open thread – July 10-11, 2020

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

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

{ 1,399 comments… read them below }

  1. halfwolf*

    Curious to get other peoples’ perspective on a job listing. A recruiter that I was introduced to (but don’t know very well) sent me a temp to perm position at an organization in the sector I’ve been trying to move into. Salary and benefits upon permanent placement are good, and even if it’s not the right long-term fit, a lot of positions in this industry want to see prior industry experience, so it would strengthen my resume. However, I’m not totally sold on the organization itself, and a couple of lines in the job description gave me pause. The very first line is “Looking for someone with thick skin who can handle constructive criticism.” Later on in the qualifications section, it says “Must be able to take and implement feedback,” which … I mean, that’s true of all jobs. It feels weird that both of these things were called out in this way, and combined with my reservations about the organization itself, I think I’m going to pass. If this ever comes up again, what do other people think? Huge red flag, or more just an indication to go in with eyes wide open? I’m very recently unemployed, but in a financial situation where I can afford to be jobless for at least the rest of the year.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      “Looking for someone with thick skin who can handle constructive criticism.”

      This seems like a major red flag.

      “Must be able to take and implement feedback,”

      This is weird but less of a red flag.

      1. DarthVelma*

        Yup, “looking for someone with thick skin” means you boss and possibly your co-workers will all be assholes.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, that’s the most likely scenario, IMO. Stretching my imagination I can aaalllllmost see it as, “The person who used to have this job cried several times a week, and giving her even the gentlest feedback meant a sobbing breakdown and could mean she had to leave early. We need to make sure we get someone who can freaking handle correction.”

          1. charo*

            It could be worth interviewing and asking if this description is a reaction to past employee finding it too blunt, or if it’s management that’s blunt. Try to clarify that.

      2. ampersand*

        Yes. It sounds like they’re referring to someone who has the potential to make the job miserable, and (I’ll be nice and call it) that person’s lack of professionalism hasn’t been dealt with properly, so everyone else is required to suck it up and take it.

        The taking and implementing feedback part–eh, some people aren’t great at that, or haven’t learned how to do it yet, and it’s overall not a problem to spell it out if that’s a requirement of the job. In combination with asking for someone with thick skin, though? That would concern me.

        To me this reads like: “We made a past employee cry and they didn’t even implement our suggestions!”

      3. Amethystmoon*

        Yes, I agree as someone who used to temp, those are definitely red flags. I once worked at a company (left after the first month) where the CEO routinely made people cry. He did not make me cry but I left before that happened. It was a small company and the 1 HR person kissed his rear. I hope this isn’t that company.

    2. Slinky*

      The “thick skin” comment is a huge red flag. If you’re telling people before they’ve even applied that they’ll need to have a thick skin, this is concerning. The part about “must be able to take and implement feedback,” on its own, I’d worry less about. Lots of people aren’t great at writing postings and may just get a little over specific. Taken together, however, I agree that not applying is a good call.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Agree, the hugest red flag. Obviously a prerequisite for any job is to be able to take direction and improve.

        The fact they’ve gone out of there way to prioritize this on their job posting means someone in that company is thinking “the last 4 people in this role couldn’t take my direction and quit – there must be something wrong with them!” when, I bet if you asked those last 4 people, they’d say “I lived in fear of the vitriol spewed from Delores’ mouth every time I did anything, no matter how hard I tried to get it right.”

      2. Mama Bear*

        Expecting someone to be able to take average feedback should be a given. The thick skin reference to me says, “You should have no expectation of professionalism when it comes to conflict.” Hard pass.

    3. Lynn*

      I think it’s a yellow-flag; I would be willing to apply and interview to see where it goes but would be a little wary and if interviewed, might ask them to further explain some of the elements of the job req, including that one.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Agreed. It’s not the greatest sign, but especially if you are a person with thick skin, it might be worth at least getting a little farther into the process and seeing if anything else crops up.

        1. dorothyparker*

          If I really needed it, I would interview and just ask them to explain what constructive criticism means. Make them answer it and that could tell you what explain constructive criticism is in their minds. And how far out of reality it is.

          1. charo*

            I’D ask what they mean by “thick skin.” Give me an example. That’s a term that is a def. red flag, it’s a little crude.

            On the other hand, though, job descriptions can be a reaction to problems w/the last person, who may have been overly sensitive. Just like job-seekers can react to a bad job by looking at a different type of atmosphere, so can job creators.

      2. Chai town*

        Yellow to orange flag. I once had a public facing position in a service field that was slightly politicised in that most people felt that the service should be free, or done their way, or have no restrictions, etc. 90% of the customers were very pleasant and rarely called or came in. The other 10% though… so angry! It wore me down to be facing so much negativity all the time. I didn’t have thick enough skin, but my three coworkers could easily forget the interactions and move on.

      3. Biscuit*

        It can’t hurt to interview and ask why that was called out…if that is the only red flag.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ll join the chorus; they’re looking for someone tolerant of verbal abuse.

      “Must be able to take and implement feedback” makes me think they want someone who does what they’ve told unconditionally and won’t make waves by thinking for themselves.

    5. Txag18*

      Seems like a red flag to me. Taking criticism is a part of all jobs. At best, this company has had a bad experience with a prior employee not taking feedback and wants to avoid that in the future. My inkling is that this person is abrasive or gives harsh (and not very constructive) “feedback” and doesn’t see that they’re the problem. In my own experience, people who say you need a “thick skin” say as much because they are rude and abrasive.

    6. Another name*

      Orange flag. There’s a small chance the ad is an overreaction to the previous person who held the job being overly reactive to feedback. But more likely it is a bee hive. If you interview, ask questions to try to find out what happened with the previous person in the position and why they left. But I wouldn’t feel bad about skipping this one if the job doesn’t seem worth the effort of finding out.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        I agree with this too. I’ve known people to use “thick skin” language and they were not verbal abusers at all – and I’ve known people who did and were.

      2. Teapot Librarian*

        This was my first thought, too, except for the part about “thick skin.” There’s a difference between “the person who was in this position before was way too thin-skinned, and we need someone who can take feedback,” and “we need someone thick-skinned.” I’m with you on orange flag.

    7. Gwen Soul*

      I would ask about it but it doesn’t seem that odd to me. We have it in our descriptions because we get crapped on a lot and have to work through it. (this is a function of the job and not an organization thing, we have to give a lot of bad news and assign work without any real authority)

      1. Trixie*

        This doesn’t to me either other than being listed first.

        Depending on the job, a big part is taking feedback/direction and not taking it personally. In previous roles, my predecessor would tear up when the talking to the Boss about various situations. Feedback is helpful and an opportunity to be on the same page moving forward. Also, feedback is also crucial for those stuck in the past or prior routines, and do not understand that change is underway. Feedback may be to clarify this is the new path moving forward. Of course, feedback is only helpful when it’s consistent versus varying from week to week.

    8. Amtelope*

      I agree that it can be a red flag, but I don’t think it necessarily indicates that your coworkers will be terrible (although it might). We’ve said similar things in job ads when what we mean is “our clients are sometimes terrible, and will give feedback ranging from blunt to aggressively rude.”

      In one case, we were hiring for a role where the last three people had quit because the client was terrible. Our team was not empowered to fire the client. We needed to hire someone who could tolerate “This is terrible work, do you even know what you’re doing?” feedback from this client without bursting into tears or quitting. We weren’t going to take the comments as an indication that the new hire was doing bad work — we had heard several years of these complaints regardless of what we did — but we also couldn’t make it stop. So we were trying to be as honest as possible about the challenges of the role.

      1. Katrinka*

        But there are better ways to word that. I’ve seen ads that mention working with difficult clients, which I would definitely take as clients that either yell a lot or need a lot of hand-holding. Needing a thick skin, to me, would be an indication of an internal culture.

        1. Do As I Say, Not As I Do*

          Except you can’t run a job ad naming your organization if you also say you work with “difficult clients”. Clients that see that would be very upset.

    9. lemon*

      Agree with others that the “thick skin” line is a yellow flag. I can think of a few examples where this wouldn’t necessarily be indicative of a toxic environment (e.g. customer service, where you can have the nicest coworkers and bosses but you’ll still deal with abuse from customers, or any other heavily client-facing role). I’d say it’s an indication to go into the interview with eyes open to any potential signs of a toxic workplace, asking questions about the environment, culture, and who you’d be working with.

      “Must be able to take and implement feedback” is a little weird, but on it’s own, wouldn’t be a red/yellow flag. I read this more of an instance of “the last person who had this job was bad at taking feedback, so now we’re hyperfocused on screening that out with new candidates.”

    10. halfwolf*

      thank you for all of the replies! i asked the recruiter for some clarification on this point, and it was not exactly illuminating; the response was that the executives’ personalities are “very direct” (this is an EA role). i think this combined with my other reservations about a part of the work done by the org means that i’m going to pass. i’m grateful to hear other peoples’ takes on this, because it’s really hard for me to break out of the mindset of “YOU HAVE TO GET A JOB ANY JOB RIGHT NOW AS SOON AS SOMEONE DEIGNS TO OFFER YOU ONE” when that really isn’t true for my situation.

      1. Amtelope*

        Yeah, I think that’s the right call — that sounds like “you’re going to get yelled at a lot by your direct boss,” which sounds like no fun whatsoever.

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Yeah, “very direct” could be anything from someone who is bluntly honest but means well to outright verbal abuse. I interviewed for an EA role where it turned out the guy I’d support was a yeller and the EA who was interviewing me (and that I’d replace) basically told me to run.

        No one needs to be yelled at on a daily basis because their boss couldn’t find the report you put on his desk because it was 2 inches to the left of where you usually put it.

      3. Katrinka*

        As an EA, I agree. This wording means the execs are assholes and the ocmpany lets them get away with it because they think they are brilliant/bring in the clients/ own the company. I worked for an attorney that was horrid – he didn’t like to share me with any other attorneys, but he didn’t generate enough work to justify having me dedicated solely to him (very common in law firms for one secretary to work for two attorneys). His work was ALWAYS done on time (or ahead of time), but he just hated the idea of sharing. I would often cry on the drive home with my then-fiance. I finally decided I had to leave when I heard him yelling in his office about how someone was an asshole and m-fer and on and on for over an hour. And realized that he was talking to his mother,about his father. Because his father forgot to make sure his mother took all of her meds when they left for their vacation home.

      4. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I would have passed as well. If they’re saying things like that at this stage, when usually they’re trying to woo candidates and sell them on how great the role is, it’s likely several degrees worse than they’re letting on.

        I don’t see an issue with saying that candidates should have a thick skin, per se, but I do think it’s odd to have it as the very first line. That’s where it tipped into red flag territory for me.

        I once got through the initial stages of applying to a role and was in the ‘interview with your prospective coworkers’ round. I was already a little wary of the woman who would be my boss because she seemed very brusque, but the very first question I was asked by a member of the team was “How do you deal with a difficult boss?” That was the only other sign I needed to withdraw my candidacy.

      5. Can't Sit Still*

        Requiring a thick skin in admin or EA role means that the executives are verbally, and possibly physically and/or sexually abusive and the company allows it because it’s cheaper to replace admins than other their other direct reports.

        Temp to perm in this case may actually mean that their in house recruiters are refusing to attempt to fill the role any longer. Of course, I worked for a company that got blackballed in 2008 by temporary agencies for being too abusive, so that can go either way.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Or it could mean that their execs are prone to getting rid of new EAs quickly and it’s easier to let go a temp employee. I worked for an office where certain people were contractors and I think it was partially because they would be easier to get rid of.

      6. Shakti*

        As someone who used to temp in EA roles do not take that job!! I took jobs like that and they were toxic and dysfunctional and I left with some very memorable stories (the CFO would practice golf at me and my desk and I got to handle a surprise uranium delivery), but I was also never sure what anyone’s mood would be and they were often “direct” aka very needlessly mean and it has nothing to do with job feedback or another job they’d feel good about direct feedback like don’t get pregnant, why did you have a doctor appointment, we don’t hire people who are old or have kids. Be very careful with temp jobs if they say that

    11. HR Exec Popping In*

      These a very big signals about their culture. For some this would be a red flag, for others it would not be. I’m guessing that this is a highly direct organization that provides blunt feedback regularly and expects immediate action on feedback. Some would call this a high performance organization which typically means aggressive personality-wise with very high performance standards. For some this is fine. For most it is not.

    12. Fabulous*

      Yellow flag for me. Yes, it could mean a toxic culture, but I’ve also seen things like this where the prior person in the role just wasn’t suited for it and they felt they needed to specify things in the posting to counteract having the same type of person apply.

      The example I’m thinking of is for a contracts position at a former company. I applied internally so I learned a bit more about the prior person than I probably would have otherwise. The legal team basically said they needed someone who had thick skin and enjoyed boring work because the last person got upset at the drop of a hat whenever feedback was given, then quit at the drop of a hat because they got too bored only reading contracts all the time.

    13. StormyWeather*

      I agree with several other commenters. This is a red flag. It sounds to me like this is a manager who expects to be able to abuse their staff. I guess they don’t understand constructive feedback at all.

    14. Jasmine*

      Having worked for and hired for a company where the boss’ behaviour required everyone to “have a thick skin”, I’d say run. Don’t look back. Save yourself!

    15. Kathenus*

      Just to offer a positive spin on it – good on the recruiter or organization for including it in the description. Better to get someone who knows what they’re getting into and has a personality/work style that can still thrive in that atmosphere than for someone to walk in blind.

    16. emmelemm*

      Yeah, they’re basically telling you in advance that you’re going to be miserable.

    17. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      Devil’s advocate: my predecessors was incredibly critical of my team and a similar line about taking feedback was in their job descriptions. I’ve been at my role for seven months and just this week was asked to review and update the JDs. I took that line out. It’s possible there is a legacy reason why the JD reads that way. If you’re otherwise interested, interview and see how they seem.

    18. Duvie*

      I would read this as “boss’s constant criticism and abrasive style drove the last person screaming into the night.” Hard pass, unless the wolf is at the door, and even then, I’d keep my resume spiffed up and ready to go.

  2. Fone Bone*

    How do you explain in a phone interview why you’re leaving a position of five + years at a smaller company for a one year (arguably with less responsibility and that you’re overqualified for) position at a larger company? I’m at a breaking point with my boss and need to get away. The new spot pays more but is temporary and I’m finding “looking for a new challenge” to not be quite right because it’s a lot of what I do anyway. Any ideas?

    1. Lygeia*

      You could say that you want some larger company experience. That’s valid. Large companies work differently and have different challenges than small ones, so it makes sense that you may be looking to diversify your background!

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I agree with this. Larger companies have entirely different ‘feel’ and benefits. Its perfectly acceptable to want that cultural experience – although it would sound more convincing if you could talk to specific aspects (robust training process, cross-functional exposure, etc) that appeal to you.

        Also little-company years mean less than big-company years, IME, since so much of a big company is just learning how to navigate their systems. So don’t panic about the experience difference.

        1. Fone Bone*

          That’s a good point. Also making this tricky is it’s a remote job with only one month being in person.

          1. Katrinka*

            I think it’s perfectly OK to say that there is enough difference in the role to make it worth exploring their way of doing business (large company, more remote work). And with COVID right now, exploring more remote work makes a lot of sense.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Is there anything that might help you in your career, working at a larger company, even if it’s for only a year? What are the other things that appeal to you about the one-year position?

    3. Yada Yada*

      Maybe go with the “limited advancement potential” statement, followed by “after 5 years, I am looking for fresh challenges, and even tho I would be starting in a lower position here, I am keen on this company and would love to talk more about advancement opportunities here ….”

      Hope that helps.

      1. Amy Sly*

        I used that one myself. “Limited advancement potential” is a big problem in small companies.

        1. Nesprin*

          Yep- After 5yrs, there is limited advancement potential at my current job and I’m looking to grow

        2. WantonSeedStitch*

          That’s the chief reason I used when I was looking to escape an admin role at a small, toxic company with a very toxic boss early in my career. It was also true: I didn’t want to be in an admin role forever, but the only other kinds of roles in this company were sales or tech, and neither of those appealed to me, really. I was fine going into an admin role elsewhere, but I wanted one where I could learn about other parts of a larger and more complex organization and find a career path that appealed to me.

      2. SomebodyElse*

        Just a warning.. I can’t put my finger on it, but the script has some alarm bells. It’s ok to site a bigger company with more opportunity for future advancement, but make sure you really stress the ‘future’ part. If I’m hiring for a position now and am not going to be thrilled at hiring someone only interested in finding a new job, be it in my company or another one.

        To be clear, I’m ok hiring someone who wants to eventually grow and advance (I love hiring people like this), and wouldn’t bat an eye at someone citing wanting the structure of a larger company, but I’m not ok with someone using my open position as a place holder until something else comes along.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Crud… reading fail. I missed or didn’t register this was a temporary position. If that’s the case then my comment doesn’t make sense in that context.

          1. Venus*

            But OP also said “that you’re overqualified for” so in this case it would probably be best to acknowledge that they are fully committed to the year-long contract although will be interested in what else is available with the company later. Maybe line it up with the “What do you look for in someone who is going to excel in this role?” and add a “because I want to impress you in that year, so that you will want to keep me, ideally moving me to an even better job”, said more modestly of course.

    4. Myrin*

      You want to become acquainted with the going-ons at a larger company? (Maybe adding that this opportunity seemed perfect to you to find out whether small or large companies suit you better?)

    5. Just J.*

      “I find at my current job, I wear too many hats and am spread too thin. I think working at your company, with a more focussed set of responsibilities would be good for for my career even though the position is temporary.”

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          It walks a fine line. If I were going to use that, I’d be careful not to say anything else that might signal I’m reluctant to take on additional responsibilities or opportunities outside of my formal job description.

          1. Fone Bone*

            Thankfully it’s commonly understood in my industry that smaller companies require their folk to wear too many hats. And I think they’ll understand that COVID is going to have additional funding impacts on current job that will make the future more..uh..hat filled. The new place has as many people in one department as my entire company!

      1. Not A Manager*

        Is it possible to phrase this in the positive, instead of the negative? “My current job has afforded me the opportunity to perform many roles and learn valuable processes. I look forward to the opportunity to narrow my focus and hone several of these skills in more depth.”

        I guess you don’t really hone in depth, but you get the idea.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yes, I like this more positive positioning. The other version sounds like complaining.

    6. Lynn*

      I think you can contextualize it as a small vs large company thing; a large company typically has more options for growth, maybe they are a leader in your field, etc.

    7. Venus*

      “I am interested in your position as you are a larger company with more stability.”
      I might not be finding the right words with this, but I would suggest a way to highlight that larger companies have more resources, so they support you in focusing on your job, whereas smaller companies often need people to take on different roles.

    8. Kimmybear*

      I was in a similar boat and the answer was a more tactful “A temporary position allows me to run out my non-compete.” Small companies and big companies have different cultures, benefits and levels of stability. Right now, no one will question wanting a job with more stability even if that’s not guaranteed anywhere.

      1. Fone Bone*

        Is it stable if it’s only for a year though? I think your suggestion is a good one but I am admittedly nervous about taking a temp job and then being jobless at the end.

        1. Kimmybear*

          Stable for a year is more than most people feel they have right now. The world may look very different a year from now.

    9. PR Girl*

      One thought is to blame this on the pandemic. If the year is only a position, you can say that the last couple of months have allowed you to take a step back and evaluate your priorities and this is a better fit for your situation right now. You can say that there’s too much changing right now to consider a longer-term move, but that a temporary position works perfectly.

      Everyone’s circumstances are evolving and people are reconsidering what’s important to them at work. This allows you to contribute and be fulfilled while you think about what’s next for you.

    10. Hillary*

      After five years, you can just say you’re looking for new challenges. Focus on the benefits of a bigger company (for me it was more resources, more opportunities for large-scale projects). The other way works too, for a small company I’d say the opportunity to really make an impact and control my destiny.

      Focus on what you want from the new place and leave out the old place entirely.

    11. Reformed TV Girl*

      I have found that something along the lines of “You know, because of the size of [employer] and the limited opportunities for growth, I feel as if I’ve hit my ceiling here and I’m really looking to take the next step” has served me quite well when the truth is more along the lines of “I NEED OUT!”

    12. Tex*

      Some reasons could be … new clients (previous job could get repetitive), different approach of the company to the same challenges, temp job lets me add tools/gain more perspective as I solidify skills to become a niche expert.

      I once had a talk with a (very trusted) boss and asked him if my previous experience (2-3 years at 5 places) made him pause when he first hired me. In other interviews, I had been looked down as a job-hopper despite my position being eliminated only during industry-wide downturns. He said it was a positive because I had so much exposure into how a number of companies worked in the same niche field, like a consultant, that I could benchmark what his department was doing against others and bring in a range of solutions to the same problems.

    13. HR Exec Popping In*

      Most hiring managers at big companies would not find this unusual. A Director level job at a small firm is not the same as a Director level job at a large firm. The scope of responsibility and depth is going to be different. Just tell them that you are looking to take on the challenge of working for a larger organization where you will have to ability to learn and grow professionally.

    14. Katrinka*

      I just had an interview this morning and why I left my previous job never came up (I was fired). I think Alison has said in the past that she didn’t think was going to be as much of an issue for the next while, because so many people have lost their jobs.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      This is pretty easy actually!
      Moving to a larger company often offers:
      >wider cross-functional team experience
      >global experience
      >stability / benefits / processes
      >better training and support functions
      >advancement opportunities
      >larger projects / bigger budgets
      >better technology access
      >more public exposure or enterprise level clients

      I’m sure you can think of one or two examples that relate to your line of work. Granted, there are also downsides to big companies too, but career-wise it’s good to have worked for one at least once in your career.

    16. SummerBee*

      I’ve had a great deal of success with “There have been some changes in the organization and my current role is no longer a good fit.” In my experience, once I use the magic “fit” word, interviewers will nod and ask no follow up questions about it.

    17. allathian*

      I’d go with that you want larger company experience. Hiring a temp is less risky than hiring someone permanently, although less so in the US when you can basically be fired for pretty much any reason at any time.
      If they’re open to hiring an overqualified person for a temp position, it’s entirely possible that in a larger company, there could be other opportunities later, if you’re a match. That’s not something you can take for granted, obviously, but mentioning that in the interview could show that you’re interested in the company in the longer term and see the temp position as a way to get your foot in the door.

    18. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Is the temp position tied to a specific project or goal? My husband has switched jobs a couple of times where he was offered a short contact to work on a particular company project. Although he ended up working at each place for a few years rather than the original planned fixed term contract, he was able to say that he was interested in the project or had a relevant skill that would help with it. Maybe you could use a similar angle.

  3. Postdoc*

    Question for those in academia: I’m currently a third year postdoc (biomedical). I was planning to start looking for a faculty position next year but the job market looks terrible. Would it be better to wait? Would taking a research associate position in a lab kill my prospects of eventually getting a faculty position? My institution has a strict five year limit for postdoc positions.

    1. BRR*

      Do you have to give notice for the postdoc? I’m not sure why you can’t start looking this year.

      1. Yorick*

        Academic positions hire in the fall for the following fall, so Postdoc might mean they were planning on looking for jobs now that would start next year.

        @Postdoc: I would go on the market now, and you can (probably) stay in your postdoc one more year if you don’t get a job this year.

        1. BRR*

          I know academic jobs hire far out. I’m just not sure why they would wait. What harm is there in looking this year?

          1. ducklet*

            for some added context, the faculty job search itself can be like a full time job on its own. I know several junior faculty and postdocs who say they’ve basically put their normal jobs on hold while they apply because it takes so much time to craft documents and prepare for the faculty job interview. So there’s a definite question of whether the investment is worthwhile given the current opportunities.

            1. Postdoc*

              That’s exactly the problem. If I start a faculty search it will take up a lot of my time that I could otherwise used to write grants or do more experiments to make me e a better candidate the following year.

            2. Oldbiddy*

              this. it’s a lot of work to apply and interview, so if you think you don’t have much of a chance it’s better to really maximize your productivity in the coming year, especially since COVID-year is shaping up to be a shitty one in terms of hiring. If you think you have a good chance, then it’s a harder call and will depend on the norms in your field. I interviewed very early in my postdoc (this was in the 90’s) and got some interviews and one offer. I had followed the usual advice of only applying to places where you’d take a job (location/reputation), but sometimes you don’t know the real atmosphere until you interview. Unfortunately, the morale in that department was horrible and it was full of dinosaurs who really let their sexism flag fly, even by 90’s standards. I turned it down and interviewed the next year. I have no way of knowing for sure, but people talk and I got the impression that this hurt me the following year, both my having a reputation as someone who turned down a job and someone who didn’t interview well.

    2. Casey*

      After some deliberation (and approximately 20 co-op applications that have gone unanswered…. not great for the self-esteem!) I’ve decided to finish my undergrad degree this upcoming academic year instead of taking a gap year to work. I was thinking of taking off because I’ve HATED doing online classes for personal reasons, and I don’t have much faith that the next year will be better. But it’s looking like the best option, so let me ask: how can I kick *ss at this? I need to bring up my GPA to get a significant raise at work after I graduate, and/or get better opportunities, so I need to do well but I also need to stay sane. I’d love to hear about your home office/study setup, strategies for making it through when your professors aren’t exactly at the forefront of digital pedagogy, how to stay on top of assignments when you don’t have physical classes to go to. Anything and everything would be helpful!

      1. schnauzerfan*

        The advice I give to our students is to treat school like a full time job. Give it an honest 40 hours. By “honest” I mean if you’re searching for information on your topic and fall down a reddit rabbit hole, deduct the 2.5 hours you spent mucking around from your 8 hour day. Meet up with your study group? Great. But assess how much study and how much social actually happened. 30 minutes work and 45 minutes bs? Fine. Give yourself credit for the 30 minutes. Nothing pressing to do? Check the syllabus and read/work ahead. Meet your profs/TAs and talk about the assignment. Submit drafts and incorporate the critiques in the final project. Make a Master Syllabus with all the things you need to do and keep track of your progress towards each goal.

        Then when you’ve done your honest 40 hours give yourself a break. Ride your bike, play Animal Crossing, meet up with friends (online or in person Covid willing)

      2. Math grad*

        One of the best things I did to help with studying was switch to PDFs of all of my textbooks on an iPad. Selling my paper books more or less paid for the iPad. I am much more likely to engage with the material when I can take notes or work through equations right on the same page as the text (you can fit a lot in the margins when zoomed all the way in).

        I also found it helpful to have designated uses for my electronics. My phone was for wasting time online. My iPad was strictly for taking notes and looking up school related materials online. My laptop was strictly for typing up papers.

        The tomato timer method seems to be a popular time management strategy. You sit down to work and set a 50 minute timer. When it goes off, you take a 10 minute break. Then you can either go back to the same task for another hour or switch to a new task. I couldn’t make it work, but a lot of people with time management issues swear by it.

        It’s probably not as much of an option given the current situation, but leaving my house to go study at the same time everyday really helped me. If you have the space, designating one area as your work area and only using it for work might help. It wouldn’t give you as much distance from the distractions of home as leaving the house, but it might be better than nothing.

        As far as dealing with professors who aren’t great at online teaching, you have a few options. My first recommendation would be to try attending whatever form of office hours they’re holding. That gives you a chance to get some one-on-one help with specific topics you’re struggling with. Teaching online makes it hard to know when a lecture isn’t making sense (it might be pre-recorded, you can’t see body language or facial expressions, etc.), so a professor who would have offered an alternate explanation in class won’t know it was needed. Office hours give you a chance to get that other explanation. It also gives you a chance to discuss things you wish they were doing differently. Most professors do care about their students; they just need some help learning how to help students learn online. Next year is likely to be a bit better than last year because they will have had time to prepare for an online course. Universities basically threw their faculties under the bus last semester; they were given a week’s notice and no guidance.

        The other thing you’ll need to do is start looking for multiple textbooks for courses where that’s a possibility. Sites like stack exchange are usually good for suggestions. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) read all of them, but having access to multiple explanations of a topic is usually helpful. For textbooks with exercises (math, physics, etc.), do a lot of extra exercises. It’s easy to watch a video or read a worked example and feel like you know what you’re doing. The only way to know for sure what you don’t know is to do lots of exercises.

        In the event that things feel like they’re spiraling out of control, you’re going to need to triage things. If you need your GPA to go up, you’ll want to use a GPA calculator to see how much it’s possible to raise it and how much each class will effect it. If there’s a class that’s eating up a lot of your time, you might be better off accepting a lower grade in order to free up time to focus on your other classes. It’s easy to focus so much on not tanking one class that you lose sight of how much it actually matters. The same goes for individual assignments. Some assignments take a ton of time for relatively few points. It doesn’t feel good, but sometimes it’s worth phoning it in on low value assignments. It even goes for exams. It doesn’t matter if a problem is worth 20% of your exam score; if you don’t know how to do it, you need to skip it and focus on the problems you do know how to do. I’ve seen a lot of students let tunnel vision hurt their GPAs.

        Hopefully some of that wall of text is useful for you. Most of my experience is with taking and teaching math courses, but some of it should still be applicable to other departments.

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I’ll second the recommendation for the triage method, especially as you mention that the faculty are not on the cutting edge of digital pedagogy. There is a lot of reading, exercises, videos and overall ‘fluff’ jammed into an online course when it hasn’t been carefully designed and curated. I supported an online learning management system for 3 years and worked alongside instructional designers so I’ve seen this from both sides of the house, so to speak. It sounds ruthless, but you have to eliminate time wasting activities that the instructor thinks are worthwhile that don’t drastically affect your deliverables (papers, tests, discussions, presentations) and your grade. If you have spare time after completing these tasks, you can dive into the other work. A good learning management system has a ‘calculate my grade’ function where you can enter your expected scores into the gradebook to estimate how your overall course grade would suffer if you slacked on some assignments. I would recalculate weekly to see if I could drop time consuming work that was assigned low point values or rapid deadlines, then go back and complete it if I was finished with the more valuable work.

          Also, make sure to give yourself enough runway to have a few days in the quarter/semester where you do zero work….either you’ll be sick or mentally exhausted, have internet outage or another unexpected bump in the road. For my Sunday due dates, I’d try to complete 90% of the work on Saturday and just give the final result a polish rather than waiting until 12 hours before the deadline to start work that I know would take 2-3 hours.

          1. BethDH*

            Also, look at what projects/tasks are worth the most and put those on your calendar to work on earlier. This is obvious when it’s the final project, but when there are medium size assignments you can end up in trouble if you only start them as early as things like reading responses or discussion posts.

        2. Amethystmoon*

          When I was getting my masters, I got most books in electronic. A couple of times I will say though that whatever was on Amazon, it was literally missing pages. I had to ask a classmate to send me a screen shot of what the assignment was. It was embarrassing.

      3. Mid*

        My planner was my lifeboat basically. I wrote down everything. Before the term started, I wrote down all the dates in the syllabus. I wrote down the reading schedule. As soon as a professor told us a deadline, I wrote it down in my planner. Then, for big projects, I added smaller deadline within it so I would have to keep working on it before it was due.

        Also try to keep yourself on a schedule. If the classes are pre-recorded and watch whenever you want, try to make your own class time where you watch the lectures on a regular basis. Create structure for yourself.

      4. Tessera Member 042*

        As an online college instructor, here’s a few tips:
        -At the beginning of the semester, take the syllabus and put the due dates for each assignment into your planner/digital calendar. Not all course management systems give reminders, and not everything you have to complete for class will get a reminder.
        -Beware of the screen medium triggering your brain into “skim” mode when you need to read thoroughly! Take breaks and refocus as needed for longer readings.
        -For time management, literally schedule your day as if you were doing classes in person. Have dedicated times to work on things for each class. If you know you concentrate best in the morning, put your most-intensive work then (writing essays, doing projects, etc.) and save the reading/discussions for another time.
        -Please ask questions early and often! Also, know when a question can be solved by a quick email and when you might need a phone call/video chat to really understand what an assignment is asking, why you got the grade you did, etc.
        -Locate other resources for times your professor isn’t super helpful – Writing Center, tutoring, librarian for research questions, classmates for study groups.
        -If you’re a social person, you might want to set up “virtual work dates” with people (college friends, classmates) where you all get on a video chat, set your goals for the work session, and work with the video in the background, with brief progress checkins. I found this really helpful for finishing my dissertation remotely this spring.
        Good luck!

      5. Thankful for AAM*

        This is not quite what you asked but my spouse is faculty – we see over and over that students who do well, attend office hours, students who do poorly, never ask for help.
        I am not saying go to office hours just to go, but if you have any questions, see your focus dropping, anything, talk to the prof! Mine is finding that more students are coming to virtual office hours than came to in person hours. It is working really well.

        I loved my virtual grad school experience (finished last year) better than my first in-person masters. The things I loved compared to the in-person were:
        -the social/chat side of things. My classes created FB and other social media groups for the class – we would often be using it during the class. It made it much more engaging for me (and I’m a boomer, not a native computer user).
        -that if the prof was incredibly boring (you cannot just lecture online like it is the classroom!) I could do other things for the class during the class.
        -that I did not have to park, ever!
        -that I could move during class without disturbing anyone – I could stretch out, walk, whatever
        -that I could stay in my house, in my room with my desk, my supplies, my computer – and did not have to haul any of it.

        Not sure if any of that helps but I focused on all the things I like.

    3. Rainy*

      Typically if you can keep publishing in the associate role, you can keep a foot in the door. If it’s a prestigious lab or doing exciting or very timely work, you can spin the experience as making you more valuable as faculty due to connections, a better grasp on obtaining funding, that sort of thing.

      I’m going to say that the job market in academia is going to look tough for a few years at the very least–universities are hemorrhaging money right now, and funding lines are evaporating. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In has been keeping a crowdsourced document of (mostly US) institutions and what they’re doing with searches–if you google you should be able to find the document, it’s on google drive–and that might be helpful.

    4. whistle*

      Former academic here, so my advice may not be the most current, but I see no reason to wait to apply for faculty positions. If you don’t get an offer you just keep doing your postdoc. But what if you do get an offer? Not to be a downer, but in academia a single offer is hard to come by, so you gotta take it when it comes.

    5. AlsoPostdoc*

      Also a postdoc (US). COVID has killed my faculty job search plans. I’ve started to to feel like the only way to a faculty position in the next 2 years is through a K/R/other funding, as grim as that is. I’ve had colleagues who had their offers revoked when faculty searches were cancelled this Spring, and those people are still on the market now. Meanwhile you get all of this “cohort” of aging-out postdocs to compete with too…plus explicit hiring freezes at basically any institution, worse if there’s a hard-hit hospital attached? And only 5% of us got a faculty job in the before times? Who knows, maybe the people like you will be helped out by the on-the-fence postdocs like me who are spooked out of the market and go for industry…

      That said, if your goal is faculty, do not take a research associate position. Maybe a “senior research scientist” or (better) a soft-money research faculty job–something where you will be able to operate (& publish!!!) independently, and also where you’ll be eligible to apply for your own independent funding. Ideally something where you could have a path to a senior authorship.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        That said, if your goal is faculty, do not take a research associate position.

        I agree with this. I took a research position and later found I was no longer competitive for faculty positions. I was getting large grants and publishing, but somehow it didn’t count in the same way. Also, golden handcuffs became a real issue, when I was looking at a 20-30% pay cut for TT faculty positions.

        1. Postdoc*

          Does it make a difference if the research associate position is in the same lab as my current postdoc position? Essentially, I could continue exactly what I have been working on but they would convert me to a research associate if I hit that five year wall.

          1. CatsAway*

            I think that’s fine. I was a Postdoc and I knew a lot of people who considered themselves to be post-docs but were officially classified as some sort of research scientist, for a variety of reasons. For example: the department they were in only someone be a Postdoc for 3 years and then they had to become a research scientist, but they were still on grant money and looking for other jobs, or they ran into that 5 year clock but the lab still had funding for them, they needed to be classified as a research scientist to be a co-PI on grants etc. My institution has different job number classification for post-docs depending on where you get your funding from and every institution calls Postdoc’s something slightly different so as long as you’re still in a lab and publishing first author papers I don’t see that it would be an issue.

            I would guess that Ann O’Nemity is talking about a research associate position outside of academia. (At the very least no soft-money lab based research associate position pays 20-30% more than a TT position).

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            Actually, I do think that may make a difference. You wouldn’t have a separate employer listed on your CV.

    6. OtterB*

      This is really field-dependent, so if you have a mentor or advisor (or better yet, several of them) you can ask what they think will happen. But my guess is nobody really knows. (I’m currently doing some research on this in computer science – changes to hiring plans, what new PhDs are doing, etc. And it’s all up in the air.)

    7. Paraclete*

      As a faculty member I would suggest that post-docs should be continuously applying for faculty positions. Apply widely (i.e., internationally if at all possible) and keep an open mind about what types of institutions you might like to work at.

      If you don’t find anything this year, you still have your post-doc. No PI will ever be annoyed if you leave for a TT position – they will be happy for your success and probably quite pleased to continue collaborating.

    8. blackcat*

      Apply to stuff. At worst, you do the work of getting your materials together and it makes applying a year later easier. Even better, you get practice interviewing. Best is you actually get a job.

      I applied to TT jobs ABD. I am in STEM, and this is Not Done, but my advisor encouraged me to do it for practice. If I had not just had a baby, this would have been excellent advice. It turned out to be bad advice because “Apply for practice!” turned into “Fly all over the country for TT interviews that are overwhelming and exhausting while my infant is going through medical crises and needing surgery.” I don’t think that is likely to happen to you for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I expect interviews next year to be conducted remotely.

      I did three fly outs that first year, and all three of them went terribly (2 were my fault, but one really, really was not. Holy dysfunctional department!). But the following year, I was an old pro and interviewed like a boss and landed a really great job.

      So I offer the same advice my advisor did: apply for practice.

      As for the taking a research associate position, I have no idea. That is field dependent. In my field, it typically reads as “This person was geographically bound for a while and so wrote grants and found themselves a salary” which is very much *not* a bad thing since it generally proves you can find money! But this is very field–and even subfield!–dependent. I would ask your postdoc advisor and other mentors in your specific research area.

    9. Manchmal*

      I’m an academic in the humanities. What’s the downside of going on the job market besides the time involved?

      1. BethDH*

        Depends on what you’re doing now and what you expect to be doing in future years. If you’re somewhere where you can focus on a few publications without having too many service obligations, that can help if you do get a TT role and need to produce lots in a stressful time. I’m not in one but all of us are taking on extra service responsibilities due to coronavirus related stuff and it’s especially high pressure for the EC folks who are also struggling with getting lots of publications out, especially since often humanities people don’t publish much if at all as grad students.

    10. Not for academics*

      Would it be better to wait?
      No, start whenever you want and have the time.

      Would taking a research associate position in a lab kill my prospects of eventually getting a faculty position?
      Probably not, but it depends. Getting a faculty position anywhere is already basically a zero chance, so it’s already a lottery. But if you end up with never ending postdocs, yeah it doesn’t look as good as someone who didn’t. Your best bet to secure long term steady employment is to get hired on as a lab manager, research associate, or something similar and plan to stay there indefinitely.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      Start applying for faculty positions, *if* you’re at the point in your field you would normally do so. But apply for good postdocs as well.

      I’m not sure about biomedical, but in my field (physical sciences), you’d be at the point to start applying for faculty positions, but would be on the junior end, particularly for more prestigious institutions – two postdocs and about five years of postdoc experience is pretty normal. Less than that and a person is either a superstar, or going for a non tenure track position (project work, for example).

      There’s a good chance you won’t get anything your first year of applying. Or your second. And maybe your third and fourth. So waiting will get you more papers, probably, but the competition will still be fierce, and you’ll be more senior, so you will be expected to have more papers anyways. And definitely don’t count on getting something before your five year hard limit at your current job – so apply for good second postdocs as well as faculty positions.

      I wouldn’t count on the job situation being better in a year or two. There’s a definite time lag between the larger financial situation and academic funding. Two years from now, a flood of budget cuts for research will be decimating hiring. Also, if you’re American and in the US, the suspension of new J1 and H1-B visas means that right at this moment, you won’t be competing against international applicants.

    12. amoeba*

      I’d start preparing everything now. Don’t know if it’s the same in your field (chemistry here), but I’ve had the impression that preparing the application and mostly writing the research proposal/teaching statement etc are a lot of work in the beginning, but then you can reuse most of it… Also heard from a lot of people that it’s really valuable to write those, also for yourself and your ideas and plans for your independent research.
      In my field (in my countries as well), I probably wouldn’t recommend going for a research associate position first – but they’re also really uncommon and generally kind of a “dead end” (or, more positively speaking, designed to be pretty permanent ;))

      Also, at least here in continental Europe, people are definitely still hiring I’m academia, I’ve seen quite a few postings and also know people who recently got a position, even with interviewing during COVID. But again, might be different elsewhere (US, I guess?)

      But then what do I know, I’m finishing my postdoc and moving to industry in a few months ;)

  4. Lena Carabina*

    How are you all managing during covid-19? Have your employees started to open up?
    How are you balancing working from home with everything else?

    Perhaps we could share concerns and tips on coping here if that’s within the spirit of the forum?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Managing as well as possible. Annoyed, of course, but also grateful I have the kind of job where I can work from home and not have to wear a mask all day and be in contact with the general public all day. Workplace is slowly starting to open up, but desks are spaced out, so you have to actually make a reservation to come into the office.

    2. Web Crawler*

      I work from home 95% of the time anyway, but it’s amazing how much of a difference that last 5% of the time makes. I’m having a very hard time staying motivated without seeing anyone in my team face-to-face every once in a while. It feels like I’m getting burned out, despite the work itself not having changed. Or maybe that’s just called depression.

      (Currently medicated and recieving therapy for anxiety and trauma stuff.)

      1. womp womp*

        My workplace is transitioning back into the office and frankly I feel far more isolated here than I did working from home. We’re all in temporary desks set up in work rooms, empty offices, and storage areas and cannot see anyone. We are discouraged from talking and told to chat via IM instead. We have to diligently wear masks and wipe down everything. I’d rather be breathing free back at home where I can at least hang out with my dog and do calls with my colleagues where we can talk freely.

        1. Choggy*

          I’m curious about why your company even decided to do this? What is the point if what you are doing is nothing different than working from home? Why the need to come into the office at all?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            They may pay rent for the space and feel like they want to get their money’s worth. I once worked for a company that paid per cubicle, so the president of my division was very wary about letting people work from home.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Some supervisors fear that chairs hunger for butts and will come after the supervisor’s if there aren’t enough supervisees in the building to satiate them.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I love it! Considering I had one high ranking manager get really, really offended when I called it “Butts in seats management”, it’s really funny.

          3. laughingrachel*

            It’s possible that some employees really really wanted to.

            My company is planning something something similar in Sept, and it’s a voluntary return. No one is required before at least 2021 when they will reassess. I take the virus very seriously but I will be going back in as soon as possible to do so safely. For me it’s because I live in a sub-500 sq ft studio literally opening onto my complex’s pool (RIGHT next to, there are people cheering and chanting and having a whiteclaw shotgun contest ~2 ft from my windows as we speak.) I am just not set up to work from my home, both physically and just personality wise. My productivity has suffered noticeably, not terrible, but not nearly my normal level. I need to work in a separate space than I live in if at all possible. An empty office/storage space/conference room sounds like a dream right now. Ahhh a quiet place not staring at the recycling I have been neglecting.

            I am able to walk to my workplace without touching anything except my door and the door to my office. They provided us with multiple comfortable masks that I can wash and rotate through, and are able to seat us extremely far apart. I am comfortable trading that slightly higher risk for not totally derailing my career plans, and also the knowledge that everyone I would be seeing in the office are all also volunteers who made the same risk/benefit calculation I did. And I’m sure there are some other people with roommates, and such other not ideal WFH set ups who would probably agree.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Honestly, if I worked outside of the home, I’d want my workplace to be set up like this right now. It may be isolating, but at least no one will get sick.

    3. blepkitty*

      My employer is thankfully not forcing me back to the office. I’m still struggling with being home alone all the time, and that plus the state of the world and some work problems pushed me into severe anxiety and depression. I’ve found a good therapist and psychiatrist, thankfully, but I’ve still been dropping the ball left and right at work. Plus I could really use FMLA at this point, for dealing with medication adjustments or really bad mental health days, but I don’t yet qualify for it. My boss seems to expect me to be working at 100% again, and I’m just not there.

      1. alligator aviator autopilot antimatter*

        I’m in a similar boat. I’m grateful that I’m not being forced to go back, even though my state is working on their “reopening.” But I really, really am not cut out for working from home. I’m not managing my time well, my boundaries between “online” and “offline” have been blurring as much as I’ve tried to keep them intact, I’m feeling really isolated and demoralized. I’m grateful to still be drawing my full paycheck, so so grateful, but I don’t really feel like I’m earning it with the level of work I’m actually accomplishing. I feel stuck and I hate it.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yes, Im having a lot of problems too. This week has been all over sleeping and procrastinating. I just don’t have any clear direction and its getting to me

    4. AnotherAlison*

      In March, I was happy that circumstances were good for my employer. We’re an essential business, but most of my 1000+ person location can work from home productively, and we were not allowed to work at the office.

      I would like to get some of that attitude back.

      My state entered the “ending the restrictions” phase in mid-June, and we were supposed to go back to work at the end of last month. Now my state has moved to mandatory masks indoors, and we don’t have any projected date back in the office. I’m a project manager, and for my type of project and team members I haven’t worked with before, as well has having four external partners, remote work and no travel is a challenge. I also have a new scheduler, cost analyst, and project coordinator who have never worked in my dept. before, and the icing on the cake is my director/immediate boss is moving to another division. I’m kind of in the “I don’t wanna do this anymore, wahhh, poor me phase.” I know things are relatively GREAT for me, so I hate that I’m struggling with the situation. Other people love it, but I do know my grandboss is eager to go back too, so at least I’m not totally alone in this.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        To add to my current frustration levels, my August triathlon was just canceled minutes ago. I am not surprised and it’s probably the right move, but they could have made the decision earlier, like when the same org canceled their local July race in May. [Sorry not work related]

        1. AVP*

          In a sort-of-work-related sense, I’m hearing that a lot of similar races and events are actually having trouble cancelling as early as they’d like to, because if the city or state location doesn’t revoke their permits, they don’t get any insurance money, which jeopardizes their future races. Still super irritating, though! And malpractice on behalf of the municipalities to think they were really going to go ahead with things at this point…

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Yeah, I have heard that, too. Jurisdictions ought to go ahead and cancel everything for the rest of this year and save everyone a lot of aggravation. (Although the part that is crazy is youth sports resumed here. How is that safer than adult endurance racing that is not a direct contact sport?)

            1. Taura*

              They keep telling us “student athletics are back on! No they’re not! Yes they are! No! Yes – with masks! No – masks are too dangerous!” Wrt the last statement, I agree just because we have kids faint every year from the heat and humidity alone, they don’t need to be trying to do the football/marching band stuff with a mask on top – but then everybody just needs to agree to no student athletics this year, full stop. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    5. Somebody*

      I’m not. It isn’t the working from home I mind, but my work is fun and engaging and takes place largely out in the community.

      I am feeling uninspired and like the work I am doing now is busy work and not having a significant impact on the systems I am trying to change. It is totally bumming me out.

      I have focused some of my unused energy on hiking, so at least I have something fun to focus my brain on!

    6. Amtelope*

      We’re managing. We’re still working 99% remotely, with the option now to come in occasionally to use work computers/Internet for lengthy video conferences. We don’t currently have a plan for re-opening, and we’ve been assured that even once we do, remote work will continue to be an option. This is good, because a number of people have kids in schools that have announced they’re limiting classroom time to two days a week or one week out of three for the fall.

      Right now the team I manage is operating on the basis of “I don’t care what hours you work as long as the project tasks get done.” We’re hitting our deadlines and getting through this. I think that’s the best we can possibly do.

    7. OTGW*

      I hate it!! My jobs aren’t something that can be worked from home (we’re non-essential, so March-May we were watching webinars) so now that numbers are going down for my state, we semi-opened in June, and then almost full services now in July. But I think it’s too soon. Our patrons are relatively fine so I don’t really have a reason to complain anyways but also…. it’s too soon. And I’m taking summer courses online and I’m just…. tired. I’m done with everything. I’m tired of my jobs catering to the patrons instead of thinking about their employees. But y’know :) we don’t matter anyway :) and i need a paycheck :)

    8. Lyudie*

      My company is being very cautious about bringing us back to the offices…we’ll be staggering going back and it won’t be till early/mid August at the earliest. We’re healthcare-related so I think that helps. Personally I am mostly ok but I recognize I have some privilege in that area: I have a good WFH setup, no pets or kids, practically everything I do can be done remotely (the occasional in-person event I need to help with is fairly rare and of course those aren’t happening now).

      I think one thing that has helped my husband and I a ton is that we both have separate offices in different rooms (though we share a wall). We don’t get on each other’s nerves too much because we have our own spaces.

    9. Generic Name*

      I’ve gotten used to working from home. We can come in to the office if we want, but there are strict protocols (which is good) such as only one person per shared office can be in there at any given time. Most are choosing to continue to work from home, and it’s mainly the front office personnel and field staff who come in to get equipment.

      That said, I’ve just seen my son’s school district’s plan for school in the fall, and I’m struggling with it a bit. Parents can choose to send their child in 100% of the time, and there is no cap for how many people are in the building (meaning it’s not “50% of enrollment” or whatever), OR parents choose to keep their child at home learning remotely. As a working parent, it feels like an impossible choice. My son is a teenager, so I don’t need to care for his physical needs, but I do need to monitor his schoolwork, because I discovered towards the end of the year last year that he was lying about doing his work. My husband is a carpenter and he has been working outside the house for the duration (he’s in construction and works outdoors), so I’m the one who needs to deal with my son’s school work on my own. If my husband doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid. I’m dreading school starting back up next month.

    10. SomebodyElse*

      If I’m honest, I haven’t noticed any difference during this period, besides the obvious of WFH full time. I’m at 100% of my normal productivity and work load. (To be fair I only have an office at my location and don’t work day to day with the others in my location, so even being in the office I’m 100% remote from the team I manage and my extended department) I’m bored and I miss seeing people. I really miss my office plants… allegedly the people who have been in the office during this time have been watering them. I do weirdly miss traveling for work a little bit and think it’s going to be hard to go back to it when that restriction loosens.

      My dog has kept up her normal schedule during this time with daycare, the cats have been loving having me home… apparently I have one that follows teachers schedules, since he hung out with me all day until the weather got warm and now he’s done with ‘work’. Another cat is following construction seasons, as he’s my new summer coworker.

      My employer has plans for reopening, but has no timeline for when that will start. I don’t expect to see my office until at least December and that will only happen if we start bringing people back around Labor Day.

      My team is more or less doing the same work as before, except we had to scramble a little for shared equipment use that could not be sent to a home.

      I’ve had one employee that hasn’t coped well (isolated from help, toddler, non covid illness, and was new to the role when this started). I’ve largely just left her to it for the past couple of months letting her do what she can. It’s hurt the team, but not much I can do, I’d rather have a little work from her than no work at all.

    11. What's with Today, Today?*

      I’m in media. In Texas. Seriously thinking about quitting. The abuse we are getting is real. People think this is fake, the state is days away from disaster and I got called hellspawn yesterday. Fear Monger has become normal, but hellspawn was a new one. I’ve been trying so hard to people informed and safe and I’m starting to wonder if the low pay and constant abuse are worth the mental exhaustion and anxiety.

      1. regular reader, rare commenter*

        I’m so sorry. I’m in Texas too and the amount of people willingly living in ignorance is absolutely unbelievable.

      2. Hester Mae*

        I’m so sorry, Today. There is just so much cognitive dissonance in this situation.

        My work doesn’t have the issues your does, be even so I find myself just not believing this just keeps getting worse because of poor leadership.

      3. Eleanor Knope*

        That is incredibly frustrating, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with it!

      4. Anonnington*

        I hear you. I once worked for a controversial company and got a lot of that too.

        For me, the decision to leave was based on the fact that I shared some of the main concerns about the company. And they didn’t seem to be invested in making the kinds of changes they need to make.

        I can’t comment on your situation, obviously. But I think the unpopular media is playing a key role in areas where the pandemic is growing worse and people don’t know what to believe. Some people probably do take your content seriously. You’re probably saving lives.

        Often, the most unhappy and ignorant people are the loudest. What you’re hearing is probably not representative of your readership / viewership.

        But that doesn’t change the effect, and I get that you need to take care of yourself.

        Just know that you are or have been making a difference and, for that, you deserve a lot of respect. And I think that will come your way in time.

    12. StellaBella*

      Well I just started a new 8 month contract at a place that is moderately flexible. I take a train to work, wear a mask, wash my hands like 10 times a day, and will be working at home some days soon. I have our local covid app on my phone (I am not in the US) and am hoping all goes ok. I am managing my risk ok overall but still worry. We have rising cases so….yeah.

    13. Retail not Retailns*

      It’s a daily struggle – masks do SUCK in the heat and humidity, but then again 75% humidity would suck regardless.

      What’s annoying are some of the new safety measures – at least 3 people got it and are part of what we’re all cursing as “the lunch bunch.” The solution is more “break rooms” and 3 of these are tables outside. We’re also not allowed to spend time in the public indoor spaces – we can buy food on site from the special plague window, but we can only eat in our special places.

      Outdoor breakrooms coming from people who have offices? “I have to eat in my office alone now” one said looking for sympathy. Thanks! I just wanna sit in the AC and the shade on my lunch.

    14. Pamela Adams*

      I am an academic advisor. My university system decided early to stay remote for Fall, and we are strongly encouraged to work from home. I miss my students, but working through Zoom/Teams is manageable.

      1. Syfygeek*

        Our first summer session was online. The second is in person. Groups of students walking together, hanging out, playing basketball, and most not wearing masks. I’m more nervous about what happens when thousands of students are back here, and not following protocols than I have been since this started.

    15. Mama Bear*

      Many of us are anxiously watching what the schools do. There are no great options. Just slightly less bad ones. We were recently asked to re-apply for WFH privileges but a lot of companies are calling folks back to the office. My office never closed but a lot of people are remote now.

    16. Jen RO*

      For now, we know that we won’t go back to the office this year, and “the office will be different next year”. I’m optimistic – my company has handled the situation very well so far.

      Overall, WFH is going pretty great for me, tbh. Before this, I worked in the office 99% of the time and enjoyed it, but I got used to WFH very fast. I already had a good home setup (a desk, two monitors etc), so only minor changes were needed. My industry has not been very impacted by the pandemic, so far, so I’m not afraid for my job. All I need to do my job is a computer, so the only thing I am missing is face-to-face interaction with people… and I lean toward introverted, so I don’t miss it *that* much.

    17. OhGee*

      Doing ok. I’ve been working from home until mid-March and expect to be doing so at least through the end of the year. There are ups and downs to not going to the office — I love not driving every day (my commute is about 17 miles, not the worst, but there are no reasonable public transportation options and it’s a bit further than I’d like to bike) but I am also now around my partner, who will be working from home permanently, almost constantly. We like and love each other, but some variety in our contact with other people would be nice. The three things I did that improved my work from home life are: buy a decent office chair, buy an air conditioner for my office (a guest bedroom), and repaint the walls (a project I’d been neglecting). I’ve also made sure to meditate, do a bit of exercise, and spend time in my vegetable gardens nearly every day – those things all alleviate stress and anxiety for me.

    18. Mockingjay*

      My company (once again, thank you Alison and AAM for helping me land this job!) sent out an all-hands email regarding reopening. Based on state guidance (or lack of), they had slowly begun allowing a few people (who chose to) back into the office. Given the recent massive uptick in active cases (our state is third in the WORLD for active COVID case increases), they are rescinding permissions and going back to 99-100% telework until fall, at minimum.

      I am truly grateful to be working in an industry that can operate remotely and for a company that promotes that option. Management noted that business operations are running very smoothly; we’ve even brought on new staff.

    19. Lena Carabina*

      Ah man I just lost a loooong reply! Grr.

      I like your tips OhGee, thanks for those. You have reminded me that I like and need to do more exercise to help me cope a bit better.
      I am no
      t sure about going swimming (something I usually enjoy, and have missed very much) when the pools open at the end of July here though (England).

      I am struggling being on my own – even as introverted as I am. My employers have been great, and continue to keep our well being a high priority. We aren’t going back to the offices until at least late autumn.
      I would actually like to be based as a home worker and think I could do it – I would be able to go in twice a week for the team meeting, and home and ward visits to our patients, then work from home a couple of days a week.

      My previous line manager, who just went off before the lockdown, was dead against this. He didn’t trust us to do our work (even though our productivity was better) and used to micromanage us to within an inch of our lives. Plus you had to almost beg to work from home sometimes! So it wasn’t worth it.
      Our new boss seems ok with it so I am hoping that wfh will be more of an option than it was before Covid-19.

      I am really having a hard time with uni though. My Masters (psychology) is experiential and requires practice and work placements. They moved the seminars online and cancelled everything else for the last term, even though I felt they could have done stuff via video conferencing, but I guess I understood it because everyone was in the same boat. Anyway. the university just sent us all an email asking us to be volunteers for a virtual open day and I have been furious ever since, especially because we all paid full price for the course that term.
      If they can organise an away day online for people all over the country, they can organise slightly more difficult discussion and counselling type classes virtually as well. So I have not been doing well with the uncertainty there either.

      Sorry for the moan.

      1. OhGee*

        I’m glad I could be helpful! I’m sorry school is challenging right now — that must be frustrating to see your uni managed to organize some virtual programming but not all of the pieces you need for your degree.

    20. Wastin' Away in Margaritaville*

      We’re on WFH for another month at least. Our fiscal year started in July and the budget was 10% lower than last year, which hit benefits hard, but nobody’s furloughed or laid off. The contractors are all worried they’re losing their jobs if there is more cost cutting. Since we’re a non-profit there’s also a big concern that donations will be down because of people not working/working less.

    21. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m having a really hard time.

      My kid not being in school is incredibly hard on all of us. Our babysitter started working for us again in early June, but I’m only just starting to feel like “oh good someone else is on duty” and not “AAAA THERE IS YET ANOTHER PERSON IN OUR SMALL HOUSE”. If I hear my child making noise, it’s really distracting—as a parent, I can’t not pay attention—and of course adults are noisy too. I used to love WFH because I was the only one home all day. Now I hate it because everyone’s here with me.

      Also I realized I’m getting SAD in July, and I’m much less fit, because I never leave the house anymore. Usually I’d spend all summer walking around the city and getting sun and exercise. I miss that a lot. Everyone says “just make time for it”, but overcoming the gravity of being at home is hard without my commute or other appointments as an excuse. The stress of the general situation plus teething plus fireworks has had my kid waking up multiple times a night, so I’m not sleeping. I’m not eating as well as I could either. And no matter how I rearrange my workspace it’s never really comfortable (tried a standing desk with an ergo keyboard, tried a fancy chair, tried a footstool…).

      In summary: my body feels like crap, my brain is full of bees, and I’m too tired and distracted to muster up the focus that my job requires.

      I keep having fantasies of taking a month off from work to take care of myself, or quitting altogether. There’s no real way for me to do either of those things, though, so I’m just struggling along as best I can.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        my body feels like crap, my brain is full of bees, and I’m too tired and distracted to muster up the focus that my job requires.
        I keep having fantasies of taking a month off from work to take care of myself, or quitting altogether. There’s no real way for me to do either of those things, though, so I’m just struggling along as best I can.

        Oh I can relate to all of this! You’re not alone. Big virtual best wishes and hugs to you if you want them.

    22. Amethystmoon*

      I’m doing some social things online, which helps. Toastmasters has totally gone to Zoom now at least until September, which is what our overarching organization tells us. Though groups tend to be smaller now that it’s summer and some people have technical issues with Zoom. I do some online gaming which helps also, but it’s summer, so our groups tend to be sporadic. Being nerdy definitely helps. You can at least get games on Steam to distract you. I’ve been also watching some older TV shows (yay, classic Dr. Who all spring marathon) and crocheting. Reading is helping too somewhat.

    23. Gatomon*

      I’ve been forced back in to the office. The office has had to backtrack to partial WFH as local cases started spiking, but our VP isn’t doing his part by enacting that policy change because he evidently doesn’t take it seriously. I really never did much in-person collaboration previously, and many other teams actually never completely returned to the office. I’ve actually spent several days at my desk as the only person in my area.

      I’ve been surviving in office mostly exactly how I got through the isolation of WFH living alone: constant music or podcasts on my headphones and frankly a lot of phone use just to feel some connection with the world. I’m also goofing around with the motion detectors for the overhead lighting to see if a) I can find a position in my cube that doesn’t trigger any of them with normal movements and b) if I can enter/exit the area without setting them off like a super spy.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        Are you goofing around for a particular reason or just to keep yourself entertained? :)

  5. Not A Girl Boss*

    This week I had an 8 hour remote interview. 8 HOURS! Plus I had to start off the day with a half hour presentation. I almost said no, but job prospects being what they are…

    The particularly frustrating part is that they are all 1-on-1 interviews scheduled for 1 hour, so I ended up with awkward breaks every half hour or so because we end early.
    I also didn’t get a lunch break.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That sucks. I think some hiring managers or employers don’t realize how much more draining an all-day video interview schedule is compared to an all-day in-person interview schedule (which is already a bit draining, just less so).

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        As luck would have it, it was also super hot and humid and I do not have A/C at home. I just sat in a puddle of sweat all day because I didn’t want the background noise from my windows open or fan, and I was extra conservative in my attire.

      2. Remote HealthWorker*

        All day in person interviews are a brutal Marathon where you have to be “on” the entire time.

        At least with this format and the unscheduled breaks you could take 20 mins on the couch to watch your favorite you tube clip, read, play a video game, or something.

    2. irene adler*

      Eight hours??
      That’s a lot to expect from a candidate. Surprised they didn’t schedule in a break or two during that time. Rather inconsiderate if you ask me.

      I had a 3 hour remote interview a couple of weeks ago. This was 15 people interviewing me- in groups of 2-5 people at one time.

      One group did not ask me any questions at all. They introduced themselves and then said “Sorry, we don’t have any questions for you.” They explained that they didn’t want to ask me any questions I may have already been asked by an earlier interview. Who does that? So I had to fill the entire 30 minute time allotted for this interview. Fortunately I had prepared plenty of questions and fired away on them. They were polite and answered everything I asked.

      Having major second thoughts about them.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        …wut? I am genuinely so confused. How weird of them. Or, I guess, you could always view it as “thank you for revealing that your company is full of weird people?”

    3. Yada Yada II*

      Good lord, that was very badly handled on their end. I wish you all the best … even if that company is waving somewhat of a red flag. Kinda hard to tell, the way things are these days. (But, “the ways things are these days” is also turning into a big fat excuse for some bad corporate behavior.)

    4. ampersand*

      Wow, this sounds so draining! No lunch break is rough–it’s odd they didn’t factor that in.

      How do you think the interviews and presentation went?

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Thanks. I think it all went well. I think it would be a good fit, and I like the culture feel of the people who would be my coworkers. But I’d be much more confident if the meeting scheduling wasn’t so yellow flaggy.
        Also, the HR manager bragged about how they recently combined into one time off pool with sick + vacation time (from 10 vacation + unlimited sick, to 15 days off). As a migraine sufferer, that’s pretty much the worst because now I have to reserve all vacation time in the off chance I get taken out by a week long migraine.

        1. ampersand*

          That’s good it otherwise went well!

          I don’t see how going from unlimited to limited time off is viewed as a positive/something to brag about on their end—that is not a selling point for most (any?) potential employees.

      2. charo*

        But if they all ended early, so you had awkward time to fill, then you did have time to eat something then. Be positive.

        I think 8 of these is awful but you have to expect you might have some down time and plan accordingly. Have food ready, a magazine or book, take care of yourself!

    5. nep*

      Sitting here with my jaw on the floor.
      (How common is that, y’all?)
      Man, that sounds rough. All the best, Not A Girl Boss.

      1. Golden*

        My company did this to a candidate and yeah, I could tell the person was having a rough time. (I had no say in scheduling, just got the itinerary the day before). The candidate also had to give a presentation and a whole day’s worth of meetings.

        They were visibly running out of steam (heck, I was running out of steam on my meeting with them) at about the halfway point. One of their meetings was also their lunch break so I guess they had to eat on camera. The hiring manager kept making jokes about it being a long day.

        If I hear of another interview upcoming I will definitely say something to the hiring manager about optimizing the schedule.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          I do think its worth pointing out that the calculus could make this a poor investment for a well qualified applicant. I had to take an entire vacation day, where I can usually flex around a few 2-hour interviews. Also, I had to spend 2 evenings making a presentation. So I was heading into the interview already like “Ugh, this better be the greatest place I’ve ever worked or this was so not worth it.” Not a great first impression.

          Especially since it was a startup, so it felt a little “we haven’t evolved our hiring practices to fit the size of our organization” which was yellow flag-y to me.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        I am in a technical industry, so its not the *most* uncommon thing – but its always been more like 2-3 panel interviews in the morning, and a skills assessment in the afternoon. This was (I just counted) a presentation, a panel interview, and then 8 1-on-1 interviews. And all of the get-to-know-you type.

    6. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

      that’s awkward! Such poor structure on the part of HR or the hiring manager, whomever arranged this. So Sorry! I can only imagine that it was difficult keeping your energy up for such a sustained period… and feeling deja vu for having to (likely) answer the same or similar questions from 8 different interviewers.

      It could have been a panel interview, with maybe two or three sessions, rather than this. :(

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        The deja vu was definitely the worst part. I kept faltering in the middle of a story like “sorry, did I already use this example wit you?”

    7. Unladen European Swallow*

      I totally feel your pain. I also had a full day of remote interviews yesterday: 8:30am-4:45pm. It was supposed to end at 4:30pm, but my last conversation ran over. I’m applying for a fairly senior administration position within higher education, so all day interviews for finalists aren’t uncommon…. but it was still brutal. Mine included a 1hr presentation/Q&A, but I luckily got an hour break a more 15min breaks throughout the morning and afternoon. I was impressed at how thoughtfulyl the interview schedule was arranged – yay for bathroom breaks!

      I also thought about whether or not to turn on my window unit AC, but made the calculation that a general low humming noise in the background was better than visible sweat running down my face.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Oof, thats rough. I know all day interviews can be common but they just are so exhausting. Honestly I’d rather have 2x 4-hour interviews.

    8. KuklaRed*

      That sounds miserable. I would be having serious second thoughts about a place that would treat a candidate so rudely.

      It reminds me of an interview I had a few years ago. I was flown cross-country to interview for a managerial position with a tech company in my industry. I came to the office at the appropriate time and they put me in a small conference room/spare office. I was in there for 7.5 hours straight, with different people coming in to speak with me on a rotating basis. No one ever offered me anything to drink, asked if I needed a bio break, or asked if I would like something to eat, as they all traipsed in during the lunch time hours with their food, eating in front of me while my stomach growled.

      Miserable experience. I flew home the next day and withdrew from consideration.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Terrible. Actually, my first job out of college was like that. I mean, not really, it was very well organized as it was a mass hiring event, but you reminded me of it.
        They provided breakfast at 7am, but the vegetarian option was just fruit and pastries, and then lunch wasn’t until 1pm. I hid in a bathroom stall and scoffed a protein bar during a 5 minute break. Thank goodness I had thought to stash one in my clutch. Now I never go to interviews without one.

      2. Lolllo*

        Do you think they were checking to see if you would take the initiative and tell them you were needing/taking a break and would be back in 10 mins (bio, stretch, walk around)?

        I tend to be hypoglycemic, and if I went that long without eating (not to even address the lack of water, coffee and bathroom breaks!) I would not be in a fit state to be with strangers who were annoying me by being thoughtless. I would have hated to do it but I would have had to said that I needed to take a break to eat and what would work best for them? I am usually go with the flow, but some things require taking the helm.

        Would they have expected your working habits to follow the example set by the interview?

        Just weird. All around!

    9. charo*

      This when a Tuna Pasta Salad w/some vegs. in it really hits the spot. Something premade, cool, one-dish, there waiting for you in the fridge. Maybe some Jello too. Just take care of yourself!

  6. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    “Thick skin” definitely runs along the same lines as “we’re like family here”. This is not a professional operation you’d be signing up for.

    1. Mazzy*

      Was this a stand alone comment or it’s own? Either way, I wanted to comment. At a past job, some of the customers were brusque and with some, there was a language barriers. And we had to make phone calls. So we definitely needed people who could deal with some awkward moments or customers who were perceived as rude, hanging up without saying bye, for example. But the job was good and paid well. And the customers were neutral on us, so they were just being themselves, I learned over time.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is a good reason to use “thick skin”!

        I have had those kinds of customer bases.

        However on the flip side, to counteract the customer base, we were all very easier going with each other. What I hate is “thick skin” to deal with your colleagues. No, they need to just soften their approach or fix their unacceptable way of speaking! Customers though, that’s whole new ballgame.

        But I have so much more patience when someone’s paying us while being a pain in the ass ;)

    2. Cynical B*****

      Gah. The one time I worked for a mom-n-pop shop, they tried that ‘we’re like family here’ bit.

      I felt like the foster child they had taken in for the tax deduction

  7. Anonymous Non-Anthropologist*

    How do people list an unfinished PhD on their resume? I was in anthropology, loved doing the masters (which I will list) and all the coursework, but realized in the field that isolated, unguided work in a foreign country sucks the life out of me. I stumbled into a new career by chance and love it, but I’m not sure how to list the time I spent in the field. I had a grant, so I was technically paid as a field researcher, but I didn’t complete the PhD, just the masters. I’ve had two jobs since then, but both landed in my lap from connections – I haven’t sent a resume out in a while.

    1. BRR*

      You either only put the masters or say course work towards phd in anthropology. Unless the course work strengthens your application for a role, i would probably just list the masters.

      1. Anonymous Non-Anthropologist*

        I guess I’m wondering about the 3-year gap between the masters and another job. It seems odd to list nothing and I wasn’t doing any coursework – I was assistant teaching, then teaching my own courses, then in the field. The research did result in publication, just not a final dissertation.

        1. Rainy*

          The research and fieldwork and teaching can go in their appropriate buckets, but if you are listing teaching assistantships, you need to provide some context, and that likely means leaving in the PhD work.

        2. Hi there*

          I am in a similar situation and list the teaching as a job. Fellow anthropologist here!

    2. Myrin*

      I list mine as “(discontinued)” – I probably wouldn’t list it at all if it was only a year or so but I did it for three years and I don’t want people wondering what I’ve been doing for three years.
      (Nota bene – I’m in Germany and our CVs and stuff differ sometimes drastically from American resumés, as does our educational system, so it’s pretty easy for me to list my doctoral stint the same way I list my Bachelor’s and Master’s, just with the “discontinued” in brackets.)

    3. Txag18*

      Alison actually answered a similar question this morning!

      “Yep, you’d list it this way:
      * Graduate coursework in turtle folk songs, Tortoise College, 2019-2020
      Be prepared to be asked about it interviews — both why you went and why you stopped — but it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

    4. Rainy*

      Did you pass comps? You can list “Coursework toward the PhD” with a date range (beginning after the MA), but if you left ABD, that’s a different thing and gets listed differently. If it doesn’t bolster your candidacy for a specific role I might go ahead and leave it out.

      Make sure to include the research and fieldwork experience. Remember that academic research doesn’t have to be paid to “count” especially for résumé purposes. Experience is experience, and a lot of hum/socsci fields the research is done basically unpaid.

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, if you were officially ABD, I’d list that.

        Otherwise, I’d basically just list the masters under education, then the jobs you held while studying as regular jobs. I’ve seen resumes like this and I 100% get it.

      2. Anonymous Non-Anthropologist*

        The way our program worked is that you passed comps (which was writing a thesis for us rather than exams) and received a masters, then completed other requirements and advanced to candidacy, which I did. I was ABD. Listing the masters isn’t difficult, but the ABD context is weird, especially since I’m not in an academic field. The fieldwork I did – ethnography, interviewing, research, writing, public speaking, etc. – are all relevant to my work in some way.

        I’d like to list something like “Field Researcher” and then the institution and PhD Candidate to make it clear. I don’t want to inflate the work, as though I was hired to be a researcher, but I do want to list the experience, so I’m hoping listing the PhD Candidate status would make it clear.

        1. Reba*

          I mean, I think PhD Candidate (the exact meaning, i.e. “advanced to candidacy”) and ABD are both non-common-knowledge things outside academia.

          I’m not sure I’d put “field researcher” as if it was a job title — you need to highlight all those skills, but as a PhD researcher, your boss was really yourself; you weren’t answerable to others the way you are in a job. I hope it makes sense what I’m getting at.

          What about something like:

          MA, Fancy University, 2016

          PhD Candidate, Fancy University, 2016-2019 [or PhD Candidate — Field Research … etc]
          *Field research in Exciting Country — executed self-directed ethnographic research project, interviewing 50 subjects over 12 months, supported by Very Competitive Grant, leading to lectures and publication
          *Presented research results, other topics in current anthropology [?] at Big Conference, the most important meeting of anthropologists in North America
          *published peer-reviewed scholarly article [or maybe list this in a different place, idk]
          *taught X and Y classes (45 students) as instructor of record, and Z class as teaching assistant
          *completed coursework toward PhD

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            I think I like “PhD candidate”. I have also put a section called “academic research” on some versions of my CV (in the UK) with some stuff I did that isn’t necessarily obvious just from the fact that I have degrees. Maybe something like that could work? Depending on how you word it you won’t be implying that you finished the PhD but can still point out that you did work on that level.

        2. BioMed PhD*

          Did you have a title other than graduate student? Paid positions are commonly called something like “graduate research assistant” or “teaching assistant”, which you could list.

    5. Lost academic*

      I have seen and myself use ABD (assuming it’s true for you). All But Dissertation. Family and financial circumstances made it unreasonable to finish in the time I could take and I also realized there was no planned future value and I was really not going to continue in academia.

    6. cleo*

      I’d list it as ABD or course work completed in your education section.

      And I’d list your actual activities under work – assistant teacher, teacher, field worker. They still count as work even though you were a grad student. That’s what i did for my first few years after Grad school.

  8. blepkitty*

    So since I think a couple people have been following this story, an update: this week, my (surprise!) boss Jane insisted upon reviewing my work before allowing me to send it to the (internal) client. She allowed it through, but we have to meet to discuss it. Also, I asked her for help on the work because it’s pretty clear she hates every judgment call I make. She gave me some advice I hadn’t thought of, yes, but in the end, I still think my way of handling it would’ve been better for what the client wanted. I’ve given up trying to discuss this with her.*

    After I finished, Jane asked me to write up my “lessons learned” from the project. I wrote up half her advice as if it were completely new to me, rather than “this slipped my mind because I’m anxious/human and/or I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing it without Jane’s permission and/or I don’t even think this was a good idea.” I wanted to shrivel up and die doing it (social anxiety problems), but Jane was thrilled, by which I mean she only nitpicked a single word.

    So I’m pretty sure at this point that I’m on a PIP that nobody wants to call a PIP? And I don’t care as much as I should, because I’m clearly not suited for this place.

    I do have to say thank you to whoever told me to imagine myself being an anthropologist observing aliens to keep from crying in meetings. It turns out to be useful not just in not crying, but in following my therapist’s advice for preventing my severe anxious reactions in response to Jane and my other boss’s behavior.

    *How I wish I were better at keeping in touch with people, so that I could ask my most trusted former colleague her opinion on this.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      This sounds so frustrating. Anthropologist is one of my favorites. Another is my image of myself in a scientist’s lab coat holding a clipboard. If you want to give yourself props, carry a clipboard to meetings! Wear a white coat! Stay in character and you can keep your emotional distance. It’s a tough situation, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it.

      1. blepkitty*

        Thanks. Since we’re still all opting to work at home and only having virtual meetings, I could totally wear an actual lab coat for laughs (except I’ve blown my budget for the month on ridiculously expensive ergonomic crochet hooks, so maybe next month, or perhaps a scientist in my family has one I could borrow). Fortunately Jane doesn’t even have a webcam, so I keep mine off when I meet with her.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      That sounds very frustrating. If you have not done so, I would recommend asking your manager if you are on a PIP. This is information you should know so that you know the terms (what exactly they want to see from you and by when) and understand how shaky of a situation you are in.

      1. blepkitty*

        I’ll consider it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they even know what a PIP is. They just instituted formal employee evaluations with goals for the unit *this year*, and my boss didn’t even want to come up with goals for me (months ago, before these trainings began).

    3. blepkitty*

      Oh, also, I finally cracked open the book on doing my job that Jane had sent to me but never gave me instructions for. It’s designed for someone who hasn’t even started working in my career yet and contains a lot of information that I learned during my first student job in the field and/or during graduate school, close to ten years ago!

      And it’s every bit as micromanaging as Jane herself. One bit of advice was to make sure you smile when you answer the phone, because the smile will transfer with your voice! In a book that is not specifically about, say, workplace etiquette, or any other topic that would justify talking about manners.

    4. WellRed*

      Healthy workplaces do not require employees to “write up lessons learned.” It’s infantilizing. Did you write it on a chalkboard. You can’t win with these people but I suspect you realize that at this point.

      1. blepkitty*

        Thanks for the confirmation about it being infantilizing. They’ve been pulling this stuff on me for so many months it’s hard for me to remember what’s normal!

        I definitely know I can’t win. I’m actively job hunting, but trying to stick to the jobs that I actually want (this one was a good pay + allowed me to stay local compromise when I was desperate, that I would’ve been able to stick out for a few years if not for …this insanity), so it’s going to take a while.

        1. Pamela Adams*

          Also, remembering that this idiocy paid for those ergonomic crochet hooks might help.

          1. blepkitty*

            It does in a way, but unfortunately it’s a reminder that I’m pretty much stuck in my career path because it’s that or be poor (or go back to school and take on debt for another job I won’t love; my passion for fiber arts is too fickle for me to make any money off of it). This field turns out to be notorious for terrible management, and I haven’t yet had a workplace in it that *wasn’t* toxic.

      2. AnonymousDirector*

        Maybe they don’t all call this exercise lessons learned, but most well functioning workplaces do have a postmortem process for projects. It helps to ensure that mistakes aren’t repeated and identify how to replicate the wins in the future. This is not infantilizing; reviewing and learning from the past is a normal way adults optimize their work in order to continuously improve.

        1. blepkitty*

          Considering that this comes after months of being trained on things I already know (they’re essential to my career—I’m early career but by no means entry level), with my boss not understanding why I find it condescending that Jane has decided to teach me things like how to use the World’s Biggest Teapot Compendium as if it hasn’t been an integral part of my career for years, and that the thing that makes Jane happiest on her “lessons learned” assignments is if I *pretend I didn’t know the thing she taught me and answer as if I just learned it for the first time,* I’m not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this. It’s infantilizing.

          Also, Jane doesn’t want any actual input from me. If I try to explain why I did something or am hesitant to do what she wants me to, she just ignores me or misinterprets. There’s never any two-way discussion, consideration of my ideas, or even recognition that I am an intelligent human whose ideas are worth considering. (I am, I swear, an intelligent human whose ideas are worth considering!)

    5. Not today, Satin*

      BlepKitty
      Reach out to your former trusted colleague, not to ask about this Jane issue, but just to reopen communications. This instance with Jane underscores the value of staying in touch with trusted colleagues. Don’t feel like that door has closed – think about how pleased you’d be if tomorrow you got an email from trusted colleague.

  9. LikeTheCity*

    What’s the best way to turn in notice when working from home due to COVID? I’m currently not in the office and will be turning my notice in soon. Very glad to get out of a toxic, highly mismanaged workplace but not sure about the best way to go about this since we’re not face to face. Part of me wants to email it and then be done but part of me feels I should call since we aren’t in the office. However, if I call, my manager is liable to make things extremely uncomfortable. I can foresee tears, pleading, etc. (“We’re a family” type workplace, very small, she takes everything way WAY too personally.) Thoughts?

    1. Lygeia*

      I think you get as close to how you would turn in your notice if you were in the office. So a zoom or a call. Yeah, it sucks that your manager might not take it well, but that’d be true if you were able to do it in person, right?

      Maybe have a call or meeting scheduled for right after so you can at least have a firm end time to the conversation? Like “I need to jump off now, but we can continue to discuss offboarding plans throughout the day.” Or something like that.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And a call is better because if the manager does act a fool, OP can always mute the phone and/or end the call early. It’s much harder to end an awkward conversation face to face.

    2. Just J.*

      I feel a phone call is the more professional way to go. I know it will be uncomfortable, but if we were all working in the office and not from home, would you have sent an email or done it face-to-face? The answer to that is how you should handle it now.

    3. toowitchestocomesorry*

      Email sounds like your best bet. She’s going to make this uncomfortable either way, so minimize contact as much as possible. If you do decide to call, have a script and stick to it. Limit your time, but be polite about it.

    4. Lena Carabina*

      Ring your boss then follow it up with an email to confirm. Keep it simple, write a script to help to read off if you need to, and just keep repeating the same message “it’s flattering that you’re keen to keep me here but it’s time for me to move on and I will make sure all my work is tied up for the next person to take over”.
      If your boss really doesn’t get the message and becomes difficult, you can add “I’m happy to work my full notice but would it make sense to finish today?”

      Keep the email to 1-2 sentences just confirming the date you’re leaving.

      Good luck!

      1. OTGW*

        I’d probably also do this. A call is probably more professional, but even if my boss was normal, I’d want that paper trail saying I’m leaving at whatever date. So send the email right after.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You should call. Write down what you want to say and any points you want to touch on, make them brief, then stop talking. If you’re moving on to a new position, write that in BIG FREAKING LETTERS (something like, “I HAVE A NEW JOB”) on a piece of paper and look at it every time your manager makes things weird. This also works for “I AM LEAVING THIS HELLHOLE”.

      Remember that on a phone call, no one can see you roll your eyes. (Definitely don’t schedule a video call.)

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I had to give notice remotely before (not during Covid-19 but still remotely). Honestly, I also had to deal with the pleading, and it was super awkward, but I still felt good about putting in my notice over the phone. You should have an email ready to go as official notice, which you send after the phone call, but make the phone call.

      Just remember—if they try to make it a conversation or a negotiation, hold firm that you’re letting them know you’re leaving; you aren’t asking them if you can leave.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I sent an email. A while back I had to resign on a day that I was working from home. I was going on vacation the next week, so I had to put in my resignation that day. So I set up a phone chat with my boss and it did not go well because she had no idea I was going to resign and it was very awkward.
      So when I had to change jobs during Covid, I just sent an email. I thought that would give my boss the buffer she needed to absorb the information and respond well.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I’d rather have pleading over yelling, but that is me.

      Line up something that you “have to” do before starting the conversation. This could be work related or it could be the famous dental appointment excuse.

      So this could look like, “Boss, I just had to give you a call but I do need to run shortly as I have a [meeting, dr appt, whatever] that I must go to. I am sending you my formal resignation, I will be moving on as of X day, Y date.”

      Boss: blah, blah, blah, boo-hoo, boo-hoo

      You: Yes, I am sad about it also. [Shift focus] I will have X task completed and Y project will be done next week. The following week I will be doing a, b and c to help ease the transition.

      Boss: Boo-hoo, boo-hoo.

      You: Yeah, I know. It has taken me a bit to actually do this because as you say, it’s sad. But I think this change is good for me [launches a new path for me, is closer to home, whatever]. Whoops! OH MY! Look at the time! I have to get going or I will be late for [meeting/appointment]. I will keep you up to date as to what I have completed as we go along.”

      1. Marthooh*

        I came down here to recommend having an appointment scheduled for just after the phone call. You don’t have to say it’s an appointment with a tall, cold gin & tonic! But have something you need to do already planned when you make the call, and turn your phone off for the next hour or two at least.

    9. Laura H.*

      Whatever you decide, do email so that you leave documentation that you do resign and give notice and keep your copy too.

    10. hbc*

      Call. Before you do, rehearse how you’re going to say it, and plan also for what you’ll say to her likely pleadings. (Bonus if you can cite something that she unequivocally can’t offer, like “It’s not about [you/the pay/the bees], I just want a [shorter commute/larger company/new client base]” and keep coming back to that.). I’d also plan for a limit for how long you’ll listen to non-productive stuff, and have an exit line prepped. “I know this was a surprise, but it’s a done deal, and we need to start talking about plans. Can we talk exit strategy or do you want some time to think about it first?”

      I think it’s natural to dread this, but it’ll feel so, so good once it’s over.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      Right now I would prepare my resignation letter, then send it to my manager along with a appointment request for a phone call (phone not video). Have your last day set beforehand and that should be part of your letter.

      This way, they are not blindsided by a “I quit” call out of the blue, but scheduling the phone call at same time means you aren’t slinking away to avoid all discussion either.
      Normally, this would be an in-person meeting first, then email of official resignation letter, but I feel it needs to switch if you’ve been remote.

      1. LikeTheCity*

        Good idea on the switch. I think that’s the issue I’ve been having most, even though I am ready to leave I don’t really want to blindside someone with this phone call.

    12. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Phone call. It may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it’s the closest you can get to an in person chat in current circumstances. Have your reasons ready and don’t allow her to make you feel guilty. You can’t control what she does, you can only control how you react to it. Good luck.

  10. Lygeia*

    What do you do when you aren’t hearing back from a reference that you really need? My options for a manager reference are really limited. Basically I have one good one. I’ve been under the same manager for five years, and at my last company, I had five managers in 2.5 years so I only really have one from there that can speak to my work since the rest only managed me for a few months. I had a good relationship with that one manager while I worked there and tried to keep in touch, but he is not responsive. He doesn’t really have an online presence so keeping up with him has been a failure. And now that I’ve reached out to ask if he’ll be a reference, I’m getting silence.

    So how do I explain that I don’t have a manager reference when the only reason is that the reference won’t get back to me?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’ve made a good faith effort to reach out to the manager, you’ve done what you can do. Since Alison’s said multiple times in the past that prospective employers can contact anyone (not just the references you list), it doesn’t seem wildly inappropriate to just list that manager as a reference (you tried to give a heads-up), and leave it up to the prospective employer to get a hold of that former manager.

      1. Lygeia*

        When I was young and inexperienced, I did that with a reference (my manager for an internship I did). I had emailed her, but she didn’t respond within a couple days and the employer wanted the references RIGHT AWAY. So I sent her info anyway. They contacted her, and she sent me a scathing email about how I shouldn’t have assumed. So this is a risk.

        1. Katrinka*

          Managers should always expect to be contacted about past employees, that’s pretty much a given in any industry. I would think a manager of an internship even more so, since it’s often the only professional experience a newish employee has had.

    2. WellRed*

      How have you reached out to him? And, if you can’t connect him with him, you don’t explain that to the prospective employer because it’s not an actual reference if they don’t agree to be a reference.

      1. Lygeia*

        I reached out on LinkedIn and email (with a follow up). I feel like any more would be pestering.

    3. Kimmybear*

      Is there someone that managed you for a few months on a big project or that you had good relationship with? Even a few months is better than nothing.

    4. Kitano*

      If you haven’t followed up on your first email yet, I would say that’s your first step. But I would also be reaching out to the other managers to see if they’d be able to provide a strong reference, as well. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. Alternatively, if they’re older and you think it wouldn’t hurt the relationship, you might consider calling their office to follow up. I know some older people just hate email and will be much more helpful over the phone.

      1. Lygeia*

        Yeah, I’ve reached out to a couple of other possibilities. It’s just frustrating because they won’t be strong references. They only managed me briefly. And one of them barely knew what I did anyway. I wish I had someone from my current job, but it’s a small company with a pretty flat structure. So even though I was promoted a couple years ago, I’m still reporting to the same person (the managing director). No one else has had any real supervision of my work.

      2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Hi :) Although I agree with the concept, I respectfully **strongly disagree** with your reference to “older people”. (As an “older people person” of 65 myself.) It’s really a matter of preference, regardless of age, whether someone prefers to communicate by email or phone.

  11. Orange Crushed*

    Any scripts or advice for dealing with lots of interpersonal drama and gossip in the workplace? This is an office where all they do is gossip and talk about others. I made a comment to a coworker (nothing bad or mean) and another coworker made a remark about it to me seconds later. Wtf? Yet, I must not be in the “cool group” because I never know what’s going on, which is okay, but I don’t want to be gossiped about either.

    Any advice?

    1. Lygeia*

      Don’t engage. When people try to gossip to you, change the subject to work. “Hmmm… Oh, did you get those updated numbers from Bob?” Over time, people will stop finding you a satisfying gossip partner.

      And definitely don’t add to the gossip. Even innocent comments can get out of control in this kind of environment.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Agreed. You can’t really do anything to “change” the environment, so the best thing to do is to disengage. That doesn’t mean don’t be friendly with people, of course! Just when someone is being gossipy, it’s OK to change the subject, etc. and not spread gossip yourself.

        Pro tip: if you work in a very talkative/gossipy environment and you NEVER talk about yourself at all, people will notice and it can get weird. Participating a little (in normal friendly conversation, not gossip!) will help with this. You don’t have to go through all the particulars of your life or anything, but volunteering the occasional detail about if you’re doing anything interesting this weekend, a good meal you had, participating in a conversation about a hobby you like, etc. Otherwise, in an environment where everyone else talks all the time, you run the risk of coming off as standoffish or secretive.

        1. Up Too Late*

          +10 You can say things without really revealing much about your life. I talk a lot about my dog, his visits to the vet, the cute thing he did. I tell a lot about him and almost nothing about myself.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Put your head down and get to work. Try not to get involved in the gossip or the drama.

    3. VictoriaQ*

      I think it’ll help for one to assume that any conversation with someone at work isn’t going to be private. This is really crappy, and your workplace sounds very dramatic, but if you can’t say something to a coworker without someone else commenting on it, that might be your reality here. Hopefully, not being in ‘the cool group’ means you’ll be on the sidelines for bigger drama.

      You can also try to be exceptionally bland and uninteresting when a coworker comments on something you said to someone else. Hopefully, by responding to things with “Mhmm” and “I’ll think about it” you become too boring for your coworkers to deal with. You might try looking at Captain Awkward for some scripts about this kind of thing.

    4. Third or Nothing!*

      I find it helpful to put some mental distance between myself and the toxic people. I do this by pretending I’m watching a play. It makes it a little easier to step back and think to myself “y’all are acting ridiculous right now” and keep it from feeling personal. This works so nicely when my coworkers start spouting nonsense about the current political climate.

      Also, assume nothing you say or do is private. Assume they gossip about you at least some of the time. You can have some control of the situation by putting them on an information diet and acting professional so that the only things they can talk about are clearly quite petty.

      Finally, understand that their opinion of you has no bearing whatsoever on your worth as an employee or as a person and that they are the ones being mean and it’s not your fault. They would be mean no matter what you do. Again, It. Is. Not. Your. Fault.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “but I don’t want to be gossiped about either.”

      I think you will find it really helpful to just let go of this idea. Think about it. This requires doing something such as duct taping people’s mouths. How do we prevent people from talking about us? The true answer is we don’t.
      Just accept the fact that people can and will talk about you.

      Another helpful bit is to think about the definition of the word gossip. What exactly do you think gossip looks like?

      “Bob became a grandpa yesterday!”
      “Mary has a new car and it’s very nice.”
      “Sue did a great job on her report.”
      Even though each one of these things is positive the speaker is still talking about other people which is large component of gossiping.
      OTOH, negative things can be said such as, “Jane lost her dad last night.” or “Jim had to have his dog put down.”
      It’s helpful to know all these types of life events even though it could be considered gossip.

      The interaction you show here doesn’t really give me a lot to go on but it sounds like a normal work group interaction, such as someone’s news is more up-to-date than the speaker’s news. This happens often enough. Or it could be that you were talking in a space where there were others so since the conversation could be heard, they felt they could chime in. This also happens often enough.

      “Yet, I must not be in the “cool group” because …”
      And here comes Negative Nancy, most of us have her relatives living inside our brains. On one hand, one could argue this is a carry over from high school. But I think it’s a more realistic idea to understand that we all want to be included and fit in to some degree. While the framing might be more toward high school groups, the overall idea is still valid.

      I am going to say this bluntly because at one point this was a hard lesson for me. You can have one or the other, you can avoid all gossip or you can fit in. Reality is that it is useful to know Jim’s dog died, or that Jane lost her dad. And it’s nice to share a moment of joy with new Grandpa or new car owner. But there are other topics that serve no purpose, such as berating people or analyzing every single gesture or word a person makes. This is where I get down in the weeds, I go instance by instance. What are people talking about in this particular conversation? Do I want to be a part of this particular conversation? If no, I make my excuses and move on.

      And worse yet, sometimes the gossip vine is correct. I was 3 days into a job and I was told the CEO was embezzling from the company. It was good information. And I should have acted on it by getting out, but I didn’t. It’s one of the stupider things I have done in life, I can tell you now. In an example like this, you can simply listen. If you feel you must say something you can go with, “I am sorry to hear that.” This does not throw gas on the fire. And in my example here, the fire was raging on by itself without my participation. You can listen to what is being said in order to try to gauge how long you can stay at this job and put up with this stuff if the stuff is over the top. You can’t really change your workplace, though. (Yes, CEO was eventually charged.)

      If you think of it as we work 40-50 years of our lives at least, it’s unavoidable to go that long and not hear any gossip. Interpersonal drama can be handled as it comes up, IF you are the target of the drama stories. If you are thinking about the drama and gossiping now, this will not improve over the years. This will only wear on you more and more. BTDT. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to set a goal such as “I am going to stay here 2 years and then move on” OR, “I am going to save up enough money for a better car/whatever else and then move on”. To me this is the number one thing you can do to survive this environment. If we have a goal or goals, we can do a sprint. It’s the marathons that are a killer and the marathons with no goals in sight are the WORST. I hit 4 out of my 5 personal level goals at that job and finally left when I had set myself up to complete goal number 5.

  12. Treebeardette*

    Any 3rd or night shifters? I have a great opportunity with a big company. When I origi6 applied, they had a 1st and 2nd shift position. They backed filled it with internal candidates. I didn’t like working 3rd shift in my current work place due to supervisors doing questionable things.
    My biggest concern is how lonely I’ll be. I’ll be moving to a new area. I’m single so dating will be a plus for me.
    How do you make friends on night shift? Do you like working night shift? I’m ready to hear all pros and cons.

    1. Gamer Girl*

      I would say: really sit down and evaluate when you feel best during the day. Are you a night owl who already loves to stay up very late, feeling energized the later you’re awake? That’s my mom to a T, and she was even pregnant with me while working nights (11pm to 7am). I think that that’s what made me a night owl!

      She says she really enjoyed getting out of work and having free time in the morning after a long day–she said that it made her feel like she had a lot more time to “spend” after work than a traditional 9-5 because the sun was only just rising. She also really liked being able to schedule doctor’s appointments with very little trouble!

      Longer term, after I was born, it was really great for childcare, as my dad worked 7-3pm, would take over caring for me right away when he got home, while she would go to sleep and get a full 7 hours sleep. She’s a big advocate for one parent working nights (when it works) because it makes childcare much more equitable.

    2. Pontifex Xur*

      Here’s what I learned from being an overnight sysadmin for about a year:
      (Returned to days in March, right before my company started having everyone WFH)

      Pros: If you function well with minimal oversight, or don’t respond well to micromanaging, this will be the best gig you’ve ever had. If you like large blocks of uninterrupted time to hyperfocus on what you’re working on, this is your shift.
      Cons: If you need a lot of interaction with your team or like being able to interface with other departments, you may struggle. If everything is going smooth, you’ll need to be your own advocate for your successes, because the adage of “out of sight, out of mind” tends to ring true for management.

      Things to be aware of: Meal prep game needs to be on point, because takeout options can be super limited depending on what hours your shift encompasses. You’ll probably want blackout curtains for your bedroom.

      I had the best luck making friends with other night-shifters from my company, because making my schedule line up in with the rest of the world was actually really difficult. Overall, working overnights was great for my ability to get work done, and was great for my career, but if I’d stayed on it longer than a year I would have taken a huge hit to my mental health.

      1. JanetM*

        My personal experience is that full-dark curtains don’t really block as much light as one would think, and sleep mask works better. Your mileage may vary.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          If it’s a true, true blackout curtain, it’ll block light except at the gap between the window and the wall. I put stick-on velcro on the wall & the inside of the curtain so I could stick the curtain to the wall better and eliminate that gap. I also had a blackout curtain over my bedroom doorway so I could leave the door open for the cats to go in & out without having a crack of light shining on me. It is hard to find true blackout curtains, I will say. I got mine at Costco.

        2. Dina*

          I can’t sleep with a mask on, but I have blackout curtains. They work perfectly. My room is pitchblack. If yours didn’t block out ALL the light, you didn’t get the good ones.

    3. Sam*

      I worked a night shift (8:00 PM – 6:00 AM) for +2 years. I really enjoyed the lack of traffic and how quiet the office was. As someone who doesn’t buy their lunch, I didn’t really mind the limited food options available in the middle of the night.

      Dating was a challenge but I was usually able to arrange for dates on my off days. I wasn’t in a serious relationship at the time, however, and so I’m not sure what it would have been like to see someone regularly who likely worked standard hours.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      Oof, moving to a new area and doing night shift is tough. I did swing shifts for a few years (~ month of days, month of nights) and…. I didn’t really make any friends in the area at all. I socialized with my other night shift coworkers during work, but not during non-work days. I attempted to join a meetup group in the area, but (a) I didn’t really click with them and (b) I could only attend events about once every two months. My boyfriend lived with me about half the time. Honestly, night shift will be like social distancing– you usually won’t be able to see people in person. I tried to stay on night shift as much as possible on my days off, but not all of my coworkers did. I was 12 hours off everyone else around me, so if I got up early they could come see me at my place. If people wanted me to meet them after their work (7pm?) it would be the equivalent of getting up at 5am for me. I also had 12 hour shifts so I was *exhausted* after every night shift — it sounds like you might have 8 hours, which is less bad.

      My recommendations:
      – Get animal(s). I know not every landlord lets you have them, but it meant a lot to me to have fluffy little cats running up to greet me when I got home.
      – Have hobbies that don’t require people. I am a video game addict.
      – Have online friends in different time zones.
      – Get yer blackout curtains, and if you don’t have blackout curtains, tape aluminum foil over your windows. (You can do paper as a first layer with tinfoil on the inside so you look less like a conspiracy theorist from the outside).
      – Vitamin D supplements!
      – Avoid spending prolonged time in sunlight. It will reset your body’s internal clock and wreck you.
      – When selecting a place to live, look for proximity to both work and grocery stores / doctors etc. This is not the time to get that cabin in the woods an hour from town. So many of my coworkers had stories about drowsy driving.
      – In larger cities, there may be meetup groups for night shift workers!

      Benefits of night shift:
      – generally quieter than day shift. I could work on longer-term projects because I didn’t have to constantly respond to events.
      – shift differential? Usually 3rd shift gets a bonus for being 3rd shift?
      – some people aren’t affected by staying up late, and then night shift is mostly a scheduling inconvenience. I …. was not one of them.

    5. bossynurse*

      I’ve worked night shift for the majority of my 20+ year career, and it’s a good fit for me. Less management and drama around! Even when I was a manager, I liked to go in in the evenings or early mornings because the night shift crew is so chill. Our team is pretty tight and we can rely on each other. I never had to worry about being lonely. In the hospital setting, typically the 1st and 2nd shift positions get filled with internal candidates (usually by seniority) because the 3rd shifters have done their time and want to work days. Just because you take a 3rd shift position, doesn’t mean it’s forever.

    6. Katrinka*

      I would recommend that you find out how long you need to stay in that shift before applying to one of the others. And how often spots open up in the other two shifts. As others have said, you can set up dates or join groups on your days off. Or do video chats in the morning after you get off work. When my then-BF did shift work and I was working 9-5, I would go over on the weekend, read a book or something until he woke up, then we’d order in takeout, have dinner and watch a movie, then he’d go to work and I’d drive back to my place. Later in the relationship, I would stay there all weekend, his roommate and I got along well and would hang out or do work while BF slept.

  13. Cendol*

    So, my partner and I are eloping on Monday. How do I tell my team?

    I am intensely private and never talk about myself. At most, I think my colleagues know I have some number of cats, and I’ve brought up my partner in conversation with my boss before. I have the time we’re going to pick up the marriage license blocked out on my work calendar as, generically, “Appointment.” But we’re a small team and it’s going to be weird if I reappear in-office at some point in the future all, oh yes, I hastily eloped during the pandemic, nothing to see here. We have a virtual happy hour this evening…do I just…blurt it out?

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Nah, tell them the good news afterward. If anyone says, “Oh, why didn’t you tell us?!” Tell them you didn’t tell anyone, even close friends. Even if that isn’t true, it’s a white lie that could make coworkers feel better. Tell them it was exciting and less stressful for you guys to elope and you decided together it was for the best.

      Congratulations :)

    2. ducklet*

      You can tell people whenever you next see them “By the way, I have some good news: partner and I got/will be getting married on Monday!”

      Or you can wait for them to ask “how are you?” and you can say “good – I’m excited to say that partner and I are getting/got married on Monday.”

      I also was involved with a diversity committee at work that I spent a lot of time with but never really brought up wedding planning when I was going through it and none of them were invited so why would it come up? The Friday before my wedding I just mentioned it in response to “what are everyone’s weekend plans?” and I was like “getting married haha.” That got a lot of surprise but in a casual good way.

    3. sub rosa for this*

      Absolutely blurt it out at happy hour! People will be glad to have something to celebrate.

      And congratulations!

      1. NW Mossy*

        While it was a team meeting, this is what one of my colleagues did when she spur-of-the-moment married her long-term partner a few years back. We were all thrilled for her, and in many ways not surprised. Her work style is to act quickly once a decision is made, so why would she be different at home? : )

    4. Been There*

      I think, if you don’t make a big deal out of it, they won’t either. They’ll take their cues from you. So if you don’t want to tell them in advance, and just let it come out naturally when they see the ring (if you choose to wear one), then you can respond with “oh yeah, we eloped a few weeks ago” and gracefully change the subject.

      Alternately, if you do want to tell everyone, the virtual happy hour would be the best place for it. And if you’re excited about it and want them to share in your excitement, then blurting it out would be appropriate lol

    5. Txag18*

      It’s up to you if you want to tell your team. At your virtual happy hour you could say something like “Can I share some exciting news? I got married!” and then show off the ring (if you have one, and want to). You can treat the news as if it’s already happened and just say that you and your partner wanted to go ahead and get married, but didn’t do anything special because of the pandemic. I’m sure people will understand and be happy for you. Congratulations!

    6. Long Time Fed*

      Don’t overthink! I had a coworker who, on a Monday when we were talking about our weekends, blurted out that he got married. We didn’t even know he was dating!
      It’s ok to be a little mysterious.

    7. Tex*

      It’s up to you to tell them before or after. Just don’t delay too much (weeks or months later is weird). But the pandemic gives you the perfect out: we were planning a wedding, but threw the plans out the window, and it became a spur of the moment decision.

    8. The Original K.*

      I had a coworker casually mention that he got married during a random conversation; he, too, was very private so no one knew anything about him. It was very much an “oh by the way, I got married on Friday” kind of thing. We said congratulations, he thanked us, and then he changed the subject. He clearly didn’t want it to be A Thing, so we respected that. I think it’s fine to just drop it casually if that’s what you want to do.

    9. kt*

      Yep, agree with everyone else, and also, feel free to own the awkward if you feel like it’s awkward — like, you can literally say, “Oh, by the way, I’m now going to awkwardly announce I got married on Monday, haha!”

      It’s fine :)

    10. mreasy*

      Or feel free to not say anything unless someone notices a ring…it’s not weird to keep your private life to yourself.

    11. Moonbeam Malone*

      Honestly, whether or not it’s a “hasty elopement,” you don’t owe coworkers some big, formal marriage announcement! Mentioning it casually, whether before or after it happens, is totally fine and normal. Some people are really open about this kind of thing and some keep it quieter and more private – both are fine! Different strokes for different folks.

    12. Tuckerman*

      I did a city hall wedding and emailed my team to say I was taking a vacation day the following day (standard procedure when we’re going to be out of the office). I think it was something like, “Tuckerman, 8 hours vacation Thursday, getting married.”
      I got a lot of excited replies.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I think you might be concerned because they will ask why they weren’t invited? I really doubt many will ask especially if you tell them as a group. You can preemptively cut off those questions by saying it was/it will be a very private ceremony and only a few relatives were/are invited.

      1. Cendol*

        Haha, not to make light of the ongoing awful situation, but I think the pandemic gives me an easy out here (that I used shamelessly and ruthlessly with my immediate family): I wouldn’t want anyone to risk their health traveling to a large gathering right now! No one is invited, except for our witnesses and officiant. :)

        I’m more worried this will lead them to question my commitment to the job. Maybe they’ll make tone-deaf comments about children or joke that I’ll quit too (I replaced someone who left after they got married). I suppose comments like that are easy enough to brush off (and disprove, with time). It just feels slightly icky because I present at work as a cishet woman–in a male-dominated space–but my partner and I are very queer. Not that I ever bring it up! It’s like a double whammy of dealing with vaguely sexist comments *and* being in the closet.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Now I am ticked on your behalf. There’s lots of stereotyping there that could go into legal waters.

          I am guessing that part of the problem is that you get along with these people and you would like to keep it that way.

          Maybe this is useful… or not. I have a good friend who really, uh, doesn’t keep up with modern trends. The problem comes in where I can’t listen to his stereotyping. And some of it is Not Good at ALL. Now this is good friend, so what to do. I landed on the sentence, “That’s. Not. Cool.” I say it in a lower voice, so he has to pause to hear me. He can’t keep talking and still hear me. And I say it in a manner that conveys, this line of conversation is OVER. NOW.
          Since I very seldom say this, he knows when it comes up I CAN and I WILL stand by what I am saying. I mean business.
          And there is something about the sentence, “That’s not cool”. I don’t know how to put it into words…. but it just seems like I can make my point and the conversation can continue on to the next topic.
          FWIW.

          1. BethDH*

            I like this because your tone and cadence leave no room for them to act like you’re not serious or it’s all a joke, but the phrasing takes away their ability to treat it like you’re overreacting.

    14. Cendol*

      Thank you, everyone, for the advice (and the well wishes)! The happy hour seems like the place to mention it, since I probably won’t be seeing my coworkers in person until 2021! I definitely don’t want to send an email!

      I’m sliiiightly concerned some of my colleagues will assume that I’m not serious about my work or that we’re imminently about to reproduce, but I hope/assume they will keep those thoughts to themselves! I’ll do my best to drop the news casually and then change the subject…

      1. allathian*

        Congratulations!
        Shotgun weddings aren’t really a thing anymore, unless you’re a part of a religion that’s still big on virgin brides, and it doesn’t sound like you are.
        If someone does say something stupid, like “you’re not pregnant, are you?” it will probably be less awkward if you can treat it as a joke, but if not, that’s OK too.
        My situation’s a bit different as I got pregnant before I got married. I just told my then-boss in my last 1:1 before going on maternity leave that I’ll be coming back with a new name, and that was that. In my country, more than 70 percent of firstborn children are born to unmarried mothers. The child automatically gets the mother’s last name, if she’s unmarried. If the parents are married and have the same surname, the child gets that name. If both parents have kept their own names, they can choose, and most choose to give the father’s name to the child. But most people who are married have the same last name, usually the husband’s, although it’s getting more and more common for the husband to take the wife’s name.

        At the time, I had a poor relationship with both my then-boss and my closest coworker, so they didn’t even congratulate me (well, they said the words but I could tell they were completely insincere). The only person who did congratulate me sincerely was the person who had been hired to do my job during my maternity/parental leave (I was planning on taking 18 months off, I ended up taking 26, so a temp was necessary).

    15. Katrinka*

      One of my direct reports took a day off and she and her long-term partner went and got married at the courthouse (pre-COVID). A few of us knew about it ahead of time, we let her decide how to tell people when she came back. Most of the time, people coming in would ask how she was and she would say, “pretty good, I got married yesterday.”

      Another direct report got married and we all knew all the details for the entire year she planned it. We knew most of us weren’t going to be invited (there are over 100 of us), but it was still fun, for the most part (she can obsess and agonize over decisions sometimes, so that was….difficult).

      1. Cendol*

        “Pretty good, I got married yesterday”–I think I’m going to steal that! With some temporal modifications, lol. Thank you!

      2. allathian*

        I admit I have a hard time understanding why people expect an invitation to a coworker’s wedding. If they’re also friends outside of work, that’s a different matter, but if they’re just coworkers, why?

    16. Jules the 3rd*

      I got married at the end of my first week of work because the boss let me take the afternoon off (they still didn’t have a computer for me). It was semi-impulsive, we’d decided we were going to get married just hadn’t decided on when.

      On Monday, my manager asked how my weekend was, and I said, ‘oh, it was fun! I got married on Friday, went to a party on Saturday, had fun surprising my friends about the marriage.’ My boss was startled for a minute, but I just treated it as ‘normal but mildly amusing’ and they went with it. I *think* I maybe got a comment a year later, so people remembered it, but it was never a big deal.

      1. Cendol*

        I love this story, especially the way you broke the news! I would have told my very excellent manager right away, but they were on vacation. I hope they will take it in stride like yours did!

    17. emmelemm*

      Trust me, nothing you do will be as weird as the time two of my coworkers came in on Monday and announced they had gotten married – and no one even knew they were dating.

        1. emmelemm*

          Better still – caveat, this was in the 90s – they had driven to Burning Man from WA state, gotten married in Vegas along the way, and driven back.

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

      I probably wouldn’t mention it (although do you have to “disclose” it to HR for reasons about benefits and things like that?) until some time down the line and then act as if it was already known! Or just casually refer to “my husband / my wife” (as the case may be)!

    19. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

      Congratulations!! Well, if you aren’t normally open about your private life, and you aren’t going to start changing your professional name on Tuesday, this news doesn’t have any really urgency or awkwardness, except for how you feel! If you feel you are somehow hiding something, by all means, share. Let them raise you a toast at virtual happy hour!

      I ran off and got hitched myself, and I just told people “Partner and I married on Wednesday last week, neither of us had interest in planning a big event.” For you, it maybe an easy thing to blame the pandemic if people are so nosy to press for details!

      I’d encourage you to not characterize your happy event as ‘hastily eloped’ which connotes (to me at least) something not planned or considered in advance or *gasp* a shotgun wedding!

    20. Mid*

      My job is at a small workplace, so we just send out group emails with any good news, usually with a picture or two attached!

    21. Me*

      You don’t have to tell them. I know nothing about my coworkers personal lives except stuff they’ve mentioned. Donn;t want to mention it, then don’t. OR do if you want to . It’s no big deal either way.

    22. HBJ*

      An elopement, by definition, is getting married without telling anyone. A lot of people confuse an elopement with a “private wedding,” (an elopement is a private wedding but a private wedding is not always an elopement), but it’s perfectly normal to not tell people. I had a coworker who came into the office on Monday having gotten married over the weekend. We were just “oh, wow, congratulations!” I would think people would be especially understanding considering covid.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. When my husband and I got married, we had a private wedding, but we didn’t elope. We just invited our parents and siblings and my MIL’s then-fiance (they got married about a year later). My FIL’s wife was also invited but she declined the invitation, and my FIL didn’t attend the ceremony at the registry office, but he did come to our tiny reception, basically coffee and cake at our house. I was 8 months pregnant at the time and both of us loved the fact that we had the perfect excuse to avoid a big wedding, which neither of us wanted.

    23. valentine*

      You have a great opportunity here. At happy hour, if someone asks how you are? “Married.”

      1. Cendol*

        This is gold. Now I’m tempted to hold off until another meeting next week so I can use this. Lol!

  14. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I am thinking of looking for another job once Covid has calmed down a bit but….I am fat, in my 50’s, and disabled. I know employers can’t legally pass me over for these things, but internalized bias is strong. Any suggestions? Success stories?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish I had some advice. I do remember going through a “you can’t discriminate” training once, and they explicitly told us that even though it’s not good to discriminate against fat people, it’s not illegal to do so (!!!). Yikes. And, we all know that even though age discrimination and discrimination against disable folks are both illegal in many places, that discrimination still happens. I hope someone else has good advice…

    2. windowround*

      I am also fat and disabled, although in my 30’s. My disability is invisible though.

      I think it is important to present yourself well physically and act bright and confident. While someone may be fat you can do still do a lot with hair and make up and clothes to look professional and nice. I make sure I am well groomed and presentable. I speak brightly.

      These things shouldn’t matter but you’re right that they do sometimes. I have found though that in my field there is a shortage of qualified people with my skills so many employers are willing to overlook things about me. One thing you can do to overcome these issues is be a sought after hire.

    3. Kitano*

      I wish I had better advice as well, but I think Allison’s usual ‘you have no obligation to disclose demographic info that won’t affect your prospective employer/job’ advice applies. If your disability is something that would require accommodations from your employer, have a plan at the ready to discuss during interviews to show how you’ve gotten accommodations in the past and how it’s totally not been a problem for your workplace. Then steer the convo straight back to how kick-ass awesome you are as a worker.

      1. Anon Admin*

        I think past advice from Alison is not to say anything about disabilities or accommodations during the interview, wait until you have an offer. Of course if the disability is a visible one, then you need to be prepared to discuss it.

        1. Kitano*

          Yea, you’re right! I guess I was thinking more of ‘you don’t need to mention that you’re fat or in your fifties’ than the disability thing.

    4. Lena Carabina*

      Oof this is hard.
      Part of it is a positive attitude, so highlighting your assets as a worker, having confidence in yourself, telling yourself great things, good grooming, neat and tidy appearance with clothes that fit well (I wish this wasn’t the case, but…)
      Being thoroughly prepared for the interview. They’re impressed by your resume/CV enough to give you a chance in the first place!
      I don’t put that I’m disabled until I’ve got an offer.
      Most of the jobs I apply for use application forms and they have a section for date of birth, which I hate, so I can’t get around that, but if you’re not using a form then list your skills from the most pertinent jobs and don’t put dates on your qualifications.

      And then the rest is up to them. It’s hard, I acknowledge that.

      1. ampersand*

        Yeah, on the one hand, does anyone really want to work for an employer that would discriminate? On the other, sometimes you just need a job. This is hard, agreed.

    5. Txag18*

      Well with Covid going around, a lot of places that are hiring are doing phone or video interviews, so these things might not even be that apparent when you interview. When you do interview, I think you’ll be fine as long as you seem confident in your own experience/skills and dress nicely. I’d say that a place that would pass over people for their weight, age, or disability isn’t a place you’d want to work for in the first place. Good luck!!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I will be 60 this year. My setting is such that I probably have to work the rest of my life. I’d like to encourage you to watch people’s faces. Some people see my middle aged face and my white-ish hair and there is a look of relief on their face. Look for these people with relief on their face, they do exist. Typically, these are folks with a difficult mess in their work place and they need someone who is not afraid of the staggering mess and who will just forge ahead anyway. You can tell when you might be talking to one of these people because they sound tired or beat up by it all.

      From your side of the story, listen to their background. You want to know that they do actually have the skills for THEIR job and they do have the wisdom to remain ethical. Listen closely and you might get a feel for these answers. You might even get a sense that teaming up with them will not only go well on your end, but your efforts will actually benefit them. Remember interviews are a two way street.

      For me, the age stuff started at 46. I started hearing the remarks. It’s ironic you know, when I was 20 I thought the “oldsters” ruled the world. Now that I am in my late 50’s I get the message that “youngsters rule the world”. It is not possible for BOTH messages to be correct. Not possible.

      I think when we go on generalities it does not help us to handle our specific setting. Yes, age bias exists that is true… definitely true. But when applying for a job at Teapots R Us, there is no real good way of knowing if age bias is a problem at Teapots R Us. Alison’s advice is the best for so many people where she says, “Apply, then just forget it. Go find the next job to apply for. You do not have a job until you actually HAVE the job.’

    7. Pamela Adams*

      I work for the state in education,- I was fat and almost 40 when first hired, and am still fat, but added the ‘in my 50’s and disabled’ pieces. Government organizations are generally required to look for/support diverse candidates.

    8. Anononon*

      My mom found a new job at 60 after a lay-off. She’s fat, though not disabled. Since starting, she’s been somewhat of a superstar there.

    9. Alianora*

      Just wanted to share a success story. I don’t know whether my coworkers are disabled or not, but a few are overweight and over 50, and they’re all well liked and respected at the office. This includes our director, who was hired after I started. Nobody mentioned it during the hiring process. I can’t say for sure that no one had any bias against her because of it, but I think most of us were much more focused on her qualifications and personality.

    10. Glitsy Gus*

      Yeah, I get the concern you have. I’m over 40, overweight and trying to find a new job since I’ve been back burner-ed hard core at my current job. So, this means while I do have increasing responsibilities to show year-to-year, I only have one title upgrade.

      What the others have said is a good start. It’s really unfortunate, but making sure you are well groomed is a big one. For my LinkedIn I made sure to use a photo with my hair straightened (I’m white, but I have big, curly hair that has been referred to as “unprofessional” in the past), and I also straighten it for interviews. I invested in a blazer that I had tailored so I know it fits great and have my go-to blouse and pants that I feel most confident in. Just so you know, minor tailoring adjustments are often cheaper than you think and really do make clothes not just look better, but feel and move better.

      As Allison has often recommended, don’t mention accommodations (unless you need them for the interview as well) until after you get an offer and put it forth in an, “of course this is reasonable and won’t be a problem” attitude. If you do need them for the interview that breezy, “I’m going to just figure we are all on the same page that this is fine, because it totally is” voice does go a long way to making it not a big deal, even if in your head you are freaking out. I have a cousin with RA and this is her way of handling things when she needs to ask for things to assist her and 99% of the time it works a treat.

      It really does suck that you need to think about these things but it’s the reality. I wish you the absolute best of luck in your search.

  15. Frustrated Anon*

    How do you deal with feelings of bitterness in the workplace? I’m trying to find a new job and get out of my current toxic workplace. If you’re a hard worker, you’re looked down upon. It’s mostly a place to socialize and do the bare minimum to get by. I can’t do that. I’m good at my job and they admit that, yet I get made fun of by others. I do socialize and make some small talk, but I can’t sit there and chat all day because otherwise my work wouldn’t get done.

    One on one they’re nice, but when it’s 3 or more people, they make fun of you and bully others. I can’t understand this for the life of me. This is happening in my current and it happened in previous workplaces. Why does this happen?

    Am I being naive? Are all places like this? How do you avoid places like this?

    1. Lena Carabina*

      I had to do a few things really because ultimately it wasn’t good for me to be so negative, for my beauty and my state of mind and for the people I worked with either (even though they contributed to the toxicity).
      So just went in and did a good job, stopped bitching about the atmosphere to friends after work because that perpetuated the negativity, looked very hard for another job, took my breaks away from the awful atmosphere, and got personal counselling for a few weeks through my EPA.
      Wishing you the best.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        Lol “for my health”, not for my beauty.
        I wasn’t bothered by how it affected my looks :D

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          I thought it was interesting too! :) For the beauty of your heart and soul and mind!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          how interesting that I didn’t even notice that my eyes filled it in as ‘beauty sleep’ which my mom used to mean she did or didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

    2. Liz Lemon*

      Have you been at this job long? I ask because I had an almost identical experience when I first started working. I was the sole introvert in a small, “we’re like family!” company and my personality clashed badly with most of the others in my department. I made small talk sometimes and was as kind and friendly as I could be, but it’s a job and I came here to work and learn, not make friends. This went on for about two years before, well, everyone just got used to me and things sort of died down. I started dishing out what I got and I made it clear that the constant bullying about not wanting to chat or socialize the entire work day was not going to fly with me. What also helped was the instigator of it all being fired for unrelated reasons.

      I find that places that advertise themselves as “close-knit” or “like family” tend to resort to bullying-style social interactions, until they decide you’ve been there long enough to fit in. I’m sorry this is happening to you and I know it’s frustrating, just know that it ISN’T your fault. It seems like a clash of personalities to me.

    3. Centralperk*

      All places are definitely not like this. I was in a toxic work environment before I moved to my current job. Many employees were undervalued for their expertise and underpaid which lead to a huge exodus because of it. I knew I wasn’t willing to stay in a toxic environment so I began applying to other jobs. One of the things I kept in mind was that I wasn’t desperate to find a job. This allowed me to be careful in what I applied for and I could be choosy.

      Here is what I did: I started my research with Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. to understand the culture of a company. If there were consistently bad reviews, I would skip applying there. If there are more positive reviews than negative, I would give it a shot. Also, as Alison has shared in her advice, a job interview is just as much you deciding if a job is a good fit as it is they are deciding if you are the right candidate. I asked questions during the interview about the culture, employee moral, etc. My current boss spoke so highly of the company and how much they do for their employees that I knew it was the kind of company I wanted to work for.

      I’m really happy that I made a change, and that I was thoughtful about it. You don’t want to rush trying to leave a toxic environment only to land in another. Best of luck to you in your search!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There are companies that enjoy failure and success is frowned upon. They can have a culture of martyrdom, also. “Oh we work so hard and no one appreciates. The big wigs make big bucks and we make nothing. blah, blah, blah.” But this is the tip of the iceberg there is lots more running besides what I mention here.

      In my place it happened because of corruption at the top. Since there was outside funding coming in it did not matter if people did their jobs well or not. The money flowed anyway. [Not all funded workplaces and not all the time, of course. But this can be one cue.]

      One of the ways, you can deal with this is to constantly remind yourself that when you leave you will take your skill set with you. I got very used to organizing my work in the most efficient manner. I really learned how to streamline at the old job because people … uh… worked when they felt like it. So I met my new boss and she thinks I am a power worker. No, I am just good at organizing my work flow so I don’t waste time. What you take for granted about yourself here, will impress your next boss. Trust me on this one.

      You are not naive. They are. If you want to see a bunch of people with a work ethic like yours, keep reading here. You will see it over and over again. Matter of fact, reading here might be a therapeutic thing to help you sort through the BS you have been through.
      So for bitterness, remind yourself that you will take your skills with you to your next job and the new boss will be impressed. Additionally read AAM daily to help balance out the laziness culture you see daily and to affirm your work ethic.

      As far as avoiding places like this, I would suggest looking at the common threads you see in the jobs you have had that were like this. You only need a couple common threads, so don’t strain too hard here. As you apply for jobs look for places that strongly seem not to have those characteristics.

      When I was 20 my answer to this was to seek job where people of a variety of ages were hired and worked there. Yes, older people can be just as lazy as younger people, that is true. Remember I was 20 when I started this idea and I had to start somewhere. This did seem to help a tiny bit.
      Then I moved to my next common thread, I kept picking small businesses. So I decided to move to a little bit larger type of business and I still retained the previous idea about diversity of ages. So maybe this was a tiny bit better still.
      But I kept going and making tweaks each time I changed jobs. I tried to find something that was different in some way from the previous jobs. And I kept the tweaks that I had made previously.

      Never underestimate the power of goals. Some folks are work to live people and some folks are live to work people. You will see this over and over. Personally, I am some where in that vast middle range. The most helpful thing I can suggest is setting goals for yourself and this can be personal goals and/or work goals.
      Goals can help you move past upsets like these and goals can help you ignore the fact that others don’t work and belittle you for it. Set goals and keep working on your goals.

    5. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      All places are not definitely not like this, though I’ve worked at some that are similar to what you’ve described.

      I’ve had feelings of bitterness at work lately for different reasons. I finally got to meet with my supervisor and discuss them… the message I received was that things were not going to change. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was an answer.

      Similar to what Lena Carabina said, I cannot keep bringing these negative feelings home or carrying them through the workday– it’s horrible for my overall well being and I realize I’m quickly using up the social capital I’d built up with my coworkers. So, I’m making the decision to drop them and focus on finding a new job, trying not to get so caught up with workplace efficiency and such, and take my lunch breaks to leave the building and do something nice for myself. I also need to stop wasting breath on this stuff when I’m outside of work. One day at a time!

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

      I can attest that not all companies are like this, in fact I’m currently the “talkative” one among primarily “keep your head down” types (yes, I’m aware of the impact of that and do actively work to restrain myself!) … Companies I’ve worked at in the past – a bit of a mixed bag.

      I’ve found that it is often departments or other “sub-sections” of a company that develop a culture like this, not necessarily the company as a whole. In one company I worked (many years ago now) the team I was part of had constant tight deadlines, changes in requirements etc and often there was a lot of communication needed, but the “getting work done” rather than “socialising and wasting time” type.
      However, our team was located physically next to a “socialising and wasting time” type of team, which was as good for morale as you would expect!

      I guess in your place if you’re a hard worker, you get looked down on for ‘brown nosing’ or ‘making the rest of us look bad’ or such like? Is it grade school!?

      Why does it happen, simple answer ‘because culture is contagious’ and evidently these people are able to get away with doing the bare minimum so why would they put in the effort to do more (their thinking goes) and then this rubs off on other people.

    7. Not today, Satin*

      Why does this happen? Weak management.
      Culture is a top down flow.
      If hard work is not recognized and rewarded, then it becomes denigrated and mocked.

  16. Notinstafamous*

    I’ve decided it’s time to change jobs. It’s mutual – my employer suggested I start looking for a new role in the next year and I’d already been thinking about it – but how do you stay engaged and on the ball at work when you’re already struggling with the pandemic and several other personal crises (deaths in the family, childcare, a chronic health condition). My job requires a lot of attention to detail and intense focus and I am finding it hard. I can’t quit until I have a new job lined up, but I do actually have to do my job in the interim. Any tips?

    1. Katrinka*

      Wait, wha…..? Your employer suggested you look for a new position in the new year? I’ve never heard of that. Are they going to fire you if you don’t find something else? Are they saying they don’t think you’re a good fit for this particular job or their company?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, the way it’s written makes it sound like the employer is telling OP to find a new job or be let go, which is actually very gracious of them considering most places will just fire you and move on. They’re even giving OP ample lead time to begin a job search if that reading is correct.

        No tips for your focus issue, OP, but good luck in finding something new.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Grief can take way attention to detail- you have lots of griefs here- pandemic, deaths, health and now job situation.
      Stress can pull extra nutrition out of the body and once those nutrients start sliding so does attention span.
      You have many sources of stress here, you probably have times where you cry and can’t stop. Or you might have times where you stare at a wall and don’t do much else. In other words, you have a pressure cooker going on here.

      You might think I have flipped my lid because “I don’t have time for your suggestion!!!”. But my suggestion is to ramp up your own self-care. You can’t keep giving and giving without putting something into you. Self-care can be whatever you want, maybe it’s a grief group, maybe it’s life coaching, maybe it’s whole foods with lots of veggies and fruits. Self-care is whatever you think is going to give you the biggest boost for the amount of time and energy you put into the self-care activity.

      Additionally, look around for help. You can pay it back or forward later, so don’t be thinking about “needing help equals something bad about me/my life”. Maybe you have someone in your circle who can take your child for 1 hour a week so you can just rest or stare at that wall or job hunt or whatever. Maybe you can carpool if you drive to work. It’s amazing how having someone else drive even every other day can be a huge change. Or they drive you on Fridays when you are the most tired. Or maybe what you really want is a different doc, you can ask trusted friends for referrals. I don’t know the particulars of your setting so I am just making wild guesses as to what help could look like for you.
      Pull other people into the mix as you can, don’t try to do this alone. Sometimes life can really suck. But I can vouch for the fact that it can get better also.

    3. Kate H*

      – Be kind to yourself when things slip. Any one of those crises would affect your focus. All of them at once isn’t a fair situation to expect you to deliver at 110%. When you make a mistake, own up to it, fix it, but don’t be hard on yourself.

      – Can you listen to music or white noise while you work? It does wonders for me shutting my brain off so I can focus. Quiet music, instrumental music, lo-fi, white noise, rain/thunderstorms, wave sounds, anything that might occupy your mind so it doesn’t wander.

      – I’ve been having trouble staying on task and organized lately, and I’ve found it helpful to keep an extensive running list of every project, every outstanding email that I might need to follow-up on. Then, at the beginning of every day, I take that list and I make a shorter list of everything that I need to accomplish that day. I take a deep breath and work through the list one task at a time. Sometimes I get through all of it and move on to lower priority projects. Sometimes I have to readjust after lunch, to focus on top priority items and push others back to another day.

  17. Postdoc*

    I think you are over thinking this. I would list it all as “graduate student” and then explain the career change in the cover letter. Leaving before getting the PhD because you decided you didn’t want the career a PhD would be helpful for is a win. I have many friends who wish they had left sooner instead of getting a degree that they ultimately didn’t use.

      1. Anonymous Non-Anthropologist*

        Thanks Postdoc! I’m confident I can tell my story in a cover letter. I do consider it a win and I’ve been really happy with the decision – it was really hard to realize that while I loved the coursework and the writing and presenting, I am not cut out for doing extended solo projects with no end date and no real guidance, for a job that probably would never materialize. I do so much better collaborating on projects that are max a year long, with clear goals and a lot of moving parts to keep me interested.

  18. A Nony Moose*

    I’d like ya’ll’s feedback on something that’s been rolling around in my head.

    My boss has recently gone through either divorce or separation from her spouse…who also works here. He’s changed his nameplate and and e-mail tags so this isn’t idle office gossip. He’s a jerk, and I think my boss will be happier without him, even though I know this kind of thing is tough.

    If the spouse weren’t here, I honestly wouldn’t have picked up on anything based on how my boss has handled things. Looking back, there were times where she (understandably) seemed a little off, but overall she’s handled the whole thing very well, unlike her ex who has spread gossip and drama related to their personal matters.

    My question is whether I can/should say something supportive to my boss. I like and respect her and we have a friendly relationship. I’m torn, because the decent human in me feels like I should say something, but the avid AAM reader in me says to just continue on as normal.

    1. Postdoc*

      Don’t say anything. She obviously wants to keep her divorce separate from her work life. Follow her lead.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel like this is safe to say in regards to pretty much anybody, but especially your boss — don’t bring up someone else’s personal life issues if they don’t bring it up first.

      1. A Nony Moose*

        Yeah, that’s the path I’ve been heading down in my brain. It’s just nice to have confirmation from others sometimes.

    3. Txag18*

      I wouldn’t bring it up specifically, but next time you talk to her you could go with something along the lines of “I know things are stressful right now. Please let me know if there’s anything I can take off your plate.”

      1. Amy Sly*

        I might soften “I know things are stressful right now” to “I imagine things are stressful right now,” but otherwise, perfect. After all, it’s entirely possible that the divorce has been no more stressful or even a huge stress relief for her.

        But yeah, she obviously isn’t interested in using you as a confidant, so offer to provide the help you can and leave it at that.

    4. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      You’re a thoughtful person. :) I would refrain from saying anything, other than a general “Hey there! Please let me know if there’s anything (special) that I can help you with (today).” Depending on her response, you could then add “I’m here for ya” if it seems appropriate in the moment. You may be just what she needs as far as some normalcy during this time, while being discreetly supportive. She will understand and appreciate it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My suggestion is now is a good time to tell her that you appreciate her as a boss and you enjoy working with her.

      Never underestimate the power of a simple statement.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I kike it better than assuming a name change means a divorce. I’ve known women to change their names back simply because they couldn’t get used it it. One did it because a family elder was sad that the family name was dying out, but in that case her husband did it too. (He had brothers.)

    6. Venus*

      I like to tell people, especially managers, when they are doing a good job in the hope that they will continue. I like the initial wording of “I imagine things are stressful right now” yet I would finish the sentence with “so I wanted to remind you that I think you’re a strong and competent manager who supports your employees, and we appreciate it.”

  19. How long do you wait for a raise or promotion?*

    This week’s letter about the social media grad school acceptance got me wondering, how long do you wait when your boss or up has said they are working on a promotion or raise for you?

    My spouse’s boss’s boss’s boss (John) told him John is working on getting spouse a promotion and pay increase. This was 4 weeks ago. Nothing has changed and nothing has been mentioned since. Yes, this is during a pandemic and he works for government (not health related) so things are steady. Everyone is working from home.

    Would you bring it up and ask for status?
    How soon or long do you wait to ask?
    Do you ask someone under the John? Like your immediate supervisor?

    Thanks

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      In the industries I’ve been in, four weeks is nothing. “We’re working on a promotion” is a multi-month odyssey.

  20. a bored designer*

    I want to ask about professional development ideas. I am an instructional designer who has also worked in communications. I have a couple of certifications from td.org. I am interested in moving into management, plus also learning more about topics somewhat related to my role (such as IO psych or org development or program evaluation or even general business topics for managers).

    I am fortunate enough to have my job be fully remote during this time with no change in pay. However, my apartment is small, I don’t get out much, and my side hobbies are just not stimulating enough. I’m going bananas. I think if I could find something structured as far as professional development, it could help a lot.

    Any ideas? My work has restricted budgets due to coronavirus, so I’m sure any of this I do I’ll have to on my own time and on my own budget. I’m willing to pay for something mildly expensive. I was looking into actually going back to school, but that’s a bit too high of a cost for me right now. A certificate or course over several months would be more in my range.

    I saw some things like Lean Six Sigma certifications or the Project Management Institute. I have used LinkedIn Learning in the past. I’m open to book ideas, too. Anything, really!

    1. Options*

      I am also an ID and completed a certificate program though the University of Wisconsin Stout (in the U.S). I was happy with the quality and really enjoyed the instructors (all were people working in the field). They have expanded their certificate programs over the years and I see that have Six Sigma and Org Development. I thought cost was reasonable (I paid on my own). I know there were people in my program from Toronto and Trinidad, so if you are not in the U.S. it could still be an option. I recommend it to people a lot. It was shorter than a graduate degree but the credits can transfer if you want to. I have a Master’s already so I found the Certificate was positive when looking for new roles with out investing in another Master’s program.

      1. Lyudie*

        Seconding looking into universities. I’m currently in a master’s program at NCSU (also an ID! hi!) that is 100% online. There are also graduate certificates as Options mentioned, that will be a little faster and cheaper than a full master’s program. NCSU has a couple of related master’s programs and certificates, and I believe all of it is online.

        1. a bored designer*

          Thanks for these ideas! I had been looking at universities for another Master’s, but it felt like a big commitment right now. I was also a bit overwhelmed with how many online programs exist. I’m in the U.S. so I’ll check out those schools!

          1. Lyudie*

            You can take classes as a non-degree student if you are not sure you want to commit to a certificate or master’s program. Just be aware that at least at NCSU, the “timer” on completing the program starts with the first class, not when you get into the program. You have six years but you might need all of that if you’re working full time like I am…I missed a couple of semesters and am doing summer sessions now to make up time.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’m currently enrolled at eCornell for a graduate certificate in marketing. But they also have data science, technology, leadership, project management, Human Resources, business, and many others.
      It’s kind of expensive, but there are 30% off discounts from time to time.

      So far I like it. Fast moving. Not as intense or as deep as dive as my masters, but you do have to complete and turn in the work.

    3. Calliope*

      Hey! I’m a Wisconsin-Stout ID certificate alum too!

      I know some learning organizations are looking for Project Managers with ID experience because they have a better understanding of the industry than just straight PMs. So a PMP certification (Northwestern has a good one) might be a route to go if you want to get into that area.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Agile development is another big one, especially for anyone potentially managing in a software-adjacent field.
      Don’t rule out community colleges, if nothing else the tuition can be much lower.

  21. Remote HealthWorker*

    I ran into an new issue! One of the companies I am applying to wants a signed release from my boss to interview me.

    My current employer uses their product. The release basically says “you won’t disrupt our business relationship if we interview and potentially hire RHW.”

    I get why they want it BUT I think they are asking for it way too early. If they wanted to give me an offer contingent on the release being signed… fine. Still not happy… but fine. However they want it before they will even interview me? They want me to divulge my search, potentially be put on the top of the layoff pile… all before an in person interview?

    Any thoughts for how to pushback? I’d rather not work with the HR person who screened me but speak to someone in leadership to suggest the letter be required at the point of an offer and not before.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Hopefully you can speak to the hiring manager about this, not the HR person if they’re being pushy. Do you feel you could say, “My current company does not know that I’m interviewing and I’d like to keep it that way for now. In this current climate, it’s going to put me in a very awkward position if it’s revealed at this point.” It’s possible the hiring manager doesn’t know this is going out to potential interviewees.

      It seems like a really strange order to conduct the screening process. Sounds like this HR person is a little out of touch with reality. I would pay attention in the interview to any feelings that this an organizational thing or it’s just one person not thinking things through. Good luck!

    2. Llellayena*

      “I understand why you would need this if you want to offer me a position, but my search is currently confidential so I would prefer to wait until the end of the process.” And the HR person would probably be ok to send this to, but you can add that you would like to discuss this with the hiring manager if it’s going to be an issue.

    3. whistle*

      “I am not able to notify my current boss that I am interviewing for new positions, as this would put me in a very awkward position if I am not selected for a role with your company. I would respectfully request the ability to interview prior to getting the release signed, and I of course understand that this would need to be signed prior to beginning employment with you. I hope we can continue with our interview as I am very much looking forward to it.”

    4. Lifelong student*

      What if your current manager won’t sign? Several people below have indicated that it would be okay if after interview and offer to request that consent from your current manager- but that begs the question. If current manager doesn’t agree- will they pull the offer?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Why wouldn’t the current manager sign once an offer has been made? Unless OP’s manager is extremely petty, I would think they would just sign the release and be done with it.

      2. Yada Yada III*

        This is my question, too. I get that the company she wants to interview with doesn’t want to upset a client company … but I can’t say I’d be willing to let the decision to hire me hinge on whether my current boss is willing. There are just too many reasons why the boss might not “give permission,” and that decision could easily have nothing to do with the OPs current performance and value, or her potential value to a new employer. (I would consider this a red flag for the hiring company. Something is off-kilter in how they value employee and/or client relationships … or there is something very odd about their relationship specifically with the OP’s current employer. None of this feels right to me.)

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      Part of their contract with your current employer most likely includes language that they are not permitted to recruit employees away. Let them know that you do not have a non-compete agreement (assuming you don’t) and that if and when you get to the offer stage you are happy to provide them with a signed letter from your employer. And HR is the appropriate group to have this conversation with as they are most likely the ones requiring it, not the hiring manager.

  22. A*

    Without getting into a political discussion if possible, how worried is everyone about the school situation? I’m job searching and I don’t know how I would be able to fully dive into a new full time job if I’m still juggling 2 students at home, with the possibility that they might need to be shuttled to/from school for 4 hour stints, on every other day or week. I worry this is going to put parents at a disadvantage in the coming months for job opportunities. Any advice on how to broach this with potential employers during an interview? Frankly, I am not going to want to work for a company that won’t show some understanding, but there’s understanding and then there is the reality of what the job needs to produce. Ugh, what a perfect storm.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Any advice on how to broach this with potential employers during an interview?

      Maybe ask how they’ve been handling Covid-19, and what they’ve done to make things work for both the company and the employees? See what they lead with (important to note), but also have follow-up questions.

    2. Aeryn Sun*

      I totally feel you on this. I’m currently furloughed and looking for jobs and the reality is no one knows what the schools are doing. One strategy might be to ask in the interviews how they have handled Covid, to get a sense of how flexible they have been with people because that might give you a sense of how they will handle it going forward.

    3. Nita*

      How worried? I’m weighing whether I should just quit come September, or try to stick it out in case my husband gets laid off in October (his employer has announeced big layoffs coming). And that’s not even my biggest worry. My biggest worry is the thousands of other parents in NYC who will also lose their jobs because no one can work while their kid is maybe possibly in school two days a week, and we won’t even commit to two days or tell you which days. What are they going to do – beg in the streets? Lock their kids alone in the house, go to work, and hope they’ll be OK? I envy the ones who can run for the exits… they say schools elsewhere in the tri-state area will try to open on a regular schedule.

    4. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      The only thing I can offer is total compassion- for parents, students, teachers, etc. Hubz and I don’t even have children of our own, but we do have grandnieces and grandnephews, and we totally feel for you all! Internet Hugs to you and yours!

    5. Anonymost*

      I’m pretty worried about it. My kids didn’t do well with virtual school, especially my kid who has ADHD and other learning difficulties. I am worried about how they do if they have to do another long stretch remote. I also hate having to juggle working and having them home. They’re pretty self sufficient but still need some direction and I hate being the parent who’s constantly telling them to go away because I’m on a call. I’m not planning to job search in the near future, but I can definitely see where it would be an issue. I feel like there’s no good solutions here. It’s tough all around.

      1. Anonymost*

        I think I should also say, I’m luckier than many, many people because my office will have us working remote for the foreseeable future and has been very supportive throughout the crisis, so I don’t have to worry about scrambling for childcare or making the choice between work and my kids.

    6. Katrinka*

      Can you reach out to other parents in your neighborhood or at the school and see if some sort of sharing plan can be worked out where you take turns taking all the kids in your group (or pay one parent to do it every day if they offer)? Depending on where you’re looking, I suspect all the working parents will be (and are) in the same boat – no one knows what’s going to happen and employers can’t make definite plans for their employees who are parents until they know what the schools are doing.

      1. Nita*

        That’s a great idea, but it may not work well in practice. I tried it once, and was it ever a disaster. I was on maternity leave and offered to help a fellow working mom by picking up her child after school and having our kids to homework together. They were in the same class, so same assignments and schedules. You’d think it would be a breeze. It turned out that our kids have completely different learning styles, and by the second day I was pulling my hair out in frustration. We’d get maybe 50% of the homework done, and even that with much sweat and tears. That’s why teachers have to take classes in how to educate…

    7. Teacher’s Wife*

      I am the wife of a teacher and the mother of a teacher and a substitute teacher (teaching while completing a Masters). We are worried about the upcoming school year, especially since our state is a Covid hotspot. Since my husband is over 60, we are considering having him retire. I am immune-compromised and am concerned that I could get sick. My daughter-in-law is planning on home schooling our grandkids at this point. My older son has been teaching remotely and is scheduled to continue in the fall. We are worried about our younger son going back to subbing. We would probably stay in our family bubble until things get better, whenever that is.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      It is going to be a sh** show. Our district was radio silent in March, then sent out an email to half the parents at 3pm on the Friday March 13 saying that spring break was starting two weeks early. And although the teachers did the best they could remote, very little learning was done/retained.

      So I fully expect to find out the day before they’re supposed to start school this fall, whether they will be in school or virtual again.

      There is a school in our area that’s designed to be 100% online. We are looking into enrolling our daughter there, because it might help with the quality of the teaching, but honestly it’s still terrible because then I’m back to working at home and making sure she is learning and not just watching Youtube, and she is not socializing with her friends.

      It’s infuriating that businesses are opening up, bars and theme parks are even opening up ffs, but we can’t have schools.

  23. Two Bosses*

    Is it possible to have two managers from different departments? So far I know it is common to have a manager and another manager who is also the boss of your other manager.

    If my two managers have a different opinion on how to do a project/process/etc. and they are adamant that I do it their way even though I pointed out that the other manager have a different opinion, what should I do?

    I could tell them I am not comfortable proceeding, but both of them might not like that. How do I announce to them that we need to figure out what to do? Do I send both of them an email, reiterating their different opinions and saying once more how we should move forward?

    What is the best approach? Will there be differences of approaches depending if my bosses are from different departments? Are managers with one also being the manager of the other?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve had that happen, and it wasn’t great. They both wanted me to work on whatever department they were in and spend less time working in the department they weren’t in.

      But are you saying your actual manager has different opinions from your manager’s manager (who isn’t actually your manager)?

      Or are you saying you actually have two separate managers that you directly report to, and those two managers are in different departments?

      1. Two Bosses*

        Usually I hear people can work under two managers, with one of being also the manager of your manager.

        I wanted to get advice on both two managers within same dept and two managers within different depts.

    2. 7310*

      In similar situation but had enough capital to spend: called a meeting with both, asked them to work out how they wanted me to proceed and give me written instructions. Worked out pretty well since both were reasonable people and did not realize what the other was doing. YMMV

    3. Buttons*

      That is an awful situation to be in. I would do what you said- compile an email with the direction from each of them, and if you have the experiene and empowerment to do so I would then lay out the approach you recommend. Ask them to please confirm that this is acceptable with both of them. If it is not, then would ask them to please come to a consense and let you know.
      Documentation like this is a CYA. If at review time one of them says that you don’t follow their direction then you have documentation that you were getting conflicting direction and asked for clarification and approvals. CYA CYA CYA!

    4. NW Mossy*

      Possible, yes. Desirable, no.

      The only way this works is if both your bosses put explicit, intentional effort into getting on the same page with each other and maintaining that over time. Ideally, this would be written down somewhere and there’s a regular check-in on calendar to review/tweak it. It would clearly define expectations on how much time you’re to spend on different areas at minimum, with a floating amount that can move between the two as needed.

      If the two bosses in your scenario both report to different people themselves, that’s a warning sign that this is likely to be unstable long-term. Someone ultimately needs to be able to knock your two bosses’ heads together if needed, and that’s hard to do if their management isn’t shared.

    5. Remote HealthWorker*

      I had two manager in two departments. It sucked. Basically you were always pissing someone off. Whole I was knocking out work for Mgr A, B was complaining, calling me I to berate my slow progress, etc. The reverse happened when I would switch to Bs work. Performance reviews were a bizarre back and forth where they would each day how terrible you were, but would highlight what the other person just said was good as a negative. It sucked. If you have a good relationship with their boss, I recommend going to them for advice and showing the emails with differing opinions. If your skip level is with their salt they will fix the reporting structure.

    6. The Green Lawintern*

      I was in a similar situation until very recently (one supervisor just left) – we’re all technically in the same department, but each supervisor had a different area of expertise which some overlap in process. I pretty much didn’t have any issues because one of my supervisors was very laid back and generally deferred to the other supervisor but if a conflict had ever arisen, I would have taken it to our grandboss to resolve since he has final say on everything.

    7. cmcinnyc*

      I did that when I started at my company. My time was split between the two and I would literally get up from one desk in one department and run downstairs to another desk in another department. It was not ideal. After a few months of that, the higher ranking manager got full custody of me, so to speak. I’m not sorry I did it–I needed the job and I proved myself in two departments! But it wasn’t fun. Met a ton of people, though, which was helpful when reorgs came along and I needed to find another internal position.

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

      Do you have two streams of work (each one managed by one manager) or do they kind of.. “co-manage” you doing one set of tasks?
      Which manager is actually part of the “function” that the project/process is for? How does it work with other “Management issues” like performance reviews, dealing with time off, etc?

      Btw, in my experience it isn’t that common to have your manager, and the manager’s manager, both be your boss. I mean in a technical sense they are, but typically you wouldn’t get work assigned and day-to-day management from your “grandboss” if there is a manager in between. Only on occasion for a Super Urgent Request or things like that perhaps.

      1. Two Bosses*

        Sometimes there might be projects where you are inputting data that your manager directs you to put. But the data is going to be examined by manager’s manager, which can also be your boss. Manager’s manager have given you directions on how to enter the data, but your manager gives you different directions and insisted her/his way is better than her/his manager’s way.

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

          Thanks for the context, I’m picturing in that case it probably comes down to whether those differences are about “process” or just about the actual output.

          For example, maybe the Big Boss just cares that “all the information about llamas is correctly entered onto sheet L and all the information about hyenas is correctly entered onto sheet H, the height should be in feet and inches formatted like this, and the weight should be in kilograms with 2 decimal places” (or whatever).
          Whereas the immediate boss gives you more specific instructions like “go through the paperwork and put all the llamas into one pile and all the hyenas into the other, then circle the height and weight, and if they’ve given the weight in pounds instead of kilograms then scribble it out and do this on a calculator”…

          If I’m wrong about that, and the two bosses are actually giving conflicting instructions that end up with a different “ultimate result” (e.g. llama height gets entered as “5 ft 9″ rather than 5’9” or such like) then you do need to get clarity between the two bosses as to which is the “correct” set of instructions.

          Is there anyone else in the company who the data entry is “for” (i.e. who’s the business stakeholder who uses it?), presumably they have some opinion on how it ought to be done.

          Ultimately I think there are 3 possible scenarios here – it’s my first example, in which case you get the same result but just using a different method so it doesn’t matter, or it’s the second case where there is someone else in the business who it’s “for” in which case you can clarify with them which instructions are correct (and feed back tactfully to the involved bosses accordingly), or it’s the case I didn’t mention which is where you have 2 bosses who each have an interest in data being entered into this system, but have different expectations on how it ought to appear. In that case you need to bring that up with both bosses ideally…

          … is the manager’s manager the ultimate “owner” of the data you are inputting or is it for someone independent of those bosses? I think is the key question for this specific scenario.

    9. Not today, Satin*

      Which manager’s process has priority is not your decision, you kick that back to them to hash out.

      It is not your job to manage you. So yes, you need to meet with them both and ask them to come up with a system of assigning work to you that is free of conflicting directions/processes.

      It is best to do this directly and calmly. If anyone has the right to be frustrated, it is you.

    10. Amethystmoon*

      Who actually signs your pay check? That is who is your real boss. I’ve been at a company for years where if you’re support, you do work for different people. But whoever signs your paycheck is your actual boss, and not them.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’ve never heard of this. Everywhere I’ve ever worked the CEO signs all the checks. Nothing to do with who you report directly to.

      2. Deanna Troi*

        I’ve never heard of this either. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, the check was signed by someone in accounting, finance, or HR. Often it was someone in another city or state whom I’d never even met. When I was a Director, I never even saw the paychecks of the people working for me. I did sign approve their timesheets, though. Perhaps that’s what Amethystmoon meant?

  24. Ann Perkins*

    If you suspect your boss/the head honcho of an organization is in a relationship with a subordinate on your level, do you say something? We have no dedicated HR. The boss is essentially the owner of the organization but as part of a parent company that does have the power to remove him, kind of like a franchise relationship. It’s a suspicion based on rumors and things I’ve seen that gives me pause (out of town the exact same days, subordinate given way more chances and promotions than what they’re qualified for, people having seen them together outside of work, both got out of other relationships at the same time).

    Part of me wants to keep my head down and ignore it, but it would be very inappropriate for his position and gives me lots of pause as to his leadership if it’s true, and he would likely be removed if our parent company knew. But I don’t want to go on a witch hunt either. Our parent company does have an ethics hotline, I’m just not sure if I have the obligation to open that can of worms.

    1. WellRed*

      I think keep your head down. Also, I don’t know that that’s what an ethics hotline is used for.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        It absolutely is what the ethics hotlines are for. They’re not there just for very specific situations, they exist as a way to report all sorts of squicky stuff. In a functional environment, cases are triaged and sent to the appropriate area to be looked into. A lot of things end up with HR, or have HR involvement, but it’s not uncommon for Internal Audit, Finance/Accounting, dedicated Fraud departments, Legal, etc to be involved as well.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Definitely something for the Ethics hotline. The favoritism alone is a big problem and the main reason this is the company’s business.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You could call the ethics hotline. A lot of different things get called in, the company will have a process to sort out who needs to address things. They should do an investigation in whatever manner, then take whatever action is appropriate. However, you do not have the obligation to call.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      Check and see if the parent company has a compliance reporting phone or web line. They are totally anonymous generally managed by an external vendor. If you have that way to report it, I would recommend you do that.

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

      You don’t have the “obligation” to report it, but I think you could and should.
      Some of what you’ve suggested is ‘circumstantial’ (I think that’s the proper use of circumstantial!) and/or based on rumours from others, but even so, I get the impression you feel more certain than just a vague suspicion.
      Give them (hotline) the information and they can choose to investigate or not, and then you’ve done your part!

      I wouldn’t characterise it (in your mind) as a “witch hunt”. I take it you don’t have anything personally against this guy (outside of this).

      1. Ann Perkins*

        No, nothing else against him. Overall he’s a good boss and very respected in the organization. That’s what’s making this even harder to wrestle with.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Can you report the favoritism (for which I assume you have evidence?) without competing on the cause (which seems more like suspicion) to the ethics hotline? Say you are concerned because Employee A seems to be getting projects and promotions they are not qualified for and you are worried about the effect on morale.

          1. Shirley Keeldar*

            Oops, that was supposed to be “without commenting” on the cause, not “competing.”

          2. AcademiaNut*

            No, that will really just seem like an employee whining because someone is doing better than they are. Having favourites is unpleasant, but usually not ethics hotline worthy. It’s the combination of favourtism and a personal relationship, or favourtism towards people of a protected class that warrants a call.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think you’re obligated, and I personally would be loath to report anything based on rumors, because I have seen so many situations where rumors like this were started entirely out of spite. Usually spite toward the subordinate.

      But the ethics hotline would be the right place to get reassurance about whether there are grounds for an official report, and if you are burdened about it, calling could ease your mind.

  25. Anon for this*

    Do y’all think it’s alright to ask a question if it’s been 3 weeks since asking Allison? It’s not a particularly exciting question, just something I’m not sure how to handle, but there’s probably a blindingly obvious answer.

    1. Somebody*

      No! I wondered this myself for a bit, but she posted my question after a few weeks of me wondering the same thing.

    2. Myrin*

      I think three weeks still falls under the umbrella of “recently” in Alison’s asterisk’ed sentence, but please correct me if I’m wrong, Alison!

  26. Eleanor Knope*

    Tips for dealing with grief at work?

    Last week, I lost my dad relatively unexpectedly (he was in the hospital with a lung infection that looked like it would clear up until it suddenly didn’t). Complicating things, he had a career in my same field and so everything I do reminds me of him and makes me wish I could call and ask for advice. And I’m 23 weeks pregnant. Earlier this year, I had a miscarriage that I didn’t handle well (tried to just push through and ignore it, then burnt out), and I don’t want to repeat that.

    If he were here, I’m sure he’d tell me to take advantage of my company’s EAP. Has anyone ever done that and have any thoughts?

    Thanks, all.

    1. Been There*

      I have no advice for you but want to send my condolences. I am SO so sorry you are going through this.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take breaks often, even if it’s just a few minutes to step outside or get a cup of tea. I remember being very distracted when my mother’s parents passed away within a few weeks of each other. It’s tough and your mind tends to wander to that grief. Tedious tasks, which were abundant in my role at the time, became difficult to focus on. At times I would just take a walk around the sidewalk outside my office to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Sometimes I would cry for a bit, and it helped to have the space to do so.

      You definitely should take advantage of the EAP if you’re not uncomfortable doing so. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. deesse877*

      Agree with others that you should keep applying. My field is entirely different, but I found there were benefits to staying on top of hiring trends, and continually communicating with letter-writers, even in jobless seasons. If your school is up-and-out for postdocs, you also need to look hungry to maintain your reputation there as well.

      Courage.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Call your EAP! Take your dad’s advice. They’re generally confidential.

      I’m sorry for your loss. Hang in there.

    5. Fancy Owl*

      Definitely take advantage of the EAP! I’ve used mine for COVID related stress and it’s been a great resource. Also, in my experience EAP programs are run by a completely separate company that is contracted by your company. I’m assuming they have zero incentive to break confidentiality and tell your employer who is specifically using the service if they want to keep their reputation and attract new corporate clients in the future. Plus, again in my experience, the EAP company will just refer you to local therapists in your area so they don’t really have anything to tell your employer even if they wanted to.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. EAPs are completely confidential and very helpful. I’ve used them at two different companies with no issues (and my managers never knew).

        I’m sorry for your loss. I recently lost my uncle in May (about five days after my birthday), and therapy has really helped me get through the grieving process. Allowing myself to cry and just feel whatever I’m feeling with no judgment has also helped. Good luck to you and your little one.

    6. WellRed*

      Please take advantage of EAP, but also please make sure you take off the time you need. I should have taken at least another week beyond what I took when my dad died.
      I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. Katrinka*

        This +1,000! Be sure to take whatever the maximum # of days off your company gives you for death of a parent. It’s not jsut for traveling to a funeral, it’s also to give yourself emotional space to deal with the loss. And also reach out to the EAP, that’s why they’re there.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I second this. When my uncle died in May, my company was kind enough to give me a week of paid bereavement leave. The week I would have come back, I already had vacation time scheduled. I took both weeks, and I’m so glad I did – I would have been a wreck coming back any sooner. I cried damn near all day for almost a week, I just couldn’t stop. By the time I went back, I was all cried out and ready to dive back into work as a distraction:

    7. Grumpy Lady*

      If not EAP, try to find a local therapist. When my mom died I was a wreck and it deeply impacted my work. I am so sorry you are dealing with this right now. Please take advantage of the resources available to you. Sending you virtual hugs.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Check out your EAP.
      You can also look for books on grief- these are not horrid. They are informative and most of them are gently written.
      There are also grief groups if you are so inclined.

      If you have PTO available, maybe you can take it strategically-such as give yourself a break by taking a few Fridays in a row off or taking half days on Wednesdays. This would just be a time out from your ordinary routines.

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    9. M. Albertine*

      Yes. I used my EAP to help me deal with infertility and multiple pregnancy losses. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. You are dealing with A LOT! You are allowed to ask for help! (I learned that in therapy.)

    10. allathian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.
      Please follow your father’s advice and take advantage of your company’s EAP.
      I did it last year, when I was almost burned out from a work project that was very demanding and intense (by the end, I had accumulated almost two weeks’ worth of overtime, I’m exempt but they track hours to ensure people don’t work themselves to burnout).

    11. Sam I Am*

      I’m really sorry about your dad.

      Sounds like a good resource for you at the moment, and if you don’t feel any relief you may find yourself with a clearer idea of what support you’re looking for- once you see what ways it’s being offered. Then you can find those things outside of the EAP if not within it. Sort of like doing a test drive or a taste test; even if, at first, you find the ones that you don’t like, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what you do like.

  27. Aggretsuko*

    They did manage to successfully hire someone in my office. The temp leaves on the 21st, the new one starts on the 22nd. I hope this goes well.

    I got In Trouble again this week. Sigh. I’m so tired of inadvertently pissing people off here.

    And yet, yesterday was the first day I’ve felt actually sane since March. Go figure.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I got in Trouble too.
      Now I put on a headset and listen to music while I work so that I don’t hear any of the (constant) convos around me. I have been so happy all week! I had no idea I could work with music on in a headset but I can and got so much done!
      Friends and family are shocked that I have nothing to say about work – because I literally know nothing. It is glorious.

  28. Somebody*

    I am hiring for the first time ever (wahoo!) and I feel like my expectations are high from reading this blog. I’ve gotten 45 applications and only 4 cover letters, one of which is hilarious (I will truly treasure it forever). Is that normal? I’ve gotten gotten several applications from people who aren’t local. Should I assume they want to relocate or they aren’t serious candidates? The job is an internship (neither full time nor permanent) and it is hybrid (part remote, part in person).

    1. Megumin*

      That sounds normal to me. I’ve participated in hiring for several years now, and even for higher level, permanent positions, at least half were not local, and typically only 25% of the cover letters were actual cover letters. Our online app system requires a “letter of interest” be submitted in order to complete the app, but usually they just put one sentence in a word doc that says something like, “I am interested in this position.”

        1. Turtlewings*

          I mean, off the top of my head I don’t know what in the world would go into a “letter of interest.” Even regular cover letters are a massive pain in the neck, and until I started reading AAM I wouldn’t write one unless the application form literally wouldn’t let me proceed without it. I’m sure the ones I did slap together were terrible, because I had no idea what purpose they served other than to make applicants grovel. Job applications are already such a tedious, irritating hassle, I wouldn’t necessarily call someone “lazy” for trying to just get the thing turned in with a minimum of sweat and tears.

    2. windowround*

      My experience is that quality applicants are low in many roles. When you get those rejections that say things like ‘we had many qualified applicants’ that could mean that out of a 100 applicants there were 5 qualified ones and you were number 3 in rank.

      Most times I’ve posted a job ad the quality of applicants has been really poor. That said maybe the job or salary just isn’t good enough to attract people.

      1. Somebody*

        It is a part time internship, so I was only expecting students or recent grads. The salary is very good (there are nearly no paid internships where I am and we’re offering far more money than any retail or food service in the area).

        The quality of the applicants is good, but the lack of real cover letters is shocking! The ad says – twice – must include a cover letter to be considered.

        1. Megumin*

          I think people just don’t really know what a real cover letter looks like, or how to put one together. But that can be corrected with a simple google search – especially because AAM has such good resources on it! But alas. I don’t like how my company’s app system calls it a “letter of interest” because then we get crap like what I described above. We also get multi-page dissertations that are basically narrative forms of their resume, which is exhausting to read.

        2. Katrinka*

          How are they submitting the documents? Could there be a transmission error? At one employer, we had a glitch in the application system where some attachments weren’t coming through. Someone figured it out after about the third cover letter that referenced a resume that wasn’t included when the application was pulled up.

        3. Mill Miker*

          You’re not working with one of those setups where the candidates send in an email, and you only get the attachments, but the actual body of the email was intended to be the cover letter, are you? I swear I’ve heard of that being a thing before.

    3. Mazzy*

      Where are you getting the non-local candidates from? I am finding that some websites like indeed have people from all over the country “apply” and I believe they are fake applications at this point, or they must have some option where one can “apply all” because I’ve had the randomest people from 2,000 who were a total mismatch or were way over-qualified apply, with no cover letter, no explanation

      1. Somebody*

        Yes, exactly, Indeed and LinkedIn. Overqualified, not local, no cover letter. It is completely baffling to me.

      2. Katrinka*

        I have had Indeed send me information about “positions you might be interested in” that were nothing like what I was looking for. I think there are yes or no options in the email, so if someone selected the wrong one, it might send their Indeed resume without any attachments.

        I have also applied to jobs through Indeed that did not offer the option of providing attachments at all. But it did have a box where I could type in text (I compose a cover letter offline and then cut and paste it into the text box. It might be that people don’t realize they can do a cover letter this way and send the application in without it. You might want to make sure Indeed and LinkedIn have your applications properly formatted.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      If you’re dealing with current students — yes, this is pretty typical. Even with grad students applying for positions, I get a lot of applications without cover letters when the application specifically says that cover letters are required. With the lack of cover letters, I think there’s a few factors into why that happens. For one, like someone understands, a lot of students don’t understand what the purpose of a cover letter is or how to write an effective one. Also, I think if they are applying through an application system, but the system doesn’t have a required spot for the cover upload (either the button is optional or there’s simply a spot to upload any materials), then students may be thinking that the cover letter is not actually required. And, writing a cover letter takes time — and as such, students may taking the quantity (apply for as many jobs as possible) over quality approach with their internship search.
      Also, with the non-local thing — are these students at a near-by college or university? Could they be putting down their parents’ address rather than their own temporary dorm/apt address for the upcoming year? But yeah, if you can’t figure out fairly quickly that they may be attending a local institution in the upcoming academic year, move on.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      I would expect what you get is strongly influenced by what the posting looked like to potential candidate, and what the system required them to submit. The lack of cover letters, for example, would tend to shock me less if: your applicants are less experienced on the job market, the ad didn’t clearly say a cover letter is required and/or the interface had no prominent option for supplying one.

      If you have (apparently) well-fitting candidates without cover letter, then the lack shouldn’t be an impediment to interviewing them – especially not for an internship where mentoring about professional standards is part of what they can expect to receive. But a well-crafted cover letter (or indeed any suitable cover letter, to a lesser degree) is a legitimate plus.

      As for the non-local candidates, in itself I wouldn’t assume anything. The address could just be where they’re staying during COVID… but if they’re overqualified then a letter to explain why they think they’re a good fit for the position would be more expected. But again, don’t make super-hard assumptions!

      How much are you bound by a rigid recruitment process? If you have interesting profiles among non-local / overqualified candidates with no cover letter, can you set up 5 min screening calls JUST for those, basically asking “why are you interested?” and (if non-local) “would you be able to relocate here?” and then, based on these answers, decide to proceed or not.

      (BTW if you’re new to this – I found that immediately taking contemporaneous notes and writing half-page summaries after interviews is helpful to better ensure fairness to the candidates.)

  29. Janis Mayhem*

    How do I LinkedIn? Finally started setting up my profile there but don’t want my current employer to know I’m going to send out feelers. I feel like a crotchety old woman having to deal with newfangled gadgets. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

    1. Buttons*

      Just because you are on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you are job hunting. Put your current job in just like a resume. I’ve been on LinkedIn for years and update my job and description each time I get a promotion. I have been at my current company for 7 years and I am not job hunting.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Same here. It’s kind of the best thing about LinkedIn. You can do some not-so-subtle “Hey look at me! I’m pretty great!” with the full ability to say, “oh, I’m just keeping my info current,” if anyone at your current job even notices (which they usually won’t).

    2. YetAnotherGenXDevManager*

      Couple of tips: have a good headshot, and replace the standard cover photo with something related to your field (can even be just a stock photo – I am using a free stock photo that shows lines of code because I am in software dev).

      You can set your settings to be open to recruiters but avoid your current company, but to do that you’d have to list them.

      Treat it like a more expansive resume – but not a paragraphs long one. And make use of the executive summary section to really sell yourself.

    3. Katniss Evergreen*

      Agreeing with the above commenters. Don’t feel weird about searching with LinkedIn as if it makes you look like you have a giant sign that says “I’M JOB SEARCHING” on your forehead. Lots of people decide to follow big names in their field, take in business-related news, or mentor people through LinkedIn, it doesn’t just have to be for job-searching. It’s nice to see people’s work-related accomplishments and anniversaries, for those connections of mine who keep up with it.

      I’m trying to correct LinkedIn misconceptions wherever I find them – a scientific investigator at work once thought he shouldn’t hire anyone who’s on LinkedIn because that means they’re always looking for a job! That’s insane! I told him I update my LinkedIn whenever I finish a big project at work that makes sense to showcase as part of my accomplishments, and use it for professional contacts, because that’s true.

  30. Chronic Overthinker*

    Next week I celebrate my first anniversary at my job. Now I’m experiencing FOMO. My duties constantly shift from more to less, though I do provide administrative/reception services (ordering supplies, handling 98% of outgoing mail, maintain conference room calendars, client intake etc) and for all other tasks I’m essentially an ad hoc employee. When I get assignments, I complete them in a timely manner and have been very slowly been getting more complicated assignments. However, some days have little to no assignments and I feel like I’m being paid just to be a butt in a seat. Should I see what’s out there and potentially miss out on any potential advancement here? (doesn’t seem likely, yet.) Or should I stay and try to grow within the company? Management is very hands-off and expects 90% independence. I just wish I knew what I need to do to prove myself and get that next promotion.

    1. Mockingjay*

      I think a simple conversation might solve your dilemma. Request a meeting with the supervisor you report to or bring this up in your annual review. “Hey, boss, I’ve been here a year now. I like what I do, but I’d like to move up. Can you tell me about the career path?” Or “hey, boss, I find that I often finish my assigned tasks early and have to wait for the next assignment. What should I do in the interim? Is there training I could take?” Or, “I’ve been doing a variety of tasks and I’d like to do more of X. What would it take for me to join the X team?”

      Think about what skills/options you want to pursue, lay out a course of action, and present it to your boss. See what happens and decide from there.

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

      I don’t think there’s any harm in seeing what’s out there… what sense do you have of potential growth at your current company? Are you (by title/job description) an Administrator / Receptionist or are you officially something else but are “picking up” the admin/reception duties?

      Is there any scope for you to think up ‘projects’ (or whatever applies… initiatives etc) and propose them to management?

      I think the crux of it could be a mismatch in expectations (which can be resolved with communication with your boss). Management “expects 90% independence” and you say yourself that you don’t know what you need to do to prove yourself… but I also get the sense you are waiting to be “assigned” things and maybe management are expecting you to initiate more work yourself?

      I can totally see a possible situation (just based on what’s written here) where manager is a little frustrated that “Chronic OverThinker has been here a year and they still seem to be ramping up and only taking on the smaller assignments, when will they start to take more initiative?” and meanwhile you (understandably!) are thinking something like “I don’t have enough background knowledge or organizational context to be able to suggest things proactively, other than being handed individual assignments”

      What are you doing during the time you are just being a “butt in a seat”, for example, do you have any scope to do any individual learning/training or research relevant to the company or industry?

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        CO here. My title is Receptionist/Admin Assistant, but I try to do a little of everything, or take on anything anyone asks. The biggest issue I have is the person I report to doesn’t give me tasks. The other staff in the office are the ones giving me tasks, and they are the assistants to the bigwigs so they are constantly busy. I definitely don’t have the knowledge base to suggest things proactively as I don’t have specific clients, but I have been more proactive about the things I can do. I assist with client correspondence on occasion and create new client files when I can. I don’t think I’m useless here, but I definitely feel under-utilized. I struggle to know what the proper resources are for the things I want to learn. Training would be great, if only I knew what direction they wanted me to go in. I would hate to train on something that isn’t relevant to my position.

    3. Kiitemso*

      Hey, I have a somewhat similar position. I answer phones and emails a lot so I have something to do but some days are slow, other days I have a ton on my plate. You can and should talk to your manager about whether there is something you could do in between your other tasks that could help out with. If you’re judged to be a quick learner and a good pair of hands, they may start putting more on your plate because they know you can be counted on.

      I find in positions like ours, you can carve out a niche for yourself and become indispensable to the company by doing a great job. Then if something opens up they may think “Hey, CO would be perfect for this, maybe we should interview her.” or if nothing ever comes up, at least you’ll leave the place with rave recommendations.

  31. Deschain*

    Has anyone ever applied or worked for the virtual accounting firm Belay? I went through testing and three rounds of interviews, but I’m hesitant now whether I want to work with them. I’ve run my own bookkeeping business for local clients for the past five years, so I’m used to being my own boss and I have a permanent office in my home. But a couple of my clients are closing (pre-Covid decisions), so I thought it would be helpful to find an additional way to get new clients. Even though Belay is very clearly seeking contractors only, the hiring process seems geared more towards employees (entry-level questions like where I see myself in one year and three years, irrelevant questions like what I’m passionate about and what sacrifices have I made for work). On the one hand, I get that it’s still an interview, but I would expect them to want to discuss my work setup, how I handle client issues, what the appropriate turnaround time is, etc. Real work things! Does anyone have any knowledge of Belay?

    1. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

      My last company switched to them because it was cheaper than the onsite one we had then. This isn’t exactly what you are looking for, but I can tell you that they are EXTREMELY rigid about how they work, deadlines, etc. Maybe if they are paid more they have more flexibility but my frustration with them was that they would not budge an inch on anything, it was strictly set up for their system and convenience.

      1. Deschain*

        Thank you! That’s actually very helpful. I’m a big believer in great customer service, and to me that means being adaptable because the whole point of my business is to make my clients’ lives easier. Being inflexible is exactly the opposite of how I work! I really appreciate your insight!

        1. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

          I’m glad I could help. I found our bookkeeper to be pleasant when I had to deal with her directly, but she couldn’t step a toe out of the script. Overall, a frustrating experience. Good luck!

  32. NW Mossy*

    The “ask the readers” thread yesterday got me thinking about how the OP’s individual problem (figuring out how to work and parent simultaneously) is really a collective one. Many people faced with her scenario will take up what many readers suggested – a leave of absence or quitting altogether, because a job can be left but children can’t. How will our organizations cope with a significant exodus of parents from the workforce?

    I think about this a lot not just because I’m grappling with the problem myself, but because my industry (retirement planning) will need to as well. Short-term, it has the potential to be really destabilizing to some teams and orgs – if a few parents end up quitting because their kids’ schools go virtual in the fall, it could tip an already fragile company into outright disaster. Long-term, people exiting the workforce during their prime working years and struggling to re-enter later will have a decades-long hangover effect on savings and growth.

    What I ultimately conclude from this is that as much as we want to push this problem onto parents to “solve” at the individual level, there’s no dodging the ripple effect of their individual choices. If organizations push too hard to have their workers be “normal,” they’ll feed into a broader fall in the workforce that ultimately ends up hurting them more than a year or two of reduced productivity. Organizations that see this risk and adjust expectations early are likely to weather it better than those that put their faith in a rapid restoration of pre-pandemic assumptions about labor markets.

    1. windowround*

      Companies need to be more family friendly, both during Covid and in general.

      The problem is many companies idea of being family friendly is simply to dump more work on co workers who wind up paying the price for parent workers choices.

      While we all need to pitch in for our co workers from time to time it really sucks when companies do things like give all the good holiday dates to people with kids.

      It’s not up to co workers to shoulder this burden. Companies need to hire more people or design the work day to accomodate working parents, not just ask everyone else to pick up more slack.

      1. NW Mossy*

        Your last sentence gets to what I mean about adjusting expectations. The company’s leadership has to explicitly define what is truly critical now, be able to see through metrics how productivity has changed, and set the right mix of people, technology, and process to achieve the priorities without driving any of the three to breaking.

        I’ll also throw out what I think should be the principle for anyone reassigning work from one person to another: what should the receiving person stop doing upon receipt of this new task? We tend to see our work as a fixed set of things that are all equally necessary, but that rarely stands up to scrutiny. In my own teams, I’ve had really good success in driving out pointless work by asking “why do we do this?” and listening closely to the answers.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, it’s not a company or a parent or a non-parent problem. It’s a society problem. When society is still largely setup to assume that there’s always a non-working parent at home, this is what happens. With any luck (let’s be honest, it’s not luck, it’ll be people getting fed up and saying this isn’t working and we need to fix the problem), we will as a society change how things operate. Children require supervision. There is no getting out of that. We require children, or we do assuming we don’t want the species to die out. As such, some of the solutions are going to have come from the government. Paid parental leave, affordable and quality child care, etc.

      And anyone who argues that the free market will solve it – um, we have some pretty good evidence that the free market hasn’t solved the problem, and it’s been decades.

      1. WellRed*

        “When society is still largely setup to assume that there’s always a non-working parent at home, this is what happens.”

        nailed it!

      2. ampersand*

        Exactly. This is what I keep coming back to: American society, in particular, was not prepared to handle a pandemic, and we’re paying for that now. Lots of people just want the economy back up and running without acknowledging/addressing the fact that everything is interconnected and we’re not a nation of robots who can just drop everything and work. There’s no safety net or plan in place to deal with the loss of childcare, schools closing, the need for distance learning, etc., or anything that leads to (like a mass exodus from the workforce, an uptick in retirements, etc.).

        This problem is systemic, and fixing it will require a reckoning of sorts with employers/businesses and leaders. Citizens collectively have power, of course (I have never contacted local representatives and politicians as often as I have the past four or so months), but individuals can’t begin to fix this issue without understanding, compassion, and (most importantly) buy in from the people in charge. They’re the ones making the decisions and telling people they have to be back at work OR ELSE, while also forcing parents to make literal life-or-death decisions. The situation is unsustainable and tragic.

      3. Joielle*

        Yep, this is what I was going to say too. It’s definitely not an individual problem, but even the company can only do so much. Ultimately, the problem is that parents can’t work full time hours and care for children at the same time. The company could pay them for full time hours anyways, but would presumably have to hire more people to pick up the remaining hours, so it just pushes the financial burden onto companies – some of which could certainly afford it, but some of which couldn’t. It’s society’s problem, so we need society (so… tax dollars, collected and organized by the government) to step in.

    3. Nita*

      I think this will cause a lot more problems than people realize. Major social instability, all kinds of unpredictable and unpleasant consequences. A lot of middle-class people will become poor. A lot of poor people will become destitute. A lot of children will be at risk, left with unreliable caregivers, left home alone, falling victims to parents who were pushed to the brink… Getting child care up and running again should be a priority, but we got what we voted for – fools in local government, fools in federal government, and they’d all rather burn everything down and blame the other side, than actually work for a solution. We parents need to be protesting in the streets, but let’s be real, who’s going to watch the kids?

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I’m worried about the impact on women in particular. I feel like the impact from this could have the potential to drive many women out of the work force.

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

      If organizations push too hard to have their workers be “normal,” they’ll feed into a broader fall in the workforce that ultimately ends up hurting them more than a year or two of reduced productivity. Organizations that see this risk and adjust expectations early are likely to weather it better than those that put their faith in a rapid restoration of pre-pandemic assumptions about labor markets.

      I’ve got some thinking to go off and do here, as I’m conscious I have a very “onus is on the individual” way of thinking a lot of the time, even though intellectually I do recognise the more ‘structural’ issues about that.

      The problem I think is that most orgs are just immediately trying to get through this… there’s no point thinking of the “long term” if you don’t get through the short term first. Yes, I know all the downsides of that but in order to be hurt in 2 years time by a long-term effect first your company has to get through the 2 years!

      It seems to be related to the “tragedy of the commons”.

      On a macro level, assuming we do recover from this there will be the same number of openings and opportunities as before, so I’m not sure it’s true that everyone will struggle to re-enter – companies will need to adjust their own expectations (e.g. if before they would have rejected someone due to a resume “gap”) accordingly, and balance will be somewhat restored in that way.

      1. NW Mossy*

        I think you’re right that the “gap penalty” will be reduced somewhat, but it may partially manifest as a “no-gap credit.” Part of why the bias against resume gaps developed is the understanding that there’s some amount of skill/productivity loss over that gap. I think that’s probably overblown (especially for gaps of a year or less), but I can easily see those remaining in work during the pandemic having a leg up in the labor market later on. Evaluating candidates is hard, and objective comparators like gap vs. no-gap are inherently attractive as a way to simplify that difficult process.

    5. Koala dreams*

      I was one of those people, but I didn’t mean leaving the workforce, I imagined a temporary period of working shorter hours or a short leave for a couple of months until you can either switch with the other parent or find a babysitter. Many parents want to work and take care of their children, but many companies prefer layoffs over giving people (including parents and non-parents) the opportunity to stay on and work 6 or 7 hours a day, with split hours for those who need it. I get the dilemma for jobs that must be done at the work site (companies must limit number of people because of the pandemic), but for work from home, I don’t understand the problem. It’s not realistic that employees will never need time off, especially in a pandemic and companies need to plan for that. It’s also good for the future to already have connections with temps who can fill future roles. Students, parents and caretakers can need a temporary job now, and still want a full-time job in a few years time.

      As a society, we need to start considering caretaking work essential, just as food and electricity. I feel many of the plans for the pandemic are very unclear on how caretaking work is supposed to be done, it’s like the decision makers don’t see it because it’s unpaid work.

      In the future, I hope for the six hour working day. Companies produce more and more, but it’s not sustainable for society, not for nature and not for the climate. With a shorter working day people could have more time for life. I think, I hope, that people will make better decisions for society as a whole when they have the power over their time, as opposed to companies and the market having the power.

  33. Emily Elizabeth*

    During these weird COVID times, how would y’all recommend resigning from a job when you’re technically already laid off? I am a preschool teacher who was already mildly job searching when the virus hit. I was laid off from my school with communication of full intention to bring me back in the fall. In the meantime, I’ve kept interviewing, and just accepted an offer for a new school this past week. I know it’s time to rip off the bandaid and let my boss know I won’t be back in the fall, but how should I resign when there’s no 2 weeks to give or loose ends of work to wrap up? Should I email, call, apparate 6 feet away from my director? I feel terrible leaving my kids and the school when we never got a real chance to wrap up last year.

    1. whistle*

      I would recommend to make a phone call, then follow up with an email to confirm. Just keep in matter of fact – “I have accepted a new position and won’t be able to return in the fall. With all the uncertainty, it was important for me to secure a full time position. I’m happy to assist with wrapping up any loose ends, and grateful for the opportunity.”

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I believe the sentiment is that if you’re already laid off, you’re already technically free of obligation to your now-former employer. It would be polite to notify them that you’re accepting a new position so they know not to try to recall you to work in the future, but normal considerations like notice don’t apply.

      I would approach your specific situation, the details of which you know far better than I do, under the framing of what will help you sleep at night, and what you think would salvage the relationship if you were ever in a position to desire to return to that school in any capacity.

    3. The Rural Juror*

      How close are you with the boss? I would call if you feel that’s more personable, but then follow up with an email. “Just calling to let you know I’ve accepted another position. I’ll follow up with an email so you have it in writing, but I wanted to let you know personally.” and then some niceties about enjoying your time there or whatever, and wish them the best. None of this situation is ideal, but it won’t hurt to call, even if you’re just leaving a voicemail.

    4. Katrinka*

      I was Lead Secretary in a middle school until very recently. Legally, you’re under no obligation to your former school, since they’ve not offered you a contract for next year, and you could just turn down the contract if they did offer it to you. However, even though they know that nothing is set until the contracts are signed, a lot of admins do like to start planning for next year as soon as possible. The sooner your admin knows you aren’t available, the better for them. But a phone call is not necessary, (and may not be possible, unless you know the admin’s cell number) and email will be just fine.

    5. Morning reader*

      I don’t know, but it’s very kind of you to socially distance when you apparate. Hufflepuff?

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        Have been a Ravenclaw for more than a decade but you know, feeling more and more like a Hufflepuff these days…Ravenpuff perhaps? :)

    6. Not This One*

      Fellow teacher, who has previously resigned (to take a new position) during the summer. In my case, we were still a month out from the new school year starting, so I just called my boss (who knew I was searching) and followed up with an email to both her and the district’s HR office. If we’d been in-person in any way, I would have done it that way, but it was late July/early August, so I wasn’t in the building and neither was she. I had no work to wrap up since it was summer, so there really wasn’t a “notice period.”

  34. OneBean TwoBean*

    I have a part-time employee whose duties are about 75% admin, 25% cleaning. We are a small organization and she is our only cleaner. She is dealing with a (non-work-related) injury and calling in sick fairly frequently. It wouldn’t be that big of an issue except for the fact that with covid, I need to have our office cleaned regularly! (We do have employees who need to work in the office daily.) It doesn’t matter if wastebaskets don’t get emptied for a day or two, but we need to have communal high-touch areas cleaned. When she’s called in, I’ve been cleaning in her place but I really don’t want to keep doing that. I could cut her cleaning hours and hire a service, which I might have to do. But that feels like such a jerky thing to do. Anyone have a magic solution that I haven’t thought of?

    1. whistle*

      I think you need to hire a service. It’s a pandemic, and the cleaning cannot be missed for even a day if people are working in the office. No one person can 100% be in charge of that.

      1. Katrinka*

        The requirements/recommendations for properly cleaning and sanitizing work spaces are pretty tough for one person to dedicate just a little bit of time to any way. Even if your employee were not injured, expecting her to meet the guidelines with only a couple of hours a day is not sustainable. I understand that money is probably tight, but your company needs to find a way to hire a professional to come in and clean every single day (preferably after people are gone for the day, so that things are ready to go first thing in the morning).

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Is there any other work, even “want it” work instead of “need it” work that could replace the 25% she’s devoting to cleaning?

    3. BRR*

      There are a lot of other solutions: Hire a service and replace that 25% with other stuff, hire a service since Covid cleaning is likely going to take more time than cleaning did before, have someone as back up if it’s in the scope of their job description, shuffle duties around more permanently if it’s in the scope of their job description, see if you can find someone to come in just for when she calls out

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

      Hire a service, redirect her onto other stuff (or have the conversation about whether she has any suggestions – it may be she is happy to cut her hours to just the “admin” tasks, for example if she has another job she can pick up more hours at?)

  35. Amber Rose*

    I made a huge mistake at work but I’m so checked out of this company and it’s BS that I can’t bring myself to care. Compounding matters, my boss is even more checked out than I am and also really doesn’t care. So. That’s happening.

    I gotta get out. But starting over is so scary. Compounding matters: is this a safe place to be anymore? I’d argue, no. We’re becoming a mini-USA and I hate it. I don’t think I want to live in this province anymore. But we absolutely can’t move. We have so much debt and a mortgage on a house that has lost so much value we have zero equity in it after 6 years. That might change in a year or two… but do I want to change jobs just for a year or two?

    So many dilemmas and I’m worn out.

    1. ieAnon*

      No advice, just sympathy! We’re in the middle of buying a house that I absolutely love and am excited to move into, but I cannot stay at my job any longer. It’s gone from independent work on interesting projects to micromanagerial BS all day, every day. And due to covid, my available pool of jobs to apply to is quite shallow.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing jobs for a year or two, though! If you can do it, you should. Your plans to move might even change if you don’t feel so miserable at work.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Start looking around and see what is out there.

      There is only one thing worse than feeling trapped. And that is a sense that we have given up on our own selves.
      If the best you can do is look for work for one hour a week, then do that. There’s a covert message going on here. When you do this you send a message to yourself, “I think that *I* am worth helping here. I am worth bailing my own self out of this hole I am caught in right now.”

      Interestingly the more dire the work setting the more scary it can be to try to make steps forward. It’s a circle work gets worse and fear goes up; then fear goes up so work gets even worse. The challenge becomes finding the weakest points in this circle and breaking in at those points.

      So you probably interact with other companies at work, perhaps? Are any of them interesting to you? Or even doable for you?

      If this is the same place you have been right along, I am amazed. You are actually a very strong person. Please remind yourself of that.

    3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Sigh, I hear you, I suspect I know which province you’re talking about and…yeah. No solutions here, just sympathy and letting you know that some of us are asking ourselves similar questions.

    4. tuesday last?*

      totally look around and see if you can jump ship for a year or two. Your description sounds untenable. And even if you don’t care about the new job in 6 months, at least you’ll have 6 months of something new.

  36. Fluffernutter*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to add fluff to work/professional emails? I am a pretty straightforward person and that reflects in my communications. I have never gotten complaints from our clients or customers, some have even complimented my ability to give them a quick, straight to the point answer. My manager is also completely fine with my style of communication.

    I have, however, had an issue with a colleague who doesn’t like me (for other reasons) and has complained that my style is rude. I have not been disciplined because everyone disagrees with my colleague but I wanted to get some tips on how to fluff things up when I email them. I also think it’d be a good skill to have for future prickly people.

    1. Long Time Fed*

      Address people by name rather than just launching into the point of the email. I also tend to be straight forward, but a “Thanks!” at the end seems to soften things. I don’t get any complaints either.

    2. 7310*

      Sounds like you are doing fine.
      The problem belongs to your colleague and is solely in the present.
      Regarding fluff: I am equally brusque in my emails but do make sure I include a personal greeting. Especially if I am asking for something.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Exactly. Being straightforward is not rude. They’re reading it as you being rude, but that’s all in their head. If you add too much fluff, then it may be more difficult for people to absorb the information that’s being given.

        I struggle with that sometimes. My sole form of communication with a lot of our vendors is through email, so I do use a lot of fluff to be polite and maintain relationships. But, after an initial email, if they come back with questions I’m much more direct. They need information to accurately provide estimates and services. At that point, it’s more considerate of me to keep it short and precise. If these are coworkers you see everyday, the niceties can be exchanged at the water cooler or whatever.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I’ve dealt with this my whole life — I’m very direct and a woman, so straightforward emails that (if I were a man) no one would blink at are often seen as brusque. Here’s what I’ve done:
      Start every email with “Hi Recipient!”
      Use complete sentences that restate the issue in full, so instead of “yes, that’s right” say “yes, all of the teapots should be painted green, thanks!”
      If the answer is no, always soften the blow and explain the reasoning even if it is crazysauce that they are asking “Hi Jane! Great question, but unfortunately, sending out broken teapots is not an option because it violates the broken teapot laws, broken teapots aren’t usable and if we sent broken teapots, that would result in a lot of customer complaints.” Instead of “No, we can’t send broken teapots.”

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Same approach here. And it’s complete BS that women have to go to such lengths when men can get away with the one liners.

      2. Fluffernutter*

        I am a woman so I have kept that in mind when listening to the colleague’s complaints! I do make sure to reply with a couple sentences as you’ve shown instead of just “No, we can’t send broken teapots”. It just hasn’t been enough for the colleague….:\
        I think I’ve also felt a bit of doubt because the colleague’s manager, who is also my manager’s manager, does a ton of fluff. An email I would’ve replied with just one sentence somehow turns into three paragraphs when written by him. I would never be able to come up with the same amount but since someone higher above me prefers it, I thought maybe I could add a bit. He’s never mentioned it to me though so maybe I’m overthinking.

      3. Beatrice*

        I started doing this a couple of years ago when I switched from a role where I interacted mostly with engineers, who generally don’t give a fig about pleasantries, to a role where I interacted with people in softer customer-facing roles, where building and maintaining relationships was a huge deal.

        A couple of additional things I do…add in phrases like “Thanks!” as a closing and “Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions” even if they feel unnecessary. And the occasional “I hope this email finds you well”, “Have a great weekend!”, “Hope you had a good weekend!”, etc. that acknowledges the reader as a person is good, too.

        I agree on starting emails with “Hi Recipient!” I learned to avoid uses like “Recipent, no, we can’t send broken teapots” or worse, “No, Recipient, we can’t send broken teapots.” If you don’t make the use of their name sound overtly pleasant or even bubbly, it’s easy for it to be misread as chiding, especially when you’re saying no or making a correction.

    4. Somebody*

      I find how accommodating you’re willing to be very endearing! This comment made me chuckle a bit :)

        1. allathian*

          Oh, I don’t know. Maybe soften a bit for them, and keep to the normal style for everyone else who isn’t complaining.

          I’m just glad that I work in a culture where it’s equally acceptable for women to be direct as it is for men. We’re getting a bit better at small talk these days, but even in the mid-90s when I graduated from college, some people were intensely proud of their total inability to make small talk and to be nice to other people, even their bosses. It was baffling. Even more so when it apparently didn’t hurt their careers at all… But this was in an extremely task-oriented org.

          In my current org when I’m dealing with internal customers, I start my emails with Hi Recipient and end with Thanks, Regards, etc. depending. With my boss and the rest of my team, I start with Hi (sometimes with the name, sometimes without, especially with my coworker) and close with just my first name.

          I’m in a government agency, but most of our employees have an engineering background. It shows in many ways, but our leadership has started to realize that soft skills are essential for wellbeing at work.

          My job is to provide services for internal customers, and as such I can’t really turn down their requests, unless they’re completely unreasonable. In those cases I cc my boss and she can take it from there. When I say a request is not part of our remit, my boss will confirm, but it’s great to know she has our backs. That said, I have quite a bit of leeway when it comes to prioritizing tasks. I do everything they ask and in a timely manner, but a kind request will often get the job done faster.

    5. Third or Nothing!*

      I have a boilerplate email I use when sending reports to my various customers. It goes like this:

      Good morning all [substitute the first name if it goes to an individual instead of a team],

      Attached is your [name of report] for [date]. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks and have a great day!

      Thanks,

      Third or Nothing!

      Short, to the point, but has just enough fluff to feel personable and approachable. (The fluff is “good morning,” “please,” and “thanks and have a great day.”) You don’t need to get effusive; a few small pleasantries here and there will suffice.

    6. BRR*

      Not sure what your emails look like or how much fluff. But some of my go tos are saying good morning instead of hello, if it’s Monday “I hope your had a nice weekend,”ending with “have a great weekend” if it’s Friday. If you have have a shared interest like tv throw that In as a ps “have you seen the floor is lava yet? It was awesome!”

    7. Fabulous*

      Here’s some tips that I actually had given my manager (after she expressly asked; I had done a workshop on incorporating tone into writing):

      Conversational tone
      The first action is to create a conversational tone in your writing. Anything you write should sound like it were coming out of your mouth, and contractions are an easy way to do that. We use contractions when we speak, and we can use them when we write too! Use of contractions give your writing a more casual, relaxed effect that helps to build a relationship with the reader.

      Think positive
      Second, and probably more importantly, here are a few bullets to keep in mind:

      • Avoid authoritative phrases. Basically, don’t use negative phrasing! The words “don’t do this or that” sound like you’re a parent scolding a child, and we don’t want that type of relationship with the reader.
      • Avoid sarcastic remarks. Because tone often isn’t always obvious in writing, we want to avoid phrasing that can potentially be construed as negative or insulting.
      • Be careful not to talk down to the reader in your documents. As I mentioned above, we want to treat the reader as an adult, not a child.

      Here is an example from a recent submission:

      • Original: “If all pre-work isn’t complete prior to each course, you will not be allowed to participate in the session.”
      • With positive phrasing: “Session participation is contingent upon the completion of all pre-work and application assignments.”

      1. allathian*

        Mmmh. Some would disagree with your last one.
        “To participate in each session, you need to complete all pre-work and application assignments” is both positive and direct.
        I’m not saying the passive voice is always inappropriate, but in this case it sounds unnecessarily convoluted.
        I work as a translator and proofreader. The main part of my job is to ensure that complex government texts are understandable to the general public.

        1. Fabulous*

          That’s a good point. I definitely prefer active to passive voice! Possibly something like “Please complete your pre-work in order to qualify for the next session” would be a better replacement.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        I agree with allathian and Fabulous – the “with positive phrasing” version is convoluted and not clear (although the original sounds like you’re scolding the reader).

        Its fine to tell the reader what they need to do in order to do something else. Instructions can sometimes soften requirements so much that they sound like suggestions instead.

        Using active voice is important. Passive voice leads to confusion. This is especially true for readers for whom English is a second language.

    8. Mazzy*

      Wait, you want to add fluff? No! Don’t fix what isn’t broken! One of the biggest mistakes I see entry level workers make is include too much in emails, and then senior staff’s eyes either glaze over, or they only respond to one of the many issues in the email.

      1. Beatrice*

        If she’s writing very terse emails, adding greeting and closing and an occasional pleasantry is fine.

    9. Delta Delta*

      I’m a lawyer. I tend to write my sentences very plainly and very subject-verb. I was once accused by a mental health counselor I emailed about a client of being rude. The email I sent her was this:

      “Lucinda,
      Did Fergus attend the session on Tuesday? If not, did he call ahead to let you know he wasn’t attending?
      Thanks,
      Delta Delta”

      I am not kidding. She could have said “yes, Fergus attended on Tuesday” but instead I got back a lengthy diatribe about how this was rude and my communications with her need to be more “planful” and “reflect the sensitive nature of her work” and that my style “made her feel like she was under the hot lights of cross examination with no escape in sight.” Nope nope nope. This was so ridiculous I showed it to everyone I know, and I changed nothing about how I send emails. tl;dr – emails that are to the point are just fine.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        What?! LOL. I would have saved that email for days where I was in the dumps and needed a good laugh. Maybe she needed to be seeing a counselor?

    10. Joielle*

      Put an exclamation point in every email. It helps you come across as friendly and enthusiastic. Even just “Thanks!” or “Hi Janet!” can soften the tone a lot. (Of course, not in an email where you’re giving really bad news or something – just general, normal, everyday communications.)

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

      I started to write a reply with suggestions on writing back to prickly people, as I have a similar one (who I interact with over email and also video calls, so I get to double dip!) but I was waffling and other people covered that so I deleted it. So –

      There’s a difference between straightforward and rude, as I’m sure you know already. And yet your colleague has complained that you are “rude” (I’m assuming that’s been reported to you semi-verbatim, like “fyi, X complained to me about your reply to their query about the TTP project, they complained that you were rude” – reported by whom? Your manager?) and you already know that they don’t like you “for other reasons”.

      I think the “for other reasons” bit is the key here. Clearly I don’t know what they are but I feel like it’s something a bit more intangible, whereas your “rude” replies to X’s email are somewhat more tangible that they can, for want of a better word, “get you in trouble” over.

      Is this the sort of workplace where people “get in trouble” over things I wonder? I’m thinking this because I thought it was quite interesting that you said you “have not been disciplined because everyone disagrees with your colleague”. In many workplaces, you might well be coached by your manager on responding in a more “fluffy” way (if needed) but I wouldn’t think of this as something that would immediately go to a “being disciplined” process. So it makes me wonder if it’s the sort of place where typically people will be disciplined when someone else makes a complaint about them (I get the sense that you feel you have been ‘spared’ this process only because everyone agrees X is a jerk, but you are still looking to change your behaviour to accommodate X).

      A couple of ways I placate my prickly person:
      – hey John/Jane, what an interesting question! My thoughts are below…
      – (when asked what’s the “right” answer to something) e.g. I’d recommend you do A and B because of reason X, but also you could do it with C and D, and that would be fine as well. (Rather than “A and B.”)

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

        Now I almost wish I had two people like this so that I could describe them as the “prickly pair”! But alas (but perhaps hurrah for my sanity) I only have the one. (Be careful what you wish for!)

      2. Fluffernutter*

        You’re correct, my manager mentioned to me that the colleague complained about my rudeness to their shared manager and told me not to worry about it. I just mentioned not getting disciplined in my post because people higher up than me have heard the colleague’s complaints and dismissed them. No issue with company culture. :)

        Reading your theory about my colleague picking on me, that makes total sense but never occurred to me! I personally think they dislike me because I am more experienced than them so I have (gently) corrected them on some things, a manager, should know. But that is not really a problem they can voice, but my email etiquette is.

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

          It’s sort of interesting in itself that your manager mentioned it to you at all, actually.

          I think it would be more normal for the manager to take X’s feedback with something like “thanks, I’ll follow up with that as needed” .. and then it goes in to a black hole.

          I wonder what your manager was communicating to you with saying “X had this feedback but I dismissed it”? That might be something to be aware from a “political landscape” point of view, actually.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      My standard go to fluff for when I want to say something simple and direct but I know I am dealing with someone who will read it as curt even though there’s no good reason to:
      A) throw in an exclamation point somewhere it’ll make a sentence seem Extra Enthusiastic (make sure it can’t be interpreted as yelling)
      B) a smiley emoji somewhere.

    13. Yada Yada III*

      Well, it’s annoying to try to make nice with this one person … but in emails to them specifically, you could try opening with something unnecessary but friendly, like, “Hope things are going well for you,” “Hope you had a good weekend,” and closing with something unnecessary but friendly, like, “Looking forward to working with you,” “Hope you have a great weekend,” “Happy [Name that Holiday],” etc.

      And, if you’ve had any recent exchange with them re a personal matter that can be mentioned in email, you could also reference that, i.e., “It was great running into you at the play the other night. It’s nice to share an interest in theater with a co-worker.” Or whatev.

      Basically, it’s just a little extra schmoozing/attention. Some people, of course, won’t be happy until you toss in a bunch of exclamation points, but I can’t bring myself to recommend that. ;)

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Good grief! You’d think people would want shorter and to the point emails.
      But some places like the filler. But I would say that you can always add a Thanks!, Thank You, Cheers, or Thanks for your help type of ending. Also, when I ask for something and get it, I do always reply with a short “Thanks!” or “Thx!”
      Mainly I do this because my current company culture is so bad at even responding in anything like a timely manner.

    15. ...*

      It sounds like everyone is totally happy with you except for one (potentially rude?) person so I wouldn’t tailor your communication to the 1 person who doesn’t like you instead of all the people who do. Unless they’re a big boss or something in which case just say Hi! hope you weekend was great! I was wondering if you could please help with this! thanks so much and have a great day!

    16. RagingADHD*

      I agree with others that you shouldn’t have to do this. But if you want to anyway, there’s no reason you can’t.

      It’s not as though there’s some high principle at stake. If throwing a little fluff at this person will reduce friction in your work, hey – fluff is cheap, and life is short.

      IME, people who bristle at emails being too brusque or “rude” like to see feelings words. Not that you have to talk about your actual feelings! But just to salt in words that relate to them.

      -“feel” instead of “think”;
      -“Im happy to” when offering something ;
      -asking their opinion or how they are;
      – “give” instead of “provide”
      -a couple things to thank or appreciate;
      etc. Such as-

      At the top:
      How are you?
      Hope you are well.
      I wanted to check in with you (or touch base with you) about…

      In the middle:
      I’m happy to help with/give an update on x.
      I’m glad you asked about x, let me give some clarification.
      Thank you for your help on y.
      I appreciate you taking the time to do y.

      At the end:

      Please reach out with any questions or feedback.

      Feel free to call me about…

      I’m always happy to get your input, so please let me know…

      Let’s get together to discuss next steps.

      I feel like the project has good momentum,
      I’m looking forward to the next stage.

      Signoff:
      Take care
      Thanks so much
      See you next Thursday
      Have a great weekend

      –Just make sure you phase them in gradually. Don’t add them in everywhere right away, or it will sound like you’re being sarcastic.

  37. Trying hard not to be annoyed*

    How would you all handle this? My office is located on the outskirts of a COVID hotspot. Our numbers are increasing, as are they everywhere. Our city/county has not made masks mandatory. Our office is “encouraging” folks to wear masks, but not making it mandatory. Our receptionist, who greets everyone walking in the front door, from an open air desk, is refusing to consistently and properly wear a mask. She is coughing and blowing her nose frequently. We’ve been asked to cover for her when she’s not at her desk, but do not feel safe doing so. Even OSHA and the CDC recommend not sharing workspaces, equipment etc when possible. We have asked the receptionist to wear the mask correctly and while she’s in the office, but our manager is not enforcing it. She has called COVID a hoax, believes everyone should just get it and “be done with it.” My coworkers and I want to band together. Help us with what we should say. We don’t want to get sick.

    1. Chronic Overthinker*

      If everyone else is wearing masks and it has become company policy, then I would band together with your co-workers and go to the manager together. Policies need to be enforced and insubordination recognized.

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        Yes this – that’s ridiculous! She should treat this as a requirement of her job now – one that she might not agree with, but one that is just as necessary as showing up on time or answering the phone professionally. I agree with you about sharing spaces – you and any other coworkers that don’t have this job but are asked to cover for the person who is flouting mask policy should speak up, and refuse to cover for this person at her desk if she won’t follow that policy if that’s possible. If you’re forced to do this and your managers are weenies who won’t back you up, I’d honestly think about standing next to the desk and not touching anything, while greeting visitors politely.

      2. Anon Admin*

        The poster said “Our office is “encouraging” folks to wear masks, but not making it mandatory”, so it’s not company policy, at least yet.

        I agree you should all band together and go to the manager as a group and lay out the concerns.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, unfortunately, the coworker can get away with her nonsense because there’s nothing to enforce. A suggestion is not a mandate, so OP and her coworkers will need to lobby with the higher ups at this company to make it one.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’d be…..well, very hard pressed to not lose my mind and control of my vocal cords entirely over someone who thinks this virus is a ‘hoax’ or overplayed or what have you.

      Approach it maybe from an optics angle? If people, clients, etc. come into your office to see a receptionist hacking her lungs up and not wearing a mask it’s going to make the company look BAD and they’ll thinking the management haven’t got a working brain cell in their head.

      (Really, how (tirade of profanities redacted) do you have to be to think that people are dying from nothing though?!)

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Oh but you know, it’s all deaths from other normal things like gunshot wounds and car accidents that are being reported as covid-19 related. There’s not really an increase in numbers at all, the medical staff are all lying to you. /s

    3. Katrinka*

      In addition to these great suggestions, I suggest making your company provide you with disinfecting wipes and sprays. If they are making you share a workspace, it absolutely must be sanitized between users. After all, they don’t want to face the consequences if an employee (or, gods forbid, a client) gets sick there because they refused to take proper precautions, do they?

    4. Trying hard not to be annoyed*

      Thank you all for your responses. Masks are not “mandatory,” our manager won’t do that unless required by law. We have gone to our manager as a group. Manager tells us she will talk to the receptionist, yet nothing changes. We have wipes and hand sanitizer, but they’re hard to come by through our only supplier so we are told to limit use of things like wipes and spray, although I do not and do my best to keep them and hand sanitizer in stock. We have tried playing the optics angle, explaining that both internal and external clients are not going appreciate the lack of concern for others and grossness displayed by the receptionist. We have tried explaining that air movement doesn’t stop at an open doorway or desk counter and particulates from even just speaking go everywhere. We have tried explaining that some of us have high risk family members. We have tried explaining this to the manager and to the receptionist directly and even asking her to wear her mask. She will for a little bit, until we’re not looking or she “gets hot and can’t breathe” and then it’s under her chin, hanging off of an ear or her nose is sticking out. We’ve asked that phones just be transferred to our desk and those that sit near the front door help watch for visitors, but staff that sits up front refuses to help and management favors them and doesn’t make them. I’m so frustrated.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        You should as a big group say that you all need to work from home since the workplace isn’t safe. Then they have to decide whether to deal with your big group or the one rogue receptionist.

        1. Trying not to be annoyed*

          Group is…small, very small. They denied working from home already, even though we absolutely could do our jobs remotely, only for the favored staff member was an exception made.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Well then, sadly, I think your company has shown you all that they don’t care and there’s not much else you can do than to go to HR and ask about your leave options. Then spend that time looking for another job because your company isn’t going to change. I’m sorry, this is awful.

          2. tangerineRose*

            Can you get the favored staff member to ask if the rest of you can work from home?

            1. Annoyed...*

              Favored employee won’t even forward us an email, let alone ask for anything that would benefit anyone but herself.

    5. Morning reader*

      The desk needs a barrier in front of it or many customers will not be returning. (Maybe no one cares, but people like me are not using businesses that blatantly take no precautions.) As to your question, can you cover reception from another location, for example have calls forwarded from reception to your extension? If you absolutely have to sit at her desk, I suggest investing in a full scale hazmat suit or something similar (paper jumper to go over your clothes, gloves, mask and face shield.)

      1. Trying not to be annoyed*

        I had been having the calls forwarded to my desk, while staff at the front monitored the door. I’m completely okay with that. However, staff watching the door complained about having to do that and the manager has decided that me answering phones from my desk is no longer acceptable. Manager has claimed “customers want to see someone at the front desk”. What’s worse, it’s not just wanting us to cover reception, it’s wanting us to also work on our tasks while we sit up there, so there’s cross contamination even more so. May have to go with your last suggestion. Hoping to have a new job soon…but I live in the hot some, so it’s been slow going.

    6. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

      I’d be putting in a complaint to OSHA and the CDC as well as dropping it in the laps of any and all media. Even more so since you’ve said you’re in a hot zone. The company won’t do anything until required by law? Then it is more than time to get the law involved.

    7. Anono-me*

      If the receptionist doesn’t have to listen to the manager; why do you have to listen to the manager?

      Can you either ignore the manager about working from the front desk like the receptionist is doing with mask wearing or have a private ‘concerned conversation’ about what the damage being done to the manager ‘s authority by the receptionist not wearing a mask after the manager said to

  38. Emma*

    Are there any circumstances when it would be a good idea to accept a counter offer?

    I asked for a promotion and was told to wait 6 months at least. My small team of 2 is important to the org and they know that finding someone else will be more expensive and the person would need time to get up to speed.

    I told my boss today that I have gotten an offer for another position and he wants to take the weekend to discuss with the CEO to make me a counter offer next week. I would prefer to stay but am concerned it would be a bad idea in the long run and they will see me as a flight risk.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, that doesn’t seem like one of those situations where it’s good to accept the counter offer. That actually seems like exactly the situation in which you don’t want to accept a counter offer. The problems you wanted to leave will still be same problems if you stay, and they will indeed see you as a flight risk, and they’ll replace you as soon as is convenient for them.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, especially if business takes a downturn in the next couple of weeks due to COVID shutdowns – Emma would more than likely be first on the list to let go.

        Take the new offer.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It all depends on why you’re leaving.

      If it’s just the money, and you’re sure you’ll be happy with that salary in the long run–you may not get anything more than a COLA or even the COLA for years–then staying is a reasonable option.

      If not, and it’s something more–challenge, coworkers, environment, location, etc–then be forthright with your boss and take the offer to start elsewhere. Those aren’t going to change and the money will salve only so long.

    3. BRR*

      This is basically the poster child for situations to not accept one. They had their chance and didn’t take it.

    4. MonteCristo*

      I’m against counter offers in all cases, but to me, this seems an especially bad one, seeing as how they basically had 6 months notice that they needed to step up. Of course that doesn’t mean you don’t listen to it, and they don’t need to know whether you are or are not interested in a counter offer.

      (I’ve already made it very very clear to my organization I’m totally against counter-offers, but most people hold their tongues better than I.)

    5. RagingADHD*

      I did once, and it worked out fine. I hadn’t been looking for a new job, but responded to a recruiter’s cold call when I heard the salary.

      My direct manager wasn’t my org chart manager. I was assigned to his team but he didn’t know or sign off on my salary. When I told him I’d accepted the other offer and was leaving he asked my current salary and was shocked it was so low.

      He raised holy hell and got Corporate to match the offer, so I stayed.

    6. allathian*

      Don’t accept the counteroffer, you’ll be seen as a flight risk.

      Counteroffers can work, though. When my husband and I were dating, we were in a LDR for three years. He negotiated a salary increase and a transfer to my city when he had an offer and they made a counteroffer. But the thing was, he was happy working in that org and wanted to move for personal reasons, and if they had said no to the move, he would have taken the other job.

      1. Emma*

        Just to clarify, I asked for a promotion a month ago, was told to wait at least 6 months, got another offer and told my boss yesterday.

        I would prefer to stay but didnt feel valued when he told me to wait 6 months and the we’d see. His argument was that others needed to be promoted before me (even though we are on separate teams).

    7. Emma*

      Just to clarify, I asked for a promotion a month ago, was told to wait at least 6 months, got another offer and told my boss yesterday.

      I would prefer to stay but didnt feel valued when he told me to wait 6 months and the we’d see. His argument was that others needed to be promoted before me (even though we are on separate teams).

      1. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

        I think that’s different…this was just a month ago, and it’s possible your raise would indeed have arrived in 6 months. If you otherwise love the job and have any reservations about the counter offer, I’d consider taking the counter.

  39. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Would appreciate some advice on what to tell my friend to support her. She’s been told that her employer is still allowing work from home for ‘elderly and infirm and other high risk groups’ but anyone who doesn’t fall into those categories has to return to the office.

    Which would be fine, except that the management are not going to be doing anything special safety-wise for those returning to work. Masks won’t be required, there’s not any rules on distancing or how many people can be in a room at once etc. because they say as long as it’s just healthy people there there’s no danger.

    I’ve suggested she wear a mask and keep as far apart from others as possible but I’d also like to give her some scripts to help deal with any unpleasantness from management who claim she’s paranoid or whatever? (My tactics….wouldn’t work at her place. Such as swearing inventively)

    1. Chronic Overthinker*

      Our office is back to work as usual. The mask policy is “recommended, but not required.” People have been good about social distancing, but not great. I would make sure she has the cleaning supplies she needs to sanitize her equipment and make sure that she follows proper protocols. She can say that she’s following CDC guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and try to work as normal as possible.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Will pass it on, hopefully that’ll make the ‘you’re just paranoid, nothing will happen to you!’ types back off a bit.

        (I used to work for that firm, and their signal to noise ratio in some managers is…not great. Some produce as much fact as an untuned radio)

        1. WellRed*

          Honestly, for those kind of comments, can she come up with something (polite) that’s along the lines of, “This is for me, why do you care?” or “How does my wearing a mask impact you doing your job?” I mean, let’s face it, they are trying to be divisive and political, but really, it boils down to “stay in your own lane, eyes on your own paper, stop tracking my hours in your spreadsheet, Wanda.”

    2. Nita*

      She’s going to need a thick skin… but better to deal with the unpleasantness than to get sick. So maybe she can practice shrugging and saying, “Hey, it makes me feel safer!” over and over.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        In that firm, being elderly or having a serious underlying health issue.

        (She’s keeping the nuclear option in reserve: pointing out that we’ve both lost people to corona who were perfectly healthy people in their 30s and 40s so this high/low risk thing is total bull anyway)

        1. Kate H*

          What about starting with a mild nuclear option? There are SO MANY resources out there on how this disease does not care if you’re healthy or not. Articles about people’s experiences. How it destroys your lung capacity. Studies that show that even if you’re asymptomatic, it can cause lung damage and no one’s sure yet if that’s permanent.

          Alison answered a question recently about pushing back against coworkers who don’t understand social distancing boundaries. One thing that’s really been resonating with me is (I’m paraphrasing) that this is going to be uncomfortable. We’re going to feel rude, but our actual lives are at stake here. Ask for what you need, be as harsh as you need to be.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            It’s a better idea. I know she feels, rather like I do in a lot of moments, that bringing up the dead as a ‘gotcha’ hurts the memories of our fallen.

            (That btw is our personal feelings, in no way should they be taken as the only ‘right’ way to deal with grief)

            Actual scientific evidence of the whole ‘low risk doesn’t mean safe’ thing *would* be better. I’ll do some research for resources for her.

    3. BethDH*

      “I would feel so terrible if I accidentally got half the office sick and ruined the company if I had it and just had no symptoms!” — said with as much doe-eyed sincerity as possible. The asymptomatic/presymptomatic part is true, but what manager can argue with “I’m doing it for the good of the company”?

  40. Employee Wrongfully and Maliciously Got Me Doxxed*

    I’ve been at my company for over 10 years and I’ve never been in any sort of trouble, always received bonuses, been moved up, etc. Late last year, I hired a fresh out of school employee I’ll call “Jane.” She had the right skills and the right personality for the role. Jane’s work is mediocre, but I have been coaching her and I gave her a mentor who is one of my best performers. Jane takes any kind negative feedback, no matter how kindly it is given, incredibly personally. And, unfortunately, she had to receive some in April due to a massive error that was fortunately caught in time.

    During the protests, someone who looks somewhat like me (I guess if you squint) appeared in some videos being incredibly racist and condemning the BLM movement while wearing an ugly red hat. These videos were posted to a number of sites I don’t use at all.

    I only found out about the video when I was called into HR (via teleconference) and questioned about my activities on a certain date. Fortunately, I was able to prove I was in WebEx meetings all day on that date and then asked why. I was shown the video and I was appalled at what I saw. HR and my manager stood by me, especially when I was able to screen share and show my WebEx logs and the work I was doing that day. Not to mention, I am immuno-compromised and haven’t been anywhere in public since March.

    I figured that would be the end of it, but I kept getting hateful messages through LinkedIn and decided to do a little detective work to find out why I was being named. I made a Twitter account and dug around to find the video. I found it shared and I found where JANE decided to “identify” me as the woman in the videos. Jane tagged our company in the video, linked my LinkedIn profile (the only social media I actually have) and then reposted it with all of this falsely identifying information on her own Twitter feed where it received a lot of attention with the message of “omg I work with a racist!” I know it is Jane because she uses her photo in her Twitter profile.

    In fact, it received so much attention, Jane was able to “promote” herself in the comments where she listed her Instagram that suddenly became popular and a GoFundMe she created to “pay her bills because she’s laid off while she fights injustice.” The GoFundMe was over $20K when I looked at it. By lying about me to get attention, Jane got a nice payout. Also, she is not laid off, so that’s just more lies from her. (These two accounts also prove that it is Jane as they both use her name!)

    Jane knew I wasn’t at the protest. She knew I was on WebEx all day because she was in most of those calls. I am so angry. I am still getting harassing messages on LinkedIn. I fortunately don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter or anything else that can be tied to me. But do I have any recourse here? Should I let it go? What should I say to Jane? I honestly want to confront her about this nonsense because things could’ve gone a lot worse if I hadn’t been able to prove where I was that day.

    1. Oof*

      Oh my gods. I am so sorry for you. Have you shared this with your HR and managers? At the least she should be fired, and I wonder if there is a way to halt the fundraising. I’m so sorry she did this to you.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yes – go to HR immediately with this information. Jane needs to GTFO NOW. What the hell would possess someone to do something like this?! And she has the nerve to use a racial justice movement to enrich herself in the process?! Nah, she needs to be exposed for the fraud she is and lose her job for being a disgusting liar.

        I’d also report her to GoFundMe – she needs to not see a dime of that stolen money. Send them screenshots of everything you found, and I’d even out her on the page (with the receipts) if possible. She needs to be dragged like she tried to get you dragged.

        Despicable.

        1. Nita*

          All of this, and get screenshots of everything, then talk to a lawyer. I hope you have some kind of legal recourse (defamation?) And would someone high up in your company be able to post something official-looking (a link to a letter on company letterhead?) on Jane’s Twitter and GoFundMe pages, and your LinkedIn page, to say that this is all a lie? I don’t know if this is a thing, but unfortunately it may need to become a thing in the age of doxxing.

    2. 7310*

      WTF?
      Report to HR since she mentioned the company and lied about her employment status?
      Report fraud to Go Fund Me?
      Lawyer for Cease and Desist letter?
      I would not speak to her until I had another manager or an HR rep in the room with me.
      Thoroughly annoyed on your behalf.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Definitely REPORT it to Go Fund Me! That’s charity fraud!
        I wouldn’t speak to her, either. Let the company handle this. Maybe they’ll decide to bring you in, maybe not.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        How would fraud charges work here? She already gotten 20k from people. Who handles this, the FBI?

        1. LDF*

          GFM had terms about refunds if a campaign is fraudulent. I assume they take the hit for refunds at first and separately work on getting the money back from the organizer. I’m sure whoever opens a campaign has to check off on TOS that include what this looks like.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      No, you shouldn’t let it go! And her tagging your employer means it’s completely legit for you to go to HR about it.

    4. Typing On A Phone*

      Unfortunately, you don’t have as solid evidence that this is Jane as you think; one of your other colleagues could have pretended to be Jane.

      You should still report it to HR, but beware of jumping to conclusions. If someone is malicious enough to falsely doxx you, they could also be malicious enough to pin it on a coworker who‘s known to have beef with you.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Yea, as much as it looks like it is what it is, you’re going to want professionals involved (HR, law enforcement, attorneys) so you don’t end up defending libel if Jane does turn out to be innocent.

        1. Katrinka*

          Libel doesn’t apply if LW truly thought it was Jane (she used her real name in some places).

    5. Grbtw*

      I think this is something you should talk to an attorney about. She lied and publicly named you and knew it wasn’t you. Make sure you print out all the proof for your personal records. This could follow you for years if you don’t get her and the websites to remove your name. You could also report the fraud to GoFundMe, she committed a crime.

    6. blackcat*

      Report to GoFundMe, twitter, LinkedIn, and present your evidence to HR. Say “I was really concerned about all of this, and so I did some digging. This is what I found. Accounts that appear to be Janes–or might be someone impersonating her–has been spreading this false information. If it is Jane, she knows that this is not me. If it’s not Jane, I think someone should give her a heads up about this impersonation, given everything I’ve experienced. I don’t feel comfortable approaching her directly because of all of this uncertainty.”

      Basically, I’d lean into the possibility that Jane, like you, has been falsely doxxed. If she has been–that’s a problem! If not…. well, she’s being awful, and you’re within your rights to tell HR.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yes, this is the best solution. There’s nothing you can do, really (confronting Jane directly would be a bad idea), so the best thing would be to talk to HR, lay it out (as neutrally as possible–definitely don’t go straight to “JANE IS A HORRIBLE THIEF” even if she is! You want HR to view the evidence in a neutral way), and let them handle it. You said they were on your side after the first report, so they’re likely to take it seriously this time as well.

        1. Temperance*

          Oh there’s a LOT that can be done. I think she should compile the evidence, get the GFM cancelled, report the defamatory content to social media (getting her accounts banned – she could literally have gotten OP killed with lies like this), tell HR, tell her own boss, and then talk to Jane’s boss, with the support of her own boss and HR.

          Jane needs to be taken down a peg. A $20k payday for ruining someone’s life?

    7. different seudonym*

      $20k is an extremely unusual GoFundMe payout. It’s also pretty remarkable that OP was able to so thoroughly document that specific date.

      1. WellRed*

        What are you trying to imply?

        “$20k is an extremely unusual GoFundMe payout”
        What’s your source for this? Can you explain this comment?

        “It’s also pretty remarkable that OP was able to so thoroughly document that specific date.”
        No, it’s really not. I’m actually a little bothered by the hoops her company made her go through.

      2. Moonbeam Malone*

        There’s a lot of software/applications we commonly use now that make this kind of documentation extremely easy to pull up. It can feel a bit “big brother,” but pretty much if you’re working from a computer, you’re going to have stuff with timestamps on it. Even if you’re not in scheduled meetings (which OP was! which makes this even easier!) I really can’t emphasize enough how normal it is that OP readily found documentation they were working.

        GoFundMe payouts are all over the place, and honestly any crowdfunding is. There’s no real normal. (Who else remembers that potato salad kickstarter?)

      3. Carbondale*

        I’m surprised about the $20k too. Even if Jane hadn’t been lying, who donates money to someone just for identifying a racist and being laid off?

        1. Katrinka*

          You’d be surprised. If she managed to convince people her company was horrible and protecting a racist and she was fired in retaliation, a lot of people are going to chip in money. Maybe it’s all from friends and family, who knows? The main thing is, report it to GoFundMe, as it is fraudulent (claiming she’s been laid off when she’s not been) and they will shut it down and refund everyone’s money.

        2. Temperance*

          Oh, I’ve seen some shady AF GFMs raise shocking amounts; remember that clearly BS story about the homeless guy giving a woman his last $20 to get gas? It raised $200k, and it was a fraud perpetuated by the homeless man, the woman, and her boyfriend.

          If Jane wrote it up as she lost her job because of actions taken by the “evil racist OP”, and told a sob story about medical costs or something, I can see people getting duped into giving her money.

          (Nonprofits > crowdfunding, always!)

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

          I’ve seen people on Tumblr systematically set up fake GFM with sob stories.

      4. Temperance*

        Uh, not really? If someone said, “what were you doing on Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.”, I could pull up my calendar and show the meetings I attended.

    8. More Coffee Please*

      This is really serious. It sounds like you’re downplaying it, but you have every right to be outraged. It would be bad enough if she was singling you out on social media as a target for hate something you actually did (like giving her reasonable negative feedback). But for something that isn’t even true? My blood is boiling just reading about this!

      Are you Jane’s manager, since you mentioned you hired her? If so, I would absolutely talk to her about this an