open thread – July 17-18, 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.

{ 1,227 comments… read them below }

  1. Moi*

    I recently had a job interview where the interview made a mistake and I’m worried it made me look like a liar. Please help me.find a script to follow up on this in my thank you email.
    Interviewer: Tell me about Course X
    Me: I haven’t taken that course
    Interviewer: It says on your resume that you took it
    Me: (Shocked) it does? I took a similar course many years ago but I haven’t taken that specific course.

    After the interview I reviewed my resume and cover letter to see if I inadvertently implied that I took the course. I suspect that she confused my resume with another applicants. My resume did not mention either of the courses.

    I am struggling to find the wording to follow up on this. I need to clarify the error without looking pointing out that the interviewer made an error.

    1. Annie Nymous*

      Personally, I’d wager that the interviewer went back and checked on their own and they are too embarrassed to admit their fault. If things proceed to the next interview, it might be brought up but wouldn’t follow up independent of that.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        Yes, you don’t need to mention this in your thank you email. It’s not your error to clarify and you don’t look like a liar because someone mis-read your resume. *If* they bring it up again you can very matter of fact say again, “I think you might be mixing up with another resume, I took a similar course many years ago but I haven’t taken that specific course.”

    2. Miss May*

      I hope it was a case of mistaken resume! I once had an interviewer tell me I spelled “assistant” wrong on my resume and I swear it was a test, because NOWHERE on my resume it was spelled wrong!

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        This is actually part of why I always bring my own copy of my resume to interviews. I haven’t had someone point out an error, but I have had “you have on here X” and it’s always useful to me to pull out my own copy to reference. That way, when I need to clarify I’m not trying to go from memory about exactly how I phrased it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think it’s worth spendjng a lot of time on, but if it just happened in the last couple of days, you might send a copy of your resume with your thank-you note to the interviewer and include in the body of the note something like,

      “I think we had a little misunderstanding when you asked about Course X. Here’s another copy of my resume. Perhaps you meant Course Y?” (Or some other related thing one could plausibly mix up in conversation)

      “I’d be happy to discuss that in more detail.” And then segue into the part about appreciate your time, look forward to speaking again, etc etc.

    4. juliebulie*

      I always bring a copy of my own resume to the interview to make sure I know what they’re looking at. But I guess that wouldn’t work for a zoom interview.

      But I feel pretty sure that your interviewer figured it out. That is, assuming she didn’t think she was interviewing someone else! (On the bright side, if that did happen, she’ll think someone else is the liar!)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Any chance your resume went to them electronically through a recruiter? There has been some pretty upsetting examples in this commentary of times where recruiters changed the resume for the person who had applied. I don’t know how you could bring that up politely though!

      1. Another freelancer*

        My thoughts exactly. If that’s not the case, I’d bet the interviewer just got the OP’s resume mixed up with a different candidate’s resume. I wouldn’t say anything because I bet the interviewer was just embarrassed.

  2. Donkey Hotey*

    I would like to throw this out to the Commentariat. I am going to skip over the Llama/Teapot convention because as evidenced by their behavior in other situations, I am 99.9999% certain that no one in my office has ever heard of AAM.

    Background: I am a technical writer for an industrial shop. I’ve been at my current employer for three years and my previous employer for fourteen. Part of my problem is that I’ve missed a lot of the corporate cultural shifts that have happened over the last 17 years. My job is to write user manuals for the machines we create. (Due to the nature of the machines we make, my goal is that everyone goes home with as many fingers as what they show up with.) Current job isn’t amazing but it’s more money than I’ve ever made previously. I was looking for something new BC (Before Covid) but I’ve put that on the back burner for now.

    I started current job in the Fall of 2017. About three months after that, the company’s file clerk quit. They asked me to fill in “until we find someone new.” You guessed it folks, it’s three years later and they still haven’t found someone new. Normally, I don’t mind the extra work. On average, I spend about 8 hours a week doing the filing – but sometimes it’s 4 and sometimes it’s 12. When my actual job steps up, I’m usually able to get everything done in time and I’ve been told that overtime is pre-approved and I can work as much OT as I need to get it all done.

    However, I feel a little guilty because, to my eyes, I make significantly more than minimum wage. Without going into details, they could get 3 hours of a minimum wage file clerk for every hour they have me doing this, and that’s before overtime. I feel weird that a company that makes all sorts of noise about “watching every dollar” in our budget is fine paying me a professional wage to file clerk.

    Every year at my annual evaluation, I bring it up to my boss and he makes noises about changing things. And then Covid happened. The plant shut down for six weeks and we were sent home with pay (thank you, PPP). We’re back to work with plenty of safeguards, so I feel they’ve stepped up in that respect.

    I suppose there is the school of thought which says, “This counts as ‘other duties as assigned’ and I should enjoy the job security and laugh all the way to the bank with the overtime.”

    And there is the school which says, “They are not valuing the actual work I do here.” I’ve had multiple people who have started after me who are surprised to learn that I actually have a job at the company other than file clerking.

    1. NotAPirate*

      I don’t think its wrong to want to work as a technical writer. Filing can get dull especially if you don’t enjoy it. Are there other jobs in your field available? I would look at moving companies. It’s going to be hard to break the image of file clerk at this one, and it seems they don’t mind paying you so much more than a file clerk. You’re in the ideal way to job hunt, with a good salary coming in and no rush.

    2. winter*

      Well… what’s your take on the situation/do you have an issue with it except being overpaid? If it’s just feeling guilty… don’t. People with more responsibility than you had plenty of time and input from you to fix it.

      If you’re worried that coworkers don’t see the valuable contributions that you make in your “real job”, I’d understand and believe the readers might have some input on that. But from your post I wasn’t sure about your personal stance.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        My only real frustration is when there is a mountain of filing that coincides with a publication due. I rake myself over the coals with “If I didn’t have to waste so much time with the files, I’d have more time to work on the publication.” And meanwhile, folks give me the stink eye because the files are piling up (which means, to their eyes, that I’m not doing my job.)

        1. winter*

          For me this would be a “let the manager sort it out” situation: if you have two conflicting tasks and are not sure how to prioritize, let them do it.
          If it’s more of a visibility issue (you are sure about priority, but coworkers don’t like the consequences), you can explain the background to them, if you like. You can even redirect them to your manager, if they are complaining about the priorities. But if the complainers’ opinions don’t have an impact on your work, I would also consider letting it go after an explanation.

        2. Senor Montoya*

          Prioritize your technical writing duties. When that means filing will not get done/get done fast enough because you need to prioritize the tech writing, alert your manager. And then let your manager decide how to handle it.

          Right now, the only one feeling pain is you.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I was going to say the same thing – you were hired as a tech writer. That is your primary position. If a deadline is coming and you have files piled up, focus on the writing because that’s why you were hired. Tell your manager that’s what you’re doing and ask for assistance in getting the filing done.

            The reason they haven’t hired a file clerk is because they have someone willing to do it (you) with no complaints, the filing is getting done (even if your other tasks end up overdue), so they have no incentive to correct this issue. Let this ball drop and then they’ll be forced to get their act together.

          2. Glitsy Gus*

            Yeah, this would be my advice to. Make it clear to your boss that you are not doing the filing because your main priority is getting the publication done well and on time. Then, let it pile up. If someone complains, you have told your boss why you aren’t doing it, which is what matters.

            If someone asks you why you aren’t doing the filing just tell the truth. I’m the technical writer here, I only do the filing because they haven’t hired a file clerk. When my priority will always be my technical writing duties and I get to the filing as I can. I know it’s frustrating, and it may be that you do want to move to another position where you aren’t pigeon-holed as something you aren’t; but don’t be afraid to disabuse folks of their misconceptions. You aren’t the file clerk, you’re the tech writer who’s helping out with file clerk tasks.

        3. Dr. Anonymous*

          When you have a deadline e looming, that’s a good time to go to the boss and say, “I’ve really got to get the Ten Fingers Go Home With You Manuel to the printers this week, so do you think maybe Fred or Ginger could help with the filing this time? It’s piling up.”

        4. hbc*

          Can you ask your manager if other people can help with the filing when they have time, especially when you don’t? Sounds like you can make the case that you don’t always have time (or even time-and-a-half) to get it done, so if someone else has a light week, it’s cheaper and faster to have multiple people on the roster.

          As for the stink eye, is it literally them looking at you and vibing “you’re a slacker”, or is there something they’re saying or doing that you can use to enlighten them? Like, if they’re making passive aggressive comments like “Those papers are a fire hazard,” you can say, “I know, but the filing isn’t anyone’s top priority, and I have a huge publication in the works right now. Feel free to make a dent in the pile, though!”

        5. Mockingjay*

          As a technical writer myself, I strongly advise you to offload the filing duties. It will impact your career.

          I like a variant of Alison’s scripts assuming the outcome you want:

          “Hey, boss, now that we’re back to normal, I need to let you know I can’t handle the filing anymore. It’s cutting way into my editing time; I’ve missed deadlines on numerous occasions and errors have crept into the documents because I don’t have time to proof thoroughly. [have numbers and examples to back this statement] Are we hiring a clerk soon or can we assign the filing to someone else?”

          Be firm when your manager pushes back – the extra duty is impacting your work, you need the time for X and Y, etc. Always keep it about the work and not your personal preference. It’s harder for managers to argue with logic than emotions.

          1. Beatrice*

            As a technical writer myself, I strongly advise you to offload the filing duties. It will impact your career.

            This. I was in a role once where we had a large swath of employees, including me, with the title of Teapot Analyst. I did more advanced analytical work than most, but I also picked up a lot of the administrative work because I was the only one who kept up on it religiously and did it the way I thought it should be done. Then the company revamped titles and pay ranges for all the Teapot Analysts. I got stuck with a less advanced title and a lower pay band than a close counterpart who did the same work but didn’t have the advanced problem solving skills I did, because my ratio of administrative work to analytical work was higher. I should have let the admin work fall behind or get done poorly and let my boss deal with it.

            1. juliebulie*

              In my first technical writing job, my full-time occupation was making copies, unjamming the copier, filing stuff… you get the idea. For over two years. They had other, more senior tech writers who did the actual tech writing, but they didn’t have anyone else who could figure out how to unjam that piece of shit copier.

              I was sad when they laid me off, but it was for the best. At my next job I did the work of two tech writers and if the copier jammed, it was someone else’s job to unjam it.

              I don’t know if doing the filing actually imperils your image as a tech writer, as long as you’re also known as the keeper of the All-My-Fingers User Guide. But if your boss says that the filing is more important/urgent than the writing, that’s your signal to get out of there because it reflects poorly not only on how boss sees you but also on how boss sees technical writing.

              1. Pilcrow*

                Another tech writer chiming in. Yes, tech writers (especially the female ones) have to push back on clerk/office admin/secretarial duties or they are forever stuck with typing things up for other people.

                In my case, I’m a whiz at formatting documents and get asked to clean up reports, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations all the time. I’m very careful about offering this skill and taking on these types of tasks.

        6. Not So NewReader*

          Start putting in for OT in order to do the filing.
          Seriously. Once the company sees they are getting a “big bill” just to file, then they will do something.

          For the stink eye folks, ask them if they would like to help. When they predictably say that it’s not their job you can say, “It’s not mine either. I am just filling in until they hire someone. My actual job is x.”

        7. Kolo*

          Unless you have a significant personal objection to doing the filing (like you are not willing to have to work OT at times to be able to do your job plus the filing, or it prevents you fulfilling the ‘original’ (writing) part of your job, and it sounds like it doesn’t, as you have unlimited OT approved, then I would say leave it alone.

          Competent business owners and good managers know what they are paying their employees, and make cost/benefit analyses to optimize their revenue/expenses. It is a business decision, and not one you are responsible for making.

          If or when you are told to do All The Things without overtime, or if you are unhappy or unwilling to provide the overtime (assuming this is not a requirement in your position that you would be unreasonable to accommodate), then you have standing to request reallocation of work and prioritization of tasks.

          It is an indicator that you are a thoughtful and considerate person that you are concerned about the situation, and should you move to the next level in the organization or another, you have good instincts to build on, but right now, it is not your responsibility, and you need not worry about this.

        8. Observer*

          Prioritize your writing. And when anyone says or even hints about the filing just calmly point out that you have to deal with your primary job first.

          In fact, it might even be a good idea to do that occasionally even when you don’t HAVE to – ie don’t necessarily work overtime each time this crops up.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I second this. Feeling guilty for being paid more than you think the work is valued shouldn’t be a driver in your search. Being unfulfilled or burnt out becuase you have to do the filing in addition to your own job and work overtime to do it. I realize the OT is paid, but what is value to you in terms of what you are doing? Would you rather spend them in other non-paid ways that are important to you (family, hobbies, reading, sleeping)?

        To me those are the questions.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Maybe this is where you ask if Sue can do the filing while you’re on deadline. Then after your deadline has passed, ask about Sue taking over the filing, if you can job share the filing, or at least be the permanent backup file clerk when you’re on a deadline.

      3. uncivil servant*

        I certainly wouldn’t feel guilty because it sounds like one problem is that there may not be 40 hours of filing to do, so they are still saving money paying you a professional wage + overtime. It may be more efficient to have you do the work as needed, rather than having a part-time person come in once or twice a week.

        But this disregards the question of whether you want to do it, which is perfectly valid. I would agree that there can be a cost to doing a lower-skilled job than your main one. But if you want to do it, and the only problem is a few people ignorant of how you spend the majority of your time (not your management) then you have no ethical concern.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I wonder if it’s actually cheaper or costs about the same to have you do it because they don’t have to advertise a file clerk position and then spend time screening resumes, interviewing people, doing pre-employment checks, etc. Plus, if it’s a full-time position, it would be another person to cover with benefits. It may be cheaper or about the same cost just to have you do it when they already insure you and have you on staff.

    4. Just Me*

      I know you are getting paid a lot better wage making OT than someone else would, but there are actually a lot of other costs involved with employing someone other than just the base pay. So the company may actually think that it’s worth the trade off. If it’s worth it to you may or may not be a different answer.

      As for the people who are surprised that you have a job other than filing, tell them “Yeah, I write the manuals, but I don’t get cool covers and bylines like Stephen King.”

    5. Colette*

      It sounds like the bulk of your job is still technical writing – so when you leave this job, you can honestly put your technical writing accomplishments on your resume and omit the file clerk. I personally would probably be fine with it, if it didn’t make me run into overtime except on rare occasions. But if you want to get out of it, you can say that to your boss – “I’ve been doing the filing for 3 years, and I would like to pass it on to someone else, since there is no plan to hire someone specifically for the job.”

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Oh I wouldn’t *dream* of listing the file clerk part on my resume. They hired me to be a writer with a title to match and I’ve completely revolutionized their pubs system. This place is (he says lovingly) stuck in the 1970s something fierce.

        1. Colette*

          Right, I just meant that if the bulk of your time was being the file clerk, you couldn’t really say you were a technical writer – but in your case, it would be fine.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If they only have 8 hours of filing work a week, it’s not surprising that they haven’t hired someone full time.

      It is surprising that they’d rather pay you overtime than get an admin to do it, and pay overtime on their presumably lower wage.

      Are you sure you’re being paid in line with market rates for technical writing?

      My concern would be less about the mental value that others place on your work, and more on the actual dollar value. Because the situation certainly implies that you are one of the lowest paid people in the building.

      Regardless, if you are already quietly looking for another job, there’s not much to be done about it. Just check market rates and keep looking.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It is surprising that they’d rather pay you overtime than get an admin to do it, and pay overtime on their presumably lower wage.

        This would have made more sense.

    7. Annony*

      The fact hat t they have you doing some filing does not necessarily mean they don’t value the work you do writing. The question to ask is whether doing the fillings getting in the way of doing your job or if you are able to do both. If the filing takes only 8 hours a week on average, it may not be easy for them to find someone who is willing to take a job for so little, so adding it to someone else’s duties makes sense to the company. If you are normally able to get your job done or you are willing to do it with the overtime pay, I don’t think you need to do anything. If the filing is getting to be too much, you should ask if they can have someone else help with the filing as well to lessen the load. I don’t think you need to worry about whether having you do filing makes financial sense to the company, just on whether you are ok spending 8 hours a week filing.

    8. Remote HealthWorker*

      I’m very much in the same boat as you. One of my “other duties as assigned” started out as maybe 2% of my time and is now easily 40% at the cost of my core job duties.

      I had frank discussions about how I didn’t like this and it’s not what I signed up for. I am about 4 levels senior to the typical level of the other duty that is gobbling up my time. I laid out what it was keeping me from, the delays in other projects, etc. In the end my boss kept me on the other duty after a couple of years of hemming and hawing about it changing.

      I do believe a major part of it is just not grasping what I do and it’s importance. Despite real value added – I’m talking $100s of thousands dollars in the door and showing my boss that their default is just to not care about it. After a few weeks of amazingment when a core duty delivers tremendous savings or revenue they just put me back to “filing”.

      I say give them a chance to change after you lay it all out but if they don’t them yeah you have to decide if you want to continue working there or not.

    9. Super Duper Anon*

      I would say there are a number of factors in play here. Do you mind doing the filing? Do you mind working the overtime to get everything done? Do you have enough work on the technical writing side that you can bolster your resume with and downplay the filing clerk stuff with when moving to your next technical writing job?

      My very first job after university and post-grad technical writing certificate was a combo receptionist/office manager/technical writer at a small site of a mid-size machine building company, probably similar to where you are now. I didn’t mind the office admin and loved the technical writing side, but hated answering phones. I had done it as part of summer jobs in high school and university, so I suspect that is why they chose me, along with being a new grad who could accept the low salary.

      I knew that as a new grad I couldn’t afford to be picky, but I knew that I was only going to stay around 2 years to get a bit of experience under my belt, then aim for a technical writing only job. There was no way to negotiate being removed as a receptionist, they couldn’t afford both people. I stayed for just over two years, and just as I started to look my site shut down and I was laid off. I emphasized the technical writing parts of my job on my resume and downplayed the rest of it and had a new job that was just technical writing a couple months later.

      I think as long as you have enough technical writing to do to offset the file clerking part it is not a huge detail, but if you dislike doing it, or there is so much of it that people only see you as a file clerk instead of a technical writer, you may want to push harder to have it removed from your list of duties (or look elsewhere).

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I had one of those jobs fresh out of college. The job description was for a general lab assistant – stocking shelves and scrubbing incubators, that sort of thing – and it paid accordingly. But there was really only about 30 h/wk of work, and there was also a part-time job’s worth of side projects; an underemployed engineering major in a building full of biologists can probably keep busy, and so I did.

        I knew what the deal was. I’d have preferred to walk straight into a “real job”, but I was Class of 2008 and people who would’ve been my grand-boss in 2007 were applying for those. So I scrubbed a lot of incubators, and got savagely underpaid for my “other duties as assigned” – but I was getting paid in experience. And it paid off. I spent two years in that position, got a glowing reference, and was able to move on.

    10. Free Meerkats*

      Let’s do the math. We’ll make a file clerk wage rate A, your wage rate 3A, and your OT wage rate 4.5A.

      Normal week, you do 8 hours of filing on normal time. You’ve earned 8*3A = 24A. That’s not a full time position.

      Worst week you do 12 hours of filing, all on OT. You’ve earned 12*4.5A = 54A. That seems to be a full time position for a file clerk, but it’s not. Employee overhead is typically 0.5*wage rate, so the weekly cost of a file clerk for your employer is 60A.

      It seems like it’s costing them more money to have you do this work due to your wage rate, but it’s not. On a normal week, they’re saving 36A. Even on a worst case week, they’re still saving 6A.

      I say take the OT and bank it directly into your retirement fund with a clear conscience.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Wow! Thank you for breaking it down for me like that. (I guess I am an English major after all – someone else did the math for me).

        And hey! Free Meerkats! Bonus!

        1. Artemesia*

          The glaring problem is that you are viewed as an AA or file clerk by co-workers and perhaps by superiors — and this may, like the woman engineer who answers the phone and gets coffee, keep you from professional advancement. Right now — well you have a job and the world is nuts — but this too will pass and when it does, I’d be giving very serious thought to moving on and shaking the file dust off your feet and your resume.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is great and what I was coming to point out. Overhead costs for employees are often not factored into many people’s calculations, but my finance department includes detailed overhead in all my employee calculations and it’s quite a bit (office space/supplies, benefits – insurance/retirement, taxes, etc.). It is usually far cheaper to have an existing employee do a regular 8 of OT than to onboard someone new, even if their rate of pay is less.

        That said, it sounds like filing is affecting your core job responsibilities and also not what you signed up for, and it’s not at all unreasonable to address that.

    11. AP*

      If they’re not willing to hire someone new to do the filing, is there someone else you can pass the job to? Perhaps someone who’s junior to you or to one of the new hires? You could tell your boss that you feel that you’ve done your part for three years and it’s time for another person to shoulder this responsibility.

      Or if your boss won’t go for that, perhaps you could ask to share the job with multiple people so it’s not just your responsibility and each person will only have spend a couple of hours a week doing their share of the filing?

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Follow-up for posterity: There are no other tech writers.
          Bonus: I’m the only trained tech writer this company has had in its 60 years of existence. It’s been… challenging.

    12. AdAgencyChick*

      They’re probably fine with it because effort is more expensive than money to the people in charge. There’s no need to feel guilty about it.

      The question is, are YOU okay with it? Do you WANT to have to work OT, even if you’re paid OT, because you’re doing something that’s not what you were hired for? The next time you want to change jobs, will it be harder to do so because you’ve spent so much of your time on filing duties? The answer to these questions might both be “yes, I’m cool with that,” of course. But the idea is that “is this cool for me?” not “is this fair to my company?” should be your primary consideration.

    13. Cj*

      “Without going into details, they could get 3 hours of a minimum wage file clerk for every hour they have me doing this, and that’s before overtime. ”

      If I’m understanding this correctly, you make $30/hr assuming minimum is $10 (which it is in my state). Paying you as a file clerk for 8 hours a week, even with overtime, costs the company $360. And it doesn’t sound like you always have to work overtime to get the filing done. If you didn’t have the filing to do, would you be working 40 hours a week even if your technical writing was done because you are considered full-time? How many hours a week did the file clerk work? Did they receive benefits? Also, I assume you are well over the limit for needing to pay state and federal unemployment, so they would be saving $ for that. There is a lot to take into account besides just the difference in the hourly rate.

    14. Cj*

      “The plant shut down for six weeks and we were sent home with pay (thank you, PPP)”

      The point of PPP is to allow employers to pay you to work. Not pay you to stay home. Employers are required to turn in their payroll each pay period, including hours worked, to the bank handling the loan. If they are reporting that you worked when you did not, that is fraud.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        For the record: One fraction of the company stayed open. They were paid through PPP. They generated enough that the company could pay us. I didn’t want to get mired in semantics but feel it needed to be said. Thank you for your due diligence.

    15. Nesprin*

      Can you … price out a 1dy/wk temp and give your boss the option (me for 8 hrs a week $$$), (temp for 8hrs a week $)?

    16. MissDisplaced*

      I’m a little confused. Do you actively want to stop doing the filing?
      Or do you feel guilty that you’re making extra money for OT because it seems like maybe you don’t have a full 40 hours of work to do as a technical writer?

      Because if you really want to be the technical writer, you need to push back a little harder that technical writing IS supposed to be your job and you will not be doing the filing any longer (and they need to hire a file clerk or temp to do that work).

      However, be aware that if the company really doesn’t have 40 hours a week worth of technical writing, they may not see it that way and then cut your hours accordingly. So I’d make darn sure to have a case that you will be indeed be busy for 40 hours a week doing technical writing.

    17. CindyLouWho*

      The part of this post that gets to me is that, sure, the tech writer can do the filing, just like the tech writer can take meeting notes and whatever else you can dream up. Tech writers have a specific skill set. Start treating them like members of the production team. I’m certainly a member of my development team, and I’ll stand up for myself to make sure it stays that way.

      Yes, I’ll help with other duties as assigned, but you can bet I’ll be asking the other people on the team to do it, too.

      I feel like, after reading all of this, your company really doesn’t value your job, and that feels bad to me.

    18. Academic Librarian*

      I’m curious whether you think this is a result of you being female (if indeed you are female), or if it’s a function of you being the newest person in the department when the file clerk quit? That might affect how you address the situation.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Middle aged, cit-het, white dude. I was just the newest person hired in the department.

  3. Not So Super-visor*

    so I am finding myself in a motivational quandry:
    For a little reference, I work for Little Corp that was bought by Big Corp about 15 years ago. Little Corp was far more profitable than Big Corp, so they pretty much let us manage as we’d always done. In the last year, however, the corporate structure has changed, and now Big Corp is taking over more aspects of how we run. My boss is new within the last year, and she reports directly to Big Corp while I still report to her but under Little Corp. I’ve managed a group of 20 employees for about 4 years. This department was already short-staffed before the pandemic. We’ve been short staffed for about a year following all of this restructuring, and I am burning out trying to cover all of the holes. I work for an essential business, and while I had to initially furlough employees, they’ve all been returned. We incredibly busy, and the original short staffing problem is really rearing its head. I’m working 12+ hours a day, and we’re incredibly behind. I went to my boss to plead for more employees based on previous staffing numbers. She then went to her boss who asked for all of my data regarding productivity for the group. I handed it over. It turns out that not only do I need the 5 employees that I requested, but according to Big Corp’s software, I need to add 20 employees. I am in now in limbo while this works out through Big Corp’s red tape because that doesn’t work with the budget that they’veset for my group. Since the # was so shocking to me, I ran it past my previous boss (still with Little corp but in a different role) because I wanted his take on it. He pretty much said “Yeah, that sounds about right. Your department was always understaffed.” What?? How many times did I ask for additional staff (not 20 but 1 or 2) and was told that we didn’t need it? I’m floored that everyone seemed to know that we were drastically understaffed and that I’ve been running around chasing my tail trying to meet our goals. I feel defeated. I feel like I was never set-up to succeed, and I feel like a jerk for pushing my team to be more efficient when we were this understaffed. Most personally, I’ve lost all motivation to continue to work a crazy number of hours. I feel completely burned out. I have pre-planned PTO time next week to try to recoup, but I know that when I get back that we’ll be more behind than ever.

    1. Moi*

      You need to stop working twelve hour days. Right now, the company is spending less and not reaping the consequences of their actions. You are. Talk to your manager, let her know that you cannot work this much and ask what the priorities are. Then, focus on the priorities.

    2. NotAPirate*

      You have to let some projects drop. They won’t staff you properly if you are setting yourself on fire and keeping it running. Go to your boss with the projects, “With my current staff we can do 3 of these 12 tasks, which 3 do you want?” make it a problem for your bosses, get them motivated to get you the additional staff. Doing the work of 20 people is insane! And it’s not a a good example for the ones your supervise. You’re likely going to loose employees if you continue this way, I would not stay in a job where my boss is working 12 hr days, I would correctly read that as the company not caring about its employees.

    3. Honor Harrington*

      I have learned two painful corporate rules:
      1. Businesses will let you work yourself to death because it is cheaper than hiring more resources. As long as you are willing to do the work, they will let you.
      2. Sometimes the only way to get change is to let things fail.

      You and your team have been diligent employees doing everything you can to meet the firm’s business goals. You did it trusting that you management would give you more resources when they saw you needed them. That didn’t happen. So take your time of. Let some things fail. Warn your leadership of what is at risk (that’s the critical CYA thing, so do it in writing just in case) so that if it blows up, they knew the risk.

      Figuring out how to let things fail to get change is difficult, because sometimes you get the blame. I’m not sure how most people do it, but I do the “warn 1, warn 2, warn 3, then let fail” approach.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I wish I had an upvote button. This is the absolute truth.

        If you’re working 12+ hour days and burning out, that’s your problem. If your group is leaving medium-priority projects undone due to staffing issues, that’s management’s problem. Guess which problem gets solved first?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds like the grocery business. Monstrosities buy up little chains and “Oh keep everything the same because you make a lot of money.”
      That lasts for a bit then the Monstrosity says, “Whoops, you aren’t following procedures….” And here comes the bs.
      And they lie. A LOT. “You don’t need more staff.” And they know full well that you do.

      Actions speak louder than words. It’s okay to believe their behavior, they are showing you who they are and how they plan on handling things.

      I am not sure what motivational words you are looking for? So this is what I got: It’s time to move on. You can have a better company than this to work for.

    5. Observer*

      Well, it sounds like Big Corp is going to do right by you. That’s the good news. And that’s the thing to focus on as it seems like they are trying to do things the right way going forward.

      I can imagine how frustrated you must be, though. The idea that your boss KNEW that you were so drastically understaffed but still kept on telling you that you don’t need any help? That’s straight up abusive. And that is who the real jerk in this story is.

      YOU are not the jerk – you were being exploited by someone whose job it was to get you the resources you need.

  4. Remote Eligibility Confusion*

    I need some perspective on something that happened when I applied for a remote position.

    I keep close track of several companies that are celebrated in my field and are known to have a good remote culture. One of them recently had an opening that I matched with, so I applied directly on their site. There were some specifics that boded well for me, such as that they wanted someone in my time zone and someone with background in an industry that’s a bit unusual for my field. So, I applied with fingers crossed.

    A few days later, I came across a new listing on FlexJobs that looked like the same position. I clicked on it to see the details, wanting to make sure it was in fact a duplicate rather than a second position. Right away, the site gave me a pop-up that the company was not accepting applications from my specific state, and it would not allow me to click through.

    This experience has me confused and frustrated. The company itself accepted my (very long, detailed, and time-consuming) application, but if FlexJobs is to be believed, I’m not actually eligible to work there. I’ve worked remotely for decades and I completely understand that companies may have those sort of limitations, but I’m finding it strange that the company’s own brand page didn’t offer this information.

    Has anyone had this sort of experience before?

    1. NotAPirate*

      Sometimes companies listings on other websites get all screwy. I try and apply directly to the company website listing if at all possible.

      I know for remote work there are some issues with specific states employment laws, and those states sometimes deliberately excluded, so if they didn’t mess up the listing it might be something like that.

    2. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

      it’s not something that’s happened to me before, but given you could apply through their website, I’d be inclined to say that the info there probably is more accurate than if the ad is reposted elsewhere

      1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

        Agreeing with this, or it could have been mixed up with another position – they wanted someone in a particular area, and clicked the wrong button on the wrong listing. Applying on a company website always feels more legit than a third-party site – you never know where the listing could have been modified.

    3. AVP*

      Totally agree here – I used to post jobs regularly for my old company on one industry-specific site, but they’d often get picked up by the larger sites and get mangled in the transition. If their own site took your application, I think it’s most likely that the job is open to you and the FlexJobs bot has a mistake on it.

    4. Honor Harrington*

      I work at VeryLargeCompany, and all job requisitions we open on our careers site automatically show on certain large job opening aggregation sites. Unfortunately what exists in our careers site (like, allow applications from anywhere) may not flow correctly to the job aggregator. Likewise, when a requisition is closed at our careers site, it may not show as closed on the aggregator. After all, they need to show they have umpty zillion open jobs in order to get candidates to use them.

    5. Uranus Wars*

      I have never experienced it, but this could be a glitch. Some companies have to be authorized to do business in a state before they can have a remote employee live there. Most likely their HR knows that, not a third-party site. If the company knows where you live I would follow their lead and assume it was a glitch on Flex Jobs part.

    6. ArtK*

      When you work remotely, your job is governed by the laws of your state, not the state where corporate HQ is. It may be that the company doesn’t want to deal with the labor laws in your state. I’m sure that HR professions could enumerate other reasons to avoid employees in certain states.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, it happens.
      Different people or recruiters may post the same job to different sites. They might not know all of the rules about remote work and which states have agreements to work with other states. You’d have to look up the parent company state and see if that state can hire workers from other states. Honestly, for being one country, the United States aren’t very “united.”

  5. eager beaver*

    Short version: I asked for a promotion that now I’m not sure that I’ve earned. What do I do now?

    Long version: I work for a small nonprofit that has managed to thrive in the pandemic, despite our partner agencies struggling. We are well funded and have curated an incredible team who drove into problem solving before the pandemic even hit. I’m very proud of what I do and who I do it with.

    I’ve worked here a little less than a year. I was hired at entry level because I had just graduated college, but I worked full time during college and graduated late. I was glad for the opportunity at the time, but now I regret not negotiating for a higher title and salary when I was hired, as I have since learned many of my coworkers successfully did. (But, what’s done is done and I know it was no ones fault but my own.)

    It’s hard to judge this objectively, but I’ve been told by just about everyone that I’ve kicked ass in this role. I have solved problems, created resources, expanded my responsibilities, filled in for higher roles when needed, and have recently launched several projects that could forever impact the way we provide our services. However, when I think of my incredible coworkers, I notice that they are doing these kinds of things too, even if they are doing it with more time between achievements.

    Anyway, the point of all this- out of the blue, my ED called me to tell me I was going to get a raise. Which is wonderful, and I was sincerely glad! But with all of the above in mind, I had been preparing for my annual review for months. I had an entire plan. And this phone call shot that plan out of the sky and took any negotiating power away from me; the raise was predetermined and it was framed in a way that the amount was hard to make work due to the pandemic, so I wasn’t comfortable attempting to negotiate for more.

    Instead I asked for a title bump and gave the highly condensed version of my original plan. My ED said it was good reasoning, but it was up to my supervisor and I’d have to talk to him.

    My supervisor and I have talked briefly about it, but for many (real) reasons there hasn’t been a good time to restart this negotiation. I’ll have to do it soon; we’ve been circling it for a couple of weeks now. But now that I’ve had time to reflect, I can recognize the following is true:
    – I am a junior/entry level employee
    – I havent been there even one year yet
    – the economy is in tatters and nonprofits everywhere are panicking
    – I’ve already been granted a raise (though every staff member got the same one)
    – My accomplishments are exceptional, but genuinely every one of my coworkers has been doing something exceptional lately. These are exceptional times
    – I’m not interested in looking like a foolish upstart who is getting ahead of themselves (and I cant tell if that’s a realistic fear or just my own anxiety acting up)

    What do you think I should do?
    (If you read this whole thing, thank you so much for your time!)

    1. ThatGirl*

      I wouldn’t compare yourself to your coworkers r worry too much about the economy in regards to this; do you feel that you deserve a new title? Would it really change anything if you got it? Would you have more responsibility or is it just a way to recognize your efforts?

      If it’s not truly a promotion, but a way to recognize your efforts, I wouldn’t feel bad about asking for it.

      On the other hand, if you truly feel it’s premature, you could go back to your ED and say that you’ve thought about it, and you’re putting that request on hold for now.

      1. eager beaver*

        You bring up a good point that I forgot to include in the first post. After I asked my ED, my supervisor let me know that there is no such a thing as just a title bump. They always come with a raise, and for my level, it’s a very significant one (~25%, taking me from a below market salary to a competitive one). That was a major motivating factor in why I’ve been waiting to bring it up again.

        1. ThatGirl*

          In that case, I agree with annony below – maybe approach it from “what would I need to accomplish to earn this promotion if I haven’t already”? I also might wait till you’re right about at the one-year mark, just so it’s more formalized.

    2. Taura*

      You’d know better than I would about the financial side of things, so I won’t make any suggestions about that. About the title bump though – do you have job descriptions for the title you have now and the title you want? If you haven’t already done so, it may be worth pointing out that you’ve checked all the boxes for the higher title. The only exception to this I can think of, since you’ve been there less than a year is that it might say “must do x, y, and z, AND be in the position for 2 years”. In that case, there’s probably not much you can do about it at the moment, but you could keep it on the radar as part of tracking your other accomplishments.

    3. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

      You seem to have good arguments for why you should get a promotion. Go for it!

      1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

        Don’t think too much about how you compare to your coworkers. That’s your boss’ headache. You can only control yourself.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. You sound very enthused about your job and the work you are doing.

          Don’t argue your boss’ case for them. It’s up to the boss to argue the boss’ case. Just argue your side of the story. If you have saved the company money/time, have those numbers at your finger tips.

          I am wondering if you are getting cold feet now that you have started this process. A lot of people get cold feet in instances like this. I am wondering if you are thinking you painted yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of. Okay so thinking this corner problem through, what type of answer from the boss would cause you to change your mind? Know what types of answers you are looking for. If you do have to back down, I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking if the two of you could look at this question again in a year. Then mark your calendar for follow up.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t ask for what you want, who will?

      If you are wrong about the title bump, your supervisor will tell you. Unless you’re asking for something outlandish, there’s nothing wrong about it.

      You said everyone’s getting the same raise, so there’s no problem with $ equity. If your coworkers want title bumps too, they can ask for it.

      You have to respect the fact that everyone else in this situation is also a grownup who knows how to do their job. You don’t have to do it for them by squashing yourself.

    5. Annony*

      I don’t think you will look foolish so long as you are having a discussion rather than pushing super hard for the title bump. By that, I mean you lay out your case for why you think you deserve it and then listen to the feedback. If they say no, ask what they need to see from you in order to earn that title bump.

    6. eager beaver*

      Thank you everyone! It’s always nice to be reminded to value myself, and you’re right that there’s no use trying to make my supervisor’s choices for him.

      ThatGirl brought up a relevant point that I forgot to include in my first post: my org does not do title bumps. It is a full promotion, with a new title and new salary. Other people at this level make 25% more than me (their salary is competitive, mine is below average). Its also relevant that most (but not all) of the folks at this level have masters degrees and I do not, and that no one in my department has been at this level so there is no existing job description.

      1. Cj*

        I think the fact that most people at your level have masters degrees and you do not, and the fact that you haven’t even been there a year, would make me really hesitant to push this.

      2. RagingADHD*

        This is a very different issue than the “title bump” and raise you originally described.

        Have you actually been doing the work of that role? If so, how long, and how in-depth? It’s one thing to pinch hit for someone who’s out sick for a week or two, and quite different to take over a role permanently. Why do most people at that level have a Master’s? Do you know enough about the work to know why that Master’s is relevant, and what knowledge & skills you have that would replace it?

        I mean, it’s not impostor syndrome if you actually aren’t qualified. Being a rockstar at your entry-level job is unlikely to be the equivalent of a large level jump in skills and experience.

        Assuming your supervisor is a decent person, it’s a constructive conversation to have. But I’d definitely frame it as “what do you need to see for me to move into this role” rather than “I believe I am ready for this.”

    7. Just Me*

      I think it depends in part on the type of title change you are asking for. If you are Project Assistant and you want to be called Senior Project Assistant, I’d hold off. If you are Project Assistant and there’s a title that would better describe your job like Project Developer and put you in line with your colleagues then it’s probably worth pursuing. If you want to hold off, I don’t think you lose anything by just not bringing it up. You don’t have to close the loop, so to speak.

      If you do want to purse it, I’d discuss it at your annual review if you are having one. If they are not doing reviews, I’d email the boss and say: I was hoping we could get a short meeting on the calendar to finish the discussion about how my role has changed over the past year and the potential for a new title.

  6. hats r us*

    In your opinion, in what capacity should a manager be there for venting from their team?

    In my work I try not to be the “listening ear” so much as somebody who pushes for solutions. What is your expectation or approach (as an employee and or manager)?

    1. NotAPirate*

      I struggled with this as a Postdoc. I think as a manager you should not be there for venting. Venting is best left to friends outside your place of work, or peers at work if you really have to, preferably outside the workday (happy hour etc). Venting excessively can really drag a whole team down. Venting to managers can also create a culture of disrespect if you’re not careful or if your employees have boundary issues.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. One of the reasons I left my last job and company was because my manager sat around and bitched about EVERYTHING from deadlines to annoying sales people to picky clients all day long. That was the most draining experience, and it really made me question her professionalism. I started job searching six months in to that position and ended up leaving after 17 months.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          To clarify – she vented all day with one of my coworkers. They were both equally annoying and unprofessional.

    2. Morning Glory*

      I think it’s really context dependent, and also I’m not sure how to interpret how you describe yourself.

      By someone who pushes for solutions do you mean that you listen to employee problems and then, if there is a legitimate issue, you push higher ups for institutional change at your organization? Or that you tell your employees to solve their own problems?

      1. hats r us*

        I mean, both, depending on the issue. I was trying to make the distinction between venting/complaining to communicate an issue that needs to be changed and venting basically as a goal unto itself. As a manger, I can work quite well with the former–no matter whether it’s something I’ll coach the employee how to resolve or whether it’s something I’ll need to discuss with higher ups–but I have trouble with the latter, if an employee treats the conversation more like a vent session between friends and getting a solution is an afterthought to them.

    3. Time_TravelR*

      But sometimes there is no solution so a vent is needed/wanted. Maybe that’s the difference?? I appreciate that I can vent to my manager even though (especially with something we are dealing with right now) I can vent even though I know there is no way to resolve it. We both need that from time to time as we are in a very frustrating phase with our company.

      1. hats r us*

        It would probably help to know where I’m coming from: A former team member was really stressed (partly because the work was stressful, partly because his self-organization skills could be improved) and I got the strong impression that his strategy to resolve the situation was: get a lot of really long vent sessions in, feel better due to the venting, never (on his own accord) get to the strategies we discussed that would make his day less stressful, repeat.
        I’m sure more effective boundary setting from my side would have helped some (“Which of the strategies we discussed last time have you implemented so far? Oh, none? Then you should take the time right now to try one out.”), but I was somewhat at a loss how to get to a meaningful improvement with somebody who was going for the vents as the main strategy.

        Now I try to find a good middleground between listening to my team and talking about solutions, though I definitely see the main focus of my job on the solution side. And I was wondering how others go about this.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          In that specific situation, I would definitely go the “You’ve brought this up before and we talked about some solutions. Have you tried any out?” No, I just like complaining. “Sure, I get that, but I also think this is doesn’t need to be such a big problem. Over the next (period of time), could you work on (solution) for me? Let’s talk about how that could work. Do you need help (setting reminders/reorganizing/whatever)?” – Basically, gently but firmly strong-arm them into trying a fix, and keep checking up on it over the next few days or weeks. If the first thing doesn’t improve the situation, try another.

          In other situations, where neither the complainant nor I had any power to really change things, it truly was appropriate to say “Yeah, I agree and I’m sorry. I’ll pass on your feedback but I realistically, I think this is how it is for now.” Sometimes a manager’s job is to hear and witness, and if you go straight to solutions (“well, what if you just thought positive about how our employer is working you to death? What if you had an upbeat outlook about how some of your peers are able to exploit the incentive structure in really unfair ways?”) you’re just blowing them off and eroding trust in you.

          1. hats r us*

            Thanks for your tips!

            Right now I don’t think I’m in danger of eroding trust by taking situations more lightly than they are.
            With this specific coworker it was more an issue that the unproductive venting sessions took 45 minutes and more without a lot of noticeable improvements along the way.

            Funnily enough I’m now in a position to help with the parts of his issue that he couldn’t change (because it wasn’t in his power).

      2. Sunset Maple*

        This is where I land–sometimes there simply is no solution. My team vents to our boss about having to come to work when we could do our jobs perfectly well at home, but it’s been handed down from the C suite that they want everyone on-site. Period. They don’t care what the governor says or what’s safe, they want butts in seats.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      Some, but not excessive.

      I think you want to have relationship where they can vent a little, especially about actual issues, so that they can feel able to tell you something is wrong.

      On other hand, it should – usually – be able to be turned into something you can help resolve. There are advantages to listening just to offer an ear, but it’s important that it’s not the norm.

      You definitely don’t want to become the venting-to person!

      So… yes, not excessive, and except in rare cases, after initial venting, angled towards solving problem.

      All my opinion of course!

    5. Zombeyonce*

      I think a manager should allow for some venting to get to the actual problem so a solution can be found. Sometimes a report can have a problem but not realize the full extent of it until it’s talked out, and if you just ask them for potential solutions they won’t be able to give you any because they are so deep in the problem or burnt out that they are just treading water and not even close to solution territory. They also may not have the full picture and allowing for venting can actually give you as a manager valuable information into how they see the problem and what exactly they think it is (when their interpretation isn’t always correct or the full issue when they’re missing a larger institutional perspective).

      Asking a report to bring you solutions is good and can push them to work a problem, but it’s not always practical depending on the actual problem. If it’s a personnel issue w/other departments, they may not know what is possible or allowed in terms of solutions. If it’s a hardware/software issue, they may not have the experience to recommend something better. Etc., etc., etc. Being flexible depending on the situation will get you a better outcome.

      Another point: if you never offer a listening ear, you’re missing out on very valuable information from your reports about the state of your department. You’ll never know about that employee that is great when you’re around but everyone hates because they push their work off on others when you’re not looking and needs to be fired. You’ll never hear about the client that’s a sexist jerk to the women in your office because your employees think you don’t want to hear their legitimate complaints because you cut them off when they started venting about a problem one day. Be more open and you’ll have a much healthier group.

      1. hats r us*

        Thanks, that’s helpful! I have regular 1:1 meetings with each of my team members and I do think we strike the balance there quite well. I intend it as a space where they can share what’s going on with them, which work issues have come up etc. On the other hand, the meetings are time-limited so it’s basically not possible to get into unproductive spirals.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Asking them to bring you solutions: That’s fine except it’s used as a way to get off the “managerial hook” and not take responsibility. I’d be sure to include that I would take suggestions on how I could help. This could mean order specials supplies or equipment. It could mean re-configuring work areas and many other things.

        You can use their suggestions to teach about limitations and to teach about bigger picture issues. For example, if a person offered me solution ABC, I might end up just using A and C then explaining why we can’t use B. Over time these explanations helped them to craft BETTER solutions because they saw the range we had to keep.

        I never listened to a lot of venting. Let’s say running commentary was on how tiring X process was. I would respond by saying, “Let’s see if we can kick some ideas around so that X isn’t such a killer. Let’s keep this as an on-going conversation until we agree that X is better.”

        Then there were things I just would never be able to fix. I’d simply say, “Yeah, that part stinks but there’s not much we can do about it.”

    6. Roza*

      I agree with what Time_TravelR said. Generally it’s more useful to be in “push for solutions” mode. But sometimes there are issues that don’t lend themselves to immediate solutions, or that rely on folks many levels up to fix. In that case, I’ve found being able to vent (professionally!)/just openly acknowledge the stress and work problems the situation was causing to my manager without judgement is hugely valuable, and improved my morale considerably.

      My company has had several stretches of extreme under-resourcing and disorganization (senior leadership has a tendency to get excited about the shiny new thing and ignore existing client commitments). This results in teams on existing projects not only being left without resources for major releases, but also basically feeling invisible because all the C-suite talks about is shiny new thing. During one of these stretches, I had a manager who, even though there was nothing “actionable” either of us could do re: staffing to avoid the deadline crunch, was very sympathetic about how hard it was on the team, and it made a huge difference to me. Contrast that with a different manager I had during a similar stretch who actually criticized me for complaining about something without giving “actionable” recommendations (anything actionable would have involved the company C-suite)…that absolutely shattered my morale. It felt like, in addition to all of the stress of the job, I wasn’t even allowed to feel stressed about it, I couldn’t even acknowledge it was a problem because the power to change it was way above my pay grade. I ended up leaving that team. Had my manager at the time just been willing to listen to me for five minutes and nod along, I’d likely still be on that team (they’ve tried to bring me back. Nope).

    7. Kathenus*

      This is a great topic. I’ve had conversations with my teams over the years on this. My opinion, and what I’ve offered to employees, is that I understand that venting can be cathartic, and I am happy to be there for them as a sounding board for this. But, I also define venting – it’s a release of concerns/frustrations/stress without any expectation that this action will improve the situation. So if someone just needs that release valve, to lower their stress level or keep from acting out inappropriately due to the situation, I’m there for them.

      But I also make it clear that venting without then trying to work on resolving the situation, and then continuing to be upset or frustrated by that situation, is unproductive. So if they keep coming to me to vent about the same situation, and aren’t interested/willing to try to take steps to actually resolve it, then it moves into ‘bring it up or suck it up’ territory. That one time venting, fine. But if someone keeps being upset about something they aren’t willing to try to fix, at that point I tell them they either need to either ‘bring it up’ in a problem-solving way (especially with interpersonal conflicts), or ‘suck it up’ and I don’t want to keep hearing about it unless they are willing to be part of a solution.

      1. dear liza dear liza*

        I have a very similar philosophy. When people start a complaint, I clarify whether they are looking to vent or if they are looking to brainstorm solutions. I also emphasize that I’m not going to referee day-to-day interpersonal matters. If your neighbor plays their music too loud and you can hear it through the headphones, you need to address this with the neighbor. Usually, people want ME to do so- and in such a way that the complainer’s name never comes up or is implicated. No go- I’ll role play some conversations with you, but this is something you need to do.

      2. hats r us*

        Vent once, then problem solve or keep it to yourself sounds good! I’ll try to remember that.

        I wouldn’t deploy it in a situation like Roza describes, where the current situation would be more like a series of (short) conversations about where we stand, but it’s a great strategy if people lean too heavily on the venting. Thanks.

    8. Lady Heather*

      As an employee, ideally I’d like clarity from my manager if I’m doing something they don’t want me to do. If I’m venting (which I don’t tend to do at work, especially not with managers.. but this goes for any interaction, hierarchical or not, work or not) and they want me to stop, cut me off and say “What do you need help with?” or “What do you need from me here?” and if that doesn’t work, “It doesn’t sound like we’re getting anywhere except in a negative spiral. I’m going to end this conversation. Let me know when there is something I can do.”
      (I don’t do well with subtle clues at the best of times, and most people do badly at subtle clues when they’re venting, so be very explicit and cut it down.)

      If venting is rare and/or legitimate, I think the gracious thing to do is to just suffer through it. Some venting can be OK because the situation kind of warrants annoyance (tight deadline while understaffed – this is *hopefully* rare), or because it’s helpful (social worker venting about their cases so they can get it out of their head and sleep well at night). Though ideally, at least the helpful/necessary venting is prenegiotiated with a ‘hey, can I vent at you’.

      1. hats r us*

        Oh, I have done the “What do you need help with?” with an employee who tends to ramble (and in my opinion judge coworkers unfairly). I have noticed lately that I have become more impatient/solution-focused at the same time as my work volume has risen and I now understand senior coworkers better who are very to-the-point. On the other hand, I do not want to alienate my team. I don’t want our interactions to feel like a brush-off, even if they are short.

    9. Littorally*

      It’s important that you have your ear to the ground for your employees’ satisfaction with their work. If you don’t want to hear about it except in strictly solution-oriented discussions, you risk missing a lot of stuff that your employees aren’t empowered to fix for whatever reason, but which you could push for a solution for.

      But that has more to do with passive listening than active one-on-one conversations with your employees. Obviously covid changes everything, but in general, are you in a position to hear your employees discussing things like “man, I can’t believe we have to use this laggy outdated system for booking appointments? it crashes twice a day and it’s driving me bananas”? Your folks booking appointments probably have no power to push for a change to the computer programs used, but that’s something you could take up on their behalf.

      You don’t need to be an infinite listening ear, but in your shoes, I’d err on the side of wanting to hear more from your employees, not less.

    10. Lora*

      In general I want this:
      -You’re mad about a thing, and here are some different solutions you thought of, and you’re looking for guidance which to pursue
      -You’re mad about a thing, and you have already tried some solutions but they didn’t work, and you’re looking for advice on next steps or escalation support
      -You’re mad about a thing, and you have no idea what to do about it, and you’re looking for suggestions/guidance on what to do.

      Venting is what Friday Night Happy Hour is for,

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I would add one more thing I am OK with one a one-off.
        -You’re frustrated about a thing, there is no solution because it’s just how it needs to be done, but you need a one-time session to get it out of your system.

    11. AMB*

      I think it matters what kinds of things the employees are venting about. As an employee, I would never vent to a manager about something they had the capacity to fix, or something the company was doing, and I would find it odd and off-putting if they responded to my raising concerns as though I were just venting. However, I might open the door for a little bit of venting about, say, bad client behavior (though even then I probably wouldn’t initiate it).

      1. hats r us*

        Bad client behavior is a difficult one for me, as my team is remotely working with clients all day and I am wary of establishing/enforcing an impression that clients are annoying and unreasonable (the overwhelming majority of our clients is good to work with). So I try to stay out of complaints/raise the customer perspective whenever it makes sense. Of course if there is a truly unreasonable client I don’t deny that and empathize with the team member. It’s just that the team sometimes has an “us vs. them” attitude when these people are paying us and pretty reasonable to work with to boot…

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I remember saying to a friend once, “why can’t Jane just complain about me behind my back like a normal employee” because her “venting” were things she just didn’t like about me. The fact that I wore a dress everyday, the fact that I wasn’t touchy feely enough, I didn’t share enough of my personal life, I drew too much of a line between work and personal when we spend more time together than our families do…

      3. allathian*

        I think this is a very important point. Raising a concern is not the same as venting! There’s something seriously wrong in an organization if management won’t listen to employee concerns until they reach the point of venting, if then. Or if employees don’t feel empowered enough to raise concerns when they could be discussed in a professional, normal way and instead wait until they can’t do anything except vent.

        I haven’t really vented at work except on one issue, the stupid request tracker system that we’re forced to use. It’s appropriate for customer service where a task takes minutes, hours or at the very most days. Not so much in my writing job, where some stuff has been pending for a year. We can’t get out of using the system, but thanks to a few venting sessions, we’ve been able to push for a few changes to improve it a bit for us. Also, the bosses I’ve had while we’ve had this system don’t care if we take a task from the queue just before completing it and never set it to pending. They’ve never used the system to track our performance, there are more effective ways of doing that. It’s actually a relief to have managerial approval for malicious compliance! We use the system in a way that’s the least onerous for us, not in such a way that would result in useful performance reports for management. That said, the C-suite seems to be getting the message that the system isn’t useful for most of the org apart from customer service and changes are coming.

  7. Lizzy May*

    This is probably too broad, but do any Canadians have any tips for applying to jobs with the federal government. I know it’s a totally different world and strangely, despite living in Ottawa, I don’t have any friends who are public servants. The things I read online suggest matching words in the job description exactly in my resume and cover letter. That seems so gimmicky and not at all my voice but if that’s accurate, I’ll do it.

    1. Enough*

      Don’t know about Canada but sounds like what everyone says about applying to US government jobs.

    2. Colette*

      You don’t have to match the words exactly. You do need to specifically explain how you meet the requirement.

      A federal government posting will have several sections – language requirements (CBC, BBB, English/French Essential) – you pretty much have to meet those.
      Then there will be the essential requirements – you also need those.
      And finally there will be “would be nice” requirements, which are called something else that I don’t recall. These ones you don’t need but will still help you.

      When you apply, you will be asked about your language skills, then you will be asked about each mandatory requirement. You need to clearly explain how you meet each mandatory requirement, and link it back to your resume. For example, if the requirement is “experience painting teapot spouts”, you would say “In my role as Head Teapot Painter at Teapots R Us, I painted teapots spouts as well as lids. In my previous job at Teapot Emporium, I specialized in painting teapot spouts”

      Sometimes the essential requirements have definitions (recent = last 5 years, significant = 2 years experience) – make sure that the fact that you meet those are also laid out in your answer.

      Then you get to the additional requirements; you will have the same opportunity to explain how you meet them.

      After you submit your application, you wait. I’d expect to wait at least a couple of months. After that, you may get asked to write a test, fill out a job history (again, can’t remember the words), or take other steps. And then you wait again.

      It’s a long process. I’d be happy to answer other questions – you can get to my email here:

    3. Bradhold*

      Hi, fellow Ottawan here. I’m not employed with the government, but I’ve gone through the process a couple of times.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the AAM advice here regarding resumes and applications is completely irrelevant when it comes to applying for Canadian government positions. The advice you’ve seen online is largely correct. It may not be your voice, but those responsible for hiring have criteria that must be met for the job. Highlighting your accomplishments and other achievements in your career isn’t going to earn you points, it will hinder the evaluation of your skillset and experience.

      When you look at the job posting, the criteria for the position is laid out. Your resume and/or cover letter needs to be explicit in how you meet the listed criteria.

      For a few years when I was still trying to escape retail and get into a field that matched my education, I actually maintained two resume versions: one for the government, and one for everywhere else, since they were so vastly different.

      I can let some other federal employees weigh in as well, but this has been my experience.

    4. uncivil servant*

      I work for the federal government! And I’ve been hired three times through applications (I clearly suck at networking, haha) so I do think I know something about this.

      Your applications are going to be EXTREMELY stodgy sounding. Do not worry about using the same word 14 times in a paragraph. Do not even think about voice. Do be clear, and be extremely precise about what exactly you did. If they ask about something fuzzy like client service, don’t just write that you provided service to clients. Don’t write that you provided exceptional client service, improved client response times, and got outstanding feedback. Write that you responded to questions providing validation on procedures to internal clients by email, over the phone, and in person.

      If you are looking to get into program, adminstration, or policy work, you need to apply to pools. Take casual employment when offered. Yes, this sucks if you’re leaving a decent job. The PS doesn’t care. I work in a more specialized field so I don’t really understand the pool system, but this is what I’ve heard.

      There’s a good guide on the r/CanadaPublicServants subreddit.

      1. Department of Very Big Teapots/Ministère des très grandes théières*

        Yes to pools; yes to the subreddit. And if by any chance you’re attending school full-time, don’t miss out on the FSWEP program. I’ve known several people who have gone back to school in their 30s and 40s who got bridged in as FSWEP students: some managers are known to exclusively hire older students because they have some work experience behind them, are eager to prove themselves, and like having new challenges. (This is not to diss younger students!)
        Another “in”: There aren’t as many of them as there were twenty years ago, but some temp agencies in Ottawa do still match potential employees with different departments and crown corporations. In the late 1990s, it was an easy in – not so easy now, but it still happens, especially if you have specialized IT or accounting skills, or are an experienced project manager.

      2. Canuck girl*

        Thanks for the subreddit and extensive advice! I’ve also been on the lookout for a good career move that might be at the fed govt and still haven’t given up, though I hear things are slower now due to Covid and most people working from home.

        1. uncivil servant*

          They are. My department had a hiring freeze on before all this started, and it’s gotten worse. But you never know. My section recently got director approval for two new hires, and one will have to be an external process. That’s more hiring than we’ve done for years.

    5. Canuck girl*

      Hey there – I’ve applied several times myself and sought similar advice from former colleagues who became civil servants. I agree with what others wrote about wording, language and candidate pools. Another piece of advice was this – you must meet the requirements listed as “Essential”, if you don’t have those, forget it, you’ll be filtered out. The requirements listed as “Asset” are nice to have and may help tip the scale in your favour against someone with similar qualifications. Good luck!

    6. Canuck*

      I wrote my cover letter in my own way, but I also work in a specialised field so it might be different than most. I included some really basic Essential things such as saying that I’m a Canadian citizen, although I put that at the end and I don’t know if it mattered. I have successfully moved around several jobs in the public service so I have some experience.

      My one bit of advice: if you can be an admin then apply for those jobs. They are high turnover and get you into the system so that you can apply to better jobs internally. This wasn’t a good option for my technical field but I know policy and finance people who have successfully done this.

  8. August*

    How is everyone who’s job searching dealing with risk management during COVID? I’m currently working in state government, and have been left completely in the dark on how things are going to shake out re: budgets/layoffs. I’ve got an interview with what appears to be a fairly stable and well-funded nonprofit. But it’s still a nonprofit, and it just feels inherently risky to me right now. But then again, some government positions are up in the air… [repeat in my head ad infinitum]

    1. Zombeyonce*

      While I’m not currently job searching, I’d go ahead and apply for that job if I were you. If you get interviewed, grill them about their funding. Where does it come from, is it guaranteed, how many years are covered, what percentage of the organization does it fund (aka how secure is this specific position and for how long), etc.? If they balk at your questions, that’s a red flag in the current economic climate and will tell you a lot. I think after talking with them about funding, you’ll have a better sense of how risky it is. And if you don’t, that should give you your answer right there.

    2. Nothing But Flowers*

      I think it is reasonable to apply, and then have a frank discussion in the interview/offer phase if you get there. Some nonprofits may have endowments or angel donors that will help smooth their finances for a few years, or this could be such an essential position that it will be there as long as the nonprofit exists.

      I think *everything* is risky right now. You won’t have perfect information, but I don’t think anyone who is hiring right now would be surprised to be asked for some assurances about the medium-term health of the organization.

  9. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I applied for an internal position that I’m really excited about. I had two phone interviews, one with a person I’d be working with, one with the person I’d be replacing. They both were enthusiastic about my qualifications. I had an in-person interview with the head of the department and she was concerned it would take me awhile to learn one of the important skills involved in the job. She’s interviewing two external candidates next week; they both have a Master’s degree, which she thinks will give them an advantage with the important skill. I have a Bachelor’s. She admitted my being an internal candidate was good but I still feel like I’m not her top pick. Any suggestions on how I can improve my candidacy? Should I have a mutual co-worker give me a recommendation?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It sounds like her main focus is this one skill which, to her at least, is incredibly important. Do you have this skill? Do you have any experience at all with this skill? Are you known to be an incredibly quick learner with new skills similar to this one? If you have an opportunity to speak with the department head again (have you already sent a thank you note? I’d use that time space to address these concerns. If you have a colleague who knows you and the department head well, and it is not out-of-line or out-of-place to do so, perhaps they can shoot over a quick note or have a conversation that mentions the above. I think it’s important you address her actual concerns about your fit for the role – rather than trying to highlight other areas of your candidacy that you think she should weigh more heavily.

  10. Friday*

    I’m currently job hunting and wondering if anyone has experience with recruiters who randomly contact you on LinkedIn. If so, what was your experience like? How do you know whether you should work with them or not? What are some important things to consider or watch out for?

    1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

      I recently had a recruiter contact me on LinkedIn but it turns out her account was hacked (she sent me a message a few weeks after I had replied). Given that was my only experience, I’m a little leery.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been contacted by various recruiters on LinkedIn, and ended up talking to some of them. I would check out their profiles and see how legit they look, and whether they work for an agency, or directly for the company. Get a job description. It usually can’t hurt to have a short conversation, though I will say that I’ve never gotten farther than a first phone screen with any of them. But they were generally for legitimate jobs.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Same here – all were for legitimate jobs, and more recently they were for postings that were actually relevant as well. Prior to that, it’s like they read my first job from several years ago and just….thought that’s what I was still doing, regardless of what else was on my profile.

        Sometimes they work out, but I’ve also had them just ghost me as well, which is frustrating. My husband though has gotten a goodly portion of his jobs from random recruiters contacting him.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I respond to some of them. I have yet to have it pan out — once I did get as far as an offer, but I didn’t want to take the offer and then the recruiter got REALLY pushy. More often the case: the recruiter has been searching for anyone with their desired keywords and will then contact anyone who fits the search criteria, even when spending 30 seconds actually reading that person’s profile would show that the job isn’t the right fit. (I get a lot of requests for people wanting me to meet about a job at a much lower level of seniority than I have, for example, just because they’re searching for “writer” and my title is “Pooh-Bah Manager of Writers.”)

      If the position is at least lateral to mine, I’ll message back and say “I’m not interested in a lateral move, but let me know if you have anything more senior,” which usually leads to “I got nothing, but can you give me the names of other people who would want THIS job?”

      So…not usually fruitful IMO, but it doesn’t cost me much to at least ask the question. YMMV by industry of course!

    4. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      I’ve had multiple experiences that run the gamut – some that never reply to my message again, some who act interested and then immediately reject me when I apply, and some that actually are real people who have real jobs to share. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell – I wouldn’t get too caught up in any one recruiter’s position, but in my experience, it doesn’t hurt to at least chat briefly with them to learn more.

    5. irene adler*

      Yeah, I’ve experienced this.
      Do they actually have a position to fill? Or are they just out to expand their network? The ‘talk’ can be very similar. Ascertain this before spending any more time with them.

      Does the position sound like something you qualify for (i.e. did the recruiter actually read your profile?)? Are they asking you, a vice-president, to interview for an entry level $12/hour position? Or are they suggesting that you, a biochemist, would be a perfect fit to work as a life insurance salesman (happened to me!)?

      What is the industry of expertise that they work in? Is this the same industry you work in? Don’t spend time with someone who is simply trying to fill job vacancies with bodies. They should have knowledge of the industry.

      And, I’ll add that most of the time -for me- these don’t work out. I’m mostly contacted for temp or contract positions. No thanks.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Do they actually have a position to fill? Or are they just out to expand their network? The ‘talk’ can be very similar. Ascertain this before spending any more time with them.

        I second this wholeheartedly. For some reason, I’ve been getting a lot of recruiter pokes lately with nothing specific in mind, and I have not found them to be useful. (I’m not actively looking, either, though, so I am less inclined to spend my time discussing hypotheticals.)

        It sounds like irene adler and I have had similar experiences in these situations. The one that are pitching me entry-level positions in unrelated industries when I clearly have almost two decades of experience in a specific industry drive me nuts.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I think a lot just want to expand their connections. Which, OK. I don’t mind so much as long as not pushy.
          A few did have actual positions, but I wasn’t a good fit for 99% of them. One kind of was, but it was just too far away.
          Whatever you do, don’t give out personal information beyond LinkedIn. There are a lot of phishing and catfishing going on there lately. I keep getting the catfishing guys who want to “connect” and message. Which I suspect is just a scam of some type. Ugh!

    6. voluptuousfire*

      Agency recruiters can be hit and miss. I’ve had so many contact me saying they had jobs that I would be a fit for then when you speak to them, the jobs disappear and they want you to come up and meet them. (In better times, of course). Definitely ask what jobs are available and for job descriptions. If they hem and haw, just bid them good day. They’re likely trying to build up their pipeline which is fine but at least be honest about not having a role that’s a fit! Networking is great but be direct about it.

      As for direct recruiters sourcing for candidates, once in awhile. Again, very hit and miss. I either was contacted for roles that were either a carbon copy of what I was doing or was something that was similar but I had no interest in. I’m a recruitment coordinator and I had been contacted about recruiter roles and lead RC roles which required managing people, both of which I know I don’t want to do.

    7. Nicki Name*

      It’s extremely common in my industry (tech), and I’ve gotten most of my jobs via recruiters who contacted me. However, recruiters vary a lot. A couple things I look at:

      1. Does it look like they’ve actually read my info, or are they randomly contacting anyone they find in sorta the same line of work as a listing they have? (Less of a problem on LinkedIn than, say, Dice, where I’ve gotten excellent leads but the price is that for the next couple years after a job hunt, I get e-mails from sketchy recruiters spamming every address they’ve scraped from there with job listings that are not even in my time zone.)

      2. Are they working from some centralized national (or even offshore!) call center, or are they clearly local to my metropolitan area? Locally based tends to correlate well with usefulness for me.

    8. ArtK*

      I’ve been contacted quite a bit. Some get discarded right away because they are clearly doing keyword searches and spamming anyone with something that “matches.” Like the one who wanted to talk to me about a facilities engineering job (i.e. maintain the building’s HVAC, elevators, etc.) when I’m a software engineer. If they haven’t bothered to read my profile and understand the match, forget it.

      I’ve talked to a few recruiters who did have matching positions or were general enough that it was worth making the connection in case something came up. I met with them and discussed what I was looking for, etc.

      Finally, I did get approached by a recruiter for my “dream job,” but he found me because i had also applied to the company in the past. It got me to an interview, but sadly, no job.

      1. None the Wiser*

        Yeah. I’m a plant scientist (that is, pretty green life forms) who manages a research group. Recruiters reach out for plant (manufacturing facility) manager jobs.

    9. Quinalla*

      I used a recruiter for my last job, he happened to cold call me when I had reached the “had enough!” point at my last job and I ended up using him. He did well as a recruiter, though I had to get firm with him on the amount of phone calling and interview prep he wanted to do with me, but helped negotiate a good salary for me which was great and got me two great interviews before I accepted an offer. I ended up disconnecting from him on linked-in eventually since he consistently made political posts (!) on linked-in like it was Facebook – very odd.

      But yeah, things I look for with recruiters who randomly contact me on linked-in is as others have said did it look like they actually read my profile or are they just scattershotting anyone with engineer in their title and are they connected to people I know in the industry. My industry is pretty niche and a small world so I prefer recruiters that understand it. I’m not looking right now, but I will respond to folks that seem to be good and sometimes even connect just-in-case I need someone in the future to assist in a job search. You never know!

      And yeah, if they are recruiters that actually work for the company, that’s different and I would respond to those unless it doesn’t look like a good match. I’ve never run across one of those as folks rarely use them in our industry. They will sometimes hire 3rd party recruiters especially to fill higher level roles, but not actually hire them into a position. Companies are too small to support that.

    10. Tex*

      I got two of my highest paying jobs from recruiters contacting me through LinkedIn. They were cold contacts, not in my network but they had a specific job they were trying to fill.

    11. Eva Luna*

      My last 2 jobs are ones I got through recruiters who contacted me on LinkedIn. Both were solid opportunities that I wouldn’t have known about because they weren’t widely advertised. I have also been contacted by pushy recruiters who wanted to submit my resume for jobs I wasn’t interested in. It’s usually worth talking to them about the opportunity, and if they are pushy or otherwise set off alarm bells, then you don’t have to proceed.

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

      I usually ignore them, they usually are either inexperienced, desperate or scammy. For example, last year I was contacted by three recruiters eager to fill the same position – little they knew I had already been interviewed and rejected by a fourth one who pretended to be an HR employee. They’re even worse now since the pandemic started.
      Applying through LinkedIn it’s a whole different story.

  11. Flying Ghoti*

    Does anyone here work as a notary loan signing agent? I am looking to start doing loan signings as a side gig in addition to my full-time job, and would be interested in hearing others’ experiences. I’m already an NJ notary public, but I recently signed up for the Notary2Pro course for loan signing and am planning to take the NNA exam when I’m done. Any tips and tricks for starting out would be appreciated!

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Former Notary here: Honestly, in my experience, being a notary is more of a favor for people rather than a way to make real money. I don’t know about NJ laws but where I live, we can only charge $15 for a notary and most know they can get it done for free at their bank.

      I’d look into being a contractor for a title company or the like where you can offer mobile signatory services. I’m not sure just being a notary is going to lead to any major advancement.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I’m a notary in a state where don’t get paid for it. I do it if it needs to get done but at least where I am it’s not any kind of side hustle. I also know other states are different.

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    I manage a team of copywriters. Someone in another department (account) who works closely with my team really wants to be in my department (copy). I’ve known this since he was hired 7 or 8 months ago, and when he was hired I actually initiated a conversation with him about whether he might be interested in my department because I saw some potential in him as a writer. However, he was hired as an account person, he needs to stay in that job for at least a year, and I didn’t have any openings on my team at the time.

    Since then, working with him in his capacity as an account person, he has completely soured me on the possibility of moving him to my department. I still think he has potential to do the work; however, working with him, I find him to be argumentative and acts like he thinks he knows everything. He’s also demanding and doesn’t always treat my direct reports well when he works directly with them. Frankly, I have no interest in managing a know-it-all. I’ve done it before and it always sucks a ton of my mental energy. No thanks.

    Thing is, he still really wants to be a writer, and every couple of months he’ll approach me to remind me that he does. Thus far I’ve been putting him off with “you need to stay in the job you were hired for for a year,” which is true, but it won’t be true forever.

    Do I have a sit-down with this guy and tell him that if he really wants to be a writer, he needs to change his behavior in a significant way? Do I owe him that? At best — but highly unlikely — he actually would change his behavior and be easier to work with as a result. More likely, I think, it would make working with him as an account person, which I and my team still have to do, awkward. At worst, he complains to his superiors that I said this and someone besides him isn’t happy with me.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do you have any sort of relationship with his current manager? Could you collaborate with them on this?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yes, I have a very good relationship with his manager. In fact, one thing his manager wouldn’t like is if this guy changed jobs before his year was up, since his manager needs him to do the work!

        His manager knows that he is interested in becoming a copywriter. I don’t think his manager knows that he’s been approaching me as often as he has. That’s a good point and I should talk to him (the manager) first.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, I think you should have a conversation with the manager first, and be honest that if the dude does want to move, he’d need to both wait the full year (obviously) and work on x, y and z – the manager is in a better spot to relay that feedback and/or work on other development things.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This. Let his current manager handle this that way you don’t appear to be overstepping and going over anyone’s head. Hell, his manager may sympathize and agree with you.

            1. Kolo*

              His manager likely does agree with OP, but there seems (according to OP’s account) to be no changes being made, so either the current manager ISN’T already coaching the employee, or the coaching isn’t being acted on by the employee.

              Either way, possibly current manager would be easily persuaded to allow the employee to transfer to a different manager.

        2. Djuna*

          When you talk to his manager, you could start the conversation by talking about the trouble your team has had when working with him in the past. I usually frame it as “X may not know it, but this kind of stuff is affecting his reputation.” That’s a great thing for a manager to have outside evidence of so they can coach him into having better interactions in general.

          Ideally, you’d have shared some of this with the manager before now, but I know how tricky that can be when someone’s behavior is persistently annoying but not yet egregiously so.

    2. Bex*

      I think there might be an intermediate step where you tell him what you are looking for in a writer, underscoring the areas where he falls short, without explicitly saying “….and you suck at that.” For example, you can highlight that the copy team works in service of others so you need staff who are are open to feedback and criticism, build strong relationships with other departments, understand that other people might be juggling a lot of demands and actively problem solve to help them, etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, this would be a good way to get the message across. (After talking to his manager.)

      2. Kolo*

        Erm, I get the feeling this might sail right over this guy’s head. If you want to be sure he gets the point, the next time(s) he is argumentative or know-it-all with you, explicitly name the behaviour you are seeing from him and tell him that you look for candidates who do not exhibit that behaviour, and everything being equal, you will choose a candidate who uses a different and more collaborative approach.

        1. Bex*

          Oh I definitely agree! That’s why I called in an intermediate step :)

          But I think it could be really helpful the next time he mentions wanting to be a writer, tell him what you’re looking for. Then if he presses down the road, you can cite the earlier conversation and say “here’s where I’d need to see you improve”

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I agree about talking to their manager. Not only do you not want to manage them, it sounds like none of your direct reports would want to work with him if he treated them badly, plus if he has to interact with SMEs, is he going to sour those relationships as well? A good SME relationship is worth its weight in gold (I cultivate them carefully as a technical writer!) I wouldn’t want to risk those.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I would set aside his career goals, and focus on his current behavior and interactions with your team. Even if he never wanted to be a copy-writer, sounds like there is still a performance issue that you should discuss with his manager. That actually also helps the broader career question, since it gives you coverage to explain why you wouldn’t want to hire someone to your team when you’ve seen specific issues. Or you wouldn’t consider them for your team unless you’ve seen sustained improvement.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – the fact that he really, really wants this shouldn’t take priority over his ability to do the job well. And being able to work with others is important.

        I would loop in his manager before you have the difficult conversation, though. I would also be really wary about implying that if he improves his interpersonal skills you’d hire him. I’d be worried that he’d take it as a promise, improve his behaviour temporarily, and either get mad when he doesn’t get what he wants in a month or two, or actually get the job and then backslide. A guy who is aggressively pushing to change jobs this drastically less than a year into a new job, and is kind of an abrasive know-it-all, probably isn’t the best judge of what is appropriate.

    5. Observer*

      You don’t owe him anything but honesty. Which is to say that you should not give him reason to believe that he might get the job if it’s just not going to happen, but you don’t owe him a sit down explanation.

      Why are you worrying about him complaining about your telling him that his behavior is a problem? That sounds like a bit of a toxic environment.

      In fact, I would have expected that even aside from his wanting to be a copy writer, you would have the standing to address his behavior to your staff. If you cannot say anything to him directly, why have you not brought it up with is supervisor? That’s a legitimate issue for you to bring up.

    6. valentine*

      I suspect he’s mistreating your team (worth finding out if he does this to others) because he’s angry/jealous/upset he’s not on it. But he’s a train wreck. He took a random job to be in the vicinity of work he wants to do. It would make more sense if he did freelance work while continuing to look for a copywriting job. You don’t want him on your team and I don’t know why his manager wants to force him to stay when they could hire someone who wants the job.

      Whatever you said to him, he possibly heard, “You have to wait a year, but I guarantee you’ll join us!” and thinks everyone is thwarting him for no good reason. Tell him he’s not a good fit for your team and, depending on the culture, tell him or his manager his behavior toward your team is unacceptable.

    7. Another freelancer*

      Does your company require that a position is listed online, and for all interested employees to apply, like everyone else? If talking to his manager doesn’t work and he is STILL asking about joining the team, you could direct him to apply “like everyone else” if/when there is an opening. It’s possible he thinks he just needs to wait a year and then he will be asked to join your team.

  13. Pepperwood*

    Has anyone had luck with EAP? I’ve never done therapy before and I’m a little nervous about it, insurance sent me a list of in-network providers and my project this weekend will be to research them and start calling. I’m just anxious, it’s hard not to feel like a failure for not being able to take better care of myself and handle the stress better.

    Had a really rough week this week and wound up reaching out to my EAP because I’ve been hitting my breaking point. Our department is swamped and short-staffed, and higher ups have so far refused to hire someone to replace the person who retired in January despite our pleading, and just expect us to work 60+ hour weeks AND weekends for the unforseeable future. I’m a first time manager and am trying to be supportive for my direct report and advocate for her and for our very full plates but my manager (also swamped – a feature of this org, not a bug) keeps overriding my decisions and delegating all this work to my direct report and then telling *me* to do the same when I tell her we are swamped. I’m told I don’t know how to prioritize despite the fact that when I make a decision, I get told it’s wrong and that I should have prioritized Project X instead of Y. There’s zero grace despite the fact that we are continuing to churn out deliverables the whole time we’ve been working from home, I have PTO I feel like I can’t use, I have a vacation coming up at the end of the month and fully expect them to tell me they’ll want me checking email which…no. There is no way to disconnect from this job at all and it’s taking a toll on me mentally and physically. I haven’t seen my family since February and when I last spoke to my parents they could hear the despair in my voice and I…honestly felt so ashamed it was that obvious. If not for my SO, I don’t know what I would have done these last few months. I haven’t been taking great care of myself, I’ll be honest.

    But this job will not change and I don’t want it to give me a stroke or brain aneurysm either (I’m genetically predisposed to the latter, and the former has happened to MULTIPLE employees at this company. I’ve only been here 10 months, it is toxic af), so I’m hoping to get some strategies for dealing with the stress in the meantime while trying to job search and gtfo.

    Thanks all, and empathy for everyone who’s struggling. Sadly, I know my situation’s not unique and I feel this urge to be thankful that I still have a paycheck and insurance right now.

    1. Oogie*

      I used the EAP for the first time ever recently also. There were three providers I was referred to in my immediate area. One doesn’t practice now and one has a not-great reputation. I have had two sessions at the third provider. I was only approved for five total by EAP. My counselor is nice enough but I feel like I would need more than five sessions to make real progress.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Agree. I used one years ago and liked the therapist that I saw, but long-term it wouldn’t have been helpful. I stopped seeing her because I was moving out of town anyway, but if I had wanted to continue beyond the two or three appointments I had, I would have had to pay out of pocket which with my tiny nonprofit salary at the time would have been untenable.

    2. August*

      I recently started sessions on my EAP! The process wasn’t too terrible, but I did end up having to go with a therapist I knew nothing about because all of my top choices (ones who specialized in what I was looking for and/or seemed especially accessible and friendly) had waiting lists. And she’s great! I don’t know if I’ll go with her long term, but I really just need someone to get me past this bad period. I’m going to continue past my allotted free EAP sessions.

      Do what you have to do, there’s no shame whatsoever with needing some extra help! I’ve personally found that being able to talk to an outside, unbiased party whose literal job is to listen to you is a HUGE relief. All of the venting/problem solving stuff that I unload on my family/friends, without any of the guilt that I’m putting “too much” on them. Good luck!!

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I reached out to my company’s EAP because I was in a similar ultra-stressed time and I specifically said I needed some coaching or perspective *on stress.* I was connected to (what I think of as) an old-school therapist. I found our initial convo the very opposite of helpful. If anything, I could see adding this 45 minutes a week of delving into the core of emotional being to be MORE stress! I am not a therapy person, and therapy people always tell me you have to shop around, find the right fit, the chemisty, blah blah blah I DO NOT HAVE TIME. Perhaps this is part (one small part) of what is broken in our mental health system? I liken it to needing a dentist and being sent to the dermotologist. Yeah, they both start with D… My advice is to be crystal clear about what you’re asking for, and re-verify it with everyone you speak to. Also, it took about 3 weeks from initial I-am-at-breaking-point call to well-this-is-not-it consultation. Meanwhile, I downloaded a meditation app, which I like.

    4. AppleStan*

      I have used an EAP before, several times, for various reasons, at different employers…one of the reasons was addressing my mental health due to stress/burnout, and I had *NO* idea where to start looking on my own.

      It was a lifesaver. Almost literally. It was definitely, literally, a sanity saver.

      I’m sure your EAP is structured the same or similar (I have found that to be the case in my state but maybe not for you) — you have a list of recommended therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists, you get up to several sessions “free” and then there is a discounted rate after.

      Please take advantage of this service – don’t waste this opportunity. It is vitally necessary for you to take care of yourself.

    5. FormerTVGirl*

      You are NOT a failure! Just like we need to take care of our physical health, we need to take care of our mental health — and many if not most of us are not equipped with the tools to do so. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes strength and self awareness to recognize you could use assistance, and it’s really awesome that you have been able to do that. Interview as many therapists as you can find — ask them about their areas of expertise (or read up on their websites) and do as many intro sessions as you need in order to find someone who is a fit for you. Not every therapist-patient match is a match, and that is OK! I know this isn’t about EAP, but I just saw your comment and had to commend you for your strength. Best of luck!!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        You are NOT a failure! Just like we need to take care of our physical health, we need to take care of our mental health — and many if not most of us are not equipped with the tools to do so. Please don’t be too hard on yourself.

        This. If you break your leg, you’re not a failure for going to a doctor to set it.

    6. merp*

      I’ve used EAP for counseling twice with pretty different results, so I know it can vary a lot. But for what it’s worth, one of the times, it ended up being great – I was given a list of therapists I could call, some weren’t taking new clients but many were, and the person I ended up talking with was helpful and took my insurance. The second time was not as good a fit and I ghosted her because it didn’t feel right. So your mileage may vary, but I hope it helps!

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I’ve used EAP and had different results, but also sought out therapists on my own and had different results! I think when it comes to something like therapy it is something you have to try and sometimes it take a few different tries. A big thing for me was finding someone I was comfortable confiding in.

        I know some people think shopping around a therapist means the system is broken, but I don’t think you should see it this way. Ash when you need help, and just like with a dentist, or a PCP or a specialist it might take a few 2nd opinions. That doesn’t mean shopping doesn’t prolong the stress/trauma but when you find the right one it is great.

        And honestly, with EAP, I have gotten anywhere from 2-6 appointments and 2 “free” appointments with 2 different therapists that don’t work is better for me that the 2 $150 appointments with therapists that came out of my HSA and I still didn’t feel comfortable with!

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Agreed – therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The most important thing is finding someone you click with, but there are also a ton of different theraputic methods, some of which are going to be a better fit than others.

          OP, you are not a failure for needing extra support right now. I was seeing my therapist every 2 weeks; since the pandemic started I’ve been seeing her weekly. You’re also not a failure if you don’t like the first person you work with. Most therapists will do a free 10-15 minute consult before scheduling a session. You can use that time to ask about their approach and methods and start to figure out if this is someone you’ll be comfortable working with.

    7. Colette*

      I used my EAP for a couple of sessions with a counsellor many years ago, and it was helpful.

    8. Littorally*

      The last time I used my EAP, I used the free sessions to cover therapist shopping rather than actually working on the issue. I knew my issue was gonna take a lot more than six free sessions to deal with, but it was a lot more comforting to know that work had the check when I went to see the first guy and he turned out to have no ideas beyond trying to strongarm me into a 12-step program to treat the symptoms of my problem.

    9. achoo*

      I’ve used EAP multiple times. It’s a good “booster” shot of therapy to get me through a stressful situation. I’m open about my usage with my direct reports because I want them to not feel like there’s any stigma to it. (Not that I know if they do- I just remind them it’s available.)

      EAP, ime, is a lot like AAA towing in that it contracts with local resources but doesn’t provide oversight to them. When you call EAP they can tell you which therapists in the area specialize in certain areas and if they are M/F, but then you just get phone numbers. You have to call and find out who has availability, and sometimes you get a therapist you really like and sometimes you don’t. I’ve heard people blame EAP for a therapist they didn’t like, and really, that’s not EAP’s role.

    10. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Going to therapy is NOT a failure! Therapy IS part of taking care of yourself! Please tell yourself this every time you have the thought that therapy is a failure. You contacted your EAP because you hit a breaking point. It’s no different than if you hurt your knee, and eventually it got so bad you called your doctor. Your body is telling you something…good job for prioritizing finding a therapist. Carolyn Hax, advice columnist in the Washington Post, has great advice about finding a therapist to meet your needs. But either way, you are doing the right thing, you are NOT a failure, and honestly, sometimes we all need a sounding board. Good luck!

    11. Double A*

      YES! I have used EAP therapy multiple times and it’s been great and I will use my EAP whenever I feel any need. I think it’s a great an underutilized benefit. I have generally benefited from short-term therapy and haven’t needed intensive, on-going therapy, and have often had job related stress.

      I think the fact that it’s short-term can also make it be a little less fraught — you want to find a therapist you like okay, but they don’t need to be, like, your soulmate or someone you trust with your deepest, darkest stuff. Especially during these times, having a dedicated time once a week where you just focus on yourself and getting to talk about yourself is… great.

      Definitely just go down the list they give you and call a bunch of people to see about setting up an appointment! A lot of people are booked up, so you do need to call multiples — and in your initial call with them you can get a bit of a sense of them.

      I say do it! You will NOT regret it.

    12. miss_chevious*

      I used my EAP at the beginning of the year, and happened to have luck with the first person I called, who I’ve continued to see (remotely) after my free sessions ended. Even if it doesn’t help much, it likely won’t hurt. And please don’t feel like a “failure” — if you had physical symptoms, you would see a doctor, so it only makes sense to see someone for mental symptoms. And an objective opinion about your situation can be really useful in finding new ways about how to deal with it.

    13. Pepperwood*

      Just got back to this and want to say a sincere and emphatic thank you to everyone who’s commented about their experiences – and about assuring me I’m doing the right thing. Really grateful for the advice and feedback. Also appreciate everyone who’s said they’ve been helped by it and that making your mental health a priority (especially in the current circumstances) is not something to put off. May have shed a few tears reading your supportive comments :’)

      Thank you!

    14. Observer*

      PLEASE try to let go of the shame. You’re dealing with a clearly toxic employer. Being ashamed of not being able to power through it is like being ashamed that you couldn’t swim across the English Channel. Yes, it’s humanly possible, but who thinks that’s a normal expectation.

      In a situation like yours, though, it’s more like expecting to be able to swim across the Atlantic. I mean MULTIPLE STROKES? That sounds like something out of a horror movie.

    15. Sam Foster*

      The EAP part *should* be easy. Call them, they’ll walk you through a small number of questions (including “do you feel like a danger to yourself or others” but that’s required, just an FYI so you won’t be taken aback). They’ll tell you what you qualify for and offer to find a list of therapists.

      Which leads to the hard part: You have to call the therapists and a lot of them don’t take new patients which can be frustrating. A lot of the therapists don’t call back, etc. But persevere, it can be worth it.

      Then you need to do an initial with one of them and decide if it is a good fit. Do not stick with a person hoping it’ll get better. If you don’t mesh, get out.

      I’ve done this twice in my career, first time I hit it off with the therapist right away; second time it was the third person I spoke to.

      Good luck!

    16. allathian*

      I was almost burned out last year following a very intense project. I didn’t work weekends, but regularly worked 11+ hour days, when my normal workday is 8 hours. My then-boss who has recovered from burnout herself recognized the symptoms and pretty much ordered me to take advantage of our EAP. We also have an early intervention program that would have been the next step if I’d refused. I’m so glad I contacted them. Even if it was just 5 sessions, it was enough to get me back on my feet again and to gain some perspective.

  14. Loopy*

    Curious as to how long it takes folks to determine if they are a good fit for a new career, more personality wise than skills wise. I made a jump to a new and challenging career a little over four months ago. I’ve been doing pretty well but I’m not sure how much I like it. I know it’s too early to write it off but unsure of how long it takes to gauge a good fit. And it’s a new company as well so I don’t know much of the fit is company vs. career.

    For context, I left a team with lots of folks I considered work friends and my new team is very nice and I like them a lot but I know we probably won’t really be what I consider work friends so I’m afraid that’s coloring everything. I can’t always count on having work friends but man, it really makes a difference.

    1. FormerTVGirl*

      I have to believe that this will differ person to person for all the reasons you’d think (I mean, we’re all different and respond to change differently, right?) but I’m happy to give you my experience. I transitioned years ago from working at a lifestyle magazine to working at a sports TV station, and while both were technically journalism jobs, they were VASTLY different. I thought for the first ~3-4 months I had made a massive mistake, and was contemplating going back to school. But I eventually got comfortable and ended up staying that that station for almost nine years!

      My second experience was transitioning out of sports and into content marketing. I’m not gonna lie: It took almost a year before I realized, huh, this is a fit for me and not just a temporary stop. Important to note is that I never hated the job, I just wasn’t all in for many months. I also had a job that I stayed in for about a year that I realized maybe two months in was not a fit for me. I stuck it out as long as I could, but my gut told me almost right away that it was not a fit — I was depressed, bored, frustrated, and woke up dreading every day. I never had any of those feelings during my other two career “transitions,” and I would say if you’re having feelings like those, you may know your answer. Good luck!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I also had a job that I stayed in for about a year that I realized maybe two months in was not a fit for me. I stuck it out as long as I could, but my gut told me almost right away that it was not a fit — I was depressed, bored, frustrated, and woke up dreading every day.

        This was me at my last job. Within the first three months, I knew it wasn’t going to be anything more than a layover until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. My therapist told me to take it a day at a time and give it a chance – I have a problem with prejudging things and I also hate change, so she was concerned that I‘d written the job off out of fear.

        I didn’t; the job just sucked for me. My coworkers spent more time complaining and gossiping than they did working, which was not an environment I felt comfortable in. I’m the type of person who throws on her headphones, keeps her head down, and plows through work with the occasional break for chit chat – it seemed the latter is all my team really did, and then they’d be rushing up on a deadline and whining about how they were overwhelmed and had too much work.

        I ended up leaving after 17 months, and I couldn’t be happier in my new role/company. Been here 14 months now, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else. My team is hardworking, there’s no endless bitching (mainly because I work from home and the rest of my team is dispersed around the globe, so anyone who wants to do so doesn’t have a captive audience edging them on), and we’re crushing our goals. I’ve never been happier in a workplace.

    2. MissGirl*

      It took me a year. I moved into healthcare analytics, which is very complicated. The data part of it came fast but industry knowledge has a huge learning curve. I would sit in meetings and be so bored because I was so confused. At about a year, I started growing institutional knowledge and could offer insight beyond doing exactly what I was told.

      I just hit my three-year mark and some of the clinicians I support said they really like working with me because I bring understanding and ideas and they don’t have to explain things as much.

      I was really worried for the first bit I had landed in the wrong field after completely changing careers.

      I would ask if things are getting better, if they’re facets of the job you like, do you see yourself eventually getting ownership of a project?

      1. MissGirl*

        Sorry, I missed the part of the personality part. This is really hard to speak to as, yes, it’s super helpful to have people you really like at work but it’s often something out of your control. I started at a job and had almost no friends the first six months. It was mostly extremely introverted married men . Then we had a lot of turnover as people moved to other departments and suddenly I was surrounded by friends for several months. Then we had a reorg and everyone was spread out to different departments. Now I’m working from home at a new job, and I still text that team more than my current. I really miss them.

        I’m focusing on building friendships outside of work so that as this part comes and goes, it doesn’t affect my happiness as much. This is super helpful as we’re all remote work so I can’t build those bonds as much anyhow. The current situation maybe impacting your ability to form friendships with coworkers as well. It also takes times.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      I dunno if you’re an introvert or extravert. Personally, I think four months is not enough time to become friends. Usually. Sometimes there’s that person you really connect with. But most of the time, four months is still “let’s be friendly, but I’m still getting to know you so I don’t know if we will be friends”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree. OP, even if you are a solid extrovert, they may not be, so that would slow the whole process down.

        I’d say give it at least a year before trying to form any strong opinions. Right now if you are doing okay with the new work and you think your cohorts are likable then you are doing very well. Keep going.

        As far as work friends go, this is not an instant thing. Right now is good time to focus on being friendly to everyone and see who responds in kind.

        In making big changes in life, it’s nice to have reassurances. It can be a bit unnerving to not get loud and clear reassurances. Try to not conflate having at work friends as being the same as being happy with your new career path. Those are two different questions and try to keep them separate. Granted, I don’t have a lot to go on, but it sounds like you are doing well and it sounds like they seem to like you. Keep a big picture focus, you made a big jump and so far it looks like you landed well. That’s huge, don’t blow by that. Hang in there and see how things look at the one year mark.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Try to not conflate having at work friends as being the same as being happy with your new career path. Those are two different questions and try to keep them separate.


    4. Mimmy*

      I’ve been wondering this myself. I tend to hesitate in making significant career changes because I question whether my personality would fit.

      Maybe try contacting other people in your field. It may help to gauge whether your doubts are being colored by your current company.

      Good luck!

    5. allathian*

      I think it’s a bit early to judge. You also made the switch just before the virus really hit, so you haven’t seen your new career or company in normal times.

      Sounds like you really liked your old career and company, at least working with work friends, so I’m wondering, what pushed you to make the change? And could you still keep in touch with the work friends from your former company, or have they all moved on?

      Also, are you working at the office or from home? If WFH, making friends is certainly possible but it’ll probably take a bit longer than it would in person. I’m basically an introvert and it usually takes me a bit longer than four moths to get really comfortable with someone to the point of being friends rather than acquaintances, although in one case it was friendship at first sight. I literally knew within hours of meeting someone that they’d be a great friend and that’s how it’s turned out. It was like love at first sight, only completely platonic, we just clicked. In my twenties I had lots of work friends, but I have only so much people energy to spare, and now I prefer to socialize with my non-work friends and family.

  15. SQL Coder Cat*

    Question: any ideas for how to honor a retiring employee virtually? Our Registrar is taking her well-deserved retirement, but we’re still in full virtual mode here.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Gift card?
      Have everyone video a goodbye note and compile?
      Do an article highlighting her achievements on your company newsletter?

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        In a similar vein to your second suggestion, we recently used to compile video/virtual messages for a colleague going on a long-term leave. It was really easy to use and inexpensive.

    2. Ali G*

      We typically set up a PPT on the shared drive where people can go in and write notes and put in pictures for the person leaving. You could do something like that and then play it during a zoom goodbye meeting. It’s also something she can take with her.

      1. Summer Anon*

        This is what we did. And for one of the retirees a couple people in the group collected money toward a gift via Venmo and Paypal or you could mail them a check. Someone put together a nice gift basket with gift cards and company merchandise and delivered it to the retiree.
        People got on the zoom and told funny stories and it was a great time!

    3. Nanc*

      Ask everyone to send a snail mail card.
      Create a Happy Retirement presentation to share with everyone. Include any historic photos, stories about “that big thing” that happened that one year. Did this for a colleague many years ago. The first picture was her in her new office sitting on a box talking on her super-duper fanciest ever late 1980s phone!
      A case of hand sanitizer (I wish I were kidding but in these times it might be appreciated). To that end a case of tuna or toilet paper!
      Flowers in the school colors (I’m assuming you’re in Academia but if not, the business/government official colors).
      Potted plants if they’re a plant person.
      Fruit of the month–this sounds silly but with everyone stuck at home for the foreseeable future getting fancy fruit every month for awhile might be fun. Or coffee of the month. Chocolate of the month.
      Drive by retirement party, depending on where she and you are located.
      Virtual retirement lunch–everyone order delivery and have a Zoom lunch.
      It’s great you’re doing this for her!

    4. HM*

      When we had an employee go on paternity leave (multiple months – it’s Canada), we had a little meeting where everybody turned on video, but made their virtual background something that related to the employee who was leaving. It turned out to be really wonderful in our case – we had landscape shots from an obscure place he used to live, a screenshot from a YouTube series that only he and one other employee liked, lots of things that highlighted people’s personal connections. And then our one employee who still goes to the office (it’s a real skeleton crew) did a video tour around the office so that the couple people in other departments who were there could say goodbye as well, by waving at her laptop from 6 feet away.

    5. Nothing But Flowers*

      Maybe use one of those video aggregating apps (I know of VidHug, but I’m sure there are others, and I don’t want to sound like spon for them, but it worked great) so everyone can record themselves sending good wishes on their own device, and then it’s turned into one video for them?
      I haven’t seen this in a professional context, but it has worked really well for COVID-era birthday parties and baby showers.
      And I think a mention in the company newsletter of her achievements and retirement plans, and whatever thank you gift/token is appropriate for your company can be mailed to her.

    6. Emma L*

      We just had a virtual retirement party for someone via Zoom, and also created a group card via a service called Kudoboard (google that and it should come right up). If was really nifty, anyone given access could post messages and pictures. Someone also sent the retiring person his favorite adult beverage (and other gifts) so that he could toast during the party!

  16. Help*

    I’m beyond the BEC stage with my coworker “Medusa”. It’s a fairly laid back office and there are jokes and swearing. I was joking on the phone with my assistant manager and Medusa kept making comments out loud about our conversation. (How I’m swearing, etc. Even though she does the same thing!) She doesn’t like us interacting for whatever reason.

    If he comes by to talk to me about work, Medusa butts in. Or she will talk to him right after.

    The thing that is ticking me off is that it is fine if my Assistant Manager talks with the interns. He went out to lunch with one of them, yet Medusa said nothing. Why is that okay?

    The only thing different between me and the intern is that the intern is the same race as my Assistant Manager. Could that be it? Why is that okay?

    It’s really bothering me. Any tips to not think about it? It’s not something that I can address. Has anyone dealt with this?

    1. NotAPirate*

      What’s BEC?

      Coworker might see you as competitive. Interns aren’t threatening in terms of getting the cool projects or getting a promotion, you are.

      1. Helen J*

        BEC: B*tch eating crackers. Google it, you’ll see tons of memes.

        Seems Medusa is jealous or as NotAPirate mentioned, sees you at competition. I’d do my best ignore it as long as it’s not affecting your job or ask Assistant Manager if they have noticed. I’m sure other AAM’ers will have great suggestions.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        BEC is “Becky Eating Crackers” — it is short for the feeling you have about someone who does something relatively small that drives you up the wall.

      3. Lady Heather*

        B(rhymes-with-witch) Eating Crackers – when your opinion of someone is
        ‘they flirt with my boyfriend, they pee on the toilet seat, they always drive just above the speed limit, and the way they eat their crackers is soooo annoying’.

        Basically, when you can’t stand someone to the point anything they do is a pet peeve. And then it can become hard to separate the legitimate, objective and ‘actionable’ problems (flirting and peeing) from the more subjective, not-your-business and ridiculous (driving style* and eating crackers).

        *I’m very anti-speeding, but ultimately that’s up to law enforcement to enforce, not to annoyed individuals.

      4. Quinalla*

        Agreed likely sees you as competition where interns she doesn’t. It sounds very annoying, but I’d do my best to ignore her or maybe call her out a little (next time she makes comments, stop your call and say “Are you talking to me?” in a curious, but neutral tone.)

    2. allathian*

      Medusa doesn’t see the intern as competition, only you. She could have a crush on the assistant manager for all we know.

      Is Medusa senior to you or are you peers? If you’re peers or she’s junior in tenure if not title, you could perhaps ask her at some point when the assistant manager isn’t there that you’ve noticed that she always shows up when you’re talking to him and that you’re wondering why that is. Since your work culture is jokey, you could try asking this as a bit of a joke. Or commenting in general so others can hear “you know, I wish I could say two words to Assistant Manager without Medusa here butting in.” If it’s a jokey, casual environment, I really don’t understand why you couldn’t address it.

    1. Time_TravelR*

      As a former manager, the best one I saw was someone who worked for me. They listened (really listened) to the feedback and took it very much to heart and made the requested improvements and then some. If you are looking to bounce back, that would be my advice to you… do what they ask and then do more. Be the best employee you can and show your value. They will appreciate it and soon (truly!) the formal write up will be forgotten (assuming it was very job-related and not something so egregious you’re lucky you weren’t fired).

    2. Doug Judy*

      Many years ago I was on a PIP. Long story short, I was doing the bare minimum for my job and spending too much time on personal things and my performance was not great. It hurt, there were things in my personal life that impacted me, but they weren’t wrong. I didn’t get fired. I worked there for several years after the PIP and left on very good terms on my own accord. All I did was:

      1. Didn’t do anything that put me on the PIP in ther first place. Zero internet browsing, very limited phone use.
      2. Met more regularly with my manager just to check in. A big part of the problem was that we basically only met one on one at review time. It wasn’t common at all to have in that organization to meet regularly. 1 on 1’s are so important, PIP or not.
      3. Went above and beyond in my work. Helped my coworkers any chance I got, pitched in on less desirable tasks.
      4. Had a good attitude. Years later my boss commented that the thing he appreciated about me the most was during that time, while most people would be jaded or a bit prickly, I never complained or seemed resentful. I owned it and did better.

      It took time and effort but I did bounce back. Basically, keep your head down, don’t repeat the mistake, don’t complain, and have a good attitude.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        Congrats to you! I do have to say that not meeting regularly with your manager is on your manager, though. You should not have been dinged for that. If you weren’t consulting them when you needed help, that’s something else.

    3. Anonymous Hippo*

      I don’t know if this will help, as it will depend on the nature of your formal write-up. But I had two written in-your-file notices at my first job. I 100% didn’t believe either of them were warranted, and I protested them (albeit meekly) at the time. I went on to receive a promotion within the department, as well as being hand selected to take on a new role in another department later on. I don’t think either of them were held against me, and once the “problems” they brought up in the write-up were dealt with, everything went fine.

      I will say, the second one came at one of the darkest times in my life, after a hideously dramatic personal issue, and me being deep in depression dealing with the aftermath. I very nearly quit over the write-up, but didn’t, and it all worked out in the end.

    4. Remote HealthWorker*

      Sure can!

      First job out of college I was not officially on a PIP but it essentially was for a “bad attitude”. Basically, I didn’t get along with one coworker and was being bullied by my manager. I had things to work on for sure! But I needed some examples and coaching that I wasn’t getting. Thankfully our HR was great so they picked up that I wasn’t just a problem child. They basically forced my boss to coach me. I passed with flying colors and whenever there was bully based complaints later I was able to point to the sheet and be like – I followed this process as we outlined. Is there a better approach?

      Ultimately I got a huge promotion off of her team for a 20,000 a year raise.

    5. AppleStan*

      Early in my time with my current employer, about 15 years ago, I was constantly (it felt like) on PIP over the course of a year, and then I received two write-ups about 10 years ago. Honestly, for the 2nd write-up, I’m surprised I wasn’t fired (when I reported what I had done, I prefaced it with “If you have to fire me for this, I would understand.” – nothing crazy like harming someone, I just didn’t follow protocol and lost a month of critical data that couldn’t be replaced, so we had to start over). Both write-ups involved meetings with HR, and the last one flirted with me being suspended from work (ultimately I was not).

      Over the last four years, I’ve been promoted three times, each time with a marked increase in responsibility and authority. My reputation at my employer, even among the HR reps who were part of my previous discipline, is positive and complimentary.

      My “comeback” involved making sure I hit my deadlines, making sure I followed protocol, and making sure my own house was in order before “volunteering” to help other people get their houses in order (that is one of my major issues – setting myself on fire to keep someone else warm).

      I had to thoughtfully (not just do a cursory look) examine the errors I was making and WHY I was making these errors. I had to commit to stopping the errors, AND I had to do what worked for me (daily reminders on my phone, weekly writing in my journal) so I could remained focused until the improvements I wanted to make in my performance became ingrained habits.

      I think Time_TravelR’s advice is spot-on, as someone who has issued a write-up. As someone who has received a write-up, I can tell you it’s very easy to constantly berate yourself in your head and feel like everyone is watching you, which makes you hypersensitive…guard against that and stop those negative trains of thought as soon as you feel them coming on. Keep doing your job, make sure you don’t duplicate the behavior/actions that led to the write-up, and focus on being the best employee you can be. Unless you report to someone *highly* vindictive, this will eventually be water under the bridge.

      Good luck!

    6. Tuckerman*

      I don’t remember if it was a formal write up, but once when I provided feedback to an employee she did not take it well. Told me she wanted to swear at me. I calmly brought her into a conference room and we had a talk about professional behavior- she was young. Once she had this information, it was a complete 180. She got it. She quickly adopted a professional demeanor and her work improved. Of all the employees, she’s one of the few I remember.

      The key here was that she incorporated the feedback immediately and fully. And that made her a valuable asset to our team.

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’ve had a number of people who hit the formal-written-feedback-to-file level turn it around and become star employees. Not all, of course, some choose to move on or can’t make make the turn, but most get to at least meeting expectations. I think it helps that our process is intended to help people get there versus papering a file for a termination, too. For us, it’s more of an opportunity to identify specific improvements, figure out what kind of resources/training are needed, and checking in regularly to make sure things are on an upswing for all involved.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      1) Agree or allow the boss to see that you understand it’s a problem.

      2) Make corrections on existing work in progress where possible and if applicable to your setting.

      3) Develop your plan so that the problem does not happen again. Bonus points for sharing your problem prevention plan with your boss.

      4) If your problem is broad, such as having poor relationships with cohorts or not understanding workplace norms then start reading. This one is my fav, I have used reading to bail myself out of many things. Get books online or at the library and read about areas where the boss says you need to improve. What I like about reading is that it’s cheap and it’s private. I can quietly read my book and no one is the wiser that I felt I needed “such remedial” help. Hey, it’s not in our genes at birth. It’s one type of problem if our parents or teachers fail to teach us some stuff. But it’s a whole different level if we fail to sit down and teach our own selves.
      The thing about reading that made me smile was knowing that I could not possibly be the only person who had this particular problem, if that were the case there would be NO point to writing books about it. We all struggle with something.

      If #4 fits your setting you can ask here for book recs. This group excels at recommending books on almost any topic.

    9. Obviously anonymous for this*

      The write-up plus my assistant director quitting and walking out in the middle of her annual review were the final straws that pushed me over the edge into action. I had known for a long time that my employer sucked and wasn’t going to change, but new director talked a good game for four months before the write-up.

      (I had made a mild double entendre in a meeting about the meaning of the word fabulous in relation to a co-worker, director who went to HR to get me written up had more than once told younger male subordinate co-workers to get under his desk and provide him with oral sex and regularly screamed profanities at employees.)

      I had a job interview within days of the write-up, gave notice three weeks later and left for a significant pay increase and better benefits in a more professional workplace. Director was fired 8-ish months after I left, department income still doesn’t appear (from the outside) to have rebounded to the levels before his hire. Almost 8 years later, I’ve changed jobs once more, am approaching double the salary, and have a track record of glowing reviews.

  17. Web Crawler*

    I recently calculated the amount of actual work I do in a work day, and it’s only 4 hours. I’m still getting my work done, although I’m the one deciding how much work I take on, so I don’t know if that’s a good measurement. Is this something to be concerned about?

    It’s hard to figure out how much work I’m doing relative to everyone else bc we all estimate and decide how much work to take on.

    1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

      That is one of my biggest issues, I always feel like I must be doing much less than others but I have no way to find out if that’s true.

      1. Hello, I'd like to report my boss*

        There is an excellent tool called RescueTime that automatically records what applications you’re using through the day. You can then work out your productivity (two hours in Excel = productive, 30 minutes on Facebook = not productive unless you’re a social media manager, etc). Not sure how you can compare to others but it will show how much time you’re working!

    2. NotAPirate*

      Do you have a manager? Can you ask them about your productivity levels and output? You could frame it about being interested to see in how your metrics changed with pandemic and wanting data to know if you need to work more etc.

      1. Web Crawler*

        I have a manager, but she doesn’t know much about my work- she’s not on the same team as me. There might be a way to look at my work in our task tracker application, though.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I only get a good 4 to 6 hours done in a day unless I’m really pushing it. I’m not one of the highest performers and try to do better but I am always forgetting something

    4. RagingADHD*

      Is your workload steady all year long, or do you have crunch times based on seasons or the product cycle?

      A well-run business should have some extra capacity built in so that everyone doesn’t burn out during a crunch.

      If you’re bored, is there some backlog you could catch up on, or something you could organize or optimize for the next big push?

    5. sdfdsfsdf*

      i started paying more attention to how much the people in my department/office work, and this is what I observed…. generally most people, from technician up to manager level, were only working like 4 hours a day and spend rest of day talking, gossiping, or whatever. This fluctuates. Technician level employees can only work as much as work they are given, and it can vary. So some technicians I know only truely work like 2 hours a day every day, and have maybe 1 day a week they are actively clearly working 8 hours a day. Some managers I observed working between the same 2-8 hours a day, only working 8 hours a day if they have alot of meetings that day. I work in a department of about 20 people, and its extremely tight packed like a call center so easy to see how much people are working. I stopped feeling bad if I only got 4 solid hours of work done, and started realizing Im working way too hard if I’m working a solid 8 hours. I also see why we are so anti-meeting here. People don’t like having the “extra” work, even if it is just taking away from chit chat time.

    6. valentine*

      You’re only doing work for four hours (if so, what do you do the rest of the time) or you only produce four hours’ worth of work? If you’re only counting deliverables and not time spent reading and crafting (not just typing) emails, you’re shortchanging yourself.

  18. Working Internationally*

    I’m seriously considering moving to another country (once the COVID-19 situation permits), but would like to keep working for my current employer if possible. I was wondering if anyone has had success in proposing a similar arrangement to their employer and can offer advice on any potential gotchas.

    Some more detailed background:

    I work in tech for a small US company and have a highly specialized skillset that’s pretty key to our operations. I know I’m well-regarded by my peers and management, and I have a proven track record working from home. I’d be willing to invest some amount of my own money in setting up a home lab if necessary (though I definitely wouldn’t lead with that proposition).

    I’m sure there would be tax and legal implications to something like this, but I’m not sure if there are other things I should be looking out for, or even how feasible this kind of arrangement really is.

    1. Bex*

      Would you be willing to do the job with no benefits (but paid a bit more to compensate?) If so, you might be able to quit and then be hired back as a full time contractor. But it REALLY depends on what country you want to move to, what their immigration/visa laws are, what the tax implications are, etc.

      That said, a few companies are trying to attract newly remote workers. For example, Barbados just launched a 12 month work/live visa for remote workers.

      1. Working Internationally*

        Thanks for the info – I’m just starting to seriously look into how feasible this is and it’s helpful have an idea of some of the things I should be starting with.

        Going the contractor route is on the table. I’d rather avoid it if I can, but it’s definitely something I’ve given some thought to.

        1. Taniwha Girl*

          Keep in mind whether your chosen country will grant you a work visa if your work is outside the country. Your company may need a local presence in order to sponsor your work visa in that country.

    2. Anon for this*

      I’d advise you to think carefully about the position’s needs around collaboration and timing, both in terms of selling the idea to your company and looking out for your own sanity. How much collaboration with your colleagues is required, and does the work require you to be working during the same hours as your colleagues? As someone who has previously worked fully remote, and is currently working fully remote solely due to the pandemic, I can tell you from my experience that collaboration can be a challenge if the company doesn’t have the setup and mentality (or motivation to create/improve them), and that getting up to work at 6am for my colleagues’ 9am has been… draining, to say the least.

    3. Tex*

      Do you have another country in mind? Because if you don’t, I heard Lithuania was going to offer Digital Nomad Visas.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I saw some where that Bermuda wants people to move there and work remotely. Sweet if you can!
      You’d have to look at a few things I guess.
      >Tax and benefits implications
      >Availability and time differences
      >Need to physically be present and collaborate
      >Risk and Security of that country

      You say it’s a smaller company, and in my experience smaller companies are less set up to allow for this. But it doesn’t mean they can’t either. COVID has shaken many things we thought were unchangeable. But at some point your small company WILL go back to the office. The question is, do you really have to be there? Could they get this service from a vendor company remotely?

      So you have a bit of research to do about the country, tax laws, etc. And then you can formulate some scenarios about what this might look like. Full time employee versus Freelance Contractor and so forth.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Do you currently have the legal ability to live and work in the country you are thinking of? If not, I’d talk to a specialist in international immigration to figure out what you need. It’s really impossible to answer the question without knowing what country, and your visa status, because it’s going to depend on the immigration laws for that country as well as US laws.

      In general, though, if you want to live in a country full time, you need to be citizen, a permanent resident (ie, like a green card), or have a visa that allows you to be there. If it’s a visa, it has to be a visa that permits working. I don’t know much about the legal logistics about living in one country while being the employee of another country, just that it’s not just up to your country – you’ll need to abide by the rules for both countries. My employer has people posted to other countries for extended periods, but there’s always a strong worked based reason to be there, which allows them to get the paperwork (generally, it’s working at an international facility), and the posting is temporary (they keep an address locally).

      Special health insurance would be needed, as the one you have through work wouldn’t apply while living abroad, and travel insurance doesn’t apply when you’re living somewhere. You’d be looking at expat health insurance, which is its own thing in.

      1. Taniwha Girl*

        Yes, either expat health insurance or enrolling in local insurance like a local.

  19. Aggretsuko*

    I’m just tired of being told how awful I am all the time. Yes, you have communicated the message and I have received it. I feel like I can’t speak at all without pissing someone off, so therefore I shouldn’t speak at all. Which pisses them off too, but then they don’t have actual ammunition at me.

    Also my grandboss lost her shit at me this week and is going to chew me out yet again today and I’m so tired of it. She’s just gotten really nasty since coronavirus hit. I used to like her, but damn.

    1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

      That sounds terrible!

      Who’s telling you that you’re awful?

    2. Time_TravelR*

      Are they specific things that you can work to resolve? Are you in a position to make a job change or retire? I mean, maybe it’s just not a good fit???

    3. Remote HealthWorker*

      It’s hard to tell from the outside but you may be the victim of workplace bullying.

      Also when you say your skip level lost their shit and is going to chew you out… Are they actually yelling odr berating you? That is absolutely not normal. If they are then try to internalize this is a them problem not a you problem.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      Ick! I’m so sorry you’re going through this. That’s abuse and I hope you can get out soon.

    5. juliebulie*

      If this is anything like what I went through with the boss who once told me to my face that he didn’t like me, then you need to get out of there. I’ll echo what’s already been said – this could THEM and not YOU.

      Even if it is YOU, it doesn’t sound like they’re trying to deal with you constructively. Like if your grandboss gives you a premeditated chewing-out, something is really wrong.

    6. Cj*

      It’s hard to tell from what you wrote, so I have a couple of questions:

      Are they telling you that your work is “awful”, or that you are awful? If it’s your work, you say you’ve received their message, but have you done anything to correct it?

      You also say you can’t say anything without pissing people off. What are you saying?

      Why did your grandboss lose her shit at you this week?

  20. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

    Long notice periods and LinkedIn
    After being on sick leave due to burnout for the last year, I was laid off back in May.

    I negotiated a pretty good deal where I will remain on payroll, not work and receive full salary and benefits. A really long notice period basically. My last official day is December 31.

    How do I handle this on LinkedIn and other forums? I’m technically still an employee but in all other aspects, I’m not longer working there.

    I have a plan to go back to college in the fall, something I’ve been considering for more than a year. the studies would enable me steer my career in a different direction.

    That means I’m not going to go on an all-out job search for a least a semester. I’ll probably do some casual applying but I’m not gonna stress it.

    What do I write on LinkedIn?
    My brother says I should not post anything at all, least of all that I’m no longer working at Company.

    My idea is to do a casual “wow, after some fantastic years at Company I get to fulfill my dream of studying Basket Weaving, which takes me in a direction I want to go.” Etc etc etc.

    Is that a bad idea?

    1. NotAPirate*

      I wouldn’t post anything. Your end date is the date you were laid off I think, not the December 31. You can update your LinkedIn with the education information section, and start connecting with your school etc. People can tell from that what you are doing, you don’t need a post.

      1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

        I am still an employee, that’s the confusing part. But I agree that in reality the day I signed the papers was my last day.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      The question is what your employer will say was your end date if contacted. Match that.

    3. HR Bee*

      From an HR perspective, how I would do this is back date the end date once pay was over. So yes, for this interim the system would show you as “active” because you’re being paid, but once that was over, I’d put your term date as that date in May when I term’d your account in the system.

      I’d probably just ask your company how they’d be answered any employment verifications.

    4. Ronda*

      i had a year of severance payments when I was laid off. It include health benefits but not 401k and was paid on regular payroll cycle. I do not consider that I was employed during that time, since I was not working. They were required to give 2 months notice, so my termination date was that , even tho my boss said I could stop working when I liked…. I took about 3 weeks to transition my employees to their new manager, wrap up any work I was in the middle of and say goodbye to the people I had worked with for so long. No rule that you have to update linkedin, but it is good to match your resume once you do start applying for jobs

      I did apply for unemployment benefits after the severance payments ended. The unemployment was reduced by any amounts you were paid so didnt make sense to do it until I was not longer being paid.

      1. Cj*

        I don’t know what state you’re in, or if your even in the US, but that wouldn’t work re: unemployment in my state. You can only collect on your unemployment account for one year from the date you’re laid off. You need to apply at that time, and then, yes, your benefit amount would be reduced by the amount of severance pay you received. After the one year has passed, your account would be closed and you couldn’t apply when your severance ran out.

    5. Sam Foster*

      FYI: I find those “wow, …” to be cloying and insincere.

      As others have noted, by updating your education and setting the term date that you verify with the employer people will figure it out.

      Also, I’d check my local employment department re: your severance because it may make your unemployment insurance filing a major hassle especially since a lot of that depends on employment dates.

      Finally, make sure you have a legally binding document about the pay through the end of the year. I’ve never heard of that being done in installments, I’ve only seen it as a lump sum equivalent of the amount of salary on the official termination date.

  21. Not A Girl Boss*

    Is there any point in asking my boss if I’m getting laid off?

    I got a job offer that is a bit of a step down. Not terrible, but less money, less benefits, lateralish move… a good culture which is much appreciated (I know because I interned there years ago).

    I normally wouldn’t take it, but our company recently announced that layoffs are coming. We’re all already on partial furloughs. I don’t think there’s a huge chance I’m one of the ones being laid off – maybe like 10% chance?? But it’s all a guess.

    I kind of just want to ask my boss “should I take this job?” But he probably doesn’t even know if I’m on the layoff list yet, and I’m worried that asking him will make him think I’m more of a flight risk.
    But if, on the off chance he does know that they plan to keep me, it would totally suck to have taken this job when I could have stayed.

    1. NotAPirate*

      That’s a tough call.

      Your boss isn’t likely to be able to announce the layoffs early. They don’t want revenge happening if people still have logins etc. That’s a company mandate most places.

      What are the long term outlook for your company and for the new company? Last hired first fired is a saying in my field, is new job facing the same downturns that your company is? Is your company going to recover after this round of layoffs or likely to keep having layoff rounds to the point where your odds increase from the 10%?

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I think my current (huge) company is using COVID as a cover to reduce their number of employees. Our financial situation isn’t that dire. So I’m not sure they’d do a second round of layoffs, although there has been hints that they’ll prolong partial furloughs through 2022 which is downright criminal imo. (They gave us one day off a week and cut our pay accordingly – turns out I love the extra day off but it means we all work 12 hour days when we are working, so really I just got a salary cut).

        I’ve been with the company for 3 years but am the newest member of the department by like, 40 years. So it is a total coin flip on whether they cut me (last hired) or go for some of the people who make huge paychecks because of their tenure. I am the only minority in my department which people have said works in my favor? (Ugh, I feel gross writing that).

        New company is a late-stages startup. They seem to be in a really good position for moving forward and were largely unaffected by COVID, but like with all small companies they just don’t have the capital to weather a financial storm, and would probably follow “last in first out.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If a lot of people have been there for 40 years there may be enough people willing to retire that you would not be impacted by any layoff. Just throwing that out there….

        2. valentine*

          Be sure you compare the offer to what you have, not some fantasy where the people who are taking advantage of a pandemic to lay people off during same and cut your pay yet increased your hours (You went from 40 hours (five 8-hour days) to 48 (four 12-hour days)?!) are going to restore your pay/reduce your hours.

          I don’t see why you wouldn’t accept the job offer.

    2. Nothing But Flowers*

      Your boss isn’t going to tell you, he really can’t. And yes, if you ask him, he will assume (correctly!) that you are a flight risk.
      Can you negotiate more time to consider with the new company and see if layoffs shake out sooner?

    3. Dawn*

      They can’t tell you, and depending on what level your boss is and how much input the company is giving them they may not know who or which departments will be impacted until they are ready to . I have worked at places where HR picks the layoff candidates based on payroll, or time in service and other places that give managers the choice. It depends on your companies situation.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        And it can also vary across layoffs within an organization, too. At OldJob, we did two relatively small layoffs. The first was noticed in advance and each department was given a number of headcount to cut (mine was one and I ended up having someone take another position so just didn’t backfill their job; other departments were as high as five). The second came down like a ton of bricks and moved fast – we got the HR list and a number and then had to meet with employment counsel about our choice(s) all within a week and half. I was asked to identify five, I negotiated down to three, and one of my three became an internal transfer to another department, so it was two RIFs in the end from my team.

        Bottom line, your manager may not have the information you’re looking for and, even if they do, may not be able to share it with you.

  22. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    Has anyone had any success in discovering a new career by randomly browsing job listings on Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.? What I’ve started to do is to enter into the search box specific aspects of my current job that I like, that I could offer transferable experience in — e.g., “training,” “workshops” — and seeing what comes up.

    I know that I need to network — that very few people successfully land jobs, especially now, just by blindly applying on Indeed etc. — but I’m talking more about just using job listings as inspiration for what you might want to do next.

    I truly have no idea how to change careers, and I think I’ve reached the point where I urgently need to. The saddest thing is that, right now, I’m a librarian who teaches workshops on career-related databases as part of my job! I’ve used them all, and still have no inspiration.

    1. Laika*

      I can relate. I’m job-hunting and struggle with LinkedIn and Indeed a bit too because my work history is pretty scattered, so what they end up suggesting/recommending to me often isn’t what I’d like to be doing. But then again… I have no idea what I’d like to be doing, either!

      Have you looked into any cont ed education or online courses (Coursera, Lynda, Udacity kind of things)? I’ve had some luck narrowing it down by looking at courses I’m interested in, then using their described outcomes to search for job listings. I figure if I’m thinking, “Oh, I’d love to get a Llama Translation certificate!” then that can help guide my next steps for a career. Even if I never get the certification itself, it makes me stop and think about what I’d be interested in doing day-to-day, if that makes sense.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Good point. Our library also has free Lynda access, and I’m suspecting taking courses may be a better use of the same time I’d spend looking randomly at job listings. Then again, I don’t know yet what I want to learn. Its going to be a process that won’t happen overnight, for sure. But thank you.

      2. nep*

        Same here with LinkedIn and Indeed…Pretty mixed work history, and I’m determined to get back to the field I worked in for years, but many years ago.

    2. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I pretty much just put in my location with no keywords and search within a 50 mile radius, then just scroll through anything posted since my last visit. Most days, I don’t find anything other than medical, retail or food service jobs, unfortunately. Maybe once a week will I find something that I feel adequately qualified to apply to. At this point, I have absolutely no idea who I would even network with.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Skimming job ads can give you some ideas, and I suggest when you see something interesting you jot it down and then write out WHY you think it’s interesting. Or maybe it’s just one piece of a job ad — same thing.

      I am not a career counselor — I help students figure out their majors and do some career exploration too. And I’ve talked a lot over the years with colleagues who are considering job moves, been a sounding board really. So that’s my “qualification”

      Here’s what I think you should do: Reflect.

      What do you like/love about your current job? Make a list and don’t leave stuff off because you think it’s trivial or dopey or whatever. Maybe it is, planning workshops. Maybe it is, helping people get answers. Maybe it is, the thrill of the hunt in finding good resources. Maybe it is, independence to structure your day. Maybe it is, your office is a snack culture (someone always brings in donuts). Everything. Make a list. Put it away. Add to it as you think of things or notice things. Bring it out after a week or two and see if you can add to it. Put it away. Bring it out in a week or two and see if you notice any patterns.

      Other reflective lists you should make: what you hate about your job. What you would do if money and work obligations and any obligations were not considerations. What you are good at (do not sell yourself short on this). What you would like to learn. What do you value? Again, take time, come back to these lists, look for patterns.

      This can give you some ideas about industries or job types to look at. Share your conclusions with a trusted friend and see what they say. Ask trusted friends or colleagues what THEY think you are good at, where you need development, etc.

      One thing I do with my students, after they’ve done some activities that help them generate similar sorts of lists, is to go to one of those career databases that have good detail on skills and aptitudes and tasks. I have them look at tasks(for instance) for a job (chosen at random or something they think they might be interested in): which of the tasks sound fun/interesting? which ones sound like, I’d pull my head off if I had to do that for more than a couple hours a week? which ones sound like, I can do that now. or, I could learn that.

      You are likely to start seeing possible jobs/careers as you do this. Start doing some real research on those — you’re a librarian, you’ve got the this piece down! Then do some info interviews. (Alison has great info on how to do these, I share her posts with my students when they do info interviews)

      Assume it is going to take time. But work on it regularly, at least a couple hours a week.

      I;m planning to retire in a few years — I’ve started doing this to figure out what I want to do after I retire.

      Good luck!

      1. WhatDayIsIt*

        Thanks for sharing this advice! I’m in a hard hit field and don’t want to leave, but may be forced to deviate for a while if I loss my job. This is super helpful and I’m going to note this down to do work on!

    4. Miki*

      I’ve done that, but in a more targeted way (trying to figure out what jobs will give me experience to figure out if a career path that requires a specific education—think healthcare or law—is a good fit before I spend money on more school).

      If I could throw out another suggestion – have you listened to the Slate podcast “Working”? Every episode is an interview with someone about their job. They tend to group them in themes—the most recent run is more media-focused, but they did a series on working with the homeless, a series on food-related jobs, a series on Detroit. It really runs the gamut! Everything from funeral director to drag queen to labor organizer to comic book librarian, and there are a ton of episodes. Just browsing the titles might give you an idea or two.

    5. Super Duper Anon*

      Not a new career, but figuring out what to do as my career in the first place. I had taken computer science in university but discovered that I didn’t want to program for a living, but enjoyed learning about technology. I was browsing listings in the final year of my program trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and came across a number for technical writing. I found the descriptions of the work interesting and a lot of the jobs were looking for people with comp sci or tech backgrounds. I knew that I would need more schooling before I could jump into a job, so I did more research into a tech writing program and found a post-grad certificate to take. I really loved the classes and did well in them, got my first job in tech writing after I graduated from the certificate and have been doing it ever since.

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      I do this all the time and I’m not even looking to change careers or leave my current company – I just always like to know what else is out there in case I ever do need to pivot. In fact, I’m in my current career thanks to this kind of random search. It’s a great way to job search, so you’re on the right track.

  23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What’s your real weakness and how are you handling it? My weakness is that I have a poor memory. Today I was proud of my therapy, but forgot to get the kids to fill out surveys! Doing paperwork during the therapy session always throws me off.

    I also struggle with complex multi step tasks, because when things are cut up into small enough bits for me to tackle them one piece of work will have like ten steps.

    1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

      I’m very uneven in terms of my work performance, I’m not always reliable. I tend to work in spurts and then have dips.

      It sucks.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I tend to get distracted and take a lot longer than I could to do things. But I’m quite speedy at my work most of the time, so it works out. :)

      Also I need lists I can cross off and visual reminders or I will straight up forget to do things.

    3. Amber Rose*

      If I’m interested or at least involved in the task I’m doing, I hyper focus on it to the exclusion of other, possibly time sensitive things that sometimes get forgotten or have to be done in a rush. :(

      I prefer doing one thing at a time, but with larger projects being mingled with smaller daily tasks, that is obviously not possible.

    4. Altair*

      I have a tendency to panic when I’m not absolutely certain of what I’m doing. Which I spent quite a few years in therapy working on and which I try to manage at work by taking a deep breath, quickly breaking down the issue in my head, and attacking it piece by piece. (Not working for gaslighters anymore helps as well)

    5. blepkitty*

      A. I easily fall into the toxic negative workplace culture. Dealing with this by avoiding venting about people to my coworkers, but I have a hard time then identifying if something is wrong with me or if it’s my workplace.

      B. I struggle with focus, which makes me slow to complete work. I’m hoping therapy will help with this, but so far, no dice. I’m simultaneously working on developing my skills in things I enjoy enough to focus on with the dream of becoming self-employed eventually.

    6. londonedit*

      I struggle with letting go. Which I know sounds like one of those bollocks ‘my weakness is I’m a perfectionist’ things, but I do struggle with not just doing things myself because it’s quicker/easier/other people might mess it up. Which inevitably leads to me doing more work than I should. I worry that if I let things go, it’ll come back and bite me on the bum if/when it goes wrong (the product of some previous toxic workplaces). I am better about it now, though, and as I’m further along in my career I feel I have the capital to tell my boss that I can’t do X without compromising Y, rather than just trying to do it all.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      According to my boss, my primary need for improvement is that I’m not very patient with people who make the same mistakes repeatedly. (I’m not entirely convinced that *I* am the one with the biggest issue in this particular scenario, personally. :P )

      But she’s right in that I am naturally inclined to be brusque and very to the point, especially in written communication, and especially when people are being frustrating, and need to work on ways to ease that up some because while some people are fine with that, others really … aren’t.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I struggled with this a lot early in my career and got a lot of feedback on it (and remain unconvinced that my expectation people do their job properly is the problem :). What it boiled down to was less the correction of others work or my feedback but how I was delivering it. I tend to be direct and to the point and can come off as brusque, so I’ve worked at being more approachable, coaching/offering help rather than criticizing, and generally thinking about it as not wanting to get stuck doing everyone else’s job to my own specifications and thus needing to relax and figure out what’s a big deal versus something I can let go.

        And, if I’m being really honest, I got to a point, for myself, where I decided being a collaborative and helping boost my team up became more important than being right. (And, ask my spouse, I really do enjoy being right.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep — I’m looking for ways to work on my delivery, without feeling like I’ve obscured the necessary “Hey, this wasn’t correct, here’s how it should’ve been” message in the niceties. :) Because really — I don’t care that you got it wrong, I just want to get it fixed and keep it from happening again, and if you don’t make the same mistake again, then I probably won’t even remember it tomorrow. So I hate having to spend a lot of time crafting the perfect message to communicate the correction without people thinking I’m being rude or whatever.

          The feedback I personally want is “Hey, you glued the spout on sideways, make sure you’re checking the alignment platform before gluing, carry on!” Then I go “Oh, crap, right, my bad, won’t happen again,” and it doesn’t. With some of my people, that works a treat. But I seem to have some people on my team who hear that feedback and apparently translate it as “you are a terrible person who shoots kittens out of a potato gun into a pit full of angry bears and I hate you forever and I want you to be fired.” And I just … can’t wrap my head around that. So I guess a secondary problem is that *because* I am so task-oriented and straightforward, I have a hard time telling when I legitimately need to soften my messaging vs when people are really just being overly precious because they got called out for a mistake. (For what it’s worth, on the couple of occasions that people have actually objected to my messaging, my manager has assured me that she didn’t find my wording rude, unprofessional or otherwise problematic at all – just less sugar-coated than perhaps people might want or be used to.)

    8. Lora*

      I canNOT deal with interruptions to my train of thought at ALL.

      I take super detailed notes during meetings and try to sort of cluster meetings together in the morning. I try to schedule big blocks of time in my calendar as Busy for getting work done. I have noise canceling headphones. I don’t answer the phone unless it’s a health care or major financial emergency type of thing. But god forbid someone interrupts me in my Busy time while I’m trying to do calculations. I HATE being in the office, everyone interrupting me all the time. Working from home, even Before Covid, was a huge help.

    9. Bostonian*

      I probably waste too much time planning: overthinking and re-writing emails, exploring multiple possibilities when making a decision, writing an agenda outline before meetings I’m leading, etc. I probably spend more time on this than most people.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is mine, too. I overthink and over-research and over-polish. My superpower is my strategic and analytical brain, but the shadow side of that is I’m slow to act and make decisions and especially to close out tasks.

        I don’t hate this about me, I appreciate my thoughtfulness and precision. So I’ve mostly worked for myself for a long time so that spending too much time is my problem and no one else’s. And I’ve gotten better and knowing when to stop and when to call for help. It will always be one of my battles.

    10. ampersand*

      In an internship years ago, my supervisor/mentor pointed out that if I don’t think something is important, I won’t do it. I was impressed that she noticed that after working with me for such a short period of time; I hadn’t realized that was a thing I did, but once she said it it was so clear she was right.

      I think getting older/having more experience has helped this to be less of an issue–I now can see that even menial tasks are useful because they contribute to some part of the bigger picture. I may put them off but I don’t just abandon them. And if they don’t contribute in some way, it’s time to reevaluate whether they should be done.

    11. Drowned Lab Rat*

      I don’t know when it’s appropriate to tell my boss I don’t to do something. Good science isn’t rushed! Feeling super burnt out this week.

    12. Exit, pursued by bear*

      Taking notes when I’m unfamiliar with the topic at hand. I don’t know what to write down and I don’t like looking incompetent when I ask questions.

    13. Anon4This*

      I am a procrastinator and, unfortunately, a really fast and efficient worker, so I never get burned enough by my own procrastination to knock it off. If I could work at full efficiency, I’d be a force to be reconned with, but I can’t quite get there.

      I also don’t like diving into things without what I consider to be enough information. (I like to tell my boss we’re a good combo because she’s a ready-fire-aim sort, and I’m an aim-aim some more-ready-aim again- fire sort. She pushes me not to get analysis paralysis, and I keep her from going over the cliff.)

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I need a lot of information too and have a hard time breaking complex tasks into steps

    14. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I hold grudges and I let others influence the way I perceive people.
      When I first started at one job, I had a sort of mentor who was incredibly smart but didn’t work well with others, and she often gave off vibes that our coworkers were beneath her. Even after I figure out she was the problem, it forever colored the way I viewed those colleagues (although I worked very hard to not let it come across in our interactions).

    15. Retail not Retail*

      I had a job interview Monday where I actually led with literal weakness – well I couldn’t physically do this and I’ve gotten stronger and/or we purchased more ergonomic tools. (A lighter weedeater I can actually hold and not rest on my hip!)

      If my distance from the job didn’t kill my chances, that sure didn’t help.

    16. KoiFeeder*

      Another grudge-holder, and I just genuinely don’t like humans and human interaction to begin with. I have been told that I look hateful, but I don’t know how much of it is it being obvious that I despise people and how much of it is a combination of RBF and a physically ugly appearance.

    17. Best Cat in the World*

      My biggest issue is my confidence. I second guess myself and am way too critical of myself. Which isn’t a bad thing to a point but I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t override what I know and cause problems. I’m trying to beat it by focussing on what went well, the jobs I do where I’ve made a difference and can pinpoint what I did that was good. And I’m noticing a difference. Situations that three months ago had me drenched in sweat at the mental juggling I was doing now just have me sweating because the outfit I have to wear for them turns me into a boil-in-the-bag!

  24. My Assistant Has Fur*

    This is sort of work-related, but feel free to tell me it actually belongs on the Sunday thread: my office is starting to discuss returning to office work; they are doing it cautiously and being sensitive and understanding about it, so that’s not my concern. However, my very anxious and attached dog has gotten very comfortable with the version of life where I’m home all day. I’ve been trying to keep our schedule as close to “work conditions” as I can – we get up at the same time, follow the same morning routine, he sees me change my clothes like normal, and I actually leave the house with my work bag at the same time as I would if I were going to the office (I go for a 10-15 minute walk)…but then I come back and I’m there all day.

    In the Before Times, he didn’t love me going to work, but after some trial and error and discovering that he was happiest when he had full run of the condo, he resigned himself to it (and I do come home at lunch almost every day). Has anyone else transitioned back to office work and run into pet issues/had any successful tactics?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Ugh this is something I’m afraid of too. My dog is just sooo happy to have me home, and has stopped excited-peeing herself when I get home, which is a huge win for everyone involved lol.

      One thing I’ve been working on is putting her in a playpen in the other room for stretches of time so she gets used to not having my “company”.

      I also will probably send her to daycare or have a walker come when I return to work. That worked really well when she was a puppy. I only had to send her to daycare twice a week, because she’d be so exhausted from daycare that she’d sleep the whole next day.

      I also have no idea if this works or not, but I’ve tried to use a special phrase (“momma goes to work now”) to tell her that I’m leaving for a full day so she knows what to expect. She also gets a special treat only when I’m leaving for 4+ hours. (one of those frozen peanut butter licking mats). Often she’s so excited to have her special treat that she doesn’t notice me leave.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m having the opposite problem; our dog was used to being alone 8-9 hours a day and got really stressed out back in March when we were both home all. the. time. He’s adapted now, for the most part.

      That said, you may just have to jump into it. Does your pup have a crate you could train him to be in, or you could try a calming treat as you leave? We’ve used a couple different ones for both anxiety around the house and when we’ve flown with him, I’m happy to share brands if that’s helpful.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You could leave music on playing softly for him. Some times just gentle noise is reassuring.

  25. "Awful Morale" LW*

    I don’t know if we’re allowed to do min-updates here, but I’m the letter-writer from two weeks back whose boss asked them to draw up a list of solutions to bad morale. A few days after my letter was answered, I got an email from my school telling me that my seat had been deferred until September 2021 due to COVID restrictions. Phooey! But I’m likely able to get into a different program for January, and I’m actively applying to jobs in case that doesn’t work out, so I’m still looking to give notice shortly.

    Despite everyone’s “don’t waste your energy” comments, I still ended up meeting in person twice and having a few back-and-forth email chains with my boss. And, of course, nothing she offered as a “solution” was an actual solution. It’s frustrating to see that their choosing to ignore a big ol’ pile of red flags, but luckily, it won’t be my problem any more VERY soon.

    On that note, if anyone has any tips or advice on heading back to school after being in the workforce for a while (I hate the phrase “mature student” but I’m mid-30s), I’m all ears!

    1. NRL*

      I think AAM prefers that you send updates in to her so she can print them (since a lot of people don’t read the open threads)

      Congratulations on school!

      1. "Awful Morale" LW**

        Ah, I thought that might’ve been the case! Well, I’ll send in a “real” update once this school/new job situation shakes out…

    2. Lyudie*

      Personally I prefer “returning student” (I am one myself in my mid-40s). Honestly, after being in the workforce for a while, you have an advantage in some respects. You have learned time management and how to focus and motivate yourself, and those are all especially valuable if you are going to be doing classwork online. Set aside time each day to do school work. If you’re going full time, it might be helpful to consider it your job. Remembering how to study and write papers might take some time (papers for me was totally new because I used MLA style all through undergrad, and my program requires APA…some pretty big differences I had to learn).

      Good luck!!

      1. Tuckerman*

        Yup, I work with many returning students and they are often our highest performers because they have all the skills and experience you mention. The returning students who struggle often have a lot on their plate with few resources. For example, family responsibilities, a full-time job, few financial resources.

        1. Lyudie*

          Yeah that’s the flip side, there’s more responsibilities than you had as an undergrad, probably. My program is almost all returning students (I think I know of two or three who came straight from their bachelor’s) and many have kids and work full time…they do have to do some juggling at times. I work full time but don’t have kids and take a light courseload.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Sorry about your luck!

      Advice for school:
      Get a planner! Paper is my preference, but you can make excel calendar or other calendars work too. As soon as you get your syllabus write down all the important deadlines and dates, prep yourself so you can study well in advance, don’t be doing readings at 1am the day before the class, get them in a timely manner. Grad school tends to be so much reading, it can really pile up. Keep your homework assignments in there too, one zero can really mess up your grades. It’s also a lot easier to say no to plans if you can quickly glance at your next week and visually see how much stuff is due. Older students struggle sometimes with more life obligations and friend expectations, younger ones often have the culture of everyone is studying more built in.

      Likewise, make a reading list each week. What topics are being covered in what classes, if you don’t have time to read the proper book chapter or reccomended articles at least read wikipedia on it so you have some framework for it.

      Review your notes! I see so many students, who take great notes, but never review them and then wonder why they aren’t succeeding. 24-72 hours after class is your window for memory retention, reread, highlight, rewrite, summarize, redo examples, whatever works for you just interact with your notes.

      Keep a binder per subject. Hole punch your stuff and keep it sorted by class then by notes, hw, tests, etc.

      Rework examples given in the book, in class etc. It’s not enough to submit hw. Rework examples so you can see if you are doing it right. Rework them without seeing the next steps. Go to office hours if you can’t progress through the steps without them in front of you, figure out what’s going wrong.

      Talk in class! Peers will get to know you and be likely to set up study groups or projects. Teachers will start recognizing you which makes office hours a lot easier. Also it helps teachers adjust lectures if they have feedback when they ask questions, are students getting it or not.

    4. Ginger Baker*

      Piggybacking on Lyudie’s advice, there are often plug-ins for different kinds of citation formats that make your life easier in Word, so worth checking on that. I definitely find that my time-management skills and routines in general are much much better now than when I first went to college, and likely you will find the same.

      Specific to the current environment, I recently set up a Slack group for one of my classes so we can connect in a casual study-group kind of way, because online classes really don’t allow for that naturally. I set mine up with the class title and some background thought that maybe I will hand it over to the professor afterwards to use for future online class sessions. Jury is out on whether it will help or be useful, but it seemed worth trying (and for me at least, I have found that “step in and be the one to suggest/organize things” comes pretty easily since I have been working almost as long as most of these students have been alive…)

      1. blepkitty*

        Piggybacking on the citation “plug-ins”, a lot of universities purchase citation management software and make it available to students. Generally this is either Refworks or Endnote, and purchased via the library, so they’re the ones who’ll tell you how to access it. If yours doesn’t have any, there are free ones. If you haven’t used one before, learn to use one while the workload is light; they tend to require a big time investment up front, but save a lot of frustration when writing papers.

        1. Lyudie*

          The Purdue online writing lab (OWL) is not only a great paper-writing resource (it’s online for everyone, you do not have to be a Purdue student) and it has an online citation tool. You’ll still want to double check everything looks right but it’s super helpful, especially for citing web resources.

          One note on Word and formatting: if you are using APA style and your professor wants APA version 7, you will have to tweak the APA 6 template in Word. They have not updated for the new version and who knows when they will. OWL has a page with differences between 6 and 7 and the changes are easy enough to make that I still use the Word template as a starting point.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Don’t be shy about setting up study groups with the younger students. My best friends in med school were about twenty years younger than I was.

    6. Hillary*

      if you’re doing group projects/papers/presentations, try to pair up with people who have the same style as you. I’m in operations and tried to group up with the engineers and/or people who’d done the same kind of undergrad I had. Our norming went faster because our communications and writing styles already matched. We all wanted to work efficiently. Some of the most stressed groups had a mix of people who wanted to work efficiently versus meet for four or five hours because they didn’t have anything else to do.

    7. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Use all the resources that your school offers. Go to the Writing Center (having a standing appointment with them is a great way to set internal deadlines for yourself, even if you don’t have any questions), use the STEM or math lab, go to professor’s office hours, ask librarians for research help.

      You got this!

  26. Environmental Compliance*

    My sister got a new job!!!! I’m so excited for her. This is her first not-food-service, office job, and in an area that she has expressed a lot of interest in in the past.

    And, Hubs finally is getting interviews – there’s one that’s pretty promising. I’m hopeful for him. Financially, we’re completely fine (and very lucky in that regard), but I know mentally this is pretty rough on him.

    AND my Previous Company is *finally* hiring someone to replace me, so hopefully this means less questions and hand-holding from afar. I don’t mind the extra check, but the intent was not for “where was this file saved” when you have a file map sitting in front of you, it was for “can you assist with finishing this report”. It will also be nice to just…. cut those ties.

    As an actual question…. anyone here part of the Federation of Environmental Technologists, Inc.? Previous person in my position highly recommended I join this group, but to be quite honest I’m not sure there’s much of a benefit based on their website, and the previous person and I have very, very different strategies on how to get things done.

  27. A. Ham*

    Well it happened. My company announced a 2nd round of furloughs- the first one was a pretty small amount of people, this one was much bigger, almost 50% of the remaining full time staff- and this time I was affected.

    The announcement was not at all unexpected. What are you supposed to do when you have close to 0 income coming in for months- and no end in sight? It’s a business that relies on large groups of people gathering, and that is clearly not happening for a long time. But it’s still sad and stressful. I certainly don’t blame the leaders of my company- they didn’t do a thing wrong- in fact they did all sorts of things right in order to keep us working for THIS long. I’m grateful that it is a furlough and not a layoff, and that because of that I still have insurance.

    I’m devastated to see my entire beloved industry in such pain. I am hopeful that when this storm that is Covid subsides, our ship will be mostly salvageable, and the loyal customers who love what we do will come back. I just wish the end was in any way in sight. 

    1. A. Burr*

      I don’t have anything to offer except my support and good thoughts, but I couldn’t NOT reply to your moniker. :-)

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          This thread made my day. I have a colleague at work and sign emails to her with “I have the honor to be your obedient servant”. <3

    2. Nothing But Flowers*

      I run a theater. So, I understand. It is awful. I’m sorry. We are so screwed.

      1. A. Ham*

        Yeah. it’s heartbreaking. I’ve made my career in this industry and i love it. I remember in college and shortly after, there was lots of talk about how difficult it was to break into this world, and to have a backup plan and all that, but as years went by and i had established myself I didn’t think I would ever have to consider doing anything else… :-(

      2. A. Ham*

        I feel for you and hope you and your theater make it through ok. I’ll be thinking of you.

    3. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I’m in the events industry, so I understand as well. Been furloughed since April and my company has been…less than transparent and communicative if I’ll ever be back.

      1. A. Ham*

        I’m so sorry. I have friends that are in the events industry and it is just as bad. I hope things get better.

    4. HR Bee*

      Just here to commiserate! I was laid off in April from my role at the Convention Center. I got a new job quickly, thankfully, but I know they are still not back. It’s really awful and I feel for you and the whole events industry!

    5. Observer*

      This is rough. You are eligible for unemployment, so DO apply.

      And, do start job hunting. I get that you are hoping to come back, but no one can guarantee anything.

  28. blepkitty*

    Okay, there’s a question at the bottom of this if you want to skip the workplace woes that lead up to my decision to job hunt when I’ve been at my current position for less than a year.

    My boss announced to me this week that in a reorganization, my colleague/”assignment supervisor” Jane, a micromanaging perfectionist who doesn’t communicate particularly well and likes to train me in how to do things I already know, will become my one and only direct supervisor in a few weeks. Jane continues to leave me pretty much incapacitated with frustration and anxiety at least once a week, so I need out of here. (Oh, and current boss is getting on my case about time management–when the issues with my time are a. Jane expects me to do far more detailed work than I could hope to do in the time they expect me to do the work b. Jane’s perfectionism/lack of organization and communicaton/micromanaging being a gigantic time sink c. I’m a nervous wreck about doing my work because Jane always, always finds fault with any judgment calls I make and d. they always want things done ASAP, but I have to take breaks for distress tolerance activities because my mental health is abysmal.)

    My question: There’s a job opening nearby that is very similar to my current one. The thing is, though, that I’ve been at this job for less than a year. So what do I say when I’m asked why I’m looking to make a change? Is it okay to say that this job is really not a culture fit for me?

    1. NotAPirate*

      You can say the company restructured and your workload changed as well as realizing your advancement opportunities were limited at current job (the unsaid is because Jane hates your work).

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I don’t know if the advancement line would help OP – she’s only been in her current role not even a year, so that seems premature that she would be expecting to move up so soon. But OP can most definitely mention the reorganization and say that she will no longer be doing what she signed up for, and that’s why she’s excited about the role she’s interviewing for – she’ll get to do what she’s passionate about.

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, the restructuring thing worked well for me when I was looking a few years ago. I was leaving for different reasons, but it was handy to say, “The company has been sold twice in the past two years so I’m looking for something a little more stable.”

    2. Ali M*

      I think saying something along the lines of this would be enough: “After a few months at Company X, I determined that the company and I weren’t a culture fit for each other. I enjoy the work, so an opportunity with Company Y was interesting to me.” You can also reinforce that you’re looking for somewhere to grow your career (implying you’d like to stick around) and that you’re not used to leaving a role so soon (if that’s true as reflected on your resumé). If you know anything about the new company’s culture (for example from their website), you can also reinforce that you think you’ll be a good match for their company.

      I said something similar when I interviewed for my current job, after working at another company for a year. What was unsaid was that the office was handling Covid-19 poorly, had no task management, and had moved to a new office building further away which would be awful for my commute. So, definitely leave Jane’s micromanaging out of it. You got this!

  29. Academic Librarian Here*

    Low stake /Please help with language
    I am an academic librarian in R1 working from home time and a half. We are on salary reduction with furlough days. I am scheduling mine next week.
    1. We are theoretically supposed to not work. That means no email, no reference, no intern mentoring etc. I am in the archives if that makes a difference- there are often “book emergencies” with high profile stake holder. (but nothing life threatening)
    2. as a person with poor work/life balance, I am going to try not to look at e-mail etc during the week.
    3. Should I put an auto-reply on my email that states- due to covid related budget cuts, I am on furlough until August 3rd and will reply to your query then?
    Do you have better language?

    1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      I think as long as your organization has approved you publicizing the furlough, that language is fine. If they don’t want employees to mention the reason (which they shouldn’t, that’d be a red flag, but just in case) I’d say something vague like “I’ll be out of office without access to my email or phone until August 3” or something similar.

    2. Time_TravelR*

      You could just say out of the office until [date] and will respond then. If this is an emergency, please contact ….

    3. blink14*

      I think you should definitely put up an away message on your email. Maybe leave it vague and say something like I am out of the office/library until X date. Please contact so and so for assistance during this period.

    4. MsNotMrs*

      Fellow lib here–I would probably just put that I am out of office from X to Y dates. If everyone is taking furloughs here or there, I’m sure people will be able to read in between the lines that’s why you’re OoO. If you were out for a knee surgery or something, I think it would be kind of strange to say “I’m out from X to Y for knee surgery.”

      I do periodically check my emails (usually once a day) when I’m at home, mostly because we are open 7 days a week but I’m obviously only in-branch for 5. I want to be available if there’s some crazy emergency, but I try to stay hands-off with what’s actually going on, just for my own sanity.

      1. Academic Librarian Here*

        yes- since my role has no coverage, I have never not looked at my email daily even on vacation. My fear is getting sucked into doing a half days work. It is not a secret but maybe just a “not available message”

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      As a fellow archives worker, here’s what I would recommend some language like, “I out of the office from X date to X date. If you need immediate assistance, please contact X. I will respond to your message as soon as possible upon my return, but due to the volume of emails I receive it maybe a few days. Thank you for your patience.”

      I think you can mention the furlough if you think it gains you something politically, but I wouldn’t mention it if you just feel like you need a ‘reason’ not answer. Because you are a human, and you do not need a reason. If there is a genuine emergency, like water pouring from the ceiling or University Counsel needs those documents today, then folks have your phone number, right? Otherwise, old stuff is just gonna get a few days older in your absence.

      As someone who has nearly burned out in the special collections field, learning to walk away is a super important skill.

  30. strikingcoconut*

    Here’s another crying employee question:

    I had to have a check-in with a staff member whose contract is ending next month. The contract was extended once at the end of April, even it looked like we wouldn’t be able tot, but someone left at the last minute and we kept her on until August. We won’t be able to extend it again. Leading up to the first “end” I worked with her and her successor to come up with a transition plan and they’ve been working on it since.

    She cried at our last “contract ending” conversation and cried again today. Is this normal? It wasn’t openly weeping, but that kind of quavering, slow single tears, kind of crying. I kind of just plowed on, because I thought she might be able to keep it together this time, because she surely know she was already on borrowed time. How do you handle these kinds of things?

    1. Altair*

      Whether or not she knew she was on borrowed time she’s about to lose her livelihood in our current acute depression. That’s not fun.

      My advice, as someone who cries: when you get to the meeting hand her a tissue box, then speak normally as if she’s not crying, but give her a few extra seconds to reply so she can take a deep breath or two before speaking. I find that having the other person not make a big deal helps me ‘ground’ my emotional state on theirs and calm down faster.

      1. strikingcoconut*

        for sure, it was a Zoom call, so the tissues are out. But the advice to pause is good.

    2. NotAPirate*

      Offer to take a brief bathroom break? So they have a moment to pull themselves together? They may just want to push through the meeting so then they can go breakdown in private once it’s over. Can you offer water? I find it hard to cry while sipping water, sometimes that works for me.

    3. ...*

      If its just a few tears shedding and they’re able to keep composure with a Kleenex or whatnot I would just push through. If they’re sobbing and catching their breath I’d have them go to the restroom or hallway to compose themself. But slow, single tears sounds fairly reasonable for the situation even if she knew it was coming. I’d push through the conversation.

    4. Observer*

      You’ve gotten good advice. And it doesn’t matter if it’s “normal”. It’s a very difficult spot to be in, and knowing about it in advance doesn’t help that much.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      We are in a pandemic, every day the news is worse than yesterday, and now she is being told she is going to get laid off. Yeah, probably crying is pretty normal here. Like you did, just forge ahead. It sounds like she mustered what she could and she forged ahead also.

      Ummm, “because she surely know she was already on borrowed time”. I am not sure how that would eliminate any upset here. I can know my dog is going to die and I still cry when the dog dies. Likewise with a job, we can know it’s going to end and still cry. So I am not really getting the logic of the thought here. You just confirmed to a fellow human being that they now have no income, so I think that upset is to be expected.

      The best you can do is offer some encouraging words, if you can truthfully do so. You can offer to be a reference, if you are comfortable with that. Putting in the time to say some additional kind words telegraphs that the boss understands we are all human beings first and employees second.

    6. allathian*

      Yes, crying in situations like this is perfectly normal. She’s about to lose her livelihood. It doesn’t help that it’s expected, it’s still terrible. Especially if you’re in the US and she’s going to lose her health insurance as well, in a pandemic.

      Let her cry. The most important thing here is that you don’t let her see how uncomfortable the crying makes you feel. She’s had devastating news and it’s inappropriate to expect her to manage your discomfort with her crying. Sounds like you did the right thing here, she had tears running down her cheeks, she wasn’t sobbing or howling in distress. Plowing on was probably easiest for her, too. I doubt she wanted to prolong the meeting any more than you did.

      If you’re feeling uncomfortable when you give bad news and the recipient reacts to it, that’s just normal human empathy. If you ever find yourself feeling indifferent to a fellow human being’s distress, or worse, enjoying it, it’s time to get out of management.

  31. Captain Kirk*

    I’m trying to transition from my current job into computer programming; I got my comp sci degree several years back but haven’t had much luck finding work. Seems like jobs want caviar experience on ground beef budget, or are contract positions. Is it more normal to just take short-term contract positions when working in software development? I have a chronic condition, so finding a stable job with health insurance is important to me. (That said, I know that technically any job isn’t guaranteed, even “long-term” ones.)

    1. Grumpy Lady*

      I cant answer the question but can commiserate with you. I got my comp sci degree and wasnt even able to get a basic help desk job that wasnt a midnight to 9am shift. And I graduated cum laude. My friend in IT tells me that certifications are king when it comes to job applications but I dont think that matters for programming. Short term contracting would at least get you the experience on your resume to find something more stable.

    2. Nicki Name*

      If you’re in the US, contract positions are very normal, in that there are a lot of programmers working in them at any given time. But they vary a LOT.

      My current job was a contract-to-hire arrangement. I applied through a technical recruiter after the recruiter assured me, on his experience with placing other people at the same company, that the company enters into these arrangements with a strong intent to hire unless things really don’t work out.

      One big company in my town has “permatemps”. People do 18-month contract stints there, then go somewhere else for 6 months, then come back to the big company. It provides a kind a of job stability, in that everyone knows what they’re in for and are employed long-term by the contracting company.

      There’s another big company in my town that likes to hire programmers on renewable 3-month contracts with a low conversion rate. At the end of the contract, you might get hired permanently, you might get dropped, you might get strung along for another 3 months, who knows?

      As for health insurance, many of the contract/recruiting companies provide it for their contractors, but that also varies a lot. Some of them have benefits similar to what a full-time tech job would give you, some have just the bare minimum.

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

      Ironically enough, back when I started most of the entry level programming positions demand you have the “right” degree from the “right” University (university beef is a thing here). About 90% of my applications were automatically rejected, while companies complained there weren’t enough good candidates. In the end I managed to start my career working in mid size and small mom-and-pop consulting agencies, who have more reasonable requirements.

    4. Sleeplessinseattle*

      This is a good time for a tech recruiter. Starting out they were invaluable. I likely wouldn’t use recruiters now that my network has expanded and I have past coworkers who can vouch for me, but they are helpful for getting in the door.

  32. Anon for this post*

    I don’t know if I’ve just worked in crappy places or if I’m naive, but what is bad with wanting to work and do a good job? The coworkers in my present and previous jobs tell me, “You’re doing too much. You’re making us look bad.”

    Aren’t we all here to work? That’s what I’m doing. Yes, I take breaks and socialize, but I can’t spend the entire time slacking off and only working when there is something due.

    My current and previous coworkers would socialize a little with me, but otherwise they do their own thing. They seemed threatened by me. They would gossip about me to others. They would also give me the wrong info on purpose or blow me off.

    I feel like I’m going nuts. Has anyone been through this? What did you do?

    1. windowround*

      Some people are just slack and some people work to standard in which they are treated and paid.

      If you’re in a good workplace and other people are just taking advantage then that’s not ok. Just ignore them and work hard.

      If you’re in a bad workplace or people are underpaid and they work to the scale of pay you might want to be more careful as working hard in a bad environment can be seen as rewarding bad employer behaviour.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      Are you veering into doing their work or only doing your work? Do you have any ideas about what feelings could be behind this? Have you gotten any feedback, positive or negative, from your manager/s about your volume of work?

      Next time someone says, “You’re doing too much. You’re making us look bad.” you could say “Why do you say that?” and see how they respond and if you think it has any validity. Since it’s coming from people both jobs, that makes me wonder if there’s any kernel of truth behind their weird comments.

      “I can’t spend the entire time slacking off and only working when there is something due.” This also makes me wonder if your whole team has a light workload and other team members are accustomed to filling gaps between deadline-tasks with non-work stuff. That doesn’t mean your approach (doing work during work!) is wrong, just different.

      They would gossip about me to others. They would also give me the wrong info on purpose or blow me off.
      I know what I said above but those people are petty jerks and you can discount their opinions about everything.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There was a question similar to this last week.

      Yep. I went through it. Eventually I left the job because the sentiment originated from the top down. Failure was admirable, success was to be mocked.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      “Has anyone been through this?”

      Yes. I took a job in a branch office consisting of two admins (including myself) and three executives. One of the executives told me in front of the other admin that I was better at typing and dictation than she was. So I made her look bad, even though it was not my intention to do so. She burst into tears and shouted “I’m going home!” and ran out the door. The next day, she complained to the branch manager that if he didn’t fire me, she would quit. So he fired me. (He told me that she had said that to him.)

      “What did you do?”

      I looked for a new job. And I left that job off my resume.

    5. eeniemeenie*

      If you’ve experienced this repeatedly, is it worth asking whether your own behaviour could be causing others to alienate you? Just to be clear, it’s not okay for your coworkers to be rude to you or deliberately give you wrong info. But you mentioned getting the same negative feedback from coworkers across multiple jobs. Is there a valid reason for them to feel this way – even if the message is delivered badly? Yeah, it could be that you have douchey coworkers due to bad luck. Or maybe you take on other people’s work in an inconsiderate way that makes them feel inadequate or embarrassed?

      I also suggest having a conversation with your manager to ask for their frank input on this. Many of us aren’t good at accurate self appraisal. For your own learning and development it might be good to explore other perspectives here.

    6. Sam Foster*

      I’ve been through this. Your options are:
      1) Leave
      2) Continue as you are and be treated progressively worse since you are viewed as a threat to the status quo
      3) Adapt to the status quo assuming you can do so and maintain your mental health

      My situation ended up as a #2 where I was terminated because I “created a hostile environment.”

      Good luck!

  33. Amber Rose*

    Sanity check: did I overreact, under react, take things too far? Also wtf is going on (probably no answer for that.)

    Small background: The usual process of the company is that sales people sell the things, and office support does all the work related to completing the sale (and we do not get along). Lately I’ve been teaching the now-remote sales people how to do some of the order entry online, so they’ve started doing at least step one, the most time consuming step, of all that work.

    The scenario: We received an email from one of the sales people that basically said, “I entered this a month ago, looks like it’s still open, can you look into what happened here and get this done.”

    But she tagged that email onto a long email chain where she and another sales person emailed each other, all the customers… and NONE OF US. So what HAPPENED there, you see, is we’re not friggin’ MIND READERS. And the reason I’m angry is because she could have just looked at the darn email chain and seen like oh, I screwed up. And if she’d come to me saying, “Whoops, my bad, can you help me out” I would have had zero negative feelings because I mess up all the time, it happens. Instead, I feel blamed. The implication is that it’s an error I need to look into and I need to address it because it’s mine.

    Anyways, I went home and raged loudly at my very patient husband while he cooked dinner, slept on it, then in the morning I forwarded the email to our CEO and my boss and her boss saying, “This feels very rude and accusatory, can you step in and help us resolve this.” Because I was way too angry, and this is not the first time.

    Then nothing happened for a while. Then I ran into the CEO in the hall and he said, “That email was GREAT, good job.”


    Should I have just sucked it up and not said anything, do you think? Because I really liked my fence sitting position in this stupid war between our departments. I liked being able to get on with the people from both groups, and now I think I’ve chosen a side and it’s so childish and ugh. But I really also don’t want to be a door mat.

    1. Taura*

      I mean, unless it’s a super small company, I think including the CEO was a bit much. It might have been better to just forward the email to your boss, with “it looks like we were never actually copied on this. I can get the ball rolling so we can close it, but how would you like to handle communication going forward?” So that your boss knew YOU weren’t responsible and that this was out of your hands. As it is right now, I don’t think there’s anything you can do until you get more of a reaction (honestly, I can’t figure what was up with your CEO there)

      1. Amber Rose*

        We are pretty darn small. I only copied him because my boss recommended it (I realize I should have mentioned that first.)

        I feel like maybe I’m being praised for being polite/professional, since that’s not super common around here. But that’s still really weird.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Honestly, I don’t think that looping in your manager is too far. We had a VERY similar situation at my work just yesterday, and reading about your situation actually made me feel a little better (in the misery loves company kind of way). The TL/DR version is my team is helping another team with a certain subset of their tasks which they have interpreted as us helping with ALL of their tasks. When we pushed back and said “oh, our understanding was that we were only helping with X” one of the people on that team said we were “having a bit of a mutiny” about helping… and then logged the email in our internal database where we inadvertently discovered it.

      I’m very confused by your CEO’s comment as well. Maybe he’s just glad you stood up for yourself? But ultimately if nothing happened, then I don’t think you overreacted. Interdepartmental politics suck. I hope you’re able to resolve things!

    3. ...*

      The email they sent sounds rather brusque but still well within normal business communications. Unless the CEO is your direct manager I wouldn’t email the CEO and say that someone was being rude to me. There must be quite a lot of friction between your departments because it seems like a fairly large over-reaction. I probably would have just said “Sure I can take care of it, looks like we weren’t added to the e-mail chain prior.”

    4. Cat*

      It sounds like they made a mistake and forgot to copy you and you dealt with it fine. What I don’t get is raging about it. It doesn’t sound like they flew off the handle at you or anything.

      1. Double A*

        I agree with this. If the original email said, “Can you look into what happened,” that seems like an invitation to say, “I looked into it and it looks like you forgot to CC us on the communication! Whoops, I know you guys are learning a new process, so going forward just be sure to do that! I’ve taken care of this open ticket. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’ve looped in my manager because it seems like we might need to revisit protocols in light of the new systems blah blah blah.”

        Why assume they are blaming you when they literally asked you to help them troubleshoot? Maybe this person is known for being super passive aggressive and snarky, but responding by assuming good will is the best for everybody? You can either respond in kind, or you can respond how you would like someone else to respond if you made a stupid (or even lazy) mistake.

      2. Amber Rose*

        Because this keeps happening, and our department gets the blame and the fallout. It’s just that they yell at my boss instead of me and then I get to sit with her while she cries.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If I recall you have a bit of a pressure cooker going on there anyway, so this is just one more thing.

      I would have hit reply to all and say, “This is the first time we have received any mention of this problem. Please be sure to check the “to” field before hitting send. One of us will take care of this and get back to you.”

      Insist on logic. If you want to really get to these people, calmly and clearly insist on logic. Use as factual or bored tone of voice as you can muster if they speak to you in person. “I have not received that email, so I could not fix something that I did not know about.”

      Now I tend to think my workplace is much nicer than yours. But just this week a person came in and said, “Did you get x [which required a response]?” No. “Are you sure?” yes. And around we went. Finally I said, “I am pretty anal about answering people, I make sure that everyone gets some type of answer even if it is to say that I need a couple days.” My boss was sitting right there when I said that and she said, “Yep. She’s right. She IS anal about answering people.”

      It’s fine to insist on logic and insist that people behave in a logical manner.

      I’d hit stuff like this at old toxic job. In thinking about it, I realized that it bothered me MORE when I did not stand up for myself. Make sure you stand up for yourself. And this tool of insisting on logic was one of the tools I used to stand up for me. It’s not logical that you would answer an email you never received.

    6. Sleeplessinseattle*

      It sounds like there’s a pattern of rudeness to the back-office staff (not uncommon in the sales-focused businesses I’ve worked in.) That’s not great.

      However, to play devil’s advocate for the salesperson for a moment:

      I’m guessing that traditionally back-office duties like order entry have been pushed to the salespeople, without work being pushed in the opposite direction? I’m guessing you don’t take on work involving sales. That can lead to some resentment, especially if the salespeople seem to think that they are expected to learn a bit about back office processing, while the back office processing people are not expected to learn about sales. Without knowing what the salespeople have to do and how they spend their time, it’s not super fair to say that they shouldn’t be snippy about their increased responsibilities – especially if the increased work flows one-way.

      The problem with letting tickets sit for a month is that, almost by definition, part of the problem is that the asker will feel like you had a month to make yourself aware of the ticket. The problem is with the lack of awareness, and it can feel like they have to substitute their awareness of order statuses for your own, even though that’s ultimately your job. That will also make people snippy. (That said, I don’t condone rudeness as a response, and the response you laid out would have been much more appropriate.)

      I think two things would help you:

      Could you do a survey of what the salespeople see as the most time-consuming parts of the job? I don’t expect you to start entering orders again, but seeing what little quality-of-life process improvements you could make for the salespeople would help them feel like you are pitching in for them beyond your traditional duties. It would feel more equitable.

      Is there a way you could get an automated report when an order has sat for more than a week (or whatever is appropriate for your business?) That way you would be the first to know and resolve any delays, and not leave the door open to upset emails on delayed orders.

  34. Anonymous Hippo*

    Job Search Question

    I’ve been extremely lucky that I’m 13 years into my career and have never had to job search, except now I do, and I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. I’ve gone through all my material, and I’ve been applying to jobs as I find them (and tracking them in excel so I don’t resume bomb the same position/company), but I’m confused about how all this works.

    1. There seem to be so many jobs listed by recruiters, that don’t even give you the company name. What’s that about? Are they legit jobs and there is some reason the company would want to be discreet while hiring, or is this just a tactic by recruiters to get resume (obviously to place later, but still not a legit job)? How do you know if you want to work somewhere if you don’t even know who they are?

    2. Cover letters. So far I’ve applied for about a dozen different jobs, and only one had the option of uploading a cover letter. Is it safe to assume they don’t want one if they don’t ask, or should I append it to my resume? I know when I’m hiring I don’t really want one, but that’s me.

    3. Is it normal for there to only be a handful of jobs available? Or is this due more to covid? I’m job searching in a largish city, and yet there seem to only be a dozen or so positions even available. My sister told me stories of her job search where she was sending out 40 resumes to each 1 interview request, but there aren’t anywhere near that number of jobs available.

    4. Recruiters. How honest should you be with them, how honest are they with you? If a recruiter is looking at you for a particular job, how do you know if they actually put you in for the job? Should you apply for the job separately if you find it?

    Thanks for reading my inquisition…any insight would be appreciated.

    1. Moi*

      1. Likely fake. It would be an unusual scenario for a company to hide who they are when hiring.
      2. If they don’t specifically ask for a cover letter, include it as the first page of your resume.
      3. That really depends on the type of job you are looking for.
      4. You should be honest with recruiters. You are also welcome to apply via the company site. I don’t think that ” double applying” via recruiter and the company website is a problem.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        Oh, #1 is so depressing. Of the dozen jobs I’ve applied for 5 had companies listed, 6 only had the recruiters, and 1 is just listed as “[x] manufacturing”.

        3. Sort of mid-range finance…Accounting Manager, Controller, etc.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      1. I disagree that this is fake. They don’t want to give the company name so you don’t reach out to the company directly, causing them to miss out on commission. It sucks but I get it.

    3. Ali G*

      1. Is to keep you from going around the recruiter and straight to the company (no commission for them)
      2. I always include a cover letter. If there is not spot for it, just add it as a page after your resume
      3. Probably a lot of hiring freezes on right now, yes
      4. Recruiters make money by matching people with jobs. If they say you put you in I would believe them. If you go around them they don’t get commission and that’s pretty bad form.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        Is it weird to write a cover letter when you don’t know the company? I usually tie my cover letters into the company and their goals/mission etc, and how I can help with that, but if I don’t know the company, I’m just going off the job description, and my ability to do that job is pretty heavily indicated by my resume. Maybe I’m not being broadminded enough, but I’d be afraid a cover letter would just end up being a flowery rendition of my resume at that point.

        1. Ali G*

          The cover letter is an opportunity and you don’t need to have detailed knowledge of the company. Thigs cover letters do that resumes don’t:
          Give you an opportunity to explain why you want to work there.
          Give color and context to your accomplishments – tell the story of how you surpassed your goals or whatever
          Showcase, not just say, that you have “good written communication skills”
          Address anything that may be concerning without context – are you not local but have a relocation date? Things like that.
          I’ve said this before, but the HR person for the job I have now told me during my first phone interview that she knew I was going to be a strong candidate based on my cover letter.

          1. Anonymous Hippo*

            Thanks, I guess I’ve always focused on the first one (why I want to work there, and why they should want me, lol). I’ll work some more on crafting on that isn’t company specific.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          I have never had to write a cover letter when working with an outside recruiter, as is usually what’s going on when the name of the company isn’t disclosed.

          It’s a hiring manager, not an outside recruiter, who can really be convinced that you are the person they should meet if your cover letter is well written and presents why you could be a great fit. Outside recruiters are trying to maximize their chances for a commission, so in my experience that has meant looking for as many candidates as possible who meet the stated requirements of the position to present to the client.

          This varies by industry, but in mine, agencies typically are not turning to outside recruiters unless they’ve had trouble filling the slot using internal referrals and/or the internal recruiters. So the outside recruiter has to try really hard to get candidates that the agency doesn’t already know about. That in my experience means quantity, and the recruiter isn’t influenced by a great cover letter. If two candidates write to the recruiter and one sends a great cover letter and one sends only a resume but both have the qualifications on paper, the recruiter is going to send both of those people forward to the client and hope that one of them works out.

    4. irene adler*

      If you apply for the job – in addition to- applying via the recruiter, you might cause some upset.

      The recruiter may not get their commission-which would not make them very happy.

      The client company may not like receiving duplicate resumes. It wastes their time. So they may express their unhappiness to the recruiter. That too, will make the recruiter unhappy.

      All this might cause the recruiter to be very wary of presenting your resume to any future clients.
      YMMV depending upon how valued your skill set is.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        That’s sort of what I was figuring on the recruiting. For the most part the ones with recruiters don’t specify the name of the company, so couldn’t even if I wanted to.

        1. irene adler*

          If you can match a portion of the text of the job ad, you might be surprised at where else you’ll see the job posting.

          1. Goatgirl*

            Yes. When I see a job posted by a recruiter, chances are that I have already seen the direct posting or will find it if I do some keyword searching. As a result, I haven’t applied with any jobs posted by a recruiter. I just apply directly.

  35. Coworker baby shower ideas*

    My coworker and his wife are having their first baby in 2 to 3 months. We received word that our office will be closed the rest of the year.

    For those of you who normally do some sort of office party to celebrate weddings, babies, retirements, etc is there anything you are doing while working from home?

    Other than letting colleagues know that the soon to be parents have a registry if they want to contribute, is there anything we can do?

    In general our team has decent parties. Participation is entirely optional and no pressure . Some team members like to decorate so there are usually decorations, cake, other food, gifts, cash/ gift card. So it kinda sucks not to be doing that for coworker since this is his first time being a parent.


    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Zoom Baby Shower? One of my coworkers had her baby shower over zoom with friends/family and it sounded like she had a blast. You can make it short (20-30 mins), tell everyone to bring their preferred beverage, but give everyone a chance to congratulate your coworker, and it gives them a sense that you made an appropriate effort.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And send the coworker a gift card and/or presents that he can unwrap on camera.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yup, we did a zoom baby shower for a coworker who is pregnant. It was fun, we even played a few work appropriate baby shower games and went around the group and gave a piece of advice since she is a first time mom. We also gathered $$ to get her a group gift card and card that we showed her on camera and then sent over to her :)

  36. Frankie Furlough*

    I’m trying to figure out if this is the norm for furloughs, or if my employer is mishandling it. My company is taking health insurance one month at a time, so every month I am panicking that they will stop paying the employer part of the premium. If you ask them a few days before the end of the month, oftentimes they still don’t know if they’re going to pay the following month. It’s really irritating because I have to write out a check for my share, but I don’t know if by the time my check reaches the headquarters, the benefits will be cut! Anybody else work for a company that is taking a “by the seat of our pants” approach rather than pledging to keep benefits active through at least a certain month? I don’t know how typical my company is, but it is very frustrating.

    I also have no idea when the furlough will end. I am understanding that this pandemic is unpredictable, so it’s hard to give us a specific date. But I’d at least appreciate if they said “our target is for you to come back in mid-August,” so I’d know that it’d be unlikely that I’d be called in before that point. If they have to push things back that is completely okay, but not even giving me an estimate makes me feel like we’re being kept in the dark. (My state removed non-essential business restrictions, so it’s not a matter of waiting for the state to move forward). Are they thinking we’ll return days from now? Weeks? Months? No one can get any answers.

    I have no PTO left because of the furlough so I need to squeeze in everything now! (It’s almost impossible to make medical appointments because a). I don’t know if/when my insurance will end and b). I don’t know if the appointment I’m scheduling out for will interfere with my work schedule. For services that require follow-up visits/consistency with the same provider, I don’t know whether to pick a provider in-network with my insurance or to choose a provider with the most affordable self-pay rate.

    I appreciate that this is a challenging time for my company’s leadership as well, but it almost seems like they are completely brushing their furloughed employees’ concerns aside.

    1. Remote HealthWorker*

      One thing that may help your stress – you are most likely laying a month in advance. So when you pay your premium in July it’s actually for August. So make your appointments! You can always cancel if you need too but get them on the schedule and use your benefit.

    2. Ronda*

      if they do stop paying for health insurance, they will then send you the COBRA info and you have 60 or 90 days to sign up (I dont remember exactly but the info will say)…. so you can stay on the same insurance for a time and pay the full premium if it makes sense for your current treatment plans.

      They do seem to take about 30 days to send the COBRA info… so that is always a little delay too.

  37. Free Meerkats*

    Interviewing in the Time of Covid.

    We’re hiring a new person into my group (municipal agency.) The initial interview panels were all done remotely and the approved hiring interview list should be approved by the Civil Service Board shortly. So I’ll be doing the hiring interviews.

    People in my area of work either leave within a year or two or stay to retirement – I’ve had my job here since 1991. So fit is very important; that means I want to meet the applicants in person. We have a conference room where there’s plenty of room to spread out adequately (hiring interviews typically have 3 interviewers, an HR person, and the applicant. Then the manager (me) gives a quick tour of the plant and workspace.)

    All the applicants are local except one, they will have to travel from central California to north of Seattle and I don’t want to disadvantage them. Note that unreimbursed travel to interview is normal in government jobs – I traveled up here from the SF Bay Area, our most recent hire traveled from Tucson.


    1. LDN Layabout*

      What do you want to do in person that you can’t do with a virtual interview? Is it the small talk to see if they fit? Do you have a weird work set up they wouldn’t have seen before?

      Asking anyone to come in unless it’s necessary is cruel.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Completely agree. I would not want to work at a place that was so cavalier about my health (don’t take that personally — that’s how I would take it, as I’d have to fly, stay in a hotel etc). You don’t know if they are in a high risk group or living with someone in a high risk group, and it is not appropriate to ask (unless it makes a genuine diff to doing the work)

        We hired several people recently, everything virtual. So far, the fit seems good. Maybe it will not be, but tbh there isn’t anything we could have done in person that would have helped us know about fit for sure.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Even if you’re local, unless there’s a compelling reason to have it be in person (and compelling doesn’t mean ‘I want to meet them face to face’), it’s unfair on the candidates.

    2. Sunset Maple*

      This needs to be a Skype or Zoom call. It’s just not reasonable to ask someone to travel now.

    3. it happens*

      Agreed with above. If the plant tour and the questions the prospect ask during that is important to the process (and I could see how it would be important for both sides,) then could you do the zoom/Skype panel interview and then a separate zoom/Skype walk through using your phone and earbuds?

      That way the prospect can see the plant, hear your spiel and stop as needed to answer specific questions, and/or interact with anyone else they would need to. And I would be consistent for all prospects, not just the traveler, as a sign of respect for their health and the fairness of the process.

    4. Observer*

      I agree with the others. To be honest, under the circumstances, an in person visit is not going to be as useful as you expect it to be anyway. Things are just too different from what they were and no one has settled into a new normal. We’re going back into our offices and things are VERY different. None of the traffic, much less direct interaction, and far fewer people in the office, because a lot of people are rotating their schedules so we stay at 50% or less.

      Someone coming is not going to experience our normal set up, nor are they really experiencing the way things are currently working. So what’s the point?

    5. Free Meerkats*

      OK, I accept that the hiring interviews will need to be online.

      The other viewpoints is why I posted here. Thanks all.

  38. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

    Tell me if this would make me look insane.

    I work in a field that’s a component of many large companies, and is becoming very important to their culture, but is not directly tied to any particular business line (think…diversity & inclusion, etc.)

    I’m not currently job hunting, but there are a few companies whose work in my field I’m particularly interested in learning more about, just because I’m a curious person, and long-term, it’d be cool to work there.

    There’s one company, a larger startup-like company that’s got a popular reputation, that I don’t think does anything currently in this area, at least not with a designated staff. I’m really curious to learn more about their goals and plans for this area.

    Would it be insane for me to email or LinkedIn message someone from this company, just to learn more? I’d clarify that I’m not doing this in hopes of selling some product or getting a job – I’m in the field, interested in their work generally and curious.

    For clarity, I don’t live in this company’s HQ city, I have no formal connections. I really would like to learn more about their work, but I don’t want to seem like a crazy person, haha! Any advice?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t know if this helps.
      I was interested in seeing a certain company come to our area. I found contacts on their website and emailed the contact about coming to x area, NY. They answered with general info and also said they would not be coming here.
      About five years later they came here.

      But they were professionally conversational. I did get a nice email back. And at no point did it seem like I was job hunting or they thought i was job hunting. (I actually did not care if I got a job there or not. I thought their biz would benefit the area.)

      Maybe it would feel less like “job fishing” if you avoided using LI and just sent a regular email.

  39. Taura*

    I’ve been (slowly) job searching for a while now, and it JUST hit me – aside from my current manager, I don’t think anyone will be able to actually contact my previous managers at all, and they may not even be able to confirm my employment. I’ve been at my current job for 4 years. Prior to that I worked at Sears, which is 100% closed in my town and my manager from there is likely still working, but who knows where. Before THAT I worked at a local arcade that changes ownership every couple of years. They might still have employee records from 6 years ago, but I doubt it. Do you think not being able to get hold of any of my previous managers will count against me once something gets to the reference/checking stage?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I doubt it. That kind of stuff is pretty common, especially in retail. Do you have any documents that could prove your time there, just in case? W2s would probably be best, but also a paystub, schedule, bank direct deposit, emails, anything like that?

      1. Taura*

        I probably have W2s in my tax stuff from those years. Otherwise I can almost certainly hunt down the direct deposit entries. It just wasn’t something I’d thought of until literally this week, so I’m glad to hear it probably won’t be an issue!

    2. emmelemm*

      Literally all the companies I’ve previously worked for no longer exist. I’m just going to have to rely on W-2s when I start to job search again.

      References are a bigger problem…

  40. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    One challenge I’m having at work is that while my manager is FANTASTIC (seriously, she is supportive, gives us a lot of autonomy, is a great resource, and really goes to bat for our team), when she is out of the office, others try to “go around her” and put other projects on my plate (or on the plates of other members of my team). I know that some of the other teams are swamped and I’m happy to help out, but I also don’t want to take on work that my manager doesn’t know I’m doing or end up over-extended myself.

    Currently my MO has been to just respond to the person asking for the project and say, “I’d love to help, I just need to check with Manager when she’s back to make sure she wants me spending my time that way” which works most of the time, but when she’s on vacation, it creates a delay (especially if some of the tasks they’re trying to offload on our team are time-sensitive.

    Looking to the next several weeks, I’m picturing this happening more and more because with the pandemic, we did a round of layoffs (which means there’s less coworkers to divide the work up) and my manager volunteered to go part-time, so she could give her kids more attention and also to help the company’s payroll situation.

    Is there a better way to handle these requests from my coworkers on other teams? I intend to bring up this pattern with her on my next one-on-one to see what she says, but just looking for additional perspectives.

    1. Taura*

      Is there someone else you can take these to? Another manager, a coworker that has more experience handling these requests, etc? Or, is there a form that they SHOULD be but AREN’T using to request help on their projects? I’m basing this off my own office experience, so it may not apply to you. In my case, all projects must be assigned to me by my manager (because this proves that she’s seen it, that it’s approved, that it’s not asking for something we can’t give) and so people coming up to me to ask if I can help with something are met with “we can do that, and as soon as you clear it with [manager] or send me the completed request form I will add it to my list”. Is that at all possible for you?

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This happened a lot at my old job where some departments would have favorites on my team to help them with their projects – so, they’d email that request to the particular person they wanted to have assigned to the work. To avoid workload imbalances, we had a standard response that was along the lines of, “all requests have to go through [our boss’s name] first, so she can manage the team workflow – do you mind sending this directly to her? one of us would love to help you out after that!”

      But I think for vacations and other long-term absences, your boss may need to appoint some kind of deputy to be in charge of delegating these requests.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I’ve dealt with this in my current position. If I have the time to do the work, I do it and just let my boss know when he’s back in the office or when we have our weekly one on one; but if I don’t have the time, I respond to the person’s email, copy my boss, and explain that due to my team’s workflow system, they need to make these requests through him. They circle back around to my manager, my manager checks with me to determine when I’ll have an opening, and then he relays that info back to the requester. It works well for me.

    4. Choggy*

      Just because they are time-sensitive does not make it your problem to handle. Shame on them for waiting (for your boss to be out perhaps?) before dumping it in your lap. People will get away with what they can get away with! Nip it in the bud, don’t wait for your next one-on-one but bring it up with your manager now. She may have a different perspective on this than you and how to resolve it. There may not be a full resolution, but there should be a process that needs to be followed, regardless. Good luck!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would bring this up with her now. Call her perhaps? Or send her an email saying you would like a moment to discuss this.

      The solution could be as simple as she talks to their boss and their boss tells them to stop calling you, period. That’s what happened to me the time I did this.

    6. Quinalla*

      Yeah, don’t wait for your 1 on 1 (unless it is in the next day or two) just email or call, explain this is a common occurrence and how should you handle it? There is no one way this gets done, even in the same company, so just need to know how it works for your manager.

  41. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Been working from home as a federal government contractor and my coworker just sent out “jwewds” to the Teams Chat of about 800 people, including higher ups.

    Stupid cats on keyboards! I sent a message saying “disregard, cat on keyboard as I was on a call,” but should I apologize?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I think the ‘cat on keyboard’ bit is explanation and apology is one neat sentence.

      I can’t keep our 12kg cat off my keyboards either.

      1. Mazzy*

        Yup, I recently wrote “sex” instead of “set” in an email and just followed up “you know what I meant.” I don’t think anyone believes we’re doing these things on purpose for attention!

    2. ampersand*

      I don’t think there’s a need for an apology–I’m sure it made at least a few people laugh, and anyone who has ever met a cat will understand!

    3. Delta Delta*

      Everyone knows people are working at home and along with that comes cats on keyboards. I’d expect you’ll get requests for photos of the cat because cats.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Too true! Skyped a human coworker who also speaks German just to chat at lunch, and tried to live cat. He said, “no, it’s okay, let’s see him!”

    4. Buni*

      I received an email from a client at the beginning of lockdown that I presume was meant to say “As your office is shut at the moment…”

      It did not say ‘shut’. In fairness, those letters are right next to each other…

      1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        Back in the toxic office, “shift trade” requests would not-infrequently go out without the “f.” It felt a bit less than accidental…

  42. DoctorateStrange*

    Ever since the library I work still insists on remaining open despite the pandemic (terrible, terrible administration), it’s been harder to just let unpleasant patrons roll off my back. A few days ago, I had a particular lady that really raised her voice at me when I couldn’t find the driver’s license she lost a month ago at our lost and found.

    I wanted to yell back at her that we’re all working here, risking our own lives, to ungrateful people like her, but I bit my tongue. Thankfully, two supervisors and the security guard stepped in and handled it. After she left, they made it clear that I was not at fault and that she was just a problematic person.

    Still, it hurts. I have zero respect for administration and I feel so disgusted by everything. The death rates where I live keep getting worse. And masks are supposed to be mandatory when coming inside, but admin has told us we cannot bar entry if patrons refuse. It’s harder each day to get up in the morning.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        Thanks. Honestly, hearing this makes me feel better. I’m hoping this period will end sometime soon. I’m job hunting at the moment and I am getting my MLS next year so fingers crossed.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I wish I had an answer, but I would suggest- look into self care. What can you do for you, right now? Away from your work? Because when work is a high stressor, you need to find ways to get space in your own head. I used to work 30 hours a week on a public service desk and my method of keeping sane involved having really fun hobbies that had nothing to do with my work.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        Thank you so much for the advice. I think getting back to journaling is going to help a lot. As is going back to writing and art.

    2. librarianincrisis*

      I’m in a similar boat. The “cannot bar entry” thing is happening here too and it’s the most terrifying part. You feel like you’re not given the ground to stand on to protect yourself.

      I don’t have an answer, just know I feel for you and that you’re not alone.

    3. D. B.*

      Would you get in trouble if you refused to stand near a maskless person? Just keep backing away.

    4. Quinalla*

      So sorry :( I specifically emailed my local library to thank them for keeping their staff and patrons safe by only being open for contactless book reservation pickups and drop off. The briefly opened for some minimal stuff (letting folks reserve and use computers, etc.) but are back to just pickup/drop off since things have gotten worse in my county. I got a nice email back saying they would pass it along to admin, I figured it was the least I could do to help to support them keeping staff safe.

  43. Zephy*

    I work in higher-ed financial aid, and lately my office has gotten a handful of nearly-identical letters from students asking to appeal their financial aid package due to COVID impacting their household incomes and/or asking for a CARES Act grant. I did a bit of research and found that all of the students were using a website that purports to help students craft these appeal letters – it looks like their general business model is “give us all your personal information and $150, and we’ll send you a form letter personalized letter crafted just for you and your unique and special situation to show to your FA office.”

    This feels incredibly scammy to me. I looked around and found a number of websites providing this kind of service besides the one my students used; I don’t know if they’ve all popped up in the last few months or if they’ve always been there and they’re just getting more publicity now, given the state of reality as it stands. True, there are students whose current financial reality doesn’t match what they put on their FAFSA (a side effect of using 2-year-old tax information and also being in the middle of a global economic crisis), but like…you can just tell me that, and we have options we can explore there. You don’t need to go to some slick website to buy a (badly written!) appeal letter for $150. Heck, if your situation does call for some kind of letter or statement, I’ll help you write it to the extent I’m allowed to do that. For free, even.

    I know we have a handful of higher-ed people here – if you’re also in FA, have you gotten anything like this from your students? Does your school actually have a financial aid appeals process? I ask because mine doesn’t – there aren’t any secret scholarships or discounts that you get by saying the magic word, the financial aid package I show you is what you get. Maybe it’s different at public universities?

    1. Alice*

      This kind of business is disgusting. It’s preying on students who lack background knowledge. The ethical response when you notice some feature of the “hidden curriculum” (including “they can sometimes find more financial aid if you ask for it and explain why,” which incidentally I think is true) is to explain it to people who don’t know it, or sometimes to try and change the system so that the not-widely-known info no longer confers an advantage. The ethical response is never “charge people to do something they can do themselves” or “charge people to do something someone else will help them do for free” let alone “charge people to do a half-assed job of something they can do better themselves.”
      Since you’re seeing this in your school’s population, can you proactively reach out to students and tell them
      – contact us to explore options
      – don’t pay for a ghostwritten letter

      1. Me*

        I agree that an email from the Financial Aid Office to all students is the best way to handle this.

        1. Chai town*

          Not just to students, but to faculty and staff as well! As an admin assistant in an academic department I had a lot of students come to me for assistance navigating the university labyrinth. I can’t help if I don’t know this scam is out there! Same with faculty.

      2. Zephy*

        I think a mass email would probably be a good idea, before any other students get scammed out of any more money. I think I’ll talk to my boss on Monday about it, maybe even write up a draft for her.

        I remember seeing advice to try to negotiate or appeal my financial aid package when I was in undergrad myself, but now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I don’t know why that advice is so pervasive – there can’t possibly be that many schools with secret piles of money they’ll distribute to students who say the magic words.

        1. Unladen European Swallow*

          I really don’t think there are many schools that have funding available to give out based on appeals. Or rather, the number of schools with those types of resources are the usual suspects in the very elite, private, huge endowment group, i.e. not the vast vast majority of institutions.

          I also agree that a proactive email to all incoming students would go a long way. If there are any resources or steps students can take to lessen their immediate costs (choosing cheaper housing options, requesting a deferral for a semester/year, choosing part-time instead of full-time study rate, etc.) that might be helpful.

          Also, I hate to say it, but if a family thinks they can’t make their EFC portion, is it too late to adjust the amount of Parent PLUS loan they might take out? My opinion is that Parent PLUS loans are a bad idea for just about everyone in most circumstances, but if you want to be transparent about ALL available options, that might be something to consider.

          P.S. I have not heard about this kind of service either and it totally totally enrages me.

    2. ampersand*

      Former public university FA person here: Our financial aid packages were final, too, and we *always* had people try to negotiate. I know that can work at smaller colleges and private universities, which is why students/parents tried it–and it really wasn’t so much an appeal as it was them trying to flat-out negotiate. Points for trying, but no.

      It’s super unfortunate if students are PAYING MONEY for this, because, as you said, it won’t change their package. We had an appeals process for financial hardship caused by things like unemployment, bankruptcy, and health issues (which ultimately could affect the family’s ability to pay), and now COVID would fall into that category where I worked, as it’s potentially both a health- and money-related issue. We were very upfront that, at best, we could offer more in loans or maybe more Pell. But that was it–there was no secret scholarship account/money to be had.

      If it were me and I were seeing this, I would suggest putting information on our website alerting people about the scam (there were times we did that, because financial aid scams are plentiful and students don’t always know how to spot them).

    3. Miki*

      Since it’s a recurring issue, the university should proactively communicate about what the options are for students impacted by covid, as well as what options aren’t available. Eg, we can’t change your financial aid package, but we can do this, this and this. Contact x person with y information.

      It’s probably also worth mentioning the scam letters – you know they are targeting your students, so give them a aheads up. I’d treat it the same as giving students advice on finding housing and not getting scammed, or alerting them to a new phishing email proliferating at your school.

  44. Cendol*

    Just an update for my question last week when I was fretting about how to tell my colleagues about my upcoming elopement. Our happy hour was poorly attended, so I ended up waiting until another meeting to mention it, by which point the deed was done. I was sweating bullets, lol, but I was able to give my news in one sentence and change the subject. No one said anything iffy, and we’ve all just moved on. Phew! Thank you all very much for your advice.

  45. Eleanor*

    I had a question about the perception of “job hopping” (a question earlier this week had me a little worried.) I finished grad school a few years ago, and started my first non-academic job soon after. I was in that job for just under 2 years, and recently started a new job. I left the previous job for a lot of reasons, but a big one was the toxic environment. My current role is already a lot better, but I doubt I’ll be here for more than 2 years (just based on my bigger life goals and where I want to live long-term, I don’t think I’ll be in this city 2 years from now).

    So when I apply to jobs next, I’ll have 2 non-grad school jobs, both of which I would have only been at for a year and a half or so. Is this something I should be concerned about? Does it look flaky? Or is it more of a problem if the pattern is more long-term?

    1. Me*

      It’s definitely an art over an exact science. I wouldn’t be concerned by two short term stints in a recently graduated individual. Three might start to raise my eyebrows. There’s some finesse to it as well. Are you taking on promotional opportunities or just changing workplaces?

      That said perhaps your next job it would be beneficial to look for someplace you do envision being at longer term and perhaps there’s potential for promotion at.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I tend to agree. Two is a coincidence. Three is a pattern.
        For your next job, I’d really try to focus on finding somewhere you play to stay 3-5 years. However, this is all super industry dependent. Do you have a mentor or trusted colleague you could ask about this?

        1. Eleanor*

          Unfortunately not… the downside of not staying in academia after grad school is all your mentors are still in academia. They’re wonderful, but really have zero sense about non-academic work.

      2. Eleanor*

        It was a change in workplace… not sure if this is relevant but the first job was at a university and my current role is in a non-profit, but in somewhat similar areas (evaluation, research, and analysis).

    2. Taura*

      It might be an issue, only because at that point you’ll have 2 short stays and nothing else on your resume. But it’s not something you can’t work around, and it’s probably something you can leave on the back burner until it turns out you ARE leaving this job after only 2 years. (I know you don’t want to stay longer, but you never know how things will look in the future)

    3. Littorally*

      What is the relationship between the two jobs? If they’re in the same field and could plausibly be a career progression of any sort, that really decreases the perception of job-hopping. If they’re at the same level, that’s a bit more of a risk. But I also concur with the other commenters that twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. Make sure your next move is somewhere you can see yourself staying for a while.

      1. Eleanor*

        It’s more of a side step… similar work in different fields (I was at a university and am now in a non-profit.)

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Did you work prior to grad school? If you did, as long as you stayed somewhere longer than two years, I don’t think you’ll have a problem. If you didn’t, you still have school on your resume, which helps you – many people understand that new grads take a minute to find their footing after graduating. I think you’ll be okay.

      1. Eleanor*

        No, I was in school the whole way through! But that is reassuring… part of leaving my previous job was also, as you said, “finding my footing” (along with the toxic environment).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Why not take a preemptive strike at it when you go to write your next cover letter. Offer one or two sentences about your personal long term goal to move to New City. If you can offer a solid reason (long term goal to live in New City) why you won’t jump from the new job, it can be less relevant why you had two short stints.

  46. Working Mom*

    A piece of good news:
    My husband was laid off due to COVID, and after a couple weeks of job hunting, we decided to pull our child from daycare. It just didn’t make sense to continue paying for childcare without his paycheck. It was a difficult decision because we love our daycare, and caring for a toddler full time will limit job hunting to nap time and evenings.

    This was our first week out of daycare, and the director called yesterday to check in on us, and say that they missed our daughter. She continues “If Husband has an interview or a phone call or anything, let us know. Drop Jane off for an hour or two, no charge. Whatever we can do to help.” I got off the phone and cried. Thank you, compassionate daycare directors of the world! Hoping we can take her up on that offer soon!

    1. merp*

      Oh, this is wonderful. It’s nice to remember that there are so many good people out there!

    2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      This is so lovely! Best of luck to your husband in his job search!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The world needs more of this.
      I hope the calls and interview roll right in for your hubby.

    4. allathian*

      That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Here’s hoping your husband gets a new job soon.

  47. OP1 with the "contagious" staff*

    Thank you to everyone for your very helpful comments and observations in response to my post about my staff complaining that I made them “feel contagious” earlier this week!

    Several of you correctly identified a key part of the problem (that I hadn’t fully realized about this situation specifically!) is that there is a ringleader amongst the staff. As I read the comments and thought about our situation I realized just how problematic her behaviors and attitude are (not just about the COVID related changes) and we’re taking appropriate steps to address that. While researching and preparing for this next step I searched the AAM archives and I came across this one post where Alison’s response and advice was simply outstanding and I wanted to re-share it in case it helps anyone else because it’s older (2016) and I must have missed it the first time around (or maybe I wasn’t ready for it?)! IT’S SO GOOD:

    If anyone has any additional tips or strategies about dealing with bullies (especially employees), I’d be grateful if you shared them! Enough is enough – I’m over it!


    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I am So glad to hear from you! I’ve been sincerely hoping your situation would have a resolution and hopefully you’ll have less stress!

      (Also hope you get rid of virus-denying plague pits like her, or her attitude at least!)

      Keeping my fingers crossed for you :)

      1. OP1 with the "contagious" staff*

        Oh, Keymaster, your comments were SO HELPFUL! It’s intimidating to move forward with address the concerns – it would be so much easier if it was something like not turning in her work on time instead of behaviors/conduct! There were so many encouraging comments in the thread in support of my standing firm and it was legitimately comforting and empowering! I feel ready for taking this big step in addressing the situation. While intimidating (her reaction, how it will impact the rest of the staff and our customers, etc.), it’s already a huge relief to have clearly identified a big problem and to have a plan for addressing it.

        from Alison’s post that I linked to: “You have to actively work to free yourself and your organization from that trap.” Today is DAY ONE of breaking down that trap!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          One thing I do, when I felt my confidence was waning as a manager, was I would walk round my house flourishing a sword (was imaginary, now I have several real ones) and striking badass poses like a real warrior woman. Then I’d feel I could handle the difficult stuff later by remembering how that felt.

          (Don’t take the sword INTO work of course. Unless it’s a lightsaber and you work with geeks. Trust me :p )

        2. tangerineRose*

          Good for you! At least some of her co-workers (if there are any sane ones) will be grateful you’re dealing with this.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just a general tidbit that helped me in many situations: I had to get used to hearing my own voice say NO and all the various forms of NO that there are. I practiced in front of the mirror or in the car on the way to work.

      No. We won’t be doing that.
      No. That is not an option.
      No. We must use the new method instead.
      No. We do not call people names here.

      Having control over our tone of voice is a very helpful resource. Part of that control is having some idea of what we want to say. The other part is deciding on the delivery. Will you project your voice over hers or will you aim for a consistent level of volume throughout?
      For myself, I decided I would not talk over (louder) than others. (Many reasons.) But there may be instances where a person does need to actually increase their volume. But for the most part I decided to go with, “Excuse me, I was not finished speaking.” Because I never talk this way in day-to-day life, this in some ways is as bad as if I had cussed… maybe even worse. If you start to pull out sentences like this that you do not ordinarily say, it can telegraph that this is the end of this nonsense.

    3. Quinalla*

      Excellent, this is great to hear! Your other employees will be so happy/relieved to have the troublemaker gone – this has been the case anytime a problem employee gets fired or leaves. Not to say a problem employee can’t turn it around, but it is rare.

  48. Gravelord Nito*

    I got some job seeking advice that my gut tells me isn’t great but I wanted a second opinion. For background, I’m a grad student looking to get their first job in the biomedical industry in another state.

    The advice I got was to find a friend who lives in that state and use their address on my resume and correspondence to make it look like I’m local. That’s fraud, right? I make a note of my willingness to relocate in the address part of my resume and within the cover letter, which I’m hoping will suffice.

    I haven’t had much luck applying unfortunately, so if anyone has advice or discussion on applying for jobs out of state or the biomedical sector in general I’d be very grateful. Thanks AAM community!

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Nope, don’t do that. Your gut is right and your approach should be OK. Alison has done a letter about this sometime, if you want to use the toolbar to search the site for something like “resume address”

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        I will link 4 columns from Alison in the comment below this, making this comment separate because they’ll go to moderation first

          1. Gravelord Nito*

            Thank you for going to the effort to find these. I read them all, it seems like there are better options than using someone else’s address.

      2. Gravelord Nito*

        I think I found it, thanks! Interestingly, a lot of people in the comments made a case for borrowing addresses, so I suppose the person who gave me that advice isn’t totally off base? Others suggested taking the address off of the resume altogether (in 2014), but since now you have to put it into the online form, that might be null and void.

        I think I’ll stick with my approach though. Thanks again.

    2. Time_TravelR*

      I applied for a job from out of state and was just clear in my cover letter than I am relocating to the area….

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s not fraud in the legal sense, and I’ve heard advice (from AAM I think) that it’s not a BAD choice to make, if done with care. I think generally the question is, if they call you up and want you in for an interview on a day or two notice, could you make it?

      I’m about two hours from Chicago, in Indiana. If I were job-hunting in Chicago, I might be willing to put down my friend’s address there because I can get there for an interview tomorrow, no problem. My folks in Michigan are three hours away – if I were job hunting in my hometown where they live, again, sure. But I wouldn’t put the address of a local friend if I was job hunting in, say, Washington state, because getting there would be more than a same-day kinda plan and they might reasonably question that.

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      Do you need your address on your resume at all? I just have my name, email and phone number.

    5. Ali G*

      I wouldn’t call it fraud, but it’s not a good idea. How far away are you? If you do that and they want to interview you, they are going to assume you are local. They won’t offer to help with travel costs, and they will probably get irritated if it’s hard to schedule because you need an 8-hour window for a 2-hour interview due to travel, etc. Also, relocation: if they think you are local they won’t be considering relocation assistance for you.
      Anyway, bad idea all around.

    6. Remote HealthWorker*

      The way I handle it is to put “Relocating to address in August” and then include the city/state of my job so it is clear that I am out of State.

    7. outofcoffee*

      Don’t do that. I am also in the biomedical sector and it was tough to move states. For my next job search I’m removing my address altogether which is becoming more and more common.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I mean, it’s not technically fraud, since you aren’t scamming them out of money or anything.

      But it is dishonest. And not necessary, because you can just say you’re relocating. Don’t do it.

    9. Sigh*

      I did something similar – my fiance had a condo where I wanted to move and I was going to move in with him eventually, so I just used his address to find a job. However, I did move up there like a month later.

  49. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Currently trying to find a job in the UK. I’m finding it very difficult to explain to recruiters and the like that because of the medications I take for my disabilities (and the disabilities themselves) I simply cannot

    A) work past 5pm
    B) commute more than 10 miles
    C) put myself at higher risk of getting Covid

    So, today, an agency that helped me get good posts in the past has just said that unless I hide that I’m high risk I’m unlikely to get called for interview, because firms don’t want the additional stress right now. They’ve suggested instead that I work on ways of reducing my own stress and fears about Covid.

    So. Do I present an image of a totally healthy non-stressed, non-worried about Covid person? I can act a role pretty convincingly (past history of doing standup comedy) so the only stumbling block would be the higher risk indicators I can’t hide (walking aids, obesity etc.).

    1. Granger*

      What the heck? It’s not a fear of spiders! It’s a fear of a PANDEMIC CAUSING VIRUS. So, throw out logic and adopt magical thinking and then you’ll be hired? With the world upside-down it’s probably a necessary evil to play the part, but it’s ridiculous. I’m glad you’re not in the U.S.! Good luck!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Ha! The UK’s response to this hasn’t been exactly good either (it’s not until 24th July that masks become mandatory for shoppers) so I can kind of understand that employers probably don’t want to put themselves at risk of potentially killing a new member of staff.

        You make an excellent point. I am arachnophobic, severely (can’t say or type the S word, let alone look at pictures) and I’ve just realised I’m actually more scared of a virus than I am of a particular eight legged thing being in the office.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          You have my empathy. I once worked in an office that had a drop ceiling and about 2 months into my time there, baby spiders started hatching and ballooning down from the ceiling, a handful a day. I did not stay much longer.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            One coworker years ago thought it would be funny to change my desktop wallpaper to a closeup image of a particularly big hairy one of those. That’s how I found out extreme fear is another of my epilepsy triggers.

            1. Friday afternoon fever*

              Oh, jeez…. I hope they were incredibly apologetic, that’s such an awful thing for them to do

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                I’ll just say that I was told off for peeing all over my chair/floor (grand mal seizure) and he was told to not prank me again. Badly run firm, I only lasted 10 months there and quit.

                1. Anon4this*

                  I made a distant friend a few years ago who gleefully snickered on Facebook that they’d discovered their coworker’s phobia of spiders and had bought a life-size resin tarantula to stick on their chair. The cruelty of it made me want to throw up. I unfriended them and never spoke to them again.

                2. allathian*

                  Oh my, glad you’re out of there. Good luck with your job search!
                  Is WFH full time an option in your line of work? If it is, I hope you find a remote job.

        2. KiwiApple*

          Some of the UK has been better than others…
          What kinds of roles are you looking for?

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            IT support (2nd or 3rd line, I can’t do 1st line) or IT management. Got skills in both.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      What does C) actually mean for what you need from a job or workplace? Can you reframe as “need to work remote / need an office observing social distancing protocols / need _____ specific accommodation or type of position”?

      I would not provide the context that it’s related to your health. Just say you’re only interested in or able to accept jobs where you don’t work past 5, that are located within 10 miles of ___, that meet the needs above. I haven’t worked with a recruiter before but don’t see why they would need to know the reason. It’s their job to find you a role that you accept, and/or to fill a role the company needs filled, that may or may not be a role you would accept. It’s a waste of their time to bother you with things that aren’t a good match.

      As far as hiding that you’re high risk, I don’t know what they mean by that. As far as working on ways of reducing your own stress and fears, did they mean that as a way of getting you to look at jobs that don’t meet A/B/C? If so, say that doesn’t work for you and restate you’re only able to consider jobs that meet A/B/C. Or did they mean that as a way of presenting as a stronger candidate in interviews? If so, they could be right and you could look at the way you’re presenting yourself, ask them for more details, do practice interviews with friends or family, et cetra

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I believe, based upon an email conversation I’ve been having, that they mean I shouldn’t ask for any accommodations at all, or show that I need them, otherwise they think I won’t get a job anywhere.

        Which, translates to ‘stop wanting to work from home, stop limiting yourself to a few mile radius, there’s no real risk and you need to calm down’. Which is basically what I’m after, although I’m happy to work in an office if they’re not too far away (I once did a 3 hour commute to/from London each day and it nearly killed me) and they’ve got really good antivirus measures, likewise I’ll go in for an interview if they wear masks/distance etc. I’m high risk but I do need a job.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          Oh, that’s stupid of them to say there’s no risk and you need to calm down. I know they’ve gotten you good placements in the past, but maybe they’re not the right recruiter right now. I hope that other recruiters aren’t saying this too. Or, next time they say you shouldn’t ask for accommodations you need, you could say ‘Sorry (you’re not sorry though), these are my needs.’

          I don’t know if your requests are typical in the UK but work remote during pandemic or work somewhere that is taking it seriously and has protocols to protect you? Work ends at 5? Those are not unreasonable. It can be a hard sell to ask if an in-person job posting can be remote, but are there not remote jobs posted as well?

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            My skill set is 2nd/3rd line support or IT management and I think a lot of recruiters assume that means you’re ok with shift work, as support can be 24/7. You’re right though, they’re a good firm in the past but I’ll start looking for another one in my area.

            (Not one that tries to match me with jobs in London. That’s nearly 100 miles away. Why do they keep doing this?!)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Think of buying a good used car. The salesperson might not be that invested in your happiness with that car. So what one of the speakers does not work on the stereo. So what the spare tire is MIA, and so on. They just want the commission from the sale.

              Basically, what your recruiter is saying is, “I can’t help you. I do not have any jobs like what you want.” Blaming you is all smoke and mirrors to cover the fact that they can’t help you.

            2. Sleeplessinseattle*

              Ah, I think your specific career is holding you back. Our (U.S. based) company went fully remote, except for the IT support staff. They had specialized phone setups that our company couldn’t replicate at peoples’ homes, so the IT support guys spread out across the rest of the office after we left.

              Even prior to COVID, I think they had a policy of not hiring support staff that wasn’t willing to do shift work hours. The thought was, if one employee is allowed to stop at 5 exclusively, every other support worker will feel slighted that they don’t have the same perk. So in the interest of keeping morale up on the rest of the staff, they wouldn’t make any special arrangements.

              I think the recruiters are giving you roles outside of 10 minutes away because the only jobs that meet those criteria are in a bigger metropolis like London.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Not meaning to sound defeated but, that’s all I’m really trained to do or have the required experience in. In 20+ years in this industry I’ve managed to never work shift.

                And only 1 job was in London (2 in Reading, rest in my home town which is on the M4). There’s not a lot else career wise I’m able to do.

    3. Esme*

      What field are you searching in? Because this doesn’t match what’s going on for almost everyone I know – most people are working at home, flexible hours are common, etc. And being unable to work past 5pm shouldn’t be a problem in most jobs that aren’t shift work or coverage based, it would be a super simple reasonable adjustment to ask for if you even needed to.

    4. eeniemeenie*

      A and B won’t be a big deal depending on your industry and the job itself. But I’m confused about the agency’s reaction to C. Do they think magical thinking will cause covid risks to shrink? If you can’t work at a place with higher likelihood of covid exposure, you can’t work at a place with higher likelihood of covid exposure. It sucks this limits your potential places of work because of the situation the world is in right now. But no, this isn’t just your own “stress and fears about covid.”

  50. Harriet*

    How do people deal with overly helpful colleagues who think they are the expert on a topic?
    Our English department is working on making our curriculum more anti-racist.
    One of our youngest members “Mary” has sent out multiple emails explaining how much she knows about “decolonizing” our curriculum and sharing resources (nothing very useful). Even our wonderful supervisor “Jane” has ignored these (usually she sends a reply-all “thank you for sharing” to Mary’s unsolicited advice).
    The tone of Mary’s emails is becoming more accusatory and she seems to be working herself into a frenzy.
    While no one denies that we need to further improve our curriculum, her reasoning for focusing on decolonization is disturbing. Her evidence is that she had surveyed the students for her master’s thesis and they have a negative view of Africa. Mary seems to think that our department (and the history department) are responsible for these negative stereotypes. It is admirable (but delusional) that she thinks that students are more affected by what they learn in class than by what they see in the media.

    Our current focus is on making our curriculum “anti-racist” while she is focused on students’ views of Africa. While the two concepts are interconnected, our priority is to give our students the tools they need to be better people and to challenge racism.

    On a side note, Mary’s inability to acknowledge that others have more expertise is impressive. One favorite moment was last year when we were considering a new elective focusing on Latin American literature. She immediately jumped in saying she could teach it because she took one course in the subject, ignoring the fact that we have a colleague who is from Brazil and fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish (who is teaching the new course).

    Do we continue to ignore her? Should we send neutral acknowledgements? Or is it time to push back and challenge her narcissism?

    1. Granger*

      As a colleague I’d ignore it, but as a manager I’d try to guide Mary toward some self-awareness!

    2. Colette*

      Ignoring her is pretty rude – but you don’t have to do what she wants. “Thanks, Mary, we are working on a plan” or “Thanks, Mary. We are not focusing on Africa specifically at this point but appreciate your suggestions.”

      1. Observer*

        It may be rude, but sometimes it’s still the best bet. Mary doesn’t seem to be accepting no for an answer.

    3. Littorally*

      Oh boy. Mary sounds like a handful.

      Ideally, this is something that Jane should deal with. But interpersonally, you can probably jump in there — things like when Mary offered to teach the elective on the strength of having a single course in the subject, you as a peer could probably say something like “Well, teaching the class will require more expertise than that. Good thing we have Daniel here.”

      Jane should be having the big-picture conversation with Mary about how her enthusiasm doesn’t seem to match up with her knowledge or align with the departmental goals that well. This approach of saying “thank you Mary” and otherwise ignoring her is not doing anyone any favors. With someone more socially aware, it would be a fine, face-saving approach, but it’s time for Jane to realize that isn’t working and escalate.

    4. Mazzy*

      I’d be curious in Alison’s opinion on this one.

      But one issue I’m seeing is that the scope of your project is way too general, and then your getting mad that someone interprets it a different way. Maybe you need more particular guidelines. For example, I’m seeing a trend where now they’re deleting context, where in the past, you’d keep the content or add content and explain it differently (think deleting Gone with the Wind, vs. keeping it and adding notes at key parts). So, do you want to delete things? Add things? Or shift the curriculum away from purely Anglo-Saxon literature from the 18th and 19th centuries? If you want a shift, what do you want to shift to? Then you have another problem, the potential pool of works may be huge. How are you going to limit them?

      I think you need to set better criteria. Your criteria is clearly too vague if Mary is interpreting it this way.

    5. Harriet*

      Thank you to everyone who commented. I appreciate your advice and insight.
      I think I will start to acknowledge Mary’s contributions and see if that calms the tone of her emails.
      Since I am a senior member of the department, I may also ask our supervisor if she has any suggestions for dealing with Mary’s behavior. I did not include the fact that Mary’s emails have led to a lot of private exchanges among our colleagues. Jane needs to know that this is becoming a department issue.
      For the sake of brevity, I did not go into the details of our plans but our mandate is fairly clear. Mary seems to be purposefully misinterpreting our goals in order to focus on her area of “expertise.”
      Stay well everyone.

      1. Observer*

        I have two thoughts. The first thing is that you need to leave her age out of this. She could be someone with much more tenure, and she’d still be in the wrong. And she’s not misbehaving because she’s young but because she’s arrogant, ignorant, self-centered, or something like that.

        The second thing is that if you do try to have any discussions with her, you might want to point out that she making 2 mistakes. One is that the negative view of Africa is probably not a result of colonization, but the reverse. The colonization of Africa has deeply racist roots. Which leads to the second error she’s making. It’s almost impossible to decolonize if you don’t root out the racism. And besides, which is more important – improving the students’ view of Africa or changing general negative attitudes and teaching students why and how to dismantle system of bigotry, discrimination and oppression. Leaving all of that in place and just getting people to see Africa as “different” is not terribly helpful, to say the least.

  51. Unsure of Llama Groomer Level*

    A few weeks ago, I applied for three jobs. I just heard back from one of the jobs saying they want to schedule an interview, and “thanking me for my interesting in the Lead Llama Groomer position”. The problem is I’m pretty sure I didn’t apply for the Lead Llama Groomer position, but just a regular or senior Llama Groomer position. I double checked the email I got when I first applied, and it just says “Your application for Llama Groomer has been received.” Does that mean I definitely only applied for Llama Groomer? Or maybe they send that for any level of Llama Groomer applications? Is there a way I can ask the recruiter without looking like an idiot? It’s not like I’m applying to hundreds of jobs – I only applied to three, but it was several weeks ago so now I can’t be sure!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I don’t think it can hurt to ask, just pose it as if you are trying to clarify the role. “I’d love to interview! I just want to double check — I had applied for Senior Llama Groomer – is that the same role as the Lead Llama Groomer you mentioned in your email?” It could be she used a form/template email for the interview request and forgot to update the job title.

      1. Unsure of Llama Groomer Level*

        Thank you for the suggestion! I like your wording. I guess my only hesitation is… did I apply for the lead role? I don’t think I did but I can’t be 100% sure. And I don’t want to come across badly. But maybe I’m overthinking this!

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          If you want to cover your bases, you could say, “I though I had applied for…” but I bet you’re overthinking it — job hunting has that effect!

  52. Epsilon Delta*

    Teachers – what can I do as a parent to support you and make sure you are safe this year?

    It seems like every time the topic of reopening schools come up, most parents are in the camp of “the kids must go back in person” (I admit I am strongly in this camp), and teachers are in the camp of “we do not feel safe going back in person.” And I hear you on that, but I just don’t think that a year of virtual learning is an effective option; we may as well just cancel school at that point.

    So I’d like to better understand: what are your concerns specifically? How can we mitigate the risk of kids and teachers being in schools? What can I do as a parent and community member to support you (beyond not sending my kid to school sick/after a known exposure, and practicing social distancing)? What alternatives can you propose to virtual learning the way it was implemented this spring, so that it would actually be effective? My kid had her own school-issued tablet, wifi, and access to me and her teachers for questions, and it was still a dumpster fire in terms of learning because she is just not that independently motivated, especially when youtube is on the same tablet as her homework is.

    1. CTT*

      Not a teacher, but I have many friends who are. Their two big concerns right now are 1) cleaning – how will that work? Between every class? Will janitors do it or will teachers do it? Who will provide the supplies and how much will teachers have to supplement? 2) Substitutes if someone gets sick – several of my friends are teachers at a “undesirable” school and already had trouble getting subs before all this; presumably it will be even harder now.

      For what it’s worth, all my friends who teach agree that virtual learning isn’t as good and desperately want to be back in their classrooms. But they are really, really scared. I’m a lawyer, and a friend who is a college prof texted me yesterday about how to write a will, and I know several other attorneys who have gotten the same question. They have long felt unsupported by their state and local government in terms of funding, and now they have this pressure of getting the entire country back to normal with zero additional support.

      1. PhysicsTeacher*

        “They have long felt unsupported by their state and local government.”

        This is SO important. We have spent years paying for tissues and hand sanitizer out of our own pockets. Every year there is some new expectation to do something extra in the same amount of time, or something that we are totally unequipped for, like screening students’ mental health (I have no training in this! How am I supposed to know? Will I be held liable if there is a problem and I don’t see it?). This is the same thing, but ratcheted up about 1,000,000%. I have no confidence in any meaningful support.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          A slight digression here, but to be blunt, asking teachers to screen students’ mental health is about the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I am not a teacher, but I have several friends who are. These are some things I’ve seen them recommending.
      1. Get a mask now and make sure your child knows how to wear it. Perhaps practice what they will say if they see a friend not wearing a mask or making fun of someone for wearing a mask.
      2. If you have funds to purchase disinfecting materials or hand sanitizer to donate, please do so. Schools will almost certainly not have enough funds to cover the need for these items.
      3. Call your local school board and elected officials. Have they released a plan for the school year? Is it detailed, clear, and doable? Ask what they will do if a teacher tests positive, if they have enough subs to cover all sick days, if they’re providing extra sick leave for teachers and waiving maximum days out for students, if they have enough WiFi hotspots for students who need them, if they will check temperatures, if masks will be required.

      Additionally, know that even in-person learning will look very different and will most likely be “ineffective”, compared to what we know are best education practices. Kids can’t form the same social bonds because they can’t sit together in the cafeteria. They won’t be able to touch any hands-on materials, they won’t be able to share supplies, they won’t be able to do group work or have small group discussion, they may not be able to have recess, teachers won’t be able to get close and point out issues with their work.

    3. Ranon*

      Not a teacher, but write your representative and advocate for vastly expanded faster cheaper testing. Given the high degree of asymptomatic spread and that the infectious period for even symptomatic people starts a few days before symptoms, there’s no such thing as a safe reopening that does not include regular testing of large percentages of the entire population, especially those who aren’t showing symptoms. Dr. Michael Mina makes the case for this in an op ed in the NY Times and an even better case in yesterday’s episode of This Week in Virology. He argues that we need fast, cheap tests with moderate sensitivity, not slow, expensive tests with perfect sensitivity- the tests only need to be sensitive enough to catch the people who are contagious and that’s significantly less sensitive than the tests we use now.

    4. PhysicsTeacher*

      You could donate cleaning supplies directly to the teacher. I am very worried that cleaning will not take place as often as I feel it should, and I will have to supplement. I have made a trip to Target once a week to try to buy Clorox wipes to stock up for my classroom for 4 weeks. I have been able to buy a container of Clorox wipes on one of these four trips.

      You can start making your kid practice wearing/getting used to a mask now, and INSIST that she wear it at school. My district is saying that individual teachers can require kids to wear them, but that we won’t be requiring them during passing period, when 2000 students are packed in the hallways.

      You can contact your school district/school board and advocate for smaller class sizes so that adequate social distancing can happen.

      You can contact your school district/school board and ask questions about other procedures, such as lunch. How will that work so that teachers still get to have lunch too? Will students still be eating in the cafeteria? How can they fit them all spaced apart?

      You can insist that any meetings you may need to have with the teacher/admin be over video call.

      I don’t know how old your daughter is, but you can recognize and advocate for the fact that the best solutions for elementary and secondary are probably different, just based on how elementary school and secondary school work (elementary is cohorted, secondary mixes CONSTANTLY).

      You can contact the district/school board and ask what kind of screening they are going to do on teachers and students so that a person with COVID-19 is not physically present at school.

      You can contact the district/school board and ask what will happen when there is a confirmed case. Does the whole class quarantine for 2 weeks? Is it less than that? Is it only a part of the class?

      You can contact the district/school board and ask whether teachers will have to use their sick leave if they are exposed. If they will, you can express that you are concerned about that because it’s basically an incentive to lie about being exposed.

      You could advocate for perhaps an A/B day schedule, where each kid goes in person half of the days and does virtual the other half (this is more feasible for high school than elementary) which will at least reduce some of the negative aspects of virtual learning and also reduce the number of people jam packed in a space.

      You can contact the district/school board and ask how substitute teachers will be handled. Will they work in one building only? Will they be screened before entry? When there is no sub (as I expect we will have a shortage this year), what will be done with that class?

      1. PhysicsTeacher*

        Even with a good plan for all of these things, there is a level of risk that remains. Schools are petri dishes, and many teachers are in high-risk categories. I am young and healthy, so I would *probably* not have a serious case, but it could still happen.

        Besides the physical danger of getting COVID-19, I live alone. I have a few people I have allowed myself to carefully socialize with, because we are all mask-wearers and being careful. If/when we go back, I basically will not be able to see any of my family or friends until there is a vaccine, meaning I will not be able to see any of my support network for an indeterminate amount of time. How could I justify being around 150 other people every day and then seeing anyone else and potentially being the disease vector to them? Even if my physical health is not impacted, I do not think my mental health will hold up. This is not a concern unique to teachers, but teachers are asked to be a support for kids in a way that is often pretty mentally taxing. I am worried about this.

        I just want people to understand what they are asking us to do, all for an in-person experience that will invariably be compromised. Whether in-person or virtual, students will not learn as much or enjoy school as much this year as they would another year (no sharing materials, no group work, seats facing forward only, policing mask use, policing kids standing too close, etc). If I am purchasing disinfecting wipes with my own money to try to keep your kid and me from getting sick at school, that’s not okay. If I do not know the material conditions of my job next year and yet am being held to a contract where at this point I cannot resign without having to pay a $4000 penalty, that’s not okay.

        1. CTT*

          On a similar note about seeing people, when talking with one of my teacher friends, this really stuck with me: one of her colleagues doesn’t qualify for the proposed work from home exemption because no one she lives with is immunocompromised. But her mother has terminal brain cancer and this teacher has been taking her to doctor’s appointments and spending as much time with her as she can. The choice her school district has given her is to either take unpaid leave for the school year or go into the classroom and not be able to see her mom in what are likely the last months of her life. That is a cruel choice.

          1. PhysicsTeacher*

            Yes. A coworker’s spouse (who is also a coworker, just farther from me in the building) was diagnosed recently with something very similar. The spouse will not be returning to work because they isn’t capable of it with their symptoms. My coworker has to, because they are going down to one income and will have medical expenses. Our district doesn’t have a work from home exemption for living with someone who is immunocompromised. So my coworker has to risk bringing it home to the terminally ill spouse, the kids, and the grandparent who is staying with them to help. All for instruction that will probably be compromised in much the same way as it would be if it were virtual (think about it — the socially distance-able activities are by-and-large the same ones that translate decently well to online).

      2. RagingADHD*

        What kind of screening is there to make sure a sick person doesn’t come to school?

        Temp checks don’t catch presymptomatic folks, or those who take Tylenol to cheat the screening.

        Daily testing of all students & staff? Way too expensive, slow, and invasive. And not particularly reliable.

        Ask tough questions, yes. But don’t ask for things that don’t exist.

        1. PhysicsTeacher*

          There is no 100% screening, but you can do SOME things. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be helpful; the more cases we can keep out the better. When teachers went to get their classrooms ready for the summer, they took our temperature and asked questions about if we’d been to a hot spot or been knowingly exposed. There has certainly been discussion in my area of homeroom teachers taking temperatures first thing in the morning (I don’t actually think that’s particularly helpful because at that point they’ve been in the building for a while and possibly been on the bus to get there). Parents definitely do give kids Tylenol to bring down a fever and then just send them to school. We have to be able to actually send those kids home when they’re presenting symptoms.

          The other thing is, sometimes you ask questions to try to get people to understand that part of the plan they are presenting (keeping COVID-19 cases 100% out of the school buildings) is not really achievable. If you just tell them it isn’t, they’ll argue with you. If you can ask questions to get them to realize it’s unachievable, that fact might stick in their brain. That’s a tactic I picked up from teaching, actually. I ask so many questions to which I already know the answer.

    5. Nita*

      A very good question, following. I know the situation is very different in other places, but here in NYC it seems that not reopening schools will be vastly worse than reopening them. Our coronavirus stats are steadily low despite most people using minimal precautions (just about everyone wears masks indoors/on transit, but otherwise, not really). On the other hand, our homicide numbers are soaring. While there are bigger reasons, the fact that people can’t go back to work and there are teenagers with zero zip nada to do and nowhere to go is also a factor. So I think not-really-reopening schools will be a social catastrophe. But of course, very concerned for teachers and want to support them in any way possible in making the return to school safe.

    6. Teaching in Texas*

      It’s not safe, and there’s nothing you can do to make it safe. We will be sacrificed on the altar of “the economy”.

      Parents just need to accept that if they send their kids to school this fall, they are complicit in this. They can’t have it both ways.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I can’t figure out how it could be made really safe. If they could hold all classes outside, wearing masks, with proper distancing, well maybe, but they’re still spending several hours of time together. Besides, I’m sure the weather won’t permit all classes being outside.

        To me, this feels like a scary thing that is going to make teachers, kids, and parents sick.

        It might be useful to figure out ways to make virtual learning more effective. For example, setting the school tablets to not allow kids on youtube until after their homework is done? Are there more interesting/fun ways to learn things now? For history, maybe include videos of reenactments of battles, etc?

        1. Cat*

          No amount of improving virtual learning will be enough without more drastic measures. Kindergartners can’t do full-time virtual learning by themselves, period. I don’t know at what point it become feasible, but it’s not in the early grades. That’s fine if there’s a parent at home who can supervise, but we either need to (as a society) be able to pay parents at home to do that or we need to come up with some other solution.

    7. Dumpster Fire*

      Thank you for caring! Some of the things that I’m most concerned about are completely counter to the guidance that has been issued. For example, there has been discussion in many states and districts that students will NOT move between classes, but instead teachers will move. I’m EXTREMELY concerned about this, because then I can’t control my own environment. “Oh, but you’ll have time to clean the space you’re leaving, move to the new space, clean that space….” And every teacher will be doing that, multiple times per day. How long will THAT last? Talk about stress and burnout…. At some point, teachers will assume that the last teacher cleaned before they left, so it’s clean now. I just sent an email to my principal about that, but I’m pretty sure that’ll be met with the Delete key. If they’re going to allow extra time between classes so teachers can move and clean, why not just have the kids move in waves? First the freshmen, then sophs, etc. I keep hearing how kids need to move anyway….and how kids aren’t as likely to catch COVID or die from it.

      Rant over, now to actually answer your question: Along with everything that others have said, please insist that your daughter (and her friends, if they have your ear) follow the rules that are set, especially with regard to masks, distancing, etc. These rules are NOT the ones to mess with! I know many teachers are lax about some rules but the safety rules are going to create a whole new level of stress. That nice teacher who lets you use your phone even though the rules say you can’t? She might lose her mind at you if you take off your mask or stand too close, because she has risk factors and/or elderly relatives.

      Be accountable, regardless of what mode of instruction/learning you have. Everyone has talked about what a failure the spring was. Want to know why? Because nobody expected to be out of school SO quickly! And so nobody had prepared, students didn’t have devices (or even notebooks), districts had to work out connectivity, meals, etc.; and THEN most of them made remote learning ungraded because of the potential inequities. Many of my motivated students learned a LOT, and most of my unmotivated students learned NOTHING. The content was out there, we provided devices, I was available for help; but if it doesn’t count and you’re 18 and can get a job with InstaCart, guess what a bunch of my students did?

      I’d love to retire, but I can’t yet. At this point, I’ll do my best but I really just want to survive and not cause anyone else’s illness or death.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      Thanks everyone for your responses. Our school district is holding a meeting in a few weeks to discuss their plan so I have a lot of great questions to ask them now. We are in a financial place to donate supplies, so we will – that is a great idea.

      As for masks, we have been practicing wearing masks and do not go into public places without one. We’ve discussed why it’s important and how to do it correctly (over the nose, don’t touch it, etc). So I 1000% will be continuing to enforce/remind her of that during school.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Wow! Most parents are in the camp of “the kids must go back in person”? I didn’t expect that. I don’t know that that’s true. I interpreted Trump’s the kids must go back to school 5 days a week as Trump doesn’t care that a percentage of your kids, teachers, and family members will get sick and die from this disease.

      I don’t have kids, but I think we have to sacrifice in-person education for safety.

      Honestly I think teachers are pretty screwed. Even if schools are limiting in person student days and number through a platoon system, the teachers still have to be there any day there’s in person students and they interact with numbers of students and other people in the school every day.

      I think the best thing for teachers is to give them the technology and tools to support a decent distance learning curriculum. For some school districts that’s not electronic because the kids don’t have the technology.

      1. Observer*

        A lot of parents are for going back to school in person because the way things are now is very, very bad for many children. It’s not just about economics, but kids education and sometimes even health are being badly affected in a lot of areas.

        Also, you can’t just brush off economics so easily. What happens when people lose their jobs because they can’t do their job and take care of their kid(s)? Never mind health care – a lot of people will find themselves unable to put food on the table and could lose their homes.

        I don’t know the answers, but I know that we can’t just wave the issue away. (And my husband, siblings and children are teachers. So I’m VERY personally aware of the risks.)

      2. RagingADHD*

        We have a safe & stable household, but one of my kids is suffering so acutely from isolation that I am seriously weighing the possibilities of doing in person school, even though logistically we could manage virtual.

        The light has gone out of her. It’s so painful. And I’ve done therapy and teletherapy for myself – I know there is nothing they could tell her that could possibly help.

        I fear we will have to tell her that in-school isn’t an option. And I just don’t think she would ever fully come back from that.

    10. Ronda*

      i wonder why we think we cant just skip a year of school. This virus is not going away and putting a bunch of kids together is going to spread it very effectively.

      Take what learning we are able to online and at home …… and only allow kids to go back to school when it is safe.

      We have the time, unless we do something foolish and kill ourselves.

      1. Cat*

        The issue is that nobody has proffered any solutions for parents who can’t work at home and whose jobs aren’t extraordinarily flexible. Tons of families have a single parent or two parents who have to work and often that’s out of the home. You can’t leave a 5-year-old home all day alone, and you can’t expect a 5-year-old to do distance learning or otherwise engage themselves without parental involvement.

        Yes, you can throw money at this problem – but most families are barely getting by as is in America today and childcare is extraordinarily expensive. Especially Pandemic-safe childcare (which is a small-group situation or nanny share).

        People are trying to figure out all sorts of solutions like micro homeschooling groups. But the fact of the matter is, parents have been given zero support and are desperate and for good reason.

      2. RagingADHD*

        There are also a significant (and unfortunately, rising) number of kids who are not safe at home.

        Without the regular presence of mandatory reporters who can see the bruises, that year of no school would be hell on earth.

        1. CorgisAndCats*

          This is an unfortunate reality that a lot of people forget about. I have a colleague in my state’s human services department and reports of abuse/neglect have plummeted, and it’s not because those behaviors have disappeared. I’m a psychologist and do some school based work and I wish there was a right answer. In an ideal world everyone would stay home but you’re right, some kids aren’t safe in their homes and school is a sanctuary.

    11. TTDH*

      There really is no actual safe way to reopen schools in an area where COVID cases have not declined enough to be rare, even with widespread and consistent testing. The best thing that parents can actually do to make things safer is to keep their children in virtual instruction if they are able in order to reduce the number of children in the building, because other parents will not be able to do so due to work obligations. One other thing that hasn’t come up explicitly is pushing for upgrades to school building infrastructure, like HVAC. You can reduce individual class sizes but if the HVAC system is poor then semi-aerosolized droplets can remain for long periods of time and/or be pushed around from room to room.

      I know parents are really frustrated because they feel like their children are bored and/or falling behind, but coming into the school building isn’t going to fix those problems either because of how the safety measures that are being implemented will affect instruction. Neither virtual nor face-to-face instruction is likely to be very effective for a little while, and it’s just something we will have to handle in order to prevent more deaths.

      1. Cat*

        I mean, I agree that we can’t just open schools and expect things to be ok. But I think you’re kind of glossing over serious problems in the last paragraph. There’s already a huge issue with lower income kids falling behind higher income kids over the summer months. This is going to exacerbate that tenfold. And it’s less “frustrated because kids are bored” and more “caring for young children is incompatible with work and sometimes means straight out leaving young kids at home alone because nobody can be there to care for them.”

        1. TTDH*

          I 100% agree with you. Some children will need a place to be – that’s why I mentioned earlier in my reply that the best thing is for parents who are able to keep their children home, so that children who can’t stay home are exposed to fewer others. I’m also not saying that this won’t exacerbate inequalities – it absolutely will. However, the more that we can get people who have the option to keep their children home, the fewer are likely to die. That’s where my focus is.

          1. Cat*

            I don’t know anybody who would disagree with you in theory (I know there are Covid deniers out there but everyone I know is actively scared for everyone’s safety in schools). I think we probably disagree about how many children need a place to be during the day; I think it’s probably the majority for whom a year of staying at home will be somewhere between neglectful and actively dangerous. The people I know who can have one parent mostly stop working to wrangle the children are doing so. Most people can’t.

            I’m not suggesting I have a magic bullet here – without a coordinated federal response I don’t see any good solutions.

            1. TTDH*

              I think we’re probably on the same page or not far from it, just exposed to different demographics. I know I come in from the viewpoint of encouraging people to keep their kids home because I know of a lot of folks who do have the resources but aren’t taking it seriously enough.

              1. Observer*

                It’s quite possible that your demographic exposure is quite limited, then.

                It’s not just poverty – there are some other significant issues that can crop up. There are areas where internet access is bad enough that on-line learning is really not feasible. If you live in an apartment building physical space can be an issue. When kids are going to school most of the day, and also have access to the school yard because of this, being in a relatively small apartment most of the rest of the time is not a big issue. But being stuck there 24 x 7, with perhaps an our a day outside in a park when the weather is decent? That creates some very real issues.

                1. TTDH*

                  I don’t have a lack of understanding around the issue, considering that I live in an apartment myself and am under doctor-mandated quarantine at the moment. There will be problems, unavoidably. There is no way to stave off all ill effects. Virtual learning brings with it a well-documented host of problems. In-person students aren’t going to have the kind of access to unrestricted playtime/environments at school as they used to, and learning environments will not be the same. The best way to take the stress off of these in-person environments and prevent deaths is still for parents *with resources* (time, money, yards etc) to keep their kids home. I feel like I keep saying this and just hearing back “but what about kids for whom this poses a serious problem?” I’m not talking about them or their sandwiches or lack thereof.

        2. Nita*

          Yes. I am from a country that recently went through a lot of poverty and instability. Last year, someone started a thread on a parenting forum about how working parents handled child care back then. Well. There was more than one story along the lines of “my aunt had a five year old watching a three year old all day” and “my neighbor left the toddler tied to the radiator for hours so she wouldn’t get hurt while the mom was at work”. In a country with barely any social safety net, like the US, this level of desperation is possible too. So I feel that for some kids, being able to go to school can be a matter of life and death.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. It’s more than just COVID. I’m not saying COVID isn’t serious, it absolutely is, but for some kids in-person school is essential.

    12. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Thanks for asking!

      Concerns: My biggest is my own safety and the safety of my high risk parents. I don’t think we know enough about how unlikely kids are to spread covid in a school setting, which kids are likely to get sick and at what age they lose the magic immunity. I teach middle school, so are my kids like the 0-6 crew or the young adults superspreadng at parties? I’ve also heard teachers feeling like they couldn’t handle the guilt if a child caught it in their classroom and had a bad outcome.

      What can you do
      1- Do everything you can to limit your child’s exposure risk outside of school and encourage the people you know to do the same. If you are sick or potentially exposed, stay home!
      2- Donate PPE. In many places the things provided will almost certainly be insufficient. (I would love to have plexiglass barriers, personally)
      3- If things are unsafe, complain to public health, the school board or whoever is responsible for health measures. Teachers have very little power in this.
      4- Support people that you know who are keeping their kids home. It may not be a choice that works for you, but every kid who stays home means a little more space to social distance.
      5- Be supportive of your teachers. Understand that many fun and group things in school can’t be done this year. Remember that being safe-er needs to come before skills in the science lab or school dances. If you have complaints, try to direct them to the people with more power to set policy (again, not the teachers)

      What can we do for better eLearning
      1- Structural: the social safety net should include free wifi access to low income families and tech that can be borrowed from school.
      2- My observation was that about 80% of my kids did at least okay with virtual school. For the other 20%, I’ve seen support from teachers (although this is local to an area where the numbers are good) for opening schools to small groups of kids who have barriers to eLearning (mostly economic, language, special needs and complex trauma) with a few teachers to help them in school buildings or rec centres.
      3- eLearning should be graded this year (although teachers should be pretty flexible based on student circumstances). Grades aren’t the perfect extrinsic motivator, but they’re better than nothing.
      4- Find ways to deliver more physical resources to homes. I’d be happy to provide paper resources (through the mail, pick up at school or leave it on the doorstep and scoot) for kids that are struggling to use tech appropriately (for whatever reason, including motivation) and parents could return them to a drop box at school.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Sorry to add more to my very long post, but disclaimer: my perspective is as a teacher of 12-15 year olds who can (very generally) be home on their own and know how to use tech to communicate and find info on their own. I wish I knew what to do about safe care options for the younger set.

    13. A Non E. Mouse*

      Just wanted to chime in: as a parent, I think we should do e-learning at least through the end of the year.

      I’m terrified the kids will go back to their school buildings.

    14. Stingless B*

      I teach 4th grade, and we don’t know yet if we will teach in person. I have lots of compassion for parents, and I have colleagues who are scared for their lives. Teachers are dying. There are only bad options.

      Know that any remote learning will be different than it did in the spring. Hopefully better. We had no idea what we were doing. Now we are planning for much more rigorous, engaging lessons. Also remote learning doesn’t have to be the whole year. Maybe it is 2 months, while we reflatten the curve.

      For in person, you can help by strictly social distancing and masking. Teach your children and encourage it broadly in your community.

      Most importantly, support politicians and policies that support a strong social safety net and universal health care so families don’t have to choose between sending said a kid to school and buying groceries.

    15. Old and Don’t Care*

      I don’t really understand, at this stage, the focus on wiping things down more than normal. (I haven’t been wiping things down myself since the very early days of this so this is not about me wanting to hoard all the Clorox wipes.). Based on what we know I’d want to be hearing a lot more about ventilation, HVAC filters and maybe plexiglass shields and less about sanitizing surfaces.

    16. School Psych*

      I’m not a teacher, but I do work in a school district as a school psychologist. Your related service staff is likely working in small, windowless, poorly ventilated offices that are not large enough to socially distance from the students we work with. We see upwards of 100 students per year and are in multiple classes observing and working with teachers and students. I would love it if parents pressured districts for additional medical grade PPE for these staff(air filters, respirator masks ect) We have additional exposure to both adults and students in the buildings that increases our risk. It would also make a huge difference in how safe I felt, if I were permitted to work from home for meetings, counseling that can be delivered virtually and paperwork. My district is requiring staff to be in our poorly ventilated spaces 100 percent of the time, even for services that can be delivered virtually. I wish parents would pressure the district to allow work from home when possible. It increases everyone’s risk when staff has to come into the buildings during times when they are not delivering face-to-face services.

  53. Flaxseed*

    I posted last week on how I thought that we were still working from home, but found out that we have to be in the office. (HR sent an email that I missed.) I also missed the deadline on something, but didn’t receive the info in time. They can back date it, but my boss isn’t too happy with me.

    When I walked in the next morning, it was awkward. No one said anything, but my coworkers looked at me with pity.

    I’ve never given my boss a reason to not trust me. I genuinely forgot about going back into the office. As for the deadline, I couldn’t get the info in time. That’s my bad, but I didn’t have it and couldn’t submit it.

    I feel like it’s unfair. I don’t know if it’s worth noting, but I’m the third or fourth person in the position within the last 2 years.

    I just feel that no matter what I do, it’s never good enough or acknowledged. I feel like my boss hates me and I’ll never be promoted or be given other opportunities.

    Besides finding a new job and leaving, is there any way to deal with this? How do you hold your head high and have a good poker face when all you want to do is leave? Has anyone been through something similar? What did you do?

    1. Me*

      I’m not trying to kick you when you’re down at all. In this circumstances some ownership of the mistakes may go a long way in helping your reputation with your boss.

      Going to your boss and acknowledging two errors and how you are working to ensure they never happen again should be something on your to do list. Perhaps setting aside 15 minutes a day to review your inbox to ensure you don’t miss emails. Perhaps establishing a notification process for looping in your boss that you don’t have what you need to meet a deadline.

      Errors happen because people are human. But. Part of being a good employee is acknowledging failings and working to improve them.

      1. Flaxseed*

        I don’t think it’s entirely my fault though because I didn’t have the info. Even if I did, I was locked out of the database that I was supposed to enter it in. I contacted my boss and IT multiple times, yet no one did anything about it. I feel like I tried as best as I could given the situation/circumstances, but the blame is not entirely on me.

        1. Me*

          It’s not about fault and no where did I state it was. It’s about ownership of a problem. Bosses want to see employees own problems and come up with solutions so they don’t happen again. Sitting down with your boss and explaining how the situation happened, what you did to mitigate, and ways of changing the process so it won’t happen in the future is owning a problem.

          Simply saying well it’s not my fault isn’t going to win you points. Your question is how to make a bad situation better. Doubling down on being the victim isn’t it.

          Look we once had an employee who screwed up constantly but never took ownership of it. It was always well no one ever showed her or she never did that kind of work before. It always came across as an excuse. Unfortunately she eventually became to be seen as a problem and there was no fixing her reputation.

          1. BeadsNotBees*

            I agree, getting defensive and clinging to “well it’s not my fault” is probably not going to get you anywhere, even if it’s true (although this only applies to the deadline issue-not properly checking your e-mail and “forgetting” to go into work sounds like something that IS your fault). I don’t want to seem as if I’m piling on because we all make mistakes, but you’ve made two in short succession and now is probably the time to suck up your pride and confront these mistakes head on (and of course work really really hard to keep a positive attitude and stay on top of things). I am sorry that you are so unhappy in your job right now, but I think maybe this recent chain of events is clouding your perception a bit- the impulse to “jump ship” because things are temporarily difficult may end up causing more issues for you than it solves.

            1. Flaxseed*

              Part of it is stress(worked a 60 hour week), as well as double-standards, favoritism, and resentment because the Golden Child made the same mistakes and no one said anything. I had to fix their mistakes and boss didn’t scream at them. There’s a lot going on, but I just didn’t want to post a novel.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Golden child had the same problems?

                Uh, why not point out that others had the same problems also? Everyone should be reprimanded equally. It’s only fair.

                I really do feel ya, I know what it’s like going in knowing that I will lose anyway. Upthread I was talking about disappointment in my own self for not standing up for me. Try to use logic to stand up for yourself. And that will be your take-away. “I stood up for me.”

                They’ve burned through 4 people in 2 years? I think you know that it’s them and NOT you who has the problem.

        2. tangerineRose*

          Since you didn’t have the access or info you need, is there a way to talk to the boss about how you could get this more quickly next time? You don’t want to act like you’re blaming the boss (even though it sounds like they should have gotten involved more quickly), just trying to prevent this issue next time or how to alert the boss differently next time. (Not blaming you, just saying that asking the boss this way is usually a more efficient way to get help.)

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      On the other side, are you sure you aren’t projecting your feelings of guilt onto your coworkers and boss?

      1. Remote HealthWorker*

        I want to push back on this. Too often we try to get people to discount the feelings and vibes that others are giving off. It can be really obvious but not easily provable when the entire office is giving off a vibe so let’s not make the op second guess themselves in this when they have enough other items to work on.

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          Sorry, not my intention to cause offense. I just know that when I’ve made mistakes sometimes I feel like everyone is judging me, which really it is just me and my own personal anxiety.

        2. I Can Never Decide On A Lasting Name Here*

          I follow you, Remote HealthWorker, and at the same time, there is something about the writing, that makes me think that maybe Flaxseed can work on how to deal with feeling uncomfortable or with problems. I don’t remember hearing “It’s not my fault” in the workplace – that is, except from the college students that I teach in emotional situations related to a paper not uploading or a grade that was lower than expected.
          Flaxseed, are you new to the working world? The above combined with the bit last week about people probably gossipping about you stands out to me. When younger (am 50 now), I did think quite a lot about what others might think of me, but I have realized that 1) people spend their energy thinking about themselves, 2) gossippers gossip about anything and are not taken seriously by most people, 3) gossip actually does not matter.
          Focus on what you can control (your work!) and try give your mind and emotions a rest; I’d say that to my younger self!

  54. AeroEngineer*

    Hopefully I am more on time this week than normal.

    So I work in aerospace, which has been destroyed by COVID, with complete recovery expected in 2023-2025. I was supposed to change jobs earlier this year, but the pandemic canceled the position I was going for. However, from what I know, things will start to recover at the end of this year, and I really want to leave when I get the chance. My estimation is a year from now when I would shift unless things start getting a lot worse again.

    However, I have a chance to go for a promotion of one or two levels in my current company (not in aerospace though). So it would be an upwards and sideways move.

    However, if I take the promotion, I might need to stay longer than I expected, which means that when my field starts hiring, or someone wants me for their team at a different company, it might cause issues.

    Am I overthinking it? I am so bored right now as my workload is as of Monday at nothing, but I also don’t want to miss out on a new position when other companies start hiring again.

    1. Granger*

      I’d do what is right for today, because there are just so many variables and who knows what’s going to happen and at what point down the road.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same here. The jobs you’re expecting to be available a few years from now may not materialize, so don’t count on that.

    2. The Grey Lady*

      I’d go for the promotion. It’s just so hard to guess what’s going to be happening in the next few months, and if you’ve got any sort of opportunity right now, I’d take it.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      (Aerospace industry here, too). It sounds like you’re moving into more of a people-manager role? Is that something you’d actually want to do? If your previously canceled position never comes back, would you be happy in the promoted role?

      1. AeroEngineer*

        At my current company I think I would be happier in a manager role.

        At another company, perhaps less so.

        It is also a major point to consider, but I am leaning towards the benefits outweighing the downsides, especially until the industry recovers. Without the promotion I might not have work until the end of the year in the worst case.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Yeah, I’d say work with the options you have right now, rather than the ones you wish you’d have. And if you take the management role, you have plenty of advice from this blog to help :) Moving to a management role shows growth, while if you stay at your current (more technical, but less demanding, if that’s accurate?) position, you’re stagnating. You already sound bored, but you don’t know when you could leave. I’d say take the promotion.

          I think we can’t predict how long this will last. I doubt the airline industry, for example, expected to park 80% of their aircraft for months. Many programs have been delayed or postponed indefinitely.

          If you’re worried about burning bridges — if your dream job calls you a year from now, would you rather have stayed in your current role for the past year, or would you rather have the experience (& extra pay…) from the promotion?

          1. AeroEngineer*

            Yea, you hit it right on the head. I do really technical work but I am super bored, and have been the last few months. I am relatively over qualified for the work I have been doing as well, so I think you are right that I need to start showing growth potential.

            Thanks :). At least my decision is clear and I need to go and discuss with my boss about the details.

    4. Observer*

      Estimates on when things are going to recover are about as solid as reading tea leaves. So, I would not base too much on that.

      Also, why would you need to stay longer if you got a promotion?

  55. Bq*

    How would you answer how do you deal with a manager who you disagree with? And what if there is a legal issue involve? And what if the manager won’t budge after you talk to them one on one?

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Then I go over their head. If it is a legal (or ethical) issue, I don’t let it go. I’m always very upfront, and I’d let them know I was going to keep pursuing it.

    2. Buttons*

      How would you answer how do you deal with a manager who you disagree with?
      I like to remind myself that the manager may have knowledge or insight that I do not have based on their level, they sometimes aren’t able to share that information. I like to have the opportunity to make my point, but ultimately they are the final decision.
      Legal or ethical issue.
      I would seek the advice of my HR representative and ask their advice on how best to handle it. I won’t participate i anything that is unethical or illegal.
      A manager not budging.
      Depends on what it is, if it is legal or ethical I am leaving it to HR. If it is something I disagree with then I move forward with their decision.

  56. AvonLady Barksdale*

    On Monday I got a rejection email for a job I really wanted. I thought I had a great chance. Apparently I did– according to the recruiter, an internal candidate showed up at the last minute and they hired that person. She also told me that I did a fantastic job in my interviews and that I was the top candidate until the internal one showed up.

    I appreciated her feedback very much, thanked her and told her she’s been great throughout the process, but MAN, I am bummed. Hoping the company will keep me in mind for something else, but GAH. Can anyone commiserate?

    1. Rayray*

      There’s a company I’ve really wanted to work at. It’s highly competitive, they basically only hire internally or employee referrals. My childhood best friend works there and got me a referral for a job that sounded great. The recruiter then let me know the company had a hiring freeze due to shut downs. The email to my friend even said something song the lines of “her resume is great and I really do want to consider her for the job”

      I tried getting in touch again later to check in but the hiring freeze was still on.

    2. Altair*

      I totally commiserate. I once interviewed for a nonprofit whose mission I really liked, and the people I met all felt very geniune and lovely, and when they rejected me they told me it was a difficult choice between me and one other person with more experience. (They volunteered that info, no less.)

      And I was complimented they thought so well of me and had to beat up a pillow because they thought so well of me and STILL DIDNT HIRE ME wah!

    3. anon for this*

      I’ve been told several times that I was the runner-up and that it was a “coin toss” between me and the other person, in a competitive field. In one case, one of the hiring committee heads went out of their way to phone me and give me feedback that didn’t actually make sense; it seemed to be halfway between excuses and negging. As in, if they had been serious about those being criteria, then those elements would have counted more strongly against the person who was selected than they would have for me. I decided not to apply to any more jobs there.

    4. TCO*

      That same thing happened to me last year–I was the finalist until an unexpected internal hire. It was a tough blow at the time. I was in the process of being laid off, so I needed to find something, and this role had been the best and most senior role for which I’d interviewed. I didn’t think I’d find anything of that caliber again.

      Fast-forward a month and I was interviewing for an even better role at a different organization. I got the job and I love it. Not to say that it works out well every time, but I hope that you’ll find something great soon.

    5. tangerineRose*

      That’s really tough, but it sounds like they’d be interested in hiring you if they have another opening. I worked with someone who got a job at a company the 3rd time he tried – each time until the last time they wanted to hire him but had someone who was more qualified.

    6. IsItOverYet?*

      Yup, been there. Feeling for you. It’s nice to know you did well, but this is one of the times when being the “runner up” stinks. Hang in there.

    7. Disco Janet*

      Ohh, I’m sorry! I had this happen to me with a teaching position I really wanted at my favorite district. The good news is that six months later they had another opening – I got that one! And I can now say that it really did work out for the best, because I work very closely with the internal candidate they hired/promoted the first time around, and she’s awesome – I love working with her!

  57. carrie heffernan*

    I have a second interview w/a company next week and looking at their LinkedIn, I see that a former co-worker is there now. The job we were at together is one I got laid off from. Since it was 2008, I feel like she can’t really speak to my skills now, especially since the job was a terrible fit. And yet, I am nervous they will ask her about me and she will not say positive things.

    1. Taura*

      Do you think they’d even notice the connection? I’m assuming she won’t be part of the hiring process, so she won’t have a chance to go “oh! I remember that name!” and I don’t think whoever’s looking at your resume would go “company A… sounds familiar… oh, we have someone here who used to work there, I can ask her opinion!” I mean, they’d have to know you worked together on top of being at the same company. And to top it all off, that was 12 years ago, so anything could have happened between now and then regarding your work performance. Besides, IF they ask her about you and IF she says horrible things and IF they believe her… do you really want to work for a place that bases their judgements on out of date info over current info?

      1. Taura*

        And gossip, honestly! They ought to make judgements based on their experience of you in the interview and whatever references they call, not someone who knew you ages ago and thinks she remembers this or that happening.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      You could reach out to them and ask about the culture at the company and mention in your conversation that you know the 2008 job didn’t work for reason x and are hoping this position will more align with your strengths y. Turn it to your advantage. I would definitely see a candidate was connected on LinkedIn with someone at my company and that employee about them. It’s not gossip…it’s getting as much info as possible. Alison has mentioned this is very common.

  58. Roza*

    Question for remote folks — about a year and a half ago I transitioned to working from home from a city a short flight from my company’s main (and only) office. The company had about 120 employees overall, with about 20% total being remote. There aren’t any satellite offices, people who are remote are scattered across multiple states and work from home. Prior to covid, I was required to come back to the main office at least once per quarter.

    I was recently informed that I’m not eligible for FMLA because I don’t work at a site with a sufficient number of employees since I’m remote. That…is pretty different than my understanding of how FMLA rules work for remote employees. Our company got rid of our internal HR, and now just uses a combo of a new grad “people coordinator” and an external HR consultancy, so I’m wondering if there’s some confusion there about the nature of the {my state} office? Or have other remote folks found FMLA eligibility is gone if you work remotely, even if your home office is eligible? I’m in tech if it makes a difference.

    1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      It’s possible that they are correct – FMLA eligibility requires that you work at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of you. So if you are more than 75 miles away from everyone else in your company, you probably are not eligible for FMLA time. A good employer would grant you leave time regardless – we have remote employees and we decided to just treat them like they work at an eligible location, so we only hold them to the tenure/hours worked/usage requirements for eligibility.

      1. Roza*

        Yep, I’m familiar with the definition. However, there appear to be specific rules about how “work site” is defined (if you’re WFH, that might not count as your “work site”), eg’s%20work%20location.-,An%20employee%20who%20works%20remotely%20(75%20miles%20or%20more%20from,75%20miles%20of%20its%20location.

    2. Lady Heather*

      FMLA regulation 825.111, paragraph (2) says:

      “An employee’s personal residence is not a worksite in the case of employees, such as salespersons, who travel a sales territory and who generally leave to work and return from work to their personal residence, or employees who work at home, as under the concept of flexiplace or telecommuting. Rather, their worksite is the office to which they report and from which assignments are made.”

      That seems to be pretty cut and dry.

      (IANAL and IANAUSAR (I am not a USA resident))

      1. it happens*

        Which implies that as long as there are sufficient employees in the office that the
        person’s manager works from, FMLA does apply.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Wait so does this mean if a company has zero offices, and everyone is remote in various states (300 people total), but nowhere are there 50 employees within 75 miles of each other, then no one is eligible for FMLA?

      2. emmelemm*

        Yeah, I would say the “from which assignments are made” is key there. There is an office, presumably with more than 50 employees (120 – 20% = 96), that you do report to.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        This is good to know! I work from home full time in another state from my company’s U.S. headquarters, so if I ever need FMLA, I’ll have something to cite if they try to deny me my time (which I don’t think they would do).

  59. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

    Is anyone else finding that colleagues are generally much less respectful of your time, and requiring a lot more hand holding and guidance than they used to? Any tips for how to deal with the slow simmering anger that this is creating for me?

    I have had people who call me 8 times in 10 minutes while I’m on another call but don’t leave a voicemail, someone asked me to “PDF this and email it to me” while looking at a PDF that I had emailed them, multiple people have send blind calendar invites that overlap with other meetings when I specifically asked them to look at my calendar for an open slot, someone else sent me 5 emails in so many minutes all saying basically the same exact thing and then complained to my manager that I was unresponsive because it took me an hour to get back to them…

    In a time when things are just generally harder than they normally are, I’m finding that all these small examples are really building up and getting under my skin. I am absolutely feeling myself burning out, which worries me because I absolutely love my job, I’m a high performer, and I don’t want to jeopardize that over some petty garbage. How do I deal with it – am I supposed to just take a deep breath and let it go?

    1. NotAPirate*

      I thought this was just happening to me! This makes me feel better about my week. I have had employees backsliding in terms of how much they can no longer do independently, and now constantly get interrupted with questions they should be able to handle. Maybe its a mass stress effect….

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        I think mass stress effect makes the most sense – because I know deep inside of myself that these people are usually very smart and good at their jobs. It may not feel like it right now, and I’m probably overreacting, but I think everyone is just on edge and can only spend so much brain space on certain tasks. At least we have each other to commiserate?

        1. Taniwha Girl*

          I agree that I think this is a major cause. Many commenters the other day were talking about brain fog. Stress takes away a percentage of your executive functioning for sure.

    2. cncx*

      i work in IT and YES. they just outsource their brains to me and the worst part is because while people are home i’ve gotten whatsapp or calls anywhere from 630am to 10pm and it’s really annoying because it isn’t for emergent stuff but for hand holding- like things that could either wait or be fixed with a little googling. I really think this is a covid thing because usually they are lovely and i love working with them and my job. I’m frustrated too and im simmering as well so i’m mainly replying so i’m in the chain for anyone who has better responses other than commiseration. I’ve also noticed an uptick in people passive aggressively ccing higher up if i don’t respond to an email in five minutes. The only thing that helps me so far is just to sit back and not take it personally but that only helps so much when i have to log on at 630 because someone forgot how to use the vpn. Last week i had to read out over the phone instructions i sent via email because the user didn’t want to read the email. Stuff like that.

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        This is 100% tracking with my experience too – the worst offenders are not anywhere near the emergent situations. I’m in HR and it’s so frustrating to be on an actual sensitive phone call with someone who is in distress, and be interrupted 5 times by someone who just wants to talk through a hypothetical.

        I also had to quote an email to an employee who was staring at the email I sent them trying to tell me it didn’t say something I could quote to them word for word. It just boggles the mind.

        I am so sorry this is your life right now too, but it is a small bit comforting to know I’m not alone.

    3. Buttons*

      All of that sounds so annoying!!! I think the first thing you should do is take a couple of days off, have a nice long weekend to just relax.
      Seoncdly, I would call the guy who emailed you and then complained to your manager to let them know how that isn’t how things work.
      And finally, everyone is freaking the heck out and everyone is behaving so oddly! Try to remember that most people are coming from a good place, even if it is annoying AF. :)
      Be kind to yourself and take a couple of days off to get away from them.

    4. juliebulie*

      Wow, I thought it was just me! Two people who already needed a lot of hand-holding seem even more at a loss now… and I am the Question Answerer. And then if they don’t like my answer, they ask someone else. So I wish they’d ask someone else first, lol. Except not really because sometimes someone (who doesn’t actually know our job) will tell them to do something that really isn’t correct, and they’ll just do it without question. Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggh.

      Oh right, so to answer your question, they make whiskey now that has coffee in it, so it’s perfect for workdays. Wait, no. Don’t drink. But do set boundaries. Refuse stupid meeting invites. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Set aside some stretches of time where you are incommunicado and can get your own work done.

    5. Choggy*

      You are not alone, this is the bane of being in IT support! The amount of hand-holding and actual *thinking* I am now being asked to do while working remotely has grown exponentially. Now I am pushing back where I can. If I did not, I would not be able to get anything else done. I just hope you have a supportive manager when things like this occur.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Collectively, our minds are too full of trying to sort out what TPTB are saying that we have no brain space left for normal function. I am seeing this all over.

      I won’t name an arena because too many arenas are experiencing examples like this: I got a 7 page PDF. Once I read through it, I realized it said, “We will remain closed until we reopen.” It does NOT take 7 pages to say that. Additionally most of us are savvy enough to figure this out on our own. What a waste of time. We did end up with one brave soul who consolidated it down to a page and a half. After reading their condensed version we all understood what to do.
      A friend who works in a different arena received a similar email but I think hers was 5 pages. She, too, has a brave soul in her extended group who came forward to be the UN interpreter for the extended group.

      When people are wading through pages of junk like this, other things slip by, for example 2 plus 2 now equals 5.
      I don’t think I have ever seen a time in life where the world cannot hold on to a single thought for more than a few minutes. But now I see it.

      1. juliebulie*

        You are right – the distractions, BS, and general turmoil are putting our brains in churn mode and eating up cycles that would normally be used for productive thought. I should cut my people some slack. I should cut myself a little slack.

  60. Retro*

    I work in an R&D community and my role provides engineering support to teams of scientists and lab techs. Recently, a team lead left the company for a sabbatical and he’s been replaced with a much more irksome person, who I will call Randy.
    My role involves charging out my hours to the different teams of scientists based on the work and services I provide to them throughout the month. My group is internal to the company, so we are not contracted services or an embedded contractor. Recently, Randy has been closely, microscopically, examining the hours my group charges to his group. Randy’s group own a lot of processes that require a lot of our support, so we do spend a great deal of time supporting his group. He’s recently asked us to break down our hours by task and has begun scrutinizing hours that we charge to larger projects that are budgeted out. I think he’s trying to make a point that we cost too much money which is a mentality generally shared by the scientists. I agree that we can be pretty expensive bc our rate is high (out of our control to set) and because in our organization’s case, we typically design small processes that are cheaper in materials but still require lots of engineering expertise. In most projects in our field, the material costs greatly outweigh engineering costs.
    Randy’s begun trying to poke holes in our hour breakdowns and bring up those holes to upper management. Upper management generally does not understand our work very well, so they are asking for breakdowns of why exactly certain tasks took so long in the past, standard # of hours for very minute or specific tasks, standard cost of engineering for projects in general. My boss (a glowing optimist) believes that by providing all this information, upper management will understand, but historically and workplace culturally, I have found that upper management has not been able to see our perspective.

    My concern is that by giving Randy and upper management all of this specific information, they will hold us to our current estimates and scrutinize and criticize every deviation from those estimates. While I don’t mind defending myself, it’s hard to get upper management to understand that our work is complex and sometimes unpredictable because R&D is complex and ever changing. At any given time, our projects involve a ton of different technologies because scientists are always trying to push the boundaries and that puts us in new territory often. The organization is not in favor of us doing upfront design and hours to clearly develop scope and estimates costs and then punishes us on the back end for surprises that crop up.

    I’m exasperated and concerned this will impact my progression in the organization. Is there something I can do to better control the narrative? Change mindsets?

    1. Mazzy*

      I work with IT and often have to push back when other people say they take “too long” on tasks. My advice is, are their parts of your work you can delegate back to Randy? Maybe you’re doing some of the routine or administrative parts of the work that his scientists can do? And if he pushes back, say “this is the only way to reduce the charges from my group.”

      I’m asking this because, in my role, I see some people send work to our software provider like “all of this is wrong.” Then others “I noticed an error so researched it and see that on receipts for gray Llama fur shampoo, we’re pulling in the addresses to the wrong fields. I think it’s because those templates have an extra field up top no one uses. Can you delete that and test some letters?”

      The 2nd type of project will obviously be much less labor intensive for the person receiving the work.

      Either that or can you push back about even helping his group?

  61. Rayray*

    I got a job offer this week!

    Four months since I was laid off and I had been job searching a little before that. It’s decent pay and at a company with high ratings on Glassdoor and indeed. A slightly further commute than I’m used to but it’s right off the interstate and I’d also be traveling the opposite direction of the heavier traffic.

    I’m really grateful for it. I was so afraid I’d be unemployed for a long time.

  62. New Job!*

    I’m relatively new to this site so I’m not certain if this is considered a work related comment. Please let me know if I should move it. After 20 years at the same company, I am moving to a new job at a new company. My 401(k) at my current job is the bulk of my retirement. Any recommendations on what to do with my 401(k)? Should I find a financial advisor? Should I just move it into mutual funds in an IRA? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Buttons*

      You can transfer it to your new company’s 401K plan. Call that company directly and they will do it for you. When I did it the last time, they found a 401K I had when I was 22 (20+ years ago) working my first job out of college! That money had been sitting there doing nothing for 20 years!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is what I did, and I think most plans can be rolled over (but don’t quote me on that).

    2. Ali G*

      Your current job will also have rules of what you can and can’t do. Depending on the amount you have, you might be able to leave it there for a bit until you figure it out. Also talk to the institution that houses the plan. They can roll it over for you into an IRA with no tax implications. But talk to your current HR first to see how much time you have to decide.

    3. Lady Heather*

      If you get a financial advisor, make sure it’s a fiduciary (someone you pay by the hour, who is bound by law to act in your best interests) and not a non-fiduciary (who usually works on commision and is not required to act in your best interests).

      There’s a youtube channel called The Money Guy with lots of financial advice that’s pretty interesting (and fun), which talks a lot about retirement and about the tax implications of different strategies.

      My only advice is not to put it in bitcoin!

    4. Ranon*

      If your new 401k is good (where good means diverse options with low fees) you could roll it over to there, otherwise rolling over into an IRA with a reputable low fee broker (Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, etc) and making sure your investments are in low fee, diverse funds that reflect your values and risk tolerance is probably the best bet, IRAs tend to have more options but it means more accounts to track.

    5. Ronda*

      your 401k should send you a letter with your options.

      you can usually leave it at the company 401 k if you want to. there is usually an extra administrative fee in 401k vs ira. This is often the easiest option, you dont really have to do anything. (and you can leave it there for a while and move it when you are ready)

      you can cash out of the 401k. this will mean you have to pay taxes and penalty. this is not recommended.

      you can roll over into an ira. traditional ira if this is a regular 401k, roth ira if this is a roth 401 or after tax contributions. This is often the advice because you are not limited to the funds your ex-employer chooses and can change at any time. To do this contact the firm you want to have your 401k at, and they will have forms for you to fill out and handle the rollover once they have the correct forms. I like Vanguard the best but have also used Fidelity. Both of these companies have telephone lines that you can call with any questions…. they also offer investment advisors for a fee if you prefer that. My current IRA is limited to funds at vanguard, but if you want more flexibility you can ask them about doing your IRA in a brokerage account and you can choose any companies stock or other firms mutual funds / ETF.

      There are also some required minimum distributions and tax considerations. I know I read an article about it but dont remember the specifics. I think they have some different rules about when you can start taking distributions and how much you are required to take(401k vs IRA). This will impact your income in those years and you may be able to control the amount of income to your desired level better under one of the options.
      Once you have an IRA, you can also do Traditional IRA to Roth IRA conversions to help with your tax planning. you can search articles to get the jist of how this works. Basically you would pay the taxes on the amount you convert to Roth and then when you want to take money out of the roth later, no taxes on those distributions. This should allow you to better control your income amount for tax purposes…. take out as much from tradition as you want to pay taxes on that year and rest out of Roth.
      There are also inheritance implications on each type of fund (doesnt impact you , but does impact whoever you will leave this to)

      Do note that financial advisors are not tax advisors and may give you general information, but will not usually advise on the tax considerations. The financial advisor is generally going to pick a fund mix after talking you about what level of risk you want to take etc. Most will do a free consultation and then give you a proposed plan. you can decide not to use them, but use the parts of the plan that you like. they often charge 1 to 2% of you fund balance…. some might charge just a 1 time fee if you want to just get advice one time and not have them manage funds for you.

      I also found out when I left one company that there are some weird rules you can use if you have your company stock in your 401k. It gives you a favorable tax treatment if you move it out of the retirement fund and into regular fund (you do have to pay some taxes when you do this)… It is really rather complicated, so you do need to do this exactly right to have it work correctly.

      1. InstaFan*

        Thank you very much for taking the time to write out this advice. I felt a little overwhelmed researching for advice online. I feel like the AAM community is positive and informed. Thank you again.

    6. Windchime*

      I second the advice to talk to a financial advisor; however, when I was in the same situation, I just left my money where it was. It did really well and I left it there for a good 6 or 7 years after I left that employer. I finally did eventually move it over to a financial advisor.

  63. Goose*

    Quick job searching rant…. why do I need to create a new account on a new job search website for every job application? Every single one of these sites 1) asks me to retype everything in my resume after incorrectly uploading it 2) salary expectations with the inability to write “0” 3) three references with full contact information.

    Hiring managers and HR–why?

    1. Buttons*

      It is because those sites put you into the HRIS system, it is used to filter and sort. They can also use it to guard against bias and descrimination. For example, at my company we filter out names when forwarding the system generated resume to hiring managers. By doing this we increased the number of women being asked to interview by 33% which lead to an increase in hiring women by 30%. Can hire them if you aren’t interviewing them!
      It is a giant PITA, but there are legitmate reasons for them, I just wish the companies that made the software were better at the uploading and transfering of information.
      Hint: Make sure you resume is in PDF format, this usually helps with the transfering. Also, you should be able to copy and paste into each field from your resume.
      Good luck!

  64. Leah K.*

    Has anyone been following the story of Bari Weiss and her resignation from the NY Times? I thought it was interesting that in her resignation letter she cites “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge”. But do those terms really apply in her context? I am curious purely from a legal point of view. Don’t want to attach the URL so that my post doesn’t get stuck in moderation, but if you google Bari Weiss resignation letter, it’s the top hit.

    1. windowround*

      I don’t know the law in the US but I get what she’s saying. She’s said her colleagues bullied her out of the job. I don’t like her and I get why they made the environment hostile for her, if it is true and I’d say it is.

      The thing that would be interesting legally is that this is a newspaper. Maybe ‘bullying’ someone over what they right counts as part of the job, that they are shaping the newspaper’s viewpoint. How can you have a newspaper where you can’t tell a fellow writer ‘hey your opinion sucks?’

      1. Leah K.*

        I agree that they made her work environment hostile. I am just curious if she has any legal recourse since their treatment of her was not based on any protected class (race, gender, religion, creed, national origin, etc.)

        1. windowround*

          I hope not. You should be able to push someone out of an organisation for holding offensive views.

        2. Littorally*

          Legally, it’s not a hostile work environment unless it’s based on a protected class. This is something that gets addressed pretty routinely here on AAM; the term in employment law is much narrower than the dictionary definition of the words.

    2. Analyst Editor*

      IANAL, but from reading this site my sense is that if she was bullied or forced out of a job, she would be eligible for unemployment, for example.

  65. Sharkie*

    GUYS I GOT A JOB!!!!!

    sorry I am a little excited. I have been out of work since March 24th (no I haven’t been counting the days) Any way- obviously due to Covid I am working from home until 2021, including on boarding, training and meeting my team. Does anyone have words of wisdom for me?

    1. Buttons*

      Congratulations! Set up 1:1 calls with each person in the team to ask them about their job and just get to know them. It will help you understand the work culture better and it will speed up them accepting you as part of the team.

    2. Ryan Howard's White Suit*


      Based on my very specific experience from the past week, my words of wisdom about doing all of that remotely is to check in on project specifics as they’re being performed because you never know when a pandemic will hit and you won’t be able to fix them until it’s way too late.

      Good luck!!

  66. HigherEdToday*

    I’m in financial aid and that’s disturbing. I can’t say we’ve got any letters like that (yet). Thanks for the heads up!
    I work at a public university, and we don’t have any appeals process. Students can update their FAFSA but it’s often “you get what you get”. We do offer emergency loans but it’s a pittance considering the financial hit some families have taken due to COVID.

    1. Zephy*

      Yeah. I know ED just put out some new guidelines about professional judgment overrides, basically “we won’t ding you for doing a ton of PJs due to COVID this year,” but we still can’t be handing PJs out like cheap cigars – we’re already halfway through 2020, and mere weeks away from the fall start.

  67. Tax Wiz*

    I’m thinking about going in a different direction with my career and I’d love to hear from others who transitioned out of public accounting.

    I’ve done tax work only, have my CPA, and completed a masters degree in tax. I have 6 years experience and am a manager. I’m in a larger city in CA (not SF or LA). My local firm had been a great place to work until a year ago. It’s turned into more of a Big 4 mentality – must be available at all times by e-mail or cell, pushing for more overtime work over the summer, etc. They have also done a terrible job this year with their Covid response (they think it’s a hoax and are openly hostile to wearing masks. They forced everyone back into the office but do nothing to protect us despite multiple employees being pregnant, including me) and that has been the last straw for me.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Leah K.*

      Tax job market is pretty hot right not in the post TCJA world, so even despite Covid a lot of companies are hiring. I imagine some areas are in higher demand than others (international comes to mind). I left public 10 years ago, and never looked back.

      1. BeadsNotBees*

        Yes, I agree- the world is your oyster. Every industry needs accountants, and your specific experience in tax especially would be desirable. Since you are already employed and have a little flexibility in your search, you can really hunt around and find a good match. Are their any industries/sectors that interest you more than others? Or does the industry not really matter to you, but maybe a specific title/set of job duties does? Or perhaps there’s something tangentially related to tax/accounting that interests you and that your current skills/knowledge would serve as a “bonus” to the employer? Thinking about these things can help you narrow down a search a little, since just typing in “accountant/CPA” into job search engines will give you an almost overwhelmingly broad scope.

        I am in industry now and love it, for the record. I worked in this specific sector (in a totally different capacity) when I was in undergrad, and since I had a pretty good idea of the general operations/goals of this type of business, it gave me an “in” when I was looking for higher level “behind-the-scenes” positions. Accounting is only a small part of my duties now- I was able to use my experience to leverage a senior position that has more project manager and financial analysis duties. My financial/tax knowledge come in handy all the time and are seen an added asset to the specific position/company.

    2. Lifelong student*

      CPA- tax geek here. In my years of slave labor- as the required experience time to be a CPA is called, I focused on tax- primarily but not exclusively individual taxes but also was assigned at times to audits. I moved from there to non-profit work but maintained my tax expertise and focus through professional associations and doing VITA work. Eventually I became an instructor in tax at two local universities. If your tax focus is more business- the possibilities in corporate can be huge. I find many people switch firms after a few years- be sure you want to switch out of public and not just out of your firm.

    3. Tax Wiz*

      Thank you all for your responses. There’s no particular industry I’m interested in moving into. I real enjoy research and complex issues. Biggest issue is getting some real work-life balance. I’ve worked on a lot of large companies and high-wealth individuals so I have a lot more options open to me than I realized. Hearing your stories and encouragement has been very helpful — I was feeling like I may be stuck in public accounting forever but that is certainly not the case. I’ll spend some time really thinking about what I want next and what I liked most about what I do right now. Thanks again!

  68. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

    Last week I asked for some good vibes for moving on to the next round of interviews and they came through! Thanks to everyone who responded. I was asked earlier this week to do a second interview and it even sounds like they’ve expanded it a bit past what they originally said it would be (i.e. originally said it’d be one interview with 2 more people, but it’s now two interviews with two different groups with a five minute break in between). They also asked me to let them know if I get any other offers in the meantime, so I’m taking that as a good sign. Interview is on Monday, so please send some good interview vibes my way!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Good luck to you – you got this. I truly believe you’ll get this one; their request for you to give them a heads up about another offer leads me to think you’re their first choice.

  69. Uncertain Teleworker*

    I’m getting stressed out about the logistics of returning to working in my office (after teleworking for the past few months).

    My workplace is transitioning people back to in-person work with the goal of everyone who typically needs to be on-site for their job returning by August. I’ve been able to telework effectively, but there are normal parts of my job that do require me to be present in the office, so continuing it full-time probably won’t be possible if my workplace returns to “normal” (or close to it) operations.

    My workplace has been pretty good so far about allowing for flexibility if people aren’t able to return, so the official guidance is intentionally a little vague and gives a lot of latitude to individuals and their managers. My manager has been pretty hands-off, and I haven’t been able to get explicit instructions from them about what date I should plan on returning. Also, I take public transportation, and not only am I a little concerned about exposure, but the bus route I take has reduced its frequency because of COVID. This means I would need to adjust my schedule a bit–either doing hybrid telework or starting a little later. I’ve tried to ask my manager about this via email and get their input, but haven’t gotten an answer–I don’t think it’s an intentional oversight, I think they’re just busy and maybe don’t have a good answer for me.

    I feel like I need to start planning for August, but I’ve been hesitant to present a plan to my manager because I don’t want it to seem like I’m not interested in their feedback on what will be best for the department. I’m not sure how to approach this issue since my efforts to ask my manager for input haven’t been followed up on.

  70. cncx*

    i was thinking about this with the friend who was the job hopper because she was the problem post. i used to be a job hopper, got therapy, don’t hop jobs any more but i still wonder: i think there are toxic quittable jobs out there where people need to rage quit, but within the range of normal jobs, is it ever ok to say ok this place is a bad fit because of my place in the mix? Like if you don’t get along with your boss or colleagues because it’s a culture fit issue and not because you need help or your boss and colleagues are bad? or are all social/political conflicts jobs fundamentally fixable with therapy and self-awareness? i don’t know the answer.

    1. Elliott*

      I think that workplace culture is a totally reasonable factor to take into account. What I think is important is being able to weigh out the pros and cons and have realistic expectations. For example, interpersonal conflict can arise in any job, and interpersonal dynamics can also change over time, so quitting a job that’s otherwise a good fit because of minor conflicts could be unwise. But if the culture is a poor fit and it affects your work satisfaction and it’s not something that’s likely to change in the near future, I think looking for other opportunities is reasonable.

    2. Lady Heather*

      My litmus test is pretty much: ‘does this job cause me to be unhappy?’
      I don’t think a job should/needs to make you happy – a job should give you the opportunity to be happy in your time off.

      If you feel ‘meh’ about your job (like: ‘I don’t like my colleagues(/my clients/my work), which is why I need to be paid to be in their presence, and fortunately I am paid enough for this!’), you might want to stick it out (at least two years for your resume – or potentially, until it ever does start to tilt in the direction of ‘I don’t get paid enough for this’). If job displeasure is spilling over into the rest of your life, look around for a different job.

      One of my parents had a job they didn’t like. They liked that they could work 6.30-15, allowing them a lot of afternoon and evening to pursue their hobbies. They had some good colleagues and were able to not care about the bad ones. The job wasn’t overly stressful, rarely caused sleepless nights, and they talked about it so little that we never got a clear picture of what they did, exactly. (We still joke they worked for the CIA.)
      They stuck with that job – and similar jobs at that organization – until retirement.
      It’s my life’s mission to only ever have jobs like that.

    3. Colette*

      You can quit for culture fit reasons … but if you have a history of quitting jobs quickly (less than a couple of years), I’d recommend that you stick it out. But yes, it’s legitimate to quit for culture fit reasons – because they work more overtime than you want to or do semi-mandatory happy hours you don’t want to attend or you just don’t click with your coworkers.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I was about to say this.

        You can quit for whatever reason you want – but if it becomes a pattern, that’s when you’ll begin to have problems. Culture fit does matter. My last job was at a company where I did not fit in at all. I came from a conservative corporate environment that wasn’t quite buttoned up, but there was a certain expectation of behaviors within the workplace that included dressing well, working hard without complaint, and keeping communications classy.

        My last company was the complete opposite of that. My coworkers and manager came to work dressed like they just rolled out of bed, they talked about workplace inappropriate topics all day long (my manager’s bestie and one of my direct teammates would always regale us with stories of her drunken weekend benders and sexcapades), and they complained about every little thing all the time – most of their complaints were due to self-inflicted wounds, too, so I was annoyed. I knew that place wasn’t for me after six months, but I didn’t actually leave until I’d been there for 17 (and that felt like 17 years). I just found their behavior to be unprofessional and childish.

        Now, if I had quit every single one of my jobs over the last decade due to culture fit issues, I would fully expect people to tell me that I’m the common denominator in all of these situations. And that would probably be an accurate assumption. Either I wasn’t properly vetting employers in my interviews and was, therefore, ignoring red flags, or I was being completely unrealistic about what a workplace experience is supposed to be.

    4. RagingADHD*

      A non-toxic job that isn’t a good culture fit is the kind of situation where you disengage emotionally and look for your next good career move. Part of that move is going to be biding your time to build your resume, and quietly look for other jobs that will be a better fit long-term.

      So don’t quit till you’ve put in a couple of years, and have something better lined up.

      It’s not reasonable to expect that every job will be a source of happiness and satisfaction long-term. But if you (or someone) can’t tolerate boredom or minor irritations for a while in service of a larger goal, then that’s an internal problem.

      1. Frustrated*

        Pay issues and benefit issues are reasons to quit soon after being hired. Serious scheduling issues like being hired as part time then being scheduled 45 hours a week for a couple months in a row.
        It depends on your field I‘ve worked retail most of my life and 2 years is a long time, especially if you’re making under $15/ hour part time. You’d be crazy to turn down a $20/ hour full time job with great benefits to not look like a job hopper.

        1. RagingADHD*

          What on earth does that have to do with culture fit?

          Being underpaid or bait and switch isn’t what we’re talking about at all.

  71. Concerned Academic Librarian*

    If my library system is anything to go by, we are all doomed this autumn. We will be doing nothing to reduce student density in our facilities. We are in a blue state that has pretty rigorous reopening guidelines but I guess we technically don’t have to do anything so we’re not. We have approached admin individually and as a group and they are not budging. Not sure what to do. I am in shock. I am terrified for autumn.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Reach out to your local government for guidance and ask about local mandates. If your local government is run by sensible people, they don’t want their hospitals overwhelmed with patients anymore than you want to be one of them.

      1. Concerned Academic Librarian*

        It looks like they are obeying the letter and not the spirit of the mandates.

        If I do this, I need to do it in a way that doesn’t reveal my identity.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think there are two issues here. One is what can you do to advocate for change, if you think change is needed. The second is how can you assess risk given limited information. I’m not at your library or in your shoes, but can you try a different tactic? Maybe try asking Admin to explain their logic, why they’ve made the choice they’ve made about the facility? I find asking people to explain often opens up a conversation, because it feels less confrontational. Also these decisions, at least at my University, are happening above the Library Dean at the Presidential level. So, regardless of what my library dean thinks, we’re doing certain things. Other things we’re not doing, because we don’t have the staff resources to enforce them.

      Our plan at the moment- Masks are required. Plexiglass has been installed. Folks have moved out of shared offices into some empty space we had (horrible basement space, so I am sorry for those guys). We’ve shut down some of our computers and removed chairs. We are wiping down door handles several times a day. We have the doors on a card swipe access system, so only folks with IDs can get in. However, we have no way to enforce a student density policy and we think students would ignore it anyway.

      I’m sorry. I wish I had more concrete advice.

      1. Concerned Academic Librarian*

        We asked and got the rationale: the university is reducing capacity so our library director thinks there is no need to do anything more on our part. Suggestions were offered and rejected. We’ll figure it out. I hope.

  72. I Better Use Another Name*

    TLDR: Applicants, follow the directions! Maybe even read the job ad on the business’s website before applying?

    I’m hiring and need to vent.

    Out of 3 dozen applications, only 2 so far have followed the directions and that was after I conceded to human laziness and sent everyone who wasn’t a hard “no” an e-mail asking them to look at the revised ad and re-apply following the directions. Too many who re-applied either responded to me saying that they checked and their resume is correct or they re-applied by submitting half of what the directions ask for or otherwise responded so that I know they did not read the application instructions. The instructions aren’t complicated: submit our application and a cover letter. On the job boards, our ad says to go to our website for the complete job description and application instructions. I don’t dock anyone who applies through the job board, as long as they also apply according to the directions in the job ad.

    The resume people are especially perplexing because the job ad doesn’t ask for a resume. I did that on purpose because 1) I want it to be easy for new grads and people long out of the workforce, 2) cover letters tell me more than a resume (and I even tell people what to put in their cover letter – an example of how they think their experience gives them the skills to do the listed job duties), and 3) the application process is a skills test (giving me a writing sample and demonstrations of their ability to follow three-step, detailed instructions and their technology skills). I also made the application form to ask for as little information as possible and left almost everything optional.

    There were several candidates who might have been considered, but if they can’t follow directions even after a prompt that they missed something, I can’t feel confident that they will have the judgement and higher-level problem solving skills that I need in this position.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do think you need to specify that you don’t want a resume. Submitting one is so normal that I would assume that the cover letter and application were being requested in addition to a resume. So for that portion, either make it very clear that you do not want to see a resume or get used to receiving them.

      1. I Better Use Another Name*

        I don’t mind the resumes and definitely don’t dock anyone for submitting it. My confusion is why someone would submit only a resume when the instructions don’t even ask for it but specifically ask for other things. As in:

        To apply, e-mail the following to [e-mail]:
        – Application
        – Cover letter with an example of how your experience might help you meet the listed job duties

        1. Bell*

          Because it is highly unusual to not submit a resume, they probably just figured the application and cover letter were in addition to that. I have never seen a job application not want a resume, unless it was for fast food/retail/call center jobs when I was a teenager and had no experience.

        2. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I think I would assume my resume is a fair replacement for the application and maybe also be a bit annoyed that I had to fill out a separate form when I already have a document with that info prepped and ready to go.

        3. Pocket Mouse*

          Is it worded exactly like this? To me, ‘application’ means resume + cover letter. Listing the cover letter separately would make me think that for some reason your company considers resumes alone an application. Naming the application form something else (e.g. “Employment Application Form”) would be much clearer.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. Application = resume and cover letter.
            What do you want in the application, exactly? If they’re sending something as an email attachment, it’s clearly not an online form. Do you have a pdf form they have to fill in and send to you, or how does it work?

    2. rayray*

      People are used to a more straight-forward job application. I recently had one on Indeed so I clicked apply, but then saw that it wanted you to apply through their website. I did that, but also got a message from the job poster about it. When you’re applying to so many jobs, you get kinda used to a routine. Sometimes too, there are those jobs you apply for “why the hell not, I need SOMETHING”

      I get that it’s difficult to go through so many resumes, but as a hiring manager, it is your job to do so. If following instructions is such a big deal, why not just go forward with the ones that are following instructions and make it easier?

      1. Laika*

        It sounds like in theory the application as it’s described here is more simplified than over-complicated, but I agree with you here. I’ve been applying to a handful of jobs every day for the last while, and I’ll custom-tailor a cover letter and my resume for each one (and be careful to read the ad in case there’s different requirements). But some ads don’t have nearly enough information for me to do that, or are clearly being redirected through a third party site or recruiter that strips out some of that info, and I’ll apply to those with just a PDF resume and whatever else basic information they ask for. Definitely a “why the hell not” application.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      If you want applicants to spend that much time on an initial application, then you need to have a very compelling ad promising big salary, excellent culture, fabulous benefits, or something that separates yourself from the 100 other jobs they apply to. Right now, tech candidates are giving a few min to each application and they will give you the min unless you give them a reason to invest more time.
      I understand that you want employees that follow directions, but I’d save that for a second round of screening.

      1. TechWorker*


        Unless you are vastly oversubscribed with great candidates you cannot afford to make people do a technical exercise and a writing test before they’ve even had any contact with you. I’m not sure why you think not requiring a resume is a positive for candidates, the vast majority if not all will be applying to more than one job and thus already have one.

  73. Anon4Health*

    Is it weird to keep medical stuff vague if you have ongoing health issues?

    I have been having some mysterious health problems ever since I recovered from COVID back in April. This is apparently not uncommon. Some of the complications included making my cycles (I’m female) completely random, which contributed to me being vague about my health issues. I only had to take off 2 afternoons for doctors appointments May-June, so it wasn’t a ton of missed work.

    Now, on top of all of that, I appear to have accidentally gotten pregnant (see: totally messed up cycles. Apparently they also messed up BC). But it’s obviously medically complicated, and I’m going for lots of testing to see if this is a viable pregnancy (and, of course, nothing is known about pregnancy post-COVID).

    I’m not sharing details right now, but twice in the last week I’ve had scary symptoms that have sent me to the hospital. I’ve mentioned “needing tests at the hospital” and left it at that.

    I think the people I work with are worrying about me. I don’t want them to freak out, but honestly, *I* am freaked out! At the same time, I don’t want to explain what’s going on, because I might have to terminate the pregnancy for medical reasons, and I just don’t want to get into that discussion at work.

    So how vague can I be, and for how long? Being vague (“health stuff”) didn’t seem to bother folks until I said (“Sorry, I can’t make the meeting because my doctor says I need to go to the hospital ASAP for testing.”). I only mentioned the hospital because bailing on that meeting is not something I should do lightly.

    (For additional context: everyone is working remotely now, with no plans to change that for the foreseeable future. So I’m not disappearing from the office.)

    1. Nethwen*

      I guess it depends on the office, but as a manager, I would take “needing medical tests” as a valid excuse and not probe further. I might need to discuss with you how we’ll keep up coverage and other logistics, but I wouldn’t ask for more explanation. If I had to form a conclusion, I would say it sounds like you have cancer or another life-altering chronic illness and not expect an explanation. Then again, I know people can be nosy, so what I would do probably doesn’t help you.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. As someone who gets vague symptoms that could be life-threatening if they get worse or could be relatively benign normal stuff, I sympathize. The stress of deciding what to consult a doctor over (and is this a visit or portal-message concern?) and what to see if it clears up on it’s own is draining.

      1. Anon4Health*

        Yeah, my boss isn’t nosy, but it’s more my reports who started asking questions. I’ve been responding with “I’ll let you know how this impacts my availability, but for now, there may be some chunks of time where I may be suddenly unavailable. I’ll let you know, and even during those times I may be able to answer questions on Slack.”
        Basically, I’ve dodged “Oh no, what’s wrong?” sorts of questions a lot in the last week, and that feels weird.

    2. Colette*

      I’d probably say something like “Unfortunately, I’m still dealing with medical stuff as a result of COVID, so I’ve got a lot of appointments and tests, sometimes at short notice.”

    3. Miki*

      I agree that it makes sense to add the context that you are dealing with lingering effects of covid. Perhaps you could also say that the doctors are doing more tests because so much about recovery from covid is still unknown. It’s a really understandable source of anxiety, even without the added details of the pregnancy.

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through and glad you’re getting the care you need.

    4. Green Goose*

      When I was earlier in my pregnancy, I used Alison’s wording. “I have some medical stuff going on. I’m fine but it’s something that needs to be taken care of” and no one pushed for more information.

  74. Aria*

    This question is inspired by the earlier post. I have a colleague who prefers that emails, and all communications, be done in as flowery a manner as possible. When she is speaking she is often so vague about what the problem is that its difficult to understand what she’s saying. For example, yesterday she was trying to say that a certain change may impact low income customers more than high income ones, and important point, but said it as a 5-6 minute spiel about “we may seen on occasion that some of our customers who are living in certain situations may feel differently about the proposed change”. And I’m not making it vaguer because its public, thats literally how she said it.

    My question is how much do I cater to this. Yesterday my team asked her for something and she said it would come by COB – it did not. Others she worked with would not have even brought it up today, because she would be “sensitive” about it.

    I was deciding between Email A:

    Dear X,

    Thanks for jumping on the call yesterday! We spoke about getting Document A as it would be very useful for My Team to have it before we can start working on The Project. Would it be possible for us to get a timeline on when we would get it by?

    Thank you,


    AND Email B:

    Good Morning X,

    Would you be able to provide Document A for My Team as per our meeting yesterday?



    I went with a mix, but wanted to ask for the future. B would definitely be my style. It’s a straightforward request, we all agreed on it, if there is some problem let me know. And I definitely feel like its fine to ask for it today vs wait for it as its really holding things up! X and I are at the same level in different departments

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      The key to effective communication (all this is IMO, lol) is to learn to communicate in the language of the person you want to reach. I would tend to prefer email B as well, but there are people that definitely respond better to email A, and since the entire point of my email is to get a response, I would use email A with them. Some people need a bit of personal interaction thrown in (on Monday, how was your weekend, on Friday, have a good weekend, Happy Hump Day, etc), some people need a bit of grovelling, some people need you to depend on them. It’s all about finding the most efficient method of communication with each person. Yes, slightly manipulative, but everyone is feeling good and the work is getting done so. Once you look at it like finding the right key for each person, it become much easier to do.

    2. Nethwen*

      My style is to say something like, “I didn’t receive Document A that you said you would send yesterday. Can you check if it got lost in the mail? We can’t start our project until we receive it. Thanks.”

    3. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      These both seem to be saying the same thing? I don’t think either is too curt or too flowery.

    4. valentine*

      The trouble with A is it goes back a step and leaves everything in her power. I feel like it also increases the unknowns: (1) would it be possible (2) timeline.

      B would be great if it included the due date. To make it more flowery, you could add the “Thanks for jumping on the call!” at the end, so it’s a BLUF (bottom line up front).

      Your colleague isn’t doing flowery. She’s excessively watering down, like she has to depoliticize or remove controversy or radical ideas.

  75. AyeNon*

    Question for the group! I’m considering sharing an awful work experience with an Instagram account that is anonymously collecting and sharing stories from former employees in my field as a means to hold those employers accountable. I haven’t fully worked out how I’d go about sharing my experience, but I suspect that sharing my story might make me identifiable if I name my employer. Alternatively, I could leave my employers name out altogether, but I’d like other people to know/be aware that it was not an ideal environment to be in as a POC employee.

    Has anyone done something like this before? Are there legal implications?

    1. valentine*

      I wouldn’t risk it.

      Ideally, you wouldn’t use your device/account, or any obviously linked to you (SO’s). If they have a form to fill out and require an email, use a disposable email, if they require one.

      I don’t see a point in “shaming” without naming and what if someone who knows the story reports the company name or more identifiable details about you?

      If you weren’t the only POC, what about a Glassdoor review?

  76. CostAllTheThings*

    Leggings are not the same thing as pants and this doesn’t magically change just because you’re pregnant

    I’m having a horrible time finding work pants for my conservative office. I hate wearing dresses but it’s starting to look like I’ll spend all winter in them

    1. Leslie Nope*

      What’s the usual office attire? Business casual? Smart casual? Casual but conservative?

      I have some linen pants I love to wear in the summer that have a drawstring. Our office is more casual, but everyone wears long pants and people rarely wear sleeveless tops. I’m wondering if you could get away with some looser fitting pants (maybe not linen for the winter) and wear leggings or tights under them to keep from getting cold. That may not work for you usually dress for work, though…

    2. Green Goose*

      I’m pregnant and before Covid happened I was planning on doing one of the maternity clothes boxes. I’d recommend them for business clothes because you’d likely spend the same/more money on items you would only wear a few times. I don’t know if we’re allowed to post the company name, but it’s the box where you can wear the item as many times as you want and then return it when you are done and you don’t even need to wash the items.

      I only ended up not doing it because I started to show after SIP and ended up not needing to go into the office.

    3. valentine*

      Leggings are (U.S.) pants. Are you sure your dress code doesn’t allow a “growing an entirely new human” exception? Can you wear a tunic? (Assuming the issue is waist to thighs must be covered because of the sin of not having belt loops or a zipper.)

      1. fhqwhgads*

        My workplace wouldn’t accept leggings as “pants”. From a “is this work-attire” angle they’re more like “athletic wear”, or depending on how thin they are, they’re functionally closer to tights than pants.

  77. Issola*

    I have a question that really has me stymied and I could use advice.

    I have a coworker who has a few mental illnesses, some of which manifest in panic attacks. This isn’t me armchair diagnosing–she has mentioned it (not with super detailed details, but in specific terms, with references to her therapist, her psychiatrist, meds, etc.) more than once. I have no problem with this; while I’m not as free with details about my mental illness (which also includes anxiety that sometimes results in panic attacks, though mine is largely under control), I don’t think it’s something shameful that needs to be hidden. I’ve worked with her for nearly three years now, and like her a lot.

    For context, this is her first office job out of college and she’s in her mid twenties, and I’m in my late thirties, and we’re both women. I mention this not because I think it’s about age, but because I think the fact that she doesn’t have as much experience with office norms might be relevant. She knows about my anxiety, though not details. She has a manager (not my manager, different chain of command) who in my experience has been supportive of employees with all kinds of personal and medical issues/needs, and a mentor figure; I am fairly sure but not positive that they both know of her anxiety generally. I’m not her mentor, but she does sometimes ask me for advice, though not on this topic. So far so good; I’ve occasionally thought that it might be safer for her to be a little less free with the details because mental health stigma is very real, but she has not asked and I never wanted to suggest it because I didn’t want her to feel that I was judging or stigmatizing, and I’m not her boss or her mentor.

    Then Covid hit, and her anxiety very palpably took a turn for the worse. Which is understandable, since it has for basically everybody, even people without pre-existing anxiety disorders. I know my anxiety issues have ramped way up in the past four months.

    The issue is that she has started having panic attacks during phone meetings. When this happens she will begin losing track of the conversation, then her speech will start to get choppy and sort of… intense, and then she will start to gasp, hyperventilate, moan, cry, and sometimes scream (not at anyone and not even really in comprehensible words). I recognize this because my panic attacks tended to follow the same pattern, when I was having them more frequently, though when I noticed the symptoms beginning I would find some way to gracefully extricate myself as quickly as possible from the call (my pattern of symptoms was very similar to hers). This has happened in a couple meetings that I was in, and she’s in a lot more meetings without me than with me, including higher-stress ones, so I’m guessing it’s happening elsewhere. As far as I know everyone has been kind and understanding… but when I or someone else starts to notice the issue and try to give her a graceful out in the meeting, she refuses to take it. Part of her anxiety is, I think, related to feeling like she’s ‘slacking’ (she isn’t) and ‘can’t fall behind’ (she won’t), but it’s… well, concerning. I don’t know if her mentor or manager know; the nature of the work is that they are only occasionally in the same calls as her, and I don’t have any idea if this happens in their one-on-ones or only on higher pressure calls.

    Complicating matters further, she sometimes has to present to the C-Suite and her career track means that she will be needing to present to external clients from time to time.

    So, I don’t know what to do. I feel like the options are:

    – Nothing, let the chips fall where they may
    – Say something to her myself , though I’m not sure what (if y’all think I should say something, suggestions on what would be great)
    – Say something to her mentor or manager, without telling them what I know about her mental illness (protects her privacy, but ‘screaming and crying on the phone’ sounds much worse without that context).
    – Say something to her mentor or manager and mention the mental illness element, which I think would be fine if I knew for sure that they knew, but I don’t, I just think it’s highly likely. If they don’t, it seems it would be a significant invasion of her privacy.

    In conclusion: eek, help?

    1. Issola*

      I should also probably note that I have no idea whether she currently has any accommodations in place (nor should I, definitely not my business), just that I do know she’s getting professional treatment.

    2. Colette*

      This is a tough one. I’d lean towards saying something to her directly. “I noticed on yesterday’s call you seemed to be having a panic attack, but didn’t want to drop off the call. I wanted to make sure you know that it’s OK to take the time to deal with a medical issue like that.”

      I don’t love this wording, though.

      Maybe it is better to go to her manager and let her deal with it? “A couple of times Coworker has seemed to have panic attacks on our meetings – she starts gasping and hyperventilating, and is clearly not in a state to take the call, but she won’t drop off when we give her the option. I’m concerned about her health, but also what would happen if she were in a meeting with someone other than her colleagues”.

      I don’t love that either.

      1. Issola*

        Yeah, I don’t love any of the options either. I am slowly leaning towards “say something to Amy when she is not having a panic attack” (since as noted, during an attack, her coping mechanism is to insist that she’s fine when she clearly is not), but the phrasing is really difficult.

    3. ampersand*

      Maybe this is overstepping? I don’t know–I would feel extremely compelled to tell her she needs to get off the phone during a panic attack. I might also point out that it doesn’t look good for it to keep happening (I think whether you can/should say this depends on the type of relationship you have with her.) Long term, I think colleagues will be more understanding if she’s not on the calls than if she’s actively panicking on calls. The latter is extremely disruptive and potentially upsetting to others.

      I also suffer(ed) from panic attacks–under control now, thankfully–and, for me, certain associations could cause one. So having a panic attack while on the phone, for instance, would almost guarantee that I would have another one the next time I was on the phone. I would think it’s important to break that association early instead of letting it keep happening–obviously, this is her responsibility and not yours! But I would ask her to seriously rethink staying on calls. It’s helping no one.

      1. Issola*

        Yeah, I’m slowly leaning towards “say something when she’s not mid-panic attack,” since addressing it mid-attack (even in gentle ways like “Amy, if you need a minute, go for it”) results in her refusing to end the call and also getting worse. I’m just trying to figure out how to say it, because the role that she wants requires that she be on high-profile, high-pressure calls reliably. (She could move to a role with fewer high-profile calls, but she really wants the higher-profile job.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      You mean someone on a call is literally moaning and screaming and nobody asked her what’s wrong? Or she says “no, I’m fine” and they just go on with the call while she’s screaming?

      That isn’t kind or understanding. That is messed up.

      *Somebody* needs to tell her to mute herself or get off the call. That is just…

      That’s f-ed up on so many levels.

      1. Issola*

        No, of course it’s not that nobody is asking what’s wrong. Well, I guess they aren’t saying “Amy, are you having a mental health crisis?” in a call with twelve people in it, but as I noted, people are trying to give her ways out.

        She is usually the one running these calls, because he role is to be the one running the calls. She’s not an optional participant, she’s the call ‘owner.’

        I didn’t want to get into details because I’ve had panic attacks and having people describe them always feels objectifying, but since you asked: people are saying, “Amy, are you okay?” and in between sobs and aaaah-screams she says “yes keep going” and they say “We can pick this up later” and she says “no no I’m aaaah it’s better for me to uhh *sob* keep going,” and they say “Seriously, Amy, we can cancel this call or take it over, it’s all fine,” and she refuses.

        I’m not even sure whether someone else in the call (these are calls that she is often running or essential to, on Microsoft Teams, where it’s not possible for one attendee to pull the plug and make it stop) could do to stop it.

        Yes, it’s fucked up. Yes, it’s awful. But I literally don’t know what else to do about it, and being told “you’re not being kind or understanding” without information on how to pull the plug isn’t helping me or Amy. I can’t kick her off the call. And if I could, it’d hurt her career. She runs these calls. They are not optional to her job.

        1. Issola<