open thread – June 5-6, 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.

{ 956 comments… read them below }

  1. No Quarantine?*

    My children’s daycare center informed me at end of day on Friday, 5/29 that my youngest child’s(infant with health issues) teacher had tested positive for Covid-19. Obviously, it was emotionally gut wrenching as not only was my child exposed, but my other children and I at pickup and dropoff. The daycare has closed for 14 days and will re open June 15th.

    I work at another location for this same company. The owner contacted me and informed me that the last contact my child had with the teacher was on Wednesday (5/27), so I can come back on June 10th. They know I am a single parent that has limited child care resources. They told me I can just take my children to my location as they need my help working. They are still not opening the other center until June 15th. I stated I would need to discuss with ex(kids’ father). We are both in agreement to not send them back before the 15th as it would not be 14 days of quarantine. And I have no idea if someone else there contracted from said teacher and infected us on Thursday or Friday.

    My employer has called me several times asking me to come back on June 10th. I reiterated my feelings that this wasn’t safe each. When we turned back to me bringing my children to my location, I stated it was not fair that I had to bring my children back before the 14 days as their safety and mine wasn’t important as the other children who had to be gone the full duration. The response: their location is closed and mine is open. And I need to be at work.

    My question is, can my employer force me to bring my children to other location or require me to return to work before the 15th?

    1. Observer*

      Is bringing the child with you a risk to her or just a massive pain? If the latter, and your employer is allowing you to bring her in with you, then they can probably fire you and you would not be eligible for unemployment if they chose to dispute it. If there is actual risk to your child, they probably have to allow you to not come in.

      Of course, what they CAN do and what they SHOULD do are two different questions, and I’m only answering on my understanding of the first question.

      If her last contact was 5/27, then the 10 is 2 weeks, so I’m not sure what your calculation is here on that.

      1. No Quarantine?*

        I was not informed until Friday. And I don’t know that none of the other teachers didn’t pass it on to us on Thursday or Friday. And I don’t want my children to inadvertently bring this over to my location and then they have to close for 2 weeks. I discussed with children’s doctor and they said everyone needs 14 day quarantine.

        1. Observer*

          I could be wrong, I think that your employer is wrong on the law here. If your doctor is saying 2 weeks from the last time she was in day care because you don’t know who else might have gotten it there, then get a note from the doctor’s office. If they have a portal, this might already be in the portal and you could print that record out.

          With that, you should be able to (legally) push back – the doctor’s determination is that she needs to be quarantined, and they don’t get to second guess that.

          1. Nita*

            Isn’t there a new federal FMLA-type leave where if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, you’re entitled to two weeks’ leave? I hope someone with more HR expertise can weigh in on whether that can help OP.

            OP, I hope you and the family will be OK! I’m sorry your boss is so ridiculous. I can’t understand what they’re thinking asking you to work when you’ve possibly been exposed, and asking you to bring your LO who also may have been exposed.

            1. Natalie*

              Yes, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act should cover this situation, assuming OP works at a covered employer and hasn’t already exhausted it. In this situation they would be entitled to 10 days paid sick time, independent of any statutory sick time or PTO benefit, because a medical professional has told them to isolate. The employer can recoup 100% of the expense via tax credit. Link in reply.

              (The partially paid FMLA is available if you have to care for a child due to school or daycare closure, so not applicable.)

        2. Bad Intern*

          I am a fourth year graduate student in a medical field and during our last year of school we work full time in different health care or hospital settings to gain experience for our licensure. We spend 6 weeks at 8 different sites and we are not paid (we pay full tuition for this). During this time we work with our site’s on specific projects that we are graded on.

          My first week at my first site has just ended and I think it’s going very badly. My manager has largely sat me at a cubicle and ignored me for most of the week. I don’t know anyone (not even an introduction) so I don’t feel comfortable asking them for work to do. Important and relevant information is not being communicated to me.

          Today my manager and another manager pulled me into an office and told me that I looked, “too relaxed” at meetings and I needed to work on my posture and body language. I have not been spoken to at all during this meetings nor has any of the high-level content of the meetings been explained to me in the slightest. These are meetings where people frequently look at their phones or do work on a laptop.

          They also said that the dress I wore on Tuesday was unprofessional and too short (my manager was wearing a dress of a similar length that day). It is a navy blue dress with a pleated skirt that hits 2 inches above my knee. The people I showed the dress expressed disbelief that is was deemed unprofessional for my industry. Regardless, I thanked them for their feedback and said that I would be more mindful of the image I was portraying.

          More seriously, is that my manager has not given me critical information I need to complete my graded projects despite repeated promises that she had the information and would send it to me.

          Basically, I feel like I am being set up to fail. The work they are doing is important and it is a critical time with covid in the healthcare setting. I do not want to be in the way or overly demanding of time and resources but I feel awful and completely ignored and I don’t know what to do. I was excited for this rotation because this area of practice was my dream practice.

          Does anyone have advice?

          1. Early Bird Gets the Worm*

            If you haven’t been introduced to anyone, take the bull by the horns and introduce yourself!

          2. PA Julia*

            Is there someone at your graduate program who coordinates this part of the training? They should be able to guide you here.

      2. NaN*

        The teacher who was sick had contact with other teachers and students, who then had contact with No Quarantine’s child up to the 29th, so it seems logical to me that the child’s quarantine time should be 14 days from when the daycare shut down, not the last contact with that one teacher.

        Seems like the risk here is to the other kids/workers/parents at the daycare that’s open if No Quarantine and their child comes back to the daycare earlier than the full quarantine period.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think that’s how quarantine protocols are operating, though–it’s last contact with a known infected individual. Any of us are *possibly* infected individuals.

        2. Flavia de Luce*

          Yeah, I’ve done contact tracing, and the requirement is within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more of a known case. Without meeting those requirements we don’t list someone as a known contact. So for doctor’s note or other legal purposes they would probably go off of the 5/27 date.

        3. Katrinka*

          I just finished contact tracing training. The way that it is measured for quarantining and medical purposes is 14 days form last contact with known case. If someone else in that group becomes sick, they will be notified and will calculate from THAT known contact.

      3. These Old Wings*

        @Observer My understanding is that if you lose your job due to lack of childcare, you are eligible for unemployment under the CARES act. So even if she was fired, she would still be eligible to collect unemployment. Not great, and the company shouldn’t want you or your children coming to their other center before the 14 day quarantine is finished (I would be livid if I were a parent sending my child to the other center). You would think they wouldn’t want to risk the spread to their other center!

    2. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      If you’re on LinkedIn, I’ve found following HR and EEO lawyers have been incredibly helpful to learn how things are changing, particularly with the pandemic. I follow (and then follow those who comment on their posts) Jon Hyman Jannette Frisch Eric Meyer Daniel Schwartz Kate Bischoff

      In this area of concern, anything you’re told on social media should be taken as a possibility but not exact. Most likely you’ll receive conflicting information because this is in intricate issue that few to zero bosses or HR’s have dealt with before. You really need to contact someone in your home state as labor laws differ. Every state has a SHRM association who can help you find someone.

    3. KimmyBear*

      See if your county health department can advise you without risking your employment. I’m sure they would be very concerned with this situation.

    4. Logic*

      Can you get a dr’s note stating they and you have to be quarantined until a certain date? They cannot fight that I wouldn’t think.

    5. pcake*

      The CDC says it can take up to 14 days for people with Covid-19 to start showing symptoms. That’s why quarantine is 14 days. I suggest you talk to the health department. Perhaps if you ask, they can put you under 14 day mandatory quarantine.

  2. WFH & Lovin' it*

    Any advice on asking to make WFH a permanent thing for your position?

    My company has been WFH since early March and its being going very well. Prior to all of this we were only allowed to WFH one day a week. Any time I asked I was never given a good answer as to why that was the policy. Normally my manager would just give me some wishy-washy answer about it not being in her power to change but she would pass my feedback on up the chain. At the time, I was only asking to be allowed to WFH 2 days a week, but now I feel there is no reason not to ask my position to be made full time WFH. Every resource I need to do my job can be accessed online or in our internal portals. My position rarely ever gets any phone calls (I’m talking like maybe 1 call every couple months) and its always internal – we don’t answer any outside or customer calls. Our priority is email and IM communication because we must have the paper trail in our file to show why/when/how we did something. Any collaboration that needs to happen, like problem solving, we have been doing via Zoom or Skype. Upper management has commented several times how impressed they have been with our ability to stay connected, serve our customers, and hit every benchmark asked of us.

    Recently all the team managers sent out an email asking us how we are feeling about WFH and what we would like to do given the opportunity after all of this is over. I immediately replied that of course, I would love to go full time WFH. No one on any team had any reply from their manager, so I think they were just feeling out how we are all thinking/feeling about it right now. There is a small group of us who are loving WFH and want it to be made permanent for us. We understand not everyone works well this way, has the proper setup, etc. We don’t want a blanket policy that makes all of us WFH to the detriment of others in the department, but we do want to make sure we advocate that for us, this is a HUGE perk and we want it! Any advice on having discussions with management pushing for this to be allowed for those who want it?

    1. merp*

      No advice but I’ll be reading these comments. My job definitely couldn’t go full remote (large part of my job is public service) but I feel confident my team could have 1 remote day per week after all this, we definitely have enough staff to cover the desks/phones if people had regular virtual days that didn’t overlap. So far it seems like our leadership is tentatively open to that but there’s been lots of cases where there’s been a secret, unsaid “oh, but not for public service staff” attached and I think that may be operating here. I would love to convince them otherwise.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also reading. My current role is, and has been, 100% remote, but I’m looking at opportunities for advancement in roles that historically haven’t been remote (but have been for the last three months) and hoping to leverage a combination of “but it’s been working for the role so far” and “I’ve got a demonstrated track record of success in WFH” to hopefully stay remote in future opportunities.

    2. NYC Taxi*

      When you talk to your manager be analytical about it. Bring facts and data. What have you accomplished since lockdown? Have you reduced/streamline a regular task? What specifically has made you more efficient?

      1. Venus*

        I agree that this is key. Sell it to the employer as being in their favour. “I am able to accomplish [this] much more.”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      There is a small group of us who are loving WFH and want it to be made permanent for us.

      Any way you can present a proposal together as a group? And emphasize that it would be about flexibility and not a blanket policy you’d want for everyone?

    4. Dasein9*

      I have asked for a lot more wfh time and a title change because I am fairly sure there won’t be raises this year. (It’s definitely past time for the title change.) I framed it that way in my request, pointing out not only my increased productivity while wfh, but also that this costs the company nothing. I used language I’ve picked up from AAM for this, showing how changes to working conditions like this are to the company’s benefit.

    5. Anon Anon*

      I’m in a similar position. I would love to WFH full-time. But, even though my employer is supportive during COVID, I do not think they will be supportive long-term when COVID is over. They see WFH full-time as a burden to staff. And for some of our staff it truly is a burden for them. However, because what is being communicated is that it’s a burden I don’t think that my employer won’t go for it long-term. So I might ask how your employer is viewing WFH now. Do they see it as a burden like mine? Do they make comments about people being less productive than if they were in the office?

    6. Kettricken Farseer*

      I’ll be watching for input here as well. I’d always worked from home one day a week as well, and I’m loving doing it full time. I hope it remains permanent for those of us who want to!

    7. Uranus Wars*

      If the team managers haven’t replied back yet, the company might be trying to develop a strategy for what the office looks like when you do come back. What positions are location necessary, which can WFH part time/full time, which positions can work from home vs. in the office, which can wfh but have people in them that can’t, etc.

      Particularly with the comments from upper management I’d say this is likely high odds. I also wouldn’t advise to sit on it for a long time, but when RTW comes up again you could inquire and frame it from a productivity standpoint. If you are equally or more productive, I believe you have a solid case.

    8. New Job So Much Better*

      In the same boat and love WFH. Plus I have a high risk spouse and am really leery of going back anytime soon. Maybe come up with a list of positives for your company and present it to them.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Oh and my company has mentioned that it’s a burden to an employee, they will be able to choose to keep coming to the office.

      2. Anax*

        In the same boat! I’m the high-risk one in my household, and working in the office is rough on me physically at the best of times. I’d been considering requesting permanent WFH already, but this is definitely pushing me further in that direction.

    9. Thai Food Mary*

      One thing to think about is that once a good chunk of your company goes back to working from home, are you going to be missing out on opportunities when you don’t go into office at all? Just because you can do your specific job at home doesn’t necessarily mean the company is able to make that transition to all of its policies to make it easy to work from home.

      At my previous company, I moved and was able to stay on as a full-time remote employee and it was HARD. I was not the only remote employee, but since 3/4 of the company was connected to an office I missed out on a lot. Even with IM and email, it just wasn’t the same and that’s because the culture from the top down didn’t do anything to make it easier.

      At my current company I am also remote full time. About half the office worked remote full time before covid, and it makse a world of difference when a company is set up to include remote employees. Minor things like investing in technology make a huge difference, but it really is the atmosphere and knowing how to communicate across the board.

      If you company is slow to change than working remote full-time may not be beneficial to you. Things are different now because everyone is working from home, but don’t expect how is it now to carry over once people start going back into office and you stay working from home. Again all offices are different but you really have to know yours to understand if it can make that transition successfully.

      1. KaciHall*

        I was the last person to go back into the office at my job. 95% of my job can be done at home (would be 100% if I had the ability to make outgoing calls from a work line.)

        I found out when I got back that job duties had be changed, a major portion of my job has been pushed to someone else, and that they all assumed I knew about it because it had been talked about constantly in office (but not over IM or email.) I’ve been back for two weeks and am still finding out procedures that have changed but no one told me. It’s depressing.

        1. L in DC*

          Echo everything from Thai Food Mary and KaciHall. WFH has been wonderful, but when we go back to our office (in an extremely conservative organization) it’s not going to work just because a lot of superiors want to be able to yell for someone to come to their office – and we do it – rather or not what is being asked for is that person’s job. My coworkers and I use Slack for office banter/small requests/coordination, but that will go away when we’re all back in our cubicles. Oh well, it’s good to have the opportunity (and a job to begin with!)

    10. Annie*

      HRBP in a large company here, working on return to the office plans for 5 locations.

      I’d suggest waiting until your management team asks you to come back to work. Hopefully they’ll ask for volunteers first, and stagger people coming back in to avoid unnecessary exposure. When they ask you to come back, that’s the time to say, “I’ve been very happy working from home full time.” Detail how productive and accessible you have been, and then ask, “Can we talk about making this a permanent thing?”

      If they insist on collaboration in the office, maybe you can get 2-3 days a week – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Good luck :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My immediate co-workers and I are going to propose that we each work at home 5 days every two weeks so that they can put two of us in one cubicle. This only works for us because we already went through the full 5S training and know that our work spaces could be set up to be completely shared except for laptop.

        1. Dasein9*

          I was discussing this with our HR person yesterday in a casual conversation. I suggested that everyone should get their own chair and these could be labeled with names and moved in and out of the cubicles as needed. Chairs are harder to clean than desks, but also adjusting them all day could get distracting.

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        Before this happened, my company had a half-dozen employees living hundreds of miles away. They were all required to physically show up to the office once a month. It maintained the face-to-face connection without being too much of a burden. Depending on your situation, maybe that’s something you can propose?

    11. Nicki Name*

      Do you have a sense of what the overall feeling is toward WFH in your industry now? If it’s getting a major boost in acceptance (like companies declaring that they’re planning to reduce their office footprint) you can point toward that as extra support for your company allowing it.

    12. NewWorkingMama*

      I just asked my manager if there was an opportunity to extend my WFH beyond the planned return to work date. Our team has been operating REALLY well remotely (way more in sync then before) and I think we’re all enjoying it.

    13. Quinalla*

      Come with evidence to your manager – the same or increased productivity for you while WFH, still available to come in to the office occasionally for collaboration/important meetings, less desk space they need for the office. And think about the burden it will potentially be for your team/manager and how that can be smoothed over. Everyone like it or not has gotten a crash course in running remote meetings, communication with 100% remote folks, so make sure to address that too or at least be ready if they bring it up.

      I do think this is a great time to ask. I plan to ask to be able to WFH for 2 days a week myself going forward.

    14. WFH & Lovin' it*

      Just wanted to thank everyone for their replies! I am reading them all and brainstorming gathering info together for the next conversation with my manager. I think our management team is planning around returning to the office right now and my hope is that they proactively go ahead and offer this perk. Our company is overall very positive about flexibility and WFH so I never understood why the official policy was only once a week.

      As far as career advancement goes, I’m not too worried about it for myself. I am in a good position right now that I can see myself continuing to be happy in indefinitely and have built up a good reputation for my work ethic, quality of work, etc.etc. Our industry does tend to be one where a person will be in their position until retirement, we have several 30 yr and 40 yr people in the department.

  3. Sunset Maple*

    Businesses are opening up in my area, and I just got hit with a bunch of reschedulings all at once (dentist, ophthalmologist, etc.). I asked my boss if I could work around several afternoon appointments in the coming weeks, which isn’t unusual for our team to do. She approved it, but has been acting a bit odd since then…my gut tells me that she thinks I’m interviewing.

    I’m not, and younger me would rush to reassure her of that, but…this me doesn’t want to. I was casually job searching pre-Covid, and am still keeping my eyes peeled just in case. Even given the shakier ground everyone is on now, it seems like shooting my future self in the foot. Plus, generally speaking, I’d like to pull back and gain a bit more privacy in the workplace.

    Am I being too risky here, given the state of the economy? Would you go out of your way to point out that these ARE actually medical appointments, and just worry about hiding real interviews when that time comes?

    1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*

      I wouldn’t go out of my way, but if you’d normally share a detail like, “My glasses prescription changed again!” or “Ugh I hate going to the dentist” that could be a natural way of assuaging her concern.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Which would be what you would say if you were in fact trying to cover up interview time off. I don’t think there’s much you can do. Just do your work, take your time off as needed, and let it pass.

        1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*

          Personally, I wouldn’t do that…feels like lying for no reason. And I wouldn’t jump to “secret job interview” if someone said that to me. If my boss asked where I went and it was actually an interview, sure, I’d make something up, but I wouldn’t invent a cover story if I said “I have an appointment” and no one inquired further. YMMV, obviously.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Agreed, I wouldn’t, either. (I’m a goody two shoes and would worry my fake dentist appointment would be found out.) That was always the standing joke around my first office though. . .people came to work dressed extra nice and had “dentist appointments.”

      2. Quill*

        I always used to mention my dentists’ appointments because I have weird anasthesia reactions and I need more novocain than any other human to get a cavity filled… but then I can’t talk quite right for about three hours afterwards and I was concerned that I’d look a bit impaired. I’m fine to work, it’s just the mouth that’s out of commission!

        1. Rainy*

          Everyone knows when I go to the eye doctor, because I’m one of those people whose eyes love atropine and don’t want to let go of it. I have an appointment soon and have had to take off most of the day, because my doc is offering limited appointments and my job requires being able to look at documents, which I can’t do in the 24-30 hours my eyes take to undilate.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            Have you tried the version where they use a camera? That costs around $30 where I am, but it doesn’t require dilation. Might be worth it to avoid a day of semi-blindness.

            When I was a barely-adult, I did not realize that the dilation drops they give adults are not the same as whatever weak-sauce imitation they give to children. I turned down the camera, because I wasn’t going to spend $30 to avoid an eye drop. I went at lunchtime. I had a big deadline at 5pm. Oops. So I staggered back to my desk, pawed at my computer until I located the disability settings, cranked the magnification up as high as it would go, put my forehead on the monitor…and then I could just barely see well enough to do what I needed to do. 2/10 do not recommend.

    2. JustMyImagination*

      What about only mentioning it once or twice for less private appointments? For example after the dentist, “So happy to catch up on all these routine appointments, I missed dentist-clean teeth!”.

    3. Choggy*

      In what way has she been acting odd? Could be something completely unrelated. You could ask her if she says something to you but you’ve already asked about working around the appointments and she’s approved it. I think any kind of additional follow-up with her to confirm these are indeed medical appointments would look odd if she has not asked about them specifically.

      1. fogharty*

        I agree it could be unrelated, in that she doesn’t think you’re interviewing on the sly. Perhaps she thinks it’s too much too soon? She might be more hesitant about going to medical appointments or something and you’re picking up on that.

    4. MistOrMister*

      I used to give more info for appointments. But for a recent appointment that I had forgotten about, I just emailed my boss the day before and said I have an appointment tomorrow and will be unavailable for X hours. No idea if she assumed it was an interview, but if she did, not my problem. I think it really comes down to what you’re more comfortable with. But, I did realize at one point, if you always give specifics of why you’ll be out, you end up feeling like you look suspicious when you don’t provide any information. I’ve decided not to give extra info unless there’s a good reason for doing so, and they can think what they think.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      There’s probably nothing you can do to reassure your boss that these are actually medical appointments. If you keep mentioning it, they may think you’re overcompensating and are actually interviewing. And frankly it’s none of their business whether you’re interviewing or not and where you’re going. I always make all of my annual medical check ups at the same time each year.

    6. Retail not Retail*

      Ha i injured myself as we shifted to phase 2 and i’d been laying it on thick beforehand. I truly enjoy the harder work I had to do while we were closed!

      So i’m like i SWEAR i’m not trying to get out of work.

      As for you, you won’t be the only one with new appointments popping up!

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

      If you don’t want to seem like you are interviewing just state it as it is: “Businesses are opening up in my area, and I just got hit with a bunch of reschedulings all at once” etc.

      If you want to leave an element of wondering, explain away about half of the appointments.

  4. PX*

    For anyone who is black and jobhunting or just wants to network and position themselves better for the future, I’ve seen a lot of folks on LinkedIn and Twitter from various industries offer their time to do CV reviews, help introduce you to their network, offer job hunting advice and informational interview type things.

    If you’re not active on those platforms, it might be worth logging in. Happy to share via email some specific people I’ve seen do this in my wider network on LinkedIn (marketing/advertising [UK based], academia [STEM research]). If you’re an aspiring scriptwriter, one hashtag to look for is #readblackwriters.

    If you’re not black, and want to help: consider doing something similar if you have the time and energy.

    If anyone knows of any other obvious places to point people to, feel free to share in the comments.

    (Alison, feel free to delete if you’d rather not have this on here)

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      How does one offer this kind of help? I’m happy to spend time with people as I can, but I don’t really know how to put it out there that I’m available.

      FWIW – I am always happy to talk to those just starting in their environmental careers. I’ve done gov’t (state and county) and private sector. I’ve done regulatory policy & compliance inspections. I’ve been the sole woman in a very male-dominated office several times, with good support and a complete lack of support. I have in my LinkedIn that I welcome questions, informational interviews, etc. I’ve previously volunteered in a mentorship program through my alumni network, but they rarely had any enviro (or heck, even STEM) mentees – I got business majors 90% of the time, which I tried….but I’m not very helpful when it comes to marketing, for example. I don’t feel that I’m established enough to just blaze it on LinkedIn.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’m curious as to how to do this, too. I don’t have any formal qualifications but I do sometimes do copy editing for academic articles/dissertations, etc. I put it on twitter that I’d be happy to do this for anyone in my field (free, of course) but I didn’t get much response. Not surprising since I only have a small following but my LinkedIn group is even tinier. I suppose I could just post it there, too, and see if anyone takes me up on it.

        1. Idea*

          Maybe look for those on Twitter who are signal boosting. I’ve seen a lot of accounts with larger followings asking people to hit them up and they’ll be happy to Retweet to their followers.

      2. PX*

        You dont need to be super established to just blaze it! I only saw these through people in my network liking it, so part of why I think having it as a status that people can engage with helps “the algorithms” spread it out.

        Its interesting you mention your alumni network, for me I think in some ways that can be one small barrier (eg not everyone knows they exist, uses them, or has graduated to use them. Or as you say, they can target certain courses more than others). For me one of the groups I’m aiming to support is targeted at getting young black people into STEM (13-18) , but you could also consider if your university has a specific faculty group that you could reach out to, or specifically an association that could be interested (eg here you might have the Afro-Carribbean Student Society group at a university that would cover all students regardless of course) that could also benefit. There’s also a lot of suggestions for groups on the BlackAFinSTEM channels (twitter/instagram), and there may be more nature/compliance focused ones I dont know about.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I saw a lot of cool content on #BlackInNature. Many are birders but there were other fields represented, too — basically anything that involves being outdoors.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Followed both! Linked me to a few really cool people too, which is great.

            I don’t actually have a personal Twitter or Insta anymore (very rarely logged in, ended up getting hacked, gave up), but looks like those channels are starting on LinkedIn as well.

            My alumni network really, really heavily recruited people for the program but weren’t good at offering obvious STEM-related options (talks, roundtables, etc), so I think a lot of students just weren’t interested. It’s one of the reasons I volunteered, because when I was approached as a mentee there weren’t any STEM mentors. I’ll have to check and see what groups are still around that would want any sort of volunteer activity from me.

            I don’t know how to balance wanting to help but also not wanting to get in the way. Still learning!

        2. Ermintrude*

          Thank you so much for this. I’ve shared this hashtags with a UK rewilding charity I work with, who are hugely keen to get more people from different ethnic backgrounds other than white involved. Thank you!

      3. Free Meerkats*

        Hey EC, I just got a position approved in Everett if you want to regulate again. :)

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Haha! I’ll think about it, given I just spent 45 minutes cleaning my damn office windows so I could have sunshine and not a lovely view of Greasy Dirt. But now all the dirt’s on me instead of the window. I’m not sure how much of an upgrade that is.

          In all seriousness, if you are looking for someone out that direction (if it’s the direction I’m thinking of), I do know a couple people out that way.

    2. 867-5309*

      This is happening across my field and it feels a little off-tone. Like, “Look at me. I want to help. I’m helping.” We don’t need to hear about what white people are doing – we need to elevate black voices. Instead of this, share content from black professionals in your field, when you’re involved in hiring, make sure there is a diverse set of candidates and applicants, etc.

      1. Jackalope*

        I don’t know; I think if you’re in a field where there aren’t a lot of Black people working already, this is a valuable way to try to circumvent the “good old boys” network and help people get a foot in the door. Some of the things that I’ve heard on this blog or in real life, for example, that I wouldn’t have otherwise known: for example, you have to use the exact key words from the job ad for your resume, because it’s reviewed by a computer and if you write “look at” instead of “see” it will disqualify you and your application never gets seen by a human; in this industry you always (or never) provide a cover letter, make sure to act accordingly; here’s how to dress for an interview in this field and here’s the low-down on whether you use ma’am and sir; and so on. Especially in fields that have traditionally been hostile to Black people (and with few Black employees), this is one way to get around that.

  5. curiouskitten*

    Protesting while employed:
    What’s your advice on committing civil disobedience without losing your job in a pandemic?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish I had some. What’s difficult and admirable about civil disobedience is that you can be punished for it, either professionally or legally.

      1. Amy Sly*

        The point of civil disobedience is to suffer the consequences of breaking rule/law X so that others look at what happened to you and decide “if these are the consequences for breaking rule/law X, then rule/law X needs to change.” e.g. Black civil rights activists at white counters.

        That’s different from exercising one’s rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.

        1. MsPantaloons*

          This is such an important and useful distinction. Thank you for stating it so clearly.

          1. Amy Sly*

            And if you’re not going to follow the law, and you’re not willing to suffer the consequences, you’re not advancing the cause of civil rights. You’re a criminal appropriating the mantle of civil rights. Looting and burning down businesses in black neighborhoods just perpetuates food deserts and unemployment.

    2. JokeyJules*

      so long as i’m not wearing a company shirt and my work gets done (or i used my PTO to cover time i wouldnt be working) they do not care. i think it would only become an issue if i screamed into a camera “HI I’M JOKEYJULES AND I WORK FOR HOGWARTS” but then ended that sentence with a racist sentiment.

      1. Ashely*

        That isn’t entirely true. This is very employer dependent. I think there would be a lot of bad press if you an employee got fired for participating in a peaceful protest after work hours, but employees in most states are at will. I would feel out your company and maybe talk to a trusted co-worker.

        1. JokeyJules*

          you’re right, i should have specified that this is how my company operates specifically, and that this isnt a broad statement. currently we have several staff doing yoga classes for fundraisers for BLM and protestor bail funds, among other iniatives – i realize my company is handling this all a lot differently than most.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Definitely depends on company culture. Years ago I got fired because I attended a small local demonstration (on my day off) which made the evening news, and I was clearly visible on the video. My employer did not agree with the protest stance and fired me the next day, ostensibly for some other reason but I’m quite sure it was because of the protest.

    3. anon29*

      I’d love answers to this as well. I work in a job where I work for politicians but DO NOT work in politics and treading this line can get difficult at times (I do not have the same political leanings as most people here). For the most part, the people I work for would not have an issue with me participating in a protest (not at work obviously), but 1 or 2 would and could make life very difficult for me. I can’t lose my job. I don’t have any family and I don’t have any savings. I just don’t know what to do and posting on social media and going to black owned business and donating to funds just seems not enough.

      1. Web Crawler*

        Here’s some other things you can do to help that aren’t protesting. I can’t be on the streets right now for health reasons, and it’s definitely getting to me too.

        1. Find groups that are organizing protests, offer your help, and specify that you can only help remotely. In my experience every activist group has a million back office tasks that nobody wants to do because they’d rather be outside with signs. And some of those tasks can be pretty important, and make everything more efficient when finally done

        2. If you’re good at research, find resources for people- stuff like “what are my rights in if I get arrested?” or “what should you bring to a protest?” Share on social media, or print and give to a friend on the street to pass out

        3. Offer rides on social media- either dropping off people at the protests (bc getting towed is a risk if you get arrested and can’t move your car) or picking people up from jail

        4. If you know where a protest is, drop by wearing sunglasses and a mask, and drop off a crate of bottled water and some granola bars or apples or other snacks. It’ll definitely be appreciated

        1. Katrinka*

          I was at a protest yesterday and cases of water were handed around periodically, and lots of reminders to stay hydrated because of the heat (plus your throat gets dry after chanting a lot). There were also things like energy bars, granola bars, Gatorade, etc. I would also recommend sunscreen and hand sanitizer (if you can find some) – those two items I heard people wishing they had during the protest (It was sunny and hot here yesterday). Oh! and trash bags! People were wandering through the crowd periodically with bags collecting trash. And people cleaned up after everyone left, too. We weren’t giving officials any reason to turn us down in the future.

        2. anon29*

          These are great ideas, thank you. There always seems to be some people standing on our town square and a couple of other intersection after work holding signs, I’m going to swing by with stuff today. And I can probably contact some of the organizers privately to offer help. People know where I work here, but I think they wouldn’t say anything.

          1. Web Crawler*

            Nice! And if you tell the organizers that you don’t want work to know you’re helping, I’m sure they’ll understand.

        3. Quill*

          5. Transcribe, archive, and document current events on social media (you do not need to do this by reposting under your legal name, you can file things in the Wayback Machine without that.)

          Particularly, store journalism, health guidelines from channels like the CDC and other formerly reliable government agencies that could be ordered to take some items (like protocols for decontaminating from tear gas) offlline, in both on and offline formats. AltEPA and AltNationalParksService have been pretty robustly storing such data for approximately 4 years now.

          6. If you have any language skills at all, connect with veterans of other protests outside the US. (Depending on the location, many are very fluent in english, but if you have language skills this is especially important to keep communications open.)

        4. AngelicGamer, the Legally Blind Peep*

          5. MASKS. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic and we need strong voices to stay healthy. I just made a donation of them at a local protest.

        5. Sandi*

          A small yet easy suggestion:
          The news stories on BLM need to stay in the media for as long as possible. Media focuses on the stories that are popular. Go online to news websites and click on all their stories that involve the topic. Each person who views them is a very small drop in the bucket, but they increase the likelihood that there will be more news stories, and therefore more focus on the problem, and a greater chance that politicians will act. I don’t always have the time to read articles, but I at least click on the topics that matter to me.

          “Why clicking on this story about indigenous people matters”

          “Whereas news organizations in the past relied mostly on gut instinct to gauge the importance of any particular subject to the audience, they now have hellishly accurate online tools that can measure precisely how many people are reading any story at any moment. Big numbers are the prize, and editors and columnists know beyond a doubt that when they select certain topics for coverage, the audience will probably tank.”

    4. Ali G*

      I guess it depends on your employer? My boss, our CEO was in the DC protest on Monday.
      Are you worried you will get arrested and fired. or just that someone will find out and be then be fired?

      1. Anon for this*

        It’s about knowing your company culture. My office is in the dc protest zone. My company sent out guidance on protecting yourself (from COVID, from rioting, etc) if you protest.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          Yeah, it will vary a lot.

          Where I work at least two of our board members were deeply involved in national liberation struggles, helping bring democracy to their nations after dictatorship and apartheid. I’m pretty sure at least one of them was running around with a machine gun in her younger life, though mainly speaking/organizing, not shooting.

          So I’ll say it varies a lot. Getting arrested now would not hurt the current job, though it could have longer-term career implications if switching jobs.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      Use PTO, don’t wear company identifiers, don’t get arrested if you can’t spend additional time away from work, and don’t catch Covid and bring it back to the office.

      I think that should cover it.

    6. Perpal*

      I think a lot depends on your job, and what type of protest; my own work place is having a small demonstration today; I feel pretty confident if I went to other peaceful demonstrations and was for some reason reported to them for being there, they wouldn’t have an issue with it.

    7. Web Crawler*

      A lot depends on your particular situation and job. But here’s some general guidance:

      1. Don’t put yourself at risk for arrest if you have to work the next day and have no leeway. There’s plenty you can do to help without being arrestable- offering rides to people just let out of jail for protesting, compiling lists of resources, bringing supplies to protesters, making flyers to hand out about your rights, etc

      2. Set up a system for if you’re arrested. Find someone you can trust and give them instructions. Aka, “if I’m not out by Tuesday, call my job and tell them I had an emergency. I can pay you back for bail money. Make sure my cat is fed”. Write their phone number on your arm when you go out- plan for the cops taking your phone

      3. If you think your job is at risk for protesting even if you don’t get arrested, consider helping other ways. I can give more examples of being useful if asked.

      4. This is not work-related but WEAR A MASK. Shouting sends lots of micro bits of saliva everywhere (more than talking) and everyone will be yelling. We’re still in a pandemic and protests are very high risk. Plus, obscuring your face makes you less identifiable, which is safer for you all around.

        1. Katrinka*

          Recommendations are for masks, sunglasses, and hats. And turn away from any cameras you see.

      1. RoseDark*

        I’ve seen a recommendation to write the number on your leg or stomach — somewhere not immediately and highly visible — because police may assume you’re looking to get arrested and it may make you a target.

        I went ahead and just memorized my emergency contact numbers. It took about an hour for three of them and I still have them six days later.

    8. Cendol*

      Yes, I would love to know. But my gut says you have to commit to the possibility that you *could* lose your job, and hope that a reasonable future employer would understand. Or you make the calculation: maybe continued employment means you’ll have the money to donate to bail funds and other causes, so you skip the public acts of civil disobedience and help wherever else you can.

      (I’m thinking about the furloughed and now suspended attorney who was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at an empty vehicle in NYC. I want to think he’d be able to get another job after this, because an employer who wants to be on the right side of history would understand his anger and frustration and the reason behind his lapse of judgment. I imagine losing your job *just* for joining a protest–and not throwing incendiaries–would get you even more leeway.)

      1. Nita*

        Really? Someone who derails a peaceful protest like this deserves very little sympathy in my opinion. Very entitled of them. They’re attorneys, they’re already out on bail and will be just fine, but their actions will keep impacting others in all kinds of unpleasant ways.

    9. Mid*

      Make it difficult for you to be identified, make it difficult to find out your employer if you are identified, know your legal rights, and hope your company culture is one that you won’t face backlash.

      I’ve been protesting pretty much every day since it started. I wear a mask (for multiple reason), my social media is locked down, I never mention my employer by name on social media, my LinkedIn is set to maximum privacy for the foreseeable future. And I don’t do anything I wouldn’t be willing to have my boss see (we have a liberal enough office that I’m not worried about getting in trouble for protesting.)

      1. Mid*

        Oh, I also have a bail out plan, and I have enough PTO where if I needed to miss work on short notice, I could do so. My job is fairly autonomous, so me missing a day wouldn’t be a huge issue either.

        1. Star*

          I wish I could hug you and I’m sending all my hopes for your continued safety. Thank you for doing this.

    10. New Job So Much Better*

      “What’s your advice on committing civil disobedience without losing your job in a pandemic?”

      Well there’s a question I would never have expected to read on AAM. What a year.

      1. Cendol*

        Seriously. It’s like a science fiction/alternate universe parody of AAM… We live in the worst timeline.

      2. Quill*

        Honestly I’m… kind of surprised it hasn’t come up in previous recent years?

        We have had a lot of public demonstrations just in the teens.

        1. Web Crawler*

          I asked in an open thread about a year ago, but all the advice I got was “don’t protest” with a side of “why do you want to protest so bad anyway?”. It kind of put me off asking anything else about the subject.

          One of the things that amazes me about this movement is how fast it shifted the majority attitude towards protesting. It’s incredible!

          1. Quill*

            To be honest, I wonder if COVID has contributed to the acceptance of this protest – people may be more likely to see other people’s widespread chronic stress as valid, people are perhaps more likely to assume that anyone going out and about has important reasons to do so, our trust in the US government has been eroded beyond what it was even last fall, which was pretty damn low.

            Combined with the fact that it’s an election year and historically, if a regime wants to stay in power forever they make their moves around the time when a transition of power could occur, for the purposes of pretending legitimacy for as long as possible, I have a feeling that the hindbrain of society is recognizing the danger more readily even for people who have been living under a rock.

            1. Web Crawler*

              I 100% agree with you for all the reasons you stated, plus the historic unemployment numbers and people getting to watch in real time the failure of many governments to protect their citizens (aka, opening up businesses too early and other COVID-related things).

              Because there’s been other brutal murders by cops caught on camera, and none of the backlash has reached anywhere near these levels.

              1. Quill*

                TBH if the (multiple) murders of children did not tip this much general public outrage, and far messier means of death have not created widespread knowledge, it’s gotta be contributing factors.

              2. Jules the 3rd*

                Yes, some the stress, but… this was a particularly up close and personal recording of death. Breonna Taylor was just the week before, and didn’t stir up as much anger, though the police there were just as wrong.

                I know a very laid-back guy, heart in the right place but still kinda stuck on ‘we shouldn’t see color’. He saw that video and was livid. He was unhappy about Breonna and John Crawford and Tamir; he’s been to occasional protests and knows police violence is a real problem. But this week, that video, he got angry. I think it hit his heart in a way it hadn’t hit before.

          2. RagingADHD*

            The widespread documentation of unconstitutional suppression of peaceful protests, and direct police assaults against the media, have really shifted a lot of opinions.

            Teargassing the clergy & congregants of St Johns in DC and forcing them out of their own church grounds for a photo op, has had a bigger impact on the religious right than most people realize yet.

    11. Reba*

      There is a discussion going around my workplace on this today. We have pretty clear rules on what is allowed for employees (basically, don’t represent the organization when you do political stuff, don’t talk politics with subordinates). Although our superiors are very supportive in principle, we are getting mixed messages on how protesting may affect future background checks and employment eligibility. It’s kinda coming across as “you can protest but just don’t get arrested.” Well.

      This is a particular concern in my unit because many people work on short-term contracts or temporary hire, but come back yearly and would face a background check each time. Arrest can affect eligibility–this sorta makes sense on its face–but in light of the use of kettling, the nearly-always-illegal mass arrest tactic, on demonstrators, we are concerned!

    12. Quill*

      Personal safety that can also help you remain unidentified:

      (aka, if you’re coordinating things over a private messaging app called, let’s say, Eris, but you made your Eris account with an email that links back to your phone number, google ID, or an email with your legal name – do not actually use that app or social media.)

      2) Most people suggest carrying a burner phone to protests (due to potential damage / confiscation of your actual device) and writing your info for who you would call to gather bail / get you in case of a medical situation / coordinate a ride back on your body. My advice is that you should take no unnecessary ID’s or payment cards with you either, but if you’re not white, please consult someone with more expertise, because cops are going to react differently to arresting a white person without their state ID on hand than a person of color, especially if they’re latino/a right now.

      3) Have a backup plan regardless. There’s a reason that, historically, students have been so active as protesters – in many cases they still have a place to go and some degree of external financial support if their employment or education is compromised during their protests. Go into these actions assuming that they can and will cost you – in a legal, reputational, professional, or personal injury sense.

      4) Wear eye protection and have multiple cloth covid masks on hand. Any dampening of your mask makes it a less effective barrier, and chemical irritants on your mask render it worse than useless, so change masks immediately if that occurs.

      5) Do not assume that the covid mask secures your identity – facial recognition algorithms are in wide use not just by police and the government, but available for sale to just about anyboy who can fund them. Even if your employer is generally chill about what you do in your free time & your right to free speech and peaceful assembly, counter-protestors have doxxed people and harassed them at their place of work in the past.

    13. LGC*

      Okay so…it is 2020, but also it’s 2020. I’m not going to editorialize about the regimes in charge across the US, but there are many companies that are at least somewhat opposed to them. I’d assess the risk at your company, the risk you’re willing to take, and proceed accordingly.

      Civil disobedience is a form of protest, but not the only form. (Here, I’m using Anonymous Educator’s definition, which is breaking a law you feel is unjust.) But to lower your risk for blowback in real world protesting, don’t make yourself overly identifiable and conspicuous. (Which is hard when you yourself ARE conspicuous.) Don’t do anything permanent. (For example, sidewalk chalk is highly visible on asphalt, but washes away.) And be careful, especially if you live in an area where you might be in significant danger for supporting BLM.

      But anything is risky. Even social media. You just have to be comfortable with

      1. LGC*

        …you just have to be comfortable with at least some risk, because that’s inherent. If it wasn’t controversial (although, it’s mind blowing that “LGC is equal to white Americans” IS a controversy to a lot of people), you wouldn’t need to protest.

    14. City Employee*

      I’m definitely following this thread. I work for a municipality, so it’s been a bit bizarre to start my day off with a message from The Big Boss saying, basically, “Our hard-working police officers are so brave. :)” and then when I clock out, changing clothes and protesting my government/employer. I’ve been sticking to our regulations about not discussing or participating in politics on city time much more strictly than my coworkers have, and I’ve made sure to post selfies on Facebook within ~15 minutes of the end of my shift establishing my location as Not! at the protests.

      1. Brett*

        It is not that bizarre. I was employed by one of the responding agencies during the Ferguson protests. Every day, we had food delivered into our ops center, which was staffed full of police chiefs, fire chiefs, feds, etc.
        It was almost always more food than we could eat. I asked permission, and was granted it, to take all the leftover food out to the protest support organizations to feed protesters. And yes, the protestors knew the food was coming from the police department and had no qualms about it.

    15. Night of the Living History*

      Sanitize your social media of any mention of your workplace — that includes not only listing where you work/your position, but also friends/follows within the company and photos of work-related things. Try not to get arrested but come prepared with contact info/payment means to ensure you are released as soon as possible so can try to avoid missing work (you may need to use your one phone call for a call other than calling off work).

      Our director just told us if we went to a protest to not come into the office for 14 days. This is the most responsible thing to do but I know not all workplaces will be okay with this. However, it’s wise to assume you have been exposed to COVID and act accordingly as far as you possibly can.

      1. demosthenes*

        I wonder if you can ask your employer what their response would be if you were arrested or if someone was arrested. We had employees ask our department so we sent them our response.
        1) All schedule requests would be granted at this time for participation regardless of time remaining in their PTO/UPTO bank and training level.
        2) If arrested, an appeal would be made on behalf of the employee by our company to the state if licensing became an issue (there is strict control over their license related to arrests).
        3) If BLM items were worn or displayed at work it would fall under the EEOC and our company policy related to human rights, civil right, covered classes. If other items were worn opposing BLM, it would be a displinary process up to termination depending on the item/response by employee.

        It goes on. I would get the info from your company to see how to protect yourself. If their response is not open, you will know how to prepare?

        1. Indy Dem*

          Reading your responses to your employees made me tear up a little. Good on you for helping this way.

    16. voyager1*

      This got posted to reddit in regards avoiding getting arrested:

      Turn off your GPS and Bluetooth if possible and please disable all biometric unlocking on your device, fingerprint AND facial recognition.

      Police are tracking protesters via GPS and can unlock and search your phone without warrant via biometrics. Some app developers that use Bluetooth are also reporting your location to police.

      Record everything! Live services or direct to cloud may serve you better in this regard, but if you don’t have access to those then play it safe and also turn off 4g and wireless.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Yes, just use a PIN on your (preferably burner) phone. IANAL, but I heard on Fresh air a while back that you can be compelled to use your biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition etc) but not compelled to give anyone your PIN.

    17. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It would not be too difficult to obscure your identity. Hat for protection from the sun, sunglasses, and a mask for Covid. Don’t wear easily identifiable clothing, don’t get arrested, and don’t advertise on social media. With that getup, you could appear on the nightly news and not be recognizable or have plausible deniability.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Only works up to the point of arrest. Once you’re arrested, you have to assume you are known.

    18. Jules the 3rd*

      You really have to know your workplace and work with their restrictions.

      I have not joined extra-legal protests because I’m the main breadwinner, and my employer does not like bad press. They *say* that if I don’t link public acts to them, it’s ok, but I’ve chatted with various people including managers, and they’ve been unanimous, that public acts that are legal are fine, but getting arrested would harm my career and put my employment at risk, even if it was something like NC’s Moral Mondays from a few years ago (hundreds arrested for trespassing at the state legislature, which is public property; all charges dropped).

      So I’ve been out at protests this week, but leave by sundown. In my area, no one’s been getting arrested during the day. My employer’s got a slack channel where the encouraged pledge includes ‘not remaining silent’, so I figure I’m in line with the culture there…

    19. KR*

      I found out the local protest was happening this morning… last night. I had too much work to call off. I dropped off some water but they were done for the day when I went back after work. I wonder how many more people would protest if they had more time off work.

      1. KR*

        In that vein, everything I post online is my opinion & not affiliated with my employer. I guess that phrase is what’s important to them.

        1. KR*

          Sorry, keep forgetting. Make sure a trusted friend or family member has your bosses phone number!! So if you get arrested, they can tell your job so it isn’t a no-call, no-show!!

    20. lazy intellectual*

      I’m so happy I finally work at a place where people can openly talk about participating in protests and civil disobedience without being afraid of getting into trouble. This definitely would not have been the case in my last job. In my last job, my coworker was admonished for having a Black Lives Matter pin on her bag.

      That being said, I don’t know what would happen if I got arrested and was forced to miss work because of it. I’m nonwhite and am afraid to risk this.

    21. academic librarian*

      i am really, really lucky that i’ve always been able to be fairly open about my work in the movement against prisons and policing already at work, even moreso now. i just want to add that for folks that aren’t as lucky, you can help out at home too! having friends at home listening to the police scanner and sending updates definitely saved me and others from getting tear gassed by the cops—i was in a crowd of people peacefully milling around when i got an update saying they were “preparing chemical munitions.” there are so many ways you can participate without being out on the front lines and every role is important!

  6. Remote HealthWorker*

    This is a solidarity post. If you want to argue about BLM please skip as this is not the thread for that.

    Yesterday’s post about the pain of Business as Usual struck a chord.
    Even though I am white I feel the same way. I have to resist the urge to scream “who cares about TPS reports! Black Americans are being murdered by the police! The president is ordering the military to fire on lawfully gathered peaceful protestors! Police in Charlotte choraled protestors into a parking garage to trap and shoot them with concussion grenades, pepper spray, and rubber bullets! NYC police rammed protestors with vehicles! Why aren’t we talking about this!”

    I’m angry. Angry that our culture of politeness means we don’t talk about this at work. Angry that systemic/structural racism is benefiting again! Because what is this silence and business as usual other than that?

    I reached out to a black coworker and was terrified. Would I make it worse? Would she feel uncomfortable talking about it with me? Would I get in trouble at work and put my families last income source at risk?

    I did it anyway. I tried to make it safe for her. I let her know she was free to not have the conversation. I told her I was sorry about George, Breona, and Ahmaud. Then I listened as she told me about how she as a mother of black sons and preps them from a young age. “Be polite, it doesn’t matter how much they humiliate you. Your pride is not worth your life.” That hit home for me. Sure I’d heard the rhetoric before. But this was a person. A woman I knew and respected. This was real.

    So to all my black coworkers out there I am sorry. I am angry and sad with you, but I can’t even imagine how it feels for you.

    1. Vina*


      Another American so fed-up with the complete inability of our country to own what it is, to care, to change.

      All I can say to our black posters is that I’m sorry and we will listen if you need to vent or share ideas.

      There are a lot of us here who will try and have your backs if you want to post on this.

      And to anyone else who is white: not the time to do any whataboutism, denial, or deflection. So not the time.

      1. Vina*

        *Try = because we can’t be here 24/7/365. I hope when we are here we do have your backs.

      2. Star*

        BTW, I was reading your comments across a couple of different discussions today, and was really heartened by them. Thank you.

    2. The Original K.*

      I’m Black and did not submit yesterday’s letter but I could have. I had the added frustration of my boss & one other person on the team talk about how bad the looting was, and what about the jobs those businesses create? The other Black person on the team and I were silent (this was on a team call so we had to be there).

      The CEO sent a generic “racism is bad” email but other than that? Silence. More concern was expressed over the weather (which is to say, there was at least SOME concern expressed over the weather).

        1. The Original K.*

          Oh, it didn’t surprise me at all. Disappointed me, yes. Frustrated me, yes. Surprised me, no.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The company I work for is like 70% white women (that may be a slight exaggeration, but we are definitely majority female and majority white). The C-Level folks have gotten more white and more male since I started three years ago. Only two women in higher-up positions, and one non-white person (a gay Filipino man). And it’s so frustrating – a lot of lip service toward diversity and a generic email yesterday about wanting everyone to feel safe at work and “supporting racial justice” but no real action. I was talking to one of my teammates about this, how can we expect to have a diverse company if we can’t even make the black and other minority employees we have feel safe and seen?

        Anyway – I want to say that I see you, I feel your frustration, and I’m sorry.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          We got the same email….lip service and a line about “listening to and appreciating the contributions of our Black employees”. Right when that email hit everyone’s inboxes I got a wall-o-text ROFL from the warehouse manager (he’s been the target of a few attempted ‘not doing your job’ setups from management before this). The warehouse team is entirely black, and my team seems to be the only people who respect them and the work they do–I’ve busted ass to help out if they were down a man or otherwise swamped. Very interested to see if anything actually changes…we got each others backs and always have but especially now.

      2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        I’m black and fortunate to work at a place that is pretty progressive and good on race. Not perfect (is there such a thing) but way way better than US society as a whole. I live in New York City and am privileged in many respects, though have faced all sort of low-level racism in my life.

        And in my situation I feel the opposite as in yesterdays’ letter – it’s exhausting to talk about race and racism for me at work. It is nice to have management check in in case people want that issue explored. But because I’m on a couple different teams I’ve been asked to two different discussions of what is happening now. I’m not interested. The concern is nice, but I don’t need that conversation at work.

        When it came up this week, one person, is very nice, had to throw in a “violence against ALL people” is bad. And on Monday I had a very very well-meaning teammate ask me with concern how I was doing etc. And I had to respond with “Um, fine? Why are you asking in that way” because I literally did not know what she was thinking of. Police have been hurting black people for, like, centuries in this country. This stuff is not new. So to me, if racism is an elephant in the room, then it’s been there for years. If people want to act, act on it all the time.

        For sure management in companies should reach out from time to time to make sure black people (and other marginalized people) are doing OK, but to a large extent the feeling that this is an especially bad moment miss the fact that things are bad in this regard ALL THE TIME.

        I’m reminded of the following from SNL (pretty sexist, BTW but spot-on about racism in America):

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          *standing ovation* You said a word, especially this:

          If people want to act, act on it all the time.

          None of what is happening now is new, nor should it be surprising.

        2. Always Late to the Party*

          I’ve debated reaching out to black coworkers, and your comment about the interaction of your well-meaning coworker is why I haven’t. Black folks have been living with the fear of police brutality their entire lives; us white folks are just starting to let ourselves become aware of this.

          Something else I think that gets lost in the “how should I treat black coworkers” discussion is that black folks are still individuals, process feelings differently, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to treat black folks. Some may feel grateful to be asked how they are doing; some may be trying to immerse themselves in work and don’t want to spend the emotional energy reassuring their white colleagues; or any number of other scenarios.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I’ve been focusing on talking to other white people, especially the people who post things like “please tell me what to do to help you” on twitter and directing them toward various things that have already been written. I have been that person who really wants to be “not racist” but had not quite made the connection that it’s much more than just trying to treat people politely or not use racist terms, etc. It’s probably not particularly helpful but I hope it’s somewhere to start.

            1. NapkinThief*

              THANK YOU.

              I have so many things to say about the well-meaning but ultimately empty “I don’t know what to do!” handwringing I see everywhere, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate seeing someone nonblack copy & paste links to “75 things white people can do about racism” or the google doc with ways to be Anti Racist ….it‘s such a relief to not have to do the work of googling for people on top of my own emotional recovery. Plus I appreciate you taking on the task of indirectly exposing who is performing concern and who is serious about it, and with it the risk of potential blow back or excuses or whatever other negative response that can sometimes result.

          2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “I’ve been focusing on talking to other white people,”


            “your comment about the interaction of your well-meaning coworker is why I haven’t.”
            Yes, but I hope i didn’t come across as too judgey.

            Really there are two ways to do it – one is to be like “OMG this is terribe, did you see all this stuff?? How do you feel? What should I do!?” That is tiring but it comes from a place of caring a bit.

            The other way is to admit being oblivious and expressing that your eyes are opening and you want to do better. It’s “Wow, I realize I was pretty oblivious to what’s been happening and am trying to figure out how to be better informed and better person.”

            I’ll add that I have been in the first category about certain issues, such as sexism and ableism, and am trying to do better.

      3. Remote HealthWorker*

        I had a coworker talk about the looting and I had a Frank conversation with her. Essentially – what’s a few police cruisers and broken windows compared to a man being slowly murdered as 3 cops watch? Or a woman lies in bed asleep as she is shot by officers? Or another man, out on a jog, is chased down by white vigilante and murdered and there is no arrest?

        She hadn’t thought about it that way before.

    3. Jenny*

      Agreed. I’ve been crying between meetings. My jaw is sore from being so clenched. I feel like I can’t do any work. Even though my company has taken this head on, provided support, given our black colleagues a platform, it still doesn’t feel like enough.

      On a call this week, a black colleague told us that she was thankful we were acknowledging what was going on because there have been so many times in the past that she’s come to work and had to shut her office door and cry alone because of something that affected the black community. I can’t imagine feeling like this all the time. I have no idea what it’s like. I am sad and I am so, so angry. Black Lives Matter and I stand with them.

    4. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      Thank you. I had the same feeling reading that post. I think I understand why Alison made it comment free and agree with that. I just want to say to the LW that they shouldn’t be singled out at all because this should be a shared burden. We should all be grieving and scared. I’m not comparing LW’s feelings to white people’s. Soooooo not the same. Just saying that if there were NO POC in the meetings, it’s still the elephant in the room. I’m sick of racism being a POC problem. It’s a societal problem.
      If you choose silence, you are siding with the oppressor.

      1. Quill*

        I’ve seen letters in the very recent past where the comments section has gone on a long and ultimately frustrating tear about denying the LW’s lived experience with discrimination, I’m glad Alison took a hint (possibly from captain awkward?) about shutting that down preemptively.

    5. Perpal*

      Yeah, I want to do something but also don’t want to overstep as I am not black.
      Yesterday’s post prompted me to send something out to my team, albiet I did it as an all person broadcast with an invitation to talk to me if they needed more help / breaks / vacation. I just… want to be supportive, but really want to avoid singling anyone out, especially when there are several different minority groups on my team who might all be effected by this but aren’t necessarily black, and who also work on multiple teams.
      I feel like a demonstration or words aren’t enough, though. I’m going to try to see if I can help somehow with increasing racial diversity in our medial workforce, the area I probably have the most direct influence on and have noticed distinct underrepresentation (it’s a national problem but maybe we can take steps here to do better than average, which isn’t good enough)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I just… want to be supportive, but really want to avoid singling anyone out, especially when there are several different minority groups on my team who might all be effected by this but aren’t necessarily black

        And not singling out your black coworkers can also help if, like me, they’re not that affected by this in the first place. It hasn’t happened to me at all, but it would be awkward as hell for someone white to reach out to me offering condolences for the loss of people I don’t even know. In fact, I’d be mad as hell. My actual uncle just died not even three weeks ago, possibly of suicide by drug overdose, and that’s where my grief lies right now. I feel for the families of the people who were killed, but the assumption that I would be broken up by this stuff that’s been happening to my people for nearly 400 years would be the wrong one.

        1. Lyudie*

          I’m so sorry about your uncle Diahann. What a heavy weight on top of everything else <3

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Thank you. My uncle struggled for nearly 40 years with mental health and substance abuse issues, so I’m just grateful he’s no longer in pain and suffering.

        2. Sam I Am*

          Condolences for you about your uncle. I hope you and your family have some good memories to find your peace in, addiction is a nasty disease.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m no longer working at my company so I have no idea what they’re doing but I wouldn’t be surprised if they adopted the “business as usual” model as well. My ex-VP definitely had a bias against black employees and others who weren’t like herself. The culture was such that when a junior employee referred to a coworker as “this n-a”, people defended her and mocked the guy that complained about it. Disgusting.

      I’m just as angry about all of this going on, and I have no more tolerance for the ALM-crowd. At this point in time and history there’s no excuse to being ignorant when there are so many resources out there to explain why ALM is harmful. I’m disgusted that more importance is given to boarded up designer stores on 5th Avenue than literal lives being ruined and lost. Beyond donating and educating and praying, I’m at a loss.

    7. ieAnon*

      I feel the same way. I spent Mon/Tues crying between Zoom meetings, and cringing through the awkward requisite statements at the start of every call. I’m at an organization that’s been rocked by racial issues over the past few years, so we should really be responding more proactively, but a lot of higher-ups won’t even say the word “protest” out loud. It’s a vague kind of gesture to “all this going on.”

      I’m so frustrated and furious and cannot begin to imagine how this all must feel for my Black colleagues.

    8. Quill*

      In all honesty I have been feeling this way for… some time.
      There are many avenues that the world has been on fire / feeling like it’s ending / actively ignoring impending major societal problems for years. More than four years, for the majority of them.

      Perhaps it’s because I’m old enough to remember a time before 9/11 but spent most of my formative years after it, but I think the reason that so many people are less politically engaged than we might hope is because changing regimes and cultural problems is by nature a battle of attrition. Historically, keeping people too damn tired to do much beyond survive has been one of many methods of population control, whether by invaders or unpopular regimes.

      I find that comparing my level of hypervigilance to people who demographically have more obvious reasons to be stressed hasn’t helped overall. In the end I’m having a natural reaction to a threat to my community, and the ongoing anger is part of our heritage as a social species.

      If listening and learning is what I can offer, I’ll do it. If I can make one colleague feel safer by acknowledging their struggle on any topic, whether that’s respecting someone’s religion, acknowledging the realities they face in this racist society, or using my relative privilege as a white, cis, invisibly queer lady to make the stink that helps someone else out, I’ll be looking for it.

      Personally I’m best suited to behind the lines medic duties, whether that’s physical or emotional, but I just want to second this thread: Solidarity is fucking mandatory.

    9. anon today*

      Someone told me I should post postivie and fun things on social media to break up the negative. I would love to be able to do that, but I feel like that’s a lot having a picnic while ignoring my neighbor’s house is on fire.

      1. Star*

        I’ve been saying to my frienfs that I really want — hell, I need — to hear about the good things going on with them. We are fighting to be able to live, after all — hearing about people’s lives bolsters and strengthens me.

        Please post about good things if you want to. Think of it as sharing your water with your neighbor who got out of the burning house. It’s not a big or a permanent thing but it does help keep people going.

      2. TheSnarkyB*

        Honestly, it has made me absolutely rage when I see stuff like this from white people on social media. There’s no way for it to not come across as a reminder that white people get to keep living their lives and posting their happy selfies while we’re (many/most of us) are grieving, terrified, and traumatized. I don’t want anyone to “break up” the negative. If I want something light, I’ll go on youtube or Netflix and watch something tried and true. We don’t need anyone’s help to “get away” from this, we need them to sit in their discomfort with us. (All opinions here are my own and have not been vetted by the annual black caucus. – and as you’ll see in the other reply here, opinions vary.) I do think it’s more of a risk to post something light than to just not.

        1. Star*

          TBH, I would rather be overrruled than have someone use my opinion to try to “disprove” yours. I like your line about the “annual black caucus”, I’m definitely borrowing it for next time someone says to me “you said X but Other Black Person said Y, what’s the Official Black Opinion?” (Because I know there will be a next time, ugh.)

      3. City Employee*

        I primarily use tumblr, and I’ve been doing both. I’ve made a policy of rigorously tagging my posts, so jokes and fandom posts are easy to filter, and posts related to social justice and current events are easy to filter. I’ve always used tumblr to take my mind off things when stressed, and I have friends in both camps. Having tags means that they can customize their experience. If they don’t want to see a trillion posts about how police and coronavirus will kill us all, they can filter. If they don’t want to see cat pictures and meta about Avatar: The Last Airbender, they can filter. I feel like it’s a good compromise that keeps me sane while allowing other people to draw their own boundaries.

        On the other hand, I have been checking Facebook every few days to check on relatives, and it feels strange and jarring to scroll down my newsfeed and see Protest Sign. Gun Control Debate. Picture of Child. Protest Sign. Criticism of Target. Someone’s Dad Died Of Rona. Protest Selfies. Joke About Apocalypse. Picture of Dog. New Library Hours. Man Being Shot On Camera. Picture of Baby. The whiplash is almost worse than the actual content of many of the posts, and the lack of any meaningful content warning before things like videos of people dying makes the whole experience just horrible.

    10. Fikly*

      My grandboss talked about this earlier in the week. She’s white. She said that she wanted to say something before last weekend, but she held back because she was worried about saying the wrong thing.

      Then she decided that even though she was probably going to make mistakes at some point, saying nothing was worse. So apologies in advance, and please tell her if she was saying the wrong thing, but she was going to say what she then proceeded to say.

      I think a lot of people don’t say things to the people hurting because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. But saying the wrong thing may not be the worst thing. And saying in advance that you don’t know if it’s the right thing, and you may get it wrong, that counts for something, I think.

    11. Anon for this*

      I’ve been alternating shaking and compulsively reading the news on my phone over the last (almost) two weeks. As someone originally from a country that has seen totalitarianism, repressions, police violence, civil wars etc throughout the 20th century, what’s happening in the country today is both familiar and horrifying. And I admit that, even though I’ve known it from the first day I set foot in the US that the racial relations here are not good, it hadn’t really hit me full force just how bad they are. It is scary and I am sorry that I did not see the full extent of it before – I’d be horrified by an isolated incident and then assume that things are back to normal and that we are improving – until the next incident. This is probably the only time I will bring this up in the comments on this blog – my partner is black – they and I have touched base every day for these past two weeks, but we have not talked about the events of the last two weeks at all. I don’t know what to say. “Sorry they are trying to kill you off?” because that was what they did say to me in the past, “they’re trying to kill us off” and it is true. I want to help make it stop, but how? I have never felt as powerless in all my years in the US as far as the race issues go, as I am right now and I am not even affected, I am as white as can be. I made a couple of donations to bail funds. I have just now, right before I typed this comment, signed up for a blood donation, assuming there’s now an increased need – I don’t know what else I can do. I do have online resources available to me (thanks to a number of black friends who are volunteering their time and mental energy putting the information together on their social media) that I will begin to read through over the weekend.

      I will close on a positive note. One of my children (in their 20s) said that what is happening now is better than the status quo; that people are standing up and fighting and we may see some real change as a result. I really hope so. I really cannot see how we can go back to business as usual after this.

    12. Gatomon*

      Thank you, that letter struck a cord with me too.

      I’m possibly the only person of color at my company (though not the only minority) and my company has not said anything internally or externally. No general conversations have happened in my ear shot either, though I’m still mostly working from home. I’m guessing it falls under the unofficial “no politics” rule we have in our area, which I’m generally thankful for. We only have one routine violator and he’s not been in the office at the same time I have been back, yet. I’m dreading it because I might finally snap on him, which isn’t okay no matter how much he deserves it.

      Honestly we’re very far removed from all of the major protests and most people in the region are white and kind-hearted, good people who have no tolerance for racism and have been protesting at the courthouse for days, despite credible threats from racists who normally hide out in the mountains. Still, it’s disappointing and I feel alone more than I ever have out here.

    13. Lore*

      Co-signed. I’ve been getting increasingly involved with my company’s D&I work, but the pace feels glacial and I know my friends and colleagues who are the leaders of that work feel constantly besieged both within our workplace and in the world, and while showing up and listening is important, it’s not enough. I’ve been out protesting most days this week and my industry is doing a collective action thing next week, but again…feels like the bare minimum one can do as a human being, and it’s not good enough.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      yep. I’ve been *real* distracted this week.
      It helps a little that my employer is not treating it as BAU, there have been multiple executive communications about working to end racial discrimination, and a slack channel for people to post a pledge. It helps a *lot* that I think my employer tries to be anti-racist.

    15. HRAwry*

      I’m black. And work in HR.

      My organization got a bunch of letters questioning how they are going to support the Black community and employees. The things is the organization does in a half-assed way while also showing a strong bias for LGBTQ particularly gay white males exclusively. I think it’s great that they support LGBTQ but their support of the movement is disproportionate to that of other groups.

      They don’t actively support Black history month but spend millions for the month of June and pride parade.

      I’m happy for the pride and LGBTQ suppprt but it’s not intersectional and it comes to the detriment of other groups.

    16. juliebulie*

      Thanks for posting this. Other than expressing my support, I really don’t know what to say. With each new outrage I think “this will be the one that changes everything,” but it never is. Until now, maybe. I hope.

    17. Argye*

      I’m wrestling with a slightly different take on this. I, a white woman, start a new job Monday, remotely. My new boss is an African-American woman, who I greatly respect and feel I have a good connection with. I’m pretty sure I got hired for this job, a pretty big promotion for me, because we did ‘click’ so well. I know she has a early-teenaged son. I would love to reach out to her an express concern and support, but it doesn’t feel like my place to do so. I feel like I can’t bring up the issue until and unless she does.

      1. Star*

        I feel like I can’t bring up the issue until and unless she does.

        I think you should stick with this. I’m trying to figure out how to phrase why and… people often consider racism an issue of the victims of racism (this is common across bigotries) but it’s really an issue of the *perpetrators*. Bringing this up to her, however well meaning, runs the risk of making her feel like yu view her as Black first and your boss second, which would not be ideal. Get to know her as your boss first, and listen carefully.

    18. Pomona Sprout*

      Thank you this thread. It’s what I needed right now, and judging from the responses, it’s what a lot of other people here needed, too. I hope you don’t mind if I echo your last paragraph (with some additions, since I’m retired and so don’t actually have coworkers):

      “So to all my black coworkers [and black friends, including those I haven’t met yet] out there I am sorry. I am angry and sad with you, but I can’t even imagine how it feels for you.”

      I couldn’t say it better than this, so I won’t try.

    19. Sam I Am*

      Last week I spoke strongly about not putting it on POC to have to explain everything, perform their feelings, etc. I read yesterday’s post with interest, and am glad to once again have another perspective to weave into my mind and to color my behavior in the future. I will more closely inspect my behavior.

      What to do? I am very much of the type to make a call to action!

      Whatever you see that disturbs you, speak up! Social media is one place to do that, but change requires you to raise your voices to the lawmakers, the law enforcers, people in power. Even if you can’t do it at your job, you can do it to your mayor / selectboard, your county and state government. Find something going on in you state that needs citizen support and do it!

      Don’t like choke holds? Then they have to be banned! They have to be banned before they can be used again, not complained about after the fact when we have no legal recourse. Tell your mayor! Tell your state representatives! Tell your federal representatives! Tell them you vote, and tell them what you want them to do. Then tell them again.

      This work is important, tedious and plentiful. This is everybody’s fight, listen and act.

      1. Windchime*

        This is what my plan is….speak up. I heard a racist “joke” in a meeting the other day that was aimed at the only Black person on our team. I didn’t say anything but afterwards I felt very ashamed so I messaged my coworker who made the remark and told him “Hey, that was inappropriate.” Then I reached out to my Black coworker and told him I was sorry that I didn’t speak up, but I wanted him to know that I heard it and that I will do better next time. And that is my vow. I’m going to stop ignoring “jokes” and comments and inequities. Because this isn’t going to get better unless we ALL start fighting it.

      1. Star*

        “For every 10 percent increase in the proportion of a police officer’s peers with a history of misconduct (for instance, adding one allegedly misbehaving member to a group of 10), that officer’s chances of engaging in misdeeds in the next three months rose by nearly 8 percent.

        “‘Given how frequently police officers are transferred to different units in response to bad behavior, this contagion effect is really important,’ Mitchell says.”

        — from “Study finds misconduct spreads among police officers like contagion” by Katherine J. Wu, 2019-05-27

      2. Avasarala*

        I am very very concerned that in a post expressing sadness about cops murdering black people and POC, you chose to remind us #notallcops.

        If this was a thread about women experiencing sexism and the #MeToo movement, would you chime in with “remember guys, the vast majority of men aren’t sexist”?

        52 cops resigned in support of the cops who knocked down and injured an elderly handicapped man for no reason. We have this on video. We also have data showing the pattern of police brutality.

        The cops do not need our defense and support right now. They signed up for the job and they are literally perpetrating murder and injustice. They don’t need a pat on the head for doing what they’re supposed to do, that is, not beat and murder innocent civilians.

    20. LabTechNoMore*

      And can we talk about the racism rife in Corporate America? Khalea Underwood recently talked about the racism she experienced as a Writer for Refinery29, and it struck a chord with me – as I’m sure it did with literally every Black or PoC employee in the US right now.

      Prior to my last job, I was forced out because of my race/religion (Palestinian American Muslim), due to being aggressively questioned/harassed about it on a daily basis from (explicitly) racist co-worker. Boss made it seem like I was the problem. For those wondering why I didn’t go to HR, as the employment lawyer I talked to aptly put it, “HR is like the police of the corporate world.” Now, to be clear, the worst HR can do is end my career and means of financial support, not perform state-sanctioned murder. HR makes matters worse 99% of the time. They also performed wage theft and fought unemployment (which I fought, and made sure their blatant racism went on record). I contacted EEOC, but they didn’t think that being called “terrorist” was enough to rise to the formal definition of hostile work environment.

      Now the thing about racism (for all the non-Black/non-PoC folk reading), is that most of the people in the corporate world doing it are smart enough not to be explicit about it, like in my previous workplace. And God forbid you call them out, because then you get in trouble for being too aggressive/angry/divisive/insert-microaggression-here, and it forever damages your reputation on that team. And God forbid the situation is anything more complicated than “straight white guy saying racist things to PoC,” because any other combination (gay white man being racist, non-black PoC being racist against Black people, etc.) will be too complicated for your white team/supervisor to understand.

      After a long bout of unemployment, I landed a seemingly promising job that I was so excited about. This was also the first job I decided where I would be out. Nothing too crazy, just the occasional pink T, glittery-looking binder, not shying away from my living in the Gay part of town. And my boss, sure enough, had a visceral reaction to every single one of these dropped hairpins. And, coincidentally, viciously rejected every single one of my assignments as a waste of time. To the point that doing any work whatsoever resulted in being berated for hours for wasting time. (Ironic, no?) This is how a lot of the prejudice in the white collar world looks like: people being “polite,” and professional, and quietly passing over your application for being a “bad cultural fit.” And, if somehow, you do make it through the gates, you are ignored, singled out, and held to ridiculous, contradictory standards that no one else on the team seems to be held to. Racist dogwhistles left and right.

      And now the same corporations that have made my career a living hell are falling all over themselves with well-written pieces about how racism is bad. Not that they’re actually going to change their racist hiring practices, or hostile work environment, or fire that one co-worker who won’t stop going off on racist tirades about The Mexicans. But nice to see how they stand in solidarity with the same folk that they refuse to hire.

      And I say this as an Arab man. Part of the reason I even got hired in the first place was by tapping into the “model minority” stereotype (Insofar as it’s still available to Muslims. It comes and goes.), a positive stereotype which also harms to the Black community. Most of these workplaces didn’t have any other Black coworkers, which I could talk openly about other PoC at the office, when I wasn’t the only one. But God forbid you point it out to a white person. Hell hath no fury like a white guy being called out on his racism.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1,000 to your entire post, especially your second to last paragraph. These companies are a damn joke.

    21. charo*

      One thing many black people have been saying on TV is, “I’m exhausted.” As a white person [1/4 Native American and proud of it, but light skin] I feel worn out too but can only imagine how it must be to be black now.

      Take good care of yourselves!

  7. tab*

    Can anyone recommend someone who can give a presentation on writing effective resumes for engineers? I’d like to organize a WebEx for my professional organization. There’s a lot of bad advice out there, and I want someone with Alison’s sense and with engineering resume experience. Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

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

      Presentation wise, I’m in love with LaTeX templates for resumes, cv and cover letters. Back when I started I used Word templates, but LaTeX yells “professionalism” (and nerdy too, I’m not going to deny it XDD). For example, mine is written using moderncv.I only wish recruiters would understand this and stop annoying me with “.docx only” applications.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        LaTeX is the best. So few people in my world know anything about it, and they want everything in docx format. Le sigh.

        1. Mugato*

          “So few people in my world know anything about it”

          Perhaps you could explain it to those of us who don’t know, rather than just “le sigh” about it?

    2. Lora*

      Huh, I just checked the websites of the professional groups I belong to (ISPE, AIChE) – they have a lot of guidance on engineering standards, but seems like the only resume writing info is targeted to students, and everything else is sort of vague, non-specific. Is that more what you were looking for?

      1. tab*

        I want someone who will give a presentation for engineers at any level (new grads to senior people) on how to write a resume. My organization has many templates, but I think lots of them are pretty bad.

        1. Nesprin*

          I’d suggest instead of a presentation having a recruiting team give drop-in resume feedback, or even a peer feedback workshop: the resume I would have written fresh out of college is very different from my peers, and very different from the one I would write now. That sort of personalization is very difficult in a presentation setting. And it’s only worse with engineers who need to address technical skills in concert with accomplishments/appointments.

          signed- a mid career PhD level engineer who found career services presentations on how to write a resume next to useless, but got quite a lot out of workshops.

    3. irene adler*

      Might find a recruiter -who specializes in your industry- to offer up resume tips for the experienced engineer (not the fresh out of school crowd).

      My local professional organization is holding a section meeting with a recruiter in our industry next week. She will tell us about the “new normal” in the job market and field questions, offer suggestions on resumes, job searches, etc.
      I think her goal is to create a long-term relationship with our professional organization. A good thing!

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

        Please don’t! I’ve never met a recruiter whose “tips” weren’t gimmicks, gumption or overselling yourself.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Who’s doing the hiring and looking at these resumes? Maybe consult with some H.R. people AND the people who make the final hiring decisions to see what they’re looking for.

      I would also love to know if anyone has done any of those studies where a group will send random resumes in response to job openings just to see if men get more interviews than women with the same background, or if there is bias against workers of a certain age or with ethnic-sounding names. Maybe there’s a similar thing going on with different resume formats.

    5. Darren*

      My suggestion would be check if anyone in your professional organisations is part of the recruitment process at their current company. You are going to get the best feedback from people who actually have to read through resumes, and have as a result built up that knowledge of what makes them stronger than the others.

  8. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Um, so about 2 weeks ago, I decided to actively put the job search on hold until January. It felt so weird to not be actively looking–in the last decade I’ve had a total of 6 months here and there where I wasn’t looking for work or actually working. I’d always been ready to work ASAP and this is the first time in my career I’ve had *any* limitations (needing flexible hours to accommodate weekly dr appts, taking unpaid time off in a few weeks, only being able to work from home for the next few months). 

    But then 2 recruiters I spoke to earlier last month got back to me at the same time and I had 2 interviews on the same day. Both seemed to go alright. I’m meeting with the HR manager of one of them today. It’s been an interesting experience, very different from hte past recruiters I’ve worked with. 

    Anyways, it’s an interesting turn of events, at least for me haha. I was a bit dejected about it and I’d never made the decision to *NOT* work so that was….odd? and who knows, this might not work out! I don’t want to flood the post with multiple threads, so I guess my questions twofold:

    -What to expect in a call with an HR rep as part of the interviewing process? I’ve never met with HR at this stage as at my last job, there was no HR. I’m told he’s easygoing and nice, but I’m not sure IF the benefits/salary stuff will come up. I went through my older threads and have scripts for certain things but not sure if they will be needed…. I did tell the recruiter beforehand of the 3 things above and he said he will handle it with them so I’m not too concerned about that. 

    -I’m really not sure if this is a work or non-work question but has anyone decided to *NOT* work for a certain amount of time? I realize I’m in a privileged position to be able to make that decision. But it still feels so unusual! 

    -Would love to hear more good news about job searching nowadays!

    1. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      “but has anyone decided to *NOT* work for a certain amount of time? I realize I’m in a privileged position to be able to make that decision.”

      Yes. I left my job in October 2019 because it was getting worse and worse and we had the financial means for me to do so. I anticipated returning to the job search at the beginning of the year and did so before it all blew up. It did feel weird to leave without a job to go to (in the past it’s been due to our military careers but we’re out now or we moved for a civilian job.)

      Instead, I ‘work’ as a pro bono virtual volunteer through @Catchafire and design my day as a work day with a variety of projects. Not only do I enjoy helping my non-profit peers (I’m 20 years in the public service sector) but I have good resume items for when I return to the work search (which might not happen this year as we’re on the verge of moving… at some point for my husband’s job). So far I’ve donated 320 hours of my time and saved non-profits over $45k in professional fees. I love what I do far more than the previous job so I call it a win.

    2. Quill*

      I’ve never really had the opportunity to decide this for more than a two week stretch – I took two weeks off after getting fired /forced resigned Pig Lab From Hell to not worry about job searching. It took that long for my unemployment claim to go through anyway.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m putting off searching for a job as long as I can afford it. I am extremely fortunate to be able to do this, and I’d rather be working, but I just don’t trust the construction industry to actually ensure that it will be safe to work on site. Already people working on site have contracted and died from covid at an absurdly high rate, and I’ve heard several stories of the safe working advice being completely ignored from people I know who have gone back to work. If I see a job near me that is not on a crowded urban site I will go for it, but in the meantime I am working on a volunteer research project and doing online courses. For a few years now I’ve been thinking about changing directions within my field anyway, so I might as well take this opportunity to research that seriously.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Yes, I have. Unemployment happened to me at first, but then it became a choice. I was laid off when my industry was leveled in the dotcom bust, and shortly thereafter I inherited some money. I used it to fund a year off and it was amazing and life-changing!

      A lot of what I’m hearing now during the pandemic is what I experienced then — a forced “pause” showed me what was making me unhappy in my life but I hadn’t realized was in my control to change. I never went back to traditional employment and hours.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That sounds like such an adventure. Truth be told, I did fantasize of what I would do with all my extra time but COVID happened. It felt like the rug pulled out from under me, so I didn’t fully utilize the time how I had wanted. I like the idea of a “pause.”

        1. Filosofickle*

          Oh, I feel you! At the time of my layoff, I had just bought a home in a new area. So in theory, unemployment gave me tons of time to explore and do new things, but all my savings was eaten up by the mortgage and I didn’t have money to do anything. That was so frustrating.

    5. Fikly*

      So just to make sure I understand, you’ve had one interview with recruiter (external?) and then now you have a second interview scheduled with HR?

      If that’s the case, I’d be surprised if there was much dicussion of benefits. Salary may come up, but in the same way it could come up during any interview. At this point in the process, HR is more of an early screener, based on whatever their criteria are for what they are looking for, rather than a firming up details type of thing.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        So the way this one went, I had a quick chat with the recruiter about the position, like a screening.

        The interview itself was with the person who would be my boss and today’s call was with the business manager (not HR as I originally thought).

        I had the call a little while ago and it seemed to go fine, there was no discussion of salary or benefits, he just asked more about my background and if working remotely or in office would be an issue for me. There may be one more phone call if they’re interested so let’s see!

        1. Fikly*

          I hope you hear back soon! And yeah, that is about what I would expect from an interview at that point in the process.

          I’ve had a few early interviews with HR that were mainly screening for basic background/do you meet the criteria for the position. HR getting involved at the offer stage plays a very different role.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I just heard back. Speaking to the owner next!

            I had actually interviewed with that company a few years ago but decided not to move forward in teh process. I honestly can’t remember what my thought process was at the time, but I know shortly after I had had a death in the family and I wasn’t in the mindset to make any life changes. Everyone I’ve spoken to sang the praises about the company and owner. I never regretted the decision I made but maybe this is fate.

            1. Fikly*

              Wow, that’s fast! Most excellent!

              And just goes to show, to the people worried about turning down an offer/withdrawing when it’s not the right one or the right time, you can do it without burning bridges at that company!

    6. Buni*

      I did 5ish years post-uni in the workforce and then decided to go back for a post-grad. I told work months in advance that I would work until mid-August ready to start term in Sept. Sometime around the end of May / beginning of June I found out that I’d missed the Sept. cut-off but had been offered a place to start in January.

      I did not tell work. I took those extra three months, visited a bit of overseas family, slept in a lot, did a bit of pre-post-grad research, had a nice Christmas and started fresh in Jan. Best decision ever!

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Glad that worked out for you!

        Sleeping in sounds glorious. I joke that I caught up on 6 years’ of sleep and now trying to get as much as I can before baby potato gets here and I really lose all sense of sleep lol.

    7. Generic Name*

      Yes, I moved to another state when my son was a newborn, and his dad and I decided we’d set things up so I could stay home for a while. I went back to work when my son was 2 years old. I was able to find a job after searching for about 6 months. It sounds like the concept of not working is a bit alien and uncomfortable for you, but among other moms I know, it’s pretty common to take some time off when their kids are young.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      After grad school, I took 11 months off before starting my job search. I was severely burned out, and I had the savings. No, I didn’t do anything life-changing with that time. You’d be amazed at how puttering around the house can expand to fill up a day. But I rested, and I healed, and I dyed my hair all sorts of colors, and I went on a couple of multi-day train trips, and I went to some protests, and I made a little garden on the roof deck, and I read books that had nothing at all to do with science. It was lovely.

    9. Argh!*

      You can give a start date without a reason, or if they pry just make something up. Or you can tell them you have a few things to catch up on now that things have opened up (thinking of the appointments post above) and you don’t want to take time off when you’re new blah blah blah

      I know someone who spent 2 weeks traveling from one beautiful vacation spot to another before putting in any applications. She had a good severance package, so why not?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I did consider a delayed start date but then that would put me into mid-September (due in August + few weeks of downtime). I don’t think any company would be willing to wait 3 months but maybe I’ll try that next time or if this one doesn’t work out.

        What I told the recruiter during pre-screening was that I can start right away but I’ll have an unavoidable medical procedure coming up in August and will need a few weeks downtime, and weekly dr appts leading up to it. He said that it should be OK (didn’t specify it was pregnancy related) and will talk to them about it afterwards if we decide to proceed.

        What your friend did sounds so awesome. I know I had my own set of circumstances, some personal and some world related, so I’m trying not to have any regrets about how I spent the last 2 months.

  9. Emmie*

    I’d like to have good models of combating racism and discrimination in the workplace. I can only think of responding with anger, or silence. I’d like better examples. When have you seen someone stand up to discrimination at work? What did they do well? Has anyone stood up for you, or supported you in a meaningful way at work when you were faced with discrimination?

    I’d appreciate it if you could keep this on-thread to the workplace question. I imagine we are all horrified about our recent events, though I would like to focus on how we can adjust our behavior at work.

    1. Observer*

      I think that shock or icy politeness can be more effective than anger.

      A shocked “What did you just say?!” can be very effective. Or even a mild question like “What makes you think I would agree with that?” Followed by “Well I don’t and it’s not up for discussion.” as needed. Because a lot of people really, really believe that REALLY, everyone thinks like they do and being told calmly but with no room for argument, that this is most definitely NOT the case is a shock to their system.

      1. Argh!*

        I ask people to repeat themselves, sometimes more than once. If they only change their minds about whether it’s okay to say it *to me* that’s a start. When we all do that, they get the message that prejudice is not okay. They may take their bigotry to their grave, but they won’t take it to work!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish white people would stand up for me, but a lot of my well-meaning white co-workers over the years have been more concerned about overt forms of racism than about micro-aggressions. I mean, they’ll use the terms microaggressions and implicit bias, when they want to seem “woke,” but they don’t actually try to compensate for those or be extra aware of them.

      Just as a tiny example, I’ve seen multiple situations in many workplaces in which a white employee (usually a white male, but not always) throws a hissy fit or yells or does something horrible to someone else… and then essentially faces no consequences. Leadership and co-workers write it off as “that’s just the way they are” or “they’re learning.” And if a non-white person does that, she gets a stern talking to right away for being “out of line” or not being “a team player.”

      If you want to be an ally or conspirator, please really examine how you actually treat people differently. We don’t want you to pretend you “don’t see color.” We want you to recognize the way in which we’re all trained (especially in America) to see color and how that affects us. You can’t just “not see color.” You do see it. You do treat people differently. That doesn’t mean you are a malicious person. It means you’re recognizing there are powerful racist systems in place, and you participate in and exist in those systems, and you can resist them as well.

      1. Wing Leader*

        As a white person, a lot of us want to immediately get defensive and start listing off why we’re not racist. The problem is not one single white person but a racially unjust system that has existed for centuries. White people–myself included–need to start recognizing the role they may play in that without wanting to get defensive.

        Most people mean well when they say they “don’t see color,” but it’s a fallacy. Of course there is color and it shouldn’t be minimized. In addition, if you don’t see color, then how could you possibly see racism when it happens? You won’t.

        I’d like to think I would call out racism whenever I see it. I’ve been guilty of having my white blinders on in the past, but I’m trying my best to learn more about this so I can see what’s really happening and hope be part of the solution.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          This is the hardest thing to realize, and as someone who has a tendency to get defensive about all kinds of things I have really had to work on checking myself. One of things I have been trying to do is to be open about my realization that actually, yes I do and think things that are racist, even if my conscious desire is to do otherwise. My hope is that by openly talking about it, it will help other white people to get over the defensive reaction and actually consider what they are doing.

          1. Wing Leader*

            Definitely. We have to realize that this is not about one, single white person. This is about an entire system that was designed to benefit white people and oppress those with darker skin. I just hope other white people can listen and remain open-minded about the unintentional role we play in this. When you know better, you do better.

        2. Fikly*

          It’s hard for people to realize that every single human being is racist. We all are, inherently.

          1. Pippa K*

            I don’t think this is a helpful way to look at it, really. What we know is that some people are a hell of a lot more attitudinally racist than others, and that institutional racism benefits some groups and harms others. These attitudes and institutions are socially created and maintained. Saying that this is “inherent” to humans will just be taken by some (white) people as an excuse not to do anything – or worse, as evidence that human are supposed to be this way.

            I reject that.

            1. Fikly*

              Well, some people will use anything as an excuse to not do anything. It doesn’t make it less true.

              The point is that if you deny something is a problem, you can’t fix it.

              So you can’t address your own racist and biased views and behavior if you refuse to admit that you are racist and biased.

              The people who are a lot less attitudinally racist than others? They’re aware that they are racist and biased, and have taken steps to prevent it from affecting their views and behavior as much.

            1. Fikly*

              It means that if you deny you are racist, you can’t change your racist behaviors.

              The first step to dealing with a problem is to admit you have one.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                This may be a bit of a semantic nitpick, but I think the main objection here is to the word inherently, which means it’s essential or permanent.

                1. Fikly*

                  Well, racism was a survival skill that evolution has baked into our brains, so yeah, it’s inherent, in that it’s permanent to the human race, for many generations in the future at a minimum. And there really isn’t any evolutionary pressure to lose that trait, so it’s unlikely to disappear. The older a trait is, the less likely it is to go away, generally, without direct evolutionary pressure.

                  Which isn’t to say we can’t do much better. We are born as we are, but we have things like education and critical thinking, and can use this to improve our behavior. But it will always be something that everyone has to actively work on.

                  But fear of others, and putting others as less valuable kept us alive when we were living in small groups, and things that are baked into our brains do not just randomly vanish.

                2. Anonymous Educator*

                  racism was a survival skill that evolution has baked into our brain

                  It’s actually not. Please do some reading.

              2. Ramona Q*

                Your “you” and your “we” are doing way too much unearned work here, Fikly. Pippa is right on that you are ignoring the impact of racist structures. Also, racism includes social privilege AND social power. So people of color, while they can exhibit bias, cannot be racist.

                1. Fikly*

                  Of course they can. People of color is not a race.

                  Blacks can be racist against asians. Asians can be racist against Hispanics. And so on and so on.

                  And, um, who do you think created the racist structures? It wasn’t not humans.

                2. Diahann Carroll*

                  No, black people can not be racist, Fikly, for all the reasons Ramona Q mentioned. We can be prejudiced, but not racist since we have no social privilege or power in society to harm anyone but ourselves. But thanks for playing.

                3. Avasarala*

                  Fikly, why are you focused on POC being racist/prejudiced against other POC right now? And defending racism as a “survival skill”?

                  The fight-or-flight response is a survival skill, but experiencing that stress over minor things is a disorder. Even by your own logic (which I disagree with), we can still consider “natural” responses disordered and combat them.

                  And “Blacks can be racist against asians. Asians can be racist against Hispanics.” This is so irrelevant right now when Black people are being murdered by white police and protesters are being attacked for peacefully protesting. Did you respond to #MeToo with “well sometimes women are sexist against men”?

          2. un-pleased*

            That’s actually incorrect. Humans inherently make classifications about themselves and others. Racism is a construct that emerges out of Western history specifically, and it’s a white supremacist-led myth that the nature of this classification is a racial one and that racial classification is natural.

            1. Sam I Am*

              Yes to the “inherently make classifications.” Humans have evolved to be sorters.

              Racism is a social construct.

              I read a good line the other day that was unattributed, so I don’t know where it came from but here it is:

              Racism is like COVID. To protect others, you should assume you have it and act accordingly.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Fikly, I actually agree with you. It starts with “birds of a feather flocking together” and that becomes a crutch/an excuse/a habit and at some point morphs in to something super ugly where entire groups are excluded and trounced on. Granted, oversimplification. The point is about people’s unwillingness to reach out beyond what is familiar to them.

            I think we all have varying degrees of some biases not just race. While the biases may differ person-to-person, we all have them. It could be in the misconceptions that we carry and accidentally perpetuate. It could be in our hidden fears. It could be in the things we fail to say. And it could be in our willingness to remain ignorant and uninformed.

            I stopped using the expression “birds of a feather” years ago because it seemed to me that it perpetuated the idea that seeking out your own is a good idea. It’s not.

          4. Disco Janet*

            Oh boy, I knew before even reading the comments on this one that there would be a debate. My gut reaction is to react the way many people here already have, by saying, “What?! No it isn’t! Racism is taught!” Which is not the whole truth. But it’s too big of a discussion for this kind of format. One of my degrees is in psychology, and even though I’ve taken courses on social psychology and even one specifically on the psychology of prejudice, I still feel that what I’ve learned basically scratched the surface. There is just so much in this area to discuss and learn in regards to how the human brain processes things.

      2. Lora*

        White dude has a 3-hour long rant about how everything sucks and it’s everyone else’s fault but definitely not his, sabotages other people’s projects, screams at what is supposed to be a 20-minute group stand-up meeting that Woman X, POC Y and Gay Z all suck and are terrible at their jobs and grossly incompetent and screwed up his project on him? “Oh, Mikey is going through a tough personal time right now…” The woman, POC and gay person in question can be standing there saying literally NOTHING, not a single word, and somehow their very existence is considered to “provoke” Mikey and they need to stop being so provoking. “What did I say, specifically, that you think provoked him – since I didn’t say a word?” “well, I don’t know, you just need to stop it.”

        Frankly I can count on one hand the number of people who stood up for me about discrimination. Here’s what they did:
        1) when a white man repeats exactly what a minority said, verbatim, and is given kudos for it, while the minority was ignored or brushed off – the ally pointed out that it was the minority’s idea to begin with. Often very casually like, “oh so basically what Lora said earlier! Yeah, she had a great idea there!” Really, really listen and pay attention – so many people only half-listen, and only start paying attention when their buddy or the head honcho starts speaking, because that’s what they assume is important. No, listen all the time. It’s not all on minorities to speak in the exact just-so way that white men will magically hear them – people in power also have an obligation to listen up.

        2) the pay scale is what it is, for the job, and they insisted on it. This is what the job pays, for skills X, Y and Z, according to the market research. (Minority) has 15 years of experience in X, Y and Z, therefore they will receive (pay scale as previously defined). They set up pay scales on a rubric, before ever looking at resumes, and there wasn’t a whole lot of flexibility (a little bit sure, not a lot), it paid what it paid. This frequently led to huge pay bumps for incoming minorities.

        3) share pay information. It took me deacdes to get to parity, and I only got there by job hopping for a while and negotiating 20% increases at each new job. I got to parity, honestly, because a few men told me what the pay rate for my level SHOULD have been; I was constantly underpaid significantly, often by 50+%. With that information I was able to negotiate much harder, and people making offers knew I wasn’t messing around.

        4) come down like a ton of bricks on discriminatory behavior. Best place I worked for in this sense had a Three Strikes rule – if they had to send you to Attitude Camp (not what it was called, just what we low level people called it) three times, you were OUT. And they meant it very seriously. For sexual harassment cases, there was none of the “yes I did that but she misunderstood, it was just a joke haha” there was no quarter. Get your crap off your desk and go, you’re done. One of the reasons I work at CurrentJob was because when I was hired they had a woman manager who had a one-strike rule, and she would happily fire anyone who couldn’t behave. Men complained a LOT about her, but she had no sense of humor whatsoever when it came to discrimination.

        5) Have career development opportunities on a rotating basis. That way everyone gets a chance to go to Fancy Conference or whatever. Really put some work into what you need in terms of job skills and job descriptions, don’t do that “everything and Extra Duties As Required” because what happens with that is, the Extra Duties As Required devolve onto the minority and it leads to the minority being stuck on the Potluck Committee and fetching coffee while Chadderston McYuppie the Third gets the plum jobs. Rotate the opportunities for plum projects and the scut work alike.

        6) Make sure there are networking opportunities everyone can actually go to. The FRIGGIN golf tournaments, OMG. Please, for the love of god, enough with the golf. They never have basketball tournaments, or knitting stitch-and-bitch circles. The closest anyone gets to “something everyone can attend” is occasional aperos – and I always see these organized by minority-specific groups, which means you’re still not networking with most of the really high-ups. If you’re on the Potluck Committee, try to figure out something else that the high-ups will both want to attend, and that everyone else can go to as well.

        I will think of some more soon…

        1. Lora*


          7) Consider the visibility of the work as it’s assigned, not only the coolness of the project. Is the work something that will be done and if done well, can be taken for granted that it functions (eg database management) or is this something that will be highly visible to other parts of the company/world (eg publication or used as part of marketing, leading a new product line)? I see a lot of POC and women relegated to, say, database administration, while white men are sent to conferences to present their creative work. And the excuse is, “oh but your job is so important!” Yeah, and I get no recognition even when I do it fabulously well, but if Braddingfield Mercedespants does a half-baked job of his research project, he gets a ton of recognition.

          8) In terms of daily interactions: paraphrasing back what they said, in the terms that it sounds like to a reasonable person: “So Chadderston, what you’re saying is that (minorities) should all give you a foot massage daily? Is that what I’m hearing?” Sometimes they will walk it back, sometimes not. If not, you can do the “wow, that’s…quaint. I need to go wash my hair / scoop my cat litterbox / organize my toenail clippings by date now, bye” if you’re a peer. If you’re a manager, you walk them through the logical result of that. A lot of the time, Braddingfield just does. not. think. about a world that was explicitly NOT made for his benefit. But you can pose it as an example of how Braddingfield might approach a problem where the solutions he would normally reach for, are not available. One of my colleagues who is EXTREMELY privileged, often announces that “they can’t do that! you could sue them! you could report them to HR and then they would get fired!” because in his world, that works for him: he can afford to retain a fancy lawyer, he has enough buddies at the top of the food chain to have influence over other people he doesn’t manage, people believe him immediately when he says a bad thing happened, he wouldn’t struggle very hard to find another job. He had to be walked, frequently, through the process that these remedies are simply unavailable to most, and unlikely to result in a good outcome in any case – so think about what other possibilities may exist. Which leads me to

          9) When someone tells you a discriminatory thing happened, start with believing them. It takes a lot of courage just to tell other people, because you’re immediately going to be told that you’re imagining things, misunderstood, why Rutherford would never do such a thing, he’s so nice, you’re sure there was a miscommunication. Start with this: Nobody knows everything about a person. If you don’t know Rutherford, you are not required by law to leap to his defense. A huge proportion of people commonly do really crappy things. Look, think of all the neighbors of serial killers who say, “he was so nice, we had no idea”: you probably have met, on average, at least one serial killer and had no idea. So you probably have met, and know, a whole gaggle of bigots, whether you realize it or not. Public reputations and whether or not someone is a co-worker or friend is not the flippin Supreme Court and you don’t need a preponderance of evidence and case law going back to the Magna Carta to prove that Rutherford is beyond a legal doubt an a-hole. You can actually start by believing the person who tells you Rutherford is a racist. That’s a thing. You don’t necessarily have to publicly denounce Rutherford as a KKK member, but you can keep it in mind and be extra vigilant around him, and be aware that if you hang out on Rutherford’s yacht, people will definitely assume you are also a racist.

          10) If you are in a group event or meeting – call on people to contribute. Often the loudest most confident people get to talk all the time and minorities get talked over or ignored. You can call on them even if you’re not the meeting organizer and say, “well, (minority) is an expert on this, (minority) what are your thoughts?” Tooooo many times I’ve been in meetings to distribute projects and it turns out, (minority) actually has expertise nobody mentioned and the project gets given to Total Newbie, not because the minority person didn’t speak up (they did, were ignored or talked over) or because nobody “knew” they had expertise (it was on their resume, they’d spoken of it frequently), but because that fact wasn’t thrown in the decision-makers’ faces at the moment – and the decision-makers felt that if they found out about it later and had to change their stance, it would be losing authority. You frame it as, hey, we are so lucky to have an expert right here!

          11) Make sharing credit the norm in your organization. If that means you’re crediting everyone and their mother’s cousin’s uncle, that’s better than leaving people off who deserve credit. You can do this as a peer too, making a point of crediting everyone who helped even a little bit. When you have Nobel Prize-like rules of “only 3 people credited on a project” or whatever, that leaves a lot of people in the cold, and mYsTeRiOuSlY it’s always the minorities who get left off. If sharing credit is a professional norm, then it also has the benefit that it makes your work look more legit and less shady (in my field anyway – STEM) because if 7 other people worked on a project, then your work was somewhat validated by those other people, it’s not just your personal pipe dream.

      3. Fikly*

        I feel like there were a lot of people who watched The Colbert Report and heard him say “I don’t see color” and didn’t get the actual point he was making with that statement. Because he did not mean it at face value, so to speak, he was pointing out the issues with it.

      4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*


        In moderate and liberal environments, many people know that police killing unarmed black people is wrong. But there are plenty of white people who believe they are progressive but actually are full of all sorts of implicit bias.

        So to me, in a typical office workplace, I don’t think BLM and police violence should be the key race-related issues. Actual inclusion and diversity within the organization, and with key stakeholders to the institution, are far more immediate and actionable.

        It’s easy to say “OMG, what that police officer did is wrong and we stand against it.” It’s harder to look inside oneself and one’s organization around what you are actually doing day-to-day.

      5. Argh!*

        “please really examine how you actually treat people differently.”

        This is true for many kinds of bias, and it is also true of bullying cultures. I have challenged sexism, favoritism, and the fact that for some reason my boss just didn’t really like me. (Fat women have to say “for some reason” because bias against fat people isn’t a real thing ;-) )

        Not to diminish your example, though, just that when people are actively listening to themselves, and listening to uncomfortable things about themselves in all their interactions, all kinds of marginalized people benefit.

        I may not be saying that right, though. I’ve never been called “well spoken,” just “abrasive” when I stand up for myself and “short” when I am not taking extra time to apologize for myself or express self-doubt.

        I think with race, the images of overt and violent racism have been so extreme that it’s hard to be told you’re on that other side. Microaggressions don’t go viral, and “Don’t be so sensitive” has been the go-to counter attack for everything else, so it’s a hard sell to get people to respect and understand their role in systematic repression.

        (and by “their” I mean me too — I’m constantly learning)

      6. Killer Queen*

        Thank you for calling this out specifically. A lot of microaggressions against Black staff have come to light where I work, recently, but this still hasn’t been raised in public forums that I’ve seen – the power and leniency given to the (usually) white men who are truly awful to their colleagues, then avoid accountability, and the emotional energy that the rest of us spend “working with their personality”. IT. IS. A. WASTE. I see white colleagues waltz in hilariously late, zero consequences, and I see Black colleagues get “told on” for “never being in their office” while they’re away from their desk because they have a calendar full of diversity task force meetings and speaking tours to attend to as the people who repeatedly get asked to be the token Black person in a space.

    3. OtterB*

      Not a personal example, but if you’re not following Better Allies, I recommend them highly.

      1. M*

        Thanks for this suggestion! Does anyone else have good suggestion for a book I can have our leadership team read?

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          I’m reading “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X Kendi and it is very good, particularly at shifting the mindset from “racist/not racist” to “racist/antiracist” In other words, either you are for racism or against it. There’s no middle ground on this one.

    4. Your Weird Uncle*

      I logged on to ask the same question!

      Our workplace is barely diverse at all, and my colleagues – who are not *blatantly* racist – do engage in micro-aggressive language, etc. One of the worst perpetrators of this is my boss.

      I am trying to come up with language that I can practice ahead of time, so it comes more easily when I need to use it.

      I don’t have any language yet, but I am keen to hear what other people think / have done successfully!

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Try questioning them as though you’re not “in” on the microaggressive statement or racist joke. Like, “I don’t get it; why wouldn’t an X person want to do Y?”

        Make them explain. Hopefully it also makes them squirm and apologize.

    5. Not HR*

      I don’t know if I have a good model, but here are some real-life things that I’ve said :) I’m in a technical field and manage bringing in candidates but have no final say.

      When my boss didn’t want to hire persons of color with accents because it might give our clients the impression we were outsourced – “We can’t discriminate based on that, and we need to evaluate the candidates based on their credentials and their technical interviews”.

      When one white person was hired with a record of theft, but a Black candidate with a stronger interview was not – “That is racist. Is this really the route we want to be on? Let’s move forward in ways that can increase diversity and attract diverse talent in the future.” (We did subsequently hire a Black man with no criminal record – the criminal record is a serious issue in our field, so we should NOT have hired the white man, rather than moving ahead with the other person).

      Basically – if your company allows it – you can say point blank “That is racist. Here is why. We should do X instead.” I’ve found a lot of the time (at my liberal & highly Democrat leaning org), people won’t know that what they are doing is discriminatory or racist, and having a conversation about it helps move things forward in a more positive way. YMMV.

    6. Anon because it may be identifying*

      Here’s one thing I did in the past. A talkative coworker liked to tell me stories about her life, and always included the race and/or nationality of non-white people (i.e., “my old Black boss used to do this…”). It was something that I assume seemed harmless to her, because she wasn’t saying her old boss was bad because he was Black, just… pointing out that he was Black? {shrugs} Anyway, one day I said “why are you telling me this person is Black/is from Puerto Rico/whatever? I don’t need to hear that unless it matters to the story.” She seemed embarrassed, and stopped telling me stories for a while. She eventually came to tell me another story and said “I know you’re going to think I’m racist but just hear me out…” and this time, the person’s race/nationality actually *was* relevant to the story. So. Small success?

      Another useful tactic is to play stupid. When someone hints at something, pretend you don’t get it. “Oh, you know how THEY are.” No, I don’t. What do you mean?

      1. Katrinka*

        I have long advocated “acting dumb” whenever someone makes demeaning remarks about a group of people. Pretty much repeating “Why do you say that?” to every response until they either apologize or flounce off. The point is not so much that they will learn, but that their audience realizes that there’s no substance to what they’re saying.

        1. Anon because it may be identifying*

          Also, it forces them to either say the Racist Thing out loud, or drop it. None of this nudge nudge, we’re all in agreement here, right? nonsense.

    7. Quill*

      I’ve found that my best weapon against clueless relatives / insensitive coworkers / peers / internet trolls has been the sort of calling out that they can’t peg as insubordinate, but tries to frame them as agreeing with the issue at hand. At least in terms of getting them to cut the crap verbally, though I hope it occasionally prompts some thought. Though at least making an avenue of discussion unwelcoming to bigotry is worth trying out.

      For example:
      Religious Right Aunt on Facebook: NO ONE can ask me to compromise my Christian values!
      Me: Yes, our christian values are a great foundation for providing for the poor, the sick, and the refugees entering this country, as well as making people of other faiths welcome!

      Random peer: All Lives Matter!
      Me: That’s why it’s so important that we recognize that police violence is aimed at people whose lives have been historically considered less valuable.

      Note that this primarily works on relatives because they want to appear very civil (especially in cases where I’m one of their youngest nieces & may have some family dynamics in play of having always been seen as more innocent,) on internet trolls because they eventually get tired of being counter-trolled, and on irl peers because if they keep on track they are the ones making it awkward in public. For people with less capitol sunk into appearing reasonable, it is not as effective a strategy. For them, you’ve got to be more blunt in letting them know that they are NOT being approved of.

      1. Observer*

        A PERFECT example of this – Hank Newsome of Black Lives matter was given 2 minutes on a Trump rally stage. The guy was phenomenal!

        I think that this is the first time that some people actually HEARD a black man. Some people were rude as all get out, but some people really seemed to hear.

    8. Be the Change*

      I’m wondering if Alison would be willing to allow a Friday sub-thread in the open thread which is a work-related book discussion of “White Fragility.”

      I can certainly understand if she wouldn’t want to moderate it!!

      The reason I bring it up is, a conversation at the American Council of Education’s November 2019 meeting in which Robin DiAngelo and Beverly Tatum had an amazing conversation (google it) and DiAngelo pulled no punches: “How did you get to be a grown up professional in a leadership position and ‘not know what to do’ about racism in your organization? If you had been interested, you know what you would have done? You’d have googled the shit out of it already.”

        1. demosthenes*

          It think all these suggestions are great! It also depends on your workplace. In my workplace, we have been successful saying, “Oh no! I think you are actually using a microagression, I read an article/book about it and it helped me a lot. It’s called ____.” It called attention to the issue (repeatedly saying that black employees were hostile) and it gave them a very specific thing to do (read the book!). I’m not sure if something like that would be helpful, but I’m a fan of giving people something to do.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      Make sure your employer is accountable at a systems level.
      – Are they tracking their employment demographics?
      – Are they open about those results and improvement initiatives?
      – Do they have clear and transparent salary information?
      – Do the executives talk about diversity as a good thing? (My employer specifically cites diversity as a competitive advantage)
      – Are the execs / board diverse? (The top exec at my site is black, our CEO is non-white, there’s a ton of women and BIPOC in the Cxx and VP levels)
      – Do they have clear processes to report discrimination and prevent retaliation? (My employer: 3 routes, one of which is anonymous, and explicit ‘no retaliation’ policy)

      I like my employer because I think that if there is a problem, I can trust them to help me fix it.

    10. anon today for this*

      Keep in mind I’m coming from a STEM background, and that for various emotional and experience-related reasons, I’ve never been able to relate very well to the point of view that makes a discussion of racism into a discussion of personal virtue. My brain is just wired to look at things ‘mechanically’ or in ‘systems’ — for better or for worse. It doesn’t mean I’m right about stuff; it’s just a different point of view.

      Many people look at the world more in terms of relationships, or in terms of goodness/badness. The desire to be a good person can backfire in that a person who ardently believes they’re good, because they’ve tried very hard to be good, can be so upset by evidence of their racism (as racism is bad) that they can deny it is racism at all, because racism is an action done by bad people, and they themselves are good, so it is not possible that they could do something racist. This makes conversation and progress very hard. (It is why ‘white privilege’ is such a divisive term — people make it about their personal selves and whether their own journeys have worth, in some sense.)

      One way to circumvent this is metrics. Making the numbers clear. How many Black candidates applied for your job? How many did you interview? How many did you hire? Just seeing the numbers can alert you to places in the pipeline where improvements can be made. How much are Black vs white vs Asian/Hispanic/Native employees paid? How many are at this level vs another level? When promotions happen, what are the numbers? And use metrics to make things easier for yourself, too: it’s well-documented that STEM teachers call on boys more often than girls, white students more than minority students. I combatted this for myself by coming to class with a class list and checking off names as students spoke up/as I called on them, so I could cycle through all students and make the discussion more equitable. I wasn’t foolishly rigid about it, but it helped me both be less unconsciously racist/sexist and improved discussion overall. Do you recognize the work of your Black colleagues and use their names as often as you recognize the work of your white colleagues? Have you ever kept track? Just pick a thing, to start with — you don’t have to quantify your life.

      Another step is clear rubrics. Clear guidelines for interview questions. Clear guidelines for evaluating resumes. Maybe make the resumes blind (drop the names). Besides the studies that show that resumes with ‘white’ names get more callbacks than resumes with ‘Black’ names (and the predictable analog for gender), there are studies that show that when presented with equally yet differently qualified candidates, hiring managers’ evaluation of the qualities necessary to do the job well unconsciously shift to favor the white candidate (suddenly factor A that used to be irrelevant becomes a plus for the job). Writing down qualifications before hand can help you avoid this. If you are in a meeting and you see this shifting of standards happening (in my Midwestern region the phrasing is, “well, you might be right, but we were actually thinking….”) refocus discussion on your previously-discussed standards or call it out. This extends to job duties and criteria for promotion. Minorities and women often find they’ve “been doing the wrong things” to get that promotion (in part this is a result of that shifting of standards mentioned above, and in part because minorities & women are stuck with work that has to be done but is not valued in the profession. Story of my professional life, and why I switched industries last year — might still be true but now I get paid twice as much.)

      Last, you said, how do you stand up to discrimination at work? Since I worked with ‘liberal’ people, I did not hear people saying overtly offensive things. In fact, some of the people I worked with who were worst for my career and the careers of Black colleagues said the most wonderfully encouraging things. It’s about actions, not words or feelings. That’s why I like metrics. The guy who got an award for encouraging women saddled me with an enormous amount of diversity work and then denied me recognition for all of it, and then was late with my letters of recommendation when I was applying to academic jobs. Watch peoples’ actions, not their words. Support your colleagues and lift up their voices — see who in leadership treats them equitably and recognize that — watch for the snakes who say all the right things but whose reports of color or women reports miraculously just end up disappearing, again and again, and think carefully about how you can prevent that.

      Being anti-racist at work doesn’t just mean not being racist, it also means making sure that Black and other PoC employees get the same networking, bonding over weird crap, and inside scoops that white employees get. Share the grapevine info about the new team structure; if you can see that bonding over some TV show is leaving someone out, try to find a different common ground… oh, I don’t know. I’m thinking about this too.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Watch peoples’ actions, not their words.

        Because this bears repeating.

    11. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Some things I’ve done or seen other people (white and nonwhite) do after Alice is directly racist to or about Bob:

      – In the moment, say, “Wow, Alice, it’s not okay to say that.”

      – After the moment, go to Alice and say, “I heard what you said to Bob and it really bothered and upset me. I don’t think it’s okay to say that in the workplace or ever.”

      – Go to HR, if HR is effective. “Alice said this in front of me and I feel that was totally unacceptable.” Even if you are white, you can still say that racist micro/aggressions create an unsafe working environment for you, and that may get more traction than a nonwhite person saying it (unfortunately). Focus on your personal experience of Alice speaking that way; leave Bob out of it as much as possible, and don’t try to speak for him.

      – Go to Bob and say, “I heard what Alice said to you and I think it’s unacceptable. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do to personally or professionally support you?” If you’re not sure how sympathetic your HR/manager is, add, “I absolutely want to go to HR/management about it, but I also want to make sure doing so doesn’t put you at risk. Please let me know your thoughts on that.”

      Combating systemic discrimination:

      – Privately collect salary information from colleagues who are willing to share it. Offer to share your own first. Ask them to work collectively with you on pressuring management to make sure compensation is fair.

      – If you’re white and male and in a senior or management role, tell upper management you’re willing to take a pay cut in the name of pay parity for nonwhite and nonmale employees. This one is HARD, but we have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

      – Push for strong inclusive and welcoming language in job postings. Get rid of coded language about “workplace culture”. Advertise jobs in places targeted to people of color: for example, if you bring on college students as interns, recruit on the job boards of historically Black colleges and universities.

      – Refuse to conclude any hiring process until at least two strong candidates of color have been interviewed.

      – In meetings, lift up the voices of colleagues of color (on all topics, not just race). “I want to go back to what Bob said a minute ago, because he had a great point.” “Thanks for that, Bob, you’re always really sharp on these things.” “Bob, can you fill us in on this?” Watch yourself for habits of speaking for or over people. If you see someone doing that, you can directly call them out: “One second, Alice—I don’t think Bob was finished.” “Thanks, Alice, but I’d love to hear directly from Bob on this.”

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I wrote above that the culture in my old workplace was that when a junior employee referred to another employee as “this n-a”, people defended them and mocked the person who they had been referring to for being offended. Their defense of junior employee was that they date black people and their black coworker friend didn’t mind the use of that word. I was in a junior position myself, in conversations I would say that they have no right to use it but beyond that, we had no HR and management let it go.

      The culture was htat people who were close to each other teased each other all the time, so there were race jokes mostly people making those jokes at themselves. but aside from that incident, no one ever used a slur.

      If it was now and I was in a management or senior position, I would definitely shut that shit down or take it straight to HR. There were so many things wrong with that incident but it’s responsibility of leadership to foster a better culture.

      1. Star*

        Their defense of junior employee was that they date black people and their black coworker friend didn’t mind the use of that word.

        I just nearly had to go retrieve my eyes as I rolled them so hard they damn near popped out. That must have been so disheartening to see someone simultaneously pull I Have Black Friends and This Person Stuck In An Obviously Unsupportive Environment Gave No Sign Of Being Upset So They Can Continue Surviving So Of Course Nothing’s Wrong, like they were playing Deflection Poker or something.

        One day you will be in charge of someplace and you will remember that incident and not permit someone to get away with bigoted malarkey, and thus make life better for someone else who works for you. I have every hope. :)

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I mean, I won’t lie, I never thought the “I have black [friends/family]” was problematic but over hte years I read more and understood why it was. The culture at work was a very friendly and relaxed one and while it was a culture I enjoyed, it also made it super easy for things like the above to occur. From what I can recall, that was the only time something of that sort happened, if there were other incidents, it was not to my knowledge.

          One thing I just don’t understand is people who insist on saying the N-word. I know there’s varying opinions amongst black people (like, just my two coworkers above, one complained and the other didn’t mind it) but as a non-black person, I can’t imagine arguing in favor of being allowed to say it.

          There’s not much I can do in the work context. This is something more rampant in my cultural community and we’ve been having a dialogue as well on how we can be allies and I definitely bring this up that step 1 is to remove that word from our collective vocabulary.

    13. Senor Montoya*

      If you’re hiring: advertise your open positions in outlets that are likely to reach POC. Not just on your company / institution’s job board. For entry level positions, send your posting to HBUC career centers. Send postings to professional orgs in your field that are for POC (if you don’t know what they are, google “association black Your Field”.
      Network with POC in your field. If you’re hosting a professional seminar for instance, reach out, don’t just the usual (white) folks. If you’re bringing speakers in for staff development, find POC to speak. And not just for diversity topics!

    14. Sam I Am*

      In addition to the “play dumb, make them repeat it until they see the problem” which is something I’d do more with the guests, for co-workers at the same level as I am a very matter of fact “we disagree about this, for xyz reasons.” then moving on. For microaggressions, I assume the tone that they didn’t know and will use the same direct tone for “Ooh, you must not know that we now understand PRIOR STATEMENT YOU JUST MADE is considered racist because XYZ.” and move on.

      I’ve done it just a few times, dunno how effective it’s been, but it reduces the conflict element and still gets my point across. Not everyone can do this, and I understand that.

  10. Basement designer*

    During a recent Singapore Parliament debate, our Minister for Manpower mentioned there is no rule that job seekers must declare their last drawn salary to employers. And I fully agree employers shouldn’t ask for it. I had to submit detailed information like this BEFORE the job interview (even if the application bombed), and it always scared the fuck out of me that these various companies had all this info on me.
    How do you really say no though? The power imbalance is so huge here, frankly it would take a huge amount of guts to be able to hand back an application form with “Not declared because I am not legally obliged to” in the salary history section.

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      I think there is a difference between not legally obligated and prohibiting employers from asking. I feel fine pushing back if an employer is not allowed to ask for salary information.

      Otherwise I think I’d actually use some of Alison’s other framework to respond instead of “not legally obliged”.

      1. Bob*

        You are welcome. Now some words of advice:
        “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”

        1. Star*

          I really hope this isn’t going where I think it’s going. I have seen too many instances of efforts against bigotry being labeled as censorious to not be wary. That’s not where this is going, right?

    1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

      I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be rude here, but what does this have to do with work? I’m assuming it’s a reference I’m not getting.

        1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

          Okay…just so you know, this open thread is supposed to be about work topics- there’s one on the weekends for non-work stuff.

        1. Bob*

          Indeed, i was taking a tea break from work when i posted it.
          Now i am juggling wording and can’t seem to get it quite right, the concept is simple, the explanation for an audience is tripping me up.
          Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

    2. LizW*

      I was yesterday old when I learned that Wil Wheaton is now the same age that Patrick Stewart was when they filmed the first season of TNG, and it shook my worldview.

    3. AnonPi*

      I’m a Lady Grey person myself. Tea and coffee has become a necessity at work due to year round air conditioning. Although one of my former coworkers always liked it when I drank Chai tea because to him it “smelled like Christmas” lol.

  11. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have been job-searching for a while and feeling really, really stuck, then early this week I got a promising email from a recruiter at a staffing firm. She has a job that I am definitely qualified for and have a ton of experience in, and it’s in the industry I’ve been wanting to get back to for several years. After she and I spoke, she forwarded my resume to the hiring team. I’m not a shoo-in, but I’m a very solid candidate with a resume that clearly shows I’m experienced in exactly this type of work. I’m pretty sure I should pursue it, but I have some reservations. Please help!

    – Company has offices in NYC (where I used to live) and DC (where I live now); the position is remote but they would prefer someone near the office, which I am– and this means that I would have my foot in the door for future opportunities with the company
    – Even though the job is currently remote, if they decide they want me in the office the commute is about 30 minutes door-to-door, walking and Metro, so pretty hard to beat in DC (and I have a car in case I need it)
    – I would be getting back into the industry I miss, in an area where I could really pick up immediately with a just a bit of a refresher; I did exactly this type of work for about 6 years
    – Pay is hourly but solid– with my current company’s COVID pay cut, this would be a $20k increase– and I am being paid market rate for the state from which I recently moved, which has a much lower COL…so my base pay would be about $8k more than my “real” pay
    – I know people at the company and it would be a great way back in

    – It’s a contract position: 12 months, with high potential to hire, but still contract– I would be a W2 employee of the staffing firm
    – Benefits are offered by the staffing firm but aren’t great– though I could get on my partner’s insurance and probably pay lower premiums
    – It’s about two levels below where I left the industry– specifically, I was a Director when I left a similar company, and this position has a Manager title (this industry always uses “seniors”– senior manager, senior director, etc.)– so it not only looks like a step back, it IS a step back
    – Pay is good compared to what I’m making now but not compared to what I have been looking for; it’s about $15k under what I really want
    – I can definitely do the work, but it’s back office work and I really enjoy being front office (I love to present and meet with clients)… though the department is apparently stretched pretty thin, which means I could very well be called to do more front office stuff at some point

    Also, I should add that my current job is in an industry I dislike, my boss is a sexist micromanager, and I’m not doing anything I was really hired to do. My expertise is not leveraged, my opinion is not respected, all that good stuff. We’re also facing no projects coming in, so the company is in financial difficulty. So I’m definitely looking, but I’m trying not to leap at the first opportunity that comes up just because it’s there. However, with a lot of things in limbo and some really specific things I want for my next job, this opportunity feels like it’s really good and I should think long and hard before passing it up.

    What would you do?

    1. Ophelia*

      I think given that it’s a 12-month contract, it might be a useful way to bridge a gap? You don’t necessarily have to stay in the role past the 12 months, and it might give you an opportunity to get back into your industry and network. I think the question of seniority does play a role here, but I also suspect that there will be so many people out there with weird resumes from 2019-2021 that it might not be a deal-breaker for future opportunities. Particularly given your partner’s insurance and the fact that you can get coverage that way, I’d seriously consider it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same, especially for the networking opportunities you mentioned. If this is the industry you want to be in, take the leap – it doesn’t sound like your cons are insurmountable.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      It seems like the pros greatly outweigh the cons, so I would pursue the first opportunity to the fullest. If you’re financially able to swing it, taking a temporary paycut could be worth leaving a terrible boss. Plus from what I have read about staffing agencies, once the company hires you permanently, the salary goes up as well since they’re no longer paying the agency.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Plus from what I have read about staffing agencies, once the company hires you permanently, the salary goes up as well since they’re no longer paying the agency.

        This…is not necessarily true. When I was hired on at a law firm after working for them through a staffing agency for almost a year and a half, they kept my salary the same and tried to justify it that they now had to pay for all of the benefits I’d be receiving through them.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Oh wow, I didn’t know that. I had one job through a staffing agency and the client told me they would bump my pay from $15 an hour to the $28 the staffing agency was currently taking. But I was removed from that assignment after a few weeks and haven’t worked through a recruiter or agency since.

      2. Hamburke*

        Or that they have to pay the finder’s fee based on what they hire you at so they keep it low.

    3. Colette*

      How recession/COVID-proof is the industry?

      Are there likely to be a reasonable number of jobs you really want in the near future?

      Unless your industry is booming right now, I’d seriously consider taking it. It’s work you like more, better pay, good location.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s a great question. The industry is not exactly recession-proof, but it’s definitely COVID proof. The position is open because they had some restructuring and people left, and the work they need someone to manage is always necessary. Their immediate need is someone to help with some of the ways COVID impacts the business, but it’s not something that goes away once things stabilize. My current industry has suffered a lot more from COVID-related issues.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      I’d consider your financial position if the contract-to-hire didn’t work out, and how quickly you think you could find a second opportunity better than your current job if that happened (who knows now, right?).

      The two other cons that would weigh the most for me would be not enjoying the back office work and title, but I still think you would enjoy it more than your current job, and it gets you closer to something you like. Same with the title. You’ve been out of the industry, and you may have to step back to go forward. It’s fine. You’ll get back to the director title. (If it’s structured anything like my type of work, directors are also more outward-facing, and managers are more inward, so the two issues might be related.)

      I think being in your preferred industry will also help find new opportunities if this one doesn’t convert or let you move up. I didn’t hear anything good about your current situation, other than it is a full-time regular role.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, those two cons are weighing the most for me. I am trying to determine whether I’m being realistic about them, because I agree with you– I can get the title back, and I would definitely enjoy the back office work in this role more than I like anything in my current role.

        I realized a couple of years ago that simply being in that industry played a big part in my job satisfaction. I’d kind of rather have a less-than-perfect job in that industry than a good one in my current one. I need to remember to take that into consideration here!

    5. OhGee*

      I think I would go for it. If you don’t like your industry and your boss sucks AND you’re not doing the things you expected to be doing in your current role, those are all great reasons to leave, especially if your pay has been cut and the company’s future looks grim. Normally I’d be hesitant about a step back in title, but I think people are going to understand because we’re in the middle of a massive economic downturn with high unemployment. You list many positives and I think those negatives are mostly negated by the weirdness of *now*.

    6. Mid*

      How big of a deal is the step down in title? Are titles more consistent in your industry, or is it semi-common to see people go from a higher-titled role at a smaller workplace to a lower titled role at a bigger place?

      How stable is your partners work? If your contract-to-hire doesn’t hire, how secure are you?

      Overall, I think I would take the job, because a less terrible work environment would probably be enough for me to make the switch. But, I also don’t have to worry about benefits at the moment, and I have the financial stability to go for a few months without income if needed.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The title thing is a pretty big deal, I think. If I were to go straight from Director at one place in the industry to Manager at another, that would look really strange. The company where I was a Director is comparable in size to the one with the available position. I’m several years removed, so maybe it’s slightly less weird, but I know I would ask if I were the hiring manager. I know I can explain why I want the job– back into the industry is a big thing, back on the client side is another– and I’m sure I’ll get questions on the other end (like, “Why did you take a step down?”).

        My partner’s work is reallllly stable. He doesn’t make a ton of money, but right now he makes more than I do. For several years I was the primary breadwinner and before my pay cut we were able to save more than ever before. I’m not in a position where I could be completely out of work for a year, but I would do ok for a few months.

        1. Katrinka*

          Saying that you took a step down because you realized you wanted to concentrate on a different area of the work is generally acceptable, I think. Same thing as taking a step back when you change industries, I’d say.

        2. Early career "engineer"*

          This is maybe a bit naive to suggest, but assuming the titles go Manager > Senior Manager >Director > Senior Director, would you be able to negotiate for the Senior Manager title bump? I know that sometimes titles are easier to negotiate than salary, especially if you’re willing/able to sit tight on the salary negotiations, and perhaps this would be seen as less of a step down for future jobs.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I was thinking about that. I probably will, if given the opportunity! Still a step down, but not as much of one.

    7. Flyleaf*

      The pay increase doesn’t seem to be enough. Moving to a contractor position usually involves a significant increase in the hourly rate. Double sounds right. Even if benefits are not an issue, the uncertainty about the position ending is enough to charge a significant premium.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Isn’t that because 1099s pay their own taxes? I would be a W2 of the staffing firm, so contracted out to the company but an employee of the staffing firm. I thought W2s don’t pay their own payroll taxes? Though of course I could be wrong.

        1. Clisby*

          Well … W2s pay their share of the payroll taxes, just like any regular employee; they don’t pay the whole thing. 1099s have to pay all of it.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      It would depend on risk tolerance / assessment of relative risk, for me.
      – If my household would be ok with the new salary and if the contract was not renewed in a year, I’d take it, just flat out.
      – If my household needed my current income, I’d really have to think hard; that ‘no projects coming in’ is scary and unknowable.

      You might ask them if they see potential for more than 1 year if it goes well, or if it’s a stern ‘1 year no more’ limit.

    9. BetsCounts*

      Please allow me to jump on the PURSUE THIS OPPORTUNITY train. The title and salary are probably the biggest cons (to my eyes, at least), both of which can be (at least partially) negotiated, right? Frankly the benefits of being back in the industry you like and the ability to network seems as though it would outweigh negatives much larger than those you have listed above. Good luck!!

    10. Quest*

      I would pursue it and see if there is any flexibility on the title. Who knows, maybe they keep the pay the same and call you a senior manager. Then you are only one title step back. If not, then you can negotiate title and comp if/when your contract is up. But I think the salary convo is easier to have when you are talking temp to perm conversion than the title one.

    11. Argh!*

      It sounds like a good move because you don’t have to move!

      If it’s a contract based on a grant or something that isn’t funded after 12 months, you’ll still have those 12 months to build positive relationships and prove yourself to the higher-ups. You’d be a finalist in the next position.

      And if you don’t have an extension of the contract or a new job, you have a good reason for leaving – contract expired! And why did you take a 12- month job? Your story could be Covid-19 related, like “At the time travel was really dicey so I wanted to stay close to home.”

      Having lived & worked in DC, I would also point out that 2021 will have lots of job openings, because even if everyone in power kept their position, there would be some reshuffling because 3-4 years is kind of a long time for professionals to stay where they are in some areas. A lot of “well paid” people in DC can make more money and live better somewhere else and decide after a few years they’re over it.

  12. Puppychan*

    I am a teacher looking to change schools/districts. I have had a few very strange interviews. Most have been under 20 minutes with only 3 or 4 questions. I dont know if I am doing something wrong or this is just how things are right now. Anyone elase had similar thing happening

    1. AnonEd*

      What kind of questions are they? It could be more of a screening interview before the full one. Spouse is a school administrator and he has had to do virtual interviews during the pandemic. They started to do initial interviews and use that to decide who to “bring in” (still virtually) for a full interview.

    2. Not This One*

      Also a job-hunting teacher. I would say that most of mine have been fairly normal; current “typical” interviews for me are on Zoom with panels of 3-6 people, usually 7-8 questions for a total of 30ish minutes. I have definitely had some that are much shorter though! In a few cases, very quick rejections following short interviews have led me to wonder if there was an internal candidate already. (I acknowledge that I am not a perfect interviewee, but I have no reason to believe anything I’m saying is instantly putting me in the rejection pile!)

      I am also interviewing within my current district, which has pretty strict guidelines for hiring committees, so I don’t know if that’s also a factor.

      Good luck! This process really stinks.

    3. Katrinka*

      Are these interviews with HR or with school-level administrators? Our district has an initial screening done by HR and they then contact the specific school(s) they think would be interested/that have openings. If the school-level admins want to move forward, they contact the candidate for an interview with them. Those interviews last anywhere form 30-60 minutes or more. Back when were actually in the schools, we secretaries knew an offer was going to be made if one of the admins gave them a tour of the building (they made offers to others as well, but the tours were dead giveaways).

    4. sequined histories*

      I’m a teacher who has been on some interview panels for administrative jobs in my district.
      In those interviews, there were incredibly strict rules about what we could ask. Basically we were following an extremely rigid template. We had essentially no discretion in what we could say or ask, and then recorded our assessments of the candidate with no discussion following a rigid template as well. It’s possible that people are following rules that allow them no latitude.

    5. Flyleaf*

      I recently volunteered at my son’s school to help interview a new history teacher. Since it was a public school, the process was very prescribed and, surprisingly, very rushed. We had 30 minutes for each candidate. There were four of us interviewing each candidate, and each of us had two questions that were assigned to us. So we really had to rush to get through eight questions in 30 minutes, and didn’t leave much time to go beyond the questions or let the candidate ask their own questions. It was much different than my experience in the commercial world. In the end we selected a very talented teacher, but it was strange experience.

      1. Double A*

        I’m a teacher and I’ve been part of hiring several positions and this is very typical for a public school district. Exactly 30 minutes, completely set questions.

  13. AppleStan*

    I’ve got a direct report that likes to throw out “Well I might as well resign” or “I might as well submit my resignation” anytime he doesn’t like something (feedback on him violating a policy or a new training requirement that I institute that other departments don’t have to do).

    I’ve spoken with our HR department and while verbal resignations can be accepted, they pointed out that “I might as well resign” is different from “I’m resigning.” However, they have not given me any good advice on how to coach away from this.

    Quite frankly, it’s tiring and annoying, and I’d love to just take him up on what I perceive to be a verbal threat (you know those people that think they are one of the most valuable employees ever and we will never move on or be able to survive without them?) because if he wants to go, he should go. If he wants to stay, he should stay. But the annoying tantrums just need to stop.

    Am I being too sensitive on this? Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Any chance you can sit him down and have a conversation about it and basically say something along the lines of:

      if he wants to go, he should go. If he wants to stay, he should stay. But the annoying tantrums just need to stop.

      I mean, that’s the gist of the problem, isn’t it? You’re making a specific ask for a change in behavior. If you want to resign, resign. If you don’t, then don’t threaten to resign.

    2. Ali G*

      No way. He’s a jerk and is basically throwing tantrums. I would be tempted to say “you say that a lot, next time I may take you up on it”
      Really he needs to learn he’s replaceable and this behavior is not acceptable. If he has real concerns he can bring them to you in a constructive way.

    3. Star*

      Wow, I wish I had some of his confidence. I can’t imagine saying such a thing and not instantly being perp-walked out.

      I second what Anonymous Educator said. And I don’t think you’re overrreacting to this ludicrous and unprofessional emotional blackmail.

    4. Observer*

      I’m with @Anonymous Educator.

      Also, in the moment, can you just say to him “Are you actually resigning?” Followed up by “Well, let me know if you decide to resign. Unless and until that happens, your thoughts on the matter are not relevant.” if he says “No, but I’m CONSIDERING it!” If he just says “No.” Then tell him “then don’t say things that sound like you are resigning.”

      Then refuse to engage further. It’s a highly juvenile and arrogant tactic. “If you are not careful, I’LL QUIT! Then what are you going to do? Nyah!” To be honest, I’d be tempted to tell him not to let the door hit him on his way out.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Dude, call him out on that. It’s juvenile and annoying. He’s your direct report–you have standing, if not to fire him, to at least invite him to shape up or ship out.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Challenge it.

      You: “Ok, please make sure you are following the new paper clip sorting procedures”
      Grumpy Gus: “I might as well resign now if I have to do that”
      You (serious and matter-of-fact): “If that is a serious statement, I’ll need that in an email, please make sure to note your last day”
      Grumpy Gus: backtrack backtrack backtrack
      You: “Ok then, just be aware if I continue to hear that I will consider it intent to resign and will ask for you to document it. If it’s not a serious request, it needs to stop”

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I was thinking the same thing. “Can you send me an email to make it official then? Thanks.

        Call him out and see how he responds.

      2. cmcinnyc*

        You could follow up in writing, too. “Today when we I asked you to follow our new paper clip sorting procedure, you said you might as well resign. When I asked if you were in fact resigning you said no. This is a pattern and I don’t appreciate it.”

    7. fposte*

      I would treat this as a variant on “my report is bad at taking feedback,” which has several AAM posts that you could look deeper at. But basically, “Feedback is a way of investing in you, and accepting it is part of the job. I need to be able to give you feedback and instructions without you becoming unprofessional and threatening to resign. Can you do that?”

      1. Always Late to the Party*

        This is solid advice. A lot of the advice up-thread reads as petty. Do not sink to your employees’ level, AppleStan!

    8. Campfire Raccoon*

      “While I understand receiving negative feedback can be upsetting, threatening to resign is neither helpful nor constructive. I’m going to need you to stop. If you’d like to have a constructive conversation regarding policies and processes and how you can improve on them, we can do that.”

      Seriously. Your job is to manage his work, not manage his toddler emotions.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That sounds really annoying! Perhaps next time he says it you could say “Really, that’s the hill you want to die on” (or, that’s the slaw the broke the camel’s back)? If he doesn’t knock it off, treat it like he is actually resigning and tell him he will need to submit a letter of resignation and what his last day will be. Maybe calling his bluff will make him stop.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had a teammate at an OldJob who lost his job that way. Granted, he’d been planning to leave the company and relocate a few months down the road anyway, but he was shocked when his 10000th “I might as well resign” was met with the boss’s “Okay, resignation accepted, go pack your things”. He used to be a valuable contributor until he started in on his relocation plans. Then he pretty much stopped working, and on the rare occasions he’d come in, he’d spend all day planning his relocation and his new business. It was actually one of the reasons I left that job. He and I were on the same on-call rotation and he started taking massive amounts of time off and ditching his on-call weeks on me and a third person on the rotation. I got tired of being on call all the time on last-minute notice (“Hey, Fergus is out again, can you cover for him”) and so, when a recruiter called about a job opening, I said sure! So Fergus was already being a pain. The almost-daily threats to resign were the last straw. We’d had a reorg right before I left, and our team got a new manager who was not as lenient as the old one, and shortly after I left, the new manager showed Fergus the door.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Next time he does it, start the discussion. “Okay, let’s talk about that then. How do you envision that proceeding?” When he starts stammering and backtracking, then you’ve got room for “This needs to stop. I need to be able to give you feedback and direction without you threatening to resign, unless that’s something you’re seriously considering.”

    12. designbot*

      I’d point out to him that that’s always on the table, just as the employer letting him go is always on the table. Normally people don’t say it, because we all understand it to be the case. When he says it out loud, it’s assumed to be something he intends to act on shortly, but at this point since he keeps showing up he’s really crying wolf about it and it doesn’t carry weight anymore.

    13. Sara without an H*

      No, AppleStan, you are not being too sensitive. This is a performance issue, like any other, and you handle it as such.

      Several good scripts have already been offered. You might try pointing out the pattern: “Fergus, you’ve said several times that you might resign. This usually happens when I give you feedback on your handling of guano processing. What’s going on?” If Fergus actually has a specific complaint, you can discuss it with him. If this is just his way of expressing frustration, or resisting your input, then you say something on the order of, “When you decide to resign, please tell me, and we’ll plan how to transition you out of your role. In the meantime, threats to resign aren’t helpful, and I’ll expect you not to do that going forward.”

      But yes, you do need to shut this down. It isn’t useful and it’s changing your relationship with the employee. Deal with it sooner, rather than later.

    14. LadyByTheLake*

      “Too sensitive”??? For heaven’s sake — that’s completely UNACCEPTABLE. Next time he says it, say “Okay, is today your last day or is this your two week notice?”

    15. Fikly*

      “I need you to do your job without complaining to me about it.”

      This is not an unreasonable expectation.

    16. AppleStan*

      Thank you all.

      My main concern is I’m in government, so even though our guidelines allow for verbal resignation, HR has been clear with me that I cannot accept these statements as resignations unless he specifically states “I am resigning.” So my ability to act on that is gone.

      However, I’ve been lax on defining it as a separate issue. Usually, I just return back to the topic we are discussing, and he doesn’t mention it again. I need to treat this as a separate performance issue, and I thank you all for pointing that out. I especially appreciate fposte’s point that this is a variation on “My employee is bad at taking feedback.” (why didn’t I see that myself????) and will follow up with AAM’s many articles on that (just read one this morning, in fact).

      The next time this comes up (it usually rears its head every 4 – 5 months), I’m going to try some of the approaches, followed-up with documentation that it needs to stop.

      Again, I appreciate all of the advice.

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

      Next time they say it: so to be clear, are you resigning your position? (if yes, problem solved. if no, conversation about don’t say that any more.)

  14. Not sure when wfh will end?*

    I work and live in a state that is starting to open up for a large (multiple locations in multiple states) company.

    No one has said anything about when we will need to start coming into the office again. I’m fine wfh but it is a little rough on my wanting to make arrangements brain, not knowing what the plan to return is or when it will be implemented.

    Are other companies still quiet about this? I hear about other companies having a basic guideline (reopen when schools are open again, reopen when state is in stage #, etc). But where I work it is complete radio silence


    1. Aggretsuko*

      Mine is making noises about reopening in general but also acknowledges that we don’t know how the virus is going to go.

      At this point a few people are permitted to go into the office–they volunteered–but the rest of us are forbidden from doing it. Which I am fine with, as I don’t want to go back.

      At this point, everyone’s living in limbo and there’s nothing you can do about that.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      Do you have somebody you could ask? Someone senior (or someone in the know) who could give you an update?

      Of course they might not know either.

      It’s interesting to see the wide range of responses – some jobs saying eff it, work from home til 2021, others saying “we’ve redefined ourselves to stay open, get back here”

    3. OP for this thread*

      I should have added, I did ask my boss. He’s in the ‘I don’t want to ask up stream in case it reminds them we are wfh and they want to have us start coming in’ state of mind. Which I get. This is mainly a problem in my head and not necessarily an issue for anyone else. I just don’t like feeling unsettled.

      I’ve also asked some other people and no one knows.

      1. Katrinka*

        Part of the problem for the higher ups is that the state determines what they are and are not allowed to do. So, until the state actually declares that they can reopen under [conditions], they don’t know what reopening is going to exactly look like.

      2. tangerineRose*

        That’s frustrating. A smart company would let people stay home if they can get their work done there – no point in inviting COVID-19 in anymore than you have to.

    4. Lyudie*

      My company is sending out weekly emails that we are reminded to WFH until further notice. They have said there’s no hurry to bring us back into the office though I am like you, I would like to hear something more firm (tell me “through the summer” or “through the end of the year” or something).

    5. Roy G. Biv*

      My large(ish) company, which happens to have HQ in my state, has told us office workers will be encouraged to WFH if possible, for quite some time yet. But they will also begin taking temps at the entry, and requiring masks and social distancing in the office, for those who plan to go back to the office. My state should allow that at some point next month. Also complicated by the office cubicle lay out, where it will be almost impossible to maintain the 6 foot distance. So again, I expect to WFH a while longer.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      We know we’re going back in a couple weeks. It was communicated last week, with all the details of alternatives, social distancing, etc. What’s strange, though, is I know what my dept. is doing. My friend in another dept. knows he is going to be permanent work from home, but a friend in a 3rd department hasn’t even heard when we’re allowed back to the office. So even one site, one state has a wide range of knowledge being shared with individual employees. (Another coworker works for my dept. in an out-of-state office, and she can’t find out anything because the official communications must come from your department and she has no way to get info from her physical location management.)

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      We found out on Friday that we were going back this Monday. Our state moved to phase 3 so it wasn’t unexpected, but a little more heads up would have been nice.

      1. Bostonian*

        My husband just found out yesterday that he’s going back Monday, so he got short notice, too. However, he works for an industry that is explicitly part of our state’s “phase 2” plan, which has been tentatively set for Monday, so it wasn’t completely a surprise. In any case, I agree a little more foresight and heads up would have been nice.

    8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      My company is spread throughout the US and our parent company has been communicating regularly since early March. First they closed offices through the end of March, then extended through the end of May. Recently they told us that they aren’t expecting anyone to come back into an office for the rest of the year, but if you preferred to go back, there would be procedures in place to keep people safe. My husband works for the government and has been on admin leave since mid March – they get weekly updates.

    9. tra la la*

      I work at a large urban university and they just announced a tiered reopening, lots of details. According to this plan, I think I’d be going back in August. Classes are to be a mix of face-to-face and online. Working from home has generally worked for me, and most of the work I’d need to be at work physically to do would not be safe to do, so I’m a little uncertain about this. Also, since I’m in one of the states that reopened early, I’m not 100% convinced that we’re out of the woods re coronavirus. Mentally I’m treating the plan as “duly noted” but my own sense is that we may not know for sure that this will actually happen.

    10. JustaTech*

      My company (sites in 3 states) has been super open and specific about our opening plans. It’s a 5 phase system (which doesn’t coincide with the phases of any of the three states, which is weird but whatever), that says what groups are allowed (but not expected) back at what times, and what the review dates are.

      For example, essential personnel have been in the whole time (we make a medical treatment, can’t stop), but non-production lab folks were only allowed back starting a few weeks ago, with a whole bunch of really specific precautions (you must wear a mask in the bathroom, for example), and only for lab work (not stuff you could do WFH).
      So we’ve got specific dates on when management will do the assessment of the situation to see if we can move to the next phase. I really like that they’re being super clear that all dates are tentative, and depend on what’s happening in reality. In one state they’ve basically defied the governor and didn’t send anyone else back to the site even when the state “opened”.

      I didn’t realize that most companies weren’t doing something like this.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My company has a bias towards being in the office. My company also doesn’t want to get sued for opening up too early. Additionally, they’re dealing with the city’s and the building mgmt’s restrictions. So they have to be careful. They’re telling us we will have at least 3 weeks notice though. Nothing so far.

    12. Thankful for AAM*

      For at least one month my employer has been sending emails that we might open next week but we dont know. We just got one saying it looks like June 15 but is subject to change.

      I think they just don’t know and I get why your boss is saying don’t draw attention to WFH by asking about it.

  15. Lynn*

    My industry has been super hard-hit by COVID

    Whenever I had considered leaving my company before, it was always in favor of something else in my industry — now that my whole industry doesn’t seem like a safe option, I am spinning on how to approach a job search. I have no idea what I would like to do — and I have an unproductive habit of getting overwhelmed with the open endedness of the search that I just stop.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to approach career objectives right now? (And maybe the answer is — just find a job and worry about career goals later)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is there anything about your day-to-day skills that can easily translate to another industry? Or is your actual skillset industry-specific?

    2. More Coffee Please*

      I think focusing on skills is a good suggestion. Is there a particular skill you’d like to build that you could focus on? Whether that’s something like the opportunity to manage people, do more public speaking, gain specific technical skills, or even just getting the experience to work in a quickly growing company with a fast-paced work environment.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      I agree with the other two commenters….look at the parts of your job that you enjoy AND are good at, list those out, and see what other positions or industries those might prove to be required or advantageous. I’d really encourage you to keep an open mind to industries that may not even be on your radar. Honestly, I think that reading the job descriptions of a bunch of different positions in industries that you deem to be more secure would be a good start. And on the opposite side, if the posting wants certain skills/experience that you don’t have, could you realistically learn those skills or build upon similar skills you already have to get where you need to be? My point is don’t be deterred because you can’t say that you possess every single skill/experience level outlined in a posting. If you can get between 75% & 80%, then I’d say tweak your resume and apply.

      1. Lynn*

        Thank you (to all 3 of you!)

        This is great advice to break down the open-endedness of a new job search and I really appreciate it

  16. Upskill?*

    Spent quarantine upskilling, now what?

    Since my state began shutting down in March, I’ve earned a collection of certifications, attended numerous industry virtual conferences and am taking part in ongoing remote volunteer projects. The experience has taught me a great deal about an industry I’ve recently pivoted to as well as the resiliency of people.

    I am currently creating tailored resume and cover letter packages for jobs in several industries (direct match, indirect match and stretch). However, I feel uncertain about how to position my quarantine upskilling.

    Does it belong in the cover letter to proactively answer the “what have you been doing” question, or does it warrant space on my resume to drive home my external qualifications and my desire to continually learn about the industry?


    1. Colette*

      The volunteer projects might go on your resume (if they are significant). Same with the certifications. I wouldn’t mention it on the cover letter, but it might come up in the interview.

    2. Ophelia*

      I’d say any certifications that are recognized in the industry are useful to include on a resume, as is any volunteer work that involves specific technical or managerial skills that are directly relevant to a specific position. I probably wouldn’t bother adding in conferences attended – that can be something that’s part of a conversation during an interview about how you stay current in the field (etc), but i wouldn’t expect to see that on a resume unless someone was presenting at a conference.

      I think for the cover letter, I’d reference those things that are, again, directly relevant to the position or organization at hand. “I’m interested in moving from llama grooming into a role that focuses on llama management, and recently completed a certificate in herding technique” or “I was impressed by [person at target organization]’s work on ruminants that they presented at XXX Conference, and would value the opportunity to bring my llama expertise to the conversation.” etc.

    3. HermitCrab*

      I’d recommend putting it on your LinkedIn profile in detail – especially if you can’t put it on your application or resume. Lots of online apply processes ask you to share your LinkedIn profile, and when interviewing I always see one or two people check out my profile before the meeting.

  17. Creativity in Govt?*

    Hi all,

    I wanted to ask what level of creativity does government jobs usually require for employees? I wonder if a government job is mostly going to be a job where you do as your manager says and follow policies without any suggestions/opinions allowed or can you make slight suggestions on improving processes, such as introducing new apps that can streamline team communication.

    I plan to go into government financial operation jobs for a local city government that is a large liberal Democratic city. The city has a lot of tech startups and is an expensive city. I considered myself an Independent and don’t always agree with the liberal policies, but will avoid politics (of any kind) as much as possible.

    1. DarthVelma*

      Asking what level of creativity do government jobs require is like asking what human beings are like?

      Seriously, there is an incredibly wide difference between different types of government jobs. Heck, some days my own job allows a lot of creativity and some days I have to follow Federally set reporting requirements.

      Your example about introducing new apps is actually a good one to make a point I think is important – that kind of thing will never be up to you or your supervisor. That’s up to your city government’s IT policies and potentially HIPPA or FERPA or other federal/state/local privacy laws and policies. And if you cannot deal with following actual laws that you do not get to push back against…do not apply to work in government.

    2. Government worker, woot woot*

      Yeah, like DarthVelma said, this isn’t a question that can really be answered. However, there are a few caveats to government work. You won’t be asked to be non-creative any more than people in other jobs, but you’ll find that there are outside influences that non-government jobs don’t have. For example, there are processes we follow that would be much easier using common apps. But we can’t use those apps because their terms of service conflict with state laws (really piddly parts of state laws, too). So it doesn’t matter if you come up some awesome, faster, more efficient way to process TPS reports using the Foo app. If the government doesn’t allow use of the Foo app, it ain’t happening.

    3. Brett*

      Government jobs can be as creative as you want as long as you stay inside policies _and_ don’t spend any money.

      As an example, you could readily use slack, but…

      you have to comply with the sunshine laws for your state. The free tier of slack is not sunshine law compliant because it does not maintain a long enough message archive (normally 7 years in most states). So, up front, you are already needing to sign up for a paid tier (most likely the plus or enterprise tiers to also comply with IT policies). And that involves a cost, which you will need to have authorized. At that point, you are going to either end up in a bid process or going through a sole supplier process, and either way, you might not end up with Slack by the time you are done. (Most likely, you end up with the current paid collaboration tool.)

      And even if you get through all of that and can use paid Slack, now you have to work with your records office to create a new records retention, archiving, retrieval, and redaction process for sunshine requests for slack messages.

      That said, I know about this because I was able to switch our team to slack for a short time while I was working in government. (Ultimately most agencies will stay inside a google or microsoft stack though, whichever they already have licensed.)

      Startups are even more complicated. Although it would be nice to use the products offered by the startups in your area, most of them have no capacity for building RFP responses or submitting bids. They could not really be considered sole suppliers as well. So that makes it difficult for them to compete for government business. If they are willing to offer their products/services for free, you might be able to use them. But this is not fair to those companies and they are better off using their limited resources to pursue business elsewhere.

    4. Joielle*

      I’ll add to the chorus – there are so many different types of government jobs that the question is impossible to answer. You probably would need to follow more procedures than in the private sector – things like RFPs etc that are required by law for municipalities in many states. Budgets can be strict, so no matter how great your idea is, if it requires spending a lot of money it may not happen. People are touchy about using taxpayer money for anything that might look frivolous from the outside.

      I get a sense from the way your question is worded that if you come up with an idea and it gets shot down, you might think it’s because your boss or the agency lacks creativity – like they just can’t think outside the box enough to see that your way is better. In fact, there are real legal and budget limitations in government work that you can’t just talk your way around no matter how good the idea is. Honestly, some of the most creative people I’ve worked with have been government employees, trying to solve problems in novel ways with limited resources. But if you don’t think you would be able to deal with the limitations, you might be happier in the private sector.

    5. Matilda Jefferies*

      What everyone else said – there’s a huge variety, just like in most other jobs.

      But also, government jobs tend not to be very political in my experience (20+ years, working at all three levels of government in Canada.) Which is not to say it never comes up, but no more than in any other office. And in fact probably less, because civil servants are by definition supposed to be apolitical – they work for the organization as a whole, not the political party of the moment.

    6. LQ*

      Agreeing with others, also saying that a lot of other things will matter here. I get that feeling that you think a large liberal democractic tech city may allow a lot of creativity. But likely they are big enough for beauracracy to be powerful. You could bet a lot more creativity in a small, conservative, republican, rural county board because there you’d be in charge of a whole department yourself. So some of it is a size matters thing.

      Some of it is what is your job. I mean…you’re looking in finace? That’s not a traditionally creative job. You’re going to have a lot of regulations you’re going to have to follow. At the city level you’re likely to have several layers of laws you’ll have to follow, fed, state, local (you may get lucky and have county and city!). You’ll have to do the reporting to feds in the forms the feds expect. It would be pretty unlikely that you could come up with your own way of reporting on grants/funding/etc.

      But could you suggest using slack instead of email? Maybe. You likely will have a central IT department who gets to decide that. But they may have a bunch of tools.

      On the other hand I’ve had some jobs that let me get real creative, some bosses who supported me a lot and I got to introduce new tools (after a LOT of paperwork) to not just my little area, but the whole state. That is cool. I had chances to set policies that others ended up following because I worked hard, was supported, happened to be first. That was fun.

      I’ve also been told that we were absolutely not allowed to use google suite. I’ve had good tech tools blocked because there was a spate of spam therefore the whole tool was off limits. I’ve been told that I should be glad we were updated to a 20 year old piece of software.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I have done a few low level government jobs. Take it with a grain of salt, that’s okay. I think it’s really important to define what you think creativity is.

      I can take nothing and work it up into something. I am good at finding low cost/no cost ways of doing things. I am big fan of letting the technology connect everyone and lighten the load in some ways. I also do well with making choices for updating/ modernizing. I pick things that are pretty safe bets and implement those ideas. This helps to modernize the place without frightening the traditional-thinking folks too much. This is what I see as creativity given the setting.

      I think how much of this you can do depends on where you land. If there are several people involved in the process of making change then the change will take longer. You almost have to enjoy repeating yourself many times over. If you are working directly with one or two other people (one of which is your boss) it’s easier to make more changes.

      In either case, you have to be able to handle objections. They will raise an objection and you have to be able to realize they are not objecting to the idea, rather they are asking you a question. Answer the question. Sometimes the question is so basic it can feel like they are just shooting you down. It’s just a question, answer it. It can and probably WILL feel like you are defending your idea and/or defending yourself. Lighten up and just answer the question. Yes, this gets freakin’ tedious. But I have had this go in one of two different directions, they either keep doing this with every idea you have OR at some point they decide they are so happy they hired you and they become very willing to listen to your ideas.

      As with any job, I think that the best inroad is to listen to their concerns when you first get there. Help them with their concerns. In doing this step you lay a foundation of trust where you can present new ideas and have your new ideas discussed and perhaps implemented. It is a good idea to modify your ideas to take in their concerns. A very simple example, but let’s say you want to set up a webpage and they are not so sure about this idea. Ask to give them a sample of what you are thinking of. Write your content and have them review the content. Remove the parts that they don’t want. You can try to get permission to put those parts in later or you may find it’s okay to leave those parts out. In this example it’s a process of going inch by inch. Hopefully in the future you will not have to inch along like this.

      I am Independent, too. I have zero interest in arguing political party stuff. My motto is “A good idea is a good idea and where it came from is not important EXCEPT to give the actual person credit for the specific idea.” I give people credit for their ideas and they bring me MORE ideas, which I thoroughly enjoy. Usually in government most people bring complaints, not many bring ideas so it’s not like I am buried under a staggering pile of good ideas.

    8. Argh!*

      I’ve been a government employee in several states & cities. I can’t imagine there being room for an individual contributor at all, but especially not in financial matters. There are too many rules you’ll have to follow, and your manager’s hands will also be tied. If you can find a way to be creative outside of work you’ll feel more satisfied.

  18. MPH Grad*

    Can I get a definite answer on how (if you even should?) LinkedIn message recruiters or talent acquisition employees after you submitted an application? Again, faced with confusing job-search advice, and totally desperate.

    1. Annony*

      In general it isn’t a great idea. If you think about it, you application is essentially reaching out to them and describing why you think you are a good fit for the job. Messaging them outside of the hiring process is more likely to annoy them than it is to help you unless you have a specific question about the job. If you have a specific question, it would be more useful to message them before applying than after so that you can determine your interest in the job and better tailor your application to what they are looking for. After you applied you should probably just wait for an interview to ask more questions.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I wouldn’t ask. If you were in the middle of a hiring process– as in, you had at least one interview and had been informed of next steps– then you could ask after a few weeks of not hearing anything (and they should really update you themselves). But if you simply submitted an application and haven’t heard anything, you have to let it go.

        2. BRR*

          At the application phase, not really. I’d assume they were hiring if it was posted. If the job search advice you’re hearing is “reach out so your application stands out,” it’s bad advice (and also one of the most frequent pieces of job search advice given). They’ve laid out how to apply and it’s annoying on the hiring side of things for an applicant to try and go around the system.

  19. Bébé*

    How can groups push back remotely? I work in Michigan (cases are going down slowly) and
    we just received a memo today regarding our return to the office. Here are some highlights:
    -There will be no “new normal.” While we will prioritize the safety of each employee as we all return,
    we liked the old normal, thank you very much, and will retain as much of it as we can.
    -We will not be altering our physical spaces for now.
    -We are excited to have you back with us, in an arrangement that promotes a blend of safety, productivity and esprit de corps we collectively enjoyed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Everyone I’ve spoken with this morning is not happy with that memo, saying it doesn’t address employee concerns or leave much space for them. How can we collectively push back? We’re all getting the sense that our leadership thinks this is overblown, doesn’t agree with our governor, and we’re genuinely concerned about the way we would be viewed if we tried to speak up.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I’d start by making a list of things that violate the CDC’s recommendations and maybe use that list while discussing this over zoom with all the people who are concerned about this. And trying to use a tone of voice that suggests you’re doing this for the company.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      So….they’re in complete denial as to the current reality and are making a lot of effort to pretend it never happened. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that. One way you could push back a bit is to ask your leader if she’d be open to meeting with everyone to talk through concerns and questions. I’d be really concerned if she says no, because that tells you she’s not open to feedback and isn’t willing to find broader solutions.

      A member of my family is currently sick with COVID and I’ve made sure all those people who think it’s ‘overblown’ know about it. They’re the ones who haven’t been directly impacted and it makes them arrogant, so I try to bring them down a peg.

    3. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      Esprit de corps? WTF? How about esprit de health? SMDH. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

    4. Uranus Wars*

      I agree with Tangerine Rose. The CDC came out with their office RTW recommendation last week. Start there.

    5. Joielle*

      Can you contact the governor’s office? In my state, the governor has been VERY specific that state agencies WILL be complying with state health and safety requirements for returning to work, and there’s a hotline to call if you have problems in your agency.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Either that, or OP should contact her health department and make a complaint.

        1. Bébé*

          I think that they’re following the letter of the law, but the messaging outside of that is very pushy. They said to either make sure you’re 6 ft apart in the office OR wear a mask if that’s not possible but I live in a somewhat conservative area. I don’t think masks will be properly utilized.

          On a non-work note, I was walking my dog by our local wine shop and some guy tried to go in without a mask (which is required currently in indoors spaces). The door guy stopped him and politely said he couldn’t go in, and invited him to return with a mask. The guy scoffed and said “you kidding me? even though it’s a hoax?” and I couldn’t stop the loud “oh BOY” that came out of my mouth. Thankfully douche guy stomped back to his car, not to contaminate my precious wine shop. But on a work-related note, I could see many of my coworkers responding in a similar way.

          1. SweetestCin*

            Its become extremely polarized here. I’m really sorry you’re having to deal with this on top of the rest of it.

          2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            The guy scoffed and said “you kidding me? even though it’s a hoax?”

            “Maybe it is a hoax, and maybe it isn’t a hoax. But it is a law that customers have to wear masks in my store, and I’m not going to risk losing my license for letting you in without one.”

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

      I’m interested, how they will deal with conference rooms, or open space? My team of about 15 people used to work in a conference room with sound isolation and no windows, and in some occasions we squeezed some extra members in. Some of us had cars or used the company buses, but the rest (like me) used public transport. I’d be upset if they told us to return to our workplace pretending nothing happened.

  20. Anonymost*

    So I saw a news story that someone at my company has been charged with fraud for filing for millions of dollars worth COVID loans for a fictitious company. (I don’t know him personally as my company is huge and he works in another division.) He’s currently suspended without pay and I expect he’ll be terminated. It made me wonder if anyone else has seen any other issues like this.

    1. Basement designer*

      Possibly similar although not to that level – the government handed out free masks to all residents here, which you can collect with your ID card. A hiring manager got in big trouble recently because he used his access to hundreds of ID card photocopies to retrieve hundreds of face masks via vending machines.
      They are like worth 3.50 dollars at the pharmacy. Dude lost his job for 350 dollars worth of face masks you can get at most pharmacies.

      1. Mid*

        Were there limits on how many each ID could get? Because then not only was he stealing, he was preventing people from getting their own masks that they needed. :(

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Wow. Dude lost his job *and exposed himself to possible criminal proceedings* for 350 dollars worth of face masks. Talk about bad judgement.

    2. super duper anonymous eyeroll*

      My employer (owner of the company) is committing PPP loan fraud to their own personal benefit.. paying off personal loans and their personal rent by putting their landlord and people who lent them money “on payroll” for 2 months while the real employees stay on unemployment and the business remains closed. More than likely the company is way too small to get caught.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        My recollection is the very first to get caught were the owners of a very small company, so I wouldn’t count on that being a reason they can’t get caught. I also imagine you could report them?

  21. blepkitty*

    tl;dr question: If you had an issue with a newish employee’s work, would you try to figure out what went wrong first, or create an entire training for them without asking?

    I ask because the two colleagues in charge of training me at my job, Jane and Lacy, are solidly in the camp of the latter, and I find it strange and stressful. They’ll initiate a “training” with me and start showing me a bunch of things I already know, that are pretty basic to the profession I’ve been in for four years. It always turns out that I did something they disliked, but they never ask me why I did what I did. And it’s never for the reason they think, so I’m left sitting through a training on something I already know, without getting the answers I need to actually do the work the way they want.

    I brought this up to my boss recently, and we had a “clear the air” meeting. But a week later, Jane and Lacy proceeded to hold another training where they’d clearly ignored all of the things I said in the meeting to clear up why I had done x thing (which I only learned Jane and Lacy had a problem with when my boss said they were arranging a training for me). Despite my boss encouraging me to interrupt Jane and Lacy if I needed to, they either ignored me or said “I have nothing to say to that” when I spoke up. I finally figured out about 50 minutes into the training that the real problem I’m having is a misunderstanding about how thorough I need to be in one aspect of my job, which has been bogging me down and keeping me from being as thorough in other regards as they want me to.

    So…am I nuts for finding this strange? I’ve never had anyone take so much issue with the way I do my job before, so I don’t know if this is normal. Any advice for how to handle this would be appreciated.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      It sounds like all of the communication is a little off between you, Lucy and Jane, and your manager.

      Here’s what I would do… the next time Jane and Lucy invite you to training push back with your manager in copy. “Thanks for the training invite. Before we do this, can I ask specifically what issues you’d like to address with this training and if there is something specific that prompted this”

      Unless they give you the specifics then I’d decline the invitation. It sounds like your boss needs to be more in the loop and will back you (but I could have read that incorrectly).

      1. blepkitty*

        Oooh I like this, thank you! I don’t have the capital to refuse the training, but it might at least get me the answers I need.

        My boss is odd. She acts supportive but also doesn’t seem to listen. For example, when I first brought these issues up, she convinced herself it was some kind of telework communication problem, then clung to that thought even when I clarified that Jane and Lacy did this before we all went to telework. And in the “clear the air” meeting, just when we were getting to the part of communication I feel we struggle with, boss cut us short and basically told us to continue the conversation on our own. So I’m not convinced she’s going to be any help.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          I would challenge you a little to use this as a boundary setting exercise. You can ‘decline’ without actually ‘declining’.

          “Hmm, without specifics I’m not sure that we will be as productive as we’d all like. Let me know when we have those and I think we’ll be able to have a high impact discussion”

          You: “Oh, paper clip sorting training. Great, can you tell me what concerns you have?”
          Them: “We just think you need some refresher training”
          You: “Of course, since this will be refresher and I’ve been sorting paper clips for a couple of months now, can you tell me which areas we’re going to be focusing on? There must be something you’re concerned with. We should probably understand that before the training so I can prepare my questions/we can focus on the concern/we don’t waste our time going over things that we don’t need to”

          … keep at this until they tell you the problem

          1. Katrinka*

            Yes, always present it as you want to save THEM from doing something unnecessary. “if there’s something specific you think we need to go over, I suggest we skip straight to that so you don’t waste your time going over training that’s not needed.”

          2. blepkitty*

            Hmm. I can try, but I’m not full of hope that I’ll get anywhere because of this exchange that happened in our most recent training, when Jane asked me to work through part of a worksheet out loud (I found this humiliating, tbh). It had pulled an example from a recent project.

            Me: “This is the part of the project where I didn’t quite understand Lacy’s process, so I think it might be more helpful for me if we could go through how she did what she did on this project, rather than sit here and have me try to guess.”
            Jane: “We’re not talking about the recent project, this is a hypothetical paper clip sorting project with similar paper clips.”

            And then she carried on speaking before I even had time to figure out what she meant, much less find the words to politely correct the misunderstanding. (Lacy and I came out of a client meeting with different ideas of the parameters of the project in question, another frequent problem, and the disagreement had come up again earlier in the meeting. I think Jane thought I was bringing that problem up again, when I wasn’t.)

            1. SomebodyElse*

              They do sound like a special kind of sunshine. The key to my suggestion is to do it before you get into the training. Assuming they don’t ambush you as you walk to get a cup of coffee, I’m assuming they are scheduling something. When you see the schedule request, that’s when you have to push back.

              With your description here, I think you might want to try to be a little proactive. Spend some time with Lacy after client meetings to talk about what you heard, what she heard, and game plan for next steps. The other thing that jumped out at me was the bit about understanding Lacy’s prior work or process. Hopefully you are asking questions when that happens to understand what had been done previously, this is also a good time to verbalize why you may change your approach this time.

              “Oh, I see why you used the large buckets to sort the paper clips, I think that we may have to tweak it for this process, the client asked us sort by 5 lengths vs. the small/med/large that they did the last time and the smaller see through boxes will work better” This will show that you know the process is X and there is a reason you are diverting from that instead of not knowing how process X works.

              I’m also gathering that Jane is your defacto day to day ‘boss’ if you will. I’ve seen that before and while it may be confusing and bristle a little bit, you may have to do some managing up with Jane.

              From your description, I’d be frustrated too as the situation doesn’t sound ideal. And I can see this from all sides (yours, your boss, and Lacy/Jane’s) I wish you luck.

        2. Bostonian*

          If you’re not getting the information you need to do your job up to expectations, your manager needs to know. Tell her this needs to be a 2-way dialogue where you get to talk through your approach to your work so that your colleagues can help address the issue more directly.

      2. Ophelia*

        Building on this…what is the reporting relationship between your position and Jane and Lacy? Do they also report to your boss?

          1. Shirley Keeldar*

            Oh dear, that feels unclear and difficult. It doesn’t sound as if your boss is too supportive here, but can you get her to clarify whether you can decline these “trainings” (which sound like punishments to me, as if you’re getting sent to time out but not being told why)? If you’re peers you should be able to decline. Or ask if they can route their “training” requests through your boss? Shouldn’t she be deciding how much/what kind of training you need? Good luck!

            1. blepkitty*

              It’s very unclear, and if my resume were less of a mess I’d be starting to consider my options for leaving when a year is up, because there are a lot of organizational issues here.

              Unfortunately, my boss is newer to the organization than Lacy, who’s been there nearly 30 years and defers to Lacy with regards to how Lacy’s job should be done. She did know about this training in advance, and the “we need to get through this because Lacy would like to retire someday” she threw in when she talked about it made it feel rather mandatory.

    2. Star*

      Ugh. I’ve had similar happen to me.

      It seems that when you make a decision they don’t like they assume 1) it’s a mistake 2) you made the mistake for X reason 3) X reason can be ameliorated by another ‘training’. What you could use from them is to come to you when they feel you’ve made the wrong decision, and to tell you what they think you did wrong, and then give you a chance to explain yourself so you can tell them it was for Y reason which was a different thought pattern or a different route to the same goal but NOT a mistake based on a lack of knowledge.

      Now how to get them to do so, I don’t know. But hopefully the framing I described will be useful. Good luck!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Is it possible they have a hard time saying things like “X is wrong. You need to do Y.” They may for some odd reason think a training is more “polite”.

      2. blepkitty*

        Yep. You pretty much hit the nail on the head. This is how I framed it to my boss, though, when explaining that it was keeping me from actually learning what I needed to know, and that got me advice to interrupt and ask more questions. How am I supposed to know to ask if they don’t tell me there’s a problem?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is what happens when people don’t know how to train or teach.

      Let’s say I am a kid who is having difficulty learning the alphabet. Their solution is to just keep having me go through the alphabet over and over. The actual solution should be to figure out what letter(s) I am stumbling over. (In real life I kept falling over the letter Y, because I knew for a fact that WHY is a WORD not a letter. No one ever asked what was causing my confusion. I just had to keep repeating the alphabet from start to finish. sigh. I gave up trying to figure it out because I couldn’t stand the mind-dulling boredom.)

      You can try framing it as, “Here let me save you a bunch of time, my specific problem area is X.”
      Or you can go through the whole training and at the end say, “Okay, now can we cover my specific concern about x?”

      I think I would have gone right back to the boss and tell the boss that the VERY thing you complained about just happened again.
      “Is this good use of company funds/payroll to spend x amount of time reviewing material I already know, just to answer a couple questions that only take a few minutes?”

      You could try to find printed materials to refer to, maybe you can head-off a few of these teach-athons.

      It feels condescending to me. But I have seen people who cannot teach any other way. They have to start at the top and run through the whole thing to the conclusion. If you ask them a question about something in the middle that ONLY causes them to start at the top again. It’s like they cannot handle the disruption, it breaks their flow of thought. Once the flow of thought is broken the only way to salvage it is to return to the top.

      It could be that the boss concludes you should just ask her instead.
      The times that I have seen the worst examples of this is when there is a designated company trainer. omg. NOT all designated trainers, and NOT all the time but somehow the designation brings some of the worst teachers ever.

      1. blepkitty*

        One problem here is that the whole thing was based on a huge misunderstanding, so it was hard for me to ask, because I didn’t know what it was I’d misunderstood (coincidentally, it played into something I’m weaker at, so I thought this whole time they were just faster than me at doing the thing). But yes, even after clearing up at least one thing they kept thinking I didn’t know, they insisted on teaching it to me like a completely new subject, and only when they were finished with that did they try to work with me to figure out what happened.

        You’ve hit on something else here too, which is that I’m a little concerned because Jane is a trainer on certain subjects, and that training was lacking in certain important teaching conventions, like clear expected learning outcomes. I took a full course on instruction in my subject area because I was interested in it, but it’s not a required subject for people in my field. (As someone who teaches, I wouldn’t even have interrupted her if I hadn’t been told to. It is hard to recover from interruptions, especially critical ones.)

  22. More Coffee Please*

    I have a job offer!! I am absolutely thrilled. The role sounds like a good fit for me, and the company is well-known.

    Early in the interview process, they asked me how much total compensation (salary, bonus, stocks) I was expecting, and I did some research by talking with friends in similar roles at the same company (plus the standard Glassdoor, etc.). I asked for near the higher end of the range I was seeing. Well… they offer beat that by 5k! It’s a significant raise from what I was making previously, and I’m happy with it.

    My question is: if I leave my current company now, I’ll miss out on a bonus that is supposed to be given out sometime in August. It would have been earlier in the year, but they delayed it due to COVID. Is it greedy if I ask New Company to add to the signing bonus to make up for what I’m missing out on? If so, do you think they’d ask me for proof of how much bonus I’m supposed to be getting? My company’s bonus program is based on the company’s performance over the last year, and we haven’t announced our results yet (publicly listed company), so there’s some privacy issues with providing exact documentation as to how my bonus is calculated.

    1. Katrinka*

      If you’ve already negotiated your compensation package and accepted the job, I think it would be a bad idea to go back and ask for more now. The time for this to come up is during the negotiation phase, IMO.

      1. More Coffee Please*

        I haven’t accepted yet. Going to be negotiating with the recruiter later today. Thanks for your reply though!

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m with Katrinka on this. If you’ve already accepted the offer from new company, the time for negotiations is over.

      1. More Coffee Please*

        Hi, I haven’t accepted yet. To clarify, early in the interview process after the first phone screen, they asked me for a range of total comp, and I replied with a range. I have not yet negotiated with the recruiter or hiring manager at all.

          1. More Coffee Please*

            Thanks! I just had a conversation with the recruiter and asked. He’s going to follow up with the hiring manager and see what they can do. I’ll update here with the results :)

        1. Legally a Vacuum*

          If they’re already beating your top level I think it would be hard to ask them for more $ unless the bonus is well above 5K

          1. More Coffee Please*

            Thanks for your thoughts! My bonus is above $5k. I’ve gone ahead and asked. They are supposed to get back to me after speaking with the HM.

    3. Kage*

      Since you haven’t accepted yet, I think you could definitely try to negotiate it. They might be willing to match/provide some of it as a signing bonus. Or might be willing to delay your start date until after your bonus is awarded. I’ve had both scenarios play out in my own job change scenarios.

      For amount since it’s not publicly available yet, you could use the bonus from previous years/periods as a reference (assuming that’s close).

    4. More Coffee Please*

      This was quick, but I already have an update! I spoke with the recruiter earlier today, and they are slightly increasing my sign-on bonus! In this case, it didn’t hurt to ask :)

  23. Ugh*

    I know I’m not alone in this – partner got laid off because Covid and is now starting to get some nibbles on his resume. He asked me what I thought he should do if he gets an offer that requires him to be butt in seat and I have no idea what to tell him. He can’t turn it down or else he loses unemployment. But, our city just is starting to take baby steps toward reopening, plus we had heavy protest activity which is likely going to result in spikes.

    Honestly, we’re more worried about him having to get on public transport, than being in an office. We don’t have a car so that’s the only option, we can’t afford daily Ubers for him. The public transport in our city has announced that they are going to impose capacity limits, something like 15 people per bus (?!?!). Given how many people rely on public transport here, there’s no way everyone is going to be able to get to work on time (or at all) if they have to stand in a huge line and board 15 people at a time.

    I don’t know what to tell him. A car isn’t in our budget (I am partially furloughed myself, though still have a job). Part of me wants to have him just live on unemployment and our savings (which we’re fortunate to have) until the pandemic is less bad – and certainly until after we see what the protests have done to the infection rate. But that seems immoral, and he genuinely wants to get back to work.

    I showed him some posts here about how to assess how a company is handling the pandemic during an interview – but that’s sort of a moot point when he will get his unemployment yanked if he turns down a job offer. I feel like he’d have no choice (though, the cynical part of me wonders how the unemployment office would know. Unless employers routinely call the unemployment office to report candidates who say no?).

    1. Observer*

      Well, maybe he can ask about how they are handling safety and are they offering scheduling flexibility – before the offer stage. A reasonable company will have answers that should be useful (eg your partner can come in later, so the issues with public transport will be less of a problem). A not reasonable company will see him as a “troublemaker” and not offer the job. And that will keep his unemployment safe.

      1. Ugh*

        It seems like this approach is the consensus. Thank you, everyone! It feels very weird to me to start an interview process by being explicit about what you are looking for, especially in these times – though, of course, from reading AAM I know that is a thing we all should be doing. (I’m in a creative field where the culture is to take a lot of crap and ask for absolutely nothing because “you should be bowing down in gratitude to even have this job” so I’m still working on making that mental shift myself.)

        In my city, we have a huge range of views re Covid, from employers who will not even consider bringing people back into the office this calendar year (mine) to those who required butts in seats the second some restrictions were lifted a couple days ago. Hard to tell what an individual company’s policy is going to be regarding this.

        And yes, he’s trying to only target fully remote jobs, but this is a company whose recruiter contacted him via Linkedin and we figure he should at least listen to what they might be offering.

        1. Annony*

          I know if feels weird and like you are trying to “game the system” but you aren’t. You are applying in good faith and being honest about what you would need to be successful at that job. If they cannot provide that, then not getting the job is a good thing for everyone.

    2. Ophelia*

      I kiiind of wonder if the play here is to be explicit (but polite) about WFH concerns and questions in the interview. If he is asking them of a company that wants butts in seats, it might be a flag to them about him not being the right “fit,” yielding a lower chance of an offer, which would prevent him from losing unemployment, and maybe keep his search/second-round interviews kind of implicitly directed towards organizations that are open to WFH?

    3. Annony*

      If he knows he doesn’t want the job but is afraid of losing his unemployment, then he can make it clear to the potential employer that he does not have a reliable way to get into the office and is only interested if he can be remote at first. He could also make it clear that there are other things he dislikes about this position to make them less likely to give him an offer. Most companies don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t want the job. It’s not immoral to not want a job that you can’t reliably get to on time.

      1. tetris replay*

        Check your unemployment rules. In my region, the rules were updated a couple of years back, and having certain requirements (like higher salary than the position offers) can be considered a refusal of work.

        1. Annony*

          That’s true but only if he is actually offered the job. If they decide not to offer it to him because he asked for a higher salary, I don’t think that is a refusal of work.

    4. Campfire Raccoon*

      They wouldn’t know. They could potentially know if he turned down a job from his previous employer.

      Some states require you send in names of places you’ve sent resumes to or had interviews at. But even when unemployment is low, they don’t have a huge staff to dedicate to checking up on those.

      1. Ugh*

        Yeah, in our state he’s supposed to keep a “work log” that they can demand he turn over at any time. He’s supposed to list all activities related to job hunting. It’s been over 2 months now though and they’ve yet to ask for it. I imagine they are overloaded.

        1. Spearmint*

          My state has similar requirements. I was last unemployed right before the pandemic, and even then my state never asked for it.

          1. ThatGirl*

            yeah, I’ve gone through two periods of unemployment in the past 13 years, and neither time did anyone ever ask for the log. I imagine right now nobody has time to spot-check.

    5. TCO*

      In addition to the other recommendations above, do your state’s unemployment rules allow him to remove himself from a hiring process before the offer stage? If it becomes clear during the interview process that this employer won’t allow remote work, can he just let them know after the interview that he needs to withdraw from consideration?

    6. Purrscilla*

      Is bicycling an option at all? I’ve heard that a lot of people are starting to consider ebikes as an alternative to public transit.

      1. Ugh*

        He hasn’t ridden a bike since childhood, and it can be pretty treacherous biking all the way downtown, with cars not giving the right of way. I have multiple friends who’ve been doored or hit and ended up in the hospital. I don’t think he’d be confident doing that daily or, well, ever (and 6 months out of the year we have snow, which, I know people do it, but I honestly don’t see how!)

  24. Aggretsuko*

    My management spent another hour telling me how horrible I am again. These people will ask “Is there anything I can do to help?” and then ignored me when I actually gave an answer. They bitched me out for sounding stressed and then wonder why I won’t turn on the camera so they can check on me. I asked for help and they ignored it. I said I don’t have time to get my work done and they ignored it. They instead threatened to take away all of my work and make me just answer phones all day (which they know I am terrible at). They hate it when I speak, they hate it when I don’t speak. They want me to “communicate” and complain that I don’t communicate enough, then don’t like it when I do. It should be obvious to them that I am in some kind of distress and they just don’t care.

    I am beyond tired of this fucking game. Yes, I’m horrible. I agree with you. However, you can’t afford to fire me and I can’t afford to not have a job, so we’re just gonna keep on like this. If it didn’t dock my pay to go out on stress leave, I was seriously considering doing it just to prove a point.

    It’s too bad there’s REALLY no option to get another job now. I am beyond stuck. Though for all the “we hate you” stuff I got yesterday, I did get a nice note from someone else in another office saying they loved me there. Too bad they can’t hire me either. I don’t really want to do what they do, but they are at least nice.

    In other news, another coworker of mine is also about to have a nervous breakdown and they still don’t care. Somehow other sections were allowed to get new staff but we’re not. They did post the job listing for my group and then “somehow” it was taken down the next day. It’s back up again, but seems like a bad sign.

    1. MissGirl*

      You need an exit plan. While you say you can’t get another job right now, what steps can you take to get a better job down the road? What’s keeping you there? Bad job market, lack of skills, no other job options? Are there skills you can learn, is there networking you can do? When you’re making steps, you feel far more in control of the situation. Even something as small as updating a resume for later can help.

      Give yourself a time frame of how long until you leave. I know this isn’t entirely in your control but a deadline, even made-up, can nudge you to take more concrete steps and also feel like there’s an expiration on the current situation. That can make the current situation more bearable.

    2. Emilitron*

      So sorry that management is sucking so bad. Sending good wishes for you putting up with their BS in the short term and finding a new gig ASAP.

    3. Observer*

      I’m with MissGirl. You need an exit plan. And despite how bad the economy is right now, it IS possible to create a plan. It probably won’t be a FAST plan, but a slow plan that gets you out of there is better than being stuck.

    4. Juneybug*

      Here are some tools/comments that might help –

      Time Tracking
      I keep track of my projects and tasks with time (duration). Whatever projects/tasks I won’t be able to finish that week gets moved to the following week. Why track? Because when my boss is terrible at figuring out that a brand new presentation will take 4 hours, not 40 minutes. So in her mind, I should be able to knock out the presentation, as well as ______, _______, and ______.
      Tracking also gives a chance to ask her what should be a priority when she adds a new action item. “I am currently working on project/tasks which should take xx hours, and working project/task which should take xx hours… (repeat as necessary). Which project/task would you like me to hold off doing so I do the project/task you need completed sooner?”
      Bonus reason for tracking – often when our workload is high, we don’t see what we have accomplished. We only think about the remaining items that need to be done. Tracking allows me to see all of the many actions I have completed so it’s a boost to my self-esteem.

      The “problem” with your communication is you are not saying what they want you to say/hear. So the best communication suggestion is you stop trying. This is not a game you will ever win with them. Personally, I would answer “fine” or “not bad” when they ever ask how it’s going. Provide no additional details or complaining (they won’t listen or change anyway).

      Stress leave
      Never assume that management is correct. Double check with your Payroll or Human Resources about docking your pay for taking stress leave. You should also check with your Labor Dept. to see if this is legal. If taking stress leave is not going to affect your pay, then take it and work on job hunting.

      Negative thoughts
      You are allowing their voices to be in your head. When they tell you something negative, write down the opposition and repeat it out loud (after you get off the phone). For example – them: “you are bad at your job” becomes you: “I am good at my job, otherwise you would have fired me”. It might seems silly but you need your personal cheerleader to be louder than their mean girls’ voice.

      Job hunt
      As bad as the market might be, as stressed out as you might be, and as bad it sucks to job hunt, you need to start job hunting. Your management will never give you a raise or promotion, will never give you the respect you deserve, they will never decrease your workload, and they will never stop telling you how awful you are. To stay at this job is to accept this abuse.

      Your boss sucks and is never going to change.
      Accept that about this job. Move on because you deserve better.

  25. AnotherAlison*

    Good news for students? When stimulus checks were being issued, it looked like college students were getting passed over, but my son got a $720 check from his university yesterday. It is a COVID Emergency Student Grant, or something like that. It’s separate from his housing credit that was already applied to his summer online course fee.

    1. University worker*

      Yes! I work for a university and for those universities that received stimulus funding from the Cares Act, approximately 50% is federally mandated to go to students to assist them with the costs of moving off campus and going online. Think, moving costs, digital textbooks, etc., obviously at their discretion to use how they want. I’m glad to hear that your son was able to benefit from some of these funds and that he got it relatively quickly! Best of luck to both of you moving forward. I know what an uncertain and confusing time this is to be at a university, with all of the questions about what returning in the fall looks like.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Thank you! Also good to hear some of the background of the funding.

        Fortunately he “graduated” and will really be done after summer session, so we don’t have to guess about what happens in the fall.

    2. Pamela Adams*

      Yes, about half of the CARES money that went to colleges and universities was earmarked for direct student aid.

  26. Procrastination thread*

    Working from home I am busier than ever. The semester just ended. I have financial planning for my department. Follow up on HR stuff. Assignments for interns work from home. AND end of the month statistics. And a back to campus work-plan. Sigh.
    I really want to shelve books.
    Help me out here. Tell me what you don’t want to do. Do it. Come back and say you did.
    Number 1 because it causes pain to others if I don’t turn them in on time. Statistics.
    It is 10:30 where I am. I have a zoom meeting and a lunch meeting.
    Will post when I complete them.

    1. Emilitron*

      Ugh, the Thing I am procrastinating on is going to be a weekend-long slog so I probably won’t report back, but boy am I putting it off. It’s made me very productive at catching up on the backlog of other tasks, because I’m so strongly in avoidance mode, so… half good news? But the Thing is a really positive career-building thing, participating in industry peer advisory work outside of my immediate employer, but OMG it’s difficult and time consuming (and yes, imposter syndrome, what if I don’t do it well enough?!). SO now I’m going to go do the Thing.

      Good luck on your official planning work OP, and I hope you get to shelve some books and it’s like task-candy rewarding.

    2. Procrastination thread*

      well, its 3:42 and I have done everything but stats.
      No excuses, just email and follow up stuff that of course could have waited.

      1. academic librarian*

        it sounds like we’re in similar positions and i also put off the stats this week! no accountability for me here, just solidarity

  27. tangerineRose*

    I’m looking for a good desk to put my laptop on. Maybe a sit-stand desk. It needs to be lightweight and easy to move. Something that can hold a laptop and a monitor with a keyboard tray that can hold an ergonomic keyboard and a mouse. Hopefully also not expensive.

    1. Mid*

      What would you consider expensive?

      And do you have a current table/desk? Would you like a sit-stand topper that you could place on an existing table or a full desk?

    2. Notthemomma*

      I have a plastic folding table- think what is set up for meetings, picnics and such. There are different sizes and mine was about $60 US.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I have no idea what your price range is, that being said I have a Jarvis bamboo adjustable desk and it’s tremendous.

  28. BabyCarrot*

    I have been job searching since just before confinement started. I got a job offer last week for the city I live in, which is great! I’m dropping in salary but I have decided that my mental health is more important than money and I will be doing tasks that I like more and am more confident in my capabilities. I don’t have a starting date yet as they are not planing to do onboarding while the offices are closed so I haven’t given my notice at my current job.

    If you are looking for a job right, keep going, some companies are still hiring! Good luck!

  29. Wing Leader*

    I have a very peppy coworker that drives me nuts every day. That is all. If you play Animal Crossing, I essentially work with Flora.

    1. Mid*

      I’m sorry. Maybe you can be mean to in-game flora when you’re annoyed with irl Flora!

      I try to breathe and realize that people react to stress in different ways. I turn into a human turtle and hide in my shell and hiss at people to get too close. My partner turns into a clingy octopus. And some people turn into very chipper birds. We need their variety, even if it’s annoying.

      1. Sara without an H*

        I, too, am a human turtle. The kind that bites.

        One thing I’ve found helpful is to remember that everybody — everybody — is running scared right now. People have vastly different ways of coping with that fear. “Flora” processes hers by being super-dooper cheerful, others become clingy, others snarl.

        1. Wing Leader*

          Oh, no, she’s been this same way the entire time I’ve worked with her–four years. Nothing different now.

      2. Bubbles*

        I genuinely really love this analogy. I shall be stealing it and attributing it to you when possible.

    2. Coco*

      When I read this thought it was ‘puppy’ coworker instead of peppy.

      Was hoping a cute puppy was asking for tummy rubs and treats.

      Upon second read, sorry about the peppy coworker. Wish I had advice to offer but can only commiserate

  30. Jaid*

    I’m hearing noises from work that I might get back…in July. For the first time in ever, OTHER centers are being brought back online before mine.

    Finally, we’re not the testing ground for whatever new cockamamie procedure TPTB have dreamed up! Yay!!!!

    I’m ready, though. I have some Mr. Bento’s for my hot food so I can eat my desk, a rolling cart so I can lug them, ALL the bottles of seltzer, and whatever else I need, from my car to the building on the daily. Found a portable clothing steamer in my closet going unused. And I figure I can get a small curtain rod and clear shower liner to create a barrier for the cubicle opening. They will be giving out masks and such, but I already have a bunch.

    My real concern is the bathroom, cos’ our ladies can be nasty. I may have to travel to the 2nd floor, where everyone is guaranteed to be WFH.

    I never thought I’d have to say this, but I miss work.

  31. Retail not Retail*

    I sent in a question last week that has since evolved.

    Short version – what are reasons to not move someone to another department while an injury heals? That’s what they did with someone at grocery job.

    I feel my boss doesn’t believe me about the wild impracticality of doing our job one handed. (It’s not safe! It’s not sustainable!)

    I don’t mind staying home and being good, I just don’t understand it!

    1. Annony*

      Sometimes there isn’t a good job to move someone to. If they don’t have a need for an additional person in the other department or there is too much training involved, it may be easier to have someone go on short term disability than transfer jobs temporarily. This is especially true if even in the other department, the person would need accommodations for their injury.

      Sometimes it has more to do with office politics and paperwork such as what budget the employee is being paid from and how the transfer would affect their ability to justify hiring a new permanent person.

      I hear you about the impracticality of doing a job one handed. I had a friend break his elbow recently and he was out on disability for a while even though he has a desk job. It slowed him down too much to make it worth it to his company to have him come in.

      1. Katrinka*

        A lot of times, they are following government guidelines for that particular position. It can all be very convoluted. We had a custodian who couldn’t lift things for about a week. We brought her into the office to help with sorting and filing (she was stellar, we were sad when she had to go back to Facilities). If the only restriction that the doctor wrote was that the employee couldn’t use one arm, but didn’t say anything about lifting (for instance), they can be required to still lift things even if it makes the job slower or more difficult (but not more dangerous). And if it’s a worker’s comp injury, a lot of companies will bend over backwards to have the employee come in. Otherwise, they’re paying a salary for someone who’s not working and not using PTO – they don’t usually budget for that kind of loss of manpower.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          I know that’s what got me mixed up – you’d think this year of all times they’d be like, do crowd control. Just sit somewhere.

          I’m also really surprised my manager hasn’t pressed me on doing things one handed. I do have that arm to hang stuff off of and my fingers are fine but the whole wrist and thumb are locked down.

          And yes it was an OJI otherwise i’d be suffering at work and making it worse.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        We do have new tasks associated with reopening – i could take a temperature and hunt and peck to record “no plague”

        But my boss thinks I can rake leaves. I can… but it takes too long and I can’t carry more than one bag. Or throw the bag away.

        Weeding is theoretically one-handed but we weed in tight spaces where I know I want stability.

        I have a custom brace now and it won’t let me be bad. The off the shelf brace from urgent care allowed too much movement. Those 2 work days made me wonder how much pain you can expect in an average day.

    2. Construction Safety*

      It is less of a WC premium hit if the worker continues to work instead of collecting a WC check at home.

        1. Construction Safety*

          Could be they have some kind of “policy”.
          Could be they weighed the risks of you being there vs the cost of you staying home.
          Could be they’re morons & don’t know any better. A lot of companies don’t have any idea on how to manage WC cases.
          Can you ask them specifically about their “Return to Work” policy?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe they don’t have other work for you. Maybe the work that is there is just enough for the people already in place. Maybe they have made commitments and promises that you are not privy to.

          I am not sure I am understanding here. The boss wants you to do your regular work. You want to stay home? So I am not clear on where Other Work comes in, except as a compromise?

          For your own sanity, don’t try to figure out why they won’t give you other work. I have tried this on a few occasions and I concluded that I liked retaining my sanity the best.
          My vote is for getting a doctor’s note and staying home. Let the doc know there is no compromise job available and you’d have to do your regular job.

          1. Retail not Retail*

            The boss is accepting me saying the two theoretical tasks are impossible. The doctor said if they can’t accommodate no movement, tough.

            It just feels weird when I see tasks that can be done one handed.

            But I’m also not opposed to healing during summer.

    3. KR*

      I feel like with a leg injury or something, they could set you up with a stool either to face shelves or at the register. But to have to do the job one handed is absurd. Work at a grocery store is physical by nature.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        That was an example from an old job – she went from the deli to self checkout after an arm injury.

        I’m a groundskeeper! Sure boss i can use a weedeater! Smack it flies out of my hand and damages something.

  32. Quiznakit*

    We’re rotating people in and out of the office right now–two thirds of the team is working from home at any given moment. It’s my week to have to put on actual clothes and work in the office. After wearing lounging clothes to work from home, this is terrible.

    But that’s not what my post here is about.

    Turns out one of my fellow in-office colleagues sincerely believes that the ‘Rona was created by China and is now a weapon in their arsenal that they will deploy if it so suits them. I’ve pushed back on this with every rational argument I can muster, but I don’t think I’m having much effect.

    Flames, y’all. Flames on the side of my face.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance.

      We haven’t had much pushback against masks at my job or debating whether the rona is real.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      I literally said, “My daughter-in-law has it and is quarantined from my grandson. You just wait, wait till it happens to someone in your family and then you’ll see how fake it is.” And then sending a telepathic eff you with all my might.

    3. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      The HR person at my plant was spouting similar nonsense a few weeks back and I was pretty sure steam literally came out of my ears.

    4. pbnj*

      I don’t think there is anything you can say that will convince them, a lot of people will just double-down. We have some managers that think it is a conspiracy theory and want to tell everyone about it, so I feel you.

    5. JustaTech*

      Dude. I would have spontaneously combusted.
      I’m assuming you used the “This is a terrible, weenie bioweapon. A real bioweapon and we’d all be dead. You need to watch more disaster movies.” approach?

      It’s just a stupid idea, stupid with a nasty racist modifier.

      1. Nita*

        Heh. Yeah. I’ve also asked them if they’re sure it’s not an American bioweapon designed to cost China its export business. And if they think SARS and Zika and Ebola and the 1918 flu are also bioweapons. But eejits don’t do logic. Even when they’re college-educated eejits.

    6. AnonPi*

      My workplace is still mostly remote, and is requesting staff that do need to come on site come in the day before to get tested for covid. Apparently several people have refused because they don’t want the government to have their dna to clone them. I don’t even know what to say to that, given we work at a government facility.

      Thought now that I think about it, I had a coworker say something similar bout the dna genealogy testing. She was worried about the exact same thing. I don’t know where this government cloning thing has come from.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “It’s okay. The US has it’s own full set, too.”


      “Hey, we have to go with whatever idea comforts us and makes us feel better. I guess this helps you in some manner.”


      “Okay, you win. Now about the large order of teapots from Jones and Company…..”

    8. Avasarala*

      I saw this reply once and I love it: “That’s what they WANT you to think.”
      Out-conspiracy the conspirators!

      1. Hydrangea McDuff*

        “Well, if that’s true, they did a bad job. Now, about those teapots….”

  33. COVID's got me down*

    Well, I’m getting frustrated today. I was told by my supervisor that I didn’t incorporate corrections into a document when I did. I ended up responding with “In the previous document, I made XYZ changes here. For this one, I moved X and Y to here and left Z where it is.” I think COVID is finally getting to us.

      1. IndyDem*

        My wife blanked on our home phone number, I have to give her the first 6 numbers before it clicked. Usually it’s me!

  34. Ellen*

    Alison has commented before that one of the complications when it comes to remote work is that there are different laws in different states and this affects how employers treat their employees (for example, here). I’m curious, how does this apply to TEMPORARY remote work, as we’re seeing now? I bet a lot of people are in different states than they ordinarily are during the pandemic; are their employers therefore breaking laws?

    Also, how is this likely to affect the coming increase in companies allowing permanent remote work?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I bet a lot of people are in different states than they ordinarily are during the pandemic; are their employers therefore breaking laws?

      Is this true? I’m in the same state and same city, just not commuting every day. Are people actually crossing state lines on a regular basis to go to work? I mean, I guess when I lived in Rhode Island, I commuted to Massachusetts, but people felt sorry for me—that wasn’t a typical commute for any of my co-workers at the time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In places near a border, definitely. I’m in the DC area, and there’s tons of crossover among DC, MD, and VA (it can be as short as a 10-minute drive, depending on where you live).

        But it’s based on where you’re working, so crossing state lines to go to your office (which is your work site) wouldn’t trigger anything. It could become an issue when your work site becomes your home in a different state.

      2. whistle*

        Yep, I live 2 miles from a state border. I live in one state and work in another, as do more than half my coworkers. The nice thing about border cities is that many employers are set up for both states, but of course not all. (I’m actually in a tri-state area, so it’s even more confusing and fun!)

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m in Ohio, and many people I’ve worked with over the years (though not now since I’m fully remote with a company headquartered in another state) commuted to our offices from Kentucky and Indiana.

      4. Ellen*

        I was thinking of people who have left their home states — for example, some of my junior colleagues are staying with their families during quarantine. I know others who decided to hunker down with their long-distance partners who might live in a different state.

        1. NGL*

          Same here. I live in a big city so it draws people from all across the country early in their careers. So either because they didn’t want to stay in cramped apartments with roommates, or because of parental fears, a lot of folks left as soon as it became obvious this wasn’t just going to be a short two-week stint. It’ll be interesting to see if all of them come back honestly (since while I think our office will become much more flexible on WFH, I don’t see us going 100% remote)

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I know a few cases of people hunkering down with long distance partners on different continents!

          As far as I know, it’s being handled not as moving situation, but as being a long term visit at a local institute (something that happens normally – I work in a very international branch of academia). The primary wrinkle is that it can affect tax status if you’re out of your country of residence/work for more than half the year, so at least one person’s tax rate will increase.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One good example? Manhattan draws from New Jersey and Connecticut as well as New York State. There are train lines & bridges & a tunnel to funnel people in.

      6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Thousands of people who live in Vancouver, Washington work in Portland, Oregon. It’s to escape the state income tax.

    2. fposte*

      For the temporary question, it’s up to the relevant states. Several states have said they’ll waive enforcement of tax nexus laws during the pandemic–IOW, if you usually go to an office in Delaware but are working from home/your mom’s in Pennsylvania because of sheltering in place, Pennsylvania is agreeing not to demand taxes from your employer for that.

      I don’t think any state will waive that permanently, though; they’re all too strapped right now. So I think the tax obstacles of remote work will go back to what they were before.

      1. Flyleaf*

        The interesting thing I took from the WSJ article is that in some cases (CT, if I remember correctly), you might have to pay taxes to both states without getting an offset from the other. It could get messy. I wonder how many people are simply keeping their mouth shut about where they are working.

      2. fposte*

        I can’t see the whole article, but that looks like it’s about the *employee* owing income tax; the problem with employers authorizing interstate remote work is that they, the employers, are on the hook if they create a business nexus in the state. So even if you’re cool paying California income tax while working for somebody in Nebraska, NebraskaCo may say hell, no to a California business nexus.

    3. OntarioLibraryWorker*

      I’ve been wondering about this for my husband – he’s working from a different country!
      We live in Ontario and he commuted 4 days a week to Michigan for work (very common in our city), plus WFH one day. Currently he’s working from home full time in Canada when he normally works in the States. He works for a large company so there are a few dozen people in his situation. The company said they’ll figure it all out later. But now he’s wondering if they should have been taxing him differently all along since he has been working from home one day a week for years. I’m hoping they won’t take away Canadian WFH privileges once this is all settled!

  35. shhhhimhiding*

    I’d love for some advice on dealing with someone I report to, and I apologize if it reads like a rant, because this has made me very angry.

    My job functions have expanded pretty dramatically since COVID-19 started, but unfortunately my hours have been vastly reduced. I’m an efficient worker, though, and part of what kept me working at all is my speed and willingness to tackle just about anything people need help with. So despite the fact I’m a sales admin, I now do a fair amount of accounting, IT support (I’m not trained for this, I’m just good at googling things), graphic design (also not trained or particularly talented at it, but everyone is fine with what I’ve made so far), and working with our on site restaurant. I do it all with only 24 hours a week, and honestly while it is sometimes overwhelming, I’m usually very proud of what I’m able to accomplish.

    The problem I’m dealing with is one of the people I report to. She’s not exactly my supervisor, but as a sales manager she can delegate tasks to me. Which she has taken to mean that everything that isn’t talking to contacts is my job. She still gets 40 hours a week out of necessity (she has to be onsite in case a client needs her), but she spends almost all of her day scrolling on Facebook and taking personal calls. She also has called off several times in the past month, and while I’m certain that there’s some discipline happening, I’m still very much subject to all of her work.

    One of her clients sends their needs to both me and her, we received one such email after I left for the day. Not only did she not handle the task (which would equate to maximum ten minutes of work) she went and logged onto my computer, flagged the emails as important, and then did nothing else. I know she did this because I get the emails on my phone, when I received them, they weren’t flagged. Two of my coworkers confirmed she got on my computer. Someone had to have flagged them, and she’s the only one that had access.

    I’m honestly not sure how to approach this with anyone, admittedly because I am aware I am responsible to handle the tasks she gives me, but I’m so overwhelmed with things to do. It feels like a complete slap in the face for her to take the effort to get onto my computer, pull up my email, flag the messages, and not just do the minor amount of work. I may have ranted at a coworker for a hot minute about it. Not proud of that, I know even though I’m exhausted that’s not the best way to handle it. What should I say to her? I’ve tried asking her in the past for help and her response is usually “you can just do it tomorrow.” I’m a non-confrontational sort, and I’m usually really good at talking to people about this sort of thing, but I’m just a little too angry to think diplomatically.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      How did she get on your computer? I assume it’s password protected. Otherwise, tell your boss what is happening and let them know that you taking on far more of her work than the other new functions.

      But, I do have a question, are you getting all of it done in your shortened hours with all of the other work you described? If so, I’m not sure what recourse there is but that’s a discussion for you and your boss. Be prepared for your boss to ask the same thing, because if you are getting it all done, then there doesn’t seem to be a problem (outside of her work ethic).

      The only other tactic, is find more important to your boss and the business things to do and let her know that your priorities are X,Y, and Z and she needs to handle the task.

      1. Ophelia*

        Yes – DEFINITELY take this to your boss, and frame it as, “in the past few months, I realize my scope has expanded, etc etc. Can we talk about what you’d like my priorities to be? Here are the things I’ve been taking on, but I can’t do all of them in 24 hours per week, and I need to make sure I understand what you need.” and then, you can list out–as part of what you’ve been doing–the tasks she gives you. It *might* turn out that the crap from the sales manager is indeed the tasks your boss wants you to focus on (in which case, ugh, but it means other things can drop), or s/he might go back to the sales manager and clarify what you’re supposed to be doing. Either way, it’d be good to proactively flag this to your boss.

      2. shhhhimhiding*

        Unfortunately with my computer, I’m the only one that has a certain program in the office that’s required for certain jobs. I can’t banish her completely, but I am going to change my email password, and take it off the computer’s outlook so she won’t be able to see it again.

        For the most part I’m able to do everything, and my grandboss (who is kind of just my boss boss now) is very much a fan of me, so he gives me leeway on deadlines. Unfortunately it seems he’s written off my sales manager, so he may not even really want her doing as much anyway.

        I think you’re right on the prioritizing though, it’ll be harder for her to brush me off if I have a tangible list of things. I’ll try that.

        1. Katrinka*

          Her going in to change the emails is a tangible thing you can take to your boss. Your system should actually show that someone went onto your computer after you had left for the day to make those changes. And with your co-workers saying they saw her go on, she’s left with explaining why she did that, because if she were merely wanting to make sure you took care of it first thing in the morning, she could have sent you an email telling you to do so. If it were just her not doing the work when she did have time to do so is more of a judgement call. But her going in on your computer to change something in your email is a tangible wrong act.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Look up how to create different user logins for the underlying operating system. You can set it up so YOUR login gets access to everything, but a visitor only gets access to the browser, Skype, and that SuperSpecialSoftware.

    2. Annony*

      One thing you could try is when she says “you can just do it tomorrow” is to say “Actually, I am really swamped. I’m not sure I can get to it tomorrow. Could you handle this one?” Of course that really depends on how certain you are that your boss has your back.

      I suggest talking to your boss about your workload. If you can, have an estimate of how much of your time this sales manager is taking up. Then you can say something like “I am always happy to help when I can, but I really do not have the time to handle all of (sales manager’s name)’s administrative work. When I have a full plate is it ok to refuse those tasks? Or is there another way you would like me to prioritize my work?”

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      You “report to” several people, but who do you actually ANSWER to? Tell that person what is happening and ask her how she’d like you to prioritize your work, given that you have only 24 hours per week in which to do it. You can bring some proposed solutions to the discussion (X, Y, and Z but not A or B, or A, B, and X but not Y and Z), and then you and your boss can take it from there.

      If the work being dumped on you is NOT on your manager’s list of priorities for you, then you get to tell this person, “I’m not able to do this any more. [Manager name] has asked me to focus on other tasks within my part-time schedule.” Invoking your boss’s name helps reinforce that if the dumper doesn’t like this new state of affairs, complaining to you about it won’t do anything — you have the support of your boss.

    4. Observer*

      How did she get on your computer?

      If you don’t have one yet, put a password on your computer and DO NOT GIVE IT TO HER.

      Also, don’t kill yourself to do work for her. I would be tempted to just let some of her stuff drop, but that’s probably not your best bet. Instead, go to the person you actually DO report to with a log of what you are doing each week in the 24 hours you have and point out how much of your time is spent on her stuff. Use an Allison type script – I can to a,b, c and d as well as x tasks per day for Lucinda. How should I prioritize?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      oh gee.

      I think I would go to my actual boss. “Boss, as you know I am running in 16 directions at once. The other day I found out that Sue was in my email and flagging emails “for” me. I am thinking that if Sue has time to that, then maybe she should have time to take x, y and z off of my plate so I would have more time for a, b, c, d, and e. Regardless, though I have become aware that carrying this much work on the amount of hours I have is NOT sustainable. I would like us to talk about what can be done here.”

      Silly Sue. Don’t show me how much extra available time you have. Don’t do that.

    6. shhhhimhiding*

      I just wanted to thank everyone for replying, I was ruminating on this all weekend. I don’t really have a direct boss at the moment. The director of sales left right before COVID-19 hit, and they decided not to fill her position. So I don’t really have a direct supervisor, my general manager is about the only person that I could conceivably consider the person I report to. He has come to depend on me for a lot of things, and has made it well known that he thinks highly of me.

      I suppose my hesitation is that if I take my issues to him, that means I’m going to the top of the ladder for this, and I would prefer to have a little more people on the chain of command before I tell the general manager his sales person is misbehaving. So, after hearing what you guys have said, I’ve created myself an informal list of daily must do’s, that include things my general manager requests. She and I have are actually pretty good friends, so I’ve decided to leverage that in chatting with her before I go the GM, and explicitly tell her that if I don’t have room on the list, she’ll have to do it herself. I’ve also changed my email set up so she can’t have access to it any longer. I’ll update you if something crazy happens.

      Thank you for the suggestions!

  36. DefinitelyWorking*

    I’m considering getting an online certificate in a discipline that is not directly in my field, but is related and would help me qualitatively do a lot of my work and the kind of work I want to do in the future. I’ve found a program that I’m quite excited about, and am looking at payment options now. My question is: How do folks usually approach this with their bosses? My office is generally supportive of professional development, but I don’t know if there are procedures to informing them of this. Should I tell her before I apply, or after I’ve been accepted to the program?

    Thanks for advice!

    1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

      Do you plan on doing coursework during work hours? Do you plan on getting reimbursed by your company at all? Either of those would make me think you should have a chat with them before you apply.

      Many companies have some sort of reimbursement program, and it usually involves getting your manager or someone else to sign off on it, so it’s better to get them involved early.

      Otherwise, if you’re planning on paying for it yourself, you know they won’t reimburse you, and you are planning on doing it on your own time, then I think it’s fine to wait until you’re accepted.

      1. DefinitelyWorking*

        Thanks for the reply. I wasn’t planning on it, but your questions made me realize that my office might be willing to give me some work hours to do coursework. My company provides some PD funds, but not enough to cover more than one credit hour per year, and that’s if I don’t do any other PD activities. But they have mentioned being supportive of PD activities, so it’s possible they could be willing to help out more.

    2. Green Goose*

      Pre-Covid our company was pretty generous about paying for professional development and I’m the type to try to do as much as possible so this is what I would do:
      I’m come to my boss with the request but also have a breakdown of the price and how the PD would help my role. I did this mostly with conferences or workshops, the only certificate I did ended up being grant funded.

      Focus on the part that relates to your current role, and leave out the part about future work, unless if that is something you and your boss are planning on having you do at your current company. Also, if there are other versions of this same certificate that are more expensive, I’d show those as well to display that you’ve found a good deal on the one that you are suggesting.

      If your company normally pays for people to go to conferences or workshops, you could explain that since the certificate is online you would not need travel costs ($x) or accommodation costs ($y) or food stipend ($z).

    3. Policy Wonk*

      To me, the biggest question is whether you are willing to pay for the training out of pocket. If you want your employer to pay for it, you need to bring it up before you sign up. If you sign up without that approval, and they say no, you will have to eat the cost. The other question is whether you are seeking to do this on company time. If not, not an issue. If so, you likely will need to justify how/why the training is a valuable use of their time. I would try to anticipate what questions they might ask, and be prepared when you go in to raise this.

      I work for the government, so there is a form and procedure for about everything. But even there, I would get an informal buy-in from my boss before proceeding with paperwork. And if your company does have a procedure for this, your boss (if you have a good one) will likely know about it and be able to give you advice. Good luck!

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I’d start with your HR first as some companies already have a tuition reimbursement plan. They can tell you what qualifies and what doesn’t.
      In some cases the company may only reimburse for degree programs.

      If the skill is needed on the job for professional development, you may still be reimbursed, but it may have to get additional approval from your manager because of the department budget.

      Good luck!

    5. allathian*

      I’m currently getting a PD certificate. I work for the government in the Nordics and my employer is very supportive of PD. Because my certificate is directly related to the work I do, I’m allowed to do some of it on company time and use my work computer for coursework. We had 6 seminar days with mandatory presence and I was allowed to do those on company time. The application process involved a four-hour test and an interview. My employer is also paying for the course, although it’s not very expensive (3 digit sum) as these things go. I had discussed taking this training with my boss during our annual performance evaluation and professional development discussion, so it was just a matter of giving her a heads-up that I was going to apply and to confirm the terms.
      A former colleague who wanted to switch careers was allowed to take as much unpaid leave as her degree required for mandatory lectures and internships, although she also used all of her vacation days for the same purpose.
      My boss is doing a course on management training, on more or less the same terms that apply to me. Her course is more expensive, though, so she’ll have to reimburse our employer if she leaves within a certain time after completing the course.

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

      In my experience you can get time (out of your normal hours) or money for a certificate like this but not both, so think about which one you’d rather pursue. You pay for it and the company allows you X hours a week (override-able of course in case of an emergency) or they pay but you do it on your own time?

      I used to be opposed to this but then realized there’s more “upside” for the employee than the employer, in most cases.

  37. Roads Lady*

    Been interviewing. Because of the times, many of these were online interviews. One series of interviews were unmitigated disaster of fates and gremlins, but apparently they loved me anyway and offered me the job.

    The job won’t start until mid-August. This is roughly 7 weeks after my baby is due. That’s right, I interviewed heavily pregnant and no one knew because online.

    I’m in the US and am very well aware of pregnancy discrimination laws and such, but I still feel weirdly deceptive about this.

    It’s a brand-new site and staff, so this brand-new team has been introducing each other over email. Do I announce in my personal bio “Mom to two girls with one on the way?!”

    Managers, even knowing you can’t not hire someone over pregnancy, would you prefer this detail be mentioned?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Just to clarify, you are planning to start 7 weeks after baby go day in the mid-August timeframe, is that correct?

      1. Roads Lady*

        Yes. Not ideal, but since it’s a new place and I really can’t claim leave at that point.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Thanks, I don’t think in this case it matters one way or another what you say or don’t say. The safest answer is to not say anything until after your start date.

    2. fposte*

      I think you do whatever you want. It’s not deceptive not to tell people you’re pregnant, so don’t let that drive your choice, but it’s also fine to say that you are. If nobody else is mentioning kids in these intros, though, I wouldn’t break the pattern.

    3. Another JD*

      Now is the time to mention it to your boss and negotiate leave. If the baby is 2 weeks late, will you be recovered enough to start work 5 weeks later? Definitely don’t tell management by putting it in your bio.

      1. Reba*

        I thought of this too — giving a little heads up to the boss, as the date gets closer, in case you need more time to recover. I wouldn’t put it in an email to everyone. Then again, I’m pretty private.

  38. Carrie Cherry*

    What’s the best way for me to tell my company, my manager and the other 3 people who work on the same as me that I don’t want to be “checked on”, “supported” or asked if I am “okay” or “need anything” and that they should not have bothered emailing me? I am exhausted enough without hearing from them and I really don’t want to hear from them at all. I don’t want to go all scorched earth and burn the bridge because I need a job and a reference. They were all fine before this so I don’t know why things needed to change and be so annoying now. Any opinions are welcome on getting my point across without burning any bridges.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      If it’s just an email, go with “I’m good, thanks!” Stick a happy face in there. Think of it as a canned response.

      It’s annoying, but it will satisfy their inquiry. For some of them, them asking is probably part of their job. Not answering is not really an option, so you might as well make responding as painless as possible.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      For me, it helps to assume positive intent for folks like this, that they mean well and are demonstrating compassion. I do check in regularly with my team because I care about them and want to be available if they’re having issues or need help or whatever it is they need at the time. I’d hate to think one of them was silently seething about it, as that runs exactly counter to what I’m trying to do. Now, if someone said, “I appreciate your compassion, but it’s stressful for me to get these check-ins. Can you just assume I’m okay unless I say otherwise? I’m just trying to manage stress during this time.” I would be completely respectful of that.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      And you see, this is the reason that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Some people really want that support and are hurt when it doesn’t come. Other people, like yourself, are understandably mentally exhausted and just want to do what they need to do while at work without being reminded of the current state of affairs. I would give these people the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re coming from a good place (not saying you aren’t doing that, I just can’t tell) and indeed say thank you for the concern and that you are enjoying work as an opportunity/distraction from the state of affairs and will reach out if you need anything. Throwing in that work is a distraction for you will likely get your point across that you just want to focus on work while you’re there.

    4. kt*

      Yeah, canned response, and you don’t have to really mean it, i.e., any of the following can actually be lies but if it makes these people go away then whaterver. Sample scripts:

      “Thanks for checking in. It is a difficult time, and work is a good distraction.”
      “Thanks for the offer of support. I’ve got good support systems outside of work and will be relying on those. Glad to have work as a distraction.”
      “It’s so kind of you to think of me. Fortunately I’ve got other support systems and welcome the chance not to think about it at work.”
      “Bless your heart, you shouldn’t have. Don’t worry about me; I’m glad to put it aside when I’m at work.”
      “I’ll let you know if you can do anything to help.”

  39. Delta Delta*

    I ran into a former coworker from a former very toxic job yesterday. She told me the following:

    Old Manager initially believed COVID was a complete hoax and was forcing everyone to go to work, even despite the governor’s stay-home order. Old Manager and Other Manager cannot agree on any policy about anything, and the employees have no idea what they’re supposed to do on any given day. Old Manager has, every day of the pandemic, gone to the office and works from about 6 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., and harasses employees who don’t do the same (this is an office job and absolutely does not require hours like that).

    What a delight.

  40. ainnnymouse*

    Right after I asked my question the next day two of my coworkers did this. Their shift started and one of them saw me doing as task and if you are familiar with Seinfeld they sidled me. The supervisor tried to be diplomatic. Then I was stuck sharing this one person task with the guy. Which was annoying and took longer. I would have gladly left to go home. Where there were too many people my old supervisor would make me leave.
    The restaurant is small. There is not a lot of space. They tried marking off for social distancing for the workers but nobody obeys it since we are cramped for space. There is this one task that is done occasionally that takes up a lot of space when it is done so there is not a lot of space for the other coworkers to do any tasks.
    I asked somebody else for advice about this and they said those coworkers just want to show they are eager to work. I try not to be so eager at work because at my last job they punished people who worked too hard and rewarded the lazy. I have a fear of being punished for working too hard. Because hard, invaluable workers in my experience are taken advantage of.
    What would be a good solution besides giving them Tic Tacs?

    1. WellRed*

      Just as an FYI, this “at my last job they punished people who worked too hard and rewarded the lazy. I have a fear of being punished for working too hard. ‘” is not a normal fact of life at decent workplaces.
      I love Seinfeld, but the only Tic Tac reference I can recall doesn’t fit this situation that I can see?

    2. valentine*

      You’re going to have to speak up and/or walk out.

      If you mean you posted last week, why not try the advice?

      If you’ve told your supervisor or they know working solo is more efficient and they say you can’t hurt people’s feelings, what if you say you’re happy to wrap up for the day so Coworker can get more experience?

  41. Concerned Academic Librarian*

    Any other academic librarians getting really nervous about reopening? All the signs that this is going to be a mess are there. Our budget is being slashed to ribbons so I’m certain there will be no money for extra cleaning. Our administrators who haven’t staffed a service point in over a decade are saying things like, “We know students will be really good at social distancing because they are concerned as we are.”

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Ooof. Very much yes. We had a meeting this week that was basically “we don’t want to police any students so we’ll put up signs and hope they follow them” and I am… not handling it well.

    2. Tricksieses*

      yes…there’s SO much assuming students will pay attention to social distancing on our campus! It’s nerve-wracking.

    3. Sara without an H*

      We already know from our own experience this spring that the students WON’T social distance. (Even the nursing students, who should know better.) Not sure how High Command is going to handle it, but they know it’s a problem.

      Meanwhile, we’re getting plexiglass panels installed at service points, and cleaning everything that doesn’t move.

    4. nnn*

      Worker in an academic library, but not in any of the public-facing buildings. Bracing for staff cuts in positions that professionally are not going to be easy to absorb and personally hurt, and also worried about the fiscal dominoes for next year since that puts even more positions in danger.

      However, this thread reminds me to count the blessing that the admin is taking Covid very seriously. Wrt public areas, there is training for a group of public area staff on handling patrons violating visibly posted library requirements for social distancing, face coverings, etc. But – presumably to avoid confusion, escalation, or burn-out – they’ll rotate so it’s only one staff person each day who is “on call” to talk directly to patrons and who can request security removal for continued violations past a warning (which is itself past explaining the requirements and asking they be followed). Public postings will have the name and contact info of the person on call, but patrons can approach other staff to contact the on call person as well.

      It sounds like they will also install plexiglass shields, and there’s a concerted group effort as we wfh to sew masks for employees.

      We will see what happens.

    5. LibbyG*

      I’m higher ed faculty, and in addition to budget cuts and disproportionate risks, I’m worried about other faculty making all sorts of completely unreasonable requests to librarians and then being jerks about it.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        My friend in library admin in an academic library has had very unreasonable requests from faculty starting with day 1. Mostly insisting the library open bc they need the physical book, not the e-version that the library purchased just for them.

      2. academic librarian*

        as the person these requests often come to—THANK YOU. sometimes it can be hard for us to tell faculty they’re being jerks, so i’m always happy to see awesome faculty setting a good example for them :)

    6. anonnonaanon*

      Yes. We are getting a lot of contradictory and in some cases just somewhat silly information about reopening. Oddly, not much of it seems focused on actual students and seems based in the assumption that students *won’t* be coming into the building. It’s all just… puzzling. I have an outward facing position (reference/instruction) and most of what I would be doing f2f would be unsafe. I can teach/do reference online from home — it’s not my personal preference (I miss the classroom!) but it’s safer for everyone.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      Not a librarian, but my system has decided to remain virtual through December. I am so glad.

      1. academic librarian*

        same here, admin wants to save on overhead. we were asked to ‘brainstorm for different re-opening procedures’ before we knew what fall classes would look like and one of our paralibrarians finally said ‘gosh, it sounds like it would cost the university so much money to have us re-open! in this fiscal climate? seems like it makes more sense to just stay closed.’ 100% nailed it–i’m hoping more upper admin in other schools realize the same when they see how much plexiglass barriers cost.

        1. anonnonaanon*

          Yes! My admin seems focused on coming up with all kinds of complicated physical schemes, like it’s more important to be open than to be practical?

  42. Nonprofit Hell Occupant*

    I’ve been working at a small nonprofit for 7 years and my job duties have evolved so much I don’t have a functional job description that matches anything close to what I actually do. I work specifically in our fundraising events programs so overall COVID is really changing everything we’re doing as all my in-person events are going virtual.

    I have been responsible for editing website and building emails for years, even though my coding knowledge is very limited. I’ve always been able to struggle my way through it and in the past there have been other staff members training in those areas I could reference with questions. Those other staff members are no longer available for questions and I’m still being asked to do new things we’ve never done. This is on top of additional graphic design requests (again, I have the software, but really no training on using it) for large scale print materials.

    I’m frankly at a breaking point where in a normal world I’d just walk away from the job with no notice at this point. If I were to quit I assume there would be no possibility of unemployment, but I know there are some exceptions if the job has fundamentally changed (which I feel it has, but not sure I could provide it with written documentation). I’m California based, but my company is based in Virginia. Does anyone have any knowledge or recommendations for resources I could look into about whether or not I’d be eligible for unemployment?

    1. MissBliss*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. I am also in fundraising (not events) and my job has also changed quite a bit due to COVID. This is not the answer to the question you asked (I’m sorry, I don’t know!) but I wanted to offer it in case it was helpful. I am a self-taught designer and have been using my free time to brush up on things using Learning. I can access for free through my local public library. If you have a specific project, like an annual report, there are great walk-throughs for the entire process, but there are also shorter videos for specific “How do I…” type-questions, and basics. If you find yourself needing to say in this job, this resource may make it less stressful and more rewarding.

      1. Nonprofit Hell Occupant*

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it. I have used Lynda before, but have found some of the lessons not helpful in actually completing the tasks I was asked for. Maybe everyone I work with just thinks I’m smarter than I am or they got used to having actual experts in those fields on staff and now that they’re not it’s a problem. At it’s core, I feel what I’m being asked to do is unreasonable and saying “I don’t know how to do that” doesn’t appear to be a valid answer here. They just make promises to internal parties like “XX will have that to you in the next 3 hours”….when it’s something I’ve literally never done before. Which overall affects my entire motivation to even try to learn new things because I’ll never be fast enough or good enough to do what they promise.

        1. MissBliss*

          Telling someone that anyone else will having something done in X hours, without having heard that from the person to do it how long it takes, is incredibly true. Even if my advice was going to be helpful to you, those tutorials often take THEMSELVES 2.5+ hours, so you could barely even watch them– let alone do what they instruct. If you can, I would remind them at each opportunity “I don’t know how to do that. I can try and learn, but I make no guarantees, and I don’t know how long it will take.”

          I’m sorry. I hope you can find something more practical soon.

      2. aiya*

        not OP, but I had no idea local libraries offered free access to Lynda classes! My job is literally right next to the library and I had no idea this was a free resource. Thank you so much!

    2. Colette*

      Have you had a conversation with your manager? Because quitting without doing that isn’t a great idea.

      Some possible things you might want to say:
      “I’m now editing the website, doing graphic design, and building emails. I don’t have the background to do this well, and I’m very stressed about the amount of learning I have to do for each request. Is it possible that I could go back to focusing on X, Y, and Z?”
      “I’ve been asked to do A, B, and C, but looking at my workload, I won’t be able to do all of them. I’m planning to take care of B and C but will not be able to look at A until date X. If A is high priority, would you like me to do B or C, since I won’t be able to do both?”
      “I don’t have any expertise in A. Would it be possible to hire a contractor/outsource it?”

      1. Nonprofit Hell Occupant*

        Sadly I’ve had the conversation more than once with my manager and also with the head of my department. I feel like they say the right things and understand, but then it becomes them saying “well take lunch and calm down” and then I’ll come back from lunch and they’re asking for the status of a project I just complained about.

        And for clarity we did use to have a contractor that I could go to with these issues, but that was cut due to budget and I was told if we used them “they’d have to lay off full time staff to cover the costs.”

        I do think everyone in my department is on edge, which is not helping, but overall it’s been like this the entire time I worked here. Sadly, I think it’s just time to leave…which is difficult due to covid and the economic downturn.

        Thank you for your replies and making me feel like I’m not just a crazy person for thinking some of this is unreasonable.

  43. The Tenth Doctor*

    Are any other AAM readers workplaces handling the current events (racism issue) badly? Because woo boy mine sure is and I am actually floored at how badly they botched it. The email they sent out to all employees was especially tone deaf and out there and given other circumstances I have a feeling it is only going to get worse.

      1. The Tenth Doctor*

        For clarity and honesty, I’m a white male. I find what they are doing upsetting but I only imagine how my black coworkers feel.

    1. merp*

      I work for a library/archive which issued a statement pretending we’ve been some sort of bastion of equality for a century. This is….. not true. It’s in the records, I’ve seen it. They are relying on one former director who does, to be fair, sound like they were ahead of their time. But their successors rolled a lot of that back and it’s a lie to pretend otherwise. I’m so disappointed because with a bit more effort, we could have had a really interesting, nuanced discussion about our history as an institution! Librarianship is something like 90% white to this day! But no, I guess we’re going to pretend like we’re heroes.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I can say that a former workplace of mine published a nice looking warm and fuzzy “we need to do better” letter on all things social.

      Oh, the thoughts I had when I read that letter. (I’m caucasian, female cis. But things I witnessed? Oh.boy.howdy. And it starts from almost the HIGHEST level and trickles down in various places. Mileage absolutely varies.)

    3. Kate H*

      -raises hand- Mine could be *worse* but it’s still tone deaf and weird amount of emphasis on being approving of peaceful protests. The email I received today referenced protestors “supporting communities of color” like we don’t have people of color in our organization and proceeded to become a generic “our people are our strength” email. I was actually grateful when our GM didn’t say anything about it in his biweekly meeting because it would’ve been awkward and tone deaf at best and actively racist at worst.

    4. MissBookworm*

      It’s been crickets from my company and our parent company. Not a single word has been said… which is a shock to be honest; I don’t know the breakdown at our parent company or the other subsidiaries, but in my office 12 of the 30 people are POC.

      I might complain about how my company doesn’t support us workload-wise, but when it comes to racism and other issues of equality they’re much better than this. They fired someone a few years ago for because he had made racist comments toward one of my coworkers; the email they sent after laid down the law quite spectacularly. It’s just so strange that they’d say nothing now.

  44. I got nuthin*

    Anon in this cuz I’m pretty vocal on this at my company.

    I’m a cis white, middle aged woman who creates public facing documents to train clients on how to pour tea. The standard which has been directed down to me, specifically three weeks ago is something I want to push against.

    in naming our fictitious customers, and they do need first and last names, we have to use dead presidents, ‘and their wives, if we must’.

    Obviously not good. I hope that this is now the time to change that to reflect the diverse names that encompass all of our real client base. Our images of fictitious clients and customers is racially, economically, and age diverse, as is our tea-pouring examples.

    Thoughts on wording considering I’ve pushed this before and got nowhere?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish I had some advice for you. You’ve brought it up in the past and gotten nowhere. I suspect you’ll get nowhere again, but it can’t hurt to try again. Has leadership changed at all in other ways?

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      What’s stopping you from using dead presidents and their wives from other countries? South America, Africa, Asia…..unless they’ve specified U.S. presidents in their directive, I see no issue with throwing in folks from other countries….and maybe the examples come with some fun facts about that leader who will likely be lesser known to most U.S. residents.

      1. Kettricken Farseer*

        This! And then pick women presidents/prime ministers from other countries! Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, etc etc etc

    3. DrTheLiz*

      Right now I’d be really, *really* tempted to be snide and say “I just don’t see ‘Millard Filmore’ as a name our customers would relate to – how about instead we use the names of PoC who’ve been murdered by police?”, just to really shove home how weird they’re being. But it’s not my job!

    4. Mid*

      Why not try to use musicians, or artists, or celebrities? Famous activists maybe? Or ask to use a random name generator (fantasy name generator . Com has SO MANY options with first and last names, gender neutral names, etc.)

      I also like the idea of using people murdered by police, but that’s going to fly like a lead balloon.

      1. Lyudie*

        I’ve always been told that legal frowns on the use of real people’s names in our content…we don’t want a lawsuit (I know that a CEO of another company discovered his name was used–not intentionally–in one of our documents about collections and bad debt years ago and was very displeased). I’d recommend sticking with really generic names (I am a fan of last names like Smith and Jones and Johnson with a variety of first names).

          1. Lyudie*

            LOL! Indeed, and we wouldn’t be allowed to use them either! Unfortunately the testers and developers love filling test databases with Hobbits and rappers, much to my ongoing horror.

        1. pieska*

          Smith, Jones, and Johnson aren’t actually generic. They’re ethnic names, British to be specific. You might want to think about the implications of forcing British pseudonyms onto a diverse client base.

          1. Lyudie*

            Perhaps “common” is a better term than generic, you are totally right. And while they aren’t common names in other places, my company operates in a fairly limited number of countries where they likely are fairly common.

    5. I got nuthin*

      I do tend to go with William Harrison (died a month into office) and Millard Fillmore (cuz the NAME!) but have seriously gone through and excluded anyone before 1950’s as too recent, the overused ones, and those who were pro slavery and pro Native American genocide.

      I need better language on WHY such a small range is bad. It’s not up to me, but convincing others in leadership. In the past, saying they names being used were old white men; most of our tea drinking clients are not old, not necessarily white, or men.’ Hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        How about a simple statement that the names do not reflect the current customer base and may turn them off, causing them to go to your competitors? Backed up by stats on who is buying your product. Maybe go to the Social Security Administration list of top names for babies born in the past year to show demographic change.

      2. LDF*

        Maybe make a business case for it? You could start with the same “these names don’t represent our customer base…” but since that alone doesn’t cut it, add “… which means they are more likely to switch to Coffee Inc products who use inclusive names” or whatever is true in your case. They should care even without dollar signs involved but since they don’t, involving dollar signs could help.

      3. kt*

        A business case would be best, but my immature side just wants you to have pictures and have a tall Asian-American lady be Millard, someone who looks like Iman be called Herbert, some middle-aged white guy named Dolly, and so forth. You definitely need a Rutherford in there… maybe someone who loves glitter…

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Use presidents and other historical figures to add some flavor and relevancy.

      Otherwise, I’d probably be a bit of a smartass on this and lean very heavily on the wives to illustrate how it’s not ideal for your product.

      Caroline Cleveland
      Ida McKinley
      Lucy Hayes
      Julia Grant
      Florence Harding

      In other words, pick First Ladies and not their corresponding President/Husband.

    7. Koala dreams*

      One argument is that it’s confusing with such a small range of names, another argument is that it’s too political and might be off-putting for clients that don’t agree with the politics of whatever president is chosen. Although it’s depressing that diversity isn’t enough of an argument for your company.

    8. Karen Kaczynski*

      Isn’t this how Marilyn Manson and the members of his band picked their stage names?

  45. DrTheLiz*

    Looks like I’m back to the office 80% after the 15th (I work in a three-person room, we can have 2 people there at a time and one of us is in 3 days a week). I’m not sure how I feel about this, but… it’s going to happen, I guess.

  46. LetsTalkAboutRace*

    I am extremely disappointed in my company’s complete lack of response to the BLM upheaval. Although our industry is kind of conservative, we are located just outside a major metro that’s had nonstop protests and multiple reports of police brutality. Our company touts itself as “global” as we have multiple offices across continents, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have any black employees. No one has said anything, internally or externally.

    To be fair, I don’t want an empty gesture. I think that might be worse than saying nothing. But maybe some kind of communication to employees that the company as a whole stands against racism, with some action items about making the office more inclusive? Is that crazy to ask?

    I want to say something but I don’t know what or to who. At this point I am willing to lose my job for this (or at least end up on someone’s shit list), but I also want to make sure I do it in a way that is helpful and thoughtful.

    1. Anon for this*

      My workplace is just pretending like nothing happened. I said something to my supervisor and was told it’s just “how management is.”

      1. Anon for this*

        By the way, I told them that the silence of management on this issue was deafening. I was also told they are “working on a statement” to the public, but they say nothing to their own employees?

      2. LetsTalkAboutRace*

        Sounds like we work at the same place, but we probably don’t. There are many, many companies around the country with this approach.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Is that crazy to ask?

      Yes, if they truly don’t care about racism, which…they more than likely don’t. If they did, they wouldn’t perpetuate it by having virtually no black people working for them. Performative acts of solidarity is insulting, so you should be glad they haven’t said anything that they don’t actually mean.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I agree. How tone deaf would it sound for your company to put out a “statement of support” for a community they don’t even appear to hire from?
        At best they could revisit their recruiting and hiring processes to make an actual difference in the company inclusiveness, but it’ll ring false if they just make words to that effect and then maintain the status quo.

  47. MistOrMister*

    Any suggestions for dealing with a micromanager? I work with someone who feels the need to give instructions even on very basic things that I definitely do not need instruction on after 10+ years of office work (i.e. the best way to add periods to list numbering in a word document). They also insist on being copied on a lot of emails for very basic things that really they shouldn’t be wasting time tracking. Alison suggested in one letter that you give such people more information that they could possibly want as a means to reassure them. However, the more I follow this person’s requests, the more they are coming up with additional things they want to track. I work best when I am given assignments and left to do them and seek out help if needed, so I am feeling absolutely stifled and completely mentally exhausted.

    1. Kettricken Farseer*

      Is this a new manager to you? She may be doing it as a way to get insight into everything until she feels comfortable she has a good handle on things.

      1. MistOrMister*

        This is someone I am new to working with, but who has had this issue with everyone who has worked with them. They are not my manager – I provide admin support for them but have my own boss. I don’t know how long they’ve been on their role, but it’s years and years so this definitely is not growing pains.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Can you talk to your manager about this? I’ve found that helpful when someone else wants me to do work that I’m not sure I should do, and all of this extra stuff seems like it might fall in that area.

          1. MistOrMister*

            I’ve tried. The support i just not there. They want to keep this person happy, seemingly at any cost to the mental health of whoever works with them. Boss explains away the micromanaging by saying they’ve talked with the person who has explained that they aren’t a micromanager. Therefore, they are not micromanaging me….because they say that aren’t. So yeah, there we are.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      It would depend on your relationship with this person. If you were comfortable talking to the manager honestly, then I would try. Something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been giving me more and more instructions on basic tasks lately. Has there been a problem with the quality of my work that I am not aware of? I am happy to make any changes to my work if there is an issue- but if there aren’t any problems, is it it possible to reduce the things that require tracking? I will of course ask for help if it is needed, but right now all of these additional requests is distracting me from my normal workload.”

      If you aren’t comfortable, continue data dumping on them.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’m not comfortable talking to them frankly. When I’ve tried bringing things up I always get shut down immediately. They claim not to have a probalem with my work, but insist they need all of this information and I have been told that’s just the way it will be. It’s incredibly demoalizing.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Then I would bring it up with your boss and frame it as, “This is seriously impacting my other work, how should I be prioritizing my work load?” Let your manager do some managing to find out if it is all really necessary. If your boss is the one shutting you down, then your boss is a jerk and you deserve better.

          1. MistOrMister*

            Yep, tried that. Boss and grandboss said people on that leve are the rainmakers and we have to do what they want. Things boss had previously agreed would not be appropriate for me to have to do, mow that grandboss has been roped in, they have told me to “incorporate them into my process”. I wish I could not let this bother me, but it feels like a disaster of a situation.

    3. PS*

      Watch the LEGO Movie. There is a profound reason the villain is a controlling perfectionist and his minions are evil robots called micromanagers. Then put a few LEGO people on your desk or in your desk drawer as a reminder that it is HIM, not you. If your company chooses to permit this poor behavior and fails to adequately screen you from its effects, I urge you to begin an self-protection plan and, if needed, an exit plan. I realize the economy is a difficult mess now, but workplace abuse will undermine your confidence, affect how others see you, and this boss – who you will never be able to satisfy – will not help you advance in your career and may even run down your reputation as you strive to meet his petty perfectionistic standards.
      The stress may possibily spill over into your personal life. A company that effectively says “he’s just like that” is complicit in the gaslighting and abuse. Unless you have worked under the control of this kind of boss, you can’t truly understand the hell of it.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I brought up how this will impact my ability to advance with my bosses and was basically ignored. I’ve put in for a transfer to a couple of internal jobs as well, and am waiting to hear something. Also, am saving emails and passing along to boss and grandboss as “FYI -I want this on record so when/if this person complains you have the facts”. But really, who wants to have to do all that stuff? Not me!! I will look into the lego movie and getting a little army of legos for my work area :)

  48. Hard working squirrel*

    How do companies usually “get out” of salary freezes?
    My organization froze salaries in early March due to Covid. Usually we get raises on our “work anniversary”, so people reaching their work anniversaries before got raises as usual, while others did not. I can’t imagine they can “make up” the difference in earnings when the freeze ends. But doesn’t that create a weird difference where some people might now be “ahead” of their peers in earnings, and that might impact future raises as well?
    For people who went through this before, how did your org handle it?

    1. Nonprofit Hell Occupant*

      I feel like it might be best to raise the issue and ask how they plan to handle it (I feel there’s some many adjustments that it seems like a lot of places don’t have policies on it). My husband was in this situation also at the end of March this year and we both believe they handled it poorly…basically he got told they will reassess salary at his annual review next March. And like your org people who had annual reviews before him got raises prior to the freeze.

    2. Fikly*

      They don’t, until they lose more people than they want, or are unable to hire, because their competitors are paying a living wage.

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        This isn’t really directed at you specifically, but I see a LOOOOT of comments on here automatically equating a pay reduction or raise freeze or any other payroll-related austerity measures as not paying a “living wage.” We have no idea whether Hard Working Squirrel is getting paid a “living wage” before or after the pay freeze.

        Plenty of companies are tightening their belts, not due to evil capitalist owners cackling and rubbing their hands together because they’re delighted to have an excuse to inflict economic pain on their employees, but because their revenue and credit lines have tanked or evaporated and its their only viable option to remain in operation and hope to weather the coming months of hard recovery. They can still be within the (often wide) range of fair wages/market value for a particular person regardless. And, lots of people would prefer to temporarily dip below the threshold if the alternative is losing their jobs.

        — just got a 20% indefinite pay cut but am still being paid [more than] a “living wage”

        1. Fikly*

          Well, before covid, many many companies were not paying a living wage, so it’s not an uninformed guess to think that pay freezes (which mean pay is now lagging even more behind inflation) and pay cuts mean reaching a living wage is unlikely.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      My company also froze salaries increases in March and said if they were being overly conservative and didn’t take the hit to our cash reserves and revenue as they anticipated, they’d give everyone their money at that point, which I would imagine would be next year after fourth quarter numbers are in.

    4. Cedrus Libani*

      My company is ending its freeze / pay cut soon. If you were recommended for a raise during the freeze, it goes into effect automatically once the freeze is over, but there is no retroactive pay-back. On the plus side, the pay cut was based on a percentage of your salary on date of freeze, so you didn’t get a bigger bite because you got a raise.

      There’s a general, unofficial agreement that the people directly impacted by this situation are going to get a hell of a bonus. (Among other things, the company makes COVID-19 tests; those people have been working double shifts since mid-January.) That money’s coming from somewhere – probably from the bonuses of everyone else. But they deserve it, so the rest of us aren’t going to whine.

  49. Miss Catherine Morland*

    Hi all, I’m interviewing for a promotion, and I was wondering what your thoughts were on asking who would be on my interview team. I have served on several interview teams for hiring at my level, but have never interviewed for a promotion before. Would this come across as unfair? I would just really like to mentally prepare in case my grandboss, great-grandboss, etc, are there.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t see any problem with saying something like, “who do you anticipate I will be interviewing with?”

  50. Free Meerkats*

    In the good news column, I just got a new position approved. So we’ll be hiring in the midst of a pandemic.

    1. Jules the First*

      Welcome to the club!

      Hope yours turns out to be less of a purple unicorn than mine…

    2. Chaordic One*

      I would imagine that you should have some good candidates to choose from. Good luck!

  51. Eillah*

    I am having so much trouble trying to figure out if/how I can get my money back to me from my Wage Works commuter card, does anyone have any advice?

    1. voluptuousfire*

      I don’t think you can. My company was acquired by another at the end of 2019 and I had a very healthy amount left on my commuter benefits debit card. Since that account was being closed as of 12/31, I wasn’t able to get the money back. I think it was a tax thing. I ended up using about half of it by buying a few hundred dollars worth of Metrocards and taking rideshares to and from work. My account covered using the pool option of the rideshare. I was only able to use half of my balance before 12/31, which stinks. I could have used that money.

      1. WellRed*

        I would think you should have been able to roll that to something else. Or, the company should have made you whole in some way. Again, I don’t know if commuter benefits work differently then health.

    2. WellRed*

      I use wage works for my flexible spending account. I know I can’t get money back (not likely to be an issues= anyway) but I’d find something to spend it on if I was going to lose it (extra pair of eyeglasses or dental cleaning). I’ve never heard of the commuter benefit card. Might you be able to do something similar?

  52. Lost in the Forest*

    Have many of you used a career coach? I’m in a conversation with one, virtually. Someone in another forum told me that I could probably use one, since I’ve been in a dead-end, hopeless job I dislike for nearly a decade. So the first thing the coach does is send me a list of values. Similar to “What Color is Your Parachute?” type stuff. I wrote back and said, I live in a depressed area with very few jobs. I am a creative, I know what my values are, and I want to know what good it will actually do to come up with some sort of “do what you love” type job when there just aren’t any around here, and I’m not moving (just bought a house). She wants to set up Zoom or phone time so she can explain what coaching is and isn’t. I know I’m very depressed–I’ve given up on trying to find “that one true career” and just want to make it through to retirement. That is, until the pandemic hit. Now I’m reconsidering. This coach’s background was teaching before she joined that federation of coaches. OK, this is long…what do you think? Is it worth it?

    1. fposte*

      Hard to say from here. Can you articulate (here or, more importantly, to her) what you *did* hope to get from career coaching and not what you didn’t?

      1. Lost in the Forest*

        I’m hoping I can find something better than being a glorified clerk. I graduated summa in English, was a reporter and PR/marketing person, for over 10 years. Now I’m in a para professional job that requires only a high school diploma and a monkey could do it. I want to know what kind of actual, real jobs are out there, that can actually, practically be achieved, and which ones I might actually be able to do. I mean, I’m a very good mixed media artist, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be able to sell my artwork. Hope that makes more sense.

        1. Nesprin*

          My college’s alumni assoc had a list of alums who’d give informational interviews- they were really useful to me when I was in a can’t figure out what to do with my life funk. We talked about what they did, how they got there, and what they wanted to do next. It seems to me this sort of thing might be more useful than a coach.

          1. Lost in the Forest*

            Good idea. I’m a bit uncomfortable only because I work for my alma mater and I don’t want people associated with it to know how unhappy I am. Also, I am 56 years old…I wonder if this is a bit late to be trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. :(

            1. fposte*

              Looking for new work doesn’t have to mean you’re miserable. People look for new work all the time; it’s not automatically a statement. I think the key is to stay matter of fact. And it can just be about finding a better job; it doesn’t have to be about finding a vocation.

              If it *is* at heart about wanting a vocation, the What Color Is Your Parachute stuff may actually be useful after all. But it seems like maybe you’re feeling stuck and bitter in a way that’s making it hard for you to identify what you really want, beyond not to be stuck. If you found a better job but it didn’t leave time for your art, would that be acceptable? Are you okay for retirement on your current track or are finances a big driver for this decision? Do you regret having stayed in your current job, and if so is there a way of making peace with the decision you made there so that changes can be evaluated on their positive merits and not just as escapes?

        2. fposte*

          I think that sounds like useful information for her. I’m especially focusing on the sentence “I want to know what kind of actual, real jobs are out there, that can actually, practically be achieved.” So maybe you say to her something like “I’d like to find a job wherein I make $X more than I do and that I don’t have to move for. I’m not familiar with some job-title nomenclature, so I don’t know what jobs my background might qualify me for among the fairly limited options in my area. I’m not interested in changing positions to take less money, and I’m more interested in higher income and being challenged than I am in loving the job. What would you be able to do to help me?” (Obviously I’m guessing at some elements and you should tweak them to fit you.) It may be that she’s much more an early career coach and this isn’t up her alley, but it might also be that if you point her clearly at her task she could be helpful.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          My experience with career coaching was that it was more about self-discovery and learning what your top strengths, skills, and things you enjoy are. You could come out of that knowing you’re analytical, you are good at Excel, and you love animals. You could decide you want to be trained in bookkeeping and pursue that independently with animal-related small businesses, or you might decide one-on-one with animals is most important and start pet-sitting. I think that’s about where you end up with a career coach. They don’t know every field and how to get into it. For that, I think you do need to know yourself–you might already, though. Then it’s just talking to people, like others have said. It doesn’t have to be alumni. Use the people you know to get introduced to people working in fields you’re interested in. They are the only ones who can tell you how to get into it, and if it’s possible for you.

    2. Qwerty*

      Your coach can’t help you if they don’t know you. A coach is going to tailor their advice to you specifically – what helps you won’t be the same as helping someone else and they need a lot more to go on besides “being a creative”. Think of sports coaching – the coach doesn’t just hand everyone the team a card with advice on it the first day. They watch everyone practice to learn their strength/weaknesses, decide the player is in the right position, and give advice according to which area the team member needs help in.

      What do you have to lose by having the phone call about what coaching is? You responded with a bit of hostility to the first exercise so your coach wants to talk, get on the same page, and literally answer your questions.

      1. Lost in the Forest*

        It’s going to be about $50 an hour (discounted). I guess you’re right–what have I got to lose?

    3. Filosofickle*

      Agree a conversation is worthwhile. It’s how you’ll find out if it’s worth it.

      I’ve had a few career coaches. It’s generally been more like counseling — exploring what matters to me, getting out of my own way, creating and being accountable to goals / action plans. As coaching tends to be, they asked a lot of questions, and I had to provide most of the answers. They didn’t offer tactical advice about specific career paths or how to go about getting a better job. I wonder if there is such a thing as a “job” coach out there for those who just need to get through?

      I definitely found them useful, esp for getting unstuck. Tho, TBH, I kept hiring life/career coaches (instead of a therapist) because I needed support and felt that making a better living had to come first before personal development. Coaching was also cheaper and shorter, a more accessible way to start. But in hindsight I would have progressed faster if I’d flipped it.

      1. Lost in the Forest*

        Interesting POV. I have also considered therapy; it’s not covered by my health plan, sadly.

        1. No Name Yet*

          Side note to this (I know nothing about career coaching, though I like fposte’s idea above) – you mentioned working for a college/university. Like Filosofickle mentioned, schools that have a graduate program in a counseling field (definitely clinical or counseling psychology, sometimes social work I think) will usually have a clinic that’s staffed by students that are supervised by licensed providers. My experience is that they’re sliding scale, and can be a way to get therapy when it’s not covered by insurance. (Insurance not covering therapy is an entire other rant, but…) Another thought is to contact whatever student health clinic the school has, and see if they have a referral list for local community or sliding scale clinics.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        +1 – aligns with my experience, should have refreshed before I posted above.

        I wanted to comment on your thoughts about the coach vs. therapist because I heard someone with a very large personal development-type business say something about this on a podcast just yesterday. Her take was that you should start with your inner goals first and work your way out. I won’t get it right, but something like working on yourself and your health first, relationships/family, then work. It made sense. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you’re building the rest of your life on an unstable foundation. (Sometimes, we just need to get a new job, of course!)

        1. Filosofickle*

          Absolutely. I was totally in denial about how much of my work stuff was actually personal stuff. And I truly thought I couldn’t afford a year on the couch (mostly time wise, but also the $$) before I could get to the “building my business and bringing in more income” part. I was trying to be practical. Ultimately, it took me a lot of extra years to get where I needed to be.

          It would help if therapy were accessible — it’s hard to find a good provider plus the time EVEN IF you have the money or insurance. My first one was a PhD student in a school-run clinic. That’s all I could do and I”m grateful that was an option.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I think it might be worthwhile to have a talk about what kind of coaching she offers and what kind of help you need to see if it matches. If it does, you can decide to try a limited number of sessions and evaluate where to go after that. If it doesn’t, well, too bad, but that happens with coaches.

      As for being depressed, I would recommend to look for help from health care professionals, such as a doctor or a therapist. Take care of your health, and don’t go to a career coach for medical treatment.

    5. blueberrydonut*

      Hey there, I’ve used a career coach, and it sounds like we have a few things in common (English degree, creative, career struggles/hated job, and depression). I feel you and I’m sorry.

      After several years of despairing in my hated IT support job, I contacted a local career coach not knowing what to expect. I found her after reading Martha Beck’s book, “Find Your Own North Star,” which I really liked. (This coach was listed on Martha’s website.)

      She sent me some pre-work, which was a questionnaire (“What were your favorite subjects in school?” “Are there any activities that you participate in that cause you to lose track of time?” “Rank these activities from enjoyable to not enjoyable”). I’m guessing that’s a fairly common way for the coach to get to know you. One of my favorite exercises was “an ideal day”–I still think about what I came up with. We also talked about in specific detail about my current job to mine for data–what works and doesn’t work. As the weeks went on, we progressed from dreaming/discovery talk to specific planning. (While doing all this, she also helped me feel a little better about the crap job I was in so I had a little more energy to work on a change.) She sent me summaries of each session and assigned homework each week. I felt listened to and supported. Outcome: I completed a technical writing certificate at night while still at the hated job, and got a job as a technical writer. (One of my first jobs was a remote contract position, although I’m an onsite FTE now.)

      I think this is where being a creative gets tough. For me, I came to terms with finding a job that was warmer to what I want to be doing, knowing it will never be that actual dream job. That is what we worked on–finding “warmer,” not “perfect.” I felt like that was realistic.

      For me, my dream job is writing short stories. It’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever make a career out of that, although I keep at it during my free time. Technical writing isn’t my dream job, but it’s warmer. My life is better just by being in a “warmer” job vs. one I despised. I’m in my 40s–it probably took me 15 years to get to this kind of acceptance. I’m really envious of people who want career x, and career x is something the world wants, needs, and will pay a living wage for. But, that’s just not my life. In my opinion, the “do what you love” advice doesn’t really work for creatives–we have to find other ways to get the bills paid while still having the time and energy to work on art and creative projects on the side. A few of us get lucky and eventually can make a full-time living of it. Maybe one day I’ll be Miranda July, but probably not.

      In summary, coaching got me to a better place and I felt it was worth it. I think it can be a bit like finding a therapist–you might have to try out a few to find one you connect with. I don’t know whether this helps, but I’m wishing you lots of luck.

      1. Lost in the Forest*

        Thank you so much. Your reply is very helpful! I totally understand where you’re coming from. And I like the thought of “warmer.”

  53. Kate H*

    How do people handle references when they’re just starting out?

    To elaborate, I’m in my first full-time position. I could probably ask my boss and grandboss, but I’m afraid of putting them in an awkward position when we have a very small team. I do have a coworker that I work with extensively that might be willing (she knows I’m thinking about looking as she’s also job hunting).

    Prior to this, I held a cobbled-together series of part-time jobs in university and the year after that have nothing to do with my current field. I’m not sure if any of my bosses there even remember who I am, let alone would be able to give a glowing reference.

    1. Venus*

      If the job is for new grads and your bosses are non-toxic then they should expect you to move on within 3-4 years and hopefully support you.

  54. Profit Before People*

    TWO people at my company live with someone sick with COVID and the boss/owner is still making them come in!!!! No one is allowed to work from home because some jobs can’t WFM and it “wouldn’t be fair” to let some people WFM and not others. (Really he’s just a controlling micromanager and can’t stand the thought.)
    I already knew my boss sucks and isn’t going to change. But the depths he will go to make a buck…
    Not really looking for advice, just needed to testify to what a glassbowl my boss is. And maybe prayers/good thoughts & energy for my job hunt. Wasn’t going great before The Plague hit. Going worse now. I feel trapped.

    1. Tricksieses*

      That sounds contrary to what CDC/all public health agencies say. Can you tip off local public health agency that your company is forcing folks to violate quarantine?

    2. tangerineRose*

      The boss clearly doesn’t understand that the fewer people work in the office, the safer the people who have to work in the office will be. Or maybe he doesn’t care.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I believe those people are required to quarentine. Check with the state and they should Check with their doctors.

    4. The Sky Isn't Falling*

      I’m sharing info I got at work about the new Covid law. I can’t guarantee it’s correct, but you need to do some checking.

      If they’ve been exposed they need to be quarantined.

      Employer will pay them 100% of pay for two weeks, then 50% for up to 10 more weeks. Government will give employer tax breaks to cover cost. This applies to companies of less than 500 employees.

      No matter how many employees your company has, you need to call your local health department ASAP and report this.

  55. Anon this Friday*

    Non clinical healthcare worker and I’m finally back at work (well from home) after a couple months off. Needless to say we are crazy busy dealing with CARES/FEMA as well as our other work. I’m salaried and everything is okay as this is just a busy time. HOWEVER, I’m also working on a team to plan an event in 2023. I cannot get it through to my coleads that while in the past I could answer questions at lunch and find 30 minutes to work on the event that isn’t the case now. Especially I can’t do a zoom call from 2-3:30 on Tuesday (more like 2-4:30). I have a job that I like and this would be a problem at a good time, and now is not a good time. Unfortunately the head is a woman in her early 50s that has basically unable to find a job to meet her desires for the past 5 years and never held a job for more than two years so she lives with family. I am having a lot of trouble explaining that it isn’t unreasonable for my job to ask me to take a late 2-3 hour lunch on a regular basis.
    I do want to do this but I don’t have the time to explain work norms to someone who should know them.

    1. Alice*

      It sounds really frustrating, but I want to highlight that in many professions, serving on the board or committees of a professional organization and planning a conference would absolutely be something that you can spend work time on.

  56. Furlough Fears and Tears*

    My workplace has not experienced furloughs or layoffs yet, but we all expect them to come in the next month or two based on what’s happening at other places in our industry. A few colleagues have started to get super competitive and possessive over projects and assignments. I know everyone is worried about being furloughed or laid off and are eager to prove their worth so they are spared, but I’m disappointed by how tense and less collegial the environment has become.

    Anyone else experiencing this at their work? Any advice to avoid feeling so upset by how competitive some people have become in an environment that used to be very collaborative?

  57. Psych0Therapist*

    Curious about the specific wording people use when calling out sick. I always feel awkward and feel the need to justify and then end up feeling the need to overshare my symptoms

    1. fposte*

      “Sorry, I’m under the weather and won’t be in today; hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow but I’ll let you know if that changes.”

    2. ampersand*

      I can relate. I used to over explain out of a sense of guilt. I finally got to a point where I say, “I”m not feeling well and won’t be in today” if it’s something I know will only last a day.

      For longer-term ailments or when I need to go to the doctor, I’ll say something like, “I think I have the flu (or have sprained my ankle, or whatever the problem is) and am going to the doctor today. I’ll keep you posted on how long I need to be out.” If I don’t want to share what’s wrong, I’ll just say I have a doctor’s appointment and will be in touch. I then follow up with my supervisor re: when I’ll be back to work as soon as I know.

    3. Kettricken Farseer*

      “Hey boss, I’m under the weather today and will be staying home/offline. Susie will cover my 10am meeting.”

      As a boss, I honestly don’t need to know your particular illness, just that you’ll be out and have arranged for coverage if needed.

    4. OtterB*

      I’ll use “under the weather.” Might be more specific, e.g. “stomach bug” or (pre-COVID) “I’m coughing like crazy and am staying home so I don’t share.” If it turned into something longer-term, e.g. the cough turned out to be bronchitis, I’d email again and say how long I expected to be out. Then I’d also say something about how accessible I would be – depending on how I felt, I might be online from home, might be checking email occasionally, or might be offline all day, call my cell if urgent (which it never has been – it’s not that kind of job – but I feel better if I say it.) But my office is very flexible and very sensible about this.

    5. TiffIf*

      I usually say something like “I’m not feeling well and won’t be able to work today”.

      Though a week or so ago when the pollen count was ridiculous and making me miserable, I straight up told my boss ,”my allergies are driving me crazy, I’m going to take off the rest of the day” then I took a benadryl and slept for three hours.
      (I’m working from home full time right now.)

    6. Alianora*

      I usually just say “I need to take a sick day.” Sometimes I’ll add, “I’m not feeling well,” but it’s not a big deal.

    7. KR*

      “Hey, I don’t feel well and can’t make it in this morning.” a text at 6:30 in the morning

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

      What? “Under the weather”? “Not feeling right”? etc?
      Here in the UK, at least for all the companies I’ve worked for… when calling in sick (or afterwards with HR) the specific nature of the illness needs to be disclosed, such as “food poisoning”, “severe flu so much so that I can’t drive in” etc. and it gets recorded in HR systems as such.
      It’s specifically stated that statements like “feeling unwell”, “too ill to work” etc are not specific enough.

  58. Just Keep Swimming*

    I posted a few Fridays ago about my annual review coming up, and wanted to know if it was a good time to bring up career development and goals with my boss. I specifically was interested about my role evolving into Chief of Staff. I received so much helpful feedback, and I wanted to come back with an update!

    My annual review was the last one on the calendar before my boss was set to go on vacation; by the time it rolled around, my boss was really antsy about getting her vacation started and asked if we could push mine back for a week and a half until she returned. Argh! Of course I said no problem, and I guess on the positive side it gave me more time to consider my goals and plan a bit more. :)

    My review took place a couple of days ago and it went really well! It was very positive and before I could even talk about career development, my boss mentioned that she wanted me to consider where I want to go with my current role. I brought up that I was interested in becoming her CoS and was wondering if she saw that as a possibility. I’m afraid my delivery wasn’t great (I was so nervous for some reason, lol) but my boss was incredibly supportive and said she could definitely see me transitioning into her CoS. She even said in many ways, I am already acting as one!

    She asked me to look into leadership development and training opportunities, and she will get with our head of HR to talk about my future. All in all I felt it was a great conversation and it left me feeling really excited and positive about my future here!

    Thank you again to those who replied to me and offered input!

  59. MyCorona*

    About a month ago, I applied for a position on a whim (got notified about it via a LinkedIn email). I’ve been working in one particular industry now for almost 20 years but the skills I have easily transfer to this new role. The role in question is more along the lines of what I went to college for and then life happened, and you know…

    The recruiter had a phone screening with me a week ago and I was certain I wasn’t going to move forward but hey, I tried, right? Then today she emailed to tell me that the person who used to hold the position I’ve applied for (but has since been promoted) is going to be contacting me to set up a call in the next few days to further discuss the role!
    I have my list of questions from AAM but I am nervous because this is definitely out of the box for me (going from niche-law to working at TV network working for a high level person there) and if anyone has successfully done something similar, I would appreciate any advice/tips (because I’m quite shocked that they are moving forward with me. Hi, Imposter Syndrome!)

  60. MxLobo*

    Howdy all, long time reader, first time commenter – I’d like to bend everyone’s ear to see what they think about my current predicament!

    Two years ago I worked in the pet industry – it was a pretty toxic atmosphere, i’ve still got a lot of hang ups from that place, but the cherry on the cake was a woman they hired my last few months there, who I’ll call Cersei. Cersei could be very professional but she was also very unpredictable, very emotional, and outright rude at times. In the beginning, I tried to be friendly especially since, unbeknownst to me at first, she had previously worked with my father. By the time I left we refused to speak to one another and would frequently go for hours without talking at our desk.

    I moved industries two years ago and I’ve been working in the medical field ever since. We recently had someone leave and they rehired a replacement rather quickly. Lo and behold – it’s Cersei. So, here’s my question: how would you guys approach this situation?

    1. Nicki Name*

      Behave in a professional manner toward her for a start, and allow for the possibility that her behavior was influenced by the toxic company culture.

      If you’re going to have to work extensively with her, though, maybe a heads-up to your manager about your working relationship in the past.

    2. Star*

      Ugh. I KNOW I’ve recently seen a question or two on AAM along these lines in recent months. I just did a quick archive scan and couldn’t find them. Hopefully someone else will?

  61. Ermintrude*

    With the pandemic and small children at home, I’d like to move start working as a freelance writer. Does anyone have any suggestions for good ways to go about this? I’m thinking of doing some free work for a couple if friends to help build a portfolio. I’m also thinking of joining a freelance site – does anyone have any experience with these?

    All help much appreciated. I’m a good writer and have experience working in marketing.

    1. Ali G*

      I wouldn’t do it for free unless you are prepared to work for free for them forever (or only once and never again). It pretty hard to walk that back, even with friends.
      There are sites, like Taproot, where you can volunteer services for non-profits, which might work for you.

  62. Burnt Out Admin Assistant*

    How bad will it look to prospective employers if I leave a job to job-hunt without having a new one lined up?

    My current situation is that I have two part-time jobs: an “admin assistant” position where I am the only employee of my boss’s small business, and a self-employed job as an artist (think someone that runs a successful Etsy store). My boss is elderly and has many health problems and these appear to negatively affect her memory and cognition. Her health has gotten worse over my employment and lead to a change in my position to someone who worked independently on tasks she didn’t have time for to someone that “holds her hand” through most administrative aspects of her business, does a bunch of more “personal assistant” work like managing her bills and doctor appointments, and is expected to soothe her increasingly volatile emotions. I am not trained for most of the tasks I now do, and when you combine that with bearing the brunt of her negative emotions this job has become a very poor fit for me and very stressful.

    I have a history of mental illness and the stress of this job and the various stresses of the pandemic have put me in a dark place and I am really struggling with my mental illness symptoms. I know I need to leave this job for a new position, and I’m considering quitting my admin assistant job before job-hunting for the following reasons:

    1. It has become very apparent to me that I am not in a mentally healthy enough place to focus on job hunting at the moment.

    2. In the past when this came up theoretically, my boss expressed a strong desire to have me stay on to train a replacement if I was going to leave this position, and with her mostly incapable of doing the training/day-to-day of her business without me and with no other employees to step in, I imagine hiring and training a replacement will take me more than the typical two week notice period. I know I don’t owe her more than the two weeks, but I do have some empathy for her health issues and how badly not having an assistant would impact her, and know she would appreciate me giving her a longer transition period. It feels like the kind thing to do, especially in a pandemic.

    My current plan is to give her notice that I’ll be leaving and negotiate a transition period where I’ll train a replacement that I guess will be around 4 weeks, and once that’s done and my mental health is in a better place dive back into career counseling through my local library, job hunting, and potentially training the career counselors have suggested. I will continue running my art business and can live off that income and my savings. My only fear is that not being currently employed (outside of my art business) and quitting my previous position will make me look bad to prospective employers. Will it really look that bad? Is there a way I can explain it that will make me look better?

    1. Lyudie*

      What about something like “I took some time to address a medical issue that is now under control”? I doubt you’ll get anyone questioning it and it’s vague enough to protect your privacy. I would also be sure to mention you were still doing your art business, you won’t have a complete work gap just a period of less work to recover.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        But I dont think the employment gap is due to a health problem of yours. I am defined as neurotypical and I would not have the bandwidth for managing my own Etsy store, this woman’s situation, and a job hunt.

        If you have to explain it at all, I’d say your employer’s health changed and that meant the job changed and that meant the timing of your job hunt shifted.

    2. Quill*

      Given the circumstances of the employment – that you have alternate means of support, that it’s mid covid, that your current job has changed to be more demanding – I think you may find it easier than you think, especially if you stress how competently and conscientiously you organized your leaving. And if they ask why you couldn’t keep up with the newly demanding nature of the job, saying that you had health reasons (which you do) or a change in family circumstances (which you do: you can be a family of one and Covid is a major change in your life) for leaving or waiting to look for a job is not remarkable right now.

    3. MxLobo*

      Lyudie made a great point. On top of that, interviewers are just as human as you or I – if you explain that it was a medical issue that needed attending to, they’ll understand.

      If they don’t, I’d call that a pretty good look into the culture of the office.

  63. Anonnette Funicello*

    Looking for advice from those with experience working in law/court/judiciary. I currently work in healthcare, and have a lot of experience with fast-paced, accurate clerical work, maintaining confidentiality, organization, scheduling, clear communication, etc. (as well as great reviews and references.)

    I’m interested in applying for court clerk or judge’s assistant positions, but a lot of the ads for those jobs seem geared toward those who are seeking a career in law in some capacity, and who have schooling in law or paralegal stuff. Is it hard to get an administrative position in the courts if you don’t have a legal background? I didn’t have a medical background either, but I’m extremely quick to learn new terminology and I find law as interesting as medicine. Basically I just want to know beforehand whether this is a longshot.

    I appreciate any insight that comes my way!

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I would just be aware that a lot of clerk positions for judges are actually jobs for lawyers. There are definitely other clerk positions that are administrative/clerical though (they like to make it easy, right!). I think you can learn the legal stuff when you’re on the job and wouldn’t worry too much about that. If it is a clerical job, you should apply and just emphasize your skills. Good luck!

    2. CTT*

      Seconding that a lot of clerk’s positions are for lawyers. Are you only interested in court-based work? Given your background I healthcare, I think there are a lot of law firms that would be interested in hiring you as a paralegal or case assistant.

    3. JustaTech*

      I know the position of docket clerk isn’t one of those “for lawyers” positions, so that might be something to consider. (I’m not really sure of what it is except that it’s a court job.)

  64. Deloris Van Cartier*

    I work in a non-profit and I’m really concerned we aren’t going to be around for more than another 6 months unless a giant bucket of money falls from the sky. I’ve been looking at jobs and have applied for a couple that I thought were good fits outside of the non-profit world but I’m struggling with something so any advice would be great. I do a lot of different things in my job (like most non-profit employees!) and some of them I have a lot of skill in and some I’ve just learned on the job like designing graphics and managing our social media accounts. I really enjoy those aspects of my job but I wouldn’t consider myself a real professional in them as I’m not sure if they are any good, outside of my organization. When I’ve looked at jobs, I know I don’t have the qualifications of someone who has done it full time. I’ve spent most of my career working with volunteers which can be a hard skill to translate to a for-profit company. Has anyone had any success in taking skills and using them as experience for a skill that isn’t directly related? Also, I’m happy to look into online courses and such to bulk up those other on the job skill that I’ve learned but I’m not sure whats actually impressive so if anyone has taken good classes online, I’d love to hear where they’ve done them. Thanks in advance for any advice!

  65. Lady Dedlock*

    Thoughts on how to explain a cosmetic procedure to curious coworkers? I am having chin liposuction next Tuesday, and while I feel empowered by doing this for my appearance, I am concerned about how coworkers might react or judge me. I will be wearing a compression garment for four days afterward, and I have some video meetings that I cannot opt out of, so I know people will be curious.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Unless you specifically want to talk about it, I think I might just deflect – “Minor medical procedure, it’ll be healed up in a couple of days, all good, thanks! So about those TPS reports….”

    2. Quill*

      People are more likely to comment on the appearance of illness or injury than a general appearance change, so if you concentrate on giving them the signals that you are physically fine, it should help both keep the commentary neutral and keep you from feeling judged when people do comment.

      Previous scripts I’ve seen floating around here include “oh, it’s a minor medical procedure I’ve been waiting to do for a while, I’m recovering great!” and my advice would be to acknowledge that people might think it’s more urgent due to the fact that it’s still Covid times, by adding something to that to point out that it really is minor but was safe (in this circumstance) to do.

    3. WellRed*

      Can you opt of the video part of the meeting? I mean, maybe the camera is on the fritz.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      do you have a scarf you can wear? That way it can stay none of their business.

      1. Lady Dedlock*

        I think these are all good strategies, and I’ll probably have to use them in combination!

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Personally, I would just opt out of the video if you’ve been WFH. If anyone asks why no video, you can say you’ve recently had a medical or dental procedure and would rather not be on video for a few days.

      I did it this morning and my only excuse was I hadn’t showered yet! Lol!

    6. Chaordic One*

      Turtlenecks? (Loose turtlenecks.) Maybe a bandana? Maybe one of those long face masks that covers the neck. You put it below your chin when at work and then pull it back up.

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

      Can you put a ‘snood’ over it and if asked, claim you are cold due to malfunction of your air conditioning / heating or whatever?

  66. MajorCat*

    Thoughts on praising(?) a company’s actions re the protest in a cover letter?

    My SO is applying to a big company in a field generally considered less conservative. In his cover letter, he states he’s glad to see the action the company has taken out of respect for the current protests. I’m so torn on whether that is a good idea or not.

    My gut reaction is to leave it off; there’s no way to tell who will read the cover letter, so there’s a chance the person reading it may not agree with the company’s actions (either because they are racist or maybe because they think the company isn’t doing enough). My thought is that if he wants to bring this/the company’s response to covid-19 up, it might be better done at the interview stage.

    Am I off-base? Are there arguments for leaving it on?

    1. Colette*

      I’d say leave it off because it does nothing to strengthen his candidacy. In an interview, he can use it to ask questions (“I was glad to see that you did X during the protests. What other ways does the company work to combat racism and make sure everyone has equal opportunities?)

      1. Quill*

        I’d keep it back until specifically asked “why are you interested in working for this company” instead of the general cover letter goal of “tell me why we should be interested in hiring you?”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Most people are not going to screen out someone because of this kind of thing, that’s wildly inappropriate. If they did, then that’s somewhere that’s already problematic and working there may just be an absolute disaster as well.

      I would leave it on. The cover letter is to introduce yourself, your skills and also if you’re a possible “fit” as well culturally. Both of which we all know goes into the hiring process.

  67. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Has anyone else in an HR role gotten fraudulent unemployment claims come through for employees that are still very much actively working?

    Thankfully there’s easy channels to report these to but it’s so stressful, more so for the folks who are now victims of identity theft. And my hands are so tied in most ways. I’m so used to being able to just do most things for people who struggle to jump through hoops and paperwork/calling, etc. But not now, I just get the forms and my stomach drops when I have to approach them with the news.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m in WA state, it’s been all over the news that’s for sure! I already got 2 for our 25 employees :(

        The first one was jarring and the second one was just making me enraged. This is why they shut down payments for a couple weeks awhile back because it’s so huge of an issue.

        Little donkeys are banking on us being shut down since so many places are. This is why so many claims have been on hold and people can’t get their rightful payments to survive!

      2. MechanicalPencil*

        Interesting. My national company is headquartered in WA and sent out an email about receiving fraudulent UI claims, mostly from WA residents (though I got the feel there were some other states also). They told us to check our credit and make sure we hadn’t been affected, etc., and if we had, what steps to take. I didn’t know it was so widespread within the state.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes! They are linking it to the Equifax breech back in 2017 :( And WA doesn’t have the right flags in place. *barf*

  68. TheBeanMustMoveOn*

    I completed a set of interviews for a position and they went pretty well, and the recruiter (internal to the company) just reached out to me asking if I would be interested in talking with the hiring manager again. This third conversation would be talking more about the position in a casual context, but the truth is, I’m not sure what we would talk about that hasn’t been covered already.

    An offer hasn’t been extended yet, so I’m not going to want to talk about things like vacation or compensation. I didnt ask about things about sick time. Because of COVID, everyone is working remotely until at least the fall. We have already talked in general about how they develop employees and what some of the day-to-day stuff looks like.
    So I declined the offer to talk right now, saying that I needed some time to process the interview. Was that the right thing to do? If I decided that I processed things and would like to talk again, what on earth should I talk about?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know that I would’ve turned it down, because what if the hiring manager had things they wanted to talk to me more about? Just because I don’t have any more questions at this stage doesn’t mean they don’t. But it’s water under the bridge now.

    2. Ali G*

      If they want to talk to you again, it’s probably to address some areas where they need more info! You don’t HAVE to come up with anything, they are coming to you. If you are at all interested in this position I would get back with them stat. When we do this it’s usually because we are deciding between 2 candidates and some people are leaning one way and some the other. So we need to close any potential issues to make a final decision.

  69. XX engineer*

    I’m a woman in an engineering company. There are about 50 engineers/engineer techs in our office. 4 women.
    One of the engineers is leaving, so I was asked to attend a meeting about a project he was on, with the eye to possibly taking over his role in it. At some point during the meeting, when “should we X or Y” on the project was being debated, someone said “well, with so-and-so leaving, we won’t have the manpower to do this”. My manager (the guy running the meeting) interjects with “heh heh. Funny you should say that. For the first time in this project we have a FEMALE present”. If you want to have at all that was wrong there, please do!

    1. irene adler*

      I would have pointed out that not to worry, we now have the “woman power” to do this project. Prepare for success!
      Let’s see ’em argue with that!

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Ewwww being called a FEMALE like they’re Ferengi! “Manpower” barely registers on my radar but saying “man the equipment” drives me up the wall. And they follow up with calling something “unmanned” when it’s empty, which just sounds gross. Your boss is gross >:(

    3. yargles*

      Sorry, I truly hate comments like this because they tend to put women on the spot when we’re just trying to get through our workday. Suddenly all eyes are on you, and you have a few seconds to determine 1)What he meant 2)How you feel about it 3)How you want to respond 4)How you should respond, given the environment.

      I’m not sure whether you’re looking for advice, but I’ve seen the “eyebrow raise” mentioned on AMA a number of times. I might have gone with a brief, expressionless look at the person who said that.

    4. Lissajous*

      Ah, the joys of working in a male dominated industry. I tend to favour humour as a way to lampshade these things in the moment without coming across as a harridan about it… and yes, I hate that I have to make that calculation. But of course it works best when you know the team and they also know you, and therefore your sense of humour (and when the little bit of bite is intentional).

      I like irene adler’s line about woman power, definitely filing that one away! One I use fairly often as a response to someone saying someone’s acting like a girl is something like “no need to hand out un-earned promotions!”

  70. Minerva*

    I have access to my boss’s email to monitor for meeting invites and other action items. My boss is on the board of an organization that supports our local police department. Last Thursday, the organization sent an email from the executive director of this organization which mentioned the name of a local person who was killed by the police – and the name was spelled wrong. This struck me as disrespectful, but anyone can make a mistake. On Friday, they sent another email with the same misspelling. I emailed my boss and asked them to let the exec director know they had misspelled the name. I received no response from from my boss and on our Monday morning check-in call, they did not mention it. Yesterday another email came, still misspelled. I emailed my boss and asked if they’d had any luck reaching the exec director about the spelling mistake. Their response was “No I did not.” Today, the fourth email arrived with the same mistake.

    There is no excuse for anyone not to know this name because it is in the national newspaper headlines every day, and protestors all over the world are holding up signs with this name on it. The executive director would have to be living under a rock not to see the correct spelling.

    My boss is in a position to speak to this issue and has not. I am not in a position to address it because I am not on the the organization’s distribution list. But it hurts my heart to see this go uncorrected. What can I do?

    1. Quill*

      Does Exec director have someone managing their communications? Because it sounds to me like half the trouble is getting to the EXD and obtaining any of his attention, while it might be a quick fix for a pr / social media / communications person.

    2. WellRed*

      IT sounds like this is coming from an organization outside your company? Is there a way you could reach out to the org outside of your job and point it out (like are they using the name publicly anywhere?) If not, I’m afraid you need to let this go.

    3. Pennyworth*

      Could you have called the assistant of the ED who sent out the email and just mentioned it as a typing error that seemed to have escaped notice?

  71. Temporarily Anonymous*

    Question: Any advice for ways to reduce risk and lower stress as an employee returning to an insufficiently COVID-safe workplace?

    Background: Shortly after they sent a notice that they would keep as many people working from home as possible, my bosses about-faced and announced that all employees are expected to return to work within the next couple weeks. Because of what they’d said earlier I had been quietly hoping to continue to work from home at least over a good part of the summer. I am a very productive WFH employee so that was never an issue. My employer is not fully prepared for even the level of re-opening they have already done, so I am not overjoyed (understatement) by this. For example, they still have no plan at all for if there is an outbreak in our workplace even though shutting down entirely because we all have to quarantine would probably be considered a human rights violation because of what we do.

    Logistically, I will need to move around the building frequently because of the nature of the work and will have to eat lunch at work, use shared break room facilities for food prep/heating and use the small multi-stall employee bathrooms (unless I start sneaking into one of the few single occupancy men’s rooms- which I might just have to do). Honestly I am dreading it; I feel like I will be constantly hyperalert and stressed out trying to avoid close contact while trying to accomplish my high urgency fast-paced work duties. But I don’t have an option to refuse unless I want to take unpaid leave or quit so it is what it is.

    So far, to prepare for working in the building, I have bought a large supply of cloth masks to wear at work. One friend suggested I get a desk fan to create some air movement since we have a complete lack of air flow in the building (old and terrible hvac system and windows don’t open). My employer is providing sanitizing spray for surfaces and shared hand sanitizer for employee use. There will also be some gloves to use. I might be able to move to another work space so seated distancing is possible. I am thinking about looking into the employee mental health services to see if some therapy sessions will help with the stress bit.

    Any other suggestions from people who’ve returned to the workplace?

    (Fwiw, we currently have a very low number of confirmed infections in my area and we do have high testing rates so For Now the risk is low)

    1. Temporarily Anonymous*

      Sorry that ended up really long!
      TL;DR- How are you reducing your risk and managing your stress as an employee in the workplace?

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Take care of yourself and do what you can. Mask, washing, distance distance distance.

        If you have outdoor access, take a walk if feasible. Getting outside is always nice and probably better than nothing.

        I’ve been working (outside) the whole time and I find myself in some weird claustrophobic/agoraphobic head space at stores.

        You can only do for yourself.

        1. Llama Face!*

          Thanks, yes I’m close to a green space so I will be getting outside as much as possible on my breaks!
          I know exactly what you mean with the stores; I’m finding myself with shoulders up to my neck and unconsciously holding my breath half the time I’m in there. Ugh!

    2. Jaid*

      I’m not back yet, but I’m ready.

      Electric lunchboxes and/or Mr. Bento thermos lunch jars. Crockpot makes an electric lunchbox that you can take the interior pot out so you don’t need to carry the whole thing back and forth.

      A curtain rod and shower curtain liner for the cubicle entrance.

      A clothes steamer repurposed for sterilizing things.

      Good luck!

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        If I can get a different workspace there might be a free plug for an electric lunchbox. Unfortunately our regular work area has terrible electrical wiring as well as terrible hvac so we are not allowed extra things plugged in (it overloads the breaker). In the main office I might get away with the fan but not likely more than that.

        1. Jaid*


          The Mr Bento is a thermos with 4 inner containers that are microwavable. So what you can do in the morning is nuke the containers you want to be hot. To make especially sure they stay warm, heat the jug itself with hot water for about 10 minutes. It’s expensive, though under 50 dollars a thermos, but it can hold a lot of food, has its own carry-bag and spork. There’s also a Mrs. Bento which is less expensive and has only three containers. Look on Amazon for those and other lunch boxes.

          (*•̀ᴗ•́*)و ̑̑

          Best wishes!

          1. Temporarily Anonymous*

            Thanks Jaid! I might have to spring for one of those. It sounds very useful!

    3. Siha*

      Im high risk and went back to work so here are my tips. Remember to avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose as much as possible. Anytime I left my desk and touched something communal (copier, door handle, coffee maker) I used hand sanitizer. Hopefully you have some you can keep with you as your walk around. When I ate, I ate at my desk but I wiped it with a clorox wipe before eating and washed my hands before eating. I even bought this little tool to open doors with so I didnt have to touch things. Can you eat lunch outside or in your car? I cant based on my building or rather its too much of a PITA to do so. As soon as I got home, I took off all my cloths including my mask, washed everything and hopped in the shower. I was stressed when I went in but at the same time it was ok if that makes sense. Just keep your mask on and its ok to ask others to put on one when they are near you. I did and all my coworkers complied.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        If the weather is reasonable I can go to a green space to eat. So I expect I’ll be doing that as much as possible. That is one of my favourite perks of my work location.

        I will have access to a shared sanitizer but not my own carry bottle. But I have trained myself quite well over the last few months to be very aware of what my hands are touching and to sanitize/wash at very regular intervals so my routine around hand cleanliness/sanitizing and surfaces is pretty darn good now. :) I barely even catch myself about to face touch anymore.

        I *wish* I could insist that my coworkers wear masks around me but workplace policy is basically “let everyone do what level they are comfortable with and live and let live” so my boss would not support that. And I already got pushback from coworkers when I was at work previously and tried to insist they not directly hand me things because that was too close; unfortunately I do not think they’ll be on board with having to mask up.
        I’m glad to hear your colleagues are being more considerate though!

    4. JustaTech*

      All I’ve got is what everyone else has said: mask mask mask (even in the bathroom). The few times I’ve been in (only for partial days so I wouldn’t have to eat lunch) I’ve seen the folks who don’t have offices take their lunches out to the outdoor patio to eat.
      That’ll only work as long as it’s summer, but it helps.
      When I spent a couple of hours at the copier I wore gloves, but when I was only picking up a printout I used hand sanitizer. (I also work in a lab, so I’m used to wearing basically all this stuff except the mask.)
      Basically, it’s going to be stressful, so don’t get mad at yourself for being stressed.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        I am all set with the masks: I have 30 cloth masks to use for work so I can bring a couple each day to use and not run out before wash day. :)

        A high amount of work I do involves papers that multiple people have touched. It’s quite difficult to type or flip pages in the gloves we have available so I do A LOT of hand washing. And I plan to sanitize my desk & keyboard at least twice a day.

        “Basically, it’s going to be stressful, so don’t get mad at yourself for being stressed.”
        Thanks for the reminder- I know I need to be kind to myself. Honestly, it is more the getting really angry with others who are not doing the same things that is my biggest challenge right now. I could easily go full Hulk on people these days. And I so do not want to become that person who had a meltdown at work!

  72. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    It’s not a llama, but why not add a goat to your next virtual meeting?

    Link in reply.

      1. It's business time*