open thread – May 29-30, 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.

{ 1,111 comments… read them below }

  1. LTL*

    Anyone out there in data science? Is it possible to be a freelancer in this field? I’ve been told that freelancing isn’t really a thing in data science right now (unless, maybe, you’re focusing specifically on data viz or data journalism).

    I always planned to be a homemaker once I had kids but I also want to keep my skills fresh during that time in case I ever want to go back to work. I’m trying to see what my options are.

    1. derp*

      I only have minimal tangential experience, but I know that data science consultancy is totally a thing.

    2. programmer*

      It’s definitely a thing, a lot of places have a need for a data science project or two but not necessarily enough work to have a dedicated person. It does help with marketing yourself if you have a particular industry or type of work you’re focusing on, but not necessary.

    3. OtterB*

      Consultants are a thing, especially with data viz but also otherwise. Depending on who you know, maybe you could develop a relationship with a person/organization that does more general consulting of some kind, where you subcontract to do data pieces of the work.

      Another way to keep your skills fresh, if you don’t really need paid employment at this point, might be to seek out data-related volunteer gigs. Lots of small nonprofits (maybe one you already have a connection with?) need help with data things and don’t even know what they need, or have a budget to do it. These will be challenging projects, because getting information and buy-in from the operating staff may be hard, but has the potential to be very helpful.

      1. A volunteer*

        I don’t have data science skills but I had enough business experience to clean up the client data base for my church’s food pantry during a period of unemployment. The outreach minister told me what happened to create the problems, what she needed, and reminded me that all client info was confidential. It took a while but it was a good way to get out of the house –back when that was a real thing.

    4. AW*

      I can’t help with any freelancing advice but, I work in data you might be able to find volunteer opportunities helping non profits with their data needs or teaching or coaching people who want to learn technical skills like languages. I’ve been working with a non profit that runs coding courses to try and make tech more accessible to people and it’s been really good.

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Seconding volunteering with nonprofits! We would LOVE to have a volunteer data scientist help us right now. :)

      2. Ranon*

        My mom did some volunteering with her local food bank to help them with their data management- lots of places have a lot of data to handle these days!

    5. pandas as pd*

      In my experience (I’ve been a data scientist since way before it was cool haha) its very hard to break into freelancing from scratch. The most successful transitions to freelance I have seen are where someone starts work at a company, proves their value and then transitions out of full time employment to free lancing for the same company that used to employ them. This is probably most effective in non -traditional industries or mid size companies: I think this is far rarer in big traditional tech firms. This could be a great way for you to keep your foot in the door while taking an extended parental leave.

    6. only acting normal*

      Yes, it’s definitely a thing. Probably termed “consulting” not “freelance” though (different industries seem to use the terms, although they mean approximately the same in practical terms).
      Maybe look at joining a suitable professional society? E.g. In a the UK the Operational Research Society’s Analytics subgroup might be appropriate. (I think the US equivalent might be INFORMS?) They should have targeted listings of consulting work.

    7. Anonadog*

      Ever heard of Western Governors University? It’s an online only university that lets you take courses at your own pace – as many as you want in one semester, for a flat fee. I’m considering enrolling to get my MBA and wondering what people have heard of them and how employers would view the degree. It’s accredited and a nonprofit, so it wouldn’t seem to have the stigma that University of Phoenix does… but I don’t know.

      At this point in my career, I’m seeing MBA required or preferred on nearly every job posting. I used to harbor dreams of going to a prestigious school for my MBA, but it’s just so darn expensive – and with a recent layoff and no prospects in sight due to corona (and lots of free time), an affordable, self-paced option sounds really appealing.

    8. Work-life unbalanced*

      We’ve been splitting the childcare for going on 10 weeks with a crawling baby, and we can only consistently each put in ~25 hours of work, still see each other, and regularly get a shower. I discussed it with my boss as soon as our company announced the leave policy, and I was told off the record after he discussed it with HR that if I formally requested it, it would be denied…even though not having childcare due to daycare closures is one of the covered reasons. Seems like, at least in our organization, they’re looking for every loophole and reason not to offer it. So I’m kinda just expecting it will hit me in the performance reviews, especially as in the only parent in my group without a stay at home partner. I hope you have better luck.

    9. Bex*

      I definitely think it’s a thing. BUT, at least in my company, it’s something they prefer to have in house because of confidentiality issues. In some cases, we’re working with other people’s data and the contract says that only full time employees have access. Other times it’s our proprietary data, but they still want the analysis done in house because there’s a concern that a consultant might also be working with a competitor.

  2. NYC Nonprofit*

    Hi everyone. Would love some advice on how to deal with performance issues / potential firing during COVID-19, especially when your agency offers essential services to marginalized populations.

    We have an employee who has struggled in her role for some time. She should have been let go much sooner, but that’s on us and it’s too late now. She was finally put on a PIP a handful of months ago, which was due to end… right when quarantine started.

    Now, we haven’t felt ethically comfortable firing her. She is the main caregiver for young children in her family. However, she also still isn’t able to perform adequately in her role yet is paid more than the 2 other staff members now stretching themselves to cover for her. As I also mentioned, our agency provides an essential service to a marginalized population, so it isn’t as simple as being able to just accept a decrease in productivity. If we decrease our productivity, it impacts many more individuals across the country and their ability to weather COVID-19 too.

    We don’t have the resources to hire additional staff, and have looked for something – anything – she could do instead, but it doesn’t change the coverage problem of her essential responsibilities getting shifted onto her teammates. What would you do in this situation? Any advice is appreciated.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s unfortunate your company didn’t handle this sooner. Can you let her go with severance? It’s really unfair to your other employees to tolerate this, especially if they have to cover for her. What was said to her when her PIP ended? Anything? Was she informed she hadn’t met its terms or told she passed with flying colors?

      1. BRR*

        I think this is probably the best choice. It might be hard to think of giving a generous severance right now but I would think of it as short-term pain long-term gain. How much is she costing in lost productivity and burning out the other two staff members? Factor in the other two staff are likely resentful and will be looking to leave if they can.

        It’s much easier to say since I’m not involved (not that I don’t feel incredibly awful), but when you’re on a PIP (speaking unfortunately from experience), you should do two things: 1) Look at what’s wrong and do whatever you can to address it and 2) look for a new job because even if you pass the PIP there’s often lasting memories.

        *This is assuming you’ve been 100% clear on what needs to be worked on, have provided ongoing feedback, and been 100% clear her job is on the line.

        1. Lucy McGillicuddy*

          And not just burning out the other 2 staff members but possibly making them actively resentful of the company.

      1. juliebulie*

        Especially since she is paid more than the other two people. Cutting her loose should free up some resources to hire a new person.

        1. Flyleaf*

          If you do fire her, you should think about temporarily splitting some (sizable) fraction of her pay with the two remaining employees. That will take away some of the sting of being overworked. Make sure they understand that this is temporary, until someone new is hired.

    2. CheeryO*

      You need to fire her, or you’re going to end up losing the two who are covering for her. It’s unfortunate that she’s the main caregiver for her family, but that shouldn’t be a factor in the decision.

      1. Flyleaf*

        The person who failed to manage this situation will need to step up and take over some/most of the work of the departing employee. This is a failure of management, and the pain should be felt by management, not the remaining employees.

    3. sequined histories*

      If you’re not going to fire her right now, what about paying her less and the other two people more going forward—at least until you do replace her with someone else?

      1. BRR*

        I was thinking something along the same lines. Reduction in pay but could you also adjustment her duties? If you do that, you need to pay the other people more or something so they don’t think she’s just getting a lighter workload.

    4. Joy*

      Oof. It sounds to me like you need to fire her. You’ve explored all the other options, it’s unfair to your other staff and hurting your organization.

      I guess I would ask the question — she clearly has to go, at some point. (A) how long can you continue to last without letting her go and (b) how long do you think it’s going to continue to feel ethically tricky to fire someone? I’m guessing (a) is a lot shorter than (b), which means it doesn’t matter how much you drag your feet, it’s going to suck firing her eventually no matter what, and all you’ll have accomplished in the meantime is to continue to overwork your other staff and underserve your clients.

    5. HR in the city*

      This is always a tough situation. I wasn’t sure but was she ever told her PIP had ended? You said it was due to end so I am guessing that conversation with her was never had due to COVID- 19. You say you don’t have resources to hire additional staff but I can guarantee you that the other team members that have to cover for this employee are probably heading towards burn out and will look for other opportunities so you will be even more stretched. It probably won’t happen right now that those people will leave but if it continues than they will definitely leave. Also, if it were me I’d be pissed that someone that wasn’t pulling her weight was making more money than me. So you could have problems with that if the other employees find out. I would continue to document how she isn’t pulling her weight and you do need to fire her as soon as possible. It will get worse if you don’t. It really sucks because we all have hearts but you are sending the message that you won’t do anything about her performance since to her she made it past the PIP.

    6. Rebecca*

      You need to cut her loose. If the people who are covering for her don’t know she’s getting paid more, when they find out, look out – you’re likely to lose them and have her still on the payroll. And quite frankly, I suspect they’re already annoyed with this whole situation, and don’t want to speak out, because really, who wants to complain when unemployment is so high and jobs are so insecure right now?

      I’d have a conversation with her today, as in, you aren’t performing up to par in areas A, B, and C, and coworkers 1 and 2 are covering your work. Be very clear that this will be the final warning, and stick to it. It’s so frustrating as someone who has had to cover for people like this when companies allow this to go on and on.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      You’ve already accepted a decrease in productivity. If you fire her, will your productivity fall much further? If you do fire her, can you replace the position or do you have a hard stop hiring freeze? Can you reallocate funds — say pay her for part time and shift some of her salary to the two who are productive? Can you furlough her, continue to pay her health insurance benefit, and reallocate the freed up $?

    8. JohannaCabal*

      As someone who was once fired in the midst of buying a home (requiring my father-in-law to co-sign the mortgage loan), I can still say she should be let go. One person’s circumstances can’t dictate hiring/firing, in my opinion.

      I also feel for the two staff members covering for her as I’m sure their being stretched thin is taking them away from their families.

      As far as the work providing an essential service to marginalized populations, I think it makes it more imperative to fire her. The people served by your organization are not receiving optimal service. Plus, what if you got someone on board who twice as productive as she is/was?

      I’ve worked with similar populations before and it was sad to see how many within these populations are accustomed to receiving bad service, almost an expectation.

    9. Sue*

      I think it’s almost a kindness to let her go now while there are still a couple of months (guaranteed) left with the supplemental unemployment benefits rather than in a couple of months when that may be gone. It sounds like it’s a foregone conclusion that she needs to be replaced for all the reasons others here have mentioned.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        This is a good point. An unemployed person right now may be in a better position than an unemployed person in Aug/Sep. And yes, the two other staff will bolt the second they can if you demonstrate that poor performance/higher pay is fine with you because she’s a single mother. It’s the breadwinner argument that kept/keeps women’s pay low for decades. It’s not a respectable reason not to fire her. It’s a compassionate thought, but you can’t carry people based on their personal situations and expect the rest of your staff to eat it.

      2. MissBliss*

        Wouldn’t the supplemental UI only benefit her if she was laid off due to COVID? I’m not sure she would even qualify for regular unemployment in my state, if she was fired for cause.

        1. WellRed*

          But they have the ability to just kindly let her go and she can collect. Also, being let go for not being able to do the job isn’t necessarily “fired for cause.” That’s more in line with, stealing or something.

          1. MissBliss*

            If they let her go, wouldn’t that mean they couldn’t fill her position or else it wouldn’t qualify as a layoff and UI would become an issue again? Also, I didn’t know that about fired for cause! Thanks :)

    10. gsa*

      “We don’t have the resources to hire additional staff…”

      Is that still true if you fire her, which is what it sounds like needs to happen?

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, is there a hiring freeze so if you lose her, you can’t hire someone else? Happened at my work.

    11. Anon Anon*

      I think you have to let her go, but I would be sure to provide her with a generous severance package. I would consider that the price for dragging your heels on this one. Because letting her go during a pandemic with 20%+ unemployment really stinks. But, as she’s been on a PIP and has not shown the improvement needed, then you can’t keep her. And dragging this out longer will just make things even worse. Especially as we have no idea how bad things are truly going to get. Perhaps we’ve past the worst of it, perhaps the worst is yet to come.

    12. Bella*

      I think it’s important to know what the PIP conversation looked like – did it just not get discussed at all?

      Would it be possible to reinstate the PIP along with a very honest conversation? Like… here are our issues, we haven’t seen improvement and your teammates are currently covering you but this isn’t going to be sustainable going forward. If we can’t hit x, y, z in the next 6 weeks, then we’re going to have to let you go. Even though we already did a PIP with you and the results weren’t met, bc of the current situation we wanted to give you this additional time to try to improve, or to give you time to plan ahead.

      At least this gives her a head’s up on what’s coming down the pipeline.

    13. revueller*

      If you’re worried about her being able to provide for her kids, lay her off so she can still collect unemployment benefits. If you can give a decent reference for her based on areas where she has strengths, offer her that so she can find another position faster.

      Your employees are already covering her essential responsibilities, so it sounds like it wouldn’t be a huge change in their workload to let her go. Best of luck with this, and thank you for doing your best to be compassionate.

    14. Nacho*

      With unemployment payments at record highs, I don’t think it’s any more unethical to fire somebody now than any other time.

      1. Fibchopkin*

        Be careful with this though, it depends on the state and the wording/reasoning of the firing. Under the COVID 19 emergency provisions, if a person is fired because they could not do the job, they can still get unemployment benefits, but if the employer’s wording indicates that the employee broke a reasonable rule or acted against the business’s expectations or interests, then the person getting fired would likely be denied.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No. If you’re fired for not being able to do the job, you are still eligible in most jurisdictions. Unemployment is very much for people who are hired and just can’t do the job.

    15. ...*

      Honestly I would just fire her. She can’t do the role and has been on a PIP, plus its effecting the other employees and possibly the service you provide. Unemployment insurance and social programs are there for her family and hopefully she can get them in a speedy manner. Is there any reason you would keep her other than feeling bad for her?

    16. NYC Nonprofit*

      Thank you everyone for your replies. To answer some questions:

      1. Her job pre-COVID, and therefore her PIP, involved some core tasks / goals that quarantine made impossible. So she didn’t meet the goals of her PIP, but technically it would have been impossible for her to because of the restrictions that came with coronavirus. As some of you guessed, I never had a conversation with her about this, which is completely on me. The agency was in triage mode, HR told me I couldn’t do anything about the PIP or firing her at the time, and this was left unaddressed.

      2. There is a hiring freeze, yes, so if we lost her, we would NOT be able to replace her.

      What we’ve been doing in the meantime is restructuring job duties across the team to decrease focus on the regions she covers and better leverage other regions, which has helped somewhat with the coverage issue (in the sense that other team members aren’t covering HER work specifically, but are still doing a disproportionate amount of extra work compared to her). But this is tricky as our agency has a tendency to rapidly switch / change our minds about growth strategies, so at some point her areas will need coverage that she won’t be able to provide.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Her job pre-COVID, and therefore her PIP, involved some core tasks / goals that quarantine made impossible. So she didn’t meet the goals of her PIP, but technically it would have been impossible for her to because of the restrictions that came with coronavirus.

        Ahhhh. So now I see why you’re feeling uneasy with letting her go right now. It’s not that she didn’t make an effort to fix her problem areas, she just can’t right now because of the coronavirus. It isn’t fair to let someone go for not improving on their PIP when they don’t have the opportunity to do so through no fault of their own.

        Then you have the hiring freeze to contend with. If you let her go now, you won’t be able to fill her role at all and her colleagues will be stuck with all of her work on top of the work they’re already doing. It would be further punishing them, which you don’t want to do, but not letting go your problem employee is probably also not doing much for morale. This truly is a rock and hard place situation.

        I like the suggestion from someone above that you could reduce her salary moving forward (with ample notice of the reduction) since you’ve reduced her workload, but I would add that you should consider advocating with your higher ups to give your other two employees a cash bonus for all of their hard work. That may help improve morale by showing them that you value their contribution and understand how unfair the workload distribution is right now. Once things recover a bit in your organization and region and your underperformer can go back to do the parts of her job that the virus shut down, put her back on a PIP for four to six weeks and advise that if you still don’t see improvement, she’s gone.

    17. Middle Manager*

      I feel like I could have written this. I inherited a really poor performing employee that my office had just let basically do no work for years. I’ve been actively trying to let her go for awhile now. Her PIP was timed out from our annual reviews at the start of the year to end literally the week of the stay at home order. Now I’m at a loss. I finally had some buy in on terminating her and I think it’s evaporated because with the hiring freeze everyone is scared we’ll just lose the position long term. It’s so frustrating.

      Not really helping probably, but commiserating with you.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison had a column on this, I dug out the link and will post it. April 7.

    19. DEJ*

      I tried to post the link to the column that Allison wrote for The Cut in April on this topic earlier today but it got caught in moderation, but she said that you ‘don’t fire someone in the mist of a pandemic – and remove their access to health care! – if you can at all avoid it.’

      Personally, I don’t disagree with what others said about it affecting the other employees, and at the end of this she still may need to be let go, but you also have the ‘how did our company treat people during a pandemic’ angle that you have to navigate as well.

      1. NYC Nonprofit*

        Yes, I remember that post and that’s a lot of where this question was coming from! To be honest, in light of Alison’s post, I was surprised to see the first responses almost unanimously agreeing that we need to fire her, but I do understand that having it necessarily burdensome to the other employees can quickly change the ethics and people’s feelings about the situation (which is why I’m asking for advice).

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Cut her pay and give the other 2 raises that offset the cut, since they’re doing the work she couldn’t. Then at least theoretically the people involved are being appropriately compensated for their actual contributions.

  3. Occasionally Angry Scientist*

    I just found something out that I’m not happy about, and I was wondering how you all would handle this! I work in a laboratory doing work for a large pharma company, Company A. Myself, and most of the analysts in my lab, are permanent contractors; we work for Company B, but we are full time, permanent employees of company B and we have time off and benefits through them. We’re compensated well. A few of us have been here 5+ years. Our managers that handle most day-to-day operations work for company A, and our manager for Company B is pretty hands off and only really handles HR stuff-pay, benefits, time off, discipline, etc. 

    Recently (pre-covid) two of the people one step above us (from Company A) have decided to move on. There are two positions available that would be one step above where we are now as analysts in our little group. All of us were excited about possibly competing for the jobs at Company A, and we all have the experience and knowledge of our jobs to do it. Positions don’t come open often in our group. Then, our manager from Company A told us that she is allowed to fill these two positions, but there is a hiring freeze and she is only allowed to fill them with people who are already employees of company A, even if they don’t have experience with exactly what we do. Even though we’ve been here every day for the last 5 years and practically run the labs, we’re still considered “external.”

    Needless to say, a lot of us are angry at the situation, and the manger from company A doesn’t say anything besides “I don’t make the rules.” Maybe I’m blowing this up and it won’t be bad, but I’m already having a lot of anxiety about how it’s going to be to take direction from someone who has less experience than I do, just because they’re already internal, and those positions should belong to one of my coworkers or myself. I’m afraid that I’m going to say something to get me in trouble. Does anyone have any advice, on the situation, or how to handle the new person coming in?

    1. lost academic*

      I’d be frustrated too, but based on the hiring freeze you DO know about and the contract between A and B you may not, there could be other obstacles to hiring people from your company directly. We have similar agreements with some of our clients that have substantial financial penalties for targeting our staff for direct employment.

      Focus on the reality that that person who moves into that position is not doing so with any knowledge or control over the situation with your company’s staff and they deserve your professionalism and support – put yourself in their shoes to help with perspective. And remember that taking direction and supervision from people less experienced than you is fairly common and an important skill to master.

      1. Occasionally Angry Scientist*

        Thank you for your reply. I know that we don’t have any issues with the penalties, some different contracting companies do but we have nothing like that in place. Thank you for the advice! I think framing it that way that they don’t have control over the situation might help.

        1. angstrom*

          Right. Imagine being told “Your new assignment is to manage a bunch of long-term contractors who know a lot more about the work than you do. Good luck!”
          If you can be positive, be helpful, and build some trust, you can build a good working relationship with the new manager. You can help them help you.
          It’ll sound more positive and professional if suggestions are framed as “We’ve found that the lab runs better if….” or I think it would help our productivity if…”, not “I want….” or “We always do …..”

      2. Amanda*

        Thank you for this. I was once recruited to lead a team where, unknown to me, most had competed for the manager’s position. While I was experienced in the industry, it wasn’t in precisely the job I’d deal with, so they all saw themselves as more experienced than me (which was fair in a couple cases). There was so much resentment on the team, they truly made my job a nightmare the first few months, and one was ultimately laid off his behavior got so bad.

        Angry Scientist, please actively try to give your new coworkers a chance. They might surprise you, even without direct experience in your field. Also, as sad as it is that this opportunity may be lost to you, lots of companies are in hiring freezes right now, and the reality is you are external workers at this point and they do not pay your salary. It’s probably true your manager can’t buck this particular rule, since the company could be facing lay offs as it is, and the money may simply not be there for new hires.

        1. irene adler*

          Yes, at least give new manager a chance before deciding they are not going to work out. They are probably wondering how they will succeed, given you folks possess the knowledge on how things are done in the lab. That can be intimidating.

          In fact, because new manager is from company A, they might bring something new to the department. Maybe they have some ‘pull’ with the higher-ups at company A such that they could do some advocating for company B workers. Like positioning long-term company B employees for hiring in company A. Or bringing additional perks to your dept.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          It’s probably true your manager can’t buck this particular rule, since the company could be facing lay offs as it is, and the money may simply not be there for new hires.

          This. The Company A people who will be given these roles may already be making the same amount of money as the positions currently have budgeted, so your manager wouldn’t necessarily have to give them raises – that could be another factor. If these positions are a step up for you Company B analysts, they’d either have to pay you more (which they probably can’t afford to do right now) or have you perform the job at your current salary, which you might be fine with – for now. Ultimately though, people get restless when they’re underpaid relative to their job duties and title, so some of your colleagues, if given the job with no raise, would be looking to move on if pay increases aren’t on the table within a year.

    2. RandomPoster*

      You have nothing to gain by being anything less than perfectly professional to your new manager.

      Yes, the situation sucks. But this is the price your company pays for having contractors rather than employees in your role – their hands are tied for internal moves (because they’re not technically internal).

    3. juliebulie*

      I can understand your resentment, but you sound really hostile towards this “new person” which means that everything they will do is going to piss you off and you will be miserable all the time. At least try to reserve judgement for now and assume that they won’t be totally incompetent. They might respect your experience and be happy not to have to micromanage you.

      Also, knowing as you now do that Company A might never hire you, ask yourself if you want to continue working there. If you do, then you have to learn to live with your resentment or better yet, let it go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Chiming in to say this new person did not create this crazy policy but they are hoping and praying that you remember it’s not their fault.

        In the past I found that new bosses pretty much left me alone because I knew my job and I did it to the best of my ability each day. It was not even really having a boss unless I needed something. You actually may end up with unexpected advantages by throwing support in for the new boss.

        1. Amanda*

          One point though. I agree this would be a crazy policy at any other point in the last decade.

          But right now, so many companies are having trouble just staying open, and lay offs are a reality across so many industries, that I think looking for internal transfers only is pretty sensible. It helps protect the jobs and company’s ability to pay the salaries of people already working for them, and that’s fair. Tough as it is, OP’s salary doesn’t come from Company A, so hiring them right now would be an extra expense they can’t take on.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Perhaps the company wasn’t thinking this through. Is there someone who you have a relationship with that you could talk to frankly about this. Perhaps say ” I understand that you only want internal candidates. However, I’m worried that someone who doesn’t work with this area may have a hard time adjusting and that it could actually put us behind because they would have to learn a lot. Since we have been working her le we have the knowledge of the team already. So you think you could see about opening up the application for us contracted workers?
      That’s rough. Years ago a family member was in similar situation. She worked at BIG BLUE computer company as a switchboard operator, but she wasnt actually their employee, she worked for an agency. Then BigBlue closed switchboard and moved it to other secretaries and people off site. She wasn’t able to apply for any internal positions for the same work, even though she had worked there for years, knew alotnof people nothing the organization and others. Also didn’t get any of the perks of Big Blue either.

      Good luck

      1. RandomPoster*

        There are a lot of reasons why they would allow internal moves but not external hiring that go beyond institutional knowledge.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Then, our manager from Company A told us that she is allowed to fill these two positions, but there is a hiring freeze and she is only allowed to fill them with people who are already employees of company A, even if they don’t have experience with exactly what we do.

        There is a hiring freeze. During the COVID pandemic, Company A is trying to reduce its costs by not not filling empty positions. They are allowing internal hires/transfers because the person transferring is not an additional employee of company A. Who knows, they may even be doing this to avoid layoffs.

        Occasionally Angry Scientist* you are not an employee of Company A. I understand your disappointment, but this seems like a budgetary decision during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. The person who made the decision and the rules that you would be an external hire is not doing it to take an opportunity away from you. Your manager from Company A is simply following the rules her higher up provided. Again I understand your disappointment, but this is certainly not personal and you need to act professional whenever your new boss arrives.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          They are allowing internal hires/transfers because the person transferring is not an additional employee of company A.

          And, most likely, so they can keep them at the same pay rate.

    5. Bex*

      In my experience, hiring freezes are often followed by eliminating positions and/or layoffs. So from Company A’s perspective, if they move a current employee into this job, then they have either a new open job that they can move someone else into, or a position they can eliminate to reduce budget. And it’s highly likely that they will shuffle people around until they open up a job they can eliminate, so that they kick the layoff can down the road.
      If they move someone from Company B into the Company A job, then they don’t get to backfill that opening with a Company A employee.
      It’s absolutely frustrating for you and your team, but I can see why they are making the call to try to protect jobs during a massive global crisis.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I was thinking this. I worked for a contractor for a big organization. If we lost a contract (anywhere) the first step was to shuffle people into existing openings first and then open it up to anyone else. I got shuffled twice during my 4ish years there, realized how unstable they were, and left for good. It may be way more about those kinds of internal practices than trying to stick it to a partner company. You don’t necessarily know what’s going on with contracts outside your department and Company A is really under no obligation to tell you. I hope that you get a good person and that future opportunities arise. To that end, I’d also be thinking about what the manager could maybe do for you someday and work to be a team player/help onboard the new person so that you can be considered for future roles in their company. Much better to have a manager appreciate you than remember how sullen you were.

    6. Lora*

      See, 10 years ago I would have said, “ah, Lilly/AMRI” but so many do the same these days.

      It sucks. It all depends on how the politics of the company work – at some of my previous employers, the hiring manager calls the shots and they’re playing stupid games. At others, they’re sort of making an excuse because the VP’s nephew wants a job. At some, there’s layoffs or re-orgs in another division and they’re trying to retain people who are generally good though not perfect fits for the particular roles they have available – GSK and Novartis have been doing this recently. Sometimes the people who would be laid off actually have some critical knowledge they don’t want going to the competition across the street, and other departments are encouraged to use those people to fill open positions first, a way of trying to avoid the consequences of a senior management decision (which may in fact be a good overall decision that gets into “oh, wait…” when you get into the weeds).

      I don’t think you can necessarily do anything other than be incredibly outstanding at what you do and demonstrate value going far above and beyond. They may still hire the VP’s nephew. It’s hard not to take it personally, but it really isn’t personal. Most companies don’t give a crap about contractors. They just don’t. They can get another tomorrow, that’s the point. You have to go waaaaayyyy above and beyond the limits of the job to be hired in, it helps to be valuable to more than one department or boss so there are multiple managers who would be sad to lose you – and the chances of one of them liking you enough and having enough political pull to hire you are better, the more you work with. That’s not always possible though.

      If there’s some particular skill that you have that they don’t know about or may have forgotten, might be helpful to remind them, especially if you have any experience in, say, virology, antigenicity, vector design, plaque counts or cytokine assays. That’s hot right now anyway because of the new gene therapies, even pre-covid. Everyone is trying to pivot, some more skillfully than others…

      The new people who do get hired, nothing to do but wait and see. Even if they are the VP’s nephew, they might be nice anyway.

    7. Indy Dem*

      The thing that I don’t understand is how they are able to promote from within during a hiring freeze. I’m in a large bio-tech, and a hiring freeze also means internal – because if someone move jobs, there will be an empty, non-fillable hole somewhere.

      1. RandomPoster*

        Yes, but they’re presumably filling an opening that otherwise wouldn’t be filled. There’s still an open position at the company, but presumably at a lower level that can more likely be pieces together by coworkers.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup. And a lot of internal transfers IME either come with no salary bump or a small one, so from a financial standpoint, they break even or close to it.

  4. Sunset Maple*

    Does anyone else have a set point where they just kinda… don’t GAF about their jobs anymore? (In general, not due to the pandemic.)

    I’m noticing a pattern in that a few years into a job, I completely lose my usual Type A drive, and become totally indifferent to everything. I get easily annoyed by office politics, I lose all patience for mistakes and minor setbacks, and my actual tasks seem so dull that my brain feels like fuzz. Nothing has actually changed to cause this mental shift, other than the usual escalation of “more skilled employees get more work piled on” that happens to everyone.

    Maybe part of it is the fact that I’ve never gotten a promotion or a substantial raise, because I’m in tech and I’m constantly scrabbling/fighting to come back from downsizing? Every job I’ve ever gotten has been a “this will have to do, I need to put food on the table” situation.

    Thoughts/musings/similar experiences?

    1. Niniel*

      I get this way too, and I am not sure exactly why. I am in a creative field, and I think that the typical 9-5 schedule isn’t conducive to creative work. I’ve worked from home the past 2 months, and I’ve found out that while WFH is great, a global pandemic is also not good for creative work. So I can’t win.

    2. Anon for this*

      I’ve been this way for most of my career. I determined along the way it’s because I fundamentally do not like what I do, as in: I do not like my career. At all. Could this be you?

      For me, I have accepted this, that I will never be a 10 year or 20 year employee anywhere. 5 years is usually when I get like you, can’t stand the office anymore, and move on.

      I have never switched careers – though I have looked at it long and hard multiple times – because I am in the STEM industries, I am paid very, very well and I decided that I can put up with all of this for the paycheck. But that is me. I’m fulfilled by my work. I just don’t like it. But loving my work and losing my pay was not a trade off I wanted to make.

      So, I encourage you to not look at the job or the office, but to look at the work that you do and decide if you want to do something else. A career change may be in order.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to say nearly this exact thing. I could have written the original comment. In fact, I was going through some old notes from 2013, when I got hired at Exjob, and I found one where I noted everything I didn’t like about my new job, at about nine or ten months in. Every bit of it was admin stuff, or stuff adjacent to being an admin. I loved the report work, but the other just made me feel tired.

        If I were doing work that played to my strengths without the admin part, I would probably have been a lot happier. I’m willing to bet the job wouldn’t have changed out from under me, and my efforts to learn more wouldn’t have been dismissed.

    3. HatBeing*

      I feel this too. I’m in people operations and have been brought in in my last two positions to do a culture overhaul. This takes time, I’ve accomplished it, but it seems like no one *really* wants to participate in activities. Which is fine! But I end up just doing HR admin stuff, which I don’t mind as a foil to creative thinking and planning, but gets tiresome. I’m tired of people’s petty complaints and I just don’t care enough to build up the culture, which is especially bad considering. But if no one else cares, how can I?

      Well that turned into a rant! But you are not alone, I’ve never gotten a promotion either and feel you.

      1. Krabby*

        Haha, I think I’m a little bit of this and the comment by @Anon for this.

        I’m in HR and I come in bright eyed and bushy tailed. Then, over the first three years, I get to know everyone (good!), people start to trust me (great!), then people start coming to me for guidance (amazing!), then that morphs into a constant stream of interruptions/requests/demands, and I start to resent everyone. So I leave.

        Makes me think maybe HR isn’t actually as good of a fit as I first thought.

        1. LRR*

          This so resonates with how I’m feeling today! I’m going back to the office starting Monday, been working from home since March, and a completely dreading it. I love my job, what I do and the people I work with, but when you are the go to person and everyone comes to you for everything, it just burns me out. I was thinking this morning, and that is the extract pattern I’ve had in every job since college. It got me thinking maybe I need to think about a different industry or different kind of role.

      2. Professional Merchandiser*

        I can relate. I’ve been doing what I do for the last 20 something years and at this particular company for nearly nine. Not only have they restructured my job where I no longer do what I was hired for, but they stopped giving raises after I was hired. (I didn’t realize until I had been here five years and didn’t receive a raise. ) I stayed on because they do pay holidays vacation and sick pay. Merchandising companies usually don’t. Besides, i figured I wouldn’t be stilll be working at my age. As someone the other day so elegantly phrased it, my give-a-damn broke. So I just go through the motions and I feel slightly guilty about that because that’s not the kind of worker I want to be.

    4. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Most definitely. With my current (furloughed) job, I got to a point where I realized that I wasn’t going to get my promised raise for everything I do (especially now with the economic situation), so I just kind of go through the motions.

      It’s not that I’d do my job poorly and I would still go above and beyond because that’s just the kind of worker I am (the month before I got furloughed, I think I took a total of 4 or 5 lunch breaks because I knew stuff needed to get done), but I’d reached a point where I really stopped caring and just accepted that this is the way it is and supporting my family is more important than being fulfilled at work.

    5. Miraculous Ladybug*

      Do you have ownership over the work you’re doing, in general? Something pinged in there for me, the “never gotten a promotion or a substantial raise,” and I wonder if that’s contributing. If you’re not being really recognized for years (formally, that is), given more ownership, more decision-making, more power to shape what you actually work on day-to-day and what you prioritize–well, for me that’s the first thing that contributes to all those feelings you described above! For me, I know need to have ownership and some power over my work, or else I feel like a task machine into which people plug requests and I give them work. I can get by like that for a while, but over time I get annoyed and irritable and stop even caring about work I once tried really hard on.

    6. Green Goose*

      I do notice when there is a longer time between promotions or raises that I start to feel this way too. I think that’s pretty normal, especially in this day and age when people switch jobs relatively often.

    7. Also Anon for this*

      I started freelancing full-time for this very reason. I’ve found I’m much happier and more motivated when it’s my own business.

    8. HR in the city*

      Yes especially in the past two years with my psycho boss. My job has gone from one where I felt valued and worked hard at (my hard work actually got me a promotion) to one where I am constantly going I don’t get paid enough to do something about this. I have seen lots of greed and it seems that some people seem to think they have a blank check. We are a governmental organization and I am a tax payer so it just pisses me off all around. To me it seems that every time I speak up about something I am told by my boss that I am wrong. Okay well I am sorry that I am following policy. My boss also thinks that we are fairly compensated but compared to the rest of the county our wages actually fall behind. Even compared to other counties we are under compensated. I don’t feel valued and that my boss just sees me as a glorified secretary. I am only staying in the job through March of next year because I want to be vested in the retirement plan. I am almost there so it would be stupid for me to quit now. My boss seems to think that I won’t go anywhere but she will be surprised.

    9. Retail not Retail*

      I think the first time someone in the management chain – or someones – drops the ball or hurts you, a bit of that burnout starts.

      You still work hard but once you see what they care about vs what they tell you to do, you disengage and don’t beat yourself up if something is literally impossible.

      That happened like quarterly in retail. One was upon transferring to a new store. The old store worked me full time hours for 9 months but classified me as a student. Union said hours trump classification, stores say no. The sh!t eating grin on new management’s faces. I spent that summer SCROUNGING for shifts.

      At my current job it was probably the first time we went gung ho on a project in a restricted area only to not finish and not be able to return for like 2 weeks. And the first time we undid something.

    10. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I feel for you, and I’m am in this headspace now. It took 25 years to get there, and since then I’ve struggled with a career shift. It’s fair to say my issues are more about the function itself – talent acquisition, beentheredonethat – and the overall BS of Corporate America. I was recently laid off and I’m just not very enthusiastic about another role in recruiting.

      My situation is different than yours, though. I really loved what I did from Day One, and busted my ass for several years to build and grow my skills and visibility in the field and function. I was active in professional associations, regularly invited to speak at events or work in think tanks. I advanced to Director-level roles, setting policy and establishing processes/practices/operations, building team and org structure, etc. I saw great success for a long while, and piled up some accolades.

      About 10 years ago, I began to feel like Sisyphus. Every day I pushed the same rock uphill – compliance issues, policy pushback from hiring partners who ‘knew recruiting’ better than I did, endless meetings, 60 hour weeks, team building issues that never bothered me before, typical and atypical office politics, candidate behavior beyond the pale, new company visions, shared service models that flipped everything I did on its side – and every day that damn rock rolled back downhill. I began to dislike, then actively dread, what I used to enjoy. It was more circumstantial in some cases, more organic in others. People noticed I was more and more detached, and going to work became a chore.

      Last year I took a job with a smaller company, thinking I could get back to what I loved most about staffing. For a while I did, and I enjoyed rolling up my sleeves along with my team. But I soon began to feel ‘same stuff, different day.’ The issues weren’t exactly the same because of company size, structure, and mission, but they were all still there. I had fewer resources to address those issues, and saw after the fact how staffing was not well respected as a function. At least in F100 companies, there was more budget for solutions and tools. In a privately held company, I had to fight to get a reasonable budget even reviewed; I got about half of what I needed to do what I was hired to do. When we recently had a layoff, I wasn’t too upset. But I’m not sure about my next move. I’m 60-ish and still have many productive years ahead of me, but I don’t know if I can handle another 15 years as Sisyphus.

      I don’t know if it helps knowing that burnout strikes most of us at some point, but you are not alone in feeling a bit lost. It sounds so easy but it’s hard: knowing what you really want to do is a good first step. Answer that, and the rest is a little bit easier to plan and manage.

    11. eshrai*

      I am like this as well. I was four years in my last position and that is a record for me. I loved the work, but got fed up with the office drama and politics and left. I really miss the work, but not the poor management. I got tired of having work piled on like you said because I was higher performing, but then everyone else getting credit for my work. I work in a great team now with a pretty great manager, similar work, but not the same. I find I don’t like the work and am already getting bored with it. Looking for a change.

    12. Cendol*

      Yes! The indifference, the annoyance of office politics, losing my cool over things that are honestly quite petty–you’re describing me. I literally just got a well-meaning email from a colleague, and my reaction was to huff and roll my eyes (internally, of course, but I hate even having jerk-y thoughts). I made it five years in my last job before reaching that point, but I seem to have reached it again in my current one…less than a year in. And I love my boss and my coworkers! It’s the most flexible job I’ve ever had! Maybe, as Anon for this wrote below, I just don’t like my field anymore.

      Not sure where to go from here, because I can’t imagine finding another job with the same level of compensation, especially in The Bad Times and with my skillset. (Until Liam Neeson, I have no very particular set of skills.)

    13. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, I feel the same, but I am very stuck here. I’m just doing this to stay alive. I am now grateful that at least I’m not expendable, even if I hate what I do. So there’s that.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, my pattern seems to be around the ten year mark.
      So I start thinking about, “I can’t change them, I can only change ME” and trying to figure out what I will do differently.

      Most times I can start with the fact that I gave too much. I will revisit this lesson until I learn it, that’s what I tell myself.
      Next, I think about setting expectations higher for my employer. I don’t expect enough of them. Even though I have made major improvements here, I can still learn more.
      I do think that the longer we stay with a place, the more that is expected from us and more is taken for granted about what we do. But this has been going on for eons. I remember a story about my great aunt. She retired before I was born! They had to hire three people to replace her. The company was surprised.

      My punchline is the next time you aim to go to a new place, aim HIGHER. Take on more, insist on being given more, etc. and expect to be paid accordingly. Very seldom do people stop us and say, “Hey I see you are doing a great job day after day and I want to reward you for that!” This almost never happens. Seek the good projects, seek the good companies, it’s okay to be picky about some things. Take a look at the good news for today and look at the poster who commented about their new job and the way the company made concessions. Pick wisely and strategically, with forethought– I mean that is what companies do with us employees… why not?

    15. Minocho*

      I have been running into the same issue with drive my current job – which is my favorite job thus far, though I’ve had others that were good. I have been experiencing the same slackening of drive, starting late in my third year of employment.

      I have been allowing it up to a certain point. I figure there are natural ebbs and flows in drive and ambition, and the lead in to this current job was an terribly stressful time that included an extremely toxic lead into my first firing, the death of a beloved pet and two family members, as well as the stress of proving myself in a new position all required a large amount of drive. But I also, when I get negative rather than a little apathetic, stop and take conscious stock of the position and my emotional state to determine if there’s a real problem.

      I’ve had some extremely toxic workplaces, teams, managers and coworkers in the past, and I have experienced first hand the insidious way continued toxicity starts to become a new “normal” that can be harmful in new positions. Therefore I set up “canary in the mine” scenarios, rules for signs that it’s time to get out. One was the removal of administrative support with no corresponding understanding that this would lead to a drop in high productivity demands. An easy one is any repeated irregularities with pay, or disregard for legal requirements. One I have decided is crucial for me is a belief that the management team displays integrity and truthfulness. If any of these scenarios I have decided on are triggered, my personal rule is to sit down and analyze the position and my current mental health to determine if it’s time to trigger a job search.

      Of course, the lack of drive in a position may be such a condition for examination of your satisfaction with your current position for you. I think my ability to be a good employee and live my best life was improved once I realized I needed to understand my own needs and lifetime goals, and not just accept my parents’ or society’s expectations. Part of that was understanding we all prioritize things differently.

      I think in your current situation, it might be a good idea to really take stock of what you want. Did you fall into your field, and maybe you want to be somewhere else? What would your perfect job be? What do you want, not just need, in a job? If you are in a position where you can coast for a while and keep earning, maybe you continue to not GAF for this job, and just use the income to find your dream and pursue it. Maybe it’s education or certifications that let you change / update / progress your career. Maybe it’s simply jumping into a job search. I have been that person jumping from position to position to pay the rent – and I have had the luxury of being able to be a little picky. The latter is preferred, but it’s not always possible.

      My job satisfaction improved once I understood what I wanted from my employment, and also what sort of work culture I preferred. I work best under a certain amount of stress. I prefer ownership over my work and processes, with access to context to ensure I make good decisions over specific instructions without context in all of those processes. I require the ability to trust in the integrity of my manager. Being able to recognize my work style and preferences and being able to express it clearly to prospective employees helps both I and the prospective employee ensure we’re a good fit.

      A big deal is making sure I research companies, looking for issues that indicate these requirements are lacking in the position. Also, I have to go into interviews with questions ready to make sure that at times I lead the conversation, so I can examine the position and environment. It’s not about getting an offer, it’s about finding the right fit. I’ve also decided places wouldn’t be a fit for me from the questions they asked.

      I hope you find what you need. I’m also in tech, and I’ve made many missteps. But I’ve also made some progress. There’s something out there for you. It can be really hard to find, but I believe it’s there!

    16. Lucy P*

      After weeks away, I still give too much of AF. Walked in the door Monday, the people who were working (elite staff) couldn’t bother to put a new garbage bag in the can in the kitchen. (I guess I should be grateful that they bothered to take the trash out.) A/C was off and it was over 80 deg inside (turns out there was a power outage). I kicked myself for the smallest of mistakes because I thought the ramifications would be further reaching. I’m sighing all the time and don’t know why.

    17. MissBookworm*

      I’ve been at that point for a few years now, but it has definitely gotten worse since the pandemic. I found out a few years ago that one of my coworkers was making over $15k more than me with no prior experience in the position or even in the industry. I managed to get my company to give me a massive raise and bonus to even things, but it was a huge blow to my self-esteem. Then there are the other reasons: being assigned too many clients, having to help out our other department when they had a backlog but not giving us any when our department does, office politics, etc. So many things over the last years!

      I’ve also been very vocal about not being ready to be a manager because I still feel insecure in my own work and like I don’t know enough to be a manager… but now I’m a supervisor; it didn’t bother me when I was first promoted a year ago because it was just a title change (there was no one for me to supervise), but as of March I now have two direct reports. I really hate it because I barely have a handle on my own workload and now they’ve tossed me supervising and training two people on top of it without taking anything away. Plus the pandemic means I’m doing in-office tasks for my direct reports (both have good reasons for why they can’t go into the office) so it’s just too much.

      I’ve been job hunting off and on for a few years with no real bites (nothing that was worth it money-wise). Plus I like my vacation time (22 days!) and I know it’s unlikely that I’ll find that anywhere else.

    18. LRR*

      Yes, 100 percent feeling this right now. Part of it I think is burn out because of the “more skilled employees get more work piled on” thing you mention, and that has me thinking how does one escape that? I’m good at what I do, so they want me to lead others but still do all the technical work I do now, that’s stressful enough. And it has me realizing I want to keep doing the technical work and not get into management.
      Just this morning I was thinking maybe I need to think about some changes, and this thread helps me feel it’s not just me at least who feels this way.

    19. Diahann Carroll*

      This has happened to me at every single job I’ve ever been in, with these feelings taking years to present in some cases and months in others (e.g., I knew I wanted out of my last company around the six month mark – I was so bored). I think part of it was burnout related in my earlier days – I worked in really fast-paced, high stress industries (law and insurance) with long hours and little to no appreciation or advancement opportunity in the former industry, so I was killing myself just to get by. That’s no way to live and it saps your energy over time.

      I also never took time between jobs to just rest – couldn’t afford to. So I would just leap into something new, and the cycle would begin again. Add onto the fact that none of this was truly what I wanted to be doing with my life (I wanted to write and edit full time, no matter what genre or in what field), and that led to me just checking out after awhile. I’m a little over a year into my new role where I write and edit all day, and I’m still really digging this job. I’m not bored, I get to be creative, and I get to help drive my company’s sales strategies, so it’s a cool job to have. Now, I just need to get back to publishing my fiction on the side and I’ll truly be living the dream.

    20. Product Person*

      100% yes! I don’t know what it is, I just went from super driven to almost forgetting to join an all hands meeting IN WHICH I RECEIVED AN AWARD. And that happened several times before the pandemic too.

      So it’s not even about not having my work recognized, it’s like I get to a point where I just don’t care anymore (maybe because there is a lot of talk about ambitious goals but very little happening in practice, I don’t know).

      Is it possible that like with technology, there is the hype cycle from Gartner happening with us, and maybe after the peak of inflated expectations we face the trough of disillusionment before reaching the plateau of productivity? I feel like I give up and leave before reaching that last phase :-).

  5. Imaginary Number*

    My company is going through several rounds of layoffs. Do you think it’s okay to apply for open positions with other companies which I would probably only pursue should the layoff affect me?

    1. Betrayed Librarian*

      It’s totally okay to apply for jobs when your company is contemplating layoffs. It’s okay to apply for jobs anytime you want, but it’s especially important if your company is in financial trouble and may not be able to keep paying you.

      Good luck, I hope you’re not affected by the layoffs!

      1. irene adler*

        I concur.
        In fact, you might discover a position that you like better than your current job.

    2. Alex*

      It’s always OK to apply for jobs. An application is not a commitment! It just means that you think you might be interested.

    3. LTL*

      It sounds like you’re wondering if it’s fair for you to apply for jobs when you don’t know you’d accept an offer. But that’s always the case in job searching. There’s a number of reasons you might choose not to accept an offer, and some of those are in the company’s control (boss is a micromanager) and some aren’t (life circumstances, competing offers, etc.). Applying for jobs to ensure your financial security sounds like a great idea.

    4. Amy Sly*

      If they could realistically make an offer that you would take, apply. That’s the difference between you and the gal from the previous post — she admits that she has no intention of taking a job no matter what they offer.

    5. OperaArt*

      It’s fine to look for another job at any time. It’s almost imperative to be looking at other jobs when your company is going to be experiencing lay offs, even if you don’t take another job.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I’d apply under the general idea that if I left maybe someone else would stay who would be otherwise laid off. I might end up in a better place, and the person replacing me might be very happy to remain there and remain working. Win/win.

    7. Fikly*

      Just like they are not obliged to hire anyone who applies, you are not obliged to accept an offer.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      TL;DR – Yes!

      Longer answer: I presume you have survived multiple rounds of layoffs already, but the layoffs are still ongoing (I infer). Even if you survive this round of layoffs what’s next? more uncertainty?

      From personal experience I was laid off as part of a “mass lay off in multiple rounds”; higher-ups made the decision as on paper I was just a “xyz analyst” but they hadn’t accounted for any institutional knowledge, things I did outside of the ‘xyz’ role etc which were legion.

      I left before the official layoff, they struggled, were too proud to ask me for help even though I’d offered..

      If you get an offer for an acceptable position in another company I’d suggest you give serious consideration to taking it.

  6. Betrayed Librarian*

    I wrote in last week asking about collective action without a union, because my library is planning to open to the public soon and they’re not giving staff specifics about what protections we’ll be given.

    This is not a good update.

    Shortly after I posted last week, I had a phone conversation with my library director. Her tone for the entire conversation was essentially “of course whatever protection we decide to provide will be enough and it’s silly to talk about additional protection or to push for more details.” Basically, we’ll be given the bare minimum of protection required by law and nobody has any intention of going beyond that.

    We’re running out of cleaning supplies and the vendors we’re allowed to buy from are having supply issues. People are talking about making their own protective shields out of laminating film because there’s no other way for us to get them. And they’re not planning to bring security guards back for the reopening. Given the news stories about customer service personnel who have been assaulted or shot for asking customers to follow safety protocols, the staff I’ve talked to don’t feel safe with that decision.

    I’m still talking to coworkers about whether or not it makes sense to keep pushing for more, but I feel so hopeless right now.

    None of the other libraries in my area are doing this much better, since we’re all being constricted by the same state laws. So now I’m having to face the possibility that protecting myself and my family might mean giving up the career I’ve been working toward and pouring my heart into for nearly twenty years.

    I feel just as scared and angry and betrayed as I felt last week, but now I’m heartbroken on top of it.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I’m so sorry.

      Please do consider unionizing, or at least organizing an action or strike. If you’re at the point where you’re seriously considering giving up your career…the stakes are already high and you deserve the options that an action like a strike could afford you. Obviously I can’t promise jack about the effectiveness of the strike or your coworkers’ interest in participating, but this is the kind of situation that collective action is made for. Your bosses are not protecting your safety at work; you have the right to demand basic safety.

      1. HiringMgr2*

        What protections has your library committed to providing? What items do you want or would expect, that your library is refusing to provide?

    2. WellRed*

      personally, I’d be tempted to reach out to the local news about whether the library will be safe to open (including for its patrons) without enough protections in place.

      1. Betrayed Librarian*

        I’ve considered it. Customers deserve to know that we can’t keep them safe right now. But I’m not sure what that could mean in terms of job security and I can’t afford to blow up my bridges until I have another source of income.

          1. Anon Anon*

            I’d do it anonymously. I did that once myself in my 20’s, when I worked for a large academic medical center that was making specific budget cuts that was putting students at risk. I just left a message on answering machine and the TV station never tried to track me down. They just did their own research and a few weeks later I saw a story on the news.

      2. Nita*

        Yes. Also, GoFundMe. I hate that I don’t have a better suggestion, but it has worked here in NYC when our government was sleeping on the job instead of getting hospital staff proper PPE. There were a lot of GoFundMe pages springing up gathering funds to buy PPE in bulk, and many people donating. I can’t speak for all of them, but I knew a couple were legit through friends of friends, and that they did start sending protective equipment to hospitals weeks before hospital management finally did.

        Also, I’m sorry. This is ridiculous. Wishing you health and safety, and sending much appreciation for your work.

      3. What’s with Today, today?*

        News Director here, I would tell you there isn’t anything I can do if they are within the parameters of the law. I hate to sound insensitive, and this will, but millions of us are in the same boat. I actually commented last week on your post that I doubted there was much you could do.

        1. Circe*

          Similar situation to What’s with Today, today?As long as they are following the law, and following other similar orgs in your surrounding area, I doubt there’s much that can change by taking it to the news.

          The reality is that there are SO many people right now who haven’t had the luxury to work from home. And now that people are starting to re-open, they’re facing the same questions of safety that others have been dealing with for the past two months. It’s a strange divide. At the end of the day, it will probably contribute to a larger divide between white collar and working class jobs, people who have the ‘privilege’ of working from home and protecting their health. It’s worrying to think about.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            That’s right, and to be blunt, in a red state (I’m in Texas) going to the media, especially talking about a strike, is going to backfire. The public will not be sympathetic.

            1. pancakes*

              You only report on stories you think the general public in your area will find sympathetic? That is a terribly emotionally and intellectually stunted way to decide what’s newsworthy.

              1. Indy Dem*

                I didn’t read it as it wouldn’t be reported on, I read it as the public wouldn’t be behind a unionization/strike by librarians due to safety concerns over COVID. Recently a red state governor had to ask his state’s residents not to go after/antagonize someone who is wearing a mask. So, WWT,T’s concerns aren’t farfetched.

                1. pancakes*

                  Why exactly is the public’s support for unions or strikes the determining factor there? There was no public support for Stonewall when it happened. There wasnt widespread public support for 40 hour workweeks or public school integration, either.

              2. What’s with Today, today?*

                That’s not at all what I said. I said it would backfire with the public in a red state. And the public would know about the situation because it was reported. I’m being honest with the OP. I’ve been in this business for 18 years in a red state, I’m speaking from a place of experience. Not to mention, the attitudes I’m currently seeing from our audience (which I also posted outraged me, but you missed that). Have a good weekend.

                1. pancakes*

                  It sounds like your in the infotainment business rather than the journalism business. I’m not questioning the attitudes you’re seeing from your local audience; I’m questioning your comfort with giving them content that doesn’t challenge them. I don’t for one moment doubt that it’s easier to give them what they’re accustomed to than it is to consider rocking the boat for even a moment.

                2. BethDH*

                  I get what you’re saying and I’m not sure why the other responder doesn’t (can’t seem to reply to them …) — at least I think what you’re saying is that “going to the news” is generally proposed as a way of putting pressure on businesses because the public will presumably be outraged once they know about it. The news outlet doesn’t provide the pressure, just the audience. In this case, news reporting might get the OP the opposite of the response they want.

        2. Betrayed Librarian*

          That’s the other piece I was worried about in going to the media. With so many people in my state pushing back on protective measures, I don’t know that it will generate the level of public outcry that would be needed to get the politicians to change their minds.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            To be clear, I agree with you. I’ve felt pretty outraged by the views of our audience during all this. And if I get called a fear monger one more time…

            Best of luck to you, I certainly didn’t want to sound harsh, just truthful.

            1. Betrayed Librarian*

              You didn’t sound harsh. I really appreciate you adding your perspective.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Could you go to the press? How is the general public and news outlets in your city treating the pandemic? Perhaps you could find a sympathetic news person?

      You don’t have to be a union to strike. If others are feeling this way too I would strongly push back. Especially if it’s a large majority of your co workers. They can’t fire all of you and they can’t open if you strike.

    4. Anon For This*

      If this is a public library, I recommend you to contact your elected representative. (Where I live it would be my county supervisor – YMMV.) Elected officials and the press can often get public institutions to do things they should have been doing anyway.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, and I think it’s especially worthy of attention that they’re planning on re-opening without the security guards that are usually there. That’s pretty wild. Good luck, Betrayed Librarian.

      2. Fikly*

        Unfortunately, they’re in a red state. It’s highly unlikely this will lead to positive results because red state.

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      As a fellow librarian, I’m gutted to read this. Not to provide more negativity — probably the last thing needed now — but I want to caution people against thinking of a union as an automatic solution. My public library is unionized and our union has been literally invisible. When it was initially announced we would stay open during COVID-19, the union meekly sold us out and essentially just said, “Okay, that’s fine.” They’ve been of no support to us whatsoever during our now nearly three-month closure, other than to remind us by text to complete the census.

      I second the recommendations to go to the media – anonymously is better than nothing. Good luck.

      1. pancakes*

        The solution to this is to strengthen the union / get better leadership in rather than discourage people from unionizing in the first place.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          Oh, I agree 100 percent. The problem is that literally no one knows how to do this.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            I’d love to love unions, but mine has been so mostly ineffective…albeit this is a new low.

            1. pancakes*

              Why not get involved in leadership yourself? I’m going to link to a good read on this subject that I stumbled across last week.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          While I agree with you, that is not an instant thing. It takes huge amounts of time to restructure a union and make it stronger/effective. The employees need help now, not three years from now. The union became weak for a reason, and usually these reasons take a bit to fix. (My husband’s degree was in labor relations, we used to chat about unions a lot.)

          OP, does your library have a Friends group or other support group that does fund raising? Can they raise funds for protective equipment?
          As far as dealing with rough people, can the local police make random checks of your library if you guys request it?
          Does your library belong to an area group of libraries? If yes can you all rally together?

          1. pancakes*

            Of course it’s not an instant thing, but there will probably never be a better time than right now to start the process.

        3. Overeducated*

          Maybe, but it’s important to know that public employee unions are a) limited by their collective bargaining agreements and b) limited by law in ways a lot of private sector unions aren’t (e.g. illegal to strike, can’t negotiate pay). A very strong union could take an action that goes beyond those limits, like recent teachers’ strikes, but if you’re doing something like that you won’t win in court so you’d BETTER be confident you’ll win public opinion.

    6. AngelicGamer, the Legally Blind Peep*

      You’re not going to like my advice but here it is. All of the libraries that are connected to yours, including yours, need to strike. You need to go to the local news, anonymously, and tell them exactly what is happening. Find the local busybody or someone in the community on your library board and tell them your concerns for them to spread it without your name. They are not going to protect you. You need to protect you. Also, report them to OSHA. Today. If they try to fire you, I believe you might be protected by the whistle blower act (IANAL) but today. After you read this comment.

      Good luck and please stay safe. My library is a safe place for me and others in the community. If this was happening in my community, I would want to know so I could help.

      P.S. – If you can, create a NextDoor account that is not connected to you, your email, or your name. Become the busybody spreading the news if nothing else.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      This may not be a good or useful idea, and I’m just theorizing out loud, but do you have the ability to organize patrons of the library to support you in your efforts? They should be concerned about their own safety in the library too, and may be willing to help you put pressure on the powers that be by writing letters, signing petitions, etc.

    8. hermit crab*

      I’m so sorry to hear about this. I have been thinking of you this week as my own library gears up for a partial reopening. (I have a non-library day job, but work circulation part-time on the weekends.) Our management is being really cautious and thoughtful about the safety of staff and patrons, and I just wish I could fold you into our system somehow.

  7. Neosmom*

    This week’s frustrations – co-workers still walking past my “reception” desk carrying their masks in their hands (even after they have been at work for hours). Since my employer has not invested in clear shielding of any kind, I ran a #3 laminating pocket (8.5″ x 11″) through the laminating machine and used a 3-hole punch to make a shield that will hang on my face from my eyeglasses to provide additional protection.

    My general manager saw it and asked where I got it. I told him I made it. He then told me the company is looking into purchasing personal face shields. I would be happy with consequences for employees who do not follow our masking protocols.

    1. Remote HealthWorker*

      Yeah. I work at a hospital and the response is prettyuch the same. Ppe is locked away. People in no ppe are lauded as “tough” and “hereos” meanwhile those of us trying to protect each other are disciplined.

    2. What’s with Today, today?*

      Well, our company’s insurance provider has decided the pandemic is over. Teletherapy (son’s speech) will no longer be approved after June 11. I guess the world keeps on spinning.

  8. August*

    Any tips on how to get through the period between “I’m done, I need to get out of this job” and “I finally found the perfect new job, my last day here is X”?

    I’ve known my current job is a bad fit since I first started, but teleworking has been both a blessing and a curse. There’s less face time, but now I get to listen to my team be condescending to me over the phone instead, AND I know have lots of isolation time to overthink/worry about things endlessly. I live alone, and my usual outlets (yoga, calls with friends/family, walks) can only do so much. I’m spending so much time being depressed about how things are going, and I’m not sure how to just stop worrying about what my coworkers think of me/how my performance is/if I’m even worth a better job/etc.

    1. lost academic*

      I struggle with this, I think we all do, but I repeat to myself that everything I do is something I am personally doing, and I take that with me wherever I go next, so I focus on trying to make sure I am always the kind of person and professional that I want to be. Behaviors are easy to slide into the more we use them.

    2. Rosalita*

      My husband and my friends were vital. I needed a space to scream/yell/write it out then I needed a space where I left that frustration behind. This was super important. As much as I needed to get it out I also had to have a space where it didnt interfere. There were a scary few months before I set boundaries where I likely should have gotten help but didnt. Setting the boundaries helped it wasnt easy to set them but it did help mentally clear things up. Good luck.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Try to reframe. Go from “working for Employer X” to “working for August’s resume and up coming interviews”. Try to figure out what you can do today that would look great on a resume or be food for conversation in an interview.

    4. Needingabreak*

      Just wanted to say that I’m in a similar position and I so so so feel you. Started a role that I knew was a bad fit from jump. Ultimately had to accept the offer because I had a personal emergency during the interviewing process (with no other options lined up) and needed the income and insurance ASAP.

      Was genuinely hoping to be wrong about the role, but my gut instinct was right! Been actively searching for a new job since I started. Things are far worse now due to COVID, and I want to quit so bad but I’m still digging my way out of the debt brought on by the personal emergency, and haven’t quite built up the financial reserve to leave without having another position lined up.

      Like you a lot of my personal outlets like yoga, talking to friends/family/partner and regular checkins with my therapist haven’t been as useful as they’ve been in the past.

      I’ve been doing a bit of reframing and distancing and also found an affordable career coach who has helped breathe new life and perspective into my search! Don’t know if this is feasible/accessible to you right now but having an extra head to help you plan and secure the position you want might help you get through the day to day at the shitty job.

      Sending lots of luck and love your way!

    5. Underpaid Chocolate Fan*

      I am in a similar spot right now. My job is laughably paid, especially considering the insane rents in my city, and I have become increasingly disillusioned with this job due to:
      – rampant sexism in my industry (my current employer refused to fire a serial offender until someone actually used the words “I would like to file an official complaint of sexual harrassment”)
      – extremely low pay with no COL increases ever
      – extremely poor priorities in communication (think weekly long mails about how great the company is doing, but never anything that would actually improve things for anyone below management)
      – tone-deaf “perk” offers (think “hey, we’re hosting seminar X and date Y on how to build a great stock portfolio!” when none of us have any money to spare for investing)
      – seriously employee-unfriendly policies hidden all over the place (like “only HR may provide references” and such)
      – lackluster Covid prevention measures, followed by laying off 95% of the office with a 2-hour warning. I have since been rehired for wfh, which our employer previously considered impossible.

      It has gotten to the point where I am 100% certain that I will leave this job by the end of the year. All I want is an apartment of my own and a pet or two and I can’t even afford that in this rotten job, and the fun parts of the work are no longer worth all this stress for me at age 30+. I am lucky in so far as I have a decent enough relationship with my parents. Last time I called them I explained the situation and asked them if they would be ok with me not just visiting for Christmas, but actually moving back in for a few months, in case I can’t find another job until then. They are, so that’s cool, even if moving would be a royal pain (we all live in Europe, but different countries).

      At this point, I have a three step plan:

      1) Spend the next six months aggressively job searching for something related, but at least slightly better paying (think along the lines of going from teapot quality control to teapot/chocolate mug/coffee can documentation). The goal here is to be able to afford my own apartment (and maybe a pet), so I can have a comfortable space to sort my shit out. Whatever happens, I am handing in my resignation before the year is out so I can disconnect from this job.

      2) Spend early 2021 doing some deep soul- and career-searching to find something that sounds a) financially satisfying (I don’t need six figures, just… again… own place, a pet or two, maybe a nice but budget-friendly two-week vacation every year), b) in line with my personal style as a worker (detail-oriented, adaptable but do not mind repetitiveness either, introverted and not very social but no Grinch), and c) morally and ethically acceptable (my industry is kind of infamous for how badly it treats its workers).

      3) Once I have decided on new career field, spend the next 3-5 years working on getting all required certifications, courses, degrees, etc. Use volunteering/internships to get experience.

      4) Switch to new job.

      So I am currently in phase 1. Here’s what’s helping me get through this:
      – frequently reminding myself that I am not a failure for having standards or wanting to have a liveable wage. Sometimes, I will actually look into the mirror and out loud say to myself: “It’s not shameful to feel underpaid if you can’t even afford your own place. You deserve so much better.”
      – frequently reminding myself that I am not alone with this, not even within my own company (we’ve been bleeding good people left and right for two years now and I’m starting to admire them for the coal mine canaries they are).
      – frequently reminding myself that “you have to have your life figured out by the time you’re 30” is essentially societal peer pressure and lines up with reality about as much as the flawless faces of movie stars on magazine covers.
      – taking it step by step and remining myself that slow progress is better than no progress (one week I update my résumé, next week I get in touch with previous “managers”/superiors to ask about willingness to be references, another week I practice interview skills, another week I update my interview wardrobe, etc.)

      It’s a difficult and exhausting process, but I take comfort in the fact that I have already taken the most important step: realizing that something needs to change and resolving to MAKE that change.

  9. Green Goose*

    I’m a manager who is about to go on leave. One of my direct reports over extends themselves, and says yes to too many projects (I’m not the only person that assigns them work). And they won’t mention that they are overwhelmed until it’s “too late” to help them/reassign work.

    I’ve talked with them about it multiple times, mentioned the issues with burnout and implored them to push back on projects but it keeps happening. I’m worried what will happen when I’m on leave because this employee is great and it would be a huge bummer to lose them. The person that will be managing them while I’m out will definitely not check if they are agreeing to more projects than they can handle or offer support if they bite off more than they can chew.

    Any advice?

    1. lost academic*

      Leave some guidance in writing about this and have a one on one with the replacement manager and probably also with your employee. Maybe for a time you can get them to get your review and/or approval of new projects to make sure they’re correctly assessing their time commitments and their choices there – if your leave is really imminent though that’ll probably have to wait.

    2. WellRed*

      If you were’t going on leave, but asking about this same situation, I’d advise treating it as a performance issue, because it kind of is, but it’s a bit late to do that. I do agree with the advice from lost academic.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep. I’d take it as a performance issue and I’d take the angle that properly managing their workload is part of their job. They may have the idea that playing the martyr makes them look like a good employee, so you need to make it clear that having honest communication with customers, setting realistic deadlines, and balancing their time is just as important as doing the “work.”

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Can you coordinate with whoever else assigns them work to limit the amount of work they assign? You’re asking the report to push back against multiple superiors, which seems a bit unfair.

      1. Needingabreak*

        +1 on this! As someone who HAS been actively trying to communicate to my supervisor what realistically can and can’t get done to avoid burnout, I have found it challenging to say no to others higher in the chain of command, because I feel as if I don’t have the authority to kill projects outright.

        My approach has been to tell boss/supervisor/other superiors that it might be possible to handle the requested project but that other projects may need to shift or that we might have to come to some sort of compromise or alternative solution.

      2. designbot*

        This. I am one of these people, and can tell you that for me what goes on behind the scenes is that I get burned out, talk to someone (my boss or grandboss), we agree on a course of action that involves me offloading projects. I assess my projects and determine that projects A and B can go to someone else, get them to agree to it, then approach the partner that supervises A and B, and he doesn’t take it well. I complete the handoff, but mysteriously keep getting emails pulling me back into the projects. On top of that, a different partner or even multiple partners will keep assuming availability and load me with more projects that just absolutely cannot be done by anyone else according to them. The clients have been sold on me, I need to be involved. Someone else can do the heavy lifting but I need to stay involved. I reluctantly agree, and then somewhere along the way they forget that I don’t have the time to supervise people in minute detail to do these projects and was just supposed to be a figurehead. So the workload creeps back up starting about two days after I offload.
        If this employee’s situation is anything like mine, it absolutely needs full buyin from everyone who assigns her work. They need to know that this is at a critical juncture and they are harming the team in ways they don’t intend but are very real when they go directly to this person, and their work assignments need to come through that person’s boss from now on.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        Seriously, it isn’t fair to the employee to have work coming at them from many different directions regardless of availability. Could you (and your temporary replacement) require that all work be assigned THROUGH YOU, so that it is coordinated and limited to a reasonable level?

        Then, when they are asked to do something more, they can still seem willing and cooperative while saying, “I’ll be glad to X, but it needs to go through my supervisor first.” (Then hotfoot it into your office to tell you whether they want you to agree or protect them.) Of course, they could still TRY to fend off some of the overload themself, but they know you have their back, and the other people can’t (or shouldn’t, anyway) criticize or berate them for not taking on more than they can do.

        You can presumably see the big picture better, to decide what should really take precedence over other tasks, which will also be better than what’s happening now.

        It’s like the ticket system in tech support. Everybody thinks their own issue is the most urgent; everybody knows Wakeen is the best; everybody wants to go directly to Wakeen; but they have to go through the system. So, Wakeen isn’t the bad guy for not helping all the people who try to bypass the system.

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

    So… it finally happened. Someone in my family entered my room/office and started talking when my mic was open. 25 people people heard my relative rant about how little I was helping at the moment. I think I need to make a “knock before enter” sign…

    1. Rebecca*

      I had my phone on speaker, participating in a conference call, and my elderly mother stomped into my work area loudly yelling about something. Everyone heard it. Ugh. I’m like, Mom, I’m working, on a call, and she just kept talking. “Well, all you’re doing is sitting there”. Yep. That’s what office workers do, Mom.

      1. Grace*

        My coworker’s dad started having a go at her for just sitting around all day and not contributing anything to the household. Office job.

        Right now, she’s the only person in the house who’s working (one parent for medical reasons, one parent as a carer) and he is apparently not coping well with it. Self-worth based around being a provider etc, she thinks.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Response to that: “Oh, so you’d rather I move out and stop supporting you financially? No? Because that’s the alternative.”

        2. Nesprin*

          My spouse is doing the same thing- it isn’t work unless you sweat, despite my current 80hr week, and I’m at home all day, so I should be cleaning more/doing laundry etc.
          My salary pays our living expenses and health insurance and his work has largely evaporated.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Wait, so you’re working tons, he’s working little, and you’re the one who should be cleaning more?!

          2. allathian*

            Sounds like he has unrealistic expectations. Like time to stop supporting his sorry ass and kick him to the street? WTF? I’d talk to a divorce lawyer.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      One of the counselors had their kids make signs for her “office” door. They were something like this:
      You can come in, but knock first
      You can come in but make it quick
      Quiet, don’t enter, in session/meeting.

      Maybe you could do something too.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      My husband and I have both been sent home – and both have to make calls for our jobs (we work opposite shifts). Our oldest child made a door knob hanger for us – hanger our means do not disturb, door closed just means we need quiet to concentrate but you can come it. Has worked amazingly well for us so far, and cost only one piece of thick cardboard. If you have any shipping boxes (from ordering anything online) around and some markers it’s not hard do to.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Ughh – that should read “hanger out.”

        The joys of posting on a mobile device.

        1. Indy Dem*

          The silly part of me thought having your children trained to respect the hanger out might work well for certain other co-ed non-work situations, if you know what I mean. :)

    4. Grits McGee*

      My poor coworker has 4 kids under the age of 10, and she has to work out of the same room as them. During our last team meeting every time she had to unmute her phone, there was a whole chorus of little voices chanting “Mommy get off the phoooooooone!”

        1. MayLou*

          I’m trying to figure out how this would work – three sets of triplets and a singleton? With a birth every year? Maybe two trips and a quad? Or just a lot of adoptions? I can’t imagine the chaos. Or the state of the poor mother’s body if she birthed them all!

      1. Artemesia*

        My grandkids 2 and 10 KNOW that Mom and Dad are WFH and when they can interrupt or not. It is trickier with the 2 year old of course, but even he knows what the jam is. Kids this age need to be taught the rules on this — cannot imagine allowing 4 kids to be chanting ‘get off the phone’ when I am on a conference call.

        1. Minnie*

          Just because you can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not normal. Human behavior varies quite a lot and not all children develop at the same rate.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Very true. The hanger I mentioned above works for my youngest very well. The oldest is capable of figuring things out without the hanger, but the visual cue was necessary for the younger one.

    5. Fabulous*

      Earlier this week I had just connected to a video call and my husband walked in the room in his boxers and started talking to me not realizing I was on a call. I thankfully didn’t have my video on yet for the call, but it was quite funny when he saw all the faces on my screen and leapt out of frame!

      1. Beatrice*

        This happened to one of my direct reports, except she had video on. She was mortified, we all had a little chuckle and moved on quickly, and it was fine, haha.

    6. Gazebo Slayer*

      Unless the relative is a small child, they have a lot of gall to yell at (and humiliate) you for doing your job, which is presumably part of their financial support. Maybe this is someone you should stop living with as soon as you get the chance.

    7. Lucy P*

      I was in the middle of interviewing candidates over the phone last week, when my puppy ran into my home office and started whining because my SO had stepped outside. If I shut the door or locked her in her crate, she would have just barked loudly.

    8. onebitcpu*

      I have a raspberry pi that I use as a media server, and I wired up some LED lights and a switch, so that I now have a “ON AIR” sign with blinking lights so that my wife doesn’t start talking when I’m in meetings. I also have the benefit of hearing people coming down the stairs, so I can usually mute first.

  11. periwinkle*

    Salesforce – some people have mentioned using their online training to get the base skills as a way to transition into a career developing, administering, and/or selling Salesforce.

    Could someone who has used the Salesforce resources to transition their career please describe how they did it? I’m curious about the possibilities. How did you decide which path was the best fit? How did you land the first job?

    1. 867-5309*

      I think it depends in part on what career you are transitioning from? Or what you do today?

      It also depends on the level: Those training resources will not give you the practical experience of selling to clients or all of the issues you’ll face when using them, and if you aren’t using Salesforce regularly, there’s a lot you will forget. If you are early in your career many organizations will be thrilled that you took the time to get the certifications (we are when we see HubSpot certifications) but they mean less the more senior the position.

    2. ACDC*

      Check out Trailhead, it’s a training platform offered from Salesforce with modules across a wide range of system uses. I get the program for free through work, so I’m not sure how much it would cost out of pocket but it’s an amazing tool to learn Salesforce. Trailhead also helps you work towards a Salesforce Admin certification.

      I got into Salesforce Admin work kind of by accident. I was working in an analytical/internal audit role at my company, but the team that manages our internal systems need help with QA on Salesforce changes. I transferred over to a Salesforce QA Analyst role and then learned the Admin work during slower times.

      1. KatieK*

        Trailhead is 100% free.

        They have other programs (like in person training and certification exams) that cost $

    3. KatieK*

      Agreed with 867-5309 – think about whether there’s anything that dovetails with your existing experience – like, if you’re an admin for other IT products, you could probably aim right for the Salesforce admin certification and them sell it in interviews/resume as having work experience in this area broadly and being new but certified in the Salesforce particulars.

      I think a cert alone with no related experience (or nothing to be spun as related) is not super valuable here. The only exception might be taking the development path, but if you have ZERO experience coding I think the self training resources don’t really cut it (they sure try to spin it as if they do, but at some point you need feedback on your own code!)

      Personally I have used Salesforce resources to make a major upgrade in my career, but it was through opportunistic timing in existing jobs. Nobody knew how to do something that needed to get done, I took a shot at learning to save the company $$$ on a consultant for something that seemed fairly basic. Then the next time I took on something a little more complex, etc, until I was promoted into a role (made for me) with that stuff I was already doing at its core. The Salesforce training resources were absolutely invaluable, but I’m a little wary of the idea that you can do it totally on your own, with no way to gain real experience – it just doesn’t make you marketable enough IMO.

      One last thought – you could try hooking up with a non profit that needs a volunteer for basic admin. I know some job training programs place their folks like that and it seems like a good idea to me.

      Good luck!

  12. CoderUnicorn*

    I’m struggling getting my work done and attending meetings due to my internet connection. There is nothing to really even because it’s the only internet in town. I feel bad because I keep dropping calls and meetings.

    Anybody found ways around bad internet connections?

    1. Neosmom*

      My spouse and I ran into this last week. We discovered we did not have enough bandwidth and were on an old plan. We upgraded with our service provider to a less expensive plan that quadrupled our bandwidth. Problem resolved, although we are a tiny bit miffed at the provider for not contacting us to offer us this change.

      Contact your provider and see if plan changes could help and save you some $.

    2. Let's Do This*

      If you are joining video calls, it might be helpful to join the video portion of the call through your computer and then join the audio portion of the call through your phone. Make sure your phone doesn’t use WiFi to place the call. That will limit the amount of data required for the video call.

      1. hermit crab*

        This is what my boss does. Sometimes his video freezes or goes out, but we can always hear him, which is the important part.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        Even if you’re not using video, it might be worth calling in on your phone, if you can. We’ve started doing a lot of Teams meetings, and if using the phone is an option for those, I’m not finding it. But in general, your phone is much less likely to have issues with dropping.

        1. Ranon*

          I’ve used teams as an external user to the organization and there was a definitely a phone option for me (although I don’t remember where it is, sorry!)- it even called my phone instead of making me type an eleven zillion digit number which was great

        2. Circe*

          You can download Teams as an app on your phone. :) Great alternative when you’re out and about

        3. moql*

          It is possible to do teams meetings by “phone” if you download the teams app. Then you can join the meeting and just not turn on the video.

    3. Generic Name*

      Have you checked into getting your speed increased through your provider? I get that they are the only game in town, but companies typically have different speeds for different prices. You could also look into satellite internet. My parents have it through Dish Network for their cabin, and I see ads for a company called “Hughes Net” that does satellite internet. It’s not crazy fast or anything, but if your current provider is really unreliable, they could be better.

    4. WellRed*

      I’ve in the past found issues with old equipment or not it not using 5G when it needed. have you ruled out all the possible technical issues? I do realize some rural areas just don’t have good service.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      Talk to the company. If this is new there could be a physical problem. We has squirrels chew on our cords last year, just enough to cause intermediate connection issues. Otherwise you might need to upgrade. I would talk with you company if they could offer you any extra compensation. Like say, my old plan worked fine for home usage and cost me $60month. Now I’m finding for work I really need to upgrade to be able to do the work that needs to be done. If I upgrade it’s going to cost me $50 more. Is there something the company can do to help me with this.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I had both a physical line issue AND a bad router. Fixing both finally fixed my slow, unreliable internet (mostly).

      2. Fikly*

        Squirrels did this to me too, in the past. The tree branches grew close enough to the lines, and they started chewing!

    6. Purt's Peas*

      Video calls–tbh I recommend going voice-only on your end, and requesting that meeting go voice-only.

      If your cell / data reception is any better, try using that or using your phone as a hotspot.

      And finally I would ensure that your boss knows about this issue. You might be able to come up with an accommodation like a more expensive plan that your work pays for, or going into an office that has better internet but allows you to remain isolated. Even if those kinds of accommodations aren’t an option, it will still get it on their radar that this is going on and that it needs solving.

    7. KatieK*

      Agree with all the commenters above, but if none of those work you could look into having your company get you a remote WiFi hotspot that connects to a cellular network. Google “mifi hotspot” for examples. Good luck!

    8. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

      Plugging into your modem with an ethernet cable will also help with the speed and stability of connection as compared to wifi.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Rural area here with spotty internet. The last meeting I attended was just people in this area, half of them shut off their video which made a difference. And the meeting leader also did some type of reboot or something and that made a difference. I can’t explain that, I can just say it helped for our setting.

    10. arjumand*

      This is happening to me frequently, which is pretty bad because I’m hosting these meetings (online teaching, oh joy).
      My phone data plan is on a different company than my ISP, so I set up a personal hotspot and I’ve got my USB cable/charger at the ready for when the WIFI drops out (yes I could use Bluetooth, except it drops out just as frequently as my WIFI). When it’s been a spotty morning, I just warn my students I could vanish at literally any time, and to just wait for me until I come back!
      Also, I don’t know if it’ll help, but today one of my most adorable students told me about a magical wire she connected to her router, and I, a veteran of a time when Ethernet was the only way we got online, asked myself why I hadn’t been using this? I hope I still have my ethernet cable.

    11. DrRat*

      I’ve WFH for year. At the beginning of the year, I had problems for months with my work computer system and phone system. After many hours wasted on trying to fix things, it turned out my ISP provider (ATT) had changed Internet plans on me without notifying me. They were charging me the same rate but my upload and download speeds were throttled to a ridiculous extent. I had to call them and get upgraded.

  13. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’m a tiny bit anxious right now as I mailed my company a check for health insurance and it hasn’t been cashed nor received.

    Long story short, when I was let go I was informed by our HR director (Janet) that if I opted to continue my health insurance, I’d have to pay out of pocket. I chose to have April & May deducted from my paycheck and would pay June/July/August month by month. Throughout April & May, I had asked Janet a few times if there was a way to make the payment online or come in to the office to drop it off as I was wary of mail being delivered in time. She didn’t answer any of those questions so in late April/early May I ordered checks, stamps, envelopes and mailed in the check. It was due 5/31. I haven’t seen the funds leave my account.

    Janet has a history of being non responsive to everyone, messing up employees benefits and never clearly communicating anything. I have only emailed as I feel calling would be inappropriate. 

    In hindsight I could have had multiple months deducted from my final paycheck but at the time, there was no guarantee for how long the benefits would be extended and I needed the cash more. And in late March I honestly thought things would have calmed down a bit by May. I feel really stupid. It’s now the last Friday of the month and worried sick that I lost my coverage.   

    Initially I had written this because I was coming so close to emailing th CEO to get her attention but I stopped myself. I get that it’s a pandemic and she might not have the answers but at least acknowledge?. At the job it was drilled in to us to constantly communicate with everyone and that any answer is better than no answer. I did contact my insurance directly but they said I’d have to speak to Janet directly as it is group insurance.

    1. Asenath*

      If I didn’t get a response by email over something as important as that, I’d phone. Is there some reason you say that would be inappropriate? I mean, you can be quite polite on the phone and request confirmation of what was agreed on your call by email. And if that didn’t work, I’d start going up the chain of command, beginning with whoever Janet reports to.

      1. I Love Llamas*

        Call and follow up with an email documenting the call. Rinse and repeat until she does her job. You need insurance.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        My default is email/chat, based on company culture I guess? No one really calls out of hte blue unless you chat with them first. But I don’t have access to the chat.

        1. WellRed*

          It’s not out of the blue if you’ve already tried to get in touch. Also, this is pretty big deal stuff.

    2. lost academic*

      No, this is a big deal. There’s lots of GOOD reasons why it hasn’t been cashed if getting the mail is at best a weekly affair, going to the bank, etc, but you’re in a terrible position if your benefits are cut off now and I would follow up till I got a real response.

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, my thought was that it would make sense until she waits for the last business day of the month to deposit checks instead of doing it piecemeal, but OP doesn’t know that and the consequences of it not getting deposited are bad. Call her!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Right, it’s the lack of communication that’s stressful. I can understand there’s no way to do it online or building will only allow certain people in but….tell me?

          Ironically, at my job that was the #1 thing drilled into us. Don’t ever stress clients out by being non responsive. Even if you don’t have an answer or things are taking time, TELL THEM THAT. Call clients 100x if you have to but communicate with them. But it’s only employees who are held to that standard.

      2. Mama Bear*

        You do NOT want to need insurance and not have insurance. If you have this in writing, cite it, include the check number and any additional documentation, and follow up. You may also want to call your insurance to be sure you’re not off the rolls already. Definitely take this up the food chain if she’s not responsive.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I’ll do that for the next check. I was going to do it for this one too but completely forgot.

          I called Insurance last night and they said whenever they receive the payment it’s backdated to the first of the month it’s received so I may still see terminated but not to worry as I’m covered for the month. But I was still told to confirm with HR.

          I really wish they had the option to pay online but they don’t.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I called her. She picked up and immediately said sorry for not getting back to me. She did say that she didn’t get the check but that they pay the insurance and that my check is a reimbursement to the company. She did say not to worry as my coverage will not end without me being fully aware. I’m going to email and make sure it’s in writing.

      1. pancakes*

        How exactly would you be made aware in this scenario? By her? By the insurance company? This is not a good enough answer.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      On another note, I’m still going to apply for Medicaid today so that I don’t have to worry about this for the coming months. Only reason I didn’t do this in the beginning of when I got laid off was because my high risk pregnancy center didn’t accept Medicaid but if I have to start over again at the tail end of my pregnancy, so be it.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        OT, but best of luck with your pregnancy, Potatoes. It can’t be easy having to worry about being laid off and dealing with insurance when you’re also 1) pregnant, 2) high-risk, and 3) dealing with a goshdarn PANDEMIC to boot. I found out I was pregnant right around the start of all this quarantine stuff, so I’m feeling a lot of solidarity with other folks in that position in this weird time.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Thanks Wanton. I found out about the pregnancy in December and due in August, so just a few more weeks left (!!!!!) and it’s been extremely stressful. Trying to stay positive and calm and not fall in to the self-pity mode, but there’s literally something new happening every week.

          Good luck with your pregnancy! Hopefully this all eases up soon and smooth sailing!

          1. valentine*

            Find out if you can pay the insurance directly and they can reimburse the company. The insurer will probably let you pay online/set up recurring payments and is more responsive than Janet. If not, see if you can set up recurring credit card payments with Janet. If no, ask the CEO if they will make an exception in either case and reassess post-pandemic.

            It seems calling Janet is the best way. I would make that my go-to.

            And look into financial aid for your local healthcare providers, especially hospitals. Start filling out forms so you have them ready to go in case Janet falls asleep at the wheel again

    5. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      In insurance, there is nearly always a 30 day grace period. Also, the company is paying their whole bill to the ins. co. and cashing your check is a separate thing.
      Call Janet. If she doesn’t answer, go up the food chain until you get an answer. Don’t forget to ask how this can be handled better next month.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely drag a boss or two into this. Tell the boss that you need advocacy/support on this one. Bosses are usually surprised and totally unaware that there is any difficulty.

  14. Niniel*

    So it’s looking like I may have to start going back to the office next week. I really am not looking forward to commuting again, and as an introvert I really haven’t missed being around other people. How much of this should I say when the inevitable question of “did you miss us?” comes up? Sure I missed them because my coworkers are fun and good people….but I did not miss the chaos of interruption every day.

    1. LGC*

      You answered your own question! Say it’s nice to see them. If they’re okay with jokes, you can say you also miss not having to put pants on, for example.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Agreed! The question is being asked in a light-hearted way (if it even is asked at all–this is very hypothetical at this point!) and a light-hearted answer like “of course!” is the right way to respond.

      2. Ms Fieryworth*

        “It’s so great to see you!” is sufficient. But if pressed, there’s always the “I actually found working from home really helped me focus on work, since it was just me in my introvert cave with no distractions, and it may take me a while to readjust to being back. Also, I really liked not having to wear shoes to work.”

    2. CTT*

      Agreed to say you missed them, but also if your office is like mine, people will be staying in their offices and not having a lot of long lingering conversations in the hallway.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Overthinking here?

      This is one of the times in life when lying is polite.

      “Yep. I sure did! So how are you doing?”
      Here you give it a brief nod, then you go into the question that redirects the conversation. They will never notice. I promise.

    4. allathian*

      “Not really, but since we’re back, it’s nice to see you.” Maybe that’s taking it a bit too literally, though.
      I don’t really miss the distractions of my office and I have a good setup for working at home. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be happy to see my coworkers in person again when the time comes. I’m just not missing them while we’re all WFH. Also, I’d rather not return to the office as long as extra precautions need to be taken. I’d rather be one of those WFH permanently until those requirements can be lifted.

  15. LGC*

    So, like a lot of people in CORONA TIME, I’ve newly gotten addicted to TikTok. And this has held up with my return to work. This morning I was looking at my For You Page and a post came up that said the secret to getting hired in a LOT of jobs (like even creative jobs) and surviving layoffs was…having a national government security clearance.

    I think this is completely bananas advice but I just want to make sure. Link below for banana pants, if you dare.

    1. hermit crab*

      Well, I mean, that is a great way to get hired for… jobs where you need a security clearance! But it’s not exactly a secret!!

    2. angstrom*

      A security clearance, like many certifications or licenses, can give you more options if you’re interested in jobs that require them. But I’ve seen the same “recession-proof” claims made about everything from Microsoft certifications to a CDL (commercial driver’s license).

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. But that also means you need to be willing to do that kind of work in the first place, which may or may not appeal to you. You cannot get this on your own. You need to be sponsored. I’d focus on other ways to be valuable to a company.

    3. juliebulie*

      I figured that out the last time I was unemployed, and excitedly set about to obtain a clearance, only to find that you can’t get one for yourself.

      So the “advice” isn’t very helpful.

    4. Gaia*

      I can promise him that security clearance would not help him in my field. No one would care and it would seem really out of touch to suggest it mattered.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “We need someone drawing bubbles to illustrate the Burma Shave campaign.”
        “Uh huh. I have a security clearance–I’m the one for this job.”

    5. Brownie*

      That’s… not wrong. Federal security clearances can signal to a potential employer that the employee is trustworthy, not a job-hopper (clearances can easily take over a year to get), and was valued enough by their current/past employer for said employer to spend the $10k+ to even do the investigation and paperwork for the clearance. It’s a fast way for a potential employer to judge if the candidate meets some of the normally-hidden desired qualities for a position without the potential employer having to do the work involved with good interview questions and techniques. For surviving layoffs it’s because the company has made a significant monetary investment in that clearance, usually for a job-related reason, and it’s possible to make a cleared person do uncleared work when the opposite is impossible.

      1. LGC*

        …I actually didn’t think of it like that! But it makes sense.

        The link didn’t show up yet, but…it was definitely something.

        1. Brownie*

          The thing is though, if it’s being used by a potential employer like that instead of meeting a requirement for an actual cleared job position, it does raise orange flags that need to be carefully looked at. Maybe it’s being used as a quick and dirty way of helping to screen candidates because they’ve just let most of their HR department go and have no one experienced in interviews/resume screening left so they’re using shortcuts. Maybe it’s because they’re looking at becoming a federal contractor in the next year and want someone on-staff who can jump in as soon as the contract ink is dry. Or maybe it’s because the potential employer really wants someone with inside knowledge of how things work and is going to try and lever that information out of the new employee. (The last is an actual thing, especially for anyone who’s involved with tech, science, or other espionage targets.) Whatever it is it’s big orange flags whenever a potential employer uses someone’s security clearance to fast-track their application.

      2. blackcat*

        Yes, my husband works somewhere where you need security clearances. By the time you reach SCI and get authorized to enough stuff, it’s impossible to get fired, even for really egregious stuff. It takes at least two years and a lot of $$$$ for the company to get you to that level. Replacing someone like that is hard.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      If you have a security clearance, it does help, and you should do what you can to keep it if you change jobs (e.g., if the new job doesn’t require it, see if you can get on their roster as an occasional contractor). But if you don’t have one now, you can’t get one in order to help your job search. The clearance is tied to the job.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        To be clear, I meant get on the old job’s roster as an occasional contractor…

    7. Lynn*

      I had a coworker who had a previous job that required security clearance. He ended up on the bench with his company until he got the security clearance. It took months. He still had to go into work every day — to do nothing. He ran out of netflix and then found another job.

      Security clearances take FOREVER and can be expensive in the interim. If you already have one and your employer has some discretion they might chose to keep you rather than have to go through the security clearance process again in a few months. But it is not a guarantee and you can’t just get one like an internet certification in a computer program.

      1. Brownie*

        Yup. The best case scenario is that someone will have uncleared work they can do while waiting for the clearance to come through. Worst case is sitting and reading a book all day because there’s no uncleared work and electronic devices aren’t allowed. I’ve heard of some fed agencies even looking at the cost/risk benefit analysis and saying “Your offer is contingent on getting a clearance, please hold for 6-18 months in your current job while we pay to have you investigated” because that’s cheaper for them than paying someone to sit there not working for those same months since there’s no uncleared work for the person to do in the position and the person may fail the investigation in the end anyways.

    8. Combinatorialist*

      That is bananas for jobs that don’t need a security clearance. It’s also bananas advice because it isn’t like you can just go to the store and get a security clearance, even if you wanted one.

    9. Fikly*

      Well, have you read about some of the bonkers assasination plans that the CIA came up with for Castro? I’d argue there was a lot of creativity needed there!

    10. ampersand*

      Just want to say that I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of jobs lately they require clearance! Today I found a tech writing job that would have been perfect except for the part where it required clearance. That you had to already have, because the company that was hiring wasn’t willing to sponsor their employee(s). So…this is a thing, and it’s surprised me. Most of the jobs where I’ve seen this requirement have been in the tech sector but it was unclear why security clearance would be necessary in these particular roles.

  16. Justin*

    I never gave an update on the racist dogwhistle email situation.

    I did email a (white) colleague who is the only person I trust at work. She’s a manager but not mine (and not the woman who sent it’s manager). She agreed with me and (unnecessarily) apologized for not speaking up immediately.

    She brought it up with her boss (the program director), who had co-signed the sentiment in the email chain. She was surprisingly open to hearing about it, which is good.


    She decided not to do anything about it because “too much time had passed” (a week!) and the woman who sent it “does a lot of work for marginalized groups.”

    All I have to say is, I’m glad I have one ally, and I’m sure Amy Cooper does a lot of work for marginalized groups, too, but…

    1. Blueberry*

      Well that’s unsatisfying, to say the least. I am really sorry they wussed out like that.

      (“Does a lot of work for marginalized groups” Whilst looking down on them? Oh yay!)

        1. Fikly*

          I was going to say, is this woman a European imperialist helping the poor savages in the new world?

    2. Betrayed Librarian*

      Ugh. I’m so sorry the manager with the power to do anything has decided not to. That’s awful. I don’t trust the claim that this person “does a lot for marginalized groups” if she can’t even be bothered to keep the racism out of her language repertoire.

        1. Justin*

          (Sorry, I won’t mention 45’s name if that gets the comments flagged. I was explaining she doesn’t actually do anything to help people.)

    3. Fiona*

      Thanks for this update. I’m glad one person at work has your back, but damn – that’s disappointing about the program director. This entire country needs such a deep education on racism. You can work for marginalized groups and be racist. You can be a white person married to a black person and be racist. There’s no get-out-of-racism-free card for any of us.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      This would tempt me to an anonymous ‘leave an article on their chair’. An article about how Amy Cooper’s a liberal but still a racist, with a handwritten, ‘bet Amy thinks “inner city” kids all listen to 50 cent’. Wish there was a virtual way to do this (though… there is a post office…).

      I regret that this is so common.

      1. Artemesia*

        Amy Cooper is reported to have harangued an ex about his voting for Obama — so not sure how ‘liberal’ she is. (or how accurate the report is)

      2. Justin*

        Oh man. I should send her a letter, but I have no printer and very identifiable handwriting, lol.

  17. Lucette Kensack*

    Last week I found out that I am being laid off, as of June 12. But my boss has been maneuvering to keep me on at 50% through the end of the year. I’m not sure if he’ll be successful, but if he is I’m also not sure if I should stay on.

    I’ve ben transparent with him that I would be looking for full-time work, so that’s not an issue. My concern is about money: severance, PTO payout, and unemployment benefits. My unemployment payment would be about 50% of my full-time salary, so my weekly pay would be about the same whether I kept working 20 hours a week or not. I wouldn’t get severance (which is fine; if I hadn’t found something by the end of the year I would get my severance then). I wouldn’t get PTO payout until I left (also fine with me). But I’m worried that my UI benefits would be based on my lower salary, and of course it’s impossible to get through to the unemployment office at the moment.

    The upside of course is that I wouldn’t start drawing unemployment until January (or maybe I’d get a FT job before then and wouldn’t need it at all), so if it takes a long time to get a job I’d have some income for longer.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Gaia*

      UI benefits are typically based on past pay (in my state it is a rolling 18 months ending 3 months before you first claim), not current pay. Although the lower pay will effect future claims.

      That said, if you are working part time, you won’t get the full UI benefits. You may want to look for a calculator that can tell you how much you would get taking into account partial payment from your job.

    2. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      For what it’s worth, UI benefits are calculated on wages you earned, so you’re right that they would take into consideration your lower wages that you’ll be paid. However, depending on your wages and your state, it might not matter. In my state, you actually don’t have to make a ton of money to cap out your weekly benefit rate. Which – isn’t great, of course, but it might not be a thing you need to worry about. I would recommend going to the unemployment website for your state, though, and reading the claimant handbook. That should give you an idea of what you can expect, and you would not be taking up phone time for a hypothetical situation in the future. It’s a place to start, anyway – there’s a fair amount you can learn on your own without calling in, if you’re willing to do a little legwork and spend a little time looking. Good luck!

    3. WellRed*

      Are you certain you will qualify for any unemployment? Being cut to part time in my state it’s not a given. I think it depends on a certain threshhold and you need to be below that.

    4. Lucette Kensack*

      I wasn’t clear: I’m concerned about unemployment benefits I could be collecting after I was eventually fully laid off (in January). I would not be eligible for unemployment benefits during the time that I was working 20 hours/week.

      My current unemployment benefits would be about 50% of my full-time earnings. (I worked with the unemployment insurance office earlier this year when my hours were reduced. I did not end up being eligible for any payments, but I do have the details about what my exact payments would be were I fully unemployed.) But if I become unemployed in January, after having worked 100% for the first three months of 2020, 75% for the second three months, and 50% for the last half of the year, my benefits would be less.

      1. WellRed*

        From what I recall, the benefits are based on an average of what you made over the previous four quarters (this may differ by state?) so yes, lower overall, but not solely based on the most recent salary (maybe you realize this. I’m not clear). And honestly, benefits cap out so low anyway…I think it’s better to keep working if you can (and want to). Bird in the hand, and all that. I am unclear on how your severance is being handled, but I assume you’ve factored any severance you do get into calculations for unemployment?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My personal preference is to stay working, so I’d take the 20 hours rather than no hours. There is no way to put a dollar value on having contacts and resources that you can see in person or at least have an active connection with them.
      I’d prefer the PT work over no work because it would help me set my schedule for my day and my week. Again, no dollar value on having some thing that keeps us moving about.

      But this is me. If you are satisfied that you can fill up your days and have contacts to help find the next job, etc then my ideas here are not necessary for you.

      1. 867-5309*

        I also think the adage is true – it’s easier to find a job when you have one. You’re entering a difficult job market… It doesn’t apply right now but IF there is any kind of rebound between now and January where masses of people are hired back, you mind find it harder to get a job then.

    6. Combinatorialist*

      It seems financially like it will be about the same either way. I personally would take the hours:
      – it is easier to find a job while employed (hopefully this isn’t as true right now, but it is normally)
      – you can’t job search for 40 hours a week, so having 20 hours filled with something productive would help me
      – it stretches out the amount of time you will be paid for
      – interacting with people for your job might trigger your boss or others to reach out with job leads. If you are laid off, you are more out of sight, out of mind

      But these factors might not be true for you

  18. Manon*

    After going to college halfway across the country, I’ve returned to my hometown due to COVID-related economic uncertainty. However, all of my job and internship experience is based in the city where I went to college, so although I’ve put my parent’s address on my resume I’m still somewhat worried that I will seem like a non-local candidate. In this circumstance would it be helpful to also list my high school just to emphasize that I do indeed live here?

    1. programmer*

      Do you have a local phone number? I found that helped a lot too. I was in a similar situation, and I never put my high school anywhere, but people immediately asked if I was from the area when they saw the area code of my cell phone number. I don’t think it’ll be too unusual since you went to college there, and people do go somewhere else for college but then come back to their hometown.

    2. Gaia*

      You should be fine as long as you have a local address. I’d also consider a brief (one-sentence) in your cover letter that you’ve returned to City.

    3. lost academic*

      People understand that your experience as a new grad comes usually from your college location. It’s also expected. Don’t give it another thought.

      1. Fikly*

        +1 Going to college and having experience near that college, and moving elsewhere is incredibly common.

    4. Laura H.*

      I’d go ahead and list your address on your resume where your contact info is. (I think that’s not out of norm, just less common nowadays?)

      High school stuff should be off at this stage (unless you’ve kept doing it thru college AND it adds in some way to your candidacy.)

      1. Laura H.*

        Sorry, that should probably read “AND/ or (really) adds in some way to your candidacy.”

    5. higheredrefugee*

      But one place you can put high school is your LinkedIn under Education or as a member of the Alumni Association or Booster Club as an activity. Do NOT include any other information – honors, activities, etc. – this is intended as a quick signal that you really are from the area for anyone who looks at your profile. It helped me when I moved back and someone from my hometown couldn’t place where they knew my name, but they connected the dots based on that single entry, even though we didn’t attend the same high school. And you looked smart enough to NOT include it on your resume, where the real estate is valuable, and needs to be laser focused relevant to your job search.

    6. Ruby314*

      You can also make mention of moving back to [hometown] after finishing school in your cover letter, in case you don’t want to have too much personal contact info. I always make sure to mention if/when I’m local for a local-only hire situation since when I was hiring my replacement there were so many non-local applicants that I had to weed through and toss out, but if they’d mentioned they were moving or had recently moved I wouldn’t have passed them over.

    7. MMB*

      As a hiring manager, I typically don’t pay any attention to the geographical location of previous jobs or schools (at least initially). I’m only interested in where you are now, I just glance briefly at the phone number and address provided you should be fine with a local phone number and/or address.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        When I’m doing the initial shift, I’m moving so far through a pile that I do the same, as MMB. You should be fine. If you want to be double sure, several folks have suggested one line in your cover letter and that should work fine.

    8. 867-5309*

      I’m hiring an entry level candidate right now and I don’t pay attention to the locations on their resume, but I do look at their location on LinkedIn. As others have said, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  19. hermit crab*

    Let’s talk about remote internships! I have a (paid) intern starting Monday. She is a current graduate student and will be with us for 11 weeks. The big nonprofit I work for is going to stay remote for at least most of that time, and she’s in a city where we don’t have an office anyway. I’m relatively new at my organization and this is the first time I’m managing an intern here.

    What are you planning for your remote interns? How can I keep her looped into stuff and help her meet a wide range of people without just inviting her to all of my interminable video calls? The organization is planning a few things, like virtual brownbag talks, but… all of their (and my) ideas keep coming back to MORE BORING ZOOM MEETINGS and I feel like we can do better!

    1. Hi there*

      Can you organize her work in such a way that she has to reach out to other people in your company for information? I wonder too if those requests/conversations could be supplemented with informational interviews so she gets a sense of different roles and how they work. You might need to give the staff a heads-up about the informational interview part if you thought it was a good idea.

      1. Raising an otter villiage*

        +1. My remote intern is leaving soon and my biggest regret is acting as too much of a middle man- he should have been reaching out to more people and getting info/resources independently from me.

      2. hermit crab*

        I really like the informational interview suggestion! In a normal summer, we do a lot of taking interns for coffee to casually talk about our work/experiences, but the informational interview approach might help give some more structure for a virtual environment.

    2. Nott the Brave*

      One great way I’ve found to keep interns looped in on stuff is by using them as a sounding board for brainstorming. Our team does a lot of creative work (see: writing, developing programing ideas) and bouncing them off an intern/getting suggestions is both a useful way for them to learn process as well as helping you!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’d suggest mixing up the zoom thing with old fashioned one on one phone calls, ideally ones where she can speak with people and ask candid questions about the work. One thing a colleague and I always do with our interns is take each of them, individually, out to coffee. It’s usually an hour or so and we let them ask anything they want to know about our field, away from the office. It allows us to be candid and them to be candid. So, we’re planning to mimic this experience with a scheduled phone call, away from the provided Zoom where people might feel like Big Brother is watching.

  20. blehg*

    What’s the balance right now with chasing staff for tasks? I’m struggling ethically with being too hard on people right now, given the general state of…. everything. But I also have several direct reports who are struggling to complete basic tasks (failing to turn in administrative things that are part of their job, “forgetting” about meetings, etc.) I’m also just getting tired of sending the same reminder emails every week, or texting staff who don’t show up to meetings (because I’m worried they’re ill or something.)

    In any other time, these combined actions would result in a PIP (and have resulted in the past!). I’ve reached out to my team as a whole and asked that they tell me if they need extra time or space, and have reached out to my staff specifically. I’ve provided coaching verbally and in email… but how hard can I be about things right now?

    1. Nita*

      Maybe just talk to them to find if there’s a reason they’re not doing these things? Like, are they watching kids, or sharing a computer with their spouse who has meetings at the same time? If you know what the issue is, you can try to work around it.

    2. lost academic*

      It might be that they and you need to make some adjustments in these times. A lot of this might be solved with Outlook calendar entries and reminders whereas previously your office environment made that unnecessary. I think having a one on one meeting about this over VC/phone will help them figure out how to be part of the solution.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      It sounds like the entire team has collectively decided to slack off. The next time something is late, I’d use a more direct communication. If you usually email, then I would IM. If you normally IM, then I would give them a call. Escalating the form of communication will likely snap them back into work mode.

      1. Alice*

        If it really were the whole team, it would beggar belief to think that they all just decided to slack off, and I’d consider whether there’s something structural going on — people were relying on a shared whiteboard that listed tasks, the company VPN has been having problems, etc. OP, are the “several direct reports” all of your direct reports? Or just some of them?

    4. Mama Bear*

      I’d meet with them and discuss each point of concern with the employee directly. How are meetings arranged? I have Teams meetings in Outlook. They pop up 15 mins. beforehand. That’s not a surprise, the link is right there, and if I miss it, someone better be bleeding. If it would result in a PIP some other time, can it result in one now? Maybe be really clear that this is where you are headed if things don’t improve? If some of these people are repeat offenders/have ridden the PIP train before, then maybe they shouldn’t be kept on.

      I’d also look at how you are tracking things online. Do you, for example, use Skype or Teams? Do you have the group expectation that when someone is remote they should be available within a reasonable amount of time during their scheduled hours? I used to work with someone who on his remote days would be unavailable for hours. It was unworkable when I was trying to move a project along. When you are a remote team, there’s some wiggle room for things like walking the dog or dealing with a kid, but there also needs to be an expectation of actual work and reachability. If that’s not happening, then they need to be put on notice.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, you can’t just vanish for hours during your regular hours without letting someone know.

        Where I work, we use Slack, and I post it in the team channel when I need to be AFK for a few hours to run a midday errand. (Most places around here that do curbside pickup are only open between 10 am and 3 pm – right in the middle of the day.) Everyone knows this is needed, so as long as we communicate and don’t miss meetings, it’s all good.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      A question: are people offering reasons as to why this stuff is happening? Are they even aware of a problem before you mention it? I mean, if you say to Wakeen, “Wakeen, we didn’t get your completed TPS reports last week. What happened?” is Wakeen just saying, “Oh, sorry boss, I forgot!” (or worse, “what TPS reports?”), or is he saying “I meant to get them out, but my kids just tend to melt down by Friday afternoon, and by the time I was able to focus on work again and remembered the reports, everyone was done for the weekend anyway?” I think it’s important to find out if people are making genuine efforts but having a hard time, or if they’re giving up on productivity.

      That said, the “giving up” isn’t necessarily just being lazy, but might be burnout related. I would approach the whole situation by first checking in whenever there’s a problem and saying, “hey, what happened here? Can you help me understand?” and then saying “we need to make sure this doesn’t happen. Let’s brainstorm some things we can do to make it easier for you to get this stuff done.” Maybe that will boil down to things like “set meeting reminders on your phone, so even if you get up and walk away from your computer, you’re more likely to get the reminder in advance that you have to do this.” Or maybe it will involve things like having Lucinda, who doesn’t have to deal with frequent Friday meltdowns by kids, do the TPS reports on Friday for the time being, while Wakeen handles the Wednesday morning midweek updates instead, or something.

      I think one thing that seems to motivate people to try to improve their performance at work is when you make them aware of the effects that their poor performance is having on other people (e.g., “when we don’t get the TPS reports Friday afternoon, Juanita has to scramble to hunt down all the data she needs to get started on Project X on Monday morning, and it’s incredibly time consuming and inefficient”). Reminding them of those impacts might help motivate them to find solutions to the problems they’re having and work harder on improving.

  21. Miraculous Ladybug*

    Hi y’all! How would you approach talking to a manager who has micromanaging tendencies about backing off a little bit, trusting the expertise she was so excited I brought to the role, and eventually having more ownership of my day-to-day work?

    Complicating factors are, I’ve only been here 6 months, and for one of those I was laid off (I’m a designer working in-house in the hospitality industry) and then brought back on first when my employer got PPP-approved. My work has been highly complimented by everyone including the owner of the company which is wild and has never happened to before. I don’t miss deadlines and I’ve applied Allison’s advice of proactively informing her of things but she still wants to nitpick the smallest choice and it’s kind of starting to drive me bananas. I love this work, this industry, and this particular company, but my manager’s tendencies toward dictacting even the smallest of design decisions is demoralizing and makes me feel like my years of design expertise don’t even matter. Working from home is making it even worse, because she can’t see my screen, so checks in constantly to make sure I saw what she said

    I want to talk to her about it, but I’m afraid, since I’ve been here so little and we’re in the middle of a complicated pandemic situation. Do I approach it now? Do I wait until things settle a bit?

    All my workplaces before this have been some variety of extra dysfunctional, so I’ve never even had a proper performance review or had a conversation like this go well. :(

    1. Gaia*

      I typically approach it by asking if there is something I am doing that makes her feel like she needs to check in so often. It gives her the opportunity to raise an issue you might not be aware of, and also makes it clear that you’d like some more autonomy.

      I’m also very transparent that I operate best when given leeway. You want to see me lose all productivity? Micromanage me. I can’t help it, I don’t work well like that. Give me a task and let me get it done. I’ll come to you if I run into a stumbling block.

      1. Miraculous Ladybug*

        I’m the same way–and good point about framing it that way! I would genuinely love to get some critical feedback. Got a ton of it in design school, entered the workforce, and then… nothing! It sucks. I’ll give that a shot, thank you :)

    2. OtterB*

      With respect to nitpicking design choices, can have a timeline where you get to a certain point of progress and offer her two or three choices of things? Tell her you like option A because of X, but option B has the advantage of Y, and what does she think?

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Six months is not that long yet, so I would just remember that some of this might be that she doesn’t trust you yet and working from home is probably increasing micromanaging tendencies. I think other suggestions of timelines might help. There was a great Captain Awkward about dealing with nitpicky/micromanaging bosses. I think she recommending sending a email every day outlining everything you completed and what you were planning to do the next day and then doing it again the next day with updates.

      1. azvlr*

        True, but six months in, the manager should have had at least one performance conversation. If that has not happened, I think it would be appropriate to use the exact wording in Miraculous’s post. “Now that you have had a chance to see me in action, I would like to know if you have any specific feedback for me about my work. I’m eager to use the expertise you were so excited for me to bring to the role to a greater degree.”

        You can either leave it at that or add, “What would you like me to do differently so that you can feel confident with my work and free you from having to check in so often?”

        1. Miraculous Ladybug*

          Oh I like that very much! I do agree with AnotherLibrarian–I absolutely get why my manager might be acting like this. In addition to me being still fairly new, the company seems to have had a pretty different culture prior to my being hired. There was a lot of distrust and having to prove yourself that my manager unfortunately had to deal with–which kind of makes it harder to ask her to stop because I get it!

          That script for asking for feedback is really helpful. We had one informal review of my performance and she basically only said “nah you’re good” which, while lovely to hear, isn’t helpful at all, so this should help me probe a bit deeper. Thank you!

  22. AnotherAlison*

    Had anyone here gone through a legal master’s program? Contract review and negotiation is part of my job and potentially a larger part going forward, and I also work in an industry with plenty of regulations, so it would benefit me in that way, too.

    The need for this knowledge has been discussed around my office, but I only know attorneys and paralegals and hadn’t heard of legal master’s degrees until recently. I don’t know of anyone who has completed one of these programs. I would love to hear from anyone who has first hand knowledge of these degrees.

    1. Lynn*

      My two cents — a legal masters might be enough for you in the short term, but if you are going to rearrange your life and go back to school, it is probably worth it to just get a law degree and take the bar. It’s a lot of work but it would ultimately open up more opportunities for you.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Thanks for your input! I have thought about that option, and flirted with the idea many years ago (like 2006).

        It doesn’t really fit what I want to do. I am now 20 years into my career, am well-paid, and only a couple years from being an empty nester. I don’t want to unplug from my job/career track and pay for law school.

        I have not explored all the options, but one program that I am looking at is 30 hrs/2 years part-time online from a reputable school. No lsat or gmat. I could do a part-time online full law program, I suppose, but I have not looked into if that is an option that exists. I see the added value, but it is a large cost/time/life difference.

        1. Lynn*

          If you may retire in a few years anyway, and this program will take a few years, does it have a good ROI to you? It may not be as intense as law school, but it would still likely be expensive and time-consuming during that period. (sorry, I don’t mean to be a debbie downer on your dreams! But it almost makes me wonder if there’s any shorter sort of certification you could do in this field)

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Lol, I’m not providing enough information and just giving enough to be confusing! Don’t worry – this is only a newly birthed dream. I am looking for alternatives and whether it’s a decent idea, so I appreciate the input.

            I’m a good 20-25 years from retirement. I had my kids early. This one program is in the $30k range, and I have about $12k of tuition reimbursement eligibility at work. I’ve seen other programs double that. There probably is a grad certificate somewhere or maybe an “executive” version that is shorter, so that is a good idea to look at, too. I am enrolled in a Coursera course, but there are only 2 classes, not full certificates. I haven’t gone far enough to see how valuable those classes will be. I’m not expecting this is something where I do this, and my pay jumps $50k. I don’t think it’s going to get me anything in my career I couldn’t get now, so time spent is probably the biggest concern for me. Would spending 10-15 hr/week on this make the most sense relative to some other work-related spare-time upskilling endeavor?

    2. Scoob*

      I can’t provide any first hand knowledge, but I wanted to comment that it is interesting, and I wasn’t aware of this type of degree. I see that you can get one online, too. I have worked in the legal profession, as a non-lawyer, for almost 30 years, with only a bachelor’s degree. I currently do contract negotiation/management (in the pharma industry), but also work in other legal areas. I have been working in the in-house corporate legal department environment for many years now. I used to have a paralegal title, but I ditched it as soon as I could. I am now director level, which is above manager level in my industry.

      I wonder if the educational content would be practical and useful, versus taking random classes of one’s choice. To be cynical, I would be skeptical of investing time and money in this type of legal masters degree if it is not a well-established gateway to advancement in the field–and frankly, I don’t think it is in my industry. Still an interesting idea, for pure education. I hate to say it, but in my experience, the legal profession still tends to be quite binary in many ways–you are a lawyer or you are not. I am glad that I left law firm work and went in house in the pharma industry, because it opened up a new world of more challenging and varied work, and career advancement–much less binary than a big law firm. Would be cool to have a masters on my resume, though!

    3. AnnieMay*

      These programs are just a cash grab for universities. Unless you have identified a direct job opportunity which requires this degree don’t do it.

    4. Ariadne Oliver*

      I’ve done one. However, not in the US but at a graduate school in Germany. They offered a program focused on corporate law. I ended up moving back to the US right after completion to a totally different field of work and never got to apply my legal knowledge. However, it looks good on the resume and I know that it’s been a favorable factor in at least two positions I’ve gotten. It also really helped my critical thinking and analytical skills. So long story short, I feel it was a good investment of my time and money.

    5. Gumby*

      What kind of contracts? I only ask because if they happen to be government contracts, there is a cheaper way of getting up to speed (though the in-person classes seem overpriced for what they are) – FPS online. But that is fairly specific and probably not exceptionally transferable to non-government contracts.

  23. Lyudie*

    I am doing my first summer session of grad school and can I just say: AHHHHH.

    Wow this is intense. And I’m already signed up for summer session 2 as well.

    The next month+ is gonna suck but I keep reminding myself that’s two whole classes out of the way in one summer.

    1. Betrayed Librarian*

      Summer grad school classes can be brutal! But I was always glad to have signed up for them, because I finished my program earlier than I could have otherwise. You’ve got this!

      1. Lyudie*

        Thanks for the encouragement! I’m only taking one class at a time because I’m also working full time and want to still have a life lol. I got caught in a situation where if I don’t do a couple summer classes, I won’t be able to graduate on time (I could ask for an extension and I’m sure I would get it but I’d also like to be done lol) because they start counting your time to degree with the first class, even if you are not in the program yet (or don’t know if you even want to get into the program).

          1. Lyudie*

            Ha! Fortunately for me I don’t have kids or pets or a job that requires crazy hours so it has not been too bad so far. And the program is 100% online, no way I could do this if I had to go on campus for everything (I am local but don’t live particularly close to the campus). Summer session is a turning out to be a little more intense though as it’s only five weeks for a semester’s worth of work.

    2. Ms Fieryworth*

      Congrats on taking the plunge! I just got my M.S. this month, after 3 years of working full time and doing grad school part time. It’s hard to do but it’s absolutely worth it. Here’s some unsolicited advice: schedule time to do readings/study, discussion posts, papers, and so on… but also schedule time to see your people, take down time, and so on. You are going to be great!

      1. Lyudie*

        Thanks so much! and CONGRATS on the MS! I am on track for my MEd in spring 2022 which seems like such a long way away haha. I’ve actually been taking classes for a while (one a semester) and I definitely do have to mentally set aside time to do school stuff–like ok if I do the reading for an hour, I can go play Animal Crossing for a while LOL

        1. Ms Fieryworth*

          2022 will be here before you know it! Good luck in summer classes, and your program!

          1. Lyudie*

            Thanks! <3 It's been tough sometimes but has allowed me to change careers (midlife crisis/burnout yay!) and has been worth it.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      I believe in you! You can do this!

      But also, I feel that. Summer sessions are more like screaming sessions.

  24. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    As part of my librarian job, I’m in charge of a few research guides for students. They have some basic resources for starting research in a new topic (the ones I’m in charge of include special education, Elizabethan literature, citation, among others), and my name is attached to them. Since I became responsible for them, I periodically get emails from outside organizations that have resources on these topics suggesting that I include their resources on the guide. Do these emails require any response? I’ll check out free resources, though I usually don’t end up including them, and I don’t have any budget or influence on the budget.

    1. juliebulie*

      If you use their resources, it might be nice to let them know. Otherwise, no reply since these are unsolicited emails.

    2. Sheila E.*

      I work for a library that provides information/links to resources on its website and regularly receive “cold calls” to include information from a particular organization. Our resource pages have vetted information, so I’m always a little circumspect of organizations that solicit us to promote their services. To be honest, I usually ignore them (unless there’s a compelling reason not to — the company is a known entity or the information is overwhelmingly supportive). If they’re persistent, I usually tell them that the Library doesn’t solicit for outside information and they go away.

    3. OtterB*

      Different situation, but same position of occasionally getting emails about resources someone would like us to include in a guide. Ignoring them is fine. As juliebulie says, it’s nice to let them know if you include their resources. I’ve been known to respond with an email that the resource looks nice but doesn’t fit our needs because it targets the wrong population for us, and very occasionally point ask if they’ve checked somewhere that might be a better fit, but that’s by no means required.

    4. Library Lander*

      Nope, treat ’em as just spam. I ignore them unless I recognize the organization. Even then, it can be a bait and switch where they have certain resources for free but when you start to dig in, the patron to request we purchase (for big $$) the full source. If you reply, they will see you as a good prospect and start hounding you.

    5. Another business librarian*

      Delete, block, mark as spam. I never bother looking at even the “free” ones.

    6. fposte*

      I’ve had something similar, and I think either you can ignore them or template them with a “thanks for the suggestion, we’ll keep that possibility mind when we update” email that clearly says “Not now, and no promises about the future.”

    7. Ponyboy*

      Treat as spam and delete. I actually had to reply with some spice to one because they contacted the library director, who forwarded the email to me like “why is this person cold emailing me?”

    8. Academic Librarian*

      I get similar emails asking to be added to a few bibliographies I manage at my library as well. I just ignore them.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’d ignore, or as fposte suggests, use some super generic form language.

    10. Ron McDon*

      I am responsible for the ‘useful links’ page of our school website – I often get cold-emails from people asking if we’d like to add a link to their website as our parents might find it useful. I usually ignore them if they’re not suitable for inclusion.

      However, I did have to get extremely forceful with one particular person who kept emailing insisting we should include his company’s details – when I replied (after his third email, to which he had demanded a reply!) saying that we did not wish to include a link, he got very rude and wanted to know why, and didn’t we think it would be helpful, and how could we deny our parents the information…

      I sent a strongly worded reply, and then replied to his next tirade stating that I was declining to enter further correspondence with him, and the way he behaved had ensured we would not be recommending his company to our parents – ever.

      Then I blocked him…

    11. Dream Jobbed*

      Ignore them or they will constantly bombard you with questions/”resources”/sales pitches. This took me awhile to absorb, but you are not required to respond to cold calls/e-mails.

      Same with authors who are trying to get you to buy their book.

  25. Gaia*

    Ya’ll I think I just saved myself from being laid off.

    I’ve been expecting to be part of the coming layoffs at my organization because my role (while important!) is one that the organization could, technically, survive without (although I’d never tell them that!).

    My direct manager asked if I’d be willing to take on work from someone that quit a few weeks ago. The work isn’t directly in my area and it isn’t what I want to do long term. That said, what I do want is to continue being paid. So I said sure, I can take it on for now.

    Now I’ve got the entire executive team emailing me thanking me for picking up this critical role during such a difficult time and scheduling meetings with me throughout the summer (layoffs are coming in two weeks).

    Hope I like llama herding because it seems like that might be a big part of my job for awhile….

    1. I Love Llamas*

      Hooray! I am in a similar situation and senior leadership asked me to take on a new major responsibility because it needs stronger oversight. It is something completely not in my wheelhouse. I am just waiting to have it transition over to me, but the person currently handling it is remote and since they will be upset about this transition, leadership wants a face-to-face with them. Return to work phasing has begun so hopefully this gets sorted out soon. Good luck!

    2. cmcinnyc*

      Sounds like your boss doesn’t want to lose you and found you something, anything to do to keep you on payroll. Phew! That is a good boss. I, too, hope you enjoy llama herding for the time being!

    3. Mama Bear*

      I’ve done that a time or two. Sometimes it pays to be flexible and available. Good luck to you! Keep all those emails.

    4. Parenthetically*


      (Hope you’re otherwise okay and would love an update tomorrow if you have time!!)

  26. Trixie*

    It’s been a while but I am having a tough reunion with Outlook. The emails and scheduling feel so clunky compared Google. Tell me I’m not alone.

    Also, Visio is brand new to me. Other than checking on tutorials, YouTube, etc., any suggestions for becoming adept with this program?

    1. Lyudie*

      Have you checked LinkedIn Learning? They have a lot of classes on various business tools that might be more in-depth than some tutorials and YouTube stuff.

    2. rageismycaffeine*

      You’re not alone. I especially hate how hard it is to search for emails in Outlook compared to Google. Sob.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      I feel the same way. What I liked about Gmail was that you could have several different email accounts opened without signing out..All you had to do is click on your icon to choose different email. Now in my new company I have to sign out of my personal email to open the department email. Or use Firefox instead of chrome. And I HATE the outlook computer app.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      re: Visio – just play with it for a while. I found it to be very easy to learn, much easier than most Microsoft programs.

      The mechanics are easy, becoming great in it is a little harder, I have needed to focus on 2 aspects:
      1) What is the right level of detail
      2) What is the right overall design

      I use Visio for mapping business processes. I use it in parallel with a detailed process document, usually in Word, in an outline format, which helps a lot with the ‘right level of detail’ question.

    5. 867-5309*

      I feel that way when I’ve had to use Google in previous jobs – I hate it and prefer Outlook so much more. :)

    6. voluptuousfire*

      Nope, you are not alone! My company was acquired and we used Google suite for everything. Loved it! Now we’ve fully transitioned over to the new company and to Outlook and it’s clunky as hell. At least using Outlook365 is Gmail-esque, so it’s not as bad.

      1. Trixie*

        I’ve schedule meetings in both now and Gmail feels so much more streamlined, especially for multiple schedules. I don’t think this new job uses Outlook 365 but maybe that’s something to look forward to.

  27. schnauzerfan*

    GOOD news, bad news… I’m on an annual contract. July1-June30. Usually we get our new contracts early in May. Have 6 weeks or so to return them… Sweating bullets as no contract had been received. Got my contract for next year yesterday. Yay. Raise that I had been led to believe would be there (back in January) not there. OK bad, but not surprising. Work from home can continue if you meet CDC guidelines. Good. But gotta jump through the doctors note hoop after July 1. OK I can do that. Hoping you all have more good news than bad!

    1. 867-5309*

      Can you ask them about the raise or do you feel like the timing for this organization isn’t good for that?

  28. Nott the Brave*

    My office is going work remotely for at least the rest of the year, and is asking for what accommodations and benefits people need to make that effective. We already have laptops connectors for desktop screens. What other things have you found to make working from home effective that an office can provide?

    On a personal note, I’m an extreme extrovert who relies on my office to provide some of my social needs during the week. Any suggestions for keeping that going working remotely, even after my state opens back up/allows people to see each other again?

      1. hermit crab*

        Seconded. I think this is like the least important thing if you’re working from home for a day or two, but maybe the most important thing if it’s for the long term!

      2. allathian*

        A good desk chair is a must! You’re sitting on it for 8 hours a day if not more.
        If it’s hot where you are and you don’t have A/C, a decent table fan can help quite a lot. If you can afford it, a Dyson bladeless fan is great, because it’s almost noiseless.
        I have short fingers and that means that I hate typing on a flat keyboard. I much prefer my sloping desktop keyboard, especially because it has a number pad. My muscle memory hates typing pin-codes on the top row of a portable keyboard.
        If you do a lot of video meetings, a good desk lamp positioned above the camera is a good investment. People can actually see you rather than a dark shadow.

        I’m fairly introvert, but I do enjoy our Friday coffee breaks on Skype, where we talk about people’s pets, plans for the weekend if any, basically anything except work. If someone starts to talk about work, we usually tease them a bit for it. It’s just our team and strictly voluntary, those who can usually attend but if I’m too busy, I’ll skip it. That said, I’m glad I’ve only had to skip it once. I like my coworkers and think it’s fun to talk to them for half an hour every week, especially because there’s no pressure to talk about anything in particular, including our mental health. We don’t use video during our work meetings during the week, because screen sharing and video is tough on our VPN.

    1. Miraculous Ladybug*

      If you have access to some kind of chat platform like Slack, see if you can get some specific non-work channels going! My partner’s workplace has a robust Slack with channels for such niche things as Animal Crossing New Horizons, Cats, Vegetarians–it seems to provide a pretty robust support network of other humans!

      Also, if you can get your company to provide you with a laptop riser and detached keyboard/mouse, that’s worked wonders for my shoulders in the past, and is cheaper than buying a fancy desk chair (and easier to fit into your home) but with similar ergo benefits.

      1. Fikly*

        My company has a serious rivalry going on between the cats channel and the dogs channel on Slack.

    2. Annie Moose*

      In addition to the keyboard/mouse Miraculous Ladybug mentioned (which I strongly second!), a decent headset would be nice for Zoom/etc. (My company let us expense up to $50 towards one, so we could pick out one we liked or choose a pricier one if we wanted to pay the difference–I thought that was a fair way to handle it)

    3. pbnj*

      Do you have a headset for conference calls? What about regular office supplies or a printer, or perhaps being able to be reimbursed?

    4. Choggy*

      I purchased an external microphone and speakers because I was not liking using my headset. I can easily hit the mute button on the microphone as needed. I also have a webcam that can be moved pretty easily (though not wireless). I wish I could get wireless everything (my desktop, keyboard, and mouse already are). I have two external monitors, and already had an office chair for my home office. I think I spent about $200 (company paid) to make myself comfortable working from home. I honestly am not looking forwarding to going back to the office, that still has to be reevaluated the end of summer when that will be.

    5. Fikly*

      Someone on my team made a great suggestion the other day. They mentioned that they missed having the ocassional short chat about non-work related and non-mental health related topics that would happen when everyone was in the office together.

      Our team has an ongoing video meet that people can hop into and out of with a permanent link, so he’s going to slack when he’s taking 10 for coffee, and anyone who likes is welcome to hop into the meet where he’ll be and can chat about anything non-work and non-mental health (ie, how stressed out are we all?). It’s just started, so I don’t know how well it’ll work, but I love the idea.

      1. Nott the Brave*

        If only! Jester could cute disease if she wanted but I highly doubt she will.

  29. QuittingTomorrow*

    Yesterday, I was cut from the running for a (temporary) position, at a ‘dream’ level international organization, after the eliminatory written examination part of the process. I know a pass wouldn’t have necessarily led to selection. However, I also know I delivered subpar work on one of the two questions – I haven’t read the second, I feel I did better at it but don’t want to be proven wrong and feeling worse.

    Scrutinizing what I should have done better isn’t worth it here, but ultimately, for a communications position, it was a fail – my writing was bad, had a few mistakes as I didn’t have time to read before submitting, and didn’t meet the required number of words.

    I’ve never been a very good tester, but what’s the use of having the experience, believing that I can do better, and then not delivering at a crucial time?

    I can’t shake the feeling of inadequecy, shame for subitting amateur work, disappointment in myself for having blown this awesome opportunity – and also future opportunities at the organization, based on the work I submitted.

    1. Miraculous Ladybug*

      Firstly, that sucks. I’m sorry that you were cut from the running, even if you think it was preventable!

      Something I’ve been learning recently, as someone who deals with generalized anxiety, is that shame is useful only when it’s trying to tell you something. Let yourself feel ashamed and guilty for a little while, rather than trying to fight it. When you’ve had enough of that, take some concrete steps that are not just promising yourself you’ll do better next time. Maybe that’s rewriting the exercise for yourself, or maybe that’s outlining a checklist to review your work before you submit anything next time, and then sticking to that. That way, your shame is channeled into growth and work, and your future self will have a more solid system in place than you just thinking that you want to get better (which puts way too much pressure on you!)

      I spent years just thinking “I’ll do better next time! I’ll change my thinking and then it’ll be fine!” and not realizing that I had to put in work by changing a system or a behavior. I feel like a huge dummy for not getting that earlier, but live and learn!

      1. QuittingTomorrow*

        Thank you! I love the idea of repeating the test and I have thought about ways to improve – better planning.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      It’s a bummer! I also blew an online pre-interview test—a programming test—and it stinks. Luckily I have a big ego ;)

      One thing I would do is go back to your actual work. Is it good? Do you produce good writing that meets the spec with few typos? Ok, then you know you test badly and maybe you should apply to places in the future that want a portfolio rather than a test.

      For this particular organization—I think that you have to do three things. One, give it time to become a memory instead of a fresh embarrassment. Two, look at your current work and either build up a secure sense of “I’m good at this” or take the opportunity to get better. Three, reframe the stakes of this. This was a job: it may have changed your life but it wasn’t, couldn’t be, a golden ticket to every hope you’d pinned on it.

      Best wishes. This kind of thing really sucks but is recoverable.

      1. QuittingTomorrow*

        Thank you very much! I’m definitely taking the three steps you mentioned.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      If it helps any, in two years they will have tossed your application and you can try again with a clean slate. But do take the opportunity to learn from this – build ‘read before submitting’ into ‘how I do things’, for example.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I know anxiety is hard and steals all the good words and intentions, but if you can switch from ‘blame’ to ‘solve’, it will make things so much better for you.

    4. Fikly*

      So this is way easier said than done, but here is what I have learned.

      Focusing on the negative emotions and blaming yourself only leads to being upset and failing in the future.

      Accepting what happened, looking at it to see what happened, why it happened, what you can learn from it, and what you can change in the future – that leads to better outcomes.

      Also, I promise you, no one at this org is going to remember your application in the future. You have not blown any future opportunities. They are not paying anywhere near that much attention to individual applicants – and if they’re doing it right, they don’t even have your name attached to the exercise, so really, the only thing attached to your name is a rejection, not a wow, they bombed this exercise note in a file somewhere.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yep, see the update Alison just posted to confirm – two years later, no one will remember this application.

      2. QuittingTomorrow*

        You are right! I’m usually better at accepting things and trying to be more positive, but I had a hard time with this one. Thanks!

    5. tetris replay*

      I think it’s also important to remember that not every position requires timed examinations. You probably know more than I do about what people say about getting better at testing, and it is a skill you can improve. At the same time, it’s not like you can’t get a communications position with test anxiety.

      Also, I’m not the only one saying that people will forget about your single mediocre entry during a job hunt, but it does bear repeating.

      1. QuittingTomorrow*

        Thank you! I have performed better at other tests, as well. I think, as I said above, I might improve my planning and it’ll hopefully help.

    6. Dream Jobbed*

      I applied for my dream job a couple years ago. Didn’t get it. None of the 5 people interviewed were deemed qualified for it, and it went unfilled. Fast forward a year and it reopens. But in that year I had a huge leadership opportunity, and improved some other skills. Wrote a passionate cover letter and did well on the Zoom interview. Had to do a presentation on a topic I knew nothing about. Spent about 60 hours on this 10-minute presentation, including creating 4 deliverables. Got the job (at a significantly higher salary than the first time around as they hunted for the right person.)

      Don’t give up. I am now living in my dream location, and love my new job (although tough at time, and keep getting walloped with changes.) If you messed this one up, learn from it and show them what you can do next time. It can happen!

  30. Llama Leslie*

    I work in a field that is newer and tends to be called very different names. As I’m applying to new jobs, I’m realizing that what my company called the team I was on doesn’t really line up with what other companies often refer to it as. Think: llama groomers, llama stylists or llama artists.

    As a llama groomer (according to my resume), people expect me to have a certain set of skills/expertise that I don’t have or really enjoy doing. I’d say my job really was a hybrid of a llama stylist or llama artist. I’ve tried to make my resume show that but the same conversations keep happening. I even had a call with a recruiter for a llama artist role where he gave examples of projects they did, which I’ve done and are on my resume. Yet he was still surprised when I talked about doing those projects since t I’m a llama groomer.

    Would it be weird to say explicitly in like a cover letter that as my company didn’t have a llama stylist or llama artist team, my llama groomer team functioned as all of those?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I think explicitley calling it out like that is fine, especially if you list the acheivements of stylist/artist on your resume. Something like “as our grooming department was responsible for the full range of llama fur care, I’ve created 3 new dye colors , braided CelebrityLlama before her news interview , as well as clipped toenails .”

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I think I accidentally added hyperlinks because I was trying to add the roles in brackets? What I meant was, emphasize the artist & stylist tasks you did in your cover letter.
        — dye colors: artist task
        — braiding: sylist task
        — clipped llama toenails: grooming task

    2. dealing with dragons*

      I’m not in a newer field but I run into this on LinkedIn. Previous jobs I’ve had are blends of different jobs (technically) but I lean more into one part of the role. So for your example, as a llama groomer I technically can shampoo with a few different shampoos, and condition, but most of my skills and expertise are in the hair drying. I’ll get messages about shampoos I only used in college and for senior positions to boot! So in my cover letters I simply describe what I did (take on the lead role for hair drying) but that I’m comfortable with the shampooing and conditioner side as well.

      I ignore the recruiters who clearly did not read my profile, though :)

    3. Fabulous*

      I think Alison’s covered a question like this before! I can’t find the post right now, but pretty sure the advice she gave was to update your resume to the actual job you did rather than your actual title. Maybe you could frame it as “Llama Stylist (official title Llama Groomer)”

  31. FaintlyMacabre*

    I applied for a job back in February. They asked me for three references after they had received the application, which I frankly didn’t like, but fine. Heard nothing back, put it out of my mind. I guess I will apply again. Can I use the same cover letter? Should I reference having applied last time?

    1. FaintlyMacabre*

      Oh, and they didn’t contact my references, which makes me think maybe they shelved the job search for whatever reason.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I wouldn’t just reapply – it’s possible they decided, based on your application, that you weren’t the right fit; it’s also possible that there is/was a hiring freeze. If you have an HR or other contact at the company, I would reach out to them and ask if the position is still open and whether you’re still under consideration (others may have better wording on that).

        1. FaintlyMacabre*

          Good grief- I failed to mention that the job was reposted! Since they asked for my references after I applied the first time, I assume they found me interesting. And I know it wasn’t that my references turned them off, because they didn’t contact them.

          Sorry, I made that confusing. That’s what I get for posting without caffeine.

          1. ThatGirl*

            My advice stands — I actually figured that was what you meant. They might have shelved everyone’s resumes, or they might have already ruled you out.

          1. nep*

            Oops–OK. Just saw below that you said job was readvertised. Still I would get in touch with HR if possible.

      2. WellRed*

        Well since it was in February, I’d guess the shelved the job search due to the…pandemic?

        1. FaintlyMacabre*

          Yeah, I assume! Since my question isn’t directly conavirus related, I was trying to give those trying to avoid thinking about it a break.

        2. FaintlyMacabre*

          Sorry, as I noted up above, I failed to mention the job was reposted. I’m not just aggressively throwing my resume at people! No gumption here, I swear!

  32. MissBookworm*

    Found out recently that a coworker thinks I’m controlling.

    This coworker who complained (John) was hired four years ago, but has only been in my department for a year. I’m not his supervisor, but have assisted in his training because he took over a task that I used to handle. It’s this that has him calling me controlling. I do want to say that he has been a good employee in other ways—gets work done on time and with few errors (except for this task), picks up information quickly, and has ironed out some issues with another one of our clients. He’s was also recently promoted and given other tasks that he has been doing a really good job with.

    That being said, he’s just not consistent with this one task that I handed off to him. We’ve done these reports a certain way for years (I did these reports before handing them off to John and my manager had done them before handing it off to me). We have certain calculations we need to do and because of how the vendors send in invoices it can be a slow process. One vendor in particular sends us an 80 page list bill (no subtotals, only the grand total), which we then have to summarize on our reports based on certain criteria; for example all the teapot items need to be subtotaled in one section by color, all the teacups need to be totaled in another section by size, etc.). The way my manager and I did these reports is to “show our work” (i.e. in the cell for a certain item type we would have = 1+60+…). Then quarterly the vendors would send us a “recap” of sorts showing the quarterly amounts broken down by item which we use to confirm our reports were totaled correctly. If they didn’t match, then we have to investigate which could take several hours depending on the amount of inconsistencies.

    John just calculates it on his calculator or in his head and enters the subtotals. No “showing his work”. Which would be fine if he got the total right, but he hasn’t been. Since he took over, we have had several issues come up because the reports didn’t match the recap. Early on I assumed it was my fault—that I hadn’t explained it well during training—so I walked him through it again when the issues came up and watched as he did it himself a couple times. He did it correctly (with minimal input from me), so I would assume we were all set. When the issues came up again a few months later—this time while he was on vacation, I was asked to redo the reports I wish it had been easy to figure out, but they were a mess and it took me almost two days to complete (three if I don’t account for the time I spent doing other priorities that came up).

    When he came back I went through everything with him and reminded him to show how he came to that amount (it would only have taken me a day if he had).

    I mean, how am I possibly being controlling in this situation? He wasn’t doing the task correctly which resulted in errors. If he had done it correctly I would never have had to step in to fix it and would never have had to spend all this time reshowing him how to do it. So now I’m angry at him and angry at the coworker who told me this. And I don’t really think there’s anything I can do about this.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I get to call you controlling if I’m doing my job impeccably and you are still in my face. I lose the ability to call you controlling when I make a mistake–even though everyone makes mistakes. And if I’m consistently making mistakes? I’m probably using the label to shift the conversation to your personality instead of my mistakes. Don’t let him get to you. Don’t engage in discussing your personality. Focus on the work and that leg he’s standing on is gone.

      1. MissBookworm*

        Why can’t everyone think like that? I have to work hard at not letting people get to me, especially in this job. Thanks!

    2. Mama Bear*

      If it is just this one thing, can you bring it up before the next report deadline and maybe offer to shuffle tasks so he does something else and someone who is more diligent can do the report? Did your boss ask you to give him that work/tell you to redo them? If so, I’d talk to the boss and say that you see this pattern, can a redistribution of tasks be considered? I’d be inclined to just let him lay in the bed of his own making, except you get stuck redoing his work when that happens.

      1. MissBookworm*

        We shared a manager, who isn’t with the company as of March. She assigned it to him. We now both report directly to our department head, so I’ll have to go to him with this. Honestly, I loved doing this task and was annoyed when my manager took it away (though I completely understand why she did—I was too busy and this was the easiest task for me to disengage from). I’ll bring it in my next meeting with my boss, see what we can work out, especially if he wants me to continue fixing the issues when John does it wrong. Thanks!

    3. WellRed*

      First of all, are you sure your coworker actually called you controlling? You’re hearing it third hand, correct? Second, regardless of what he said, at the core, there is an issue here in that the work is being done incorrectly, to the point it’s wrong and needed to be fixed. Rather than stew at your coworkers, you need to have a conversation with coworker (and manager, if needed?) about the issue. It sounds like that hasn’t happened yet?

      1. MissBookworm*

        As sure as I can be. The coworker who told me is usually a vault; she loves hearing gossip, but rarely reveals any herself because she hates being a part of office drama.

        I have had multiple conversations with John, but it is definitely time to escalate and get our department head/boss involved.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I have a feeling that John’s definition of “controlling” is “someone who insists that he does his job”.

    4. fposte*

      What does his manager say about all this? While “controlling” is a bogus term here for “trying to make me do things right,” this sounds like something his manager should be fixing, not you.

      It’s also worth keeping in mind that he didn’t say it to you (and I’m not sure your co-worker really needed to share it with you). Maybe this was his way of being anxious about a work obstacle with a friend. That’s not especially wise, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should take it to heart, either.

      1. MissBookworm*

        His manager recently left in March, but when the issues came up the first few times she would have a conversation with him. I don’t know what those conversations entailed though. I’m going to escalate to our department head/boss. Maybe he’ll be able to get this worked out.

        I’m definitely trying not to take it to heart—I think it’s just making me mad because I have enough things on my plate that I don’t have time to be controlling, nor do I have time to fix his mistakes but I have too!

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      I had a invoice recon that was similar to this. What really helped was turning into a Excel spreadsheet, where the lines all got copied from the invoice and tagged by the thing we were totalling (category, then color or size) in separate columns. Then pivot table that puppy, and save on a shared server for the recon. You could also use Sort to group things if pivots are not your thing, or a separate tab for your totalling categories, which could have a ‘total for this tab’ line that would feed to a main summary page.

      Definitely he needs to change his process so that it works for the recon and the ‘how’ is visible, but maybe this is an opportunity to dig into a process and come up with a better way.

      1. MissBookworm*

        Thanks! I’ll have to play around with it and see if it will work for what we need.

      2. Melody Pond*

        I agree with this. Neither version of the process (the correct version, and how this guy is actually doing it) sounds like a terribly reliable way to get accurate report totals – though of the two, your way is certainly better.

        But if you’re using Excel to calculate totals either way, it would probably work better to turn the work into a data entry task (getting the relevant details from all the invoices into a standard table format in Excel), rather than a calculation task. Once that’s done, Excel has got all kinds of ways to automatically sum up dollars grouped by the various categories you want to report on.

        Plus, side benefit, if you change the requirement of his task to do this data entry instead of to calculation, the data entry work will by definition “show the work.” So no matter what, his work will show the detail that you want. Also, if he’s not accurate at this task either, it would be very easy to compare the data entry work in Excel to the original invoices and show his manager the differences between the two.

      3. Dramamethis*

        This. We have multiple vendors that submit large multi-line invoices and it would take forever without the spreadsheets.
        We have templates with the coding hard-coded so all we do is type in the item numbers & $$$ Easy-peasy.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      First, check with your manager and let her know the situation (i.e. you trained John on the protocol, John seemed to get it, then there was this big mistake and you had to redo the work from scratch because John didn’t follow protocol). Ask if there’s something else you should do, like write an official protocol, to make sure this issue doesn’t come up again. Suggest/ask if this is a manager-to-manager conversation that needs to happen (I’m not clear if you and John have the same manager or if John reports to someone else).

      Do NOT mention the gossip about John’s perspective of you being controlling, because that’s just gossip and it’s not relevant.

      Second, why are you mad at the coworker who told you this…?

      1. MissBookworm*

        We do have a manual on it, that John assured me made sense and he was able to follow it. I’m going to bring it up at my next one-on-one with my boss.

        The coworker who told me is usually a vault—she enjoys drama, but hates starting the drama so she never repeats what’s told. It’s just made me really hyperaware of how I’m acting toward people and now I’m second guessing every interaction I’ve ever had with John (and also with my direct reports) because I definitely do not want to be “controlling”.

        1. valentine*

          she enjoys drama, but hates starting the drama so she never repeats what’s told.
          You’re letting her have it both (all three?) ways. By actively listening to gossip, she makes herself part of the drama and this can’t be the first time she’s shared, yet you still say never.

          ♪ What, never?
          Hardly ever
          She hardly ever repeats goss ♪

          If you haven’t already, tell John flat that the issue isn’t his doing it differently, but doing it objectively wrong and you having to spend hours fixing it. Don’t give him any more refreshers. He knows what to do. He simply prefers his way, and that makes sense if he doesn’t have to clean up his own mess.

          But it sounds onerous, so I’m surprised you enjoy it. Can the vendors fill out a spreadsheet or form for the first round, so you don’t have to tease everything apart? And Melody Pond’s data entry advice is great. If John is forced to enter each number, everyone will more readily see where he went wrong. Or the original could be in the workbook, simply linked, so that only the vendor is wrong.

          When you add in the time cleaning up after and retraining John, is this still the easiest task for you to stop or is there something you’d gladly trade that someone else can do, hopefully without your having to bat cleanup, should the need arise?

    7. Bethica*

      Just a note that it might feel frustrating or insulting to be called controlling, but it isn’t always bad to BE controlling. Sometimes it’s entirely appropriate, like when there’s a critical process that isn’t being followed and it’s causing problems. Ideally their supervisor would be the ‘controlling’ one in a managerial sense. But in the meantime, you do you until you are given direct feedback. And know that when some people see “controlling,” other people see “leader” or “reliable” or “thorough.”

      1. MissBookworm*

        Absolutely! It’s just made really hyperaware to make sure I don’t cross some line… like I even know where that line is because it will be different for everyone.

    8. Fikly*

      I’m gonna guess he can’t cope with being told he’s wrong by a woman, even though he’s wrong.

      I mean, sure, I suppose it is controlling to instruct someone to do their job correctly, but if that’s the case, all managers are controlling by definition.

    9. allathian*

      Yikes, whatever’s going on here, the problem needs fixing. It doesn’t benefit your employer at all if John does the work and you have to do it over because there are so many errors. I hope you can talk to your/John’s manager about this and get it sorted. I do hope it’s not something stupid, like he can’t handle being corrected by a woman, but even if that’s the case, this has to stop.
      Most competent people in specialist roles don’t like being micromanaged and certainly not by a peer rather than their manager (even a peer who used to do the job and knows it in detail), but micromanagement is appropriate when someone fails to do their job correctly, especially a detail-focused job like this one. John’s certainly not the right person to do this job if he can’t be trusted to follow protocol when someone’s not looking over his shoulder. He clearly knows the right protocol but doesn’t want to make the effort.

  33. VictoriaQ*

    I know I commented about a week back about doing other things at work/being bored, but the situation got a little more serious. My boss sat me down and basically said ‘this month has been kinda bad for you, it seems like working at home has been too distracting, you’ve had a lot of errors/typos, including a big error that cost us a lot of time’. This is all true, and while I’m mortified, I acknowledge it and want to do better.

    So, I’ve tried my best to only have something like Ask A Manager open in a tab, to look at during the day, going slower and checking my work, etc. But, I’m so bored. It’s excruciating. I have ADHD (currently unmedicated, trying to work on that) and the lack of stimulation is getting to me. And it makes it really hard to focus on tasks that need my attention and are detail-orientated when I’m so bored. And it’s not usually stuff I can set aside to work on something more novel until my brain gets back into gear. And while I plan to ask for more work, I can’t for at least a few more days as my boss is busy right now.

    Do other ADHD-ers have tips or resources for this type of thing? I’ve tried listening to music or podcasts while I work, but it just frustrates and distracts me. I do have a standing desk, do you think using it more would help? This is really frustrating because I really like this company and I know that a first job or two is usually the boring stuff *because* you’re entry-level and low on the totem pole, and yet its so hard to get through this. It makes me wonder if going into my chosen field was a huge mistake and if I’ve wasted a college education and all that.

    1. Generic Name*

      I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, but my sister, father, and son have been, so I know it at lest runs in my family. I’ve found that I need a certain baseline level of stimulation to be productive. So if I’m doing something really mindless, like data entry, I’ll listen to college-level lectures, or engrossing podcasts. For things that require a medium level of concentration, I’ll put on a TV show I’ve seen a million times in the background. For higher concentration, I’ll listen to the radio. For even higher concentration, classical music. I’ve been having a hard time staying focused while at home, and this stuff has helped me.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      I am so sorry, this is very hard.

      I chew a lot of gum. Like, a worrying amount of gum. But I’ve also found that paper process checklists help me by 1) staying on track and focusing 2) providing enough distraction (oh! I have to check the list now!) to keep my brain stimulated 3) is tactile and relives some of the sensory needs.

      I also have my fitbit go off every hour to stand up, do ten squats, stretch, whatever.

      I wish I had better advice.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Checklists! I forgot about those when I wrote my comment. I’ve been using a lot more checklists since I’ve been working from home than I did when I was at the office.

    3. August*

      Not sure if I have any good advice, just sympathy (both on the ADHD and entry-level doubt front). Teleworking alone has been veeeery bad for my attention span/work ethic. I try to intersperse my mind-numbing work with more active non-work stuff (mailings for my neighborhood committee! Calling my insurance company! Texting a friend! Looking up recipes for next week!). It still takes longer than if I was able to focus my full attention on my work, but I’ve got to be upfront — that’s not possible for me right now. And personally, the little burst of “ahh, it’s been 20 minutes since I started this non-work thing! Panic time, have to do work” has been stressful but also helpful.

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Also ADHD here, and I miss my standing desk when I’m working from home. (I’m allowed to take it home, I just don’t have space for it.) I’d put that one in the category of “Can’t hurt, might help, and probably has other benefits as well.”

      What type of music do you listen to at work? When I’m in that mood, I have to listen to something I’ve heard so much I have it memorized. For me, that’s Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Handel’s Water Music and Royal Fireworks suites, or the album “Flood” by They Might Be Giants. In all cases, played through in order. If I don’t know what’s coming next, my brain will get disrupted at every change.

      Pomodoro sprints are another tip a lot of people swear by. They may or may not work for you, and you’ll probably have to experiment to find the right pattern. In your case, I’d try for 10 minutes working and a 2 minute break, with a longer break every hour to get up and move around. You may be able to work longer (15 or 20 minutes), but in general, if you have a longer working period, you also want a longer break period.

      As far as the unmedicated thing goes, I feel you. Not only did I spend most of my life unmedicated, my current medication is not a stimulant (weird combination of other issues mean my doctor and I are trying to avoid putting me on prescription stimulants). I do find that judicious use of caffeinated beverages does help. Most days, that means 1-2 cups of unsweetened tea in the morning. On bad days, there may be a 3rd cup, or a soda in the afternoon. If you’re able to have caffeine but currently aren’t, that’s something that might help.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I came here to say something similar about music – some is more distracting than others, and it depends on what works for you.

    5. Annie Moose*

      Something that helps me is giving myself blocks of work time interspersed with breaks (like the Pomodoro method, or UFYH’s 20/10s). I set a timer for 20 minutes or so and focus on work stuff for only that time. Then I set a timer for, say, 5-10 minutes and take a short breather to do something else. Rinse and repeat!

    6. Calanthea*

      My first job was very process oriented, and I definitely got bored and missed detail and all that for the first month. What helped, and this is maybe not as useful for you depending on your role, was having a checklist that I could go through and tick off for each file – the ticking off each section gave me whatever dopamine hit I needed to keep going.
      I very quickly applied for a job that suited me better though, using the knowledge I’d gained of the process to move into the organisations strategy/policy role. Does your chosen field have a variety of job types? If you’re a lawyer then maybe the attention to detail thing is more challenging, if you’re in HR then moving towards coaching rather than processing payroll is pretty do-able.

    7. Laure001*

      ADHD here too… Sugar. I know no one wants to hear this because it’s not great for your health, but sugar and caffeine really help me focus. I try to be serious about food otherwise and I exercise regularly.
      Also, doing the boring work in really really small increments. Like, 20 minutes on this. Then 20 minutes on something else. Then back to the boring thing. Etc. It really works… for me at least. Good luck!

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        YES. Caffeine! I forgot to mention that I can’t focus most days without it.

        I also find my ADHD is 1000+ worse during certain parts of my menstrual cycle. I didn’t notice if OP mentioned gender – but it might be helpful to note the days where the ADHD is extra strong and plan around that. I do exactly -0- accounting work or data entry the two days before my period. I file, clean, organize, do analysis work, answer phones, whatever those two days. I know you can’t always move your work around like that, but maybe there is a little wiggle room?

        1. ADHD Queen*

          I HAVE THE SAME THING WITH MY MENSTRUAL CYCLE. It’s so weird. I also schedule my work accordingly and have to plan for less “productive” days when I’m not intensely focused or deep. I honestly can’t find my head from my ass the two days before and then maybe the first day in. The last time I went to the doctor, she suggested taking continuous birth control to skip my periods. I think that’s what I’m going to do.

        2. Laure001*

          ADHD Queen and Camp-fire Raccoon, thank you! Very interesting! I realise now it happens to me too.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      I’ve asked some of my friends with ADD about how they deal, and things I’ve heard from multiple people:
      1) Treat caffeine as a medicine, have a caffeine supply steadily through the day
      2) Background noise like music helps
      3) Visuals help, like sticky note lists going from an ‘IN’ area to “Working” to “Done”

    9. VictoriaQ*

      Thank you all for the help! Unfortunately, my boss wants me working in the office full time since my telework month was so bad (we all have our own office, hand sanitizer, etc) so some of this stuff isn’t applicable. But I will definitely try classical music and a physical checklist.

      Also, maybe one of these days I’ll actually remember to bring my tea to work so I can drink worrying amounts of it during the day.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Can you keep a stash of tea at work? When I grabbed my office equipment to take with me for WFH, this included 4 boxes of tea that were my personal work stash.

    10. yala*

      My ADHD has made work VERY difficult for me, and it’s caused my boss and I to butt heads more than once.

      I’m right there with you–a lot of what I do is VERY detail oriented, and there are times when focus just ISN’T going to happen, especially if I’ve been in a bad place emotionally (like, say, the whole first month of lockdown.

      Things that have helped me:

      The Pomodoro method. I’ve been a little lax lately, but I use an app called Focus-to-Do. The timer goes for 25 minutes, then sets to give you a five minute break. After 4 sets, you get a 15-minute break. (Your boss may not be super keen on you taking those 5 minute breaks. Mine isn’t. WFH does mean I can work later to make up for it tho. But at least stand up, get some water, go to the bathroom I guess… me, I need some Mindless Stimulation (eg: twitter or a website I can read in bits and pieces without thinking too hard) during my short breaks)
      The app also includes various white noises. When I’m in the office, I use the ticking sound (with headphones), but at home where it’s much quieter, it gets me twisty. There’s a “library” sound that’s papers rustling etc that I use instead.
      It also has one of those cute little “forest” bits on it–every day you check in, every task you complete, and every pomodoro set you do generates “sunlight” to grow your little tree. Which is a nice, satisfying visual for “I have Done The Focus Thing.”

      One hard thing for me was accepting that…no, I can’t listen to podcasts, or even music with lyrics, when I’m doing the particularly detail-oriented work. You could try videogame music instead, if basic white noise isn’t enough (it’s not, sometimes. I’ve been listening to…Elder Scrolls, I think? Something like that). The way I do my work, usually I write up all my files first, then go over them with a fine-toothed comb after, so during the first round, I can still usually listen to something with words (sea shanties are good working music).

      I don’t know if this is relative to your specific type of work, but my work involves a lot of coding–easy places to make a typo or miss a field, or forget that ___ has changed. I’m good at broad strokes, but, like a lot of folks with ADHD, sitting down and making sure all the details are right is…tricky. Two things I use for those:

      I try to work in chunks of, say, ten files at once. I keep a little legal pad, and on one side, I have numbers of all the corresponding fields I’ve coded. When I’ve finished the batch of 10 files, I go through them line by line–meaning that if there’s Field A, I go through each file looking ONLY at Field A, and put a check next to the field as I go. It helps me slow down and focus on the small details.

      The other is a new development. I have an iPad Pro and the app GoodNotes (I love it. If you have a compatible iPad, I can’t recommend it enough. No more oodles of half-filled notebooks and sticky-notes that are Somewhere. Being able to search through my own notes, and rearrange/organize them is super helpful). When I’ve finished a file, I take a screenshot of it (the snipping tool in Windows 10), then open them in my GoodNotes app. Being able to write my corrections directly on the file also helps me to really *see* when I’m missing something, and I think just getting them into a different context (ie: off my computer screen) helps (working from home, it also means I can relocate–usually to the couch, with one or both of the cats on me. Which is also A Change Of Scenery my brain appreciates)

      last thing, and this is probably just me, but I find having either a hot drink, or a very cold drink also helps me focus? I think it’s just “Oh, hey, a sensation!”

      Anyway. I’m talking a little out of my hat here, since I still struggle. A lot. But these do help me, and I hope they might be useful to you.

      …also, you just reminded me I forgot to take my meds. whups.

    11. Beatrice*

      I do untimed Pomodoro sometimes, and it’s pretty effective. I’ll break my work into chunks that take about 20 minutes, get through a chunk, and take a short break before diving in to do another. One of my tasks involves doing things in alphabetical order A-Z, and I’ll tell myself I’m doing A-D and then I’m going to get up and refresh my drink, then I do E-G before pausing to check my personal email, then do H-K before taking a short walk. It especially helps me get through tedious tasks I might otherwise procrastinate on.

    12. Mily*

      I sit on a yoga ball and actively bounce on it when I am working from home. And I consume a metric ton of caffeine. Also, progressive muscle relaxation can be calming so I can focus. You can find youtube videos on it.

    13. Nesprin*

      Massive sympathy from another of the ADHD kindred. I am miserably bad at data entry/high detail work and I’m lucky that my chosen career/ current level involves almost none of this sort of work.

      I would probably be fired if my job involved that sort of work- it may just be that you’re not in the right current position for your talents/mindset. It’s worth thinking about what you are good at, and how you get to a position where that work is more a focus of your day-to-day.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Late to the party, but I would suggest:

      1) Identify what types of work have the most potential for critical errors, and if possible, batch them to do at your most alert time of day. Then do lower-stakes work when you are mentally tired.

      2) Create an extra layer of error control before submitting higher-stakes work. That could be something like proofreading text backwards, or finding a way to see other sorts of work in a different perspective, or running some type automated check. Or asking a coworker to review it.

      3) Make the boring work more rewarding. That could be something you’re experiencing while you do it, like music or snacks, it could be your work environment, or it could be gamifying the tasks in some way – playing error bingo, or beat the clock, or using an app like Habitica to gamify your to do list.

  34. Oh no*

    I read the thursday open chat and is mid-career really 29?? I guess that makes sense with 65 being the retirement age. I’m 28 and I had a mild panic attack that I’ve already crept up to mid-career and I’m still not where I want to be. Can someone just tell me it’s OK that I haven’t started my dream entrepreneur business already? (>_<)

    1. ThatGirl*

      You know, I thought of that too – but I don’t think it really is mid-career; say someone starts working at 22 and, for the sake of argument, retires at 72. That’s a 50-year span that would put mid-career in your 40s. I’m 39 and do not feel like I’m “mid-career” either.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      No way, mid career is not really 29. If you start your career after college and work till 65, that’s about 43 years of work. Mid career isn’t really until you are 15 year in, imho.

      Honestly, that’s more disappointing than mid career being at age 29. I have been in my career for 20 years. I’m 41. My dad is 68 and not retired. Do I really have more years left than under my belt?

    3. schnauzerfan*

      I would have said your 40s is “mid-career” Star working full time somewhere between 18 and 25 or so. Plan to retire about 65.

    4. D3*

      I wouldn’t say it’s mid career! Most people don’t start a career until 22-ish (some earlier if they don’t do a bachelors or finish quickly, some later if they do grad school, the range is wide)
      So if peoples’ careers span 22-65, mid career would be early 40s.
      I just figured many of the respondents were answering about the midpoint of their careers SO FAR. So if they’ve been in the workforce 17 years, and made a career change 8 years in at age 30, that was roughly halfway through their career.
      I had the same reaction, though. Made me feel…old. I’m in the middle of what I consider a mid career change, and I’ve been in the work force 23 years!

    5. Generic Name*

      Yeah, 29 is not mid-career. I know that many people feel impossibly old at that age, but they haven’t even hit mid-life yet. I’m 40 with 15 years of experience, and I consider myself mid-career. Most people we hire at my company who are that age would be considered “junior” level staff, because they have up to maybe 5 years’ worth of experience. Maaayyybe if someone had began their career at 16 could they think of themselves as “mid-career” before they hit 30, but how many 16 year olds get what most people consider “career-track” jobs?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Family business kids can start careers young if they actually stay in the family business. My older kid didn’t work with my husband till he was a little older and in college, but my 15 yo is joining them this summer.

        My company also has high school engineering and drafting interns. I guess the ambitious kid could start their full time career at 16, but you would have to be a kid who really knows what they want long-term!

    6. Spearmint*

      I think what people meant by “mid-career” in that thread was “not entry level”. I also had a moment while reading that thread where I was like “wait, late 20s is mid career!?!?!”

    7. revueller*

      You’re absolute OK! as someone who’s having a personal crisis of “is this really the best career for me” at 25, it’s really nice to hear actual mid-career pivots that people have in their late 30s and 40s. it reminds me that (barring emergencies) i have time to figure this out and still find success somewhere else.

    8. WellRed*

      No, I had the same reaction. A mid-career change is when you have all the responsibilities of being 45, are used to being at a certain salary level, etc., would possibly need to compete for internships or entry level jobs designed for 22 year olds, need to consider how this impacts retirement and the worry that you are unhireable due to age. Deciding at 29 to shift gears? Not quite the same thing.

    9. emmelemm*

      I’m 47 and feel like (or at least I hope) I’m hitting mid-career right about now. At 29, I was still a drifter.

      1. allathian*

        Same here! Well, to be fair, I stayed in school longer than I would have needed to just so I didn’t have to graduate in the middle of the 90s recession (I was 27 when I got my Master’s degree, but I never got a Bachelor’s so it’s my graduate degree rather than postgraduate).

    10. Senor Montoya*

      No, it’s not mid career. For someone who went to college that’s 6-8 years of work out of 40 – 50 years of work. Even for someone who starts straight out of high school, that’s still only 1/4 of a working life.

      The other way to look at it is to think about your ultimate career goal; at 29 a person could be halfway there in terms of promotion/better title/more responsibility. But that still leaves a lot of years of work..

      The question to ask yourself is, are you satisfied where you are?(satisfaction determined by what you value, there’s not some golden yardstick we all measure ourselves against). If no — then what would make you more satisfied? What do you feel you have left undone or not tried?

    11. ...*

      Well most people don’t start their careers at 2 years old, so I would consider mid career 40. I’m 29 and was also surprised by that since a lot of people in their late 20’s are still working retail or in school.

  35. sparkly kitten*

    Hello everyone! Would love some advice. I’m an academic applying to a government job. Yep, career switch! I have NEVER SEEN an application like this. Has anyone ever made this kind of career switch, and if so, are there different rules for how to set up your resume and cover letter? It looks like it’s really algorithm-based. I’m worried I’m at a disadvantage here because I’m a freelancer, and on normal resumes I’d simply lump my writing work together and list the things I’ve worked on. It’s really hard to figure out how and if I should do that here.

    There is a number to call, and a specific person, to ask about details of the job. I’m actually pretty clear on that from the description, but I wonder if it would be worth calling to ask some questions about the fit, or if that would hurt rather than help?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Brownie*

      Oh yes, the rules are different. Because it’s a government position they have to treat every application the same to ensure there’s no bias or discrimination, so algorithms and requirement matching is key in the initial application stage. Make sure that for whatever requirements they list for the job there’s a bullet point on the resume or check mark on the application matching the requirement. Same for any desired skills and, if possible, use the same wording as in the job ad. If it says “Required: 5 years Llama Grooming” make absolutely sure that the resume shows a line item of “Llama Grooming” instead of “General Ungulate Grooming”. Last hiring round I was part of resumes that made it past the algorithms and HR stopped at my boss because he couldn’t tell easily how many years of experience in a required skill the applicant had. Those resumes which were clear enough that he could print them out and use a red pen to check off requirements were the ones that made it to interview stage. That bit is relevant because in government hiring it could be HR who’s exclusively doing everything for the hiring or else it could be the actual boss for the position who has no HR knowledge or skills and there’s no way to know up front which it will be.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Absolutely this. Many times the reviewers are looking to check the box and if you miss something your application will not be rated “best qualified” and will go nowhere.

      2. sparkly kitten*

        Brownie, may I ask if listing “freelance,” i.e., “Freelance Llama groomer, 2015-Present,” would be problematic? Would it be better to simply list “Llama groomer, 2015-Present,” with line items matching the job descriptions (they’re all there!), and then examples of specific freelance llama-grooming jobs?

        1. Brownie*

          I’d say “Llama Groomer, 5+ years experience” and put the freelance where employer would usually be. They first want to check off the job requirement and don’t look at the employer until later on.

          I know when we’re looking it’s skills, not job specifics, that get the candidate past the first steps. The actual boss may be interested in specifics of what jobs you’ve had once you get to the interview stage, but likely everyone before that won’t have any idea what goes into llama grooming and why having a specific job saying you groomed show llamas, one of which went on to win best in show, is important. Think of it as a tiered system, the first layer is mechanical (the application), the second someone who knows only to match the resume to the job description/ad (the resume), the third (resume and cover letter, possible interview stage) is the one who actually knows what a llama groomer does. Layers 1 and 2 don’t care about anything but matching words and numbers, so build your resume and application with the goal of getting past those levels first.

    2. Calanthea*

      I’m in the UK, and our govt application are very formulaic. They are indeed looking for specific key words and phrases, which will be absolutely fine if you’re already working for them, but completely opaque if you’re an outsider. Do you know anyone who works for the department already, who might be able to help you figure out what phrases to use and how to best structure your experience to fit their form? If not, this is actually the kind of thing careers coaches are good for – they have experience and practice in filling in certain types of applications and can guide you through the process.
      Good luck!

      1. sparkly kitten*

        Thanks! Alas, no connections in the department. The job is very suited to my experience, but the field itself is new to me (ie., I’ve been a llama-groomer for teapots but this would be llama-grooming for grapefruit harvesting). The turnaround for the app is SUPER fast, so no time for a career coach (I’m actually worried it’s an internal hire because the window is so small).

      2. sparkly kitten*

        Hmmm, I think my comment *possibly* got deleted. Thank you for the advice! The turnaround for this is pretty fast (makes me worry it might be an internal position), so no time for a career coach. But I’m going to try!

    3. Quiznakit*

      Assuming you’re talking about US federal jobs:

      Make your resume as complete as possible. Don’t worry about length; the more the description of your job duties can reflect the language of the job posting’s duties/requirements, the better. The more specific you can be with your start/end dates on the jobs, the better, since a lot of fed jobs require evidence of time-in-grade. If you say you were employed 2019-2020, that could mean from 12/31/19 to 01/01/2020 orrrr it could mean 01/01/2019 to 05/01/2020. The first won’t do you much good, but the second reflects 16 months of experience.

      If there’s a knowledge/skills assessment, make sure that if you are asked to substantiate the claim about your skills you’ve made by pointing at something on your resume, the description of that job on your resume actually reflects those skills.

      In my agency, cover letters never actually get read. It’s a nice to have, but not nearly as important as making sure your resume matches the job posting matches what you claim on your KSAs.

      Good luck!

      1. sparkly kitten*

        Thank for this, wow, the specificity is amazing. I’ll have to think hard about exactly when I started my jobs…

        1. Quiznakit*

          If it helps, I made the jump from being ABD to being a fed, so it can be done! Also, depending on how much education you have, a few years of grad school can really help you place higher on the GS scale than you might going off pure experience. Just make sure you get your school transcripts uploaded to usajobs. Unofficial transcripts are fine, in my expereience.

          Academia is its own weird world. Government is a whole different weird world. A lot of the things Alison advises about job hunting in the private sector have very little bearing on what job hunting in the government looks like. Someone else mentioned that the people looking at your application materials may not have any connection to the job or the hiring manager(s), so all they can do is check off what your resume and KSAs say against the position description. If you’re lucky and get an interview, it might be with the actual hiring manager… or it might not.

          Also, hold onto your patience with both hands: federal hiring makes sloths and tortoises look like speed demons. It can take months and months to wind through the system, so if it feels like your application disappeared into a black hole, don’t despair.

          1. sparkly kitten*

            This is SUCH an encouraging comment. Thank you. I’m really happy to hear that you were successful in this! The job in question doesn’t have an educational requirement, but on your advice I’m going to upload my transcript anyway.

            And thanks for your advice re: sloths and tortoises. It’ll keep me from freaking out in the next month!

            1. mananana*

              For some really solid info on applying for fed jobs successfully, google “The Resume Place.” You’ll find useful intel, including the dreaded KSAs, on that site. Because federal jobs/hiring is definitely different.

              Good luck!

      2. old curmudgeon*

        One caveat about the comment above “don’t worry about the length.”

        This is highly dependent on the government and the agency. I work for a medium-sized state agency, and very frequently, job-postings will include something “2 pages maximum length with 12-point font and 1-inch margins on all resumes.” And they mean it, too. They literally will not print or read anything past two pages, and if a resume comes in with 11-point font or 3/4-inch margins, it doesn’t make the first cut. Governmental hiring practices are incredibly rigid, and one of the primary expectations is that applicants must be able to read, understand and follow directions exactly.

        So the very FIRST requirement is to carefully read every word of the job posting, and to ensure that the materials you submit exactly match what is requested.

        The other comment I’d make is that if the positions to which you apply require civil service exams with essay-questions, in some cases, try to include a bit of cross-referencing to other questions, because I have known cases where different exam reviewers are given different questions to grade, e.g. John reviews all Question 1 responses and Jane reviews all Question 2 responses.

        This also requires carefully reading that job posting. If the posting says that five years of experience is required, one of the exam questions will ask you to define your specific qualifications including years of experience. Then you’ll get to a different question like “how many appropriations have you worked with and what were the total annual expenditures?” You answer that question with something like “During my seven years working for XYZ, a regional retailer with half a billion dollars in annual revenue, I was responsible for blah, blah, blah etc.” Basically, you work in a reference to your years of experience and the scale of the employer in your responses to other questions.

        1. sparkly kitten*

          This is awesome. Thank you! There don’t appear to be length requirements on the resume here, and it’s for a federal job…though it does seem to have a place to enter everything on a form and then upload a resume, separately.

          I’m actually torn on how to format the resume. It it requires the hours worked per week, start and end dates, my schedule, my supervisor, how to contact that supervisor, and whether they can contact them, do I list that as a heading underneath the job title? And further, if I was self-employed, do I just say that? I currently have this heading over job description bullets, followed by more detailed descriptions of projects:

          Llama-groomer (2015-Present)*
          Schedule: Variable, project-based
          Hours per week: 10-40, project-based
          Reference: Theon Greyjoy** (123)456-7890;
          OK to Contact: Yes

          *Guessing I should be more specific with dates here but it’s weird since many of these were self-employed projects.
          **In place of a supervisor? This was a colleague who oversaw a specific project.

          1. Ariadne Oliver*

            Federal employee here. No, you don’t need to fill out the form and upload a resume. It’s either or. I would advise you to go with uploading your own resume. The online form is a bear to deal with. Also, do not worry about length or restricting work experience to the last ten years. If it’s in any way applicable include it in the resume. And make sure that you mirror the terminology in the job announcement. Don’t bother with the cover letter. No one cares. Truly. I’m getting ready to move to my fifth position in ten years and never submitted a cover letter and I’m high up in the federal food chain. Good luck.

            1. sparkly kitten*

              Wow, thank you. I had just deleted a bunch of experience from my (already 5 pp) resume ackkkk…I wonder if I should put it back in. I had an administrative assistantship in grad school that I took out, as well as a few short-term teaching job in a completely unrelated field to the job posting.

              Also, you made my day about the cover letter because this app definitely doesn’t require one, but I was thinking of uploading one anyway! Now I’m thinking maybe I can submit sooner. Thanks!

      3. Joanne Pan*

        This is really helpful – thank you so much! I’m currently a contractor and I’m looking to get into the federal government – is there anything else I should add? I’ve already been as specific as I could with the hiring language, so I’ll sometimes get through to the “looked over” status on USAJOBS, but no further than that.

    4. sparkly kitten*

      Holy crap – WOW. THANK you for all this advice. It’s really daunting! Completely the opposite of everything I learned when applying in academia. I’ve been obsessively re-writing my resume for 2 days now and I think I’ll have to start again. This is SO HELPFUL.

      Thank you very much!

    5. Policy Wonk*

      For the federal government, particularly at the entry level where the numbers are high, yes applications are sorted by an algorithm. So quote exactly what the announcement says, then explain how you meet the criteria. E.g., Must be an experienced llama groomer. Say “I am an experienced llama groomer as demonstrated by…” Do not change it to make it sound better (e.g., I have superior llama grooming skills) as you might not match the search terms.

      RE: calling the person about the job, yes please do. I’ve worked for the government a long time and I can’t always tell what is wanted when reading a job announcement. If there are three required skills, but the one they are most eager to get is the one you are weakest on, better to know that up front.

      Finally, upload a resume/cover letter in addition to filling out the forms. Yes, it is likely duplicative, but the forms make the HR people happy, while the hiring managers like the easier-to-read resumes. Same info, but two different audiences.

      Good luck!

  36. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I emailed this question to Allison, who asked me to post it in this thread, since it is very much academia. (TA/RA thesis program, so kinda like a VERY competitive 2 year job.) My original email to her is below.

    I applied to several graduate programs back in January and February, and most have responded to me by now. (Sadly, all with rejections, but with advice on what they were looking for. Field experience, a research background, and the like. They want me to already be doing Master level work to be accepted into a Masters program.) One school, however, has not responded. I get that COVID-19 has made things weird, but their deadline to pay deposits if accepted is in early June!

    I sent them an initial email politely asking for my status, as the website says only that the application was submitted with no further instructions. “Please check to make sure your application has been submitted.” I have sent a screenshot of the status page, and the only response was to keep checking the website on the next business day. This was two weeks ago.

    Despite their website saying that they are available by phone, no one ever picks up. I have tried since last week calling a couple times a day during their business hours, and not even getting an answering machine. It’s just, “please call again later.” (If I had gotten an answering machine, I wouldn’t have called back for a week after leaving a message.)

    I of course doubt that I was accepted, but it would be nice to *know* that they at least looked at my application. Friends in the field are suggesting I ask for my large application fee back. The email was the very first time I’d contacted them since my original application in January, since most schools do not make graduate admittance decisions until April, and with COVID, I assumed it would take longer.

    How much longer should I wait, or should I just give up at this point? I figure asking for my fee back would make sure I’m never accepted to this school, but half of me is viewing this as a huge red flag. I applied to this program based on my advisor’s suggestion, and it does generally have a good reputation. I do have plans to get the needed experience next year (and next summer, since this summer’s a bust.) Any suggestions would be welcome.

    1. Reba*

      Yes, give up. Sorry.

      Asking for the fee back would never have occurred to me. It’s just not that kind of transaction?

      And yes, this is a data point that should affect your sense of the program’s reputation. With the understand that everyone has been building the plane while flying it this semester, and maybe that department has been harder his than most in ways we can’t know, it is nevertheless very poor form to leave applicants hanging like this. They have effectively ghosted you!

      1. pancakes*

        Maybe it should be that kind of transaction if they can’t communicate whether they even reviewed the application or not. They should refund the fee in these circumstances.

        1. Reba*

          I totally agree that they have handled it poorly. But these kinds of fees are non-refundable, and I find the advice to ask for a refund to be off. They are not going to give it back even if they manage to apologize, and I think Dragon_dreamer would just look strange for asking, regardless of the justice of the request.

          1. pancakes*

            In normal times I’d agree, but we’re not in normal times, and I don’t think it would be out of bounds / weird to ask for a refund.

    2. merope*

      I would bet part of the reason you can’t get an answer by phone is that their office is working from home, but without the infrastructure to forward calls to a home phone. Have you tried emailing the program coordinator for your area/intended major? That person might have a stronger interest in getting back to you as they might know your advisor through the field, whereas you are one of many applicants for the university’s graduate programs. Good luck!

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        I did last week, and no reply there, either. It’s the kind of program where they can get 75 applicants for maybe 10 slots. The least it wasn’t a PhD program, those application fees can be triple what I paid.

    3. Alice*

      Ask your advisor who recommended it to talk to someone she knows in the program. A personal note to the department chair should get you a response.
      I think that the application fee is just gone, sorry.
      I would think carefully about accepting their offer even if they make one. They’ve shown you that they are not responsive, and they are never going to have more incentive to communicate with you than they do now (as a prospective student who may well have other offers).
      Good luck.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        She isn’t sure what to do either. She doesn’t know anyone currently there, but has known students who got their degrees there. My department chair (also the graduate chair at my current school) thinks I should try asking for my fee back, but my advisor (the undergrad chair) thinks the opposite.

        1. Alice*

          I’d lean against asking for the fee back. I realize it feels like they just cashed the check and otherwise ignored your application, but you don’t have any way to demonstrate that (thus justifying the fee’s return). Sorry.
          If you actually care about the answer (and in your place I wouldn’t want to go there anyway at this point) admitted/not admitted, you could ask your department chair to contact their department chair and ask about the status of your application. I wouldn’t have the department chair raise the fee issue though.
          Good luck.

    4. Hi there*

      This is a gigantic red flag. If they can’t keep track of applications you don’t want to entrust your future career to them by going to graduate school there. They had time before the stay at home orders to process your application and presumably the office staff kept working from home in any case. I’d write off the application fee and consider it a bullet dodged. I am sorry this happened.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        Me too. It’s hard enough to get into my (fairly physical and competitive) field with no background in academia, autism, mobility issues, and lack of money, but I’m trying. On top of that, I have at least a decade on the most applicants.

        I’m doing what research I can with my advisor. I’ve been a volunteer at a well-known museum for years, in the area I want to make my career. I’ve also joined 2 professional societies and a related non-profit that works with my museum. This is my second degree (both relate to the field), I scored well on the GREs, I have a research question for my thesis… I’m running out of ideas on how to be the strongest candidate I can. I’ve wanted to be in this field for 30 years. This non-response hurts more than the rejections. :(

        1. Grits McGee*

          Hi Dragon-dreamer- just out of curiosity, are you applying to museum studies graduate programs? I have some experience with museum MA programs and the field, if you are interested.

            1. evolution in action*

              Whoa! I saw this and had to comment. I applied to a school (SDSMT) for geo/paleo that never admitted me or declined me. The one answer I received was that my app was “incomplete” as I didnt’ have references, so I had the references fax them in AGAIN. Never heard back after inquiring. It was super frustrating. I spoke to another student later on who had done her undergrad there, and she confirmed that I dodged a bullet. I hope you eventually find your dream program.

              1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                I’m wondering if I did, too… though my application says it’s 100% complete. The only thing I haven’t sent is *official* transcripts, but the application and website both say those are only needed if accepted. Since the checklist doesn’t even have THAT listed… it doesn’t help that there’s already a few programs with problems that I won’t apply to. This was supposed to be one of the more accepting ones. :(

                1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                  Also, SDMST was one of the ones who rejected me, though I was kinda expecting it. They contacted me within 2 weeks with an answer.

      1. pancakes*

        Being neither accepted or rejected by the promised deadline seems like a pretty solid basis for requesting a refund to me.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          That’s what my grad chair said. He and my advisor have contacted the university in question, we’ll see if they get a response.

    5. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I got a response! I finally caught their grad advisor for the department in chat. Apparently with the shutdown, they forgot to send out rejection notices. I did not ask for my fee back. However, she did give me some good resources for reapplying next year. *fingercross*

  37. Going Full Boyle*

    I’m struggling with dealing with a coworker, and have been for several months. Long story short, this person stabbed me in the back about a year ago and I don’t trust them at all. That’s fine, I can still be professional and get along with them if that’s the extent of the issue. What’s getting to me is that they are a terrible worker. My colleagues and I have been working hard, making content for social media (something that most of us have never done before) and working on other projects during the pandemic while working from home. They’ve done the same three tasks this entire time and these tasks should not take their full working hours, which I know because we all have to fill out a work log. This is a problem from before the pandemic as well, but it’s been bothering me more because the rest of us have to pick up the slack. My manager is the type to throw a project out there and ask for volunteers, and this person will not volunteer for anything, so it’s up to the rest of us to do the work.

    How do I deal with the anger and resentment I feel towards them? I’m still bitter about the backstabbing, and combined with their general incompetence, I’m struggling to not intensely dislike them and discount their input (when they bother to give it) out of spite. I am always polite and cordial to them, so I don’t think I really need to change my behavior. It’s my attitude that needs to change.

    1. Generic Name*

      I went through something very similar. I worked with a man who I was friendly with, maybe even considered them a work friend. And he stabbed me in the back. Blamed me for “distracting” him (even though I would always ask politely if he had time to answer a question or to discuss something). I was moved offices to be farther away from him. I was so angry about the situation that I actually put in my 2 weeks notice. One of the managers convinced me not to quit and asked what would convince me to stay. I cut my hours to 20 hours a week and put my head down and worked my ass off. After a year or so, my work spoke for itself, and my coworker’s work spoke for his laziness and poor attitude. He moved on to another job and my company no longer trusts him. My industry is small, and word gets around. So my advice would be to continue as you have been: work hard, be professional, and let your coworker hang themselves. Get therapy to help you process your feelings about it. What they did to you was absolutely not okay and was a real breach of trust. Your feelings are valid, but you don’t want your feelings to get in the way of what’s best for you.

      1. Going Full Boyle*

        I wish they would leave. They’ve been in this position for over 5 years even though at this point most people would be full time instead of working 2 part time jobs (part time is a common way to start in this field). Someone who actually likes more than one aspect of this job could have it and do it well.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Don’t pressure yourself to change your attitude. It is OK to dislike this person. You are justified in doing so. It does not make you a bad person. Don’t let our culture’s pressure toward relentless positivity invalidate your feelings.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        My thought exactly. You and your coworkers need to be on the same page here. Next project, none of you volunteer, even if you think it’s easy/fun/will make the boss notice you/whatever. You all have more than enough to do. Boss asks? Again you and coworkers be on the same page: Oh boss, yes, that looks like an important and interesting project BUT to do a good job will take XYZ resources and N time; I’d have to backburner or give up A and B projects. So I thought it best to leave for someone else to grab. (Pause) You know, I bet Slackerboy would be great for this project! He’s really good at C and D!

        1. Going Full Boyle*

          I can’t get buy-in from the rest of my department on this. Some of my coworkers are with me, but most wouldn’t be. I flat out told my supervisor why I don’t volunteer for things. I said I’m happy to do whatever, but there are a select few who will not volunteer and it leaves the rest of us picking up the slack. They’ve gotten better except for this one person though.

    3. pancakes*

      Maybe it’s the job that needs to change. It sounds pretty haphazard. Why have people who’ve never worked on content for social media start doing it during a pandemic, of all things? Why not assign work to people based on their strengths rather than just throwing it out there?

      1. Going Full Boyle*

        I’m in a public facing job that provides programming, and the social media content is replacing the in-person programs. We’re basically trying to remain relevant in the community at this point. Most of my coworkers have stepped up and are doing their best, minus slacker.

    4. valentine*

      Proceed as though Stabby doesn’t work there. Stabby may as well not even exist at this school. Don’t look at Stabby’s stats. Focus on management, because that’s where the real issue lies. Leading by example hasn’t helped you. Only take on as much as you can comfortably handle. Find the guilt/obligation. See what your manager says and, if she wants to know why you didn’t do something, tell her which other project you’d have to sacrifice.

      1. Going Full Boyle*

        I don’t volunteer for stuff as much anymore unless I’m genuinely interested or it really won’t get done. Several months ago I told my supervisor that I don’t volunteer as much because no one else will do it. That has improved minus Stabby. I mostly try to ignore what Stabby does (outside of what’s necessary for the job of course) but OMG it kills me.

  38. Nita*

    I’m most likely about to lose the child care that has allowed me to put in 32 hours of work a week. My husband (who was on leave and watching the kids) goes back to work Monday. It’ll be telecommuting at first, but we have no idea whether he’ll be able to do any child care during the day – probably not. I think I’ll be able to put in 10-15 hours a week if I’m lucky, and start burning through my vacation time. I’ve got maybe a week and a half before I’ll run out of that too. What should I tell my boss? Anything? Or just say nothing and hope the child care thing works out on its own? FWIW, 90% of my work right now is not urgent, so I won’t be letting anyone down by putting in fewer hours.

    I have read up on the new FMLA leave, but I gather that the company is supposed to pay for that. Mine is already doing all it can to keep everyone employed. I’ve seen the financials and things look pretty tight. The last thing they need is paying me for not working. This is the absolute last resort, I’d rather not go anywhere near it if I can.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      The company will get tax credits for the FMLA thing. If you need it, take it. It doesn’t have to be 12 straight weeks. It can be 4 hours a day, MWF, or whatever you work out with them.

      1. Natalie*

        Yep, as long as they are within the per diem limits of the act, the leave pay is 100% reimbursable. Take the leave.

        1. Nita*

          I have a feeling that’s not a good idea. There are about 10 others with young children in my department. No one’s taken the leave. I don’t know why, but probably not because they have a nanny/are having fun working while a toddler jumps on them. I’m not sure how robust the FFCRA’s job protection is, and IANAL, but my Googling seems to indicate that you can get laid off or furloughed while taking the leave.

    2. Mama Mingo*

      Nita – how old are your children? My husband and I have been home since mid- March with a very energetic 3.5 year old (daycares closed statewide). We tried to split things up and make it work, but ultimately I ended up doing 90% of childcare. We decided it was best to hire a sitter. We asked for referrals from family/friends and our neighborhood Facebook group but actually had success with Our daughter is with another Mom and her 3 kids, one of which is my daughter’s age. There even may be high school or college students who are available – even a few hours a day.

      1. Nita*

        7 to 18 months. I can entertain the older two while working, but the toddler… the toddler is something else. She’s one of the most destructive kids I’ve ever seen. I can’t prevent her from climbing furniture and destroying things while I’m right next to her. If I keep her from falling off something and hurting herself, it’s a good day, but I’ve given up on preventing the property damage (we’ll have to re-paint the entire apartment when this is over…) She also doesn’t sleep well so my plans to catch up on work at night are evaporating fast. We finally expanded our “isolation bubble” to see my parents last weekend. My mom volunteered to watch her one day a week. Not happening – she hadn’t seen the kid for three months, and has no idea what she’d be in for. While we were talking, that child managed to do something to her grandfather’s laptop, mess up the channels on the TV, almost fall down the stairs, and locate every single marker that was in the room. Thankfully she never got to the marker tasting stage, but while I was getting them away from her, she made off with all the remotes.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Would she or someone else be able to help you out if there were more physical restraints in place for the child? Depending on how much room is available, rigorously child-proofing one room and then putting up a baby gate, or if that’s not possible, getting some of that plastic snap-together fencing to pen off an area of the room?

          I’m not suggesting leaving the child alone in a pen, but rather a place where she and grandma can be together, where she won’t constantly be in harm’s way.

          1. Nita*

            Child-proofing is not very realistic over there… between the clutter and the lack of doorways that are gate-able, it’s a non-starter :(

            1. Not A Manager*

              Could Grandma come to your house once a week? If you have some spaces where you are able to supervise the little one with fewer challenges than you described at your mother’s house, maybe your mother could handle her better at your house than at her own house.

              1. Nita*

                I wish! Our place is relatively child-proofed. That is to say, most of it has already been destroyed by toddler, and she thankfully loses interest in familiar things after a few weeks. But mom doesn’t drive, I don’t want to ask her to take a NYC bus, and in any case she’s also working a five-day week from home right now.
                I don’t know how she was planning to watch the kid at her house while working, really… I think in her mind she’s still a sweet little baby who’s learning to cruise, and can be left to play with her toys on the floor. A lot changes in three months when kids are involved!

        2. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

          Does no one use playpens anymore to restrict toddler movement? It’s kinda like crating a dog, but not really. :)

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      Split the childcare? You work half a day and take kids while he works or can he work early AM/late PM hours?

      1. Nita*

        That’s our best plan right now. Hopefully his workload won’t take him a full day, so we can take turns.

    4. Work-life unbalanced*

      We’ve been splitting the childcare for going on 10 weeks with a crawling baby, and we can only consistently each put in ~25 hours of work, still see each other, and regularly get a shower. I discussed it with my boss as soon as our company announced the leave policy, and I was told off the record after he discussed it with HR that if I formally requested it, it would be denied…even though not having childcare due to daycare closures is one of the covered reasons. Seems like, at least in our organization, they’re looking for every loophole and reason not to offer it. So I’m kinda just expecting it will hit me in the performance reviews, especially as in the only parent in my group without a stay at home spouse. I hope you have better luck!

      1. Nita*

        I suspect I’d have the same result if I applied – no one in my department has taken the leave, and this is probably why. How are you dealing with the 25 hours of work as far as clocking in goes? Are you considered part-time and not required to put in 40 hours for now? I’m considering this option… our hours got cut to 32 a week, but that’s still 6-7 hours a day!

        1. Work-life unbalanced*

          I’m salaried and don’t have to clock in. My boss said we could be flexible about when we get the work done, which sounds good in theory, but it hasn’t lessened the expectation for how much is done. Even when his kids were younger, he wasn’t the primary or equal parent so doesn’t even get it. That’s been one of the more frustrating things – even with my friends who are managers and without children. “Can’t you work when they go to bed or nap?” just isn’t sustainable for more than a week or two, especially with an active child who can’t be left alone. It takes every spare minute they’re asleep to just feed, clothe, and clean ourselves enough to make it to the next day. That’s why it seems like it’s only a matter of time before I’m put on a PIP or laid off.

  39. Viola*

    Hi, are there any other BIPOC in the open thread today? I was talking to another friend about everything happening this week with the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and like, on top of the pandemic, this has all been so much.

    I’m stuck in this horrible mindset of knowing that I feel mentally exhausted but still needing to prove to everyone that I’m working. My new boss tries to be “woke” (her words, not mine) as a white person, but is completely clueless as to why I feel so hurt and tired. I think it’s just an unconscious afterthought for her. She asked if I could cheer her up because she was having a bad day as well. I ended up logging off after sending her a recommendation to watch the good place and hope she feels better. I have a senior coworker who is also black and messaged me “Don’t worry, just take care of yourself today.” I felt seen and just let out a sigh of relief.

    Anyways, just sending out solidarity for any other BIPOC folks out here right now, and also for those who are exhausted and dealing with this as well. <3

    1. Generic Name*

      Ugh. I’m so sorry your “woke” boss is asking you to do emotional labor for her, especially now. It’s not cool in “normal times” and even worse now. I’m so sorry you are exhausted. It’s not fair. (And is it just me, or are the folks who like to brag about being “woke” are the same ones who like to say they “don’t see color” or “I have black friends”? Just no.)

    2. NapkinThief*

      Here with you. Exhausted is exactly how I feel.

      The only saving grace is that I’m out on maternity leave right now, so I haven’t had to deal with my coworkers’ responses yet. Not looking forward to going back in 2 weeks.

      Take care of yourself. I asked my husband to put a password protected 10 minute limit on Facebook for me (Screen Time for Apple users) because processing my own feelings along with everyone else’s on my
      Timeline was just too much.

    3. Blueberry*

      I hear you, my sister. I so hear you.

      In another discussion here, a commenter, said that political posts “make me feel, as a White man, like a monster”, or words to that effect. What I wanted to say in that discussion and what I’ll say commiseratively to you, is that being a queer Black woman in the US makes me feel like a game animal wondering what the bag limit is.

      All we can do, I guess, is try to take care of ourselves and each other, and to remember that we are human beings no matter what anyone says.

      I send you big hugs from a small squishy person.

      1. Generic Name*

        White people need to sit with the guilt and shame they feel and work to dismantle the white suprematist system they created.

    4. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      I am sorry that our backward country is so terrible to you every single day. It’s heartbreaking and unconscionable. I can’t understand it. Please do just take care of yourself this weekend.

    5. SophieChotek*

      Viola, I send you hugs and hope you can find some calm and support! I’m sorry your boss wants you to comfort her.

      I live in the Twin Cities, though not near the epicenter, though several businesses I drive by/frequent (near me) have been struck/vandalized/looted last night.

      I’m Asian, but you know what most struck me – a friend of mine from CA, who is also a WOC, was sweet and reached out to me see if I was okay.

      I think many of us were already feeling overhwlemed/exhausted in this pandemic world…this just added so much more. To see yet another example of this systematic injustice…

    6. allathian*

      I’m so sorry, you have my sympathy. That’s all I can offer, because as a white woman in northern Europe I have no idea what you’re really going through on a daily basis. But asking you to cheer her up? That’s like asking a recent widow to cheer her neighbor up because they feel bad when they just heard she lost her husband.

  40. LivingMyLife*

    Before COVID-19 closures my son worked for a public library and was furloughed several weeks after his library closed. He is on unemployment now and will be moving to another state. He will be looking for a job once he gets there, but isn’t sure if he can continue being on unemployment while living in a different state. He will have to give a notice once his library decides to reopen – will that affect his unemployment?

    1. WellRed*

      He can continue to collect while in a different state (he’ll still collect it from the current state). Once he’s offered his job back though, I’m not sure happens. Maybe they’ll lay him off anyway? I bet lots of library budgets will be cut.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      As I understand if he is offered his job back and declines it than he may lose unemployment benefits. I would speak with the unemployment office about this, because I’m not sure if work “out of state” would qualify as an exemption, especially if the move was voluntary. As for if the unemployment continues, I believe it does. Again, I’d contact your local unemployment folks, because these rules vary state to state.

  41. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My spouse was informed yesterday, about 3pm, that they are being sent on a business trip to the other end of the country. For two weeks. Leaving Monday. This would be irksome enough in Normal Days, but under the current circumstances… what the fresh hell.

    1. Jaid*

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. That must be some fire your spouse is being asked to put out. If it ain’t a raging inferno, then what a waste.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Iit does seem to be a significant issue, at least. It’s one of those things where, in Normal Days, the short notice would be annoying, but the fact that Spouse is noticed by (way) higher-ups and is being pulled in to solve someone else’s problem in an entirely different division because of Spouse’s accomplishments and knowledge would ameliorate that somewhat.

        As it is, Spouse is pretty irked about being sent across the country while the world is melting, AND will be hammering on the part about “Y’all needed me to fly cross-country and save someone else’s butt in the middle of a pan-damn-demic with no flipping notice because nobody else in the company could do it” in their next review.

  42. cmcinnyc*

    Last week I was here complaining about a woman I work with in a side project and how frustrated I was with her lack of timeliness/poor adaptation to working online vs. in person. Mostly I was told to chill. Deep breaths, etc. OMG this past week, though…

    Her part in the project is mostly finished on Monday and I cannot wait to see the back of her. This morning I have sent two urgent corrections to emails she sent that were so confusing they both led to multiple panicked replies from people who couldn’t figure out when they were scheduled or if the long-confirmed schedule had suddenly changed or the hours had shifted or WHAT. Basically, she can’t do written grammar. When she speaks, we all understand her just fine. When she writes, we have no idea what the hell she means. I am just so stressed doing my job AND cleaning up the confusion in her wake!

    But I heard the *chill* message last week and I am really trying–really trying–to stay cheerful and calm in all my interactions, be it written or on a Zoom call, as if *of course* this is all going to work out great. And it will. Because I will do two people’s jobs to see that it does! And my full-time job! She isn’t working now except for this side project but I can’t have her pick up more slack because she’s a chaos machine. So be it. Breathing. Calm. Meditation. Breathing some more.

  43. Taway*

    My husband took an unpaid leave for 2 weeks due to the pandemic (I am high risk, his retail workplace wasn’t taking good precautions, and the stress of worrying about bringing it home was badly affecting his mental health).

    Since returning they slashed his hours from (just under) fulltime to two weeks with only 2 days a week and now up to 4 days a week. They also wrote him up for not maintaining his area of the store when he was only in 2 days a week and refused to really discuss the issue with him. He’s concerned they’re trying to push him out. It’s hard not to see this as retaliatory after he took his leave.

    He is searching for other jobs but it’s just so discouraging. I don’t know how else to help and I don’t really know id there’s advice I can ask for, but I need a space to vent.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      Make sure he is documenting everything, just in case. Dates, notes, people he’s talked to.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Sorry to hear this, especially now. I was a retail manager, and if I had to guess, I would say that they are indeed trying to push him out. Quite frankly, all the documentation in the world (on his part) really isn’t going to help. Even if he could find an employment lawyer to take his case, the matter won’t be resolved for quite some time, and even then, maybe not in your favor. It sounds like he is not actually full-time. Otherwise, they are legally obligated to schedule him for full-time hours, which is at least 35 or 36 hours per week in my state. If he is indeed part-time, they can schedule him for 5 hours a week if they want, and he really has no recourse as far as I know. I think he’s doing what he should be….looking for employment elsewhere. The company has shown that they don’t value employee safety or his prior contributions. Best to move on if he can.

    3. xxxx*

      in my state you can get get some unemployment $ when your hours are significantly reduced. worth applying for but don’t count on it.

  44. pandemic pumpernickel princess*

    Unemployment etiquette question!
    I’m in grad school, and accepted a paid summer internship offer that was rescinded due to COVID-19. Now that the semester is over, I’m in the process of applying for unemployment/PUA.
    My question is: do I need to notify the would-be employer that I’m applying? My partner recently got into hot water for applying for unemployment after he was furloughed without telling his boss about it first (a different messy work situation that has since been resolved). I want to maintain good professional standing at the place I would have been working, as they are a statewide organization that does a good amount of hiring in my field. I would love to pursue full time work with them after finishing grad school.
    Any tips on how to handle this?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I have never notified a former employer that I was filing for unemployment. (Have filed in NYS and in CA) The company gets notified by the state agency, of course. My husband processes unemployment claims for the (very) small biz he works for and sometimes people say, “Hey I’m filing” but more often they don’t. My guess is the “getting in hot water” is more because his filing revealed something shady his company was doing, rather than him violating some well-known etiquette of unemployment. What would they have said to him if he’d given them the heads up? Don’t file?

    2. Natalie*

      I’m not sure why an employer would expect you to notify them before applying. They know who they’ve laid of, furloughed, or pulled offers from and they should expect those people to apply for UI. Your partner’s workplace sounds unreasonable. (Did they say why they were upset? Just curious.)

      1. pandemic pumpernickel princess*

        This was at the start of the pandemic, and I don’t think his employer expected things to last longer than a week or two. They claimed that it cost them money to put him on UI, which is strange because they should have been paying unemployment taxes already for an on-the-books employee (according to my understanding of how UI works, others please feel free to fill me in if I’m wrong on this). I don’t think they were shady, but they did have a lot of other issues unrelated to the pandemic. I’m so glad I’ve been reading this site and was able to reassure him that the employer was the one being weird! (And that he should quit, and he did.)

        1. Flyleaf*

          Their UI rate depends on how many former employees file for unemployment. The more filings, the greater the cost. They know that if they lay someone off, their UI rate is likely to be dinged. They were probably hoping that the former employee would suck it up, thinking it was just for a short time.

    3. Pumpa Rumpa*

      I don’t think you are eligible for unemployment. You never worked for the employer.

      1. WellRed*

        I wondered that, too. In normal times, she definitely wouldn’t qualify. I don’t know how it works in this case but I’m sure someone else here will.

        1. Annony*

          The CARES Act does allow people who have job offers pulled due to coronavirus to apply for unemployement. I don’t know whether the fact that it is an internship affects anything. I would suggest talking to someone at your school about whether it is worth it to try to collect unemployment. I doubt that they expect a summer intern to apply for unemployment and I don’t know if that will affect their perception of you going forward.

          1. pandemic pumpernickel princess*

            All good points in the comments above. I should clarify that this is a short-term, seasonal position that I had intended to use as an internship, but never got around to formalizing the relationship between the employer and the school before the pandemic hit. My partner’s work situation definitely made me feel a little skittish about applying UI/PUA, but these comments have confirmed my feelings that his employer was being unreasonable. My field has been hard hit by the pandemic, and I can imagine that many other people who took similar positions to mine have been applying to UI as well. Only one way to find out if I qualify!

          2. Flyleaf*

            I wonder if rescinding a job offer, resulting in a UI claim, will impact a company’s UI costs the same way as an old fashioned layoff?

      2. button*

        Eligibility for unemployment has been temporarily expanded due to the pandemic and having a job offer rescinded qualifies.

    4. WellRed*

      They rescinded your offer. You do not work for them. There is no relationship. There is nothing to tell. Also, your partner’s company is ridiculous (and I wonder if there was something shady going on there, like they hadn’t been paying UI taxes or something).

      1. pandemic pumpernickel princess*

        Aha! I was reading up on UI taxes earlier and this comment has me wondering if something is up. If so, he no longer works there, so a very not-my-circus-not-my-clown-car situation now.

    5. AnnieMay*

      No. Unemployment doesn’t care about a job you never had. This has nothing to do with them

  45. trying to strike a balance*

    There is someone on my team whose contract is coming to an end at the end of July. She (Jane) is covering for an employee who has been on extended medical leave (Sally). It was a 1 year contract so we could have some overlap before and after Sally’s leave. Sally recently called and told me she’s not planning to return. It’s not official yet, so I’m not going to do anything until she’s put it in writing but it sounds like a done deal.

    My problem? Jane is NOT the right fit for this job. She’s gotten into conflicts with nearly everyone (including me, her manager, senior employees, junior employees, another contractor). This is a senior position in our company but she isn’t able to deliver on some of the basics I would expect of even a less senior person. She has also exercised some terrible judgment that I think shows a lack of integrity (taking credit for another person’s work x2, attempting to throw me under the bus when something didn’t go smoothly thinking I wouldn’t find out). I’ve addressed the issues directly and have seen her working better with others, but she just still isn’t able to improve on her work performance and I don’t think I’m capable of training her to perform where we need her. Since she was a contractor and I knew there was an end date on her contract, I decided to stick it out until Sally returned because, although she isn’t performing where I needed her, I was able to get some productive work from her and have picked up the slack myself because it didn’t make sense to try to hire someone for just a few months.

    My plan is to find a permanent replacement for Sally, and that person isn’t Jane.

    Here is my question… at what point do I tell her I won’t be extending her contract? I want to give her as much notice as I can to be a kind person given the economic situation but I am fairly sure she will respond very poorly when I tell her. I’m afraid I’ll lose any commitment to getting things done in the remaining 2-ish months of her contract.

    Does anyone have any advice?

    1. juliebulie*

      Can you end her contract early if her performance becomes [more] unsatisfactory? If so, tell her whenever you like. Maybe a month before her contract ends. If she leaves early, it doesn’t sound as though you’d be missing out on much.

      1. trying to strike a balance*

        I could but I guess what I’m hoping for is I give her say 2 months (or more) notice to give her lots of time to find something (the job market is so crappy) while I look for a permanent replacement.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Okay, that’s thoughtful of you, but the deal is “I give you plenty of time to find new work, and then while you’re here you keep doing good work.” If you give her plenty of notice and she repays that by not doing her work at all, then it’s perfectly reasonable to let her go.

          It should go without saying, but if you’re concerned you could address it upfront. She gets to stay and work out her contract, as long as she’s actually working.

    2. WellRed*

      I think you should be telling her as soon as you confirm Sally isn’t coming back and end her contract early if she drops the ball.

    3. Mama Bear*

      Is there an amount of notice required in the contract? If she basically stopped doing her job after being told, is there any recourse for you to end it early?

      1. trying to strike a balance*

        there’s only two weeks notice required (it’s twice the legal notice we’d owe if she were an employee – HR decided that).

        If she started dropping the ball entirely, we’d probably just end it but I’d be without coverage for longer. I’m hoping to give her ample notice so she can start looking, I can start looking, and in the meantime I have some coverage and she has been given lots of notice.

    4. irene adler*

      Not disagreeing with the above advice about telling her early so that she can find other employment. Or cut her loose if she doesn’t perform properly.

      Just wondering: if you don’t say anything to Jane ahead of time, and Jane finds out you are actively working to find her replacement, what kind of fallout is there likely to be? Will this be manageable? It’s very seldom that a clandestine employee search remains that way. Folks talk; Jane may spy a job posting.

      1. trying to strike a balance*

        There’s a chance the details will get out but I’ve successfully done confidential hires here in the past using a recruiter.

        I would likely get away with conducting a search without telling her but I would rather be open with her… she’s not a great fit and there have been problems, but I’d still like to give her the best shot possible to find her next role.

        1. irene adler*

          I sure hope Jane will appreciate the concern you have for her situation. I think it’s wonderful you are concerned-esp. given the issues with Jane.
          Not every employer/boss has such concerns for their reports-esp. contract workers.

  46. Partner's a Starving Artist and we're Starving*

    Good morning! I’m hoping that one or some of you have experience with this type of situation. My partner is in a creative field that has been hit hard by the transition of media online, etc. I don’t want to give too many specifics, because he’ll be potentially identifiable, as he was one of the best and most recognized in his field. He was laid off prior to COVID, partly because of industry changes and partly because, while he is a fantastic artist, he is not great with people. He hasn’t been able to find another job, and has never had to freelance because of his prior success. I have given him Alison’s amazing materials to help, but there just isn’t anything out there. He also is getting more and more passive and has kind of given up. This has been devastating for him/us, financially, but his unemployment, the resulting depression and worthlessness that he is feeling, and the pandemic has been outrageously stressful on our relationship, during a year where I am recovering from significant health challenges. I am working hard not to overfunction for him, but my questions are these:
    – Are there ways that creative professionals freelance or find gigs or jobs, that wouldn’t be obvious to others of us in more traditional professions?
    – Any thoughts about how I can maintain my own balance and boundaries, while supporting him?

    1. schnauzerfan*

      Would there be a way he could just continue to be a creative person and subcontract out the people parts? Maybe find a web/marketing person and pay them on commission? They get say x percent of sales…

    2. cmcinnyc*

      Unfortunately, creative industries are heavily, heavily about networking. Recommendations and references are huge. It is so hard to network when depressed. (Is it even possible? Anything is possible. But it’s edging toward impossible.) If your city/state offers any kind of free phone counseling, grab it, separately and together. He needs help to get out of depression and reach out to his network. If he was successful, he has one.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        The worst part about networking and job-hunting when you’re depressed is that trying to ~sell yourself~ and present yourself as the most *awesome* person in the room feels like a nauseating, soul-crushing lie.

        1. Partner's a Starving Artist and we're Starving*

          It’s so true that it’s terribly difficult to do all of these things when you feel cruddy. He definitely has a network, but I think that he’s forgetting about them, because he feels so badly about himself and is embarrassed. I don’t know that he realizes there are so many people in the same boat. And, a lot of people have offered to help him…once things open up again. It’s hard to know what that will look like. Fortunately, he’s not a jerk, he’s just awkward and shy, so at least we don’t have to worry about that!

          I really appreciate the responses on this! It’s helpful to write it all out.

    3. 867-5309*

      Do you mean creative as in – creative director/graphic artist/copywriter or author/painter/sculptor?

      If the former, network on LinkedIn (I know, still networking) with other freelancers in tangentially related fields (public relations, marketing, media buying) who want to sub-contract work. He doesn’t work directly with a client but with them and they send projects his way that are outside their capabilities. It lets them offer a more complete portfolio of services and he doesn’t have to deal with the business-side headaches of people management.

      As for the other, if he’s a visual artist, tap small businesses to see if they need a chalkboard artist and when things resume, work on commissions to do things for events and corporate offices.

    4. NaoNao*


      He can TEACH. Not just “his” field, but teach classes on:

      The creative process in general

      Networking for creatives

      Money management for creatives

      His process in a general sense—capitalize on that fame! So for example, while let’s say “radio shows” aren’t much of a thing anymore, he can still talk about research, crafting story beats, editing, sound mixing, dealing with creative needs and clients, and so on. He can spin these out into a class each.

      Lessons learned—take the transferable skills, whatever they are, and do a class on that. So let’s say “radio show”—he does a class on interviews. One on journalism in a changing age. One on dealing with celebs and talent and the “Hollywood machine” (or whatever). He does history of the industry classes. You get the idea!

      Expertise around specific tools and process, especially if they are esoteric. So does he know how to use a manual camera or older/outdated film stock? Maybe he knows how to screen print etc.

      I had a friend who owned her own store and majored in fashion. She wound up closing the store and was at loose ends. She did a seminar at our local college, and has built it into a department, complete with semester abroad trips based on fashion!!

      He can also do a podcast or YouTube channel just talking about his career, highs and lows, war stories, etc. Look at Joe Rogan! He’s not doing his MMA referee stuff but he is for sure coasting on that fame and he talks about being a comedian, hosting tv, the sports world, etc all the time on his podcast.

      1. valentine*

        I don’t know that he can teach without people skills.

        If he is only looking for creative jobs, that ship has sailed. Perhaps you were happy to “starve” previously, but this is a wake-up call to shore up your finances when you can so you can weather future storms. He should look for jobs with the goal of bringing in max money with minimal hit to his mental health, and talk to a therapist about why his self-worth is so embedded in starving artistry. Well-paid artistry would be different, though you still don’t want to be work-identified.

        And good for you for not taking on the job search for him.

    5. Purrscilla*

      I work in video games, which is a creative field, and as an industry it’s doing ok at the moment. We are able to work from home and there’s a huge market for digital entertainment (which is mostly purchased online).

      Anyway, I don’t know exactly what your husband does, but if he can translate his skillset to something in the digital entertainment realm he might be able find something. I only know video games, but the industry hires concept artists, 3D modellers, animators, visual effects artists, UI designers, sound effects designers, music composers, writers, and a bunch of other things.

  47. whoopsie daisy*

    Lesson learned from this week: if your internet connection is shaky, and your audio drops out when you get “Trying to reconnect” messages from your videoconferencing platform, and you scream profanities at your computer the fourth time it happens while a coworker is speaking to you…

    …do not assume that just because you cannot hear *them* that they cannot hear *you.*

    1. Kathenus*

      OK this doesn’t help that problem, but when I see any sign of my connection getting shaky I immediately disconnect and reconnect quickly and I’ve found that it is much more seamless than having to try to deal with it once things have frozen up or I get the ‘reconnect’ messages. Just a PSA in case it helps others, it’s definitely been a useful workaround for me.

  48. JB*

    Tech help needed! I have two issues (laptop to monitors & Zoom on ipad)…

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!!

    I have a new-to-me laptop and I need to connect two monitors to it. I don’t want to use the laptop as a third display. My corporate tech support is overwhelmed, so I thought I would post here. Laptop is Thinkpad T530 w/ Windows 10. Ports are Mini DVI, VGA, USB 3, and IE1394. Monitor 1 is HP27ER with 2 HDMI and 1 VGA. Monitor 2 is HPV270, ports are VGA, Dual link DVI, and HDMI. I have two hubs. First one has 2 USB 3.0 ports, PD charging ports, 4K HDMI video output, and SD/TF Card Reader. The second has 3-in-1 Type C Hub with Ethernet,4K USB C to 2 HDMI,VGA,2 USB3.0, 2 USB2.0,79W PD 3.0,SD/TF Cards Reader.

    I’ve tried google, but either I’m too confused or I’m not finding what I need. So now I have a bunch of ports and a bunch of cables and a bunch of anxiety and still can only use the laptop display.

    My second question is regarding Zoom. I’m using it on my ipad, which stays plugged into it’s original power cord & brick. For the past few days it has been draining my battery even when it’s not running. I was on calls for about 5 hours yesterday and when I was done, I was at 30% battery life. I logged out of Zoom and turned off the ipad overnight. I came back this morning with 8% battery, even though it showed to be charging. No apps are open in the background and the battery info says Zoom is being used. Anyone else have this? I’m just going to delete and re-install, but thought I’d ask.

    Even if you can’t help, thanks for reading and please stay safe!



    1. Annie Moose*

      With regards to the second: are you actually closing the Zoom app, or just switching out of it? If it’s running in the background, then you need to be sure to actually exit the app.

      1. JB*

        Actually exiting.

        I make sure I have no apps running in the background each day before I close my office door. Odd habit, I know.

    2. Mater Sgt Mjr*

      Reset the iPad
      – Hold down on the Sleep and Home buttons at the same time for about 10-15 seconds until the Apple Logo appears – ignore the red slider – let go of the buttons. (This is equivalent to rebooting your computer.)
      – Unplug the charger from the iPad and then replug. May resume charging.

      Also you might want to check to see if the ipad is running Optimized Battery Charging (a feature under iPadOS and iOS 13), where your iPhone waits at an 80% charge until the last hour before you normally use it. This is much better for battery life since too much time spent at 100% reduces your maximum capacity.

      If you have iPadOS or iOS 13, turn the feature on in the Battery Health section of your Battery settings. A notification appears on the lock screen when you’re using Optimized Battery Charging. You can tap this notification at any time to turn it off.

    3. Brownie*

      Monitor 1 to laptop = HDMI directly, monitor 2 to laptop = hub 1 USB to HDMI. That will let the laptop see both monitors as separate monitors at which point you can use the display settings on the laptop to tell it that if monitor 1 is hooked up use it as the primary monitor (will turn off the laptop display) and if monitor 2 is hooked up to use it as the secondary.

    4. ddd*

      For the monitors, I’d suggest connecting one to the laptop’s VGA port with a VGA to VGA cable and one to the laptop’s mini-DisplayPort (mini-DVI exists, but it was never used on Thinkpads) with a mini-DP to HDMI cable.

      (Regarding the hubs, a T530 is too old to use video output from the USB-C hub and video output from the USB-A hub would require DisplayLink drivers to be installed, which in turn would require tech support to be involved.)

  49. Pink Lemonade*

    Hi! Is anyone here routinely tasked with reviewing other people’s work? What happens when it starts to interfere with your own work? Is there a way you can push back, while still being a team player?

    I’ve been in my new role for about eight months and it’s going well so far. I get along great with my manager and the rest of my team. However, a new girl joined a couple months ago, and she is frequently asking me to review her work. If it was just a quick glance over for typos or something, that would be fine, but these are lengthy, detailed documents that typically require me to set aside a good chunk of time to properly review.

    Since our entire team has shifted to working remotely, I’ve sometimes struggled to maintain the same levels of productivity as I did before the pandemic. Being asked 2-3 times a week to put my work aside and focus on someone else’s has become distracting and stressful. Once I said I was too busy, and could she please ask someone else, which she was fine with. However, her requests keep coming.

    My workplace culture isn’t particularly formal, so I haven’t actually been instructed by my manager to regularly review her work. I feel conflicted about bringing this up, because I want to be a team player and maintain a good relationship with my manager/coworkers, but these requests are increasingly interfering with my own work. Should I raise this issue with my manager, or just suck it up and continue to review her work?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      “No.” is a complete sentence, lol.

      Seriously, though – tell her an edited version of what you told us. “Since we’re working remotely, I need to make sure I am focusing on my own work. I won’t be able to continue checking your work, as I have in the past. Is there someone else you can partner with until you feel confident your work?”

      If it continues, bring it up with your manager in the same way. “Susan asks me 2-3 times a week to review her work. It’s beginning to impact my productivity pretty severely. Is there someone else I can direct her to?”

      It might also be worth asking if she would benefit from re-training or continued learning. Nicely, of course.

      1. Generic Name*

        I wouldn’t assume she needs more training because she has others review her work. My company has a very robust Quality Control process, and not a single document goes out our doors without being reviewed at least once. Even the CEO has someone review what she writes before she releases something. Nobody is perfect.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          I figured that because the request for review seemed informal, it wasn’t part of some assigned process. Otherwise I would have expected OP to classify the reviewing as part of their normal work load.

          But you’re correct. It was more of a second or third-tier suggestion.

    2. Generic Name*

      I review other people’s work, and our process is the person who needs a review sends an email a week to a few days’ out to a handful of people who do reviews. Usually at least 1 person volunteers. I go through periods where I absolutely do not have time to review anyone’s work to other times when I’m totally open and can review for anyone who asks. Keep saying no each time she asks if you truly can’t. I’d also loop your manager in on how to fairly distribute the workload of reviewing. The answer may be to shift some of your other work around to others so you have time to review. Or it may be that others should be asked to review before you. You can absolutely still say no and be a team player.

    3. OtterB*

      In general, it’s not unreasonable to ask your manager, “Is this a way you want me to be spending my time?”

      If your manager wants you to do it and you would rather not, that’s a different issue.

    4. Alice*

      It sounds like you’ve said no one time, she was fine with it, and you’re disappointed that she’s asking again.
      I think that if you want her to stop asking you, or to reduce the frequency with which she asks you, or to identify specific things to check rather than saying “here’s a long document; please check it all” — talk to her about it.
      I’d be ticked off (internally) if a colleague went to my boss first instead of telling me, were I the new girl in this situation.
      Actually let me clarify: if I were the new girl and you went to our boss saying “I’ve been spending some time helping new girl, but I think I need to keep all/most of my time for my own projects” — fine. If you went to our boss saying “Can you get new girl to stop asking me for help because she’s asking me for too much” then I’d be grumpy.

    5. CheeryO*

      I have the same sort of work environment and have sort of fallen into that trap in the past with newer coworkers. I’d push back more firmly next time she asks, then take it to your manager if the requests don’t stop. That’s a lot of additional work for someone who you aren’t being paid to supervise.

    6. Fikly*

      It sounds like you aren’t being tasked to review her work, but you’re being asked by her as a favor, essentially.

      Talk to your manager, but phrase it as, I’m happy to help review x, but it’s taking time away from y. What should be my priority? That way, you’re both a team player, and responsible about your regular responsibilities.

    7. Annony*

      You need to decide what you are willing to do first. Can you review documents if it is her first time doing it but expect her to do it on her own after that? Do you have time for specific questions but not to read the entire thing? Figure out a reasonable boundary and stick to it. Maybe ask your boss what she expects from you if you are unsure.

      Tell her that you do not have time to routinely review her work and what you are willing to do instead. “Unfortunately I am swamped and don’t have time to regularly review these documents for you. If there is a particular section you are unsure about I would be happy to look that part over, but if you need something more extensive you should ask Manager.”

    8. baconeggandcheeseplz*

      I’m not sure what kind of reviewing she’s asking you to do or if you interact with these documents normally, but would it make sense for you to put together a checklist of best practices to be mindful of as she’s creating these documents? A checklist or guideline might be helpful in reducing a lot of the detailed reviewing and help her narrow down what she truly needs help on.

      There are a lot of reasons why this wouldn’t make sense based on your job/team, but maybe something along these lines can be a suggestion to your boss if/when you talk to them about this to show that you’re trying to be a team player.

    9. Tessera Member 042*

      Another alternative that I use with students when I’m very busy is to tell them I only have time to review X # of pages, or 1 section, and ask them to give me just that part. If you have the time to do a little bit she can use as a model for the rest, that might be a good way to start weaning her off of depending on your reviews.

  50. Hat Anon*

    My team was talking about how to spend our morale budget while remote, and came up with a secret santa hat exchange – we’ll be assigned a coworker, send them a funny hat (reimbursed by the company), and open them together on a video call. I’m so excited for this. (And yes it’s optional, though everyone opted in.)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love this and think it would be so great to get a random funny hat.

    2. new kid*

      The fact that it’s so specific (everyone buys a silly hat) makes this way better than secret santas that are more open imo. Everyone knows exactly what to expect, no one will feel shortchanged because they bought something ‘nice’ but ended up with something ‘cheap’, and who DOESN’T need a silly hat in their life right now?

      tl;dr – love it!

    3. JustaTech*

      Oh, may I borrow this idea?
      I’ve been trying to come up with remote social activities since I really don’t think we’re having any parties this year (and the rest of the social committee just looks so very sad when I say that I feel like I’ve got to have a peppy idea to follow it, and I’m not a peppy idea person).

      Maybe we could do it with socks and everyone just sends in a picture to post on the internal site.

      1. Hat Anon*

        Nothing would bring me more pleasure than hearing that another team did a secret santa hat exchange or anything inspired by it. Socks would be fun and probably cheaper than hats!

    4. Clisby*

      A morale budget? Is this something special for remote workers, or is there always a morale budget? (My morale was much higher when I worked remotely, so I don’t think I’d have needed something to cheer me up.)

      1. Hat Anon*

        We always have a discretionary morale budget. I’m a software engineer at a good-sized company, not google levels of size or perks but I guess it’s still easier to let teams organize their own stuff part of the time. Some of what we’ve used it for is an extra long lunch as a restaurant with a patio last summer, an escape room, and an afternoon at a barcade.

        I do wish they would give us more morale budget now that they’re saving so much on office snacks! We want to do a coordinated team lunch but individual meal delivery is a lot more expensive per head than going to a restaurant.

        1. Beatrice*

          This probably wouldn’t work for a coordinated team meal, but if you want to gift a meal to employees, my company did coupons for family-size takeout meals from a local grocery (that also does prepared food). The cost was reasonable, and it was a nice surprise.

  51. rainbowsquare*

    I have a really fancy education from private high school to college. Which is wonderful, but working in a workplace with people of varying backgrounds (some who haven’t finished high school) can make it challenging. I do the same job as everyone else, I am not their boss. I am also not snobby or fancy in the slightest. I shop at discount stores and I budget hard.

    I am not a rich kid. Where I live this kind of education used to be more accessible to the middle class in my day than it is today.

    How do you cope with people finding out where you studied and making fun of it or assuming certain things about you? I tend to just laugh it off but it is cringeworthy sometimes and I wonder if it sometimes negatively impacts on how people see me.

    1. Generic Name*

      How are people finding out where you went to high school? Do you talk about it at all, or have your diploma or degree on your wall? I don’t know where any of my coworkers went to high school, and I don’t know where most of my coworkers went to college. If others bring it up or ask, I’d deflect and say, “just a small school in City or State” or whatever. I think you are responding the best you can by laughing it off. You might even say, “yeah, I’ve been pretty lucky” or something. You can’t control others’ assumptions, but you can control how you act. Keep being normal and treat everyone the same.

        1. WellRed*

          In that case, I’d have a stock answer and then change the subject. As to people who make fun of you, well, I’ll never understand people who look down on education (including my brother).

        1. rainbowsquare*

          Some of it is trying to see if you know the same people, like you’re a certain age and your co workers cousin is a certain age did you go to the same school.

          Other times people are just curious and ask heaps of personal questions of which where did you go to school is just one of many.

          1. Fikly*

            Sure, but you don’t have to answer. Or you don’t have to answer specifically.

            I mean, I don’t know where you live, but surely there are many many potential options for college, when you consider that in many places, people travel for school? Even better, if most people stayed local, you can just answer that you went away to go to school, or to x country/state/area.

            1. pancakes*

              This is pretty weird to me. I think it would be unusually intense or shifty to answer a question from a coworker about where you went to school with “I’d rather not say” or whatnot. And saying that you went to an area rather than simply specifying seems weirder to me than just answering. fwiw I also went to a pretty fancy private high school, but (and?) I don’t think having this sort of education needs to treated as an embarrassing secret.

              1. allathian*

                No, it shouldn’t. But unfortunately some people make assumptions about you based on where you went to school, and that can be a hassle the OP wants to avoid…

                1. pancakes*

                  I understand that, but I think declining to answer would make the situation more rather than less awkward / uncomfortable. People don’t need to have a fancy education to know when a simple question they’ve asked is being dodged.

          2. Mily*

            Are you from St Louis? I’ve heard people there are identified by which high school they went to pretty much until they die.

    2. Hi there*

      This happens to me a lot. Sometimes I head it off by saying that my education makes me sound like I grew up wealthy, but nope. Or I might say “I was lucky to go to Harvard/Yale/Princeton” or “I went to Harvard/Yale/Princeton and my dad is still bitter I didn’t become rich after that.” Most of the time though there is nothing I can do about their assumptions.

    3. Blueberry*

      Ahahaha this reminds me of when I was attending (an Ivy League) college and a friend of mine dispiritedly commented, “When people ask us what school we go to, we should just respond ‘f**k you’, it would save time.”

      If Where We Went To School comes up I try to say, “I went to school in X town” rather than the name. OTOH, occasionally I need to use where I went to school as a bludgeon to get through to someone who assumes my visible demographics mean I’m stupid, so there is that. I don’t think there’s a perfect solution — people will choose to be jerks no matter what one does. Good luck, and I feel your pain.

      1. emmelemm*

        I also have said “I went to school in X city/state” when I’ve felt that saying I went to a prestigious institution would cause an outsize reaction (either positive or negative – sometimes positive can be a bit much too).

        I am not now, nor was my family, rich, and I don’t have a particularly prestigious job, and I don’t really care.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          Wasn’t there a line in a Crazy Ex Girlfriend song about saying you “went to school in boston” to cover up harvard is worse than saying harvard?

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t know if this is helpful: When they make fun of it, is it exclusionary “We’re picking on *you* in particular, rainbowsquare”?

      Or is it “We’re comfortable with you and our group dynamic is to make fun of each other?”

      1. rainbowsquare*

        It is a case that where I live it is common to mock anything fancy. It’s not aimed at me in particular but it’s also not friends jesting. It’s just a cultural habit of mocking anything fancy or uppity.

        1. ...*

          Sounds unpleasant. Why go to a prestigious place if you can’t even be proud of it or share it with anyone? Co workers don’t sound very kind.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, this doesn’t happen often, but even if it happens once a year it’s still awkward and can change how people see you for a while.

      The worst was when someone I had worked with for a year found out and suddenly backed off. “I don’t know anyone who went to Llamatown.” YOU KNOW ME, YOU DIPSTICK.

      I tend not to talk about it because it’s so rarely relevant, but people do get weird if it does come up (it’s rare here because of geography – other institutions which are similarly prestigious but closer don’t attract the same kind of attention). It’s all about exposure, I guess, like if you work in a hospital you meet loads of people who went to medical school even if you aren’t a doctor yourself, so you don’t find it remarkable even while you recognise its prestige.

      I tend to be very casual about it, probably erring on the side of self-deprecation. If you don’t make it a thing, generally other people don’t.

      The one aside is that people can mistake your ambitions, that a Llamatown grad *must* want to be a manager/team lead/director and *couldn’t possibly* be satisfied with a mid-level Teapot Lid Aligner position for any length of time, let alone for a career. It can be worthwhile talking up how your position suits you, and even more so if your education is actually directly relevant, eg you majored in ceramic dynamics.

    6. MayLou*

      I have a similar situation, although because all courses in the UK cost the same (as long as they’re the same length and you’re not at one of the very few private universities) and student loans are much more reasonable, it’s less seen as an indication of my economic background. I tend not to talk about where I studied unless directly asked, and then try to answer with the exact same tone as I’d use when answering which university I got my Masters from (a much less prestigious one).

      It’s impossible to predict who is going to be weird about it and who won’t, so I’ve stopped trying. I just remind myself that any strange reaction is about them, not about me, and try not to care what conclusions they draw.

    7. Gumby*

      “I went to school in [city / state / area].” – though it looks silly if they ask for further clarification and you refuse to give more details. So this is just good for when they ask for conversational purposes but don’t really care. It may work or may not.

      Live near the fancy schmancy school – everyone will be more likely to know multiple people who went there and won’t see it as that much of an outlier. I still live within 20 miles of my university. Here, very few people care. They know *tons* of [school] grads and it’s no big deal. I go elsewhere? The reactions are different. Also, do not, under any circumstances, let your brother-in-law know where you went because any minor mistake you made is “ooooh, and that from a [school] grad.” (Maybe that is just *my* BIL…) (He’s actually pretty cool overall. But that quirk is annoying. I don’t play up my alma mater like that makes me any different than someone who attended a less well-known college, or none at all, and it irks me when other people do.)

    8. A*

      I’m in a similar boat – it doesn’t come up often, but at least once with every new manager/employer. Once I inform them I went to school on full merit scholarships it tends to quiet them down – but it’s unfortunate that it even needs to be ‘defended’.

  52. Mimmy*

    The question earlier this week about flexibility made me think about my own struggles with flexibility. I’m hoping y’all could help me out with a couple of questions.

    In my current job, I’m often complemented on being “so flexible”. Which I get is a very employable attribute. I also take a little pride in it because I was not always this flexible. However, I honestly think there comes a point where an employer expects TOO MUCH flexibility. Is there such a thing as “too much” flexibility? The context at my job is with daily schedules for our students at our training center. Sometimes there are last-minute changes during the day, which I found disruptive sometimes. I don’t want to give identifying details, so I can go in more detail in the comments if needed.

    I also am trying to figure out what sorts of flexibility I can tolerate. In looking for future jobs or in growing my career, I want to show that I can be flexible, but I don’t want to get into a situation again where I accept the dysfunction of constantly having to be flexible. But on the flip side, I don’t want to come across rigid either.

    If anyone could suggest some questions to ask myself, I’d be really helpful.

    1. Annony*

      I think it really depends on the frequency you need to be flexible and why as well as how disruptive it is. If it is occasionally accommodating someone who turns something in a day late it isn’t really a problem. If people are turning things in late habitually that is a problem. If the training schedule is changing because someone is sick or some of the computers aren’t working it seems fine. If someone just didn’t bother to finalize the schedule or decided to take a long lunch, they are abusing your flexibility.

    2. WellRed*

      Your question reminds me of a letter from a few years back where job candidates could schedule their interviews using an online program and one candidate kept constantly changing it, not realizing that all the changes could be seen by the interviewers. Once in awhile is one thing, but it’s not unreasonable to have the expectation of planning your day.

  53. MissBliss*

    I posted in the Friday thread last week that my husband is preparing to start his own business next year, and asked for advice to pass on to him, as well as advice for me as the person who will have a set work schedule/salary/benefits from my current organization. We are both very appreciative! Particularly for R’s recommendation to have an exit plan. My husband is going to make sure that’s part of the business plan he works on this year. Thank you all again, so much!

    1. MissBliss*

      Specifically, in case you search for your username like I do, thank you to R, Artemesia, Katniss Evergreen, Not So NewReader, Katefish, SweetestCin, Petey McPetey, SB Owner, Curmudgeon in California, Another business librarian, tab, and New Senior Manager :)

  54. Overwhelmed teacher*

    After nine years at the same school and a few months of serious job hunting, I was offered an amazing position at a new school! Older age group, better calendar schedule, big pay bump, reasonable commute…I am thrilled. I’m grateful for all the resume and interview advice I’ve read on this blog. I’m about to start the difficult process of telling my current team (through Zoom and email, ugh) that I’m leaving. Also a little overwhelmed about going from a team of 10 to a team of well over 100. But still, it’s an exciting new step!

    1. Invisible Fish*

      Are you me? I’m not getting a salary bump BUT my commute will be halved.

  55. What to Do*

    I have a bit of a dilemma and I’m not sure how to approach it.

    My boss is consistently very bad at communication. He’s extremely non-confrontational, which is part of it, and is also just bad at remembering that people aren’t mind readers and need to be told things, especially when those things can affect their job. This had made working at home during the quarantine interesting, to say the least.

    Cue yesterday, when he emailed to say that he and another supervisor (I’m a supervisor as well) had a conference call with someone in an organization we work closely with. The call was about resuming a job that we haven’t been doing for the past few months because of quarantine. This job/the duties they discussed are all things that are one of my duties, which I’ve handled for years with no issues. The other supervisor that he called in handles some related things, but not this, and doesn’t even cover this duty when I’m on vacation or sick. I wasn’t made aware of this call or given any chance to offer input, and when I reached out to my boss asking for some additional details, he was a bit cagey about it.

    Now, this might be a total communication fail on his and my co-worker’s part, which is not unheard of. But my boss and the company in general have had a really bad track record for suddenly reducing people’s duties and giving them away to other people just before they terminate their position, usually without notice or any sort of warning. A practice that I’ve disagreed with in the past, and one that I do not follow when I have any say over things. I’ve half expected for my position to be cut at some point, honestly, and I wouldn’t fault them for needing to do it in a financial sense, but I’d rather be given some head’s up that that’s what’s going on than think I’m doing fine and then find out they’ve been planning to cut me and were doing their usual avoiding telling me about it beforehand dance. I should note I’ve never had anyone bring any issues with my work to my attention or had any verbal or written warnings for anything, and even if I had, I think I’d still deserve a head’s up.

    So I guess I’m just wondering if I should find a way to bring this up to my boss or reach out in some way to make my worries/confusion about this whole situation known? And how exactly I should go about doing that. I don’t want to come across as needlessly paranoid (and I can’t say I’m in the best headspace right now given the current state of the world, so there probably is a bit of paranoia involved), but this is also making me incredibly anxious and I’d like a little piece of mind.

    1. Amanda*

      You could bring it up in a matter of fact way. “Historically, when the company reorganizes a person’s duties, their role was shortly eliminated. Is that what is happening with these tasks?” And if he’s unwilling to be honest, ask your grand-boss. Hopefully they’re not shuffling you out the door, and your being left off the call was just a slip.

  56. WhatDayIsIt*

    Any advice someone could share? My dad is 60 years old and is the head of IT at a small nonprofit. He’s pretty sure it will shut down this year and he has no idea what to do next because he learned IT on the job and doesn’t have a degree in it (though he does have a bachelor’s). Can anyone give advice on how to help him as he’s concerned about competing with younger and more certified individuals?

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      Maybe have him start taking some online certifications? Anything he can get his hands on. Maybe his current job will help with some of the costs.

    2. Ama*

      If he’s okay with staying in the nonprofit world I bet he will be okay — for nonprofits that need IT staff, someone with actual experience in nonprofits is an appealing candidate (and actually pretty rare — it took my org ages to fill our head of IT role because there aren’t a lot of experienced IT professionals out there who are both interested in and understand how nonprofit IT needs can differ from the for profit world). This is especially true if he has a lot of experience troubleshooting the more common nonprofit donor databases.

      1. WhatDayIsIt*

        That’s good to know! Honestly I know he’s depressed, so I think it can be hard to see that there might be opportunities out there. I don’t know anything about his field so I’ve felt like I can’t lend much help.

    3. tangerineRose*

      Is he on LinkedIn? Can he reach out to people he’s worked with in the past? People like to hire people who they know do a good job, so personal references can really help.

    4. Federal Middle Manager*

      He needs to work his network HARD. He’ll never compete in a resume screening process. He’s gonna need to “know someone” to get a job.

    5. Windchime*

      I’m about the same age as your dad (just a year younger). I’m also a non-degreed person in IT and learned on the job. I had a few college classes but I have no degree in anything. I live and work in the Seattle area where there are tons of tech jobs and there are a lot of people who don’t have degrees, so I think he will probably be fine. IT is kind of a different animal from many other jobs, in that people don’t really care about your education so much as what you can actually *do*.

  57. quirkypants*

    I have an employee (reporting to me) covering for a mat leave on my team who has recently updated his personal website/portfolio claiming credit for something he never worked on.

    He hasn’t even been involved in this project AT ALL. Not even on the periphery so it’s not just a case of exaggerating as many are prone to do on resumes! I’m working on it directly with MY boss and our CEO AND the project is only about 50% complete (even though he describes it as being complete on his website).

    How did I find it? Someone my team was looking at his website, saw it, and told me. Why was SHE looking at the website? I don’t know, I didn’t ask.

    Part of me really wants to call him out on it but I don’t think it’s worth it. I also feel a little weird that I stumbled on it that way (I don’t want it to look like I’m spying on him or tell him about the employee who found it).

    This is partially me looking for advice and partially just an excuse to vent. I haven’t told anyone else at work (and don’t plan to).

    Anyone ever find themselves in the same situation? Did you just suck it up and keep quiet? Did you tell them?

    1. WellRed*

      Last I checked, websites weren’t private personnel files. Why WOULDN’T you check out someone’s website that you work with?

      1. WellRed*

        Oh, and if you do address it, I think one factor would be that he’s stating it’s done, when it’s not.

        1. quirkypants*

          You’re right that it’s a totally public website – I don’t know why I feel bad for snooping.

          He also didn’t give a work sample, he just said managed a project he had NOTHING to do with. But it’s the kind of project that “sounds” impressive, like, a major rebrand or re-working a company’s internal systems, etc.

    2. Jaid*

      This is funny, because you know how Facebook will have posts from Factinate and other aggregate blogs that have stories about people getting revenge/instant karma, etc? Well, this morning one of those stories was how someone discovered that their work (made for the business) was being used by a glassbowl ex-coworker in “their” online portfolio. Instead of calling out the glassbowl directly, the dude let their boss know that intellectual property was being used and the boss lawyer-ed up. The glassbowl had to take the work down.

      Maybe just let your boss know about it and deal with it.

      1. quirkypants*

        Oh! I love stories like that.

        This isn’t a case where he’s showing any work product but taking credit for managing a major project he had nothing to do with. Imagine something like, managing a company’s rebrand.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      (I have not dealt with this, so I might be off-base)

      Given that this is a current employee, I would talk to them about it. Ask them, “I happened across this and, as you know, your claims are completely inaccurate. What’s going on?”

      Also, make note of their lack of integrity, determine if there is a pattern, and figure out whether you want to keep this employee on if you can’t trust their judgement/integrity. From the example you’ve given of it being a “rebrand”, I would think your team’s work is pretty public-facing, so integrity and honesty (to some extent) seems like it would be pretty important.

      Setting aside integrity, the employee’s lack of basic wisdom/intelligence “this is public facing website, maybe I shouldn’t lie” makes me wonder how good they are as an employee in this role.

      1. trying to strike a balance*

        You called it… they’re not a really strong employee and there have been a couple issues around their integrity (I’ve addressed issues as they’ve come up), which is why I’m glad their contract is up soon. There was a point during this contract that I considered searching for a replacement but I was trying to coach and give them the benefit of the doubt for a short while. Now that the contract will be expiring in about 3 months it doesn’t make sense to try to hire. The fastest I’ve gotten a new person in a role like this is 5 weeks between searching and the candidate giving notice, but it tends to be more like 8 weeks… so I’m riding it out.

    4. Mily*

      I know a guy in the film industry who created an imdb page for himself and gave himself all of his boss’s credits and he got fired and his family had to move out of state.

  58. Spessartine*

    Last week I asked for some advice on negotiating with my former employer for some remote teapot designing they wanted me to do for them. I asked for $50 for a single teapot and $75 for a teapot pair; this morning I got a call from my former boss and he said “Why don’t we pay you $75 whether for a single or a pair, just to make it simpler? Single teapots are almost as much work as teapot pairs anyway.” In addition, he wants to pay me up front for a batch of x number of designs, which is much more convenient than billing him for 5 or 6 designs every month or piecemeal after every design. So big thanks to everyone who helped me figure out what to ask for, it turned out even better than I thought!

  59. Kesnit*

    How self-critical should I be in an self-evaluation? My annual self-evaluation is due June 1. I’ve been working on it and have most done. However, I am not sure how to address one incident.

    Late last year and into this year, I was working with a more senior colleague on a major project. The project would have been completed on a Monday. About 4:00 on the Thursday before, an outside agency threw a major wrench in the project. Because my more senior colleague was otherwise occupied on Friday, the majority of the backlash fell on me. (Had the wrench not appeared, we would have been prepared to complete it Monday.) Shortly thereafter, my senior colleague moved into a (previously accepted) promotion in another office. My boss took over the project with me (and some others) assisting. (I thought for a while he wanted me off the project, but found out recently that I am still on it. I told him the reason I had backed off was because I thought he wanted me to.)

    Since then, I have felt like the black sheep in the office. I also feel like I got thrown under the bus by both my boss and my senior colleague.

    So back to my original question. I feel like this has to be addressed, and I admit I made some mistakes. But I also feel that I was working with someone who should have caught my mistakes (I was keeping her updated on everything I did), and that I am being blamed for the wrench (which was outside my control and unexpected).

    1. revueller*

      Oooh, that’s rough. If I’m understanding correctly, it sounds like the major issues are that (a) the wrench from the outside agency came through, and you were unprepared to handle it without your senior colleague, and then (b) due to miscommunication with your boss, you weren’t sure if you were still on the project or not and made the wrong guess.

      (b) unfortunately sounds like it might be in your court unless you have proof of your boss telling you to work elsewhere. (a) is definitely trickier, like you’ve said. There are a lot of factors here that only really someone in your workplace who was on the project would be able to speak to. (Did you have equal responsibilities? Was the wrench something that should have been caught by your side beforehand? Was the senior colleague the team lead? Why couldn’t the senior colleague handle it at the time? What were you supposed to do when the senior colleague was elsewhere and couldn’t answer the question/issue themself? etc.) Nevertheless, documentation may also help you here. If the wrench that came through was definitely senior colleague’s responsibility as written in a project charter or agreement, then you can say that with confidence. “The project fell behind due to an unexpected issue with XYZ. My responsibility was with ABC (which had 123 results), but the whole project ended up arriving late as a result.” If you didn’t have such clear-cut responsibilities, well, that’s harder.

      I’d talk to your senior colleague about the incident and ask how you both should have handled it. If they acknowledge it’s not your fault, great! You don’t have to fall on the sword. If they think the blame is shared, you can take partial responsibility and say how you both should’ve done XYZ. If they entirely blame you, that’s tricky. I think you’d have to take some of the blame in that case (which is unfair, I totally acknowledge). I’d frame it as, “I didn’t have XYZ skills to handle it at the time, but I now know that I should’ve done this/expected that.” And run it by someone else at your company who knows you, the senior colleague, your boss, and the project (even a little). They’ll give more insight than we can.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this, and I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Kesnit*

        To address a few things…

        “Oooh, that’s rough. If I’m understanding correctly, it sounds like the major issues are that (a) the wrench from the outside agency came through, and you were unprepared to handle it without your senior colleague, and then”

        Close. My senior colleague knew about the wrench. I called her as soon as I was notified. We talked briefly, then I went back to the client to ask how they wanted the wrench handled. The client made their decision and my colleague and I did what had to be done based on that decision.

        “(b) unfortunately sounds like it might be in your court unless you have proof of your boss telling you to work elsewhere.”

        I don’t have proof as there are always projects going on, and given how I felt like I was being blamed for the wrench and that he was talking to other coworkers (but not me) about it, I got the impression he wanted me off the project.

        “Did you have equal responsibilities?”

        I was doing a lot of the work on the project and was the primary point of contact between us and the client. I was talking to my colleague about everything and she was giving me advice and working me through everything.

        “Was the wrench something that should have been caught by your side beforehand?”

        We knew about the wrench beforehand, but until the outside agency brought it up, it was a non-issue. It would never have come up as it was not directly related to the project. The outside agency is the one that linked the main project to the wrench. (It is hard to explain without giving away too much information.)

        “Was the senior colleague the team lead?”

        We were equals on the project.

        “Why couldn’t the senior colleague handle it at the time?”

        I was the one the outside agency called. When they did, I called her and we talked, then I talked to the client. Then my colleague and I talked again. We made our plans based on what the client said. Since by this point it was after 5:00, there was no way to put our plans into effect until the next day. The next morning, we did start our plans. However, my senior colleague had a prior commitment that kept her tied up almost all of that day, which also kept her out of the line of fire. Although I did have another senior colleague with me, he was not familiar with the project so could not really back me up.

        “What were you supposed to do when the senior colleague was elsewhere and couldn’t answer the question/issue themself?”

        Handle it myself with the backup of another colleague who could not really help because he only knew the bare bones that he’d been told the evening before.

        “Nevertheless, documentation may also help you here. If the wrench that came through was definitely senior colleague’s responsibility as written in a project charter or agreement, then you can say that with confidence.”

        There is no documentation because the wrench should never have been an issue. Had the outside agency not contacted me, we would have finished the project Monday and that would have been the end of it. (I want to be clear that the wrench was not something we were hiding or trying to cover up. It was not related to the main project and really should never have become an issue.)

        “I’d talk to your senior colleague about the incident and ask how you both should have handled it.”

        I have. We both agree there was nothing different we could have done.

        “If they acknowledge it’s not your fault, great!”

        She agrees it isn’t my fault. My boss, however, blames me.

        “I’d frame it as, ‘I didn’t have XYZ skills to handle it at the time, but I now know that I should’ve done this/expected that.'”

        Not a bad way to phrase it. It will take some tweeking, but I can use that…

        “And run it by someone else at your company who knows you, the senior colleague, your boss, and the project (even a little). They’ll give more insight than we can.”

        My eval goes to my boss (who still blames me) and the office deputy (who was the one trying to walk me through on that Friday) so asking them would be counter-productive. Although I might be able to talk to our Office Manager.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          (I hope it’s not rude for me to jump in this conversation)

          “I’d talk to your senior colleague about the incident and ask how you both should have handled it.”

          I have. We both agree there was nothing different we could have done.

          “If they acknowledge it’s not your fault, great!”

          She agrees it isn’t my fault. My boss, however, blames me.

          Would your senior colleague be willing to write a review/comment to back you up on this?

          Also, your boss sounds like a bit of an ass if they are blaming you for the wrench becoming an issue when you *and* your senior colleague had no reason to expect it would be wrench.

    2. Fikly*

      What kind of directions do you have for writing the self-eval? Are there questions, or is it just a write a self-eval vagueness?

      1. Kesnit*

        There are instructions. Most of mine is written, but I am unsure how to address this. (It is going to go in the “Additional Comments” section.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like your boss doesn’t lead people. Your boss makes them guess what she expects. I am saying this because you didn’t know if you were still on the project after senior person left and you say you FEEL like the black sheep, got thrown under the bus, etc. I can’t tell what happened that made you feel that way. So I have to believe your boss is providing poor leadership.

      UNFORTUNATELY, you can’t fix your boss. All you can do is change what you are doing. So in the eval, I might write, something like X happened and I did Y and now I realize I should do Z instead.
      That might look like: “Client made HUGE change, Senior person left the department, so I thought I was being taking off the task. Next time I will ask if I am being removed from the task instead of assuming that I am being removed from the task.” Yes, this is hard to do, but in my mind I live in FEAR of what you are facing now. I’d rather hear it said to my face, “You no longer have X responsibility”, than go through what you have been through.

      I am not sure though that this answers the boss’ actual concern. Maybe the actual concern is the monkey wrench itself. In other words, you should have refused an additional service, or you should have dragged in management to let them know the customer was making big changes. Maybe the problem started because they believe you did not control your client. Sometimes we have to tell a customer/client NO.
      If this is the case this would open a conversation about what to do when a client throws in a last minute but Heavy Duty request.

      I am not super impressed with your boss so far in this story. If it were me, we would have chatted. You got hit with two big changes at once, I’d want us to make sure we were on the same page so we could continue on.

      1. Kesnit*

        Just to clarify a few things…

        The client did not throw in the wrench. An outside agency did. Once that happened, we went to the client and asked how they wanted it handled. The client had the final say on the decision, which they made. After that, we handled everything that had to be done. (Which means mostly me because my senior colleague was otherwise occupied that say.)

  60. IntoTheSarchasm*

    So, I am a manager furloughed down to 60% for 12 weeks, with a possible extension of 12 more weeks from a large multi-state healthcare system. I am a six year employee working remotely for the ‘home office’ rather than one of the facilities and in a department that is regulatory/compliance/risk oriented. Not a department that has experience in furloughs or layoffs as our work isn’t dependent on volume, but the effects of the pandemic have a long reach. I think we have close relationships at work and certainly talk that way, but since the furlough began six weeks ago, none of the affected have received any sort of check-in from our Director or VP on how this may be affecting us emotionally, financially or in any way. They haven’t shared information on who was furloughed so we have had to figure it out ourselves when trying to get something done. There seems to be some denial going on. To add to the weirdness, the other VP in our department to whom I do not report or work with much, has taken to sending me an IM every Tuesday which simply states ‘Good Morning” with no follow up of any sort. I reply in the same vein and that is the end of it. This was not a thing before furlough and although it might be well met, it isn’t helpful as the only time I typically hear from her is when she thinks our team has done something wrong. TBH, after the first IM I waited all day for the other shoe to drop so that was a long day. I have worked in health care for almost 30 years and this is my first experience with furlough so I realize we find ourselves in an unusual situation and may not be our best or responding particularly well. I am feeling a lack of compassion and acknowledgement of the impact this situation is having from leadership and starting to feel sort of cast out and excluded, especially as a manager that can’t do her regular job. Any helpful perspective is appreciated.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’d go to my immediate boss and ask why the VP is sending out messages that only say “good morning”.

      Then I’d try to open a discussion of some sort, “I was wondering if you had any idea how I would be furloughed down. What thoughts do you have on how this will play out?”

  61. yala*

    More of the same. Every exchange with my boss is so nerve-wracking because I never know what little thing is going to set me down the rabbit hole of Being In Trouble. And I’ve been admonished for not being proactive with communication, but it’s REALLY HARD to want to say anything ever when after each exchange all I can think is “If I hadn’t said __ or asked __ she never would have noticed The Thing She Decided To Be Upset About and I’d be fine.”

    During our last telemeeting, she said she expects me to do “due diligence” before asking her any questions–which I DO. I can spend hours looking for an answer before bringing myself to ask her a question. She also frequently says “I’m always here if you need to ask me any questions” but when I fall for it, she inevitably starts grilling me, with the constant implication of “I don’t believe you tried to find the answer on your own.”

    There was…oh, let say a teapot with a complicated pattern. I looked for as much reference as I could find, but everything was very vague. Did it to the best of my abilities, but it wasn’t right. When returning it to me, she said to look into it. I told her I had, but I had had trouble finding it (frequently, there are details of the teapot left to the painter’s preference, and in this case, it seemed like that, and I needed her to tell me what her preference was). I suggested a different way I could paint the teapot, and reference and example of one with a similar pattern. Her response was to ask me where I’d looked (a lot of places? I googled and opened various tabs for over an hour) and then told me to send her the information. Which, like… I did my best with that, but it’s not like I still had a dozen tabs open, and more importantly…how do I show her where I DIDN’T find information?

    She never said anything about the suggestion of using the pattern from the other teapot. She never responded to any of the links I did give her. I found *one* old manual saying to paint the teapot the way I’d suggested, and sent her that, but got no response (to that). Eventually, I repainted the teapot and sent it on, but consulted a group of more senior teapot painters and…got conflicting information (the manual in question is out of date, but the new manual has no specifics about that pattern).

    So it’s really something that could go either way, but just…got turned into a big deal.

    I also lost ~1+ hours of productivity trying to find all the files I’d looked at before.

    Yesterday, we realized there’d been a problem with my renewal for an email alert. I’d missed one e-mail, and after being told about it, I’d gone and re-painted the teapots in said email with the additional pattern, and re-renewed twice just to see if it was going through (it was, but it looks exactly like it did when I renewed a month ago, so I’m still not sure, and I set an alert to remind me next month to see if I’m getting the emails in question). Thought that was sorted. But later that afternoon, it became a Big Thing Again. About an hour back and forth finishing in “I will discuss this with you again at a later date.” A sentence so unnecessarily ominous it should come with its own music sting.

    I never get any feedback when/if I do something right. By which I mean, I still don’t KNOW if the repainting I did was sufficient or if I missed something and that’s why she’s upset.

    What I do get, EVERY SINGLE TIME…are questions one right after another, sometimes repeated, that always feel like a trap. It always feels like she’s got an answer in mind, like she’s trying to Catch Me. The way she repeats questions, or asks if I’m suuuuure always comes off like she doesn’t believe me. Ever. (I think part of this is that I’m generally bad at remembering details of Things In The Past when put on the spot. I take comprehensive notes now, and if I can refer to them I’m on better ground.) (Also, the time I eventually found proof that I’d done the thing I said I’d done that she didn’t believe I’d done, she got mad at me, demanded to know why I had it, and never once acknowledged that yes, I actually had done that thing)

    All the emotions and the whining aside, what I’d love to be able to ask her is: What is you GOAL here? In what was does you doing [insert whatever thing she’s doing] help either of us to produce work in a timely and efficient manner?

    Because it sure SEEMS like you’re more focused on trying to Catch Me Out in some way, and prove that I’m Bad At Listening or lying or something. And it usually just costs BOTH of us more time and energy than just…fixing a thing or talking normally would (nevermind that it hits the RSD pretty bad and can spiral me out for the rest of the day)


    anyway. I know I’m always here whining. I just don’t know what to DO, and I really wish I’d gone to HR with a certain incident BEFORE the quarantine started, because now it would just look petty (and delayed), with everything else going on, but it’s such a part of a pattern with her.

    The thing is…I love my job. I love what I do. I REALLY appreciate where I work (they’ve been excellent about dealing with the quarantine). I think I’m pretty decent at what I do (though I’d probably be a little better if, y’know, I had a mentor I could go to with questions without being terrified I’ll Get Myself In Trouble). I really love my job.

    I just…wish this wasn’t an issue.

    1. Amanda*

      I’m so sorry – you sound so stressed out. Maybe you need to have a one on one with your supervisor/manager. Write out your concerns about how you are spending x time researching questions before asking for assistance or clarification, yet when you bring her those questions it feels like an interrogation. (You may want to soften the wording a little, perhaps instead of interrogation try “like she doesn’t trust you’ve done the research”.) You can always include other examples to emphasize the pattern.

      You can still go to HR with your issues on your boss, even during isolation. It might look different, an email or phone call instead of walking over on your lunch break, but if you feel this strongly, go talk to HR.

      Remember that this is just a job. Don’t let her weird semi-toxic behaviours affect you, it’s her issue not yours. Best of luck!

    2. JustaTech*

      Ugh, that sounds completely exhausting and frustrating. I’m not surprised you’re having a hard time!

      You’re already doing the one thing I would suggest (taking notes), so all I have is a lot of sympathy, ’cause this is a pretty impossible position.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        She’s causing you to develop some habits that just won’t be necessary under another manager. If it’s at all possible to transfer laterally to someone else, I hope you consider that option. But, I tend to agree that this is the kind of manager who embodies the saying about how people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers.

        I wish I could come up with some advice, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any magic way to get her to not act/react the way she does to anything you do. The double checking where you looked is such a massive waste of both of your time, only to not even follow up, that’s just … not good management. You can’t win.

  62. Lalaith*

    This week I applied to a position through a friend who already works there (though not in the same division of the company that I applied to). My friend told me that while she was figuring out the recommendation process, she connected with someone in that division who was very helpful and said they’d be happy to talk to me about working in that division. I’m not great at writing introductory emails, though – what should I say?

    (apologies if Alison has covered this already, I’d appreciate links if she has!)

    1. Blueberry*

      I have seen the Inigo Montoya method suggested: state who you are, your connection to the person, and your purpose in communicating with them.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Would your friend be willing to write the introduction? I.e. your friend could write an email to her colleague and copy you:

      “Hi ColleagueNameHere,

      Thank you for talking to me about your work in the Otter Cuddling Division. It sounds fascinating. I’m copying my friend, Lalaith, who is interested in learning more about what you and your team does.

      Thank you again.


      And then @Blueberry’s suggestion for your reply to your friend’s reply, moving your friend to the BCC field.

  63. Retail not Retail*

    not a burning question, but does anyone else work with work release or rehab crews? Like they work alongside you or you have a slight supervisory rank over them?

    My supervisor is their main supervisor, but sometimes he sends us out with a couple and it’s up to whatever employee is there to keep stuff moving.

    I apparently do a good job at it. I don’t demean them (my nemesis yells) and i don’t play on my phone. I set a reasonable pace and I work alongside them. This week the 2 I was responsible for were on their break and it was ending so I was like “come on guys, look at my brace, I can’t get that stupid mower out alone.”

    My other question is – is this supervisory work? Or supervisory enough to check a “supervisory experience” box?

    1. WellRed*

      For your second question, I think something like “regularly supervised work release employees” as a bullet point under job duties would be fine.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, do stipulate work release employees. It’s enough different from regular work settings as there are different considerations. If an interviewer wants to know more about that, they can ask specific questions.

        But some of the stuff you see WILL carry over. For instance a working supervisor gets better results than a slacking supervisor. That’s close to being an universal thing. Likewise, people treated with respect are more apt to give respect, etc. And it’s an opportunity for you to get use to the sound of your own voice giving instructions. Secondly, you can beef up your skills in giving clear instructions. There’s other things that you will find handy to know later.

    2. Fikly*

      It’s amazing what’ll happen when you treat fellow human beings with respect.

      Not a knock at you, just the people that think for whatever reason, it’s ok to treat other people as less than them, and then are suprised when they don’t like it.

  64. Curious Cat*

    Hello everyone! Just curious, have any of you broken into marketing without prior experience? I’m in IT now and would like to switch careers. There’s a job posting in my area that looks interesting, and I know I’m capable of it, but they list 2 years of experience as required and…I don’t have that. But I’m a very quick learner and I’ve been researching the skills they list as necessary, and I know I could do it. Any point in applying? Any tips?

    1. Calanthea*

      Would it be a terrible waste of your time to apply on the off-chance? I’ve always sort of assumed that “2 years experience” is “not a complete newbie” rather than that you must have worked in that named role before (unlike 5 years+, where I assume they want a deeper understanding of the work). If you meet all the criteria, and you’ve got examples of work you’ve done that’s similar to what they describe in the role, you can probably make a good case for it!
      Good luck!

      1. Curious Cat*

        Hey Calanthea! (Pretty username!) Basically they want people good at analytics software (which I am, although not the particular software they want), and experience particularly in two subfields of marketing (which I don’t have, although the subfields are tech-heavy and I have years of experience learning and developing new systems). But you’re right, no harm in applying. The worst they can do is not get back to me or say no.

        Question for you and others: would this be a good time for a functional resume, to highlight my relevant skills since I don’t have experience in marketing?

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Functional resumes (grouping jobs by skills) are never useful, based on feedback I’ve seen throughout AAM.

          Instead, update your accomplishments to talk about the relevant skills. Maybe use a “Relevant jobs” section and a “Other professional experience” section (both in chronological order) but it also doesn’t seem like you have direct relevant experience, so regular chronological may make more sense.

        2. Calanthea*

          Agree with Analytical Tree Hugger. Functional Resumes are just a bit weird, unless specifically requested. Make sure you highlight in your CV the use of analytics software, and anything that’s roughly translatable to the subfields (Making videos? Writing copy? Calling people and persuading them to do stuff? Developing databases?).
          Polish your cover letter to emphasise how you can do the job and how your skills match it, rather than justifying what you don’t have, if you’re lucky, the people hiring won’t know that you used software X rather than Y, or the difference between them.
          Basically, follow Alison’s advice and you’ll be golden!

  65. Calanthea*

    Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a great week and have plans for some delicious lie-ins and no Zoom/Teams/Skype weekend time.

    I am considering going to a Career Coach – I have a good idea of what my skills are, what I enjoy and look for in a workplace, and what sectors I’m interested in. But I don’t really enjoy the actual role I’m in now, and suspect that I’m limited slightly by just not knowing what kind of jobs are out there for someone who likes planning/scoping projects, but not so much the actual doing, who loves talking to people but not selling stuff, and likes big picture thinking but wants concrete results in the world. Any ideas on either how to go about finding a suitable coach, or if you have a job that is all these things please tell me what it is you do!

    1. cmcinnyc*

      If your company has an EAP, I’d look into seeing if it includes any kind of career coaching. My company employs coaches for the highest level execs, mostly focusing on improving their job functions where they are of course. But if they have something confidential you could check out free of cost, I’d start there. My experience (personal and observed) is that coaches seriously run the gamut from awesome to worthless and the first thing to learn is how to tell the difference! My DH used a coach that was great for corporate settings but useless for his freelance work, because she just had zero grounding in that area. I’ve used a coach that specializes in my side biz and wouldn’t consider using someone who didn’t know that biz backwards and forwards (because then what am I paying for?). The job specs you describe could fall into all kinds of industries, so if you know what industry you want to work in, make sure the coach you pick knows the ground rules.

      1. Calanthea*

        Oh, that’s a really good suggestion on the EAP – I’ll check it out.
        Your point about knowing the industry is strong, but it means I have to *gasp* pick an industry! I’m fairly agnostic, but perhaps I could pick a couple and see what the options within those, for someone with my skillset would be…

  66. Career Change to MH Nursing*

    I currently work in a project management/technical advisor job, which focuses a lot on gender-based violence. I am considering retraining as a mental health nurse (in the UK). There is a link between mental health needs and GBV, but practically speaking this would be completely different from anything I’ve done so far in my life. I’ve been researching the course content for nurse training, requirements, and reading blog posts etc of new and more experienced nurses, but these are obviously mostly focused on selling the career to new entrants, albeit in what seems like a balanced fashion. I’m really interested in hearing from nurses about what some downsides of the profession might be that aren’t immediately obvious.

    I already know it would be a big paycut for me, 3+years training (although at least it’s paid in Scotland) meaning I’m mid/late forties by the time I’m finished, and can be very draining physically and emotionally. I think I would like direct contact with people, problem solving, and being “on” all the time on shifts – the days I find energising at my current job are when I’ve been doing something, or lots of different things, all day, with no time to even think, and the ones I find demoralising are when I have weeks feeling like I’m just not doing much and find myself messing around instead of getting down to anything. I don’t much like poo but can handle most other bodily fluids :)

    Any advice on what to think about, or how I can find out this information is much appreciated! I plan to see whether I can do some shadowing when it’s a better time, but most of the schemes I’ve seen seem to be for medical students or secondary work experience so I’m not sure if it’s possible.

    1. WellRed*

      I’d find out exactly what the training entails. I have a friend who just finished her nursing degree, also early 40s. One thing that came up was various rotations for her clinical experience. Some of them were not close by. I think she also had a few challenges having to do some group work with much younger students who weren’t as organized or motivated (I realize this isn’t necessarily an age thing, but I have also been an older student who felt some of my younger classmates weren’t as invested). She did manage to work that out, though.

      1. Career Change to MH Nursing*

        Thank you! The training I think will be fine, it’s really clearly set out what the training includes in the way of theory, practical training and placements both on the individual university websites and in NHS careers. I used to teach at a university so I feel like I’m mentally prepared for the immense slacking potential of some students :) Not least since my own undergraduate behaviour wasn’t a million miles away… Placement distance would be another issue but I’m prepared for commuting as well as overnights, though I’m sure that wouldn’t stop me complaining when they irritate me!

        I think my concerns are more about after the training – no good getting through the training if I then find out that the job itself is not after all what I thought I would like.

        1. WellRed*

          The only thing I can say to post-training concerns: Despite all the hardships and stresses (did I mention single mother and self employed?) she never seemed to doubt her path. And it’s a long enough path that I feel like you’d have at least an inkling if you maybe weren’t going to like it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I spent over a decade in human service. Granted, I am in the US and I was not a nurse. It was hard on levels that I did not expect, such as everyone has their own opinion and there is a lot more clashing than one would think. Many problems had no solution and basically we put patches on things. Most of us found it challenging to remain empathetic. Part of that was because the huge lack of support from society as a whole. The professionals who came to us, asked US what to do. For example, when I was trying to help a person in high blood sugar, the professional told me, “You learned more about it from your family, than I ever learned. You handle it, I won’t.” Likewise when I thought someone was faking seizures (they admitted it) the professional involved in helping me threw her hands up in the air. I figured it out on my own.
      It’s rough on everyone in these stories. Things should be different but they aren’t. A friend went to work in the MH field. She said her nurse’s training gave her zero background for her work. Maybe it is better now.

      My suggestion is to talk to someone who has been working in the field for 20 years or more. Ask them what they wished they knew when they started. Ask them what they would do differently because of what they have experienced. Ask them what type of person would make out okay in this work. Maybe you can find an online forum to talk with people in this arena, if you don’t have a better source.

      1. Career Change to MH Nursing*

        Thank you, that’s really helpful. Your work in human service sounds incredible challenging.

  67. Treebeardette*

    I really can’t stand my boss’s abuse tactics. I sent an email saying “Please move line down
    Do not remove*item*”.
    She sent me multiple emails freaking out on me for being blunt. It was full of things phrases like: Issues weren’t that big of a deal to handle. I’m the supervisor, You’re the employee. Then she copied our manager and wrote a “for the record” email as if it was some kind of interrogation going on about how she makes mistakes and isn’t against correcting them. She also was trying to say what I think of her. “You may think….”
    Then I got pulled into a meeting with my boss and all she said was that she was concerned in one of those sweet tones.
    I’ve already talked to my manager and I’ll go back to today again. I already apologize for my “blunt” email but it’s a bit crazy to blame me for thinking a certain way when I didn’t even think of that.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Wow, your supervisor is so irrational, I can’t even parse out what she was trying to say or what she was reacting to. Sorry, that sucks :/

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “It’s okay to ask me what I meant or how I feel but it’s not cool to TELL me what I meant or how I felt. The latter is conjecture and may or may not be true.”

  68. [insert witty username here]*

    Group gift help? A teammate is getting married next weekend and I’d like to send him a card and a little monetary gift (either just cash or a gift card). I am kind of/sort of a team lead…. on a team where there are multiple team leads. I was going to email the team and ask if anyone would like to contribute to a gift/card but not to feel obligated. I’d like to just sign it from everyone, regardless if they contribute or not – but I don’t want anyone to feel like “well since she’s signing my name, I guess I have to contribute!” Should I just not mention that I’m going to sign everyone’s names? Should I NOT sign everyone’s names?

    This would be a lot easier if we were all in same office (I could walk the card around for everyone to sign and if they want to chip in, cool, but they could at least still sign), but we’re all working from home because of COVID.


    1. Ranon*

      If you’re worried about pressuring folks I think the lowest pressure route is to say “hey, so and so’s wedding is happening, I’ll be sending them a card and (your contribution) from the team, if anyone wants to sign the card or add to (contribution) send me a note” That way it’s fully opt in and no one has to guess/ read between the lines about what you’re doing

    2. WellRed*

      I actually disagree that signing the card from everyone will make people feel obligated. Ask me how I know ; )

        1. WellRed*

          I generally will contribute happily to this sort of thing, but got to the point where we held a bridal shower and then two baby showers for one coworker. I opted not to contribute to baby number 2, although did contribute for baby No. 3 (a surprise!). To be clear, this was because one of her work friends went overboard for her, not because the mom to be x 3 had any expectations.

          Also, I may be be influenced by the time I jokingly commented to the office manager about when do I get my shower? I was told when I get married or have a baby. How retro!

    3. No Tribble At All*

      For group signing a card, we’ve used groupgreeting dot com which lets you send a link to people, and then each person can write their own message on a virtual card. It’s nice because you get all the time and space to write your message (this was for a going away where people ended up writing heartfelt paragraphs). So you could email out the link to a card and say “if you’d like to sign, here’s the card.”

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t sign individual names. Sign from “your colleagues in [office name].” It would be weird to list the names if they aren’t signing themselves. Not sure how you will get the $$ (venmo? or are you planning to collect when everyone is together again?) but if you are planning to front the money, assume that you won’t be repaid for at least some of it.

  69. Moi*

    I just got informed that I didn’t get my dream job ):. The HR person was wonderful and candidly informed me that it was a tough call and I was a close second. It was really nice to hear the feedback but I’m still super bummed. I’m secretly hoping their number one candidate has a change of heart or a different job offer although I know that’s not realistic.

    1. Elie A.*

      Oh gosh, I’m sorry. That is so disappointing. Thinking of you! Getting that far in the process is an awesome achievement, but that doesn’t make it not hurt, I’m sure.

    2. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s certainly a good sign that you were a close second. I once hired my second choice applicant when a new opportunity unexpectedly popped up on my team, and at this point, he’s actually gotten further in his career than number one. Hoping good news comes your way soon!

  70. Elie A.*

    Hey all, I could use advice for my brother-in-law. He has been working in banking (doing… loan stuff? I don’t know bank stuff) for the past ten years, and also has a B.S. in music literature. He’s just an awesome, smart, hard-working guy. His boss is pretty awful, and he is looking for somewhere new–either working remotely, or not. I’d love to help him out with advice or directions to point him in but I’m a teacher and have had the same job for ages, so I don’t have a ton of ideas to help. And I know this is a hell of a time to look for a new job, too. Thoughts? Ideas?

    1. WellRed*

      A BS in music literature? That aside, does he like the banking role in general? Is the boss the only problem? There is, I assume, more opportunity in some sort of finance then, you know, something that would use music literature? Is he a musician at all?

      1. Elie A.*

        Yep, he’s an excellent musician. Mainly guitar and cello, and he also does sound stuff for other bands (in addition to me not knowing about banking stuff, I also do not know about music stuff. :-) But he does things for other bands and a church where he… makes things sound good? With a board thing?).

        But he also has no problem with the banking/finance work. He’s good at it and enjoys it. He’s just struggling with his current company.

        1. WellRed*

          I think the best thing you could do right now to be supportive if he wants it is to make sure he knows one bad boss is just that. Not an indicator that a similar job elsewhere will also suck.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      First, does your brother-in-law want help…? If yes, then ask him what he thinks would be helpful. Does he want help with introductions/networking, finding jobs to apply for, etc.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So I am trying to figure out where music and money intersect. Grants? Fund raising? Scholarships? My thought here is that by blending the two he might be a breath of fresh air for some organization. Some people have one skill but not the other.

    4. tangerineRose*

      Can he reach out to people he’s worked with in the past? Ask if they know of jobs or can recommend him?

  71. Retail not Retail*

    (Re)Open to the public people – how’s it going?

    We have to wear our masks when the public can see us. On the one hand, oh my god that is HOT. On the other, maybe this will keep us on a safe break schedule.

    We had our equivalent of “ugh gotta wear real clothes again” because we can’t have vehicles in the park when it’s open. So inconvenient.

    We’re supposed to remind guests to put their masks on but last week i told a kid to leave the ducks alone and mom bit my head off. And everyone knows now. Also if she complained about me – ha can’t see my face got my big mask and sunglasses! ….. my rainbow mask and glasses. Wow can’t pick that out.

    The animals are happy to ignore you, basking in your attention. They want the shows to start again or at least one very vocal sea lion does.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Sorry you’re dealing with that. Can you discuss this with your manager and ask if there is some way you should handle it.

      Glad the animals are happy. Do some animals seem more happy to see people than others? I’ve heard that sea lions are very smart, and sometimes it seems like they’re checking out the visitors.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        One manager says tell every group you see, my manager says “if you’re comfortable.” Argh! (The tell everyone was like remember animals can get this you care about the animals!)

        The monkeys loooooove watching you. The lions do too (ours are in a high traffic area) not that you the public can tell. The petting zoo babies…. alas they are blocked off.

        The wolves and ungulates are so funny! They’d run up to us like “yay person!” and now that people have returned they’re like “um i never craved attention? You must have me confused with a pet? I will nap in the sun now.”

        1. tangerineRose*

          It’s fascinating hearing about the animals. The lions at the AZA zoo near where I live don’t always seem all that interested in us tourists, but they might be faking.

          I wonder if it would help to say something like “Since animals can catch COVID-19, we need everyone to wear masks and not touch the animals. Thanks!” Does management have your back if you’re complained about because you say this type of thing?

          1. Retail not Retail*

            Management probably does, people have been grumpy but like. We’re not a necessity! Inconvenient? Wait a few weeks.

            If you go once yours reopens, be patient and kind to staff. They’re like !!! Real people !!! Who are you !!! And later down the line, you can ask how the lions did.

            Those prissy divas would watch us, slooooowly turning their heads the whole time. One ungulate ran across its huge space, got parallel to me, then tossed its head and walked off, sniffing the ground real casually. The fowl we call “devil chickens” followed me around while I was using a power tool. The key instruction for that area is do not split up, so the animals can run from you. Or… run towards you? I don’t know, I’m not a bird.

            One woman said oh you must be happy to be back at work! Ma’am ma’am is the zoo falling down around you? We’ve been here.

  72. Notthemomma*

    In a project where different steps are being reviewed, I returned my draft with edits (all valid and happily made) and noted I had several questions on the pricess, which I numbered as 1-3.

    My manager seriously had a call with me and said that I should always avoid asking questions, if I do have to, always begin with a compliment, such as ‘I am always impressed by your ability to use adjectives, I am however, questioning why you are asking me to seal a box with wet noodles instead of packing tape., (my example, but just as strange.). And…
    I should ALWAYS put an emoji in my emails to convey positivity.

    The emoji I want to use is not work appropriate.

      1. Notthemomma*

        Yep. I just created an Outlook signature just for them. But yeah…..THIS is the cream that rose to the top and counts as career coaching.
        And for anyone new to the workforce, don’t. This is horrid horrid advice.

    1. Annony*

      That seems like a very bad way to communicate. I don’t understand what would be wrong with “I’m not sure wet noodles will keep the box closed during shipping. Do you mind if I use packing tape instead?” Personally, I feel like emojis should be used sparingly if at all in work emails.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’ve advised my spouse to use the occasional emoji in his work communications, but that’s because he can come across very flat/displeased in some of his writing, and some of his direct reports had taken neutral-to-positive things badly because tone wasn’t coming through well.

        But emphasis on “occasionally” and when it’s hard to communicate tone, not for following up on edits to a document!

    2. irene adler*

      No kidding.
      Makes me wonder how well this advice has worked for your manager (I assume she practices what she preaches).

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*


      (Just to be clear: Your boss’ suggestions are so, so wrong)

    4. WellRed*

      One day in the future you’ll be able to give this fool your resignation. Complete with appropriate emojis.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Ugh, my first instinct was that this is gendered feedback. Be sure to soften your tone and use non threatening, positive overtones when you dare question someone else.

      Gendered or not, it’s garbage feedback and I’m sorry you have to tolerate it.

  73. Anonadog*

    Ever heard of Western Governors University? It’s an online only university that lets you take courses at your own pace – as many as you want in one semester, for a flat fee. I’m considering enrolling to get my MBA and wondering what people have heard of them and how employers would view the degree. It’s accredited and a nonprofit, so it wouldn’t seem to have the stigma that University of Phoenix does… but I don’t know.

    At this point in my career, I’m seeing MBA required or preferred on nearly every job posting. I used to harbor dreams of going to a prestigious school for my MBA, but it’s just so darn expensive – and with a recent layoff and no prospects in sight due to corona (and lots of free time), an affordable, self-paced option sounds really appealing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My experience at WGU is undergrad, but I found that at least the program I was in (Health Information Management) was much better suited to “I’ve been working in this field for ages and need a degree to hit a requirement for something” than actually learning a subject from scratch. It was also a little frustrating in that the classes at WGU aren’t designed by the people who are teaching them. The tests and assessments aren’t written by either the class developer or the instructors. The tests and assessments aren’t GRADED by the people who developed the class, wrote the tests, or taught the class. (Actually, nobody actually taught anything in most of my classes; the “instructors” were there to attempt to answer questions, but since they weren’t involved in selecting the materials or developing the class or assignments, they didn’t have a whole lot of ability to help.)

      I had one situation where the assignment question was “Please describe the four steps of the revenue cycle.” One textbook had six steps listed, the other textbook had five, and they didn’t actually match up to each other. I contacted the instructor, who was like “Yep. I know. Sorry, nothing I can do.” and I ended up just making up four steps based on the fact that I’ve been working in revenue cycle management for fifteen years.

      So I can’t speak to how an MBA from WGU is regarded – I got mine from a state university, albeit in an online program – but from a practical standpoint, I wouldn’t go into it if you didn’t already have a lot of the underpinnings of a business education to start from. For me, I literally just needed a bachelor in HIM, specifically, in order to qualify to sit for a particular certification exam, because the BS and two masters degrees I already had weren’t specifically HIM, so it covered what I need, but I don’t feel like I learned pretty much anything from it.

    2. Reba*

      I am vaguely aware of its having been audited for failing to provide “regular and substantive” interaction with faculty, which is a federal standard. But of course, the self-paced, therefore non-regular aspect of it is the whole point! Students seem to know what they are signing up for and there have not been lots of student complaints (as with the for-profits). But I follow higher-ed news, I imagine most people would not have heard much about it and just see an MBA on your resume.

      I’d try to get more detailed data from the particular program you’re interested in about graduation rates and placement rates from the program.

    3. Dear liza dear liza*

      IME, people going for MBAs as career changes go to the most prestigious program they can. Networking seems to be key. WGU is more for the “I’m in a job I like, if I get this credential I qualify for a raise” crowd. It’s better than Phoenix, but it’s not going to impress people.

    4. IntoTheSarchasm*

      I can a couple classes shy of a Master’s in Health Leadership from WGU. It is competency-based so great for experienced students. Tuition is per six month term, so also affordable if you focus and complete extra classes. It isn’t going to provide a business-school level MBA but it seems to be respected for the type of school it is. It depends on what you need from your degree. If you just need to have one or if you need an impressive one. I would recommend based on my experience but it depends on what you need.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      IME, the average employer doesn’t care much about where you got your MBA from, provided it’s from an AACSB accredited school. The other business school accreditations just aren’t valued for much.

      From there, prestige (and in person vs remote) is about whether or not you want networking contacts out of it. I do feel you on prestige.
      Consider checking out U of Illinois iMBA. It’s only $22k.

    6. Mommachem*

      Thank you for asking this question! It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while myself. My sister and BIL both recently finished MEd degrees and were really pleased with their experience. (They both are already teaching at a local college based on their practical areas and added the MEd for extra pay.) But I was wondering what it would be like for the MBA for me. I am also getting to the point in my career where having a Masters of any type would be beneficial. Just wasn’t sure how WGU would play to employers.

  74. rageismycaffeine*

    My husband, Finn, and I both work at a mid-sized university. Our roles are in very different areas and almost never intersect, so we haven’t had a lot of awkward professional interactions (we’ve worked at the same place before in much closer roles and it was NOT fun).

    My boss, Jake, is the chair-elect of the staff assembly and will become chair on July 1st. My husband was the chair of the equivalent organization at the university he worked at before we moved here two years ago, and has been on the staff assembly for a year. Jake is a super-gregarious extrovert who makes friends with everyone and has particularly latched on to Finn while they’ve both been on the staff assembly – okay, fine, it’s not like they’re best friends or anything, and I definitely trust Finn to maintain good boundaries (less so Jake, but not in a grossly inappropriate way).

    Finn has now been nominated to be chair-elect, which if he wins the election would mean working VERY closely with Jake on the staff assembly for the next year. It would be a great career move for Finn, and it would make really good sense for the university because Finn has been a huge part of the university’s COVID-19 planning for reopening in the fall and there’s no question that that would be an asset to the staff assembly. So for the most part, I’m all for it – but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t unnerved by the proximity to Jake this will entail. I really don’t need my boss and my husband being buddies, guys. :( I really do think Finn can be professional and appropriate about it but Jake’s desire to be friends with people sometimes overrides his professionalism and I’m just… worried.

    No question I guess. Just whining.

    1. Dear liza dear liza*

      Oh, sympathy. I know best practices is to separate work and life but I’ve found it super tough in academia to do so.

  75. Not A Girl Boss*

    How do you guys feel about wearing shorts and tank tops during WFH? Can it be professional.

    The realities of WFH when I don’t have A/C are starting to dawn on me this week with temps in the 70s.
    It’s not like I plan to flash people my shorts or wear super low tank tops, but we do a lot of video calls and sometimes I do have to stand up to close the office door or whatever.

    1. Annony*

      If you are concerned about people seeing your shorts, you can turn off your video on the rare occasions you have to stand up. Overall I don’t think it is a problem, but you should judge based on what other people are wearing on the call. If they are all wearing business formal, you probably don’t want them to see daisy duke shorts. If they are business causal and you are wearing khaki mid thigh shorts, it really wouldn’t matter.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I’ve been wearing loosely fitted skirts that I can hike up a bit while sitting and drape back down to my knees when I stand up. They’re loose enough that I don’t have to smooth them out to get rid of wrinkles, because I would totally forget to do that.

    2. JustaTech*

      Woman answering for women’s clothing:

      My answer is qualified on how much time you spend in video meetings. If it’s just one or two a day, could you toss on a super light blouse for just those meetings and go back to a tank when the camera’s off?

      If you’re in meetings all day, I would go with super light sleeveless tops (like what you’re supposed to layer under a blazer or suit jacket; they’re fancy but very thin) and “professional” shorts, so something like Bermudas, or even try ironing a crease in a pair of khaki shorts. If you have some light and floaty skirts those might be comfortable and presentable too. (It’s warm here today and I’m wearing a short-sleeved knee-length cotton dress.)

      1. juliebulie*

        This is what I plan to do for tops. As for shorts – I’ll wear whatever shorts in order to avoid nudity in case I briefly stand up in front of the camera, but I’m not making any special effort for them to be “professional” as they are not intended to be seen.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        Thanks. I always forget how nice summer dresses are for staying cool. Too bad all my summer dresses are strapless though, haha. Might have to buy a few.

          1. valentine*

            I wouldn’t do sleeveless. Unless you want to keep the door closed and know you won’t get up, short-sleeved, lightweight dresses are probably best.

            And a portable AC unit that vents out the window. (Please say you have a window. That you can also cover with foil, as someone suggests on this site.)

        1. Mily*

          If you search “cotton kaftan” on etsy, you will find a ton of reasonably priced, good quality, light and airy dresses.

    3. Not This One*

      Can you turn off your video if you have to stand up? That’s what I do. I just made the switch from long pajama pants to shorts for the summer. I don’t wear tank tops on video only because I’m self conscious about my arms, but I wouldn’t think twice if someone was on video in a sleeveless shirt. I do work in a not-that-conservative field, though, so YMMV.

      My WFH “office” is on the second floor (so, the former attic) of a house that was built around 1900, no central air, so yeah…I will be wearing what I need to wear to keep from overheating this summer!

    4. rageismycaffeine*

      Can you throw on a light cardigan or something when you’re on video calls? I don’t think it’s necessarily inappropriate but it’s also not something you see often.

      I had a video call a couple of weeks ago with a guy in a tank top that looked like he’d just rolled out of the gym, and that DID seem super unprofessional (a friend also on the call joked that she didn’t remember buying tickets to the gun show). But I don’t think that’s necessarily always the case… hmmm.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      To provide a bit more context, I am on video calls literally 6-10 hours a day. So if I have to wear long sleeves / cardigans, I’ll probably die of heat stroke.

      Everyone in my usually buttoned-up workplace has been wearing casual t-shirts on calls, so it’s not an overly formal setting.

      My real concern is that my current wardrobe pretty much only consists of professional clothes meant to keep me warm when the office AC is set to 60… And extremely casual tank tops and shorts that I wear around the house to survive the summer heat. I’m kind of a heat princess. I don’t think I own a single t shirt. They’re all either tank tops or long sleeves.

      The issue is that they have cut our pay due to COVID, so I REALLY don’t want to spend my pennies on a new “work” wardrobe” of slightly less revealing summer clothes unless I have to.

      1. Ranon*

        A lightweight button down can be used like a cardigan but should be a lot more breathable/ comfortable, particularly if you can also get a fan set up (assuming you don’t have one already). And honestly no one is going to notice if you wear the same one over and over, particularly if the tank tops you wear underneath are different colors.