open thread – July 5-6, 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.

{ 1,182 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    Hi everyone! These are the site commenting rules. If you haven’t read them in the last month or so, please take a minute to review them now, which may save me some moderation work in weeks to come. Thanks!

    Also, a small change to the open thread rules: I will be removing comments that are simply “happy Friday” or “bored at work” at so forth, as these threads get very long and unwieldy as it is and I want people to be able to use them for substantive discussion.

    Reply
  2. Release the Kraken

    Thanks to everyone who gave me advice a few weeks ago on giving my notice. It went OK, awkward but uneventful. My boss seemed completely unfazed so either he saw it coming, he’s trying to play it cool, or he genuinely doesn’t care that I’m leaving after almost 14 years of working there. I’m trying hard not to dwell on the feeling that it’s the latter.

    This whole thing has turned me into such a liar! I don’t see any purpose in revealing the real reasons why I’m leaving because pointing out the dysfunction won’t change a thing, so I feel like a murderer on Law & Order who’s assiduously trying to stick to their alibi. “A great opportunity came along and I just couldn’t pass it up.” “A friend of a friend works there so, when I found out about the job opening, I just had to try for it.” “It’s going to be a great career move and will open a lot of doors for me.” Rinse and repeat. I keep getting the question, “Have you been looking for a while?” from co-workers and it’s incredibly awkward. Who asks that?! I find myself replying with yet more lies since I don’t want anyone to know that I’ve been so desperate to leave that I’ve been searching for the past six months, mentally checked out of work and plotting my blessed escape. “Nope, this just fell into my lap.” LIES.

    I’m unsure what to say on my last day there. It’s a tiny office with only six office staff. My boss asked me to hold off on telling anyone until he figured out how he wanted to proceed with the division of work, which I was fine with. But then when I was at lunch that day he told the two admins who would have to take over my work. One of them congratulated me when I got back to the office. She’s since asked me questions about the new job and seems genuinely interested. The other admin said nothing. We don’t have a great relationship ever since I was promoted and it was clear she was angry and resentful. She’s also one of the most bitter, miserable people I’ve ever met. I have to admit part of the reason why I’m so happy to leave is because I won’t be stuck in close quarters with her anymore. She’s tried to file completely unfounded complaints against me and, while my boss says he disregarded them, I can’t help but wonder if some of her complaints have gotten to him and colored his view of me. I have no idea what to say to her or my boss on my last day. The usual, “It’s been great working with you” really doesn’t apply. I am so burned out and bitter about how things played out after 13+ years of dedication to a company that I don’t want to say anything nice, especially to her. And I don’t want to be completely phony. But then if I’ve been lying my bum off this whole time then what’s one more lie for the sake of niceties? I’m trying to navigate my notice period with grace and professionalism but it sure does require a lot of fakery.

    I just need to hang on two more weeks and then I’m free!!!

    Reply
    1. Mel

      I feel you on the lying about why you’re leaving. I was surprised at how surprised people were about my leaving. I’d been miserable for quite a while and I thought everyone knew it! And people I thought would be only TOO glad to see me go were actually a bit emotional about the whole thing.

      I told people it was for the benefits, so it was obvious I’d made a choice that it was time to go, but I told everyone how great they were even if I thought they were the worst. I just figured it’s better for their last impression of me to be a gracious one.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        This was me. I wanted to tell a few people at my last job where they could go when I left, my boss included; however, I just sent out a super fake farewell email saying how I enjoyed working with everyone (ha!) and wish them the best. I figured I was off to a new, better, and better paying/benefits providing job – I won.

        Reply
        1. Karma

          This is the way to look at it. You did win. There is no reason to rub it in on the way out. I’ve been there, too, and even ended up making a lot more than the awful boss was. She was also eventually fired so things do end up the way they should without burning bridges on the way out.

          Reply
    2. sheworkshardforthemoney

      “I’m taking a lot of memories with me from this place, thanks to you. Goodbye!”

      Reply
      1. Square Root of Minus One

        I would have said ‘I learned a lot working with you’ but I like yours better :)
        Congrats for leaving, Kraken.

        Reply
      2. Fortitude Jones

        LOL! Damn, I wish I had said this instead with an addendum: “Though my time spent with you was brief (17 months), it felt like I’d been here an eternity.”

        Reply
      3. Robin Ellacott

        Beautiful! I like my company but want to remember this just in case.

        I do have a history of writing “it won’t be the same without you” in cards for people who are leaving and taking their drama elsewhere.

        Reply
      4. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        I’m planning on using “Thanks for the opportunity”. Exactly what opportunities (learning how to recognise bad management, how to cope with constant interruptions, what it feels like to be denied decent career progression….) can be left unsaid

        Reply
    3. londonedit

      It’s always so awkward! People always want to know all the details. Reminds me of when I found a new place to live in order to get out of a houseshare with a woman who was very nice but who started having her boyfriend round to stay 3-4 nights a week. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, so I stuck to ‘Oh, no, I wasn’t really looking, but I was still signed up to all the property emails and this one just jumped out at me!’ or ‘Once I saw it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!’ When the answer really was ‘Yes I’ve been looking for four months because I’m sick of coming home and having to go straight to my room like it’s a student house because you and your boyfriend are going to be watching films in the living room all evening’…

      Reply
      1. Release the Kraken

        You’ve made me feel much better about the lies! Yup, yours was definitely a situation where a little polite lying was best. Intellectually I understand there are situations that warrant lying, but it still feels so unnatural.

        Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. “I wish you the best” and then watch the confusion on their faces. It’s actually kind of fun.

        Reply
      2. Good luck with that

        “I wish you all the success and happiness you deserve.”

        Say it was a big smile, and they may *never* figure out what you really meant.

        Reply
    4. Tallulah in the Sky

      Sorry you’re going through that, I don’t like lying either. Just remember that soon it will be over. At least for me, knowing the end is in sight helps :-)

      For your final speech, you can lean on some neutral truths, like “I learned so much here” (no need to say the learning wasn’t all good), “Did great work with (some) amazing people” (no need to say they aren’t all amazing), etc. Try to think of the positive and focus on that. Have a speech prepared so you don’t flounder under pressure. We had some layoffs recently, decided by the very higher ups, not our manager. We were all sad about this and disappointed by how things went. For every person leaving, our manager did a goodbye speech (with gift) and the one leaving was also expected to say a few words. It was obvious no one prepared what they would say and ALL speeches were awkward.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        The people being laid off were made to give goodbye speeches? No wonder they were awkward.

        Reply
        1. Tallulah in the Sky

          The goodbye speeches were in our team, without the higher ups who took the decision to lay them of. We all appreciate each other, they weren’t “made” to give a goodbye speech per se, it’s just how we do things when someone leaves (speech from the manager, thanking them for their work and wishing them the best, give the gift, the person accepts and says some words). It would have been as awkward, if not more, if they had accepted the gifts silently and returned to their desks. Or even worse, we do nothing at all.

          Reply
      2. Release the Kraken

        That’s awful that they had to give speeches under those circumstances. “My speech is the trail of tears I leave between my desk and the door.”

        I will be sure to highlight whatever positives I can and gloss over everything else. I love the lines you suggested.

        Reply
      3. Staxman

        “Did great work with (some) amazing people” (no need to say they aren’t all amazing)

        They were amazing in a bad way, and putting with them without losing it was a great accomplishment!

        Reply
    5. Ann Furthermore

      It will be a great feeling when that day comes. When I gave my notice to my then-boss 3 years ago after 12 years, she responded in a really weird and passive aggressive way, telling me that she’d known this was coming because she knew I’d been unhappy, and my negativity had been affecting her and the rest of the team. Yeah, I’d been extremely frustrated with things that had been going on, and so had everyone else. I was just the only one who ever spoke up and said anything. She’s worked for that company her whole career, which at that point was about 25 years. The parent company was starting to make moves to eventually outsource our jobs and move our department into another division, and also make us move everyone onto systems we didn’t know or support. A lot of corporate political maneuvering and BS that was creating a lot of misery and unpleasantness for us, and all she ever did was sit there and take it. She was trying to hang on for retirement, and keep her head down and not draw too much attention to herself or make any waves. I didn’t blame her; in her position I likely would have done the same thing, but her decision to do that meant that she didn’t advocate for her team the way she once had.

      When she said that, I’m sure she was hoping that I’d feel contrite and apologize. But all it did was convince me more than ever that quitting was the right thing to do.

      Reply
      1. Who Plays Backgammon?

        This is scary. Your ex-boss sounds like my boss. OMG, there are TWO OF THEM….and probably a lot more. My old boss is sorta my ex-boss now, only she’s still doing a lot to functions such as signing time sheets because her successor hasn’t been authorized yet. The day’s comin’, the day’s comin’.

        Reply
    6. lulu

      If possible you can stick to vague statements: “it was time to move on”, “I was ready for a change”, then you won’t feel that you’re lying, just not volunteering more info than you’re ready to share. To those who ask “Have you been looking for a while?”, you just say something not committal like ” I guess I’ve just been keeping my eyes open for a while, you know how it is….” and they can make of that what they will. No need to pretend leaving is breaking your heart. Good luck for what comes next!

      Reply
      1. ..Kat..

        Good advice. I think RtK might be an honest and literal person, thus so many things feel like lies. But “it was a great opportunity…” doesn’t have to be a lie. It can mean “anything that gets me out of here is great.”

        Reply
      2. Who Plays Backgammon?

        “Not really.” True, when you consider the length of time your search took vs. the length of time it took for the universe to evolve. It’s all relative.

        Reply
    7. Blue Eagle

      Maybe reframe this in your head and answer a different question. For example – if they ask if you’ve been looking for awhile, respond with “you know, sometimes things just drop in your lap”. The response is a true statement, and it evades directly answering the question that was asked. If they ask – why are you leaving, respond with “I just have to do what is best for my family/for me”. And to any follow-up questions, the old standby “it is what it is” is a good non-answer that lets the questioner know that you are not up for providing more details.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        The specific questions make me wonder whether the colleague is also looking for a way out, so they are just genuinely interested in your job search.

        Reply
    8. Quinalla

      It’s always awkward, but glad it sounds like it went pretty well.

      Try not to fret about lying, it isn’t worth it or necessarily safe to tell the truth, but I get feeling weird about it. When I left my last place, I didn’t lie too much (occasionally if asked a very specific question that I wasn’t about to answer), but mostly told partial-truths. I had a mix of reasons for going, some that were positive, some neutral, and some negative. I gave a few of the negative ones I thought my old boss might act on to him (in my case – salary, no room for advancement, too much travel, and a specific incident with another employee that I thought he handled poorly that I wanted to reiterate – involved me having to come into work when I was supposed to be on vacation for something that was NOT my fault, grrr) mixed with neutral/positive stuff. It was the truth that was useful and polite, the rest of the negative would have done nothing to help and potentially would have soured our professional relationship.

      Reply
    9. Budgie Buddy

      I deeply relate to the feeling of carrying a lot of resentment inside and being disappointed that literally no one else gives an F about the complex and sensitive reasons I am making a big life change. Hard to launch into “And these are all the reasons I’ve been devalued here!!!” in response to “You found a new job? Best of luck!”

      On the bright side Kraken doesn’t have to feel any guilt about “lying” when they know full well the other person does not want to get into the drama.

      Reply
    10. Grey Coder

      I used “an opportunity came up which was more aligned with my long term goals” to explain quitting once. The long term goal in that instance was to avoid murdering anyone. It has always been a goal of mine to get through life without murdering anyone, so it was completely true.

      Reply
    11. LadyAbhorsen

      I feel you on this. I’ve been lying to my supervisor and boss about my interview process, and spent my last day before medical leave talking with Boss about everything I’ll be “picking back up” once I return… except I’m giving my notice halfway through the leave because of NewJob’s start date.

      Lying leaves such a bad taste in the mouth but it seems like a requirement for the entire process of moving jobs—from interviewing through the polite lies you talk about having to give to get through your notice period with grace. Ugh! What a process.

      Reply
    12. Jasnah

      I’m going to try to make this sound not terrible, but actually I think of situations like this as an opportunity to practice lying/deflecting! I’m a very honest person and a terrible liar and people can usually see right through me. I’m trying to develop more of a poker face and not get so obviously ruffled by questions that make me uncomfortable. And sometimes it’s valuable to be able to say with a smile “I’m so happy for you” to someone you feel jealousy or resentment towards–not because you’re being two-faced, but because sometimes we need to hide our nastier instincts to preserve social harmony, or people are being rude and we want to be gracious. Maybe you want your friend to know you’re truly happy for her, even though you’re a little jealous. Maybe an in-law asked a rude question and everyone is watching your reaction so you don’t want to be rude. This is a good time to practice that!

      Reply
    13. Observer

      Why not tell the truth. An edited version, but the truth nevertheless. If someone asks you “Have you been searching for a while?” You can respond with “A while.” “Why are you leaving?” “It was time to make a move.” etc. You don’t need to share all the details, but why make stuff up? It’s just an added stress.

      Reply
  3. Recs for an office fan

    Hello! This is my first summer in a new office that faces east, and the AC can’t keep up with how warm it gets in here during the morning. Does anyone have recommendations for a good fan that can cool my office down without being obnoxiously loud?

    Reply
    1. Bebop

      I have three Lasko 4000 Air Stik Ultra-Slim Oscillating Fans in different rooms at home. They’re not silent, but I think they’re pretty quiet and they don’t take up a ton of space. They have a high and a low setting, and can rotate or stay in one position, so you can adjust them to your needs. :)

      Reply
      1. Zeldalaw

        I’m not sure which model I have, but it’s also a Lasko tower oscillating fan and I like it (it’s whatever was available in the office supply catalog from work!). I would also recommend one with a remote control if you aren’t sitting right by it. That way, if it does get loud or you want to turn it up/down, you can turn it off/down/up, whatever, without having to keep getting up and down. I can be kind of back and forth about what I want it to be doing at any given moment (too hot, now too much air, now I want it right on me, now too much air again – middle age hormones are a joy!!) and the remote is great to be able to adjust it without having to keep getting up to adjust it.

        Reply
      2. Kuododi

        I have seen advertisements for bladeless fans. (Both tabletop and floor). I’ve never tried them myself but the word is that bladeless is one of the quieter designs on market today. I’m fairly certain the brand was Dyson however don’t quote me. I’d suggest Googling “bladeless fans” and see what pops up. Best regards.

        Reply
        1. Who Plays Backgammon?

          I actually saw some of those set up for demonstration in a home store on my way from work tonight. They were tempting. I have all kinds of fans for my hot little abode to try to spare the AC, and they’re all giving up the ghost after several years of hard service. Kinda pricey but they cooled the area nicely and really were quiet.

          Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m a big fan of tower fans, they have always been the most quiet option in my experience. Since they’re focusing on sweeping motions instead of spinning a wheel, if that makes sense?

      Reply
    3. lost academic

      I think your better plan might be to ask for blinds or a shade that you can have down in the morning. It’ll certainly save on cooling costs as well!

      Reply
    4. Dr. Anonymous

      You can also say, “bye! Have a great weekend!” Like it’s any other day and then you just don’t go back. The size of your smile is up to you.i hav a small plastic Lasko desktop fan and it’s very quiet. I am a big princess about noise.

      Reply
    5. Wishing You Well

      I like the little Vornado. It has fabric blades, so it won’t endanger your fingers. Also, when it’s not running, it looks like a little 3-eared gerbil!

      Reply
    6. Aphrodite

      This is going to sound weird but it really works: aluminum foil. If you are in a private office block off the windows or parts of windows that get any morning sun. (Keep it “dull side out” for good neighborly relations.) You can either tape foil directly to the windows or tape it to large cardboard pieces you can remove later in the day.

      I do this at home with the morning sun side windows. They are kept dark all summer. In the office, I have two windows, a large one with a nice tree outside and a smaller one that gets all the afternoon sun. The smaller one has foil neatly and carefully taped on each of its four panes. The larger one has two windows above the main one, kind of half-moon shaped, and the sun in the summer is at such an angle that those two are not helped by the tree at all. They get sun from the minute it comes up for about three hours. Having those covered has made a huge difference thus far (and I can say the same for my home).

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Make sure that building facilities allows this though, some are really persnickity about if you can put things in the window because of outside appearance issues.

        This isn’t weird at all, it’s age old stuff that sadly is viewed poorly upon in some areas and by certain types of people because it inadvertently looks like you’re impoverished since you regularly see it in trailers and beat down houses. -Signed a former trailer-park kid.

        Reply
        1. TPS Cover Sheet

          Well, umm… in my neck of the woods you get a visit from the old bill as you have a ”grow house” and the foil is there to keep the light from going out…

          Reply
          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            That’s also an issue as well! It’s actually to keep the heat in in that case as well, since you’re trying to get the greenhouse effect.

            There are other ways to go about it if it’s just the issue of seeing the lights inside, with just standard cardboard and black out drapes. My dad worked graveyard shift, so that’s how we made sure the light didn’t bother him.

            You must be from a highly conservative area if the police are actually pounding on doors with that assumption just over the foil itself. That’s not enough to get a warrant here and would be viewed as harassment.

            Reply
          2. Aphrodite

            That is why I do not cover the entire window. In my home, the foil only comes up as far as the sun can reach which is about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way. I don’t want to look like a drug house so I reserve it for the morning sun windows and it comes down immediately when it begins to turn cool again.

            Reply
      2. OrigCassandra

        More expensive, but can also work: the reflective thingers that are made for car windshields.

        I get the kind that fold/scrunch up small for easy putting away in the winter.

        Reply
    7. I'm a FAN

      I just bought a Vornado vintage fan for my home and it is so cute I’d get another for the office in a heartbeat!

      Not totally silent, but I find it to be a good white noise level. And again, it’s so darn cute.

      Reply
  4. Bebop

    What kind of wrist rests, besides memory foam ones, do you guys find comfortable?

    I’ve been using a memory foam wrist rest for four years (it’s a cheap Fellows brand one) and never liked it. The description on Amazon made it sound like it would be soft, and as if the weight and warmth of my wrists would make it conform around them, but in reality it’s hard and has no give unless I press into it with my fingers. Just sitting my wrists on it is like sitting my wrists directly on my desk.

    I was looking on Amazon earlier and saw some pellet filled ones. Are those any good? Are there other kinds you guys would reccomend?

    Reply
    1. Catsaber

      I’ve been using the pellet filled ones for several years now and they are just fine. The only annoying thing (and it’s just slightly annoying) is that I often turn my mouse wrist pad over just to “fluff” it up. But it doesn’t seem to have as many pellets as my keyboard wrist pad. My keyboard one is brand HandStands, I think I got it on Amazon? Or Fry’s? It’s been a long time. But it’s good, it has the right pellet density for me.

      Reply
    2. Wordnerd

      I don’t have wrist rest recommendations, so feel free to ignore me, but are you using an ergonomic keyboard? My wrists start to hurt five minutes after using a regular keyboard! Getting an ergonomic keyboard might solve the issue at the source! *Please ignore if you already have one!*

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        The gel ones are my favorite, as well, with pellet-filled ones coming in a close second.

        Reply
      2. Freya

        Our facilities dept issues everyone the 3M gel ones for the keyboards – the mouse ones are staples brand mouse pad with the gel wrist rest.

        Reply
    3. Booksalot

      After I badly sprained my wrist, I could not get comfortable with mousing again. I switched to a sideways ergonomic mouse, which helped, but it meant that wrist rests no longer supported the correct side of my arm.

      I’ve since rigged up my own, which involves pinning a beanbag-style rest to the wrist brace itself. Not only does it hold the rest firmly where I need it, but continuing to use the brace forces me to use proper movement and not needlessly flex my wrist.

      Reply
    4. Kathenus

      I have arthritis in my wrists and use these both for the keyboard and mouse. I’ve found they are so individual in what is comfortable for me that I want to try them so I go to an office supply store and try out different ones. Some foam are comfortable, others aren’t. Same with pelleted or other types. So it may help to actually go and check some out in person to find what you want – you can always buy that brand online later if you’dl ike.

      Reply
    5. Ramanon

      My cat. She gets to hang out with me, I don’t have wrist pain, everyone wins. Except my desk, because she’s a drooler.

      More seriously, I’ve been told that there’s a corgi butt mousepad that’s hugely ergonomic, but I don’t know what the filling is, just that the shape is good.

      Reply
      1. Ace in the Hole

        Funny, it’s the other way around for me… my wrist is my cat’s favorite thing to sit on.

        Reply
        1. Ramanon

          Joys of an oriental cat- they’re just smart enough to figure out causality if you give them enough time. Especially if there’s a reward, like pats.

          Except she also opens doors and turns on the sink. So that’s fun.

          Reply
    6. TPS Cover Sheet

      There’s these pyramid-shaped keyboards, and then for the ”mouse wrist” there were all kinds of balls and this very old invention that was tapping the arrow keys you used with a roller… I could gawk at a colleague using one back in the 90’s…

      I’m never good with those gel rests, the thing is I had ”mandatory typing” and have a carpal tunnel that still now makes my pinkies numb. My typing is very weird and hacking as I need to kerp the ”dead fingers” off the keyboard so remote I get always told to mute on a call as I have a tad loud ”Cherry” clone of an old IBM that helps me to ”hear” my fingers…

      Reply
    7. ..Kat..

      My recommendation is to get two different wrist rests and then alternate. Use one for a couple of hours, then switch, and repeat. I find that using just one wrist rest (no matter how good) does not feel good after X amount of time.

      Reply
    8. Researchalator Lady

      There’s a Kensington wrist rest with a molded tray for your wrist with four different size inserts. I use this with a “sideways mouse” and an ergonomic keyboard (in varying configurations depending on which office I am working out of) and love it.

      Reply
  5. Booksalot

    I am so effing fed up with how buggy and broken LinkedIn is. It never loads right, my replies to recruiters get eaten and vanish, comments in professional forums disappear.

    One known member of my field posted a really obscure question about a software bug this week, and I actually knew the answer because I’d just dealt with the same thing. For the life of me, my response would. not. load. I was ready to scream. So sick of this junky platform!

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      I’ve been tee-off about how they changed their “Open to opportunities” feature. If you turn it on, you HAVE TO respond to recruitment messages even if they are junk. If you don’t respond to enough, LinkedIn turns your “open to opportunities” off again.

      Reply
      1. Booksalot

        OMG, a pox on that nonsense. “Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately I have no experience in sysdev, AS USING LITERACY TO READ MY PROFILE WILL TELL YOU.”

        Reply
        1. TPS Cover Sheet

          Oi mush, I feel your pain…

          I get spammed with ”java developer” jobs. Yeah so I was a ”Java Platform Manager” at one point. My answer is… ”You are looking for a ”java developer” like a F1-driver… I am a ’platform manager’ as in ’the pit boss’, I fix the engine, I don’t drive the car.”

          Nevermind ”full stack developer” … ”which stack,sunshine?”

          Reply
    2. Audiophile

      I turned it on too. Wasn’t aware LinkedIn disables it if you don’t respond to recruiters.

      I got contacted by a handful of recruiters for small agencies. The first one moved fast but the client they were helping was less than impressive. The more recent one was working with a well known education company.

      I think in a lot of cases you just have to search yourself, you’re more likely to find appropriate jobs that way.

      Reply
  6. Arewethereyet

    How do you know if you’re burnt out? What were your signs? And how did you recover?

    (Enjoy the holiday weekend, y’all!)

    Reply
    1. ThisIshRightHere

      Unfortunately, I’ve only really figured out after I finally got some rest and realized “omg, I was basically dead before.” Trying to get better at noticing the signs and catching it early, but it’s a constant struggle.

      Reply
    2. RandomU...

      My patience level gets low.
      My filter isn’t as robust as it should be
      I get apathetic about things
      I start buying lottery tickets

      These are the big ones. I’m kind of here right now with my job. I haven’t figured out if it’s boredom or burnout. I think a little bit of both.

      I combat burnout by just rolling with it for awhile, I snap out of it eventually. Boredom is a little harder for me, it typically involves finding a new job or a new project.

      Reply
      1. TheBean

        Apathy is my big demonstration. I dont care- dont care about the project, dont care about the outcome, I’m not interested in the data.
        The other one for me is cleaning, especially of things that have been hanging around for years. This one might be “me” specific because I NEVER clean and get yelled at for having a messy desk on a regular basis.

        Reply
      2. Sloan Kittering

        to me it depends on how I feel when I come *back* from a good vacation of at least a week. Am I at all re-energized or enthusiastic about the work? This helps me determine where the issue is.

        Reply
        1. RandomU...

          Sadly my next vacation isn’t until September. I call this one my soul restoring vacation, because I get on a boat and leave all electronics behind (everyone does, because there’s no wifi!) and just enjoy being.

          I’ll see what it’s like after that, but I’m not holding out too much hope.

          Reply
        2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

          Yes! This is key. When I had a panic attack on the motorway on the way home from a break (coupled with a resting heart rate in the low 90s) was when i knew something had to change.
          Unfortunately, for those looking for advice, I’m sorry to say I’m under the doctor looking for a solution – so I have nothing to contribute.

          Reply
        3. The Other Dawn

          I think this is key. Now that I think back to the times I was burned out, no amount of vacation helped me feel recharged. I dreaded going back to work.

          As far as how long it took me to recover? A LONG time. It wasn’t until the company closed and I was out of work for a few months that I truly felt recovered, even though the burnout happened a couple years before the company closed; I’d recovered somewhat during those couple years, but not completely.

          Reply
      3. Fortitude Jones

        This is (almost) all me (except for buying lottery tickets). When I was burned out in previous jobs, I just no longer gave a damn about anything, so I’d go run errands during work hours or sit at my desk and online shop all day. I might squeeze in a few time-sensitive work-related task, but that was about it. I’d stop speaking to people because everything out of my mouth was going to be negative.

        The way I’d get out of the true burnout phase was by getting a new job. This isn’t as bad as it sounds – I was with one company for nearly three years, one for four, and my last one for 17 months. I didn’t leave the latter due to burnout, but due to boredom, which is a whole other issue, but pretty much presents the same way as burnout in me.

        Reply
      4. boop the first

        I don’t know if it’s “burnout”, but I recognize a cycle:

        – Also agree with the apathy/reduced filter as already mentioned
        – I start self sabotaging and denying myself things that matter to me
        – I start purging my home of objects, even if I still like them
        – I start fantasizing about death on my way to work
        – I feel normal on my days off though. I think that might be important.

        Reply
    3. Catsaber

      I got burnt out in my last job and realized it because I didn’t care about the consequences of my actions, and I’m normally a very conscientious person. Like…I didn’t care if my work didn’t get done, I’d just make an excuse and my boss would buy it. I played around on the internet all day. I did the bare minimum. That was very uncharacteristic of me. In that job, I could get away with doing the bare minimum, but it gnawed at me and felt wrong. But I was exhausted, and the culture was toxic, so I just didn’t care.

      I got a new job a couple years ago and my work ethic has really revitalized. I think getting a new job was really the only option at that point – I hated working in that department, and they just weren’t going to invest in the kind of work I wanted to do, so I found another department that suited my career goals much better.

      Reply
      1. Quiltrrrr

        This is where I am. Absentee manager (and the last job was like that; this one was supposed to be better and isn’t), and a raise that was insulting even though I had an excellent performance review, have led to just not caring anymore. As long as the minimum gets done, no one seems to care, and I just don’t either. I was doing better at the beginning of the new job, but went right back into old patterns because there was no reason not to.

        Reply
      2. Ace in the Hole

        Huh. I always pictured burnout as being a tears and anxiety kind of deal, but reading some of these comments is really resonating… maybe time to take a closer look at my job.

        Reply
        1. Richard Williams

          Ace – it’s more like a slow numbing of the soul for me. It’s an erosion of will and spirit.

          Reply
    4. Tigger

      I knew I was burned out when I started crying when I woke up on Saturday mornings because I only had 48 hours left until I had to go back to work. I took some PTO and had a conversation with my boss about my workload. Thankfully he had my back and reassigned my work while I was away so I wouldn’t come back to a mountain of work. I was also more mindful to listen to my body and have “me time” during the day. It is amazing what a 5-minute walk in the middle of the day can do for you

      Reply
    5. Mel

      Getting furious about small things. Like edits to a project I know has a 50% chance of needing edits. Or needing to stop in the middle of a project to help someone. These things really don’t hurt me, but I would be seething.

      For me it’s happened a few times and the answers have been different. The worst time was solved by my boss hiring another person to help with the work. I was also furious about this because I wanted to be fully in control of the work, but it was SO helpful. I found myself enjoying my work again after about a month of her arrival.

      Other times I have had comments from coworkers or friends make me take a step-back and evaluate what on earth is going on with me. Why am I SO angry?

      And then I have to let go of how much I care about my work. It feels a little wrong or rebellious. Like, “I’ll show you! Here’s my apathetic work!” but it’s actually better for everyone. I do better work when I care a little less.

      Reply
      1. Tetsal

        >> I do better work when I care a little less.

        YES. Caring too much made me anxious and nervous and angry when others didn’t seem to care about the project as much as me. It also made minor non-issues and small mistakes seem so much worse than they were. Learning to care less was a blessing.

        Reply
      2. ISO Happy

        I like your last line, Mel. I’m a Quality Manager, and to stay on an even keel, I often have to imagine that I’m a consultant instead of an employee. This way, I don’t feel like the system of processes and results I work with are “mine” or a reflection on my value. When I take things less personally, my stress decreases and I find more satisfaction in my work.

        Reply
      3. Anita Brayke

        +1! I once had a boss who, when faced with a question from me about how to stop burning out, said “stop caring so much!” If it hadn’t been for being on call 24/7 for workers to call off for the day, and being able to sleep until 4 or 5 a.m. was essentially sleeping in from the usual amount of call-outs, I may have lasted there. As it was, I found something much better and am very happy now!

        Reply
    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

      I lose interest in everything work related, dread coming to work even though I like my job and my coworkers, have to force myself to be productive, and spend the whole week looking forward to the weekend.

      Reply
    7. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Slacking on things that I usually am on top of [filing, I’m looking at you, all day long].

      Lethargy. I’m just “over it” as soon as I wake up or walk in in the morning or very soon after arrival, nothing has to actually happen, I’m just not in the mood.

      People start grating on my nerves for nothing at all. I start nitpicking coworkers in my mind and starting to erode my “like” for them or if I just have never particularly liked them, it’s full on BEC mode.

      Just general exhaustion and going through the motions.

      To me it’s a lot like a flare up of depression.

      Reply
    8. NicoleK

      Signs of burnout for me: irritability, apathy, dreaded going to work, going through the motions, anxiety (I normally don’t suffer from anxiety), sleeplessness, mood felt low

      Reply
    9. NewReadingGlasses

      When I thought it was Wednesday all day on a Tuesday.
      Also when I got into autodrive mode and accidentally drove to work on a Saturday.

      Reply
    10. Leela

      It’s really common for me to realize after instead of during but some are:

      It feels like I’ve lost my passion for the things I like to do outside of work (in truth, I’m just too exhausted, and when my schedules gets more reasonable my desire is exactly where it was before).

      I get irritable and things bother me a lot more than they used to

      I have a lot of trouble getting started/focusing on something compared to normal

      I start eating terribly, just grabbing whatever I can whenever I can because I either don’t have the time or energy (or both) to invest in eating properly

      When I have a new task to face I get a knot in my stomach and I’m like “please no not again, no more”.

      Honestly, I can’t find anything that fixes burnout other than reducing the workload, and you don’t always have control over that. There’s no amount of meditation, fancy new or Japanese business workflows, or time management that’s going to fix having an unreasonable workload (although any of those things might help alleviate burnout if the workload isn’t unreasonable, just high). Best of luck to you!

      Reply
    11. S

      What do you do when you’re burnt out and/or bored, but you can’t seem to pull together enough energy to look for something new? If I were single, I’d head out for a road trip or a sabbatical, but I’m primary breadwinner and the only one in our family whose job comes with benefits, so the “two months of doing absolutely nothing” that I dream of doesn’t feel feasible.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Are you able to take even a short staycation? Staying at home all day or going to check into a local hotel in my area (on the cheap if possible) usually helps me. The latter is great because somebody else picks up after me and prepares my meals so I don’t have to and I truly have time to relax. Matter fact, I need to look into doing this again soon – I’m not burned out, just lazy right now.

        Reply
      2. Jasnah

        What would you do if you were on vacation? What about vacation makes you feel relaxed/luxurious? Is it having someone bring drinks to you while you lay in a chair? Is it reading a book by the water? Is it slowly enjoying your morning coffee without having to rush anywhere? Is it trying new foods, or looking at beautiful things, or being in nature? Is it having time to do your hobbies, or just watch a movie without interruption?

        Maybe if you can break down your favorite parts of a road trip or sabbatical into these elements you can incorporate them into your everyday and “feel” like you’ve gone on vacation, a little bit at a time.

        Reply
    12. BossLady

      -Putting off assignments because they seem so dreadful
      -Not getting out of bed until the very last minute and it’s still a struggle
      -Getting upset over little things/not being patient enough
      -Bursting into tears the moment I walk in the door at home

      For me, taking a vacation is everything. It’s been really hard to do lately because of turnover in my office, but at the end of the day, you have to do it.

      Reply
    13. Agent J

      For me, it’s apathy and/or anxiety. I enjoy my work and take pride in doing it well. But when I’m burned out, I start doing the bare minimum. I’m mentally clocked out and it will take me a lot of time to complete tasks because of procrastination. I’ll get distracted very easily by non-work things.

      Coworkers I usually have patience for are now the bane of my existence. They can breathe and I’ll be irritated.

      The anxiety bit comes from stress of being overworked. To deal with the stress, I’ll eat a lot more sugary things which in turn makes me feel sluggish. I won’t sleep well and wind up needing a lot lore caffeine to get through the week. The key here is that it tends to happen piece by piece, slowly over time. By the time I notice my normal eating / sleeping habits have changed, it’s time to address it asap.

      Reply
    14. Parenthetically

      Highly, highly recommend Dr. Amy Imms’ stuff — www (dot) dramyimms (dot) com — she’s doing incredible work in the area of burnout, and her full project is launching in a week.

      Reply
    15. Square Root of Minus One

      Not much to add. Irritability, desire to be away from people, sleep troubles, dreading to go to work, emotions out of control, draining energy, feeling cornered…
      I recovered once by quitting, the other time by moving up my annual doc visit, getting deemed immediately incapable of working, burning through two straight weeks of sick leave, and talking things through with my manager when I got back. I recommend the second over the first.

      Reply
    16. The Rat-Catcher

      Burnout signs were being irritable with work, anxious about work when I wasn’t there, and not really caring if I came in an hour late or left an hour early (I’m not exempt so it really does matter). I get three weeks’ vacation and I’ve started to be a lot more intentional about how I use it (a week in the spring or summer for vacation and a week at Christmas, rather than days here and there).

      Reply
    17. Jennyanydots

      I left a job about a year ago after becoming so totally burned out that I was barely able to function. For what it’s worth, please don’t let it get that bad before addressing the situation as I am still dealing with the after-effects 13 months later, both mentally and physically. Especially physically.

      In addition to what folks have already said, here are some of my symptoms.

      Staring at my screen and being completely unable to process anything on it. It became a huge jumbled blur of color to me.

      The smallest tasks assumed a significance and difficulty that wasn’t accurate. I could spend an hour dreading something that ended up taking me 5 minutes to accomplish.

      Yelling at people in traffic. I lived in a very small town and one day I realized that I had already called 5 people an *adjective-deleted* moron and I hadn’t even gotten across town yet. When it’s a 5-moron morning, you know it’s bad.

      Crying at work. I NEVER cry at work and suddenly was tearing up at the smallest provocation.

      Horrendous insomnia. Going to work on 2 hours of sleep is a recipe for disaster. I started taking naps in my car on my lunch hour – and sometimes during regular hours.

      Wow, I’m getting stressed just thinking back to that time. Ugh. Thankfully, I’m in a full-time telework position now with very little stress.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        Oh god this. I remember ugly-crying every day in my car, and just feeling nauseated to the point of dry-heaves on the way home, knowing that I’d have to get up and do it again tomorrow. My workplace offered discounted transit passes, which normally I’d be all over, and I ended up not using mine because I didn’t want to cry on the train every day in front of strangers. Plus, the MBTA will actually stop and call you an ambulance if you barf on the train, it’s a big deal and all the commuters hate you for causing a delay.

        Also, migraines and nausea – I went from a couple of migraines per year to twice a month. And NOTHING fixed it but getting the heck out of that job. Normally if I’m feeling stressed I can take a Personal Day and do some yoga, catch up on sleep, hang out with friends and whine about work and then I’m all better. When that doesn’t help, or when I’m so very burned out that I don’t even want to talk about it to anyone, at all, anywhere, that’s when it’s a bad scene and I need to take some serious time to re-think my life choices.

        Reply
    18. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Depression and burnout look really similar on me. Here’s my signs:

      * I start having a hard time getting to sleep and waking up.
      * My motivation is tapped out. It takes tremendous effort to do basic things.
      * My productivity comes way down.
      * I have a horrible time focusing, my thoughts feel scattered, and I can’t plow through.
      * My patience level comes way down.
      * I start to assume the worst things personally, instead of looking at them rationally or with good intent.

      I think the only way to recover is to truly unplug and get away from everything for at least a week, ideally longer.

      Reply
    19. Wantonseedstitch

      I’ve been employed at the same place for over twelve years, but before I started here, I was working in my first permanent job after grad school as an administrative assistant at a very small company. It started out as interesting, but soon became challenging, and then became torture. I won’t go into all the stuff that had me on the verge of a breakdown there before I finally gave my notice, but some of the things that made me realize how bad things had gotten:

      1) My performance was REALLY suffering, and kept getting worse, mostly because I was so anxious all the time that I had a hard time focusing on my work because I was always so scared about what would happen if I slipped up. I’d gotten to the point where all I wanted to do was keep my head down and not get yelled at by my bos.
      2) I was getting anxiety attacks about work even when I was at home. I remember being in the shower one day and thinking about what I’d have to face in the office the next day, and I just broke down crying.
      3) I was starting to have “disaster fantasies” on the way to work in the morning, about things like my subway train derailing, or a bomb going off–anything that would mean I wouldn’t have to go in to the office and would maybe injure me badly enough that I’d be able to take several weeks off to recover.
      4) I realized I was at the point where the challenge of trying to scrape up cash for rent and food without a job seemed more appealing to me than the idea of continuing to go to work at my job.

      How did I recover? I left. I made the decision that no matter how bad and hard things got if I left my job without another one lined up, it wouldn’t be as bad as things were at that job. I started temping, which eventually led to my finding a job in my current office. The temp work was a nice restful time for me, as I remembered what it was like to feel like I was reasonably competent and appreciated. Being offered the permanent job was even better. But I still got huge amounts of anxiety around being called into my manager’s office at the new job: every time, I expected to hear that I had screwed up and my job was in danger. It never happened, though, and slowly, with every positive thing that happened and every negative thing that FAILED to happen, my anxiety eroded to the point where I really started to understand that the shitty job I did at my former workplace wasn’t because I was incompetent and unable to hold down a real job in the real world, but because the toxicity of that workplace had almost destroyed me.

      Reply
    20. Kirsten

      Lying on my couch every night doing nothing but dreading having to go back to work the next day. And then staying up way too late, still doing nothing but lying on the couch, because if I actually went to bed it felt like the next work day would come sooner.

      I also got really cynical. I generally have a healthy sense of sarcasm, but when I realized that it had turned to cynicism that really concerned me.

      My job at the time involved a close-up look at some of the worst/saddest aspects of my community, so I found it helpful to get out and do things that reminded me that I didn’t live in a totally awful place, like taking walks through the park or going to cultural events. But ultimately that wasn’t enough to solve the problem because I was dealing with terrible manager and and extremely toxic workplace.

      Reply
    21. MommyMD

      You lose empathy. Minor things bother you. Inside you don’t give AF. I know when I start to feel like this I need to act.

      Reply
    22. Anonym

      My symptoms were pretty similar to others’s, esp. anxiety and lack of motivation, but I think I’ve found the early warning alarm: I start avoiding my friends’ phone calls because I have no emotional energy left for the people I love. That’s now my emergency klaxon, the minute I see a lifelong friend calling and I think “oh no, please, I can’t, why are you calling me…” I need to stop, rest, talk to bf, talk to therapist, something.

      Reply
    23. Susan K

      I got really burned out at my old job because it was a shift work job, so assignments were made by shift and there was little accountability. If someone didn’t get all of his or her work done, it would just get added to the next shift’s workload. I was one of the few people who actually cared about making sure all of the work got done, so I was constantly stuck picking up the slack for people who did the bare minimum and surfed the web for half the day. I stayed in the job for many years because it paid very well with lots of overtime. I finally got to a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore and I took a “promotion” that nominally pays more but rarely has paid overtime, so it’s actually less pay for the year. It comes with its own problems (see my post below, haha), but I definitely feel less burned out.

      In addition to the more common signs like dreading the workday and crying on the last day of the weekend:

      – I found myself wishing my commute was longer. I have a 15-minute drive, and when I arrived at work, I would think, “Ugh, I’m here already? I wish I could just drive another 15 minutes.” (Obviously not rational, since if I did have a longer commute, I’d just have to wake up earlier and leave earlier.) Then I would have to sit in my car for a few minutes just to work up the will to walk into the building.

      – I had to give myself pep talks to motivate me to do things. “The sooner I start, the sooner I finish.” “I just have to get through one more day this week.” I have always tried to get the worst parts of my job out of the way as early as possible, so each day, when I was done with all the worst things, I would say, “All I have left now is the easy part.”

      – I was buying more stuff. I am normally very frugal and rarely buy things for myself. If I really want something, I put it on my wishlist and hope a family member buys it for me for Christmas or my birthday, and if not, reevaluate whether I still want it. But when I was really burned out, I lost some of that restraint and just bought things when I wanted them instead of waiting.

      Reply
    24. Quinalla

      The signs for me are:
      -Stop caring about things I normally care about a lot, at home and/or work
      -Procrastinating on everything, I often will procrastinate on one things because it’s hard/scary/etc., but if I’m putting off everything I know I’m in trouble
      -Everything and everyone is pissing me off, especially if my husband starts to notice as usually no one notices when I’m pissed unless I want them to know
      -Lots of ruminating
      -When I start having a hard time making simple decisions
      -Migraines & jaw clenching/teeth grinding while awake – I do it while I sleep pretty much constantly

      Recovering and keeping burn-out at bay in order of how much the strategy helps me:
      -Regular vacations and take at least one week of vacation in a row, I usually try to do this twice a year and then scatter the remaining days throughout
      -Exercise (4-5 times a week of cardio plus as much walking as I can everyday)
      -Enough alone time (I need a lot more than most people I know, so I work hard to prioritize this too)
      -Getting enough sleep (this one is SO HARD, but I’m trying to prioritize it)
      -Time with loved ones
      -Reading & Board games & Computer Games
      -Watching TV/movies/other media that I enjoy

      I try to combine as many good things together as possible. I get in my reading or media time while I exercise and also alone time. I play a lot of board & computer games with my loved ones. And so on :)

      Reply
    25. Double A

      Crying a lot. I am not a big crier, and if work makes me cry more than a couple of times a year, I know it’s bad.

      Reply
    26. Jadelyn

      The two biggies for me are frustration and how I feel when I get up on weekdays.

      I know when I start getting more frustrated, faster, over smaller things than usual, I need to take some time off. If I’m having to curb myself, hard, to keep from snapping at coworkers, I know I’m getting burnt out.

      And while a certain amount of “ugh, do I have to go to work today?” is normal for me (thanks depression!), there’s a qualitative difference between normal “bleh, can’t I go back to bed?” and standing in the entryway, shoes on and purse in hand, staring blankly at the wall and trying to convince myself to walk out the door and go to work. At that point I know I need some time off.

      So far I’ve been able to combat small-scale burnout just by taking a week off. Having 5 days to myself – plus the weekends on either end – to just dick around the house, play video games, go to a movie, etc. works wonders for my capacity to cope with the world.

      I’m actually taking a full 2 weeks off later this month, in fact, because I realized I’m hitting That Point again and I just need some real, sustained, consecutive time away from my job, where I don’t have to be constantly planning for the next upcoming crisis and can just exist in the world for a little while.

      Reply
    27. DinoGirl

      I was angry a lot and complained about work all the time. I suffered about leaving, but a month in, it was The Best decision.

      Reply
    28. Even Steven

      For me, in my last job, it all crystallized for me when I looked back over my grocery receipts and realized I was buying a jar of antacids pretty much every week. The stress, long hours, ethical dilemmas & inept colleagues all just seemed like noise. But the recycling bin of Tums jars told me what I needed to know. I was already having and ignoring serious medical issues related to the stress, so the Tums told me to quit with no new job ready. So I did that – took 4 months off, slept a LOT, then got back in the game at a slower, calmer, wonderfully bureaucratic place.

      Reply
    29. Tenebrae

      Weirdly, one of my burnout symptoms is working even harder. My healthy work/life boundaries drop and I start crazy pushing myself, staying late, working through lunch, that kind of thing. I think my subconscious decides that if I’m going to be miserable at work, there might as well be a reason.

      Reply
      1. the cat's meow

        If you have a long commute, when the commute just leaves you more and more drained and the job just isn’t worth it anymore. The only blessing of a long commute, you decide that every day if it is or not.

        Reply
    30. Richard Williams

      It shares lot of the same symptoms as clinical depression and be easily confused as such.

      At one job I thought I needed to see a shrink (which helped a little) but it turned out what I needed was to be fired!

      Reply
    31. Who Plays Backgammon?

      Burn-out is a sneaky progression. I moved to another team a few years ago that serves clients who are often very difficult and help-rejecting. We provide the tools and guidance to help themselves, but they’re used to having their hands held and everything done for them. At the same time, we’re critically understaffed for the workload. It started with getting angry during the day. Then I was going home angry. Then going to bed angry. When I started waking up in the middle of the night angry, I knew how bad it was. Then I started waking up angry and cursing the alarm clock. The job wore me out so much I didn’t have any kind of life, much less the energy or brain power for a job search. I’ve always cared about doing my job well, even if I didn’t particularly care about the job itself. Now I go through the motions, but I’ve never felt so apathetic about a job in my life. That’s a totally new experience for me. When articles came out recently about workplace burn-out, I saw myself all over the page.

      Reply
    32. Evergreen

      My ‘symptoms’ were quite similar to a lot of other ones here: anger at minor things, staying up late/dreading going to bed, sleeping in/not caring about being ‘on time’. Spending huge amounts of time on minor things (emails, filing etc) and blowing deadlines or staying back at work late.

      Solution: I quit. It took me I would say 18 months in my new job to really feel fully recovered. When I start feeling it again here, I make a list of what’s not going to get done, tell my boss, and then make a point of being on time every day and leaving on time every day, and spending lunch out of the office or going running. Book dinners with friends, book nights at home, book weekend day trips – anything that means I can’t ‘oh just work late to get that done’. Make sure the list of things that are getting done is my personal priorities, not other peoples. And reaffirm to myself that i’m choosing a life first, career second.

      Reply
  7. Can I apply for this job?

    I’m trying to escape my toxic workplace (I posted last week following my dad’s advice and about how someone spit on another person in our department, update no one was fired!! Hopefully reprimanded at the very least, but from what I hear, the person who spit produces good work so… probably not gonna be let go.)

    I have two jobs that I’m very interested in applying. The problem is…

    Job #1, is the almost the exact same job I do but in a different city department. The two cities (mine, and other job) are considered rivals in a way. My boss also knows many of the people in the other city department. My dream was to go into another job and have zero chance of having to interact with her professionally but if I applied to this job, I’m afraid she will be tipped off that I applied, and if there was a chance I was hired, I still would have to collaborate with their department from time to time.

    Job #2 is in a different company and my experience and education actually aligns with it!! And it sounds like a job I would enjoy and both feel comfortable doing well. However, the salary range listed is at least $10k more than I make now, which maybe it’s my imposter syndrome, but part of me feels like if it pays well, I don’t deserve it or it would be a long shot of even getting an interview. Logically, the experience they ask for is what I have (at least at a minimum) but my brain can’t wrap around being paid that much, especially since I’ve been underpaid currently and after grad school. Should I try to apply anyways?

    Reply
    1. EditAnd EditOr

      Apply for both! Applying doesn’t mean you have to take them, if you get offers, remember. You can apply, see what happens, find out more, and decide later!

      Reply
      1. Release the Kraken

        I second this advice! I threw out applications for every job that was tempting when I was looking. The time to deliberate between two jobs is if it comes down to getting an offer from both. Not to be pessimistic, but I applied to so many jobs that I was 100% qualified for but I was never contacted for an interview or even a phone screening. The job market where I live is tough so there’s no reason to give up on applying to one tempting job for the sake of a slightly more tempting one.

        As for possibly having contact with your boss, you’ll probably find that’s easier and much less awkward once you’ve had some distance from her. As long as you can remain professional with her you should be fine.

        Good luck fleeing your toxic situation! I gave notice at my toxic job and I am internally doing a happy dance every day I go to work. It’s so much easier to deal with the annoyances now that I know I’m on my way to better things in a couple of weeks.

        Reply
        1. Can I apply for this job?

          Congrats on getting out of your toxic job!! And thank you Edit for your advice. I think I will apply to both because y’all are right, nothing could come of it anyways. (Although I still have a fear that someone will let my boss know, but if it comes to that I could maybe deny it…) and hopefully you’re right that with distance it won’t seem as weird to interact with her! I will definitely stay professional either way.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Who cares if your boss finds out? I’m obviously not suggesting that you announce it. On the other hand, it doesn’t sound like you could get fired over it, and the place sounds like it’s toxic already.

            Reply
      2. Clisby

        Yeah, apply for both! The worst that can happen is you don’t get either, and that’s exactly what will happen if you don’t apply. You keep your resume/cover letter up to date, you get more experience with interviews, etc.

        Reply
    2. Hermione

      Heck yes you should apply to Job #2 anyways! What is the worst that could happen?: They could reject you. You’re not any worse off than you are now except for the time invested in applying. The best?: You get a great job with a better salary and no longer have to deal with a workplace/boss that is okay (!) with people spitting (!!) at one another (!!!). Rewards outweigh the risks, my friend.

      Write a kick-butt cover letter and submit it. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        Thank you! You’re right. I think I am just afraid of not getting it, which is always a real possibility, but I will never know unless I try.

        Reply
        1. MsM

          Yeah, I’ve pulled the “this is way too perfect for me to get my hopes up, so let me rule myself out before they can” mind game on myself way too many times before. It sucks. Don’t fall for it.

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Absolutely, what MSM said. Had I let my imposter syndrome get to me, I wouldn’t be sitting in a new job (fully remote to boot) making about 27% more than what I made at my last job! The job posting seemed tailor-made for my skill set in a lot of ways, though there was one piece I wasn’t too familiar with, but I didn’t let the doubt about whether I’d be able to do that piece of the job keep me from applying – I figured if I wasn’t the best fit, the hiring manager would tell me.

            Let the company decide whether you’re right for Job 2. Good luck!

            Reply
    3. Policy Wonk

      Sounds like you work in government (“different city department”). Government wages are often lower than comparable private sector wages because the government provides better benefits and employment protections. So I would see the $10K salary increase as comparable, and possibly even less if the benefits don’t match up.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        I do! That makes sense. From what I can see on their website, job #2 has similar benefits, but it is a further commute. I’ll try and apply and see what happens.

        Reply
    4. No Green No Haze

      Apply to Job #2 anyway. You have the experience; you have the education; you’re underpaid. Apply apply apply.

      As far as your brain interference goes, here’s what works for me. I just bring to mind that Hewlett Packard internal study where they found that men apply for jobs when they’re 60% qualified, and women apply when they’re 100% qualified. I then decide that I’m at least as good as mediocre IF NOT BETTER and I behave with the unshakeable confidence of a 60%er until whatever it is that needs doing gets done.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        I have heard of that study before! I like that “confidence of a 60%er” XD thank you for the encouragement!

        Reply
        1. Argh!

          My first thought when I read your post was to assume you were female! Go for it! You need the escape, you need the money, and you need the self-respect.

          One side-effect of a toxic workplace is causing self-doubt. If you can manage it, try to find a therapist for short-term therapy during your job search. I have been bringing printouts of email exchanges between me and my boss to my therapy appointments. She has confirmed that 1) I’m professional in my communication style and 2) My boss is a jerk!

          Some of what my boss does is really demeaning and personally hurtful. I would like to think that I can distinguish between legitimate and crazy “feedback,” but after years reporting to this banshee, I realized I need help before and during my job search.

          Reply
      2. Booksalot

        This is a good metric; I do something similar but didn’t know this statistic. I try to think “What would the bro-iest Chad of Chaddington do?” and bluff my self-confidence up to his level.

        Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        My go-to is “What would a mediocre white man do?” when I’m feeling imposter-y about something.

        I also saw a tweet the other day that I liked, something like “Embrace your imposter syndrome. You are a trickster goddess and you’ve got everyone dancing to your tune. Just go with it.”

        Reply
      4. Who Plays Backgammon?

        A wise former boss once told me that a job posting is a wish list and employers don’t necessarily expect to get all of it, so if you have at least 50% of what the ad wants, apply!

        Reply
    5. Susan K

      Definitely apply for Job #2! The worst that can happen is that you don’t get it. If you’re currently underpaid, it makes complete sense to apply for a higher-paying job. That’s how career advancement works, anyway — you apply for jobs that are a level up from you current job.

      For Job #1, you will have to decide whether it’s worth the chance that you might have to continue to have contact with your old boss, but it’s always a possibility that you will run into people from your past, wherever you work. If they are decent people, they will not tip off your boss that you applied.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        True, you’re right. In the moment, any idea of having to work with my boss again terrifies me, because I know she will be very upset at me working anywhere else, especially a rival department. But I hope with time and killing with kindness, this won’t be as big of a deal. Thanks!

        Reply
    6. Tallulah in the Sky

      Like all the other : apply for job n°2 !

      But more than that : do some market research. Are you underpaid now ? Are the two jobs different, and that’s why there’s a difference in salaries ? Maybe the salary posted is even on the lower end of the spectrum for that job/industry/city… So do your research, it might give you a boost of confidence, and if you find out it’s on the lower end or in the middle of the market rate, ask for more if you get an offer (not unreasonably of course, but even 2k more is awesome, and a great experience for you).

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        Our field posts a salary survey every year which is super helpful! I use that to gauge how well I’m paid compared to peers in my same experience range +/- the cities we live in. Job #2 is a new position and for what it’s asking for in duties, does not seem more complicated than my current job (in a way, I’m sure there are more nuances than the job description) but somehow is paying much more at a minimum! It could be that it’s because it’s in a big metro area? But I will definitely do more research on it and if it turns out it’s lower range for the market, that would feel like a slight relief lol. Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Windward

          Big metro area often means higher cost of living. Be sure to factor that in as you look at numbers.

          Reply
    7. Ann O'Nemity

      Spitting? WTAF. I can’t imagine not firing someone for spitting on another person at work…. It basically sends the message that there will be zero consequences no matter what. Yikes.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        A coworker said “Well, it’s hard to get fired when you work for the government…” and this is the first time I’m working for the government so I’m not sure how true that statement is. However, our department is a hot mess. So maybe we are outliers!

        Reply
        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that you can spit on people in your office and that it’s a government position. Yeah it’s hard to get fired…if you’re just inept and lazy, there’s a lot of hoops if you’re meeting baseline. However every CBA out there has a clause that says if you’re doing violent things, which includes spitting because it’s assault ffs, you can at least suspend someone to investigate and fire them if the findings are indeed “yeah, they spit on that person.”

          Reply
          1. Can I apply for this job?

            I would really hope the spitter gets some kind of action taken upon, but since I don’t know either of them, I can’t say. But I totally agree! When I say this is the tip of the iceberg of horrible actions that people have done at this department, I’m not kidding. Our HR is one single guy, who doesn’t have the best rep around, but… I don’t know. Once I find another job I’m strongly thinking about writing an anonymous letter to the city about the department because it’s really worrisome about the things that happen here.

            Reply
            1. Fortitude Jones

              I think that letter is a good idea. The fact that a city government office is allowing violence in the workplace is astounding – I would think whoever oversees your department would want that shut down ASAP.

              Reply
        2. Observer

          Yes, it’s hard to get fired. But NOT *impossible*. This should have resulted in visible and immediate consequences to start with.

          Reply
    8. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Apply for #2! It probably pays more because they have a bigger budget and are closer to market levels, lots of jobs are massively underpaid and haven’t been overhauled salary wise in over a decade! Don’t let that detour you.

      I know the feeling, when I moved, the salaries went up by 25% and I had a huge panic attack when I got here and dove in. It was that “I think I’m being paid too much, I’ve never seen this kind of money before….do I even deserve this?”feeling. But believe me, you deserve that extra 10k.

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        Oh that panic attack is so relatable!! That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve never had this kind of money, do I even deserve it is 100% on point for me right now. But I’m now trying to frame it as, well if I don’t think I deserve it, then I wouldn’t think my peers or friends deserve it either (and they do!) or I think about the college freshman I mentor, and I would hate for them to think they wouldn’t deserve a higher salary either. It’s gonna take some shift in my own thinking.

        Reply
        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Yes. Exactly. You shouldn’t suffer anymore than anyone else out there. You deserve money and nice things.

          Businesses and institutions exist and need people to run them, that’s what a salary is for. As long as you’re showing up and doing your job, you deserve to be paid whatever that job is worth. Nobody should think they should work for free or that they deserve less because of any of the things that our minds will tell us. It’s not greedy to be paid. It’s not selfish to spend money on yourself or to take care of yourself.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          My friend does freelance stuff. His peers were making 35-50 per hour. He was charging 15/hr. We argued.
          He moved to 20/hr and stayed there for a while. We argued.
          Then he moved to 25/hr. By this point his peers were getting well over 50 /hr.

          In an odd twist to this story, he decided to bump to $30 per hour on his own. I think what happened was he had to see himself being of that value to people. One thing he does is try to figure out how he can give each job added value. You may find that you can get your thinking to shift from “I am not worth this money’ to “how can I give my employer the most value for what they are paying me?” This gives the brain something new to chew on for a while.

          Reply
    9. Leela

      I’m not sure if this has been brought up yet but spitting is assault in some places! If your HR won’t do anything about it you’re still able to report it to the police as assault

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        I wasn’t the one spit on (it was another coworker in the department, but I don’t interact with them) so I don’t know if I’d be comfortable reporting it for them! I’m not sure if someone else told them they can do that though, but I hope so.

        Reply
    10. triplehiccup

      Unless there’s a network connection with a toxic boss (like with job #1), there’s literally no harm in applying. Even the time spent on your resume and cover letter isn’t sunk, because you can generally reuse at least part of those materials.

      More broadly: I can’t think of a reason why a pay increase would be a sign NOT to apply as long as you meet a good portion of the requirements. In fact a new job is generally by far the best way to grow your salary. Even increases much larger than 10k are also not red flags of your ineligibility. For example, I doubled my salary going from service industry to teaching high school (22k to 45k), then got a 30% increase going into research for an education consultancy (50k to 65), then a 70% increase with my newest education-related job at a federal agency (74k to 122). Granted it’s a little different because I was taking on different roles altogether, but I hope it’s useful to see some actual numbers since that’s not something we typically share with people. Basically: embrace your “worth” even if you have to fake it til you make it!

      Most broadly: imposter syndrome is a real thing but it doesn’t have to determine your life decisions. You didn’t ask for advice on how to deal with it, but I hope you won’t mind me sharing what has worked for me: coming to deeply realize that I can be afraid and intimidated and yet still do the thing that scares and intimidates me. Embrace the evidence of your competence and abilities. Experiment with different ways to tolerate fear so that you can live with it and not for it or within its confines. Find low-stakes situations to practice doing things that scare you and experiencing failure so you can handle fear and failure when the stakes are higher. At this point I’ve kinda rewired myself so that I’m more drawn to activities and decisions that scare me, and it’s been a really enriching change.

      Best of luck finding a new and better job!

      Reply
      1. Can I apply for this job?

        Oh wow! This was so helpful, thank you! It is SUPER helpful to see the numbers, I really appreciate that. Would you say you’re mid career? Or pretty senior into your career? I think it would also help me to think about timelines too! And I also appreciate your advice on the imposter syndrome. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right, almost everything I’ve done so far I’ve been pretty afraid of it, but I still do it and I haven’t been fired! Or made to step down from a volunteer position. Thank you for your encouragement!

        Reply
        1. triplehiccup

          Glad it was helpful and I didn’t overstep! I’m sure you have lots of great proof that you can thrive in new or overwhelming situations and hope that you can appreciate that about yourself!

          I’m early/mid-career? I switched from service industry to education 9 years ago. I taught full-time for 5 years and then worked a year part-time while I finished up a master’s in statistics. That got me the consultancy job (research and evaluation analyst was my title), which I worked for 2 years 9 months. My new role uses my education and R&E background but isn’t exactly like anything I’ve done before; basically each job built on previous related, but not identical, experience (I had tutored for many years before teaching). I’m hoping to be a federal lifer and get variety from my passion projects.

          Reply
    11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Apply to both! Even if you have a 10% chance of getting Job #2 (which I suspect is not true—you’re probably a stronger candidate than you realize), that’s more than the 100% chance of not getting it if you don’t apply. There’s really nothing to lose from pursuing both opportunities, except that you may land with a job that pays you better, is more fulfilling, and takes you further away from toxic people.

      Reply
    12. wondHRland

      Definitely go for # 2. Just because it’s more money does’t mean you’re not qualified -that’s how most of the world gets decent raises these days!. also, since you work in Govt currently, you’re probably underpaid compared to market.
      If you want to apply to #1 as well, just be aware that your current boss may hear about it, and if he/she is a toxic manager, it could impact you negatively if you don’t get the job.

      Reply
    13. Quinalla

      Definitely apply for both, don’t be afraid of the salary bump of #2. You said you are underpaid so a 10k bump I wouldn’t even blink at. I was so underpaid at my last job that my bump for my new job was just over $20k and I was hoping for at least $10k. Impostor syndrome is a real bear sometimes, but you’ve got this! Worst case as others have said you don’t get the job, but you have to throw your hat in to have any chance. Nothing wrong with failing to get the job, there are lots of reasons that happens that really have nothing to do with you. And if you do get an offer, don’t just ask for the lowest salary or accept whatever they offer, do your research and see what makes sense. And don’t forget benefits, vacation and other perks. If there is something important you want, ask for it! I asked for more vacation time and I’m so, so glad I did as I really value vacation time, but yours might be something else.

      Reply
    14. TPS Cover Sheet

      Apply for both, and if both say yes take #2. And rub it back in when you go spit on the plebes at your prevoius work. Nott that you would actually do it, just figuratively.

      Reply
    15. Observer

      Apply to both jobs.

      You know you’ve been underpaid, so why should you think that a job that pays more than you are getting now is “overpaying”? Keep on reminding yourself that this pay bump would simply be bringing you up to market levels.

      As for the other job, I get why you would not ever want to talk to your boss again. On the other hand, if you did have to work with her to some extent, you would be in enough of a different situation that it shouldn’t have to be terrible. And, if everything checks out otherwise, it would have to be better than what you are dealing with now.

      Reply
  8. TheBean

    Hi, I was wondering if y’all could help me with an academic job/CV question.
    I am applying to an academic job. This job states that Experience in programming language X is a plus- I have experience in X, but haven’t touched it in 15 years. While I’m confident I could pick it up again- it would take some effort.
    I was thinking about putting the job and the dates that I used X on my CV and say “used X to blablabla” but not list it under my current skills. Does this make sense or should I leave the job off completely. I had been leaving this job off my CV (because it was only for 2 years and it happened 15 years ago).
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Dear liza dear liza

      Put it on. An academic CV is much more comprehensive than a resume, so it won’t look weird. Plus, hiring in academia often involves a points system, usually in a rubric, so it’s to your advantage to address every required and preferred element. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. TheBean

        Sorry, I meant to type more!
        Thanks, I’m not sure if it makes a difference because its a postdoc job and I’m sending it directly to the PI. But I’m going to put it in there anyways.

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          I’d include an explanation of how you used it in your email to the PI, which will serve as a cover letter.

          Reply
      2. I want to be Amy Santiago too

        Put it on! I just got a job partly because of experience I had (checks calendar) 19 years ago. Well, I got the interview because of that, and no interview, no job.

        Reply
        1. Who Plays Backgammon?

          Glad to hear this! I’m going after jobs that require my best skills, which I haven’t used professionally for some time. I got sidetracked into a more admin-sounding job (it’s not traditional admin, but the title makes it sound so, but that’s another story…) during the recession and am trying to get back to where I want to be. It’s been so easy to put myself out of the running by thinking “Oh, they’d never hire me…why bother trying?”

          Reply
      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Absolutely this. Put the prior job on your CV and mention your use of the programming language they’re seeking. Unlike a resume, there’s no real penalty for a CV being incredibly long (especially if it’s accurate), and folks often prefer to see the long-term themes running throughout your employment history.

        Reply
    2. deesse877

      Agree that it should be present. I also recommend that you look up sample CV’s for your field; in mine, both a comprehensive list of positions and a separate list of skills are common. More generally, where most resumes are supposed to communicate something relevant to the job quickly, CV’s are usually taken as the story of your entire career, and read somewhat more closely.

      Reply
    3. Ama

      I second putting it on. If you get called for an interview and it is a really key piece of the job it will likely come up and then you can explain the exact circumstances.

      I would especially do this with academic jobs (I used to work in academia and helped facilitate the filling of several positions) because some universities have such byzantine rules around their job descriptions that that “experience with X a plus” might have been put in several years ago and might be a much more minor part of the job now. I know the university I used to work for required a huge review process for even a tiny change to any existing job’s description (that took months because our central HR was notoriously slow), so a lot of departments would just post whatever the old description was if they didn’t have three months to wait for HR to approve the change.

      (My other piece of advice is to make sure if you’re called for an interview you make sure you get a good understanding of the job as it is now and don’t assume the job description is accurate.)

      Reply
    4. TPS Cover Sheet

      I list mainframe FOCUS, doing JCL’s on an OS/360, and COBOL (even my professor passed me promising I never went into programming rather than BI). And that is last century so 20 years ago. However I was an eunuch, not a lord ( erm, pronouncing unix and a random Galactica reference). But as opposed to any millenial script kiddie, I’d be happy in the green glow as I understand the jnderlying tech… a bit like riding a bicycle.

      And I still would do it rather stick my head in a bucket of glue… erm… do windows admin and .Net

      Reply
  9. Susan K

    I posted in an open thread in January (link to the post in reply) about my coworker, Fergus, who left a huge backlog when he got promoted to management and I took over his old job. I promised an update in 6 months, so here it is!

    I talked to my manager about the situation. I had been concerned that, since Fergus is such a smooth talker, my manager wouldn’t believe me or would think I was blowing things out of proportion. It turns out my manager was aware that Fergus is a dirtbag and left things in bad shape for me, but at the same time, didn’t seem all that concerned. Fergus did mislead him about some things (he told my manager that he “trained” me or “helped” me with a lot of things, when the extent of his training/help was to forward me an e-mail or randomly mention something in passing), but my manager at least understood my general situation. He told me to prioritize the projects first (since they have fairly rigid deadlines), learning the job, and keeping up with the current work. For catching up on the backlog, he said to review and file the records in a reasonable timeframe, and no big rush to review old data.

    My original strategy was to keep up with my current workload while gradually catching up with the backlog, but then Fergus told my manager that I had to review all of the records from 2018 by the first week of March before I prepared my annual report to the regulatory agency, because if any of the records needed corrections (and many of them did), the data in my report would be wrong. I had to put my current workload on hold to catch up on the backlog of 100+ document reviews. The upside was that my manager approved me to work 20 hours of paid overtime just to work on document reviews (normally, we do not get paid overtime — just comp time, which is worthless to me), which was a good start, but not nearly enough, and I fell behind on my current work while focusing on the document backlog. Fergus did help me with the annual report because the report covers the previous calendar year and my manager told him he was still responsible for the 2018 report (good thing, because he had not prepared or organized any of the information that goes into it over the course of the year). Really, things could have been worse — Fergus could have gotten a job at another company and left me to figure out everything on my own, so I am grateful for the few things he has done to help.

    A couple of weeks after my open thread post, Fergus reassigned another 20+ projects to me in one week. I made a spreadsheet listing all of the projects that he had reassigned to me and what percentage of the original timeframe was left on each when reassigned. I haven’t shown it to my manager because he doesn’t really care as long as I don’t miss any deadlines. I had to get extensions on a few projects for things that were completely outside of my control (weather constraints, needing new software that was delayed in being released, etc.), which sucks because I lose points on my performance review for even a single extension, but not as much as missing a deadline. I have finished most of the projects Fergus reassigned to me, so now I’m mainly working on new projects.

    I still get blindsided with nasty surprises from time to time. Fergus will forward me an e-mail, and when I look through the whole e-mail chain, I will see that someone who didn’t know that I am now the Teapot Spout Analyst had repeatedly e-mailed him about spouts for months, and he just ignored it until it was overdue or causing a delay with someone else’s project, at which point he finally forwarded it to me. Fergus will also frequently tell me about long-standing spouts issues that he didn’t feel the need to address when he was in charge of spouts, but now that they’re my problem, he thinks they need to be addressed now.

    I go in early and stay late almost every day, and work from home for several hours every weekend, and I have finally gotten to a point where I can breathe and I’m not constantly down to the wire on a project deadline. I have reviewed and filed over 300 documents in the last 6 months, completely caught up on the document backlog Fergus left for me, and at one point completely cleared my document review queue (this was short-lived, though — as soon as I cleared my queue, another 30 documents came in all at once). I am up to date on reviewing current data (which I do every week), but haven’t done much with the old data that Fergus never reviewed. I didn’t mention this before, but there was a department reorganization when I became Teapot Spout Analyst, which resulted in me doing the workload that 1.5 people used to do, in addition to catching up on Fergus’s backlog. The dream is that, one day, I will be caught up enough that I can have my weekends back. My manager has not really checked in at all on how I am doing with catching up on the backlog, other than occasionally ask me when I’m going to finish a project when the deadline is approaching. Fergus was able to get away with his slacking because nobody else at the company knows much about spouts, so they just trusted him to do his job correctly, and I think my manager has the same attitude toward me.

    Reply
    1. RandomU...

      This is great that you’ve kept track of all of this. Might I suggest sending this type of update to your boss on a regular basis. So maybe monthly or quarterly.

      I would want to know if my employee has been working this hard and the results. I would also talk to your boss about slowing down some of the weekends. The silver lining is fairly soon you shouldn’t be subject to the Fergus Tsunami’s of old and overdue work.

      Reply
    2. sheworkshardforthemoney

      I think you need to have a meeting with your manager and show him your spreadsheets and how much work that you have accomplished over the past six months. Include the documentation of where Fergus did not pass the needed information along in a timely manner. Your manager sounds disengaged if he is not regularly checking your workload with you. It’s also in your best interest because it sounds like Fergus may throw you under the bus again and manage to take credit for all the catch-up work that you have done.

      Reply
      1. Ama

        Seconded. The fact that Fergus is still “finding” projects he should have handed over to you when he first changed jobs AND that he isn’t bothering to forward important emails to you until months later is a HUGE problem and one your manager should know about.

        Reply
      2. Tallulah in the Sky

        This. So much. Your manager needs to be kept in the loop, don’t wait for him to check in. And when he does, don’t just give him the bare minimum. Does he know how much time (early mornings, late nights, week-ends) you’ve spend on this ? The issues Fergus is still causing ? Have you talked to someone about Fergus’s tendency to letting things go until the last minute and expecting you to save the day ?

        I’m not saying this to berate you, but it feels like you’ve taken on a lot, and aside from that first conversation with your boss, just took on everything and dealt with it quietly, putting in a ton of hours and energy and stress. Something tells me you think you have to be able to handle it all without bothering your manager with it, but that’s not right. It’s not a bother, it’s part of his job. Ideally, you would have kept your manager updated on the extra workload you got and the fact that you don’t have enough time to do your “old” job and the new tasks. When you realised you’d have to ask for extensions, you could have gone to your manager and explain the situation instead of just taking the hit. When Fergus repeatedly set you up to fail, you could have gone to your manager to find a solution to this, since this makes your job fairly difficult (after trying to talk to Fergus first, of course).

        All this falls under your manager’s job. But he can’t do that if he doesn’t know the full situation. If you’re still putting in more hours than others, please consider to go to your manager to talk about your workload and how to get it back to something reasonable (meaning, something that won’t result in burn out in another six months). I would also report the issues you’ve had doing your job right when Fergus isn’t doing his. Because right now, everything that falls through the cracks reflects on you, not on him.

        Reply
        1. Susan K

          My manager has some idea of the extra time I’m working. It’s really kind of annoying because every day, as he walks past my desk at the end of the day, he says, “Susan, go home!” in a half-joking tone of voice, like, wink wink, I’m telling you to go home even though I know you always stay late because you have such a huge workload.

          One day, he actually stopped at my desk and asked why I always stay late, what’s going on that I can’t finish all of my work during regular hours. I explained to him that I’m still catching up on the backlog Fergus left, that I’m spending hours of extra time on document reviews every week because they were not done correctly and I either have to correct them myself or send them back to the teapot makers for corrections, that I’ve had to deal with unexpected crises like X, Y, and Z. His answer was basically, “Oh,” and he never asked me about it again.

          He has been very nice about giving me extensions. I decided to wait until my performance review to see if I need to show him my spreadsheet, because I get the sense that he may not count the extensions in my performance review, since he recognizes that I have only requested extensions for things that were beyond my control.

          I have mentioned some of the problems that Fergus is causing, like the last-minute e-mail forwards, and my manager doesn’t have much of a response to any of it, other than, “That’s not good,” or “Keep up the good work.” I think he just doesn’t know enough about spouts to know whether I’m doing a good job, so he assumes everything is cool unless I am missing deadlines or holding up other people’s work.

          Reply
          1. Temperance

            I honestly don’t think waiting is a good idea. You’re having to ask for extensions solely because Fergus was promoted. That’s … messed up. Think about it: he’s now promoted above you, and did a crap job when he was actually working.

            Your boss needs to know exactly what Fergus is dumping on you. I think maybe Fergus’ boss needs to know, too.

            Reply
          2. SarahKay

            Honestly, I would show him the spreadsheet ahead of your performance review.
            I don’t know how your performance reviews work, but for my company the reviews are all written up and approved by grand-boss before they get delivered to us. It’d be a lot easier for my boss to give me a good review if he knows in advance how many obstacles I’ve had to overcome, rather than me sharing it during the review and him having to revise it from mediocre to excellent, and get grand-boss to approve the revision, and so on.

            Reply
            1. Farm Girl

              I totally agree with this. It is too late by performance review time. Include it in your self appraisal, but give him months of notice now. You wouldn’t believe how far in advance that management calculates raises or ranks people.

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                “You wouldn’t believe how far in advance that management calculates raises or ranks people.”

                This. We open up the tools to calculate raises starting in December. They’re not due until mid-February and the employees get their raises in March. From an employee perspective, they’re thinking end of February/early March is when they’d need to bring this info to their manager, but it would be far too late at that point because the budget would’ve already been allocated back in January sometime.

                Reply
          3. Filosofickle

            I don’t think it’s “nice” that he’s been giving extensions. Those extensions are necessary due to your workload, not a favor to you.

            Reply
            1. Susan K

              Yeah, I know it’s not a favor to me and he’s not granting the extensions to be nice, but what I meant by that is that every time I have asked for an extension, he grants it without question, and he has indicated that he knows that it’s not my fault that I need the extension.

              Reply
              1. Lavinia

                Given how much extra work you’re doing, and how you’re cleaning up the messes left by Fergus, of course your manager grants you extensions without judging you. It’s in his best interests to keep you happy! You are making his job very easy.

                It seems to me that you perhaps don’t realize your value at your workplace. Your manager is doing the bare minimum and you are working an excessive amount. Imagine how others would react in your situation. Could you be taking on too much and being too nice about it, when others would be more assertive and establish stronger boundaries? Are you hesitant to demand better treatment from your manager?

                I think you may find that your willingness to work so hard won’t be recognized by your employer unless you explicitly show them how you’re saving them money. Honestly it seems like you are doing the work of 2 people from your description.

                Reply
                1. Evergreen

                  Perhaps I’d go a step further and say that actually your manager has shown that the way to get promoted is to *not* do this work. What did Fergus prioritise instead of this that got him his promotion? I would focus my time and energy on that (and maybe job hunting?)

                  You should be tremendously proud of the work you’ve done to catch up! But parley that into a better job!!!! Don’t wait for your current manager’s kudos!

              2. Single squirrel eating a soft pretzel

                Have you taken any pto since fergus was promoted? Vacation, even a short one is necessary – especially considering you’ve sacrificed your weekends and evenings.

                Reply
          4. DaffyDuck

            You really need to let him know how much extra work you are putting in and the status of all these items! Do this NOW before your performance review! And I certainly hope you are getting compensated for this extra work, and not donating your evenings and weekend hours to the company. If you don’t mention it they will EXPECT you to do this amount of work, at this compensation, forever.

            Reply
          5. BenAdminGeek

            I’m going out on a limb here based on your updates, so I might be way off. But it sounds like you’re being way less direct with your manager than you think you have been. If these things had happened with one of my direct reports and she’d said what you’re saying, it would sound workable to me- like this was a problem she was solving.

            I worry that either :
            a) you catch up on the backlog and are super burned out and no one cares, because they didn’t understand the effort involved. Then comes your review, and you get half the credit you deserve.
            b) you can’t catch up because Fergus keeps “finding” things that prolong this matter, and your boss becomes frustrated with you, because you’re always behind.

            I think you need to be super clear with your boss, lay out everything that’s gone on, and then lay out what you need- just to understand, documentation of what’s expected of you, a big raise, etc. Maybe nothing good comes of it, but at least you’ve documented the issue.

            Reply
          6. Zombeyonce

            Like everyone says, don’t wait! But not just because you need help, but because you want to make sure that none of the extensions on Fergus’ old projects are going to count against you. Even if that’s a normal thing to happen, you inheriting unfinished and late projects means you should be exempt from demerits for them being late.

            Don’t just tell your boss about what you’re currently doing, make sure they know that Fergus continues to send old work to you and the full range of what it is, so what you currently have to finish now is not counting everything Fergus will send to you in the near future. Even if you catch on on this work, you’ll just get more piled on. It sounds like Fergus dropped the ball on his job for a long time so you could have a couple of years of catching up to do just to get back to a baseline, which is unreasonable.

            Reply
          7. June First

            You don’t want your manager to think you’re working all those extra hours because you can’t properly manage your time. I suspect Fergus would be no help. “I don’t know why she can’t get it done during her normal work hours. I had no problems finishing my work.” Blatantly false, but from your description I can see that happening.

            Reply
          8. Single squirrel eating a soft pretzel

            You need to meet with your manager for 1:1 monthly or bimonthly. You need to go over your accomplishments and frame them as such, while detailing your work plan for the next month while you also ask for more overtime to so that you are not working 80 hour weeks. Maybe frame it as this is my work plan, and I would like 10 hours ot in the bank for any additional surprises from fergus

            Reply
      3. ..Kat..

        Please include the number of hours of over time that you are working. I am angry that you are putting in all this extra time, you are getting dinged for HIS work problems in your performance review, and he looks wonderful. Every time he sends you more of his undone work, your boss (and his boss) need to know. Can you push back- if your boss had to do some of this work, would you get better reviews? Your boss is feeling no pain because you are working so hard. He needs to appreciate better what you are doing. What would he do if you left? I think you should do whatever you can to cut your hours back to normal and make him worry that you will quit for something better. Really, what would he do if you left or were hit by a bus? The solution should not be overworking you for over six months and then giving you a lower performance rating because Fergus didn’t do his work.

        Reply
    3. Mockingjay

      Please show your spreadsheet to your supervisor. That is exactly the kind of analytical data a manager needs to evaluate workload – authorize OT, bring in additional help, prioritize (do A and B, forget about C), and more importantly, to look at the overall process. Why did no one figure out that Fergus hadn’t completed his work? Who or what system tracks this work and its due dates? If none, probably need to add a mechanism. I think your workload far exceeds what one person can reasonably handle, but without quantifying data, management has no case to get you some relief. Six months is waaay too long to be doing catchup. OT should be an occasional thing, not a way of life.

      The next time Fergus emails you, bounce it straight to your supervisor. Fergus is still up to his old tricks; ducking work by foisting it on you. Let your supervisor handle these requests.

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        I get the sense that my manager doesn’t want to know this kind of information — as long as I’m not missing any deadlines and he’s not hearing of any other problems I’m causing, he figures there’s no problem, so why should he worry about it? There is a tracking mechanism for projects, and that seems to be his main indication of how I’m doing. I have a hard enough time getting him to respond to things I really need that I hesitate to start sending him stuff that he doesn’t even care about.

        I am concerned about setting up expectations, like what happens if I get hit by a bus and they need to replace me and they don’t realize that most people won’t be able to keep up with that workload without working extra hours? But right now, that is obscured by the time I’ve been spending catching up on the backlog — my manager assumes that this is a temporary situation and I will eventually catch up on the backlog and it won’t be a problem anymore. That might even be true, but it will be hard to know until I reach an equilibrium where I only have to keep up with the current work and I don’t have to do extra catch-up work.

        Reply
        1. Mockingjay

          Reframe your first sentence. 1) It’s your manager’s job to know and deal with this info, and 2) you are not causing problems, you are trying to fix someone else’s screw-up.

          More importantly, six months is NOT a temporary effort. You have been trying to catch up for 6 months and it hasn’t happened. It’s not going to happen. There aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s okay to tell your supervisor that the workload is unsustainable for one person. It’s okay to tell supervisor, “I want to work on my own stuff. Find someone else to catch up on Fergus’s crap – I need a break.” It’s okay not to work on the weekend. It’s okay to do what you can for 8 hours, clock out, and go home at the end of the day. If you find another job, the company will limp along until someone is hired.

          This is not a healthy work environment. Wouldn’t it be better to spend all of this energy looking for a role where you’ll be appreciated and not overworked?

          Reply
        2. Analytical Tree Hugger

          To be blunt, too bad for your manager. It is a manager’s job to 1) be aware of these issues and 2) to find solutions to those issues. Do you have any relationship to your grandboss? They should be looped in if your manager doesn’t seem to care.

          As other have stated in other threads, the only way this whole situation is going to be fixed is if you make it a problem your manager has to deal with. It sounds like you’re hourly, so not being given overtime is illegal AND is setting up false impressions, which ACTIVELY HARMS the organization.

          Rhetorical question: Why in the world was Fergus promoted? Some idiotic “Maybe with more responsibility Fergus will do better work” thinking we’ve heard of elsewhere?

          Reply
          1. Susan K

            I am an exempt employee, so the unpaid extra hours are not illegal.

            It has been a bit of a surprise to realize how little my manager checks up on my work, although I guess it shouldn’t have been considering that Fergus got away with slacking on his work for so long. We were supposed to have a mid-year evaluation recently, and my manager sent all of us teapot analysts a self-evaluation questionnaire. It had questions about what accomplishments we’ve had since the last review, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what help we need to be able to do our jobs more effectively. I mentioned a lot of this stuff (accomplishments of catching up on the backlog, completing huge numbers of projects, needing help with improving the quality of the reports I get from the teapot makers, etc.), and I am almost certain that he never read it.

            Fergus was promoted because he’s a smooth talker and a charming guy, and he convinced my grand-boss that he was amazing at his job and deserved a promotion. My grand-boss is very much into a strict chain of command, so he trusts the managers under him implicitly. Fergus is his right-hand man and he takes anything negative that is said about Fergus (which is a lot, mostly from Fergus’s subordinates) with a grain of salt.

            Reply
            1. Abigail

              This extra information means it’s doubly important for you to document what you are doing. Your manager is not doing their job and you could very well suffer the unfair consequences of that for a loooong time.

              Since Fergus seems protected and guaranteed to keep his job despite being terrible at it…who would you talk to if your work is not recognized by your manager? What happens if your manager decides to maintain the status quo?

              Please think about this. From the outside it looks like you were selected to work there because you’re excellent at what you do, and can be relied on to fix the mess left by Fergus. I think you may not get the same loyalty from the company as Fergus clearly does. Maybe you should think about putting your own wellbeing ahead of everyone else’s so you don’t burn out.

              Reply
        3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

          So what happens if you *did* get hit by a bus? It’s not your problem that they wouldn’t find someone who would even *attempt* to keep up with this workload, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s your manager’s problem, and your managers ALONE (your only problem would be recovering from the bus crash and that would be enough)
          Let’s take bus accidents out of it – what happens if you want to take a week’s holiday? Have you *had* a week off since you gained this overload? Was any of your work covered, or is it just expected that you’ll add *that* unfinished work to the backlog as well?
          The situation is untenable. *PLEASE* tell your manager what is going on. It’s HIS JOB to know these things, to manage your workload and the obstacles you face to enable you to do YOUR JOB.

          Reply
          1. Susan K

            No, I haven’t taken a single vacation day in 2019 yet, but when I do, just like always, it will be up to me to make up the work. I also have to do that when I’m gone for a conference or training. But that’s true for a lot of exempt employees, including all of my teapot analyst coworkers.

            Part of the department reorg that resulted in me doing the work that used to be done by 1.5 people was to create a new position for a floating teapot analyst. The idea is for this person to help with any emergent crises so that the other analysts’ workload doesn’t get excessive. The person who is doing this job is great — the most senior teapot analyst who has lots of experience with handles, lids, and coatings…. but not spouts, so he will be able to help everyone except me.

            Reply
            1. TexasRose

              You have three problems, it seems to me:
              1. You have no backup, and no coverage . You need to highlight this to your boss ASAP. This is your boss’s problem to solve, not yours.
              2. You are already overscheduled, and have NO relief in sight. This is NOT sustainable. In the long term, this is your boss’s problem. See previous point.
              3. Fergus _continues_ to cause you problems by NOT DOING HIS JOB – that, handing off problems to you IN A TIMELY manner.
              EVERY time Fergus sends one of his stink bombs (which would not be stink bombs if he simply forwarded them sooner rather than later), immediately raise the problem flag. The first time, simply list the problem, and ask your boss to ask Fergus to be more on top of forwarding things to you. You might also want to make a Fergus stink-bomb backlist – not the stuff he left behind when he was promoted, but the stuff he’s neglected to forward after the transition. Point out that this is an ONGOING problem. It sounds like Fergus is STILL not doing his job, just enjoying the Grandboss’s grace.
              On points 1 and 2 – this is a _planning_ problem for management. Pick a time for your vacation, perferably several months in adance, and point out to your manager that you have no backup, and will have NO TIME to simply take a week off and catch up later. Ask him how to handle the fact that you cannot get your complete compensation, since you cannot take time off because you have no backup. (Alison has good scripts for this.)
              On a general note, this job sounds like a great opportunity to you, and it sounds like you still like what you’re doing. If you want to keep the job, you need to push back on your “know nothing” boss. Frame your requests as pointing out problems in the organization that need to be fixed for the long-term good of the department. Give your boss all the ammunition he needs to get you some help with little effort, and he might be more motivated to at least get you some vacation coverage. (He might have a bit of sorta willful blindness about “missing” covering your position.)

              Reply
              1. Gumby

                Late to the game but also: you are now set up as a single point of failure for your company. That is horrible for the company. And you. It makes it harder to promote you because no one can do the work you currently do. Also if you were to, say, take another job, your company would be stuck. (My company is small and currently in this situation: someone is leaving who is the only person who has been building widgets. Trying to do the knowledge transfer in 2 weeks for this is a massive undertaking and we absolutely won’t get it all done. Since building a widget is a 3-month process, there is no time to shadow the whole thing. It is a mess. And all because we allowed Wilhelmina to become the only widget-builder here.)

                Reply
        4. Jadelyn

          If your manager really doesn’t want to know this stuff, then tbh…that’s just too damn bad. That’s what managing entails, and if he doesn’t want to do it, he shouldn’t be managing.

          I want to say this as kindly as possible bc I’m hearing so much of my past self in what you’re saying, but: please, please stop throwing yourself down into the puddles so that your boss can walk on your back and not get his shoes wet. You’re worried about “causing your manager extra work” but Susan K, that’s your manager’s job. That’s what he’s getting paid to do.

          If it helps, I’ll also tell you that most of the managers I know would be pissed if something happened to one of their direct reports and they got blindsided by a wildly unsustainable workload that the person had been trying to wrestle into submission alone, rather than reaching out for help or at least keeping them informed. You think you’re doing your manager a favor, but in the long run, you’re really not. Long-term, it’ll be better for both you and the manager to be upfront and transparent about all this stuff.

          Reply
        5. Jasnah

          I encourage you to reframe this as “my manager trusts me to manage my own workload and let him know when there is a problem (like a backlog, overtime, delay, etc.)”

          I don’t think you’ve let him know about this bigger problem: your workload being continuously impeded by Fergus. He just sees you successfully clearing the backlog and working a lot. Maybe he should be more proactive about managing your workload, but maybe he thinks you can handle it, and that you would alert him if you couldn’t.

          Have you laid all this out for him and asked for what you need?

          Reply
    4. MissGirl

      Honestly find a new job. This isn’t going to change. They know you can get the work done, Fergus knows you’ll pick up his slack. No one is incentivized to change anything but you.

      Reply
      1. Agent J

        +1. Susan K, you sound like a dedicated, hard worker who made a really difficult situation work. The problem is that if you don’t make a big deal out of it, your manager will just assume this is an acceptable/normal workload for you. I’ve been there and done that, and ended up leaving the job because as long as I was picking up my manager’s slack, no one thought the problem was serious enough to fix.

        Toot your own horn. Let your manager know how much work this took for you to fix. Even if your manager doesn’t do much about Fergus, at least it’s documented and brought to your manager’s attention.

        Reply
        1. Annie Dumpling

          Yeah, your organization has shown that it rewards loud horn-tooters for their potential, rather than rewarding the hard workers who actually lift large loads. Being quiet and waiting is a dead end game, it won’t happen, and seems very ‘please sir, can I have some more’. While the lax and loud zoom by.

          Reply
      2. BuildMeUp

        +1000

        Put everything you’ve done so far on your resume – ex. cleared X month backlog of reports, etc. You’ve accomplished a *ton*.

        Based on what you’ve said about your manager, it doesn’t sound like he has your back. I worry that Fergus will just keep adding things to your plate, that backlogs will keep piling up, and that your hope of having your weekends free might never happen.

        Start looking at what else is out there. It doesn’t mean you need to leave right away, but you should know your options.

        Reply
    5. ThursdaysGeek

      This is a case where I think you should be sending your manager a weekly email that lists what you’ve done this week and what in the backlog you’re planning on working on the next week. Let the manager know every week what you’ve done and are going to do.

      And as for your weekends, start taking them anyway. If they really want the work done, they’ll give you more paid overtime. You’re taking all of management’s pain on yourself, and it should be theirs to figure out. If they really want the work done, it shouldn’t be you doing it for free on your weekends.

      Reply
      1. Quinalla

        Agreed, working a few hours extra here and there while salaried (I assume you are?) is no big deal, but working every weekend! That’s not sustainable. You need to keep your boss updated on what is going on and how much you are working. This isn’t even things he necessarily needs to respond to every time, just things you put in front of him so he knows how much you are working so he can put in for a new hire, put in for more overtime for you if the backlog isn’t getting done fast enough, or just have a realistic idea of what all you are doing (trust me, he likely does not really get it, yeah he knows you work late, but he is not understanding the extent) so you get some kind of credit come review time in the form or raise/bonus/etc.

        Do NOT wait until your review, get in front of this now. If he acts unconcerned, still keep telling him. It will make a difference in how he perceives you.

        Reply
    6. Windward

      The six month mark is a good time to talk with your boss about how things are going. You sound very conscientious & hard working, but also as if you don’t advocate for the work & yourself. It’s best for your company if you can do that, as it supports a better understanding of how things are going, what might need streamlining or realignment, staffing in general including reclassification of positions as they evolve.

      First, are you exempt? If your boss authorized overtime you may not be, in which case putting in unauthorized overtime can become a large problem. It sounds like your boss know you’re working long hours, so presumably not, but this is a legal issue if you are non-exempt.

      Second, don’t wait for your review to present an update & stats on your performance. Everywhere I’ve worked raging, raises, etc have all been decided by review time. Your boss needs to know what you’ve been doing, & needs to know in time to use that for your review.

      Third, your boss needs to know what your job is & has become. He doesn’t see you working weekends, he needs to know how much work is coming in & how – i.e. Fergus sending you work that arrives in urgent status, including revamping your work plan to correct his work. Was your boss ok with this?

      Keeping your boss apprised is part of your job, too, and better serves the organization and you. All the more important following someone like Fergus. Your boss hasn’t been interested in part because he hasn’t seen the need. It can be hard to shift ones mindset from “she’s the boss, & therefor must know,” & “my work should speak for itself,” to “I’m the only one who sees this, & the decision makers can’t decide if they don’t know what’s happening.”

      Keep us posted.

      Reply
    7. HappySnoopy

      Echoing a lot of what people are saying. Boss may not want yo know, but he needs to. He knows in abstract, oh there’s a back log , but Susan K is on it.

      If it helps in your framing, set the meeting as a status. Show boss your spreadsheet of % of Fergus’s bs. Show your progress in the past 6 mths on moving/finishing/reworking, and where you’ve still got work. Explain after this time, especially with Fergus giving you surprise several month old sprout problems, you can’t sustain this pace, but this is your plan to stay on top of the 3 jobs you’re handling and see if he has any edits or suggestions.

      He needs this detailed overall wakeup call. The abstract, of yeah, susans doing a lot or oh yeah the flower spout is behind is one thing. Seeing the big picture is what he needs to give you the help you need. And to echo others again, it is boss’s job.

      Reply
    8. OhBehave

      The nasty surprises will start to taper off I would think.
      Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for you? Is this job manageable with the normal workload required? i.e. after the backlog clears.
      Your manager is ineffective. If he was any good, Fergus would never have been allowed to run amok.
      Do not wait to update your manager. Ask for another block of OT, citing (on paper) the time outside of your regular hours. You cannot maintain this pace much longer. Take back your weekends now – at least a portion. I see that time off does nothing for you. Everyone needs balance.
      When you do have a review push for a raise. YOU DESERVE IT!

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        Yeah, some of it has started to taper off, like the document reviews. I have been averaging 13 reviews per week to get caught up, but now I should be able to stay caught up with 10 per week. My project list is down to one page and I have 3 weeks before the next one is due. It’s hard to tell how sustainable the “normal” workload is because I’m not quite there yet, and some of it is intertwined with the backlog. For example, some of these surprise e-mail forwards from Fergus are things that I would have had to deal with no matter what, but I should have had 3 months to work on them instead of a week.

        I have asked for more paid OT, but my manager’s response is always, “Well, does it have to be done this week?” and if not, I can just put it off until next week, and even if it actually does need to be done this week, I should put off something else until next week, and he doesn’t seem to grasp that this doesn’t help because I I already have a full plate next week.

        Reply
        1. valentine

          I think you’re acting on assumptions and can be more direct and plainspoken and less accommodating of your manager and, most of all, Fergus. And it’s time to tell your manager won’t get done. Write up a plan for a 40-hour work week, no weekends. Only go to 45 (still no weekends) if it’s necessary to complete your regular, non-Fergus, projects. Make a list of the backlog you won’t get to, the random stuff Fergus assigns you (which I don’t get because he’s not your manager), and the stuff he delays in telling you (complete with dates). Schedule a meeting to discuss these with your manager. When he says you have to do everything, tell him flat-out it’s not possible.

          Fergus, his manager, and your manager are setting you up to fail. The backlog is impossible for a single person to complete and Fergus continually sabotages you with a ton of random projects and by withholding information. Usually, I say xyz is a tax on your job, but they’re not letting you do your actual job, and it’s just not possible to do it well because you’re sacrificing your life and health just to scrape by. Is this sunk-cost fallacy? Is it the devil you know? Are there no other jobs in your area? Afraid of leaving them stranded? They’ll only be reaping what they have sown. If you leave, they’ll figure it out in a way that would’ve helped you. They just aren’t willing to do that for you, so why not leave them to it?

          It’s worth reading the government guidance on whether your role is exempt from OT, especially since you sometimes get paid OT. Don’t trust your manager/company on whether you’re properly classified.

          Reply
        2. Anonymouse for this

          I can’t tell from the updates but is your manager fully aware of all the unpaid overtime you’re doing? If his response to you asking for overtime is to tell you to put if off until next week rather than pay you overtime and then, without telling him, you do the work unpaid over the weekend then he’s never going to know it’s a problem. In fact if he’s oblivious to the hours you are actually working he may be thinking why was she asking about overtime when she clearly didn’t need it. Please please start sending him weekly updates with everything you have done to date (so he knows what a Fergus sized mess you had to clean up) and everything you have planned for the next month. And let him know how much extra work Fergus is still creating because of his incompetence. If he is a decent manager he should be worried that you are not letting him manage and instead hiding the extent of the problem with your workload.

          Reply
    9. TPS Cover Sheet

      No seriously Susan, this shit, which is good you recorded you take to your next ”performance review” and any grief they give you.. your non-performing manager does – you tell if that performance review isn’t giving you a bonus and a raise you’ll rip him a new… erm…. well… you know what might make him care… a regulator audit?

      Reply
    10. Samwise

      You absolutely need to show your boss that spreadsheet. It’s going to be important for your annual review! And you need to keep your boss in the loop as Fergus piles more crap onto your plate. Plus, your boss needs to know how dirty a bag Fergus is. Ugh, Fergus is such a loser! I hate him for you LOL.

      Don’t wait for your boss to do a check-in — it’s been six months, time for *you* to request one. Frankly, I’d check in regularly. At least once a month, if not more often.

      Thanks for the update, I remember your letter!

      Reply
      1. cmcinnyc

        And the next time Fergus passes on something that’s no longer his job, but passes it on LATE? You reply with a cc to boss and grandboss that Fergus’s ongoing “finding” of more and more of his old work for you is unsustainable and perhaps you all need to sit down and redefine the parameters of the job. Mr. Charming is using you as a doormat. So is your manager. Stand up.

        Reply
    11. FloralsForever

      Ok so a lot of others are saying that this is horrible, maybe you should quit, etc etc… And while I generally agree that this is horrible and really sucks, what I would ask you is this: is this a step ahead in your career?

      I work in toxic environment but found my niche. My team will train me on something I need experience in to further my career. One to two more years and when I leave I’ll be asking for a 25% increase in pay. That is worth it to stick it out a bit longer. So maybe you are in this similar position? Keep it bearable until you can make it out of there in a better position than when you started? Take the experience and run? What you are doing is no small feat and once you get it to bearable levels it could be extremely marketable. I think now it would be too, but I am one who like to see things to the end, if its possible.

      That’s fantastic that you are keeping track of what you are doing, so in the future you can look back and a) tell your boss exactly what happened -or- b) market it for the future. Sometimes its great to be able to show stats and things to prospective employers.

      Anyway, it sucks to be in that kind of environment with Fergus, but it sounds like you have developed an excellent way to handle it and I hope that future employers will see that and respect you for it.

      Reply
      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        This is an important consideration but OP should start making sure that her current employer actually understands what she is doing. Otherwise she runs the risk that her future reference will not back up the skills she is developing here.

        OP, by thinking that your manager doesn’t really care about the details and is doing you a favour by letting you work yourself to exhaustion to fix golden boy’s slacking (and in the process having your own reputation tarnished while he looks better and better), you are losing out on the credit you deserve. Your manager seems to be really vague on what exactly you are doing, and you are tiptoeing around Fergus and giving him more power over you and your work than he deserves. He is abusing his authority by dumping his work on you to avoid having to take the penalties he should be getting for not doing his work in a timely way. He may be charming but that doesn’t mean you have to accept being walked on.

        I think 6 months + the review process is a great time to give your manager a very detailed update on the backlog, the ongoing dumping projects on you at the last minute, the amount of overtime you are working, your very impressive results, and what you want to change about your workload going forward. And I think you should start giving the manager a weekly update by email. Your manager sounds really lazy and disengaged, so I think you will have to do some “managing up” to get them to understand the full picture here. It might not come to much but if you start documenting everything and being more assertive with your manager you have a better chance of ensuring that when it comes time to leave you get a good reference that reflects the reality of what you have accomplished. Not to mention an accurate performance review that doesn’t penalise you for needing extensions on projects that were dumped on you at the last minute.

        Reply
        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          Gaah, used the wrong slash. Should have just been *very detailed*.

          Also, this situation reminds me a bit of one of the problems I had with my PhD thesis. Briefly, I failed my first examination and had to revise and resubmit a year later. One of the most frustrating things was that the examiners thought I hadn’t done enough fieldwork, even though I spent months visiting sites and gathering data. I had some help from my supervisor in setting up initial contacts, but after that I was on my own — living in a country where my grasp of the language was shaky, contacting people to get them to put dots on a map so that I could go hike to the location, etc. It was actually quite a lot of work and I did it mostly alone.

          I ended up accompanying my supervisor on a long weekend trip shortly after my failed attempt, and we visited sites that I had already been to but she had never seen. But the general impression ended up being that she had to take me to these places in order to make sure I did enough fieldwork. Even though I had already explained the work I did, and had plenty of proof of that work in my original thesis, I was not being clear enough for busy and distracted people who didn’t really care that much about my work to grasp. My original writing about my data collection methods glossed over the tedious details about where I went and what I did there, and how I analysed it. When I rewrote the thesis, I spelled everything out (and I even made a table showing exactly how much time I spent in the field, with dates of travel, to take to meetings with my supervisor to document that yes I had actually done the appropriate work at a sensible time). When I resubmitted the thesis, my examiners were very impressed at how much extra work I had done in that year and were delighted at my thorough field methods. I didn’t really do any extra work, I just was more explicit about what I had done years before. And I passed on the second try with no problems.

          Reply
    12. DerJungerLudendorff

      Please take care of yourself.
      You’re working massive amounts of overtime trying to do an impossible amount of anxiety-inducing work, while constantly getting blindsided by new problems that you didn’t cause and don’t have the resources to solve.

      You are working yourself straight into a massive burnout if this goes on, and there is no indication anything will change anytime soon.

      Your manager is far too hands-off about this.
      Throw your workload problems right back at him. It’s his job to solve them, not yours.

      Also, Fergus is an incompetent, backstabbing, douchebag

      Reply
  10. Cats Unlimited

    How does one go about asking their boss to change their schedule? I work a rotating shift that includes weekends, and I think it would be much better for my health to work regular hours. But regular hours at my job are highly covered and I am not high enough to be given consideration. I might possibly be able to get a medical excuse at some point in the future, but I am not sure I am comfortable disclosing that stuff to my boss.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      It sounds like you either need the seniority or the medical excuse (not sure if you’re in the U.S. or not, since “medical excuse” sounds more CA/UK, so I won’t get into the ADA weeds). I don’t think I’d ask for those hours in the mean time, since it sounds like you can’t present a reason to bump somebody else so it would seem a little tone-deaf. Would it be useful to you to know when seniority alone would qualify you for that schedule? Because that’s a question you might legitimately ask. “Boss, I’d be interested in a fixed schedule when I’m eligible–about how long does it take people to get there?” But I also don’t know if that’s of any use to you; if your goal is to shift to this schedule ASAP, I think requesting it based on a medical reason is the avenue for you.

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      Sorry to say, but if you want a schedule change based on medical reasons, you are probably going to have to disclose something to your boss. I’m sure it would be better for your health to work regular hours, but that is true for almost everybody — even people with no medical problems. You can try asking for a schedule change without disclosing anything about your medical issues, but if there are other people who want the same thing and your boss can’t say yes to all of them, you’ll have to bring him a compelling reason to move you ahead of others. I worked in a shift work job for over 10 years, and availability for the hours you’re needed is part of the job and part of what you’re getting paid for (in my experience, jobs that require rotating shifts pay more than similar jobs with regular hours).

      If you specifically don’t want to disclose information to your boss but you’re comfortable with HR, you may be able to provide the information directly to HR and ask them not to share specifics with your boss.

      Reply
    3. Gilmore67

      Well, it is not so much disclosing the medical issue as much as it’s, what is Boss supposed to do? I mean Boss just can’t change someone someones schedule if it interrupts the work flow or let you go before someone else who has more seniority as that would be unfair to them.

      I think you can most certainly ask Boss if you can get your hours changed because you never know what Boss knows about hours, schedules and stuff like that and it might be totally possible. I hope that happens for you.

      But if you want your hours changed I think you need to possibly look for a job else where that fits your hours if Boss can’t accommodate you.

      That may be an unpopular answer but bottom line it really isn’t Boss’s problem. Like another poster said lots of people might want those types of hours as well and there is no way to accommodate everyone. I would be pretty pissed if I was up for those hours and someone was able to get ahead of me regardless of the reason.

      Again, ask Boss first ( don’t bring medical issues in the conversation ) and see the Boss says.

      Reply
    4. Deanna Troi

      I have a friend who was in this situation. She was able to get her boss to agree to schedule her regular hours every week by taking the shifts that most others didn’t want. I believe she worked Friday – Tuesday 1:00-9:00 PM. She did much better with regular hours around which she could plan her life. An advantage of this type of schedule for you, Cats Unlimited, would be that you’d be able to schedule doctor’s appointments, if you have a lot of them (I realize you may not – not everyone with health problems need to visit the doctor a lot).

      Reply
  11. JessxJess

    I don’t know if this is a mid life crisis or what but I’m finding myself just miserable with work and I don’t know how to fix it. I make very good money but I despise what I do. I used to like it but I’ve just been doing it too long and everyday feels like a chore. I dread going to work.

    My problem is I make way more money then I could possibly get looking for a new job. My choices are basically look for something else and start a lifestyle where I’m just squeaking by with not a lot of disposable income, or somehow adjust my attitude about my current job and stick it out just to collect the paycheck. My performance has been slipping to because of my new lack of motivation.

    I don’t know what to do anymore but I need help. Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone been in this same situation themselves?

    Reply
    1. Anonandanon

      I’m living this now, same situation in that I’ve been here for 15 years, make great money (and have a pension and matching 401K) but am finding myself so depressed at having to be here. I don’t like my manager, have less autonomy than I used to have, and one of my coworkers is a useless waste of space. I am also planning on leaving in three years after my husband retires from his job so I’m trying to make the best of it. I’m well-liked in my company, but much of what I do is really wearing me down. I have started a practice of taking off at least one Friday a month in those months I don’t take vacation or don’t have a holiday so I have a long weekend to NOT BE HERE and just put it out of my mind. I find it’s always nice to have something to look forward to to help make being here more bearable.

      Reply
      1. RandomU...

        I could have sworn I wrote this, but sadly I have about 8 years before I get to reevaluate my situation. Everything else is exactly the same. I’m giving myself some time to get over it, but I may be looking for a new project or job in my company soon. Mostly I’m bored and my current job isn’t presenting any new challenges at the moment.

        I agree with the one day off a month. I’ve been doing that for the past few years. But then got out of the habit. I may need to get back to that.

        Reply
        1. Mockingjay

          What about training? If your company pays for training and certs, look for something that interests you and gives you new or enhanced skills you can use on a new project. There are loads of week-long seminars that will get you away from the office.

          Reply
      2. JessxJess

        Thank you, I was mostly hoping to find someone letting me know I wasn’t alone! I think the biggest struggle is just not letting all me work slip (I’ve always been such a star performer) because I just am so depressed about the whole situation. Thanks for your comment

        Reply
        1. Rezia

          Is there a different position you could move to within your company, or some fresh project you can take on in your role just so you have a change of pace without losing your good salary/benefits?

          If not, then I think do whatever you can to make sure work time is just work, and don’t let yourself think about it/be depressed about it outside of work. Once you leave the office, don’t spend a spare minute thinking about work and focus on the stuff you love.

          Reply
    2. Reba

      I would say that if the job is tolerable and you just can’t care about it anymore (not that the work itself is untenable) … Reinvigorate some other parts of your life. Hobbies, home improvement projects, trips, whatever. Shift the focus and let your job/high income simply be the thing you do that lets you do all the stuff that you really care about!

      If you haven’t already, do some reading about burnout recovery strategies. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Dobermom

        I second this. My day job pays fairly well, but it’s mindless. I also adjunct at a local university, so I use my day job to pay for life while the adjuncting fulfills me professionally!

        Reply
    3. Cashier

      Are you in a position (financially / your workplace would go for such a thing) that you could e.g. go down to four days a week? Maybe not forever, but for six months or something to give you a bit more room to reassess what you want / need to do and to feel less miserable bc you’ll have fewer days of drudgery each week.

      Reply
    4. BeeGee

      I’ve been here a few times, you should look for another job/career path if you get to a point where you not only dread going in to work daily but if it also leads to performance declines. I was fired from my first job because of this, and looking back, I wish I had just quit before my performance and tardiness got to be so terrible. It may seem scary and frowned upon to leave a job with nothing lined up, but if you are financially secure enough, I would quit. Your mental health is really important! I got to a point where I couldn’t even think about training/getting a certification/job searching outside of work hours because I spent my free time just doing anything to get a short term “happy fix” (like binging hours of Netflix after work) to make up for how crappy my job made me feel. If you don’t think you can leave your job, I would at a minimum plan on going on a vacation in the near future to hopefully recharge yourself.

      Reply
    5. OtterB

      Would your savings and your work/organizational culture allow an unpaid sabbatical? Get completely away from it for longer than a week’s vacation and you might get better perspective on whether you really need to make a change. It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re down in the weeds.

      Reply
    6. NW Mossy

      How’s your relationship with your boss? If it’s decent and they’re decent, they may be able to help you see options within your current workplace.

      I manage a LOT of people who face this basic dilemma – they’re relatively late in their careers and make good money, but the job itself has gotten stale over the decades. It can really help reignite the spark to have new challenges, which don’t necessarily need to take the form of a whole new job. My company currently has a huge need for people who are willing to skip around and cross-train in related areas to help with peak seasons, so we always have different types of work on offer to anyone who needs a break from their current gig.

      Reply
    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      Two things:
      1) you might want to consider is just making sure there is no physical component playing into this. I have been here before and recovered at the job (at the 10 year mark, I’m at 15 now). Turns out I did have some slowly increasing depression – very mild but the spiral got me, and some nutritional issues. Have a good physical. I was so thinking about quitting, that I went and had all my medical care caught up before I thought I was out of there… and it turned out I did have a combo of small issues (still working on some other stuff).
      2) depending upon your age, it may also be a good time to examine – as others have noted – your life outside of work. I had made my entire existence work and caretaking. I’m now looking forward, saying when I retire, I am not going to sprint to the finish and fall over the finish line… I want to retire TO something. What have I done with my life that builds social and other connections outside of work? I am trying to enrich so I can define myself by something other than my “job.” Just starting this, but if you are not investing in yourself and your future, it might be good to use this “I can do this job with one hand tied behind my back” place in your life, to stretch you brain and your life outside of work.
      Understand and empathize!

      Reply
    8. Samwise

      This is my brother. I feel really sad for him, and I feel sad for you, too.

      What is important to you? What do you value? What do you want, what do you need?

      I also wonder if your choices really are, make a pile of money but hate my job, and, do something different while scraping by financially. Do some research — what kinds of jobs are available to someone with your skills and experience?

      Can you start saving money and trimming your budget/lifestyle now? How much less can you live on?

      Reply
      1. Samwise

        I say “are these really your options” because I had that conversation with my brother. I pointed out that I had a lot of the things he thinks are important (own a house with a yard, go out to eat and to culture-y things, save for kid’s college, etc.) and I earn about 25% of what he does (I’m somewhat underpaid and he makes a lot of money! but I like my job and he does not like his).

        Reply
    9. Lena Clare

      It’s said that you need 2 out of 3 things to be happy at work:
      – good pay
      – enjoy your job
      – get on with your coworkers.

      If you only have one of those things, the stress will tell eventually. Maybe it’s already telling now?

      Therapy would be good, to talk about it and help you decide what is important.

      Would studying and getting other qualifications help you get another like for like job somewhere you’d be happier?
      Would you consider volunteering to gain some extra skills in order to make yourself more attractive for other similarly paying jobs?
      Would you be able to work part-time at this job, and part time at another job which you liked but paid less in order to make yourself happier?

      I hope it works out for you.

      Reply
      1. Lena Clare

        I also agree with the comment upstream about looking at fulfilling hobbies and other activities outside of work. It definitely helps.

        Reply
    10. Brihanne LeMarre

      I feel you, JessxJess. This is me.

      I’ve been at my company for 2o+ years (in my current position for 3) and there’s no way I could make enough money elsewhere to manage my lifestyle (and debt load), especially now that I’m responsible for half a household (I moved in with my bf – now fiancé – and his 3 kids).

      The suggestions to focus on things outside work have epically backfired for me. I did pick up a new hobby and it is so exciting and important to me that it actively interferes with my work-time brain-space and is a leading reason why my performance has tanked. All I want to do is think, talk and participate in it.

      Re: Time off/breaks: I get a lot of vacation and I use every single minute of it each year. I’ve had longer breaks (some vacations, some medical leaves) and they just make it even harder to return because I’ve had even more time to get accustomed to the lifestyle I WISH I had.

      I’m entirely over my working life and am, quite literally, counting down the years to retirement. It makes me angry with myself because I am very good at what I do, I just don’t give a flying f**k about doing it ever again. But, I’m well and truly caught in my golden handcuffs, so I slog through each day.

      Reply
    11. Sleepy

      I’m gonna throw out there that making less money is not the end of the world. I make less than most of my friends. Sometimes it sucks that they go on fancy European vacations and I don’t. Most of the time I don’t care. I live farther away from the city center than most of them would consider acceptable, but I’ve grown to love my new neighborhood and I’ve gotten in better shape with my longer bike commute. Of course, if I was living near the poverty line things would be different, but if you make really good money already and you’re looking at having to cut back, you can still live a rich and enjoyable life.

      Reply
      1. Brihanne LeMarre

        You’re right, making less money isn’t the end of the world; but, I’m trying to raise three children and we are already living paycheque-to-paycheque. We’re not talking sacrificing a “fancy European vacation”. We’re talking sacrificing food, missing rent, or debts going into collections.

        I make good money for the job I do in the market I live in. I do not make “good money” by any other standard, ESPECIALLY in the market I live in.

        Reply
    12. ..Kat..

      Can you get training in something that interests you that would qualify you for a job that would not cut your pay?

      Reply
    13. Who Plays Backgammon?

      Well, money IS important. That said, there’s a difference between “I don’t love my job but I love the money, so it’s OK overall” and “I despise what I do.”

      Is there any middle ground between stay and make the money, or leave and go back to the bottom? Another job with the same firm? The same kind of job with another firm? A hybrid that will use your highest-value skills with some differences to let you learn and do new things?

      Reply
    14. Evergreen

      One thing to think about might be to start gradually reducing your living expenses – over time this will hopefully put you in a position where you’d have more power to take a lower paying job, and the extra savings could provide a cushion for the transition? Or at least might give you more of a feeling of control?

      Obviously this might not be possible for everyone, but it’s what I did, and i’m really glad I did!

      Reply
  12. Eillah

    I messed up choreography/speech during barre class yesterday and got a stern talking to from my boss, which sucked.

    What was weird is I felt like I was kind of in a position of having to explain expected human behavior to someone? Meaning that she asked me “hey what went on during your classes today,” and I explained that the faulty microphone had thrown me off and made me jittery, which then flubbed my choreography and overall delivery. She kept asking me what she could do to help and I was made to feel like I was giving the wrong answer by saying “I have to be better at not being thrown when things go wrong” (also, don’t start Adderall on a day you’re working, which is entirely my fault).

    Ugh.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Sorry about the glitch. But “What could I do to help?” sounds like a reasonable and thoughtful question; it’s just the answer is sometimes “Nothing, this one’s on me.”

      Reply
      1. Eillah

        I think it’s more that she kept asking me *after* I gave the answer the first time, like I’d given a wrong answer and she was digging for the right one.

        Reply
        1. Reba

          The only thing I can think of is that “I need to be better at this” is not really like an *action* you are going to take to prevent it in future. (vs. for example “I’m going to practice the script so I can keep up the flow even if stuff happens”)

          But it sounds like your boss and or the clients are being jerks about a normal blip.

          Reply
        2. ..Kat..

          Say, “no, just what I already said.” And keep repeating. You don’t have to come up with something new, or keep saying “I messed up”, just because she keeps asking.

          You can also say, “you keep asking me this. Is there something else you are looking for?”

          Reply
    2. Cartwheelie

      Not directly related to question posed, but as someone who attends and struggles to keep up/not topple over/etc. during barre classes, your students probably cared not one iota about any flubbed choreography or directions. On the contrary, occasionally seeing one of the teachers acting like a normal, fallible human rather than an intimidating fitness machine/model is something I find hugely comforting! Stay awesome. Thanks for what you do. :)

      Reply
      1. Eillah

        I teach in a super moneyed area, so normally this would be true but…. a couple people complained about the class. Which on the one hand I get, they cost 30/class. On the other hand…. do you have any idea how friggin hard this is?? And not for nothing, I’ve started two new jobs, one of which had to big, global events happening within the first eight weeks, I work 40 hours a week PLUS commute 15 hours a week, and my grandmother died a few weeks ago. Sometimes I want to scream and be like “you know, considering all the shit on my plate ATM, I think I’m doing pretty well just by showing up” but… can’t say that to a boss, obviously.

        Reply
        1. Matilda Jefferies

          Good grief, that’s a lot. No wonder you’re a little off balance, literally and figuratively! I hope things settle down for you soon, and I’m sorry for the loss of your grandmother.

          Reply
    3. boredatwork

      yikes – your barre studio sounds really intense, I say this as someone who does barre 5X a week. Mistakes happen and you’re human. People flub choreography and speech regularly, it’s not the end of the world.

      I think your answer was totally fine.

      Reply
      1. Eillah

        She said “when a teacher is teaching like this it’s bad for business.” Like… girl, I get it. No need to kick me when I’m clearly feeling embarrassed and having screwed up (also– of course I know it’s not good for business! I’m not dumb, and I’m not doing this deliberately. Grrrr)

        Reply
        1. boredatwork

          Yeh, I take barre at a very expensive, non-chain, private studio and none of us are this mean to the instructors.

          In fact I am the nicest person possible, because ours have discretion over what sequence of exercises we do and I prefer some over others. Sounds like more of a “culture” problem than a “you” problem.

          If it were a repeated pattern – like every class you taught – I’d side with the studio but, seriously one time???

          Reply
          1. Eillah

            I’ve only been teaching about….3 or 4 weeks? So I’m still pretty new and getting used to the flow. I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be perfect right away.

            Reply
            1. boredatwork

              wow – we had two new instructors start, and it was a ROUGH start. They have really gotten their feet under them but it’s a learning curve.

              Yeh, if I heard about this at my studio, I would get mad at the owner for being so un-supportive. For what it’s worth, my unlimited package is most people’s car payment, and I still don’t act like this to someone who’s still learning.

              My votes still on bad culture – and barre attracting this kind of unnecessary “perfectionism”.

              Reply
      2. Who Plays Backgammon?

        I don’t know from barre classes, but jeezy–everybody has a bad day once in a while.

        Reply
    4. Lunavesca

      This reminds me of the comment I got in my last review that I tend to make more small mistakes and become overall less efficient when I am under high stress. Uh, yes? That’s what humans do? Presumably, it was put in my review as a negative item because it’s something that they want me to work on fixing, but how do I even fix that? I am not a robot.

      Also note that this isn’t self-inflicted stress or ordinary day-to-day stress, this is from situations where something has gone wrong and I have someone (literally or metaphorically) standing behind me, breathing down my neck, watching me work and freaking out over how the thing is broken and it needs to get fixed and “somebody” need to do “something” right now!!!!

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I don’t know your specific situation, but yes, in general, people can learn to make fewer mistakes under stress, and that’s a reasonable expectation. Pilots are always good to copy on that because they really don’t have the luxury of stress-induced error; checklists are therefore a really good protocol. So think about creating checklists for those situation that have occurred or for whatever commonalities knit them together–if it’s that the CEO called, what’s your checklist for when the CEO calls? That kind of thing.

        Reply
        1. Venus

          Pilots and other stressful jobs (ambulance, police, firefighters, some doctors, etc) also get a lot of training to get good at their processes when they are under stress.

          So agreed that checklists are very useful (although obviously this doesn’t apply to everything), and repetition of tasks when life is less stressful is also something to potentially consider (which is why we aim to practice speeches before giving them to a crowd).

          That said, if the problem is that someone is breathing down my neck while I try to fix a problem… that would not do well for me!!

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I’m not saying it’s a great thing myself. But there’s been a couple of mentions of mistakes under stress as being just a human and unchangeable thing and I wanted to point out that it was in fact a changeable thing, and a reasonable thing for a manager to point out as something to work on.

            Reply
        2. Lunavesca

          The issue is much more so other people’s reactiveness to the situation and how they, in turn, treat me, rather than the actual situation itself. I do much better in these situations when no one knows what is going on but me, and I am left to work in peace. I don’t know how well a pilot could function with 10 passengers pounding on the door, demanding for him to give a blow-by-blow narration of what he’s doing so that they can dissect it and debate with him whether or not that’s what he should be doing. There’s a reason why that would be not allowed.

          If there was a checklist, for example, we would spend half an hour to an hour summoning half the company to sit around and discuss (via email or instant messenger) what the items in the checklist might theoretically be (without allowing anyone to stop discussing and go and actually look at it) and what might theoretically happen after we do the first item on the checklist (a thing that is impossible to know until we do it), with demands for immediate answers from a nonspecific “someone”. A “mistake” might be spending a minute or two doing item 4 on the checklist before noticing that item 3 was accidentally skipped and course-correcting, because half of my attention is required to be on the conversation about what I’m doing. I have always thought I did quite well in these situations, all things considered, but evidently not.

          Reply
    5. MechanicalPencil

      I’ve taught and now just take classes, but not barre, straight ballet classes. I’ve never had a microphone or been in a class with a microphone. If the music is such, just take the mic off and half yell the steps. In ballet classes, you’re expected to remember the flow of stuff anyway. Have never done a purely barre class so can’t say. But if it’s 4 tendu en criox, you’re expected to remember where you are/how many you’ve done. Now when I was teaching the little kids, that’s completely different. Adult classes, you assume some level of remembrance.

      Reply
      1. CTT

        It’s an exercise class, so if it’s anything like the barre-exercise classes I’ve taken, there are no “routines” beyond the stretches that you do in between segments, and even those you’re always guided through verbally. It is repetitive movements, but in different orders, combos, etc.

        Reply
      2. Eillah

        Yeah, inspired by ballet but not really the same. And I’m not a ballerina and wouldn’t know those combos anyway.

        Reply
    6. TPS Cover Sheet

      No, you need to go diva

      What can I do to help?
      – Don’t buy cheap poundland/dollarstore shit that breaks whan I am having a class! Knvest in proper hardware!!!

      Reply
  13. Anonandanon

    Because none of her cronies is here for her to be loud and obnoxious with, one of the managers came out of her office to yawn REALLY loud at all of us. It’s like she *needs* everyone to know she exists and needs attention…yikes.

    Reply
    1. Eillah

      People who need to fill the space with sound are so GD irritating. Shut up, just because you don’t like the quiet doesn’t mean you get to blather on.

      Reply
      1. RDR2 Ecologist

        Ugh yes! I have a coworker who is like this. One time it was just me and her in the office, and I jotted down how many times she burped loudly, yawned, smacked her lips, sighed in just the 30 minutes it was me and her in the office once I realized she was making a lot of noise.

        It was 45 fricken times!

        Reply
  14. Moray

    Does anyone else work for a nonprofit with a mission you don’t actually believe in? How do you handle it?

    Reply
    1. MsM

      What’s your role? Because if you’re in something forward-facing as opposed to, say, finance or IT, then unfortunately, the only answer may be “start looking.” If it’s not critical to your job duties, then focus on whether you’re getting enough out of the skill-building or the environment – and if not, then again, maybe that’s a sign it’s time to go.

      Reply
    2. Eeyore's missing tail

      I’m not sure how much your job is directly tied to the mission, but I’ve had to disconnect myself and just simply view what I do as job. Instead of focusing on how will my position help further the mission, I focus on what do I need to do to get x, y, and z done so I can keep producing good work.

      My situation’s a little different than yours. I agree with the mission of my institution, but I disagree with a lot of ways the administration and board believe it should be implemented. Good luck!

      Reply
    3. Glomarization, Esq.

      I’m sad to say it didn’t work out for me. My heart wasn’t in it (think an animal lover working for Ducks Unlimited), so I was just going through the motions to get a paycheck. Conversations with co-workers could get awkward (“what did you do over the weekend?” “we definitely did not hold a vegetarian potluck with friends who protested the live pigeon shoot at the hunting club two towns over” kind of thing). I moved on to another job after just a few months.

      I imagine everybody’s mileage will vary as to how well they can balance their own values with the mission of their workplace. I was careful not to burn bridges on my way out, saying that I had found an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

      Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      It depends if you don’t believe in the mission or if you are against it. If the non-profit is trying to feed the world by teaching minorities how to bake granola bars using ingredients they grow in a window garden, but everyone is great to work with and there are opportunities to grow and learn skills, then I would stick around! Yeah, the premise of the mission is a bit ridiculous and won’t obtain it’s goal, but you are gaining as an individual.
      If the mission is supporting a political party that you are against, then I would leave because it would really start to wear me down emotionally.

      Reply
    5. That time we... I know, right?

      Same dilemma. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked with seven nonprofits, twice with the same brand. Until the nonprofit I work with now, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, embraced, and learned about the different issue areas.

      The nonprofit that I work in now has been around for a hundred years in an issue area that is a current hot topic. I greatly appreciate the program development, its r&d in pilot testing and application requirements for efficacy, as well as its use of volunteers as program facilitators. The heartburn I have is the cost of the program per youth and the amount of resources necessary to implement the program. I believe the topic area is important, but I’m not sure the manner that we’re implementing it, is the most effective.

      What carries me through is the challenge of the tasks that I am responsible for and learning new skills well be being able to use my extensive and diverse experiences to help those around me. I find that my purpose is as an internal capacity builder that helps the program, development, and executive leadership find great ways to do their job.

      Reply
    6. A Simple Narwhal

      For starters I would ask to what degree you don’t believe in the mission. Like, I’m not super passionate about the idea of hats for llamas, but I could work for a llama hat nonprofit. But I definitely couldn’t work for a company that hunts llamas and makes them into hats. I guess what I’m saying is that if it’s a mission that you don’t actively support but don’t have a problem with you could probably work fine for, but if it’s a mission that goes against your beliefs then I don’t think you can or should work for them.

      Also depending on the nonprofit, you’d want to check for culture fit, since (from what I’ve heard) a lot of nonprofits use the belief in the mission to really unite the workplace together. Also belief in the mission can lead people to be more willing to take a lower salary, so without that belief you might be more upset if the salary isn’t in line with what you want.

      And like what others have said, it can depend on how connected your role is to the mission. I work on the operations side of a (for-profit) company that I’m definitely not at all passionate about the industry or work they do, but my job is completely separate from what the business does so it doesn’t affect me. I’m also surrounded by similarly-minded people, so my lack of passion/knowledge isn’t an issue, and we’re all just getting our jobs done and then going home. This is refreshingly different from past jobs, where people were constantly giving up their free time to do more work, which made people who “only” do their jobs look like slackers to management. (I’m definitely not dissing people who are passionate about their work or those who go above and beyond! It’s inspiring to see people like that, but it’s just really hard to be the odd man out in a crowd of people constantly giving 18-20 hours a day to the industry when you just want to do a good job and then enjoy your outside passions.)

      So yea, lots to consider!

      Reply
      1. A Simple Narwhal

        I now realize that my advice is written from the idea that you’re considering taking a job with a nonprofit you don’t believe in, so apologies if you’re already in that job and trying to cope!

        Reply
    7. Cheeses, Gruyere

      I come from a Nordic country where there is a ”state church”, about 85% of the population ”belongs” and only old ladies and religious kooks actually ”go” to a service unless its confirmation school, baptism, wedding or a funeral. Only the baptism and funeral aren’t opt-outs…

      So my mother wanted me to become a priest. Now as its Evangelic-Lutheran you can get married, but boozing and dancing used to be frowned upon. You need to leave a wedding so they can have the first waltz and the kids know not to go for the punch as it’ll be pure moonshine ”after the priest leaves”.

      Anyways, I was pretty good in my classes, and you only had to learn some obscure theological arguments to get to university, but I didn’t have the zeal, and ”faking it” I could do for only so long. I can still go to a free movement and do a good hellfire sermon off the day’s reading, but I really won’t as I feel so fake. Usually any ”christian” friends stop asking me to join after I start quoting Hesekiel 23…

      Reply
    8. NoTurnover

      Pretty much echoing what others have said….I’ve worked for nonprofits where I didn’t care much about the mission, but certainly wasn’t against it, and that was okay. I found it hard not to care about my job eventually, but I could have kept doing it indefinitely if I had to financially.

      I would have a very hard time working for an organization with a mission that I was actually against, and imagine I couldn’t do that for more than a year or two before it really sucked my soul out.

      Reply
  15. Shelly

    My promotion, and subsequent pay raise, will be official next week. I’d like to buy an Apple Watch with my first increased paycheck. I don’t work in tech and none of my coworkers currently wear an Apple Watch. I don’t plan on talking about it endlessly but I would wear it daily. Will my coworkers think this is flashy or other negative perceptions? Should I wait a few months so that it isn’t obviously lined up with the timing of my new role? Am I just overthinking this?

    Reply
    1. CTT

      You’re probably over-thinking it, but do the people you work with have a tendency to be critical of what people wear or how they spend money? If so, I know Alison has written about how to deal with those sort of comments. But if they haven’t before, they probably won’t start now.

      Congrats on the promotion!

      Reply
    2. Cranky Neighbot

      A couple of my coworkers have them. They don’t really stand out from other modern-looking “dumb” watches with slick designs. Don’t worry about it, and have fun with the new tech!

      Reply
    3. quirkypants

      I’d buy it!

      If anyone comments, I’d say something like, “I’ve been meaning to get one for a while and finally treated myself. Fancy technology is the only thing I splurge on!” I wouldn’t mention your raise or anything, I think very few people would even make that connection.

      Everyone has different things they choose to splurge on, whether it’s shoes, sports, handbags, their car, their pet, music, comic books, dinners out, vacation, gadgets, etc. So if you’re feeling nervous I’d just call out it is a splurge and most people will probably get it because most of us have one weakness or another.

      Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      It’s fine as long as you don’t look at it constantly. People at my last employer all purchased smart watches and they couldn’t help but look at them constantly. You would be in the middle of a conversation and their watch would vibrate and they had to look at it instantly.
      There is a learning curve to a smart watch, so learn to ignore the buzz until after the conversation/meeting …like you would with your phone.

      Reply
      1. Ariaflame

        And if you are in a meeting you can set it to not make noises during the meeting anyway. Like everything you get used to having it and it goes from being shiny new exciting toy to useful thing you still like to have but don’t have to look at every few seconds.

        Reply
    5. Kate H

      Buy the watch. One of my coworkers has one and we don’t work in tech either. It’s not a Rolex and, even if it was, you can spend your money however you want. The Tesla our VP drives to work every day is “flashy.” An Apple watch is perfectly normal. Congrats on the promotion!

      Reply
    6. nonnynon

      Buy the watch. Apple watches are pretty common nowadays and it’s likely no one will notice. Several people I work with have one (we are not in tech) and the only reason I know is the talk about what type of bands they want. There is likely others that have them and I have no idea.

      Reply
    7. DAMitsDevon

      I work at a nonprofit and none of the my coworkers have an Apple Watch. My parents very recently bought one for me because there was a sale on them at Best Buy last month and after having some major health issues earlier this year, they liked the idea of the watch being able to monitor my heart rate and such. Even though an Apple Watch is definitely not a substitute for a doctor, I was not about to turn down getting gifted one.

      Anyway, so far, unless my coworkers are silently judging me or talking behind my back, which I doubt they would do, no one has said anything about my watch? Also, one of my coworkers who normally works from has one as well. I think as long as you’re not constantly playing with it so that the screen lights up, your coworkers probably won’t notice it.

      Reply
    8. Parenthetically

      Unless you’re being conspicuous about it, like checking it all the time or showing it off around the office, I’d bet that most of your coworkers will a) not notice, b) not know the difference between that and another smartwatch/fitness tracker, c) not know how much they cost, d) not think of them as a status symbol or whatever, and/or e) not care how you spend your money. I certainly would fall into all of those categories!

      Reply
    9. The Rat-Catcher

      Tons of people at my workplace have them, and none of them make over 50k. I wouldn’t worry.

      Reply
    10. TPS Cover Report

      Well, if you think £400 watch that you can get for £200 refurbed is ”flashy”…. I bought an automatic watch selling at £1200 for £800 from an obscure Swiss brand I like… the watch I ”want” still costs £4000 even used and it is not even a blink on the ”flashy” scale… Mate with more money than sense has a Breitling worth more than a cottage in Wales… and his flashy Rolex is a down paynent of a London flat…

      So at the end of the day, I suppose what you regard as ”flashy” that is. And it’s not chavvy bling-bling

      Reply
    11. Seeking Second Childhood

      Get the watch, and talk up last month”s 911 rescue of a paddle boarder if you think any key people would better understand safety than other functions.
      (Boston Globe, June 4)

      Reply
    12. Bibliovore

      Enjoy your watch. I had a life event and had been obsessing about the Apple Watch for quite a while. I had similar concerns. No one actually cared. If someone said hey is that..? I say yes and we would move on.

      Reply
    13. Clarissa

      Tell them some of the things the watch will do:
      1.Tell time 2.High & low temperature and weekly forecast. Temperature in other cities 3.Heart rate, resting and walking. 4.Tell your texts and emails. 5. 5 top news stories 6.PING your iPhone in case you misplace it. (my favorite ‘cause my iPhone likes to hang out under my bed.). 6.It’s a flashlight. 7.Call 911 and more… They’ll probably get bored and leave you alone.

      Reply
    14. Who Plays Backgammon?

      You don’t say where you’re working or if it’s an austere kind of setting, but celebrating a new job by getting yourself a present sounds pretty reasonable to me. Lots of people are interested in/enjoy tech even if they work in other disciplines. I’m a low-level hobbyist and I’ve attended tech events to learn, have fun, and meet interesting people (and pick up cool swag).

      Reply
  16. user42146

    I lost my job 3 weeks ago. It was an awful job because of my boss and the general culture in the office. I was bullied. But still I loved what I worked on and was always super engaged and had very good results till the last second.

    I started applying like crazy… And hey, it seems I will get something.

    Currently, 3 weeks after starting applying and in the full holiday season here, I have one oral offer and 5 last-stage interviews coming up next week. Several first interviews too.

    The thing is, I tried to apply a lot to get something quickly, so the offer I got will pay me just I was making at my last position or even a bit less than that. They mentioned I could get promoted quickly to get much more money, but I have bad experiences with promises that are not solidified in contracts.

    And other positions aren’t that great either (companies are less prestigious or the salary slightly lower/ the same whereas the workload the same or higher).

    Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. BeeGee

      I can relate to this, well, except having final interview rounds (I only have a few first round/second round interviews in the works). At first, I think I panicked after my lay-off and took the approach of “quantity over quality”. But I’ve learned to reflect on getting laid off from a bad environment and focus on getting a role that didn’t have the “red flags” at my last two firms I have worked at (for me, I don’t know if I want to work at smaller, independent firms in my field because there seems to be a lot of vague upward growth and I’m tired of doing too many tasks in my role as a younger employee).

      That’s not to say to be picky or closed off when you need a job, but if you have enough financial stability, I would take the opportunity to getting a job that you are happy to take and doesn’t set off too many warning flags. If the offer doesn’t seem great, don’t take it. It sounds like you’re in a pretty good place with some other interviews lined up, sounds like it might be worth seeing some of those through rather than taking the first offer (if you’re not thrilled about it). Good luck!!

      Reply
      1. BeeGee

        Sorry I think I glazed over the last part about not being thrilled about the other interviews in the works. Three weeks is not a long time to be unemployed, and I would reiterate on the quality application thing. Focus your time and energy on roles you are excited to apply for, and spend time on your resume and cover letters for each application. Maybe also consider splitting time between job searching and getting a certification/additional schooling for your field?

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Poster

      If they’re serious about the promises, ask for them in writing. Explain that you appreciate the sentiment, but that it would give you a lot more comfort taking the position when it’s written down.

      That won’t necessarily stop them from reneging on that, but it makes it much more real and probably in everyone’s minds that it’ll happen. Most companies will balk at this though. It’s a personal decision, so be really honest with yourself if you’d rather be where you are now, or where that company’s offering, since that’s what’s definitely in front of you.

      Reply
    3. tab

      If you get an offer, I think you should negotiate for a higher salary. Alison has good scripts for that. Congratulations!

      Reply
    4. TPS Cover Report

      You’re doing good. Just don’t overdo it. Once you are unemployed… it’s like that ”game theory” scene with the girls in ”Beautiful Mind”. And yes, when I was ”on the pull” nobody gave me the time, but once I had been engaged all the women wanted to have babies…

      ”Employers smell desperation”, it is not a joke. Something you do unemployed will give ”bad vibes” whereas you have a job and are giving out.. ”confident vibes”.

      Reply
  17. Fortitude Jones

    Today is the end of the eighth week in my new job, and I’m amazed at everything I’ve been able to accomplish thus far. I created a training guide for how to establish effective sales strategies in writing, and my boss and grandboss were so impressed with it, they asked me to share it with multiple people in our company that can help me to implement it company-wide. Next week, I have meetings with the head of our graphic design department to assist me in prettying up my guide before we upload it to our sales portal and the head of corporate training to help turn the guide into an interactive training video. The head of our sales training department also indicated his second in command would be reaching out to me shortly to schedule some time to talk about ways to incorporate my training guide into their executive sales training section on proposals. This is all very exciting to me since I have the least amount of experience in this than anyone else on my team, and yet I’ve become the department’s subject matter expert.

    I love that this job has (so far) turned out to be exactly how they described it in the interview. I was told that the two people hired for these new roles would have the opportunity to really shape and define the positions for ourselves, and for me, that’s been very true. I’m writing some more training guides and formally introducing a style guide for our proposal team to begin using soon.

    My counterpart? She’s a few weeks into this, and I’m not sure she’s liking the amount of ambiguity there is in this role. She keeps saying she wishes she knew exactly what they wanted her to do after her main task is complete in a couple of months, and I keep telling her that she needs to find things to do that can be useful to the team, but she’s stumped to what those things can be. She’s very process and procedures driven, which isn’t a bad thing – I kind of am, too – but she doesn’t seem to be the type to think outside of the box, so I’m not sure how long she’ll be comfortable in this role without having clearly defined tasks to complete.

    It leads me to wonder why someone like this would even accept a position where a large part of it is undefined and constantly in flux due to the changing needs of the company. She’s also very rigid about her time. For example, she told our manager to please not ask her to get into the home office any earlier than her 9am start time because she has a long commute. Well, our company is global, and we regularly have to work around time zone differences. I’ve had calls as early as 8am (which is an hour before both of our start times) and as late as 9pm – it’s the nature of our job. She then told me that she’s going to be very firm about not working on weekends and holidays, which, again, isn’t always practical when you’re dealing with proposal deadlines. She’s been in this business for over a decade, so she should know this.

    I hope I’m wrong about my hunch and that she loosens up a bit because I think she’s a good counterpart to me – I’d hate for her to get frustrated and leave. We have different strengths that complement one another, and I’m not sure if they would find someone else who has the strengths that she has, which would lead them to foisting off her tasks to me (they are not in my wheelhouse, so DO.NOT.WANT, lol).

    Reply
    1. Agent J

      Congrats on rocking your new job!

      Is it possible for someone to give your counterpart a list of tasks that have been done before or ideas to start with? Sometimes I have trouble with very open-ended tasks because I fear doing the wrong thing and not looking capable of doing the job well (thanks, anxiety!). But once I have even a small idea of what the possibilities/options/acceptable ideas are, I can take it and make it my own.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I think our dotted line manager has been giving her a small list of tasks like he did when I started, probably so as not to overwhelm her, but I can come up with some things I may need help on and ask her to assist me as well if he doesn’t have a ton of stuff for her to do right now. Most of the stuff they have us doing right now is cleaning up old documents to get them ready to be automated, but she was hired so late in the game, that I already did a lot of it. I’ll talk to dotted line manager as well and see if he can give her more work – she literally sat on the phone with me for an hour the other day stressing about what she’s going to do once her main task is done, and I can’t keep fielding those kinds of calls. They end up stressing me out, too! Lol

        And thanks for the congrats! I think this is the first position I’ve had where I just came out the gate killing it, so I’m pleased that I didn’t leave my last job for nothing and this seems like it’s going to work out – I was worried it wouldn’t.

        Reply
    2. bunniferous

      There may be personal reasons she has to be rigid about her time. I would let her and the company worry about that. On the other hand some folks really do have issues with ambiguity-I know I need more definition than you would have in your job for example-so if it turns out the job as is is not the right fit, it is what it is. Hopefully one reason they hired her is that you DO each have differing strengths and that will play out as time goes on.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        That’s what I keep trying to tell her – give it time! You’ve been here all of five minutes, but she’s so anxious about everything that she keeps contacting me with this stuff. Another example: she IM’d me today to ask if I worked with our direct manager on a task we have to complete to be eligible for our quarterly bonus, and I said I haven’t yet because I’ve been very busy. She asked if I knew when our manager wanted us to complete this stuff, and I said I don’t – she should contact our manager and ask. Like, it didn’t even occur to her to reach out to our boss and ask. She’s new; no one expects her to know everything right away.

        Reply
    3. LadyAbhorsen

      Congratulations!! You sound like you’re absolutely killing it at NewJob! I’m going to try and take some of that energy with me, if you don’t mind :P

      I don’t know if I have any advice on Coworker, except maybe, since it sounds like you have a really good sense of what you’re looking to do and build, you could try and bring her in on that? She has different strengths, so maybe if you go “I’m looking to do X in the next quarter, and I’d love your input on it.” she’d have a perspective or offshoot that she can then work on and build from? If I’m off-base on how your job and roles work, my apologies.

      Reply
  18. Eeyore's missing tail

    I need a little help. My supervisor asked me to review applications for the temp taking over my position in a few weeks and would like for me to participate in the interviews. He’s also asked me to come up with some questions. This is my first time on the other side of the table during an interview. Any tips on good questions to ask a temp? This is an administrative assistant position. My office works a lot with student appeals (I’m in higher ed), new programs and curriculum, and general problems/complaints. So far, here’s what I’ve come up with.

    1) Why are you interested in this temporary position?
    2) We deal with students who are not having their best days in our office. How would you handle an upset student when you were unable to give them the help they are requesting?
    3) Can you describe a time when you’ve had to adapt to a new situation quickly?
    4) How do you prioritize projects when juggling multiple deadlines?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I think these are all good questions, especially #2.

      One that we ask around here, which is kind of related to your #3, is “Can you tell me about a time where you were asked to do something you weren’t trained to do?”

      Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      These are perfect questions for someone who hasn’t sat in on hiring before, seriously!

      Reply
    3. Cashier

      These are good questions. The only thing I would add, and I am not sure of the language, is something about working in environments with very tight institutional frameworks. E.g. in higher ed, when you’re putting through a new certificate first it goes to advisory committee ABC, then the next level up, then 13 levels up til it is approved. So somehow I would want to gauge for does this person work on the fly or does he/she/they consider that there might be very well established processes for doing xyz.

      Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Try to avoid “how would you handle X?” questions. They’re easy to BS. Instead, ask “how have you handled X?” (That’s what “tell me about a time when…” questions are.) If they haven’t encountered X before, ask about something similar/broad enough to be applicable. So in this case, it might be, “Tell me about a time when you had to work with an upset client/volunteer/colleague/etc.” or so forth.

      Reply
    5. ThursdaysGeek

      We just interviewed interns and I was impressed with a couple of the questions that we asked.

      1) Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. What have you done to improve one of your weaknesses?
      2) Tell me about a project that you were proud of. It doesn’t have to be work related. (Students don’t always have work experience, but this allows them to show where they get excited, something they have done.)
      3) What do you do when you’re stuck, when you can’t figure out how to solve a problem?

      Reply
      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I really like #1. First job out of college I had confessed in the interview to having had projects that seem to build up at the end “but somehow I get them all done’… and boy would I have done better for years if THAT hiring manager would have worked closely with me on project planning and time management instead of it being someone 4 years later.

        Reply
    6. just a thought

      my friend always asks interns:
      Boss 1 gives you an important assignment that has to be done by the end of the day.
      Boss 2 gives you a second important assignment that has to be done by the end of the day as well.
      You look at both tasks and realize there’s no way you can do both of them in the time needed. How do you handle that situation?
      She said most give the correct answer of “talk to the bosses and figure out what to do”, but there’s always a few that just say “try to do both and say nothing”

      For a volunteer board non-profit, I also ask interns what they do when they are unsure of how to proceed with a task if they are unsure of how to do it and the person in charge is unavailable for a while. We usually screen out the ones that say “wait until I understand it perfectly before doing anything so it’s right the first time”. But the intern works remotely, and we’re all volunteers with day jobs, so this happens frequently.

      Reply
      1. Eeyore's missing tail

        I like those questions. I’ll definitely need to add the second one, but that happens often enough around here.

        Reply
  19. Eric

    Maybe this is a really entitled thing to complain about, but it’s so weird to me when startup recruiters act put on a fake friendly act. For example, yesterday I got an email from a guy titled “Whats good Eric!!”, referring to the company’s founders by only their first names. Then in response to my “I’m not looking for a new job, but I wish you the best of luck” reply, the guy says he’s “incredibly disappointed” and I “don’t know what [I’m] passing up.”

    I’m not averse to working hard, but c’mon, you’re trying to establish a professional relationship with someone.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      When I worked at a tech company, this is how EVERYONE in management/recruitment acted… until you put in your notice. Then it was frowns, “I’m disappointed in you”s, and quick walks to the exit.

      Reply
      1. Eric

        Yeah, there’s definitely startups and Startups. I’ve had multiple phone interviews with multiple companies where the hiring manager calls up 10-15 minutes late and goes “we’re a startup, so I was busy doing important things.” That, to me, is an automatic pass on continuing the process.

        And with the hyper type A startup dudes, “I’ve worked at startups before and it’s not for me” is seen as an invitation to debate you on that.

        IMHO if you make Working At A Startup into an inherently virtuous thing, you’re a sucker. But to each their own.

        Reply
          1. LinkedIn, Now LinkedOut

            I’m from New York City. I once had a recruiter pull something similar to what Eric said on me. Then he’d email me with life updates every couple of months that ended with “and by the way if you’re interested in some of the most awesome NYC startups, let me know!” One was about how he didn’t like NYC but he made so much money here, which annoyed me enough to respond with “I grew up here and your emails are incredibly bizarre and rude. Stop emailing me because I won’t be working with you or any agency you work with in the future.”

            Probably unprofessional, but honestly, I don’t think that guy is going to be developing a great network saying stuff like that either.

            Reply
        1. Autumnheart

          Amen. I’ve worked at start-ups, a couple agencies, and established corporations of varying industries: manufacturing, retail, banks. All of those places had both healthy and dysfunctional aspects, but the most satisfying place I’ve worked is at the retailer, which has a lot of the same “energy” and collaboration of a start-up, combined with the financial security and necessary bureaucracy of an established company. Type A Startup Personalities pooh-pooh bureaucracy, but, like, you need to make sure the paychecks don’t bounce. You need an HR department. You need a way to account for your revenue and overhead. You need leadership that understands how to run a business, and isn’t a hyper-promoted software developer who had a really good idea.

          The most DYSfunctional place I ever worked was, at the time, a start-up. They’re still around after 20 years, though, so hopefully that means they figured their stuff out.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            “Type A Startup Personalities pooh-pooh bureaucracy, but, like, you need to make sure the paychecks don’t bounce.”

            And this is why I have a personal hard limit on ever doing A Startup. I’m HR. Yes, I know the mundanities of regulatory compliance and labor law are harshing your buzz, bro, but they’ve got to get taken care of regardless. And I’m not willing to be seen as The Office Killjoy because I have to be the bro-wrangler and try to keep them from skirting or outright breaking laws because they’re so focused on being “cool” and “fun” and playing with Nerf guns between the cubicles.

            Reply
    2. FD

      It’s not entitled. They’re being jerks.

      In any customer service or sales job, you have to appear friendly, so I don’t make bones with that. That doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk when someone declines.

      It’s also stupid and shortsighted because that guarantees the person won’t consider you in the future!

      Reply
    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s how some recruiters just are.

      A good friend has a great job and some numbskull messaged him on LinkedIn all “I see you’re crushing it at Mega Big Business! We have a great opportunity for you to work with us over here at Who The Ef Are You Tho, I wanna talk to you about this and how we can bring your badassery to our team!”

      Get out of here with your nonsense, bro-seph

      Reply
      1. Eric

        Yeah.

        I’m not saying that the process needs to be robotic and sterile, but ultimately the recruiter’s contacting you because you have a skill set their employer needs. Affecting informality is pretty disingenuous, isn’t it? My thought is “why are you acting like this isn’t a business transaction and like we’ve been friends for years?” I like my colleagues and boss a great deal but I still go into work every day knowing I’m there to do a specific job for the company.

        Reply
  20. Cranky Neighbot

    Thanks for your feedback last week, y’all. I’m getting over my BEC phase.

    …In part because, this week, *I* was the annoying coworker. I had a little too much fun on Slack, I got a cold and had to come in sick, and then I took two personal phone calls today. I have lost the high ground if I had it to begin with. :P I am trying to forget about being irritated and focus on my work instead.

    Regarding the photo of a client, my coworker has not made fun of clients *at all* this week. I think somebody talked to him about it. Good. If it happens again, I’ll speak up immediately.

    Reply
  21. INeedANap

    How do you politely, professionally, tell someone to stop emailing you so much?

    I am providing support to someone who is the recipient of funds from my organization. They want to use most of these funds to make payments to a foreign business for work performed. They promised this business a payment schedule that they evidently made themselves, without consulting anyone in my organization.

    As it happens, there is a lot of red tape and many approvals from different departments to get this money out. On top of that, it’s summer, so many people are on vacation. On top of that, it’s fiscal year end, so many people are working on much higher priority tasks.

    What this means is that I am receiving regular, daily, increasingly urgent and desperate requests for “updates” on a process that just does not work like that. I have tried to explain that this request needs to route through these different departments and it takes time – which just results in this person emailing anyone and everyone in those departments for answers, sometimes getting answers that aren’t applicable to this specific process but then taking that wrong information and wanting to know why I’m not doing this or that. Sometimes it results in the people in these different departments getting exasperated with me, because this is my “client”, and they are bothering people outside my department.

    Ignoring the emails doesn’t work, and reads as unprofessional. I have tried to lay out the process and explicitly said: “You do not need to reach out for updates; I will check on this daily and update you as soon as I have any information.” Nothing seems to work, so I’m at the point where I just want to say STOP EMAILING ME – which of course I can’t do.

    Reply
    1. Reba

      Do you think rather than ” you do not need to ____” a firmer command of “Do Not Do _____” would help?

      Here is a stab at it:

      “I understand you are anxious to see these payments through. When you contact other departments, it creates confusion that actually slows the process down. Please do not do this. As we have discussed, this is our process (optional something something about governance or whatever if you are a non profit) and it is not possible to work around it. Going forward, I will update you when there is news but I will not have time to respond to requests for information otherwise. Thank you for understanding. I will do my best to keep this moving.”

      I don’t know, too cold? You will know whether you are expected by your org to keep providing Disney style customer service to this person, or to what extent you can draw a boundary.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I like this. I’d send this once, and then reply to each subsequent email with “I have no update today. As a reminder, I will inform you as soon as I have any information. It is not necessary for you to contact me daily.”

        Reply
      2. INeedANap

        Actually I really like this! It is so much clearer and cleaner than the emails I tried to compose. I think I was letting frustration get in the way of articulating it this way. I might soften it up a little bit (our org is really big on customer service but does allow us to draw boundaries) but overall this is great scripting.

        Reply
      3. JediSquirrel

        And also “I am checking on this every day/Tuesday/whenever” so that they know they are still on your to-do list. People who constantly email are sometimes fearful you’ve forgotten about them.

        Reply
    2. A Nonny Mouse

      I think I would take this as a sign that this client needs to be managed more proactively. Instead of just telling them that you’ll check every day, I would try to let them know of the result when you do check so they know you’re on top of it. Then at least they won’t take it upon themself to contact other people who may not be able to give them the information they need.

      Reply
      1. INeedANap

        The problem is that I would then be emailing them every day simply saying: no update – I’m actually wasting a lot of time going back and forth with them on these types of “pointless” emails and I’m trying to limit the amount we communicate it, not increase it.

        I say pointless only because I don’t have information to convey, I understand this person’s anxiety about the process and needing it to be sped up, that’s not pointless, it’s all these empty emails back and forth of: Any updates? No updates. When will you have an update? I don’t know, hopefully soon. Who else can I email? No one, just me, please don’t email other people. Can you email these people for updates? No, I need to let them work, just like you need to let me work (this last reply is just my imaginary one haha).

        Reply
        1. MsM

          “When will you have an update? I don’t know, hopefully soon.”

          See, I’d change that to “I don’t expect I’ll be able to tell you anything different before [insert time that strikes you as reasonable here]. If that changes, obviously I’ll let you know, but this is the typical timeline. Please keep that in mind when trying to schedule and make plans with your partner organization.”

          Reply
          1. valentine

            I would then be emailing them every day simply saying: no update
            This may be what they need and is probably less work for you, especially if you can schedule drafts.

            Reply
        2. RandomU...

          I like the above suggestion and would add at the bottom when your next update will be.

          I’ll provide the next update on Friday, unless I have information sooner.

          Then even if your Friday update is “No new information” you can say that with the date of your next update.

          Reply
        3. Aggretsuko

          Sounds like my job.

          Sometimes I want to point out that the more we have to stop and answer your questions over and over again and manage your anxiety, it’s only making everything take longer.

          Reply
        4. Not So NewReader

          Don’t be afraid to reference a previous conversation if this person keeps asking the same questions over and over.
          “Sue, as we discussed earlier, if we (you) email other people repeatedly on this matter then we are only slowing down the process. So, no do not email others on this matter.”

          I have had luck with getting antsy folks to slow down but mentioning something like, “as we talked about earlier”. Some how it seems to jar them back down to earth and they realize “oh, I have been told this before.”

          Reply
        5. ..Kat..

          Part of your problem is that when the client emails other people at your company, these other people are not simply referring the client back to you. Anything you can do about these other people? Can you tell them that you understand that client is impatient, but when they respond to client or do Z for client, it is not helpful and just makes more work for you?

          If you can, give the client a time for when you expect the next milestone. “The next X will occur by timeframe Y.” And if they email you before Y, and you have no new information, just say “nothing new to report. The next X will occur by timeframe Y.” Keep it simple and repetitive.

          Reply
    3. Combinatorialist

      Can you set a regular schedule for when you will send updates on the process (like once a week) and then any other emails respond with “I will provide an update with this on Friday at our regular update”?

      Reply
    4. Policy Wonk

      Where I work this often happens – someone has been instructed by their boss to follow up on a regular basis until the issue is resolved. I don’t have an issue with having to respond to a daily (sometimes twice daily or more!) check in, as I understand the need to report back to the boss. (And sometimes the boss is literally standing over them demanding they send the e-mail.) If your situation is similar, you will likely not be able to stop the person from e-mailing you. But e-mailing others in other departments is a whole different issue. I have had some success in getting people to stop e-mailing other departments by telling them clearly that by e-mailing the other department with incomplete information they created more work for everyone. As a result they have delayed getting what they actually want – in this case money – because they have interfered with the process, confused the other department about what is actually needed and – horrors – the process may have to start over.

      Reply
    5. Jadelyn

      “Per my last email, there are no updates to report.” Copy and paste, repeat ad nauseum until they get the message. If nothing else, having a pat response like that might help you disengage from it and lessen the feeling of being stuck in a wrestling match with an opponent that won’t quit.

      Reply
    6. tetsal

      If you have given them your workflow (“…I will check on this daily and update you as soon as I have any information”) and they are still bombarding you with “when, when, when,” I honestly don’t think it’s that unprofessional to not respond – you cannot give them new information.

      If they get antsy about it, you can just tell them FIRMLY you are on top of it and that there is nothing you can do at the moment. Maybe establish with them a timeline, and ask that you two convene at that time rather than them send frequent emails.

      Reply
    7. LGC

      Late as hell answer, but: my hack is to promise updates/a response on a timeline that’s convenient enough for me but reasonable for the person asking. So, if someone sends an email that says, “UPDATE?!” I might say, “I’ll provide an update by X date, is that all right?” (Where X is some reasonable amount of time in the future, like the end of the week.) That does put the onus on me, but it also flags that 1) I do care about this enough to follow up, 2) they WILL get an answer, and 3) most crucially, they don’t need to pester you (or anyone else) for updates until X date.

      I add in the question just because sometimes they might need a quicker answer than I’d like. Sometimes I can push it up, and if I’m inclined to I will. If I can’t, I’ll explain that I’m waiting on Y and Z and I’ll check in on it at X and sorry, there’s nothing I can do.

      It sounds like your client is REALLY looking for a concrete answer, and they don’t feel like they’re getting that. (And they’re not handling it great.) So you need to give them structure and guidance and yes I’m aware I’m talking about them like they’re toddlers because that’s kind of how you have to treat them.

      Reply
  22. Jessen

    Reposting from the July 4th thread as I posted late:

    I’m working on putting together a list of resources and tips for young adults job searching after coming out of abusive homes. So we’re often talking people who may have little to no knowledge about how anything works. Figured I’d ask the AAM community for any good resources. Basics like how to put together a resume if you’ve never seen one before are helpful, as are any tips on what sort of options are good for young people. Especially anything that doesn’t require college, since this is a group that often isn’t able to go because of FAFSA rules.

    There’s a lot of bad advice out there! So I figured I’d see what the community here can find that isn’t all gumptiony.

    Reply
    1. FD

      That’s a really interesting question. If you’re particularly looking at good options that don’t require college degrees, I would reach out to local trades that offer apprenticeship programs. Many of the skilled trades badly need young people and pay pretty well.

      If you do a search for “apprentice programs [YOUR STATE]”, you’ll generally find some good hits, I find.

      If you’re working in your local community, I’d also reach out to people in the trades and talk to them. Building relationships is really important to the success of this kind of thing.

      Reply
      1. FD

        Apparently I put ‘reach out to trades’ twice…

        I meant, look for apprenticeships online and also contact local businesses and see if you can set something up. Sorry, it’s been a long few days.

        Reply
      2. Jessen

        Really looking at online advice right now, mostly. But that’s a good idea about trades! At least in the US a lot of the people we’re talking to can’t get through the FAFSA because parents aren’t cooperating. It can be very hard to get an override.

        Reply
      3. Iris Eyes

        Partnering with local trade unions might be an option as well for trades training.

        I’m not sure but Salesforce has free online training modules. If you get the certification and what not that might be enough to open doors without a degree as it seems like they are expanding pretty fast.

        Another option for tech, working in retail where they offer tech services (office stores, electronics stores), that could be a bridge into an eventual in house tech support role.

        Part time employers who provide scholarships and may not require FASFA coupled with an associates degree could be a way to get in the door for office and financial work.

        For the entrepreneurial minded, pop-up business school seems like a fantastic resource. They specialize in helping people get a new venture started up with minimal fuss and funding.

        Reply
        1. Venus

          Talking with a trade union might be useful to get a feel for what might be available nationally (or maybe ask if they would be keen to have young folks contact them directly). There are some scholarships (https://www.mikeroweworks.org/scholarship/) which won’t help a lot of people but might be worth a note somewhere. I would ask the trade unions about whether or not there are opportunities for unskilled kids to help out – the guy who did some work for me recently said that he’s going to school to learn a trade, now that he’s been working in construction for a few years and knows what he really wants to do.

          Reply
      1. Jessen

        I like that – not only what to put on your resume but where to look if you’re not competitive. I know I didn’t know temp agencies were a thing before I started reading AAM.

        Reply
    2. deesse877

      Here is more a practical rec than a resource: if you can, walk through a real online application as a group. Non-degree jobs usually have those, and they are not intuitive for people who are very young, and/or lack consistent access to a computer (as opposed to a phone). There are user interface issues that can be hard to anticipate (e.g., where is the menu?) and also cultural or self-presentation issues that loom surprisingly large. Retail places often screen with “ethics” questions, for example, like “Have you ever shoplifted?” Lots of people from all backgrounds have, of course, but kids whose main model for authority is teachers, and/or don’t have much exposure to workplace norms of respectability, may answer with a detrimental excess of honesty.

      Reply
      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        Similarly, is it possible/practical to go through face to face interview techniques? Some kids who have been through abusive situations might be more unnerved than most by the “confrontational” nature of face to face interviews. Particularly overuse of “um” and body language.

        Reply
        1. Jessen

          Maybe? I’m not sure how that would work. We’re talking something more similar to a wiki – there’s no sort of group meetings or classes or anything like that. Just a diffuse online support network. Face to face contact is discouraged because a lot are either minors or just overage and children and young adults from abusive situations are easy targets for predators.

          Reply
          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

            Ah – then this is more background research for them for the future? Presumably they’ll have a face to face interview when they come of age?

            Maybe some interview tips, but practicing in front of a mirror? My point is that seeing another person’s face can be unsettling when being asked interview questions, even for someone who hasn’t been abused. Seeing a face (even their own) may help to put context to what an interview will be like.

            (I’m a little confused why children are looking for jobs though – what age are you helping?)

            Reply
            1. Jessen

              This sort of research is aimed at young adults who need to get out of abusive situations, especially those where parents may prevent or interfere with getting a job. So the 18-25 range. That said there are a lot of younger people on the forum too. And it could also be useful for a 16 or 17 year old who’s been told they have to get out at 18 or who knows they need to run as soon as they can.

              Reply
    3. Lora

      Oh my goodness! I am painfully familiar with these FAFSA rules and have nothing nice to say about the assumption that “all parents want what is best for their children” and “abuse is rare and hardly ever happens so we don’t need to think about it, lalalalala” but. To answer your question, here’s what I did when I was in high school, because I grew up back in the day when you could actually pay for school by working full time in summer and part time through the year:

      1. I actually had a decent guidance counselor and some very good teachers who were able to help me find what sort of jobs I could get. This was a while ago, so in those days you went to the library and got a newspaper and wrote down in a notebook what the classified ads said. I assume now it’s Indeed/craigslist and much more complicated to spot scammers, as back in the day when a company had to pay a non-trivial amount of money for a classified ad to run all week, that was some barrier to entry for scammers. Also 1099 employment wasn’t really as much of a thing in those days, not like it is now. I didn’t have to worry about being misclassified or owing taxes or anything like that.
      2. I was mentored by older students in my school and a couple of friends outside of school who had already had summer jobs. They helped me with the job applications and coached me on what to say in the interview, what to say when the supervisor wants to schedule you for shifts when you are actually in class, how to push back politely but firmly.
      3. Once I had my first job (waitressing), two very nice co-workers mentored me and explained to me which parts of the job I do have to put up with (customers acting like filth) and which I don’t (being paid on time, how to calculate what you should be owed and how much should be taken for taxes to be sure the manager didn’t short you).
      4. Teachers also helped me with the whole transportation to the job thing, once in a great while – I had a very kind art teacher who taught a night class and occasionally gave me a ride home from work if I was scheduled to work after the buses stopped running.

      Transportation was definitely a Thing though. It took a while to figure out how I was going to get a job close to the bus line, get a bus pass (which has to be pre-paid for the month…with what money??), make sure the job wouldn’t schedule me for weird hours when the bus didn’t run, until I could get a car. And then of course I needed someone to drive me to the house of the person who was selling a $500 car. I know this varies a lot by locality though, whether you have public transit or not, but for me being able to access transit and figure out how to get a job I could either walk to or get the bus to, was a very big deal and I still needed someone to drive me around for a little bit until I had things set up.

      Something I wish had been better when I was young: realistic explanation of trades and ensuring that they were open to girls. Granted, I’d probably be a diesel mechanic instead of a bioengineer, but that’s a good job – just one I had no idea how to get into and one which was clearly marked Boys Only in my day. As near as I could tell you had to go to Job Corps if you wanted to get into trades apprenticeships, and I had no idea how to do that without my mother interfering somehow.

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        It’s not even abusive or non-existent parents. Some of us have parents who are simply under-educated and refused to fill one out because they feared that they were signing for a massive amount of debt. =(

        Reply
      2. Jessen

        Oh yeah. Add in there’s also a lot of cases where the parents use willingness to support as a method to continue abuse. So they’ll happily sign and provide aid on the condition that the young adult doesn’t use it in a way that might actually lead them to getting independence. But that can be near impossible to explain to outsiders.

        Reply
        1. Lora

          Oh, and I wanted to add – bank accounts to deposit your paycheck. Some banks are really easy about this, you just walk in and tell the first customer service person you see, “I want to open a savings account, here is my first paycheck, social security card and school ID” and some are complete a-holes who want a full credit history and ten forms of ID and a bunch of stuff that 18-year-olds simply do not have (I’m looking at you, PNC and M&T). A list of “good” banks and credit unions vs “don’t waste your time” ones would be useful.

          Reply
          1. Jessen

            Credit cards too, probably! How to get started on building your credit when you don’t have a lot of support. I know there’s some starter cards out there that’ll give one to young people – I believe my first card started with a $250 limit and was specifically marketed to students and young adults with no credit history.

            Reply
          2. Natalie

            Since the OP is looking primarily for online resources, Ally Bank might be a good one – it’s completely online so available nationwide, no fees for routine stuff, and just from poking around on their website it doesn’t seem to be difficult to open an account. I don’t bank with them myself but I’ve heard good things.

            Reply
            1. StillAChemist

              Unfortunately I’ve had the opposite experience with Ally – my partner had no credit history when we moved in together right out of college and they sat on a joint account app for like three months before telling us we couldn’t have the account because he didn’t exist. We walked into a credit union that day and opened an account in twenty minutes.

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                Credit unions! I actually work at one now, but I’ve banked with them my whole adult life, and I cannot recommend them enough. Tell the big banks to heck off and go find your local credit union. Some may have specific membership requirements but most don’t these days, as long as you live in the neighborhood they serve that’s good enough. The fees are lower, the staff are generally under less upsell pressure and care more about members’ financial well-being than banks do. The fees and rates are generally lower.

                Reply
          3. That Girl From Quinn's House

            A lot of companies are signing deals with sketchy paycard companies, instead of cutting paper checks, and an explanation of the fees and pitfalls of a paycard vs. a bank account would be helpful.

            Reply
      3. Filosofickle

        It’s always mind-blowing to be reminded of how the “smallest” things can completely derail you — like a bus pass! Seriously, I’d donate monthly to buy a transit pass for someone starting out. There’s probably a group near me that does this, I’ll have to check!

        Reply
    4. blackcat

      What is the community college scene like in your area? Some places have relatively inexpensive certification programs (ex HVAC tech), which can help a lot.
      I would include on any list the advice to stay away from similar-sounding programs from for-profit schools, and how to spot a for-profit.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        This is more online focused than locally focused. I could certainly suggest looking into community college programs, although I’d have concerns that they might still be unaffordable. In a lot of cases we’re dealing with people where even a few hundred dollars might be too much. If anyone’s familiar with or knows resources for assistance for students who can’t fill out the FAFSA or who don’t qualify for sufficient aid with it that would be useful.

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          I would still include the tip to stay away for for-profits. The rules that kept them from doing a lot of predatory recruiting have been scaled back, and they can make a great pitch to young people in desperate straights.

          Reply
    5. Natalie

      This is a very specific bit of advice, but it’s my personal crusade: where they can get free* help with their income taxes, so they don’t pay someone at H&R Block fifty of their precious dollar to do essentially nothing.

      * From what you’re describing, these folks would be within the income limits for IRS Free File or VITA volunteers.

      IRS Free File gives filers who make less than $66K access to third party software, i.e. TurboTax, H&R Block, etc, to complete and efile their federal taxes for free. Most states are also included or have their own free file program.

      If you prefer to talk to someone or you have a complex situation like self employment or shared custody, you can find a VITA volunteer site and have your taxes prepared for free by an IRS trained volunteer.

      There is NO REASON for a low income person to pay a storefront tax preparer. The people in rare situations where they do need professional help need a CPA anyway.

      I’ll put links in a reply.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        IRS Free File: https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

        Always start at an IRS.gov page, don’t google for a provider. At the moment there is nothing preventing the third party providers from trying to route you to the pay versions – see ProPublica’s nice little expose on Intuit’s practices.

        VITA: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers

        They can also help with prior years if they’re not too swamped.

        Reply
      2. Jessen

        Thank you! From what I know of the group, the most common complication is going to be dependency issues. It’s common for parents to keep filing with the child as a dependent, even when not eligible. Which results in returns being rejected and it can turn into a mess.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          This is a really common issue that a VITA volunteer would be perfect for! Being erroneously claimed as a dependent does prevent someone from efiling (because their SSN has been “used”) but they can file on paper, and some months later both them and their parents will be contacted by the IRS to provide information so the IRS can decide who is right. (Residents of a few states can also request a special PIN from the IRS that has to be included with any return, which would prevent family members from incorrectly claiming them.)

          Reply
    6. AJK

      I delayed going to college right after HS for other reasons, but when I did sign up at 25 I discovered I no longer needed my parents information or signature since I was considered an independent student. I don’t know what the rules are anymore, but if that’s still the case, working and waiting a few years for college (while not optimal) is a possibility. I know having previous full-time work experience helped when I was post-graduation and looking for jobs. I worked at a temp agency for a few years, for example, and that gave me some valuable office experience I could point to right away. So even if they’re not able to go right now, they don’t have to give up on college entirely if they want to go in the future.

      Reply
      1. AJK

        PS: When I didn’t go to college at 18 I thought my life was over and I was a washed-up failure, which caused me a lot of grief for a few years. If can spare anyone else that experience by sharing my non-traditional student story…

        Reply
      2. Jessen

        Thanks! It sounds like the temp agency was a lot of help then? That’s often one of the major issues – it’s hard for an 18 year old to find a job that pays enough to live. Especially if they don’t have any prior work experience, which is also fairly common.

        Reply
    7. Policy Wonk

      Lora has already covered a lot of good territory. I would also include very practical things like practicing filling out forms, what to wear to an interview, practice answering interview questions. What to do if they offer you something to drink, appropriate, etiquette on things like shaking hands, holding doors, proper language. Do they have the documents needed to complete an I-5 form, such as birth certificate, social security card, drivers’ license? They may need help in getting them. Finally, in my area the public school system offers some adult education/job training, like pharmacy technician, or food service. Might be worth checking to see whether your area has something similar.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        Documents is one I honestly have yet to see a good answer to. A lot of young adults end up coming out with no identifying documents whatsoever. And it can end up being a catch-22 where you need the documents to get the documents.

        Reply
    8. Reliquary

      If these young adults are fleeing abusive homes, then they absolutely qualify for FAFSA dependency overrides. If you can identify and create a relationship with a “friendly” financial aid officer at a local community college or local university, that’s the key to sending these students there to help with their FAFSA forms.

      Community colleges and private universities with missions to help underserved student populations will probably be your best bet.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        There’s already some instructions on how to qualify for a FAFSA dependency override. However in many cases where it’s “only” emotional abuse (very common) young adults often can’t qualify in practice. They don’t have the right sort of documentation of abuse. It’s especially difficult because it’s actually pretty common that the parents will say they will pay for college, but then put stipulations on that amount to them being allowed to continue abusive behavior. A student with no outside documentation of abuse and parents who are on paper willing to pay for college doesn’t have much chance.

        Reply
  23. HigherEd on Toast

    One of my academic colleagues is getting on my last nerve. She’s a single mother with a six-year-old son who really, really wants to be paid to stay at home with him. The first time she brought this up, I thought she was joking and said, “Yeah, ha-ha, wouldn’t it be great if they paid us to stay at home instead of teach.” But she was serious. She’s gone to the administration, who told her no. She’s asked about colleagues who don’t have children donating their parental leave to her (our university gives a semester and a summer of paid parental leave, plus an unpaid second semester if people want to take it), and seemed baffled at the notion that childless people don’t get parental leave. Now she’s asking people via e-mail, since it’s summer and most people aren’t on campus as much in the summer, to give her money and “talk to the administration” for her so she can stay home with her son. This isn’t about better benefits for all parents, which someone asked about; it’s specifically that SHE gets to be a paid stay-at-home mother.

    People, including me, have told her bluntly to stop talking about this, and someone on the e-mail list who’s tenured and has young children said, “I don’t see why I should take money away from my children to give to yours.” Yet she keeps asking. Ugh.

    Reply
    1. londonedit

      What the…? I just can’t get my head around this! Does she have no understanding of how work actually, well, works?

      Reply
      1. HigherEd on Toast

        She just keeps saying that her calling is to be a mother, but she can’t go part-time or quit because then, of course, she wouldn’t have an income. And people have been pretty understanding in general about her need for flexibility; she teaches mostly online, so only comes to campus for one class or so a semester and required office hours and meetings; she teaches that class in the morning so she can be available to pick up her son from school; people have covered her classes or rescheduled meetings for her because of times her son was sick.

        But y’know, there’s a limit. And now she’s annoying some of the people who have covered classes for her last-minute in the past, so they might not want to do that anymore, either. Enough with the “But I HAVE to be a paid stay-at-home mom” BS.

        Reply
        1. londonedit

          While I’m all for parental leave and whatnot, ‘paid SAHM’ is not a job that exists, and it’s bizarre that she thinks an employer would pay her not to work but to stay at home with her child all day. It sounds like you’ve all tried several ways to get through to her and it seems to have had zero effect, so I have no practical advice, but I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!

          Reply
          1. HigherEd on Toast

            Thanks. There’s unfortunately no one who’s really ‘in charge’ of the faculty e-mail list, so no one who can really tell her to stop using it this way outside of saying that they don’t want to talk about it anymore. At least her last begging e-mail got only one response, so maybe she’ll give up on it because of that. I’m kind of happy that our fall semester schedules are completely different, so I’m less likely to run into her in person and have to hear about this again.

            Reply
            1. WellRed

              I’d reply all to the next such request saying it didn’t seem like harassing people to give her their time off seemed an appropriate use of listserve. Or, something even more withering.

              Reply
            2. Fortitude Jones

              Is there no way to block her from the listserv? Seriously, she needs to be banned for a while, or at least until she learns to stop guilt tripping and harassing her coworkers using it.

              Reply
          1. HigherEd on Toast

            I think academia unfortunately does foster some of these attitudes that people wouldn’t get away with outside of it. I’ve had colleagues in the past who thought they should be able to ban people from ever talking about, say, salary again because that topic made THEM uncomfortable, and a colleague who wanted everyone to donate hundreds of dollars for her daughter’s baby shower that they were not invited to, and someone else who would say that he was going to teach certain required topics and then just teach whatever the hell he wanted. (That last one was extremely offended when students complained and he got officially reprimanded). This is one of the stranger outliers, but not unique.

            Reply
            1. Wishing You Well

              Yes, teaching whatever you want is not unique. An engineering professor of mine spent an entire semester railing against magic instead of teaching the curriculum. Didn’t get much out of that class.

              Reply
                1. Seeking Second Childhood

                  HA! I’m a relatively new reader who just stumbled on that post.

            2. KoiFeeder

              Was that last one a visual arts teacher? I’m pretty sure I’ve had two that fit that description (and one female art history teacher, and the anthropology teacher that left for Austria before the midterms and never returned…).

              Reply
    2. A Simple Narwhal

      …I mean, I too want to be paid to not work, but I also want to live off of ice cream and cheese puffs without gaining weight, and both are just as reasonable and likely to occur.

      It takes some real gumption to actually go to your boss and request that they pay you your salary but let you not work.

      In all seriousness if there’s someone you can report this to above her/you I would, because this has definitely reached the point that she is harassing people.

      Reply
      1. HigherEd on Toast

        Yeah, it’s just bizarre. I mean, at the very least she could have tried to say she wanted to fight for better benefits for all parents, not made it clear that she’s only thinking about herself.

        I’ve thought about going to the Dean, now that I have the e-mails as proof. But frankly, I’m not tenured (although neither is she), and I’d prefer one of the tenured folks does it. There are a few who might be willing to do it now, so maybe I’ll talk to them and see.

        Reply
        1. MsM

          If you’re on good terms with them and know (or are at least pretty sure) they’re similarly frustrated, sounds like a good idea.

          Reply
          1. HigherEd on Toast

            There’s several I am, including the colleague with kids who sent that e-mail about not taking money from his own children to give to hers. So I do have possibilities. Thanks!

            Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          Being paid to not work isn’t even a benefit!

          I’d tell her “You’re right, it’s unreasonable that they won’t pay you to be a SAHM. You should quit this job and find someone who will.”

          Reply
    3. Wishing You Well

      Shouldn’t someone inform her boss and grand-boss of her intense begging campaign? This is disruptive and she’s clearly not interested in doing her job. If you’ve asked her to stop and she hasn’t, I’d forward her emails with a comment up the chain of command. Ugh, indeed.

      Reply
    4. Midwest Academic

      At our University, most faculty are on 9 month contracts, so if they want to stay home and do nothing for the summer that is up to them (most people are obviously working on their research over the summer, or are paid extra if they teach a summer course).

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      She’s been told to stop asking so therefore she keeps asking.

      Makes you wonder how someone could be just. so. very. disconnected. What goes on in their heads that allows them to continue? I would have died from embarrassment at the first time someone said no.

      Reply
      1. Clisby

        It’s not just that people say no – I have never heard of a place where people accrue parental leave regardless of whether they’re having/adopting children, and can then donate that to someone else. My husband once worked for an employer where he (or anyone) could donate accrued PTO/sick leave to a colleague who was in a really bad situation – but there, everybody earned and accrued the leave.

        Reply
    6. ..Kat..

      Tell her that you will not give her any money and to stop emailing you begging for your money/benefits. And cc her boss.

      Reply
  24. ArtK

    I gave notice on Monday and so far, it’s been good. My wife said that within an hour of my doing it, I was already a happier person. Fortunately, the people who could cause trouble have been silent and I’m very happy for that. My two long-time colleagues (10 years, same product, 3 companies) are both sad. My biggest guilt is leaving them holding the bag on this one. We’re in the process of a major knowledge transfer and I’ve made it clear that I can be available in the future for questions. I know that they won’t abuse the privilege.

    The one odd/annoying thing was the e-mail from the HR people asking me for an accounting of all of the PTO/sick time taken in the 1.5 years I’ve been here. They have no system for tracking it.

    One more week here and I’m done! Two weeks of vacation and then I start my new job. Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m evil cackling that these sh*ts don’t track your PTO and want you to account for it.

      They can’t just go pull your GD pay stubs for the last 18 months? Even if my system didn’t automatically do it for me and I could print it out that way, I could do it the long way. What a sack of nonsense.

      You will shed the guilt once you’re out of there for good. I understand it all too well. There’s always that two or three people you really like and appreciate but really, they’re going to be okay. They have the option to leave too if they are as miserable as you were, they should.

      Reply
      1. ArtK

        Not on the pay stubs! They have *no* records at all. They supposedly implemented a system but your boss is supposed to enter things and he never entered mine.

        I chose to go the honorable route and looked at my old calendars.

        Reply
        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          LOLOLOLOLOLOL

          Sucks to suck, HR. You’re too good of a person, I respect this but wow, yeah you’re better than I ever would have been. I would just say “I don’t know I was supposed to be tracking, I assumed that’s the job of someone in payroll. My bad, suckaaaaaaa.”

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Very tempting to go just for “I never took any time off. I’m sure that’s why you have no record of any.”

            Reply
            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              Seriously…I want to know why they’re asking. Do they have to pay it out, is that why? In that case it’s in their best interest to keep track FFS! Are they going to short pay your last check if you took too much!? That’s their risk that they took by not tracking it.

              Reply
              1. ArtK

                Yes, they have to pay it out. Yes, it’s in their best interest to keep track of it. Yes, they’re incompetent. Yes, this is one reason why I’m bailing out.

                Here’s the reason why I did report it honestly: I took pretty much all of my available PTO and would feel horribly guilty taking advantage of their incompetence.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Yeah, I’d want to be the ethical one there too. But I’d still secretly fantasize about other approaches.

                2. The Man, Becky Lynch

                  Ah okay, they pay it out so I’m less salty and accept them for their short coming!

                3. Not So NewReader

                  Some where someone is saying, “I got lucky this time, ArtK is saying he used most of his PTO. I may not get this lucky a second time.”

                  I worked for a place with around 40 or so employees. PTO was not tracked. Anywhere.
                  Unfortunately, this was a minor problem in light of other things.

  25. Marzipan

    Aaarggghhh.

    Some of you may recall that I’ve been trying (for several years, and to the tune of a very substantial sum of money) to conceive through fertility treatment. My next donor egg IVF cycle is all paid for, my baseline scan is Monday. I haven’t ever told my workplace about it, because I frankly didn’t want to.

    On my current wage I would just about be able to afford to live and support a child, although it would be very tight (especially childcare). In this area, I wouldn’t be able to get another job outside of my current employer that pays me this much. (It’s an area with low wages overall, and my role is quite niche and obscure, and I don’t have qualifications or skills that would transfer all that readily to anything else.) Even if I were to get a different job at the same grade with the same employer, I’d go back to the beginning of the pay band so would initially earn a big chunk less. In my current job, I’d get fantastic maternity leave and I’ve worked here long enough that I’d have hoped for a bit of consideration around making things work practically (like, needing to leave on time because of childcare, that kind of thing.) So, I’ve always seen this as a ‘here or not at all’ proposition – I don’t think it would be responsible to dive into single parenthood on a shaky footing. I’m also old enough that I don’t think it would be particularly responsible to wait – I’d already be a fairly old parent, wait any longer and I’d be concerned.

    All of a sudden, they’ve randomly lobbed it into the aether that they’re considering restructuring our jobs to go from effectively 9-5 (with some overspill sometimes at busy times), to being on a rota including occasional weekends (which I could deal with, just about) and then some sort of shift pattern involving days (9-5) and evenings (4-11). And there’s no way I could possibly do that and be a solo parent. I don’t have family nearby. There’s no childcare option that runs to midnight, even if that were vaguely reasonable, which it isn’t.

    To say that I am upset would be putting it mildly. I basically spent half of yesterday crying. It’s not finalised yet and they’re would presumably be some sort of ‘consultation’ but it sounds like they’re very set on doing what they think will please the boss above them. They’re also so bogged down in attempting to create a rota that I think as soon as they manage to invent one that works mathematically, they’ll go with it irrespective of whether it makes any actual sense.

    It basically feels like my workplace has decided I’ll never get to have children. I mean, my treatment may well not work anyway, it’s not like my history is great, but still.

    Reply
    1. WellRed

      Is there a chance that if you and your co-workers pushed back as a group they wouldnt make the switch? Is it a done deal? What’s their reasoning?
      As to the personal impact, you aren’t pregnant yet. please don’t put your life on hold for too long. Parents, even single ones, figure it out. If you already had children and they sprung this, you’d figure it out. It’s harder, to be sure, but not impossible. Would voicing some of this to a therapist help you see clearly and make a decision?

      Reply
      1. Marzipan

        It’s not entirely a done deal, and they may yet decide to propose something entirely different. Their reasoning is… fuzzy, and I’ve pushed back quite hard on that front already in an effort to understand what it is they’re actually trying to achieve. I get the sense that they’re feeling urgency from above to come up with a model but I don’t completely get (and I’m not sure they do, either) what the rationale is. What really concerns me is that they’ve clearly spent so long trying to come up with any sort of rota that can make the hours come out right and cover the times they want to cover, that as soon as they get anywhere close to that, they’re going to get very protective of it. Even if it makes no sense – they won’t see that, they’ll just want to cling on to their hard-won ‘success’.

        I’ve always thought that there would be some having-to-figure-it-out times, if I were to have a family – but as a single person, I’m really feeling the difference between going into it with a good job and able to support a child, versus the possibility of that not being the case.

        Reply
    2. blackcat

      How do your colleagues feel about this restructuring? My guess is that you’re not the only one upset by this, and if people push back NOW before a change happens, you’re more likely to be successful in preventing the change.

      Have you considered moving to a better job market? You may be pleasantly surprised that other companies have good maternity leave, even if you haven’t been there long.

      Reply
      1. Marzipan

        They also seem not to be fans. It’s tricky because we’re being told little bits and pieces, but basically that they’re trying to come up with a model so people can comment on it.

        Physically moving wouldn’t really be workable, for various reasons, and finding another job locally is not something I’d be confident about, sadly.

        Reply
    3. desktop ladybug

      I am very sorry for this added stress. I am in a FB community for single moms by choice, and there are a number of surprising arrangements that people make work. Obviously you know your situation better than I do, so I don’t want to invalidate your fears, but something might work out. Family isn’t always blood relatives, and community forms in all kinds of ways. If you use FB at all, I recommend searching for a SMC group (some are hidden, so you might have to join a national group first to find a local community?). They will be a great source to commiserate, brainstorm and support you. Very best of luck!

      Reply
      1. Marzipan

        I tend towards anxiety and I’m not great at jumping into things I can’t see a way through. So I could kind of see work, child in nursery, calling on some help from friends as needed. But I’m really struggling to see a manageable way through something that sounds as chaotic as what they’re proposing.

        Reply
    4. Wantonseedstitch

      Oh man, I’m so, so sorry. I’m also someone who’s currently trying to conceive while older than average for a first pregnancy (not yet using IVF, we’ve only just started a few months ago), and my husband is not currently employed. It’s scary, even if we were prepared for the circumstance. But your situation breaks my heart. Have you thought about going to HR and talking to them about how unmanageable a schedule like this is for those who depend on child care to be able to work? As someone else suggested, going with a group of coworkers would be even better. Are there any current single parents in your workplace who would be affected by the schedule change?

      I wish you the best of luck with the scheduling nonsense, and also with your treatment.

      Reply
      1. Marzipan

        I do think that, for an organisation that likes to go on about being family friendly, they’re making an odd choice. (And it irritates me that the people proposing this wouldn’t have to work these silly hours.) So I’m thinking that one avenue for pushback will be to ask them to think about concentrating the evening work into a small number of specific roles consistently working those hours (there will need to be some new people on the team to do what they’re planning anyway, so they could be recruited upfront to work just evenings) rather than making literally every role on the team completely family UNfriendly.

        Good luck with trying to conceive!

        Reply
        1. valentine

          Options:
          ~Ideally, moving to a better job market because depending on your employer, especially one that lacks common sense like this (really shortsighted of them not to just hire people for evenings), as a foundation of your parenthood isn’t viable. Would being put on this rota be enough of a catastrophic event for you to move?
          ~Your role doesn’t need to cover evenings. You stay put or move to 9-5.
          ~You get your own shift, with your current flexibility, but core hours that include both shifts. (Basically, it’s okay to ask to be an exception to the rule. If they say no, at least you know, versus finding out you suffered needlessly.)
          ~If stuck on the rota: An interval of more than two days off between the different shifts because they’re going to take a (massive?) toll on you. Forming a group, possibly even living communally, with some of your opposite-shift coworkers and friends so you can trade childcare.
          ~Finding baby-sitters happy to work evenings. (If you could do this, there might be room to actually request to work only evenings, for extra pay.)

          Maybe you can find communities of parents in nursing, retail, and factory work to see what other possibilities there are.

          Reply
    5. KoiFeeder

      If it helps any, my mom had me at around 42-43 (albeit without IVF) so you’re certainly not alone with being an older parent!

      Reply
    6. remizidae

      >There’s no childcare option that runs to midnight,

      I think that’s your problem! There isn’t any childcare in your area that is open late? If so, this would be a great thing to bring up with your HR/management.

      Reply
  26. Anon for this

    Is there a tactful way to have a conversation with your boss about the amount of time they have been out recently? This is our busy season and my boss has only worked a full week 2 of the past 7 weeks. 2 of the weeks he was out for 2 different week-long vacations, the rest were for out of town meetings/ events. I respect that his time off is his own but I am still training and I have been covering for him on top of my own duties so I am very overwhelmed. I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done and something is going to fall through the cracks. Any tips?

    Reply
    1. WellRed

      Don’t talk about the time off itself, so much as ask for guidance in prioritizing what needs to be done vs what can wait or handed off to someone else. If you don’t tell the boss there’s a problem he can’t help.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        The nature of my work is one where no one else is able to complete the tasks. I tried to bring up the fact that I am overwhlemed but he called it my trial by fire.

        Reply
        1. Rezia

          Can you tell him something like, “I am doing X, Y, Z as priority and letting A, B, C slide if needed because I can’t do it all right now, please let me know if that’s a problem”

          Saying it’s your “trial by fire” does not mean that you should let yourself get burned out. That is very unsympathetic and unhelpful of your boss.

          Reply
        2. Jadelyn

          …speaking of fires, that’s a blazing red flag. Seriously, if your boss is that flip about you being overwhelmed, I’m not sure I’d hold out any hope that he’ll ever be willing to actually, y’know, manage.

          More practically speaking, tell him very bluntly and in simple words that it’s literally not possible to complete everything in the hours available, and you need him to work with you to prioritize with the understanding that things at the bottom of the priority list might just not get done when there isn’t time for them. See if that knocks him out of his complacency.

          Reply
    2. fposte

      You can’t tell your boss not to take time off, but you report what won’t get done while you’re short-handed and ask for prioritization if necessary. No, there aren’t hours enough in the day to do his job and yours, so don’t make that the goal. If by “falling through the cracks” you can mean flagged for Bob’s return rather than forgotten, that’s a reasonable response.

      If there’s a subtextual question about whether he should be taking the time he is, I’m thinking “Probably not.” It sounds like he’s got overly high expectations for a new staffer, and I’m wondering whether he’s had a lot of churn in that position (or if he’s used to having a lifer who knew everything he did). But that’s not something you can control; what you can do is control your hours and what you prioritize.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Oh yes! I am just having trouble trying to phrase the convo as ” Hey I am drowning because of everything on my plate/ I don’t have the autonomy to make big decisions that need to be made now or else money is lost” even though the time away and the lack of communication of what is a priority (everything is of the highest priority when he is here) is the reason why.

        I only gave the break down of the time because it has been going on for months and I am feeling slightly burned out.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I’m a little confused by “I am still training” if you’ve been there for months, but it’s not reasonable to expect you handle budget-level decisions in your boss’s absence unless you’re adequately compensated.

          I do get a strong whiff of “not reasonable” from the situation as a whole, though, so it’s possible that even a reasonable pushback won’t solve this situation for you; if so, you’ll need to decide if this is something you can live with or not.

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            It’s hard to explain without exposing myself but I am in a highly specialized field that takes about 3 years to fully master (as in have 100% autonomy and not having to have pieces of work double checked before being sent out). I have been here just under a year and have been learning quickly, but there are some things I have questions on.

            Reply
    3. Coffee Bean

      That must be exhausting for you. My suggestion would be to not discuss the amount of time he has been Out Of Office, especially because it sounds like it wasn’t all for personal reasons, he was working as well. And even if it was all personal, presumably his boss (your grandboss) has approved knowing it is your busy season.

      Just stick to the facts. During a one-on-one have a conversation about your list of things to-do, and you can say “with you being tied up in other things I have been trying to also pick up A, B, and C Tasks”. Then you can ask him how he would like you to prioritize things.

      Reply
    4. Rey

      If I’m reading this correctly, it seems like your biggest concern is how to get the work done (or prioritize and decide which work won’t get done). With this in mind, I would stay away from a direct statement of “you’re out of the office too much”. Instead, I would make a list of exactly what you still need training on that is preventing you from functioning while he’s out of the office, and a list of exactly what you’re covering for him on top of your own duties. Then, ask him about those specifics: “I still need training on X and Y. Can we fit this in before you are out of town next week? I want to be prepared to handle things while you’re gone.” Or “Am I responsible to cover A and B while you’re out of town next week? I’m concerned that I don’t have time to do your A and B and my X and Y. How would you like to prioritize these items? Which of those items can wait until you return?”

      Reply
    5. Anon for this

      I just realized that the way I framed this makes it sound I am annoyed about the time away. I am not. I am just overloaded because of the time away and the lack of direction I am given. I am doing the job of 2 people and I am not fully trained on my job let alone my boss’s daily responsibilities. Sorry for the confusion

      Reply
    6. Ask a Manager Post author

      You’re approaching it as if you just have to get everything done. You don’t — or at least you shouldn’t start with that assumption. Frame it for your boss as “I have time to do XYZ, but not ABC — how should I prioritize?” More here, which is about a different situation but applies to yours too:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2011/04/help-my-workload-is-too-high-and-im-burning-out.html

      From there, it’s up to your boss if he wants to make the connection about WHY this is the situation.

      Reply
    7. OhBehave

      Stop keeping track of his time away from the office. If it continues it will only drive you nuts.
      As Alison has suggested, set up your own priority list and ask boss if that’s reasonable. His time away may be coming to an end soon and he will have a regular schedule. Be very careful of your tone when you approach him though.

      Reply
  27. dealing with dragons

    Looking for advice about a shift in job responsibilities. Previously I had been responsible for actual deliverables, but now I’m in a new position which doesn’t have delineated deliverables for me to do. My new job is a lot more business oriented, so it’s hard to tell what I should do to fill my days. I’m also still not 100% on my responsibilities; it’s currently a Role That Exists but was previously being covered by two people. I think they are having some issues in wanting to transition the “fun” stuff.

    It’s also for a company with 50k+ other employees, so the job is huge. It’s exciting but also terrifying.

    Reply
    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Since this is a new position and you’re still transitioning into it, it may very well take you time to really get a grip on what you should be doing on a daily basis to stay on top of things. A lot of my life is just monitoring things, so I have a list of things to click through and look at them every day or every week. This is where lists and a full scope of what your duties are comes into play.

      I can’t give you that much more advice without knowing more specifics of what they’re having you do but at the same time, you don’t know the specifics either at this time it looks like! So try not to stress.

      If you have a 1:1 setup with your supervisor, this is something you can also ask them to help you tackle and frame it in that “I want to succeed at this job, how should we approach this so that we’re on the same page.”

      Reply
      1. dealing with dragons

        yeah it’s kinda hard cause we’re doing a scaled version of agile, so besides smaller sprints/iterations there’s bigger 3-month iterations. The current one ends in like three weeks so work is winding down/getting ready to pivot. I’m hoping that when the next one starts I will get a lot more context due to being involved in planning/strategy sessions.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        Seconding the “transitions take time” bit here. My HR dept reorg’d late last year/early this year and I was made part of a brand new two-person sub-team within HR, and we’re just now – six months later – finally feeling like we have a firm grasp on what we’re supposed to be doing.

        We keep a team planning document with our priority 1, 2, and 3 items, our “wishlist” projects (stuff we’d like to do, but don’t have time for right now), any major deadlines (like EEO-1 part 2 which is coming up alarmingly quickly), stuff like that. It’s very helpful for me in keeping on track, since a lot of my work is ad hoc and firefighting, I find it easy to get lost in the weeds and forget that there’s a bigger picture to keep working towards as well. Could you create a “strategic plan” type of document to serve a similar function for you?

        Reply
  28. Need boss advice!

    Hi all! I wrote in a comment on the open thread a couple weeks ago about my manager misrepresenting an internal opportunity to me so I wouldn’t take it, and then I found out later (after they had hired someone else for it) that it was a role they had tailor-made for me and my skill set. A few things have happened since then that show it’s actually part of a larger pattern that’s starting to emerge, and I’d love some feedback on how to deal with the situation. I am getting the sense that my boss never wants me to move out of my role and would actively try to sabotage me from doing so.

    For example, when I was hired on, professional development opportunities were discussed and at my review earlier this year my boss said he’d like to see me pursue some this year. I identified a course (offered by our company at a low cost) that interests me, and while it’s not directly aligned with my current role, it could open up more opportunities for me in this company in the future. When I told him I was interested in it, he chastised me for “wasting company resources” on this course. He asked what I planned on doing with it and when I told him my interest in moving to other areas of the company (which I would need to do to advance from my current role), he bacame quite upset and basically told me that I shouldn’t be interested in that, why wasn’t I doing more in my current role (things that have been frozen for a number of reasons), etc.

    This is one of a few incidents like this. Also of note is that my current role is something that is gradually getting phased out due to technology changes. It’s a question of when, not if (and he would not be my boss anymore when it happens). I feel like he wants me to fight to keep my role as is, but really, I’d just like to focus on how my current skills could transfer to another role in our company. However, this type of treatment does not inspire me to stay at this company long-term. Anyone have any advice or thoughts as to how to handle the situation?

    Reply
    1. MsM

      Is it possible for you to talk directly to other people in the organization (preferably senior to your boss) about what you’re looking to do and how you might go about transferring? If not, then yeah, unfortunately, I think that’s a sign it’s time to start looking. And while you clearly shouldn’t share your ambitions with your boss any more, maybe you can (politely) challenge him to articulate why he thinks it’s worth doubling down on this role when all indications suggest to you that it’s not a priority for the rest of the organization and will be even less of one in future.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        All of this. Please start networking internally on your own, OP, so that you can make a move out of your current situation. A manager who actively sabotages their employee is not someone you should be working under long-term (or, at least until your position is no longer needed). It sounds to me like boss is trying to keep you trapped because with you gone, it’ll become even more apparent to the higher ups in your company that his role is also no longer needed – but that’s not your problem, and he’s trying to make it so.

        Go back to the other manager and ask him/her for coffee/tea/whatever. Then discuss whether or not he/she will have another position opening like the one that was just filled. If not, ask the manager if he/she knows of anyone else in the company who would need your particular skill set and ask for him/her to make an introduction if you don’t already know the person. Your boss is an ass, and I wish nothing good on him.

        Reply
        1. HappySnoopy

          Yes. Exactly. Reach out, explain you had some incorrect info about the tailor made role that you didnt realize made you appropriate for it until too late.

          Dont throw boss under bus, keep it general and see other opportunities. And keep boss out of loop/communicate with you new expanding network directly.

          You can also frmae it, not just for you career, but for improvements at job/dept as a whole…which is added cover to blunt boss sabotaging you.

          Reply
        2. Need boss advice!

          Thank you everyone for your replies! Sadly the other opportunity seems off the table for now. But I am definitely going to make a point to network internally more. Hopefully something good will come of it.

          Reply
    2. Michael Valentine

      My husband had a similar problem at an old job. His boss eventually told him she would never let him leave the department, and that if he tried, she’d tell everyone how terrible he was. Even though it would mean moving to a different city, I encouraged him to apply elsewhere. It was better to leave than try to navigate all the politics, and honestly, moving 1000 miles away did some great things for his career!

      Reply
      1. Need boss advice!

        Wow, thank you for your insight! I’m glad to know that this situation can have a happy outcome!

        Reply
        1. valentine

          Your boss is seriously weird. You’re heading toward a layoff and he’s got you in a deathgrip yet is sabotaging you at every turn. If he’s desperate to have a direct report, it would make sense if he fought to keep your role. If he’s interested in you personally, it would make sense if he helped you stay at the company, even if not with him. I just can’t think what he’s up to. So.

          I read your previous post. Did you use any of the advice from it? In addition, you can tell the colleague who tried to get you promoted that you definitely want that and ask her to share that with others and to let you know if she hears of anything.

          Reply
    3. msroboto

      It sounds like even if your job is in a death spiral your boss probably doesn’t want to hire or train a new person into a dead job. You are the only thing he has to keep that dream going.
      I think you need to talk to him about this reality and TRY to negotiate a deal. Like I will suck it up until the end if I can take those classes, train for a new role. If he isn’t into it then it’s time to look outside the organization.
      You really do have some leverage here. It is not in his or the companies best interest for you to leave.

      Reply
  29. Xenial Xiaolongbao

    Clash of the Directors S1. E9

    Woot woot – it’s a 3-day work week with Thursday and Friday off! (Yeah non-profit!) Well deserved, too!

    Due to the short week and almost everyone out, it was a quiet, calm week.

    The Programs Director (PD) was MIA. Her schedule didn’t say she was going out of town and we can only surmise she texted the Executive Director (ED) to let her know she was on the road to see her boyfriend. No bigs – nothing was going on anyway. As far as I know, she’s still waiting for her new job contract to be signed before she gives notice.

    As our Events Manager (EM) is on maternity leave, we’ve made concerted efforts to not ask her any questions, not that we need to because she did such a great job detailing what to do for an August fundraiser that we’re working on now. I texted her to thank her for her prep work – she did a great job.

    Development Director (DD) again tried to tap into my ‘what do you know about everyone else’ without much luck. DD lamented she didn’t know how to get back into good graces or connect with the PD. I only said that I’ve had a great relationship with the PD and all the DD can do is simply talk with the PD and let her know how she feels.

    Reply
  30. Cranky Neighbot

    Do any of you have a favorite backpack for carrying a laptop to and from work? I’d like to add a second one for a little bit of variety.

    I’m thinking black (my current backpack is colorful), but not hung up on it. Anything available in the US or ship-able to the US is fine. Men’s and women’s are both fine.

    Reply
    1. londonedit

      Do you know what? I actually bought a backpack that’s designed as a baby changing bag (despite most certainly not having a baby) and it’s great. So many pockets! So much space! So comfortable to wear! Mine is from a brand called Lekebaby and it was only about £35 on Amazon. It has plenty of space for a laptop, tons of room inside, one of those wired top openings that stays open if you pull it apart, and loads of other useful pockets.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I have the eBags slim laptop backpack and I love it. It fits a ton and my regular-sized, not-super-light laptop feels like nothing in it. It’s almost always on sale on their website; I got mine for 30% off.

      Reply
    3. Reba

      I have a Sherpani Camden bag that I love! They have several similar styles. I got it for traveling but it quickly became my everyday work bag. It is configurable with backpack straps, a long shoulder strap, and decent size top handles.

      Reply
    4. Booksalot

      Poppy Barley’s The Backpack is on my “if I win the lottery but still need a job” list. It’s gorgeous and expensive AF.

      Reply
    5. Hallowflame

      AmazonBasics laptop backpack is pretty good, and only $30. Plenty of room for a laptop and accessories with space left over for any other odds and ends you may need to carry. This backpack is my go-to carry-on when I need to travel.

      Reply
      1. A Non E. Mouse

        Seconding AmazonBasics!

        https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011J4BPWC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

        We have three of these in the family now, mine and my two oldest children carry them. They have laptops and books in theirs for school, including the requisite “thrown into the car/onto the floor/slung only on one shoulder between”.

        I carry an enormous about of stuff in mine (I’m in IT), usually my laptop, ipad, charging cables for all of the above, my lunch, at least one full 1 liter water bottle, wallet, keys, girly things like tampons, a book or two to read, notebook for notes,etc.

        I’ve never not been able to fit what I needed in there, though it does get awkward to carry if you get it too heavy.

        10/10 recommend!

        Reply
    6. SarahKay

      I have a Wenger backpack who are the people that make Swiss Army Knives – it even comes with a pocket just for a Swiss army knife. It’s now 11 years old, still going strong, and I love it. It has a padded compartment for the laptop, lots of extra space for other stuff, loads of different pockets (pockets within pockets!) – it’s fab. If you google “Wenger Skywalk backpack” you’ll get a good example of one.

      Reply
    7. EmilyG

      I’m quite fond of the Knomo backpack I got about 18 months ago. They have lots of models in varying degrees of formal/informal, gender-neutral/more feminine/more masculine. I have the black leather “beaux” one but I got it about 50% off.

      Reply
    8. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      Sherpani, recommended here last fall by another reader. Not big, can be backpack, shoulder bag, or carried by handles. (I have a separate tote-like purse for most personal items). Goes on sale periodically at eBags.

      Reply
    9. Tort-ally HareBrained

      My husband and I both like Ohio bags. We each have a backpack and I have a tote and he has a messenger (we may have a problem). I like that they store a lot but don’t look too bulky. The women’s also have light colored liners, which makes it so much easier to find things!

      Reply
    10. Seeking Second Childhood

      I am using the one I bought for my middleschooler after her grandmother bought her a different one without checking if she needed it. It’s a Jansport, designed for lots of books so I’m using it for laptop and things I use at home AND work like my hearing protection headphones.

      Reply
    11. TPS Cover Sheet

      Vote for Victorinox backpacks here. I bought one almost accidentally as it was on sale marked down as the last display item… waterproof (which is very important in my climate) and its robust. On the other hand Dell makes pretty good but boring bags, I got a laptop case from them aeons back and its still in top condition despite being tossed around for… ummm… 20 years…

      Reply
    12. Jasnah

      Mine is called “Kroser” but it’s a “doctor bag” (the kind with the wire-frame opening so you can open it up and dig inside) and has laptop sleeves, inner pockets, and tons of space. Comes in black but has a colorful interior so it feels fun and workplace appropriate. Picked it up on Amazon and ships to US or overseas, there were lots of similar options!

      Reply
    13. lulu mango

      I really like my Thule (same brand as the car carriers), that I got from Best Buy. It’s a great travel bag as well, lots of pockets, and comfortable to bike with or walk.

      Reply
  31. Coffee Bean

    This is hard to say without knowing more about you, the dynamics, the circumstances, etc.
    But below are some things I do to try and have people listen:
    – Be confident! You want to show that you believe and are sure of what you are saying, so stand up straight, don’t cross your arms, speak calmly (does not necessarily need to be loud, but do your best to not let your voice shake), and trust yourself. Also, make sure that when you speak you are not saying “I think”, “in my opinion”, “I could be wrong”, etc. just say your statements without those.
    – Show that you are listening to them when they speak. Nod along, smile, ask questions on what they are saying.
    – Sit in the center of the table or conference room, this puts you in the middle of the conversation flow
    – If you are having trouble jumping into conversations in meetings, first restate what they said, this shows you have heard them and they will listen to you. “If I heard you correctly, you said X. This may impact Y and Z, how about we consider B”
    – Don’t let yourself be interrupted. If someone tries to cut you off in business meetings just take the floor back. “I wanted to finish my thought before we moved forward” or something along those lines.

    Confidence is my biggest suggestion. You are capable and your thoughts and opinions at work matter, so say them.

    Reply
  32. The Man, Becky Lynch

    If our friend who introduced us all to the sloth pencil case is around, I just removed my 4th of July decorations from my office and replaced them with sloth themed window clings. So if your dad is still giving you some lowkey sh*t about your taste in supplies, you can keep that in mind as you do whatever the ef you want ;)

    Reply
    1. Bunny Girl

      Yeah my old office was decorated in Star Wars stuff. I made Star Wars themed snowflakes for Christmas and someone bought me a pack of Kleenex boxes that were Star Wars themed when Force Awakens came out. Age is just a number and unless your office is super strict, I don’t think anyone cares.

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I wouldn’t survive let alone thrive in a strict office structure.

        I also bring in snacks with child’s birthday themes at times because I love cute things. My go to is “My original life plan was to be a teacher, I won’t be changing so eat the snacks or don’t!”

        Reply
    2. Bostonian

      Niiiice! I remember that OP. I currently have a sloth as my desktop background (I’m not much of a decorator).

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I instantly formed a soft spot for that OP given my general love for cute things.

        We have zero office decor because we’re in between spaces and we’re like “Why if we’re gonna move…” so I started doing these holiday/seasonal decorations to at least bring something to the beige we’re surrounded by.

        When we move, I’ll adult and put up tasteful professional prints. Most likely of robots or cool machinery or something generally mechanical. Possibly a sloth flying a spaceship if someone doesn’t tug my leash at the right time ;)

        Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      My aesthetic is less “cute” and more “office goth”, but 100% in agreement on the whole “having a personality at work doesn’t make you weird or unemployable” thing. Do what makes you happy.

      (I have a purple glass skull-shaped candy dish next to a little sign with a witch’s hat saying “Come in, my pretties!”, a goth/fantasy art calendar on my wall [the tasteful kind, not Luis Royo or Boris Vallejo! Everyone is fully clothed.], and a black glitter skull with LED lights in the eyeholes on my desk. Even my Tasteful Grownup Wall Art is landscape photos of misty forests and foggy beaches.)

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Mine skews cute but I also have a lot of wrestling things entwined, so sometimes people don’t know what to make of things I have up my sleeve.

        It’s just kind of like nobody knows what music is going to be playing when they enter my office. In the AM it may be some horrible 90s country, then they’ll come back to say goodnight and it’s Ice Cube or some random pop punk band from 2004. I’m a poster child for “just when you think I’ve ran out of surprises, BOOM gotcha again.”

        My cat is black and therefore there are a lot of black cat things in my life, so that gets a lot of attention. When I move offices, I’m getting more cat art *_*

        Reply
  33. A Simple Narwhal

    I just got married and I’m looking into adding my husband to my insurance, and I’m frustrated to find that adding him would at least triple my costs! Is this normal or was I naive to think it wouldn’t cost that much? The insurance at my company is way better than the referral-based, high-deductible insurance his company offers, but I’m trying to determine if it’s worth it to add him now since he’s pretty much met his deductible for this year already.

    [Shakes fist at employer-based insurance system]

    Reply
    1. Reba

      Yeah, that’s… yeah. IME the additional insureds are always much more costly than the employee. I’m in a similar boat, and it’s hard to comparison shop with the totally different styles of insurance product.

      Reply
    2. NicoleK

      If he’s already met his deductible, seems to me he should stay on his plan for now. Come open enrollment, you can re-evaluate the situation.

      Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        This is a good point! I glossed over that he’d almost met his deductible.

        However look at when his plan re-sets. It’s not always Jan-Dec. Ours resets mid year, so if his resets in August or something like that and you’re going to miss this “life change” ability to add him, that’s something to take into consideration as well. You only have a month to add a new spouse for our plan, then if you forego it you have to wait until open enrollment which would be almost a full year away.

        Reply
        1. Half-Caf Latte

          Question for you about this. TL;DR is that I’ve been told that a spouse dropping their employer coverage at their open enrollment becomes a “qualifying event” that would theoretically allow me to add them. Is that true?

          Long version:
          Spouse and I are currently on our respective employer’s plans, and I carry the espresso shots on mine, as it’s the cheapest configuration for us by literal thousands of dollars.

          So far, it’s worked out every year, but since we have similar plan years but different open enrollment periods, we can’t actually comparison shop, just review last years calculations and hope that they’ll be similar. Typically, my open enrollment is early May for a July 1 benefit year, and his is mid-June. I’ve been told verbally but no one will put in writing that if he declined his employer coverage one year, he could come on mine as the loss of coverage 6/30 would be a qualifying event. It seems like it wouldn’t work the other way –> I couldn’t pick up his after the fact and then ask to drop mine a month after enrolling.

          So the question- how does all this work?

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            The qualifying event is losing *eligibility* for other coverage. Voluntarily dropping coverage that he remains eligible for doesn’t trigger a special enrollment period.

            Reply
          2. The Man, Becky Lynch

            This spans two plans, so I would check with your plan administrator for the advice on this one to make sure you’re in the clear. Insurance programs can read regulations differently or just be dicey AF. My gut tells me that him choosing to not enroll isn’t a qualifying event. A qualifying event tends to be legal [marriage/divorce/birth] or an event that you don’t have any control over, such as termination of benefits by an employer or due to termination of the employment. Otherwise everything is lumped into “wait until open enrollment to make these changes”.

            What he should do is wait until your open enrollment to switch and then drop his. Since open enrollment isn’t subjected to the “qualifying event” stipulation. He should be able to drop out and sign a waiver of benefits at that time without having to wait because canceling has less “rules” attached than adding someone on.

            Reply
          3. Half-Caf Latte

            Thanks, Natalie and The Man, Becky Lynch.

            Also, add this to the reasons employer-based healthcare is dumb.

            Reply
            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              I was on the federal marketplace for years, so it’s all ugly. Insurance is dumb and I hate it’s collective overcharging face, so naturally they’d put me in the spot with dealing with the administration of it.

              Reply
    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      As a benefits administrator, I’m sad to say that this is absolutely on par with all insurance companies.

      They already have astronomical rates for women’s insurance plans because we’re seen as high-risks because we’re seen as possibly having 97 babies in our lifetime.

      I have zero people put their spouses on their plans because it’s cheaper to get a plan through the state marketplace.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I don’t know if this still holds but I think it used to be life insurance companies dropped life expectancy with the more kids a woman had. But health insurance is higher???
        Sounds like reasons to explain greed, in my books.

        Reply
    4. Not Maeby But Surely

      Normal for my workplace’s health plan. I think my cost went from $300 per pay period to add my husband. I was as shocked as you are at the difference in cost.

      Reply
      1. Not Maeby But Surely

        Weird, my comment was supposed to say the cost went from “under 100 per pay period to insure just me, to over 300 to add my spouse to the plan.”

        Reply
    5. Not Me

      It’s pretty common I’m afraid, I haven’t seen triple the cost for just a spouse (as opposed to spouse+kids), but yeah, it’s a lot.

      If he’s already met his deductible for this year it sounds like it would be worth it to take a reaaally good look at the cost difference for the rest of this year before making the change. Do either of your companies offer HSAs? Sometimes those high deductible plans with an HSA can be more cost effective. It definitely takes some math, research, and a very good understanding of your needs to figure out.

      Congratulations on your wedding!

      Reply
    6. NewReadingGlasses

      A lot of companies have only either “single”or “family” plans, and the family option costs are assuming you’ll have kids on it as well. Maybe that’s the case at your company? My spouse and I are insured separately by our separate employers because it’s slightly less expensive that way (and because they are stupid about us having different last names, but that is a side issue).

      Reply
    7. That Girl From Quinn's House

      It depends on how the employer allocates the cost. I’ve worked some places where the cost was even, ex: 100/month for Employee, 100/month to add spouse; some places where the cost is weighted, ex: 50/month for employee, 100/month for spouse, and some where the cost is almost full price, ex: 0/month for employee, 300/month for spouse.

      Reply
    8. AndersonDarling

      Yep. Employers cover a lot of the employee’s premium, but not for the add-ons. Increasing the cost x3 sounds about right. Your employer wants your spouse covered by their employer. Kids usually have a lower premium than the spouse.

      Reply
    9. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

      Mine from my job was like this, the plans are: “single” and “2 to infinity” so if you’re 2, you kinda get screwed.

      Reply
    10. I hate the offseason.

      Where I work, you used to only be able to sign up for single person insurance or “family” insurance, which covers you, the spouse, and kids – not available is just adding one person. It is cheaper for me and my husband to have separate single insurance than to do the family thing. Although I think they have added a “self plus one” level recently.

      Reply
    11. Booksalot

      My work has “you alone” or “you plus infinity” rates, which I hear is common. Same price for me and my spouse as it would be to cover twelve children.

      One additional wrinkle is that it’s very common to require the spouse to be covered by their own job, so I had to provide dispensation from the pope to prove to my HR that my spouse was not able to get coverage anywhere else. It sounds like that isn’t the case for you, so despite the large cost, you do have a bit more flexibility than some.

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Yes, my company has a surcharge of $50 per pay period ($1300 a year), on top of the higher premium, to cover a spouse who is eligible for coverage through their own employer.

        Reply
    12. animaniactoo

      If you’re in the U.S., your employer is required to allow you to put your spouse on your insurance plan. What they’re not required to do is cover the half of the premium that they do for you. So the reason that it triples is that the company is paying for half of yours and none of your spouse’s. My company does this too and it’s fairly sucky imo. However, it is also becoming standard in the “let’s save the company some money” perspective across the workworld, so yes, you should expect to see that anywhere and be thrilled if you find somewhere that it’s not true. I’m not sure if kids are required to be paid for on that half the premium thing or just that most employers see it as smart business to not alienate the employees on that front since kids are usually rolled in from what I’ve seen.

      As far as whether it makes sense for him to switch now – when is your next open enrollment period and when is his? If yours comes before his, switch him then. If his comes before yours, evaluate how long that gap would be and whether he could be okay not being covered for it. If that would not be a good risk for you, then go ahead and switch him now.

      Reply
    13. Combinatorialist

      While it seems like this is common, this isn’t universal. I’m getting married soon and just went to look up our premium options for adding my soon to be husband. My premiums are X for me, 2X+10 for me and him, 2X-30 for me and my (currently non-existent) children, and 3X for me, my husband, and our currently non-existent children. X is determined by your salary (so if you make more money, you pay more)

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yeah, my company pays 83% of our premiums and has an Employee Only, Employer + Child(ren), Employee + Spouse/Partner, and Employee + Family option. The Employee + Spouse option is only $71 more per pay period than the Employee Only option, but it is cheaper to do Employee + Child(ren) (but not that much cheaper).

        Reply
    14. CupcakeCounter

      That is how it is at my company – luckily we have Employee, Employee +1, and Family plans so we can stagger the increases. Many companies also have a “spousal surcharge” if your SO has the ability to be covered under their own plan. Hubs had been on mine for years until that came about and that cost was about $120/month in addition to the higher +1 rate.

      Reply
      1. A Simple Narwhal

        My company does offer Employee, Employee+1, and Family plans, and the Family one is five times as expensive as just an employee! I guess that’s good if you have twelve kids, but it’s nuts to think how expensive adding a baby would be.

        I appreciate everyone’s advice/commiseration, I think we’ll continue to let husband stay on his own plan for the remainder of the year and then add him once it’s time to re-up.

        Reply
        1. ..Kat..

          Don’t forget to check for insurance for him that is offered by an outside company, I.e., insurance not offered through your employers.

          Reply
    15. RDR2 Ecologist

      Unfortunately it is becoming much more common, but it depends on your employer. If you are in one of those plans where it’s individual or family and that’s it, then yeah the premiums you pay as a couple equals that of a family with 4 kids. It’s pretty irritating!

      Add on to that the fact that organizations in my area are starting to add a spousal surcharge (meaning if your spouse can take other insurance and you put them on their plan, it doesn’t matter if the other plan is worse or not, they are adding on hundreds extra in costs to do that).

      Then you have a high deductible, co-pays, co-insurance, and out of pocket maximum’s creeping up across almost all private plans too.

      For the last 2 years all of my raise has been eaten by health insurance cost increases.

      Reply
      1. Half-Caf Latte

        I worked somewhere where rather than a spousal surcharge for insurance, they just stopped allowing spouses who had “access” to insurance through their job to be covered on our plan, period. Didn’t matter if the other job’s plan was garbage, unaffordable, whatever.

        Reply
        1. Fortitude Jones

          I worked at a company (insurance ironically, though not health) that did the same thing. And then my mom’s insurance through her company (another insurance company that does life and health) started requiring her to prove every year that my brother was her kid until he was 26 and could be kicked off. She had to send them copies of his birth certificate, an explanation for why his last name was different than hers, proof that she had primary custody of him, etc. – this really pissed her off because a) they knew all this stuff already since she worked there and b) they kept asking for the same crap EVERY YEAR.

          Reply
    16. Jadelyn

      Yeah, that’s pretty normal. I have employee-only coverage right now, it’s about $30 a paycheck. Employee+spouse would be $180 a paycheck. Employee+family (so, also adding kids) is $240 a paycheck.

      In general, the biggest reason for the huge jump is that most employers subsidize some amount of premium cost for their employees, but subsidize a lesser portion (or none) of the premium for dependents. My company does 90/60, I think. My premium is subsidized 90% so I’m only paying 10%, but I’d have to pay 40% of a higher premium for my partner, which results in that huge jump in costs.

      Reply
    17. fhqwhgads

      It’s pretty common? What I usually find is the company pays some % of the actual cost of the plan (in my case company pays 75%, employee pays 25%). But for spouses and dependents (again using example of places I’ve worked, not saying this is universal), you pay 100% for the not-you people and the benefit if just that the plan is available to not only you but them also. There is usually a “family” discount in the sense that adding child+spouse or children+spouse is less per-additional-person than just spouse. But depending on what proportion your company is paying for the You part of the premium and if they’re paying anything at all for the spouse part, the multiple you mentioned is not surprising at all.

      Reply
  34. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in my post last week. In the end I talked with Annoying Coworkers’ team leader, and even though he didn’t take it seriously at first (“you know he’s like that, he doesn’t grow up”) his opinion changed when I told him that someone less permissive than me would threaten to sue for sexual discrimination. Apparently someone had a serious talk with him, since the following day he sulked and refused to say hello to me.

    On the other hand, yesterday we found out that someone left a negative review of our company in our local Glassdoor equivalent. It’s harsh, caustic… and 100% true. We don’t know whether the owners are aware of it, and we fear they may try to hunt down its author.

    Reply
      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

        Thanks! I suspect they’ll “forget” to invite me to every after office after this, but well, someone had to do it.

        Reply
    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      I had missed that last week…what a nightmare! Good for you for getting it shut down.

      Reply
  35. Ad Biz Q / Changing Fields

    tl:dr: Any tips for breaking into the advertising industry with almost no experience?

    Hi All, Happy Friday.

    I graduated from college in 2008 with a Journalism BA, but could never break into that field due to a combination of the recession/industry exploding from print to digital/super-high competition for jobs (I studied magazine journalism). So, I’ve been working as an admin since 2010. The job is ok, but I want something different, and more challenging. I’m not that interested in moving up an executive admin role; I’d prefer to switch gears to something more engaging.

    I know I can write, and I have experience from college work (school newspaper) and limited freelancing. So, I’ve been considering trying to get a job as an advertising copywriter. I have writing samples of articles, but I haven’t done much ad copywriting writing at all — with the exception of some very basic marketing stuff (emails and social media posts) I’ve done over the years at my small firm.

    I would like to use my creativity in a job. I got mostly A’s in Journalism school (but my overall GPA wasn’t good, due to math/science/etc.). By the way, I’m in a mid-size city in the Midwest.

    Can anyone with ad biz experience weigh in?

    Would this be an impossible move?

    Reply
    1. quirkypants

      Definitely not impossible but most will struggle to evaluate your ad copywriting skills with articles as the samples. The style of writing is so very different.

      Copywriting in advertising is typically more than just good writing, it’s also about creative ideas, being brief and direct, finding ways to inspire people to buy this or do that, etc.

      This is something I’d never thought I’d ever post but have you watched Mad Men? Many true ad agencies still have brainstorming sessions where all creatives (including writers) gather and brainstorm ideas for campaigns. Others will give you a creative brief and all you to write whatever they need.

      My main suggestions is to take a course or certificate in advertising copywriting and to try to find small businesses who are willing to take a chance on you to start to build your portfolio.

      Many copywriters specialize in one type of writing or another, it’s actually pretty hard to be very good at all types of writing.

      I worked in ad agencies for almost 10 years, currently hire and work with ad agencies, and have many copywriting friends. Feel free to ask more questions and I’m happy to share my perspective for whatever it’s worth.

      Reply
    2. Bunny Girl

      Would you be open to working as an account executive in film or radio? I am from a mid-sized Midwestern city and I used to work in admin at a T.V. station in the advertising department and worked with a lot of account executives who had a wide variety of backgrounds. It might not be right in line with what you want to do (it’s basically sales) but there is a lot of transferring from within and it would give you more experience in an advertising department, which would be helpful when you moved on.

      Reply
      1. Ad Biz Q / Changing Fields

        Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll consider it. Part of the reason I want to change jobs is to earn more, and I’m sure I’d make more doing that. I think it would be interesting to work in the media industry, even if it’s doing something like sales.

        Reply
        1. quirkypants

          Every place and every role is different but I wouldn’t expect an entry level position in marketing to pay that much higher than your current admin role but the upside is almost certainly greater down the road.

          Entry level account roles are probably in the 38-45 range here while admin roles with a few years of experience are probably 35k ish. I’m out of step with entry level copywriting salaries in my area but it’s probably similar ballpark to entry level account roles.

          That said, down the line you can expect to earn a lot more!

          Reply
        2. Fortitude Jones

          Have you considered doing proposal writing? I ask because you and I have very similar educational backgrounds and we’re both in mid-size cities in the Midwest. It’s going to be very hard for you to break into copywriting without experience, but proposals (basically sales writing) will be a lot easier to get into for someone who went to J school and has strong writing skills. Even your admin skills can transfer over pretty well – you’ll be aces at meeting tight deadlines and managing the schedules of others.

          Proposal writing/managing gigs out in the Midwest also start out at a higher salary than your typical admin role, and if you work at a lower paying job for a year or so, you may be able to do what I did and get a nearly 27% salary increase someplace else. Additionally, proposal development is very creative, and if you have any kind of design skills at all, business development teams will love you.

          Reply
  36. ConfoundedbyPeopleTalkingtoMeBeforeCoffee

    Curious, do most people prefer to use their own personal cell phone for work if the employer is paying for the plan? Or do people ask the company to provide a work phone and carry 2 phones? I am at a new work place where they want people to be able to access e-mail and phone if on vacation and so they typically port an employee’s personal phone onto the employer service provider but I came from a government job where there were constant lay-offs so it was always better to keep personal from work phone. Now my friends are telling me that I should just allow the company to port my plan and that way I don’t have to pay for cell phone plan (in Canada so cell phone plans are expensive) and that no one carries two work phones anymore.

    Reply
    1. Tigger

      The way that my work (and everyone that I can think of) handles this is that they have you turn in an expense report every month, then cuts you a check for the amount. Can you ask them to do it that way if you already have the same service provider? If not I would ask for the 2 phones to keep that separation for legal reasons.

      Reply
    2. NicoleK

      At my work, either options are available to me. I carry my personal cell phone and the work cell phone. I prefer to keep my personal and work separate.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Same. My company offered to take over my current cell phone bill or give me $75/month to cover my phone, but I chose to just get a company provided phone instead. It’s a pain having one massive iPhone and my little older model, but IT has the ability to wipe any phones that connect to our intranet via VPN, so I was not risking them accidentally remote wiping my personal phone.

        Reply
    3. Potato Girl

      Nope nope nope nope nope. I don’t live the PG-rated lifestyle, I don’t need my personal text messages becoming company property, and I -really- don’t need my employer having too much information about what makes me tick as a person. Two phones for me. I forward voice calls from the work phone to my personal phone, and I tell people that calling is much better than texting.

      Reply
      1. SarahKay

        This! Work introduced the option for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for phones, which I was tempted by as I don’t have a work phone, and my role doesn’t need one enough for it to be mandatory that I have one. I figured it would be useful to be able to check my emails from my phone – and then I read the terms and conditions.
        Basically, work reserves the right to brick my phone if they decide it’s necessary, or to take it if any legal stuff comes up and a whole load of other stuff.
        Reading the T&C’s, I was going “Nope”, “Nope”, “NOPE!”, and finally “Oh, HELL NO!” .
        If I ever decide I really do need a work phone I will carry two phones.

        Reply
      2. Buttons

        THIS ^^^ I refuse to have any work related things on my personal cell phone and they are certainly not getting my information. Nope.

        Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      I was at a place where I received a reimbursement every month for using my phone, but I had to download a TON of apps. I had no idea it would be such a commitment. They changed their mind every other month on security so I was adding new apps and loading up my memory. If I have to do it again, I will get a second phone for work.

      Reply
    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I would keep them separate.

      Most people comingle their work/personal life phones because they don’t understand what can happen in the event that they decide to wipe your phone if you’re terminated. That also gives them access to personal information if the company ever comes under lawsuit, since it has company data on it. I just wouldn’t.

      I’m flinching at the fact they want this setup because it’s to keep you tied to email on vacation. Since my experience is if you have a company phone, you leave that in a drawer on your way to the beach.

      Reply
    6. dealing with dragons

      I still opt for two phones since I don’t want the company to have any right to my personal phone. My company has discount for cell service either way; the discount is a perk.

      Reply
      1. CoolInTheShade

        Yes, when I first started hearing about BYOD, my blood ran cold. I can’t believe it’s becoming the norm.

        Reply
    7. Emily S.

      At my company, lower-level people use their personal phone and get partial reimbursement for their bills. But the managers and the sales team do get company phones, separate from their work phones. So it’s a mix.

      They have done surveys that showed the people who used their own phones preferred it that way — not having to deal with two phones.

      Reply
    8. Shark Whisperer

      I opted to get a separate phone. Part of my reasoning was that I deal with a lot of clients and I was warned that some of them don’t have good boundaries. I like being able to turn off my work phone when I am done with work so that clients cannot possible bother me in my off hours

      Reply
    9. RDR2 Ecologist

      I use 2 phones.
      1) Many employers sneak “remote wipe/monitor” apps on your phone to insure you don’t “steal” their business or whatever. But that captures all your personal stuff too.
      2) There is so much personal information on my cell phone, bank cards, ovulation charts, pictures, you name it that I don’t even connect to the company’s wireless on it (where they can monitor a fair bit of traffic including steal your credit cards which has happened to my FIL while he paid bills from work)
      3) With companies like Cricket out there having a phone with unlimited talk, text, and data is pretty cheap.

      Reply
    10. Catsaber

      I would prefer the option of having 2 phones if my employer wanted me to do significant work on my phone. I don’t mind checking my email, but I don’t want anything more than that, especially if it requires remote wipe or something like that for data security. I also don’t want my own phone being on someone else’s plan, just in case they decided to yank it, or there’s a mix-up, and I’m suddenly stranded without a phone.

      I work in IT so I monitor my email after hours in case of job failures (I support data warehouses) but if I see something that needs my attention, I pull out the work computer.

      Reply
    11. CoolInTheShade

      I like having two phones. Having one means I have access to my work emails, calls, and voicemails at all times. And I have no self control, therefore I’m always “on call.” Having the second phone allows me to shove the phone away when I need to focus on personal life and keep work from creeping in.

      Reply
      1. CoolInTheShade

        To clarify: plenty of people at my US Based company have 2 phones. It may be different in Canada.

        Reply
    12. ConfoundedbyPeopleTalkingtoMeBeforeCoffee

      Thank you everyone, I think I will ask for a second first especially since it’s a small company who tends to outsource all IT/phone management. I don’t want my personal data to be at the mercy of a third party.

      Reply
  37. SophieChotek

    Hi, I forgot now which thread/comment made me think of this situation but managers I am curious on your take on this.

    I work (part-time) at a coffee shop. I came in a few months ago and saw a big sign “you must take your tips home at the end of every shift.” (We have plastic drawers with our names on them and we often store our tips – especially all the lose change in the drawers and tend to empty when full/when we feel like it.) I asked a co-worker what happened and she told me “someone stole all the tips, but we don’t know who.” (It was pretty much down to a) a co-worker, b) delivery person or maintenance person, c) customer who slipped in and out really quickly during a big rush when everyone was up front working.

    Just last week I randomly commented to a co-worker (Barb), “well, at least the tip thief never struck again. I wonder who it was?” Co-worker (Barb) told me that the manager (Anne) told her that another co-worker (Dot) had stolen the tips.

    1) Seems unprofessional to me that Anne told Barb that Dot stole the tips
    especially since
    2) Dot still work with us and as far as I know never re-paid the tips or apologized
    or
    3) Barb is lying (why I don’t know) or Anne is lying (???) or Barb misunderstood what Anne said
    4) Anne has history of talking badly about her employees to other employees
    5) Dot has had a lot of problems lately (restraining order against ex)

    Guess I’m just curious. Should Dot have been fired? (If she really is the thief.)

    Reply
    1. Bunny Girl

      I would think for Dot to be fired, there would have to be more strong evidence than just work gossip. Someone would have had to have physically seen her, or caught her on camera stealing the tips. Although if one of your managers was the one telling people that Dot was stealing, I wonder what her basis is for thinking that.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Yeah, that is kind of my question to.

        Like did Anne go back and watch the security cameras (we have them in the backroom) and therefore knows it is “Dot”…

        Reply
        1. ..Kat..

          They have camera evidence? If it can be shown it was Dot, paying back the money should be a condition of keeping her job. If they cannot show it was Dot, the manager should not be saying this. But, if they have proof, why didn’t they file a complaint with the police and fire her?

          Reply
    2. Policy Wonk

      Something like this happened at a place I worked years ago, stuff from desks, not tips, but the same idea. The rumors went around that “Dot” stole the items and people avoided her, were nasty, demanded she be fired, etc. Then it was discovered that the stuff was stolen by a maintenance person who had access to the offices when no one was around. (If I remember correctly, some of the stolen items fell out of his backpack as he was leaving one night.) No one ever apologized to Dot. Please don’t assume it’s her based on the rumors – it probably isn’t.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Thanks for the reminder – don’t assume.

        To be honest as far as I can tell, everyone is still perfectly nice and friendly to “Dot” so that was part of the reason I was so surprised that “Barb” said “Anne” said it was “Dot.” My impression (?) is that “Barb” isn’t running around telling everyone, she only said something to me cause I asked/noticed no one seems worried about leaving their tips in their drawers anymore.

        Reply
        1. valentine

          Did the shop replace the tips or did you not lose any? You don’t seem concerned about someone stealing from you. I’m astounded anyone, but certainly so many people, are this trusting. I assumed the drawers were locked.

          Whoever did it should be fired, except Dot, if she did it to escape her ex. (Like the bank employee who ruined her colleague’s life so she could report her husband/their colleague to the responding officers.)

          Reply
          1. Jasnah

            What? If Dot stole she should be fired. It doesn’t make it OK just because she had a really good reason.

            Reply
    3. Autumnheart

      A manager is telling employees that an employee stole the tips, yet the employee still works there? The “problem employee” with the tumultuous personal life, even? I’ll bet $10 the manager stole the tips. Not to be the cynical jerkwad of the group, but the one time I worked in a tipping position where we had a tip theft problem, the manager was stealing the tips and making it out like *we* were the ones being careless/stealing.

      Get a zipper bag that you can clip to a belt loop or something with a carabiner, store your tips in there, take them home every night.

      Reply
    4. June First

      Question since it’s been a while since I worked in food service:
      If you’re keeping loose change in a drawer and just emptying it when full, how would you determine the amount the thief needed to repay? Are you otherwise tracking it?

      Reply
  38. Errol

    I’ve always wondered this, but how bad is it to not be able to meet the window of someone who wants to interview you?

    This has happened before and usually I can make it work within the same week but today I got a call for an interview next week and I am out of town all of next week. I offered to phone in or come in the following week so if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, but I’ve always wondered how that seems on the hiring side. Opinions?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      For me it’s not an emotional thing but a practical one. Sometimes if you can’t make the window we don’t have other options, and we’re sorry but we’ll have go forward without you. If we have other options then it’s fine and we wouldn’t factor a scheduling clash into the decision.

      Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It depends on the position and how interested we’re in the candidate. If they are screaming off the page as “This one is a unicorn, snatch it any way you can.” then we’d make it happen and just push the interview out until you can make it [well not if it’s like a month out but if it’s another week, sure.]

      But if we hare swamped with solid applicants and you’re just a “looks good, let’s look further into this person.” then we would cut the loss with a “Oh I’m sorry, we are wrapping up this stage before you’ll be available, thank you for your interest, we’re parting ways now.”

      But we always do a phone interview first, so we would have already talked to you and gotten a bit more of a vibe, which is a lot easier to make the decision to wait for you to be available or not.

      Reply
    3. Policy Wonk

      We often have a schedule to complete various steps of the process. We try to interview all candidates in the same time frame. If letting one slide until the next week is still within our deadline it’s no big deal. If we had no trouble contacting you, and you asked to interview in week x+1 instead of week x, it’s fine. If it took you a week to get back to us, so we are now looking at week x+2, it might put us in a situation where we have to request an extension of the time to complete the process. Unless the other applicants appear to be significantly less qualified, we would probably not seek an extension. Hope this helps.

      Reply
    4. Booksalot

      Read this as “how bad is it to not be able to meet the widow of someone who wants to interview you?” and was worried you were going to be consumed by the interviewing undead. OMG, it’s time to go home.

      Reply
  39. Woe in HR

    A quick question on if something deserves a response.

    I work in HR for a global company. I basically just handle the US employees as that is about 75% of our employee base and also because laws are different elsewhere, so we use external resources as needed. One of our locations is laying off a few people. I knew the layoffs were happening generally, but I did not know any details. Our other locations are hiring right now. I sent out an email per the CEO’s request with introductions of all of our new hires with a generally cheery tone. The manager at the location with the layoffs politely requested that I not send future emails of that sort to the employees that are being laid off and CC’d the CEO who concurred. Now, I think that the manager and the CEO are under the impression that I have more details of the layoffs than I do.

    Do I respond and mention that I had no idea who was being laid off and that I didn’t even realize they were still working there? Or just follow their instructions and leave it alone?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Oh, ouch. This is somebody other than you putting their foot in it. It sounds like you’re in regular communication with the CEO–could you check with them and say “I haven’t actually been informed of where layoffs are happening. What’s a way to make sure I have this information before sending future emails of this type?”

      Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Talk with the CEO about it, since you were following their directions! Leave the manager out of it and respond to the CEO about how you were following instructions and aren’t privy to all the layoff information.

      Also I’m confused. This was an email introducing the new folks? And because some people are being laid off you need to suddenly not be “cheery” during the introduction? That’s going to be worse in the long run for everyone. Now everyone is doom and gloom, even in the expanding departments. Bad vibes, man.

      Reply
      1. Not Me

        I agree with this, and, if they haven’t been notified of the layoffs yet but are starting to be excluded from communications that is really bad management. That will get out and the next time someone is excluded from similar emails they’ll start to think they’re next on the block. It’s just bad all around. Hopefully I’m just misunderstanding the sequence of events here.

        Reply
      2. tetsal

        I was under the impression that the email was a listserv like “everyone_in_X_position@company.com,” where the laid off employees are still receiving emails? I am not sure, but I thought the manager objected that laid off employees had to see the emails for new employees at these other locations when they are being laid off at theirs.

        Reply
      3. Jasnah

        My understanding is people have been told they’re being laid off and given the “times are tight” schpiel, and then here comes a cheery email welcoming new hires. So the employees think “so you can’t afford to keep me but you can afford to hire them?” and it’s not a good look.

        Reply
    3. animaniactoo

      Hmmm. It may be the manager thinks you have more details and the CEO knows you don’t, but does agree that this was an oops that the company and not you specifically needs to be more on top of making sure doesn’t happen.

      Towards that, I think the thing to do would simply to be to reply back and say “With apologies, I was not aware that the layoff plans were finalized. I will update our process for sending out things like this to try and catch that in the future.” and then separately send email the CEO to say “For any future communications can you please be sure to also share a list with me of which employees should not receive them? I will double check before sending, but would like it to be on both of our radar to double down on preventing a recurrence of this.”

      Reply
    4. Woe in HR

      Thanks everyone! I definitely felt like hiding under my desk for the rest of day when I first saw the note.

      Solution: CEO just dropped by and invited me to a meeting to update our org charts this afternoon. So I think I’ll get a little more guidance then.

      The employees know they are being laid off and their final date, but I don’t have that information. I think it’s fine to keep it cheery when I send out one for next month, but rather just leave those employees off the distribution list.

      Reply
    5. Buttons

      How is HR not involved in layoffs/restructuring? Or did you mean just your position? One of our companies is going through a big restructuring and there will be hundreds of people laid off. I am heavily involved in the change management aspect of it, but your SRVP of HR gives weekly updates on what is happening, which departments are being worked on now, the number of people who are being laid off, and once the people have been identified we get an updated list of the employees and when their termination date is.

      Reply
      1. Woe in HR

        Tiny organization comparatively. Only 2 individuals are being laid off – which can still make a big impact when it’s 2% of the company! They are in the UK and the external consultant is handling the process. Also, there are obviously some communication lags due to a number of factors.

        Reply
        1. valentine

          If it was an all-staff or the like, the manager is being too sensitive and the way to spare their employees was to ask you to remove them from the list, especially if your email was obviously sent on the CEO’s behalf. (Which is a weird norm, but whatev.)

          Reply
  40. romanatty

    I’m currently applying to jobs right out of college and I’ve been sending applications on and off since May. I have not heard back from any of them yet, but the job posting hasn’t gone away. I’m getting very anxious about whether I’ve been rejected or whether I should wait a little longer. The jobs I’ve started to apply to are a few entry level jobs for my desired career and I don’t know how long they take to go through applications and call back. How long should I wait before I call it a loss?

    Also, I keep getting mixed messages about applying to the same place more than once if its to a different position. Is it acceptable?

    Reply
    1. MsM

      Unless the posting said “absolutely no contact under any circumstances,” one email reasserting your interest and politely asking if there’s any way they can provide a status update probably isn’t going to hurt your chances. But I would assume that you’re probably not going to hear back from them and treat it as a pleasant surprise if you do.

      As for applying to the same place, if you think your skillset matches both jobs and you can make a case for why you’re interested in both of them, you’ll probably be fine. If it looks like you’re just spamming in the hopes they’ll call you back for anything, or like you don’t have a solid sense of what your strengths and capabilities are (e.g. applying for a high-level position alongside entry-level stuff), then you might be putting yourself in a bad spot.

      Reply
    2. animaniactoo

      You can apply for 2 positions at the same place only IF both of them are a strong match for your skillset/career path. If it’s a really large company, you can potentially apply for a 3rd. The other loophole is if it’s a question of the same or similar position at multiple locations – in which case it’s fine to apply to each location when they are all handling hiring separately.

      Reply
    3. A Simple Narwhal

      Honestly the best thing you can do for yourself mentally is to hit apply and then move on. I know that awful feeling of waiting for them to respond, so when job hunting it’s better to “forget” about a job after you throw your hat in the ring and keep applying for new ones. Job hunting sucks, and hunting for your first job out of college is a special kind of hell, so best of luck to you!

      And in my experience if someone is interested in contacting you about a job, you’ll hear back within a week, two at the most. I know my experience isn’t universal, but any time past that and the silence essentially means no.

      Seconding everything MsM and animaniactoo said as well.

      Reply
  41. Lunavesca

    I always see references to weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings with managers on this site, both in the questions & answers and in the comments. I’ve been at the same small company since college, about 12 years now, and I can’t remember ever having a meeting like this. I don’t even know which person in the company I would be having such a meeting with – there are about four people that could potentially qualify, including the company’s owner. We’ve only got about 10 employees so that’s like 1/3 of the company.

    I’m not even sure what would happen in these meetings. I would guess that it is a check-in on your own behavior/progress/etc.? Would it also be meant to be a place to discuss any issues that you have been having with things that employees in a level above you are doing that negatively affects you, or company processes that you think need to be changed? I have a lot of these and I don’t feel like I have anywhere to go with them – I used to address them directly with people when they came to mind but that seems like it may have not been considered acceptable, and I have been explicitly told that my review is meant for the company to review ME and not vice-versa.

    We only started doing structured annual reviews maybe 4-5 years ago, and those were always just some variation of “good job, keep going”. In my last review, I was totally blindsided by a list of complaints that have apparently been issues for years, but were never brought up. I got no specific examples (even when requested) and the review is the only time that these things are ever discussed. I still don’t really understand 80% of what I did that was considered wrong. I got a formal apology from the company owner for the review essentially being handled wrong, but it’s still weighing on my nearly a year later.

    I know that what the ideal management tactics are and what actually happens day-to-day in companies can differ, especially in smaller companies like this one that don’t have a big corporate structure – but to what extent is my company off from the norm? Other than a project manager telling me which tasks I should do, by when, and in what order, what sort of “management” is there that I should be receiving? I am starting to get the feeling that my company is very, very screwed up in this regard.

    Reply
    1. dealing with dragons

      my previous company (large) did quarterly check ins with 1:1s scheduled at you and your manager’s discretion. my manager barely managed the quarterly check ins so it wasn’t that great.

      my new company does yearly reviews, but check ins are still at your manager’s discretion. My manager lets his people choose, but tends towards every other week. these are simple 5-15 minute talks about more or less goal alignment, as we’re in product, but also useful for me as a new employee to make sure I’m fitting in.

      reviews should never surprise you, is a good rule of thumb. if they do you’re being managed poorly.

      Reply
    2. Lora

      For 1:1 meetings, it’s normally just a quick progress report on ongoing projects and your manager giving you quick feedback and a general idea of what is going on.
      -Project A is at point X, I’ve sent three emails and voicemails and IM’ed Other Department Contact and still haven’t heard back, what should I do to get them to do their part of the project?
      -I sent you a draft of Report ABC to review, do you have any feedback for me?
      -Since Project B is wrapping up next week, here is the new project we are considering putting you on.
      -There’s an investor tour coming up next Wednesday, can you get your crew to clean up the lab so it doesn’t look like crap?
      -Where are we opex-wise, how is your budget aligning with the yearly projections? Can you get a report ready for next quarter?

      It’s quick, not more than an hour at most and usually not even that. It’s also the Designated Time to discuss fish-microwavers, tantrum-throwers and other associated issues. But yes, the notion is that you don’t get blindsided because you’ve been talking all year about things.

      Reply
    3. BossLady

      I have weekly one-on-one meetings with my staff members. They give me brief updates on where they are at with projects, bring a list of questions they have/things they need to troubleshoot (that aren’t time sensitive generally speaking, since those are more day to day in email), I give them feedback on any concerns I have or things they’ve done well and sometimes pass along information from higher levels of the company.

      My Boss is much less structured, so I don’t have a weekly or monthly scheduled 1-1 with her. I am generally the one ask for time on her calendar to get the same functions covered (updates, questions, trouble shooting, etc). But she’s also very accessible and willing to deal with things as they come up.

      Personally, I prefer the structure, I would like to have a dedicated time so I don’t feel like I’m having to ask for it all the time to get things addressed, but it’s not a hill I’m going to die on. I have a good relationship with my boss and we work well together, so I’m willing to go with her less planned flow than mine.

      Note: It is a big company though. In smaller places I’ve worked in the past, less structure/formal seemed to be the norm. I don’t think your office is an exception on that.

      Reply
      1. Filosofickle

        I’ve only had 1 job that had standing, weekly 1:1s and I really liked it! We treated it the same as you described. It normalized asking questions and getting feedback, which I appreciated since we were a loose team without a lot of face time. They were only 30 minutes.

        Reply
    4. Anonymousse

      We have these monthly and it’s a space to talk through work challenges, professional development, organisational stuff, etc.

      Reply
    5. Anonymousse

      Also, yes, that is screwed up – sorry! Or at least it’s messed up to blindside you with feedback and refuse to explain it.

      Reply
    6. Buttons

      I conduct my 1:1s with my director reports either weekly or every two weeks, depending on the employee. I have 2 lower level employees that need a lot of guidance and feedback, but the rest of my employees are fairly senior levels and we use it to catch up, talk about strategy, anything they are struggling with or need my help with, etc. We also have a team meeting every 2 weeks where each person updates on the 2 big things they are working on, and tell us if they have any or foresee any roadblocks, which allows the team to come together to offer any solutions or support to the person. I meet with my boss 2x a month, and usually one of those we don’t really cover any work, we just chat. We all work remotely, so it is really important that we have contact by phone and not just email/chat on a regular basis.
      Performance Reviews, we do quarterly check-ins and the annual review is when a rating and salary adjustment and bonuses happen. No one should ever be surprised during their review. If you were surprised and especially surprised by complaints that were from outside the review period, they are doing it wrong. The annual review should only cover what was done during that review period and reviews should be based on the goals that were set and to offer development feedback.

      Reply
    7. Tomato Frog

      I don’t know if your company is off from the norm, but they’re definitely off from best practices! I’ve never had a boss who does regular check-ins (my current boss is trying to get it going, I think because his managers told him to? with middling results so far), but I’m a first-time manager and I do them. Ideally, yes, they would be a place for you to raise any issues that are negatively affecting your work, as well as giving status updates on your projects, discussing short-term and long-term goals, receiving feedback, making sure you’re on the same page with your manager, and so on. They offer a time and a place where feedback and discussion can be normalized, so your manager doesn’t have to make a special appointment to give you private feedback, making it weird and awkward — and so you don’t get blindsides by your annual review, which of course should never happen.

      Reply
    8. Lunavesca

      Just wanted to add some further detail here…

      We do actually have a daily meeting with the project managers and everyone from the production department (my department) where we all go over the progress of what we are working on and ask any non-urgent questions related to that. We don’t have a lot of autonomy and we don’t get projects so much as tasks, so this sort of check-in on a longer time basis would not be of much use. But it is only for daily project tasks, not for more personal or greater-scope things, and it’s half the company all in one meeting.

      Reply
  42. Reba

    Do you have someone that you trust, either in your organization or just a friend whose judgment is good? I’d ask for a candid appraisal about how you come across. Someone in your org would have the best sense of what kind of approaches work there, and would also hopefully have a sense of whether your fears/perceptions are founded.

    Toastmasters is also an evergreen suggestion.

    Reply
  43. The Elderly Intern

    Hi!

    I’m currently in graduate school and an internship is required to graduate. It is really the only way into an otherwise nepotism-ridden, oversaturated industry, so I am eager to get an internship somewhere and get started! However, I am a bit older than your typical intern (I’m 27). I know graduate school should attract an “older” crowd anyways, since it’s always post-bachelor’s, but I’m still a little insecure about going for interviews and having to disclose my age/having them find out later.

    Any tips on how to spin my age in a positive light? I know this means I have more work experience, blah, blah, but I cannot help but feel they will want some fresh meat instead of…me.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. boredatwork

      Depending on the industry, get ready for the “someone younger than you will be your boss” how do you feel about that question. 27 is not ancient and they may not even really notice.

      Reply
    2. Bunny Girl

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I went back to school a little later in life and I’m working on my internship now. I’m at least 5 or 6 years older than most of our interns, but it really wasn’t a problem and I don’t really think there’s much of a difference. But I do think I bring a lot to the table in terms of maturity, work experience, and knowledge of work place norms. You wouldn’t believe how helpful that is.

      Reply
    3. TheBean

      In my experience–Having interned at the age of 35– my work experience was seen as a major plus. Perhaps its dependent on your prior work experiences, but I was competent in microsoft products, email, and professional etiquette. Not to say that younger people aren’t, but for me, there was track record of accomplishments that I could list and talk about. If you know your stuff in your field, then I think it gives interviewers peace of mind.

      Reply
    4. Reba

      I would say that since you are a graduate student it won’t be an issue. I would definitely not bring it up proactively or try to spin it. There’s nothing to spin! Some workplaces would be thrilled to have someone with a little more experience already.

      Reply
    5. Ryan Howard’s White Suit

      I don’t know your field, but in mine it’s not uncommon for grad students to be older (I was 32 when I did my internship, FWIW). It’s also not that crazy that people would be graduating undergrad at older ages, too, so I think you’ll be absolutely fine. Good luck!

      Reply
    6. Policy Wonk

      In government we often get interns who served in the military before going to school, so your age is more the norm than the exception. I’m guessing that it’s not uncommon in industry, either. I wouldn’t worry about it.

      Reply
    7. Guacamole Bob

      It might depend on the field, but in mine this would not be a big deal. I went back to get a masters when I was 32, and I was a summer intern at 33 (and pregnant! just to make it even more atypical). I think it was a plus to them because they gave me a fair amount of responsibility when they realized I was capable of it – I basically ended up doing most of the planning for some community events that summer, and doing some analysis that they supervised pretty lightly.

      But in my field most people in a masters program are at least 24ish and have a bit of work experience. 27 would not be at all remarkable.

      Reply
  44. BossLady

    Sending emails on July 5 is somewhat silly. I should probably just schedule them all to go out on Monday at this point, so I don’t have to spend five minutes deleting OOO messages. Just a random vent for one of the few on the skeleton crew in my office today.

    Reply
    1. Wordnerd

      Yep, I sent an email to four people just now and got three-out-of-the-offices. Decent chance the fourth person is also out and just forgot :-)

      Reply
    2. dealing with dragons

      I used to do ticketing and during the end of the year it was a nightmare of OOO emails. people would email in, despite being OOO, CC their entire department, and it would cascade into madness.

      Reply
    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      That would save you the OOO and they probably will get to them faster if they’re sent out on Monday too =X

      Reply
    4. Sparkly Librarian

      I sent something July 3rd and got an OOO reply through the 15th, so I forwarded it to the alternate contact listed therein. She got back to me at 4:57PM, requesting the attachment that I HAD originally sent but which got lost in the forward (hate email sometimes!). I sent it back to her at 5:03 and got HER OOO: I am out of the office through 7/7. *sigh*

      Today is my last day of maternity leave, and I would really like to get this kid insured!

      Reply
  45. SciDiver

    Been job searching since November and I got an offer this week and the salary is almost exactly what I had in mind! Had a call with an HR rep this morning to confirm benefits (which are great even though I’ll officially be a temporary employee thanks to soft money), he seemed a little surprised I had so many questions. After the benefits bait-and-switch at my last job, there was no way I wasn’t going to find out everything I could ahead of time.

    Reply
    1. New Normal

      Congratulations! As someone starting the job hunt, what sort of questions did you have, if you don’t mind sharing? And congratulations again!

      Reply
      1. SciDiver

        Thank you! My offer didn’t have any details, just that I was eligible for “most benefits”, so I asked about most everything. For the health plan, I asked about the coverage options they have, how much the plans cost, if they offer dental and/or vision plans, if there’s a grace period/waiting period (my last job required a full year of waiting before coverage could begin, and that was only if you qualified in the first place). PTO questions were about how much time is earned in a year, is sick time separate from vacation or is it all in one pool, how quickly it accrues, does it pay out or is it use-it-or-lose-it. A lot of my questions were also about the job classification and how I was categorized on their ladder, since it’s a numbered job series and I’m coming on in the middle, and I wanted to know a lot about career progression and promotion potential. Since I’m classified as temporary I didn’t ask about life insurance plans or retirement savings, but those are good to ask about as well! Good luck on your job search!

        Reply
        1. New Normal

          Thank you, I wouldn’t have thought to ask about many of those – what sort of terrible insurance makes you wait a full year for coverage? That’s awful.

          Reply
  46. Overthinkers Anonymous

    A colleague Fergus retired two weeks ago, and a goodbye dinner was held in our corporate banquet hall the following week. Attendees included his department and his fellow long-timers of 20+ years in the company. I was not invited, which is not at all the issue (I’ve only been here a few years, and we had only superficial interaction).

    The day of the dinner, I was preparing to leave and asked my boss if she wanted me to wait so we could walk out together, which we often do. She responded that she had a few things to wrap up, so I should head out without her. Fine, no big deal.

    I found out this week that she actually attended the dinner, which makes sense since she knew Fergus for many years. I’m just puzzled about why she was cagey with me about why she was staying late, instead of just saying she was attending Fergus’ dinner. Did she think I would be hurt to be excluded, even though I barely knew him?

    I’m not going to say anything, but I find myself wondering what my boss was thinking, and I’m circling the drain of second-guessing my behavior. Do I come across as petty? Should I be more careful about cracking jokes? Does my RBF make me seem impatient or difficult? Augh, my brain won’t stop.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      Or, it is possible that she was following general etiquette rules that you don’t talk to other people about things they aren’t invited to.

      I sometimes think that rule goes overboard and creates some isolation and awkwardness that wouldn’t otherwise exist (and is in fact what the rule is supposed to combat), but I really wouldn’t take this to heart unless you start seeing a pattern of her not sharing info with you that wouldn’t be covered by that rule. Or that it would make sense to share with you for practical reasons despite that rule.

      Reply
    2. New Normal

      If it helps, that’s pretty much exactly how I’d ask if I were in her place and it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It would involve a whole flurry of thoughts as I realized you weren’t invited then worried you’d feel left out even as another thought said I was being ridiculous and you probably don’t even know him but I was taught not to talk about a party to people who aren’t invited so but of course you know about it… all in a few very awkward seconds.

      So basically don’t worry about it. Let your boss have her awkward moment and know it wasn’t about you.

      Reply
    3. Gilmore67

      Well, maybe she did have some things to wrap up. I am not sure what the issue is. I don’t understand your use of the word ” cagey”. She owes you no explanation on anything she does.

      Maybe she did feel funny that you were not invited and didn’t want to say anything. But since you didn’t seem to care and understood why you were not invited anyway so what does it matter?

      I don’t understand the cracking jokes statement either.

      Yes you are way over-thinking it. I don’t understand why this is even an issue. You are really making a big deal out of absolutely nothing.

      Reply
    4. BethDH

      Don’t worry about it! I guess if you see a pattern of people in your office being reluctant to tell you things or give you feedback, then it might be something to consider.
      But I bet that either 1) she actually did have a few last things to do or was taking advantage of the buffer time before the event to do stuff or 2) she went into auto-polite mode wherein you avoid referencing parties to people you know weren’t invited, and it had nothing to do with you as a specific individual.
      I know I’d do the same as she did for reason 2, and it would have nothing to do with which exact person I was talking to.

      Reply
    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s considered rude to speak of an event you’re attending to someone who isn’t invited. Even though you totally get why the invites were handed out the way they were, others would be extremely hurt or just think it was tacky or an overshare on her part. So she did right by saying that she needed to stay behind for some other stuff and to go along without her!

      Reply
    6. Overthinkers Anonymous

      Thanks all for the confirmation. I knew I was spiraling, but somehow hearing it from others just works better.

      Reply
  47. KarenT

    What are y’all currently using to keep yourself organized?

    I currently put everything in google calendar, which is great for reminders and I travel frequently and my email automatically inputs flights, etc into my calendar, which is hugely helpful. I miss a paper planner though. I was thinking of a bullet journal, but frankly seems like too much work. I found a thing online called a passion planner, which I like but they are kinda pricey. Any recommendations?

    Reply
    1. CTT

      I had a Passion Planner while in school, and I liked the size and setup of it, but found the actual passion planning part of it a little…not silly, but I had trouble getting engaged with it. If you’re very into Life Plans and updating them, it’s a good choice.

      Reply
    2. dealing with dragons

      I use a bullet journal but it doesn’t have to be that bad. It’s a framework, not a prescriptive system.

      I’m trying out notion.so right now, and I’ve heard good things about evernote.

      Reply
    3. BethDH

      I use a top-bound notebook. I added heavy-duty sticky tabs to create sections for a running to-do list / action items (which gets transferred to online lists in appropriate work/home places — basically Trello for projects and Keep for personal tasks) and for notes for major projects, plus a section for a month-by-month overview of really big stuff (think 4-5 lines for the entire month, just enough to help me spread out major commitments).

      Reply
    4. Tegan

      I don’t get on with paper planners as things change around a lot for me. Anything with a clear date goes on my Outlook calendar. Otherwise I use an electronic to-do list app called TickTick (it’s similar to Todoist but has better features).

      Reply
    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I keep things in my calendar but I always have a handprinted checklist or planner/journal because the act of putting things in there by hand sticks it in my brain better. An online one doesn’t have the same effect on me.

      Reply
    6. Admin of Sys

      I usually snag the year planners from the local university store when I want a paper planner, but then I work in academia, so it’s useful to have that schedule re-enforced.

      Reply
    7. OtterB

      Take a look at the book The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. I had ruled out bullet journals because they seemed like too much work (color coded! art! which is fine if it works for you but made me anxious just thinking about it). Reading that book, the concept is much more starting with the basics and adapting to whatever you need. I am not following the method well, but I do find it helpful. I am also using a graph-ruled composition book rather than a fancy notebook.

      Reply
      1. Errol

        I used a minimalist bullet journal, so a fancy way of saying a hand written planner… it’s perfect for me! I have sections to track my projects and dates and it’s all in one place

        Can also use a pre-printed weekly’s calendar (if you don’t have a ton of stuff) with the bullet journal key to keep track of things

        Reply
      2. Melissa

        I have used a bullet journal style for 2 years that is modified. I don’t track things daily, but weekly. I find that one page per week works well. I support 4 librarian selectors, so I’l have many orders coming to me via email, and those get listed, and checked off as they are done. And any projects or meetings get listed. I even take meeting and phone call notes in the book. It had made a big difference in how organized I FEEL, because leaving so many tasks in my in-box was stressing me too much.

        And it helped tremendously recently when my annual review happened. I was able to flip back through and find accomplishments to list that I had totally forgotten.

        Reply
    8. Combinatorialist

      I have the Panda Planner and like it. (Also my email tells me they are all on sale right now). I’m not super on top of using it daily but it helps when I do. Also the pages aren’t dated so when I miss days, I don’t lose pages in teh book which is really helpful for me

      Reply
    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      I have kind of unusual work hours and really needed something that had a grid broken into half-hours that covered the hours I actually had appointments and meetings. I ended up using a desktop publishing program and just making myself a week-on-a-page layout that had the hours I needed in grid for and various daily/weekly tasks to check off below. I print it out every week (I’ve been gradually tweaking the format as I get used to it) and then write my appointments in by hand for that week so I can see the shape of my week. I then note the more “drop-in” discussions with people on it as well so I can keep track of which times of day and days of week I get the most questions, from who, and about what. (This is something that makes sense for my role but I could see it not making sense for a role where you spend less of your time in a question answering/support type role. I want to know if certain things get lots of questions so I can be proactive about getting better explanations out there, and also to keep track of who is and isn’t asking questions.)

      For things over a week out, I keep anything that might impinge on a workday in my work Outlook calendar so everyone can see when I’m busy/free/out of office. For personal stuff not on weekdays, I don’t have much of a system. I have a lot of weekend meetings and events with a non-profit org that uses GSuite for everything, so that stuff gets tracked there, but I haven’t really figured out how to unify personal/work/volunteering in one spot well. I don’t really want my job to be the keeper of my entire calendar since I’d like to have personal control over my calendar records, but I also don’t want to leak potentially confidential information outside of work by exporting all of my work meetings elsewhere, so I’m having trouble with finding an appropriate way to keep everything synced.

      Reply
  48. New Normal

    I’m putting together my resume and, thanks to reading this site, I’m using bullet points rather than paragraphs and not shrinking my font to get it all on one page and focusing on outcomes rather than making statements. So that’s good. I’m stuck on some verbiage, though. I want to show I have management skills and that I’m good in a “ fast-paced, quickly changing environment.”
    For management, I’ve been managing a gift store connected to a small, local museum for the past year and doing everything that that entails. Payroll, finances, sales, cleaning up our POS system, training and supervising new hires and volunteers, marketing, etc. But all I can think to put are statements. Actually, all I can think is “Managed ALL THE THINGS” because the burnout is real.

    For the fast-paced environment, that’s also such a part of my daily life that I can’t think how to word it. A normal day involves me getting halfway through one task on my task list then being called away to help a customer then sit down only to put out a fire then get called on by one of the museum board members to help them print something then finish that one task then there’s a question about the register …
    If I’m to narrow it, the time that best shows my ability there is during our annual fundraiser gala where over 200 people make purchases (usually large ones) in our one-register shop in a three-hour span. But I’m worried that only shows I can deal with one fast-paced event once a year.

    I know I’m overthinking this but this is my first attempt to jump from the retail world to corporate so I already feel I’m at a disadvantage and need this to be amazing.

    Reply
    1. New Normal

      That should say I’ve been managing this shop for the past THREE years, not past year. I know I typed the right number … I’ll blame autocorrect.

      Reply
    2. MsM

      Flexibility/ability to juggle multiple urgent priorities is a skill that fits better in a cover letter or interview than a resume, I think. You demonstrate it in the latter by listing as many of the things you can fit without making the resume ridiculously long. I think it’s helpful to have a “master resume” that incorporates everything you think might come up at some point, and then pick the strongest/most relevant bullets for whatever listing you’re working with. For instance, if they say managerial skills are important, then you make sure the training and supervising work is in there.

      And no, I wouldn’t worry about anyone (or at least anyone with enough common sense that you’d want to work with them in the first place) reading your fundraiser gala example and assuming that’s the only time things get busy. It’s an example that encapsulates everything in a concise way, and I’m sure there’s also a lot of prep and follow-up that keeps you busy as well.

      Reply
      1. Matilda Jefferies

        Yes, definitely put this in your cover letter instead of your resume. This wording is perfect:

        A normal day involves me getting halfway through one task on my task list then being called away to help a customer then sit down only to put out a fire then get called on by one of the museum board members to help them print something then finish that one task then there’s a question about the register…

        Even if you’re not applying for a particular job at the moment, you can still have a “building block” version of your cover letter. You know you’ll need this sentence at some point in pretty much every cover letter, so keep it handy, and you can insert and re-use it whenever you need it. Good luck!

        Reply
        1. New Normal

          Thank you! I never would have thought to put that exactly in my cover letter – I tend to be formal verging on stilted so having “permission” to anchor it with that sentence is hugely helpful and gives me the tone for the whole thing!

          Reply
          1. Matilda Jefferies

            You’re welcome! My cover letters have improved a ton since I stopped trying to be super formal, and started writing them in my own voice. It was actually a great CL from here that made me think of it – I’ll see if I can find the link.

            Reply
      2. New Normal

        Thank you. Hopefully this will become my master resume. Thank you for the reassurance about the gala! That all really helps.

        Reply
    3. Errol

      I personally have never quite got the words right to show just how busy it was in a bullet point, so I use the closest I could and then use my cover letter as a place to highlight jumping priorities and such. I put things like “managed competing priorities and tight deadlines” on the resume but in the cover letter really expanded to highlight that skill.

      I’ve worded these differently because I can’t 100% recall what was on my customer service resume but “I am a person who can confidently handle multiple pressing priorities while still ensuring excellent customer service” and “really thrives in fast paced environments” are some phrases that have been pointed out to me in interviews as to why they interviewed me for reception jobs and such.

      Reply
    4. Combinatorialist

      So I think something for the resume that is helpful to think about is what is the difference between your performance and mediocre performance in the job. Those are accomplishments that can be included on the resume. And then in the cover letter, you can tell a story about the gala (for example) and the skills you used to pull it off.

      I would start by making a huge list of all your accomplishments from this job and maybe a few different stories about different aspects that show you are awesome. Then for each job, select the accomplishments and stories that most support the claim “I would be awesome at this specific job.”

      Reply
  49. Ethical Question

    I am looking for staff jobs in Higher Ed, and am in process of applying to jobs at various local universities. One of my friends asked me if I’d thought to look for positions at our city’s Historically Black College & University.

    Is it ethical for a white person to apply to a position at an HBCU? I know the history behind HBCUs is that they provide a safe space for African-Americans away from white discrimination, and I’d be concerned I’d be appropriating or taking jobs away from the African-American community or violating their safe space.

    I’ve worked in many majority-minority communities in the past, so I’m used to being in environments where I’m the minority, but I don’t want to be taking away resources from a historically marginalized community or be encroaching on their safe space, either.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      Honestly, how each place handles it varies. I would say that you need to visit the campus and see who is working there and what the reaction to you as a white person on campus is.

      It’s all really fraught and I don’t think there’s a one-size fits all answer to this question.

      Reply
    2. Rusty Shackelford

      I knew someone who worked at an HBCU, and he said it was the one placed he’d ever applied where he knew that if there’d been a qualified AA applicant, he wouldn’t have been offered the job. So there’s that.

      I know the history behind HBCUs is that they provide a safe space for African-Americans away from white discrimination

      That’s an awfully generous way of looking at it.

      Reply
        1. Ethical Question

          Jim Crow and Segregation meant that African-Americans were not allowed to attend most schools at all. In the South, there were legally white schools and legally black schools, run by city school districts, with the black schools being in poor repair without adequate materials and the white schools being well-built and amply supplied. My current state’s university system didn’t allow black students to enroll until the mid-1960s, which is just disgusting. (And somewhat shocking to my personal experience, my alma mater up North was aligned with the abolition movement and accepted African-American students from the day it was founded.)

          Reply
          1. Tegan

            Thanks ever so much for the explanation – it is much appreciated. I thought it would be something like that but I wasn’t sure of the details.

            Reply
        2. Admin of Sys

          I’m guessing it was in reference to the statement that the segregation of HBCUs was to “provide a safe space for African-Americans away from white discrimination”, rather than HBCUs being created by the black communities because, by and large, the extant universities’ admission policies were racist and generally forbid african americans from attending.

          Reply
    3. 2 cents

      Ehhhh, if it’s not your dream job, I’d stay away. I don’t think you would be taking a job away from an African-American, as it would be the school’s decision to hire you, but if you’re not entering this space with intention, I feel it is a violation of their safe space.

      I think a place like an HBCU can only be enhanced by a white person if that person’s mission is to devote their career to the advancement or benefit of African Americans.

      Just my two cents!

      Reply
    4. Gloucesterina

      I think it’s hard to talk about in the abstract, and it would be important to familiarize yourself with the mission and culture of the institution (as with any university) and how a particular job opening intersects with their specific mission. For instance, I could see a student life/student affairs role as one that wouldn’t serve the mission of an HBCU to have lots of non-Black people serving in (although there could be hypotheticals that I am failing to imagine here, I do not work at an HBCU). But the hiring committee is going to have serving the mission front and center as they sift through applications, so I would discourage you from feeling guilty if you were to receive an interview or a job offer as a white person, and have a healthy faith and respect in the decisions of the committee.

      As anecdata, one of my colleagues is white and works at an HBCU as a staff member. When they was hired, her boss was really focused on what my colleague’s prior experience (at a historically and predominantly white institution) could bring to the unit, not on their racial identity.

      Reply
      1. Gloucesterina

        oops – When they were hired, their boss was really focused on what my colleague’s prior experience (at a historically and predominantly white institution) could bring to the unit, not on their racial identity.

        Reply
      2. Ethical Question

        Thanks! Honestly, I’m looking for admin-type jobs. I wouldn’t expect to be student facing or doing anything particularly hands on, unless I’m signing them up for their online pay stubs or directing phone calls, that sort of thing.