with a lot of freedom, but it would also come with a lot of job duties and compromises I don’t like.

          (I’m… also disabled, and having a job which accommodates that is pretty darn essential for me. An outdoors job or a freelance job would be really hard there, too.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I love my weekends off and paid vacation days & sick time. Often I love the challenge of individual projects and problem-solving. I also know that I’m in an industry that helps people in real life, so my little contribution makes a difference.

    3. KEG*

      Often people who feel the need to put down other situations are not entirely happy with their own!

    4. MuseumChick*

      I think this is one of those those things that has been very in vogue for a long time. Similar to “follow your dreams!” It’s a mentality that works really well in moves/TV shows but in the real world regular hours, healthcare, etc matter a whole lot.

      I would be very tempted to respond to those people with “Yup, my soul crushing job where I get X, Y, and Z benefits. Oh the humanity.”

      1. Faith*

        My response would be “Yes, this job just makes me wanna cry all the way to the bank”.

      2. Stornry*

        Not thrilled with office work, either, but I do love my “cushy government job” for the benefits (and pension!). When asked what I do, I just cheerfully say that “I’m a bureaucratic numbers-cruncher. I used to be a bureaucratic paper-pusher, but I moved up.”

        Then I get in my (new) car and go to my (nearly fully paid for) home and do whatever I feel like doing.

        1. Eeyore's missing tail*

          That’s the best part of working for the state. The salary is not always the greatest, but the benefits and pension are fantastic.

    5. Eeyore's missing tail*

      Yes. I cannot tell you how many time I hear that people can’t imagine how I can put up with working in an office, not being outside, not following my dreams, etc, etc. To me, my job is means to an end. Like you said, it’s a decent steady paycheck, great benefits, and it allows me to do what I want. Several of my close friends work in the service industry and when they comment on how awful it must be to work in an office, I just say there are worse places to work and change the subject. Occasionally, I through out some of my more awesome benefits (like that I’m working on a degree for free while I work my office job), and they usually get pretty quiet after that.

      1. Jaid*

        They work in a service industry and think your job is awful? What do they do, sell unicorn candy and trade in the happy dreams of children?

        1. CMart*

          I will admit to occasionally missing bartending. The sociability, the banter*, the energy and natural workout, the sheer fact of getting paid to hang out in a bar and talk to people out to have a good time etc…

          But the bad parts (no healthcare, wear and tear on my body, the hours, the harassment, the stress, the feast/famine nature of seasonality) outweighed all of that and the bad parts* of my accounting job don’t even come close to touching those.

          * I really suspect the service industry folk who rail against the horrors of office life are mostly picturing a world in which they can’t “be themselves” and have to censor their language/personality, or not slack people on asses etc… the brash camaraderie that can be both a joy and a hazard of service work. Wearing a monkey suit and saying things like “let’s circle back and talk about synergy” does sound pretty lame.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I’m surprised too. I used to work in fast food, and if I’m having a bad day at work, I remind myself how much worse that was. I mean, it wasn’t absolutely terrible, but you’re on your feet all day, and some of the customers are pains.

      2. raisingsand*

        I am on the back end of this situation, at 62 years old. Many (most) of my friends are lifelong artists and musicians. I received a LOT of these comments in my thirties. I know my close friends love me, but there was a pretty thick layer of entitlement due to their assessment of their talent, and some elitist attitude, too. I had NO talent, enjoyed working, and was good at it. I also valued security and had a family to provide for and took that seriously. After 30 years, I have a great job, good insurance, a pension and 401K. I’m set for retirement in a few years as soon as I’m eligible for government insurance. Most of my artistic friends now have regrets, as they age and deal with medical issues and life just gets harder. I did a lot of soul-searching when I was young on this issue, and ultimately did what I thought was best for me. I have no regrets.

    6. LaDeeDa*

      This week I had someone say to me that what I do for a living- Leadership Development, isn’t a real job “you can’t teach people to be leaders.” It is a $14 billion a year industry, over 15,000 new books on leadership have already been published this year… UGGGG. I just had to take a deep breath and walk away.
      Ultimately, they have no idea what you do or how what you do makes you feel, so it just doesn’t matter. but it is really hard not to feel put down when someone, especially a close friend, says something like that.

      1. Ama*

        That’s also such a dumb statement because of COURSE you can teach people to be leaders — and in fact, I’ve come to believe that you HAVE to teach people if you want good leaders and not just people who think that being a leader means “what I say goes.”

        1. Jadelyn*

          OMG absolutely – leadership is a learned skill. Nobody is born knowing exactly how to lead. Some people take to it and figure it out more naturally than others, but there’s a whole bundle of related skills needed to be a really good leader, and why *wouldn’t* you want that to be teachable?

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        That’s like saying that since some people have an natural aptitude for math, “you can’t teach people math.” I think walking away is the right approach there.

      3. Alice*

        That is frustrating! And you’re quite within your rights to disengage.
        May I suggest, though, that if you do ever want to persuade someone that leadership can be taught, starting with the size of the industry might not be the most effective approach. Homeopathy is a $15 billion/year industry, but that doesn’t make homeopathy real. Maybe emphasizing the satisfaction of your customers would make the point that leadership training can be taught.

      4. Michaela Westen*

        Once a friend of a friend said my job is made-up and not real on Facebook. When I challenged her she spent days posting insults and ranting. Niiiiice.
        Maybe one day she’ll grow up, but I’m not holding my breath on that.

      5. Batgirl*

        They probably believe you can’t teach people anything and that people come into the world fully formed according to race, class and gender. Source; how we pay/respect teachers because of course it’s just glorified baby sitting. You can’t teach how to be smart!

    7. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Oh yes, my brother in law calls me, my husband and the other brother “pencil pushers.” The three of us have hobbies outside of our jobs so we’re fine with our careers, but he likes to implicate that he does “real work.” Whatever dude….we just roll our eyes.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The comments may be coming from a place of deep insecurity. Sometimes, people will try to make themselves feel better by insulting the thing. You have a steady paycheck, benefits, predictable hours/schedule. Yes, there are downsides to working in an office, but there’s also a lot of downsides to NOT working in an office.

      Practically speaking, I would gently ask my friend not to diss my life. She’s made her choices, you’ve made yours, and while they’re different, neither of you deserve to be insulted for those choices. If friend isn’t willing or able to do that, then you may need to take a step back from the relationship for a bit.

    9. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I did until I reframed it in my mind. My job is my job, it’s not me. It allows me to pursue my hobbies and the things I like. I am not WannabeDisneyPrincess: Office Peon. I am WannabeDisneyPrincess: Daughter, Best Friend, Chinchilla Owner, Traveler, Makeup Collector, Coffee Drinker, etc…who works in an office.

      1. Isotopes*

        I push my pencil and do accounting all week and then camp and dirt-bike and shoot guns (at targets) on the weekend. And go on vacations and spoil my niece and nephews. I’ve had people tell me that they feel like I should have an “awesome, interesting” job because I “seem like a cool person.” Yeah, I can do all those cool things because I have a secure office job.

        My job is about the last interesting thing about me, and I don’t have a problem with that.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          I’m single and when people ask “What do you do” I’ve started answering with my hobbies and interests. Then finish up with “I do x,y,z for work.” It might sound silly, but verbally separating my identity from my job did wonders for not only combatting burnout but for beating myself up about not having a fascinating job.

          1. only acting normal*

            I once saw a comedian distinguish between the North and South of England: in the South if you ask someone what they do they’ll tell you their job, in the North they’ll tell you about their prize petunias.
            I know which seems healthier to me (I live in the South, but I’m also not English). :)

    10. Catsaber*

      Yes, I’ve had those same feelings/experiences. There’s a way to say “office work is not for me” that’s not condescending to people who choose that path. I knew a woman once who just really hated having bosses – she only wanted to be self-employed. That’s great! Go for it! You do you! But she would make all sorts of little comments about how much better she was for not being “tied down” and “ordered around” and could “fully be myself.” It was annoying. I just had to ignore her and remind myself that we had different personalities, and different priorities.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah, I left a field where I could have had a LOT more autonomy and not been locked into an office space or hours because it required a lot more marketing yourself and chasing down grant money, and I found that incredibly stressful. It seems like self-direction and flexibility tend to go hand-in-hand with higher levels of risk and uncertainty. Some of us don’t deal well with that, while on the other hand we don’t all feel any real need to “fully be myself” at work (whatever that means).

        1. Catsaber*

          Simply put, she really bristled at being told what to do. And that’s fine! Go live your life! Just don’t insinuate that the rest of us are sell-outs because we don’t mind working within a hierarchy.

          I had career plans to be a college professor and when I started looking at all the risk and uncertainty there (and just how many freakin’ COMMITTEES I’d have to serve on), I decided it wasn’t the life for me!

    11. londonedit*

      Ugh, yeah, it’s a lazy comment to make and one I hear a lot. ‘Office work’ can mean so many different things! I’ve had similar comments from freelance friends since I went back to an in-house office job – yes, there are some things about freelancing that I miss, but having a ‘normal’ office job (still doing the work I was doing on a freelance basis before) means I have sick pay, paid holidays, a regular income, a fun working environment and actual interactions with other people on a daily basis. Office work doesn’t have to mean toiling away for ‘the man’ in total drudgery.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        I quit corporate work when I was fortunate enough to sell some books to a major publisher. I supplemented that money with freelance gigs, which was all fine and dandy until the book money dried up without more sales. Then I couldn’t quite make enough with the freelance gigs and it became REALLY stressful trying to dredge up enough clients and fight to get the money some of them owed me and…long story short, I also went back to having a full-time corporate job. It is way less stressful and, because of that, I’m actually writing more fiction than I have in years because I’m not so freaking anxious all the time.

        Obviously if I ever win the publishing lottery and make a ton of money off books again, I might consider leaving the corporate world a second time. But in the meantime I am very happy to have a good job making good money and benefits and having much less stress.

    12. The Rain In Spain*

      In the past (when I was not thrilled with my job) I would just say: oh well it’s great you don’t work for a corporation then, isn’t it? Depending on how well I know the person of course, after all they are expecting you to agree.

      Now I tell people I actually feel very lucky to be in a role where I enjoy my work and atmosphere, and that the work-life balance lets me pursue my hobbies and passions as well. Then they typically backpedal or express surprise, but the vibe shifts back to more positive conversation.

      Different employment situations work well for different people!

    13. CatCat*

      I work in an office AND for the government so it’s a double-whammy. (I swear, there’s a column in our local paper that exists for the sole purpose of hating on government workers.) I find the digs at working for the government the worst.

      1. Stornry*

        So true! at least I get the benefit of saying it’s the Library. Most people like libraries.

      2. UK Civil Servant*

        Ha! Tell me about it. :)

        I started reading the first of a popular series of fantasy books and had to give up because the lead character’s main personality trait was how much he loathed and despised his fellow civil servants. Beyond setting up that he didn’t like his job (fine!) it got offensive fast.

    14. Not Me*

      Honestly, the thought of being a freelance artist or working in the entertainment industry both sound soul sucking and I wouldn’t be able to stand doing either. You could find someone to say that about pretty much every job on the planet.

      What matters is that you’re happy in your job, not what others think about it.

      1. Engineer Woman*

        Yes, this! I wouldn’t survive on my art skills (cause there aren’t any!).

        And what companies exist solely to make money? I mean: don’t most companies provide a service or product that people want? Let’s say I work for an auto manufacturer – people need and want cars! Or even the dreaded Dept of Motor Vehicles (one of my nightmare places to go / hence seems awful to work at) BUT people need drivers licenses and to register their cars!

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          Well, we’re all working within a capitalist system in which everyone’s supposed goal is to enrich themselves as much as possible. So in many ways, companies do just exist to make money. Providing things people need is just a happy side benefit that can be dropped as soon as it becomes more profitable (See every company who provides worse products and services because it’s cheaper and their customers can’t leave them)

          Of course, demanding to work for a purely philanthropic organization just isn’t realistic for most people. You would have to overhaul the entire system to do so. So unless and until that happens, you probably have to work for a for-profit company and make the best of it.

    15. Overeducated*

      Yes, just last week I had a relative tell me he is sorry and wishes for my sake that I were out in the field again instead of at a desk. I was like “yeah, me too, but the desk job pays about twice as much and the benefits are pretty good…” I didn’t mention that I think there are more opportunities for advancement back to a higher level more field-based position from where I am now than if I insisted on only doing “fun” work (because that’s not what they pay and promote people for!), but that is also true.

    16. Queen of the File*

      Oh yes, constantly. Most of my acquaintance circle is made up of musicians and freelancers. Their reactions to my job range from what I would call polite incomprehension to unfiltered pity and disdain. I’ve also had people tell me to my face that I am living their literal worst nightmare of a life. I respect that people have different tolerances and priorities but that is pretty rude!

      However, I am noticing a few more speak up about being envious of my relative financial security as we all age. I am sure they have also felt or been judged and put down for their lack of a steady paycheck or “real job” too.

      We all have certain privileges, and I know I am nowhere near what most people’s actual “worst nightmare of a life” might be.

      1. only acting normal*

        Worst nightmare? Yeah, I’ll take my desk job with the too cold aircon and the wrangling with computers and the occasional day of death by PowerPoint (and paid holiday, and a pension) over sulfur mining or electronic waste stripping thanks!

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          Maybe they would also like an oppressive and murderous totalitarian regime of their local variety to spice things up a bit?

    17. Mimi Me*

      I love my office job – both for the reasons you listed above and because of the work I do.
      My husband recently changed fields as well as jobs due to burnout. He used to work as a manager in Residential Treatment and now is a driver for a pet crematorium. Very different fields. A now former friend of ours was actually very cruel when he discovered what my husband does now. He called it disgusting, vile, and said that he didn’t know how my husband could get out of bed every morning to do a job like that. My husband actually loves his job. He gets to meet interesting people, he interacts with animals (alive!) at Vet’s offices every day, he gets to see the sun every day and be outside in it, he gets paid significantly more than his last job, and he loves that his job provides a service for people who’ve lost a loved one. My husband said that he thinks former friend doesn’t understand that not every job has to be the same.
      I think your friend and the podcaster don’t understand either. Office job, driver, artist, podcaster…. go ahead and like the work you do, but don’t crap on someone else for liking something different.

      1. Catsaber*

        That sounds like a great job for my husband! How did he get into that, if you don’t mind sharing?

      2. not really a lurker anymore*

        I never considered how the remains get to and from the crematoriums. I didn’t realize that was a job. So thank you for broadening my horizon today!

      3. Silver Fig*

        I really wish your husband’s job was a thing in my area. My vet takes the animals to the crematorium herself and I have to pick them up, and it’s SO far away. An 80-minute drive each way while snot-sobbing is not particularly fun or safe.

      4. only acting normal*

        I get why it wouldn’t suit everyone, but can’t see any way it’s “vile” or “disgusting”! It’s providing a kind service to bereaved people – that’s lovely! Good on your husband.
        (I can see why they’re a former friend.)

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          That baffled me too. Does this friend think that people work in mortary services because they just love death and sorrow or something?

    18. twig*

      I’ve heard that (and thought that in the past when I worked at not-good and not-good-culture-fit places). It’s kind of the sibling of “JUST an admin/secretary” thinking.

      I’m creative-minded and not career driven. My job is there to fund my “real” life.

      Another one that I’ve run across, coming from a primarily working class family, is that I don’t have a “real” job or don’t do “real” work because I sit in front of a computer all day. (or even that I should be making TONS of money because I have a degree and I sit in front of a computer all day) (for reference, I have 2 degrees: literature and creative writing. I’m and administrative assistant at a state university)

      My current theory on work is: There are 3 important things to take into consideration in a job:
      1. The company — what they do, how ethical they are etc
      2. The People I work with
      3. The compensation & Benefits

      If I can get at least 2 out of the three to a place that I like, I’m golden.

      In my current job: I love the place I work — it’s a university, how can I not get behind the mission? The people I work with are great — smart, friendly, helpful, quirky at times. The pay is… Okay (see: state university in a state where education funding has not yet returned to pre-2008 levels). The benefits, however, are fabulous, including 3 weeks each PTO and sick leave annually, decent health insurance, education benefits etc.

      Another thing to take into account: who else is going to do these jobs? Especially as an administrative assistant, we are the glue that holds companies/universities/etc together and keep things running smoothly.

      The podcaster: They know THEIR life and what worked for them. The same for your artist friend — her tolerance for financial instability may be higher than yours. There’s nothing wrong with that! To each, their own!

      1. Anon for Today*

        This has been my experience as well. My working class in-laws treat office work as “not really work” or a “cushy job.” I think this comes from the fact that most of them have blue collar type jobs that are physically active and when they do have downtime at their jobs, they can watch videos or play on the internet (as they have informed us – I am sure that is not true in many place). I truly believe that is what they think we do all day.

        The funny thing is that the comments stopped after we were on a family vacation and both my husband and I both had to do some work. It somehow hit home that our cushy office jobs did require real work and that while when they were on vacation they were not expected to do any work or check in, we did not have that option and we still required to be on top of things in the office. (To be fair, both our companies are great about not requiring work on vacations – this was a weekend trip to the beach and we kinda used work as a way to get out of “all family togetherness at all times events.”)

        1. Anon for Today*

          This didn’t next where I expected it too. It was in response to another comment about relatives who felt office jobs weren’t real work. I can’t find it now?

    19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My family often says things that aren’t necessarily “great” and allude to my life being “easy” and office work being a walk in the park but that’s out of their wrong assumptions on what office work is all about. All my family is from a long line of laborers, so I’m the one who is the weirdo among them. Thankfully they don’t act like it’s torture and they could never do it for that purpose! I just hate being made to feel lazy [even though most jobs have me regularly active and doing much more than an “office” job, they don’t get it though].

      You cannot internalize their negativity. It’s poison! They are not being malicious, just blissfully ignorant. Pay your bills, enjoy your life, it stinks to have an outlook like they do!

    20. Karen from Finance*

      I used to get this a lot, because I used to hang out a lot with artists, aspiring writers and poets. I was one too, only I was the ONE person there who also had a day job. I got those types of comments all the time, like I was a sellout and it’s sooo boring and how nobody there could stand it. It gets old really fast. So much commiseration.

      I… don’t really hang out with that crowd anymore.

    21. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s odd, because a lot of the artists I know need an office job as their day job to pay rent and get health insurance, and they prefer it to be as boring an office job as possible so they have energy to do art on the evenings and weekends.

    22. Sleepy*

      I once took a few weeks off from my office job to freelance on a (non-Hollywood) film set. It was some the worst and most tedious work I’ve ever experienced. At least cashiering ended after an 8 hour shift. One of the other workers was saying “oh this is boring but at least it’s not office work.” He was speechless when I told him this was a lot more boring than my office job.

      Also, sometimes the cool industries aren’t as cool as you think they’re going to be.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I have this conversation with students regularly. The so-called glamour industry (e.g, advertising, finance/banking, etc.) doesn’t mean the entry level job is glamorous. I ask them “if it’s so glamorous, why do all these companies recruit so heavily every year? Because there’s turnover when people find out they’re not suited to, or not interested in, the required work.

    23. Tuppence*

      I took the unusual step from being self-employed through my late 20s – early 30s to move back into an office environment.

      My first full-time job out of university was as an office administrator. I HATED that office. It was soul-destroying work, no-one ever spoke to each other, and I was miserable. After they fired me (!) I decided that office work clearly wasn’t for me. I worked as a sales assistant for a while, I taught English abroad for a while, then I turned a hobby into self-employment. Which was fine, except that I was flat broke all the time, had intermittent mental health struggles, and ended up temping to make some much-needed cash.

      And I discovered that not all offices are the same.

      Several years on, I’ve moved up in the field I accidentally fell into. I work in a fulfilling and challenging role in an organisation whose work I respect, I have a decent salary, and am never expected to work beyond core working hours so I can pursue the things I enjoy – my hobbies and travel – outside work. Sure it would be nice to have more time to focus on fun stuff, but if at any point I decide that’s a priority, I always have the option to quit my job and “pursue my dream” again. For the moment though, I’m okay with not being poor.

      1. KR*

        Yes! Not all offices are the same. I’ve been working traditional office jobs for years that also involve going out to the field and working with my hands occasionally. Best of both worlds.

    24. hbc*

      Honestly, people like that deserve to have this turned back against them. “I prefer getting my money from a corporation rather than tarnishing my passions with capitalism.” Or “I’m pretty sure that it would be tough to make a living off of your passion without the millions of office workers who [route trucks full of art supplies/keep the internet working/whatever] and probably feel like they still have souls.”

    25. helpless desk guy*

      don’t feel bad. just make a note of it, and once you’re comfortably retired and enjoying the fruits of your labors, and your artist friend is still living in a cramped apartment with messy roommate trying to make ends meet wondering where his next months rent will come from, be sure to point out to your friend that you’re sure glad you had that soul sucking job.

    26. LunaLena*

      I’m a graphic designer, so a lot of people assume that my big dream is to eventually leave my workplace and become a freelancer with all the trimmings: being my own boss, working on passion projects, creating my own schedule and taking off whenever I want, etc. They’re surprised when I respond that no, actually I prefer my 8-5 office job, and I have no desire to freelance full-time and would only consider it if I won the lotto.

      Aside from what others have said about stable income and benefits, there are a lot of reasons I don’t freelance. Freelancing isn’t just about doing the work you love; it also means you’re the customer service rep, accounts payable/receivable, business owner/manager, tax accountant, etc. I don’t want to spend my time chasing down clients who haven’t paid their bills, I became a graphic designer because I want to graphic design. Being in an office job, where there are other people around to handle the other stuff, means that that’s what I get to do.

      In addition to that, I’ve found that freelance work is just not for me. I did the work-as-a-contractor-from-home thing for a short period of time, and found that it was very very bad for me. I personally enjoy having a physical space that is away from my home, so I can keep work and personal life separate and maintain a good balance. When I worked from home, I couldn’t keep it separate, and I ended up working the entire day and skipping meals constantly. There are some people who can make it work, but I simply can’t, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that and consciously choosing a healthier option.

      I do freelance work on the side occasionally, but when I do it really is for fun and because I feel like it. Knowing it’s not my main source of income keeps it stress-free and means I can pick and choose only the project that sound interesting to me, and that’s just the way I like it.

      1. Queen of the File*

        I wish I had heard this before preparing for a career in a freelance-heavy field. You really do have to be reasonably good at all the roles you mentioned in order to make it work. Personally, I couldn’t handle the self-promotion and networking.

    27. Kenzi Wood*

      I’m sorry this happened! Just like freelance/starting a business, office jobs are better suited to some people. I don’t think we should disparage anybody who chooses either path. Both have benefits and downsides.

      I did jump from a 9-to-5 to starting my own biz, and as it turns out, I like it SO much better than being in an office. I think us freelancers tend to get passionate about decrying the 9-to-5 because we didn’t realize, at the time, how wrong it was for us. I think we hope that our realization might help others who secretly feel like they aren’t in the right place.

      But shaming of any kind shouldn’t be happening. You need to be where it’s best for you. Everybody should keep an open mind and understand that office life is fine for many, many people. I’m just not one of them. :)

    28. Angela*

      Honestly I’ve seen the opposite- I’m the only one in a group of friends with a typical 9-5 office job, and I feel bad because they’re the ones always struggling to go to events, not knowing their schedules very far in advance, not sure if they can take time off work, and having to work weekends. Even though one of them is paid very well and has a rewarding, very unique job, they still end up missing out on things because of schedule constraints. For them, getting the weekend off is always iffy. More than once I’ve gone to something and a friend has to miss out or arrive half way through because of their work schedule.

      So I’m very thankful for my office job. I know what time I can leave each day, I can stay a bit late or leave a bit early if needed, and I know I have weekends to enjoy and go to concerts, events, birthdays, what have you. I have a cube I can decorate in fun ways and the dress code is pretty relaxed, so I can have fun with that too.

      But most importantly, for me work is what enables me to live the rest of my life. My work *isn’t* my life, so it’s okay if it’s boring from time to time. That’s the way I look at it!

    29. I don’t post often*

      Just want to throw in my two cents as someone who had a really awesome job in my earl and mid 20s. I thought at the time I had that job, “ugh. What am I going to do if I every have to work in teapot finance, that sounds SO boring. How do people go to work everyday?” Then in 2008 when I was laid off, the best job I could find was in teapot finance. I took because the bills had to be paid. Guess what? Jobs in teapot finance are stable- no job insecurity every 18 months, no serving at Will with a member of Congress- benefits are great, healthcare is awesome, and 401ks are extremely good. Oh and working for a large company means that, yes sometimes you are just a number, but raises are more likely, FMLA is always offered, and there is probably some type of maternity leave. 10 years later as a parent I also appreciate the steady hours. No 2am phone calls. Always home at breakfast and dinner. Never thought I would be here 10 years later but I wouldn’t go back.

    30. vampire physicist*

      The responses to this were really interesting actually not only to hear that it’s a common experience, but also the different directions it comes from – both people in more outdoor/physical jobs, and people in artistic/freelance jobs.
      But yeah, I tend to go with a general “different things work for different people, and stability and a reasonable work/life balance are my priorities, but it’s not for everyone.”

    31. Art3mis*

      I remember once my hairstylist say she could never work in an office. I said I could never work on my feet all day let alone with the public. I don’t think she was putting office work down any more than I was putting down what she does. Different strokes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Agreed. I could not sit down, I had to be up and moving around. A while back I figured out older me now needed to sit down. The only time I can picture me commenting like this is if a person was complaining about their job. In other words, it would be hidden support of sorts, such as, “I have no idea how you do it. I would have given up a long time ago because of not being able to sit all the time. Then this New Thing is now happening? I’d be over the edge.”

      2. KR*

        Hoo boy agreed about not working with the public. Working for my company in my position means I can focus on my work and I don’t have to deal with external customers at all because there’s a whole customer service division of the company that’s completely separate from what I do. I hate working with the public even though I’m pretty good at it and being in stable job at an extremely large company means I have the freedom to turn down opportunities to work with the public

        1. Art3mis*

          Our customer service department pays better than my job and I am still not interested in working there. No thank you.

    32. Damn it, Hardison!*

      A relative once went on and on about how she could never work in an office job, it was so boring. Blah blah blah. Then asked me for money, because she was unemployed. The irony was lost on her.

    33. KR*

      I tend to roll my eyes a bit at that type of talk. I work one of those office jobs in a role that is very much about money and I love it. I love working with financials and making money for my team & my company and they pay me well for it.

      Also, I am a person who really values security. My mental health really deteriorates without a job and a way to make my own money and I love having a stable income. It gives me piece of mind. Some people are willing to sacrifice to be in a creative field like podcasting/freelancing but you’re no less a person for wanting something more stable. I think when your friend says stuff like this she may be trying to make herself feel better about her position and not realize she is inadvertently dissing you. I think you could light-heartedly say something like “Oy! I’m currently working one of those jobs and I love it! Don’t hate!”

      1. twig*

        As a fellow state uni worker, let me just say on all of our behalf: “F*ck those MOtherf*ckers” (sorry that’s my automatic outrage response these days).

        Education is important. Especially state funded education.

      2. DerJungerLudendorff*

        Yeah, how dare you take a paycheck in exchange for public services. *eyeroll*

    34. MissDisplaced*

      No… but I come from a very working class blue-collar family and they often make comments about my “office” work because they honestly do not understand what it is I actually do for a living. But it’s also an education thing, because I’m the only one in my family to have gone this far in college (master’s degree) while most of them only have high school, and several didn’t even finish high school. So, often I do hear the whole parroting of the “college is a waste of money” talk as well. It’s annoying.

    35. Pommette!*

      Oh yeah!
      I am (desperately) trying to leave an exciting and rewarding “passion” field for an office job. The precarity and unpredictable (but predictably long) hours have eroded my love for the field and my ability feel enthusiasm for my work and, at this point, pretty much anything at all. I realized that I actually enjoy some of the mundane tasks that make up a small part of my role, and relish the prospect of spending more of my time doing similar, if more complex work. Goodbye, passion field!
      I have started to tell people in my life, and have been shocked by the reactions. Even people who know me well enough to know that I am deeply miserable and far from thriving act as if making the transition to “boring” office work were some great tragedy. It’s disturbing.
      There’s definitely a classist element to the reactions. I was raised to think that I could be anything, that my career (not job) would define me, and that working for the money was “crass” – a set of assumptions that have made leaving much harder. My parents obviously feel a great loss about not being able to brag about my interesting job anymore.
      Like, you people do realize that lots of things you enjoy and benefit from are run by people doing “boring” jobs in offices, right? And that those people get to go home and do interesting things in their free time?

    36. Muriel Heslop*

      Heck no! I teach middle school. Most people physically recoil or shudder then say, “That sounds horrible!” or “Better you than me!” when they hear what my job is. Some just make a face. Rarely people will say, “That must be so rewarding!” but they usually don’t mean it or are really old.

      That said: I couldn’t go back to an office job. But I do miss being able to pee whenever I want.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        That is my #1 requirement for my next job, being allowed to go to the bathroom reasonably around the time I need to.

    37. Mama Bear*

      Some people see it as selling out or it’s simply not something they would enjoy. Good for them if they have other options. Good for you if you like an office and a steady 9-5. There are struggles being a freelancer that I no longer want, though the flexibility was nice.

      My response would vary on the source. A close friend or family member I would tell that I am actually happy in my job and I want them to stop the negativity about my profession. A podcaster I would ignore.

    38. Interplanet Janet*

      This is one of those things that human beings do without thinking.

      The most common example that I see is people talking about whether or not they did/will go back to work after becoming parents. It’s a real choice, with pros and cons, and it feels kind of loaded in a way that makes it a Choice-with-a-capital-C. So people kind of … keep talking through their choice. I think they’re kind of half talking to themselves with this stuff. Their brain says, “if you hadn’t gone back to work, you could go on that field trip to the zoo with your first grader,” and the logic that they already freaking thought through says, “yeah, but then my brain wouldn’t get to solve coding puzzles and we wouldn’t be able to go on vacation to London next summer.” And then sometimes, because humans are sometimes lacking in useful filters, the rebuttal comes out their mouths.

      So maybe your friends with no benefits that are painting street art for tips (which I know is an exaggeration) look at your benefits and regular paycheck and think to themselves, “self, if you took an office job, you too could have those niceties in your life” and then they remind themselves of the reasons they made a different choice, and verbalize those reasons.

    39. alphabet soup*

      Not put down, but judged. When I was younger, I had a lot of creative, artistic friends, and we were all very anti-establishment and self-righteous. When I got to my late twenties, it was hard for me to admit to myself that I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not being able to afford groceries. I felt like a sellout, but I gave in and joined the corporate world. I was so surprised to discover that the work wasn’t soul-sucking and dreadful, but instead I found new ways to apply my creativity. And I learned that just because someone works in an office, it doesn’t mean they’re not creative– a lot of my co-workers are musicians or writers or painters, but you just wouldn’t know it unless you get to know them. And of course, I really like having stability in my life and being able to pay my bills and occasionally buy nice things.

      I admire the creative folks who manage to make a living from their art, but sometimes that sounds really exhausting to me. I have a friend who makes a living as a freelance dance instructor– she loves her work and says she could never work in an office because she can’t sit still all day. But she works 7 days a week and sometimes the only way she’s able to make rent is by eating nothing but eggs and canned beans all month. Sometimes it seems like she’s living to work, instead of working to live, you know?

      I like being able to work M-F, and then on weekends I read philosophy and write poetry and don’t have to worry about how I’m going to make money from that. It’s nice.

    40. ECHM*

      I love my office job. It’s part-time but people are really flexible and friendly, and it’s a good use of my skills. While I miss the job I had where I was out in the community much more, this is a good place for me at this time in my life.

    41. Professional Merchandiser*

      I hate office work, and that’s why I do what I do. HOWEVER, I don’t look down on people who work in offices, where would we be without good office workers, or good retail folks, or good servers for that matter? I get a lot of comments about my line of work, too. This is something you either love or hate.

    42. Office Cube Dweller*

      In the past few years I’ve had three separate friends leave their corporate jobs to pursue their artistic dreams. During this time they’ve been quite pushy that I too should “become my own boss” and “follow my creative dreams”, to the point where it’s been annoying to hang out with them at times.

      However, also in the past few years, I’ve had enough PTO to take 2-3 paid vacations a year, was able to use 2 weeks of paid sick leave for a health emergency, became vested in my company’s pension plan, and have never once had to work on a weekend.

      If I had a side career I was passionate about I might have considered doing my own thing, but as my creative activities (dance and running) don’t really lend themselves to paying careers, I felt like they were only pushing me so we’d all be in the same boat? But as it is truly I prefer being able to clock out at 5pm and have my evenings and weekends all to myself!

    43. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t, because I know so many writers with day jobs. Or who had day jobs. In fact, I just listened to a podcast interview with Chuck Wendig and he talked about trying to get a mortgage as a freelancer. Even though he was making fairly good money, they were like, “Nope,” and so he got a regular job. Then when he got the mortgage, he quit, lol.

      Because of the way we devalue creative work, it’s not possible for a lot of folks to only do that. There’s nothing wrong with doing office work to sustain yourself, even if the things you like to do aren’t necessarily creative.

      1. Pommette!*

        The tension between writing and having a day job is a really interesting one – and maybe more interesting and complicated than most tensions between artistic practice work and laboring for money work?

        I understand that writing is a craft that can only be perfected through a lot of practice, and that it takes time to write and revise any piece of writing. And I understand why many writers who can avoid it having a bill-paying day-job do so, or have a job that is writing focused (like teaching writing). And I respect that, and do think that we would gain a lot of great art if we valued and supported artistic and other kinds of creative pursuits better…

        But at the same time, some of the most interesting writing I’ve seen has been produced by people who had to work for money, and did, and experienced interesting things in the process that they subsequently wrote about.

        I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that!

    44. Half-Caf Latte*

      I feel like I see this more and more from the MLM huns. Lots of “my job isn’t a pyramid scheme, a pyramid scheme is CEO- managers – staff” “My MLM is so great because I set my own hours /work from my phone/don’t have to get dressed and go to an office every day.”

      It’s mom-shaming flaming garbage.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Ugh, exactly. Somehow they never mention having to fork over money up front for the product and then having to push product on every single person around them and monthly quotas, plus the recruiting! And if all their friends did it too, who would they even sell to??

      2. FormerlyArlington*

        Yes, and they always wear tee shirts bedazzled with things like #momboss and act as if they truly “have it all.” But few of those MLMs are profitable and I hate how they use mom guilt to lure new moms away from their oppressive cubicles and family health insurance with false promises.

    45. Anne (with an “e”)*

      I’m a teacher. I’ve heard all my life, “How could you be a teacher?!?! Oh, the horror!” Also, many people think teachers are stupid and beneath them. I’ve run into this attitude my entire career from numerous people, including family members. Well, I like teaching. I like my job. I like my days off. I like my steady paycheck. I like my benefits. I like my pension. Overall, life is good. :) Also, it takes all types to make the world go around.

      1. tangerineRose*

        So weird that they say that. I mean, we need teachers in society. If they don’t want to teach, they should be glad that you and others are teaching.

    46. Moonbeam Malone*

      I’ve noticed a lot of people in creative freelance assume freelance is just the universal ideal for every creative person, when it actually really depends! I hate freelance! Some creative people do still function best with more structure and stability. I guess the assumption is sort of a side effect of a human tendency to try to place everyone into broad categories instead of recognizing that within any given group you’ll still find a really diverse array of traits and preferences.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m a writer, singer, and actor, and I absolutely function best with stability. I grew up poor and never wanted to struggle like that as an adult, so I went and got a day job that led to me finding careers – I’m thriving now and get to live the life I’ve always dreamed of. I wouldn’t have all of the amazing things I have now (e.g. extensive and fabulous wardrobe, a beautiful apartment in a luxury building in the bustling downtown of a major city, decent healthcare and a job with great leave time policies, etc.) if I did the freelance thing.

    47. DAMitsDevon*

      I would also say that not all office jobs are the same, so putting all of them down seems unwise as opposed to just the ones that aren’t your particular cup of tea seems unwise? I work an office job for a nonprofit, so it’s definitely not all about the money (lol). However, having been in other types of public health/nonprofit jobs where I’d sometimes have to work night shifts or go offsite a lot, I’ve come to appreciate many of the things that come with a more traditional, 9-5 office job. For instance, working regular hours rather than doing shift work is a lot better for my health. I also had a major health crisis earlier this year and having a full time job with benefits meant that I had sick leave to use so I could still get paid and that my medical expenses didn’t bankrupt me because my employer provided health insurance covered most of them.

      1. bunniferous*

        I have the best and the worst of all worlds. Half my job is in an office, half out on the road (locally) and I do NOT punch a time clock. Sometimes I have time for my creative endeavors, and I make pretty decent money. BUT trying to plan even a weekend trip is hard. I went to a three day conference and had to haul my laptop with me and take care of stuff that came up during it. Sometimes I am in front of a computer till late. AND I have no benefits. BUT I have an awesome boss and I love the job because of the variety. Every job has its good and bad points. If you can live, have a roof over your head, food to eat and you like what you do, you are golden, no matter what form it takes.

    48. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I have one of those jobs that people are always impressed by (archaeologist) but it’s damn hard to make a steady living in this field. I daydream about getting an office job where I can be indoors and not have to look for a new job every three or four months. People who denigrate office jobs are probably suffering from the same misunderstandings as those who put down restaurant work as easy.

      1. Windchime*

        I think that a lot of people who have never worked in an office are picturing the old “typing pool” images of years past. Or imagining sitting at a desk, collating papers or doing other boring things like that. In my office job, I feel like I have the best of both worlds; I’m a SQL developer who also creates reports, so I sit in a comfortable cubicle, have great benefits and pretty good pay, and I do creative thinking and technical stuff.
        I think it’s just hard for people to picture if they’ve never done interesting, creative office work. And even if it’s not interesting or creative, I’ve done things like picking pears and building fences. I’d much rather sit in my comfy office chair and sip tea while I think about how to solve my latest challenge.

    49. Upstater-ish*

      Hmmmm most of what I hear on his site particularly is that office jobs are the real 9-5 M-F jobs while jobs in retail are the thing you do when you can’t do anything else. How many people write about office jobs as “my first real job”.

      That said I live in Albany NY (the capital of NYS) and state office jobs are the jobs to have.

      1. Wake up !!*

        Couldn’t agree more! I had to crack up at the commenter above who mentioned “classist beliefs about what real work is.” It had me nodding along before I realized she meant…the belief that office work isn’t “real” work.

        At the end of the day, I just can’t imagine being upset or offended by an offhand comment by someone who doesn’t see themselves in my line of work. This is not a real problem.

    50. Polymer Phil*

      “Cubicle farm” workplaces all look the same even if the people in them have very different jobs. It’s easy for an outsider to get the impression that everyone is sitting there filling out forms and doing dull paperwork all day long.

      My first job was with a big company in a technical field, and I had little contact with their office workers. I really had no idea what they did all day, and I had a mental picture of a Dilbert cartoon. I gained an appreciation for office workers when I moved to a smaller company where I frequently interacted with them, and learned that they don’t all do the same thing!

  6. Nonnie*

    Anon for this one – 

    Ok internet friends, I need some help. I’ve looked through the archives, but haven’t found anything that quite fits my situation. This is a long one, and the tldr version is I have a crush on a coworker, and basically need to be told it’s all in my head, and I’m reading too much into it. I have NO desire for anyone in my life to ever know about this.

    Some detail. I am single, in my late 20s, he is married, late 30s. My crush would be inappropriate for no other reason than that he’s, you know, MARRIED, but there are a few other factors. I do not report to him in any way, nor he to me, but we work together frequently. 

    He’s very friendly, and honestly, is probably giving off big brother vibes, but I don’t have a big brother, I have a little one, and our relationship is not the best, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Historically, most of my friends have also been female, so it’s a completely different interaction. 

    Where I’m having trouble is how he acts towards me. Always perfectly polite and respectful. I live in the south, so I’m used to being called pet names. It’s just something that happens, and I don’t mind. Yesterday, he came to get a snack out of my office. They’re there for everyone, and that’s where we keep them. He referred to me as “our beautiful (my job title).” This is the second time this has happened.

    Another time, which has also happened twice, the second being yesterday, his previous job came up in conversation, as did the benefits they offered employees, and their families. In explaining one of the benefits, he goes, “If you and I were married…” The example would have worked just as well as “My wife and I…”

    I have ZERO plans to ever let anyone know about my crush, but I mostly need advice about how to continue to treat him in a professional and friendly manner. 

    1. AnonEMoose*

      The Paging Dr. Nerdlove blog has some really good advice about dealing with an unwanted/inappropriate crush. Essentially, his take on it is that trying to suppress the feelings makes them stronger, in part because suppressing them attaches too much importance to them and encourages your mind to dwell on it more.

      So, his advice is to instead mentally acknowledge the feelings and treat them as unimportant. Basically, when you start feeling the crush feelings, you think something like “Ok, this is a thing i’m feeling right now. Now about [something work-related] or [grocery list], or…” Treat it as a thing that isn’t really all that significant.

      Another tactic you can use in combination is to spend some time thinking about the qualities he has that you find attractive. For example, one of the reasons Sir Patrick Stewart is a celebrity crush for me is his speaking voice…I could listen to him read the phone book and enjoy it. So, maybe you like his eyes or his smile or whatever. Consider it as helping you figure out things you might want in a partner (if you actually want a partner – not everyone does!).

      And maybe identify some qualities he has that would get REALLY annoying after awhile (pretty much everybody’s got those, too!).

      Meanwhile, it’s ok to keep conversations with him mostly work-related and relatively brief (if your work doesn’t require otherwise).

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Meanwhile, it’s ok to keep conversations with him mostly work-related and relatively brief (if your work doesn’t require otherwise).

        This is what I did with my last office crush. I was single, he was dating someone, and after I acknowledged the feelings and told him about them, I cut off any non-work related conversations (he used to walk me home from work and we’d have chats about our personal lives – this started before the girlfriend came into the picture). Ultimately, he ended up telling me a really messed up story about how he broke up with said girlfriend earlier this year under the guise of wanting to know my opinion as to whether or not he was an ass to her. I confirmed he was, and that was the end of that crush, lol. I thought he was a decent guy, but found out he’s actually a user and semi-gigolo.

        I could smack myself for falling for his nonsense.

        1. Dusty Bunny*

          “I thought he was a decent guy, but found out he’s actually a user and semi-gigolo.” I agree — there’s nothing that snuffs out the sparks of a crush quite like a cold dose of reality. I try to force myself to find that reality sooner rather than later, so it squashes the crushy feelings and I can get on with life.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like to imagine my crushes have drastically different ideologies from me, like they support political candidates I find repugnant. Or they have some habit I can’t live with, like secret smoking.

            Unfortunately, my current crush is f***ing perfect, so that doesn’t work, lol.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              I found out my agonizing college crush had mega issues with women and, wow, did that sucker dry up like a slug in salt. No amount of in-denial mental gymnastics could explain it away.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            See, the warm fuzzies came out of nowhere with me – seriously, one day after he walked me home, I had an epiphany like that scene in Clueless where Cher is standing in front of the fountain and realizes she loves Josh, lol. I didn’t think stuff like that happened in real life, but it does. And when I determined it was never going to happen between us, I actually shed tears! Ugh – I could go the rest of my life without having this happen to me again, lol.

      2. Nonnie*

        I will have to give that blog a look! I think I’ve heard or it, but haven’t ever read it.

      3. Kendra*

        This is great advice!

        I also find it helpful to remind myself, “just because I feel a thing, that doesn’t mean I have to act on the thing.” You can still be your true, authentic self without expressing every single thing you think or feel out loud. Some of it can be just for you, inside your own head. (For instance, what I’m *really* thinking during meetings often does not need to see the light of day, but it does keep me entertained – and awake – and really, that’s all it needs to do.)

        1. Alice*

          You can still be your true, authentic self without expressing every single thing you think or feel out loud


    2. boredatwork*

      He’s being creepy and weird. My southern, married husband, would never dream of any of those interactions. You’re entitled to your feelings, but he’s being overly familiar.

      My work BFF is a married man. He has never given me a pet name, or called me “beautiful”. Just yuck.

      My guess is he likes the positive female validation and is preying on your “crush” vibes.

      1. LSP*


        My old boss was also my best work friend, and he kept it professional at all times. We are both married with kids (only 2 weeks apart), and he never commented on my looks, and never got as familiar as this guy, despite how well we got along.

        This guy is… ew!

      2. Nonnie*

        There are two guys who have made a comment about me being beautiful. This guy, and one who is old enough to be my grandpa, and who likes to tell me what his grandkids are doing at school.

        1. Vincaminor*

          In both cases, I’d recommend an easy-toned, “Just Nonnie is fine.” (Whether they’re calling you “our beautiful Job Title” or “the beautiful Nonnie.”) It doesn’t need to be hostile—in fact, avoid that so you don’t set off defensive justifications! — but shut that down. You’re not there for your looks, you’re there for your awesome competence.

      3. Autumnheart*

        I second that this is inappropriate “fan the flames” behavior coming from this guy.

        A crush is a crush, and I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve had to squelch an attraction to someone who was off the market for one reason or another. We’ve all been there. But when someone picks up on it and makes things more emotionally fraught when you’re trying to maintain professional distance, that’s pretty manipulative on their part.

        I have a coworker who is literally My Ideal Man(tm) while being totally unavailable for multiple reasons, and I basically had to blank him entirely until I was able to compartmentalize sufficiently. That basically wrecked any chance of being work buddies, but I feel a heck of a lot better knowing I was maintaining appropriate professional distance. And eventually the crush faded into background radiation, and I can appreciate the perk of a Work Hottie without feeling like I’m going to torpedo my career.

      4. Muriel Heslop*

        Ditto to all of this.

        OP, if he was your husband and he was telling a younger, unmarried woman at work that she was beautiful and vaguely referring to marrying her, how would you feel? Maybe if you reframe it that way some of the bloom will fall off the rose?

        Good luck. I’ve been in your situation and it was not fun. I was so glad when my crush quit and moved across the country.

        1. Batgirl*

          Do you think he’s going home and saying to his wife “I have such fun hanging out with my beautiful coworker.” Either your name is verboten or he has mentionitis about you.
          Being called beautiful out of the blue is quite the powerful drug to some of us (Yeah, me; I wasn’t that pretty in high school) but intellectually I resent it for precisely that reason. Oh, they know.
          With married guys it always helps me to picture the at home scene or wonder if he would say that with his wife present.
          Let me place a little bet: how often does he mention her positively? How would he react if you said ‘Hey how’s your wife?’ more often?

      5. R.D*

        Yep. Yuck.

        If you didn’t have before these interactions, how would you have viewed them? I find them both creepy, but just borderline enough that I’d be questioning myself, which is probably intentional.

    3. Bee's Knees*

      As a fellow southerner, I can second the names thing. That does seem a little… much though.

    4. LSP*

      To be clear here: He is acting unprofessional and inappropriate. Think of it like this: If you were not at all physically attracted to him, would you read his behavior as creepy?

      Calling a coworker beautiful is not appropriate, like, ever. Your physical appearance shouldn’t be mentioned at work whatsoever. He also could have said “our genius (job title).”

      Making the reference to “If you and I were married…” while discussing benefits is strange, but don’t read anything into it, other than this guy is a boundary-crosser.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Annnd he has probably done this to other women. He is sounding like he has “practiced” this before. Getting a little grossed out here, OP?

        I’d cut him off, “well we are not married so that is a bad example, let’s avoid that example again.”
        Or, “If I were male would you call me “our handsome (job title)?”

        In the process of correcting these statements I can almost promise you that your crushing will dissipate because you will see more clearly exactly what is going on here.

        I married a guy that I worked with. He acted way differently than this, none of the coyness etc. He was sincerely interested in me and what was going on in my life. I was the same and we talked about life stuff, interests and so on. I suspect the guy in your story is one who cuddles up to other women often.

    5. Bananatiel*

      Granted, I’m not from the south but I’d say that you’re also perfectly in the right to call him out on the pet names and ask not to be called by them. The “our beautiful (job title)” feels particularly inappropriate to me.

    6. Robert in SF*

      I am going to be giving some practical advice here…I read it in a book of advice years ago:
      If you find yourself attracted to someone you really shouldn’t be (your friend’s spouse, or in this case a co-worker), whenever you are with them (in person that is), focus on their nostrils.

      Don’t stare, of course, but use their nostrils as your focal point when conversing or otherwise with them.

      Unless noses are your kink, you’ll find that it really puts you off from being attracted to them. I guess nostrils are just not sexy and can help cement that ‘unsexiness’ for that person in your mind to replace the crush.

    7. animaniactoo*

      Advice I’ve seen given before for breaking a crush: Imagine him at home, being a slob around the house. The dirty dishes left in the sink, etc.

      Most of the time, our crushes are idealized versions of the person we’re looking at, so if you can envision him in a less-idealized form (and frankly one that might be a turnoff), it helps to reduce the pull.

      Separately, anytime he does something along the lines of “If you and I were married…”, cut it off immediately. “Wait, what? No, that would just be weird. Just explain it to me in terms of you and your wife.” Especially do this because he’s either low-key hitting on you, or just plain creating an inappropriate atmosphere without realizing it. Either way – back yourself out of purposely and definitively. Out loud.

      You could also try toning down the “This is our beautiful [job title]” by deflecting it with something like “He says that about all the women (assuming you’re a woman) who have access to the snacks [or insert other thing that he goes through you/your office for]”. See what happens when you make it clear to him that you’re not taking the flattery personally. If he backs off of it or doesn’t really change it, fine – as long as this is actually his behavior with other people – note that, people, NOT just women – in the office. If he escalates OR it really is just you or just women, you’re going to need to tell him that you’re not comfortable with it and to please stop. If you need to tell him to stop, do you need some scripts for doing that?

      1. Nonnie*

        I don’t think he’s doing it to make me uncomfortable, and if I did, or it gets worse, I can go to my boss about it. We have a great working relationship, and after his head finished exploding, he’d take care of it. He doesn’t say it to all the women, because there’s only one woman in the office area of where we work. She’s mid 50s, and has been here forever.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Hmmmm. With that info, I think that you need to address it with him – because you focused on what he’s doing to you as a woman, not to you as a person, and if I read that right, he’s treating you differently than he treats the men in the office.

          You can start start deflecting lightly on that basis. “Ha! You know, if you’re going to introduce me like that, you should really be introducing Jack as our handsome [job title]!”

          He needs to tone it down, fast, and you need to give him the feedback that it needs to happen so he can act on that. It’s not about whether he’s doing it to make you uncomfortable, it’s about the fact that it IS making you uncomfortable whether he means to or not, so do not let his intent be the focus of your concern.

          If some light deflection does not handle it, you’ll probably need to have a bigger picture more serious tone conversation – and when I say conversation, I mean an under 2 minute exchange, not a long involved thing. Do you need some scripts for what that would look like?

    8. Lucy*

      He sounds … potentially gross. Married and flirting isn’t a cool combination, but sometimes people do it because “everyone knows it couldn’t be real”. If he knew it was actually thrilling you, he’d reset proper boundaries, surely?

      What do other people in your workplace think of your interactions? Is it fairly normal or would it be noticeable? Any danger of looking unprofessional?

      I do know what you mean about “big brother” vibes and I recognise that dynamic. But I think you may benefit from shoring up the boundaries he has blurred, so maybe when he talks about hypothetical marriage you breezily say “oh yeah, how is Wife? Did you go to that Pirate Festival you were telling me about?”

      1. Nonnie*

        It would help if he ever talked about her or their family in more than the vaguest of terms. I have never heard him refer to her by name. I think they have kids? I’m not sure. No pictures of anyone in his office. It’s hard to ask about them when I don’t really have anything to ask.

        1. Lucy*

          hoo boy – that doesn’t make me feel any better about his behaviour. I wonder what you see in him!

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Yeah, that raises some flags for me, too. I mean, I’ve been known to be flirtatious (not usually in the workplace, though!), but I also talk openly about my husband (and of course, in our social circles, people know him and know that we are what’s sometimes described as “very married.”)

            But the flirtation plus the not talking about the wife/kids at all…that’s not a good combination. Still, I think the OP should deal with her own feelings and his behavior as related but separate issues. She can deal with her crush, and also consider whether or how she wants to deal with his behavior.

            1. Mama Bear*

              Agreed. I think that some lines in the sand are necessary here. What may be somewhat acceptable socially isn’t acceptable professionally, so start there. There are a number of posts about how to redirect people when they cross boundaries, so you can have a script in your head the next time he crosses yours.

        2. Sutemi*

          Yellow flag, that suggests he is trying to keep his personal life walled off so he doesn’t have to acknowledge them at work. Much easier to flirt if they don’t know any of the details of his home life.

        3. Rezia*

          You can ask things to remind him (and you) of how real they are. “What’s your wife’s name again?” then once you find out “What did you and [wife’s name] do this weekend?” “How are your kids doing?” etc.

    9. Lady Dedlock*

      Crushes are normal and happen all the time. They also usually go away on their own. Personally, I’m of the mind that a crush can be quietly enjoyed until it goes away, as long as no one notices it. If you’re looking your best on meeting days, well, that’s not a bad thing. You just need to aim for being your friendly, professional, normal self around him.

      Also, it’s very human to like people who like us. He does seem to like you, so it’s natural that your mind would turn that way. But it’s good to remember that fondness doesn’t necessitate romance.

    10. MintLavender*

      Referring to you as “our beautiful -job title-” is wildly inappropriate and insulting. Honestly, my recommendation is to say that to him next time it happens. He should know that that’s the case, for his own professional good, but the side bonus here is that it will change your relationship, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that one of two things will happen:

      1) He has a bad reaction to being called out on his overtly shitty behavior, which will make you like him less, or
      2) He has a great reaction and stops treating you that way, which will make him treat you more professionally, which should also help with you managing your feelings.

      Seriously. Being referred to as “beautiful” by someone at work is *really* undermining you. If he’s into you, it honestly makes it worse. This is stuff that my (abusive sexual harasser) ex-boss did when he “liked” staff. It’s gross and infantilizing and condescending. So, just reflect on the fact that a good guy wouldn’t be doing that to you at work. It should help with helping you overcome the “fun, exciting” part of the crush and let the realities of *this guy* settle in.

    11. The Ginger Ginger*

      I second a lot of what other people are saying. But this past post might help you too.

      I left a comment on this old one that I’ll paste below here because I still think it’s the best way of banishing a crush. To sum up, stop giving this guy so much room in your brain.

      “Don’t entertain them (meaning thoughts/feelings about your crush). I always think of it as a revolving door in a hotel. The thought spins in, but you don’t let it book a room or sit at the bar. Have a bouncer spin it right on back out onto the street. (Ha, that analogy just kept going.)

      In the same vein as this advice – don’t fantasize. One of the “fun” things about a crush is daydreaming (even innocently) about the person. What would it be like to date them; how would they act on vacation, what would they say if I flirted, how would I approach them for dinner, what if they met my dog, etc, etc. That all feeds a crush. It doesn’t sound like you’re doing this, but if you ARE, stop. If you catch yourself, redirect your thoughts to something else. That’ll help starve the crush.”

    12. Samwise*

      Maybe this will help: Your crush is being inappropriate. Being in the south has nothing to do with it. I’ve been living and working in the south for over thirty years. It’s not appropriate in the south OR ANYWHERE.

      I don’t think he’s being massively inappropriate or doing anything reportable, just…he’s not thinking about his words.

      I think you go on being professional and friendly as you have been already. Pay attention to your own words and actions. When he says stuff like this, you can say something like, “Ooo, I feel uncomfortable /weirded out when you say that!” Hopefully that will get him to consider his words more carefully.

    13. AnonNotmyNormalName*

      I had a work crush for the first time last year. He was married, I am married and I was mortified at myself. It did pass with time. I took the advice given here to notice my feelings and then ignore them.

      Also, at one point he put a hand on my arm – I literally jumped out of my chair and across the room. Was it awkward? Yes, but it was also an unconscious, immediate response that this way spells danger. He respected the response and has never touched me again in any way. He’s very smart but he’s not without his faults and they became clearer as we worked more together and that’s helped a lot as well and I’m over the crush.

      Set up boundaries you are comfortable with and enforce them. It’s the best thing you can do. I had too many issues early in my career with things going sideways because I thought I was friends with a co-worker and he thought it could be something more. When it’s a married guy – I still don’t let my guard down because that’s gotten awkward too.

    14. Sam Sepiol*

      Oh my god thank you for posting this. I have a ridiculous crush on a colleague. Following!

    15. Anon Crush*

      I’m happily married and two years ago I was hit hard by a crush on a single co-worker. I sensed he liked me too, but he was always above board and never too flirty, etc. we became friends and I don’t believe he ever knew about the crush. He left my workplace, but we have kept in touch.

      Like most crushes, it faded over time. I did let myself enjoy the feeling of being crazy attracted to someone in a way I hadn’t felt since I was a teenager. It was fun, but because neither of us acted on anything, it was harmless.

    16. Lilysparrow*

      I am Southern. I have an older brother. He is not giving you older brother vibes. He is being flirty, which you said is inappropriate to the situation and something you do not want.

      I think probably he is correctly reading your attraction and enjoying the attention.

      There are several ways to shut this down and get it back on professional footing. Since you work together frequently and have a vested interest in keeping things friendly, I’d probably go with an in-the-moment “not having it” response any time he’s flirty. That could be a way or “eww” face, a verbal “nope!” or a quick contradiction, such as

      Him: “If we were married…”

      You: “We’re not!”

      Just keep breaking up the pattern instead of letting it go unchallenged. I think if he’s perceptive enough to have noticed the crush, then he’s perceptive enough to understand that you are drawing a line.

      If he’s actually of a predatory nature and testing boundaries, then this kind of thing will alert him that you’re not going to let stuff slide or get all murky. Shady people love murky boundaries.

      Other options remain open if this doesn’t work, of course. But it sounds like you’re in the nip-it-in-the-bud stage, so hopefully you can start small and leave the unspoken as such.

  7. Agent J*

    I started a new job a few months ago. My teammate started about 6 months before I did. The higher-ups have asked me to start stepping up to better manage our client’s projects. The client we serve is difficult and I have more experience in our particular niche of the industry. Teammate isn’t terrible at his job, he’s just checked out and it shows in his work. He got caught in some office politics when he first started and is pretty jaded about our manager, coworkers, and senior executives.

    I do see opportunities for improvement in the quality of work we provide our client. But I don’t want Teammate to feel like I’m acting like his new boss. How do I walk the fine line of demonstrating leadership without any official structure to support it or alienating my Teammate in the process?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Use the word “we” instead of “I” as much as possible. “We need to x done Thursday and y done by Friday. Which one would you like, x or y?” I assume he is slacking which puts you as the one on top of things, offer him choices where you can.
      Understand in the end you probably will not accomplish what you want to accomplish here. That is he is probably going to end up unhappy with you at some point. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his status of “checked out”.

      The one thing I will say refuse to take the hit for his missed deadlines. “Boss, I have asked Bob three times for part B of our project. I have Part A done but I cannot do part C until Bob gives me Part B. How do you want me to handle this?” You can handle his shoddy work in a similar manner.

    2. Wonderer*

      Maybe tell him that you heard the higher-ups want to improve the management of these projects – then describe your ideas and ask for his thoughts on them? If he blows off the opportunity to be involved in the improvements, he probably won’t be as upset when you take the lead on implementing them.

      If he does give good input, then you’ve informally taken the lead on it and just make sure you credit him for his participation.

  8. Newt on a log*

    TLDR: My boss sucks and isn’t going to change (but he does plan to leave once his house sells to follow his wife who is working 6 hours away).

    I just received the major certification in my field. It takes a minimum of 5 years to get this certification. According to my professional organization’s annual salary survey this should come with a 30% raise due to my experience.
    It’s been 3 weeks since I passed the final certification exam so I approached my boss (Elmer) yesterday about a raise (most of my work is done at a different site so this was my first opportunity to have this conversation face to face with him).
    I brought up that I achieved this certification and been busting my rear on a major project for the last year in addition to my normal duties and he totally shut me down. Said I’m looking into what we did for Donald when he passed and I’ll get back to you. Donald works for a totally different business unit (doing the same thing) and told me that when he passed he was given a raise over 3 years (10% each year). Daffy works for the same business unit and everyone seems to forget that he gained this certification a few years ago and was given the raise all at once. Daffy also had a job offer at our major competition lined up and used that as leverage to get the raise.
    Because I know Elmer’s time at the company is limited (and his capital is limited because he is a poor manager) I have absolutely zero confidence he will be any kind of advocate for me (ordinarily I’d say I don’t think he’ll be effective but because he could be gone in a month I don’t have any confidence that he’ll even remember to take it anywhere).
    I have a few options. My dotted line supervisor (at remote site) has said she’s willing to advocate for me once Elmer is gone but doesn’t feel she can step into it until he’s gone. Our regional VP has seen and recognized the work I’ve been putting in and commented on it, so I believe I could go to her and she would advocate for me but that feels like a nuclear move.
    Obviously before I do anything I will give Elmer some time to do or not do whatever he’s going to but how long do I wait? Especially if I’m not hearing any updates (Elmer is a notoriously bad communicator).

    I should also say that Elmer has made it clear to the department that he plans to leave “shortly” as in, as soon as his house sells and it’s definitely on the market. Elmer’s wife took the job 6 hours away several months ago and it it with another division of the company so management knows that she has moved there. Although Elmer hasn’t said anything official to management about leaving (according to him in a staff meeting yesterday) I’m assuming that management is smart enough to see that wife moves, kids move, he’s traveling every weekend to see them, his time is limited.

    1. R*

      Don’t wait for Elmer’s house to sell. Act as you would if you knew he would stay forever. Otherwise you could be waiting forever for your raise. Congrats on certifying!

    2. fposte*

      Agreeing with what R says. In addition, when you say “According to my professional organization’s annual salary survey this should come with a 30% raise due to my experience,” do you mean people usually get a massive raise from their current employer with this certification, or people with this certification make 30% more? Unless it’s field standard to give the raise to people in situ, I wouldn’t assume that that’s going to be a current employer’s response to the new certification unless it was arranged beforehand. It might be smart for it to be, but that’s not the same thing as probable.

      Love the names, though. I think your manager sounds plain Goofy.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Well it’s strange, most employers do give a raise upon getting the certification (it’s pretty expensive to get and maintain the certification due to continuing ed requirements) and mine has given the raise for the last two to get the certification but my manager seems to be treating it as well you agreed to work for us at $X when you didn’t have it so we’re going to ignore the fact that you could get an offer 30% more now and pay you what you agreed to 3 years ago.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yeah, then it does sound like you’re getting individually screwed. I’d start looking elsewhere then; it sounds like it would be an easy departure to explain in interviews.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Not to defend your boss, but you said above:

          Daffy also had a job offer at our major competition lined up and used that as leverage to get the raise.

          This is why he got the 30% up front – he was planning on quitting. Your manager should at least give you the three year deal the other employee received, though, to be equitable.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Are you , sled dog MAMA, the first employee without a Y chromosome to achieve certification while workingthere? If yes, you may have something darker to confront than a lazy boss.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            Yes, I am in fact the only person in my position (certified or not) lacking a Y chromosome in a significant portion of my eastern US state. Only about 20% of the workforce in my field identifies as female.

    3. The Rain In Spain*

      Did he give you a timeline to get back to you? I would follow up with him after a reasonable amount of time (I imagine you have a better idea of what that would be in your environment- a week? two weeks?). If he still stalls you at that point, I would ask more concrete questions re the timeline, if there’s any additional info you can provide, if it would be helpful to loop in anyone else to advocate for you (like VP), etc.

      It doesn’t sound like at your company HR has a hand in these things- at my current organization my understanding is when someone obtains a certification for their job, there’s sort of a standard request process to get that raise put into place. I can’t say I’ve experienced it myself so I don’t know if it works any better, but I can say that I left my last job because no change in scope of duties/salary was forthcoming. I however made the mistake of waiting several MONTHS to give my notice and didn’t advocate strongly enough for myself. But it sounds like you have some great leadership on your side here so I hope it works out much better for you!

      1. Newt on a log*

        That’s the other side was he gave no timelines for anything and I find that unacceptable. When Daffy got his certification they pushed through his raise/counter offer in a week and if I had already gotten the certification before they hired me they would have found the money then to payme the 30% more

        1. The Rain In Spain*

          Then absolutely make sure you follow up after a reasonable amount of time has passed. Also, there’s no reason they can’t make the raise retroactive to when you achieved the certification!

        2. ..Kat..*

          Are you female? So, two men earned this certification and received significant raises. You earn this certification, and get …. nothing.

          Please job hunt for an employer who will appreciate what you have to offer.

        3. designbot*

          That could also be a cover for going around Elmer. If he doesn’t get back to you in a timely manner, it would make sense for your dotted line supervisor to step in.

        4. learnedthehardway*

          I think the key thing here is that Daffy had an offer in hand from a competitor. Might be worth your time to do a little job hunting. In fact, I’d strongly suggest it, and perhaps follow up with your manager to let him know you’re doing some “industry research” into compensation for people who have achieved their certification, if he hasn’t gotten back to you in 2 weeks time.

    4. Expand all Comments*

      You should give a copy of the certification to HR to ask them to update your file.
      I would also bring in donuts on Friday, and send out an email late Thursday to everyone and tell them to stop for Friday donuts/bagels by to celebrate your certification.
      Put a spotlight on it – so that Elmer can’t hide.

    5. Wonderer*

      Honestly, I d0n’t know your work environment but I would go around him and find a way to casually mention it to the regional VP. Mention that both Daffy and Donald received 30% raises as a result of this certification but that the impending departure of Elmer leaves you a little adrift about getting action on this.
      You definitely shouldn’t just wait this out – he might not leave at all, or it could be months, or someone new could come in and say that they need time to assess things. You need to get this formally noticed right away, by someone other than Elmer. What about HR?

    6. Annie Dumpling*

      Dont let Elmer make you think that you are being pushy or a problem by getting your due. He is being a bad manager, and his discomfort does not justify pushing your accomplishment under a rug and devaluing it because it is not a convenient time for him to do his actual job.

  9. Fortitude Jones*

    TLDR; Readers with instructional design degrees, what was your degree program like? What are you doing with your degree? Did you need to have graphic design skills before applying? If you didn’t get a degree in ID, but are working as one, how did you get into it and what field are you currently working in (e.g. consulting, teaching, corporate training, etc.)?

    This is the end of my fourth week at my new job, and I absolutely think I made the right choice in leaving my last company. Not only was my first paycheck AH-MA-ZING (yay 27% salary increases!), but the work is interesting, the people aren’t driving me crazy (yet), and I’m being treated like I’m an expert already, which is crazy because I’ve only been in this field for 18 months!

    I had another job offer that paid significantly more than what this position pays, so I was wondering if I would end up kicking myself for not taking it – nope. I’m good. The other job was in the same field as this one and my last, but it also had a heavy emphasis on project management in the tech sphere (I would have been handling the proposal process and doing all post-award follow ups with customers, including leading project implementation), and I think I would have been in way over my head there.

    The job I ended up choosing also scared me a bit because it’s newly created at a pretty well-known software company, and I am essentially being asked to come in and upend the way the SME’s and sales team approach their proposal process and writing. However, none of the SME’s or sales members that I’ve been coaching have pushed back on my suggestions, nor have the proposal managers I work with. In fact, a couple of the PM’s are asking for my assistance on several of their pending submissions, and my calendar is full. It’s so nice to have my skills utilized again, and I’ve gotten such positive feedback about my coaching from the SME’s/sales team and my direct manager, who relayed a really lovely compliment about me the other day during a team meeting from someone who’s above both of us on the company org chart.

    One comment in particular stood out to me, and it’s making me consider some things I hadn’t thought about before. A sales member that I was coaching told me my half hour session with him really opened his eyes to what the PM’s are looking for regarding the content he provides to us to submit to customers – he didn’t understand the concepts they were trying to convey, but now he has a good idea about the kind of information he needs to obtain from the customer and what kinds of research he needs to start doing (he wasn’t actually researching his customers at all before).

    Now I’m wondering if I should pursue a masters in instructional design – I don’t know, the above comment made me excited in a way I haven’t felt in a while and it made me a little proud, too. My company offers tuition reimbursement up to $7500 a year for a masters, and I’ve only casually browsed information on online degree programs, but I want to throw this question out to anyone who has either a bachelors or masters in this discipline – what were your classes like, and did you find the degree program useful? What are you doing with your degree?

    I have a BA in journalism, and I currently work in proposal development – I don’t have a graphic design background, and my design skills are basic at best. Is that going to be a major problem for me if I do pursue this degree? That may be a dumb question – there may be no actual design involved, just theory – but I legitimately know very little about this topic. I just thought that since this isn’t the first time I’ve been complimented about my teaching skills (I somehow always end up training people at every place I work), maybe I should get this degree and eventually become a corporate trainer in proposal development.

    1. Sort of in ID*

      I did the online graduate certificate program from UW Stout. You can also get a masters there. I liked the program, it was informative and worked with my schedule. I work in environmental health and safety compliance so I use it when designing training materials and sessions.

      1. Dr. Donut*

        Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Just wrapped up a Ph.D. in Technical Communication and will start as a tenure-track professor in a technical communication and instructional design department this fall.

        Seconding the recommendation for the grad certificate from UW-Stout. They have a solid program, a good reputation, and the grad certificate/MA sounds like a good fit for where you’re at in your career. And debt-free graduate education is the BEST.

        You also mentioned that you’re concerned about your graphic design skills. For a position like yours, basic design skills will be good for now. It sounds like the work that you do prioritizes readability and usability over attractiveness (although if you can have both, that’s even better).

        Here are a few book recommendations that have helped me teach myself (and my college students) good graphic design skills:
        – Designing Information (Katz)
        – White Space Is Not Your Enemy (Golombisky & Hagen)
        – Making and Breaking the Grid (Samara)
        – Understanding Color (Holtzschue)
        – Designing for the Digital Age (Goodwin)
        – Document Design (Kimball)

        The Katz book works particularly well because it shows how to revise an acceptable design into a really good design.

        Overall, it sounds like you’re doing really well in your job! Congratulations on finding a workplace where they listen to and value your work–that’s really fantastic!

        1. Lady Jay*

          I would like to third the rec for UW Stout. I picked up a certificate in online teaching from them a couple years back and loved it: I learned a lot, the workload was manageable, the skills/concepts were transferable to diverse settings, and it’s a great thing to have on your resume. Plus, I found the school in particular had people who were (for the most part) flexible, easy to work with, and supportive.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Thanks so much for all of the book recommendations! I copied them all down, lol. And you are absolutely correct regarding this:

          It sounds like the work that you do prioritizes readability and usability over attractiveness (although if you can have both, that’s even better).

          Readability and usability are my top two priorities right now, especially since I deal with a lot of technical people who aren’t actual writers (not even tech writers) and people who have English as a second language. My company has a separate design team so if push comes to shove, I could reach out to them for assistance in making whatever I come up with look nice. They just have deadlines of their own, which means they’ll get to my stuff when they get to it – ideally, I’d like to do most of it myself.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Thanks for the recommendation! It may actually benefit me to do a certificate program before attempting a masters in case I don’t like it or don’t have the aptitude for the degree courses. Plus, it’s cheaper and I only have $7,500 for my tuition reimbursement to work with.

    2. KayEss*

      I work for a company that does online course instructional design for higher education, though I’m a web designer/developer rather than an ID myself. Our IDs mostly come from traditional education backgrounds with classroom or other first-hand pedagogical experience. We may have some people with degrees in ID? I don’t actually know, because it’s far from a requirement for us–we’re more interested overall in a demonstrated understanding of teaching/learning theory, strong conceptual communication skills (both written and visual… if you draw a diagram it doesn’t have to be beautiful, but you do have to be able to get your point across), and the ability to work collaboratively with university professors without losing your entire mind. However, we’re also a bit of a boutique-y company that does a lot of custom work in a high-end sector, so some of this stuff is going to be less important if you want to work in corporate training.

      As far as I know, none of our IDs have formal graphic/visual design backgrounds, but we do require them to build out the courses they’re responsible for in the online systems, so they have to be comfortable arranging text and images in a way that isn’t a total disaster. To that end, basic HTML skills are a strong plus for our ID candidates, and we expect them to be able to learn a lot and get stronger in that area. BUT not all companies have their IDs do the final builds, so depending on what sort of place you’re working for, you may only need to be able to lay out a course in Microsoft Word to hand off to a developer–there are successful IDs out there with no HTML skills whatsoever, they just don’t work for us. Some places also use tools like Adobe Captivate instead–my impression is that’s particularly popular in sectors like HR training. But in general, everyone recognizes that training up an employee’s skill with software is a lot easier than training them in communication and pedagogy, so while familiarity with specific technologies can be a plus it’s more about your comfort level with technology overall. (That’s all for online courses, naturally… if you’re angling to be a travelling in-person corporate trainer, you’d probably look for strong presentation and classroom management skills instead. But I don’t actually know if those people are IDs or something else? Hopefully someone else can speak to that for you if you’re interested.)

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        To that end, basic HTML skills are a strong plus for our ID candidates, and we expect them to be able to learn a lot and get stronger in that area.

        I need to hit up edX to find one of these courses – it’s shameful that I didn’t take advantage of the HTML trainings that were available to me when I was in college. Thanks for the suggestion and insight into the training your IDs have.

    3. Kimmybear*

      Have a masters in ID but work more as a corporate training/learning and development manager. I am terrible at graphic design but more and more products have templates that you can use to get you started. Would some graphic design skill be helpful? Yes. Required? Not really.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s a relief to hear, lol. My design skills aren’t horrible per se, just not anything impressive. Everything I do is Smart Art based and it looks clean, so it’s been easy to fake it through a bit in this new field.

    4. Going anon this time*

      I have a masters in organizational performance & workplace learning from Boise State University. Unlike many other ID programs, this one focuses heavily on the analysis needed to determine if there’s actually a performance problem, if it’s actually something which can be resolved through training, and what the training should involve to be effective. Design and development are just part of the process! The BSU program is also heavy on theory and academic literature, unlike most, with students learning about evidence-based practice rather than relying on “it’s always been done this way” thinking. I earned my entire degree online and highly recommend the program if you want to understand the analysis as well as the design.

      My background was a little IT, a little HR, and a lot of problem solving, so it was a great fit! I’m working in employee development for a Fortune 50 corporation. Most of my colleagues have graduate degrees, mostly in instructional design or education.

      I had no formal background in graphic design and not much natural talent for it (which is embarrassing, because my mother is an artist by profession). I’ve read up on UX design as well as instructional design, and recommend taking some free MOOC courses on UX to learn more about presenting information effectively. At my org, a lot of the training was created by subject matter experts who knew little or nothing about instructional design – basically a lot of PowerPoint brain dumps with blurry screenshots and cartoonish clip art. Understanding both adult learning theory and user-focused design will help you create learning that’s massively better than that!

      FYI, in larger organizations, the teams who create learning are separate from those who deliver it. They’re different skill sets, although you can certainly be excellent in both.

      And I ended up in this field because, like you, I ended up training people at every place I worked. When I fell into HR by accident and discovered the specialization of training & development – score!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Thank you – I’ll look into BSU. I’m absolutely looking for something that can be completed online and at a pace that works for me (I’m super busy in this new job, so may not be able to do anything other than a semester or two a year part-time). I’m also happy to have it validated again that I don’t need to have mad design skills before starting a program.

    5. another anon*

      I am *cough* a little older and got my job before ID degrees were as widespread as they are now. My degree was in Tech Writing. I’ve worked in higher ed in ed tech and ID type roles in distance learning and mostly learned on the job.

      From what I’ve seen it all depends. People I know with more corporate ID jobs tend to do more training type course development and use tools like articulate storyline or in house tools, some have in house designers.

      In higher ed, I’ve done a little of everything at smaller places and more focused on design and content dev at bigger places where they had bigger budgets and more specialization.

      What kind of work do you want to do? Do you want to design corporate training, work for a textbook publisher, work with faculty, do intense research, be a freelancer?

      ID has much more variety now, and you might be ok with a certificate which is cheaper and takes less time. Look at job descriptions to see what the requirements are for jobs that sound appealing, go to networking events or meetups and talk to other IDs to learn what they did and if they like their jobs.

      Good luck!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I want to train people in proposal writing, especially in workplaces like mine where the PM’s aren’t actually the people doing the proposal writing and development – SME’s and sales people are. Our SME’s and sales team are fantastic at what they do in their main duties of selling our product, but they’re not writers and it shows in what they produce – I imagine that’s the case in all situations like this.

  10. Eeyore's missing tail*

    Has anyone gone on leave and had to train/manage a temp? And is this normal?

    I’m going out on maternity leave in about 7-8 weeks and my supervisor (Reggie) and business office have decided that Reggie needs a temp while I’m out. I’m Reggie’s assistant. The odd thing, in my opinion, is that we’ve already assigned out most my duties. Granted, Reggie has a weird obsession with making sure the phone is answered, but I think that’s almost all this person will do. On average, I may get 1-2 calls a day. Most days, it’s pretty quiet or the calls are wrong numbers. I just learned that this temp will start 2 weeks before my due date and will stay on for a week after I return. Apparently it will take me 2 weeks to train them to use the phone and how to schedule meetings, but I think that’s all they’ll be doing while I’m out. Is any of this normal for a temp?

    I do have to laugh a little. Reggie has commented that there’s no way the temp could handle my normal workload, so maybe I should take this as a compliment? I’ll add that I work in academia, so even though I’m an assistant, I have my hands in a lot of other projects as well. I’m also trying to convince Reggie that we should cross-train the temp to help out in another area that will have another lady out on maternity leave around a few weeks after me. My coworker will be out during one of their busy periods, so I’m sure they’d appreciate the help. Not sure if Reggie will go for sharing, though.

    1. londonedit*

      Not sure where you are, but in the UK (where maternity leave is usually at least 9 months, if not a year) it’s very, very normal for someone to be brought in on a fixed ‘maternity cover’ contract to do the person’s job while they’re away. And it’s not really just ‘covering’, it’s literally doing that job as if it was your own until the person on leave comes back. I have friends who have made successful careers out of doing back-to-back maternity cover contracts – it’s interesting to them because you get to move around and work for different companies. And it’s like starting any new job – sometimes there is a handover period before the person goes on leave, but sometimes there isn’t, and you just have to pick up the reins and get on with it as you would if you were starting a new job on a permanent basis.

      On to your actual situation…I think it’s always good if you can manage to give the temp some training/information when they arrive, and it sounds like cross-training them to cover the other person’s leave would be a sensible idea all round.

      1. Lucy*

        Can confirm. I took a six-month fixed term maternity cover post fifteen years ago and found my niche. It’s a very good way of testing out a field or large company with no obligation on either side (and unlike normal contracting you can take time off job hunting!).

      2. Eeyore's missing tail*

        I’m sorry, I should have added that I’m in the US. I’ll be out for about 8 weeks. To my knowledge, we normally don’t hire temps to cover when someone is out on maternity leave.

        1. WellRed*

          I would assume Reggie likes the IDEA that he needs a temp, more than that he actually needs a temp.

        2. Kendra*

          Not sure about the maternity leave angle, but we did hire a temp recently to cover for an employee having major surgery with a long recovery period afterward. This was something we’d never done before, and honestly didn’t even occur to me as a possibility until my (relatively new) boss asked me if we were getting one, in a kind of, “of course you are” way.

          I guess it was common in his old workplace, and other departments here do it routinely, we’ve just never been in a position where they’d have approved the funding for us to do it before. Maybe something similar is going on in your office? Is Reggie, or his supervisor, or maybe someone in the business office a new-ish hire, who may have done this more commonly in their previous workplace? Or has something changed as far as your department’s funding, so that they can afford it now? Maybe they’ve always wanted to get temps when staff went on maternity leave before, but it’s just now become possible.

      3. Kimmybear*

        In the U.S. it varies significantly by office. My current company sometimes does rotations from within when someone is out on maternity leave but sometimes not. When I took maternity leave at a previous job, we parceled out clients to colleagues while I was gone and other stuff just piled up.

      4. LadyByTheLake*

        One of my first “real” jobs was to be the temp in this exact situation — covering phones while most of the substantive work was being handled by someone else. I was bored out of my mind. I suggest that you might think of some projects that have been on the back burner because you don’t have time, like sorting and cleaning up old files etc.

    2. EA in CA*

      Absolutely normal! When our front reception went on holidays for two weeks, we had a temp cover for her so she could answer the phone, respond to basic email requests.

      Here in Canada, we have the opportunity to have 12-18 month maternity leaves, so it is very very common to hire someone to take on the role temporarily until the person returns. You see mat leave postings all the time here. Your boss feels like it makes business sense to have someone temporarily cover your role so certain things do not have to fall on your coworkers plate. And if there is someone else going on mat leave soon, it makes even more sense as your office will be down two people for a period instead of just the one.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      It sounds pretty normal, but maybe not all that necessary? But if “Reggie” wants a butt in the seat to answer the phone, then I suppose a temp fits the bill. If the temp isn’t very busy, I suppose the nice thing is the hours can be adjusted to part-time if need be. This is what temps are for!

      In offices, people will often give the temp other things to do, such as filing, mailings, and other office tasks. I wouldn’t worry too much.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        I don’t think part time is an option if their main job is phone coverage?
        But I agree that it won’t be a big problem. If the temp has a lot of time on their hands, they will either get assigned work or ask for more themselves.
        If not, then apparently everyone is happy with the arrangement.

    4. Caroline*

      I’ve been the temp in this situation before and my current company often hires temps for when people are on maternity leave. A lot of the time even if coworkers are covering your job responsibilities, the temp is able to help take some stuff of their plate (simpler tasks) and acts as a shared resource.

      If this doesn’t happen frequently where you work I would take it as a compliment–it sounds like Reggie values the work you do. I’m also in the US but in the non-profit world fwiw.

    5. Mama Bear*

      I think it depends on the nature of the job. It seems a little odd that the temp will stay for a week after your return, but maybe that is for your benefit so you can slow roll back into the office. If Reggie thinks he needs a temp, then let him figure it out when the temp has little to do. I would also be very clear about who gets contacted for what re: other duties. As far as the other department, could you put a bug in their manager’s ear to ask for some of the temp’s time? Maybe it will go over better manager to manager.

    6. Kat in VA*

      I did this – although the person I was covering for was out for roughly 14 weeks. I trained side-by-side with her for three weeks. However, this is a really fast-paced, intense position spanning four executives and a ton of projects. I say “is” because the lady I covered for quit five months after she came back from her leave and I was hired back on the job full time and permanent. However, when I came back, I only had a week with her before she left, so the ramp-up when I was the temp was invaluable.

      If you have any dusty old projects you can give her that would keep her from being bored, that would be good – and I definitely think quietly letting others know she can help will be a bonus. *cough*ReggieDoesn’tNeedToKnow*cough*

  11. Pink Shoelaces*

    I need to reach out to my fellow lawyers, especially any in-house counsel. I posted in this thread a few months ago. I’m a litigation attorney that desperately wants to get an in-house job but I don’t practice in an area of the law that easily transfers to an in-house job.

    I started applying for positions anyway, trying to focus on what skills I do have that would work for an in-house job. I now have a second interview with a large company. Yay!! I want this so bad.

    But now I’m freaking out. The area of law this in-house position deals with is nothing at all near what I currently do. How in the world do I sell myself when I know nothing about their area of law? And if by some miracle I get the job, how to I earn and keep their trust while I’m essentially teaching myself a new area of law while trying to perform the job?

    1. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

      Keep in mind that in litigation, you are learning new facts, new clients, and new areas of law all the time. This nimbleness is exactly what will help you learn about your new (single) client and a new area of law. Also, is there any crossover if you take your current practice up a few levels (like, are they both heavily regulated industries?)? Take some time thinking about your current practice and how some of those high-level aspects are similar to the job you’re applying for so you can persuasively talk about them during the interview. Best of luck! You’ll do great!

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      You’re trained to pick up new areas of law, you will be totally fine! Are there coworkers there? They can help you learn about the way things are done. Does the company currently use outside counsel? That can be a great transition (and remain a resource for things you don’t want to handle in house). I work in a highly regulated field and handle most of the day-t0-day things, but if it’s an agreement that heavily involves those regulations, I send it to outside counsel to handle as they are board-certified in that specific area! Definitely an area I’ll work to build my knowledge in, but there’s nothing wrong with that! I am fully transparent with my end users- “since this sounds like it may involve x regulation/might be sticky/etc, I thin it would be best to send this to outside counsel.” Don’t pretend to have expertise you don’t have, be responsive and kind and your normal good-working self, and you should be totally fine! You can also attend relevant CLEs to help you get up to speed. Hope you get the position!

    3. CatCat*

      I have moved from doing one specialized area of law into another totally different area of law. They were both complicated and involved a lot of jargon. At my final interview, I was asked something along these lines, “[Our Complicated Area of Law in This State] has a steep learning curve and I understand that’s not your background. How would your experience in [Totally Unrelated Complicated Area of the Law in Another Jurisdiction] help you here?”

      I pointed out the following with Totally Unrelated Area of Law:
      * I had had no knowledge/experience with Totally Unrelated Area of Law when I started that work too.
      * I had come up to speed with it quickly in my prior life despite that lack of knowledge/experience.
      * Thus I have the skill and ability to learn complex areas of the law and ramp up quickly.
      * I work well with SMEs and know how to ask the right questions to learn as I go (both areas had technical SMEs for factual matters), which means I can learn the industry jargon well.
      * I never shoot from the hip and always ask questions if I need to.

      At any rate, I got the job.

    4. Officious Intermeddler*

      I moved in-house from that firm life almost two years ago now. IT’S A GREAT MOVE AND YOU SHOULD MAKE IT!

      Depending on where you’re applying, selling yourself as a straight litigator might not be the best bet. We hire outside counsel for litigation when we need it, but on the inside, usually what we’re here for is advice, research, and pumping the breaks when the business side goes overboard. Even with that said, though, I had both a litigation and transactional background, so sometimes I get some more lawyer-y things to do compared with my peers who never worked in private practice. You’d be surprised how much people will value your litigation expertise even if you don’t necessarily have a chance to use it much.

      Meanwhile, figure out what business issues are pertinent to this new company and then work backward from there. Understanding what the business part does will make you the best lawyer they could have–you are capable of research and careful analysis that will serve you in many areas, and that will sometimes be better than what the business side thinks about even if you’re starting from scratch, but you’ll be twenty steps ahead if you know (for instance) that your business team will be working with European partners a lot and that you’ll need to bone up on GDPR, or that your guys are constantly negotiating with the same vendors or partners and therefore that you’re going to have to take a broader view of the business you have across different contracts or transactions (or whatever).

      Good luck, and…just count down the days until you can stop recording your time in .1s!

    5. Approval is optional*

      My partner went from Insurance Law to Criminal law (so the reverse of your situation). Their advice is 1. Relax – they have seen your CV so know your background and chose to interview you 2. Sell your ability to research, analyse, problem solve, reason etc. My partner’s words were along the lines of -any monkey can read the legislation, it’s understanding it that makes lawyers lawyers, so provide them with evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that you aren’t a monkey (I think they need to cut back on coffee!) 3. try to relate your skills to a time new legislation/ruling etc popped up in your current area of law and how you can use that experience to get up to speed on the new area 4. Research the key legislation/ rulings etc relevant to the new area (you don’t need to read the legislation from beginning to end, the summary is sufficient pre-interview (assuming summaries are a thing where you live) so you have a grasp of the essentials (which will help with your confidence too).
      Good luck!

    6. Notwithstanding the Foregoing*

      I work in the legal department of a large, financial services firm. We have hired several litigators to handle in-house work. Some attorney postings do require specific expertise (ERISA, Advisers Act), but we currently have postings for transactional attorneys and would certain consider a litigator for one of this roles.

    7. Anon for this one*

      I’m trying to do the same thing and hope to sell myself on HOW I would get up to speed on the new areas of law. I plan to join X industry group, follow Y newsletters, I have people in my network that do ABC that I could reach out to for forms, I’ll take xyz CLE etc.

    8. In-House For Decades*

      As has been said upthread, you are used to learning new facts and new industries and probably new areas of law, and assimilating them into a case. Plus you are probably skilled at writing which is likely key no matter what your tasks would be in this new job. A litigator analyzes facts to see how to use them to get the most positive outcome – in-house you do much the same except that often you are looking into the future instead of into the past — but it is essentially the same skillset. Plus you are used to working to hard deadlines and meeting them, you are used to requiring careful attention to detail, you are used to focusing intently on what is in front of you — these are all great skills you can talk about that would be valued in any in-house position.

    9. Aunt Piddy*

      Honestly, they may be interviewing you because they need a litigator! My firm usually gets hired by in-house when they need to do litigation, but it is EXPENSIVE. Many places are trying to in-house litigation now too.

      We’ve all had to switch and learn new areas in our careers! Focus on how well you learn, how flexible you can be, and how WILLING you are to be taught. (That last one is so important, they definitely want someone who won’t walk in and start acting like they know everything. In-house law departments are weird fragile ecosystems)

  12. Spreadsheets and Books*

    How do you get over impostor syndrome? Or does it just live on forever.

    I often feel like I’m not actually good at my job; I’m just good at following directions and sometimes I fail to see the bigger picture in the way I should. I just got a new job that’s a nice step up from where I was but I wonder what I’m actually doing here because I’m not sure I’m actually capable of doing what the department needs from me.

    1. Sleepy*

      Do you need to see the bigger picture to be good at your job? If you’re good at following directions and your coworkers are happy with your work which involves following directions, then it sounds like you are good at your job.

      Don’t disparage the ability to execute someone else’s vision to their specifications. You may have no idea how frustrating it is to manage someone who has trouble following directions and what a relief it is when someone does.

      If you’re worried about your work in general, check in with your boss about your performance. Make a list of things you did that were tricky and look at it if you feel down about yourself. Make a list of work tasks you are currently worried about pulling off. Look at it again in a month and see how many of them you’ve successfully tackled.

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        Yes, seeing the bigger picture is absolutely a central part of advancing in this career path. I’m in a highly analytical field. Simply following directions (well, but still) is why I assume is why I was bypassed for promotion at my last job. I seem to have a tendency to do what is expected without thinking about what else could add value.

        I’m getting good feedback on my performance but I’ve only been here two months so things are still pretty new. I’m not failing at any work tasks but there are a lot of things that get brought up in meetings that make me go “…huh, I should have thought of that.”

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          Do your manager and colleagues agree that you should have thought of that? Or is it a normal part of being new to the job (which seems reasonable to me)?

          If you have a decent manager, you could just ask them if they want you to be more proactive and come up with new ideas. Your feedback is generally good, so I doubt they will suddenly conclude you were terrible all along or something. If anything trying to pre-empt your weak points is a desirable trait in an employee.

    2. Kat*

      I have terrible impostor syndrome and feel like this all the time. Here are the things I try to tell myself:

      In a new job its always going to take some time to really understand the big picture – and I think most workplaces understand that. It took me a year in mine before I could even begin to feel like I could make confident decisions and exercise good judgement. I learned the essential “task-y” parts of my job (I LOVE following directions) very fast and did them very well, even took on some new things, and eventually the big picture started to come into focus. In my mind, I think about it like one of those puzzles where you have to solve tasks and a little bit more of an image is revealed each time you accomplish something. You start with just the little bit that relates to your specific job and then expand out from there as you learn more. I’m just finishing year 2 in my current position and I can see the parts of the image that surround my position very clearly, I have a strong sense of what is going on in the surrounding areas (my department and some close external partners) even if some details are still obscured, and I can often make educated guesses about what the outer parts of the image (executive level, other departments) look like based on the parts I can see.

      Or I think of the continuum from I Have No Idea –>I Know Who To Ask –>I Know Where to Find It –> I Know the Answer. After two years I am solidly between I Know Where to Find It and I Know the Answer for probably 75% of the things people need from me and people seem satisfied with that even though I cringe internally each time I can’t rattle off the answer from the top of my head.

      If you have a good manager or even a helpful coworker with more seniority it can be helpful to just name your concerns. Like “I feel like I’ve got a really good handle on llama grooming but I still get confused about what goes on in llama training and how their work intersects with ours.” You might hear something like “no one understands llama training – that department is a mess” or “Let me introduce you to Penelope! She is the most helpful llama trainer and you should go to her with questions.”

      Good luck! You’re probably doing fine!

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        I love the spectrum you’ve described.

        My last job came with very, very poor training and a serious information bottleneck from the higher ups. The director and senior manager on our team would get allll the emails and details in meetings with the CFO and the rest of us would cross our fingers that the necessary information trickled down to us eventually. I can’t count how many times I asked a question only to get the answer “Oh, that number is X, we got the information last week.” Well, cool for you, but I didn’t, and now I look dumb because I only have a few of the pieces of the puzzle. My coworkers and I discussed it regularly and consistently asked to be kept in the loop but nothing changed. As such, I really never made it past I Know Who to Ask and I Know Where to Find It.

        Things are very different in my current job as training is much better and information is communicated very clearly, so I hope I can find the confidence here that was lacking in my last role.

    3. I'm that person*

      You don’t. Or you might not. I have been at my job for 8 years. I have gotten 2 promotions, great reviews each year, a pile of awards, and a great relationship with my co-workers. At a meeting yesterday someone said that they wanted to clone me so that I could work on more projects. I know that I do a great job.

      And still I am terrified every day that I will screw up and get fired. I was fired/laid off from the 4 jobs before this one because I sucked. I was a bad employee. I have ADHD and wasn’t getting treatment and I would lose focus and spend days not much of anything.

      I am in a much better place now. I am getting treatment. I am doing a great job, but I am still terrified that I will slip into my old ways and lose what I have built up.

      1. EH*

        Yeah, almost everyone I know with Impostor Syndrome says at best that they’re a bit better. I’ve been in my field for 12 years, and FINALLY kind of feel like I know what I’m doing – but the moment my sensitive impostor antennae get set off, I’m right back to being terrified people will figure out I’m a fraud.

        My therapist tells me that you can’t really get rid of these complexes/syndromes/whatevers, we can only reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of the attacks. I’ve gone from feeling that way pretty much 24/7 to feeling that way a couple times a month, and it’s awesome.

        Things that helped me: a ton of therapy with a self-compassion-focused therapist, reading as much as I could about Impostor Syndrome, sharing my own experiences with it in settings like this, and practicing telling myself gently in the moment “ah, there’s that Impostor Syndrome again.” (If I get mad at myself about it, that just makes it dig its claws in harder. Self-compassion is really hard to cultivate but it makes a huge difference.)

        Solidarity, fellow “impostors”! We’re not alone.

      2. Kat in VA*

        OMG are you me? Supposedly everyone loves me (as in people who would tell me in an instant if someone was smacktalking assure me no one has ever had a bad word), everyone is wow!amazed! I can handle my workload (and my most difficult exec), tell me I’m a lifesaver, constantly praise me for the quality and quantity of work I can do, wish aloud they had more “just like you”…and I’m always sure I’m one screw-up away from being fired or being exposed for the “hanging on by a thread, halfass because I’m yanked in 62 directions at once, pull it all together and please don’t let me drop too many balls today, barely making it” impostor that I am…

    4. Friday*

      Instead of trying to think of the bigger picture for everything going on at your company, try this instead: when you’re working on a task, think of what the next step/next steps are for this task/report/etc. to be performed by someone else. Example: I enter in these daily receipts, and then who is looking at them/how are they used next? Or, I’m generating this report for my boss to tell her X about Y, then what do I think she’s going to do with the information? What question does it answer for her and what more questions come up from it? Who would she share it with? Would she potentially want data Z as well?

      And then the more you think about how the work flows beyond you, the better you’ll get at seeing the bigger picture and being able to anticipate other work needs that will arise from the tasks you do.

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        This is a wonderful suggestion! I will start to keep in mind the objective of what I’m doing for the overall company rather than the singular task at hand that I handle.

    5. Megasaurusus*

      I have an adult son with autism and OCD. Helping him with strategies to overcome OCD taught me a lot about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques and I use those with my own impostor syndrome. Some commentators said you may never get over it, and I think this is true, but you can learn effective strategies for overcoming it when it crops up.

      One of the first steps is actively training yourself to recognize negative self-talk. Call yourself out on it, each and every time. One of the first things I remind myself is that just because I feel something, doesn’t make it true. CBT techniques are handy for so many of life’s problems. It’s the most helpful skillset I’ve ever developed.

  13. Snubble*

    After a year of jobsearching I found something! No agreed start date yet but I know they’ve contacted my references and I’m going for an ID check next week, so add a month of contractually required notice and I should be in post by August.
    I am looking forward immensely to hearing no more updates on the bowel health of my desk-neighbour’s dog.

      1. SecondChoice*

        Yay!!!! A big huge congratulations to you!

        (And yuck on the last part. But super yay to that as well. LOL)

    1. DerJungerLudendorff*

      Hurray! Freedom from unwanted socially mandated small-talk!

      And having a job, that’s very nice too.

  14. CatCat*

    The NY Times posted a good article titled “How to Overcome ‘Impostor Syndrome’”. Earlier in my working life, I had impostor syndrome big time and I think I held myself back because of it. I wish I’d known that impostor syndrome was a thing and known strategies to combat it. I hope someone finds the article helpful!

    I’ll post a link in the replies.

  15. Bummed*

    I left a toxic job after 2 years and while I’m glad, I’m bummed because there was no card or get together. My coworker with whom I worked closely with didn’t get me anything. Not that I need something, but I’m just really surprised. Other people who were there for 3 months had a lunch where we all got together and we signed cards. I didn’t even get that.

    I’m moving on to a (hopefully better) job, but is there a way to put this into perspective? To feel better? Because it really hurts/stings right now.

    1. MOAS*

      I’m sorry, that really does sting a lot.

      I had a similar situation where someone received a card and cash donations when they lost a family member, but I did not get anything. It just seems to be a bitter part of office life that these things can be uneven and yes, unfair.

      I’ll tell you what I did or would do in this situation, be glad that you’re leaving a toxic place, and look forward to the better things coming. Will you have time off in between? if so take that time to recharge and do things you wanted to do when you didn’t have any time.

    2. Camellia*

      Yeah, that hurts. Can you chalk it up to just one more way that this job is toxic? And that it’s made your coworkers toxic in a way that lets/causes them to ignore social norms?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s how I’d look at it – be glad you’re leaving this place. If your manager and coworkers can’t even pretend to wish you well, they’re tacky and you don’t need it.

        I’m sorry that happened to you.

    3. mildregards*

      I’m sorry. It stings because you care, and caring is part of what makes you a good coworker and member of the community. This place is toxic, so presumably they’re botching all sorts of things they should do better at. This was one of them. You should have received a card, and a proper goodbye and thanks from your team.

      Can you get yourself a card? I know that may sound silly, but I’m thinking of the “final accounting” the heroine does in the Maisie Dobbs series whenever she finishes a case. If you picked up a pretty card (look up the floral pop-up ones on Amazon, they’re gorgeous), you could write down the 5 things you’re proudest of during your two years here. Things like projects you had to work hard on, or people you were able to collaborate with only due to your persistent graciousness.

      Best of luck at the new job.

        1. mildregards*

          I’m a card person. It’s what I’ve built my business on and it’s a part of my family culture, and sometimes it’s also…fraught. No grocery store sells a card that says, “I’m sorry you’re leaving but so happy you’re getting out. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and stay in touch.” Sometimes we need that card, and the only solution I have is to give it to ourselves.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        DEFINITELY get yourself something! Reward yourself for searching, interviewing and getting that new job!
        It could be as simple as card, flowers, nice dinner or a new purse or shoes or whatever.
        You’ve got to treat yourself if no one else will.

    4. The Rain In Spain*

      I sent a farewell email to people I cared about/worked closely with. That prompted a flood of responses (my department didn’t let anyone know I was leaving). I was also surprised and touched by how many people I *wasn’t* close to reached out- I sent an email to those who would be affected by letting them know to contact person a after date x and that he would be handling the relevant work for them. The higher ups just never announced I was leaving, and that was awkward but I eventually just took control and sent out the communication I wanted to.

      But also, isn’t this part of why you’re leaving? Toxic environment, not feeling valued, etc? I wouldn’t give this place any further energy/thought- focus on what’s coming next for you!

      1. Friday*

        I did something similar and forwarded all those nice responses to my personal email. My direct department didn’t do anything at all for me. It stings, but I just remind myself that this was just one symptom of a bad environment that I’m very happy to have left.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        The Rain in Spain, are you me?! My department didn’t announce I was leaving either – I ended up emailing people I was working with to let them know they wouldn’t be able to reach me after a certain date, and they were like, “Whaaaat?!” Anyway, I got a lot of response emails that were truly lovely saying I was a pleasure to work with and they wish me the best of luck wherever I’m going, and I forwarded those to my personal email.

        My last day was also my birthday, though, and my cube mate got me a card that almost everyone signed, and they also got me a $25 Starbucks gift card (they did all of this last minute). I wasn’t particularly close to any of them, and I’m sure if one of my more popular colleagues left, they would have gotten a more elaborate send-off, but it’s the thought that counts I guess. I would have been really hurt like Friday if no one said anything. That’s a particularly cold thing to do to someone. It takes two minutes to write “Good luck” on a card.

    5. Anonymousse*

      Rationalize it as the invaluable gift you’re getting is that fact that you’ll be free from the draining clutches of said toxic job. Just because there is no card or lunch doesn’t mean you weren’t appreciated as a coworker and an employee. In my experience (I’m leaving this Fall after two years, not expecting a lunch or card, our high school interns get goodbye card and lunches), one of the symptoms of a toxic workplace is the lack of gratitude toward employees from upper management who has the funds and organizational authority to call for cards and pay for lunches.
      Do you think your now former coworkers will keep in touch with you? If so, then I’d say I’d value a real adult friendship cultivated from a field of shit to be a wonderful gift.

    6. Bananatiel*

      I just left a toxic job back in October after being there five years– I worked VERY hard in that job and my boss, recognizing it would be bad not to throw something, hastily sent out an invite last-minute for a happy hour in my honor (this is at an org with 300 people, at least half of whom I had the opportunity to work with, for context). Funny thing is, I don’t drink and never have, and she knew this. Even better, only a few people showed up and it was awkward because a lot of the coworkers that showed up didn’t like each other (just one of many reasons I was leaving!).

      While I was there people definitely had WAY better going-away gatherings. With potlucks, sheet cakes, cards, the whole nine. I’m still a little bit hurt by it honestly but let me tell you, the best revenge is knowing you’re in a better place the farther out you get from having left. That going away gathering is a reminder that it was the right choice to leave. I think if I had had a very emotional and “good” going-away party it would have cast doubt in my mind.

    7. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I recently left a job, too. While everyone else who has left in my time there, including two people who took secondments and were coming back, had a hosted a happy hour party, I didn’t. I did get a card and we did kind of a joint lunch for me and another person leaving at the same time (there was a bit of an exodus) but I was really hurt that no one threw me a party when I’d been there almost 3 years.

      It sucks, but the best thing you can do is remind yourself that you got out and are on to something better and they’re all still stuck there.

      1. Toxic Waste*

        I know not everyone will like me, but they would make hostile comments out loud, blame me for mistakes, try to get me in trouble, etc. It was interfering with my work/ability to do my job. That’s a problem, no?

        1. Toxic Waste*

          I’m sorry- nesting/replying failure. (I didn’t mean to direct this comment at you, Spreadsheets and Books.)

    8. Lily Rowan*

      Can you picture yourself as Peggy Olson from Mad Men leaving her job? (If you don’t know it, you can google it.) Basically take the attitude that they can eff themselves and you are OUT.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The best way to look at this is to say “this is as horrible and toxic as I already knew it was. This is additional proof.”

      I had the same thing happen when I left my toxic waste dump. They had taken everyone who was leaving previously out for a farewell lunch. I upset them so much that they snubbed me. I laughed.

      Thankfully in my case, my two reports that are now my friends were sweet though, we just did things after the fact. Which dissolved into finding out a lot of “issues” I was not aware of and such. But that’s not the norm, you’re in a hive of evil bees, you don’t want their tainted honey.

    10. the cat's meow*

      Sorry to hear about this. I’m in a relatively new job and was really surprised that we don’t do anything here. I’m used to cards or lunch from other places. Sending you a virtual card.

  16. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    This is not a question but I want to post it here because it really shows how “cultural fit” works.
    This is the reason I was not offered a job recently.

    “Oh sorry I just point blank asked Flynn and he said you and Eve were both equally highly qualified but the managers thought she just would fit in a little better with the shop. In other words she wouldn’t take crap off the guys and didn’t mind telling them off when they are out of line if that makes sense. Shes a little rough around the edges.”

    1. Jennifleurs*

      See, I would much have preferred that than the “other people we felt were a better fit for the company” rubbish I got the other week. So that I could know how I’m coming across, etc.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Yes, it was nice to know the details. The only reason I got this much detail is because a friend works in the department and she asked the boss directly. I do feel a little frustrated by it because I could have stood up to the guys but that is not the image I generally portray in a job interview!

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I was gonna ask what she did in an interview which made it clear she would stand up to these out-of-line guys. Of course, someone can come across as very confident and steadfast while another person might seem shy and easily intimidated, but this part “she wouldn’t take crap off the guys and didn’t mind telling them off when they are out of line if that makes sense” makes it sound like not a hypothetical but something they actually observed!

          1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

            Yea, I have to wonder what she did or said also. However, I do think it was just an overall appearance/attitude. Think someone who is obviously blue-collar vs me who is definitely white collar.

            1. irene adler*

              Did they ask about things like “what do you do when co-workers give you crap?”?

              Otherwise, I think this is an unfair judgment to make on their part (just my opinion, obviously).

              Most folks will tell you I’m rather meek. This hides a mighty mouth and I can give as good as- or even better than- I get. Folks are very surprised to witness this from me.

              Just my 2 cents.

              1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

                They did not ask me that directly but I wish they had. I have had to stand up to faculty members. Has anyone seen the “Trailer Trash Tammy” videos? I have a feeling that she was closer to her than I am.

                Just a feeling though, no evidence.

                1. Blank Blank*

                  Wow. I understand that you are frustrated about not getting the job, but some of your comments are really out of line. I’m surprised that I am the first one to point this out. Maybe your sense of entitlement and othering came across in your interview more than you would like to admit. Its certainly coming across in your comments.

                2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

                  Blank Blank – I can somewhat see how it would seem a sense of entitlement. I am not very good at describing situations and coming up with good analogies. I admit I may have gone well over the top in my comments. Thank you for pointing that out.

                3. DreamingInPurple*

                  I get that you’re unhappy about how things shook out, but the odds of a blue-collar-presenting female candidate getting a job over a white-collar-presenting male candidate (assuming from the Mr. in your handle) are, statistically, pretty slim.* This isn’t that likely to keep happening.

                  *Yes, I realize there will probably several people who read this and have some isolated example of something similar taking place, but that anecdote is not the same as the preponderance of evidence showing that women who are perceived as being “lower class” have difficulty getting jobs.

  17. ThatGirl*

    Still a waiting game on my internal job application – I was told they’ve wrapped up interviews so hopefully something next week.

    On the one hand, I know I am completely qualified and had a good interview; on the other hand I don’t want to just assume being an internal candidate gives me a leg up. So…we’ll see.

  18. bassclefchick*

    We’re having a major software rollout in two weeks. It’s going to totally change the way I do my job. Not only that, but the task that takes 90% of my day is being taken away from my department entirely. I’ve had 6 hours of training on this software and that was not nearly enough time to “play” with it to figure it out. Between one coworker not having a positive thing to say about ANYTHING and the other one so against change she throws tantrums that would embarrass a two year old, this change over may kill me.

    On the other hand, this IS the best job I’ve ever had and I know it will be fine once we get it up and running. Please send positive vibes that I will survive this. And maybe virtual bourbon.

    1. mildregards*

      May you have four fingers of virtual Four Roses, straight up or over ice depending on your preference.

      Keep focusing on the good changes. You’ll have 90% of your day to fill with new things! There is so much possibility in your near future!

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      That sounds like it may well be a stressful transition! Try to keep a positive mind set- this new software sounds like it should open up time for you to work on other things. Maybe think about some new tasks/projects you’re interested in or would like to take on so that you can have that ready to go if you find you don’t have enough to do and need to talk to your manager about it!

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I bought a lovely aged mezcal in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps you would like to try it? And being the only person with an open attitude to this change might result in great benefits for you later on. Good luck!

  19. MOAS*

    Month 1 as a manager is officially done.. I’m still building up the team and we’re actively interviewing candidates. We had a lot of overqualified or otherwise not good fits but this week we were finally we were able to recruit a few candidates since they wowed us during the interview and did well on the practical.. The others were… when asked why you want to work remotely, “The office environment is too catty.” And so many were just no-shows???? My bosses are going to be screening 900+ resumes on their own. (yeah).

    On the work front, pressure is on to deliver. My boss decided that I should give my two workers to the team that’s struggling. I *COULD* get feelings about it, but I’m trying to keep it in mind that there’s a common goal to be achieved and this is what I need ot do to get there.

    My other two co-managers–now they are very knowledgeable and smart and nice. But they keep complaining about their staff (one of them is justified b/c her employee is not a good employee). The other one has said a few times that I got the two good ones and that’s why my team is doing well, and apparently they told the VP that I don’t know my work.

    This bothers me a little bit b/c 1) I really don’t want to incite bad feelings in anyone or 2) worse, have my boss take my two people away to “help the other team.” and then my team end up suffering. For their comment, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt b/c they work in another location and are otherwise very outspoken and blunt so I can believe it wasn’t said maliciously. I’m just trying to be neutral and focus on the common goal.

    1. Ree*

      My response to “Why do you want to work remotely” would be: So I don’t have to hear cube mates clang their spoon against their cereal bowl in the morning, the loud talkers, the clicking, clattering and general NOISE. I never realize how slightly distracted I am at work until I get the rare WFH day and I’m like “LOOK AT ALL I CAN DO.”
      Also, controlling the thermostat. Sharing an office with my dog. Being able to eat toast mid-morning.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, when I got asked this question for the job I’m in now, I just told them it would give me some much needed quiet to get my work done. Whenever I worked from home in my last job, I accomplished almost twice as much as I did in the office because I wasn’t being interrupted by questions or overhearing other people’s loud conversations. My new employers seemed to have found that an acceptable answer, lol.

        1. Windchime*

          This is probably what I would say, if I could ever find a remote position. Having quiet and the ability to think without interruption would be a godsend. That is, if I could get the dogs who live behind me to stop barking.

  20. Bee's Knees*

    Power keeps going out. The VP that’s here this week is NOT pleased.

    One of the managers here, an absolute bear of a man, hasn’t been feeling well. The other day, he was talking about how he hasn’t had much appetite. I was standing in the doorway of his office, and pretended to grab on to the doorframe at the news. The guy walking down the hallway didn’t hear what we were talking about, just saw me start to fall. Poor thing, I think I scared him.

    I know I scare one of the other ladies that works here, and I’m not sure why. Her badge quit working, and I’m in charge of getting her a new one. She asked her manager to come ask me for a new one. I’m nice, I have candy!

    And I learned a neat new trick this week. One of the engineers set a meeting with some salespeople. We have four conference rooms, and one of them just has a standing table. That’s the one he booked. I told him that the others were free, and he didn’t have to use that one. He says that when the sales people sit down, they talk forever. When they stand, the meetings are shorter and more productive. I then reminded him to let me know when he’s expecting a sales visit, cause otherwise I run them off. We get more unsolicited sales people than people wanting jobs.

  21. Frustrated Today*

    I’d like to know how other companies handle shredding of documents. Specifically, how are individual employees expected to comply? Does the company supply bins at desks, have a communal shred bin, or something else?

    My new company (about 75 people in this building) checks work areas every night to make sure things are locked up, desks are clean and people’s little “shred bins” are empty. The reason “shred bin” is in quotes is because it’s something that sits on the edge of the waste basket and it looks exactly like a recycling bin due to it being blue. If something is in the bin when they check, the person is spoken to or written up, depending on how many times it’s happened.

    When I first got here I threw an advertisement in that bin, because I was thinking “recycling.” My previous company had recycling bins all over the place and because our little bins are blue, it was natural for me to think it’s recycling. And no one told me it’s for stuff that needs to be shredded. Of course, someone caught it and told me the next day. My argument is what I just stated. And t’s an effing advertisement not customer information!

    Someone on my team did the same thing a couple times recently and from the email I got (I’m the manager), it’s clear that people who do the checking are following the policy that there was something in the bin. Didn’t matter that it was a flyer. There was *something* in the bin and it’s our responsibility to make sure it’s empty. There’s clearly no thought behind this to stop and think, “Hmmm. Let’s check the document and see what it is. Is it sensitive or confidential?” I find it very hard to get excited about that, much less talk to my employee about it.

    Anyway, I’m trying to think of a different way to handle the whole shredding thing and what suggestions I can make. Since I’m new, I don’t exactly have much political capital yet. I get that we handle confidential information and there’s no way we should leave anything unattended or unlocked overnight, but people shouldn’t be spoken to because they left a flyer in the bin.

    1. Snubble*

      We have central shredding bins on each floor of each office building and an external company comes and empties them and does the actual shredding every week. Which sounds like what you ahve except that you have your own little repository that you need to remember to transfer to the main bin?
      We don’t have at-desk trash bins at all, so if you want to throw anything out you have to get up and take it to the right bin, which builds in a stop-and-think moment about which bin you want.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        “Which sounds like what you ahve except that you have your own little repository that you need to remember to transfer to the main bin?”

        Yes, that’s exactly what we have. It just annoys me to no end that there’s no thought to the fact that it was a FLYER and not customer information. People are just very black and white about it. But maybe I need to just get over it…

        1. ArtK*

          This is probably because the people who police the bins aren’t qualified to determine what must be shredded or not. That’s why they have a blanket rule. This is really making a mountain out of a mole hill.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            That’s rather dismissive. If they are going to try to ding people for doing something, then they have to communicate what they want! Frustrated Today said that no one told them that it was a shred bin, and apparently the same thing happened to the person on their team. That’s a failure of upper management, and it is a big red flag for me. “Gotcha” culture, where rules are not communicated or ambiguous, and those enforcing them see their goal as catching people rather than preventing errors, is pretty toxic.

              1. Frustrated Today*

                I feel like it’s an oversight or miscommunication. There’s been nothing that would point towards a toxic or “gotcha” culture. Other than this and one other item (both coming from the same department), policies and procedures are communicated very well here. I think it’s a matter of people no communicating these things when people are hired. I’ve experienced that everywhere. Inevitably something pops up after months of being on the job and people just assume you knew when no one ever told you. It’s not malicious. It’s just something that isn’t written down and longtime employees just assume everyone knows.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what we had at Exjob. The bin lived in the mail room on each floor, where the copier lived also. It had a slit on top to poke papers through and a lock. We were mostly paperless, but people did occasionally print things off.

    2. JanetM*

      We don’t have any official policies on shredding that I know of (at least in my department); it’s generally left to the staff to decide if something needs to be shredded. We have a locked 55 gallon bin in the break room; it gets picked up once a month by our contracted destruction company.

    3. Dotty*

      We pretty much do what you do: Three large communal shred bins (locked so you have to put things through the slot) in different parts of the office and little blue bins at people’s desks. Front desk staff also have their own shredder and there’s another one in the printer room. Confidential information like PHI and financials absolutely needs to go in the locked bins before the end of the day and people have gotten in trouble for not doing that, but the shred bins also get used for normal paper recycling and nobody cares if you leave a spam flyer or something in the little ones.

      I don’t think your problem is how you handle the shredding. I think the problem is the person checking the bins needs to be trained to use some critical thinking.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        “I think the problem is the person checking the bins needs to be trained to use some critical thinking.”

        The policy comes “from the top” so to speak. People are delegated to do the checking. There’s been a few other things coming from that area that I vehemently disagree with, but they’re not changing so I doubt this will change either.

        1. Gumby*

          If things in the shred bins are supposed to be confidential – then the person checking *shouldn’t* be looking at what exactly it is! It’s confidential! To know that it is a flyer, they would have to read it. But you aren’t supposed to read confidential documents that aren’t within you “need to know.” So I don’t think it is on the bin-checkers to verify.

          But I also think the “anything in the bin = a write up” is a silly and formulaic practice which would just make me never put anything in it even if I did need to shred it. I would probably put it in a pile somewhere else that wouldn’t lead to being written up.

          1. Frustrated Today*

            That’s exactly what I’m doing. I very rarely generate any paper, much less anything that needs shredding. If I do, I walk to the bin that’s 10 feet down the aisle.

            We all work with the same kind of information so there wouldn’t be anything that others shouldn’t see, except maybe HR. But they’re not even in our building and the building they’re in doesn’t do these checks.

    4. Not Me*

      Are you guys handling state secrets and leaving the office door open over night? I’ve worked in HR in the financial industry and law firms and never heard of such a stringent policy (checking every night). If they don’t want people to leave documents in the shred bins at their desk (also, never heard of that) then get ride of them and make people walk over to a locked shredding bin (like most places use).

      1. Frustrated Today*

        I’ve never seen a process of having people check every night, either. This is the first time. But there are other very stringent policies here, too. So…

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        I third the suggestion to take away the bins at people’s desks. That will solve the issue if they really want people shredding every day and not leaving stuff behind.

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’d assume that someone once left something critical in plain sight and it caused a problem, so now they have this stringent blanket policy (and it’s possible nobody remembers why). So I’d try to ask that whoever does orientation for new people makes sure to explain the policy, and come up with your own system for disposing of non-critical stuff.

        Personally I’d just shred the occasional thing along with everything else so that I only have one process to follow for waste paper. I can see where you are coming from but this seems like a pretty minor hill to die on. The important thing is to convey to those who are doing the writing up that this policy was not explained to new people, but as a new person yourself I think trying to change it will get you labelled as difficult.

    5. Natalie*

      I have no idea if this would apply to you, but in some fields it’s not unusual to have strict shredding rules regardless of the paper in question. It’s just easier to have a blanket policy of emptying the paper recycling bin into the shred bin every night rather than having to parse through individual pieces of paper. It sounds like possibly nobody told you this rule, or wasn’t clear about it? If so, that would be a perfectly reasonable suggestion to make and I don’t think you need capital to do so. New people should be informed of rules, obviously.

      That said, you seem a little invested in showing that you were behaving reasonably. Of course you were, but they also have this shredding rule, which may be reasonable depending on the field. You didn’t know and now you do. Unless someone is continuing to bring this up or something, I would just let this go.

      1. LCL*

        Yes. Whenever I do a clean and purge at my house, what takes the longest is looking at each piece of paper and deciding keep, recycle, or shred. The physical act of cleaning is easy. Your job’s approach towards shredding is to make it easy and spend the minimal amount of time on it while still being effective.

        At my job, the secure shredding bins are downstairs and it is up to me to take things to it. 99.9% of our shredding is technical information. On the rare occasion I handle something personnel related, I shred it myself using our small shredder upstairs.

      2. Davide*

        I worked as a temp in the banking industry which had these policies to empty out personal rubbish bins at the end of shift to the communal shredding bin (lock box environment – companies/orgs. outsourced their payment processing operations to the bank instead of doing it internally).

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve worked in offices like this before – they don’t have a non-shredding paper recycling option, all papers are put in the shred bin. They’ve decided it’s cheaper to pay to have everything shredded than it is to carefully audit what goes out whole and make sure that no one is recycling things that need shredding. Sure, that ad from the local pizza place isn’t confidential, but they’d rather shred 100 of those than leak one person’s banking information out into the world.

        My current office is the other end of the spectrum, and and it kind of drives me nuts. I know of at least two people who keep “shred bins” at their desk that get emptied maybe a couple times a year when they get really full, and I suspect other people just recycle stuff that I’d shred since we all have recycling bins. I tend to leave things that need shredding at a specific spot at my desk, and then stop off at the shred bin on my way to the restroom since they’re near each other, but I used to work in one of those “it all goes in the shredder or gets locked up, every day” offices, so old habits die hard. I suspect I am also one of the few people who lock files/confidential papers up rather than leaving them in unlocked desk drawers.

    6. The Rain In Spain*

      We also have communal shred bins on each floor. I keep a stack at my desk as well in a separate box and just dump it periodically, but no one comes and checks here regularly. If there’s something with sensitive info I do make sure to take it to the bin immediately. In a past job compliance would come around to look for sensitive info and remind you of the policy if you left something out/accessible that you shouldn’t have. Would it be reasonable for you to discuss the policy with YOUR manager just to make sure you have clarity re expectations? You can state that your team has been reprimanded for leaving things in the bin and you want to make sure you’re giving them the correct guidance- it’s your understanding that the bins are to be emptied by close of business each day. That gives your manager insight into what’s going on and the opportunity to clear things up for you.

    7. animaniactoo*

      We have the individual bins, but we have a person who has it as a job task to come collect them and transfer them to the main bins for shredding. We are not responsible for making that transfer, just separating it at our desk.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We used to have a communal shredder in our mailroom, and I usually put my own papers through there myself, although there was a collection bin, and if someone dumped a bunch of documents in there I guess the mailroom staff would do it for them.

      Now we have Iron Mountain bins, and it’s hauled off and shredded offsite.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      You aren’t going to be able to change anything about the guys who are checking the bins. Working for the government, we have this issue with ensuring no one leaves classified information out. My office has a central sign-out/check-out sheet. At the end of the day when you sign out, you go and check the office of the person who signed out before you to make sure anything that is supposed to be locked up is locked up, nothing sensitive is left out. The first person to leave is off the hook, the last person out knows to double check/be careful to ensure s/he hasn’t left anything out. Depending on what happens to those who leave things in the bin this might be overkill, but it works for us.

    10. Llellayena*

      Long term tentative solution: If you have a way to make suggestions, can you say “Blue is a well-known color for recycling and I’ve had times I’ve mistaken our shred buckets for recycling. Is there a way we can change the shred buckets to red (or yellow, or orange)? New buckets or spray paint?”

      Short term: get into the habit of checking yours before you leave and if you see a confused new person wandering around, give them a quick heads-up just to be nice.

    11. DCGirl*

      I’m a proposal manager and have to shred all drafts and copies of the actual RFPs. We are to keep a shred box at our desks and shred it all when it gets full. We have a dedicated shredder in a locked proposal war room. Recently the shredder disappeared. I came in to find a little trail of shredding schmutz leading to the war room door and the shredder gone. It turned out one of the senior VPs had so much shredding in his office he’d moved the (very heavy) shredder there for a while c

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I was a PM, and still work in proposal development, and I’ve never had to shred an RFP – is this a government thing? I find that interesting.

    12. Anono-me*

      Why not see if you can order big bright labels that say “SHRED BIN – EMPTY EVERY NIGHT” and stick them on each of the shred bins.

    13. Sabrina Spellman*

      We have an office shred box and individual bins in our offices. Everything that has a student name on it needs to be shredded, so we’d spend a lot of time walking back and forth if we didn’t each have our own bin, though I don’t empty mine nearly enough.

    14. Flyleaf*

      It sounds like they are implicitly encouraging employees to never put something in the shred basket, and instead put everything in the trash.

    15. Lilysparrow*

      At my jobs where shredding of client info was required, the individual was expected to take items straight to the communal bin as needed, no box at your desk.

      If it was a banker’s box or more, you had a form to fill out and the folks from the file archive would come get it on a dolly and put it in the destruction queue.

    16. BuildMeUp*

      This sounds like the policy at a bank where I used to work.

      I’m going to be honest and say that this is not something you should use any capital on, full stop. If you’re working with confidential information, your company has this policy in place in order to make absolutely 100% sure that anything with customer information on it is kept safe. That means if it’s in the shred bin, it needs to be shredded and the bin emptied at the end of the day, no exceptions.

      That’s what makes these policies effective: there’s no wiggle room, and no one has to make any judgment calls (or waste time checking exactly what has been left in a bin). From experience, wiggle room leads to privacy violations because people aren’t being careful/get out of the habit of making sure the bin is empty.

      The policy exists because it keeps customer information safe.

      I understand that you didn’t know the policy, and I think that’s where you should focus your energy. Let the relevant person know that the policy wasn’t made clear to you, that there was confusion over recycling vs. shred, etc.

    17. Lilysparrow*

      Wait, I’m re-reading this, and I just realized that you said the person is written up *or spoken to,* depending how many times it’s happened.

      And that you left a flyer in the bin, and the next day someone spoke to you about it.

      So, does this “speaking to” involve some kind of public shaming or verbal abuse? Does the phrase have a special connotation in your area that I’m not picking up on?

      Because from here, it sounds like someone simply told you, “Hey, don’t do that, this is the policy.”

      Which does not sound like anything that requires an argument, or a policy change, or any political capital at all. It’s telling people who might not have been told, or who forgot, what the policy is, and only moving to a write-up if it continues.

      Which, to me, sounds totally reasonable.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        “So, does this “speaking to” involve some kind of public shaming or verbal abuse?”

        No. I just meant that they’re told the bin is supposed to be empty, it’s the policy and their responsibility to make sure it’s empty, even if it’s an advertisement.

        Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with this policy if it was actually communicated to people upon hiring. But it’s not, and it’s not written anywhere. A few people told me they didn’t know either until they were caught leaving something non-confidential in the bin overnight.

    1. ArtK*

      Fail the test == dodge the bullet

      These same managers will whine day in and day out that they can’t find good candidates. Bed, made, lie.

      1. vampire physicist*

        I probably wouldn’t pick up the candy wrapper unless I knew where a garbage was, which as an interviewee I very well may not. For that matter if it were a peanut-containing candy I wouldn’t pick it up so that I wouldn’t risk hives in the middle of a job interview. Someone with minor mobility issues or imperfect eyesight may decide not to pick it up or might just miss it. This is extremely ridiculous.
        I think the coffee cup one is slightly less ridiculous, but only just, and it’s neatly subverted if someone politely declines a beverage. Unless your ability to wash dishes is relevant to the job, this is unnecessary – there’s no shortage of other opportunities to gauge a candidate’s manners.

    2. Samwise*

      The Sunday text message?! On Sunday, I’m busy and I put away my phone. Good lord. I don’t want to work for anyone who’s contacting me on Sunday for no good reason.

    3. peachie*

      Lordy lordy. Like… is the candy wrapper in our path or across the room? Am I allowed to be, you know, sleeping? At what point am I supposed to go on an adventure to find the kitchen? Am I also supposed to know where the mugs go?? (I’d certainly ask what to do with the mug — it’s just rude to leave it on the table — but, c’mon.)

      New policy: my “test” is Are they pulling this nonsense?

    4. Steggy Saurus*

      I hate stuff like this. I was once asked in an interview for a law library assistant/facilities manager position (don’t ask!), “How do you make a peanut butter sandwich?” I thought for a second, then said, “Do you mean how do I make a peanut butter sandwich or how does one make a peanut butter sandwich?” Their response was about me, personally, so I said, “I don’t.” Heaven only knows what that says about me!

      1. Anne (with an “e”)*

        I like your answer (and I’ve been known to eat pb&j sandwiches from time to time.)

    5. Middle Manager*

      Wow those are bad. The Sunday morning one seems like you could even make a case that it’s religious discrimination. I’m at church on Sundays at 11am. I’m not going to be returning potential employer texts.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Another CEO revealed to the New York Times that she texts prospective employees at 9pm or 11am on a Sunday, “just to see how fast you’ll respond”.


      1. CrowsLikeCake*

        That stood out to me, too. Not sure what that CEO is trying to find out (or prove) about a prospective candidate. That they have no life outside of work?

    7. Lilysparrow*

      I had a hiring manager say in an interview once that he kept weird hours, so I might get an email at 4 am, but I shouldn’t feel pressured…

      I didn’t hear the rest of the sentence because I involuntary burst out laughing. He was startled. I got a handle on myself, and said, “Um, yeah. I won’t be seeing it until 8:30 or 9.”

      I got the job.

    8. Dasein9*

      I would not pick up a candy wrapper because as a guest, it is not my place to draw attention to litter in my host’s space. That would be rude!

    9. Llellayena*

      I might pick up a candy wrapper if I see it in lobby while I’m waiting, but not as I’m walking into the interview room. Because the next thing I’d do after picking up that wrapper is ask where the bathroom is to wash my hands and I wouldn’t want to do that at the beginning of the interview when I’m about to shake someone’s hand.

      And what if the phone number you provided was a landline (yes, people still use them for this)? If someone sends a text to test how quickly you respond, do you fail just because the number doesn’t receive texts? OY.

    10. Thursday Next*

      Yikes. I wouldn’t pick up trash at an interview; I’d file it away as information about the company’s self-presentation.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Right? If anything, I might judge the interviewer for not cleaning up or at least saying “excuse the mess”. Like, why would that ever be on the guest?

  22. Toxic Waste*

    I’m (finally) leaving toxic job. I went to lunch with some people, but other coworkers were invited and they didn’t go. They never really like me from the start- they were a clique-y bunch and I never really fit. These were women who would walk down the hallway, not say anything to me, unless I said “Good Morning” first. They’re the cool girls and I am not and never will be.

    They talk about people being “social” but being social doesn’t mean ostracizing others and making fun of them.

    I know this, but I still feel a little hurt that they didn’t attend. I helped them with work, brought donuts, asked them about their families/interests, gave money for their kids for Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts/ etc. I guess that I’m just a little bummed that they couldn’t join us, but I’m grateful for the people that did.

    Is it normal to feel this way? Is there something that I could have/should have done differently?

    1. fposte*

      Knowing what you know now? Retroactively, spend less energy on them. If they don’t like you when you bring donuts and donate to kids’ stuff, you might as well save your money. If there’s a possible overall takeaway, it might be “resist the urge to chase somebody who’s being hard to get.”

      I’d draw on that to spend less energy and thought on them going forward. Right now they’re overshadowing the people who *did* attend your lunch in your mental space, when it should be the other way around. They sucked; you weren’t going to change that; time to enjoy your future without them.

    2. Cat Fan*

      Congratulations on moving on! I would be relieved that a bunch of assholes declined to come to my going-away party. Who’d want them there?

    3. Little Bird*

      I’m sure deep-down you know this: it isn’t you, it’s them.
      People’s behavior reflects who they are, and they’ve shown you all along who they are and were true to it until the end. It sounds very middle-school, if you ask me, that they are only secure if they stick together and leave others out.
      I know you were hoping for better from them, but they aren’t able to be that, I’m sorry.
      Congrats on getting out!

    4. animaniactoo*

      Mostly, remind yourself that it’s okay for people not to like you. That makes it okay for you not to like them either.

      And if you don’t like them, it’s really okay to invest yourself in being civil and getting along, but let that be the limit of your effort, especially when they’re not reciprocating. Because it sounds like this would have hurt less if you hadn’t been investing that time and effort in being friendly to them. You would have less of an expectation of them reciprocating at the end of your time with them, if you had already accepted they weren’t going there and stopped trying. Which is not to say that you *have* to stop doing donuts and asking about their families and stuff. Just that if you can’t do that without the expectation of some reciprocation for it (which is normal!), it’s okay to stop doing it.

    5. WellRed*

      You’re not friendly with them, why would you be bummed they didn’t attend? Move on and take back the mental energy you are wasting on this.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Sure, it’s normal to feel this way. They are acting like asshole mean girls and they’re grown women.
      But, work is not high school. I don’t intend to sound harsh, but you have got to get over this and not let it affect you at work or expend any of your time or energy worrying about it.

      I am in my 50’s now and I really don’t give a crap whether people at work like me or not, or whether or not I fit in (one of the nice things about getting older-you just don’t care!). I’m there to do a job, make money, and while it’s certainly pleasanter to get along with people at work, they’re not my friends and I don’t really want to socialize with them beyond work.

      1. Toxic Waste*

        I know not everyone will like me, but they would make hostile comments out loud, blame me for mistakes, try to get me in trouble, etc. It was interfering with my work/ability to do my job. That’s a problem, no?

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I think the confusion is, why would you want terrible people to come to your celebration? There would be zero chance they’d suddenly behave like good people. More likely, they would have sat off by themselves and made snide comments and ruined your lunch. They suck, but try to think of it as they did you a favor by not showing up in bad faith.

    7. Batgirl*

      “I helped them with work, brought donuts…”
      Ah! Yet more data that you can’t accommodate jerks.

      I think it’s definitely normal to be disappointed in this behaviour, but in general I agree with fposte. Value people with actual value. Also, your description of their behaviour has got to be the polar opposite of ‘Cool’. Tres pathetic.

  23. Fishsticks*

    So my partner and I decided that we are going to quit our jobs (without another one lined up) and move. We have been planning to move cross-country for a while back to my home state and after a few interviews that either the job wasn’t right or wasn’t offered, we decided it would be easier and cheaper to job hunt in my home state where we can live rent-free with my family while we look.

    Does anyone have advice on this kind of thing? I’m freaking out that I’m giving up an okay paying job to move even though I know that living in the state will give me a leg up. My partner has been in the workforce longer than me and is in a field that has a lot of burnout turnover happens frequently and isn’t concerned about finding a good position. I’m fairly entry-level so it’s harder in my field.

    Basically, how do I not freak out even though I know financially this is my best bet to save some money since I won’t be paying rent and not paying $400+ to fly out for interviews?

    1. Jimming*

      I did the same thing right during the Great Recession before we all knew that was happening! (Also I still had to pay rent but it was slightly cheaper.) My strategy was to start job searching while I was planning the move so I had a few phone interviews and networking events lined up after I moved. It took both my spouse and I a few months to find jobs but in the meantime we got to explore the new area and spend some time together.

      Good luck! It sounds like you’ll have more family and financial support while you’re job searching which can help with the stress level.

      1. The Blue Marble*

        Can one of your relocate while the other job hunts in the new state? My husband and I have done this quite a few times: Florida to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to Ohio. That way there will still be a paycheck coming in and once the new job is secured, the partner can then relocate as well. I guess it would also depend on how long you can live rent free as well.

        1. Fishsticks*

          So neither of us can afford our current place on one salary (we live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the US with 3 roommates so we have to leave the same time). We both have had interviews, but I’m only a few years out of college so I only qualify for entry-level positions. Also we can stay for as long as we want with family thankfully. I’m worried about moving without a job and what to say in cover letters once I’m no longer employed, (I also have anxiety so that’s fun lol)

          1. WellRed*

            I think it might be easier to find a job if you are still fairly entry level. As to what to say about no longer being employed, I think relocating cross country to be closer to family is a pretty good reason and one that most employers will understand.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Seems like you can initially just say you’ve relocated due to a family move to the area and are looking for a new job as a result of the move – employers will probably assume that means you’re the trailing partner and the other partner moved here for work. If it comes up in the interview, you can mention that you have family in the area and moved to be closer to them. (This will reassure prospective employers that you plan to stay in the area you’ve relocated to.) People move for this reason all the time and it’s generally seen as a thing that reasonable people do.

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      This makes total sense- you will be saving money and it’s so much easier to get a job once you’re in the area. I did this when I left my toxic job- I just tried to save up as much as I could beforehand and limit discretionary spending. Being more entry-level might make it easier for you to find a job! There tend to be more of those available. Do you have any contacts in the area/professional organizations where you can network as well? That’s not my typical approach but it ended up being what helped me get my current position (which I LOVE). Hope everything works out well for you both and you end up with jobs you enjoy!

      1. Fishsticks*

        I don’t have many contacts but my boss (who knows I’m leaving and wants to help me find a job) is opening up his network to me and is willing to contact any friends he has at places I’m interested in which is so helpful. Thankfully I have a decent amount saved up and saving on rent will help a ton (:

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’re going to have a lot of advantages being in the area, including being able to quickly interview if someone is filling a role without time for you to schedule a flight, etc. It’s scary when things are unknown but it’s worth it, you have a good landing pad having your parents willing to let you get on your feet with the rent free arrangement! I bet they’re excited to have you move home as well =)

      Just remember to deep breathe and remind yourself that it’s more cost effective this way. Try to chase the scary thoughts out with logic, that’s helped me over the years.

      You may want to think about if you are able to stay in your field or if you need to switch industries if the job market is limited and your limited experience is going to be an issue.

    4. Interplanet Janet*

      Do you have any office/bookkeeping skills? If you’re moving to a decent sized city, look into doing temp work when you arrive. It’s a great way to build your local network, get a foot in the door, learn a little more about local companies, and make some money while you’re looking.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I’ve done it multiple times and it’s worked out, but I’m basically lucky and also not afraid of credit card debt.

      Good luck!!

  24. mildregards*

    People who have started online businesses, do you know of any communities of fellow business owners worth joining? Or blogs that have truly helpful resources, ideally with comments sections like this one rather than, y’know, like the rest of the internet.

    I have a product I’m proud of and a niche that’s definitely a thing (greeting cards for awkward situations and difficult relationships), but I’m not quite sure how to market other than word of mouth and paid ads on blogs or social media. Which is plenty to get me started! I’m just…wishing for a roadmap, and for connection to others in a similar situation.

    1. Bee lady*

      Hi! I’m in a similar situation. There are some good Facebook groups, like Sell Like An Artist. I also pushed the craft fair route hard in my first year and made a point of introducing myself to other vendors so I could learn from them. Bigger craft fairs are also great for visibility because you get added to their directories.

      I’m happy to talk to you more about this! I entered my email when I wrote this comment (which I hope shows up?) if you want to get in touch.

      1. Bee lady*

        Okay, it looks like it didn’t show up. If you have any specific questions, I’m happy to answer them here :)

        1. mildregards*

          My username at gmail will get you my contact info, and I’d love to talk further.

  25. Karen from Finance*

    Hi, reporting from the crazy startup where everything’s made up and professional rules don’t matter. (The one with the psycho animal-hurting coworker, the CEO who called me baby twice and where half the company is friends or family of one of the owners).

    Didn’t see the CEO this week. My boss (CFO) got in an argument with the commercial lead about the latest shitty commercial decision the CEO made without asking him. He actually said “You are not listening. Are you not going to stop this until he ends up in jail?”. – Apparently there are ramifications that weren’t considered, but then again, of course they weren’t.

    I had to chuck an entire project that I’d been working on for months. Just chuck the entire thing and start over. There was nothing wrong with how I’d done it, they just modified all the source data in a whim and I have to start over. This keeps happening. On another project, we were supposed to be collaborating with several departments and we agreed that we’d each be working on our part. I’m the only one who did my part. One of the leads didn’t do his, but started nitpicking my part of the work; when I asked him to do his, he said he’s too busy (I gently reminded him that if he’s so busy, all the more reason to focus on HIS side. Still, he won’t get it done). And that’s how the entire project ended up becoming my responsability, when I don’t have the knowledge or the time to do it by myself.

    I feel like I’m continually being set up for failure. I’m feeling my state of mind starting to slip. I’ve struggled with depression in the past, I know the drill, and I’m starting to get scared. I have got hardly any work done this week, I can’t get myself to do anything when everything feels so worthless but then I feel so bad about myself.

    So. I have a meeting with my boss in an hour, where we’re supposed to be setting objectives for the semester. I figure I’m just going to tell him everything, except for the job search part. But about how impossible my job is right now, about how I feel disrespected, about the “baby” thing. Last week he told me I’m his top performer and he wants to set up a career plan for a promotion in the future, that’s about as much political capital as I can get. So fuck it. can’t do this anymore.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I know it feels like they’re doing this on purpose and that it’s a “setup” to watch you fail but as your faithful peace of mind “on the outside”, I don’t think that’s the case. I truly believe they’re so haphazard and ridiculous that they’re just a zoo, a total circus! They aren’t really gunning for you, they always seem to like you…they just s-t-i-n-k at you know, being professional and running a frigging business! *hugs* I know that it’s easier from the outside to think this but given the info you’ve shared over the past, it really seems like they’re just a bunch of bumbling dillweeds who aren’t malicious [except that psychopath who talks about hurting animals, that’s a bad person right there]. They’re just grossly inept and it’s killing you because you’re a smart, capable, hard working person who is trapped on an island of people who severely lack those traits!

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Yeah, I think that’s the one difference between Hellmouth and me. While she was actually being set up by Hellboss, this is just gross incompetence on several levels and the Dunning-Kruger effect. There’s only a couple of people who I think are actually malicious. Still, it so often ends up FEELING like a setup because I keep being asked to do high-profile tasks but my official role doesn’t have high seniority, so the cards always end up stacked against me (which is what I plan to bring up in my meeting soon, with different phrasing).

        1. Karen from Finance*

          I just googled and apparently the cards analogy implies intentionality. Please correct that part to “so it always ends up being a lose-lose scenario for me”.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Minds are terrible like that! I can relate 100% to “knowing” one thing on a logical level and yet you still have that mental meltdown. Case and point, I have had some stupid minor health issues just piling up that regularly would just be a “argh cold/flu season winding down and it’s gotten me bad this year”.

          Then I went in for a routine exam where a medical professional WebMD’ed me, “it’s probably nothing but it could be that you’re gonna die.” and my brain went to “YOURE GONNA DIE”. I went so far as to get my insurance lined up and letting my partner and mom know about how to collect it.

          It took an ED doc and my PCP to talk me down. Yet still, I have been having more panic attacks lately due to it.

          Our brains are wired like that and it’s an uphill battle. But I know that you will win this war.

      2. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Yep, totally agree with this. You’re the one non-wackadoo on Wackadoo Island.

    2. ArtK*

      This is certainly not about you. This place is toxic and dysfunctional and you should be looking hard for something new. I get a feeling that you are trying to somehow save this place. Taking over a project because the other peoople aren’t doing there part is a really bad idea. Let the project fail, just make sure that you’ve documented what you did. I doubt that the place can be saved at all and there’s no reason for you to destroy yourself tyring to keep it afloat.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        I get a feeling that you are trying to somehow save this place.

        I absolutely was at first. Lately? Can’t be bothered. But it’s bringing me down, because giving up on people makes me feel terrible.

        Taking over a project because the other peoople aren’t doing there part is a really bad idea.

        It was my boss’s idea, not mine. We were all working on a document together and he had me remove the other people’s edit permissions. Should’ve pushed back harder, will push back again now after discussing with one of the leads.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Well they are giving up on themselves, too, so it’s not as though you are solely failing to give critical support.

    3. Been There*

      Best of luck to you on your job search! I worked through a similar (not quite so bad) experience a couple of years ago, and stayed FAR too long. It’s hard for you psyche to take it and you have my empathy.

    4. Karen from Finance*

      Update: that meeting was a fail, my boss was having none of it so I didn’t end up saying much. I think my coworker wore him down before me. Will try again next week maybe.

      1. leya*

        ugh, i’m really sorry to hear this. i hope that you’re able to devote some real time to taking care of yourself; whatever you need (meditation, exercise, bath, mindless TV). look at your calendar and devote at LEAST 4 sacred hours a week to relaxing. if you have access to therapy, this would be a great reason to go. if not, i hope you have a few trusted friends/family members that you can share this with. and if you’re able, after taking care of yourself, to devote some time (any amount!) to a job search, that couldn’t hurt as well. but make sure you take care of yourself first – that’s what matters most. i’m really rooting for you!!

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Thank you!

          I do have a hobby, I’m a beginner makeup artist on my time off. I’m taking professional classes and everything! And lately we’re being assigned more ambitious projects for class that require planning and research, so I’ve been relying on that (and on reliving my abandoned instagram) to try to put my mind off things. It’s something so indulgent that it gives a nice counterbalance to this whole thing.

          I’m also lucky to get to cuddle my s.o. and our 4 furbabies, that helps too.

          I took this week off the job search after taking a bit hit last week, but I’ll be resuming that soon, yeah.

          1. leya*

            ooooh that sounds so cool!! glad you have something fun to take your mind off of job weirdness. and no sweat on taking a week of your search – you’re a person first, gotta take care of yourself!

  26. Anathema Device*

    I missed out on a job recently that would have been a promotion for me – a very strong external candidate got it. My manager (who was the hiring manager) offered to give me feedback and I was expecting it to be quite brief but we went through every question and she’s given me absolutely loads of tips and advice.

    Is it wishful thinking that she wouldn’t do that if she didn’t rate me?

    1. Karen from Finance*

      I think it would depend on a few more factors, like how she is as a person (is the the type of person who would do this for ANYBODY or is she more selective of her time?) and the nature of her advice (was it mostly negative, or was it just areas where you can improve while showing actual appreciation?).

      From the way you’re describing it, it seems like she appreciates you. At a minimum, she seems invested in seeing you grow professionally and she just did you a great kindness. Take the most out of her advice! This kind of feedback is rare and useful.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Hey, congratulations for having an awesome boss. I know that not getting the job SUCKS, but this is the best way that could have played out.

    2. fposte*

      I think it’s possible she’d do that for any employee, but it’s a lot likelier that she sees potential in you. So I wouldn’t say that for sure she wouldn’t do it if she didn’t rate you, but I do think it’s reasonable to accept her advice and willingness to help at face value.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      Can’t speak your boss, but I certainly wouldn’t do that for a direct report unless I respected them, trusted them to act on advice, and thought they were worth developing.

    4. Sam Sepiol*

      When one of one team leads did it for me it was because I’d blown the interview and she absolutely wanted me to get it the next time (which was soon, and I did). I hope the same is true for you!

      Also, EXCELLENT handle. Are you watching on Prime?

      1. Venus*

        I think this comment is key – a boss will only do this, at that level of detail, for someone they want to succeed when a similar opportunity comes up. There’s no guarantee that you will be the best candidate at any specific competition, but she’s definitely putting in the work to give you the best chance!

        Her comments aren’t proof of how well you did this time (without specific info you can’t know if you were excellent or mediocre in the interview), but in that situation I expect it means that she thinks you would do the job itself well.

  27. Bummed*

    Also to add, I said that I was leaving at noon, but my boss said that I could leave early at 11:00. She literally walked with me and was like, “Is there anyone that you want to say goodbye to?” and proceeded to walk with me as I said goodbye to people. Was I being walked out? I wasn’t fired- I resigned 3 weeks ago. What did she think I was going to do?

    She then talked about how the new position is set up and she’s happy with the salary, etc. She then literally walked me to the door. Even the guard was surprised! Did I do something wrong? Is this standard procedure? I felt like a criminal or something. Wtf?

    1. fposte*

      Has there been a history of problems with you and this boss? Because what you describe to me sounds like a reasonably friendly farewell where she didn’t just want you to slink off unnoticed.

      1. Bummed*

        She told me to gather my stuff and basically walked out with me. She added that I could say bye to people, but it was almost like an afterthought. (People said bye to me when I gave my notice and I talked with them during that time, so technically I already said my goodbyes.) She was abusive, hostile, and toxic, so I think that she just wanted me out of there.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds like you hated the job anyway, so I’d just shrug this off as one more reason to be happy you’re out of there.

    2. Federal Middle Manager*

      There was *just* that shooting last week after the employee resigned. I have no reason to believe you give off bad-resignation vibes, but management might be jumpy or have talked about new protocols.

    3. Forkeater*

      This happened to me when I left my job a few months ago! I was really taken aback. My manager walked me all the way out to my car. I’d been there five years and left on good terms and maybe he considered it a nicety but it felt kind of shameful.

  28. Lily Evans*

    I just need to vent for a minute. I have a coworker who’s recently taken to wearing a full wrist of clanking metal bracelets and it’s driving me nuts. They constantly make noise against her desk as she types and she keeps shaking them down her arm when they get too close to her hamd. I’m kind of bec with her for other things, and this is just making it worse. We also work in a library so a quiet work space is expected and there’s not really any background noise to drown out the bracelets. I can wear headphones but I can still hear the jangling. At least it’s Friday.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I feel your pain too. Until recently I had a colleague who wore boots that jangled, just like a cowboy in a western. We took to calling her Sheriff. The upside is that we could hear her coming, and could put on our headsets to avoid conversation.

    2. Anono-me*

      Get her more bracelets.

      Seriously, you should be able to find some inexpensive bracelets that are metal or plastic wrapped with embroidery floss or cord. The fabric covered bracelets will cushion and muffle the sound of the metal bracelets. Make a big deal about how you saw that and thought they were just perfect for her and normally you wouldn’t blur the boundaries like this, but it was just too perfect to pass up. Then if she doesn’t wear them, you can act all hurt and sad and hopefully guilt her into wearing them.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Gee, those bracelets are surprisingly noisy, even from way over here at my desk. Is there anything you can do to keep them still?”

      1. valentine*

        Yes. “Carlisle, would you mind not wearing the bracelets? I can hear them through my headphones.”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She may not even notice. I used to wear three metal beaded bracelets on my right wrist that kind of shook and would knock against my laptop, and I swear I didn’t notice a thing because I was so used to it. Someone said to me once, “Wow, your bracelets are jangly!” and I was extra careful after that. I eventually stopped wearing them (after at least 15 years) because they were loosening and I didn’t want to risk breaking them.

      Of course, this only works if she strikes you as a generally reasonable person who doesn’t relish disturbing people.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, I have a couple charm bracelets that are really heavy and I finally quit wearing them to work because they make a rattling sound against my keyboard tray as I type and I was worried that it might bug people. Nobody said anything, but people usually don’t unless they are super annoyed.

  29. For this? Anon*

    Is “emotional health” day a legit use of sick time?

    I came so close to taking one today. I had my call-out email written (just vague “I’m sick I won’t be in today”) but the guilt took over so I sucked it up and came in. My supervisor is highly anxious and has a very stressful job and often dumps on me. I’m starting to get resentful about it to the point that I start to get irrationally angry whenever they ask me to do tasks. So far I’ve been able to control my emotions and behave professionally but I feel like I might crack.

    I have a short vacation (5 days, including weekend) in two weeks but I don’t know if I can make it. I feel like a day at home doing nothing would make me feel like I have some control (can opt out of the emotional dumping in a way that won’t affect my relationship with my boss). But guilt!

    1. anonish4this*

      I took one yesterday. No shame! Not even job stress related, just pregnant and slept terribly and needed a day on the couch watching PBS Masterpiece. I feel like a whole new person today.

      1. valentine*

        If you mean you’re forced to listen to her or she retaliates, there’s no one above her to appeal to, and you’re not leaving the job anytime soon, shore up your defenses. Learn not to care. (Unless her crap is triggering.) Establish a boundary she can’t trample. Get to a place where she can’t make you feel the way she wants. You do have a measure of power and control, and it’s on how receptive you are to her manipulation.

    2. Notthemomma*

      Yes it is. Full stop.
      Your mental health impacts physical health. It impacts all areas of your life in an outside of work. Take the time, take care of yourself and don’t feel you need to justify.

    3. DC*

      Yes. 100%. I took one this week, because I’d gotten some very bad news the day before and knew I wouldn’t be effective in the office.

      I am lucky I have a fantastic boss, I just told him that I was taking a mental health day and he told me to take two if I needed.

      Emotional health is important, and we don’t do enough to take care of it.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      Emotional health is 100% a valid call out sick reason! I mean, some bosses might be weird if they catch you out at the beach, so I consider emotional-break days very stay-cation focused. But your brain is part of your body, and it needing quiet time and a nap is just as legit as if you had a bad headache or an upset stomach.

      1. For this? Anon*

        Yeah based on the way my boss manages their own emotional health I do not think they would agree with you. They would definitely see it as “faking sick.” But what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

    5. IT Ninja*


      I’m just recently becoming able to notice when I’m at the “I can push through this but if I do, I’ll have a breakdown in two days and be out of commission for a week” point of stress. And then either leaving work a couple hours early because I am not feeling well — which I’m not!! — or staying home in the first place.

      1. For this? Anon*

        I’m also just recently learning to read cues of when I am too stressed, and in turn realizing how much emotional energy I pour into my job. Too much!

    6. For this? Anon*

      Thank you, strangers of the internet, for validating my feelings! If I’m still feeling grouchy and resentful after the weekend I will take a day.

    7. Lora*

      Yep, absolutely. “Sick of work” = sick. As *a* manager, though not *your* manager, I vastly prefer that people keep their worse behaviors at home as needed, to preserve the general harmony of the group and so I do not have to repeat five times over, “maybe she was having a bad day. Everyone is entitled to have a bad day once in a while. It probably has nothing to do with you.”

    8. Veryanon*

      It totally is. Fortunately my company has one bucket of FTO which we can take however we want, but at past jobs I’ve definitely felt the need from time to time for a mental health day. I used to feel guilty about it, but not anymore. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If it makes you feel better, aside from all of us who will chime in with our opinions, I’m in a state with mandated Sick Leave in place. Mental Health Days count! They are right there in the statute so that people have no question about it.

      If a state legislature says it’s acceptable, it may give you more of a push to see that this is an appropriate use of sick time!

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      Yes. I take two a year. I look at them as, if I don’t do this now, I’ll get really, genuinely sick, and probably be out for longer.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yes! My criteria is that if I can say with a straight face “I’m not really feeling well and I think I just need to spend today in bed. I’m going to see if a day of rest can turn this around before I get really sick.”, then that’s a sick day. If the reason I’m not feeling well and want to spend the day in bed reading novels and taking it easy is because work is exhausting rather than because I have a virus, well, that’s still a day spent in bed resting so I can recharge rather than drag myself to work where it’ll get worse.

    12. Cows go moo*

      Yes. I am at the point of stress that even a tiny provocation will likely end up in me having a break down and resigning on the spot. I will be taking a few days off.

      I treat it the same way as I would a physical illness. I stay in bed, read, drink lots of tea, and watch silly movies.

      It’s so important we take care of our brain health.

    13. Windchime*

      Totally legit. Your mental health is as important (if not more so) as your physical health. I just send an email saying, “I’m under the weather today and will be taking a sick day. Hope to see you all tomorrow.” Send. Nobody questions it and I don’t feel guilty. Being stressed out and anxious doesn’t help anyone.

  30. FreddyLongJohns*

    When asking for a raise, is it generally better to ask for it in terms of percent of your salary or absolute dollar amounts? For example, 10% vs. $10,000

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think you should calculate what the % increase would get you in dollars and give it as a dollar amount. There’s some research (according to a WSJ blurb) that asking for your desired amount in a non-round number (ex: $43,250 vs. $43,000) makes it seem subconsciously that you’ve done more research and know what you’re talking about.

      Of course, I’ve also heard that people like balanced looking numbers like 0 and 5, so if you get offered $43k and ask to bump up to $45k instead, people tend to see that as positive.

      So who even knows, lol. I think your best bet is to make a sound case for your increase and really know your market value going in. But I’d still give the number so you’re not asking your manager to do additional “work”/math when requesting your raise. And you’ll both know exactly what your asking for.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This – if you’re going to be brave enough to broach this topic, go all the way with it.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Desired salary is the best option, but it’s useful to know how that calculates out as percentage, especially if your company has standard raise amounts, or raise caps. (some places might require higher-up approval on raises past 10%, for example)

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can ask for both? Just say “I’d like a 10,0000 raise, that lands us at 10%.” because they’re going to see you’re aware of the numbers and they’re going to crunch them anyways.

      A lot of places have a magic percentage number for raises, some cap them at say 5% or here it’s 10% [thanks to the previous jerkwad who was found to be giving their faves insane salary bumps, way to ruin it for the rest of the world, man.]. Unless there’s a role change of course, that’s a different story.

  31. Lady Dedlock*

    Looking for some commiseration about the pitfalls of having a human body with bodily functions in the workplace. (Grossness warning, obviously.)

    Yesterday, I discovered in dramatic fashion that I am incapable of drinking strong black tea without milk when I vomited the entire cup into my trash bin. (Before anyone speculates, I’m not pregnant; checked as soon as I got home. Apparently, this is a thing that happens to some people, due to the tannins in tea???) At any rate, I was quite shocked and embarrassed at what happened and went home immediately.

    Someone tell me I’m not the only one who’s been there!

    1. Newbie*

      Reminds me of the first week of one of my past internships: I had the WORST headache of my life. Probably a migraine. I couldn’t see straight, was super nauseous, short of breath, it was just Very Bad. But since it was my first week, I didn’t really feel like it was right to leave! I’m sure my boss would have wanted me to go home but I just couldn’t imagine dipping out like that so soon into it. I suffered through and spent the rest of the day miserable…luckily, I haven’t had something like that happen since.

      1. valentine*

        Be proud of your quick thinking and sufficient control to use an adequate receptacle.

    2. mildregards*

      Totally happened to a friend of mine. She didn’t even realize it til she moved to Japan and tried to drink green tea there, because she always had (black) tea with milk at home.

    3. JanetM*

      Many years ago, I was prescribed a bronchodilator. I took the first two doses, and turned out to be highly sensitive to it — I was jittery, I had the runs, my heart was racing, and I had so much trouble concentrating that I literally had to stop and think about every individual word I was hearing to make any sense of speech — and sometimes lost track partway through the sentence.

      My boss kept trying to send me home; all I could think was, “I can’t drive like this, I’d kill someone!”

      Fortunately, a friend who had done a short-term job for the company came by to pick up his check and took me home to recuperate. I can’t remember now if he stayed overnight and took me to work in the morning, or drove me back to pick up my car late in the evening when I felt better.

    4. fposte*

      You saw the post a month or so ago about people who’ve pooped and peed themselves at work, right?

    5. Cat Fan*

      I have to be careful drinking tea on an empty stomach. I only ever drink it black, but I don’t drink it before eating breakfast.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Definitely me too! I learned this at conferences: I am not a morning person at all and I don’t drink coffee and a couple times I thought “Oh, I’ll drink a cup of tea and it’ll help me stay awake for this session.” Instead, I ended up rushing out of the presentation for the bathroom. I think both times I managed not to throw up, but I now absolutely not, under any circumstances, drink a cup of black tea without eating something first.

      2. Trinity Beeper*

        Yes, I learned this the hard way! I brought a kettle with me to summer camp when I was a teen. One day, I drank some black tea before breakfast. I didn’t even make it to the cafeteria – I was curled up, dry heaving about 100 steps away.

    6. Apostrophina*

      I have the same problem if I quickly drink a lot of strong tea on an empty stomach (and I’m from the southern US and was raised on very strong, sweet tea—you’d think my tolerance would be infinite by now).

      It hasn’t happened at work, but I have certainly had to race into a few restaurant bathrooms!

    7. medium of ballpoint*

      Definitely not the only one! One of my team members vomited in the office last week after we took them out for a celebratory lunch. We felt awful because we picked the restaurant, but they went home and were fine the next day and no one even thought about it. We’re humans and sometimes that terribly base-level humanness gets the best of us. Hope you’re feeling better!

    8. LaDeeDa*

      I threw up in the parking lot once from some using one of those Sense-y wax burner things. It gave me a horrible headache, so I was leaving for the day, as I was walking out– just as pretty much the entire company was coming back from lunch- I starting gagging/coughing and then threw up right in front of them all.

    9. Veryanon*

      Oh man. I’ve had this happen to me, and I love tea. One time I got sick from drinking cranberry juice on the subway, and vomited into a trash can after stumbling off the train. No one even noticed; I could have been murdering someone and no one would have cared. No, I was not pregnant at the time.
      Anyway, I hope you feel better soon.

    10. Frea*

      I react that way to tea (the tannins feel really gross in my throat and an empty stomach can make it three times worse). My most embarrassing “Oh god I’m human” moment came from almost passing out and ruining a take on a friend’s film. I knew locking your knees while standing at attention could make you drop, but I didn’t know kneeling upright could. Educational but I’d have preferred not to learn that in a professional setting.

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not just you. Mine was a fast developing migraine that caught me off guard.

    12. hermit crab*

      In my late teens through mid-twenties I suffered from what is apparently called “cyclical vomiting syndrome.” It’s just as much fun as the name makes it sound. Luckily, most of my triggers weren’t things that appeared/happened in the workplace, and I seem to have grown out of it (knock on wood), but that combined with my susceptibility to motion sickness means I became an absolute pro at unobtrusive vomiting in public. It’s a useful skill!

      (Also, I’ve never heard of the tea thing. That’s fascinating!)

    13. Lemon Zinger*

      Green tea sometimes makes me nauseous when I drink it on an empty stomach, so this doesn’t surprise me. I’m sorry it happened, though! Thank goodness your trash bin was nearby. :)

    14. DAMitsDevon*

      I luckily haven’t thrown up at work (knock on wood), though the last time our remote staff was in town, we had a team meeting in a small room that was way too warm. It ended with my boss getting nauseous and having to run to the bathroom to throw up, and another person almost passing out a few minutes later. Anyway, I’m really hoping this means that the next time everyone is back in town, we’ll have meetings in better ventilated rooms!

    15. The Phleb*

      Totally not the only one! On a bus trip set up through work (didn’t have to hang out with them) and got horribly motion sick on the way home. Was forever grateful that I work at a hospital and half the ER was there so it wasn’t anything they hadn’t seen a million times before!

    16. tea2*

      this has happened to me!! i have to make sure i drink green or black tea with some food in my stomach or i get soooo nauseous

    17. MaybeNeedASickDay?*

      Devious mind here. I think I just figured out how to get out of our next mandatory group activity shortly after it starts….

  32. grace*

    I need to gather some references for a job offer and I’d like to ask a former manager – I don’t have his email address, though, so I’m wondering whether messaging him on LinkedIn would work? And if so – I don’t even know where to start with what to say, so any short and sweet requests you’ve written before would be appreciated. :)

    1. The Rain In Spain*

      Linkedin should be fine! In the past I’ve started off with a brief general hope you’re doing well, provide a short update of what’s happening, and then ask if s/he’d be willing to be a reference for me for the role. If they say yes, I send them more information about the role/why i’m interested/etc. and thank them. obviously!

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      If you’re already connected on LinkedIn, I think this would work.

      “Hi! I’m gathering references for a job offer, and was hoping you wouldn’t mind stepping in for me? I’d need your current email and phone number. I really appreciate it. Hope things are going well for you [at company name | in city name | ‘these days’]!”

    3. Snarktini*

      You may be able to see his email addresses under contact info on his LinkedIn profile. Often, that’s the case if you’re connected — worth a look! But emailing not necessarily better than messaging. It depends on the person, which one they pay more attention to.

  33. Sled dog mama*

    I’m starting to get a little ragey over this so need some perspective.
    My office uses an electronic to-do list sort of like a ticket system but instead of one person working the ticket start to finish, each person has discrete tasks and the list makes sure they get done in the proper order and on time. We have five people in the position that puts most of my tasks on (they rotate who puts the tasks on weekly but all the same job function). The tasks tied to a to-do item are the most visible part of my job to my coworkers but only make up about 35-40% of my responsibilities. Sometimes my portion doesn’t get done until the day required (still on time) and coworkers will remind me hey X is due today, but I have one coworker who will call and remind me if things aren’t done well in advance. Today I have gotten no less than 3 calls and 1 visit over tasks that aren’t due until Monday. It’s just this one coworker doing it but it’s seriously disruptive to my ability to get the other 60% of my job done.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Aack. My task also doesn’t prevent coworkers from doing their tasks even if I wasn’t getting it done on time.

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      Tell the coworker to knock it off! Thank you, coworker, I am aware that the task is due Monday and it will be completed by then. It’s in my queue!

      If they come back again after that (but bf Monday)- is there some reason this task needs to be expedited? As we discussed previously, it’s in my queue and will be addressed by Monday.

    3. Ama*

      Honestly with it just being this one coworker I’d just tell them — “I know you’re just trying to help, but you interrupting me to remind me about tasks that aren’t due yet is making it hard to get the rest of my work done.”

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Since this is recurring, I’d say to the coworker, “You send me reminders about my tasks. Could you tell me why that is?”

      Then listen to their explanation, especially for anything that’s valid. Finally, say, “I need you to stop doing that, because it’s distracting me from the majority of my job. Can you do that?”

      If they continue to do so and/or refuse, then I would talk with your manager, to get their take on this. If you don’t share a manager, hopefully YourManager will talk with Coworker’sManager and get Coworker to stop.

    5. Venus*

      I would be tempted to ask them if the deadline they provided is too late for them, if they are so worried about you not being done early… but it’s a passive-aggressive and cynical way of thinking!

    6. Batgirl*

      Make them explain themselves. “Am I missing something? Why are you telling me this?” If they keep it up: “We’ve talked about this. I don’t need someone to read the checklist for me and it makes me wonder if there’s an emergency or if there’s something terribly wrong. It’s distracting and annoying”

  34. Newbie*

    I’m in my first post-college job and am having trouble asserting myself/not being timid around these people who are all higher-up than me. One specific problem I keep running into is: I’ll have a meeting scheduled with my manager (it will be on both of our calendars), and when I show up to her office she’s deep in conversation with someone else (usually HER boss). When this happens, I’ll usually just linger around her office until I see this visitor leave. Is there a certain amount of time I should wait before gently interrupting? I’m guessing that also depends on who she is talking to?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. TCO*

      I think you’re following the right instincts here to let her wrap up her conversation, especially if the other person is higher up. But you can also just ask her! Some bosses would genuinely appreciate being reminded that it’s time for your meeting to start, though I think most would prefer that you wait like you’ve been doing. The next time you meet, just ask, “I know sometimes you’re still wrapping up another conversation when our meeting is scheduled to start. Do you prefer for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing and waiting for your other conversation to end? Or do you prefer for me to knock and check with you each time?”

        1. Auntie Social*

          You can also IM her that you saw CEO in her office but just let me know when you’re ready for our meeting.

    2. boredatwork*

      You have to start thinking of these people as normal, just like you. I used to do the awkward door hangout too, now I just knock, and say something like, “sorry to interrupt, should I come back in a few minuets?” You have to do this with a smile and a pleasant tone.

      Sometimes by boss is happy to have a reason to boot the other person out of their office or they’ll “reschedule” for later that day.

      Universally, it seems no one likes a lurker.

      1. Newbie*

        I’m struck by your comment saying I have to think of them as normal … you’re very right, that’s something I haven’t been doing but it would make interactions a lot better!!

        1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

          I’ve struggled with this too! I am also in my first post college office job and although I just work at the front desk there are times when I do have to ask the high up executives for information, or go knock on their closed doors to deliver things.
          It was extremely nerve-wracking at first until I realized what boredatwork said, they are all normal people! They also are likely to have NO idea that you feel intimidated and weird, and they will not know that you feel like this unless you outwardly signal it, so just be polite, calm, and straightforward. It’s not a big deal unless you make it one :)

        2. boredatwork*

          As someone who has aged from “newbie” to probably that person you’re afraid to interrupt, trust me, we’re all normal. If someone is extremely put out by your existence, they’re a jerk and you shouldn’t take that as an okay professional norm.

          Another point about the lurking, you’re not meant to hear every conversation, announcing your presence is appreciated.

      2. Snubble*

        “no one likes a lurker”

        We had a temp once who spent several full minutes standing just behind my right shoulder, out of my peripheral vision, waiting for me to notice her so she could ask me a question without feeling she’d interrupted. I was aware after a minute or so that she probably wanted me, but I was morbidly curious about how long she would stand in silence where I couldn’t actually see her, trying to get my attention via telepathy. The answer was, long enough that I gave up.

        I did suggest that next time she should just speak to me, but apparently she’d been waiting for me to finish the task I was working on, because it looked like I was concentrating – I was, but that task was about three days long. She was not persuaded.

    3. Federal Middle Manager*

      I still follow this protocol and I’m in upper management. If my boss is talking to her boss (the CEO-equivalent), I wait as long as it takes.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      Ask your manager sometime what she would like you to do. Some want as long as it takes and some need a prodding to stay on schedule. My boss is back to back meetings all day and has a glass door, so anyone he meets with regularly knows they can knock and he’ll give a hand symbol: he’ll either wave you in, put up a 1 to stay “stick around, I just need 1 more minute” or he’ll put up a five if he needs five more minutes.

    5. Basia, also a fed*

      This happens all the time where I work. I go back to my desk and send an email. I put “let me know when you’re ready to talk” in the subject.

  35. MYOB*

    I work in a small office as a secretary. I have regular hours, but periodically come in early or stay late. One [non-supervisory] employee, who often works unpredictable hours, has taken to asking why I’m there every time I’m in early (or she thinks I’m in early) or late. I don’t feel I owe her an explanation for my presence, and this is really starting to get on my nerves. Any scripts I can use to politely discourage this questioning?

      1. Garland not Andrews*

        This! Keep it short, truthful (you are just working), and uninformative. In other words, boring! After all work is just work!

    1. Not Me*

      “Why do you ask?” Then don’t tell her why you’re working outside your normal schedule.

      1. valentine*


        Naris: Why so early?
        MYOB: Why do you ask?
        Naris: Do I have to have a reason?
        MYOB: Do I?

        Naris: I’m sorry I care about you!
        MYOB: I accept. Let us never speak of it again. *raises eyebrows/smiles*

        Naris: *confesses reason*
        MYOB: I see./That makes sense./Oh./Is that right?

    2. Lucy*

      I wouldn’t answer directly. I’d assume it was social grooming, like “nice weather we’ve been having” or “how about the sportsball” or whatever, and answer with other empty social grooming.

      “You’re in early, MYOB.”
      “Morning, Cordelia. Coffee’s hot.”

      And turn back to your spreadsheet/emails/reports.

      You’re right, she’s not entitled to know, so act as though she isn’t asking.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I get asked this too, despite being in the most flexible position in the entire company and just adhering to a set of core hours, which gives me a lot of wiggle room. The response is to just chuckle at them because it’s like “Surely you know the reason, I’m here now so I can leave early.”

      I get the “Burning the midnight oil, eh?” comments when I’m here late too from the late shift. Thankfully I like everyone and their tone is never incredulous or something, so I just chuckle and go along with my work.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I usually just respond with something like “I’m thinking of just moving in here – I could get one of those loft beds from Ikea and put it right over my desk”. (Usually it’s our custodian noticing that I’m working late, which she does need to ask about since I’m allowed to work later than her if needed and the last one out needs to put on the building alarm, so I don’t mind her asking how late I’ll be working. I trot out the Ikea comment if she comments on how many days in a row I’m working late. I work late because I don’t do mornings if I don’t have to, so I shift my schedule as late as I can based on other work needs.)

  36. Aly Dee*

    What websites are the best for job searching? I’ve seen quite a few posts/comments on here stating that a lot of hiring managers don’t post on Monster or Indeed, but that seems to be all that comes up as I’m looking for a new job! What has worked for all of you? If it helps I’m looking for a job in pharmaceuticals. Thanks!

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I used Indeed and Glassdoor to find jobs to apply to and then went directly to the company’s website to officially apply. My brother also recommended getting a list of the Fortune 500 list and going through to find companies that are in your particular field and then going on their website to see if they have any current openings. I did that two job searches ago, and it didn’t do much for me, but my brother swears his friend used that method and got his job with Coca Cola that way.

    2. Check it out*

      Sometimes when local colleges have job fairs they will have a list of all of the companies who are attending On their website. You can check out who is there then go to the websites of those companies to see what jobs they have open. If you do something like this, you can even search the specific departments like the College if Engineering, or the College of Business to Get to more relevant positions.

    3. AudreyParker*

      Glassdoor and LinkedIn, primarily, and Indeed. Also individual companies’ websites if there are ones I’m interested in, as that will be most up-to-date. Sometimes there are industry-specific sites, too, or industry-related orgs/associations that share job openings – maybe there’s one for pharma? I’ve heard that Google Jobs can be useful, but I haven’t really found it any better than the other options at this point.

    4. Amethyst*

      Indeed, hands down. It’s the best one I’ve found, & the most comprehensive. I also go to ratracerebellion dot com for WFH jobs (they curate a list of legit ones & post them daily on their website; they also have a FB page under the same name where they’ll post new/popular/in demand jobs when they come up daily).

      To a lesser extent, I’ll check my state’s hiring website (for state AND non-state jobs) but it’s been more of a miss than a hit. Sometimes I’ll apply to a job I saw advertised on FB under [town/county] Open Forum or Bulletin, etc. I’ll also check out the career section of each major hospital network here. Google Jobs is another I occasionally will use under the search “ZIP CODE jobs”.

      I’ve found that Monster, Snagajob, & Career Builder are complete wastes of time, & I don’t bother going to those sites.

  37. Anon anony*

    I’m not sure exactly how to phrase this without sounding unsympathetic, but how do you say “I’m sorry” without sounding like pushover. If someone can’t log-in to the database because it is down, I “apologize for any inconvenience” but is that too cold? I’m just sick of apologizing for things out of my control.

    1. londonedit*

      Instead of apologising, you could try saying ‘Thank you for your patience’ or ‘Thank you for waiting’. It still acknowledges that there was a problem, but it means you’re not always apologising for things that aren’t really within your control.

      1. Lucy*


        You can sympathise without apologising. Alternative scripts might go along the lines of “Thank you for your report/ticket. It is frustrating not to be able to log on at this time. We expect to have the full system back online by midday, but in the meantime the workaround is (details).”

        1. LaDeeDa*

          Yes! This! Thank someone for what they are doing, or what you want them to do, “thank you for your patience, we are working to resolve the issue…”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think the word “sorry” conveys that you’re a pushover. “Oh yeah, sorry, the database is down” seems pretty appropriate to me.

  38. Chau*

    I recently started a new job. I’ve been there for 3 months and I was really excited to join it at first because I thought it would be a step up from my previous company. Turns out, there is so much wrong with the way my department does its work. The person who was in my position before I came along apparently did a really poor job and presumably that’s why they left/were let go. Anyway, a lot of the files I’m working on have incorrect information. The reports I prepare make no sense. Files are saved in places that are not really logical. Since, I’m really familiar with the work they do here, I’ve been able to catch up quickly. My coworker was responsible for preparing a daily report, that was extremely time consuming. It took over one hour to prepare, download the data, and manipulate it in the format we needed. It took her a week for her to show me how to do this. When I realized what the final info she was looking for, I realized that the process was really unnecessary. So I suggested a quicker way to pull that info. She seemed annoyed and told me that’s the way our manager wanted us to pull the info. When I went to our manager and showed him it took me 15 minutes to pull the same info, he agreed that it more efficient and okayed it. But it seems every time I bring up an idea, it gets shot down. My coworker says that’s the way the manager wants it done/that’s the way it’s always been done. For example, I have monthly reports to update and each month, they are saved in a different location. This makes it confusing to see what has been done already and this creates multiples copies of the same file which I find really confusing. I went to my coworker and suggested we move the files to a central location and not create copies each month. She seemed really annoyed and said it’s always been done this way and we should keep it that way. I tried to explain what I was doing but she ended up just taking the files back from me. I’m afraid off coming off as the know it all but I really have a hard time working in an environment like this. I could just update my own proceses but we all work in shared files. I know I can’t do a complete system overhaul on my own but if I have an idea that makes everyone’s job easier, I’d like to be able to share it with the team.

    1. ArtK*

      Keep doing what youu’re doing. Dont’ try to manage your co-worker’s feelings. She’s likely resiting because she hates change. She has her habits and doesn’t want to learn new things. That’s all her problem. “We’ve always done it this way” is the very last reason to use to continue to do something.

      1. valentine*

        I don’t get why you’re treating her like a manager, unless she owns the process (which, no?, because she doesn’t say her way or no way). So. Share with the team, maybe after meeting with your supervisor about how you’d like to streamline things and come up with a method (telling him first, presenting at a team meeting, anything but telling the naysayer), then ask for advice on how to respond to resistance.

    2. Garland not Andrews*

      You need to get the supervisor on board (as you already have) and have her request that your coworker follow the new protocol for the reports and even for a centralized file location and naming structure.

    3. Maya Elena*

      A word of caution: I also had a lot of these feelings at a previous job, and then started all gung ho in process overhaul, only to find stumbling blocks such as:
      -the easier data source isn’t as reliable as and doesn’t agree with the more annoying one
      -the share drives, due to more global IT issues, fails unpredictably and often, and so cannot be used as a reliable repository
      -the specialized software has limitations that prevent implementation of your obvious solution, and nothing better exists on the market
      -90% of the info you process comes in X format, which you accommodated for, but 10% comes in this other format for which your process breaks down and requires the same workarounds that existed before you came got there, because they already saw those pitfalls but didn’t document them in exhaustive detail.

    4. Auntie Social*

      You’re also pretty new. I can see why co-workers might think “why don’t you learn go do it our way before you try overhauling a system that works for the rest of us?” I’ve trained staff who want to do things the way the way their old office did it, or not want to go into the detail that we did. It’s annoying when there’s no respect from the new hire. But you could certainly do a detailed memo to Boss, and if he likes your ideas let him be the one to announce the changes to everyone.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Do not just take this coworker as the end-all, continue to push by going to management.

      I’ve seen this in my company with previous employees that were here and thankfully now gone, they were all about “oh no no no this is just how we do it.” and when I pointed out to the manager my ideas, he green lit everything I threw his way.

      It may rock the boat and it may make your coworker a grouchy pants but she already is that way, you can’t control her feelings. Don’t let this prickly pear make it so you stay quiet and just toe the line.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I have been here, too. I agree with Maya Elena that some caution is warranted, since it’s not always clear why things are the way they are (though “This is how we’ve always done things” is not a good sign).

      Having been in a similar position (and still spearheading changes, six years later), I would suggest:

      1) Take some time to observe the way things are before suggesting changes/ideas, so you learn the bigger picture and history.
      2) Discuss your changes during set meetings with your manager, so you aren’t throwing them piecemeal and possibly annoying your manager.
      3) Agree with Auntie Social that it would be best for the change to come from your boss, rather than you.

    7. Good luck with that*

      Do you think making new files each month might possibly be done because the company needs to keep the previous month’s version without overwriting it?
      Maybe the files are organized the way they are for a similar reason; instead of always putting report A in the Report A folder and report B in the Report B folder, they might be all in folders by month or quarter.
      If you’re writing over files your coworkers need to keep, in what you consider the interest of consistency or efficiency or whatever, I don’t blame them for being a touch testy.

    8. ..Kat..*

      Can you link files? For example, suppose file A is in location X, Y, and Z. Can you put file A in location X, then in locations Y and Z, you simply put a link to file A in location X? That way, there is really only one copy of file A.

  39. Phoenix Programmer*

    Anyone on here using blind?
    Is it actually useful or just a bunch of complaining. I’m curious if there could be useful insights on there.

      1. fposte*

        It looks like it’s an anonymous chat app popular with employees in Silicon Valley (and unpopular with the companies).

    1. Federal Middle Manager*

      Seems like…not a good idea. We occasionally use anonymous surveys for things that could use both discretion and feedback, but they should be tailored to specific (solvable) problems. Not a free-for-all.

  40. Anastasia Krupnik*

    I have a phone interview coming up next week. The job posting mentioned that the organization has offices in two different cities, but also said, “Remote work options are possible with this position.” I am truly only interested in the position if it can be a remote position, as relocating to either of the two cities is not possible for me right now. I did not mention this in my cover letter when I applied. At what point in the process should I bring it up?

    1. fposte*

      Phone interview seems like a good time, unless it’s a totally by-the-numbers screen by somebody who wouldn’t know.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      I would ask during the phone interview, no need to go further or waste anyone’s time if it won’t work.

    3. quirkypants*

      I’d bring it up in the screening call.

      My reasoning: For full-time remote work, I find it is most successful if they are on board with it from the beginning. I find in cases where they only consider it for super star candidates, it rarely works out and there’s typically some kind of weirdness or wishful thinking you were in the office. Plus, I don’t want to waste my time going to an interview if they’re not going to be ok with it.

    4. Interplanet Janet*

      I would ask, but do it as if you assume it’s a given, since they mention it as a possibility in the ad and you don’t live in one of the cities that has an office.

      “And … I’d be working from my home office, right? I mean, a commute to Philadelphia from St Louis would be kind of crazy!”

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s exactly how I broached it with the HR recruiter who conducted my phone screen. I’m now working fully remote from home (yay!), and everyone seems to be perfectly okay with it. It also helps that my manager is in an entirely different country as are most of my direct team members, and they’ve hired another person in my position who will be based out of the home office, so everybody wins.

  41. Cruciatus*

    I work in a large academic library system, though at a smaller campus within it. This didn’t happen to me, but to my coworker. She finally received an “exceeds expectations” and…it was denied by the main campus powers that be. WTF? How can they know she DIDN’T exceed expectations? Our supervisor does not give these ratings out like candy (I myself was just “successful” overall, but did exceed in one or two places). I don’t really know what my question is–but has anyone navigated something like this or can explain how/why they are doing this (“to save money” seems the only answer I can come up with). How can they determine this when they aren’t her supervisor? I am indignant on her behalf! (And what if it’s me in the future?) As it is, our “merit raise” will be some weird number like 1.7% (for me this is only a few hundred dollars–that’s all I get each year as a “raise”). Oooooooh. I’m hoping she will fight back but I don’t know where she should even start (though I think she is talking with our supervisor and director about it).

    1. Queen of the File*

      They do this in my workplace occasionally. From what I understand in our case they are “curving” the performance ratings to fit a “normal” results distribution (rather than using a curve to check the validity of their evaluation tool), like curving grades on an exam. So, if they are expecting to have, say, 5% exceeds expectations, but 8% of the staff receives this rating, they will arbitrarily take it away from 3% of the people. There was push-back from staff but it went nowhere.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Yeah, this. I haven’t seen it happen directly, but it was explained to me that if too many people get ‘exceeds expectations’ then the expectations are too low. Mind you, in our workplace that was kick-backed to the managers to adjust things, not just arbitrarily taken away? Doing it based on pure math is completely unfair, since the people who lose the rating may be the ones truly outperforming the other folks.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yup, this has happened to me too. Bosses rate their direct reports, the next level up approves those ratings and it goes up the food chain. That’s fine unless the over lords decide that only X people are allowed to be “exceeds expectations”. Then the bosses all have to wrangle over which person from their org will be allowed this coveted rating.

        One place I’ve worked the overlords were mad that more people weren’t in the “needs improvement” category, ignoring that those people had either 1) improved or 2) left.

        Badly implemented (as it often is) it’s a terrible system that favors people who work for the Big Bosses who are either the best talkers or have the most clout.

    2. WellRed*

      At a part time retail job, the general manager, who I had never worked with, gave me some sort of rating I did not agree with. It didn’t impact me in any way except it annoyed me on principle. I signed the damn thing, but pointed out what I strongly disagreed with. Made me feel better.

    3. KayEss*

      This happened to me the last time I worked in higher ed. Departmental (and institutional) budget situation was so bad that managers were forbidden in advance from giving anyone an “exceeds expectations” rating–my manager let me know in my review that she wanted to give me one but wasn’t allowed to.

      Incidentally, we got no COL increase that year either, and a year later were all laid off.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I’ve had this happen. My boss gave me the highest rating (a 5) in one category out of like 10 categories, and his boss dropped it to a 4 which was still better than just meets expectations (3). Around here, you have to cure cancer, negotiate world peace, and end homelessness singlehandedly before they allow a 5. My grand boss is aware of my accomplishments and it isn’t indicative of my performance at all. This is more of an unwritten campus “policy” that they don’t think anyone ever really earns a 5.

      1. Sabrina Spellman*

        +1. This is how it is at my work, too. You have to do something big for the institution, not just your department, to earn a 5.

  42. the sleepiest owl*

    First week of new job! First office job I’ve worked in over a decade (I did a terminal MA, a humanities PhD, and a year of post-PhD depression). I was hit really hard by my transition out of academia, both mentally/emotionally (feeling like a failure) and professionally (no obvious industry to move into) and I feel really lucky to finally have something that might turn into an actual career. And the job and people are all fantastic! But I’m still feeling unsure about how I can best handle the transition.

    Can any other former academics who switched to a 9-5 office job share your advice? Or people who moved from a freelance or flexible creative career into more rigidly scheduled work? What are things you wish you’d known starting out? Give me some reasons to feel positive and excited instead of terrified! (Please don’t share disaster stories or “this would never work for me” type comments here. I have enough problems with internal negativity already!)


    1. londonedit*

      I freelanced for four years and then went back into a full-time office environment. It’s been great, but the transition period is absolutely shattering! So my top tip there would definitely be to make sure you keep your first few evenings and weekends free for relaxing and looking after yourself – for me, the shock of having to get up at 6.30am five days a week made me really tired in the first few weeks, and I needed a couple of quiet weekends to decompress and forget about work. Also, you’re in a new office environment with different people’s germs, so make sure you eat well, drink lots of water and use hand sanitiser!

      1. the sleepiest owl*

        Thanks! I’ve been feeling utterly flattened every evening and worried that this was going to be the rest of my life, so it’s really helpful to know that this is a common transition thing! Also, thanks for the advice about germs. It hadn’t occurred to me, but this is not only a new job, it’s also in a new state, so I should definitely be taking health more seriously.

    2. medium of ballpoint*

      I found that the rest of my life also got on a more routine schedule (cleaning, shopping, etc.) and that helped with decision fatigue and general organization. I’ll echo Owl about health; Clorox wipes are your friend. Also think about what you can take to your office that’ll help you feel comfortable. Do you want a shawl, a tea stash, a photo, a handheld fan, a specific kind of keyboard? You can’t access those things on the fly as easily. Make the space your own as much as you can/are comfortable with and that might help a bit. Good luck!

      1. the sleepiest owl*

        Ooh, good point! I should definitely bring my shawl and a functional mouse. And some tea! I do have a great half-office in a cool old building, and I think you’re right that creating my own space will really help me feel more relaxed.

    3. user679*

      I have a similar background to yours: a humanities PhD and now a job that has absolutely nothing to do with my academic career.

      It’s my third position outside of academia.

      Is it easy? The thing is, I’m very analytical and fact-oriented (doesn’t sound like humanities, does it? But yes, it’s a quite realistic description of me). More analytical than most people in academia, not to mention people outside of academia. And I find it difficult to deal with office politics, the necessity to to shut up in the right moments, to be very humble in order for nobody to feel threatened by me. I’m used to constructive, academic discussions, talking about facts. At the companies I’ve worked at so far, there was nothing similar.

      I think academia is seen as vocation by most, a job… is just a job. So if I were you, I would try not to take it too seriously. Have your own life outside of work. Develop your skills outside of work.

      Good luck!

    4. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Academic, turned applied PhD here. The transition to office work is hard mentally, especially when you’re used to working your own schedule and having flexibility. Be nice to yourself and expect to be exhausted spending 40 hours (or more) in an office every week. There are good parts to it — it’s much easier for me to leave work at work now. It’s also incredible having stable, predictable income. But it’s an adjustment, for sure.

    5. Overeducated*

      Congratulations! I did the same thing, and honestly it still is tough at times not having the academic schedule flexibility and closure during school breaks specifically. I’m a few years into office work and still haven’t “adjusted” to that. But I think it’s legit to say “hey there are some things about standard American work culture that are just not great for workers” and not love or even appreciate everything about your job.

      But! This is a positive comment, I swear! There are good things that I think mostly make up for that. Here are mine:
      1) Opportunity. I’ve switched jobs laterally once and gotten a 20% promotion once in less than three years, without having to switch employers or move out of my city, and I see a lot of potential ways to move in my organization in the long term. I’ll probably never be a full time researcher, but it feels like there are more paths to follow than “tenure track or bust,” and that’s kind of exciting.
      2) This is a cliché, but I don’t bring work home with me or worry about it on weekends. (That’s actually how I treated grad school most of the time so it wasn’t a big change, but I think this is more of a draw for a lot of people who found it harder to “turn off” academic work. And honestly, maybe that’s a reason it wasn’t for me, I think teaching and service demands only increase after the PhD while research expectations stay high.)
      3) Having coworkers! This is such a big deal to me, and one of the reasons I left – a lot of academic work is very solitary and sometimes competitive, my office job experience is much more collaborative. I miss teaching, but I get much more day to day interaction with my colleagues and problem solving together, and that’s great.
      4) The end of impostor syndrome. People just accept that I am the expert in the entire broad area that’s the scope of my job, instead of me feeling like I always have to prove that I know the most about a particular niche. All my insecurity around being good enough vanished shockingly fast.
      5) Financial security. I found grant applications and temporary jobs like postdocs very stressful. I don’t have to do those now. What a relief!

      Best of luck in your new job! And no need to be terrified – you probably will fit in more easily than you realize. Here are the two things I’ve learned over time:
      1) Get used to “briefing up” and keeping your boss(es) and team members more up to date on projects than you would in academia. Partial drafts or “here’s a thing that came up” emails/check ins need to be a lot more frequent because you’re not the only one responsible for your work any more, and others are more likely to be called on to update THEIR superiors on where it is. This is also something that varies by office culture so pay attention to who gets cc’ed on emails, invited to meetings and calls, casually asked for advice, etc.
      2) This is just a resume-based thing – but a lot of the time, what people will count as “projects” or “responsibilities” seem to me like minor things I’d never even bother mentioning in academia, but do count elsewhere. Look around and see what counts so that you don’t discount what you’re doing.

    6. Federal Middle Manager*

      Struggling with this transition is very real! My partner had difficulty with no longer being surrounded by people who were immersed and experts in their field. He struggled with how compartmentalized people were and that they were not interested in solving things that “aren’t my problem.” I’d recommend finding professional organizations, newletters, or associations that you can be involved in to get that kind of interaction and feedback.

      Also, if you’re interested then staying connected in some way via meet ups, university lectures or other groups can be helpful. That was a big part of your life for years and years, it’s hard to transition to not having it be mentioned at all and not having anyone to talk to about it.

      Finally, think back on all the times you were jealous of people who weren’t completely submerged in their studies…what did you daydream of doing if you had evenings and weekends free (like you do now)? Would you take up an instrument? Go to more city counsel meetings or protests? Take up quilting? Go to the beach over Labor Day or Memorial Day instead of prepping for beginning/end of the semester? DO THAT NOW!

    7. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      It’s been almost exactly two years since I started my first full-time office job after completing a humanities phd. No really specific advice, just seconding the idea to be kind to yourself while you settle in. You’ve got this! It gets better :)

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I alternated years of grad school with various office jobs so the last transition from PhD to office job wasn’t too hard, but it was physically exhausting. Feeling glued to a computer for 8+ hours a day is tiring in a way people don’t expect at first, not to mention the more “normal” waking hours.

      The other thing I had a hard time with might be somewhat field or role dependent, but I come from a research background and still do a fair amount. I’m all about lit reviews and citing my sources and dredging up references to make a point. And very few people care. My personal opinion carries weight in a way I’m not 100% comfortable with, as in people are happy to accept whatever I come up with because of my perceived expertise. Fortunately I’m very concerned about being wrong so I do back everything up for my own peace of mind, but again very few people read the full reports or care if I do a reasonable lit review before coming up with an answer.

      The flip side is, there are some people who get away with shoddy work because no one really peer reviews it, and that drives me crazy! But, so far the handful of people who do this aren’t in positions to do any damage with poorly thought out work, so it’s not worth my reputation to call them out, so to speak.

      To sum up: the new schedule will be rough. You will care about the academics of your (and others’) work much more than anyone else. Your opinion may be highly valued beyond what you’re used to, use it wisely.

    9. blackcat*

      In addition to what others have said, here are two things that have been challenging for my husband. He’s in STEM, but I think this is general.
      1) He wasn’t used to people telling him directly what to do. He had a fair bit of freedom in his research, and was used to the idea of following a random thought for a day or two and seeing if it panned out. That’s 100% not done in his company! A few hours, sure, but an entire day? Nope, not considered okay. So the loss of intellectual freedom was a big adjustment.
      2) He was used to wanting his work to be EXCELLENT. Like flawless, perfect, kinda stuff. I think this is common with academics. Yet in the work world, “good enough” is really good enough! So letting go of his perfectionism was also important.
      Good luck!

    10. Boba Feta*

      Posting to bookmark this thread. You sound like my future self (I have nearly the exact same background/ negative experience in deciding to leave and am still trying to land that post-academic job).

      These tips sound like they would also be helpful even before the full-time role happens: esp. about maintaining a regular “workday” routine and allowing for more down time/ space in the evenings/ weekends.

  43. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I have an interview today for two internal positions. One would be a lateral move (Sr Specialist), the other a step up (managing that team). I applied because the positions are all remote, and I’m planning to move away from my current location very soon. The thing is, the interview is remote too, via WebEx, and I’ve never met the person I’m interviewing with (she’s in another state, and is new to my company). For remote interviews, is it common to use a webcam, or just stick to the phone? (It’s not a phone screen, that was done by HR). My company culture is that we all have webcams, but they are used very very rarely. I plan to look presentable in case she asks me to turn on the camera, but I don’t want to waste time prepping my looks if there’s no need (I’m taking the interview from home). Thoughts??

    Also, I have all of the skills needed for either position, but I don’t have direct experience with the specific process I’d be managing/contributing to. I’m interviewing with someone who has LOTS of expertise in this specific process, so my plan is just to be upfront that this would be a new area for me. But any advice on how to frame myself competitively?? I honestly probably wouldn’t have applied to these roles if it weren’t for the need to become remote. (I’m also in the process of trying to make my current position remote, but that has lots of leadership hurdles to pass). All advice welcome. I’m a ball of nerves.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Be ready to webcam, just in case :)

      You don’t have to be an expert in the area to manage the people who are the expert. Also, you do have transferable skills– just because you don’t know that specific process, you know similar process and were (are!) able to learn new processes.

      I would talk about knowing your business/company/industry, I would talk about the benefits of having someone from your current team in that role- understanding the bigger picture of how everything works together, having a good network of relationships to form partnerships for collaboration on current and future projects. Something along those lines– don’t focus on what you don’t know, focus on the strategic thinking you can bring to that role/department.

      Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      Definitely plan on the camera for a webex interview. And take a couple of minutes to make sure your background isn’t super cluttered and that there’s not a bright light right behind you.

      You frame yourself competitively by first figuring out for yourself how your experience applies. If you’ve been cleaning teapots, and the job requires cleaning dessert plates, you say, “I’ll obviously need to come up to speed on the specifics of dessert plates, but the basic cleaning skills should cross over nicely.” If you’ve been cleaning teapots, and the new job requires painting teapots, you say, “The specifics colors to use will be new, so I’ll need some training there, but I already know my way around a teapot!” Like that.

      Good luck!

    3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Update – Interview went really well! She asked all behavioral and situational type questions, so my lack of experience in the particular area I was worried about never really came up. I used lots of Alison’s suggestions for questions to ask her, and got a lot of insight into the role(s). Also, no webcam, but I felt more confident wearing a blazer with nice looking hair and enough makeup to make me look alive via webcam knowing that I looked professional in case I needed to turn on the camera.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Congrats on surviving your interview! My current job had me interview with three managers remotely, and we didn’t use webcam either, which was surprising because they’re a software company so I assumed they would have wanted to do that. Apparently, my company culture is a lot like yours in that we have the capability to do video chats, but no one really does. That could also be because half our workforce are in different countries and time zones, so asking people to be up and presentable when they’re at home at 5 am may not always be practical.

  44. Absurda*

    Does anyone have advice on how to structure and manage a weekly status report for long term projects that don’t have weekly updates?

    Some background: Exec. VP has asked our Senior VP to send him a weekly status report on everything going on in the SVPs team. The weekly cadence is non-negotiable. The construction and management of the status report has been delegated down to me. The challenge is our projects have timelines measured in quarters and years, so there aren’t really weekly updates. The weekly work is important for the overall project (stuff like logging an SR for a bug or having a call to discuss future enhancement requests) but that is far too granular for an EVP.

    Any suggestions on how to do weekly updates that keep it high-level and interesting?

    1. Admin of Sys*

      Are there any milestones you can assign as percentages of the overall project? Something like – it’s a 3 month project to get the application completed, and part of that process is building the framework, writing and testing the ui, running through test data, and finalizing the code. So set up a percentage marker for each component of the larger milestones and show the movement per week. The team got 50% closer to finishing the UI, because there were 6 milestones defined as ‘writing the ui’ and you got 3 of them done. It doesn’t actually have to be an accurate portrayal of time spent or effort, it just needs to be something to show forward progress. And honestly, having milestones on large projects is a lifesaver for a lot of people, even if 60% of the work is sometimes done on the last 10% of the project.

    2. ArtK*

      How are your projects managed? If you’re using something like Earned Value Management, the reports practially write themselves. If you’re using another project management technique, you should be able to create percentage values for active tasks and a list of completed and pending tasks. At worst, print out a GANTT chart and send it in.

      Scrum can be very good for this, because you do a review every sprint.But that requires a major cultural change.

    3. writelhd*

      We have to do a weekly snapot kind of thing like this, but I do projects that are mostly year long/month long things. So I have a progress bar for each of my three big projects for the year, consisting of ten excels cells that get shaded in when I feel I’ve made the next 10% jump in project completion. I further break those down into monthly focus sub-project: Every month gets 1 or 2 focus projects that support one of the big ones (the shading for each is color-coded to so reflect), and those have their own progress bars that are updated weekly…those progress bars are 25%/50%/75%/100% intervals. I actually started doing this for ME, to help me feel motivated and actually feel like I was seeing progress, and to help me focus on smaller projects to completion instead of just zipping around between them as would be my un-disciplined wont…but it worked well for what I have to present to management too.

    4. Interplanet Janet*

      I use an anticipation completion date. If the project is still on track with that, I just use a phrase like, “development is continuing according to schedule” and then perhaps highlight if some interesting milestone has been reached during the previous week. If the project has slipped, I’ll mention the change (or risk of change) to the projected completion date and indicate why the change.

    5. Green great dragon*

      High level and interesting may be too tough a task. I do this, and some weeks it’s just ‘continued to work on x and y, still on track for testing on 47th Junober, no new issues’. Then reattach the project plan/timeline.

    6. Absurda*

      Thanks everyone, this helps a lot! We’re not formally trained project managers, we’re Ops and everyone has their own ways of tracking their projects. But, getting them to list out milestones and dates up front then tell me % of completion each week should be doable.

  45. MOAS*

    I mentioned in an earlier post that our HR is so lacking that my bosses are going to be screening 900+ resumes. That just seems so….idk.

    So far with HR —

    -someone emailed their resignation at 6 AM and HR didn’t notify us until 6 PM. People were wondering and asking around and no one knew until thy reached out to HR. “Oh I forgot I’m so hungover haha’
    -job offer extended to a candidate for a job she wasn’t interviewed for
    -asked if I was a fluffer twice
    -lied about a former worker’s references being glowing when he was actually a nightmare to deal with
    -was supposed to fire a few people but ended up being out of the office for 4 weeks which prolonged everyone’s misery
    -has waited 4 days to extend an offer letter to someone
    -was supposed to extend offer letters to current seasonal workers but took so long that they ended up looking for a job and we lost a good worker
    -a person started and then quit 3 days later. apparently they had contacted HR with their reservations wanting to back out early in the process but HR failed to notify anyone

    we have an in house recruiter but they set their own hours, and HR has been slow to bring on a new full time recruiter so until then…my bosses are doing the job that another dept should be doing.

      1. MOAS*

        she meant it as a joke.
        OK so thee had asked to look over an email I was sending out to clients (yes this is another annoying thing that they’re trying to insert themselves in to the work we’re doing when they don’t have the relevant degrees/licensing). I said “oh yes boss has said to fluff things up via email.” “fluff up emails? ah so you’re a fluffer?!” and they cackled really loudly, so i know they know what that means.

        Sigh. I don’t even care about the fluffer comment cz anyone else it’d be funny but just allt he other stuff..argh!

    1. Jaid*

      Assuming you’re not working for a porn studio, why would anyone ask you if you’re a fluffer?

    2. ArtK*

      Asked if you were a ‘fluffer’? Unless that term has a meaning that I don’t know, that amounts to sexual harassment.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Dude. HR isn’t untouchable, does this person have an executive in their pocket or something!? Have all these things been sent to the person who can fire this dimwit?! Especially considering the sexual harassment that you were subjected to, I would ring that bell so hard. It doesn’t matter that really you don’t care about the comments but this is your perfect ammo to get this horrible person out of your organization.

      I’m pretty relaxed in terms of HR standards and none of this is acceptable behavior, it’s downright not doing their job and engaging in misconduct.

  46. Lightly Scented Candle*

    I work at a large corporation that’s going through a reorg, and I just got my six weeks’ notice yesterday — I can either find another role internally in a different division or be terminated. Now I’m wondering if I should start immediately applying for external jobs (as well as internal) or if I should give it a week or two and try to land on a different team first? Ideally I would prefer to stay within the company because of benefits/401k match/general familiarity, but I know hiring takes time and part of me thinks it would be stupid to wait… I’m still reeling a little.

    1. Sunday Morning Fever*

      I wouldn’t wait. Start applying now, you have nothing to lose. If you find something, great! If you find something that helps you get your feet wet for interviewing, great! If you find nothing, no harm done. But, there’s no reason you can’t apply for external jobs while also looking for an internal transfer.

    2. ArtK*

      Ugh. So sorry!

      I’d start looking externally right now. That process can take a long time and you don’t want a delay in that, in case you don’t find something internally. It’ll also give you some perspective about your current company.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Start looking now because you don’t know what’s out there at the moment until you start diving in. You don’t have to jump and start throwing your resume every which way the first week or so but give yourself the footing to secure another possibly great external role if it’s out there ASAP!

  47. Mimmy*

    Workplace flexibility

    I know that many jobs require employees to be flexible–schedules or meetings for example. However, I honestly think it is possible to abuse that flexibility. Allowing too much flexibility, imo, leads to disorganization and overly lax standards or procedures.

    I think that is what is happening where I work. I was starting to describe the issues I’m seeing but I don’t want this post to get super-long. Some issues I see include: scheduling, staffing and intake eligibility. This is a government-run center, so that could explain why the loosey-goosey nature of things is allowed.

    What do you guys think? Is there such a thing as asking for too much flexibility?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes, you can get into a zone of nothing gets done/it’s way too disorganized. It’s a grey area though.

    2. Ama*

      I think you have to have ground rules when you have flexible schedules. At my office, you can ask for a flexible schedule but it needs to be consistent week to week — if you say you are working 8:30-4:30, you’re expected to be in and working at 8:30 every day. Obviously there are special exceptions allowed for doctor’s appointments or other things, but in those instances you need to mention any changes to your manager ahead of time, you can’t just decide on the fly that you’re working 10-6 because you wanted to run an errand that morning.

      And our other ground rule is that your schedule has to be compatible with your job responsibilities — the person responsible for desk coverage can’t work 10-6 unless someone else is willing to cover the 9-10 slot, I normally work 9:30-5:30 but sometimes I need to be in at 9 to take a conference call, or I have to stay late to staff an event.

      I do think if you don’t have ground rules (or if they aren’t clearly explained to people) it can lead to chaos. I had to have a talk with my direct report shortly after she started because she was coming in at different times every day without telling me — she was working an appropriate number of hours but it was causing some confusion because it was never clear whether she’d be in at 9 or 10. So we had a talk about what consistent schedules means and now if she wants to vary her usual schedule she talks to me first.

  48. Pebbles Bishop*

    So, I’m getting married next Saturday (YAY!). The problem is surviving at work until then. I have to work today, and then Monday, Tuesday, and most of Wednesday next week – and it’s KILLING me. I want to be home packing my bags. We’re doing a small beach wedding in San Diego and it’s all I can think about! It’s not a secret, my coworkers and manager all know and are excited for me, and so I’m not worried about being called out for being off my game. I just am not sure how to have some semblance of focus at work! I want to literally bounce off the walls and staring at a computer screen for eight hours is killing me.

    Any ideas/advice would be appreciated!

    1. Ms. Guacamole*

      I rely on to do lists for this. For some reason, focusing on ticking tasks off give me more focus than just trying to work in general.

      I had the same problem when I was about to get married and it happens every time I’m about to go on vacation. But if I can bury my brain in a to do list I can focus a little bitter.

        1. valentine*

          Your excitement is really sweet.

          What if you give yourself 10 minutes first thing to hyperfocus on it. Picture the dew on the fresh flowers and the particular swoosh of the doves’ wings. Like John Woo choreography, sans violence. Maybe you need to guess how many grains of sand will bear witness. And that’s it until you leave work. Or maybe you do a few five-minute sessions like this, spread throughout the day, and you have to complete your to-do list in between.

    2. epi*

      Sometimes it helps me to make shorter, big picture lists. I will limit myself to a five-item long to do list and describe the type of progress that would be the next step, rather than a particular task. So rather than “read article X” I’ll just have “understand topic Y” and plan to check it off when I feel that’s done. Then I do any of those five things in whatever order I want.

      When you don’t want to be at work can be a great time for either easy, mindless tasks; or pleasurable professional development tasks. Catch up on news related to your industry. See if any webinars you wanted to attend are archived online and watch them now. Pick an article and give yourself as much time as you need to read it for understanding, and just see what ideas come up.

  49. Sunday Morning Fever*

    Last week, new(ish) staffer seemed to take ownership of my advice, suggestions, and corrections. This week, he mostly just ignored what I told him or offered

    In multiple communications he either misread someone’s email or used the wrong wording to describe what he was working on. One lead to a client having to correct him and repeat themselves
    to ensure they got what they needed. I’m almost 90% sure it was because he’s busy and having a little trouble focusing because he wants to get it all done. I made it clear I had noticed the issue and asked if everything was ok. He didn’t apologize for the errors. He agreed with my assessment that he was busy and needed to pause before responding to make sure things were accurate. I offered to pick up some of his tasks, he did not take me up it. (I really don’t need a martyr on my team, I need someone who will get it done and when they can’t will ask for my help)

    He had an event off site and mentioned going to the location about a few hours in advance. I told him he didn’t have to. He did anyway. Totally fine, his call. But then later complained about being there so early.

    I asked him (verbally) to follow-up with a colleague after a meeting so that we could coordinate sending material out to clients ASAP. A few hours later I checked in with him on it (in writing), he had not followed up with colleague. No reason given, just that he hadn’t done it yet.

    Again, I don’t think he’s being insubordiant. I think he’s just not willing to admit that he’s not as knowledgable (capable?) as he wants to be and so makes silly mistakes. And although I have some tolerance for that because he’s new, some of these mistakes are easily avoidable.

    Obviously a conversation will need to be had… but it’s difficult when you work in an open office plan. Because again, I don’t want to make these issues monumental. They are issues, they can be corrected, and its not overly sensitive. But scheduling a meeting room to discuss these issues absolutely makes it seem much more serious than I want it to appear. I find these issues annoying, frustrating even. I don’t enjoy dealing with them. (Thank you for letting me vent) But, they’re not serious enough for a closed door meeting.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Do you have a break room? Grab a cup of coffee or something with him at a quieter time.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        We don’t. We have a kitchen area, but no tables and it’s not far removed from where others sit. It’s just not an ideal situation for me to “manage” issues, which I’m not super comfortable with anyway. The whole scenario kind of just leaves me edgy and anxious maybe moreso than the actual issues themselves. (Maybe that’s why I’m fixated on the issues… but still, the issues are annoying)

          1. Sunday Morning Fever*

            We do, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate to say, hey let’s grab a coffee and discuss areas of improvement for your work. I feel like conversations about work should happen at work unless you want a conversation off the books. Though, I might be overthinking it.

            1. valentine*

              Please don’t offer to or do his work for him, especially if you’re a woman. (This always amazes me because I don’t get to do learned helplessness. I’m expected to figure stuff out.)

              They are issues, they can be corrected
              Are you sure? I’m thinking he’s not up to the job and is seizing on your speculation the way suspects confess to motives cops suggest. When you suggest nothing, he offers nothing. Why not fire him or tell him what he needs to do on his own and by when so that you won’t have to fire him? What are the benchmarks and is he on pace to reach them? His initiative seems to consist of leaving/arriving hours early (And doing what? Did he take work with him?) for the event. I hate to give you reason for delaying his exit, but: Are you being direct? “You don’t have to” isn’t “Don’t.” I would take it as a false kindness from a guess person: “Don’t go to any trouble for me.”

              I don’t enjoy dealing with them.
              Are you therefore actively avoiding them? If so, why? Don’t you want to either get him up to speed or replace him with someone who can ASAP?

              But, they’re not serious enough for a closed door meeting.
              They are. He’s failing at simple tasks and you’re spending a lot of time asking him about all the FUBAR and requesting updates he should be providing unprompted. If you add up the cost of your time and energy, aren’t those worth the closed door? (If you think he’ll feel bad, I’m thinking no. He seems like a real in one ear and off a duck’s back kinda guy.

    2. Commenter*

      If you’re this person’s supervisor, do you have regularly scheduled (weekly?) one-on-one (i.e. closed-door) meetings with them? That seems like the perfect time to discuss something like this, and would help remove the… stigma(?) that closed-door meetings should only be used for things that are “serious enough” (I’d feel *really* uncomfortable if my supervisor didn’t give me an opportunity to discuss things privately!!).

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        We do have regular 1 on 1’s but they happen in our conference room, which has no door.There’s literally one room with a door for those without offices and it doesn’t have a schedule (first come, first served), so it’s not always available. It’s just not a great space for managing.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      I think you just have to bite the bullet and have a one-on-one closed door meeting. Just pose it as a quick touch-base meeting (since he’s newish) and tell him it’s to make sure he’s getting all the support he needs and you are on the same page about expectations.

      It doesn’t have to be a big, grand discussion. A one-on-one is pretty standard check-in. If you have other direct reports, you can schedule them as well so it will be less of an issue (and it’s a good thing to do regardless of the situation).

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      Honestly you need to be more direct and transparent. It’s a kindness to let your DR know what you expect and need from them, it’s miserable working for someone who is frustrated at you when you don’t know why.

      I don’t know if you dislike this DR or are at BEC mode, but as a manager you have to communicate. Your irritation is showing here – they didn’t apologize for a mistake. So? It’s pretty normal in business to acknowledge errors and address how to fix moving forward. Apologies for mistakes are rare IME.

      Also did you tell DR he needed to coordinate with coworker asap for a client deadline? It’s not clear that you did.

      I think you may not be communicating clearly yourself. Just talk even in front of others.

  50. decisions decisions*

    I wrote in the thread two weeks ago about being between a rock and a hard place with two companies. I decided to stay/risk with Company A. And I will move in the long term so my commute will cut down to one our (less isn’t possible, closer would mean either unsafe or even high COL).

  51. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Monday this week my small department added 2 new people to the management team. I think it’ll be a huge change to the team dynamic, and probably for the good. Just a bit bumpy initially.

    The one I’m working more closely with initially is making some judgement calls that I wish she’d hold off on. It’s your first week, you don’t know how this actually works yet, so maybe don’t tell me that I don’t need to do the thing that I absolutely do need to do in order to get the project done efficiently. However, I’m gonna get my revenge – new people are getting added to the big meeting with the client so they can see first hand what’s involved (the meeting’s not just a meeting, it’s a huge chunk of the actual work).

    1. Sunday Morning Fever*

      I feel you. Some people feel like they need to make an impact right away without having a solid understanding about how things work. Some may think it makes them look proactive and hitting the ground running. I find it impetuous and ill-informed…

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I was hired into a new role where I’m basically upending the way an entire department operates, and everyone was informed ahead of time that I would be doing this. Still, I’ve been careful not to come in with guns blazing and am slowly coaching not only my teammates, but other SMEs within the company, on how to develop better written content for our proposal projects. I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was trashing their skills, calling them incompetent, or stepping on their toes – so far, everyone seems to be embracing the change and are open to learning. I think it’s because I didn’t come in and start shredding everything right away – approach and attitude is everything.

    2. Ama*

      I feel you on that. I got a new boss at a previous job and one of the very first things she said to me was basically proposing to fix a process that didn’t need to be fixed and which would have created a ton more work for everyone. (And to be honest I’m pretty sure grew out of a comment from one of my highest maintenance coworkers, who new boss hadn’t yet learned was fond of complaining about things literally no one else had a problem with.) I have never had a good poker face so I’m sure see saw the sheer panic on my face as I tried to politely explain why the “fix” proposed would not work. She just blew me off with, “well we can talk about it in more detail later” (I was about to leave for the day), but thankfully when she brought it to her boss he immediately shut it down, and apparently told her “Ama is completely right, and she has that process running super smoothly, it doesn’t need to be changed.”

      Although the interesting side effect of that was it apparently proved to her that my judgment was trustworthy and that when I said no to something there were valid reasons why I did so, I didn’t just say no because I was trying to avoid work or was afraid of change.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Update: I met with the other new person in a one on one. I think I like him. If what he’s saying he wants to do plays out with what he actually does, I think he’ll be really good for the department.

  52. DataGirl*

    I have a dilemma about how to proceed with my career. Little background- I am mid-40s working in IT for about 10 years now. My degree is not at all related to my career. In previous positions I did very technical work- but the position I’ve been in for the last 18 months or so is not really technical at all. It was sold to me as a technical job in vein of what I had been doing, but it has turned out that almost all I do is run reports and write instructions/policy. It’s an easy, acceptable yet boring job that I could probably ride out until retirement if I wanted, but there are things I don’t like. The biggest is that I was not told before hiring that there is a range for my title and I am at the max. They don’t give cost of living increases or raises past the range max- so as long as I work here I will never get a raise. I took a pay cut to come here thinking it was a dream job (HAAA!) and never thought I would be stuck at this level. (It’s a non-profit and pays under-market).

    I am tentatively looking for new work but I’m having trouble getting interviews on the direct feedback that what I do now is not technical/skilled enough and there are doubts about my abilities. The longer I stay in this job the harder it will be for me to go back to a highly technical job.

    The thing is- my current job is easy and that’s kind of nice. I have way less stress than in a 24/7 production environment, don’t have to be on call, have flex-time, wfh etc. I know from experience that a busy IT business can be super stressful. I have life stuff including chronic illness that are a drain on my time and mental health already. But I just rankle at my salary being frozen (among other things, but that’s the main one).

    So my dilemma- do I make a jump soon so that I can continue to grow in my field and my salary, or do I settle for a lower pay in exchange for an easier life, know that it will mean I’m derailing any possible career growth? I’m really torn. Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.

    1. Pebbles Bishop*

      Oohh. The lack of COL increases and raises is…kind of a red flag, in my opinion. I completely understand about having an easier job, but I don’t know if it would be worth never getting another raise, even a small COL. Could you look for a similar job at a different/bigger company that does offer COL/raises? You’d get to keep doing easy work, but in a better situation, and possibly with further opportunities to go back to technical work or move up in the work you’re currently doing.

      1. DataGirl*

        It’s one of the largest employers in the state- I’d actually like to downsize if possible. What I’m doing right now is very specialized -let’s say, administration for teapot repair workers training programs. I’m not sure the other teapot repair educators even have a position like mine- it’s not traditional in the field. I keep telling myself to use the time to take classes and get certification in the technical stuff, but time and life and money….

        1. Natalie*

          So, while I totally get the appeal of the low-stress job, by not giving COLAs they are *literally* paying you less every year. Inflation is always happening, even during recessions. This isn’t just stagnating, it’s taking a routine, small pay cut in exchange for the low stress.

          I’ve been in a similar situation – not the lack of inflation adjustments, but the easy, boring job that also seemed like a career trap. What I decided to do was keep job searching, but in a steady manner rather than an aggressive “must get out of this job now” type of attitude. And I spent some of my extra stress on a career development piece. In my case that was developing a side client, but for you that could be getting that certification.

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      Jump! Jump!

      Inertia is a strong force, but you’ll be so much happier if you are doing work you find more interesting, plus you’ll have the opportunity to get paid better?

      I’m in IT as well, and you’ve got a double whammy with your age and the fact that you’ve been in non-technical work. I would get out as soon as possible.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I would get out as soon as possible.

        Same. The longer you stay in a boring job, the more miserable you’ll become (ask me how I know), and that will exacerbate your chronic illness, which will make you resentful of your employer, and that will become evident sooner or later at your current job. Plus, it’ll be harder to move on the longer you wait to jump ship – you’re already having struggles finding something that’s a step up in your field because of this job. It’ll only get worse. If you value career advancement, then you need to make moves. Good luck!

      2. DataGirl*

        My age, ouch! I mentioned it in reference to having 20+ more years of working ahead of me, didn’t realize I am ‘old’.

    3. it happens*

      Just spitballin’ here, but is there any chance you can have the position re-classified to a higher band? Can you look at other positions in the next band that have similar impact or require analogous skills? (And, honestly, band mins/maxes should be inflation-adjusted every so often.) Otherwise, yeah, gotta choose between ease and $$$.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I would totally do this first before leaving if I loved the company; however, since these people misled her about her current position, I wouldn’t trust them to come through on the re-classification.

      2. DataGirl*

        The problem is that I am the only person doing IT work in my department. I don’t know if they have me classified with the other educational admin types or classified with other technical people who actually work in the IT department. Our HR is worse than useless so I don’t think I can find out. And there is no where for me to go- I’ll never be a manager in this department because they are all education people- I originally thought I could move to actual IT within the organization but from what I hear they are horribly overworked and also underpaid.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      You’re about the age my mother was when she started a whole new career. The way you’ve described your job I think you will be bored out of your mind by the time you hit retirement, not to mention that you will have a significantly lower salary than you should have. You can do it gently but I’d definitely start looking for something else, and focus at much as you can on the technical things that you are interested in.

      1. DataGirl*

        I would love to start a whole new career :) But I have kids’ colleges to pay for before I could justify going back to school myself, and by the time they are done in 8-10 years I really will be to old.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          You don’t necessarily need to go to school to start working on a career change!

          Granted my parents were and are still married, so Mom had a certain amount of financial stability at your age. She already had a BA in psychology, although she was a stay-at-home mom after she finished college and never really had a proper job, just part time retail here and there. Once my little sister was in school she started very gradually gaining experience by volunteering at the school, then the teachers she met suggested that she apply for a paraprofessional job, and she went from there. She started as a retail worker and ended up as the head of the special education department in a high school, where she stayed until she retired in her mid-60s. She definitely made a heck of a lot more money than she would have if she’d stayed in her retail job, even though she was in management by the time she jumped to education. And she didn’t go back for any formal education until she got an MA in her 50s (at the same time as my little sister was doing her BA, at the local university campus).

          Obviously your situation is a little different but I’ll bet there are ways you could branch out from your current job into something that is more satisfying and more lucrative besides going back to formal education.

  53. HigherEd Person*

    Who works in HR Training and Development? I am starting to explore possible fields outside of Higher Ed, and this is an area that’s always interested me. Obviously, I know experiences vary based on organization and position, but I would just like to hear from people in T&D.
    I have an MA in Higher Ed administration, am considering either an MBA at some point or some type of HR/Org Behavior certificate (while still working at a university that gives tuition remission). Not sure if I need it, though.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      If you have a MA in education, you’ll be fine. Organizational Development or Psychology is a sought after degree, but that is very different from learning development or training and development. OD is more about people strategy and working to align the business goals with the talent goals- and often there is no teaching involved in that role, it is almost the go-between from leaders to HR/ L&D/T&D/Recruiting. If you do want to have a teaching kind of role, I would recommend taking classes/ certifications on instructional design, curriculum development, leadership development, and training evaluations methods. I need my staff to be able to design and create a curriculum and/or program from start to finish. This includes all the user guides, PPTs, trainer guides, e-learning, evaluations, competency alignment, and to facilitate it.

      One of the things that I have noticed when people have transitioned from teaching college/ or kids is that it is a bit shocking to them in how different the teaching role is in a corporate setting. I have seen some former teachers struggle going from being that big expert authority figure standing in front of a room to being a colleague. What I usually suggest for those people is to take a 2 day Train the Trainer course from ATD (Association of Talent Development) it seems to help people transition.

      I hope this helped a little bit! Let me know if you have any other questions I am in talent and leadership development and I have done some sort of corporate training/development for almost 20 years now. I love it! :)

      1. HigherEd Person*

        wow, THANK YOU!
        So while I’m not a teacher/faculty member, I work in an area where I provide leadership and skill training to students and student organizations. However, I am not 100% confident in my abilities to take what I know how to do for 18-21 year olds to “adults” in a corporate setting, KWIM?

        I am going to look into those classes you mentioned. Where do those things usually live? Like in an MBA program or HR certificate? I’ll also look into ATD – never heard of it!

        1. LaDeeDa*

          It is my pleasure, I LOVE what I do for a living, and like to help people get into if they are interested. I wouldn’t bother getting another degree, and I am not a fan of HR degrees- they tend to be like communication degrees, you learn a bit about everything, but are not an expert in one area. ATD is a great resource, td dot org. I would start with Train the Trainer and then move on to CPLP- Certified Professional in Learning and Performance. I require all my staff to either have it for hiring or commit to getting it in their first year. I also won’t hire a trainer that can’t design or write curriculum, and I need them to know how to use e-learning software. Every company uses different software, but the most common is probably Articulate. You can download a free version and watch YouTube how-to videos, before taking a class in it. Literally take an existing PPT deck and work through how to make it an e-learning before taking a class. The classes should teach you to create interactive e-learning, but anyone with a tiny bit of tech savviness can teach themselves Articulate. It is really user-friendly! When I first got into this there was no such thing as e-learning, but I saw it coming and began teaching myself how to use all the software long before I took a class.
          Also through ATD you can go to lunch and learns for a small fee, the yearly membership is about $300, and maybe your current job will pay for it! Even without a membership, the learning and networking opportunities are huge. I teach a lunch and learn for my state/local chapter at least once a month. I can cover anything from evaluation method best practices, to Succession Planning, to high-potential programs, to new grad programs. I also attend at least one learning event a month to see what everyone else is doing!
          I hope you will keep me/the community posted on what you decide :) Again, feel free to ask me anything!

          1. HigherEd Person*

            thank you!!! This, along with Periwinkle’s post below, is the most practical advice I’ve received regarding this. THANK YOU!!!!!
            I’m going to look into these trainings and memberships. The lunch and learns sound awesome, too.

            I’m actually C&Ping this and putting it in a word doc so that I can reference it. I also linked a new anon email in my username here, if you’re comfortable communicating that way. If not, I totally understand.

            1. LaDeeDa*

              I hope you see this, I don’t know how to see your email address, but if someone can tell me how I would be happy to email with you!

    2. periwinkle*

      T&D person here… It’s a broad field and pulls from a lot of different knowledge areas. Is there any particular aspect to T&D that catches your attention? Just as an example, this is the scope of my (Fortune 50) employer’s T&D function: workforce development, including all kinds of training; organizational development; change management; strategic and tactical consulting on functional/skills development (from team level up to company-wide); performance improvement analysis; coaching; and leadership development from first-time managers to executive level. We do other things too but it’s Friday and I’m zoning out on the rest. In an org this large you specialize and focus on one area, but in a smaller company you might have a handful of people doing all of the above.

      Although T&D usually falls under HR (as it does in our org), I’d recommend looking at a grad certificate more in line with the area on which you’d like to focus. Do you want to develop corporate training? Adult learners require a different approach than secondary students. Do a little Googling on “andragogy” and the work of Malcolm Knowles for some foundational information. That goes for leadership development as well, although TBH it’s tempting to recommend a background in elementary education if you’re going to work with executives…

      An MBA would be a bit much at this point *but* understanding the finance side is important. If you can’t prove you’re creating value, you’re treated as an expense (and thus are an easy budget to cut).

      I’ll second the recommendation to check out ATD. It’s a huge organization; I attended their 2018 conference in San Diego along with 11,000 of my closest friends.

      1. HigherEd Person*

        thank you!!! I had no idea it was so varied. I think I’m most interested in leadership development, and most of my experience would be best suited to first-time managers. I’m also got good experience in skills/training workshop development and implementation (10+ years of facilitating workshops and trainings for students and colleagues. I can process StregthsQuest like a rockstar).

  54. ArtK*

    I’m leaving my job in July, but won’t give notice for another three weeks because I’m worried about retaliation — being walked out early. Yesterday my boss called me and told me he wants me to work on some significant projects right away. How do I handle this, knowing that I’ll be leaving about the time the projects really get underway?

    Bonus: There’s a hiring freeze on until September. That makes me happier about leaving because that’s not a good sign in this business right now.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can’t trust them not to retaliate, therefore you owe them nothing right now. Just smile, accept the projects and then dump them back on his lap on your way out.

      You have to work on holding back that desire to be a good person and conscientious employee. They burned your goodwill when they made you fear retaliation for giving notice. It’s hard because it goes against your nature, I’m the same way but just bulldoze through it and then dance yourself right to your next job come July!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Work on the big projects, take good notes, and leave them at whatever stage of completion they’re at when you leave.

      Especially if you don’t have a set in stone contract that would guarantee you’re OK if something goes south with your next plan. (Whether it’s taking a new job, or going back to school, or sailing a few of the seven seas.) Why burn bridges until you’re sure you won’t need them?

  55. L.S. Cooper*

    I’m kind of bummed that my current company has zero chances of having a job I could transition into that’s actually in my field. I really like the culture and the perks here, but the work…. I’m going brain dead, I think. I need to break into web dev as soon as I can, because my neurons can’t take it!

  56. Darrow*

    This is somewhat related to work? Apologies if this would be more appropriate for the non-work open thread…

    It seems like office fridge issues are a widespread concern, and a popular topic for letters and commenters. Many people experience extreme frustration at not being able properly refrigerate their lunch, and many solutions involve ways to keep a lunch cool that does not require a fridge.

    Am I the only person that does not care at all about refrigerating my lunch? Unless I bring something that has to remain frozen until I eat it (frozen entrée, ice cream, etc.) I never bother putting my lunch in the fridge. I also don’t have an insulated bag to keep it in. It just sits in the open on my desk from 7 am until I want to eat it. The types of items I bring can vary widely (leftovers, sandwich, salad, soup, anything that happens to be in my fridge at home). I have never experienced any food poisoning or other issues from this.

    I literally never have to experience irritation or anxiety about my workplace fridge situation. I honestly had no idea that fridge concerns were so prevalent until I started reading this site. Are my lunchtime storage habits so completely out of the norm?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, probably. Even if I’m not worried about spoilage, I want my sandwich or salad to be cold.

    2. L.S. Cooper*

      My office has quite a few full-size fridges, so there’s not a huge problem with space, but I do generally put stuff in the fridge. The rule of thumb for food service is that food has about 4 hours to be out– not being kept cold and not being kept hot– before it goes icky, and I can’t reliably guarantee that I’ll eat my lunch before the time runs out. Obviously, that’s a conservative estimate, but…. I tend to not want to risk it.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      Yeah….I like cold things to be cold, and hot to be hot, and with a past job working in food inspections, I cringe at leaving food out.

      However, I have a lunch bag that has built in freeze paks – you literally just freeze the whole bag – and that thing will last a whole day being cold in a generic office environment, so I don’t put anything in a fridge that often. I just put the whole bag into a desk drawer.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I am of the generation that grew up with tuna fish sandwiches in a metal lunchbox in an un-airconditioned school. I survived, largely because my mother kept her kitchen more sanitary than an operating room. (Clorox! Lysol in the brown bottle!)

      Office fridges – I’ve observed that food and beverages betray their origins, whether home or fast food. Earlier this week I threw out a coworker’s salad from Wendy’s. It sat in the fridge unopened for two weeks, until it molded into a new life form.

      1. buttrue???*

        Warm bologna for me in my school days. It just isn’t the same when it’s cold. Husband always ate his lunch from home at room temperature. What ever we had had for dinner the night before.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I like it cold. Of course, it’s horribly bad for me so I shouldn’t be eating it, but every once in a while, I NEED a bologna sandwich in my lunch. I think it’s a comfort thing.

      2. Even Steven*

        Exactly! When I was a kid I ate lots of warm lunchbox lunches and never had any issues. Now at work I keep my insulated lunch bag at my desk, and walk it to the kitchen at lunch to heat up soup or whatever. When I make a lunch that might have a riskier ingredient like sour cream or shrimp, I just throw a couple of lightweight ice packs in the bag. I have never once stored anything in the work fridge. I don’t quite understand the issues that came up in that letter this week. An insulated bag with ice packs would keep the writer’s soda chilly all day.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I know people who do as you do, but I also know that I would prefer to avoid food poisoning. Personally, I have an insulated lunch box and use ice packs as needed. The bag sits in my desk drawer.

    6. KayEss*

      I don’t refrigerate my lunch, but the only chill-worthy parts of my lunch are a bagel with cream cheese and a can of coke. Both come out of the fridge at home straight into my non-insulated shoulder bag (at around 8:15-8:30, this would work less well if I had a long commute but I’d just get an insulated bag, then) and keep each other reasonably cool until lunchtime. I’d probably feel differently if I was bringing something more resembling a real meal, but not having to fret or fight over fridge space is glorious.

    7. LaDeeDa*

      I have never put my food in the work fridge. I have a really nice insulated lunch bag and a couple of ice packs. My lunch stays cold, and my afternoon protein shakes stays cold until 2:30.

    8. Mobuy*

      You are not the only person who doesn’t care! I have plenty of room in a clean fridge in a clean staff room, and 90% of the time I don’t bother. No food poisoning either!

    9. Overeducated*

      I’m like you unless my lunch involves meat (which it usually doesn’t) or milk (but I’ve only been pathetic enough to bring cereal once). I think leaving meat out at room temperature for 5 hours is iffy.