open thread – November 29-30, 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.

{ 600 comments… read them below }

  1. Marianne Dashwood*

    I’m applying to grad school (two-year program) and am debating if I should continue to work (full-time or part-time) the first year to help pay for living expenses. I am fortunate to have financial help with tuition and I have quite a bit in savings. Can anyone comment on whether they worked or didn’t work while in grad school? What was it like? Thank you!

    1. MommaCat*

      I would assume it depends on your program. When I was looking into it, most programs specially said I shouldn’t be working other jobs simultaneously while in the program. Most grad school programs have in-school work they’ll pay you for (though it probably isn’t much).

    2. The Bermudian*

      I did a two year Masters in the UK, so I’m not sure if it’s comparable but I worked throughout but in different ways: the first year was more class intensive and I had a job where I worked three days a week, which was perfect. Left me time to do my classes and my work, particularly as I was commuting on the train. The second year was my thesis year and I had very little contact time so I worked five days a week. I will say it was a push at the end, though, with every lunch break spent editing my work. However, employers were really understanding and happy to make allowances for taking the odd day off and respected that I was taking a full hour each day away from the office to work and didn’t bother me. It was doable for me but I was always busy. It was a relief when I finished and my weekends were mine again!

    3. DC*

      I worked full time and went to school part time. It is A LOT, and will depend very heavily on your program and what’s expected. For example, if I were required to do an internship to graduate, that would have been impossible.

      I’d really recommend talking to others in the program right now to see what is realistic based on the program itself.

    4. Jellyfish*

      I have two master’s degrees. With the first one, I took a full class load while working full time. It’s certainly doable, but that’s all I did. My social life and physical health took a backseat during those two years. However, I didn’t go into debt at all because I was able to pay everything off as I went.

      For lots of reasons unique to me, one degree was not enough. When I started the second one, I took a part time position in the field where I wanted to be long term. I was much happier and was able to balance life alongside work and school that time, although I worried about money a lot more. I’m still paying off my student loans, but I’m not in too bad of shape now.

      Working part time in a field directly related to my schooling and long term career goals gave me much more flexibility too. I was able to attend professional conferences and such that wouldn’t have been possible while getting my first degree.

      If you’re able to cut back on working, I’d recommend it. If you figure out that’s not financially workable though, you can still manage. Best of luck with school!

    5. CM*

      I did not work in grad school. I was in a two-year program in Canada where I got funding from the school as well as an outside grant in the second year, and the extra time meant that I could really focus on my thesis and participate in more extracurricular activities around campus (which ended up being helpful, professionally).

      If I hadn’t had to move for grad school, I probably would have tried to stay on part-time at my job because I would have been nervous about not getting the grant, but it was probably better for me that it worked out the way it did.

    6. Laika*

      My best friend worked through both master’s degrees and it was a ton of work. She’s the most motivated, organized person I know and still felt the crunch, but obviously also chose to work through the second one as well so it wasn’t THAT bad, since she had other options, eg. loans, savings, etc.

      She was lucky enough to find work both times in organizations very close to her field, which channeled directly into work post-grad-studies. That was through connections via the grad school and making full use of the schools’ resources. Considering she’s now working full-time in her chosen field with one of the places she’d been working at through school, I would say it worked out to be a big, big bonus for her!

    7. Lady Jay*

      Really depends on the program.

      If it’s 1) a professional degree, and 2) you’re already working in the field (e.g. an M.Ed. and you’re already employed in education somewhere), then sure, keep working!

      But if 1) it’s a “pure” degree (chemistry, rhetoric/writing, philosophy, etc.) and/or 2) you’re not currently employed in the field, then I’d advise not working, so you can throw yourself more fully behind the program in a way that will lead to better employment post-graduation.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ll second this. I went back to school for my master’s about six years after graduating, because I started a job that had (limited) tuition reimbursement, and we were a DINK household at the time, so time and money weren’t stretched thin. I was actually able to use work resources to do my thesis proposal research, and I really enjoyed the material, so it was a good fit, and I was young enough that the commute from home to work to school and back home late at night wasn’t too difficult…until our kid came along when I was in my last year, and that was a little difficult emotionally.

    8. SQL Coder Cat*

      I worked full time while taking classes part time the first year of my MBA. My job had fixed hours and no OT so I thought it would be fine.

      It was exhausting. I did nothing but work, school, and sleep. I had no social life whatsoever- my together time with my husband was grocery shopping. I realized a second year like that would drive me insane. Fortunately, our circumstances changed and allowed me to attend school full time the second year. If I had it to do over again I would have taken bigger student loans and not worked the first year either.

      I highly recommend talking to other students in the program about the workload. It might be doable, but that doesn’t mean it will be any fun. Limiting your social calendar temporarily may sound like a doable sacrifice, but the reality was way more soul-kidding than I anticipated. As always, YMMV.

    9. Hillary*

      I worked through my MBA (40 hours work plus 8-12 credits). I graduated with less debt, but I had no social life. If I had to do it again, I’d go FT to the best program I could get into and wouldn’t work.

      More practically, your school will have guidance about expectations around time commitments.

    10. Filosofickle*

      If you have the opportunity for a good part-time job, that’s a great option. I worked about half time during my full-time (but low-residency) MBA and that was as much as I could handle. About half of my cohort worked full-time and it was exhausting at times but to their credit they made it work. Most of them probably slept a lot less than me, though! They were also better at saying “this is good enough” whereas I overworked a lot of my projects because that’s how I am. The ones who succeeded the best were extremely efficient at prioritizing their time and making decisions.

      My boyfriend is currently in a graduate program and is choosing not to work, but that’s only possible because his schooling and COL is fully funded. His experience with combining school and work over the past decade led him to the decision that he couldn’t juggle both and still get out of graduate school what he wanted. Beyond the degree, he wanted a more focused learning experience.

    11. Let’s get organized*

      How do you help a junior staff person learn how to be organized?

      I’m supervising someone who is quite scattered. They are developing some organizational skills that work at the office and when they are independent, but when I assign a sometimes last minute task (nature of the work, not how I like to manage), or when we are doing off site work it can feel like a tornado hit.

      I’m usually on the far end of hyper organized, and realize that’s not how everyone operates. I’ve supervised a lot of junior staff who have had a wide-range of ways of organizing themselves ….. but this time it feels like the chaos is dragging me into the mix and causing me to be less organized. Help! (If it matters my work load has increased which doesn’t help. In the past I would rely on a more organized junior person to help keep me on track during these times, but can’t do that right now).

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        How junior is this person, what kinds of things are they require to organize, and how much control do they have over their time and other resources?

        Basics can really help–checklists of priorities and tasks for recurring kinds of projects, making their own individual lists of what to do for one-offs, and assurance that taking a little time before starting, to plan out the steps, can save more time along the way. Maybe some counseling about the last-minute assignments–what’s okay to put aside, even if it was top priority five minutes ago

    12. Little Beans*

      I worked through all 3 years of grad school but I was only in school part time (I took 6 to 8 units a semester, including summers). I could not have done both full-time. Even doing school part-time was really tough, because all I did was work, go to class, study or go to study groups. I joke now that I didn’t get a haircut for 3 years. I definitely didn’t take a vacation other than visiting family on holidays – I used all of my vacation days, plus some unpaid time off, to do the required fieldwork hours for my graduate degree. I’m really glad that I did it because I was able to keep gaining 3 years of work experience which was honestly equally as valuable as the degree as far as employers in my field are concerned, and I was also able to do my entire program without taking out loans. But I was in my early twenties and had lots of energy and no commitments – I probably wouldn’t do it now.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      It depends on your program and course load, but I’d recommend only working part-time (or not at all) your first year.
      I found my first year had the most workload in the core classes. Second year, it was a little lighter, and I actually was able to start a full-time job because I only had 1 or 2 evening classes per semester. My program had the option of either a thesis or a comprehensive test to graduate. They were both hard, but if you choose the thesis, it required conducting research, which can be more time intensive than just studying. As I needed to work by that point, I elected the more open test option.

    14. MC*

      When I went to grad school for my degree, I applied for and got an assistantship on campus. I worked about 25 hours a week at a place that let me choose my own hours. I got a stipend and a tuition waver, if I remember correctly. This was in the US, by the way.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes, they do have those, but in my case I was too old to apply for it. :-(
        They’re reserved for younger students.

    15. Lyudie*

      See if there is a graduate school coordinator you can ask about it…there should be someone either specific to the program or for the graduate school in general who can answer questions from prospective students. My husband and I have both been working full time while going to school but we’re taking online-only classes and only one at a time for the most part (he was taking two at a time until he hit a math class that was super time consuming…I didn’t see him much that semester). If you’re going full time, I agree with others you might need to do part time only at least until you get a feel for how much time your program is going to require. Good luck!!!

    16. CastIrony*

      My sister worked a 20-hour per week (more like 24) assistantship in a non job-related field, and she alternated work and school days. It worked, but she barely did any extracurriculars and mostly focused on time with me and homework. So. Much. Homework.

    17. NewNameTemporarily*

      I went to one of the very difficult 2 year programs where I barely got more than 6 hours of sleep a night, as it was. No social life, nothing. It was very grueling, very competitive. (I had a perfect Admissions test score, so my level of studying had a lot more to do with the rigor of the program than my lack of intelligence).
      I had turned down a well known (but “only”) top 20 program which had a half-time option, in order to go full time to that one (one of the top 3 at the time). Also, I had worked full-time through undergrad and my previous grad program and not learned all I thought I should, because the classroom was last after roof-over-head. From a school loan standpoint, I wish I had gone for the half time program and worked. From the sanity perspective, I don’t think I could have worked and gotten my money’s worth from my specific program. It was the rigor of the learning, the way my brain had to handle everything thrown at it, and the challenge of the constant group study, case studies, and seemingly endless new concepts.
      So… YMMV. Almost everyone I went to school with went into very well paying, high stress jobs. The class work definitely prepared me to think my after-program job was way easier than school!

    18. Sam Foster*

      I did an MBA in the United States and had to work the whole time. It’s fine and doable but one misses out on things like internships and opportunities like that so while I don’t have any regrets, I would’ve liked to have had those opportunities.

    19. BTDT*

      Totally agree with the others that it depends on the program. Are your classes online? What times will you be in class? Is the work related to your degree? Those are big factors. I’m a grad student in a fully offline program where the vast majority of classes take place during the day. It’s impossible to work FT and be in this program FT. Plenty of people work PT (I’m doing it now) but I literally have no life outside of work and school. A coworker works FT and takes a full course load of online classes (different degree), so it’s possible for him. But he freely admits that he just does what he needs to do to pass and nothing more. There’s just no time to do any better.

    20. WinterHasCome*

      I did a professional masters, a MLIS, and had to work in order to pay the bills. I also had student loans and worked during the summer between 1st and 2nd year. Thankfully that summer was a coop that counted towards my degree. I had 3 part time jobs first year and 2 the 2nd….mostly on campus so that helped. My degree isn’t one of those that come with guarantee funding. It helped that I was straight out of undergrad and was single so I could live cheaply!

    21. Teacher Lady*

      I worked casually during my first two semesters of grad school (summer + fall) at a research assistant job based in local area schools. It would have been preferable to work more than I did (we could have used the money), BUT the flexibility of my job really won out over more hours. If I could only work 5 hours one week but wanted 20 the next week, they could generally accommodate those kinds of changes. My program was only 3 semesters and higher-paying/more stable employment was contingent on my finishing school, so even though I had to take out some loans and pinch pennies during school, I’m glad I was a full-time student/part-time worker, and not the other way around. However, now that I have a much higher paying job, I probably would stretch out a degree longer in order to balance school with full-time work, especially since returning to school would be solely to develop new/niche skills and knowledge without much of a salary bump.

    22. Mimblewimble*

      I have two masters degrees and was a full time student both times. The first degree I worked part time; for my second masters I worked full time. I earned both degrees in 2 years, but it was a lot of work. My life was literally work-school-homework-sleep-repeat. It was nice to be able to pay my tuition in full each semester, and so I graduated without any debt. But it was very difficult to have such an intense schedule for so long. But I had other goals I was working towards (changing careers, my current job had no guarantee of keeping me beyond 2 years) and getting a masters on a certain timeframe was a priority.

      So it depends on what your goals are, and what you feel you want to do, as well as your financial situation. You can always work part-time and go to school full-time; or go to school part-time while you work full time. And you can always adjust your school schedule if you feel like it’s too much/too little.

      Congrats on starting your masters and good luck!

    23. Beth Jacobs*

      I worked through my master’s (part-time) and don’t regret it. I feel tasks expand to the time you allot them, so having less time just made me more diligent and efficient. And I’m glad for the experience.
      I say give it a shot, but don’t hesitate to quit if you find out you just can’t do both. Your education comes first.

  2. Need Some Good Words*

    So, after a great Thanksgiving, I find myself extremely depressed. Two months ago I was fired from my job. I’ve since found an amazing new one that pays a lot more and with a much more supportive environment. But I was fired from my previous position after working my butt off for three years, sacrificing my personal life and health, and winning national awards for my company because I asked for a promotion during my annual review. My boss tore me apart in my review — including telling me that my work was awful and that none of my coworkers liked me (I thought I was friends with them all). She also said that I would not be getting a promotion until I had been there for at least five years, even though most of my coworkers that had already received that promotion had gotten it in 3. So, I’m in a better place, right? Absolutely. But this morning I found out that a former coworker that has been there for less than 2 years just got the promotion I had asked for two months ago.
    I know I should just let it go and take it as a sign that my old job and boss were horrible. But I find myself thinking this morning — what if I’m a horrible worker? What if nobody liked me? Am I just a horrible human being and employee?
    How do people get over this kind of self-doubt after a bad employment experience?

    1. The Bermudian*

      I think you’re right that you need to let it go. Why not think of this new job as a blank slate? They’ve given you this wonderful new opportunity for a reason, not because they’re feeling charitable. Draw a line under your last job and focus on this one and the feedback you get in your new role.

      1. Jessa1*

        I think it is possible that the manager was horrible. But also, as a manager that has had to have tough conversations and then let people go after no improvement, and then heard their slanted side through others after the fact, I have doubts. I have to say I have been shocked at the lack of self reflection some really car-crash level employees have had.

          1. Jessa1*

            Yes I could have worded that much much better. My point is self reflection is good. Not to the point of thinking the OP is a “horrible person and employee” however.

        1. AnonForReasons*

          I can’t just leave it at my last comment. It sounds like you need to do some serious self-reflection yourself, Jessa1. Why did you post your comment on here? Here are a few of what we can presume are facts about this situation: The OP says she won national awards for the company. The boss lied about how many years someone has to work at the company for a promotion. The boss said none of her coworkers liked her! How you turned that into your comment about “car-crash level employees”, posted under a request from someone seeking validation, is beyond me. Are you sure you’re as good a manager as you think you are?

            1. Congrats on the new job!*

              Your new employer saw you as the best applicant. Can you concentrate on that? Removing negativity from my brain is a huge challenge, so I know it’s not easy.

          1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

            Even if the OP wasn’t a great employee, the fact that her supervisor told her that “nobody likes you” is, all by itself, enough to mark the supervisor as a horrible person and a horrible supervisor. That’s the sort of thing bullies say in 7th grade, not that an adult person tells another adult person as part of any sort of professional evaluation.

            So…she’s AWFUL, OP. I really think you’re safe to leave it at that. I mean, if you can think of something about which you can objectively say, “I need to work on that,” fine. By all means, work on that. But look at metrics, not the taunts – because that’s what they are – of this ridiculous person who used to supervised you.

    2. Uncle Bob*

      You are the lucky one here. You’re at a new job with better pay and everyone else is stuck at the company with the pathological culture. If you frame it that way in your mind, they did you a huge favor.

    3. londonedit*

      It sounds like your old boss was just awful. Rubbishing your work and saying none of your coworkers liked you? That’s ridiculously unprofessional (and childish). You know your work was great up to that point (you won awards!)

      I agree about seeing this as a clean break and a new opportunity. Try to forget about your old job and concentrate on this new one – they’ve hired you because they believe you can do the job, so you need to believe that too. But I’d definitely recommend not sacrificing your health and personal life for this new job! It sounds like you won’t have to, if it’s a more supportive environment, but it’s not normal or healthy for work to take over your life to that extent.

      1. UbiCaritas*

        totally agree with this. You are much better off. I hope New Job treats you very well indeed – and that you treat yourself well. Wishing you all the best!

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, your old boss was awful. If your work was awful (which I highly doubt because you were winning awards), she should have been coaching you in getting better, not surprising you with it at the review. I think your boss didn’t want to give you a promotion for some reason and just started to be mean to you to cover the real reason.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      The inner extremely petty child in me wants you to take your former co-worker out to lunch to celebrate and then pick up the check with a subtle hint of, “My goodness now that I’m at my new job I’m making so much more money that it’s fun to treat for situations like this.”

      The compassionate human in me wants to tell you that it’s hard not to take this a little personally and that it’s ok. You spent a fair amount of your life at a place, worked very hard, fact it was probably due to the fact that because you kicked so much ass at your last job you were in a position to land at your current company where it sounds like you are treated like a valued team member.

      I watched Shawshank Redemption again a couple days ago and it sounds like you’ve had your Andy Dufrense moment where you’ve had to crawl through a river of %^& and you’ve come clean on the other side.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your petty inner child and my petty inner child should meet – this is almost exactly what I’d do, lol.

    5. BRR*

      I get it. I was laid off from a job I hate earlier this year and didn’t get a promotion I deserved while other people were always getting promoted. I have periods of rage come back from time to time. The advice others here gave me was that it will just take time. Your boss sounds like a truly awful person. My own advice is to just not get into a thought spiral of things. Think about something else. Anything else.

    6. Caroline*

      It’s to your credit that you found a new job in such a short time. I would have thought this reflects your skills and experience much more than the feedback of one person who, from what you say, behaved very unprofessionally, both in the way they spoke to you and in their subsequent actions.

      I hope that you can focus on that and not on what you went through to get where you are now.

      That said, I know from experience that depression doesn’t always listen to reason. Can you use the more supportive environment in your new job to set some short-term objectives to boost your confidence? I left my last job after I got depressed, and it’s taken me a while to pick myself up. I’ve found that setting myself small goals – both at work and outside it – and reflecting on them has been helpful.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          It sure is. And not only did OP get a new job quickly, but one that pays more and has a better overall environment – that in itself is impressive.

    7. Bluebell*

      Definitely just let it go, and realize it was your boss and not you. Enjoy the new job, be friendly and kind to the new coworkers. If you want, send a brief congrats email to excoworker, and bask in the feeling of enjoying the water that is flowing under the bridge.

    8. Observer*

      Well, do you have any reason to believe that you are delusional?

      What I’m getting at is that you have solid evidence that your boss was not terribly honest with you on the one hand, and that you did good work on the other. That’s what you focus on.

      1. voyager1*

        Woah, that delusional comment, had me worried there where that was going.

        But yeah agree with this. Sounds like the boss was gaslighting some, hence the lack of confidence and the creeping self doubt.

        Sounds like the poster is in a better place now thankfully.

      2. Robots*

        Yes, this was my thought. He told you that a) nobody likes you, and b) promotions didn’t happen before the 5 year mark. You have a lot of evidence that he was lying about b – don’t give him any more credibility about a.

    9. Lady Jay*

      For what it’s worth, some of my darkest days have come immediately after some of my best ones.

      About a month ago, there was a particular day where (due to family/persona events) I knew I’d be susceptible to feeling depressed. I scheduled something I do really well for that day, enjoyed time in my favourite places, ate good foods–it was a terrific day. The very next day, I fell into one of the worst funks I’ve been in for a long time. It took the whole day, plus the listening ear of a good friend, to pull me out.

      So be patient with yourself. Sometimes coming off the “high” of a good day can surface negative emotions, and you may find that your anxieties straighten themselves out over time.

    10. CM*

      I think one way to look at it is that, even if you were as terrible as your boss said (which you’re probably not), it would still not have been okay for her to talk to you that way, and it would not have been okay to lie and say there was some 5-year rule when there clearly wasn’t, and it would not have been okay to fire you for asking for a promotion. So, regardless of anything you did, she was in the wrong to do what she did, you have a right to feel hurt by it, and also frustrated that what happened was unjust and that the injustice has been allowed to stand. You don’t have any obligation to rifle through your memory and try to litigate a case for why she might be right.

      Another way to think about it is that, if you ARE so horrible, it really paid off, because you got a better job out of it.

      Another way to think about it is that horrible people generally sleep very soundly at night. They don’t sit around trying to figure out if they’re horrible. So, if that’s what you’re doing, it’s a sign that you’re probably not everything she accused you of being.

      Another way to think about it is that maybe they learned a lesson at some point after you left and decided not to be mean to the next person who asked for a promotion — which would be a very positive thing, because you don’t want other people to be treated badly either.

      Another way to think about it is that what your boss did to you is an example of petty tyranny and/or abusive supervision, which are pretty well-researched phenomena that you can read about if reading research makes you feel better (it makes me feel better). The reasons why this kind of thing happens have less to do with the victim than with the perpetrator and the situation.

      1. Anon For Now and Ever*

        I agree with all your points, but I was especially thinking the first one. Old Boss was a jerk. Maybe the OP wasn’t perfect for the role or doing something differently from the old boss’s plans for the role, but it certainly seems that the OP is capable of good work (what with the awards and all!) so firing them in that cruel way for not being a mind-reader would be a jerk move. If old boss had a problem with OP’s work they should have told them what was up a long time ago and actually managed them, not fired them on the spot at review time.

        Also, saying “and nobody likes you, too!” is another jerk move and was designed to make the OP feel bad and is probably not the case. OP, I really wouldn’t put stock in that comment.

    11. voyager1*

      Your old boss was a jerk.

      You are good person. Keep doing what you are doing.

      Oh and that old boss is a jerk.

      But the good news is, as time goes on you will get over all of what that jerk boss did. Time does help in these cases. I had a jerk boss who said some things to me. Hurt a lot at the time, but now I just laugh when I think how insecure and petty they were.

      Just keep up what you are doing. You got this.

    12. Mazzy*

      It took me two years to get over my last job. Eventually, everything bad that I said would happen over there happened, and that was the closure I needed. They started losing customers because the new management got rid of the gurus we used to have and tried to hire a higher number of less experienced (but not much less paid, which made no sense) people to fill smaller roles, thinking they were running an assembly line. The approach clearly has failed. The assumption that our customers weren’t happy and wanted change was also presumptuous. I think that hearing enough failures after the fact made me feel great about leaving.

    13. Auntie Social*

      Baby, your boss had an agenda, and she had a favorite, and I’m going to guess that she was threatened by your ability, and you got in the way of Her Master Plan. You could have saved a baby on an ice floe on CNN and still have gotten fired by her. You could have stopped the 9/11 planes and she would fire you for not having 100% focus on your work. There is malice in the world, dear, and you worked for her. Not a reason in the world to doubt yourself. I think you were splendid!!

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You were the victim of an awful boss who had an axe to grind.

      You may have been a threat to your former boss even. So they flipped out at you seeing you were looking for a promotion without their prompting or blessing.

      You will recover from this. But it’ll take time and space. Try to focus on the now. And the old job will fade.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      You’re angry about OldJob (the jerks!) and I do totally and completely get it.
      But the very best revenge you can have is to live and work well in a far better job!

      When you’re working somewhere and things start going south, you’ll often begin wondering if it’s you, because suddenly you’ve become ‘the worst worker in the world., However, I’ve often found that the problems are systemic within the organization and it’s just most people don’t know it yet. You may find a year from now, they do a massive downsizing or lose contracts, etc., and everyone, including jerk ex-boss will be gone.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Yes, threatened people will make up any way to present you as the ‘worst employee ever,’ sometimes even going so far as to bullying and gaslighting to make you feel terrible and doubt your abilities.

      1. Seal*

        Agreed. I got passed over for a promised promotion over a decade ago and it still hurts. My revenge was getting a job elsewhere that was nearly identical to the one I’d been promised, getting a huge promotion a year later and going on to win national awards. Meanwhile, my former boss got demoted and eventually fired and the department imploded because the person (me) that did all the work left. Once I left, I realized that the reason I’d been lied to about getting promoted was that my boss viewed me as a threat, since I’d been covering his ass for years and would have quickly shown him up had I gotten promoted.

    16. Fikly*

      Look for the objective information – and it’s not coming from your performance eval! Those national awards you won? Those were awarded from outside the company, and you can rely on their perspective of your abilities.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Think. A truly terrible person would never in a thousand years think of doing a self-check. Think. What you are doing here? You have a big self-check going on here. Definitely something that would never occur to a truly terrible person.

      I had a boss say things to me. “No one here likes you, everyone hates you, blah, blah, blah.”
      The reality was that everyone hated HER. There were many times that people said, “Oh you work in X? You have the WORST boss in the company.” They all knew it.
      Also reality was that I accomplished a lot of work. I got compliments from my cohorts. My peers would come get me when they hit a huge hurdle. One peer would tell new people, “When no one else can figure something out go get NSN.”

      One rebuttal to your boss statements to you is, “Wait. Are we talking about ME or are we talking about YOU?”

      Diving in a little deeper here. How did you get this info? Who told you? Yes, you have to consider the motivations of the source who gave you the info. Is it possible this person is the boss’ puppet who was instructed to make sure you found out? Perhaps you saw it on FB, okay, why would that person post this info? What motivation would they have?

      Sometimes we can tell how well we are doing by how big an upset we cause. This is wise to know when we are working with people who ENJOY failure. It helps them to look like martyrs for the cause- if you take failure away from them then they have lost huge parts of their self-identity. Just a guess, but I bet your boss was always talking about how hard the work was and how there oh-so-much to do and how awful upper management was.

      If you think about it you might find parallels to the abusive parent story. “You’re not lovable, I am the only person on earth who loves you.” Clearly, this is so NOT true. Likewise with your boss, her stuff is so not true. With insecure bosses you can probably figure this probably means that you were actually well liked.

      I hope you chuckle. When my boss said no one liked me, I said I did not come here to make friends. The look of shock on her face gave me a totally new perspective. She worked so she COULD make friends, she did not grasp the idea that other people would not have friendships as their primary motive for working. (I think I was as surprised by her response as she was with my response.)

      If you want something actionable to counter-balance all this, then look for ways to improve yourself as an employee. I know I can always find things that I can beef up, it does not matter how long I stay at a job. Currently I do not do any X’s, I leave all the X’s for my boss to do. She does not care, she feels that I handle all the Ys and there are at least 100 Y’s for every X. Not her hill to die on. Technically speaking X is indeed part of my job and I should get up to speed. So probably there are little things you can work on to round yourself out some more. You can take that worry and craft an action plan. Yes, I do things differently at this job than I did at that job. I did make changes.

      Remember she crafted her words to cut through you like knives. That was her intent to wound, to injure or to maim. If she wanted a successful relationship with she would have chosen a wildly different set of words. No, she was way too interested in chopping you down.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I have been told that I need to be more social so people would like me.
        I replied that I am am paid by the company to get work done, not to be social. Gee, what a concept!

    18. Tenebrae*

      A few years ago, after good feedback all year, I was told in my performance review that I had done absolutely nothing right and fired. It was rough; I came really close to killing myself. But one of the things that helped a lot was consciously deciding to avoid negative self talk. I really had to pay attention to how I spoke about myself in my head and to other people at my next job but a few months of deliberately speaking in the positive instead of the negative actually made me believe it. Might help for you, too?
      Also, all evidence suggests that you are great and your boss sucks.

    19. learnedthehardway*

      Objectively speaking, you would not have won national awards for your company if you were terrible at your old job, or if you were unable to work effectively with coworkers (interpersonal skills are necessary for major accomplishments like that).

      Also, deconstructing what your old manager said – first of all, it was completely inappropriate of her to make personal attacks. Saying nobody liked you is a personal attack. A reasonable manager would have told a person nobody likes that their behaviours in X, Y, and Z were problems and were causing A, B, and C results in the business. Why? Because behaviours are actionable and can be changed. Merely being disliked is not something you (or anyone) can do anything about, without input as to why/what about you is causing offence. Clearly, your manager was not trying to build you up or provide guidance. They were tearing you down. That’s bad management.

      Secondly, your work quality – a good manager would have pointed out areas for improvement throughout the year and it would not have been a surprise to you that your work was considered substandard at the annual review. So, regardless of whether your work was good or bad, it was bad management to either not redirect you through the year, or to tear your work apart at the end of the year when throughout the year, you’d thought you’d done good work. And of course, your work was winning awards – how bad could it have been?

      Beyond that – you got a new and better job. Believe me, recruitment and hiring managers are generally pretty good at identifying someone who is a screw-up. We’re not infallible, but we’re pretty good. And, you had references who were positive about your performance – I would rely on them for their estimate of your value ot your old firm. in fact, if you’re really feeling shaken to the core and riddled with self-doubt, TALK to one of them (preferably a manager reference) and ask them for their perspective.

      1. BasicWitch*

        THIS. I was lucky enough to have coworkers who provided glowing references and they are the key reason I didn’t 100% believe my former supervisors crazy-making criticism.

    20. Dysfunctional Deb*

      There is so much good advice here that I am not sure what I can add to it.

      You d a bullet. If your boss reacted to your request for a promotion by ranting about you and letting you go, she was emotionally unstable. You are better off where you are now.

      Practically speaking, I know it is hard to recover from that. Focusing on improving the better life you live now will help. Pick up a new hobby, join a volunteer group, make a healthy lifestyle change, plan a trip.

      It will take time but it will help put you on the road to a happier life.

    21. AnonForReasons*

      Your former boss sounds like a terrible human being. This is a fun activity to help you get over what she did to you, and as a bonus you may get some insight into the real reason she did what she did. Google “personality disorders” then read up on some of them. Then imagine why she did she do what she did. Maybe she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder! Maybe she has Antisocial Personal Disorder! (i.e. she’s a Sociopath!) Maybe she has Histrionic Personality Disorder and because of how amazing you are she was enraged you were taking the spotlight off her!

    22. Boomerang Girl*

      It took me a long time to learn that reviews and promotions are more about someone’s perceptions of you than reality. For me, that was very frustrating. My gut reaction to your letter was that your former manager was threatened by you, but we’ll put that aside and assume her intent was not malicious.
      You mention sacrificing personal life and health in your old job. 1) That is probably a key contributor to your depression. Get thee to a gym or to a walking trail today and start getting your health back on track. 2) people who sacrifice health for work often think it will be rewarded, but usually the opposite happens. You end up appearing frazzled and less competent than you really are, regardless of your actual output or performance. I know this from personal experience. I moved mountains in one job, only to be fired and replaced by 9 people! In my next job , I worked intensely but fewer hours, and got promoted faster.

      Life will never be truly balanced. You do have to go back and forth between priorities. However, in your new job, please make sure you are making time for yourself.

    23. BasicWitch*

      I’m dealing with this self-doubt too. My last review with my former supervisor was all criticism, most of it vague or feedback/directions to improve that directly contradicted conversations we’d had previously (as recently as earlier that week!). She also had quite a lot to say about “my attitude” but couldn’t point to any particular action or behavior that led her to think I had a bad one, so I was increasingly on edge about whether I was smiling enough or too much (would she see it as sarcasm?) and whether I was volunteering to help enough or too often (would she see it as manipulative?). But all the other department heads adored me and depended on me… I still found myself thinking *she* was right, and everyone else was just too nice to tell me to my face that I was a bad employee. At the end of the day, I can only know about the feedback I actually received. I still don’t know what it is my supervisor wanted from me or why she found me lacking, and at a certain point *that* is on her. I quit because it was clear I wouldn’t have a future there, but it broke my heart because I loved everything about working there except this supervisor and how she ran her department (many stories, another time).

      Now I’m in a much better job, and I’m irrationally terrified the previous manager will be proved right. I am constantly tense and worried about if I’m actually good enough to keep this job. My imposter syndrome is cranked up to 11. It sucks.

      What hope I have to offer Good Words, is this: your new job hired you because they wanted YOU. That’s enough. It’s ok to mourn the future you saw for yourself at the previous company, but as you get to know yourself again you’ll see that you’ve been really been liberated from a toxic place. It wasn’t how you wanted it to go, but that’s life. Success is about making the best of what is. Good luck!

    24. Ermmm*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry and truly feel your pain. I had a similar experience where I was let go from a job where I thought I was kicking ass; I brought a lot to the table and really sacrificed so much to prove myself. It was a complete shock- I had never had a bad review or even a “talking to “ at this job or anywhere else for that matter – literally this was the most random and bizarre experience. I was in disbelief and obsessed about it for more than a year after it happened. It really effected my confidence and messed with my head in so many ways. I went from thinking I was this incredible performer to feeling like a complete failure in life. I had never gotten any signs or warnings about my work and clients seemed thrilled with me, but I learned later I had been used as a scapegoat by a crappy director and I never had a chance.

      SO, I obsessed and fretted and felt like shit and STILL wonder what I could have done differently, but you know what? I finally decided I was done with it and I’ve been at my current job for just over a year and it’s a better job with better benefits and more money and a bigger office and a better commute, so I’m actually VERY glad that it all happened. I can think positively about it now but for a LONG time it tortured me and I was in a deep, pretty awful depression. I’m talking fantasizing about walking in front of a speeding bus depression. The being fired wasn’t the core reason for the depression – that’s always been around- but it was a final nail in what seemed like a coffin at the time.

      Please don’t let this define you or get to you in a way that ruins where you are now. Sometimes shitty things happen and we happen to be part of someone else’s solution and for no fault of our own, we’re entrenched in the outcome and suffer for it. It sucks, and people who treat others in this way suck, but it happens. I occasionally wish for bad things to happen to those who totally screwed me over, but I know my wishes don’t really effect their lives (but I can dream).

      I hope you’re doing better and truly believe you’re in a better place, because your former company sounds like a dump for treating you like that.

    25. all the leaves are brown*

      I think you’ve gotten some excellent advice here (as always! This really is an amazing site) and just have two things to add.

      The first is that for me, now being in a new job after a toxic job – a job that I worked so friggin’ hard at and consumed so much of my brain and emotional energy – I am never making that mistake again. I had way too much of my identity tied up with it. This new job is a step up in every way, and I am going to do a great job, but I am not going to tie my identity to it so much. My personal life (family, friends, hobbies, pets) are going to get “me”. I feel so much lighter now that I have made this decision.

      Secondly, you might find it cathartic and satisfying to write a glass door review outlining all the negative things about your past job! It might help you move on.

      And finally, good luck! You sound like a wonderful person.

    26. Picky*

      Something very similar happened to me. I got fired from a job that I was great at. I had been on track to rise higher but after a reshuffle of departments my new boss spent a lot of time undermining me and eventually fired me. My boss didn’t say nobody liked me, but did tell me that I wouldn’t be any good at managing people because I didn’t have any friends outside of work. She knew nothing about my social life so not sure where she got that idea, but even if it had been true–maybe especially if it had been true–what a hideous thing to say to someone. Even though my grand-boss knew I wasn’t the problem in the situation, they let it happen and supported my firing. Since then people with no track record are getting the growth opportunities my boss was telling me I hadn’t earned. The difference is, those people don’t threaten the boss: they are straight out of school and boss will be retired before they can reach boss’ level. It took me a long time to put it together that the less valuable the staff member, the nicer my boss was to them; and the more valuable their contributions, the more my boss undermined. I am wondering if that was the dynamic for you. I landed at a much better place six weeks after being fired: more money, shorter hours, shorter commute, more responsibility. And yet… I am still angry about what happened at Toxic Old Job. Let yourself be angry. Enjoy your new job. Therapy helps. You rock.

  3. DCGirl*

    Who is else at work today? I recently started a new job and have no leave, so I’m at work along with a small but hardy band of other similarly situated employees while everyone else is off.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I’m here! I prefer to come in on this day since I don’t do the Black Friday thing (at least, in person) and I don’t travel for the holiday. It’s a nice day to catch up and get things done. I also am getting some (now, at a premium) face time with my boss because she’s here too – and I need it!

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        Me too! I enjoy working Black Friday because it’s so quiet. It also provides me with the good will to get more time off around Christmas this year. I haven’t requested more than one extra day for the EOY holidays since I’ve been at this company, so this year I’m taking the whole week between xmas and NYE.

      2. I Like Math*

        I’m here by choice as well. It’s a nice, quiet day at the office. And I don’t have to burn a vacation day. Or go shopping. Win/win/win. :)

    2. londonedit*

      Hello, British person checking in! I have a day off next week for Christmas shopping, but it’s a normal Friday for us here (despite all the Black Friday nonsense the shops all try to peddle these days).

      1. SarahKay*

        Fellow Brit here, and also at work. I’m part of an American-owned global company so most of the US teams and sites are out on leave – which means it’s been a lovely productive day as there are far fewer emails, meetings have been cancelled, etc.

    3. Just Like Bart*

      I gotta head to work in about 30 minutes. Apparently Black Friday is a hectic day at my new job (a tourist destination). I hope I survive.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      Working from home here. It’s nice to be able to get things done in a quiet environment. I had the PTO available but want to catch up on work as I’ve been spending a lot of time training a new employee.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’m here! I’ve got a long way to travel to see family, so I work over Thanksgiving and take a longer trip at Christmas, rather than breaking up my PTO. I’ve been doing this pretty constantly since I moved out on my own. So every year…. here I am.

    6. Nessun*

      Canadian checking in! Fridays are always quieter here, and it’s snowed all week, so I’m hoping to leave a little early. But all said, it’s a normal day of work (although I suspect several people will be online shopping on their breaks, looking for all the deals!).

    7. LGC*

      I’m at work!

      State contractor here, and we’re supposed to be available to the state when they’re open. So most of my team is mandated to come in.

      Coworker took off (I’m not even mad since she covers for me when I need off), but most of my employees came in, which I’m surprised by. Our other projects had a lot of call outs.

    8. Animal worker*

      I’m working too. I’m at a zoo so we’re open 363 days a year and even the two closed days (Christmas and New Year’s) we still have certain departments working shortened workdays to do animal care and other necessary tasks. If I’m not traveling I always prefer to work the holidays, they’re quiet, I can get a lot done, and I like banking the holiday day to use at a time of my choosing. And I hate Black Friday with a passion, so I’d never go out shopping with the crowds, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by being at work on what’s a regular work day for me.

    9. NB*

      I’m at work. Part of my job is answering the phone, and at least 95% of the calls today are, “are you open?”

    10. Lena Clare*

      Ha, well as a Brit I’m in work cause thanksgiving is not A Thing here. Or, more pspecifically, I’m at uni on a Friday.

      This year I have the week off of Christmas which I don’t normally do. I love being in work when other people are off; it’s so quiet as I can get loads done!

    11. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’m working from home today (just like yesterday). Not because I don’t have any PTO banked but because I didn’t have anything special to do and I’d rather save my days.

      Plus “working from home” is a million times more relaxing than getting up at 4:30 in the morning to allow time to get dressed, do morning chores (I have 8 pets), and spend an hour in traffic to get to the office by 7:30. And, because everyone else took today off, I don’t have to put on makeup or change out of my PJ’s since there won’t be any surprise video conference calls. In fact, I’m about to go make a cranberry-peach mimosa, which should take some of the drudgery out of the month-end status update reports I’m working on. :-)

    12. Fikly*

      Not at work right now, because I work the overnight shift, but I worked last night, and I’m working tonight as well. The joys of a job that requires 24/7 coverage.

    13. Stitch*

      I did a little in office today and am teleworking this afternoon. My kid’s daycare has an administrative day next week so I have to take a day off (Dad is on work travel next week). So I am working today instead.

    14. Autumnheart*

      Retail (corporate, e-commerce). You bet your patootie I’m at work! It’s a reasonably calm day, though. The site’s working, things are humming along. A couple people did take PTO for today, so I’m providing some coverage for them. They don’t adamantly forbid taking PTO today, but if you’re not taking PTO, you have to be on-site. It’s not bad, though. I treated myself to a latte, and have some hopes of management telling us we can leave a little early.

    15. LizB*

      I am, but only for about fifteen more minutes. My workplace has limited hours today. It’s been massively slow — we probably could have stayed closed, tbh.

    16. Anon Here*

      I’m self-employed and I only take a few days off per year. Working all day today. But I really enjoy what I do, so it’s fun.

    17. NoLongerYoung*

      Today is supposed to be a ” vacation” day – where we are theoretically supposed to take the day off for our office location as vacation, but our other offices/states are optional. However, I am about 20 hours behind in a (ridiculous) mandatory on-line training program, which requires clicking through screen after screen and scoring a minimum of 80% on a series of quizzes embedded at intervals. It’s all tracked, so you can’t just guess, and you can’t just let it run in the background.
      In order to qualify for my full bonus this year, I have to meet all my goals. In order to meet all my goals – you guessed it – I have to finish this training.
      So I refuse to take today / burn a vacation day, and then spend the Christmas holiday (or worse- a Saturday) taking these courses. I get paid for 40 hours a week,whether I work 60 (the norm) or 80 (the worst), so giving up an extra Saturday to them, and taking a vacation day today, just… no. I’m going to save a vacation day and have them pay me to do some of this training. I may still have to take some on a Saturday, but… at least 8 hours of it, I will get paid to take. (I know some of my coworkers have a lot less to do, because not only have they finished it, but they are taking the entire week off for vacation… sigh. The workload is not evenly balanced, or else I care too much, or both. That’s another topic for another post).

    18. Chaordic One*

      Although I had asked to have the day off, my request was denied and I spent the day at work. I felt a little bummed out because I ended up missing some good Black Friday sales, although there is a chance that they might not have actually had anything good on sale anyway. The phones at work were a bit less busy than usual, so I had time to do some housekeeping things at work and get caught up with that.

  4. Newly commenting*

    I’m doing a humanities PhD (medieval studies) and have decided not to go into academia due to family and health changes since I’ve started– long story short, I need to stay near family and I won’t realistically ever get a teaching position nearby. I’m now wondering whether or not I should finish. Outside of academia, is there a big difference between PhD or ABD when the degree doesn’t relate to the job? Does anyone care about ABD? Is it worth finishing in the next 3 years with a PhD in hand, or is that time better spent on the job market? I’m looking at editorial or administrative jobs (likely the latter, given the market in editing right now).

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t speak to whether you should finish the degree, at least for yourself but for the types of jobs you’re considering, having a PhD won’t help and will likely hurt.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        Depends on kind of editing and admin (and experience in both). Neither my employer nor some local tech companies here will hire project managers who don’t have either a PhD or considerable prior management experience. But if admin here = clerical, then yes, the Ph.D. will not be of use.

        1. lasslisa*

          The tech companies I’m familiar with aren’t going to consider a PhD in medieval studies relevant at all.

    2. Alianora*

      Hmm. I kind of think the PhD could hurt more than it could help. One of my friends is looking for someone to fill an administrative role (Program Manager at a university) and she’s getting applicants with PhDs but no admin experience. So she has two concerns:
      1. They don’t have the experience the job requires.
      2. It looks like they’re just applying to get a foot in the door at the university, and that they don’t understand what the job entails (because it is not related to their experience or research at all.)

    3. No Name Yet*

      A kind of sideways answer – could you see yourself ever being in a related field? My wife had a similar situation of knowing she didn’t want a traditional academic job, and after she finished her (medieval studies) PhD, she got a library degree – the PhD has given her more credibility in rare book librarianship.

      If you know absolutely you won’t ever look for a job related at all…I don’t know. My sense is that to a non-academic, ABD is the same as not having the degree at all (tho I’m not totally sure about that). That being said, would actually having a PhD be an asset to the other fields? I know sometimes people are seen as overqualified or others are intimidated by the degree, which can make things trickier.

      And thirdly…how will YOU feel if you finish ABD? Some people are totally fine with it, but I know other people where it would really gnaw at them to have something like that ‘unfinished’.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      I have a relative with an ABD in anthropology. She was asked to revise her dissertation (I understand this is common), and never did so.
      She ended up teaching grade school at a private school that didn’t require an actual teaching degree.
      I’m not sure how the ABD would read to strangers, but within the family it was considered a mark of giving up. She spent all that money; uprooted her family for a year to go do research abroad; spent months writing the dissertation; then wouldn’t do the revisions her advisor requested? I suspect a demonstrated lack of follow-through would not be a positive for potential employers.
      Would it be possible to finish the doctoral program part-time, while you work (or look for work)? I’ve known a number of people who completed their advanced degrees that way, but I don’t know the specific demands of your medieval studies program.

      1. Reba*

        I mean, I definitely don’t think that choosing not to finish has a moral values one way or the other. I try to remind others that quitting is always an option! But I can also understand the frustrating feeling of watching a loved one be so close and just not quite stepping over the finish line! And it definitely will read as an accomplishment in a way that ABD will not — because most people won’t even know what that means.

        I’m in an ac-adjacent job. I finished my PhD because I was funded to do so and I wanted to. I did apply and interview for some TT jobs but did not proceed that direction. I already knew, like before going into field work, that I was very likely to leave the field. And I still wanted to finish!

        But if I had *not* been funded, had a supportive and decently paid spouse, and had a great advising relationship and helpful committee and department… Then that decision could have been different.

      2. Paulina*

        Newly is talking about the dissertation taking 3 more years, though, so that’s a big difference from just not doing the revisions. (And I know some former grad students who didn’t do their revisions because the revisions turned out to be very significant and possibly beyond their abilities, so their lack of completion was a reflection on them.) Stopping when your research is significantly advanced can look like giving up, but stopping before you put all that time into something you now no longer have use for — that sounds sensible. And nobody should spend 3 years of their life pursuing what can be a very lonely, frustrating, and penury-inducing endeavour just so they don’t feel like they gave up. A PhD dissertation can be a big accomplishment and a significant statement of your abilities, but so can other things.

        Reevaluating your goals and what you need to pursue them, and acting accordingly, is wise. I wish more people who started grad programs did, sooner rather than later.

    5. Lady Jay*

      Do you mean “administrative” as in “office admin” or administrative as in university/school administration? If the latter, the PhD will help, I think; it carries a certain ethos.

      You may also consider other possible career trajectories. I’ve had friends with history PhDs go into project management, which draws on research skills; and known people with lit PhDs who go into nonprofit work. So there may be more room out there for creative jobs (if you’re interested!) than you’re thinking, where the PhD will be valued.

      Finally, I think this is a decision you need to make for yourself: Do you *want* the PhD? Will you personally regret stopping? Is this a challenge you want to set for yourself, or are you feeling meh about it? If you’re feeling meh, there’s no shame in stopping. If you really want it, though, then go for it! The PhD won’t be *that* much of a roadblock!

    6. IT Guy*

      I had never heard of an ABD designation before, had to look it up. In the sciences we just called it Mastering out. People would go for a PhD and left Masters of Science in X. This was either to take a job in the local biomed market or they just didn’t feel like staying in Academia.

      It’s definitely your call and it sounds like others in your field understand what an ABD is. Best of luck in your choices!

      1. Anonymous Career Advisor*

        Yeah, ABD is a colloquialism that denotes a student status used by institutions for administrative things like tuition, not a specific credential that attracts extra attention from employers. When I hear it, it’s almost always for one of two reasons: either the person is trying to account for a gap in their resume after the date of their last completed degree, or they’re trying to establish cred among academics. Who, sadly, are often not impressed since it’s the dissertation, not the coursework or exam fields, that’s the defining feature of the program, and because sometimes we can be jerks. It would be professionally more beneficial to use the MA (if it’s a program that awards one as part of the PhD) as the completed degree and then say something like, “I left the program two years later after realizing I wanted a change of field.”

        Newly commenting, are you happy and do you like your work? If you do, I’d nudge you toward finishing for both the joy of the scholarship and for your own sense of accomplishment. But if the answer to either of those is anything less positive, then I’d nudge you toward leaving, or at least toward taking a year off. It’s not uncommon for people to take a break partway through and explore other options, and even a year off can give you a stronger sense of what you need professionally and, more important, what you need personally.

    7. A grad student*

      It depends on the job you’re looking into… I would start looking at job postings you’re interested in and work backwards from the education requirements. Did you get a Master’s along the way? If so, you’re honestly fine just being an ABD with a Master’s. I’m looking into federal government jobs and the highest you get get with just the education requirements is basically an ABD (three years of grad school leading up to a phd). Outside of academia, people will see the Master’s and assume you stopped there. There’s no strong weight attached to the ABD title outside of academic circles (so no shame, but also no one cares you stuck out those extra years). Also, you can always come back and finish! Someone in my lab started their doctoral degree over 20 years ago and just came back recently to finish.

      Also remember that academia is a weird cult… I currently feel a lot of shame in not finishing the degrees exactly like I was supposed to, and not going into academic positions after graduating. But there’s no shame in not doing the traditional academic path! You may also be feeling some of that anticipatory regret and loss from not getting the doctorate. But I think it would be better where you’re at with your career trajectory to look for jobs and not put your career on hold any longer. When the time is right and you know there are better opportunities for teaching and research, you can always go back.

      1. Anonymous Career Advisor*

        THIS! I wish more grad students (myself included, retroactively) would ask these questions of themselves and each other. I also wish more grad programs would be forthright with their students about other paths, because the stigma of not finishing can be so strong that it drives people to stay in programs that are unhealthy (whether emotionally, professionally, or financially, or any other way).

    8. blackcat*

      If it would be three more years to finish, leave now. If you could crank out a dissertation in 12-18 months, I’d say finish. But “three more years” so easily turns into four more years, and the skills you gain writing a dissertation are often relatively narrow.

      (Note: I am in STEM, and this is my STEM-based rec, but I think it’s generic. Do you have the option of switching to a terminal masters?)

    9. Feral Humanist*

      Hi there! I am a German Studies PhD, who since finishing in 2015 has been helping other PhDs explore a range of career options. I do not agree that the PhD *if combined with other experiences such as part-time admin roles* will hurt you. For admin roles at universities, such as student advising, it will definitely help you. It is true that the degree on its own is not enough. I would recommend thinking about the following in making this decision:

      1. Are you happy in your program? Are you supported financially, academically, professionally, emotionally?
      2. Are you going into debt for the degree?
      3. Do you want to write your dissertation or does the idea fill you with dread?
      4. Can you really buckle down and get out in three years? I finished, even knowing that I would not go the academic route, but I got out as fast as possible.

      My other question/advice is this: find PhDs working in admin roles at your uni and talk to them. Build a network and find opportunities to get experience you need. This is what I did, and it served me very well.

      PS The MLA has tons of resources through Connected Academics for looking for jobs outside the academy.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        Also—are there career counselors for grad students at your uni? Increasingly, this is the case. Not all career counselors are created equal, but some of them are excellent and can definitely help. Also check out for some free self-assessment tools.

      2. Lady Jay*

        As a current PhD student, I second all of this. Feral Humanists’s five questions in particular are a great way to suss out your feelings about finishing the degree, separate from your feelings about the next step in your career, and make wise decisions accordingly.

      3. Salamander*

        This. These are such important things to consider, especially whether or not you have funding. If you have funding from the university to continue without going into debt, I would really think about continuing. I stopped with an MA in my social sciences program and often regret not going on to get a PhD.

    10. Senor Montoya*

      If you want to go into academic adjacent careers such as advising, admin (asst Dean, director of honors, director of fellowships office, that kind of thing), get actual experience in the field. The PhD by itself is not sufficient qualification, although it’s helpful once you get the job.
      I see this fairly often — “I’ll just go into academic advising!” No, no you won’t. If you don’t have experience doing the things academic advisors (or any academic adjacent workers) do, you’re going to have a very hard time getting the job. You are competing with many people with directly applicable experience.
      For some of these jobs, the education track is different, too — people have bachelors degrees in every kind of subject, but graduate degrees are most commonly at the masters level and in field like counseling, higher ed admin, and the like.
      I have a humanities PhD, but I got my job despite it, not because of it. I was told after I was hired that it put people off BUT I had a lot of experience advising, which helped me get the job.

    11. Anon Here*

      I think you should finish. It could be useful for things outside academia. You could write a book on the subject matter, work at a museum or archive . . . who knows what else. You could apply for funding and start a local museum / educational resource or something. Your area might change. Your health might change. Your family situation could change.

      But how far in are you? How much have you spent and how much would it cost to finish? What do you really want to be doing? It’s ok to leave too. Don’t feel obligated to get the degree just because you started the program. Do what makes sense for you and your life.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      If you’ve decided to not go into academia, I would get out now. Don’t waste the next 3 years on finishing a PhD that is not going to get you a job. My spouse did that, and regrets it. Also, it made it VERY hard for him to get a job in another field – everyone figured he was either going to be a professor-type, too smart for the job, that he was going to jump ship for something better, or they just couldn’t see how he would fit in. It took him 3 years to find a position, and he got it because of his hobby, not his education.

      1. PB*

        I agree. There is nothing wrong with being ABD, but I think you might regret sinking more time into finishing a degree that won’t help you land a job. You can always try to finish your dissertation later as time and inclination permit. If you were a semester from finishing, then I might say to just wrap it up, but three years is a lot of time to devote to a PhD when you know you won’t be pursuing a career in academia.

        1. Shiny*

          One note to the people saying you can always finish it later–this may not be true. I left my program while very ill, being told I could always finish later. When I was ready to return, my advisor was very ill, so I wasn’t able to proceed. I spoke with the chair of the department after that, and while she was extremely sympathetic, enough time had passed that my coursework/comps are out of date, and without an advisor pulling very strongly for me, she didn’t think the grad studies committee would make an exception for me to return. Many, many schools will have policies like this. So while it may still make sense to leave now (it did for me), you may NOT be able to finish it later.

    13. Overeducated*

      As someone who has made a similar transition, I think you should do both for now. Stay in your program so you’re not unemployed and you have some stability (assuming you’re funded, not taking out loans). Keep working at it because it can help in academic-adjacent work. But job search, do your informational interviews, do summer work or short term contracts or internships to build your resume with the work you want to do. And frankly if you’re not killing yourself to publish and do ridiculous academic job applications, you can make the time. Writing up a PhD is hard but it’s so much more flexible in terms of scheduling than a lot of other work, you can absolutely take advantage of that.
      Don’t let yourself miss out on 3 years of career development, that’s HUGE. When you get another job, then you can decide whether it’s worth finishing.

  5. DC*

    Well, I am officially unemployed as of today after leaving my job with my horrible boss. I ended up not having a chat with the GB.

    So now I’m job hunting while burned out, and with no idea of what I want to do next in life. Nothing is “calling” to me, you know? I’ll be attempting a few creative things while hunting, and seeing what options are available.

    Any advice for how to figure out what I want to do in life?

    1. LQ*

      I liked some of the principles in the Designing Your Life book. It’s imperfect but it was useful to throw a few things at me. And of course, it is likely available from your local public library, which was another surprisingly useful resource. I brushed up on some technical skills from classes offered there.

      I also had really seriously informational conversations with folks in different roles. I kind of looked like here are the 3 ways my career could go, I want to talk to people who have the job after the one I might manage to get. I also reset my expectations down a lot (not recommended but it helped for me).

      Good luck!

    2. Zona the Great*

      My personal philosophy has always been, Say Yes to Opportunities. With this mentality, I have been a dishwasher, a freight loader, a cook, a maid, a truck driver , etc. My life has been very fulfilling even if I hated one of those jobs. It just gave me so much more perspective on the world and on myself. Just take the first thing that sounds interesting and see where it leads!

      1. Millie*

        I love this mentality, and that’s how I started 2019. I’m now working at a medical marijuana dispensary. I have learned so much!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Look at things that you naturally do well. Notice I did not say look at things you like.
      If you go with things that you naturally do well at you will probably find yourself thriving in that field.
      If you need help figuring out what those things are then ask trusted friends and family what they see as your natural abilities. Typically, these would be things you take for granted. Stop taking them for granted.

    4. Autumnheart*

      I advise sprucing up your resume while your accomplishments are still fresh in your mind, then taking the weekend completely OFF. Don’t do any chores or stuff that isn’t absolutely necessary, enjoy a glass of wine while soaking in the tub, whatever you do to relax. Then approach it with fresh eyes on Monday.

    5. Fikly*

      Try things! I love volunteering for this. Try things you do not think you will like, even.

      I ended up volunteering as a Crisis Counselor. I thought I would both hate it and be terrible at it. Turns out I loved it and was pretty good at it. The skills I gained there led directly to my current job.

    6. Earthwalker*

      Yeah, volunteering! Find places where a long term commitment isn’t required and then try out new things. When you hit a group where you’re welcomed and your help is really appreciated, it’ll work wonders to help you put Toxic Job behind you and improve your spirits. Volunteer jobs can lead to a new job, or they don’t, chatting with new people there might give you a new idea, or getting your good attitude back could open your mind to new possibilities.

    7. Peep Ops*

      I currently work in a soon-to-be extremely profitable and exciting startup company who’s mission I completely love and relate to. I have been given a role that if I continue to grow into will set me up to be the HR Director for a 200+ employee company in the next two years or so which is the most direct career path to success I could imagine. I’ve been here for only 7 months and have already received a promotion and a 10% pay raise, plus I have an extremely supportive supervisor who is ready to help get me the training I need to succeed.

      Only catch is is that about 50% of the time I am miserable here. I have the job of Office Manager, all of HR, and Executive Assistant all in one, expectations for performance across the company are built intentionally unacheivable to increase overall output (meaning I’ve had a bunch of project assigned to me that have underperformed/failed to negative feedback), I’ve asked for pt help (or an intern) to help cover my overflowing workload but have been told that that won’t happen for several months/that I just need to get it done. I’ve never been in an office that has had so many people come to my room to stress cry (up to 6 different people in one week for a 45 person office) and but the underlying reasons for the anxiety/office stress are only going to get worse over time. Any changes to office culture/underlying issues I have pushed for have been met by the Executive Team with “if people can’t adapt to what we’re doing, they shouldn’t be here.”

      I don’t feel like I can cut it in this high-stress, high-failure environment and want to switch to something with better balance but am worried a career step down after only 7 months is going to effect my next job prospects/set me back career-wise. All other jobs I’ve been in have been 2-3 years tenure with changes being b/c of location move or career advancement. Anyone else been in the same situation where your path to success is lined with a future of failure, stress, and anxiety? Did you just cope and or back out and was it worth it?

      1. Peep Ops*

        Accidentally posted this here as a reply instead of an individual thread comment – see at bottom for actual comment; mea culpa!

    8. Anon the Third*

      Yes to all the volunteering suggestions! A mental exercise I found useful in figuring out what I wanted to do in life was to sit down and really think about what I would do if I won the lottery, one of the whoppers. The super-rich are often so insane-seeming because they have no real goals, nothing to work towards. If you didn’t have to worry about money or the opinions of others, what goal would you set for yourself to keep from turning crazy? Would you write a novel? Run a museum? Take up extreme marathoning? Try to cure cancer? Get involved in politics?

    9. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Try focusing on the features, not the field, of the job. In other words, things like meaningful work that’s challenging but not crushing, opportunities to learn and grow, competent and kind people to work with (especially but not only your boss), good pay and benefits, not overly long hours and a short commute.

      In other words, do things for good money in a setting that you like, and maybe some love will follow.

      Career expert Marty Nemko swears by this advice. He points out that (1) subjective passion/”calling” tends to follow objective success and (2) classic glamour jobs have so much competition you typically work for peanuts while racing a treadmill if not suffering outright abuse. If you’re really thinking of the latter…you can buy infinitely cheaper lottery tickets closer to home.

      What Not So NewReader said. Start with things you do well (not just what turns you on or you even think you do well — Dunning-Kruger).

      Finally, if you’re burned out and not financially desperate try Autumnheart’s advice. You may need a short rest.

      Good luck, DC!

  6. Amber Rose*

    I’m so stressed that my stomach hurts. D:

    My audit starts next week. They changed everything and I’m so scared I’m not ready.

    Apparently one of our higher ups wants to do layoffs (which makes me mad because we literally just hired people.)

    I may have crossed a weird line with my boss? Like, she looked really tired, so I asked if she was having a rough day, and then she started to cry, so I shut the door behind me and made her talk to me about it because I instantly went into like, “person I think is nice is crying” mode and sort of forgot she was my boss for a sec. But maybe that was the wrong thing to do? Was that an overstep? What IS the right reaction to suddenly sobbing boss?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Making her talk to you crossed the line, I think. You could have said “I’m here to listen if you want to talk about it” instead.

      1. Amber Rose*

        That’s more or less what I meant. I can’t make anyone do anything, but my intent to offer an ear came out of my mouth as “Talk to me” and I felt like maybe that was too pushy but I’m not awesome in a pinch.

    2. Alianora*

      You “made” her talk to you about it? What does that mean? If you were as forceful as that sounds, yes, overstep. Not just because she’s your boss, but because forcing any coworker to explain why they’re crying is crossing a line imo.

      If it was more like you comforted her and let her vent/talk things through with you, that’s different.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Well, “made” is a little strong. I shut the door because my first thought was she didn’t want everyone walking by to see/hear her crying, though in hindsight that was probably pushy, and then I sat down and said, “Hey, talk to me.” Like, in a sympathetic way, not a pushy way. Or at least that’s how I meant it.

        If she had told me to leave or said it was nothing, I would’ve left, but she did talk about it so I stayed. After that mostly I just sat and agreed with her that things are super shitty right now and tried to make her laugh because that’s like my default and only strategy for crying people.

        1. Bluebell*

          It seems like you did the right thing at the moment, but you should probably be careful not to let it become a pattern. I hope things get better there!

        2. Observer*

          This sounds fine. Being professional is all good and fine, but there is a time and place for everything and when someone starts crying “being professional” is not the most important thing (unless you are a therapist with a client.)

          1. Lucky black cat*

            It’s not good for therapists either! They’re meant to be humans in a room with another human!

        3. LQ*

          I think you’re likely fine. The only thing I’d say is be careful not to treat her like glass after this. It can be something that folks do out of compassion (and it sounds like you are compassionate), but it can be really difficult when someone treats you that way to break them of that habit. So just treat her like you normally would after this and I think you can get back to solid footing quickly.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yup – act like nothing happened going forward. Your boss is probably very embarrassed, so you don’t want to dwell on this and make her uncomfortable.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I assume she’s not prone to tears so the best thing to do was being compassionate with her. It doesn’t matter that she’s the boss or your assistant, when you see something out of the ordinary, approaching it isn’t wrong.

      If they’re talking about layoffs I would wonder if that’s in play. I had to lock myself into the backroom while dealing with that rollercoaster. I can imagine accidentally bursting in front of someone.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not an overstep. You are fine.

      A family member did this years ago with her boss.
      She found herself in a situation where the boss she HATED was going to end her own life.

      My family member brought in resources and gave her things that she could check into for help.
      It worked. The boss got help.
      While the boss did not get much nicer, my family member did finally understand her boss. And the boss did show a little more respect to my family member.

    5. AnonForReasons*

      “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is every wasted.” – Aesop
      It sounds like what you did was an act of kindness. I have been the crying boss, and compassion from an employee was absolutely okay.

  7. Anon_For_This*

    Is there a gender-neutral honorific I should use in English? I’m working to make sure I am inclusive when I refer to people and I’m trying to figure out how to handle situations where I usually use “ma’am” or “sir”. Is there some equivalent that would work?

    Note that I think I’m usually pretty good at referring to people in terms that they identify as. I was raised with ma’am and sir and so I default to those in polite conversation. I’m trying to train myself out of that, but I wasn’t sure if there were other words I could use for gender-neutral people or for people that don’t identify as any gender. I want to make sure I get it right and I know the commenters here have great suggestions on most things.


      1. Laika*

        One of my co-workers uses a random, rotating pool of works to refer to people and I think it’s hilarious. I got “peanut”, “mammal”, and I think “squid” recently, and every time it makes me chuckle.

        1. Amber Rose*

          That just makes me think of that whole, “hey friend; I’m not your friend, pal; I’m not your pal, buddy; I’m not your buddy, champ” etc.

          1. Massive Dynamic*

            And now we observe a moment of silence for all the Reddit threads that have devolved into this.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Neither are really necessary in English. You can just as easily say “excuse me” as you can say “excuse me, sir.”

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, this kind of address doesn’t exist in my language and while I can see situations where it’s useful, it isn’t necessary and I personally don’t think I’ve ever felt like I was missing something in not being able to use it.

      2. Anon Here*

        It depends on where you are! To generalize, honorifics are standard and expected in the southeastern US but not the rest of the country. However, there are other pockets of sir/ma’am in the US, and probably parts of the southeast where it isn’t done as much. It seemed to be pretty common in Maine because of the French influence and cultural ties to Louisiana. It’s an interesting topic.

        I think gender-neutral people from sir/ma’am regions would be best qualified to answer this question. I suspect the default is to drop the honorifics, but there could be other options.

        1. Managing to get by*

          And the “Maine Justice” skit on Saturday Night live now *almost* makes sense to me…

        2. Maineah*

          Actually, Mainers (of which I am one) rarely use sir or ma’am. It comes across as snide or sarcastic here because we tend toward the New England informal. Police are the only ones who use it regularly. (As in “Sir, do you know how fast you were going?”)

    2. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      “excuse me” works if you are trying to get someone’s attention. But it can be easier for people to ignore then a panicked ma’am or sir (when people forget stuff on the counter and I’m running after them). Technically Sir is sometimes gender neutral, that’s more the exception to the rule. (I’ve only really ever seen this in books, where someone with a higher rank is referred to as sir regardless of their gender)
      Otherwise, unless they’ve indicated a prefference, not as far as I know.

      1. AnonForReasons*

        I saw it on “Star Trek: Voyager” where Captain Kathryn Janeway was occasionally referred to as “Sir”.

      2. Penny Parker*

        I was told by a female police officer that it is correct to call any police person “Sir” as it is short for officer. Not sure of the correctness of that, but it is what I was told by one who should know.

        1. Reliquary*

          The police officer is completely incorrect. “Sir” is derived from the word “sire,” meaning “lord.” The origin is the Latin “senior,” meaning older or higher in rank.

          “Officer,” on the other hand, has its origin in the Latin “officium,” which means “duty,” and “officiarus,” meaning “one who performs a duty.”

        2. fhqwhgads*

          My understanding is it is common among police to refer to senior officers of any gender as “sir”, but the person who said that to you is wrong about the origin of/reasoning for that practice.

    3. Laika*

      Hmm, I’m actually not sure if there is one! In writing, Mx. is a thing I’ve seen (and actually think is kind of cool) but spoken, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything singular that doesn’t sound too archaic or downright weird.

      Would it help to note the situations you tend to use ma’am/sir most often, like greetings or partings, and work on substituting in different phrases there? That’s not exactly what you’re asking for, but if you can work on saying “Good afternoon!” instead of “Hello ma’am!” then you’ve managed to phase it out anyway.

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        For group, I like cohort.. Once I had a regular customer and I didn’t know if his SO was just a friend or what title used, and I hadn’t seen her in a while, and my brain fumbled for words. So I asked how his cohort was. He knew what I meant, and I think he loved my use of cohort. (I’ve only had one person not like it, because they thought cohort=minion)

    4. I am the only one at work*

      There isn’t one to replace sir/maam, but if you want, you could use Mx, which is a gender-neutral title (pronounced Mix).

      1. Mbarr*

        Caveat: This thread (and the comment above) is the first time I’ve seen Mx described, let alone pronounced. So if you adopt it, there’s a chance the other person wouldn’t know it either. (Which just goes to show that it should probably be used more…)

        2nd Caveat: I work in the tech industry in Canada, so many this particular term hasn’t arrived here yet?

        1. I am the only one at work*

          It’s definitely very niche. The downside of it is that it can sound a lot like “Miss”. The upside is that if you are addressing someone who prefers to be ungendered in speech, it’s likely they *have* heard of it.

      2. Earthwalker*

        People in the US who still demand honorifics are generally traditional enough that generic titles like Mx or even Ms would be frowned upon. So in writing I open with “Hello,” if I’m writing to an official and I don’t have any idea who holds the office. If I want to be painfully formal it’s “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern,” which are technically correct if awfully antiquated. If I know that the person’s name is “Dale Smith” but I don’t know if Dale is a man or a woman, married or unmarried, I’d go with the familiar “Dear Dale” and no honorific, which is generally acceptable in the US. If they’d consider that objectionable I figure it’s up to them to assume that I meant well and politely set me straight: “I’d prefer Mrs. Smith.” Then I would use that title in the next message.

    5. mlk*

      In the fantast/science fiction community, I’ve heard “gentlebeing” but that likely would just get you funny looks in the general community.

      If this is happening when you’re thanking someone, and “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough, you could try something like, “Thank you. I appreciate it.”

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      I was just having a similar discussion with a co-worker of mine. He moved to the US from China ~5 years ago. Our conversation — which was online — went like this:

      Me: “Who was the person sitting next to so-and-so at the meeting today?”

      Him: “She’s the new girl in GBS, Shelby.”
      Him, immediately: “I mean, the new LADY. I shouldn’t say girl.”

      Me: “Or, you could drop both and just say ‘woman’. Or you could drop the gender identification entirely and just say ‘That’s the new GBS person, Shelby.'”

      Him: “But then how would I indicate if the person is a man or a woman?”

      Me: “You wouldn’t. It’s not relevant.”

      1. lasslisa*

        Communicating someone’s pronouns actually is very useful because English calls for pronouns very often and you don’t want people to fill in assumptions. “She’s the new GBS person” would have some nicely, for example.

        Chinese has non-gendered pronouns, so slips between “he” and “she” are fairly common for Chinese ESL speakers, and it’s probably something he’s had to pay pretty close attention to.

    7. Reliquary*

      “Folks” for more than one person is the common default. In a more formal setting, I use “honored guests.” A friend uses “Gentlefolks.”

      In situations when you’re saying a word or a brief phrase to just one person, just say “please” or “thank you” instead of “ma’am” or “sir.” An example of this is “Excuse me, please.” Another is “Yes, thank you.”

      I also use “comrade,” but only among friends, or to intentionally undermine hierarchies.

      1. Kuododi*

        I’m in SE USA and have lived in various stages in SE most of my adult life. My default term for groups is “Y’all.” (As in “Y’all come on in….can I get some sweet tea for everybody?)

        Giggle -snort!!! At least noone has been so tacky as to speculate on my “IQ” because of my Southern accent! At least if they are…they have sense enough to do so within my earshot.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve used (and heard used) ‘thank you, friend’…but only when they are. Also “OK boss”…when they are. In some contexts with a group of any/mixed gender, you can use ‘folks’ (think “A Chorus Line” when the director is talking to all dancers at once.) At Ren Faire, it’s not uncommon to hear “good gentles…” but it’s intentionally archaic.
      For a stranger in modern context this New Yorker usually sticks with “thank you very much” and “excuse me, thanks.”

    9. Been Around The Block*

      In e-mail I often begin with “Good Morning,” or, “Good Afternoon,” which works well when addressing almost anybody.

      In my area (higher education business office) it is common for people sensitive to such things to state in the signature block of their correspondence the pronouns by which they wish to be addressed. Here is an example:

      University of [Redacted]
      [Street Address]
      [City, State]

      If a person has given you no guidance about this, I would do what you have likely always done and guess whether the individual is a sir or a ma’am, and assume that if you guess wrong they’ll likely correct you.

  8. Amethyst*

    I had to cancel an interview I had scheduled after work on Monday. Never done it before & I’m pretty sure the person is gonna ghost me. Long story short, I had a phone interview for a job 15-20 minutes away from me & agreed to an in-person interview. The email confirmation I received was for a town close to 40 minutes away. I don’t drive (I’m the commenter with GAD from this past weekend’s open thread). City bus = 2 hours one way there (interview was for an hour after the end of my shift), & Uber/Lyft was close to $50 total. Since my budget is extremely tight, I couldn’t swing that. Everyone I contacted who usually can help with trips like this couldn’t do it, so I had to cancel. :(

    Then, upon googling the company to figure out the reason for the discrepancy in locations & the odd request for proof of my US citizenship, I learned it was a recruiting/staffing agency that would be interviewing me, not the company itself. This wasn’t explained to me during the initial phone call. Is this how recruiters normally operate? I’m left with a bit of a sour taste over them hiding what they do.

    I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving/Thursday yesterday!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yes, this is pretty standard SOP for recruiting agencies. Did they identify themselves during the phone call as a staffing agency? I can easily see how there may be confusion, especially if the staffing company is very well known (Robert Half, Aerotek, etc.) they may have assumed you knew who they were. The person you spoke with did a poor job of explaining how the process works as they should’ve asked you if you’ve worked with a staffing agency before.

      1. Amethyst*

        They didn’t tell me they were a staffing agency at all. The company is Creative Financial Staffing. FWIW, the original posting (the one I’d actually submitted my resume for) was for a job even closer to me, so I was even more confused when they mentioned [different town] instead.

        I know now that I’ll be googling company names before I submit an application to avoid a repeat of this situation. Sigh.

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          Yeah; they should have been much more upfront with you about the fact that they weren’t the actual company and that they were in a different town.

          But I am highly amused they are called Creative Financial Staffing. I mean creative finances aren’t a good thing.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Right! Lol. Hopefully they just mean they place financial people at creative organizations like arts orgs/non-profits because otherwise…

    2. Gaia*

      I would actually be pretty upset if they weren’t very upfront that they are a staffing agency. That’s a pretty standard thing to discuss and should have been clear.

  9. RPCV Fiji*

    Does anyone have experience with Federal job hunting? I have recently finished Peace Corps service and I would like to use my non-competitive eligibility to get into civil service. I have already finished my Masters but don’t have a ton of relevant work experience.

    I would love to get advice about federal resumes and/or networking to learn about open positions outside of USAjobs. Is it worth it to move to DC without a job lined up?

    1. OperaArt*

      Federal jobs exist in most major US cities. Unless you specifically want to move to DC, or the field you’re interested in requires such a move, maybe you can find something elsewhere.

    2. Reba*

      Agree with the above that federal doesn’t necessarily mean DC! I wouldn’t move here sans job, it’s punishingly expensive and the fed hiring process can be loooooong.

      USA jobs is it, unless PC has its own board. Educate yourself about NCE, I believe you only have it for a year. And educate yourself about your fed job goals — it might surprise you what kinds of positions can feed into the kind of roles you want to get eventually.

      There is lots of advice and boards out there about USA jobs application
      methodology, but it would probably be good to look for help from PC office or RPCV networks on how to apply PC service to the USA jobs process.

      good luck!

    3. AnonFed*

      I can’t speak for other agencies, but I have participated in hiring in my agency. You must apply through USAJobs, but the resume/cover letter are standard. I think USAJobs gives you the option to use a Monster resume and do NOT use this. It is awful and sends a message that you don’t care about the job. Tailor your cover letter/resume for every job. PC is great! It sends a message you care about public service.

      1. Not All*

        This is so insanely incorrect for most federal agencies it’s terrifying. If you use a standard 2 page resume for a federal application about the only jobs you stand a chance at are the “we will hire any warm body that passes the background check” like canvassers for the Census. Professional jobs with most Departments that will get you an automated letter from HR that you didn’t meet the minimum qualifications.

        There seem to threads on this topic almost every Friday. I’d suggest using the search this site tool since it’s likely to be quiet today and even those of us who are reading aren’t necessarily going to have time to retype it all.

        1. AnonFed*

          I don’t know what to tell you, but your advice is dead wrong for my agency, an admin screens to make sure applicants meet the minimum requirements (a certain degree is required) but at my job a team of supervisors reads each and every resume and cover letter for someone who has the required degree. So it is exactly the same as everywhere else.

          1. AnonFed*

            I will note that because we require a specific advanced degree the standards may be higher. But we have a very rigorous standard with a standard form filled out for each applicant.

            1. DCR*

              Are you an attorney? Because attorney hiring is exempt from the competitive process and very different than the rest of government hiring.

        2. A grad student*

          I’m not sure how you’re disagreeing with AnonFed. They just said not to use a Monster resume template for the USAJobs site. I think they were just saying it’s standard to include a cover letter and resume.

          1. AnonFed*

            That’s why I am confused. The monster resume is borderline unreadable. Some people had their high school fast food jobs on it too.

            I suppose maybe you through spaghetti at the wall to get through the filter (if one is used, we don’t use one) but at some point someone is going to have to read your resume.

            Fed hiring really is no different from other hiring. Tailor your resume for the job, write a good cover letter. If asked to respond to a narrative pay close attention to the instructions (people blatantly would just write other stuff) and proofread everything.

    4. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      Federal jobs are all over the US. There’s no need to move to DC. So I would definitely advise against that. Also, you must apply via USAJOBS. You have the option to use their online format or upload your own resume. I would opt for uploading your own resume. The online option is terrible. A piece of advice, be verbose. Keeping it short and sweet when applying for a federal job does not apply. Mirror the vocabulary in the job advertisement. I am not sure how much energy you should put into a cover letter. I usually don’t bother submitting one and I have had no issues getting jobs (I move about every 2.5 years) and I’m on the high end of the federal food chain. Good luck.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve applied for only one federal job, so I don’t have a ton of tips to share, but here’s my experience.

      I was working for a bank that was shut down by the regulator, and the people from that agency were there winding things down. I decided to apply to that agency for a bank examiner role and they gave me some good tips for the application process.

      Their biggest tip was to tailor the resume for the job to which I was applying, making sure to use lots of key words from the job listing to describe each job I held and how it tied into the job requirements, and to make sure I addressed every single requirement. They all said that applicants’ resumes are scored by the use of key words and that’s how they decide who gets an interview. Also, extra points are awarded for things like being a veteran or disabled. Another thing is that the resume should be more of a narrative and list starting and ending salary for each job I’ve held, and that the standard two-page maximum that’s been drilled into most of our heads doesn’t apply when applying to most federal jobs.

      In the end, my resume was seven pages long. It was a grueling process and I was working on it right up until the application deadline. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an interview. The bright side to this is that I now have a narrative about my career and I can use that resume as a source when I’m brushing up my regular resume for job searches. The other bright spot is figuring out after the fact that I would have been absolutely miserable in that job, so it was a blessing in disguise to not get an interview.

    6. MKM*

      Seconding the advice of others to use keywords, and address the “relevant experience” section directly, even if you have to stretch a bit. As a hiring manager, I like to see a cover letter that emphasizes the ability of a Peace Corps member to “get things done”. I don’t need a well dug or local goods marketed, but talking to laborers and government, and putting in long hours without complaint are all transferable skills.

  10. Laika*

    I posted about this in the Thanksgiving thread, so hope it’s okay I put it here too!

    A brand-new role opened up in our department that I’m really interested in. The work is actually a lot of stuff I’ve been doing independently as quality-of-life improvement stuff, so the idea of a formalized position where I could focus more on doing just those things sounds great. Our department is pretty technical but the staff don’t actually need technical knowledge to do the job, and the role is doing a lot of testing/research/learning about up-and-coming stuff in our field, and that all sounds really exciting to me. (It’s also badly needed, because it’s a field that moves quickly and if they get too stagnant then they could become obsolete very quickly!)

    I interviewed, then yesterday they offered me the position. The details I got: it comes with longer hours, eliminating my three-day weekends, more responsibility in terms of availability and troubleshooting for the department, and… no pay raise? Just a title change? And I would still be doing quite a bit of my current job in addition to the new work. They said they would review the position in six months and then address a raise if one is warranted. On top of that, I’m still operating at the base wage of a new hire, so I’d be making less than peers doing my original role while doing much more specialized work in (as far as I can tell) is so far a very badly-defined position.

    I’m so thankful I didn’t answer on-the-spot, because… that’s preposterous, right? I told my department head that I would have reservations about taking on extra work without an associated raise and he mentioned that since I would be cutting back on my current duties, I would be earning less income for the company (…) and apparently they’re fine with that justification. I can see from their perspective it’s a “risk”, in case the role doesn’t work out, but even so why should I be responsible for taking on 100% of the burden of that risk?? Gah!

    It’s a very small organization and he reports directly to the CEO so any further negotiations will go through him directly. Of course they don’t have any real HR. When I’d asked for more compensation he said he’d get back to me on Monday, so I’m trying not to stew in frustration until then. Grateful for any feedback/scripts/insight on this, since I genuinely would like to take the role but need to go in on Monday armed with a watertight case. (Obviously I already know that it’s garbage and their methods are garbage; job searching is not off the table, but something I would prefer not to have to jump to directly.)

    1. ksm*

      That is, indeed, preposterous. Your equivalent pay-per-hour would be decreasing.

      “I am unwilling to increase my working hours by X% without an increase in pay. If you think the position has enough value to create it, it has financial worth as well, even if I am no longer directly ‘making income’ for the company.”

      1. Laika*

        Since I’m waged, I’m not positive I can get away with the first bit, but I do like the language and suggestion in the second half.

    2. CM*

      I think the most relevant question is whether you’ll be getting paid the same as other people who hold this new position rather than whether you’re getting more than people in your old position. Depending on the org structure, sometimes there are multiple roles that are essentially in the same pay band and at the same level, but just involve different job duties. I have made lateral moves into roles like that before where my pay stayed the same but my job duties changed. The only time it was a problem for me was when I found out I was getting less than other people in the new role — I think that’s the thing to focus on.

      1. Laika*

        Well, they’re just creating the one position, so there’s nothing to compare it to, but there are similarly-titled roles in the department (“x lead”) that office rumour says are better paid but I don’t know for certain.

    3. Mazzy*

      I think it depends if you’re getting any meaningful experience out of it and how intense your current job is. I personally wouldn’t do it because I can’t, but I know some positions don’t have enough work to fill the day, or the work is boring or routine, and if that’s the case, it might make sense. The main thing sticking out to me is:

      “I’m still operating at the base wage of a new hire, so I’d be making less than peers doing my original role while doing much more specialized work in (as far as I can tell) is so far a very badly-defined position.”

      This tidbit almost offers more ammo to ask for a raise now. How long have you been there? How are you still on the entry-level rate at this point?

      1. Laika*

        I actually had that conversation too! Since they offer raises based on worked time, I’m not scheduled to “have that conversation” (sic) until mid-December. Which is similarly ridiculous, in my opinion, since they’re entrusting me with a brand new role but still don’t want to give a raise I’m theoretically scheduled to get in, like, two weeks.

        But in the end, I would be getting meaningful experience out of it that I would find really interesting and exciting – things like educational opportunities (albeit HIGHLY niche in our tiny field) and novel new projects. And I really want to do that! But not for… basically less money.

    4. Autumnheart*

      If I understand correctly, you currently work 4 days a week, and with this new position, you’d be working 5? With no raise? That’s a 20% pay cut to do significantly more work. No way.

      1. Laika*

        Since I’m waged and not on salary, I would still be getting paid for the extra hours! So not a pay cut, but those 3-day weekends are definitely a notable perk of the job.

    5. animaniactoo*

      “Yes, I would be cutting back on my current duties, but I would still be doing more work and have a higher level of responsibility, which are both things of significant value, even if there is not a direct monetary correlation. My understanding is that the position adds long-term worth to the company’s future success.”

      Also – market research. What do similar jobs pay in other companies? Market rate for the position is the strongest argument you can bring to the table.

      “Other companies value this work at ________ for similar types of positions. I am reluctant to take it on without something that is closer to market value for the work.”

      1. animaniactoo*

        Sorry – in the first para, end of the first sentence, change that to “not a direct income correlation”.

    6. LGC*

      Okay, so it’s not QUITE as bad as it looked at first. I was going to ask if you were hourly or salary (in US terms), but it seems as if you’re paid by the hour. So, in effect, you’re being offered more hours right now and they’ll adjust your rate later. Maybe.

      In this case it’s a bit less clear cut as to whether to turn it down – you’ll see a significant bump in your paycheck, but at the cost of some quality of life (no steady three day weekends). It seems as if you’ll still be doing some of your current work, but perhaps less of it (or the additional tasks will add up to the extra day of work). I would weigh the pros and cons – is going to full time worth it for you?

      Plus, does the increase in hours come with other benefits? From the language you used, you’re probably not from the United States, so it likely matters less, but it’s still a consideration. (American here, and FT employees at my job are eligible for holiday pay and more PTO. PT are just eligible for what the state mandates.)

  11. Shimmeringstar*

    Hi, everyone!
    I have a question for everyone. I work retail, and I’m interested in advancing to full-time management and transfer out of sales associate that I’ve been doing for 6 years. I recently applied to a job, and I thought I had the qualifications down. The job ad said they’re interested in people with two-three year’s sales experience but no management experience required. I got a call from the store manager to come in that day for an interview, and I said yes. I come to the interview, and when the store manager leads me to the stock room, she says that corporate changed the qualifications for all the management positions. This position now requires 2-3 years’ management experience.
    I understand that when one is interested in transferring out of sales to a key holder position, management will most likely want management experience. Also, I do realize job ads don’t always specify the requirements.
    Anyway, let me talk more about this strange interview experience. I give the SM a confused look and ask why she wanted to interview me for this position when I don’t have the experience. I add that she wasn’t obligated to interview me, and I would rather have a rejection e-mail stating I didn’t meet the job requirements.
    The SM said she wanted to get to know me. Then the SM proceeds to pick apart my resume that she has in her hands and asks me questions regarding my past retail experience. The SM doesn’t ask me questions related to the job or how I handle customer service.
    Then the strangest words come out of her mouth. The SM says to me that she’s not only rejecting me for not having management experience, but the store is too small for me to operate in, I can’t manage a store this size unlike her, I shouldn’t apply for this position again until I have 2-3 years management experience, I’m not pretty enough to be a manager, I would never be a successful manager unlike her, and she doesn’t hire people to be managers under 30 years (I’m 24).
    Can anyone explain what does it mean when someone says a store is too small for you to operate? I asked my current employers (they know I’m looking to leave because the company is doing poorly) this question and they said they never heard that. They only heard about being told when a store is too big for someone, not too small.

    1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      If this is a chain store, I would contact someone hire up over this. What she’s saying to you is completely unprofessional (even for retail, though not surprising given it’s retail).

      Good luck in getting a management possition

    2. NaoNao*

      It doesn’t make really any sense to me! My guess is that she might have meant that because the store is small, it’s going to only have really limited staff and you would have to wear a lot of hats and know everything, because there wouldn’t be people to lean on for help and advice. …maybe? The other thing I can think of would be if there’s a very small staff in small quarters, you have to really get along. If she felt you weren’t a match in some way, that might be her very odd way of putting it.

    3. Observer*

      I wouldn’t worry about what she meant – she’s a jerk and not making any sense anyway.

      If you want to spend the energy, I would suggest you contact whoever is in charge of their HR. “I’m not pretty enough to be a manager,” is a line that will make any halfway decent HR professional have a fit. They may not personally care, but that’s lawsuit material right there.

    4. Ey-not-Cy*

      She said you weren’t PRETTY enough? and too young? Um, she has issues with major biases and someone above her needs to be told about them. Haven’t this been talked about before on this site? Sounds like sexism and ageism (in reverse). Be glad you didn’t get the job under her.

    5. JJackz*

      Anyone who says ” I’m not pretty enough to be a manager” is not a good manager, or a rational manager, and this statement pretty effectively discounts everything else she said about the position. The store being too small for you to manage sounds like a pile of bull poop. I’d honestly question if you want to work for someone as unreasonable as that SM. With six years retail experience, you may quite easily find a management position elsewhere that would consider you at least somewhat qualified. Or you may have to look for a key holder/team leader position first, as a step up the ladder towards management. But please don’t listen to this awful, sexist, shallow SM.

    6. Princesa Zelda*

      Yeah, she’s bad at managing and probably a general piece of work and you’ve dodged quite the bullet. My best guess at what she actually means by “too small a store for you to manage” is that it’s a catty back-stabby environment and you are coming from a reasonably well-run bigger establishment.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This person is a pile of trash and gets no power to speak about your qualifications. Some people are snobs and awful to their core. Not pretty enough? Good thing managers don’t need to be “pretty enough”, you’re not interviewing to be a model FFS.

      I would a

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Efing phone.
        “I would alert HQ/corporate over how she spoke to you and her focus on your appearance and age. Those are unacceptable to speak of.”

    8. LGC*

      Can anyone explain what does it mean when someone says a store is too small for you to operate?

      It means you dodged a major bullet of toxicity.

      To take her literally (which IMO I don’t think you should), she might have meant that you would do better in a bigger store managing a department and that the setting might be too intimate for you (think Forever 21 vs. – say – a Journeys, which is what this sounds like). But in the context given, it sounds like she was just out to insult you in whatever way possible, which I think says nothing about you and everything about her.

      Good luck on your search! Don’t listen to a word she said – easier said than done, but nothing she said is reasonable or true. (Including, I suspect, the part about corporate changing the standards.)

    9. TooTiredToThink*

      So, speaking as someone who is plus-size, my first thought was that she thought you were literally too big for the store (to be fair, I’ve been in a couple of stores that because I am plus size have felt claustrophoic; like I really want to get the fire marshall in there and be like – are these aisles *actually* meeting minimum requirements, cause I don’t think so – I’m big but not that big) but I think if you are also plus-size you would have picked up on that too… So I really hope my initial reaction is very wrong.

      1. Shimmeringstar*

        Thanks for your replies everyone. I’m not plus size. The SM is. I work out 5 days a week doing cardio and weight training.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Some retail managers belief that the differences between a large store and a small store are enough to devalue a person’s work experience if they only have large store experience.

      In a very modest example, a former large store employee might not be aware or accepting of the idea that they have to take a turn at bringing the trash out to the dumpster. Large store employers probably have someone who goes around and gets everyone’s garbage for them.
      For those not aware, additionally, taking garbage out to the dumpster is a huge security problem. Because of course, every employee is packing merchandise into the garbage bag and passing the merchandise to a friend waiting outside at the dumpster. Every employee! All the time!
      [Maybe if they paid people a living wage, they wouldn’t need a side gig. Just sayin’.]

      There are many other examples, such as vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and so on. Smaller stores expect people to do a wider variety of tasks without objection or reminders.

      Anyway this woman was a total snob and you dodged a bullet.

  12. De Minimis*

    Been covering some of the CFO duties these last couple of weeks. Not a lot involved, really, mainly just approving things in the system and making sure people have access to petty cash and gift cards that we use for program participants [non-profit health/social services organization.] Our new accounting manager starts next month. I’ve already heard that they are pretty hands-off and more of a technical person than a manager. They held the position a few years ago, and were offered it again once the writing was on the wall for my previous boss.

    Our previous manager was fired a month ago for various things [mainly offensive comments and just not working well with their department or with other people.] I was really underutilized and not happy. We’ve done well this last month with having me handle a lot of the intermediate work. I’m worried that when the new manager starts they may go back to having the workflow be the way it used to be. I’m going to try to advocate for myself if that happens.

    Would like to finally make it long enough to get fully vested at a job, something I haven’t been able to do over the last seven years!

    1. Mazzy*

      What is the old workflow your referring to? I think the info you wrote so far sounds like an intriguing question but I think you left out some information. You gave examples of administrative work you are doing, but nothing higher level, and then say the previous CFO left because of interpersonal skills and not because of work quality, specifically anyways. So what are the “old ways” your afraid the new manager will revert back to? And are their parts of the job you are interested in retaining? Or do you just have a feeling that you’re doing the job better than average, and feel that the work is going to suffer again?

      1. De Minimis*

        The previous manager created this bottleneck where she had to approve and review every single thing that happened, and this really messed up our efficiency. We’ve also found out that there actually were some work quality issues with the previous manager that she was hiding. She also refused to share information, or to cross train anyone. When I interviewed for the position, I was told I was going to be helping to manage some of our grants, only to be told at my six month evaluation that she didn’t want to do that after all.

        My concern is the new manager will have a similar process where she’ll be handling everything other than the most elementary items, and I’ll be back to where I was, basically doing accounting clerk work. I’m hoping to show that I can take over a lot of the functions permanently, but I think the fundamental problem may be that we don’t really need both my position and the manager position. I can probably cruise along in this job indefinitely, but I’d rather feel fully engaged at work.

        1. HA2*

          Yeah, that pattern of approving every tiny little thing manually, refusing to share information or crosstrain, are red flags of poor management. If you get a good new manager, they won’t be like that.

          Of course, there’s many managers out there that aren’t good at managing (hence every other letter to AAM), so if you’re not lucky you’ll get another dud.

          1. Pip*

            One person hogging all the financial work and refusing to let anyone else get involved is also a red flag for embezzlement and fraud, just sayin’…

  13. Still Looking*

    I’ve been looking for a year and still no offers. I wanted to leave this job coz I’ve asked for mentorship, for more responsibilities so I will learn and they shut me down. I’ve also recently found out I’m making way less than everyone else, I know I should make less than them but didn’t know it’s that big of a difference. I’ve been feeling so low since.
    I’ve applied to jobs different from my expertise just to get in those bigger organizations that may offer growth opportunities, and eventually get back on my career track. If I can just tell them, please take me! lol!

    1. SarahKay*

      That sounds miserable for you, both the job hunting and the current job. I do know what it feels like to feel under-paid, it can really eat away at you.
      Sorry, I don’t know what level you’re working at, or how experienced in the work-world you are / where you are in your career so the following advice may or may not be useful – ignore it if it’s not:
      In terms of getting more responsibilities, are you a total rock-star with your existing responsibilities? And by rock-star, I don’t just mean good at the duties, but also easy to interact with – cheerful, polite, and obliging when appropriate i.e. not a doormat, but helpful if someone’s totally slammed and you have a little spare capacity, that sort of thing. If so, you may find extra responsibilities will gradually come to you organically from co-workers. If you’re not a rock-star, try and aim for it. In my experience a competent cheerful co-worker is going to be the first person to be given more advanced stuff to do, or training on the new system, etc.
      Good luck!

  14. Bilateralrope*

    This week, something in our roster/timesheet software decided that the shift change from a coworkers shift to my shift happened 15 minutes earlier than it was scheduled for. So I got paid for that instead of my coworker.

    I told my coworker about it and he decided it wasn’t worth the effort to get it fixed for only 15 minutes of wages. When the only effort needed on his part is sending one email and my employer will fix it.

    Are there any downsides to me staying quiet on this ?
    If I assume my coworker will stay quiet, the only way I can see my employer finding out is if they decide to go through the paper logbook or camera footage for this site, checking them against the records of our timesheet system. Which seems unlikely.

    1. Stephanie*

      Hmm. If I were you, I’d probably send that email myself. It’s not a good look for you if it ever is discovered, and it seems like a pretty big risk for a small amount of money. You don’t want to look like someone who has no problem being dishonest.

    2. Laura H.*

      Honesty is a good idea. Maybe address that you talked to coworker about it (maybe ask coworker to be there to verify?) There may be a protocol in place for this, or repercussions if this stuff isn’t mentioned.

      At the very least, I’d want to know about the glitchy software.

    3. Observer*

      The downside is if your employer gets audited this could come up and you could wind up in trouble. It’s not your fault, but you KNOW about this.

      Did you email your worker or just talk to them? If you emailed them, then that’s one thing – you can say that you made a good faith effort to fix the problem. But if not, you should email someone in payroll or HR. What they do afterwards is their issue, but this way you won’t get tossed under the bus of something hits the fan later.

      Basically you would email saying something like “On x/x/2019 I got paid for 15 minutes that CS worked. I told them about it, but since I haven’t heard about any changes I wanted to make sure that you are aware of it.”

      Keep in mind that if they are this sloppy, they could wind up with some serious complaints or an audit and you could be caught in the crossfire. With an email like this you cover yourself.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Due to the nature of the client, I find it unlikely that any auditor would get access to the logbook or security footage, as those remain on the clients site.

        Still, I posted because I suddenly felt guilty after my coworker said that he didn’t care about the 15 minutes. I probably will send that email.

        1. valentine*

          I would report it myself because it’s not the colleague’s call and no one, but no one, is going to remember it in a way that benefits me.

        2. Observer*

          If there is an investigation, especially by a government agency, the client may need to make logbooks and video available. And even without it, if there is an investigation they might check with your coworker of do other digging that would make what happened clear.

          And the thing is you don’t when or if this could happen. BUT given how sloppy the company seems to be I would not be surprised if someone complains to the DOL and makes an interesting enough case that they follow up with an investigation. The investigation would not be about you, but this could easily come up.

    4. SarahKay*

      I suspect that technically it could be considered ‘time-card fraud’. It’s (probably) fine for your co-worker to not care that he’s missing out, but it’s not fine for you to benefit. If it ever came out in an audit do you want to be saying to your manager “well, it wasn’t a lot of extra pay”? Yes, the company isn’t out any money (assuming you and co-worker earn the same amount) but even with the co-worker not caring, that doesn’t make it your money to keep.
      Think of it in terms of real cash – could you justify to your manager (or yourself) that you’d taken a five dollar note that wasn’t yours?

      1. SarahKay*

        Sorry, Bilateralrope, I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds terribly stern and talking-downy, which really wasn’t my intention.
        I think it got influenced by the fact that our site recently fired someone for time-card fraud. It’s a different situation, as they were actively falsifying their time, but it created a lot of kerfuffle for everyone left. We had ethics training, reminder emails about consequences, all that sort of thing, so your question just sort of hit an “oh, crumbs, NO!” trigger in me.

      2. Natalie*

        By the letter of the law, it’s not actually fine that the coworker is missing out – hourly employees have to be paid for all hours worked and can’t decide on their own that they don’t need to be. In practice I doubt anyone would get in trouble over this, but a company that handles their payroll obligations responsibly would expect their employees to report it so they can fix it.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      When you benefit from something erroneously, speak to the person that is in charge of it.

      He’s not worried about loss of time but you should be worried about being credited for too much. It’s ethical to bypass him and email yourself because you noticed and mentioned it. Now you have to complete that system otherwise it will make you look shady only half addressing the issue.

    6. CMR*

      As someone that works in HR (and our HR also manages payroll), I would want to know about this even if the employee didn’t care. These small things usually spring up somehow, somewhere in the future. May not seem like a big deal now but it could result in other issues/errors. Plus, I’d want to know about the glitch in case I needed to review for any other glitches that occurred or setup internal controls to make sure the glitches don’t continue or can be caught and corrected quickly.

      1. Observer*

        This is exactly right. And this is why it’s more likely that the company will eventually get audited and get into trouble. This is almost certainly a symptom of a wider problem

    7. Dancing Otter*

      Report it. Computer programs don’t malfunction only once. IT needs to address the underlying issue.

    8. IL JimP*

      Depending on your employer that can be timesheet fraud and can be firable. I would probably get it fixed or at least let HR know

  15. NaoNao*

    Okay, help needed. I’m a bit at loose ends.

    I was no-fault term’d on Monday of this week after only 5 months on the job. (A combo of them needing a really different role for the actual job and I suspect some 4rth quarter numbers needing to be met).

    I’m really, really reluctant to apply and get another corporate job. While I’m qualified and can do the work, I struggle a lot with the cultural and social and “unspoken expectations” aspect. I honestly try hard to fit in but always feel like I’m just weird. (and it’s not blue collar to white, it’s more…I have ASD and I’m introverted and reserved and struggle to read social cues). I’m also tired of being part of a massive machine that I believe is genuinely destroying the planet and not making anything to really show for it.

    However, I’ve got financial responsibilities at this point and retail, service, temp, or other low-pay stuff isn’t much of an option.

    I’ve signed up for my TEFL certificate and am considering teaching English overseas. I’ve lived and worked in SE Asia so that world isn’t new to me. I also have a training and learning and dev background and classroom instruction experience.

    I’m kind of at the point where a reboot and gap year on my resume doesn’t feel like the worst thing in the world and I’m burned out on this idea that every little thing you do can TORPEDO your chances for a job in the future despite being educated, experienced, willing, and skilled.

    I realize a ESL job would be a pay cut and there’s some personal and career repercussions. I’m also 40 and most of the people in these jobs are fresh out of college.

    Any advice from those who’ve done a complete reboot mid-career? Any from those who’ve done ESL overseas? All help welcome.

    1. ContemporaryIssued*

      I have two friends who did ESL abroad in two different Asian countries (Japan and South Korea). One basically “assimilated”. Married a local, learned the language, started working jobs outside of language teaching or teaching altogether, right now she’s working at an international university I think.

      The other one did ESL teaching, and moved jobs, and had small paybumps along the way but nothing significant. She also learned the language and loved the culture but never really felt like she fit in. So in time she left, went back home and I think worked her way up her parents’ company. I haven’t really talked to her about her “gap” in experience but I have read ESL teaching is not very valued on the resume in general.

      Anyway, I think it’s a good stepping stone job and may lead to you loving the country you move to and maybe finding a new path for your life there, even if it means re-training in some manner and immersing yourself in the culture. But it may just be a “break” for you career and you may end up having to return because the career possibilities aren’t there and at some point it really sucks that you’re not advancing in terms of pay even if you do a good job.

    2. Laika*

      Hi! I have a TEFL certificate and taught overseas (central Europe) for 1.5 years, and also worked at a school which certified teachers for TEFL, so I think I have some insight here.

      In my experience, teachers fall into roughly four categories: 1) folks who move abroad to teach, realize immediately it’s not for them and go home; 2) folks who move abroad “to teach” but actually just want to live a lifestyle they couldn’t get away with at home , for whatever reason; 3) folks who move abroad to teach, and try to grind it out despite not loving maybe the job or maybe the culture; 4) folks who move abroad to teach and try 100% to throw themselves in the culture and the job.

      People in the 1-2 categories will on average stay in the country 0-3 months. People in the 3-4 categories will stay anywhere from 6 months to a lifetime. In my view, the two real only defining factors in whether or not a person legitimately enjoys teaching abroad (and it’s REALLY not for everyone) is how much they try to integrate with the local culture, and what relationships they forge for themselves. Teachers who stayed inside an “expat bubble”, only befriended people who spoke English, hung out at the tourist spots, etc. tended to leave much earlier than people who viewed it as an actual, permanent move to a new country and embraced fully the commitments and roadbumps that come with that. It’s also about mindset – some countries will pay very, very good money for TEFL teachers, so if you’re able to tough it out, good for you, but it’s not very fun or kind to mental health, and that only works for folks who just want to make bank and have the get in/get out mentality.

      Not as a discouragement but as a piece of information, I’ll also note that some countries have, explicitly or not, ageist policies written into their TEFL teacher hiring practices. I think at 40 you are probably under the bar for the worst offenders, but it’s also something to consider and do some research on. It’s also generally a field where people can get taken advantage of, but I think you have a leg up here, especially since you note you have relevant experience – that’s a big help and will look good on your resume.

      I have absolutely seen people succeed in making this leap, and people across all ages, but it’s quite tough. I think the make-or-break aspect is really about full-hearted, honest commitment about how long you expect to go and what you want to get out of it. Good luck!!

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        I too have seen people do this; but not to the extent you have. I just wanted to add my encouragement that I’ve known and heard of a lot of people doing this later in life and have loved it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I do want to suggest you at least talk to whatever agencies are specific to your professional role. There are specialized agencies for engineers even. I liked it because I could try out a variety of types of role, and built a resume with short term assignments as project bullet points. It’s also a great way to practice interacting with many different types of people.

    4. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      I’m very sorry about your situation. I know how socially — and therefore professionally — ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) can be.

      If you’ve been diagnosed (self-diagnosis doesn’t count) with ASD and you’re in the US, you might go to your state Department of Labor or its equivalent, showing your diagnosis and asking a vocational specialist or equivalent to write you a letter for “Schedule A” purposes saying you meet the qualifications for a particular job (one job per letter).

      Schedule A is a special hiring program in the US federal government. Many if not most US federal civil service positions “hire the handicapped” — they give preference to applicants with Schedule A certifications. When applying, include a copy of your Schedule A letter. And if and when you’re hired, you can ask for reasonable accommodations.

      Note that the US federal government may be a haven for the disabled, older workers (yes, at 40 you now qualify) and minorities.

      Last but not least, the federal government employs English teachers (albeit some of them in prisons). Search

      Good luck!

    5. SKGirl*

      As someone commented above, there are less older people hired, but it does happen! I can only speak for South Korea, but I know several people hired and who work here over 35.

      I love teaching overseas in SK, but like others mentioned it is part of what you make it. I’ve moved here, learned the language, tried speaking it with coworkers, picked up hobbies, met and married my now husband. I knew someone who came in my first year, mainly stayed in her apartment, basically ate ‘Korean’ fast food style all the time (like kimbap, not sit down meals) and the only time she went out was with a friend to chat at a cafe. She left after the first year.

      I will also say, Korea and Japan are very homogeneous countries. I’m not sure what your appearance is, but that will have a small effect on your life. More and more foreigners have paved the way for newcomers, but the country is still changing. As someone who looks different than the norm, you will get looks. It’s not judging looks, but usually curious like ‘hmm obviously they’re a foreigner in Korean wonder what they are doing here?’

      The pay also isn’t /that/ bad as you hear. Usually contracts pay for your housing and a lot of things are cheaper than in the U.S.( that’s where I’m from). Bills are also sooo cheap. My electric bill is about $8 USD a month and goes up to about $18 in the summer when I use AC.

      I specifically got my degree in Education, but why not try it out for a year and see how you like it? I know people who have turned it into their career and became university professors.

  16. FaintlyMacabre*

    Just venting- I applied to a job in another department and while I know the process always moves slowly, it is driving me insane! I’d like to be hired or rejected before January, which is not looking likely. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

  17. Ms.ShirleyTemple*

    I was recently hired as an administrative assistant in an office. It’s my first job out of college and I’ve really been working to make a good impression and be a team player. Every year our office does a themed white elephant gift exchange, the most common theme being “alcohol.” The problem is I don’t drink! It’s not for any religious reasons and I don’t care if other people drink, but it means I have no idea where to even start with purchasing a $20 bottle of wine!

    Additionally, I don’t know what to do with any alcohol I would get! Giving it to another coworker seems rude or ungrateful, but I commute over an hour by public transit and its stressful enough for me without having to figure out how to get a bottle of wine I’ll never drink back home without breaking it.

    I’m really hoping the theme is something different this year, but everyone in my office is so excited about the alcohol theme! I just don’t want to be the person who (unknowingly) gives a bad gift and disappoints a coworker.

    1. Bluebell*

      Could you get some sort of fancy shmancy facial toner? That’s technically alcohol, and someone could want it? Or buy some nice cocktail bitters. People who make cocktails would be happy to get that. And those bottles are smaller and easy to transport.

      1. Ms.ShirleyTemple*

        Ah I love this! I actually love skincare items, so maybe I could gift some nice wine accessories and some red wine face masks. I wouldn’t mind stealing it for myself to be honest!!

        1. valentine*

          Gift it to the office for the next event. Though, if you can suggest not having an alcohol theme, I bet there are people who would at least silently thank you.

    2. No Name Yet*

      If you do want to participate (and I’d understand if not!), I’d go to a wine/alcohol store near you that seems decent quality (totally something you could get a rec for), and ask a salesperson for help. ‘Within these parameters, what’s decent?’ I would also expect they’d have a padded bag you could buy. Alternatively, a little sampler pack of different flavored vodkas/rums/etc might be easier to transport, and could be fun for someone to get. For what to do with yours…host present when you go to a friend’s party?

      All that said, it’s a crappy theme for so many read, not least of which are the ones you note. Sorry. :/

      1. Fikly*

        Yes, this! I don’t drink, but I will occasionally use wine in cooking, and all I know about wine is that you should cook with wine that is good enough to drink. I’ll go into a wine store, tell them the protein, and my budget, and ask what they recommend. I’m almost always happy, and my budget is low and I lived for years in a town that was very upper class, so there were expensive bottles available, and I was not treated badly for wanting to spend less than $15 on a bottle.

      2. Joie*

        another good ones are the ‘cocktail mixers’ kits you can buy in most liquor places, boutique stores and Amazon has a good selection. They are just little flavour bottles you dump in a glass and add alcohol too but even the non drinkers can enjoy if they get stuck with them. Just add pop instead of liquor and enjoy the non-alcoholic delicious juice!

    3. londonedit*

      Is there someone organising the gift exchange who you could have a quiet word with? If it’s the sort of thing where people swap gifts rather than buying for one particular person, could you maybe petition for there to be non-alcohol gifts as well as the alcohol ones? I’m sure if you said that you were looking forward to the gift exchange but you didn’t want to be left out by not drinking, whoever’s organising would understand (I would!)

      If you do find yourself having to buy an alcoholic gift, then don’t worry, because (assuming US wines are similar to the sort of thing we can get in the UK) $20 should buy you a decent bottle anyway. Safe bets for red wine are things like Malbec, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, and for white wines Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or perhaps even a mid-priced sparkling wine like a Cava or Prosecco. Or, maybe you could buy some nice boozy chocolates if you want to take the pressure off having to choose a bottle. That doesn’t help with your end of the exchange, but at least it’s an idea of what to buy if it does end up alcohol-themed!

    4. Jellyfish*

      No advice, but that sounds quite frustrating. Lots of people don’t drink for lots of reasons, and your workplace seems eager to ignore that. For that matter, I drink quite happily but if I’m going to purchase a $20 bottle of wine, I want to buy something for myself that I like, not risk ending up with something I find gross and just being out that money.

      If you get stuck buying alcohol for this, I’ve found that most liquor store employees are happy to point you to something fairly cheap and popular.

    5. Digley Doowap*

      Since it is a white elephant gift exchange, go buy a big bottle of rubbing alcohol as a gag gift. It should be fun watching it get tossed around until it finally settles on some unfortunate person’s lap.

      If you get alcohol as a gift, keep it and give it to someone next year as part of the white elephant gift exchange. I’m sure no one will remember it by then.

      1. Samwise*

        Please don’t do that. It’s funny for everyone except the person who gets stuck with the gag gift, eho has to be a good sport about it, but who will feel bad that they put time and money into choosing a good gift and ended up with crap

    6. HM MM*

      What about a wine opener? Or a cocktail shaker set? Might be easier/less stressful to transport, but still alcohol related. I participated in a white elephant gift game at my last job (the kind where one by one the participants have the choice to either select one unopened present or “steal” one of the already opened presents). Someone opened up a wine opener early on and it was “stolen” repeatedly. I don’t really get why it was so desirable, but for whatever reason it was the hot gift of the game.

    7. ContemporaryIssued*

      I second not having to buy actual alcohol but alcohol accoutrements of some kind. Like nice whisky tumblers or a good quality ice cube tray of some kind (like the ones for big ice cubes that take longer to melt).

      Or a drink mix set.

      If you do want to buy alcohol, a lot of towns will have a “nice” liquor/wine store with very good expert people who can help you out. If all else fails, go to a good bar, order a non-alcoholic drink and ask the bartender.

      1. SarahKay*

        Ooh, or whiskey stones. These are stones, usually cut in a cube shape, approx half inch each side, that you put in your freezer and then add to drinks. Typically they come in boxes of about 8 – Amazon has a good selection of them.
        The idea is that since they don’t melt then unlike ice they won’t water down your drink, which is particularly appealing to drinkers of a good single malt scotch whisky, but also nice for anyone who likes neat spirits of any sort. They’re also very appealing on a tactile level because they’re very smooth to the touch.

      1. Reba*

        No one is likely to remember who brought what wine. Wine bottles are not that delicate, so don’t worry about carrying it (although I totally get it is a pain). Use it as a host/ess gift in future.

        The theme does stink, though.

        When I was in graduate school there was a bottle of wine no one really wanted that showed up at several parties as it got passed around as a gift :)

    8. Colette*

      If the theme is alcohol (which I do not recommend for many reasons, one of which is religious discrimination), buy a gift and, when you get one in return, give it to a coworker if you’d like to. They’ll be happy to have it, and you can blame your commute if you don’t want to talk about not drinking.

    9. cat socks*

      If you’re unsure of what to buy, this time of year, there are a lot of alcohol gift sets – like packages with a small bottle of booze and a couple of shot glasses.

    10. Diatryma*

      Wine bottles are quite sturdy; it’s very unlikely that it will break during a typical commute. They are also handy to keep around in case of guests (or for regifting later) (or for use as rolling pins) (or both, but maybe clean the gingerbread dough off really well before giving it to a friend’s parents).

      For your own gift, if the theme is alcohol (and what a poor choice of theme that is), accessories, a cocktail recipe book, The Drunken Botanist or something like that, or a six-pack of craft root beers, chosen by the bottle, seem appropriate to me.

    11. Ms.ShirleyTemple*

      Thank you to everyone for your suggestions! I really appreciate you all taking the time to comment. You’ve given me a lot of great ideas of what to buy. I’ll find a local wine store and ask for help picking out something!

      Thanks again and happy Friday :)

      1. Aphrodite*

        Does your town have a Trader Joe’s? This time of year they have special packages of boozy chocolates. One is liquor cherries in chocolate, another is different types of liquor in chocolate. That might be a good thing. I also remember that I once gave a gift of shark fin ice cube molds (found on Amazon) to someone whose persona was, well, sharks. She loved them!

    12. Candy*

      Just because the theme is alcohol doesn’t mean you literally have to buy a bottle of alcohol. There are a lot of booze-themed gifts you could bring:
      — the Prohibition Bakery Cookbook
      — whiskey stones
      — Hangover Tea
      — branded shot glasses
      — make some rum balls or eggnog fudge
      etc etc

      As for the gift you end up with — it won’t look at all rude or ungrateful to hand it off to someone else with a breezy “Oh I don’t drink” after the party has broken up. Chances are they’ll be happy to go home with two gifts instead of one

    13. Autumnheart*

      I wouldn’t over-think it. Honestly, you can spend $20 and get a reasonable bottle of wine or scotch or whiskey, and if the recipient doesn’t like it, they can trade or re-gift it, and you can re-gift any bottle you get (maybe not to coworkers), or if someone wants to trade with you, just give it to them as a freebie. If you don’t get any takers, put it in a cool dry place and then re-gift to someone for Christmas. Or post on social media that you got a bottle of XYZ for your White Elephant that you don’t have a use for, who wants it? Or if you’re invited to a get-together, save it for your host gift.

      A booze gift is, at least, one of the easiest ones to get rid of.

      1. Autumnheart*

        And yeah, a nice set of glassware, or wine charms, or even buy several wine-bottle gift bags and make a pack out of them, would be just as good. A lot of people give booze as gifts, and those things are equally as handy. Coasters, an electric wine opener (those are about $25), maybe a cute apron or oven mitts that say funny things about the cook drinking all the wine. Beer cozies. Lots of alcohol-adjacent options that aren’t alcohol themselves.

    14. Asenath*

      With the caveat that I’ve opted out of office gift exchanges – I don’t drink, I have been given a bottle of wine once in a while, and I do bring gifts of alcohol to friends whom I know like it. In that case, of course, I know exactly what type my friends like, but if I didn’t, I’d ask for advice in the store. As for the unusable gift of wine? I just pass it on to friends who like wine, saying something like “I was given this, but you know I don’t drink – I was wondering if you’d like it?” None of them have said “no” yet! I don’t have trouble transporting it, but my commute isn’t that bad. I just put in in my backpack, maybe wrapped in a couple bags.

    15. Lkr209*

      I didn’t see any comments with this suggestion, so I’ll go ahead. An alcohol-themed white elephant exchange at work is terrible inappropriate and intentionally excludes those who don’t drink for health, addiction, or religious reasons. The best option, in my opinion, is to gracefully decline to participate. You don’t get anything for anyone, and no one gets anything for you. Bring in a batch of cookies for the office and when they ask why you’re not participating, say “oh, I don’t drink alcohol, so I don’t know anything about buying it!” I would add “for religious reasons” JUST to make the point on how excluding this is, but that’s just me!

    16. Roy Rogers*

      Your username has the answer Put bottles of grenadine, 7up, Pepsi, and some nice glasses in a basket. Someone who likes alcohol can use it for mixers, someone who doesn’t drink can have a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers.

  18. Diatryma*

    I think I figured out a pattern in my horrible job (which I’m trying to leave, but would like to mkae less horrible in the meantime): people are very passive-aggressive in how they talk. “Why did you do X?” means, “X was clearly wrong; defend yourself.”

    Does anyone have advice on how to speak without any hint of hidden meaning? I don’t want to be attacking my coworkers by accident, which happens now.

    1. Kate H*

      In an environment like this, where a simple question is an attack, I’m not sure you can. Do you think it will help to soften the question even further or to overexplain yourself? For instance, “Why did you do X?” turns into “It was my understanding that we were going in Y direction. Could you elaborate on what brought you to X instead?” or “Did I miss something?” or “Has a change been made from Y to X in our typical process?” Whatever fits your needs.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      When dealing with people like that, my tactic is to maintain a cheery, oblivious tone and attitude. “Oh, I painted the teapots chartreuse because the teapots were bare, we had chartreuse paint handy, and no color was specified!” (with a kind of cheery “of course!” tone). If they questioned that, I’d say “Well, the color was blank, and I have always chosen one of the colors available on the painting table, is there a policy or procedure about which color I should use? I was told when I started that any color available is fine if it’s not specified.”
      You get the idea. It’s very hard not to get defensive, but do your best to sound puzzled instead, and try to work them into stating outright their unspoken assumptions, like OF COURSE you should have asked them which color to pick! (Probably because they took this order and it was for a specific color, but they didn’t write it down on the work order!)

      1. Diatryma*

        I really like the cheery ‘of course!’ tone; I am doing my best to be oblivious to what people mean when they refuse to say it.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have done this and it works well. Usually I was able to lay out some missing pieces of info and save my bacon.

        But I have also used, “OOO, something must be wrong and that is why you are asking. I did X because of Y. So, tell me, what’s wrong.” Use a light but sincere tone that sounds like, “I am ready and able to fix what ever has come up.”

        And at some point, I was able to work myself over to, “I only hear this question when something is wrong. So why don’t we talk about what is wrong.”

    3. Myrin*

      “Can you explain X to me?” or “Oh, I thought Y? Is it always X now?” or something similar (basically, like Kate said, overexplain yourself). I have found, though, that the only way to make people really, truly believe that you’re asking honestly is for it to happen once and for them realise that you have, indeed, just asked a question without any hidden motives. That first time needs to happen somehow first, though.

  19. Devan*

    Hello , happy holidays to all . I was offered and accepted an offer last week . The start day was this past Monday . However , the director emailed before the weekend and said the start date is canceled . Corporate is refusing to pay recruiter fee. I was obviously shocked and mad. After some hope over the weekend both sides would negotiate, I was told there was no change in the decision. My recruiter did not even reach out, I was emailed by the director of the hiring company. So I am left without a position. Anyone have any advice on if I have any steps to take to take other routes to this position. Can I ask the director to hire me directly? Can I apply to the position if its available at a later time ? I understand, I am suggesting cutting out recruiter. This is not my intent , but the agency , has yet to inform me of any news . They kinda just left me to hang. If they were truly working with me , why not reach out to me . I have not signed anything with agency. I’m sure they still have verbal agreement with me due to setting me up with hiring company. I respectfully ask for guidance, from a frustrating standpoint and not of someone looking to do unethical tactics. I’m sure I will be told to just let it go and mocs on . Might as well ask this community before I do

    1. Colette*

      The director legally cannot hire you directly, assuming that they have a contract with the recruiter. So there’s not much you can do.

      Are you out of a job because of this? If not, just keep looking.

    2. Observer*

      At the moment, there is nothing you can do about this job in particulate. But you COULD apply directly to this company at a later date. Depending on their contract, they may or may not be able to hire you.

      Do not work with this recruiter again if you can help it. They have not handled the situation well. But, also, think twice about whether you really want to work for this firm. What just happened is sending all sorts of negative signals.

    3. HM MM*

      The agencies typically do not sign anything with the candidates, but they do typically have a contract with the company. So, no, you do have not obligations to the agency (as in there’s penalty to you if you were to go around the recruiter), but the company has obligations to the recruiter (they can be penalized for going around the recruiter).

      Typically the company signs an agreement with the recruiting agency that the agency is owed their fee if they hire any candidates the recruiter presents to them within a specific period of time. I’m not sure what the typical length of time is (I’ve seen 6 months, but I don’t have a good sense if that’s the norm). So the company could try to hire you directly, but if the recruiting agency found out they would most likely be able to pursue legal action against the company to collect the fee.

      I’m sorry – this really sucks. It might still be worth trying to talk to the director, but unfortunately I doubt there’s much that can be done.

    4. !*

      I would be concerned why a company would have hired/used a recruiter to find suitable applicants, and when one was found, refuse to pay their fee? Sounds rather shady to me.

        1. Devan*

          Yea I had these same thoughts myself . Prob something else to this . But that’s the story I’m being fed . Either way , everyone is right , should be thankful , this company prob would be shady if they employed me as well. Just wanted to see if anyone has heard of this , because when I share this story , I keep hearing “ I’ve never heard this happening before “ .

      1. Autumnheart*

        Because eff you, that’s why. (I mean the mentality behind it, I’m not saying eff you to you. :) )

        I’ve been in OP’s position before. The hiring company basically terminated all their contractors at once (even though the contracts were long-term) and basically let the recruiting company swing in the wind. What was the recruiting company gonna do? They could sue for the payment, but probably not get paid AND burn a bridge with the company in the future. Or not sue and lose a ton of money that was contractually obligated. It was shitty.

        I would assume that the job has evaporated (bad earnings report? Budget cuts? Who can say?) and nobody’s getting any money out of the hiring company. I’m sorry, OP, but I would move on with prejudice (because what the hiring company did was tremendously unprofessional) and keep looking for a new position. Maybe a Glassdoor review might be in order.

    5. HA2*

      Oh wow, that’s horrible. Both on the part of the company and the recruiter.

      I’d probably reach out to the recruiter and ask them what’s up – you’ve already reached out to the company to no effect, so might as well ask the recruiter if they can do anything for you to let you get in. I doubt it’s much, but can’t hurt to ask.

      *definitely* don’t let them refer you to any other companies, though. That was a massive fail on their part to let this happen.

  20. Mazzy*

    I don’t know how to handle some weekly calls at my current job. I run one of them and people still aren’t used to me running it, even though I bring 90% of the agenda. It’s like a few of the longer-term employers are still 7 years ago, before I took it over, and they can’t change. One of the meetings is to break down tasks for the coders, who are late 20s/early 30s and focused on coding and don’t need or want the big picture or to follow up and touch base for no reason every single week. If there is a status update, they give it to you.

    Lately, they’ve been doing so well that I don’t see a need for a weekly hour-long call that I’ve been trying to cancel it, but two of my colleagues won’t let me cancel it. I sat out one, and I heard from a fifth person involved that it was a disaster and turned into a half-an-hour call to basically ask three questions that could’ve been done over email, and to tell the less experienced staff members side information they don’t care about.

    I have communication barriers with these two people, they are both very unique. One is younger and thinks he’s a business guru on his way up the corporate ladder, yet he’s always doing personal stuff on the internet and he uses unnecessary meetings to fill the day and look busy. The other is a slightly older than me woman who gets easily offended and takes everything personally. She also cc’s so many people on emails for no reason that I hesitate to email her or respond to her emails. I’ve seen her get angry and not talk to someone for months because they gave a slight critique of her work. She also accused me of criticizing her work and called a meeting with me so we could “be honest,” when I had never once in my life talked about her at that point (though that meeting gave me fodder!). So I’m walking on eggshells around them both.

    I just would like to lead the meeting and cancel it if we don’t have a reason to have it and not have all of the interpersonal drama or feelings hurt. It’s too much to deal with on top of my regularly heavy workload. Why do some people take themselves so seriously at a relatively young age, that they can’t handle anything not going there way? It’s so ironic, because I give much more direct feedback to lower paid staff, and they take it well. Why do the ones making twice them have the thinner skin? Why don’t they get that the point of the meeting isn’t to make them look busy and important, but to get specific tasks conveyed to people who only want specific information?

    We’re so fixated on the meeting / no meeting question that I can’t even make a comment on the lack of project management skills going on with the younger guy, namely, delegating the whole project to the coder, instead of doing all of the thinking themselves and then complaining when the coder – who doesn’t understand your area as well as you do – doesn’t read your mind.

    To my benefit, the coders seem sick of their egos as well and have been bending over backwards to please me the past few months, because we’re on the same wavelength and they can tell I’m the only one who respects them as professionals and doesn’t see them as low-level admins to throw tasks at.

    1. Colette*

      Whose meeting is it? If it’s yours, you don’t need their agreement to cancel it. And what does your manager think?

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I don’t know if you can avoid the interpersonal drama or the hurt feelings, but they’re not your responsibility to manage. If it’s your meeting, and you have the authority to cancel it, then just cancel it. People are going to feel how they’re going to feel, and some of them are going to be dramatic about it. Let them. You don’t need to keep having weekly meetings that aren’t productive, just because somebody’s feelings will be hurt!

      If anybody asks, you can tell them you decided it wasn’t the best use of everybody’s time. If they’re dramatic or pouty or whatever, you can thank them for their opinion and change the subject. They don’t have to *like* the decision, but assuming it’s your decision to make, they do have to go along with it. Good luck!

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Some options, if it turns out you have to keep leading the meetings after all: (I’m sure you’ve thought of most of these, but just in case!)

        *Make the meetings shorter – could they be done in half an hour? Less?
        *Have a clear agenda, including time limits per item
        *Set up a project site in Sharepoint. Have people post new items as they come up rather than waiting for the meeting; this will allow you to skip the FYIs and keep the meeting focused on the agenda
        *High-priority items only – skip the round-table if most people don’t have anything to add
        *Stop including the coders if they really don’t need to be there
        *Have the meetings online instead of in person

      2. lasslisa*

        You also can wrap up the meeting early. And if the track record is already there, try reducing the frequency rather than deleting it entirely. “The last few meetings haven’t had anything significant to discuss, so we’re going to change to a bi-weekly meeting instead”.

  21. ContemporaryIssued*

    tl; dr How does one make a boss see the problem in their department’s understaffing?

    Background, briefly: I moved jobs from one department to another the end of last year. Like, from Rolled Oats, Gotham office, to Oatmeal Support. As I knew the Gotham office job, I helped the new staff out with questions. But then one staff member was constantly on sick leave, so I stepped in more. And then the remaining staff decided to tough it, not asking for as much help, but then the constantly sick staff quit, and they scrambled, so I helped again. They hired somebody new, who didn’t bother learning half the job because it’s complicated, and I tried to support the remaining good staff. But obviously, it’s winter, flu season, people get sick.

    At the holiday party I briefly chatted to Gotham office chief to commisserate on their bad situation and hoped that they would hire not just one new person but maybe a couple, to make sure this situation wouldn’t repeat itself? After all, people do go on vacation, get sick days, it’s normal. It shouldn’t knock out your entire office. He cheerfully said he was talking to an ex-colleague who worked with me at said office and she might join us again.

    I texted her and she said he offered her the *beginning salary* even though she had experience in the job. She asked for more. He said no, so she said no.

    I just feel like this pattern is going to continue to repeat. Stuff will happen, people will leave, they’ll get replaced, I will help (because my manager tells me, by the way, I’m not merely choosing it) but I just wonder .. what’s it going to take for the bosses to see this disaster for what it is. Does it have to ..lose contracts? Lose them significant money? (In my most annoyed moment I contemplate forwarding irate customers to the office chief .. but that’s me being petty.) Is this boss just somebody who doesn’t know better, doesn’t care?

    1. LQ*

      I’m not sure how people spot me but I try to wave my hands as a client and say, hey over here, I’ll help you.

      I’ve gone to talk to higher levels folks when something goes wrong and a Contemporary person steps in to fix it. Usually, I say something like, Contemporary is amazing! Let me tell you how much they saved the bacon here. And they do all this other stuff normally. Contemporary rocks and could clearly use some help because even though they aren’t the normal person on the contract they are always the one to step in and clean things up. So awesome.

      Sometimes this will flag for folks that the problem is enough that a client can see it and that’s enough to get it fixed. I know additional support people have been hired because of making a big enough stink, likely not for us exclusively, but we raised enough of a flag that someone took a closer look. But if you spy an LQ in your customers (not an irate one, but one who was hurt by something that went wrong, or nearly hurt) being a little more transparent with them is good. They can help.

    2. Colette*

      The key thing in that situation is to do your job and not try to fix the systemic problems. Let management feel the pain (i.e. get customer complaints, miss their metrics, etc.) Don’t deliberately do a bad job – but don’t put in a lot of extra time and energy to keep things going. Let them fail when they should.

      Maybe the boss doesn’t care; maybe she does but can’t make a case for more staff when things are still going fine.

        1. lasslisa*

          Yeah, if you do the work of two people then from the higher up perspective that’s a problem solved – no need to do that hiring any more, the work is getting done just fine without them…

    3. LCS*

      Are you still keeping all the other balls in the air in your regular, non-helping job? Because if so, there’s no penalty to leadership to continue with the status quo. If your boss is directing you to help, cool, but if it were me I’d make sure I was clearly communicating how all this extra helping work required me to re-prioritize my other work with items X, Y and Z being deferred or abandoned altogether – or at least needing a discussion if that was the right way to prioritize. Either your boss is good with this and your overall workload level out a bit, or they’re forced to be more intentional about the sort of trade-offs they are or are not willing to make to maintain skeleton staffing levels.

      1. ContemporaryIssued*

        Sadly my regular job goes through significant ebbs and flows, so there’s only two things I need to keep up with on a “as they come up” basis daily. So basically, even at my busiest I can usually get everything done (and admittedly I am very efficient). There’s a bunch of things that can wait until it cools down a bit again.

        I think my boss understands the situation fairly well but the boss of the office I’m helping out doesn’t. And staffing decisions are up to him.

  22. Stuck In A Crazy Job*

    How can I tell my boss I’m trying to get another job in the company? I have not been overly successful in this role because I’m so overwhelmed by all the moving parts.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Boss, I have applied for x role in y department. I am concerned that I might be a bad fit for this department here and I think in fairness to all I should consider this x role.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I would definitely NOT say “I’m a bad fit for this department”, even if it’s true. Don’t lead with how much you suck at a job. Lead with “I think this other role would be a great fit for me because XYZ.”

        1. Stuck In A Crazy Job*

          Yes, it is pretty obvious that I’m a poor fit. I got all 3s in my performance review because I’m ” still learning the job”, but it’s a bad fit because they need an uberorganized extrovert but they have a moderately organized introvert

  23. Sunflower Sea Star*

    Was talking to a family member at Thanksgiving yesterday, and he was telling me his company has a rule that if you take ANY paid time off adjacent to a paid holiday you don’t get the holiday pay. So using even an hour of PTO on Christmas Eve would mean no Christmas holiday pay, etc. And this boss makes everyone stay every last minute or more every holiday adjacent day.
    And to compound that…his company is closed today and he was told he HAD to take it as PTO. And PTO today means no holiday pay for Thanksgiving. Which means that even though the company handbook lists Thanksgiving as a paid holiday, the company never actually has to pay anyone for it. And if you’re out of PTO when this mandatory take PTO day comes…you get written up.
    I don’t even know his boss and I want to smack him.

    1. Liane*

      Never heard of this, it does sound fishy and jerky.
      Now it is common to have a policy for hourly staff that you must work your last **scheduled** shift before the holiday and first **scheduled** shift after to get the holiday pay. That is to prevent people from calling off just to get time off around a holiday.

      1. valentine*

        He should just act as though there is no holiday pay. Right now, the employer is having it both ways. If he stops caring, he won’t get riled and he can enjoy some time off. The holiday pay wouldn’t be enough for me to (1) work Xmas Eve (2) sit around for no good reason.

        1. Sunflower Sea Star*

          That’s great that you can afford that, but let’s not pretend it’s my cousin handling things wrong here. Boss is being a jerk, and that’s squarely where my dislike and disapproval goes.

    2. SQL Coder Cat*

      A version of this is common in call centers- you don’t get holiday pay if you take any ‘unplanned’ time off on either side. It’s designed to minimize people getting ‘sick’ because they didn’t get the day off. Ramping that up to any paid time off is just evil.

      1. only acting normal*

        I once had a call centre job (a big UK household name’s call centre) that did as described by Sunflower. It sucked. It is a shitty practice and it wasn’t their only shitty (but legal at the time) practice. I still don’t buy their product.

        1. SQL Coder Cat*

          Nothing teaches you to be nice to other people like working in a call center- I’ve worked in two, one of which was amazing and really valued its workers, and one of which sucked. The sucky one is the one with the policy- but they mostly hired ‘anyone with a pulse’ and paid accordingly. As a result, they had a lot of people who would call out just because they felt like it on a given day, because they had no attachment to the job- why should they? The company clearly had no loyalty to them. If that had been my first call center job it would also have been my last.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        A relative has this where he works (manufacturing shop).

        You take any the day before or the day after a holiday, you get no holiday pay.

        He took vacation this Thanksgiving..

        Weds (VD) Thurs (PTO) Fri (VD) Sat off, Sun off.

        The rest of the minions

        Weds (work), Thurs (Holiday pay which is doubled what you make for the day), Fri (work).

        The company has no work on Weds and Fri, but if you don’t show up, you lose the holiday pay, and have to take a sick day or PTO.

        This happens for any holiday.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      That’s ridiculous.

      At OldJob, we had the policy that if you called out sick on the day before/after a paid holiday, you wouldn’t get the holiday pay, and that was bad enough — no exceptions were allowed, even if you had a doctor’s note. But that at least allowed for scheduled PTO around the holidays! It was only aimed at people trying to illicitly take extra days they weren’t approved for in the normal vacation scheduling system.

    4. No Name Yet*

      Yikes. As a federal employee, if I take unpaid time off the day before a holiday, I don’t get the holiday pay – but not normal PTO. It’s like they took that idea and twisted it hard.

    5. LGC*

      Holy hell I thought our PTO policy was draconian.(We withhold holiday pay if you call out adjacent, but you CAN use PTO adjacent and schedule time off. And that is how I managed to get the first 11 days off work this month and only use 5 days of PTO.)

      This is horrible policy – not least of which because you’re punishing people for the company’s decisions. (Okay, the company can argue that their employees should have saved two days of PTO, but then that’s admitting your company gives two days less of PTO than stated. Which is just as bad.)

    6. nonegiven*

      There was a factory job where there was a rule that you had to be there either for the previous shift or the next shift to get paid for the holiday.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yikes and I thought we were draconian. .. anyone hourly must work their full shift (within, I think, 5 minutes) before & after a holiday to get paid. But preapproved PTO/vacation counts. Our problem comes when someone works long days during the week to hit a Thursday night deadline –we’re not supposed to go over 40 hours in the week, so managers have to argue that with payroll frequently.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just spotted this when scrolling back through: “And if you’re out of PTO when this mandatory take PTO day comes…you get written up.”
      This is ALL sorts of wrong. I can see making someone take it unpaid — but I strongly object to being told where you have to spend your company benefit.

  24. Nonny-nonny-non*

    I agreed to cover a high-level Skype meeting for my manager today, reporting up to a VP. Was feeling pretty nervous about it so despite Fridays being casual-wear on my site I came in wearing my most professional suit, make-up, tights (pantyhose) and smart shoes. The meeting was fine – yay! – but the smart clothes definitely helped me feel ready for it in the first place.
    Does anyone else find that dressing ‘up’ a level helps them if they’re feeling nervous about a challenging situation at work?

    1. LQ*

      Absolutely! I leveled up my wardrobe in a way I’m comfortable with to feel like I was better able to tackle a promotion. So I started wearing blazers to go with my normal uniform and it absolutely makes me feel professional enough to handle it. (Though for me it’s just adding a blazer to my normal/casualish wardrobe. You sound very polished!)

      1. Nonny-nonny-non*

        Well, I’m polished today at any rate ;)
        It’s a fairly relaxed site (and sometimes chilly), so normally at this time of year I’m in a reasonably nice skirt, a smart polo neck, and woolly tights.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Yes, it helps me. At one job, we had a lot of interaction with important agencies, so I generally dressed well, even on Casual Fridays. It paid off one Friday morning when Boss came running: “We have Distinguished Visitors and we have to brief them on our project in 15 minutes! Need your help; you’re the only one here who is put together.”

      I got to meet a lot of very high level industry contacts that day. It was great.

    3. Anon today*

      Alternative version: put on your best/favourite underwear. No-one else will know, but it can shift your mindset a bit. Could useful if dressing up a bit draws too many comments from coworkers.

  25. empsk*

    This is quite specific but! do any UK readers have any experience of going to a career coach when they don’t have much of a career? I’m in my 30s, really stalled in what I want to do. I’m a junior-level customer service manager and I can’t muster any enthusiasm for progressing in that career path but I also have literally no idea what else I could/ should be doing.

    1. MayLou*

      Not precisely a career coach, but I have had support from two organisations to get me into work. One was specialist occupational therapy related to a chronic illness, so not very relevant to you, and the other was career support for people with mental health issues (in my case, anxiety and depression linked to the chronic illness and a very bad work experience my first job after university).

      Both were helpful in getting me to think about myself, my skills and my interests in a different way. They didn’t ask what I was interested in or what I’m good at, but what I’ve been successful at or enjoyed in the past, and then we thought about what specific elements of those things were generalisable. That helped me identify the sorts of organisations that I might suit, and also the skills I wanted to utilise. I’d always done it the other way round, like “I want to be a [job title], who will give me that job?”

  26. Valenonymous*

    I do three different jobs right now for the same company. Jobs B and C are much better paid, more prestigious positions that I have started recently as a way to transition me out of Job A, which I was only doing as a temporary help to the company as they recovered from a natural disaster (and that I will continue to do for the time being but not be as heavily involved). The problem is literally all anyone knows me for around our small island community is Job A, which is the most publicly prominent (albeit least prestigious and worst paid) of all three jobs, and is the one I care the least about at this point in my career. To illustrate, I’ll catch up with someone I haven’t seen in awhile and spend 5 minutes explaining Jobs B and C and that they take up the bulk of my time and that I work very hard at them, and they’ll respond by saying “but so how is Job A?” My friends all still introduce me as “Valenonymous, who works for Job A.” I just want to scream sometimes, “I’m sick of Job A! I do other stuff too!” Mostly I just want to be recognised for ALL the work I’m doing. Is this too much to ask? Should I just give up?

    1. LQ*

      I have talked with a couple work friends about not making me LQ who knows all the tech stuff anymore. They were the biggest offenders and were absolutely trying to be kind. I pointed out that I was hoping that I would get to shift out of being Techy Person and into being Someone Who Could Be A Boss Person. They mostly have shifted. I think you can just say this to folks, enlist them in trying to help you shift.

    2. Mockingjay*

      In a coincidence, I called my project lead last week and told him pretty much the same thing. I am supposed to do Job X, but he keeps dumping a lot of extraneous duties that should be handled by others on me. (“But I know you’ll get this done, Mockingjay!”) We have this conversation at least once a year, but things have escalated and I had a chat with him last month, then again this past week. It’s gotten to the point that I haven’t touched my own work in months. This project is on a government contract, so the roles are very clearly defined. I have the same issue as you; people on the project now recognize me only for the miscellaneous stuff, and won’t come to me for work in my actual role.

      He’s a smart technical guy but not a very good project lead. He asked me to send him a list of who does what, so he could look at the project team workload dispersal. I sent him eight pages.

      Fortunately, my supervisor has my back; I am assigned to the project, but report to her. She’s fully in the loop and has a copy of the list. We’ll see what happens next week.

  27. Little Beans*

    Another department in my organization has been helping us with a project for a while. Their bosses volunteered them to help, but the bulk of the actual work has fallen on 2 support people. One of the people has been extremely helpful, gracious and has done a ton of work for us in addition to her own job without complaint. The other person has been difficult to work with, passive aggressive and generally made it clear at every stage that he is unhappy about helping us. We’re close to finishing the project and would like to do something to thank the helpful person, like give her a gift card. Do we also have to do something for the difficult person? We will still have to work with both of them so I don’t want to poison future relationships by excluding him but we do want to let the helpful person know that we appreciate how much work she did for us and especially her positive attitude about it.

    1. Kathenus*

      That’s a tough one and I’m going to avoid the harder question you ask of getting something for one vs. both. This may already be on your radar, but giving sincere praise about helpful coworker to her boss(es) in writing, and making sure she knows how much you appreciate her and that you’ve passed on this praise to her supervisors can go an awful long way in many companies. It’s nice to thank people, tell them what a good job they’re doing, etc.; but taking the step of passing it on up the chain can help them out in things like advancement, raises, etc. so regardless of where you fall with the gift passing on the praise would be a great thing to do as well.

    2. Blueberry*

      I agree with Kathenus about informing the really helpful person’s superiors, not least because that’s a good way to give her an extra reward, because I think you probably should give both of them a gift for assisting your department, even though one has earned it much more thoroughly than the other. Someone sulky like that might well take offence and cause trouble if he sees someone else get a reward for what he thinks is the same work.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is exactly why I love my company’s co-worker awards program shines. Every employee can give two with a small amount of money attached (infinite number of free ones), and managers can do paperwork for higher amounts for special projects & outstanding results. The awards get noted in your performance reviews and HR record for promotions&transfers.
      We’re supposed to align the recommendations with the corporate goals for personal development — they change whenever upper management changes, but there’s always been one along the lines of teamwork, interdepartmental cooperation, etc. If you can, FORMALIZE those brownie points!

  28. MD*

    What are some good white elephant gifts? I’m trying to stay away from food and alcohol. My coworker is very allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and I don’t want to buy anything that even may contain traces of nuts. That leaves out a lot of those cute pre-wrapped gifts of mugs with cookies or mugs with hot chocolate. The budget is $15-20 (CAD).

    Any thoughts?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some of us hate getting lottery tickets. After seeing the results of addictive gambling on a friend’s family, I would strongly recommend against it.

    1. Princesa Zelda*

      I like to get a classic novel with nice binding. I’ve found some a thrift stores and others at secondhand bookshops. The kind with gilt edges and a ribbon bookmark attached to the spine always feel extra-fancy.

    2. KX*

      Coasters. Political action figures. A string of Edison lights. Luxurious hand towels. Potholders. Portable cell phone charger. CBS All Access Gift Card. A bottle of Folex stain remover, wrapped beautifully, of course. A fancy hose nozzle for the garden.

      Now I have my own shopping to do for my own gift exchange!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I know people find these things funny, but I always try to not buy more tchotchke junk and go for things more useful. I know MD said they were trying to stay away from food and alcohol gifts for some reason, but I sort of hate getting more useless junk too. For that reason I think I’d opt for gift cards to someplace.

        And I’d be really pissed off if I got the Trumpturd !

        1. ...*

          Lol yup….secret santa i always try to get something nice and useful and I usually get back in return a bag of essentially trash. hate all the waste!

    3. Blue Eagle*

      If it’s a white elephant, doesn’t that mean that you aren’t supposed to spend anything but rather look for something that you own that you no longer use? That’s always what we did. And those employees who didn’t have anything at home would go to Goodwill/Salvation Army/other resale shop and get something there for a budget price.

      Maybe a fancy teapot or serving tray?

      1. MD*

        I honestly don’t know if that is how it works. This is my first Christmas at this company, and they have called it White Elephant and stated a $15-20 limit. A quick Google search didn’t mention used gifts, but I should probably ask around the office.

      2. Joie*

        In my home area that’s what White Elephant is but moving into a new area I was very perplexed when the White Elephant came with a price tag. It seems its the same rules but you just bring a new gift to stick in the pile which people pick from.

      3. Earthwalker*

        That’s what I understood. You wrap up that hideous thing Aunt Mabel gave you last Christmas, pass it on to someone else, and everyone gets a good laugh over it, making the office party merry. No Christmas money is spent and no new plastics are purchased. But if there’s a dollar limit, it’s probably not what I understand as “white elephant.” (Around here there are so many “give your office mate a gewgaw that costs $X-$Y” Christmas exchanges that local stores put out shelves marked “$5-$10” and “$10-$20” with horribly generic mugs and key chains of the given dollar value. I just imagine these sad objects marching from store shelves to offices to thrift stores to landfills without ever being used or generating a smile along the way.)

      4. Filosofickle*

        It doesn’t necessarily mean that. How people interpret White Elephant / Yankee Swap / Secret Santa varies by office. Sometimes it’s meant to be tacky, or silly, or nice. Which can be tricky — like, if you brought “something ugly” on purpose and your office expects “something nice” that can be awkward. I’d ask around to find out how this office goes. If they’ve stated a price target, I’m confident buying something is what they intend.

        I’ve never seen an office go the “something you already own” route, though I’ve heard of it for family occasions.

    4. LQ*

      Power bricks. They are so boring but SO useful. And even if someone doesn’t personally use one they nearly always know someone who does. And you can generally find them fairly cheap.

      Slightly odder but has also been good is varying kinds of at work emergency kits. A small sewing kit is a good one. A small multitool, like credit card sized one is good. A small first aid kit.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ooo good ones. I’ll throw in the screwdriver kit I bought myself this summer — it has changeable tips that store INSIDE the handle so they’re harder to lose. And it ratchets.
        The other gadget I got myself that I didn’t expect to like so much is a baseball cap with a built-in light. I got it for walking at dusk on our narrow road — but it turns out to be a great hands-free tasklight.

    5. Digley Doowap*

      I much prefer funny or entertaining SE gifts such as “white elephant gifts for dummies”, a toddler tool kit or a set of safety sparklers that don’t light.
      Make sure to keep your gift for next year’s gift exchange!

    6. Lore*

      My old boss always used to put travel games into the yankee swap—travel scrabble was a big hit, also a handheld Yahtzee electronic game. One year I got two big mugs and a tea assortment (or is that too close to food?). Also fun desk accessories.

    7. Nessun*

      A scarf! A nice unisex scarf can be excellent, especially in a neutral colour or print. …I’m biased, but an extra scarf is always handy. And if they don’t need it, they’re also excellent to donate.

    8. !*

      This year our limit is $25 so I’m going to buy a pair of wireless earbuds (the same I have, which are great and less than $20) and $5 in scratch offs. I’ve given wine and chocolate in the past, which usually goes over well, but wanted to do something different this year.

    9. Ihmmy*

      Tim’s mug with a gift card in it is usually one of our most fought-over items here. Ditto for a Starbucks variant.
      Useful housey things often get snagged too. Good oven mitts, a nice cookbook, tea kits (different types and a nice steeper), hand lotion (unscented pref. but good quality), comfy socks or slippers, even non-noisy fidget items or a silly game (uno, codenames, etc)

    10. Dysfunctional Deb*

      I’ve received bookmarks, book lights, tea accessories, vintage lapel pins, lavender drawer sachets.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nice pen-stylus combo? I have one that also has a mini flashlight…. but I’d trade it for one with a mechanical pencil instead.

    12. RC Rascal*

      This is a late contribution, but I would go to the hardware store and look for some useful tools. There are these all in one tools shaped like monkeys that are useful and fun in that price range. You also might try something like a level or a 6 in 1 Lutz; I use mine all the time. Also, if you live in the suburbs, lawn flamingos are fun.

  29. Kate H*

    Tl;dr: How do you pinpoint accomplishments in your resume when all of your work is collaborative? How do you get away from your full-time job to apply for other jobs?

    I’m over my toxic, dysfunctional, “we’re a family!” workplace. Our turnover rate is so high that probably about half of new hires don’t even show up for their first day. I can’t leave right now for a lot of reasons but I want to be prepared for the day that I can.

    My boss asked me if I’ve been keeping my resume updated (we’re currently hiring and we were talking about everything our team handles in terms of the job listing, I don’t believe my job is at risk) and while I have, I decided to check in on it over the holiday. I like to keep a “master” resume with everything I’ve ever done, so I can cut it down to whatever is relevant to the job at hand. I know Alison recommends focusing on accomplishments rather than responsibilities but what if you can’t point to something and say “I am responsible for that”?

    As an example, I am in charge of a $12 million account. Super impressive but I only handle about 75% of it. There’s still marketing and returns and sales involvement. I’m also not sure if the size of this account is something I’m allowed to disclose. I didn’t build this account. It’s very probable that anyone on our team could’ve brought the account to this level, although I’m very proud of the work I’ve done to contribute.

    My second question is: how do people job hunt when they’re already employed? Previously, my job allowed us to take time off during the work day unpaid as long as we scheduled it two weeks in advance, but now we’re switching over to a PTO in hours model. All of my PTO is already accounted for next year and no one’s certain if we’re going to be allowed to take unpaid time off at all.

    1. Little Beans*

      I’d list the collaborative projects as “led team in accomplishing X”, or “contributed X to Y project”.

      Regarding PTO, how is all of it already accounted for for the entire year? What are you supposed to do if you have a doctor’s appointment or get sick? I would just do whatever you would do then, either tell them you have an appointment or pretend that you don’t feel well.

      1. Kate H*

        My employer previously had a very generous time-off policy in which unpaid time off was basically limited to “if your manager approves it, it’s fine.” The new policy has a lot of confusion around it. We definitely have 10 paid vacation days + 5 paid sick days. However, no one’s sure if we’re allowed to take unpaid time off anymore.

        My wife and I attend a lot of conventions, including one four-day convention that we book tickets/hotel for a year in advance. The truth is, if unpaid time off is a thing of the past, then I have to choose to either cancel booked vacations (many of which are non-refundable) or hope that I never actually get sick so I can use sick days to be out of town.

    2. LQ*

      I think you don’t have to have done 100% of something to say that you are in charge of it. Or that you manage a $12 million account. Manage, direct, oversee, develop (as in build/grow), are words that can indicate you had a lead part but not the only part.

      At my workplace “is your resume up to date” is code for, I’m trying to get you promoted, so you need to be on your best behavior and also make sure your resume is up to date, and most importantly watch the job postings because I can’t tell you, Hey! Apply!

      1. Kate H*

        I’ll see if I can figure out how to phrase it that way. Thank you!

        That’s definitely not what’s happening in my workplace. The only position I can be promoted into is my boss’s position and, even if he was leaving, my employer is not the kind of place where you get to have a choice in your replacement.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Are you allowed to make up hours within the pay period? Instead of working straight eight during the week, if you had an interview on Tuesday, you would make up the 2 hours you were out during the rest of the week.

      1. Kate H*

        I’m actually not sure. We used to have a very restricted “flex-time” where we could schedule to come in early or stay late to make up for missed hours. Being required to use PTO for time-off, though, I’m not sure that will be allowed going forward.

    4. CM*

      You can explain what you actually did as far as the account and be vague about the budget, if you’re not sure you can disclose it. So, “Managed multi million dollar X account (including A, B, C)” or “Managed A, B, and C for an account worth more than $10 million.”

  30. Mbarr*

    Did anyone see the article about a Japanese company that let women identify if they were on their period? It was strictly voluntary, and it was meant to help women out, by letting them take longer breaks, giving people the opportunity to help the women in extra ways, etc.

    In my opinion, it’s a great idea… In theory. But. But. But… I can’t figure out how I feel about this. LOL


    1. Kate H*

      My wife worked in Japan for two years and they had actual paid leave days that you could use if you were on your period. She misses Japan.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, there’s also the part where once you have a child, it’s extremely difficult to stay employed or get a job in Japan.

    2. Asenath*

      I’ve encountered the idea before. I don’t like it. If my periods were bad enough to require leave, that would come under sick leave. And if they aren’t – well, I didn’t require leave just because I was on my period, assuming, as I said, I was healthy in that respect. To my mind, making a blanket arrangement that all women (or presumably all women of child-bearing age, or perhaps all the ones who are menstruating – they’d need a list!) need leave once a month is medicalizing a natural process and encouraging the idea that poor feeble women aren’t capable of holding down a full-time job because, you know, they are incapable of working on a regular basis. Provide health leave for problems stemming from any health issue, including menstrual problems, but leave the healthy women alone.

    3. Kat in VA*

      In theory, it’s a great idea. I have the feeling that here, in the US, it would be another way to dismiss and belittle women.

      “Oh, look, Kat’s being curt again, look out for the PER-I-OD badge!” (When in reality, I just want you to get off your ass and give me the data for the report I’ve asked for three times this week.)

      “Well, we can’t promote Karen – have you seen how she acts when she’s wearin’ that PERIOD badge? Like a crazed harpy! Can’t have someone like that in our upper leadership!”

      A chorus of men: “How come THEY get longer breaks and extra help? WE don’t get period badges! How do we even know they’re on their period for real and not just wearing it to get out of work / get extra time off / leave early / not lift heavy things???”

    4. Nita*

      That sounds kind of awkward… but also a potential awkwardness saver. My job used to be pretty physical, and I had days when I had trouble standing for too long with the cramps. That led to all kinds of awkward situations where I would disappear for unscheduled breaks so I could sit in the car/sit down in really inappropriate places/nearly pass out after forcing myself to stand so I don’t have to explain I’m having trouble. In this case a badge would have been less awkward than trying to act normal.

    5. BasicWitch*

      I want to like it, and I do think we need to be more open about how normal periods are. It shouldn’t be foisted on ALL women, since not all women menstruate or have difficulty when they do (and it should be available to men who menstruate too) but I think it’s a step in the right direction. The workplace has largely been designed by men to accommodate men, and I’m happy to see that’s changing. I don’t think acknowledging that periods can rather suck or impact performance = acquiescing to sexist tropes about women. We need to move beyond the notion that women are only valuable or capable to the degree that we can emulate men, and further the ableist assumption that physical challenges that warrant minor accommodations, regardless of gender, disqualify someone from professional success.

  31. Batman Pays No Tax*

    One day last week I had *eight hours* of meetings. And not “sit at the back eyeing up the biscuits and daydreaming” meetings, but almost-last-chance 1-to-1s.

    It’s part of a new leadership direction for me so I went back over AAM’s archive of difficult conversations and how to get people to buy in. There were a few useful snippets of scripts that I felt confident using, but the most crucial takeaway for me were the ideas of collaborative problem solving (rather than conflict) and that the discomfort of a conversation shouldn’t outweigh its necessity.

    So, a day late perhaps, I’m thankful to Alison and the community for your ideas and support!

    1. Earthwalker*

      Congratulations on surviving your long meetings and finding an excellent way of coping! And thank you for the giggle of “sit at the back eyeing up the biscuits and daydreaming.” It reminds me of So. Many. Team building sessions.

  32. Justfindingajob*

    I have a question. A couple of weeks ago I had an interview at a bank for a financial service representative. I have 4.5 years of customer service, and I’m interested in leaving retail for an entry-level banking job. I met with the assistant branch manager and the current employee holding the FSR position, which I found strange because I was supposed to interview with the branch manager.
    The FSR employee, who is retiring and worked there for 20 years, brings up multiple times in the interview that this job is different from retail. I honestly didn’t know how to respond to it, and I didn’t want to open up my mouth and have anything mean come out, so I kept quiet. I don’t want to come off as unprofessional or that I can’t handle criticism. However, inside I was upset. I understand that this job is way different from retail and way more involved, even though it deals with customer service, product knowledge (I used to work for Michael Kors handbags), selling products, and a once-a-month commission bonus (which we had at MK). The FSR position qualifications are: 6 months of banking experience OR 1 year of customer service experience. A Bachelors Degree in a related field will be considered in lieu of experience. Also, this bank does a 2 week training program at their corporate office. After that, you’ll shadow someone else at a different branch and then transfer back to the branch you interviewed.
    Does anyone here work as an FSR? Why would an interviewer harp on the fact that this position is different from retail like 4 times? I feel like I’m not going to get the job because I don’t have prior banking experience. I found it odd that the FSR employee even kept bringing this up because she was a teller for 10 years, got married and had kids, worked at Macy’s for 8 years, and went back to working at a bank. I just find that odd because how is she going to know what the qualifications are?

    1. Kathenus*

      I’m not in this field, but could see a situation where they’ve had people come in from retail in the past and had issues with incorrect assumptions or expectations, or having the needed transferable skills, etc. If that had happened with past employees, it could explain the focus on this. But that said it’s not overly helpful without them giving you more information – for example, ‘this isn’t like most retail positions in that the job also includes significant back of house paperwork that many people didn’t expect, so we want to make sure you understand that part of the job duties’.

      I’m in a field that is very competitive and desired but which is very different than many people assume from the outside. So there are times with people from somewhat adjacent fields that we need to really talk to about the realities of our organization versus the perception that many people – especially those in related fields – sometimes have about it. So maybe a clumsy attempt at addressing something along these lines.

      1. Justfindingajob*

        Thanks for your reply. I see your point. The assistant branch manager did say that not everyone who has banking experience doesn’t always translate well to this position. I see everyone’s POV. However, just like two snowflakes aren’t alike, no two people from the same industry (retail and banking) will be alike. The ABM and the FSR employee didn’t go in depth about it. They said some things about loans and other banking stuff and then asked me questions relating to the good, bad, and horrible times I had with customers.

    2. LQ*

      Also not in this industry but this to me sounds very much like someone who has been burned by too many people who expected something and ended up with something else. Something like…They expected retail but sitting down and they got a level of attention to rules and regulations that was overwhelming. They expected the customer is always right but have no experience pushing back when the customer is trying to do something illegal. They expect the regular scrutiny of having their drawer checked but do not spend the thousand hours a week or so on the paperwork that is a key piece of the work.

    3. Samantha*

      I worked retail and then worked as a CSR at a couple of different financial institutions. The two are very similar in skill set (customer service, polite, friendly, listening to understand needs, doing what you can to help, staying on schedule, etc.). The main difference I noticed was you can be a lot more casual in retail than you can at a bank, and they take confidentiality very seriously (obviously). In retail if you got a cranky or strange customer it wasn’t uncommon to discuss them afterward with co-workers, but in the bank you have to be a lot more professional.

      I bet the retiring rep was just feeling strange about leaving something she had done for a while. Also, most front facing reps probably don’t have a ton of experience with hiring, so that could just be her lack of skill in interviews

    4. animaniactoo*

      “I understand that it’s different from Retail. In a lot of ways, that’s why I would like to make this switch. But I do think that the skills I have gained in Customer Service, such as [XYZ] will be useful things that I can bring to the role.”

    5. Pseudonomnomnom*

      I’ve worked in banking for 11 years (though mostly in back-office roles), and I’m wondering if this could be a case of them trying to emphasize what type of bank it is? I spent years at a bank that was focused mostly on consumer checking accounts, which is pretty commonly referred to as ‘retail banking’. I then moved to a commercial bank that’s much more focused on small/medium businesses and their owners, and it’s a completely different environment. Depending on the bank’s size, target customers, and how they divide tasks between front and back office roles, I’ve seen really big variations in what’s expected of the front line service reps. However, they should of course make those expectations clear in the job listing and be able to explain that in interviews, rather than just repeating that it’s different from retail.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She probably kept bringing it up because she wanted you to address it. As in, that was your chance to tell her that yes, you’re aware they’re different, but you think your extensive experience with customer service and your handling of money issues (these are examples, not a script) would serve you in this job.

      I’m curious why you think she wouldn’t know the qualifications for the job, unless that’s a typo. It’s much more likely that she knows. She just wanted more info from you. Remember: a job posting is not set in stone; there are things you may need to elaborate on, even if your qualifications are “correct” on paper.

    7. CM*

      I think that was a good opening to ask what differences the FSR had in mind, specifically, or what they anticipated the challenge would be in switching over. It sounds like you interpreted those statements as a criticism or a challenge (and maybe they were meant that way — I don’t know), but I think it would have been okay to ask for clarification on what this person was trying to get at. It’s hard to respond blindly when you don’t know what the concern is, so getting more detailed info on what she meant when she said it was different from retail might have helped.

      But, FWIW, she obviously wasn’t articulating the concern very well to begin with if she just kept telling you it wasn’t retail.

    8. BasicWitch*

      I agree with many of the other comments, but will add my 2 cents: some people are a bit snobbish about hiring people with retail backgrounds. It’s partly understandable because retail has a very low bar to entry, but it’s still rather unfair (and often classist) to assume retail workers who are able to articulate their skills and demonstrate a good track record are out of their league when they try to pivot to other kinds of work. As a former retail-manager who’s hired people who lost their white-collar jobs post-2008, lemme tell you that some of them really don’t get that retail isn’t a cakewalk! So many came in thinking it would be an easy gig, and didn’t last six months.

      So yeah, while the interviewer may have just worded things poorly, saying “it’s not like retail” repeatedly comes off as a bit like that scene in Pretty Woman where the shopkeepers keep emphasizing how expensive the clothes are instead of just letting the main character shop.

  33. WineNot*

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This has quickly become my favorite downtime thing to browse at work these days, so I am grateful for all of the interesting topics and advice!

    What is everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Any favorite things to cook, drink, etc? Love hearing about other people’s traditions. Have a great Friday, hopefully you aren’t all working all day like me!

    1. Stef*

      I love leftovers! Whenever my family has leftover mashed potatoes, my mom showed me to reheat it in a pan (my grandmother did it this way) with a little bit of butter. You let the potatoes turn a little brown and warm and serve it that way. It tastes so much better than microwaving it.
      Also, I’m the “chef” in my family, so I love to cook. My mom complains that I’m like my grandmother in the kitchen when I say you’re not doing it right, mom! Let me cook everything.

    2. UbiCaritas*

      Homemade bread! If I didn’t make homemade bread, everyone would think I don’t love them any more.

  34. Highwind*

    Hi everyone! I’m hoping I can get some professional advice around directing my career path.

    I work for a large client services firm in a junior role (one step above entry level). I’ve been there for almost a year, and I’ve been working exclusively for clients in a single industry (let’s call it Industry A). My practice serves clients in every industry, and it’s typical for others in my role to work across industries. However, I’ve slowly learned over the last year that I was hired specifically to work on clients in Industry A. My previous job gave me key exposure to Industry A, and I’ve been told numerous times by managers “Oh that’s right, you were hired to work on Industry A.” I’m OK with working on Industry A. My team members who also focus on the industry are great, my managers are giving me positive performance reviews, and I feel like I’m starting to be seen as a budding subject matter expert on the industry. But I want exposure to projects and clients in other industries. That’s a big reason why I took this job.

    The main issue as I see it, though, is that I wasn’t supposed to be hired at this firm until a partner who focuses on Industry A pushed for me to be hired. As one manager put it, he “had to go to war” to hire me. After I started working at my firm, the partner told all my managers to keep me busy with Industry A work and asked our scheduling team not to book me on clients outside Industry A without his approval. I’d like to speak up and ask for projects outside Industry A, but I feel like I’d come off as ungrateful to the partner who got me hired. It could also mean stirring the pot within my industry team who’ve all been great to work with so far.

    When I was offered the job, I wasn’t told that I was being hired specifically to work on Industry A. If they’d told me this, I may have chosen to keep looking because getting experience beyond Industry A was one of my “must haves” when I was looking for a new job. I also expressed numerous times in interviews and discussions with HR before receiving the offer that I was excited about the opportunity to work across industries. I really expected that by taking this job that I’d get that cross-industry experience.

    One of my managers recently asked me if I’d be interested in continuing to work on my current project full-time for the next year in Industry A. I originally told her yes because I like the team and the project, but a few days later we had a conversation where I told her that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with being locked down for a year because I wanted to gain exposure to other industries. She was supportive, but she also suggested discussing this with my performance coach and the senior manager on the project team.

    I’m looking for advice on how to approach this. I already have a year-end performance conversation scheduled with my performance coach next week, and I’d like to discuss this with him. In the past, he’s been in favor of me focusing on Industry A and occasionally works with my industry team. Then I’ll need to discuss this with the project’s senior manager and possibly the partner who hired me. I’m still relatively new to the professional world, so I don’t know the best way to have these conversations. Does anyone have some advice?

    1. CM*

      Don’t feel like you need to be grateful to the guy who pushed to hire you. That’s not how you should feel about a job offer in general, but, in this case they also kind of messed up by not telling you that they were offering you a slightly different job than you’d originally interviewed for. If the idea was that they wanted you to focus on Industry A, they ideally would have mentioned that.

      I don’t know what a performance coach is. I think you do need to discuss this with whoever actually determines your work assignments, and I think the way to frame it is pretty similar to what you’ve said here. “When I accepted this job, a big part of what I was looking for was the chance to work on some projects outside Industry A. Since then, I’ve gotten the impression that I was hired to focus on Industry A exclusively, and I wanted to clarify whether that’s true, and whether there’s room for me to work on at least some projects from Industry B, C, whatever.”

      If they tell you they absolutely did hire you to work exclusively on Industry A, you can say, “That’s really disappointing, and I wish I had known that when I received the offer. Is there anything I can do to change your mind?”

      And then, if the answer is no, I think you might need to find another job that gives you more experience outside Industry A.

      To be honest, it sounds kind of sketch that people are telling you big, mythologizing stories about what a special favour this one dude did by fighting to hire you, so be cautious about believing that too much. Sometimes those kinds of stories can be manipulative.

    2. Boomerang Girl*

      My company seems to be set up similarly to yours. It may even be the same company!

      There are benefits to both specializing quickly and being cross industry. The key is to ensure you understand how success is defined for your position because you want to be well positioned for a promotion at the appropriate time. In my company, to be promoted in the junior levels you need to have an Industry badge that demonstrates a certain level of skill and experience. At more senior levels you would be expected to have deep experience in one industry and be conversant in a couple more.

      So what that means is that you should have the conversation with your coach in which you get a good sense of what’s expected to take you to the next level. Then, I suggest you plan accordingly. I don’t think you should be worried about being pigeonholed in an industry. There are typically ways of getting broader exposure. But it’s okay to discuss your interest in other industries with your coach—just don’t position it as dissatisfaction.

      Also, if the yearlong project makes you client billable for that full time, I recommend taking it. Being billable is usually an important metric, and it looks good if you are supportive of company financial goals, even if you are sacrificing personal interest to do so.

      With regard to the partner, I think you should prioritize working on the projects where he wants you. Being sponsored by a partner is usually KEY to success and it’s a pity to squander that. most people don’t get sponsored. Do build relationships with other partners, but don’t appear ungrateful either, because sponsorship can disappear if it’s not nurtured.

  35. Me--Blargh!*

    Drove up to a staffing agency and found a job I applied to and she’d called me about was another dead-end with low pay looking for a lifer. Plus, she primarily handled engineers and lawyers and just happened to have this admin job.

    After we talked, she decided not to submit me. But she referred me to another agency in the same office complex, and I nipped over there to fill out an app. I did get in to talk to a recruiter (I’ll call him Dan) and left a hard copy of my resume, plus emailed him a digital one and my references. (They all ask for this and then never call them.)

    The person who referred me (I’ll call her Gigi) was a lot more positive than Negative Nancy at the first staffing agency I went to a week ago. She also mentioned my employment gap but thought my explanation sounded good. When I talked to Dan, instead of waiting for him to address the gap, I brought it up and explained it right off.

    Gigi even offered to make me extra copies of my resume. I’d found my lost padfolio too, so I had a place to put them. She was great; however, she did advise me to follow up on applications in a way that a very recent AAM letter advised against. No one is perfect. :P

    Both Gigi and Dan said it would help to have agencies looking for me while I was also looking, and Dan’s agency is primarily contract-to-hire instead of more temp-oriented like Negative Nancy’s.

    Nothing has come of this (and I’m not counting on it), but I am pretty proud of myself for getting over my travel anxiety enough to drive all the damn way up to a place I’ve never been, with only a vague idea of where I was, in city/highway traffic, and even corrected easily when I missed my exit because some tw*t wouldn’t let me get over. My hands were shaking when I got there, but no crying or panic attack. Yay me! \0/

      1. Me--Blargh!*

        Heh, I’m feeling confident so I just re-applied to a reposted job that rejected me in March, but I was in OldCity then and am now in CityWhereTheJobIs (or functionally nearby), so hire me already!

        Also, it’s easier to get around and stuff is closer than I thought. I’m staying down in the boonies, but it was only a twenty/twenty-five minute drive up to the suburb where the agency is. That’s a lot better than three hours, plus I’ll move when I get something anyway. I’m specifically not looking for a permanent position down here. I cannot live without a Latino and Asian market.

        I wish someone would hurry up and give me something great because the apartment building I have my eye on has openings. D:

    1. KR*

      I’m proud of you and I’m certain that this period of unemployment is galloping towards an end. Some lucky company is about to find you (or the other way around :) ).

  36. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I applied for two jobs via USAJobs, one was possibly an OK fit, the other felt like it was written for me! For the first, I’d have to find out more in the interview to see if it was something I’d want to do; it sounds very similar to stuff I do now or have done before, but in a mostly new (but adjacent) area. I don’t want to get too specific and out myself, but I can say that since it’s a tech job, I know the technical side well, but the subject matter would be the mostly new area, but it’s somewhat related to what I’ve been doing for 20 years. Of course, I’d like the second job, but at this point I’m not going to be quite as picky as I have been, since the future of our current work is in question.

    And sure, Federal agencies can be slow to hire, but at least with USAJobs, they tell you if you’ve been selected as qualified or not, and when the position has been filled, so they can’t really just ghost you…or, at least not for too long.

    Wish me luck!

    1. A grad student*

      Good luck! It sounds like you have a great shot! Some govt agencies actually move pretty quickly… I think some of them state that you should hear from them within 45 days of the closing time. This is even more the case if they’re under a Direct Hire notice.

  37. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

    Do people here make 30-60-90 day plans when they first begin a new job, and if so, how do you go about it?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I have had one at my last two jobs and I think they really need to be developed primarily by your manager, with some input from you.

  38. Peep Ops*

    *Reposting down here as I accidentally posted as a reply!*

    I currently work in a soon-to-be extremely profitable and exciting startup company who’s mission I completely love and relate to. I have been given a role that if I continue to grow into will set me up to be the HR Director for a 200+ employee company in the next two years or so which is the most direct career path to success I could imagine. I’ve been here for only 7 months and have already received a promotion and a 10% pay raise, plus I have an extremely supportive supervisor who is ready to help get me the training I need to succeed.

    Only catch is is that about 50% of the time I am miserable here. I have the job of Office Manager, all of HR, and Executive Assistant all in one, expectations for performance across the company are built intentionally unacheivable to increase overall output (meaning I’ve had a bunch of project assigned to me that have underperformed/failed to negative feedback), I’ve asked for pt help (or an intern) to help cover my overflowing workload but have been told that that won’t happen for several months/that I just need to get it done. I’ve never been in an office that has had so many people come to my room to stress cry (up to 6 different people in one week for a 45 person office) and but the underlying reasons for the anxiety/office stress are only going to get worse over time. Any changes to office culture/underlying issues I have pushed for have been met by the Executive Team with “if people can’t adapt to what we’re doing, they shouldn’t be here.”

    I don’t feel like I can cut it in this high-stress, high-failure environment and want to switch to something with better balance but am worried a career step down after only 7 months is going to effect my next job prospects/set me back career-wise. All other jobs I’ve been in have been 2-3 years tenure with changes being b/c of location move or career advancement. Anyone else been in the same situation where your path to success is lined with a future of failure, stress, and anxiety? Did you just cope and or back out and was it worth it?

    1. Colette*

      I’d move on. That sounds like a really unhealthy environment, and there is no guarantee that you will get the promotion in 2 years. (They could go with someone else, or run out of money and shut down, or fire you for non-performance even though their expectations are unreasonable).

      I also question their management, since building intentionally unachievable expectations is likely to demoralize people and decrease overall output rather than increase it.

      Finally, your health is far more valuable than a promotion.

      1. Peep Ops*

        That’s a good point on the professional trajectory – think I have been struggling with that since there are such high performance expectations. We certainly promote from within quickly, but there’s been a growing sense of fear of being fired that has seeped into the culture here; leadership’s attitude certainly hasn’t helped.

        Thanks for the thoughtful feedback!

        1. UbiCaritas*

          I’d be concerned about high expectations coupled with “intentionally unachievable” – sounds cruel to me. I’d get out.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Don’t just cope – you can push back further, right up to “I don’t think I’ve been clear enough: Without help it will be literally impossible to get it all done, so if help isn’t coming we need to triage and I need to focus on what will be most effective to do right now. I believe that would be A, B, & C initiatives, and can probably tackle D if I have some free moments. Otherwise, D-G will need to either go to other people or be set way on the backburner until help is available”.

      and as one person I know famously said in terms of quitting after 6 months “I can explain 6 months as a bad fit. I can’t explain having stuck this insanity out for longer than that”. I would say that working somewhere that sets objectives that are intentionally unachievable qualifies for that status.

      1. Peep Ops*

        The high standards I think has become in vogue for startups; if you’ve ever heard of OKRs they were highly popularized by Google. Essentially you break down high level goals to measurable key results, but a lot of companies including Google set 70% of achievement for a goal as “baseline” for success meaning that actually getting to the company goal is nearly impossible but then you are pushing teams to do more than what is necessary.

        Seems like a great practice in theory but everyone here is started to get failure fatigue since we never reach our goals and even though 70% is “acceptable” leadership continuously pushes managers to push their staff to hit goals. A lot of dissonance between what is said and what is done means our office of high achievers is starting to crack under the pressure.

        Appreciate the thoughtful feedback and the recommendations for setting firm boundaries!

    3. HA2*

      Seems like an unsustainable place. They’re banking on burning people out as fast as they can, wringing every last bit out of them. That can give you a bunch of growth in the short term (<1 yr term) and then stalling and failure down the line as experience doesn't accumulate, key people burn out, they're forced to hire the desperate instead of the best.

      I also wouldn't be so sure that the company is necessarily "soon to be profitable" and "gong to grow to 200+" if you don't have personal knowledge of how good the product is and how well its selling. Startups are notorious for inflating their projections. And given the terrible culture, I expect that to come back and bite them one way or the other.

      I definitely wouldn't stick it out for the long term, hoping for things to get better. They won't – culture change has to come from (or at least have buy-in) fro the top, and the execs have told you they don't want anything to change. Depending on how bad it is, it might be worth sticking it out to get past the 1-year mark to make it look better on the resume, but definitely no longer than that. And only do that if you can successfully compartmentalize, and stay there without harming your health.

      1. Peep Ops*

        The profitable I feel very confident about – we’re about to head into a series B funding where we’ve already received financial commitments of $10 million plus in the next round – plus currently have some financial backing from some industry behemoths. But is the promise of future wealth really worth the current health drain and the gamble versus a sure thing somewhere where I’m happy? Who’s to say on the trade off but I guess myself

        To your last point I’ve joked with a coworker who’s repeatedly asked “how do you do what you do” that it’s all about compartmentalization and wine, but the wine part isn’t really doing my health any favors at this point, ha.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Ew, Yeah, well that is kind of life in a startup. One person for 3 jobs (or more), at least at first.
      I think you have to really assess HOW successful you see this being in 18-24 months. Will it grow so quickly they will have to then hire more help? Or will they continue pinching pennies? Because as this company grows, HR will need to become a full time job on it’s own. The Office Manager/Executive Assistant… well those may be able to one person depending on the duties-IDK.

      What disturbs me more is the attitude of “if people can’t adapt to what we’re doing, they shouldn’t be here,” which quite frankly is horrible. It might be ok, if that message was more like “hey, we know everyone is covering more jobs than they possibly can, try and hang in there until we’re in a better place and can hire more help.”

      I think you just have to decide if you CAN hang in? Because life at a small startup will always be pretty stressful in general. It may not be for you, and that’s perfectly OK to want more work/life balance and less stress.

      1. Peep Ops*

        You make a good point; the attitude is probably what is the most stressful for me personally. It’s almost an attitude of “you need to speak up if you need help but also you should be able to get everything done that you are assigned so just be better.” I’ve worked in objectively more emotionally challenging jobs and jobs where I’ve consistently worked more hours, but for whatever reason this has been the most draining maybe due to the dismissive leadership attitude. You brought up a good question – thanks for sharing!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Here’s the key part: That attitude does not just apply to folks over there, it also applies to you, too. Just as other employees are disposable so are you. You may not notice it right now, but in a bit you will. They are showing you how they are going to treat you, too. It’s okay to believe them.

      2. Anonymato*

        “if people can’t adapt to what we’re doing, they shouldn’t be here” – but isn’t the solution of getting an intern a way to adapt to a too big a workload? (Just as hiring services or getting computer programs that handle part of your work are all ways of adapting?) Do they understand how much toll burn out is and how much they lose if they have to keep training new people? Do they understand how people can’t be productive with so much stress (long-term)? Can you all push back as a group? Sometimes it takes people long time to before they wake up to see the damage they are causing to the company by pushing so hard. I would be worried that this culture will continue no matter how profitable they get because they are thinking short-term and don’t understand that without strong invested team they won’t be successful long-term. I am so sorry you are in this situation.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Have you considered that if you’d be heading up HR, you’d be the face of a lot of these bad practices, and part of your job would likely be helping to execute those bad practices (including participating in firing people who can’t meet unrealistic goals)?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yeah, that was my first thought. Sure, you might end up head of HR for a 200 person company, but if that company is a dumpster fire of employees burning out because of horrible attitudes from mgmt, that may not be a role you want. Mgmt attitudes are far less likely to change if they are successful at making a profit, esp when it comes to those ridiculous unrealistic expectations. They’ll be inclined to credit those policies for the success, regardless of the cost and turnover in staff.

        And would you stay if you got passed over for the head of HR role? It’s not that you can’t cut it, it’s that the environment sounds awful and stressful and unforgiving. Never feel like you failed if you don’t want to continue to stay there.

      2. Peep Ops*

        I’ve certainly been thinking about that. Ive been doing a lot in the background to try to push change but I’ve been feeling more and more that I’m pushing snake oil to new hires which is completely against my moral compass.

        Suppose more reason to consider getting out, thanks for the insight.

    6. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      Leave. They will suck the life out of you until there’s nothing left and then fire you if you don’t quit first. I worked for a company like that, that had a 100% turnover every 2 years. They try to keep you hooked with the allure of possible riches but that likely won’t come to pass.

    7. lasslisa*

      You shouldn’t assume a move will be downward. At least you should be looking for a lateral move. A few possible explanations: your current (soon to be former) employer hadn’t realized the scope of effort required to accomplish their claimed goals; hired you to do one job but your responsibilities were drifting to primarily other areas you weren’t interested in as a career path and you’re trying to pivot back to your preferred field; you hadn’t realized how badly underresourced they were and gave it your best try to create a plan to accomplish their goals, but weren’t able to overcome the situation; you just realized the uncertainty of startup life wasn’t for you…

      The goal here is in a month or two you can go back to management and say, “remember a while back we talked about how you aren’t staffing to accomplish the goals, and are yelling at people for failing to accomplish goals you yourself described as intentionally unattainable? At the time, you said anyone who doesn’t like it can leave. I’ve thought about it and decided to take your advice, so I will be tendering my resignation.”

    1. Anonymouse for this*

      Lol – that’s me when I travel for the holidays. This Christmas it’s 4 flights, 3 weeks vacation, visiting 2 countries and by the start of the 3rd week I’ll be dreaming of home and wishing I hadn’t taken so much leave. Don’t miss my job though.

  39. Sled dog mama*

    So I posted a couple of weeks ago that I was let go by my employer (on Nov 11). When they fired me they gave a reason that was odd and my lawyer believes won’t hold up.
    Last week I had two interviews (20th and 22nd) with a colleague’s company (worked with him before he went out on his own with this company). They had another candidate scheduled to interview December 3 rd so weren’t going to be getting back to me until after that. They called today to say that the other candidate canceled and they are offering me the job.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        It sucked to not be leaving on my terms but the old place really didn’t have that much going for it and I was already looking around because I was seriously underpaid.

  40. Randomity*

    Applying to an internal job today. I’ve heard from someone that has a good line in to these things that there have already been over 25 applicants. Can’t help feeling that applying is just an exercise in showing willing at this stage. Oh well.

    1. Pam*

      The last hiring committee I was on had over 50 applications that made it past HR screening. We interviewed 6 to start, and then added on more, as it was decided to make multiple offers. Fingers are crossed!

    2. Going Anonymous for this one*

      Hang in there! Remember that sometimes your co-workers might not really know what they’re applying for. Like the long-ago printshop manager who applied for a job with the title “technical writer” and was surprised to find that he would have to, you know, WRITE.

  41. Angus McDonald, Boy Detective*

    Is it in bad faith to apply to a job where the salary is slightly too low?

    I am in the UK, and am looking to start a new job next year. Around half of the jobs I see advertised have salaries included, which is helpful. I am currently earning £20,000 so I am hoping to move up to £22,000+. If I see a job advertised for, say, £18,000-20,000, is it in bad faith to apply, and then try to negotiate? After all, they have stated their range for a reason. However, I also feel like if I am only just outside of it, there might be some wiggle room.

    1. animaniactoo*

      As long as you’re upfront if they call you for an initial screening/interview. “I am interested in the job, but before we schedule anything, I wanted to know if the 20k is a hard limit or if there’s wiggle room to go up to about 22k for somebody who warrants it?”

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Eh, Well, you can TRY. £2,000 per year is not a huge difference, but you have to realize that £20,000 may also really be their maximum budget. Here in the U.S., there is generally some expectation and room for negotiation, but I can’t say if that is the job search culture for the UK.

      Here is would not be considered bad faith to apply anyway and ask this on a phone screen before the in-person interview. Typically you could say something like: “I see you’ve listed a salary range of 18-2o per year, is there any room to go a bit higher?” It’s a tricky thing. Some places may actually have the budget to go to £25,000 but advertise 10-20% lower. Even so, you wouldn’t want to go so much higher as to be way out of line for your experience, job level, or industry.

    3. Hellophoebe*

      It depends on the sector as well. I work in the UK higher ed sector and for all of the jobs at my organisation at your salary level, the range is the range, no exceptions. Also, it’s assumed that you will be offered the lowest end of the range unless you have highly relevant experience. In my current role, I was able to negotiate to the mid point of the range and that was considered a very good offer. I think it would be similar across the public sector here in the UK but there’s probably more room for negotiation in the private sector.

  42. InstaPot Head*

    Need advice from the commentariat.

    I work for a large company that has made, let’s say Stoves and Refrigerators for many years. I work in the new InstaPot division, which is a small high-tech division of the company that has been proven to be very successful. Because IntstaPot is a small group, we are very integrated and everyone fills multiple roles: I was hired to do both IntstaPot Operations and InstaPot Marketing solely for this new division when it started.

    Well, due to reorganization within the company, it was mandated that I had to move to the Stove and Refrigerator Operations side of the business, where I was told I would no longer be able to just support the still-growing InstaPot group, but would now have to also support various Stove and Refrigerator Operations too. To do this, I would have to give up doing any Marketing for the InstaPot group completely, which would be outsourced.

    And I don’t want to!

    I took this job to grow the InstaPot business. I have no real interest or knowledge of the Stove and Refrigerator market, plus, the Stove and Refrigerator business is in decline and will continue to be so. As such, It’s not a very attractive career trajectory in addition to me not knowing those markets. I want to stay working on InstaPots, which are new and exciting technology, and where I can see growth and success.

    I have tried to push back on this (lateral move, not a promotion) given that the InstaPot side still needs a lot of help to continue growing their sales and market share, but it seems this is falling on deaf ears. The InstaPot group is unhappy because they don’t feel they’ll be supported once the InstaPot Marketing is outsourced and Stove and Refrigerators takes over, and I’m unhappy to be forced to change my role for something I’m not interested in.

    Has anyone been able to negotiate getting out of such a drastic change of role? If so, how?
    Because right now, I can’t see any way out but to quit and find another job.

    I’m angry, because I’ve loved my InstaPot work and don’t want to leave it, but I can’t see any other way out. Some people say I should give Stoves and Refrigerators a try, and that I might like it because it’s bigger and has more resources, but honestly, I never would’ve worked for this company until I found the InstaPot opportunity. I want to work with technology of the future, not the past. Believe me, working on that side of the business is not going to turn it around. I feel it is also a huge mistake by the company to pull people off of the successful InstaPot group (I was not the only one to be pulled), but that’s another ball of wax.

    1. animaniactoo*

      What you can say (as two separate arguments): “I was interested in coming to work here specifically to work on the InstaPot side of things. If the role had been advertised for Stoves and Refrigerators, I would not have applied for the job.”

      “I am concerned that initiatives are being made to try and move people who have been successful in one area to duplicate the success in another area but the fact that it is the core product which has the opportunity for that success is being ignored.”

      But ultimately, it sounds like you’re going to need to quit and see if June is hiring or some such.

    2. CM*

      I’m really sorry. Essentially what happened is that they eliminated your job and offered you a different one that you don’t want. It makes them feel less guilty, but the impact on you is pretty much the same as if you’d just been fired. Plus, it feels insulting that the company assumes you don’t care what your job is and you’ll just be cool with whatever.

      You’re probably going to have to leave, so my advice is to explain it to them the way I just said it — that your job was eliminated and you appreciate them offering you a different job, but you don’t want it — and then ask them to formally fire you so you can get unemployment and whatnot.

  43. Jesse*

    Hi folks,

    I could use your advice on how to manage a LinkedIn connection that has gone bad.

    I add my university students to my LinkedIn. One of these students has since become rude, demanding, and generally behaved in a manner for which I would never recommend him to any of my connections anyways. This is well beyond conversation point or mentoring.

    Would you just delete in this situation or would you try to address it further up? There is already an active case going on but I’m not involved in it.

    1. Profane Pencils*

      I would delete them. It sounds like it could or already has gotten very messy, and that’s simply not worth the effort it would take to address it, especially since you already know they’re beyond discussion.

      1. valentine*

        Delete, report, cull, and only keep/add people you could give a good reference to right now, or wait until they’ve graduated.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Have they been rude to you ON LinkedIn? If so, delete and advise further up that you have done so and why. Let them decide what to do with that, if anything. If not, delete or ignore at your leisure and report up the chain only what you would report regardless of the LinkedIn connection.

    3. BasicWitch*

      Has Alison done a post about LinkedIn etiquette/horror stories? Because I would read the $#%! out of that.

  44. EJane*

    I work as a technical writer for a small tech company. This is a new position for the company, and sort of for me. I have years of copy-editing experience for medical journals, and this position was created for me, much to my delight.
    I know what my timelines look like for editing. I know how long things take me, and can predict the turnaround with pretty decent accuracy.
    The problem is that this job requires editing and writing, and the latter is much harder. I’m very very good at turning a rough outline into a fleshed-out document–just finished a massive RFQ for a project–but I still haven’t figured out how long things will take me.

    For other writers in the building: How much do you expect to produce on any given day? Do you measure it in words, or in progress milestones? How do you explain that space of being stuck on something and struggling to make progress after churning out 2k words in 4 hours to someone who’s not a writer?

    1. Super Duper Anon*

      15 year technical writer here. I normally measure by progress milestones. But estimating for me is mostly in my head at this point because I have done this for a long time now and know how fast I work and can factor in the obstacles I can foresee with a project.

      I have two things to recommend. First, if you are new to technical writing, I would look up some online courses on topic-based writing. Technical writing has moved beyond manuals with big long sections and chapters into small discrete chunks of information called topics. Knowing how to write this way will help you break down your work into more manageable and easily estimated portions.

      Secondly, once you start chunking your information this way, create an estimation spreadsheet of some kind. I had this in my last position that paired with a documentation plan. Once I got wind of a project and had gotten some information about it, I created a table of contents for the manual, listing out all of the topics I thought would need to be in there. I would then count up how many topics were in these four categories:
      Topic in another manual and can be reused without any edits
      Topic in another manual and can be reused with some minor edits
      Have a similar topic, but information will need some major edits before I can reuse it
      Write entirely new thing from scratch

      I would enter these numbers into a spreadsheet that had a formula to calculate out the total time for each category of topic (for example, 3 hours per entirely new topic, 2 hours per topic for major edit, half hour per topic for minor edits) and this would give me a reasonable estimate on the time it would take to complete the whole project.

      You will need to figure out your estimate numbers as you go based on experience, and the spreadsheet is just a rough guess, there are all kinds of things that come up that can delay the writing process, but it really did help me.

      1. EJane*

        Oh man this is very helpful! Thankfully our company actually just set up individual udemy accounts for everyone, so I’ll see if they have anything good on topic writing.
        And thank you very much for the spreadsheet. I’m legitimately bookmarking this thread so I can come back to it, hah.

    2. fellow writer*

      I’m a writer in a development office. I’ve found that with time and practice, I’ve gotten good at predicting how long something will take, so that will likely come for you. My timelines have gotten shorter as well.

      Ironically, I think they’ve gotten shorter because I build “being stuck” time into my timelines. Some days are more productive than others, and writers aren’t machines. The process has an ebb and flow, and allowing for both helps writers better predict timelines overall as well as deliver without all that messy guilt that equates ebb with “wasting time.”

      1. EJane*

        Thank you for putting words to the ebb and flow. My immediate supervisor is not a writer nor has ever managed one, and she wants to measure work by how many hours I should spend on something instead of what deadlines I need to meet. (I’m paid as a regular employee, so it doesn’t cost the company less for me to do something quickly.) I’ve been really struggling with that limit–especially because she sets it, and wants to know why editing and reformatting a 2-page document doesn’t take 15 minutes.

        1. fellow writer*

          That’s a tough one. Is she reasonable in other ways? She’s essentially saying she wants to dictate a process she doesn’t understand, and wants to set unreasonable limits.

          For conversations with supervisors like these, I’ve tried to a) remember I’m a professional, even with these (subtle and usually unintentional) digs at my profession and skills and b) try to walk the supervisor through what they need and how I can communicate it to them in ways they prefer. So for this, if you are meeting deadlines, what is she hoping to get out of measuring your hours? Is it a better sense of your workflow? Does she want to actually know the specifics behind why it takes two-three hours to reformat a document so she can better understand your job? Is she just feeling lost?

    3. Sherm*

      As for expectations, I expect to meet the deadlines, whether it’s a “The project is due tomorrow” sort of deadline or “Jane wants to see the draft by Friday” kind of deadline. I don’t sweat producing X amount in Y amount of time, especially since my work can be a bit uneven, going from super-busy to not-terribly busy.

      If a deadline is imminent…well, you can’t afford to be stuck. (My tip for getting through being stuck is to write something, anything, on the page. It’s okay if it’s low quality — it’s a first draft!) If a deadline is *not* imminent, then I don’t think being a bit stuck is anything to explain and would feel a little micro-managed if I were asked for very frequent updates on my progress (although I’m sure in certain companies/situations it would be appropriate).

      1. EJane*

        Thank you! You actually reminded me of something.
        My manager from my first copyediting job back in college is still an excellent source of support, and when I reached out to her for her advice on being stuck, she gave me a piece of really lovely advice:
        “One of the things that completely precludes progress is trying to get content down and be satisfied with how it reads. Those are different cognitive processes. One is creation, the other is editing. You can’t do them simultaneously.”

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you looked into the Society for Technical Communication? You might benefit from their “Lone Writer” special interest group.
      (Which reminds me I’m overdue to re-up my membership… time to see if our new management will cover the fee like long-ago management did.)

  45. animaniactoo*

    As long as you’re upfront if they call you for an initial screening/interview. “I am interested in the job, but before we schedule anything, I wanted to know if the 20k is a hard limit or if there’s wiggle room to go up to about 22k for somebody who warrants it?”

  46. Hattie McDoogal*

    I got offered and accepted a new job this week. I gave notice to my boss yesterday and now I can’t help second-guessing myself. I took my current job because I thought it would help me with a career path I used to but no longer want, and I don’t know if I’m feeling regretful because I’m just sad about that particular dream being dead, or if it’s just normal anxieties about a new job, or if I’m genuinely making a bad choice with the new job.

    1. Peep Ops*

      Leaving a job can often feel like a breakup – sometimes the last job wasn’t all that bad it just wasn’t the right “fit” persay. You can start second guessing yourself and then remembering all the good things about the job as opposed to the reasons why you decided to leave. This is completely normal and you may still feel this way a month or so after you leave. You’ll be better able to see the real impact of your decision three months or more after but until then it’s totally ok and normal to feel this way.

      Best thing to do is make sure you make you close out your last roll on the best of terms as is possible to hopefully keep the door ajar if the new role turns out to be a mistake. Then focus on enjoying your new job as much as possible. Good luck with the new opportunity!

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Thank you for this response! I was mostly posting just to vent (because my husband is sick of my constant fretting) but this is very helpful advice. :)

    2. wingmaster*

      I totally understand how you feel. That was me earlier this month. I was actually quite sad to give my notice, mainly because I really do love my team. My new job has me relocating to a new state next week, which is exciting, but I was also very anxious. What has helped me was being proactive in my apartment search and reaching out to my contacts in the new area. Also, I reminded myself why I did the job search, accepted a new job, gave notice, etc in the first place.

      Like what Peep Ops mentioned, make the remaining days the smoothest transition possible for your team and your manager, so that you can end of the best terms.

  47. Hedgehug*

    I just need to get this off my chest, as someone who answers the phone as part of my job.
    It severely grinds my gears when someone comes to my office or calls and says: “I’ve been trying to call/have called a few times and *no one is answering*”. I’m not sitting here doing nothing. I am on the phone, or helping someone, not ignoring the phone. I only have one phone line. This statement is very antagonistic and accusatory and instantly makes me angry and defensive. Please, if you are ever tempted to say this, instead say “I was unable to get through”.
    End of rant.

    1. animaniactoo*

      If the phone is not being answered, it’s because your company has not properly prioritized getting the phone answered. Please do not take the statement as a slight against you, rather than a slight against the company’s priorities.

      1. Hello*

        I think Hedgehug’s point is that these are calls directed to them and their phone has not rung or they were on the phone or busy doing other aspects of their job. So saying you’ve been trying to call and saying it in a way that implies that Hedgehug is not answering the phone or doing their job is not conducive to a congenial relationship.

        1. Avasarala*

          Well… no one IS answering. The person calling doesn’t know why that is. The fact that nobody picked up is true and not antagonistic IMO. Hedge sounds defensive and sensitive to the fact that she gets more calls than she can handle, which is the real issue here, not that people are rudely accosting her.

          1. Hedgehug*

            I don’t get more calls than I can handle. I get about 7 phone calls a day, sometimes less, but I also physically help people who come to my office and when I am with someone, I cannot stop my conversation with them to turn my back and answer my phone. People are not necessarily accosting me over this, but the phrasing of “no one is answering” implies I am ignoring them for the sake of it. I definitely know it is not a slight against me, I’m not doing anything wrong, it’s just the accusatory phrasing irritates me. To add some context, I work in a non-profit where everyone understands I work essentially by myself and can only do my best with what I am given.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Voice mail helps with this. I would push on this point, it is rude to leave people hanging. A good number of people are satisfied to leave a voice message.
      If you have voice mail what does your outgoing message say? I’d make sure it says something about, “If I do not answer during business hours that is because I am working with another customer/client. Please leave your name and brief message and I will call you back shortly.”

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*


        This is 2019, not 1979. Voicemail is a wonderful thing. You don’t have to hang up and keep calling back anymore.

    3. Invisible Fish*

      WHY do people do that? Well, you got through to a person now, bucko- how about handling whatever business you had that’s so dang urgent instead of complaining?? (I only have to worry about my phone, but I’m rarely at my desk, so I get similar statements. WHAT is that designed to accomplish? Annoying me? Well, it worked!)

      1. Blueberry*

        They do that to punish us for not being at their personal beck and call. Ugh.

        My personal way of handling it is to roll my eyes, put on a big smile (the old line about how “people can hear you smile on the phone” seems to actually be true) and say, “I apologize for your previous call going unanswered. How can I help you now?” or something along those lines.

  48. Retail not Retail*

    Two questions – is time worked automatically overtime if any of your hours for the week are coming from PTO or company holidays?

    This week I’ll work 48.5 hours but 2 days are PTO and one day is a paid holiday so I only actually worked 24.5 hours. Next week is the same – 4 extra hours but Saturday is a paid personal day. (We get an absurd amount of PTO for what we get paid and this is the slow season for my department)

    Extra pay is extra pay, so if it’s straight I’ll be bummed but live.

    Question 2 – what are good mental adjustments for working with someone you loathe? I’ve seen he actually works better with me compared to other women which is just so annoying because he drives me up the wall.

    One thing he does is complain about everything. He hates the work we do, he hates where we work, and he hates the guests we do the work for. I find myself mentally defending people who litter! I even had a kid look at me and toss a wrapper and I still just say “must have been an accident” when we’re cleaning the lot.

    I ignore him a lot when he’s rambling which has led to misunderstandings because he uses imprecise language – “cart” for wagon when we also have golf carts at our disposal and “deal” for literally anything – person, thing, idea, task.

    Any ideas?

    1. anon24*

      Assuming you’re in the US and there are no different state or local laws in your area the n legally you only get OT for hours *worked* over 40. So if you worked a normal workweek and would take say Monday off and use 8 hours PTO and then worked your normal Tuesday-Thursday hours but stayed an hour late Friday you wouldn’t get that hour as OT because you only were physically at work for 33 hours, even though you are getting paid for 41. My last job loved to schedule mandatory meetings outside work hours during holiday weeks because of this.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        That makes sense unfortunately.

        Although at my old retail job (union!) where we got paid weekly, they left out a half hour and put it on the next check. That week wasn’t scheduled 40 hours but became 40 so that half hour was OT!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For us, sick time won’t contribute to calculating OT, but company holiday and vacation do. Theoretically….we’ve been on no-OT for so long I wouldn’t know if it’s been adjusted.

    2. LGC*

      With the pay – one more quirk is that it’s based off your company’s pay week, not the calendar week. Someone can work Monday through Saturday 8 hours a day one week and then 4 days and have a holiday the next week – but if their pay week runs Saturday to Friday, they don’t get any time and a half.

      With your co-irker – can you extend him the same grace you extend your deals customers? Barring that, hopefully you don’t have to work with him constantly, so you can employ the old “counting backwards” trick until you don’t have to deal with him. And it seems like you’re already doing a decent job – he works better with you than other women. (This doesn’t mean you should have to put up with him!)

      If empathy isn’t possible, pity can be an acceptable fallback.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        It’s hard because I do work with him every single day – we’re a pair to our boss!

        He once said “great, another thing to wash” when our boss got us cut proof sleeves for summer vine removal (thorns, sharp grass, friggin poison ivy). And he called one of our winter tasks “women’s work”!

        It has been amusing watching the two other women on the team sour on him after a couple days one on one after swearing they’re not bothered.

  49. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    I work graveyards, my managers generally schedule themselves to start as I’m walking out the door (assuming that they get there on time) or and hour or more after I’m off shift. Yet they won’t communicate in writing most of the time. Like, I’m not going to call them on my shift unless it’s an absolute emergency. And knowing whether or not I can pull extra muffins, or how to juggle a large task change isn’t a good phone call in the middle of the night call. (one is too minor, the other too complicated).
    And right now if I stayed late *without pay* it would end up cutting into my sleep time due to how long it takes to get home on the bus. (I go to bed at noon, well I try to anyways, and if I left the store after a half hour discussion with my manager I would get home at 10:30, assuming she arrived on time. Especially since the buses only run every 30 minutes and it takes 30 minutes to get home, plus 20 minutes if I have to walk from the bus stop)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had a similar setting. I set up a communication book and asked everyone to leave messages for me. Whether the boss did or not became moot, because others were talking to me via the book. This way I knew those last minute changes such as pulling extra muffins. I made sure to respond to each message.

      The larger and more detailed tasks simply did not get done until someone decided to train us. Sometimes we have to let management, you know, manage. It’s up to management to have a training schedule and get everyone on the same page.

  50. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    So, after three months of comings and goings, today was my coworker’s last day. Let’s call him Simon.
    Simon was a 100% remote employee, transferred to my team a little while after I started to train all the new team members since he has plenty of experience with the technologies we use. The thing is, he delivered almost no significant work, was almost unreachable and always blamed his low performance on a myriad of technical issues (slow computer, expired passwords, no access to the internal systems, getting kicked out of the company intranet, getting bored easily, etc, etc). The only time he got the chance to choose a task to tackle he handed in something completely different than expected, so different it went straight to rework and stayed there for a month. He even had the gumption to say his main goal in life was to earn a juicy salary. (Don’t we all?) The day after the last meeting with the client, I set aside my boss and told him Simon was damaging our team’s reputation and I was determined to act as he wasn’t even there. He handed in his resignation to the remotes’ supervisor (not to my boss) the following day, leaving a bunch of unfinished work that now I have to complete before it’s too late.
    Farewell Simon, we won’t miss you.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s a truly fabulous thing when crappy coworkers, bosses, direct reports, etc. leave of their own accord.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Allow me to channel my inner grumpy grandparent: “Good riddance to bad rubbish!”

  51. Tiger Snake*

    I recently had the opportunity to take over my manager’s duties for a few months while they were acting in a different role. Some things I do okay at, others not so much. But, I do have one concrete example that I’d like for advice on how I could have done better;

    One of my team members, Wakeen, is responsible for multiple tasks. He’s a busy, in-demand man. One of those tasks is processing teapot paint-change requests (confirming that the colour is allowed, processing it to be submitted to the painters, etc.) Paint-change requests have a turn-around time of 10 days, and are very common (but random, rather than predicatable in load/demand).

    As part of my weekly catch-up meetings with Wakeen, I was specifically asking him whether all our paint-change requests were up to date. I was asking him how many we had (he’d answer something like “about 12 came in this week”), and how many/how long it had taken him to process them (“I spent about 3 hours and got 15 done”). Because he was so busy, he wasn’t getting them done consistently within a week – but he was looking at the paint requests every fortnight, which is how long the turn-around was, so I figured that was okay. The numbers seemed to add up, and when I asked him whether he was having issues getting the paint-change requests done along with his other work, he was saying it was under control. I did ask him to schedule a specific time in his calendar to do them every week, but he didn’t get around to it.

    When I performed my handover to my next coworker, Geoff, acting as manager (our manager was away from 9 months, so we were getting about 3 months in the role each). When Geoff ran through Wakeen’s tasks with him, he found that Wakeen actually had a backlog of about 100 paint-change requests, including some that were meant to have been done a month ago.

    I was pretty shocked. At no point in our weekly catch-ups had Wakeen ever suggested that there was a backlog of this size, or that he wasn’t getting them done by the due date.
    There were ways we were able to deal with this – other staff are trained to do paint-change requests as a backup, so we pulled them off their projects and got them to process the paint-change requests. But this could have be sorted out much earlier, before any of these requests were expired, if I’d only been able to identify that Wakeen wasn’t getting through the backlog.

    My question therefore is; what could I have done differently, to find this problem in the first place?

    1. fhqwhgads*

      What did Geoff do to find it out? Did he run any kind of report out of your tracking system? Or was it that Wakeen lied to you, giving approximate numbers that seemed to add up – but admitted to Geoff he was way behind? If the latter then it seems like there should be some method other than asking for knowing the state of things. If there isn’t a way to do that and you had to rely on his word and he lied, then I don’t know there is much you could’ve done.

      1. Tiger Snake*

        Geoff’s one of those people who are backtrained in paint-change requests (I’m not); I told him that we hadn’t sorted out making sure that we had coverage for paint-change requests over christmas yet, and so that was something he’d have to confirm as the manager. Geoff then went to check with Wakeen, and saw the backlog in Wakeen’s email box.

        The tracking system doesn’t work unfortunately; we need to actually manually add our open items to it, and Wakeen is pretty notorious for forgotting (I know. I’ve spoken to him about it before, but he still only adds new tasks when I remind him – so the older tasks never got included)

    2. only acting normal*

      So you asked how many there were (answer 100) and Wakeen told you 12 “came in that week”. He wasn’t answering the question you asked (whether being deliberately evasive, or just offhandedly vague, I couldn’t say).
      So the only actionable thing I think you could do differently is to listen more closely for ambiguous answers and ask follow ups if the answer didn’t actually include all the info you asked for.
      (Also, sounds like colour change requests should be someone else’s responsibility: Wakeen doesn’t monitor them effectively and others are trained so…)

    3. pcake*

      You could have asked Wakeen for the total paint change requests he had in queue, or since Geoff is trained in this, you could designated and had him determine the info from Wakeen.

  52. Not My Real Name*

    Would it be a jerk move for an atheist to wear dreidl earrings to a workplace “holiday” party in an uber-Christian workplace?

    FWIW they’re darn cute earrings.

    1. Sunflower Sea Star*

      If the intent is to stir the pot or stick it to the uber-Christians, then yes. Especially given they don’t represent your personal beliefs.
      I would feel very differently about someone wearing them if they represented her own culture.

    2. Curly sue*

      Speaking as someone Jewish, please don’t use symbols of my holidays purely in order to cause upset to others. We have a hard enough time as it is, these days. (assuming that you’re not of Jewish heritage – if you’re Jewish, then they’re your symbols to use. carry on.)

      1. pcake*

        This – very much this!

        Want to “stick it” to others at your work place? Wear the flying spaghetti monster.

    3. Millie*

      Certainly wear them if they bring you joy. Many Christians including myself respect all beliefs (and non-beliefs). Peace :)

          1. Fikly*

            No. I’m an atheist. I believe there is no god. Please don’t tell me what I believe or don’t believe.

    4. NL*

      Are you Jewish? If not, no, please do not wear these. (Speaking as a Jew. And maybe the person above saying it’s fine should defer to the Jews in this thread.)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Were you born into a Jewish family? If so, you’re celebrating the holiday you celebrated as a child.
      If you weren’t, stick with the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Darwin Fish.
      (Both are available as earrings on etsy & elseweb.)

    6. Sam Foster*

      I think so because you are using Jewish symbolism to try and “mess with” your uber-Christian workplace which will be especially problematic when they find out you aren’t Jewish. In other words, cultural appropriation is bad. Doing so in service of being “snide” is even worse.

  53. With the Hobgoblins*

    Happy Thanksgiving! I’m pretty late to the thread, but hoping someone will see my question. I’m shortly going to start job searching after a maternity leave of several months. I’m in the US, so this is much longer than typical. I’m technically still employed by my old job and on extended leave, but the market I’m in is having a slowdown, and I may not have a job to return to. So my question is, how do I discuss the leave in interviews and on my resume? I can’t really imagine not mentioning it. Do I just say I’ve been addressing family matters since x date, and move on to talking about my accomplishments prior to that? I imagine that’ll mean starting the interview from quite a position of weakness, but I knew I was risking this when I asked my boss to stay home more than 12 weeks… I’ll just have to deal with the consequences now.

    1. Occasional Baker*

      Why would you need to? You’re still employed. If they do not have a job for you to return to, then you leave the position from that date, and that is the reason. You wouldn’t mention a surgical med leave on a resume…..this has no bearing there either.

      1. With the Hobgoblins*

        Why wouldn’t I need to? If the writing is on the wall, I’d rather start searching now because the job search can take a long time. And if I call my boss in a couple of weeks and she says that they’ve got to lay me off… I don’t really know if I should be putting December 2019 on my resume as my end of employment date, or the last date I actually worked.

        1. only acting normal*

          You should put the date you were laid off (if you’re laid off), that is when your employment with them ceases *not* the date you went on leave.

  54. Millie*

    I’m interviewing Wednesday for a receptionist position at a healthcare facility where I’m a patient. When/if I’m asked why I want to work there, should I mention that I’m a patient (therefore I know the positive aspects of the organization)?

    1. Blueberry*

      I did the same thing, and I did indeed emphasize that having experienced their excellent care I wanted to contribute to the admin side of providing it, and they did hire me. … I owe the word ‘did’ overtime pay.

  55. Cg1254t*

    Just a lil rant. My coworker got Christmas and New Years holidays off (2 weeks- off total about). I’m being assigned 4 extra shifts on top of my usual 4 days a week — so 6 days a week. I’m happy they’re taking time off, but I’m sad I have to barter to try get Christmas Day off — that’s when my family celebrates mainly. It feels unfair that I have to work so much more and miss Christmas and my dad’s birthday when my coworker gets all the big Holidays off.
    My boss didn’t even ask if I was ok working 6 days a week instead of 4 for two weeks. I’m asking for coverage (some people like the Holiday money), so here’s to hoping.

  56. Depressed And Exhausted*

    I’m exhausted and depressed with work. I was recently asked to help on a new process, but I found out there was a bunch of lies and coverup by our management. My boss didn’t bother to train or inform me the background of it; he didn’t even bother to loop me in critical communications.
    It is a critical project but my boss delayed it since last year till now when deadline is just less than a month away. He didn’t pick any of the seniors to handle the project and asked me to sort it out on my own. He pointed out that since I am the most junior and least experienced, I require this opportunity to prove myself.
    Now handling this project, I see the mess it is in. Nothing is ready. There are too many technical and logistic issues, and some serious quality concerns.
    I worked through weekends to setup a workable framework before launching a long term plan but I’m afraid I’m not fast or good enough in management’s eyes. I am getting blamed for the late delivery and was told my head is on the chopping board if I fail to deliver. I have been told I am not being 100% involved in the project, accused of incompetence and not working hard enough.
    I don’t know why I feel so upset. I should have seen this coming. I did my best. But why do I feel like a failure. I just can’t stop beating myself over it.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Does your boss have a boss? Go tell him that you just got handed this mess and that you’re the junior-est employee and working alone. Your boss dumped the project on you at the last minute because he doesn’t have the stones to tell the C-suite what’s wrong and why. If the project is that important he would have started it months and months ago. Then dust off your resume and get out of there.
      There’s no WAY you’re a failure. You’re just being set up by a really shitty boss.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This looks like one for Alison herself, because yes you have been put in an ugly situation!

    3. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      …since I am the most junior and least experienced, I require this opportunity to prove myself.

      Translation: Since you are the most junior and least experienced, you are the one the boss can most easily get away with treating like Kleenex.

      What Auntie Social said, up by an order of magnitude. Document everything to date, escalate to your grandboss and then keep documenting while you look for another job. You’re being set up.

  57. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Thanks to the “surprise me” feature on this website I’ve learned the difference between noise CANCELLING and noise ISOLATING headphones. I’m looking into the latter now, so I can return my contractor-grade hearing-protection headphones to the garage where we need it for the power tools.
    I’m just kind of gasping at the prices, so Black Friday weekend or not, I’m hoping someone here might have a brand suggestion. Big thanks if you happen to know one that fits someone with a very large head.

    1. Sam Foster*

      Depending on your needs, there are some inexpensive noise-cancelling options out there. I don’t have a specific recommendation because I need to have over the ear (vs. on ear or in ear) and that limits options, but, I can recommend the sites I would look at, especially their holiday guides:
      Ars Technica (has run reviews in the past by price point)
      A pair I’ve used that were ok: TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones $49 on Amazon

  58. Anon Here*

    I still feel bummed out about family stuff. My life has not been easy and the recurring theme has been prejudice and then judgment and rejection for having survived horrible, prejudice-based actions. That’s not ok.

    So I told my family I couldn’t see them today after all and I’m going to work instead. Because that will move my life forward. I do have mixed feelings about it because we’re all getting older and they are family. I decided to take it one day at a time. I am moving today. I have a valid reason to put off spending time with them.

    Looking back on it all, the theme I can easily identify is that the people – family and not – who have been horrible to me are people who probably see me as a threat to the status quo, so to speak. Because I do interesting projects and earn recognition for that, and that’s scary to them because I come from a lower income background than they do, and I’m the “wrong” gender and my body is a bit “weird.” So I take it as a sign that I’m on the right track – having a positive impact that others could benefit from.

    So today will be dedicated to that – going forth and having a positive impact on the world via the work that I do. Leaving the sad family stuff out of it.

  59. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Unintentional humor from the website ads. The one below from Adobe now says “PDF LIKE A BOSS”… and I’ve had more than a few bosses who just didn’t get PDFs. I’ve seen it all….from not embedding our custom-made in-house fonts to paper & page size/orientation to telling us to “just add these two paragraphs” to the PDF when we don’t have a sourcefile.
    PDF like a graphic designer yes. Like a technical writer yes. Like a boss? EEP!

    1. Sabotaging, overly-ambitious co-worker is draining me*

      I currently lead a small team with a co-worker also leading a small team. We report to the same manager.

      Since I started my job, 2 years ago, he has thrown obstacles in my way and in the way of my team. He acts like he is my manager, is bossing around my team, only wants to collaborate with us if he is leading the project. He takes credit for my team’s work, leaves us out of meeting invites, criticizes our performance behind our backs etc. After 2 years this situation has really got me down.

      I have weekly meetings with my team and half of the time is taken by them complaining about this guy. One person has already left largely due to him (management is aware).

      The problem is that management sees him as a go-getter and fully supports him. He tends to sweet talk them and they don’t see his cunning and manipulative ways. I have complained about him to my boss and her boss and while they seemed understaning, no action was taken. I have spoken to him directly many times with no change.

      I am currently dealing with this by being hyper-vigilant and speaking up in meetings and defending myself and my team whenever I can. I also point out flaws in his logic and fight for high profile projects. But.. I’m stressed and exhausted and don’t think that I can keep this up. If I let go, he will just take 100% of the projects and steamroll all over us.

      What should I do? Is there any approach I have missed?

      1. BasicWitch*

        Let him! If he’s as bad as you say he’ll crash and burn when he takes all that on. Give him the rope to hang himself and keep being awesome, people will see his true colors.

  60. Leaving for better things*

    I gave notice at my job yesterday and boy, it was not received well. Cue accusations that I should have been “honest” with them before, guilt-tripping me about leaving at such a crucial time and how they can’t understand how I could leave when I’m such a highly-valued employee that everyone in management respected so much (funny how that’s the first time I’m hearing any of this).
    I have a talk about this with my manager on Monday (he’s on holiday so I talked to HR) and if my talk with HR is anything to go by it’s going to be rough. I’m working for a start-up and while I know that they tend to take people leaving personally I’m still pissed that they’re blaming me for taking a better opportunity.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      If you were such a valued employee they would’ve treated you better!
      You owe them nothing. Don’t let them browbeat you about giving notice.

  61. Hstrylvr89*

    Just have to get this off my chest so I don’t explode in anger and anxiety. After three years of pain and feeling unwell, I got angry at the doctor who had not listened to me and just brushed everything of as pulled muscles etc. They did a lot of tests and i tested positive for early onset arthritis and a bunch of other tests. I have to see a specialist because they thin i might have Lupus. When I got that news I of course called my mother in tears. The part that makes me angry happens now. The first thing that happened is that she told me that God made me SICK, SO THAT I WOULD COME BACK TO GOD. I got upset and told her No and hanged up.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*


      I hear you on both fronts.

      I am finally getting the proper testing for an medical issue that has festered for 15 years, which was brushed under the rug because I’m overweight and female.

      So hurrah you are getting answers now! It will minimize any more damage going forward. Dry your tears (hands tissue to you) and celebrate!

      As for mom…

      Le sigh…

      I grew up Catholic, and Catholic is all about offering up your suffering to the saints, Virgin Mary, Jesus….blah blah blah….so my family wouldn’t be so straightforward in their comments, but I would get “Don’t be upset, meditate on it with the rosary, and offer it up to Mary.”

      So…I don’t share medical issues with them anymore. If I do, and the religious stuff comes up, I pretend they are yapping small dogs.

      I’m glad you will be getting some answers for your health issues.

      I’m sorry mom pulled that out of her behind, when all you really wanted it, “That terrible.” and some emotional support.

      I have coworkers who say the bad things happen to draw you closer to God thing all-the-time. They never say it to me (not Christian). It’s more a general statement. I find it hard to believe a justice and loving God would burn down a house and kill a family in the process, to draw the rest of the family closer him, but what do I know?

      My coworkers are really into tragedy porn, especially when it hits during the holidays.

    2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Take your mother on a tour of a children’s hospital. Preferably around Christmas and preferably in the cancer ward. Then ask her why God made those children sick.

  62. WalkedInMyShoes*

    Need your professional opinion. After 3 months of negotiation, I received a separation agreement which I signed. However, I have not received the payment as promised. Should I go back to my attorney? Or should I contact my local Dept. of Labor? Thank you to everyone who has helped me. BTW, I am still interviewing and hopefully land somewhere soon.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It depends on what the timeline was, but if you know the payment was due by a certain time and hasn’t arrived, I’d contact your attorney to check on it.

  63. Co-worker from hell - how to deal?*

    I currently lead a small team with a co-worker also leading a small team. We report to the same manager.

    Since I started my job, 2 years ago, he has thrown obstacles in my way and in the way of my team. He acts like he is my manager, is bossing around my team, only wants to collaborate with us if he is leading the project. He takes credit for my team’s work, leaves us out of meeting invites, criticizes our performance behind our backs etc. After 2 years this situation has really got me down.

    I have weekly meetings with my team and half of the time is taken by them complaining about this guy. One person has already left largely due to him (management is aware).

    The problem is that management sees him as a go-getter and fully supports him. He tends to sweet talk them and they don’t see his cunning and manipulative ways. I have complained about him to my boss and her boss and while they seemed understaning, no action was taken. I have spoken to him directly many times with no change.

    I am currently dealing with this by being hyper-vigilant and speaking up in meetings and defending myself and my team whenever I can. I also point out flaws in his logic and fight for high profile projects. But.. I’m stressed and exhausted and don’t think that I can keep this up. If I let go, he will just take 100% of the projects and steamroll all over us.

    What should I do? Is there any approach I have missed?

    1. Username required*

      I think you’ve done everything you can do. You’re supporting your team, advocating for them and yourself but getting nowhere because management won’t act. They are aware of his actions and they still support him – whether it’s because they don’t care or because they agree with his methods it doesn’t matter in the end. You’ve already lost staff and that didn’t bother management so hopefully you and your team can find better jobs elsewhere.

      1. WalkedInMyShoes*

        I totally agree. If the management team is not doing anything about it, it’s time to update your resume and look for new opportunities. I am sorry that you are experiencing that. Sometimes, those people who conduct themselves in this manner are those who are insecure and really cannot do it themselves.

  64. Decima Dewey*

    Every year my library system lets us go home early the day before Thanksgiving, usually around 3 pm. What makes this a bone of contention each year is that the other city departments (except for “essential personnel”) get out at 2 pm on that day. Lots of grumbling while library workers wait until they’re allowed to leave.

    This year, the library system and its unions agreed to a 3 pm dismissal. It was up to the library powers that be to announce it. And this year they botched it. Someone in administration forwarded everyone a notification that the City would close at 2 pm on Wednesday *and* on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Without adding a note that the library would be closing at 3 pm. Signs went out saying the system would close at 2 both days. High administration official then said “No, we’re closing at 3, and we’ll be open 10 to 5 on Friday. We’ve never closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    New signs to put up. Then a Circulation Assistant sent a message to All Outlook Users saying that he’d be leaving his branch at 2 pm on Wednesday, TPTB could write him up for all he cared, and if they did write him up, he’d file a grievance and call one witness: the mayor, who’d said that City agencies would be closing at 2 on Wednesday and Friday.

    Well, that sparked an email storm from other Circulation Assistants, all in support of the guy, several threatening to walk off the job at 2 pm on Wednesday. TPTB ended up backing down, saying we’d close at 2 pm on Wednesday and Friday. Still more signs to put up informing patrons of this.

    I wonder what will happen for Christmas Eve and New Years’ Eve?

  65. Morgan*

    Currently I work as a Executive Assistant and have over 30 years of administrative experience. During my annual review, I discussed my education (have my associate degree and will be starting my bachelor in January). My degree will be in Business Administration. His view was that the business degree is a dime a dozen and that I should consider Cyber Security or AI.

    This made me think a bit more about what I’ve done up to this point. I am not sure that I can make this type of career change at this point (I am 54 years old). My question here is:

    Are there any folks that work in the cyber security field?
    Would I have to get a 4-year degree or could I get an associate degree and certifications?

    Any suggestions and/or input would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Leopard*

      I work in cybersecurity as a threat analyst. I have a BS in computer science and an entry-level certification related to threat analysis. You can definitely get into it with just an associate degree and/or some certifications, although if you’re going into a more technical area, it’s good to have related education or experience (or side projects that show you have practical knowledge). But do keep in mind that if you do jump in without a lot of education or experience, you may have to work a not-so-great job with terrible hours ’til you’ve built up some experience, and you may also have to work hard to prove yourself at first. It can be a demanding and sometimes quite stressful industry (depending on the area you’re in).

      I think you could still focus on business administration if you wanted to go into a more administrative area of cyber (and maybe minor in something related to tech just to be really marketable), like auditing or risk analysis, and then just study for and get a certification related to that. I think something that’s important for cyber which I wish I’d realized earlier is that this field depends a lot on networking. So also, go to conferences! BSides are community-hosted events that can teach you a lot and get you introduced to people who could help you figure out what you’d like to go into!

      Regarding AI, I actually focused on that in undergrad. If you want to work on AI, at least as a developer, you’ll need to really enjoy math, particularly statistics. And you’ll a highly technical degree – CS, CE, math. I didn’t like it nearly as much as I thought I would, so I made the switch to cyber.

      1. Morgan*

        I can’t remember (will have to do search again) but there was school that offered a degree in Business Administration with a emphasis in Cyber Security. I also thought about getting another Associate Degree in Cyber Security and the do Certifications. But based on your response, the first option may be more beneficial. I work in the Aerospace/Engineering field and my VP offered to connect me with some people.

        Leopard Thank you very much. This information is very helpful.

  66. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Well, I did not get moved on to round two of the interviews at Big Firm. I was told it was because I didn’t wear heels to the interview. Heaven forbid I wear heeled boots due to it being 30 degrees outside. So glad I dodged that bullet!

    I have a feeling that it has more to do with me asking for $10k more than what I make now, but they want a 4 year degree from an ABA approved program on top of 10+ years of experience – sorry, but you have to pay for those kind of qualifications.

    I have zero regrets.

  67. A Reader*

    I am currently job-searching because my contract is supposedly coming to an end this month. I’m OK with the contract possibly ending (it could be extended), but the job search right now hasn’t been easy due to the holidays. I’ve been told by two separate companies that it’s difficult to arrange interviews with key stakeholders right now because people are using up their PTO before year-end any way they can.

    Does anyone have any words of advice or encouragement? This is incredibly stressful!

  68. Time to go?*

    I’m sure this has been covered before, but do people have experience /advice re: taking a job at a lower salary ? Other benefits would be about equal. New job wouldn’t be dream job, but very likely a more sane work situation at a healthier organization, and I’m eager for a change (been around my org for nearly a decade, things are getting worse and I’m basically sustaining the whole thing as it slowly decades do to bad executive management , but I do have great benefits and believe in the org and many of my staff) . I’ll try to negotiate up, but there may not be room — high end of stated salary range is 11% less than my current job. I’m fortunately at a high enough level that this wouldn’t impact my day-to-day but would slow down somewhat my ability to save for a house /retirement. I live in a state where it’s illegal to ask salary history, FWIW in terms of future salary negotiation.

    Does it sound worth it for a chance at more happiness/less stress? Are there other pros and cons I am not considering?

    1. A Reader*

      There are so many other things to consider, too. What’s the commute like, or can you work from home? I am job searching and got rejected for a job that would have paid about 20% less and would have added at least an hour total to my commute every day. I would take that paycut if the job was a mile from my house or if I could work from home. I have a friend who took a pay cut to work for a company that has more prestige because she knew it would help down the road.

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