open thread – December 20-21, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,577 comments… read them below }

  1. Anna*

    I am studying for technical interviews (programming) after falling in love with programming at the beginning of this year and making it my life. Interviewing at one of the big Brooklyn companies in the new year. I’m 35. It’s never too late to be surprised!

    1. Anna*

      And to be clear—I’m where I am greatly because of this blog!! It helped me develop good workplace norms, even without a good role model at work for a long time. I am so grateful this blog exists!

    2. ten-four*

      Ayyyy welcome! I work in tech (not a programmer) and I LOVE it. I hope that soon you’ll be making gobs of money and working on interesting stuff!

    3. Tau*

      Congratulations, crossing my fingers for you! I’m a software developer and love it, so can heartily second your choice of career :)

    4. lkr209*

      Hi Anna! I’ve been looking into the tech/computer field as well for a second Bachelor’s option. Would you mind telling me how you fell into programming? What resources did you use to determine if it was the right fit for you, and something you enjoyed?

    5. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      That is so awesome for you!

      And you’re so very right about it never being too late. After a long and meandering path, I finally got a degree in Information Technology when I was 34!

    6. your favorite person*

      Good luck! My husband went back to (code) school at 30 to be a programmer and now makes double what he was making at his factory job just 3 years later. They need more women in tech.

    7. Queenie*

      Congrats!! I have been thinking about going back to school for Programming, I recently switched careers to Web Development and am totally in love but definitely need more skills. Any recommendations for programs etc? Preferably online

    8. Windchime*

      I used to process payments in a medical center, and then went back to school at the grand old age of 36. I thought I was going to study something else, but then I took a class in programming and realized I would LOVE it. I got my first programming job at 39 and haven’t looked back. I hope you love it just as much! It’s so awesome to finally find what you were meant to do, isn’t it?

    9. JoAnna*

      My husband didn’t get his degree in Software Engineering until he was 38 (prior to that, he worked in tech support). He’s now almost 45 and working at a great company as a programmer, and he loves it.

  2. Research Geek*

    Well I exercised my boundaries (something new to me) at work and pushed back against more work (I already do the work of more than 5 people) and the conversation was steered to when my last day was going to be. It was surprising but I think for the most part I am at peace. Frustrated about the crazy mismatch in culture and expectations and hoping to hone my instincts for a better fitting role in 2020.

    1. Observer*

      They really told you that if you’re not willing to do that much work, you should leave?

      That’s bad. I agree, polish up your resume and find another place.

      1. Research Geek*

        They did. I reported to the CEO and it basically was “well, then let’s talk about your last day”. All my concerns w regard to saying yes to the additional workload are coming true so in the end, I know this has worked out to my favor. this is the first time I have ever experienced this in my career so I’m slightly weirded out that I didn’t see this mismatch a mile away but I think I might not have been listening to my instincts in a long while and just chasing . Lots of thinking to do over the holidays. So thankful for this community’s support and insight.

        1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

          Wow, sounds like you’re getting out of a Hellmouth. May you feel some delicious schaudenfraude when they call after you leave begging for information or even help. Heh heh heh.

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          I’m sorry to hear about that. Was this the first time you pushed back on the workload or had it come up before? I’m curious because my SO has had a few boundary chats with her employer and has gotten mixed responses that are skewing more negative. I have absolutely no intention of butting in on her work life, but I’m a little concerned that she might end up in a similar position and would be interested in sharing other’s experiences, if she asks for my opinion.

          1. Research Geek*

            Hi! This was the first time I really had to stand up for myself and advocate for myself because it was becoming clear that my willingness to work and triage was something they had started defaulting to. On my part, I have to be careful about over contributing to mask impostor syndrome or insecurity or whatever. But it’s always just been who I am… “eating work”. So I’m keeping that in mind. OTOH, Better leadership would have listened and taken things off my plate. I am 100% convinced that my conversation “skewing more negative” was truly the best way it could have worked out. I am watching the team continue to chase unrealistic expectations, condone bad behavior from leadership and I shudder at the mess I am walking away from.

        1. Herding Butterflies*

          It fascinates me when companies do this! I experienced this with my last job as well (handling the work load of about two to three people) and left because I was so burned out!

          Why do they DO THIS to their staff? My current company is doing to one of my teammates now. He is so overloaded and they won’t hire help. I get the financials of that we may not be able to afford to hire another person, but when Person 1 leaves – which he is thinking of doing, then the whole office will be up sh*t creek. It’s very short sighted and stupid.

            1. zinzarin*

              Expending resources in an emergency (hiring and replacing a key employee) is easier to justify than approving the resources for additional headcount… even if planning and spending for additional headcount would be more reasonable and logical than putting out a fire.

              1. Found a Name*

                Politics can also play a role. This happened with my team because even though we desperately needed the help, our ED didn’t like my boss and wouldn’t approve the headcounts. Thankfully we’ve had some changes in leadership, so we’re (hopefully) going to be getting the people and resources we need!

          1. Working Mom*

            I find it weirdly fascinating too. I was once on a team where the one department was essentially one person. Every time the hired someone for that role- they struggled, floundered – some lasted longer than others, but no one every *really* worked out. Everyone always communicated to senior leadership that “role” should really be a dept director to own strategy, and 2 workers to focus on 2 channels of business. But they insisted it was a one person job.

            1. Research Geek*

              This is exactly our scenario. There have been over 15 people who have left the team in the span of a year… not including me.

        2. Research Geek*

          Yes! I have someone shadowing me now (they hired the first person they interviewed) and she’s been very nice but also very rusty (she’s been out of the workforce for 4 years). On her first day she already used the words “freaking out”, “overwhelmed” and “hold my hand”. I am want to set her up for success but also, still practicing boundaries and saying no. I wish her all the best!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Something similar happened to me. It was a rough couple of days, and it took a long time for me to get over some of the toxic crap at that job, but I’m so glad I left. Talk to them about severance!

    3. rageismycaffeine*

      Wow. I mean, I guess they’re consistent in being completely unreasonable? Best wishes to you for landing on your feet in a better role next year.

  3. Alternative Person*

    Had a meeting with senior management this week that boiled down to ‘If you aren’t going to sing our gospel, you should start looking for another job’

    Joke’s on them, I’m just waiting to get the contract from my new job before I turn in my resignation.

    (Also, thanks for the early thread this week)

      1. Alternative Person*

        It’s going to be a little while because I’m in Education and its the holidays, but I will.

        Honestly, I’m surprised at myself for not blurting it out in the meeting. Senior management basically took my every concern and tried to rules-lawyer around them. I held my ground, in part because I know I’m on my way out so I don’t have to play that nice but I was shaking by the time I left the room.

        Bizarrely, when I asked the satellite branch manager about some of what Senior management had told me, he had no idea! Senior management went on about what is effectively a complete shift in direction and this was news to the satellite manager. I feel like I must have stepped though the looking glass at some point.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It’s the best revenge!
      And it’s good you didn’t say anything just in case they’d try to sabotage new job. Let it be a surprise for them.

  4. Marmaduke*

    Any tips for finding online gig work? The curriculum development project I worked on for that last 18 months just wrapped up, and my current situation is really only amenable to online work with flexible schedules. I can scrape by if I can just make $50-100 per month, but finding work has been a struggle. I’ve worked (with consistently positive feedback!) on writing, editing, data entry/analysis, handmade items on commission, and online curriculum prep, but I’m running low on leads and on enthusiasm.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      If you’re a freelance editor, shell out for Editorial Freelancers Association membership. The first job you get off their excellent job list or from someone finding you in the directory will more than pay for it.

    2. 867-5309*

      I think you might be too broad? As an example: I’m a marketing professional and have freelanced in that field specifically. It lets me tailor my resume, LinkedIn and networking requests accordingly. It’s hard to know where to point you without having more information.

      Like, if you do handmade, then Etsy. If you knit, I think there’s a new website that connects knitters to people who want something knitted. If you want to do curriculum prep, look at online tutoring companies.

      1. Past my last straw*

        Would two resumes & 2 online presences be useful? “A.B. Smith” for the handcrafters project hunt, and Anne Best-Smith for the editorial/analysis resume.

        1. DoomCarrot*

          Yes, I think being more specific is helpful, unless you can find something that uses all those skills. (Writing DIY tutorials?)

          As for short-term gig work, maybe Amazon Mechanical Turk is a good place to look?

    3. Lyudie*

      Would you mind sharing details on the gigs you have already? Most of those are in my wheelhouse and I’ve pondered doing a little side hustle a couple of hours a week but don’t know where to start for finding legit stuff. I’ve done Etsy for handmade.

    4. AliceBD*

      Not sure if you like teaching or just curriculum prep or if you’re interested in working with kids but I’be had good experiences with both Varsity Tutors and Wyzant for online tutoring. (If anyone you know IRL uses them you may want to use a referral link to sign up.)

    5. Heat's Kitchen*

      I briefly did a stint transcribing on rev.com – if you have the time to dedicate, you can make decent money. It’s interesting too. And totally your own hours/what you put into it is what you get out of it.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I also did rev.com for awhile in college to supplement a couple months where my day job refused to give me more than 4 hrs/week (and then for a few months after graduating college). It’s sometimes hard to find things that are worth the effort for the money, but I know I made over $100/week at least a couple times (though, most of the time it was probably more like $15-$40). I also turned a friend onto their captioning service and know that they did it off and on for about a year, so they must have liked it at least a little.

      2. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Rev has had … issues lately with how they’re changing their payout structures. Transcriptionists should look into The Transcription Collective if they’re interested in joining a collective that gets a bit higher wages. Here’s a link to their Twitter: https://twitter.com/ttc_transcripts

    6. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Freelance writing is a broad field. If you want something quick and don’t want to invest time into building a client base and are willing to work for less than what a professional freelancer would earn, look into platforms like Textbroker (low pay but generally ample work), Crowd Content, Writer Access, and the HOTH.

      I’ve been freelance writing for almost a decade and an extra ~$400 a week takes me maybe 10 hours or so writing nights and weekend on those kinds of platforms.

    7. Blackcat*

      Given your background, what about online tutoring? There are a number of outfits where you tutor children via skype or similar services.

    8. Ezri Dax*

      If you like teaching, there are a number of online companies that employ contractors to teach English as a Second Language. VIPKid comes to mind. They dont all pay great once you factor in taxes and such, but many do let you set your own hours.

  5. NYC Nonprofit*

    So.. reference sabotage — does it actually happen?

    I ask because 2 out of my 3 past supervisors had extremely bad reactions to when I resigned (e.g. weeks of silent treatment, exclamations like “I want to kill you right now!”) — and I’m anticipating another bad reaction from my current manager as I’m job searching to get out of the toxic org I’ve been with for 3 years.

    For context:
    Angry supervisor 1: Shortly after being hired I learned she had a temper problem and a reputation for making her assistants quit and cry because of her. She LOVED me as an employee, probably because I was a clean slate, did great work for her, and didn’t react to her tantrums. They were about to promote me when I quit for another industry. After threatening to kill me in front of her boss, the EVP, and silent treatment for 3 days, she finally “came around” in my last week and asked politely whether I could write an e-mail to her boss saying I didn’t quit for a competitor.

    Angry supervisor 2: No temper problem, but she was an extremely emotional person who definitely thought she had some sort of motherly relationship with me; there was definitely some projection going on. This was my first job in toxic org before I was promoted into a higher position in another department. Once again, I’d only ever done stellar work for her — she got me a 20% raise after 6 months and wrote in my performance review that “the agency’s main challenge will be to keep up with her tremendous talent and growth track.” She gave me the silent treatment for 2 weeks after I put in my transfer until her boss told her to apologize to me and work with me on transition.

    Current Supervisor: Once again, I’m really concerned about this. My current supervisor has made tons of comments over time like “The day you ever hand me a resignation…” Once again, I do great work — but maybe too much work. Part of my duties include project management for the entire department he runs, which often crosses the line into Executive Assistant duties — and, to be honest, multiple team members have expressed concern as to whether he’d function without me and have outright said that he probably would’ve been fired awhile ago if it weren’t for me. I’m expecting a bad reaction.

    Before you say it: Yes, I know this must be a me problem somehow, and I’ve done a lot of soul searching and am working really hard on how I can establish better boundaries in the future and still do stellar work without it somehow being used against me down the line. But in the meantime — how worried do I have to be about any of these individuals being called by future potential employers? I’m not necessarily worried about outright slander, but more if they would purposely give a lukewarm reference (even though that wasn’t true) out of pettiness or resentment. Is this a thing that happens?

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      That doesn’t sound like a you problem; it sounds like you’ve had a run of bad luck. It’s not that your boundaries are bad. Please don’t blame yourself for having run afoul of a few lousy managers.

      If you don’t put their numbers/email addresses on your resume, future employers are very unlikely to try to call them.

      1. NYC Nonprofit*

        Thank you so much, I really appreciate you saying that. It’s so hard to believe it isn’t something wrong with me when it keeps happening! I’m really hoping my next job will be in a more functional and professional environment, and I’ll get to know what professional managers are truly like (because right now I feel so conditioned to just expect people to be petty and vindictive).

    2. On a pale mouse*

      Not sure this is a you problem other than maybe do more investigation before taking a job to try to avoid the toxic places (but you can’t always and it could also just be bad luck). I mean, threatening you and giving the silent treatment just for giving your notice? That is unprofessional no matter what kind of employee you have been.

      1. NYC Nonprofit*

        Thank you, I appreciate your kind comment. I really am doing as much as I can to vet the agencies I’m interviewing with – asking them difficult questions about their culture, diversity/equity practices, using network contacts to get their opinions. But I do also feel that pang of desperation, of “I just need to get out,” and am really trying to make sure I don’t land in another bad situation because of it.

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Doing more investigation doesn’t always work. I was hired to assist brokers at a real estate firm, and Fergus, an absolutely miserable and nasty broker, started working there after I started there. Five years later, the office manager quit, and her replacement was also quite nasty.

        A rule was made that someone had to be sitting at the front desk every single second. The only exceptions were things like if the building caught on fire, or if someone ran into the office waving a gun, or if you had to give someone the Heimlich Maneuver. One day, the receptionist was out, so I was sitting at the front desk. Minerva came over to me and said that Fergus had asked her if she could sit at the front desk, so that I could go into his office and take dictation. I thanked Minerva and went into Fergus’ office. When I returned to the front desk, Circe was sitting there, looking very uncomfortable, and the office manager was standing next to her, screaming at me, “Where were YOU?” I said that I had been taking dictation from Fergus. She screamed, “Did you tell Minerva?” I said, “No, I did not tell Minerva. SHE told me. She told me that Fergus asked her if she would cover for me at the front desk, and I thanked her.” The office manager then went to Minerva and asked her if it was true. Minerva said, “Yes, but then I had to make some copies, and then i completely forgot that I was sitting at the front desk, and I went back to my desk.”

        Unfortunately for me, the office manager continued to scream and scream at me for having left the front desk unattended. She had nothing to say to Minerva. I tried and tried to get her to stop screaming, but she wouldn’t, so I said that I quit and was giving two weeks notice.

        Fergus was extremely upset that I had quit, even though we had a very bad relationship, and he asked me to beg the office manager to let me stay. I refused, and he got angry and said that if anyone called him for a reference, he would give me a terrible reference so that no one would ever hire me, and it would serve me right for quitting.

        I don’t know what kind of references the office manager and Fergus provided for me, but I did manage to find three jobs after that one, and then I retired. But, again, I don’t see how doing more investigation before taking a job helps at all when you wind up being badly treated by people who weren’t working at the company when you started there.

        1. NYC Nonprofit*

          I’m so sorry this happened to you! Good on you for getting out. It’s inspiring at least to hear that you had no trouble getting 3 jobs afterward. I guess (hope) I’m overestimating the power that these people have over my future. It’s just hard not to be paranoid. :/

          1. Just Another Manic Millie*

            Thank you. Even though Fergus threatened to give me a terrible reference, it’s possible that no one ever actually asked him for a reference. Or maybe it was an empty threat. Anyway, a couple of days after I started the first job after the real estate firm, the office manager called me to say that the secretary of the owner had quit, and she wanted to know if I was willing to take the job until they found someone permanent.

            I said cheerfully, “Oh, I can’t. I have a new job! Gee, I’m surprised that you didn’t know that. Haven’t people been calling you for references about me?” She said that she could remember only one call. I said, “Well, sometimes, one is all you need.” When I applied for the second job after the real estate firm, I was hired on the spot. I was so surprised that I asked, “Don’t you want to call my references?” They said no, because they trusted their instincts. When I applied for my next job, I got the impression that the company that hired me called only the previous job for a reference, meaning that they didn’t call the real estate firm.

    3. HA2*

      Potential employers are *extremely* unlikely to contact your past managers or coworkers unless you explicitly list them as references somewhere.

    4. Professor Plum*

      Are there others from those companies who you can list as references? Perhaps Angry supervisor 2’s boss? Think of other managers who could speak to your reputation in the companies. Good luck.

      1. Saffron Sam*

        This is more of a story than advice as I’d say the law and my duty is pretty clear, but I’m having the oddest moment of group pushback. I know Allison oft recommends speaking up a group against ridiculous policies, but can we keep it to ridiculous policies, please?

        Employee went to HR over repeated moderate harassment over her faith (yes, she had tried to speak up for herself to the employees in question to reasonable effort before seeking help). Small group of employees were told to knock it off, to succinctly summarize.

        Small group of employees are trying to “push back”, saying the faith in question has “social and cultural acceptance of being mocked” and therefore they should be able to continue their behavior.

        1. Clorinda*

          Social and cultural acceptance of being mocked? How can they even?
          I mean, what?
          Hope your HR pushed back on the push-back, because that is just BEYOND.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          When people show you who they are, believe them. That small group who are trying to continue being a**holes – they just showed you exactly who they are.

        3. somanyquestions*

          The people pushing back are complete jerks and I hope everyone remembers who they are. This sort of self-righteous intolerance is almost for sure just the tip of their asshole iceberg.

        4. Artemesia*

          So Festivus? Or Flying Spaghetti Monster — can’t think of other ‘faiths’ that have a culture of being mocked.

          1. Fikly*

            It’s not the faith’s culture, it’s that other groups have a culture of mocking that faith.

            Which is to say, they’re arguing, essentially, that being racist is ok because humans have always been racist.

            1. Past my last straw*

              So it’s “because Mel Brooks makes Jewish jokes everybody else should too”?!
              Yeegads.

              1. Fikly*

                No, the opposite, because Mel Brooks is Jewish. I believe they’re arguing that, for example, since there’s an established tradition of non-Jews mocking Jewish people, it’s ok.

          2. emmelemm*

            I would guess either Scientology or Jehovah’s Witness. But either/any ol’ way, you just don’t get to mock someone at work. Even if it’s Festivus.

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

          Holy shit, fire them all! Pretty much all mainstream religions, let alone smaller sects, have also been subject to “social and cultural acceptance of being mocked” at some point, even to the extreme of murder…Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism…I can’t even right now…!!

      2. MsM*

        Doesn’t even have to be people higher up in the hierarchy. Could be peers you worked particularly closely with, as long as they’re senior enough to be able to assess your work from a managerial perspective.

        1. Ama*

          Yup, I have one former manager who hated me and didn’t have a clue what I did (she acquired me when my former department imploded and seemed to hold that against me for some weird reason) and two former managers who were fired for misconduct while they were my manager so I have no desire to get references from any of them. I tend to use coworkers who are maybe not technically senior to me but who were leads on projects I worked on, so they can speak to both my general work quality and how I handle having things delegated to me, and other things a manager might want to know.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      It happens. I once had a manager who flat out lied about me to another manager I was about to interview with for an internal departmental transfer, and she told me she did it with an air of smug satisfaction. I was PISSED, but took a great deal of pleasure out of watching her melt down when I accepted an internal promotion into another division a month later. She sat at her desk and cried while writing my new management team a nastygram about how unprofessional they were to poach one of her employees (the AVP who hired me predicted she would be mad after he read my performance review from her where she raved about how talented I am, but I don’t think he saw that nearly two page long email coming, lol).

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Yes it happens. To test if it is happening to you, enlist a professional sounding friend who can call them and act as a reference.

      That way you can get facts and not have to worry.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Good suggestion. I’ve done that for friends, both on the phone and, in academia, by requesting the friend’s dossier. While I did not tell my friend what the letters said — that’s a professional and ethical breach, the letters were written in confidence — I did say, You should have X letter replaced.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          If the letters were written in confidence, how was it not an ethical breach for you (not an actual hiring party) to read them?

          1. Fikly*

            They’re in confidence between the reference giver and the reference seeker. Thus the ethical breech is if the contents are disclosed to the person the reference is about.

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        Reading your other comments i think you should have a professional sounding friend call these managers pretending to be a thorough employer. If there is anything untruthful you can send a cease and desist. Most likely they wont be interested in saying much and you can cross it from your mind. Or you may be surprised to hear they have glowing reviews of you.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes – having a friend give areference , if you haven’t worked for them, s ift, but having one pose as a potential employer to discover whether the former manager is badmouthing you is reasonable .

    7. Heat's Kitchen*

      Don’t give the names of these people as references. Have other colleagues you’ve worked with. Usually if a company calls to verify employment, they’ll talk to an HR person, not ask for your previous manager. Not saying it will never happen, but why give the recruiter their name and make it easy.

      1. Anon Here*

        I’ve done this successfully when I’ve had bad managers. Ideally, I like to list a different manager who I had a better experience with plus a co-worker who I worked alongside. They might talk to the bad manager, but they’ll also call the people you list so list people who will balance out the negative stuff.

    8. NYC Nonprofit*

      Thank you everyone! I didn’t intend to ever explicitly list these people as references – and yes, I do have plenty of other people at both the peer and manager level who can speak to my work.

      But doesn’t it look sketchy that I’m missing so many past supervisors as references? What if I’m pressed by a company to offer my most recent manager, or X number of direct managers? Is it acceptable to say something like “For full disclosure, while I did stellar work under this manager during my time with him, he had a particularly bad reaction to my resignation – so I’ll also be providing the info of coworkers A, B, and C who can speak to my work in this role. I can also provide a copy of my performance review under this manager so you have the full context.”

      Or is that too much?

      1. Senor Montoya*

        No, I wouldn’t give all that info. It’s going to sound excuse-y and while I may objectively understand that it could be true, it’s going to feel off and set off a tiny alarm bell for me. If you have to give your current supervisor, do that, and be sure in your interview that you talk about the excellent performance reviews this person gave you. Be sure to have other references who are at or above your supervisor’s level, especially at your current place of employment.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Agreed. Also, it looks like at least 1/3 of those supervisors covered a job where you stayed in the company via transfer. I wouldn’t even think to provide a reference for every department I’ve worked in, just each company. I’ve had couple hires since the job where I transferred departments and it hasn’t been a problem. So your number of “missing” supervisors is really only 1-2. Don’t fret about it and don’t address it unless it comes up!

    9. Cowgirlinhiding*

      Absolutely – had it happen to me in an old position where the admin was disgruntled with me and she would answer all the calls for references and give horrible references – like I would hire my dog before hiring Cowgirlinhiding. Luckily I had a manager that told HR go back and talk to the real reference and I landed the job. It was just a few short days before new manager told me what happened and I filed a complaint with former job HR (people I knew personally) and never looked back. Didn’t need that reference anymore and those that worked there all moved on to better positions.

    10. Shark Whisperer*

      It totally does happen. At OldJob, we were hiring and someone from another department applied. Their current manager gave a terrible reference, but her references from other jobs were glowing. The hiring manager did some digging and asked around at other department because the bad reference didn’t make any sense. It turns out her current manager was pretty vindictive (which was exactly why she was trying to transfer departments). We hired her anyway and she was awesome!

      The moral of this story is that it’s usually pretty clear if one reference is out of line with what other references are saying. If your prospective employer is going to go off-list with your references, they will probably do enough to figure out if the lukewarm/bad reference is accurate or not.

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

      It does happen, however just because someone reacts emotionally when you gave notice doesn’t mean they’ll carry that over into being a bad reference. Most people can be angry or upset but still remain ethical; except for the anger management person — she’s probably an issue. Line up references from as many sources as you can anyway — it’s a good idea since people leave or their contact info changes, or…

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        This! Reacting very poorly (understatement) to your resignation doesn’t mean they won’t give you a good reference after some time has passed. (So, your most recent one before your current role might be a pass, but the others might be water under the bridge.)

        Granted, reference sabotage isn’t beyond the realm of possibility with the personalities you’ve described, but a phone call/email to the former bosses requesting a reference is a good way to start. Even if they agree, carefully read between the lines of everything they say to help gauge whether they really mean it. Also, think back and consider how they referred to previous employees when you worked for them. Did they permanently see every former employee as a ‘betrayer’? Were there any exceptions?

        In other words, you might still have salvageable references here. Not excusing their behavior, but part of the reason they reacted so badly (and, uh, murdery) was because of your strong work ethic. They saw that you were a strong employee and had (occasionally murderous) misgivings about you leaving.

        …That’s a sentence I never thought I would write. Anyways, good luck in your job search! I really hope you find a good boss, if only to help you understand just how terrible those other ones were to you.

        1. LQ*

          I agree with a lot of this. I work with someone who doesn’t react well when really excellent people leave and considers it a betrayal. But he gets over it, and he gives people who were excellent glowing references. I’ve seen a couple (on the other side from folks who have left going “WHOAH, I thought he hated me forever but you need to see this reference”) and they really were some of the most powerful references.
          Ethical, but not always quite as grown up as is appropriate.

          If someone is and holds to, an ethical behavior standard pretty hard and this would be (for them) included in ethical behavior then even if they behave poorly you’ll likely be ok. That said anyone who thinks it’s ok to sabatoge someone should be assumed to sabotage you. Once a saboteur, always a saboteur.

    12. Mazzy*

      Yes, I found out that the job that I gave my life to for years gave me a middle of the road reference. I guess they didn’t register everything i did and somehow saw me and a complainer since, shockingly, I only contacted HQ or my boss when there was an emergency or my skeezy coworker was doing something sleazy. Somehow it put a negative aura around me apparently. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You’re too independent, it’s negative/cynical, too dependent, then you can’t think for yourself.

    13. Wish I had a clever name here*

      For every past job I always put name of supervisor and HR as the contact number. They’ll give the most basic info or just rehire-able or just confirm you worked there based on company policy. I’ve only had to have them directly provide a reference for two of my jobs, and it was asked after I already offered the position. One was academia and the other is my current job at the VA. I was worried about my last boss but had other references I knew would be positive and contradict anything negative that she said.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely not a you problem!
      You do good work and haven given these people a respectful notice. You’re not doing anything bad ir wrong by wanting to move on.

      I think the first two will give you a good reference because it sounds like they’ve nothing to complain about other than you left! And it also sounds like they did come around once they got over it. But if you have doubts, give the name of the person above them or HR if there was an HR department.

      New jobs don’t generally expect your current boss to give a reference if you’re still employed there.

  6. Late to the game*

    Has anyone tried to get hired by the Census? College graduate, willing to type, go house to house, whatever, and no call after submitting an app six weeks ago. :(

    1. Sandy*

      Yes, I have. You’ll get offered a job at some point but a) it’s government and moves at the speed of molasses and b) they recruit waaaay out in advance of needing the staff, so depending on the area, it’s possible they may not call you until March.

    2. Amy*

      Six weeks is nothing. I was called three months later… a d I’m already a government employee with all the required background checks.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My ex worked for the census last time around and it took them four months to call him after he applied.

    4. ten-four*

      Not the census, but my husband got an offer from the gov 10 months after applying with 8 months of silence in between. Hang in there!

    5. yeah going anon for this one Because Reasons*

      Please hang in there! It’s just that governmental hiring is v e r y s l o w. Trust me when I say that the Census is still hiring because it definitely is.

      Also if you’re applying for an enumerator position, that work will really kick off closer to March.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The process is apply now, work starts in March. Runs through maybe September, depending.

      Note that Census employment income may not affect public assistance payments such as food stamps (or at least in NYS) so taking this temp position won’t un-do those benefits.

    7. RC Rascal*

      I worked for the 2000 Census. They sent a postcard to my house ( mass mailing) and positioned it as an opportunity to serve your community. In 2010 I was unemployed & applied again but couldn’t get hired despite the 2000 experience. Bought my coffee table with the dollars from the 2000 experience.

    8. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Echoing others to say that the process is just very slow. I would expect that they’ll eventually give you a call, because I’ve read stories already about how they’re having a really hard time hiring census workers in this tight labor market! So hang in there.

    9. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I completed the application in early November (so I would be prepared to help library patrons when they filled it out) and answered the questions legitimately, and haven’t heard back. I think it’s par for the course. The standard operating procedure of the US government is “hurry up and wait.”

    10. Anon4This*

      My husband works for Census and got picked up as a term employee (1 or 2 year contract position) immediately before the 2010 count. Basically, someone he worked with’s spouse was higher up in the 2010 decennial had him fast-tracked. He got an interview the same week and then waited four weeks to be hired – and that’s very fast for the government.

      Once the term was up, he had to reapply for job within the bureau in order to continue to have a job, but being on the 2010 team made him a lot of contacts, and he was picked up full-time. He bounced around to three different teams his couple years before getting picked up by his current one, and he’s been with them for about 8 years.

    11. Tzeitel*

      I would consider calling your local elected official or even getting in contact with community organizations because there might be census outreach work you can do locally before you hear from the federal government. Just a thought.

    12. Princesa Zelda*

      I’m in your same basket; I don’t think they’ve hired any enumerators at all yet. I just talked to a recruiter yesterday at the library, and she said they will probably do interviews/job offers closer to March.

  7. On a pale mouse*

    I think it’s time to get out of retail. I spent most of today wanting to shout at customers, which is not a good mental place from which to provide good customer service. And this is for minor stuff that’s annoying but also totally routine and part of what you sign up for when you work retail. Also recently I feel like instead of “thank you for shopping at [Store]” I should just be saying “thank you for stealing at [Store].” The shoplifting and scamming have been ridiculous the last few weeks. That’s not helping my general misanthropy level.

    1. Rake*

      I thought I was an angry misanthrope until I quit customer service. It turns out I’m actually very friendly and interested in people when I’m not dealing with thousands of them in a day. My entire disposition changed when I finally found a job I enjoyed. I can totally empathize with wanting to shout about basically routine annoyances. Hypersensitivity to the small things was another side effect of being in a job that I was fundamentally unsuited for. Which is all a long way to say…yeah maybe it’s time to leave retail

    2. Stephanie*

      I was in retail for about 10 years, so I sympathize. It’s a brutal business, especially this time of year. When I dreaded going in to work every single day, and was fighting the urge to yell at customers and coworkers, I knew it was time to get out. It sounds like you’re in a similar place.

    3. Kesnit*

      This time of year sucks for retail. (My wife has worked retail her entire adult life, and I worked 1 holiday season in retail.) If you can get through the next few weeks, you are past the worst. You can do it.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      It would really set me off when I found cups abandoned on the shelves. It’s been 6 years and I can still feel my blood boil.

      It might be worth exploring another field or it could just be that you’re in the final stretch (5 more shopping days til Christmas! Including today depending on your time zone – stores haven’t opened yet for me) and it’ll be so much better in about a week. I was in merchandising and always liked the spring-trans products – usually so simple & chic. And the store just looked clean again.

      1. River Song*

        I do not understand the cups/trash thing! I don’t condone the putting some random item on a random shelf thing, but I could be compassionate and think maybe they had to leave the store quickly or something. But setting your trash or empty cups down for someone else to clean up? The world isnt your trashcan. Hold it until you find one.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t know, I think a lot of people just do it on accident. I certainly have. You set your cup down to do something that requires two hands, it’s pretty easy to forget to pick it back up, especially if it’s empty.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            Often it would be placed in a corner hidden behind the clothing. So likely not unintentional in that case.

        2. AnonEMoose*

          I once found a pound of raw hamburger sitting on a random shelf of canned goods. I wasn’t about to touch it, because I had no idea how long it had been there, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to wash my hands right away. But I did report it to the next employee I saw. But still…WHO DOES THAT?!

    5. Joie*

      I used to feel like that constantly, I still get that feeling when out in crowded spaces, but turns out I actually like people when I left retail. Retail shopping especially Christmas shopping seems to brings out the absolute worst in people – their family / life drama becomes your fault because obviously you are the idiot because they wanted the hottest toy for their kids and their bad planning that you don’t have any is obviously you insulting their mother (insert eye rolling emoji here)

      I made the jump about 12 years ago, and transitioning to reception / admin from retail is actually a lot smoother then you’d think! I didn’t go corporate, I went smaller construction companies first and I was told after the fact the reason I got the job was the dildo story (I worked at an adult store before it) and the just the years of customer service and ability to deal with all the WTF retail brings.

    6. Amy Sly*

      Weirdly, there’s a part of me that would go back to retail if it paid what I’m making now. Yes, customers are terrible; I just default to assuming most are going to be thoughtless, stupid, and condescending (and that way I get mostly happy surprises!). But there was a real pleasure in being able to help someone directly, interact with them in person instead of phone calls and emails, and build relationships with the regulars. Of seeing them walk in in pain and walk out with a smile on their face half an hour later. Even organizing the stock room and straightening the floor. (Granted, I was in boutique comfort shoe shops.)

      I don’t mind what I do, but I like having something more tangible done at the end of the day than the knowledge I inconvenienced a lot of electrons.

    7. alannaofdoom*

      I sympathize! I did a few years in a retail boutique and the last stretch of the holidays was always the wooooooooorst. My tradition was to listen to the NPR recording of David Sedaris’s “Santaland Diaries” before I went to work.

      Maybe it will help you: https://www.npr.org/2016/12/23/506475364/a-holiday-tradition-david-sedaris-reads-santaland-diaries

      Almost there! Just a few more days and you’ll get some relief! I’m sending you all my most patient and easygoing vibes.

    8. voluptuousfire*

      I hear you! I ran to Old Navy last night and the woman behind me in line complained about how when it was in the local mall (which was 8 years ago at this point), the lines moved faster. She said this about 3 times in the 10 minutes we were waiting. We only waited that long since there was an issue with a gift card with one customer. After her 4th complaint, I turned around and said “I worked at Old Navy for several years back then. It was a larger store with a larger staff. They’re moving forward as quickly as they can. Have patience and empathy, it’s the holidays!” She shut up immediately.

      1. Gumby*

        The holiday shopping season is the worst. People who otherwise are able to pass as civilized somehow lose all ability to cope and take it out on retail staff.

        My mother once watched aghast as someone was unspeakably rude to a cashier at Macy’s and once the woman left, she commiserated with the cashier and then went out and *bought a hot chocolate and brought it back* because that customer was just that bad. (I’m pretty sure she asked beforehand if a coffee/hot chocolate / candy would be okay, and the cashier was about to go on break or something. All I remember is that she was really grateful and almost in tears. It was like “I can’t help that you have to deal with manner-less people all day, but here’s some sugar to help you get through.”)

    9. Mockingjay*

      I was holiday shopping yesterday. In a local department store, I stared aghast at the piles of clothing mounded on both sides of the register and on the counter behind the lovely clerk who was ringing up my purchase.

      Me: “Are all those…returns?”
      Clerk: “yes ma’am, they are.”
      Me: “Goodness! People really need to take a few moments to consider whether they really want it before they buy something.”

      This department store belongs to a national chain with a terrible reputation, but our local unit is always staffed by the nicest, kindest staff I’ve ever encountered.

      On behalf of rude customers everywhere, I offer sincere apologies to you and thanks for a job well done in an industry that takes you for granted, especially this time of year.

    10. A Poster Has No Name*

      I have a retail job as my side gig, and I mostly get ragey at my lazy-ass coworkers vs the customers. But I don’t cashier (much), so there’s that.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      “Show me someone with a deep and abiding hatred of humanity and I will show you someone who has worked retail customer service.”
      I’ve been there friend (great user name, btw). You’ve got four more days. You can do it.

    12. Wish I had a clever name here*

      I worked fast food and retail for 13 years! Now I will apologize for the person(s) in front of me and compliment them on their professionalism or if I can tell they’re emotional that they did nothing wrong. I will even go speak to the manager about situation and/or provide positive feedback on my experience because I know how vindictive people can be over nothing! So many people look down on those working these types of jobs when they have no idea of the reason(s) why someone is.

  8. Jackalope*

    Soooo, I have a question about an exciting thing at work and how to make the most of it: what is the best way to take advantage of having a mentor?

    Background: I’ve been at my job for over a decade, and had spent the first several years working towards the position I’m in now. I’ve been in this specific position for about three years now and have mostly been loving it. I can see, however, that it might not be a job to last 20 more years (I’m in one of the few remaining fields where people often stay with their employer their whole career, and I’ve loved the first 10 years so am very open to that). Since my first several years were working towards this I got here, looked around, and thought, “Oh dear; I have no idea what might be next!”

    Our employer has the opportunity for people who’ve been around for awhile and want this to be their career to be mentored by a senior employee to help guide them to future steps. Squee moment that I was chosen to be in this program, and now have a mentor to work with me for the next few months.

    Now that I have my mentor, however, I’m floundering a bit. She’s lovely and has clearly done this before and has some ideas, but I’m a bit stymied by the fact that I’m not sure what I want next. I’ve always wanted to avoid the management path and she’s fine with helping me down a more technical path, but I don’t know for sure if that’s what I want or not (it did come to me that my one horrible experience as a supervisor [at a previous job] came when I was completely unaware of what the job entailed, had no training in any way, and was a woman in charge of an otherwise all male team while living overseas in a very patriarchal culture, so maybe it’s not always as bad as I think?).

    So does anyone have some ideas on how I can get the most out of this mentorship relationship when my current career plan is, “I dunno, stay here, do something, not sure what but would like to know more”? All of my past mentoring experiences (as both mentor and mentee) involved a newbie to a position being guided to greater proficiency by someone who’s been in that job for awhile. I’m really not sure what to do when I already know my current job and am just training for a nebulous (but hopefully good) future at some other to be determined position.

    Thoughts?

    1. Veronica Mars*

      First of all, management is definitely not for everyone, just like a technical path is not for everyone. Don’t feel guilty for being you.

      That said, relationships are essential in all job functions. I’ve gotten the most out of mentoring relationships like these by walking through real situations related to how I handle interpersonal things, either to figure out next steps or to do an ‘after action review’ of what I did. Talking about real situations just feels less.. trite? than having long drawn out big picture stuff. Things like “hey, I have to make a presentation to communicate technical things to leadership, can you take a look at it and make suggestions?” or “The other day, I had this challenging situation where 2 people on my team disagreed on the definition of a word, here’s what I did, what do you think I could modify for next time>”

    2. Buttons*

      One of the best things you can do with this mentorship is learning more about the company, business, industry. Regardless if you choose to stay in a technical role or to move into management, knowing more, at a higher level is always beneficial. One thing that often happens when women are being mentored is the mentor focuses on soft skills- networking, communication, “branding.” While men being mentored are taught more about the business, industry, budgeting, etc.
      So focus on what you don’t know in those areas. Ask your mentor- “what do you wish you knew before starting this position? (you can also ask about phases in her career)
      Ask her what her career goals were, and about her career path.
      Ask her about lessons she has learned along the way that may have shaped relationships, outcomes, etc
      Ask her about hiring/interviewing people, managing people
      Together set some goals such as identifying learning opportunities for you (either technical or management)
      If budgeting is something you don’t have experience with, you could ask her to show you how she manages her budget. This is often something new leaders do not have much experience with and can often prevent them from moving further up because they haven’t had budgeting experience.
      Finally, I would literally search “mentoring in ” and see what more industry specific questions you can ask.
      Good luck!

    3. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Book recommendation for the question of what you’re aiming for: “Is Your Genius At Work”.

      Also, I think Nancy Kline may have written about mentoring situations, but I can’t remember which book.

    4. Found a Name*

      At my last mentor meeting, we actually spent the whole time figuring out what my next steps in the next few years would be! We spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons of moving into management vs staying an individual contributor. It was really helpful to hear her perspective about being a manager in our organization, and I’d encourage you to talk to your mentor about it as well. I know you said you’re not interested in management, but it’s entirely possible it was due to your previous experience, and things at the new place might be very different! And your mentor is definitely going to be able to give you an honest perspective.

      My mentor also made the great point that throughout a person’s career, they can shift from management to IC and back – it’s fluid, and you’re not locked into management forever. It also never hurts to develop your leadership/project management skills, because no matter what job you’re in, those skills will always come in handy.

  9. flow*

    Finally catching one of the FFAF! Thank you Alison as always for creating this community, I am SO grateful for the insights and knowledge from fellow readers.

    So I used to have ‘Tired’ as my handle here, but I’m changing it up just to prevent the self-deprecation for more than necessary. I was recruited by my ‘best’ friend to work in a company that her foreign boss wanted to make in this country, and she herself works in that office overseas whilst she wants me to lead the local office. I was very naive and agreed to the abysmally low pay (not even 30% of avg pay for my position) and doing every single thing at the office alone, my friend became defensive whenever I tried to give input and asked for a raise, gave me absurd excuses such as “Mr.Boss said you need to work for a year first here, besides I will have to get a raise too if you do” whilst her position was getting a salary from that overseas office as well as this local office. And then I found out she’s been withholding information to the big boss, as well as giving false insight about the local market (to protect her position??). I’ve tried working for a year here, and came to the conclusion that my friend doesn’t care about me as a boss and as a personal friend, and so I resigned and my last day will be next week. Huzzah!

    She didn’t even ask me why I resigned LMAO why am I so surprised and so hurt by that.

    So now I’m basically about to be jobless, but I really want to move overseas and start a new life there due to personal reasons. I initially just started looking for ways to move anywhere in the world, but my therapist said that I should also focus on what kind of life I want to build in my destination. I want to try Canada or Japan, but gods why is everything so expensive…
    Does anybody have any tips on moving overseas when I’m limited economically and have so-so grades/resume? My English is good but I’m not a native speaker, and my portfolio is okay as far as Web Designers go. Right now I’m looking to borrow money from my parent, to start lessons in Japanese and getting certification for N2 level (almost native), but I’m almost always in panic state because I don’t want to not have a regular monthly income/have a too-long gap in my resume…

    Also what should I write in my resume for this underpaid position as COO for only 1 year? Should I just say the truth, along the line of “I was recruited to work together with a friend but it didn’t work out”? Or should I elaborate more?

    1. Mameshiba*

      Hello, posting from Japan!
      You won’t be able to work here unless you get a job that will sponsor your working visa. It’s hard to break in as a foreigner if you have no network locally. Most people here don’t speak English so jobs will be relying on your language skills, so I would avoid downplaying your English (it sounds good enough to be functionally native anyway). I would also research the job market–is there demand for English-speaking web designers? As for Japanese language skills, basically you have to be fluent, or good enough at your chosen profession that you’re worth hiring anyway. Not sure how good your Japanese is–are you just starting out, or close to N2? If you are just starting lessons N2 is not a realistic goal!

      Japan is not cheap and not easy to break into, especially with low language skills. Moving within Japan is crazy expensive, and moving overseas is never cheap. I would do a lot of research before hopping over here, it’s nothing like Canada and not beginner-friendly if you’re on your own. (I do love it here but just want to give you the real deal, it’s not a country move you should consider lightly).

      1. Mameshiba*

        And in case you were considering it, yes many people do work in Japan as language teachers, but this is going to be difficult (which is Japanese for impossible) for you as a non-native English speaker. Jobs that hire non-native English speakers as English teachers do not pay well (students are “settling”). If your native language is French, German, Chinese, or Korean then you might be able to work with that (I hear there’s demand for Spanish as well for athletes), if not then there is unfortunately very little market.

        As you research I would encourage you to note whether the source is a native English speaker, because their experiences might not apply to you (and it’s very different to live here as an English speaker on an expat program with a fat salary vs. not North American/UK/Australia/NZ standard English speaker (or not an English speaker at all) with less money).

        1. Flow*

          Hi! thanks for the reply. I went on a short course in Kyoto and as of now I’m on around N3 level and often worked on casual translations, so I can understand nuances (in fact, I love translating to be as true as the source materials haha) and I’m quite sure that I could reach N2 within half or a year. I hope the N2 could boost my hirability, if not in Japan then in other countries that need people who speak the language fluently.

          I’ve heard/read stories about the difficulties of working in Japan, even for native English speakers and I want to research further to have realistic expectations on living there, really. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind. Do you think the N2 certificate can boost my chance of being hired by a Japanese company?

          1. Nanashi*

            They love certificates, so just having the N2 on your CV is good, but being able to communicate in a business environment is more important. Ideally being able to interview in Japanese is what you want for way higher chances. I’m sure you are aware but N2 or even N1 have nothing to do with language fluency.

            Also it is much easier to find a steady job once you are already based in Japan, think language school for one or two years, attending university, teaching in a language school as a contractor. Employers dislike dealing with temporary visitor visas, but it’s easier to change a long-term status.

            The most important thing is your actual field of expertise though. Unless you are narrowly specialized in an in-demand industry, you have to be ready for many challenges, long stints at entry level with lowered chances for promotion, and lots of cultural peculiarities that clash with your personal common sense. Corporate culture in Japan might not be worth the effort.

            1. Flow*

              Noted! Thankfully there are Japan job fairs here and neighbouring country that I can visit and drop my CV in. I’ve interviewed with one of them before, and sadly didn’t get recruited on the final interview with users. I hope the N2 might boost that up when I try again in the future. Was also considering language school as some of them provide help with finding jobs, but it’s going to be Plan C or D, I think.

              Thank you for the input!

              1. Nanashi*

                Also if there is a need for therapy for any mental health issues, you do not want to be in Japan for the next ten or twenty years, unless your therapist works through video calls. Medication is another issue: things might not be available because of strict regulations, or because they are considered “omg drugs!”, or they are available only if you are hospitalized, or the maximum allowed dosage is too low, etc. And I can guarantee that the accumulated stress will exacerbate any preexisting issue. Japan is fun to be in, but there is A LOT to consider, for all that it’s a first-world country.

              2. Mameshiba*

                Late replying–yes N2 is helpful but if you want to work at a company at one of the job fairs (I’m thinking along the lines of Boston Career Forum etc) you will need N1+ fluency. Even with that, most of those career fairs are really looking for Japanese people who can speak some English, and the fairs are aimed at Japanese students studying abroad in that country. If your language school is in Japan, then that might be easier as you can job hunt while you’re there–few companies are willing to sponsor a visa from overseas. And unfortunately there aren’t a ton of other countries that require Japanese language speakers–Hawaii/west coast of North America, Peru/Brazil/other South America, and tourist-focused positions in Asia like in Taiwan, Korea, etc. You might be able to use your native language as a boost if it’s Spanish or Chinese.

                N2 is better than nothing but the days where you could show up as a foreigner and say “hire me, I kinda speak your language” are long gone. Would you hire someone in your country/America who could speak conversational English but struggled with business meetings and documents? They’d need to be pretty damn good at whatever their job was, right? And would you take a chance on that stranger enough to ship them in from overseas? Same thing here.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Another overseas resident here.

        If you want to move to another country or work there (not just visiting as a tourist) you need a resident visa. There are a few ways of doing this, but it’s not necessarily easy. You can do it through family (marry a citizen, be sponsored by a family member who is a citizen, come in as the spouse of a work visa holder). You can get it through getting a job with an employer who is willing and able to sponsor you for a work visa (usually requires specialized skills), you can come in as a student (usually limits or prohibits working, and requires you to demonstrate that you can support yourself while there or a scholarship). I’m a PhD academic, came over as a researcher for a government institute, and was eligible for permanent residency after a number of years of work.

        Canada is likely to be easier – there are more paths for generalized immigration, and you speak the language – but most are linked to having desirable job skills, being a business owner, or related to someone who is a citizen. It’s also a more popular destination than Japan, so there’s more competition. There’s lots of info on line for prospective Canadian immigrants, and on how to avoid scams.

        Japan is hard if you don’t have a job, and your average Japanese company isn’t interested in hiring non fluent foreigners. I will note that the lower end English teaching jobs in Asia are often hired based on having a passport from an English speaking country, not your actual language skills, because the people hiring can’t necessarily tell the difference between a native and non native speaker by accent. The better jobs, though, require teacher training and experience. And it’ll be easiest to get a job if you have a US or Canadian passport and are white.

        Japan is crazy expensive to move to – plan on having six months rent in hand to rent an apartment, for example, between first month’s rent, deposit, mandatory present to the landlord, and agency fees. Living in Japan is expensive, but not as bad as you might think, if you live like the locals (in Tokyo this means a very tiny apartment, and a two hour one way commute by public transit). Smaller cities are cheaper, but also a lot more isolating for foreigners – fewer resources, fewer people to socialize with, standing out a lot more).

        If you have a job lined up you don’t necessarily need a ton of money to move, if you’re willing to move with nothing more than your luggage allowance on the flight, but you do need to have a couple of months of living expenses, plus enough cash in hand to cover renting an apartment (see sixth months rent above), buying a transit pass, and getting settled in.

        1. Flow*

          I agree, Canada seems to be the easier option for me, as current news stated that they are making it easier for people to immigrate, and my qualifications are in one of the Human Capital Priorities Stream. I just have to further list down what I need to move, and research about the actual living condition there.

          As for Japan, I have some ideas about how isolating it can be for non-Japanese, but I can pass easily as one and I already have several friends who live there and some native friends that could show me the ropes, though I hope I can survive on my own without having to rely on them. This is actually one of the homeworks my therapist assigned me; look up ways to survive daily there (knowing about how to do my tax, where to find local communities from my country, etc) and plan out as detailed as possible so that I know what to do exactly if I go there.

          Thank you for the input!

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            Easier FOR CANADA. It is still quite difficult to immigrate here, and you would also need a visa for a job (and proof of job in-hand) before you would be considered.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            I will warn you that, oddly enough, in many ways looking Japanese, or being of Japanese heritage but raised elsewhere, can be harder than being a complete foreigner. If you’re a complete foreigner and you make any effort at all to learn the language and customs, you’ll get positive reinforcement and compliments, and people will not expect you to possibly be able to follow all the rigid unwritten rules of the culture. If you look like you should fit in, the expectations will be a lot higher. You’ll be asked why your Japanese is so bad, and be expected to follow all those rules, and judged when you fail.

            In other words, passing as Japanese abroad in no way means you can pass as Japanese in Japan. My husband, who *is* born and raised Japanese, and lived there until the age of thirty before moving abroad, is regularly mistaken for a foreigner when he goes back to visit. He gets compliments on his mastery of the language, but he’s a native speaker! But after more than a decade abroad, his body language and fashion choices have shifted enough that he doesn’t fit in.

            Another thing to consider is that it can be very hard to find comparable therapy options in a foreign country, between language issues, different medical systems, and often radically different approaches to mental health. So you might want to consider whether you can keep on remotely with your local therapist (at your own expense) or do without after moving there.

            1. Mameshiba*

              Seconding this. I definitely have the best possible positioning as a white person who speaks Japanese–I get effusive praise for reading my own email, and I get to opt out of rigid cultural expectations (I’m taking off early for Christmas instead of staying until the 27th and helping with year-end cleaning. My boss’s response was “Of course you are, have a good time.” I don’t think I’d get off so easy if I was Japanese!)

              Meanwhile, I have friends like Acadamia’s husband who are Japanese by blood but have studied or lived abroad and they have a much harder time because they confuse people. Are you Japanese (in which case why are you so dumb/rudely not doing what you should) or are you not Japanese (in which case I guess you don’t know better/why are you here)? Plus there is a lot of racism towards Chinese, Koreans, and southeast Asians like Indians and Filipinos… so not only do you blend in too much for anyone to help you when you’re lost, you get confused for a dumb local, or a dirty foreigner.

              Disclaimer that I do absolutely love living here! It is much safer and easier than back home for me right now, and I’ve managed to build a career and family here. Many foreigners do make it and we build a community while we have an adventure. But it’s not a decision to make lightly, and it’s not easy or cheap. So you should really think if it’s the best choice for you where you are right now (remember you can always come visit!)

    2. 867-5309*

      I recently returned to the United States after living in Europe and can tell you it is difficult, if not impossible, to move to another country if you don’t have a well-sought after skill set or the ability to show how you will support yourself in that country. Most also have language requirements, unless you are able to secure a work visa. And yes, it will be thousands of dollars to get a work visa unless a workplace is willing to fund it, which again is unlikely unless you have an especially compelling resume. Sorry for the bad news there.

      You might be able to get a job-seeker visa, which is usually a few months. And if you’re under a certain age, I think the work requirements are different.

      A gap in your resume will hurt your opportunities abroad, so I would encourage you to find freelance work, at the very least. Also, see if there are related Facebook groups that can give you more localized advice. Example – I joined the Americans in Norway group when I lived there.

      re: Japan – you could look at teaching English.

      As for your second question: You definitely don’t want some bitter or aggressive on your resume. That should focus on what results you were able to achieve, keeping in mind the kind of work you WANT to do. You’re better of saying in an interview, “I was recruited by a colleague for this position. The job description didn’t match the position and I’m looking for something like (position you’re applying to) that lets me focus on (type of work).”

      1. Flow*

        Thank you for your input! It’s okay, I would rather have all the blunt truth than trying to have a too high expectations.

        Yes, I’m also doing freelance works right now, though hopefully I will find a job in February or so (I will have an eye surgery in January and it might take a few weeks to fully recover.)

        And true, I don’t want to unintentionally sound bitter in my resume/interview. Is it possible that an interviewer would pry?

        1. 867-5309*

          Doubtful. Most interviewers know that good candidates aren’t going to bash their former/current employer. If they ask how the job description vs. actual job differed, just be prepared with an answer.

          Something like, “I was prepared for a role with autonomy to run operations and it ended up being a junior role with little room to own assignments.”

    3. Working in J-land*

      Also working in Japan, here. I was an English teacher through the JET Program for a couple years, then got hired by a local company. Unless you want to take a break in your career path, I wouldn’t recommend teaching. There are English teachers who aren’t native speakers, but some countries of origin/accents are discriminated against.
      As Mameshiba said you’ll need to have your visa sponsored, but companies looking for foreign skilled labor limit their search to those already within Japan. From my experience as well, N2 doesn’t make candidates appealing, it’s a bare minimum for non-teaching full time work.
      It’s really tough to break into a foreign country, but it doesn’t hurt to keep looking and applying, you may be a lucky one.

      1. Flow*

        Here’s the thing; I really don’t know if a career path is important to me or not. I’m always so anxious about being “on the right path” and “building up my career”, because I spent a year in a position that’s not necessarily my career path (Designer – graphic and web UI, and Illustrator). I’m also weighed down by my age if that makes sense? Maybe it’s just the anxiety talking but I always feel like “oh god I’m already xx age, is it too late to only have x years of experience in x career?”

        Anyways. Thank you for your input! I didn’t know that N2 is a bare minimum – I always thought that as long as you can speak Japanese well and have the certification, employers would prefer you over others. In any case I would still be interested in learning as I love the language. I’ll keep trying.

        1. Working in J-land*

          Not sure if you’re keeping up on the replies still, but thought I’d commiserate ahaha. I also have no clue what my career path is, but moving abroad can absolutely give you a fresh start.
          I worried about the bits of time I “wasted” in the past, but I’ve realized I was comparing myself to some “perfect” version of myself. Other people don’t see that unattainable person, so they can appreciate your accomplishments more clearly.

          N2 is a minimum, but honestly some industries/companies aren’t even aware of what the JLPT is. My company had no clue what “N2” meant, but I could back it up with good speaking skills. As a shorthand, I’d assume job listings that post “N2” really need N2 or above (bc they should know what that means), but other industries may have more leeway. There’s also a business Japanese certification test out there, looking up what is included in that should give you an idea of what you’d need to work in a Japanese company (which is different than what the JLPT tests!).

    4. DoomCarrot*

      How easy different countries are to move to depends a lot on your country of origin – because that determines what kind of visa you’ll need. For example, being an EU citizen or a Commonwealth citizen makes other countries in that set easier/more attractive.

      I’m currently working in my 5th country, but most of them have been ones where I didn’t need a specific visa. Some of my coworkers came on work visas, but have to ensure they don’t have an unemployment period in between contracts so their visa won’t expire.

      That said, there is another possibility that works in almost every country: being able to prove you have the means to sustain yourself without relying on a local job/social security. If you’re not independently wealthy, that could be a full-time remote job or generating a good income as a freelancer. Since from what you’ve said, you speak at least three languages and enjoy translating, maybe work in translation/localisation/testing that uses those could be done remotely?

      1. Flow*

        True, I’m not from EU or Commonwealth citizen, and there are some limitations to me in terms of privilege to move around, I suppose. Though, I still have other ways that I had yet to explore (and I will!)

        Yes, I’m aiming for a Japanese and English language certification in early 2020 and find freelance/remote works that can make use of those skills, as well as my existing ones (Design and Illustration).

        Thank you for your input!

    5. WellRed*

      I can’t address the questions but have a question for you? You sound like you have no clear focus. Why do you want to move overseas? Are you fantasizing a dramatic fresh start or something? And Canada and Japan are dramatically different in terms of everything. I’m so happy you resigned that awful job but please consider why you want to make such a drastic move with limited resources.

      1. Flow*

        No, honestly I don’t have a clear focus right now. I just want to get away from this country because I have some traumas (that I’m working on with my therapist right now) and I do want a fresh start/move on, though hopefully not an overly dramatic one LOL.

        They are very different countries, true. I want Japan because I’m already familiar with the country and language, and Canada because it’s possible to get into independently, compared to other countries, I suppose.

        1. BonnieVoyage*

          So for context, although I’ve never worked outside my own country part of my job is to assist people at my company with work visas, travel, relocation and so on. For the most part, when you are trying to move to another country to work that country will want to know why they need you in particular (ie what your valuable skills are) and exactly what it is that you intend to do. (This will of course vary depending on your nationality, the country in question and any agreements in place between the two!) Basically, most countries and particularly not large developed countries like Canada and Japan do not want people just turning up and hoping they will find something to do. If you can’t give a clear answer and back it up with some kind of evidence you are unlikely to be granted a work visa, and the process is usually time-consuming and expensive.

          If you don’t have a particular job in mind and are mostly seeking a fresh start, I would strongly suggest looking to see if any countries offer working holiday visas that you would be eligible for. If that’s not possible and if you have the means to do so, it may be preferable for you to simply travel for a set period (eg 3-6 months) and get a clearer idea of the type of work available in other countries, establish connections and so on.

          1. Flow*

            Thank you for the input! I am preparing my portfolio and resume, and thankfully my skills are listed in one of the Human Capital Stream in Canada, so I’ll try applying and focusing on its PR first, whilst studying Japanese as well to get the language certification.

    6. Buttons*

      I emigrated to Canada (from the US) almost 20 years ago, and it is not easy to do. If you do not have a sought after job skill, you simply won’t be able to. If you do not have a focus, if all you want to do is travel and see the world, then do that. If you know for sure where you want to go, and why, then I would apply to schools and gain a student visa, which often will allow you to work on campus. This will do a couple of things- it will gain you entry to the country legally, it will provide you with a way to work, and if you decide you want to stay in that country, it will be easier to transition from a student visa to a working visa.
      Good luck!

      1. Flow*

        Thank you for the input! Right now there are several ways to get into Canada, and my skills are actually in one of the Human Capital Priorities Stream! I was so surprised to see, as usually what’s listed are skills such as engineering, programming, and other data-based or manufacturing positions. I’m listing down all my options and how to do it, I think I might need that luck :)

        (Also I hope this comment appears in the reply, as my replies to WellRed and AcademiaNut failed to appear in my browser even though I’ve tried submitting twice!)

      1. Flow*

        Yes! I’ve tried calculating my score and I’m actually above the cut-off score – though I still have to look up other information too :)

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Canada participates in the International Experience program with a number of other countries (links in reply). The visa is good for 12 or 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship, and there are 3 categories that you can look at. If you’re between 19-35 you may be able to try this deal.

        1. Chris915NZ*

          If you are under 30 and a national of one of 45 countries (see link posted below), you could consider a working holiday visa in New Zealand? Conditions vary by scheme, but if you qualify it’s a low bar way of getting an open work visa and trying another labour market out.

  10. Argye*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about some misgivings I had about an interview where it was unclear what costs the University interviewing me was going to cover. I am happy to say that they covered everything. It turns out that they were using a Graduate Assistant to do their scheduling, and he was largely clueless. (He managed to do some confusing thing where all meetings were scheduled in Outlook in Pacific Time. None of us are in Pacific Time. It was odd.) When I interacted with the actual support staff, they were clear, specific, and completely organized and business-like. It went far, far better than I was afraid. I got along well with my potential supervisor (Assistant Dean; it’s a faculty/Program Directorship), and my potential peers (other Program Directors).
    I have a video interview scheduled for January with the Dean – he was out of town while I was there. I am cautiously optimistic. Depending on salary, I’d take this job if offered.

    I’ve had two other video interviews since, and have one more scheduled for January. Things are moving, thank goodness.

    1. Ama*

      Ah, good, I remember reading that post in passing and thinking it sounded like the person communicating with you maybe didn’t know what they were doing (I worked in university admin for many years and I scheduled many an interview for out of town faculty and grad student candidates).

      Good luck, I hope all goes well.

  11. Aggretsuko*

    This week at my job: a guy screamed at my coworker so hard he gave himself a seizure. It was literally declared the worst day ever at this job, which is really saying something.

    I don’t really have a question, I’m just so sick of stressed out, screaming, crying clientele (think “DMV” sort of job where you usually don’t come here unless you’re unhappy) who threaten us and everyone else. Things have gotten straight up psychotic in the last four years and we’re all exhausted and I don’t know if there’s anything anyone can do to make it less horrible.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I realize it’s unethical to drug people without consent, but also I feel like workplaces like that should have some sort of human Feliway things you stick in the vents to emit calming pheromones and help people chill out.

      1. JaneB*

        Oh I would love human feliway! I’d plug it in in my office for the week before every coursework deadline or exam, student stress is reaching insane levels and it’s really difficult…

      2. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

        Just put a big sign up on the door “Cherry Plum is part of the air conditioning”

        (*evil laugh*)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It would have to be better than the mall-store fake Christmas stench that is wafting through the office this week. I’m probably going to give up and take sick time, even though I was hoarding those last few hours to roll into next calendar year.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          You could get a little air purifier by your desk. I am so happy to have one. I am really sensitive to fragrances. It doesn’t help if I walk by someone with perfume, but at least my space is a haven.

          1. Past my last straw*

            I might just try that, although I’m near enough to a main hallway that everyone & their perfume walks by at some point in the week. Thanks.

      4. Aggretsuko*

        I have fantasies about this. Not exactly “Miranda” in Firefly, but something…

        I actually brought some hippie product called “Negaside” or something that I used to spray around my toxic old office when everyone else was out. I wish I could use it at the front counter here, but there’s always someone out there and I’d have to explain what I’m doing.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          Long ago I worked with someone who kept a bottle of spray cleaner labeled Jerk-B-Gone and would clean her phone with it after every call with a cranky customer. No hippie magic promises, just catharsis.

      5. Jean (just Jean)*

        Sounds great in theory but in practice please remember the people who are physically sensitive to fragrances.
        It’s not much fun getting a full-blown asthma attack. I can continue breathing in the presence of Industrial Smells but boy do I notice them. (Thinking of you, random commuter who must have used two full bottles of … something… yesterday morning.) Getting out of Dodge is probably the best solution to being around such unhinged colleagues. Good wishes for doing that.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          I have very intense allergies to fragrances! Feliway is a calming pheromone product for cats, not a scented thing. And it doesn’t exist for humans. I’m just wishing it did. :)

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Feliway specifically is the maternal-bonding pheromone that mother cats emit to their kittens. When we plugged in a Feliway diffuser in my house, my cat curled up under the power outlet purring at her new “mom.”

          It was adorable.

      6. thelettermegan*

        You know, there may be something to that – if the nature of the office is that people come in angry, can you work with the space to make it more calming? Neutral colors, a ‘clean’ smell (like subtle lavender or whatever ‘fresh linen’ is) , one of the couches that sucks people into the cushions so they can’t escape, that might at least slow people down.

      7. Lora*

        If this was a thing, we would have already invented it and installed it in several Big Pharma workplaces just for our own sanity. Also how you know all those supplements that are supposed to make your brain work better, don’t actually do anything: Big Pharma would have happily bribed Sodexo to put it in the cafeteria food, but unfortunately all we got was Motivational Posters like everyone else.

        In real life it would be more of a Serenity / Miranda type of thing, where it mostly works for a lot of people who have varying reactions to the doses, and a small % turn into Reavers. Pharmacology is weird.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Yep. If it existed, it would be pumped throughout our campus (can you imagine the FDA inspection? LOL!)

          IRL, Feliway works for some cats, doesn’t work for others, and makes a small percentage (even more) aggressive. I had an aggressive cat and Feliway made her completely insane with rage (not an exaggeration – she was a howling, shrieking, biting, clawing fiend. Thank goodness for powerful antibiotics!), so I expect human Feliway would be the same.

          1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            Oh gosh, poor kitty and poor you!

            I live in Brooklyn and our local “Feliway for humans” is the secondhand pot smoke we get when the neighbors walk under our windows. Firsthand it has a similar range of effects, which is why we only experience it secondhand, and try to minimize that…

      8. Chronic Overthinker*

        I joke that I need to sage my office once a month (burning dried white sage leaves as incense) but I’m afraid I would set off the fire alarm. XD I definitely want to make a white sage room spray. People seriously need to chill out and I need to clear out all the negative energy in the office!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      ODL. BTW, the screamer gave himself a seizure, yes? Not the co-worker trying to avoid being screamed at?

        1. OhNo*

          Goodness, I didn’t even know that was possible.

          I’m not going to lie, your job sounds so stressful it would probably send me screaming for the hills. At least it sounds like you and your coworkers are in it together and can support each other, I hope?

          1. JustaTech*

            I had a boss (years before I worked for him) who got into such a screaming fight that he had a massive heart attack right there in the hall. He lived, and everyone who knew him said he “chilled way out” afterwards, which is kind of terrifying because I would never have used the word “chill” to describe that boss!

    3. Kuirky*

      Ha, I work at my state’s human services office so I know how you feel re: angry, upset clients constantly.

  12. Caroline*

    Any advice for doing an interview for a competitive on campus job at my university? There are three rounds of interviews, and I’m pretty concerned about making it past even the first round. Considering we’re all students with similar experiences, how can I shine in the interview? I really want the job, and I think I’d be a great fit.

    1. 867-5309*

      What is the position? Is it in academia or something else, like the public-facing public relations department?

    2. Carson*

      you probably already know this but I’d say practicing OUTLOUD with friends/mentor/counselor at the school. Have specific, real world examples. Good luck! I’m in the second round for a promotional at my uni, first round was written, second a panel.

    3. Elly*

      I’m a staff member in a university, working for a department that hires a lot of student workers (although I’ve so far avoided having to interview any of them), and here are the things that get brought up a LOT:

      – bring your materials with you – you wouldn’t believe how many people show up without a copy of their CV / cover letter / application, and can’t cope with question 1, which is always “can you walk us through your CV?”

      – If you are put somewhere to wait for the interviewer, that is also part of the interview! Be polite and friendly with anyone you meet. We often put people waiting into the office (even for fairly senior roles!) and the team are asked afterwards whether there is anyone they think should be excluded from consideration.

      – Think in advance about the sort of competenecies the role requires, and what examples from your past work and study you can use. Write these down, and take notes in if you need to! A lot of our questions for student workers and low level staff are things like “this role requires team work. Can you tell us about a time you worked well as part of a team?” A surprising number of people, even those with years of experience, will answer with something along the lines of “well, I’ve worked in lots of teams, and I’m really a team player.” We are looking for someone to say something like “during my time working at a summer camp, we had a list of tasks that had to be completed each day. Our team would take five minutes after breakfast each day to distribute the workload, and check in with each other at lunch to make sure everyone was coping.”

      – Try not to use too many examples from university. We find that students with relatively full work experience sections still provide lots of examples from their time studying, possibly on the basis that they don’t think their time working in a shop is relevant – really we would prefer to hear about that!

      – Stop talking! A lot of nervous people keep rambling to fill the silence. Give an answer and then stop. The panel may need to take some time to scrawl down their notes, or process what you’ve said – them not talking doesn’t mean they want you to keep doing so!

      – Be confident, but not overly so. People want to hire someone they can work with, and if you are too arsy, or too meek, they are likely to worry about what you will be like in the office. We find that women in particular are prone to not talking themselves up enough.

      1. Veronica Mars*

        So true on the confidence bullet. I’ve been told more than once that my confidence (as a woman) is the reason I got the job. Not in a braggy way, but I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and am candid about both.

        The advice I’ve heard that works for me is to pretend you’re describing your best friend.

      2. Library Squad*

        Two things from high school that are worth sharing:
        Ms. Lynn’s Rule: Never be afraid to say “I don’t know”.
        Miss Westwood’s Corollary: “I don’t know” is a great sentence, best followed by “yet.”
        Together, they make a good fallback when you’re stumped. “That’s an interesting question. I haven’t actually fed koalas myself, but I know how to look up & learn the procedures.” Then segue into a brief example of a time where you taught yourself to do a required task from an SOP document, FAQ webpage, or book. Bonus if you demonstrate an understanding of the university’s available resources. (With a caveat that if you’re going to be hired after graduation as a full-time employee, you proably will have different access than if you’re hired as a student worker.)

      3. Senor Montoya*

        Excellent list. I’d add:
        1. Learn about the department/program. Academic institutions have websites.
        Familiarize yourself. Review the info on the website against the job description.
        2. Prepare questions to ask the committee. I’m super unimpressed when candidates have no questions or say something like, You’ve already answered all my questions. It’s academia, we expect questions!
        3. If you have multiple interviews for the same position (for instance, the search committee, professors in the department, the hiring office), you can ask the same questions! You don’t need all unique questions for each of these. In fact, asking the same question can get you valuable info — are the answers consistent? what’s the perspective of the person answering? etc.

      4. OhNo*

        Very much agreed on your point about confidence.

        Also this is more general professional advice, but don’t badmouth anyone associated with the university, even the slightest bit. Being involved with hiring student workers in my current job, gotta say that nothing knocks a student out of the running faster than expressing a negative attitude about one of the other departments. We have to work with them regardless of personal feelings or experience, so we look hard for evidence that student workers can be professional.

        As an example: had someone in the last round of hiring who, when asked why they were interested in the position, complained about how bad their financial aid package was and how their academic department didn’t pay enough to make the TA salaries worth the time. While I agreed in principle that both departments drop the ball regularly on student support, the fact that we work closely with both meant this student was immediately dropped off the list for a callback.

        In that same vein, anything you can do to demonstrate your understanding of professional norms will help a lot. Be polite and friendly, like Elly says. Send thank-you notes. Dress professionally. It seems super easy, but it’s amazing how many students don’t bother because it’s “just” a student worker job.

    4. Veronica Mars*

      So many people think that the key to ‘standing out’ is to be really pushy and aggressive about explaining All The Reasons You’re Special.
      But honestly? What most people care about, if the qualifications are roughly similar, is that you’re a nice/normal person they wouldn’t mind spending time with. So obviously it’s an interview, and you’ll need to be ready to talk to your strengths and weaknesses. But in the before/after pleasantry portion, focus on being *interested* not *interesting* and in general, squash all urges to show ‘gumption’.

    5. Alianora*

      I work at a university, but this tip isn’t specific to that: Make sure to actually answer the questions that your interviewers ask. A surprising number of the people I’ve interviewed tend to ramble and go off-topic, and then I have to re-ask the question again. If I say “tell me about a time,” I’m looking for specific examples (and if you don’t have one, say so.) If I ask, “What did you like about your last job?” I really want to know what your opinion was, not just a list of your job duties.

      1. Alianora*

        Also, a pet peeve of mine is when interviewees suck up to the admins (I’m an admin, often part of an interview panel for non-administrative staff). It’s transparently a tactic, and I find it condescending. Just treat us like normal people, no need to gush about how amazing all admins everywhere at every company are.

    6. LunaLena*

      Current staff member at a university here. I’d recommend preparing examples of how being a student will be beneficial to the role, and also be ready to explain why working at the university in particular is appealing to you. My co-worker was hired to our department right after he graduated, and I was not the hiring authority, but was on the search committee that picked him. What put him at the top of my candidate list (apart from his resume and cover letter) was that he demonstrated a lot knowledge of how the university worked (he had been a student employee in a relevant department, so that was helpful), was clear that he understood this was an entry-level position and he wanted to learn, and that the work was something he was interested in and fit well into his overall master career plan. Nothing put me off a candidate more quickly than those who obviously wanted to take the role and mold it to their own personal interests, rather than embracing the duties that were assigned to it. For example, one candidate was clearly interested only in the teapot-making aspect of the position, when the actual role was assembling fancy dinner sets and teapots would only be made if specially requested.

      If your university’s three rounds are like the ones at mine, the first round will be dependent entirely on your resume and cover letter. Make sure you are very clear about how you fit all the minimum and preferably the preferred qualifications, and you’ll most likely make it to the second round. The second round is a phone interview, so be prepared to talk about yourself and try to think of examples of things you’ve done/know that will be relevant to the position. The third round is an in-person interview, and will be an extension of the phone interviews. If you have examples of work you can bring that are relevant, bring them! It’s always better to bring extra cover letters, resumes, and portfolio pieces and not need them, than to not bring them and risk looking unprepared.

      Good luck!

      1. LunaLena*

        Oh, one more thing: don’t name-drop unless it’s relevant. If the role you are applying for works closely with Fergus in the Food Services and you have previously worked with him, then by all means mention it. But I’ve had candidates say things like “I’ve met University President at Event, and he’s great” and it’s very off-putting when the role has nothing to do with University President, and it just comes off as arrogant and clueless about what the role will really entail.

  13. Stephen!*

    I had an interview earlier this week and it did not go as well as I’d hoped. And follow up/thank you notes/ whatever you want to call them are still really hard for me to write. It’s like the entire conversation flops out if my head once the interview is over!

        1. Fikly*

          You may not need to do both at the same time, or take notes the entire time, depending on how your memory is triggered. I have naturally occurring thoughts during an interview that I might want to bring up this topic later, etc, and I’ll just jot down a few words “topic + f/u” and that’s enough for me.

    1. Patty Whack*

      This may not fit your experience but I once left a pretty dysfunctional interview and couldn’t bring myself to write thank you notes. A colleague/mentor I hold in high regard told me, “Don’t force yourself to write a thank you if you’re not thankful.” I thought post-interview thank yous were mandatory regardless since you took up someone’s time. But now it’s kind of a gut check for me.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Oh, the last job interview I went on, I realized I did NOT want that job and thus didn’t write one!

      2. Senor Montoya*

        Mmm, not really good advice. If nothing else, those people know other people in the field. For sure they know others at that employer. Anyone not gracious enough to send even a minimal thank you = I’m thinking they don’t know professional norms or they aren’t organized/timely. I’ll probably remember you, at least for awhile.

        Also, the interview may not have gone as poorly as you think. Or it did go poorly, but they’re not good at seeing that and so it won’t hurt you as much as you think.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        True, you don’t HAVE to.
        But I think I’d at least try to send a very short or generic one thanking them for their time and opportunity to learn more about the position at a minimum.

        It won’t make you stand out, but it won’t hurt you either.

    2. Veronica Mars*

      I think the pressure is that so many people want to write The Note That Covers All The Things You Wish Youd Said But Didnt.

      No note is going to “fix” a bad interview, not even a “perfect” one. But a short, simple note is much more powerful in its own way. You can pick maybe one thing you’d like to reiterate or refine, but otherwise give yourself a break from writing The Perfect Note and focus on a good note with a decent turn-around-time instead.

    3. Kiwiii*

      So, while an ideal thank you note should touch on something you talked about or follow up on a piece of the conversation, a thank you note that is just “Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I enjoyed meeting (you/the panel) and getting to learn a little more about the job. I’d like to reiterate my interest in the job; I look forward to hearing from you.” (obviously, slightly better phrased) is better than nothing.

    4. Other Secret Names Which You May Not Know Yet*

      If it cheers you up at all, this UK murderino is sending you positive vibes for the job hunt. SSDGM!

  14. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    The person currently in charge of my ongoing volunteer gig is stepping down, and I will gladly throw them a retirement party. We were friends until we worked together and now I have lost all respect for them, which makes me really sad. They’re just so bad at being in charge, but they volunteer to be in charge because they don’t trust anyone else to do it right. Inevitably this has burned them out, and I’m sorry they’re burned out but so glad they’re making space for someone else to step up.

    Today they shared their screen in a Zoom meeting to pull up a file out of their email, and I saw that they have over 3000 unread messages—not just messages in their inbox, which I know some people never clear out, but messages they’ve never looked at. It’s one thing to know that emailing them has about an 85% chance of shouting into a well and another to see a number on it.

    I have no idea who will step up as leader—not me, that’s for sure—but whoever it is will at least have a different set of foibles and flaws, and at this point that’s good enough for me.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Glad they are stepping down but re the unread emails, I have 1,000s of unread ones too. I clear my work inbox but not my personal one. I skim over all the crap and don’t open most of them unless I am expecting them or can see from the preview that I need to read it. So they sit there being counted as unread.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m the same way. I currently have over 1000 unread emails in my personal account. They’re all random crap. I keep my work inbox cleaned up, though.

        1. Buttons*

          You’re monsters, both of you!! ;) LOL! I am just teasing, everyone has whatever works for them.

          It drives me nuts to see any unread messages in my boxes.
          One of my 2019 goals was to take the time to block and/or unsubscribe to every single junk email I get (both work and personal), as soon as I am in my email. I have kept to it all year. It has made a world of difference in managing my emails.

          1. Zippy*

            Good for you, I’ve done a little of that as I have a few different email accounts and it’s so nice to have any space in regards to email :)

      2. Bree*

        I just checked and I have 5,400 unread e-mails in my personal inbox – it is mostly newsletters, advertising, etc. I read anything from an actual person!

        My work inbox is entirely read, organized, archived.

      3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Ah, this wasn’t their personal account but the organization-specific one. My personal inbox has ~600 unread emails at the moment and has been worse. But my work and volunteer org inboxes are clean.

        This is also someone who has literally said “Oh yeah, I’m bad with email, text me if it’s important” and “I assume that if I’m only cc’d on something, someone else is handling it and I don’t have to care” like that’s a reasonable strategy for someone heading up an organization with dozens of volunteers.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Obviously I can’t know if this person is failing to reply to critical emails — I’ve seen that happen. But it’s not automatically a horrible thing to have unread emails.
      I know a very effective manager who sets critical emails back to “unread” to prioritize them over other emails also flagged for follow-up.
      I am guilty of having 856 unread messages at the moment:
      -I automatically redirect automated updates from our online project-management notification systems. I read them online, but I retain the email notifications until a project is fully released, because it’s useful to have those updates searchable in MSOutlook.
      -Some of the group messages I’m sent are re-emailed until everyone on the list has completed their tasks… and that can be months of extra emails because one department can’t approve until the government does.
      -A non-work reason is that I signed up for email announcements from my daughter’s school at my work email as well as my home email because I want to see any early dismissal reminders, weather alerts, etc., and I don’t check my home email at work.

    3. Princess Scrivener*

      oh my Lawd, all those unread emails make my stomach hurt; here’s to post-stepping down day for improving your work environment!

    4. Senor Montoya*

      Eh, I have a LOT of unread email. I can see from the header whether or not it’s something I need to read. For instance, gmail appointments (I just accept/decline in my calendar), bouncebacks, spam, etc. It’s a waste of my time to open those and it’s a waste of my time to go thru and delete them, too.

      Unless you’ve gone through the email and seen lots of emails from your shop that should have been opened and that you know were never responded to with an email OR some other form of communication (walked down the hall to talk to you, picked up the phone, etc), you cannot make a fair judgment. Let it go.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        I certainly haven’t gone through their email, but over the past two years I have had countless emails I’ve sent them go unread and ignored, including important ones. So as I said, this is just putting a number on what I already know.

  15. Thank you notes*

    Any tips for writing thank you notes for former lecturers? I was involved in a project from senior year until a year after graduation. The project was finally finished last month, and I’m writing a note for each of my supervisors.

    So far my outline is like this:
    1. Thank you in general for the guidance
    2. Mention one thing they did that meant a lot to me
    3. Say that they have inspired me to pursue this field more seriously

    Any input on content, wording, etc is welcome! I have a tendency to be too effusive, so tips on that would be very appreciated.

    1. Carson*

      This sounds great! I think they’ll be touched to get a note. I like the specific example thing for #2.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Agreed. Don’t over-think it. As long as you’re sincere and have a specific example as Carson says, you’re fine. Last month a graduate I’d worked with when she was a student told me that one simple thing I said in an advising conversation had remained with her and inspired her to create her own professional path, and to stick with it even when it was difficult. I’ve been riding that wave for two months.

        TL;DR: Your lecturers will be thrilled to hear that they mattered and that you consider them mentors.

    2. OhNo*

      I think that sounds lovely. If you have a few to write and a tendency to be effusive, though, I’d suggest setting yourself a sentence limit. It always helps me to know that I only have 3 or 4 sentences to get my point across, so it may help you too!

  16. LegallyBrunette*

    My first name is a double name styled with a space and two capital letters, like Mary Sue. This is my legal name and, more importantly, the name I strongly prefer to be called (I’ve never been a Mary). It’s not uncommon for people to call me just Mary and/or assume that Sue is a middle name. In regular non-work life, I sometimes correct people and sometimes don’t – it’s generally easier to just let a barista to write Mary on my cup, for example. I started using a fake initial (Mary Sue J. Doe) on my resume and email signature with the hope that it will make my first name clearer. In professional settings, what’s the best way to politely correct people without making it awkward? It’s a slightly different situation than people getting a completely wrong name (Elaine being called Suzy), because they’ve sort of called me part of the right name.

    I’ve asked a similar question on a previous open thread in case this seems familiar. I got a lot of well-intentioned suggestions to change my name in some way (add a hyphen, go by just part of my name) but I strongly prefer my actual name as it is and am not open to using a first name other than my actual first name. I am primarily asking for help with how to gracefully correct people during job interviews, networking, etc.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      “Oh, it’s Mary Sue, not Mary. I’d love to learn more about the benefits you’re offering—can you give me a rundown?” With a smile.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Thanks! I’ve been through about a billion iterations of “Oh, it’s ‘they’, not ‘she’. Did you get a chance to revise those TPS reports?” and figured the skills would probably translate.

          1. Auntie Social*

            And drop the space between the names. Mary Sue becomes MarySue. There’s no misunderstanding that. My friend Mary Anne had to become MaryAnne.

      2. Mameshiba*

        I don’t think it’s gendered or tone-deaf, it’s just that sometimes people do include their middle name but don’t expect you to use it. Think “Jose Maria” but goes by “Jose”.

        I would just keep correcting them politely like Director Alpaca suggests–briefly, then diverting back to the topic at hand. If you see a pattern of mistakes then call it out more broadly (“Just so you know, Mary Sue is actually my full first name, so please don’t forget the Sue! Thanks.”)

        Anyone who repeatedly mistakes your name is giving you information about them. I can’t imagine anything more mortifying than getting someone’s name wrong over and over. If they are too dumb or rude to feel shame, then that’s not on you–I wouldn’t worry about trying to find the perfect way to get through to someone like that.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Or some folks go by one name or two, either way. My old boss had a Jose Maria sort of name that she would sometimes use the middle name on just so nobody mistook her for a dude, but since we knew her, we mostly just went with the first name.

          I know you said you didn’t want to change it, but getting rid of the space and being MarySue seems like it would get the point across to anyone who sees it, at least.

      3. Amy*

        This. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “actually, I go by Mary Sue.” Its no different than correcting the pronunciation of an unusual name. Be los key, kind, and direct, and move on.

    2. Jimming*

      I don’t have any advice, just sympathy. I recently wrote to Alison about my manager spelling my name wrong and I don’t know how to correct it. I’m hoping she’ll respond eventually!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I get people spelling and/or pronouncing my name wrong all the time. I’ve never found a way to deal with it that’s not awkward and actually works.

        Depending on your level of needed formality, you could try just signing things like emails with Mary Sue and no last name, to help clue people in that that’s what you go by. That’s pretty subtle, though, and given how many people misspell my name when writing back to me in emails I signed with my correctly-spelled name I doubt it would solve everything.

        The one nice thing that’s happened to me recently is that I’ve noticed that when I spend time in spaces where many of us will correct pronouns in conversations about people not in the conversation (“oh, Wakeen uses they/them pronouns. I agree that they’re doing a great job at [thing we were discussing].”), many of those same people will now take it upon themselves to help correct people as to how to say my name when they’re the one in a conversation with someone mispronouncing it (it’s very unusual that I’d break into a conversation about me but not to me to correct a name pronunciation issue – it would have to be “about to announce me on stage” level of problem before I’d bother). At least now we’re all getting to say a wider variety of gentle corrections rather than just the “regular” one each of us gets to say over and over again…

        1. Amy Sly*

          Re: Spelling names. I divide the world into people who need to say my last name and people who need to spell it. If you need to say it, it’s “Sly.” If you need to spell it, it’s Sierra Charlie Hotel Lima Echo Yankee. I find it’s easier to not even bother getting them to say it right.

        2. Elenna*

          If I saw an email signed with “Mary Sue” and no last name, I’d assume “Sue” was the last name, which is basically the opposite of what LegallyBrunette wants… I guess it might work in an environment where 100% of people sign emails with only their first name, idk.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I knew a woman whose full name was something like Mary Lynn, and people always thought she had a double first name. “Mary Lynn, what’s your last name?” “Um. Lynn.”

          2. Arjay*

            I’d leave “Mary Sue Doe” in the email signature with the other contact info, but add a complimentary close of “Regards, Mary Sue” to the email above it.

        3. Cog in the Machine*

          I have a not too common first name with a varient spelling and a very common last name. I’ve had to correct the spelling of my first name my entire life, including on emails where my name is on the email address. Truthfully, I’ve more or less given up, because it seems like some people do it deliberately. I do have to spell out my last name too, but that probably has more to do with me not enunciating enough on the phone.

    3. Batgirl*

      Put your preferred handle above your email signature in the same text as your email (use a font for the email sig).

      Hi Person.
      Blah blah blah.
      Thanks,
      Mary Sue.

      Mary Sue J. Doe
      Superhero
      Marvel.

      Also try referring to your name out loud a bit more just to give it an airing. If I were to see two names like that I’d probably err on the side of using one – but I’d be listening out for signposts.
      Something like “so he said to me ‘Mary Sue, I didn’t mean today’….”
      Or “I’m the best Mary Sue in the company and that’s not just because I’m the only Mary Sue in the company”

      You’re still going to get Mary, if not Mare or M without correcting them. People will shorten down to the nub until stopped.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I want to send an email today where the whole text is “blah blah blah.” Most emails I send feel like that’s all I’m saying anyway.

      2. Alianora*

        Good advice. I always look at someone’s email sign-offs to see what they prefer to be called.

        Piggybacking on this – if you haven’t already, set your email to display “Mary Sue” as your name. I’ve noticed that Outlook sometimes removes whatever it reads as the “middle name.”

      3. MoopySwarpet*

        I was going to suggest this. We have a client contact that works at a place where there is a very strict first name last name email structure and contact information. His email looked like this:

        From: Ethan Hawke (ethan.hawke@bigco.com)

        Hi Moopy,

        When the teapots prototypes are ready, please let me know so I can coordinate a time to pick them up.

        Best Regards,

        Sam

        Ethan Sam Hawke
        Teapot Runner
        Big Co Inc

        That one was probably the most confusing one I’ve seen, but I frequently get emails from “Samuel Nobody” signed “Sam” with the signature block including their formal name and information.

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

          This is what I’ve usually seen except that people often put their preferred name in quotes in the formal signature line.

          Ethan “Sam” Hawke

          If you want to be more memorable and your company allows it, you could be a little funny:
          Ethan “Call me Sam” Hawke
          or Ethan “Sam I Am” Hawke

          so for the OP
          blah blah blah
          Cordially,
          Mary Sue (rhymes with blue) Johnson

    4. Laure001*

      I would say something like, “Oh, no, Mary is the one in accounting – the one who is giving the conference right now – my boss who mailed you about xx – I am actually Mary Sue.” Obviously it works better if there is an actual Mary around.

    5. Katherine Vigneras*

      It may be helpful to enlist others in spreading the word, too. I had a very Southern boss with a double name and I would simply say, sweetly and as though I was telling them the secret to the universe, “oh, just so you know, it’s actually Sarah Ruth… one of those Southern double names.”

    6. Veronica Mars*

      Most people genuinely want to call you by the right name, and are likely stressed out not knowing what that is. Which leads to inevitably guessing wrong. For example, I often get super stressed over whether to call someone “Mike” or “Michael” and always default to Michael only to get a “Only my mom calls me that.”

      Anyway, the best root is to assume they have the best intentions but are potentially quite bad at names, and give a friendly and simple correction as often as needed until it sinks in. “Hey Mary, did you get the TPS Report?” “Oh, actually its Mary Sue, and yes, I did.”

      The trick is to keep a ‘smile’ in your voice so that you don’t come across as offended, because then they’ll feel bad, and you don’t really need or want their emotions, just for them to use the right name.

    7. College Career Counselor*

      I agree with the folks below who say correct them kindly and quickly in the moment “actually, I go by….” For more routine efforts, I can tell you about a colleague who had a double first name. She emphasized it by writing “MarySue” in her signature file and signing “MarySue” to signify that she should be addressed by both names. Did that lead to people emailing her as “MarySue” instead of “Mary Sue”? Yes, but it was worth it for her.

    8. Mainely Professional*

      Correcting people about your name should never feel awkward. Be confident and correct them. There many Nicholases who are not “Nick” and Katherines who are not “Kathy.”

      “My whole first name is ‘Mary Sue’ and that’s what I go by, not ‘Mary.'”
      “Actually, I go by ‘Mary Sue.’ It’s not for shortening.”

      Rinse, repeat, do not say “No big deal” when people apologize, or react apologetically yourself. Everyone has had the experience of being corrected about a new acquaintance’s name. “It’s ‘Christopher,’ actually.”

      You can/should count yourself lucky if your double barrel first name is as common or easy to explain as “Mary Sue.” I knew a woman named “Mary Bacon.” Southern naming conventions are real and do not just apply to boys.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had an elderly neighbor who used to use a common-but-not-his nickname for my husband “Albert”. I told her that if she needed help, she could call for “Albert” or “Al” — when he hears “Bert”, he tunes it out because they’re looking for his father.
      That doesn’t work in an interview, but it would be useful after you’re hired.
      Also, we have an almost common last name, but with a variant spelling/pronunciation. When my fatherinlaw was job-hunting, he changed his voicemail message to the common pronunciation. Why? “Because I want to be as easy as possible. If they hire me, then it’s worth teaching them how I say it.” (He had a relatively short job search too.)

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve got a name that can be shortened about 16 different ways, so I’ve had a version of this for most of my life as well. I’ve found that there’s really not one single way to correct someone without them feeling some kind of negative about it, so you can’t really make that your metric. The best thing is just to be matter of fact and vaguely cheerful about it. “Oh, it’s Peggy, not Meg,” with a small smile and a quick subject change tends to come off as more informative and less accusatory.

      Also, as a person from a southern family with multiple Aunt Marys, half of whom are double-barreled names, I send you all my sympathy!

    11. Shiny*

      I’m having a similar but different issue in my new job. I use a name that is a variation/nickname of my legal name everywhere, including my resume, when applying to jobs, etc. Both my boss and I flagged this for HR and IT before I started to try to get me an email, etc. with the right name. That didn’t happen. So now I’m having to correct people who are being incorrectly reinforced by my full legal name showing up in my email, when I edit documents, etc. It’s frustrating. My email will likely be changed, but not the display name, as HR can only use legal names. We work with people from all over the world, and for many of them my used name doesn’t naturally flow from my legal name, so I’m apparently looking at years of correcting people kindly.

    12. Senor Montoya*

      Please do not put a fake initial on your resume. It’s not going to match your other application materials, right?

      Please. Be accurate with all of your materials. Don’t make the search committee go, Whut?

    13. Aphrodite*

      I’d start using it, even though it’s two words, as one word: MarySue. That won’t help with verbal communications but it will get the word out. Of course, you’d go back to two words in any official documents like a passport, driver’s license, HR documentation, and so on.

    14. TiffanyAching*

      This is my exact situation — double name with a space and two capital letters — and if it’s a time when I actually care about them getting my name right, I usually use some variation of “Oh, actually I go by Mary Sue!” + quick pause, because many people apologize and I don’t want to be talking when they do, + “So, about that Work Topic…”

      If it’s not an interviewing situation, you can also sometimes deputize coworkers to help with this (or they’ll take it on themselves). My boss and one coworker in particular hate when I’m called “Mary” rather than “Mary Sue,” and will avidly correct anyone who gets it wrong, saving me the awkwardness.

      1. TiffanyAching*

        Another thought, and something that helps me get over the “well they got it partly right…” self-weirdness: Mary isn’t your name. Your name is Mary Sue. So if someone calls you Mary, they *are* using the completely wrong name. I think of it as if someone got my first name wrong but used the correct last name. If my name is Mary Sue Booth, and someone calls me Marie Booth, that’s just as wrong as if they called me Mary Sue Boat. Just some mental gymnastics that I personally use.

    15. NotAnotherManager!*

      My legal first name has a hyphen in it, and it doesn’t help. My name is also rather long, so people get lazy and only use the first one by default. Some people comment on my name (it’s unusual) or ask what I prefer to be called, but most people default to the first part only.

      Personally, I don’t feel that strongly about it (any more), and I’m at a point where so many people call me so many different things that my ears are attuned to whomever is talking to me. If my mom uses only the first part of my name, she’s talking to the relative after whom I’m named. If some random person uses only the second part of my name, I’d honestly not know they were talking to me.

      But, if I did feel strongly about it, I’d just cheerfully correct people. “Oh, actually, it’s Anne Jacinda.” and, if it’s someone I’m friendly with, I might give them the backstory that Anne is my favorite aunt and the Jacinda is how my family differentiates me from her.

    16. Triumphant Fox*

      My mother is a Mary Sue and we cannot imagine calling her Mary. It’s like I don’t even hear that as part of her name. She sometimes goes by the initials (like MS in this context…though that would be an odd one), but Mary is just…not her name. It’s fine to say, “Oh it’s actually Mary Sue, I don’t even realize people are talking to me when it’s just Mary,” if you’ve already mentioned it and it hasn’t clicked.

      It’s different if it’s a client or grand grand boss and you’ve tried and failed, but with colleagues there is really no excuse.

    17. Database Developer Dude*

      I don’t have any advice for you on how to get people to recognize your full first name, Mary Sue….

      I’m Jay David, and go by J.D., and people will still call me Jay. I had one individual who was actually offended that I asked that he call me J.D. I’m not sure how to respond to that.

      1. Kat in VA*

        My husband has the exact opposite issue. His name is Jay, and many people, upon being introduced, will then start referring to him as “Jason”.

        Jay is not that uncommon of a name…

    18. emmelemm*

      For what it’s worth, this is not unreasonable. My mother-in-law’s name is Mary Ellen and she gets annoyed if people write it Maryellen, which they frequently do. It’s OK to want your name to be YOUR name.

  17. exhausted to the core of my being*

    Mental health worker here trying to figure out how — or if I even should — propose significant changes to my job to my boss, request to review the state of things in a month, and then evaluate my fit for the position. I know it’s a terrible idea to “threaten to leave”, but I don’t know what else to do besides this or quit. Background on my job: I am the sole clinician for a large caseload of folks experiencing serious mental illness in a homeless shelter environment. I am supposed to have a supervisor with whom I share responsibilities, but have not had one for the last 5 months. I had a separate 1 month stint without a supervisor earlier in the year, too. Additionally, historically there was a third person on this team with the same title as me, but that position was eliminated before I started. The work environment is challenging — exposure to bed bugs and other pests, second hand smoke & illicit substances, sexual harassment, generally feeling unsafe and unsupported because I primarily work alone and have little clinical supervision. I am constantly behind in paperwork because 1. There is too much work to do for one person, 2. I am burnt out and have no PTO due to illness zapping it all up earlier in the year, and 3. Indefinitely working like this is hopeless and brings me to tears. I know the problems are institutional and not my fault — the work environment should be safer and they should pay better. At the same time, I feel like I just must not be trying hard enough & like I /can’t/ leave — the people I work with are resilient, but if I leave without a replacement, they will suffer. They’ve been looking to hire for months and have interviewed, but nobody wants to work here. The organization is well respected generally and other teams do not have this hard a time filling positions.

    I am considering presenting my boss with proposed changes to make my job more manageable — schedule, workflow, limiting how much driving and errands I am doing, one work from home day, etc. — and requesting to meet again in 4-6 weeks to assess the agreed upon changes and my fit for the role. I also am tempted to just announce my resignation affective in 4 weeks and call it. I am 90% sure this work cannot get better and for my health I must leave, but I want to give it a last honest shot. I also know that for the sake of having any chance at collecting unemployment I should document that I raised my concerns but they ultimately were not successfully addressed, giving me no option but to resign for my health and safety, right? Someo correct me if I’m wrong! I even started going to therapy to deal with the stress & how it’s worsened/regressed my PTSD recovery.

    My job is miserable. I rely on it for health insurance and care about the work, but I know I can’t go on like this either.

    Secondly — any one in social work/adjacent fields with recommendations for “easier” areas of work as far as work-life balance, low paperwork, and pay go? I don’t have an MSW.

    1. Late to the game*

      I worked as a home visitor for quite a while, and had the same issues. I’m curious- do you have another master’s level clinical degree (professional counselor? mental health masters?) because the idea you don’t have a clinical supervisor literally gives me chills. reflective supervision is important!

      I switched to education. It pays better.

      1. exhausted to the core of my being*

        I do not have a masters degree of any sort, no. I’m only 2 years out of undergrad but have 4 combined years as a domestic violence victims advocate and residential support in mental health settings (the state I’m in granted me Mental Health Professional, so I can bill Medicaid and do some assessments). I’m doing mainly case management — SSI, SNAP, getting people connected to integrated healthcare, housing, and not much counseling, but still! I’ve had a part in some really positive change & know I’m effective to the extent I can be, but the organization is being totally irresponsible. The only supervision I have with my boss is going over the schedule weekly and then getting lectured on how behind I am. There are “plans” for me to join a clinical supervision group, but it keeps being put on the back-burner. My boss inherited an absolute dumpster-fire of a department, neglected for years. He’s not a bad person or bad leader necessarily, but is even more stretched thin than I am.

        1. Stuck In A Crazy Job*

          That sounds like a nightmare. I have no advice- my boss is too busy to give me any supervision either and I’m counseling 11 kids blind ( or so I feel)

          1. exhausted to the core of my being*

            I am also sorry you are Stuck In A Crazy Job! solidarity! remember that we deserve better and shouldn’t suffer for organizations that don’t care about us. (let me putting demands/proposed changes in writing and presenting them this afternoon inspire you!)

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If you have case management experience, your local hospital might have some openings for patient navigation (at least that’s what mine calls it) – basically, a team of folks who help educate and otherwise connect patients to care services and other social services that they need.

          1. exhausted to the core of my being*

            OP here – thank you for this recommendation. I have heard that medical social work is a great area. However, most of the postings I see for it require MSW. I live in a large city, where it seems like you hit a ceiling without a masters quite quickly. I will still keep this in mind.

            1. Indy Dem*

              So another area too look at, if you have case management experience, is pharm/bio-tech companies. Many are hiring case managers to assist patients navigate insurance/doctors/charitable assistance. It’s definitely for-profit companies, but you are helping people. It’s often overlooked by people in your situation, but it would be a step up. Even better, most only require a college degree, not a masters (or any license). If you’ve worked on your population’s behalf with insurance issues, that would be a plus. Also, some positions are remote, so you don’t have to just look at positions at companies near you.

        3. Late to the game*

          Ugh, that sounds horrible.

          Is your Bachelor’s a BSW or do you have any one year clinical mental health counseling programs in your area?

          If you want to stay in human services and support yourself and be okay, you’ll likely need a master’s degree, unfortunately. Paraprofessional social work chews people up and spits them out. There’s a reason there’s so much turn over, part time positions, and an abundance of wealthy people in the profession- no one else can afford (physically, mentally, financially) to do it.

    2. Former DV Advocate*

      “I know the problems are institutional and not my fault — the work environment should be safer and they should pay better. At the same time, I feel like I just must not be trying hard enough & like I /can’t/ leave — the people I work with are resilient, but if I leave without a replacement, they will suffer. They’ve been looking to hire for months and have interviewed, but nobody wants to work here. The organization is well respected generally and other teams do not have this hard a time filling positions.”

      This is key and honestly, it sounds like you have had enough but feel like you need to stay out of duty and obligation to the folks you serve or to coworkers, but they will be fine. I know it doesn’t feel like it or sound like it, but they will be. I too had to leave a dumpster fire of an organization and I left due to staffing, low pay, poor support from leadership and after my life was threatened. My safety was put in jeopardy and the ED refused to exit the client and tried to fire me. I had to go above her head and she backed off. I finally quit after they hired advocates unsuitable for the job. One advocate even placed her client in danger by reaching out to her client’s abuser’s family about relocating to their area (!!!!). And yet, she was NOT fired. It was my wake up moment and I gave three weeks notice, but after having that very advocate become rude and refuse to pass along my calls, I had enough. I went to the ED and told her my last day would be the end of the week and laid out why. Because I advocated for myself my notice period was paid out as well as my vacation and honestly, they were afraid of what I would do if they mistreated me again.

      But sometimes, issues are so embedded that it is out of your control and you have to leave. So I say leave. If you think your boss will try to work with you in implementing these proposed changes go ahead. But it sounds like to me that you are trying to make this work to not feel like a quitter or that you left your clients out to dry. When I was an advocate I would tell myself that my clients survived before me and will survive after me. Maybe the org’s entire mental health department needs to go up in flames for change to be made. Maybe the org’s reputation needs to take a dent for the department to be able to be fully supported.

      I go back to what your wrote, “They’ve been looking to hire for months and have interviewed, but nobody wants to work here. The organization is well respected generally and other teams do not have this hard a time filling positions.” It seems like their reputation is already take a hit and potential hires see the writing on the wall and refuse to subject themselves to the “to bed bugs and other pests, second hand smoke & illicit substances, sexual harassment, generally feeling unsafe and unsupported.” And I get it. I do. I too stayed in my org with some really messed up issues, including a dirty workplace (like we had rats) and one of my former coworkers even put nails in my tires. Like I got so caught up in the mission, in serving my clients that I let a lot of fucked up things slide. I look back and honestly wondered if I had been brainwashed. But all of that is beyond you. Take care of yourself and your sanity because if you need to go to therapy to be able to cope and the job is taking a toll, it is not a good combination for anyone.

      As for me, I transitioned out. I had some tough conversations with myself of what I wanted to do next and realized that the social service field was not for me. I had zero desire to get my Master’s and actually made the move to return to school and get my science prereqs of out the way and apply to medical school in the future. I used my experience to get other jobs in other fields by playing up my communication skills, case management experience and honestly, just applying to anything that sounded interesting. It worked, but I had to learn how to tailor my experience and relearn how to interview. Hiring folks really didn’t want to hear about the extreme cases, so I learn to cherry pick my feel good, but low key cases. If you think you can get unemployment go ahead or maybe use the time to go out and interview and apply for jobs. I gave it my all as an advocate, but I accepted that I couldn’t do it all and instead, focused on what I could do. If I got behind, oh well I got behind and it wasn’t because I was lazy, but because the org created an environment that made it possible.

      I used my time to do the best I could and apply to jobs and honestly, I put my foot down. I refused to subject myself to mistreatment from clients and let my leadership know why. I would hang up on the yellers and screamers, I would exit and fire my clients that put my safety at risk and even though it made the ED feel a certain type of way, she knew I had zero issues going above her head again. I don’t want to go into too much detail because it would id me. However, I would look at your proposed changes and implement some safety changes as well. Spell out what you won’t tolerate and if any of your clients are putting you at risk or have sexually harassed you then they have to go. People who want help will behave. They will. Folks that are vulnerable do not get a multiple free passes on misbehavior because they are vulnerable. I promise you that any adjacent orgs that work with them also have either refused them services for the sexual harassment or they keep it together because they know their actions will have consequences. We don’t have to put with it because they are vulnerable and don’t know any better. They do. I wish you the best and I hope that you are able to either move on to a better org in this field or transition out. You have given it your all and you deserve to be well compensated and supported.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Brainwashed is a good description. A person can get so immersed in the abnormal that they forget what normal work places look like.

        OP, if your boss was going to rescue your situation the boss would have done it by now. Something is fishy about no one wanting to work there yet this is a good organization. There is either a problem with your branch of the org or there is a bigger issue.

        And your boss is cracking that whip, the boss knows it takes at least three people to do this job and they are telling you how far behind you are? How is this boss able to sleep at night?

        You can say you want to go on record as reporting safety issues. And talk about the things you describe here. The key phrase is “I want to go on record….”. I have found that this phrase makes bosses sit up straight in their chairs and don some professionalism.

        I do have one last card up my sleeve to suggest. Pull out the abuse card. Inadequate coverage can be construed as neglectful abuse. This is not a card to pull out if you are not prepared to walk out the door TODAY. You can say “This is a three person job and we have been down to two people for too long plus you have your own boss type work to do also. We have a crisis here. I am afraid we could be charged with neglect.” Perhaps the national/regional office can send in some temps to get your caught up. Perhaps you guys can hire temps at a lower rate.

        Personally, I think you should leave ASAP.

    3. Former DV Advocate*

      Forgot to mention, I would recommend Idealist.org and Work for Good to find any jobs in adjacent fields. I have had good luck on Work for Good (I got offers) and have interviewed for remote jobs on Idealist (been a finalist, but no offers). With my experience I also interviewed for trainer positions as well, so I don’t know if that it something you would be interested in. I also applied and was the top candidate for my state’s funding government agency (the folks that gave out the grant money to the DV programs), but withdrew because I was going to move out of state (I didn’t move at the last moment however). Your background is an asset, and even though I had limited experience, adjacent fields and orgs could tell from my interview that I cared about serving people and at the end of the day, you can’t manufacture caring. Not really.

      I also applied to other office jobs like working in a real estate office and the like and it was all because I would parlay my experience with their position. It wasn’t advocacy, but I could demonstrate I was creative (try finding resources for non-English speakers in a rural area), followed protocol and be detailed-oriented (I had to learn how to do protection orders across multiple counties, each had their own special way of doing things) and manage a case load and client expectations. So yeah, your background is an asset.

    4. Koala dreams*

      If you choose to stay and not immediately resign, I suggest you bring up the “too much work for one person” aspect in the weekly meetings with your boss, and ask which tasks have the highest priority for the coming week. If your boss says “all of them”, you repeat that it won’t be possible and tell them that you are going to do A, B and C first, and the rest if you unexpectedly have time over. And then you do only a reasonable amount of work, go home in time and spend your free time on personal things.

      As for the bad conscience, you are taking on too much responsibility for your employer’s shortcomings. It’s the employer’s duty to arrange a healthy work environment and do the hiring. You have no duty to sacrifice your health.

      1. exhausted to the core of my being*

        Thank you for these suggestions and the important reminders of taking care of yourself. I think part of the issue is that I tend to be overly optimistic about what I’m capable of and how long it takes to complete tasks + I’m a people-pleaser. It’s a terrible combination! I wish I had a supervisor who would help me manage my workload and assess what is reasonable. I just wrote a letter detailing what is doable and what I need to do my job, which I think is just as helpful for me in keeping myself accountable to not overdoing it.

    5. Sondra Uppenhowzer*

      If you are truly miserable and know you can’t go on like this then what are your options?

      1. Propose significant changes to your job to your boss, request to review the state of things in a month, and then evaluate your fit for the position.
      2. Take no action.

      Ultimately, work is the agreement to provide services for pay. Your employer should carry the burden of hiring enough staff, make arrangements to cover the open positions, provide you with a safe working environment, pay a fair wage.
      I’m not sure why you wouldn’t do the first option. You need to stop ‘owning’ your job. You can only own your performance.

      In general, many people don’t want to have what they feel to be ‘awkward’ conversations (pay raise, request flexible schedules, etc.) with their supervisors, and instead put up with the situation until it becomes unbearable. But you are not making the situation bad, you are reporting on the circumstances, and asking your employer do to their duty. And thinking that there is nothing the employer can do to fix this — not true. They could step up their hiring, they could hire short term to fill gaps, they could ask people in other depts to provide some coverage, they could increase the offering salary, give signing bonus, etc. etc.

      And now is the time for you to ask for MORE MONEY. A larger salary, a BONUS for doing the extra work (this does not mean the extra work becomes your regular responsibility). You’ve stepped up in these trying times — now it is your company’s turn to step up and acknowledge it. Even if you plan on leaving, ask for the extra money. You’ve earned it.

      1. exhausted to the core of my being*

        Thanks for this response — I really appreciate it. I should have specified in my first comment that I have done a lot “this isn’t working. I am overwhelmed. I need extra time to catch up.” talks with my boss and he’s been more flexible with me than is normal given these circumstances, so this isn’t a first talk. If I were in a typical team at this organization, I would have been given multiple corrective actions for being so behind. So, the “You need to stop ‘owning’ your job. You can only own your performance.” feels tricky. I know rationally that I wouldn’t be so behind if my job was more supportive, but being so behind makes me feel like my performance isn’t good enough to demand more. Again, rationally I know I’m being too hard on myself. Why I asked this question was I think 1. to get validation that I’m justified to be overwhelmed, 2. to understand if it’s weird to write a letter that lays out requests that has the implication “if this doesn’t happen I will need to resign”.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Don’t talk about resignation. You will just paint yourself into a corner and it doesn’t really look professional. Additionally, you will always wonder, “Do I have to threaten to resign every time a substantial issue comes up?”

          1. Begin the begine*

            LW is not saying the conversation is an ultimatum to the company of “do this or I’ am gone” as a negotiating ploy.
            This situation has become untenable, to the point that LW fears burning out and wants to resign. LW has a right to ask the employer to address the issues that make this job unbearable, and is acknowledging the difficulty of having this conversation because a lackizak of action on the company’s part will result in LW’s resignations. Not a threat, but a result.

        2. Begin the begine*

          So it sounds like the end result is actually the same, regardless of whether you take option 1 or 2. Option 1 means you tell them what you need them to address to allow
          you to keep working there or you resign; Option 2 (say nothing) you don’t tell them, burn out and need to resign.

          The outcomes are 1. They make the changes needed to keep you / or you resign. 2. You silently burn out until You resign.

          Option 2 seems sucky because you burn out first. Sure with option 1 there is still the chance they won’t make the changes (or even the changes aren’t enough) and you resign — but at least this way you will have done your best, and you resign without burning out.

        3. Sondra uppenhowzer*

          If you were a typical team at this organization, you would have a supervisor to share responsibilities with, and additional team members to handle the workload. On a typical team that doesn’t have staffing issues, you with would probably have pt left, and have no doubt about your performancc.

    6. Middle Manager*

      I certainly depends on your state and what you’d be qualified for, but in my state, it sounds like you’d be qualified to be a caseworker for welfare (medicaid, SNAP, TANF). That is a high stress job as well, but the environment is not as chaotic as yours sounds and you’d definitely have supervision.

      1. exhausted to the core of my being*

        Thanks for the suggestion! I am pretty sure I’d be qualified, but I don’t think I’d do well with such a rigid structure. I’ll still keep it in the list of considerations.

    7. Ezri Dax*

      As someone who works in crisis intervention, one helpful thing for me has been to remember that to be truly helpful to others, you have to take care of yourself first. You’ll help no one if you burn out trying to help everyone! Setting boundaries and making time for self care isn’t optional; its vital to making sure you’re serving your clients to the best of your ability. If your job is set up in a way that doesn’t allow you to do that, you may not be helping clients as much as you think. Which is to say, push back of you feel safe doing so and don’t hesitate to leave if nothing changes. Your impact t will be much greater in a role where you feel able to bring your whole self to the work.

    8. Belle of the Midwest*

      It won’t help much with the paperwork end (there’s a form for everything), but higher ed/student affairs might be a possibility. I transitioned from the mental health field to a TRIO program as an outreach counselor, then took an academic advising position and now work as a career counselor for first-and-second-year students. I love what I do. My master’s degree is in counseling.

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “You need to stop ‘owning’ your job. You can only own your performance.” is a great comment here in this thread.

      I’ve been in your shoes. And when I finally quit, it took 9 months before I was able to actually function enough to find work … not in the field. With no unemployment.

      So… set boundaries on what you can and can’t do. Make them clear to your employer. Put them in writing. Either they will respond or they won’t. If they decide to fire you, you apply for Unemployment Insurance and if they fight it, you show that the job duties had changed significantly (either by volume or scope) and that you were no longer doing the job you signed up for.

      I have a MS in Counseling, and have a job with the Dept of Labor and love it. Helping people who need a hand up and out of bad situations, but no matter how busy it is, I still go home and don’t have to be responsible for my customers’ individual safety and all that.

    10. vlookup*

      I work in the nonprofit sector, and even though I’m not saving lives or working directly with the population my org serves, I care deeply about our mission and the work we do, and it creates a ton of guilt. I think this is pretty common in mission-driven work: that you feel like a bad person for not being willing to put up with being underpaid, overworked, and generally put through the ringer for the sake of the cause.

      I’ve found it helpful to reframe my thinking like this: I care about the work I do and want to be able to keep doing it for the rest of my career, but I won’t be able to if I get totally burnt out or I don’t make enough money to support my future family. It’s been easier for me to negotiate for a higher salary or a less crushing workload or whatever when I think of it as what I need to make my job sustainable. I also moved into a different type of role within the same sector, because I hated being in a forward-facing job and I’m better at the kind of work I do now (and, again, it’s more sustainable for me).

      So, I think you should threaten to quit if you want, or go ahead and make an exit plan if you don’t think the situation can improve to a point where you don’t feel like you feel now. Above all, do what you can to take care of yourself, and try to let go of the guilt about not being able to do it all when you’ve been put in an impossible situation.

    11. Boozhoo*

      Try looking into case management or related jobs at permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects. I’ve never been a case manager but my perception is that serving people who are out of the immediate stress and crisis of homelessness is a little to a lot less draining. Depending on the population you can also focus more on things like building community among the residents, social skills, cultural activities, etc. Being able to bill Medicaide is a big plus for you.

      Related, you could also look into working with PSH developers. They are often looking for people who have a strong service background who can help develop and implement service plans.

      Being at a shelter you probably know about all the local housing resources, but if not, your local CoC coordinator would know what PSH projects are in your area (google “HUD Continuum of Care”). As would your state’s housing finance agency. And probably your boss or their boss. Good luck.

  18. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    In actual work news, my company holiday party included a drunk podcast recommendation (reiterated sober in email the next day—she’d forgotten she’d mentioned it at the party, because she was drunk), an assumption that my kippah means I’m studying to be a rabbi (you should have seen my face), many pronoun errors, a complaint that nonbinary pronouns are inconvenient (my face was nearly melting off at this point), and someone asking whether my partner of 18 years and I were still together and then telling me to write a memoir because being queer and happy is so novel and unusual. I go to these parties because I don’t often get to chat with the higher-ups, but the higher-ups are also the gray-hairs, and I am rapidly running out of how many times I bite back “ok boomer” before one slips out.

    It also included a brief, non-gropey drunk hug and some really nice conversations about books, movies, and museums… all with people under 50. Humanity has hope, still, I suppose.

    1. Not Australian*

      “being queer and happy is so novel and unusual”

      OMFG, I think my brain just broke. Like all/most relationships, the time we tend to hear about these things is either at landmarks or if something goes wrong; there are a hell of a lot of low-profile happy queer relationships in the world, just as there are low-profile happy straight (and multi and indeed any variation you can think of) relationships. Someone seems to have imbibed some seriously outdated stereotyping here.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is why I hate that so many movie and TV storylines with queer characters tend to be so angsty.

        1. Fikly*

          Well, they have to be angsty, because we can’t show a queer character living well, now can we? That would make it look like being queer is a good thing!

    2. Wired Wolf*

      “nonbinary pronouns are inconvenient”…this about sums up my mom’s feelings on the issue. You should have seen her reaction when my state decided to allow an “X” gender option on ID cards/licenses. I’ve been called “sir” so many times–even when my hair is long and needs to be cut–that it doesn’t bother me and for some reason that bothers her.

      A local store has added pronoun pins to their selection and a friend got me one “They/Them”. Another friend with us promptly declared that she didn’t understand nonbinary–literally does not know what the word means. There are a lot of things she doesn’t know and we’re waiting for her to offend the wrong person…

    3. fposte*

      I was thinking that the podcast business wasn’t a big deal and then I realized it was just the opening salvo. Yikes.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Oh, I forgot to mention that when I said I don’t listen to podcasts because I have auditory processing difficulties, I got “What’s thaaaaat?” and was expected to explain it in detail. And then I got the podcast rec again in email the next day.

    4. djekchwf*

      Your party sounds terrible, I’m sorry. It sounds like you had trouble getting some folks to see you as an individual.

      I did cringe at your kinda labeling your execs or whoever as “gray-hairs” & boomers. As someone who is not quite a boomer, but works almost exclusively with 20 & 30 somethings, I get the “Wow, you picked that up really quickly.” comments. Assumptions based on age aren’t cool either.

      1. Fikly*

        I don’t think it’s an assumption if they are saying offensive things that are making her want to say “ok boomer” in response.

      2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        I’m in my 40s and have plenty of gray hairs myself. I know there are lots of clueless younger people and clueful older people. But the divide between “people younger than me who I can have reasonable conversations with” and “people older than me who I want to run and hide from” was pretty stark at this particular event.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I sympathize with you in spades. And I thank you for biting back “OK Boomer”. I am over 50. I am not a boomer. I’m Gen X baby bust all the way.
      Yes I know boomer-era TV shows, music, and pop icons — but that’s because it was unavoidable when we were growing up behind the surge. Especially when my friends & I all had much-older siblings.
      I’ve known since kindergarten that following the boomers would make my life weird — the town closed 2 elementary schools the year before I started, and put two rental trailers into the parking lot for kindergarten. (Such the upper middle class experience…)
      Unfortunately there is work to be done with plenty of post-boomers. My LBGTQ friends have told me similar horror stories with co-workers much younger than yours. So…. that sucks. :( It just means we need to find a clever way to snark on behavior, and leave age out of it.

      1. Kat in VA*

        A humorous aside on the “OK, Boomer” trend (which is already passé, lol).

        I’m a Gen Xer, squarely so. My teenage daughters thought it would be hilarious to sling “OK, Boomer” in my direction.

        Both of them got an, “Sure thing, Edgelord” right back and they quit. Immediately.

        My children forget I was around for the birth of the internet to the common population, and I have forgotten more memes and internet pop culture than they’ve learned up to this point. I also find it interesting that they simultaneously think I know everything* yet are always asking, “Hey, Mom, did you hear about /current internet thing/ on the web?” and then act surprised when I say yes.

        * True story – one of my daughters asked me if I knew what “suka” meant. I absentmindedly replied, “It means ‘bitch’ in Russian…wait, who called you that?!?!?” and we went on with our discussion. Later, I wasn’t sure if it was funnier that she automatically assumed that I knew what it meant…or that I actually DID know what it meant. :P

    6. Anonnnnn*

      “nonbinary pronouns are inconvenient”

      Erasure is also inconvenient.

      Also, it’s the same amount of syllables…

  19. Late to the game*

    folks, i need to finish my M.S so I can get a better job. I’m babysitting and teaching English online right now, after running out of funding from my M.S (I dropped out of the PhD portion so had one term to finish up). The thing is…I just don’t work on it. I need to finish it so I can get a better job with better pay, but meh. I’m just so uninterested and unmotivated. I decided not to be an academic but I don’t know what I WANT to be and I feel like I can’t move forward until I finish this degree.

    1. Mary Connell*

      You can do it! Being done gives you more options! If you give us updates here we can cheer your progress.

      What’s your final step? Coursework or thesis or something else?

      1. DoomCarrot*

        As a fellow academic – could it be that your lack of motivation is actually fear of the unknown/the realisation that once you finish, you will have to make some decisions?

        So don’t put off finding a job/career path that interests you “until you finish”, because that sounds like a delaying tactic for something uncomfortable. Instead, put in a little hard work now, find something you could be enthusiastic about, and then give yourself the pursuit of it as a reward for finishing your Master’s – which you’ll then be motivated to do!

        1. Reba*

          Agree with all of this. There is some interesting research about procrastination and the way it appears with anxiety.

          Work on the thesis for 10 minutes a day, then 20, etc… get up to about an hour a day and you’ll be done before too long.

          I know that it’s difficult to keep working on something without a firm deadline, that you likely have very complicated feelings about! BTDT. But you can do it.

    2. new kid*

      I think you may have that backwards, at least from my experience. I’ve always felt grad school is different from undergrad in that you should always go to grad with a plan already in place (whereas undergrad it’s much more common to figure it out as you go). So I think maybe you’re struggling to find motivation because of the big question mark that follows. Can you take some time to try to figure out what direction you want to go next? What Color Is Your Parachute or similar books may be helpful if you don’t know where to start. I have a sneaking suspicion that once you have an answer to that question it’ll be much easier to find the motivation to finish the degree. Good luck!!

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve known multiple people who got better jobs with a masters in progress on their resume. There’s no reason to wait until you’re done, unless that’s not actually what’s holding you back. Other posters have provided good advice on that.

      As a practical matter in completing your final paper: set aside some time to work on it each day. What worked for me was 15 minutes a day. Some days, I would be inspired and work for longer, other days, I put in my 15 minutes and was done for the day. I counted staring at a computer screen “working,” but I usually was able to get something done after a few minutes. (I was halfway through my capstone and went through a period of “I’m going to drop out. I don’t care. I’m a failure anyway. I hate this topic. I’m terrible writer and this is boring and stupid.”) I finally did finish, but I still dream about grad school and wake up in a cold sweat that I never turned my capstone in.

      That said, you don’t have to finish unless or until you want to. Sometimes taking a break is the best thing to do.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If I had one thing to do over in life again, I would take this decision a whole lot less seriously. Does this stuff feel like a one ton suitcase on your back? Decide to set the suitcase down.

      Time to shift gears. What are you good at? What can you do for say the next 5 years that won’t cause you to run away from your home and your country? Pick something you are naturally good at so you have a reasonable reassurance that you will stay employed.

      Here’s the part I want to share: Once we see we are going TOWARD something/anything, it becomes easier to complete what is in front of us. It only makes sense that you don’t want to complete your degree because you probably don’t see it as leading you to anything.

      If 5 years seems like an inconceivably long time, the lower the time frame to 3 years. What do you think you can do for the next three years successfully?

      If you have a hard time naming things you are good at, ask trusted people (not jerks) in your life to help you with adding in their observations about you.

    5. CM*

      I think you should talk to your supervisor about how you’re struggling and try to get advice for what you can do to wrap things up in a way that will allow you to pass and graduate.

      If your supervisor sucks and doesn’t want to help you figure it out, my generic advice is to start by doing a really half-assed job of whatever you have left to do (thesis, coursework, whatever) on the basis that that’s better than a no-assed job, and then see how you feel. There’s a chance you’ll start feeling motivated to work on stuff more once you get the ball rolling. Or maybe you won’t, and you’ll hand in a half-assed thesis. But you have a better chance of graduating with a half-assed thesis than no thesis at all.

  20. 867-5309*

    I have three open positions and have noticed a strange trend… I email candidates suggested time frames and ask them to pick what works for them, and then they reply with a calendar invite for the time they want. I then have to write back and ask them to cancel it, because there is a specific dial-in we are going to use. Is this a new thing?

    Also, I’m getting asked at the end of interviews, “Do you have any feedback for me?” It’s so uncomfortable.

    1. TechWorker*

      Are these internal or external candidates? I can see internal candidates being like ‘this is just how I book my time’ but I do agree it’s weird because you’d expect the interviewer to ‘own’ the meeting. (It also seems impractical if you have multiple people to schedule in). Can you maybe change the wording to make this clearer? ‘Please let me know which times are convenient and I’ll send an invite out with interview details’. Other option is just to schedule and ask them to let you know if it needs moving.

      1. 867-5309*

        They’re external and I do include a line at the end that says, “Let me know what time works for you and I’ll send a calendar invite.”

        It feels like another one of those “gumption” things. :)

        1. valentine*

          I’ll send a calendar invite.
          They may think they’re being polite by sparing you this bit. Maybe add “with the dial-in and other instructions.”

          1. CM*

            +1

            They think they’re saving everyone a redundant step, but letting them know there’s another email coming no matter what should stop it.

        2. Llellayena*

          Separate the sentences: Please let me know which time works for you. Once you’ve indicated a time I will send a calendar invite with the call in information.

          When people read quickly, the “I” tends to get lost because it’s short. Separate sentences means the brain stops to think. (This coming from someone who could write a one sentence, half page paragraph…)

        3. Rubyrose*

          It might not be gumption. They might be showing you that their reading and comprehension skills are lacking. Depending on how many otherwise qualified candidates you receive and how important reading skills are to the position, you might use this as a way of screening people out.

          1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

            Eh, people glaze over details sometimes. I agree that there are a very, very small number of roles where that could be a factor (say, if you’re hiring an editor that will have a 100% perfection standard) but overall this feels like a recipe for rejecting people who could be really great at the job!

      1. 867-5309*

        This comment on that post is great: That’s what I don’t like about the question really – it sounds like a challenge: either come up with a reason why I’m not good enough, or I should I expect an offer tomorrow, right?!

        1. QCI*

          I guess it could be worded different. Think of more like “is there anything you want more info or clarification about”. Or maybe they hope that if you have reservations about them you could discuss it.

          I get why they ask. After tons of interviews and never hearing back you start to wonder what you’re doing wrong, and who better to ask than the interviewer?

          1. College Career Counselor*

            That’s how it should be worded. Otherwise, “Do you have any feedback for me” sounds like asking to be graded on your interview performance. It’s an odd note for the interviewer to hear.

          2. coloring outside the lines*

            I’m sympathetic, but we regularly have application pools of 100+. If you made it to the phone interview, you’re one of our top choices. Being asked to identify concerns with your application on the spot is really awkward because if I had serious concerns, you wouldn’t be getting a phone interview.

            1. Combinatorialist*

              This is why I like the (recommended by Alison) wording “Do you have any concerns that I can address”. The second part makes it easy to say no — you aren’t saying you have no concerns, just that you don’t need any more information.

        2. Natalie*

          I wouldn’t read much into it. It’s an incredibly common bit of advice for people interviewing, most of them aren’t thinking about it that much. Nor does it mean you have to respond if you already sent them a rejection if there’s just too many people asking.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I feel like the end of the interview is the wrong time to ask for feedback. A lot of the time, I can’t really articulate my feelings about an interview until I’ve had some time to reflect on it and talk over it with the rest of my interview panel. Being asked for feedback in the moment would definitely feel like I’m being put on the spot.

        The time to ask for feedback is when you’re contacted after the interview. At that point, the interviewer has had some time for reflection and is probably much better able to tell you what you did well and what you can do better.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          I’ve responded to the feedback question by reiterating the timeline: We’ll be reviewing candidates over the next few weeks and will get back in touch with you to set up the second-round interview/confirm your reference list/whatever is the next step if we make that decision/decide to move you to the next step. [pause, cock head to one side quizzically] Was there something specific we could answer for you?

        2. 867-5309*

          This.

          I think the time to ask for feedback is if you’ve been rejected. If I’m moving you forward in the process, then obviously you did well enough.

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Yeah, and honestly I’m not even clear on why it needs to be declined, even? Just send your own invitation (and let them cancel theirs if they want), or add the call-in details to their invite (depends on their default settings, but almost all of my gcal invites default to “guests can edit details”) or just email them the call-in info and let them add it or not to their own invite. It’s interesting that it happens enough to be a trend for OP to notice, but yeah, I don’t think it really needs to be “handled” in any particular way, or great pains taken to avoid it! Folks just like having stuff on their calendars.

    2. MoopySwarpet*

      Are they also emailing you back or just the calendar invite? If they are also emailing you, it might be just a function of the calendar sending out the notification when they set up the event in their own calendar. Not that that makes it much better since it’s not that hard to not send the invite automatically, but less weird than gumption or lack of reading comprehension.

      This wouldn’t be a deal breaker, but I’d be on guard for other signs of oddness. In the meantime, I’d just ignore theirs and send my own.

      1. 867-5309*

        It’s not been a deal-breaker – just surprising. :) It would never occur to me to send a calendar invite to someone hiring. I assume they will take the lead on that.

    3. Stornry*

      My initial emails to candidates generally says something like “we’re holding interviews on X date(s), please call our office at xxx-xxxx to schedule an interview”. That seems pretty clear. Occasionally, I’ll get someone who will email instead of call but I just figure they may have difficulty calling us during business hours.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It sounds like mere mention of a calendar invite, causes… uh.. calendar invites. Stop mentioning them and see how things change?

        In regard to asking if you have any feedback, why not just redirect with something like, “It’s too early in the process for me to have formed any opinion OR I have to check in with the hiring team or manager.” Or you could just say, “No, I don’t at this time.”

        1. Kat in VA*

          Maybe just the phrase, “Please email me back with a few dates/times that you are available” and take out the term “calendar invite” altogether, in case that’s what they’re sticking on.

  21. Lorac*

    Anyone have tips for dealing with typos? I have a habit of rephrasing my sentences as I’m typing, resulting in a lot of silly/odd looking sentences. Just yesterday I sent this out:

    “Also, it looks like the API section seems incomplete and is missing endpoints, but that should be another ticket.”

    I guess I was originally going to say “Also, it looks like the API section is complete” but as I was typing, I changed my mind and wanted to go with “Also, the API seems incomplete” and just didn’t go back and delete the earlier half.

    Spellcheck doesn’t catch these things, and proofreading never works since I always see what I expect. At the end of they day it’s not *too* terrible, but since I make a lot of these mistakes regularly and it really bugs me professionally. Anyone have any secret tips to deal with these?

    1. Lorac*

      And of course I did the same thing again in this comment…rephrased a sentence mid-way and didn’t catch it again…

      Should be “but I make a lot of these mistakes regularly and it really bugs me professionally.”

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        I think you have two options:

        1) Break the habit of rephrasing as you go.

        2) Do two passes, either outline-then-write or write-then-edit.

        Two passes for every email (and blog comment) sounds tiring but so does breaking a habit, so go with whatever seems more plausible for you.

        A technical solution that may help: if you use Gmail, enable the feature that waits a few seconds between when you click “send” and actually sending the email, so you can quickly reread your email after sending and then cancel it/call it back if you spot an error you want to fix. I make embarrassingly frequent use of this tool.

        1. Lorac*

          Oh yeah, that Gmail feature saved me a ton. My old company used Gmail and I made judicious use of it. Unfortunately my current place is Outlook and I did try to look for a delay send extension, but ended up with emails stuck in my outgoing box.

          Both options are so tough…I guess I need to really clamp down on that habit or have a better way of following through and making sure I reword the whole sentence. It’s definitely not possible for me to outline everything I ever write.

          1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            If you want to try to break the habit, look into Acceptance Commitment Therapy techniques, which are sort of Eastern mindfulness filtered through Western psychotherapy. You accept that you do this thing, you commit to being someone who doesn’t do the thing, and then you practice being mindful of yourself doing the thing and catching it sooner and sooner as you work toward being the better version of you that you envision. I think it was developed for smoking cessation but it can be applied to any habit. You can be quite self-directed with it, but IME it’s best done with the support of a therapist or other person/people who can help you get back into that calm mindful space when you slip into being mad at yourself or impatient or overly confident.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Try drafting emails without anyone in the “TO” field. For a multi-person reply, copy them all into the top of the email message body. That’s what I do for replies where I don’t want my emotions to show through. I reread the text in entirety before I put names back in the TO field.
            Maybe it would help you too.

          3. Globiculator*

            I learned the Outlook delay version after a particularly embarrassing email went to the wrong person with a similar email name. Now I have a copy of what I send automatically deposited in my inbox (as a reminder/flag of sorts) and set up a “delay rule” in options that delays my email for 3 minutes.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        Review your email before you send it.

        If you think you’ll miss errors on a quick re-read, leave it as a draft and come back to it a little later.

      3. Senor Montoya*

        The other thing (see, I should have waited to post!) is that your readers are probably not even noticing the errors, if they’re this minor. I actually had to stop and reread your error sentence because I didn’t notice anything amiss on the first reading.

    2. Sara(h)*

      Along with the gmail delay, which is useful, you can create a delay in Outlook. You add rule and can set the delay for however long you want. I have mine set for 2 minutes, which sometimes seem a bit long when I’m I want to go through quickly, but it has saved me so many times — not just for content, but for when I cc’d someone accidentally, or almost sent the email to Susan Smith instead of Susan Simon, etc.
      I also created a workaround by making the exception to the delay rule, so that when I mark an email as “important” (i.e. the red exclamation point), it goes through immediately.
      Aside from those checks and balances, I also think the mistakes you’re talking about are super minor if it’s just routine correspondence with colleagues. Your message still comes across clearly. When I’m reading an email quickly for content, I don’t even always notice these types of errors in other people’s emails, and when I do, I don’t think twice of it. As long as I understand the point, it’s not something that matters to me.

      1. Sara(h)*

        Case in point — the first paragraph of my comment, 2nd & 3rd sentence, should read, “You add a rule and can set the delay for however long you want. I have mine set for 2 minutes, which sometimes seem a bit long when I want a message to go through quickly…”
        (I didn’t proofread the comment at all before submitting, whereas I do proofread every email I send, at least quickly. But still, I think little to nothing was lost in terms of the content.)

    3. Eng*

      I have the same problem. One thing I sometimes do is if I want to add something to the middle of a sentence, I put a few line breaks where I’m going to add it so there’s lots of visual separation, and then I have to manually figure out how to fit the rest back instead of assuming it’ll work and ending up with the kind of awkward phrases you mention. Not foolproof but another thing to try maybe.

    4. Liane*

      1)I don’t use it, but many people swear by reading their work from End to Beginning.
      2)Myself, I prefer to change formatting (bold it, increase size or change font, etc.) to something different for proofreading, then changing it back when I am done. This also can solve the Big Problem with self-proofreading–you are so familiar with what you intended to write that your brain can’t pick up errors.
      3)The more time between writing it and proofreading, the better. Even just something quick like going to grab a drink or stretch helps.

    5. LQ*

      Writing emails in a different tool can help too especially if that tool has more robust checking. I have prowrite aid and grammarly that I’ve used when trying to knock down sloppiness in my writing.

    6. Bring Hawkeye to the Details*

      Write your email in word, change the font and color, and re-read it. The new look tricks your brain into seeing what’s actually there instead of what you expect. Or proofread it backwards.

      This will also train your brain to slow down, and maybe you won’t need the tricks eventually.

    7. BRR*

      I don’t know about gmail but all programs in newer versions of office contain a read out loud feature under the review tab.

    8. WineNot*

      I use Grammarly! I am not sure if it will catch exactly that, but it catches typos, unnecessary/incorrect punctuation, extra words, and will let you know if something doesn’t make sense. You can download it on your desktop and use it for email, etc.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re-read everything “outloud”. Move your mouth. Don’t need to make actual noise, but if it’s only inside your head you’ll only see what you’re expecting to see.

    10. Hannah Banana*

      I make small errors like that in presentations. What helps me is taking a step back, leaving it be for a few hours (or even an hour) then coming back and reading through it again with a fresh perspective.

      Another thing that helps is reading it out-loud.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        If it’s a tiny error and it’s not getting in the way of your readers’ / listeners’ comprehension and/or it doesn’t make you look careless/foolish/unprofessional, I just would not worry about it.

        Unless it’s a big error, don’t correct it at the time, especially not if you’re going to be flustered while correcting. That just makes you look bad.

        1. Hannah Banana*

          I meant that I read it out-loud to myself, not that I catch the errors while I am giving the presentation.

    11. Admin of Sys*

      Reading outloud helps as other folks have mentioned, but if you’re in an environment that doesn’t work for, you can also read it backwards. Start from the last sentence and read back up the paragraph. You can catch weirdness as you’re forced to rearrange things back into the proper order.

    12. LilySparrow*

      Do your last proofread backwards.

      You will have to rebuild each sentence in your mind, which doesn’t allow you to skim over.

      Also, make a rule for yourself that if you revise as you go, you have to backspace from the end and retype the desired version from scratch – no cut n paste or jumping around.

      Also, FWIW, the examples you used really aren’t that bad. They still make sense. I’ve seen some real word salad made that way, yours aren’t even close.

  22. Joules*

    So I feel as if I’m failing in a mid-career industry switch – does anyone have insights or suggestions on how they turned their career around when all things point south?

    I switched out of heavily technical consulting into corporate finance because I’ve been interested in direct investment for 15 years – since a master’s degree in a physical science. No one took me seriously in finance until I finished my MBA. However, with this career change I’m crawling out of my skin; after three years of glowing reviews I am being laid off due to the lack of work. I’ve been looking for a new firm in the same industry for a year and getting feedback that I’m not qualified due to the paucity of a demonstrable track record in investments (note I have no influence in the success of my managers’ negotiations). I’m getting feedback to try working with startups since I work with early-stage companies, but I’ve been burned by founders pulling offers and contracts multiple times before and would consider this only as a last resort.

    I’m feeling lost as to how to decipher what I’m actually good at versus what I want to do while making sure it pays enough to cover student loans. I’m in a rather urgent position to figure this out as I just learned my missing / late paychecks are symptomatic of prior episodes of poor cash management, and that my manager plans to fight unemployment claims.

    1. megan*

      You may want to try to search for open positions that would be a more lateral move for you, instead of a purely upward move. As a former management consultant, hearing that they’re looking for demonstrable success in a portfolio makes me think they’re looking for someone with a work background at the level of your manager at your old job.

      What are your specific skills? When you’re searching for a position, try searching for whatever skills you have (for example, in my case, it would be fluency in the Python programming language or the R statistical analysis software) as a kind of keyword search. Finance and investing are notorious industries for ambiguous job titles, so you might have better luck looking for companies who want your specific skills, instead of just trying to search job titles.

  23. Anon for this*

    I have a hypothetical question that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. How does freedom of religion get worked out with moral standings?

    Let’s say a company hires a fundamental Muslim man who doesn’t shake hands with anyone because he doesn’t want to be seen as prejudiced towards the women in the office who he refuses to touch at all. Can I, as a woman, be opposed to working with him because I only want to work with coworkers who view me as an equal?

    Or what if a company hires a fundamental Christian who won’t talk to women one on one. Can I be opposed to working with him for the same reason? Note that this isn’t about the practicalities of maybe needing to work with coworkers one on one, but the simple situation of working with someone who does not view me as an equal.

    Or what if a company hired a fundamental Jew. Can I as a vegetarian be opposed to working with him due to that religion’s treatment of animals?

    The list goes on, and could include other cultural groups aside from religions. These things aren’t obvious usually, but if found out, I’d have concerns. I just don’t want to work with people who have views so severely different than mine when those views are opposite to my core being. I wonder how an employer would react to this.

    1. Not Australian*

      I think there’s a difference between ‘my religion prevents me from doing x’ and ‘I don’t want to do x’. A lot of us have to swallow our personal preferences and work with people we dislike (for whatever reason), especially in public-facing roles. It’s part of the cost of doing business – we don’t generally get to pick and choose who we interact with.

      1. valentine*

        In all your examples, you’re painting both the men and their religions with a massive brush. The answer to them all is no and I don’t think it’s possible or good to narrow your colleagues to your values like this, especially if you’d be okay with a wider range of clients.

        The Muslim in your example would be treating you as an equal by not singling you out (and I love the hand-over-heart gesture because no touching).

        1. Clisby*

          Also, that’s not exclusive to Muslim men. From the UAE embassy in Washington, DC:

          “Pious Muslim women do not shake the hands or touch men who are not in their families. Rather, they might simply put their hand over their hearts to show their sincerity in welcoming the visitor.”

          I don’t see any of this as a problem as long as they treat men and women alike in the workplace. As far as I’m concerned, the less touching of co-workers, the better.

    2. TechWorker*

      (‘As a vegetarian’ :p) I don’t think the example of ‘this religion is cruel to animals’ is a good one. Big meat industries treat animals horrendously so unless you happen to work in a vegan cafe or something the majority of people you interact with are going to be in some way contributing to bad treatment of animals. The Jewish coworker may be vegetarian too… I would be particularly unimpressed at a colleague who tried to use that as justification for not working with a Jewish person.

      The other examples are more subtle because they involve someone directly treating you differently – there I think you would be well within your rights to complain about being treated differently – but not to refuse to work with people with different viewpoints. Or at least, if you made that choice, you’d be expected to handle it yourself by choosing to work elsewhere.

      There’s a limit there Ofc, I think it’s reasonable to not want to work with, say, someone who is a member of a banned fascist group, but being a member of a common religion does not fall into that category.

      TLDR – it’s not your companies job to accommodate your moral views any more than it is to accommodate the views of the fundamentalist Christian who doesn’t want to work with women. If you absolutely couldn’t work with someone you disagree with then you’d have to choose a place of employment where disagreement is extremely unlikely.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        The other examples are more subtle because they involve someone directly treating you differently – there I think you would be well within your rights to complain about being treated differently – but not to refuse to work with people with different viewpoints. Or at least, if you made that choice, you’d be expected to handle it yourself by choosing to work elsewhere.

        This. I think you have standing to refuse to work with someone who treats you differently (i.e., someone who shakes others’ hands, but won’t shake yours.) But you can’t refuse to work with someone who thinks differently. And quite honestly, we do this on a daily basis. I work with people who don’t view me as equal, or don’t like me, for non-religious reasons. That’s what work is.

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I think you have to decide for yourself where the line is drawn, and whether your staunch moral code is also staunchly opposed to discriminating against people because of their religious beliefs.

      I’d also make sure you know what those beliefs are. There’s no such thing as a “fundamendal Jew” and I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say “that religion’s treatment of animals”—schechita? kaporos? What if that hypothetical Orthodox Jewish coworker turns out to also be a vegetarian? (It’s a very easy way to keep kosher!) Would you still shun him because some other Orthodox Jews do things you dislike?

      It sounds like you’re very concerned about people thinking of you as an equal, but misogyny is so baked into the culture that (alas) this isn’t something that can be necessarily expected of anyone from any background. It’s not like atheist circles are bastions of gender equality. I would do some serious self-examining around your conflation of sexism with religious beliefs. It seems likely to throw a lot of babies out with the bathwater while giving less religious misogynists a pass.

      Working with people whose views are severely different from ours is part of what we sign up for when we work in companies where we don’t make the hiring decisions. If that’s not comfortable for you, maybe freelancing or starting your own business would be a better fit.

      1. River Song*

        That’s a really good point! We live in a patriarchal society. It’s not all men. I dont even think it’s most men. But there are definitely plenty of men who think of women as less than, and some use religion as an excuse but plenty don’t.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          I hear those comments a lot with Halal foods too. Sure, eating Halal meat is more cruel than not eating any meat, but it always seems to come from people who buy/consume factory farmed meats.

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        I’m wondering why the OP is so opposed to kosher slaughterhouses but has absolutely nothing to say about non-kosher slaughterhouses. And the OP is so eager to look down at Jews without even considering that they might be vegetarians.

    4. Avasarala*

      Here is how I would react to that.
      1. It sounds like you have some biases against religion… I know these are hypothetical but this statement gives me pause: “I just don’t want to work with people who have views so severely different than mine when those views are opposite to my core being.” When you phrase it like this it doesn’t sound so tolerant of diversity, does it?

      2. If everyone is kind and professional, then it doesn’t matter what their views are. The workplace rules should be set so that everyone behaves fairly to everyone.
      If your Muslim coworker treats women equally to men in every way (promotions, salary, support, etc) except physical touch, I don’t see why his religion is relevant. If the Christian coworker similarly treats women kindly and professionally but does not hold 1 on 1 meetings with anyone (and is in a role like receptionist where that doesn’t impede their job), then their religion shouldn’t matter to you. And if a Jewish coworker is eating a chicken sandwich in the break room, and you refuse to work on a project with them, then their religion is not relevant.

      Ultimately if everyone is behaving kindly and professionally, then no, you can’t discriminate against your coworkers and refuse to work with them based on your perception of their religious beliefs. You have no idea what they think, and it is immoral to refuse to work with someone based on a part of their personhood that has no effect on you. I don’t see it any different than someone refusing to work with you because of your religion (or lack their of), your vegetarianism, your gender, etc.

      tldr; if you said “I don’t want to work with this Jew because I’m a vegetarian. I just don’t want to work with people who have views so opposite to my core being.” I would say, well, our workplace values diversity and respect, and sounds like it’s not a good fit for you, so let’s talk about transitioning you out.

      1. Fikly*

        I’m tolerant right up until I need to be tolerant of intolerance. It’s like people who say, well, it’s just a political difference. When someone says being ok with human rights abuses is a just political difference, they’re wrong. The person ok with the human rights abuses may have different politics, but being ok with abusing human rights is on an entirely different scale.

        But to the broader point, if they are treating every group the same, then it’s not a problem.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          The problem with this view is that people tend to project intolerance onto religious minorities. Even in OP’s given example, there’s an assumption that the rationale behind not touching anyone is to avoid touching women versus, say, having an aversion to touch. I’m Muslim, and am far more reserved about physical touch as it feels very intimate to me. I’m also gay–it’s not really a man/woman thing. Personally I never really thought of it a religious thing, or even a cultural quirk, I’ve just always been averse to touch outside of romantic intimacy.

          I also tend to get a lot of awkwardness and avoidance from openly gay colleagues who aren’t aware that I’m gay, projecting violent hatred onto me because I’m an Arab man.

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            That last line didn’t really come out right, but essentially what I’m saying is that a lot of the left-leaning progressive ally-types are the ones that ironically will treat me worse because of assumed prejudicial views that are prejudicially based on my race. And it just hurts all the more when it’s coming from my own community. Didn’t mean to imply that us LGBT folk are any more/less racist than the general populous.

            1. Fikly*

              Well, sure, that can be a problem.

              But if you assume everyone who is tolerant except not of intolerance holds that view, than you are making just as many assumptions. I wait until I see intolerance demonstrated. I work very hard not to assume that someone is going to be intolerant until proven otherwise. Of course I have my biases, we all do. I can’t eliminate them, but I can work to recognize those thoughts, and realize they are happening, and adjust my actions and behavior.

              1. Avasarala*

                No one is asking anyone to be tolerant of intolerance. But the OP was talking about objecting to working with people based on their stereotypes and perceptions of their beliefs. And extreme ones at that. You can’t claim the moral high ground if you turn around and judge others based on their beliefs, not their behavior. And you can’t ask for clemency as you work through your biases if you won’t give that same forgiveness to others.

    5. On a pale mouse*

      Behavior, not belief. If a coworker shakes hands with men but not women, then that’s something the employer could legitimately address. If he treats men and women the same, handshakes and all other interactions, then it’s not the employer’s business what he believes. In fact an employer trying to take action based solely on his religious beliefs would be at high risk of violating his civil rights. (If he’s going around SAYING women shouldn’t be in the workplace or something, that would be different, but that wasn’t your hypothetical.)

      You can certainly choose not to work with people whose beliefs you dislike, but as someone else already said, it’s on you to find a place where you don’t have to. All the employer is going to enforce is behavior.

      1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

        Bingo.

        You don’t have a right to not work with people whose beliefs are different from yours, no matter how strongly you feel about those beliefs. Or rather, you do – you are free to quit your job at any time.

        1. RoadsLady*

          It also clears up the bias of perspective.

          What a person is actively doing vs what generalities you may know of their faith.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is where I land as well. If your boss is opposed to having one-on-one meetings with a person of a different gender, so they just don’t take one-on-one meetings at all, that’s a little kooky, but it’s still a boss trying to treat all their employees equally. A boss who’s opposed to one-on-one meetings with people of a different gender but still holds one-on-one meetings with people of their same gender is a horse of a different color, and should definitely get some push back.

        I think the difficulty I had reading the original comment here is that it gets pretty far into “guess what people are thinking and why they’re thinking it, then make judgements based on that guess” territory. I’d say that unless a person is treating people inequitably or comes right out and tells you what they think and why they wish they could treat people inequitably, you don’t really have anything to push back against.

    6. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Well, the vegetarian thing wouldn’t fly because being vegetarian isn’t a protected characteristic under the law, but religion is.

      I don’t know if you could argue that sexism is at play (I don’t think you could btw) and as sex and gender are protected characteristics here in the UK you might be able to counter it with that, but probably not and an employment lawyer from your country of origin might be best placed to advise!

      1. Alianora*

        Even if being vegetarian was a protected characteristic, I still don’t think that would work. Religious people can’t insist that they only work with others of their same religion, so similarly, vegetarians would not be able to insist on only working with people whose diets they consider acceptable.

    7. Asenath*

      I try to accept that people who do have profoundly different beliefs from mine are still human beings, and so should be accepted in the workplace with professional behaviour going both ways. I know – well, maybe it’s better to say, “guess” – that many of my co-workers have profoundly different moral views on certain issues than I do. I said “guess” because I don’t ask – to use your examples – whether they eat meat, or think of me as an equal or whatever. On the other hand, sometimes I do know, from things they do or say. If they do their job, don’t interfere with me doing mine, I don’t really care if they don’t shake my hand or do or don’t eat meat. Sure, some people’s moral views are aligned with their religion and some aren’t. In my private life, I have some interest in the kinds of beliefs people hold, at least in some areas. But at work, my interests are much more limited, and I don’t really care what my co-workers think of my beliefs or I of theirs, as long as we all do our jobs. That’s enough of a challenge sometimes.

    8. Saffron Sam*

      I’d have to ask what job you’re doing where their beliefs so strongly impact your core being.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I’d like to know what unicorn job one could do that screens out everything one finds abhorrent.

    9. RoadsLady*

      Hypothetical question in return: Would you be willing to accept others refusing to work with you for a list of reasons?

      1. River Song*

        So, I live in a rural county in a super rural state in a conservative part of the country. When I was in my early 20s I worked for a small daycare. One day one of the newer hires (small daycares always have new hires because the pay is so lousy. Who wants to be yelled at by parents and change poop for less than minimum wage?) mentioned she was gay. Later, another new hire came to me, absolutely scandalized. She wanted to know if it was even legal for the gay new hire to work with children. I literally laughed in her face before I caught myself. She was really young (18) and we live in this conservative bubble.
        All this to say, all of us can exist in our own “bubble” and if we find ourselves thinking we could never work with someone who has different beliefs than we do, it might be a good idea to see if that’s what happening

      2. short_stop*

        Let’s say a company hires a fundamental Muslim man who doesn’t shake hands with anyone because he doesn’t want to be seen as prejudiced towards the women in the office who he refuses to touch at all. Can I, as a woman, be opposed to working with him because I only want to work with coworkers who view me as an equal?
        No evidence that he doesn’t view you as an equal, and no discrimination either. Objecting would probably be discriminatory on the grounds of religion.

        Or what if a company hires a fundamental Christian who won’t talk to women one on one. Can I be opposed to working with him for the same reason? Note that this isn’t about the practicalities of maybe needing to work with coworkers one on one, but the simple situation of working with someone who does not view me as an equal.
        Evidence of discrimination which I would expect to be addressed and rectified. If he changes his approach I don’t think you could legit oppose working with him, but I wouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt on other gender-related discrimination.

        Or what if a company hired a fundamental Jew. Can I as a vegetarian be opposed to working with him due to that religion’s treatment of animals?
        I think it’s really difficult to imagine a scenario in which there is an actual problem because of the food someone eats that can only be addressed by not working with them. In the UK the vegetarian’s stance could be discriminatory on the grounds of both religion and race.

    10. Morticia*

      I think it’s okay to refuse to shake everyone’s hand. My last boss would still shake the men’s hands.

    11. Mainely Professional*

      “Fundamental” is not a adjective which describes any person. You mean “fundamentalist” and that still does not describe a specific religion/practice/sect of Islam or Judaism. There are Christian and Mormon fundamentalists, and several churches/and interdenominational organizations that use “fundamental” in their name, but in any case someone who belonged to such a group would be a “fundamentalist X [Methodist/Baptist/Whatever].”

      I guarantee you work with someone whose views are severely different than your own on some topic already. Try to respect that rather than avoid it.

      So, I guess this atheist suggests that you take the plank out of your own eye before trying to remove the mote from your fellow man’s.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      On my team, right now, includes a vegetarian (no chicken/beef/fish), a vegan, and someone who eats a LOT of meat. We also have a devout Muslim, at least one atheist, and a devout Catholic. There’s also someone who I know is not-straight, and someone who I strong suspect is poly. Plus a mix of “normal” everything else.

      Day to day work interactions? You wouldn’t know any of this. The key is that people treat others with respect across the board, regardless of their personal or religious beliefs. That goes both ways. As long as you’re being treated as an equal, it doesn’t matter what’s in their heads. If however you’re allowing yourself to be weirded out by what you presume is in other people’s heads and it’s impacting how you treat them, then you’re actually the problem.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. You’re at work to work, not become BFFs or marry these people.

        I was living in an area where some people literally think yoga is full of demons, and I still managed to work with them because they kept it out of the office. I knew they belonged to X church but it didn’t have anything to do with our day-to-day.

    13. Jules the 3rd*

      As long as their *behavior* does not single out a protected class, you do not have the right to object to their beliefs or views, or their legal behavior outside of work. So a Muslim who touches no one? Fine, he’s doing his thing, you do yours. And you’re *assuming* that ‘can’t touch / be one on one with because my religion’s rules say so’ = ‘thinks of me as not equal’, which may not be true, and certainly is not restricted to people with certain religious beliefs.

      The -isms are so common and entrenched that companies should build in structural checks for fighting them (ie, wage bands, salary analyses, effective and safe complaint paths) rather than count on individuals knowing and effectively fighting their biases. But we can only object and fight the behaviors, people should not be coerced through their employment into needing to change the insides of their heads.

      Outside of work, when there is no economic coercion, it’s ok to debate, discuss, try to change hearts and minds, etc, but work is not an appropriate place for it. You are not (usually) employed to drive social change.

    14. I Rell Vatch*

      It is dangerous to judge a person on only one aspect of their identity. Whether you are looking at race, sexuality, religion, marital status, age, or any of the other myriad ways we differ from each other, this is a significant step toward developing bigotry in ourselves. It is internally refusing to except another’s personhood and makes it much easier to justify bigoted actions.

      It is hard to treat others better than they treat us. It requires a significant amount of emotional maturity and self-confidence. It has been my experience, though, that as I do so, I increase my own self confidence and maturity; working to recognize another’s personhood, and striving to treat them with kindness and patience, has been a vital aspect of my personal development. Continually reminding myself that the person I am interacting with has much more to who they are than the part of them I do not like – that they have their fears and dreams, just as I do – that they love their families, just as I do – that they want to be loved in return, just as I do – gets easier as I have practiced doing this.

      This doesn’t mean that I accept people treating me badly. In fact, I have found it gives me the courage to set boundaries and assert my own personhood.

      I also firmly believe that doing this allows me to be a positive influence on the people I interact with. By modeling kindness and patience I encourage the same in the people around me by making it easier for them to feel safe. Harsh judgement makes people defensive and entrenches them in their positions. Positive interaction, however, has the potential to encourage them to change their minds. I am helping them to recognize my own personhood, when I recognize theirs.

    15. LKW*

      “I just don’t want to work with people who have views so severely different than mine.”

      This is a highly intolerant statement. You’ve painted examples of people who are respectfully managing their religious observations in a secular world.

      If you are a vegan, would you have trouble working with an avid hunter who eats or distributes the meat from their kills? How do you know the Muslim man doesn’t have severe arthritis and that’s the reason he doesn’t shake hands with anyone? I don’t see how a vegan would find kosher butchery any less distasteful than industry butchery.

      In short the intolerance is actually coming from you – not the examples of religion based behavior you’ve provided. If I had someone ask me to move them based on the examples you’ve given, I would be alerting HR to keep a close eye on them and I’d worry that they were bringing their intolerance and bigotries into the office.

    16. Qwerty*

      How would an employer react to religious discrimination? Hopefully by shutting it down very strongly.

      All of your examples are about refusing to work with with someone because of their religion. Two thirds of them take sex/gender into account. You reference “cultural groups” as the source of potential examples you could name, which leans strongly towards taking race/ethnicity into account. You really need to take a step by and examine why your bigotry should be considered superior and acceptable. You seem to feel strongly about being treated as an equal, but by placing a stronger emphasis your own moral views, you are essentially saying that you do not view others as equals.

      The actions you are proposing could turn into a liability for your company on discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, etc. If your employer kept you around, they would need to contain you. At the very least, you couldn’t manage anyone or be the gatekeeper of any resource, because they couldn’t trust you not let your views on religion/race/gender influence how you treat people. I’m really struggling to think of role they could keep someone like this in without fear that their biases would negatively impact their coworkers.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        Thank you for putting what was wrong with the OP’s premise so eloquently!!

        Signed,
        A Discriminated-Against Muslim

      2. Flyleaf*

        Being upset at someone who discriminates against a co-worker because of their gender is bigotry? No. As someone else said, you don’t need to tolerant of someone else’s intolerance.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          No, the problem is that there’s too broad of a brush being used here. The example above is equating “The Muslim doesn’t shake hands with anybody” with “The Muslim is being bigoted!”

          You don’t get to treat other religious or ethnic minorities badly, and using the pretext of “But their culture is sexist/homophobic/etc!” is just a means of trying to justify your own prejudicial views because you don’t seem comfortable around people from those cultures.

          If an individual treats you differently because of your gender, come down on them like a ton of bricks, but being from a different culture has no bearing on that assessment. Or rather, you cannot make that assessment based on the race/religion of the individual because then you’re not being pro-gender equality, you’re being anti-Muslim/anti-Jew etc.

          1. Flyleaf*

            No you can’t treat them differently because of their religious beliefs. But if their religion is why they treat you differently, then yes they deserve to be called out. If a coworker refuses to meet with a woman because of his religious beliefs, that is a problem.

        2. Avasarala*

          And how is the Jew in OP’s example discriminating against anyone? By sitting there while Jewish?

          A person who practices their religion and acts kindly, fairly, and professionally in the workplace is not being intolerant.

          1. Flyleaf*

            Since the example of the Jewish coworker didn’t involve any behavior directed at the OP, then the OP wouldn’t have any business being upset.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      Not sure where you are in the world, but the difference between religious freedoms and moral standings is that religious freedoms are still protected classes. I mean, I really do get where you’re coming from. It can be frustrating as hell. And we aren’t living in the atheist socialist starship of the future. We have to interact with people who are different from us, lest we start living in our own bubbles. Given your letter, and with as much compassion as I can muster on a Friday morning, I would suggest being prepared for a few scenarios.
      1- Self-employment
      2- Compromise
      3- Disappointment.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Indeed, an atheist socialist starship of the future is going to get emptied out real quick if dissent = a quick trip out the airlock.

    18. ThursdaysGeek*

      I listened to an interesting comment from Ravi Zacharias about the source of our moral authority. He said cultures usually have one of three – the authority comes from God (he’s Christian, so that’s where he’s coming from) and that is a theocracy. We don’t live in that culture. Another one is where the authority comes from the government, and I can’t recall what he called it, but we don’t have that either. The third was autocracy, where we each decide our own moral authority. And that does describe American culture.

      In that case, why does your moral authority have precedence over someone else’s? You get to decide for yourself, but they have the rights to decide for their selves too, and since neither the state nor a god has more authority, we have to allow each other their place. You’re trying to place your moral authority over other people.

    19. Ramona Q*

      Jewish atheist feminist here. This statement? “I just don’t want to work with people who have views so severely different than mine when those views are opposite to my core being.” Given how weirdly your examples don’t show the people involved behaving badly or mistreating you at all, that would make me much more worried about YOU and how you’d treat me than how these men would.

    20. cmcinnyc*

      Live and work in NYC and you’ll come across all these hypotheticals and more. The vast majority of people self-select their working environment based on what they can/cannot deal with. To use an absurd example, vegans don’t apply for a job at the butcher shop. I work with people who have religious accommodations (like leaving before sundown on Sabbath), and I probably work with plenty of people who don’t work on Sunday but it’s not a standard workday at my office so that’s invisible (and used to be a religious accommodation and now is just The Way It Is). Bottom line every person at this office is expected to treat everyone with professional courtesy and respect. You are not required to like anyone nor agree with anyone, just get along and get the job done. We also have pretty strong boundaries around talking politics or religion (or diet!) at work. If you truly care about only working with people who share your core values, you probably need to work at a nonprofit focused tightly on your issues or for your own church (if you have one). If you’re ok working with a wide range of people, treating them with courtesy and respect, and being treated that way in return, the world is pretty wide. Notwithstanding the awesomely dysfunctional workplaces sometimes featured on this site!

    21. LilySparrow*

      As an employee, you are perfectly at liberty to make these type of stands if you want to, at least in the US, because we protect freedom of thought.

      An employer is not legally allowed to “accommodate” your personal rules by discriminating against religious or ethnic groups. So you’d basically be making yourself unemployable by any organization that isn’t already shady and bigoted.

      Your (former) coworkers and others who know you would also be perfectly at liberty to draw conclusions about your beliefs and character, based on your stated desire to avoid being around or working with Jews and Muslims.

      You may cite feminism or veganism as underlying reasons, but the reasons don’t really matter in the outcome. The road of stereotyping and intolerance does not lead toward equality, nonviolence, and ethical living. It’s a well-established highway in the opposite direction.

    22. CM*

      I feel like this is kind of a science fiction question. In real life, when your coworkers are bigoted and don’t acknowledge your humanity, that usually shows up in their behaviour — and, in that case, you would have grounds to object to their behaviour without needing to argue with them about their beliefs.

      In a hypothetical scenario where somehow you KNOW that they hate you, but they never say so or treat you any differently than they treat people they don’t hate… I guess they’re being pretty professional about it? Being hated without any ACTION taken toward you as result of that hate — not even a microaggression or a snide comment — is the nicest way to be hated by far, and I’d prefer it to the kinds of hate I’ve generally seen.

  24. Boss 2021*

    I have been asked to consider taking over our little unit next year when my boss retires. I’d love some advice from you!

    I need to show the senior leadership that I am ready for the responsibility: any advice on how to step up and show that I can run a team?

    I also need to start recruiting a person to replace me when I take my boss’ role. Should I recruit someone more junior and train the person? Or is it a better use of my time to recruit someone more senior who can pull off a heavier workload?

    What is your best advice to a new manager? Any useful tips and tricks?

    1. Sara(h)*

      As for your first question, my best advice would be to ask your boss or another trusted senior colleague if they have suggestions for how you can step up and demonstrate you’re ready for the responsibility.
      As for recruiting a person to replace you, that seems premature when you’re not yet certain you’ll be taking over your boss’s role, so I would recommend tabling that until further notice, unless you’ve been specifically instructed to do so at this early juncture. Again, I think your boss or other senior colleagues would be the best people to advise you. It’s difficult to give advice about this without knowing your industry, office culture, etc. Good luck!

      1. Boss 2021*

        We are recruiting a new person, and i have a say in who that person should be. Either i recommend that we go for a junior person (no competition to me) or a more experienced person (who might be competition but will also reduce my work load). I am leaning towards the latter.

        1. Derjungerludendorff*

          To be honest, I think that whether they are “competition” or not shouldn’t even be crossing anyone’s mind in a healthy organization. You would literally be undermining your team for your personal gain and advancement.

          If I found out my manager or colleague was doing that, my opinion of them would drop massively. And I certainly wouldn’t want them in any position of power or responsibility.

          1. Nesprin*

            Yep- if you’re worried someone new off the street is going to be competition, instead of your new collaborator, bringing new skills and expertise I’d be worried if you’re ready to lead a team.

        2. Clisby*

          You should be trying to recruit the best person possible (given, of course, what pay and benefits you can offer.)

    2. Cynthia*

      “I need to show the senior leadership that I am ready for the responsibility: any advice on how to step up and show that I can run a team?” Start doing it. Ask your boss what responsibilities you can take over, have a list in mind, and ask. That’s how I got my promotion. The boss’ boss needed to see me take the lead. Try and find a mentor/guide, someone with your boss’s type position either at your company or one similar that you can have a monthly phone call and/or lunch with. Depends on industry and how big the company is for whether internal or external.

    3. HM MM*

      For showing leadership – I think there is a bit of a line that you’ll need to walk carefully here. You want to step up, but you also don’t want to overstep (before the boss retires/your promotion is official) because you don’t want to alienate your current colleagues/potential reports. I think there was a letter recently where the LW spoke to their direct report about a potential promotion, but then they started acting like it was official and bossing people around.

      So I think the key is keeping a very open line of communication the boss. Volunteer for any opportunity you see and if you have any ideas of tasks/responsibilities you could start taking off of the boss’s plate throw them out there to the boss. Just don’t go rogue and start doing them without communicating it to the boss. It might go over better if the boss is the one to communicate any changes in responsibilities to the rest of the team (at least at first).

      For the jr vs experienced new hire – I’d think really long and hard about how good you are at training. Have you trained people before? Did you enjoy it? Was it successful? Were/are you able to adapt and be flexible? You mention that you’ll be new to management, if you also haven’t done a lot of hands on training with others then it might not be a good idea to set yourself up with two new things to be experiencing. I had a manager once for whom I was their first direct report ever. I was being promoted into her former role, but it was understood by all that I had no experience in this type of role (she didn’t either when she started, but over the course of a couple of years she slowly took on more and more). So she had to learn how to manage and train me from scratch and it was a complete disaster. She was incredibly overwhelmed (she also received no training or support from her manager). I couldn’t handle it (I know she meant well, but I was miserable working for someone who was so overwhelmed and then was lashing out at me) so I left within a year and she eventually had her management responsibilities taken away. The thing is, I think she might have had more success if she had either only been tasked with training me, but not managing me (at least at first, maybe that’s something that could have happened down the line) or if they hired someone else with some experience or familiarity so that she wasn’t also training someone from scratch.

      If you’re confident in your training skills then hiring a more junior person could be a good way to show you’re ready to lead/manage people – I’d just be cautious. A lot of people aren’t great at training, and that’s totally ok! Doesn’t mean that you can’t tackle that in future direct reports, but I’d just think hard about whether that’s something you’re in a place to take on right now (in addition to the new management responsibilities that will probably be coming your way).

  25. My Utmost Best*

    I have drafted many posts about a coworker who has been trying to micromanage me. Never posted them because they were venting rather than asking for advice and just typing my complaints out helped but I don’t need to do that any more because mid-December she started on another team!
    On her last day with us she still managed to make one of her signature comments (asking if I was leaving for my gym class during work hours because I have an important meeting to attend – um, why would I do that?) but other than that I just wished her the best of luck in her new position. It will be a much better fit for her (social) skills and I won’t have someone going through my meeting notes and adding comments to them without knowing the context or quizzing me on my own assignments.

    1. Derjungerludendorff*

      Congrats!
      That person sounds exhausting to work with, and I’m glad you don’t have to deal with that anymore!

  26. Dramadeus Mozart*

    My partner works at a company with unclear hierarchy and decision processes.

    His boss, Jane, is a contractor whose contract ends soon. His grand boss, Paul, would like to replace Jane (who has a history of bullying staff) and has put out an add for a manager position that Jane considers too junior for her, she wants senior director.

    Jane was offered the manager position but said she would rather quit her contract. Jane was then offered to prolong her contract till spring and give Paul more time to find a solution.

    Paul has asked my partner to apply for the open manager position, which he would love to do.

    Jane found out that Paul has asked my partner to apply and is now trying to get Paul to change the add to sr dir, or else… she has friends in the c-team and they are pressuring Paul to make Jane happy.

    She is also coming after my partner and telling everyone, behind his back, that he is a traitor and they should not speak with him. (It’s so sad because they used to be really good friends)

    How should my partner handle this? Jane has already begun to turn the rest of the team against both Paul and my partner. He would like to apply, but is unsure about the dynamics of he does and she still stays in her contract.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      IMO your partner should handle this by looking for work at a different company. That one sounds bad all around—not just Jane but the c-suite protecting Jane while she bullies your partner. If he’s being invited to apply for management jobs there, he can look for some elsewhere too.

      1. Boss 2021*

        Most of the c-suite see her as a forceful leader. The fact that they have had to pay their way out of 3 lawsuits due to bullying from jane’s side, is only raising concerns with some of the c-suite. Paul is one of those who want to get rid of Jane.
        But she seems to be politically savvy and seems to be winning this battle…

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          This is only intensifying my “run awaaaaaaaay” advice. They’d rather pay off three lawsuits than fire one bully? Get out now.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Partner should do his best to stay out of the drama while taking the actions that are good for him.
      1) Since partner wants the job, partner should apply. And soon, because ‘I have this great candidate!’ gives Paul ammo too.
      2) Jane’s going to Jane no matter what, your partner is now on her target list. Partner will need to strengthen ties to office mates, without making them targets. Can he quietly invite 1 – 2 people out for happy hours, 1 – 2 times / week? Ask them about professional dreams, current problems, lives… Yes, it’s a big time investment, but if he ends up as manager, it’ll be huge.
      3) For all interactions with Jane, information diet and non-reaction. Whatever she says, he gives a small smile, ‘oh, really? hmmm.’ or ‘how interesting!’ and if applicable, changes the subject to a work topic. Do not discuss anything with her that’s personal or even non-work, except maybe the weather. No politics or local events or *anything*. Work only, and only work she needs to know about.

      I mean, *lawsuits* and she’s still got c-suite supporters? Good luck to Paul and your partner…

    3. I Love Llamas*

      Wow, that’s ugly. Perhaps your partner should tell Paul that until the job title and description are finalized, he is going to sit on the sidelines. He can still express his interest in moving up, but that it sounds like there are some things that need to be finalized before he can decide if he wants to apply. That might be the gracious way to side step the issue. It also gives him time to polish his resume….

    4. CM*

      Bottom line, if your partner wants this job, he should apply for it.

      I’d also recommend not making too many assumptions about how the drama is playing out in the c-suite. Unless Partner has inside sources who are giving him a play-by-play — and even if he does — there could be a lot going on that he isn’t hearing about — so don’t make a decision based on that.

      I think the feared scenario is that Partner applies and then they give the job to Jane with a new title and he has to keep working for her, but now she hates him. In that case, the solution is to blame Paul by saying, “Paul asked me to apply, and I’m not going to say no to a promotion.” 9/10, Jane will understand that, and Paul is more insulated from her outbursts.

  27. Stuck In A Crazy Job*

    My job search is going badly. The internal position I had a phone interview for was filled (I have no idea what that was about) and I bombed the interview for an external position. I think I’ll take a break and restart on January 1st

    1. My Utmost Best*

      If you can afford to take a break, I would recommend to do that. It’s important that your job search doesn’t consume you. I’m sorry it isn’t going the way you want it.
      I was job searching throughout the summer after moving. I had holidays scheduled and continued to work on applications through the first week. It was a terrible idea because I didn’t relax and rest (goal of the holiday) and felt guilty about not having a job AND not being ‘present’ and focusing on our lovely family time. I could afford to take a break, and here I am, in a well-paid job I love since October.
      Use these two weeks until the next year to take some time off from your job search and just enjoy the holidays/the weather/Netflix or whatever applies to your situation.
      (If you’re celebrating on the 31st, I think you can still take the 1st off and restart your search once you’re well-rested.)
      Best of luck!

    2. Derjungerludendorff*

      Taking a break sounds like a good idea.
      Job searching can be emotionally exhausting. If you’re already struggeling with interviews, then pushing yourself during a busy time of year isn’t going to help you.

  28. Roller*

    I’ve been wondering if anyone else has a similar experience to me, the opposite of the ‘when I quit they posted my exact job for $xxx more than I was being paid’ situation.

    I was inherited by my boss and I got a few ‘ha ha you will never leave as we pay you so well’ comments. I get paid pretty much market rate and said this in response.

    When I was job searching I got a job very quickly for the same pay but with much better benefits, to current boss’ surprise.

    What I found a bit insulting was when trying to find my replacement the range was between half to two thirds of my current market rate pay. Made me glad I was leaving as I didn’t feel valued at that point. Predictably they couldn’t find anyone who would work for that money for the role.

    Has anyone else had something like this happen?

    1. Batgirl*

      I have and I think two things happen to create this phenomenon. One is that poor managers plan optimistically rather than with critical research, so they give out a standard or low figure when recruiting. Then, when they catch someone good with that figure, their optimism of ‘this is a good rate’ becomes cemented.
      However dismissive they might be of being told otherwise, they are forced to concede when said employee is able to do better. The final proof is when they take a second look at the research of what other people get, or they simply can’t even get resumes from someone as good as you when offering the same pay (this is especially common if you’ve grown the role).
      It’s actually a victory in terms of getting your point across. Alas, leaving is often the best way to do that.

    2. Batgirl*

      And… I’ve misunderstood that your story is ‘the opposite’.
      My point still stands but they’re still in the stage before they are forced to concede.
      They won’t offer anything they aren’t forced to, because they come up with all sorts of justifications why people should be thrilled to be underpaid.
      They just mistake an optimistic budget for research and probably count ‘experience and exposure’ as payment.
      I’m sure there’s plenty wrong with their management.

    3. Cynthia*

      Why would you personally feel insulted? It had nothing to do with you, they just saw it as a a way to get a newer/greener person for less money. Congrats on the new job!

      1. Roller*

        I suppose it is the idea that your worth to the company is tied into what you are paid, however right or wrong that is to think. We always got along well but to know that she valued the role I had built up, and therefore me, at much less stung a bit!

        1. londonedit*

          I don’t think it has anything to do with your worth, though. It’s nothing to do with the work you’ve done, it’s the company wanting to save money. They’re looking at this as an opportunity to hire someone for less money. That sucks for the person coming in, and it proves that they’re mean when it comes to salaries, but I’ve worked for a few companies where they’ve replaced (or tried to replace) someone who’s leaving with someone at a lower level (say, an editor leaves and instead of hiring an editor or senior editor they hire an assistant editor instead). It’s because they can pay that person less while probably asking them to do broadly the same job as their predecessor.

        2. Batgirl*

          I think you’d get better validation from fortune cookies which at least stand an accidental chance of being right.

          Your boss has terrible judgement and their professionalism is even worse.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        It may actually be a compliment. They think the OP did such a good job and set so many processes in place that they can hire a less experiences employee to keep things running.

    4. Fikly*

      I think you’ve been proved right, though! They tried to fill your shoes for less, and clearly they couldn’t!

    5. BRR*

      I was laid off earlier this year and I know part of the reason was I was paid more than they thought I was worth. I wouldn’t be surprised if they listed my role at a lower level with the same expectations. Unfortunately for my situation and I’m guessing your’s as well is that it is difficult to prove that you’re undervalued.

    6. epi*

      My old boss was like this. My old company was underpaying people in my role so badly, the organization eventually redid their salary survey early because turnover was out of control. It resulted in entire categories of people in my role being moved up 1-3 salary bands.

      However, it was a decentralized role and my immediate supervisor in my department really did not even understand why it was needed. Although my counterpart and I in our department did receive raises, we were still underpaid because he was keeping us at an inappropriately low step on the ladder. He couldn’t be convinced that anything someone in our role did could ever merit moving up. Really, he couldn’t be convinced that there was a market for anyone’s job, anywhere, at all. And that therefore it was only right for him to pay peanuts in a major US city.

      I left to become an epidemiologist and my colleague left for medical school. This guy’s delusion was so severe, when my colleague gave her notice he asked her if she was confident she would get a job that way.

      I really think it was some personal dysfunction of his, combined with greed and wanting to keep more of the unit budget for himself. My boss had multiple degrees in musical performance, couldn’t make a living that way, got an MBA instead, and couldn’t find permanent work that way either until the position he held as my boss which he was never able to be promoted out of. In his mind, all career paths were risky and down to luck, because his was.

    7. Past my last straw*

      My company’s trying to do that right now with my former supervisor’s position. Responsibilities are full-fledged manager level, and they’re getting great applicants who turn them down as soon as salary comes up. It’s getting a little too Lean here folks…

  29. Taking The Long Way Round*

    A member of our team, Roberta, is falling behind on deadlines, missing reports and targets, and generally lowering the quality of the team’s output. This is noticeable both within the organisation I work for, and also with external clients who’ve had queries we couldn’t answer because Roberta hasn’t completed what she is meant to.

    At first, we all offered to help, and some have managed to do quite a bit for her, in an attempt to help her get on top of things. This didn’t seem to make a difference though as she was soon back to lagging behind. We’ve all taken the view now that we can’t help anymore because it’s impacting our own workload.

    Unfortunately, our boss is avoidant and will not manage Roberta’s performance. Instead, he is insisting that we share the work load equally and do some of Roberta’s work on top of our own to help her out (again…we have done this to no avail, but also math fail – how is it ‘sharing it equally’ if the people who work the hardest get given more work to do?) It honestly feels like being penalised for being good at your job.

    His logic is that, this way the team’s quality will improve overall because it’s a team effort. Um, no. Roberta is lazy and so is our boss for passing the buck. Right?

    We’ve all told our boss how we feel, but it’s fallen on deaf ears.
    If anyone has any ideas that don’t involve leaving the place I’d love to hear them, but sadly I think looking for another job might be the way to go.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Maybe you should ask your boss which of your own tasks you should not do in order to do Roberta’s work.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      You’ve all told your boss, but have you gone to him in a group? The other option is start being unable to do all the work, and explain ‘I’m prioritizing A, B, C because D, E are from Roberta’.

    3. Long Time Lurker*

      Slow down your work so that you can only do your job in the amount of time you have. Don’t commit to doing her work “I’m so busy! I’ll check in when I have time to help.” Followed by “Sorry I haven’t had a free moment to help.”

  30. Lrrr of Omicron Persei 8*

    I’m not sure how to navigate this (or if there’s even a reason to do so). Long story short, I have a remote side job that helps with adding content to a community forum, like Reddit, and each sub-group has control over their site appearance, rules, individual admins, etc. I’m an active admin for one group, Teapot Spouts, and should also note the reason I even got the side job was because of all the volunteer work and design overhaul I did for my group for about 2 years, so I have a pretty good grasp on the ins and outs. Well, a couple years before I started to edit, it was run by someone else, Mary (who’s about 20 years older than me). However, due to having some issues with changes to the whole community, Mary left 4 years ago and joined a competitor and started a Teapot Spout group there. Fast forward to now, and Mary’s company was bought by the first and is now back under the umbrella, though she’s been hired as one of their leads for the second company (but we’re essentially coworkers and stay to our respective groups). To add salt to the wounds though, while they haven’t shut down Mary’s group, it’s clear the combined company wants to use the original one I’m in to be the go to group for Teapot Spouts and it’s clear Mary doesn’t care for this and tried to push that her group could do it instead (by this point I was brought in to confirm my group would handle it).

    I also got the feeling Mary was acting like a runaway parent who returns years later and wonders why their kids don’t act like them: when a rather crazy idea was floated to me by another sraff member, I was excited and onboard, noting I had tried to implement something similar before but lacked certain skills to complete it, while Mary immediately dismissed it, going “well, I never saw anything on this site that could do that” (loose forns have been done on other sub-groups for the first company). Shortly after, she tried to attack the wording for one section on my group over a slight difference to which I explained why it was like that originally (is an old reference to something else that will be updated once we get the clear from staff looking into it). She’s been silent since, but so far these first few interactions I’m having with her are not boding well and if possible I’d like to cut off any future conversations that start to steer into the “well, this is how I did it 4 years ago” when a lot has obviously changed since she left.

    1. Marthooh*

      You can’t prevent Mary from making comments, but if you give her a generic answer every time (“Don’t worry, the Teapot Spouts subgroup has it handled!”) instead of replying to the specific criticism, she’ll get tired of it all sooner. It sounds like the company has your back here, so just make it boring for Mary to try to do your job for you.

      1. Lrrr of Omicron Persei 8*

        Thanks! Sometimes I forget a very bland response is a quick way to shut it down. I’ll do that next time if she tries it again :)

    2. LKW*

      Another tactic is to outline the options and pros/cons. It’s a little work on your plate but if you consistently show that you are open to ideas and are being transparent and non-judgmental with your pro/con assessment, you come across as thoughtful and mature. It can’t be done for everything, like wording, but sometimes just showing people that they’re taking on more work for no benefit is eye opening.

  31. Batgirl*

    Why does calling in sick make you feel so guilty? I think the set up of calling in is so unnecessary.
    I woke up with a high temperature on Monday but by Wednesday I had a normal temperature, felt OK and decided to go in. Everything was going swimmingly for an hour or so, until I began to see spots and realised I had passed out in my classroom. I freaked out the small exam group I was invigilating but luckily it was only a few seconds until I came to. I had to take a cab home and I vowed to be a lot more careful of myself before coming back in.
    Thing is… at my work you have to call in to a grandboss every single day. On the Thursday my grandboss sounded annoyed because my line manager never told him I’d gone home: ‘who covered you that afternoon?’
    “I don’t know, I was asleep and shivering under two blankets!” I wanted to say.
    “You’re going to need a doctor’s note if you’re still unwell Friday, and to avoid calling in over the holidays it should cover the two weeks we are off as well”
    So I went the doctors, who thinks it’s ridiculous I need a note for when the school is closed. “You can have one for this week and if they need more they can call themselves and ask.
    “You can self certify. Anything more is a burden on the NHS”.
    I was really hoping to be well enough to go in for today, the last day just to avoid the palaver. Last night I felt pretty good.
    This morning I feel awful again and have called in. At least I was given the option of updating via email on Monday.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m trying to get better at not feeling guilty for calling in sick. It’s just so hard to feel like you’re letting people down and making them do extra work. But what helps me is remembering that I don’t get angry when my colleagues are sick and I have to help cover for them. It might not always be convenient for me to take the extra work, but I don’t feel angry at the sick person because of it. So, take the way you react when your coworkers are sick and try to extend that same feeling to yourself.

      Also, your work’s call out system is awful!

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Re the guilt; think back to the last time you picked up the phone to someone calling in sick, maybe asking you to let their manager know. Did you assume they were faking it or malingering? Did you judge them for taking the day off? Did you gossip to all your colleagues about how Wakeen is a waster? I bet you didn’t. I bet you said “oh poor you, I hope you feel better soon, get some rest” and maybe added some kindly meant advice about drinking lots of water or having some honey and lemon. And then maybe you emailed someone or put it on the team calendar that Wakeen won’t be in today because he’s ill.
      Point being, people probably aren’t thinking your sickness isn’t legit, any more than you are thinking that about them.

  32. SApro*

    Today is my last day in the office!!!!
    I accepted a new position after feeling so slighted by my supervisor. I can tell she does not even care I am leaving so abruptly. There is a part of me that wished she did. When/why are work environments so anti-emtions and anti -empathy. (I work in higher ed. We teach these values in our students all the time. )

  33. Cherry Sours*

    Hello, and season’s greetings to everyone here.

    I have worked at my current position for 15 years, and I am reaching the point of burnout.
    Looks like the perfect time for a career change; fortunate that I have the ability to pay for school, have three colleges nearby, and my primary field of interest is much in demand and pays triple my current salary.

    The problem? I will be in my late 50’s when I graduate. Although I realize it is illegal to discriminate based on age, should I expect to have an extended search job search? Tips. hints and success stories are all welcome, as well as the pitfalls others have encountered…Bring them on!

    1. StellaBella*

      Some ideas …. referring to the statement that skills are in demand …. can you reach out now to a few of these firms that need these skills and ask them a few questions (maybe based on their open positions in the field that you see on their website): In the role of llama groomer, you are asking for brushing skills, and shearing skills. If I was enrolled at the local college for these skills, and wished to work for your firm after the courses finished, would the courses I plan to take be sufficient for your firm? Are there career days your firms has so I can ask about these courses and skills needed?….

      Do some glassdoor research etc – what kinds of skills do they need, specifically, and what are the interviews like for those roles – then work that into your college program. Also, can you consider part time college and part time volunteering doing said practical skills to boost your resume to tailor it to these skills more, and get a reference from the volunteer place too?

      I am over 50. Keep skills current especially in tech is really important. Join societies too that will help with networking for these skills and roles. Go to Meetups as well in the field to meet people and ask questions. Good luck!

      1. Cherry Sours*

        Thank you for your response, especially regarding career day, volunteer work & references from same. I currently work in healthcare; think nurse’s aide, and looking to earn an associate’s degree in physical therapy.

        I plan to reach out to my occupational therapist from a few years back…not the exact field, but similar enough that she might have some great input.

        No illusions here that I will be starting near the top of the payscale, or even in the middle. Fully aware that like all new-to-the-field employees, I will initially be paid towards the bottom of the scale, and I’m okay with that knowledge.

        Joining a professional organization is a great idea, as is volunteering. I certainly plan to do both. Would you suggest these be done at the beginning of my training, or about a year into the 2 year degree?

    2. Lyudie*

      Are you able to work and go to school? I know this will drag out your school but doing each part time will keep your foot in the door so to speak. Or maybe volunteering in the field a few hours a week? I don’t know what your new field is but a lot of programs are available partly or wholly online these days (my husband and I are both in the middle of master’s programs online, he has to go on campus for exams but mine is 100% online. I don’t even have a student ID lol). And depending on the field you might be able to get a job in the new field before you complete school (I did, I had only taken a handful of courses online before I was able to move into a new role at my company, but there are a lot of transferable skills between my first and second careers so that might not apply to you…let’s say I moved from teapot lid design to teapot handle design, if you are going from llama grooming to teapot design that might be harder).

      Good luck!!! You can totally do it :)

      1. Cherry Sours*

        I could potentially work & attend classes at the same time, but would prefer to give school my full attention. I will be departing work on good terms and with excellent references, and eligible for rehire. Could certainly stay on prn, and/or work during summer.

        I’ve done a bit of research and at this point it does not seem possible to take these classes online, but will explore the option further.

        Thanks for being my cheerleader, looking forward to upward mobility.

    3. short_stop*

      Do you know anyone in your new field? I’d start chatting to people and getting their take on whether age discrimination is rife or not much of a thing.

      Also, do you really need to go back to school? Obviously it depends on the field but while an additional qualification can be a really good route to switching careers, in others transferable skills and a bit of luck might be enough.

    4. LKW*

      I think the biggest challenge is whether or not your salary expectations align to your industry experience. The figure you noted, triple current salary is that for someone with the number of years of experience in this industry or is that an entry level salary?

      Ultimately your cover letter and interviews should help set & reinforce your enthusiasm but also expectations and ensure alignment with hiring managers. Some companies are not interested in experienced employees and want to grow all of their new hires, some have learned that experience hires bring a lot of perspective and value.

      We’ve all heard stories of people who had 15-20 years in one industry but 0 years in another industry but expected to be paid at their ex-industry level. There are some cases where it makes sense, if they have the same role but different industry. But if you’re leaving your position as Director of Teapot Sales to entry-level Llama groomer – you can’t expect Director Llama Groomer salary.

      1. Cherry Sours*

        I do not know anybody in the field, but will be seeking out my occupational therapist for a head’s up into my similar field. I have spoken with a friend in another branch of medicine, and at least where she is employed, age is not an issue.

        Yes, I feel school is a necessity at this point. I used to love my current position, the residents, my coworkers, but now the satisfaction is no longer there; I’m just going through the paces. I feel this is unfair to them and disheartening to me.

    5. irene adler*

      I’m over 50 and have experienced a fair amount of age discrimination. There aren’t any HR police so they can discriminate freely. They cover it up by saying you lack a skill or experience necessary for the job. They know how to finesse this so they won’t get into trouble.

      Keep tabs on the job market in the industry you plan to work in so when you graduate, you’ll know what employers are looking for.
      Draft the resume so that there’s no chance of them telling your age. Ditto for the LI page and other places they might look to find out your age. For example, leave off the early degree or work experience. Even if you just leave dates off, they will ask you for them. Have had plenty of HR people contact me, tell me how interested they are in interviewing me, then the first question is: when did you graduate from xx college? After I respond, that’s the end of the interview. Even if I demur and explain how my experience meets the job description, they simply repeat, “when did you graduate from XX college?” So don’t give them anything to latch onto that might reveal your age.

      Many times, I am asked about skills not listed on the job description. Then that becomes the reason for the rejection. Either I don’t have the skill, or I don’t have enough knowledge about the skill. AND, here’s the best part, the skill in question is essential for the job. Yet, it was not included on the job description? So be ready for questions about things not even remotely part of the job description that the interviewer suddenly deems -in the middle of the interview- to be vital to the position.

      Salary. They will ASSUME you want top dollar because you have years of experience (albeit in another industry). In fact, you may not even be called in to interview because of this. So address this one in the cover letter.

      Also, they will wonder why you want to ‘start over’ or why you want to change industries. Have a good response for these inquiries. If you were any type of manager in your former industry, they might be wary if you are not pursuing management positions. So have a convincing response for this type of inquiry.

      If you can join a professional organization in the industry you wish to work in, that might help get past the age thing. You’ll make contacts who can potentially get you ‘in the door’ by knowing about your skills and not dismiss you solely due to age. This can also lend itself to job leads before they are posted.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Having a recent degree might actually help you with age discrimination if you leave off dates with earlier education.

    6. 867-5309*

      I echo the comment to keep your foot in the door by working or interning part-time while taking classes. We had a woman in her 40s or 50s who joined the global pr firm where I worked in a junior role. She also had a late career change and while it meant “starting over” in terms of salary and level, she was enthusiastic and we all liked working with her. It was no different than anyone else at that level.

      This might also be a good use-case for informational interviews before and while you’re attending school.

      Age discrimination is a legitimate problem but one that’s being talked about more openly, at least in my field of marketing.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Our law office is happy to have over-50s. There are no little children to go get from daycare and that age group doesn’t hesitate to stay an extra hour. No one shows up hungover, no one calls in sick one day and comes back much tanner the next. Everyone is mature and just gets on with it. There are one day classes if you’re rusty on a particular computer skill, but attitude is everything. The county bar has free brown bags to keep up with local rules, etc. and I would go to those if I were job hunting.

  34. April*

    I have a panel interview (government job) for a promotion next month. I’ve found out (because they told me) that two people that I sit on a Board with who work for other agencies will be on my panel. Theoretically I suppose it puts me at an advantage because they know me, but in reality it makes me more nervous because they know me. Any tricks/thoughts about this?

    1. StellaBella*

      There are some good links and resources here – search on panel interview tips, interviews with people you know, etc…. and you will see several great resources. Good luck!

    2. Middle Manager*

      I also work in government and have done panel interviews (both as the interviewer and the panelist). My best advice would be to be glad that you know them, because hopefully if you have a good reputation that will informally help you, but interview like you don’t know them. At least where I work, if the candidate doesn’t bring it up, we can’t consider it. So even if I know a person a work with has done amazing work on ABC Grant, if they don’t include that on their application or talk about it in the interview, we’re not supposed to consider it for hiring.

      I’ve had candidates say up front, and I’ve said up front too in the answer to the first board question (usually some variant of tell me about yourself and why you’re interested in this position) a disclaimer that I might be saying things they are aware of, but I want to discuss them in the context of how they will benefit me in the current position…

    3. Sophie Hatter*

      I was recently in an interview and one of the interviewers was an acquaintance of mine (she’s how I heard about the job). It actually made me much more comfortable/free to be myself, and I thought it was going to be awkward, but it wasn’t.

    4. Free Meercats*

      I’ve sat as an interviewer on those boards for multiple agencies – we assist each other quite a bit. What you don’t see as an interviewee is the discussion and instructions beforehand. This situation is directly addressed something like this, “If you know someone and feel you can’t objectively evaluate them, just note that at the top of your rating sheet and leave the rest blank; otherwise, proceed as normal.”
      The panelists knowing you will probably be neutral in the evaluation, as it should be.

  35. Erika22*

    Hi everyone!

    I’m in the classic dilemma of being (likely) to receive an offer either later today or Monday for Job A, but only having just done a first interview for Job B, which is the job I’d prefer. If I knew I wasn’t going to get Job B, I’d take Job A, but I’m worried about having to turn down Job A and then not get Job B.

    From an employers perspective, if I received an offer on Monday (23rd), is it unreasonable to ask until after the new year to give a response? Even though that’s over a week, I suspect most people on their end will be on holiday as well.

    The other thing is, I know Job B will still have more first round interviews to complete in the new year, so asking to give my response to Job A’s offer on Jan 2nd technically won’t help me with knowing if I’ll get an offer from Job B. I’ll be telling the recruiter for Job B that this is the case once I have an offer in hand, and see if there’s anything they can do, but any advice/commiseration from the commentariat would be lovely!

    1. StellaBella*

      If you get an offer from Company A today or Monday, can you ask them when they need an answer (and can you give one after say 5 or 6 Jan because you are traveling and it is the holidays)? And perhaps on 2 Jan check in with Company B about timelines? This gives a small buffer of a few days that may help? Otherwise no, this is difficult in general. Good luck tho!

    2. Batgirl*

      It’s not practically unreasonable because of the holiday period but you might be in danger of giving away a lack of enthusiasm. It’s a toss up on how that gets received: some bosses want you to weigh options others get offended they arent top pick.

      What is it that makes job B stand out so much for you? When my sister was in this situation recently she responded to the offer with “The work and career path is so exciting and just what I’m looking for but I am interviewing for a school based role where I’d work very family friendly hours. I am still very interested but can I have a weeks consideration while I discuss this with my partner?”

      They said they had flexi time etc and that she should consider it carefully.

    3. AAM superfan*

      Without knowing more about your situation, I can’t tell if this advice is helpful, but I will offer it anyway in case it is useful: I would accept the offer with Job A, but continue to pursue Job B. I don’t know if you can do that without Job B finding out, which could hurt your chances with B.

      But if your only concern is that you’re not being fair to Employer A, or you don’t want your resume to show such twitchy job-hopping, I would try to overcome those feelings. My suggestion offers you the greatest stability and opportunity. Your resume is yours to write, and if you get the dream job with B, you’ll look back contentedly at how you managed a challenging career maneuver. Good luck!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        This seems unethical to me. If you accept job A, you’re committing to them. And depending on the field, a flake-out like ‘taking Job A then taking B a month later’ may get around. You would certainly completely lose any opportunities at Employer A.

        Erika22, are you desperate to get out of your current position? If not, turn down Job A. There will probably be more offers that you like as much as A later, if you don’t get Job B.

        The time frame’s too long for you to play a waiting game with A, if B’s going to be holding 1st round interviews in January.

        1. Avasarala*

          Agreed. How would you like it if you accepted their offer but the employer continued to interview other candidates, since Candidate A was really their first choice?

    4. 867-5309*

      Even with a Jan 2 Decisions, that’s 11 days. Holidays or not, as a hiring manager I would expect a candidate doesn’t need that long unless you’re a senior executive evaluating an especially complex employment offer.

      If Job B is still at first round interviews, it could be end of January or February before they have an answer.

      Alison covers this situation in the blog – it’s common. One thing I wouldn’t do is accept position A and then resign if you get the role with position B. You’ve burned a bridge within that company and the people who work there. What if they end up at a company you want to work for in the future?

  36. Em*

    I’m not sure where to start. I’m very very frustrated with my job. I love the actual content of the work and the field, but unfortunately, it’s a niche field. Upper management is unproductive and demoralizing. Our turn over is incredibly high. Communication is incredibly poor. I’m not quitting and will probably give it at least another year (I’m presenting at some conferences in this field next year).

    How do you stick it out? How do you cope?

    On the plus side, we’re having an equity study done and our department is being investigated. I’m getting less shy about reporting serious issues I have.

    To clarify, it’s a university job. The department chair sucks and I really haven’t known where to go above her. But now I do. Here’s hoping for changes.

    1. Taking The Long Way Round*

      How do you stick it out? How do you cope?

      – concentrate on what you like about it
      – let go of the stuff you cannot change
      – have a full and varied life outside of work
      – when you’re done for the day, leave your work at work.
      That’s what I do.

      1. Em*

        That’s helpful. It’s hard for me to have a life outside of work because I commute an hour each way and have very little energy. But I’m working on prioritizing that. I do need to work on my thinking of the positive aspects though! I’m really happy to have a job I find meaningful.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Find something to love on the commute – audio books, favorite songs, picking up a co-worker on the way, something. Also see if there’s a way to reduce it, because an hour’s a bear. If you can’t work from home, can you do a compressed work week?

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I do the things TTLWR suggested.
      I also have been able to (mostly) do what AAM often suggests and detach myself and watch the drama as though it were a live action play happening right in front of me. In my head I am the Michael Jackson popcorn gif as I watch all the drama unfold.

    3. Holy Moley*

      Some things I have done to help make work more bearable when it sucks:
      -stress toys for my desk
      -listen to music/podcasts at work that cheer me up
      -make a bingo card for all the crazy/dumb things that happen at work and if I get a bingo in one day, treat myself to starbucks (center square is my boss reschedules a meeting she already had me reschedule)
      -look at work memes on my phone

      1. Em*

        I am absolutely going to make a bingo. I make work memes all the time.

        Funny podcasts do help!!

        I think it’s tough because it’s a field that can cause a lot of compassion fatigue. In addition to the huge work load, terrible management, etc.

  37. Ladybug*

    What’s a reasonable amount to spend on a work lunch with the company card? My manager asked me to take our new hire out for lunch on their first day because said manager was out of the office. I picked a sit down restaurant nearby. Our bill was $45. Manager advised me later that the price was too high and I should have picked a counter service place instead, as it would be cheaper. In my experience, the counter service places in that area would have probably cost us $30. The price difference seems negligible to me, especially in exchange for the impression it would have made on the new hire. What do you think? This is for a white collar, office type work environment so I definitely acknowledge the luxury already… just curious for others’ takes.

    1. Fikly*

      I think reasonable doesn’t matter, but your manager should have given you a budget before hand if it mattered that much.

    2. TableServicePlz*

      I think that capping a new hire lunch to $30, at least in my area, would seem penny wise and pound foolish. The whole point is to impress the new hire and get to know one another, and in all honesty, I just wouldn’t be that impressed by Panera and would find it difficult to carry on a meaningful work conversation in that environment.

      If your budget is really $30 (and not $45, which seems like a negligible difference for a large, white collar company), leadership should definitely make that clear, as it rules out just about everything but fast food around here (Panera would be tight–no fancy drinks!)

      At that point, just have some nice pastries in the break room that everyone can share/ congregate around? Arrange a couple of coffee chats for the new hire with some key team members?

      At my office, Panera or Chipotle is what you’d get for lunch in during a lunch meeting or something, not where you’d take a new hire on their first day.

    3. Lyudie*

      $45 for two people’s meals? That doesn’t seem so outrageous to me, and yes as a new hire I might side eye a company that will only take me to a counter service place as a “welcome to the team” lunch. And if it does matter that much, manager should have let you know beforehand that there are budget expectations.

    4. Rebecca*

      Is this just the one manager, or is the whole company culture like this? Like, do you need round up your own decent pens to write with, buy your own post it notes, and expenses like toilet paper, copier paper, toner, etc. are strictly scrutinized? I mean, if $15 is a budget breaker, maybe not do the lunch at all, just have coffee and donuts in the break room.

    5. Batgirl*

      Does your manager not know the area or do they just have poor judgement generally? Next time I’d say “Oh you mentioned going for counter service last time. Is Panera nice enough? Seems the best of the counter options round here”
      You never know, they might need that context to appreciate that spending more
      is actually better value.
      If they have terrible judgement then you’re either stuck with the counter environments, or possibly you can order in to the office if you have a nice space.

    6. ArtK*

      Does your company have an expense and entertainment policy? At a big company, stuff like that is likely written down. Next time, though, as what the budget is ahead of time since it seems that your boss is a penny-pincher.

      1. Indy Dem*

        This – most larger companies have this, and if your’s doesn’t, it should. FYI, my company lunch budget is up to $45 per person.

    7. Ladybug*

      Thanks for the perspectives, all! I cracked up at some of the responses.
      This was a rare arrangement for us, so I think we assumed we were both on the same page, budget-wise. Guess not. The company itself allows us autonomy and from what I’ve heard, other groups are not so… frugal. I still got a good meal out of it.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      $45 would be high for lunch for 2 for my area, but it’s not an expensive urban area. So, depends on where you are.
      It would’ve been better for your boss to set the cap for this first. But, eh!

  38. Taking The Long Way Round*

    How do you stick it out? How do you cope?

    – concentrate on what you like about it
    – let go of the stuff you cannot change
    – have a full and varied life outside of work
    – when you’re done for the day, leave your work at work.
    That’s what I do.

  39. StellaBella*

    This is a general comment – related to reading the many recent updates – that I would like some perspective on if people wish to share their perspective.

    Many of the updates involve solving the problem of having toxic bosses, or toxic work places, by the person most affected by the toxicity leave for a new, better role. Which I wholeheartedly approve of – removing oneself from the bad situation is most always for the best.

    But is the office bullying culture, the toxic workplace trend that I seem to be seeing in so many posts, letters, reflections from commenters here – is it increasing, or is it just that when things go badly we need to discuss them? (Figuring out a bias that when things are good there is no reason to write in, etc …maybe? Is it related to competition for things like pay rises, better office, etc?)

    I am genuinely asking if others see this – there are many papers and much research posted (look on researchgate dot net – for the phrase ‘bullying in the workplace’ as one example – literally hundreds of papers on the topic). It is clear this is not just a western phenomenon either – the first paper I see is published by a collaboration from Greece, Pakistan, UK, and Saudi Arabia (on researchgate search for the title ‘Measuring the Scale and Scope of WorkplaceBullying: An Alternative Workplace Bullying Scale’).

    The reason I would like some perspective on this is that for years now I have been thinking two things:
    1. People leave bad managers not jobs
    2. Empathy as one of the core attributes of a good manager, good employee, good teammate, is a tool we all need to have in our wheelhouse – a lack of empathy seems to be directly related to bullying, toxic behaviours, etc. An empathetic manager with strong skills in leading and managing and such is a gem, and a rare one at that, it seems. Part of a mentoring programme perhaps where workers are taught this and valued and (as noted above) can stay in a role for a while to grow and provide value to the firm – vs the turnover culture of just being a cog in a wheel?

    How can one change this trend? Is it a trend? Is it worth looking at? Does anyone have any insight into this?

    Thanks in advance – for also sharing how empathy and positive work environments you have encountered have been beneficial to your growth.

    1. Introvert girl*

      People also leave bad jobs, but just don’t write about it. I noticed that in the last couple of years a lot of companies lie about the functions they want filled, just to get highly qualified people. Like having a master’s degree and speak multiple languages to digitalise documents. I didn’t have any problems with the management, I was just hired for a position that didn’t exist. Quit after three months, but didn’t write about it. Now I’ve learned how to spot the signs, but it’s frustrating.

      1. megan*

        Hi. What are the signs for being hired for a position that doesn’t exist? This might currently be me.

        1. Introvert girl*

          In my case (a translator) it’s when a company wants you to work in an office during specific hours. Which usually means they actually don’t need a translator, but someone to do customer service by phone for a foreign country. But because no one wants to do it, they are looking for “traslators”. Also, when a job looks too good to be true: the national library is looking for people with master degrees for specific language departments. What they need, are people who will digitalise books 40 hours a week (which no one wants).
          Also when you browse the internet for job offers, watch out for these beauties:
          • Young dynamic team = we hire young graduates fresh out of college as they have no idea about the market value of their position
          • New flashy titles = administrative position but we want you to have a master’s degree and speak three languages because smart people learn faster
          • Fast paced work environment = we don’t have enough people to do the job and we don’t want to spend money on more, so you’ll be working overtime and weekends
          • Daily snacks/fruit/yoghurts in the kitchen = the job is really boring OR we don’t give out bonuses
          • Ability to grow = a very junior position that doesn’t pay much, no ability to grow
          • Companies that ask for your cv because they wat to work with you on a freelance base = they need your info to pretend you’re one of their employees to win a tender, you will never hear from them again (on the plus side: if they actually win the tender, the information becomes public and you can sue them)

          Some companies are also sneaky and the job offer does correspond with the actual job, but only for a couple of hours a week. The rest of the time you do something else.

    2. CastIrony*

      I think it’s worth looking at. I’m thinking of leaving a job because I’m terrified of a manager who thinks I’m rude (I have no idea how.) and has this loud, rude tone when she feels like talking to me. For example, when apologizing and explaining that I didn’t have the chance to clean a mess yet (and will do it now that I have the moment thanks to the judgy face she made earlier), she accused me of making excuses.

      This would make me sad because the main manager is the nicest person I’ve encountered in YEARS, and I’m still shocked by that. He makes me want to do my best and improve each day.

      1. StellaBella*

        Thanks for this comment and I hope that things get better for you! Can you do more work for the nice manager and less with the other one?

    3. Asenath*

      I doubt it’s a trend; it’s probably just that people are talking about bullying more. I haven’t actually done the research to back this up, though! People move for different reasons, too. I worked in a very small section of a much larger organization, and it’s often said that when you get a lot of turnover in an section, it’s because there’s something wrong there – organizational issues (eg the work is structured so that a position is undervalued but assigned too much work) or personal issues (well, bullying, or simply personality conflicts – not always from managers). Maybe that’s true – my little zone, which I considered pretty well ideal, has a lot of turnover lately. There’s a retirement, there’s two people moving on to better positions (more pay and responsibility), and there’s someone in a connected group on stress leave probably due to overwork. None of it has anything to do with bullying and only one (and that one not in the core group but run by a different management structure) has to do with overwork due to organizational changes. This is only an anecdote, though, and not data.

    4. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      I don’t know that bullying in the workplace is actually increasing – honestly I think it’s always been around, if not even worse in the past, but people have more opportunities to be heard today and are more open about speaking up.

    5. LQ*

      The bias of people don’t write in to say “everything’s great, so um…yeah just wanted to say everything’s great” is a big one. You’re going to get the occasional “Go get your dog.” Letter, but they will always be rare because they are frankly less interesting to write, to answer, and to publish. The bad stuff will always show up.

      Also, let’s not pretend that the past doesn’t have horrors. People being locked in buildings that ended up on fire and having to jump out of buildings and die…I mean they didn’t write letters either. But that is our actual past when it comes to toxic workplaces. And also actual toxic workplaces where people were poisoned by the radium they painted onto watch faces.

      It’s fine to say, “This shit can get better.” But I don’t think that the past was all unicorns and rainbows and we should go back the good ole days of working people to literal death. Recognize how the past was shitty, and how it was improved. (Unions, government regulations, competitive pressure.) And then you can apply those things to improving now.

      So, no, I don’t think things are fundamentally getting worse in the world of work. I think we are seeing problems that were always there, but now they are the worst of the problems we have so those are the ones we can solve. We don’t have to solve the problem of being locked in buildings and leaping to our death when a fire happens. That’s a good thing. That these are the problems we (mostly) have now is a good thing. (Though that’s not entirely true and part of this is just the people who do suffer those conditions don’t write into the ask a manager blog. The people who write an advice column are going to be people who’ve had the problems of a literally toxic workplace solved and are now trying to build on top of that and keep making it better.)

      1. StellaBella*

        Very valid points. And yes workers are better heard now, there are unions now in many workplaces, and rights are better. It does seem that the microcosm of the AAM letters I have been reading is the issue as well as personal bias I am sure. :) But I do wonder what will happen to our workforces in the future.

        1. LQ*

          That’s not to say that we shouldn’t keep pushing, but I think it’s really important to understand where you are standing and it is on the shoulders, and because of the battles, of the people who came before you.

          I do think about the things that my niece and nephew’s kids will look at my generation in horror over. There’s always going to be something. Something that might not seem like a big deal at all, something that is so normal that no one would consider it, that with the ability to see past the radium and jerkface bosses becomes so much clearer. The next 10 years don’t seem that hard to guess at, but 25 years…I don’t know that we have that much, or that accurate of, foresight.

          I look forward to learning the heinous thing I’m doing today so I can stop, I just can’t see it because I’m busy fighting the battles I need to fight today so they can fight the next battle.

      2. TiffIf*

        Also, let’s not pretend that the past doesn’t have horrors. People being locked in buildings that ended up on fire and having to jump out of buildings and die…I mean they didn’t write letters either. But that is our actual past when it comes to toxic workplaces. And also actual toxic workplaces where people were poisoned by the radium they painted onto watch faces.

        I just finished reading Kate Moore’s The Radium Girls. It is horrifying.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      I think bullying letters come to AAM a lot because people want outside perspective on their situation. Most cases of “I have a master’s and the company wants me to digitize documents” are clear-cut, but questions about bullying are more varied and subtle.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      I actually researched this in my field for my masters degree and I do presentations and webinars on it.
      1. The workplace bullying institute website is a very good resource and they have several years of surveys available so you can compare.
      2. There are laws against bullying in other countries so you will see research is farther along in other countries.
      3. In my field, there was a call to focus on this in 2009 at a major conference but no actual research/data collection until 1 paper in 2016 and 2 in 2018. So the tide is turning and we have more facts fueling the focus on it.
      FYI, non-profits have more bullying (big surprise to AAM readers, I know) and my particular type of non-profit has more than many other types.
      4. The field of nursing has done a lot of research and it is interesting.
      5. It is costly to employers and I think that is making employers focus on it.
      6. I think the topic, not the problem, is exploding or at least increasingly visible in online blogs and articles. No idea why it is trendy now but I like to think Millennials were all like, “WTF are y’all doing?” and “why are you putting up with this st*t” so the rest of us realized we were in Plato’s cave and headed for the light.

    8. Tau*

      Going to add another voice saying “confirmation bias, selection bias and/or people talking about this when they didn’t before could explain this”.

      My counterpoint: I’ve left two jobs in the past three years and neither were because of bad managers. Job #1 I left because of Brexit (I was an EU citizen working in the UK and decided to nope out); the work environment was majorly chaotic to the point where there were… like… three or four people who could have plausibly claimed to be my manager at any given moment, and I got on OK with all of them (one was relentlessly negative in a way I found annoying, but in no way abusive, and he quit anyway). Job #2 I left because of a multitude of reasons which also kind of boil down to “seriously chaotic work environment” but my direct boss was fantastic and I’d work for him again in a heartbeat. I didn’t write in about either of them, although I did post a few questions in the open threads.

      I do suspect that factors that influence this are…
      – I’m a software developer, which is an employee’s market right now. Your boss needs to keep you happy because they might not be able to replace you. I suspect that on average, work environments get worse the tighter the job market is for your role.
      – I’m in Europe (UK, then Germany) which not only has stronger employee protection laws than the US but also (at least I get the impression for the two countries I’ve mentioned) tends to have more in the way of training schemes for junior people/new grads/etc.

    9. Aggretsuko*

      I think the way to change the trend would to be to fire the bullies. However, most places do not want to do anything about bullying. My workplace has actually done something about when I got bullied (not firing though), and another girl I know’s work got rid of her bullies by promoting(!)/transferring them, but most absolutely won’t do a thing. They’d rather keep the bullies, especially since most of them know the “kiss up, kick down” protocols and thus kiss the asses of their superiors and make themselves liked by them.

      That is generally why the bullying target has to leave.

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      We don’t know if it’s a trend because people haven’t been looking at it for long. But a lot of things are now just more in our consciousness because the internet brings us more data. Read some of Bill Gates’ ‘Good News’ posts, it’s fascinating to see all the things that don’t stick in our anxious public mind.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      Is it that work-place bullying is increasing or that having a safe forum where one can discuss work-place bullying increasing?

    12. KoiFeeder*

      I don’t think it’s empathy that you mean, here. Plenty of people have empathy, the ability to understand someone’s emotions based on non-language cues and respond emotionally to someone else’s feelings. But that has nothing to do with the desire to help. Honestly, a lot of bullies have empathy, and in spades. They recognize emotions and have emotions in response to those, it’s just that the emotions they have when creating negative emotions are usually things like glee. There are people who feel nothing at all for the distress of others and still want to help them, just as there are people who are totally aware that someone is suffering and understand wholly why that suffering takes place and are happy about it.

    13. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For what it’s worth, in 12+ years of writing this column, I don’t think there’s been an appreciable difference in the level/amount of awfulness I see in letters.

      1. StellaBella*

        This is good to know. I think all the replies to my question and different perspectives are helpful too. Thank you.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Office bullying is an interesting topic.
      I don’t think it’s “new,” I believe it’s something that always existed (and I remember my dad talking about how they basically bullied one guy in the factory he worked at, where some really MEAN pranks were the norm). I’m horrified, but that seems to have been the norm in the 50s-70s and like zero protections. Minorities, immigrants, and women usually bore the brunt of the torment and bullying.

      Today, people talk more about office bullying and yet it still goes on. The reasons today seem to be somewhat shifted to maybe fearfulness about ‘protecting ones job’ if they bully feels threatened, than race or sex (though I’m sure that still happens often too). But other times, it’s also just a power play by one person over another.

      I was the victim of a BullyBoss some years ago. I believe it happened because a) guy was just an asshole, b) I was in an insecure place financially having come off a long layoff–he took advantage of that, c) company was having financial difficulties, d) he felt threatened I had a degree and was working on my masters–while he had none, and e) I stood up for myself, and the more I pushed back, the more gaslighting and bullying he did.

      I left that job a wreck, thinking I couldn’t do even the most BASIC things right, even though I was finishing up my degree and was doing great with my classwork. According to him, I couldn’t even write a letter correctly or speak on the phone coherently. I knew he was full of shit… but still having that kind of thing berated into your brain every day is kind of akin to brainwashing. You really do start to believe YOU are the problem and are incompetent. It took a long time to get over this place, and to this day 10 years later I still panic when getting called into a manager’s office.

  40. Kuddel Daddeldu*

    I asked to reduce my work from (very nominal) 39 hours a week to 32, meaning from a 5-day week to Mondays to Thursdays, any my manager agreed.
    Any suggestions on how to make this work best?
    Background: Financially I’m very comfortable even with 80% of my former salary, so I am most interested in how others managed the transition from a 50+ hour (in reality) week to a more sedate.pace.

    1. londonedit*

      Are you looking for advice on how to manage the work side of things, or how to get used to it personally?

      From a work point of view, I think communication from your boss is going to be key – people need to be clear on the fact that you’re only going to be working Monday-Thursday from now on, so if they need something from you, they have to ask for it in good time because you’re not going to be there on a Friday. And your boss needs to be clear on how they want you to manage things – are they fine with you just heading off on a Thursday afternoon or would they like a short update on your work and any issues that may arise on Friday? Will anyone be covering your work on Fridays, or will people need to learn that you’re not going to be around and the work will have to wait until Monday?

      1. irene adler*

        Are you expected to do the 39 hours’ worth of work in those 32 hours or will some of your tasks be off-loaded to someone else? If someone else will be taking on some of your tasks, then figure out which ones are best to give to others and still keep you to your 32 hour week.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I have been training colleagues in crucial parts of my work and will also hopefuzhire an assistant soon. My work is in consulting, involving heavy travel (45+ countries in the last 5 years) and fairly specialized; there are maybe 500 experts globally in my field. I will generally work Monday to Thursday but sometimes shift my “free day” around as needed (in 2019, I worked on 28 weekendsor public holidays).
          My boss has announced to the team that I’ll be generally off on Fridays and I will set my email to auto-reply and work phone to voicemail (in emergencies, the office can text me, of course, same as on weekends).
          My main concern is how to make sure I’m not slipping back into bad habits bordering on burnout, working late, writing reports on long flights (my worst month was over 80 hours in the air) and not getting enough quality sleep.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            And no, I do not plan to cram my current workload into less hours. The last year I was working way more than my official hours (I’m exempt). I do expect to work more than the new official hours (32) but way less than 40 on average.

    2. JR*

      I work part-time and I find it helpful to track my hours, even though I’m exempt. It gives me a sense of how much I’m working, so that I feel comfortable working less in slow weeks, to make up for the weeks I’m working more. It also gives me the data I need to make a case for reducing my load or increasing my pay, if necessary. I use the Harvest app to track and I don’t obsess over exactly what counts (the way I did when I was tracking time for client billing).

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Good advice!
        I do that all the time as we have to bill our time on projects or overhead (like training or sales activities). Beyond that, I try to put in a meaningful description so that I can see where the time went – not always easy to be factual and precise; how do you write “waiting for X to arrive for our planned meeting” or “reworking Y’s report to conform to our quality standards” without sounding accusatory?

  41. nate333*

    I’m really struggling to go past my abusive experiences in my last job. I’ve now quit without having another one lined up because staying would pose a threat to my health.

    The work times were extreme. I was ignored and criticized strongly for small mistakes no one even mentioned if others commit them. The communication was horrible.

    Now, I’m out but I still need to accept that that happened and that people I considered reasonable and friendly while starting lied about me (they said my performance was horrible) and abused me. Has anyone gone through that? What helped?

    1. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Yes, therapy.
      Getting another job. I volunteered first – that was helpful, just meeting other nice people.
      Time… and being kind to myself.
      Well done on putting yourself first.

    2. Stephanie*

      It took me a very long time to reshape my thinking after I left a toxic job. Volunteering is a good step toward normalcy.
      Read AAM. It helps to hear from others what normal workplaces are like, and it helps to hear that your perception of the craziness is not wrong.
      And honestly, therapy is not a bad idea of you can swing it.

    3. StellaBella*

      Therapy if you can afford it. If not get some books at the library or online resources in mindfulness and ways to cope after being bullied. Also – if you search this site, there are over 3,000 links to letters and advice that mention bullying, so you can also look here for advice. Good luck, and I am sorry this happened to you. You can emotionally get through this, with time and guidance, and know that being bullied makes them horrible people.

    4. epi*

      Yes. When I reported that someone in my office was stalking me, everyone– and I mean everyone including people in HR, our office of civil rights (it’s a university), counseling center, you name it– responded with emotional abuse and gaslighting so extreme, when I list it all out in a factual way it sounds too improbable to be true.

      I would strongly recommend therapy for you. Being exposed to ongoing abuse, especially by people you trusted or depended on, is a severe form of trauma that can fundamentally change your worldview and the way you relate to others. You deserve to take it seriously and access anything you think might help you, even if it seems like ‘too much’.

      If access to mental health care is tough for you right now between jobs, you can start by focusing on other activities. Even once you get into therapy, you’ll need to do other stuff for it to really improve your life. You can start that other stuff now.

      Get a journal. If you prefer to type, look into Standard Notes which will encrypt your journal and let you sync it between devices. Start reaching out to friends– talk about your situation or don’t, but build your connection and get some love. Exercise. Identify some music that is happy and makes you feel good, and start having it on all the time. In fact, try to find something that you enjoy for every sense and use it to make more nice things happen to you. If you’re having trouble sleeping or controlling your thoughts about what happened, you may be interested in meditation, yoga, or relaxation/breathing exercises to help you learn to control those. Look for a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy workbook on anxiety, depression, or trauma and start working through it on your own. And layer your strategies: exercise with a friend. Cook with your favorite playlist on. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful.

      Wishing you a better new year.

  42. DipPlated*

    I’d like to transition to a remote job but don’t know where to start.

    I have a project management (PMP, etc) background, but have been working for a niche U.S. government agency overseas the last few years. I’d like to leave and work on the private-sector side (government adjacent, contractor, etc) in a remote position that would allow me to work from anywhere. My field is international development.

    But… where do I start? I’m overwhelmed by Indeed, Devex, Linked In, and all the other sites out there that sometimes have remote options. Since I’ve been inside the government the last couple of years, I feel I’ve missed out on private sector hiring trends and getting back up to speed, and I’m rusty on the skills that I used in my pre-government jobs.

    International development is behind the times on remote work and I’m finding that the big players in the industry don’t even consider remote positions in the way that other government adjacent employers often do.

    Anyone out there in the AAM universe have any suggestions for how to better target my search?

    1. 867-5309*

      Take a look at Booz and similar consulting companies – this will give your search some direction. Booz also does a lot of government contract work so your experience would be relevant.

      Note that most require travel so while you can live anywhere, you’ll spend time going onsite to clients.

  43. Disheartened*

    I have been job searching for well over a year now since I graduated with a Bachelor’s (non-technical).

    I’ve received 40+ rejections in the past year: when the automated filters chime in, that number more than triples. I have gotten interviews via phone, video chat and in-person: typically in batches of three to five over a couple weeks, then nothing for a month or two. Sometimes I hear back. Usually I don’t.
    I’ve been ghosted. Told to try again in six months, a year. Told the in-person interview was canceled *after* I showed up (on time, I add). I’ve been advised that I’m overqualified for entry-to-mid-level office work, but lack the experience for anything else. I remain rehireable by all my previous employers but never heard back after reapplying. I’m now down to retail and have been rejected there, too.

    I don’t have the funds anymore for someone to go over my resume, and my cover letters get me positive comments. I know the problem is with *me*: I’m on the autistic spectrum, right where Asperger’s used to be. ~85% of autistic adults *with a degree* are unemployed. I don’t like being in that statistic: I can and have held jobs! I just have an extremely difficult time getting them in the first place!

    There’s supposed to be autism-positive companies out there, and maybe even resources for those of us on the spectrum to link up with possible careers. I just haven’t had any success making contact and I’m at my wit’s end.

    1. StellaBella*

      In terms of autism-spectrum-positive firms I have seen that “six companies—Ford Motor, DXC Technology, EY, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and SAP—formed the Autism at Work Employer Roundtable to share best hiring and workplace practices and to help other companies see the return on investment in hiring autistic employees. …. Companies in the Autism at Work Employer Roundtable are not the only ones to hire autistic employees. Google, HP, Salesforce, and others also have similar programs.” Neurodiverse employee forums are also a good place to search…. In 2012, Specialisterne launched the Autism Advantage program in the U.S., working with SAP and Microsoft to launch successful autism employment programs. I hope this helps and I hope these resources can lead you to finding a good job soon. Best of luck!

      1. Disheartened*

        I haven’t heard of Specialisterne: I’ll be looking into it. I’ve applied for positions with Microsoft but heard nothing back. I’m guessing there’s a large number of qualified candidates.

        I posted due to a particular moment of expectant disappointment (“…again?” *sigh*) after I received an email stating that my second-round interview was cancelled, the same day I was informed by a different company that the first-round phone call I never received could not be rescheduled. Thanks for the suggestions.

    2. TableServicePlz*

      I had an awful, long search–one that left me at my whit’s end as well! I was targeted and thoughtful, searched for hours everyday, applied to jobs I believed I would be a perfect fit for, and hand crafted my materials to fit each role for which I was applying. I would track each application and ruminate over whether I would get that particular job. I got interviews, phone and in person, and I even got two offers, both of which evaporated for different reasons, so some nibbles, but never landed a job. I was at my lowest point, personally and professionally.

      Then, I decided, F it! I am going to write a fairly generic cover letter, tweaking only what is absolutely necessary, and use a more scatter shot approach of applying to anything I think I am even remotely qualified for, whether I think it’s a good job or not. I sent in ~50 application over a couple of days, and got a couple of interviews. One of the roles I interviewed for, I didn’t receive, but while interviewing, was asked to interview for a different role with higher pay and more responsibility. I interviewed for that role and got the job, making about 40% than I would have accepted.

      In my darkest days, I would not have believed it. It was only through perseverance and just hanging on through the toughest times that I got through it. It’s possible, and I am rooting for you!

    3. Fellow Aspie*

      Whilst it may be a case of “the boss protests too much, methinks”, how about looking for a company with diversity and inclusion as an active part of its work policies? Personally, that’s one of the reasons I was attracted to my current job (note: I don’t speak for them and all fangirling is my own). Additionally, I don’t know whether graduate programs are exclusive to very recent grads or whether you’d qualify, since I’m on a slightly different program, but maybe look into a graduate scheme as either you’d find a company (and job at a company) that works for you or you’d have, say, 2 years of experience under your belt. If I remember right, not all the members of my company’s grad scheme work in tech, so this isn’t just a technical thing.

      (By the way, if you do decide to research the company I work for, it’s the Royal Bank of Canada. Again (sorry for yelling but this is an important part of the social media policy and I don’t want to get fired), ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. Having said that (again), I would definitely look them up. They treat people with all sorts of disabilities – physical, mental, temporary, permanent, since birth or since six months ago – wonderfully. And despite the name, they’re big enough to have a reach in several countries – not only Canada, the US and my native London. but also some smaller offices in other places. Still not an official spokesperson (just a rabid fangirl), but check what’s available if you like.)

      Massive Jedi hugs to you and good luck with your job search!

    4. 867-5309*

      What kind of work are you looking to do? “Office work” is quite broad. Have you tried staffing firms?

      If there’s a gap in your work experience, then I’d look to volunteer somewhere.

      1. Disheartened*

        “Office work” is broad, yes, and partially deliberately so. Specifically, my experience is primarily in problem solving (usually in a CSR-type position) and data/ticket organization/cataloging (not data science, though I wish I’d gone for that). I do well with the former and excellently with the latter. Seeing as I don’t have A+ certification nor any interest in headed that way, I cannot pursue the majority of tech support-style work in my area. I may have to get it just to get it, though. I’m not an upwardly-mobile person: I *prefer* working the support role over the frontline. Its been…commented on. I have zero interest in people-managing.

        “Gap” is a nice way to put it. Following graduation, I left my (dead-end, no raises, no changes, but put me through school) last position of over three years to travel for a planned-for-over-a-year three months. My initial search was the “apply for what interests you” approach since I had the funds to hold down the fort for a fair while, but now I’m at the, “I need income *now*,” mark.

        I’m with three temp agencies at the moment. Nada.

    5. Fikly*

      I am also autistic, and I think it’s easy to blame ourselves for unemployment. And yes, the statistics are horrifying. But on the other hand, over a year of job searching fresh out of undergrad in today’s economy is not super unusual. So I don’t know that it is you, without further evidence.

      As for overqualified, can you ask what makes you seem overqualified? And if possible, leave that bit off your resume?

      1. Disheartened*

        I’ve been explicitly told for seven positions (of course I keep track!), including three through a temp agency, that it’s my *Bachelor’s* combined with my multi-industry employment background. that makes me overqualified. My BA is an admittedly relatively-generic Humanities category with a focus on written communication.

        One position not included in that number I did not pursue due to an untenable commute was a mid-level document processing in a legal office. Similar positions with other companies advertised a preference for several years of experience or a Bachelor’s equivalent education. The hiring manager informed me I was overqualified due to having a Humanities degree. At the time, I thought pursuing further clarification would be overstepping my bounds.

        …I remain confused, as the described cataloging work was right up my alley.

        1. Fikly*

          Ah. So this might actually be an autism thing. What one company wants as a qualification for a position may not be the same for another company, even though the positions seem identical! So I might take the degree off your resume unless specifically mentioned in the requirements, and see what happens.

          I once had an interview where I was told I was overqualified, and then the interviewer spent the entire time telling me what jobs I should be applying for instead. I am still confused as to why he interviewed me.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Do I have this right? You have a diverse background in problem-solving & explanation, direct customer contact so you have had immediate feedback over time about those explanations, data organization, a writing heavy degree, and you’re looking for a back-office role with less customer contact?
          Look into technical writing. At the basic level it means reading engineering/marketing docs ‘translating’ that into instructions for less technical readers, and questioning the design staff where their docs are contradictory or incomplete.
          Certain industries may require specific technical BS/MS (e.g. some pharmaceuticals and aerospace), but in many, it’s simply easier to teach the tech than the writing skills.

      2. The Charlestonian*

        But on the other hand, over a year of job searching fresh out of undergrad in today’s economy is not super unusual

        Today’s economy is quite possibly the best in the modern history of the country.

        1. Fikly*

          How are you defining modern history? Because if you’re including the last 30 years, I’m going to have to laugh, a lot.

          Unemployment figures are incredibly deceptive because they do not count people who have given up looking for work, because they’ve been searching for so long. Or the people who are underemployed, and by underemployed I am including those who are working full time but cannot afford rent because of lack of a living wage.

          It’s easier to find a job out of college than in 2010, sure. But that’s only if modern history is the last decade, and I beg to differ there.

    6. LilySparrow*

      This is a bit of a lateral approach, but do you disclose your diagnosis? I know that’s not something anyone usually wants to do, for good reason. But if you are repeatedly getting cut after first-round interviews, it could possibly help.

      Kind of like the advice for interviewing with a rash on your face, or something. Maybe you could identify a behavioral trait that people find offputting, and “lampshade” it at the beginning.

      So if we took the stereotypical example of eye contact, maybe something like,

      “By the way, I should mention that I make eye contact a lot less than average, and some people find that awkward. It’s nothing personal, it’s because I’m on the spectrum. It’s never been a problem in my other CSR jobs. I think it actually helps me listen more closely and get to the solution quickly.”

      I don’t know if that would work for you, just throwing it out there. If you’re in a bind already, it might be worth taking a risky approach.

      1. Disheartened*

        I’ve started disclosing up front in the last couple of months. Hard to say if there’s been any actual success, there, though. I had two rejections last week: one where the second interview was cancelled day-of (‘we’re not moving forward with you’) and one where I just wasn’t chipper enough for their office culture. >.>

        Mind you, I’m not a *dour* person by any stretch and have a strong appreciation for snark…which I do not indulge in during interviews!

        I think it *is* an approach I need to stick with, however, and I do appreciate it being brought up. Disclosing after the hiring offer at my last position really smoothed things over with a manager that would’ve otherwise been difficult to communicate with.

        Interesting note: my problem is that I stare too much (at noses and eyebrows…) rather than not maintaining apparent eye contact at all. Overcorrection from when my lack of eye contact was pointed out in my teens, 15 years before my diagnosis. So that never helps.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Interesting. I didn’t mean to assume anything about your own traits, sorry. It was just an example that lent itself to thinking maybe interviewers are misinterpreting something that can be cleared up.

          I wish you the best of luck, and hope you land something very good very soon!

  44. Past my last straw*

    We’ve been down 2 staff positions, including our supervisor. Now her boss has left. We haven’t been contacted by anyone to say that we’d be working for BigGuy at HQ in another state, but that’s what the organization chart says in Outlook. I tried to talk to HR about who we go to with the minutia and she seemed offended that I’d want to know.
    It’s just one more last straw, so draft is soon to be polished. So much for a relaxing Christmas vacation.

    1. Lyudie*

      “I tried to talk to HR about who we go to with the minutia and she seemed offended that I’d want to know.”

      I don’t have anything helpful to say but wowwwwwww. It seems pretty basic to know who you need to go to if something goes sideways??

    2. ArtK*

      Reach out to the BigGuy. He’s the one on the chart, so it’s his call on how to deal with this. Frankly, with at least two open levels in the org chart, he should be on top of the issue. I’m not surprised HR was huffy — who gives you direction and support isn’t in their purview.

  45. Breast Solidarity*

    I wand Alison to do a Carolyn Hax-style Hootenany of Office Christmas Party outrageous stories!

    I really need to the laughs :)

    1. Liane*

      Usually there is a call for people to share such tales and related incidents, like really bad, mean-spirited, or downright inappropriate gift exchange presents.
      If you’re new(ish) to AAM, use the site search to find them. Also there have been 1 or 2 non-holiday posts on “crazy things people do over food in the office” that you may enjoy.

  46. 4 this need to be anon*

    Hello all. Small story and work vent – not sure if I need advice yet. I am on medical leave, and I work for an organization that is bound by law to honour medical leave and cannot fire you while you are on leave (I am outside the US).

    I had sent some questions to HR about what happens in the next few months as my contract is currently set to end before my treatments end. The HR people sent it to my boss. Boss tends to want to discuss things in person or on the phone and never ever wants a paper trail. Boss sent me an email asking me to call. I replied to the email, and copied the HR people and asked for replies in email to basic questions. I am annoyed as boss did some other things to me and a few former employees this year with a lot of verbal stuff and no written trail. So one of the former teammates counselled me to always write things down and follow up …’per our discussion here is what we said, any comments would be appreciated if. this is not the case…’ We will see what happens.

    I am ill, I have a lot of medical appointments each week, I do not feel good, it is the holidays, and I am not going to have a call without documenting it as it may affect many things in terms of insurance. Sorry this is a bit of a whine but I can see the boss trying to talk me into things and it pisses me off.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think your friend is right. Let your boss have their verbal plays, but then go right ahead and document it in an email. Make a record of everything said verbally in a journal too. Make notes as they talk.

      I am so sorry you are dealing with this stress on top of feeling ill. How can that possibly help!

      If your boss fails to answer any questions put that down in the email and give them a deadline for a response.

      Is there any way you can job hunt while on leave? My other tip would be to access a union and get them to do the heavy lifting while you’re unwell.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      What are your local laws around recording phone calls ?

      Because, if it’s legal, I’d suggest having a discussion with your boss over the phone. Record it.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      In a phone call or conversation, repeat what they said, you want me to do x?, you think y is a possible solution? And then stop talking. And have the phrase, I need to think about that or a similar one handy so you dont agree to anything.

      And follow every conversation with an email, I want to confirm, you suggested x, I will review that and get back to you.

  47. Introvert girl*

    It’s been a very weird week. I was promised a promotion (in title and raise) after saving a project and not only finishing it but adding to an increase of value for the company. When receiving the title my manager told me that the title of senior lama groomer corresponds with a salary of 45 lama coins, which is exactly the salary I make now. It’s also less than the starting salary of all the junior people in my position (yes, I’m being paid below market rate). He kept on apologising and said he thought I was earning way less. He’s new and started on the same level as myself and I really like him, as a person and as a manager, but I just wasn’t expecting this.
    Has anyone ever encountered something like this? Is this a mistake or a strategy?
    We’ll have a talk after the New Year, but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

    1. LQ*

      If your company does pay bands/grades/levels in a way that is highly structured (or you’re in a union environment) this is just a mistake most likely. Especially if he’s a new manager. It’s all worse and more confusing than you possibly can imagine. Assuming it’s some kind of highly structured place like that (if you’ve got titles corresponding to salaries that way you likely are) then one of the things to ask for is if there is anyway to reevaluate the title and the role and if there are any other options for you. I’d definitely bring it up again, once you get the bitter out, and just come up with a hey, what can we do, what are the options. If he knows you’re underpaid that’s really good. Can he authorize to pay for overtime? What other titles are out there that might fit for you? Are there bonuses that are available?

      I’d really assume it’s a mistake and if he’s good, one he’ll be kicking himself over for a long time. But pay bands and titles and ugh it’s all more awful than you think to make sense of. Another thing that’s a much MUCH longer term fix is for him to do a push to reevaluate pay for the whole band. This generally requires more clout than a new manager would have and would require burning a lot of political capital at a lot of places, but it is entirely worth planting that seed too.

      1. Introvert girl*

        My company is not really structured, overtime is paid but almost doesn’t exist in my department. There are no bonuses. I think you’re right and it’s just a mistake as he was also the one who suggested the promotion (before I asked for it). We’ll see after the holidays. :)

        1. LQ*

          I think it’s still worth bringing up the overtime piece. I would have said it was something that didn’t exist in my department 2 years ago (and it didn’t), but when I finally broke down and asked my boss about it he granted it and changed things up so that I could get basically as much as I needed to get the job done, but also to get me paid at a much more in line with my work. It won’t hurt to bring it up as an option, especially if you actually do work, or need to work the overtime.

          If he’s new he might be struggling with how to get this done even if it’s unstructured so keep a bit of pressure on him.

          After the holidays is a good time to sit down and come back at it too. Think of it as something you’re going to fix together and you’ll both do better with it.

    2. montescristo1985*

      It almost has to be a mistake. Even if they were trying to lowball you on the raise, they’d at least have given something.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        I think it’s possible that it was deliberate, too. At one of my former companies, you had to ask for a raise, or else you wouldn’t get one, because TPTB didn’t see any reason in giving people raises if they were happy with what they were earning. So, after you asked your supervisor for a raise, if he felt that you deserved it, he would tell the office manager. If she thought that you deserved it, she would tell the Comptroller. If he thought that you deserved it, he would tell the Treasurer. If he thought that you deserved it, he would tell a VP, and your raise requet would have to go through all of the VPs, and then the EVP, and if he thought that you deserved a raise, he would tell the President, and if he thought that you deserved a raise, he would tell the Chairman, and if the Chairman thought that you deserved a raise, you would get one.

        There were a number of problems:

        1) If your supervisor left the company before your raise request reached the Chairman, you were told that there was no record that you had asked for a raise, and you were told to ask your new supervisor for a raise. The new supervisor would say that there was no way he could determine that you were entitled to a raise, because he was new and was unfamiliar with your work.

        2) If, before your raise request reached the Chairman, the office manager left the company, again, your raise request disappeared into thin air, because the new office manager would tell you that there was no record indicating that the previous office manager had approved your raise request. You were told to ask your supervisor to submit another raise request on your behalf.

        3) I always got a raise when I requested one (until TPTB changed the way they gave out raises), so I don’t know what happened when employees weren’t approved to get a raise? Were they specifically told that they weren’t getting a raise, or were they forced to conclude it when months went by, and no one said anything to them, and their salary didn’t change? I don’t know. Were they told which person didn’t think that they deserved a raise? Did they have the opportunity to say, for example, “Mr. EVP, I was told that you didn’t approve my raise, but were you aware that during the past year, I accomplished such-and-such?” And the EVP would say, “No, I had no idea. We’re not in the same department. How would I know a thing like that?” And did they have the opportunity to say, “Well, in that case, I would appreciate it if you would reconsider.” I don’t know. For all I know, they were told that they weren’t getting a raise but were not told who didn’t think they were entitled to one, because that information was confidential.

        Eventually, the company changed the way they gave out raises, and they said that a committee would be formed to evaluate all of the employees at the same time and decide who was worthy of getting a raise. Unfortunately, the committee was never able to meet. We were told that someone was always out sick or on vacation or on a business trip. We weren’t told who was on the committee, supposedly to protect their privacy, but I think that it was to prevent us from saying, “Every single member of the committee was here in the office every single day the last two weeks.”

        It was only after I asked for a raise that my supervisor told me about this committee. There hadn’t been a general announcement. I waited six weeks, and I heard nothing about a meeting. Then I found out that others who had asked for a raise a few months before I did were complaining about the committee not meeting, and they found new jobs and left. I found a new job and gave two weeks notice at the end of July. I told the office manager, who was very upset, that I got tired of waiting for the committee to meet. She promised me that the committee would meet before the end of the year. I said that I didn’t want to wait.

        On December 30, I had lunch with three ex co-workers, and I was very surprised to find out that the committee still hadn’t met. I said that the office manager had promised me that the committee would meet before the end of the year. “Maybe it will meet tomorrow,” I said. They didn’t think so.

        I eventually found out that as of the following March, the committee still hadn’t met. I don’t know what happened after that. But while I was looking for a new job, I had learned that what that company did was illegal – inventing a committee that never meets that’s supposed to decide on raises – because the company had a contract with the federal government. And I would eventually find out that a future company broke the law two different ways with the way they ran their 401(k) plan. I found this out when I worked for a CPA firm.

        So, when there’s a problem with money, and the employee seems to getting the short end of the stick, I tend to believe that the company is screwing the employee over.

    3. Dealtwiththis*

      I don’t have any advice but I wanted to chime in that I have had this happen. My position and title changed internally (although really, it was just to better match with the work that I had already been doing), and I got a call from HR during the transition telling me that “I was lucky they weren’t going to cut my pay because the previous position was on track to make much more than my current position”. I was brand new in the work world at the time and didn’t push back because I was so glad to be making the transition at all.

    4. Product Person*

      There’s something fishy in what you told us. How can the salary for the senior role (a promotion) be the same as your current role, and also less than the starting salary of junior people in your current role?

      If the starting salary of junior people in your role is higher than your current salary?, how could your manager think you were learning less? And how could he expect you to take a senior role for less rhan the junior folks do?

      Good for you to be planning another talk. Make sure you don’t accept more responsibility at the same low salary–we’ve all seen how expecting to be able to renegotiate later doesn’t work.

      Good luck! If they don’t give you a raise, I’d put the successful project in my resume and start aggressively looking.

      1. Introvert girl*

        Thank you for all your help! The fact is that my role has tripled since the summer. Overtime is paid in my company, but has to be approved by higher management. I work quite fast and hate doing overtime so I only had around 5 hours in the last 6 months.
        Also, something else happened a couple of days later. You see, in September our then current boss had a meeting with all of us to tell us that we have till December to choose if we want to work from home full time or from the office with occasional HO. This was due to the company growing and this way those who preferred to work from home full time, would give their desks to newcomers. The guy left in October. My manager is one level below him. In November I asked my manager if this policy was still valid and I was told that the policy was actually an idea from upper management and still valid. A couple of days ago we had another meeting telling us that the policy has changed and it will be as it was before: desk with occasional HO. The fact that this was done after we managed to finish the project which tripled our workload makes me uneasy. I’m now on HO till the beginning of January, but feel a bit used by the company.
        I’m very tired and started therapy. I want to avoid a burnout.

  48. Beth Jacobs*

    I posted here last week about not getting a reach position. I’d like to thank LQ, Catsaber, Not So New Reader and Wishing you well for their kind words.
    Well, this Wednesday the organisation called me back. Their first choice turned them down in favour of an internal position at her current company. I got the job afterall! It’s a huge step up in responsibility, a 50% pay rise and a very good pension contribution plan. I’m so happy and also grateful to the AskaManager site, which was so helpful when drafting my cover letter and interviewing.
    I am a bit anxious of course – will I be good at the job? It’s much more independent than what I’m doing now. But if I didn’t have what it takes, they wouldn’t have hired me. Also looking for some tips on avoiding lifestyle creep – I already make decent money but save about 10 %, I’m hoping to be diligent about putting most of the increase towards savings (though some will go towards new clothes, as the dress code is business formal every day).

    1. LQ*

      Congratulations! That’s fantastic news! You’re going to rock!

      Plan to spend more time than you think ramping up to get up to speed. And a good strategy for self management and motivation. You can do this!

    2. Mimosa Jones*

      Congratulations! You’re going to be great!

      As for lifestyle creep, set up your paychecks to go directly to savings and have your savings account transfer living expenses into your checking account. That way you don’t even see the extra money. I used this method to survive a period of bouncing paychecks and it created a nice nest egg in the process. Give yourself a little extra in your transfers so you can enjoy the raise in your daily life, but keep most of it in savings. You can always transfer more to cover planned spending.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Congrats!!!
        Mimosa Jones has excellent advice.
        I will only add to have a goal for savings, like a 6 month emergency fund and then x goal after that, it helps to have a focus or goal.

        Also, the book, the Index Card, is really good for financial advice.

        Enjoy the new job!

      2. Elenna*

        This! It’s like the money your company takes off your paycheck for income tax, pensions, etc. You can’t accidentally spend it through lifestyle creep because it comes off your paycheck before you even get it. Set up your savings the same way – take off the amount you want to save first, then the rest is your “real” paycheck. Bonus: you can spend the entire “real” paycheck without guilt, because you know you already saved the money!

    3. new kid*

      What an awesome update, congrats!!!

      Don’t let the ‘reach’ worries get to you – you’re 100% right that they wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you had what it takes. You’ve got this!

    4. Catsaber*

      Congrats! That’s awesome! You will do great. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and take lots of notes. Even though you’ll have more independence, it’s totally okay to ask lots of questions at first to get your bearings.

      As for lifestyle creep…I’d bump up your savings just a little bit more, both for emergency fund and retirement. But don’t worry about it too much. Treat your self for a little bit, and enjoy your raise. What helped me when I got big raises was to buy something nice for myself – an affordable nice, like a piece of furniture I’d been wanting – and that got the “desire” to spend out of my system upfront. It was also to congratulate myself. :)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Congratulations!!

      I have often thought we spend to the same limit that we earn. If you have direct deposit and you can automatically deposit into savings each pay period, this might be helpful to you. Do allow for modest treats periodically. Let’s say you are diligent with your savings for x months, the allow yourself $y dollars as a treat for staying on track.
      I think the problems come in when we try to be too rigid and set too firm/restrictive rules for ourselves.

      It can feel like, “Dang! I earned this money, when do I get to enjoy it?” And there is some truth to that. The problems really come in with the extremes of Not Spending Anything OR Blowing All of It. Perhaps if you write out on paper what you think you should do in terms of budgeting this will help you take more of a practical approach to handling your money. (Notice this is not like a regular real budget, it’s a hypothetical map of where you want to go now financially.)

  49. Anon at the holidays*

    Has anyone had a situation with a colleague who rings your alarm bells, for no clear reason?

    I have a colleague who I feel very very uneasy around, and I can’t put my finger on why. Middle-aged man, no inappropriate or off-colour comments, no inappropriate behaviour that I could identify, but he worries me enough that I don’t want to be near him. I’ve tried to keep it very professional (his work is genuinely very good) and I don’t think that my feelings are visible.

    I’m particularly wary about this as I believe that he is on the autism spectrum – and so am I. So am I simply picking up on non-NT behaviour and worrying inappropriately? Or something else?

    1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      In general, I’m a big fan of listening to your gut.

      Trust your instincts. Keep it professional, as it sounds like you are doing, but don’t ignore the feeling.

    2. Asenath*

      I’ve met lots of people who struck me as, well, slightly odd. Generally I just try to be polite and not worry about them or their behaviour, and it’s worked well for me. I’ve often read that people should trust their instincts if something seems “off” because it’s all based on accurate subconscious observations or something, but that doesn’t work for me. I go by what actions I can really notice and try to ignore just things that seem off but I don’t know why. I think I feel strongly about this because of incidents in my past like the ones in which someone stole from me and of course the thief couldn’t be the nicest person in the group, it had to be someone who seemed a bit suspicious – but it was the charming and apparently honest person.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Yes. I just avoided. If someone gives you bad vibe for “no reason,” there is probably some reason you don’t know about.
      We interviewed someone like that once and I said afterwards that I literally did not want to be in the same room with them ever again! I seriously won’t be surprised if he turns out to have bodies in his basement or something someday. It was like he sucked all the air out of a room.

    4. Tau*

      Not a colleague, but I have this feeling about someone I know socially through a hobby and also have no clue why. (I’m on the spectrum, I’m pretty sure he’s not.)

      Like the others, I generally lean in favour of trusting your gut. Especially because… mm… I’m not sure if this is true for you, but I think that as an autistic person it’s easy to internalise the message “I’m bad at social things, I can’t read body language, if I have gut feelings about someone they’re probably wrong and I should ignore them.” Which is wrong, and dangerous, and worth pushing against! So I personally am really working on taking things like “I get the impression this person doesn’t like me” or “This guy strikes me as unsafe” and not immediately dismissing them.

      The good news is that the way you’re handling it sounds perfect – keep it super-professional. Really, with the average colleague relationship, there should be no need to really be alone with him or talk to him about anything but the most bland, superficial personal stuff, and as long as you’re not letting it interfere with your job or blatantly treating him differently from everyone else there should be no reason for him to complain, or even notice. If he pushes against that… well, that’s a data point in its own right, isn’t it.

      1. Anon at the holidays*

        Thank you all!

        It’s a little awkward because we share the same niche interest, so people assume that we should get on.

        However, I can honestly say that I’ve been positive about his work, never commented about his manner, but would raise concerns if I ever became aware of misbehaviour. We work with vulnerable adults which is another reason that I’m a little wary.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          At some point you may have opportunity to talk to a trusted cohort to see what they think, also.
          But until then definitely follow your gut.

    5. Mazzy*

      Not the same kind of vibe, but I always had the feeling one of my coworkers did nothing, and people acted like I was gossiping when I mentioned it to two people. Then I realized his screen reflects on some glass walls at certain times of day, and lo and behold, what you see can not be unseen, I’ve never seen him on anything work related. He’s sitting browsing the internet all of the time and his computer is turned away from people and they don’t monitor internet usage, so. Feeling confirmed!

    6. Sequoit*

      This happened to me! Same situation, same demographic you’re describing. Our colleague was hired for a temp position and for some reason we couldn’t pinpoint, multiple women had their alarm bells go off. He was in a customer-facing role and was professional, personable, and enthusiastic. Since it was all vague feelings of uneasiness and no one could point to any specific moments of inappropriateness or anything explicitly wrong, we sort of talked ourselves out of the alarm bells and gave him a chance. He’s now in a more permanent position, and I think we’ve gradually warmed up to him (no complaints or concerns that I’m aware of) and he’s still a great worker and professional and eager to contribute. I think there’s still a possibility that the alarm bells are merited, but we decided that we can’t ding him for something he hasn’t done or said. YMMV but that’s what happened at my job.

  50. hillrat*

    So has anyone here ever had a new job where you (a) are quite happy with your actual co-workers but (b) really dislike the company itself? i.e., the culture and expectations of your actual office are a good fit, but the culture and expectations of the company are a bad fit. How did it work out for you?

    1. Agent Agent*

      Yep! I’m still there, and for me, it all comes down to my boss. She’s a great gatekeeper and defender when she needs to be. She lets the powers that be know when they’re being unreasonable.

      That said, things are busier than ever, and more and more unreasonableness is slipping through. (She can only guard against so much without putting her own job at risk.) As much as I enjoy my coworkers, and appreciate the promotions I’ve received, it is getting to be too much. I’m at 2.5 years, and considering dusting off the resume.

    2. Millennial Lizard Person*

      I love my current team of about 10 people. Also, the company is a dumpster fire, has been for several years, and things haven’t changed. We mostly cope by mocking the senior leadership.

    3. Ms Fieryworth*

      Yep, I’ve been there. I stayed for 5 years and tried to make it better. In the end I decided to leave. I found a job where I like both the co-workers and the company.

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Yes. It was a big tradeoff for everyone who accepted a job in our office, but the people on our team were always so talented that the team itself was a big plus that outweighed the parent org being so backward. But pay was so low that we had a lot of turnover all the time. My boss didn’t have the resources to keep great people even when he desperately wanted to. In the end the parent org forced such drastic changes that everyone quit en masse.

    5. Avasarala*

      Kind of there. I think the key difference is you know right away this isn’t going to be a long term fit. Once those coworkers/immediate bosses you love are gone, you’re going to want out. So enjoy it, make sure you shore up those skills and recommendations for when you do move on.

  51. DoomCarrot*

    Hi, me again, with the overly entitled coworker and the academia issues!

    It looks like unfortunately, I may be getting sacrificed as a political pawn in the aformentioned interedpartmental politics, so I’m trying to have a Plan B in place just in case.

    So my question is: did any of you leave a PhD programme without finishing, and how did you get your career back on track/sell three years as a postgrad with nothing to show for it on your CV to employers?

    (For those playing along at home: Remora has already asked whether if my contract doesn’t get renewed, I can arrange to transfer my remaining conference/publication budget to her!)

    1. Reba*

      ok, first of all re: the parenthetical, RUDE

      I did eventually finish my humanities PhD, but I tell all young people that I meet that “quitting is always an option”!! I know several folks in various fields who left.

      I think one key thing is to tell the story of it with intention, like “I decided to change direction,” “I left the program because I became interested in doing X work,” or even just “I’m passionate about Field but I learned the PhD track wasn’t for me.” Even if that’s not true! It will eventually be true enough! Don’t go around telling people “academia is a horrible sinkhole of mismanagement papered over with prestige and I was forced out.” Leave that bit behind.

      Finally, there is absolutely no way you have “nothing to show” for the past three years!

      Good luck to you.

    2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Ugh, so sorry this is happening! I have been wondering how you’re doing. Fingers crossed for you.

    3. Anonsy*

      I did exactly this and spun it as “I reevaluated where I wanted my career to go, focusing on work-life balance which having a PhD would overqualify me for the career I want”….. etc.

      Realistically, I left because my advisor was highly abusive and my health couldn’t take it.

      Best of luck, OP.

      1. Anonsy*

        I also found that I had far more responsibilities as a student than I do as staff at the same university. The skills and experience I gained are still relevant, even though I may not have defended a dissertation.

  52. Academic Librarian*

    Last day of an international business trip. It’s been more than a week. Dreading my expense report. Any tips?

    1. LQ*

      Ask for help. Honestly if there is someone who travels internationally a lot or an assistant for someone who does ask them to help. I also go with call payroll and ask them to double check it.

      1. Marianne Dashwood*

        I agree with asking an assistant for help as well as having someone double check it. I’m an assistant who does expense reports often; I have to send them to higher-ups for review and they’ll sometimes catch a mistake I made. Teamwork!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t try to do it all at once if it’s overwhelming. Spend 30 minutes, come back to it a few hours later for another 30 minutes.

      If you had asked us this question before the trip, we would have told you to keep a running spreadsheet and write everything you can in English on your receipts.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      Take pictures of all of your receipts, one at a time. Write any reminder notes before you take the picture. That way, if you lose one, you still have a record of it. Write down all of your cash expenditures that didn’t have a receipt on a single page, e.g. bellhop, tips, bus fare, etc. before you return and create a spreadsheet or a note or send yourself an email with the information

      If you are on Concur or a similar expense reporting system, install the app on your phone and enable e-receipts and automatic report creation. It will save you a ton of time. Since expense reporting systems are customized to each organization and expense policies differ, sometimes by department, make sure you check with either a colleague or an assistant to make sure you complete everything according to policy before submitting the report.

    4. Academic Librarian*

      Thank you. This is the advice I needed.
      The dread. I always screw something up like transposing numbers and/or an autofill changing my destination. I took photo/scans of all the receipts and just have to do it on Monday.

  53. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

    I think I just need a pre-Christmas vent. There was a post earlier this week talking about wanting to give feedback to a bad and bothersome former boss and the overwhelming advice is to make like Elsa and Let It Go.

    But I’m in a position where the bad and bothersome former boss (let’s call her Elf-On-The-Shelf) won’t let ME go. I got promoted, to a different team but still in the same department, earlier this year. Since I’m still only a few desks away, she’s taken for granted that I am still a resource that she can (heavily) rely upon. And I’m not.

    My new boss (Mrs. Claus) is awesome but under a great deal of pressure from the HigherUps on a Big Project that was already in progress when I transitioned – so while she’s been setting boundaries and interceding on my behalf a lot, she hasn’t always been present in the office when Elf stomps on those boundaries and acts as if she still has agency over my career – demanding that I help her with her projects and deadlines. I need to be the one to enforce what Mrs. Claus has set up while there are off-site meetings etc., and I truly have tried my best.

    Here’s an analogy: Elf and I are runners out on a long road (think Route 66?). She started 100 miles ahead of me, and I had a stone in my shoe for the first 20 miles, so it took me a long time to catch up, but once I found my stride, *without needing to increase my pace* I’ve overtaken and I’m leaving her in the dust behind me. Mrs. Claus has set up a different path off the main road for me to follow, but it intersects with the original route very regularly and for extended stretches, at least initially. Unfortunately, Elf managed to get a tight grip of my running vest before I reached the first right turn and try as I might, I can’t quite pull away hard enough for her to lose hold. She’s been *told* to let go, and I’ve even tried slapping her hand, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect. Her arm stretches while I’m on the new path and she tugs just enough to make me lose balance and stumble.
    I now see looking back, that Elf had also been throwing caltrops into the path in front of me when I first started showing signs of outpacing her – only her aim’s not good and she has been standing on them too and leaning on me whenever she does so. It’s like being in the grip of a desperate octopus (yeah – broke the analogy completely here, unless there are octopi in Oklahoma?)

    I’m in the office until the close of business on Christmas Eve – 5 pm. So is Elf. Mrs. Claus is not in at all (more off-site in-person meetings) but has given me the go-ahead for finishing at lunchtime if I get my work on the main project done (which I’m almost certain to do). I’m just apprehensive that Elf will try lumping some of *her* project work on me to be done in the afternoon.
    An additional point of clarification – Elf has also openly blamed me (to the HgherUps, but in my presence and acting as if I wasn’t there) for her team missing deadlines because I’ve moved on. Those caltrops from the poor analogy? Yeah, they’re MY fault.

    At this point, I’m hoping 2020 will be the year that Elf has the boundaries slammed in front of her by the HigherUps (the Big Project has been all-consuming for over a year, but there is an end in sight, while my ‘little’ problem is only 8 weeks old). My bigger problem is that I have now lost ALL respect I had for Elf – and I’ll still need to keep working professionally with her, even with full boundaries in place.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    1. LQ*

      I’m Mrs Claus for someone right now. Her Elf can try to blame her for things but it’s literally laughable. All the higher ups know, getting rid of Elf isn’t an option because it’s not. The biggest thing I’ve been saying is “She’s not the boss of you, I’m the boss of you.“ You don’t have to jump because she tells you to, if she tells you to jump, tell her that Mrs Claus said not to and that she’ll have to talk with Claus on that. Her Elf can try to come to me and get her to do something, but I’ll make that decision and only if it’s actually what makes sense. But you can 100% blame Mrs. Claus. Just getting her to stop thinking of Elf as…sort of relevant at all helped. She’s not your boss. Sure you’ve got to be professional. But you don’t have to do the work she gives you. “Sorry I’m really busy.” “That sure sounds like a good idea, Mrs Claus said anything new to my plate needs to go through her right now.” When you leave you don’t have to let her know (unless you actually do, in which case TELL don’t ask), just leave. The busy-ness of Mrs Claus is actually in your favor here too. Elf will have to expose herself to someone who is under a lot of pressure and in the middle of something for the Higher Ups. Go ahead Elf, come to me to complain how you need one of my best people right now, come at me, it’ll be fun.

      She’s not the boss of you! :)

      (I’m super weirdly delighted by your names and visuals here!)

    2. What’s with Today, today?*

      ”I’m out at noon today, sorry!”
      And then leave at noon.
      Your boss supports you and elf has been told to stop. If you let her lump her project(s) on you in the afternoon, that’s a you problem. Just leave. Your boss gave you the okay.

      1. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

        I think what I probably should have added is that, because I transitioned over only 8 weeks ago, Elf was my boss for half of the appraisal year. This means that her feedback at the *end* of the appraisal year will still have a massive impact on any end of year bonuses and raise considerations (Where I am, I can’t just ask for a raise outside of the appraisal window, and any negotiations are *heavily* weighted by the appraisal feedback – to the point where it’s not really a negotiation). So, yes, anything brand new I can, and do (sometimes successfully) push back on – she just keeps landing her original project work on me, and I’m nervous that this will translate to “Failed to meet expectations” in certain areas of my appraisal.

        TL; DR version – it’s like a dysfunctional family relationship where Elf knows exactly which ones of my buttons to push. If guilt trips earned air miles, I’d be flying past Santa!

        1. Tau*

          Ah, crap.

          TBH I think it’s time to have a conversation with your new boss about this. You can go to her and say Elf still keeps asking you to work on her project, you’re pushing back but you’re worried about the impact it’s going to have on your year-end review. Potentially there’s something she can do to mitigate that, or maybe there are processes in place to handle this sort of situation.

          In general, I think Mrs Claus really needs to step in here: have a serious conversation with Elf going “I need PEDtbI to be working 100% on my stuff for now, so she won’t be able to take on any work for your team. I’m sorry if this wasn’t clear before! I’ve discussed this with her as well.”

          And then, anytime Elf wants you to do something, hide behind your new boss. “Sorry, Mrs Claus has asked me to focus solely on my new tasks.” Or even “I’d love to help but you’ll need to run that by Mrs Claus first!” “Mrs Claus was getting frustrated with not having an overview of what I was working on so she wants all my tasks to come via her, if you want me to work on that you’ll have to ask her”. Hopefully, if you can frame it as “oh, I would help, but I’m not allowed! I’m so sorry!” it should limit the impact on your review.

          Honestly, I think one of the jobs of a manager is to be the bad guy you can point to in this situation. Here’s hoping Mrs Claus will step up for you.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Have you talked with Mrs. Claus specifically about your worries where your end of year appraisal is concerned? If she knows ahead of time that you’re worried Elf might lowball you on your evaluation in retaliation for your behavior now that you no longer report to her, she may be able to take some proactive steps. Where I work, if you have more than one manager during your evaluation period, both of those managers have to contribute to your evaluation, so it’s possible Mrs. Claus would already have access to whatever Elf would be submitting, and she could raise up red flags for her higher ups before anything is official. Tell Mrs. Claus what your fears are here and see what she can do to keep them from happening.

          And as far as Christmas Eve is concerned, I agree with the other commenters. Just say “Oh, I wish I could help, but Mrs. Claus already gave me my assignment for the day and approved me leaving at noon, so I won’t have time to get to it.”

          1. PossiblyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

            Actually – I already have an update!
            Mrs Claus had two meetings cancelled today, so she’s been in the office when Elf phoned from a conference room to give me direction on how to do the next part of her project (which had been pre-agreed with Mrs Claus, as I’m the only one in the department with the prior experience in one small but critical part for getting to the next milestone, but it’s the last time I *should* be involved and Mrs Claus wasn’t happy about lending me out). Elf had been sewing her caltrops again, and I groaned on ending the call when I realised I’d have to undo what she’d done in order to to my bit. In my frustration, I voiced exactly this, together with a laugh that might have sounded more hysterical than humorous. And immediately inner groaned when I realised Mrs Claus had been listening to the entire thing!

            But it was okay! It seems there is no love lost between Mrs Claus and Elf, and Mrs Claus confided in me that Elf is overstepping boundaries *in other departments as well*. This explains a lot – I used to wonder why part of my original role involved shovelling reindeer poop from the path, when it should have been Rudolph’s job not to poop there in the first place. Turns out, Rudolph claimed he had never really been told this information, because Elf, in an attempt to make *and keep* herself important to the company, had decided it was her team’s role to clean up after him, instead of getting him to do it right! Which meant that Elf had her team making toys AND clearing reindeer poop AND baking mince pies AND building snowmen! Instead of staying her own lane, she was too afraid of becoming irrelevant, especially since Mrs Claus’s team (after this Big Project) is going to be responsible for overseeing the quality of the toys being made, and Elf’s circle of influence was shrinking. We’ve also had such a turnover of staff recently that very few managers realise that they should be doing the work instead of Elf (Except for Rudolph, who should have worked it out, and I’d like to stick the shovel up his shiny nose!)
            To that end, Mrs Claus has agreed with the HigherUps that in the new year, the business process are going to be updated (some of them are seven years old and refer to software we don’t even use any more!) and and formally redistributed to all departments. Which means that if Elf decides to build a snowman without the immediate prior agreement of *her* boss – she’s going to be in real trouble. Maybe not managed out, but certainly having her circle made even smaller. And she certainly can’t ask me to get involved.

            As far as the appraisal is concerned, I had a casual chat with my friend in HR who confirmed that HR have already received positive feedback on me from Elf from back before the promotion had even been thought of (not just for me, for *anyone* to get), so assuming I don’t screw up and get positive feedback from Mrs Claus, they already have enough evidence weighted in my favour to counter any “Fail to achieve” attempts in the last few months of the appraisal window.

            Oh, and now I can work from home on Christmas Eve! With Elf, it’s out of sight, out of mind – if she doesn’t see me in the office, she can’t give me any work!

            A *very* Merry Christmas to all!

  54. Jaid*

    With the Executive Order signed to give Christmas Eve off for government employees, I decided to put in for PTO for Monday. This gives me a five day weekend. Golly, whatever will I do?

  55. Leona*

    In the new year, we will have TWO infants in our office (yay, no paid maternity leave at all). I haven’t worked in an office environment before, much less one with babies, and I’m wondering how I as a coworker can support the new moms in the office! Anyone have tips, experiences, do’s or don’ts for sharing office space with little ones?

    1. Rebecca*

      This makes me sad. I remember how I felt after giving birth, and there was no way I could have gone to my office job with a newborn. I had 6 weeks off at half pay, and I was exhausted even at that. When I went back to work, I was exhausted still, but I didn’t have any vacation or PTO time available, as I was a relatively new employee and their draconian leave policy was 1 week (5 days) vacation at 5 years, 10 days at 10 years, etc.

      It’s kind of you to think about this – maybe offer to get things from the printer, refill a water bottle, pull out files from a bottom drawer, that type of thing? And ask if there’s anything else – again, you are very kind to think of this.

    2. Midge*

      Is babies-at-work something your company has done before, and/or have they planned it out?

      I would hope there is some planning coming from the top, because there should be contingency plans for who is designated to help take a baby when the parent is in a meeting or needs an extra hand to eat lunch or something. You could work that out and volunteer yourself, but ideally there would be a system in place, and managers/supervisors would be involved/notified so everyone is on board and understands who is helping and what strains that might temporarily place in their workload.

      But in general, if you are interested in helping let the parents know that you will often be available to take baby for a bit if they need a hand, or even babysit the monitor while baby is taking a nap. The new parents will still probably be figuring out the logistics that work for them in terms of nursing, pumping, bottles, routines with baby, etc. So let them take the lead — every baby is different and it can be hard for them to predict what having the baby at work will be like until it is happening.

    3. Fellow Traveler*

      I had to bring my baby to work, when he was six weeks old, and one thing I appreciated was when my co-workers included me in things like lunch and coffee runs. Like if it was lunch time and I was nursing, they said, “We can wait for you and go together.” even if I said they didn’t have to. Being the only parent at work can be isolating, and it was nice to still feel like I was still part of the team. I’m sure it depends on your work place culture and the parents, but for me i was glad that people cooed over my baby while acknowledging that what I was doing was hard, and at the same time treated me like nothing has changed and trusted that I was going to get the job done. That is I didn’t need to be handled with kid gloves, but I did need people’s confidence.
      Maybe make sure there is a place to change the baby and stash diapers and wipes.
      There is an episode of the Podcast The Longest Shortest Time that talks about babies in the workplace:
      https://longestshortesttime.com/episode-143-its-a-real-mother-part-3-the-cliff/

  56. Christmas Flip*

    I’ve come here before to ask about dealing with a bullying supervisor. While I don’t have a solution yet, I will say that it’s lead to comedy: bullying supervisor put Christmas cards in people’s areas before they came in, and I went to open it without knowing who it was from …. when I saw the handwriting, I flipped it out of my hands a la the 3 Stooges while making a face. I eventually had to pick it up, and I hid it in a desk drawer to protect myself from the vibes.

    1. SarahKay*

      I’ve just read it, after seeing your link. It’s really horrific. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with the CEO? How can someone behave so appallingly to their staff?

  57. George*

    Remember the person whose Secret Santa gave an adult toy? Well somebody in our office White Elephant gift exchange put BDSM paraphernalia in theirs. Due to the nature of the swap, nobody knows who put it there. I am very glad I didn’t participate.

    1. irene adler*

      There’s joke gifts where everyone gets a laugh and then there’s this where there’s awkwardness. I feel bad for the recipient of this gift. Don’t do that to co-workers.

      1. George*

        This was the sort of thing where everyone puts a gift on the table and then each person gets a turn to open a gift or ‘steal’ an already opened one… So totally anonymous and completely public unwrapping where it is expected that you show what you got in case someone wants to steal it later.

    2. Elenna*

      Ew. Even among people who want BDSM paraphernalia, I can’t imagine there are many who would want to get it during an office gift exchange…

  58. UShoe*

    About a year ago I left my job in fairly high-level agency role where I had to balance multiple clients (some of which I was much more passionate about than others) and took a step down/sideways into an in-house role where I spend all my time working on the thing I’m passionate about. However, now I don’t lead a team/manage anyone anymore and because there’s only two of us in the department (me and the department head) rather that the 3-5 person teams I used to work in I’m back doing a lot of the basic admin parts of the role and little-to-no big picture/strategic stuff like I used to (my new boss just doesn’t think/work that way).

    I do enjoy my new job, it’s interesting and I get to work with great people and my work-life balance is soooooooo much better than it’s ever been. But does anyone have any advice on what I can do to retain the skills that I’m not using (management, strategy, crisis thinking, lateral thinking)?

    My next step will likely be into a very specific type of role (I just had an interview for but wasn’t appointed) and they’re few and far between so moving on isn’t really an option yet.

  59. So anon today*

    I posted two weeks ago about being the incoming chair for a local business organization, the incoming chair-elect, Lulu, (we were both to start our terms January 1) and her husband have a fairly new baby, a few months old, but during a lunch date recently, she confided in me her husband (we’ll call him Dante) Has been having an on and off affair with his married boss (Brook Lynn) for several years. Lulu was sabotaging Dantae’s work, which concerned me about her being chair-elect of our chamber of commerce. The husband’s business is not a member. I have an update.

    Lulu sent me an email on December 10, telling me she was leaving Dantae. She put in her notice at her job but used PTO to leave immediately, which made her ineligible to serve as chair-elect because we represent our businesses. She and the baby are staying with her parents in a town about an hour away. The problem was ultimately solved. We scrambled, and a new chair-elect was chosen.

    The same day, my cousin died unexpectedly, and I had to travel to the service, and the rest of the week was a total blur. The service was a week ago today.

    I hadn’t included this in my original post, but we live in a small town, and word typically gets around quick. I’m also in a civic organization with Dante and know him on a strong acquaintance level, and know his boss , Brook Lynn, just a little bit. Their company is not a part of our business organization.

    When I got back to work this past Monday, I started to hear that Lulu was “crazy,” and Dantae was ”having” to divorce her. I heard it several times from several people. My head wanted to explode. On Wednesday, our civic organization met for our weekly lunch. Dante and I were at the same large table, and I overheard him trashing her again! Now, when I tell you what I said next, please understand I have the political capital in all
    aspects of my life to get away with it. I know my face had to have turned bright red, and I said:

    “Dante, did you know Lulu and I had gotten fairly close during the past three months? We’ve had lunch at least twice a month.”
    D: “Uh, no.”
    “We did. She confided in me quite a bit, and I really don’t think you need to talk about her this way. **long awkward silence** Oh, and please tell Brook Lynn I said hello.” The look on his face said it all, he knows that I know.

    And I got up and walked to another table. One of my friends who was also at the original table called me after and said he didn’t say another word at all throughout the entire lunch.

    Lulu sent me a text yesterday that just said “Thank you,” so I’m guessing someone told her. I wish her all the best moving forward.

    1. irene adler*

      I think you handled that rather well. Classy even.

      Got your point across without having to stoop to his level and resort to trashing him. Hopefully, he’ll keep his trap shut re: Lulu. If nothing else, there’s a kid involved here. Kid does not need to have a parent who publicly trashes their other parent. Yes, the kid is an infant, but gossip does tend to linger.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      You did a really good job handling that uncomfortable situation.

      (Also, hello fellow General Hospital viewer!)

  60. irene adler*

    I was told during a job interview: “we value diversity.” But no specifics or metrics were mentioned.

    So, in your experience AAM commentariat, what does “diversity” actually mean?

    How does a company know that it is diverse? Is there a measurement of some kind that is taken? If so, how?

    For additional context, this was one of the very first things the interviewer said to me. I am over 50, female, with a very long work history, which I take pains to avoid revealing on my resume. When she first met me at the interview, she seemed surprised. I guess I was not what she expected.

    1. Argh!*

      I think a statement like that should followed by “Oh really? Tell me more!”

      Because it’s boilerplate language that everyone has to say whether it’s the truth or not. My current grandboss says the same but it’s very clear he has no idea what diversity is. If someone with a foreign-sounding last name can pull off the trick of being identical in every way besides their country of origin, they will be happy. If they are actually different from the local (provincial) culture, they will not be.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes! That will be my exact tactic the very next time I’m told about a company’s diversity. Thank you!!

    2. StellaBella*

      First, sorry if the experience you had was a bit … odd, for her to say that at first.

      Diversity can’t be, as you noted, talking points without metrics and without being embedded in the core values and results of the firm. If they say this, you can follow up with questions like, ‘oh that is good to hear can you share with me how you have managed to employ a diverse workforce and what metrics you use to ensure you are hiring. from a diverse field of candidates and where you search for them?’ but yeah …. it means to me the following:
      -all levels of the org are diverse and all levels have balanced numbers of men and women in them and that they also have good policies on not discriminating against trans folks or the other protected classes too.
      -ethnic and cultural diversity are important benchmarks to add, along with the above
      -diversity cannot mean paying diverse people less
      -how does a firm measure the impact that diversity brings to their bottom line? How are their customer orientation numbers, employee satisfaction numbers, is diversity included in the growth strategy?
      -look up some of the diversity reports from consulting firms and you can find measures on how to validate diversity initiatives

      In the end did you get the job?

      1. irene adler*

        First, thank you for those excellent talking points/things to consider! I’m going to use them for future interviews.
        And no, I did not get the job.

        The hiring manager seemed to be obsessed with what year I graduated from college, why I studied subject areas related to the job (this was a lab job but I have certs in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs) and why I wanted to work in the lab given my current job title is Supervisor. Yes I explained all. I like lab work best, my current job is 80% lab work in spite of the title and I like to know about topics that are tangentially related to my job. My current company is shaky financially and I’d like to work for a more solid company.

        I think she was scared that I might be smarter than she was. In the end, I received an email from HR explaining that I lacked specific skills. These skills were not listed in the job description nor were they asked about in the 4 interviews I did for the job. But that’s usually the message I get from HR depts. after interviews. So I’m not surprised.
        Thank you for asking.

    3. Lora*

      HAHAHAHAhahahahahaahhhhhh…

      Okay, I am in engineering where I have frequently been the only woman in the room. And I’m white, so. In my field, “diversity” mostly means “we have one woman, and a bunch of Asians on H1b visas.” It also tends to mean, “we pay substantially below the market rate.”

      I’ve been in organizations that swore, up and and down, they Valued Diversity. In an organization of 600 employees – they had two African Americans, both women, one of whom was a temp whose contract didn’t get renewed even when they weren’t able to replace her. They had about 10 Asians, three of whom quit as soon as they could. They had 1 Latino employee, who managed building maintenance contracts. They routinely pushed out women over 40, to the point that they ended up replacing the head of HR with an actual lawyer to deal with all the legal crap that resulted from their hiring and firing practices. In an organization of 100 employees – 3 Latino employees, 1 African employee, 1 Asian employee (as in, the Latino guys were citizens and the others were visiting on H1b visas). The African employee was incredibly qualified and performed well enough to be promoted into management, but when an opening that would have been perfect for her became available, they gave the job to a white guy with NO experience either in that particular technical specialty OR in management. But they reckoned they were very diverse: they had two LGBT folks!

      In a huge major corporation you’ve definitely heard of, their Valued Diversity consisted entirely of, they had posters up in the hallways about diversity, which had pictures of different color Muppets. Maybe a Fraggle or two. Yeah. They also had several EEOC complaints and a handful of discrimination lawsuits at any given time, so…

      Any time a company tells you they value something, ask how much they’ve budgeted for it. You want to know what a company values, their budget distribution will tell you what they really value. It doesn’t cost much to host a LGBT+ Support Meeting the second Tuesday of the month, or have a Women In ______ group that meets to listen to the occasional motivational speaker. It doesn’t cost much to throw a Chinese New Year luncheon and post the pictures on LinkedIn. It costs a lot more to revamp your entire hiring and promotion process, commission a third party salary review and adjust salaries upwards to fix discriminatory pay, and fire managers who behave in a discriminatory way to employees.

      1. annakarina1*

        I had a brief contract job at a museum years ago where the art was by a biracial artist, but that the office staff was primarily made up of white people, with a couple of Asian staffers, and that any black or brown people were working visitor services or maintenance jobs. I’m white, and it had put me off to see that big divide, and this was the kind of place that would think they were liberal, but clearly had a race divide between the people in curatorial/executive positions and the people in service positions. I ended up being fired after a few months because I wasn’t a good fit for my job, but I also couldn’t get into the culture fit for the place because of how messed up it felt to me.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      1) Check the company’s upper management, it’s usually available on the web page (check for [CompanyName] executives). Ideally, you’ll see 30% women (not just VP of HR!), and a decent smattering of PoC – 10% minimum, I’m happier when I see 20%. For example, Cisco lists 18 execs – 6 women, 3 PoC (15%). For a tech co, that’s really good.
      2) Ask them how they measure / track / encourage diversity. Industry standards include % hired, % in management, retention (avg time spent at company), any company-sponsored interest groups (ie, membership in Natl Soc of Black Engineers, for tech cos, or in-company LGBTQx alliances).

      Unfortunately, support for gender / racial diversity does not always translate to support for age diversity (lookin’ at you, IBM age discrimination lawsuit!), but these’ll help you see who’s doing lip service and who’s taking it seriously.

  61. WineNot*

    So I have GOUT and I wanted to talk about it because it has SUCH a bad stigma around it as being “the kings’ disease” etc. It started a week ago, and has been the strangest week. I typically stand all day every day at my desk at work, but I have been sitting all week. So every single person that has walked by my desk and found me sitting has commented on it. So I will tell them “I hurt my foot, just giving it a rest”, and they will ask “what did you do to it?” so then I just have to tell them I have The Gout. They’re all shocked.

    I don’t eat a lot of the things on the “causes of Gout” list. I only eat Chopped Liver during the Jewish holidays. I have maybe 4 drinks a week. No red meat, very little sugar, no soda. Yes, I love my seafood, but I swear I’ve only had 5 oysters this quarter!

    My dad has gout and he had very similar, healthy eating habits before his first attack. After lots of research and a couple of doctor visits this week, we’ve learned that it is actually very hereditary. So now I have my dad apologizing not only for gifting me with my wide feet, my sense of humor, and my Type A personality, but also now Gout. Lovely! Anyone else dealing with this awful arthritis?

      1. WineNot*

        But I really like my parents! Also I thought it was in there, but I am a 27-year-old girl. Basically the demographic least likely to get gout.

        1. Lyudie*

          I wonder if it’s your age that’s shocking people. I really didn’t know what gout was, just a vague idea of an older-person thing, then I worked with a guy in his early 30s who had gout. I am not sure how much the average person knows about it, but maybe I am just extra unknowledgeable lol

          1. Gumby*

            Yeah, it’s the age thing. I had bursitis when I was in my 20s. I walked around all the time talking about how I was an octogenarian in disguise.

        2. WineNot*

          It’s definitely my age and the fact that our office is very open and personal so they know pretty much exactly what I put into my body every day and none of it screams Gout! Oh well.

    1. Jaid*

      My BFF gets it occasionally. She takes cranberry supplements, eats dried cranberries, etc. on the regular.

      Ah, genetics.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      Ouch- I don’t have gout but I do have a rare, scary-sounding inflammatory disease. I usually skip naming it just note I have a flair up of a medical condition b/c the wtf looks are a bit much.

    3. fposte*

      You can just say you have inflammatory arthritis, since that’s what gout is.

      (Essayist Calvin Trillin had a funny piece about the social problems of having gout, and he envisioned a PSA about renaming it DJD, for Dr. Johnson’s disease.)

    4. Construction Safety*

      I get it irregularly (think less than once/year). Stay hydrated, always. If it becomes a regular thing, allopurinol (Rx) seems to work with little side effects. Mine seems to be shrimp related.

    5. Llama Face!*

      My sympathies! I have a type of inflammatory arthritis which is similar to but not exactly the same as gout- though a bad clinic doctor told me I had gout at first (my regular doctor did a more thorough check and confirmed it wasn’t and that some obvious symptoms didn’t match). I’m actually planning to go to a physiotherapist because my arthritis may be at least partly related to some hip and foot issues and I’m hoping that working on that aspect will help with the root causes and reduce my flareups.

      Things that have helped me so far:
      NOT trying to just push through it. As soon as my toe starts twingeing I give my feet a break. I take a prescription anti-inflammatory as needed (naproxen) and I avoid wearing any shoes that put pressure on my toe area. I elevate my foot when I’m sitting. I tried to push through once and ended up having to take a week off work because my foot got so swollen and painful that I couldn’t walk on it at all. Alternating heat/cold packs (10 min at a time) seems to help a bit when it gets bad.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Specific workplace advice: It can be helpful to talk to your employer about accomodations like wearing comfy supportive shoes or switching out tasks that involve a lot of standing. Since it looks like you got hit with the genetics stick and aren’t just a port-swilling, game meat and cheese-eating british lord (lol stereotypes), changing your environment is the thing you have at least some control over.

        1. WineNot*

          “Luckily” my job involves standing (or with gout this week, sitting) at a computer making sure the people of America get their wine! So there isn’t anything that I can’t fully do because I’m limping but I definitely had my leg up on my desk for a couple days.

          I took it easy this week, pretty much went home and read every night and was down for the count by 9pm . I took Aleve for a couple days, then Indomethacin once I went to the doctor and 3 times a day since. I also have underlying hyperparathyroidism and am going to have surgery for that in early 2020, so I too am hoping that the gout is miraculously related to my thyroid glands!

    6. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve got my own autoimmune nonsense to deal with, but I can sympathize! I think gout actually shares a medication with my own condition, but I think it also has to be severe to get that prescription, and I dearly hope yours isn’t! Like Vacuum, I usually just say that a medical condition is flaring up and not to worry about it. People don’t really need to know much more than that, and it’s totally acceptable to call them out if they start prying.

    7. emmelemm*

      My mom gets something called “pseudo gout” which is also really, really bad. Gout is caused by uric acid crystals? if I’m remembering correctly – building up in your joints. She has a different kind of crystals building up in her joints, but same effect.

      She’s a vegan who’s literally never had an alcoholic drink in her life.

      1. WineNot*

        Crazy that it just hits some people, even people who’ve never drank or stuffed their faces with red meat! My doctor thinks it might be pseudo-gout related to another health issue that I am taking care of soon, but I think it’s a toss-up whether it is pseudo or regular.

    8. Anon to protect the spouse*

      My spouse has hereditary gout. Takes allopurinol (sp?) for it and it is completely under control. The first week on the drug was hard, as it worked all the uric acid build-up out of his joints, which caused serious pain. But now he is free of the serious gout pain, as well as some smaller aches and pains he didn’t realize were connected. See your doctor!

    9. Jemima Bond*

      Not dealt with it myself but from what I hear (from a relative and a former colleague) it hurts like a b*****d so you have my heartfelt sympathy and a very gentle hug (not touching near any joints!)

  62. Lyudie*

    I think I’m going to ask my manager about moving to a new project next year. We only have two full time people and one mostly full time person to create training for what’s supposed to be one of the company’s flagship products. We had hoped to get at least a full-time offshore person (we have a couple of part-time and/or occasional-during-busy-times offshore resources) but my manager doesn’t seem to think we’re likely to have that again. It’s very frustrating, it’s a huge complex product we don’t have tons of knowledge of due to the complexity/hugeness and the fact that it’s very industry-specific (let’s say llama grooming, where the software handles grooming appointments, billing, records of all llamas that have been groomed and their health issues and grooming needs, complex security rights due to government regulations on llama grooming, etc.). We provide training on the software but my coworker and I don’t have any llama-related background, we’re training experts, so we rely heavily on other teams, and communication is not always great. Maybe other projects wouldn’t be any better…none of our teams are more than a couple of people and we are probably understaffed in general. I don’t really have a question I guess, just venting a bit. I’m out for the year after today and I hope the break will help my mindset.

  63. You made it awkward*

    So, I need advice on how to handle a situation that is highly likely to arise in the near future.

    I couple of weeks ago I have received a very inappropriate text message from a former employee. I used to manage the guy for several years, then he left the company for a promotion, but we remained friendly in a professional way, and would occasionally text each other technical questions or quick updates on common acquaintances. So, that’s what this particular conversation started out as, and then he randomly decided to confess his long standing feelings for me. For context, both of us are married, with very young children, and there are some other factors that give this confession a whole another layer of “Yeek!” factor. I shut it down immediately, he apologized, and we haven’t talked since then.

    Well, there are several large professional conferences coming up soon that both of us are likely to attend. The probability of us running into each other is very high. I’m prepared to act cordial, neutral, and professional. Ideally, I want him to say hi, make some small talk on a work related subject, and then not approach me for the rest of the conference. But what if he has other plans? It wouldn’t be too bad if he ignores me completely, but I would likely have to address questions about that from mutual acquaintances. But what if he decides that we are still “friends” and tries to sit next to me at lunch or hang out together at the reception? Worst case scenario, what if he brings up the subject again? How do I shut this down without making a scene?

    1. fposte*

      First, I don’t think avoiding making a scene has to be the goal. As your username suggests, if he can’t back off until things get loud, that’s on him, not you.

      Anyway, I’d name the problem. “Fergus, I’m not comfortable socializing with you here after the inappropriate text. Please keep your distance from me at this event.” If he goes for hurt and “But can’t we still be friends?” note that he’s not backing off when told to, which is significant, and the answer can be “Not if you don’t back off when I ask you to” and you can relocate yourself.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        All the this. Consider texting him before the conference with your ideal scenario. “Fergus, I want to make sure we’re on the same page at the conference. After your text, we can’t be friends, but we can be professional. At the upcoming conference, the way I see that is a brief hello, and then leave me alone the rest of the time.” DO NOT soften it, and his reaction will give you some indication of how nervous to be about his behavior at the conference.

        If you don’t go proactive with a pre-conference text, then practice scripts like fposte’s with your husband or a friend, to overcome the ‘freeze’ response.

        Also have some scripts for people asking about a cooling-off between you – something like, ‘we’re headed in different directions”

        1. valentine*

          I want to make sure we’re on the same page at the conference.
          The opposite way, this would be forced teaming. Here, it gives him some of what he wants, which is the idea that the two of you area team (struggling with your passion *vomit*).

          the way I see that is a brief hello, and then leave me alone the rest of the time.
          This also works for him because you said he could say hello and you’re not going to make a scene about it (when only the two of you know that it’s the fact it’s from him that’s the trouble), so he can casually say hello in passing 53 times and claim he didn’t recall the rule’s details and can you possibly meet so he can apologize.

          Are there a few people you can tell so they can warn you if he’s around and possibly run a subtle interference? If he speaks to you, you can say, “This is inappropriate,” then go stand next to someone who will back you up if he gets shirty.

    2. Holy Moley*

      Ick. I had a former colleague do the same thing to me about a year after we stopped working together (I moved). I can completely imagine how I would feel seeing him in person (upset, angry, all the emotions). I think the best advice is to be firm with him if he speaks with you and walk away. “I have nothing to say to you, go away.”

    3. LilySparrow*

      If he wants to be friendly, you trat him like anyone who has glommed onto you harder than is welcome – keep the conversation short and excuse yourself to go talk to someone else.

      If he wants to talk about his feelings, you say, “I told you no already. Don’t ever bring it up to me again.”

      And then you get up quietly and go to the bathroom. When you come back, you sit somewhere else.

      That’s not making a scene. It’s moving away from someone who is bothering you.

      It is extremely unlikely anyone with relatively normal emotional limits would try again after that, but if he did, that’s when you unabashedly make a scene.

  64. Middle Manager*

    I have a staff member with very low initiative/problem solving has an ongoing issue that she’s been asked to work out. I did sit down and explain what that meant like: google a technology problem to see if you can solve them yourself before asking me, identify problem areas/possible solutions and bring them up during our 1-1 meetings, etc. I very directly told her that taking initiative/problem solving did not mean ignoring the chain of command, which is taken really seriously in my government agency.

    Nonetheless, her attempts to “take initiative” have consistently included things like sending emails to senior management staff several pay grades above me without discussing it with me first or even cc:ing me, so that I end up finding out she’s made a request of them when they forward it to me about it. Or making changes to a form and sending it out to other staff before clearing it with me/my boss/other people involved in that work area. It has unfortunately not included things like googling how to convert files from word to PDF or update an excel formula, those still all come to me directly.

    She has overall poor judgement and is about to go back on a PIP, so I *think* this is about her judgement/listening skills/etc. I also don’t want to just blame her and not look at my possible role in issue. Hoping for some input on anything I could do better here. Any suggestions on good ways to communicate about this?

      1. Middle Manager*

        I do. We had the conversation again this week at her 1-1. I again told her that requests to our executive level staff need to be going through me first. She said she understood, but that’s not the first time, so we’ll see if it actually makes a difference.

        1. Legally a Vacuum*

          I really don’t think there is too much else you can do- you had the over-arching conversation, then you followed up pointing to specific examples of problematic behavior when they occurred. If she knows that specific behavior is serious and going to lead to a PIP, then it shouldn’t surprise her when it happens.

    1. qvaken*

      I’m a person who likes being informed of what “the rules” are so I don’t get caught off guard breaking a “rule” that I didn’t know about. I wonder if you could have a discussion with her about exactly what tasks fall within her scope and what she needs to contact you about. Like, make a list, and encourage her to participate in the discussion and help you brainstorm things.

      Also, might be good to make her aware of the roles of different people within your line of management and who she needs to approach for what issue. Maybe there are a couple of things for which it would be appropriate for her to approach higher-ups, but then I’m sure most (if not all) of it needs to go to you.

      Also also, if she gets results in a timely manner from contacting your higher-ups but doesn’t get results from contacting you, or she has to wait a long time for a response if she sends it straight to you… Well, I’d contact the higher-ups too.

      But you know your situation better than I do. Plus, I’m a long-time employee, no-time manager, so I’ve only got the one perspective.

      1. Middle Manager*

        She definitely doesn’t contact them because she can’t get an answer from me. I’m extremely accessible to her both in person and by email (arguably too accessible, since I reply to emails even on my days off, which is a separate self care issue for myself).

        We do have a list of what needs sign off, what doesn’t, but it’s hard to define concrete “rules” it down super specifically because so much of our work is 1 off stuff that isn’t neatly categorized. I like the suggestion of talking through it with her again though and getting her to brainstorm examples of what she can do on her own and what needs sign off. Maybe if she comes up with some examples herself it will stick with her a little better. Thanks!

    2. fposte*

      This might also be a time for “Last week we discussed that you weren’t to email Alesha or Bob without talking to me first, but yesterday you emailed Bob without talking to me first. Can you explain what happened there?” And listen to what she says–while it’s not likely to justify the action, it might give you some good insight into how correctable this behavior is.

    3. NW Mossy*

      Judgment is one of the most challenging things to coach, in my experience. It’s tied so closely to how our brains are wired and what thoughts cross our minds (or don’t) when considering a problem, and it takes a lot of practice and experience to develop it.

      One tactic that may work for the questions she asks is to turn yourself into a dry well – instead of providing an answer, consistently refer her to the next step you want her to take (look it up, ask someone else, etc.). I had a boss in my early days who had a rule that I could ask her any question I wanted as long as I could answer “what does [key reference] say?” first, and that’s stuck with me my entire career. She was always very kind about it, and very quickly trained me into fishing for myself first.

      That said, I think you’re going to have a difficult time with someone who struggles to navigate hierarchies and know when other people need to give input before a change is implemented. Understanding this easily is a form of social intelligence, which makes it hard for those that get it to explain to those that don’t. For this part, I’ll second the ever-wise fposte’s advice to ask her to explain her thought process on a situation she flubbed to better understand where the dots aren’t connecting.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Thanks. I like that tactic from your boss. I’ve tried to push her to do that by asking the question, but maybe I if I set it up ahead of time that when she comes to ask me the very first words out of her mouth should be, I’ve googled this and this is what I found…

        1. NW Mossy*

          That’s pretty much exactly how my conversations with that past boss played out! After about the third time of being gently referred back to do my homework first, my questions turned into “I looked at it and I’m interpreting it like this – does that make sense?” or “I’ve read it but I’m not sure how to apply it because my scenario’s got X and Y in it – how do we account for that?” From there, she was happy to help me work through more complicated questions – it was a great balance between autonomy and support.

  65. No desire to be a micromanager, but...*

    I have no desire to be a micromanager, but I have an employee who is very unreliable and sometimes lies or tries to cover for her own inaction by saying “I’m still waiting on x to get back to me”… only for me to later discover that the reason she is still waiting on that person to get back to her is because she hadn’t sent them an email with an inquiry several days ago (as she had promised she would) but rather just a minute ago after I followed up to check in on the status of it. This makes everything even more time sensitive and stressful for this project.

    Is it appropriate to be asked to be cc’ed on everything related to this project since she has a bad track record of actually doing what she says she will do in a timely fashion or until I nudge her about it? Or is there something less micro-managey, but that will still allow me to verify that things are getting done without constantly having to check in?

    1. irene adler*

      Can you ask this employee to give you a complete list of their tasks they need to do for the project? Have them give you a due date for each item on the list. Then you get to ask for updates for completion of each task (or she can alert you regarding completion of each task). And, if she’s late in completing said task, ask what her plan is for getting the next task(s) completed on time (you get to edit the plan if it’s not sufficient in your judgment). And for how she will endeavor to complete similar task the next time she needs to do it.

      This way there’s something measurable here: x days late with task#1, on time for task #2, y days late for task #3. Or, 3 out of 5 tasks were completed late. Her goal will be to get 1 out of 5 tasks completed on time for the next project. Or all tasks completed within 24 hours of due date. It will be up to her to find the way to achieve this. If she’s not able to improve, then maybe this isn’t the right job for her?

      1. No desire to be a micromanager, but...*

        I’ve created a shared spreadsheet that lists each task with a deadline on it with a column for her to note the date that she completes it, but she tends to miss those deadlines, which is why I constantly have to “check in” about the status of things. It’s only when I check in that she finally scrambles to do things. I think my biggest concern is the lying and attempts to shift the blame to other people, though.

        1. Policy Wonk*

          How about an end of day check-in? A 5-10 minute review of the spreadsheet and the activities she completed that day, including who she e-mailed, meetings scheduled or attended and the like. Not as micro-managey as cc’ing you on every e-mail, but a way to make sure she is on top of things.

          I agree with others that you need the big picture conversation about acceptable behavior and lying – and I think a PIP is also needed, but the daily check-in will at least get her on task in the short term.

    2. LQ*

      Can you have her do more project management structure around her work and give you transparency into it?

      Have a task list that you can see, or that you can review with her weekly. A kind of “the work isn’t done until you report on it” take. Report can be …take the next step, document it, update a task list. Something that creates an outcome that you can keep an eye on.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      It sounds like you need to have a clear talk about the lying and make it clear that the deadlines are real deadlines and for her job to be secure she needs to meet them or be proactive about letting you know in advance when there will be a problem meeting them.

    4. NW Mossy*

      I think you name it for what it is. “I’m seeing a pattern from you that’s got me concerned. You tell me that you’re waiting on information and that’s why things aren’t moving, but I’ve seen a few situations recently where that just isn’t true. When I followed up with Fergus about why he hadn’t responded to you on the Singing Llama account, he told me that the email he got this morning was the first he’d heard that you needed something. Lucinda said something similar about the Yodeling Alpacas last week. What’s going on?”

      From there, a pivot into what you do expect: “Heloise, I expect that you do what you say you’re going to do, and that you’re honest about what you’ve done and what you haven’t. When you don’t follow through on your promises and then claim that’s someone else’s fault, I can’t trust you and neither can your colleagues. We have to be able to trust each other to work well together. Can you commit to following through and being honest going forward?”

      1. No desire to be a micromanager, but...*

        Thank you so much for this language! This is very helpful. I will definitely give it a try!

  66. Argh!*

    Any tips for scripts that are responses in the moment? I am good at saying the right things when I start a conversation, but I’m easily triggered by people derailing the conversation, or just plain saying “no” to an ask for a reasonable, quick, job-related thing, or otherwise throwing up a roadblock rather than being team-oriented. In my local culture, it seems that men can say almost anything to women and undermine our effectiveness, and most of the women are non-confrontational, deferential, helpful, and self-effacing. For example, in meetings some of the more successful women say “I feel that” instead of my usual “I think that…” I keep resolving to be more like “them,” but it’s hard to shake being “me.”

    I hate this job culture and I want to leave, but meanwhile, I could use some scripts to develop a workplace persona that fits in with a more 1950s model than what I’m used to.

    1. Aly_b*

      If they love authority so much, can you weaponize it? Eg, said in a very friendly tone: “oh, sure! I’ll just have (my manager) chat with (your manager) about who would be the better person to get us what we need for that. Thanks!”

    2. Avasarala*

      I’m not sure there is anything you can or should do in 2020 to make yourself smaller, weaker, and less of a threat to appease men at work who refuse to respect you. Some women have found that leaning into the stereotypes gets them ahead. OK fine. But not you, and you don’t have to do that. There are plenty of good jobs and good women who say “I think that” and get respect and success.

      Anyway, here’s what I might say if a conversation got derailed:
      “[Interrupting/jumping in at the end of their sentence] Yeah… to get back on track though, …”
      “Anyway, what I wanted to talk to you about was…”
      Or my favorite, after someone talks your ear off and you want to leave, “Well, I know you’re busy so I’ll let you go.”

      If someone refused to help me, my namesake would find some leverage to motivate them. Personally I either go high (“I know you’re busy but I would really appreciate this, thanks in advance!” “You’re so good at tea pouring/you’re so smart and talented, I know you could just whip it up in no time. Thanks!”) or go low (“That’s disappointing, I was hoping the Tea Pourer could pour tea better than I could!” “Oh, that’s not the response I was expecting. Usually you’re so helpful, bummer!”).

  67. Dork at Work, They Rhyme I swear*

    I’m a very high performing Individual Contributor in a niche, but valuable, technical field. I’m more than fed up with my current workplace (been there several years, gigantic company, you’ve certainly heard of it, blah blah) for a number of reasons, including lack of career progression, and bad work/life balance. My senior manager is batting to get a next-level IC job created so I can promoted into it, but I’m not so keen to stay here anyways.

    I have a small side business consulting in this technical field, and I think I could make it full time given my reputation in this field. It’s important to mention that my potential consulting clients are very limited without violating my current job’s employee rules. I would like to build out my client base to the point where it’s not foolhardy to go full-time independent consultant, preferably in a few years.

    I’ve applied to a couple jobs in this metro area, and am in the phone interview stages with them. Assuming both of them pan out, my options in the coming future could be:

    1) Take an internal promotion, get approximately $40K more in cash. WLB will still suck, but the job itself is fascinating, I have good coworkers and a good network in the company.

    2) Go to another company doing similar work, probably another $25K more in cash, longer commute (right now I have a 10-minute train ride to work). Almost no restrictions on who I could consult for – I’ve read their employee manual online. Would help build out my “brand” for work in this niche.

    3) Completely leave the niche and work in a more generic technical job. Commute would be the same as I have now, probably very reasonable hours, slightly more pay. Frees up a lot of time and mental energy for consulting with no restrictions on clients, but I would probably start to lose my “insider” experience edge.

    Long-term, I think I would really enjoy independent consulting, or at least, the upsides of it. I like problem-solving in this niche field, absolutely hate being required to get deeply involved in corporate politics, and would appreciate a job with more time and location flexibility.

    Any recommendations / thoughts / past experiences that people could share to help me make a decision?

    TLDR, fork in the road career wise for a technical specialist wanting to become an independent consultant

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Probably late to the party here, but #2 sounds like the way to go in order to maximize pay, maximize work/life balance, AND create space for you to grow your consulting practice with your extra time/mental energy.

      #3 sounds like what you should do if you want to leave the field, but you describe wanting to leave the culture of your current employer, not the work itself. #1 is what you do if you want more money (which may not happen) to put up with current workplace conditions, which you say you are “beyond fed up with.” Is an additional $40k enough to make you not-quite-fed-up-with current conditions? Or would you come to resent the status quo and feel obligated to stay for the $$?

      1. Dork at Work, They Rhyme I swear*

        Part of the fed-uppdedness is the lack of upward mobility as an IC – for better or worse I have a reputation as a “technical person” which is essentially a death knell for career growth at this company. So a promotion and more cash would help with that. But the WLB and extreme office politics will not go away.

  68. Saffron Sam*

    This is more of a story than advice as I’d say the law and my duty is pretty clear, but I’m having the oddest moment of group pushback. I know Allison oft recommends speaking up a group against ridiculous policies, but can we keep it to ridiculous policies, please?

    Employee went to HR over repeated moderate harassment over her faith (yes, she had tried to speak up for herself to the employees in question to reasonable effort before seeking help). Small group of employees were told to knock it off, to succinctly summarize.

    Small group of employees are trying to “push back”, saying the faith in question has “social and cultural acceptance of being mocked” and therefore they should be able to continue their behavior.

    1. Marthooh*

      Holy moly, your coworkers! I’m not sure if they’re saying “But everyone makes fun of Cthuluites!” or “We’ve always gotten away with mocking Cthulu!” Either way, you work with a pack of rules lawyers. How horrifying.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      No faith has the social and cultural acceptance of being mocked.

      Your coworkers need to be told to knock it off, and it needs to be made clear to them that if they don’t, it’s a clear cut case of insubordination that can and will lead to their termination. End of discussion. And then management needs to hold them to that.

      1. Fikly*

        It’s socially and culturally acceptable to mock many faiths, outside of the particular faith being mocked. Doesn’t make it ok, though.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I’d like to be a fly on the wall for a convo you have that goes like this:
      You: you want to continue to mock x for having y religion?
      Them: yes, we want to mock y religion.
      You: you want the company to say you can mock a religion at work.
      Them: yes!
      Crickets
      You: *accepts resignation letters

      1. Saffron Sam*

        So since I am the HR in question… That’s not far off from how things are going.

        It’s weirdly humorous.

        1. NW Mossy*

          “So you’re saying that the company should violate the law because you disagree with it? That’s an….. interesting argument.”

    4. Turtlewings*

      Wow. My mind is boggled that your coworkers think “but lots of other people make fun of them!” is an actual defense. What amazingly crappy people.

    5. Roy G. Biv*

      Wow. “Social and cultural acceptance of being mocked” could also apply to just about ANYTHING because of Comedy Central, South Park, HBO, etc. Perhaps all HR protections and polite behavior should be suspended, and we’ll let the “I was just joking, geez, lighten up, would ya? hunger games” begin. It will be just like my first real job in the ’80’s.

    6. Morning Reader*

      I am flabbergasted. What religion do they think it’s culturally acceptable to mock? Wiccans? Satanists? Muslims? Catholics? Religion in general c.f. the Sky Fairy? I have heard of all of these and can’t imagine any cultural acceptance of their mocking anywhere except perhaps an atheists convention. These people should be sent on a long business trip to somewhere their religion is in the minority. “Oh, you go to… church? Every… week? How quaint! Charlie, come here, you must meet this person, he practices the most charming custom in his native village. Do tell, do your people put cream of mushroom soup in everything? Fascinating.”

        1. What’s with Today, today?*

          All I can think of is The Book of Mormon, and how the Church buys so much ad space in the playbill.

      1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

        My guess would be Scientology, but it totally doesn’t matter which one; it’s inappropriate in the workplace.

    7. CatCat*

      “social and cultural acceptance of being mocked”

      What does that even mean? A lot of religions are mocked. I seriously doubt there is a universal social and cultural acceptance of it though. Yeesh.

      Also, even if that were the case, it doesn’t belong in the workplace and is not a defense to harassment!

    8. Admin of Sys*

      Wow. I mean, even for Pastafarianism and Erisian, it’s inappropriate to mock beliefs at work w/out the individual of said faith starting it.
      Maybe try pushing back with the concept that ‘cultural acceptance of being mocked’ is synonym for ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘systemic intolerance’ and is inappropriate in the workplace no matter what?

  69. Retail not Retail*

    How do you address sexist/homophobic comments when they’re coming from the only other lesbian on the team?

    Our six person team is mostly women but one of the 2 men is super sexist and I took her aside one day and said you know he’s really sexist right? She stopped talking as much around him naturally because he is so annoying.

    However. We also have a crew of guys on sort of work release. When she says stuff around them it’s like… these guys get kicked out for talking to a woman in their program. They’re prone to objectifying and immature statements (bare minimum that’s what she said). What’s the right way to object?

    (Additionally yesterday our one hispanic coworker said a racist slur against mexicans. How do you handle that when you’re white?)

    1. RoadsLady*

      The way I see it, the comments could fall under hostile work environment no matter who says them.

      Sure, there could be arguments for subcultural rights to say things about their own, but rarely would such apply at work.

      Stick to the phrasing, not the person.

    2. qvaken*

      I did once speak up about sexism in the office, when it was directed against another woman, and the other woman was fine with it. She became defensive protested that if she was okay with it then it shouldn’t be a problem. The two guys who were participating in it just looked awkward, one made a face at me as though I was the one causing the awkwardness, then they swivelled their chairs back towards their computers and got on with their work.

      So I guess you could take the approach of, I’m willing to make other people uncomfortable so I can speak up about this. Even if the people who – on the surface – should be your allies don’t support you.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        There’s still one woman on the crew who hasn’t shut down the sexist man so he’s “teasing” her and mangling her name. I objected in june when he did it to me and he stopped doing it to me. Everyone’s response is “if it doesn’t bother her don’t let it bother you”

    3. Retail not Retail*

      Lol one of the guys just asked me if i liked that’s what she said jokes and i said no and he said he’d cut them and other innuendo out around me!

      Like almost an AAM script except he’s not a reader of it since there’s no internet access in the program.

    4. LilySparrow*

      I’m not really following what happened with the sexist guy, but I gotta tell you from one white lady to another, policing the speech of a non white coworker and acting like you have the right to correct them or educate them on racism would NOT be a good use of your relative privilege.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Very good point!!! It was just that it was a cavalcade of hateful speech all day – female coworker talking about how annoying women were, how annoying gay guys are, and then he said “there go the (slur for mexicans)” as the seasonal crew went by.

        It was just jarring and tiresome.

      2. Avasarala*

        There is a lot of racism between Spanish-speaking groups. Just because someone is POC doesn’t mean they