open thread – October 11-12, 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.

{ 1,799 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon in DC*

    We have an assistant who has a terrible attitude and consequently always gets rewarded because everyone in our department always tend to ask the other assistants for help instead so she is left without having to do much work because they’d rather avoid her huffs and rolled eyes.

    Unfortunately, her direct supervisor is non-confrontational and does not do anything to hold her accountable. Any advice on how to delegate to someone who has a bad attitude and for whom you don’t actually have any supervisory control over?

    1. Shannon*

      I dealt with this, and I can only say just do it, and eventually her BS will start to affect you less/become less awkward for you. It’s absolutely not fair, but if you/others have addressed it with her boss and didn’t get anywhere, you don’t have much of a choice.

      I also tried the tactic of innocently asking “Oh, is something wrong/Do you not understand the directions/Sorry, are you in the middle of something?” and usually, this would stop the behavior in the short term; however, it always came back and sometimes I just didn’t have the energy.

      1. Anon in DC*

        I’ve tried similar tactics and suppose I just have to continue to push on through and ignore the BS until I just get used to it and don’t let it bother me! The energy it takes to interact with her makes it enticing for me to just do everything I’d normally pass off to an assistant myself, but I don’t want to “reward” the bad behavior like so many others have succumbed to doing.

        1. Lucy Preston*

          Thank you for posting this. I came here for a similar situation and yours being the first post was great. I’m dealing with one employee, whom I’ll call Princess Cordelia.
          I’m technically her manager, but she is in a protected class. I often feel more like a nag that a manager and it takes a ton of effort on my part that never seems to pay off.
          Grand boss is pushing me to push Cordelia more. I’ll push firmly (but not harshly) and then Cordelia just runs back to grand boss saying the work is too hard or too boring or she just doesn’t feel good. Then grand boss tells me to back off.
          I’ve had this discussions with grand boss that this situation won’t work if she always buffers for Cordelia. But grand boss always insists that they are not acting as a buffer.
          I really don’t like making the effort to bother anymore.

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

        +1 Don’t avoid giving her work just because she huffs. And follow up often if she’s the type to “forget” to do something or take a really long time in order to punish you. I work with a woman like this and the only thing that works is to keep giving her the tasks that are her job to do, push back and call her out on it when she tries to lob it back onto my desk, and cc in her supervisor whenever her actions cause delays in the work getting done. I don’t bother addressing her attitude, just actions. She can huff all she wants about submitting TPS reports, but if they aren’t submitted, then her boss is going to hear it.

        1. BetsCounts*

          right now it is less work for the supervisor to ignore the problem. By bringing it up to the assistant’s supervisor every time you get pushback/bad attitude/bad work output, and discussing how it is negatively impacting the business (even if the supervisor knows/should know!) you can change the calculation, especially if you can get your colleagues to do the same.

          1. Mama Bear*

            CC is your best friend with these kinds of people, both to cover yourself/paper trail and to inform their boss “this is assigned to them and this is the deadline”. There are times my boss will say “yeah, I saw the crickets you got from that email” so he knows that I wasn’t the roadblock.

      1. Anon in DC*

        Unfortunately, her results are poor compared to the other assistants, too, and require a lot of follow ups and reminders whereas the other assistants just get things done. We work in an environment involving a lot of time sensitive work.

        We are assigned a “primary” assistant, but this rotates, so people tend not to want to take the risk with the unreliable assistant and just go to the other two who are great at their jobs or do it themselves. But I want to assign this person work during the time period when she’s assigned as my primary assistant because it’s not fair to the other assistants when they all end up with the same raises each year for them to end up with more work because of the one’s bad attitude. I suppose I just have to ignore the attitude issues and constantly follow up. Unfortunately, she has very good job security, so there’s no actual risk of her getting fired, which I suppose enables this type of behavior.

        1. Sunflower*

          I’m wondering if you work at my old job. I used to work at BigLaw firm and there was a secretary who was just..terrible. Bad attitude, not good at her job. She wasn’t fired but instead was reassigned to only retired partners as her principles(aka not a lot of pressing work to do). The other option we had was to make people floating assistants- they filled in if someone was sick or sometimes filled in at reception if it was busy. I think once enough people requested for someone to be not assigned to them, they were regulated to a floater position- can you ask to not have that person assigned to you?

          If you think the issue is the supervisor and not that the company thinks they can’t fire her so they won’t do anything, I’d suggest complaining up the chain. This really isn’t acceptable and if you work in a professional services firm where the assistants are there to literally make your life easier then there will be someone who does something. Even if she isn’t able to be fired, there may be other options.

        2. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

          Unfortunately, she has very good job security,

          How so? I would think her own manager would want her gone if she’s lazy and rude.

            1. QCI*

              Is there an option to just make her life at work worse by enforcing her job duties? If someone else constantly getting fussed at or annoyed about doing their job, eventually it might be easier for them to just do their job, right?

        3. That Lady in HR*

          I have very little patience for non-confrontational managers who don’t do their jobs. I would put the pain back on her manager. Continue to assign work as you normally would, and go directly to the manager any time there are issues with her work or attitude. Don’t allow the manager to get off so easily.

        4. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

          Why can’t you make a comment -to her-about her attitude?
          Ask her to do a task using a pleasant tone (“Please”, “Thank you”). If her response is snarky or she gives you the eye roll or whatever she does to convey ‘attitude’, then say, “I don’t care for your [name the attitude, behavior], [name]. Do not do that to me again. Please complete the task I assigned to you. Thank you. ”

          Then don’t give her a chance to ‘explain’ or rationalize her attitude/behavior. Just walk away at this point.
          Maybe a few ‘calling’s out’ of her attitude will make her realize she needs to conform to work place professional norms- regardless of what she feels about the job or the tasks.

          1. morning glory*

            It wouldn’t matter what the initial provocation was – if I heard one of my coworkers use that script on another, I would not like that coworker, or want to work with them. I’d think they were being pretty condescending and – if they were speaking to an assistant – classist.

            I do think ti can be a good idea to name a behavior or pattern specifically, but not by being a jerk.

        5. Observer*

          Even with the best job security it’s generally possible to manage someone out if anyone is willing to take the effort.

          Keep giving her work and document your head off. Everything goes into email with your manager and her manager (and your grand-boss and HR strategically included).

    2. Buttons*

      An adult who acts like a teenager, fun! I would call her on it “Is this a problem?” “Why are you rolling your eyes, should I not be asking you to this?” “When you sigh like that, it seems like you are irritated that I am asking you to do something.”
      F that noise.

      1. Turtlewings*

        I like the idea of calling her on specific behaviors, like the rolling her eyes and huffing, and oh-so-innocently asking why she’s acting like that. Force her to either defend her behavior, which she can’t without looking ridiculous, or knock it off.

        1. Anon in DC*

          Same here… thanks for this suggestion! I think my comments (“Is there a problem with that?” “Do you have a question about this?”) were too subtle. I like the idea of specifically drawing attention to the behavior, such as the rolled eyes.

          1. Tink*

            And give her a deadline. Earlier than you really need it so you have time to send it back for a re-do if/when she does a sloppy job.

      2. Ophelia*

        Exactly. Call this person out on their behavior, because they are creating the hostile working environment and are not doing their job. Document, CYA, document, CYA. Email and CC their manager every time a task is assigned to this person. All follow-ups and corrections should be CC’d to the manager as well. Make the manager aware of the constant issues. Make the person aware that you are clearly documenting the frequent issues. When they behave poorly in person, call them out on it in an appropriate way. “Why did you roll your eyes?” Then follow-up with an email to her supervisor and CC her. “Supervisor, when I asked Jane to complete this task, she seemed to think it wasn’t something she should do. Is there another person in the office I should be approaching for those assignments or another way I should giving these tasks to the assistants?” Force a response.

        And you need to get the others on board. Yes, it’s easier in the short term to pass the tasks to other assistants, but you are overloading them with work and you will burn them out. It isn’t fair that the other two assistants are doing the work of three and not getting paid for it. This will bite your office in the rear.

        Also, it’s possible to have sympathy for this struggling assistant. You don’t know what is happening with her right now. She may have reasons behind her poor behavior that bring in compassion, but it doesn’t change that her behavior is simply not acceptable in the workplace. I know that for me, depression shows often as anger. It is easy for me to be angry and huffy and eye-rolly when I am struggling, so I would have appreciated someone close reaching out with resources. If you aren’t close, then maybe there is someone else who is.

    3. Throwaway123*

      The actual problem is the direct supervisor. Just keep bringing it up to that supervisor and when that obviously doesn’t do anything then raise it to that supervisor’s supervisors with factual statements on how it’s impacting work objectives. Continue until something happens. When other assistants have to step up, have them also raise the issue with that supervisor and that supervisor’s supervisor. Continue until something happens.

      If nothing happens, then you either accept that status quo or find a new position because you have done what you can.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Have you questioned her attitude in the moment it happens, and explained why it’s not acceptable to react in that way? And if her supervisor hasn’t done anything to hold her accountable I’m assuming you’ve taken her behavior to them?

      I always start with the person themselves. Call them out on their behavior in a civil and professional manner, even if you think it will make the situation worse. It shows you’ve tried to handle it on your own first. If that doesn’t work, take it to the supervisor (if you haven’t already done so). And if still nothing is done, go above supervisor’s head or take it to HR. And document everything. You shouldn’t have to deal with a bad attitude for simply asking someone to do their job.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Exactly this. “I’m sorry, but did I say something to make you roll your eyes at me? Is there some part of this task that is part of your job description that is not clear? Attitude is not required to carry out this task and I need you to not disrespect me like that.”

      2. Anon in DC*

        The three assistants are shared by several of us in the department. She was actually here before I even joined the department, and these problems and issues have been going on for years.

        To be honest, I think her supervisor might even be afraid of her, which is why she never confronts her with the issues we bring up. Her supervisor really doesn’t have the ability to fire her. But yes, I suppose this is probably a problem with both the assistant AND the supervisor.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Do you have skip level meetings where you could bring this up with the grandboss?

          I hear you on the difficulty of firing – I know someone who had a yearlong (yes, year) struggle to fire someone who went AWOL. You would think that was cut and dry but no. I can only imagine that someone who only has a bad attitude would be harder.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I’m right with you there. I spend 95% of my workdays running around like my hair is on fire and my butt is catching, but I find that FAR preferable to being stuck surfing YouTube videos and watching the clock!

    5. Practicing Sandwich*

      If you have weekly/monthly team meeting, make an effort to thank the other admins for their work on whatever project/extra tasks they took on.

      Offer acknowledgement to those who do.

    6. Mrs_helm*

      If the problem is that “everyone asks other assistants”, can you have the director change HOW work is assigned? Perhaps instead of going to assistants directly, the requests should funnel through someone who can distribute them more fairly. Or have 1-2 assistants assigned to each person in department, if that fits your structure.

      If people can just choose to work with someone more pleasant, they always will.

      Conversely, if you can do something to incentivize the assistants who do more work, would this person go drumming up work? Kinda like how waitresses have to be nice for more tips?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Or maybe even send her work via email or some other non-face-to-face option, if that’s possible. You won’t see if she’s rolling her eyes at her inbox.

        1. Anon in DC*

          I actually usually do assign work via email as opposed to in person (and prefer that so there is a paper trail), but since she never acknowledges emails or gives any indication that something has been done, I always have to follow up in person. I’ve thought about whether it might be worth it to cc her direct supervisor on everything that is assigned so it becomes her problem, too, but I didn’t want to come across as passive aggressive. I’m relatively new to this department, so I’ve been toeing the line carefully during my first year.

          1. Joielle*

            Here’s what I’ve done with good results – I’d include a line in the email when you assign work like “Please confirm ASAP that you have received this email” or something like that. If she doesn’t respond to confirm, you can follow up later that day or the next day to make sure she got the email. If you do that enough times, she will hopefully be annoyed enough to just do it in the first place.

            1. Mama Bear*

              I’d cc the boss and if they ask, say that assistant has a habit of not responding to emails so you wanted them to be aware of your request. Do you have a task manager?

            2. Dancing Otter*

              Read receipts generally just clutter my inbox and annoy me, but you need them with this woman.
              Of course, if she doesn’t even open the email… No, actually, read receipts are good for documenting that BS, too.
              If you’re using Outlook (Yeah, it’s the worst system there is, except for all the others.), it includes task management. You can assign tasks to another user, with due dates, and then monitor progress/completion.

    7. Jubilance*

      How is this person still employed? They have a sucky attitude so people don’t give them work which leaves them unproductive….why not just get rid of them?

        1. CheeryO*

          I work in state government and am way too familiar with this type of person. As sucky as it is, I’d just keep giving them work when it’s appropriate and try to ignore the crappy attitude. It’s not you; it’s 1000% them (which I’m sure you know). If you get pushback to the point that the thing just isn’t getting done, then it’s time to elevate it to their supervisor. If they won’t do anything, then take it to your supervisor, or someone above this person’s supervisor, anyone with the power and willingness to act.

          You have to make some noise every time someone like this makes your life unnecessarily difficult. Even if they don’t get disciplined, maybe eventually you can get the work flow system changed – perhaps something like a central email address for all “assistant” work, where one manager assigns tasks and follows up as necessary.

        2. J*

          Perhaps that is somehow true in your organization. However, I’ve never found that to be true in the almost 30 years I’ve worked in government. People who don’t do their job get fired. We have very limited resources and absolutely cannot afford dead weight. I deal routinely with 200+ agencies. Layoffs, firings, corrective actions are a routine part of having employees.

    8. anonymous lab rat*

      I’m dealing with a different version of this. I started my position almost two years ago, and I’ve been slow to get up to speed because people find it quicker and easier to shunt all questions and problems to an experienced person. I would love to contribute more, but I’m being treated like a toddler who wants to help cook, paint, etc, but gets pushed aside by a busy parent. Now I feel like the toddler has become a young adult with no idea how to cook or paint.

      1. Mama Bear*

        If there is a go-to person, can you ask them for training/guidance? Have you mentioned this to your boss?

        1. anonymous lab rat*

          My coworkers have been good about answering questions; the problem is breaking people of the habit of bringing everything to the person who used to cover my long-vacant position. Since I started trusting that person and stopped seeing him as a usurper, I’ve learned a lot from him. My level of involvement in the company has gone up slowly since people got to know me a bit, but right now I’m two years in and I feel like I’m where I should have been at the 3-6 month point.

        1. anonymous lab rat*

          Agreed – my boss is a big part of the problem. He took me out to lunch on my first day, and I hardly ever saw him again after that.

    9. Kathenus*

      Building on other responses, suggest a two-pronged approach.

      First, keep assigning her work. As you mentioned in your responses, you don’t want to reward her by giving in to her attitude.

      Second, make her issues a problem for the non-confrontational supervisor. Loop her in EVERY SINGLE TIME there’s a problem. Things like ‘supervisor, I assigned assistant to run a report and she pushed back on the task’, ‘supervisor, I asked assistant to do X task and she didn’t complete it correctly and it had to be fixed/redone’, supervisor, assistant was requested Y task and it wasn’t completed by the deadline’. Make the supervisor deal with this negative work so that the cost of not doing anything begins to exceed the current cost of ignoring it.

      Do the assignments in writing, or back up a verbal request with an email so there’s a written record. And then just be consistent on pushing on this until things improve or they get rid of her. I know that federal can make it hard to fire, but I’ve worked for the feds as well and it can definitely be done if the manager will put in the work. Make it worth supervisor’s while to either manager assistant up, or manage her out. Good luck!

    10. pumpkin on da shelf*

      I, like anonymous lab rat, would like to offer an alternate thought. I am one of the admins at my company that gets all the work another admin, the CEO’s admin with a Master’s Degree, does not do well or that people don’t want to give her because of her poor attitude and skills. While it seems that you have a rotating, shared support structure in place I wonder how the others feel about doing more than their fair share while this person sits there and does little to no work. Perhaps in government jobs turnover isn’t as much of an issue as it is in the private sector but I assume you want to value and keep your good employees engaged. This kind of problem tends to erode motivation in the best employees. I know for me I can’t wait to work in a better environment where things are balanced.

      Sorry but I had to speak up for my peoples. It gets so old earning other people’s paychecks and often times, given the title and position, being lumped in with them and their poor behavior to boot! Good luck finding a solution.

      1. Anon in DC*

        I agree with you! That’s why I’ve come here for advice today on how to better delegate tasks to her despite her attitude problems when she is assigned as my assistant. I don’t want to put more burden on the other assistants while she gets left off the hook and doesn’t have to do anything!

    11. Kelly*

      Recently, my boss decided that I should propose a solution or an answer to every question I ask. He’s explained this is to give me more authority and to lessen the burden on his workload. I’m an entry level program coordinator for a non-profit, my title/job description/very low pay don’t include any managerial responsibilities, and sometimes I would really like my boss to impart advice or help when needed. I think it would be helpful to me in this stage of my career. Generally, I’m a very independent worker and I always meet my work-related goals. I don’t understand where this rhetorical question tactic is coming from. Has anyone experienced this? How did you handle it?

      1. Once in Botswana*

        I’m not sure I have any brilliant advice other than “just do it,” but this is a super common thing I’ve always been taught. You never present a problem without also presenting a solution. That way your autonomy grows, you learn quicker, and your boss will often just be able to say “yes” and move on.

      2. Pray Tell*

        This is really common and something I was always taught to do! You should be happy he trusts you and isn’t micromanaging you.

      3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I’ve experienced it and it irks me to be told I shouldn’t approach my boss with a question unless I can also suggest a solution. If I had the solution I’d implement it. I don’t know whether it’s a management trend to “empower” their reports, or sometimes I feel they just don’t want to be bothered, not next time or this time. Maybe I’m being harsh, but for instance our company mission statement called for managers to “coach and mentor.” Is it really so difficult to provide direction to a report who’s tried everything they know, considered possible solutions that turned out not to work, and now need the help of wiser, more experienced leadership?

    12. Observer*

      I think that it might be easier to power through this is if you reframed this a bit. Not giving her work is not “rewarding her”. It’s punishing people who have a good attitude. When you look at it that way, it might give you a little push to deal with her attitude because “why should everyone else be punished for her misbehavior?”

      You’re not her supervisor, so it feels kind of weird to “discipline” her, by rewarding or not rewarding her. But you do have some obligation to others so that’s a less difficult lens to use.

    13. miss_chevious*

      I was in pretty much this exact situation and I’m sorry to say that the only way we ended up resolving it is that her actual manager’s organization was re-orged and lost the position, so she had to move on. The way I dealt with it on a day-to-day basis was to be as explicit as possible in my instruction and ignore *everything* attitude. Like, I literally pretended she had been friendly and civil, even when she wasn’t, and corrected her mistakes just like I would have if she had been anyone else. Her boss wouldn’t take steps to fire her, but I continued to raise issues to him as appropriate. I viewed it more as setting an example for my reports than having any real effect on her.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      A hundred people would take her job in a heartbeat if she really does not want it.

      I think the biggest problem here is keeping one’s own temper in check. As you are doing, this means planning out what you will say and how you will say it.

      Eye-rolling is considered a form of bullying and you can kind of see that it is effective here as her boss does not want to deal with her. And she is driving you and your peers away.
      It’s a long shot but if you found an article about bullying and it included mention of eye-rolling perhaps you can bring it to the boss’ attention. It’d probably be good to have copies of your workplace policy showing that bullying is not acceptable behavior.

      What I have seen people do in these situations is to simply say, “Yeah, we all feel that way. So we really don’t need the eye-rolls and the huffing. Everyone has their own hurdles they are trying to jump today. Please don’t add to it.”
      I have also heard a more direct approach, “We all want to roll our eyes and huff at each other but we don’t because it’s rude and it makes it look like we don’t know how to do our jobs.”

      If you prefer a different approach, you could go with, “Jane, why are you the only one here who huffs and eye-rolls when anyone asks you to do anything? No one else here is doing that.” Here the strategy is to tell her how she stands out like a sore thumb.

      You could encourage the boss to keep track of how many tasks each person is doing. Or you could encourage the boss to follow along to see who volunteers to do most tasks.

      When there are errors in her work, the boss should be looped in. Email is probably easiest but if it does not cause change then in-person conversations are necessary.
      If I could do it without getting caught in the fallout myself, I would give her work with that hard dead line and let her fail. But this can be tricky and usually ends up to be like cutting off one’s own nose.

      One last thought, if the other two can carry the work, then she is really not needed. This is something that can be pointed out to the boss also. Perhaps a cost saving measure?

      1. juliebulie*

        Another approach to the eyeroll is to verbally disregard it: “You can roll your eyes all you want to, just so long as this is done by the end of the week.”

    15. Stephanie*

      I work in an elementary school, and I have found that with particularly challenging kids–especially those that have a tendency toward escalating behavior when they’re confronted–that it often works to just calmly ask something like “Is there a reason you…” fill in the blank. (I actually asked a kid a couple of weeks ago if there was a reason he growled at me.) Since you’re assistant’s attitude is quite childish, I think you could approach her similarly.
      I would try asking her point blank “Is there a reason you’re rolling your eyes at me?” The key is to make sure your tone of voice is calm, bordering on earnest. People who behave this way keep doing it because it works for them, and she’s clearly not getting called out on it. If you challenge her to justify her attitude, it just might shock her enough to break the cycle a bit. Keep at it and she’ll get the message that you’re not playing her game.

  2. Insert Witty Name Here*

    I’m stuck in entry-level, hourly positions. How do I get out of these and advance into better roles? I feel frustrated because I have years of experience and a Master’s degree. I don’t have supervisory experience, but I have trained others. Any tips or advice?

    1. Catwoman*

      My first job out of retail after my Master’s was a university. I started in student recruitment and went in different directions from there. If you have a more liberal arts type of degree, I’d suggest looking at higher ed.

        1. Catwoman*

          I double down on higher ed. Your first role may not be super relevant to your field, but this type of environment is excellent for networking opportunities and you may even have something like an employee education program that would allow you to take a class or two for free so you could get to know the library folks on campus if they offer a Library Science degree. My university also recruits staff to teach adjunct so if you want teaching experience, that’s another plus.

        2. DataGirl*

          Are you in an area with a heavy saturation of librarians? Would moving be an option? If not, are there other areas of interest where your skills in ‘organizing information’ would be transferable?Where I live there are two accredited Universities with MLIS programs within 30 miles of each other so the market is completely over- saturated. The rumor is when even a part-time librarian job opens in my city they’ll get 300+ applicants. After I got my MLIS I got a job at a non-profit, and worked my way up from there in IT. I work in healthcare IT now. Good luck!

          1. Treecat*

            Yes, this. Especially if you live in an area that has a school that provides an MLIS. If you want a job in LIS and you want it (relatively) quickly, your best bet is to get on the relevant listservs and just start applying for the jobs you want, regardless of where they are. It’s totally okay to have dealbreaker locations but for the most part I tell the MLIS students I mentor that I see many, many job opportunities–they’re just not *here*.

            I’m sorry, I know that’s a crap answer, but truly, there is a high chance you need to go where the job is, even if that is the other side of the country.

          2. DJ*

            This is a really good point. I live in a state where there are no universities that offer MLIS degrees (Virginia, but ODU did recently announce they’re starting a program) and I feel like I see quite a few librarian jobs pop up even just in my immediate area.

            I second the higher ed suggestion too. I currently work in an academic library (staff, not librarian) and I first started in another department at the university and was able to transfer because of someone I had worked with previously.

            Also listservs are really useful for finding library jobs around the country. People post jobs on them frequently and sometimes before the job is actually posted anywhere else.

          3. Junior Assistant Peon*

            I’m not a librarian, but I’ve seen people in my field advance by being willing to move to undesirable areas. Not necessarily remote rural areas – if you can be open-minded about living in some rust-belt city like Erie or Toledo, there are jobs that need to be filled, and you won’t have to drive two hours for Starbucks, Target, etc.

          1. CallofDewey*

            Yes- I had to move from New England to Florida to get a parapro job that was full time and had decent benefits. Librarian roles are even more competitive.

          2. Stornry*

            Library HR, here. Yeah, you’d have to be willing to move, I’m afraid. There are only two schools in my state (CA) where you can get the degree, so most of our candidates are not local. For my part, recruiting can be difficult for that very reason. Moving up in the ranks can take a while – depending on attrition at the higher levels and positions becoming available – but is certainly possible. Our recently-appointed Director moved up the ranks in-house from Trainee to the top chair.

        3. Quill*

          You may want to start looking at law firms and other types of things that need documents wrangled (so, things with patents, legal filings, beaureaucracy.) I know a few corporate librarians!

          1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

            Yeah! Library sciences degrees are great for researchers and administrators (which people assume are always low-paying low-status jobs but really don’t have to be). Witty Name, you could get a paralegal certificate and I bet you’d see doors open (if you’re good at detail-oriented stuff). You could maybe take some data analytics classes and go that route; I feel like library sciences lend themselves well to data-wrangling jobs and they’re in super high demand.

            Location might be to do with it; there are lots of admin type roles that in bigger cities are salaried exempt but which in smaller cities/more rural areas are hourly and part-time (or at least have hours set to avoid paying benefits).

            Ultimately, though, there just aren’t that many librarian jobs out there, so if you want to get one, you have to not just be able to do the job, but show how you’re a better hire than the other 50 well-qualified people who will apply to that same job. You can apply to 100 jobs and if you’re a middle-of-the-pack candidate for all of them, you won’t get hired for any. Which sucks :( But maybe there are volunteer gigs you could take on at a local library, or some kind of independent project you can do to dig into your library skills/passions? Writing maybe? An Instagram featuring librarian memes? Idk, whatever you can do to highlight not only that you’re an aspiring librarian, but that you’re really passionate about it, and dedicated to the field.

            Good luck!

          2. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

            Insurance companies hire librarians for research positions as well. Law firms may be another avenue, but a lot of those positions are looking for candidates who have both a MLS and a JD.

          3. Insert Witty Name Here*

            I’ve tried applying to law firms, but most want you to have previous law firm experience and I don’t. Others want you to have a JD in addition to the MSLIS.

            1. Bertha*

              I interviewed at two law firms with no law firm experience, but I also wasn’t applying for librarian positions — look into Conflicts Analyst positions. If you want to do research, they are a great option. The positions also pay quite well.

            2. Cendol*

              Insert Witty Name Here—I’m not sure if this would work for you schedule-wise, or if you’ve already tried it, but have you considered law firm postings for evening or weekend roles? That’s how I got my foot in the door with zero prior experience and no JD. The hours may not be ideal, but it’s kind of nice not having to deal with the 9-5 commute crowd.

              There’s a lot of work, but it’s always interesting and seldom follows you home, and most firms have awesome benefits. That said, I heard absolutely nothing back from any of the BigLaw firms in NYC who were hiring evening librarians. I had to look elsewhere and be willing to relocate. A lot of local law librarian associations have their own job boards where they post opportunities, and there’s the AALL job board too.

              Also seconding Bertha’s comment re: conflicts analyst positions.

          4. Hush42*

            There’s a company in my city that builds and sells the software that library’s use to track books. I know that they have librarians on staff to test the software. Thinking outside the box on what you can do with your degree beyond just strictly work in a library type jobs might net you more opportunities that still allow you to find work that you’re good at that is tangentially related to your field.

        4. CheeryO*

          This is super anecdotal, but my MLIS friends have had to relocate and/or work their way up from smaller/less well-paying libraries. It seems like a very competitive field, unfortunately. I would recommend looking into the procedure for applying to civil service library positions (county, state, etc.), if you haven’t already.

          1. CMart*

            Yep. In my medium sized city (a suburb of a major city) my mother in law got promoted from 20 hours a week to 30 after she got her MLIS, after over a decade of service. 7 years after THAT she’s finally moved away and into a Library Director position in a much smaller town in a much smaller state.

            But she had to leave. It sucks, but she’s really happy with her career now and is kicking herself for being so afraid of relocating.

        5. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Are the hourly jobs you mentioned library jobs? Is there a way you can shadow or help out one of the librarians where you work with their duties? It gives you another line for your resume that can show you’ve got on-the-ground experience in doing the things you’ll need to do in the job.

          And I agree with DataGirl, if you’re able to be broad in the areas where you’re job searching, that’s a good thing. A lot of smaller or rural libraries are going to be more willing to take a chance on somebody with less experience because they’ll be getting a lower number of applicants. My library system is mostly suburban, but we’ve got a handful of locations that are further out from the center of town, and those libraries tend to be harder to staff because people don’t generally want to live that far out. But if you’re willing to do that for a year or so, it could get you a foot in the door.

        6. WantonSeedStitch*

          I work in prospect research/development research at a university. We actually have several people here with an MLS. Apparently it’s a really good background for work that involves a lot of knowing where to find information and being able to synthesize and analyze that information. It’s not a field most people think about going into, but one that people tend to fall into randomly and find out they love it. I did! (My own educational background is in journalism.)

        7. Archie Goodwin*

          Another area you might want to look at: records management. I work in the field in DC – there’s quite a bit of opportunity available, at least in the government/contracting realm. Furthermore, it seems to me that there’s been an increased focus on it among government agencies over the past few years, so the chance to break into the field is growing.

          It’s not quite librarian-ing, but it uses a lot of the same qualifications (there’s a focus on archiving, for instance, and understanding proper filing behavior). And some of my best colleagues have MLSes.

          Not the most obvious field to be in, perhaps, but I’ve found it extremely rewarding over the past few years.

          1. Bertha*

            As a librarian who started in records management.. there is a lot of overlap in skills needed! I think this is a great suggestion.

            1. Imprudence*

              In the UK at the moment there is a *huge* shortage of record managers and entry level people are snapped up like gold dust. Everyone is desperately trying to become gdpr compliant. Might that interest you?

        8. LolNope*

          I was just on a year-long hiring committee for 4 tenure track librarian positions. There were hundreds of applications from all over the US and beyond. It’s a really tough market with no signs of getting any better. Good luck!

    2. Bertha*

      Without knowing anything about your field, it’s hard to say with much confidence, but some ideas I have..
      1. I’m a fan of looking at people’s profiles on LinkedIn who are in jobs I’d be interested in, and seeing what trajectory got them to where they are. Sometimes that gives me ideas (or inspiration).
      2. Some organizations are more open to hiring people without supervisory experience for supervisory jobs, although it’s hard to know without applying. It’s kind of a numbers game. There are jobs I thought I was a shoo-in for that I never heard a peep about, and jobs I didn’t think I had any chance of that resulted in an interview. Cast a wide net with the jobs you apply to.
      3. Maybe try to see how you can build experience and add more responsibilities to your current role? Something like managing an intern, for example.

      1. Bertha*

        I see above you want to be a librarian – I am a librarian!

        Others suggested above, moving if you can, and I have to agree that if possible, it will be helpful. I know a few people who I graduated with (8 years ago) that still haven’t found librarian jobs.. but that is especially difficult if you live in an area that has, well, a handful of librarian jobs to start, and doubly so if there are library schools nearby. I also knew people who pretty much only wanted to work in a certain type of library (usually public or academic), which was also limiting. I was able to move from a mid-sized city to a very large city, and there are just so many more jobs available here.. if you are willing to think outside the box.

        My background is entirely in corporate libraries. It seems to me like there is much less competition for jobs in corporate libraries, because most librarians want to work at a university or a public library. I remember when I hired an intern, we only got two applications from people who were in MLIS programs, despite putting the job on multiple lists that I had used while a student, and paying pretty well for it. And there are so many options for people with library skills – I work in healthcare, but I previously worked in engineering, and I have interviewed for positions at universities, law firms, a bank, and a financial consulting firm. Adding on to #1 above – I would often look at the experience of the person who ended up getting hired in the position I interviewed for, and they always had more experience related specifically to the position if it was at a university. In corporations, that wasn’t always the case — sometimes it was someone with less experience! You never know.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          Are corporate libraries still around? In my field (chemistry), a lot of companies are getting rid of them in the misguided belief that “everything you need is on the Internet today, so we can save money by throwing these old books in the trash and firing the librarian.” I’ve got a good chunk of a previous employer’s former library stashed in my attic right now, and I miss having access to librarians who specialized in scientific literature.

          1. Bertha*

            My last company still has a physical library and a corporate librarian. My current company has multiple librarians but no physical library.. though we never had a physical library, so perhaps I should refer to “corporate librarian positions” rather than “corporate libraries.” I am certainly familiar with the trend of getting rid of corporate libraries.. but I feel like the tide is turning. It depends a lot on who advocates for librarians/the library.. but that is true of even public libraries, school libraries, etc. Lots of employees really love having a corporate librarian to assist with projects and research, but I find that I’d often assist earlier career staff, and of course those staff members don’t have as much “pull” to keep a librarian on staff.

            As time passes, I don’t think it makes sense for many companies to have physical libraries, especially with so many people working all over the country even at smaller companies. (Of course, I found many publishers in STEM would put such an insane prices on digital subscriptions that it actually was much cheaper to get multiple copies of text books for $300 each vs. paying $20000 for an enterprise subscription… neither here nor there…) But there are still librarian/research skills needed at those companies!

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              If you’re an industrial chemist working in a subject area where the fundamental science was worked out decades ago, like rubber chemistry or leather chemistry or something like that, a 60-year-old book is still extremely useful.

              Scientific publishing is a scam. I can understand why paper journals were expensive back in the day, but now that current journals are paperless, the publishers are laughing all the way to the bank.

          2. Princesa Zelda*

            Entertainment and fashion companies definitely still have libraries. It’s really hard to digitize a dress!

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Is there anybody you trust to have a look at your resume? It’s possible that your description of your experience and accomplishments is not played up as well as it should be, which might be keeping possible employers from seeing how great you really are. If you know anybody who’s involved with hiring or there’s a job/career center near you, it couldn’t hurt to get another set of eyes on your documents to make sure they’re as good as they can be.

    4. Eleanor Rigby's Jar*

      If you want a different position at your current company — try heading up a volunteer project. The person who organized our company picnic/blood drive used that to get more project management roles, and managing the workers involved in the project allowed her to become a manager (that supervised people).

      1. lilsheba*

        Not on topic at all I just want to say that the one going by Eleanor Rigby’s Jar is brilliant, I love that handle!

    5. Overeducated*

      Are you applying for stretch jobs? Not just ones that are a step up that you feel fully qualified for, but ones that actually feel like a big jump that you’re less confident about? The results may surprise you….

    6. Student Success Librarian*

      I have an MLIS, and work as a librarian at a small liberal arts college. I had to relocate when I first graduated. The area I went to school in is over-saturated with librarians, and I think my willingness to move went a long way. After two years in my first position (where I was an evening librarian), I was able to relocate back to the state where I went to grad school.
      A few of my friends worked as paraprofessionals in libraries after they graduated with their MLIS, my (outsider) observation was that they were location-focused instead of position-focused. When they shifted their focus to position, they were able to find work that allowed them to move up, but they had to move.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I once had a temp job as an assistant to the archivist at the retail division of a large media company. They owned a lot of creative content and produced many different ranges of licensed products, from t-shirts and toys to high-end pop-culture collectables.

      The archivist was in charge of organizing and pulling reference material for the designers, as well as keeping the various design drafts and product specs available, in case the art directors wanted to roll back changes to an earlier draft, or spin off the design into a new product range.

      It was very interesting work, and I had never known before that there were in-house “librarians” in media and manufacturing! If I had not had another career trajectory in mind, it would have been a logical progression from hourly assistant to the archivist position, or possibly into a more specialized liaison for a specific brand or product line.

      The parent company was in NY and LA, but the retail division was in a regional midsized city. It might be worth exploring different sorts of product design to see how widely these sort of positions exist.

    8. periwinkle*

      Another possible field to explore… organizations, especially large ones, need people with librarian-type skills to handle knowledge management and curation. There is a ton of explicit and tacit knowledge floating around a company; someone who understands records management and curation and taxonomy and so forth would be an asset.

    9. Jdc*

      I worked for a temp agency. That opened the door to a position I could do but per their actual desires I was not qualified for.

    10. NorthernMLIS*

      Also, under NAFTA/whatever the new one is called, librarians are on the list of professions that can easily get a work visa in Canada/US/Mexico. That’s how I got my first 2 jobs as a librarian–I knew I could get the permit, and so I was able to look in the US as well as Canada. ALA accreditation works up here too….worth a shot.

    11. LibrarianToo*

      Do you have experience working in libraries? I am an adult services librarian in a public library and know it can be really difficult to get a job! The number one piece of advice I have is getting library experience. I know a lot of times libraries will be hesitant to hire people who have the MLIS for lower positions, but I definitely suggest trying to get an information services/programming position which will prepare you for a librarian position. Almost everyone I know who got a librarian job after graduating (including myself) had years of experience or were willing to move to less ideal areas. Even though it seems less than ideal, a lot of times, it can be really temporary. One of my coworkers worked at a library in a super rural, conservative area for less than a year and then got a job in her ideal area (in a place with a library school/lots of MLIS). It’s hard in libraries, because the job really isn’t taught in school, but through experience. With a few years of experience and an MLIS, I think it’s a lot easier to get positions! Good luck!

  3. K.H. Wolf*

    What classes or trainings have you taken (not through a college) that you feel have been valuable in your career? How did you find good professional development classes or training sessions? Are there any conglomerate resources that you would recommend, or does it just depend too much on the individual class/instructor?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Getting Google Analytics certified has definitely helped my career. Google’s Analytics Academy is free, but the certification is 100% recognized and valuable.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          There’s way less math than you’d think! It’s more about how to use the different tools and interpreting the data than calculations you do yourself. If you have an interest, totally check it out! It’s free and pretty simple to sign up, who knows you might really like it/have a knack for it!

    2. Bird Person*

      I joined a professional society in my field, and took their prep course for accreditation (and got the accreditation). The really valuable piece for me was the structured class time to discuss and build relationships with peers and mentors. It also really built my confidence that even though I’ve fallen into my field, I really do know what I’m talking about!

      1. Nessun*

        Seconding this. I got o e and then a second designation through a professional organization in my field. They’re not required for my job, so they really make me stand out- and they require CPE, so I’m constantly taking webinars and courses to get my credits, which also looks good to managers.

    3. Buttons*

      I belong to 2 professional organizations, and there are a lot of training/certifications I can get through them. In addition to webinars and lunch and learns. It has also been great because now I get invited to speak at their conferences, give a lunch and learn or a webinar, not to mention the networking!

    4. wingmaster*

      This is related to my industry (apparel), but I’ve been attending a lot of free workshops hosted by CottonWorks. I learned a lot about market/trend analysis, supply chain, identifying production problems and how to solve them. I’ve even received a bit of color training as well. I feel it’s super valuable in my career, since school didn’t really cover this.

    5. Llama Wrangler*

      The professional organizations in my field have been the most useful, both for their own trainings and for hearing about others that people recommend. Also, if you’re in non-profits the Management Center trainings are really good (not surprisingly since Alison works with them).

    6. Sunflower*

      I think you need to figure out what YOU really need to improve on. My boss sent me to a class on how to be persuasive. It was helpful but everyone in the class was light-years ahead of me in the professional world and were mostly management trying to get buy in from employees. I was a pretty junior employee responsible for persuading c-level stakeholders on things they knew nothing about it. I ended up taking a class on how to get things done when you have no authority which was way more helpful.

      I’ve taken classes through AMA and also through local professional societies. I’d advise to try to mail down what you really are looking to improve on and finding niche classes for that.

      1. Marion Q*

        I ended up taking a class on how to get things done when you have no authority which was way more helpful.

        What’s the name of the class and how did you find it? Which institutions provide this kind of class? I’m really interested!

        1. Sunflower*

          I took it with AMA(American Management Association) and the class was called Getting Results Without Authority. They have lots of classes in the US and even classes outside I believe.

        2. OtterB*

          I don’t know about classes, but I can recommend the book “Getting It Done: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharpe. I read it years ago but remember it as having helpful strategies.

    7. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I’m in HR, and it honestly kind of sucks that so much (honestly, most) of the professional development that is done in my field is done by vendors trying to sell their products (so, by remarkable coincidence, my field is very into Data! and Video Interviewing! And AI! If you listened to these vendors you would assume it was literally impossible to be good at HR without tech platforms).

      So, the most valuable ones to me have tended to be ones not put on for profit. I recall that the IRS did a big one-day seminar on Unrelated Business Income (I work in nonprofits), and that was really, really valuable. I also learned a lot from a 2 day graphic design course put on by the New Organizing Institute (RIP), which was nonprofit itself.

    8. Quill*

      When I worked in a microbiology lab and my site had a training week for offsite permanent hires, I got permission to sit in and learned a lot about the non-academic business stuff relating to microbiology, it prepared me really well for my next micro job.

      Right now I’m looking for some free VBA courses either online or in town because I’ve started finding stuff to do in excel in my current role that makes me think I’m going to need it going forward.

    9. CheeryO*

      Definitely look into professional organizations for your field. Many of them in my field offer really high-quality webinars and in-person training sessions, and typically you don’t need to be a member to attend, although you might have to pay a little extra.

    10. Alternative Person*

      I took a Diploma level qualification recently. Honestly, I had rough time with it. I don’t want to say it was pointless, because it really improved/reaffirmed my work practices and gave me the opportunity for some real feedback (not available with my main job), but the course assumed a lot of support and resources that (In my personal opinion) are not easily available to people working in middling companies who need the diploma to move on/up.

      It worked out for me in the end, getting a portion of the diploma was enough to get a contract position at a better company that could provide the resources/support to finish the course. Now that I have it, I have a fairly open ended option to use the qualification as part of an MA, and the pay rise from the contract position means the diploma will effectively pay for itself within three years, as well as having access to the better resources and training options at this place.

      You haven’t stated your field, but when it comes to additional training, ask yourself, What will it get you? Will you be able to work at a better company/get a promotion/pay rise/etc.?

      Also, look for online reviews and for the not so good ones, ask yourself, Is the price of this stress/Potentially difficult tutor/Semi-tedious busy work/etc. worth it?

      For me, they didn’t put me off, but they did save me some surprise when I did run into all those things as ultimately I needed the diploma to go anywhere and the option I took was the only one that worked with my schedule.

    11. MicrobioChic*

      This is really field specific, but large data sets are becoming a lot more common in science, so I took a week long workshop on using R, including specific classes on data visualization, and I’ve found it very helpful.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I got a certificate in data science recently (learning R) just to refresh my stats skills and it’s about to come in very handy with some large data sets coming in. I don’t think it will make a substantive difference to my career – we have a dedicated group that could process the data for me – but I thought it was a valuable experience anyway. If I were on the job market it would be a selling point for sure.

    12. only acting normal*

      My science degree included a module in communication – the most valuable bit was how to present well. Things like structure, appropriate visual materials (sometimes none is good), tailoring for the audience and the time slot.
      (A presenting course through my work’s professional training provider covered similar ground. But the worst presenters always refuse to go on it, usually due to misplaced confidence. *sigh*)
      Now, it’s definitely not my favourite task, and it doesn’t always go perfectly, but I’m confident I do better presentations than most people I work with, most of the time. (And I get good feedback.)

    13. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ve taken a couple of Dale Carnegie classes that have helped me sharpen up my presentation skills. I’m in sales/recruiting so I like to think I’m pretty social as is but it’s always good to keep those things fresh.

      I’ve also gotten a lot of mileage out of the LinkedIn Learning platform, specifically when I first broke into IT recruiting. I had very little IT experience and those sessions did a great job of breaking down the different programming languages and at least giving me a framework to work within so that I only sounded mostly clueless when I was talking to candidates instead of completely clueless.

    14. Peggy*

      communication trainings. Company internal, but similar trainings do exist outside, too.

      I found it extremely helpful to get feedback on how I communicated and how to get better at it – lots of role playing and feedback during the training. It is still extremely hard to fundamentally change things in real life, but at least it helped me a lot in understanding why sometimes people do not react the way I wish/expect them to and how to adapt my behavior to reach my goals.

    15. Mama Bear*

      I am not an engineer but attending a DevOpsDays event was very helpful to me to understand terms that were floating around the office.

    16. LunaLena*

      I think this really depends on what field you are in. I work mostly in graphic design, so the free courses on the Adobe Education Exchange have been invaluable to me in learning to use different software and see what kind of tools Adobe CC as a whole can offer me. The practical assignments are usually pretty easy to fit into my schedule and have done more to teach me than years of trying to figure stuff out on my own did. They even give you a nice little certificate and badge when you complete each course.

    17. Aquawoman*

      I took a weekend workshop called Respectful Confrontation (run by Joe Weston). I took it for personal reasons but it has helped me a ton in my work life as well. (My employer actually wound up bringing him in a little after I did the workshop/not my doing)/

    18. Fikly*

      So this happened at my college, but it doesn’t have to. And it’s not a specific class.

      Do something that forces you to work on a team, ideally with random and changing teams and team members. I had a team for each five week course, 5 members, rotating team lead, assignment every week. I hated it, but it forced me to learn teamwork skills, and it’s been incredibly valuable, and I would imagine almost universal to any career.

    19. Snake in the Grass*

      I learned a second language. In my case, I learned one of the other official languages of my country. Even though I’m nowhere near fluent it has been exceptionally helpful for a whole variety of reasons beyond actual language competence. I did my course through a national organisation and have a recognised certificate for it.

    20. I Like Math*

      I took a course to become a certified mediator. I had multiple people ask me about it in interviews, even though it has nothing to do with my job directly. Employers really liked it.

  4. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

    Reason #5837 why I love my new manager:

    Former Manager (who I now only dotted line report to), the one I’ve mentioned a few times in the open threads and said she’s petty, two-faced, and passive-aggressive, tried to have me manage a big proposal the other day (which I was NOT hired to do), and New Manager shut that shit down.

    The backstory: Former Manager is down two proposal managers (one’s on leave until next year and the other was fired) and then two more of her direct reports are on overlapping vacation. The work is piling up on their team, so she started pulling in other people who dotted line report to her from another team to help. Well, she talked to grandboss and, according to her, he suggested that she have me work on one of the proposals as a stand-in PM, so she assigns the project to me and sends my manager an email on his day off saying I was going to be doing this project. Mind you, she didn’t ask – she just told him that’s what she was going to do.

    So I know nothing about any of this until New Manager comes back the next day and says, “What is this I hear about you managing a proposal?” I told him I had no earthly idea what he was talking about, so he said he’ll look into it and get back to me. Meanwhile, I attend a team call with Former Manager’s team (I usually do because my job function makes it so that I end up editing their work), and she tells everyone on the call about this project and says I’ll be leading it. I’m annoyed at this point because the project scope is unclear, we don’t know anything about the product, there’s no assigned sales manager because this product is so new, and I have fifty million other things I’m doing for my actual manager. But I say nothing, fully planning to bring this to New Manager’s attention during our next 1:1.

    Well, turns out I didn’t have to wait until then because New Manager brings it up on our team call. He asked me to explain what was going on, so I reiterated what Former Manager said during her team call. New Manager said, “Yeah, no. I understand her predicament, and I sympathize, but we didn’t hire you to be a PM. I’m going to talk to Grandboss because I was under the impression you were just going to help clean up the writing like you always do. You don’t have time to be managing a proposal when you have work to do for my team – I need you.” I told him I was relieved because I was NOT looking forward to that at all, and we both laughed, and he said he understood and he’d take care of it.

    Sure enough, a half hour or so later, Former Manager sends a retraction email out telling the product owner that she’ll be the PM handling the project, not me (yes, she preemptively sent out an email telling the product team to reach out to me as the PM without speaking to New Manager). New Manager most likely dialed up Grandboss like, “WTF?!” Seriously, Former Manager has been doing nothing but undermining New Manager since I arrived in this job, and going behind his back when she knew he wasn’t even in the office to recruit one of his two team members for a major project that could last weeks and conflict with the stuff he already has planned for me to work on was yet another one of her shady tactics.

    I get that Former Manager was used to being the HBIC in this department before grandboss and New Manager came along, and she might be feeling some type of way about having to now work with other people instead of just unilaterally making decisions for the department, but she needs to get over it and get over herself. She can’t keep twisting grandboss’s words to try to get her way (come to find out, grandboss did NOT actually suggest I lead anything) and think New Manager’s always going to roll over for her ass – she’s totally disrespectful, and the more she does shit like this, the less respect I have for her.

    Anyway, I was just very happy with New Manager for standing up not only for himself, but also standing up for me. He kept telling me to let him know if “they” (he really meant sneaky Former Manager) were trying to make me do more on this project than just cleaning up the language because he doesn’t want me to be doing something I’m not paid to do. A lot of managers probably would have just gone along to get along, but he wasn’t having it. So now not only do I know that he’s going to constantly sing my praises to everyone in the company (he’s always introducing me to people as the subject matter expert and saying he doesn’t know how this company would survive without me), but he’ll also fight to protect my time and energy from being wasted on things I have no desire to do. I’m so happy they removed me from out from under Former Manager – New Manager’s awesome!

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This is an excellent story. I’m so glad you’ve got a boss who’ll speak up for you!

    2. Granger Chase*

      This is amazing! I’m so happy that you’ve now got a much more supportive manager who is willing to have your back, especially when it comes to issues with former manager (who I really hope is one day not just your former manager, but a former manager overall because she definitely does not need to be supervising anyone!).

    3. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

      Thanks, everyone! I really do feel grateful to have a boss who always tells me he’ll take bullets for me if people in our company try to foist their work off on me or if they get upset with me for doing something he’s asked me to do – in my nearly 10 years of post-grad work, I’ve never had another manager who goes this hard for his team. I’ll be bummed to see him leave when he eventually moves on (he’s rotating through the company, so we have no idea how long he’ll stick around).

  5. A Simple Narwhal*

    Has anyone ever had any close calls at work? A “oh god if anyone had found out it would have been a disaster” story?

    I worked a retail job after college as an assistant manager type. Most of the time there was a manager working, but occasionally I would be the highest seniority person on a shift. It wasn’t a big store either, at most there would be 4 or 5 people working, and at slow times it would be only two people. The store was in a mall, so for meal breaks employees usually went to the food court, which meant that if it was a slow two-person shift, one person would be left alone for the other’s break. NBD, breaks were only 15-30 minutes, plus we had headsets so if there was an emergency you could ping the other person, but I can’t think of any instance of this actually happening.

    Anywho, I’d been there a few months and I’m working an overlapping shift with my manager. It’s nearing the end of my shift and my manager says she needs to take her break soon before I leave. I ask why, and she says there’s no other keyholders scheduled for the rest of her shift, so she won’t be able to leave the store once I’m gone. I’m thinking how this is the first I’ve heard of this rule when I hear her say “…yea it’s grounds for immediate termination.”

    She goes off to take her break and I’m left to realize I’d been unknowingly committing a fireable offense for months. Sure, in hindsight it makes sense that there should always be someone with manager access and keys in the store, but this very important rule was never communicated to me during training.

    So yea, I never ever did that again but I thank my lucky stars that an issue never came up or someone important never stopped by (district managers often made random rounds to check on stores).

    TLDR: Unknowingly committed a fireable offense for months, could have been easily discovered but miraculously never was. Found out about the rule offhand and never did it again.

    1. Wordnerd*

      I don’t know if it would have gotten me fired, but I once left my department-assigned laptop in an open classroom/lab overnight. Miraculously, it was still there the next day and I never had to tell anyone about it. Not sure what would have happened if it had been stolen!

        1. valentine*

          A Simple Narwhal: Unless you were a manager/keyholder, I don’t think the onus was on you to know their schedules/whereabouts. They should’ve had a protocol amongst themselves.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            I was a keyholder, just no one told me there had to be one in the store at all times, without exception! I think it might have been because I trained in a bigger store that always had 2+ keyholders assigned to every shift so it was never going to be an issue, whereas I ended up working in a store that sometimes only had 1 keyholder + 1 associate on a shift.

          2. Jungerludendorff*

            Narwhal had a manager-ish role and was sometimes the most senior person on the shift, so they may have actually been the keyholder.

      1. Ruby314*

        Also a story about forgetting a laptop: I was picking up a CSA share for a friend who was out of town, and I put down my tote bag that had my work laptop in it to put all the veggies into another bag. Well, I realized when I was halfway home on a bus that I’d left the laptop bag. It was at a random pottery studio that just happened to be serving as the location for the CSA pickup, and they did not seem to have a website or phone number that I could find by googling on my phone. I hopped off the bus, got a cab to take me back (which I couldn’t really afford but I could much less afford to be fired) and knocked on the door of this building with multiple studios until someone opened it and let me in. At this point, it’s over an hour later and past the end of the CSA pickup time. The room was miraculously unlocked and the bag was sitting there all innocent, surrounded by unfired pottery. I still get nightmares about it sometimes.

        1. Nessun*

          We had a new hire (6 mos in) leave their company laptop on the train to work one day. Luckily someone turned it in and it was located when we called the train’s lost and found, but he very nearly wet himself when he realized what he’d done.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I once did made a software update that had a change no one realized. We accidentally pushed this change live, and miraculously, we didn’t break anything.

    3. Beatrice*

      I was still in my first couple of months as a teller in a small bank branch located inside a grocery store. I arrived at work one Sunday morning (we were open weekends and most holidays) around the same time as my manager. He wasn’t feeling well when he left home 45 minutes earlier, and had gotten worse over his commute, with sharp pains in the right side of his abdomen. He was calling around for coverage so he could head or the ER as we were going through our branch opening routines, but about 10 minutes in, decided to abandon opening and have me drive him to the hospital. He told me, and then immediately started walking out to the parking lot. I was new – I was panicky and didn’t know how to lock the vault or arm the alarm yet and I didn’t have a key to the door in front of the vault. All that stood between grocery store shoppers and the money was a chest-height counter and a closed but unlocked vault door. There was an exterior door that I locked, and I turned the lights off, but at the time there was no door or gate to close off the counter.

      It turned out that my boss needed an emergency appendectomy, and I got him to the hospital in time. I returned to work and was met a few minutes later by another bank employee who helped me open about a half hour late. Because I returned first, she didn’t know about me leaving things unlocked. I confessed to my manager when he returned from medical leave, and he said it was his fault I didn’t know how to close up correctly yet, but we agreed it was best that no one else know what happened.

      1. Dr. Chakwas*

        Several years ago, I was a videographer in a large city, which required me to commute by subway to various events with a very expensive camera and tripod (which belonged to the organization I worked for, not me). One evening I was waiting for a train and when it arrived I got up from the little waiting bench and just breezed on in, completely leaving the equipment behind. I turned around at the last second, saw what I’d done and lunged out of the rapidly closing doors. To this day it still makes me sick to think about what would have happened had I not turned around at that exact moment and made it off the train in time.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      In one of my earliest jobs, I managed a spreadsheet that tracked the department’s PTO. I wrote a formula wrong and under-calculated someone’s PTO usage. She got 3 extra PTO days because of it!

    5. WellRed*

      I worked at a small printing and copy place. I stopped in one Saturday (when we were closed), to, oh, use the bathroom and park my car. And then walked over to the art festival nearby. I went back to pick up my car and realized I’d not only left the door unlocked, I’d left my keys hanging in the lock!

    6. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

      When I was a subrogation adjuster working for an insurance company and was supposed to be pursuing a third party’s insurance company for reimbursement of the costs we paid on a bodily injury claim for one of our insured truck drivers, I collected 100% of the costs (i.e., medical bills, his downtime/disability payments, and his deductible) back from the insurer. You’re thinking, that’s a good thing, right? My company ended up not being out a single red cent on that claim and my insured got his deductible back. Problem was, the state of Maryland says you can’t pursue a third party in a bodily injury claim for reimbursement of medical bills sustained as a result of an auto accident. I had no idea when I sent my demand package to the other insurer, and the adjuster handling that claim for them obviously didn’t either because she cut me the check, which included coverage for his medical expenses. Whoops.

      When my manager pointed this out to me, I was horrified that, should we ever be audited by the Department of Insurance, and this was discovered, I’d get us fined or we’d have to issue an ex gratia payment (which no insurer ever wants to do) to reimburse the third party carrier for their reimbursement of the medical bills. My boss told me it was fine, she just wanted to point that out to me so that I didn’t include those costs going forward for accidents that happened in that state, but that really would have been useful information to receive before I sent my demand.

    7. Quill*

      So, I was in R&D, and one of the PhD’s had just lost an entire lab notebook. I wasn’t looped into all the drama (security cameras were checked, cubes were physically dismantled,) but IMMEDIATELY after I was cosigning my supervisor’s lab notebook, as was standard, and accidentally left it out on my unsecured, shared desk overnight. When I turned up in the morning, it was gone, and I panicked, until the chemist who sat next to me pulled it out of his drawer – he’d heard about the missing lab book and quite sensibly locked it up for me.

    8. Witchy Human*

      I was closing the office by myself, and I failed to both lock the door and set the alarm. If I hadn’t been the one to open the next day, I would definitely have lost that job. (I mean, I would have fired me).

    9. Oh Snap!*

      I was a producer on a large multi-day photo shoot and booked one of the models for the wrong day and didn’t realize until we were on set an hour away. I told my boss, called the guy’s agent and arranged a car to drive him out. Luckily he was available and we didn’t need him until the afternoon so the client and photographer never found out. Once you make a big mistake the smaller ones are a lot easier to handle.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I attended a communication awards event once when I was a pup and found myself at a table with some major big guns in their field/firms. EVERY one of them had a story about a huge mistake they’d made early in their career that still made them cringe.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I once realized I was sitting on almost a million dollars in unpaid ambulance bills. The purchasing folks were renegotiating the contract and told me to hold onto the bills until that was done, so I just kept chucking them into a folder and forgetting about them. They never told me the contract was sorted, but I also never followed up with them to find out what the story was, because we were understaffed by half and drowning in other work too.

      Finally I got an email one day from our CFO with the interim like six levels of management between me and her CC’ed, going “So uh, how come the CFO of (Ambulance Company) just called me to ask why we haven’t paid them in almost a year?” When my boss came to find me I was literally sitting on the floor under my desk bawling on a folder of ambulance bills because I was positive I was going to be perp-walked out the door that day. But she gave me a pep talk about not letting that happen again, I slammed them all through processing that day, and they were paid (or at least submitted for payment and out of my hands) by the end of the week, and nobody ever mentioned it again. I worked there for another four years and never forgot another ambulance bill :P

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        OMG, poor thing!

        Really though, they waited ALMOST A YEAR to ask where their money was. I’m glad you didn’t get in trouble because that right there shows that it really wasn’t that big of a deal in the end. But I can see why you panicked so bad.

        You don’t pay me for over a month when you owe me money, I’m calling and issuing statements immediately. So tbh I’m judging that Ambulance company so hard.

        1. Derjungerludendorff*

          On top of that, the problem was caused in the first place because nobody talked to Red Reader and management understaffed them.

          A lot of other people were at least partially responsible here.

    11. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Yup, just this week I printed a wire transfer form with bank information for both our company and the recipient. Our printer is a shared Received a phone call just as I hit print. I got distracted by the call and so all of the banking information sat on a shared print device in the hallway for close to an hour before I realized it was still there and scrambled to go grab it.

    12. MOAS*

      Not sure if this counts as one, but I used to work at an office that shared a store. Basically there was one big shutter, that if you opened it, you’d see two doors–the store and my office.

      Around 8-9 PM, I was working late, and I went ot use the restroom which was in that small office. I was finishing up when I HEARD THE SHUTTERS CLOSE! I rushed out of there, and banged on teh shutters, and the person who put it down came back around. That was a terrifying moment. It’s been 7 years so I forgot if I told anyone or whatever happened but..yeah. thatw as a close cal.

    13. Mazzy*

      Need to keep it vague. I ended up submitting data to an authority that was wrong. It was a time and place years ago where small errors opened there can of worms to be audited and getting fined a huge amount. I never said anything because I was so young and new, and no one ever caught it, and it had no large impact at the end of the day. But the guilt of someone finding it and then spot checking everything, or fining us for not telling, was huge for years. The next time I made an error I reported it and it lost is money, but I didn’t wait until the statute of limitations had passed (maybe the wrong word) in which case the penalty was worse. Again, I’m being vague on purpose.

    14. Margali*

      I organize the annual company dinners. A few years ago, I had been talking to the restaurant about 2 possible dates. We eventually went with Date A. It wasn’t until 5 days before the event, when I was going over some details with the restaurant event manager, that I discovered that they had as down as Date B. (This despite my many emails with the subject line “Company dinner on Date A.”) They were able to clear the decks and get the food in and everything went really well on Date A, but I was feeling shaky in the car driving there because I kept imagining myself having to tell the CEO and 80 other people that they had driven all the way to the restaurant for nothing.

    15. LGC*

      I overcharged a customer by $15,000 accidentally (I tried to make an edit in the PO SAAS and it glitched). On an account that was roughly $200,000, so not a small fraction.

      The customer paid.

      The COO told me when he saw the payments didn’t line up.

      Fortunately, we were able to issue a credit and things worked out. But honestly, I was thinking that I’d fire me or at least put me on a PIP. (I don’t make edits in the purchase order site anymore because of that as well.)

    16. Ama*

      I realized at 6:00 am the morning of an event that we hadn’t ordered the projector and screen set up for our lunch presentations — which as we are a nonprofit, and the lunch presentations were from the sponsors funding that particular event, would have been an absolute disaster and probably endangered future donations from those sources.

      There were extenuating circumstances why it never got caught until that morning (including a walkthrough meeting that was hijacked by a volunteer who kept sidetracking the discussion from an orderly review of the plans, and the fact that we were already doing twice as many events as we’d usually do in that period), although that wouldn’t have mattered to my boss. Luckily, because it wasn’t until lunch time and I was able to grab the venue crew while they were setting up for breakfast and put the order in, my boss never found out about it and the sponsoring presenters thought we had put together an extremely well organized event.

    17. Spreadsheets and Books*

      One time, I accidentally dropped a client check for $11K I was supposed to be depositing into a mailbox with the rest of the correspondence I was mailing on my way to the bank.

      I had to chase down the mailman in 95 degree Florida heat on foot in heels (luckily the check was still in the envelope the client sent it in, albeit opened) and beg him for it back. No one ever found out.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Check out a movie called “Cause for Alarm,” I believe the star is Loretta Young. You might relate to part of it…

    18. Atlantian*

      I once spent months working in an accidentally locally saved version of an Access Database rather than the one saved to the server. Thankfully, when we were making entries, there was a field where you had to put your initials so you could be credited in the report later. Once we figured it out, I ended up having to stay over for a week or so and making sure all my entries got copied over into the master file.

    19. Kiwiii*

      I used to work in the pricing department of a grocery store. The way we did the liquor sales is that we would make a file with all the prices to take off of sale/return to regular price, and then another file with all the prices to put on sale price, to be applied the morning of the sale. I was trained very well, but the store owner had a very critical eye on our department because the person I’d been hired to replace had been skimming money somehow. About two months into doing the files on my own, I’d been recently put under pressure to work more quickly, which resulted in my somehow accidentally doing a LIVE EDIT of the store’s prices!! It then took 2 or 3 times the time it should have to put all the sale prices from that week back and redo the file for next week -.-

      No one ever realized what I’d done, but for an hour or two I had about two hundred liquor prices super incorrect. And I definitely didn’t improve my reputation of being too slow.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I just thought of one from when I was an admin.

        I did most of the interview set up because my boss was Crazy busy, including reserving rooms, scheduling the interviews, making sure interviewees knew what to expect, and notifying the security desk. I had been in the role maybe 6 months, had done the process once before with lots of help, and didn’t have any documentation to reference to make sure I had everything completed. We had a round of interviews scheduled, but at about 2PM the day before, I realized I’d forgotten to send a ticket to IT (in the main building, about 15 minutes away) to borrow/reserve a laptop for the writing portion of the interview and to set up a guest wifi account to use it on (this is usually done at least 48 hrs ahead of time). If we didn’t have those things, we 100% wouldn’t be able to conduct that portion of the interview and my manager would Freak out at me. I called my friend in IT in a mild panic like “Please help, I’m so stupid.” and he swore at me a little, but snagged me one provided I could be there in a half hour before he left for the day and backdated a ticket for the wifi access to bump it to the top of the queue, then completed it for me while we were on the phone. And then I jumped in my car and drove over to grab the laptop from him. My boss never found out.

        Be nice to your IT people, y’all, because he Saved my life that day, (and like two other times in slightly less dramatic fashion.)

    20. detaill--orieted*

      Woodworking/cabinet shop; me, new, young, clueless. Big client was there around closing time going over plans with my big bosses. They needed a custom extra-thick door for a refrigerator, say 2′ x 3′. We had *one* piece of particleboard thick enough, say, 2-1/2′ x 3-1/2′. It’s late, my supervisor is gone, I’m tasked with cutting it down to size — by this date I may be new, but I’m certainly capable of making two cuts on a panel saw.

      So I cut it down — to 2′ x 2′. Yup, I cut it to the smaller dimension both times.

      My big bosses were kind.

    21. anna*

      In my first office job, I was a receptionist at a kind of dysfunctional company in an industry where companies send gift baskets around christmas to each other. My boss asked me to buy 3 gift baskets in a certain price range, have them sent to the office, and once they got here we’d put cards in them and send them to certain companies. Around this time we were also receiving gift baskets from other companies. My job with those was to open them and put the gift baskets in the break room, where they’d promptly get eaten/taken home by various employees. A couple days later, I got a package with 2 of the gift baskets I’d ordered… but I’d ordered three? I looked it up online and found the other one had been sent separately and arrived the day before, and I hadn’t realized it was the one I’d ordered, so I put it out and it had been eaten. I even remembered getting one without a card and being confused but not confused enough to realize what had happened I guess?

      Anyway I panicked, thought I’d get fired, and told my boss the third one had been delayed. I went home and bought one of the same gift baskets from the website and had it overnighted to the office (with my own money– I think with overnighting it was like 150-200$ and I was not very well paid, sigh) and I don’t think my boss was ever the wiser. I was so scared, though.

    22. Annonnymooses*

      Technically, not locking your computer when you leave line-of-sight is a firing offense in my company. I may or may not forget on occasion…or, more usually, I plan to just dip into the kitchen 20 feet away and grab my tea and then someone grabs me with a raging!fire!Must!Come!Help! and we go charging off to fix The Problem and holy crap, my computer has been unlocked for 45 minutes.

      However, this also technically only applies when we have escorted visitors behind the locked doors and that rarely happens.

    23. Anonymous tech writer*

      Still in my probation period as a technical writer, I imported a Word draft into the FrameMaker template. I was new enough that I had extra reviewers and none of them noticed that the draft showed the current draw in microamps but the formatted doc showed it in milliamps. Word inserts symbols by using different fonts, and FrameMaker blew that away. When “mu” changed to “m” that changed the current draw by three orders of magnitude.
      I caught the error after doc release but before product shipped.

  6. Seifer*

    Some of my coworkers are absolutely, 100% not self-starters. Which is… fine, I suppose, but when I have to keep reminding them over and over and over that I need this submittal in because the item in question needs to get approved and to site, like, stat, otherwise we can’t close the walls, which means that we’ll be delayed finishing out that floor, which means that we can’t get finishes in, which means that literally! The whole floor will be holding up the completion date of the project which is already like three months behind schedule! And then they tell me. Oh yeah I guess I’ll do that today or something. I want to throw their computers out the window because clearly they don’t need them! 

    I’m not your manager! I’m not your mentor! I’m not your mother! I don’t have time to handhold you through doing your friggin’ job! And then they sit on a call with the project manager who is screaming all of the same things that I’ve been telling them for the past two months and they’re just like. But why is he mad at me????? Now I want to scream.

    How do you impress upon someone that has zero sense of urgency that they need to have some sense of urgency? I keep having to report the schedule delays because that’s MY job and no amount of telling these people “hey man, you’re really screwing me and the whole project over when you do that” is getting through to them.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Not your circus, not your monkeys. Stop reminding them over and over that they have work to do, and provide the facts as you report the schedule delays. As long as they’re being notified of the tasks and deadlines, it’s not up to you to make sure they are doing their jobs.

      I’m a Project Manager, and currently working on a project on which the developers are not moving at the speed that we need and there’s no way this project will be completed by the deadline. I track the progress and report on it, but it’s not my job to stand over the developers and make them move faster – that’s on their manager. If the project doesn’t get completed, it’s not because I didn’t do my job.

      1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

        That was the tactic I took when I was a proposal manager. If the sales team didn’t get me the information I needed to write certain sections of their proposals (because it was always sales holding up the process), I would tell them I was either going to make shit up, which they’d then have to explain to the customer why we can’t do what I put in the proposal, or I was going to submit the bid to the client with the blank sections in it, and then the salesperson could explain to their manager why our proposal was non-compliant and thrown out.

        1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

          Hit submit too soon. Anyway, once I communicated the above to the flaky salesperson, they suddenly gave me the work I had been requesting, sometimes for weeks. So basically, threatening can work, lol.

    2. chizuk*

      That doesn’t sound like an issue of not being a self-starter. I’m not particularly a self-starter, but I mean that in that I don’t go looking for things to do, I don’t make things more complicated, etc, in a way that my self-starter coworker has never found a tiny project she doesn’t want to spend 40 hours turning into something overly complicated. I make things simple and don’t go above and beyond what they ask for.

      What you’re describing sounds like people straight up not doing their jobs. You’re not their manager so you don’t have any control over them, but if what they’re doing is affecting your work negatively, your manager needs to be aware of it. You can’t kick them into doing their work, but it’s making you look bad, and your manager needs to know why, and maybe your manager can ge their manager on them to do their jobs.

      1. Seifer*

        Isn’t it, I don’t know. I took it to mean that they don’t take any initiative unless people are hovering over them and breathing down their necks. And… that’s my coworkers.

        1. QCI*

          Taking initiative would mean going above and beyond the scope of their job, these people are just lazy and not doing their job.

    3. Dot*

      Is there an actual manager you can go to? Can you forward all the delays to that person? This sounds awful.

      1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

        Yup, if threatening them to do their jobs doesn’t work, OP needs to escalate these issues to the colleague’s manager(s).

    4. Parenthetically*

      I think… you don’t. I think every time you get an assignment, you follow up the conversation with the assigning manager via email: “Per our conversation on 9/3, I requested a submittal from Bob and Frank (see below) on 9/4 requesting Project Component X be completed no later than 9/18 to allow for Project Components Y and Z to commence on 9/20.” Then on 9/16 you send ONE SINGLE reminder to Bob and Frank and cc the PM/their boss, “Hi Bob and Frank, just a reminder that Job X needs to be completed by 9/18 as requested on 9/4 (see below). Projects Y and Z are slated to start 9/20 and are ready to go.” Note that this is NOT for Bob and Frank’s benefit, but for the benefit of their managers/the PM. Follow-up and repeat ad nauseam, so PM/bosses can see that you’re doing your part but are stuck in line behind Bob and Frank, i.e. leave a mile-wide paper trail everywhere you go. I’d say, given your history with these folks, to do it as early as you can in the process and follow EVERYTHING up via email so you can point to your part of the work being completed or ready to be completed if not for their tardy asses.

      The mistake I made early in my career was trying to get people to feel a certain way about things. As I moved further along, I realized it’s not my job to change people’s feelings, or even their actions, just to do my job as far as I was able, and communicate clearly with them and whoever they answer to. Being able to emotionally detach meant I could loop in the folks above without feeling like I was tattling, because I could more clearly see that, actually, it WAS super-important for Boss Person to know that Fergus wasn’t doing his work and it was setting the whole team/project back, because Boss Person couldn’t make decisions without having that information.

      Obviously, I think it’s perfectly fine to bring all this to the PM and say, “Look, here’s a raft of emails from me trying to chase Bob and Fred down for the last three months to just do their damned work, there has to be something we can do so we can actually move forward with this project!”

      1. Little Pig*

        I think this is perfect advice. Broadcast that you are doing everything right and that the ball is in their court. It will become incredibly obvious that they are the ones wrecking the timeline!

    5. Wren*

      God I feel every word of this… My main problem is usually with subcontractors (including one which has sent me the same wrong submittal THREE times), in which case my advice is always to take it up the chain. Find their manager, or the manager’s manager, and explain clear consequences. “If you do not get me this, we will be late and we will charge your company $X per day.”

      In the case of people on your own team, I guess you can’t really do that so definitely loop in your manager on EVERYTHING. “I told Sarah I needed the submittal by Friday. I gave her a daily reminder but she still didn’t get it to me on time. What would you like me to do?” It sounds like your PM is getting involved but maybe you can have them intervene earlier.

      Ultimately though, even with being able to impose consequences on people, I still struggle with this so…. I feel your pain. It is SO frustrating. Sometimes I am calling daily and then they are somehow shocked when something is delayed.

      1. Seifer*

        Oh god, even the PM. He told me once that he doesn’t know what to do with this guy. PM has tried yelling, he’s tried threatening, he’s tried being nice, he’s tried sending emails, calling, skype, talking to the guy’s manager… it’s like, this guy just… he has no sense of urgency.

        And this guy isn’t on my team which just makes it even worse tbh. We all try talking to his manager and even his manager just shrugs and says that it’ll all work out fine. It… it will not. We’re so behind. LIQUIDATED DAMAGES ARE A THING OKAY.

        1. Boomerang Girl*

          Can you put a $ value on the cost of delays? Showing senior executives how this is affecting the bottom line tends to bring about change in my experience.

          Also, publicly (within the company) reporting all projects and all steps in the process with heatmap colors to identify where it was on time and on spec and where it wasn’t will quickly bring to light the problems.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Do your boss and his boss share the same big boss?
          Perhaps it is time to drag the big boss into this nonsense.
          I think you need to keep going up the ladder here since his boss is non-responsive.

    6. Aquawoman*

      This is one of those things where the problem affects you but you aren’t the one with the ability to solve it. This seems like a problem that needs to be fobbed off on their manager. If you can think of a system that could be implemented so that they can know to do their jobs, I’d suggest it (some sort of tracking/deadline system?). Otherwise, maybe have a conversation with their manager that you’re finding that priorities and timing are not clear and so things are not happening when they need to, and how can he help create that. I’m sorry, people who don’t understand that they work in an organization that is affected as opposed to being some sort of stand-alone widget maker, are frustrating.

    7. LGC*

      No advice, just…do you work where I work? Because our major project is over two months behind schedule and literally every deliverable has to be fixed after proofing. (There are at least three quality control checks before the final proofing, where it would be much easier to fix things. As in, we need to run all hundreds of thousands of images through the proof again if any one of them is bad.) No one sees a problem with this, apparently.

      I weakly suggested that they should aim to complete things by 2 PM so they can be delivered the next business day. Everything still gets completed at 5 PM and gets delayed another day.

      You might be wondering why I care about a project I don’t manage. I’m the one that charges for every project my department does.

    8. Wolfsbane*

      A few things you can do, not for this project but the next one.
      1) Have a debrief with their manager about the delays on this project when they are done. This is not a complain fest but to get aligned with manager on how to handle the next project.
      2) Build in false deadlines and delays for this team for the next project.
      3) Have a lead resource on that team. Assigning to a group without clear responsibilities is a great way to have people not do the work.

  7. Jedi Squirrel*

    Thank goodness it’s finally time for the Friday thread. I’m trying to figure out if this is overt racism or if not, what it is.

    I am taking a course to become a driver’s ed instructor. The instructor of this class has been doing this for 39 years, and she seems to have a weird fixation on students of color, especially boys, as she always has stories in which male Hispanic/Arabic/Chaldean students flummox her.

    She told this story which seemed to particularly delight her. A young Hispanic male drove himself to a driver’s ed class she was teaching. (She seemed particularly put out that he was driving a Cadillac Escalade.) This is obviously a no-no, but there are quite a few kids out there who don’t realize you can’t drive yourself to driver’s ed.

    My reaction would have been to take this kid aside and tell him that he needs to make arrangements for a licensed driver to come pick him up and to get a ride from that point further, because technically he’s breaking the law. Instead, she wrote “You are being watched” on a piece of paper, snuck out, and stuck it under his wiper. She then described (with a note of glee in her voice) that when class was over, she watched him read the paper and look around with a look of fear on his face. And I get it—the note didn’t specify why he was being watched, and in today’s political and social climate (this happened just last year), it is not always safe to be a person of color. I’m not surprised that he was panicked.

    Anyway, stories like this are starting to grind on me. My future employer is a friend and former colleague (more the latter than the former), and is also the person who arranged for me to take this course. She holds this instructor in high esteem, as she’s well-known in this area for what she does, and sits on several state and national DE boards.

    I’m trying just to ride this out, because once the course is over in December, I’ll probably never have to deal with this person again, but this still just irks me. Am I over-reacting by being bothered by this? (For the record, I’m a white-passing person of color who is really tired of this.) It’s unprofessional to say the least, but is it also racist? Should I say anything to my friend/future employer, and if so, what and when? Or just be glad that my time with this person is done, but still be irked by how she views these students?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Oh no that’s effed up. You should absolutely say something to your friend, the “You are being watched” note alone is grounds to say something.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            ICE was my immediate thought. I have a coworker of Mexican descent who gets a lot of “I’ll report you to ICE” from angry customers, so I’m guessing a person of Latinx heritage would immediately make that mental leap.

            Also, this person is supposed to be a teacher. You do not teach people things with anonymous passive-aggressive notes. Even if you set aside the racism (which nobody should, because it’s awful), she is not as good a teacher as people think she is if her go to is an anonymous note on somebody’s car.

            1. Mama Bear*

              ICE threats aside, she’s saying this in class, right? So she’s teaching the next generation of Driver’s Ed instructors how to treat (or mistreat) students. That is not cool. At the very least I would probably say something to my boss in a “this really bothers me and I plan to finish the course, but I suggest you don’t send anyone to that program again” kind of way. I am not sure who you could or should report the instructor to. Lots of high-ranking people in orgs are still toads, and keep getting away with it because people overlook their bad behavior. Doesn’t make it right, though.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                This. She’s supposed to be teaching people how to teach driver’s ed, and by *her own* account, she’s a pretty terrible driver’s ed teacher. I’d definitely tell the boss that she’s teaching some pretty sketchy techniques that we don’t want our teachers to use and we should look for someone else to send our future instructors to.

        1. kittymommy*

          I immediately thought serial killer (maybe because I watch/read a lot about that). Finding a note like that would creep me the eff out.

          This definitely sounds racist to me. And creepy. I would say something.

    2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I’m white, but that sounds racist to me. Maybe not intentionally (then again, most racism isn’t), but there’s a reason her stories always involve MOC and have some classist stereotypes as well. You’re not overreacting and she sounds incredibly annoying.

      Having said that, I can already see her response to any criticism being something like, “Oh, I’m not racist, all my funny stories just ~happen~ to involve POC! The story is funny even without their race! Why are you making it about race, you reverse racist?”

      So: yes, you could do something about it, but it’s going to be hard to get her to change, assuming she does at all, and I don’t know if that’s effort you want to make or are able to make in the time you have with her.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Maybe not intentionally (then again, most racism isn’t)

        Yeah, it’s definitely more the everyday-grandpa-who-grew-up-in-the-old-days kind of racism, rather than the Uncle-Ray-who-got-drunk-at-Christmas-and-starting-ranting-about-blacks-and-Jews kind of racism.

        I’ll probably never see her much or at all after December, so I don’t know if I want to say anything at all about it to her, but I’m thinking of my future employer, who described this trainer as “opinionated”. I wasn’t sure what that was code for, but now I’m guessing I do.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          whoa: Your future employer described the trainer as ‘opinionated’ and you think that refers to her racism?

          IOW: Your future employer *knows* about her racism and STILL SENDS PEOPLE TO HER?

          That changes my advice below. Do not take this to your future employer even as a question, unless you are REALLY sure about how solid your future employer is on questions of race. I am a white liberal woman and I say: if she’s white, don’t go to her for sure. If she’s not white, maybe use the ‘ask for advice’ ploy, but whew, that is a huge red flag. If she is white, then make sure you have a list of other employers in your area for the driver’s ed instructors so that you can move on if this red flag turns out to be accurate.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Opinionated? Is that the new code word? I think your employer needs to be less gracious, unless the employer has the same beliefs. And if so…I wouldn’t want to work there.

            1. Gaia*

              I hope it isn’t because I call myself “opinionated” all the time but none of my opinions are racist!

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      It’s racist. You’re uncomfortable because you’re picking up on her BS.

      I’m kinda mean. I’d call her out on it, but in an annoying jerky way. When she fires up with one of her stories, “There was this black kid-” “What relevance does him being African-American have to the story?” And then follow up with some teenage “why?”s. She’ll either back down or get more and more racist with each “why?”

      I’d bet she tells this particular story over and over, so you’ll likely hear it again. Jerky Mcjerkface Raccoon would call her out on how wrong the post-it “you’re being watched” is -though I doubt it will do much good. She’s comfortable in her racism.

      I’d report it.

      1. Quill*

        “How does that actually matter?” is great for training relatives out of assumptions when they ‘mean well’ but also have no awareness of what they sound like. Might not work for this lady since she’s obviously gleeful about how she treats these kids, but it’s probably worth a shot.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think this is great advice. It could be coincidence that all her best anecdotes have subjects who are POC but it is not coincidence that she always tells you that the subjects are POC.

        I doubt you’re the only person in the class feeling uncomfortable about it, fwiw. And I definitely think you should feed back to the referrer, if not also the organisation that employs her. I hope I would talk to the referrer now, but I think I would wait to notify the employer until the end of the course where there’s a natural feedback opportunity.

        1. Gaia*


          Sometimes raceor ethnicity is relevant to a story. Sometimes it isn’t. If it isn’t, and you’re mentioning it, you should stop and ask yourself why.

    4. Breast Solidarity*

      Just the fact that she feels the need to identify students by their ethnicity shows you it is racist.

      The note is just bizarre in every way.

    5. Nom the Plumage*

      The fact that she feels like she has to make a point of what race they are sounds racist to me. She can’t just say ”one of my students did X”?

      It makes me think that she would not have done this to a white person, and if that’s the case it is DEFINITELY racism.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        You know, ‘if she would not have done this to a white person, it’s definite’ was my first reaction too, but after I thought about that a little, I have to disagree. Specifying a non-white kid’s race in a denigrating story is racism even if she also tells ‘dumb white kid’ stories.

        Race is not relevant to these stories unless you’re using it along with some bias / prejudice – for white kids, there’d probably be something classist tied in. The Escalade was mentioned for a reason – it subtly refers to the stereotype of latinx drug dealers.

        1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

          Bingo. None of the identifiers she gave in that story were relevant, but they were incredibly revealing.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Are… escalades the drug cars? I don’t know much about cars. I’ll assume it’s an expensive car?

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Escalades are the stereotypical vehicle associated with rappers and the like. It’s the kind of expensive car that tends to be mentioned as code for men of color doing shady things. When a middle class white person talks about a man of color driving an Escalade, they’re usually doing it to indicate that they believe that man to be involved with gang or drug activity.

            So, this teacher could have said “one of my students drove himself to class, but he shouldn’t have because he didn’t have his license yet!” But she included his race and the model of car he was driving, because she wanted her audience to believe Certain Things about this young man.

            And I keep getting angrier about this whole scenario.

            1. kittymommy*

              Interestingly, the only people I know who actually drive Escalades are old white guys (one of which was a second cousin of mine).

            2. Gaia*

              This is interesting. I’ve not encountered this stereotype before (likely a byproduct of being raised and now living in an exceptionally white area). That’s super messed up to assume any POC with a nice SUV must be doing something criminal.

            3. wittyrepartee*

              Yeah. I figured the Escalade was involved in a stereotype, but I wasn’t actually sure what the implication was.

    6. CatCat*

      It’s extremely hateful. Some flyers went around our neighborhood targeting residents from central America. My spouse is Latino and while we did not get one of these flyers, he was very frightened on on edge in our neighborhood for a while after this. The woman is unbelievable.

      I think anyone would be frightened to get a note like that. It’s awful. She is targeting her nastiness toward specific racial or ethnic background and also specifically at young males. So there’s an extra helping of awful on top.

      1. Quill*

        When I was a teen I would have made this woman’s life hell if she’d done this to one of my classmates. And that was over a decade ago when it was way less of an ordeal to be latino in america.

    7. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Yeah, this is hella racist!

      When she tells stories where she mentions the student’s race, it would be a favor to the world if you asked “what does the student’s race have to do with anything?” and when she tells a story like leaving that note(?!) looking appropriately horrified and saying as directly as you can “wow, that sounds like it was really mean. How is he supposed to even know what that note was about?” 0r whatever. I get that it shouldn’t be your job and you’re just trying to get out of there, but you’re not being unreasonable at all, and I guarantee you’re not the only person she’s made uncomfortable.

      In fact, if you’re not comfortable raising the issue with her directly, you should submit complaints to whatever boards she’s part of / whatever org oversees her in her job. This absolutely rises to that level. I might even have changed my mind in typing this; now i sort of think you should skip step 1 and just put in complaints directly. No way this person should have control over anyone’s getting a license, or not, or getting a teaching certificate or not!

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      Yeah, it’s racism – why is she mentioning their race at all? Even if she tells the same stories about white kids, any story she tells that specifies a non-white kid’s race is reinforcing racial bias and stereotypes. For example, the Escalade detail implies the kid’s in a gang / family deals drugs, because surely no Latinx person could purchase an Escalade with money that was legitimately earned…

      Things you can do:
      Ask your future employer for advice on a troubling behavior you’ve observed, list three stories. Ask, ‘What would you do in these situations if you were the instructor?’ and say ‘It bothers me that she makes a point of giving the kid’s race in all these stories. That shouldn’t matter, should it?’

      On the only plus side, with 39 years experience, she won’t be doing it much longer. But she’s been putting out poison for a long long time.

    9. Jennifer*

      I understand why you feel irked. She is assuming that you’re white, which is why she feels comfortable speaking that way in front of you. There are some racist people who think racism doesn’t count if only white people are around when they say something stupid. Ask her if she would have handled it the same way if a white student had done the same thing? Your speaking up could help future students. If she seems resistant to change, go up the ladder.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Both my boyfriend and I are mixed race. We’ve both had this happen a lot, particularly before we moved to a large, diverse coastal city. It’s very very uncomfortable.

        1. Jennifer*

          I am not mixed race but I have a “white voice” over the phone, and I caught people saying some terrible things when I worked in a call center.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yeah, my bf was once told by someone that they didn’t believe in mixing of the races. He was like “oh boy, so… should I not exist?” The guy’s mind was BLOWN.

            People say HORRIBLE THINGS. And it makes one feel dirty for days after the fact if one says nothing, and confrontational and unpleasant if you do say something.

            1. Jennifer*

              Yeah I still feel terrible about not speaking up in the moment when I was younger, but sometimes you’re just so shocked.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      Of course its racism.

      I’d only bring it up if you know your friend to trust your judgment on such issues, though.

    11. Buttons*

      That is messed up. She certainly has some bias against these kids. Why did she think that note would do anything but freak the poor kid out! She didn’t correct him, she didn’t teach him anything, and she didn’t stop him from doing something illegal or dangerous. Isn’t she required to stop an unlicensed driver from driving alone?
      I would talk to your friend. I would approach it as asking her what she thinks is the best way to handle things that make you feel uncomfortable. “Friend, instructor told me this story— tell the story– and it made me feel really uncomfortable because of XYZ. I am not sure how to respond when she tells me stories like that. What do you think?”
      Keep us posted!

    12. Jennifer*

      The evil side of me wants to leave a note under her windshield wiper that says “Your racist self has been reported. We’ll be in touch.”

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          I would love to, but there are only three of us in class. It wouldn’t be hard for her to figure this out.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            If someone put that note on her car (oh, say, an anonymous friend) while y’all were in class, she’d KNOW it wasn’t you!

    13. LCH*

      for the note story, you could have asked her to explain what she did instead of doing what you would have done. or just stated what you would have done instead. for any future stories, you could do this sort of thing. make her explain herself. because the note story is just weird on top of racist. don’t make her feel comfortable telling you her stories. but i also get that she has some control over you as the instructor (that sucks).

      1. TaterTot*

        I am a fan of the “I don’t get it” approach. Wrinkled brow and puzzles tone: “How does leaving an uninformative note help the student learn?” “I don’t get it; why is that funny?” “Sorry, I just don’t understand why that’s supposed to be funny.” And so forth.

      2. juliebulie*

        Yes! The note story is just plain mean, all by itself. The racism is an extra layer of wrongness on the rancid turd cake.

    14. Quill*

      That’s forked, especially in this political climate, and also the LEAST PROFESSIONAL OR SENSIBLE SOLUTION POSSIBLE.

      If you think you can push back – if not to her, than to your friend if they have any sway over this – point out at least that how she’s handling this is a) not actually teaching the children anything b) very inefficient. If your friend has her teach often then your friend needs to know that she’s not teaching how to deal with minors appropriately.

    15. FormerFirstTimer*

      I think it’s racist, but even if you dropped that bit, the note itself is extremely creepy and inappropriate. It makes me think that this woman shouldn’t be allowed around children tbh. I would definitely say something to whoever is in charge of hiring/firing.

    16. Enough*

      So wrong. But regarding driving yourself to driver’s ed. When I was taking the classroom portion one of the guys did drive himself to class. He had moved from a state that did not require driver’s ed to get your license to one that did. So to get his license before he turned 18 he had to take the driver’s ed class.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Wait… there are states that require driver’s ed?
        WOAH. My (former) home state now requires driver’s ed to get a license. That’s news to me.

    17. hbc*

      She’s totally racist. If she was just low-level biased, all her stories might be about POC, but she wouldn’t need to mention their ethnicity.

      I agree with Campfire Raccoon about asking the relevance of race. I would also make it a point to describe any white people explicitly as white in any stories or comments about videos or whatnot. “In the second clip, I was surprised the white instructor didn’t intervene sooner.”

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Or if she was low-level to medium biased she’d be telling both positive and negative stories about PoC, and always mention their ethnicity.

    18. CL*

      In addition to all the excellent explanations of why this is definitely racism, scaring a minor like that is absolutely inexcusable. If someone pulled a stunt like that on one of my kids, I’d be livid. Let him know he can’t drive yet, help him figure out a way home/someone to pick up the car, etc. But not even letting him know that what’s he’s doing is wrong is seriously effed up. I’d let her know that by letting him continue to drive after becoming aware of it, she opened herself and the school to liability if he’d had a crash on the way home afterward. And maybe report her to either the school’s owner or to whatever certification body they report to. It might get her fired.

    19. pumpkin on da shelf*

      A gleeful racist… if you could report her, even if anonymously, what a great service you’d be doing… who knows what else this lunatic will do to harm others…

    20. Parenthetically*

      Whoa “You are being watched” what in the ENTIRE HELL!? Yes, report her racist ass. I would just describe the *actions* rather than trying to create a narrative for Future Boss, but wow this is incredibly unprofessional and very definitely tinged with Instructor’s racist attitudes.

        1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

          Yeah! I’d be out of town in an instant.

          I don’t know how this would happen, but I hope somehow, in some way, someone told him what the note was about (don’t drive w/o a license).

          That is a vicious thing to do to someone.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        She threatened a child. Putting it in terms like that should help fill the gaps in your friend’s obviously very limited understanding of this instructor’s personality.

    21. MOAS*

      Even if by some stretch shes’ not *racist*, she’s still a grade A A-hole. And like someone said above, I hope someone puts an equally disgusting note on her windshield. Hell, I wouldn’t be the least bit sympathetic if someone were to throw food all over or smash her windshiedl.

      1. b*

        I feel as though the appropriate reaction would be “Wait what? You anonymously threatened a student? Why did you do that?” Asked in front of everyone else in the room.

    22. wittyrepartee*

      Oh hello there, other white-passing PoC! I really hate when this happens. I’m not sure what to do, it’s pretty specific to whether you think that your future employer will listen to you.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yeah, I grew up in a small town where everybody knew what my ethnicity was because they knew my family, and were total asshats. (Well, not all, but a lot.) When I moved to the city, I couldn’t figure out why everybody was so nice. (I had been told city people were rude.) And most really are, but you still run into those situations where someone assumes you’re “normal” (which someone had once said to me), and is shocked when you call them out on some racist action.

        Kind of thought we were getting over this in this country, but I guess not. I’m just exhausted by it at this point.

    23. Kiwiii*

      even if the racism is not on purpose, it’s definitely definitely there and needs to be pointed out. If she pushes back it’s bc she likes being racist.

    24. Not So NewReader*

      So this woman is a TEACHER?
      And she teaches by leaving threatening notes under people’s windshield wipers?
      And she thinks this is fine.

      Not only is she a racist, she is also incompetent and should not be teaching anyone to do anything, ever. I have met teachers like this, “women can’t be taught; education is wasted on women; she’ll only make babies and never use this education….”.
      She is a sower of future hatred because she is at the head of a classroo and who should not be in a position to influence other people.

      Let us know how it goes for you.
      It’s time to call someone who cares, even if it has to be an outside agency.

    25. pcake*

      There is NOTHING funny about leaving a note on anyone’s car, door, desk or gate that says “You are being watched”. It sounds very threatening.

      And she apparently couldn’t be bothered to just tell him she saw him drive in and that’s illegal. Instead she proved to be a sadistic and horrible person.

      And yes, from your description, she sounds racist. Glad to hear you’ll be out of there soon!

    26. tamarack and fireweed*

      Oh, trust your instincts on that. When someone keeps telling cautionary tales from their professional practice (which may be a generally useful thing to do) in a weirdly racialized way, it’s racism. Even if maybe in your specific social environment the transgressors are more likely to be from certain ethnicities, their racial background (and even gender) has absolutely no bearing on the situation, and a professional would be scrupulously neutral in providing descriptions.
      The unprofessional creepy note — not only an unprofessional re-telling / teaching situation, but unprofessional handling of a real situation — is an extra.

      If you can, say something.

      1. Murphy McIrish*

        I once found myself in a similar situation with a coworker who would make sexist and racist comments and jokes. At the time I thought that he thought he was being ironic or maybe just provocative. Anyway, one day he made an ignorant comment about the difficulty in hiring qualified new employees and that if it were up to him, “coloreds need not apply.” I responded spoke with a “Oh, that’s not true!” and he looked at me and said, “Excuse me, I meant to say that ‘Coloreds and Irish need not apply.'” WTF?

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          One of the people who think that if they turn it into a joke it isn’t racist, then?

          I’m old enough and have heard these things often enough that I’m much less flustered than I used to be. Most of the time I manage to say something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a racist thing to say” or “Just because you’re turning it into a joke doesn’t make it any less racist” or “So you’re deploring the lack of qualified candidates and want to restrict our hiring pool even further?” or “One thing I’ve learned is that when I look at a team and everyone’s a white guy I know they’re doing hiring wrong and leaving talent on the street”. Said calmly and with an (admittedly often condescending — I have still ways to go) smile.

          (But really, these words are grounds to report him…)

      2. Don’t get salty*

        I’m assuming, based on your description of the 3-person class size, that no one in your class looks like a person of color; perhaps there’s never been a person who looks like a POC in that classroom. This instructor is absolutely racist; there is no ambiguity about the situation.

        Racism doesn’t have to be this over the top outlandish demonstration of racism (saying, “Go back to where you came from!”; burning crosses on your doorstep; spitting in your face; using extremely upsetting epithets) in order to qualify. Nearly all of the racism I experience is the obviously not nice, but questionable type. Racist attitudes have changed slightly, but they have not disappeared; they’ve just gotten more covert.

        If your boss (or manager) can describe this person as “opinionated” and be perfectly fine with her teaching, that’s a signal that, perhaps, the person you report to you is also racist.

        1. Avasarala*

          Yep. Don’t need a white hood to be racist. For *some reason* all her stories are about POC behaving badly. Hm…

    27. Not an authority but that sounds racist to me*

      I’m a white person so I’m definitely not entitled to decide what is or isn’t racism, but I don’t think this is particularly subtle of her, and I’d be willing to bet that if she was only around other people whom she expected to agree with her, she would make much more blatant remarks.

      I do think, however, that this is the kind of racism that people like her have managed to gaslight a lot of other white people into thinking isn’t racism, and if the people who referred you to her class and/or above her are in that category, you’ll have a hard time getting buy in on change.

      I’m very sorry you are going through this.

  8. Sunflower*

    How do I approach contacts of my company/boss about job opportunities?

    I’m 6 months into a new job and it’s not the right fit. While the company isn’t perfect, I know that my big issue is I want to get out of the event planner role I’m in and move into one working in sales for a product our vendors sell.
    My company works with many different vendors that sell this product and they serve as our account reps. I’ve done research online and tried to get a sense of the job market but I’m not finding much. In addition to that, I know these jobs are flexible and not all the time posted online so having these contacts know I’m interested would be immensely helpful in locating these jobs.

    Since I’m only 6 months in, these reps feel very much like my boss’s contacts (as opposed to my company) and it makes me wary about approaching them. My boss is very close with these contacts and I don’t know how to approach them without setting off red flags. Do I pretend to have a ‘friend’ who’s interested? Say I may be interested in this job down the line? Am I overthinking this?

    1. Bird Person*

      What’s your relationship with your boss like? What has your work been like? If they seem reasonable and you’ve been doing good work, you may think about sitting down with your boss yourself and telling them what you’ve told us, and asking for ideas/help/new opportunities. Maybe even exploring sales in your current company first?
      My concern would be that if you go to the contacts yourself, they may prioritize the relationship with the company – either not hiring you or even reporting back to your boss.
      Good luck! I know that’s a frustrating position to be in.

    2. Adlib*

      I don’t know that you can approach the contacts directly about employment. In the course of your interactions with them, you can ask them about their work in general, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to mention wanting that job because that can get back to your boss since you say your boss is close with them.

      It also really depends on the relationship between those contacts and your company/boss. If they see a resume come in from you, they will likely know a vendor relationship exists and could have internal rules about hiring you or not hiring you since you’re an existing client. (I know this because I went through this exact scenario.)

    3. 867-5309*

      Some companies won’t consider moving you at all at this point. You’re still a somewhat unknown quantity so how do they know you’d work out in the next role, if you don’t work out/like this one? I’d encourage you to rock the current position and then in the course of conversations with your boss, say the reps work looks interesting and when the time is right, you’d like to be considered or specifically ask, what it takes to do that work.

    4. MissGirl*

      Did you know what you were hiring on to do? If there’s a question of you thought it was one role but they made it another, that’s one thing. You could go to your boss and communicate that. If this is what you were hired on to do and just had an epiphany you want to do something else, I would keep your search quiet and not involve clients.

    5. Kiwiii*

      You might be able to do a general feeler statement in conversation/email like “I’ve always been interested in what you’re doing, how did you get into it?” but other than that it’s both too new and too removed from you to do much more.

  9. Jennifer*

    I don’t know if you guys listen to the Dear Prudence podcast, but the same person who wrote Alison because his boss accused him of peeing in his chair, calling someone a gay slur and calling an employee at home and asking if they were gay wrote Dear Prudence and letter was answered on the podcast. “Prudence” and the cohost advised him to talk to a lawyer, which I thought was interesting. They also thought the letter in general was super weird and hilarious.

    1. tallteapot*

      Anyone who write the current Prudie asking for work advice is a doofus. Current Prudie knows less than nothing about workplaces/policies/norms. Danny’s advice for work-related questions is truly cringe-worthy.

      1. Jennifer*

        Lol, I agree, unless it’s something that’s just common sense. I think the LW just wrote a bunch of advice columnists in the hope of getting his letter answered.

        1. DataGirl*

          I love advice columns. Sometimes I’ll see a work related question on Dear Abby or Miss Manners and think, “You should be writing AAM!”.

          1. Jennifer*

            Yes! I don’t know why these people don’t write work advice columns with work questions. Sometimes I want to forward them to Alison to see what she thinks.

          2. Quill*

            A lot of the ones I see are like “okay, this work portion is for AAM, this friends and boundaries thing is for Captain Awkward, and your boyfriend who tells you you can’t pee in your own house is for r/relationships where the entire world will tell you to leave him.”

      2. RussianInTexas*

        There was one brilliant advice that basically said it’s OK to steal from your employer if they are a financially successful big company, because 1%-ers something something.
        This is not this works!

          1. RussianInTexas*

            He sort of did. It was OK for the friends to take stuff from the corporate apartment because the company was successful and would not really miss the stuff/money.
            He also presumes everyone has HR and should go to HR every single time to solve every small issue.

            1. Jennifer*

              No, he didn’t. I just re-read the letter. He said he didn’t feel that bad for the corporation since they obviously are doing well (for the record, I don’t either) but that the LW should ask for the keys back from the friends that were planning to steal because they could be on the hook for replacing the items with the landlord or get in trouble at work. If the friends refused to return them, he suggested getting the locks changed.

              1. RussianInTexas*

                The “didn’t feel bad for the corporation” is 100% wrong.
                It doesn’t matter if the company is doing good or bad, you are stealing. Corporation doing well is really, really not the point.

                1. Jennifer*

                  I wouldn’t snitch on good friends to protect a corproration’s interests over some trinkets. I agree that stealing is stealing but I actually thought Prudie’s advice was the perfect balance between staying out of trouble at work but not narcing on your friends. What they were doing was the equivalent of taking the shampoo sample at a hotel room.

                2. RussianInTexas*

                  I am not saying that he should snitch. But he should cut it out now, this second.
                  I am saying this is not OK and that justifying it by “corporation is doing well” is really wrong.
                  You pay for the shampoo in the hotel by paying for the room. It’s yours to take. In that letter, the corporation is paying for this. It is not his.

        1. Allypopx*

          Yes. I love the discussion, and I love Danny, but I would advise people to take most of the actual advice with a grain of salt.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        It’s not just workplaces, it’s pretty much everything. That columnist always finds some way to spin it so that a man is at fault, too, which gets pretty obnoxious.

        1. Jennifer*

          I read every day and listen to the podcast every week and I don’t find that to be true at all. More women tend to write advice columns than men so it may seem biased toward women but that’s not the case in reality, imo.

          1. Campfire Raccoon*

            Agreed. I don’t think it’s always the man’s fault. I do think Danny loves a good victim story – but I’m not reading Dear Prudence because I want boring problems.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              But we don’t get the fun ones anymore! Where is the mother in law poisoning her daughter in law? Where is the twincest?

              1. Jennifer*

                There was a twincest one just answered on the podcast that was hilarious. It involved twins with a strange GoT obsession.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  Oh, I missed that! Podcasts are usually posted when I am at work, and I forget to listen to them when I am at home.

            2. Jennifer*

              Exactly. He picks the saddest, most dramatic stories to draw us in. But he is not afraid to call out a woman that’s doing something problematic either. He just runs more letters from women that are dealing with scumbag dudes.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            FFS. Just look at the first line in the first response of the most recent column. There’s an allusion to the belief that the letter writer underestimates how much their wife does in taking care of their kids.

            Never in a million years would Daniel have written that if the letter writer had written in about their husband. Heck, an excellent response would be something along the lines of “I’m sure your wife finds some things you do with the kids annoying too.” That type of response would work perfectly well regardless of the letter writer’s gender.

            1. Aquawoman*

              I think you have to twist that around and then squint really hard to make that “you don’t understand how much your wife is doing for the kids.” It was purely asking whether the context is child-care or self-care. That was it.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Eh….. If it was purely about self-care vs child-care, why not ask it like that? Daniel is a definitely a skilled writer. It’s not happenstance that the way his sentence is constructed conveys a mental image of a bedraggled mom blasting Taylor Swift while wrangling kids.

      4. Angwyshaunce*

        In fairness, I did see a recent Prudence answer (about a work question) where she specifically referenced this site, using Alison’s insight. I appreciated that.

        1. Jennifer*

          Yeah, he’s not always bad at it but I do wish he’d reference AAM more often. Some of these questions could be answered just be searching the site.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Yes. Or do that thing other advice columnists do where they consult lawyers or experts in the field when the question stretches outside their wheelhouse.

      5. KR*

        I have to agree. I love Daniel’s advice and listening to his podcast but some of his workplace advice is not the best.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Ehhh. I appreciated her day-to-day advice, but anything that dealt with trauma leaned heavily towards victim-blaming. That is to say, Emily was less “Be strong, seek help, try to move on” and more “Get over yourself”.

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          Seconding what others have said, she did have good advice for average questions but if there was ever any alcohol ever involved, she was staunchly “you drank, what did you expect would happen” which really soured me against her.

        3. Savannah*

          I miss her too. I did not always agree with her advice but her style was hilarious.
          I find Daniel’s writing quite boring so I only read it sporadically now. The advice he gives isn’t necessarily bad (except for work questions, on that I’m with y’all) but his style just doesn’t click with me.

      6. The Original K.*

        It really is. I think I heard him say he’d worked at Yahoo or Yelp or someplace like that for three weeks, and that’s the extent of his office experience. And it shows. The only times I can recall agreeing with his workplace advice is if it’s something rooted in common sense, like “I have a crush on my boss, should I ask him out? “No, you should not.”

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I heard that! I also thought it was weird that they interpreted the “did you pee on a chair in this department” as “your chair was peed in, was it you”. I’ll have to go check the letter but they seemed to be hung up on the idea that it was the LW’s chair that was peed in, and how would LW have not noticed that, whereas I thought they were asking if the LW had peed in/on any chair, not specifically theirs.

      I also have other thoughts about other letters they answered but that’s probably better suited for tomorrow’s open thread.

  10. ThatGirl*

    When I was in customer service, we had a hard time getting good information from other departments. While this company is less siloed than it used to be, there’s definitely still information and resource hoarding. Now that I’m in creative, I want to make sure CS gets information that we can easily provide. And my new manager doesn’t seem to get it. She seems to think I’m gonna, like, spend half my day doing things for CS – I literally just want to share documentation and product information that we have access to and encourage our department-mates to do the same. My work is getting done with plenty of time to spare, deadlines are being met, and we are not so busy right now that I can’t spare 10 minutes. (In fact things are kind of slow.) I can tell this is going to be a continued struggle.

    1. new kid*

      No advice, but keep fighting the good fight!! CS is so often overlooked/underappreciated and could do their jobs 1000% more efficiently if other departments would take half a second to think of them and share the readily available resources they have. When I used to work customer service for a tech company, we would often hear from our CLIENTS that updates had gone out before we would hear from dev or anyone internal and it was so embarrassing and frustrating.

      tl;dr – Reading this comment warms my bitter former-CS heart. Good luck!!!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I was basically hired to my CS role to help with that sort of thing, to work better with other departments and improve information sharing, and honestly, CS has a lot of great information that nobody seems to realize – literally they are the front line of consumer feedback and complaints. Why wouldn’t we want to take that into account?? We are a CPG company! I did a lot of hard work while I was in that department and I don’t want to see it go to waste. Thanks for the encouragement :)

    2. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I’m with new kid; you’re doing a great thing. TBH, I would probably just keep doing it and not mention it as much to the manager. Manager has made it clear that they don’t want you to spend a lot of time doing this, and you’ve established that it doesn’t take much time at all, so I would just move forward knowing that you’re in spiritual alignment until and unless it becomes a problem (and hopefully, by then you’ll have a whole CS squad on your side testifying about how much this info has helped them serve your customers better!)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thank you :) The coworkers I left behind basically think I’m an angel so I know they’re on my side, haha.

    3. Mrs_helm*

      Is there an easy way to just share the info? And is there any rule against it? Maybe this is a “get forgiveness not permission” situation?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I can certainly do end-runs around her and in many cases just share it myself. I’m just frustrated that she doesn’t seem to get it, though it’s sort of indicative of a lot of attitudes around here.

    4. Orange You Glad*

      I worked CS doing tech support for a company that produced machines requiring specific software that they also created – so all questions about the machines and the software ended up with the CS team.

      And two weeks before Mother’s Day, the Legal department changed the shipping rules so if you ordered a machine to be sent to a different address than your billing address, your order was held until you called CS.

      Except the only way to know if your order was held was if you were checking your tracking number and it hadn’t shipped for a few days and you called to find out why?

      So suddenly CS was getting *tons* of angry husbands calling who had ordered a machine for their wives for Mother’s Day…and now their presents wouldn’t arrive in time because it got held and we didn’t notify them. It was a nightmare, we lost business, we had to overnight ship a ton of stuff, etc.

      Why did this fiasco occur?

      Because the Legal department was concerned about high fraud numbers so they made this change without telling CS. Basically some people were ordering machines with stolen credit cards and shipping them to other locations so they held ALL the orders like that to prevent it.

      We asked why they didn’t send out an automated email of an order had been held? Something to let the customer know to call and get their address verified and release their order for shipping?

      “Because then fraudulent people will see the email and call which defeats the purpose of the order hold.”

      Ok. That doesn’t sound reasonable but ok. If they had just asked CS for input on how to make these changes, it would have solved everything! Instead they ruined Mother’s Day for hundreds of people AND created weeks of chaos for CS…

      Ugh. This was 3 years ago and 2 jobs ago and I’m still angry about this.

      1. NeonDreams*

        Lord, that does sound like a nightmare :( I know the feeling of other departments making decisions and not telling CS well.

    5. OhBehave*

      Thanks from a former CS rep. I have done the same thing. Working hard to make sure the front lines knew about a new promo, sale, glitch, etc. It makes things so much easier.
      Not sure how docs are shared but can you suggest the originator include CS on these notifications?

      1. ThatGirl*

        In many cases I can send things directly to CS and I have been; this specific query was a bigger project where I may not end up with the end result so I wanted to be sure they would have access. The ultimate answer was really “go around my manager right to the person who can provide it if necessary,” I guess.

    6. NeonDreams*

      I’m in customer service and this is one of my many frustrations about the job. Either of lack of information, information isn’t being spelled out, or the information exists but you can’t find the document when you need it. You’re doing a great thing.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When the company set up SharePoint years ago, we started posting our publishef docs to a teamroom. The numbers of phone calls to us from tech services & customer support dropped from two or three a week to two or three a year. And we have all those lovely records of how often people did research on the site. Just a thought…

    8. Bring Hawkeye to the Details*

      A job in Creative that gives you time to spare?!? Hold on to that job, girl. That’s a unicorn job.

      Can I come work with you? Lol.

  11. Audrey Puffins*

    Quick one for any UK managers or HR types: I know from reading this blog that US workplaces by law cannot forbid employees from discussing their wages with other employees, do we have anything similar in the UK? My company requests that we don’t discuss our wages with each other as our different backgrounds and different lengths of service etc mean that we’ll be receiving different wages, which sounds fair enough, but we’re all intelligent enough to realise that there are legitimate reasons for people to receive different wages (and I’m confident that, if challenged, HR would be able to prove the fairness of different wages), so it doesn’t really sit right that we’re asked not to talk about it.

    1. PX*

      I thiiiiink so. I dont know off the top of my head but was having a quick google recently and the website has some good info on laws. Reed (job search website) surprisingly also does, but I also know the citizens advice bureau is generally a good place to start as well.

    2. SarahKay*

      To the best of my knowledge, no, it’s illegal for UK companies to forbid staff from discussing / disclosing their own salary. They can say you’re not allowed to do it on company time (which, okay, I guess makes sense) and they can request / suggest that you don’t do it at all, but they can’t forbid it.

    3. Weegie*

      According to an article in the Metro last year, employers in the UK can’t forbid employees to discuss salary:

      ‘Thanks to the Equality Act of 2010, employees have the right to discuss salary for the purposes of collective bargaining or protection – so that if everyone’s being underpaid, people can come together and ask for more.’

      I’ll link to the article in a reply.

      My employer, like most others in the same sector, actually publishes its pay bands – if you know what grade someone is on, you have a rough idea of what they earn.

  12. Dankar*

    I’ve applied to a job at a nearby institution, but they have two open positions. Even though both positions were vacated at around the same time, only one has been posted, and that’s the one I’ve applied for. I’d really prefer to apply for the unopened one, however, as it’s a better fit for me.

    I know (vaguely) the woman from the department who typically posts the jobs–can I reach out to her to ask if they plan to open a search for the second position without jeopardizing my application for the first?

      1. Dankar*

        Both of the positions show as vacant on their staff site, and I was on a regional board with the woman who left the position I’d prefer.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          In that case, I agree with the below that it’s not a good move to ask about a position that’s not posted. If you have a strong relationship with the woman who left the position, you could ask her about what she knows about the company’s plans to refill the role, but I don’t think you’ll do yourself any good to ask someone at the company who you only vaguely know.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      You’d be overstepping. There are a lot of valid business reasons why a recently vacated position would not be posted. If they want resumes for the position, they’ll post the position.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      I think since you 1) know the woman who does postings and 2) know the woman who left, it’s a natural networking kind of question. You’d want to mention ‘Beyonce told me she was leaving the role of dancer to become Queen, and I was wondering if your institution was planning to open a search for a new dancer.’

      I do not think a single question would impact the application for the other position at all. You can’t send any nudges if the posting woman doesn’t respond.

    3. M*

      They may not post two roles or one may be changed. We had two people leave my team recently and although one role is staying the same (and has been posted), the other role will be vastly different because we have different needs. We have had many people inquire about the second role (basically because the person who was in it knew a lot of people and didn’t do much but had a high salary for the role). The new job will be more entry level with the ability to move up but is different in scope and duties. So it is fine to ask, but be aware they may be looking for something different. Also, getting a second team member was also a big haul. We were three down and I worked my tail off and was told I didn’t need to hire more than one because I was doing a stellar job. I had to let them know it was because I was working 10-12 hour days. So I stopped doing that and now I am allowed two more people

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sometimes hiring freezes mean an opening is going to go unfilled for the forseeable future.

  13. Shannon*

    I dealt with this, and I can only say just do it, and eventually her BS will start to affect you less/become less awkward for you. It’s absolutely not fair, but if you/others have addressed it with her boss and didn’t get anywhere, you don’t have much of a choice.

    I also tried the tactic of innocently asking “Oh, is something wrong/Do you not understand the directions/Sorry, are you in the middle of something?” and usually, this would stop the behavior in the short term; however, it always came back and sometimes I just didn’t have the energy.

  14. Goldfinch*

    Same racist/sexist/classist VP as last week’s open thread, overheard at a work luncheon this week:

    (said by a married man in his late 50s to an engaged new employee in her early 20s) “You are a smokeshow! If I wasn’t standing next to the head of HR, I’d be trying to get with you.” As if, dude.

    Sigh. Yes, I’ve started looking. Thanks for the nudges that I already knew the correct answer.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


          The only positive is that you’ve proven your instincts are strong. I hope you find your exit very soon.

        2. Cherry Bitters*

          Why is it even worse that they are people of color? What is the rationale for holding them to a higher standard?

          1. Blueberry*

            [disclaimer: obviously I am not the Speaker for All People of Color] My reasoning here is that I find it ethically disappointing when people who face one kind of bigotry won’t/can’t extrapolate to notice when we’re promoting another kind of bigotry and therefore start working on not doing so. Among other things I’m a woman and a POC, and I don’t know which makes me sadder: women who promote racism or POC who promote sexism. Not that it’s at all justified when people who don’t experience bigotry promote it, but there’s a layer of frustration when someone with the life experience to understand just, basically, chooses not to.

          2. Cherry Bitters*

            Yeah, that’s just laughable. The idea that a non-white man is something more attuned to misogyny is foolish, and the concept that people of color somehow have to be better at calling folks out, even in situations in which they may be legitimately marginalized, is particularly unpleasant. But sometimes it be your own people who hold you to an unfair standard.

            1. Avasarala*

              I don’t think it’s that POC have to be better at noticing/dealing with bigotry. But because they experience it themselves, one might think that gives them expertise at recognizing it (as compared to people with privilege, who might need to be educated on the concept in the first place). But of course that doesn’t play out that way in real life. POC can be just as racist against their own/other groups, or along other axis (sexism, homo/transphobia, etc.) as anyone else.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*


      Ugh I hope the head of HR did something! If someone says “I’d break every bone in your body if this cop wasn’t standing here” I’m pretty sure that still counts as a threat.

      This makes me so tired.

    2. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Ah jeez. That’s horrifying. Is there some higher body you can put in a complaint to? This sounds like a terrible place to work.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      EEEEWWWWW. My skin is now trying to crawl off my body and go hide under the bed or something. I hope you find something much better soon, OP!

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Ugh. Your poor coworker getting creeped on by this steaming pile of grossness. I’m glad you’re looking, and I hope you can get out soon.

    5. LunaLena*

      Oh, ewww. I worked at a company in my early 20s where the president (married with kids who were the exact same age as me) used to say similar things to me. It was SO SO awkward and embarrassing, and I was way too young and naive at the time to know that this was not okay, so all I did was politely laugh and move away as quickly as possible.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This guy is now famous (infamous) on AAM and he has no idea that half the world is puking at him.
      There is just something so satisfying in knowing that.

  15. Nines*

    Any tips on writing a personal performance evaluation would be greatly appreciated! I’ve never done one before. Supposed to list accomplishments from this year. It goes in my file and can impact whether I get a raise. And I’m getting writers block.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I would use Allison’s resume-writing advice and focus on accomplishments and include numbers, if possible.

      “Color-coded the TPS reports resulting in 35% time savings while searching for open orders.” That sort of thing.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Not sure when you have to have it done….but I have learned to keep track of these things all along. Word doc on desktop, every time I do something I (usually!) note it in the doc.

      If your office has a template for this kind of thing, throw your stuff in there as you go along. You can edit later. If there isn’t a template, talk with your boss about categories to include.

      I always keep the previous year’s evaluation (my notes and the final copy that my boss gives me) as well — then you can compare and point to things like “met 2017-2018 goal to XYZ”.

    3. Word from the Wise*

      I learned to record my significant achievments during the year in a Word file. I would also list examples of where I stood out for communication, team work, technical ability, attendance ect (categories that are on the review).

      This took extra time during the year, but made completing my review simple and I didn’t forget my big milstones and achievments.

    4. Catwoman*

      I think it helps to start with your job description and then think of projects or concrete examples that show how you have performed your job. For example, if your job description states that you are responsible for sales in the X region, talk about new accounts you’ve added or list sales figures, especially if your metrics show an increase from the previous year or from when you began your role. If your accomplishments are less quantifiable, then you can give examples like “delivered the Jones project to the client a week ahead of schedule” or “improved the design of the website and received strong positive feedback”.

    5. chizuk*

      fistbump of solidarity! I’ve been procrastinating on mine for over a month.

      This doesn’t help you right now, but can help next year: what does help is that I keep a running file of what I do every week, and then at the end of the week, I e-mail it to myself. That way, at the end of the year when I write it up, I do know what I did this year.

      Then it’s just the work of turning “I completed all my widgets on time with full satisfaction” into fitting the exact wording of my job description, which is the hard part…

    6. Throwaway123*

      Get the book FYI For your improvement:

      You want to talk about their skills and how they can improve them.
      So you describe the specific project – accomplishments and the skills they used in project. How they can enhance those skills they are already good at. Then list any skills they should work on that would have helped them do the project any better.

      For example your work on the cookie project helped increase customer satisfaction by 50%. I saw your skill 1, skill 2, and skill 3 help achieve this result. Name and describe these strengths. I think if you work on skill 4, and 5 we will see even better results. Name skills and how person can work on them for the next year (trainings, mentoring, etc.).

      Don’t bring up any personal family items that are impacting person’s work such as pregnancy, babies, family, gender etc. during a review. Just stick to results / skills and how they can get better.

      Also, avoid gendered language in the review. I had a friend from academic side of things send me a list of gendered language to avoid in reference letters, but I find it handy for evaluations too! Link:

      Good luck!

    7. LKW*

      Did you deliver anything of note during the year? New process, new technology?
      Did you manage your own work product? Oversee anyone else’s work?
      Did you coordinate work across teams?
      Implement anything new? Revise anything in place?
      Did you reduce cycle time of anything or improve quality of anything (e.g. reduced cycle time on average 2 days per cycle… approach reduced issues/incidents by 40% from x to y.)
      Did you do anything outside of your defined role (don’t highlight if doing that meant that you didn’t get your work done satisfactorily)?

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      My advice would be to remind yourself that this is not the time to be humble. No one is going to be a bigger cheerleader for you right now than yourself, so definitely don’t hold back. I struggle with writing self-evaluations because it feels weird to be essentially bragging about myself, but it’s important to just push past those feelings.

      This is advice for the future but I keep an accomplishments document that I update regularly. It makes it much easier to write an evaluation if I make a note of every accomplishment as it happens. Something that felt massive at the time might not be remembered six months later, so it’s much easier to just write it down in the moment (along with flagging associated emails of praise) to reference later.

    9. Anax*

      This won’t help for right now, but I keep a daily to-do list on paper, in a journal. That makes it easy to go back and see what my major projects were – anything that keeps coming up is probably worth listing.

      (It also makes me feel more organized during the day – I have depression, so figuring out where to start can be tricky. and I often feel like I’m not doing enough because my brain is a jerk – but the documentation is a handy side-effect.)

      For this year, if you can’t think of accomplishments… Can you look back through your email, papers, or ticketing system, and likewise, see what keeps coming up? For email, I would make sure to have “conversation view” on – then, you can look specifically at the really long email chains. Things that took a lot of communication are probably more likely to be things your manager cares about.

      Otherwise… I think these are intended to be written like a resume – sell yourself, contextualize your accomplishments with numbers where possible, and where possible focus on hard achievements (“saved company X dollars”, “rewrote Teapot Design manual”) over soft ones (“learned to use the Spout Attachment program” without further contextualization to show how this affected the company or markers of success).

      For this year, mine is going to look like…
      – Redesigned the Major Customer web tool, providing an updated schema, modern graphic design, and dynamic, user-friendly error messages. This redesign provides a template for future web tools with complex user interfaces, which expands the team’s ability to serve a growing client base.
      – Designed a new Employee Performance web tool. This process had been run manually for some time due to long lag times; the new tool functions correctly, provides a new administrative interface for team members to approve quarterly performance updates, and uses graphic design consistent with team style guidelines.
      – Developed and deployed changes to Spout Design calculations, due to legal changes which require spout length of at least 2.5″.
      – Composed feasibility and cost/benefit proposals for new software tools, including source control, web tools, and workflows, which will provide more consistent service, simultaneous development by multiple team members, and greater flexibility in user-facing reports.
      – Maintained legacy Microsoft Access tools after Circei’s retirement (7/31), providing continuity of service.
      – Gained proficiency with development, migration, and best practices in the Teapot Management system, including ad-hoc data and design changes, and assisting with the new cast-iron teapot design project for 2020.

      … and maybe a few other things when I flip through the last journal from this year. I’m not sure that’s perfect – this is also my first formal eval – but maybe it’ll give you a place to start.

    10. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      Future tip – I keep a separate folder in my inbox called “Kudos” to store all the warm fuzzies that people have sent to me throughout the year. It really helps when the big dreaded self-eval comes around (not only to pump myself up, but to jog my memory re: what was a challenge).

    11. CL*

      If this is a new position, think back to what your manager told you were the priorities for your job and address how well you’ve gotten up to speed on those things. Or highlight how quickly you’ve been able to get up to speed and how that compares with where your peers are.

      If it’s not new, look at your last review and see what points were highlighted for improvement. Address how well you’ve tackled those things. So if your manager said in your last review that they wanted you to learn how to do Cyrus’ job so you could back him up when he’s out, put that as one of your accomplishments: “Learned Cyrus’ duties and successfully filled in for him twice when he was on vacation, in addition to completing my regular duties.”

      Whether or not you’re new, list anything that was outside the scope of your regular duties – new projects you took on/were given, suggestions you made that were implemented, that extra thing you did for a client that made them rave about your company on social media, etc.

    12. Jef*

      Agree with all the “in the future” comments. But for right now, I would skim your calendar or completed tasks or similar ‘things that are done’ file and see if that gives you ideas. For me, being reminded of a series of meetings that were related to a big (but forgotten because it was a year ago) project reminds me of things I actually did. Also, review your job description: what did you do awesome on, what did you improve on, what did you streamline.

  16. Pink Glitter*

    I’m so frustrated today.

    When I was trained in this position a year and a half ago, it was all very rote and checklist based. Do this, do this, do this, etc. No real explanations of the whys or how our part in the process connects to the pieces that other departments do. There is still a lot I don’t understand and I hate when one of those things pops up for the first time and people talk to me like I’m some kind of dumbass for not knowing.

    It’s especially irritating when someone sends you a screenshot of something that you can’t see as ‘proof’ that you should have known something. We all have different views into things and I cannot see the notes that other departments put in the system.

    Sorry, just needed to vent.

    1. Phillip*

      I have something vaguely similar where folks will CC me in and out of an email thread only when something actually pertains to me (which I appreciate), then later I’ll ask a question and less tech-savvy participants will act like its a needless retread because they already discussed it (in one of the messages I wasn’t CCd on). Made worse by the fact I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I end up wasting time poring over old emails to try and figure out how I could’ve missed it.

    2. Marion Q*

      I feel you. This is how it went with my training as well, so I found out the whys the hard way and basically have to figure things out on my own.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I think you might work for the company I work for (or one much like it). I’m the person who is wondering why no one knows how to do their jobs and pointing out problems. I always feel so bad when I find out that the person I’m questioning got no training and doesn’t have access to the basic tools that they need to their jobs. If it feels better, I’m sorry that your company sucks and has set you up to fail, and for all of us whose job it is to point that out — most of us know that you are trying to do your best without any tools to do so.

    4. Alianora*

      Yeah, my coworker’s approach to things is very similar to that. When she trained me it was mostly “this is how we do it because our manager said so.” Now we have a new manager who is more into clearly understanding how and why things work, which is really good. I’m trying to be more proactive about asking the why questions and documenting things clearly, even though I’m not really considered “new” anymore. I hope my new manager understands that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They are putting you down when they are the ones who do not know you cannot see their notes? hmm. Interesting.
      Can you do a broadcast email letting everyone involved know that you cannot see their notes?

  17. Witchy Human*

    Depressing work anniversaries:
    My nonprofit office goes ridiculously nuts for work milestones. As in: pull you up in front of everyone at the all-staff meeting or holiday party, make you wear a silly hat, make you talk about what you’ve loved in your time in the org, hug the (viciously two-faced) CEO, sing a song.

    My 1-year anniversary is coming up. And I’ve been trying to leave for about…10 months of it. When the organization isn’t straight-up toxic, it’s just phony and annoying (see above). I’ve been a finalist for 4 or 5 jobs, but never quite made it. So the 1-year mark makes me want to cry.

    I’m usually pretty good at grin-and-bear-it for most of our nonsense, but I’m not sure I can manage a sincere-looking smile for this one. I’d lose some We’re a Family! Points it I skipped it and CEO might single me out in some way later anyway. Any advice?

    1. Goldfinch*

      Reframe it in your head. You survived an entire year! You are still looking, but you’ve reached a milestone that many people consider “safe” to avoid appearing to be a job hopper. Celebrate your mental strength.

      1. Quill*

        Take Marie Kondo’s advice and silently thank this job for teaching you that this is NOT the right place for you.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I would personally get a debilitating migraine and have to go home before the recognition event.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      If you cry or tear up, just say, “Stuff like this really gets to me!” Vague enough to cover your real feelings and to let others think “tears of joy”.

      1. Witchy Human*

        In the moment, I’m a little more worried about visibly gritting my teeth or physically cringing away from the CEO. I can manage to save my tears for hiding in the bathroom, but glares are harder to hold back.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Claim a cold? Visibly carry a kleenex and sniff a lot and say, oh, I wouldn’t want to get you sick?

        2. Hermione*

          Ugh, I’m sorry. If you can’t fake a migraine to go home, can you fake a mild cold? Slightly squinty eyes, a coughing fit, and a tissue clenched in your fist could prevent the hug and explain away odd faces if you time it right.

        3. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

          Well, I think the only logical solution is to fake your own death.

        4. Granger Chase*

          Ahh yes, I get what you mean. It’s taken a while for me to develop a poker face and I still struggle with calming my natural instincts to grimace or pull away when people that I don’t care for touch me. To combat the glaring I would say either focus your energy on blinking more frequently (that way it might look like you’re trying not to cry?) or a good ole daydream about your perfect RageQuit! fantasy might give you that glazed over look you can chalk up to sentimentality. Sorry! This sounds like a really frustrating situation and an irritating spectacle you’re being forced to go through.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I’d say the same, but it sounds like that office would make sure you were there to celebrate you and not go “oops, guess you missed it.”

    4. Dusty Bunny*

      It sounds obnoxious – come up here so we can spend 10 minutes at your expense, pretending we’re such an awesome workplace.
      I would try to exhibit a combination of “aw shucks guys, don’t make a fuss about me,” and “this is my festival queen on a parade float” wave. Done correctly, people should not notice your complete lack of enthusiasm/sincerity for the event, just that you’re playing along in a goofy manner.

    5. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      If you frame things as “don’t mind me, I’m not used to the spotlight” or “I’m a little shy about these things, but [very brief sentence thanking people],” folks will be likely to interpret any of your discomfort as stage discomfort and not please-get-me-out-of-here feelings. This is an introvert tactic that can actually work really well.

    6. bunniferous*

      May you get a great job offer right before and use the occasion to publically give your two week notice.

      (I would pay to see that.)

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Oh man that would be the best! While they’re making a big deal about Witchy Human’s one year anniversary, they just casually go “and it will be my last. See ya!” *drop mic*

    7. sheep jump death match*

      Professional advice: Reframe it in your head as one of your job duties. Approach it like any other assignment, plan what you will say, warm up your singing voice, come up with a dumb but anodyne quip for the silly hat portion. It was very helpful to me to change my thinking about this kind of forced social interaction to “How do I succeed at this work assignment?” rather than “How to endure this horrid thing?” Like, if it’s a social interaction that is supposed to be fun, I sort of get upset about having to be “fake” or “not having fun.” But if it’s just work, it doesn’t matter that I’m not having fun, my job that day is just to ACT like I’m having fun. And I’m not being “fake,” I’m being “professional.”

      Semi-professional advice: Be subtly shady the entire time. Hug the CEO with a foot of space between the two of you. Say you can’t believe it’s been a year, it feels soooo much longer than that! Make a bunch of comments about how some offices wouldn’t let you wear a silly hat, but luckily no one cares about that sort of thing here! When asked what you’ve loved, say your eyes have been opened to what a unique place it is or you never could have imagined what it was really like to work here. Single out everyone for thanks except the people who will be saltiest about not getting singled out for thanks.

      Not professional at all but satisfying to fantasize about: Tell your manager that work anniversaries aren’t mentioned in the Bible, so you can’t participate. (Don’t really do this! But it’s okay to daydream about.)

      1. M*

        I second all of this, including the hierarchy of professionalism. This workplace sounds a lot like an old workplace of mine, and I found the best way to get through the ridiculously needy and compliment-fishing way the senior management “congratulated” staff was to treat it like an improv skit. They’d be sitting there going “Oh M, aren’t you just so glad you came here? Isn’t this project we have you working on amazing?”, and I’d be thinking “Oooooh, this improv partner is *so* good at this! This is so fun to yes-and!”

  18. Jane*

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I work 50-60 hours per week in an industry which is notoriously demanding, aggressive and work hard/play hard. Despite this, I’m at a good company, love my job, and want to keep it.

    My question is…how? My company are being supportive, have reduced my working hours to 35 per week and said they will be reduced further if needed. They’re happy for me to work from home as much as I need, and are dramatically decreasing my work travel. Occupational health are involved. But there’s no getting away from it being a demanding and high pressure role, and everything I find about CFS suggests I’ll need to dramatically cut back my work hours or stop entirely. I’m also nervous of telling people because there’s such a stigma attached.

    Do you know of a way staying in a job like this can work out with chronic fatigue, or a similar illness? What would you advise I do to best navigate it? Are there any success stories out there?

    1. Jane*

      Possible other useful info:

      – I’ve been doing my best to stay upbeat, and most of my colleagues have no idea anything is wrong. I’ve been working from home a lot, but they mostly assume I’ve been travelling for work. But I’m no longer a regular at drinks and tend to be very quiet on the days I’m in the office because I’m struggling so much.

      – I have a great dr who has excluded everything under the sun in coming to this diagnosis. I have several other chronic health conditions, but everything that can be treated is being treated right now.

      – I already have a cleaner, buy batch cooked healthy meals, automate as much as I can…I read the thread a few weeks ago on working long hours and can’t think of anything else I can do to buy time or energy

    2. fposte*

      I’m posting a link from AskJAN specifically about chronic fatigue syndrome in followup, in case it offers any specific suggestions you haven’t considered.

      You say that people usually have to severely cut back hours–but your office has said absolutely, do that, so consider the possibility that that problem is solved. Have you started the 35-hour a week schedule yet? Try that for a couple of weeks to see how it works. Another thing to consider in the mix, if you’re eligible, is FMLA. Your workplace seems willing to give you the equivalent of intermittent FMLA in weekly hours, but maybe it would help to take a week or two off, or be able to do so now and then.

      But some of this may just be you dealing psychologically with the difference between the worker that you want to be and the worker that you currently are. And that’s a difference that sucks, but it sounds like your company has unequivocally said that they want to keep you as the worker you are, so I’d build on that.

      1. Jane*

        Thank you so much for this! Your comment about dealing psychologically with it is spot on…I’m definitely struggling with accepting that this is my reality for now, and that I’m not able to be the worker I want to be.

        I’ve only just started the shorter weeks, and it seems to be helping (though the biggest problem is keeping myself to the hours and not going over. I’ve probably done 38 hours this week, but I’m getting there). The aim next week is to stick to 35!

        Thanks also for pointing out that my company want to keep me – I’ve been both grateful they’re supportive and worried about what it means for my long term position, and that’s really a helpful way of framing their reaction.

        1. valentine*

          If what you want is more time and energy to work more, that defeats the purpose of the reduced schedule. I need a car to get to where a lot of people can walk and trying to conserve energy or reduce pain so I can walk instead would leave me depleted for whatever we’re doing at the destination. If you push to work, you’re taking from rest or play, which may sound good now,but isn’t sustainable. Think of your 35 (and, in future, 25, 20, etc.) as other people’s 40-90(!). I understand if you’re hesitant to take your employer at their word because it sounds like fan fiction, but do try it, for a good, solid amount of time, and see how you feel. Pace yourself. Your employer has gone all-in on you. Now, it’s your turn. You didn’t get here in a week and it should take longer for your to get to your new SOP. Give it at least six months at 35. I think the idea is you’re unlikely to be able to get back to 40, and the goal should be for you to have a good balance, not to stay at max work hours for as long as possible. So feeling good at 35 doesn’t mean you should go for 36+. If you enjoy working, great, but if there’s guilt or shame mixed in, that’s the next thing to tackle.

    3. Anax*

      No good advice, but I’ve also been recently diagnosed with something similar, and… solidarity. It’s hard; I’m doing a little better now but still struggling with feelings of self-worth when I’m not able to do everything I want to. I definitely was just staring at my email inbox, mentally chanting “tired tired tired tired”.

      I’m glad your company is being so supportive; that’s wonderful.

      1. Jane*

        I’m only just realising how much of my self worth is wrapped up in work and being busy, deliberately stepping back from things and knowing it might be long term is surprisingly hard.

        The inbox chanting is definitely something I’ve done too. I hope things get better for you :)

    4. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      That’s tough, OP, and I’m really glad your job is doing everything they can to accommodate you! How are the 35/hr weeks going? Combined with WFH, maybe this will make a difference, especially because you were working such overtime before. It sounds like you’re doing everything you can, but I wonder if – if needed – you could serve in a consultative function as opposed to being a full-time employee. Might allow you to take on projects seasonally and build in rest time in between? This is totally dependent on the nature of your work, though, so not sure if that’s a viable option. It sounds like your employer is willing to get flexible, so the only other thing I’ll note is that going down to a 4-day or 3-day week is another alternative. My BFF has Lyme /PCOS and these built-in “days off” mean she has time to recharge so she can actually use her weekends doing what she needs and wants to do.

      1. Jane*

        I’ve only just started the 35/hour weeks, and so far they’re an exercise in sticking to the hours and not letting myself go over (surprisingly difficult, more due to me wanting to get things done than external forces) and wondering what on Earth people do with their evenings… I’m so used to working late, feeding myself, and going straight to bed that having a couple of hours to relax and read or whatever is pretty alien.

        I’ve been thinking about going down to a 4 day week as a possibility. I’m struggling so much by the end of the week, a break midweek to recover seems sensible. If the reduced hours don’t work I think it’s the next thing to ask for – great to know that it’s so helpful for your friend!

    5. Pamplemeow*

      I’d love to hear about how you & others got to the point of being diagnosed with CFS…perhaps tomorrow’s open thread is a better place to do so. I’m tired literally all the time, no matter how much sleep I get or what physical activity I’ve done. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember (I am a 25yo female). But whenever I go to the doctor all they do is blood work (my levels are always normal) and then tell me I need to eat better and exercise (I already eat pretty healthy and do moderate exercise). It’s like, what can I say to my doctor for them to realize that this is a serious problem and not just me being lazy??

      1. Jane*

        Ugh, my sympathies. I’ve had so many doctors visits like that. For me, there have been a handful of doctors in my life who have actually listened and investigated further – for the rest, it felt like because I could work and looked healthy on the outside they just dismissed everything as anxiety related. I’m mid-30s and have seen a definite uptick in drs taking me seriously now I’m older, which is no help for you right now.

        One thing I have found helpful is to be very specific about how the tiredness impacts you and what you need to do to manage it. E.g. if you push yourself too hard at the gym you have 3 days where brushing your teeth and feeding yourself is all you can manage, and showering or leaving the house is out of the question. I have also in the past researched things myself and asked for specific tests to be run. Happy to discuss further on the open thread tomorrow!

      2. Jennifleurs*

        For me (aged about the same I think) the thing that seemed to worry the doctors was me saying that I couldn’t drive for longer than an hour without falling asleep at the wheel. I agree with the other reply, concrete examples are good. Also after my bloods came back fine, I specifically asked to be referred to a sleep centre for investigation.

    6. Argh!*

      I wouldn’t borrow trouble at this point. Take things as they come. If you are -J on the Myers-Briggs J vs. P dichotomy, this means being more “P” about things. Even if you have a “typical” set of symptoms now, there may be new drugs in the future or your case may not be as typical as it seems now. Everyone is individual.

  19. Half-Caf Latte*

    Yesterday’s update about Tom hit me hard.

    I work with a Tom. My Tom is wonderful to work with, professional and competent and polite, and has been angling for a raise/title change for a year.

    My org has been totally crappy about it, although I’m not clear how much is our boss and how much is our org.

    Tom’s definitely looking to leave, and we won’t get to keep them, and I doubt replace them with someone as good. It sucks.

    1. Word from the Wise*

      That’s how it goes. Happens all the time when one isn’t recognized and rewarded and leaves.
      Often the best way to get a big raise!

    2. FormerFirstTimer*

      I work with a Tom! They are my boss and I already know that they are looking to leave. And while I absolutely understand why they are leaving (the CEO is extremely verbally abusive to them and the whole situation reminds me of a domestic situation that hasn’t quite blown all the way up yet), my boss is literally the best boss I have ever had and it will devastate the entire company when they leave.

    3. Aurion*

      I had an external contact (a sales rep, I’m in procurement) who was a Tom. He rightly left his organization, and in my goodbye email to him I told him that of my vendor reps, he was the best one by miles, and that while I was sorry to lose him, I envy his future clients.

      That was like two years ago. He’s still the best I’ve ever met. Superstars have options.

  20. twbb*

    Anyone work in the for profit/business field as a licensed social worker? If so, any advice on job searching such as keywords, titles, etc.?

    1. Insurance Worker*

      Yep! If you’re looking for insurance: Utilization Reviewer; Case Manager. Go to the insurance carriers in your area and look through their jobs or search LCSW or whatever your credentials are is another way to try that.

  21. Alternative Person*

    My boss was upset about something today (I’m not entirely sure what) and decided to deal with it by being peevish. I thought the whole conversation was odd, and brought it up to someone at one of the satellite branches who started complaining about company culture, so I guess something is up.

    The weather is bringing me a long weekend though. I’m going to be stuck in, but better with video games than my petty boss.

  22. The Green Lawintern*

    My supervisor told me I needed to take PTO for the bar admission ceremony, which is two and a half hours of my day including travel. She regularly takes 1 hour+ appointments completely unrelated to work, no PTO whatsoever.

    I’m salty, y’all.

    1. Llamas@law*

      That’s bs. Assuming that this is a job in the legal field, being admitted is a job requirement. This is petty and dumb of her.

      1. The Green Lawintern*

        It’s technically not a hard requirement for the position, but pretty much everyone in the office is an attorney, and we specifically look for law school grads/attorneys when we hire. I’m honestly mostly peeved about the hypocrisy of it though.

    2. Amber Rose*

      That is a good reason to be very salty. Not enough popcorn in the world for that salt. People just mummified in a 10 mile radius around from all the salt.

      Congrats on your bar admission though, that is a most awesome accomplishment.

        1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

          Congratulations! And yes, your manager is an ass. You should not have to take PTO for couple hours out of the day.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Do you want to go all the way to the ceremony? Is it that big a deal to you? We had our associate sworn in by a local judge and handed him a file for an afternoon hearing.

      1. The Green Lawintern*

        I would actually be more than happy to have a low-key ceremony like your associate’s, but from all the communications I’ve received it seems like alternative arrangements are only a possibility in extreme cases, like impending military deployment. And even if I did it that way, I’d still be salty!

        1. Auntie Social*

          Well my boss is a pretty big dog, so he called the courthouse and asked presiding, and she called San Fran (I think) and explained about many Latina grandmas and aunts who really couldn’t make the trip. (They did attend the swearing in in San Diego and I haven’t seen so many wheelchairs outside of a hospital. One of the bailiffs thought someone was dying!) It was quite touching. And we had a little cake, and photos with each abuela, and then we left Mike his afternoon file (it was just for a continuance). But maybe they dont let you do that anymore.

        2. Coverage Associate*

          Yes, in California anyone who can administer an oath in court can swear in an attorney. It’s just you have to make those arrangements yourself if you’re skipping the big ceremonies. I was sworn in at my office by a court reporter after hours.

          I don’t know about other states.

          I now realize you can’t be in California because our bar results aren’t out yet.

    4. Dzhymm*

      Take the whole day as PTO, attend the ceremony, then spend the rest of the day sending out job applications…

    5. Managing to get by*

      If it is not required for your position, and if you are hourly/non-exempt and she is salaried/exempt this makes complete sense.

      In my job, I’d be in trouble for letting a non-exempt employee stay on the clock for 2.5 hours if it was non-work related.

    6. KAG*

      This reminds me of the poor woman whose boss wouldn’t let her attend her college graduation because she couldn’t find anyone to cover her shift. Lots of jobs (especially the retail hell it sounds like she was stuck in) don’t “require” a college degree, but college graduation is a Big accomplishment.

      I use this example to illustrate that degrees, even if not directly related to the job (I.e. the OP is at one of those bar exam or out firms), educate one in so many skills transferable to many, many professions (communication, disciplined thinking, the expertise that allows them to identify that something seems a little hincky, even if it’s not an area of expertise… I could go on).

      And from a human perspective, passing the bar is a LOT OF WORK and a major, major accomplishment. Of course employers are perfectly free to be unreasonable and inconsiderate, and naturally, I don’t know all the facts, but I would anticipate a bunch of your colleagues coming to cheer you on! Not sure when your ceremony is, but you have one fan out here in the USA.

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      That sucks! Way to nickel-and-dime your employees, The Green Lawintern’s manager!

  23. Laura H.*

    How long should one wait before reapplying to a job you didn’t get?

    The position is Part time front desk at a gym and I think I applied in Jan/Feb of 2019. Have worked a seasonal jewelry sales gig (Next season is Christmas- so I do have that in the wings) and at a snack shop since (still on their payroll, but doesn’t see enough traffic to give me hours- I’m appreciative of the honesty)

    I need to get a job for my sanity more than anything else right now. I’m on the fence about applying again.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I’d reapply. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean you weren’t qualified; it just meant that someone else was more qualified.

      A lot of places are having a hard time finding workers, so I think you still have a chance. And if they remember you, it’s okay that you are still interested in working for them even after not getting a previous position.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      If you submitted an application and were not contacted about the job, I would apply again. But if they brought you in or spoke to you on the phone about it, I wouldn’t re-apply unless something has significantly changed that you think would make them consider you this time over the last time.

      1. International Holding, Unlimited*

        Disagree. If the company regularly hires in classes or multiple roles at a time, then this is accurate – they probably would have taken you if they were interested at all. My old job did that, and there were people who applied over and over. After the second time, we’d stop bringing them in for an interview, because we were rarely hurting for space in our classes.

        If the company only hires one at a time, it’s quite possible that there were several qualified candidates and only the most qualified made it. Allison talks about this constantly when people are hurt over rejections. In that case, it absolutely make sense to reapply.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      If they didn’t want you the first time, why would they want you a second time?

      I say this because I applied for a job a second time this year (after a 4 year gap) and they still didn’t want me, so what was the point.

      I get needing a job for your sanity, but….well, what can you do?

      1. LunaLena*

        I don’t think it hurts to reapply. Just because they didn’t pick you the first time doesn’t mean they didn’t like you, just that they didn’t like you the most. I once got a job where it went to someone else the first time (the person it went to was related to someone in the organization, so that someone lobbied hard for their relative), and then that person didn’t work out so they asked me if I was still interested. That job turned into a 10-year working relationship that was partially responsible for getting me into my Current Awesome Job.

        At my current job I’ve interviewed the same lady at least 3-4 times for different (but similar) positions. I feel really bad for her because she makes it to the finalist stage each time, but gets beaten out by someone with slightly better qualifications each time. It’s not that we didn’t want her, she was clearly qualified and we would have been happy to hire her if she hadn’t been edged out every time. Sometimes the Always a Bridesmaid, Never the Bride situation happens.

        Besides, if you do reapply, what’s the worst that happens? They don’t hire you? It’s not like they’re going to show up on your doorstep to taunt you.

        1. LunaLena*

          And if they do show up, you can always ~RAAAAAAAAGE~ at them in your best demonic death metal voice. (<3 that show, by the way)

  24. Chris in NY*

    Today is the last day in my role at my company; Monday I start a new role that will require a move to another state.

    I’m dreading this new job before I even start. Moving from hourly to salary, so I’m taking a 20% paycut. Moving to a more expensive area of the country (don’t worry HR has their “research” to show that it’s cheaper!). Working for a boss that during the hiring process has been inattentive at worst, and only giving advice on things AFTER I’ve already done them. Plus, this manager is known in the company as not great (a previous mentor who I loved working for described my new boss as “a dope” when we were discussing the new position).

    The universe is screaming at me to not take this job, but unfortunately my current role is ending due to customer contracts dwindling, so I take this or end up with no job by the end of year. I’m very excited about all of this.

    1. Word from the Wise*

      Good luck! Maybe you can come in and shine and be recognized for your skills and teamwork. If not, move on.

    2. Havarti*

      Maybe moving to another state with a higher COL, taking a 20% pay cut, and working for a useless boss are no big deal for some people but those are massive red flags to me. I understand needing a job but you do have some free will here. Are you job hunting? Because if you’re not, you should be. Ideally you should’ve gotten out before needing to relocate. If you did try and it didn’t work out, keep trying. Maybe check some numbers on whether it’s really worth it to move. Could you actually afford to pay rent and eat in the new city? Would you stay there or move back if you looked for a new job? Do you have enough savings to escape now? Good luck!

      1. Chris in NY*

        Thanks, I’ve been getting red flags all over the place and acknowledging they are red flags, but moving forward anyway. Let me say that if I was not already an employee of this company, I would not be taking this job.

        I have been looking for other roles, but unfortunately my industry in this region is drying up, so what is left is already pretty tight. I will be able to afford to live, and my wife’s business is picking up, so hopefully things will be alright. I’ve been applying cross industry but started too late, and already signed the offer letter for my new role.

        Not trying to say “the universe is mean to me!”, because honestly I am lucky to be doing what I do, just having extreme pre-regret about the situation.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ugh, yes, as a freelancer I’ve had to take several jobs I pregretted at the time. I hope yours turns out to be ok, and if the new managers rep proves to be accurate, that you can move out from under them as soon as possible.

    3. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

      Oh man, this is a terrible position to be in – I sympathize. But maybe it won’t be as bad as you think it will. Have you looked into job opportunities in the new city? I would keep my eyes open if I were you once I moved in case this place does end up living up to your low expectations. Then at least you’ll have an idea about the job market and can get a jump on applying for something else.

      1. Chris in NY*

        I plan on subscribing to the local business journal and attending the (major Midwest university) business school and get my MBA while there. (No cost due to GI Bill.) Hopefully if things are still bad in 2 years, I will have a better handle to transfer companies.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yay for the GI Bill! My SO is attending grad school right now on his and we are so grateful for those benefits – full tuition + COL. (His choice of schools was limited to get max benefits, but he was still able to find a school he loves.) Definitely take advantage of free education.

    4. Eleanor Rigby's Jar*

      Maybe this is an opportunity for you to try a new work style. My work style from when I started my job (over 10 years ago) is not the same as my current work style. I look back and wish I had been more quietly confident and authoritative. My skills really haven’t changed that much over the years, but my attitude has. A recent reassignment of responsibilities from another dept. saw me calmly pushing back and refusing some of the responsibilities (there was not way to do all successfully, and it was just assumed they could push the work to our dept. without discussing it with us first) – whereas if that request had been made when I started I would have been in an anxious panic for days, scrambled to try to make it work and felt guilty regarding my performance.

      Maybe you were previously a Leslie, and now is a good time to try being a Ron.

      1. Chris in NY*

        I’m moving from a lead teapot repairer to a teapot marketer, so while learning the new role, I am just going to try and remain open and push negative thoughts out of my head and learn as much as I can. Once I have a handle on things, I plan on pushing back against issues I already see (like an 8PM meeting every other Friday that I just learned about).

        1. Blue Plate Special*

          I’ve found it helpful to remember when working at a less-than-ideal job/for a less-than-ideal boss/work culture — that ultimately, I work for CompanyME. I work for me, and I’m contracting my time out to company. So if boss/coworkers/job are creating stress/obstacles/no positive feedback, I remind myself that companyMe really appreciates the way I’m addressing this difficult assignment, and that I’m doing great just showing up and staying the course, and that we are doing everything possible to get a new contract if the current one is horrible.

    5. Mama Bear*

      So you’re staying with the company, just relocating? When I had to double my commute to keep a job (same company, new office) I pretty much immediately started looking for a different job. If this isn’t a move you want to make but you can’t afford not to go, I’d make the move as minimalist as possible and keep looking for another job.

      1. Chris in NY*

        Correct. Pretty much my plan at this point. Required to remain employed for 2 years or pay back a bonus. I would probably stay in the new area, as I have no family where I currently am. Thanks.

        1. ..Kat..*

          You may want to consult with an employment lawyer. Do you really have to pay back a bonus if your job is going away and all the employer is offering is a different type of job with a 20% pay cut that you have to move for?

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            Seconding a chat with a lawyer – I have no law background but I’m curious if the contract would stand since they are essentially putting you in a different job!

          2. Chris in NY*

            Sorry, the bonus is for taking the new job. If I leave within a year of my transfer, I have to pay back the moving package. If I leave within two years, I have to pay back the bonus.

  25. LilacLily*

    Are people with ADHD considered disabled?

    A bit of background: today at work we had a really great talk with a guy who’s the head of the diversity group in his company, and when he was listing the types of disabilities that the employees who participate in his group have, he briefly mentioned people with autism, and it got me thinking. I was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago; it’s not severe, but it’s definitely there if you look for it (a coworker gave me a heads up when I was nineteen, and it still took me a few years to get professionally diagnosed because ~denial~). I know that it affects some aspects of how I work and process things – for instance, loud noises bother me greatly, I have to change the way I’m sitting every few minutes because I find it very hard to stay still for even short periods of time (I have a fidget cube that I use at work), tasks with no set deadlines stress me out because I am VERY prone to getting distracted and/or procrastinating, I work better when I have two monitors that allow me to multitask, studying topics that I find difficult or uninteresting by myself is incredibly difficult because it’s almost impossible for me to keep focused, and so on.

    I’ve been job searching for a whole, and sometimes companies will ask if I have some sort of disability, and now I’m wondering… do I? Is ADHD considered a disability, even if most of the time I can easily pass as a neurotypical person? Should I tick the “yes” box in forms that ask if I have a disability or is it for the best that I don’t disclose this information at all?

    1. Allypopx*

      It can be covered by the ADA, and there are accommodations for it on the JAN network, so for all intents and purposes, yes.

      That does NOT mean you have to check the disability box. Even if you plan to ask for accommodations. It is 100% up to you if that’s something you disclose and many, many people would not be comfortable doing so until they have an offer or have been at the company for awhile, if ever. It’s entirely your choice.

      1. Allypopx*

        (Sorry to all who will inevitably cringe at “JAN network”. I am too, would edit if I could. On my way to get money out of the ATM machine…)

          1. Allypopx*

            Job Accommodation Network! It’s really helpful if you’re asking for accommodations because it gives you a list of things people tend to find useful, so you get an idea of what to ask for, and you can show them to your employer as normal requests.

            Google “Job Accommodation Network” it’s the first result. It came up on the asking for accommodations thread the other day and I’m in love.

            1. LilacLily*

              Oh. My. God. I love this website so much! It’s super useful! Thank you so much for sharing! :D

              I’m not from the US but the JAN website is incredible, I’m saving it for the future!

            2. Third or Nothing!*

              Oh man that site is neat! Too bad they don’t have anything on PCOS. I did see a section on chronic pain that listed telework as a reasonable accommodation, but I’m not sure I can claim I have a disability when I’m usually able to function so that very few people know I even have a hormone disorder. I mean, my coworkers see me refuse dairy and sugar and take a sick day every 5 weeks but I doubt they’ve pieced it together.

              1. Allypopx*

                “I have a chronic pain condition that flares up semi-frequently” would be perfectly reasonable, in my opinion.

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  I have called it simply a chronic issue that flared up again when asking my boss to take a sick day, and he never has any objections. The option to work from home would be so much nicer than burning through all my sick leave, though. I wonder if I should try being more explicit? When I ask if I can WFH because I don’t feel well, he tells me to take a sick day instead.

                2. Allypopx*

                  Yeah I would probably tell him that you’re burning through a lot of your sick leave due to the chronic nature of your condition and you’d love to find an occasional telework setup that would work for both of you so that you have some left if you actually need it. You can say you’re asking for it as an ADA accommodation if you want but I’d look into whether or not your company has a process/requires documentation about that and what that would look like.

    2. AJK*

      You don’t have to tick “yes.” It’s up to you. For years I didn’t, but after my ADHD and anxiety became a factor in my losing two jobs in a row, I started ticking the box on applications. I did when I applied for this job, and I’ve been here for almost four years now. No one has mentioned it at all. I haven’t needed any accommodations here because of the structure of my job, and I err on the side of not disclosing unless there’s a reason, because of bad past experiences. I assume my supervisor could see the fact that I said “yes” on the application and ask me about it, but she hasn’t.
      A co-worker of mine where I am now handles disability issues as part of her job and she says part of defining “disability” under the ADA is how substantially your condition limits you or affects you in life activities – if your condition interferes with your being able to keep a job, or pay your bills, or things like that, then it could rise to the level of a disability. ADHD affects different people differently, so whether or not it is a disability has to be determined on a case by case basis, and how disabled any one individual is also has to be considered on a case by case basis. Some people with ADHD are so disabled by it that they can’t work at all, some just need an accommodation or two, and some don’t need anything at all other than to learn a few techniques for better organization, etc. dependent on their specific job.
      Also, as an aside, I am medicated for my ADHD and without meds I’d be significantly less able to perform my job than I am – a mixup at the pharmacy resulting in a few days without meds showed me exactly how bad it would be if I tried to go without them.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Whether a condition is a disability is less about the name of the condition, and more about your level of impairment.

      If you need an accommodation from your employer, feel free to ask for it – you’re perfectly entitled to. But personally, I wouldn’t go around checking a box like that unless you’re going to need an accommodation during the hiring process itself.

    4. Koala dreams*

      ADHD is generally considered a disability, yes. It’s up to you if you consider yourself disabled or not. I have no idea what those check boxes are for, though.

      1. Allypopx*

        Usually for diversity statistics of some kind, in theory. But there’s definitely an argument to be made that they can lead to conscious or unconscious bias.

        1. LilacLily*

          As LadyGrey mentioned below, I’ve been applying for jobs in the UK, and apparently this is meant so that people with disabilities are guaranteed a first interview at least, which I find very interesting. I do agree that unconscious bias could play a big role in this, though, especially if the hiring manager normally wouldn’t interview me but feels like he must now that I ticked the disability box.

    5. Stornry*

      Sorry but I thought that employers couldn’t ask “do you have a disability?” Prior to or at the time of the interview they can state the essential functions of the job and ask if you can “perform those functions with or without accommodation”. And then, after an offer is made and accepted, then you get to what those accommodations might be. It seems to me that the kinds of accommodations you’d be asking for are quite reasonable.

    6. LadyGrey*

      If you’re UK based, the check boxes are part of a disability confident scheme, where an applicant who ticks that box and fits the basic requirements of the role is guaranteed an interview (not a job!). It’s to get people past that first hump, especially if it’s something that may affect your ability to write an application as impressive /comprehensive as others. Eg, if ADHD makes you prone to skipping important context in writing, where in an interview they’d ask for more information.

      1. LilacLily*

        Ohhh dang I didn’t know that! I am applying for jobs in the UK, and this information is really interesting. Maybe I’ll start checking these boxes from now on. Thank you so much!

  26. Llamas@law*

    I am a lawyer and my law firm is going through some major issues. I have been here almost my entire career. This year I really hit my stride and am doing really well growing my book of business (I am a non-equity partner). However, the leadership of our firm has gone down hill. Many of my colleagues are concerned about decisions being made that help certain older partners (nearing retirement) to the detriment of the longevity of the firm. We are concerned about the lack of strategic planning and looking to the future of the firm. How can we bring this up appropriately? We like our firm and many of the people here but we are very worried and people are looking for other opportunities.

    1. Sometimes Always Never*

      I don’t think this is unusual, to take care of the more senior partners at the expense of the less senior attorneys and the health of the firm. It makes some sense; those nearing retirement are hoping to make their nest egg as big as possible and feel they’ve put in their time, not to mention having created jobs and training for others for period of time. Meanwhile, the younger attorneys may still need training/managing/mentoring and they have a big interest in what has so far been a successful professional training ground where they hope to eventually become senior themselves. It really depends on the equity partners to decide how this will all go, really. If they care about their legacy, they may be open to financial and successorship planning. If not, they may just want to get out with as much as they can. You are smart to have your own book of business that you can take elsewhere. It would make sense to at least see what you’re worth on the open market. The book of business makes you much more desirable, as hopefully at least some of your business can provide work for others. After a certain point, in certain areas of law, if you don’t have any portable business that provides work for yourself and others, you would only be seen as an expensive associate and rarely partner material, and thus less employable. Depending on several factors, though, YMMV, of course. As a non-equity partner, I would hope you could start a discussion about the future and get a better idea where things are heading. Maybe first start a discussion with any other non-equity partners and go from there.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      I would have a serious conversation with the equity partner I’m closest to. I would try to explain how these decisions hurt the equity partners. For example, if high performing income partners and associates are thinking of leaving because of management issues with straight forward fixes, well, no one wants to see high performers leave.

      1. Delta Delta*

        This exactly. It’s terrifying (I know, I did it), but you can do it (I know, I did it). Then you can go make your own firm where you do what you want to do and you can do it how you want or need to do it. It’s lovely, really.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Consider taking some number of your colleagues and splitting. The biggest leverage you have is something like, “I don’t like what you’re doing because there may be nothing left when — I mean, if I become an equity partner. If I leave you sure will be sad to see me go!” Unless you are some outrageous rainmaker for the firm, the old guard won’t stop looking out for their own Number One. Maybe think really hard about looking out for your own Number One and jumping ship before they sink it.

      (I am done with people who are at or past retirement age right now. This failure to figure out succession planning and pass the torch to Gen X and following has burned me across my entire career.)

      1. Annonnymooses*

        It’s a little hard to do succession planning when folks in their 70s are chortling about how they’ll probably “die right in this office, right here!”

        But remember, Gen X? We’re the Slackers. /eyeroll/

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House\*

        Why should people have to retire when they don’t need to? If they are competent, why should they retire for you? Are you willing to retire/quit for someone else? I’m Gen X and we’ve been screwed by both Boomers and Millennials but hey, it’s not up to us to force people to retire.

        1. Lana Kane*

          It’s not out forcing anyone to retire. It’s about people who *could* retire, but choose to hang on to to those positions that everyone else is supposed to grow into. It creates a logjam in the organization, and of course people are going to leave. Hanging on to that cushy salary and the prestige of the job is nice for them, but not great for the organization or anyone else.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I didn’t say that have to retire. I said I’m sick of seeing firm after firm, or non-profit after non-profit, failing to put succession planning in place. They’re not training the next generation to take on leadership; they’re not planning fiscally for how to handle the business that the equity partners bring in or how to handle those relationships going forward; and they’re opaque about the financial state of the organization. Then surprise (or, of course, not-so-surprise), all the old-heads are gone one day through disability or passing away, and the organization is left adrift.

          When the next generation isn’t brought on in a timely manner to be equity partners, that’s a symptom of a failure of succession planning, with the very real effect on the younger group’s income as well.

  27. Manders*

    Does anyone have suggestions for dealing with work/life balance when the problem’s not work, it’s the commute? A couple years ago, I moved from a place where I could walk to work to one where I’m stuck on a sometimes unpredictable bus line. Between waiting for the bus, riding the bus, and my hour-long lunch break, I’m spending about 3 hours of my day not working but also just sort of… existing while not being able to do anything interesting because of work. I’ve also got a time-consuming hobby that requires me to spend a lot of time sitting still after work too.

    Being so sedentary all day’s been difficult, and I’m struggling with stuff like keeping the house stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables when I only buy groceries every few weeks in one huge run. There’s no gym in my office building, so exercising at lunch isn’t an option. I did get permission to work from home one day per week, and it’s helping a bit but making me wish I could do it more. I set up a standing desk with a treadmill at home so I can walk while I work or do my hobby, which is helping a bit but isn’t a substitute for the active lifestyle I used to have.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for staying healthy and dealing with life when *so much* of your day’s structured around working? I don’t even have long hours, it’s the Seattle commute that’s killing me.

    1. Rose's angel*

      Ive gained weight as a result of my commute which is about 1.5 hours each way. Ive started getting up early and walking my dog a little longer in the morning and at lunch ill try to walk around the block. Often instead of emailing someone I will go see if they are in their office first just so I can get up and walk.

    2. Bird Person*

      When I had the hour long commute I was driving, so a little different, but there were two things that helped me keep my sanity. One was audiobooks and podcasts, both fiction and “educational.” Listening to stories or lectures helped me feel like I was actually using that time, rather than existing for it.
      I also found a yoga studio that was on my way home – like I drove past it on my way home. I did classes 3 nights a week. Since it was on they way, I didn’t really feel like I was losing any evening time (I was still getting home “late,” and at a certain point it stopped mattering), but I felt relaxed, accomplished, and ready to tackle things at home afterward!

      1. Bird Person*

        I don’t really have suggestions about being so sedentary during the day, but it sounds like you’re working on some good ideas already! Good luck! And sorry, I know how rough that kind of commute time can be.

      2. Manders*

        I’ve been thinking of switching to driving–it wouldn’t save a huge amount of time, but it would shave off a bit of the waiting for the bus/waiting while the bus goes on a long, looping route time. I do feel weird about it because the city already has too many people driving and I’d like to keep my carbon footprint low, but ugh, it would be so nice to do stuff like keep gym clothes in the car for an evening class or swing by the grocery store on my commute. Right now I’m tethered to the bus and the bus is, frankly, a pretty miserable place to spend so much of my life.

        1. Bird Person*

          I’m so sorry! What if you drove 1-2 days a week to do those things and rode the bus on other days? That may help to – changing things up a bit.
          I admire you choosing to ride the bus by the way! My commute went through 2 counties so I wasn’t able to, but I wish I could have!

        2. MicrobioChic*

          Your commute doesn’t need to be all bus or all car.

          Maybe drive two days and bus two days?

          One drive day you can hit the gym, the other one the grocery store.

          I have an hour and a half commute each way (bus isn’t an option alas) and fiction podcasts help me keep my sanity.

          I actually wish there was a workable bus option for mine, because that would let me work or read while commuting. I have a job that is a mix of physical activity and sitting down though, so the sedentary part doesn’t get to me as much.

          1. Manders*

            I get a transit reimbursement for either a bus pass or a parking spot, but not both, so I do have to choose one or the other. I guess I could try switching between driving one month and busing another month, but I can’t switch it up day by day.

            1. MicrobioChic*

              Oh, gotcha.

              I’m not used to getting reimbursed for commute related expenses at all, so that issue with switching days hadn’t crossed my mind at all.

        3. Windchime*

          I also do the Seattle commute and I switched to driving about a year ago. I live about 30 miles north of the city and I have to leave the house at 5:15 in the morning so my commute is only 45 minutes or so each way instead of the 90 minutes each way that the bus or train would take. I also work from home 2 days a week; i used to only get one WFH day and it’s crazy what a difference that additional day makes.

          Those are my only suggestions. I wish there was a better option but the bus and train from my town are PACKED. People are lucky to get a seat and I don’t want to stand for over an hour each way.

    3. WellRed*

      Would ordering groceries for delivery, or to have them ready for pick up, help with that piece of it? Can you walk at lunch?

      1. Manders*

        I’ve been having issues with deliveries in my building–some carriers won’t deliver without a signature because there’s a huge package theft problem. My building doesn’t have a doorman or a locking mail area. I’ll look into services that let you pick up groceries, that could help.

        I walk at lunch when the weather’s nice, but it’s Seattle, so there’s a huge chunk of the year when the weather’s not nice.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          Could you do stairs in your building? I did that sometimes in the winter when I was doing very long commutes.

          1. Diahann Carroll (formerly Fortitude Jones)*

            Seconding the stairs. My coworkers at my last job used to do this, plus walking laps around the floor, and this seemed to help.

        2. WellRed*

          I don’t know how your office or building is laid out, but I have literally popped on headphones and done laps.

        3. Ra94*

          Could you get deliveries at work? Not practical for heavy shopping, but if you got a few pieces of fruit and veg to bring home, it could help.

    4. Margaret*

      Do you bike? Any way to change part or all of the commute to biking? If you’re already spending a lot of time waiting for the bus, it might not take much or if any more time, and would let you be active for that time.

        1. LizB*

          Yeah, my suggestion was going to be, if the bus line allows you could walk the same distance you used to walk to/from work to the bus stop before you get on. Then at least you’re getting the same amount of exercise.

      1. Manders*

        I’d love to bike, but I’m an inexperienced biker and I’m having a hard time finding a safe route. Do you know of any good resources for mapping out bike routes? Google keeps trying to send me down roads that seem really unsafe. The bike infrastructure in Seattle’s generally okay but my neighborhood is known for being not great–we’re still fighting for basic pedestrian stuff like sidewalks and safe crosswalks.

        1. Margaret*

          On google, are you using it to generate directions and selecting bike as the mode, or using it to show the “Bicycling” layer (the one that’s in the menu that also can select showing traffic?). I don’t often use the former – I might show it once to get a general sense of a route. But that mode definitely takes me on roads that I don’t consider safe for biking.

          I then I switch it to just show the map and the bicycle infrastructure layer (e.g., that shows bike lanes, bike-friendly, etc.), and along with my knowledge of neighborhoods (there are roads that seems to be too small to even be categorized as “bike friendly”, but seriously there’s no traffic on them, they’re fine for biking), I just map out my own route. This probably isn’t the most efficient, I’m sure there are some apps that do better, but the more I bike for transportation the more I have a general sense of how to go for different directions/destinations.

          I’m in Portland, and spend some time on r/cyclePDX on reddit, looks like there’s also a r/seattlebike, so you might be able to get guidance or tips on there.

          1. Manders*

            I’m doing the first thing, I didn’t realize there was a separate layer for bike infrastructure. Thank you! I’ll play around with that and see if I can find a good route. I *know* there’s a bike trail that goes near my office but I can’t get Google Maps to recognize it as a bike route/give me directions for a safe route from my house to the trail.

        2. Sutemi*

          Can you look on Strava for a biking heatmap for your area? It will show the roads and paths that cyclists or runners use in your community.

        3. Ranon*

          You can also reach out to your local bicycle advocacy group and see if they have tips, classes, and/ or group rides that would help you get more comfortable. I took a cycling course with a local group before I really started biking in my city and it made a huge difference in my comfort level, especially when it came to biking with traffic.

          Our city is less of a cycling city than Seattle and has a city specific cycling subreddit with folks that will help with routes, if you’re comfortable with Reddit I bet Seattle has a similar option. People who actually ride in your city will know more than Google does about what routes do and don’t work.

          Or if you have friends that cycle, see if someone would be willing to go with you on a weekend to help scope out a route you feel comfortable with. I like to scope out new routes when traffic is light so I can figure out any weird bits and work around them, and going with someone with experience might help you figure out different options more easily.

        4. Free Meerkats*

          One thing you can do, since you’re evidently not taking express buses and your workplace is paying your ORCA, is put your bike on the bus and get on at your normal stop near home, and get off the bus when it gets to where you feel the infrastructure is safe. Then ride the rest of the way to work. Reverse that in the afternoon.

      2. Alex*

        I struggled with this same problem and switching to bike commuting was GREAT. And way faster than the bus.

        The only thing is that it is too cold for me half of the year! But the summers are nice.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      I recommend using Amazon Prime Now for groceries. It’s free if you have a prime membership and I’ve found that their fruit and veggies are fantastic. The interface is easy to use and the delivery turnaround is pretty quick, so you could put in an order on your commute and eliminate needing to go the store but also keep/increase your access to fresh fruit and veggies.

      You may not be able to go to the gym during your lunch break, but could you go for a walk? I eat at my desk and spend my lunch hour walking, so I routinely walk 3+ miles a day through this alone. It may not be a perfect workout substitute, but it makes me feel more refreshed and gets me to hit my 10,000 steps every day.

    6. CM*

      Same. I had a three-hour round trip to my last job, and it takes a lot out of you. I used to fantasize that maybe the subway would install some exercise bikes to generate extra power. One day.

      If you can afford to buy lunch every day, that can be a good way of getting fresher ingredients as part of your meal (or, if you can afford to subscribe to a meal delivery service or something).

      It might also be possible to see if there’s any interest in your office in having a group yoga class or something, and pitching in to hire an instructor. We did that at my office and a lot of people liked it; plus it was conveniently right there.

      Otherwise, I don’t know. :(

      1. Manders*

        I like that yoga class idea, but I work at a small company–I’m not sure if I could get enough people together to make up a class, and we don’t have any free space in the building for it. I might investigate whether there are any lunchtime exercise classes in the area. I work in a university district but I’m not a student or staff member, so I don’t have access to the university’s gym facilities (which are super nice).

        1. Teacher Lady*

          My grad school alma mater’s campus gym has a membership for “friends of University,” so if one is not affiliated with the university themself but has a friend or family member who is (ex. your roommate is a student, or your coworker is an alum), that not-directly-affiliated person can get a membership. I genuinely have no idea how common this sort of thing is, but if the only barrier to using university facilities is your lack of affiliation, it might be worth reaching out to learn if there are any options there.

    7. Quill*

      I always go for a walk at lunch if it’s at all possible – and if you’re in a city center you can possibly find a gym or a yoga studio that’s closer to your workplace, so you spend your commute time reading/listening to podcasts/playing phone games and winding down after your workout instead of doing the commute before trying to get excercise. For me, the later in the evening it gets the harder it is to even contemplate excercise.

    8. M. Albertine*

      1) Is there any way to condense your lunch hour to half an hour, so that you can leave half an hour earlier? That has helped me.
      2) If not, do you have a semi-private place you could spend some of your lunch break doing an “office workout”? Push-ups, dips, planks, squats, etc. don’t need equipment, don’t get you overly sweaty, and can contribute some activity.
      3) How close are bus stops? Can you pack running gear in a backpack and run to the next bus stop over on the way home, and ride the rest of the way? This requires a lot of timing, but I know people who have been able to make it work.

      1. Manders*

        Condensing my lunch break is a good idea, I think I’ll talk to my boss about that. I’d be somewhat out of step with the office culture, but I think I’ve got enough capital to burn some on making life a little easier.

        It’s an open office and we don’t even have conference rooms right now because of construction, but in a couple of months I might have a more private space for some workouts. I think the construction has really been my tipping point, there used to be spaces in the office where I could read in silence on my lunch break and now that I don’t have that anymore I’m feeling a bit crazy.

        1. International Holding, Unlimited*

          Ooh, that’s horrible. You said you work near a campus – is there any kind of park (summer) or library (winter) that’s open to the public and you could have some quiet time in? The one nice thing about an hour lunch is that you have enough time to walk somewhere, rather than having to inhale your meal and get back to work.

    9. Food Sherpa*

      I do a ten to fifteen-minute sun salutation at work during lunch. I keep a blanket that I can throw down on the floor and do a quick stretch. And a +1000 on audiobooks and podcasts, especially while riding public transportation.

    10. CheeryO*

      You might have to get creative. Maybe a carpool, either with coworkers or through a local carpool matching program? Or perhaps some combination of walking and the bus? I run commute (granted, it’s only 5ish miles), and I will hop and off the free portion of our city’s subway mid-run if it happens to be at a stop. It’s worth the weird looks to save a few minutes!

    11. Adlib*

      Is there any way you could get more work from home time? I guess it depends on your company’s set up and general culture around that. If it’s been a while since you got the one day approved, could you ask again for more? I sympathize with the switch from little/no commute to a long one. I recently did that myself, and I had to rearrange my entire schedule. (Not sure how much longer I can take it honestly.) Good luck!

    12. Frea*

      Could you try getting a subscription box for fresh fruit/veggies or joining a co-op that delivers? We get a weekly box now even though I do shop for groceries weekly, and it’s been a refreshing change. I even ate an apple last week, which may not seem like a momentous occasion, but actually is.

    13. Overeducated*

      I empathize with this struggle because it’s mine too. Commuting is pretty bad. In terms of unpredictability and commuting, I’ve found that if I can replace any legs of the commute with biking, it helps a lot in terms of both physical activity and my sanity. Some days I bike the whole distance there and back and it’s great exercise. Other days I pick up a bikeshare and ride to or from a bus or train station to avoid the unpredictability of connections; if I’d moved further out, I’d do this more than biking all the way, but I also know people who got electric bikes and that speeds it up a lot.

      I think the fresh fruit and vegetables thing is tough, you really do have to do it weekly, and there are basically two ways to go. One is outsourcing – have groceries delivered every week or two, or a CSA if they have delivery ones in your area rather than requiring pickup during business hours. The other is making it a fun activity – in my old job where I had an hour lunch break I found a city produce market I could get to on my lunch break, and I’d often treat myself to a slice of pizza as well, and now I try to get up early Saturday mornings to go to my neighborhood farmer’s market when good fruit and veggies are in season. A lot of hardy winter produce will also last more than a week – apples, onions, squash, cabbage, sometimes kale, etc. You could focus on those, or on your shopping weekend you could roast or prep a bunch of vegetables to use until your next trip.

      In terms of sedentary life and co

    14. Eleanor Rigby's Jar*

      I had a long commute to city. So one night a week I would plan a mid-trip. Get off the train at a different stop, walk to a restaurant, or book store, or dentist , etc., and explore the town, get stuff done. Take a later train home. Because of the long commute, I signed up for online classes at the local CC & used the train time to study.

    15. Buffy*

      Fellow Puget Sound Commuter here. I do the Federal Way to Redmond commute daily and have for over 12 years now. The time has increased from just over 2 hours RT to 3.5 hours daily RT. I listen to audiobooks in the car on my commute as a way of lessening that feeling of spending so much of my time doing nothing. I find that non fiction and classics are great as audiobooks with the occasional fiction story tossed in for variety. We don’t have any on site gym facilities (many close by but schedule makes a decent workout at lunch impossible) so a work friend and I go for a 3.5 mile walk daily. It’s a challenge in the winter with the rain but I keep extra clothes in my office and rain gear so that helps. Then it’s a matter of watching my food intake and making sure that during the day, I get up and walk around a bit every hour. I do a lot of advance meal planning and have help with the yard and the house so I don’t always spend what little time I have left over doing household chores. I have no secret to impart to you. It sucks. Moving isn’t a choice because of extraordinarily high housing prices close to my office. Changing jobs to one closer to my house isn’t an option because few employers in my area pay what I make. I just have my fingers crossed that my manager will change to one who encourages WFH like my previous one did. Current manager is not a fan of it and doesn’t like employees working from home.

      1. Manders*

        Oof, that commute’s worse than mine, my sympathies. Housing prices are just mind-boggling right now, I consider myself lucky to be as close to work as I am.

        Strangely, when my office moved *closer* to my house, my commute got *longer* because the express bus to downtown takes less time and comes more often. Our infrastructure is so weird.

      2. Alas alack*

        Everett to Seattle, here! Solidarity fist-bumps of commiseration, fellow Puget Sku d commuters!

        What is helping me a bit is driving M&F, bus Tues&Thurs, WFH in Wed. So the commute is still looooong (ugh ugh ugh, Seahawks game days!) but I at least have Wed’s no- commute to look forward to. It has truly helped me, that one day at home. Laundry gets done then, as I can do that while working and not lose much work time. With no commute, I can get to the grocery store Wed evening before the rush, so can easily do two store runs a week now.

        Adding exercise in to the schedule … unnnngh. That is the worst. Any exercise = sweating for hours (I am like George Costanza: “The shower didn’t take!”), so exercising at the office or at lunch is a big giant NO. So I have ended up devoting Tues & Thurs evenings to exercise. No chores required, just get myself moving! Even if it is just a walk around the apartment complex! It is *SOMETHING* at least.

        And the next in-city person who chirpily says “soon you will have light rail!” is going to get smacked. 7 years is not “soon”.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah this is basically my commute, too. As I mentioned above, I drive 3 days a week and WFH the other two. I leave at around 5 AM and that makes the commute bearable, but coming home I run into Boeing traffic and that can be a drag.

          My son does Olympia to Redmond, if you can believe that. He works at night so it’s not terrible but if he ever wants to work a normal (day or swing) schedule, he would be hosed because it would take him hours to get to work.

    16. Alianora*

      I have a very similar situation – 1.5 hour commute each way, usually taking public transit, working from home 1 day a week.

      I usually get groceries on my commute home from work. There are grocery stores at both ends of the train leg of my commute, so if I have a few minutes to kill while I’m waiting I run in and do my grocery shopping. Maybe that’s a possibility for you if you’re in an urban area? In general, getting errands done on my way to or from work helps.

      As others have suggested, I try to take advantage of my time on public transit by reading or drawing. I also try to get the “browsing the internet” urge out while I’m on transit. That way when I get home I can start doing housework and dealing with other life stuff instead of falling into the “Oh, I’ll just check X website for 5 minutes” trap.

      Seconding the half hour lunch instead of an hour. It makes a bigger difference to be able to leave earlier than I would have thought.

    17. Anon for this one*

      You may need to give up or cut back on the hobby (or take up something else that’s more active).

      1. Manders*

        I’ve already cut back on it quite a bit so I can go on hikes on the weekends instead. I don’t think giving it up entirely is a workable idea, it’s a huge mental health booster and the focus of a lot of my social life.

    18. Public Health Nerd*

      Yeah, I live in the area and the commute was awful. Get on the list for a vanpool if you can – a lot nicer than the bus, and a lot more pleasant. See if you can get permission to work from home once a week or every once in a while to get a break. Sometimes shifting your day later or earlier can help the bus reliability a LOT, so maybe look at that if you can. Otherwise, husband used to walk along the bus route – so when he got tired or the bus finally arrived, he could get on the bus but get some walking in.