open thread – July 19-20, 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.

{ 1,949 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunflower*

    For people who work in sales or account management- can you tell me what you like and HATE most about your job? I’m looking to switch from event planning for a professional services company (Ideally, I’m looking to work for a hotel brand doing global account management) and know I’m having ‘grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome. I want a job that offers more flexibility and is more focused on client interactions instead of spending my days working on checklists, logistics and chasing people down for stuff I need from them. I’m really burned out from my current field and I don’t want to make a jump before considering all the sides of a new role. TY!

    1. Hotel GM*

      If you don’t want to spend your days on logistics and chasing people down, then hotel global account management isn’t the way to go. You’ll constantly be hunting down people at the property (I’m guilty of this, I’ve got more to do than sales), and you may get everything set up only for locations to turn down the business, and you’ll have to shop around lots of locations and manage interactions between the clients, the hotels, and since hospitality is heavily franchised, a myriad of owners, many of whom are neurotic about their bottom line and giving out any sorts of discounts, even to corporate clientele.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i do account management on the advertising/ media side, and you will absolutely be chasing people down all the time! there is a client focus but there are a lot of negatives with that in terms of job flexibility (you have to be available when they need you). but it is great when you get good feedback from clients and know that they rely on you to make things run smoothly. i am very much a people person and my job is very peoplely!

    2. Emily K*

      My impression as a client who has a few different account managers with different vendors is that they always seem to have a lot of irons in the fire. The ones who have the right skills make it look easy but I’ve also had vendor account reps who rarely responded to emails in a timely fashion, wouldn’t deliver things on time or get back to me when promised without proactive reminders and follow-ups from me, and in meetings often seem to be looking at whatever we’re looking at for the first time with me instead of having reviewed it ahead of time to be prepared to speak about it and present it to me.

      From my outside perspective, it seems like what’s underlaying the poor communication and follow-through is that the rep is unable to prioritize/balance the work coming at them from all their clients – either because they don’t have the right project management/organizational/time management skills or because they have too many clients, or a combination of both. They are constantly in reactive/crisis mode, responding to whatever’s in front of them demanding attention in the moment instead of knowing when to set aside something low priority to focus on something high-priority or keep another project timeline on schedule. (I think part of the reason I can tell this is what’s going on is because that’s the mode I fall into when I have too many things on my plate, so I know what it looks like in other people.)

    3. hospitalitymarketing*

      I’ve worked for 3 different hotel companies in account management. It’s flexible but requires a fair amount of travel and I have long days since I work with so many properties.

      1. Sunflower*

        Did you like working at those jobs? I don’t see myself doing that long term but thought it would be an easier transition into sales and I have contacts in the industry. I travel a decent amount in my current job and don’t mind it.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      I can’t speak towards hotel account management but can speak towards doing both SaaS sales and recruitment.

      I suppose the worst thing for folks would either be dealing with the rejection or the constant nature of needing to produce. While you can coast a little bit complacency can be fatal when it comes to sales as it can definitely be momentum based and when you’re doing well, you really want to try and hammer it. Also, depending on the way your comp is structured if you have a couple bad months, your potential earnings will take a hit which may mess with your mental state depending on what your finances are.

      To me, the best thing about sales is honestly the compensation relative to the level of education needed to succeed. I have a basic undergrad degree in Marketing from a middle of the road university and I’ve had years that have rivaled my friends who are far better educated than I am and are in much more ‘prestigious’ fields (law, medicine, finance). I’ve also found that sales can largely be immune to the office politics that seem to infect and drag people down, while there will always be situations of accounts being landed in questionable fashion, by and large if you can sell, you’re going to succeed. Also, for me anyway I’m extremely competitive and sales was a natural outlet for me to be able to still ‘keep score’ and control my own destiny.

    5. Seller of teapots*

      I’ve worked in sales for my whole career and right now lead a team of 25 reps. I love sales and I think there are lots of ways to be good at. (The stereotype of the used car salesman is not the only or the best way!)

      Think about the kind of strengths you have and what kind of sales job you’re looking at. Some sales cycles are really long (you’re working months to years to close the deal) —which relies on strong strategic and organizational skill—and others are all about the immediate close—which requires v strong interpersonal and sales skills.

      Also consider is it a job w a lot of prospecting/cold calling (high rejection, can be draining) or more account man agent (you have your customer base and you’re working on upselling them).

      I love sales because it always changes, its all about relationships, and I find that because it’s metrics based you get a lot more flexibility. It’s very clear if you’re hitting your numbers so (typically) folks don’t care as much about hours and if you wfh etc.

  2. job hunting parent*

    When unemployed, how much time per week do you think is the right amount to spend on your job search? I am looking for a new job after moving cross-country for my spouse’s job and have two small kids at home. I’m finding it hard to allocate enough time to the search and need to work out some child care options to give me time to focus on this other than when the kids are in bed and I’m exhausted from the day. I’m curious what people think is the right amount of time to spend on a weekly basis (excluding interviews, which I can easily get coverage for).

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Depends on how desperate you are to find something. In my case there was definitely a correlation between the number of applications I submitted and the number of offers. When I wasn’t hard-pressed, my goal was to send one application a week. Between finding a good opportunity and jumping through the application hoops, I usually spent two nights on this (one for searching, one for applying) maybe an hour or two each. But when I really needed to find something, I shifted my goal to try and apply for at least one thing every other day, which was probably taking me a few hours per night (so 10 hours a week). If I had been adding in-person networking to this, it could have been higher.

      1. job hunting parent*

        I wouldn’t use the word desperate, but I’m the higher earning spouse (or will be again, when I get a job) and we’re living with my parents in the meantime. So there’s a pretty good amount of urgency in my search!

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I don’t think there truly is a “right” amount of time to spend job searching whether you’re already employed or not. I think as long as you’re looking for quality postings that align with what you want to do and are putting forth real effort to customize your resume and cover letters to those opportunities, you should be fine. When I was unemployed and job searching (and living at home with my mom), I was made to feel like I should be job searching eight hours a day, but I didn’t have 40 hours worth of job postings a week to go through. (I wasn’t qualified for much at the time.)

      1. Autumnheart*

        And when a person is well into their career and looking for higher-level positions, there won’t be 40 hours worth of postings to go through either. Same with being specialized, certain times of the year, etc.

        To me, the bulk of the job search effort goes into prepping your resume, making different versions of it, fine-tuning a cover letter and making different versions of that, setting up profiles on different job search engines and making sure your info is accurate, optimizing the LinkedIn profile, working on the portfolio if that is applicable.

        Once all that is done, though, then the rest is basically reading notifications about listings, applying, communicating with recruiters, and reading new postings, and that might only take an hour or two a day. It doesn’t take 8 hours a day to apply for jobs anymore for the same reason we don’t have to go find a copy of the actual printed phone book, newspaper or Yellow Pages to go look things up, mail paper resumes to a physical address, then hang around in the kitchen by the landline phone because otherwise nobody will know if it rings. All the 8-hours-a-day legwork has been eliminated by technology.

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I kept myself on a schedule of applying for one job a day. Pick out a job that fits you well, do research on the company and adapt a cover letter and resume to fit them well. Usually took anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes.

    4. Colette*

      I’d say an hour a day for looking at postings and applying. I’d also allocate some time for networking/volunteering if you can.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is about what I spend. I have a cover letter template so I don’t have to create a whole new one every time. Low-level jobs don’t take much time at all. I sometimes just shoot a resume without bothering about a letter (yes, I do get responses).

        If I’m busy, I’ll bookmark stuff and come back to it later.

      2. SunnyD*

        I’ve found that, over time, LinkedIn has gotten pretty good at emailing me about jobs that fit pretty well.

        I keep job apps in a spreadsheet, incl text of the job listing, for piecing together who the heck is calling me. :)

        1. Colette*

          And I find LinkedIn terrible (because of my non-standard work history). When I’m job hunting, I rely on Peter’s New Jobs, which is a local job-posting aggregation service.

    5. B. J. Salinger*

      I don’t think there’s a ‘good amount of time.’ Ideally, you want to be applying to jobs that actually interest you and allocating the amount of time it takes to thoroughly completing applications and interviews which will vary depending on your field. If you’re not getting anything done, you may need to evaluate job hunting prior to the kids getting up in the mornings, during nap time, or when your partner gets home. Your situation sounds tough, but if you can ask friends or family to babysit for an hour or two so you can get something done, that may help. If you can outsource the job hunting, that’s also a possibility. Otherwise, the job hunting situation is tough for anyone — whether you have a full time job, caregiving responsibilities, etc., finding that time is challenging, but it must be done! Good luck!

      1. job hunting parent*

        I am very fortunate that I have built-in free child care (we’re living with my parents while we search and my mom doesn’t work). But I want to be cognizant of not taking advantage of her, at the same time acknowledging that it’s also in her interest for me to get a job! So I’m trying to figure out what is reasonable to ask of her. I could afford some paid care, but it would be awkward with my mom home, so I can’t really bring in a sitter. My older child does go to preschool a few days a week which helps.

        1. WellRed*

          Why not ask your mom what she thinks is reasonable and if there’s anything you can do to make it easier on her?

          1. job hunting parent*

            Well I think I need to start with figuring out what I need. If I ask her she’ll put the question back on me. From there I can talk to her, and can definitely work out some things to make it easier (for instance, the time my older child is in preschool works great because then she’s only watching the little one).

    6. Audiophile*

      While I don’t have kids, any time I’ve been unemployed I’ve tried to prioritize my job search (even when I’ve had a severance).

      Usually, I think, I’ve devoted 2-4 hrs a day to job searching. I give myself breaks, taking a lunch or going out for bit. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve treated it like a job.

      But, ultimately, you’ll have to find the right balance.

      Good luck!

    7. Moray*

      One thing to remember is that searching is much easier energy-wise than actually applying. I usually spend my exhausted time doing the searching off and on, and scheduling a set period of time just for applying. I then make sure my day/week allows me to rack up the energy and focus I need in time for application-period.

      1. job hunting parent*

        That’s a great point. I could identify jobs in the evenings, and use my child care time during the day to focus on actually applying.

        1. Moray*

          When I find something I’m interested in but aren’t going to apply to right away, I do try in the moment to come up with a sentence or two to put in my cover letter, or a tweak to make to my resume, and jot them down when I save the posting.

          Doing that tiny bit of work sort of helps my brain remember later that it’s worth applying to, and that as exhausting as job hunting and applications are, I can apply, and want to apply.

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed on this, try to save your higher brain power and high focus activities for when you have child care for sure!

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I think 2-4 hours a day. You need to searching for the jobs to apply for and when you find one then there’s the application and resume and cover letter tailoring. Some days when you don’t find anything that fits, it will be a shorter day, but when you are ready to apply I think that can take 2-4 hours in and of itself so it may carry over to the next day.

    9. ABK*

      Since you’re unemployed, fairly urgently need a job and have free childcare, I’d allocate a half day everyday (so about 20 hrs per week), and use that time to find, arrange and attend networking meetings, as well as searching and applying for jobs. That time could also be used for interviews. I’m in business school right now and feel like I spend at least that amount of time on my job search.

      1. job hunting parent*

        That’s about where I’m landing. I might not need that time everyday but I think I do need good half-day blocks because it’s hard to do an hour here, an hour there. I also went to full-time business school and remember that search well! Good luck on your search!

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I think that your parents won’t feel taken advantage at all if you’re having them look after the kiddos while you pour as much time as possible in the job search. I would work with them, what works best with their schedules. Say 1-2 hours daily. You’re job hunting, you’re not going out to daily dates or something! I think you may be worrying too much about that aspect.

      You should be dedicating the time you need to search the job boards or looking at the assorted companies who you’re aiming for, daily. It all depends in your job of course and what you’re targeted position is! I’m in accounting, so I sent out resumes daily for the most part when I was job searching. However if you’re in a specialized position that takes more digging to find openings, then I would give myself an hour or two to do the necessary research.

    11. Clementine*

      Is a portfolio relevant to your work? Make sure to allocate time for that if so. I would suggest 2-3 hours at-home searching and applying, and going to meetups and events and volunteer activities 2-3 nights per week.
      Your parents, I suspect, favor you taking time on your job search, because that heightens the odds of immediate success.

    12. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Well, I just signed on the Universal Credit, and they asked whether I was able to job search 35 hours a week…

      So I guess that’s the minimum in the UK

    13. BeeGee*

      Currently unemployed, and I personally have a hard time defining a specific amount of time to dedicate strictly to job searching/applying. I find that some days I just don’t have much luck on finding jobs that I am interested/a good fit for and other days I find several. I do find it useful to bookmark or save multiple jobs so I can work on applying to those on slow job search days and I can be more dedicated on adjusting my resume and cover letter for the role for each application.

      On that note, I have found that the best use of my “job searching” time is not in looking for roles but allocating enough time to a good application. It can be frustrating and exhausting to write cover letters and tweak resumes, but I feel more confident when I send these applications off rather than when I just mindlessly keep shoving my resume/cover letter out there.

    14. K*

      I found 3-hour chunks the most productive. And absolutely out of the house. As much as I adored my daughter crawling in to visit, it broke my concentration.

    15. Lynn Whitehat*

      When I’ve been unemployed, my rule was talking to someone about a job 3 times a day. Applying for a job counted. A phone screen or in-person interview counted. Attending a professional networking thing counted. Taking someone out for coffee or lunch could count if there was a reasonable chance it could lead to a job.

      That was enough to keep a good momentum going, without being overwhelming. And yeah, you do want to get childcare squared away. If you can barely find time to apply, it’s going to be really hard to get to an interview if you have to figure out childcare from scratch so you can go.

    16. Kathleen_A*

      Alison has addressed this from time to time, although she doesn’t provide a, you know, precise answer. Her basic message has consistently been that those people who tell you you that “Looking for a job is a full-time job” are just *wrong*. Hmmm, I know there’s a trick to including a link without flagging my post, but I can’t remember what it is. I’ll try including a couple of links in the posts that follow.

    17. it happens*

      Lots of good stuff already. 1. Make a regular time/place out of the house to do the hard stuff (writing) and 2. Start networking. Since you are new to the area (unless you works there before you and your husband moved away) you should be building connections who will point you toward the job openings before they are posted. Find meetups if you are in a field that has them, find alum from your schools and join whatever professional and/or women’s organizations that seem useful. Cuz people get people jobs. Good luck!

    18. MissDisplaced*

      Ok, so I’ve never felt you had to be at it for 8 hours a day as though it were your job.
      But that being said, persistence pays off.
      You have to see what works for you, whether that means 2 hours every morning or just 2 days per week. When I’m working and searching, I try to do this on Saturday for a few hours. Or, you could also aim to apply for say 2-3 jobs per day.

    19. Washed Out Data Analyst*

      When I was unemployed and had nothing else to do, I would try to spend a full work day (9-5) 4-5 days a week on my job search. But only a small portion of that time was me actually applying to jobs. I would say I sent an average of 4-5 applications a week, depending on what openings I found. The applications themselves would only take about 8-10 hours a week (say 2 hours per application).

      The other hours were spent doing side projects, taking online classes, meeting people for coffee, and doing some odd contract work here and there if I could get my hands on an assignment. I work as an analyst, so there is always some software I could be familiarizing myself with. It both kept me busy and kept my skills warm. It also gave me a healthy structure to my days so I didn’t go insane from having nothing to do, though I don’t think you will have that problem with 2 kids!

  3. Anony-miss*

    How do people build meaningful relationships in their work community? I feel like I’ve been very successful at networking and building casual contacts in various offices, but I don’t know that I feel like I have genuine relationships with folks. It feels especially hard because I want to be working in another functional area – I don’t want people to feel like I’m using them to get career mobility. I really want to form closer relationships with people in this functional area because it’s work that’s meaningful to me and I’d love to support people and have support with it. But I feel like I’m having a little bit of a professional “how to make friends as an adult” situation.

    1. Laika*

      How much interaction do you have with these folks on a day-to-day? If you see them fairly often or share an office, I think it makes it much easier to swing by and chat, but I could see it being a lot tougher to cultivate that if you’re not in such close proximity.

      1. Anony-miss*

        The people I’m interested in getting to know more are across campus from me (I work in higher ed) so it definitely makes it difficult to get to know them organically. I see them a handful of times throughout the year at events/programs related to the area I want to get more involved in but that’s usually it.

        1. Laika*

          Oh! That actually makes it a bit simpler, in my experience (eight years working in post-secondary). Coffee dates with folks from other departments are very common. You do need a plausible excuse to reach out–were they running a program when you saw them last year at X event that might help shed light on your current work? Are they involved in organizing Y event, and you might want to help out in some capacity?

          I do think in some way you aren’t able to get around the “transactional” feeling, because…that’s exactly what it is. But people aren’t, generally, opposed to it. And coffee dates are the perfect way to set that up, since everyone likes to stretch their legs and has a favourite coffee spot on campus. That kind of relationship-building is really useful in a higher ed context, so no one will give it a second thought.

        2. CC*

          I also work in higher ed and I ask people to coffee a lot, so I second Laika’s comment! I have found that being the aggressive coffee asker works out well for me. Also, I’ve gotten really close to people on writing retreats–so depending on what you do, definitely look into activities like that that are on-going.

        3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          The coffee date is a good suggestion. Or a walking “club” that meets to do a lap around campus, or a book club especially if the books are related to the area you want to get into (maybe ask them for suggestions or refer a book to them), plant club (succulents are really popular right now and I always enjoy trading cuttings with another plant hoarder). If you can find something that you have in common you can use that as a reason to meet up with or contact them via email more often. If they run a program where they need volunteers/submissions/donations, let them know proactively that you’re interested. If you’re waiting for a position to open up in their department in order to apply, be honest so they will maybe not only consider you but create a position for you.

        4. SunnyD*

          Those are two separate questions.

          1) How do I make closer work friends?
          There are good tips below, but the crux of it is, invite folks to coffee / lunch and they’ll likely show up.

          2) How can I get comfortable actually using my network?

          This is something women especially do, and it isn’t helpful. Men are (broadly) more comfortable with a casual transactional networking, without having to be buddies. Women make networks that have to be real, authentic, and deep… but then guiltily feel like they’re using that person. So I’d recommend you work on having a dude’s approach to benefiting from your network, and continue with making real connections.

          I’ll post a link after.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Ha! So all along I was networking like a dude? Interesting, lol. (That does ease my guilt though.)

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Joining an organization like Toastmasters helps, if you can find one at your workplace or nearby. I’ve made some very good friends within it, and have known them for over 5 years. There’s something about answering table topics questions that your club starts to feel like a family very quickly.

        5. LunaLena*

          I work at a university too, does yours have staff events (luncheons, retreats, etc) or committees that you can join, like a New Faculty/Staff Welcome Committee or Event Planning Committee? The staff events I go to generally encourage people to sit with folks they don’t normally interact with, so it’s a great opportunity to network and learn more about what other resources are available on campus. I usually carry around some business cards in my ID holder and hand them out as needed. It’s usually pretty simple, just start with “so what does your department do?” and segue into “we do X, it sounds like you work with Y, could you help us out with that?” and “can I contact you and we can meet over coffee to discuss?”

          If it feels too mercenary or transactional, keep in mind that you’re all on the same team and working towards the same goal. Even if you’re doing this for your own career mobility, in the end everyone is working to make the school a better place and help the students to succeed, so it’s not completely for your own selfish reasons.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I have no clue, so I’ll be following this thread closely, lol. Like you, I can network my butt off when I have to, but it’s obvious that my view of the situation is transactional. I haven’t encountered many people who seem to mind this though, so maybe it’s just in my head that this is a problem? I don’t know.

    3. Keyboard Cowboy*

      I flat-out told my team lead that having a social relationship with team members was important to my work happiness. He suggested a weekly board game lunch with our team, and that has helped a ton! (Of course this approach only works for local.) I don’t think you should underestimate the value of being explicit about what you need; lots of people feel the same but feel weird about saying it.

    4. Nott the Brave*

      My go-to is having lunch with folks. It doesn’t even have to be at a restaurant, if they’re busy. Lunch is a great way to hang out and form real connections with people you work with. They do need to be semi-local for this to work, though.

    5. Weegie*

      I don’t know that these kind of relationships CAN be ‘meaningful’ or ‘genuine’ – in my experience, if they’re based on networking rather than co-working on a project they are indeed ‘transactional’, as Fortitude Jones mentions below. And there’s nothing wrong with that! (I spent ages building up my network in my previous job, which I was in for 5+ years – then I left the field (thank goodness!) and I’ve kept in touch with not a single one of them. They no longer need me, and vice versa.)

      But two ways to make sure you perhaps stay in more regular contact and become a go-to person in the field are 1) join a relevant professional association, if there is one, and really get involved with it; 2) you mention ‘events’ in your reply to Laika – organise an event, ask some of the people you want to work with more closely to speak at it, plan the programme, help out, whatever. In the course of organising and running it you’ll become better known and will be in more regular contact with your fellow professionals. Plus you’ll be building your profile at the same time.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        It depends on how much you feel free to be yourself. If you only feel free to be your work self, then it’s not going to feel as genuine.

    6. Quinalla*

      I think you can build meaningful relationships with work connections, BUT, you also have to get comfortable with those relationships being transactional as well. It is still sometimes a bit uncomfortable for me, but honestly, but most work relationships are transactional and that is ok. But building a relationship is good because you build that trust which is good for both parties. And you can do this anyway you are comfortable. I take people to lunch, stop by and chat a bit (asking questions and listening is key!), send folks articles, etc. that might be of interest based on past interactions, joined work-related groups/organizations, formed group/organizations, organize events for the team, etc.

      Anyway, I very much value work relationships, it is one of the things that makes work meaningful for me, but I also have come to terms with the fact that those relationships are something where I can get something from them, they can get something from me or both. Ideally we can both help each other out, but it does change the nature of those relationships.

    7. merp*

      My area has a monthly happy hour for the profession I’m in and it has helped so much – everyone has a chance to share at the beginning if they are working on a project others could join, looking for job, posting a job soon, etc., followed by more low-key socializing.Would anyone you know be interested in that? You could get the ball rolling!

    8. LQ*

      Like others, I think it’s ok to feel like they are more transactional than feels good to you. But one of the things I like to encourage is positive gossip. If you can connect people with others that benefits you as well as them. But also just talking people up in front of others (do that genuinely) can really help relationships. Pretty broadly. It’s not something I think of as a transactional thing so it feels better to me to just tell someone that Mary is one of the best people and if you don’t know her that your life is less joyful than if you did. Or that Kelly is one of the most knowledgeable people in the program and I’ve never seen her stumped by a question. Once you start looking for opportunities to do this I find they are fairly frequent.

      The best time for this is if you are working with someone new and can take them around and introduce the to folks.

      Sally, this is Kelly who is incredibly knowledgable about the program, if you have questions, she’s the one. Kelly, this is Sally who is brand new and brings a vast amount of skill and knowledge around excel and she’ll be helping with the excel with excel work.

      This always feels like the least using a person and most genuine relationship budiling stuff I do.

      1. Emily K*

        The book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant goes into this extensively and found that the most successful people engage in this kind of referral-based networking. They only agree to take on projects in their own niche specialty area, where they can really contribute something that nobody else can, so they don’t burn out by taking on too much – but they also are avid networkers who are constantly making connections between people within their own network. “Thanks for thinking of me, Susan. This isn’t the right project for me, but I’d like to introduce you to Micah, who would do an amazing job with this.” As a bonus, not only did the referrer avoid burnout, both Micah and Susan feel slightly indebted to the referrer for connecting them, without which Susan may not have found a good candidate and Micah wouldn’t have the additional income from taking on the project, so later on if the referrer needs something, they can call in a favor owed instead of asking for one to be given.

      2. BethDH*

        I’m relatively new where I am but I’m finding myself in a position where I need to ask for networking help a lot more than I used to — a much larger pool of people with fewer organic connections — and I’m finding that asking someone I’m talking to for connections is also having a similar effect but from the other side! People like being useful in a relatively low-commitment way, so if they can introduce you to someone who can truly help with your job, that also helps cement your relationship with the person who helped you.

  4. Eillah*

    Currently resisting the urge to hurl something heavy at the head of a coworker (a man, of course) who agrees with that idiot candidate in Mississippi re: not being alone with a female reporter. Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack is not helping with the internal hype. Oop.

    1. Eillah*

      I guess now I have to…. pretend to be nice to him.

      /sunglasses on, explosion in background, etc etc

      1. Alternative Person*

        My favourite tactic for this type of co-worker is to blink as little as possible when speaking to them. They get very unnerved but can’t work out why.

        Also, remember the relaxation chant:

        Out with the anger, in with the feminism.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “Out with the anger, in with the feminism.”

          *snort* Yep this is my new mantra.

      1. Eillah*

        I only just learned that the soundtrack was added to Spotify a few days ago. A++++ shower belting album, underrated comedy classic.

    2. Utoh!*

      Yeah, this definitely why I *don’t* talk politics or religion or any other flaming topic at work. I don’t want to know what my coworkers think because inevitably there will be conflict. I tend to keep it all work at work.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. Before the 2016 election, I made that mistake and a coworker I liked and respected said, “He speaks his mind!” I saw her in a completely different light after that. :\

        I do not, however, regret posting on the anonymous intranet suggestion box that people should not leave inflammatory tabloid material all over the break room. Upper management agreed and posted, “No electioneering at work.” Nor do I regret shoving said material in the giant trash bin.

      2. SunnyD*

        This isn’t politics, though, it’s “Hi, coworker! I’m an enthusiastic fan of discrimination against women and excluding them from paths to success! Awesome, right? Also, I think about your v@gina a lot and can’t trust myself alone around you because I’m thinking about sexing you instead of work. Ha, but not just you, I fondle all women in my head! Sexy sexy coworker women.”

        1. Kat in VA*

          Like we’re so GD radioactive that just being around us can mess them up.

          Tell me again, if men are so unable to control themselves, why do they run the world again?

          I find it astonishing that a measurable portion of 49% of the population despises and fears the other 51%.

          /bangs head/

      3. Sara*

        My (newly enacted) personal policy is now that I won’t talk about particular politicians/figures with coworkers. Certain issues (especially around things like human and civil rights) are a) too important and b) too intertwined with my work to be silent on politics completely, but this is the line that makes sense to me (not saying that’s true for everyone).

    3. DAMitsDevon*

      So, if he agrees with that candidate then does that mean he also doesn’t want to be alone with women? Seems like a perfect excuse to avoid talking to him (Oh, sorry Jim, looks like there’s no one else around and I know you can’t be unsupervised with a woman, so I’ll just head back to my desk ASAP to be safe). Seriously though, that kind of thinking sets a bad precedent for how to treat women in the workplace, though good on you for continually acting professional despite what I’d argue is a lack of professionalism on his behalf.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        That and if that person happens to be a manager, how is a woman subordinate supposed to get a good review? And how is that manager supposed to have any one-on-ones to give feedback? Generally, at least where I work, reviews are one-on-one. I would respond a lot less honestly if someone else was in the room.

    4. Mellow*

      “(a man, of course)”

      ————————————-

      Don’t you simply mean “(a man)” as a descriptive? Please qualify these things. Every single man in my life, from husband to father, brother, cousins, and uncles abhor that candidate’s words. Every single one. The “(a man, of course)” casts all men in the same light and that is unfair.

      1. Natalie*

        Are there a lot of women with “no meeting alone with female subordinates” policies that I’m unaware of?

      2. paperpusher*

        No, she means of course someone who shares those views is a man. Far fewer professional women share those views because they understand what it costs them.* That’s a completely different statement than “he’s a man, therefore he believes that.” All bugs are insects, etc.

        *There are definitely women who share them but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say it’s fewer.

        1. Ra94*

          Yes, and the women who share those views are very unlikely to be in the workplace or in advanced position, since it dovetails neatly with views about whether women should work at all.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Well, there’s also women like Beverly LaHaye who have built an entire professional career out of telling women they should not pursue professional careers.

      3. Kat*

        Most people who think X are men =/= most men think X.

        Have’t heard any women speak out about these dangers, and why would they? We know it’s a great way to limit our career advancement. Correcting someone saying something perfectly valid sounds pretty condescending and obnoxious imo.

      4. Foreign Octopus*

        There is always one person and today, you’ve been that person.

        Thank you for your contribution to the really urgent #notallmen movement that is going around. Might I also interest you in #alllivesmatters and #meninism as your next helpful contribution to a discussion that doesn’t need clarification?

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Food for thought, if this was a racially based discussion, and someone was complaining about “xyz was black, of course”, and someone (likely me) jumped all over that comment, it would be treated much differently.

          I get it. You’re asserting that saying those who do/think/act like X are men does not create the perception that all men do/think/act like X. You’re expecting all to take that as a given, and taking offense at those who don’t. Looking at it from their point of view, they’re afraid of being taken as automatically X just because they’re men…and just telling them “don’t feel like that” isn’t going to work.

          When I hear about a carjacking or a robbery I usually pray “please don’t be a black person”….because I know there’s going to be a subset of people who will hear about that and judge me personally by that standard because of the color of my skin. Why is it not okay for me to want to be judged by MY actions, and not considered sexist, a sexual harasser, or worse, a predator, just because of what hangs between my legs?

          And before you come out with the one poisoned M&M in the bowl analogy, save it. I get that. I don’t approach strange women at night, and I’m hyper aware of my surroundings. I’m not trying to pose a danger to anyone. It just gets tiring at times to know that no matter how much I act right, I’m still going to be casually dismissed as a sexist, misogynist or worse, just because I’m a man. Not that I agree with the meninists…but I can see where they take the view to the extreme…..

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Yes, there have been a couple of threads (that I can remember, at least) about women who had various levels of discomfort around being alone with a male coworker. I don’t think they reached Pence levels, but there was some discomfort. Long car trips were one area at issue, as was going out to lunch (where, BTW, you wouldn’t actually be alone). Oh, well.

        1. Lepidoptera*

          Yeah but there’s a difference between “I fear for my physical/emotional/etc. safety” and “I’m afraid that I can’t control myself and others (including my spouse) will believe and do believe that I can’t control myself if I’m alone with a person of a different sex”
          One is safety and backed up by statistics and one is not defensible in the same way at all.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            It’s not even that they don’t think they can control themselves and are afraid they’ll accidentally have an affair. The people who hold to this policy usually say they do it to keep from being *wrongfully accused* of sexual assault. They do it because they think women are liars who super enjoy the publicity that comes with accusing a powerful man of assault. Because getting death threats online and having people reveal your home and work addresses to all the world and being afraid every moment of every day sounds super fun, I guess?

            In case anybody who’s reading this thinks that women frequently make false assault allegations for the popularity: This is not a thing that ANYBODY wants to be famous for.

        2. SunnyD*

          Right… But the difference there is being worried about BEING raped or slandered*, vs DOING rape.

          (Not that they consider women to be people enough to consider it that – they’re just objects of temptations for men.)

          *In that way that, of a male-female couple being gossipped about, generally only harms women.

        3. Kathleen_A*

          I didn’t mean to imply they were exactly the same thing – and I do agree that the Pence Maneuver is more common to men than to women. I’m sorry that I was unclear.

          But there definitely are women (not me!) who do practice the Pence Maneuver – and for pretty much the same reason as Pence and Co., which is that they believe there is something fundamentally wrong with a married person being alone with another adult of the opposite sex.

          I am reeeeeeally not a fan of Pence (I live in Indiana – in his old congressional district, in fact – so I know him of old), but amusing as it is to think of the Pence Maneuver (better known as the Billy Graham Rule, BTW) as being some sort of check on sexual abandon, I truly don’t think he follows this rule because he’s afraid he can’t control himself. I think he just thinks it looks questionable from a sexual morality perspective – Caesar’s husband, so to speak. :-) I don’t know his wife at all, but I suspect that he and she agree on this particular issue.

          Now, how he managed this back when he was a radio talk-show host or a low-ranking member of the House with a tiny little staff is something of a mystery. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he only started this once he had a staff large enough to allow him the luxury of never being alone with female staff members. Or maybe not. He absolutely had and *has* some female staff members, I can tell you that.

    5. Cat Fan*

      Does this guy abide by that same rule? How does he a function at work with women who either report to him or work with him or even his boss?

    6. dealing with dragons*

      I enjoyed that the reason the dude was ok with being alone with gay dudes because he’s married

      /s

      1. Perpal*

        Can’t men and children also accuse/bring down careers? Just look at kevin spacy and michael jackson; can’t be alone with anyone, ever!!!

        1. Perpal*

          Wait, he actually said she had to be chaperoned by a man, specifically, not just “not alone”? Wow!

          1. LunaLena*

            Yeah, he told her that she would only be allowed to ride in his truck with him if she brought along a male colleague. You know, to supervise her, lest she falsely accuses him of rape. You know how those hysterical dames are.

    7. anon4this*

      Just treat him like the potential rapist/out-of-control neanderthal he’s identifying with.

      1. voyager1*

        Okay y’all are probably call me crazy but here goes. Oh I am a man too, because that kinda matters here

        Whenever I hear a guy say he can’t be alone with a women at work, I don’t think anything sexual is going on.

        I just assume the guy thinks that woman are all liars when it comes to sexual harassment and that woman use that to blackmail men to get promotions etc. They think women use it as a tool. Which is crazy because nobody is going to go through what a victim goes through just for a promotion.

        So here is the thing, if the guys think that is a tool then they are telling you that they would use anything to get a promotion or role etc. It gives me pause to think about what they have done to others to get where they are. How many folks thrown under the bus, or lied about or lied too etc.

        Anyway that is my takeaway. Coming from a guy who is chilled to the bone by this “can’t work with women” crap other men play.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          Woman don’t generally use it as a tool. Honestly, anything I’ve ever experienced with sexual harassment has only happened once at work, and that coworker is no longer there (though due to other circumstances). We know the managers will think we’re chicken little if we use it all the time.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Reasonable people know this. The a-holes who subscribe to the Pence rule do not.

  5. Qwertyuiop*

    I’ve been in my job for about a month and I feel as though they watch me carefully. I go through my purse to either trim a hang nail or put on some lip gloss. I don’t want them thinking I’m stealing something, but I just sort of do my own thing. I noticed a coworker watching me as I was doing this.

    Another time I was working on the computer and my coworker was talking to me and all of a sudden, she just snapped her head and looked at me screen. I was working so I wasn’t goofing off, but I feel like they have trust issues or something.

    Is this normal? Should I say something like, “Oh, my lips are dry so I’m putting on lipgloss.”

    I’m just unsure of if it’s me or if I’m doing something to make them suspicious of me. Any thoughts?

    1. Zephy*

      I think a lot of this is probably in your head; IME, nobody is paying as much attention to you as you think they are. Your coworker’s sudden head-turn could have been for anything – maybe she heard a noise, maybe a bug flew past her face. Since you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, you don’t actually have anything to worry about. I wouldn’t preemptively explain why you’re putting on lipgloss or filing a nail; chances are good that nobody was wondering to begin with.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Not normal. Kind of weird. Maybe say “was there something you needed?” or (if you can say it nicely) “what are you looking at?”

    3. KR*

      The head snap could be anything. I think next time you could say something like, “oh yeah look at this work order wakeen sent over” or “oh did you see a bug or something?” Or it could be that your monitor is haunted who knows.

      I wonder if your coworkers just don’t know you very well and are looking at what you’re doing because it’s not familiar to them. I wonder if your purse is really big compared to your body or has an interesting pattern or maybe you just have an unusual way of holding it.

      You probably aren’t doing anything wierd or suspicious. I know the feeling though.

    4. Not Elizabeth*

      It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything too suspicious, but who knows, maybe your coworker has a problem with any grooming being done in the open, and maybe something on your screen caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. When you notice something like this happening, you could say something neutral like, “Oh, did you need something from me?”

    5. NomdePlumage*

      Sometimes eyes are naturally drawn to movement or noise, imagined or otherwise. If it’s a stare-down, that’s another matter. You can always just give them the biggest cheese grin you can muster until they look away… what are they going to do, complain about you smiling at work?

      1. Aquawoman*

        This. I have ADHD and if anything moves, especially in peripheral vision, it immediately gets my attention. If something flashed on the screen, I’d turn my head too. Come to think of it, this may apply to the rooting around in the purse, just movement attracting attention.

          1. Jaydee*

            There is a website I use regularly that has a banner with images that change occasionally but are very similar and consistent (think greyscale images of buildings and architectural features). I CANNOT just leave this page up on my screen because I will see the flicker as the image changes and wonder what in the world just flashed on my screen and it will distract me dozens of times before I figure it out.

            Did it again today while on a conference call. Out of the corner of my eye, I see and look up…nothing there. A few minutes later, and I try to stay focused. A few minutes later, and I remember “Oh, right! The banner changes!”

        1. Fiberpunk*

          That’s what I thought. I sometimes glance at people’s screens while I’m talking to them. In my office the furniture is almost all set up so they spin their chair around when I go in their office, and I’m facing their screen. Things will pop up, it’s momentarily distracting.

        2. Emily K*

          Same here. There is a window next to my desk that overlooks my side yard with a fence, and some days I turn sharply to look out the window multiple times an hour because a squirrel is running back and forth along the fence and it catches my attention in my peripheral vision every single time.

          1. NomdePlumage*

            One time I had an interview next to a window and there was a bird on the sill. I almost tanked the interview because all I could think was “Don’t look at the bird. Don’t look at the bird.”

            I looked at the bird.

            But I still got the job! That bird is now my best friend (even though he’s not aware of it).

        3. Autumnheart*

          The SQUIRREL! effect? Yeah, same here. It was awful when my cube was adjacent to the main aisle and I didn’t have a separator to kind of wall off the view. Every. Single. Time. someone walked by (so, like every 15 seconds ffs) it would divert my attention. Now I sit in the middle of a row, so there are far fewer people walking by.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Because a drawer is less likely to be you pocketing something if they really are afraid of theft. Same with nail clippers. It’s weird to be fiddling with your personal bag in some offices, depending on what you’re working with of course.

          1. Fiberpunk*

            What would those type of offices be? I’m not being snarky, I really don’t know. Are they watching for people stealing post-its? Corporate espionage?

            I work with gov’t classified info but they only make us take oaths and trainings, no one thinks of questioning what I’m doing with my bag. That environment sounds high stress.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Ones with cash and small expensive equipment that walks away.

              There’s a reason places have lockers available for employees. It’s not just to lock up their purse/bags for the employees safety.

              You have signed away your life if you are caught doing something wrong on the government level, that’s enough. Along with the security in your building usually to thwart theft but in a general office, it’s up to just making sure you’re all watching what’s going on at any given time.

            2. SunnyD*

              I’ve noticed that lower paid jobs are scrutinized closely for low level theft. Well paid jobs are scrutinized loosely, if at all, for massive theft.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                At my last job, people were stealing the paper plates and plastic silverware. It was so bad that the facilities team sent out a company-wide email stating that if it persisted, they would stop supplying them altogether. Yes, this company was one of the lower paying ones.

            3. Emily K*

              They exist, though I would expect the venn diagram of “Offices where rummaging in a bag is suspicious/bags aren’t permitted at workspaces” and “Offices where you have an assigned desk you can keep things in” to have very little overlap.

        2. MonteCristo85*

          IMO, fiddling with your purse sort of signals “leaving” whether or not that’s true. I would imagine that’s what drawing attention, not worry about stealing or anything…same as if you were stacking up papers in a briefcase or whatever. I had a boss at one time who got kind of upset if you purse was even out on our desks so we kept them in drawers. Digging about in your desk drawer doesn’t have that “done with work” signal attached.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I feel like digging through a purse feels like “employee is doing personal things on work time” and it tends to draw more attention than opening a desk drawer would.

      1. londonedit*

        I was going to suggest keeping a lip balm on your desk – this is a very normal thing where I work (I have lip balm, hand sanitiser, hand cream out on my desk). Angelinha – I think Qwertyuiop is worried that their colleagues think it’s odd/they’re doing something nefarious when they rummage in their bag looking for a lip gloss. Having it on the desk means they could just grab it and apply it and wouldn’t need to rummage in their bag.

        That said, I do think you’re probably being a little paranoid, Qwertyuiop!

      2. Celeste*

        Yes. I have an arsenal of little things like this that I keep at work. This way I don’t have to dig in a purse or tote, and I don’t need a large purse! Eight hours is a long time to go without needing something to get through the day.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Who is “they”? Is it just one or two coworkers? This could easily be a nosy personality trait that these people are extra interested in what others do.

      It’s weird if you are being watched carefully but like other mentioned a lot of this could be in your head. A bored coworker that spends a lot of time staring mindlessly at others or something and you only think its about you.

    7. WellRed*

      Hmm, I find it interesting that your thoughts to wondering if they think you are stealing (paperclips?). Did you come from a workplace where workers were mistrusted like that.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My mind went the other way — are the co-workers reacting to the person who you replaced? ie keeping an eye on the new person to make sure she’s not goofing off like Jane did.

    8. A teacher*

      What kind of job is it? If it’s in a shop or a certain kind of manufacturing or something I guess the purse thing might not be so weird, but if it’s a more standard office job, that’s strange.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I think some of this may be in your head and because you’re paying extra attention to them and your new surroundings. So you think all eyes are focused on you, when really they’re just drifting.

      Perhaps they are keeping an eye on you closer as well so that you know they’re available if you need them? It’s their way of staying in tune with the new person that they really honestly don’t have any reason to trust you yet!

      It takes time for everyone involved, newbie and the current staff to “gel” together, I think you’re in that awkward stage. Unless they’re saying something or staring at you for extended periods, I would shrug it off.

    10. Kat*

      Pretend you have no idea that they might be suspicious or otherwise being rude. Smile and ask “What’s up?” or similar in a friendly tone. If you keep pointing out that they’re staring, they’ll either explain themselves (see:ADHD and movements above), or at least be deterred.

      1. azvlr*

        I was thinking the same thing. If you are normally a good judge of these things, trust your instincts, and keep your guard up, but also conduct yourself as though you don’t notice. Don’t be their self-fulfilling prophecy.

    11. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I like the idea of nonchalantly saying something like “oh, my lips are dry so I’m putting on lip gloss” or as KR suggested “oh yeah look at this work order Wakeen sent over,” etc. If they are weirdly monitoring you, it’s a subtle way of calling them out on it. And if they aren’t, then they won’t think anything of it.

    12. Megasaurusus*

      If your not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. If they’re worried about theft it would be one of those weird workplaces where you have to have a clear bag, etc. If you begin to engage in behaviors like explaining perfectly normal behavior to people so that they don’t think you are doing something bad then you will train those people to always expect an explanation from you and you would give them a very negative form of power over you. Live your life, put your lip gloss on whenever you need to, you’re at work, not prison!

    13. Parenthetically*

      “I don’t want them thinking I’m stealing something”

      This isn’t a reasonable fear AT ALL, nor is it remotely a reasonable assumption for a coworker to make even if that were what was going on. I’d say there’s a 90% chance your coworker was zoned out and not really looking at you at all, and a 10% chance that she didn’t think “grooming activities” are appropriate at work. Other commenters are right — next time, say, “Can I help you with something, Susan?” or another similar, neutral remark, and go right on trimming your hangnail or putting on your lipgloss.

      The vast majority of what people do in their work life has nothing to do with their coworkers. It’s about their own internal life, thoughts, choices, etc. There’s no need to rush to the assumption that a coworker is thinking ill of you, because she probably isn’t thinking of you at all.

    14. lyonite*

      Do you clip your nails at your desk a lot? I ask because that’s one of the most annoying sounds in the world, and if I had a coworker who was doing it regularly, and I got to know that the sound of her going through her purse was a precursor, I probably would end up staring when I heard it to see if it was about to start.

      No idea about the computer thing, though.

      1. A teacher*

        Yeah, that’s a possibility. Or other grooming that maybe should be done in the bathroom and not at a desk, like hair brushing or perfume spraying or excessive application of makeup. Putting on lip gloss is perfectly fine, though, in my opinion.

    15. Alphabet Pony*

      I often stare at my colleagues by accident while thinking and staring off into the distance. Could it be that?

      1. Autumnheart*

        I was thinking that as well. In fact, my desk is set up such that my monitor makes it look like I’m staring at the person across from me when I’m actually looking at the screen.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      If you are new to a job it’s kind of normal for people to look at the new hire for various reasons.
      Since you are one month in, I’d just ask, “Everything okay?”

      Try to remember we cannot control what others think. We can only keep our actions transparent so we can be above reproach.

      Nail clippers, specifically. We have had lots and lots, okay, tons of complaints about fingernail clipping at work. Try to leave the clippers at home and bring bandaids. Wear the bandaid until you can get home and clip your nail. You may have only used them a couple times but for some people that is a couple times too many.

      I can’t tell if you had a toxic job or if your new job is one of those places that believes everyone is stealing.
      But something is pushing you to think of this question of stealing. I’d suggest for big picture stuff start talking to your coworkers more. Learn their names and something about them. (Ex. Jane has a cat. Bob loves football. etc.) See if you can nail down where this feeling of being accused of stealing is coming from and nip it.

      If you do work in one of those places where everyone is accused of stealing, the solution there is to job hunt. Again. Sorry. I worked in one of those places. For several years I watched so. many. people leave under false accusations. The manager asked one guy to help fill in and eventually he fired that guy for stealing also. Our jaws were on the ground, the manager himself had hand picked this person. Even the unemployment office decided that it is not possible for so many people to be stealing from one company.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        And was it actually the manager all along? Because that’s what I would think after the second person was accused.

  6. KayEss*

    Question for people in tech, particularly web development: is a graduate degree or certificate in Human-Computer Interaction worth pursuing for a front-end development career?

    Background: My degree is in design (it’s a BFA), but I’m trying to angle my career into front-end web development. My coding and web-specific design skills are all self-taught or from informal education. I really want to get away from design-focused positions into hybrid or development-only ones. I’m really interested in UX from both a design and development standpoint, but I’m not formally trained in it at all.

    I was lucky enough to land a really awesome position that leverages my design skills but also allows (and expects) me to grow significantly as a developer… and it also offers a pretty sweet annual tuition reimbursement benefit for continuing university-level education. My last job search (that landed this position) was… rough. I don’t plan to leave here any time soon, but I’m a millennial who has had every job I’ve ever held vanish out from under me after less than five years, so I do want to position myself as best as I can for a future in which I’m looking for a new job.

    But I don’t actually have a great idea of whether an HCI education is a credential that matters out in the real world, or if it’s equivalent with any other graduate degree and just says “you went to grad school, I guess!” With design positions, everything is about the portfolio and education credentials are largely a formality. Any insights from people in industries with a lot of developers?

    1. Bekx*

      Is the HCI degree UX focused? I technically have a M.S. in UX, but it wasn’t called that when I went to school….but it was UI/UX/HCI classes that were focused on a UX curriculum. That being said I think UX degrees nowadays are way more valuable than the degree I got 10 years ago.

      Most people I know who work in UX have a degree specifically in UX. They are also SUPER BIG on UX Meet-Ups in the area, so I would start going to those as well. I’m in a similar career to you, but mine is more ‘web content updating’ and email than development — even though I went to school for development.

    2. Booksalot*

      Generally speaking, I would tell a comp sci major (or equivalent) that they just need experience, a portfolio, and a good Github.

      But for someone coming in with a BFA, I’d say a technical MS could be a help to you, if you want to take advantage of the tuition benefit anyway. You could probably rack up enough experience in a few years to get where you want to go, but if you’re eager to learn and have the reimbursement, it certainly would push you higher up in the application pile.

          1. EinJungerLudendorff*

            That was my read too. But the way it was phrased implied that they were different things?

    3. Nicki Name*

      Echoing the above, and also, don’t freak out about “less than five years”… the typical job tenure in tech has been lower than that for a long time!

      1. KayEss*

        I’m not worried about the optics of jobs only a few years long on my resume, since as you say, it’s pretty normal at this point… it’s more that, in my history, there’s no such thing as job security, so I’d better not get complacent! Every job I’ve had, I’ve either been laid off or left one step ahead of a layoff. Even in a job I love that seems stable right now, I’ve got one anxious eye on the possibility of having to unexpectedly job-search again.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Hope its ok I can piggyback on this a bit, but I am considering a move into HCI or UX from a business strategy background. Do I have to go back for a full degree or if I were to do a 3 month immersive somewhere like General Assembly, does that hold weight? It seems like in my market there is a glut of junior UX people and it can be difficult to be taken on somewhere.

      1. working in software*

        Someone I know did a 3 month bootcamp for UX and landed a job back in our city right after finishing, but the tech market in our city is very, very tight, so YMMV.

      2. Toothless*

        If you want something short(ish) and immersive, the University of Washington has a User Centered Design certificate that takes a year and seems to be well regarded.

    5. Kat*

      I work in tech for a well known two sided web platform (think Airbnb, door dash, Etsy, etc). I interview for our junior positions up to tech leads. I’d say no. You need to know how to code well and have a portfolio. Dev is not a job where people are impressed by fancy degrees with indirect value, rightly or wrongly. Many of our best developers went to community college for two years before transferring to big state schools, or studied other subjects then did code boot camp. Your actual ability to code and work decently with other humans aren’t the main things, they’re the only things. If a degree is teaching you something other than coding skills it might come in handy some day, but (I’m my experience which is a one person view point obviously) it won’t help you get hired.

      1. spock*

        While your ability to code and interact with only people are the only thing that should matter in an *interview* at many jobs, some kind of previous relevant job or certification or degree or bootcamp or whatever is much more likely to get you an interview in the first place at many companies. Recruiters and hiring managers still have to screen based on something. Anecdotally I can also say that most hiring managers at my own company don’t read cover letters for technical jobs so the resume is even more important.

        1. Toothless*

          On top of that, going to a university automatically connects you to a lot of tech recruiters – I got my job through my company’s university hiring program.

          1. Kat*

            Totally agree that we screen based on something, and a degree is usually the proxy for knowing you’re worth looking into… but those degrees are still just signals to me that you know how to code. Im not implying that we read cover letters either; we don’t even ask for them. However, a human computer interaction degree wouldn’t reach that bar for me. I’d rather see a computer science degree from a solid CC or a boot camp, either of which you could do a lot faster and cheaper than most masters degrees. It’s totally possible that the school in question will give scholarships and have excellent resources that will make the money worth it, but also possible it won’t. I’m always wary of ROI from these really niche masters programs.

    6. Toothless*

      Front-end web developer here! I work at a really big tech company where there’s three main roles that are somewhat adjacent to what I do: Engineer (me!), PM (program manager), and Designer. Based on what I see happening around me, PMs are the ones who talk to users, figure out business needs, and do the initial planning and sometimes design for our projects, but they don’t code. Based on the curriculum for UW’s Master’s in HCI, I think getting that degree would be helpful if you wanted that kind of PM role, but not for moving into something more technical. I agree with Booksalot that having a purely technical MS woud be helpful for you, or really anything that proves you know technical stuff and can code well.

      1. KayEss*

        That’s really interesting! Figuring out business/communication and usability needs is the part of web design I actually like most and would prefer to keep doing–but I also love to code and don’t want to give up that end. That’s why I’m trying to move out of “designer” positions, which are frequently advertised as not needing any coding at all (also, they pay a LOT less, like holy cow). Is that desire to be involved in the UX/structural design end something that’s likely to keep me out of big tech companies because they silo those roles?

        1. Toothless*

          I wouldn’t think so, but this is the first big tech company I’ve worked at so I can’t really speak for other companies, or even other places in my company. My job involves making tools primarily for internal use, which might lend itself more to people stretching out of their main role because we have a smaller audience than the people making the actual product. On the other hand, the advantage of a big company is that they work on enough different things that they can just hire someone based on how smart they are and then find a place for them, at least at the college hiring level which is how I got here.

          Programmer spots are harder to fill than designer spots (hence the ones you see being advertised as not needing coding skills and paying less), so I think if you are strong enough technically to get a developer job and not make hiring managers worry that you’re going to jump ship for a UX/design role in a couple months, you’ll be fine and any design/UX knowledge can only help you instead of hurt.

        2. Kat*

          It sounds like you might be happiest in a PM role somewhere like google, where most PMs are required to have CS degrees and know how to code. Where I am programmers really don’t have an jurisdiction over business or usability needs; PMs tell them what to build (having done the user research and made a business case), they negotiate the best/fastest ways it can be built, and then they build it. If you’re interested in business and usability, working as an engineer wouldn’t scratch that itch in the mid sized (you’ve heard of us but we’re not face book or google etc.) companies I’ve worked at.

          1. alphabet soup*

            Another role to look into: business analyst. They also work on the business side of things, such as doing interviews to figure out requirements, and some UX-adjacent things, like wireframes.

    7. dealing with dragons*

      certificate, maybe, grad degree, no. get a grad degree if you want to move into ux research or something.

      in my experience, since ux is somewhat quantitative you generally show that off in the interview anyway. I’ve been able to show off experience in what my interests are and in general discussions (“oh have you heard of Brad Frost and atomic design?” etc) as well as on my resume with what I was experienced with and apparently the fact its well designed.

      I didn’t think it was – its very plain and black and white, but recently I got a resume for a job we’re filling that was five pages of bulleted lists. oh, technology.

    8. just_another_developer*

      I’m in the same industry with a CS undergrad and HCI masters. I went into my masters mostly because I loved the design / UX aspect of front end development and I didn’t get enough of it in undergrad. That being said, I think my friends who used the technical HCI degree as a boost for their CS skills (after nontech undergrads) benefited more than I did from the masters. There is a misunderstanding in parts of the industry that front end engineers do not need the same technical chops as backend engineers. That is absolutely not true these days.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        There is also a misunderstanding in (I would say most of) the industry that front-end development doesn’t need a person with specialized knowledge of HCI and usability/user research. Which is why the majority of websites are pretty hard to use – not impossible, obvs, but all of those annoyances we run into would have been eliminated if the team had included that specialized role and allowed it to run usability tests appropriately. It does seem like the number of User Experience Researcher roles are expanding, though, so this may be shifting.

    9. alphabet soup*

      I’m getting my masters in HCI right now. I’ll second what other commenters have said: if you’re interested in doing front-end dev, I’d say the graduate degree is not necessary. But, if you want to work in product, UI, or research, I think it can be helpful, but again, not 100% *necessary*.

      I think a lot of HCI programs (mine included) don’t really focus on technical skills– we took a basic HTML/CSS class, and a JavaScript class, but that’s it for technical skills for the rest of the program. My program focuses mainly on user research.

      I decided to get my masters over doing a boot camp for a few reasons: 1. I did a boot camp in mobile development, and it was fun, but the pace was a little too fast for my learning style, and I also realized I didn’t want to be a dev; 2. When I started, I didn’t see too many boot camps focused on UX in my area– most are focused on programming skills. I also didn’t want to do an online program, because I wanted to build a network; and 3. I know that it’s technically possible to learn all of these skills outside of a graduate program, but for me, it was a lot easier to just pony up the cash to pay for exactly what I wanted– I used to work on a product development team, which you’d think would provide a lot of great learning opportunities, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

      So far, it’s been a good decision. The program has a great job placement rate, strong alumni network that shares a lot of job opportunities and advice, and a lot of the profs are industry professionals, so I feel like I’m learning a lot about how UX is practiced in the real-world, rather than just theory.

      So, it just depends on your goals and what you’re actually looking to do. I noticed you responded in another comment that you’re interested in a role that mixes UI/UX and coding… I’ve seen that “UX engineer” roles are becoming more popular– someone who crosses the bridge between engineering and UX. You might be interested in that.

      1. cartoonbear*

        Yes, actually, at my last job we realized we had a hole in our UX team that needed to be filled NOT with a strictly technical person, NOT with a programmer, but with someone with excellent front end and JS who ALSO understood and cared about UX. So that role is there. However, what these UX jobs get called vs. what the jobs actually are is all over the map these days!

    10. cartoonbear*

      Late to party but….
      I don’t think HCI is what you’re looking for as a front end. I would think that certifications (Javascript, CSS) and a good portfolio of work would actually support that career path better. HCI involves not only web based (or even screen based) software applications–it includes kiosk, instrumentation, medical device, wayfinding, and all manner of other interactions outside mobile and the browser–unlike UX, which primarily deals with browser and mobile interaction/experience.

      UX is more of a design discipline, IMHO, than a development one, so a UX path probably wouldn’t be best either, unless you find one with a specifically development-oriented track within the program.

  7. Laika*

    I’m a few months into my new job, which is in a very specific and technical field that required a three-month training period. The work itself can be done basically by anyone so long as they can get through the training, so the employees come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Because of this, some folks lack some of the (useful! important!) context needed to excel in the work. Say we do llama dialect translation; anyone who speaks the language can make a direct 1:1 translation, but without cultural context, they might miss an important piece of nuance, mistranslate a slang word, etc.

    Our department head recently sent around an email with links to articles that would help give some of that context. I do think that the readings themselves are valuable, yet the wording in the email makes it clear she expects us to do the reading from home. I’m not even opposed to reading from home–I like learning and want to do well! But I’m pretty iffy on the idea of what is essentially an assigned reading list of homework that I’m expected to work through on my own personal time. Any thoughts?

        1. Kat*

          What does Canada have? As an American that would change my answer from “totally unacceptable go f$&? yourself” to “totally reasonable.”

          For the record I think suggesting helpful readings to anyone is great, but giving mandatory unpaid weekend work to hourly employees is 112% cheap and crappy

          1. Blossom*

            Well… I don’t think it translates that neatly, especially internationally. I’m in the UK and salaried – and contracted to work 38.5hrs a week. Yes, true, nobody’s really counting my minutes, but strictly speaking there is no expectation that I work any longer (or less) than those hours, and I wouldn’t be expected to take work reading home with me.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      This is normal career development. Set aside an hour or two on the weekend and read the articles. It’ll endear you to your manager and may even help you become even more proficient at your job. This isn’t an unreasonable request (and you may be able to do some of this reading during slow periods at work).

      1. Laika*

        Ahh, I’m glad to hear this. I’d heard various reactions from peers–anywhere from “I deleted it lol” to “I already read it!” After a few days’ consideration, I’m erring on the side of, “this is a practical, useful thing”. I do balk somewhat at the idea of “homework” but to reframe it for myself as career development makes it much more appealing.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup! Always try to read positive things into stuff like this. If your manager didn’t like you or care about how well you did in your role, she wouldn’t give you the reading material to begin with. So this is a good thing. :)

    2. LawBee*

      If you’re not opposed to reading it at home, and it will help you, and she’s not requiring it, then go ahead and read it? I’m not sure what the issue is here. General professional development happens in the off-hours a lot of time.

      1. Laika*

        I think some of the clarifying questions people have asked here have nailed down why I feel a bit off about it – I’m paid hourly, and not a salaried employee. So my desire to stay informed in my field (which I can do on my own, without assigned readings, if I want) is competing with a mild grousing of, “Well, you pay me by the hour, pal!”.

    3. Colette*

      It sounds like it’s a little reading (i.e. not 50 hours). I’d try to work it into my work day or, failing that, my lunch.

      I’m not sure where you are in Canada, but here is the overtime law for Ontario:
      https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/overtime-pay

      So overtime would kick in at 44 hours (with regular pay before that). But that assumes that this has been assigned as work, and not shared as an option (which is more likely).

      1. Laika*

        I think this is a happy medium, but unfortunately the nature of the work is that I wouldn’t have the chance to do it while there (our time is quite strictly divvied up). And when I’m on lunch, I kind of want to check out of work, y’know? But I’m not opposed to committing 10 minutes of a break to getting through what I can, bookmarking and coming back.

    4. Blossom*

      I think it’s unreasonable to expect you to read it in your personal time. It’s in their interests for you to skill up in the way that this specific job requires (obviously, since they’re the ones sending you tje suggested reading), so they should be more than happy you to do it on work time. This is different from self-directed professional development. It’s more like a development plan set out by your manager.

      Btw I’m in the UK if that’s relevant – so I obviously can’t speak to what’s normal in Canada (though I get the impression your employment laws and resulting workplace norms are more like ours than like the US).

      1. Laika*

        Thanks for weighing in! I flip-flop each time I think about it, for exactly the reasons you’ve laid out here. I’ve been through training, I have the technical ability, and due to life circumstances I’m already slightly more knowledgeable about the “culture” than some of my peers who have been there for 2+ years. So it’s mildly vexing to be expected to go out of my way on my own time (as an hourly-paid employee) with extra work.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Since you’re all hourly, this might be a good time for a “push back as a group” strategy where you all ask if a certain amount of your work time can be allocated to reading these articles.

          1. Blossom*

            Yes, in fact the manager could consider holding a follow-up workshop or discussion on the reading, and make it required (in work time of course).

    5. No longer young*

      take it for what it is worth. (I’m salaried, not hourly). But I started making much more progress in my promotion path when I did start doing the outside reading – and not just the ‘recommended.’ I look for things that intersect my industry, read the newsletters (at least the synopsis of the key stories). I read and take professional development (how to present, etc) classes or volunteer opportunities, even when they don’t pay for them. I early on, taught myself just enough about the concept of “if this,then that” to bring the suggestion of how we could use it for our customers… the first year it was introduced.

      not to be a show off in any way -I am genuinely interested in human behavior, and I like making connections. I ask questions. And I read for self improvement and professional development.

      It really has made a difference in my perception of myself, as a life-long learner, and in my management’s perception of me, as someone who is passionate about improving things.

      YMMV.

  8. Vacations as a cure for Burnout?*

    In a letter this week about what might have been burnout (I’ll post the link in my next comment) there was discussion about effective use of time off to mitigate the feeling of bein disengaged / unmotivated at work. I know I left my previous position after six years because I just didn’t feel the same passion to come to the office and it was hurting my performance. I was lucky enough to have a month off and I used it as a “staycation,” hoping I would get my motivation back. I figured I’d been working so hard, I needed to take it easy for a while.

    Well I have to be honest, this did not cure my attitude problem, which has unfortunately persisted in my next job. Now I wonder if a more active and exciting vacation would have done a better job of shaking me out of the rut.

    However, other commenters felt the exact opposite: an adventurous vacation wasn’t relaxing enough to cure their burnout. Has anybody has a really successful experience with this?

    1. L.S. Cooper*

      I think there’s a sweet spot of vacations that’s probably different for different people. In my experience, relaxing and recharging are not the same thing. Relaxing is lovely, and a good way to rest a bit, but I rarely find it recharging. For me, I need novel experiences that aren’t stressful, and that work my mind and body in ways that I don’t normally get at work to feel refreshed.
      My success story: Over President’s Day weekend, I drove the 6 hours down to Santa Fe, alone, through the mountains, and spent two nights. I wandered around the town, looking at various museums and shops, but nothing for particularly long, I went to Meow Wolf, and I ate some very good food. For me, this worked because I don’t get a lot of intellectual and artsy stimulation at work, and I definitely don’t do enough walking. The drive down was pretty interesting too– I took the mountain route, which is longer, but prettier, and also involved some bits where the snow was blowing so intensely across the road that I could barely see the entire hood of my car!
      So, I think, for me, the right level of excitement is just enough to get me interested and stimulated and make my brain work in a different way for a bit. I was pretty content to get back home and back to work, even after just a short getaway.

        1. L.S. Cooper*

          It was excellent! But, I also think my issue with burnout wasn’t with having too much to do, it was with having too little to do, none of which is mentally stimulating. I spend a lot of time feeling sort of like a large, intelligent working dog who’s stuck in a small apartment with nothing to do, so the solution for me was to find some enrichment so I didn’t go crazy.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            I love this analogy – perfectly describes me right now. Im bored-out really (after an exhausting spring driving burnout) and while there are things I could be doing I just cant be bothered as they are stimulating enough. Now I find myself drinking coffee end of the day just to pep myself up. Its driving me nuts.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m vaguely planning one of those vacations, but this comment has inspired to make it happen sooner rather than later. Thank you.

      2. londonedit*

        I agree. I often think ‘I just want a weekend at home doing nothing’ (not really because of work, in my case, just because I have a busy life in general and don’t often get a whole weekend with no plans/commitments) but in fact when I have a weekend at home doing nothing, I end up feeling bored and vaguely guilty about not doing something more interesting. I need something that’s interesting and different enough to give my brain a break from normal life, but not something that will leave me more tired than I was before! I recently had a couple of weeks between jobs, and I picked out a couple of cheap, fun and different things to do most days. So I went to a local spa that had a cheap daytime offer, I went to a couple of free museums/attractions in my area, I went for a run along the river and treated myself to an extra-nice coffee and cake at the end. I found those things much more ‘relaxing’ than just sitting around doing nothing (although I did enjoy a bit of sitting around as well!)

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, I think a different environment is required. You don’t have to be mountain climbing, but you do need to shake up your usual life and expand your horizons a bit.

      3. SunnyD*

        I think it’s worth checking that you’re asking a vacation to do the right thing for you.

        Are you asking a vacation to do the job of depression+ meds and a therapist? If so, a vacation can’t do that; you need meds and a therapist.

        Are you asking a vacation to do the job of a work coach or career transition service? If so, look at a work coach or career transition service.

        Are you looking for a vacation to help you with nagging fatigue? If so, look to an integrative medicine doctor.

        Are you looking for a vacation to unwind a bit? Awesome. Have a great vacation.

      4. Quinalla*

        I agree with this and it is very different for different people. A perfect vacation for just me is what some folks would consider doing nothing. Sitting on a beach all day reading books, maybe a little swimming, napping, etc. Or some nice quiet walks in the woods. With some breaks to eat food prepared by others. I love that kind of vacation and can do it for a whole week and be perfectly happy. But I am recharged by alone time and time to think and read. I can have lots of fun on a more active vacation and it can even be a nice break from the norm, but I try to pepper in some true recharge time for me or I get back from vacation and feel like I need a week long nap :)

        My husband needs more going on or he gets bored and restless, but he does need to have some “chill” time in there too when he is just watching TV, reading the internet, etc. Freedom to do what he wants and not be too tied to plans is really important to him too. So on family vacations we make sure there is liberal chill/quiet/etc. time, but also make sure we have loose plans of things we want to do or see. We don’t get too committed so that we can be flexible with what we are feeling like doing that day. It works for us, but it has taken awhile to figure it out!

      5. Filosofickle*

        I never really thought about the difference between relaxing and recharging — I’m so glad you noted this distinction! That will be helpful to me. I have built in lots of relaxation in my life, but not enough recharging.

    2. Sunflower*

      I can’t remember when or what letter it was but a discussion was started over if anyone has actually recovered from burnout and I believe a majority of people said no. Search ‘recover from burnout’ on the blog and a few posts came up where this was discussed.

      I’m still feeling burnout from my last job where I was doing marketing for BigLaw. I was so busy that even if I was just taking a long weekend, I worked OT before to get my stuff done or prep people on stuff that might come in. I knew my emails were just piling up with work I’d have to do when I returned- including new projects. I was stressed on my PTO about what was to come when I came back to the office. I spent my last day of vacation dreading coming back to work. I just…don’t think you can ever bounce back if that’s the status quo.

      The only thing that cured my temporary burnout was when I was insanely busy for a month and then we had a slow 2 months after that. I felt back to normal after that time. The key for me was there was an end in sight. I think with most people experiencing burnout, there is no end and their situation is the status quo.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I don’t really have advice, but sometimes…. the work just isn’t interesting enough or doesn’t suit you. I’ve been struggling with some severe attitude problems at my current job that I’ve had for less than 6 months because it has fallen so short of my expectations. I am working on reframing it as “just a job” in my head, but that’s a tough thing to do.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      In my experience, once burnout sets in, a vacation of any kind isn’t going to reset your mindset. Once it’s got it’s claws deeply into you and the motivation is done, it’s harder to rebound from and a lot of it is internal soul searching not just time away.

      It also depends on the person. Vacations never helped me, I had to just leave wherever I had been suffering the burnout from. However in my case, that was enough to reset my head. You may need some really deep interpretive searching to really figure out what will spark your passion again instead of just a cool adventure.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah, I agree that vacation probably won’t be enough. But OP is saying that they left the job they were at and tried to re-set with significant time off. If that’s *still* not enough, I’m concerned about that.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, that’s why I really think the only answer here is a therapist and deep digging in her own headspace because if a vacation and job change didn’t shake some passion loose, there’s something in there hanging on.

          I worry it turned into depression honestly. That’s happened to me previously too but I’m prone to depression episodes.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I’ve successfully used a vacation to walk back burnout only once. My burnout was from a combination of work and school – I’d gone back to school to finish my degree but was still working full-time while I did it, so by the time I was finishing the degree I was so stressed I was barely treading water at work.

      So, my graduation present to myself was a week off. On Monday of that week, I went out to a gamestop, bought myself 4 new video games, stopped at Starbucks on the way home, and sacked out on my couch to play video games all week. I gave myself complete absolution from any and all housework and decided that for that one week, my only obligation was to do nothing productive.

      I think it worked because that was what I needed at that point. I suspect that the successful use of time off to counter burnout will be heavily dependent upon *what* exactly has pushed you to that burnout point. Internal politicking? Spend time alone! Feeling isolated at a remote office or WFH? Go be around people! Bored? Go do something fun! Overloaded? Do literally nothing!

    6. PretzelGirl*

      I think it honestly depends on the person and their life. For me the most recharging vacation is one I took with husband, sans kids last year. I just left an incredibly toxic job, 6 months prior, had 3 small kids and started a new job. We were both exhausted. At that point in our lives, we needed to sit by the pool/beach for several days, get in our daily workouts (without interruption), sleep and eat yummy food to recharge….. And omg did it help.

      Now I am at a better job, my kids are a little older and little less demanding. I could see myself going on an adventurous vacation, if we could swing it. Back then I was a blob, who couldn’t barely function!

      Vacations def help me recharge and relax, but others it may take something else.

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 I think it’s so specific.

        I was approaching burnout earlier this year and some recent vacations definitely helped. (In particular one with uni friends recently where I did not think about work even a little for a full 5 days). But tbh the thing that helped the most was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and getting a promotion that made it all feel just a little less shit. I think if those things hadn’t happened I would have been quickly back to near burn out regardless of holiday.

    7. Lumen*

      Everything I’ve seen about studies into this says that *while on vacation* the effects of burnout are mitigated, but return within a few days or weeks once back at work.

      My take? Time off does not cure burnout. It’s addressing symptoms, not root causes.

    8. Federal Middle Manager*

      For me personally, vacations have never made me want to do my job more/better, they make me want to hike! and camp! and travel!

      My personal cures for burnout have been attending good conferences or trainings where I’m out of the day to day deadlines and remembering the big picture of where my field is going and what I can do to achieve professional development.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, I have never once come back from a vacation excited and inspired to get back to work. When I hear stories like that, I think…we must have very different brains. And I like my work! Often, I love it. It’s meaningful, interesting, and even lucrative. But I can’t say a work day is ever better than a Saturday with my sweetie or a trip to Anywhere Fun.

    9. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Honestly? I think some of the burnout culture now isn’t “burnout” so much as it is “mild existential crises that result when you realize not only that your work doesn’t really matter, but that most peoples’ work doesn’t actually matter.” :/

      My theory is that early in our careers, we’re much more able to tolerate that idea because we assume that it’s just that we’re young and entry-level work is never gonna be that inspirational and we’re doing it to establish a basic professional reputation and a basic standard of living for ourselves.

      But once you get past that, if you’re fortunate enough to get to that solid middle-class lifestyle and advance in your work, that dissonance just grows, and that energy to tolerate it is just gone (well, I suspect a lot of people get more of it by having kids, another great external locus for your hopes and dreams of a better future).

      I found this piece really helpful for articulating the problem, but alas, I don’t think there’s an individual solution. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work

      1. Filosofickle*

        I can’t find the article off-hand, but I read a great theory about mid-life crises that states this (more or less): We’re happier when we’re young because we’re on our way up. We may be frustrated with what we have but we believe it’s all leading somewhere, and we see the potential. Then we hit middle age and think, oh shit, is this really all there is? Our wishes didn’t all come true (job, family, fulfillment, whatever) but time is no longer on our side. We’re disillusioned. Later, we get happier again after about 55 because we have gained acceptance of what is, we’re no longer wishing for what we don’t have.

    10. Tipcat*

      For me, it has made the return to the job unbearable. It’s sort of like the frog-in-boiling-water metaphor: Before the vacation, I hate my job but I’m used to it. Returning to the job after a week off, I can’t stand it. I am acutely aware of everything I hate about it and how much I hate it. On two occasions, I have started looking for a new job as soon as I got back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Back at work, the things that used to annoy me are still there and still annoying me.
        One person commented to me that it took her two weeks to feel like she had one week off. She spent the first week convincing herself she did not have to go to work. The second week felt like she was home for the week.

    11. Jaydee*

      I was suffering from burnout for a long time at my previous job and noticed a marked improvement when I changed jobs, but it still took a while to feel like I was really solidly back to normal. Even after almost a year, there are still certain things that will trigger some of my less helpful defense mechanisms from my old job and I have to employ strategies to fix that.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I just came back to work Monday after 11 days off and a lovely beach vacation. I didn’t want to go back. It’s been a ROUGH week!

      I enjoy my job, but you know it’s called WORK for a reason and if I were independently wealthy I’d much rather not work. Honestly, I think everyone feels this way. Don’t beat yourself up.

    13. Perpal*

      It depends on the level and the why of the burnout, I think.
      This week I was feeling a little burned out on my medical profession, I tend seeing a lot of people who have a serious diagnosis, and for inpatient weeks are often dying/transitioning to comfort care. I made it a priority to go out to a carnival with my little kids and get them to frolick, and felt much better.
      Other times a night or two of indulgent staying up late and watching horror movies (which is so irresponsible) just seems to reset my mind that life is not an endless slog of [interesting, meaningful, but not what I want my whole life to be all the time; just some of the time please?] work.
      Times in the past where I’m at critical stages of stress/burnout, and or if the problem is really a level of bad fit and possibly low grade toxicity; well the solution is just say this isn’t working and change paths.

    14. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Hm. Similar issue here. I was burned out for about 1.5-2 years (or more! I know, I know…) at the last job. I pushed through the initial stress lifts to get things done (because the end was near) and the timelines kept moving so I kept pushing on…. eventually I was in a massive burnout trying to finish things and I just kept holding on trying to get them done. It turned a mild burnout into a pretty severe one, I think. I was just trying to get through the days–tired all the time, ill-tempered for me (especially at the end), stressed about getting things done correctly and accurately, little to no help, and still trying to be professional about nonsense. It really wore me down.

      I’d take a week’s vacation and stress about all the stuff that would be waiting for me when I got back. I took a few days here and there and couldn’t let go of the work.

      So then I changed careers with little break in-between (a few days). Didn’t fix the burnout, even though it was a totally different field. Kept feeling bleh and unmotivated (not a good combination at a new job!)

      Ended up leaving that (bad fit) and taking a few months off. That was the only thing that really helped. The first couple of months I really just thought about work stuff or tried to remind myself “I’m not working on that anymore” or “nothing I can do about that now, I don’t work there” odds and ends. After the first two months or so I noticed that I started missing things I enjoyed doing–reading, walking around outside, home stuff, etc. I just really needed a few months with no work responsibilities to get back to who I was. Nothing helped but time. I did drain my emergency reserves as part of it, but looking back I honestly think I was treading really close to stress leave anyway. So maybe it would have worked for you but you just needed more time? :\

      Hopefully you aren’t in quite so similar a boat, but if you are–start making your escape plans now, and give yourself a break if you can. If you can’t, think about the most stressful part of your job (for you) and see if you can off-board some of it for a bit–trade with a colleague or shift responsibilities so that you are doing something that bothers you less and lets you relax/recover in the evenings.

      If I could go back and do it again I’d make a point at the first few signs to take a vacation, and when it got really bad to look at a more serious conversation with my management about off-boarding responsibilities.

      Good luck.

  9. WKRP*

    I’ve been working in my department for 5 years and in my career for 15. I’ve been looking to make a big career change for the last couple of years. I’ve actually had a productive conversation with my boss about it and let her know that I had no plans to leave unless a position opened in a specific department. (Like my dream job). I also know the boss’s boss of that department and mentioned it a few times to her in passing. Well, the other day a position has opened up in that department and honestly, I’m a little unsure about what my next steps should be and also now slightly terrified of the prospect. This would be a big change and I would take a big pay cut (30%). I’m pretty sure I can manage the $$$ (I have some savings and honestly, if I want to make this change, a big pay cut is inevitable), but still.. now that there’s a reality, I’m a touch frozen.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Submit the application. You won’t know if this is the right step if you don’t even try.

      1. peanutbutty*

        Agreed – it only becomes a dilemma if you get offered the job. Submit it and see!

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      Review your company’s policy on internal transfers to make sure you don’t have to get your manager’s approval first before applying. If you do, have a discussion with your manager about your interest and then apply to the new role.

    3. B. J. Salinger*

      You should evaluate why you are getting cold feet — just right it all out and keep asking, why, why, why, why to each item that comes up as a reason of why you shouldn’t apply or make the chance THEN right a ‘solution’ to each of those ‘reasons’ and see what is really the fear.

      1. WKRP*

        Oh, I know why… it’s mostly change. I would basically be starting over from scratch. So, not only would I start a career that is much different from what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years, there’s also the fact that I would have to go back to my early days of being on a budget. I am also aware that I have never liked my career, that what I enjoy doing is part of the job description of this position, and that if I’m going to make a career change, doing it at a place that appreciates what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years is probably as good as it’s going to get.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          As others have mentioned this is a process with steps.

          However, cutting to the punchline, you can take the job and tell yourself that you will do it for two years or whatever time frame. If it goes poorly or if the finances are too tight then you will do something to help yourself. I put this type of thing as a promise to myself and I hold myself to the promise.

          Many people do not like change. That does not get better as the years go by. I favor making the adjustments you want in life NOW, rather than waiting 10 years or so. It won’t be easier then and it is very possible it could be harder.

    4. Ali G*

      DO IT!!!
      When are dreams have a chance of becoming reality it’s normal to get scared. All the “what ifs” start creeping in. That’s OK – do it any way! You won’t know it’s the right move unless you take the first step.

    5. Megasaurusus*

      I’m going to be the voice of caution here. I cringe whenever someone voluntarily, and cheerfully is willing to take a pay cut for a “dream job.” You say you have savings, well unless you are independently wealthy, savings run out.

      When we fixate on an ideal and believe that the beauty of that ideal job will see us through real discomforts, like less income I am wary. It sounds very rose-colored glasses and giddy kind of thinking. Have you tried voluntarily forcing yourself to live on 30% less for a few weeks? And no matter what dream job is achieved, most people I know find out that all jobs are jobs at the end of the day with the same kinds of mind numbing activities and repetition that can burn anyone out.

      You can apply, interview, try to negotiate salary – and after all that’s said and done reject an offer if you get one and feel it isn’t right for you – and while doing that, I’d strongly suggest voluntarily feeling what that 30% drop in income would really look like day-to-day. Explore the option, but maybe try to enforce a kind of self-discipline that doesn’t get attached to the idea that this is the only job for you and you have to take it if offered.

      1. WKRP*

        Appreciate the note of caution. But, not to worry, I don’t have rose-colored glasses on. The job is in the profession I went to grad school for, doing the type of work that I particularly enjoy doing. I have never liked my 15-year career in the field I’m in. It was a job I took right out of school, did well in, and consequently rose up the ranks. But, it doesn’t come naturally to me and I fight every day to be good at it.

        I have lived on the salary that is posted. (Granted 10 years ago and doubly granted with additional expenses now that I didn’t have before, but also without the significant debt I had and I now own my home, which stabilizes my living expenses)

        I call it a dream job, because it is in an area that I’m passionate about. But, it will be an entirely new job, so I recognize that there may be issues that I won’t know about until I do it.

        1. sacados*

          I do think that Megasaurusus’s idea of trying out life on that 30% less (maybe starting now, through the application process?) is a good one.
          Really get a sense of what it would be like in your day to day now, if/how much savings you might have to use each month, etc.

    6. Quinalla*

      Honestly, for me I take it as a good sign when I’m a little be fearful/unsure as I know that means I’m stretching myself. That isn’t to say you should ignore that feeling or anything, but I’ve started to welcome that feeling a bit more saying “Ah, now I know I’m really pushing myself!”. I still analyze the ups and downs and go through the “What’s the worst that could happen?” scenarios and make sure I am ok with that for whichever choice and also the “What’s the best that could happen?” as well.

      Some people tell me they have never felt afraid. I don’t know if they are lying, never challenged themselves or their brains just work differently, but for me that is normal to feel when I’m make a bit of a leap.

    7. ..Kat..*

      I did this a few decades ago. Different career, significant pay cut, feeling frozen before the final leap. I had an additional expense of needing to spend 2 years earning a new degree.

      I made sure I could live off my new budget. Then, I took the leap. That final big step is difficult. Change and the unknown are hard. So many of us stick to the familiar, even if it is making us miserable.

      I recommend you make a backup plan (if possible), and then go for it.

      For me, I struggled through some difficult years, but the change was ultimately worth it. It helped that I had a couple of key people in my life that were very supportive of me and the change. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

      Good luck, whatever choice you make. Keep us updated if you can. AAM is a nice, supportive community.

  10. Fortitude Jones*

    Minor vent ahead:

    I’m going into the 11th week of my new job and realizing that I don’t care for my direct manager at all. She started off well, but then as I’ve watched her interactions with other people we work with, and after a recent exchange we had, I’m discovering that she’s passive aggressive, petty, and indiscreet, three traits I can’t stand in anyone least of all in a manager.

    I really wish I reported directly to my dotted line manager. He’s very laid back, open to feedback and suggestions, and isn’t remotely territorial. I also really like the way he gives credit to everyone who comes up with good ideas for our team – he’s always complimentary and gracious when I bring new ideas to the table.

    He also asked me if I would be interested in leading a writing training seminar if the opportunity presents itself – I’ve been creating training guides focused on proposal writing that he absolutely loves, as does our corporate trainers, and he’d like me to help shape our department training processes. I told him I’m not very comfortable with public speaking, but I’ll keep an open mind should the opportunity come up and reject the idea out of hand. He told me he really believes I’d be very good at it, so he’ll keep it in mind and talk to his manager (my grandboss) about it.

    I really like my grandboss as well – he and I have very similar ideas on how we’d like to see my role evolve over time – so I figure I need to just stay cordial with my direct manager and further develop my relationships with grandboss and dotted line manager. Both of them have higher visibility at the executive level, especially my dotted line manager, and if I get in good with them, they may help elevate me beyond where I currently am – and then, hopefully, I could convince them it makes more sense for me to also report to grandboss. I mean, grandboss was the one who signed off on my hiring, gave me the 27% salary bump I asked for in addition to increased vacation time, and it just makes more sense for he and I to work closer together since we’re at least in the same country.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Do it!! Practice, have friends help, take a class, join Toastmasters, whatever. After you’ve been in TM for a month or two, tell your boss he inspired you to join.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’ve already attained the Competent Communicator designation from Toastmasters through the chapter of a company I worked for five years ago. Toastmasters didn’t remotely help my stage fright – it’s an anxiety issue, which I’m currently in therapy for (among other reasons). But I’m thinking I can maybe record a video or instruct the course virtually – I’d feel much more comfortable at home or being recorded.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Good luck and watch your back. If your direct manager is as petty as you state, trying to pull a power play on her is unlikely to go well.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        What power play? I’m merely planning to grow my relationship with my dotted line manager and my grandboss and, hopefully, get my reporting structure changed. I have no desire to do anything in the realm of what she does – and frankly, I’m not sure why she’s even the one managing me and my new coworker since we don’t do what the rest of her team does. We should be reporting to dotted line manager and when he moves on, report directly to grandboss since it was the latter’s idea to create these open-ended positions in the first place.

        1. OhBehave*

          She’s going to see this as a power play. Watch your back. You have a great relationship with everyone but her. She’s going to feel threatened by that and will watch your every move. It doesn’t matter who you think should be your boss. It’s her for the time being so be careful to keep your opinions and attitude towards her well hidden in tone and action. She sounds like someone who could make working for her impossible to tolerate.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I work from home and she works in another country, so she won’t see me getting closer to anyone since our team really doesn’t see each other at all (all communication is done via chat and conference calls). I’m also really good at working for people I personally don’t like – most of my managers have been people I was “meh” about. I’m also not stupid enough to tell anyone what I personally think of her because what I think doesn’t matter. But I’ll keep these things in mind, especially the tone part, because that is something that’s not often easy to control.

    3. Kittymommy*

      See if they have a Toastmasters or something similar where you live. That will help as well.

    4. ContemporaryIssued*

      I’d stick it out for a while and continue making connections with your grandboss and dotted line. Perhaps a role opens up down the line they know you’d be good for and then you can switch roles and leave your unpleasant manager behind.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I really love my current job, so I’m not really looking to leave it anytime soon – I just hope that as the position evolves, grandboss will see the value in having me as a direct report versus being managed by someone who doesn’t even know a lot of what I do. And I think because he and I are both new to this company, we both see things very differently than my manager who’s been there forever and tends to be very set in her ways on certain issues.

        I also think it would benefit my coworker for us to have this different reporting structure because my manager treats her like the red-headed stepchild of our team, which is awkward as hell. I’m especially disappointed in how that situation is playing out because I just left a company where I was being treated very differently from the other members of my team due to my former manager having favorites, so I know how shitty that feels and it’s not cool to do that to someone new. But I stay out of that situation for the most part because it’s not my place to fight my coworker’s battles.

    5. Quinalla*

      Go for it! Internal public speaking is a fairly low-stakes way to build speaking skills. Prepare and practice thoroughly, expect to be nervous at first (sometimes I even directly address it with the folks I’m speaking with as that can help), but just keep going and you’ll get into the rhythm of your practice pretty well. And especially since it sounds like you’d be speaking about something you are passionate about and knowledgeable as well, you are on your best foot there!

      Definitely watch out for your direct manager, but continue to build connections to these higher level managers too!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Thanks for the encouragement! I think I will ultimately will end up doing it, even if it’s painful, because it’s an opportunity for growth and, like you said, I’m very knowledgeable on the topic and I’ve had really good success with my training guides so far. Plus, it’ll look fantastic on my resume. I just know I’m going to be a nervous wreck beforehand, lol.

        1. OhBehave*

          Do it!
          Definitely practice with video, etc. That will help your anxiety. The more you do it the more at ease you will feel. Knowing the info you are presenting forwards and backwards is half the battle. Think about what the worse thing that could go wrong will be and work through the solutions. Your bosses sound awesome. How nice to have encouragement like this. My guess is that you won’t have evil boss for long.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Okay, okay, lol! You guys are convincing me that I should suck it up and do it. It is a great opportunity, and I thought it was really kind of him to make the suggestion and basically tell me that he thinks I’m a good teacher. I also got some very kind feedback from a higher up the other day after I spent four hours over four days coaching him on his writing. He was very resistant to it, and he even tried to get argumentative with me when I asked him to make reasonable changes to his document (I shut that down quick though), but after the dust settled and other people read what he wrote (with my substantial edits included), he said he really appreciated everything I did for him and he learned a lot for me. I have to admit, that made me very proud.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            And just to clarify – I don’t think my manager’s evil. I think my manager is a control freak who isn’t used to not getting her way (she was basically running the show for more than a decade), and anytime she feels left out of something, she does something passive aggressive to try to gain that control back (hence her treatment of my coworker – she told me she never wanted to hire her in the first place, which…yeah, don’t tell people that).

  11. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    It’s been 19 days since I was let go from my church job. No permanent work yet. I’ve cobbled together some temp work hours but it’s not nearly enough. At first I was not given severance pay, then he got pressured into reconsidering, so gave me the magnificent sum of… two weeks. This is really a lay off; when the bookkeeper got fired she got four months notice and three months severance. And, because it was a different pastor, she was treated like a human being. I was treated like a bag of garbage.

    I’m emotionally devasted. I cry a lot; I’ve called mental health hotlines twice. I had a church job interview yesterday; I got shaky half way through and was crying by the time I got back to my car. I knew what they wanted to hear but I just couldn’t say it. Pretty sure they won’t hire me but even though I’m desperate for work, I don’t think I could work for another church again.

    I can probably pay August’s rent here but I will be forced to leave next month. Lease runs through October but there’s no way. My only option is something very cheap, like being a roommate, but I have to have some kind of employment. No one will rent to someone without even a steady temp job.

    That man burned down my life. I will lose almost all the belongings I have, my home. None of it is of great material value, but these things matter to me. He could have given me a decent severance pay, given me a chance to survive but he simply. doesn’t. care.

        1. Natalie*

          What were the grounds? Depending on the circumstances it might be worth appealing. It’s a bit of paperwork but there really isn’t any risk – if the appeal fails you’re right back where you started, you won’t get in trouble or anything.

          1. Natalie*

            Oh, disregard then based on your other comment! Well that’s a bunch of bullshit in my humble opinion.

    1. B. J. Salinger*

      You could apply for unemployment benefits, maybe? But if you have any rapport with the church community, you could ask them for help as well? No one wants to be on the receiving end of charity, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Good luck!

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I said it before on the last open thread, but it bears repeating – that pastor sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Please try not to give up hope and be strong even though it’s hard right now. And please take the advice to seek help from the church community – I’ve seen those communities come together in amazing ways to help one of their own who’s in need.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Based on the experiences of my friends and family, pastors tend to be the worst kind of bosses. And getting let go from church jobs with no warning and no severance has happened to several people I know. It’s one of the big reasons I left my former religious affiliations behind.

        Thrawn, I’m really sorry this is happening to you. You deserve so much better.

        Is there a temp agency near you that could help you get some work as a stop-gap measure?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Oh, that may be a good idea if you have the space (and can clear it with your building management).

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        Support staff, yes. But he’s clever. He denied me OT, set me up to fail, then complained to the elders. And now he’s using volunteers only in the office. It’s chaos. But he’s saving money.

        1. Just Here For This*

          Can you have a meeting with a legal aid attorney about the best way to approach this? Making an employee homeless is a really bad optic for a church, and would not be great if it got around your parish. I don’t mean threaten them, just know the employment laws re: churches where you are and then contact them and ask them for a meeting about the manner in which you were laid off.

          I am an admin too, I know what it is like to be sucker punched after 15 years of loyalty. Perhaps some managers here can give you pointers for setting up a meeting and negotiating severance as a form of publicity control?

          Also, sign up with every agency in your area, and be up front that you are. If they are legitimate, they should accept that you are right to do everything you can to find employment and will not expect you to be “loyal” to one headhunter.

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’m so sorry! I worked community-based nonprofits for awhile, and leaving them is *so* hard emotionally.They encourage you to become personally emotionally invested in your work as a way of getting you to stick around because you’re attached to the community members. Then when you leave, it’s almost like you’ve lost a family member. It’s a really tough transition.

      You’re not alone in having a hard time transitioning from this type of job. It’s normal. Take some time to yourself and some time to work on moving forward. You can do it!

    4. dealing with dragons*

      do you have access to a computer? I know there are some online types of jobs where you transcribe documents, etc. they don’t pay a lot but it’s better than no pay.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        National Capitol Contracting is a reputable one. The application process may not be fast enough to save the lease, but it’s worth a shot.

    5. Pippa*

      Also sign up for every religious coalition service in your area – food bank, cash assistance, rent assistance, whatever is available. Ask for job networking. Be open about being laidoff with only 2 weeks severance. His behavior is shameful. Your need is not. Don’t cover for him. Ask the County what services you qualify for since you don’t get unemployment. You may be surprised to find you qualify for benefits you did not know about. Finally, if your church is part of a denomination (rather than an independent congregation), write a letter asking for a severance package similar to your former coworker’s package and copy all the offices from the district, regional to national. Since you are rightfully feeling emotional, have someone you trust read the letter first or have a legal aid attorney give her opinion on the letter content (and idea) before you send it.
      Also, his behavior is an Offense to God and your Faithful service to God. I know that isn’t discussed here usually but in the context of your work for a church you may have also been hurt in your faith and if so I am sorry for that. I wish many blessing for you both to meet the immediate pressing needs and for future peace.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree about an offense to God. I did a Crown course and it talks about how the bible says to treat employees. This is so NOT how to treat employees. I am glad Pippa opened this part of the conversation, OP, because it’s an important part in your particular setting.

        Consider what you have written here as practice for what you need to say in your letter that you could send to so many different places. Be sure to put a “cc” at the bottom and list off all. the. different places you are sending the letter to.

      2. Lepidoptera*

        “Also, his behavior is an Offense to God and your Faithful service to God.”
        Since it is a religious organization you may be able to get away with bringing that up in the letter somehow.
        Pretty sure Jesus frowned upon people who deliberately made people homeless, etc.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff*

          Pretty sure he once whipped a bunch of bankers out of his church. He would not appreciate this kind of behaviour from “his” people.

        2. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

          Yes, I think He did too. It’s definitely an offense against God, and yes, I have been spiritually harmed too.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            No doubt in my mind that your have been scarred at the spiritual level on this one. I think you know that churches are a human-made thing. And churches may or may not (as in this case) represent what God is all about.

            Psalm 147:3

        3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Might not be quite the right scenario for you but you might find some support and ideas from the exvangelical community? Look on twitter and Facebook.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Great advice, Pippa. Please try these things, Grand Admiral. I’d hate for you to end up homeless over this douchenozzle.

    6. Scout Finch*

      So sorry you are going through this. In the past, when I needed fast cash, I delivered pizza. Got cash every night. It helped pull me out of some bad debt. There is no shame in fast food or waitressing work. I know many people who work in an office in the day & pick up 4-5 hours a night at a restaurant. So maybe you could start now & shift your schedule once you get office work. I don’t know what the job market is like in Tally right now, but places in Memphis are looking for solid workers and will work with reliable people on schedules.

      Are you on a contract with your cell phone? If not, you may want to consider going to Consumer Cellular (you can keep your number – as low as $25 +tax for unlimited talk & text, plus a little bit of data) or a pay-as-you-go phone like Boost. Or maybe a friend or family member can add you on their plan (usually for about $10-20 a month).

    7. Gumby*

      I’m so sorry this has happened to you. My father taught at a church-affiliated school and was laid off in a similarly abrupt and weird way and he never worked at another church-affiliated school again. It’s devastating all around.

      My church maintains a “Needy Family Fund” which is used to help out members and others who stop by the church asking for help. So please do not hesitate to ask for help! From the church and any/all other organizations in your area. I know asking for help can be difficult. But do you like to help others? Then allow them the chance to serve you as well. (It’s a really hard mental block for some people, me included. I am much more comfortable doing the helping.)

      I second the whole get a roommate thing if you can. Or consider alternative sources of housing. I had friends who got room in exchange for services (one stayed with an elderly lady and took her to doctor appointments; one was a live in part-time nanny) – clear expectations are a must, but those situations can work out. Consider branching out in your job search. You’ve done admin work – what about being a personal assistant? I mention it only because some of those jobs are live-in here, but I am also in an area with a larger than normal population of very well-to-do families. Do you have friends with a spare room? Can you stay there for a month or two?

    8. Lilysparrow*

      My husband & I have worked for non-profits, and this is one of the “hidden” costs of making a nonprofit career based on your live for the cause.

      The organization pays just barely enough to live on, so you have no ability to save for emergencies. Then they put you into an emergency.

      If they aren’t paying you enough to save up 3-6 months emergency expenses in a reasonable timeframe, then they just aren’t paying enough.

    9. Princesa Zelda*

      It’s not a lot of money, but I was talking to my Lyft driver a few days ago and she told me that Lyft pays same-day. I don’t know how long it takes to get set up, but “gig” type jobs like Lyft or Postmates or charging up those electric scooters might help a little. And as a passenger, I’ve met some people that have given me good advice or told me about a service that I didn’t know about; you might find the same thing, with luck.

      You might also be able to get a seasonal fast-food or retail job. It’s a bit late for the summer season, but Halloween stores are about to start hiring and if you live near a college, places around it’ll be hiring in anticipation of the beginning of fall semester.

      I wish you the best of luck, and I’m sending positive vibes in your direction.

      1. Anono-me*

        FYI-Electric scooter charging has some risks. Your electrical system has to be able to handle the load and if not it can cause a fire. (Homeowners insurance doesn’t always cover work from home/side gig stuff.)

      2. Princesa Zelda*

        Also, I nearly forgot — the Census Bureau is hiring too! If that’s something you’re even vaguely interested in, it’s might be worth considering. I think they’re about to start address canvassing? They came round my library a couple months ago to advertise and the census will be ongoing until mid-to-late 2020.

      3. Chaordic One*

        I have a coworker who moonlights as a Lyft driver and who was trying to talk me into doing it, too. His two days that he makes a point of working are Friday and Saturday nights and picks up a lot of people who have been out partying and drinking and who are afraid to drive.

    10. Anono-me*

      If you are near university or other research center, you may want to check to see if you can be a paid participant in any type of medical or other studies. Obviously you will want to exersise caution if it involves taking a new medication, but many of the tests do not. ( A friend participated in a study that involved eating a special diet for three months and having her blood drawn every few days. There was a stipend and fairly normal food was provided.)

      Please also consider checking with companies that provide services to people with developmental disabilities. It can be a very challenging career on a variety of levels, and often is underpaid; but this means that the hiring process is usually quick, (background checks and drug testing are usually the slowest part). You can also often negotiate all sorts of non financial perks, schedule, using the wifi, etc. (I know one who negotiated to do her laundry at the group home. I also know a person who works overnights. Her kids come with her. They all sleep onsite in the staff bedroom. )

      An odd position that you might be well suited for and not previously considered is that of sorority house mother. (Many sororities do not want alumni.) It is has onsite housing and meals, in addition to pay. All your time managing the congregation probably means you have developed a skillset that would transfer well.

      Good luck.

  12. Anonymous for reasons*

    Sorry, this is a little long.

    I have been burning out hard at work for the past few months. My office has had substantial staff turnover and I’ve been covering my job, 100% of the duties of a vacant direct report, and about 50% of the duties of a vacant peer. And on top of all of that we were not able to get temporary clerical staff with our secretary out on long term leave so I haven’t been able to get help with things as basic as scheduling interviews and printing/collating huge information packets. I’ve repeatedly informed various levels of management that this was absolutely unsustainable, I was working 20+ hours over my schedule (I’m salaried), and I still couldn’t get everything done. They were repeatedly dismissive and just kept telling me what a great employee I am and how I always get everything done and my work is great.

    Well, I broke this week. I do finally have some new staff, which will be helpful long term but in the short term means I’ve added training people on top of my 2.5 jobs. I had a panic attack at home in the evening worrying myself literally sick about how I could possibly get things done on time.

    I was desperate and knew I needed to take a day off. I texted my boss (who I have worked with for a decade and get a long with really well, even if I’ve been frustrated by the lack of meaningful support lately). I was WAY more honest than I would have been if I hadn’t been mid-panic attack. The worst of it being that I felt so stressed out I was having suicidal thoughts. To her credit she handled it really calmly and did not make it into a huge thing. She made sure I was ok and asked how she could help with the work stress.

    The thing is, she didn’t really help with the work stress. When I met with her back in the office she ask me to go over what were the biggest things that were stressing me out, which I thought would result in her getting me some more resources (like clerical help) or taking something off my plate. I gave her a list of the things I could barely keep up on. But then she just went back to telling me I just shouldn’t worry about it because I always get my work done and it’s good.

    I’m at a loss. I don’t know how to make her see that the only way I’ve been getting good work done on time for the last few months has been by working ridiculous hours that are unsustainable and costly to my mental health. I also don’t really know what to do in the aftermath of my oversharing and the embarrassment I feel now for saying what I said. Thoughts? Ideas? Help?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The only way to make someone understand that you cannot continue to perform at an unsustainable level is to let some things fall through the cracks. Stop killing yourself to get it all done.

        1. L Dub*

          Totally agree about letting some stuff drop, just document document document the number of conversations you’ve had asking for help, with whom, etc. And document in writing to your boss what you’re moving forward with as your priorities.

          Good luck!

          1. Colette*

            Definitely – present your plan for what you’re going to do (and not do) to the boss, and then do that.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Second this. She doesn’t see the problem because you haven’t let it be a problem for her yet.

      2. Interplanet Janet*

        100% this. Actions speak louder than words.

        “Could you give me priorities on these tasks, please? I have to stop working such long hours for my mental health, so I’m not likely to be able to get them all done, and I need to know what you’d like me to work on first.
        If you don’t prioritize them for me, I can guess, but I think it would be better if I have your input.”

        Then what doesn’t get done doesn’t get done, and you have given your manager fair warning and a chance to mitigate the damages with prioritization.

      3. zora*

        Correct. As someone who was in the same situatoin, this is the only thing that worked. (And by worked, I mean, they still didn’t really get it, and the organizatoin suffered in the long run, but at least I wasn’t in the hospital/mental hospital)

        It was SOOOO hard to actually do this, so I sympathize! As a high-achiever, it was so counter to who I am to just watch something fail, or watch a deadline pass without fixing it. But it got easier with practice. I had to be very intentional with myself, and do so many coping mechanisms:
        – set a timer for 6:00pm, at which point I would literally stop whatever I was doing and walk out the door.
        – Continually repeat to myself: “I will do what I can in 9 hours, and that is all.”
        – Make myself a to-do list for the day and decide on my own priorities, since my bosses refused to, but I would choose about 4-5 things per day. And that was all I could do.
        – Set timers for breaks, to stop and eat, to just stop and go to the bathroom even!
        – LOTS of intentional disconnecting when I got home. I took email off my phone, put texts on silent, I would redirect my brain if I started thinking about work “No, it’s not time to think about work, I am going to read a book/turn on music/put on a movie”
        – And when you know something is about to fail, or a deadline is about to pass, you have to just allow that feeling of panic, breathe through it, repeat ‘This is not my problem” and go back to something that is on your short to do list for the day. It is HARD, but you can do it!!

        Hopefully, once a couple of major things actually DON’T HAPPEN, your management will wake up and realize they have to prioritize hiring someone, OR, ramp way down on their expectations for what will happen.

        But even if they don’t, you HAVE to take care of yourself first!! No one else will take care of you and your health, you have to do it, or you will end up in the hospital or mental institution. Remind yourself of that when you feel guilty or second guess yourself.

      4. whatthemell?*

        Just came to agree with this.

        OP start working “regular” hours and ask what they need you to make sure is completed within those regular hours. STOP doing crazy long hours and crazy amounts of work. Let them feel the results of the lack of appropriate staff members.

        Good luck and please try to cut back on overextending yourself, because your superiors are not going to change anything until they feel it.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      You need to meet with her again. Take an hour and make a list of tasks, prioritize. But this time, make a column of things that CANNOT BE DONE. Tell your boss that you can do X, Y, and Z. You can not do A, B or C. And then listen. Let her explain how it will get done. And say no, you can’t do that. Then listen some more. But don’t leave with a pat on the back and “you’re doing great!” It sucks, but you have to.

      1. zora*

        She has told her and she’s not getting it. I think the time for a talk has passed and agree with others that OP needs to just NOT do some things.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff*

          I mostly agree. The boss has been informed about the situation and that it’s unsustainable, so the only way to make them listen is probably to make them feel the consequences.

          However, I would also reccommend to do what Hey Karma said. For one, it will help the OP get CYA material if they can point to a meeting where they specifically said that A, B and C unless her workload was drastically reduced or she got more support. It makes sure that management can’t just retreat back into claiming ignorance.
          And spelling out the consequences like that might actually get through to the boss, which would save the OP a lot of headaches.

        2. Perpal*

          Yes but it can be helpful to let boss know “I cannot do x y and z” ahead of time. If asked why not, say “becuase I am prioritizing A, B and C”. etc etc, broken record, say only what you can do, if they try to add something else then say what will be dropped in its stead.

    3. Chrome*

      Is it an option to refuse work? Can you approach your boss again and say, “Due to my health issues, I can’t continue covering x and x positions the way I have. Here’s a list of tasks that will need to be delegated to someone else.”
      Or, maybe have the conversation about the lack of support. “I hoped our conversation the other day would result in some sort of change, but I don’t feel anything productive was decided on. I can’t continue doing this, it’s unreasonable to ask me to cover 2.5 jobs. I need something to change, whether that means delegating tasks back to someone else or getting a clerical assistant. What do you think?”
      Or, if you’re uncomfortable being this straightforward with your boss…how about just dropping the ball on a few tasks that are unrelated to your real position?

    4. Laika*

      Ahh, I’m sorry – this is tough! I’ve definitely had the experience of over-sharing with a boss while in the grips of anxiety, so I know how decidedly un-fun it feels afterwards, but it does sound like she handled it gracefully.

      As for your list of projects, I wonder if your boss looked at it and thought, “I’m not sure why Anonymous is stressing, they’re getting all this stuff done!” but doesn’t understand that the work going into it is unsustainable for you. If you think she’s open to a follow-up conversation, you might want to present a short-list drawn up from the others and state more explicitly, “When you asked about my stress levels, I hoped that we would address these things. But I haven’t felt like my workload has changed since then. I can’t keep working at the same pace, so which of these projects should I prioritize? I can only realistically handle [six out of ten] of them going forward.”

      If your job performance will suffer (and more importantly, your mental health!) to continue working at the same pace, you’re doing yourself and your boss a favour by laying it out honestly, imo.

    5. Frustrated In DC*

      First of all, panic attacks are terrifying and I am so sorry that you had such a severe one.

      Secondly, how did you have the conversation with your boss? Did you go to them with your list and say “Here’s what is stressing me out.” and then wait for them to fix it for you?
      OR
      Was the conversation “Boss, here is the list of items that are causing me the most stress. I know that the work is getting done, but here is how many hours it takes me to do each task. [show them tasks broken down by amount of hours it takes for you to accomplish] It would really take a lot of pressure off of me if we could hire someone part-time who could do xx work for this project/that assignment, maybe someone 10 hours a week? I can’t continue to work these kinds of hours – it’s not sustainable anymore. Can we begin looking at hiring the first week of August?”

    6. Bionerd*

      You need to let some stuff go undone so it becomes your bosses problem. Right now she doesn’t have a problem because you are doing it all (at too much personal cost). Search this site, I’m pretty sure Alison has given advise for this situation before.

      Good luck! And take care of yourself.

      1. Anne (with an "e")*

        +100 Let things go. Go back to working a 40 hour week. Seriously, only work 40 hours. If things don’t get done, explain that there is just no way you can physically do all the work. Explain to your boss than you cannot and will not continue to put in the extra hours that you have been doing previously. You have reached your breaking point and can no longer sustain that workload. Tell your boss, “You want me to do tasks A, B, C, D, E, F, X, Y, & Z in a given week. I can only do three of those things, but not all of them? Which three tasks would you like me to complete?” Then, only do those three tasks.

        Best Wishes. I hope that at some point we hear back from you and it is a positive update.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. Yep. I had to do this at one job. What a time suck that job was. I had to draw a hard line.

          The boss won’t see a problem until there’s a problem. So let that problem happen, OP.

          There is psychology in groups where the group can let one person carry all the upset while they go on having a great day. It seems that you are carrying the upset for your boss. As long as she has you, she has no need to worry, she has told you this point blank a few times now. The problem is that you do not have “another you” working for you.

          Go in and announce that you MUST limit yourself to the 40 hours you are paid, it’s not a choice as you must limit your hours for a couple reasons. (You don’t have to say the reasons.) You may or may not mention what is getting done or not done. Friday at the appropriate time announce to her, “Okay that is it for me this week. I will see you Monday, have a good evening.” And leave. Refuse to worry about it. As one person they have you working way over the capacity of what one person can do and they know it. Technically speaking that is their problem NOT yours.

          The one thing I have done in a situation like this is to train the new people on the tasks I am not getting to do. OR I pass on the tasks that are easy to do, quick to train on, yet time consuming. And I have also told them that they have to help train each other- this pulled some questions off of me as they could ask each other.
          Another thing I have done is I chose to do the task that benefits ME in MY WORK. In the training example, it benefited me for Jane to learn how to do time consuming X. So guess what got done? Jane got trained on X.

    7. A tester, not a developer*

      There’s an expression that gets used a lot in relationship discussions that I think applies here: Stop setting yourself on fire to keep others warm.

      Pick a thing you’re going to focus on this week – maybe training the new hires. Do it all within regular hours – no more overtime. Let your boss know this will be happening, and that some other things are going to drop because if it. If the response is ‘figure out a way to do it all’, then it’s seriously time to start looking for other work.

      1. Anita Brayke*

        That’s my theme song: Stop setting yourself on fire to keep others warm. I learned this week that I can’t keep all the balls in the air, after I took a sick day (GASP!!!! So very frowned upon here!!!!) on Tuesday this week. I learned that my mental health is FAR more important than a job. If I get fired, then I’ll find another job. I work hard, I work well, I work smart. I’m great at what I do. I take criticism well and work from there to improve. It may sound goofy, but say stuff like this over and over in your head. You’ll start to believe it, and you’ll be right!

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      Yeah…that was very not helpful of her.
      As the others have suggested, time to drop a few items. If you don’t want to go through the face to face again, send boss a list and say that you need to get back to a less stressful place at work so will be prioritizing things in this order and A, B, and C are what you see as your priorities so are going to focus on those. If you have time, you will start with D and head down the alphabet. Chances of getting to items X, Y, & Z are basically zero so those needs to be offloaded.
      End with a “let me know if you would like the items shifted in order of their priority but I simply cannot get to all of it nor will I allow myself to get back into the place I was earlier this week”

      1. Karo*

        Yeah – Alison has given similar advice a lot with language like “In a given week, I can handle tasks A, B and C but not X, Y or Z. Let me know if these priorities need to shift.” And then stick to it! I’m sorry you’re going through all this OP!

      2. Clisby*

        Yes. The answer is not to just let things drop without explanation. It’s to explain that in a week you can do X amount of work, and here’s how you see the priorities. If the boss sees the priorities differently, fine – but you can still do only X amount of work.

    9. Aquawoman*

      Good suggestions here. Another thought–can you identify people to whom some of this work can be delegated. How many people are in your position and are they doing the same amount as you? Is there someone junior who can be tasked with handling some of the admin functions? I’m appalled that your manager heard that you are having suicidal thoughts and decided it wasn’t a problem (!!!!) but maybe if you could identify specific actions, that might get more traction. Or, if there is stuff that is not-critical, suggest it be let go until you’re better staffed.

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’d recommend going back to your boss and saying something like “When I’ve expressed my concerns about how difficult it is to keep up with my workload, you’ve responded that it’s fine and that I always get everything done. But the reason I always get everything done is because I’m working too hard and doing too many things. As I mentioned earlier, it’s taking a serious toll on my health and I’m not able to keep working at that level. I need to remove (x number of things) from my list of responsibilities so that I can focus on regaining my health. That being the case, I will need you to reassign some of these tasks to other staff members, or determine which tasks can go undone for a while until we’re fully staffed and trained.”

      And then let her figure it out. You’ve tried to tell her multiple times, and now she needs to listen. You’ve been keeping everything afloat, and the very least your company owes you is a chance to regain some of the health and strength you’ve lost while you were saving everybody’s backsides.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes! Please add this to your next meeting with your manager! The point about “don’t stress, you always get it done” is ridiculous, she wasn’t hearing you at all.

        Tell her explicitly you only manage to get it done at the very obvious expense of your health and well-being and it is NOT sustainable. I hope you get through to her.

    11. Mr. Shark*

      You mention some clerical work that needs to be done, hopefully simple stuff. Is that something you can hand off to the new hires that need to be trained? If it’s something that you can take 10 minutes to explain, and then let them do it, that may take some of the load off your plate with minimal stress on your part.

      The other thing is I agree with the ideas mentioned above…if you have to let things drop, let them. You can’t take on all the stress yourself. If you don’t feel like you can have a one-on-one because of stress, maybe write up a quick e-mail and just list what you are going to focus on, and indicate you don’t have time for the other options and she (your boss) needs to find someone else to do those items if they need to get done.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I hate to say this because I know you say that you and your boss have worked well together over the last decade. But in the end, your boss doesn’t care about you, she just cares that the ship that’s clearly sinking keeps the few deckhands she has bailing the thing out.

      She’s okay with you going down with the ship, she wants to provide you as much limited “support” as possible, without straight up telling you to “suck it up” and “deal with it” because all that she cares about is her own job, her own skin and the company not going out of business in the end. It’s sick and selfish but it’s the way that this kind of tire-fire situation works out.

      I’ve been there. I’ve been you. I had a boss that straight up to my face told me that I was valuable, amazing and perfect and they wanted me to stick it out with them and that things would get better, yadda yadda. Until I pushed back and dropped the bricks I had piled up on my back. [Which is what I encourage you to do because you deserve to live and survive this nonsense, you will be okay and there is other options out there for you, this place stinks and it’s awful] Once I dropped the bricks and just said “I can’t and I won’t anymore”, I was threatened with termination. Good, that was what fired my desire to really just be gone. I was given a new job within 2 weeks of looking and out within 4 weeks of that “threat.” And I bounced back. I got through it and you can to. It will be okay.

      You cannot change a person. You cannot expect them to think of you as number one, you have to think of yourself first and foremost in the end. Let this ship sink and jump onto a life raft headed towards shore.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        BTW you say that someone is on leave for an extended period of time, eh? So this is a big enough business that it’s under FMLA? Can you afford to take leave? If you can, your mental health breakdown is covered under that kind of thing, you can check yourself in somewhere and they can f’ing deal with it. If that’s an option of course, I know it’s not always a thing for people.

        1. Windchime*

          This is what I ultimately had to do when I was going through something similar. I was also having suicidal thoughts, many times a day. I cried all the time and my anxiety was unbearable. I went to my doctor and she was alarmed; she had a relative come and remove all medications (that could be used to self-harm) from my home and put me on a 2-month FMLA. It took two months of rest, therapy, and doctor visits to make it so I wasn’t constantly having dark, scary thoughts. I did have to go back at the end of the two months, but I didn’t stay more than a few weeks because I was interviewing with what is now my current employer.

          This is serious business, OP. When a job is literally driving you to think about ending it all, it’s time for a meaningful change. Please take care of yourself and don’t let this job ruin what’s left of your health (mental and physical).

    13. TechWorker*

      I’ve been there with literally telling my manager I cannot cope and on the verge of breakdown and being told ‘don’t worry you’re doing ok’. Totally agree with other commenters that you should explicitly let things drop. And make this clear to your manager. ‘I don’t have the time to deal with x problem, so it won’t be dealt with’. What actually helped most for me was getting the perspective of a manager from another part of the company – and also raising it up.

      I explicitly told my manager multiple times the workload was not sustainable and the stress levels were affecting my health.. then I went a level up and I got another two team members literally the week after. I can’t promise this will always happen obviously but do consider the view that your manager is unreasonably laid back and you need to mitigate for that.

    14. OhBehave*

      Alison has addressed this issue before. I believe her solution is to make a list of the tasks you are currently doing. Prioritize them yourself. Meet with boss and tell her you can no longer work so much overtime. “I appreciate you commenting that I’m doing a good job in getting everything done. But working so much overtime is impacting my health in a negative way. I’ve made a list of the tasks I am currently doing and prioritized them. Do you agree with my prioritization?”
      This touches on the oversharing. I think this is the only time you need to address this.
      I totally understand the panic you feel as you worry about getting everything done. You are very conscientious.
      Keep us updated and good luck.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I am burning out too, and I am trying a version of this. I burnt out once before.
        However, note that I am actually on here on a Friday night and I’m not working still. (First Friday night I’m not working in a month).
        History: I actually have a manager, but… get tasks directly from grand boss, great grand boss, and now, great great uncle-boss. Directly. Manager has basically checked out. She knows I’m overloaded, but has no power.
        I am an overachiever, but…here are some of my coping skills I’ve been trying this week as well as the ones that I have already implemented or did last time. (I’ve added more, including Alison’s scripts)
        1) someone asks me to do x, I say “I am doing & and Z urgently. I can’t get to your item until next Thursday ( truth). If you need it before then, you will have to work with (grand boss) to see what can be taken off my plate so that I can help you.” This worked for one item today. Great-grand boss updated his own ppt deck.

        2) The list (I’ve been working with Grandboss, as she needs to run interference with the great-grands). I did figure out the top 3 things I knew I must work on, and about how much time they take (this is at least 35 hours/week). Anything new that comes in, I ask Grandboss if it can be delegated, and explain that I can’t get to it without removing one of the top 3. (I have no reports, but I look around at someone, anyone, who has the capability to do it, and request g-boss , cc to boss, to get the new item delegated.) I am waiting to hear the response on the latest, but I made a compelling case.

        3) letting the ball drop. By their choice, leadership removed super competent helpful person that had been assigned about 1/3 of my projects (and took on extra of mine when possible), and replaced them with person who is not competent (who is suppose to keep these projects going). I am not taking those items back. Does not matter if things crash and burn. Those are their tasks, not mine. I had this realization today, when not-competent took her second vacation day in 2 weeks last minute, while big-important-project is crashing. I stepped aside and let the boulder roll down the hill past me. (I’m on here instead. I did forward the boulder-crashing email to grand-boss for line of sight and said “Status update.”)

        4a) Saying no. There are people that come to me, that I used to help. Cross-functional project meetings I used to attend, and lots of helpful thought leadership/ brainstorming sessions/ insight participation, that I used to give. I stopped. I’m not unhelpful, I simply say “I’m sorry, right now I do not have time like I did. I “might” suggest alternate person, but “no, I’m sorry, you need to find someone else” is generally an appropriate answer. Put on my oxygen mask first.
        4b) I allow the next highest level person to own the responsibility of the meeting/ task. I say “P, you are doing a great job. You are in charge of representing us at this project meeting. You have shown great instincts and wisdom in all the interactions in the past. I trust you. If you want to skype me on the side if you need help to reinforce something, let me know, but otherwise, you have got this pat.” And I give credit g-boss for her good work and make sure everyone knows she is representing “our team.” (I just sent this email – we do weekly kudo emails across the bigger group).

        5) Redirects. Some of the folks that come to me could or should be helped by someone else or find their answer elsewhere. I am taking a moment here and there, to redirect them. Consistently. “I believe the best person to help you is and she has solid, helpful documentation . If it does not meet your needs, she will update it so that everyone’s questions can be answered. I’ve copied her on this email so she can take this forward.” (and I drop it). If I truly can delegate it (with minor degradation in quality) – let it go. And sometimes (a lot of the time) they are not willing to stretch and think. I no longer help them there.
        Let’s be fair. I do “not” need to do it. I need to let others learn how to fish for themselves, and I need to let others have the joy of becoming the expert, or being helpful.

        6) I did – to get out of the deep detail of a previous job – do an entire set of training power points on the “Basics of as we have implemented it” This deck set – I asked for and got permission to have a BA do for me. I did a brain dump, and she built it. I gave “brown bag” lunches for our team meetings, and did 20 minutes at a time, to force (with leadership credit LOL) everyone to learn the basics of what I knew. Did they retain? I don’t know. But forever more, if there was a question, I sent them to that wiki – and I got the BA who built them promoted to support said software, so that she could answer the questions and upkeep it. It took a little time, but eventually, I was able to move out of that job and up to my current one…because they didn’t “have” to come to me for the answers all the time.

        It’s hard when I have high expectations of myself and others. But… I need to not burn out again. And, maybe some of these can help you.

    15. Anonymous for reasons*

      Thank you all. I really appreciate the responses. I feel like I’ve been a little gaslit and lost touch with what was reasonable. I’m definitely going to meet with my boss again with a list of things I can and cannot do and let her tell me if she wants me to rank them differently, but hold firm that there is a maximum number and it about half of the work I’ve been doing the last few months.

    16. Not your Dad's Recruiter*

      Ah, this is not going to be helpful, but I had a gem of a similar situation.
      My boss, knowing how much is on my plate, told me to forewarn him if I feel things are about to get out of control.
      So when a new task came up, I did just that. His reaction: “Are you about to fail one of your tasks?” “No.” “Then why are you telling me you have too much to do?” “Because one more thing added to my list will make me fail, and you had asked me to forewarn you.” “Are you failing now?” “No.” “Then why….” etc.
      Then, when this one thing was added, and I could not finish everything on time, his solution was for me to: 1. In the morning give him a list of things I will be working this day. 2. In the evening tell him what I had done.
      Thanks, boss, this really helped!

  13. SaffyTaffy*

    In a few wweks I will have direct supervision in my job for the first time since 2017. I am very excited for everything from the added structure of having a manager to their ability to make high-level decisions and hire more staff. I really am happy. I’m also nervous that they won’t like me (possible), or that they’ll like me but eliminate my position (irrational), or that I won’t be able to re-learn how to “behave myself” with a manager close by (undetermined).

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I was in your same situation about 4 months ago when I got a new manager. Turns out, she’s actively invested in managing, which is new to me. I haven’t had an engaged manager in years. Some things will take adjusting to (she likes more notice and structure about things I prefer to keep flexible) and other things are welcome changes (monthly 1 to 1’s), but I’ve been able to have some good conversations with her and present myself as highly reliable and capable.

      What helped me was to create a list of questions for our introductory meeting that addressed topics I knew are somewhat at manager discretion (for us that’s typical working hours, work from home options, communications about PTO). Some of them were answered before I asked, but I was glad to have reminders of other stuff I wanted to know, and time to think about how I wanted to approach topics that are important to me but might cause friction if she has different policies than what I’m used to. The rest I kind of picked up on during various interactions either directly with her or when she has monthly all-staff meetings.

      Hope it’s a positive experience!

    2. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I would make sure to create a list of things you want to talk with them about when you first meet them, which could include a million things, but I would make sure it includes something like “I’ve been without a real manager for years, so I’ve learned to function in this role really autonomously. I’m really excited about your coming on, and the additional capacity and structure that will bring, but I’m hoping that we can ease into it a bit, so we can find the right mix of collaboration and independence?” And make sure to communicate openly, ask for lots of feedback, and give lots of feedback; setting your relationship off on the right foot to help you both be honest with each other about what you need. Good luck! :)

  14. Blahblahblah*

    I leave work every day feeling like I’ve burnt out and worried that even a change in jobs might be hopeless. Anyone recover from burn out? Can someone out there in the void tell me that it’s temporary and I won’t feel like my stressful job has ruined me forever? What’s your story?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Ooh if people start talking about vacations, there’s a thread upstream to watch as well about the specifics of the type of vacation that might help.

      But also, is there any opportunity to change your role up within your current job? Job searching can be s0 long and frustrating that it rarely feels like a cure short-term.

    2. Kat*

      I have. Step one should be actually using some vacation time (like at least a week). Step two was changing jobs. When you’re in a bad job, every job sounds horrible. I think it’s the opposite of most situations, where when it’s bad everything else sounds better.

    3. wondHRland*

      Only thing I’ve ever found that helped burnout was to either take on something new (i.e. learn something), or change jobs because you’re not learning new things.
      For me, burnout usually means i’m bored and just DONE.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My burnout coincided with major life events. I handled it by taking control of my diet, hydration, rest and limiting the amount of negative media I looked at. I put myself on a formal schedule so I went to bed on time each night and I ate proper meals daily. It took a bit, but I got my mind back.

      A chunk of my problem was I took on too much at work. Just because you can do something does not mean you have to do it. Watch out for the numbers of times you volunteer to do one more thing. Watch out for times where the boss seems to be asking you to do something, as opposed to instructing you to do it. Get comfy with the NO word.
      Delegate as often as possible. It was so easy for me to keep helping a person who asked for help. Answer the question that is asked and let them come back if they have further difficulty. Be more willing to let others around you go through their own learning curve themselves.

      If you are not already do it, leave on time. It’s a simple thing that is bfd. We have to know that our workdays will come to an end. We cannot have perpetual workdays.

      Yes, you can get out of that job. Yes, you can come home from a job and NOT be dog-tired and unable to function. This is possible.

  15. Newbie manager*

    I have been a manager for about a year and a half now. I switched to a different company to get this job. This is my first time in a management  role or having reports. Every summer we have interns. We offer the best ones who are going into their last year of college a job once they have graduated. Last summer I had a great intern and I made a case for her to be offered a job. My boss reviewed my case and accepted. She graduated and started her job here a couple of months ago. She just called out sick for a week and a half in the hospital. We don’t penalize people for calling in sick here. However there were concerns about it for her because she returned with a tan and HR found photos of her on social media showing she was on vacation. They asked her for a doctor’s note because of the concerns as we don’t normally ask for one. She brought one in but it turned out to be a forgery. She admitted after being confronted about the note that she had lied about having a seriously illness and being in the hospital. She was really on a cruise and she lied about being sick since she didn’t have any vacation time accrued yet. She was fired. My question is, since I recommended her for a job after her internship do I need to apologize or say anything to my boss. I feel embarrassed over this because my recommendation got her the job. I haven’t been a manager for very long and she was my first hire as an intern. I didn’t think she would do something like this. What should I do if anything? I feel so nervous about this even though my boss or anyone else hasn’t said anything.

    1. Zephy*

      You had no way of knowing that she would pull a stunt like that. It’s not your fault, her behavior and poor judgment is not your problem. Now, if she’d been a personal friend of yours and you knew she’d pulled similar scams in the past, then there’d be a reason to scrutinize your judgment in hiring her. But presumably she didn’t do this during her internship, and while internships are for learning how2officejob, you wouldn’t have had a reason to specifically tell her that faking sick to take a vacation and then failing spectacularly to hide the lie is Not Done.

    2. Bortus*

      ouch. I dont think you need to make an issue of it. I would err on the side of not saying anything…

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I think you can have a conversation, just bring it up in terms of this year’s group of interns. You can say whether you think there are any outstanding interns this year and you can add that the actions of this young woman make you wonder about your judgement. But honestly, she was a great intern, she was a great candidate, she was a good employee. Then she made a stupid choice. Just as it shouldn’t destroy her future, it shouldn’t destroy yours either.
      People do dumb things. Forgive yourself and move on.

    4. B. J. Salinger*

      You couldn’t have possibly foreseen such unethical behavior. She was a good intern and did, presumably, good work so you made the case for her. I certainly understand the sense of duty you feel to your boss/company for recommending someone you thought you help advance the business, but it didn’t pan out. I don’t think you need to have a conversation to apologize, but if you so feel like you need to, you could ask for chat to discuss what could have been done differently to prevent something like this in the future. It seems to me, reading between the lines, that the vacation policy may not be too forgiving because after having worked for a ‘couple months,’ you’d think she’d have some time accrued.

      1. Another Sarah*

        No way someone would accrue a week and a half of vacation time after 2 months. You are being unfair to the OP.

          1. Psyche*

            Someone who lies about being hospitalized for a week and a half is not going to be happy with a day or two.

            1. B. J. Salinger*

              Of course. It’s been my experience that some employers will give you the allotted time for that year in good faith that you will also finish out the year with them or they deduct it from your last paycheck. I realize that not every company is like this, but we don’t know any specifics here so this is all speculative.

              1. designbot*

                I’ve only worked for a company who did this once… and they wound up rescinding that privilege because too many took advantage of it.

              2. Fortitude Jones*

                My last company did this – that’s the only thing I liked about their time off policy (no accrual).

          2. Observer*

            But this was not a day or two – it was a week and a half. Even in places with decent vacation policies don’t give you that kind of time in the first few months.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              If she knew she had a previously purchased vacation, she should have talked about that during her hiring negotiations and at least negotiated a time-without-pay. (Which I did starting here all those years ago.)

            2. Kat in VA*

              It depends. My company has 25 PTO days up front, useable from the day you start.

              But they expect to be notified of something like a ten day vacation during the hiring process!

    5. OtterB*

      I think you can say something to your boss along the lines of, “Wow, I’m sorry [former intern] ended up being a problem. There were no signs of any ethical issues when she was an intern.” But after that, I wouldn’t worry about it. It happens and I don’t think it reflects on your judgement.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This. If the intern was on her best behavior during the internship, you couldn’t have known she was going to pull such a dumb stunt. Chalk this up to her immaturity and move on.

      2. Liane*

        I know Alison’s answered similar questions with scripts. They should come up if you site search. And she also reassured those LWs that if they hadn’t seen anything but good behavior during the internship/probation period, there was no way for them to have known.

      3. CheeryO*

        Yes, this. Don’t say anything negative about your judgment skills, and don’t turn it into some big thing. People are weird, and stuff happens. You used the information you had at the time, which is all anyone could expect of you.

      4. Kiki*

        Yes, this wasn’t a family member or a friend where people might be wondering if you didn’t disclose everything you knew about them before you made a recommendation. This person was an intern and presumably they did nothing like this while they were your intern. It’s unfortunate when a recommendation goes awry, but there’s no way you could have known intern would do this.

        It may be worth considering asking soon-to-be-new hires if they have any planned outages/ vacations when you’re at the negotiation step. I don’t know the time breakdown of intern’s decision to go on a cruise, but it’s possible it’s something she booked before she was hired and she panicked and handled it in the worst possible way.

      5. Sunflower*

        Agree- there was also a post on this a year or two ago that should be helpful for you!

      6. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, I wouldn’t make a big deal about it. You didn’t see any issues, and everyone agreed with the hire, and the person made some bad choices and got caught. That’s it. Move on.

      7. BethDH*

        I like this because it shows that you understand and agree that it was a major problem. I don’t think there is any issue that you didn’t foresee this (I don’t see how you could have!), and that would make sure that they know that you don’t resent the outcome or disagree with the ethical issues it involved.

    6. Observer*

      In addition to what the others have said, think about whether there were any red flags that you now see in retrospect. Also, was anyone else involved with her? If so, ask that person if they saw any red flags that they didn’t take seriously?

      It’s highly probable that there really were not any red flags, but it’s always worth thinking about. And, if you let your boss know that you’re doing that, next time you have a check in or when talking about hiring in general, that signals that you are the kind of person who tries to learn from things rather than getting defensive, without taking blame that isn’t yours.

    7. Sunflower*

      I agree that you can step back and see if there were any red flags but it sounds like this intern is just reallllllyyyy naive. Calling out fake sick for a week and a half is so wild- I’ve never heard of anyone pulling something like this.

      Maybe because she’s new to the workforce she thought that calling out sick was the only way to get time off- we see all the time that it’s usually NBD if you have an upcoming vacation and don’t have PTO accrued yet to either borrow the time or take it unpaid. In the future, I would make a point to any new hires upfront what your policy is on that.

      1. Observer*

        I definitely think that most probably there weren’t any red flags. Because even aside from the ethical problems here, this is just a really dumb and bizarre thing to do. You don’t expect that from high performers.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And yet it does happen. I wonder if some people work at a level they know they cannot sustain so they go MIA for a bit. This happened to me, a high performer went MIA. What is worse is that she did not see anything wrong with what she did. I never saw it coming, she was a high performer and very much into being professional at all times. Or so I thought.

          OP, you are a boss not a mind-reader. You had no way to know that sometime in the future your new hire would take illegitimate time off.

          It’s her shame to wear, not yours, OP. It would probably be good to talk to your boss. If you have a decent boss they might tell you their own story of a high-performer going AWOL.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        And not only did she call out sick, she said she was hospitalized! That of all things would make most managers concerned and want to check in or get updates on how you’re doing. She should have claimed a death in the family like other people who try to get over, lol.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      As long as you’re recommending people for hire based on the facts you know [she was an intern, she did show up as an intern, she showed promise and was a good intern, etc], then you are totally clear here.

      I agree that you should dig around in your head and see if there were any flags you may have missed. Did she lie before and now you realize it was a pattern?

      Otherwise it’s seriously not your fault and you could never have foreseen that she’d pull this kind of trick.

      I’ve seen some crazy stunts being pulled by hires and believe me, they’re always blindsiding to everyone involved. Someone who is otherwise a good person and a good employee decides to try something outrageous like this. She made a serious mistake and had a bad judgement call, she may not even be absolutely devious, she’s probably just caught doing something dimwitted and paid the price for it. I have a feeling she won’t try it again and this was a stinging lesson that will stick with her for the rest of her life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Posted to social media though…. posted to social media. It might take a couple times before she gets this one. The disconnect here is huge. Hospitals have tanning salons? ugh….

  16. Dr. Doll*

    What would you all do or recommend in this situation: Terrific, fantastic team. Desperately short-handed. Generally underpaid. Possibly in danger of being split and part taken over by another unit. Two candidates who are good enough — no red flags, no yellow flags, just no jingle bells. For a dating metaphor, think “I’ll learn to love you.”

    Should we hire both, neither, or one of them and search again?

    (And also, talk to the powers that be about getting people appropriately compensated so we don’t lose more!)

    1. fposte*

      Depends on the position, the timing, the possibilities, and the need for pressure relief.

      If you can identify why you got less sparkles than you expected in the pool and can fix it for another round, that raises the value of going for another round. But if you’d just be recasting your same net hopefully, I lean more toward taking what you’ve got.

    2. Colette*

      What does “good enough” mean? Will they do the job well but are lacking soft skills? Will they need more training than you’d hoped? Are their references mediocre? Were there red flags with their interviews (rude to the receptionist, only talk to the men on the interview panel)?

      If you think they would do a solid (but not exceptional) job and treat their coworkers with respect, hire them. You may not be able to hire superstars if you underpay. If you think they’d be rude, bigoted, etc., pass and try again. If you think they’d do a poor job, pass and try again.

      1. Liane*

        “Were there red flags with their interviews (rude to the receptionist, only talk to the men on the interview panel)?”
        Dr. Doll wrote, “no red flags, no yellow flags, just no jingle bells.” I think she was including interviews as well as applications/resumes.

        @Dr. Doll: the big questions are whether your budget will allow for 2 hires at competitive pay/benefits and if this level of staffing shortfall is truly long term.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This, and not every job requires sparkles. You don’t always need a unicorn. Sometimes you just need someone who will show up and do the work.

        I wish more employers would realize that.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            And conversely plenty of fantastic people don’t kill it in the interview – hire for general goodness of fit, train for skills.

        1. designbot*

          Plus if you already have some sparkly people, then backfilling with more standard fair may leave room for those sparkly people to manage and shine.

        2. Kat in VA*

          Yep. This emphasis on The Most Amazing, Enthusiastic To A Fault, Roger Ramjet, High Speed/Low Drag, I Give My Life To My Company, Ninja Assassin Presidential Quality Candidates Only™ schlock is exhausting.

          Sometimes good enough really is…good enough.

    3. Bee's Knees*

      We’re having that problem too! Doesn’t help that we have some corporate overlords that are micromanagers. We have the guy I posted about down below (crazy) and another that we’ve interviewed. The other one was… fine. I think our recruiter is sick of us, because the last time the position was open, we went through nine or so interviews before we found one.

    4. CheeryO*

      How hot is your field? If the position doesn’t pay competitively, “good enough” might actually be fantastic. You could wait and try to capture some new candidates in a few months, but you’re still working with the same odds, unless something changes before then.

    5. Aquawoman*

      If people are generally underpaid in your company, I’m not sure you can realistically expect stellar candidates in a strong job market.

      1. Booksalot*

        Exactly this. You’re underpaying in this market, and you still came up with two reasonably competent people who would accept an offer? Snag them both and count your blessings.

    6. Autumnheart*

      Hire them both. It just isn’t realistic to expect a rockstar for every hire, and “merely” being competent and effective should hardly be seen as a detriment.

      Secondly, and I don’t say this to be snarky, but YOUR company is the one with the low pay, the short staffing and the uncertain job stability. Two good candidates took the trouble to go through the process. You need people. Hire them.

  17. BeanCat*

    One of the helium balls has come down; I have a surgery date and can finally take some concrete action to prepare for FMLA. I have a month to get everything squared away and ready and hoo. It should be fine. I always feel better when I have actionable items. Now I just have to make sure whoever is covering me is as ready as they can be!

  18. No Tribble At All*

    Based on the necklace from earlier today — best/worst career anniversary presents?

    My first and second years I got a box of mediocre bonbons. My third year, they changed what they did, and people got pens and sticky notes that said “You are appreciated”. Hokey, but useful. Fourth and fifth… big ole nothing. I’m floored that there are places that give you a Tiffany necklace for 5 years! That’s incredible!

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I worked with a woman who had been with a (very small) company for 20 years – on her anniversary the owner (who had owned the place all 20 years) brought her a cheesecake and announced it would be a combined cake for the 20 year anniversary and her own birthday. Coworker hates cheesecake.

      1. WellRed*

        But I love the awkwardness of the celebrate-ee saying she doesn’t like cheesecake and then sitting there watching everyone else eat it.

      2. Kat*

        Damn I love cheesecake but it’s such a specific thing that I’d never assume other people like. What a weird choice. Go with vanilla or chocolate cake, man.

    2. Adlib*

      The best I’ve gotten is a hardcase carry-on suitcase selected from our “reward store” using a set amount of points for my anniversary (5 years). It’s purple, and I love it! Ended up buying the matching full size case later.

      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        I got a similar suitcase (in bright pink!) as a leaving gift from an old job. Most useful thing EVER – I travel a fair bit and I LOVE it!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh I forgot about rewards catalogs. At the restaurant chain in CA where I worked in the early 1990s, we had that. I got a little socket set and I still have it!

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I super wish I worked at a place that did rewards points and gifts.

        We get a lapel pin at five year intervals and depending on who your direct supervisor is, you may also get a card signed by your coworkers, but that’s the extent of our anniversary recognition.

        1. Hope*

          We used to get lapel pins at 5 years and 5 year intervals thereafter, but when I hit my 5 year mark, that was of course the year they stopped recognizing 5 years and bumped it to starting at 10.

      4. willow19*

        Telescope for 10 years. Suitcase for 5 years. Speaker set for 10 years (different place).

    3. Victoria, Please*

      Heh. We get a teeny little gold-tone lapel pin at 10 years. I think at 25 you get one with a diamond fragment in it. …but we do have awesome benefits, so.

    4. londonedit*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that gave any kind of gift/award every year – here we get an extra day’s holiday after five years and I think another after 10, but everywhere else any awards have been for 10, 15, 20, 25 years etc. There was one place that gave a paid six-week sabbatical in your 10th year (I only made it to six!) which was pretty awesome, but that job sucked so I didn’t really mind not getting to 10 years!

      1. anna green*

        Yeah I’ve worked at 4 different companies and never worked anywhere where they did anything for any anniversary. I mean, I guess you do get more vacation time after a certain amount of years, but I kind of put that in a different category than a gift.

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          I would consider it to be a wonderful gift to get more vacation time after I spent a certain number of years working for a company. But I never got anything – not a pin, not a card, not a certificate, not a handshake – absolutely nothing.

      2. CheeryO*

        Same, although I’m in government so it’s understandable. There are some snazzy certificates once you reach 20/25/30/35/40(!) years of service, but nothing before then.

        1. Kat*

          Maybe I’m just a grump but if I give you 40 years and you give me a certificate… just add the $2 that fancy paper cost to the raise I sure as hell hope I’m getting.

        2. Marion Q*

          Heh, the government workers/civil servants in my country get a medal and fancy sounding award when they reach 50(!) years of service. I remember in high school two of my teachers were awarded those medals and it was treated as a huge thing.

    5. KayEss*

      Didn’t affect me directly, but I worked at a struggling higher ed institution for a year in which several of my coworkers had 5- or 10-year anniversaries… instead of the nice catered lunch and modest gift item (I think it was usually a decently nice leather planner or document holder with the university crest), they got a certificate printed from an office laser printer and a handshake from the university president who was running the place into the ground.

      Shockingly, morale never recovered in that office.

    6. Frustrated In DC*

      My firm has not acknowledged any of my years of service yet. (I mean, they do with a paycheck I guess)

    7. Finkfink*

      I got a lapel pin for my 10-year anniversary, but the best present was my supervisor saying I didn’t have to go to the ceremony where they were given out.

    8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      My place did that. I picked a digital camera for five years. Not a jewelry person. And for ten a smoker/grill. Then by 15 they stopped doing it.
      I still don’t get why the employee is freaking out? Does she think she won’t get one at five years or is she part of the Guacamole Mafia that thinks corporate money should be seen and not spent?

    9. Moray*

      My workplace gives these big, glass engraved…trophies? They are heavy and pointy, and there are a lot of jokes about what good weapons they would make.
      “I got my five year paperweight. If I’m still here for the ten year one, I’m going to use it for what is clearly its intended purpose.”
      “They only want the people who’ve been here for more than five years to survive the Purge.”
      “We’re both getting our five-year this week, so…duel to the death?”

    10. Lena Clare*

      We got – I think it’s changed slightly now – an extra day’s holiday (annual leave) at 5 years, and an extra week annual leave at 10 years. I really must check because my 10th anniversary is next month!

    11. Zephy*

      At OldJob, you’d get a card signed by the CEO on your hire date anniversary, and they recognized years of service at the annual employee appreciation party by reading a list of names and applauding. I didn’t make it to 5 years with them, so I don’t know if the year-5 hireversary card also came with, like, a $50 Visa gift card or extra PTO or whatever, but those were their go-to “prizes” when there was need of them.

    12. Nope, not today*

      Not an anniversary gift, but I worked for a very small company (about 6-9 people over the two years I was there) with a very nice but quirky owner. For administrative assistant appreciation day he brought me and the office manager gifts – whole pineapples, to which he stuck on buckeye candies. Bit odd, but the pineapple was delicious lol

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Did he stick the buckeye candies in such a way that they were eyes and so the pineapple looked like a fruit friend? If so, +1!

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Fresh this week! For 1 year – $20 gift card to the company store. Ok, so I went and looked around. Figured I’d get a tshirt or 2, depending on prices. basic T is $7.25, not bad. Go to add to the cart – minimum order is 24. Nope!

      Might get a luggage tag. Maybe an umbrella. mostly ignoring it right now.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Was there anyone else hired around the same time so you could combine your orders?
        I’d also mention the $20 vs $24 to someone in HR — sometimes systems raise the minimum purchase without them knowing. (I used to carpool with our former head of HR….she ranted about something very similar one morning.)

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          HR’s in process of revamping the process, and I did ask if unspent gift cards would be transfered over later. We’ll see.

    14. Choux*

      We get gift cards at our 3-, 5- and 10-year anniversaries (then I think not again until 20 years). I got my 3-year one last year and it was either $200 or $250.

    15. ClumsyCharisma*

      For 5 years I picked a carpet steamer. I was a new first time homeowner and I couldn’t have been more excited. I still use it 8 years later.
      For 10 years we switched to an online system and I was able to trade in my points for gift cards and put it towards a nice watch I was eyeing but wouldn’t buy on my own.
      I did also get a food processor from our online system just from “appreciation points.”
      However, I never received my one year anniversary pen that everyone else gets.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think they gave me your pen because I ended up with two pens. (joking)
        Neither one of them would write. I threw them out. (NOT joking)

    16. magnusarchivist*

      I heard about a library where you got a $5 Starbucks gift card on every anniversary. They recently had surprise layoffs during an all staff meeting (!), and yep — the people who were being recognized for anniversaries and being laid at the same time off still got a gift card on their way out.

      1. PharmaCat*

        My previous company did anniversary gifts through a points system with a fulfillment catalog. After 3 years, I had enough points for a lovely set of scissors.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          Ha ha!! That’s what I got from my company (scissors.) I think it was at 2 or 3 years? I still use them. Now they give an extra day of PTO at five years, two for 10, I think the maximum is five extra days for 25 years. The ones that just missed the cut-off were hot!!

          1. Professional Merchandiser*

            The previous company I worked for (P&G) gave service pins at 5, 10, ect. years. BUT they sent us awesome gift packages for Christmas. Over the years I received a rolling suitcase with the company logo,(two different years. But that’s okay, I gave one to my son when he went to college) an insulated picnic blanket, a really nice tray with a serving bowl, and other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. Plus they sent a huge assortment of company products. My kids say they still miss the gift packages I got.

      2. Mockingbird*

        My law firm does nice things for the partners/shareholders for each 5 years of service (I know that staff gets appreciation gifts too but I’m not sure what they are, though I’m sure they’re far less extravagant).

        10 years was a glass/chrome desk clock. Okay…
        15 years was a new iPad. I loved it.
        20 years is a $3000-5000 gift that matches the receiving person’s hobbies or interests. I picked out some impressionistic fine art with my husband that I really love. Others have gotten things like camera equipment.

        I’m looking forward to my 25 year anniversary in a couple of years. :)

        1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          “20 years is a $3000-5000 gift that matches the receiving person’s hobbies or interests.”

          I’ve been at my job 22 years. It’s a civil service job with the state court system. Never received anything.

          Shit.

          1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            Well, I don’t know if it’s a typo if it’s true. I mean, I’d lean more toward screwed, but the feeling is the same. In any case, you get a side of guacamole, a tiffany necklace and your own shelf in the office fridge for a week!

    17. LessNosy*

      I just hit 5 years and luckily they had just implemented a new “awards” system (which they call “anniversary gifts”). I got to go online to a website where I could spend my “points” on various things. A lot of it junk, some of it good. I opted for a $100 Amazon gift card and bought myself an air fryer. I call it my “pain and suffering air fryer.”

      I was also instructed by my boss NOT to tell my coworker/closest friend at work about this award because she hit 5 years last year and the awards are not retroactive. I’m assuming she got diddly squat.

      1. Liz*

        that’s usually the case with our anniversary “catalog” there’s a ton of stuff to choose from, but most of it is junky or could be bought cheaply on your own. But there are some nicer things. It changes regularly, so will be interested next year to see what they offer for 20 years.

    18. Liane*

      I got a folding camp chair after 5 years at an international medical device company. It was the only thing good thing (IMO) in the 5 year part of the catalog.

    19. CupcakeCounter*

      My company gives out several gifts a year to all employees. Some are great, some are…less so.
      For birthdays we have received a HUGE, branded stainless steel water bottle (I love mine), a really nice, heavy duty travel bag for toiletries (denim and leather), soft side cooler/lunch bag, blanket, large umbrella
      When we moved into our new building everyone got a lidded coffee cup and water bottle as well as new pens and post-its.
      For employee appreciation week, managers usually bring in donuts or bagels, the company brings in lunch, we’ve received hats and shirts, koozies, and tote bags.
      We also get a turkey at Thanksgiving and a Ham as Christmas from local farms/meat processors with lots of options for people who don’t eat or celebrate to donate their gift (with an appropriate tax deduction for the employee not the company) or select an alternative.

    20. Environmental Compliance*

      Not entirely for the employee’s anniversary, but for the state agency I used to work at, the agency celebrated its 150 or something-th anniversary of existing by sending every employee a coffee mug. It’s actually a nice mug, and has a nice logo and whatnot….but if you hold it in your right hand using the normal mug handle, the logo is facing inwards, not outwards. We were all pretty entertained.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        They gave you left handed mugs! The image on my mugs are always facing the wrong direction.

    21. Nita*

      We don’t get anything for personal anniversaries, but everyone gets gifts for five-year company anniversaries. My favorites – a good-sized, comfortable work bag, and an insulated backpack (great for carrying samples and equipment, also doubles as a picnic bag on the weekends).

    22. Aquawoman*

      I’m a fed, so I get a framed certificate, a little pin and a round of applause, and I’m surprised they spring for the pin. But as I said on that letter, I get great bennies, so I’m all good.

        1. Jaid*

          One year, they mailed my embossed certificate to my home address, because they couldn’t figure out what my department was.

          What’s applause, again?

    23. Admin of Sys*

      5 yr mark at prev job was a pen, pretty nice quality. 10 yr mark /had/ been a glass paperweight that no one liked or cared about, but we actually managed to get them to switch over to a branded fleece blanket, which was /awesome/ because the office ran at about 65F most of the year.
      Current place gives really nice lunch out w/ director as the 5 yr gift? Which I’m kind of 50/50 on. It’s a /really/ nice lunch, but gift=time with boss’s boss is a little odd to me. *shrugs*

    24. The Original K.*

      I got to pick from a catalog at one place and I chose a coffee grinder (I tend to like gifts that are practical). Not the sexiest gift but it’s something I actually use. That was my second-year anniversary gift (the first year was a certificate, which isn’t a gift).

      I did some contract work at a place that gives time off for milestone anniversaries (every 5 years), which I think is a good gift.

    25. Anon for this*

      Where I work, on certain anniversary dates, vacation accrual increases. I think it’s on 3, 5, 10 and 15 years … I currently accrue 12 hours of vacation monthly, and I think my next increase will be 15 or 16 hours monthly. And beginning at 10 years of employment, and every year thereafter, one receives career service payments for their anniversary. The amounts are incremental (10-14 years, 15-19, etc.), and those increased this year.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: A $50 Visa gift card (I got these at Exjob from year 2 on). The first one helped me get a Kindle Fire, which I’d wanted for a long time. :)

      WORST: Also Exjob — a stupid acrylic plaque that said Congrats on your first year of service. I found it shoved in a drawer the other day while sorting and threw it out.

      SECOND WORST: At OldExjob, five years netted you a jacket with the company logo on it. When I started, they were really nice burgundy cloth jackets, but by the time I reached that milestone, it was an ugly-ass grey *plastic* windbreaker. I never wore it and it went into the donation box.

    27. Say It Ain't So*

      For 5 years, I got a little badge reel that said “5 year employee.” It was useful and I was pretty disappointed when it broke after 3 years. I found out several months later that I could have gone up to HR and had it replaced.

      For 10 years and every 5 years after that, we get to order from a catalog. There were some really random items (I honestly debated some kind of power tool for a while), but I ended up choosing the set of 4 Mikasa stemless wine glasses.

    28. Former Govt Contractor*

      Best – $2,000 + 20 yellow roses + an outing after work on my 20th anniversary with big lawfirm
      Worst – nothing
      Funniest – Not an anniversary gift, but my current boss wanted to acknowledge me for good work so he put in for 20 points I could use to buy something at our online store, thinking 20 points would = $200. Nope. Equaled $10. Though he learned this and apologized, he never made up for it.

    29. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      At one of my previous jobs, I was there while my boss was celebrated for her 10th year with the company.

      They gave her a $15 pen in a cheap case, both with the company logo.

    30. Nessun*

      I got nothing at 5 years (they forgot), and switched offices (same company) at 10 years so HR didn’t know who to inform and swept it under the rug – again nothing. At 15 years I got $250 added to my paycheque (and of course promptly taxed). So, could have been worse, and HR has improved their processes for others based on my feedback.

    31. Liz*

      In my PT retail job, for my 5 year anniversary, even as a PT associate, i got a gift card. To Tiffany. For $50. Um thank you? I mean yes it was a nice gesture but really almost nothing aside from maybe a scarf, is that cheap there. And most people weren’t making enough $$ to be able to add to that to get something nice.

    32. Susan*

      Just passed 10 years at my company and got an iPad. Took it to the Apple store, paid a little extra to increase the storage and choose a different color. Love it.

    33. Regular, but anon for this*

      I selected a Coach portfolio/laptop bag from the catalog for my 10th anniversary (although I hear it’s now just a check, which is fine!), and at 15 years you can get 2 business class tickets anywhere from the company’s air miles account, plus $1500 spending money! THAT was a great trip!

    34. DukeOfPearl*

      My sister got a fire pit from the catalog for her 5 year. Best anniversary gift ever. We’ve eaten so many damn toasted marshmallows.

    35. Liz*

      while not anniversary, my company is big on giving out branded items for various things, but they are the cheapest crap you can order. we’ve gotten pens, water bottles, insulated bags etc. All really poor quality and most of which i donate. the bags are great since i will put stuff IN them and donate along with the items i’m donating.

      And most of it is useless stuff too; that no one really will use.

    36. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Best was the gold earrings I picked out of the catalog for my 5th year anniversary… until one of them broke because they were so flimsy. Darned good thing I have an uneven number of ear piercings so I can wear the remaining one.

    37. VioletCrumble*

      We get the option for Tiffany/Visa Gift Cards. It used to start at 15 years. The year we had our 10th – they gave everyone from 5-9 years $25 gift cards from a local bookstore and we got $35 gift cards to same. On our 11th year – they started offering the 10 years the Tiffany/Visa Gift Card options – I think it’s the equivalent of $150. So you can’t please everyone I guess.. sigh..

    38. Engineer Girl*

      Favorite: a computer messenger bag with company logo on it. I used it for years.
      Best: sapphire ring
      Most disappointing: a pearl necklace that broke as I put it on

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Daaaaaang a sapphire ring? Did you pick it out from a catalog, or was that the default?

    39. Apt Nickname*

      For my tenth anniversary I was given a choice from a catalog and ended up going with a large wheeled duffle bag. But because I’d waffled between that and a Dustbuster, I couldn’t remember what I’d chosen and it was a nice surprise when it was dropped off at my desk.

    40. A Tired Queer*

      I’ve been at my higher ed job for like… 7 years full time now, and the nicest (and only) thing I ever got was a surprise free lunch when I changed roles. It was from my old co-workers to wish me well. Very unofficial.
      A colleague who has been here for something like 40 years had a department sponsored pizza party. No official acknowledgement from management, no gift or anything.
      Tbh I think the only time I’ve seen someone acknowledged by name for their years of service has been if they died while they were employed here. So. That’s cheery.

    41. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      At OldJob for my 10th anniversary I got a nice Boombox. However, I left it in my office for a few weeks until I could get it home. Then 9/11 happened (I worked across the street from the World Financial Center). Our building got some damage. When they let us return to retrieve some stuff, the Boombox had disappeared. I think one of the first responders or some other worker may have taken it–And I didn’t mind at all.

    42. Government employee*

      This whole thread makes me sad. The only thing my workplace ever gives us is permission to wear jeans on employee appreciation day.

    43. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      My organization only does gifts for milestone anniversaries 5, 10, 15… Each milestone the gift amount goes up so it’s $50 for 5 years, $75 for 10…and you spend it by going online to a gift card catalog company and picking a store to redeem your gift code. At my 5-year I picked Zappos and got some new shoes and at the ten-year I picked Amazon and bought an area rug. We used to get a card from the university president for every year but when we got a new president he decided to do away with that. I totally understand, even though they were generic and preprinted that was a lot of cards. We also get acknowledged in an HR email newsletter: “Thank you and congratulations to the following employees for their years of service: 5 years…name name name”

    44. Lucy Preston*

      19th got a cake. 20th didn’t even get a “happy 20th”. 22nd got a pair of earrings that are nice but look like one of those “Buy $100 of merchandise and get these diamonique earrings for only $20”.

    45. Gumby*

      Most of my jobs: nothing except additional vacation days on various schedules

      Best: 1 month sabbatical at 2/3 pay. (Available every 5th year of employment there.)

    46. Autumnheart*

      I just hit 15 years at my company . I think I got a printed certificate after year 1. Year 5, I got an inexpensive but cute watch. Year 10, I could choose between a few gifts, but I honestly don’t remember what I chose. They recently restructured their awards so that now we go to a website (similar to what someone posted above) with a catalog, with ALL sorts of stuff. I could’ve gotten a really extensive box of Omaha steaks, or a set of luggage, or a generator, or a Trek mountain bike, it was really comprehensive.

      One of the options was $450 worth of reward points, so I picked that and then used it to get a fancy new cable modem and a router. I still have $50 left so I’ll probably upgrade my Echo Dots to third generation. I think that’s a pretty sweet gift, personally. Certainly beats a cheesecake.

    47. WooHoo*

      At 5 years, I picked a fall-ish jacket with our agency’s logo on it. For 10, I chose a laptop bag (pleather).

      Once we hit five years here, we receive “longevity” pay in our first check of the new year. It’s not a lot, but I’ll take an extra $100 pretax anytime. At 10 years, I think it’s up to $200. I’d prefer it be added to my base pay so it’s a long-term benefit, but I’ll take it!

    48. Arjay*

      No Tiffany here. We do celebrate 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years with gifts like pens, mugs, and polo shirts. Non-gift years (2 years, etc.) are recognized with a certificate. And usually treats.

    49. Aphrodite*

      Community college. Central coastal California.

      A cheap piece of paper framed in a cheap black frame saying you’ve been here for xx years.

      I’ve immediately trashed each one I got.

    50. Beatrice*

      First year – a key ring – a nice, solid metal one with the company logo. I still have it but it’s my junk drawer random key ring now.
      5th year – I chose a nice crystal vase from a catalog. I still use it.
      10th year – I chose a silver necklace from a catalog. It came with a company logo pendant that I removed and discarded. I also got a nice lightweight zip-up jacket – everyone with an anniversary multiple of 5 that year got one.
      Next year is 15.

    51. just a random teacher*

      Worst: when I worked at The School of Evil Bees in my 20s, I quit without anything else lined up at the end of my second year. (I resigned early enough in the year to get the “early notice bonus” but with and effective date at the end of the school year, so they had lots of warning that I was leaving.)

      They threw a “retirement party” for all departing staff. There were speeches and presents celebrating our “retirements”, despite that fact that a majority of us were in our 20s and obviously not actually retiring. They gave us a framed photograph of the school, some mementos to help us remember the neighborhood, and a live plant.

      In my current school, which is at least 80% less full of Evil Bees (although I suspect there may be a nest at the district office – hopefully they’ll spray it over the summer), the union threw a 3-year party for all people who made it through the 3 years of probation to get on regular contract status (this comes with extra job protections). I once again got a live plant. (There was also a raffle, with the idea that everyone would “win” something in it eventually, but I have an audio processing disability and cannot hear numbers called out very well if they’re not careful to repeat them several times while looking at all parts of the room so I can lip-read for extra info, so I apparently missed my number when it was called. Also, listening for numbers that way all evening is totally exhausting for me so I probably just wasn’t parsing any more after 20 or so were called out.) I got one of the remaining prizes as they were packing up to leave and realized I hadn’t gotten anything, which I no longer recall specifically. A mirror, maybe? At least I got to hang out with some fellow teacher I actually like and talk.

      Next year will be my five year anniversary. I’m sure there’s nothing official, since I’ve read our union contract and there isn’t anything in there, but I wonder if there will be anything small and school level since several of us were all hired on at the same time so we’ll all be hitting 5 years next year. Maybe I’ll do something if there’s nothing planned by the social committee. (It’s so nice to work someplace where the idea of inviting co-workers over to your house sounds vaguely pleasant rather than like a terrible idea.) If so, I will NOT be giving out live plants.

    52. Booksalot*

      My company gives lapel pins that are different designs based on your years of service.

      The terrible part of it is that some managers consider them mandatory to wear, so people get written up for not having them on. Not just for high-level meetings, either, I mean just rotting in your cubicle all day.

    53. The Phleb*

      We used to get points for recognition and had a book to choose items from but they stopped that program however they ARE still continuing it for milestone recognition (least this year!). I hit 20 years and received enough points combined with previous saved points to get a fantastic pot and pan set (top of the line and very expensive). Was probably the best gift I could have gotten! (I really needed them…I was down to one fry pan, a small pot and a medium pot…very sad!)

      1. Delta Delta*

        I also got a set of high-end pots & pans using points. Wouldn’t have spent the money on it, but with points it felt like a great treat. It was about 17 years ago and I still use them.

    54. Lepidoptera*

      Summer job, white collar office work environment
      I got a small hot/cold lunch bag in blues (fave colour) filled with small chocolate bars, a branded pen and pencil and a very tall branded mug on my last day.
      I loved it. I still use the mug and bag.

    55. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Worked for 17 years at my old job. Think I got a luncheon or dinner or something for my 15th year. And, like, a glass dish with the university’s logo on it. That was about it.

  19. I See Real People*

    I got an email from Linked In saying that I came up in a search that my company initiated for my position. I’m the only one here with that position. This has happened twice. When I asked my boss about it, he said it must be a ‘mistake’ because he doesn’t know anything about it. It would only be the HR person doing this search. He’s lied before to others about unrelated things, so I’m still uneasy.

    1. BethDH*

      Could it be something related to, say, benchmarking pay or checking out something else related to job structures rather than specifically hiring/job opps?

  20. Bee's Knees*

    Had a guy come in for an interview. He was very animated, and a little long-winded. Fine, whatever. He’s probably nervous. Super qualified, and the interview goes well. I gave him my card, and Marvin’s. He emails that night to thank us, which was nice. Not so nice, he attaches his resume again, and the thank you is the first paragraph. The next 10 paragraphs of 500 or so words is him restating everything that we talked about, and everything on his resume. It included not one, but two (!) bullet point lists. He’s eager. A little much, but he’s really qualified, so we will look past it. My boss emails back, because that is the polite thing to do, and tells him he will hear back from us in the next week or so. That was Thursday.

    Tuesday, he emails again, and it is what amounts to a manifesto. A short excerpt – “Too be honest….shortly after our meeting, I was elated and have felt since then, the urgency to research all my notes about numerous solutions and future opportunities which I would like the chance to put in practice with You to enable us to become a valuable asset to this company from this moment forward… [the ellipses are his, and he had a super long paragraph break here] Since our initial meeting, I have continuously felt drawn to the idea of being part of your outstanding culture diversity and core values that you share @ the [company name].”

    I realized what bothers me about it, and it’s that the entire thing reads like a scam letter. Act now, or you will lose out on the 27 million dollars being held in a trust! It did, however, only include one bullet point list. Despite the fact that this dude is very qualified, there are more red flags here than a bull fighting contest. There’s such a thing as too much, and he is it. If you hadn’t heard anything, I could see reaching out after a week was up, just to check in. But he had, and if he’s this high maintenance and over the top in the interview process, I don’t really want to know what he’s like to work with.

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t know if it’s just me, but there’s no way I could work with someone who would send emails like that…half of it doesn’t even make sense! Just send me the TPS report, Fergus!

      1. Bee's Knees*

        And that was one of the better parts. I wish I could reprint both the ones he sent, cause woo boy. They are something.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Oh dear, yes, there’s something offputting about that, and also shows that he doesn’t understand professional norms very well. Is this how he would proceed with clients? External partners? Hmm.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Just so you know, I’m blaming all the crazy that’s happened here the last two weeks on you. Everything was fine, and you released the hellmouth energies into the world. I think at least half of them have settled here.

        1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          That’s fair. Let’s just hope that it will all eventually disperse, and this isn’t the work crazy version of kudzu.

          1. Bee's Knees*

            Mine is always a little crazy, but it’s really upped its game this week. I was going to blog about it and then put it in the open thread today, but haven’t had time. A preview for next week – a fire, sexual harassment, possible unwanted job changes, four different visits from vendors, and not one, not two, but three actual, literal temper tantrums.

            1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

              I want to read this blog. Where the three temper tantrums from the SAME person or THREE SEPARATE ADULTS?

              1. Bee's Knees*

                Two adults, two tantrums from the same guy.
                I don’t want to get stuck in moderation, but it’s beeskneesblogs .blogspot and then the . and the web address that starts with c and ends with om.

                1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                  Hooray! Also: Adult tantrums are the pinnacle of train wreck behavior.

        2. Aquawoman*

          Mercury is in retrograde for the past couple weeks. I know that makes me sound a little kooky but I swear it’s a thing.

            1. Kat in VA*

              I am doing the equivalent of pulling together a “two day 100 person wedding event with a formal dinner in between” but it’s for work…

              Time frame? Less than 14 days.

              Yeah, Mercury is in retrograde and there was an eclipse in there too, I think.

              I’m so ready just to quit. I actually told my boss I had a fantasy of writing him an email (while I was working around 8:00PM the other night) saying, “Dear Bossman, please accept this email as notice of my resignation, effective immediately.” (I didn’t tell him the other part I fantasized about – the ending. “Fuck you, Kat.”

              He thought it was funny. Me, a little less so. He lives for this kind of pressure. I don’t. I live, eat, think, sleep, and dream work. I’m offloading as much as I can (which, tbh, isn’t much) and I feel like I’m drowning. I just got a raise and it’s kinda nice, but I’m realizing extra money does not offset the feeling of being three steps behind every hour, every day.

              I keep saying to myself “Just get through this training/offsite” and it will be better…except there are three more major offsites in the next two months. I suck at event planning and I don’t enjoy it. Also, somewhere in there, I have to do my regular job, oh, and support three other executives besides my crazy Bossman who takes up literally 90% of my time.

              /rant off, *shakes fist at sky*

    3. Youth*

      Makes me think of people who have asked you out one time and start trying to establish a high level of emotional intimacy right away. It’s like, “Whoa dude, we barely know each other. Why are you emotionally invested this early?”

      1. Bee's Knees*

        He went on and on in a very confusing spiral of his qualifications and how he would use them to make changes. Like, that’s great, but we have enough stuff flowing down from corporate with the changes they want to make. We don’t need it coming from you too.

        1. Psyche*

          Someone who comes in with a list of things they want to change is very off-putting. Maybe wait a few weeks and get used to how things are done now before deciding you know better.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yup. I actually was brought into my current company to be a sort of change agent (along with my grandboss, who only started five months before me), and I still waited a month before initiating training sessions with people and drafting guides.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            This. If you don’t work there yet, you don’t know what the current processes are and what the pros and cons could be. If you don’t know those things, why are you already so firmly set on changing things?

        2. Auntie Social*

          Yeah, the changes bit would make me hit the brakes hard. He’s supposed to adopt your way of thinking, not think that he’s in charge and changes will be MADE! Well, that, and the Nigerian prince thing. . . .

        3. magnusarchivist*

          this sounds so much like a friend of mine who is a truly nice and warm person, but just tries WAY too hard to establish an earnest emotional connection in his cover letters. I tried to warn him off it, but he sees his warmth and earnestness as a strength and just keeps doing it. He is employed now, though, so /shrug.

        4. tesserae*

          Do Not Hire This Person. He sounds like one of those people who’d follow you into the bathroom to make his point.

      2. CheeryO*

        I had the same thought. Those people make me physically recoil, and I can’t imagine working with someone with that level of “enthusiasm.” PASS.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      10 paragraphs for a thank you email? Pass. He sounds like the kind of employee who will take half a day to complete a 15 minute task, and annoy several coworkers in the process.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Yeah, and this was for a supervisory position. I don’t think so. It would be bad enough if I had to deal with it, but I’m not going to deal with him AND the people on his crew that don’t like him.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        Not only this–he sounds like the kind of employee who has no respect for others’ time. He expects you to read all that when a quick one-paragraph “thanks, that was great, love to hear from you” would do? He’ll be in people’s offices talking their ears off instead of letting them work. He’ll be sending them page-long e-mails that they’ll have to delve through looking for the one answer they actually needed. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid!

    5. Kat*

      I once worked at a very prestigious school, you know the one, and we’d get so many crazies apply for our post doc program (so 30ish, not 18ish) because they were obsessed with our name brand. We required 2 letters of recommendation and accepted UP TO BUT NO MORE THAN THREE (written in our application in three places). Once interviewed a very high energy dude, nice but felt a little salesy, and outstanding experience. His first two letters came in, both great. A third and fourth came in, I was mildly annoyed (we told you three times man.). The fifth through seventh were all weaker connections or his employees. By the time we got to 11, he went from strong consider to automatic reject. It became a running joke with my boss (who I was afraid of and didn’t usually joke around with). His 26th letter was from a senator he had met twice and who knew his uncle well and had heard excellent things about him.

      He emailed me after he was rejected telling me how disappointed he was, how he felt like he was a perfect fit, and asking if I could get any feedback from the faculty on why he was rejected (I was 23 and an admin). I drafted an email saying nothing but “dude, way too many letters.” My boss thought it was hilarious. I think she assumed I wouldn’t sent it. I might have. The next year he only sent in eight. He was not offered a position.

      1. Agent J*

        The effort alone it takes to get TWENTY SIX recommendation letters makes me tired. Love the determination but too much.

      2. BethDH*

        Yeah, one or two extras I could totally imagine happening if they are coming directly from referees — I have a somewhat disorganized advisor who writes great letters but sometimes misses out on things like remembering to answer emails or log in to the correct system to submit things. I have definitely been in positions where I asked an additional person just be sure. But I can’t even fathom that kind of excess!

    6. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I used to teach a work skill training class for the community. It was really common for people to sign up for the class, and submit an application for that skill job title at the same time, so we’d be ready to hire them when they finished the class.

      I had a man in his 30s sign up for the class and need help with some of the online learning, which was really common because the job interfaces were confusing. He sent me several long, rambling emails about his personal thoughts on it, how things had changed since he took the class earlier in his career, where he was in his career and his life, etc. This got my spidey senses tingling that he was creepy. I spoke to my boss about my concerns, and he told me to ignore it and continue with the class.

      When I got to class, the dude was even creepier in person than I’d expected based on the emails. And he would interrupt me to correct me with the “wrong” answers. He also refused to take direction and would argue. We had some teenagers in the class, and because he was so creepy and set my spidey senses off, I assigned him to a practical team that was all adults. Which was fortunate, because during one of those practical tests he managed to sexually assault a teammate by groping them.

      I did everything I could to get him blacklisted from hire at our company.

      Take this sign as a warning, and do not hire him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is exactly how I picture OP’s applicant to be IRL.
        He does not understand boundaries and, worse yet, has no intention of learning.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is this a writing position? Because if yes…that puts a lot of work on the editor(s)!

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Nope. Nope. N.O.P.E!

      His urgency is screaming “And when I finally get the job, I will explode in your face like a gremlin in the microwave!” RUUUUUUUUUUN GURL RUUUUUUUUUUN!

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Lol, yeah. I told the manager he’d be working for that I was not going to deal with that level of crazy voluntarily.

    9. Observer*

      there are more red flags here than a bull fighting contest

      Yes. Or maybe a Mayday Parade in the Soviet Union.

      In addition to all of the other crazy, this person can’t write any better that a second grader (if that well.) I can’t imagine trying to work with him on ANYTHING.

    10. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      OMG I have a college student similar to this…he’s very nice and polite but overly enthusiastic and a bit overly confident in his intellectual abilities (He’s probably smart, but the kind that has to show just how smart he is by quoting Plato and randomly throwing out some latin words — maybe, they might be just made up). I thought he’s “extra” but generally likable until… He submitted 4 essays and some artwork to a student literary publication I work on. We clearly state in the submission guidelines that all submissions may be edited by the editorial staff and that by submitting they agree to this without any further input. Well we didn’t publish all of his submissions, so high insult #1, and a word was changed in one of his essays that he doesn’t agree with (however, the word he used isn’t correct by definition and the replacement is). Some of the highlights of his email tantrum: “I would like this to be corrected as swiftly & effectively as possible because my reputation as an aspiring professional/thinker and my intellectual valuation is on the line.” and “I’m an aspiring philosopher & I don’t want my earliest stages of development to be second-rate when in fact I wrote a world-class piece.” His solution: “pull the magazine from the shelves as soon as possible and reprint (presumably intennible [sic])” or “Print and attach a disclaimer to every magazine in print (doable, but not efficient)” or “reprint the article in next year’s edition (in the centerfold, where It [sic] was intended on being placed in this edition) with a disclaimer box/apology. I have been informed that this is standard practice & is good enough to make me satisfied.”

      So, no on all of those. I would be wary of hiring someone like him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So here is a person who is so impressed with themselves, that you don’t have to be impressed. He’s impressed enough for the two of you.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Ah yes, I can smell the professional thinking from here. It’s intennible.

    11. pentamom*

      The vibe I get from this is an unstable person. This isn’t just not knowing job seeking norms, this sounds to me (though I am highly unqualified) like a genuinely obsessive person.

  21. Justme, The OG*

    One of my coworkers is leaving at the end of the month. I’m so very happy for her, this is a great opportunity. But now we have to hire a replacement, and that part is what I am not looking forward to.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      We are in the same boat! It’s a great move for her, but she has a ton of institutional knowledge that we probably won’t get in her replacement, so Other Coworker and I are a bit nervous.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Yes. This employee’s skillset will be hard to find in someone else. I know I can take some of the slack, and I may ask my supervisor if she would like me to since I’m in my slow time. Until we hire someone else, that is. Because I’m not taking that on full time without a pay increase (and I’m not qualified for her position or else I would apply).

  22. ThatGirl*

    Three days in to my new job – a department switch at the same company. I’m happy! I think it’s going to be a great fit! I have plenty to learn but it’s right in my wheelhouse, just have to get my brain back into copywriter mode. And honestly I am extremely proud of myself for going for this opportunity. Thanks AAM for all the confidence. :)

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Congrats! Did they tell you why they were switching you so soon? (I mean, it’s great since it’s in your wheelhouse, but I would want to know what the catalyst for that was.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh, ha, I wasn’t clear on that – this is the one I applied to roughly two months ago and got the offer for a month or so ago. It just took a little while for the move to actually happen. And now it has!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          So you’re 3 days into a new job that was an internal transfer? Those can be great!

  23. International Development*

    What courses or training in international development or the WASH sector would you recommend for an almost mid-level person to check out? I’m looking for things that would be online or in the DC area. I’ve worked at my current position for 1.5 years in research and administration, and have had my MPH for three years already.

    1. Loubelou*

      It’s hard to give more specific recommendations without knowing what you’ve already studied but there are three key skills needed for all international development professionals: project management (results-based), finance management and people management. Last mile learning have good introductory courses for these, all free. If you want more intense learning and professional qualifications then FMDPro and PMDPro (Project/Finance Management for Development Professionals) are good quality and we’ll recognised. You can do online (cheap/free) or in-person courses ($1000) through Humentum – in fact I see they have courses in DC coming up in August.
      Other key topics: Monitoring and Evaluation, Fraud and Corruption, Safeguarding, Disibility Inclusive Development, Participatory Methodologies. This last one should be done in person but I’m afraid I don’t know of any training providers in the US (I’m in Ireland). They must exist though.

      Humentum have a great library of other courses and resources! And the Red Cross have a training site with a lot of online courses too, and all of theirs are free.

      Links in separate comment.

      1. Loubelou*

        Humentum PMD Pro/FMD Pro: https://www.humentum.org/training/humentum-d-pro (bear in mind if you are familiar with the concepts you can teach yourself online through Last Mile Learning then take the exam for $100)

        Lingos (also called Last Mile Learning) free online training in finance, project management and people management: https://lingos.org/last-mile-learning/

        IFRC learning portal – free online training in every development topic, varying quality: ifrc.csod.com

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yes, but specifically calling out California folks who can’t drive based on a case on Federal law coming out of South Carolina doesn’t make much sense.

    1. Aquawoman*

      I am not 100% sure that a person who chooses not to drive would have standing to bring a complaint, though. This case was decided under the ADA re a person with a disability that prevented driving.

  24. second chance at interview I bombed*

    I’ve written about this before, but I recently went through the hiring process for a position I applied for two years ago and didn’t get (in government, panel interview, eligibility list, the whole nine yards). I found out on Wednesday that not only did I pass my oral exam (the interview round), I friggin’ ranked number one on the eligibility list!

    I don’t have an offer yet, but management told me there are six vacancies, so I imagine I will be moving onward and upward soon! Just want to thank the community here for helping me along the way. Woo!

      1. second chance at interview I bombed*

        I read about that story earlier this week and it made me so stinking mad that he was shitcanned for that! That dude rules and I would love to work for someone like that.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Right? I mean, he should have stopped sending the emails to the people who complained that they didn’t like it, but he was actually sending out inspirational quotes from Pac’s songs, not the profanity laced ones. This is write up territory, not firing worthy (though they were trying to get him to retire earlier, so I gather there was more to the story and they just used his Tupac fixation as a cover).

          Anyway, congratulations to you!

  25. learning and growing*

    I am in a weird/frustrating situation. My office does project feasibility assessments, and I’m the lead assessor for a project that did not originally look feasible. The clients were asking me (in a meeting that included my boss) how the assessment would change if various inputs from them were different. I could tell they wanted to game the system, but instead of just telling them “no, go make only realistic adjustments to your inputs and then I’ll get back to you,” I looked at my boss and thought from her face/body language that she was totally fine with this. (She’s usually pretty quick to jump in if she thinks projects are trying something hinky, even though it’s technically “my” meeting, and it has happened in the past that she approves things that seem weird to me.) So against my better judgement, I ran the hypothetical adjustments, and the next day they magically discovered that their actual real correct inputs just happened to be exactly what they needed to make it over the feasibility threshold!

    Then my boss told me later that I shouldn’t run hypothetical adjustments like that, but she let me as a “learning experience,” because I wouldn’t understand the problem with it otherwise. I’m annoyed because I knew *exactly* where it was going from the beginning, but I deferred to (what I thought was) her judgment. (I don’t know whether I misread her and she just didn’t stop me, or if she intentionally gave me go-ahead signals so that I would have this “learning experience.”) Do I just call it a learning experience about trusting my own judgment more, instead of the lesson she thought I needed about shady clients, and let it go?

    I’m worried I’ll end up with egg on my face when I present the assessment to other stakeholders, and I’m frustrated that my boss thought I was so naïve, and I’m annoyed that now I’m sort of stuck with these bogus inputs, and I don’t know how to untangle all these different concerns and figure out which, if any, would be useful to talk to her about. Help!

    1. Aquawoman*

      A couple thoughts. One, yes, trust your own judgment. Every time I’ve listened to someone else over my own (strong) better judgment, I’ve regretted it. Two, are you stuck with the adjustments? Or can you present them like, they made some adjustments but they’re not feasible, or something.

      I totally get your annoyance about what your boss did, and her follow-up was worse (if experience is the best teacher, then let the experience do the teaching and maybe just say, yeah, people will try to game the system if you give them an opening; her version was like, ha! sucker!). If you talk to her, I think I’d ask if she responded this way because of an issue she sees with your work.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      There’s a difference between letting your toddler run across the living room and fall on the carpet and letting your toddler fall down the basement steps. You are not a toddler, you are someone who should have had the higher up step in.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Oh man, I’m going to be in a similar position in a few weeks where I’m nominally in charge of making feasibility determinations but I have a senior colleague who’ll be in the room too. And a few people are going to push for an option that is just. not. feasible but it appears cheap! (Spoiler: it’s not cheap either)

      I think in this exact case, you have two possible options: 1) push back with the client about their provided hypotheticals and how were they so different from the initial inputs – basically make them walk back how they got to the threshold. Not sure if this is really an option as they could just claim the later numbers are totally real and you kind of have to take their word for it.

      2) Let it run its course and fail at a later stage. You only suspect they were attempting to game the system (and it definitely sounds like you’re right but it’s hard to prove), so go with a straightforward approach. You can only work with what you’re given. If they want to provide garbage inputs, that is going to go badly for them eventually but should not cost you anything but more time. At the very least, caveat the assessment with the stakeholders that the final numbers used were derived in a later iteration and only just made it across the threshold (stress that it didn’t meet the threshold originally). Your assessment here is objective and clear.

    4. designbot*

      It sounds to me like she may not realize how much you’re reading her for these subtle go-or-no-go assessments. I’d come clean to her that you feel you two often have slightly different judgements and you’ve come to rely on reading her in this way, and this experience has made you realize that not being explicit about doing that has some pitfalls. Lay it out and ask her how you two can read each other better on these issues.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, you should talk to her about the fact that you only agreed to the hypothetical because it appeared that she was encouraging you to do so.

        She probably believed that she was indicating to you that you should be the one to make the call. And you received that as meaning you should do the adjustment.

        Y’all need to figure out a way to use your words. If you can’t take a sidebar to confer quietly while the clients are in the room, then you need to agree in advance about the parameters and where you are in charge or not.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think I would make it a point to tell her, “I read your silence as I should do this. I did not think it was a good idea, but I did it because I thought you wanted me to do it. Going forward I will just speak my thoughts and I will trust you to use your words to agree or disagree with me. In the end, I try to be a good employee and I PREFER to do what the boss and company want me to do. Please use your words to tell me how best to help you and the company. As you can see, I don’t do my best work with non-verbal cues.”

      She may be used to having people speak their minds and she may actually prefer people to have well-thought out opinions and say those opinions out loud.
      Another good talking point for the two of you might be to discuss the limits of your authority. It’s okay to say that every boss has preferences and you would like to stick with her preferences. “What types of decisions to you prefer I do on my own and when would you like me to loop you in?”

      Honestly, from this one example I find your boss annoying. I hope this game of “Guess what I want you to do” does not continue. I would be sorely tempted to tell her not to waste my time like that. I guess I would say, “I cost the company money in terms of my labor and I would prefer to give the company the most I can for the dollars it pays me.”

  26. Gidget*

    I could use some perspective on my work situation (or maybe just a chance to vent, sorry this is so long). My job is a bad fit. I wish I had known about AAM when I was job searching. I am nearing the six-month mark in my position as a fed contractor. It seemed like a great fit on paper combining a lot of my skills even though it was tangential to my background (i.e. a STEM-related support position but not my field).

    I have struggled here for several reasons, but the biggest issue is that I have NO WORK TO DO. Within three months I had completed literally all the tasks on my statement of work except those that were time-bound to specific points in the annual cycle. To keep myself busy I have been creating all sorts of additional non-critical tasks, i.e. overly documenting everything I do, creating a database that no one is likely to use after I leave, doing a lot of research and training online about anything remotely related to my job, etc. But I am still left with ridiculous amounts of time to fill and am expected to be here a full 8 ½ hours every day.
    I have asked my direct supervisor multiple times for additional tasks or projects to work on. They insist they have many things I can do; they just need to figure out what to hand off. When my direct supervisor does come up with a task it is menial and takes me an hour at most (usually more like 15 minutes). I have also mentioned this to the department head… and still nothing. I thought they were assigning me menial tasks because they had concerns with my performance, but the minimal work I have done has been praised verbally as excellent by both my direct supervisor and the director.

    My actual work feels pretty pointless with no larger goal in mind. I mentioned to my direct supervisor I was struggling because I wasn’t sure if I was meeting their expectations or working to the larger goals they had in mind. The response was that this position had no long-term goals and we would just be focusing on short-term goals (this seems VERY short-sighted given the work we are supposed to be doing.)

    I am looking for ways out of this position, but they keep talking about all the things I will be doing in a year (time-bound activities that repeat annually, and which I have already planned to death because I have nothing else to do). I will admit I am worried about leaving because I think they will give me a hard time about being here for such a short period of time. Add to that, the pay/benefits are quite good. This job has added to my general lack of self-confidence and has lead me to fear that whatever path I take next might be a disaster as well, so maybe I should just stay.

    So, I guess after that long-winded post: has anyone been in a similar position, how did you deal? Also how does one deal with discussions about long-term projects which you are unlikely to be around to see to fruition? How do you keep a bad job from polluting your career/next-job outlook (besides counseling, already got that covered)?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ve been in my position for more than a year and still struggle with this. I did learn recently that the reason I don’t have enough work to do is because the person who was previously in this position was incredibly lazy and best friends with the former supervisor. Apparently she would complain about having too much to do and the supervisor would take things off her workload and give it to someone else. This imbalance has yet to be corrected though my current supervisor is aware of it and actively working to fix it.

      In the meantime, I spend a lot of time listening to audio books and podcasts. I spread out my work so that I generally have something I can work on.

      1. Gidget*

        Glad to know that there are other people in a similar boat. One of my related worries is that they actually think it takes me a really long time to do these simple projects/tasks– but then I realize because they lack my specific knowledge/skills it probably would take them a full week to do some of the tasks it takes me a day to do. *sigh*

        I have tried spreading out work. I definitely do a few things then take a blog break and then back to that task, because otherwise I would be even more board. In this case the lost time due to task switching is a benefit!

        I too have taken to the listening to lots of podcasts… I hope your work gets balanced out soon!

    2. Mindy St Claire*

      I was in an extremely similar situation 2 years ago. Combined with a supervisor and boss who wouldn’t ever talk and only communicated through email, which left me feeling exceedingly lonely in a new city.

      I don’t have great advice because my solution was to stick it out for one year, up my anti-depressants, and then transfer to another position with the City. Sorry you’re going though this. I know it can be so demoralizing!!

      1. Gidget*

        Maybe not advice but it’s good to know you got out in the end. The loneliness is definitely part of it too. I commute (was planning on moving to new city, but was very happy I didn’t after a little while on the job), so I am probably a lot more isolated from everyone else around here.

    3. Natalie*

      I will admit I am worried about leaving because I think they will give me a hard time about being here for such a short period of time.

      Who cares what they think? Assuming you ever have to interact with them again, they’ll get over it. If they don’t, believe me, everyone will understand that they are the ones being weird. People sometimes leave jobs after a short time.

      Add to that, the pay/benefits are quite good.

      Other jobs also have good pay and benefits. You’re not in an emergency situation, you can take your time and be choosy about your next job.

      This job has added to my general lack of self-confidence and has lead me to fear that whatever path I take next might be a disaster as well, so maybe I should just stay.

      You’ve really got this one backwards. Staying in this job is only going to deepen that feeling that this is the best that you deserve, and further trap you. It’s fucking poisonous. In my experience it really exacerbated my existing depression in a very dangerous and scary way.

      Smarter animals go crazy with nothing to occupy their mind all day, that’s why zoo animals get enrichment activities.

      Start looking for a new job.

      1. Gidget*

        Thank you. I guess I know all this, but I am definitely getting in my own way. It’s kind of like analysis paralysis. I think I should make your statement “Smarter animals go crazy with nothing to occupy their mind all day” into a t-shirt or inspirational poster. :)

        1. Natalie*

          I know when I was stuck there, taking small steps at first really helped me break out of my inertia. Also, fortifying your life outside work – try new hobbies, recommit to existing ones, house projects, any lingering health stuff you could treat? At one point I was filling up time going to PT for my ankle, since I could just leave in the middle of the day and no one would notice. (I was salaried so it didn’t affect my pay.)

    4. Weegie*

      I had a job like that, and started looking for an out after less than a year.

      In the 18 subsequent months it took me to get another job (in a different field) I spent my time in the office taking online courses, volunteering for stuff in my professional community, browsing the internet, writing a blog, writing a novel, crocheting in the office, crying in the office (I was SO bored and felt worthless!), annoying colleagues by distracting them from their work . . . and on, and on. At one point I simply didn’t show up in the office (I had my own office) for two weeks, and NO ONE NOTICED!

      When I finally started my new job I found it hard to stay on task. Still do, if I’m honest. Jobs like that are damaging – get out as soon as you can.

      1. Gidget*

        Ahh. This is somewhat my fear. I wish I could crochet in the office but that would not go well. What did you crochet? I hope it was like a whole afghan.
        The coworkers are a whole separate issue, if I had coworkers I trusted (too many weird passive aggressive and just full-on aggressive behaviors towards me) it would make the boredom easier. I am trying to transition into teaching, so at least there I won’t be sitting in front a computer all day, which well probably help me stay on task.

    5. CheeryO*

      Yes, my first job out of grad school was just like that, although they swore that they had long-term plans for me. I got out after six months. In the first days and weeks of my next (and current) job, it was like a light turned on that I didn’t even realize had been turned off. It sounds corny, but I quite literally felt my heart opening back up after I had closed myself off to protect my fragile self-confidence. That sounds dramatic, but jobs like that are so toxic.

      You should be selective in searching to make sure you aren’t going from the frying pan into the fire, but I would try to get out ASAP.

      1. Gidget*

        Yay, a success story. I think that’s part of it, coming from graduate school with so much intellectual freedom and stimulation to this is really kind of soul crushing.

    6. Uncivil Engineer*

      I’ve had two jobs like that. One previous occupant was lazy and had convinced my boss that he was overworked. I spent 6 months correcting everything that was wrong and then spent 1.5 years bored. I made up stuff to do. I tracked things that didn’t need to be tracked. I made unnecessary spreadsheets to organize things. I walked around to check on my staff 3x/day and just chatted with each one for a few minutes.

      After those 2 years, I transferred to another position. The previous occupant of this job wasn’t lazy but she made everything more difficult than it needed to be. The worst part was that she had convinced her staff that this was a normal workload. I spent 6 weeks getting the work back on schedule but retraining the minds of my staff is going much slower than I would like. I’m bored again. But now I’m bored in a different place. And, there was a 6 week flurry of activity when I moved so that was exciting. Now I’m back to making unnecessary spreadsheets and chatting with my new staff as I walk around to see how they’re doing 3x/day. I also plan entire vacations, take long lunches, and read electronic books on my computer (my monitor can’t be seen from the door).

      In both cases, I told my boss over and over that I needed more work. They always claim to have something for me and then it either doesn’t pan out or it takes 1 hr to complete.

      1. Gidget*

        It’s so frustrating isn’t it? I really struggled when applying to jobs because I felt like I wasn’t really qualified to do much, but my sheer level of boredom and the ease (at least to me) of the tasks that I completed have shown me that I guess I have way more skills than I realized, or at least when compared to other people.

        The funniest thing about my position is this is our busy time of year and yet I still have time to read all the AAM comments and reply…

        Being bored in a different place is a big fear, but would probably still be better, because at least then I wouldn’t be commuting. :/

        1. Uncivil Engineer*

          It is very frustrating. These are not entry-level jobs. These are positions high enough where technical work goes out with my name on it without my boss’s review because I am expected to know what I am doing (and I do).

    7. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Are there any committees in the organization that you could volunteer for? That might take some of your time. Also, you might want to see if you can use the time to cultivate relationships with colleagues all over the organization- this would expand your network and might also lead to a more interesting position internally. Is there anyone you might be able to help out with their projects? All of these activities might make the job more interesting while you also explore other options. Who knows- you might carve out a niche for yourself and decide to stay!

      1. Gidget*

        These are all great suggestions (and 100% what I did to fit in during grad school). And I totally would do them, but my department is weirdly insular. When I first started I wanted to talk to my counterpart in another department and I was told, “No, we don’t like them.” There are a number of committees here, but they don’t like assigning contractors to them, and I am so new they wouldn’t put me on them anyway.

        I definitely don’t plan on staying here… I was excited for this job even though it was a little outside my field of expertise but I quickly realized this field has no interest for me and its almost making me resent a whole field of science, so yeah.

    8. ACDC*

      I was at a contract position last year that had me doing NOTHING. My daily tasks were to print order forms at the end of each day (took approximately 15 – 30 minutes). I tried and tried to get more work, but I learned that the person who I was supposed to be alleviating from their insane work load had massive fears of obsolescence and being replaced by a younger person. I finished up my contract term with them but refused when they asked to extend my contract. I got through it by doing online courses, reading a lot of AAM, and taking walk breaks outside a couple times a day so I wouldn’t fall asleep on my keyboard.

      1. Gidget*

        LOL. I have definitely had to work on the not falling asleep at the keyboard thing. I take a lot of walks too.

        Unfortunately, my contract is an “indefinite” contract, so it ends when I either resign or they fire me. :/ At this point I am sort of hoping for a government shutdown (as terrible as that would be) so that I can have justification to leave. Ha. (only kind of kidding)

    9. alphabet soup*

      OMG are you actually me? The only difference is that I just started, but I worry I’m not going to make it to the six-month mark because of exactly the issues you outlined. I keep waiting for more work to come my way, but every task I’m given is incredibly simple and takes me 10 minutes to do, which leaves me with 7 hours to do… nothing.

      I’m going to try to stick it out a year. Like you, the pay and benefits are good. I also get awesome tuition benefits, so I’m going to do a certificate program, and then use it to apply to better jobs. So, if you have any perks like that available to you, that can be an option for filling up your time productively until you can find something better.

      Much sympathy!

      1. Gidget*

        Ha. I am not along in this boat. Honestly, one of the reasons I am going to make it to six-months is because this is our “big” deal time and I was hoping it would change my perspective. It has not and has really shown me that I need to be doing something else.

        Good idea on the certificate. Good luck on your next adventure!

  27. starrrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

    Does anyone have some good language for informing my co-workers that while I am now engaged, I won’t be changing my last name to his after we’re married and children are not a thing we’re doing? I’ve got a few well intentioned folk in my office and need some standard, friendly language.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I would make the announcement about the engagement and then if people ask questions or make inappropriate comments, give a breezy, off hand answer and change the subject. Then if they persist, you don’t need to be friendly.

    2. Bee's Knees*

      I think just a breezy, matter of fact, “No, I’ll be keeping my last name instead.” and for kids, “Not for us, I think. We have a dog/niece or nephew/houseplant to spoil though!” just as a sort of pivot, and that you do have something/someone to nurture.

      1. Carquals 229 Zulu 5*

        +100. Keep it easy and light there’s nothing to discuss and thank you for asking.

      2. Squeeble*

        Yep. Don’t bring these things up yourself, as it sort of invites questions, but if people ask “what’s your new name?” or “when are you gonna have kids?” just answer truthfully, breezily, and change the subject.

    3. Punk Ass Book Jockey*

      I got married two years ago, didn’t change my name, and don’t want kids. The great thing about living in 2019 is people don’t really bat an eye when I tell them I haven’t changed my name. It only comes up when I need to correct them.

      As for the kids thing, be prepared to get unfriendly. For some reason well-meaning people think it’s totally appropriate to ask you why you aren’t having kids, tell you you’ll change your mind, or pass some sort of judgment on you for making that decision. When someone asks if we’re having kids I’ll respond in a very straightforward way that doesn’t invite further conversation (“No, that’s not for us”), but inevitably the prodding will start. If I’m feeling nice, I’ll respond with “I’d rather not talk about my personal decisions at work.” On bad days, they’ll get, “I didn’t ask for your opinions on my personal life, thanks.”

      1. starrrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

        Yeah, the kids thing got weird REAL fast with one lady a long time ago when we were chatting about “futures”.

        1. Punk Ass Book Jockey*

          Our office manager called me selfish for not wanting kids. What do you even say to that? I just blinked and walked away.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Exactly – I lean into the whole “selfish” thing. It at least tends to shock people enough to make them pause.

              1. Natalie*

                It really works for any question with an accusation behind it – see the classic catcalling “you’re stuck up” or whatever. They are expecting you to want to fight the accusation.

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                I started doing this with charity muggers in the UK. They would say things like “but don’t you want to help? Can’t you spare just £x a day? You seem like such a lovely person” and other guilt trip nonsense. I like to say “actually I’m a selfish jerk and I don’t care about “. It’s generally not true but I absolutely hate that kind of begging.

          1. Spargle*

            “More selfish than forcing an entire person into existence just because you wanted to have an experience?”

            (No, I don’t actually think that about parenting. But assholes like that deserve the smackdown.)

            1. CM*

              I kinda do think that about parenting, and I’m a parent. It really does seem selfish that I had kids because I wanted to.

              One thing that works well for me in other contexts is just to keep repeating a cheerful “Nope!” with a smile on my face. No context, no followup. After a while they move on.

              1. Double A*

                Yeah, when people talk about how selfless parenting is I’m like…uh, it’s really not. You are most definitely getting something out of it. Which is fine! Just be real about it.

                Honestly having a kid has made me feel more selfish. And some of the worst, least just behavior people engage in is in the name of “doing anything for their kids.”

            2. Elizabeth Proctor*

              Right? It’s so odd. You could come up with arguments for why either is selfish. Could, but shouldn’t, because people should be able to make either choice without judgment.

            3. Clisby*

              I’m a parent, and that’s what I did. I mean, how many people have children for unselfish reasons? The idea seems very odd to me. I had my kids because I wanted them – isn’t that the best reason to have them? If I hadn’t wanted them, they wouldn’t have been born. I wouldn’t have been altruistic in either case; it all came down to what I wanted.

          2. CupcakeCounter*

            You office manager is the one who is being selfish.
            “I did this so you need to do it too so you can understand the misery of pregnancy, childbirth, and the responsibility of caring for something that is helpless and entirely dependent on you and is going to cost of fortune to keep alive and healthy as well as give you wrinkles and gray hair.”

            Yes I have a kid – he is 10. Love him to death and wouldn’t trade him for anything but its not for everyone. I also only had the one and chose to close up shop. Apparently to some people that is worse than not having any!

          3. Gidget*

            It’s like actually the opposite of selfish… I mean if we want to bring in like biology, genetics, and evolution into it. And you know considering the world is vastly overpopulated.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I’ll sometimes use this to turn it around on someone with the “selfishness” accusation. “I have severe depression, ADHD, and anxiety. Alcoholism runs in my family. I can barely take care of myself, much less another whole human being who’s entirely dependent on me. I think it would be far more selfish to subject a kid to this mess *gestures at self* than to refrain from doing so.”

      2. Liane*

        What is it with people who can’t keep from babbling Nosy Having Kids Questions/Opinions?
        I didn’t like them when I was leaning towards No Kids.
        I didn’t like them after I decided I did want 1 or 2.*
        And by the time I had a baby I downright hated them (still do) outside the context of private “Should we have another kid & if so when?” conversations with my husband.

        *Not implying starrrrrrrrrrrrrrr or PABJ (or anyone else) will change their minds. Just a bit of my story. :)

      3. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney*

        Are you comfortable turning it into a basically really inappropriate teaching moment? I’m super clear to people that I dislike children so I’m not anticipating these kinds of questions, but if they do come up, I’m prepared to respond to try to sort of course correct people away from this line of questioning so that, in the future, they don’t inadvertently ask that sort of question to someone who may, for example, have just had a miscarriage.
        Things like, “Are you aware how hurtful that sort of questioning could be for someone who has been trying and can’t? Or maybe just had a miscarriage? Family planning questions aren’t really appropriate unless someone brings it up themselves.”
        It’s super abrasive, but I’m starting to get extremely defensive of my poor friends and family who are struggling with it and dealing with these sorts of questions while suffering. :C

      4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Our group hired a young woman and she was asked about kids and she got “well, you’ll change your mind” from the oldest member of the group. Not pleased.

        1. Jadelyn*

          My manager once made that joke at a team lunch. I threatened to stab him with my fork. With my grandboss sitting across the table from us. (I wasn’t actually mad, it was genuinely in good fun bc we all know each other well enough to joke like that, but still.)

      5. Clisby*

        I’m 65 and didn’t change my name when I married. By then (1996) it wasn’t that uncommon, and only a few people asked me about it. I told them if my husband wanted us to have the same name, he was welcome to take mine.

    4. A teacher*

      Are those unusual choices where you are? But whether they are or not, you don’t have to announce anything. Just address it if it comes up. I am in the same boat (married 12 years ago) and sometimes people asked (‘does he mind?’ — wtf kind of question is that? ‘No, and I don’t mind he didn’t take mine!’ <—— That’s usually what I said, the three or four times I have been asked, in a very friendly tone.) but usually they didn’t. And it was never a big deal. Some people with very narrow lives had trouble wrapping their minds around it, but most people got it. I never had to be rude.

      1. starrrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

        Rural south, so while becoming less unusual, still a lot of older traditional folk at work.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A friend of mine used to do the total non-sequitur when asked what her new name is going to be. “I’m not changing my name. Did you know that Iceland still uses the patronymic, so a married couple with two children usually lists four last names on a wedding invitation?”

        2. ..Kat..*

          Since you are in the rural south, when it comes to questions about you having children, I recommend smiling and piously saying, “that’s in God’s hands.” That should save you a lot of lectures and debates.

    5. Box of Kittens*

      I got married a couple years ago and had this exact situation. I didn’t really say anything about my last name and it didn’t really come up, besides HR asking whether they needed to change my email and one random coworker who had a habit of being nosy. To the few others that asked I just said, “Oh, I’m keeping my own,” and moved on like someone suggested above. Most people don’t want to seem impolite and push it. As for the kids thing, I usually say, “Oh, I’m not a kid person” or “My cats are enough for me!” and eventually will get around and people will stop asking. It’s been said here before but as long as you act like it’s not a thing it won’t be a thing.

    6. Frank Doyle*

      Even though I was 99% sure I didn’t want kids, when people asked, I’d say “nah, not right now, but never say never!” I suppose it’s technically a lie, but if you leave the door open, then they have nothing to argue with, you know? And hey, if the superflu came through next year and everybody died but you and your partner, maybe you WOULD want to have kids, right?

      It’s a lot easier now that I’m 41 and my husband had a vascectomy.

      I also would deflect with the dog. “Do you have kids?” / “Naw, we have a dog though!” and talk about her for a while.

      As for the name change, do people think to ask? If they do they probably WANT to hear that you’re keeping yours; if they assume you’re taking his they probably won’t even think to ask. But just shrug and say you’re attached to it. Or you want to make sure professional contacts remember who you are. Just don’t make it seem like a big deal. I never got a ton of flack for either decision (except from my dad, but he’s finally figured both out) and I’m not sure if that’s the area (NE) or people I interact with, or because of my breezy demeanor. Just keep it light and usually people don’t press.

    7. Joielle*

      My favorite response to the name change thing is “Nope! We’re both keeping our names.” Just a little reminder that technically, he also could change his name to match yours, but he’s not, and neither are you.

      Personally, I usually go with “Not anytime soon!” for the kids question, which lets people make whatever assumptions they want. If you want to more explicitly communicate that you’re not ever having kids, I might say “Ha, probably not.” If that doesn’t do the trick… prepare to get unfriendly, as PABJ says :)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Weirdly I had to defend my decision to change my name, since I got married older and had a few (completely trivial) articles published under my birth name.
          “I never intended to change my name, but he’d never intended to wear a wedding ring, so we both get something we want.” My sister is the only one to push further, at which point I said “Fiance considered changing his name to mine, but we realized it would turn his name into [name of long-bankrupt company where our father lost 100% of his investment.]” She cracked up laughing and stopped bugging me. )

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I always like to ask “why”. No one has a real reason besides that’s just how we do things, and then I move into my diatribe that it’s pretty much only germanic languages that require it.

        a nice “cause I didn’t want to” also goes a long way. I like my name. I can trace it to Prussia in the 1500s. my husband doesn’t know where his grandfather is from.

    8. LawBee*

      I tell people that I don’t want to be a parent, that mine are wonderful but it’s not an experience I need to have to feel complete. The name change thing hasn’t come up bc so very single, but I wouldn’t anyway. I’ve been LawBee Last Name my whole life, why would I change that?

    9. halfwolf*

      dang, i don’t remember writing this comment! seconding those suggesting you keep it breezy, and offering solidarity from another newly-engaged person who will die with the last name i was born with and has no intention of having kids.

    10. Elizabeth Proctor*

      I would make it a point to say “Neither of us are changing our last name” instead of just saying that you aren’t.

    11. sacados*

      For anyone who you think would be particularly stubborn/shocked that a woman wouldn’t change her name, you could phrase it something like “I’ve decided to keep the same name professionally.” Especially if you work with clients/the public/etc where it would be a pain to correct over to the new name.
      Cause I know several women who actually did legally change their names but kept using the maiden name at work since that’s what everyone knew them by — and then if they changed jobs, would often start using their married name from the start at the new place.

      I mean, obviously you shouldn’t have to hide the fact that you aren’t changing your name. But if there’s anyone who you feel might give pushback and you just don’t want to deal with it, this could be good phrasing to misdirect them a bit.

    12. Clisby*

      Why would you need to inform them of either of these two things? I married in 1996, when I was 42, didn’t change my name, and never had anyone at work ask about it.

      Or, do you mean what you say if they ask you about these things?

      1) Husband-to-be is welcome to change his name to mine if he likes.
      2) If I ever get pregnant and decide to have the child, I’ll be sure to let you all know eventually.

    13. Michael Valentine*

      My mother-in-law would not leave me alone about changing my name. Coworkers would also ask a lot, saying I’d regret it, especially for the kids. I was like, well, I love a challenge! I love my name! It’s against my religion! The cats would be offended! I want to preserve my spot in the phone book! My responses got crazier, and folks stopped mentioning it.

      BTW, The only time it has EVER been an issue was when I needed something from the IRS–since I filed jointly, I had to look under my husband’s last name as he was the primary filer. Otherwise, it has been no trouble.

      1. Owler*

        My husband is not a junior, but he has the same first name as his dad (Jon A. Doe, and Jon A. Z. Doe). Even though I didn’t change my name, my MIL would constantly address any mail to “Mrs. Jon Doe” from “Mrs. Jon A. Doe” for a good couple of years before changing to use my actual name. She backslides occasionally; I just roll my eyes now.

  28. Wes*

    I think I made a big mistake, and I need some advice.

    I am a manager of an IT team in a big company. A couple of years ago, when I first became a manager, I “inherited” a guy from another manager who left, let’s call him Rick. Rick was a pretty good programmer, but openly ignored all the other aspects of the job. As well, he was also really weird around all of the women in the office. I ended up banning him from going to all team social events and put him on a PIP. He fought it by telling HR I was only going after him because he is Jewish, HR took my side. He ended up leaving a couple of weeks before the PIP ended.

    We’ve heard from him a few times since this happened (2 and a half years ago) because he’s told HR that I lie to companies he’s interviewing with that he was fired for misconduct. Fortunately I havent gotten in trouble for this (HR gives me warnings but they’re more a formality than anything else, because he has no proof) but it’s been annoying.

    So on Wednesday we had a department social and a few people who left were invited. One of them was Dmitry, a guy who left a little before Rick. Dmitry asked why Rick wasn’t invited and because I had a couple drinks, I said he was fired for sexual harassment. Dmitry seemed pretty surprised and he said he’s kept up with Rick and he’s given Rick good references.

    Basically as soon as I said this, I felt worried it’d come back to bite me. And yesterday, I got a notification that he viewed my profile on LinkedIn. I’m worried that Dmitry has told Rick what I said and I’m gonna get fired.

    So what can I do now?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      It’s true that when you know a former employee is probably litigious its better not to get drawn into discussions about them. I guess the good news is, it’s only Dmitry’s recollection – in a bar setting – that you’re facing. There was nothing in writing. If you’re challenged on it, there’s gotta be ambiguity around what was actually said.

      Uuh, I hope you changed identifying details in this post :P

      1. voyager1*

        I would stop giving references about Rick and just refer anything to HR. Everywhere I have worked HR departments handles that not individual managers. Granted I have s worked almost exclusively in banking so….

    2. Sam Sepiol*

      HR gives you warnings?!
      You’re telling the truth and only the truth, right?
      The truth is an absolute defence but I’d still be concerned in your shoes. I hope it comes to nothing :-|

      1. Anon for now*

        It sounds like rounding up to me. He was not technically fired since he was on a PIP and quit. In the future you may want to stick strictly to the facts so that it is easier to defend yourself. Depending on company policy it seems like it would be fair to mention that there were issues with sexual harassment that you were in the process of addressing when he quit.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        They probably have a company policy that current managers are not allowed to give references on previous employees. My last two companies had this stance, with the former specifically stating that anyone caught violating this policy could be written up or terminated.

          1. Robert*

            I’ve seen it at every company I’ve worked at, aside a 10 person startup I worked at for a bit.

            My understanding is that two big reasons companies have this rule are:

            1. In general, companies don’t want Joe Employee speaking for them unless Joe Employee’s job is branding, PR, social media, or something like that. My current employer has a ton of language in the employment agreement/handbook/etc. about not presenting yourself as a representative of the company on social media.
            2. It might help to minimize their legal “attack surface,” so to speak. There’s no perfect way from stopping a boss from sabotaging an employee they hate, even after the employee’s left. But in a case like this, it probably helps if the company’s lawyer can say “that’s a violation of policy XYZ in the Company Employment Agreement, so we’ve parted ways with Wes.” Of course, companies can fire for anything (aside whistleblowing, being a member of a protected class, and probably one or two more things I’m forgetting) but being able to say that this is explicitly forbidden behavior would help.

            But I’m neither an HR specialist or employment law specialist.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              This is the exact reasoning they do this – fear of litigation. No one wants to be bothered with a defamation suit, so companies have started telling their HR departments to handle all reference requests and only verify dates of employment, job titles, and whether or not the employee is eligible for rehire.

              That being said, I know many managers and supervisors who ignored this rule and did it anyway, but only for employees they really liked and were going to say nothing but positive things about.

    3. WellRed*

      Are you being contacted by these companies? If so, can you decline to provide a reference? Which is an answer in itself. Not clear what HR is warning you about or why they haven’t shut this down. I assume the sexual harassment was documented? I also agree with Sloan.

      1. Wes*

        Nobody’s contacted me asking for a reference for Rick, and I’m not stupid—I wouldn’t give one.

        The two times I had to meet with HR and legal they said it was precautionary, and I followed their instructions. Nothing good can happen if I say anything about him, which is why I’m so worried about the other day. He has a persecution complex and could come after me.

        TBH, no one directly came to me about Rick being a creep, but I have reason to believe he made the women in our department were made uncomfortable by him on several occasions. He gives off real creepy vibes and I’m surprised he managed to land the good job he has now.

        1. Anon for now*

          Giving off creepy vibes is not the same as being fired for sexual harassment! What is your relationship with Dmitri? You may want to reach out to him and straighten out the record if you can do so without further violating company policy.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So, this is maybe a serious problem. You said he got fired (he didn’t) for sexual harassment (when it sounds like there were no sexual harassment complaints). If Dmitri is willing to verify to your company that you said that, they’d legitimately have a serious issue here. (And Rick absolutely has a valid beef here.) I don’t think you’re going to get fired over this, but I’d be prepared to be in some serious trouble for it. And you really need to change what you’re saying about the circumstances that Rick left under. It’s not right to say someone got fired when they didn’t. You can say you were on your way to firing him when he left because that’s true.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Also — at this point the right thing to do is to tell your company because you’ve opened them to legal liability here and they shouldn’t be blindsided by that. You can explain that in your head you think of him as a harasser and you were on your way to firing him, so that’s why it came out that way, but that it was thoughtless and you were wrong to say it that way. You can say the previous complaints he made were false, but this one you actually did get wrong.

            1. CM*

              Yes, tell HR and follow their instructions.
              The consequences are likely to be worse for you if your company finds this out through Dmitry or a third party instead of you confessing.
              Also, if I were your HR, I would be very skeptical that you were telling the truth about the previous incidents when Rick accused you of saying he was fired for sexual misconduct. So you should be prepared with as many details as possible, and be totally honest and straightforward — the more you cover up, the more doubts there will be about your credibility. Try to tell them exactly what you said to employers previously, and explain exactly what you said to Dmitry and why you said that. Leave out all the parts about Rick’s persecution complex and how HR is annoying — you need to accept responsibility for lying in a way that could create liability for the company, and that means not blaming anybody else or trying to cast doubt on their actions.

          2. sacados*

            Is it really a potential liability since this was just casual talk between two former coworkers at a social event?
            Unless I’m misunderstanding, it sounds like Wes has not been telling recruiters/reference checkers that Rick was fired for harassment — he just said that to Dmitri at the social.
            Just curious, since I would assume that doesn’t rise to the level of anything actionable.

            1. Zelda from Zelda*

              IME, when you’re a manager of people, or you worked with someone who left under difficult circumstances — in other words, discrimination or harassment complaints, or some other sort of wrongful termination type lawsuit — HR and legal will instruct you to not speak about the person who left, among other things, like being ordered to retain communication relating do the person who left, etc. Even if literally nothing comes from the drunk talk, HR would still be very upset to hear of it.

              It’s evident that this guy Rick feels he was screwed over by the OP Wes and/or their company. He’s at least made complaints to them that Wes is defaming him in reference checks, so if this gets back to him he’s going to do something.

              1. Zelda from Zelda*

                By “at least,” I mean that Rick might’ve also made an EEOC complaint or something else.

        3. Former Govt Contractor*

          HR warned you twice before you bold faced lied to Dmitri, you should expect to be fired for this.

          1. All identifying remarks removed*

            +1 you lied about someone being fired for sexual harassment – that bell can’t be unrung. You should be fired for this.
            And I don’t believe Dmitri is going to keep quiet about your lie – that’s the kind of thing people will repeat.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Whoa…yeah you did mess up big time
      Rick wasn’t fired for sexual harassment so you absolutely cannot say that to anyone. It is simply not true.
      Its not clear if you have been talking to these companies Rick is interviewing with in either a formal or informal setting but if you are saying anything you absolutely need to STOP. How is HR giving you warnings if you haven’t been talking? Or is it more of a “Hey Rick called again and says you’ve been saying X so we need to be really clear that you cannot say anything at all about Rick’s employment and just send the call straight to us and we will handle it from there”?

      Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if you did get fired for this – especially after so many conversations with HR about Rick – so your best bet is to go to HR and tell them what happened at the bar. And never tell anyone ever again that Rick was fired – he left while on a PIP which is entirely different and there was never an accusation of sexual harassment.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The thing is that he wasn’t fired…he left voluntarily even though the writing was on the wall that the next step would have probably been termination.

      That’s enough of a lie to really get some employment lawyers salivating if Rick decides to dig into it. That’s an opening.

      It doesn’t matter that it’s Dmitry’s word against yours in the end. If he swears to it in documentation for the courts, that’s enough, then you will either need to perjure yourself to dig out [which will probably come out because the more lies pile up, they’ll find them with enough investigation], it is just an ugly spiral.

      You’re a manager, so you are actually not just opening up your company for a lawsuit, Rick can name you personally responsible for this in his lawsuit, so it could come down to him winning a case naming Company and You, his Manager, as the defendants. Your company has those warnings on file so they are covering their own tails and they will use them to throw this into a “Wes did it, this is all on Wes, we wash our hands of it.” so if they do end up firing you [which they may do given the gravity of the situation], they will be off the hook for the damages, they’ll all fall on you directly.

      This is the dangers of being in management and not taking those training sessions on keeping your cards close to your vest and being buttoned up when you’re talking about employee situations. Never ever speak about a former or current employee out of turn and share anything you wouldn’t say directly to a judge or the police.

      1. Zelda from Zelda*

        This seems a little dramatic and exaggerated to me?

        IANAL, and Wes seems like kind of a bad guy (saying a Jewish guy has a “persecution complex” in the current political climate is a bad look—really makes him look worse given everything else here) but I don’t see him being driven to living in a cardboard box and eating instant noodles over this. He said he was a new manager 2.5 years ago, so unless he’s a Hearst or Hilton slumming it, an employment lawyer probably isn’t gonna encourage Rick to go after him, because he probably doesn’t have enough money to make suing him rather than the company, or both him and the company, worth it. Also, what are the damages? If Wes said this to a background checker looking to make a decision on hiring Rick, and Wes lying (because he’s lying, and maliciously so), there’d be evident damages.

        Please understand, I’m not defending Wes. IMHO he should be fired and he should see this as a come-to-Jesus moment. If this doesn’t totally incinerate his reputation at that company, then I want to know that company’s name so I never work there for another Wes.

        Hopefully he takes it as a serious sign he needs to take a look at himself. Wes doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who should have power over other peoples’ paychecks.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          The damage isn’t done by a massive payout. It’s done by having a harassment and defamation conviction. It’s not all about the money. It’s to ensure this doesn’t happen to another person.

    1. Sharkie*

      You can share mine! It is currently about 63 in my office because the sensor is in direct sunlight. I am freezing!

    2. Ricky Bobby said so*

      Dear Baby Jesus

      Please lay Your hands on the AC unit. Give it life and light, let it be glorious in its cooling functions.

      In your name. Amen.

      1. Liane*

        LOL
        My church has done 1) Call AC company, 2) Pray they get here fast and the fix ISN’T “Died & gone to Heaven. New unit will cost [half of Buildings/Maintenance budget]”

        Seriously, Seifer, I hope it gets fixed & the heat wave goes away. (In Arkansas, on third day of Heat Advisories, with AC that barely keeps up.)

        1. Seifer*

          Thanks! It got fixed but it’s still SO humid in here. We got heat advisories too. Like… my coworker and I thought about using them as an excuse to call in. The news said that if you don’t need to be outside, don’t be, and I don’t really NEED to be in the office today. Alas, we were thwarted.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And may your smoke&heat detectors be set to high enough temperature that they don’t go off if your steeple reaches chicken-cooking temperatures.

    3. Bee's Knees*

      I think our office is coming in at about 65, and 60 in the bathroom. And then it’s 104 out on the floor.

      1. Mockingjay*

        May I suggest lollipops? They have handles to avoid sticky fingers and come in many flavors. (I love chocolate, but it can be messy when even slightly warmed.)

        1. Mockingjay*

          And… this was supposed to be nested directly below with JustaTech. Thank you for flickering, my dear cheap monitor.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            But you know… if the workspace is a miserable temperature, lollipops might at least sooth the soul. ;)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      In the Midwest here too; it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so damn humid. Oh well.

      1. Seifer*

        YES, THE HUMIDITY. The heat is okay but it’s the humidity that’s getting to us. The AC got fixed however it is taking some time to come back down to temp. So… we stole fans from downstairs.

        1. Kat in VA*

          When growing up in Southern California, I remember actively being outside and doing things in triple digit weather.

          Now that I live in the DC metro area? It’s already 90 degrees at 10:00AM and it’s SWELTERING. I have a pool and a decent AC (and allll the curtains are closed) but I’m concerned about folks who don’t have AC/have insufficient ACs. I am hoping they take advantage of cooling centers and the like.

          There’s always the possibility of a power outage. Glad it’s only two days. The headsnapping transition occurs on Tuesday with a high of 78. It’s going to feel freezing (and glorious).

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Seriously, HVAC that isn’t built to withstand the heat y’all are gonna get is going to crap out *sobs* So I’m glad yours is fixed but I’m seriously concerned about the citizens over there, these heatwaves are known to be deadly =(

    6. Jaid*

      Does your office maintenance have a portable A/C unit around? That’s what my apartment complex office does when a tenant’s A/C is down.

  29. JustaTech*

    Questions about presenting at a conference:

    I got accepted to present a poster at a scientific/industry (yay!) in two months and I have two questions for the commentariate:
    1) The conference has asked for a headshot and a bio. I don’t have a professional headshot (they’re not common at my level) so should I go with my LinkedIn photo (very nice, but more of a portrait than a headshot) or should I have a friend take my picture headshot-style (pearls, white shirt, black blazer)?

    2) My poster presentation time is right before dinner on the second day of the conference, so I’m guessing people will be hungry/thinking about food. Should I have a bowl of Hershey kisses at my poster to entice people to read it, or is that unprofessional?

    Thanks!

    1. Adlib*

      For #1, I think you’d be okay with your LinkedIn photo if you are recognizable and it’s a good picture of you so people will know you on site.

      For #2, YES to all the candy! I love vendors/presenters who have food at their table. People love free food.

      1. OtterB*

        Agreed re #1, it’s to help people recognize you, so anything recognizable and not unprofessional is fine.

        Re #2, don’t overthink it. If you want to put out candy, do. If you don’t, don’t. Some people will enjoy it. Others won’t care. It won’t look unprofessional unless you go over the top (cupcakes with your institution logo, for example, or pressing passers-by to take some).

        1. JustaTech*

          My only real concern about the chocolate is that I’ll just be standing at a poster, so there won’t be a table or anything. Maybe a paper bowl push pinned to the poster?

          1. OtterB*

            In that case it might be best to just skip it. I’m having trouble picturing anything that would be easy for people to help themselves.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            If there’s no table or other place to put food, I wouldn’t suggest trying to make a place to put food giveaways on your poster. You want your poster to be designed to make it easy to talk about whatever your poster presentation is about, and having something that sticks out and people might bump into and knock things on the floor from would work against that. If the organizers aren’t giving you a place to put it, you’re not expected to bring food.

            If you’re not used to scientific poster presentations and what to expect at them (and what posters for them should look like), that might be something to research a bit. You can probably find information targeted at grad students in your field going to their first poster sessions at conferences. Some of that won’t apply to you because you’re further along in an industry career rather than starting out in academia, but it might give you a useful window into what this typically looks like.

            (Less importantly for this specific thing, but if you’re tabling in a situation where it might make sense to have food, like a trade show or something, you should also check with the venue about any food restrictions. A few events will forbid food giveaways entirely, and others will have rules about wrapped/unwrapped, or no gum, or nothing from certain categories of food that compete with on-site food service vendors, or other various things. I always try to check with the event about food giveaways specifically when I’m clearing up things about badges/hours/policies/etc. during the planning process if I’m going to be running a promotional table.)

            If you have a heart for the ridiculous and really want to do a food giveaway, however, I think a Lollipop Tree would be the way to go here in terms of space configuration and dispensing issues. You could get a foam pyramid (other other shape for a less treelike “tree”), put it on a base so it’s at a suitable height when set on the floor, poke lollipops end-first into the foam, and let people pick lollipops off the tree. This seems to me like it would be seen as really, really odd at a poster talk, though. You would probably be known as “that person who brought a lollipop tree to the conference” from then on. You know your industry norms better than I do, though.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve read enough on this forum to suggest you use *wrapped* candy so no one has to wonder about the great unwashed.

    2. RemingtonTypeType*

      I’d put together a real headshot.

      I had to do the same thing when I found out my photo would be on posters and materials for an event, and I did not want to be the gal with a blurry hiking photo against all of the other headshots.

      I ended up doing it myself by arranging bunch of lamps around me and sitting on the floor against my white wall. I set up a camera on a tripod and used the timer setting. It took about 15 minutes, and if you have a friend that can help you it will go even faster! Remember to keep your makeup and clothes fairly neutral.

    3. OperaArt*

      For a poster presentation at a science/tech conference, your LinkedIn photo should be fine.
      As much as I love chocolate, I’d still skip the Hershey kisses. That might look more like something a vendor would do. And if you appear to be young and female, definitely skip the chocolate—be seen as the professional expert rather than the nurturer.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s my thought too – I wander through the poster sessions at conferences and don’t recall ever seeing any kind of treat by specific posters. Business cards or 1-page handouts, yes. Also, there may be snacks and drinks provided by the conference itself to bring people into the room in the first place, but that may be conference-specific.

    4. Auntie Social*

      Do your passport photos come out okay? Because that’s kind of what you need. If you’re going with a snack, pretzels or chips (smallest snack size) are better before dinner than chocolate.

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      My husband’s conference headshot was, for many years and may still be, one of our posed wedding photos that I heavily cropped and resized into the correct specs for a headshot.

    6. Another PhD student*

      If you want to do a headshot-style photo, they’re pretty easy to do! I did them recently for myself and my partner just using a cell phone and a white wall at a time of day where there’s a bunch of natural light in the room I used. I then put them into my computer, cropped them, and used whatever the standard Microsoft Office photo editing tool is that comes with Windows and had it do its standard fix. I was surprised by how good they came out – I’m sure a professional could do better, but this was good enough that I feel no need to bother.

      Regarding poster presentations and food – I haven’t personally seen anyone do this before at a conference due to a lack of tables at poster sessions I’ve attended. I’d also be a bit wary of the young-female-with-candy optics that others mentioned. That being said, as a young female in my field, I’d also love some candy at a poster session so your mileage may vary!

    7. JustaTech*

      Thanks so much everyone for the advice!
      I’ll skip the snacks (I also just figured out this is the only poster session, so people will be less likely to ditch for drinks).

      Now if only I could convince my boss^3 that I don’t need to learn a whole new graphing software…

  30. Youth*

    At my new job, we have a big E-A-T initiative. I ‘m expected to both provide expert commentary for other publications’ content and get expert commentary for my site’s articles. Part of the initiative requires me to use HARO both as a reporter and as a source.

    I’d love to hear from anyone who has tips and tricks for using HARO from either end of the equation!

    1. WellRed*

      Do you *have* to use HARO to get comments from others? I’ve never used it, I just go straight to the source/expert/communications person.

      1. Youth*

        Not necessarily, but so far, contacting people directly has yielded so-so results. Sending out calls for information on Instagram has been more successful.

    2. Alphabet Pony*

      It matters most to reporters if you get back to them quickly, answer what they actually asked and don’t offer them other random crap just in case they’re interested (they’re not).

    3. Alphabet Pony*

      Oh and as a reporter, be as specific as you can about what you need and when. Don’t just say you need stuff on x topic – say what eg a 50-word comment about x and y, with a name, pic and two-line bio, or a phone to discuss z. Give enough info that someone could fulfil your request in response. That weeds out some of the useless stuff.

  31. Project manager*

    I have a coworker who I do not manage. But I have seniority and input on her reviews and projects because I am a manager in the department. Her boss and I are on the same level and report to the same person. She comes to me with questions and works on my projects. She has been here for two years. I supervisors other, but not her.

    She is incredibly rules oriented, and I don’t know how to steer her away from it, because it’s just how her brian works. We have rules, but we also have some flexibility and discretion on when to waive. I’ll try to be like ‘I would let it go, it’s not important’ but she just responding that it’s policy and she doesn’t understand when she has to follow rules. I know her boss backs me up. i just don’t know how to explain how to have judgement to her, especially when she resists so much. She’s just a letter of the law type person.

    If there is every conflating information, like one person would do it one way, and one the other, she always tries to figure out who is right, when really it’s just a difference of opinion.

    How do we manage her out of this? Is it possible?

    1. fposte*

      Can you clarify the ways in which this is causing a problem? I can’t tell if this means she’s taking too much time, or following procedures that aren’t actually best practices, or just being annoying.

      Obviously you have some limits if she doesn’t report to you, but I think you can explain (assuming it’s correct) that the rules aren’t laws–they’re just things that got written down to guide people, and sometimes the work changes in ways the rules haven’t caught up to or the rules don’t anticipate a particular situation. You can also note, if it’s relevant, that desired completion time is a really important metric that also needs to be considered.

      1. Auntie Social*

        And that people are hired for their good judgment, and there’s a little flexibility in X and Y areas. Maybe you can ease her out of being so rigid by saying we need to follow rules in A, but here we have some leeway. Baby steps.

      2. Project manager*

        It’s causing a problem because it is out of step with the way her manager, I , and other managers want to run the department.

        We work in a big institution that has a lot of policies and procedures that are not followed, mostly because they were written in 1952 and never updated. I don’t want to be overly ridged on stuff that has no consequences. Unfortunately, there are often political situations with certain clients were they are allowed to bend he rules, which isn’t my doing, it is far above me. She struggles with both set of circumstances. She also works on my projects, so I do have control over her work and the ability to give her feedback or recommend disciplinary action to her manager, although I don’t think that rises to that level.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Is it reasonable or possible to update those procedures? Does she struggle with not having documentation to follow when she has questions? Is there any way to create documentation, even if it’s quick and informal?

        2. fposte*

          Right, but specifically what is the negative impact? When she struggles, what is the result? Is she taking longer than she should? Is her product not as desired? Is she giving clients problematic information? Do you have to redo her work?

          I’d keep whatever that negative impact is at the forefront of the discussion, so it’s not just about “Change your philosophy” but “Your work is causing these specific problems.”

        3. Beatrice*

          I have one of these. We have guidelines around how we serve our customers and the things we will and won’t do and the things we’ll do for free and what we’ll charge for. Making them comprehensive to cover every conceivable situation isn’t possible or necessary – they’re just there to keep our workload sane and control costs and make sure we’re profitable, but there’s wiggle room everywhere. We bend the rules in situations where we’re trying to make up for a failure on our part somewhere else, and we’ll just about snap the rules in half for some of our biggest customers.

          She really struggles with having rules but being empowered to bend them. I’ve made sure that enforcing the rules is not a part of her goals or her bonus structure in any form, and I’ve given her some specific goals around approachability and flexibility, because those things have been a problem. And because bending rules means more work for her, I’ve taken more steps to make sure she has some flexibility to say yes in her workload. I think that’s helped, but it’s still a work in progress. She’s stopped getting noticeably emotionally agitated when someone asks for an exception, and she’s stopped asking me to PUNISH THE RULEBREAKERS, so that’s a good thing.

          Some people are just naturally very rules-oriented and enjoy learning and applying complex/firm rules. That skill can be useful in some roles, too, so it might make sense to think about where her natural inclinations might be a strong fit.

    2. Also a project manager*

      I used to be your coworker. Would it be possible to have a retrospective where everyone gets together to discuss a recent project or a certain situation around these rules and your coworker can see, hear, and start to learn rules vs. best practice vs. guidance? Based on what you wrote, it sounds like she’s being informed in 1:1 situations but that approach doesn’t seem to be working for her.

      The other thing I would advise is checking in with her (or having her supervisor check in with her) about her workload or her stress level. She may be overworked or stressed out and cling so tightly to the rules could be a sign that she is overloaded and doesn’t know how to dig out of it.

      1. designbot*

        I like the notion of asking her questions that may uncover where this is coming from. Another thought of where it could be coming from is that if she reports to multiple different people (or works with but doesn’t report to but has to listen to, which is its own tangled web), and they have differing interpretations and levels of adherence to rules, her ability to judge this for herself may be at its capacity. As someone who has 10 different bosses, plus works with people above my level in other departments who get to have their own takes on these things, I know that I can sometimes just become exhausted by it and default to the most by-the-book position. I wonder if that may be a contributing factor for this employee?

    3. Anon for now*

      Tell her that you are making a judgement call and that if she gets in trouble for it she can always point to the email and you will take any blame. That doesn’t fix the larger problem but can at least short circuit the pushback.

    4. Aquawoman*

      I’d just describe your own ability to waive certain rules as another rule. She’s not making the decision, you are. Offer to send her an email so she can document it if she wants to.

    5. KX*

      Can you provide her a decision tree to follow? That is a kind of rule that includes, at some points, Be Flexible Do What Makes Sense, Move On.

    6. Alphabet Pony*

      When I went from a job where I had to keep all rules and policies to one where I could use my judgement, something that really helped was getting a list of examples from my manager of the sorts of situations when she would and wouldn’t expect me to use my judgement.

    7. A Frayed Knot*

      What is Hypegiaphobia?
      Hypegiaphobia is the fear of responsibility. The origin of the word hypengy is Greek (meaning responsible) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Hypegiaphobia is considered to be a specific phobia. Hypegiaphobia is also called Hypengyophobia or Hypengiaphobia.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Well, over the long term if she does not sort this out then she won’t be able to stay in the job. She could end up feeling like she does not understand her work and never will.

      For the shorter term, I have worked with many people who need to be shown how to make judgement calls. Or so it seems to them that they have to decide what to do each time.
      You already gave one starting point here for conversation. You can start your explanation by saying some of the policy rules were written in a different era and suited the needs of that era. However, times have changed and different responses are necessary.
      And you can go example by example. “In situation X policy says do ABC that no longer works because of changes xyz so now we do DEF. No one updated the policy so you won’t find it in the policy manual. ”
      When faced with a parallel situation don’t be afraid to say, “We talked about this before. This is where we do DEF.” Notice how much shorter it is the second time you explain.

      As far as choosing who is right and who is wrong. explain to her that this happens often in work places. For Task A some people use Method B and others use Method C as long at they arrive at End Item D all is well. When faced with two conflicting methods of doing something I usually try to pick the method the boss prefers.
      But I have had two-faced bosses who will favor Method B one day and Method C the next day. In that case I go with what most of the people around me are doing and getting good results each time.

      You can tell her that indecision about which method to use will hold her back in the long run. It’s a good idea to realize there is more than one way of doing something and she needs to pick a method and do it the same way consistently. If your group has a method that is used most often, be sure to tell her this is what everyone else is doing so she can be in sync with their methods.

      But, yeah, either she sorts this or she drowns in doubt and second guessing. If this does not improve at least somewhat, then you can start telling her that she needs to take her questions to the boss because you don’t seem to be that much help to her.

  32. LGC*

    Okay, so I’m dealing with an Office Pooper scenario again. But this time, the office pooper is a different gender! For reference, I’m male, and our office has two shared single gender bathrooms (one each for men and women) on each floor.

    The women’s restroom has been…having issues. We know who the “culprit” is – there have been multiple complaints, including to me directly. The person in question (who is subordinate to me) has been having medical issues recently. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to come out and say that’s what’s up.

    But is there anything else I can suggest to deal with it? We have a pretty high strung team to begin with. I’ve been watching the Poo Pourri ad, but for VERY OBVIOUS REASONS dropping a bottle on her desk would not go over well.

    1. Rebecca*

      You could get Poo Pourri for each bathroom, put it on the back of the toilet, with a little sign “please spray into bowl when you poo” or something along those lines. At my office, someone sent an email stating that Poo Pourri was now available in the bathrooms encouraging its use. That way, the culprit isn’t singled out.

      1. Jadelyn*

        That’s what happened when the fan unit in the women’s room broke at my office. There’s poo pourri in each stall now and emails every so often reminding us to use it.

    2. Colette*

      Are the issues just smell? If so, tell those complaining to cut it out and put poo pourri in the bathroom.

      If there are cleanliness issues, you probably have to talk with your subordinate and ask her to be vigilant about leaving the bathroom clean.

    3. fposte*

      So what *is* up? Is it just that her poo smells especially bad? What action are people requesting here? I gotta say, my impulse is to tell complainers that the bathroom is being used for its intended purpose and you approve of that.

      You can always just put the Poo Pourri in the bathroom and see what happens rather than giving it to an individual. If there’s poor ventilation in the bathroom, can you look into getting a fan or a better fan?

      1. Anon for now*

        Yeah. Unless the bathroom is becoming unusable I would probably say “It’s the bathroom. People poop in bathrooms and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not going to tell someone they can’t use the bathroom when they need it so I’m not sure what it is you expect me to do.”

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        “….the bathroom is being used for its intended purpose and you approve of that.”

        You are on point as usual, but wow, would that be hard for me to say with a straight face.

    4. LGC*

      So, air freshener/Poo Pourri it is! Only problem is I’d have to convince upper management to let us order it (if you’ve read the articles about Facebook mods…my office can be a bit like that), since I don’t want to stock it out of my own pocket for everyone.

      1. Poo pourri expert*

        You only need one per bathroom! Not one per person. Just leave it on the top of the tank. Sounds like you’d only need two bottles.

        1. LGC*

          …I should also mention that my floor has about 80-100 people on it, and things can tend to grow legs. (I did say that we have a “call center”-like setup!)

          Actually: how long would a bottle last for 50 people? I’d imagine that even if no one took it, it’d go quickly!

          1. Dr. Anonymous*

            Pointedly ask everyone who complains about the poop smell to pony up for a bottle.

      2. Rovannen*

        In our workplace, air fresheners set off the fire alarm if sprayed upwards. We had to put a sign on the can to please spray downwards.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Be aware that air fresheners and other scented products may cause issues for other employees as well.

        I have trouble with scents, and may be unable to use a poorly-ventilated restroom for a while after an air freshener has been sprayed in it. (Breathing trouble, so not really an option to just “ignore” or “suck it up” for the length of a restroom visit.) If everyone starts spraying after their restroom use, I may be effectively unable to use that restroom anymore.

        I don’t enjoy the smell of actual restroom use, but if it’s smelling like that or me not being able to breathe, I’m on team bodily stench.

        1. Gatomon*

          I struggle with air fresheners too. I wonder if a cup of vinegar might help? Kind of odd, but it’s pretty effective at getting rid of odors and wouldn’t require spraying.

  33. Jimming*

    Who else is waiting to hear back about a job interview? I had a few rounds of interviews recently and I’m trying to follow Alison’s advice to put it out of my mind but it’s so hard not to think about it. I don’t really have a question, just a short vent and understanding to anyone in the same situation.

    1. irene adler*

      Yep!
      Had two recently. One was an on-site and the other was phone interview.
      The phone interviewer told me they’d get back to me by Wed (17 July). And she assured me that she was moving my resume on to the next round. So, here it is 19 July and… nothing.

      The on-site was two weeks ago. She did a lot of “what we want in a candidate” talking. I’m never really sure how to respond to such things. As she didn’t really give me an opportunity to respond, I figured I should just acknowledge what she said with the occasional nod. Was I supposed to interrupt her and explain that I understood what she was relaying to me and then offer examples of how I met the criteria she was explaining? I was left with her wanting me to interview with the Q. Engineer and then upper management (who all reside far away). Sounded hopeful to me. But then… nothing. (Yes, I sent the thank you note the very next morning.)

      1. Jimming*

        Maybe she wasn’t a good interviewer? That’s weird. But it sounds like she wants to have someone else meet with you, maybe they’ll be better at it.

        I feel ya, tho. Two days in job interview time is like two weeks for the job seeker! I’m trying to remind myself to be patient but I’m the type of person who gives birthday presents as soon as I buy them because I can’t wait! Haha.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Not interviews, but applications. I keep getting rejections a month after I’ve already written someone off for not replying.

      1. The Most Prolific Author of All Time*

        Rejection buddy! But infinitely preferable to silence for me.

    3. Watermelon M*

      Not at the interview stages yet, but waiting to hear a yes or no from some applications!

    4. TPS Cover Sheet*

      I’ve got two, other one for the second round and the other one is to hear the ”we are sorry”… (I’m an eternal pessimist so I ever get happy surprises). The thing was I was going to hear ”by the end of the week” which didn’t happen. So another weekend of just vegetating ahead…

      1. Jimming*

        I’m with ya…I’d rather know for sure I didn’t have a position than be in limbo. Once I have the information I can plan but until then there’s too many variables and I drive myself nuts.

        Glad I’m not alone!

    5. College Career Counselor*

      YES. Solicited out of the blue about two months ago, very rush-rush, for a process that had actually started weeks before, so they were understandably in a hurry. Crickets since then.

    6. LALAs*

      I had an interview for a job that should be a dream but I heard some concerning things from someone who had the job before. I went into thinking that I still wanted the job and walked out of the interview not sure if I want it at all. And the interview didn’t feel very good. I am conflicted in whether I want to be advanced to the next round or not.
      Luckily, I have a job and this isn’t a dire situation. No choice but to just wait and see.

  34. Wing Leader*

    So, this is just kind of a vent. My husband is currently job searching and I’m trying to help him out as best as I can, so I hired a woman to re-write his resume (it wasn’t Alison, BTW). She came highly recommended and had several positive testimonials. She said she could “get a cook a job at NASA” or something to that effect. I spoke to her and answered all of her questions about my husband’s job, experience. etc. as well as the job he is hoping to get.

    Well, when I got his resume back, she did spruce it up a lot. Actually, she lied about almost everything. (For just one example, she claimed that my husband supervised a large staff and held weekly training meetings with all junior staff. This isn’t even close to true. My husband is in a management role, but it has to do with managing the workings of the business, not people. He doesn’t supervise or train anyone and he never has. I explained this to her). There were several other things as well.

    When I pointed all of this out to her and that she basically added a bunch of lies about everything, she said that’s what you have to do in order to get noticed in the job market nowadays. Oh, and no refunds.

    I’m honestly so bummed. My husband needs a new job bad, and I really thought this woman could help us. Now I’m out that money with a resume he can’t even use (because I don’t believe dishonesty is the way). I don’t even know what we’re going to do now.

    1. L Dub*

      Does your husband have a college degree? If he does, most schools offer resume workshops/career services for current students or alumni. (Most that I’m aware of provide these services online as well, if he’s no longer local to the school.)

      That’s really shitty about the lying on the resume thing.

        1. valentine*

          She said she could “get a cook a job at NASA”
          NASA has cooks.

          Your husband can start as he means to go on by writing his own résumé. He’s the one that needs to know it well so he can chat about it in interviews, and that’s going to be organic if he wrote it and the cover letters, versus studying it like a text. Is there someone he’s worked for in the past who might be willing to advise him on it, or someone he knows who’s in a role similar to what he’s aiming for?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        It is fraud – she completely misrepresented her services, and she’s trying to get her customers to commit low level fraud as well.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        BBB doesn’t do anything. They’re not a governing body. They’re just the original “Glassdoor” or “Yelp”. They take complaints and they do try to rectify them to a certain extent but the best they can do is mark her negatively for anyone who researches and maybe if she wants to keep her score up [most don’t care], she’ll give a refund and the BBB will go ahead and let her keep her squeaky clean rating.

    2. Natalie*

      Any chance you paid her with a credit card? I feel like a charge back would be appropriate here.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Um, why were you talking to this woman about your husbands job search? That was your first mistake. Back off. Let him manage his job search. Your support looks like wishing him luck, encouraging him if he’s down, etc.

      1. Tableau Wizard*

        I can imagine a situation where one partner, who is overwhelmed with a full-time job they are actively trying to leave, might ask for the other partner to assist with something like this. Especially if the other partner is better at these types of things or has more time/mental space.

        Just because it might not be how you’d want to operate, doesn’t mean no one else can.

      2. Moray*

        It’s weird that this needs saying, but…it’s not really your place to police the dynamics of someone else’s marriage?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Have you read some of the letter’s recently? Actually, sometimes it DOES need saying.

          1. Delphine*

            I believe what Moray is trying to say is that it should not need to be said to *you* that it isn’t your place to police the dynamics of someone else’s marriage.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Someone’s support of their spouse looks like whatever they damn well want it to look like, based on what said spouse wants and needs. I help my fiance with his resume and stuff. I’m in HR and I used to do recruiting, so it’s a skillset I’m stronger in than he is. There’s nothing wrong with that, just because it doesn’t “look like” what you expect it to look like.

    4. Zephy*

      Wow. If you’re able to leave a review anywhere for that lady’s services, absolutely do so. Not only did she put together what amounts to a fake resume, she doubled down when you called her on it. No wonder she has a no-refunds policy – if that’s how she operates for everyone, she’d never keep a cent.

      1. voyager1*

        Sadly there are people who probably think what she is doing is okay and how it is done.

    5. WellRed*

      Report her to BBB, post a review, if possible. Might make you feel slightly better. Also, I think acting as an intermediary, describing your husband’s job to a third party is not going to have great results no matter what, unless there is some reason why he can’t.

    6. Mockingjay*

      She ripped you off. She was not familiar with your husband’s industry and put in a bunch of filler to mask that, instead of doing industry research or asking him more questions to get more details.

      If your husband has colleagues he can trust (someone working for another company would be best), I suggest he ask them for a candid review of his resume. Also look at the job listings in his field (regardless of position). Are there common elements – key words, certs, processes, experience – that his resume or cover letter should address?

    7. Aquawoman*

      Depending on how much it is and your bandwidth on it, I might either push back on the refund–she gave you an unuseable product, or file a small claims case against her (I’m assuming it is small-claims size money). Or start leaving negative reviews of her everywhere.

    8. DukeOfPearl*

      Gross. I hope none of her clients end up getting fired for lying on their resume. Shame on her.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m sorry you paid this scammer!

      This kind of “Business” is most often a scam and you get such a wide variety of results from them.

      You’re best writing up his resume yourself. Then having someone just proof read it if possible. Use tutorials and guidelines.

      And also understand that the resume just needs to be clean and easy to read, he’s already done an impressive job given what you’ve said he does. So he shouldn’t need to lie at all, he just needs the document to be presentable and get his foot in the door to talk himself up. No “Professional” could do that for him. It’s a scam industry and it breaks my GD heart.

      I agree if she took your money via paypal or you used a credit card, file a chargeback for fraud.

      1. Jimming*

        Just because this person is a scammer doesn’t mean the whole industry is a scam. There are a lot of excellent, qualified resume writers out there. Good ones won’t talk with a 3rd party about the resume they were writing, but work directly with the person whose resume it is.

        1. OhBehave*

          So true Jimming. Painting an industry with a fraud brush is not fair at all! Nor is it true.

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Check the website for your local public library and see if they provide access to any job related database sources. Ours is called “Career Transitions,” and the resume builder and interview practice module are so, so helpful. It won’t recoup your money from the scammer, but it can get your husband a serviceable resume that can jump start his job search.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If you found this scammer through a referral service of some kind, you can report her there as well. They may stop referring future work to her and/or letting her advertise her work on their service. (Or they may not care.) If the recommenders were people you know, you can also let them know about your experience with her. If the testimonials are on a site not controlled by her, you can also leave negative reviews in those locations.

    12. Lilysparrow*

      Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but if someone is bragging about getting their clients jobs that they are completely unqualified for (ie, a cook at NASA), that’s a red flag. A good career/resume consultant is going to talk about getting people jobs that are a good fit for their skills and experience.

      I realize that isn’t useful to you now, but I’m throwing it out there for people who may be looking to hire this kind of help in future.

      There’s a lot of good info here on the site about prepping a resume yourself, and I agree with others about seeing if you can dispute the charge with your credit card, or something like that.

      And if any of those recommendations were from people you know personally, you might tell them what happened and advise them not to recommend her anymore.

      Of course, if you do that, you may discover more than you wanted to know about your acquaintances’ own ethics in job searching.

    13. Arts Akimbo*

      I think we have an answer to “How do incompetent people keep getting jobs?” This woman and others like her (fraudulent resume’ doctors) may be partially to blame!

      Headline: NEW MARS ROVER CRASHES – LEAD PROJECT ENGINEER ACTUALLY A COOK

  35. Lauren*

    Has anyone ever expatriated to a different country for work before? My work is sending me to Australia (Sydney) for a few months to help out in the office there (from the US – East Coast). What advice do you have?

    Work is helping with Visas/Taxes and providing housing allowance etc. Is there anything else I need to ask for?

    1. Venus*

      I had less effort in sorting out my new location (I just rented a place for a few months, and the visas were sorted out fairly easily), and more effort in sorting out my stuff at ‘home’ (someone to check on my place, ensuring my bills were paid as they came in the mail, suspending the cellphone, healthcare coverage paperwork, etc)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Will your company be using a relocation service? On the few occasions my work has had somebody moving from another continent (or UK to mainland Europe) they have used a relocation service to help with finding accommodation, setting up bank accounts and healthcare and the paperwork for residence permits.

        1. Lauren*

          I won’t, unfortunately. I’ll have help with paperwork (visa & taxes), but not for the rest. Since it’s a shorter stay I’m not sure how much I’ll actually need to get set up there. Healthcare is a good point though – I’ll need to make sure I have coverage somehow.

      2. Lauren*

        Good point! The ‘home’ stuff is already more overwhelming than the ‘new location’ stuff and I’ve barely started!

    2. It's the little things*

      I moved to the US from the UK for work – healthcare is something to be clear on as that changes wildly from country to country. The other thing is I found that I didn’t actually speak the same language like I thought I did – many hours spent wandering around grocery stores looking for basics that have different names, and products that are staples at home don’t even exist, so be prepared for a culture shock, even between English speaking countries. Last thing would be office and business norms – it takes a while but they are very different and it’s worth getting a buddy of sorts so you can ask the ‘stupid’ questions and feel more comfortable. I found meeting norms were different, levels of formality, acceptable levels of emotion etc.
      Good luck, it will be a great experience!!

      1. Lauren*

        Thanks! I’m excited to go! Great advice! I’m already preparing myself to feel a little lost sometimes. I have a coworker who went to that office for a few weeks at the beginning of the year and I’ve been grilling him on the office culture there.

      2. PX*

        This. I worked for a big company which had a fairly standard policy of moving people around every few years, and culture shock – especially in the workplace can be a big thing. I’d advise doing as much reading up as you can on this front to help out. Expat blogs, things like Internations or even the weekend thread would probably be good places to start.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Find out about transportation. Will you need a car? If you need a car, your company should look into how to lease or otherwise provide one for you. I remember issues with this when the company my stepfather worked for had someone over to the USA from Japan for a year or two and getting a car for him ended up being a major obstacle for reasons I wasn’t particularly in the loop on (I just ended up being the one giving him rides places at times due to his lack of car, which was an awkward situation for someone of his age and pay grade to be dealing with). You would also want the company to help you out with any needed driver’s licensing or insurance issues that might come up.

    4. GreyNerdShark*

      Check the sidebar at reddit.com/r/sydney. Lots of useful info there. Ask for more info if you need it as they are a friendly bunch.

      Short term rentals are tricky in Sydney as its all airbnb now. Usual suggestion is get an airbnb for ancouple of weeks so you can get an idea of the landscape. Remember that rentals in Oz are weekly not monthly!
      Transport depends on where work is. Trains are best if a bit crowded on some lines. If work is in the CBD Then get a place near a train station. You should only need a car if work is not served by trains. See transportnsw.info . Some areas have good bus coverage so check that too before thinking about a car.

      Do check healthcare. If you are from the US you will need cover,ask your employer’s fund if they cover.
      We are 24ov not 110v. Make sure your electrics can cope. They are expensive here BTW. As are most things.
      We are coming into summer so it is warming up. Temps will be mid to high 20s(degC) and by Nov in the 30s.

  36. Feeling Miserable*

    Need advice on how to tell my boss I’m feeling stressed and miserable without saying “I’m feeling stressed and miserable.”

    I’ve been at my new job for less than 3 months and my 90-day review is coming up next week. I really like my boss and think I’m doing a great job based on the feedback I have received, however I am constantly feeling overwhelmed and these feelings are making me hate my job.

    My company is very big about work/life balance and in fact our operating hours (9-5) don’t even amount to a full 40 hour work week. However, I am often coming in early, working through lunch and staying late to finish my work. Part of my workload concerns our Board of Directors. I’m the liaison to the board, and while I have worked directly with boards before, this group is very difficult and opinionated, and they require way more time and effort on my end than I had anticipated. For example, my last board I worked with met quarterly. My current board meets at least six times a month. My boss also feels overworked by the board and is working on bringing fresh faces to this group that can change the dynamics and lessen the burden on staff, but it will take some time before we see any major changes.

    Another thing I am growing resentful about is the fact that I feel like my boss is passing off other peoples’ work to me, because they are either on vacation or too busy. As another example, we are switching banks and our Director of Finance was going to facilitate the transition. Instead I am the one who is gathering all the paperwork and communicating with the bank, which has been a huge time suck. I also had to take care of submitting all our insurance renewal paperwork when my boss and HR Director were on vacation. I didn’t know anything about insurance and was very stressed at having to dig for answers and figure this out on my own.

    It really bothers me when I spend so much time working, and then I see other people who I have had to cover for leave on time/early or take a vacation, meanwhile I have been working my butt off. I worry if my workload doesn’t lessen I will not last here long. It’s a bad sign that I’m barely 90 days in and I’m already feeling burned out. I feel my 90-day review will be a good time for me to express my concerns to my boss, but I’m struggling to find the most tactful or professional way to convey these feelings. Help!

    1. Jillaine*

      You need to talk to your boss! She may have no idea that you’re feeling this way! You don’t even need to wait for your 90 day review – you can have this conversation today. Sit down with her and tell her that you feel like there’s too much on your plate- That you’ve been coming in early, staying late etc. to get everything done. If you’ve been getting good feedback, your boss (assuming she’s a good boss) is going to be more worried about making sure you’re happy and that you stay, rather than making sure work gets done.

      Alison answers a similar question and has some good advice here: https://www.askamanager.org/transcript-of-im-drowning-in-too-much-work

    2. Zephy*

      It sounds like you’re in an admin-assistant/executive-assistant sort of role? If so, then…well, that’s the job. There may not be much you or your boss can really do about it. It sounds like it’s not a matter of you being asked to do things and denied access to the resources you need to do them, it’s just a lot of things to do that you’re not super-familiar with yet, which is to be expected at a new job.

      Alison has talked before about how to tactfully say no to your boss or otherwise “negotiate” your workload – matter-of-factly asking your boss how to prioritize tasks X, Y, and Z and saying you can finish X and Z this week but not Y, or prioritize Y and leave X and Z for later, and which would he prefer that you do? is one way to approach it. If you’ve gotten positive feedback so far, you could frame it as “I want to continue doing the caliber of work that you’ve seen out of me, but I don’t think the way I’ve been going about doing it is sustainable,” and then have the priorities conversation. At least your boss is aware of the issues with the BOD and says he’s trying to make changes there, so fingers crossed on that front.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        That’s not a great attitude.

        It sounds like they’re understaffed if they’re passing work from people who are “too busy” to someone who already has a very full plate. They need to hear it.

      2. Jadelyn*

        While an AA or EA might take care of a wide variety of tasks, that doesn’t generally extend to doing niche work for other folks like managing major finance (!) or HR (!!) tasks. If they’re big enough to have finance and HR as separate departments with their own Directors, they’re too big to be relying on one single admin to cover for high-level folks on such role-specific tasks as changing banks and renewing insurance coverage.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Exactly. I think it will be helpful to the OP to parse out what IS actually part of the job (dealing with the cranky board members) and what is going above and beyond (all the finance and HR stuff – I am super surprised they have pushed that onto OP!), and focusing on changing the bigger/somewhat inappropriate asks.

    3. Forkeater*

      I’d suggest writing out your thoughts ahead of time and have someone else look it over, then stick the the script during your meeting. You have valid concerns, but you want to be sure to be diplomatic.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      I would say something along the lines of “The learning curve is a bit steeper than I anticipated coming in. So many things are different than my last position, such as the board meeting so frequently and covering for vacations so early in my tenure that it is causing significantly more stress than I normally have with a new position. Is there any way we can have me not cover X’s vacation and push the bank transfer back onto Finance’s plate? I honestly don’t feel I can take that on while still trying to facilitate the board meetings and my regular duties with the limited knowledge I have.”

      1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

        I think other comments here are good. But I wanted to throw one more item into the mix. Do you have a probationary period? If it’s 90 days and you are very close to the end of it, I would let that review pass and then bring up your concerns after you are no longer easily dispensable.

    5. Alphabet Pony*

      Does your boss know what your workload is like? Do talk to them as others have said – it could help if you write a list of everything you have on your plate and ask your boss what to prioritise.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Possible opening script… “There is not enough time in a 40/45/50 hour work week to do everything I’ve been assigned. Which of these things can be postponed until the top items are complete?” …then show a numbered list of tasks & deliverables.
      Good luck!

  37. Bananatiel*

    I’m almost a year into a new job and I’m encountering something I haven’t yet at other jobs. I’ve been pulled into a few meetings at the last minute (like getting an instant message to come to a meeting in the middle of it to discuss my project). I’m never asked to present something last-minute, it’s usually just so I can get critical information which I appreciate getting in person instead of via email. But… I’m noticing that there will often be an awkward period where the meeting starts to move on from what was relevant to me and I kind of feel stuck in the room. There’s no clear “thank you for dropping in, and now on to x project” transition where I can gracefully exit because sometimes the conversation bounces between projects.

    Should I just be… excusing myself? Explicitly ask if they’re done discussing my project? I’m not used to this type of free-flowing meeting culture so I’d appreciate some advice from others who’ve lived it! It feels rude to interrupt since I’m always the most junior in the room and my boss is usually present. At the same time… it feels incredibly awkward to hear about things that have nothing to do with me. And naturally, it’s ultimately a waste of my time, too.

    1. Bananatiel*

      I should probably add, what further complicates this is that the other projects being discussed are usually adjacent to my project to the point that it’s potentially useful for me to hear that information but not really. Kind of hard to explain without talking explicitly about what I do, ha. But it’s why I suspect my boss or someone else doesn’t dismiss me or look at me like “why are you here still?”, maybe they think I want to hear about these things?

      1. fposte*

        In that case, ask your boss outside of meeting time what she’d generally want you to do in these cases, and be ready with an answer of what *you* generally want to do. Would it be valuable for you to get some exposure to these discussions? Would you run behind on what’s waiting for you back at the desk if you stay at the meeting?

      2. OtterB*

        Since this has happened more than once, I’d say ask your boss directly how you should handle it. I can see that it would seem rude for them to dismiss you. The choices are learning more about the organization and its other projects (which has some benefit), or getting back to your work, which also clearly has some benefit.

      3. Interplanet Janet*

        I get this sometimes, and I just ask. “Sorry to interrupt, but do you need me for anything else or should just I get back to it?”

      4. Bananatiel*

        Thank you all! I’m coming from a job with a bad boss prior to this so I sometimes forget I can broach these things with my boss outside of the moment they’re happening. I think I’ll casually bring it up at our next one on one!

    2. fposte*

      I’ve done that. I think it’s fine to say “If we’re done with Perch Planning, I’ll leave you all to the rest of the agenda; thanks” and smoothly exit. If they’ve already started talking with great force about the Cuttlefish Project, you might do the movement first without comment, and then if people stop for a second because you’re moving you can just say “Thanks, all; have a good meeting!” as you keep walking. Especially if you’re obviously called in in the middle it’s not going to be a big puzzlement that you’re leaving.

  38. Sad and Mad*

    So, I have an awkward situation. My grandmother died a month ago. I was particularly close to her. I took a couple days off for the funeral, and then when right back to work. I’m having a hard time. It sucks. Whatever.

    We are allowing people from another company to use our office space for a bit because theirs flooded. We mingle with them a bit but don’t work with them. One of the women from their company, her grandmother just passed. The office manager at our company got a sympathy card for all us to sign. Ummm. I got no sympathy card. I got some hugs because a few tears leaked out in the days following. Some “I’m sorry’s.” But that’s it. I feel really hurt by this. I know it’s probably an innocent oversight, but the little things really matter when you lose someone. I’m pissed off now. And a little sad. Should I say something and make then feel bad? Or should I suck it up?

    1. Bananatiel*

      Considering it’s coming from the office manager and not just another coworker, it might be worth broaching the subject with HR that you do feel weird/hurt by it and that you’d like to see equal treatment moving forward. In my office a lot of the cards that get passed around just come from coworkers and not leadership/executive assistants which makes it less of a clear “office tradition”, but in your case, I think there should be care taken for equal treatment of everyone in terms of cards.

        1. Sunflower*

          I don’t know your comfort level with this but do you have a close coworker who would feel comfortable bringing this up? Something similar happened to my work BFF and she was upset but didn’t feel comfortable saying something- I offered to point it out the office person and she was happy for me to do that.

          1. valentine*

            Let it go. This person needs extra care because they’re displaced.

            Is there something larger here? Do you feel overlooked or harshly treated there, in general? Even if sympathy cards are a standard in your office, they’ll miss someone occasionally. If what you really want is for them to show they care about you (personally?), either there are other ways they can do that, or it’s not their thing.

    2. Carrie Heffernan*

      Oh man I’m sorry. When my Dad died, I got no card but when my coworker broke his ankle, the entire department signed one for him. Sorry again for your loss.

      1. Sad and Mad*

        Oh my GOSH I had to laugh. Made me feel a little better, but I’m so sorry that happened!! And I’m also sorry for your loss. It all sucks, and it’s not like a card will make it better, but the absence of sympathy/thoughtfulness really hurts.

        1. Gumby*

          Yes, honestly “send an actual sympathy card” is an aspect of being a grown adult that I adopted fairly late. And that was prompted from my own experience when one of my brothers died. I didn’t pay attention to anyone I might have expected to hear from but didn’t, but hearing from the people who did send a card I didn’t expect was unusually touching.

          But when you are grieving all sorts of things hit you in weird ways (or did in my experience). The lack of acknowledgement is probably heightened because of your grief.

    3. Ann Perkins*

      I’m sorry for your loss. In a group with no HR but the office manager organizes these, I think it depends on what kind of relationship you have with your office manager. If it’s a good relationship, I think a heads up can help that “Hey, nothing we can do about this now, but going forward please be cognizant of treating all employees equally on these matters is important.”

      These sorts of things suck even though they are usually not intended with malice. Right after I went on maternity leave #2, our office had a baby shower for a coworker expecting his second. I’m all for the dads getting baby showers too but the optics were incredibly odd that I, the visibly pregnant mom, didn’t get one. We’d had an office manager change during that time and the newer one was much more warm-hearted about these sorts of things.

      1. Sad and Mad*

        That’s awful. I mean, I understand if one person makes that oversight, but then the whole company joins in and no one points out the the actual pregnant person didn’t get a shower? That’s why I find this so annoying, everyone’s signing her card and no one is saying anything about my lack of card. I guess it wouldn’t really be on their minds, though.

    4. Tableau Wizard*

      I’m so sorry for your loss and to hear about how your company didn’t show sympathy. That sucks. My grandmother and I are especially close too, and I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.

      If I’m being honest though, I probably wouldn’t say anything. I doubt there’s anything they can do to change the situation and as hard as it is, it’s probably best to just try to reframe it as an honest mistake.
      Does the office manager have any extra relationship with the woman from the other company? Like do they know each other outside of work “more” than she knows you or anything?

      1. Sad and Mad*

        No, they didn’t know each other before and they don’t have a close relationship now. If anything, the office manager actually knows my mom and has been out in social settings with her – I wouldn’t say they’re friends, but they know each other and are fond of each other. And my mom is the one who lost her mom! It’s all just strange.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Same here. I got a couple cards from some coworkers I am really close to but nothing from my “team”. Lost both my FIL and Grandfather while working here. Boss was very generous with time off and some spaciness around that time so that actually meant more to me than a card (but I totally get what you are saying since in the moment it felt really shitty and was just another thing that made me want to cry).

    6. Ra94*

      I’m so sorry, Sad and Mad. I don’t think there’s much you can do here, unfortunately, beyond keeping it as a wry anecdote to share with friends in the years to come. People can be infinitely callous and insensitive and unthinking. This is pure speculation, but…I wonder if your office manager is suggesting the card as a way of ‘networking with’ or sucking up to the other company. In other words, if the card is motivated by practical gain and not genuine sympathy, maybe that takes some sting out of being left out?

      I had a similar-but-not story at my office, which is also tiny and has no HR. For my birthday, my boss got me a birthday card with a $25 gift card inside, and took everyone for lunch, which was lovely. A month later, my colleague, who is equal in hierarchy to me, got the same for her birthday…plus a gigantic bouquet of flowers, an afternoon off, and a paid-for pedicure. My first instinct was to be upset, but ultimately I could only laugh, especially as the GIANT bouquet was such a hilariously on-the-nose symbol of the disparity. My boss sucks in other ways, so ultimately there was no point focusing on this small example. I’m guessing your office manager has shown other negatives, too?

  39. Anon for this*

    Hey Guys! It’s me, the poster whos boss has been traveling / on vacation for the past 2 months during our busy season and I am drowning in work.
    Yesterday Boss came back from a conference and we had a discussion about some of the projects of his that blew up while he was gone. He made it clear he was disappointed in the way I handled it (he was annoyed I called to ask headquarters for advice on how to do a process I never did before. If I didn’t do it 100% perfectly we would have lost thousands of dollars. Headquarters let me know that they were aware of the issue and handled it already).

    He then told me if I wasn’t confident enough to not have people check my work he doesn’t need me anymore. When I pointed out that I have been here for a year, am way ahead of the learning curve (his direct quote from my yearly review and this is a technical role that takes 3 years to be 100% in all procedures ) and wanted to make sure my work was up to the standard he backed down.

    This morning I came in at 6:30 am to get a jump on all the work I am drowning in after staying late the night before. I am trying to do as much as I can but there are only so many hours in a day. When I asked if he was able to take 1 or 2 things off my 30 item long to-do list he was stunned that I wasn’t able to handle many small-dollar (but still time-sensitive) projects when he can handle 4 large dollar projects (Is this normal thinking?)

    I think I just screwed myself over by asking for help.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s not normal thinking, any of this. What kind of asshole says things like “He then told me if I wasn’t confident enough to not have people check my work he doesn’t need me anymore.”
      “I can do A or B, but not both. What should I prioritize?” Rinse, lather, repeat. I realize you’ve been given this advice already, but it’s really all you can do while you look for another job. I am enraged on your behalf.

      1. Sharkie*

        Before he left this week I asked him and he told me to use my best judgment AKA the EXACT way he does things.

    2. Also a project manager*

      Not normal thinking. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s small projects or large projects or time-sensitive projects or not. You’re way over-capacity and your boss isn’t being realistic with his expectations (evident by his backing down when you pointed it out to him) or reasonable with the taskings.

      Sounds to me like you need to book some time off as soon as the busy season is over. Or, if you can’t make it till then, ask your doctor for a note excusing you a day or two for mental health.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have a long weekend scheduled soon and I have a gut feeling he is going to un-approve it. (He has taken 2-week long vacations though in the 2 months “just because”

    3. Anon for this*

      OMG HE IS TAKING MONDAY OFF BECAUSE HE IS TOO STRESSED AND MEANWHILE I HAVE BROKEN OUT IN STRESS HIVES (YES ON MY FACE TOO) AND PRAYING THAT BENADRYL MIGHT HELP

      sorry for the yelling

      1. Woah*

        Omg. I am so sorry. He is a really terrible boss. I feel like stress hives is something you document and talk to HR about since your being so massively belittled and mistreated.

          1. PX*

            Do you doubt or know for sure? I’ve been sort of following your threads and just want to say if you don’t think retaliation is a real risk – what’s the worst that could happen if you DID send send a pointed email to them about his behaviour? As some other commenters have mentioned below, it sounds like he gets away with this awful behaviour because there is no one to call him on it. I’m a big fan of making a fuss if that’s a feasible option.

            Seriously, how much worse could it get?

            Otherwise the alternative is to job hunt as much as you can. And simply prioritise as you see fit and if he doesn’t like it, make him actually manage…but don’t give yourself a burnout for this [insert expletive of choice here]