open thread – September 6-7, 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.

{ 1,906 comments… read them below }

  1. ChachkisGalore*

    I have an intern that just started and is absolutely killing it. He’s showing more intitiative (but the good kind, not the gumption kind) and better understanding of the work than several of the full time team members with years of experience.

    I’m re-working his internship plan to get him involved in some higher level work than originally planned and I’m looking through my list of “would be nice, but I’ll probably never get to” projects to find one or two that I could hand over to him and let him take the lead on.

    Any other ideas of what I could do for a really awesome intern? I never participated in any internships, so I’m basing my ideas on the types of things that I would have found beneficial in my entry level roles, but I’m not sure if there’s anything I’m missing that might be specific to what would be beneficial in an internship context.

    1. JustAnotherAlison*

      Help him start to network – either internally or externally. Learning oppertunities are great, but in the end what he will need someone to give him a job eventually :)

      1. ChachkisGalore*

        Oh that’s great – thank you! My work does involve interacting with a lot of different people in the company of various levels – mostly over mundane things, but still, do you think having him start to take on some of that would be a good way to get some face time with people outside our dept? I think he has the interpersonal skills to handle it.

        Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of external networking opportunities, but every once in while I’ll attend half-day conferences or seminars. If any come up I’ll push to bring him.

        1. Kate*

          Give him as many experiences as you can. Bring him along to client meetings, presentations, whatever makes sense given the company – even if he won’t be participating much – give him exposure to as many different parts of the business as possible. He may tag along to a sales presentation and LOVE it. You never know. Also – ask him! Ask him if there are any areas of the business he’d like to explore, and then give him those opportunities. Then keep in touch – offer to be a reference for future roles, or connect him with others in your industry that might help him. Offer to take him to lunch with some contacts of yours, so he can meet them and broaden his own network! Kudos to you for doing as much as you can for him!

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          My work does involve interacting with a lot of different people in the company of various levels – mostly over mundane things, but still, do you think having him start to take on some of that would be a good way to get some face time with people outside our dept?

          Yes, these are exactly the types of things he needs to be taking on. Things that may seem mundane to you now are probably brand new to him, and since those tasks aren’t mission critical, this will give him the opportunity to learn the ropes without fear of screwing up something major. Plus, he’ll get the face time he needs with other department contacts, which can lead him to making connections that might land him a job later if your group doesn’t end up needing to hire when he’s finished with school.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Agreed. I loved that my boss for my internship brought me along to meet business people, and told me to go mingle at a gala I’d help set up. Also, make sure the intern leaves with references and/or portfolio work (if allowable).

      2. Lauren19*

        I wholeheartedly agree with this. Also get him a good understanding of how the business works. One of the most useful traits of a newer employee is that they understand our revenue system. Beyond teaching HR, marketing, sales, get him immersed in how you measure success, where growth comes from, why the strategy is the way it is. Understanding business at that level — any business — is widely transferable and valued in any position.

      1. Antilles*

        If this guy is doing so well that he’s actually outshining a couple full time team members, you definitely want to hire him on full-time after the internship…and you need to make sure that other people know that.

        1. ChachkisGalore*

          Unfortunately our internship program isn’t the type that’s a pipeline for roles in the company after completion (we’re a fairly small company so there’s just not that many, or necessarily any, entry level roles open at any given time).

          I am going to start quietly spreading the word so that if any do open up people know to keep him in mind.

          1. nhb*

            Just curious: why quietly? If he’s that great, sing his praises, and offer to be that reference for him when he needs it.

            1. ChachkisGalore*

              Well I’m definitely going to be loud about how great he is, but I just don’t want to get his hopes up that there will be a role for him at the company. We were very upfront in the interview process that while we strive to give them real world experience, that we rarely have open roles to offer at the end of the internship.

              1. Just J.*

                Ah, then who are your peers at other firms? Pass those contacts on to your intern. Or pass your intern’s name on to your contacts.

              2. Is it Friday yet?*

                The next best thing you can give him if you can’t help him get a job at your company is to be a reference for him as he’s applying to other jobs and offer your support in that way.

          2. Kiwiii*

            It may be worth it to double check if there’s any flexibility on that if he’s as impressive as you say, even if in a slightly different role or extending the internship if he seems interested in that. I just joined a fairly small company where my manager fought passionately to hire two people from the applicant pool because of the level of talent despite only technically having one role to fill. They hired me and then ended up hiring the second person as a contract employee (to pull funds from another part of the company and for about 25% less – she does about half the work I do and then some stuff we usually save for interns or really slow periods) for a couple months until our workload increases enough to offer her the job properly (which it will in about two months when we launch with a new client).

    2. Isabella*

      Coming from someone who had several amazing internships, here’s some of the things that helped for me! Any specific tool that they can put on their resume as having experience in is awesome. Definitely letting them take the lead on a project would be huge. If there’s a way to let them attend some higher level meetings to see the thought process behind those. But the biggest thing was showing me exactly what they changed in my work and why, so I could avoid making that mistake the next time!

      1. ChachkisGalore*

        Oh this is really helpful! He just put together some stuff as the legwork for a project, it got sent to my boss (I made sure boss knew it came from intern). Boss made some minor tweaks and presented it to our dept head. I wasn’t sure if I should tell him about the minor tweaks, but I now I will. But will make sure he knows his work was excellent to start with.

        1. nonymous*

          For this particular scenario, the feedback is great for development and any hard numbers you can tie to the outcome is a terrific CV-builder. Especially if he is performing out of level – help him highlight that in quantifiable terms.

      2. MySherona*

        It’s also important to let them know HOW to put it on their resume. The language used in the industry and the metrics that are going to make it meaningful.

        1. Jake*

          That’s huge. For my best interns I always give an hour talk on how to market themselves to employers. The feedback I’ve gotten from departing interns is that this was off huge benefit for little commitment.

    3. Heidi*

      Ah, the joy of the intern who just gets it. I’d recommend having a discussion with the intern to try to figure out what types of projects are interesting to him. Giving him back burner projects is fine, and really helpful for an intern because a more senior person has vetted it for feasibility. But it would probably be even more rewarding if he can also work on projects that he is really invested in. Who knows, he might have some entirely new projects in mind already.

    4. PantaloonsOnFire*

      Depending on your level on influence and connections (and your intern’s timeline), see if you can help ease his transition from fantastic intern to fantastic employee–even if it’s not with your company. Introduce him to people who can help him grow his career, recommend him highly, strategize with him about how to phrase the work he’s doing on his resume, help him plan out a career in your industry (assuming he wants to stay there). Helping someone have a wonderful, growth-filled internship is invaluable. But the entire reason people have internships is so that they can eventually find jobs and careers. If he’s this amazing, see if you can help him not just with building skills and learning business norms but with actually getting solid, steady, rewarding employment.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        This is big. Talk to the intern about potential areas he’d like to learn about. Reach out to a couple of leaders in different areas of the company to see if they’d be interested in doing informational interviews over coffee or lunch with him. Help him start to visualize how his career could look at your company. At least in my company, leaders are very open to having informational meetings with interns so it’s something I encourage our interns to take advantage of.

    5. Thor*

      Would there be a position for him after he graduates? Keep that option open if you can. It’s so great you appreciate someone who works hard, it often doesn’t seem that managers care how hard someone works. Getting him some more challenging work seems awesome as it will be more beneficial for him than being stuck picking up lunch and dusting the office. Maybe meet with him and discuss those projects and see what he thinks about it, and be mindful of his time that he has for the internship and to not overload him. Be sure that it isn’t about giving him more work so he gets overwhelmed, but giving him better responsibilities. Give a glowing review if the school needs that kind of thing from you. And definitely tell him straight forward how much you appreciate his hard work. Being noticed and rewarded for his hard work will encourage his good habits, and he deserves to actually hear praise from his boss not just have work piled on.

      1. OtterB*

        “gumption” gets used on this site as shorthand for excessive initiative of the tone-deaf kind. Trying to get a job by arriving in the lobby with your resume in hand, trying to take over projects you’re supposed to be assisting with, disregarding instructions without discussing it with your boss because you’re sure you know a better way to do something and everyone will love your innovation, being overly pushy in general.

      2. M*

        “I thought the filing system for the Llama Grooming Invoices was confusing, so I’ve merged it with the Puffer Fish Extermination Reports! They’re now filed by geographic location!”

      3. Dwight*

        It’s site specific here, because there was once a letter that someone was over-zealously trying to steal someones job while they were on maternity leave by getting job specific training and experience on their own, for a role they weren’t going to have a chance at ever. The director thought the worker was showing “gumption”, so that’s where the term comes from.

        1. voyager1*

          I am really glad someone asked this, AAM is the only place where I have seen gumption used as a negative term except in political/societal debates.

          1. Clisby*

            Really? I’m 65 and to me it seems like a really anachronistic term. Like, you’re the newsboy who delivers Henry Ford’s newspaper every day and who all of a sudden encounters the great man, launches into a speech about how cars will change the world, and gets hired at Ford Motor Co. on the spot.

          2. TechWorker*

            I’m uncertain whether you mean you don’t hear it a lot, or you hear it and it’s usually positive. Maybe some cultural differences at play, but I think I’ve almost always heard it used negatively (and no, AAM is not my main reference). Meaning similar to ballsy/audacious. Though ‘no gumption’ means ‘stupid’ or ‘naive’ so idk what happened to the English language there :D

          1. voyager1*

            Yeah I tend to agree with AAM in that response, gumption is more to me like showing serious initiative and not giving up on something. But initiative can turn to rudeness though very quickly when one doesn’t know when to holdback.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          I always think of the letter about the person who said she was “fired for showing initiative” when what she actually did was go over her boss’ head to the grand boss.

    6. Nadja*

      Ask them what sort of things they aspire to do professionally one day and try to figure out a project where they can get related experience under their belt.

    7. Mainely Professional*

      Make sure that you’re giving him projects he can potentially “take away” and show as part of a professional portfolio/describe with real ownership on his resume. Work samples are really helpful for young professionals.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yes – I cannot stress this enough. I was a journalism major who also did marketing communications work for a visitors and convention bureau during my co-op, and having really solid clips was so important during interviews.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Think about any industry jargon initiatives in your company that you can expose him to. For example, if you’re on a kaizan or SixSigma project, let him sit in on some meetings to get the feel for the back&forth, and discuss with him afterwards.
      If he’s working in a department with a formal SOP and those procedures have drifted out of date, ask him to mark up a copy with differences that people have pointed out during his onthejob training.
      I saw below that you’re a small company — but sometimes small companies have the flexibility to create an entry-level position when an excellent person comes along. So point out this intern to the highest ranking person you know in the C-suite, and tell them it’s the first intern (out of X interns in Y years) that you’re this excited about.

    9. Mazzy*

      I have to ask, is the intern paid? I wouldn’t want you getting in trouble giving unbunpaid intern real work

      1. Eshrai*

        I actually came to ask this myself. Unpaid interns should not be producing any real work for the business, they should be learning primarily. Paid interns are different though. I can’t help myself with this! Too many years as an auditor.

    10. Officious Intermeddler*

      I like the idea of the “nice, but I won’t get it it” list–I had an internship in law school where I got the chance to work on stuff like that, and my boss at the time liked how things were going and kept me on after the summer as a part-time hourly worker whenever I could fit things in. The projects got done, and got done much more quickly than they would have, and even though that wasn’t the kind of place where they could or would hire someone right out of school, I got a taste of the kind of work I’d do in a job like that and also the kind of independence you need to be a good worker when you’re just starting out. So anyway, maybe campaign for part-time hourly work for the intern after the internship ends, if possible? The best things you can give an intern, IMO, are (1) clear expectations, (2) good pay, and (3) a great reference, and it sounds like maybe you can achieve those.

    11. BetsyTacy*

      Somebody who supervised me for an internship set up a series of meetings with higher level staff in different departments just so I could meet them, ask questions, and basically have a super informal informational interview.

      It was amazing to get that 20-30 minutes of face time and just… get that type of exposure.

    12. Person of Interest*

      I always have at least one project that my intern can lead and do fairly independently – it’s usually a research and writing project for which we have past models and templates (so they have lots of guidance), and I end up finalizing it after they leave (for clean up and because it takes longer to complete than their internship), but they do the bulk of the work and can list it as an accomplishment and share the finished product as part of their portfolio.

    13. Anax*

      When I was an intern, I had a chance to sit in and observe our hiring process – our group had the whole small team present at phone and in-person interviews, and discussed how they felt about candidates afterward. That was really valuable to me – it pointed out some surprisingly common mistakes (like googling the answer during phone interviews), industry norms (‘most people dress business-casual for interviews, full suits read a little weird’), and eased my anxiety about the process.

      If it’s possible, that would be an awesome thing to let your intern in on too – though of course, if you’re trying to hire THEM, that might make things a little harder.

    14. Jadelyn*

      Help him get known to people other than you/your department. Bring him to meetings an intern wouldn’t normally be part of – not just for the learning experience of what he observes in the meetings, but so that he becomes a familiar face and name to people across the organization. After those meetings, if you’ve got time, you could debrief with him and help him calibrate his perception of what’s happening in those meetings (who was responsible for what, what the various goals of the people in the meetings were, etc), which is a skill that will help him for the rest of his career.

      For projects, stuff with concrete deliverables that he can point to on his resume later would be fantastic.

      And of course – just ask him! Ask him what he’s looking to get out of this internship, if there’s a particular area of specialization he wants to move into, etc. He might have some ideas you can work with.

    15. Kiwiii*

      So I never had any internships, so this might be missing the base a little bit. But in my most valuable temp experience, I teamed up with the person in the office who reviewed resumes and got direct help with my resume regarding what they/others in the industry look for, including spelling out how to include work I did (and mentioning things I could include) and that I should be (for entry level positions) mirroring the qualifications more closely to connect the dots for people. I’ve evolved a little from that format since then (with Alison’s help), but it improved my resume significantly and got me tons of interviews for positions that could use me long-term, pay me more, and would offer me benefits (which, then, as a 23 year old making $12/hr with a frankly gross commute, was what I desperately needed)

    16. Token Archaeologist*

      I used to run an internship program. One of the things we frequently heard from participants was that training opportunities, and particularly cross-training opportunities were really useful and were what was getting them hired afterwards. So if any training opportunities come up either in your department, or a department you work with a lot, see if you can get the intern in on the training.

      I can give a field specific example: Our science interns were often included in wild land firefighting training. In the field they were trying to break into this was super useful. Totally unrelated to their science specialty, but very related to the type of organization they were looking to work for. And having the certification, and being able to say they can act as a back up in an emergency even though they are a scientist, was a big bonus for the cash strapped organizations they were looking to work for.

      So many industries are looking to have staff be able to function in multiple roles, that cross straining from the start of a career has become a big bonus. So, ask him what types of things that are tangential he might be interested in, and see what opportunities there are to get him some training or experience in those areas as well.

    17. Venus*

      There are piles of suggestions of what you should do, but in my experience I would first ask him. Don’t push to include him in specific projects, conferences, big meetings, etc before you know that’s something that would interest him. It probably will, but check in first! I chat with my interns to find out what they are most keen to get out of the experience, and for some it’s skills because they want to be in a different field after graduation and don’t need my references to get them there. They don’t mind going to meetings with senior managers, but it wasn’t their priority.

    18. Hillary*

      We try to focus both internships and rotation projects on measurable deliverables. I want the intern to have stories they can tell in a job interview, especially about whatever their area of focus is.

      It’s a small example, but one of our interns just did a voice of the customer interview series for us (internal customers). She set up the interviews, wrote the question list, synthesized the results, and presented them to stakeholders. It was valuable for our team, and it also exposed her to leaders across the business while giving her some exposure to the kind of conflicting wants you’re going to see in a big corporate environment. The only things I did were make the interviewee list and give her some coaching/feedback about how to present to that audience.

    19. Laura W.*

      When I ran an internship program, I always had the interns update their resume with the internship before their final meeting with their supervisor and me. We allotted time during the meeting to go over their resume. In addition to general resume tips, we also suggested ways of rephrasing the way they spoke about the internship to make it stronger. We then gave them the rest of their time at the organization to update their resume with any changes they wanted to make and offered to look at it one final time. I felt it was a nice way to end the internship while making sure their resume was updated for their next internship or job.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        BRILLIANT. Yes, resumes are difficult, and you might be able to give them a different slant on how to write them than they get at the career center.

    20. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Would you want to hire him when he graduates/if this is possible? (Of course, assuming that he wants to work at your place.)

    21. wittyrepartee*

      If you can’t find a position for him, would it be possible for you to give him a paid internship indefinitely until he finds another position? Having a low level of income during a job search is incredibly helpful, as is having a boss who knows you’re looking and is willing to talk with you about offers that you’re considering.

      Another super helpful thing to do would be to give him practice interviews and to go over his resume. Maybe go over his linked in as well, or other materials that people might look at when he’s looking for a job.

    22. Daisy*

      A little late here, but if he’s really killing it and you have any flexibility, see if you can get him (or reasonably allow him to use) a title other than “intern.” I did an internship right out of college and my boss decided I was doing work way above the intern level, so told me to use “Llama Feeding Coordinator” on my resume instead and she would confirm that in reference checks. It definitely looked better to have a year of experience with that title than “Llama Intern.”

    23. BTDT*

      You have some great ideas already but besides leading a project here are the 2 things I felt was most beneficial:
      – after my project ended I was asked to present it to senior leadership & some other relevant teams. So I got face time with them + it was something I could add to my resume.
      – Got invited back for a 2nd internship to work on a new/different project

    24. Oilpress*

      Be careful not to do more for this intern than you do for your full time staff. Even if the intern has more ability, your full time staff are going to be who helps you this year and next year, while the intern will probably be somewhere else. It’s nice that you want to be helpful, but don’t forget who is going to help (or hurt) you in the long run.

    25. Jocelyn*

      Take him out for coffee and ask them what their big dreams and goals are, and based on his experience at your company what type of work does he have an eye on?

  2. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

    Greetings, All!
    I am a high school teacher specializing in a certain content. I am also a current professional in this content, and am slightly known in my field.
    I write a LOT of recommendation letters, not only for students, but also occasionally for colleagues and friends. A friend going for a job in our field asked me to re-write part of the letter to introduce my background and myself, which I had left out. I have never included information about myself before. Does anyone else do this in their letters?

    1. Sleepy*

      I include information about my role and my relationship to the student. E.g. “I am a math teacher and Janet was a student in my math courses Algebra 1 and Pre-Calculus 2.”

      I don’t think you should include more than that unless the student is truly outstanding and your background will explain how you helped recognize that. E.g. “Although I’ve taught for 20 years, including at the college level, I’ve never seen a student work as hard as Janet.” That’s very different than “This is my first year teaching and Janet is my most hard-working student.”

      Letters should be short and focused on the student. People aren’t likely to read them closely or read something longer than a page, and if you were to discuss yourself, you’d be taking away space from the student.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I write a lot of recommendations and I echo this. Specify my relationship to the student and if relevant, any special experience I have to highlight a specific strength or skill of the person for whom I am writing the letter.

        1. Memyselfandi*

          Same here. It is a recommended format for letters of recommendation. Most of my letters are for graduate school, fellowships and the like. I generally write a paragraph about how I have worked with the candidate on a specific project. My position title and credentials, included in my signature, are usually enough to establish my credibility, but it might be reasonable to include more about yourself if the same is not true for you. If you think the recipient of the letter would recognize your name, it might not be necessary.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      It would seem to make sense to provide that context, no? I suppose the recommendee could do it also though..

    3. Professional Pup*

      I previously worked at a high school not as a teacher, but as a supervisor in an on-campus Teapot Repair Center where students worked part-time to get real-world teapot experience, so I wrote a lot of recs. I always took a few sentences – sometimes only 1-2, sometimes up to 5, depending on what the recommendation was for – to explain the background of our Teapot Repair Center, because it was fairly unique (well known among other schools with Teapot Integration – not so much outside of the K-12 Teapot world). I felt like it was important to make clear how unique the work was that the students were doing, so the background was necessary. So, I don’t think it’s off-base to include a few lines about yourself, especially if your background and specialization can lend more weight to the recommendation you’re giving a student.

      1. Artemesia*

        I worked in a somewhat innovative program in which students had a lot of hands on and community based experience and which there was a lot of emphasis on analysis and writing. I had a couple of boilerplate sentences that described the focus of the program i.e. the focus on what skills students were expected to develop which would then segue into specific examples of things the students did — their internship, or leadership on a community based class project or whatever.

        It is important to provide a bit of context and in your case it might be about your own work and experience — a sentence or so.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Maybe the issue here is that you are writing on behalf of a professional colleague, not a student, so they want it to be clear that you have credentials other than your teaching position.

      1. Captain Raymond Holt*

        As a person who works as a part time faculty member and a full time business professional, Not A Manager has it right! It’s important for the reader to understand why you’re qualified to evaluate and recommend the candidate.

    5. Quickbeam*

      Yes, I include my background briefly so that the reader understands my level of skill and expertise in evaluating the candidate. In my case, nursing.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I sometimes do! I think it depends on the context, and to me, in this context it makes sense — it’s an additional feather in your friend’s cap for someone with your level of expertise and professional experience to recommend her, and introducing yourself briefly means you’re not relying on name recognition or someone having the time to Google you. :)

    7. Anonymeece*

      Hmm, no, I haven’t.

      My format for recommendation letters tends to be:

      [Intro with how I know the person (ex. “I’ve served as supervisor for Jane for the past 5 years. Her position requires…)]

      [Brief overview of her skills/great things at her job]

      [Brief personal note. (ex. “Jane is also a great team-member who always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She goes out of her way to get to know her colleagues and …etc)]

      [Closing where I say if they have any questions, etc., and say I think they’d be a great fit]

      My signature has my education level but I’ve never really gone into much detail about myself, other than “I’m his/her supervisor”. That seems odd.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Not exactly the same, but my friend introduced a mutual friend as a guest speaker this way: She started out with the number of years as a consultant. Then she gave a short list of different organizations that were his clients.
      It worked into about three sentences but each sentence was packed. If I did not know the speaker I would still have been very interested in hearing the talk, given his background.

      I’d suggest that you have created the template here that you can use in your first two sentences. “I am a high school teacher with x years experience and I have been concurrently working in the field for y years.” If you have general examples of your work you can put them next. Our friend had done consulting work for various types of NPOs, so several categories of clients were listed, such as schools and hospitals. Notice that the specific institution was not named.
      People just need a general idea of your basis for your insight.

    9. tamarack & fireweed*

      How I would go about this: If you take a step back from the letter as written and read it as if you were a hiring manager, would there be any lingering question about how the letter writer is qualified to make the statements about the candidate? If yes, add just enough information to contextualize.

      It shouldn’t be dragging the letter down the slope of being about you rather than the candidate, but it should make your perspective on the candidate, and your expertise regarding what you’re evaluating, clear. There were many good little templates in the other comments.

    10. Deanna Troi*

      When I receive a letter of reference, I want to know the author’s credentials. How else will I know how much weight give to their opinion? Especially from a colleague, not a teacher.

    11. Anon recommender*

      I do very briefly when relevant. I’m in academia. For example if they are applying for the same degree I have or if they are applying for a very special position so the readers have context that I am not just a random person at the university. As an aside, I do not allow students to read my letters. I only agree if they waive this right. I have allowed colleagues to see the letters though and a few asked for tweaks I was happy to make.

  3. The Actually Mad Scientist*

    Hi All,I guess I’m looking for some help framing something that’s been going on at work. I’ve posted before that I am a contractor working at a much larger pharma company. Our department is made up mostly of people from my contracting company, with some of the pharma company’s people interspersed and higher-up than we are. They just opened up 6 positions, specifically geared to convert “contract XYZ” employees to “Pharma” employees (so there are no clauses or anything like that that are keeping us from the jobs.) 

    I’ve been here for 4.5 years and have never had any problems with my work. All of my reviews are glowing, I’ve been told I’m a great employee, I’m always getting bonuses, rewards, etc. Personally, I lost my mom this year, so this has been the hardest year of my life. I’m at work, doing a great job (from what I’ve been told) and making a huge effort to be here every day, do my best and ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died. I’m one of the most senior contractors here.
    The positions opened up, and, lo and behold, I DIDN’T EVEN GET AN INTERVIEW. FOR MY OWN JOB. When they sent an email saying that all of the interviews were already conducted or scheduled (so if you’re waiting, you’re SOL) my heart sank and, unfortunately, since I’m apparently a child, I started to cry (silently, not like sobbing.)
    Someone saw me crying and inferred that I was upset about the situation, and it got back to the hiring manager, Sally. (who is good friends with my manager, Jill). Jill had a talk with me this morning “off the record” to ask if I was upset, which I confessed that I was, but that I was dealing with it. Jill told me that my being upset got back to Sally and Sally told Jill that if I was upset about it, she wishes that I would go talk to her. Jill said she “thinks it will make me feel better.” 

    I considered this, but I don’t know if I want to do it. I feel like Sally is in a bad position with having to make a decision of giving 6 people positions out of 45 really good employees, and me asking to talk to her isn’t going to do anything besides make her feel bad. I would like an explanation (because at this point I feel it’s personal) but is it even worth it? It’s not going to change anything, and I don’t want to come across as a baby that’s crying because I didn’t get picked for an interview. I know that it’s not her job to handle my emotions, but I would love to know if it’s something I’m doing-my anxiety and many other things have gone off the rails lately, and it’s hard for me to regulate anything, so I try to take extreme care with making sure I’m doing a good job.

    Do you guys think I should talk to Sally? What should I say? I need to do something here because I’m starting to get very…complacent? towards my job. I feel this might be a point that will turn me from a good worker into an “eff this entire place” worker and I don’t want that at all. Also, everyone in my open-plan office is talking about their interviews and how they went, and I secretly want to punch every single one of them. I don’t want to end up hating my job over this, and I also don’t want to end up hating my coworkers. I would appreciate any help! 

    1. Elenia*

      First of all it is so ok to cry. I am a grown ass woman and when I got the news I didn’t get a job I had been doing interim for 8 months, I very calmly accepted the news, talked to the person who delivered it, hung up, and started to cry. I think more people should cry occasionally, it’s a great venting situation.
      In the end you don’t have to talk to Sally. If you can, though, it might be good to talk to her and ask her what was lacking and what you could do to get this job in the future. Most likely she will say something that might not be that useful. That is not the point.
      The point is, to afterwards, when you are far in the future, to be able to look back onto this and remember you handled it. Despite my tears, I did ask the hiring person what he was looking for and how to improve myself as an applicant. He told me some things, and I was like “What…? I have those skills already! That’s BS! ” which in turn told me, I was worth more than that. That boost of self-confidence didn’t come right away, it came down the line, which eventually spurred me to a job with a higher role and a LOT more pay.
      Much affection to you. It always sucks to be passed over. Bleh!

      1. valentine*

        making a huge effort to […] ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died.
        I think this is the place to focus. Maybe it’s impacting your work more than you think. If you can take time between jobs, that might help.

      2. Token Archaeologist*

        THIS! Crying really should not be the big, bad deal that its made out to be. Its a normal, natural human reaction. When you said that you cried after you got that email my first thought was “of course you did. So would I. So HAVE I.” You just had the unfortunate reality of receiving the news at work, during office hours, in an open plan office. The last time I received bad news at work, and cried, I had the benefit of being able to shut my door. So you quietly shed some tears. It means you care about your job/the job you applied for and were genuinely disappointed not to get an interview. That is a positive, not a negative. Keep that knowledge in mind, do not be embarrassed by or apologize for the tears, and go get whatever feedback you can on why you were passed over. (Side note: There is a wonderful chapter on crying at work in the book Dear Madame President.)

        1. Anita Brayke*

          Thank you!! Shitty things happen at work all the time. When shitty things happen, sometimes we cry. It’s ok to cry! We’re human beings. Your mom died, you didn’t get the job you thought you wanted, and it’s okay to cry about any or all of that! Burying emotions is not good for you.

          I recommend a nice blanket on the couch in front of your favorite movie with your favorite beverage tonight, plus any animals or humans you deem helpful! Take care of yourself, Actually Mad!!!

    2. ThatGirl*

      I think, if you feel good about Sally overall, that it might help – and she may be able to give you advice or a recommendation for a different job. Maybe talk to Jill first if you trust/know her more.

    3. Lurker*

      I think that you can totally talk to Sally. I’d just frame it like “I was taken aback that I wasn’t in the pool of people you selected for an interview, and I’m hoping that you can give me some feedback on my application so I can put a stronger foot forward should another similar opportunity arise in the future”. That way it’s not about your feelings, but you’ll 1) potentially get useful information, 2) hopefully get a little closure, and 3) get it on their radar that you are serious about progressing. And I’m so sorry that you are having such a tough year – all the best!

      1. AVP*

        This is really good framing! Sally may have some specific advice on how you could be successful in the future that she’d be happy to give you – but doesn’t want to give out unsolicited because not everyone would welcome that. But if you would…go for it.

        1. Kate*

          I agree with this approach. I always think it makes sense to ask for feedback. (And like a previous commenter said, if the feedback is completely bogus – then you know you’ll be more valued elsewhere.) Also, I wanted to say that I’m sorry about your Mom. Take care of yourself.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            And specifically since Sally told The Actually Mad Scientist’s boss to have her come talk, I think she’d be more than willing to provide feedback.

            I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom, TAMS. Were you able to take any time off from work to grieve? I ask because, like was mentioned above, if you haven’t, that’s probably been affecting your performance more than you realize at the moment. Please give yourself some grace here – you weren’t being a child because you cried over a job, you cried because this was yet another thing you lost this year. Loss in general is hard and it’s natural to be upset. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, and please ask for feedback if you really do like your job and want to stay in it.

          2. Mockingbird 2*

            I agree— I was in a completely ridiculous situation with feedback last year and the more I asked for feedback (the feedback that would only be given passive-aggressively through evals and never to my face) from that person the more I realised it was bogus and there was NOTHING I could do to improve my standing with them even if I did take the actually-constructive things they had to say seriously. FWIW this was the only person at my job giving me negative feedback.

    4. NotaPirate*

      I would talk to Sally. Not in a why on earth was I not one of the lucky 6 from 45 question though. But as a chance to feel out how often this conversion is happening, how often are they going to roll over, is there specific qualifications they are looking for. Because these are the questions that will help you decide whether to job hunt or hang out in the same roll hoping for next time.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      4.5 years in that situation is ridiculous. Start looking for a new job if feasible. The responsible thing to do as a hiring manager in that situation is to either give all internal candidates an interview or explain to them one-on-one in person why they’re not getting an interview. Sending out a passive e-mail that all interview have been scheduled is a chickenshit way of handling the situation. Sally needs to step up and actually do her job, even when it’s awkward and unpleasant.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Actually, multi-year contracts are the new normal in the US – all gig economy all the time. And explaining to 30+ people why they’re not getting an interview is an unreasonable expectation. Employees are now expected to be proactive about their careers, not waiting for HR to come to them.

        TAMS, I’d talk to Sally, with the Lurker / NotaPirate scripts. Ask what would make you a stronger candidate next time, when that next time might come up, etc. You’re probably doing fine.

        I am very sorry for your loss.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Nope. Not at all.

          I’m in a similar field and it’s a huge red flag of a shitty company. And probably wouldn’t stand scrutiny to the contractor vs employee test if someone made a complaint.

          Also, explaining to 30+ people why they’re not getting an interview is part of the job of hiring for 6 roles from a pool of 45 internal applicants. Either TAMS’s manager or Sally should be having a conversation with them about why there weren’t selected for an interview. It’s poor management to not do so. I agree that TAMS should be proactive about their career. Proactively looking to get away from this terribly run place.

      2. Public Sector Manager*

        I agree. I have 20 people working for me and it wouldn’t take very long to tell them why they aren’t getting an interview. Plus, it would be important for retention of those contractors to have that conversation. It’s not a big ask, even if it’s 50 employees.

    6. Caroline*

      This is so hard The Actually Mad Scientist! First I would say, please be kind to yourself. You’ve had an incredibly tough year and even if you weren’t killing it at work, that would be OK! I know what it’s like to be a normally great employee who is finding it difficult to care anymore and I would say mostly it is a time-bound thing and you will find your mojo again.
      Secondly – if you do decide to talk to Sally (which I think I would do). I would recommend writing yourself a really clear script in advance about the specific things you want to know, and then practice it out loud. Hopefully that will help with managing your emotions in the meeting. Write down an opener, something like ‘Thanks for speaking to me. I was disappointed to hear that I had not been offered an interview for these positions despite my excellent performance reviews for X and Y projects. I am hoping you can give me some clarity on why this was the case?’
      Don’t over-explain or give lots of context, but instead look to Sally to give her perspective on it.
      I imagine she might try and fob you off with ‘there were lots of great candidates’ etc and in that case I would ask for some specific areas that you can work on to be considered next time around. Even if you decide you can’t stand to be there a moment longer I think it will still be helpful information for your next career move.

    7. Notthemomma*

      I think you should, not necessarily to plead for a spot, but to squelch the rumor mill. And clear the air. Address that you were upset, but you recognize that they had some hard decisions to make, that you did not realize how much you wanted it, but that the email hit you harder than you thought it would, but you do value a continuing good working relationship

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. If that ship has sailed, then your goal should be figuring out what you do next in the context of your job. If YOU are not going be doing that job, then where will you be going?

    8. Psyche*

      This is a hard one. If you were feeling ok emotionally, I think it would be a good idea to try to get some feedback about why you weren’t given the interview so that you can try to improve your odds in the future or decide to apply elsewhere and not waste your time (depending on the feedback). However, if you are already feeling emotionally fragile, it may simply make you feel worse. This is especially true if you end up crying and then are embarrassed. I doubt that there is anything they can say that will make you feel better about being passed over, so you need to decide if the chance that you might be able to strengthen future applications is worth the emotional toll the conversation will take.

    9. Lora*

      I would talk to Sally, but here’s how I would frame it:

      -You were hoping based on your experience with them that they would consider you for full time, do they have any feedback or guidance for you in the future? Will your temp position continue or is there some other insight they can provide for you? Since you’re a contractor, will you need to be looking for another contract soon? If you need to look for a new contract elsewhere, how do they want you to transition (laundry list of projects) to the new employees?

      -If she asks about crying, I would say “oh sorry my mom died recently, I was crying for a different reason” because this is understandable, nobody’s going to think less of you for that. Well monsters maybe, but they don’t count. If she doesn’t ask I wouldn’t mention it.

      I’m actually a FTE in my current role *because* I told them, “hey, as a contractor, I need to be on the lookout for other contracts all the time, and if you’re not going to offer me a full time role then I need to accept this other contract. The deadline for me accepting a different contract is (date). If you don’t let me know by 3pm on (date) whether you are going to bring me in full time or extend my contract, I will be going elsewhere.” They had me in mind for a couple of possible roles, and were dilly-dallying around for so long that it was literally 2:30 on (date) when they conjured up an offer letter. And they dragged their feet on when the first day as an FTE would be, too.

      In another job, I started as a contractor and was transferred under another boss who…somehow never let anyone else know I was a contractor. So I was treated as a full time employee, in a matrix-management organization, and wasn’t made full time until the other managers in the matrix realized I was a contractor because I had to tell them, “I cannot take on your project, I’m leaving on (date) as that’s the end of my contract.” Then the other managers were able to get me in full time – they literally never even thought to consider that I was anything other than a full time employee. Even the two managers who knew it, conveniently forgot, and only got upset when I had to tell them, look, you will have to work out an overtime agreement with the contracting firm – or make me full time salaried.

      In both cases there was a lot of “we had no idea you were handling ALL those tasks!” that drove them to insist I become full time. So it helps to go in armed with the list of things you are doing and what all would be involved in them losing you.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This: “I was frustrated at the email, and I’m glad to have a chance to discuss it. But my tears that day were for another reason — my mother died this year, and it still hits me hard on some days.”
        Then lead into some of the wonderful suggestions from the commentariat.

        Good luck ActuallyMadScientist… I lost my mom in 2016 and I had plenty of times with red eyes at the office in the first couple of years.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yes. Absolutely.

        There is a productive and, I would say, necessary conversation that needs to happen here.

        But it’s not about your feelings. It’s about your future with the role, and the plans you need to make to further your own career.

        Sally isn’t in charge of those things any more than she is responsible for your feelings. But she has the information you need to make good decisions.

    10. OtterB*

      Sally said (through Jill) that if you are upset about it, she’d like to talk to you. That doesn’t mean you have to, but I think you can take it at face value and talk to her. Your message is simply “Yes, I’m upset, because I like the company and my work, and all my feedback says I’m doing a good job, and I didn’t get an interview.” Possibly, you could go on to “I’d value any feedback about what I could do differently to position myself for the next opportunity like this.” But mostly then you listen to anything Sally has to say. It might not help your feelings in the least, but it might. And in general, more information is better than less information.

      BTW, I say this because Sally offered. If she hadn’t, I think you could have the conversation with Jill but not go direct to Sally.

    11. Ms.Vader*

      I’d talk to Sally. It may be that you are already a forerunner for the position and didn’t need an interview. Who knows! I wish you luck.

    12. gbca*

      I’m sorry, that must be so hard – I’d be really upset too. I do think you should 100% talk to Sally. If Sally said she wants you to talk to her, then definitely talk to her! If she didn’t think anything would come of the conversation she wouldn’t offer. And honestly it might even come off a little strangely if you don’t talk to her, now that she probably knows Jill told you that she wishes you would talk to her. She clearly feels there’s some value in the conversation, so it absolutely makes sense to have it.

    13. Zephy*

      First: I’m sorry for your loss.

      It sounds like the thing to work on here is how you feel, which sounds like a job for therapy. See if there’s a community mental health center in your area; if cost is a concern, they often have flexibility with pricing and payment. If you have insurance, your plan might include access to Teladoc or a similar telepractice service that includes mental health professionals. There are also apps like Meta and Talkspace; some of them are paid and others are free, but they connect you with a therapist via phone or text. I can’t personally vouch for them as I’ve never used them, but I know they exist as an option.

      Losing a parent is hard for anyone, and by your own admission, you haven’t really taken the time yet to process that grief in a healthy way. Talking to someone, even if it’s just about your mom and you don’t even get into the work stuff, is likely to help you feel at least a little better.

    14. Not A Manager*

      I don’t like this “are you upset/this will make you feel better” stuff. Of course as fellow humans your bosses don’t want you to suffer emotionally, but it’s not their job to manage your emotions AND it’s not your job to close the emotion loop by making them feel better about your experience.

      By all means talk to Sally, but talk to her about your performance and professional development, not about how Everyone Feels about the interview situation.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yep. Sally and Jill are being weirdly middle-school about it. Tell Jill to tell Sally to tell the rumor-monger to stick a sock in it.

    15. Meredith*

      I would frame it as, “Hey Sally, I think you heard I was upset about the interviews for the X positions. While I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t chosen for an interview after 4.5 years of what I believe to be good quality work, I understand you have 45 contractors in this role and it must be a hard decision with a lot of different considerations. I’d love to stay here though, ideally in a permanent position at some point, and see what you think I should work on to get to the level that could be considered for future openings.” Hopefully that moves it from the fact that you were crying and might be sore about not being picked to Sally understanding that you empathize with her decision process and are actually interested in feedback. Good luck!

      1. Artemesia*

        It doesn’t really matter if you talk to her or not. What is very clear is that you need to find another job even if the contractor role continues here. They have made it clear that they don’t value you; find someone who does. Take your time if the contractor role is to continue, but be gone when you get an offer that is attractive to you.

    16. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I think it’s worth it to talk to Sally if you feel you can handle it. You may learn more about what’s going on.

      I was turned down for a promotion that I fully deserved (to the point that someone who was promoted over me told me that she was baffled by what happened – turns out she was promoted as a way of trying to bribe her to stay, which failed miserably as she gave notice less than two months later) and I definitely teared up in the meeting with my manager while trying to explain where I was coming from. I don’t feel bad about it, especially when I was given feedback I’d never heard before in the 2.5 years I’d been there in said meeting.

      I gave notice the day the day after the promoted coworker. My new job is great. OP, you don’t have to stay in this position if you feel that you deserve better. Sometimes, even good jobs/companies turn into untenable situations.

    17. nonymous*

      my 2cents is that it is not Sally’s job to manage your feelings. However, it is part of Sally’s job to figure out how to keep a reasonable supply productive staff (direct employee or contractors) at minimum cost to the org. Lots of good tips for how to pitch that in the comments.

      But if it becomes obvious that this position is a dead end, I personally think that you need to prioritize networking and development opportunities which will allow you to take a different job when this contract ends. And you can definitely advocate for those opportunities even as a contractor. There’s a wide spectrum between “eff this place” and “I luuurve working here”. Perhaps now is the time for “Not a bad place to work while I gear up for NewThing”?

      1. DC*

        It’s also not TAMS’s job to manage Sally’s feelings. To me, this read as “Sally feels bad she made someone upset, and wants to talk to you to make herself feel better.” That’s not TAMS’s job. Sally is in a role where, yes, some people are going to be upset. The folks they say no to farther down the line will also be upset.

        Sally also didn’t handle this well, and that’s on Sally, not TAMS.

        1. i forget the name i usually use*

          YES – this is what I thought too. Sally feels bad that OP is upset, and “why didn’t they come talk to me” was her reaction, instead of having to deal with that she cannot make everyone happy. I think going and talking to Sally would just give Sally the chance to justify/try to talk OP out of being upset/argue with their feelings, even though they are totally within normal reactions to a disappointing career event.

          I wouldn’t go, I don’t think you’ll get any resolution out of it, just hot air.

          1. i forget the name i usually use*

            Also, it just occurred to me that Sally totally triangulated Jill right into this situation (a technique people use to diffuse their emotional discomfort with a situation by dragging a third party into it). Maybe it’s more appropriate, since Jill is OP’s manager, BUT then sending the message “you should have come talk to me” is sort of ironic, because that’s what Sally should have done in the first place too! ugh. This place sounds like sort of an emotional quagmire, especially if you’re also dealing with your own personal stresses like losing a loved one. I’m so sorry, OP.

        2. Public Sector Manager*

          Totally agree! And honestly, I wouldn’t go to the meeting.

          First, if it’s going to be a lot of hot air from Sally about how this was a difficult decision, about how there were a lot of qualified people who didn’t get the position, about how much you mean to the organization, etc., I’d pass. It’s all blowing smoke–we like you, just not enough to hire you.

          Second, why does TAMS need to be summoned to a meeting with Sally? Can’t Sally find TAMS and have the discussion? If this was my team, I would tell people in advance why they weren’t getting an interview. And if I didn’t for some reason and word got back to me like it did with Sally here, I’d find the person out. I wouldn’t go to their boss and say, “hey, if they want to meet to discuss, then let me know.”

          This is all being done to make Sally feel better.

    18. CM*

      I would wait a while, until you’re not feeling upset about it anymore — like, a long time, if you need to — and then ask Sally for feedback on your application. That’s the framing I use when I need to find out why I was rejected from something, because I want to figure out whether it’s worth applying again — just super calm, “I’m wondering if you have any feedback on my application. As I’m thinking about what I want to do in the future, it would be helpful to know if there are gaps in my experience, etc” or something like that.

      I 100% don’t think that talking to Sally will make you feel better, and that’s a weird thing to suggest. So, don’t go into the conversation thinking that it will comfort you — wait until you’re already calm and only want information.

      It also sounds like you’re being pretty hard on yourself about crying and feeling upset. There’s no reason to be ashamed of either of those things. It might be worth thinking more deeply about why you’re upset, because it might reveal unspoken beliefs. (For example: “I take for granted that everyone who works here understands we’re all desperate to move to the pharma side, so it was really callous for them to reject us with a form email.” That may or may not be something you believe, but it’s the kind of belief that, if you discover it, could help you re-frame the situation and decide things like, “I need to be more clear with my manager that my ultimate goal is to get one of the pharma jobs” or “I thought I was earning a pharma job with my efforts, but now that it seems that’s not true, do I still want to work here?”)

    19. Blueberry Girl*

      The part of this letter that concerns me is not whether you should talk to Sally or not. I think others have really done a great job with suggestions for that.

      I’m sort of concerned about your chose to “ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died.” I really think if you are struggling that it might behoove you to find a mental health professional to speak to. If you’re having a lot of trouble regulating emotions, than they might be able to help. Good luck!

    20. Aquawoman*

      First, I’m so sorry about your Mom, that has got to be difficult and reduce your ability to deal with other setbacks.
      I do think you should talk to Sally. (I actually think Sally should talk to you but that is apparently not going to happen). I think the fact that it came back that way suggests that Sally has something to say to you, and I think you would do well to hear what it is. I can think of a million things ranging from “you need to work on X” to “we have another role in mind for you,” but I think it will be useful.

      1. PharmaCat*

        I’m more cynical – Sally doesnt want any contractors to leave because of this selection, so of course she wants to reassure you. At 4.5 years with the company, this could be a political situation- maybe it has nothing to do with your skills, but with an assessment on relative flight risks among contractors.

    21. Harry*

      Yes, you should. You should never assume that the hiring manager knows what YOU want. Have you ever explicitly stated that you want to convert? I recently also had a contractor position open and after rounds and rounds of interview, I couldn’t find anyone I liked. Then one of my vendors asked to talk to me and said he was interested. Had he not reach out, I wouldn’t have known. Being that you were there for so long, they may simply assume you wanted to remain as a contractor.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      You’ve got more than one grief going on here at the same time. Personally, I probably blat like a baby if this happened to me. It’s a lot. A real lot.
      We can grieve lost jobs just as hard as we grieve losing a human out of our lives. Grief is cumulative and it compounds as it accumulates. So one thing happens and it’s an upset. The second thing happens and oh boy, this is a problem. Then if we are unfortunate enough to have another loss of some sort, it can work into a huge flippin’ deal.

      If grief counseling is not doable for you right now, please check out some grief books or a grief group. I did a grief group at church and I thought, “What have I gotten into? How is being around sad people going to help ME?” It was wonderful. I could not wait to go each week. Everyone was so sweet and it just felt so safe there.
      There’s a lot to learn about the grieving process such as the causes of grief (losing a job can be on a par with a funeral); the stages of grief (I am sad then I am angry then I am sad, what’s up?); and the symptoms of grief (why can’t I keep track of my car keys anymore???).

      I think you should go talk to Sally. You have nothing to lose as you feel yourself sliding to the door right now. This cannot get much worse than it already is.


      It’s been my experience when someone reaches out for me during a difficult period in my life that I need to go talk with this person. Yeah, you run the risk of being shot down again. I am thinking that won’t happen here. I am thinking that she was truly touched that you were so upset. Rather than chasing you down, she is being gracious and letting you set the pacing here. It strikes me that this is not an easy conversation to have and I am wondering if she has something to tell you that you do not know.

      I think it is fine to set up a time to see her. I even think it’s fine to show up with not too much to say. Actually saying less will be easier on you as you can focus on listening. You can open with, “I heard you wanted to talk with me…”, and let your voice trail off. Yeah, let her do the work in this conversation. For me, I would tend to think that the onus is on her to carry the conversation. Perhaps this is mean spirited on my part, but there is a practical side where I know it is best for me not to talk too much. So letting her carry the bulk of the conversation would not bother my soul at all. At the end, I would say, “Thank you for your time.” Then leave the office.

      You can come back next Friday and tell us how it went.

    23. juliebulie*

      I think you should go to Sally (although if she were capable of acting like a grownup she would have gone to you first instead of Jill). Maybe it will make you feel better and maybe it won’t, but at least you won’t wonder what she was going to say.

      She may have had an interesting reason for not choosing you. Like, maybe she was planning to choose you for something else that she knows is coming up soon. Or, she might have been under the impression that you weren’t interested in becoming a FTE. In that case, it will have been a worthwhile conversation.

      On the other hand, maybe she’ll say that she hates your face and wouldn’t hire you for anything, ever. If so, you’ll know it’s time to find a new job. So… still a worthwhile conversation.

      Maybe she’ll babble a lot of self-serving baloney and then, again, you’ll know it’s time to look for a new job. Still a worthwhile conversation!

    24. Junior Assistant Peon*

      There’s no future in pharma. Merck, Wyeth, Schering-Plough, etc used to be great places to work until the 2000s, when Wall Street decided that 10 years to develop a new drug might as well be a hundred years, and most of the scientists got Pfired. Try to get into polymers, coatings, adhesives, or something along those lines, or you’re going to waste your life working crappy temp jobs at the remaining pharma companies.

  4. Temp Agencies Question*

    Hi everyone! I’ve been looking into working with a temp/staffing agency for a career shift, and I’m having a hard time telling which one I should select. Does anyone have any tips for evaluating a good staffing agency?

    In the past, I worked with some who took my resume and information, but I never heard from them again. I’d get an email every year as my resume account passed from employee to employee (Hi I’m Fergus! I’m your new contact!) and then they’d go silent again.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      I’ve had good luck in the past with national chains – Spherion is where I was, but I know people who’ve had good luck with Adecco and Kelly Services.

      1. Miss Fisher*

        I started out with Adecca back in 2009 and was supposed to be at that specific job for 1 month, a year and half later, I was hired on at the company and have been there ever since in various roles. I think it depends on the kind of work you want. Some are geared more towards office roles and others more towards labor intensive work. With adecco even, certain job types are available at the various locations in the city. So you need to specify job type wanted or go through a certain location. I went to a different place before this, I don’t remember the name, but the experience wasn’t the best. They did help me with my resume but the job they sent me to was cold calling big named companies like WWE, MTV etc to find out info on the bigwigs. I lasted one day and then they never got back to me.

    2. Natalie*

      It’s pretty normal to work with multiple agencies, in my experience. I don’t know that I’d limit myself to just one.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This is what I was gonna say; when I was job searching I was registered with roughly ten different agencies.

      2. Former staffer*

        As someone who worked at a national chain as a staffing specialist, I can tell you that it was rare that our best temps worked only with us. Because they did well, we did our best to keep them as busy as they wanted to be so they were earning us a good reputation as well as themselves until they were usually hired away (if that was there goal.)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The only thing I’d point out is that if you can get into a temp agency that still offers health benefits to long-term temps, you’re more likely to reach the required number of workdays if you’ve been going through one agency (at least primarily).

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Agree with the others that you should work with multiple agencies. If you are in a large-ish city with a lot of agency options AND you have a better than average resume, I suggest working with smaller boutique firms instead of the big chains. They tend to have more of a personal touch and won’t forget you the minute you walk out the door. Work with the ones that actually respond to your communications and seem organized. You can generally get a vibe when you visit the office for an interview.
      Oh! A random tip – you will probably be tested on Microsoft office functions. Many agencies use the same or similar tests. I recommend going to an agency you don’t plan to use first to take the test. That way you can see what you got wrong so you can ace it when you go to an agency you really want to work with.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        It’s funny you say this. Back in the day when I went to OfficeTeam looking for work, they made me do the Microsoft Office test, and I bombed it because I was so used to using shortcuts that the system didn’t test on. My recruiter called me back and told me she’d be sending me a link with practice exams for the main test – she told me to do the practice tests for each application and then take the tests immediately after so I wouldn’t forget, then she’d submit my new scores to companies along with my resume.

        So I did the Excel practice exam (which was me basically going through the recruiter’s screenshots and practicing in the application itself), then took the real exam and passed. Did the same for Word and then PowerPoint. Passed those, too (blew Word out of the water). And sure enough, my recruiter called back and told me I aced the tests and she would be sending me on a job shortly. I ended up being placed by them and then a month later, I was hired onto the company I temped for as a full time employee with a promotion to boot.

        So, yes – definitely practice Microsoft skills!

        1. Temp Agencies Question*

          Ugh, I had this happen years ago. It was during or right after the recession and they gave me a test on Microsoft Office 95. Which I had never used, because I was 24 and I was too young.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yeah, my experience happened in 2009. I’ll give the recruiters at OfficeTeam credit, though – they did not have to let me retest or give me practice exams to go through to pass. They must have really sensed my desperation for a job, ANY job, lol.

    4. These Old Wings*

      I tried doing this back in the spring and got ghosted by 3 separate agencies. I agree with not limiting yourself and signing up with as many as you can and hopefully one of them will work out.

    5. DaniCalifornia*

      Are there any staffing agencies that specialize in the field you want to enter? I’m an admin and although all staffing agencies say they always need admin, I found that using one specifically geared towards experienced EAs, Office Managers in my area (Robert Half/Office Team) worked better for me. They have been wonderful about looking for a direct hire position and keep in touch.

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

        +1 to see if there is a staffing agency that specializes in your field, or the field that you want to move into. Early in my career I worked through Aquent which (at the time, I have no idea now) specialized in creative talent like graphic design, videography and photography. They were really great to work for and I had a variety of long- and short-term placements with interesting projects in many different industries.

        Whatever agency you do use though, it’s been my experience that it’s up to you to check in with them frequently and ask for assignments, not just submit a resume and wait for their call. I did some work through Kelly Services and they wanted me to call in weekly to let them know I was available. If I didn’t call, they assumed I wasn’t available and didn’t assign me.

    6. Gdub*

      I used to be the person at the temp agency who sent people on assignments, and I would advise you to register with multiple agencies. If one starts using you all the time right away, great! But this way you’ll be covered. There’s a big “luck of the draw” factor in sending folks out, so you might as well be in as many drawings as possible!

    7. detaill--orieted*

      Most of my temping has been relatively low-level, but from what I’ve seen — 1) What they said, working with more than one agency is normal. 2) At least for lower-level jobs, the expectation is that the job-seeker is hungry, you keep contacting the agency to see whether anything has come up, they don’t contact you. (This unpleasant dynamic may no longer be true, not apply in your situation?) 3) By *far* the best experience I had was with an agency that specialized in the kind of work I did — at that point, graphic design and production. They understood what a good placement was, they understood the tools and skills they were placing, and when an issue came up I felt like they were on my side.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Your #2 is what I was going to say — back in the 90s I did a lot of temp receptionist work, but they didn’t send me out for a long time, because I was untested! So I called every morning to see if there was anything available, and eventually the temp agency’s receptionist was going on vacation herself, and she recommended me! From then on, I was as busy as I wanted to be.

    8. Jadelyn*

      Depends on what field you’re in. I’ve had good experiences with Robert Half companies – specifically Accountemps and OfficeTeam. My partner, who’s a machinist, has had good experiences with Aerotek.

      The biggest thing I’d look for is how involved do they get right off? Do they just take your resume and that’s it? Do they have you come in and do a basic interview with them so they can get a better idea of your skills so they can “pitch” you to roles that will suit? If they get you interviews at companies, do they support you in that? The guy at Aerotek, when he called to let my partner know he’d scheduled an interview, went over my partner’s resume with him and noted a couple things he was pretty sure the company would ask, so that my partner would be prepared to answer.

      Also, at some agencies, they expect you to stay in touch, checking in with them periodically to see if they have anything, and if you don’t do that, they’ll assume you found a regular job and won’t reach out to you with anything. Ask about that when you first get on their roster.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Do not limit yourself to any one group, that’s for sure!

      It will depend drastically on your area and the team they have at any given agency.

      I have had great luck with Robert Half, Office Team/AccounTemps but other areas their offices are awful and sparse. The agencies are only as good as their local team. So cast a wide net and talk to lots of people.

      Some hiring folks prefer one and go to that one, so you never know which is the “hot” agency in town until you start seeing the placements you get.

      You need to be in constant contact with them at first, to get noticed and get placed. Don’t just put in resumes and wait. This is the only time you should really follow up because they’re recruiters and specializing in placements, they aren’t like hiring managers at a company that’s hiring perm placements.

    10. HR Disney Princess*

      I’m going through the same thing! I chose Robert Half as I have a relative who works there and was placed rather quickly. Spherion is good, but so are other more regional/ local ones. The nice things with agencies is that they tend to accept phone calls easier. You could always try calling them after applying to let them know you are looking to make a career change. Sometimes if the job doesn’t look like an immediate fit, they won’t reach out. It will happen for you, it may just take time.

      I actually have an interview this afternoon for a temp position in a new department. I’m very excited. Best of luck!!!!

    11. Kiwiii*

      Besides figuring out if they actually offer the sort of work you’re interested in (of like 5 staffing agencies, only 1 in my hometown does anything besides factory work), there’s not a lot that you can do to ensure they’ll be responsive or have jobs that fit. In the initial application stage, I would ask if they have anything in mind for me/jobs that might be a good fit, and then if I haven’t heard anything definitive from them in the next couple days, I’d apply to the next one.

      Also, some really terrible staffing agencies are sometimes the only contract with really cool jobs — my last staffing agency screwed up my paycheck multiple times, couldn’t keep a receptionist and tricked me into working as one for them at random without checking that my schedule was clear (they’d call me in to talk about an opportunity and then be like “oh your meeting isn’t scheduled until 11AM, you’ll be working reception until then), and ended up firing the woman who recruited me for embezzlement, but the /job/ I got sent on through them was one of my favorites, with incredibly lovely managers and coworkers, really interesting work, and tons of industry connections.

    12. Mid*

      I think it depends on your field. However, i personally had an amazing experience with Robert Half, specifically their Legal department. I would ask around the field you’re looking to get into and see what agencies are used commonly.

  5. rageismycaffeine*

    I just posted this in today’s “five questions” comments, but it occurs to me it would be better here.

    I have a Director title under an Executive Director. Think Director of Teapot Research under the Executive Director of Teapot Services. Over time, it’s become clear that I’m more accurately the assistant director of Teapot Services, as my job duties have expanded past the Research role – but this does look like a step back, even though it’s really an expanded responsibility, so we haven’t done it yet.

    Any thoughts on this? Does it fall into the same category as “just make your responsibilities clear on your resume”?

    1. Cube Ninja*

      I might suggest “Deputy Director” might be more fitting than “Assistant Director”, depending on your organizational structure and if that title is workable. I think it confers a stronger sense that you’re a bit more senior, but ultimately, I also think it’s semantics and your accomplishments will speak more to your role than specific duties for the role.

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Oh, interesting thought! I’m honestly not sure if “deputy director” is even a thing here, but it’s worth exploring!

    2. Moray*

      Personally, I wouldn’t walk back a higher-sounding title unless you anticipated future promotions within the same company.

      1. Mazzy*

        I agree with Cube above. Deputy Director is actually still a good title, and I’d respect a coworker much more if they were honest about their title.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I think it looks like a step up — from directing a small area to being #2 of the whole thing. I wouldn’t worry about appearances on that front.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Yes, this is where I land, too. Second in command is more important overall, just be sure it’s clear from duties how significant your responsibilities are.

    4. LizzE*

      Curious, is this more like you are doing dual roles versus just one? My friend is both a program director for the nonprofit she works at and the assistant director for facility operations. Basically, she leads all programmatic areas and everyone who works on the programmatic side is under her line of supervision, but she is also the #2 person onsite, reporting to the facility director and is in charge when he is not around (hence her second assistant director title).

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Hm, I guess it is kind of a dual role situation, but my workplace definitely doesn’t do dual titles.

        1. pen mouse click*

          Could you do Associate Director of Teapot Services?

          That’s how I’ve seen most of my companies upgrade you – associate, specialist, senior specialist, manager, senior manager, associate director, director, senior director, VP, senior VP, c-suite.

  6. Sleepy*

    I have a question about title creep—am I unreasonable to be annoyed by it?

    I work at a small nonprofit with a very flat management structure. Most people have the title of “Program Manager.”

    Three *very* part-time employees, who each work less than 10 hours / week, have requested to also receive the title of “Program Manager”. I find this pretty silly because they simply are not managing their own programs or taking on that level of responsibility. However, my boss tends to give employees whatever title they ask for because she thinks of it as a way of compensating employees without actually raising their salary.

    I feel burned by title creep because several years ago, my boss promoted one of my subordinates to Program Manager; I took this to mean that the new Program Manager should have more responsibility and autonomy over her work. I delegated a number of important tasks to her that I would normally have taken on. I didn’t realize until much later that she thought she was only receiving a new title, but not new responsibilities, and she didn’t perform any of the tasks I delegated to her.

    Part of me knows that handing out titles is a good way to keep people happy at a nonprofit that can’t give out big raises, so I’m not sure if I’m being unreasonable to insist that titles should relate carefully to the responsibilities involved.

    1. Mainely Professional*

      You’re frustrated because you’re experiencing “title compression” the way other people might experience salary compression. It is annoying, and it devalues the work of full time employees.

      1. Mazzy*

        I complained about this a few weeks ago, it is really annoying, I’d suggest talking to management now before they hand out more fancy titles

        1. Kate*

          It is annoying – and annoying when senior leaders don’t see how it rubs more senior employees the wrong way. When you suggest future new roles should have appropriate titles – you could also suggested bumping Program Managers who have direct reports to a more senior title. “Director of Program Management” or “Senior Program Manager” or something along those lines.

    2. Memyselfandi*

      My previous employer (a small non-profit with a fair number of part-timers) went through a rigorous process of building a graded series of position titles with associated responsibilities and competencies for all positions. It was enormously helpful to everyone and cleared up a lot of gray areas. There were still occasionally inconsistencies (often due to grant requirements) but not only did it give people a clear description of their position that could be communicated both internally and externally, but it also provided a pathway for advancement within the organization. That helped the organization maintain and grow, always a challenge for non-profits. I encourage you to promote something of the sort. Where I currently work the job titles are really horrible and outdated (and not going to change soon) so we are encouraged to develop functional titles. That’s another option to make people feel better about what the do when everyone has the same job title.

      1. Effective Immediately*

        I’m trying to get my current org to do this, and I’d love to know how leadership at your former place came to this decision.

        I’ve even tried writing one out myself that they could work from, and…nothing.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          One place to start is if you’re in an industry that has a professional licensing and/or certification body – many of those associations have job titles and responsibility listings that show what each level of an organization should look like and what each role should do. For example, my (now incorrect) job title was taken from the APMP’s Salary Guide that showed typical proposal development titles and job duties (my role was newly created at the company this year) as was my dotted line manager’s title (his role was also newly created). If your company belongs to any association like that, you may suggest they look for an association-approved salary guide for help in determining appropriate titles for staff.

      2. Kraziekat*

        My google fu is failing, so I’m hoping for some advice. I’m being invited to interview for a position where I would be doing inside sales support AND receptionist, basically, 2 rolls in one. I have more experience as a receptionist (the less paying job) and only limited experience as sales support, so my thought is to look at the two, going by their bottom pay range and average them out. I don’t want to give numbers, but it’s actually smack in the middle of the receptionist range, but well below the sales support range. Is this fair to both parties?

    3. Blarg*

      It’s annoying, but can you get it on it? If your subordinates and very part timers are project managers, aren’t you a senior project manager or project director or VP of project management? May not come with more money or any actual changes, but at least gets you a new email signature and some small satisfaction… and a seeming promotion for resume time.

    4. Yorick*

      I don’t think you’re unreasonable. There’s no reason the woman you talked about should have thought she was getting a better title but didn’t have to do any new work, especially when they were delegated to her.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s true. I originally read it as the boss gave out the title of Program Manager but specifically meant it to cover what that person already did, instead of a promotion to a higher responsibility job per the title change (but probably not salary). Either way, I hope that employee was corrected pretty quickly for just not doing work as assigned.

        Arbitrary title handouts don’t help anyone – not inside the company where people will be confused over which Program Managers can actually do program management, and outside the company when some of these PMs might get interviews but are far underqualified for actual PM work.

    5. Sleepy*

      Thank you for the comments, everyone! I will definitely speak to my boss about it now that I know I’m not alone in thinking this is frustrating.

    6. i forget the name i usually use*

      Wow, the employee did not handle that well either! “Not my job, but I’m not going to say anything, I just won’t do certain tasks I am assigned” is not a good train of thought to have people find out you’ve gone through…

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Inflating titles to make up for low pay is a terrible practice! NO ONE is well served by doing this. Even if the employee thinks the title sounds grand, if they leave they won’t really have the skills if they have truly been doing program management. If you serve clients, they might think they’re getting a senior person, and it’s not the case.

  7. Yogurt pants*

    I’m having issues dealing with a coworker and would like some advice. Aside from them, everything else is adequate so I am not looking to leave–just find ways to deal with said coworker.

    For background, I am a manager in a new department in a company I’ve been working in for 5 years. I was promoted to a manager in that new department and 2 others were promoted alongside me (Nancy and George). I started at entry level and this was my first job. Each of us manager in this department has a counterpart in another department that we work closely with. So, like, Teapot design vs Teapot construction. Im Yorba in teapot design and I work closely with Alex in teapot construction, Nancy works closely with Ronald in TC and George works closely with Elizabeth in TC and so on and so forth.

    George works in a diff location but visits every 2 weeks and works closely with one of the VPs. Since it’s a new department, we’re developing a lot of processes and have weekly meetings to make sure everything is running smoothly. Occasionally, I’m tasked to do something for the other two teams including my own. Generally, the culture is to help each other out and be team players. George and Nancy have about 2 decades of work experience combined more than I do. I have more institutional knowledge and leadership experience but not as much work or field experience as they do.

    The issues are that George is combative and throws us under the bus. They occasionally do things out of left field that if I do them, I get pounded (not literally but you know what I mean hopefully) for them in front of my boss and grandboss. For misunderstandings, George gets a quick explanation from my boss and all is well, but if I misunderstand, George goes in–condescending lectures, multiple msgs etc. This is done in front of Nancy and sometimes my boss & grandboss. I know for a fact that George is telling the VP he works closely with that “Yorba’s an idiot and can’t do her job, her bosses suck too.” Even my bosses think George is going overboard.

    Since I still consider myself “new” i’m trying to find the line between being helpful and overstepping. There was an incident a while ago where multiple people were needing help and I came up with a solution that would help everyone; George didn’t like it and I apologized for overstepping. I apologized and made sure to not do it again.

    Another example of the combativeness is that we are in the middle of implemetning phase 1 of a project that involves moving a task from TC to TD. We did a test run a few weeks ago and I was tasked with making sure all teams were involved and aware. I had verbal and written confirmation that everyone was aware of what we were doing. Cut to now, and this week George sent a message to our group chat saying there’s no communication because the people in TC are surprised that their task is being taken away. This was alarming to all of us, including my g-boss and the rest of the day was spent scrambling to have an urgent meeting, write up a manual etc. This was frustrating because I had properly communicated EVERYTHING to the relevant people. Blame wasn’t pointed at any specific person but seeing as how I had a role in the project, it was easy to feel like I was being called out. However, the core issue lay in George’s counterpart in Teapot construction not communicating properly–which I can totally sympathize with.

    I have been trying to deal by putting myself in George’s shoes–if I worked separately, and my team lead counterpart Elizabeth wasn’t communicating well with me, I would be frustrated as well, but I would have handled it differently than George has so far. At this point I feel like I have done everything to the best of my ability. I generally try to be self reflective and talk to people I trust if I have any doubts–if I do make a mistake, I will apologize and fix myself to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, such as in the ex above. I know this type of attitude is not good at work, but at this point I don’t want to speak to them directly and definitely not go out of my way to help; unfortunately this is against our company culture.

    1. solarpc*

      I think you need to stick up for yourself. It looks like George has some leeway with some people but you also have your own bosses who are seeing this behavior. The email example would have been a good moment to forward over his email (with everyone CC’d) and remind him that everyone was informed and any concerns should have been addressed previously.

      Is he just doing this to you or does he do this to other people? There needs to be a conversation where your bosses talk to George about his attitude and behavior and you should be pushing for it.

      1. Artemesia*

        Wow. So this. George is an active menace to your career and apologizing is fueling him like warm water fuels a hurricane. When he asserted that these people were ‘surprised’ you should have gotten very aggressive about re-circulating to the bosses he was complaining to the information that had been sent and I might have noted that it is dysfunctional for someone to go off half cocked without reviewing the information first. George was notified on August XX of the change as were his entire staff; perhaps he overlooked this information but he might want to review the information before making reckless charges about other departments and managers. Time to play some hardball with this guy or be his eternal patsy; he is trying to get you fired.

        1. Yogurt pants*

          Well — aside from George being weird about this stuff, to clarify, these changes were on the other team (Teapot Construction). I had communicated to their mgmt, but their mgmt didn’t communicate with the team which indirectly affected George. There are management issues on that side, but that’s not my place to interfere as they are under my grandboss.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Could you have done a Reply All saying something like, “It’s unfortunate that the TC team was taken by surprise since the change was communicated to their management on X-date (see email below)”?

        2. i forget the name i usually use*

          Oof yeah. He is playing a different, meaner game than you, and “putting yourself in his shoes” is wayyy more emotional energy than he is spending on you.

          I also think it’s time to stop thinking of yourself as new!

      2. Mazzy*

        Yes. It’s not unprofessional to say “you got mad when I did X, then you did X, and I don’t see the situations as being different.”

      3. Yogurt pants*

        Any tips on how I can do that? Whenever anything happens, I just freeze, and think really hard if there’s any merit to it and if there is, fix myself so I don’t make that mistake again. I try to take the high road and be diplomatic as possible and avoid throwing snark right back. I’m coming from a position of having less experience, so I have to prove myself way more than the others.

        I thought he was doing it to just me, but in this recent example, it was really directed to all of us. George could have easily privately spoken to my boss (who’s also his boss, George and I are PEERS) and said “hey boss, my counterpart in TC is not responsive to me or communicating info to their team” rather than blasting us and saying that no one communicates. My boss had the confirmation but we had to proceed with the meetings and manuals etc so that everyone is on the same page.

        I guess if I reflect on it, my attempts to help were seen as overstepping, but..I’m in a rock and hard place. If something comes up and I KNOW HOW TO HELP but don’t, my grand-boss will look at me and wonder why I’m not helping, whereas if I DO help, I risk George doing the same. So, damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

        1. Mama Bear*

          If you and George have the same boss, go to that boss and talk to them. “I’ve noticed that when…It’s making it difficult to…I’ve tried….I’m asking for your assistance with…since it is impacting my career/work.”

          You might also consider calling George out at the time. “My experience with x is that we should do y. I realize this may not be what you are used to doing, but I find this works well. I respectfully ask that you take time to consider this idea. The negativity is not warranted here.” Or “I don’t understand why you are being negative about my idea, George. Based on x and y, this is a valid path forward.”

          I wonder – does George feel threatened by you?

          1. Yogurt pants*

            I honestly cannot imagine why he would feel threatened by me. They have 15 years more experience than I do in both the work that we do and in leadership. I really considered them someone I could trust and learn from.

            1. Atlanta*

              This is exactly why he might feel threatened. Someone with 15 fewer years of experience who is nonetheless a peer could be deeply threatening. You are not responsible for those feelings (if they exist) and it is not your fault in any way, but he may feel like he should be “above” you in seniority.

              I agree with Mama Bear’s idea of calling him out but I’d maybe say something more like “Oh, do you see problems with my approach? What are they? Why?” If he is threatened then I think it might not be helpful to dwell on your experiences rather than his. If you try to co-opt him as a resource he might feel less able to attack you.

              1. Yogurt pants*

                When we first got promoted, I did see him as a resource, exactly for this reason–after a few conversations, I heard (and I have 100% reason to believe this is true) they were telling the VP that I don’t know anything about what I’m doing.

                I’m not interested in being a threat to anyone or play in dirty politics, I just want to do my job with reasonably pleasant people and not wanting to feel like I’m gonna flip a table. (not literally of course).

        2. Dusty Bunny*

          In my opinion, there can be problems with taking the high road, because the squeakier wheel (George) gets the most attention. At least, this has been my experience in corporate life. I have learned to combat my own Georges with transparency, documentation, and as much as I can manage it, a calm demeanor. When I am the source of confusion or screw up, I own up to it, and work to fix it.

          If my George is ranting about something, I try to maintain a very calm, even tone, kind of how you would with a child throwing a tantrum. Not condescending, but calm, neutral. Just the facts. And I am able to produce documentation on all sorts of things, because I put it in writing. My MO is – if it was only a conversation, then it never happened.

          This has produced two effects over time . 1) I am known as a resource for correct information; and 2) Even though I am not very far up the food chain, my word carries weight with my boss and grandboss, because they see that I play fair.

          My only other thought is even if it is not your team, but it impacts your team and you know how to improve the situation, share it. You can frame as in the spirit of communication, teamwork, selling more teapots; whatever makes sense. But don’t let the Georges of the world have any ammo along the lines of… “and she knew how we could improve this, but never said anything! Hoarding information! Sabotaging us all! Just waiting for us to fall on our faces!”

          I would like to tell you this level of insight came along in my first job. Nope. About 10 years deep into a career when I finally realized, maybe, just maybe, my reaction is sometimes the problem.

          1. Angry with numbers*

            Yes, document everything, I have certain people who I send a “per our conversation” emails to regularly because if I don’t have proof they will throw me , and anyone else, under the bus if you don’t have proof you were only doing what they asked.

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            This is really important. I had a workplace bully. She was in her early 20s when I was in my early 30s, and I really didn’t have any inclination to get involved in Mean Girls garbage in the workplace as an adult, so I didn’t.

            Months and months of her spewing poison about me behind my back, however, meant that whatever labels she’d invented for me stuck, and my ability to move forward in the company was badly hamstrung. Even after she took another job, dropped herself down to uber-part time, and went completely incommunicado so we spent months struggling to figure out what happened while also keeping up with her workload, she was the “good” one and I was the “awful” one.

    2. NW Mossy*

      How’s your relationship with your own boss? Would you feel comfortable going to them and asking for some advice on how to deal with George? An opener I might use here is “I’d like to get your thoughts on how I can work more productively with George going forward. I’m finding that in situations where things aren’t going well (like the recent communication issue with Elizabeth on the phase 1 rollout), he gets pretty worked up and is sending messages saying that X or Y is the cause before we’re sure that’s the case. I take his concerns seriously and want to fix things where I can, but I’m not sure what else I can or should do to defuse his reactions. What do you think?”

      The benefits of this are twofold: one, it names an issue you’re having (rocky working relationship with George) so they’re aware of it, and two, you can often get some useful insight that will help you frame what to do next. Since it sounds like George’s rapid-escalation behavior impacts your bosses too, there’s a good chance that they’ll nod in agreement and say “yup, George goes to 11 when a 3 will do, we know this, don’t worry that his dramatics are reflecting poorly on you.”

      1. Yogurt pants*

        I have a good relationship with him. Im comfortable with him. He’s on leave right now and will be out for another month. But he knows that George goes overboard and the issues I’m having. He has given me advice but also wants me to be more independent and develop my own judgment on these things so I’m trying to rely on him less. Last thing I want to do is go to my grandboss about it.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Who is acting for your boss? Even if your boss wants you to handle it on your own, it may be good to make a paper trail detailing what happened when, especially if George is a blocker or his behavior caused problems (like poor communication = mad scramble).

        2. NW Mossy*

          Ah, that helps! In that case, I’d pivot to make it more of an “I intend to do X and Y when this happens, cool with that?” approach. It’s marking the issue and that you’ve got a plan, but also inviting feedback on it. For the specifics here, I’d aim for something like “I’m going to focus on acknowledging George’s input where warranted, but brushing it off where it isn’t – I think I’ve apologized more than I need to and it’s undercutting my credibility.”

          Developing independence and judgment as a leader is great and necessary, but that doesn’t mean you completely stop asking for input. I’ve been leading people for years but still solicit my boss’s input on some of the thornier interpersonal dynamics because I respect her take and she gives me great counsel.

    3. Close Bracket*

      Gee, a double standard regarding behavior with respect to a dude and a lady person. I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

      Stop apologizing for your behavior, first. If George’s complaints have substance to them, address the substance of his complaints publicly without apologizing. Talk about solutions and what you will do differently going forward.

      You say you have a good relationship with your manager, so address George’s tone privately with him. Since he wants you to come up with solutions on your own, talk about what you are trying and what the results are and ask for suggestions. Don’t be too afraid to go to your grandboss. I get that you don’t want to go to them first, but don’t rule them out, either. Also don’t be afraid to go to George’s boss with complaints.

      Finally, watch your own reactions. This:
      Blame wasn’t pointed at any specific person but seeing as how I had a role in the project, it was easy to feel like I was being called out. However, the core issue lay in George’s counterpart in Teapot construction not communicating properly
      You felt called out, but you know who the person was who was not communicating properly, and it was not you. Don’t be so quick to feel called out when the problem is not with you.

      Good luck

      1. Yogurt pants*

        Thank you, that’s helpful!

        Btw, I switched the genders to be more anonymous. But George and I are the same gender. I’m not sure if that affects anything.

      2. Fortitude Jones*


        Stop apologizing for your behavior, first. If George’s complaints have substance to them, address the substance of his complaints publicly without apologizing. Talk about solutions and what you will do differently going forward.

        And this:

        You felt called out, but you know who the person was who was not communicating properly, and it was not you. Don’t be so quick to feel called out when the problem is not with you.

        George is not your father and should not be publicly scolding you or anyone else like he is. Conversely, you do not have to fall on the sword for others at work. Calmly and rationally discuss where any communication breakdowns may have occurred, yes, but as quoted, do not get defensive and start apologizing for things you had nothing to do with.

        1. Yogurt pants*

          Well….I apologized because it actually was a mistake on my part. Multiple people had needed help with something, and I came up with a solution that appeased everyone involved. However, that solution was bypassing the process that’s set in place. I think I had good intentions but essentially I was stepping on another manager’s toes which I can see is not appropriate. I figured, that was a mistake of mine, and learn from it–so one thing I’m still learning is how to draw the line between overstepping and being helpful.

          (Prior to that incident, someone had complained that I brushed them off by telling them to talk to their manager so I over corrected and ten this happened with George).

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I get this, but when dealing with someone like George, it’s best not to give them any further ammunition to use against you. Explain your thought process and then note that, next time, you will go back through the proper steps, but don’t be quick to self-flagellate in front of him.

            1. Yogurt pants*

              I agree with that — don’t want to give further ammunition. My default has always been “you messed up? own up to it and don’t do it again.” but never considered that some people do not deserve the apology.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Exactly. Reasonable people with reasonable responses to mistakes? Absolutely apologize to those people. But people like George? Nah, he’ll be alright.

    4. Aquawoman*

      You have been in the company/industry for 5 years, you have more leadership experience than George, the company promoted you — you deserve it and are qualified for it. Please, I beg you, stop with the “I’m new, I need to prove myself” thing. You HAVE proven yourself. The more deferential you are, the more George is going to push your boundaries. And you’re making yourself responsible for “managing” George, which isn’t your responsibility and won’t work anyway.

      You are worried about looking bad for the “communication” issue but GEORGE is the one who made that into a fire drill, HE is the one who should look bad. (His) overreacting like that is not helpful. I think in the moment, you could say, “George, I did communicate this to your counterpart in TC, as you can see by the attached email/message. Maybe we should all take a breath and loop her in to see what the real issue is.” For tone stuff, you’d be amazed at how much traction you can get with people if you say “I feel like you’re lecturing me.” Not everyone, and George may be the exception, but it’s worth a try, even if for your own. Or, if it’s front of a group, you can say something like, “I think it would help to dial down the intensity and focus on the issues” or something like that. Most people don’t enjoy unpleasantness. Some of this I learned from a program called “Respectful Confrontation,” run by a guy named Joe Weston, which literally changed my life.

    5. LilySparrow*

      George isn’t attacking you because you are incompetent or new. They are trying to undermine and paralyze you because they see you as a direct threat to their seniority and their job.

      You have to quit apologizing to George, and quit being scared of George’s temper tantrums.

      That is exactly all they are: displays of anger and aggression in order to intimidate you.

      Don’t react immediately, don’t default to snark. You’re quite right about that.

      But when you do respond, assert your own knowledge, and your own authority. You and George are equals. If George has something useful to contribute, that you could honestly learn from, then George can put on their big-kid pants and communicate like a grownup and a professional.

      When George lies about you not doing your job right (which is what the group chat incident boils down to), correct them. And if they do it in a group chat, correct them in front of the group.

      “George, you are mistaken. This plan was first communicated to X on (date), with follow-up discussions on (dates). If you have an issue in communicating with X, you need to take it up with them.”

      I imagine George has issues getting information from a lot of people, because nobody else wants to talk to them any more than you do.

      1. pcake*

        This – exactly this!

        And since you freeze up when he bullies you, spend some time at home and figure out what to say in that situation in advance. Then think about it till you have it firmly in your head. That way, you’ll be ready with a reply when it happens again.

        I’d point out that he doesn’t react the same when other people make mistakes as when I do, and I’d very much appreciate my mistakes being dealt with in a professional manner. I would also remind him that he’s not my boss, and I’d say these things whether or not others were present. All said in a firm, stern but not at all hostile voice.

        If George lies or misleads, point that out immediately. Again, calmly but sternly, not accusing or hostile.

        If you can add specific facts, do so. And after each incident, write an email to yourself with the date, time, what happened and who was present. Create a record… just in case.

        1. Marthooh*

          Practicing what to say in advance is good; another idea is to literally take notes, in a notebook, when George gets to ranting, and then tell him you will look into the matter, or you will think about what he’s said. That gives you something to do in the moment instead of apologizing or spluttering out an explanation or freezing up.

    6. Yogurt pants*

      Thank you so much everyone, I really appreciate the thoughtful replies. I’m leaving work now and will be reading the replies on my way home and over the weekend but may not be able to reply bac. But thank you!

      1. Exhausted Educator Was Exhausted*

        All I can say is that I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Bullies suck.

    7. Laure001*

      My ex-husband, a charming guy, said : “when I feel weakness, I want to bite.” And then “An apology is a sign of weakness.”
      So… You see the twisted logic here.
      People like my ex-husband, or like George, are rare, but they are very dangerous to people like you (or me) because what we see as diplomatic, rational, thoughtful, empathetic behavior, they see as… proof of weakness, and that weakness generates in them a sort of destructive rage.
      They, metaphorically, want to bite.
      So with these people – and only with them, not with normal human beings – you can’t use the tools you generally use in your professional life – diplomacy, logic, “do they have a point,” etc. You have to fight back
      Never apologize. Never reason with them. Seriously! I’ll say it again, if you try to reason with them, they will use what you said against you and try to destroy you.
      And oh God. Do not put yourself in their shoes! They will eat you alive.
      It’s war. If they accuse you of something, throw the accusation back at them. Use scathing irony. Ignore them. It’s against all your principles, its again all your habits… But a show of strength is the only way to make them back down.
      Of course, with all the “normal” people, keep being empathetic, reasonable, diplomatic. You are in the right, and they are the anomaly.

  8. Jax*

    I started a new position as a librarian! (finally, woo hoo!) It’s my first week at my branch and last night one of my coworkers told me that on Fridays the staff wears Hawaiian shirts. I said, “okay” thinking it was a prank on the new guy.

    I walk into work this morning and nope, not a prank. Everyone was wearing Hawaiian shirts! We all got a good laugh about it!

      1. Lalaith*

        My husband teaches a summer program for the month of July, and he wears a Hawaiian shirt every day. He only actually has about 6 of them that he rotates through, but it’s enough to get by :) He added a new one this year and got lots of compliments on it!

      2. gsa*

        Oh my goodness, my Grandmother used to say…

        I thought having one, we’re talking HI shirts right, for every day of the week was nearly too many.

    1. Platypus Enthusiast*

      First of all, congratulations! Librarians are the very best of people, so thank you for all the amazing work you do. It sounds like you’re working with a fun group of people, and I hope everything goes well!

    2. Boba tea*

      i’d love to walk into a library full of hawaiian shirt-wearing librarians! i ‘ll prob join next time too lol

    3. Also a librarian*


      Hawaiian shirts always remind me of my 12th grade English teacher (in a good way).

      1. iknikjn*

        Hawaiian shirts always remind me of my 12th grade International Business/9th/11th Communications Technology teacher (in a good way) as he used to wear them every Friday! It was especially nice when you were in the 1st or last periods of the day in his classes – a nice way to start the weekend and get into weekend mode!

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        We have a history teacher with a huge wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts – he loves them! Does every school have one of these?

    4. Parenthetically*

      This is delightful. Librarians are some of the best humans. Congrats on your new job as one of them. :)

  9. LilacLily*

    Have you guys ever taken a sabbatical from work?

    Long story short: I never had a moment to stop and breathe. From high school I went straight to college, six months in I got what would be my first out of three internships, and after I graduated and got my first job I never had much more than seven days between one job and the other. I’ve been job searching for about four months now, and as you all may know, it’s an emotionally draining process, especially given that I’m not happy at my current job, and then add in the fact that I’m highly prone to depression and this is just a recipe for disaster.

    Thus I’ve been thinking about taking a few months sabbatical – if my job is able to let me go I can collect unemployment benefits for four months, which would be enough to cover my bills, plus I can withdraw my government trust fund, which means I can job search from home and get my head in place without worrying about money. It’s a bit scary to do this; I’ve never quit a job without having anything else lined up, but my job has been driving me up the walls and I’ve been seriously questioning if ruining my mental health over it is worth it. Thankfully my boss is (mostly) great and from the talks we’ve had I don’t think he would be opposed to it; he knows I’m unhappy at my current role, that I was hoping for a promotion (which is impossible because the only role above mine is his, and furthermore he’s a director while I’m an entry level employee), and recently I even told him I’m job searching. He was super comprehensive and gave me his full support, so I’m planning on asking to be let go after a coworker comes back from his two weeks vacations in November.

    Has any of you done this before? Left a job without anything else lined up? I would love to hear your experiences and opinions on this.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      FWIW I was able to swing a month off between starting this job and my last. I don’t think you can guarantee it, but it was something I negotiated at the offer stage. It’s easier to do when you’re a little more senior and they really want you. I probably wouldn’t have taken this (rather lateral) job if I hadn’t gotten that delayed start date. I suspect they could sense that, so they gave it me. So often a new hiring search drags on and on that they realize one more month really isn’t the biggest deal in the world.

    2. sabbatical*

      Well, it sounds like you have a bit of a safety net, so if you think you can swing it, I’d say go for it.

      I had a little bit of a nest egg saved, and did this once. The problem was, it took much longer to find something right when I was ready to return. I’d recommend having more cash on hand than you think you’ll need.

    3. little orange teapot*

      I’ve done it twice, and even successfully job hunted from halfway around the world. I used the breaks for significant travel, because that’s what I like to do. On one hand: I’ve gotten at least two job interviews in my field because of the experience of travelling; I’ve also been able to claim skills because of the travel. On the other hand: do your finances carefully, or have a soft spot to land. (parents, friends, siblings). Getting a job in your field can take longer than planned. So, budget carefully and enjoy getting to know yourself again.

    4. Psyche*

      Definitely make sure you would be eligible for unemployment (and make sure you clarify with your boss whether you are resigning or being let go). I’m not sure what country you are in, but in the US you are generally not eligible for unemployment if you resign.

      1. LilacLily*

        I live in South America, and where I live there’s three options: you can quit, be let go with cause, or let go without cause. Out of all three I can only get unemployment benefits and withdraw my trust fund on the third option.

        Since I’ve been job searching for jobs in Europe (I have European citizenship), back when I told my boss I was job searching I explained that, if I were to leave, it would help me a lot if I could come to a mutual agreement with the company and be let go without cause so I can get all these benefits (the money would help me set a deposit on an apartment and buy all the things I won’t be able to take with me). He understood and said that he wouldn’t mind doing that at all; he’s just not sure if it’s possible but he promised he’d look into it and fight for me when the time came. I won’t take the sabbatical otherwise, so there’s no worries there.

        1. AshK434*

          This seems wrong to me. Like it feels like your using benefits that should go to people who may actually need it.

          1. Madison*

            I agree. That seems like you’re really trying to take advantage of a system for a situation that doesn’t apply.

    5. Ewesername*

      Yep. Saved up before leaving my last position and took two months off planned and one month of job search before starting my current position. It did wonders for my mental well being. Had some family issues leading up to the break and was very unhappy with the direction the company I worked for was going. So, took a break. Had a little holiday. Took some classes, which ended up helping me get the new, much better job. When asked in interviews about the gap, I simply said I was upgrading skills. If you can afford the time off, take it.

      1. LilacLily*

        That’s one of the things I was also planning on; taking classes. Whenever I say that I’m unhappy in my position everyone suggests I study something that would allow me to change fields. However, I leave my house at 5am and come back home between 7 and 8pm, and just thinking about sacrificing the little time I have for myself drives me up the walls. I also have ADHD so studying by myself is unusually hard, and because of the current state of my mental health it’s almost impossible. If I had some time to focus on just studying it would be incredible.

    6. Blarg*

      Doing it now. Paid off my student loans and saved that money so that I could decompress, feel refreshed, move across the country. It’s been 2.5 months. I am job searching. Which sucks, cause of course it does, but no one has flinched about my lack of a current job. I think it helps that I moved and also that I have some significant accomplishments/ projects from old job that show a clear “got x to a place where it was stable and was ready to be transitioned to someone else” kind of thing.

      I’d been working non stop since I was 14. Three degrees, many (many) jobs, several states, and nearly 25 years later … I’ve enjoyed not working way more than I anticipated. I thought I’d get bored. Haven’t yet. It’s been awesome and I’m actually struggling to want to get back in the game, even though I’m going to run out of savings in another couple months. I thought I’d be more antsy. I highly encourage a break if you can take it. I feel like a human person again.

      1. Imprudence*

        I did, a very long time ago.

        I worked for local authority (Council) in the UK, and my husband had the opportunity to work abroad for a year. I went with him. We were quite young, and I had only had that job 2 or 3 years. Neither of us hadhada gap year befoe University — we’d done school, University, postgrad, work, so we thought we were due a change.

        When we came back I got back in touch with my old boss and they …. made a job for me … this was pretty unheard of in Local authorities, but I had done a good job before I left and my boss liked me,

        The year off was great. And the job I came back to was better than the one I left.

        If you have a chance, go for it.

    7. SaffyTaffy*

      I have!
      The first time it happened, I was moving from abroad back to the US. I found a job in my field the day after I landed. Brag-worthy, but not very helpful to you.

      A few years later, I left another job without something else lined up because I needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a week, and then when I came out I had daily, 40-hour-per-week therapy for about a month. Once therapy dropped down to twice-weekly and then weekly I started to look for work. I did temp work while looking for something better. My advice in this area: quit work BEFORE you need to go to a psychiatric hospital.

      I stayed there happily for a few years, and then the department was downsized from 16 to 6 people, and I started getting unemployment for the first time. I supplemented this by doing freelance work of all kinds: i asked all my friends who owned businesses what crummy jobs they needed done. so i applied makeup to models for a photographer, photographed vintage magazines for an Ebay seller, built a client database for a fabric wholesaler, helped an ESL student perfect his American accent, did runway modeling for a consignment shop’s grand opening, and finally got part-time work in a (different) clothing store. Then I got hired for the job I’m at now, where I’ve been happy and successful for 4 years.

      The freelance stuff is what saved me, both by giving me extra money and by making me feel like I was “still working.”

    8. Meredith*

      With the caveat that you’re often seen as more employable when you’re still employed, you should have a backup plan before you run out of money, and you don’t know what they economy will be up to – then yes, I think that really sounds lovely.

    9. Acornia*

      I would not do it if the only way to do it was to draw unemployment insurance. That’s not what unemployment insurance is for.
      You can “ask to be let go” but that’s quitting a job and you may not be able to collect on the unemployment after all. Which would make for a rotten surprise.
      Find a new job and arrange the start date so you get a short break in between.

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        Agree with Acornia. Unemployment benefits are for people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. This would be your decision. Your employer is unlikely to agree to this plan, unless they had plans for layoffs otherwise. The employer’s taxes are still affected by employees who claim unemployment.

        This is a bad idea unless you can finance this hiatus on your own.

        1. LilacLily*

          This is actually a common thing where I live, where companies will come to an agreement for the employee to be “fired” when they need to quit. The understanding is that it isn’t fair that you can’t withdraw the money in your own trust fund, so based on that most companies won’t mind doing it to help the employee that’s leaving.

        2. Kate*

          I would consider taking UE benefits towards a break between jobs but only if you had some additional savings to put towards your living expense once you start job searching again. I would fear that if I knew I could take 4-months off – if after 3-months I started job searching again, what if it took me another 3-months to find a job? As long as you can support yourself long enough – err on the side of a longer job hunt than anticipated – go for it.

          Man, I’d love to take a break. You’ve got me thinking :)

      2. Deanna Troi*

        Acornia is correct. Unemployment insurance is for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is unfair to all of us whose employers pay into unemployment insurance to abuse it by gaming the system. Essentially being asking to be laid off because one doesn’t feel like working is fraud. Imagine if everyone did that – the system would collapse.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      Yes, I’m just finishing up a nearly three month gap in between jobs where I used the time to do alot of traveling with family, stuff with the kids, etc.. I left my job with nothing lined up but I’m in an industry and location (tech sales leadership in Boston) where I knew I could easily find something when needed. Also, I had a good deal of $$ saved and a nice parting gift from my company so that wasn’t a huge factor

      The main reasons I did this were general burnout/losing interest in work and wanting to do something special (we did a month long European trip) with my wife and kids.) Now that the kids are back in school I’m getting bored, so I’m starting something new in a couple of weeks.

      My advice is if you have the finances and can swing it, absolutely go for it!

    11. anonagain*

      Have you asked about taking an unpaid sabbatical where you’d return to this job after? That has its challenges too, but if it were an option, it might give you the chance to see if your current job is really the problem or if you are burned out and need a break.

      I quit a job with nothing else lined up. I don’t regret it (it was a really destructive situation), but I would’ve preferred to have time off without the pressure of job searching. My unsuccessful job search made the time less restorative than it would’ve been otherwise.

      1. LilacLily*

        Unfortunately I haven’t a lot of money saved up, so I wouldn’t be able to take unpaid time off. Not to mention I *really* don’t want to come back to this job. Sure, it could be worse, but back when I quit my last job and came to this one, one of the first things I asked my boss during the interview was if this role had any sort of career development. At the time I loved the answer he gave me, but now I see he just said a bunch of fancy words to deflect my question; my job has zero opportunities for career progression. None. Nada. Either I take a lateral move within the company or I’m stuck in this role for the foreseeable future.

        In this job I’m basically doing the same thing I was doing at my first job six whole years ago, but it’s a much less demanding job, which means I’m bored out of my mind 70% of the time and not learning any new skills whatsoever. I’m dreadfully stagnant and I really need to move on to a job that will allow me to move up in my career.

        That, and also the company sings its praises about how much they care about employee well-being, and then they settle in an office located in a completely isolated part of the city without considering or caring how much of a blow on the personal life of 95% of the employees who work for them it is.

        1. anonagain*

          I hate that. Managers should be honest about the jobs they’re hiring for. I find it so much easier to cope with the downsides of a job when I have a clear picture of what they are going in.

          I really hope you’re able to take a break and find a good job.

    12. Perrin*

      I’ve done it twice (for reference I’m 37) – first time for about 9 months and the second time for about a year – different employers of course! For me the easiest part, which surprised me, was explaining it at interviews. During my off time I travelled a little, spent time with family and volunteered. I think everyone should have the option to do it if they want to – I’d spent my 20s working all the hours the universe sent, saving frantically and then I got to my 30s and thought why aren’t I doing things I enjoy more? I’ve now landed in a 3 day per week job at executive level and have no regrets – and have lots of free time as a result. A happy medium of sorts.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did. When I was 31, I saved up a bunch of money and left my job (in my career field, in which I’d been working for 8 years) to move across the country. I left that job in May 2012 and deliberately stayed unemployed (barring a 10-hrs/week minimum wage job for a couple months just to get myself out of the house) until January 2014, at which point I got headhunted for a contract (like, called out of the blue, I didn’t apply and in fact until my first day of work I had a mild paranoid concern that I was being trolled or something) to cover someone’s long-term leave, back in my career field. They hired me on permanently that July and I just had my fifth anniversary, and was promoted into early tier management three and a half years ago.

      1. LilacLily*

        Oh my god that sounds like a dream!!! I’m so glad everything worked out for you. That’s my biggest worry, I think; all the “what if”s that can come up while I’m just taking it easy. A lot of people have told me to move to the place where I’m trying to get a job, but I just keep thinking, what if I don’t get a job? What if my money runs out? What if it doesn’t work out? And so I end up paralyzed with fear, and meanwhile the years are passing by and I’m not doing anything I like with my life. So lately I’ve been thinking that, as long as I have the means to do it and I have a solid plan as to what to do in case everything falls through, I should just take the leap and do it, because if it’s meant to happen then it’s going to happen.

    14. Clever Name*

      My boss did this. Her husband is a teacher, so he has summers off. One year, she decided to quit her job and travel with her husband for 3 months. We hired her after her sabbatical as a temporary “as-needed” position. Turns out we really needed her and hired her full time (she later was promoted to lead the department). :)

    15. Anon for this one*

      Long story short: I’ve never taken a sabbatical myself, but have been in workplaces where people have, and it was even part of the policy (vs an ad-hoc arrangement) in two cases.

      I’m afraid that as a not-immediate-colleague but person that works with these people in some collaborative context… I have a bit of a negative view.

      It comes off to me as having enough privilege (money, safety nets, whatever) to be able to “nope out” of one’s life for a while, and go and work on whatever the sabbatical project is, but it’s a kick in the teeth to the remaining employees that have to pick up the work in the meantime.

      Should we be glad for the sabbatical-taker? Should we send them off with good wishes? – sure, because that’s what office etiquette dictates. But we are not “glad” for you on the whole; we’re probably resenting your ‘privilege’.

      I am also in your position with never having had time to breathe since 1999…. and I still don’t!

      1. Anon for this one*

        And actually, if the person is perceived as having such a “safety net”… they may be first in line for layoffs in the future, as it’s percieved they need the job less than someone else. Food for thought!

      2. Poppy*

        I confess, I wouldn’t want to be included in that “we” who aren’t glad for the co-worker taking a sabbatical and in fact may be resenting their “privilege.”

        I say this as someone who is so overworked, exhausted, miserable, and burnt-out that I’m quitting next week without another job lined up. I know my departure is going to cause an even bigger workload for my already overworked colleagues, and I feel bad about that. On the other hand, I also know that if I don’t leave, I’ll be dead or in the hospital within 12 months. (I’ve been putting in 60+-hour weeks for nearly a year, since a couple of key people left our team and a zealous workaholic was promoted to director.)

        My perspective is that if an organization chooses to be so chronically understaffed that someone leaving for any reason feels like “a kick in the teeth” to the people remaining, the problem is not a policy allowing leaves. Would you resent someone who could afford to take a long honeymoon, or adopt a baby overseas, or take some extra time off to recover from surgery? Or who got recruited away by another employer? (Well, TBH I would privately struggle with feeling envious and resentful. But I don’t believe those feelings are healthy. There’s always someone who’s better off than you, and dwelling on that can corrode your soul.)

        I think any resentment should be directed at an employer that doesn’t hire enough staffers to deliver all the output expected of them, taking into account that there will always be turnover for many reasons. I had hoped to take a sabbatical of a month or so from my job. That would have provided much-needed time to catch up with all the things I sacrificed this past year — sleep, time with friends and my aging parents, hobbies, turning my sad, empty trashpit of a house back into a functional home, and cooking my own food instead of just microwaving frozen meals. But even though my company’s employee handbook theoretically allows for unpaid leaves without a rationale such as illness, national service, etc., they have to be granted on an ad-hoc basis and I was denied (without a reason given).

        So instead of my being gone for a while and then coming back, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running again, I’ve been on a downward spiral of decreasing morale and productivity. And soon I’ll be gone permanently (with parting gifts of insomnia, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and anxiety). Management did at least let my boss hire a replacement, but he won’t start till a month after I leave. And even though he’s a great candidate, it’ll be a long time before he’s fully up to speed.

        Meanwhile, I’ve been having decent luck getting interviews, but no offers yet. I have to have faith I’ll find another job before too long. Hopefully a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say how much happier I am at my new job, rather than panhandling at the stoplight with a sign saying WILL PROVIDE RELEVANCE FOR FOOD.

    16. Snarflepants*

      If you can take sabbatical on savings alone, you should do it. Don’t apply for the unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are only for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own. You’d be unemployed by choice.

      1. LilacLily*

        After seeing people’s comments here I might not get the unemployment benefits after all, just withdraw my savings. I agree it’s not good to abuse the system, no matter how tempting it may be.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Thank you for coming back and responding to the comments. I’m very impressed with your reaction to the different opinions. May we all be so gracious when getting advice that might not be what we hoped to hear!

  10. Potentially declining an offer*

    What’s the best way to decline a job offer in this circumstance?

    I have an offer for a job I’m not sure I want to take. I have also received a counter offer from my current employer. (I’m aware of the issues some orgs have with this, but I’m comfortable that I won’t be harming my career here if I take the counter offer.)

    I still have to make my decision. If I decline the offer from the new place, do I tell them that I received a counter offer, or do I just say that I’ve decided that it’s not the right fit for me at this time?

    I don’t want to burn any bridges with the new place because I have many more years to work and I may want to apply there again in the future.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      You can absolutely say it’s not the right fit at this time without burning bridges. We had someone do that after being made an offer last year, and we just hired her in another role about a month ago. No hard feelings.

      1. PantaloonsOnFire*

        Absolutely this. It’s probably also polite and useful to throw in some context, so they a) know this was a rational decision on your part, not a flaky whim, and b) have a better sense of the kind of job you would be able to joyfully accept. When you say your bit about it not being “the right fit at this time” throw something in about what would potentially make a position with their company the right fit at a future time–or even ask them to keep you in mind if they have an opening that fits certain criteria.

        1. Potentially declining an offer*

          The good (?) thing is that since I have been conflicted about this from the beginning, I was pretty open throughout the process about what I love about my current job and what I was looking for in the new one. There’s an aspect that I will lose if I leave the current job, and we’ve discussed that, so I don’t think it will be a huge surprise to the new folks if I wind up declining.

    2. Dana B.S.*

      First – have you accepted the offer and are now turning it down? Or are they still waiting for a response? If you have accepted, then I think it would be nice to explain that the circumstances of your previous acceptance have changed. If not, then it’s up to you and the standards of your industry. If you do explain that it involves a counter-offer, they may be wary of future applications.

        1. twig*

          DON’T tell them about the counter offer.

          They may misinterpret the situation as you going through the interview process and wasting everyone’s time just to get a counter offer out of your current employer.

          That being said: Congratulations on both the offer and the counter!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Declining due to another offer is always a reasonable thing to do! Most places won’t use it against you.

      The only time someone has burned their bridge with us by declining was when we offered someone the job they interviewed for, then they were all “Yeah that shift isn’t gonna work though, can I do the other one?” and we had it clear, in the posting, in the interview itself it’s just one spot, on that shift. In the words of Kevin O’Leary, that person is indeed “dead” to us.

      Seriously if he just said “I got another job, so I’m going that way instead.” Fine. Literally lie to me before you tell me something so ballsy as “Oh yeah so it’s not the right shift tho whoops byeeeee.”

  11. Dana B.S.*

    Happy Friday! Looking for some resume advice for my husband. He is currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering and the internship fair is next week. Prior to going back to school, he was a high school science & computer teacher for 8 years. He worked at 4 different schools and taught 10 different subjects. He definitely knows that his resume needs to say more than just “taught kids”. But how does he list his achievements for the 4 different schools? His main achievements are basically the same. Should he just lump them together and say High School Teacher – 2010-2018?

    1. PantaloonsOnFire*

      Lumping them together is probably ideal. Have him think about exactly what kinds of internships (and eventually, careers) he wants and tailor his list of achievements to showcase only the most relevant and transferable skills he demonstrated as a high school teacher. That might vary widely depending on his long-term goals. But some things, like capacity for project management, leadership/mentorship, recognition for excellence, etc. are applicable to many kinds of work.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I was just working on someone’s resume with a similar issue. I would put as the heading “high school teacher” with the years. You can list the schools under that in a weaker font, or you can list them within your bullet points if that makes more sense.

      In the bullet points, decide if the most impactful information is the subjects, or the achievements. If it’s the subjects, group them into relevant bundles so you don’t have 10 bullet points. If it’s the achievements, list them in the bullet points and mention the subjects as part of that.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have a BIL whose science class designed a project that was launched into space (well the rocket exploded about 500 feet up which was almost as gratifying to the students watching it at White Sands as if the science project had made it into space LOL); he got a grant for this. This sort of achievement would then go under the HS teacher X-y. Or whatever major things he is proud of about what his students accomplished. Maybe he managed science fairs or had X# of students who won them; maybe his students learned to do some particularly difficult technique; maybe he supervised the building of competition robots — whatever he can list to demonstrate his competence in the field and as an instructor.

    3. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I have a for-profit professional career track and a college faculty (part-time) career track. My resume has a section for “Business Employment” and “Teaching Experience.” I put my full time professional jobs under “Technology Employment” and my college faculty gigs under “Teaching Experience.” I list the teaching jobs as a group (four across three institutions) and then some bullet points about what I’ve accomplished that cross apply to business roles. I’m in business operations and I talk about facilitating conversation, developing students and helping improve department/course policies and process.

    4. Scarlett*

      I was a teacher before I moved into my current career. I taught for 7 years across 4 different schools (2 districts) and have them all lumped together in my resume under – HS English Teacher, . I didn’t even list the names of the schools where I taught, since it wouldn’t really matter to prospective employers since they are in a completely different field. I’ve had a variety of jobs at different organizations since I left the classroom and have never had someone voice a concern with this approach on my resume.

  12. PX*

    Some Friday afternoon positivity for you; in the spirit of how Alison sometimes shares good cover letters, while idly browsing LinkedIn today, this introductory piece about the company in a job opening really stood out to me and made me think: this sounds like somewhere I’d like to work.

    So for anyone in HR, here is what worked for me! I’ve taken out the job/company specific bits, but you can probably find the company fairly easily ;)

    They have offices in many parts of the world and seem to be doing a bit of hiring if anyone wants to apply and give us some feedback on if the reality matches their advertising :D

    Our people are at the centre of who we are. Whatever your background you are welcome. We are looking for talented and dynamic team players who focus on delivering successful outcomes.

    We are a business where three out of our seven leaders are women, over 20 languages are spoken, where some leaders have grey hair and some have purple. Where our sales teams take time out to support local schools and our product teams champion local women back into the workplace. We are a flexible employer and happy to accommodate different working solutions for the right talent.


    Our benefits stand out (they even include two days a year for you to dedicate to the charitable activity of your choice)


    “COMPANY” is a founding member of the Tech Talent Charter, committed to increasing the ratio of women and under-represented groups working in technology

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I like that the way it’s written sounds straightforward and not like lip-service diversity. And it’s refreshing to see this kind of thing vs. “We have foosball and beer Fridays! Catered dinners and on-site gym and laundry service mean you’ll never want to leave! Everyone’s a young and hip rockstar ninja because that’s the only thing we want!”

  13. Laurencia*

    Has anyone seen a career counsellor recently? Did you find it useful?
    I’m looking to move on from my current job where I’ve been for years, but due to circumstances can’t really see my next step clearly and don’t know how to untangle myself from my current situation.
    Also, if you don’t mind sharing, what were their hourly rates? I’ve been quoted $250 (in a major city)

    1. Artemesia*

      Pay real attention to their resume. I knew a guy who had been in the career development field for years and was really gifted at helping people — but his own career showed the level of expertise he had; had done HR work and then had worked for a major consulting firm before striking out on his own. I also have known people who hang out a shingle because they can’t find a job and the odds they could help you are about zip.

        1. Anon for This*

          Yes, please, this! The entire C-suite at my current job has been taken in by a ‘leadership coach’ (who also teaches ‘adulting classes’ ugh) whose primary qualification seems to be a dubious certification in ‘executive coaching’.

          Please vet any career coach very carefully, there are a lot of grifters out there.

    2. L Dub*

      If you went to college, a lot of schools have career services available for free for both current students and alumni. YMMV because some are fantastic and some are awful, but it might be worth checking out.

    3. Anon For This*

      I tried two. Both had great reviews online and seemed to have solid credentials (dual masters degrees in counseling and career counseling from reputable universities). To be honest, my experience with both was horrible. I mean I was insulted and given either bad advice or advice that was so obvious, a five-year-old could have told you the same thing. In fact, I was spoken to as though I was about five years old.

      Neither read my resume or the bio I emailed them. They both seemed to think I was about half of my actual age and in my first job after graduate school. They seemed to think I had gone to college and grad school back to back. I do look young for my age, but your client’s info should be a given if you’re charging $100 – $200 per hour. And advertising yourself as a full time, well qualified career counselor. I’ll stop there. It got worse. Yikes.

      A decade before that, I tried a free service offered by my state in conjunction with their community college system. It was supposed to be counseling, but they just had you take the MBTI and then showed you a list of careers for your type.

      I tried career counseling in both college and grad school and it was pretty useless. The grad school advice was to use Twitter for networking. Yeah, that can work, but I think they could have offered something more useful.

      I realized that the main reason career counseling fails is that the people counseling you don’t really know your strengths and the market for what you can do. They’re often just going by what you look like and what you’ve written at the top of your resume. So it’s helpful in that it gives you insights into the first impression you make in that kind of context. But it’s rare to find that person who knows you’re talented and is rooting for you.

      I say look for someone who will get you and see your potential. Someone who will see how intelligent you are, how much fun it is to work with you, etc. That person could be a career counselor, but most often, you’ll find those people by networking in your field or your target field. A mentor. Or more than one.

      But I think it’s different for everyone. I’m sure the traditional career counseling approach works well for some people.

    4. irene adler*

      Can you join a professional organization in your industry? They will have lots of folks with constructive suggestions, tips and thoughtful ideas on ‘the next step’ in your career.
      Cost would probably be about $250 annually to join.

    5. zora*

      As mentioned above, I have heard of very very few career counsellers actually worth the money.

      As an alternative, I would suggest either 1) Finding a friend at your level or a little above in your field who would be willing to sit down with you and help you talk things through, look at your resume, etc. People love being asked to help, you might be surprised how easy it would be to find someone. 2) Just going to a regular therapist, probably a LCSW. They might not be experts in your field, but they can help you talk through the things you already know, help you figure out what questions to ask, and how to design a series of steps to take. Many therapists would be much less than $250 an hour

  14. Teapot Translator*

    I don’t remember on which post, but people recommended listening to game soundtracks to help with concentration at work. I tried Frostpunk and liked it. Can people recommend other soundtracks? Thank you.

    1. Nessun*

      I personally love Nobuo Uematsu, so I enjoy all the Final Fantasy soundtracks (there are TONS – including piano versions and symphonic versions). I also like the XenoSaga soundtracks. My current go-to is Guild Wars 2 (the OST, and the two expansion OSTs for Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire).

      I’ve also sometimes enjoyed just asking YouTube or Spotify for game soundtracks – sometimes the results are games I don’t know, mixed together, and equally great to listen to while working.

    2. Platypus Enthusiast*

      So I have a Pandora station and a Spotify playlist for soundtracks (movie and game), and I also regularly listen to other people’s playlists, so maybe check out those for inspiration. I like the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim soundtrack, butmy favorite song would be Ezio’s family from assassin’s creed 2 (has some minor vocalization). Also, Lindsey Stirling has a lot of covers of popular game, television, and movie soundtracks, and does a lot of collaboration. I hope this helps!

      1. Chrysanthemum's The Word*

        I was just coming here to say Lindsey Stirling. In a similar vein I would also suggest checking out the cellist Tina Guo. She does some stuff that is more hard rock but also covers a lot of game and movie songs.

        1. Nott the Brave*

          I’d add in the Vitamin String Quartet to this list – awesome string covers of a bunch of songs.

    3. Liane*

      “Fields of Ard Skellig” from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt game is very relaxing, although depending on what I am doing, there is a short repeated bit that can distract me momentarily, so YMMV. There’s a 1 hour plus track on You Tube.
      My friend who loves the game–I do the novels–says the piece is used during horseback travel interludes.

      1. JanetM*

        Miracle of Sound’s music videos featuring Witcher are delightful, but not conducive to concentration at work. :-)

    4. LilacLily*

      It’s not exactly a game soundtrack, but all Homestuck albums are videogame themed and super fun and funky. My favorite album is Strife!, and if you want something a but more chill, Prospit & Derse is my second favorite.

    5. Brownie*

      I usually hit up streaming sites for anything in the chillhop genre or, for sites like Pandora where I can customize a playlist, any/all of the Assassin’s Creed soundtracks. The latter I like for days when I don’t want vocals since chillhop can often have vocals.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Totally agreed on chillhop and Assassin’s Creed soundtracks. AC is particularly good for writing, according to my students over the years, because it’s pretty dynamic.

    6. DaniCalifornia*

      Halo for sure. If you also search for action movie trailer music a lot of good instrumental stuff comes up that is similar to game soundtracks. That’s pretty much all my husband listens to.

    7. Ada*

      My go-tos are typically Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, Persona 5, and Zelda. One tip: if you like a particular style of music, see if there’s a cover in that style. A couple of my favorites include a jazz version of Phoenix Wright and an orchestrated version of Link’s Awakening.

      1. Watry*

        Overclocked Remix is good for this! I also used to use the Layton soundtracks for studying or reading. Good stuff.

      2. Nessun*

        I have played lots of Layton, but I’ve never paid much attention to the music! I will have to look it up on its own and have a listen…

    8. Watry*

      The original Spyro trilogy has a pretty great soundtrack, written by the drummer from the Police. Good stuff.

      The Final Fantasy tracks are frequently pretty good, but if you’re using them for concentration you’ll need to remove the ones that were written as songs rather than background music.

    9. Vermonter*

      Pokemon games and Steven Universe background music. (SU is a TV show, but it has a video game-ish soundtrack.)

    10. Purt’s Peas*

      The Surviving Mars soundtrack is great; it’s a game where you do lots of slightly monotonous little tasks, and the soundtrack is honestly a big part of what makes it fun :)

    11. Spencer Hastings*

      I find that strategy or puzzle game soundtracks tend to be fairly unobtrusive and good for thinking to: e.g. Stellaris, Cultist Simulator, Blackguards (battle music), Zero Escape, Ace Attorney (trial/confrontation music).

    12. Hiring needs a selling edge*

      Chrono Trigger
      Persona (any)
      Doom (if you like thrash metal)
      Yoshi’s Island
      Echo the Dolphin

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I like ambient music, especially when working, and Mark Morgan’s Vault Archives music from Fallout 1 and 2 is my go-to. I think it’s on YouTube so if you can stream that, you can listen at work.

    14. YetAnotherUsername*

      There’s a 3 hour YouTube track called something like “video game music concentrating” or similar. It has an ad about every half an hour but it’s really good.

    15. Granger Chase*

      I listen to background music from Animal Crossing, in particular the ones they have categorized as “nighttime” or “rainy weather” tracks. They’re super chill and there’s a little bit of nostalgia in there that helps keep my content while I’m in pure concentration mode.

    16. Black Coffee (aka Paige Turner)*

      If you’re still reading replies to this, I love the band Bit Brigade! I’ve been saving all of these responses for new work music- I’m a coffee roaster and wear headphones most of the day.

  15. 60 Hour Weeks Are Normal, Right?*

    Any tips for staying sane while onboarding an entirely new team?

    Shortly after a departmental restructuring, the team I now lead lost two of its three people. I took over responsibility for an area where I have content knowledge but am not familiar with processes at my particular institution. So I have to learn how some of these things need to be done myself before I can even delegate them. (The remaining team member is an admin.) I’m simultaneously tasked with process improvement and documenting all of these things that previously lived in one person’s head (and who enjoyed having it that way….That’s a whole separate post.).

    It’s a really tough job market where I am, so the people I ended up hiring barely have experience in the field to begin with.

    Short version: I inherited a messy, inefficient department and need to fix it with three people who don’t know what they’re doing either. I have a kind and supportive boss, but she can’t train us on anything, never having done these tasks herself.

    We’re all muddling through it together, but I can’t get anything done because I’m constantly fielding questions and having training sessions.


    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*


      If the new staff members are capable enough, I’d turn this team into a “let’s figure it out and document it” MACHINE for the next period of time. When a question comes up, you turn to the process document -maybe a big flow chart of post its on your wall, and say ok, where does that question go? Have we figured that piece out yet? Then figure it out together and have the staff member write the new post it. Soon everyone will go to the wall automatically for the answer, and know that if they can’t find it, they’re going to be asked for some research or thought process to resolve it.

      The magic of this strategy is that each staff member can succeed up to their ability, and then you just have to fill in the gaps, rather than always be The Provider of Answers.

      1. OtterB*

        I like this. I’d been thinking along a slightly different line, but similar in that it makes your new people collaborators rather than further weight on you: have each of your new people pick (or you assign) a couple of areas to develop expertise. They document as far as they can and come to you for help when they need to, with questions as specific as they can make them. So, they don’t as you “How do we do X?” They say, Jane in accounts payable says we need to do these steps for X, but as far as I can tell, we’ve been doing it this other way in the past. Should we follow what Jane says? Putting some of the initiative on them will help clear you a little space to do your own work.

        Plus, can you set yourself some “Do not disturb” hours and say you’ll be happy to field questions outside of those hours but not to interrupt within them unless it’s an emergency?

    2. On Hold*

      I think you need to sit down with your boss and talk through triage, priorities, and short/medium/long-term plans. Specifically, while you are all learning these new processes, you are highly unlikely to make any major improvements, create big efficiencies, anything like that. Documentation is…. maybe.

      So the talking points might be:
      – While we’re all learning, I’m going to set aside x, y, and z long-term goals. Tentatively, I hope to come out of this mode in 6 months (or whatever) and I will keep you updated as that timeline solidifies and I can see what’s realistic. Does that work for you/the company / is there anything I should take into consideration about setting these things aside / etc?
      – How long will it take to dig out of your backlog, once everyone knows what’s going on and is starting to work at a more normal pace? Make sure that’s included in your timeline
      – Is this many people a realistic number of people to be on top of your work (when everyone knows what’s going on), considering that people will always be going on vacation, out sick, etc? Is it realistic to arrive at a point where you have some breathing room, or is this level of staffing going to keep you at triage/red-alert mode forever?
      – Is it realistic to start documenting process now, while people are learning, and go back to clean it up later? If the processes are small and you have a good company wiki, that might be very realistic. If the processes are big or complicated, or you are going to have to develop the information repository process/system as well, that’s maybe less realistic.
      – Once we come out of triage and backlog, here’s my vision for what the group will look like/how we will be handling workflow, and here’s my plan for x, y, and z long-term goals
      – What kind of support do you need/want from your boss? Do you like talking things over/bouncing ideas off, or do you want to be left alone to suffer through? Ask for what you need
      – If you haven’t already, talk to your team about the efficiency stuff – “hey team, we’re all muddling through and learning. Sometimes, that’s the best place to be in for updating processes, because you don’t have the ‘but that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindset. So if you see something that you’d like to do differently, please bring it to me/the group and we’ll explore if that makes sense”

      Good luck!

      1. 60 Hour Weeks Are Normal, Right?*

        Wow, this is all fantastic advice, thank you! I was feeling totally defeated by the whole thing, but you’ve all given me some really concrete next steps. (I especially like the idea of “office hours.”)

        And this weekend I’m going to write up an outline for a conversation with my boss, based on those questions, so that I can potentially offload a few things, or at least push them to Q3.

        Again, thank you!

  16. Amber Rose*

    It’s moving day. Our department is swapping spaces with another department, resulting in mass chaos and confusion. My space has shrunk again. This move sucks. Everyone hates it. It makes sense in some ways, our department is bigger than theirs, but ugggggh. I liked my old desk and my old cube. I hate all these changes, they suck. D:

    Anyways. There’s a shelf directly over my monitor that’s like a roof, and now everything is super dark. Does anyone have any ideas for lighting solutions, with the understanding that I have nowhere to plug anything in?

    1. NotaPirate*

      My closet lacked any lights and I got little battery powered ones that stick on the wall and press/touch to turn on. USB powered lamps are increasingly cool these days too, I’ve seen some terrarium lamp combos.

      1. Emily S.*

        I use little battery-op touch lights under my kitchen cabinets. Mine are made by GE, and I bought them from Target. They work very well.

    2. Purple*

      IKEA has some under cabinet lighting that is battery powered.

      I have rechargeable amazon batteries that seem to work pretty well.

    3. epi*

      You can get stick-on LED lights for under cabinets and counters. I have a bunch in my kitchen which has the same problem– all cabinets are oriented in a way that blocks light when I want to be in there.

      I’d recommend getting reading reviews before you decide, because the battery life on these can vary. Either way, definitely get rechargeable batteries and a charger if you expect to have the light on all day, every day.

      1. Artemesia*

        I got some stick on lights for a book case and the battery life was zilch. If possible see about something that might run off your computer or at least has rechargeable batteries and reviews that suggests some longevity.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’ve gotten packs of battery powered lights and used those. Depending on the design, another option is a camping lantern.

    5. NW Mossy*

      Undermounted LED strip lights with a battery pack sound like a good solution! I’ve put these up in my home underneath my kitchen cabinets to give better task lighting, and they’re great.

      We got ours from Environmental Lights – they mostly do commercial work, but will sell to individuals as well.

    6. Parenthetically*

      If you have a spare USB, there are loads of good task lights at all price ranges that plug into a USB.

    7. Mockingjay*

      There are light bars made to install under cubicle shelves, usually florescent or LED. Look in an office supply catalog or ask your Facilities manager. They should be able to get some.

    8. i forget the name i usually use*

      A happy light! People use them for SAD, but I think they’d also make great ambient lighting for a dark office space.

  17. Demotivated by office admin*

    Our admin sends an all-staff email each morning with the basics of what’s going on that day – who’s on vacation, working remote, what events are that day or coming up, that sort of stuff. He also includes lighthearted stuff like memes or “it’s national XYZ day!”
    When it’s not a whatever holiday (about half the time), the image is “I hate Mondays” or “why isn’t it Friday yet” kind of stuff.
    I get it, everyone loves weekends, but it’s kind of demoralizing to have that “working for the weekend” mentality greet you every day.
    Just ranting, I guess. TGIF!

    1. Laurencia*

      That would bring me down to even though I realize it’s silly. Maybe you could ask him to do less of those and more animal pics or whatever?

    2. 1234*

      I don’t see that as demoralizing since the whole tone is light-hearted.

      Would it make more sense for him to send this email once or twice a week? Are you able to make a suggestion to him that maybe he can come up with an image of something else except “I hate Mondays” etc?

    3. All Reports, All the Time*

      That would bug me too. It’s a small thing, but I can imagine a cumulative effect over time. And as a frequent sufferer of “The Sundays,” I have personally never found that stuff funny. It just makes me more anxious. (Sign of needing a new job, I know.)

    4. Meredith*

      Yeah, today is our first non-summer Friday at work since Memorial Day. Of course, people have been complaining all week about how awful today will be. We’re here a whole extra two hours…

      I’ve just been trying to be positive. “Oh, well, what with the holiday on Monday I certainly have enough to do to fill a whole day!” or “I’m sure today will fly by, since it’s Friday and all.” Maybe try, “Looking forward to a fresh week!” or “Tuesdays are my favorite day because of x and y.”

    5. Not A Manager*

      I misread your title and thought it said “demoted by office admin.” I was imagining all kinds of scenarios.

    6. Aggretsuko*

      I’m just amazed the admin is *allowed* to send something out publicly that acknowledges that work isn’t awesome.

      There are National Whatever Holidays for every single day of the year (I have a calendar of them), so he could just send those daily instead.

      1. Orange You Glad*

        Agreed with this! I would send them a message like, “I love when you include what National Whatever Holiday it is! I look forward to when you share them because it’s always different and I enjoy it so much more than those depressing “I hate Monday’s” memes! I found this [link to calendar or website that lists them] that you could use to look up what holiday it is every day! Thank you for the effort you put into the daily updates – I appreciate you!”

        (Yes, it’s *very* bubbly and way too many exclamation marks but this is genuinely how I would phrase it because this is my personality. Tone it down to match yours.)

    7. Mazzy*

      Haha, I realized once I was rude to someone I see in the elevator, he always makes these comments to me and I coldly replied “I actually like my job so I don’t care.” Woops! Sounded ruder then I meant it, but, I cobbled together a schedule that is as interesting as adult life is going to get on top of my job I like, so I’m not going to complain about it every day!

    8. Garland Not Andrews*

      Perhaps you can look up some positive little images with sunny messages and send him a bunch. I really understand your feelings, I once had a coworker who was always saying “Can I go home yet?” and when she left, the atmosphere become much much more positive.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I used to say this all the time when I hated my job. Apologies to any coworkers who had to deal with that, lol.

    9. On Hold*

      See if he’d be willing to sub in cute animals or something? My old team got a daily email from another department and she always wrapped it up with a cute animal. Sometimes that was the highlight of my evening.

    10. Gumby*

      I get it. Even when you are joking, “work is a horrible imposition on life” can be an annoying thing to face every day. Maybe you are trying to stay positive and don’t want unnecessary negativity in your life. Maybe you actually don’t mind your job, or actively like it. Maybe this weekend you are required to go to a training session for a volunteer position you have been doing for more than a decade which is, really, not that difficult to start with… (At least they feed us, and it’s generally pretty tasty.) (But honestly? 9 a.m.? On a weekend?)

      There are all sorts of these things that are kind of socially accepted – like that school is a pain. This is why when I ask kids about starting the new school year I never do it in a “aren’t you so sad that you must go back to the drudgery of the classroom” way. It’s always, “how exciting, you are starting a new grade! What are you looking forward to this year?” There is no need to tell kids that they should hate school. If they are going to, they will probably come to that conclusion themselves. (Personally, I loved it.)

      If he must demotivate, perhaps he could use official Demotivators? Those tend to be more funny than depressing.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Are they Grumpy cat memes at least? But yeah, I don’t do the negativity sort of thing, even though it’s meant to be lighthearted, it’s bad vibes towards so many.

      Have you ever even said anything in passing though? Yeah it may take some wind out of those sails of him but it’s fair to say “Man, that meme is a downer, could you rethink the images you use?” People don’t always know it’s “Not a good look” until someone quietly whispers it to them.

  18. ThatGirl*

    So, I’ve been in a new position for about six weeks; I’ve worked at this company for two years. I consider myself pretty easy going and easy to get along with, I don’t expect everyone to love me but I try to be pleasant and kind and professional. I’m also 38 years old and have plenty of professional experience.

    Which is to say that I am totally befuddled by how to answer my new manager when, at our 1-on-1 check-ins, she asks “are you getting along with everyone?” I want to say “you know, this isn’t kindergarten” – there are no conflicts she could have observed, I haven’t made snarky remarks or heard anyone badmouthing me, and I know how to act professional with people even if I’m not a huge fan of their personality. So far I’ve just said “yeah, everyone’s been great, no problems!” but is there a way I can answer to like… get her to stop asking?

    1. INeedANap*

      I suspect this is less about you and more about a problem person on the team that you haven’t had to deal with yet.

      It sounds to me like she’s deliberately creating an opening for you to let her know if anyone (and I’d bet there’s one specific person she’s concerned about) is treating you less than professionally; sometimes it can be intimidating as a new person to the team to “make waves” by complaining about a long-standing team member and my guess is that she’s trying to counteract that.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Funny you say that. I have an inkling that she has some sort of problem with one of our team members, but I think that’s a *her* problem – said coworker is very pleasant to me and so far I like them a lot, but I know the two of them have butted heads a bit. Also I prefer to deal with conflicts myself if possible, and not go “tell on” someone (there are certainly instances where getting a manger involved is warranted, but it’s not my first instinct).

        1. Frankie*

          I’d watch, observe, keep being positive, and file this away for the future. Sometimes those situations look really different after 3 months on the job. Not to say you don’t have a handle on what’s going on, or that your default approach (it’s not kindergarten! utilize direct communication! we’re grown ups!) isn’t the right tack to be taking.

          It’s possible your boss is looking for fodder for a conflict. Or also possible, though maybe less likely, that there are legit issues with this coworker, and she’s trying to give you the space to bring it to her if you need it down the road.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Think of it this way: you have a proactive manager who keeps tabs on team relationships. It’s great that you prefer to deal with coworkers yourself (how much of Alison’s advice is exactly that!), but having a manager open to resolving situations in which more leverage is needed is a plus. I would say, “everything’s good, but I will certainly come to you if I need help – thanks!”

    2. Former Usher*

      No advice to offer, but at my previous employer, my manager would end every group meeting by asking us to let him know if we had any conflicts with anyone. It was so weird. He was new to management, and I wondered if his only management training consisted of a how to manage conflict course and that he wanted to try out his new skills.

    3. gbca*

      Maybe ask her in a friendly tone, “you’ve asked me that a few times – are there any concerns in that area?” I would think that should get her to either tell you what’s behind the question, or realize it’s an odd question that she should stop asking if it’s just a filler question.

    4. PantaloonsOnFire*

      “You’ve asked me several times about whether I’m getting along well with everyone, and it’s making me wonder if you have a specific concern or reason for asking. Is there anything I should know about this team to avoid having a pre-existing workplace drama catch me unexpectedly?”

      1. Mazzy*

        Yes to this. I can imagine beating around the bush because I’m afraid to admit I notice them IMing instead of talking to people and don’t say hello or goodbye

        1. ThatGirl*

          I say hi and have brief but friendly chats with my team regularly. I even brought cookies once so far! The one other thing that did occur to me was that I generally eat lunch alone, but that’s both a holdover from my last position and a mild preference – it gives me a chance for a little solitude. My teammates have given me a standing invitation to join them, and I intend to do so occasionally, but I don’t want to spend money on eating out every day.

    5. LKW*

      It could also be her way of phrasing “is everyone taking the time to help you acclimate and get you up to speed?”

    6. Federal Middle Manager*

      This. If I asked someone this it would be similar to “Is everyone providing you with the feedback and resources you need?” If someone is slow to respond to emails or refers you to outdated materials, etc. this would be the chance to raise that.

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

      Did you replace someone who left? It could be that a previous employee cited personal conflicts, a toxic work environment, or sexual harassment… during their exit interview, and the boss is trying to determine the validity of it. Or she is just really invested in everyone on her team being one big happy family. You might not be able to get her to stop and just have to keep answering as you have — sort of like a superficial social exchange or “how are you?” “fine, thank you.”

    8. OhBehave*

      You’ve sensed that there is someone your mgr is watching so ask the next time you’re questioned. Others have suggested the same. Let your manager know how you plan to handle conflict should it arise. “You’ve asked me many times if I’m getting along with everyone. Please let me know if I need to be aware of possible issues. I do prefer to handle personnel issues myself and escalate if needed.” Mgr may also be watching/questioning in order to find out if the issue was with previous boss or this particular employee.

    9. gsa*

      New manager, “are you getting along with everyone?”

      You, “As far as I know, have you heard otherwise?”.

      It sounds like an ice breaker/conversation starter… Don’t let it be a conversation stopper.

  19. Lovecraft Beauty*

    Recap: I left a job I really loved but was underpaid to move out of state for a new role; the transition has been really hard. It’s been a month.

    I don’t know how to tell my boss I’m struggling, or what support to ask for. I’m the only woman on the team in a male-dominated industry, which makes asking for help extra fraught; I am extremely underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work, and disappointed by that, but I worry about saying that as the new person and getting a reputation as a Negative Nancy.

    (Adapting to the new city is going okay. Not great but okay. I’ve been going out with friends, I’m cooking foods I love, I have a therapist.)

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Can you be specific? It sounds like the technical aspect of the job is well within your skillset, but what is the part that’s a struggle?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty*

        There’s a lot of technical debt, including in the development process as well as the code, and it feels like a giant thankless task that I was not expecting; I knew they had some technical debt, everywhere does, but I didn’t know it was this bad. And there’s no one who knows the existing codebase and very little documentation, so I have to figure it out as I go, and balancing “well, I’m sure they had a reason for making the decisions they did, don’t be judgey just because it’s not immediately apparent” and “this is bad code that should never have made it to production” is taking a toll. I’m also pretty low on resilience because of a recent family medical emergency and the move from my beloved hometown, so I’m sure that’s playing into it.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          Oh yuck. OK. Yeah, your boss probably knows this and doesn’t want to hear about it except to hear that it has been solved. My best advice is to focus on making your non-work life feel good and make sure you’re getting support around the family stuff, especially if you’re a caregiver. Feeling better and more supported outside the office will at least give you more energy and positive stuff in your day. By then you’ll be a few more months into the job and maybe in a better head to assess the situation and figure out if there’s some support you can reasonably ask for at that point.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          And there’s no one who knows the existing codebase and very little documentation, so I have to figure it out as I go, and balancing “well, I’m sure they had a reason for making the decisions they did, don’t be judgey just because it’s not immediately apparent”

          This is exceedingly normal in my experience. Sorry. It’s frustrating.

        3. EinJungerLudendorff*

          Yeah, that’s a hard situation to have to deal with.
          I have no advice, but every sympathy.

    2. sportslady*

      Following along on this one, because I’m struggling with the same thing. I miss my old co-workers, and I’m not feeling like I’m gelling with the team here. All the feedback I’ve gotten has been great, my boss and up are very happy, but bleh. I’m ALSO the only woman on my team, and almost always the only woman in the room, and it’s exhausting to deal with.

      No advice, obviously, but maybe it helps to know there’s someone else in your boat!

      1. Lovecraft Beauty*

        Oh my god I’m so grateful to hear this, and I’m so sorry you’re feeling this too. It sucks.

      2. LilacLily*

        Oh man I feel your pain. I’m also the only woman in a team of seven people locally and about 20+ people nation-wide. I had a female coworker who worked with us but in another department and she was my sanity lifeline, and then last month they transferred her to another office. It’s back to having lunch by myself I guess. Bluh.

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      It’s not clear to me what you’re struggling with at work. I think you’re right that saying you’re underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work is probably not a great foot to start off on. Do you have coworkers you can talk to? Do most people seem to be happy and thriving in their roles, or are there office-culture issues?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty*

        Other people seem pretty happy! We’re pretty isolated in terms of subject-matter expertise, I don’t think there’s anyone else really working on the same stuff I’m working on, so it’s hard to get a parallax view on the technical debt I mentioned above. And everyone has been …cordial but not friendly, I guess? Polite, but all my cheerful “want to get coffee and chat?” invitations have been turned down.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          Yeah, unfortunately that doesn’t seem like things your boss would be able to provide support on.

          In terms of the technical debt, this is not my area of expertise, but it seems like you might be able to identify some of the “no one has knowledge of the codebase/figure it out as you go along” issues that are really tripping you up and identify asks for your boss around them. Whether its partnering you with people with a bit more expertise on them, or having your boss as a thought partner to help you figure out how to handle the issues.

    4. Autumnheart*

      Can you elaborate more on what you mean by “extremely underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work”? Is it too easy for you, not what you expected, or do you find yourself dealing with things like “They expect us to work miracles with 10-year-old hardware and software”, or what?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty*

        There’s a lot more technical debt that I expected, and the development process is really out of date.

    5. Clementine*

      As you know, the codebase and lack of docs are not going to improve. The job will be more of the same, along with antiquated processes and technology from what you have said.

      With that being the case, the only solution I see is to start focusing on moving on. It doesn’t sound like you are in an emergency situation, so start carefully looking for the next place that will not have these particular problems. This is one type of experience that can still be useful, but not something you likely want to do for very long if you want to keep current.

  20. A. Ham*

    As we head into fall/winter, a time when I will inevitably wear skirts and dresses less often, I am looking to up my work pants game.
    I work in a fairly casual office. The party line is “look presentable” but no need to be super business-y unless there is some sort of important meeting off site or something. Jeans and a nice top is very common uniform around here- and what I will normally wear (again, when not wearing skirts). But… I’ve got to admit, I’m getting a little sick of wearing jeans all the time. Not saying I will never wear them again, but I’d like some options to switch it up. What are your favorite pair of work pants?

    1. Nowhereland*

      If you live in the US, you could look at Old Navy’s Pixie Pants, Banana Republic’s Sloan pants, or Express’s Editor/Columnist pants.

      1. londonedit*

        I am not in the US and am therefore sad that I can’t have special Editor trousers seeing as that’s what I do.

        On a slightly more helpful note, I really like Uniqlo’s ‘jeggings trousers’ – really comfortable and slightly smarter than jeans.

          1. the_scientist*

            A warning re: the uniqlo leggings pants: If you have quads, these will definitely look more like leggings and less like pants. They are very comfy but definitely not work appropriate for me. However their colour Ez-Jeans (basically jeans with an elastic in the back of the waistband) are a good alternative- they have just that little bit more structure.

          2. Karo*

            I wear jeggings in various colors literally every day. They’re skinny jeans, but with a little extra give for comfort. I adore them. I also think they look relatively nice – definitely more like dressy jeans than sitting around the house jeans.

        1. epi*

          I also like the leggings pants and wear them to work often (in academia). They look like skinny jeans but IME are much cooler so the cropped ones are actually my go-to throughout the summer. I have gotten compliments on them from multiple people who did not realize they were leggings.

          Uniqlo has a lot of other good pants too. I would suggest looking at what I think they are calling “smart pants” now too. They have an imitation fly and pull on like leggings but are not tight and are made of normal pants fabric. I didn’t like where the waistband fell on me– I think it matters more when there is elastic involved– but they are great. I’d own a bunch if they happened to fit me.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I have a few of the smart pants I snagged on the (dirt) cheap from thredUP, and they do look like really tailored dress pants. The waistband is a little weird, but a lot of my shirts are long so no one will notice.

      2. Former staffer*

        Was coming to echo the Old Navy Pixie Pants. I’m obsessed with them right now- give me some in every color/print please!

      3. M. Albertine*

        I LIVE in Express’s Editor pants. They are so comfy I don’t even take them off when I get home from work.

    2. CTT*

      Old Navy has good work pants! I particularly love the patterned ones because I am a sucker for a patterned pant, but they have solid colors as well. They’re a nice alternative to jeans that aren’t a hard turn into suit pants.

      1. tcro*

        Everlane has some great options. If your office is fairly casual, you could do their “easy chino” option… more put together than jeans, but not as dressy as you’d usually think for “work pants”.

        1. Mainely Professional*

          OMG Everlane for the win. I am so sick of major brands selling us women TRASH that doesn’t last a season. I just bought one of their bras and it’s great.

        2. Keanu Reeves's Patchy Beard*

          I actually was really disappointed with a pair of their work pants. I got them in navy and they are not colorfast. I washed them about 3 times and there are faded streaks.

        3. ThatMarketingChick*

          I’ve been really disappointed with Everlane. I bought two pairs of their “work pants” and had one pair split from the crotch down the inseam. On both sides. While I was driving. To work. I can’t bring myself to wear the other pair out of sheer terror at the thought of seeing my once-appropriate work pants morphing into assless chaps.

    3. Sister Michael, Black Belt*

      I have many pairs of NY&Co’s 7th Avenue pants, comes in lots of colors, patterns, and lengths.

      1. sacados*

        I know this is an anti-jeans post but NY&Co’s jeans are absolutely the most comfortable ones I have ever found.
        Though their sizing can be a bit strange, I am a full size smaller in their “curvy boyfriend” jeans than in any of the other cuts.

    4. Ayla K*

      Black skinny jeans have become a good uniform swap-in for me! I’m team denim, all the way, and sometimes just swapping the color can be great. I also picked up a pair of purple jeans last fall and they’re great with boots and a grey sweater.

      I also got some stretchy slacks that, no joke, feel like leggings, but they look super professional.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Totally agree with swapping the color of your jeans. I’ve got a pair in purple and a pair in red, in addition to the conventional indigo and black. Grey jeans would be a nice choice if you want something more conservative but still different from the usual.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Colored jeans, definitely, I have multiple pairs in various grays, black, and shades of blue.

        Also cordoroys, I’ve found some styles that are basically pull-on cords and they’re very comfy.

    5. BeeGee*

      I really like the dressier leggings/tights, I have two pairs from Tommy Hilfiger and I know J. Crew has a version of them. Think a thicker leggings like horse riding pants, with a button and zipper closure like normal pants. They are really comfy, and look classy when paired with some nicer boots. And just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up on skirts or dresses! Get a nice wool/felt skirt and a sweater dress, and pair them with fleece tights/leggings underneath. I also bought wedge booties from UGG that have a nice plain, black leather exterior but fuzzy wool interior which are a godsend for my poor cold toes in the middle of winter.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yup, I also still rock dresses and skirts in the winter. I make sure they’re wool like you said and pair them with fleece lined tights and calf or knee-high boots (sometimes ankle booties if it’s not too cold).

        Now that I work from home full time, I’m glad I’ll still be able to rock shorts during the winter as well!

    6. Mainely Professional*

      For what it’s worth, I live in a very cold place and I wear a lot of skirts and dresses in the fall and winter. I like to layer, and for whatever reason I tend to feel warmer overall in a dress, and I like dresses because it’s easier than matching separates. I can layer a bodysuit under or cardigans over. It is sometimes harder to find fashionable and affordable warm choices, but thrifting is usually a good option. Wool, flannel, corduroy cold weather dresses from J. Crew or Loft are pretty abundant in my thrift shops locally. Fleece tights from Target if it’s brutal out.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I am the same. I tend to wear my skirts year round but more in the winter as I like having my legs fully covered.

        1. SarahKay*

          Same here. I find a needlecord (corduroy in the US) skirt with some nice woolly tights is far warmer than trousers.
          Not only that, I walk to work and if it’s raining then jeans are a shockingly bad idea as they take forever to dry and spend the whole drying time sucking heat out of my legs. Even trousers (pants) aren’t ideal; I’d much rather wear a knee-length skirt and a pair of 60 or 100 denier tights in a man-made fibre, with a knee-length coat over the top. The skirt says dry (because coat) and the tights will dry in about a minute (because man-made fibres) – change my shoes and my dry, warm legs and I are good to go for the day.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yes! That’s the one thing I’m truly grateful for now that I won’t have to deal with walking to work in the snow anymore (I’m remote from home) – not having wet pants by the time I get to work. Seriously, it’s the most disgusting feeling to have cold, wet pants stuck to your legs all morning. That always used to put me in a foul mood, lol. That’s why I, too, tried to live in sweater dresses and wool skirts in the winter with tights.

      2. sacados*

        Agreed, I wear tights with skirts and dresses pretty much year round, in fact it’s one of my favorite kinds of fall outfits.
        @A. Ham > it can be a bit on the spendy side, but eshakti can also be a nice resource, they allow you to customize everything like sleeve or skirt length so you can get a lot of nice warmer long-sleeved dresses.

      3. A. Ham*

        oh I do still wear them in the winter- just not quite as often. It’s not so much that I don’t want to wear them (I have quite a few cute/cozy winter-appropriate dresses) It’s really just tights that I hate. And on especially cold, dark mornings, the thought of wrestling with tights just makes me more tired. haha

        1. Mainely Professional*

          Lol, I get it. I think corduroy pants are a good option for a casual office, especially since there are some nice “jeans” cut styles out there, not the wide wale pleats at the waistband stuff of yore.

    7. TY*

      I love the Loft work pants in the Marisa fit. They don’t hug my curve and look polished after multiple pairs, without needing ironing!

      1. TY*

        They do have the Julie fit if you like to highlight your curves, and Loft clothes seem perpetually on sale, so I usually find them for cheap.

    8. Professional Pup*

      I recently bought 2 pairs of American Giant’s Kick Crop pants and WOW are they comfortable. I’m very petite so that version of their pants is the only one that would work for my height off the rack, but they have a typical skinny one and a straight leg, too. I absolutely *hate* the feeling of a waistband constricting me while I sit (and as I type this, I’m being annoyed by the jeans I’m wearing for casual Friday), so the American Giant pants are perfect. The fabric is a nice thick weight without feeling heavy or tight, and they look extremely polished..but they’re secretly soft and stretchy and comfortable! The waistband tailoring is nice enough that you can tuck a blouse in (a la Tan France from Queer Eye) without it looking weird.

    9. Jellyfish*

      I have four matching pairs of casual pants from Christopher & Banks – black, brown, grey, and khaki. They’re cotton, so they feel and fit more like jeans than most business slacks do. I like them. However, I also add lined leggings to my dresses and skirts so I can keep wearing those during the winter too.

    10. LilacLily*

      I’ve heard that Betabrand’s Dress Pant Yoga Pants are super comfy, and they have a bunch of colors and styles! I saved their online store address for when I’m able to afford them. If there’s something I love is plain, high rise pants that aren’t tight in the knee.

    11. NewReadingGlasses*

      I am currently wearing Prana Halle pants that I bought at REI. They are technically cargo pants, but they look OK for work, kind of like chinos. I have them in Black and Tan. I’ve had these pairs about a year and they are holding up well.

    12. Goldfinch*

      If you layer, I really like the Dana Buchman pull-on pants from Kohls. They have enough thigh and hip room that I can wear fleece tights underneath when it’s miserably cold out, but they aren’t so big that I look like a marshmallow.

    13. Catsaber*

      Uniqlo has a lot of unique pant options, just be aware the sizing is not consistent. For me, the skinny/slim styles are REALLY SKINNY and then the roomier styles are REALLY ROOMY. Be sure to read the garment measurements!

      Also, something that helped me with not feeling so boring with my jeans was not to change the pants, but change the shoes. I got a few pairs of really cool shoes that helped me mix up my jeans/nice top uniform. And it doesn’t have to be really expensive – I tend to shop at DSW, so that’s my level. One example – I got a pair of black glitter Doc Martens. They make any outfit look super cool. I have gotten tons of compliments on them, including from top-level directors.

    14. Llama Wrangler*

      Ditto the Loft Marisa Pants, thought keep in mind they also have some pretty variable fits in the different styles of the pants. And I also like the Uniqlo options, but definitely agree about their variable sizing. I range anywhere from an XS to a L/XL depending on style and material.

    15. Combinatorialist*

      I really like colored jeans. I have a pair of black ones that make me feel slightly dangerous (I’m not at all) that I wear on days with meetings with a problematic project lead. I have some more fun colors as well. Obviously doesn’t help if it is the feel of denim that you are tired of, but it lets me mix it up some while staying at about the same level of formality

    16. HalloweenCat*

      To address the pants part, I have just discovered Sanctuary’s Pull On Ponte Pants at Nordstrom Rack. They’re like a thick legging and they have fake pocket detail to look more like pants. They have them in basic black as well as a bunch of fun fall plaids, cheetah print, and camo. They’re very comfortable.
      And as someone who also likes to wear skirts and dresses year-round, invest in a couple of pairs of good quality fleece-lined tights.

    17. Muriel Heslop*

      Wide leg cropped pants from J Crew. They are part of the 365 collection. I wear both pairs I own once a week. Super comfortable! I have a black wide leg pair from Banana that I wear a lot, too. Their work pants are pretty durable.

    18. Imprudence*

      (in the UK) boden richmond trousers. Smarter than jeans, not as smart as dry-clean only suit trousers.

    19. Pamplemeow*

      To change it up a little I get what are essentially jeans in different fabrics – sateen, corduroy, etc. Loft usually has cute sateen pants for fall. Old Navy has some too I think.

    20. lnelson in Tysons*

      Again if you are in the US, Kohls has pants, not jeans, which are casual, but can be slightly dressier or more casual depending on the top and shoes.
      I also like them because several brands are a cotton mix, which I prefer over the purely synthex mixes.

    21. A. Ham*

      Thank you everyone for all of the amazing suggestions! I am looking forward to doing some shopping! :-)

    22. Clarissa*

      Midi and maxi skirts and dresses are in. More comfortable (for me) than jeans or pants. You can wear tights, leggings, vests and such underneath when it’s cold.

  21. LizB*

    My last day at this job is a week from today, and I start the next job a week from Monday. It’s so close I can taste it…. just gotta wrap up a few things and make sure all the right documentation is left for the next person.

  22. Kramerica Industries*

    I’ve just finished my PhD and am looking to get an industry job outside of academia. I recently got an offer, but the company made it clear that it was an entry level job and there would be little space to add my personal stamp on current processes. From other interviews I’ve gotten, most interviewers are concerned that I’ve never worked in industry. So, while this opportunity is a foot in the door, I’m not sure if I’m settling for too little by taking a job that would normally go to an undergraduate. I’d also be moving to a new city for mediocre pay, but my field is niche so I’m not sure when there will be another (or even a better) opportunity.

    1. House Tyrell*

      I recommend you investigate the ability to move up in this company- is there room for growth or are the upper level managers never planning on leaving so you’ll be stuck lower in the totem pole for awhile. You’ll also want to try and figure out what the salary band is and if you have room for raises for awhile or if you’re close to the top already in the offer, plus what bonuses and benefits are available. Those things may make taking this job worth it for now if you have opportunity for growth, raises, and good benefits.

      To be completely honest, it will be very difficult to find great jobs at the start with a PhD but little practical experience. You’re considered over-educated and under-experienced. One of my friends has a PhD in microbiology and realized he didn’t want to work in academia or research when he was doing his dissertation and now he’s been bartending for over a year because he experienced the same problems you did- concern that he hadn’t been actually working in the industry and that his high level of education in one niche field meant he was unable to work on broader topics. Employers are also worried that you’ll leave quickly if you don’t find the work exciting and get a better offer somewhere else so they’d rather make an offer to someone they think is more likely to stay.

    2. Psyche*

      Do you know someone who transitioned from academia to industry in your field? They would probably be able to tell you if taking the job would be a good idea. If not, you could try looking for an internship or a postdoc position in industry so that you can get some experience in industry and apply again to the jobs you really want.

    3. Frankie*

      Depends on your field, but sometimes the entry level is all you can get until you’ve “proved yourself” in industry/corporate for a couple of years. Tough to say without knowing more, but I definitely had to go through this after graduating with an MA. Most PhDs just aren’t marketable in the way you’d expect them to be.

      I’ve also always had the experience that even very entry-level, inflexible jobs still offered opportunities to learn, grow, and find your niche. You don’t need a plum job right away to be gaining valuable experience.

    4. E*

      Where I work we have a lot of postdocs who go into industry. I think many of them take these postdocs because they provide a lot of industry networking experience and they are definitely more like being in a job than being a grad student. Maybe finding a postdoc and networking during that time is the way to get there?

    5. arcya*

      I’m an industry postdoc! My company typically has 6-7 “postdoctoral fellows” working on research projects relevant to the company, but with the intent to publish (we are in biotech). I don’t know your field specifically obviously, but I would be wary of this position. While it’s super important to be able to say you’ve been in industry for X years on a CV, your role in this position might hold you back if you don’t get much training about internal decision making / industry standards. I would try to find out more about the role – even if you don’t get to move up in this company, what kind of training and experience might they offer? Is there something unique you might be able to learn there?

      If you decide not to take it, is there academic postdoc work you can do? One option might be to do an academic postdoc with an aim towards industry – ie collaborating with companies in your field. This will help you gain contacts and experience even if it’s not specifically “industry experience”.

      Good luck!

    6. YetAnotherUsername*

      I agree you should take it. After a year 9r two you can use the experience plus PhD to get a better job.

      Unfortunately until you have experience even someone with a PhD is an unproven risk because industry is sooo different to academia.

      (source – I have a PhD and 11 years of industry experience).

      Trust me as you move up your PhD will still stand to you long term, but you do have to prove yourself first.

    7. Roza*

      I’d take it. As many others have noted, getting your first job outside of academia is hard — you really do need to prove yourself, people sometimes have a lot of doubts about whether PhDs can thrive in industry. There’s also a genuine learning curve in figuring out workplace culture in your industry. I’m a PhD who went into industry with many friends who did the same, and the only exception I’ve seen to needing to start at or close to entry level is a situation like a Llama Grooming startup and the PhDs dissertation was in new approaches to cloud-based llama grooming, and they’re hired as a product/subject matter expert type person.

      That said, once you get over the initial hurdle, you’ll likely move up more quickly than people without the PhD. That’s been the case for me and many others I’ve known, and it’s definitely worth making sure your employer bases promotions on contributions, not just seniority.

    8. Clever Name*

      I agree with the others on taking the position. And please try to not act overtly “I have a PhD and I’m working a job that would normally go to an undergraduate” when you start your new job. I’m a scientist working in industry, and I participate in the hiring process. I evaluate resumes and participate in interviews. I know that you have a lot of education under your belt, and a PhD is definitely an impressive accomplishment (I have a MS and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments for sure!), but no matter what degree you have, no work experience in the industry = entry level. If you act like you are above the job you were hired to do, you will have a tough go at things.

    9. Job Hunter*

      I was encouraged to aim as high as I can by a friend (with a PhD) in industry…I think it depends on your situation.

  23. AnotherCorporateStooge*

    TLDR; benefits good, pay average, job not challenging, frustrated enough to consider leaving for new career

    I would be nervous to change jobs, especially because where I currently work the benefits and the culture are great — the pay is not too bad, certainly average, but, again, the benefits are great, but my issue is the work I do is not challenging and I find it hard to focus because it’s in a field I have no interest in. Any advice?

    To add: I work in marketing and research, I like the research, but the company is laden with too many inefficiencies and redundancy — I was considering going back to school for law or a science field (astrophysics/chemistry) but thought to take up something new altogether like management consulting.

    I am basically a glorified admin with a snazzy title. I throw parties and attend conferences where I bridge personal relationships between my team members and other companies. My job is essentially a big band-aid for inefficiencies since we are so decentralized — every group operates as its own mini company. Just this morning I was joking around with someone from a client-facing role who teasfully said all I do is, “puts papers in files and organizes stuff and makes us socialize then charges it to the team’s overhead.” It was funny… but TRUE. I laughed, but I can do so much more.
    reposting for some additional/new insights

    1. Meredith*

      Are there big projects you can take on to address those inefficiencies? Are there other tasks or positions in the company you think would be more interesting that you could learn about or lend skills to? Can you potentially look into project management/get a PMP, which with your current experience could land you a job in project management or consulting?

    2. Alex*

      I’m kind of in the same boat. I’ve tried expanding my role to take on some more advanced work, but it is like pulling teeth.

      Most days I’m quite literally bored to tears. But my pension is great.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Go for it, make the change.

      Right now you are frustrated, in ten years you will be crushed. This type of thing has a knack of draining a soul right out of a person.

      Look at it from this perspective: It’s a basic human need, right up there with food and water, to make a meaningful contribution in this world. It’s probably a bad plan to go too long feeling the way you do. What you are feeling now will only get bigger, this is reasonable to assume. Meanwhile, other people are in job where they are developing more marketable skills. And you are learning how to make dysfunction work well.

      To me, good benefits and average pay is a shell game. It looks like they are giving you something but the benefit is probably either low cost to them or something they have figured you won’t use. Personally, I want coins in my pocket.

      Many places have good things about them. But we have to check to figure out if those good things are actually elevating our quality of life. It’s okay to insist on more.

  24. Can I hear a Wahoo?*

    Project Management strategies, tips, tricks, and templates. Please share! In my new position I am managing multiple projects and events of varying sizes, timelines, and priorities, and things are falling by the wayside. How do you all keep track of everything? How do you write a project plan for something you’ve never done before that takes place months in the future with both daily and long term tasks?

    1. AnotherCorporateStooge*

      would really like to know if anyone has anything to offer to this question because I am in the same boat.

    2. The Curator*

      I asked exactly the same question about a year ago.
      This book was the most helpful to me.
      Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits: Approaches and Templates to Help You Manage with Limited Resources Paperback – June 24, 2013
      by Karen R.J. White (Author), Pamela Puleo (Introduction

    3. Drax*

      Calendars. I use monthly calendars with key dates noted, as well as color assign each project. I personally use the big desk top monthly calendar so I can write notes on it and have more space to add in deadlines and such.

      Every time you take on a new project spend 15-20 minutes making your timeline then mark them ALL (even insignificant dates) on the calendar – use the same one for all your projects. I include dates for self imposed deadlines, and such in order to keep me on track and even notes like “Check with Jane for X, Y”. Then at a glance you know what has to get done that week and what’s coming up.

      I’d also take a look at the Kanban method which is pretty cool one, but i do not have the space to set up.

      1. Drax*

        Also, I work in project manufacturing so I’m not 100% how that would translate into events but it may work

        1. Kate*

          Do you have some kind of standard project management methodology on your team? If your team doesn’t and you’re all kind of your own – consider suggesting a standard task tracking system for the team. You can gather input from others on the team (especially those who’ve been there a while and are successful in the eyes of leadership), and use their tips/tricks to help build out a tracking system.

          Without a PM tool of any kind… I live and die by my outlook calendar like others have said as well. I use color coding as well at a really basic level – I don’t color code everything, because that just adds more work. But, the standard blue color is basically everything, then I use green for urgent/time sensitive tasks, and yellow is for reminders.

          So if I have a deadline I need to meet on a Friday, for example – I’d block out time to complete the task prior to Friday, but also schedule some reminders leading up the deadline.

          Also – less popular, but if you have multiple projects – I would create a one-page (if possible) checklist to manually mark off what’s been done, key dates, etc., for each project. Then use outlook for major milestones. Depending on how much paper you work with – you could have a binder for each project and put your checklist in the front cover. Or – it could be just a checklist and all your actual work is online. Or – if you are paper free, create an excel checklist and digitally update as you work on each project. (If you do this – each project could have it’s own tab, and you can design it so you have one main tab with all “due this week” tasks so you can see your week at a glance, etc.) Paper or electronic really just depends on you prefer to work. Sorry this was kind of a big ramble :)

          1. Mimblewimble*

            +1 on color coding my outlook calendar. I give each color a fun name for those moments when I need something small to smile at. The red color is used for deadlines and I renamed it DEFCON 5.

            I also put reminders on my calendar so I won’t forget key project events.

            I use spreadsheets and Gantt charts to track my current, upcoming, future, and completed projects.

            As for project plans, I use my own template but there are many online you can use to get you started. The key is to work backwards from the end/launch date to figure out milestones. From there you can create a schedule. Then adjust the schedule as the project scope becomes better defined; it’s ok to have a pretty basic schedule for projects that are a long way off. It’s very normal.

            1. Memyselfandi*

              Color coding for me too! It also gives a quick visual read on how your time is being distributed among projects and any imbalance.

      2. Frankie*

        Calendars are key for me as well. Kanbans are okay for sub-portions of projects, but for the higher level, I need to map everything out on a calendar. I put final deadlines and then work backward in the calendar to figure out all the activities that need to happen. I try to add a little buffer, too, because little things always come up.

        There are free project management tools out there that let you construct separate projects and look at all of them together on one calendar. Personally, this is what works best for me.

    4. Meredith*

      Do you have project management tools? Do you have tasks or moving parts that other people need to be responsible for, with specific due dates? If so, I’d recommend looking into a system that can help. It could be as simple as Basecamp or more complex like Wrike, Asana or Teamwork (I use the latter). I think all are free for a small number of users, and then have paid options from there.

      I also love my physical paper planner. I use the Full Focus Planner, which has a 2 page spread for each day, including a daily Big Three priorities, task list, day calendar for appointments/meetings, and a full page for notes (plus more note pages in the back). The Full Focus system is really about large and small goal planning, but the planner itself is super well laid out for my needs. (I’m a digital marketing strategist and account manager at an agency, so I juggle multiple clients and work with a team who all execute different parts of projects.)

    5. Professional Pup*

      Do you have a budget for software? I really like Asana for for a ‘home base’ of sorts (it does actually have a free version that works perfectly, but if you want to get your team onboard and do more advanced things with it, there’s a subscription). I also really liked the book “Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager” when I started taking over multiple projects.

      You’ll want to break down the project into progressively smaller chunks. So let’s say the project is “Release a new teapot” — your first break down would be large chunks like “Create teapot design,” “Get approval for teapot,” “Manufacture teapot.” Then you might break down “Create teapot design” into “Brainstorm teapot features,” “Consult with teapot engineers,” “Develop 3 prototypes,” and then you might break down “Brainstorm teapot features” into “Meet with design team about color schemes,” “Do teapot market research,” “Sketch teapot ideas,” etc. What I’m saying is, don’t try to jump from “Release a new teapot” straight into “Meet with design team about color schemes”-level tasks. If you’re planning a project you’ve never done before, figure out where you need to start with the high level tasks of the project, then get face time with the people who can answer your questions – like, “I know I need to get approval for the teapot design once it’s complete. Which departments need to be involved in that?”

      1. ACDC*

        I was also going to recommend Asana. It’s a great tool and easier than making multiple calendars, folders, etc. to manage all of your stuff.

    6. CM*

      For the multitasking piece, I keep a single piece of paper (or a single page in my notebook) that succinctly lists all the projects I have going and (if possible) their current status. It’s a single page so I can look at it really quickly and remind myself where everything is in the big picture.

      For the project planning part, there are lots of methods and lots of tools you can buy, but the important thing is really to know who’s doing what and how long it takes to do that stuff, and then check in to see if it’s on track. I’ve never found anything that works better than getting the whole team in a meeting room or on a conference call and developing a workback schedule together. It gives everyone a chance to hear why it takes so-and-so a million years to do something they assumed would be a quick task, and understand why the milestones and soft deadlines are set where they are. For tracking what you’ve committed to as far as the schedule and whether people are making progress, you could use Basecamp or Asana or, if you have no budget for that, even a google doc that everyone can see and update.

      Pro tip for tracking other people’s progress: don’t just ask a yes or no question like, “Is this on track?” because people will say yes when the answer is actually “IDK because I completely forgot to think about it until now” or “IDK but I’m assuming yes because I think someone else is doing it” or something similar. Ask more detailed questions about the level of progress you’d expect to see at this stage (if someone’s producing X number of widgets ask how many they’ve produced so far, or which parts of the process they’ve done so far, or if they ran into an issue with Y that would crop up at the end of the process), or ask them to bring a demo to the meeting, or set an expectation that people give a short speech about what they’ve been working on at the status update meetings and that it’s more detailed than just saying, “I’m totally doing that.”

    7. AnonPi*

      For a digital task tracker check out trello, I’ve used it a little but don’t have many long term/large scope projects so I’ve not used it to it’s full capabilities. But I know a lot of people at my workplace use it and really like it.

      1. Nela*

        I second Trello!
        I use it to manage my own business, as well as events I worked on with my (former) nonprofit organization, and it has never failed me. One thing I’m missing is a calendar view that shows deadlines across multiple Trello boards, but you can get around that with the Planyway power-up.

    8. RavenclawShorts*

      I typically use Microsoft Project and make gantt charts but that is typical in my field. It can be time consuming but it works well for what I use it for.

    9. Imprudence*

      Not Project management but the Getting Things Done by Dave Allen book was life changing for me. keep a list of projects, Next steps(s) and dates to review.

    10. GG*

      Echoing others on heavy Outlook use! You can find what works for you but you could try things like – recurring appointments, e.g. every Monday afternoon, for yourself to “check in with Partner X” or “review budget spend.” Putting deadlines in Outlook but more valuable is the week-before a deadline, e.g. “start working on grant report, due in 1 week.” When I’m feeling really organized I’ll also block a time for myself “work time on Project X” and in the meeting invite I’ll list the tasks I want to get done in that time chunk.

      I also keep a three-tiered to-do list to manage big picture and micro: 1) A macro list that I update maybe every 1 – 2 weeks which is more “things to keep in mind.” It’s organized by project and the list items are not discrete tasks but more like “figure out who to talk to about this question” or “think about strategy for next month’s meeting – it’s how I keep track of the general questions and big things that are going on in the project I need to have on my radar. 2) A to-do list for the week – these are closer to discrete tasks – “plan and share agenda for next week’s meeting” – “research topic A.” 3) A daily to-do list (when I’m feeling really organized) which are very specific things I need / want to get done that day, which will help me complete the bigger picture things, e.g. “read Articles A & B” “email Sarah about the meeting” etc.

      For the project plan – are there plans for similar projects that have been done previously that you can use to understand the big milestones and how long they generally take? Ask a veteran to sit down for an hour and just braindump for you, and then you craft it into a more organized project plan? I often build project plans in a lot of detail and then find that I never return to them and they almost always end up being way off – so I think a key to using them effectively is really ensuring they’re living documents, as things out of your control will always happen, you underestimated how much time something would take, etc.

      Good luck!

    11. YetAnotherUsername*

      I have a work bullet journal. I use the threading and page numbering / indexing tools and have a weekly spread with 5 days and a to do section. Bullet for to do, dash for info, box with bullet for meeting. X means complete. Move tasks forward as needed.

      I also use outlook to set reminders for myself to check on things. You can set an appointment to still show you are free in case anyone needs to book a meeting but it will still pop up as an appointment to remind you. Set outlook meetings with other people early and book them a long time out. They might have to move but that’s fine, if you don’t put them in they won’t happen.

      Once a week take stock of everything and at the end of every day do notes from today, actions for tomorrow.

      I also have an “outstanding actions” excel file for each project.

  25. Left out?*

    Hi Guys,
    Happy Friday. I have a question for y’all cause I need a reality check. There was a local (within 2ish hours drive) conference this past week that I attended with my boss last year. It was a great conference and I was really looking forward to attending again this year. Back in July, I asked my boss if I was attending again, and he said that after discussing it with the CEO they choose not to have me attend with my boss because of office coverage. I never confirmed it with the CEO. Yesterday my boss came back and handed me my swag bag and told me people asked about me. Turned out I was registered to attend (I have my access badge and everything). This is weird right?

    1. Laurencia*

      That is weird! I would talk to the CEO so it’s clear you didn’t deliberately not show up / waste the inscription fee

    2. AnotherCorporateStooge*

      I don’t really see the weird… maybe whoever manages registrations messed up and registered you? It does bode well that people asked abut you which means you made an impression them.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I bet your boss didn’t want you to take the day off and your CEO never said a word to him about your not attending.

        2. Psyche*

          Is it possible he registered you before they decided that office coverage would be an issue? You can always clarify it with your boss. It doesn’t sound like he was wondering where you were or thought you forgot to go.

    3. Lovecraft Beauty*

      That’s super weird. Probably attributable to communications failure, but I would follow up aggressively to ensure that people know you wanted to go and were never given information you should have had.

    4. Antilles*

      The decision itself is totally reasonable – having multiple team members out at the same time can be difficult. Even if it worked fine last year, it’s possible they realized that it just wasn’t a great plan.
      But it’s definitely weird that they told you it didn’t make sense this year, but paid for your registration anyways and didn’t tell you that. Especially for a local conference like that where it’s feasible to cherry-pick a day or two of particularly interesting topics without needing to have a full-week hole in coverage.

    5. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      To decide you need to be in the office, and tell you this when you ask: not weird.
      Not following up with the CEO after your boss tells you this: also not weird.

      To register you anyway and not tell you: super weird. At minimum, it’s a waste of the company’s money. I’m surprised they just let the registration go unused instead of trying to get a refund or transferred to a coworker.

      1. Psyche*

        Most of the conferences I go to are nonrefundable and often non transferable. Also, if there was another colleague that would benefit from the conference I would think that they would also be able to provide coverage so it may be that there would be no one else who would benefit from the conference. It really seems more likely that he registered before talking to the CEO and decided that the lost cost of registering was better than the lack of coverage.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      And why didn’t your boss call you when he didn’t see you there, if he registered you? SUPER WEIRD.

  26. Joielle*

    We talk a lot about how it’s not a good idea to work for your friends – which, in theory, makes a ton of sense. And we also talk about how the best way to network is to think of it as taking a genuine interest in someone and making a connection with them.

    So here’s my question. I recently started a new job, which I got partially because the hiring manager is a friend of mine. We met at a networking event when I was in law school, kept in touch, and became genuine friends – not super close BFFs or anything, but we’re part of the same social circle, invite each other to parties a few times a year, know each other’s spouses, etc. It’s going just fine so far – I think we are going to pull back the social interactions a bit, but since we have friends in common, we’ll still see each other socially from time to time.

    I feel like I did the right thing – networking via making a genuine connection with someone – but still ended up in a “bad” position – working for a friend. I don’t really have a problem, since in this case I don’t foresee drama (although I guess you never expect it) but I’m interested in what you all think. Should I have done something different?

    1. AnotherCorporateStooge*

      Hard to say… if you’re both capable and reasonable adults you should be able to navigate this with few hiccups. Why do you think you should have done something different?

      1. Joielle*

        It just seems to be a generally-accepted principle around here that you shouldn’t work with your friends because of the potential for interpersonal drama, which makes perfect sense in theory… except that if you do networking right, you’ll probably end up being friends with potential colleagues.

        In my case, I’m happy with how it’s playing out, but I’m interested in peoples’ perspectives on what seems to be two opposing principles.

        1. Psyche*

          I think that the advice is generally referring to close friends. Interpersonal drama is much more likely if you are really close and hang out a lot than if you go to the same parties a few times a year.

        2. sacados*

          I think the caveat is that it needs to be a relationship where the friendship is not more important than the working relationship.
          Sort of like how people say don’t lend money to family/friends– unless it’s an amount that you would be OK with theoretically never getting back.

          Because if you do wind up working for a friend, it’s going to cause problems if you try to maintain the friendship over/at the expense of the working relationship. If you’re both able to scale back on the friendship and transition to a healthy boss/employee relationship then you’re going to be fine!

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I worked for one of my closest friends for 3 years and it was awesome (corporate office, not a company he owned). We knew we could handle it because we both work hard and are drama-free individuals. We never had an issue, not even once. His other direct reports knew we were friends but I had a completely different role than they did and was not competition to them, so there was no resentment. They were thankful to have me because my role actually saved them a ton of painful work. Neither of us took advantage of the fact we were friends (meaning I didn’t expect special treatment) and I was really sad when he moved on. I would work with him again in a heartbeat.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I’ve been in a similar position many times. I’m in a business that networks heavily–you really can get nothing done if you don’t know anyone. And that means, yes, you will make friends. I’d say most of my professional network are what I’d call friendly acquaintances, but I have some true friends among them. This is typical in my industry. I’ve experienced and seen it go very, very well. I’ve had horrible experiences/witnessed some catastrophes as well. And everything in between. For me, the principle is Work Product First. And boundaries. And maturity. And just… knowing that sometimes something will become a mess because of personal relationships and business being mixed and that’s the way it is.

    4. tamarack & fireweed*

      This is something I have a few steps worth of disagreement with Alison about, so take it with a huge pinch of salt: I actually don’t think working for or managing friends is necessarily perilous … if both are able to behave like mature adults, separate out “friend” things and “work” things, and are resilient around things neither of them has much control over, or where conflict arises.

      I was in this situation more than 10 years ago. I was hired into a team where I quickly became good friends with one of the colleagues. It turned out that even though we were both then in a different country from our country of origin, we had gone to the same school, lived in the same town, hung out in the same places and known the same teachers, but with him being 5 years older, didn’t know each other back then. 6 months after being hired, I was made team lead, with day-to-day management responsibility over the team (which during my tenure grew from 3 to 9 reports, plus me). Our general manager, who was probably the first actually good manager I ever knew, sat me down in his office and said something like this: “Congratulations on your promotion. Here’s a thing you need to know: You’re going to manage a friend. This is possible. [Insert somewhat contrived anecdote about the owner of a small company who had to fire his underperforming son, but immediately offered him financial support to get back on his feet… the upshot was to keep apart the roles of “superior/boss” and “friend/person you care about”.] There will be times where you have to talk to him and say ‘this is your boss speaking’. There will be times when you can be a friend.” Etc. And it turned out fine! What actually happened is that my friend felt empowered (qua friendship) to tell me things that every leader hopes someone will tell them, but team members rarely bring up. In my case, the team was frustrated that meetings didn’t start on time, so I buckled down and learned how to run meetings efficiently AND ON TIME. I was better at my job because of him.

      Now of course in your case, it’s most important that awareness of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them is on the radar of your friend, as he’s your boss. If your friendship is close enough, you may even bring it up with him. Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can agree with this. It can work.
        It’s like dancing though, one has to lead and the other has to follow when it comes to the job.

        I have a boss now that I consider a friend. Fortunately, I am in awe of her as a professional so this makes it super easy. When we are talking about work, she is The Leader. When we are talking about life stuff, you can feel the equal footing come right back into the conversation.
        Additionally, we have worked together for some years now. We each have mundane parts of the job that we know the other one excels at. If she has problem with X, she knows I am good at X and I will fix it when I come in. And the reverse is true, she can fly through problems with Y in a very short time. I wait for her on all the Y problems.
        As tamarack points out, we can say things to each other that others may not say. And it’s fine, no drama, just “thanks for telling me.” Another thing that has happened is we have worked out standard ways of handling things that are custom fit to us as a team and suit how we handle the work. These standardizations may or may not work for another set of people doing our work. This is interesting, we have come up with the SOPs because we were highly motivated to see the other one succeed. Handling piles of confusing stuff in a similar manner each time is very supportive to the other person. When I get something from her with steps 1-3 already completed so I don’t have to do that part also, I realize that she is thinking about what the workflow looks like on my end. It’s a warm gesture.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I think that’s a perfectly fine level of social contact for coworkers and a boss/employee.

      I mean, if you met someone on the job and got together socially in groups 2-3x per year, you’d meet each other’s spouses and have an overlapping social circle. And if one of you got promoted, you could dial it back a little without anybody getting crushed.

      The problem is when you’re so involved with each other’s lives that the boss is tempted to overlook performance issues or cross professional boundaries and make unreasonable demands. Or when the obligations and emotional vulnerability of friendship interfere with giving or receiving appropriate feedback.

    6. Anon Now Nearly Friendless at Work*

      I had several jobs where I did work with friends. The work was interesting and highly technical. Right now I have interesting and highly technical work, but I definitely am not working with friends, and I miss that aspect a lot. I have opportunities here that I didn’t before, so it’s a natural progression, but I’d love to be working in a more friendly environment again.

      Humans can always manage to have drama, and taking steps to try to anticipate all situations in advance, like not having friends at work, are not likely to be helpful, in my opinion. Certainly I have seen many dramatically awful situations that did not involve friends at work.

    7. Hamburke*

      My husband worked for a friend twice – the first turned out poorly and the second turned out to be one of the best work experiences he’s had. We moved with small children and me a sahm for both of these jobs so there was significant risk. He’s moved on from both jobs now and we’re only friends with one couple.

      The one that went poorly had lots of signs that his friend wasn’t a good manager from the start (shifting priorities with no communication, overpromising, very little communication of project goals or methods followed by berating when their finished project didn’t meet his vision, shifted blame from the boss to the worker bees to higher ups, failure to do the admin side of managing – check ins, reviews, approval of pto, etc). Some of this came from the high pressure industry they supported (IT dept for accounting firm) but it definitely could have been managed better.

  27. The Curator*

    Who hoo! The book came off the press reformatted and it looks beautiful. I have received numerous speaking invitations to talk about the work. Whew. Having a bit of post project let down. Suggestions? Recommendations?

      1. the curator*

        I don’t know. I was so excited and exhausted. Many nights and weekends. I have classes to prep for and a few other small projects as well as the usual deadlines and am feeling a bit meh. I did take it easy today and just go in for a few hours.

        1. Office Gumby*

          Post-book ennui. It happens to every author.
          Best way of getting over it: write another book. Really. Get back on that horse.

    1. LizB*

      Oh hey there fellow Minnesotan! I’m not a librarian but I work with kids and I kinda want to read your book now, it looks awesome. As for post-project let down, can you take some time off or treat yourself to something fun over the weekend, then come back to reflect on what you’d like your next project to be? (Which might be scheduling all of your speaking engagements, for a while.)

      1. the curator*

        My classes begin next week so life is going to pretty packed real soon. Next project that has been hovering is a graphic format how and why to read aloud to kids of all ages. Sort of a comic “read aloud handbook”
        I hope you can take a look at the book. It is a free download. I already heard from one after school program in Minneapolis that has started doing it. great weather today huh?

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yes, take a day or two to do something rewarding and fun. Get out of your usual routine, even if it’s just going to a nearby city to wander around their museums or bookshops or waterfront and eat in their restaurants. It’s a great way to build a bit of a gateway between the end of the stage you’ve been in and the start of a new one. You could even design it like a personal retreat where you start to think about goals and next steps.

      And congratulations!

      1. the curator*

        A retreat. That is a spectacular idea. I haven’t been to the pool in months. Its time to get back into a regular exercise routine. I committed to not looking at anything work-related this weekend. Fun- what is this fun that you speak of and how does it happen.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m with the treat-yourself faction. Then pick a new project and get started on that. Congratulations!

      1. the curator*

        I have just finished my emails, my blog posting, and I am officially taking the WHOLE weekend off. I have a comfy porch. A new laptop. A stack of books. Food in the fridge. And the small old dog.

  28. Meminator*

    I’d love to hear people’s dealbreakers—in the past, what has caused you to look for a different job? I’m interested particularly in situations where the current job isn’t a nightmare hellmouth…where there’s significant benefits to the job you’d be giving up. Where is that line for you all and what pushes you to take the leap?

    1. Lygeia*

      I am just starting a job search. I’ve been with my company for a little over four years. It’s been a great place for my professional growth. The thing that is causing me to consider moving on? My boss, who is the founder/managing director of this small company, is starting to think of retiring. Along with that she’s been loading a lot of projects on me in order to prepare the business to sell. So I’m getting overwhelmed. Combined with the uncertainty of what will change when the company changes hands, and it feels like it’s time.

    2. Lovecraft Beauty*

      I just left a job where I loved the work and loved my coworkers …but there was very little room for growth-on-paper (title, salary) and which was heading into a period of work that looked like it would be super stressful and I wanted no part of it. And I was pretty mad about the lack of growth and how upper management talked about it.

      I generally keep an eye on what’s open in my field and keep my résumé updated so I can apply on a moment’s notice, so I’m always theoretically ready to apply to the “perfect” opportunity if it exists. The job I started had a significant increase in responsibility and salary.

    3. Fiddlesticks*

      Vacation time. A few jobs ago, I was offered an opportunity for a significant pay bump, but in the discussions about the role, it came out that the company only offered 10 days PTO a year — which for the industry we’re in and the seniority they were hiring for was an absolute dealbreaker. I told them thanks but no thanks and sort of marveled that any of my counterparts would bite.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        My husband was given that initial offer of 10 PTO days for a very senior experienced position. He would have turned it down flat too if they hadn’t immediately backtracked and offered 15 + flex options. It’s still not great, but he basically told them 10 PTO was far below industry standard and they had probably heard that enough by then to force a change.

    4. cloud puff*

      I left a job where I enjoyed a lot of things like cool coworkers, flexible hours, nice manager, etc. One day I just realized I hated 80% of the work I did, but really enjoyed 20% of it, so I left and pursued a job where I did more of that 20%.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My newest (current) job just sorta fell into my lap, but I had been starting to think about my future in that role because while it was by no means awful, I liked the company more than the role itself. I felt like I was never going to quite get the time and leeway to do what I wanted to do with the job, no matter how supportive my manager seemed; there were always more pressing issues I felt I had to take ownership of. I also was a lot more customer-facing than I had thought I would be. So when a new opportunity at the same company presented itself, I thought – what do I have to lose. And I went for it.

    6. Saraphina*

      I’m dealing with what appear to be some sexist issues at my workplace…I love the work, but it might be enough for me to look elsewhere, and it’s only been a few months.

    7. Meredith*

      Salary freezes. I moved up the salary ladder well at one company, for the first 5 years. Then recession, salary freeze, then I began working remotely, and I knew I’d never get another raise. What seemed like suddenly (but wasn’t) I wasn’t really making all that much money for my field. So it was time to move on.

      Also, management changes that don’t affect your position or work, but can signal turmoil in the company. That was a lucky break for me – the CEO resigned, then the number 2 guy resigned 6 weeks later. The new President/CEO seemed to be a bit of a blowhard, and I already had one foot out the door. The new guy had been there less than 3 weeks when I gave notice. The company ended up folding about 6 months later.

    8. Professional Pup*

      Low pay compared to market for my position was keeping me VERY close to the line for 2 years. TL;DR what pushed me over was realizing that institutional dysfunction was going to leave me stuck with an incompetent coworker who was a terrible fit for her position.

      The long version: last year, one of my coworkers resigned very suddenly to take a new job, and my other coworker was leaving around the same time because of a planned move to another state. My department went from 4 full-time staff to 2. Then, the CEO overruled my boss and moved my remaining coworker to a different department for 3/4 of the day, so I was now by myself. My boss made an internal hire, Cersei, from another department that seemed like a good fit, but she turned out to be total dead weight AND extremely unpleasant/rude. So, I was basically handling all the day to day operations alone. I raised the issues with Cersei to my boss several times as they became more and more apparent, and eventually I realized that because Cersei had been with the company for quite a while, it was unlikely that they would fire her. Of course, the dysfunction that led to this one particular issue was part of a much larger pattern of problematic organizational behavior, but this was somehow the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    9. Goose Lavel*

      I asked for a salary review after doing many tasks above my job description for over a year. Told I had to wait on a company wide salary review.
      3 months later, review came back saying I was under paid by 40% as I was working as a laboratory manager and not as a technician. Knowing how tight my company was, I said I would accept 20% raise and they offered ZERO!
      I put in my notice one month later and they never asked why.
      Best move of my career.

    10. Cheese and wine*

      Loved my job, loved my co-workers, loved the area. But when my department was targeted for budget cuts and layoffs, my boss openly told us he wouldn’t fight for us because it would endanger his job. I lost any remaining respect for him and realized I was heading for honest-to-Dog insubordination. I doubt he’d ever have fired me because that would take effort, but the realization that I’d gotten into such a negative headspace got me searching.

    11. Kate*

      My last straw was essentially being passed over for a promotion – literally not even being considered – for someone with no experience in the role. Backstory – I had worked on the team for 10+ years and worked my way up the ladder. For about 5-years I was in the position where I was the #2 person in the department, second to my boss. She actually got fed up with senior leadership eventually and left – and 12-hours after she announced her departure, I formally approached her and shared that I would like to be considered as her successor. She informed me that senior leadership already identified a new guy to take over – it was decided that he would be her successor (should she ever leave) well before she actually chose to resign. So for me – it was knowing that beyond our team – senior leaders didn’t see me as a leader, and never even considered me. On my team and my direct boss – they all thought I was amazing and the broader team was pretty shocked that I *wasn’t* going to be taking over. I stayed on for nearly a year after – but finally threw the towel in and let the org, but on a positive note, gave a month notice, all relationships in tact, etc. I waited a LONG time to leave, until I was sure I was really ready to leave, because overall – I LOVED the company and my team.

    12. Hamlindigoblue*

      I’ve been at this job only since January, and I put my resume out yesterday. The team has turned out to be toxic, the manager spineless, and the way I have found out that new projects (4 so far) have been assigned to me is when strangers from other departments show up at my desk to ask for status. Um..the status is “I do not know what you are talking about.” Everyone is so willing to throw everyone else under the bus. I am worried about moving on because I was only in my last position for a year, and I thought this was going to be a good move. I reached my BS threshold this morning, and it’s just so disappointing.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Oh my goodness. Did you get any indications during your interview that this was maybe not the best move for you?

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          Not at all. The interview didn’t send up any red flags, and the work was exactly what I wanted to do. I actually wound up taking a slight reduction of benefits to move into this job. I interviewed with my manager as well as two of my coworkers. There was nothing on Glassdoor or Indeed ratings to indicate any possible issues. It reminds me of one big dysfunctional family that can put on a good face for strangers, but inside the home is a different story.

    13. Turtlewings*

      I’ve left two jobs that I really liked — the first because I just wasn’t making enough money to get by, and the second because I really wanted to be closer to my family. Everyone I loved lived multiple hours away from me and I hated it. (Ended up moving into one of those nightmare hellmouth jobs, unfortunately, so in terms of total life happiness I have to say it was a lateral move. It got me where I needed to be, though.)

    14. Red5*

      I’d say about half of the time I started looking for a different job was due to wanting to advance my career. The other half was due to having a bad manager. Sometimes those two reasons collided (I had a bad manager and was able to get a new job that advanced my career). I left one early in my career specifically due to gender-based pay discrimination, though maybe that falls under bad management.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m with you on the reasons – needing more money and having bad managers/wanting to advance.

    15. alex b.*

      Great question; I’m enjoying reading these answers.

      Mine: the commute

      My life is 100% public transit and walking (nyc). The commute can make or break a job for me. Regularly terrible commutes spoil my quality of life and mood and exhaust/frustrate me so much that they outweigh almost any good things about a job. Obviously MTA, random issues, and weather can foil things sometimes, and I think I have an OK tolerance level for occasional and light hiccups, but if I have a truly terrible commute regularly more than a few times a month, I’m job searching.

      I left a great job over this years ago. The only access from my apartment was an unreliable, overcrowded bus; then an overcrowded, sometimes closed local subway; and then a hike up a steep hill that would ice over in winter and never get salted. Not worth the great things the job offered.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        I left a job a few years ago over a commute– they moved offices (only about a mile) and it added an hour to my commute because of Boston’s horrible outdated public transportation system. I was a new parent at the time and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      2. Bibliovore*

        I loved my job. I loved where I lived. I loved my coworkers. The commute was a heavy part of the decision to n take the new job on pro/con list. On good days it took about an hour and 1/4, on bad days who knew, and the starting time was not flexible.
        New job. I learned to drive. I can be in my kitchen with a cup of coffee at 8:15 and be at my desk at 8:30.
        My hours are flexible in the sense that I can work all the time and somedays not arrive until 10 if there are no meetings or classes to teach.

    16. QueryingtheMassesforHelp*

      In my current role, I found that I can live with (barely) the little that I have to do because I am fortunate to get paid a six figure salary to make PowerPoints. Yet, I can’t live with the ineptitude and unprofessionalism of my boss. I really wish that they would get management training and that I could tell someone who could make this happen. My boss has been at the company for a long time so I doubt anything will happen. Which is disappointing, because I’m burnt out from my previous job and wouldn’t mind doing nothing for at least two years before moving back to a job where I’m contributing at a high level and doing things.

      1. Imprudence*

        Left my last job when I realsied I was spending 1.5 hours a day in a car: 1.5 hours i didn’t have to spare. Also a boss who clock watched me and couldn’t bear that I had negotiated her down to part time.

        New job — slightly fewer hours, same money, slightly less interesting, better benefits, great boss. And Ican cycle to work in 10 minutes.

        1. QueryingtheMassesforHelp*

          I made it in as I was part of the hiring spree to build a new team and my grandboss did the hiring. New hires to the team seem to make up all of boss’ old gossip buddies from their last team.

    17. lnelson in Tysons*

      I made sure that I was included in a round of lay-offs. It was a start up and the home office decided to reduce the US headcount by about 65%.
      As HR, I saw who/which department were going to be gone and who was moving into leadership positions.
      The guy who I knew was taking over, well to call him the devil is being cruel to the devil. So I went to the then CFO (who was also on the chopping block) and asked to lay me off and keep the office manager. Who surprisingly still speak to me in spite of this.
      Another was office politics. A senator was chairman of the non-profit and during the election the place was a nightmare. The President’s behavior after the election was appealing. It really left a bad taste in my mouth.

    18. EDinTX*

      I left because it was clear the last my values were not the company’s values. My boss told me to be less smart because people don’t like smart women and referred to me as his secretary (secretaries are awesome, but I was a director!) when I helped him edit a letter (and he took all the credit). Everyone knew that he was useless, but he talked a good game and was given a pass.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        What the hell?! Yeah, I completely understand why you left. “People don’t like smart women?!” No, only idiots don’t.

    19. NewReadingGlasses*

      Our center director held a center-wide meeting to “boost morale” in which he told us we were all lucky to be there and should stop whining. My morale was actually ok until right that minute.

      1. Onyx*

        I just reached this point at my current company and am beginning to put out feelers for new opportunities. I like my team and my colleagues, but I’m tired of the lack of upward mobility opportunities available to me. I want to lead instead of being delegated to the background. I’m also tired of my manager’s inability to say no to new projects without having appropriate resources available (we desperately need to hire more people) and then passing along the projects with an unrealistic scope to me.

    20. Public Health Nerd*

      My dad taught me that in a typically good job, you can expect to hate it 30% of the time and love it 70% of the time. For me, I start paying attention to what’s going on with happiness at work when I’m consistently hating it more than 20% of the week. I mean, I hate mass mailings and expense reports, but as long as those take up less than one day a week, I’m good.

  29. Boba tea*

    i’m in my last year of college and has some experiences. i just finished an internship as well. how soon do i apply for a full time job that start after i graduate? how do i know if employers are okay with a student who will start when they graduate vs someone who can start right away, do they list it in the job description or? i might move to another state to be with my bf, how do i navigate this out of state job search ? im starting to worry about what to do and how to do it best to have a job lined up after i graduate. any advice is appreciated!

    1. Lovecraft Beauty*

      Depends on your field, but generally if you start applying three months before graduation, people can work with that. (I know law, for example, has hiring cycles a calendar year in advance for entry level; my field has slow hiring processes so I started applying for positions in February when I was graduating in May.)

    2. AnotherCorporateStooge*

      You should be applying to jobs BEFORE you graduate. Some employers will be okay with you starting upon graduation and others will not, just be clear during the interview about this caveat and let it be… though your resume should make it clear that your expected college graduation is, ex, December 2019 or whatever. You should also find out if you’ll be moving to another state ASAP because that will set your geographic boundaries for where you should be applying. Be cognizant that you may have to travel to your new state to interview. I would really start there: figuring out if you’re moving to a new state or not. But if it’s so undetermined, you may want to apply to jobs as if you were moving and to jobs as if you’re not moving and if you get any offers politely decline assuming the timeline works.

    3. philosophical_conversation*

      Yeah, really gonna say that this depends on your field. Certain jobs specifically want New College Grads, for others it depends.
      For example, I’m in engineering and we start hiring in October/November for NCG. Does your school have a job fair or any resources that could point you towards hiring practices in your field?

      1. KTM*

        I will second this for engineering. We are interviewing seniors in the fall and have people locked down by the holidays or early in Jan

    4. LKW*

      That might be a good detail to include in a cover letter. Most larger companies will get it, especially when they see your projected graduation date.

    5. MeMeM*

      All the colleges I know of have a career guidance office. When I was in school, that office made arrangements with employers who came to the school to interview students – the employers knew you wouldn’t be starting until you graduated. You signed up for available interview spots and had a 15 to 30 minute interview at the school campus. If they liked you, it was followed by a more in-depth interview. My niece’s college even helps students who have graduated (for a year free, and then for $50 a semester). There should be a lot of help for you at the career guidance office. I had all my interviews during the final 9 months of school.

  30. Lygeia*

    Having an awkward problem today. I wore a maxi length dress to the office that I love, but it must have dragged or rubbed against something gross on my commute. Because there is a SMELL. Hoping I’m the only one who notices as it isn’t super strong, but it’s really a bad smell.

    1. Jamie*

      Can you see it/feel it? If so (and it isn’t dry clean only) can you go wash it really quick in the bathroom?

      I’m assuming it’s on the hem which wouldn’t really be noticeable when drying in the office.

      1. Emily S.*

        I often spill food on my clothes on lunch. Obviously that’s not as serious! — but I usually just try to clean it up in the restroom. You can use hand soap and water.

        Once I’m done washing it as best I can, I take some paper towels and dab it dry as much as possible.

      2. Lygeia*

        Sadly, I can’t tell where it is. There’s no stain or gunk or anything. I did rinse some of the hem with soap and water in the bathroom, and it helped. I can still sometimes get a whiff, but it might just be my brain tricking me. I think it’s not noticeable to others. I hope :)

    2. Avasarala*

      Once my trash bag leaked some trash juice onto my coat. Thank god it was a waterproof coat but omg it stank so badly all the way home. I felt so mortified—sorry everyone, I don’t normally smell this bad!!

  31. Tintaglia*

    Are there any teachers out there with ADHD? How do you handle it? I teach high school English and have really struggled with keeping things straight and not drown in a sea of papers. Between attendance, collection papers, remembering to post assignments online, grading the papers, entering the grades online, I feel like I’m always behind or dropping the ball on something. And even if I do get things posted, it’s in the wrong spot or for the wrong date. It feels a lot like playing whack-a-mole where I can only remember a finite number of things and that number is less than I have to do.

    1. Eshrai*

      I’m not a teacher, but I am a corporate trainer, and recently diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t know if you have tried medication, I haven’t yet (though I might if I can actually find a psychiatrist who takes my insurance). I wish I could give you advice on handling your time better to keep up with your many tasks, but I have the same problem. I can only give you encouragement and let you know that I thoroughly empathize with you. I work on a team of four trainers and it really helps me because we complement each other on our strengths and weaknesses. They know I am forgetful and prone to going off topic, but they also know that I am a quick thinker with good insights and ideas for process improvement…I just need help with the details lol.

      I have tried all kinds of methods to keep track of tasks and I am sure you have too. I have tried apps, written lists, planners, timers, calendars. As you know, the problem lies with actually remembering to keep checking your lists/calendars, and then with trying to force yourself to concentrate on the specific task when it is planned. I hope you find what works for you, and in the meantime, take a deep breath, remember all the good things you have accomplished, and treat yourself kindly.

    2. just a random teacher*

      To some degree, teaching is just a job with too much to do, so some balls always get dropped. We all just drop them in different places. :)

      Try to find systems for at least some of the things that seem really disorganized, and find ways to be able to quickly tell if you have or haven’t done them yet. If you’re in a building with really stable attendance (most students come on time every day) then having a seating chart on a clipboard for each period and just marking down who is missing on it made attendance much easier for me. (I’d then enter that later in the period while students were working.) I’ve also found it easier if I have them sitting in table groups, because it “chunks” that task (is anyone missing at table 1? No? Ok, table 2?) rather than in rows. In a building with a lot of absences every day to the point that a seating chart didn’t work (because I had them doing group work so I needed to re-shuffle students to be sitting with whoever showed up that day so the groups would be large enough), I just accepted that attendance would take 10 minutes at the start of class no matter what and re-arranged how I ran my class to give myself those 10 minutes while they worked on something. Structuring your class periods so some of this stuff gets done in front of students is really key, because you do not have enough non-student time to do it when they’re not there. If you can get into a routine where important things get done during the class they’re for, then it’s harder to lose the time to do them.

      The best way I’ve found to keep organized about assignments, what they are, and when they are due, is to have a good student-facing system for it that they and I can both refer to later and use that system for both giving the assignments initially and for your records. I’ve used a blog (and posted the assignments every day), a weekly “assignment tracker” paper (that I kept in a binder and projected using a document camera, then put a new sheet on top of the old one each week), and a few other methods, and really, having something consistent that you can actually keep up with and use during class is the most important part, and having it be something that students can use to find out what they missed without needing you in the middle of it is the second most important part. If you have to post the assignments online and have a data projector, use the online assignment posts as how you go over them in class too (project the description as you’re going over it instead of writing it on the board). That way it’s part of your main class prep rather than an extra thing to keep track of. If the assignment changes as you talk over it with the students, dive right into the computer and change it in front of them to reflect the new deal. (This way they can also call you out on things like wrong due dates and you can fix them immediately.)

      I currently keep most of my “teacher papers” in a binder with most recent stuff on top, with tabs for the different classes. Whenever I have a piece of paper I think I’ll want again later, I hole punch it and stick it in the binder. If I give out a handout to the class, I punch a copy and stick it in the binder. This is where everything from answer keys for assignments to notes from staff meetings goes, and it’s mostly just in reverse chronological order (except for the answer keys, which do at least get their own sections), since organizing stuff is harder than just sticking things in the binder and I can generally remember about what time of year I last saw that piece of paper. At the end of the school year, that binder goes on the shelf and I start a new one the next year, so despite being a “disorganized piles of paper” person naturally I’m actually one of the teachers most likely to be able to find a specific piece of paper from 3 years ago now. The key is that I don’t spend too much time thinking about if it should go in the binder – if I might want it later, in the binder it goes.

      You probably have too much grading to do and are trying to leave too much feedback on everything. It’s ok for some assignments not to be graded on some criteria, and to think of ways to streamline things. I’m in a different subject area so I don’t have English-specific strategies, but I’ve found that I have to use rubrics to grade assignments that aren’t just complete/incomplete or correct/incorrect so I can keep track of what I’m focusing on and how many points things are worth. If I try to just give an “overall grade” it gets lost in vagueness and I spent a lot of brainpower trying to weigh how various things should impact grades on each individual paper. If I go in with a rubric, I can use it like a checklist and see what I need to look for, and then the grade just sort of falls out naturally. I have a couple of default rubrics I use most of the time and write specific ones for some assignments. This has saved me hours of agonizing over whether this particular packet is an A- or a B+, since I know how to pull that out of my rubric and I scored the rubric while thinking about smaller things.

      Speaking of packets, weekly packets or notebook checks are a great way to chunk tiny daily assignments into fewer, larger things for you to grade so you have less to keep track of. I’ve used weekly assignment trackers for daily work, where I write the assignments on a tracker sheet on the projector and the students write it on theirs, and then I go around the room and stamp their sheets as I check that they got that thing done in their notebooks (where all of their work lived and which I did not collect). On Fridays, they’d turn in their weekly tracker sheets, and that meant I had one grade per student per week to enter for all of the minor classwork/homework things rather than 5-10 per student. With some classes, you could even go fortnightly rather than weekly, but you might get too many students losing their sheets that way. (I let students who lost their sheets come in before/after school or at lunch to get a new sheet stamped if they could show me the work in their notebooks. If you’re going to do that, insist that all students have their name in ink on their sheets the first time you stamp them so students can’t have a “lose and trade” system.) I’ve also had students make “homework packets” where they actually turn in their work with the coversheet at the end of each week instead of having them work in notebooks and just collecting the tracker sheets, but so many students didn’t keep their old assignments when I handed the packets back that I switched to the notebooks. (You can also collect and grade notebooks, of course, but I just found that overwhelming so I did the in-class checks and tracking sheets instead.)

    3. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*


      I have a task list on my desk and write down every thing I suddenly remember to do, so that when I have time to do it, all I have to do is check my list. When it’s done, I strike it out.

      As for the actual class, I have monitors whose sole job is to take the attendance down, manage the bathroom list, hand out the folders, etc. I find the kids remember their own jobs far better than I can remember to do all the components of mine under a lot of stimulus.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Batgirl*

        Me too!
        You have too much to do. There’s stuff that won’t get done.
        Tip One: What I do is I write out a list of priorities for the day which can fit on a Post It. I then use the twenty-ten timer from Unfuck Your Habitat (I get more done on the clock). Twenty minutes head down unfucking the high priority stuff. Then ten minutes ‘break’ in which I either tidy up papers or answer emails and schedule some of the low priority or upcoming stuff in my planner (which will inform the priorities of upcoming days). Actually take a break and make some tea sometimes too. In your case, I’d be tempted to use the ten initially to check over what you’ve done if you’re making errors (this is what I did as a reporter on deadline and I hardly make errors any more). Then a ten minute break.
        Tip Two: Make a hard schedule for your work. I can’t work past x pm and still be effective the next day. If you know the work is going to last all night there’s no way you’re going to be able to keep up a quick effective pace. Give yourself a hard cut off, proper days/evenings off and you’ll tackle high priority stuff at a faster pace.
        Tip Three: it’s still go