open thread – May 1-2, 2020

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.

{ 1,248 comments… read them below }

  1. Red Tape Producer*

    Question for anyone who has accepting a role they shouldn’t have: what’s the best way to approach a new role that is a step backwards career wise?

    For context: I was offered a secondment opportunity with a prestigious organization within my organization that typically would look really impressive on a resume. I originally wanted to turn down the role because the interview was full of red flags, the biggest being the fact they couldn’t give me any real details on the role I was interviewing for because it was “still developing”. I ignored the red flags on the advice of people I trusted and, now that the transfer paperwork is done and I can’t back out, I’m being told the role is actually not related to my skillset or career at all. All the other team members hired for the same role come from completely different backgrounds (think one senior teapot designer and the rest are senior teapot admin support) and while the duties are still “evolving” everything their doing currently is basic support work. The secondment will be for at least a year, but they hinted it might be more like 18 months.

    I’m worried this is going to be a black hole in my resume, secondments are supposed to be all about building your skillset and taking on more responsibility. I’m also missing out on leading some really big projects at my home ministry that will be going ahead later this year (post lockdown). I’m trying, desperately, to find a way to see this as a good move. Any tips?

    1. OtterB*

      Is it that the role you are intended to fill is not related to your skillset or career, or is it that the temporary duties while the role is still “evolving” are not related? I’m guessing it’s the latter, since you don’t know what it will be in the future once it finishes “evolving.”

      Can you look for opportunities to be learning something in the meantime? Do the support duties give you exposure to a new part of the organization? Can you learn something from the other team members about other parts of the organization or other roles?

      Otherwise, I think you have to just keep following up on what the duties are supposed to become. Possibly they intended to have something solidly in place sooner than this but the pandemic has pulled away the attention of the people who have to approve it.

      1. Red Tape Producer*

        I think the former, although it’s still really unclear (I’m getting forwarded a lot of emails where the manager of my team is asking other teams “what can we do to help? Let us know how we can support you!”). I don’t see a lot of opportunity to transition or take on more complex work, just because the other team members don’t have a research or policy background.

        I honestly don’t mind doing some mindless busy work if it’s needed, my current role is dead at the moment and any work would be a nice change, but a year is a lifetime in the kind of work I do. I’m trying to figure out how to avoid this becoming a big hole in my resume (I’m looking at moving into a more senior role in the next year or two).

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        To add onto this, do you think there’s a way for you to work with whoever will be managing you to add some duties to your role that are more in your wheelhouse? I accepted a role almost a year ago with my current company that wasn’t clearly defined yet either because they were still trying to figure out exactly what kind of help they needed. Well, I came in with a very specific (some may say “narrow”) skillset, and I ended up creating my own projects, processes, and initiatives (PPI) that play to my strengths, and was very fortunate that my direct manager, dotted line manager, and senior management agreed that my PPIs are valuable and necessary to the functioning of my division and team.

    2. Kimmybear*

      Been there. I did 15 months on a project team within my organization that turned out to be a huge mistake. But now I’ve been back to my “home” department for over 18 months and even though there are challenges, I’m happy where I am. How did I get back? I went to a friend in my home department, explained my challenges and basically said I was going to start looking for a new job. She ran to her boss and found a way to bring me back home, even though the project wasn’t even close to done. That may not work for you given organizational politics and process but give it a shot, see if you can make the job something you want, and keep an ear to ways to go home. Good luck!

      1. Red Tape Producer*

        This is a great idea! I know my current manager was hesitant to approve the transfer, she was actually the only one that didn’t think I was crazy for thinking about turning it down, so I could probably contact her about coming back early.

        I’m getting the feeling this new team had a “hire as many people as possible now, figure out what exactly we need them for later” policy. If this is true, I’m going to push hard to return to my team by Fall. If they can’t even figure out what the team is supposed to do, I can’t imagine I’m going to be desperately needed to keep things running. I’m definitely going to be needed when things get busy again in my home ministry in September/October though.

    3. Tex*

      First, if the role is still developing, maybe you could have input into designing specific skills or areas you want to specialize in? Sometimes, all you have to do is ask the right person or just act like it was a given when you agreed to the role that some components would involve x or y and you took on the role with that understanding.
      Second, never underestimate getting experience in a second area even if it seems unrelated. It could be useful years down the line. For example, strategy is a sexy sounding role, but most higher up roles value actual operational experience. Lastly, if you are truly unhappy, in a couple months can you get your former boss to ask for you back because of ‘critical skills’ or experience that you could bring to those high profile projects at your old organization?

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I think in this situation I’d go with something along the lines of the role not being a fit for you or your skillset professionally, although initially it seemed to be? And that the role developed very differently than either you or the organization expected.

  2. James Brewster*

    What’s the best way to explain a lengthy employment gap due to taking care of a sick family member?

    I’ve had a year-and-a-half employment gap after leaving my last employer to take care of my mother who suffered a stroke a while back. My uncle also died and left us a hefty inheritance so I was able to use that money along with my own personal savings to take some time off to help my mom out. She’s made great progress since then and I’ve decided to look for full-time work again. I’m only 30; my last office job which I left was for three years (prior to that, I worked retail for five years while in college) so it’s not like I’m unreliable or have a history of job hopping.

    Regarding cover letters, I’ve thought about stating something brief like “After recently taking time off to care for a sick family member which has since resolved…” and then focus on my skills and prior accomplishments. Is this good enough or should I state it differently? Also, since some employers don’t bother reading cover letters, should I mention something about the gap on my resume under my company description (that way, HR reps/hiring managers don’t wonder what the heck happened when they see that I’ve been out of work for so long).

    I’ve read that some employers will judge you negatively, while others won’t care as much. Will I need to start over at the bottom (say, a part-time grocery job) and work my way back up to prove that I’m reliable again?

    Thanks you for your insight and experience regarding my situation!
    -James Brewster

    1. Daniel*

      You probably won’t need to start from the bottom. Your explanation is fine, but I think my only advice is to make it a little more readable.

      “I recently took time off to take care of a sick family member, which has been resolved.” Or:

      “I recently took time off to take care of a sick family member. Now that has been resolved…”

      1. DuckDuck*

        I have a little bit of a different take. I would be specific. I wouldn’t just say ‘family member’ I would say ‘mother.’ In an interview I would specifically say ‘my mother had a stroke.’

        The reason is that people often use the ‘I was a carer’ line to cover absences with a less palatable explanation. It’s become a cliche to the point it looks suss to some hiring managers.

        People leave it vague because they are actually not comfortable lying so they just say ‘sick family member’ or ‘caring’ and hope no one probes. The more detail you give the more it appears your story is true. The sick relative really does exist if you can name the family member and illness. Less likely to be a potential lie if you’re specific.

        1. Overeducated*

          I agree. Since it was a parent you’re unlikely to face a career penalty for having kids, which is the only reason I can think of to word it vaguely. The original wording seems a bit awkward to me (“it has since resolved” could be health, or it could be death!) and being direct might be simpler: “I took time off to care for my mother while she recovered from a stroke.”

    2. another Hero*

      I don’t think you should have to start your career over – people do this all the time (parents, for instance), and while they have varied experiences getting back to work for sure, it won’t be a foreign concept to your interviewers. I just made sure to mention “I’ve been caring for a relative and am now available to work” in interviews, but I think a line in your cover letter would probably be sensible. I wouldn’t waste resume real estate on it, but ymmv

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      You should absolutely include something in your cover letter, I think you’ve worded it just fine. There’s no need to mention it on your resume. I find that most employers do read cover letters, and if not they’ll just ask you about your gap, which you can explain as you did in the cover letter.

      Also you most definitely don’t need to start from the bottom again – your past experience doesn’t just disappear. If you’ve done anything to keep up your inside knowledge (reading, papers, trainings, personal projects etc), it’s good to mention it to show that you’ve remained sharp and aren’t rusty.

      It’s not like you decided to sit on your butt for three years because you could – you took care of a sick relative. That’s a perfectly good reason to step out of work, and should have no affect on your perceived reliability, esp since you mention that it’s been resolved. Alison has written a lot on explaining resume gaps/job hunting after a break, you should definitely peruse the backlogs.

      Good luck! I’m glad your mom is doing better.

    4. Library Lady*

      A line in your cover letter should be fine—it would if I were screening. I’d be looking for an explanation if your resume had a gap, and the cover letter is the first place I’d look. Taking care of a family member is a perfectly cromulent reason. It would be much more likely to hurt you if you couldn’t explain. Good luck in your job search!

    5. Pretzelgirl*

      I doubt it will effect you negatively. Some people also take time off to be a stay at home parent and go back to work when the kids are older. I have seen a couple of people recently go back to work and did fine! I doubt it will cause much of an issue for you.

      There also might be a space on any applications you have to fill out. “Tell us what you did during employment gaps, Why did you leave your last job etc.”

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Jumping on the bandwagon to say that it’s fine to explain in your cover letter that you took time off to care for a sick relative and now that this situation is resolved, you’re eager to get back to work. No one should expect you to start off as a part-time grocery clerk if you’ve held more advanced jobs and have a track record of performing well at them. If you are careful to list your accomplishments in your past jobs in your resume, it should be clear that you have the skills and experience necessary to a job at your current career level.

    7. sequined histories*

      I think briefly acknowledging it that way makes sense.
      At the risk of violating the nitpick rule, I can’t help but suggest “who has since recovered” in the place of “which has since resolved.”

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I like that much better. “Which has since resolved” could mean, um, the other thing rather than the person recovering, so might be awkward.

    8. Quinalla*

      I think your cover letter is fine and it is highly unlikely you will have to start over, maybe not start exactly where you were, but not start over for sure.

      My recommendation for this kind of situation is just state the facts and don’t get overly defensive or worried about explaining it. I was part of an interview once with someone who had been on break and we thought we was fine except she kept basically pre-apologizing for all the training we’d have to do to bring her up to speed after a long absence – granted it was several years to raise kids to school age – but still it was way, way excessive and to be frank ended up being a strike against her. If she’d just stuck with the explanation and eagerness to get back in the game, it would have been fine.

    9. voluptuousfire*

      Saying you were the caregiver for a sick parent to explain the gap is fine. Put that in your cover letter. I’ve eve seen people put that as their most recent “role” on their resume. Some states even have it where the family member gets paid to take care of their relative by the state’s Medicaid. So in that case, it actually was your job for x time.

      1. MayLou*

        Don’t put it as your most recent role, or include it on your resume. It certainly is work, in that it’s an important and often difficult thing to do, but it is not the same as an employed job and it might look like you don’t recognise that difference. The covering letter is the place for that sort of information, as part of the overall narrative of your journey to applying to the post.

    10. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      In addition to all these other comments – many of my most recent job applications included questions like “reason for leaving most recent employer” etc – which outside of the “left vs. fired” issue, can also be a great space to explain situations like this exact issue! Best of luck!

    11. Alternative Person*

      I don’t think you’ll need to start from the bottom, but you might not be able to go for the most desirable roles immediately. Maybe take a look at temp agencies in your area alongside looking for a regular position.

      Also, you might want to refresh your skills, you don’t say what kind of work you do, but maybe see if there are any relevant free or cheap courses are available (I’d suggest libraries if they were open) and/or read relevant research papers in your area of work.

  3. Half-Caf Latte*

    This question is for families with small children where both parents are still working – what are your plans for the long term, specifically childcare?

    We’re both in healthcare: my spouse (the tall Americano) is onsite at work 75% of the time, and I’ve been able to be fully remote in my role, although the future of that remains unclear. Balancing everything has been an enormous struggle, and while it seemed there was some understanding in the first few weeks, now it seems like my boss expects us to have “figured it out,” and I’m like – literally nothing has changed. One incident included boss refusing to approve my timecard request for the upcoming week on a Sunday, and when I called to clarify, was told it was because I might be needed for an urgent request. There were no details about what the urgent need might be, when, or where, and when I said I needed as much info as was available because I needed to arrange for childcare, I got sternly reminded that working from home is not a sub for childcare, so I should have childcare already. She genuinely couldn’t understand how my childcare needs for an onsite thing would be different than remote.

    We’re starting to talk about reopening, and I’m very stressed that we’ll reopen before childcare does. I’m the only one on my team with small kids, and I don’t know what to do. Do I take a LOA, and hope things work out soon? I’m feeling like live-in help might be our best option.

    I’d love to know how other families in a similar position are approaching this.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      …like what is she expecting you to do? Day cares are closed, schools are closed, you can’t bring people into your home that don’t live there.

      Does your company have a policy regarding the coronavirus? Normally sure, wfh doesn’t count as childcare, but childcare doesn’t really exist right now, and these aren’t normal times.

      Ugh this makes me so mad.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        I pressed pretty hard in my convo with her, and was like – surely you can understand that me working from home and being able to take breaks and supervise intermittently is very different than needing to be onsite or available to go onsite, and there is essentially no childcare right now. You need to register with the state if you want to send your kids to childcare, most places haven’t been able to meet the safety requirements and staff up to open, so I’d be sending them to an unfamiliar location, and the few that are open local-ish weren’t actually an option for me – kiddos too young/no spots/must be potty trained/hours too limited, etc. She doesn’t have kids, wasn’t aware of any of the restrictions, and was just a broken record “there was an email that WFH isn’t a sub for childcare.”

        That email came from the CHRO, who I’ve found to be tone deaf several times of late, although there were other things from more senior leadership that acknowledged the realities of the situation. I’m pretty pissed about that particular incident and plan to let them know in the next employee engagement survey.

        As far as policy, there’s guidance on like- absence due to lack of childcare won’t count against you in the normal absenteeism policy, but it’s also clear that you’re expected to “work with your manager to develop a plan” but my manager has always abdicated her authority as a director and will point to the rules as written. Any sort of flexibility and creativity has always been shot down so I’m not terribly hopeful there.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Uggggghhhhhhhhhh

          Was that email sent pre-covid/shelter in place? Because if so it is out of date and can’t/shouldn’t be used as policy. If for some reason they sent it during it they shelter in place, I’d honestly recommend reaching out to the person Alison mentioned for workplaces behaving badly during covid, because they deserve some shaming if they aren’t offering any flexibility.

          I know you’re already so busy, but if you have any time at all, maybe start some light job-hunting, reach out to some recruiters? Because they sound unreasonable and you might need to get a head start out of there.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            I’ve thought about it. In good times, I’m paid very well for the work I do, and the schedule is good for my family. We’re one of the leading health systems in the area, and best positioned to weather this storm. The Tall Americano’s hospital might not be so lucky, which is yet another reason to tough it out.

            Boss’ crappiness is something I was previously able to just work around, COVID has not infected her with empathy or flexibility.

            The email was sent very early in covid but as part of a – here’s how to social distance your team package. I think this was before or just as schools were shutting down. It’s 100% possible that it wasn’t thought through, but if I were to point out the unreasonableness they would say to take it up with boss.

            1. Working Mom*

              I *have* to believe that if you keep pushing on this in an appropriate way they have *got* to see reason. Right?! I mean, even those with older kids – it’s not necessarily realistic to leave a 7th grader home by themselves all day every day. Sure, they probably won’t burn the house down (fingers crossed) but they probably are not going to be getting their school work done either. So I have to imagine that any parents with school-aged children will have similar struggles, even if they are technically old enough to be left home alone. Also, what about families with older kids (like HS aged) but also younger kids? For example – if I have a 17 year old and a 10 year old; can I realistically expect the 17 year old to maintain their own school and also parent/homeschool the 10 year old all day every day?

              I really really really hope that your company agrees to an alternative solution for any parents. Schools and day cares are closed, period. And if day cares re-open, you may or may not be able to secure a spot.

            2. CupcakeCounter*

              So one other option would be your partner to take a LOA instead of you. If yours is the more secure bet, I would have them be the one to bite the bullet and take over the childcare. That would also keep you off the “mommy-track” radar.
              Obviously this is moot if The Tall Americano’s income is significantly higher or you need both incomes.

              1. Half-Caf Latte*

                Was trying to keep it brief, but his work is mission critical to pandemic response, he’s leading clinical decision making. It would be a huge disservice to the clinicians and patients.

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  In my area, childcare is prioritized for the children of healthcare workers, and they’ve opened some specialty places just for those kids. Can you check whether your husband’s position means you could get childcare at least some of the week?

                  In my area, availability is changing rapidly, so what was true last week may be different today.

                2. allathian*

                  I’m sorry your boss is being an ass in this situation. But yeah, I second the suggestion of looking into daycare based on your husband’s essential job. But yeah, in your shoes I’d be looking for another job, because your boss is being completely tone deaf in this situation.

    2. Kate*

      Not well!

      I am a single parent of a 5 YO. Normally I have FIVE reliable back up plans for childcare. All of them have gone out the window during COVID-19.

      Thankfully I have a much more understanding boss than yours, but I 100% agree that nothing has changed.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Yes! I feel you on the multiple backups failing.

        1) Both the Tall Americano and I took non-clinical roles in part because we knew both being front line healthcare wasn’t going to be sustainable in the long run with a young family, so we pursued areas of interest that took us away from patient care. Now being told “you work in healthcare you signed up for this” is … maddening.

        2) Daycare is closed, see above comment about the process in my state.

        3)Parents of local teenagers/college kids don’t want them coming to a house that has someone coming to and from the hardest hit hospital it the city, and I get that.

        4) My parents are high risk, and can help but can’t be 40 hours a week solo.

        1. Adele*

          This is not optimal (but what is these days?), but can you and kiddo move in with your parents until childcare reopens? They can watch your child during working hours and you can do before/after work hours. I know this will be hard for you as a family unit, but if your boss is a real asshat about this, it might be a workable solution.

          I would also consider bumping your boss’s ridiculous inflexibility up the chain of command if her boss or her boss’s boss have or had children and are more reasonable.

    3. Nance*

      I feel like “work (or not) what you can and hope it works out” is where so many of us will be if/when this extends even longer. I feel lucky in that my employer is sympathetic and flexible. So if I lose my job it’s because we are in financial trouble/go out of business. Not because I can’t work as much. Which is… some comfort? Ugh.

      School ends in 6 weeks here. Kids are signed up for camp, but I’m not super optimistic about that happening. My back-up plan is to cut back to about 50% at work and do all my hours late at night or early in the morning, so I can be a parent during the day.

      My spouse works full time outside of the home. It’s unlikely he would be able to cut back on his hours.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        I’ve thought about cutting back hours, but I’m worried that in the long run I’m mommy-tracking there, or that I’ll get judged more harshly for it.

        Not to sound like a braggart, but I’m substantially more efficient normally than my peers, and I’ve been able to maintain my usual productivity (some reductions because we’re not doing some projects due to covid) in fewer than 40 hours. I’ve also been actively offering to help my peers with any work they need done, and have pitched in across the team.

        There’s a part of me that’s like – would i really do less work, or would I just be offering to work for less money?

        1. pbnj*

          Yes I’ve had friends who negotiated part-time work in pre-COVID times and pretty much just ended giving themselves a pay cut for doing the same amount of work. I’d say tread carefully, unless your company has a strong track record of adjusting for part-time appropriately.

        2. WellRed*

          I can’t speak to any of the challenges you are facing, but I do want to say, I think you are already being judged harshly.

        3. allathian*

          In that case, quit pitching across the team. Do your job and only your job and ignore the rest. I mean, if someone asks you for a favor, you can say yes if you honestly feel you have the resources to do it. But in this situation, the first thing is to stop volunteering to take on more work. If you can get the same thing done in 25 hours as your colleagues do in 40, take the 15 off to care for your kid.
          Rockstars get pushback because more is expected of them than ordinary plodders. But you’re only shooting yourself in the foot because when circumstances change, the high expectations remain while you’re struggling to meet them.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I really hope Alison chimes in on this because I’m sure I’ve read suggestions from her on just this subject. I just can’t remember where!

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      To be clear, boss requested you to work on a Sunday for an undefined amount of time, for an undefined reason, and then berated you for not being prepared to be available at a moment’s notice?

      In this case, I’d be sorely tempted to say “It appears that I am being asked to be available for a period of time outside of my normally scheduled hours, for a task that hasn’t been defined, so I will be unable to work on it in advance. How will I report my on-call pay hours, and then the OT hours when the task is actually assigned?”

      When boss gets back to you on how you’ll be paid to be available, including the specific hours for which you’ll be working, you’ll then be able to arrange for the darlings to be cared for.

    6. Nita*

      Trying to not think about this right now. There are too many unknowns. But it does look like my office may reopen before child care does. In theory I could request to work from home longer, because my boss is pretty understanding, but realistically – there is no way I can put in 32 hours from home with three kids and no child care. I’ve only been making it work because my husband happened to be on leave from work when NYC shut down, but his leave runs out soon and I don’t know what we will do then. Especially if he has to physically go back to work. So far his department is working remotely, but who knows how long they will keep it up – they’re support for an essential service, so they may be brought back sooner rather than later.

    7. Meg*

      I’m so sorry. I can’t believe that people are being so shitty to parents…I don’t have kids and honestly that sounds like a nightmare to me. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s infuriating to me that people don’t get that.

      Stepping off my soapbox, I don’t know a ton of the details, but I do know that the CARES act included expanded family leave options, and my understanding is those apply to you if daycares/schools are closed. It may be worth a discussion with your HR (if you have one) about what your options are.

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this. And for the record, you’re doing an amazing job. You’re killing it. Your kids are still alive, and that’s literally the only standard you need to worry about right now.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Thanks. I appreciate it. I haven’t broached with HR, but maybe I should.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          Absolutely. I don’t know if this is universal, but my work has made it clear that you can use the leave intermittently – you don’t have to be out for weeks straight. You can take days off here and there or hours each day. One of my reports is taking 2 hours off every day and flexing his hours so that his spouse can maintain her much more demanding job. He’s been taking paid time off intermittently for full days off but then doing COVID PTO (which is paid at 2/3, so it’s still not ideal).

          I’m in the hard situation where my daycare HAS NOT CLOSED. It is still open and has been since a week into COVID and so I don’t have any of these options available. I cannot say “well I have no options, so I have to make this work.” We are both working, but my partner is a professor with a lot of flexibility (especially after this week – thank god) and we moved in with my in laws during the week and spend weekends at our house to give everyone a break. I am trying to figure out how long we keep our kids out of the daycare we pay for because I really don’t think it’s safe (and most parents are doing the same – I think there are maybe 8 children total there now.)

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Stepping off my soapbox, I don’t know a ton of the details, but I do know that the CARES act included expanded family leave options, and my understanding is those apply to you if daycares/schools are closed. It may be worth a discussion with your HR (if you have one) about what your options are.

        I was coming here to mention this. Look into it, OP (though it may not apply depending on the size of your employer).

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          Oh wait is this the stuff that caps at 500 employees? We’re way over that threshold, and there’s no way they’d ever make a blanket “we’re enacting this anyway” decision, because, frankly, if too many staff don’t come to work we put the public at risk. In healthcare the attitude has always sort of been “you’re on your own and expected to figure out your life and come to work no matter what”, and at my Org that attitude is being applied to clinical and non clinical roles.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            It might be worth a convo with HR to see if they get that they’re making it nearly impossible, though.

          2. pbnj*

            It still might be worth a discussion with HR or a higher manager. Every workplace is different, but I would consider telling HR that you are able to be productive and are getting your work done, but of course you are unable to get child care due to Covid. Use the words “of course” since that calls in a subtle way attention that your manager is being bananas. It sounds a bit like she is retaliating against you, so it may be worth to get this stuff documented.

        2. Quinalla*

          Just for the record, your boss is being ridiculous. Even if these were normal times, you still need to know some info to arrange childcare, what the heck?

          Apply for FMLA, my SIL did so she could take time off with her son who was not in school or able to go to any childcare as her boss was being an asshole in a different way about it. If your boss isn’t going to be flexible, to hell with it IMO.

          My husband and I both are working and childcare is not open yet here (except for limited essential workers). We are just continuing to WFH as neither of our workplaces is requiring or even encouraging anyone to rush back even though our offices can open with social distancing, etc. next week. Both our workplaces fully expect anyone with kids to be doing this because most have no childcare option at the moment and are asking everyone what they need regardless as folks might have other reasons they can’t come back in some/all the time.

    8. Work-life unbalanced*

      No advice, but sympathy. Not in healthcare, but my organization is arguing we’re essential. So I’m in the same boat as the only person with a small child. I’m drowning. Whereas my colleagues are more productive than usual. Knowing this is where I’d be, I submitted a request for leave when the policy came out, and was told off the record if I went through it the request, it’d be denied. So my org seems to be doubling down on lack of childcare is your issue to handle, and while my manager told me privately he can be flexible with expectations, in practice this has sadly not been the case. I’ve been with the org <1 year, and it's depressing to think that, at this rate and with these expectations, I'm probably headed toward a performance improvement plan or being first in line if they decide to do layoffs.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        It’s so frustrating. I keep hoping this is the event that makes us collectively wake up and realize we need social supports for all sorts of reasons, but I have this nagging dread that the lesson learned will be how resilient and bootstrappy individual Americans ought to be.

    9. Koala dreams*

      Can your spouse take next week off from their work to take care of the kids? Your boss is both unreasonable and uninformed (which is a bit scary considered that your work in healthcare), is your spouse’s boss more reasonable? I don’t know exactly what kind of leave you can take in the US for child-care reasons, hopefully the manager or HR at your spouse’s workplace can help find a solution.

      If your boss continues to demand you to be on call all week, you might need to decide which one of you to take long time leave from work to take care of the children. The other solution I’ve heard of is parents working different shifts. If you can each have different shifts, and your spouse can keep on working 75 %, one of you can be at home with the children at all times. It sounds exhausting to me, but some parents have choose this even in pre-pandemic times when they couldn’t find other child-care. I’m thinking you might be able to do this for a month or two waiting for being allowed to hire a nanny or send the children to childcare.

      I’d also suggest talking to your co-workers and push back as a group. If there’s a professional associaton or an union you’re a member of, maybe you can find out from them how other companies deal with similar issues (assigning shifts last minute, extreme on-call demands, lack of flexibility for parents), and some arguments the employees there used when talking to management.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I wanted to add that if your employer refuses to assign shifts in advance, it will of course be impossible for you to take turns looking after the children and working. I understand that. I just wanted to include it as an example of what people with decent and helpful bosses could do.

      2. Half-Caf Latte*

        Spouse is working 16-18 hour days leading clinical pandemic response 7 days a week. I forgot to mention that in my effort to keep this brief…

        1. Koala dreams*

          I’m sorry to hear that. It seems that both of your workplaces are determined to make life as hard as possible for parents. In that case I would recommend you to contact an employment lawyer or the union (if that’s applicable) and see if you (any of you two) have a right to take leave from work to care for your children, and how to apply for that leave. If no such right exists, one of you will probable need to resign. Before resigning, your spouse should ask for leave to take care of the children,if they haven’t already, since some employers are reasonable and prepared to help their employees.

          It’s unfortunate that health care will have less people responsing to the pandemic, but that’s the reality of being a parent. You need to put the needs of your children first, and the needs of work later. If your employer really needed your work, they wouldn’t treat you so horribly. Your employers don’t deserve your work if they can’t treat you well, and demanding you to be on call 7 days 24 hours a day for one days work (in your case) or demanding work 16-18 hours a day 7 days a week (in the case of yours spouse) is long past the “treating workers bad” threshold, even if you didn’t have children.

          Take care! I hope you both find other work as soon as possible.

          1. Koala dreams*

            I’m sorry if I sound harsh. I’m sorry for you, and I understand that you have a hard time. I’m angry with your employer, not with you. I wish I had a better answer… You have my sympathy!

    10. Hillary*

      I don’t have kids, but most of my friends are making it work with a combination of hand offs between parents and extra screen time. But they’re all 100% WFH now, and we’re all senior enough to control our own schedules.

      My brother and SIL are both in healthcare, fortunately with predictable schedules. He’s 25-50% onsite and she’s 100% onsite. The 4-year-old’s daycare is open but they can’t send the kindergartner there. Their isolation venn diagram includes both grandmas and my SIL’s brother (I probably had it in early march and still have some shortness of breath, so I’m out until that resolves). It’s not a good answer since my dad has respiratory problems, but it’s the best we’ve got.

    11. Half-Caf Latte*

      I want to thank everyone who offered your suggestions – I hope I don’t seem as though I was just shooting them down, I’ve had a lot of time to try to come up with a plan over the last 2 months and have considered a lot of options already.

      I think the fact that the Tall Americano’s work is so essential to his org makes this really hard for us – he hasn’t had a day off in over two months, and is working nonstop. Even if he took a day off, he’d get nonstop calls and questions, and it’s all things which really can’t wait. What I’m really worried about is if I’m expected to go back into the office before there’s childcare. Work and home are in different states, and there’s coordination but since I work for a hospital all staff are deemed essential anyway. I just keep hoping there’s some solution out there I haven’t already thought of.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        No suggestions since you’ve already put so much thought into it, but sympathy. Your manager’s sucking right now.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Thank you for explaining the situation! I understand it’s hard when you’re working for a toxic employer. You have done good work just recognizing the situation. In the future, you’ll learn to make better boundaries between work and home, and learn to tell the misplaced loyality to work to go away and stop ruining your life. But it’ll take time.

        As for your spouse, they can shut down the phone on their days off, when they eventually get them. Some people also like to put their phone in a box, like a prison cell for the phone, to remind themself to focus on their children and not get enchanted by their phones, their work and the demands of toxic bosses. I’m actually looking for a suitable box for my phone. I want it to have a soft inside so the phone can sleep well after I shut it off. In my case I get stuck on less stressful things, but I still think the box will go well.

      3. allathian*

        Your spouse’s doing essential work in healthcare. You’re also in healthcare. If there’s anyone who has a right to external childcare right now, it’s you.
        That’s why childcare facilities are mostly empty of kids, to provide as safe as possible a place for the children of healthcare workers and other essential services.
        Children are also the demographic that’s least likely to need ICU care, if they do get sick. If your child is basically healthy, with no chronic conditions that would make them high-risk, I think it might be worth looking into.
        I know it’s anecdotal, but my child-free boss was the least sympathetic of the three I’ve had as a mother. When my son first started daycare, he was sick a lot of the time and both my boss and my then-coworker complained loudly about that. My husband was in a job that required a lot of travel, so it was I who mostly had to stay home with the kid. The second one was a grandmother herself and I never got any pushback from her on any flexibility I needed (and was entitled to, according to the terms of our collective agreement). My current boss is great, she has two daycare-age kids. Thankfully my son’s very healthy now, and he hasn’t even had a sniffle now that we’ve all been sheltering in place.

    12. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Bring the kids with you, and leave them with your boss while you work? I recommend ice cream and candy for breakfast, it’ll make the whole day more entertaining.

      Ok, don’t do that. But dream about it whenever your boss is unreasonable.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 and equip the kids with drums and kazoos…
        Seriously, Half-Caf Latte, AAM readers are sending you sympathetic thoughts. I’m sure I speak for others who have not commented. Your boss needs to be set straight about modern parents and the current no-child-care-no-how-no-where landscape. Lots of good wishes to you.

    13. charo*

      This is a great time to find a childcare person who can appreciate some cash now, before facilities open again — IF you can be sure you all stay healthy. If you find someone, they can be a great backup to the daycare. Don’t you ever need a babysitter for “date night” when there’s not a Pandemic going on?

      And if you work from home do you even need daycare? Or can someone come to your house? Daycare costs a lot, this may be a great time to give someone work at your house.

      1. charo*

        Don’t assume people can only be good in one area. I moved to NYC to be a live-in nanny, because I wanted to live there for a while, but soon found there were plenty of publishing jobs for me so I shifted into that, which was my main profession. I had done childcare and been a Big Sister but had worked in publishing, too.
        A childcare job for cash might be a nice option for someone who’s older, or freelance writes, whatever. As long as she can commit to childcare and enjoys it.

  4. Hermione*

    Any suggestions for how to deal with conflicting timelines when job searching? A few years ago, I got a job offer from one place and I was waiting to hear back from a different job. The first job wanted a really quick turnaround for a decision, and wouldn’t extend that deadline. In retrospect, I didn’t handle this situation super well, and am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for future me?

    1. Annony*

      It sound like in that situation you need to decide if the chance to work at company B is worth turning down company A. It sucks that their timelines didn’t match up, but that is often the case. Many companies are not going to be excited to hear that you would prefer to work somewhere else and that they are your back up plan.
      Now if all you need are a few extra days you can possibly stretch their timeline out by asking more questions about the job and compensation if they haven’t given you all that information earlier. Don’t mention the other company when you ask for time to evaluate their offer though.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      You could also reach out to company A and tell them that you have a job offer from a different company that you need to respond to, but you’d prefer to work for company A, is there any way they could speed things up/give you an update on their timeline, etc? (Use more professional language of course, Alison has some good scripts.)

      They might not be able to and you’re still left debating bird in the hand vs two in the bush, but if they are interested in you it could bump a pending offer up.

    3. Deja vu*

      I’ve also handled this poorly in the past – I agree with the other comments here though: reach out to the company you don’t have an offer from yet. Something like “I wanted to give you a heads up that I have another offer on the table with a deadline of X. Your company is my first choice so I wanted to keep you in the loop. Is there an expected timeline for making a decision?” I failed to send a message like this and ended up getting the offer I wanted a few days after signing paperwork for my second choice :-/. Ultimately though, you’ll have to accept the fact that your preferred company may not be able to make a decision any faster.

      1. Working Mom*

        I once had an EE in this situation – she took the first job offer b/c she couldn’t guarantee the better choice would offer her a job. 2-3 weeks later the better company offered her a job, so she took that one and gave her notice at the first one. Everyone around me talked about how awful she was and how could she possibly do that?! I defended her – loudly and vocally to anyone. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in that situation – she had to do what was best for HER family, and no one can judge her for that! At least that’s what I thought… am I on an island with this perspective?

        1. Hermione*

          To be honest, when I said “I didn’t handle this situation super well”, I did exactly that. To be fair, it was less than a week later, and the start date wasn’t for another couple of months, but I do have regrets with how I handled things… especially given what Alison was pointed out about that behaviour on this blog!

          As someone who’s done this, I understand both sides. Job hunting is hard… it feels stupid to turn down an offer in the hopes of something better… but if the better fit does work out, isn’t is better for everyone in the long run to take it? On the other hand, it’s super flaky and puts the hiring manager in a super tough spot. (And also as Alison pointed out: Could you imagine if you got a job offer recinded bcause their first choice candidate suddenly became available?)

        2. Hiring Mgr*

          I did the same thing about 15 yrs ago… Accepted an offer, but then the job I really wanted came through with an offer a couple days after I accepted…. So I rescinded my acceptance. Felt horrible, and. burned a bridge of course, but in the end it was the right decision.

    4. allathian*

      I handled these things badly, too. To the point that I literally couldn’t apply for more than one job at a time. I had to wait the agonizing process out. I can’t remember how long I waited until I decided that they weren’t going to invite me to an interview, as happened most of the time… Finally I saw two ads for jobs that I wanted just about as much, so I applied to both. During my first week at one job, the second org invited me to an interview. I thanked them and said that I’d just started work somewhere else and that was that. I’m still working for them.

  5. bubbleon*

    I’m really struggling with the layoffs our company decided to make this week. We already have more teapot painters than teacup painters and the majority of our business comes from teacups. Why are we firing people from that team???? They all make roughly the same salary and teacups are significantly more profitable and easier to sell, it makes absolutely no sense.

    Our management still hasn’t figured out that there’s such a thing as too lean and they’re going to start running people off again. The teacup team was already expected to be at capacity for the next few months, adding to their workload now of all times is going to be a disaster.

    I’m a tea set designer so I don’t even have skin in this particular decision but boy if it hasn’t opened my eyes and made me realize how long ago I should’ve been polishing up my resume. Ugh.

    1. LGC (supervisor of teacup painters)*

      …I had to deal with this exact situation in February. In our case, they let loose “lower-performing” teacup painters, in addition to some teapot painters…but the cause of the layoffs was (superficially) that we weren’t going to get any more teapots to paint. I was not pleased since I’d been pushing for months to get more slots for teacup painting, and we actually make more revenue from teacup painting than teapot painting even though we had over twice as many teapot painters.

      The way my manager explained it to me, it was a pretty unique situation – since I work for a mission-based social enterprise, we have requirements on who should be employed. And in this case, management prioritized the mission – they were more likely to release employees who fell outside of the mission’s scope. I still don’t like it, but it made more sense when it was put that way to me. And it turned out that we were able to transfer over a couple of teapot painters as replacements.

      1. bubbleon*

        I wish I could get a straightforward answer like that, unfortunately it’s not the case here. I’ve got some insight into performance and know the ones who were let go weren’t the lowest performers, but I have my suspicions about the motives for some of the decisions. We could, in theory, transfer teapot painters, but if that had been the plan (which I doubt) they would’ve had to be trained by now in order to pick up the slack.

        1. LGC*

          …to be fair, the main reason my boss told me is because I supervise the teacup team! So I was on the need-to-know list. In addition, since I also do some basic analytics and run the invoices for all of our porcelain projects, I already had some insight into the situation. And I’m still pretty sure she didn’t tell me the whole truth, because those were not the people I would have laid off.

          But hearing part of the thinking did help me realize that layoffs aren’t just about performance, and – unfortunately – what you see on the ground might not be what upper management sees from their perspective.

    2. WearingManyHats*

      I wish I had a good answer, but at least know you aren’t alone. My company is pivoting strategies without considering the core needed to keep everyone running imho. I’m HR but not asked much about strategic decisions so now my job is basically laying people off and running what payroll is left.

      Good luck in your search!

    3. TV*

      I think a lot of layoffs have unintended consequences. The layoffs in my department happened to coordination managers who were at retirement eligibility (though not age, one was in his late 40’s and this is the only company he has ever worked for). While these managers weren’t a direct link in the the chain to produce products aka they weren’t teapot makers, painters, etc, they did a lot of the behind the scenes stuff to run the program. So what you have left is a supply chain but no one managing them. I’m keeping my eyes open for other positions because I have no idea how we are going to function like this.
      The layoffs in the rest of the organization, while some of the positions eliminated made sense because we weren’t going to fund them long term, some just seemed…convenient given how much of a fuss those individuals made over the years.

    4. Nesprin*

      It’s amazing how valuable good management is. We sell tea cups too, and management keeps the house painter around since he’s golf buddies with management and might be useful for teacup painting someday in the future. grrrrrrrrrr.

  6. Sunflower*

    Checking in on folks who were unhappy/job searching before shutdown.

    How are you guys staying hopeful?

    I feel extremely defeated right now and like my life(both in and out of work) is stuck at a standstill while time moves past me. It’s super disheartening as I’m a generally hopeful person. When I’m feeling down, I can always put together an actionable plan for change- But now it feels like there is no change possible for near future. Being patient and riding things out is something I struggle with- and I’ve already been doing for almost a year in this job. I know why we’re shut down and agree but everyday it goes on, it feels like the time it will take for the job market to pick up multiplies. Hope everyone’s hanging in and eager to hear how you’re keeping spirits up.

    1. Anonandon*

      This may or may not be helpful to you but my honest answer is: therapy. It helps to have someone outside the situation remind me that there is still hope and eventually, at least by law of averages, there WILL be another company that wants me. I was in late stages of interviewing for a position and a company I knew I would LOVE when all this hit. That was a huge blow to me. My therapist has helped me put into perspective that “on hold” is not “rejected.”

    2. Unsolicited*

      I interviewed for two jobs in March, just as my home state started shutting down. To date, I’ve received one rejection and an announcement that the other job is indefinitely on hold. There are very, very few job posts for anything in my wheelhouse now, so I’ve paused my job hunt.

      Right now, I am focused on building up my resume via remote volunteering, certifications, conferences, etc. It’s tough to spend hours seated in front of a computer listening to recordings, taking notes and completing assessments.

      If you don’t mind, could you share what would typically be your action plan? How are you getting by in your job?

    3. MissGirl*

      I’m struggling too. I changed jobs in the fall. At my old job, had I stayed, I would’ve been right in the swing of things doing stuff that had a real and measurable impact on a hospital financial system.

      At my new job, I’m supporting a group that has been largely shut down. I keep hearing About all these amazing projects other people are working on but I can’t. I’ve asked to be included several times because I have a really appropriate skillset but they’re going to other teams more in the thick of it and with more time at the company.

      So I’m channeling all my work ambition into my side hustle. I have two self-pub books out. I’m about to launch a third and I’ve written half of another in two weeks.

      But I’m still ridiculously excited that elective surgeries are starting back up in my area. That means my workload should hopefully come back.

    4. living-in-colour*

      Glad to know I’m not alone, haha :) I’ve been at my company since graduating from college almost 5 years ago and have been in various states of distress the entire time. These last couple of weeks have left me feeling more trapped than I’ve ever felt before. I should have left long ago, but I’m still here because a) job searching fucks with my mental health and b) they keep throwing money at me to get me to stay. But I just don’t know how much longer I can take it. Leadership is terrible and I’ve been pushed into projects I told them I didn’t want to do (in my annual review no less) but here I am, under constant pressure to do more and more. I fantasize about quitting but then remember I have medications I need to pay for, and I’m 26 so can’t go back on my parents insurance plan.

      It’s a long story and not unique by any means, I just feel so trapped and don’t see a way out.

    5. Alex*

      It’s tough. All the places I was looking to work now have an official hiring freeze in place so…

    6. Kramerica Industries*

      +1 for solidarity.

      Just want to add that it’s okay to be unhappy in your job right now. “At least you have a job” is not the kind of optimism that people think it is. Keep on searching!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Yup, this. I was laid off in January due to restructuring. Since then two offers were rescinded thanks to Covid 19. I’m still looking very actively, interviewing via Skype, and just doing my best to keep myself together. Sometimes it helps to remind myself that so far in life things have worked out, so there’s every possibility that they will work out this time too. Hang in there, you’re not alone!

    8. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’m about to lose my job thanks to Covid-19, and admit I have mixed feelings. I’m almost 60 years old, and have been in corporate staffing for my entire career. Before I took this job I was thinking about changing fields, but now I don’t think that’s feasible. If I’m going to find another job this year, it’ll need to be in talent acquisition. Except I don’t think that’s feasible, either, for obvious reasons. I’ve been networking for the past month and I don’t see opportunities for my level of experience.

      So I hear you, Sunflower! Part of me wants to take time this summer to think and plan for a career makeover. Things aren’t going to suddenly come roaring back to life in the job market anytime soon, so I’ll have time. And things WILL get better – they always have, right? – so I should be ready. I might need to go back to school for a different degree, but it’s a thought I can’t shake.

      1. allathian*

        I’m sorry. But I think it’s encouraging that you’re thinking about going back to school at an age where most are thinking of retirement (whether or not they’re in a position to actually take it).

    9. Susie Q*

      I was doing well with an application process for another job. But it’s been paused with Covid 19 and who knows when it’ll pick back up again. The process will take more than a couple of months. We are trying to plan on when to try to get pregnant again. But you have to work at most places for a year to qualify for FMLA. It’s really depressing that I have to think about things like this when family planning.

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m feeling the same as you are but on a personal level. Haven’t quite reached the defeated feeling in work related yet. It doesn’t help that the majority of advice I read here and in other spaces is “don’t quit your job if you already have one!” >> what about those that lost it because of this. Hoping things get better soon <3

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m pushing hard on resume-building projects at the current job to be honest. I spent too much time temping during a recession to be comfortable losing seniority in the current economy. But I do plan to start sending the resume out and taking some tentative steps to be prepared in case they start pushing to have us go back before schools are open.

    12. August*

      Same. I’ve been wanting out of my current job since the first couple of months, but actually turned down a lower-paying (but much more engaging) job back in January because I was certain I could find something with better pay. Now…not so much. Very mixed regrets here. Trying to stay optimistic, but feeling grateful for a paycheck doesn’t negate how much I dislike the job itself.

      1. miho*

        same… I’ve been at my current job for almost a year now, and three months into it, I knew that it wasn’t the right fit for me. I forced myself to stay at least one year to buff up my resume (and also because I was holding out hope that things would get better at this job). I was offered another opportunity back in February, but turned it down because that organization didn’t seem like a good fit either. I had my regrets for a while, but I recently heard that the organization is currently furloughing the entire team (and will most likely lay them off soon). I am still not very happy at my current position, but at least I am employed and dodged a potential bullet with this other org.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know that I am hopeful. :\

      I’m still applying for jobs, and I’ve started applying out of state again (since hey, there’s no excuse for not supporting telecommuting right now, and I’m willing to relocate as soon as it’s safe, and saying so). But I’m just getting rejected. I can’t tell if I suck, the job sucks, or if they’re just posting to have something to do and not actually hiring. It kinda feels like people are just sitting around on their VPN waiting to reject my application.

      It’s bad enough no one will hire me because I’m unemployed, but the pandemic is making that worse. I can’t even say I’m unemployed due to the pandemic. I fought so hard to get out of food service, and now I’m fighting to get out of the admin pool, but it’s just a hole with Teflon sides and it’s filling up with water. :(

    14. Middle Manager*

      It’s hard, but I’m really trying to stay focused on being grateful that I have a job and it’s one that I can safely do from home. I’m not pollyanna-ish about it, I recognize that while there are some deeply rooted cultural issues with my office and the pandemic has in many ways exacerbated them, at the moment it’s definetly the lesser of two evils (the greater being unable to work at all or having to work in a job with a big exposure risk).

      One of the things that has helped me re-frame it is that I’m getting a chance to do work outside my normal scope that will make me more marketable in the long term. Is there a way you might be able to take an online class now with your stimulus check or do something else that will set up long term to get a new job when we’re back to the new normal?

      Hang in there. It’s hard all around not to get demoralized right now!

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I’m with Middle Manager: at this point I’m lucky to be employed at all, and I probably won’t get laid off because we are SO short staffed. Now I feel fortunate that I hadn’t gotten a job elsewhere that might not have kept me on after all. I don’t think I will ever get a “creative” job now because I’m so lucky mine isn’t expendable. I think I’m always going to make sure I’m in something that isn’t easily canned.

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        I have so much guilt around that. Hate my job and manger at the mo, but so many people don’t.

    15. designbot*

      yeah… after a bad review last year and some difficulties with one of our partners, I had a conversation with him where I literally said, “If you don’t think I belong here please tell me now, because I would hate to be job searching a year from now when there are fewer opportunities” and he assured me that wasn’t the case… however, I feel that way more than ever. So hey, you know, I’m now in exactly the position I did not want to be in, multiplied by a pandemic!

    16. MissDisplaced*

      Eh! I mean I was looking, but being very selective. Still doing same.
      Thus far, my company has handled things pretty well during this time. So much so, that even if states are re-opening, we still are keeping our facilities in those states closed and we’re under WFH with the exception of necessary field staff.

      My unhappiness was more with WFH being curtailed, and some leadership. But now it’s all WFH so I’m actually much happier with my work overall.

    17. RemoteHealthWorker*

      The way I see it. Only the best run companies are hiring right now. Sure at first it was disheartening to go from so many choices it was overwhelming to 6-8 open roles but now I just remind myself cream rises to the top. Half my work has been done for me.

    18. EndlessFiling*

      Not me, but my father lost his job at the end of 2019 and had not found a new one yet by the time all this mess came around. We were all very stressed about it, since he supports my brother. He now does delivery driving all day long (through one of those fancy delivery apps, not through a restaurant) as a temporary fix, but he enjoys it so much he told me that he was dreading going back to what he did before. He loves to drive and it gives him something productive and meaningful to do during the quarantine.

      I know not everyone’s situation is the same, but I just wanted to share something more positive.

      1. allathian*

        If he can support himself and your brother delivery driving, why not make it a more permanent job? Many people will continue to order food online even after the restrictions are lifted, because it’s so easy and practical, especially with an app where you can follow your order.

        1. allathian*

          Casual workers rarely get benefits, I understand that… I wasn’t thinking.

    19. Lonely Aussie*

      I’m struggling. It’s getting harder and harder to get out of bed each day. I was aiming to start my job search in Feb and then got injured at work in mid Jan, so my job search got derailed while I was on work cover and recovering (I work in blue collar jobs and wouldn’t have been physically able to work in a new one.) arm is getting better but there’s no one hiring and work is deemed essential across a couple of different categories. There’s nothing really going, the market is saturated with people like me and with better candidates.

      What makes it worse, is that when I was injured my manager tried to down play the injury and made it clear that I was the biggest inconvenience due to being on light duties. Despite being told I wasn’t to use my right arm (dominate hand) and to be very careful about using my left (because I need one good arm) he basically bullied me the whole time I was working under him. When they moved me to a different area with a much more understanding manager because there was more work for me, I finally felt like I could breathe again. I started enjoying being at work. When the covid stuff got really real they moved the peeps who lived together (couples, parents/kids, housemates) so they were in the same area, in shuffle I’ve ended up back under him and I’m not coping. I dread work. I spend most of my days trying to navigate doing more to regain my strength while trying not to over do and trying not to set him off. He’s a big, solid shouty dude with a short fuse and a desire for everything to be done yesterday. He wants me to do more than whats on the legally binding list of return to work activities while also not letting me do stuff that’s on the list (he doesn’t like me to doing data entry for some reason).

        1. Lonely Aussie*

          HR is aware. He’s been warned about behaving. They’re based in another state though, and it’s difficult to access them. They keep telling me I need to push back and tell him legally I can’t do it but it’s very hard to stand up for myself in the moment when he’s getting visibly angry with me and kind of posturing/towering over me.

    20. Tenebrae*

      I’m in a similar position – was job hunting and now everything’s ground to a standstill. What’s helping me is trying to keep things moving in my non-working life. I’m a writer so I’m trying to send out short stories and prep a novel. Do you have some sort of equivalent in your life? It’s not perfect but find it helps.

    21. urban teacher*

      I am in that same boat, also. I had given my teaching job my notice for the end of the year because I was trying to get a job in a different field. Now I find myself having to rescind my resignation and keep my awful job because every college has put hiring on hold and are cutting positions. I stay sane by therapy and realizing this is a set back not a forever back. Also, at some point horseback riding will be available and my life will be whole again.

  7. Curious Cat*

    I am employed full time and my company seems to be doing okay, so I think I’ll be safe, which I feel very lucky about.

    However, before this all started, I was planning on trying to leave. My current job is not a skills fit, my manager is toxic and it had been grating on my mental health and confidence.

    I’ve been so stressed that I couldn’t even think about applying for a new job, things are starting to settle a bit more, so now I’m thinking about what to do next.

    But I need to get a real sense of what it’s like out there so I can prepare myself for how long and hard it might be to find a new job, and I figured this place would give it to my straight.

    I’m not in service/hospitality/travel which I know have been the hardest hit. But how ridiculous is it to think I might be able to find a job in the next few months? Especially when I would be looking for a slightly different role than I’ve been doing. Give me your most honest answers. Thank you!

    1. Wing Leader*

      It’s going to depend a lot on the industry you’re looking at, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous. There’s certainly no guarantees, of course, but I don’t think there’s any harm in trying.

    2. The Original K.*

      I think it depends on the industry. If you can apply your skills to areas that are expanding (or at least not shrinking), you might have better luck. For example, my friend is a teacher and she’s finding that schools are pausing their hiring because they’re not sure what next year will look like, so she’s looking at virtual learning platforms.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It depends heavily on your field and geographic area, but in general right now I would advise most people to assume a job search is likely to take longer than a few months. It might not, but you should plan on that very real possibility.

  8. Anxious Librarian*

    I manage job and career programming at a public library. Yesterday my library system (which has been closed since mid-March) sent out an email to all of our patrons that the library is going to be a leader in supporting the economic recovery whenever it reopens.

    But there’s a problem: I have little idea of what we can really do to help in this situation. My staff and I have conducted workshops and one-on-one help before the pandemic, but little of the advice is going to apply now, the job market is obviously a disaster, patrons are going to be desperate for help (we were already overwhelmed when the economy was good), and the only answer we have right now to virtually every question is “I don’t know.”

    So I guess I have two questions for everyone:

    What career- or job-related programming would you want to see at your local library when everything reopens? 

    How to prepare/gain knowledge:
    I’m reading every post on Ask a Manager every day (Alison, we are truly indebted to you!). I’m attending webinars about the job market as I’m able to find them. What else should I be doing to stay on top of all of the news so I’m prepared for when we eventually reopen? 

    It’s perhaps discouraging to hear a librarian asking these questions, but we are unfortunately in the same leaky boat as everyone else and would be truly grateful for some guidance. Thanks!

    1. GigglyPuff*

      I don’t have any programming suggestions, honestly don’t know how public librarians think up all that stuff, I’m not that creative, so glad I didn’t do that specialty, would’ve been disastrous!

      Anyway, if you guys are getting a lot of in-person traffic related to just jobs, maybe have dedicated computers/stations just for that?

      Good luck!

    2. bizref librarian*

      I’m an academic business librarian- here are a couple of thoughts off the top of my head.

      If you have access to your area’s business journal (bizjournals dot com), that’s a good source of business/job/career/etc information for your local area. Just to get a sense of what’s going on, and where you might see gaps in information/programming/skills. I’m fortunate that my library can subscribe.

      Can you reach out to the Small Business Center in your area, if you don’t already have a relationship with them? My public business librarian friends often partner with the SBC in their towns on programming & support for jobs/entrepreneurs/small business research/etc.

      I follow @ SECNews on Twitter, which announces webinars & other things that may or may not be relevant to you. There’s a hashtag #SECsmallbiz, too.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        To piggyback off the SBC suggestion here, reach out to your city’s Chamber of Commerce to get ideas about what kind of jobs-related programming your library should host. You guys may be able to help with webinars and other research-heavy initiatives they have planned.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      I’d say one thing would be to do your best to find and provide accurate info about unemployment/turning down work/partial unemployment! Not exactly job-related but very close! Maybe either write up FAQs or print out the latest info and make copies available with pointers to where they can find it online too.

      1. Catwoman*

        I second this. Unemployment laws are changing rapidly as well as sick leave policies. I think jobseekers and people needing to go on unemployment could definitely use this support right now.

        Beyond this, I think reaching out to local businesses to see how they are handling the virus and publishing these interviews on a blog could be helpful. You could also put out a call for businesses to contact you regarding their hiring status for you to help get the word out.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          Yes! When I was in public libraries, we once had a patron who had worked for the unemployment office for 20+ years, he came and did a session that included lengthy time for Q&A. I had forgotten about it until I saw the suggestion. It was really successful for us, and was in 2011, so in our area as things were still pretty low from 2008 recession.

      2. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Seconding this! Look into if you can get any unemployment experts, career coaches, or resume/cover letter experts to record a short lecture or series of lectures. Compile everything job related into one page, and update it frequently. Maybe add a “job help” link on your website homepage, if you don’t already have one. Reach out to any small business centers, local universities, or job training offices to see if you can promote any of their resources.

    4. irene adler*

      Might reach out to any local professional organizations and ask them for advice/info/input.

      Or, you might tabulate the contact info for a range of professional organizations with chapters in your area. You can then direct your patrons to these organizations for job/industry info.

      My local professional organization is working with an employee at a local recruiting company to assist our members with up to-date info on the industry job market. She reached out to us and wants to be a long-term partner in conjunction with our members in job placements (temp and perm positions).

    5. Buttons*

      I had no idea such a job existed for a librarian! Do you have additional training in that area, or is that something you learned on your own?
      I am in talent and leadership development and often volunteer my time and expertise to organizations such as domestic violence shelters, group homes for troubled teens, etc, to help their clientele with resumes, job searching, how to apply online, how to upload resumes, how to format resumes, resume templates, interview skills and practice. You might reach out to one of the talent development organizations in your area, such as Association of Talent Development, to see if they can offer resources or if anyone would be willing to volunteer to help you come up with a curriculum or objectives at least. Association of Talent Development would also be a great learning resource for you to learn about this field and the practices behind it, if you haven’t received any formal education or training in this area.
      If Allison can coordinate contact between us, I would be willing to volunteer some time and some of my existing content that may be beneficial to you. I would even do a volunteer phone coaching session with you to help you know how to navigate such facilitation if that is not in your wheelhouse. :)
      Good luck!!
      Allison if you can help connect us I would love to offer any help I can!!

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      In the US, the Department of Labor has local career centers who can partner with libraries in lots of ways to provide services. Perhaps you could partner with DOL or the Chamber of Commerce or other similar organizations to hold a job fair or open recruitments at the library.

      Definitely create some cheat sheets from your local DOL site about filing for UI, the requirements, and troubleshooting issues. (And the Career Center would have those too… and might be able to email them to you before you open.)

      Maybe a wall of informative posters would make sense too … “where to go if” … including all of your favorite community support services, info about sanitation and curve flattening, ways to get internet access at home for folks who are low income, alternative resources like the community sharing projects that are popping up.

      Anything you can add to your website now would be amazing. Libraries are such amazing resources, and once you start creating an information hub, more folks can reach out to add additional tools that make sense for your area.

    7. Blueberry*

      Goodness, could whomever wrote that letter have checked with you first? I’m so sorry someone else wrote a check you now have to cash.

      1. bibliovore.*

        oh Blueberry. This is so typical behavior in public libraries that it isn’t even remarkable.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I also came here to say, oh Blueberry, that made me laugh so hard!

        Check with the library first!! Lolololol

    8. Anne of Green Gables*

      Also a librarian, though no longer in public libraries.

      Riffing off of bizref librarian: small business centers are usually (at least in my state) affiliated with the local community or technical college. Community colleges could be a great programming partner for you in these times. In addition to continuing ed resources, many higher ed institutions have incentives right now to keep people in classes.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        Not shocked. NYPL has that whole business library…someplace…Brooklyn maybe? or maybe that’s the Brooklyn library (BPL)?

        Never used the business library but I love NYPL. It saves my book budget, especially when they buy the books I suggest. (I love my library.)

        1. pancakes*

          You’re thinking of the Science, Industry and Business Library at Madison & 34th. I went once with a friend who was working for a science publication. Agree, NYPL is amazing!

    9. Kimmybear*

      I think we are going to see lots of people job searching that haven’t searched in a long time so think of topics for them (resume building, online job searching, online applications). My parents (recently retired) don’t get that walking into a business and filling out an application doesn’t happen anymore because they hadn’t job searched in 30 years or more.

      Also, partner with your local school systems to see what opportunities they may have when they figure out how to reopen. Are they going to need more substitutes? Do they need more school health aides? Do they need more tech staff to support distance learning? Do they need more bus drivers since you need to space kids out on the bus?

      1. a good mouse*

        This is really great advice about people job searching who haven’t in a long time, in the worst job market any of us have seen. I think online job searching would be a great resource right now. They might also benefit from advice or resources about transferable skills, if they work in an industry that is particularly hard hit.

    10. Mervyn Bunter*

      Another idea is to provide information on organizations that are offering job skills training classes or other opportunities — many are remote, some are low- or no-cost right now. Might be helpful to those who are looking to upskill or reskill.

    11. Candy*

      I think a lot of job search and how-to guides to finding government assistance will be needed when we all re-open. ie. Virtual Career and Job Search Tour, Ask a Career Advisor, What Covid Response Programs Fit Your Needs,Short Term Business Survival Strategies, Finding and Applying for Government Assistance

      And then maybe some fun stuff for teens — Recording and Editing Video Content, Intro to Tik Toc and Dance Moves, Remote Learning Strategies for Students, Hosting a Successful Online Event, etc etc

    12. A Non E. Mouse*

      What career- or job-related programming would you want to see at your local library when everything reopens?

      What about job-adjacent resource help?

      Some things I’m thinking of:

      – Information on “dress for success”-type programs in your area

      – Childcare listings (my county provides a list of licensed carers, but an aggregated list of locally available lists like that would be nice)

      – Dental and health care resources for those that are between jobs

      – Help navigating free online job-readiness courses, or pointing people to library-provided sources (Excel classes, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, Linda.com, etc.)

      – Job board: like “this week these three job fairs are going on at such-and-such time, don’t forget to check these lesser-known resources for open positions…”

      – Another aggregated list that might be helpful is local, state and federal aid they might not know they are eligible for…so maybe a “you’ve just been laid off, here’s what you do next…” not just for employment, but food aid, rent help, did you know you can call your creditors and ask for a lower rate, etc.

    13. DragoCucina*

      At the library I just left (as ED) it’s common to partner with staffing agencies. They hold their job fairs and interviews at the library. It is great because they can explain exactly what lama teapot employer is looking for on the application. It eases some of the stress off the staff. The agencies love it and they talk to each other and promote the idea.

    14. Paris Geller*

      So luckily as my library hasn’t promised this yet (I mean, it’s definitely information we want to provide, but we haven’t said as much because well, there’s so much we don’t know right now). However, I agree with a lot of the other suggestions. There are probably some local non-profits that focus on job skills/job readiness–putting a resource together listing all those would be helpful. Perhaps partnering with someone from the local workforce commission who could be on-site (when it’s safe to do so) for a few hours a week if that’s something they’re willing to do. Pointing jobseekers to updated information on resumes, cover letters, etc.

      Additionally, it there are small business funds in your area, you could create a list of those as well. I know the national loan program has been rolled out, but at least in my area, there’s some local foundations that are donating/loaning at low rates to true local small businesses (less than 10 employees, less than 20 employees).

      For something that might not take much staff time (except up front) it might be worth creating a special collection with all your career and job-seeking titles so that patrons can easily explore and find books on resumes, interviewing, etc.

      I would also suggest adding into your resources on local mental health resources. Losing a job in a pandemic is terrifying; I’m afraid when we re-open and things get slightly better but so many people are out of jobs there could be an uptick in the rate of suicide, self-harm, etc. Us librarians aren’t social workers, but we can direct people to the appropriate resources.

    15. New Senior Manager*

      My son “graduates” from grad school next in the College administration field with 5 years of professional experience. Had a conversation with him tonight and he admitted he was depressed because he had 7 interviews within past few weeks that all looked promising but now 6 have said they are no longer hiring for those positions. The other is waiting for an approval to “possibly extend an offer.” If you could consider a workshop on mental health, that would be helpful for those feeling like him or in worse straits. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  9. Anon Today*

    No advice needed, just wanted to send good vibes out there to anyone who needs them. Personally, my company announced layoffs and salary reductions this week so I’m bummed. Glad to have survived this wave of layoffs but continuing to tell myself it’s ok to have feelings about the situation as a whole. If you’re going through something similar, just know you can be grateful and sad at the same time. I’ve been reminding my coworkers of that.

    Hang in there, everyone.

  10. College is haunting me*

    I spoke to a few recruiters this week. The conversation with the first one went great. The second one messaged me on LinkedIn and asked something related to my cultural/religious background. He’s from the same or a similar background and I get he was trying to just make conversation but for some reason that stuff makes me uncomfortable. I sent over my resume and he asked if he can text me his business card. But my main concern is about the last one I met with. 

    The recruiter started off by asking about my college background and GPA and what I did since I finished college. My resume starts at my most recent position which began in 2014. I explained that I graduated in 2009 during a recession so I held seasonal/temp/pt jobs (think call center, retail, etc) between graduation and 2014 but they weren’t relevant to the positions I was searching for. I have to admit that for the GPA, I was really thrown off by that and I couldn’t’ remember so the recruiter said “oh just give me a ballpark, if anything we can request transcripts.” 

    He then asked how my search is going and I have an answer ready for that question (“I just started applying and I know in the best of times hiring is slow, so I’m managing my expectations.”) but he kept pressing, like what companies I’m applying to (“oh just small companies” (oh who?”). My tone must have conveyed my hesitance because he explained why he was asking. 

    He asked when exactly my last day was. On my resume I have it as April but HR called me on 3/27 and sent the letter on 3/31. When I had updated my resume, I had put it to -Current because I was still employed there but I changed it a few weeks later to April 2020 not really thinking about the date. 

    He asked my salary range (75-85k for a licensed senior accountant professional with 7 years experience including managerial/supervisory) and asked how I came up with that figure. Uh…research? He asked my entire salary history. Internally I was like, my company really lowballed me. 

    In the end, he said my resume is great, but to add my education (which I understand) and that some sections were 10.5 font while others were 10 pt font. 

    This is where I’m flummoxed. For various reasons, I did not do well in school. I wasn’t really working much, and there’s not much I can “spin” that wouldn’t be a huge exaggeration. It took me 6-8 years to finish a 4 year program with 122 credits. My GPA was atrocious. I technically finished my coursework in 2009 but I didn’t apply to get my degree until 2011 and left it pending for various reasons. My degree is in an unrelated subject but my minor and all my electives were in Accounting. I haven’t had to justify my college career in like 5 years. Honestly, I’m not proud of my college experience. I wasn’t very good and I worked really hard at my job so that college wouldn’t come up eventually. I haven’t thought about this for years as I figured with my work history, it shouldn’t be as relevant anymore. 

    Now my questions: 

    1. Was it wrong to not put my college info on my resume? Overall I’m just side eyeing all the college talk. I could get transcripts but I feel like–it’s been 8+ years and I have relevant coursework, just not a full degree? I thought companies wouldn’t care after a certain point? Almost a decade after, should I still be expected to talk about college in interviews and with recruiters? 

    2. Does the month that my last day fall into really matter? My termination letter came on 3/31 and last paycheck 4/10. I did change it to March, but just wondering. To me an end date of March indicates that I was let go prior to COVID while April lines up with COVID layoffs. I used to do a lot of interviewing in my last position and I never bothered about their start/end dates.

    3. Was it really terrible to have 10/10.5 font? I’ve now started saving my resume as PDF but at my last position when I was screening for candidates, I rarely looked for typos or font size.

    3. Are these level of questions (about my salary, my non-resume history, college work) normal? I’ve worked with recruiters in the past and most of them focused on my recent experience and just touched upon my “beginnings.” This recruiter was really friendly and professional on the phone but his questions made me feel like I was a brand new college grad with no working experience. It felt like 2009 all over again. 

    I’m still applying to other places and speaking to other recruiters, but I’m second guessing myself based on the 3 questions I posed above. 

    1. DataGirl*

      I’m surprised he noticed such a small font difference, but I’d go ahead and make them uniform, it’s not like it’s hard to do that. I do think he asked some really weird questions and wouldn’t take your experience with him as the norm. Regarding your degree, it’s unusual for someone to ask about GPA and grades so long after graduation. I graduated long enough ago that I don’t want the year to out my age, and my degrees are in things totally not related to my career, so my education is just this:

      M.S. University Name, Location
      B.A. University Name, Location

      If you want to, you could add the year and/or Major/Minor, but grades definitely don’t need to be part of it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As far as #3, COVID layoffs were certainly happening in March. Besides that, if you were laid off in March, I would just… say March. Not April.

      Most resumes I’ve seen definitely put college info on them, so leaving it off strikes me as odd. Leaving the dates blank is one recommendation I’ve seen, especially for older workers, but I’m not sure that applies here. And I’m not really sure I understand the timeline, but your degree is technically pending? If you were to get a transcript from your university, do you know what it would say? As far as the coursework goes, you should absolutely include that you did coursework in Accounting, however you choose to present your college experience. That part is really important. For what it’s worth, my degree is completely unrelated to my current career, but I list it because it shows that I graduated, plus I had two minors.

      The size of the font is not important, but it IS important to be consistent. That’s why the recruiter brought it up. You can use different fonts for different things (like, say, making your Additional Experience or Skills section smaller than your work history) but make sure you’re following a pattern.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I get what you’re saying. The reason I left it off was because my resume was already at 2 pages. I was able to pare it down and add it.

        To clarify – I finished school in 2009 and in conversations with friends/coworkers etc I just say “I graduated in 09.” but I didn’t apply for my degree audit until 2011 and I received my degree then. So my transcripts would say 2011. That’s what I used to put on resumes when I was job hunting.

        The reason I left it pending for 2 years was because I was planning to go back for a 2nd Bachelor’s degree. But I applied to a few schools and didn’t gain admission and my husband and I were planning to move to his country so I needed the degree but the move never happened.

        I changed my end date to March, I just didn’t think 24 hours would make a difference, but I’m not going to die on that hill.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then that means your degree is not “pending.” You have one– it was awarded in 2011. Just put that down. You don’t need to say which years you attended, just when you graduated. If you had it like that for previous resumes, and you were hired off of those resumes, there’s no reason to change that now.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Oh, and the 24 hours does actually make a difference. It’s not just incorrect to say one month when it’s really another, but it would look really strange if you did it that way because “24 hours shouldn’t make a difference.” If your birthday were on 3/31, you wouldn’t say you were born in April.

        3. Hillary*

          This guy was a jerk. It’s hard to ignore him, but please try.

          Another way to reframe it – you completed your degree in spite of what sounds like a ton of challenges. That’s a huge accomplishment to be proud of. You could just as easily say you finished your coursework in 2009 but didn’t get around to filing the graduation form until 2011.

          You might want to think about paring down other sections – two pages is a lot for six years, and it might raise questions if it looks like you’re trying to hide something. Your resume is a sales document. My goal is 3 bullet points for the older jobs, 5-6 for most recent. I use more space for education than many because there are a couple education things that look impressive and usually add talking points for an interview. I’ve done a lot of interviewing classes over the years on both sides of the table – for me the goal of my resume is to sell myself. Every line has at least one associated accomplishment and story.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            I agree about the length. I’ve been out of college 20 years and I still try to keep my resume to a page. I just can’t think of anything I’ve done that is a reason it should be more then that. If I go for an additional degree, I’ll have to say f- it and go to page two but at this point, every time I add something I ask whether things still there really need to be there.

          2. Julie*

            I’d be unimpressed with a resume that made a point of not getting around to filling out a form for two years. If the degree was awarded in 2011 that’s all you need to say.

            I didn’t read anything in the anecdote to indicate that the recruiter was a jerk. He asked clarifying questions, which is not surprising. If someone is not straightforward about plain facts, as is the case in OP’s retelling here, they may ask questions to make sure they understand properly.

            OP, this is said with compassion: dismissing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable as mean and nasty behaviour won’t help you feel better in the long run.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              ??????

              Nowhere did I indicate he was mean or nasty at all. Yes the questions made me uncomfortable, but I realize that’s on me.

              In fact in my last paragraph, I even said he was really friendly and professional, but the level of questions caught me off guard hence my posting here.

              1. Intro to epistemology*

                Julie was replying to Hillary’s statement, not claiming you said that.

                1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                  Julie said “OP, this is said with compassion: dismissing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable as mean and nasty behavior won’t help you feel better in the long run.”

                  Considering I’m the OP of the post, I would think Julie was saying that to me.

        4. Slutty Toes*

          I was really confused by this reply until I realized that you posted the College Is Haunting Me comment under a different name.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Sometimes I summarize the title of my posts and reply under my “usual” name

            I really like your username lol

            1. Slutty Toes*

              Thanks! I stole it from a letter writer a few months ago whose coworker was complaining about her shoes. It was so silly that it stuck with me.

    3. Catwoman*

      1. List your degree, including your minor because that’s relevant to the work you’ve done since then. All you need to do is list the degree and where you got it from. GPA is totally irrelevant at this point.

      2. You should say March because that can come back to bite you. March is the most accurate month. If it’s a lay off everyone knows why, don’t worry about that.

      3. Not terrible, but easy to fix so just do it.

      4. The fixation on college is weird to me, but I have very little experience with recruiters.

      1. Anon for this*

        I agree. Was there NO mention of a college degree at all? If not, then it’s totally valid to inquire to make sure an applicant even has a degree. Also regarding March, to give the wrong month shows poor attention to detail at best and deception at worst. That combined with vague or absent college would make me suspicious, like what else is this candidate hiding?

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          That’s what I figured, so I changed it asap, I wasn’t trying to be deceptive or shady. I understand why its necessary to add college to my resume, I was just thrown off by all the questions, but it makes total sense now.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            All I have on mine is
            BBA in Accounting from State University

            That’s all. I took GPA and graduation date off as soon as I landed my first post-college role that aligned with my degree.

      2. Beatrice*

        Alternately, leave off your major and minor entirely. Mine lists that I have a B.A. from XYZ College awarded in 2002. My job is related to my minor, not my major, and that has worked fine for me.

    4. Annony*

      1. I have never seen a resume that left off education entirely. You can be minimal and simply list your degree and school. I usually see the year the degree was awarded as well, especially if it was within the last ten years. Leaving it off looks like you didn’t go to college. I don’t think you need your GPA on there at all. I think you should be prepared to talk about why your degree is not in accounting. Talk about the accounting courses you did take and how you have transferable skills. You took a less standard path so they are going to want to understand why and know that you actually want to stay in this field.

      2. I really think you are overthinking your end date. Put whatever you think your employer will verify (in this case it sounds like March). COVID layoffs were happening in March already, especially the tail end of March. You can even list it as 3/31 if that makes you feel better about how it looks. My guess is that you were asked about it because it was still April so the recruiter didn’t know if you were still finishing up or if you were available immediately.

      3. The fond change does matter. You don’t want typos and inconsistency in formatting if avoidable. It is so easy to fix so why wouldn’t you? You want to put your best foot forward.

      4. If you don’t like this recruiter, don’t work with him. To me, his questions for the most part don’t sound egregious, more like he wants the complete picture. Needing to know exactly where you have applied is the only one that really would make me uncomfortable. But go with your gut. There are many recruiters out there and it sounds like you have worked well with recruiters in the past, so if this one in particular rubs you the wrong way you really don’t need to push through.

      1. Annony*

        I think the heart of the problem is that college and your end date are sources of insecurity for you. Your response to that is to try to hide them entirely, which raises red flags because then it looks like you actually have something to hide (which I don’t think you do). If you just state the facts, it really doesn’t look that bad.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Not so much the end date. I did put the correct end date (which would match what’s on my transcript) and explained it to the recruiter. He did say thanks for the clarity. But yes, overall my whole college experience is a source of insecurity for me.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        You’re right, I did take a very non standard path. I’m really ashamed of how I did in college and my overall college experience, but I did what I could given my means. I tried really hard to do well at my job despite my background…. so maybe I’m a little oversensitive about college stuff. It’s been years since I had to talk about it in such detail.

        1. Annony*

          Maybe trying to re-frame it in your mind will help you talk about it in interviews. Taking a non standard path is not a bad thing! It has given you unique experiences and shaped who you are today. It gave you drive. You have a track record in your field that supports that you are a dedicated worker and you excel despite the fact that your degree is in a different field. Doing the best with what you have is something to be proud of!

        2. Scanon*

          I understand your insecurity, but it may help to talk about it more. This is really not that uncommon a path! It took me 8 years to finish a 4 year degree… I took time off, changed focus, then eventually just graduated with whatever I had enough courses in to put together a major and minor.

          Finishing the degree actually shows you stuck through school despite setbacks. You were determined to graduate and you did it! That’s actually pretty awesome!

          As for degree date, could you put something like: Course work completed in 2009, degree granted in 2011.

          As others have said, you may want to try a different recruiter. You may just not be clicking with this one. However, do think about whether he pushed so much because he thought you were being cagey about things. It sounds like you think you have things you are ashamed about or want to hide in your past. But you don’t! Taking a long time to graduate and having bad marks is far less important than the fact that you did graduate, you did do the work, you did see your program through to the end. Most employers are going to care about that and about the work you have done since, not about what grades you got 12 years ago.

          1. Annony*

            I would probably just put the date the degree was granted. I don’t think the fact that the course work was completed two years prior helps and phrasing it that way will almost guarantee that they will be asked about it when they prefer not to talk about it. Be bland.

        3. Reba*

          I definitely think the one recruiter was over-zealous in the way he pursued the questions, I don’t think you need to revamp the whole approach due to his feedback alone.

          The average degree completion time is 5 years and change. (And I think that does not include part time and other ‘non-traditional’ student categories in the survey; the way that the Dept of Education collects this data has changed in the past few years.)
          Only about 40% graduate in 4 years at so-called 4-year colleges.

          It is very, very normal to struggle in those years, and likewise to graduate in 6 or so years.

          I can understand why it’s painful for you to talk about. But if you can try to just share the information neutrally, a lot of folks will recognize your education history as a common one and not think much of it. If you cloak it in shame, then people may think there was something more to the story.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            That makes a lot of sense, I didn’t realize that it was so common. Where I went to school, majority of my classmates graduated in 3 or 4 years, very few took longer than 4.5 or 5. You’re right, just be matter of fact about it.

          2. allathian*

            I also took 8 years to complete a 4-year Bachelor’s + Master’s degree when most of my cohort took 5 or 6 years. I’m in the Nordics, though, where it’s common because tuition is free up to and including a Master’s degree and you don’t have to pay more to spend more time at university. Costs of living still have to be paid, and I graduated HS in 1991. In 1995 we were still in recession so it was much easier to stay in school and take additional credits, especially as I was still entitled to my student subsidy. The terms have changed now and things are much tougher for the Z-generation than they were for me.

      3. February Goshawk*

        In my experience, asking where you’ve already applied is common because the agency may not be able get their referral fee if you’ve already established a relationship with the company.

    5. Sally Cat*

      When does your college show that you graduated? If an employer or recruiter checks and the school tells them 2011 when you listed 2009, they are going to wonder about it.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        It shows 2011. In earlier versions of my resume I always put 2011 but when I talk to friends/coworkers I just say I graduated in 2009.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Thanks everyone. I understand now where the recruiter was coming from and it’s more clear now. I think my own feelings about my college experience made me a little insecure about this all.

    7. TiffIf*

      Others have given some great advice and input on how things are on your resume–but I just wanted to say you aren’t alone in your struggle during university! It took me 11 years to get my undergrad degree–I kept stopping and starting because I needed to work to pay for school and I was on academic probation and suspension at one point. I was having issues with undiagnosed depression for a few years there so I had some ok semesters and then some REALLY REALLY bad semesters –my GPA was atrocious by the end as well.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, I hope you’re doing better now.

        I think mine was just…not having my priorities in place and a family that didn’t either. Everyones priority was for me to get married. *major cringe* Eventually I did get married, finished classes, 1 month of stay at home housewife life I realized I couldn’t live my life like that. My GPA was so bad in the 1st two years that even if I swung straight As for the next 4 years, I would never go beyond a 3.0.

      2. New Senior Manager*

        Same. 10 years. Stop, start, part-time, and finally full-time while raising two children alone. Went on to earn my graduate degree. Reframe your story. Every interview I’ve had since earning undergrad degree has included interviewers congratulating me on persevering despite obstacles. This is our real life and we have gained valuable past experience that we can utilize today. Wishing you well in your search.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Very weird.

      1. You should put your college info on your resume: Degree. Major. University. Location
      You can leave off the year and GPA on resume, but some application systems will require it be input.
      2. Layoff day would be your last day of work. March. Or you could say April 1. I’ve never had anyone nitpick over an exact day before unless it was Unemployment.
      3. Fix the font! I admit I’m a graphic designer, but mis-matched fonts drive me nuts. I am surprised anyone but designers would notice though as it was slight. You should definitely NOT have typos–it looks sloppy on a resume.
      4. History and college work is fairly normal to ask about. I feel they were asking because that part is not in your chosen career field… and it looks a little flaky unless there was good reason. As far as the salary goes: IDK, either your salary research was much higher than your experience/location/industry/pandemic would suggest is the going rate right now. OR they are trying to get your salary history (which is low due to all those unrelated jobs) to low ball you (a common tactic, especially used on women).

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        2. Right? I was wondering if one day is nitpicking, I personally never paid attention when I was looking at candidates’ resumes. UI of course I am exact with.
        3. The font was fine! Lol it was just the size, and it was a half size difference. No typos, I did fix it tho. Neither of these are my hills to die on,
        4. I did get the lowballing vibe but the other theory is plausible too. Maybe I should research more. sigh.

    9. dealing with dragons*

      just an fyi I use different font sizes to cheat layout things I need to have done (like I need a line to take more space or something) and I apply for design jobs lol

      and when I’ve talked to recruiters, they generally do like what you did in college and interests for how to get you to different jobs. it can help for matching. for salary, most people have stopped asking since california made it illegal to base offered salary on past salaries. It shouldn’t be indicative of what you’re making for a new job.

      1. allathian*

        Adjust kerning instead, will make you seem even more flashy! :) Although, to be fair, I don’t know how easy it’s to do that in Word or if you need something like inDesign?

    10. TG*

      Sounds like the discrepancy in termination dates and lack of college on your resume may have made the recruiter dig in deeper to make sure you were a good, truthful candidate. I know it’s hard to not be anxious about a job loss and having a non-standard path in college, but just remember that’s not unique. Recruiters see it all the time. You actually aren’t being haunted by college. Just stay as clear and truthful on your resume as possible and I’m sure most people won’t even notice anything. Good luck!

    11. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      I have to admit that for the GPA, I was really thrown off by that and I couldn’t’ remember so the recruiter said “oh just give me a ballpark, if anything we can request transcripts.”

      In that situation, I would plead that I don’t remember at all and would be glad to look that up and get back to the interviewer.

      If I gave a “ballpark” figure that turned out to be too high, that would be grounds for both firing me and blackballing me as a liar — whenever the company found out, now or later. The interviewer could conveniently forget the “ballpark” modifier — or even “distinctly remember” having told me to only answer if I knew for a fact.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Allow me to clarify. The GPA discrepancy could be used as grounds for rejecting me, never considering me again and possibly informally blackballing me as dishonest, or if the company hired me and then found out, could be used as grounds for firing me and blackballing me as dishonest.

        Either way if the company decided to make something of it. Not a risk I’d want to take, since I wouldn’t be able to prove the interviewer said s/he’s accept a “ballpark” figure (let alone defined the maximum acceptable error), and the interviewer would have some incentive to deny having said that.

  11. Millennial Lizard Person*

    I was Gandalf at work the other day– but maybe not in a good way. As part of training, my boss asked me how I would do task X. I didn’t think there was an easy way to do it, as I thought it would require a lot of customization:

    Boss: no, you can just use this tool
    Me: There’s a tool for that? I remember doing some validation on the concept … I don’t think there was ever a full tool constructed.
    Boss: …..
    Boss: You wrote it
    Me, as Gandalf: ….. I have no memory of this place

    Sure enough, I’d written the tool to do this back in 2017. Listen, I hadn’t used it since then! I’d sorta been a contractor for the team at the time. I wasn’t the primary user! I… completely, honestly, 100% forgot that I’d written a whole tool to do that. Apparently it was straightforward for me to write and to use, because no one’s asked me for updates in three years. But that was a pretty goofy moment.

    1. 867-5309*

      I fully support the LOtR reference. Made me LOL and now I’m going to binge the movies this weekend.

    2. catears*

      oh … that happens to me *all* the time. Including this week, in a meeting when my manager had a brilliant new idea for something. And one of my team members said : Oh, catears has already done that.
      I had to message the coworker after the meeting to ask where all this work was. I’d completely and utterly forgotten I done it. But, it’s all right there where my coworker pointed me to. Documentation and everything.

    3. Did you read the syllabus?*

      This happened to me with something I had done completed about a month week ago! I honestly can’t remember doing it, but it has my name on it, and it’s good. I feel like pre-pandemic memories are all just a blur. But did give us something to laugh about which was good!

    4. OperaArt*

      I was expecting something along the lines of, “You shall not pass.” :-)
      I totally understand forgetting you wrote a tool.
      And yours must have been very complete and robust.

    5. Jenny Next*

      I’ve done that! I usually laugh and say, “I did? How clever of me!” (Although someone told me once that it sounded arrogant, so maybe that’s bad advice.)

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Been there, about papers I had written for internal documentation purposes. Last year I started writing one while grumbling to myself that gee, would have been nice if someone had done this a few years ago. Then it nagged at me til I went through my old archives and found that exact paper I was about to write from a few years ago. Written by me. Thanks, past me!

    7. Anonymato*

      My spouse was looking for an answer to some question on a professional online forum. He was able to find a really good explanation, and when he looked at the author of the post, and it was written by him (a year or so back) :-)

    8. Deanna Troi*

      This is me! I used to have a job where I traveled a lot lot to project sites, Monday-Friday. Once we were working at a county airport in Llamaville. My husband and I were going on vacation and were on a layover at a major hub airport. We heard an announcement that said “Final boarding for Llamaville.” I said to my husband “I didn’t realize Llamaville had an airport.” He gave me a funny look and said “Didn’t you just live in a hotel there for 3 months and work at that airport?” Oh. Yeah.

  12. Wing Leader*

    Admin Day Storytime

    Since admin day was last Wednesday, I had to share this one. Throughout this whole Coronavirus thing, my essential company has stayed open and fully operational for the most part. However, a few weeks ago, we learned that one of my coworkers may have been exposed to the virus. So my bosses–not wanting to spread anything–decided to close for 2 weeks so everyone could stay home during that time. Fortunately, we were still paid during that time off.

    No one got the virus and everything seemed to be in the clear, so we opened back up last week. On Wednesday/Admin Day, my boss sends all of us admin this email:

    “As you all know, it is Admin Appreciation Day. Given the circumstances this year, we won’t be able to do anything special or extra for you. However, we have decided that the 2 week quarantine time off was your gift. You’re welcome.”

    Umm…okay. So, they managed to take staying home and trying not to catch and deadly disease and twist it into a “gift” from them. Okayyyyy.

    Don’t get me wrong–I realize how fortunate I am to still be working and to still be paid during any time off, and I don’t want to minimize how lucky I am in that regard. That said, my boss can still be condescending as hell sometimes.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      Oh my God, the “you’re welcome.” You’re right – the condescension just oozes from that. I could see it as maybe being a poor attempt at a joke but… yikes.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      GOod god that is douchey AF. I can see one of us saying it to our Office manager, as a joke because we have that relationship with him, but it would be accompanied by, like, a real gift. That’s terrible.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Ew.

      “As you all know, it is Admin Appreciation Day. Unfortunately, given the circumstances this year, we won’t be able to do anything special or extra for you, but we hope you know how grateful we are that you have all adapted so quickly to the necessary changes, and that we can continue to support our customers as part of the national/global efforts.”

    4. I'm that person*

      If it had been unpaid time off and they have changed it to paid then it would have been a nice gift but this…

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      GAHHHH I’ll fix it for them:
      “As you all know, it is Admin Appreciation Day. Given the circumstances this year, we won’t be able to do anything to celebrate, but we want you to know that it is ONLY the business climate that causes that.”

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Wow, your boss really showed their whole ass there, didn’t they? Dang.

      1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

        Sure did. Damn.

        That message is so snarky, condescending and demoralizing. And to be honest, it is rather unprofessional to boot.

    7. Annony*

      This definitely falls under “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And never end an email with “You’re welcome.”

    8. Aggretsuko*

      Why am I picturing “You’re Welcome!” from Moana now?

      Yeah, that was a slap in the face.

    9. noahwynn*

      It would be so easy for them to just say “As you all know, it is Admin Appreciation Day. I just wanted you to know how much we appreciate the work you do every day.” Why even mention not having a gift, or trying to twist 2 weeks off that everyone got into a gift. People are dumb.

    10. HBJ*

      How is that a gift to the admins for admin day when everyone else got the two weeks off as well?

  13. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Hi. I’ll try to keep this concise but I can provide more detail if needed. 

    At the end of March, I applied for a job. I had a phone call with the CEO of the company and it went well so we scheduled a video call. The video call went well as well, and we were both enthusiastic to move forward. My only issue was related to coming in to the office during these times. I sent my standard after-interview email and he stated that since his business is essential, I’d need to come in 3 days a week to meet with clients. After getting help from here, I crafted a response and sent it back that Friday. 

    I didn’t hear back for about a week so I sent a follow up and he replied back right away scheduling a third call. We had the third call the next day and worked out the details, salary, schedule etc. He wanted a final call to iron out more details and would send over an offer letter. Start date set for 5/5. This was before my state extended the lock down from 4/30 to 5/15. 

    He didnt’ show up for the 4th call, and I sent him an email which he didn’t respond to. 

    About a week later, he texts me asking if I can work on something for him. I followed up via email and asked for details and gave him my freelancer rate. He said “I thought we agreed on (salary) rate?” I replied back and he said he couldn’t afford it. 

    Earlier this week, I got a missed call from him so I called back and left a voicemail and an email. Nothing. 

    It’s now the Friday before my start date, and I think it’s safe to assume this isn’t happening haha. I’ve moved on, I’m just a little bit concerned b/c I’m collecting unemployment but I don’t think this should affect that. Another thing I am apprehensive about is that I may have handled the freelancing thing poorly but I am not sure. I have questions about freelancing which I’ll post in another thread. It’s a shame because it seemed like a great opportunity and outside of this, going in to the office would never be an issue for me. I had a few other applications out but my contacts are coming back to me now saying hiring is on freeze for now.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      Honestly, I think you are dodging a bullet here. No follow through on offer letter and didn’t show for the 4th call, then asks you to do work before you all finalized anything. Someone dropped the ball here – either he is too busy to be handling your contract. I’d be concerned if you did take a gig from this guy you might not get paid timely, if at all.

    2. Purple Jello*

      Did he send you the offer letter, and this was work under that offer (maybe starting ahead of your official start date)? Or did he want to hire you on the side as a free lancer? It’s not clear to me in your question, and sounds like he wasn’t clear when he asked you to work on something.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Nah, no offer letter for the job. He missed the 4th phone call we were supposed to have.

        He texted me that he needed my help with something for a client. I followed up via email and said that since this falls under consulting work, I’d charge $200*/hour for any work done. When he said “I thought we agreed on 100?” I said “Yes the $100/hr was as an employee. I was under the impression you wanted to do this as contract work before my coming onboard as an employee hence the $200/hour rate. My apologies for any misunderstandings.”

        I guess I should not have assumed? But at that point I was still a candidate, not an employee coming on board.

        *not real dollar amounts.

        1. NightOwl*

          I think you gave him ample opportunity to save face (either say he thought you’d received an official offer, this would be part of the actual work contract, something) and he didn’t. Perhaps he has good intentions and just has too much on his plate or he is now dodging you. I wouldn’t waste too much time on this one, but it’s a bummer when you’ve gone through a few rounds of phone calls already.

    3. Andrea C*

      I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s got a lot on his plate, but holy hell he dropped the ball. Did you ever receive an offer letter? Did you ever talk with HR or some other person who could help you navigate this without dealing with the CEO?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Small company, no HR. Or rather, “HR” is an outsourced payroll service which I’m familiar with.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It doesn’t seem like you got an official offer. You talked about some of the details, like a start date, but you didn’t get the letter, they ghosted you on a final interview call, and there’s a shut down order from the state.

      I wouldn’t worry about UI. Those are all reasons to keep letting you claim.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Well, no offer letter means no job offer. You can’t refuse work you weren’t formerly offered.
      As for the freelance work, I think you did the right thing, if that’s your rate as a contractor. Don’t ever undercut yourself as a freelancer because it shows them a) they don’t really value your work, and b) they can get away with paying you less.

      Personally, I think maybe you’ve dodged a bullet. The guy seems sketchy or at the least distracted and out of step with employment norms. My guess is this would not improve upon working for the place.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I didn’t get sketchy vibes, but more that he was distracted and a little inexperienced.

        Since you mention the rate, I do struggle with setting a good freelancer rate, since I’ve only experience in salary. For this guy, I quoted him $55/hour who said that wasn’t feasible. There’s another person I work for who pays me $35. To me, both seem like good rates. I had one person I turned to for advice and he was shocked that I was getting paid so much — but he also decided to outsource his work to a different country for $5/hour so I get there’s that.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’m really curious if you mentioned in your follow-up emails that you never received the offer letter?

      He may have tasked someone else with it, or had an email glitch, and thinks you got it already.

      It seems odd to me that you’d send over the freelance rate without mentioning that you never got the offer letter.

  14. Nervous Nellie*

    Omigosh, AAM friends! I got a job!!! I don’t know how I pulled it off. In the last couple of months I sent ‘message in a bottle’ emails with my resume and a warm note to all of the shuttered area recruiters, and went back to sewing masks and watching TV. One recruiter just happened to check office email, read my note & resume and got in touch. We had a couple of really great phone chats, and all I expected from it was that she would add me to her applicant roster for when the world reopens. But instead, she contacted an employer-client who had shelved a job listing, and urged her to revive it. The employer and I had couple of really fun and happy chats that sure didn’t feel like an interview, and here we are! I start next Monday. The company is developing a great virus safety plan, and already has a work from home strategy for staff. I cannot believe my good fortune.

    At both this new job and at my last one, I got feedback that it was my cover letter (well, for this new job: ‘cover letterish email’) that got me noticed. For both I used Alison’s recommended formula from her posting, “Here’s an example of a great cover letter”. Slam dunk, people! Go forth and use it! Thank you, Alison from the bottom of my heart! You rock!

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Thanks everyone! I wanted to share my good news for two reasons – first, it proves that it is still possible to get work in this current environment, and second, that Alison’s cover letter guidance changes lives! I can’t thank Alison enough, and hope that everyone here follows here sage advice now, especially in these new economic times. I am cheering for everyone here who is looking for work. You can do this!

    2. nep*

      Nervous Nellie, so happy for you!!
      Bravo, you. Thanks for sharing this. Such a lift.
      Wishing you all the best.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Thank you, nep! And thank you again for your mention of Gabor Mate here a couple days ago. That made me reread When The Body Says No. Just the thing to read before starting a new job with its new mix of people and expectations, with his critically important reminder to be one’s true self and not the person that the circumstances demand. Thank you for helping me prepare for this!

        1. nep*

          Oh my goodness, that is so wonderful.
          When I imbibe him, everything’s better.
          I’m so glad for you.
          Peace

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Mazel tov! May it be a good experience all around! Also, thanks for sharing your good news. I appreciate the reminder that as SunnySideUp said, THERE IS HOPE.

  15. Eillah*

    Hi AAM- I’d love your input.

    My department is doing an art selfie challenge a la The Met or The Getty. Things are going really well, and we have a lot of great submissions so far!

    My question is this: Which is a better way to have the team vote for their top 3 favorite winners?

    Option 1: We create a post on our Team Hub site, where team members can comment with their top 3 / compliment the submissions they like
    Option 2: We create a poll which keeps the results private, and announce

    I’m leaning towards option 2, because I don’t want some people’s submissions to be totally ignored & have them feel embarrassed, but I also want people to see how much their team members like their submissions! That being said, I’d love input….

    1. whistle*

      I like Option 2 as well because Option 1 risks having a pile on effect, where the early vote getters are the only ones considered. I wonder if you could do a combination of the two where you have anonymous voting but also a way for people to post public comments?

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Is there any way to combine Options 1 & 2? Can you create the anonymized poll and add in an optional comment section, where people can still provide comments on the submissions the loved the best and why? The comments would still be anonymous but the sentiments would be the same. (You would have to do the legwork for compiling the comments and sending them to each artist, but it seems an easy step.)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Option 2. I suggest that you do “first pick, second pick, third pick” voting because that reduces the chance of something being a pure popularity contest. It has a name, I just can’t remember it… it’s something like 5 points for top pick, 3 points for 2nd pick, 1 point for 3rd pick, and it opens the door to a consensus winner.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You could collect comments along with the poll, and share them anonymously after the results are announced.

    5. Annony*

      Please don’t do comments. While it can be nice to see how much people love your picture, it really sucks to be ignored or to get bland comments while others are effusive.

    6. Reba*

      If you want to really devote way more of your time to this, you could make a bracket…

      In seriousness I think a poll is tidiest. You can then make a post highlighting the top 3 winners and sharing all the rest of the submissions without rank — that way everyone’s is seen but if there are people who got no/few votes, that is masked.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I think option 2 is best. It’s just the nature of those sorts of things, that some entries will be super popular and some will get zero votes. Just look at the Eurovision Song Contest votes. (That example might only make sense to Europeans and Australians?)

  16. BabyCarrot*

    I’m currently looking for a job and I have an interview lined up next week. The company has asked me to list references they will contact if I am a finalist. I don’t have a really good relationship with my current boss or HR and I don’t trust them to give me a good reference. Should I list them anyways since its my current employer or is it okay to only list former bosses?

    1. The Original K.*

      I think folks expect that you might not list your current employer as a reference because it’s understandable that you don’t want your current employer to know you’re looking for a new job.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      It standard to ONLY list former bosses. Putting a current employer would be strange because it is well understood that you wouldn’t want your current employer to know that you are looking for a job.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s really only in exceptional circumstances that you’d list your current manager as a reference. I’ve done it only when I’ve already given notice for other reasons (moving across the country, for example). If you’re secret-searching (which most job searches are), no one is expecting to be able to talk to your current manager. What I’d do, though, is include your former managers, and then maybe one person from your current work that knows your work well but isn’t your actual manager, especially if you’ve been at your current job a long time (say, 5-10 years or more).

      1. BabyCarrot*

        I might do that if they ask for a current reference. And yes I have been at my job for 8 years, and my coworkers and I work great together.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          The person checking references will know your coworker is likely someone who likes you already and doesn’t know you in a manager-managee capacity, but if you’ve been there 8 years, it will still be helpful for them to talk to someone who’s worked with you recently, and if they’re good at asking questions, even talking to a reference who likely likes you already can be helpful in getting to know your working style.

          1. BabyCarrot*

            Thank you! I hadn’t really thought about putting a coworker as a reference, but I will bring it up if they ask during the interview proccess!

  17. Jean-Paul*

    Long time reader, first time poster. One of my employees (Jane) was arrestedton Wednesday. She allegedly fraudulently claimed unemployment and other benefits that she wasn’t entitled to, because she is still employed here. She also allegedly lied to the company and said she had been exposed to COVID-19. We are essential and still coming in to the office to work because it can’t be done from home. Jane was given isolation pay in full for her time off. Jane also allegedly lied to the health officials/authorities here about being present at an event where people who later tested positive for COVID-19 where present. She was never there. I can’t help but feel disappointed. I hired and mentored Jane. I would have never expected this. Jane didn’t have access to money, finances or any client or co-worker confidential information, and there is nothing to steal, so we aren’t worried about fraud here because she couldn’t commit it in her job with her access (everything my team does is 100 per cent public due to laws and regulations). We are going to check her work for errors but there was nothing fraudulent or illegal she was able to do here. But this still hurts. Everyone here is shocked. I know I shouldn’t be taking this so personally but it really hurts. Has anyone else who manages ever been blindsided by one of their employees?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Wait, she was **arrested** for fraudulent unemployment claims? I don’t think that’s a thing, unless she’s got 30 fake SSNs and is pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      Find out if she was really arrested, and if so, what for. You can call the public affairs or community liaison number of your local police department(s) and they should be able to steer you to the info.

      1. Jean-Paul*

        She was definitely arrested. It was on the local news. She claimed unemployment and other emergency benefits but she is employed here with full salary (allegedly). Additionally, the company has proof she lied about being exposed to the virus. She was sent home with pay.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I am kind of surprised at the arrest. It does happen if people pull UI frauds, but usually not all that quickly given the glacial pace of the UI office to even verify the fraud. Also, Unemployment will usually give people who have somehow mis-represented their UI claims an opportunity to fully pay back the funds before they go full-charge into fraud/arrest mode.

          I’m not excusing what Jane did. But it does seem she’s being made an example of here for it to make the news! You don’t usually see that unless it’s many thousands of dollars or large-scale fraud/identity theft.

      2. AnnieMay*

        Or don’t! Just fire her and move on. Completely agree there’s more to the story but fortunately that doesn’t need to be your problem.

        1. Jean-Paul*

          Oh yes she will be terminated. Separately from her arrest, we have proof she lied about being exposed to COVID-19. It was not possible for her to be at the event where she said she got exposed and she asked for time off knowing she would get full pay even though she wasn’t exposed there. We don’t care about the benefits stuff, the lie is enough to terminate her. I’m just disappointed because she was my employee and she lied to my face and to the company.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Woooow. Yeah, Jane really effed up here, but don’t take that on yourself. You didn’t make her lie and commit fraud – she did that all on her own.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        Honestly, these days it could be pretty easily to get to felony level w/ the extra $600 week. But I wonder if the arrest was for the fake exposure claim.

        Honestly, there is a lot of poor choices going on here.

      4. LQ*

        Yup PUA is explicit that it is a thing. Just for fradulent claims, not the 30 fake ssns thing. Feds got real crabby about telling states that they would have criminal charges for false claims.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Yikes. What a disappointment, I’m so sorry.

      I’m not at all excusing her behavior, but is everything ok with her at home? Like, is she in a completely horrible situation and made a really really bad decision out of sheer desperation? Or did she see an opportunity that she thought she could get away with and only regrets getting caught?

      It doesn’t change the situation but the former lets you still think of them as they were somewhat, the latter would hurt more and is a bigger, more disappointing reveal of hidden character.

      1. Jean-Paul*

        I’m not sure because I am not close with Jane (we aren’t friends, just manger/employee). I do know she is childless, never been married and single, that her family lives in the next city over and lives alone in our city. She never seemed off or upset about anything. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But from what I know nothing comes to mind.

    3. whistle*

      I wasn’t a manager for this, but a few years ago my company had to fire two people over selling heroine *at work*. It was quite shocking as I worked closely with both employees and had no idea. (And I’m not exactly ignorant or naive when it comes to drug abuse.) I still think about them, particularly the one who I always enjoyed working with and who is a single father.

      1. gee willikers*

        My dad once had a wonderful employee who got arrested for illegal firearms possession. It turns out he had been a full-on gangbanger in his former life, went to prison, reformed, got a degree, and went into programming — but out of fear of his former enemies, he also had a secret stash of guns at home.

        He was really a super nice guy. I’d met him multiple times, and my dad was even a character witness at his trial.

        1. whistle*

          That’s really heartbreaking. I can definitely understand why that person would want to maintain possession of firearms, and I’m glad your dad was able to stand witness.

          On a different note, I of course meant “heroin” in my original comment.

    4. Pine Sol Stew*

      I wasn’t a manager for this, but a junior coworker I trained and mentored was fired — and I don’t know what beyond that, but presumably something — for taking home a spreadsheet full of names and SSNs. I was living in fear for a while that her bad behavior was going to blow back on me as the person who should have trained her better, and also wondering how I could have missed that she’d be the sort of person to do this. I didn’t like her — among other things, she acted rather creepily toward me and said some very transphobic things — but I’d chalked it up to cultural & linguistic differences as she was an immigrant who didn’t yet speak English completely fluently. But that’s a very, very different thing from wholesale identity theft!

      1. Harriet Vane*

        I work in a church, and 10 years ago TWO coworkers were arrested for SEPARATELY stealing from the collection before it was counted and deposited. I had good relationships with both and was completely floored. In retrospect I can see where one of them had a little more spendable income than I would have expected, but that’s all.
        I’m so sorry this happened to you.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          My parents neighbor, who was also the CFO of the company my brother in law worked for a few years back, was arrested for embezzlement. Mom and dad were shocked – his house and car etc…were on par with what you would expect from a C-suite of a medium regional corporation (small Lexus SUV and the house was probably around the $300 mark which for our area is on the nicer end of a large family home in a good neighborhood) and his wife had a good job as well. No one had any idea where the money was going and the estimate was approximately $3 million over a 7 year period. A new AP person caught it when they came back to their computer to see a batch of invoices they weren’t working on had been pulled up and approved for payment. Using the admin passwords and cameras they were able to figure out it was him.
          He was also a deacon in my parents church.

    5. Kali*

      Not a manager, but a coworker recently really screwed us over in a colossally awful way. (Not illegal, but a ripe for lawsuits kind of way.) I was one of the main people to deal with the fall-out.

      If there’s any “cleaning up” to do, just be kind to the employees that are doing it. Acknowledge the problem but be as matter-of-fact and transparent as possible about it. The worst part of dealing with it is that everyone else is coming up to me and trying to gossip about it since the information got restricted, which is suuuuuuper awkward. I didn’t even like the guy! But it feels like I’m covering for him, because I can’t talk about it.

      Also, take comfort in the fact that sometimes, you just don’t see this sort of thing coming. In my situation, I’ll just say that there was a reason I didn’t like my coworker. But I’ve definitely had other coworkers do things that shock the conscience and be a total surprise about it. Like that happy couple you know and secretly, one of them is a habitual cheater and just an awful human. I wish every crappy person had “I’M A CRAPPY PERSON” tattooed on their foreheads, but it just doesn’t happen that often.

    6. Juneybug*

      I had a troop go AWOL on me (we were both in the military) so been there, got the t-shirt/scars.
      Its ok to feel many emotions about this situation. You invested time and energy in this person and it feels like they did you wrong. Or you are so mad you can’t see straight. Or feel ashamed that somehow her actions reflect on you. Or doubt your leadership abilities. Maybe you even wonder how you didn’t see this coming. You can feel these emotions and that is ok.
      Here is what got me through my situation –
      1. Spend some time feeling and more importantly, expressing these emotions so they are not bottled up.
      Maybe write them down and then destroy the paper. Go for a walk and talk about the situation in your head. Pet your cat or dog and tell them what happen and how you are feeling.
      2. Ask your leadership/police to keep you in the loop of what is going on.
      I found out, over time, that that the more I knew, the more I realize that the other person had been planning these actions for a while. Plus I found out that no one saw this coming and I mean no one! Knowledge about the situation can give you some clarity.
      3. It is ok to discuss this with your supervisor or HR.
      I was lucky that I had an upper manager who let me vent, I mean discuss this in his office behind closed doors. It made me feel less crazy about the whole situation. I took this option 3 times over a 4 month period (so you will need other options for venting).
      4. Realize that no-one is thinking you are a bad boss (they really aren’t).
      I felt so shameful about my leadership that you would have thought I was the one who went AWOL. But later on, I found out that most folks figured the troop was an idiot* and were glad they didn’t have a troop do the same thing to them.
      *She really was an idiot.
      5. Be aware of folks will want to gossip about this (but don’t).
      My standard answer was to say I can’t talk about it since actions are still pending. Say it with a sad face (maybe sigh a little) and most folks will back off. For the die-hard noisy folks, tell them that you can’t say anything or you will get in trouble for discussing the investigation. Then change the subject. Over time, folks stop asking.
      6. Document, document, document everything that is going on with this situation.
      Later on, this same troop tried to say I was wrong, she really didn’t go AWOL, that her evaluation rating shouldn’t have reflected on something that never happen, etc., to her new commander a year later. (I had moved overseas at this time so she thought I was out of the picture and could lie again).
      It would have been a huge mess proving my decisions but since I had saved copies of all pertain emails, paperwork that I had to fill out for HR, finance, and leadership, articles in the local base newspaper, copies of law enforcement documents, etc., I was able to show what had truly happen and why I had made the decisions I had made. One very large email with numerous attachments to the new commander made it all go away (and started the process to get her out of military service).
      6. When this all dies down (it will), folks have moved on (they will), and all of the paperwork is done, discuss this with either your supervisor or a trust mentor to see if they was anything you could have done better. In other words, spend some time reflecting on your leadership.
      For me (and I am betting 100% for you too), is you will find out that nope, there was nothing you could have done better/different. These were actions that one individual choose and you or anyone else, would have not been able to prevent or stop this.
      Long story short (too late) – you did nothing wrong. You are a good supervisor. And you will survive this. And this will make such a good shock story to tell folks at a party years from now.

  18. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’m looking into doing more freelance work. I did this occasionally for a few former colleagues while I was working and after being laid off so I’m in touch with them. I’m not looking to replace my salary but just do enough to keep my skills sharp. 

    Beyond that, I’ve never actually put myself out there. I’ve never had the drive to be my own business owner. Personally, I have never felt good about putting myself out there, advertising myself, etc.

    Anyways, so I signed up for Upwork and got a message but I am pretty certain that it is a scam. 

    I ‘m in a few professional Facebook groups and one of them listed a great position. Turns out, you have to pay to access all of their job listings and apply. Is that normal for freelancers? Instinct tells me that it’s a scam but maybe things for freelancers are different? 

    Im familiar with the logistics of freelancer vs employee, but in terms of actually looking for work – how is it different from looking for a job? 

    1. foolofgrace*

      I wasn’t a freelancer, but I was a contractor. Once when I was job-hunting (this was during 2009) I found an ad that appealed to me. When I clicked on the link to go to the site, I discovered that people couldn’t see more about the jobs unless they sent money, they might have called it a subscription. I figured it was a scam and left it, although having been out of work for a while I couldn’t have afforded it anyway. I’m glad I didn’t have the money, I was pretty desperate. So I can’t tell you if it was a scam but it sounds like one to me.

    2. filosofickle*

      No, that is not normal for freelancers! I’m still drinking coffee and finding my brain; I’ll try to come back later and give more thoughts. (Speaking as 15-year freelancer/consultant.)

    3. Oh No She Di'int*

      Upwork is one of a number of gig-based freelancer marketplaces that have arisen over the last several years. My company used to use it on the hiring side several years ago, and we were able to find a decent amount of very qualified freelancers. And because you can negotiate jobs individually, we were always able to arrive at a good price that was also fair to the freelancer. (Part of our strategy was to be able to return to the same freelancers over and over, so it would not benefit us to underpay them because then we’d just end up looking for new freelancers all the time, which is a waste of time and money, not to mention just ethically suspect.)

      About a year ago, Upwork started charging freelancers to bid on open job listings. Presumably this was to curb the problem of overload. People seeking freelancers would often post a decent job and get inundated with hundreds of “applications”. It became unmanageable. Meanwhile, those applying would often just drop off into a black hole because, after all, hundreds of other people have applied for the same gig. Charging money (I believe at the time it was 15-90 cents depending on several factors) was supposed to cut down on the volume on both sides. In other words, the freelancers would have to really consider which jobs they wanted and thought they were qualified for as opposed to just hitting “apply” on everything.

      Now, I do understand the problem they were trying to solve. However, putting the solution on the backs of the freelancers is not only ethically wrong, it’s a perversion of how marketplaces are supposed to operate. You should not have to pay to apply for a gig essentially. Otherwise it become akin to a lottery and essentially rewards those with more resources to buy more lottery tickets.

      So, while I wouldn’t call it a “scam” exactly–they’re not lying to anyone or misleading anyone about the way they operate; and the jobs generally are actual jobs on offer–I would say that it’s unethical and if you have any other way of breaking in to a market, use it. This was one of the many reasons we chose to stop using Upwork.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        “About a year ago, Upwork started charging freelancers to bid on open job listings.”

        Is this the same as them taking a cut of their rate? When I signed up this week I noticed they charge a percentage of the hourly rate so I had to increase my rate, which I worry will price me out of a lot of work.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Nope. This is on top of that. I understand them taking a cut–they are after all providing the service of matching freelancers with gigs. But the fee to apply to individual gigs is over and above the cut.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      This is one of the sites I came across. They advertised the job on a professional group I’m in and someone pointed out there’s a $10 fee to join. This was the response:

      XXXX is a boutique job site connecting small businesses with virtual professionals mostly XXX but not all. We do not charge commissions from job seekers or businesses for earnings received once you are hired. So what you earn, you keep.
      We do, however, have a membership fee starting at $9.99 to attract only serious job seekers and keep the candidate pool smaller.)
      If you are interested and have a hardship and are unable to pay that at this time, please let us know.
      You can also see some of the other recent job posts

      On their website it’s $9.99 for a 1 week trial and $200 a year. to access job listings……

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Can you clarify the relationship you’re seeing between Upwork and the Facebook group you mention? Are you saying that you saw a posting on Facebook that directed you to Upwork? Or did it direct you to some other site? There are at least 3 different entities (maybe 4) interacting with each other in your example, and I’m not clear on the relationships.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Sorry for the confusion. No relationship between Upwork and the example above, just two examples of websites that offer freelance work. I’ve never sought out freelance work before so while I had a rough idea that Upwork took a cut, I haven’t seen any examples of the latter where they charge you a high fee simply to access their listings.

  19. August*

    Is anyone else at the point where they’re questioning if an issue is genuine, or if the isolation/lockdown is just getting to them? I’ve never had particularly strong negative feelings towards my coworkers when we were all in the office, but now (at week 8 of being in my apartment alone) I’m finding that their style of emailing/calling is really wearing on me. There’s a 45-year age gap between myself and my coworkers, and I’m tempted to write off some of the stuff I’m seeing as just a different generation, different email style. However, I’m also thinking that maybe it’s just laid bare the condescension that’s always been underlying our face-to-face conversations, just a little bit.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Bitch eating cookies, you mean?

      Maybe their usual personal interactions normally mitigate the style clash. Perhaps Fergus is always quick to brew another pot of coffee, and Celestine remembers your birthday with cherry pie. Absent those kindnesses you’re left only with the communications you find condescending.

      1. August*

        lmaoooo, I may very well be at the BEC stage! And yes, that actually describes it perfectly.

    2. MissBookworm*

      I absolutely feel the same. My level of patience for people is pretty much nil at this point.

    3. Resentful in [Redacted]*

      For the first 3-4 weeks of WFH my boss wasn’t responding to email or texts much, and when he did, it was never the important ones; it was stuff like group texts someone sent out about staggering shifts to go in and get the extra coffee out of the refrigerator if we wanted it. THAT he’d reply to, but not urgent business-related messages. The management team caught wind of this when they couldn’t get hold of him either, and it improved for about a week. He set up a standing meeting with me, but has missed all but one of them. He’s ignoring texts and emails from me, and then sending me stuff late on a Friday so that I have to put in a lot of hours over the weekend to get it done by Monday. I talked to him about that part of it back in March, and was going to talk to him about it again this week and give him a firm deadline, but then he missed our one-on-one meeting *and* our staff meeting (for a legitimate reason, but still on short notice). So… it’s almost EOB on Friday and I still don’t have what I need for Monday morning.

      Up until all this happened, I really enjoyed working with him. But now I realize just how much I accommodate his refusal to communicate by any medium other than F2F. If he doesn’t answer an email or a text, I just catch him when he walks by. He often forgets our weekly meeting, but remembers it when he comes in and sees me sitting there, and it’s not a big deal. The work we do is not all that important, in the scheme of things, and I’m happy to still have a job… but I have been so consistently annoyed by this that I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy working with him again.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        It’s possible that something slammed your boss this week. WFH under the current circumstances can be a bucket of problems: nonexistent child care, home has too little space and/or soundproofing for the employed adult(s) + whomever else lives there, shelter-in-place gets super lonely, grocery shopping can be super stressful, and/or other personal challenges suddenly swell up to Godzilla size. I’m speaking as someone who’s just emerged from a week of being depressed and discouraged for (various reasons). I think it’s the advice columnist Carolyn Hax who keeps reminding her readers to assume good intentions during this difficult time.

        TL;DR: Maybe your boss really is the home office of annoyance, but maybe he’s just hit a rough patch in life and was ducking out of contact to handle it.

      2. Tenebrae*

        Ugh. No advice, just wanted to commiserate. I had a boss who only wanted to communicate f2f. She was constantly out of office and freely admitted she forgot most of the things I told her. It was the worst. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    4. Kiitemso*

      I feel you, I am getting so tired of my co-worker asking for reassurance or 2nd opinion or guidance on nearly every task she picks up. We chat through a platform because we both have to be on the phone, normally we just talk in between calls in the office, and in the office advising her is really simple. Now I’m so annoyed at her re-confirming how to double-check a database change she’s done at least 30 times at this point or her not reading things properly and being like, “I don’t quite understand..” and it is hard not to reply in a way that would be perceived as snappy.

      Don’t get me started on the person I had to email 4 times with the same info and she replied either brushing me off or talking about something completely different. “That’s great Sally but I still need A numbers to do X changes in the database as our boss wanted us to help you with. Right now the file you sent includes B numbers, not A numbers. I need the A numbers. I don’t have the A numbers.” ad nauseum.

      I wonder if it’s just all being in text that makes it so annoying.

      1. allathian*

        Any chance of calling them instead? Many people have the opposite problem of too many meetings, but sometimes a call can clear things up wonderfully for people whose minds work that way. (I’m fairly easily distracted and need my instructions in writing or else I’ll be writing to confirm, if nothing else works, I’ll take notes during the call and read them back at the person before we finish to make sure I got everything. Most people realize in short order that they’ll get better work out of me if they write.)

  20. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

    My boss and his son microwaved fish on Wednesday. The office STILL smells like fish (and neither myself nor the other accountant like fish at all) and I’ve been sick to my stomach since Wednesday from the smell.

    We are seeking suggestions for their torture.

    1. Pretzelgirl*

      Gross! If you can microwave a bowl of water with a lemon wedge in it. Then wipe the microwave out. It should help. Also leave a couple of those baking soda boxes you get for the fridge around. It may help absorb the smell.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        Will give those a try, thanks for the suggestions. It’s just…..ewwwwwwnastygross.

    2. Lucy P*

      Cook something they hate the smell of and make them work in the lunch room?
      Once we had someone get so wrapped up in the book they were reading, that they didn’t realize they set the microwave to 50 minutes instead of 5 minutes. It took about a week to get rid of the burnt food and plastic smell from that area.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        He owns the company and is so temperamental he would just fire us. The microwave is in his office……

    3. Holey Moley*

      Gross! Check the sink/garbage disposal/trash to make sure nothing is sitting in there. Then I recommend bowls of baking soda or activated charcoal placed throughout the office.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        There is no sink/garbage disposal around here…the microwave is in his office (this is a very small company). My co-worker is using the microwave out in the warehouse….and I’m not allowed to use either microwave. (Don’t ask….I have no idea why I’m the only person here who is NOT allowed to have a hot meal but I have been banned from using the microwaves/toaster oven and am not allowed to speak to my co-workers.)

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

            That’s what I ask all the time. One morning, he said “Destroyer, the guys have been making comments about your breaks and using the microwave……” I said “Ok, I will curtail those activities.” So I no longer take breaks and I’m not allowed to use the microwaves.

            There’s a whole bunch wrong here and my attorney has been kept apprised of things. Once the ‘rona is over and the job market has stabilized, I’m outta here.

        1. Reba*

          There is so much wrong here, the microwave is just the gross icing on the (fish)cake.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

            You have no idea!!!!!! There is SO MUCH wrong here…….

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

            Winner winner chicken dinner! Tons wrong here……

        2. allathian*

          What the actual…? Sounds like you’re complaining about the deck chair arrangements while the iceberg is looming straight ahead.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        Are you suggesting we nuke our socks….? ;)

    4. Aphrodite*

      Rather than baking soda, put a bowl of plain white vinegar in the microwave and shut the door. You can heat it up but it’s not necessary. It will absorb the smell nicely.

      I leave a bowl of it, replenishing it regularly, in my office microwave (I don’t heat up fish but I do like Mexican food and that can leave delicious but strong odors behind) and my home. I take it out to heat up food but immediately put it back in. Works wonderfully.

    5. Juneybug*

      Ugh, had a boss heat up dried squid in the microwave and it would stink for hours.
      How about a fan that blows the air towards his office so the smell lingers in there? (the larger the fan, the better)
      Spray air fresher towards their office? (I mean a lot of spray)
      Open their windows and shut their office door? (even better if its a cold day)
      Pretend to throw up in front of them? (carry a bucket/trashcan around to add to the effect)
      Leave coupons and menus for restaurants that serve fish? (maybe they will eat fish in another location)
      BTW, the way I got the dried squid guy to stop was I asked someone from upper leadership to stop by after lunch (can’t recall why I said) and once they walked in, they complained loudly about the smell. Never again did we have to deal with that horrible smell.

    6. Llama Face!*

      Those fiends!
      Well if you want a thematic revenge you could hide sardines under the hood of their car and in the grille. (Don’t really do this. But if you do, remember to watch out for fingerprints and cameras. ;) ;) )

  21. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

    My organization, which is part of an academic institution in the US, has furloughed and/or reduced the schedules of staff. They aren’t sending any announcements about the specific job status of anyone because they say it’s confidential. But they do announce when someone leaves because they quit or retired. Even before this goes into effect, other areas are already asking who will be working.

    Is an employer not allowed to share furlough status of employees? What if the employee gives the employer specific permission? Otherwise, the employee is in the position of self disclosing (although employees are supposed to set up out of office replies with someone else to contact).

    1. INeedANap*

      How large is your organization?

      I work at a large university, and they will announce that furloughs have happened but not publicly announce who. Anyone who needs to know (direct supervisor, colleagues, anyone affected by that person’s work directly) knows, but it’s assumed to be private information otherwise.

      I don’t think there is any law against sharing the furlough status, but the default is to make it a need-to-know-basis only out of respect for the employee’s privacy.

    2. TV*

      I know at our organization, we are ALL getting furloughed for 80 hours this year. When we take those days/hours (we get to choose as they are treated like vacation days as far as supervisor requests go), I don’t think we have to disclose whether we are getting paid or not. But we do need to say we are out.

      But we did have layoffs and they did disclose who was impacted after their last day. They did this specifically for coordination purposes so we weren’t wondering if John Doe was on vacation or laid off. They also wanted to publicly acknowledge the years of service all these people had and what they have done for the organization.

    3. Rachel in NYC*

      Now I want to check the lists I get from my university’s central HR when they get updated, hopefully next week. (They list everyone in certain groups who are current employees are the university I work at.)

      1. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

        We can see based on who’s removed from email lists. My area is 100+ but the institution is 2000+ staff. I do understand about the privacy concern, but people are sharing unofficially. There’s just no official way to do it. I did wonder if people could give permission for it to be shared.

  22. Apt Nickname*

    I thought I’d try to contribute something a bit light and funny, since I’m sure we’re all varying degrees of stressed out. What’s the most ridiculous but fairly harmless thing you’ve had a coworker do? I’ve got two from two different coworkers. Four years ago, a coworker put in an IT request because her computer wouldn’t start. Most of our jobs are not computer-dependent, plus we’ve got multiple computers available, so it wasn’t terribly urgent. Dear reader, her computer wasn’t plugged in.

    A different coworker, let’s call her Susan, puts stickers on all of her office supplies that say “Stolen from the desk of Susan Johnson.” These are company-provided supplies and include things like post-it notes. As far as I know, no one has a problem with items being stolen off their desk.

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Also doing IT support. Over the phone, I told a co-worker to reboot her computer. Literally ten seconds later she said, I just rebooted it and the problem is still there. I didn’t hear any rebooting noises. I ran down to her desk and asked her to show me what she did. She turned the monitor off and back on.

      In her defense, it was when computers first came out.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Ah yes, “rebooting” the monitor! I have lots of user-support memories in which I had to stand over someone’s shoulder and watch every movement and keystroke to figure out just what they were actually doing, as opposed to what they told me they were doing. [None of this helped with one case – a keypunch class back in, oh, 1978 or so, where one of my adult students was so terrified of the machine that she couldn’t press a key without jumping and asking what she’d done wrong… I was amused at the time to find that it was the young kids who would gleefully tackle the new technology and quickly learn how to handle the finicky machines.]

      2. Too Old For This*

        I had that one once! It was in the mid-90s, but still… most people knew enough about computers even then to know better than that. Also in that job, I had someone on the evening shift put a CD in a 5.25″ floppy drive and then panic because they couldn’t get it out (it was a road-map program that they used for dispatch, and they needed it pretty urgently). They wanted me to keep it a secret, but I had to tell my boss why I spent an hour and a half finding a screwdriver and taking apart a computer… in their manager’s office, where they weren’t supposed to be. :-)

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        I was witness to the same problem on a tech support call, around 1995.

    2. Eponymous*

      I’m known around the office as the person who can probably help fix something on your computer pretty quickly instead of emailing our help desk and waiting for a response. (I appreciate our help desk but sometimes you need a solution now, not tomorrow.) A manager came for help and was very concerned because he was trying to watch a project-related video but couldn’t hear any sound. He was listening to music only moments earlier, you see, so his speakers could not possibly be broken. Except that he was listening to music with his earbuds and had, for whatever reason, tucked them under his computer stand when he switched to watching the video but had not unplugged them. Simple solution and he was a bit red-faced, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. Unfortunately some of our other coworkers who are much prone to teasing witness the entire exchange…

    3. Granger Chase*

      Situations like these are why the IT Crowd is still one of my favorite workplace comedies. “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

    4. Lucy P*

      We’ve been furloughed for over a month now. I’ve been to the office a few times for emergency items. On the last trip I printed out some bills that we have to retrieve online but mail in checks for, printed envelopes and stamped them. Gave them to the boss and said “you’ll have to write out checks since you have the checkbook”.
      Boss called me this week because they couldn’t find the checks that went with the invoices I had printed.

    5. DuckDuck*

      I realised my co worker was standing very, very, very close behind me. I turned around and asked what was up. They said they just liked to smell hair.

      In no other way were they creepy or bad to work with, so I chalked it up as fairly harmless although others may have a problem with it.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Re the stickers, as the front desk at OldExjob, I had to fight my coworkers’ perceptions that everything on my desk was public property for their use. I ordered myself a stapler that was a garish pink/red color so it was easy to find if someone nicked it and stuck a label on it with a picture of Milton Waddams and the caption, “MINE!”

    7. Annony*

      I know someone who works for tech support. The funniest story he told me was when he had to explain to a woman that “wireless” did not refer to the power cord.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll give you two.
      1. In the early 90s, I worked with the person in charge of HR/admin. She called me in one day and asked me to restore the word docs she’d been working on before a crash.
      Me: “Sure, where do you save your files?”
      Her: “Save them? What do you mean?”
      She’d been there over a month and never once saved or closed any of the documents she’d printed. Luckily she HAD printed them. I remain astounded that she had gone a month without crashing already.
      2. Same time period, I temped for 6 weeks in a university hospital. The acting department chair was a brilliant MD/PhD and overall kind person. She adored her secretary — the only person who could fix her stapler. “No no don’t bother to get me a new one, I can live with this. Just leave it on my desk when you get it working would you?” Ladies&Gentlemen… it broke three times while I was there. Every time it was out of staples.

    9. Web Crawler*

      We use a messaging program at work that allows you to upload your own emojis. Now we have two different “dumpster fire” emojis to use when talking about network infrastructure.

    10. LGC*

      A different coworker, let’s call her Susan, puts stickers on all of her office supplies that say “Stolen from the desk of Susan Johnson.” These are company-provided supplies and include things like post-it notes. As far as I know, no one has a problem with items being stolen off their desk.

      I would just start putting stickers on everything that say “Stolen from the desk of Susan Johnson.” But then again, I want to watch the world burn.

    11. CupcakeCounter*

      Some people might not find this funny but the person it happened to did so I will share.
      My coworker/best friend has some fragrance sensitivity’s that sort of come and go depending on a few factors. Some days she is fine, others its a problem. Her reaction is similar to what a woman will experience during a menopause hot flash (no breathing issues just really flushed).
      Well the first day back after Christmas she is working at her desk when her suitemate comes in and sits down. They chat for a few minutes and go to work for hours with no issues. After lunch, he comes back starts to work again. Within seconds she is barging into my cube and hiding under my desk. Apparently he went to the gym at lunch and instead of a shower decided to douse himself in cologne and she reacted violently. I had to go grab her laptop from their work area for her and she worked under my desk for about an hour before she calmed down enough to move into a conference room.
      We tell that story at least once a year and usually end up on the floor laughing with tears running down our faces while our husbands just roll their eyes.
      And the coworker felt awful when she finally was able to talk to him about it and never wore that cologne at work again.

    12. Retail not Retail*

      “Manager, I just can’t get this darn water key to work, I guess my wrists are still messed up from earlier this summer.”

      “Okay here you go.”

      Righty tighty lefty loosey not the other way around. (In my defense! You have to make weird turns it’s not intuitive)

      A couple weeks ago coworker was like “you gave me the broken one!” “Oh did you check that it’s on?” “Of course I did!” “Did you check all the switches?” “…… yes …..”

      And the backpack leaf blower. Almost anyone can get it restarted if you’ve just turned it off. But you better have the switch flicked on the hand piece and the throttle bar in the right spot or both of you are falling over. (I mean it’s safer to take it off and restart it yourself but it’s faster to say yo come get me started.)

    13. Emilia Bedelia*

      The coworker who sat next to me told me very seriously at lunch one day while I was eating carrots and celery that she just LOVES the sound of people eating crunchy food. She was 100% serious about it – I guess it’s just a nice sound for her? Overall this is great for me to know since I no longer feel bad about eating loud vegetables at my desk.

    14. Koala dreams*

      Earlier this week, I started the computer, wondered about the black screen, and shut it off and re-started it several times. Luckily, before I called my boss to complain about my broken computer, I checked the cables. The cable to the computer monitor was not plugged in.

      So funny about Susan and the post it notes! That made me smile. I use a lot of post it notes, something that’s very funny to my co-workers. In the beginning of the year, my boss came by my desk and said: Here, I found some un-used post it notes, I thought you needed them. That made me smile, too. :)

    15. allathian*

      Ouch! Sounds like Susan was fed up with walking to the office supplies store, then.

  23. matcha123*

    The thread the other day about the new, younger guy whose supervisor felt like she was being disrespected really resonated with me.
    I have a hard time giving and taking compliments, and when it comes to feedback on areas I need to improve, I really don’t know how to respond.
    What are some good ways of responding to feedback? On the rare occasions I do get feedback at work, I say,”Ok, I’ll do that.” and write down what they’ve instructed me to do.

    As an aside, a few people in that thread mentioned that the guy’s response wouldn’t be that out of place in the midwest. I’m from the midwest and have long wondered if there are specific communication styles that transplants from the midwest* have that don’t mesh well with you or your area?

    *midwest = Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota

    1. Midwestern as Heck*

      Uffdah can I talk about being Midwestern in the workplace. I briefly worked in California and there were definitely quite a few mannerism that did not really translate well into the workplace. The usual “yeah no yeah” for yes and “no yeah no” for no certainly caused quite a bit of confusion.

      Also don’t bring puppychow into work and get confused when people ask why you’re eating dog food.

      1. matcha123*

        By all means, let it out! I actually like being from my state and city, but I notice when I’ve searched for articles by midwesterners working in larger cities either in LA/SF or NYC, they all kind of talk about how much they disliked the midwest.

        I live abroad and people here have been taught that Americans are DIRECT. That sometimes causes awkwardness when they thought they were being ‘polite’ by being direct in a way I found incredibly rude.

        1. Midwestern as Heck*

          Agree. I am an excessively proud Wisconsinite and love my state more than anywhere else in the world (come and fight me FIBs (kidding)).

          I would get a lot of questions about Wisconsin obviously and some people were less than nice about my beautiful home state, with the constant cow jokes and implying that the people from Wisconsin were all hicks and the like.

          In general it was in good fun though. Until someone said that happy cows come from California.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            I’m a Midwest ex pat in New Mexico–our DWI programs run with the motto ENDWI. I stared at it and asked aloud What did Wisconsin do to New Mexico? Non Midwest people don’t get it.

      2. Jaid*

        …Puppychow? Oh, homemade Muddy Buddy Chex Mix! If it’s coated in powdered sugar, I wonder why anyone would think it looks like dog food, though.

        1. Midwestern as Heck*

          I just said in passing one day that I brought puppychow into the office and didn’t show anybody the container. Questions ensued.

      3. Reba*

        yeah, no… no, yeah… I’m laughing because I use these so much. I have even found myself writing them lately (since much more is going on by chat and email) and they make even less sense in written form.

        FWIW I am from the Midwest/Ohio river valley and did not read that guy’s compliments as particularly Midwestern. Maybe the norm of acting out a high degree of politeness, but not the compliments as such. I’d be annoyed like the LW too.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Not really an issues but just funny odd things….
      * Bubbler? – Yea, I know what it is now but the first time I heard it, I didn’t.
      * “We’re going to lunch, wanna come with?” – Yes, I know the “us” is implied and obvious but to me it is still odd.

      1. matcha123*

        I only know ‘bubbler’ because it came up in my linguistics classes. I love hearing about linguistic and other regional differences.

        1. Windchime*

          I only know what a “bubbler” is because a friend from Back East told me. (Calinda, if you’re reading this….I miss you).

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I spent the first half my life in Michigan and the last quarter in Indiana, and it never occurred to me that “come with” was a midwest thing. Haha. (The intervening quarter was in the Seattle area, and let me tell you, as someone who completely fails at “guess” culture, it’s been a rough life. :P )

        My husband, who’s been Indiana all his life, says “Do what?” where I would say “Say again?” I’m not sure which of us is the weird one there.

        I do like Indiana’s “pitch-in” better than Michigan’s “potluck.”

        1. Managing to Get By*

          That’s funny because I’ve lived in the Seattle area my whole life and the people I interact with are much more “ask” than “guess”.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            In retrospect, part of my issue may have been that the social circle I fell into in Seattle was also mostly of Midwestern or Southern origin :)

      3. ThatGirl*

        Bubbler is primarily a Milwaukee-area term, I have only heard it from a college friend who now lives there.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      One good response to constructive feedback is “thanks for letting me know that’s an issue. Of course I’ll be happy to make those changes/correct those errors/put those practices into place,” and to ask questions if it’s not clear what exactly you need to do to improve.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks :)
        Now that I’m fully working from home, communicating with coworkers has become a lot easier.
        But this is what I need when I make y return to the office.

    4. Liz Case*

      Folks in India working with folks in Germany. Indian coworkers complained about how rude the Germans were. German coworkers complained that the Indians were wishy-washy and couldn’t get the the point. We Canadians were often the go-betweens.
      I did a workshop which went into different communication styles and which were most common in which countries, and how to modify if your personal communication style clashed with a coworkers. And suddenly SO MUCH made sense.

    5. NW Mossy*

      I’m a Midwest transplant to the PNW (moved in ’09), and I’ve found that it messed with my self-concept of how assertive/confident I am. Prior to coming here, I’d always considered myself to be more low-profile – rarely the first to speak, reserved, and easily intimidated by the forcefulness of those around me.

      Here, I come off as decisive and assertive in contrast to the much more laid-back, consensus-driven approach that’s the local standard. Almost all the people I work with are go-along-to-get-along types, which puts me into a weird spot. If I put my idea out there first it’s almost a certainty that I’ll get agreement, so I have to be cautious about doing that when we really need multiple ideas to evaluate. On the other hand, it’s sometimes advantageous to be the one who drives us to a decision to avoid another 30 minutes of talking in circles. It’s a fine line, and I have to be mindful about it all the time.

  24. SaffyTaffy*

    My state is going to start opening things up at the end of this week. And my workplace may start bringing some people back at the beginning of June. And I’m so nervous about it! I miss everybody and I miss my space, but it’s been such RELIEF to work at home. I don’t get migraines anymore, my spine and shoulders don’t hurt, I’m saving money and sticking to a healthy diet. Most of all I’m not emotionally tired at the end of the day. I don’t want to lose this.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      Can you talk to your manager about continuing to work from home, even if only a few days a week? My feeling is that a lot of workplaces are going to be more flexible about this kind of thing having seen it work during isolation time. It’s worth a shot.

      1. pancakes*

        Or tinted glasses. There are several manufacturers of glasses that look like reading glasses but are tinted to reduce the strain on one’s eyes.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Concerning your spine and shoulders, if you haven’t already, can you have someone look at your desk to make sure it is ergonomically correct. I was having severe wrist pain until the ergonomics person came out and did something as simple as move my keyboard and mouse closer to me. It may be worth looking into. A second time, severe ankle pain was relieved just by getting a foot rest.

      If there is no such person, see if maybe you can get another chair, or reorganize your desk or something. If you don’t have a desk job, talk to your supervisor about maybe getting some back support or a back brace or something.

    3. leapingLemur*

      The migraines might be caused by the florescent lights at work. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can help with that.

    4. nep*

      I really hope your organisation and others will decide to allow those who can work from home continue to do so. Seems like a win-win-win-win-win to me.

  25. Diahann Carroll*

    Rant time!

    This coronavirus situation, along with all of the severe weather we’ve been having lately, has pushed me to my irritability breaking point. People are getting on my damn nerves in a way they never did before (well, in some cases anyway – some people were working my last nerve before all hell broke loose).

    My tiny team direct counterpart decided to send our grandboss a snarky ass email arguing numerical values and how to write them in proposals this week and copied me on the email saying, “I’m sure Diahann has some opinions on this as well.” But before she sent the email (literally seconds), she sends me a message through Teams telling me she was going to send him an email arguing her case and include me on it, to which I responded, “No need.” She and I had already talked about this situation the day before – grandboss was reviewing something I edited where I corrected his previous edit of turning numbers one through three into numerals instead of spelling them out in accordance with our style guide (and AP’s Stylebook, which says numbers one through nine are written out in most cases). I told her to reject his edit and just send the document back to the team responsible for it to get their final approval so we could input it into our document management system. Well, her incessant need to constantly one up people and “win” led her to writing this long ass scribe to grandboss where she meticulously laid out how wrong he was AND mocked the fact that he seemingly didn’t know this rule in the first place having been in the business for over 20 years.

    This is the same coworker that grandboss does not really care for in the first place; the same one he was thisclose to letting go only a couple months into her tenure because she refused to meet with him to discuss her attitude problem and constant need for attention. This same person decided she was going to include me in her fuckery after I told her I wanted nothing to do with this, to let it go, reject the edit, and leave it the way I originally corrected it (with the spelled out version). But no – she has to always be right, and she always has to shit on other people in the process of reminding them that she’s right. Sometimes I really just want to tell her to shut the f%^k up, especially when she talks over us in calls, answers questions not posed to her, and just generally feels the need to give her two cents on everything – whether she has any experience on the topic or not. I’ve had it with her, and apparently, so has grandboss because he sent a response to both of us saying she needs to schedule a meeting between the three of us to discuss this.

    I didn’t respond to the original damn email to begin with, and I ignored the response as well. Grandboss and I have a really good relationship, so I figured if he asks me why a meeting didn’t get scheduled (coworker seemingly didn’t respond to him and no Teams invite went out), I’ll tell him this was coworker’s crusade and I had no parts of it and don’t care to be sucked into some power struggle that has nothing to do with me.

    Then this morning, another coworker I usually like tried to send me a message through Teams at 7am asking if I had time for a brief call. First of all, I’m just getting up at 7 – no, I am not having a call with you when I barely had time to brush the damn sleep out of my eyes. And everyone I work with knows I don’t log on until 9-9:30 anyway – what the hell would possess you to think I care about anything you have to say before then?! I get she’s in another time zone overseas, but she needs to get a clue.

    Then, she sent me an email when she realized she wasn’t going to get a response asking me to review a document for her by the end of my day today because they want to have our executives review it Monday. Never mind the fact that I already reviewed this shit back in March and told them what they needed to fix. Never mind that the people who wrote and revised the document had months to make rewrites and submit them to me for approval. No – they want me to drop everything I’m doing today (a review of a 175 page proposal) to look at their shit because they can’t read a damn calendar to see when something has to be submitted to execs for approvals.

    When I logged in for the day, I told this coworker I don’t have the capacity to do her review at this time and for future reference, she needs to not try and contact me before 9am my time because I will often not be awake while she’s working so she won’t get a timely response. I also explained that I have a massive review project with a deadline (for me) of next Wednesday. This bish had the nerve to send me a response saying that while she understood that what I’m working on is long, her document isn’t that long, so she’d really appreciate it if I just did hers first. I responded back with a much sharper tone than the first email and advised her that I don’t care how short her document is – I already had plans to get something else done today, and I will not be entertaining any review requests from anyone on such short notice, especially when they’ve had months to get it done. She sheepishly came back and asked if I could fit it in Monday, and I said I would.

    The nerve of this bish to act like my damn deadlines mean jack shit and I need to bow to her demanding ass.

    TL;DR: EVERYBODY’S GETTING ON MY NERVES and will learn real quick that I am not to be f%+€£d with right now.

    1. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      Full sympathy Diahann. Days like this I’m glad the tea kettle is nearer my desk than the bottle of Scotch.
      I just added a note onto page 3 of 6 related, previously released documents. Three people approved and went home for the weekend. My fourth person called and asked about page 1, which I hadn’t changed. Since 2018 three of these have born the text “Same as $OtherProduct (copy and paste from $OtherProduct manual” Not even a full stop at the end of the sentence.
      That person has retired so I can’t even ask what happened.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        OMG, I feel your pain so much. If my acid reflux wasn’t acting up so badly, I’d be reaching for the hard liquor as well.

    2. leapingLemur*

      On the positive side, maybe you won’t have to deal with snarky co-worker for much longer. Sounds like grandboss might be ready to cut her loose. It might be a good idea to let grandboss know that you don’t know why you were included in her e-mail; you didn’t want any part of that.

      You did a great job telling person 2 about what she was doing wrong. Honestly, she had months to get it back to you and lets it sit until it’s an emergency!?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right – they do this stupid stuff All The Time and I tell them over and over again that they need to give more notice before requesting my assistance on anything. I’m busy. I do multiple different things for two different teams – I’m not sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting around for something to do. I work on things in order or importance, deadlines, and what I happen to have the brain capacity for on any given day. These damn non-writers need to stop acting as if what I do is just a basic spell-check that can take five minutes – it doesn’t. My reviews take hours, hours I currently do not have. Ugh.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yes! I am so happy I’m off next Friday and then the last week of the month. I can’t take these people for much longer.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Words that should be posted universally: “Lack of planning on your part is not an emergency on mine.”

      You handled it correctly. Enjoy your weekend.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Amen. And thank you – it’s about to get off to an amazing start thanks to my apartment management team. They had a local ice cream shop deliver all residents a free pint of ice cream this evening, so I’ll be downing this while bingeing Netflix and Hulu originals all weekend, lol.

  26. esemess*

    Does anyone have tips on how to train someone who moves much slower than you?

    I am an external processor and can decide things pretty quickly. My trainee is an internal processor and seems to need more time to think through things (plus it is hard to learn a new job!). We’ve never met in person, on account of the current life situation, so I’m struggling to remotely train while ensuring that I’m doing my best to adapt to unique learning styles.

    1. vampire physicist*

      I don’t know if I have any tips, but I’ve found as someone who is a fast worker, just telling myself ahead of time “this is going to take 1.5-2 times the time it would take you alone” is helpful. I’m a person who has a lot of internal expectations on how long things will take and gets frustrated when things take much longer, so setting that personal expectation is useful.
      It sounds like you’re already being pretty empathetic and understanding, so that’s good. Is this something where you can also give them some time to work on their own? Like, if you’re someone who tends to learn best by doing and talking through, but they need time to mull things over, are there instruction manuals or similar you can send them in advance so that they’ve already had some time to process? This won’t help with decisions they need to amend on the spot but giving them time on their own to prepare could speed things up during the time they’re actively working with you.

      1. Washi*

        I agree with this. I’m naturally a brisk worker who picks up processes quickly, and I’ve learned I can’t really use myself as a benchmark. I pick a coworker who does solid work and imagine teaching them the task and how long it would take, and use that.

        Also maybe you’ve already done this, but have you asked them what’s been helpful for them in training for past jobs? Some people will not have an answer to that, but some people do know what works well for them and will be able to verbalize it.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I actually practice this sometimes. As I’m going through a process I do daily or close to, I talk through it like I was training someone else, explaining the whys and wherefores of my actions and talking through the process. (I worked from home even before the world melted, so I’m not disturbing any other coworkers, though my dogs think I’m a little weird sometimes.) I’m not a great trainer normally, but practice in vocalizing the steps and reasons and processes has helped, I think.

          1. esemess*

            Once I’m done with this training round, I am going to try to keep up this skill. The process is reminding me of areas where I need to communicate better, and I want to ensure that I improve for my next trainee!

    2. Amy Sly*

      When I train, I walk someone through my thought process, asking them to answer each question that I go through internally to make the “quick” decision.

      e.g. The customer asked for this shoe, so let’s find it in the stockroom. Is it men’s or women’s? (Walk to the correct side) Is it open or closed toe? (Walk to the right aisles) Is it dressy, casual, or sporty? (Walk to right aisle) What’s the brand name? (Walk to right section) What’s the style name? What’s the color? (Walk to right shelf) What size? (Trainee pulls the correct box.) At another store, it was mens/womens, type, size, color, brand name, style name. At yet another, it was mens/womens, type, color, heel height, style name. My ability to locate shoes five times faster than the trainee was because I knew how the stock room was arranged and therefore what order to evaluate information.

      The trick is figuring out the cause of the slowness. If they’re obtaining the information they need and applying the correct algorithms to use it, the speed will come with practice in time. If they aren’t sure where to find the information they need, or feel like they’re trying to drink from a firehouse, then they need help in asking the right questions or sorting through what’s irrelevant to find the relevant information. If they’re slow because they don’t understand how to combine the information, then they need training on the purpose of the algorithms and how it works.

      1. esemess*

        Excellent points–thank you!

        We have A LOT of shoe options to learn, so it totally makes sense that it will take time to build up speed and confidence.

    3. Lucy P*

      I have someone that works with me that has to help with basic accounting, but flips out whenever we mention numbers of spreadsheets. I’m still looking for a way to get them beyond this.
      They’ve done similar work before, but spreadsheets were always templates created by someone else. Accounting software was more modern than what current company uses.
      In fact, they suggested for several years that we should farm out payroll because it was easier that way.

    4. Reba*

      I wonder if your tasks would be suited to breaking up the sessions more. So you are not sitting there waiting for the trainee to do something, while they are getting progressively more flustered because you are waiting for them…

      Like, could you run through a scenario or chunk of information, then leave them to it, giving them time to percolate and for questions to arise. Set a check in time for an hour or whatever, review and then start the next chunk. I’m adapting this from classroom and tutoring experience so your mileage may very much vary!

      1. esemess*

        We are doing things in chunks with set timelines! From some of these comments it seems like I’m probably doing okay and just need to give myself grace that remote training is hard.

        Thanks for the feedback!

    5. Kettricken Farseer*

      One of the things that I do with new recruits is ask them what style of learning works best for them. So, if someone needs to see things written out, then I do that. If they learn better by being shown, I do that. I also lay the expectation of how long the learning curve is and regularly talk about where they are along it, so it’s clear if the person is falling behind or if they’re where you’d expect them to be.

      1. esemess*

        I’ve done all of these things! This makes me feel better.

        I’m working with a trainee who seems unsure of what she needs, and every time I ask for feedback I’m met with silence. This is very much the opposite of me, so I’m trying to remember that silence doesn’t mean everything is terrible. :)

        1. Chaordic One*

          I know this is frustrating, but it could well be that she is indeed unsure of what she needs, at least for now. She’ll need to go through the procedure a couple of times before she can tell you. Meanwhile, after you’ve found out her learning style (someone who needs things written down vs. someone who needs to be shown) work with that.

  27. Working mom*

    Working moms!!!
    I had a job interview recently for an amazing job. The downfall: it’s full time and a 30 minutes committee each way. I’ve been fortunate enough to work part time since my kids were both. What are the pros and cons of working full time as a mom. Am I crazy? I have 4 kids, ages 5-13

    1. Schnoodle HR*

      I have two, one is 3 months the other 4 years old. I’ve always worked full time with kids.

      I would say, with the extra money, hire some help for the house whether it’s cutting grass or house cleaners. Set a schedule for things like laundry. Make sure the kids (and husband) are doing their fair share as well.

      Use your extra money after that wisely. Make it worth while.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I find it interesting that we don’t have dads making similar posts . . . .

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        One of the cons of working full time as a mom is that people will judge you for doing so.

        But it’s a trap, because they judge you for going part-time, and they judge you for not working.

        And the real trap is that if you don’t have children at all, they judge you for that too.

        You can’t win. So you choose what actually works for your family, and ppppffffffrtttththth to the commentary.

        1. allathian*

          Oh, you’re so right!
          Life got so much easier when I quit caring what other people thought and just went with what works for me and my immediate family.
          That said, I’m really glad that dads are more willing to take parental leave now than they were 10 years ago when it was an issue for me.

      2. ...*

        It isn’t helpful to point that out to her though. Sure, dads aren’t asking the same thing. Doesn’t change the particular situation she’s in right now.

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      I have 3 kids, 3,5 and 9. I have always worked and mostly had a 30-60 min commute. It will be challenging at first. I usually work through lunch so I can leave an hour, earlier than most traffic hits. Assign chores, meal prep, insta pot and crock pot will your new BFFs!

    4. Half-Caf Latte*

      When I was in grad school, a beloved advisor told me that if I wanted the PhD, I needed to do it before gradeschool age, or once the espresso shots were grown. At the time, I only had a newborn, and she was like – it’s so much more time consuming to parent older kids, they have their own needs and places to go, you can work around a newborn much easier, and I’m finding that to be true (but also working around a newborn is super hard! just a different hard). Once there are activities to go to again, I’d think about how they’d all get to those things if you were the chauffeur previously. I have one friend who had an au pair for grade school and middle school aged kids, because she was like – the extra driver and homework helper is essential

      Pre-COVID, I had several convos with friends who also worked full-time, high responsibility jobs, and we often daydreamed about cutting to 80%, because the extra time would be so useful. We all thought our varied employers would over time manage to increase the workload back to 100%, and we’d be stuck doing 40 hours of work in 32 for 32 hours pay.

      1. Overeducated*

        I work full time with an infant and a 5 year old and fantasize about working 25-32 hours. (I had a 32 hour job with one weekend day when my first was a baby and loved it, but it was a dead end with no benefits.) My mom was able to negotiate part time professional work for many years, but said “it’s a trap, you do the same work for less pay.” So perhaps you’re right.

        I think it’s not the working that’s hard, it’s the commuting and kid transportation logistics. That’s what I would weigh in my decision.

    5. Super Duper Anon*

      Not a pro or a con, but as a decision point before you decide to take the job, do you have access to full-time reliable childcare that can cover your work day plus commute time? Plus back up plans, like what happens if a kid is sick? Obviously, this may be different right now with the pandemic and remote working, but will apply if you have to start going into an office again.

      Personally, I like working full time, especially now that my kids are older, but, the child care stuff still takes lots of planning.

      1. Mervyn Bunter*

        +1000 and I’d add in summer childcare considerations. For my two kids (now teens), one summer I had a babysitter staff of six to ensure complete coverage (due to sitter vacations, school/activity schedules, etc).

    6. Susie Q*

      My commute is 30 minutes (not a problem and short for my area). I have a 10 month old. It’s been hard leaving her in daycare but my earning potential is too high for me to stay home.

    7. button*

      I would say, calculate how much it will cost you in gas, increased childcare, and possibly increased eating out/prepared food or household help. That will give you a better idea of if the salary is worth it. I agree with Schnoodle in making sure your husband and kids, esp older ones, are on board with taking on more chores. The last thing you want is to sign up to work full time and also keep doing as much housework as you are now.

    8. ..Kat..*

      Can you use the commute for “me” time as much as possible? Listen to podcasts or audio books that you like?

    9. BethDH*

      I really like working full time, but I think part of that has been finding ways to make it work. Some times it has felt like work was more of a break than the weekend.
      Some minor points that were important to me:
      -given the long commute, is it something that can be enjoyable or at least neutral? Mine was on pretty roads, minimal traffic, and gave me time to hear my own thoughts and listen to podcasts.
      -can childcare (and summer camps) be somewhere that is equally/more convenient for your partner to do pickup &or drop off? That takes up so much time and energy, and also leads to taking on more of the domino responsibilities, like picking up sick kids midday or doing doctors appointments.
      I also recommend reallocating home responsibilities but not in a you-or-me sense, which leads to too many fights about equity. I found it really helpful to make every conversation about workload also include “drop it entirely,” “do it less,” and “hire someone”. It just felt less defensive — and that’s not just about women working. We had the same conversations when my husband had work changed.

    10. allathian*

      Depends also a bit on where you live. Is your oldest at least able to travel to and from school on their own and do hobbies or extracurriculars without getting driven everywhere?
      As a parent, it’s also perfectly fine to refuse to allow your child to participate in some extracurricular that takes a lot of your time and effort.
      I’m not in the US and full-time work for me is 37.5 hours per week. We do have a generous working-hours bank and lots of flexibility, so my actual weekly working hours vary from about 20 to 50+ hours, but they average out to less than 40.

    11. Generic Name*

      I have one child, so my situation is different, of course. I did work part time for several years, but now work full time. When I worked part time, I constantly felt pulled in multiple directions. On the upside, I had time to take my child to extracurricular activities. If you have a partner, I’d sit down and talk about expectations in terms of who does what. I’m guessing you do the bulk of the kids activities, cooking, and chores? That will have to change. With that many kids, it will be very difficult for one person to drive them to activities in addition to working full time, so your partner will have to help or you’ll have to cut back on the kids’ extracurriculars. If you discuss things with your partner and they are unwilling to do half of the work, then I personally would not increase your hours.

  28. Nessun*

    I am really struggling with a task for my boss. She wanted to do a webinar in late June on a topic that was relevant for our group, but has now decided that mid to late May would be better because we can spin it to relevance for current events. I understand why this is happening, but this is the first time I’ve dealt with this type of thing and June was an attainable goal for me. May…not so much? I’m worried because the contacts I was cultivating to figure out how to do this (at my massive company) are already stretched thin with their own jobs due to all the extra webinars and online learning that’s now required – they would pve to help but their response time to my questions is now weeks instead of days, and I dont have weeks! And our vendor for the tech is swamped too, and not responding to me (I imagine they’re busy with other requests from those same contacts I can’t reach).

    I’m worried this isn’t going to come together at all – we won’t be able to hit the deadline my boss has set, and she will be pissed. And she’s already talking this webinar up to colleagues! I don’t know if she’s said anything to customers…

    I really don’t want to fail at this. It’s useful info for clients right now, good for my development, and my boss really wants to get it done. But I just don’t know if I can! I’m almost paralyzed to the point of inaction now because I can’t think how to do this successfully. Not sure there’s anything to be done, but thanks for letting me vent.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      Have you actually told your boss that the shortened timeline is not as feasible for you? Is it possible that she really doesn’t understand how much of a crunch this is? I’ve had similar problems with bosses who are “ideas people” and don’t understand what actually goes into it. I am very sympathetic.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This! Tell your boss exactly what problems you’re experiencing as a result of the shortened timeline, let her know you’re as eager to make this a success as she is, and ask if she can help you find a way of solving those problems, like lighting a fire under the vendor you mentioned.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Seconding this advice. Make some of this your boss’s problem, and she’ll push that webinar back to a feasible date.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Can you ask your boss to leverage her work capital to get the information you need from your contacts, or if she has contacts of her own that can be called on? (If that is your primary concern about being able to pull off this webinar in May.)

  29. Another PhD student*

    At what point should I reach out to a company about whether my offered position is still intact, as well as whether it will be starting remote considering the present situation?

    I was given an offer to start as a paint engineer at a teapot design and manufacturing company, with a start date set for mid-to-late June (a few months after my graduation) to give myself time to finish up projects, travel, and move to the other side of the country. Now with the current situation, I am obviously not going to be traveling and moving is turning into a bit of a logistical nightmare. I know the interns at this company are going to be remote for the summer, so it’s possible that I’ll be remote start as well, but I haven’t heard anything from the company about it. Right now, it’s a bit over a month and a half before my start date, so I am trying to figure out when it’s the most appropriate to contact them – I didn’t want to do so at the beginning of the various state shutdowns, because the answer would almost certainly be that they’re still figuring everything out and someone not set to start for a couple of months is definitely not the most urgent issue anyone was (or is) dealing with right now.

    For people who are still hiring/on-boarding people, how much ahead of a start date would you want someone to contact you, keeping in mind that this is someone who will need to move cross-country if they aren’t starting remotely?

    1. 867-5309*

      I think Alison previously shared an email script for this… I’ll post later if I can find it.

      It would be fine to reach out now.

      1. Another PhD student*

        I saw the script earlier, thanks for reminding me of it! I was mostly concerned about timing, so thanks for the confirmation that now isn’t too soon.

  30. Sharkie*

    Hi Unemployed readers! What are you doing to keep your name out there? I’m putting in a good application once a week but my Industry was completely gutted by covid. Any other ideas? I’m in my mid to late 20’s so my network isn’t amazing.

    1. 867-5309*

      What is your industry?

      I also think Alison’s frequent advice about a great cover letter is good. People often only submit one when it’s required (and then only do something generic) and they can make a big difference.

      1. Sharkie*

        Sports. And my cover letters is why I am only applying to 1 job a week :) That and almost no one is hiring since no one is playing

    2. Unsolicited*

      Have you considered remote volunteering via VolunteerMatch or CatchaFire? What about earning free certifications from HubSpot, Google, among others? Could you reach out to former classmates, professors and your alma mater’s professional directory? You might also consider applying to work for the U.S. Census, which will begin field operations in June.

      Good luck with your job search and networking!

    3. Manon*

      I’m working in performing arts administration and, before everyone canceled their seasons, had been interviewing for post-graduation jobs. It’s just not realistic to only apply to arts jobs considering that it’s not certain that most places will be able to reopen by the fall – I’d imagine it’s the same for sports.

      Can you look for jobs with a similar function outside your industry? I’ve opened my search to admin/development positions in pretty much any sector in the hopes that some places are still hiring.

      1. Sharkie*

        I have extended my search to beyond sports but my heart isn’t really feeling it. I know it’s silly but this is all I wanted to do since I was little and it’s hard to come to terms that this part of who I am is gone

  31. Want to be better*

    I have a new boss coming in a couple of months and I am NOT EXCITED. I work directly for a Dean of a college. I’ve been in my position 6 years and I feel like I’ve made so much progress with the current Dean. She is finally on board with some of my ideas and we’re making progress! So of course her term is ending now. I’ve met the incoming Dean – he is a nice guy but honestly has no idea what he is getting himself into. He was a professor at another institution a decade ago, but has no administrative experience at all (comes from industry.)

    At the first administrator’s meeting when he came to meet us, he asked why there were so many of us? How many people does it take to run a college? Asked the same thing of the staff meeting – what do all of you do?

    He’s not malicious, just clueless. And now with the pandemic and the economic issues, it is going to be even more difficult next semester. University line is “hoard cash” – no spending right now. It will loosen up a little in the fall but it won’t be normal.

    I know that the incoming Dean deserves to have an enthusiastic staff who wants to implement his vision! But honestly, his vision is not informed by reality. It is like stepping back in time and erasing all the progress I (and others) have made over the last few years. I DO NOT WANT TO DO IT!

    But I felt I had to turn down a job offer last month because of the uncertainty. I know for sure that the best thing for me to do is keep my job for a year, keep my head down and ride out the pandemic safely. Any strategies for how to reframe my mind from thinking of this as a wasted year, just surviving until I can get out? I want to be better than that but I am not sure I am.

    1. Holey Moley*

      I ran into something like this when I worked for a high position person and the position changed to someone new who was fundamentally different (laid back get the job done to micromanager and uptight). A few things that helped me: try to focus on the positives of having a new person. He asked why so many people were at the meeting…. do all of those people actually need to be there or is it just for information only? The new dean will bring a new perspective and new ideas. Some will be great and some will annoy the crap out of you. But you have to remember change can be good. I tried to focus on the good things about having a new boss in that position. It meant that some of the things that were always happening that were bad and a “it is what it is” situation got changed or eliminated. Also… this might help a little but remember that you work for the position and not the person. Your loyalty is to the office and school not this guy.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’m in a similar situation, about to be assigned to a different manager that I desperately do not want to report to. I’ve had two conversations with him in the past, plus seen him in action at various group meetings, and I think he’s incredibly ill-suited for his role and the widespread suspicion is that he only has this role because he’s church-going buddies with the top guy.

      Last year he joined our group from another part of the company and no one had any idea what he actually did – he has a manager title but produced nothing and had no direct reports. As of next week he’ll have a dozen direct reports. I very much doubt he’ll be the kind of career advocate I need given that he has so little management experience, visibility, or capital in general. He also just threw a colleague under the bus when a meeting got contentious. The really sad thing was, up to that point, that colleague (a friend of mine) was the only person I’ve ever heard say anything positive about this manager. Oh, and he even has a pet project that I’m sure he’ll think I’m the right person to own it (technically that makes sense), but it’s an old, dated concept that has never worked for several key reasons and I will not spend any real time on it. I’m just dreading reporting to him if it’s a long term assignment.

      So, how I plan to manage it if I don’t get my wish to be transferred to someone else (I’ve made my case, they’re still deciding)… Holey Moley’s last few sentences. Loyalty and effort go to the work and the employer in general, definitely not to the individual manager. I know what I have to do to get my project the support it needs. To the extent that I can keep him on my side by being pleasant to work with and provide easy-to-approve solutions, I think I can get him to approve and provide support. I have a good relationship with multiple other managers (peers to him and one-two levels up) so I don’t think things can go too far off the rails.

      I don’t know if it’s really possible to go with a version of malicious compliance, but that’s an option too. Like with this dead-end project my manager has in mind. If it’s assigned to me, yeah I’ll do something with it, but that something will somehow make it clear that the project is a non-starter. That’s a clear result, if not the one he thinks he’ll be getting. So I wonder for the Dean, if some of his unrealistic ideas might be enthusiastically taken into consideration, only to slowly (so that everyone is on the same page) reveal that gee, it just doesn’t work the way he thought and maybe this other solution is better?

    3. longtimeremote*

      Was it phrased that directly? It’s common for new bosses, especially those doing a change of industries, to want to have a feel for what each person’s role is in the new industry. If it was as abrupt as “why are there so many of you?”, that’s one thing – but if he wanted everyone to give an in-depth view of their roles for his own knowledge that’s expected and normal.

      Another thing to keep in mind, especially if you’ve worked in academia exclusively – this guy has both experience with university admin (albeit as a professor) and experience in industry admin. If you or others only have experience in university admin, perhaps the new guy is right to be skeptical of how work is done on the university side of things? Without industry experience, you may not be able to make a fair comparison, but it sounds like the new dean can.

  32. Emma*

    Has anyone taken a training course from a ‘management consulting’ type of company they actually found useful? Stuff like communication skills or presentation workshops?

    The ones I’ve been on in the past (mandated by employers) have mostly felt like a mix of common logic and fluff, with very little insight or helpful information. I wonder how much these people get paid to peddle so much non-content.

    1. Middle Manager*

      I find the Career Tools/Manager Tools people really helpful. I haven’t been able to take any of their trainings, but I listen to the podcasts regularly and they seem pretty solid.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Stephen Covey classes. Yes it was common sense and logical — but organized in a way that was new to me. And they gave me some good vocabulary & examples that helped clarify issues with managers.

  33. 867-5309*

    Just a little vent:
    We are hiring for a customer success manager position and two of the pre-screen questions are about familiarity with software.

    People are entering 5, 10 and 15 years experience for one of the software programs that’s been around less than 4. It’s unfortunate because I then automatically reject them because they are either lying to game the system or not paying attention. In a couple cases, even if they had listed 0 years experience, we would have otherwise considered them due to overwhelming strengths in another area.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      Nice. I wonder how people think they’re not going to get caught out on blatant lies like this.

      It’s the reciprocal of the classic job posting asking for more years of experience with software than the software has actually existed.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        I assumed it was people who had been rejected by software for stating a truthful lower number, and there’s a lot of advice encouraging people to enter the higher number, even when it can’t be true, just to get past the filter.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Wow…like you said people are not paying attention or they just think back and don’t even remember it did not exist that long ago…

      Interesting!

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

      I’ve always got the recruiter asking for 5 years experience in a technology that has 2 o 3, or heard about candidates faking at most a couple of years for junior positions, but I’ve never imagined that someone would fake 10! And to be a manager! Sure, this are desperate times, but that’s too much for me. Did you wrote the ad or had it proofed by someone who knows what the position is about? I’d have it checked, just in case.

      1. 867-5309*

        The ad just says candidates must have experience in the two programs – it doesn’t specify a specific length of time.

        1. 867-5309*

          And yes, I wrote the ad AND had two others look it over before publishing, including the current person in that role.

    4. Holey Moley*

      Hmm is the software similar to a different program? Like teapot painter vs teacup painter? Because I would be like yeah I got experience in this if I had 10 years with teacup painting and you are asking about teapot painting.

      1. 867-5309*

        No – it’s a wholly different and unique software so there is no confusing it with something else.

      2. Federal Middle Manager*

        I’m not sure I’d automatically reject. If you’d asked me how many years I’ve used Google Sheets, I’d probably say 20+ because that’s how long I’ve been using EXCEL and they so functionally similar. Could it be something like that?

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is it possible they assume you mean $SpecificSoftware as well as $OutdatedCompetitor that it bought out and replaced?

      1. 867-5309*

        Nope – it was an entirely new launched software with it’s own name.

        I know folks are trying to figure out where the confusion is but trust me, the job description is clear (as it, it doesn’t articulate a minimum years requirement, just general experience) and the software is unlikely to be confused with another. :)

    6. Clementine*

      Rather than set up a no-win situation, why not have a free-form question where you ask the candidates to describe their experience with those programs, while providing dates of use?
      I’m sure this is different, but to give an example, I started using WordPerfect in 1984. I can’t remember when I started using Microsoft Word, and now I have moved to Google Docs. I don’t really have a clue how many years experience with MS Word I have. Word processing is not an official duty for me, but like most office workers, I have some proficiency in it.
      If you are asking people about a tool that does certain tasks, they might not distinguish them in their minds.

    7. allathian*

      Some pre-screen systems are very inflexible. If there are only options for 0, 5, 10 etc. then I wouldn’t reject those who put 5.
      Sounds like the question is one of those nasty ones where what you’re asking doesn’t match what your potential interviewees think you’re asking.
      Listing simple experience doesn’t always tell the truth, either. You can have used a particular program for ages, but if you only use it once a month or less, while someone else uses it daily, they’re going to be more proficient than you even if they have used it for a shorter time.
      I’m not particularly good with numbers and worse with dates. I’ve been using computers for studying and working for 30+ years, but I have no idea when I first started using Word or Excel… Or when I switched versions.

      1. 867-5309*

        1. The pre-screen question is open so people can enter any number of years.

        2. This isn’t a “nasty question.” We need experience in this software but occasionally a candidate’s other experience is so stellar that we could potentially overlook it.

  34. Lead not speaking up*

    I’ve been working on a project for another team for 7 months. 4.5 months ago another person on that team joined the project as the lead. We are the only 2 doing the same task. We get along. I like her. She’s easy to talk to. However she always asks me to speak up in meetings, report issues, ask questions. She doesn’t want to send emails or speak to the other members of the team as a whole. She will send emails or im people individually. But ask me to send group emails addressed to the whole project team or speak in the daily project meetings. I get that I’ve been on the project 3 monthsish longer but these are the people she works with far more closely than me.

    I think she’s worried about being ‘wrong’ and the quality of work isn’t great so I get the reluctance. But I’m not assigned to lead and I don’t want to take over and I get tired of being the spokesperson. I don’t like talking in meetings in general. On the other hand we are all working from hone and she has 2 kids so maybe she’s worried about the noise? Is this worth bringing up?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Bringing up to who? Her? If so, then yes, say something if only to get clarity for yourself on what her issue is. As the lead, any group emails or verbal announcements should technically be coming from her, so you’re not wrong to feel weird about why she’s asking you to do it.

  35. rageismycaffeine*

    In yesterday’s full department Zoom meeting, a director made a really shitty joke about one of his employees “being on suicide watch” because she’s so busy. He sort of chuckled when he said it, then took a beat and said “well, it’s not funny, but…”

    I was furious. I’m STILL furious. I immediately told my supervisor how upset I was. He agreed, but I don’t know if it went any further than that. Nobody called the director out in the moment for making light of such a serious subject (ESPECIALLY in a time where it’s well-acknowledged that mental health is pretty fragile and important right now). For all I know his supervisor, our department head, has actually spoken to him about it, and I guess I should be fine with that, but there’s a part of me that wants to write a polite but firm email about not making jokes about something like suicide.

    I guess I’m not looking for advice or anything, just venting. People suck.

    1. Pine Sol Stew*

      Holy shit, that’s beyond tasteless.

      I don’t think it would be out of line for you to loop back to your supervisor and ask — gently, since there are levels of hierarchy involved here — if there’s a way to follow up on your concern from before, and make sure that it’s been expressed to the director that that’s a really horrible thing to joke about. Especially directly about another employee! It’d be bad enough if he’d made the joke about himself, but directing it toward another person is really appalling.

      Cause, wow. In your position, I’d want some kind of assurance that the company doesn’t consider coworkers committing suicide an okay thing to joke about.

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        I am going to bring it back up again with my supervisor. It’s been 24 hours now so I can reasonably say that I have slept on it, thought about it, and am still upset. I’m also on very good terms with the head of our department, but as you noted, I’m trying to respect the hierarchy here. I doubt I’ll ever hear conclusively the results of this, but I would love to see it addressed somehow that we can’t be this callous.

        1. Pine Sol Stew*

          I’m glad you are, and the more I think about it, the more I think you might get mileage out of making this a company culture issue, rather than a “this guy” issue. Good luck!

    2. Blueberry*

      People are so often terrible. I’m so sorry. I wish I could encourage you to send him a blistering email.

    3. Kettricken Farseer*

      Sometimes people just say stupid shit, and it sounds like he immediately realized. However, I totally agree with your sentiment though, that suicide jokes are NEVER funny, and particularly not right now. My guess is that nobody called him out because he’s the director?

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Yeah, while I do think it was a slip and he did immediately recognize that it was not the brightest thing to say, I guess my sense of justice demands that he be spoken to. I think nobody called him out because there were 20 people on the call on varying places in the org chart – he’s above me on the org chart, but on a separate limb of the tree, so to speak.

        Honestly, in retrospect, I really wish I had said something. Just giving a death glare isn’t as effective on a Zoom call as it is in person.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      People really do suck, especially when there have been stories all over the news in recent weeks of people killing themselves due to isolation. Dude needs serious sensitivity training.

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Amen! It’s especially crappy because I – and a couple of other people – have spoken candidly in our team meetings about the need for looking out for our own mental health in this weird time. It’s not like he doesn’t know.

  36. Confused at Home*

    I recently rejected from a job in a very peculiar way (for me…in my opinion). I’m curious for those of you who are hiring managers on in HR if you can help me wrap my head around what this means for me with this company. And before you start typing…yes, yes…I should apply and let it go. I’m not looking for that feedback. I’m not necessarily dwelling on the missed opportunity as much as I’m confused as to why the hiring team was so deceptive and confusing with their messaging. Some context:

    I had a few rounds of interviews with a company that’s been high on my list for a while for what would have been a really great role. I received nothing but positive feedback during the process which I know means nothing really. I interviewed right as states were entering lockdown so I was told that they were working through their process given all the changes happening around us so “it’s not a no. It just might be a no for right now.” A few days later I receive an email from HR saying they were going with another candidate but would love to stay in touch for future roles. That I’d “be a great fit for other properties in the portfolio.” A few hours later I receive an email from the department head that I interviewed with thanking me for my time and letting me know that there would be a delay in next steps but please reach out if I have any questions. The department head’s email seemed to indicate I was still in the running so I asked to clarify my status and a few days later she replied back that they had in fact identified a potential candidate.

    Fast forward a few weeks and the position is still posted and the HR manager recently posted that they’re looking for candidates on her feed. I’m just curious why the conflicting messaging? Why not just close the door cleanly and say I’m not what they’re looking for? Also curious if it’s reasonable to reach back out to the department head directly to reopen the conversation? This role has been posted for almost a year. And if they truly are interested in keeping me engaged for other opportunities within the company…and clearly haven’t found the unicorn their looking for with this current role…does it hurt to propose we re-open the conversation?

    1. Schnoodle HR*

      Its weird. I’d have done it cleanly as you mention, just let you know you’re not a fit right now.

      I think the actions say that they don’t want you for THAT position, but they’d like to keep you in mind for something else maybe later. So to keep that bridge, I’d just tune out of what’s going on with the job you applied/interviewed and didn’t get.

    2. People Person's Paper People*

      In my experience many hiring managers do not like to be the ones to decline candidates. I would guess that the hiring manager was being deliberately vague about your status as a candidate because they were waiting for HR reach out with your official status update, and didn’t realize HR had already done so. Sounds like not the best internal communication going on there. It’s also very possible that what HR told you was true – you’re not the best fit for the project(s) they are hiring for right now, but you have valuable skills in other areas that might be applicable to other projects they hire for.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Something similar to that happened with my first post-college job. I graduated right before the 2008 recession when things were on a downward trend but not completely awful yet. I attended a job fair and spoke with a rep from the company and then submitted an official application a couple days later when the position we discussed actually posted. I had a phone interview scheduled and then received a rejection email the day before the scheduled interview. Well they still called and I was not prepared. When I explained my confusion the HR person I was talking to said there was a hiring freeze and those email went out to everyone with an active application. They had assumed that since I had a scheduled interview I would automatically know that it didn’t apply to me. We rescheduled the phone interview since I was at the grocery store when they called and that once again triggered a rejection email. I emailed the recruiter and they told me to just ignore anything from the system at this time and they will notify me personally of the status of things. Got the job but it was about a 3 month process between the job fair and my start date.

  37. (Hopefully) Job Changer*

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to get into foundation work as a program officer/program associate?

    Context: I got a lot of advice 10 years ago that foundations liked to see some private sector experience (in the same field), but now 8 years into working in the private sector it seems like that has changed and everyone wants to see field work instead. Does that mean I should be looking for a job in the field instead for a few years and then try foundations again? Am I just pitching my experience the wrong way? Working in program management for a foundation has always been my goal, so I’m hopeful that I can finally make that transition with this job search.

    1. New Senior Manager*

      You have 8 years of experience so go for it despite lack of field work. Play up any applicable transferable skills. Know that some foundations aren’t doing that great right now while others continue to soar. Research them thoroughly. Wishing you well,

  38. The Original K.*

    Feeling a bit frustrated by some bottlenecking going on right now – I can’t move forward on something until I get something from my boss. She knows I need it so I’ve resolved to take a deep breath & move on to other work. How do y’all handle bottlenecks?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Exactly like that. Sometimes I just take a break. I get really, really frustrated, but I also remind myself that… sometimes it happens.

      There are different levels of bottlenecks. The one I deal with most in this job is waiting for my boss to get back to me with something so I can wrap up a project, and honestly, that’s relatively minor in my world, mostly because it’s easy to directly point to what caused the delay. Another level is a bottleneck that kind of comes from me; if I’m really busy and something has to go down the priority hierarchy, then I usually communicate and tell whoever needs something from me that they will have it by X, just to keep them aware and manage expectations. Another level– the WORST– is when I’m waiting for something from a client and my project can’t proceed without it, yet they still want to hold us to a timeline. I once bugged a client almost daily for something critical to a project, they sent it two weeks late, and when I said that would affect the timeline of our deliverable they gave me MAJOR pushback and we ended up scrambling to keep them happy. That sucked.

      So I try to remember that the first level is ok, you have communication to cover your butt (I hate that I always go there, but I do), and you just have to keep breathing and carrying on.

      1. allathian*

        The third one is the worst, definitely. I’m just so lucky I don’t have to deal with external customers directly. If this happens often, there should ideally be something in the contract about penalizing the client if they’re late in providing something that’s essential to the final deliverable. Either the client needs to be flexible with the deadline or they’ll pay more. Of course, it rather depends on the type of deliverable whether that’s possible or not. If it’s easy to switch vendors, it wouldn’t work.

  39. New Senior Manager*

    Just received an offer for Senior Mgr of Learning and Development after 5 interviews. Whew! The Director mentioned they need a complete overhaul of their New Employee Onboarding and SME Troubleshooting Training (heart device). Any advice or best practices? Reading AAM definitely brought me this far. Thanks!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Congrats on the offer! It’s encouraging to know there is still hiring even at this time!

    2. Type 2*

      If you are not part of ATD, Association for Talent Development, please consider joining. It’s an industry org for all things training and development. Good luck!

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      No advice since that isn’t my field or function, but many congrats!

  40. LGC*

    Bit of an update from last week – I was a little stressed about taking the train to work because it didn’t feel responsible or that safe. I shouldn’t have worried that much, since it was pretty empty anyway. Getting to the office was a bit unpleasant, since I decided to bike from the terminal to my office (roughly two miles away)…in the rain. (Do not do this. I was appropriately social distanced for the bike commute. I was also drenched.)

    It’s starting to look like we might start ramping up again, though – and I might be back in the office in June (or even earlier; NJ hasn’t issued guidance, but I know upstate NY might start lifting restrictions May 15). So I have that to look forward to. I just need to get practiced at taking the train again and being careful out in public.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Bicycle in the rain is so bad, worse than walking in the rain. At the very least, you’ll need rain clothes with pants and jacket. I’ve seen people steer the bicycle with one hand and use umbrella in the other, but that’s too difficult for me. Good to hear the train was empty, at least.

  41. New Fed Here*

    Any tips to on how to make changes in a corporate culture where the job functions just don’t play nicely with each other?

    1. NW Mossy*

      In my experience, lack of playing nice tends to arise when there’s poor communication between the groups and they have limited understanding of what the other group does. In the absence of clarity, people start to write in their own story about why Team X always does that, and it’s rarely a flattering tale.

      What’s helped my organization a lot with this is a concept called “blame the process, not the people.” The idea is that when something goes wrong or isn’t flowing smoothly, we ask “how did the process allow for this to occur?” rather than “who’s at fault for this?” It disarms defensiveness on both sides and gets everyone focused on addressing the actual issue rather than pointing fingers. This analysis typically involves looking at a process from the starting point (“how do we know we need to Do A Thing?”) to the ending point (“how do we know The Thing Is Done?”) and identifying who’s involved and what they do.

      It’s gone a long way to opening everyone’s eyes to the ways in which our stuff is connected. I particularly saw a big change in someone I used to manage, who was always frustrated that she’d get requests she couldn’t move forward on. She used to blame the person immediately upstream from her, which made them annoyed because they didn’t control the inputs to the request – they were just the relay. With the new approach, she learned that it originated farther upstream and was able to have more effective conversations about fixing the process because she was directing questions to the right people.

  42. Constance Promise*

    I used to work in the same department as Dean, a brilliant man for taught me a lot. But as I’ve grown in my career, some of the things that he accomplished I know now were routine things that followed a set of rules. He wasn’t misrepresenting himself, I just learned more about how the sausage is made.

    I now have a role like Dean’s in a different department. To get certain things launched, we follow a very prescribed timeline and system of operations. Sometimes Dean’s department and mine have overlap and we need to work together to launch products.

    Recently, the person who works for Dean, my former role, has started to send emails about product launches that allude to Dean’s ability to get products pushed through. Statements like “I know someone who, if he says jump, they will jump.” and “I have an insider who can make things happen.”

    I am so annoyed by this! It’s because I know that Dean isn’t doing anything special to get his product launched, he’s following the rules we all follow. But it’s probably not worth saying anything to either of them right?

    1. Annony*

      You say that he doesn’t misrepresent himself, so I really don’t think any good comes from saying anything. Dean isn’t doing anything wrong and the person who works for him has a bit of hero worship going on. Even you say that dean is brilliant and taught you a lot.

      Of course, you don’t say who these emails are going out to. Statements like you cited could be seen as unprofessional. I wouldn’t want clients to feel like they need an “insider” to get something done at my company. So if you think the emails are making your company look bad, you could address that aspect of it.

    2. nep*

      Agree–leave it alone.
      I once had a colleague who was really creative (not at all deceptive) in how she presented herself and what she did. In the moments I put aside my inferiority complex, I saw how beautiful it really was and I admired her way.
      Know that I’m not at all saying this is similar to your experience–simply that I get what it’s like to see a colleague present normal, everyday tasks everyone does in a ‘dressed up,’ shall we say, way.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Definitely not. Consider that the person who’s sending these emails could have been you in your early days, looking at Dean as “someone who gets things done” without the context that he’s really just following process.

      I say that as someone who occasionally gets referred to as “the expert on X” and honestly they’re just referring to my ability to expertly Google things. It wouldn’t be a good idea to point out that all we’re doing is following process or Googling things, especially if the end result is still valuable.

  43. AnonForThis*

    I’ve read about information interviews and will re-read posts related to that topic here (later).
    A job posting that I am looking at says the person in the current position (leaving) is happy to talk to anyone about the job.
    Would you treat it as information interview (even knowing you would apply)?
    Treat it as a “real” interview, knowing if you made a bad impression on person-in-current role that could hurt your chances? (And for that reason, maybe not take up the offer?)

    What questions would you ask if you had this opportunity?

    Other thought/reactions? (I’ve never seen this on a job posting before.)

    1. Alex*

      Hmm…I think informational interviews fall into the category of wanting to leave a good impression anyway, even if you know that you are there just to get some information and that they likely don’t have a job for you. You never know, and leaving a bad impression after an informational interview is not a desirable outcome at all.

      I would definitely treat it as a “real” interview, meaning, a chance to a) make a good impression and b) ask questions to see if it would be a good fit for you. I’m not sure why that would mean you wouldn’t take up the offer for this opportunity, as it could be extremely valuable. And not taking that opportunity to talk to the person in the current role would honestly look really odd–and like you weren’t all that interested in the job.

    2. SophieChotek*

      I would agree.
      Read the job description closely and prepare as you would for a “real” interview.
      This is a great opportunity to get some extra insight into the job.

    3. Annony*

      It is more like a “real” interview since it is about a specific job rather than the field in general. I would ask about hours, how often is overtime required. Do they ever need to go in on weekends? What is a typical day like? It there are parts of the job description that you particularly like or don’t like, I would ask what percentage of time those tasks take up.

  44. Alex*

    Although I really love working from home, I’m finding I HATE the kinds of things that contribute to having warm (working, professional) relationships with my coworkers. Meaning, I hate social gatherings on Zoom, I hate mundane Slack chit chat, and I even hate all the extra “warm” greetings that everyone is putting in emails nowadays. I just don’t have the patience for this, none of it feels authentic to me, and I’m afraid I’m going to become known as the office jerk, rather than how I was previously known, as a really nice, warm person, with great professional relationships that helped me do my best work. I am that person in person! I am not that person via email, on Zoom, or on Slack.

    I realized that as this goes on, that might be a problem–people’s impression of me will fade with time, and also we will probably have new employees I won’t ever meet. Our office is anticipating probably not going back to full in-office mode…ever. Which is fine with me! I am very happy to be remote, I’m just worried about what it will do to my reputation.

      1. Alex*

        It was authentic! But it felt natural, and the environments for interactions over Zoom or Slack don’t feel as natural, especially with people I don’t know that well. I do much better in person, even if I don’t actually like commuting to work and sitting in a cube all day (hate that! hate it! so glad I am not doing it at the moment!). And my emails have always just been kind of dry and to the point, but softened by the fact that people already know me. I joke around a TON in person, but rarely over email, for example.

    1. Anon for this*

      Yeah, you’re going to have to adapt to your (new) office culture. Your office mates find it “authentic.” It is a way for 100% remote offices to remain warm, friendly, and in-touch. This is how it’s done!

    2. INeedANap*

      Can you dig into why it feels inauthentic? Is it due to not being able to hear someone’s tone of voice on email? The weird “doppelganger” effect of Zoom where everything feels a bit off? Do you hate mundane chit-chat in person as well as over Slack?

      I do think that, without face-to-face interactions, someone who doesn’t engage in at least a little “warmth-building” is going to get a reputation as cool. Jerks are actively jerk-y and I don’t get that impression from you at all, but I do get the sense that keep a professionally warm relationship is something that might suffer.

      1. Alex*

        Now that I think about it some more, I think it is more that I rely on random, one-on-one interactions to build relationships. Things like running into each other in the break room, or what have you. I drink so much tea that eventually I’ve chatted up everyone! It is the group nature of the social Zooms and all-staff Slack chats that I really don’t like–and I actually don’t like those kinds of things in person, either! But now there is no opportunity to randomly talk to someone for no reason whom you don’t already know well, other than the established group socializing events…which I’m not comfortable in in person or online. It feels totally weird to Slack someone and talk to them in the way you would if you were both standing around waiting for the kettle to boil.

        1. allathian*

          I hear you, I really hear you.
          I’m a chatty introvert, so I find big meetings either in person or online very draining. I really enjoy even small talk with a few people.

    3. Annony*

      I don’t think you need to be “warm” in all forms of communication, but you do need to be in at least some or you will be perceived as aloof. Maybe focus on one form of communication and try to get used to it so it doesn’t feel as fake. I would probably pick zoom since it is the closest to in person interaction. You can get your friends and family to help you practice so that it feels more natural.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve got some people who reply to an email or IM by asking to call. Not zoom. Just a phone call. No video. Might be worht a try.

    5. Pommette!*

      I mostly do remote work, and agree with you completely.
      I genuinely care about my colleagues, as people. I know how to express this in person (mostly – I’m a pretty awkward person at the best of times). But every way of expressing that remotely feels profoundly dishonest, and instrumental. I don’t know how to build new relationships online.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I also enjoy a bit of breakroom chitchat, and always had pleasant connections with most of my coworkers when I was office based. But scheduled work socializing feels awkward & performative to me, whether they’re on Zoom or IRL.

      It’s the difference between “Hey, are you going out for lunch?” vs the office Christmas party.

      Also, I don’t normally socialize with coworkers in my house. If I were going to invite the whole team over for drinks, it would be A Thing, with Expectations. We wouldn’t be hanging out in my home office.

      It’s not horrible, we’ll all get used to it. But I completely agree, it’s not fun & I’ve been avoiding stuff because I just don’t enjoy it at all.

    7. Aly_b*

      If you ever have opportunities for a one on one phone or IM follow-up about something, that can be a good chance to have those brief interactions that might feel more genuine than in a group setting or an email. Something like spending a couple of minutes at the start of a call commiserating about how much you both miss going to wherever gets you a lot of “warm” person mileage, that I think covers for a lot of more brusque / efficient emails since it is a more direct connection with that individual person.

  45. Unicornucopia*

    I’m a high school senior going to college in the fall, and all year it’s been my plan to get a job over the summer. However, given the current state of things, I’m not sure that this will be possible. I have zero job experience because my previous summers have been fuller and I did more volunteering and the school I’ve gone to prohibits having a job during the school year (like I could be expelled for having one, and the workload is such that it would be incredibly difficult anyway). I’d been looking for jobs to apply to before all this happened, and had a list of applications, but these were mostly summer camps that have now been canceled and other non-essential businesses. I’m not trying to pay for my own tuition with a job or anything, and I wouldn’t be in dire straights if I don’t have one, so do I keep looking for a job? I have elderly grandparents that live with us, and so working in a grocery store or place with a lot of risk to virus exposure isn’t really an option right now, but there aren’t exactly a lot of work-from-home jobs for high schoolers out there. Is it even ethical for me to be looking for a job if things open up at some point this summer when so many others will need it more? I live in a city based on tourism, so there are lots of people out of work right now as we’ve been especially hard hit. Also with so many looking for jobs who likely have much more job experience than I do, it feels unlikely that an employer would go with me over them. Anyway if anyone has any thoughts on this, that would be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Colette*

      My thoughts:
      – you’re right, it’ll be hard to get a job you can do from home
      – it’s ok to try to get a job even if others could use it more than you
      – what about something outdoors (yard work, etc.)? Seasonal jobs, with not much exposure to people

    2. SophieChotek*

      You ask some really thoughtful questions (ethical, etc.) At least to me, I think that’s shows real maturity.

      Like you said, there probably isn’t a lot of WFH options for people just starting out, but that might be one option

      Also, depending on your major/background, I wonder if there is any WFH volunteering you could do, to continue to support your resume/experiences? (Of course, people looking for work may also need that experience, and hopefully no non-profit would take your volunteer as an excuse not to rehire/lay off someone else!)

      Also (you may not want to think about more classes!) but there are so many free classes out there at the moment, if nothing else, perhaps even something like that

      Good employers will understand if you don’t have a job on your resume this year after graduating/right away,

      Good Luck!

    3. No Name Yet*

      One question is: what are your goals for working? Money? Office experience? Being productive? Feeling that you should for a vague-but-important reason?

      I suspect you are correct in the ways that it will likely be difficult/more complex then expected. You mentioned summer camp, are you interested in working with kids?
      My thought is 100% coming from my situation as a family with two working parents – but we’re thinking if teleworking stops but camps aren’t open, we may look into hiring someone watch our kid in the house. (That may not be of interest, or feel feasible with your grandparents, but figured I’d bring it up since I suspect lots of working parents will be in our situation this summer.)

    4. Annony*

      You should talk to your parents about this. Since your grandparents live with you it may be better to not look for a job right now. Any job that isn’t work from home is going to increase the risk to your grandparents. Since you don’t need a job it may not be worth it right now. This does depend on location though. If you were somewhere like NYC, the risk is far greater than if you live somewhere with few cases.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. If you don’t need the money, table the job search until you get to college. High school job’s just won’t make that big of a difference when you graduate from college – your college jobs/internships will take precedence.

    5. EndlessFiling*

      My little brother is in the exact same situation, a high school senior about to enter college and was planning on getting a job this summer. We are just having him wait. It would be nice to have this experience before college, but you will have plenty of opportunities during your college career to get a job and work experience is usually not necessary for college admittance unless you are aiming for a scholarship with that requirement. Especially if the job is not needed for your finances, I would try not to stress so much about it. It’s not unusual for someone to get their first job in/after college.

    6. UK gal*

      Perhaps you could look at tutoring younger students over the Internet? You could make it fun with games and activities, like a summer school class. With everything going on lots of parents are going to have struggled with helping their kids with schoolwork. Maths seems to be a big one that parents are struggling to help their kids with, but I am sure multiple things would be of interest, like poetry or art. You could try asking around and see if people locally would be interested.

  46. SophieChotek*

    Salaried query
    My understanding is for salaried positions (ideally)
    You work your hours
    But if you need to take off for an appointment
    Or maybe finish your work early for the day
    You might just take off
    And unlike hourly-paid, that’s (generally) okay
    (Depending on the culture of the office)

    How do you deal with this during WFH?
    OTOH, I can always find something to do
    OTOH, my big projects/must-be-done are sometimes done early
    And I still feel like pandemic has messed with my ability to concentrate
    But I don’t want to take advantage of the situation either…

    How do you handle this? I feel guilty working less than 40 hours, but….

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I took off today for an hour to go grocery shopping. I made good progress during the week, had an early start this morning, and have no guilt.

      The feeling guilty for less than 40 hours a week is hard to shake. You could look at it from other perspectives:
      * did you get more than enough done so that nobody else is stuck waiting for your outputs?
      * do you rigorously account for your “off-time” when you’re in the office? conversations around the coffee pot, 5 minutes here and there browsing the web, etc? You might be comparing apples to oranges.
      * did you get a comparable amount done during WFH as you would at the office?

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks; I do tend to try to be pretty “honest” about my 5-10 minutes here or there chatting with co-workers, the time I took to answer a personal email that I totally forgot about that became urgent…

        Also my work is pretty independent of others, so I rarely have anyone waiting on me

        I always get that done right away/by deadline
        But always have those “back-burner” projects, some going back years…

        Thanks!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      In my office, what’s important is that we communicate with our managers (and for those of us who ARE managers, with our reports) about when we will be unavailable. I have had reports send me Slack messages to say, “hey, I just finished my work on X project, and since it’s 3:30 and I’m kind of fried now, I’m going to log off if that’s OK.” I assure them it’s fine. Or someone might tell me, “I’m going to be starting late tomorrow because I need to hit the grocery store first thing in the morning,” and that’s fine too. We make communicating about absence or early leaving/late arrivals really easy, because we have Slack, where it’s easy to see if someone is marked as available or not, and we have a shared Outlook calendar for our team so we can see if someone is out (I just put a couple appointments on there for myself, for later this month, and will likely remind my manager and reports about them as they get closer).

    3. ThatGirl*

      For me, my computer is on/I’m generally available from 7:30 to 4, but I don’t feel guilty about putting it aside to eat lunch, or walk the dog, or clean something, or if I had an errand to run I’d do that. My focus was never 100% on work for 8 hours a day in the office; there was time to enjoy some cake in the breakroom, or chat with a coworker, or just take a walk around the floor to stretch my legs and get coffee. I figure if my work is getting done and I’m responding to emails and IMs in a timely fashion, it’s all good.

    4. Lyudie*

      You are still allowed to take time for yourself and with everything going on, you really should. You’re probably under more stress than you realize and having a three-day weekend or whatever can help ease that. I took a mental health day a couple of weeks ago, just gave my manager a few days heads-up with the request and it was not a problem. It sounds like one day is not going to impact your getting things done, so do it!

    5. Alex*

      I’ve just stopped paying attention to the time, except to make sure I attend scheduled meetings. I just work until I don’t. I’m responsible for prioritizing “time off” vs. “this needs to be done”.

      As long as you aren’t sloughing off work to others, missing deadlines, or turning in low quality work because you wanted to watch Judge Judy all afternoon, I’d say…who cares how many hours you work?

  47. Youth*

    I’m supposed to write a doc that explains why I’m good at my job, what I’m not as good at but am working to improve, and why I deserve a promotion.

    Anyone else ever had to do something like this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      All of those except “why I deserve a promotion” are normal.

      Does your employer have regular quarterly or annual review cycles? Are there clear and obvious career tracks – titles, responsibilities, etc.?

      If not, your employer might be winging it. If it’s a small/new firm, that’s understandable. But an established organization ought to have a regular system for this kind of thing.

    2. Youth*

      Sorry, this isn’t a “is this normal?” question. It’s a “how do I go about this?” question.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Something for the future: I keep a word document that I update each Friday with accomplishments and things learned for the week. I’m always shocked looking back at how much I’ve accomplished.

        What you’re good at: list 2-3 adjectives and then some examples that show that. For example “good attention to detail” “sorted the Filing Drawer That Shall Not Be Named”

        What you’re not: list 2-3 challenges you faced this year, what steps you took to succeed, and (most importantly) what help you could use from work. “Had a huge uptick in customer facing work. Sent summary emails after each meeting for clarification. Would love to take some negotiation training”

        Why you deserve a promotion: list any financial contributions you’ve made “came up with idea that saved company $x” “regularly beat metric for reqd number of tickets”. But also, see, what you are good at. You can also use this as an opportunity to talk about added responsibility or growth desires. This year I requested to supervise the interns (back when we were going to get some).

    3. Timekeeper*

      Not only did I have to write a document, I had to conduct a one hour presentation for our group’s director, vice president and 3 senior project managers which covered my accomplishments for the past 2 years. My boss told me I nailed the presentation and follow up meeting on the manufacturing line I designed and validated (medical device).

      I got the promotion, but it was extremely stressful.

  48. Not a Girl Boss*

    Anyone else feeling caught between depression-fueled rage quitting fantasies, and the desire to be the best employee ever?

    I’m currently working The Project From Hell. It is not my skill set, I don’t really see the value, it relies on people who won’t give me the time of day. But without access to our site, its suddenly become 100% of my job.
    I spend half of my days avoiding work, feeling really depressed about how hopeless and meaningless it all is.
    And then like an hour before quitting time I get all “But what if I put in all the effort, really made a huge push, there’s like a 10% chance this could be great.” Then I lie awake at night feeling guilty for not trying harder.

    1. gee willikers*

      I have BEEN THERE. I have no useful advice, unfortunately. :( I escaped from my own Hell Project only because it was cancelled due to COVID-related issues. But you have all my empathy, and I hope you also get out of it soon.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Thank you. Haha glad SOMETHING good came out of COVID.

        Actually, 2 good things, I just got an email saying my HSA could now be used for feminine hygiene products as a result of the Coronavirus healthcare act thingie. Bless whoever snuck that little line item in there.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Yes, but it’s more like I really want my current project to succeed, but –
      Right now I’ve just been reassigned to The Worst manager for both my project and for me personally/career-wise, but –
      I immediately made a strong case to my senior manager (as did my current manager who knows this is bad news) and he was open to the feedback and my request to be assigned to The Best manager, but –
      That decision is still pending and may take a while to go into effect, and –
      Now my company is looking at layoffs, but –
      My specific skills are considered mission critical, but –
      The people who get to put names in for layoffs (not my management) don’t like me for reasons not related to my performance, personality, or anything substantive (except possibly gender?), but –
      It’s possible my management *could* find a way to protect me and I appreciate that they seem to have my back but if things get any more bleak who knows, and so –
      I might be putting in an awful lot of work to make this project a success and still be laid off this summer.

      I’m still able to be productive during the workdays, but I have now lost sleep over this roller coaster and am 90% sure it was the cause of my migraine earlier this week.

  49. A Jessica*

    Sometimes in the background of our video calls one of coworkers has a cross hanging on the wall in one corner. He mentioned one time his husband is a minister so it isn’t surprising for him to have religious stuff in the house but would it be offside for me to either speak to our boss or ask him myself not to show it because of my (and potentially others) discomfort with religion and christianity? I get an uncomfortable feeling every time we see it. Our work doesn’t have anything to do with religion or churches so it is jarring to see. Thank you to anyone who replies. Have a good day.

    1. Colette*

      I vote no. It’s his house; as long as it’s a passive decoration and he’s not talking about religion, you don’t get a vote about what’s on the walls (with specific exceptions – a nazi flag would be something to object to.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And I say this as somebody who doesn’t care for organized religion either.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Personally, because this is the person’s home, I’d be inclined to let it go.
      (Presumably, you’d ask anyone to take down any religious iconography – a Star of David, a Pentagram, etc.)

      If it was their office cubicle at work that would be different. (Though even then, I think there have been some letters/discussions about how much “personality”/”Private stuff” can/should be allowed in an office/office cubicle.)

      But others may have a different take on this!

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t see why a Star of David or a Pentagram would be any different from a cross.

    3. rageismycaffeine*

      Speaking as someone who is also not religious and gets the discomfort: I really don’t think you should say anything. Nor should you if someone had religious paraphernalia in their office at work. That’s a personal expression and as long as they’re not actively proselytizing to you you’re going to have to let it go. IMO this is especially true when people are working from home and what you’re seeing are items they have in their home, not in the workplace. This is just part of working with other people with different belief systems from yours.

      please note that I work in the American South where there is way more religion present in everyday life than perhaps might be in other geographical regions, so my view may be colored by that.

      1. A Jessica*

        Thank you. I also live in a place where my faith (Jewish) not the majority. I’m openly observant in my professional and personal life as a minority but it is difficult at times. I didn’t realize he was christian until he mentioned where his husband works during one of our calls when we were talking about the newness of working from home but now that I’ve seen the cross it feels like it is at the forefront all the time and that’s where the discomfort is coming from.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I can understand that, being Pagan. One very soft thing you might try that doesn’t actually ask him to remove or hide the cross (which, as others have said, would not be good to do) is to start using really fun and interesting virtual backgrounds on your video chats, and encouraging others to start doing the same. If he decides to put up a background of, say, a Hawaiian beach or something, it’ll hide anything in the real background. It might not work, but it might, and if it does, it’ll give you a little ease while not infringing on your coworker at all.

        2. Bluebell*

          A Jessica, while you might not want to strategically move your Judaica, would it make you feel better to wear a chai or Star of David on Zoom calls? Just a thought. I can empathize being a religious minority, but after 30 years in different workplaces, I’ve chilled out about lots of faith based stuff.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          So… it’s ok for you to be observant but not for him because his religion is not a minority one? As I mentioned in my comments below, I’m Jewish. I lived for many years in a place where being Jewish was certainly not common. I got some weird responses and looks from people who saw the Star of David I always wore, so it’s not like I don’t get the challenge, but the solution to not being treated differently because of your religion is NOT to treat someone else differently because of their different religion.

          Suggesting that someone take down a religious symbol in his own home bothers me. That suggestion coming from an observant person actually offends me, and I don’t get offended my much.

          1. pink floyd*

            I agree with you AvonLady Barksdale. There is nothing wrong with anyone’s religious observance (unless they are pushing it on to others of course). But A Jessica has been ‘openly observant’ at work, meanwhile she didn’t even know he was religious at all until he made an offhand, one off comment about his husband when they had began working from home. It’s a double standard if there ever was one.

            1. Annony*

              I agree. If you ask him to hid any sign of his faith, you need to do the same.

          2. Youth*

            As a highly religious person, I am also flabbergasted by this double standard. I am a Christian (though racially, I am part Jewish). I would be 100% fine with colleagues openly practicing Judaism or Islam in my presence. I’m also fine with people being pagan or atheist or agnostic or whatever. I want to support people in their beliefs, just like I would hope they’d support me in mine.

        4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Ask yourself if you would you have the same reaction if you were both working in the office, and he wore a cross necklace or lapel pin. If not, then I suggest that your discomfort might stem more from the artificial aspects of the teleconference & the stress of the whole work-from-home thing.

          Just something to consider.

        5. Alice*

          It sounds like the feeling that his Christianity is at the forefront all the time is *your* feeling, and I hope that you can reframe it. I imagine you want people at work to think of you as a talented colleague who happens to be Jewish, not as a Jewish colleague who happens to be talented. If you saw a child in the corner of video calls, would you think that his status as a parent was at the forefront all the time?

        6. allathian*

          Frankly, you don’t have a leg to stand on. It’s his home. He’s not bringing religion to the workplace normally, since you say you didn’t even know he was Christian until you saw the cross. (And there’s no way to know how observant he is, even if he’s married to a minister.) I mean, my answer would be different if he had a swastika on his wall, or pornographic images.

          What does being observant in your professional life mean to you? I assume you keep kosher, but does it mean that you try to schedule your vacation around Jewish holidays? Does it restrict the way you dress (the no mixed fibers thing makes it harder to dress professionally)? Or do you refuse to shake hands with a person who presents as a member of the opposite sex? (I’d be perfectly happy if I never had to shake anyone’s hand ever again thanks to COVID.) I hope that I’m not coming across as judgemental here, I’m just curious.

    4. Schnoodle HR*

      Like others, I’d say no. It’s his house, he’s not starting each meeting with a prayer, etc.

      I see it as someone wearing a cross necklace.

      I’m not christian and I don’t really have anything positive to say about the faith, but this wouldn’t bother me.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Absolutely do not ask anyone to speak to him and ask him to take it down. I have “religious” pieces in my house too, and if someone told me they were offended by my prayer books and my menorah and my mezuzah, I would be so bothered by that– and I would 100% feel unsafe. It’s his home. This is my home. I’m Jewish. I’m gonna have Jewish stuff around. His cross is in a corner, he’s not waving it in your Zoom meeting yelling at you to repent. If you have a poster in your home saying that atheism is the only way, and it’s visible on your webcam, you wouldn’t want someone to ask you to take it down, would you? Simply having a cross in his home is not being Christian at you. It’s his home. I want to say this 1000 times: it’s his home.

      Do you feel the same way about people wearing cross or Star of David necklaces? On their own person?

    6. AnnieMay*

      I think you’re being a bit extra about this. He isn’t preaching he didn’t bring it into work. This is just his home, existing how he lives, where he’s now stuck doing work.

    7. Youth*

      He lives there. I know this is an odd time, but it’s not that different from going to his house for a casual visit and asking him to remove it while you’re there. Either would be a major overstep.

      That goes both ways, of course. If you have a needlepoint on your walls that says, “There is no God,” he shouldn’t ask you to take it down or hide it. If your house is a festering pigsty with unmade beds and dirty dishes everywhere, even if that makes him uncomfortable, he can’t ask you to tidy things up for video calls.

      If your video call app has virtual backgrounds, you could introduce your team to them. Maybe he’ll start using one. That’s as far as you can go, though.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Indeed! I get very annoyed by my co-worker’s super messy bookshelf and unmade bed during company-wide video calls. So I vent to my partner when we hang up. I would never, in a million years, think it was ok to comment to someone about the state of their home– unless it’s, like, “Oh, what a beautiful view” or “I love that wall color.” Not all opinions are necessary to express, which I say to my mother on a regular basis.

    8. Blueberry*

      I hear you. I have bad personal history with Christianity. But I agree with everyone else that it would be an overstep to ask him to take it down.

      Also, I hope this thought helps: Your coworker is a man married to another man. Considering the overlap between Christianity and homophobia, if he and his husband have navigated that, then the odds are more likely that they won’t be obstreperous about their faith, right? At least, I very much hope so.

      All good luck and you have a good day, too. Here’s hoping it can unsettle you less as time goes by (and I say this with all sympathy as someone who would be unsettled as well).

    9. Bluebell*

      I’d also vote no. Depending on where I have my laptop set up in my house, someone might see a mezuzah, a print of Jerusalem, or our ketubah (Jewish wedding contract). And I’d be annoyed if someone complained to HR. Decor in people’s house is really up to them. Perhaps I might change my mind if it was a huge banner saying something like “all non-Christians are going to hell” but just a cross is pretty low key.

      1. Susie Q*

        This! You can see my ketubah in my background. If someone complained, I would be majorly rolling my eyes. But most people don’t know what it is.

    10. A Jessica*

      That should read, my discomfort with *his* religion and christianity. I am of a different faith so I’m not inherently uncomfortable with religion. Apologies for any confusion.

      1. Fulana del Tal*

        So someone is allowed to wear a Star a David, hijab or pentagram but a cross is somehow warrants a talk to managers? You have a problem with displays of Christianity, don’t make it a coworkers thing. If you wouldn’t someone else to hide their religion or wouldn’t appreciate someone telling you to hide yours, don’t say anything to the christian.

      2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

        Would it be appropriate for him to ask you to remove Jewish symbols from your home or to take off a Star of David necklace? I am uncomfortable at times by overt religion, but this sounds no different from your own outward observance of your faith.

      3. Leah K.*

        Oh, so your issue is not just religion, it’s “his” religion specifically? That just made it so much worse. At first I thought you were just a bit precious because you din’t want to see a religious symbol in a work context without realizing that said religious symbol is literally just a decoration in this man’s house (similar to a cross necklace worn to the office). But you actually have a problem with this man’s specific religion. So, you’re not precious. You are a bigot.

      4. leapingLemur*

        Maybe A Jessica is uncomfortable because of things that have happened in history or because of their own experience with Christians? There are some people who call themselves Christians who really embarrass the rest of us. Christianity is supposed to be about love and kindness, not persecution.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That does not matter one iota in this situation. If someone bothered her in the past and happened to be Christian, she is not entitled to then erase all Christians from her vision. Just like I expect not to be vilified if another Jewish person did something egregious to someone else and the only connection between us is that we’re Jewish. That’s a really, really terrible slippery slope right there.

          I am not arguing that A Jessica might have had some bad experiences with Christian people in the past, because I don’t know her. But that does not give her or anyone else the right to dictate what religious pieces a person can or cannot have in his home. She didn’t even know he was Christian until she saw a simple symbol!

          There is simply no justification for telling a religious person to remove something from their home because its simple presence offends a person for reasons I can’t even wrap my head around. Coming from an observant person? Good grief, that’s ridiculous.

          1. leapingLemur*

            I agree that it’s not a justification for telling a religious person to remove something from their home. I was just trying to understand where Jessica might be coming form. I’m Christian, for what it’s worth.

            1. Fulana del Tal*

              It’s not about Christianity, it’s the hypocrisy of she being allowed to observe her own religion but others not because it’s makes her uncomfortable. Avonlady is right it’s a slippery slope.

    11. pink floyd*

      By your own admission you are openly observant with your religion at work.

      By your own admission you didn’t even know he was religious until you all started working from you saw the cross and he once mentioned his husband being a Minister.

      I’m guessing he hasn’t complained about your observance or you surely would have mentioned that. You have no standing to say a word about him. You are holding him to a double standard which is unfair and wrong. How would you feel if someone said that you were making them uncomfortable?

    12. alexis*

      It’s his house, leave it alone. You normally don’t see peoples kids or pets or spouses or kitchens or dining tables at work either, there’s a lot we are just all ignoring since we’re working in such a strange setting.

    13. Coverage Associate*

      I am so annoyed at the world for suddenly making my home a workplace without any compensation, cash or in-kind. (No relaxation of home office deductions for taxes, no stipend for hardware or lap desks, etc.) I would be extra annoyed if I were asked to change my decor.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        That’s an interesting point about the home office deduction. Under prior IRS rules (greatly simplified), you had to have a dedicated space only used for work, and not have another office. Seems as though they ought to reconsider the guidelines for the 2020 filing year. So many of us do NOT have anywhere else to work, at least for a couple of months, that it would seem reasonable to allow a pro rata deduction for the portion of the year we are locked down.

    14. Oxford Comma*

      If this was in his office, it would be one thing. Maybe even if this was normal working from home, you could say something. It’s not though. Many people have limited space and setups. I have friends who are trying to do work in their kids’ bedrooms and people who are stuck in a tiny corner in the kitchen. My suggestion would be to do the best you can to ignore it.

    15. ...*

      Really its that “jarring” to see a cross in the background of someone else’s house? I would let it go. It is his home and crosses are a pretty typical decoration. I’m not Christian or even a supporter of it either it just seems like something so common that it would be really odd to ask someone to change it.

    16. RagingADHD*

      If you did manage to prevail on your manager or HR to try to make him take it down (which I hope they would have the good sense not to), then the company would be open to liability for religious discrimination. Particularly since it is extremely targeted against one specific religion.

      Might be a good case, might not. But the last thing any employer needs right now is more liability for anything.

    17. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      If “his husband” is fine, so is a cross. Or any other religious symbol.

  50. New manager*

    I started a little over a month ago as a manager at a new company, mostly remote. I’m probably psyching myself out a bit here, especially because of the remote part, but I have a few questions.

    1) The thing I hated most was being micro managed. Their previous manager told me that both of my direct reports need a lot of management
    /hand holding basically. Lately I’ve been doing something that I would not like to be done to me – we have a time sensitive project and have had brief “where are you now” check ins 1-2 times a day. However, they seem to like it and are happy to discuss even more than I want to, so it seems to be working – should I let my fear of micromanaging go?

    2) I was hired to take some work off my boss’ plate. For the first few weeks I was afraid that she was going to be possessive about the work, she’s the one who built it from the ground up etc, but she’s slowly letting go – anything to worry about here?

    3) Sillier question – should I dress up over Zoom? I couldn’t care less what anyone is wearing, and everyone is in tshirts and sweatshirts, but I am the young new female manager with direct reports older than her, and normally in the office I would try to dress up at least a little

    I know this place is wary of young managers and new managers, but I really do have top notch credentials and experience for this role, the company is growing, and I do feel like people (my direct reports and others at my level / slightly below me ) respect and accept me and listen to me. It’s a fairly small place so I was a bit worried they would see me as an interloper.

    1. Blueberry*

      I would dress up if I were you, at least from the waist up. I wish I could tell you to stay relaxed with everyone else, but I think it may help you build capital and hold onto respect to project that more businesslike image.

      All good luck and learning as you continue becoming a great manager! (FWIW, I appreciate my daily check-ins with my boss, especially while WFH. I feel they help keep me attuned to what he needs from me.)

      1. New manager*

        Thank you! The person who especially likes the check ins also told me he likes coming to the office and not working from home, and lives with random roommates he isn’t friends with (it’s a very friendly office). So that may be part of it too.

      2. foolofgrace*

        There was a story on the news — and they had video so it was true — of a remote worker on a call wearing a shirt and tie, not realizing that the video feed captured the fact that he wasn’t wearing any pants. Oops!

    2. Alianora*

      Not a manager, but it sounds like things are going well and there are no actual conflicts, just ones that you anticipated that haven’t happened.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I would dress neatly and professionally — so not full on business suit but a top or shirt one step up from a t-shirt, clean and neat hair, and if you present as female, small jewelry (and depending on your complexion) a little bit of make up if you need that to look put together on camera. For some reason, the cameras are EXCELLENT at picking up my blotchy complexion, so I have to put on a little foundation + lipstick + mascara just so I look like a person.

      1. New manager*

        Yeah someone on a call today was wearing a plain shirt but large-r earrings and lipstick and it looked pretty good over camera- may go down that route. I’ve eased up on the dressing up but sounds like I should go back to doing that.

      2. Black Horse Dancing*

        Why jewelry if you present as female? Why note clean clothes, neat attire, hair clean and presentable?

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yes, there is jewelry for men too! And some jewelry is gender neutral, even. I would say: put on some jewelry if you are a jewelry person (of any gender). With some tasteful jewelry, you can feel extra festive. If it’s not your thing, just skip the jewelry.

          1. allathian*

            Definitely not my thing. I even quit wearing my wedding ring years ago, because I have very sensitive skin and just can’t deal with having something there all the time. Still feel as married as I ever did with the ring!

    4. Purple Jello*

      1) Some people like frequent checking, especially with a new manager. If you feel it’s too frequent, try dropping down to once a day, or even less, and see how it goes.

      2) nope, she probably didn’t want to overwhelm you. As long as she continues to offload more work to you, I wouldn’t worry. Maybe check in with her about it?

      3) I suggest you dress one step up from them on most days. Same thing once you go into the office. Attire does affect people’s Perception of you. In my business casual office, I only dressed casual on Fridays, and still not as casual as many other people

    5. Marthooh*

      I can’t speak to the first two questions, but for #3: keep your hair tidy and wear some ersion of what other managers wear.

      1. Marthooh*

        Or if all your ersions are at the cleaners, wear a version of what other managers wear.

    6. Mockingjay*

      In your mind, try to reframe micromanagement as “structure” or “support.”

      There’s a difference between quickly checking that your staff is getting what they need to meet a tight deadline, and questioning every aspect of their role. You can ease off the check-ins when the project is finished.

      I think you are doing incredibly well starting a new role in difficult circumstances. Your staff likes you. Your boss is doing exactly what was promised, diverting work to you. These are signs of confidence in you.