open thread – July 24-25, 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.

{ 1,191 comments… read them below }

  1. Programming Languages*

    People in tech, I need to learn some programming languages I don’t use at work so I can improve my resume/job search. What is the best way to do this, and to prove that I did it? Something like Coursera, where I will get a certificate I can publish to my LinkedIn? Just teach myself and start sifting through GitHub for things to contribute to? Another option?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Just my opinion, but Coursera may be nice for learning some stuff, but if I were hiring someone, I wouldn’t put too much stock in a Coursera certificate. I’ve gone through quite a number of online courses for languages, finished the courses, and not been able to program a single thing afterward in those languages.

      I definitely would link to your GitHub. Seeing the work you actually do and the contributions you actually make is much better for seeing practically what you can do, the approaches you take to solving problems, and how you collaborate with others.

      1. Phixlet*

        One github recommendation from a close friend who is currently hiring for Programmer positions: upload the various iterations of your projects so they can see how you troubleshoot and revise. It shows growth of skill and adaptive thinking, and it’s apparently pretty rare to see!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Maybe I’m being a bit naive here, but wouldn’t the GitHub pull requests show that?

          1. Mill Miker*

            Only if you developed the whole project on GitHub. Sometimes people take existing work and put it up just for the sake of job hunting. It’s also really easy to upload a project in a way that loses all the history, and easy to think the extra steps to preserve it aren’t worth the effort if it’s just to be a code sample.

            So it’s usually worth the reminder.

    2. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Udemy seems to have some good courses. I’ve been working through a Java course on there myself (while wondering all the while if I’ll ever “get it”, mind you).

    3. Scott*

      I like Udemy for courses personally. Learning on your own works as well. In my experience, being able to show you understand and can use the language with code samples and practical examples goes further than a certificate

      1. The Grey Lady*

        I agree with Scott. Don’t bother showing a certificate, it won’t do much for you. Instead, include samples and show what you can actually do.

    4. Pidgeot*

      Do a project in the language you’re trying to learn, and put it up on github/gitlab. As an interviewer, certificates tell me nothing about your ability to actually code. Practical experience is king in software.

    5. dealing with dragons*

      as a software engineer, I have a github dot com account that has my practice code in it, including my resume site. It shows you can take a project to completion and will let people see your code.

      For instance, when I was learning react my first project was just a lil avatar maker thing using an api. It’s a super simple example, but I literally got this job (product owner) because they saw I would do this.

    6. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I don’t really have thoughts on the best way to initially learn a language, but I definitely like your idea of sifting through GitHub for things to contribute to. While I don’t think it will hurt you any to put a certificate on your LinkedIn, being able to show your code being used (either merged into an existing GitHub project or your own project that you’ve shared – probably also on GitHub) would be a lot more valuable to me as the person who is evaluating candidates’ technical skills.

    7. LilPinkSock*

      When I hire for software development, practical experience matters more than a certificate. Show me what you have done and what you can do! (A certificate doesn’t hurt, but GitHub will probably get you farther)

    8. Coder von Frankenstein*

      The way I have done it is to use the new languages/technologies on personal side projects. This can be freelance work, but it’s often both more rewarding and more instructive to do something purely for fun. I learned object-oriented programming by hacking on multi-user dungeons (way way back in the day); I learned to use WordPress building a small business website for the dance studio I take lessons at; I learned ES6 Javascript by creating a combat simulator for my Dungeons and Dragons games.

      As for proving that you did it, you should expect to be asked to demonstrate your skills in a technical interview. If an employer of computer programmers doesn’t do this, it means they don’t know how to hire programmers and you should not work there.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        (P.S. The above should not be taken as a recommendation to use WordPress for building small business websites. It’s not that WordPress is bad, but it’s really designed for blogs, not businesses, and it is also rather long in the tooth at this point. In retrospect, I think both the studio and I would have been better served by using a more modern platform.)

      2. Programming Languages*

        I should have clarified better–I’m not a programmer, nor am I trying to be one. I’m trying to move to a higher-tech version of my field, which will require me to know code, but I won’t be writing it.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          If you don’t mind my asking… what are you going to do with your knowledge of code if you aren’t going to write it? Are you going to be reviewing it, or customizing it, or managing people who write it, or something else?

          1. Programming Languages*

            I’m a technical writer, so I’d be doing things like user guides, troubleshooting version control, etc.

            1. Coder von Frankenstein*

              Ah, I see. So you would be occasionally inspecting the code to get a better understanding of how the system works?

              In that case, I’ll second the recommendation to contribute to open-source projects on GitHub. That will give you practice reading and understanding other people’s code (which is a whole other skill from writing it), and will also give you something you can point to as a demonstration of your knowledge.

              (Also, you have my deepest respect. I have done just enough technical writing to know how bloody hard it is.)

            2. Mill Miker*

              Lot’s of open source projects are also looking for contributions in the form of documentation, so you could come at this problem in a more direct way.

              1. TechWorker*

                This is a great shout. If you can find something and understand it well enough to contribute that seems sensible.

                How much do technical writers generally need to read code vs reading other, non-user focussed docs and using the software?

                (The technical writers in my company do not touch code but they also are imo an underfunded department – I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with anyone that senior there and it shows)

      3. Anecdata*

        It doesn’t – companies can decide they aren’t sponsoring visas at all, or aren’t sponsoring visas for a particular position. Or that they’ll only sponsor visas for /truly extraordinary/ candidates, etc.

        (That’s why you’ll see a lot of applications ask “Are you authorized to work in the US?” or “Do you require sponsorship to remain authorized to work in the US?”. They’re allowed to take that into account).

        What they’re /not/ allowed to do is discriminate against people already authorized to work because of that person’s national origin; for example, hiring only natural-born citizens rather than naturalized citizens, or refusing to hire permanent residents.

      4. Spock*

        I really disagree with ” If an employer of computer programmers doesn’t do this, it means they don’t know how to hire programmers.” If you’re hiring a senior principal and your codebase is all in Ruby and they need to understand the ins and outs of Ruby, sure. But when I interview devs in general, I couldn’t care less if they haven’t actually used Java before even though that’s what our entire backend is written in. If they want to do the whiteboard interview in C++, more power to them and I might ask clarifying questions about the syntax As long as they know any object-oriented language, that’s good enough for me. I’m more interested in their ability to compose code clearly, think about edge cases, consider test cases, etc. It’s easier to teach Java syntax to someone with good skills than teach good skills to someone who knows Java. I’m tempted to say you’re the one who doesn’t know how to hire but I think you just don’t realize that not every programming job is the same.

        1. Windchime*

          Yep, this. I interviewed for a job years ago that wanted a sample project in T-SQL. I didn’t have access to a SQL server but I did have Access (ha!), so I did the project in Access. The goal was to show that I know how to code and that I know how to think, not that I knew a particular dialect. It worked; I got the job. Granted, it was a few years ago but I truly think that knowing a particular language is less important than knowing the fundamentals of *a* (programming) language.

      5. Old Geek*

        actually, your last statement only applies when based upon your years of experience in the particular compsci field that you are interviewing for. when i moved jobs after i had over 10+ years of experience, i would have been p.o.’d if the interviewer asked me to ‘perform’ in the interview. I realize that in today’s world, this sort of thing does happen quite often. Though, as an ‘old guy’ like me, if i cant verbally get it through to you as to my capabilities to help the interviewing company, then i dont want any part of your ‘company culture’. i have been on the ‘other end’ as the interviewer many times now, and to be honest, i want to know HOW you think, not what languages you know. Anyone can learn a new language in weeks, even if they arent competent in software design and coding. Rather than trying to prove you know a language, tell me how you’d go about solving a problem using your words. That i can use.

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      I love Bob Tabor – his lessons are easy to follow, he recognises that there are questions, reassures you he will get to it and does :)

    10. TechnicalWriter*

      I always take the new programming language as an online course from a local community college.

    11. ThePear8*

      I personally use Codecademy (I use free, not pro) to self-teach new languages outside of school. I think they do have certificates, but to echo what a couple of others on here have been saying, I think having experience matters more than being certified. I have a “skills” section on my resume where I list the programming languages I feel comfortable using, and I think that’s been a good way for interviewers to get a feel for my programming skillset at a glance. I don’t have a certificate that says “I learned C++ on Codecademy” but at least by putting it on my resume with a list of other languages I know, an interviewer can look at it go “oh ok she knows C++”
      I think an even better way to show that you know a language though is by doing a project in it. Doesn’t have to be big, even something small and simple I think speaks loads more to your abilities than a certificate will. I have some hackathon projects which are very unpolished, but I list a few on my resume and have them all on my website for interviewers to see, and they seem to really like that. I think actually putting it into practice and showing a concrete example of something you’ve made, even if small and unpolished, speaks loads more about your abilities and will impress people much more than a certificate saying you finished a free interactive lesson online.

    12. Roza*

      In many cases, the main hurdle will be passing a technical interview — so in a sense it doesn’t matter whether you’re taking an online course (with or without a certificate) or practicing with your own projects/contributing to open source, what’s important is picking a method that lines up well with how you learn, so that we people ask you to solve coding problems in front of them, you can.

      To the degree that you need resume lines to get to the point of a technical screen, I agree that contributing to open-source projects or developing your own as a volunteer activity is probably the best way.

    13. Thankful for AAM*

      Your local library might have access to for free. There are classes there for several languages.

    14. Fancy Owl*

      I made the mistake of using Coursera at first. If you do use it, don’t pay money for the assignments or certificates. They aren’t worth it. It was really frustrating because the videos would show you a few basic things but the assignments would require more complex code that required googling what you were trying to do and copying code snippets from Stack. It really pissed me off because I already knew how to cobble together code snippets I found on Stack, I wanted to take classes to learn what the best practices and conventions are so that I could become a more professional programmer. Also, the per review assignments can be very low quality. This was my experience taking Python and SQL classes.

  2. Diahann Carroll*

    Has anyone completed the Boston University MBA program through edX or know anyone who has? What did you/they think about it? Is it worthwhile to pursue? I know it ranked #48 in the top 50 business schools in the U.S. this year, but I’ve seen some comments online that say this program is useless and seems more like a watered down liberal arts degree than a true masters program. I’ve even seen some comments that say the iMBA from the University of Illinois is better. Has anyone completed this program? If so, what were your thoughts?

    1. AVP*

      I haven’t, but I have a friend who had a really good experience with the UMass online MBA program if you’re looking for another one to add to your research list.

      1. JustMyImagination*

        I went through the Isenburg program at UMASS. I thought it was really well done! Depending on where you are located they even have some satellite campuses that offer a class or two every semester so you can choose to take some classes in person.

        The professors had a variety of techniques they used to make the classes interactive so not every class was structured the same. Some even gave you options to do projects in groups or solo since they recognize that time zones and family obligations can make it hard to participate in groups.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Ohhhh, I like the idea of not having to do group lessons. For one, I hated them in high school (didn’t have them in college thankfully), and secondly, my schedule is abnormal due to my company being global and my occasional midnight meetings.

    2. Daria*

      It’s a pretty new program and I think they’re just taking their first cohort of students this fall. One thing that seems unique about it (which you may already know) is that the classes are designed around themes instead of content areas. So they don’t have classes in accounting or finance, for example. But those topics are supposed to be woven throughout and applied in the courses. I’m not sure if there are other business schools taking this approach, but they presented it as something new and unique they were doing when I heard about the program.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ahhh…I don’t know why I thought they started this program last year (I know I saw something about it on edX maybe back at the tail end of 2018). I do like the idea of thematic lessons, but I’m unsure how that would measure up against other programs that are all content area-based. It sounds like some critics of the thematic approach thinks it makes the program less competitive overall – I wonder how true that is.

  3. Dr. Cat*

    I have some questions for folks who have successfully transitioned out of academia.

    I recently finished my PhD in a STEM field, and am looking to get a job outside academia. Unfortunately, this means a large portion of the career advice I have gotten from my mentors and network for the academic job market is useless for the jobs I’m looking for. I’ve been looking at AAM’s advice on resumes and cover letters, but I need a little more help applying them to my situation.

    One thing I struggle with is figuring out how to present my time as a graduate student. My sense is that most people outside academia emphasize the “student” component of “graduate student.” However, my experience as a graduate student was that of a scientist – I conceived of, designed, carried out, analyzed, wrote up, and presented my own independent multi-year experiments for publication in scientific journals. I certainly learned a lot, but out of the six years I was a graduate student (the standard length of time to get a PhD in my field and location), I only took classes for two years, and even then, most of my time was dedicated to research. While one could argue that the focus of a graduate program is to help its students learn, it was a “throw them in the deep end to teach them how to swim” approach to learning.

    I’m especially having trouble reframing my “accomplishments” from academic ones – papers, grants, fellowships, and presentations – into ones that hiring managers care about that will help them understand my skillset. I’ve been steeped in academic culture for so long that this is proving to be an especially tough mindset to break.

    All of this is to say that I feel like my time as a graduate student was experience as a researcher, but I’m worried that hiring managers will perceive it as something more like a school project. Should I be concerned about this? Am I wrong about whether this “counts” as experience? How should I present myself to make the experience I have clear?

    1. NotMyRealName*

      What kind of jobs are you applying for? Depending on your field there can be a lot of industry jobs where they would know exactly how to look at your accomplishments. I often say that I wished my grad school had made us realize that there is life (and work) outside of academia because I probably wouldn’t have left my field for so many years.

      1. Dr. Cat*

        Oops, I’m realizing I should have put that in my original comment. I’m mainly looking at data analysis and statistics-focused jobs.

        I agree, it would have been nice to have a little more preparation in grad school for the possibility of leaving academia. Things are getting better and my university is now at least trying, but since all of the potential in-university advisors and mentors did choose to continue on academia, they don’t really even know what the other options are.

        1. kiltiekate*

          Consulting seems to really like the PhDs-gone-industry, especially for statistics. It may be a good stepping stone. I have also had friends who found startups that needed someone in the “well rounded and can think independently” category, which fits a PhD well. I live in the Bay Area though, so this may be more acceptable here.

          1. Consultant Catie*

            I was just going to come here to say this as well. I live in the DC area and a PhD in data analysis and stats are in high demand at many of the big firms here – especially if you’re able to get a clearance.

        2. NotMyRealName*

          So in my case, I got my MS a bunch of years ago in a cell bio based lab doing insect pathology and now I supervise contract research in livestock entomology. I do a lot of protocol review, report review and data analysis. The skills transfer.

        3. Fellow academic burnout*

          I finished my PhD in 2018 and also was not interested in academia. I’ve not seen in mentioned here, but govt is a great low stress alternative to academia with good pay and job security (not like private sector pay by you can’t win them all!). Not sure what your data skills look like but I’m a bioinframatian and got many offers from phara as well. Try to think outside the box (which it sounds like your doing), data science is very in vogue!

    2. Ama*

      What kind of jobs are you looking at? If you’re going into a STEM field that frequently hires or collaborates with academics (pharmaceutical R&D or nonprofit medical research funders come to mind), they are going to understand that you were doing real work as a researcher.

      In terms of reframing, can you think about talking about your research in terms of the skills you had to use to complete your projects? For example, if you had to manage undergrads or admin staff, if you collaborated with another institution and were in charge of coordinating planning meetings, if for your grants you had to submit deliverables in a timely manner or track your own budget, all those are things that will show people that you have the ability to manage projects and/or people, work with outside clients/vendors, and meet deadlines.

      1. Dr. Cat*

        I’m pretty burnt out on my specific field (there aren’t many industry jobs in it anyway), and I’m hoping to get a job in data analysis and statistics. I have a lot of experience working with large, messy datasets, which seems like a broadly applicable skill as well as being something I enjoy. I would really like to stay in one particular location, though, which means I’m willing to apply to a larger variety of job types.

        Thanks for your ideas on reframing — those are really good examples. I did do a lot of managing undergrads and serving on committees for my department, so it’s good to realize that I can present those skills as well.

        1. blackcat*

          I’d recommend working on an online portfolio. Is your research shareable? Did it involve code? If so, put your dissertation code on GitHub!

          Also, can you use LinkedIn or similar to reach out to alumni of your program? I guarantee that there are fellow PhDs from your program who have made the transition.

          Also, if you’ve done a lot of conference presentations and/or teaching, emphasizing your communication skills is helpful “Presented X work in front of Y people” sorts of stuff can go as a bullet point on a resume.

        2. A Person*

          Lots of experience working with large and messy datasets sounds really good for data analytics. I would suggest trying to find ways to present that which would be similar to if someone had those projects in a business. For example instead of
          * Dissertation on herding cats

          Perhaps something more like
          * Identified 3 key outcomes when herding cats analyzing 1 billion datapoints via CatSQL

          (Not the world’s greatest example, but hopefully you get the idea). The important thing to do is find what tools and programs you’ve already used that overlap with your field of interest and make it clear that you have experience using them for similar work. As someone who hires in analytics I’m going to be much more excited about a PhD person who can clearly articulate some deeper usage of tools and not just “oh hey I did have to occasionally run a few SQL queries”.

          I have a friend who came out of a STEM program into data science and she did a coding camp specifically geared towards that path. I get the sense of the programs being hit or miss, but it did give her a whole set of new code to demonstrate and her particular program specifically gave the PhDs in the program a chance to talk to / show off to companies hiring. The networking seemed pretty valuable. Might be something to look into.

    3. pancakes*

      I’m not sure it’s transferable, but I’m a lawyer and have that sort of stuff in an “Honors” section on my resume — law review, publications, a research assistant position to a fancy prof, a competitive stipend awarded in school. On one hand “honors” seems a bit old-fashioned or something, but I like that it maybe subtly encourages de-coupling these things from school. Maybe I’m being optimistic there, I don’t know! And old-fashioned tends to go over better in my industry than it does in others. I would love to see other suggestions about phrasing. This is very timely because I’m updating my resume right now.

    4. AnonPhD*

      I’m a PhD STEM researcher in industry and a hiring manager – experienced hires as well as new grads. You may be overthinking here. For a new grad papers, grants/fellowships, invited presentations *are* relevant accomplishments I care about. The ability to successfully design/execute experiments and communicate results/conclusions and recommendations is highly relevant. These indicate your technical expertise, which I want because I may not have it myself, and I don’t want to have to micromanage you. It is relevant experience.

      As for presenting yourself, in my workplace you would be asked to give a technical presentation, probably over your PhD work. It would be very similar to presentations given in an academic setting, and your level of experience would be clear.

      1. Dr. Cat*

        Thanks! It’s good to know that these things aren’t as academia-specific as I had worried that they are.

        I’m realizing that I should have included the types of jobs I’m looking for in my original comment, oops! I’m a bit burnt out on my field/research, and am hoping to find a role that is more data analysis/statistics-centered rather than a true research position. The overthinking probably comes from being worried over the variety of places I’m looking at applying to, many of which aren’t science-focused. Some advice I’ve been getting elsewhere has said that people outside academia don’t care at all about things like publications, but from what people are saying on here it sounds like there’s more nuance than that.

        1. AnonPhD*

          I would recommend emphasizing the portions of your projects that showcase your experience with data-analysis and statistics if those are the types of positions you are looking for. If you have several publications, specifically point out the ones that are analysis/statistics heavy. If you interview, consider being direct about what type of work you want to do.

          For what it’s worth, I rarely hire new PhDs that have research projects directly relevant to the projects I am currently running – certainly I look for highly transferable skills. My own PhD has nothing to do with my current industry. But do know how to read literature, teach myself new research areas, apply new knowledge to design experiments or discuss data, and make recommendations to help the business make decisions. That latter point is what you want to emphasize that you can do.

    5. Not that kind of doctor*

      Congrats on finishing! Transitioning to outside of academia is incredibly common (out of my STEM grad school cohort of about 40, I think 2 people are still in academia.)

      I think in resumes, most people emphasize the project management, research, and communication skills required to complete a PhD. You can emphasize that through bullet points on your resume (like, “coordinated a research collaboration among 3 groups that resulted in a publication,” “managed the budget and timeline for a $XX Y-year federal research grant,” “mentored X students with weekly one-on-one meetings”). From what I’ve seen, employers value PhDs because they are used to quickly reading & parsing a lot of dense research & can jump into unfamiliar projects. They can be concerned that PhDs lack people skills or knowledge of workplace norms, so phrasing your resume to show project management and collaboration experience helps with that. (Grants are also kind of similar to business proposals, so if you wrote a successful grant, that can definitely show skills in business development.)

      Your university should have resources on transitioning (like a career office with individual advising sessions and workshops). If they don’t, I highly recommend the site for examples of successful resumes and cover letters in whatever industry you want to transition to!

      Figuring out what industry you want to transition to is a whole thing in itself, and usually takes a lot of angst and soul-searching. Just in case you haven’t made a decision yet, the MyIDP resource provided by Science Careers is helpful!

      Good luck!

      1. Dr. Cat*

        Thanks, this is really helpful advice. I did manage undergraduate students, was president of a student association, and was a student member of a faculty committee, so it’s good to know that emphasizing the people skills from those will go a long way to strengthen my applications.

        I used the career office while I was a student, but only found it moderately useful — they had a single advisor for all of the graduate students across the university. You’re right, though, that I should see if they continue to offer services to alumni. Thanks for the recommendation for VersatilePhD! I hadn’t seen that one yet — ImaginePhD has also been useful, but is more focused on humanities.

        I’ve been wondering about putting budget information on my resume for a couple reasons. First, my advisor was weirdly cagey about budgets (the funding for my project wasn’t from a grant, so it wasn’t pre-budgeted), so I would say things like “this will cost $x, is that ok?” as things came up. I recognize that this wasn’t ideal, but it was the system I was given to work in. Second, the scale of the money is so different than industry that it might seem insignificant to hiring managers. For example, I had to write a grant-style application for a $2,400 research award. As president of a student association, I assessed and awarded travel grants to students, but the awards were $500 each. I did get an NSF fellowship (from a grant-ish-style application), but figuring out exactly how much money that translates to is complicated. Would it be better just to leave off the numbers?

        1. AnonPhD*

          Having written a successful grant-style application would be more relevant than the size of the award. Often new PhDs have never written a grant, and so may struggle a bit with project proposals at my workplace. So you’d look stronger having had that experience.

          Personally, I don’t expect new PhDs to have any real experience managing large budgets. Bonus points if you do, not an issue if you don’t. There will probably be a finance team that owns that and will help.

          1. Nesprin*

            Yep this is a thing. Writing a grant is a hell of a lot of work and writing a successful one requires outstanding communication skills.

        2. Aeryn Sun*

          I have a humanities PhD so I realize not the same but the best resources I found for the career transition were from the professional organization in my field (in my case, American Academy of Religion). There were members who were worked outside academia and could give good suggestions for fields that would translate, networking opportunities, etc. I’d also see if there are any alumni of your program (or alumni of related doctoral programs at your school) who are working in the kind of jobs you are looking at and contact them about the transition to non-academic jobs. I get contacted periodically by alumni of my school or graduate students working with professors I know to talk about transitioning out of academia.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Commenting to follow because my S.O. is in the exact same situation — although his resume is even weaker because all of his papers are still pending :(. He’s looking to move into basically the same field I’m in.

      I think your description of your research is very good — “I conceived of, designed, carried out, analyzed, wrote up, and presented my own independent multi-year experiments”. If your projects are discrete enough, you could break it down into projects and sub-projects under a heading of “Research Experience” or “Research Interests.” The good news is academia is very results-oriented so you just have to translate your method & results into short blurbs. For example:

      Research Experience
      – Warp Speed Transporter
      — Designed and built prototype transporter capable of beaming matter to target at warp speed
      — Demonstrated transport of inanimate objects from stationary target to starship moving at Warp 3
      – Intersecting Warp Fields
      — Wrote numerical integrator to simulate the intersecting warp fields of two starships maneuvering at high warp
      — Re-created Stardate 43235.1 incident: near-miss between Galaxy-class and Defiant-class starships

      etc etc. This may not work if your Master’s project led directly into your thesis. But that’s one big project you can just put it under “Doctoral Student Researcher” or something.

      PS Congratulations!!!

    7. BridgeNerdess*

      Congrats on your PhD! My husband is in academia and I have a MS, so I have some insight that might help.

      First, did you manage any MS or BS research assistants? If so, include that you “managed X number of students working on ABC research.” Next, what about scope, budget and schedule for your projects? My husband had to create his own testing and research plan, which included benchmarks for deliverables, undergrad research assistants, and overall budget. He was also responsible for making sure those things were met. Next, papers = technical writing and written communication skills. Presentations and dissertations = public speaking skills. List your papers and presentations. Last, there are often personality/political conflicts in academia. Any experience navigating conflicts? How did you deal with it?

      There is SO much good stuff you learn in academia, including self-managing time and results, and communication skills. It’s easy to focus on your technical research and forget about all of the other good stuff you learned along the way. Also, most institutions don’t help grads find real-world jobs so they remain focused on the academic side. Good luck!

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Congrats on the Ph.D! If you are looking at government, there are fellowships through various organizations like AAAS. Or look through USA jobs for positions that require your degree.

      Good luck.

    9. AnonScientist*

      Agreed with AnonPhD and NTKOD, plus I will add my experience:
      I did my Master’s in STEM, which I admit is a different degree, yet it was clear to those looking to hire me that they knew the difference between a course-only Master’s and one with a thesis. They wouldn’t accept a degree that was only course-work, as they wanted the research skills I had gained.

      If you are applying to jobs that require a minimum of a Master’s then I think you’ll do well, as they are looking for the skills that you have earned during your degree.

    10. wheels up on thirty*

      So, I’m a non-PhD who twice replaced PhDs in very well-paying analytics/statistics roles. My experience may be of use:

      What interviewers told me they were excited about was my previous experience as a product manager, and my questions, during whiteboard exercises, “what is this data for? what decision do you want to make with the data?” etc. This told them I’d have a more practical approach to the job as opposed to spending months and months just theorizing without getting nowhere like the academic folks before me.

      My suggestion is to highlight the projects you completed during your graduate studies, and develop a portfolio that show you can do (analysis reports with recommendations, regression models with the “so what” described). There is a ton of PhDs shifting toward data science roles, and by now companies have realized they don’t have what it takes to deliver value in business environments, so they will be paying attention to how well you can convert your knowlegde into practical deliverables.

      Good luck!

      1. Dr. Cat*

        Thanks! I definitely recognize that my PhD doesn’t necessarily make me more qualified than non-PhD’s for data analysis jobs, and I need to make sure any ego about it that I picked up from academic culture is kept in check. It’s more that I found data analysis to be one of the most enjoyable components of research — it would be exciting to get to apply it to other areas and make a career out of it.

        Thank you for the advice about making a portfolio! That sounds like a really useful way to show my skills, and a useful tool for potential employers. I think I need to check in about ownership of my dissertation datasets before I can put them in an online portfolio, though. Most of them aren’t published yet, but will be put on Dryad once they are. Until then, I don’t think it would be appropriate to post them publicly on GitHub. It would probably be fine in a private portfolio that I only send to potential employers — does that seem like a reasonable solution? I should probably work on some projects from public datasets just for a portfolio, too. Some of my early data wrangling was much more… roundabout… than what I would do these days.

        1. wheels up on thirty*

          Here’s how I solved the problem of proprietary datasets: I found a public dataset with similar data (there are tons of them out there, I used one in energy consumption and another on patient data) and reproduced as much as possible the work done in real life projects. Not everything can be replicated, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is showing hiring managers you can build a predictive model or answer business questions in a statistically sound way and present your results in a way that makes the findings actionable for non-quants.

        2. A Person*

          Projects from public datasets are great in a portfolio, especially if you can write up a small article or blog post on your “results”. That will show you can translate the technical into something business people can understand, which may not have been a focus during academic work.

    11. Roza*

      I went from social science academia to data analytics/stats. Echoing what some others said above, I found it useful to reframe my research efforts in logistics and concrete outcomes. Instead of focusing on the results themselves or implications for the academic field, I highlighted things like “designed, tested and fielded representative survey to x people”, “successfully wrote grant applications to fund $x (only z% applicants typically accepted)”, “hired, trained, and managed survey team of x people”, “analyzed results using y and z software/techniques”, “presented results at national conference z”, “on basis of research, made x recommendation to y nonprofit who changed z as a result”. That worked fairly well.

      One thing other bit of advice — this will vary a TON by company (some regularly hire PhDs, some don’t ), but one thing I found I had to be careful of was not overselling the degree to which my academic experience translated to the private sector. For hiring managers who have not worked with a lot of PhDs, I think there are a lot more transferable skills than people with strong stereotypes about “Ivory Tower academic” expect (especially, as folks have noted, around project and people management!), but at the same time there is definitely a learning curve for private sector jobs, and you risk coming off as naive if you don’t acknowledge that too. I went the route of starting with a relatively low-level role (brought in at the same level with people with only an MA, no work experience), but, due to my PhD experiences, moved up much more quickly than others did. Many other folks I know who made this transition had a similar path, so don’t be too put off by what might seem like an initial step down.

      As someone else who burned out on my discipline and never even bothered with the academic job market, I have to say that I love working in the private sector! Getting the first job outside of academia is hard, but worth it if you want to make the switch! Good luck!!

      1. Roza*

        One other thing — as you describe the methodological skills you have/use, make sure to translate them into whatever vernacular your desired job field uses. For example, what got called a randomized control trial in my academic field gets called an A/B test in my current field. Hiring managers (especially the HR types who often do initial resume screens) do not necessarily know that someone who can run an RCT can run an A/B test and will reject you as unqualified. I’m still amazed how much it seemed to matter!

      2. Dr. Cat*

        Thank you! Those examples for how to write about research in a way that concisely represents the accomplishments and skills involved are really useful!

        Yeah, finding the right balance between “this was work experience, not just school” and “but I realize that it was still quite different than the private sector” is tricky. Starting with a lower-level role does sound like a good route to go — it’s been difficult to figure out what jobs I’m qualified for, and that seems like a good way to get the hang of the private sector.

    12. Nesprin*

      “the professor is in” is the resource you want.

      On that note: I list myself as graduate student researcher for my time in PhD to emphasize that I was a researcher during that time frame.
      Publications are the marker of a successful project- so distilling the gist of paper X into an accomplishment- imagine you were explaining to your grandma why the work was important: (think – discovered principle of thing X, Optimized challenging protocol resulting in X, Engineered device to reduce testing time resulting in 8x improvement in throughput).
      Keep in mind that presenting/successful grant applications speak to ability to communicate the importance of your science.

    13. Cedrus Libani*

      I ran screaming out of academia before the ink was dry on my PhD thesis. I’m in industry now.

      To a first approximation, you had an entry level research job for around five years. Most people who might be in the market for a fresh PhD (or other researcher of similar experience) know this, but if they don’t, it’s your job to present what you have done. In a resume-style format, not a CV. Here’s what my grad school section looks like:

      Hershey Lab – University of Delicious (2011-2016)
      – Developed stochastic models of teapot melting, parameterized using technobabble. Work received first authorship in “Teapot Studies” and third authorship in “Chocolate”.
      – Directly quantified teapot melting with more technobabble that involved stochastic calculus. Wrote custom analysis pipelines in Python, R, and MATLAB.
      – Created publication-quality data visualizations using R’s ggplot2 and Illustrator.
      – Became local go-to person for statistics; work merited co-authorship on two papers from neighboring labs.

      It’s not a CV. The papers get a mention, but the focus is on my skills. Only a half-dozen people in the world care about chocolate teapots – and frankly, by the time I was finished, I wasn’t among them – but that wasn’t a deal breaker. I can deal with hideous time-series data and turn it into pretty pictures. Skills!

    14. Cassidy*

      >a large portion of the career advice I have gotten from my mentors and network for the academic job market is useless for the jobs I’m looking for.

      But their expertise is academics; that’s the context by which they’re going to advise. How can you expect otherwise?

      1. Dr. Cat*

        Yep! Just giving context for why I’m asking here and where my mindset is coming from — the advice from my network isn’t useful for the jobs I’m looking for, so I was looking to this forum for advice that is.

        Whether or not STEM graduate programs generally provide enough preparation to their students who want to leave academia is a different subject that, while I have strong opinions on, I’d rather not get into here.

  4. MrsH*

    I’m currently interviewing for a job that I’m very thrilled about. On paper it is a really great match to my experience, and it’s a role I’ve been yearning to get into as my next career move. I had my second interview yesterday, after completing a skills test. I felt really good about the interview and have a feeling I may be proceeding to the final stage. I’m now challenged by two things

    References – I only have one resource to act as a current reference to speak on my behalf – a former colleague that left the company I work for a couple of years ago. I’ve been at my current company for almost 5 years, and I’m not comfortable asking any current employees since we are a very small company with only 5 people in total. I simply don’t want to put my job search on display. Does it present a problem to give references I worked with in a previous job, when that would date back almost 6-7 years? They would only be able to speak about my character, on not the hard skills this new job requires, as those have primarily been developed in my current role.

    Final interview prep – I anticipate there will be one more interview with upper management. I’ve never been through that type of interview before. Any suggestions on how to prepare for that, and what type of questions are to be expected?

    1. JokeyJules*

      i can speak to some upper management interview questions
      in my experience they mainly focused on what type of employee and coworker i am, since thats what would have affected them most in their interactions with me.
      – what are my strengths and weaknesses
      – explain a conflict i had at work (what was the conflict, how did we resolve, what i might have done differently)
      – how comfortable i am working collaboratively (if that matters to the position).
      Questions like that. They have likely already established that you are qualified, just trying to see if you’re a good fit to the culture of the workplace as a whole.

    2. Betsy S*

      One thought – is there anyone you work with frequently at a customer or partner site who might be able to speak to your current job?
      Otherwise, the 5-year tenure does speak positively for your work. You might suggest that you can give a reference at your current company after you get an offer , make the offer contingent on verification.

      1. MrsH*

        While we collaborate a lot with certain outside vendors, I don’t feel like I have that level of relationship where they would feel like they can speak to how I work on a day to day basis. And not sure how comfortable I would be asking them – given I’m their client, that might put them in an awkward spot. There is one person I can think of, that I used to work with in my previous role, and she since then moved on to a company that we I worked with on a couple of occasions – so she has recent experience working directly with me. That might be a good option? But that’s only two references. I’m feeling maybe I should have at least 3 lined up?

        As an alternative route, per your suggestion, how would I delicately suggest getting an offer first, that would be contingent on references? And how do I tell my direct manager/boss about this? I have a good relationship with my boss, but I’m sure she would be utterly shocked about hearing I’m about to leave. I’m sure I would get a good reference, but, still, what if things fall trough for some reason after that. Gulp!

        I’m actually really worried about sharing the news with my boss, should I get offered the position. I’v committed so much time and effort to my current job, and she’s been a decent manager, so there is a level of guilt – like i’m abandoning ship without any forewarning.

        1. MissGirl*

          First of all, no guilt about leaving. This is business—you’re not the first person to leave nor the last. Second, I think your reference situation is quite common. I wouldn’t stress too much.

          1. MrsH*

            I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but there is emotional attachment when I’ve been there for several years coupled with being such a small and tight knit team. I’m sure things will go over well if it comes to it, but I’m definitely painting scenarios in my head around how to break the news.

        2. Mad Harry Crewe*

          I think starting with two and saying that they can talk to your current colleagues once you have an offer is very reasonable, and I wouldn’t expect it to present a huge barrier.

    3. Venus*

      Can you say that you would be willing to provide references from your current workplace if you are their final candidate? If they can provide you with a conditional offer based on current references, then you will provide them with current references conditional on the offer?

      1. MrsH*

        Right – I’ve heard this before, so I guess that is an option to take if they want a current reference.

    4. Goatgirl*

      I just had an “upper management” interview and it was the easiest of the bunch. He seemed more interested in chit-chat (how’s the weather where you are, etc) than hard core questions. He did ask a few real interview questions and gave me an overview of his work/team but it was pretty relaxed. I don’t know if I’m going to get an offer so I don’t know if this is good news or bad news, but it wasn’t scary at least. Good luck!

      1. MrsH*

        That’s reassuring. My initial feeling was that the stakes get higher as I progress. I understand only the most qualified make it that far, so if they are weighing different candidates against each other, I’m thinking it’s important to give a good impression on a more personal level. I’m probably going to practice interview answers even harder, so I can feel more confident if I reach the next step.

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

      With the “one more interview with upper management” — I’ve been in this position twice, and both times I found it the easiest interview as it was more of a “chat” to ratify and make sure of fit rather than any more detailed technical questions or things like that. (I’m in tech, so they were ‘CTO’ types, but I think this experience is more universal.)

      I didn’t prepare anything specially for the second/final interview with upper management because it’s such a broad remit: they won’t be asking you about details or minutiae of the job. They (generally) won’t be looking to catch you out. In my experience it was more of a ‘sanity check’ to see that the proposed new hire – that the hiring manager already proposed to upper management – was acceptable to them in some way.

      I was ultimately offered both jobs (at different times) after speaking to upper management but the interviews had these things in common, as I analyse/synthesise it:

      – …so I guess Hiring Manager X is excited about you and looking to hire you eh? Huh? Great! Our current problems are A, B, and C. How do you feel about that? Could you resolve A, B and C given the gaps in your knowledge that you expressed at the first interview? (….etc)
      – Well, H.M.X thought you were great in all of these things but after talking we had a couple of concerns about A and B. Can you talk a bit more about that?

      I take the view (but feel free to disregard it) that although “upper management” are (or would be) ‘above’ you in the hierarchy, they are still just people in the company carrying out their own role and trying to hire in the person best suited for the job, and generally not looking to catch you out.

      In other words…. people are seeking to confirm their own hypothesis most of the time. (i.e. if they are already inclined towards hiring you… then you just need to make the appropriate moves.)

      1. MrsH*

        Thank you – this give me some fodder for preparing in advance of that interview, would I make it that far. I feel a bit more reassured.

  5. Is LinkedIn "spying" a thing?*

    I have my LinkedIn set to “only recruiters can view” the fact that I’m open to jobs. My company is not currently hiring. Yet, almost every week, my company shows up in the list of companies under the “number of times your profile appeared in search results” list, and the keywords they’ve searched includes my job title. Is it common for companies to have their recruiters keep tabs on employees like this?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You’d think the algorithm would be smart enough to exclude recruiters from the company you’re currently at.

      That said, even if that’s the case, I believe everyone’s LinkedIn profiles are available in search results. That doesn’t mean everyone’s full profile can be viewed, though. I could be wrong.

    2. dealing with dragons*

      we opened a req for someone on my team and LinkedIn tells me I have a lot of connections here and I should ask someone for a referral

    3. Ali G*

      This happened (and still does with one ex-employer) all the time. Anon Ed is right, if they are searching on key words, your profile might show up, but I don’t know if they can see if you are looking or not.

    4. pancakes*

      I’m wondering whether some of the search queries might be automatically generated, the way people & companies set up google alerts for their name, competitors, or other topics? I can see a big company routinely running a report to see all of its connections and focusing on the new ones, just to keep an eye on things.

    5. COLimey*

      Yes you can show up in your companies own searches.
      Also, some managers do keep an eye on their employees LinkedIn. If you suddenly update it, that’s a sign.
      Watch out using recruiters too, or even signalling that you’re open. Some unscrupulous recruiters will contact your existing manager and try and fill the job you’re still in!

      However, luckily a lot of managers see their employees as looking for a new job as a totally normal thing that happens. Very much a case of “know your company”

      Good luck!

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

      I’ve been contacted by different recruitement agencies trying to fill… my current position. Clearly they run a basic search such as “PHP Developer living near Teapots Systems HQ” and spam them. One of this days I’m going to ask them if they can get me a 20% salary bump.
      (I also don’t accept LinkedIn requests from current workmates or work acquiantances, but that’s another story)

  6. Grasshopper or Job Hopper?*

    Over the past 10 years I’ve held five jobs in the same field lasting 1 year and a few months each except for one stint that lasted two years and a few months. I’ve had career counselors say my resume seems “job hoppy” and hiring managers might see me as a flight risk. I have been advised to stay at my current gig for three to five years. I am wondering if my job history is truly a case of job hopping (bad) or a narrowing of professional focus (good) that makes logical sense.

    Let’s say I work in the field of digital llamas. Since 2010, I’ve held generalist positions in digital llama content management, llama digital marketing, llama digital project management, and have led some big projects such as llama website redesigns for llama nonprofits and trade associations. After all of that, I am now at a point where I know what I like and don’t like and what I am good at and what I am not.

    I want to narrow my focus and be a digital llama content strategist because I feel that writing and wrangling llama digital content is the niche that I am strongest and have most interest and passion (having done the work in past roles, reading lots of books, blogs and Medium articles, and following Twitter accounts of experts and influencers in the niche) over the past decade in the field.

    My current gig is a generalist position focused mostly on digital llama marketing and production. Although I can do the work, I know in my gut this isn’t what I want to focus on. I took this job initially because I wanted to sharpen and develop these skills. Plus the pay was very good and the benefits are top notch. After this experience, I realize I want to specialize in a different niche.

    There is very little room for me to do content at my current job. Much of my responsibilities are very labor and time intensive. I have little time, energy and opportunity to expand my scope to include content in my job duties.

    1) Should I stay a couple more years at my current job? Or OK to seek opportunities in the niche where I want to be?

    2) Is my “narrowing my focus story” a compelling enough narrative to dispel job hopping perceptions in an interview?

    Thanks for any advice and feedback. I am especially interested in hiring manager perspectives.

    1. R*

      It will be industry specific, but on the face of it, yes, it does read as job-hoppy. As a hiring manager, I would be concerned. Due to the time it takes to get company-specific knowledge, I generally see the first year of employment as a time period where I’m paying for a full year of work but probably only getting 75% of the work of a similar person with company specific knowledge. As a result I wouldn’t be impressed with someone who regularly changed roles at just over a year. You couldn’t contribute fully because you were still getting up to speed, and then you left.

      1. Old Geek*

        “R” is exactly right. I’m in high tech, and during the boom years, job-hopping was definitely commonplace. in fact, if you lasted much more than 2-3 years at a given company, people would assume you were either ‘lazy’ or ‘stale’. of course, times have changed and thats far from the case now. different jobs every 18 months or so would be a ‘huge’ red flag for me and our hiring staff. as was stated, ramp and lead team for a new employee to be fully productive is at LEAST 6 months if not a year. and thats for someone experienced in the industry. New college grads are seldom very useful under a years time. But as “R” said, its defnitely industry specific.

    2. CTT*

      Are these five jobs at different companies? If that’s the case, even if presented as “narrowing your focus,” I would still be concerned that you were a job hopper. The worst reading of this is that you are constantly re-evaluating what you want to do as you get to each new job rather than looking at a new opportunity and considering how it matches your long-term goals.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        The worst reading of this is that you are constantly re-evaluating what you want to do as you get to each new job rather than looking at a new opportunity and considering how it matches your long-term goals.

        This is a good point.

    3. TeamLeader*

      1) It does seem pretty job-hoppy. If I was looking at your resume for my team, you wouldn’t be my immediate first choice as I honestly wouldn’t expect you to stay very long. How long you need to stay in your current job also somewhat depends on where the longer 2+ year stint is. Is it at the beginning of the 10-years? the middle? the job immediately before the current one? If it’s in the beginning, I’d probably see if you can make this current job work for 5ish years. If it’s more the middle, I think you need to try to hit the 3.5-4 year mark for your current job. If it’s the one immediately prior, I would say try to get to 2-2.5 in your current before moving. That at least shows a pattern of starting to move to longer stays.
      2) I think the narrowing focus is a good story but it doesn’t completely discount the short-term stays or potential risk I’d feel in hiring you. I’d be willing to overlook that more if I really felt your long-term goals aligned with what I needed/my team did. But if it’s somewhat not aligned, it’s going to be another mark against you for a reason I wouldn’t think you’re a long term hire. So you should be REALLY strategic in your next move to make sure it’s something in-line with your long term goals. And if you get there and find out it isn’t, you still need to stay for at least 3 years to help counter your past hoppy-history. So pick carefully.

    4. Kimmybear*

      Since you mentioned non-profits and associations, I will say that those are in particular types of orgs where you see 1-2 year terms at the entry level but much longer stints (5+ years) as you rise in the ranks. You also have only experienced the annual cycle once in each role which gives you time to learn it but not use that information to reflect and improve. For example, you’ve only been through the annual conference or end of the year membership/fundraising drive once in each role.

    5. Quinalla*

      Unfortunately, I agree it does sounds like job hopping and is how I would perceive it. If you want to narrow your focus, I do think your story would help dispel some of that, but even so with all those stays of around a year, I would be hesitant to hire you. We did hire someone with a similar resume and she left us after about 8 months and we were kicking ourselves for overriding our instincts on the job hopping and frankly we didn’t ask her about it either.

    6. AVP*

      Hmm yeah, I have a lot of hiring experience in content, production, and strategy, and currently I’m the first resume-reader in my company, so I’m the person who would be deciding to call you for a phone screen and then passing you on to my boss for a full interview (or not). Frankly, I’d be worried about your history.

      This is a field where of people are jumping around a lot, so it’s not uncommon to see a history like this, and not a complete deal-breaker. But it doesn’t work in your favor, and will knock you out for more competitive jobs – and in this market, basically everything is competitive. So I’d focus more on networking if you can, or looking for side clients and volunteer positions that could lead to FT work (if you have the bandwidth for that). You don’t mention how long you’ve already been in your current position, but I’d try to get to at least two years minimum, wait out the pandemic unemployment crush, and then send out a few test applications just to see what happens.

      I think the narrative is compelling enough, but the trick for you will be to get through the door into a conversation where you can make a case for it.

    7. BridgeNerdess*

      I agree with the previous replies. I’m sure it’s industry specific, but if we received a resume with 5 jobs in 10 years and 2 years was the longest stint at any place, we would assume you won’t stay more than a year and probably wouldn’t even extend a phone interview. Training takes too long to invest in someone who looks like a flight risk after 1.5 years. It’s probably worth sticking it out to at least 3 years. Sorry.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      Isn’t this kind of thing normal in marketing? Marketing folks, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve known quite a few people in marketing (and advertising) who have had your type of experience. Once they figured out their niche interest, they had no major problems finding a job in the specialization of their choice.

      That being said, I don’t know if that was because they were also master networkers with fantastic reputations or if it was just plain dumb luck that landed them their gigs. I will say, though, that if you do decide to leave this position, you absolutely should stay in your next one for a few years (ideally five) in the event that this kind of job hopping isn’t really normal in your field.

      1. Allie*

        I think this does really vary depending on the industry. In mine I would say that changing jobs every 1-2 years, as long as your were progressing and had a good reputation and were getting good jobs, would be normal. Just to double check I just looked through the LinkedIn profiles of a few people in pretty good positions right now (turned on my privacy settings) and there’s a mix, but the longest anyone was at a company was 3 years. Some people definitely spent a year at each comapnies, and the list of companies they’ve worked at is all impressive.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That’s kind of what I thought – that the company names may have helped override employers’ concern about the short stints. If you were someone who did marketing for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. and hopped between them every two years, I don’t think many companies would toss that resume since those are some pretty big names.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I come from the marketing/brand/creative world and hopping is a lot more normal than in other industries. In my experience, staying more than a few years can even work against you. However, OP probably has, what, 6-7 jobs in 10 years? That’s pushing it a bit. 1-2 year stints are normal, but when the average is closer to 1 than 2 it gets a little more precarious.

        Still worth applying to jobs now, applying does hurt anything (except your time and ego). But getting another 2-year block on the resume might be helpful.

    9. Annony*

      Ten years is an awfully long time to narrow your focus. I would be concerned that it’s a case of “the grass is always greener” and although you say now that you know what you want to do, that you would change your mind after a year on the job. You would probably be a more appealing candidate if you stay longer at this job. However, if 1-2 year stints is normal in your industry then I don’t see a problem.

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      My resume looks similar to yours, and I have been a hiring manager. Whether it’s a yellow flag, red flag, or no flag at all is too context-dependent for my (in a different sector) to comment on.

      However! Even if it does look job-hoppy right now, why not apply for jobs that allow you to do what you want to? If you don’t move further in the process because of it, you’ve lost little, if you make it to an interview, you can describe how your path has helped you and has the potential to help the company… and if you get hired, you can plan to stay in the new job 3+ years. In the meantime, your tenure at your current job only gets longer, not shorter.

    11. 9to4ever*

      It completely depends on the industry. I worked an agency and no one would have blinked at 1-2 year stints, even switching roles. At a brand where the average employee has been there for a decade, yeah, that would have been a big red flag.

    12. MissGirl*

      All you can do is apply. If it’s a problem, you won’t get a job and you’ll end up at your company longer and it’ll solve itself. If it’s not a problem, then yay. I would focus your cover letter on why this position is one you’ll excel at and why you’re applying.

    13. AcademiaNut*

      One way to check this for your industry is to look at the resumes of people in the positions you aspire to, to see what is normal. If it’s a field where a year or two at a job and a variety of positions is a standard career path, you’ll see it come up regularly. But keep in mind that one or two short term jobs at the beginning of a career is different than five in a row, and 2-3 years at a job is quite different than just over one.

      If it’s not standard, and it isn’t for most fields, then it’s going to come across as job hoppy, and the “narrowing my focus” narrative isn’t going to help much. To be blunt, it could easily come across as you being easily bored, and bailing on jobs when the novelty wears off. And that’s assuming you get to the interview stage where you can explain. In that case, you have two options. Stay in your current job for a few more years, do your best to keep other skills fresh, and then start looking. Or, keep applying, knowing that 1) you’ll likely not be considered for the better managed jobs due to the job hopping and 2) even if you end up in a bad job, you’re going to have to stick that one out for years, because 7 jobs in 12 years is going to be a harder sell than what you’ve got now.

    14. Mavis*

      There’s more to it than just the work you do.

      The one year mark is when a lot of work ethic and/or interpersonal issues may start leading to big performance red flags and pips.

  7. Ugh.*

    What do you do when you are expected to be in direct competition with a coworker, constantly?

    I don’t mean that this is a stated expectation from leadership. But I’m the only person at my company with a counterpart. Everyone else is alone in their role, save for a group of 15 people with the the same title as each other. (A large group feels very different from a group of two.) My counterpart and I are naturally compared constantly. Our shared supervisor works very hard to keep our access to new projects and time with him equal, but there is still an undercurrent of needing to out-do the other person. Other staff comment on our similarities and dissimilaries, and it feels like we’re joined at the hip for all of our tasks.

    It is also challenging because while we are evenly matched with skill and output, my counterpart is more sociable and out going. We just published a project we worked on together and have been getting praise from everyone in the company: I’ve been responding to people one-on-one, while he sent out a long staff-wide thank you email. In large groups, I tend to let other people take charge while I orchestrate from behind the scenes, while he puts himself front and center. The examples could go on and on.

    I’ve looked up advice for how to stop feeling competitive with or jealous of a coworker, and I’ve tried to just let things go and celebrate in his successes with him. I think I’ve done a great job with that, actually. But that doesn’t help with the omnipresent feeling that we are being pushed against each other. I just want to be judged on my own merits, not against his!

    1. WellRed*

      “when you are expected to be in direct competition with a coworker, constantly?”

      From y0ur post, I’m not clear on whether this is an actual work expectation or and an expectation you have of yourself.

      1. Ugh.*

        Bit of both! It’s never overtly stated by leadership, but I get the feeling anyway. And we are the only people in our department, so by default we are in competition with each other for any advancement opportunities.

        But I fully admit that a lot of it is in my own head. The thing with that is that it still has very real consequences.

    2. Quinalla*

      I know what you mean. In my small regional office, there is one other person who generally gets assigned the same kind of design tasks as me and he and I are the only ones in our small group like that. There is just some general weirdness and feeling that I need to make sure I’m at least on par or maybe looking a little better than him. There is no competition there, but there have been times when we’ve both wanted some assignment and one of us had to give in and it is tough. Generally we support each other and all that, but yeah there is a weird feeling there. Mostly, I try to acknowledge the feeling internally and then let it go.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      May or may not help in your setting, but what I have done is look for ways to distinguish myself.

      Take on a project that cohorts don’t want to do.

      Come up with a very thoughtful idea for a project or for streamlining the work. You could also see if you can find some cost saving ideas.

      Express interest to the boss about something that is different or new and ask if you can try it/do it/other applicable question.

      Make sure what ever you come up with along these lines is VERY well thought out. If I had a new idea I would test it first before showing anyone- I didn’t want to look foolish. The goal here is to look like the quiet thinker.

      In the same vein of quiet thinker, you can also get yourself known as the person who really listens to people and their concerns. In a one-on-one conversation some one says, “We’ve been doing X and I am concerned. I think we should be doing X plus Y, each time we do X.” Here, I would look into this further find a strong answer from a good source and get back to the person. “Ya know, I was thinking about what you said with doing X plus Y so I looked into it, here’s what I found [blah, blah]. So in light of this, I talked to the boss and we will be doing [blah, blah, blah].” Keep doing this. Slowly it will go around, “Go talk to Ugh. They really listen to what you are saying.” It gets noticed. It takes time, though.

      I tend to think that once you pick a course of action for yourself, the competitive feelings will die back on their own.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I agree with all of this, especially the advice to find your own projects that will make you stand out, OP. I’ve done this throughout my career (and especially in my current role), and I was able to transition into a more strategic-level position because of it.

    4. Yeah_I know*

      I’ve had this happen occasionally, since I worked on a team of several people doing the same tasks. I’ve even had coworkers question me with, “Carol got this done in two hours, why aren’t you done yet?” Which, could make anyone feel competitive or defensive.

      I would just explain that everyone on our team had their strengths. Mine was layout, I’m really good at it. Carol was amazing at recoloring photos. And while I certainly could and would recolor the photos, I was never going to beat Carol’s speed.

      Another option is to use it as motivation. That won’t always work. Carol is better at recoloring in part because I loath it, so I’ve built my skills elsewhere. I was never going to compete to be better.

      But, at my current job my counterpart is also *really* good at layout. And I use it as motivation to keep improving. No one is really comparing us, not openly anyway, but it keeps me from getting complacent.

    5. anon here*

      Hey, I relate! My ‘office nemesis’ and I take very different approaches but are tasked with responsibility for the same outcome, essentially. He’s a guy who can chat about his old place in Vail and swap stock tips with the good old boys running our company, as well as chatting about whether he should get a boat for his lakeside place; I’m a woman who has never been downhill skiing and has recently worked up to this high-paid job from a very low-paid background, and I still live in the same inner-city house I’ve been in for much of my adult life (which I love, because I can walk to great food and ethnic groceries of many kinds). No one gives me stock tips.

      1. anon here*

        Argh! Don’t know why that posted. Anyhow, I recently got Laura Huang’s book “Edge” and it’s about using the advantages that you personally have to shine, even when the advantages you have may be seen as disadvantages from other angles. I haven’t finished the book, but I like the beginning. Lesson one: hard work matters, but it does not speak for itself. You need the *perception* of excellence as well. She talks explicitly about managing other people’s perception of you and your work. I’m taking notes & trying to figure out how to apply it, because my ‘office nemesis’ (we get on alright) has the benefits of culture behind him but I have other benefits that are crucial to the company and should not be overlooked.

    6. Alianora*

      I had a kind of similar situation – my coworker and I are the only two people on our team in our specific role. At first, I think people did see it as a bit of a competition. I didn’t go in with that attitude, but we were compared pretty often especially since we are very different personality-wise (though both professional and competent.) I think both of us felt the pressure to be better than the other person. And we did have some communication issues at the start. I consider myself more task-oriented and straightforward, while my coworker is more people-oriented and uses more of a roundabout communication style. So our approaches were very different and we didn’t always understand what the other person was trying to communicate.

      Since our work overlaps so much, we started having regular meetings, and it’s nice because we can talk as people, not just about work. We learned how to talk to each other effectively. Working on projects together also helped a lot. I started giving her compliments and crediting her publicly for the work she does, and she does the same for me. That goes a long way towards presenting us to the rest of our coworkers as a team instead of competitors. And we present new ideas together. I think showing ourselves as a united front has been really helpful in getting that feeling of being compared to go away.

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

      We just published a project we worked on together and have been getting praise from everyone in the company: I’ve been responding to people one-on-one, while he sent out a long staff-wide thank you email.

      Do you and your co-worker always collaborate in this way or is this more of an exceptional event and usually you work independently from each other?

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      I am very outgoing but I also get the same feeling about one specific coworker whose skill set and mine overlap, we even have the same, unrelated to our jobs, degree. So this happens even when someone is more outgoing.

      I decided to focus on quietly doing an excellent job and on taking on any project that would distinguish me from the other person. It seems to have worked for me.

  8. Avengers Assemble*

    I’ve been furloughed for a couple months, hoping it was temporary with Covid but both situations are lasting longer than I’d hoped for. I’ve started job searching in the last couple weeks, or at least tried to. Nearly every time I’ve sat down at my computer to go through job openings, I start crying.

    I thought I’d been handling all the virus chaos fairly well but job searching has pushed me over the edge. It’s a mix of not wanting to leave my company because I’m enjoying my job for once in my life and the fear of how I will ever find a new job in this climate of businesses trying to keep their head above water. I know I need to get my head on straight and just get into job searching but I fall apart when I try to actually do the work.

    Anyone else dealing with this uncertainty and anxiety yanking the rug out from under you?

    1. IsItOverYet?*

      Yup. Watching the numbers in my state tick back up – feeling exhausted again after a slight bit of hope when my state was stable for a month – and feeling very worried about all of our futures.
      Hang in there and best wishes for your job search.

    2. MissGirl*

      I understand the up and down. My job is reliant on hospital budgets so every time hospital numbers go up, I’m stressed on two levels—health and career. My advice is don’t fight the crying and the freaking out. Name the emotion, acknowledge it, and keep on. If you sit down and start crying as you look at jobs, just look at jobs while you’re crying.

      Also, make sure you’re doing something daily that feeds you. Set a certain amount of time to job hunt, be 100% focused on that, and then set it aside. That way you’re not constantly swimming in those high stress feelings.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Professional worrier here.
      Self talk is important. And fear is also important.
      Fear is there to help us stay on track and do what we have to do to help ourselves.
      When the self-talk feeds the fear this is a problem. Make yourself tell your worry-brain, “I will get this! I will figure something out here!”
      I know the logic does not sound strong in this affirmation. It doesn’t have to. Fear is not always logical. Fear can take on a life of its own and really run amok. You can slow it down by putting the brakes on, “No! *I* am in charge here. I will get myself to a better spot.”

      Cut back on media, add in more talk time with friends and family who are known to be supportive of your endeavors.

      From what little I know about you, I can see that you had enough going on to nail this good job. You are still you. You still have enough going on to nail another good job.

      And the easiest way to get yourself to stop crying, is to tell yourself “It’s okay to cry. This is sad.” If we try to fight the tears, it just becomes a long drawn out thing. Tell yourself that it’s okay to be sad about losing this job.

      I wish you the best. You can do this.

    4. Quinalla*

      Not in the same position, but yeah, I’ve definitely had some rough days where I just felt overwhelmed with worry and anxiety. Be gentle with yourself, but also try and do at least one or two tasks a day (very small ones are fine like got out of bed and got dressed!) so you can feel you progressed a bit and let that be enough on the rough days.

    5. Yeah_I know*

      I hear you. My company has brought me back, but it’s VERY part time. I almost had a panic attack the first time I tried looking for work.

      I’m in a similar spot too, because I’ve been job searching for *years* while working a job I didn’t enjoy. Finally found one I love and covid hits. It felt cruel.

      Today I found a possible job at another company I think I might really enjoy working at. And I definitely have the work experience for it. But the idea of not getting to work at *my* company anymore just made me sick.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I’ve recently started job searching after 18 years of self-employment. I have a LOT of feelings (and tears) about this difficult process, my employability, and this new reality. Until now I’ve done pretty well during the shutdown, my life hasn’t been super affected, but I’m sure a lot of my “job” feelings are really coronavirus/grief/anxiety feelings. All of that is getting redirected and comes leaking out when I think about job stuff.

    7. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Do you still have access to EAP through your employer? If so, doing a few sessions of therapy could help you work through this and get you to a better place for job searching.

    8. Cassidy*

      I don’t know how you feel about vaccines, but something to keep in mind is that we seem to be getting closer to there one being developed. That’s key to opening the economy.

      Maybe you could set daily goals, like one one job search a day, and two if you’re up to it. I’m sorry you’re in this particular boat. Just keep on trying. You’ll get there.

    9. CSmithy*

      I don’t know if this helps, but just remember there are still companies hiring (mine is, for example, and even the basically broke company I left is still posting job listings). I guess it depends on what you do, but as we figure out how to navigate this state of the world, more companies will start to focus on growth again.

      Very best of luck to you. <3

  9. Stressed*

    How are other working parents going to Manage school this year if your kids school is remote? My kids school requires 8-3 online with some breaks, but I can’t manage working and helping with school.

    1. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I’m hoping for another COVID sick time allowance from the feds. I managed to put in 40 hours the first month while also overseeing school for 1 child, but it was so stressful. I then dropped to 35 hours per week, using approx an hour per day of the sick time. I don’t know how else I can do it. I have coworkers who have dropped to par time indefinitely, but I’m the primary breadwinner and I can’t do that. Honestly, I’m trying not to think about it because it’s too overwhelming.

      1. pancakes*

        Write to your representatives and ask them to lead the way on this! Send them an email saying just what you’ve said here.

        1. Reba*

          Yes! I’m really concerned that the people in charge at all levels do not seem to be dealing with the childcare question (including school) with the level of urgency it demands.

          I don’t have kids but I know it’s bad out there. And I’m looking at the long term impacts on families and especially women AND all these kids and thinking, this is really consequential! We need a plan!

        2. Grapey*

          +1, and make sure your wording is clear about the first line of the comment. Without that, it could be ammo for opening schools.

          The real pressure should be sent up to government, not sideways onto teachers and fellow students who are avoiding exposure just as much as office workers.

    2. Summer Anon*

      I hear you 100%.
      Fortunately I am working from home until the end of the year, at least, and if needed can help my child a little. Thankfully he is older and I hope little guidance is needed from me.
      We have an odd circumstance and my child can only do remote school. I am stressed to the hills! I did find a local facebook group where families are forming pods to help each other out. Maybe you have something like this?
      I have had the conversation with my manager and they and my company are VERY aware and supportive of this situation with me and everyone else.

    3. Kimmybear*

      Was just in a meeting discussing this. It really depends on how old your kid is and who your kid is. Kindergarten is very different than high school. Are they a kid that needs constant direction or can be left to follow along? Can you get a grandparent or college student that is also taking online classes to come help out? Can you flex your work schedule and work 3-10pm? Does the school have to be synchronous or is that an assumption many of us are making because we have no concrete information? All I can say is good luck to everyone. The teachers, students, administrators and parents are all doing their best but unfortunately it still is just a rotten situation.

    4. This Old House*

      I have no idea. We’re hoping for at least part-time in class. Community spread is low enough here that I think it would be reasonable. My toddler will go to daycare whenever my oldest is in school, and for the rest of the time . . . we’ll half-a$$ work and parenting like we’ve been doing? Maybe send the older one to my parents’ house? They’re not old enough to be in the very highest risk category, but they’re not young enough to be low-risk either. We’ve thought about hiring a babysitter to watch them at home while we work, but we live in a 2BR, 800 square foot house. There’s no way for my husband and I to isolate ourselves away from them enough to really get any work done, I think, especially if the toddler can’t understand leaving us alone. And is it reasonable to expect a babysitter to simultaneously manage remote schooling and a toddler?

    5. BridgeNerdess*

      Heavy drinking.

      Kidding. I don’t know, but I’m right there with you. I’m trying not to think about it until we know for sure because it’s too stressful. We’ve discussed taking shifts but to get my work done, I will be working at 5am during the week and having to work nights and/or weekends. A FT nanny isn’t feasible. It sucks. But you’re not alone.

      1. Generic Name*

        Ha. When the shutdown started, my sister said she and her husband spent their time working at home, yelling at the kids, and drinking

    6. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      We’re still waiting to hear the official plan from our school district, but I’ve got a vague plan for our family. Husband can switch his days off to Mon-Tues, grandma can watch our kid on Wednesday, I can WFH 1 day, and cut my hours down to 4 days/week. :-/

      My employer let us WFH with kids in the spring, but I just can’t imagine doing it again. The stress was too much.

      The federal government should be providing working parents 100% paid leave to care for their kids. I know our congress would never do it, but I’m livid none the less. F*#%ing ridiculous.

    7. Anonymom*

      Not a clue. My kids’ district hasn’t provided much information yet, except we should be receiving yet another survey in the next week. I’m trying extremely hard to be positive, but I’m really afraid they’re missing the boat on putting a workable plan in place, and we’re going to wind up with the giant clusterbomb that was the remote learning plan in the spring. One school handled it extremely well; but as of fall, one of my two kids is in a different school, and the feedback I have in the area is that the one school was an outlier in how well they handled things.

      Apparently there’s a board meeting on Monday though, through Zoom, to discuss whether things should be remote or in-person or somewhere in between.

      No matter what, it seems like it’ll be last minute, and I’ll be the one pivoting to WFH as best I can.

    8. Quinalla*

      The expectations are going to be higher than the spring, but they aren’t expecting 8-3 online – oof – that’s a lot. I think you’ll have to flex your time some at least. I know I get up early and log off around 3pm and my husband gets up a little later and work a slightly later shift. We look at every day and see who can do what for school. Our now 5th grader can mostly do stuff alone with some occasional help and checking work, but the 2 2nd graders still need a lot of supervision or they don’t stay on task.

      Our school is currently going to be part time (2/3 day rotation) at school and part time distance, but that may change if it continues to get worse. If it is part time, I’m just going to plan to work a lot more on the days they are at school since I’ll be able to have good focus those days.

      I also work a few hours on the weekend. If that is an option, consider it, I’ve found it less stressful to do 3-4 hours on Saturday than to try and fit and extra hour in every day of the week.

      1. This Old House*

        School expectations are going to be higher than they were in the spring (my son was in K, and the expectation from his teacher was explicitly “Do what works for you”), and I expect work expectations will also be higher, as businesses and organizations both try to get back to normal capacity as the country repoens, and run out of patience for those of us who’ve been less productive than usual. And expectations will be rising as people have lower and lower bandwidth to endure the increasing stress. It feels like everything is just going to get worse and worse.

    9. Nita*

      I think I’ll tell my employer that I can’t hack this any more, and they may as well lay me off and put me out of my misery. Maybe I’ll try to stick out September, but realistically, I’m already struggling, not sleeping, and burning through my vacation hours, and it’s summer so I’m only doing child care (no schoolwork). Also my husband is WFH – chances are, he will be in the office come September.

      To add insult to injury, I don’t think there is even a legit reason to keep schools closed here. I know it’s very different in other states, but in NYC we got hit so hard in the spring that we seem to have community immunity. Our case numbers are tiny and our hospitalization rate is even tinier, despite every single risky thing people are getting up to. The only thing that’s different is that almost everyone puts on masks indoors, and people are more attentive to not going to work/doing social stuff when sick. But day cares have been open since late April, and they’re doing fine… (No, I can’t send the kids to day care, most of them still take only kids of essential workers, and no one there will be helping the third-grader with his school work, even if they were willing to take him).

      1. This Old House*

        Even NYC does not have protective levels of immunity yet, but as someone who’s also in the NY metro area, I agree that our current levels of community spread, contract tracing capacity, etc. mean I’m far more comfortable with schools opening here than I would be in many other areas of the country.

      2. Dancing otter*

        Look at it from the teachers’ perspective. Maybe, maybe, they can keep a safe distance at the high school level. Younger than that, absolutely not. The teachers will be exposed to everyone their students have come into contact with, because you know grade schoolers will not practice basic safety measures like masks, hand washing, staying six feet apart. With the way air circulates (or not) in classrooms, even six feet and masked might not be enough, but children just won’t do it. And there are enough parents who cannot or will not maintain safe routines, that many of those kids will have been exposed. Not all, perhaps, but far too many for the safety of the teachers.
        An employer has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees.

      3. Hamburke*

        Yeah, community spread is small now but so many people left NYC in March and will be coming back in August/Sept for school from who knows where!

    10. The New Wanderer*

      Our school district just went from partial in-person to full remote for Fall at minimum. I was pretty much expecting that and so am kind of mentally prepared for it (so is my spouse).

      We were lucky in that our jobs are fine with full time WFH under these circumstances, and our kids adjusted pretty well to remote learning in the spring. It’ll be easier in some ways because the district has upgraded their capabilities for remote teaching and will include live instruction and a single point of access (rather than having to check multiple sites per day). And harder in some ways with one starting middle school and one in 1st grade on different schedules and with different demands on their time.

      What I’d really like to see is how the districts are helping families that don’t have our resources or ability to be home, or kids that have challenges with remote learning. They have indicated that in-person instruction may be available for families in these circumstances, so hopefully that will happen. The alternative (leaving these families to fend for themselves) is … not acceptable and it’s horrifying that families are facing this situation with so little support from government.

    11. Massive Dynamic*

      Throwing a ton of money (almost 4x more than we previously paid for before + after school care) at my 3rd grader’s extended care program, which is going to switch to full day small group tutoring/camp, at her actual school. We are suuuuuper privileged that this is a. offered to us and b. we can afford it. Plan B would be to reduce our working hours and therefore, income (billable hours) to survive it.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          It’s a separate private company that’s been contracting with the schools out here for years to rent access to some resources (classrooms not designated for regular class use, bathrooms) for before + after school care, and then it’s full-day camp during the summer for us full-time working parents. Under current guidelines, they’re allowed to continue because they can keep to very small kid groups with dedicated teachers, and no intermingling of teacher/kid groups.

    12. JQWADDLE*

      Right now our schools are planning on in school schooling but have an option for school from home. I am not exactly sure what the school from home will look like. We have crappy internet…so having 3 kids on Zoom all day will not be feasible.

      The spring wasn’t too bad. I was able to flex my schedule so instead of working 7:30 -4, I worked 12-8:30. This year I have a 4Ker and he is the one I worry the most about. The routine will be new for him, but he really wants to learn.

      My biggest hang up is the overwhelming feeling that we are making the wrong decision to send them to in person school. There is so much politicizing of safety measures locally, I don’t know if I can trust the staff to follow the guidelines we are being told they will follow.

    13. Bepuzzled*

      Same here. Spring was a hot mess in our house trying to get two kids who were having a hard time adapting to the idea of COVID-19 to also adapt to productive remote learning. Our district just announced that we’ll be starting fall as full-time remote, and I’m dreading it.

      My boss and I made an arrangement: I’m taking vacation time for the first two weeks of the school year to get things off to a decent start, then put best attempt into WFH as usual for the next two weeks. At that point we pause and assess whether it’s going to work or if we need to adjust expectations (including taking extended leave if there’s just no way to make it work). I am lucky that he’s willing to be flexible on this, and it probably helped that we had the conversation well in advance.

    14. Hamburke*

      My kids are high school age and relatively independent so it’s not affecting me much. Other than redirect them back to their work and occasionally tutor concepts (nothing new here), I don’t foresee too much change in my expectations. But there’s several groups forming in my neighborhood for micro schooling groups – 4 or 8 kids the same grade are being supervised by a parent, grandparent or hired tutor for the school day. They are requesting the same teacher so they won’t be competing for class time and from what’s being said by several principals, they are trying to accommodate those requests.

  10. Anon Here Again*

    Coworker Saga continues. My coworker Minerva was questioned by my boss as to why she scheduled a meeting. Minerva started complaining about how she sent me an email and said it was because I “looked confused”. I was shocked. I didn’t have the data to input into the system. I told this to my boss and Minerva had this smirk on her face and mocked my voice and said, “What?”

    I calmly, yet assertively, explained the process and what info I need from her.

    My boss told her to give me the info that I needed. This upset Minerva and she gave me the cold shoulder for the rest of the day.

    The next day, Minerva asked if I attached the correct documentation for a report and then said that she could do it for me. Again, the smirk was on her face. I told her that I can ask someone else about it, but she claimed that she would do it.

    At another point in the afternoon, I was sitting at my desk working. Minerva said nothing, but suddenly came up and was going through the cabinet behind my desk. (There are supplies back there that she was checking on.) She never said anything like, “Excuse me” or said anything about being there. The area is small, so it was a little unsettling.

    She also accused me of having reports that someone else had. I told her that I didn’t have them. I walked to get coffee and when I came back, she was looking through my cubicle!

    Minerva and I are the only women in an all-male office. Minerva isn’t like this with any of the men. Is there any way to deal with someone like this? I hate going into work now because everyday is like a battle and I don’t want to fight. I’m not a fighter. I just want to do my job and go home. Any advice? Does anyone know anyone like this? What do you do? Are people like this trying to get you fired? Or make your life miserable so you quit?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It takes some practice, but when you observe something potentially undermining, call it out. “Is there a reason you think I can’t attach the correct documentation?” “I said that I didn’t have the file. Is there a reason you think I was lying?”
      It should only take a few statements for Minerva to realize her games aren’t fun anymore.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      Honestly, Minerva sounds like she’s a passive-aggressive bully. I would bring it up to your boss in a “how do you want me to handle this?” discussion and state that Minerva is making you uncomfortable in your workspace.

    3. CheeryO*

      I think I remember some of Minerva’s antics from your previous posts. Have you had a larger conversation about it with your boss? If not, I think you need to, but you should try to focus on the times where she has actively tried to undermine you at work. Some of the things you’ve mentioned (coming into your space without saying excuse me, flirting with your coworkers in front of you) are going to come off as a little petty, even though they’re part of a larger pattern.

    4. Violetta*

      I remember you posting about this coworker before and honestly… I think you need to let it go. The advice you’ve gotten before hasn’t seemed to have helped. Minerva sounds annoying and I understand that you’re probably fed up, but I think it’s causing you to read more into these minor interactions than there is. Just keep your interactions with her to a minimum, be polite and professional, and make sure your own work is beyond reproach. You’re not going to change Minerva or improve your relationship much at this point. The best thing you could do to let it slide off you like water off a duck and do your own thing.

      1. WellRed*

        +1. I feel like I keep reading this same post. Either you’re not trying to directly address it or you’ve tried and it hasn’t helped.

      2. 30 Years in the Biz*

        Minerva appears to be a passive-aggressive bully as mentioned by Environmental Compliance above. There are some great resources for dealing with this kind of person, here’s one: In general I think avoiding emotion, always being professional, and calling out her behavior to her simply – as if stating a known fact (and questioning her why). Some articles mention mentally distancing yourself from the situation. Looking at it from 10,000 feet, as if observing some other world. It’s about her and not you. This may be hard to do, but should get easier with practice. If her behavior persists at a high level and she won’t leave you alone, go to your boss for advice, asking the question “X is happening with Minerva, I’ve asked her to stop this habit, but she’s not. What’s the best way to curtail this so I can focus on my projects?”. I’m sorry this is making your work day a battle, that really sucks.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      Minerva is essentially using the work equivalent of water torture on you. She’s systematically doing these little tits and tats at you to annoy you in hopes that you blow up at her during work so she can complain to your boss that she feels unsafe around you. If I had to guess (and for the record I haven’t read your other posts to see if you mentioned this) I’d think that she’s threatened by you because you’re competent at your job and she sucks or she liked being the only female in the office or it could be a multitude of other reasons. I completely get why this would be frustrating as these situations are usually exhausting. I’d try and reframe your conversations with her as if she were your dentist or someone else that you have a transactional, professional only relationship and keep your tone and requests at the most bland level possible.

      1. Auntie Social*

        There’s also “Minerva, calm down…”, making it appear that small things get her agitated—all in the guise of being helpful, and without saying that you’re above her in authority.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          I would not do that. Don’t fall into the “women be overreacting” thing. I know why that instinct is there, but it’s used against women way too much, especially in male dominated offices, there is no need to add it into the mix here. Just call it out as a fact, not as an emotion. “Minerva, you need to give me the data so I can finish the report.” “Yes, I attached the correct data.” “I have it under control, Minerva. No need to step in here.” Just keep your boss in the loop so you have the receipts that you are doing your part, asking for what you need, following up when necessary, all that stuff.

          As others have suggested, try to just observe her as though you were an archeologist or David Attenborough or something. That can really help remove some of the personal feeling involved and let you focus on which things she does that actually affect your work and which things are just annoying but not really worth worrying about.

      2. Anon Here Again*

        There were other women in my position before me and other women who used to work in the department though I don’t know if she did the same thing to them.

    6. Yeah_I know*

      Minerva sounds super obnoxious. I have had similar coworkers before.
      There is one effective way to deal with them.

      Relentless niceness.

      This doesn’t seem like it would be satisfying, but it IS.

      Because one of two things will happen.

      1. This person’s gripes with you will crumble before your armor of niceness. They begin to see you as a friend and one day you two have a lovely working relationship.

      2. They keep on being grumpy, but no one sees you being grumpy back, You’re just so *nice*, even when this person, who they like, but still, is being rather rude. Soon Minerva’s buddies are trying to understand why she doesn’t see what a lovely person you are. She either insists on being rude and alienates everyone or she falls inline despite secretly hating you.

      I’m not naturally a super nice person, I tend to be sacarcastic and antisocial, so I get that this may sound impossible. But once you see it as your way of controlling the situation, there is actually a secret pleasure in thinking, “You can be the worst, but I will only ever be nice!”

    7. RagingADHD*

      You need, for your own peace of mind, to stop monitoring Minerva’s facial expression, tone of voice, etc.

      I know she’s being obnoxious, but she’s only doing half the work of driving you up the wall. You are doing the other half to yourself.

      Treat Minerva the way you wish she would treat you. Not to be the “better person,” but to take away her ability to yank your chain like this.

      Tell yourself – pretend if you have to – that Minerva is struggling because she is bad at communication and teamwork. You can help her by being very good at communication and teamwork.

      Say things clearly and directly. Ask questions about which parts are confusing her. Document your communication with her, so you’re always “on the same page” and “have it for reference.”

      The one surefire way to beat a passive aggressive person is to refuse to play along with their game. Refuse to see the game at all.

      If she’s in your space, ask if you can help her. If she wants a pointless meeting, show up with a presentation. Cheerful, co-operative, helpful, totally oblivious to her machinations.

      And lock your desk.

      She will either implode or turn the nonsense onto someone else. You just have to hold out.

    8. Batgirl*

      “Minerva and I are the only women in an all-male office. Minerva isn’t like this with any of the men.”
      Oh, I really hate that. I don’t know why it’s a thing for certain women to behave like she’s in Highlander, but it is.
      All the signs are to treat her very, very cautiously and distantly. The mocking, the smirking, the misogyny; it’s contempt and you can’t interact safely with contempt.
      The good news is she’s as dumb as a box of rocks. Almost entertainingly so. She’s too obvious (in front of a clearly unimpressed boss), and she gives you plenty of warning.
      So you know to expect:
      1) Claims that you’re incompetent (I’d put all my interactions with her in writing. If she makes a verbal complaint, address it with an email. If she claims she didn’t get something, resend those emails and copy people in.
      2) Faces and mocking voices (I wouldn’t even try to stop this. She’s making herself look like an idiot and untrustworthy. Just enjoy the show) I might go as far as saying in slight incredulity: “Were you mocking my voice there?” Just to underscore to listeners what they are hearing is actually happening.
      3) Forays into your personal space: Don’t keep personal or private items near your desk. See if you can lock one of your drawers or use a padlocked briefcase for work papers you don’t want meddled with. If you don’t want her in your physical space move the shared cabinet items from behind you. On the other hand she’s expending valuable energy on something pretty stupid.
      Oh, and document everything she does. If you get a good body of evidence and trust your bosses, flag the harrassment.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I think this is all really great advice. She’s trying to Mean Girl you, but that only really works if you buy in. As long as your boss knows you’re doing your job, and doing it well, that is what really matters. Her smirking and weirdness really aren’t your problem, let her play her little school yard game, you just keep showing up and doing your work. I do think if she ever does mimic you, or does something just as outrageous again you absolutely could look really confused and say, “Did you just mock my response?” Especially if it’s in front of your boss it really is going to make her look like a giant fool, especially because, from your description, it doesn’t really sound like your boss is falling for this.

        Keep a record, so you have it, just in case. Focus on the things that really compromise your ability to finish your job, but you can put down the other weird, petty stuff too. Depending on how long this has been going on you can bring it up with your boss, “I’m not sure what the issue is, but I’m having a really hard time getting Minerva to help me out in X, Y and Z situations. She doesn’t give me the information I need and then tries to flip it around on me when the project gets behind or suggests I made errors when I didn’t to deflect what is really happening. How do you want me to handle this?”

  11. The Grey Lady*

    I’ve been waiting for this all week! Okay, I have a question about my name and applying for jobs, and I seriously need some advice.

    I do a lot of online, contract work (think writing or editing) and I recently decided to go by my middle name. So, hypothetically, my name is Jane Emily Smith, but I am now going by Emily Smith and have changed my name to that on all platforms (including LinkedIn, which is where I find a lot of my jobs).

    All of my communication with employers is done electronically, so there is no meeting in person or even on video. Sometimes I get hired for a one-off assignment, and sometimes I get a contractual position that is usually a certain number of articles over a period of time.

    So, despite going by Emily, I will have to sign my contracts as Jane Smith because that’s my legal name. And I don’t want these employers to think I’ve lied about my name.

    So, should I bring it up at all when reaching out for potential employers or applying for assignments? Should I include something like “My name is Jane Smith so that’s what you will see when I officially sign, but I go by Emily.” Or should I say nothing at all?

    LinkedIn does not allow you to include middle names, otherwise I would add something there to make this more clear to anyone who sees my profile.

    Just not entirely sure how I should handle this. I’d love to hear from someone who has done something similar if possible! Though all opinions are certainly welcome.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Could you use J. Emily Smith on LinkedIn/your resume and just specify that you go by Emily?

      1. kittymommy*

        This is what I was thinking as well. I work for politicians and couple of them don’t use their first name in most things. However on the few times they need to sign something “official” (think TSA or a federal document) they do first initial – middle name (which is what they go by)-last name.

      2. gsa*


        Our sales manager by middle name last name. Same with our email format.

        His email signature is first initial middle name last name.

        I didn’t even know with the name he goes by his middle name until I first saw his email signature.

    2. tab*

      I just checked my connections on LinkedIn, and many of them list middle names, nicknames and maiden names. I’d try to add your middle name to your profile.

    3. Loose Seal*

      Can you sign ‘Jane Emily Smith?’ I know a lot of men who go by their middle name and they sign their entire name when it comes to signatures. No one seems to question it.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes! That’s my suggestion. Or even sign J. Emily Smith.

        TBH I don’t know of many situations where anyone checks your signature. I personally use first initial middle initial last name – JA Smith – when I sign everything and it’s only come up one time in the many years I’ve done it.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          This. My father uses his middle name, and he signs J. Frank Lastname on his checks (and presumably everywhere else).

    4. Donuts and Llamas*

      My husband goes by his middle name and often signs documents and things like “H. Xavier Smithson”. Where possible/appropriate, he’ll sign things “Xavier” and then after put “Horace (Xavier) Smithson” on letters, etc.
      For LinkedIn, could you put “J.Emily” or “J-Emily” or “Jane-Emily” (no spaces) in the first name field? Going by a middle name is a pretty common thing (especially in southern states) and he’s never had anyone bat an eye.

    5. Shell*

      I’ve gone by my middle name for my entire life and when in a professional or legal setting I sign my name first initial, middle name, last name, so I would sign J. Emily Smith. I include the first initial because 1) it’s an easy way to show that I’m using my middle name and 2) I like the way it looks (haha), but even on my drivers license it’s signed, J. E. Smith.

      Also, I’ve never had anyone question my signature vs. name. A signature is any mark made by you acknowledging the document, my husband’s signature includes a paw print. ;)

    6. pancakes*

      Can you add it to your profile on sites you use? “The Grey Lady ([other name])”? There is a free text field part of one’s profile on LinkedIn, I think, if you can’t add a parenthetical to your name there. If you have to do it that way, you could say something like, “I’ve also gone by the name [name].”

    7. ladymacdeath*

      Just bring it up after an offer/before the contract is drafted! I worked in entertainment where there’s lots of usage of middle names, stage names, maiden names used for work after they changed their last name legally because they got married… it’s not a big deal. Just be proactive and casual about it.

    8. Kimmybear*

      My coworker uses Emily (Jane) Smith in her email. Spouse always introduces with middle name and just signs with first initial, middle initial, last name.

    9. miro*

      I have a semi-similar situation where I generally use a nickname (and my name/nickname are uncommon enough that it’s not like being Thomas and going by Tom, which might be more intuitive to people). On my resume/email signature, I have “Firstname (Miro) Lastname” and then will sign my cover letter “Miro Lastname.”

      This might not directly address your troubles with electronic forms, but it should at least make it clear that it’s a name preference and not anything shady.

      1. miro*

        Oops, was thinking faster than I typed. Should have said
        “I have ‘Firstname (Miro) Lastname’ in the [resume/cover letter] heading”

    10. LunaLena*

      I go by my middle name because I have always hated my first name, and on LinkedIn and other work-related sites I go by MiddleName LastName. No one cares, and people only ask about a discrepancy if they happen to notice my work email, since it’s First Initial + LastName. Things got even more complicated after I got married, since I wanted to continue using my maiden name for side gigs (especially since my personal professional email is Middle Initial + MaidenName), so my name is now officially FirstName MiddleName MaidenName LastName. I very rarely get questioned on any of it; if I do, it’s usually just out of curiosity, like “why is your first initial F and not M?” and I just say “oh, M is my middle name, I’ve always just hated my first name.”

      My signature is FMM LastName, and most people don’t notice the F there either. On the rare occasions they do, again it usually is just a matter of curiosity, no different from people asking about the medical tattoo on my wrist. The only time I ever bring it up myself is when it’s inevitable, like when I fill out paperwork and have to put my legal name on it. And even then it’s usually a 2-second conversation – “just so you know, FirstName is my legal name. I just never use it because I’ve always hated it” in a casual and breezy tone – and most people just laugh and say they know someone else who did the same. Some ask why I hate my first name; most seem to find the reason amusing (“it’s an old-fashioned name that was very popular 2-3 generations ago, so before I started going by my middle name I always used to hear ‘oh, my great-aunt/grandmother/other elderly female had that name'”) and then it never gets mentioned again.

      1. The Grey Lady*

        Lol, I’m doing it because I hate my name too. My mom named me after a pretty popular soap opera character that she liked, and I’ve been teased about it all my life. Just no.

    11. Quinalla*

      Agreed with others, sign your full name (with your middle name) on contracts. If you want, go by J. Emily Smith on things if it will let you so it is clear you go by Emily, but that is not your legal first name. Men do this all the time (most common I’ve seen is when they are a Jr. and don’t like their Dad so don’t want to go by his name) and no one bats an eye.

      I do think most people will not be perturbed anyway, but this will remove any doubt.

    12. Mouse*

      I’m an assistant and my boss goes by a name that’s completely different from any part of his legal name. Whenever he has to sign legal documents, I just make a note when I return them to the other party that says something like “By the way, Sam’s legal name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, so that’s the signature you’ll see.” I’ve never had any issues.

      1. Anima*

        Ooh, good one, I go by my middle name as by my birth certificate (my parents are weird), so I’m Anima – but my full legal name is Annalena Anima Firstlastname-Secondlastname. I introduce myself as Anima Firstlastname, but sign legal documents with the full spiel (if there is enough space, otherwise I abbreviate the Annalena part. Works like a charm. Do recommend.

    13. Uranus Wars*

      My full name is Uranus Star Wars and since I have been about 22 all of my documents have been signed USWars. My (actual) name is really long and when I graduated college and realized how much I was going to have to sign it I shortened the signature; no one but the DMV has ever batted an eyelash.

    14. valentine*

      You can sign Emily Smith, even if whoever wrote the contract feels obliged to include your first name under the line. There’s nothing illegal about signing a portion of your name. For there to be trouble, someone would have to show that you were trying to pass yourself off as a different Emily Smith or that you’re not an Emily Smith and/or have never been known as such.

      1. Pennyworth*

        +1 I use two different last names – my legal last name and my ex-husband’s last name which I was known by socially when I was married even though I did not legally change my name. Many people who knew me during my marriage only use my ex-name. A lawyer advised me that there is no problem using different names as long as there is no intention to deceive, and I have listed both with government agencies, my health fund etc so it is quite clear that I am known as both Smith and Jones. I discovered that they all have fields l to list alternative names and there were no questions about what I was doing.

    15. Blue Eagle*

      My legal signature is initial of first name, initial of middle name, last name – all written as one word in cursive. Just another option for you.

  12. August*

    Got an invite for a final interview with a place that I’m fairly excited about! Except I asked if it was possible to change the interview time (they only offered one option, as they have for every other interview) and I’ve gotten no reply for the past two days. The original interview was scheduled for Monday.

    Is it too early to send a follow-up email? Or is it fairly clear that they’ve ghosted me? I know I’m overthinking this, I’m just really antsy because this is an organization I’ve worked with before, and I’m a little taken aback that they’d drop all communication like this when I previously got replies that same day.

    1. Summer Anon*

      Is there a phone number you can call or send an email to someone else?
      I think in these times anything can happen.
      I had something similar happen and couldn’t believe HR didn’t get back to me when they had been so timely. Later found out they had a death in the family and left work abruptly. I happened to know the hiring manager and could reach out to get an update.

      Good luck!!

    2. Quinalla*

      It is not too early to follow up. I’d send an email to follow up and if you haven’t yet, suggest a few times that work for you.

  13. Amy*

    How can I make sure I’ll do great in my first admin job?

    Some background for you:
    I accepted a position for an admin job and will start in August (yay!). I’m really looking forward to it, but am so afraid of failing.

    I have a masters degree from 2016 (which is very normal in my country) but have not had much luck after I graduated. I was fired from 3 different jobs in marketing due to a combination of my bad choice of employers and my lack of understanding professional norms. Reading this site for the last year has really helped me understand what had happened and why (and hopefully to do better).

    But because of these firings, I now have very little faith in myself and in my abilities. This also means, that I can be very easily overwhelmed, especially if I’m not sure how to perform a task. I want to combat this so I for once can have a positive and successful experience in the professional world.

    So if anyone have tips and tricks to being successful in my first admin job and/or to overcoming my anxieties of failing again I will really appreciate it!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’re okay disclosing, what were you fired for exactly? If you can identify those specific deficiencies and have ways to mitigate them for your new job, that may help you have a bit more faith in your abilities, because you have a game plan.

      1. Amy*

        Well unfortunately it is not simple. And I’m not completely sure how many of my deficiencies are actual issues with how I function and or if I now just get stressed out easily because I now fear failure.

        The short answer to why I was fired was that I had too much responsibility too soon. And this has caused stress, as I failed. Back then I did not know how to spot all the red flags when interviewing and what I could and could not expect from an employer. So I both took really bad jobs (at least bad for me) and at the same time did not know how to have constructive conversations about workload and capabilities in generel. I was always afraid of talking about my short comings, because I was sure they would fire me if I did, and I’m sure I was right.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          In that case, I think to succeed at your new job, you may want to just touch base with your new manager on how much responsibility you can take on in the beginning and how you’d like to gradually increase that while keeping it all manageable.

          This can just be something like, when you’re being trained, taking notes on all the things you’re being trained on and all the things people say you’re responsible for, and then taking a good look at that yourself. “Can I do all this right now? What can I do now? What would I feel better doing after I felt more comfortable with urgent initial tasks?”

          Then have that follow-up convo with your manager.

    2. The Grey Lady*

      If you haven’t already, I’d honestly recommend picking up Alison’s book. It will teach you a lot about office norms, coworkers, managers, etc.

      1. Amy*

        I might just do that. I’ve really learned so much by reading this blog, and boy do I feel foolish for some of the stuff I’ve done/not done or just my mind set in regards to work. But it is one thing to read and see all the mistakes than to implement in my daily life. I tend to not always see things as they are in the moment (something I really want to get better at) and often have ideas of how I should have tackled a situation afterwards. I can just hope, that by reading enough on here it will somehow get easier as it will be more like instinct.

    3. Grumpy Lady*

      My best admin advice is about answering the phone for my boss. Make sure that you ask who is calling, where they are calling from and what the call is in regards to. This helps my boss figure out if he wants to or has time to talk to that person. Its a little thing but if I just say “Mr. Smith is on line 1” he stares at me and I stare back. But if I say “Mr. Smith from Teapots Inc is on the phone regarding the broken tea handles” then it works great. This is assuming you are doing any type of phone work. Also I keep a big sticky note pad at my desk to write things down. Having things written helps me stay on track and I can refer to it if I get confused. Sometimes I will write out a to-do list for the day in case I know I have multiple things to work on.

      1. Amy*

        Thanks for your reply. In regards to the sticky note pad – what sort of things do you find that you use it for other than to do lists?

        1. Grumpy Lady*

          So depending on the style of admin work you will be doing, as an executive admin I had to schedule meetings, do follow-up on tasks my boss had assigned to other people, review correspondence, etc. My boss was notorious for drive-by tasking while walking by my desk so it was important to have something to write on when that happened. I also used sticky notes on my computer for things I needed to use a lot (ordering a certain brand of something from a vendor or scheduling a meeting) or if there was something I needed to remember often (the number to IT or parking permits). They even sell mouse pad sticky notes if that would help you. Brush up on outlook before you start if you havent used it in a while if you have to send meeting invites. I made a format for meeting invites that basically said “What, When, Where, About, and POC” so all meetings I sent out had the necessary info.

          Also my other secret as an admin pre-covid was to have a candy dish on my desk. Made me more approachable and people would stop by to chat with me. This helps you learn names and roles and what not. Post-covid I still have candy but also hand sanitizer and lotion lol

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            Also, for the drive by style to dos, I’ve written emails to my boss just to touch base.
            So let’s say boss comes by n morning and then later in afternoon and gives you tasks A B and C. By the end of the day I would send email
            Hey boss, just checking in. You mentioned tasks a b c. Did you need anything completed by certain day, or is anything a priority, because I’ve still got project x going on.
            This way you have a reminder and you’ve got a message to boss confirming what he said was a task. I’ve been in place where boss was just brainstorming, I thought they wanted something done, and we totally misunderstood each other.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Prioritization. There will be busy periods on any job where you are given too much to do in one day. Share that list with your manager and let them manage your time. Look for Alison’s script for this, and I seem to remember this was a topic in one of the podcasts. Basically you say something like “I had a, b, and c on my list for today. Adding d means I’ll need to deliver one task tomorrow. Which 3 do you want first?”
          I like having 2 lists–one for immediate deliverables with specific deadlines, and one for longer term projects & improvements. So list #1 will have things like “ship 3 teapots to Mr.Big”…list#2 will have things like “delete people from SharePoint again (Hodor, Catelyn, Ned, anyone else?”

      2. Alianora*

        This is important. As an admin, a large part of our job is to make the office/the company/the people you’re supporting look good. That means giving them context when you’re directing someone towards them, so they’re prepared to talk about the subject.

        I also carry a notebook with me. It’s mostly a running, daily to-do list, but I also write down things that I need to remember, messages to pass on, or meeting notes. The process of writing them down makes them real in my mind, and it also gives me a reference to look back at when I inevitably forget something. (It also has the side effect of making me *look* more organized.)

        Amy, you mentioned that you get overwhelmed when you don’t know how to do something. Definitely ask for clarification when you need it! The first step is to gather the pieces you already know. (Writing this down is a good way for me to process it.) Then see if you can get some idea of what you *think* should happen next. Look at your notes or do some research on the internet. Once you’re clear on that, go to your manager and tell them, “This is what I’m planning on doing, but I wanted to check in with you about X before I proceed. I also have a question about Y.”

        This method comes off much better than asking questions without thinking things through first, because it’s less work for the manager. Explaining your thinking enables them to tailor their response to *you* instead of giving an exhaustive answer that may or may not address your actual concerns. Kind of a similar philosophy to Grumpy Lady’s phone call advice.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Have a notebook and pen with you at all times. Write stuff down. If it is a task or assignment, make sure it is added to your to-do list, and keep/refer to the details of what you need to do. If it is instructions on how to do something, have a place to file such instructions so you have them easily to hand when you need them. My mantra – if I don’t write it down, I might not remember it. And if you don’t understand something, ask. (Write down that answer, too. :))

      1. Amy*

        I think this is a good idea. I’ve never been good at taking (enough) notes, and then I forget things. I guess I’ve just never really understood how big of a part of the job the note taking actually is. I think that taking notes and actually using them will help me be more independent. Thank you :)

        Do you have any good systems in place for all the different types of notes you take in a day/week?

        1. Kat in VA*

          I’m an executive assistant with four executives that I support. Each exec has their own notebook, and then I have a fifth notebook for myself/general punchlist items that need to be done.

    5. Gloop Glop*

      As others have said, always write things down! I stay organized with a daily to-do list– it keeps me on track every day but it also helps when a colleague asks me about some random project I did 7 months ago, I can usually review my daily notebook and retrace my steps.

      It really depends on the office culture and the preferences of your direct supervisor whether they’re going to want you checking in with questions all the time or figuring out most things yourself, so the best practice is to tune into their work style and be respectful of that.

    6. Ginger Baker*

      OH MY GOODNESS, I have so much to say about this [I’ve been doing this kind of work for 20 years now] that I have legit drafted post ideas for a blog and keep pondering actually creating it.

      One thing I would say on the topic of being unsure how to do something: do your due diligence to research on your own (I googled today “how to get vlookup to give an exact match in excel”; often I will IM or call a coworker who knows, say, “what’s the process for opening a new client?”) but if you aren’t pulling anything up through your self-study methods, don’t be afraid of speaking up and asking your boss. More often than not, a peer and/or google will be able to steer you in the right direction, but sometimes you just need to say “Sorry [boss], I did check [place] and [other place] but I am not finding any files related to [topic]. Do you have any suggestions for other places to check? Is there an offsite storage maybe?” [or whatever relevant question]. The trick is finding the balance: you don’t want to ask your boss to do the work for you, but you also don’t want to spend ten hours trying to solve something if your boss could solve it with a two-minute answer to a question – it’s just not cost-effective to spend ten hours on it then! And the thing is, that balance, you will fail at quite a bit at first – that’s part of the process of learning. Dust yourself off, make a mental note for next time, and keep moving…you WILL get better at that assessment with time and practice.

      The phone call advice (which is great) and recommendation to have your thoughts and questions/potential solutions together (also great) is related to the above also: it’s about optimizing your boss’ time, in both those cases by providing as much contextual information as possible. I ask myself a lot “how can I make [whatever] easier for [person in question]”. That plays out in multiple areas; in addition to the ones above, I also do things like add the document to be discussed on a call into the meeting invite and make sure the meeting subject line is clear (so everything is easily available for the meeting participants), check [boss] calendar for the upcoming weeks and bring up to [boss] if [he] has any meeting conflicts or [pre-COVID] lunches planned that I should make reservations for (that is, I see a lunch planned and no restaurant listed, so I ask “does this need a reservation?”), and other things along those lines.

      I have lots of tech tips and stuff also (hence continually considering a blog…) but probably more than I can reasonably fit here. Congrats on your new job!!

    7. Chai town*

      If answering phones, I second getting as much info as you can (even if the caller says “they have my number” I try to get it). Also, I liked using a duplicate phone memo book. I wrote down every call, even if the caller declined to leave a message. Believe it or not I’ve had a boss upset that he didn’t get a message that someone didn’t want to leave. And the duplicate part allowed me to have a record of the sequence of calls/events, which has come in handy more than a time or two. Just don’t leave the book where others can see it, for privacy reasons.

    8. RagingADHD*

      For a lot of admin work, there isn’t one universal way to do things. It all depends on company standards and the preferences of the person you’re supporting (or the most senior of a group).

      So know that its not just okay to ask, it’s necessary.

      Is there a template for that?
      Is there a style guide for that?
      What’s our standard process for that?
      What vendor do we use for that?
      Do you prefer me to do it this way or that way?

      I always liked taking my running notes/to-do list on a steno pad because it’s a convenient size. Then repeating process checklists get converted into computer checklists (I like Outlook tasks for that), and things I need for reference get put into a physical “desk manual” in a binder.

      It’s good to create 4 daily routine checklists: powering up in the morning, just before lunch, on return from lunch, and shutting down in the evening. These help remind you of the things you need to stay on top of during the day, like checking emails & voicemail, reviewing today & tomorrow’s calendar, checking your physical inbox (or your boss’s outbox), whatever your routine needs to be. In some cases, mine included checking that there was paper in the printer and TP in the bathroom. It just depends.

      The more you can systematize repeating tasks and avoid backlogs, the better able you’ll be to respond to surprises or crunch times.

      As far as taking notes, pretend that a stranger is taking over your job tomorrow, and your job today it to make sure they can find the status of all the things you’re working on, and what needs to happen next.

      Because it’s guaranteed that you are going to forget something by tomorrow. You just don’t know what.

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’ve had my 1st admin job for almost a year. I came from a call center customer service style work before, so I understand you worry. I think organization is key. Always have a notebook and pen handy for quick notes and to dos. If your setting up events make a spreadsheet or something g to keep track of events. So ffg or my job I had create online event, email registrants, book room, catering order, complete catering pay from, confirm booking. Then ther were a few tasks afterwards I did like send thank you email. I had up to 14 events per semester so I really needed that type if organization.
      If you will be training with someone who’s been doing your job ask questions. Find out how they do things, what bosses prefer, any weird things that might need fixing that they’ve had before. If your in a larger company reach out to other admins. They will be able to help.
      Also, give yourself a break. If your boss is asking to much, it’s not bad to say so, especially when your new. Hopefully you will have a great boss who can help guide you.
      Good luck!

  14. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Removed because this is the work thread. Please stick to questions about work. – Alison

  15. Neosmom*

    Sigh of relief. Our company decided (after I sent our company president a request and a link to the CDC recommendations on outdoor activities) to cancel the company’s family-inclusive picnic scheduled for 8/1. I am the only employee for whom attendance at the event is mandatory (planning, setup, checking folks in, on-site coordination, gifts and door prize distribution, etc.) and I told them if my attendance had been optional, I would have elected not to come this year.

  16. Casey*

    I was curious about a situation that I’m in, and how other people would handle it.

    I’m interning 2,000 miles away from friends and family. I didn’t know anyone before I came here, and since there’s a pandemic going on, there’s not a ton of opportunities to form new friendships outside the office.

    I recently was told I need all four wisdom teeth extracted — preferably soon, because the pain is just going to get worse and worse the longer I put the surgery off.
    The surgery requires general anaesthesia, and I wouldn’t be allowed to drive myself home afterwards (obviously).

    Luckily for me, there’s another intern in the office that I’ve become friends with, and she offered to drive me to and from the surgeon’s and check in on me as I recover (we live in the same apartment building so it won’t be too much of a hassle).

    But I was thinking, what if she wasn’t here? What would I have done? What would it take for you to be comfortable asking a coworker that you’ve only known a month or two to drive you to surgery?

    Complicating factors: I’m a woman, and all my coworkers are men. On principle, I try not to be around men I don’t know very, very well when I’m impaired.
    My parents or my sisters would normally fly out the second I needed help (I am very, very lucky) but, you know. Pandemic.
    I have distant family a little closer geographically, but they’d be an absolute last resort if I couldn’t figure anything else out.

    Anyways, I’m not in need of a solution, I was just curious about what you would have done (or have done?) in my situation!

    1. The Grey Lady*

      Hmm. I had my wisdom teeth taken out not too long ago, and my husband was my driver.

      But if I were in your situation, I honestly probably would have sucked up the pain and waited until someone I know could drive me. I definitely don’t recommend that approach for everyone, but I do not feel comfortable asking coworkers for personal favors unless we just happened to be really good friends. And even then, there’s a difference between “work friends” and “friend friends.”

      1. pancakes*

        This is someone she knows, though. Not just a coworker, but a coworker and neighbor she’s friendly with. It’s good to have neighbors one gets along with, because at some point you will want to help one another out for some reason — plant watering, a spare key, or whatnot.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Especially if you’re in a more populated area – there are medical chauffeur services available. Some of them might be specifically available for seniors or the disabled, but quite a few will do transport for “I can’t drive myself to and from this specific appointment safely or legally” type situations too.

      1. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

        I’ve never heard the term medical chauffeur. Lol. I have a routine medical appointment out of state each year and since I travel alone, I use a home health service. A private nurse meets me at the hospital, waits, drives me to the hotel and helps me get settled. It’s generally three hours and around $120 (not covered by insurance). It’s wonderful and I’ve always had the nicest people!


    3. Liz*

      Wow, that’s a scary situation to be in. I know that my medical group, because I overheard the staff telling another patient as I was waiting for a friend who I had taken for a procedure requiring anesthesia, that they have info on a service patients can use that will bring you to and from appts like these, if you dont’ have anyone else.

      And they weren’t discussing any personal health info, so no HIPPA violations, just letting the patient know what their options were, since they had apparently driven themselves and they wouldn’t allow them to check in, etc. until they could show they had transportation.

      So that might have been an option for you. But that’s nice that your co-worker is going to do that for you.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I wish all hospitals would allow people to use these services. My MIL had to have a colonoscopy, and she didn’t want to ask my husband or me to take her, so she said she would just take a taxi. They said no, it has to be a relative or close family friend. Okay, what about a medical transportation service? Nope, not acceptable. They said she could either have a family member or close friend drive her, or she could have the colonoscopy with no sedation/anesthesia. I ended up taking her (and I was happy to do so–I don’t know why she wouldn’t ask to begin with), but if we hadn’t moved here from 2,000 miles away, she wouldn’t have been able to have the procedure done.

    4. Ashley*

      I got lucky when I needed stitches out when I was young and away from home that my uncle happened to live near summer camp. That was better then trying to get a counselor to drive me and be with me.
      Where I have done intern type jobs I have usually lucked out with people who knew I was far from home and got a little extra care when needed. It is amazing who comes out of the wood work in those situations but many internships had a lot of volunteers so getting help from someone who volunteers with an agency is sometimes easier then asking actual staff.
      Honestly I think it was worse at my first real job when I lived far from where I grew up and was newish to the area when I was told to go to the ER to get checked but didn’t need an ambulance. My boss ended up taking me – not the best but I lived.

      1. Quill*

        It seems to me like you barely have to swing a cat around my hometown to hit a former teacher or former nurse, which I’ve found to be the best people for asking about resources for these sorts of things when they’re truly an emergency.

        Last time I was on an airplane we had a medical emergency and there were half a dozen nurses on hand immediately, and when I crashed my car the person who pulled over and took charge of the scene until the sheriff could get there was an ex-teacher.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      I think if I would have no one, I first would have asked my doctor and explained the situation. They should know of local medical driving places and probably will have worked with some before.

      My gyne, when setting up surgery for my endometriosis, was very good with this – he asked if I did have people to drive me, and if I wanted someone to sit with me or come check in on me, as not everyone can take off work for weeks. He said that he had worked with some local medical chauffeuring places previously, and there was a volunteer service (through a local church) he worked with as well that did house calls just to see if you were okay, needed groceries, etc. Surgery went a lot longer than anyone expected. I was very lucky to have my spouse able to help but also having my mom able to come stay with us for a few days, until I felt comfortable shuffling around the house by myself.

      1. Oh Snap!*

        I’m not religious, but I feel like if you had a church affiliation you could call a local branch and ask if they have a volunteer who could help you.

      2. NotAPirate*

        My old church does stuff like this. They consider it under the umbrella of “I was sick and you visited me” scripture quote where its talking about serving everyone as if they were G-d.

        1. saf*

          I work for a small church. We do not have a formal ministry doing this, but if you asked, one of the deacons would gladly do something like this. Yes, it is service to God through service to the image of God in every person.

    6. pancakes*

      Luckily you do have someone there! I wouldn’t invest too much time in thinking about how it might be worse. That said, I trust my male friends—they’re great people—and didn’t have a terrible time when I had my wisdom teeth out. My dentist gave me percocet, which was lovely, and I was comfortable watching movies for a couple days afterward in a haze.

      1. Anonymous for this, colleagues read here*

        It’s good to think ahead about this, though. Right now I can’t drive (back injury), my kid doesn’t drive (vision disability), and my husband got terrible food poisoning this week.

        So I missed my PT appointment this week, and my kid had a friend (who is fortunately not working) drive him to his oncology appointment. A friend and her son did our grocery pick up. If we did not have friends to do these things, we would have had to fork over additional $ to have the groceries delivered. I would have found a medical driver as others have described for my kid ($$$, the oncologist is a 40-minute drive each way and the appt will be about an hour), so that means setting aside money just in case.

        Given that most anyone could get covid, and perhaps everyone in your household could get it at the same time, it’s worth planning for what you would do.

        1. pancakes*

          That sounds awful, I hope you’re feeling better soon! Agree that being prepared to delegate or hand over essential tasks or seek help is good to think about.

    7. Summersun*

      I had no one to drive me for an endoscopy, and the office was very clear that they would not allow me to use a cab or an Uber. It’s incredibly frustrating being told that you are required to have a local support system in order to obtain needed medical treatment; yet another hoop to jump through in the messed up healthcare system. I basically broke down crying on the phone with the office admin over it.

      In the end, I had to camp out for several hours in their lobby while waiting for someone who could pick me up after her workday ended.

        1. Liz*

          Many places, including where I have mine done, won’t allow a taxi or ride sharing service. You have to have someone you know, or a medical chauffer (thank you to whoever commented with that, i couldn’t think of the correct term!) I’m guessing its a liability issue.

        2. Summersun*

          I don’t know, maybe liability for the office? It was specifically printed in the prep packet that those were not allowed.

        3. Academic Librarian*

          When I went in for a colonoscopy, I had the same problem. I think they want someone who can give medical permissions for you right on the spot, and a cab or Uber driver can’t do that. I finally found a friend who would do it.

          I think this is a problem that will get bigger with time, because many more of us are single and live alone than ever before. Once my parents die, I have no clue who I would call in such a case.

          1. Squidhead*

            It’s more about safety after anesthesia than medical consents (only your proxy can give those, not a friend who agreed to drive for the day). But a cab driver has basically no obligation beyond dropping you at your door and while technically that might be true of a friend as well the hope is that they’ll keep an eye on you a bit and call if something seems wrong. Like, drowsiness would be sort of normal but total confusion isn’t. A person who knows you or has a medical background is more likely to notice.

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              Last time I was under general anesthesia, I lived up a flight and a half of steep concrete stairs. I absolutely couldn’t have gotten myself up that on my own. Obviously, that’s an extreme case – but an uber or cab driver isn’t likely to help, and most people have some kind of barriers between the street and their couches/beds. You’re also a lot more vulnerable when you’re dopey.

              Actually, now I remember – I wasn’t supposed to be alone for the next 24 hours. I had one friend stay over that night, and another come watch movies the next morning. By then I was completely fine, but that was the instruction from the anesthesiologist.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              Yes, it’s a safety thing. Most of the time, you’re just woozy and sleepy and maybe a bit queasy, and you need someone who can get you to the right home, but in some cases people can have a worse reaction and need someone who can notice and get them help.

              And taking a taxi or Uber is no problem, as long as you have someone with you – I’ve taken taxis home because we don’t have a car, but my husband was with me. We’re just told not to drive ourselves, and not to ride behind someone on a scooter.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That’s awful. If they restricted what methods you could use, they should suggest one that would work for both. I assume they view Uber/cab as a liability in some way, but if they do – they need to work with a medical transport company and help you get set up with that. Making you wait in the lobby is incredibly inappropriate.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Honestly, most places don’t care. The convenience and comfort of the patient is an afterthought, if you’re lucky–with most of the places I deal with, it’s not a thought at all. If you can’t get there when they want you there and follow their rules, you can go pound sand. I had to quit cardiac rehab after my heart attack because they only had it weekdays from 7 to 11:30, and as I explained to them, I couldn’t leave my job three days a week because I needed the job to pay my $8,000 in hospital bills.

      2. Mme Pince*

        I can relate! I also cried when I realized that I’m not close enough to anyone where I live to ask for this sort of favor. In the end, my mom visited from several states away to take me and stayed with me for a long weekend.

    8. Annony*

      I wouldn’t ask a coworker after only a month or two. It’s just too big an ask and can be awkward for them to say no. The first thing I would do is call the oral surgeon to see if anesthesia is absolutely required or if there is another option. If there were no other option I would see if they had an alternative (a waiver to sign or wait in the recovery room longer). After that, look into medical transportation services. Then the absolute last resort of distant family.

      1. Observer*

        There is no way to do this surgery without anesthesia.

        Waivers are not an alternative to a safe way to get home. Nor, in most cases, is planning to stay a bit extra in the recovery room.

        I do think that any decent practice SHOULD have information on a local medical transport services that are appropriate for the situation.

      2. allathian*

        I was lucky with my wisdom teeth, as I had none in my lower jaw, and the ones in my upper jaw weren’t impacted, so it was like a normal tooth extraction with local anesthetic. At the time, I lived half a mile from my dentist, so I could walk home. I did get some strong pain pills that I took at home when the anesthetic wore off. I took sick leave that day.

        I guess with the OP, things are a bit different when you’re interning rather than employed, and when you live in the same building.

      3. zora*

        I get what you’re saying about a new coworker being awkward, but also it’s a massive global pandemic. I think a lot of us are willing to step up a little more than usual because of these extraordinary circumstances. As the OP said, in normal times, they would probably have a family member fly out to stay with them. If I had a new coworker who mentioned they had this dilemma I would immediately offer to help, even if I didn’t like them that much. It’s one day, and it’s an extraordinary circumstance, and we all need help sometimes.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I live on my own here and two years ago I had 7 teeth removed, one at a time.

      I have an older neighbor who checked on me. Granted she is not going to do anything medically for me, but she can alert someone else that I might be in trouble. I had to call her before I went to bed. Even a long distance friend could help in this manner. If you don’t check in with them at an appointed time, they would call/text someone near you.

      Two friends from volunteer job offered to drive me, so no worries about getting home.

      The doc himself also called after dinner on the appointment day to make sure I was settling in for the evening.

      If I had no other choices I would ask at a local church if they knew of a trust worthy person to help.

    10. Quill*

      Luckily I got my wisdom teeth out at 17, but as a member of the perpetually single brigade, this is definitely a consideration should I ever move away from my hometown, where one of my best friends and a handful of old family friends live.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I had to be the “responsible adult of his choosing” for my husband’s oral surgery a few years ago. The dental practice made it clear that the only requirements were that the person had to be a legal adult, and be willing to identify themselves ahead of time. They didn’t ask what the relationship was, because I wasn’t going to make medical decisions for him, just get him home safely.

      At the time, my husband was working for Microsoft, and it was moderately common for people there to ask their boss or a coworker to do this for them: usually this was people in their early 20s, hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, some of whom now had dental insurance for the first time and therefore could afford the necessary dental work.

    12. Diahann Carroll*

      My mom just had oral surgery in January, and she had a similar issue. She’s single, I don’t drive, her friends work during the day, and my brother lives in another city six hours away (and was also working the day of her surgery), but she needed to get her wisdom teeth taken out before infection set in. So I took a personal day and stayed with her the night before, then accompanied her to her appointment via Uber. We also took Uber back to her apartment, and I stayed with her until the next day so I could change her gauze and make sure she didn’t have any side effects from the anesthesia.

      If I were in this situation, my mom or brother would be able to drive me (he’s moving back to our city – yay!). I would never feel comfortable asking a coworker to take me anywhere unless we were really good friends outside of work, but that wouldn’t even be an option anymore anyway since I now work from home and my coworkers are in totally different states/countries.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      IDK. I hate asking for help but I do know those places don’t allow you to Uber/Lyft or take a taxi home. I’d probably ask a young single co-worker because I’d expect them to understand the situation I’m in. But maybe if your boss was maternal/paternal. I’m thinking because you’re an intern and because you moved there for internship and because COVID has made things super weird.

      I’m a middle aged single person and I rely on friends. I recently helped a friend who would not be my first go to person for me, but having been in the same boat and maybe being in the same boat in the future I happily helped and considered it karma. That’s why my first suggestion was someone like you that will be understanding about why you’re asking.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I’m always curious when I read that they won’t ‘allow’ someone to leave a medical facility. Our local day surgery has similar requirements, but I’ve often wondered what they would do if I just walked out the door and went home however I choose.

        1. RagingADHD*

          When you’re well enough to walk out the door under your own steam and know where you’re going, they don’t have those type of requirements.

          If someone who is still experiencing the effects of anaesthesia tried to walk out, they have a duty to stop you, because you are likely as not to walk straight into traffic.

        2. Cassidy*

          And if your “however way [you] choose” approach means the very real possibility of endangering or harming others?

          What then? That’s what I’m always curious about.

        3. with a comma after dearest*

          I’ve been told that if you leave AMA (against medical advice), your insurance can refuse to pay for it.

          I had thyroid surgery a couple of years ago and had an excessively cautious doctor. My surgery was at 7am, arrive 6am, and the surgery was brief, I had a private recovery nurse for 3 hours, then I napped some, then i was D-O-N-E done but she didn’t come back to evaluate and discharge me until after 3! I wouldn’t have left AMA since I trusted my doctor, but it got tempting.
          And yes my mom, my guide home, stayed with me through all this. I really was in no state to walk or function on my own post anesthesia though so I didn’t question that rule.

    14. Dasein9*

      In your situation, I would probably have asked HR, framing it less like a request of their office and more like a request for advice. The folks who work in HR would know about services available more than the average person. If the company regularly does business with a given transportation company, they might even be able to refer you for a good deal or something along those lines.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I was also thinking you may be able to call an advice nurse or something like that at your insurance. They may know about transportation and home care services that the insurance company works with that might not be fully covered, but maybe you at least get a break on the cost.

    15. KoiFeeder*

      My dentist office didn’t ask questions about my transportation, so I just ubered when I got my wisdom teeth taken out.

    16. Budgie Buddy*

      No advice but been in the same situation. Had a friend from work walk me back to my apartment after I got an impacted wisdom tooth out in Japan. No issues at all; she was always very supportive and kind. Here’s hoping you can get your surgery soon – wisdom teeth are gnarly. :P

    17. Vic Venti*

      I’m a doctor in Australia so perhaps the system is just too different to compare but in the case of patients who don’t have someone to look after them post surgery, we would just admit overnight. Is that an option?

      1. zora*

        In my experience in the US, oral surgeons typically are not located in a hospital, so for dental surgery, there is usually not a location on site to admit someone overnight.

        In the case of some other kind of surgery, that might be an option in some cases, if you are in a full hospital location, but many times that would add significant expense and insurance likely would not want to pay since it wasn’t ‘medically necessary.’ So, if you could come up with an extra $15-20,000, maybe that would be an option? Or if the doctor was able to make the case to the insurance company that it was necessary to admit you. But otherwise, it’s another lovely example of the failures of a for-profit health care system.

    18. RagingADHD*

      Well, this isn’t going to work for everyone, but being religious, I normally look for a faith community in any new city and make my primary friendships there. Obviously the pandemic has made in-person meetings hard or impossible in a lot of places, but there’s nearly always some type of backchannel network where somebody knows somebody to introduce new people to. So even if I hadn’t found a close friend, I would be comfortable asking for help. They have volunteer teams for that kind of stuff.

      Failing that, I’d probably ask a neighbor.

      Failing that, I’d ask around for recommendations to hire an aide for the day or call a service that provides home help.

      A coworker would be my last choice if I’m going to be drugged. I do not react well to anaesthetics, and if I’m going to talk out of my head or boot on somebody’s shoes, I don’t want that kind of fallout at work.

    19. Cassidy*

      I was in this situation just recently. My strategy was to call a coworker and ask if she knew anyone who could drive me (which gave her room to say ‘no’ without actually saying it if she couldn’t help and me the opportunity to look for help from a trusted source). She did know someone, I paid the person handsomely, and got my ride to and from.

  17. Orange Crushed*

    How do you deal with coworkers that talk to you like you’re stupid? I’m half their age and they’re condescending and sometimes outright rude to me. They’re dismissive and it’s very frustrating.

    The one especially talks down to me like a child. She speaks very slowly, “IS… THAT… CLEAR?” Um, yes. I’m not stupid. I have multiple degrees and experience, yet they act like I’m an idiot….

    1. The Grey Lady*

      My boss does this. She’s extremely patronizing.

      I have no great advice, but do remember this: They are most likely projecting on you. They don’t really think you’re stupid. In reality, they are most likely insecure about their own shortcomings, and it comes off this way. I know this is true with my boss because she constantly makes mistakes that I have to fix, but she acts like I’m a huge burden to her.

      Most people cannot face their own weaknesses, so they project them onto someone else. In other words, don’t take it personally.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I have no great advice, but do remember this: They are most likely projecting on you.

        Over the years, I’ve noticed that it’s still faster to slow down and speak at a measured pace than it is to repeat everything twice. Especially when accents are involved.

    2. Ashley*

      I usually give it right back to them. Typically the person treating me like I am stupid though is actually not that smart and isn’t able to do their job. I find sexism plays into this for me and I have had to have the your not my mother and not my boss leave me alone conversation. It isn’t the best but if you can find a co-worker to role your eyes with it can help.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Be really matter of fact in a surprised tone.
      “Yes, thank you, that’s perfectly clear!”
      “Of course. Have I done something to make you think I can’t handle this?”
      Basically return the awkwardness to sender; make them explain themselves.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yup–master the calm “yes, thanks, I’m quite familiar with the procedure.” “Oh yes, I’ve done this often–it’s second nature by now!” “Yes, that’s clear–sorry, did I say something that made you think I didn’t understand?”

      2. Auntie Social*

        “Yes, do you want the instructions repeated back to you?” “Yes, do you want me to do the proof of service as well, or have you already done it?” (legal setting). You can be nit-pickier to show that not only do you get it, you’re one step ahead of them.

    4. Submerged Tenths*

      I have a coworker who used to be very explicit to tell me “this job has to be done today!” which irritated me no end. I finally started responding with “Oh, I am SO GLAD you told me. I had been planning to let it sit until Friday!”. And she stopped . . ..

    5. Senor Montoya*

      Cock your head and look puzzled. WHY…YES…IT…IS!

      Is this several people? Or just one obnoxious person?

      If just one, give the same answer every time. They’re the one with the problem,not you.

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

      I’m afraid at this point I’m so far down the “don’t-give-a-damn” hard left turn that I’d just respond to them in the same way they said it. “Is…That…Clear?” – my response “Yes…I…Think…So!!…What….else……want…me…to do?”

    7. Batgirl*

      Ooh it would be so tempting to whip out “Please calm down you’re getting yourself all upset”…
      But, assuming this person isn’t yelling (that would be an instant nope out, and a report to HR) then its probably best to let it whoosh over you with a big smile and “Perfectly clear!” Or “Why, do you need it explaining to you?”

  18. peachie*

    The recent posts about jargon and industry language conventions reminded me of an episode of The Allusionist about “Euro English” (will link in reply). English is the official language of the EU, but because many EU members aren’t native English speakers, they developed a kind of dialect that’s mostly English but with some fun linguistic quirks and alternative word usages picked up from other languages. (My favorites are “valorise” [to add value], “fiche” [printed materials], and “actorness” [level of involvement].)

    I’m curious — are there any words or phrases in your field/office that sound silly, pretentious, and/or unnecessary but are actually useful (or at least charmingly weird)? (I can’t think of any in my own, unfortunately, but I want to hear y’all’s!)

    1. No Tribble At All*

      “Precise” used as a verb meaning to explain precisely, as in, “could you precise me this part of the diagram?”

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Ah, the story of How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Term “Decisioning.” I am in banking and I used to HATE that term — but it is really useful because it refers to all of the steps, from the original qualification, through underwriting, counter offer, and communication of the final decision on the loan. When I kept finding myself using it because nothing else quite served the same purpose I decided to stop fighting it.

    3. Helvetica*

      I am a person who uses Euro English every day, working in Brussels, non-native speaker and wow, there are a lot of words like that! Often we also carry them over into our mother tongue – because they are impossible to translate while maintaining the nuances of what you’re trying to convey. There are too many examples to note but believe you me, many agonizing hours have been spent deliberating whether we should “urge” or “call on” someone to do something.

      1. PX*

        Ahahahaha. I spent a small amount of time working on bureaucratic things in my previous job and wow. Word choice debates for days!

    4. 7310*

      Necessary: Cartoning
      I’m sure it exists anywhere packaging occurs but not in any [electronic] dictionary ever.

      1. peachie*

        I had to google that one! And I’m glad, because I came across the most inexplicably mesmerizing YouTube videos (“Continuous motion cartoner C300” is v. satisfying). (Not sure this is the kind of ‘cartoning’ you’re talking about but I’m glad I came across it in any case!)

    5. ChemEngr*

      At my previous job, if a surface had product build up on it that was blocking flow or needed to be cleaned we would say it was “made-up.” I’m not sure if it was a regional term or just used at that specific plant, but when I moved to my new job and said that I got a lot of weird looks. No one understood why I was calling part of the equipment imaginary, which is when I realized it was kind of a strange term.

    6. aarti*

      I work in education in India and my two favourite English phrases that are sure to leave foreigners scratching their heads are:
      -Prepone: Like the opposite of postpone, to move something up.
      -Mugging: To memorise something especially while studying. Very different meaning than in the US!

      1. Batgirl*

        Mugging is quite British but a little old fashioned; though here you’d have to say “Mugging up on”. If you use just “mugging” that’s the same as the U.S. version.

    7. Anonymous tech writer*

      It’s a device that lights up or otherwise provides system status at a distance. They’re in airplane cockpits, building lobbies, control rooms, and more. But when I was entry-level I was writing documents with someone who mispronounced it so badly that I thought he’d made up the word. Not great when the new kid rewrites text to remove a strange word that is actually a product line. (Why yes, I started a glossary. )

  19. Loose Seal*

    I am writing this on behalf of my husband, Mr. Seal. He is a professor in a university system that has been 100% virtual since mid-March but is bound and determined to reopen this fall semester. The Powers That Be have decided that classes will be offered three ways: in person, by video, or a hybrid of the two, depending on what students want. That’s right, depending on the ever-changing whims of college students, Mr. Seal has to provide practically individualized instruction. (He will have about 120-150 students this fall.)

    So his question to other academs is what to prepare. He has been told by his grand boss that he (and the other professors) may have to rationalize the amount of face-to-face time spent with students if there are complaints he didn’t spend enough. But he can only have 25% of the students in the room at once. He’s hoping that he can have 25% on each of the three in class days and maybe the other 25% won’t want to come to class in public. He is still going to have to video each lesson because at least 75% of the students won’t be there. (This is such a mess!)

    To top things off, he had asked for an exemption to teach video-only this fall because I am at greater risk. He was told by his boss that they would make that happen but then our governor (who has been described as a dog with a bone once his mind is made up) said no exemptions for fear of extended family; exemptions are to be used only if the employee has greater risks.

    TLDR: Suggestions for how my husband can structure his classes this fall without too much overwork/exposure to coronavirus.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      If I were your husband’s student I would appreciate him making it clear on day one what my options are for taking his class and not ever having to be in the same room right now.
      I assume that since everything is at the student’s option he’s allowed to offer virtual office hours in addition to regular office hours, maybe he could offer a lot of virtual hours and far less in person hours. Another option would be having people sign up for office hours to limit the number of people but I don’t like that as much because it limits the student’s exposure to each other while still exposing your husband to all of them.
      I think that’s the two biggest things he can do it make it clear that while students are responsible for the material they aren’t required to show up to lectures and they can still access the lectures, and trying to make it convenient for people to use virtual office hours as much as possible.

      Another I idea I just had, what about topical office hours, encouraging students to come to a virtual meeting on x topic that has inspired questions in the past. This would probably be extra work for him at first but worked for me. When I was teaching the students who were most vocal that I wasn’t providing enough extra help (and were always the ones who couldn’t come to ANY of my office hours, or so they claimed) stopped complaining when I did this and often the other students would handle the explanation if they got the concept so it was just up to me to state the topic and moderate the discussion.

    2. IsItOverYet?*

      It does really depend on the level of the course and the content…so my plans do vary by class but:
      I am mostly working on a hyflex model (you can google it). For my physics classes, I finding or making videos for each topic (mostly finding) or providing readings on the simpler topics and then creating brief questions in a guided notes format so students know what to focus on/don’t just watch the videos passively. Then in class, we’ll work on the more complex problems (we meet twice a week and I should have half my class each day).

      My husband who teaches calc is recording his lectures (no guided notes) and then doing practice in class. For his upper level classes, he’s recording short lectures and then making the classes very project based.

      My colleagues in the humanities and the less math based sciences (such as environmental science) are switching to as much discussion format as possible. Recorded lectures or assigned readings and then discussing the topics in more depth during class time (granted our classes are normally 24 or less…) Students who are not in class are either assigned to “meet” digitally with each other or use the discussion boards on the LMS.

      But yes, it will be a nightmare – perhaps the most important thing we can do is set up expectations ahead of time with our students. Explain what we expect of them if they are not in class but are healthy and able to study and what we can do if they get sick. Ask how we can support them (with reason of course). Make sure we use the LMS consistently and effectively. Try to make sure directions and expectations are as clear as possible. Remind them that this is a two-way street – we will communicate with them and they need to communicate and be patient with us.

    3. Rosie M. Banks*

      Sounds like your husband and I are in the same kind of situation. I teach in a humanities field, and I’m already putting everything online, because the face-to-face experience is going to be ridiculous.

      I mean, really . . . . OK, only one-third of you can come to class on any given day, so that we can have social distancing. And then you get to see me stand in one place (so I am within sight of a fixed Zoom camera) and lecture at you, while I am wearing both a mask and a face shield. Realistically, we can’t have discussions, because most people (especially first-year college students) have agonies about speaking out in public, and a socially-distanced room with people wearing masks and sitting six feet apart is going to be so weird and impersonal that it is going to inhibit anyone who isn’t Hermione Granger from speaking up, and most students aren’t Hermione. I’m also going to tell students that I am not going to take attendance (beyond what is mandated for federal aid requirements) and even for that, I will regard logging on to the course management system as attendance. I am going to emphasize that if they have any anxiety about being in class, they are welcome to do everything online. I am also going to tell them that if they have symptoms of any sort (even “well, it’s just a tickle in my throat”) they should stay home for as long as they have symptoms, and that I will do the same if I have any health concerns. (I am fortunate to have accumulated sick leave over the years, so yep, if I get a cold, or allergies that might be a cold, or a wee bit of a sore throat, I’ll call in sick for a solid week or more.)

      Online there will be very complete lecture notes and Power Points, videos, discussion boards, and the option for Zoom meetings. I will also be widely available by Zoom and email. I am hoping that the vast majority of students will conclude that they can learn everything they need from me in an online context, and have no need to sit in a weird classroom and listen to a muffled lecturer deliver the same material that they can get online.

      I’m also fully expecting a big spike in the fall. A lot of the plans that I’ve seen put out by universities for face-to-face classes assume that students will actually wear masks, social distance, and avoid going to parties, bars, etc. This seems unlikely in the extreme to me, and I strongly suspect that we will have to go fully online within a few weeks of the start of the semester anyway.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      Just as an aside — this is not “the ever changing whims of college students”. Maybe your husband has had a different experience than I have, but these students are facing the exact same concerns your husband is — and maybe additional ones, like suddenly they can’t afford to live on campus so they need all online courses, or someone at home is suddenly sick, or the person who pays the tuition check has decided student must stay home/go to campus, the local covid situation is changing…. (I’ve been working with students the last month with exactly these situations)

      I work at a university similar to what you describe. My advice to my spouse (a professor) was to do what my dept decided on: plan on in-person (because Orders From Above), but be ready to go partially or fully online. It was obvious when we closed campus back in March that the pandemic was not going to go away before the end of the year. Better to be ready than to have to suddenly shift away from in-person like we had to do in the middle of the spring term.

      Your husband’s university probably has people on campus who can assist with developing online/remote instruction. My concern really would be providing equitable access for all students: don’t insist on synchronous lectures, for instance — record lectures, provide asynchronous activities and materials, be ready to work with students who have problems with *online* work (= they don’t have devices, don’t have internet, don’t have reliable internet, etc).

      1. Pippa K*

        I’ve tried (before and during the pandemic) to offer recorded materials, so that students can work asynchronously if they need to and access is maximized for people with dodgy internet connections, unpredictable home environments, etc. But it turns out that students often prefer the live sessions, and my university now insists that we must provide those, while also accommodating access problems. So effectively, we must prepare for every online course to work both synchronously and asynchronously, and this fall we have the added complication of courses needing to be in-person/hybrid, but ready to go fully online when disaster strikes. (My university is planning to bring all students back to full residential campus life, including shared dorm rooms and sports, so I give it 3 weeks before we’re a COVID hotspot. The surrounding community ought to be building barricades against us right now.)

        One thing I would suggest, that’s helped me and some of my colleagues, is to make this problem more visible to students. They really have no way of seeing that professors’ workloads have doubled, and that there are certain constraints to the current situation that might not have occurred to them. So I tell them – I get that your circumstances might be difficult, and I’m going to try to accommodate that as much as possible while still making sure this course gives you the skills/knowledge/preparation you need. Keep in mind that in some ways, your professors are in the same boat as you, and we’re all going to need to be flexible with one another.

        Your spouse has every academic’s sympathy, Loose Seal. At one point this past spring, I was doing three versions of everything – live and two different recorded formats – to accommodate student needs and preferences, plus different assignment and exam options. That’s just not sustainable. I really hope the fall semester goes better for everyone.

    5. Meh*

      I’ve been working as video support for a community college, and something he may want to consider is streaming his in-person classes to an unlisted YouTube video (so not just anyone can watch) and share the link in advance with the students who may want to attend “live” but not in-person and allow them to ask questions via the chat and then have the sharable replay available for those who are not able to attend . There are several free streaming options available with the phone or laptop/tablet. I personally have had good luck with Streamyard if he wants something that’s easy to use.

    6. kt*

      I’m just out of academe, thank g-d, so I’m trying not to think about this stuff too much — but I do know a few colleagues who are front-loading some of the ‘optional in-person’ part to include basically problem-solving sessions outside on the sidewalk using chalk. (My friends/ex-colleagues are in a STEM field in which working problems out on the sidewalk or an outdoor blackboard would be legitimately useful, as inside they work out problems on an inside blackboard.) Anyhow, one lower-risk idea that is kinda fun and also won’t work with all classroom or student configurations.

    7. Healthcare Worker*

      I really understand the frustration, as I’m in a similar situation. Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of success with making videos covering key points from class and posting them on line. I also make videos covering concepts that are difficult to understand. Students tell me they like the brief videos as it helps them understand the idea or validates their knowledge. This has helped to decrease my individual tutoring time which is very helpful!
      I ask students to take surveys I’ve designed to suss out what students need, want and prefer. Since these are anonymous I get pretty good involvement and that helps me recalibrate how I’m teaching.
      Another strategy I use (I just recently started this, and am pleased with the results) is topic specific study sessions. I post the time and topic and students can participate at will. I record all of my classes and study sessions, so if they miss they can watch the video. It helps to retitle each video with topic covered rather than just the date. Good luck to Mr. Seal!

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      My husband has planned his classes as though they are all remote. Every lab, lecture, quiz and test (with lockdown browser and camera required on the syllabus so no surprises) can be done remotely.

      Then, he sent a survey to those who are registered already asking if they want in person lectures or labs. If he has requests for more than the 25% capacity allowed, he will deal with it. But most want remote.

      He has masks and we bought face shields. We are in a holding pattern to figure out the rest.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        He also has asked students to let him know if they don’t have internet or a camera but for the spring and summer, only 1 did not.

        He is wondering what to do about students who need to watch his face and mouth on the videos to lip read or go along with the sound. I bought some masks with clear fronts for this but we are not sure they will work so he is trying to figure out how to handle that. He does not want to teach each class twice, once in person and with a mask on and once at home with a mask off.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Automatic caption generation? YouTube will do it, and many other services will too. Real time would be harder, though maybe not impossible at this point, but the async videos should be easy.

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            I think the uni does add captioning but for some reason he is concerned that some want to see his face.

    9. Doc in a Box*

      I’m heavily involved in medical student education, particularly the pre-clinical curriculum. We went online with 12 hour notice this spring, and as expected, it was a disaster.

      For the upcoming year, I’m planning to do the following for my lecture course
      – pre-recorded short lectures (5 min or less) on specific topics. This meant breaking up my usual 45 min lecture into chunks. 2-3 quiz questions at the end of each chunk.
      – assigned readings; some online textbooks avail through the library, but I’m using more journal review articles (also avail through the library)
      – asynchronous discussion board in the LMS
      – optional synchronous weekly Zoom office hour for students to ask questions about the material. (Office hours are not the norm in med-ed, but given the rapid curricular shift, I wanted to make sure there was some way to allow back and forth.)

      My two seminars are 100% Zoom discussions, 2 hours per week plus an hour or so of homework.

      All the students do have to be in town because they still have clinical duties, although they are not allowed on the covid floors in order to conserve PPE.

  20. Admin to HR*

    How would you write this on a resume?

    I was hired as an Admin for the Llama Herding Team. My job involved running reports, ordering, and assisting with HR functions like hiring, the HRIS, answering questions. As the Llama team grew, the HR portion became a larger and larger part of my role. About 2 years into the role, I asked for a title change to reflect this so I became HR Coordinator: Llama Hearing.

    In my next position, I want to focus on the HR stuff. So the duties I’m highlighting on the resume reflect that. My thoughts on how to put that on the resume are below but idk…

    Llamas Inc.
    Llama Herding Administrator, December 2014 – October 2016
    HR Coordinator: Llama Herding, October 2016 – March 2020
    – Bullet
    – Bullet
    – Etc.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    1. Linking In*

      I’ve done this for my resume this week, where I had three overlapping but different jobs at one employer over a number of years. I set it out reverse chronologically (like the experience section overall, as recommended by Alison), so more like:

      Llamas Inc. December 2014 to March 2020
      {tab} HR Coordinator: Llama Herding, October 2016 to March 2020
      One-line description of duties in this role.
      {tab} Llama Herding Administrator, December 2014 to October 2016
      One-line description of duties in this role.
      Notable achievements:
      {bullet} Devised and implemented new timesheet procedure, saving 30 minutes per employee per week.
      {bullet} Employee of the Month, January 2020
      {bullet} Negotiated new contract with payroll supplier, reducing our liability by 9%.

      If the job titles are pretty industry standard, the one-line description may be unnecessary. If they aren’t, and you want to highlight that you don’t do payroll, or do do recruitment, that’s where that goes.

      1. Linking In*

        The jobs were functionally overlapping, not chronologically overlapping, just to clarify.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      The formatting looks good, just put the titles in reverse chronological order. And, I think you’re doing this, but use the official titles (and put more descriptive ones, if needed, in parentheses).

  21. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    My job said we have to go back into homes Monday…on Thursday. It’s not great and my coworker texted me a story about jobs filling your position before the funeral ( I haven’t replied. I have no idea what to say.) Does anyone have any ideas for socially distant activities I can do with children?

    1. Colette*

      What relationship do you have with the kids? How many kids? Hide and go seek, Simon says, red light/green light, colouring…,

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m their therapist mostly. I usually talk to one child at a time or maybe two or three in sibling groups.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            I’d usually have them color with me providing crayons or identify feelings with an image of faces or play Uno ( with my cards) I think I’ll buy some books to read to them about foster care…

            1. Colette*

              I think colouring would still work. Puppets or dolls as well (maybe paper dolls). Books are good.

    2. Violetta*

      do you go to their houses to care for these children? Driveway chalk drawings, set up a sprinkler in the yard, scavenger hunt

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        A scavenger hunt could be good. The kids have to get used to me being there physically. We’ve been doing telehealth so long I haven’t met some of these kids.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      What age children?

      My resources website is suggesting things like:

      * mirrors (staying 2m apart) – children pair off, then one leads and one copies movements
      * tongue twisters
      * charades and mimes
      * telling a story one word at a time
      * 20 questions
      * count to 21 – sit in a (socially distanced) circle, and take it in turns to count to 21, no rules, but if two people speak at the same time then you start again at 1

    4. kt*

      To the extent it’s possible, can you get the kids outside? Backyard, park, even onto a balcony or front steps or maybe the sidewalk if it’s safe to do so? Chalk drawing can coexist well with therapy conversations, or looking for nature (whether it’s urban, suburban, or rural). Crafts — even as simple as making paper airplanes with scrap paper from somewhere, or origami jumping frogs — might work. (I have no idea what your experience is, so I guess I’m drawing on my experience where some kids are more comfortable talking when they’re doing something with their hands.)

    5. Batgirl*

      I do small group activities with kids and my cards (vocab and grammar card games) will be laminated so I can clean them.
      I read to my kids too (fiction) and I like to have the shyer ones respond to questions about it on a whiteboard. Or I can give them printouts of a gingerbread man shape (What are the characters inside feelings? Write those inside. Are his outsides different? …etc), a Venn diagram (How are these two characters different/the same? Is she different/similar to you?). Another thing I like is to give them a blank comic to draw in themselves as they listen to the story. They can make up a prediction for the ending.
      Circle time should be possible with distancing if you can spread out outside. Then you go round and say what your favourite x is, how you feel today, never have I ever, or play a memory game.

      1. Batgirl*

        Oh, our drama teacher plays two circle games the kids love: wink murder/wink tag (the murderer kills you by winking and as people are taken out you have to guess who’s it) and spaced seating (Everyone has to sit down but at seperate times because if two or more people sit simultaneously they’re out.)

  22. CupcakeCounter*

    Finishing up the first week at my new job after being laid off due to COVID (position elimination). I was pretty salty about the whole thing (this is not a job I would probably have considered during “normal” times and I am required to be onsite for the time being and my ears are hurting from wearing a mask all day, every day) but so far, so good. The files are interesting and I don’t feel lied to…they completely own the fact that the place is a shit show and needs tons of work.
    The whole school thing is going to be interesting so I’m glad I have family who can take charge of my kid for the next month or so allowing me to deep dive and throw myself into training so I’m in a decent position if I have to make an argument to WFH full or part-time if school ends up remote. Unfortunately due to the nature of Hubs’ job, he won’t be able to help with that.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I found that the mask string caused my ears to bleed. Until I put some thin strips of bandage (I’ve got a roll that you cut to length) down the back of my ears to sit between the skin and the string. No more bleeding or pain after a 12 hour shift wearing them.

    2. Kathenus*

      Maybe buy some of the masks that tie versus having ear loops. It won’t solve the other issues, but it’ll take one stress of your plate.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Unfortunately my employer is giving us disposable masks we are required to wear and switch out 2X daily. I have really nice cloth masks with the filter that don’t hurt but they aren’t allowed. At least I don’t wear glasses like several of my other coworkers…they are having a devil of a time with glasses fogging up.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          I’ve got that problem as well. I need to keep pressing my glasses against my face to have them hold the mask against my skin and force my breath out elsewhere. Some brands of surgical mask are better than others, but that doesn’t help if you dont get to choose.

          The problems of mask wearing and the solutions could be a useful ask the readers topic now that a lot of us are wearing them.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            I have caps with buttons on them behind the ears, which will hold the mask loop so that your ears don’t have to. Works well. Also, depending on the mask type, you can put medical tape over the bridge of your nose (sealing the mask to your face), such that the air doesn’t vent into your glasses.

        2. Spice for this*

          We have to wear the blue/white disposable masks at the office. Yesterday, I saw something that may be helpful to you. My co-worker had the same mask with the ear loops in a strap that was behind his upper neck (imagine a man with short hair and the strap was just below the hairline in the back). I am not sure if the strap was a velcro piece or a stretchy material with a button closure.

        3. Lyudie*

          Google for “ear savers” or headbands with buttons, you can hook the loop around the notch/button and avoid all the irritation. I’ve also taken to looping a long ribbon through the ear loops on mine and tying it around the back of my head because my masks are a little big.

    3. ShockedPikachu.gif*

      Ear savers! Most of the nurses I’ve seen use some version of them. A lot of them are like a strap that goes behind your head with hooks or buttons that the mask loops go around. There are plastic reusable and cardboard disposable ones with different size settings, knitted ones with buttons that are very comfortable, and there are the ones that are basically a headband with a couple buttons. They really solve the ear pain problem (which is a pressure wound basically) and I find also make the mask fit to your face better.

  23. Minimal Pear*

    Hi all! I’m trying to figure out some reference etiquette.
    I’ve been furloughed from my position, and my boss was happy to offer to be a reference, so that’s good to go. However, I’m now coming across some job ads that require you to apply with three references up front (ugh) and I am pretty early in my career, so I don’t have many. There’s another person at the job I’m furloughed from who I did a lot of projects for, and he tends to be pretty effusive about how helpful I was. I texted him yesterday to ask if he’d be a reference and didn’t get a response. He’s usually good about texting back quickly. I’m trying to interpret what the lack of a reply means, and there are a lot of options. I’m not sure how likely said options are and I’ve love to get some input from people with more experience. (Yes, I am an anxious overthinker, however did you know, haha?)
    1. He can be a bit forgetful sometimes, and he’s been very busy, maybe he looked at it and then forgot.
    2. There’s some sort of policy around references at my old job that no one told me about when I was leaving where only your boss can be a reference or something like that.
    3. He has also been furloughed and no longer has access to his phone. (It’s a work cell.)
    4. He just doesn’t want to give a reference for some reason? Seems wildly out of character but is possible.
    If it’s #1 or #3, would it be weird to try and find another way to contact him to ask again? And would it be weird to ask another person at work I did a ton of projects/support work for to see if she could be a reference? Would it be weird to text my boss and ask her if #2 is the case? She would definitely know the answer. Again, I am technically still kind of an employee because I am furloughed and no one has yet contacted me to say it’s turned into a layoff.
    (But I was there through a temp agency so there’s almost no appreciable difference between a layoff and a furlough for me since I didn’t have benefits.) My other part-time job (which I am still at) does not give references due to a language and time zone barrier and I’ve lost contact with/have unfortunately burned a few bridges with a lot of the people I volunteered with. I do have one person from previous volunteer work I could ask but a) I’ve asked her so many times before, and b) she’s not impartial, as she’s a family friend. I am definitely overthinking this and projecting a lot of my job-hunting anxiety onto this situation!!!
    Also I suspect it’s not a coincidence that both of the jobs I’m looking at that require references up front are ones with clunky, convoluted application processes.

    1. Ailsa McNonagon*

      Take a deep breath, and then take a few more. This is almost certainly not about you at all- people have lives and responsibilities that are in no way impacted on by you. I know that sounds really harsh, but as a fellow over-thinker/ obsesser I often find it’s helpful to remind myself that something I’m taking personally is almost certainly not about me.

      Your contact could have been eaten by wolves/ won the lottery and flown to Honolulu/ dropped his phone down the toilet/ been offered a week of wild shenanigans with the person he finds most attractive in all the world. The point is that it’s 90% likely his lack of response is not about you at all.

      If you haven’t heard from him by this time next week, follow up with an email saying something like ‘I’m not sure if you’re still using your old work number, but I sent you a text asking if you’d be a reference for me’ and then explain why you thought he’d be great. People get busy or forgetful (or drop their phones down the toilet) so it’s very unlikely he’s sat at home thinking ‘Ugh, I can’t STAND Minimal Pear and now she wants a reference!! Yuk yuk yuk!!’ :)

      Keep breathing. This will be okay <3

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Oh yes, I’m much less worried about whether or not he hates me (for once) because he’s been SO effusive about how helpful I was. It would be wildly out of character and contrary to everything I know about him for him to suddenly decide he can’t stand me. What I’m concerned about is figuring out the professional norms around following up or finding someone else if I don’t hear back, and how likely people with more professional experience think the various scenarios I outlined are/if those likelihoods change how I should respond.
        Additionally, job openings close so quickly and randomly (in fact one of the two I mention in this comment is already closed as of this morning even though I think it was posted on Wednesday) that I’d prefer not to wait a week to hear back. Since he’s so good about responding normally, I’m leaning towards “no longer has access to his phone, may or may not also be furloughed”. If he is furloughed, he will not have access to his work email either.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          If you have an alternative method to reach him, use it now, but also follow up with the other person you mentioned in case you don’t hear back from him.

      2. Old Geek*

        Ditto. Please take it easy on yourself. there’s an old saying “Paralysis by over-analysis”. Odds are this particular guy is just busy and it really means nothing more.
        Now on the topic of ‘references’. its pretty standard practice in most industries to be asked to provide 3 references. It always struck me as fairly fruitless though. I mean, it would take a real imbecile to list a reference who would end up giving a bad ‘report’. So what does it really prove? It proves that you know 3 people in your field that were willing to speak positively on your behalf when questioned.
        As someone who has done his fair share of interviewing, i was ONLY interested in the reference person if it was somebody that i had crossed paths with in the past, or know currently. Then i can make a fair judgement. Otherwise? its resume fodder.

    2. Jane Plough*

      It’s also fine to contact your boss and ask if there’s a policy that only managers can give references (we have this policy at my employer and it’s not uncommon). Even if the policy is in place, I doubt this is the reason for your coworker not replying (I’d expect if he wasn’t able to be a reference he’d just say). He either didn’t receive the message or forgot to reply.

      Deep breaths and trust your instincts!

  24. The Mouse*

    I live on the west coast and my family lives on the east coast. One of my parents is pretty sick (not COVID related) and I want to go visit. The best plan I have been able to come up with is fly to a city where a sibling lives, quarantine there for a week or two, and then drive to the city where my parents live and visit for a couple of weeks. Do I have any obligation to tell work? I have been working from home exclusively since the beginning of March and will be doing so through at least the end of the year. I am planning on working most of the time I’m away.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t know that you have an obligation to tell them, as you are working from home anyway but is there any reason NOT to tell them?

    2. CTT*

      I don’t think you have an obligation to tell them with regards to COVID, but I think the time difference means you should make people aware that your hours will be different (unless you plan on staying on west coast time while you’re there)

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My parents are visiting me this week, and dad is working from my house. I got him setup with a desk and chair, reasonably comfortable and functional. He did inform his team ahead of time and let them know that there should be no interruption in work.

    4. Kage*

      Your office would probably want to know. Every state has different rules about the business nexus that would require them to potentially pay taxes/etc. in that state. Depending on where you’re going, they could want to limit how much/long you work there. I know some of those have shifted with the pandemic, but they might want to weigh in there…

      1. Observer*

        The Mouse is not moving nor are they even going for a huge amount of time. Their bills are still going to their current address, etc. There is nothing there that has any tax or similar implications for Mouse’s company.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          The limit in some states in 10 days, so given the example of “a couple weeks” it is wise to confirm.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      I would tell your manager to make sure she’s okay with you adjusting your schedule from west coast time to eastern time. You also want to give her the heads up in the event that you fall ill (with COVID or anything else communicable) and need to take time off when you get back or shortly after your return – this will provide context for your time off request.

  25. Different Name for This One*

    I currently serve as the Chief Marketing Officer for a small-ish company and next spring I want to step into a director-level position at the same company that will let me focus on the area of work I find most rewarding, think Director of Paid Media or Director of Corporate Communications. I am not worried about optics inside the company or positioning it to our CEO and COO, and will have an active role in hiring my replacement. (In fact, one person I hope bring on soon would be the ideal successor.)

    My question is: How to I position this on LinkedIn or my resume, so it doesn’t look like I was demoted?

    PS. I submitted this question to Alison a few weeks so assume the window passed where she would answer… Apologies if I didn’t wait long enough.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think using the word “pivot” will be your friend here. Perhaps in the first bullet point under that section of your resume, you’d explain the switch in focus from broad all-encompassing marketing to a pivot to focusing on a niche area of expertise.

      1. Clever username goes here*

        Teams admin here! MS has a bunch of training videos (short, bite-sized ones) available on their Teams website. They also offer suggestions and tools to help make the roll out easier. My smallish company used a hybrid mixture of Slack, Asana and e-mail (or texting).. it was a mess. Honestly though, the best way to ensure it is a success is to ensure everyone (I mean 100% everyone) is using it. Also, having the backing of senior leadership is key. Good luck!

        1. Clever username goes here*

          Ugh I don’t know why this didn’t go under the Teams thread.. anyway!

      2. 867-5309*

        I like the word “pivot.” I am also earning my master’s in the more niche subject so I think that will help make the direction clearer.

  26. JustaTech*

    My company is going to roll out using Microsoft Teams soon and I’m looking for suggestions of how to get my coworkers on board. I have lots of friends (in tech, I’m in biotech) who use Teams or Slack or FB Workplace and love it, but both my boss and my very slightly older coworker have already said they don’t want to use it. (I think this was mostly a joke from my boss; he likes to play the Luddite, but he’s perfectly capable.)

    Their reticence isn’t helped by two things: when the company tried to roll out Sharepoint about 6 years ago they did a terrible job, refused to give any training, and then the person who was the admin on almost everything for our department left and then everything was locked and unusable.
    The second thing is that the “training” we were sent for Teams consists of a 55 minute video of the WebEx training that the Executive team was given, complete with “can you hear me” and “can you please mute?”. Thankfully we also got a link to the standard Microsoft training page, but it’s not a brilliant start.

    So, any suggestions on how to get my team (of four) to be at least willing to try? My other coworker seems more enthused (her husband uses Teams at work and really likes it, so she’s more kindly disposed to it). Are there any good training videos or websites aside from Microsoft? Or is this one of those things we’ll just have to start using to make headway on?


    1. 867-5309*

      I work for a company that builds a meeting management add-in for Microsoft Teams and here is what we’ve found useful for customers struggling with adoption.

      1. Identify add-ins that help make usage make sense and give a strong business case for using Teams. (For example: With ours, you can created structured meeting agendas, merge the agenda to meeting minutes, track meeting tasks, etc.) This addresses a frustration (meetings that waste time) so people feel the benefit.

      2. Set-up Teams from the outset to work the way your team already engages, with the appropriate teams and channels. For example, our development team has channels for app translation, customer issues, work in progress, by product & add-in, etc., so it keeps conversations organized and people only need to monitor the channels that apply to them.

      3. Stop using email. When I first started at the company, this was my most significant learning curve but now, I despise email. We do all of our internal communications through Teams.

      4. Tag people or the group when you specifically need them to see something or response. Until people get used to checking regularly and turn on notifications, this will encourage usage since they have a direct message.

      5. Built into our new employee onboard is the Microsoft training for Teams, in addition to select courses we found on LinkedIn.

      6. A number of ISV – Independent Software Vendors – and Microsoft partners post blogs on the topic. (We have several ourselves.) Google search “how to get my team to use microsoft teams” and many of these will come up.

      Let me know if I can provide any other specific feedback or answer questions. I’ve lived in Teams for 2 years and now wonder how I will ever again work for an organization that replies primarily on email.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh boy #3 is going to be really hard.
        I’m hoping we’ll be using this for lots of our cross-functional project teams, and then it’ll really come into its own.

        Thanks for the tips!

      2. Lucky*

        Wow, I think #3 just made my heart stop for a second. What do you use instead of email – Chat or Posts or do you use a different app? We are literally just starting Teams in earnest and I have become the de facto cheerleader/trainer for our group (we’re Legal so pretty set in our ways/slow to change).

        1. 867-5309*

          Both. 1:1 chats when something is relevant just to that person and everything else is posted in the appropriate channel, with the channel or individuals tagged.

    2. Oh Snap!*

      I don’t know how much our IT customized it before it was rolled out, but I have to say it was pleasantly easy. I would suggest learning it yourself and then teaching the team in person if you are in the office together. It is pretty intuitive.

      1. JustaTech*

        I just got Teams 5 minutes ago (after I posted my question) and while *I* think it’s going to be super easy to use and useful, I’m also seeing that my immediate comparison is going to be a big problem.

        To me, it looks a lot like Facebook, as far as structure. But my coworkers (mostly) hate Facebook (for other reasons, mostly rude relatives) so I can’t use that analogy or it will instantly turn them off.

        I think if I can just get them to *open* the app we’ll be in business.

        1. 867-5309*

          I have never experience Teams as having a UI similar to Facebook. I’m curious as to what you’re seeing!

    3. Saltine In Disguise*

      Here are some of the things that I did:

      1. I set up my Team’s team with all the relevant channels I could think of (I manage 3 separate teams). Including an non work channel and a test channel (for practicing new things).
      2. I came up with a ‘scavenger hunt’ for my team using Teams Functionality as the things to hunt, to try to get them used to the some of the functionality.
      a. Post a cartoon in the off topic channel
      b. search for “something I knew that was there”
      c. post a file to a specific place
      d. add specific text to a wiki page
      e. start a meeting with a coworker
      f. use “@” to call my attention to a post
      g. write a post about functionality that you found or learned that isn’t on the scavenger hunt
      h. etc…
      3. I started using it myself… inviting people into channel conversations using the @mention, posts instead of emails, posting docs and using mentions instead of emailing, etc.
      4. keep learning yourself. I found out the hard way that if someone records a meeting that they need to share it with others otherwise it’s only viewable by the people in the meeting. You can also set up team channels in Stream to use for things like training videos, you can also create videos individually and share. (I’ve just started using this for quick things I need the team to know like the related… You must share the videos).

    4. Meh*

      Maybe just have an informal meeting with everyone via Teams to get them used to the basics? The training videos are fine, but I find with tech like this, it’s best to just go ahead and jump in and use it.

    5. Catskill Chill*

      It’s going to really helpful to get in front of this, and be thoughtful about setup and adoption. If the team just stumbles into it without clear direction and expectations, it can end up being a huge mess, and people will abandon it.

      Step 1: Tell your boss (especially!) and co-worker to knock off the negativity. If the boss is saying they don’t like it, it isn’t going to be successful, no matter what you do. They have to enthusiastically embrace Teams and model the behavior the team should adopt. Teams isn’t perfect, but there is no way to get the team to adopt it with the boss(!) sabotaging it like that.

      Step 2: Full disclosure: I’m a technology instructor, and teach Teams. If you can, advocate strongly for instructor-led training. Teams is perfect for virtual training, because it can be hands-on. They get to experience the power, get comfortable with the functionality, and begin to set guardrails and expectations for how the team will use it.

      Step 2(a): If professional training is just not going to happen, is there any way for you and the enthusiastic co-worker to work up an interactive session to showcase how you intend to use it (i.e., see, this is how it’s going to make things easier; it’s not a burden)? Make it hands-on and include some of the cool stuff. Look, we can both work in a file at the same time! You can set your background in a video call to look like you’re at the beach! I can join the meeting from my phone! And this really super whiteboard tool! Just being able to experience it will help. You’re basically becoming the Teams Ambassadors, keeping the focus positive.

      (I have tons of advice for how to successfully use Teams, but you asked about how to get people to try it, so sticking to that.)

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

      Your real problem is your boss isn’t aligned with this new tactic/strategy.

      Do you have a communication channel with your boss’s boss?

      (I think this was mostly a joke from my boss; he likes to play the Luddite, but he’s perfectly capable.)
      I think it seems like more of a deliberate act of resistance, actually. Feel free to disagree of course but that’s how I perceived it.

      1. JustaTech*

        Honestly I think it’s that Teams was just sort of chucked at us with no explanation of *why* we’re using it or what upper management wants us to use it *for*.

        In general upper management hasn’t been great about explaining how they want us to use new communication technology. The first Sharepoint roll out was a total disaster, there was never sufficient training for WebEx (for a while every single meeting took at least 10 minutes to start because only the big boss could start the Webex and the big boss was so busy he never had time to do the whole training.)

        Now, when it’s been time to learn new technical software, for data analysis or document tracking everyone’s been fine to excited to try it. So I’m hoping the resistance is mostly a case of “now what?” and after a week or two everyone will get rolling.

        (And boss’s boss is very likely to feel the same way, but he’ll just come out and say it.)

    7. asteramella*

      I’m not a Teams expert, but my org started using it in February just before the pandemic started really impacting our area of the world. It has been VERY useful for training new hires remotely (screen sharing during video calls to demonstrate processes, new hires can look at past conversations and reference documents via Teams, you can integrate Sharepoint document libraries into channels, etc). Having a couple of “fun” chats (that are easy to mute/ignore) has also been useful for helping my department feel connected while we are all working remotely.

  27. WellRed*

    I have to switch from using a MAC to the dreaded PC. Any suggestions on where to get a quick overview or tutorial? I know it will be fine once I get used to it, but things like searching for where files go, etc. is slowing me down.

    1. miro*

      I found this roundup of tutorials for folks switching from Mac to PC:

      Hope it’s some help!

      1. miro*

        Oh darn, I kept having trouble posting and now they’re going to flood in all at once (I promise it’s tech trouble, not spamming)

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Comments with links are often delayed – you’ll often see people provide an answer and say “link in comment below” so that the main part of the answer comes through immediately and they’re part of the conversation. THen the link can show up whenever.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Generally speaking, the Cmd- keyboard shortcuts will now be Ctrl- keyboard shortcuts.
      Find will now be Ctrl-F instead of Cmd-F.
      Save will now be Ctrl-S instead of Cmd-S.

      Closing a window (if it’s the last window) quits out of the application.
      And the Windows key launches up the Start menu, so you can find app or documents you’re looking for.

      Also, you can press Windows-E at any time to get up a new Explorer (Windows version of Finder) window open.

      Good luck!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I am having to use a Mac to get my virtual classes recorded and I hate it! Nothing is findable! Everything feels backwards and the moving icons on the bottom make me feel sea sick (I know I can control that but I’m not allowed to as it is a team station). I think the easiest thing is to just google how to x on a pc each time you find something you cannot do. I have been doing that and I barely have to do it anymore.

      But I still dont know how to find the USB if it does not open automatically when I insert it!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        But I still dont know how to find the USB if it does not open automatically when I insert it!

        It should just show up on your desktop as an icon. That said, since you say this is a “team station” you can’t control, it’s possible that the people managing that workstation have disabled the ability to view USB drives.

        You can check by going to Finder > Go > Go to Folder and then putting in /Volumes and seeing if your USB drive shows up there.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Thats so many steps to get to it if it does not open! But thanks, now I know.

  28. Brownie*

    Venting: Yet more contradictions between what my company says and what they do this week. They’re promoting work-life balance with my management telling everyone about how great it is working here because look at all the outdoors stuff they get to do on the weekends instead of working like they’d have to do at other companies. Meanwhile I’m looking at working the next 3 out of 4 weekends and being told by said management that’s part of being salaried, that we work a minimum of 40 hours per week and all other required weekend work (their latest plan would have me working 40% of my weekend days from now on) and that’s why we get paid better than hourly employees do. And I just want to go to the top of the management ladder and shake them going “That’s not what salaried means!”

    In the meantime we’re losing folks right and left post-reorg who’ve looked around, said “I’m not getting a pension, screw this place, I don’t have to stay here” and when asked? Management has no plan in place yet to hire replacements, just words about “innovation”, “doing more with less”, and all the other buzz phrases that boil down to “Yeah, whoops, we didn’t plan ahead for 15% of the department leaving and have no idea how to deal with this.” Kinda wondering if part of the whole salaried = 40hrs minimum thing isn’t also part of management panicking about being so severely understaffed as well.

    Just 5 more years before quite a bit of upper management retires and major change can take place. Until then I’m working on accepting the dysfunction as part of the paycheck and amazing health insurance while debating if I want to go management track vs technical expert track and which would be better in the long term 15 years down the line for me vs for the organization/fellow workers.

    1. sugar free*

      I don’t know why you are assuming major changes will happen when upper mgt retires (assuming they retire). Frankly, I’m not optimistic the company will last that long if they are managing this badly.

      1. Old Geek*

        Exactly why do you predict change in 5 years? dont waste another month of your time waiting for something that is unlikely to happen. you wont get 5 years of life back

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          This. Five years is a long time to wait for uncertain results. You know what’s a great benefit that other companies have? Not spending 40% of your weekends at work, on top of a full week of work.

    2. Observer*

      Do what works for you – there is no reason for you to make the decision that works better for the company if it’s not good for you.

      Also, maybe you should start looking around for something else. Don’t assume that good changes will happen in 5 years.

  29. Anonydoglover*

    I need some help trying to figure out what my next career could be. I’m currently in catering sales at a convention center and although I’m still blessed to have a job, we officially lost everything for 2020 today, and we are losing our 2021 business slowly but surely. I’ve always worked in events, and never thought about what else I could do if events went away. I’m in my late 20s and am open to going back to school, but would rather not. I do have a bachelors. Thank you!

    1. Lena Clare*

      Events for third sector, fundraising etc.
      Or hospitality front of house or management.
      And a field related to your bachelors.

    2. MadeleinesAreMoreIsh*

      In-house for companies – online events such as webinars, quiz nights etc will be around, if you are okay with running events rather than sticking only to sales.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Event planner here. I worry about this a lot too. I’ve seen such a slowdown in events industry hiring, with the exception of virtual event planners. Is that something that interests you? I’ve seen some posts in a LinkedIn group I belong to (Event Planners & Event Management) that detail new educational courses for virtual event planning. I think this may be the new norm. If you’re okay from shifting from catering sales, this may be a viable route to staying in the events field.

      1. Anonydoglover*

        Thank you, I will look into that. I just don’t know how viable that will be you know? I hope I can stay in events, but it’s not looking good.

  30. irene adler*

    Can someone provide suggestions on how I might respond when an interviewer makes comments like, “Well, you certainly meet the job requirements. No question about it. Just think you might become bored with the job very quickly.”

    Now, my current title is Supervisor. I don’t have anyone to supervise (My report quit a few years ago. Company opted not to replace him. Ever. So I do both jobs.). I’m interviewing for positions with the title of QA Analyst, QA Specialist, or QA Associate.
    My resume shows one job held for 3 years and second job held for over 15 years. No job hopping or temp or short-term positions.
    Now, I will add that I am over 50 in age.

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Colette*

      Explain why you’re interested in the job specifically, and why you find it interesting.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, you should specifically call out that you are looking to be an individual contributor and why. The fear in hiring someone “overqualified” is that they don’t stay, so you have to be pretty explicit that the job they have is exactly what you are looking to do long-term.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It sounds like the interviewer is assuming that because you’re a supervisor now that you’re not likely to be happy going “back” to an individual contributor role. I think that being able to speak to WHY that kind of role appeals to you will be helpful. My old boss, when she moved, decided that rather than apply for management positions in her new area, she’d rather be an individual contributor again–it’s certainly not unheard-of. You might want to say things like, “To be honest, the position as you’ve described it is very much similar to what I’ve been doing for the past few years, as the supervisory portion of my role stopped being relevant when my company elected not to replace my direct report after he left the company. I really enjoy being involved in the QA work itself–it’s always been the thing I loved about my career, rather than the supervisory aspect, and this job sounds like one I could see being happy in for a long time.”

      1. irene adler*

        Good point- which I neglected to mention.
        I do mention that I realize the job is an individual contributor-without supervisory duties. And I am specifically NOT interested in any supervisory duties. Hence I specifically look for job descriptions that are framed as individual contributor.
        I think your last sentence is the “clincher” I am neglecting to say. Thanks!

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I think it depends on what YOU want. Do you want something that you can do on cruise control, or are you concerned about being bored? Or you just need a job and don’t care right now?

      If it was the first, you could say you’re looking to scale back responsibilities. If it’s the second, you could find out if there are opportunities to expand duties in your role or advance. If it’s the third, you can say something like while the job duties probably are something you’ll learn quickly, you think engaging with new people or a new industry would be interesting because XYZ.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      She might think that the job is more detail and deeper detail than you have had in the past. With the types of jobs I have had if someone told me I had to sit and count the number of M and Ms in the package all day, I would get up and leave. I would not be able to count those little M and Ms and stay awake all day.

      I guess I would have said, “I feel like I missed something here. I didn’t get the impression I would be bored. Can you tell me what an average day would look like in this position?”

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      In a remarkably similar situation (current job for 3, previous for 14).

      Not so long ago, I applied for a job where I included in the cover letter, “Yes, I realize you are asking for X years and I have 3X years. I am applying because I believe in your company’s mission and I want to be involved in how you grow and move forward.”

      1. allathian*

        Probably, if you just say that and don’t specify. I like Not So New Reader’s script above.

        If the interviewer thinks “What makes you say that?” is a version of “Why do you say that?” which is often recommended as a script when you want to point out that someone’s saying something inappropriate (racist, sexist, etc.) without calling them out on it directly, it could definitely come across as confrontational.

    6. Sufferin' Succotash*

      This might be way off-base, but… is there any way you could get your current employer to change your title to be more reflective of what you actually do? I know that in some cases that wouldn’t be possible, because titles are linked to salary bands or whatever, and taking away the “supervisor” title could effectively be a demotion. But some employers are going to look at 15 years in a job and think you’ve been stuck in neutral for a long time (oh, the ageist double standard of job-hopping vs. stagnating–younger people are seen as “job-hoppers” if they move on after a year, while older ones are seen as stagnant if they stay more than five). Getting a good title change could show advancement *and* be more accurate. Even if it doesn’t help you get another job, it might make you feel better about the one you’ve got. :-)

  31. Emma Woodhouse*

    I’ve been trying to help my brother on his job search. He’s employed and hates his job/the industry and wants to make a change. He’s got a degree in finance from an elite university but he’s not super quick and I don’t think he interviews well despite him being extremely personable. He’s also directionless and doesn’t know what he wants to do. He’s miserable at his current job and he feels he’s in a dead end job based on who his coworkers are. We’re pretty well connected and between me and my father we got him interviews at all sorts of companies (from investment banks to conglomerates) but he couldn’t covert any of the interviews into an offer. This was when unemployment was 3.5% so we’re not sure what we can do now that the situation is what it is. He’s a bit naive since his friends that have been laid off from their sales jobs found new jobs within a few weeks so he thinks it will be easy to get into sales. I’m not really sure what advice I can give him, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. pancakes*

      It doesn’t sound like he wants to be in finance. I know you said directionless but he doesn’t have any interests? He’ll need to develop at least one at some point if he wants to be happy working. There’s an excellent local small chain of restaurants in my city that was started by a finance guy who was sick of his job, but he had a strong interest in that and strong ties to a related industry (lobstering).

      1. Emma Woodhouse*

        Luke’s? Love that brand and the story!

        Unfortunately his interests are surfing and snowboarding and traveling (and unfortunately he lives in an area that’s saturated with surf-related businesses started by former and current professional surfers).

        We’ve tried to suggest the restaurant industry or construction since he doesn’t like to sit still and doesn’t seem to be cut out for office work. It’s tricky when all his friends and peers have “brand name” jobs at investment banks and consulting firms and he’s working in a quasi-customer service role that he hates. What I think will ultimately happen is that he’ll quit and go work at a ski resort. We’re just worried about him falling behind and not being able to get back into a white collar environment if he chooses to down the line.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Have him check into finance jobs in manufacturing – lots of option and places to move within the company to help with job hopping and his antsy feelings.

        2. Reba*

          I see this worry, but I offer the anecdata of my relative, who worked in food service for a decade, eventually finishing their once-abandoned BA, getting a masters in computer science and starting a career in medical technology.

          So there are lots of ways people find their paths.

        3. MissGirl*

          Part time ski bum here who works with a lot of full time ski bums who have grand ideas yet make no forward momentum. Let him quit and follow his own path. You’re trying to wrangle his life—stop. As long as he is supporting himself, this isn’t yours to fix. I see so many people trying to fix their loved ones and get them stable work. IT NEVER WORKS. These guys talk a good talk but can’t follow through. Just nod your head at his latest plan and go on with your life.

          1. MissGirl*

            It’s not that they’re lazy. They just don’t want to give up the life they have for the life they think should have or others think they should have.

    2. Thurston Howell IV*

      Sounds like your brother has already benefited from a huge amount of privilege and is still failing. Maybe let him fail rather than continue to rely on your family connections – maybe letting him fail will force him to do the work to figure out what he wants to do rather than do what his family wants him to do.

      1. Wisco Disco*

        I agree. It sounds like the things you’re worried for, such as being able to return to a white-collar role and being negatively compared to his peers with “brand-name” jobs, are your family’s concerns, not your brother’s. He’s an adult, he has options due to his education, experience, and interests. Let go and let him figure it out. A little taste of discomfort might be good for him.

    3. Gumby*

      It sounds like your family has already been pretty heavy-handed in the help and advice realms. Maybe give him time to figure stuff out on his own? If he thinks he can walk into a sales job – let him try. If he wants to work retail at a surf shop – so be it. Any job he gets because you want him to have it is unlikely to make him happy.

      As long as your brother doesn’t expect you to finance his career exploration, there shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe he’ll decide he wants to head back to corporate America (or whatever country). Maybe he’ll end up being the happiest beach bum ever. But at this point it might be best to step back and let him handle those decisions on his own.

      It sounds like he might be facing a fair amount of pressure to have a job that comes with an impressive title. Even if your family would be totally accepting of his plans to work at ski resorts in the winter and as a rafting guide in the summer, there is a fair amount of implied pressure in having graduated from an elite university. I have classmates who are CEOs of companies that are household names. I have a classmate who has won major acting awards. It makes you feel like a slacker and an underachiever if you aren’t excelling in your field. But the thing is, I also have classmates who were unemployed for years (as I was), who hold normal everyday jobs that don’t seem impressive on the face of things, who are stay at home parents. They just don’t have magazine articles written about them. But they exist in far greater numbers than the ‘famous’ ones. And that is okay! Our worth as human beings is not determined by our job titles. But it takes some effort to wrestle with that reality so maybe that is an area where you could help your brother.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      It strikes me that your brothers sounds very passive in all this – he hates his job, he doesn’t know what he wants to do, he goes to interviews other people arrange for him, he is given lots of suggestions by family, rejects them all, but has no ideas of his own. Importantly, it doesn’t sound like he’s actually applying for other jobs on his own, or thinking of retraining, or, well, anything much to solve the problem himself.

      At this point, I think he needs to be left alone to work things out on his own. Let him find jobs and apply for them himself, or stay in this job, or quit and work at a surf shop, or apply for other training. Stop arranging interviews, don’t give any unsolicited advice, and limit the amount of time you spend listening to him complain about how much his job sucks. Only offer advice if he asks directly for it.

      He may decide his job is okay for now. He may get up the motivation to actively try to get something different. He may quit and work at a ski resort, or try and fail to get a sales job, or work retail for a while. He may come back to white-collar work, or be happy in a different job, or end up unhappily bouncing from one work disaster to another, but it’s his life and his career and his decisions.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know what aspect of finance your brother studied, but the coolest finance-related job I’ve ever heard of is a family friend who is an auditor for a major hotel chain.

      He gets sent to luxury properties all over the world, for a few months at a time, to review their books and sort out problems. I don’t know how the pandemic has affected his work, but I’d imagine that more problems for the properties = more work for the fixer.

  32. DapperDev*

    Does anyone have tips on how to advocate for a promotion during this pandemic/economic crisis?

    Just for context; my company had a few projects shrink in scope due to the economy. At the same time, one colleague in a separate department was promoted a month ago, and this month, my employer announced they’re hiring a new person in the other department. Definitely gives me the impression they took a hit, but are doing well overall.

    I’ve been with this company for 1.5 years. When I first joined there was a steep learning curve due to a bad manager. Since being reassigned a new manager, I’ve consistently received positive feedback on my projects. Also, I joined within a few weeks of two colleagues, (*cough* white men *cough*), who were promoted within 6 months of being hired. Kind of gives me the impression this will be much harder for me to ask for.

    Unlike a majority of my colleagues, I do monthly performance-related check-ins with my projects to make sure I’m doing a good job. I’ve completed training courses to deepen my understanding of topics in my field. I also (like my colleagues) have attended virtual workshops for additional training. I have made quite a few contributions to a recent, large project that started late and was at risk of failing to meet a major deadline.

    I feel like I might have a case to advocate for a promotion because I’ve grown a ton, I’ve consistently received positive feedback, I’ve taken a ton of courses/attended workshops, and of course there’s the large project that’s doing well. But my question is, as a minority, how do I advocate confidently that my contributions parallel colleagues who are more privileged and have had an easier time growing with my company? I feel a bit concerned that management will dismiss my efforts as, “Well, ya know, she’s doing what’s expected of her role”, as opposed to “she’s made a tremendous effort that’s paid off measurably in the form of successful project outcomes”

    1. DapperDev*

      Guess I asked a hard one, ha. I like my job, I guess I’m trying to figure out how to factor social inequity when advocating for a promotion

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I mean, I think you could frame it with reference to your colleagues or the timeline you’ve seen other people progress on. “I’ve observed that people often move from Llama Groomer to Senior Llama Groomer at about the 6-mo or 1-year mark. I’ve grown a lot in this role and my work shows consistent quality. I have made quite a few contributions to a recent, large project that started late and was at risk of failing to meet a major deadline. The Sr Llama Groomer title is something I’m interested in from a career standpoint, and I think it would let me expand my knowledge and contribute (etc etc – your pitch). Can I get your thoughts about what I’d need to do to make that move?”

      This is definitely going to depend on your specific boss, and definitely apply your own good sense. I have always been promoted through applying to an open position, so it’s not something I’ve had to do.

    3. Analyst Editor*

      If your relationship with your prior manager wasn’t great, from the outside it looked like you struggled for a year and only started to really improve since the new manager came. I think if you’ve been under the new manager for close to six months, it’s perfectly reasonable to approach them about a promotion.

      However I wouldn’t bring the other guys into it.

      1. DapperDev*

        Yeah, I’d definitely worry about appearing petty or failing to use examples that clearly point to my own contributions. We have performance reviews this September, so I’m thinking about asking formally during that review. Unfortunately there was restructuring and I now have a new boss (4 month old rapport!), but I’m hoping it’ll work out during the performance review. It just sucks to worry if people really feel that invested in my longterm growth..

  33. Email signatures*

    The post earlier this week regarding changing pronouns made me wonder, do companies usually let you change your email signature? Is that the norm for a lot of places?

    I’ve been at various companies for 20 years. Have always had a template. No one deviates from this template. The font , font size , etc are part of the template
    Company name
    Desk Phone/ landline
    Mobile phone if you have a company provided one
    Website of company

    1. WellRed*

      I’ve never worked anyplace that had requirements for email signatures. I also think it’s strange that your company lists the address above the phone numbers, since the phone is the more useful information in most cases.

      1. OP for this thread*

        This is just an example. Other companies I’ve worked at have included logos, time zones, email address (even though if I’m emailing you, you’d have it? But whatevs).

        The point being I’ve not been at a workplace that wasn’t strict on email signatures. I’m based in the US. Generally worked at larger (Fortune 500) companies.

        1. acmx*

          We have a template for our signature (also a Fortune 500 or better company) but I think we’d be allowed to add that.

          I now have my email address in my sig since mine has a number in it because there are more than one firstname.lastname at my company. And I think it would help if my email was forwarded?

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I work for a city, we have a rigid template and it has the number under the address. It also has my email address, weird.

    2. CheeryO*

      I work for state government, and we have pretty rigid standards for our email signatures for branding purposes. However, I have seen pronouns in signatures, and to my knowledge, no one has ever made a stink about it.

      To me, adding pronouns to your signature is more like putting a maiden name in parenthesis than adding a quote or making everything 14-point purple Comic Sans.

      1. Angelinha*

        I also work for state government and there are NO standards. People put the strangest quotes and even wallpaper backgrounds in their email signatures! I so wish we had a format. My nonprofit job had us use a template but people would add pronouns just in the name field

    3. londonedit*

      I’ve also never worked anywhere with strict requirements about email signatures. Mind you, I’ve also never worked anywhere where people have had crazy email signatures! Everyone I work with has something very plain and ordinary, but different people include different information (some people might include their working days if they’re part-time, or their working hours if they’re non-standard, some people include the main office address and some don’t, some have their mobile numbers, etc). Mine is very plain but with an inoffensive colour for my name rather than black, and in my department we often add a banner at the bottom of our signatures advertising the latest things we’ve produced.

    4. Helvetica*

      I work for the (non-US) government and indeed, there is a template and you must obey it, mostly because it includes design elements which you are not allowed to change, otherwise everything will look funky.

    5. Lyudie*

      Where I work now we have a very strict template and are expected to update our signatures when it changes (fortunately not that often). People do sometimes add extra stuff but we’re not supposed to. But I have not seen that anywhere else I’ve been.

    6. Llama face!*

      We also have a very strict email signature template that cannot be changed even in the smallest detail (font/colour/spacing) so it isn’t likely that we would be able to add to it without getting flak from our hierarchy. Although in the specific case of pronouns they may crumble because they like to be seen as a diversity positive employer and it could be argued as discrimination.

    7. PollyQ*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that had any kind of requirement for email signatures. Granted, my jobs were all internal-facing. Perhaps people who worked with external customers had requirements I didn’t know about.

      If your email is mostly internal, and you have a decent online directory, then attaching all that info to every single email seems like a huge waste of resources.

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

      The last place I worked pulled information from Active Directory into email signatures. As a result some people had their name amended in AD to pull it through e.g. “James Smith MS, MA, BS” which I think must have been just the display name, or did they put it into the surname field? As someone with equivalent or equal qualifications but without having quite the hole in my ego to necessitate spamming it all over my company’s communications systems.. I’m now not sure if I should feel greater or lesser than this guy.

    9. Anon Fed*

      I work in federal government and the only thing they’re really strict about is using your legal name for your email address and on Skype. If your legal name is “Jane Elizabeth Smith” then your email and Skype name is Jane.E.Smith at sillywalks dot gov, even if everyone knows you by “Elizabeth” or “Betty” or “Liz” or “Beth”. No one’s name deviates from their legal name.

      OTOH, the inspirational quotes! I want whatever drug these happy inspired people are on.

      If I were going to put a quote under my signature it would probably be something from “” or maybe something from a Morrissey song. “Every day I play a sad little game called, ‘In the future when all is well.'”

      1. allathian*

        Ouch. That must be really tough for people who detest their legal name for whatever reason and especially for people who are transitioning. I hope the process is smooth for people who change their legal name, though.

        I work for the government in the Nordics. Email addresses aren’t a problem, but we have log-in codes that can’t be changed with the first name initial and last name. It’s usually not visible, although the code is used in some of our proprietary software and it’s our “Windows name” and it’s also used in our ticketing system. Thankfully we use a PIN for login now rather than the Windows name + password that we had before. This code also follows you if you switch jobs to another agency. I’m not bothered by having my maiden name in that code, but I know some of my divorced colleagues who started working for the government while they were still married are bothered by the fact that they can’t get rid of their former married name.

        1. Anon Fed*

          If you legally change your name, for whatever reason, it is really easy to change your email and Skype name. Just have the documentation. Mostly they are people who change their last names when they marry, but I know of people who changed their names when they changed their genders and people who changed their names because they didn’t like them.

    10. asteramella*

      Pronouns are part of my organization’s email signature template.

      My org is primarily LGBTQ-serving so it makes sense for us.

      I use they/them pronouns and the email signature usually works pretty well to keep outside contacts or new hires from e.g. addressing me as “Mr.” or “Ms.”

  34. Practicalities*

    How should I handle my graduation dates on my resume when one is from 20 years ago and I’m afraid is pegging me as being too old?

    I’m a career changer and looking for my first job after finishing my second education (therefore I’m very much entry-level). My first degree was in a STEM field — I graduated in 2001 and I have 15 years experience that came after it. My second education is in accounting, with certificates in 2018 and 2020 that total up to be equivalent to a Bachelor’s and a Master’s. This is more or less what I have on my resume to explain it:

    – University of __: Accountancy Certificate (2020) (equivalent to a graduate diploma)
    – University of __: Post Graduate Certificate in Accounting (2018) (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree)
    – University of __: Bachelor of Science in STEM field (2001)

    I’ve included the graduation date from my first degree because I thought it would look weird if it was the only one without a date. But it’s also definitely signalling that I’m in my forties…which I’m afraid for some jobs might send me to the “no” pile because they’d rather have a more typical whippersnapper in their 20s for the busy season.

    Any thoughts are much appreciated!

    1. Emmie*

      I recommend removing all the dates.

      You also list one as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. I understand why you’re distinguishing the bachelors vs. graduate level. Is it more accurate to call it a “bachelor’s level certification?”

      1. fhqwhgads*

        In my experience, “Post Graduate Certificate” is usually master’s level – it is not a master’s degree and shouldn’t be called that, but it is usually equivalent. So if this one is in fact bachelor’s level, it’s probably useful that it is noted as such because I’d expect people familiar with that type of degree to assume it is higher level.

        I agree though about just not listing any dates.

        1. Practicalities*

          To clarify — the title of that bachelor’s-level certificate is literally what the university calls it. You’re right, it’s definitely not master’s level, but in order to be accepted into the program you must already have a bachelor’s degree in something other than accounting, hence the “post graduate” naming.

          I copied the title in order that if necessary, the employer can google the university and program for more info.

    2. irene adler*

      Remove the dates for certs and degrees and such.
      No reason to include them. Let them make an inquiry if they are looking for these dates.

      Or, just include the dates for the certs as they are recent.

      And yes, college graduation dates do date you. And yes, companies will try to exclude you using these dates.

      Believe me, I know.
      I leave the dates off for all my degrees. And yes, I’ve been point blank asked for the graduation year of the earliest degree. I responded and …. crickets.
      So do whatever you can not to give this information.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’m less sure about that in this case. If she has her job experience listed but no dates on the degrees, I would wonder why she had STEM jobs for 15 years. Did she get the accounting education early and not use it, or is it recent? Plus, if you list 15 years job experience, they’ll know you aren’t 25.

        It’s probably a case where you’re better off networking into jobs, but no one likes hearing that.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Just another random musing, but I consider being over 40 and a tail-end Gen x’r an asset. Our generation makes up a small part of the work place, compared to the baby boomers and millennial. We’re like unicorns. We have experience, but we have a lot of years left to work. We can use technology. We may have been ones to implement new technologies in jobs. We can relate to all the generations – boomers are our parents, millennials are our siblings (okay, maybe not everyone), and gen Z is our kids. All generations have positive qualities and ours aren’t necessarily exclusive to us, but I say own it!

          1. Practicalities*

            Completely agreed…and thank you for the reminder! I’m panicking some because I’ve been searching for a couple months with no luck and wondering what I can do to improve things. Just have to keep hanging in there, I guess. And remember that These Are Unusual Times.

            And get over my awkardness with networking!!

      2. Senor Montoya*

        Be aware that many places with an online application will ask you for dates anyway.

        For our hires, we often have “X years experience post masters” as a qualification. If your resume doesn’t have dates for your degrees, I’m going to have to go looking for it (now I’m annoyed you added to my workload). So check the posting carefully.

        1. Practicalities*

          Oh yikes, I’d forgotten that I *have* been forced to provide those graduation dates in the automated applications!

  35. Can't Sit Still*

    My boss had decided that no one in our department is going back to the office until we move into our new (COVID-19 safe) building next winter. Or, rather, she won’t consider it then. I am extremely relieved!

    But that got me thinking about the things I left at my desk, including a succulent, which I’m sure is getting pretty crispy by now, because when I left the office on March 5, I thought I would be back. Another coworker and I were chatting about all the dead plants that are undoubtedly all over the place now. Her team had a veritable jungle, too. Anyway, I guess it just hit that someone else may pack up my cube and move everything to my new space next year.

    So, did you leave anything in your office/at your desk that you wish you’d grabbed? Anyone else think they had time to go back and didn’t? If you’re back in the office now, have you brought home any personal items, just in case?

    1. Coco*

      I left about 2 months supply of contacts. I thought I’d be back in the office before the end of the year but sounds like that is a nope.

      I ordered more from my optometrist so I’d have enough to last the rest of the year.

      Hoping to make it in at some point just to see if I left any snacks or anything that could expire. The company has mentioned letting people in once to pick up belongings but need to schedule it.

    2. WellRed*

      I went back to the office to do something I couldn’t grab at home and grabbed my plants left previously even though someone was watering them for me.

      1. WellRed*

        Oh, and I left some containers of soup in the freezer. Those will get tossed by me eventually.

        1. Middle Manager*

          I don’t know why this hasn’t occurred to me until now, but I deeply hope the cleaning crew was directed to clean out the fridges. What kind of science experiments are we going to be coming back to when we every manage to get back in the office?

          I don’t use the fridge a lot, so dont think I have anything in it at all, but even in normal times half our staff is TERRIBLE at removing food.

          1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

            This is a real issue. Although the majority of our employees have been WFH since mid March, I have been coming into the office at least two days per week since then, and using our shared fridge for my lunch. I have been watching the leftovers in there deteriorate. I put up signs the day of the shutdown imploring people to take their food home to virtually no effect (their minds were elsewhere). Now I am just grossed out. Should I take it upon myself to post signs giving a deadline to move or lose contents of fridge? The problem is very few people are coming in so won’t see the signs (it would be a CYA move, not that I would sign my name). My husband says forget signage, I should just clean out the fridge and toss everything in there when I have the time, including people’s tupperware and unopened sodas. (Nothing has anyone’s name on it. ) I assure you, the situation is gross. Also our kitchen is not cleaned by the janitorial staff regularly so I also don’t want people cleaning out their containers in the little shared sink. Final point to consider, I am management and the others using the fridge are line staff (again, who are mostly remote while I am about half remote and half in person). I am definitely the person consistently using the fridge during this time, which is likely to last until January at least.

            1. saf*

              Your husband is right. I might save the containers, if you have a dishwasher to run them through.

              Maybe send out an email telling folks when it’s going to happen, then do it?

            2. Venus*

              I would quietly toss everything except containers that are fancy (glass, metal) and for those I would throw out the contents and put them back in the fridge or freezer if there’s room. No need to wash or make a lot of effort. Plastic with that much mold is likely compromised.

              1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

                That would certainly be going the extra mile… I really don’t want to open up people’s mason jars that seem to have lifeforms growing in them, drain out the lifeforms, and put the empty dirty jars back in the fridge. (we don’t have a dishwasher)
                Basically I don’t want to be the office mom, I want my colleagues to be adults, but in this case I truly am the person who cares the most about the problem!

                1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  Well, it’s less that you’re the adult and more that you’re the one present. Posting a sign doesn’t do anyone any good, because they aren’t going to be there to read or act on it.

                  I would send a company-wide email: “On (date, at least 2 weeks in the future), all un-labeled items in the company fridges will be thrown out. If you wish to retrieve a container before that time please X*”

                  One week prior, send a reminder. On your chosen date, let the Reaping commence.

                  * Where X could be:
                  – come pick it up at your convenience
                  – schedule with the office manager for a time to come in
                  – contact me with a description and I will put it in the freezer for later

                  If it’s just not reasonable for people to come in or for you to store select containers for later, then throw stuff out. You might consider an announcement just so people aren’t wondering, or you could post a notice on the fridge for whenever the office does reopen.

                2. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

                  Just toss them. While mason jars aren’t cheap all the time, Michael’s (craft store) always has coupons right now as they try to save themselves from the pandemic and sells them. Just toss everything with zero guilt and, if anybody asks, just say “oh, there was a smell” with no other explanation.

    3. BusyBee*

      I initially brought home all the “must haves”: my docking station, second screen, some reference items I use frequently. I went back this week to do some testing that had to be done in the office, and ended up liberating a few plants that were looking pretty rough. Plan to nurse them back to health and return.

    4. Colette*

      Calendars, office supplies, my work phone (we all have cell phones), … My employer mentioned in June that they were working on a plan to let people go back to pick stuff up. I haven’t heard anything more,

    5. blepkitty*

      I went back to my office to grab a file when they reopened our campus to some traffic in June. Miraculously, my snake plant had survived 3 months in a windowless office with no apparent water (it’s possible a cleaner watered it a few times, but it was definitely, as you say, crispy).

      I brought it home and repotted it. It’s struggling but alive.

      1. Ama*

        Snake plants do better underwatered than overwatered, thankfully. (As someone who accidentally overwatered hers and killed it.)

      2. lapgiraffe*

        An employee at a nursery recently told me re: snake plants “I’m pretty sure you could put them in a closet and forget about them for months and they’d still grow.” I’m not worried about my abilities to keep it alive but rather wanted a plant for a room that doesn’t get much sunlight, so now I’m feeling even more confident in this decision :-)

        1. blepkitty*

          If you ever see that employee again, you can tell them you can confirm! I’m not sure how many times it got light when someone went in to vacuum, but I’d guess not more than 30 minutes a day.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I actually did make a trip into the office not long ago. I asked, explained that I wanted to grab some things from my desk, and went on a Saturday. Zero issues. Worth asking.

    7. Rosie M. Banks*

      All my office plants are dead now. I feel bad about it, but I couldn’t bring them home, because they are poisonous to cats.

    8. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This is so silly and frivolous, but I miss my fancy Post-it Note dispenser! I also have snack cabinet that I should probably go clean out soon.

    9. Aphrodite*

      I have a large private office so I have lovely art on the walls plus a number of my personal things on the built-in bookshelves. (One is a lobster I named Clawdine.) I left it all there, and I believe it is safe since the campus is closed and locked and has been since we were ordered to work from home in mid-March. All of it is special to me since I wanted to customize my office.

      I haven’t thought about getting any of it because I am in interim housing and don’t really have room for it here. But your post made me consider going back and checking on it. I’m sure it’s fine; Security and Grounds are there but no one else other than staff, who are allowed in unless it is to get something they need when they need it. Maybe next week . . .

    10. Jaid*

      I’m back in the office and they spread us out for distancing. So, not me, but the lady in the cubicle next to the one I’m currently assigned to, left behind 5 empty Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cups (x-large, btw) and a bunch of glass jars that no one can identify the use of.


    11. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I wish I’d taken a picture of the nonsense and art on my whiteboard – the office has since been packed up and moved, so I’m confident it’s gone.

      I regretted not grabbing my second monitor for several months – happily, someone was able to bring one out to me a few weeks ago. I had a lot of little tchotchkes on my desk, and somewhat doubt I’ll get all of them back. Not out of any malice, but with someone else packing my desk it’s more likely that the small stuff was either missed or was lost in transit.

      They have slots for us to pick our stuff up this week and next, so I’ll see what the damage is on Wednesday.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      I mounted a rescue mission for the office plants in my department. Some of them were retrieved by their owners, but my balcony has quite the menagerie left. Should have grabbed my wireless mouse while I was at it.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My office has a section that is open so I went back in for plants, keyboard, etc. Took all my personal things home that I can’t easily replace. Left enough to look lived in. Went back a 2nd time for files & equipment needed in the 6-week time frame and saw that my co- worker’s plants needed rescuing… she’d arranged for someone deemed essential to water them, but very obviously that someone had no clue how much water plants need. They went into intensive care in my basement where I over-winter plants… they are still there, because she had a jungle and she lives too far away to return them easily.

    14. asteramella*

      My office was in the midst of redoing some cube arrangements. I had taken all my personal things home a few days before we went 100% WFH, since my former cube was taken by a new hire and I was waiting on my new cube to be constructed. So fortunately I didn’t have anything of my own to retrieve.

      A colleague also had the presence of mind to empty the fridge (thank goodness).

      I had to go in to retrieve some paperwork a few days ago. Seeing all the calendars turned to March was kind of sad.

  36. blepkitty*

    I feel like I’m hear asking too many questions lately, but here’s another one:

    My therapist suggested I may have ADHD. I’m seeing my psychiatrist on Tuesday and will bring this up then, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. Unfortunately, I have to read two chapters of a very boring textbook on something I already know by Tuesday, and reading boring things is one thing I’m absolutely terrible at getting done in a timely manner. Does anybody with ADHD or experience with ADHD people have any tips? Setting a time frame to focus and keeping away from social media doesn’t really work for me; in both cases, I end up spacing out a lot.

    1. Web Crawler*

      I am not ADHD, but my partner is. Is there anyone you can teach the material to out loud, using the textbook as a reference? If not, you can teach a pillow- the important thing is interacting with the chapters instead of zoning out while reading.

      My partner also has more sucess with the pomodoro method of taking breaks every few minutes, instead of doing things in one long block of time.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded – my partner keeps a little rubber duck on his desk that he explains things to ALL THE TIME. (The dogs don’t listen to him anymore.) And when I feel my attention drifting from what I’m doing, I start explaining it out loud under my breath like I was teaching it to someone else and it helps a lot with focus. (Neither of us has been officially dx’ed ADHD, but we both show a lot of the signs.)

        1. Web Crawler*

          He has an actual rubber duck! That makes me happy. Is he a programmer?

          I use my coworker as a rubber duck all the time. He doesn’t mind. I just tell him “I’m gonna use you as a rubber duck for a sec” and then I type out the problem and most of the time I solve it before he looks at the chat program. (I would explain it to the cats, but I have a very hard time with talking and a much easier time with writing.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            He’s IT-adjacent, but not a programmer :) I got him a whole sack of little rubber ducks to hand out to his IT team, after he was telling me about his habit of “rubber-ducking” to his coffee mug, and he kept a little teal one that kinda looks like a ducky version of Perry the Platypus for his home desk. I think he has Captain Ducky America on his desk at work. :)

    2. Not A Manager*

      Try reading the first paragraph of the chapter and then the last paragraph. Now go back and read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. If it’s a hardcopy textbook that you own, highlight the important sentences. If not, try to do a simple outline as you read those first and last sentences.

      If there are charts and graphs, take a look at them with an eye to what you’ve learned about where the textbook is going with the information.

      Now go back and re-read the whole chapter, if you need to.

      I could try to give reasons why this helps me focus, but the bottom line is that it does help me focus and it might be worth it for you to give it a try.

    3. ampersand*

      Fellow ADHD’er here:
      1. Take notes while you’re reading. It won’t make it any more interesting, but at least you won’t look back over two chapters and be like, oops, spaced out! No idea what I just read.
      2. Rewards. Plan something fun/engaging/that you like for after you’re done. This helps with breaking a task into chunks. Basically: work, then reward. Work, reward. Repeat.
      2. Drinking coffee before I have to do really boring tasks helps (as do caffeine and sugar generally). Stimulants help people with ADHD focus.
      3. Long term: Medication, if that’s something you’re interested in and can get/take. It’s what’s helped me the most.

      I feel you on this. I hope your appointment goes well!

        1. blepkitty*

          Everyone has politely ignored my writing “hear” instead of “here,” so how could I judge your numbering? ;)

          I plan to get on medication ASAP if the doctor agrees with me.

    4. Koala dreams*

      No ADHD here, but plenty of experience reading boring books.
      1. Textbooks aren’t read in order like you would read a novel. Instead, start by getting an overview of the chapter. Read headings, look at pictures and charts. Read anything that catches your attention and skip the rest.
      2. Take short breaks often, at least every 30/20 minutes.
      2. After a short break, decide on some parts to read a bit deeper. Since you already know the contents, just read the things you don’t remember well.
      3. If you don’t have time, skip the parts you know the best.
      4. Draw a mindmap where you write down the important concepts. Only write single words or short phrases, or draw doodles.

      Drawing isn’t reading strictly speaking, but I feel it helps me remember. The need to find at least a few words for the mindmap also helps finding the motivation to start looking through the book. Of course, some people do the mindmap before they start looking at the book, to prepare, but that sounds too much for your situation.

      1. blepkitty*

        #1 was great for getting me through some of this reading yesterday (since I already knew 98% of it, it didn’t take long enough for me to even need the rest). Thank you!

    5. allathian*

      Lots of good tips here. I think the idea is to avoid being a passive recipient of information and to process it actively instead. I don’t have ADHD and I’d much rather read 1,000 pages in a textbook than attend a boring series of lectures, but it really depends on the book’s structures. Does it have executive summaries after every chapter? At the very least, it probably has an introduction in every chapter outlining the most important points. If you’re already familiar with the subject matter, could you just read the intros/summaries and skip the rest?

      When I was in college I had to read a huge amount of text for a course, something like 2,500 pages. Most of our courses were about 1,000 pages and a paper. Then, just before the exam, I got sick and had to take the exam at a later date. Then I just read the summaries and intros and some parts of chapters that felt unfamiliar and aced the exam.

    6. RagingADHD*

      1) Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to read x amount. Just get all the stuff ready: pull out the book, set up your area, get your highlighters & post-its, make tea, etc.
      Give yourself a gold star or other silly/fun reward for doing that.

      2) Take post-its or other bookmarks and break each chapter down into logical stopping points that are more or less evenly spaced. (You are reviewing the structure of the chapter, but don’t worry about that rn). Gold star.

      3) If it’s a textbook, are there questions at the end of the chapter? If so, copy those down on paper with space for answering. If not, since you already know the material, come up with a list of questions for yourself. Gold star, and if your # of questions = the number of bookmarks, 2 extra gold stars.

      4) Read a bookmarked section at a time, with the goal of finding the exact answer to each question – not in your own words, but in the words of the textbook. Highlight any possible answers in each section. When you reach the end of the section, copy down what you highlighted. Gold star for each answer.

      5) Take a break after each bookmark. Get up, move around. Just make sure & use a timer so your break doesn’t become infinite.
      Gold star for each time you return from break.

      (They don’t have to be literal gold stars. Could be M&Ms, or a dance break, or a walk around the block – whatever feels to you like a small prize.)

      This combines a lot of the techniques that help me: treating prep work as part of the task; rewards; defining concrete sub-tasks; invoking curiosity to find answers/solutions; using multiple ways of interacting with a text; using tactile interactions; scheduling breaks in satisfying places rather than arbitrary times.

    7. Katydid*

      I have ADHD and my thing with boring meetings/lectures/reading is that I absolutely must fidget. If I have something in my hand to fidget with, it’s much easier for me to focus. And it keeps me from absentmindedly picking up my phone. Just search for fidget toys on Amazon, you’ll find a zillion, and even some combo boxes if you aren’t sure which type will work best for you.

    8. Batgirl*

      Turn it into a comic, or bullet points. Then read that. The other thing you might need is movement. If you can get it in audiobook listen while you do something active. Or you could read on a treadmill or while standing up (adding notes to a blank paper on the wall) or while balancing something on your head or feet.

  37. Store Manager*

    Last Monday I offered a candidate a job and the selected candidate accepted it late Tuesday. I had intended to call the other candidates I interviewed on Wednesday to tell them that they were not selected. But then life got in the way – some COVID related work issues came up unexpectedly that took up what little non-meeting time I had left. I didn’t want to call the candidates in the evening so I decided to call them the next morning. But then overnight, I received an email from one of the candidates saying he heard I hired someone else and that he obviously would have preferred to have heard it directly from me. Well, I would have preferred that as well, but the only way that could have happened is if I called them after 7pm at night. That didn’t seem right. And I honestly didn’t think they would hear about it through mutual friends. I feel badly and this has been nagging at me for the past week. I responded to the email apologizing but I know that is of little consequence. So, what do you think? Should I have called in the evening to deliver the news?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      No, it doesn’t sound like you did anything particularly wrong here. If I’m reading you correctly, the acceptance was on Tuesday and you planned to call people on Thursday morning? I don’t think that’s so egregious, to be honest. And I also don’t want to get rejection calls after working hours. The apology email was fine; you don’t have to apologize because you did something wrong, but it’s ok to say you’re sorry you didn’t get back sooner and leave it at that.

      Personally I think the rejected candidate should not have done that so quickly. Maybe this is me projecting, but I would have waited a day or two to see if, I don’t know, just maaaaaybe they decided to hire me for another position or something like that (unlikely but optimistic!). Or I would have played dumb and asked for an update a week later. I don’t think the rejected candidate did something bad or wrong, just kind of misguided. I mean, what if the current candidate doesn’t work out? As a candidate, we want to make sure we leave good, professional impressions.

      1. Bostonian*

        I think the rejected candidate was way out of line. Expecting such a quick response from the hiring manager is out of touch, but actually bitching about it to them is extremely unprofessional.

        1. pancakes*

          +1. Maybe for a high-profile job in an uncommonly high-pressure industry—head of a Hollywood studio division or something—the candidate’s behavior would make more sense, but for pretty much anything else it’s way over the top.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think that you may have dodged a bullet by not hiring that guy. That was unnecessarily aggressive or something.

      No, don’t call in the evening. Frankly, an email would have been sufficient to notify them.

    3. IsItOverYet?*

      Nope, you were fine. Thank you for getting back to people at all (and doing it relatively promptly). However, I personally preferred email notice…allows me to be disappointed in private

      1. BRR*

        Using the commenters as my sample size (So not comprehensive), it seems that while a certain group of people prefer a phone call, the vast majority prefer to receive rejections via email. It puts you as a candidate on the spot and when you receive a call from a hiring manager, Your brain goes to job offer.

        Anyways, this candidate is in the wrong.

        1. Amy*

          It can also be a cultural thing…. Where I’m from it is very normal to get a rejection email (maybe) for an application, but if you went to an interview they will normally call you either way because it is seen as the nice thing to do.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think that person was out of line. It usually takes a couple of days to nail down the absolute specifics (start date, references if you didn’t get them earlier) and at any point a party might realise that it’s a bad fit and withdraw. Functionally you actually received the acceptance on Wednesday morning, as candidate couldn’t know you would receive your emails after hours, and you didn’t call unsuccessful candidates during that day – that’s not slow.

      Sure the candidate would rather have heard he didn’t get the job directly from you, but I feel that’s a problem with his network rather than with you. Or it’s just bad luck to happen to have mutuals. Perhaps the successful candidate told their friends before they emailed you on Tuesday evening so the unsuccessful candidate thought you knew 36 hours earlier!

      I think if candidate had written in to Alison to ask if he should email you, she would have told him he was out of line and burning his bridges. It’s completely inappropriate for a candidate to scold a recruiter.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      You’re good…waiting a bit before informing others isn’t a bad idea anyway (and I’m talking a week or less) in case the person backs out shortly after accepting or they fail any background checks or whatever. Way easier to explain a short delay then notify them and then have to call around and “Oops…just kidding…we DO want to hire you”

    6. blepkitty*

      I’m not familiar with retail, but two days doesn’t sound terrible to me at all. And calling the hiring manager to complain about it is weird.

    7. Store Manager*

      Thanks for all the feedback. This has been bugging me as I really try to be respectful and want to keep a connection with talented folks so that we can consider them in the future, which is why I call instead of email. I do think that I made the right choice and am glad I didn’t go with this candidate as the tone of their email was mostly hurt but also snarky. And who needs that?

    8. Kathenus*

      The timeline is not at all unreasonable. The other candidate may have been disappointed but contacting you to say so was out of line, to me, if for no other reason than it may have hurt their ability to be considered by you in the future. Separately, I think you should email people about not offering them the job, that way they aren’t on the spot to have to react to the news in a phone call. The only exception to that I use is that I always directly talk to internal candidates who were not selected.

    9. HR Bee*

      I don’t ever tell finalist candidates we’ve gone with someone else until the background checks clear and start date is confirmed. Two days after acceptance is just not realistic.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, I would have waited even longer to let the other finalists know. Your selected candidate did accept the offer, but sometimes life happens, and the accepted candidate taking the job can fall through. I would probably wait a week or two before emailing all the other candidates to let them know the position got filled.

    11. Former Retail Manager*

      I don’t think you were in the wrong here. In fact, if you are in any type of retail-related management, I think you’re very kind to call candidates that are not selected. That is not something that I typically did when I was a retail manager, unless I was hiring for the management team. When hiring associates, I interviewed entirely too many to have feasibly called all the ones that weren’t selected. If you’re in a similar situation (interviewing a large number of candidates) I would consider telling them that you will be making a decision within x days/weeks, and you will contact anyone that you wish to move forward with and that if they don’t hear from you by X date, then they should know you’ve moved forward with another candidate. I know this isn’t the greatest, but depending on how many people you’re interviewing, it might be a solution.

      And I would call people up until 8pm when I was hiring, even if I were telling them no. It was typically a short convo so I didn’t feel too badly about calling in the evening. And this candidate sounds oddly antagonistic.

      1. Observer*

        I hate to say this – the fact that you didn’t treat people with basic respect is not a sign that it’s ok. It’s just another example of what’s wrong with retail. Letting people know that you’re not moving forward with them once they’ve interviewed is just basic decency. To not bother is not just “not the best”. It’s very NOT good.

    12. Observer*

      I probably would have emailed the rejections, but that’s really just personal preference.

      When you first started, I thought you were going to explain how you still hadn’t gotten to call people and how should you handle it now. Because honestly, what you are asking about is a total nothingburger. I mean, you didn’t do anything wrong, and the delay was minimal enough that I really think that the applicant was out of line.

    13. RagingADHD*

      No. The candidate is pissy because they didn’t get the job. If you’d called at a wierd time, they’d be pissed about that.

      You didn’t do anything wrong. You notified people in a very reasonable timeframe. They are just throwing an entitled snit.

      Obviously you made the right call not hiring this person! Dodged a bullet, for sure. Ugh.

  38. nep*

    Any thoughts on Kerri Twigg? Her approach? Her advice?
    I only just learned of her this week and I’m interested in what others think.

    1. nep*

      I will say, I had to turn off a video of her when she went on about letting a prospective employer know of all the grand things one has achieved during COVID lockdown.

  39. Unladen European Swallow*

    Just wanted to share an anecdote re: thank you notes, as it’s a topic that has a wide variety of opinions from this group. Want to state upfront that I work within higher education, so the norms are different than a lot of other industries/fields. I recently had finalist interviews for two different positions. One was an all day affair where I met with 17 (!!) different people and the other was an afternoon session a few days later where I spoke with 6 people. I had started writing thank you notes the evening of each interview day, but to be honest, I got exhausted after the hours of being “on” and it wasn’t easy making these thank you notes NOT be pedantic and perfunctory, but a value-add, as Alison suggests. Plus, I needed to do them for SO MANY PEOPLE between the two interviews! Long story short, I ended up not sending out any, especially as our office got slammed with unexpected work that had me working 50-60hr/week immediately after. Today, I had a conversation with the hiring manager for one of the positions where he expressed that some (most? who knows) of the interviewers expressed concern about not getting thank you notes, especially as the role is one where relationships with (ego-filled) faculty and departments have to be cultivated and managed. So, I might have shot myself in the foot with not sending any thank you notes. At the time, I rationalized to myself that when I hire people (which I’ve done a few times over the years because of vacancies on my team), I don’t hold it against them if I don’t receive a thank you note. So, oh well. It is what it is – we’ll see what happens.

    Anyway, just one example from academia where if you’re applying for and become a finalist for a position, don’t overlook thank you notes!!!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


      If there was an obvious chair or manager on the panel, it could have been prudent to write just that one each time, but the idea of writing 17 and then a further 6 follow-ups is ludicrous.

      Thank you for the reminder that some people really care about being thanked, though!

    2. Blue Eagle*

      You don’t have to send notes to 100 people, just send one note to the person who would be your manager and has the final say on hiring.

  40. B*

    Is there anyone who should use a combined functional-chronological resume? My industry is pretty much shut down for the foreseeable future. I’m trying to apply to jobs in other fields, but oof, my work history is very out of alignment with pretty much any other field– let’s say I worked in kangaroo shows, but with no more kangaroo conventions, no one needs a kangaroo shower, so now i’m trying to transition into teapot quality control. My education is in the theory of beverage holders, and I really do enjoy beverage holders and doing teapot quality control for my friends, but obviously kangaroo shows don’t do a lot of teapot quality control. I have soft skills that are transferable (gotta check the kangaroos over for parasites very closely!) and my cover letter does a pretty good job of explaining why kangaroo showing has, in a roundabout way, prepared me for teapot quality control jobs. I’m trying to sell my skills, not my job history, which sounds like a time for a functional resume, but this site hates functional resumes. On the other hand, I worry that a normal chronological resume will unintentionally highlight how little professional experience I have in teapot quality control.

    1. BRR*

      The reason functional resumes are frowned upon here is that it often feels like a candidate is trying to hide something, which is sort of what you’re trying to do. I’d focus on listing only your most transferable accomplishments at each job.

    2. ampersand*

      I’d stay away from functional and use the cover letter to explain your skills and transition. A resume summary on a chronological resume would help in this case; you could highlight your applicable experience and skills there so it’s front and center.

      Maybe someone else will say functional resumes are good in some instances? I haven’t heard much support for them but it’s possible that the naysayers are just more vocal on this topic!

      1. emmelemm*

        Just for a counter-example, my partner was unemployed for a long time, switched to a functional resume, and got a job. Does it look like you’re trying to “hide”/de-emphasize something? Maybe, sometimes maybe because you are. But he has some really concrete, measurable accomplishments that he could put front and center, and it made a lot of difference.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I’m genuinely curious: Did your partner only switch from a chronological format to a functional format? Or did he also change-up the wording to better frame the concrete, measurable accomplishments?

          Also, how far along the “functional resume” spectrum was it? Was it “Relevant Experience” plus “Other Professional Experience” sections or was it more full-on functional resume style?

          1. emmelemm*

            I’m not really sure what a full-on functional resume style would be, but basically it had “Skills and Experience” up front with bullet points on things he’d achieved, and then a chronological listing of jobs below that (with some still relevant but more general, less-convincing bullet points under each one). It just wasn’t “Top of resume is name of his last company, which is not the best company he’s worked for + dates he worked for it, which ended way too long ago.”

            When that’s basically the first line of your resume, it can get chucked out before they read a single bullet point, no matter how impressive and accomplishment-focused and using numerical metrics (using all of Alison’s advice) that bullet point is.

            Honestly, though, I think what eventually got him the job he has now is that, because the job ad was a little bit more “colorful” in its description than most in his field, I somehow convinced him to write his cover letter in a very personal, conversational style, and mirror the tone and a few of the words from the ad. I’d been trying to nudge him to do less formal-sounding cover letters with some of Alison’s advice thrown in, but it wasn’t moving the needle fast enough. But since the ad was a little “weird” anyway, I just said, “Try it this one time!! Just be really the opposite of how you’re inclined to be! Go wild! It’s just one weird ad!”

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              Ahhh, when I hear “functional resume”, I think a resume that doesn’t include work history in a chronological order. For example, the Balance Career has an article about functional resumes (the author did reommends *against* using them) and the example given has no chronological work history. That’s what I meant by full-on functional resume.

              What your partner did sounds like a fine format to emulate, since the work chronology is still clear. Just make sure the work history is clearly labeled and starts on the first page, so reviewers know it’s there.

    3. Fabulous*

      I would say perhaps just include a “functional” section to the beginning of your resume instead of outright replacing all the chronological content.

      Here’s some potential headings you could use:
      *Transferable Skills
      *Employment History
      *Other Experience

      1. B*

        That’s what I’m aiming for. Because my experience looks so random, I’ve put a transferable skills section in so that hopefully someone reading my resume will be more easily able to connect the dots between what the job is asking for and the concrete examples of a transferable skillset that I’ve got in the (chronological) work history portion of my resume. My cover letter goes a long way to outline why my work experience isn’t as bizarre as it might look at first, but I want to do what I can to make my resume cross that barrier as well in case that’s the only thing that gets looked at on the first pass.


  41. Third or Nothing!*

    I have a job that involves some tasks that don’t require full brainpower. To help me focus, I listen to audio books and podcasts. I just found out that some public libraries will let your get a library card even if you don’t live in that city. I applied for a library card online from the City of Grand Prairie, Texas, and have been listening to The Body is Not an Apology using their Hoopla subscription. I only get 10 items per month, but that’s still 10 more than I would have gotten! Never had to set foot in their building.

    On a related note, anyone have any suggestions for what to listen to next? For work, I focus on narrative storytelling, like the podcast Myths and Legends or the audio book Furiously Happy, because to me it’s less distracting than trying to follow dialogue or listen to in-depth analyses (although TBH my current audio book is a little too much on the in-depth side so I can only listen to it while doing the most mindless tasks).

    1. Quill*

      I’m a big fan of How Stuff Works podcasts. Particularly Stuff to Blow Your Mind (though I’ve had a few issues with their interviews in terms of listenability while doing things) and Stuff You Missed in History class.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I love SYMHC. I don’t listen to it too much nowadays. Really should get back into it!

        1. Quill*

          I admit I’m clinging to the Stuff To Blow Your Mind halloween episodes and have been since they were reissued in april, because plants that eat you are the better timeline here.

    2. it happens*

      The great influenza by John Barry. About the 1918 flu- very narrative and character driven, and it’s 16-17 hours.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Just checked my hometown library – the wait is 3 months! Wow, I guess everyone else had the same idea!

        Not available at the GP library. Rats. Like Inigo Montoya, I hate waiting.

    3. Ducks and Daisies*

      I didn’t know you could get library cards elsewhere. My local library only offers 4 Hoopla books a month. It would be fun to have access to 14 a month. :)

      When choosing a book to listen to while working, I look for easy to read books like cozy mysteries rather than hard science fiction books. I like to listen to books in a series that I’m already partway through rather than stand alone books. I already know the characters and the environment they’re in. As long as it’s not an in-depth series I can follow the story without having to focus to learn the basics of the characters and story. In the past I’ve also listened to children’s/young adult stories because if I do have to put more focus on work and miss a few lines here or there in the story I usually don’t miss too much in the story to keep following it. (This has the added benefit of keeping me up to date on the popular books/series my nieces are reading.) Another option is to listen to books you’ve read in the past. Basically you are re-reading books you already enjoyed and can more easily pick back up where you are in the story if you had to shift focus.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Harry Potter re-read it is!! LOL

        And yes, it’s new info to me too! I do live in the same metropolis, and my own library has a good collection of electronic resources, but they didn’t happen to have that one book I really wanted to read and someone in my running club suggested the GP library. It’s so nice to have more options; I was running out of simple audio book stories to listen to while doing my reports.

    4. Zephy*

      What kinds of stories do you like? Most of the narrative podcasts I can recommend are horror fiction, so uh, wear headphones, I suppose.

      – Welcome to Night Vale – 5 or 6 seasons, plenty of content, still updating. Begins episodic, slowly develops a sprawling continuity. Episodes very occasionally contain some gross descriptions.
      – The Magnus Archives – 5 seasons, currently in the 5th season; they’ve spread the final season out over the next 6-8 months, with bonus content between acts (next act starts September IIRC). Also sprawling continuity that takes a bit longer than WTNV to resolve into a cohesive story. The linchpin that the whole fiction turns on is the personification of various existential fears, though, so without spoiling anything, trigger warnings apply for everything, especially season 5.
      – The Second Oil Age – just a handful of episodes, I think 10? but an interesting story. Mentions of drug use and pretty graphic descriptions of violence/injuries.
      – Lore and The Cabinet of Curiosities – 2 podcasts, both by the same guy. Biiiig back catalog, episodes recount a given folk tale or account of paranormal experience in a narrative style. Lore is longer-form, Cabinet of Curiosities eps are about 10 minutes each. No discussion or analysis, no continuity, just Aaron Mahnke and his weird cadence.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I’m a bit sensitive to horror, graphic depictions of violence, and can’t handle much creepy. Lots of people seem to love Night Vale who also love the same stories I do, so that one is worth a listen I think. And Lore sounds similar to Myths and Legends, so I’d probably enjoy that one too.

  42. mdv*

    Today is the last day of a 2 week furlough during my busiest month of the year. I realize that I’ve had it “easy” compared to SO many people, but today I realized that the giant headache I’ve had most of this week is probably related to the huge “to do” list that I had to abandon 2 weeks ago, and how stressful going back at it next week is going to be… Anyone have tips for how to try to “enjoy” today and the weekend — my last days of this unplanned “vacation” without being miserable, and then how to cope with the stress of 6-8 weeks of work (we were deliberately behind schedule on something important when I found out about my furlough) in just 1-2 weeks? I know I’m not going to get it all done, and my boss knows that I’m not going to get it all done, but the stress of feeling like I am so far behind and then ignored it for 2 weeks is really getting to me!

    1. Senor Montoya*

      Maybe spend a couple of hours figuring out the priorities and working out a schedule/plan for doing your work over the next month or two. 40 hours/week, unless the expectation is typically for more.
      Don’t worry if it’s perfect, just put it together. Put it aside, enjoy the rest of your “vacation” knowing you’re ready to start next week.
      I’d put a meeting with my supervisor on day one, btw, to go over your plan. Maybe contact your supervisor now to ask them to set up a meeting.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your employer furloughed you. There are consequences to that. You’ve lost 2 weeks of work, which means that either they picked up the work while you were out, the finish date just got pushed out 2 weeks. Unless of course they want to get you some more help.

      Take a deep breath. Do whatever you normally do for stress relief.

    3. WellRed*

      You will not do 6 to 8 weeks of work in 2, nor should you do drop that idea. Your company furloughed you. There are consequences for them.

    4. Insurance mom*

      What am I missing? Isn’t a furlough usually when there is no work Or a funding thing? If there is so very much to attend to, what was managements purpose?

      1. mdv*

        In this case, it was a funding issue. I work in a self-funded university department, with a projected revenue shortfall of 9x what they saved by furloughing us…

  43. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Why is it despite all the crappy things my former company did (firing me for being pregnant, all the crap in the years before, and most recently retroactively terminated my health insurance by mistake), I still miss it? Reading the post about the 3 hour zoom meetings and it made me miss my old job and team and coworkers. 

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Very seldom are things all crappy, usually it’s a mix Probably there were good points there.
      So very sorry.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, even in the most toxic workplaces I’ve been in, there were still some small good parts, even if it was just a small handful of co-workers I genuinely liked.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Because when you’re wrangling a newborn, no matter how much you love them, you get nostalgic for a time in life that involved more sleep and less body fluids.

      It’s normal.

      Congrats, by the way.

  44. No Tribble At All*

    Has anyone hired / been a PhD who has 0 published papers at the time of graduation? My SO is graduating soon but unfortunately has not a single published paper to his name. The problem is he’s coauthor with his advisor on all of them (typical for his STEM field), and the advisor hasn’t read or edited them. He was supposed to publish 2 within the last calendar year and they’re still “under review” by the advisor. SO literally cannot submit these without the advisor editing & approving the papers, but the advisor just hasn’t. I think the advisor dgaf and stopped caring about these papers when SO said he didn’t intend to stay in academia. But now he’s really been screwed over because he has a very weak resume. Any advice?

    1. rodeoclown*

      Is this something that would impact his graduation? I haven’t worked on a PhD, but I know that at the university I attended for undergrad all of the grad students in my department had to have two publications to graduate. Disregard if this isn’t an issue, but I recommend following up on it.

    2. Anecdata*

      A lot of universities offer some support/coaching for grad students struggling with their advisor (look on the department resources web page; an “Office of graduate student life”; dean of students; etc). I’d recommend he check in with them – they can often help coach you through a conversation (“Hey Advisor; I really want to get these published, how can we make that happen?”) and offer support/backup if necessary.

    3. pancakes*

      He needs to talk to the advisor about this. Not gaf themself doesn’t entitle them to simply drop the ball on a coauthor. If the advisor is imminently leaving the field, maybe a successor or another advisor can be appointed to take over incomplete work? If the advisor isn’t imminently leaving they need to do their work.

      1. JustaTech*

        Ah, the academic power trip. The advisor is mad that No Tribble’s SO is leaving academia, so is holding the papers hostage until the SO caves, falls on their knees, begs forgiveness and promises to stay in academia forever.

        Which is gross and awful and sadly not that uncommon a story.

        Maybe the dean of the department can give the advisor a kick in the metaphorical pants and get the papers sent off?

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Your SO needs to speak with his advisor. He also needs to speak to the department head, if he gets no where with his advisor. rodeoclown is right, this could impact graduation. Generally, your SO should get at least 2 publications out of the dissertation- the literature review can usually be published, as can a shorter version of the original research. In fact, if your SO planned right, they should be able to get as book out of the dissertation, but that isn’t as common in the hard sciences as it is in the liberal arts. I would add though that this isn’t your problem. I mean, I know that sounds harsh, but in my experience, dealing with the BS that is academia requires the person most effected to have emotional investment in getting it done and strong allies in the world of dartment politics. So, your SO needs to find who will fight for them and get their help. If they don’t care themselves (and a lot of people get burned out in the PhD process) no amount of you pushing them will get it done.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      If your SO is not going into academia, I don’t think having 0 publications will be an issue for job hunting unless he’s looking at jobs where publications are a must (rare in my experience for industry). If he has conference proceedings, that could be helpful in demonstrating his ability to get his research out. But specifically for job hunting, having peer-reviewed journal articles to your name isn’t something I think is generally valued by industry to the extent that he wouldn’t be considered without them.

      Whether it’s an issue for graduation, I don’t know – it wasn’t a requirement for my program so I can’t speak to that.

    6. needmorecoffee*

      Ah. I could have written this comment about myself! I graduated with 0 papers and was hired full time into industry (STEM field). It’s taken 2 years but my 1st paper will publish this summer. If he’s not staying in academia, honestly, industry does not care. I would suggest writing his resume around what he accomplished during graduate study, lab mates he may have managed/mentored, skills, etc. He can also write “pending publication” and list the papers that way. Conference presentations? Patents? His resume shouldn’t depend on the publication of those papers, the work that is contained within them is what’s important.

    7. Emma*

      We had to have 4 published or submitted paper to be allowed to do our dissertations. Is he even allowed to graduate?
      He should speak with the supervisor and if otvunget happens, elevate it to the prefect or Dean.

  45. Web Crawler*

    I have an assignment with a coworker “John”- it’s to research technology for a new project. When we were assigned this, project management assumed that I would be taking the lead bc John doesn’t come to meetings.

    John kicked me off of the ticket (I added myself back without saying anything), and he made it clear that he’s doing the research, and that I have nothing of value to add (this was not said explicitly, but it’s John’s MO and he implied he knows about unstated requirements for the technology and ignored my input).

    My next 3 assignments are to implement the new project with the technology we choose. I’m not sure how to handle this. Usually I would just work on other stuff, but this *is* also my other stuff. And I don’t know how to say “I need more work bc I can’t handle working with John” without coming off as whiny and not a team player.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Sounds like a failure on the part of the project manager to track how the project is being conducted. At the very least, it’s a miscommunication on who has responsibility for this effort. I would bring this up to your manager and project manager. Lay out that you had been instructed to take the lead on project X with John, but John removed you without discussing it with you and it’s unclear how this project is being managed. Since your work is dependent on the outcome and you are expected to contribute to that outcome, you need some guidance on how to work this.

      (Also people like John are so frustrating! My sympathies)

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Does John know that your next 3 assignments will involve the new technology? I would push back with John and say I need to be involved with this project more than youre letting me. I saw you removed me from the ticket but I added myself back on. the reason why I need to be involved is that I will be the one working with this technology and I have insight into the assignments that this will involve, insight that you don’t have since you wont be working with this technology. Can we please collaborate on this more.

        Or something like that. I would try and do this in a written form, that way if he blows you off or writes back that your not welcome you can maybe use that to go to the project manager or whomever is heading your project and ask for help with John. But john sounds like a dick!

  46. Bubble teacher*

    Post for teachers (K-12):

    I’m not in the US and so far have been really happy about how cautious my country has been with all things Covid. Well, my region’s plan came out this week and I went with being okay with coming back (cases are quite low here) to terrified. No one in elementary and middle school has to wear a mask and high schools only in the halls. Students won’t have lockers and assemblies. No overall reduction in class sizes. 1m (3 feet) of social distancing should be maintained “when possible” (28 kids in my biggest class so nope), also, my country’s standard is 2m (6 ft). I teach middle school who, according to studies, can spread the virus as easily as adults, but there’s no special directions to mitigate the fact that I teach 100+ students per day. I’m also high risk and my ‘accommodation’ is that I get PPE.

    Is anyone coming from place that seems to be doing this right or wants to commiserate?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I will certainly send sympathies.

      My children’s schools (one for ages 4-11, the other 11-16) have been partially open for a month or so. The crucial factor is that they are making changes to how things operate within the school rather than going back to old normal, such as:

      * “bubbles” are established as subsets of students within the school (eg a year group), and each bubble uses their own toilets, entrances and exits to minimise contact between bubbles – also staggered break and lunch times
      * instead of students moving around the school, teachers move from classroom to classroom. Timetable no longer weekly and adjusted to minimise cross-contamination. Each student uses their own stationery etc and remains in the same seat all week.
      * students travelling on school buses will be seated in those bubbles AND wear masks on the bus
      * for gym days, students will wear gym kit all day rather than use locker rooms
      * for the younger children, mandated hand-washing times at regular intervals
      * early closing Friday for deep clean

      If there is a suspected case, the entire bubble quarantines at home and tests are offered. Learning switches immediately to remote for that group (schools provide suitable equipment or paper packets for those without necessary technology) until the end of the quarantine or negative tests, as applicable.

      They seem to be focusing on not letting students carry disease home, but I can see that the greatest risk is to the teachers.

      I hope you can find a solution that works for you. Very best wishes.

      1. Bubble teacher*

        Thank you! Your district’s plan sounds similar to mine, without the early closing for cleaning or clear approach to quarantine.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          The bubbles and quarantine thing is a national directive, I think.

      2. Batgirl*

        This is very similar to my school’s plan,(UK) except that the masks are for students to use on public transport since we don’t have school buses. We teachers are going to have our own bingo game with the following squares filled in as they happen to us:
        -Entire year group that you teach is sent home before you’ve met most of them.
        -“Miss, I don’t have any stationery”
        -“Miss, he licked my stationary!”
        -“What do you mean shaking my hands at the dryer isn’t the same as washing them! You don’t tell anyone else off. You hate me.”
        -“Miss, I’ve lost my mask and I don’t know how to get home” (looks like you’re walking, lad).
        – Students go beserk/claim publicly to have Covid because they’re sick of sitting still eternally in the world’s least comfy chairs.
        – “Miss I didn’t do any of the work while we were quarantined. I’ll understand this next bit though won’t I?”
        I actually can’t wait. It’s going to be batshit.

    2. PhysicsTeacher*

      Yep. My school district has not released their “plan” yet, but in a discussion with our negotiating team the head of HR said “being over 65 doesn’t automatically make you at risk” while talking about providing accommodations to people, so I’m… not optimistic.

      I have 130 teenagers come through my classroom on a typical day.

    3. NBB*

      I have heard there is a report out of Switzerland that states there is no world wide report of children bringing home Covid to their families or of any teacher getting Covid. Also there are countries like Sweden who never closed their schools and I have never seen any report of cases related to schools there. Wear masks and keep your distance.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Israel is having an entire second wave after they thought they’d beaten this virus back, that’s overwhelmingly caused by reopening their schools and having students infect each other, teachers, and their families. It’s the second most active vector in the entire country at the moment. They’re closing a lot of the schools back up again but a lot of damage has already been done.

      2. Bubble teacher*

        Sadly, it seems like many places, including mine, just aren’t taking the basic precaution of masks and space. Kids under 15 only have to wear masks on the school busses and there is no money or specific plan to reduce class sizes so we can stay further apart.

  47. LilPinkSock*

    My company is hiring, and many of the candidates require visa sponsorship to work in the USA. Because of ongoing changes to visa regulations, the expense to the company, and the fact that 5 out of 6 people currently in that department require visas, the hiring manager has determined that our company is not in a position to offer sponsorship right now.

    Where does this policy bump up against the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

    1. Anecdata*

      It doesn’t – companies can decide they aren’t sponsoring visas at all, or aren’t sponsoring visas for a particular position. Or that they’ll only sponsor visas for /truly extraordinary/ candidates, etc.

      (That’s why you’ll see a lot of applications ask “Are you authorized to work in the US?” or “Do you require sponsorship to remain authorized to work in the US?”. They’re allowed to take that into account).

      What they’re /not/ allowed to do is discriminate against people already authorized to work because of that person’s national origin; for example, hiring only natural-born citizens rather than naturalized citizens, or refusing to hire permanent residents.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Great, thank you! That’s what I was thinking, and your first paragraph is our company policy–only sponsoring in extraordinary situations.

    2. ampersand*

      I’ve seen so many job postings lately that say the company won’t be able to sponsor applicants. I don’t remember seeing that at all pre-covid.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        International work visas are a mess right now, between shutdowns affecting government offices making getting paperwork harder, quarantine requirements, and lack of international flights. We’re trying to get a new hire from overseas here, and it’s taking months longer than normal, even with both countries’ cooperation.

        Trying to get a work visa into the US is a complete disaster right now. New H1-B visas were put on hold, and as far as I know that’s still in effect, which means that companies may well not be able to sponsor someone for a work visa, period.

        1. ampersand*

          I hadn’t considered everything that went into the process, but yeah, when every last part is messed up…that makes a lot of sense that even if you’re willing to sponsor, you potentially can’t. :-/

    3. Observer*

      It doesn’t. The Act does not apply to employers. It applies to the US government and its policies around immigration.

  48. Less Nosy*

    I need some advice on following up for/reapplying for a job I interviewed for pre-COVID. Back in February/early March, I was interviewing for a position that seemed like a perfect fit! The hiring manager really liked me, and we got along great and aligned on a lot of things. Then COVID hit and the HR director let me know that there was a hiring freeze until April. I checked back in (with the hiring manager, who forwarded me to the HR director) in April and they said they were still having to wait indefinitely but were very interested in hiring me. I checked in in May with the HR director and received no response. Rather than continuing to follow up, I decided to let it drop so I wouldn’t be annoying.

    I see that the job I interviewed for is posted on their site, and I’d still be very interested in the position! My personal life/work life was insane for the months of June and July so this is really the first time I’m getting to think about job hunting again. Should I send in all new application materials and mention that I interviewed pre-COVID and retool my cover letter/resume based on the interview I already had? Should I reach out to the HR director again and mention throwing my hat back in the ring? Should I assume my window of opportunity has closed and just move on?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Can you tell if the job has been re-posted after being taken down, or if it’s just still up (regardless of whether or not they’re actually hiring right now)?

      1. Less Nosy*

        It was taken down from their Careers page during the hiring freeze (I checked to see if they had any kind of message up before re-contacting the HR director), so the job was definitely reposted.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          If they’ve brought you to the interview stage, I think they would let you know if you were not selected, if the job was open again. I actually disagree with BRR–I don’t think it’d hurt, a couple months after your last effort, to write the HR director and say “I saw this position has been posted again. May I ask if I am still being considered as a candidate after my March interview?” It might be that they’re looking to get more resumes but you’re still in the running, or they’re required by policy to post jobs again when a hiring freeze ends. Worst they can say is “no.” If they don’t reply, I’d assume you’re out of the running.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            In addition to reaching out to the HR director, I *might* also re-apply; it sounds like they have a ATS, so you should be able to see if your application is still considered active. Regardless of the active/inactive status, do contact the HR director.

            If you do re-apply (because your application status is “inactive” or “complete” or whatever), change up the cover letter to acknowledge that you interviewed and share what you learned from the interview process that makes you even more excited and a better fit for the position.

    2. BRR*

      I’d let it go and move on. You recently got as far as the interview stage. They are already past your resume and cover letter and know you’re interested.

  49. Emmie*

    Many large school districts are going virtual, or hybrid next Fall. If you have kids going virtual, what can your employer do to help you manage work and your kid’s education? What would you need to be successful, or feel supported?

    1. NW Mossy*

      The biggest thing: take meaningful action. Offer employees more choice than a binary all-in or all-out. Be willing to accept sub-optimal arrangements (part-time work, job shares, leaves of absence, reduced productivity/availability, etc.), because the alternative is parents quitting in droves.

      Offering up understanding, platitudes about self-care, or wellness webinars is not meaningful action. Those are quite literally the absolute least an organization can do. They’re passive responses that carry the unintentional undertone of “you, struggling employee, are on your own to figure this out.” For the message of care and concern to land as authentic and not fluff, it has to be backed with actions that demonstrate the organization’s willingness to meet employees halfway.

    2. Nita*

      Cut my hours. Our department has gone down from 40 to 32 hours, but I can’t even manage that. Realistically, I can put in 4-5 hours per day (so 20-25 per week), and even that is only if I stay up well past midnight every day.

      Also, if you have billable hours and weekly timesheets, for heaven’s sake, start the week on Monday and not on Saturday!!! I never know how many hours I need to work on the weekend, because I don’t know how many hours I will be short by until Friday is over.

    3. Bepuzzled*

      Please cut way back on meetings, video or otherwise. If something can be an email or Slack conversation, do that instead. Some households are going to have limited computers and/or limited bandwidth, and online classes are likely to be scheduled for traditional school hours like 8-3. And the cat-wrangling itself is going to be an issue for some; I’ve got two elementary-age kids, and trying to get them both set up with their Teams meetings while simultaneously trying to pay attention to my own is going to be messy.

      In fact, depending on how flexible team members’ schedules are, maybe consider scheduling meetings for outside normal business hours? If there are a bunch of people working flex time like 3-10, why not take adapt to that instead of trying to cram meetings into traditional hours.

    4. Emmie*

      Thank you, everyone. I want to continue supporting our staff in the Fall. And this was very helpful.

  50. Princess Deviant*

    This may get super lost in the comments, but here goes.
    I have got good credentials on paper, and my worth ethic is very good (I’m told this by my current employers). I’m respected where I work, and have a lot of knowledge and experience.
    I don’t have a problem getting interviews – but once I get an interview, I very often flunk it.
    I’m autistic and I think that I come across very badly in interviews. I just find it so hard to be a good communicator.

    I’m not really sure how to improve this.
    I’ve got Alison’s guide, and I’ve followed those instructions to the letter. I can be either good at answering questions I’ve prepared or I can end up waffling, but I freeze on questions I haven’t prepared.
    I find it hard to look people in the eye, and I use my hands a lot when I’m stressed, which I always find interviews make me feel. I think I look like I’m ‘flapping’. I need a lot of thinking time to formulate my answers, which can’t happen in an interview situation obviously.

    I don’t like to tell people I’m autistic.
    Are there any other things I can try to improve my communication?

    1. DashDash*

      From a fellow autistic:
      -Find workarounds that help you look in the general vicinity of peoples’ eyes. From across a table, most can’t tell the difference between “looking for signs of a unibrow” and “eye contact”
      -Can you incorporate the want to use your hands into how you speak? “Lean in” so you’re not fidgeting, you’re gesticulating!
      -Practice consistently speaking at a (relatively for yourself) slow, even pace, even/especially when you’re not spending time formulating your answer. You’ll get used to giving yourself more time to think as you go, and pausing won’t seem unusual.
      -Practice lines that will get you time before answering. I’ve used “That’s a good question – can I take a moment to think about it/organize my thoughts?” YMMV, but I’ve found this is usually well received, because it shows you’re willing to stop and think rather than pressure-blurt answers

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I especially like these. Thanks DashDash.
        Although sometimes I do get fed up of having to pretend to be ‘normal’ just to be accepted at baseline. It’s exhausting having to mask.

        1. Generic Name*

          Maybe think of it less than a mask and more of something you do to get a job. Like if you’d rather wear slippers and a bathrobe, but you know you won’t get a job wearing that, so you wear a suit. I guess it could be considered wearing a mask or being inauthentic when you’d rather be comfy, but you make small changes to make people around you comfortable.

    2. Web Crawler*

      The book “What Every Body Is Saying” by Joe Navarro helped me a lot as an autistic person trying to figure out body language.

      The other thing that helped me a lot were practice interviews- lots of them. Try to mimic the conditions of an interview as closely as possible- especially wearing interview clothes. Practice answering difficult questions, making eye contact, and saying “let me think” before searching your brain for the appropriate response.

    3. tangerineRose*

      Toastmasters might help a lot with this. If you find a good group, they’ll be fairly positive while helping you refine speeches, and the table topics section is great for interview prep. Table topics is basically impromptu speaking for a minute or 2, which is good experience for interviews.

    4. LQ*

      Here are a few of my tips. I do practice a few answers to death to get there. An example… I have a time where I had to learn a piece of software, I had a weekend to learn enough to train on it, but it was down most of the weekend, so I had to snatch what I could here and there to build the training. I did well enough that one of the people who helped build it learned something from the training I did. Now..I can use this story to answer questions about working with a tight turn around, an example of learning new things, an example of presenting in a polished way, an example of a bunch of things. But this story is one that I’ve polished and looked at and feel confident enough that I can use it to answer any of these.

      I have about 5 like this that I prepare for any interview and then I have a code for myself and have a couple quick scratches on my note paper, “weekend software – tight timeline, learning, presentation”. After I use each scenario I scratch it off the list so I don’t reuse it.

      This means I’m using formulated answers, but I’ve made them flexible enough to get me through most interviews. I also write notes to myself on my scratch like “That’s a good question, let me think on it for a moment.” so I don’t have to think about that I just use it and scratch it off and it lets my brain whirr.

    5. Princess Deviant*

      Thanks so much for the tips, these are great and I will use them. Have a good weekend y’all.

  51. LogicalOne*

    Hey there you coffee junkies. Question for ya. How do you handle approaching and speaking to someone when they haven’t had their morning cup of jo and they just aren’t “themselves” until they have coffee? There are several people in my department that you know when they haven’t had their coffee because they want to dismiss you right away, aren’t as open to talking as they usually are, dismiss your suggestions, when you try to be funny or lighten up the mood they just aren’t going down that route. I am just annoyed with people who don’t act normally because they didn’t have their coffee. It’s come down to some points where I just don’t feel like approaching these staff members because I get tone. Some days I will wait until after lunch when they “feel better” to approach them with questions. And I guess I can be partly to blame because sometimes I just like to do straight business and don’t really ask an ice breaker question. What’s wrong with going straight to business?

    What do you all think? How do you handle those who haven’t had their coffee and are not being themselves?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is about coffee. Are you approaching people first thing? If I sit down and immediately get someone rolling up to my desk with banter and questions, I’m going to tell them I need to settle in and I’ll get back to them later. There’s no excuse for rudeness, but sometimes I can be rather brusque in that situation. I once had someone follow me when I came back from lunch. She told me she was watching the door to see when I would get back. She started asking for things before I even put my coat down. That kind of thing is not going to get a good response from a great many people.

        1. LogicalOne*

          I am not approaching people first thing. Believe me, I am the same way. I don’t like to be approached with questions or business right after I walk in the door so I like to give people maybe 45-minutes at least or an hour before approaching them with business. If it’s just to say hi or ask how they’re doing, I will do it earlier on and even then I’ll wait a few moments before approaching anyone.

    1. BusyBee*

      Speaking for myself, I’m not much of a morning person and coffee definitely helps me perk up first thing in the AM. I’m also a pretty outgoing in Awake Mode, so if I haven’t had coffee I’m perfectly happy to answer questions and talk, but I’m just a little more quiet. I think that’s something my coworkers just have to accept: you want Fun-Busy? Come back at 9:30. You want Polite-But-It’s-8am-and-I’m-Still-Settling-In-Busy? Please come forward and I’m happy to chat.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      If someone needs until noon to get their act together, I don’t think that is a question of “needing their coffee,” honestly. Either they are hungover or they are just a jerk!

    3. Helvetica*

      I am someone who is pretty much “on” from the moment I wake up, but I definitely acknowledge that some people need a bit more time. I think you might not want to approach people as soon as they enter the building but for me, unless it is really urgent, I would give them an hour from when work starts/they arrive. Because otherwise they’re not being very good at their jobs if they require three warnings and are only approachable after lunch or whatnot.

      Mind you, this is coming from a context and field where everyone is generally always open to react quickly, and there may be difference in fields where loads of very concentrated work is required and you’re not supposed to just approach people any time you wish. But if that is not the case…I don’t think the requirement to have let the other person have three cups of coffee is your burden, but rather on them to not be surly about it.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you’re coming at them all cheerful and wide awake and a morning person and they’re just not, you need to tone it down.

      If you’re all business, no fluff, that’s really not going to work with a lot of people. Being minimally social is the price of good relationships. It’s not that it’s wrong to be all business, but you’re approaching them – you need to bend to reach them. When they’re approaching you, they need to bend to reach you. Add a bit of fluff, even if you don’t feel like it.

      Honestly, this is sounding less like they’re not themselves and more that they’re just not as good at hiding their annoyance with you as they usually are. Being very direct with many people isn’t going to work well. Adjust. (and I’m a very direct person, I’ve had to adjust.)

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yes, this. I’ll put it this way: when you ask me a business question and I haven’t even settled in for the day, I don’t even know what you are talking about, I’m put on the spot, and I get in trouble for not answering the question instantly, correctly, and cheerfully.

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I would do what you do: wait to approach.

      I can’t stand coffee and I straight up feel ill in the mornings, so would appreciate not being bothered until I feel like less chicken fried ass.

    6. pancakes*

      I enjoy my two morning cappuccinos very much and don’t think what’s happening here is caused by coffee. It sounds more like these people are cranky, hungover, you’re unfriendly in approaching them, or some combination of those things.

    7. mreasy*

      I strongly believe that if you are a coffee person who is less-than-functional before your first cup, you must have it before the workday – it’s not fair to coworkers and others you interact with to have the first hour or two of the workday be dicey as you wait for caffeine to kick in. Pre-Covid, I had one coffee at home and one after getting to work, because without the first, I would be miserable to deal with upon arrival.

    8. Littorally*

      Are they actually telling you this is a coffee issue, or are you assuming that’s the critical factor?

      If you have multiple colleagues who are less open to talking or joking with you than you would like, you should probably look inward for a pattern rather than outward. How are you approaching them? Questions like “is this a good time?” or “do you have a minute for a question on the TPS report?” are not ice breakers — they are functional inquiries that ensure that you are approaching your colleague in a way that is not going to cause problems for them.

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

      Some days I will wait until after lunch when they “feel better” to approach them with questions.

      Absent any other info this sounds like they are hung over more than just lacking coffee.

      I don’t normally operate “under the influence” but I’ve gotta admit that there were a few occasions in the past (about 10 years ago now!) where I’d drunk too much the night before and then went to work (No, I didn’t drive!) and:

      “want to dismiss you right away, aren’t as open to talking as they usually are, dismiss your suggestions, when you try to be funny or lighten up the mood they just aren’t going down that route”


    10. ...*

      I think sometimes coffee is a euphemism for “give me a second”. If you asked me something in the first 5 minutes I might say “oh let me get my my cup of coffee first” or something, meaning let me settle in, chill out and ill help you in a second!

    11. allathian*

      I don’t think it’s them. The whole coffee question is a red herring. I’m a morning person and if I didn’t have a kid, I’d probably be at my desk working by 6 am so I could stop by 2 PM (we have very flexible working hours), even if I had to commute to the office.

      I’m also a pretty direct person, but even I prefer a softer approach when someone wants something from me. Of course, it depends on the relationships involved, a boss can be more direct than a peer, but a friendly boss who can express requests/demands both directly and politely will probably have a better-performing and happier team, all other things being equal, than a blunt one.

      People will also need a bit of time to orient themselves to a question or a request, that’s why ice breakers are so good. You don’t want people to think “Oh no, what does that dratted LogicalOne want this time?” whenever they see you approaching.

      Also, do you need answers to your questions directly, or would it be better to use email instead? Although even on email, you need to consider your company culture and the people you’re communicating with, sometimes direct is fine, but not always.

    12. Batgirl*

      “It’s come down to some points where I just don’t feel like approaching them”
      So…….. don’t?
      I may be biased here as a non-morning person but what’s wrong with waiting until the afternoon? I will admit that while coffee helps me a LOT, if you’re waiting until the afternoon, it’s not a coffee issue. It doesn’t take that long to get coffee. It sounds like more of a scheduling issue. During the mornings I am super busy trying to wrangle the day into shape. The only people who aren’t are the larks who came in at dawn to set up, and are at the collaborating stage early so they can leave early. That’s not necessarily my schedule. Misreading someone’s busy levels is no excuse for them to be jerks to you though.
      “Sometimes I just like to do straight business and don’t really ask an ice breaker question”. You’re supposed to go in light so that you can retreat if it’s not a good time. Read and respond. Which you did, so yay!

  52. LQ*

    Distractions and chatter:
    I’m on a lot of conference calls, 6-7 hours a day most days. And a lot of the calls people want to have semisocial chatter. I hate it. It makes my skin crawl. I get irrationally frustrated with it. I just do other stuff until the call actually starts. Most of these people aren’t in nearly as many calls as I am and are looking for a little semisocial interaction. I could absolutely shut it down and totally stop it on all the calls I’m on. I’m trying to decide if I should. It’s rarely for more than 5 minutes and while people are getting on the call and set up, which on some calls takes a few minutes. Once everyone is online I generally cut in and move to the actual work. I’ve been letting it go at this point. But I’m interested in if people think I should be shutting it down?

    1. BusyBee*

      No advice, just sympathy. I hate the repetitive, boring chit-chat. If I had one call per day it would be fine, but hearing the same conversion like 6 times each day is like torture. I usually just say “hi”, put myself on mute and wait for everyone to arrive. Talk amongst yourselves while we get situated, and then start the agenda.

    2. CTT*

      Can you call in later? Not like LATE late, but at one minute in? You’re right to shut it down once the meeting starts, but doing it before might seem like you’re really focused on controlling everyone in the meeting.

    3. CTT*

      Could you call in a little late? Not like 10 minutes late, but 1 or 2 minutes so you reduce the amount of chitchat time you have to sit through? You’re right to shut it down once everyone is on the line, but I think you could come off as controlling if you ask that no one speak until everyone’s on.

      1. LQ*

        That’s sort of how I’ve been thinking of it. In the few times I’m on early I kind of want to catch the other person who is early and knock out a task or question that’s unrelated with them but I think I need to continue to resist that because it takes up too much of the meeting and brings up other questions.

        1. Observer*

          Don’t do that. There is too much chance of derailing or just delaying the meeting.

          1. LQ*

            Yeah this one I resist 95% of the time (I will send the email with the question though, which it does sound like it is my best use of the time). The only thing I slip through is a “Thank you for the thing the other day, really appreciated it.”

            1. allathian*

              Good for you. Most people appreciate public thanks, at least when it’s just a sentence or two, not a 10-minute ad lib speech. There are some exceptions, but if you work with someone like that, you probably know it and can act accordingly.

              Working from home, I’ve really appreciated that I don’t have to sit in back-to-back meetings. That said, when I feel like I want some social interaction with coworkers, I log in to Skype at the 5-minute notification for some informal chat before the meeting. That way, people who are more busy and in back-to-back meetings can log on when the meeting starts and we’ll get down to business within a minute or so. If the chatters are your reports, you could perhaps suggest to them to log on early to chat for a bit so you can get down to business when the meeting actually starts?

    4. WellRed*

      What drive me nuts is, when people call in to the meeting after it starts and announces themself and then everyone else stops and says “Hi, Coworker”

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Of course, with back-to-back meetings, it’s sometimes tough to get to the next one on time.
        Some of my teammates are in a lot more meetings than I am. If someone’s late, they usually announce themselves on chat rather than interrupt the discussion, it works for us.

    5. Senor Montoya*

      Don’t shut it down, that’s doing yourself no favors.

      I log in a bit early to meetings, mute the mic and the video, but leave the sound on (not too loud) so I can tell when the meeting actually starts. If you’re the leader, let people chat that five minutes, then turn on your mic and video, cheerfully say Hello everybody! It’s great to see you/Thanks for coming! Well, we have a lot to do and I want to respect your time, so let’s get started!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This. If it’s just 3-5 min of chatter, let it go. Use the time to get settled or stretch between meetings. We have this situation pretty often, and the large meetings now just expect to start at :05 after the hour.

        1. LQ*

          Taking a minute to stand up and stretch is actually a really good use of this time. Mostly I’ve been trying to knock out a few emails or tasks if I can but that makes me more distracted, a stand and strectch would be a good use of the minutes.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      While I sympathize, because I’ve been there, don’t shut it down. This is your sixth call of the day, but for some of these people it might be their only opportunity today to talk to someone outside of their COVID bubble. Use that time to tune out and give your agenda a quick review, or something else that would be productive.

    7. LQ*

      Thank you everyone for the gut check on this! I’ll continue to let it go and try to be less annoyed and turn the volume down on it, which will help.

    8. Observer*

      Step back and think about what you would actually gain by shutting this down? As you admit, you reaction to this is NOT rational.

      If this actually wasted significant amounts of time, that would be one thing. But that’s not happening. So there is no harm being done here. On the other hand, the other people on these calls ARE mostly benefiting from these interactions.

      Why would you even think that you “should” shut it down – nothing you mention provides any rationale for that.

      The real question is whether it would be ok for you to shut it down. The only reason to do that is to cater to your personal irrational aversion to semi-social chatter. Given that it’s not harming anyone, as much as you dislike it, and it is beneficial to most, I lean towards no. I would not say that you are a terrible person if you did shut it down, but it would not be on my lost of positives about you. And you take the risk of alienating people. That’s not something to do without some good reason.

      1. LQ*

        Honestly? It’s 5 minutes that I feel like something could be getting done. I know that 5 minutes doesn’t seem like much but it adds up over the course of the day. I know that 5 minutes isn’t a lot, but it’s another meetings worth of time over the course of the day. It’s essentially a few lost hours a week.

        It’s good to hear no from everyone and it reinforces what I think needs to be done, and I’m posting here during those 5 minutes. :)

  53. It's me*

    Hoping to get some advice on a job title for an accountant. I work in industry and came from public. If I had stayed in public I would be a supervisor or manager by now, but since I am in industry my title is Sr. Tax Accountant. I’m working on proposing a promotion/title change and want some thoughts, I had proposed a Supervisor title as that is what kind of translates to the amount of experience I have and we already have a tax manager. Are there other titles to consider? I have about 6-7 years of experience at this point and just wondering if other people have suggestions. I don’t want to be stuck as a senior accountant forever, and my boss is on board, but I want something that on my resume will convey properly what I do.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I’m an admin, so my solution would be to send a department-wide emailing reminding people to caffeinate their damn selves before coming to the office if they can otherwise not function as professionals. But if you are in any other position that won’t fly, I’m sorry.

      But seriously people: BUY A COFFEE POT. I would no more leave the apartment pre-coffee than I’d leave it stark naked.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Do you supervise anyone? If not I wouldn’t go the Supervisor route. You could change Accountant to Analyst – some people think that sounds fancier but others prefer the accountant title.
      The reality is that might be the highest title before tax manager and you are stuck with it. Corporate is a different animal and the titles aren’t as big of a deal as in public accounting. Public accounting is notorious for frequent title changes when most corporate jobs only have about 3 (associate, staff, senior) and usually if you have more than 1 or 2 years of experience in public accounting, corporate brings you in at the Senior level with no where to go for 10 years.

      1. It's me*

        yes I appreciate this perspective! I don’t necessarily supervise anyone directly, but am in charge of training and giving feedback, and keeping the higher ups on the team in the loop on what I’m seeing. But I see myself as more of a mentorship role vs. a manager role

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m less familiar with the tax side of things, plus my current company has a really screwed up title structure. Big picture to keep in mind: you’re not in public accounting anymore. The same title structure doesn’t necessarily apply. Don’t try to force it. Stick with the norm.

      Now, possible titles from an industry side that you could check for: Sr Tax Acct 2 (seriously, yes, its dumb, but it’s used), Assistant Tax Mgr. I haven’t really seen supervisor in industry, though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Linked in might help you here to see what’s being used.

  54. nep*

    Job searching. Zero interviews or even calls. I know a huge factor is that deep down I don’t know or own that I have a lot to offer to an organisation. To the point that I’ll go back and forth about even applying–and in many cases don’t.
    I know I’m really good at a few things, but the fact that I’m working to get back into an industry I’ve been away from for years (aside from the occasional one-off gig) is a huge drawback.
    This isn’t ‘woe is me.’ Just an observation and I know I’ve got to turn it around somehow if I want to make a living. Whatever else I have to do to present a solid case when I apply, I’ve got to first stop listening to the destructive voice in my head. All in all, learning a lot as I go through this and I know that somehow, someday, I’ll get there–be it working for myself or a company whose values align with mine.
    Meanwhile, grateful for my health. Thanks for listening.
    Wishing all job seekers all the best.

    1. ampersand*

      Right there with you! I had my first interview today after three months of job searching…it’s never taken me this long to get an interview, and I understand how not hearing anything back from employers can feel demoralizing. I remind myself that it won’t always be this way–while simultaneously feeling like I’ll never work again. Even though I know that’s not likely. Ahhh, brains are fun.

      I didn’t realize how much my self-esteem and feelings of competency are connected to work until I wasn’t working–so I actively remind myself that I’m wonderful regardless. You’re right, you do learn a lot as you go through this process. (Lesson #5,386 that I could do without!)

      Wishing you all the best, too! It won’t always be this way!!

      1. nep*

        Thanks, ampersand. Means a lot.
        I am getting a LOT better about not linking my worth to my employment situation, so that’s helpful progress.
        You’re right that both of those feelings exist at once.

  55. No Tribble At All*

    How can I stop my perfectionism from slowing me down? I’ve been working on a project that’s mostly code and I keep catching myself trying to make it as “python”-ic as possible. It’s not that I’m writing shitty code, but sometimes you need to just churn something out and clean it up later. But I hate the thought that someone would look at this later and go “why did they do it this way? eww”. Helllp!

    1. Web Crawler*

      Can you automate any of the code clean up? I’m not sure if you’re getting stuck on formatting or finding the Most Efficient Way for every piece of code. If it’s formatting, letting the linter decide what’s good enough might help.

      If it’s finding the most efficient way, think about the metrics for success. Obviously “code should be reasonably efficient” is one- don’t traverse a list to solve 2 + 2. But “solution should be implemented quickly” is another one. If you take years to write a new library that functions faster than the existing one, but your deadline was a few days, that’s also a failure. So is writing unreadable code, if somebody has to maintain it. Where possible, figure out these metrics in advance and try to come up with objective criteria if you can (that’s where linters and unit tests can help).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you do that? Do you look at others work and say, “why did they do it this way?”. Sometimes we project on others what we are doing ourselves.

      Another thing I have tried is to scare the crap out of myself. “If I don’t pick up speed here, I WILL lose my job.” Sometimes that helps me to do a reality check on my own standards.

      Reality is that most arenas cut some slack in certain ways. Does your work go through a QC check? Why not start there and aim for QC standards.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Stick a comment in saying something like “this is kind of kludgy, will fix later as time permits” or “this can probably be done more efficiently – check later”.

      It’s useful for you if you can go back and fix it, and useful for someone else reading the code.

  56. Amber Rose*

    I Expressed an Interest in Learning Something and Now They Want to Give Me the Whole Department.

    – A trilogy.

    Guys, I’m so bad at my job lately and the only reason nobody knows is because I have no oversight and nobody knows what I do. I’m not coping well with anything that’s happening at all. At this point, I’ve made so many mistakes and left so much undone this year that I don’t even know where to start trying to fix things and I feel desperate and overwhelmed every day, which leads to me doing basically nothing.

    And now they want me to start learning a new job with the ultimate goal of giving me the whole friggin department. On top of the two I already own. That I’m badly mishandling.

    As a more humorous side note, I did ask our CEO and my boss what my title should be during my job review meeting and we spent literally 20 minutes debating about it before deciding on one that, IMO, is awful. BUT it’s less awful than the one he proposed initially which was less a title and more like a paragraph.

    1. CM*

      It sounds like you’re spiraling a bit and getting into a loop of I’m doing a terrible job, I’m panicking and doing nothing as a result, now I’m doing an even more terrible job, OMG I am failing. But meanwhile, the CEO still has a lot of faith in you.

      Would you consider talking to someone, maybe your CEO? It can help a lot to surface these things and say them out loud. It sounds to me like if you said, “Hey, I’m concerned that X, Y, and Z are going wrong, and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of taking on even more responsibility without getting these issues under control first. Can we talk about this?” that the CEO would be willing to talk it through and help you with solutions and encouragement.

  57. Rose in SC*

    So I have a supervisor and a boss. I’ve been working from home since April. My supervisor and boss are switching off weeks going in our office. Until recently I wasn’t allowed to be in the office with my supervisor because she is the only other person who knows how to do the main task I do and the executive team didn’t want to take the chance of us being sick at the same time. I have been going in once or twice a week when my boss is in just to pick up mail and paperwork. So the lines of authority have somewhat blurred as I see my boss but only talk to my supervisor on the phone or thru email/chat and so he’ll ask me for info directly that he used to get through her. I get the impression she doesn’t like this. (For example, he emailed both of us for info that I had and she sent me a separate email that I needed to provide the info to her and she would pass it on, I didn’t need to reply to his email.)

    Twice now my supervisor has told my boss I’m wanting to be in the office more. This is not true and is actually actively discouraged by the executive team. They don’t want any more people in the office than need to be there. The first time she said this, I went to my boss and questioned him about being in the office more and he said absolutely not, I’m only allowed to be in the office if it is something that can’t be done at home.

    Last week, my supervisor asked me about being in the office for day long coverage. I wasn’t sure what to say (I don’t think well on my feet.) so I didn’t say anything. She said there aren’t plans for this now. Later I heard her on the phone with my boss saying “if we need Rose to come in for a day she said she would be happy to do it.” I did not say that! And it sounded like something she came up with to offer not something anyone expressed a need for.

    So I need to talk to my boss again, right? What to say that will not tick off of my supervisor?

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think you can complain that your supervisor is saying you agreed to things that you didn’t , if, when she does ask you something, your response is to ignore her.

      1. Rose in SC*

        I didn’t ignore her, I wasn’t sure what to say so I waited a beat and she immediately added “there aren’t plans for this now.” Its hard to convey all nuisances of an interaction

        1. sugar free*

          Fair enough, but it still doesn’t sound like you told her no. Or rather, “I’m glad there are no immediate plans to do that because I’m not comfortable being in the office.”

          1. Rose in SC*

            As I said in my post I don’t think well my feet. I know I botched this and should have handled it better in the moment but that’s done. I’m just trying to decide the best way forward.

            1. valentine*

              Email your supervisor, cc your boss, and say, “You mentioned me doing full-day coverage. I’m going to continue following our policy and only be in when absolutely necessary.” And suggest they send you the mail/paperwork so you can stop going in. Unless it’s illegal to (e)mail it, it doesn’t seem important enough to eschew technology.

              It would be different if she had said, “Rose doesn’t have a problem with it,” but she’s outright lying about you. Come up with stock responses so you don’t answer her with silence.

              The first time she said this, I went to my boss and questioned him about being in the office more
              Did you tell him why? He should know what she’s up to. I’m wondering if she wants you to take over her in-office days. And I hope you replied to his email instead of following her instructions. If not, she probably excluded you from her reply, so it looks like you ignored your boss’ request.

              Why would she be ticked off? What ticks her off?

    2. tangerineRose*

      Can you talk to your supervisor and say something like “I think there might be some confusion. I don’t want to be in the office any more than necessary.”

    3. Helen J*

      If she is actively lying about things you said, I would speak to the boss. Maybe frame it as a miscommunication.

      My read is your supervisor seems to be…jealous is not the right word but I can’ think of a better one at the moment…that you are getting “face” time with the boss.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Control or hierarchy? Some people are welded to the chain of command which (they think) allows them “power” over others.

        Either way, please speak up AT THAT MOMENT when your supervisor makes these claims. Just keep it matter-of-fact; you’re not challenging her, you’re simply providing accurate info. “Actually Sally, I don’t plan to come into the office. Perhaps you misheard me earlier?” The last part is the face-saving part that gives Sally Supervisor a chance to be gracious.

  58. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

    Waiting to hear whether I’ll get an offer for the job I’ve been interviewing for. They made the decision yesterday, but the offer is coming through another organization, so I was told “not to panic” if I didn’t hear anything until Friday or Monday. The person who’s been in all my interviews told me that I was their last one and it was “nice to go out on a high note,” so fingers crossed! Thanks for the good vibes over the last few weeks.

  59. newgrad*

    I’m not being given any work at my new job, and I’m not sure what to do. Does anyone have advice for how to approach this?

    Some context: I’m a May 2020 grad, and I was hired full time at the lab I interned at into a position they basically created for me. The woman I interned under is out on maternity leave, and I believe I’ll still be working with her when she comes back. In my interview, it sounded like I’d be helping multiple different people when they needed an extra set of hands or something like that. I started in mid June and I’ve been working in person for the last two weeks. The only work I’ve been assigned to is helping one of the postdocs with a pretty simple project, but when we’re not in the lab I don’t have any work to complete at my desk. I think I’ve spent four hours total in the lab over the last two weeks? The culture at my new workplace is that my supervisor oversees the group, but all of the researchers have their own projects and work pretty independently of each other. There are weekly group meetings, but no one has one on one meetings with her so I don’t think that’s an option (I’ve seen this recommended elsewhere on here). I did talk to her last Thursday and said something like “I’ve mostly been reading things at my desk when I’m not in the lab. Is that okay or is there something else you’d like me to work on?” and she said that was fine. This week I read a 500 pg book on the history of radiation, lol. But does anyone have advice on how to ask for something more substantial? Or do I just need to stick out this limbo until my mentor comes back? It’s stressing me out a lot and I’m worried people will perceive me as lazy or as dead weight. I haven’t even seen anyone at work since Monday — I’ve just been in my office (everyone has offices) and no one’s come by.

    1. CM*

      I would be clearer about what you need. Sounds like you are falling through the cracks and nobody sees you as their responsibility. So you could tell your supervisor that you’d like more work to do and ask for advice in getting that. You could also reach out to the people you expected to help directly, and ask if they have any work for you. If there is a specific project you’re interested in, now would be a good time to ask how you can get involved with that.

    2. mph student*

      I used to work in a lab as well. I found there were a lot of gaps in documentation and standardiazation. For example, you could work to develop templates for entering lab results, write work instructions/standard operating procedures, organize safety data sheets and general biosafety regulations . labs often have a lot of work for improvment – keep your eye open

  60. Naomi*

    How quickly are people expecting to pick things up at a new job/environment? I’m at my second job and I don’t have a basis for comparison.

    For example, using a spreadsheet that has several moving parts that needs to be adjusted daily to generate a report, is it expected to pick it up after seeing someone adjust/use the spreadsheet and verbally explain just once? I feel like I’m the type of person that needs copious notes if it’s like that, and some people aren’t comfortable with waiting while I write down notes. Otherwise I need to do just be the one doing it, and someone looks over my shoulder, while I’m doing it, which can be time consuming for the trainer.

    This is for accounting but I’d like to know in general for non-technical roles, not like programming where you’re expected to figure things out on your own.

    Am I just too slow of a learner? (If so, is there anything I can do about it?) My coworker seems to pick things up quickly, like after a verbal explanation and minimal notes. I don’t know if he just has more context and a better framework since he’s been here longer (2 years) or he’s a quick learner, maybe a bit of both? But our manager has off-handedly commented and compared us to a previous person the manager trained who “picked things up after one time” and “didn’t really need to ask questions.” I’ve never met the person so I don’t know if she was just good, had more experience, what combination of the two factored into play there.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I can tell you what’s normal based on my experience, which is that people often do need to take notes, ask questions, and go through procedures at least twice if not three times.

      But it sounds as if your manager doesn’t really care what’s normal. And, frankly, even if people pick things up quickly, “didn’t really need to ask questions” doesn’t sound like a good thing.

      As a former classroom teacher and as someone who’s had to train various folks in office jobs task, I would say the most engaged people with the most determination to learn things right are the ones who ask a lot of questions and don’t just sit there as passive lumps.

      1. Naomi*

        Thank you so much for a response. It’s been weighing on me lately.

        I don’t think I explained the”didn’t really need to ask questions” comment well. From my manager’s comments, it’s more like she didn’t need to ask many questions because she either got it from the verbal explanation or could figure out any questions she had on her own. Independent is a better description.

        While I don’t pick things up from the first go, I know by the second or third time I definitely have it (with notes). It’s good to know at least I’m average.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Both. People learn differently and have natural strengths and weaknesses. Its also my experience that the people who “pick things up after one time” usually find out months later that they’ve missed a small, easily overlooked step and now there is a significant issue to be addressed.
      Bet you that step is in your notes though.

      Also maybe ask about recording the training on your phone and then playing it back to yourself while taking notes. Then you can devote more of your attention to what the trainer is doing as opposed to writing/typing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Its also my experience that the people who “pick things up after one time” usually find out months later that they’ve missed a small, easily overlooked step and now there is a significant issue to be addressed.

        This hasn’t been my experience as someone who picks things up after one time – but that’s also because I take notes when someone is telling me/showing me how to do something, lol. I don’t care if someone is the type to plow through instruction – I usually signal that person to stop as I finish my notes, and then let them know when they can continue.

  61. Quill*

    Does anyone, and I do mean anyone, have advice on getting external contacts (not clients: I’m ordering documents from state governments) to actually contact them back?

    I’m on week 3 of an epic tussle with the state of Arizona over a check sent to the wrong address (the one on their order form is no longer current) and dreading ordering similar documents from wisconsin.

    1. LQ*

      Slow and steady wins the race. It depends on what it is. But expect it to take 10 times as long as it should. Expect that you will have to do 100% of the follow up and check in. Do not let your eyes fall off the ball. Call back at least 2x per week. If you can get a “when will this be done by” take it as a when you should check in next.

      (I’m kind of tired and bitter so please take this with lots of salt (because salt really improves the taste of bitter things more than sugar!)) If it’s state government you can be the jerk who calls your legislators and get it escalated that way, but honestly please don’t do that unless you’ve actually had to wait longer than others. You’re essentially asking to jump the line and for your vote to be bought by harrassing government employees. But if you’re really struggling and it’s not getting done at all, that’s the work around for government. “I want to talk to your boss” is less effective, starting from elected officials…it can be like taking out the trash with dynamite, but sometimes you really need the trash taken out.

      1. Quill*

        From what I hear Arizona could use a good trash dynamiting, but yeah.

        (For context when this whole mess started the first time they told me I could “drive to their phoenix office to pick up the documents and pay with a personal check or credit card.” I’m in ILLINOIS. Pandemic or not, you would think…)

        1. LQ*

          Yeah, that’s definately a slow and steady and calm thing.

          Someone told me (uncharitably, but not entirely wrong) that there are folks in government who like the work because it gives them power. They get to tell people that they are in charge and that if you don’t follow their rules (not the law, but their internal, occasionally personal rules) then you don’t get the thing you want.

          I think that there are a lot of really good people in government who really want to do good work and help people. But there are definately some people who are delighted to get to deny someone something they are entitled to.

    2. Ranon*

      With government contacts in my field I have better luck with phone over email almost always, and agree that consistent, frequent check ins are your best bet. I had one where they theoretically had an online system but where literally every time I submitted something I had to call and say “did you get the thing” and they would say “no…well, let me check my email- oh, there it is!”

      A surprising number of things even in big government areas are handled by one or two people so if you can get those contacts it helps a bunch.

    3. JustaTech*

      If you weren’t dealing with government (which is notorious at being slow) I would say to try to include specific dates and times in all your communication.

      Like, after you make contact the first time, ask for a timeline of them getting you the document, and then say you’ll reach out X days after whatever date they give you if you haven’t received the document. It can be an aggressive move, but it also makes it super clear that you *will* be following up.

  62. Allie*

    How did your job search change when you went from earlier in your career to more established / mid-career?

    For example, a company I am very interested in posted a job in llama grooming. My degree and what I really want to do is llama styling. So far my jobs have been a mix of grooming and styling. Earlier in my career I might have applied for this position because its close enough and at a great company, but now I’m more hesitant. Does that make sense?

    Also, I have the luxury of a leisurely job search right now, no hurry, and I know I’m a competitive candidate. I’m starting to think about how the job should be in the location I really want to be in, paying more attention to work-life balance and other things I didn’t prioritize as much before, trying to figure out how the team dynamics are (vs “all offices have problems, I’ll deal with it”).

    What are some of the criteria that you looked for in jobs later in your career that you didn’t emphasize enough as much earlier on?

    1. Kara S*

      I think that makes a lot of sense! I’m more mid-career than established but I have a strong general foundation for my industry and have started to only consider jobs that allow me to focus on the areas I am most interested in. A lot of my work has been in llama management when I really want to be in llama designing so I’ve tried to find positions that will accept a split between the two roles with a gradual move into the department I like.

      When I was entry level, my goal was to get any job tangentially related to my field. I had no idea how the industry worked or what a good workplace looked like. Now, I focus a lot more on the company than the job itself. Things like room for growth, company mission statement, what kind of projects do they produce, and how do they treat their workers.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I’m pretty happy in my current job and I’m not even actively looking for a new one, but recently I applied for and got an interview at an organization that wants to employ someone with a certificate I’m getting in the fall. So I was a strong candidate and I think that the interview went really well. Now I’m waiting to hear back if they’ll call me for a skills test. This is the first time I’m looking for a job because an opportunity presented itself rather than because I absolutely had to get a job.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      I have been much pickier as I have gotten into mid-career. My very first professional job after graduating I took knowing it wasn’t a great fit but I didn’t have a ton of options. I wasn’t that interested in the specific industry (my job is one that you can do in many different industries), the commute was long, and parts of my role were things I used to do as summer jobs but didn’t want to keep doing. I stayed there for 2.5 years before getting laid off, but I had already started looking.

      My next job I took because they were looking for a junior person and it was a job that just focused on the work I wanted to do, the salary was a bit better and so was the commute, but since I had been laid off I still wasn’t being super picky. I stayed at this job for seven years.

      The next two jobs (which include my current one) I was very picky about. I needed to leave each of the former jobs for certain reasons, but nothing was a rush so I got to take my time and focus on finding a company that was a good fit for me (salary, commute, manager, type of industry, etc.). These last two job searches felt much better because I was really focused on what I wanted, not that I just needed to get a job.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        My very first professional job after graduating I took knowing it wasn’t a great fit but I didn’t have a ton of options.

        This was me, too. I graduated during the ‘09 recession with a journalism degree and there were zero jobs on the market for entry-level journalists in my city (and I was too poor to relocate somewhere else). So I went into a company as a temp doing office assistant work, was hired on as an admissions rep, and discovered I sucked at the latter (it was at a for-profit “college”, so was more of a sales job than anything).

        I was let go two months later (having spent a total of four months at the college). Then because my student loans came calling and I needed a job, any job, I took the first position offered to me at a dysfunctional law firm doing client services work even though I loathe customer service roles, lol. I’m super good at them, however, so I ended up working at that firm for almost three years (moving up to a paralegal position in my last seven months) – but again, I didn’t really have the luxury of being picky when I took the job. It was one of the only ones willing to take a chance on someone with a relatively light resume who had only been at my first post-grad job for four months (and it took me 11 months to get that first job).

        I knew the law firm wasn’t the place for me because the management was atrocious and people kept being laid off, fired, or they just flat out stopped showing up, so I began a job search a year in. The economy was slowly recovering at that point, but it was still tough to find jobs with my less than competitive experience, so it took me about a year and a half to find something else. This time, the only thing I was looking for when job searching was to get a nice entry-level role in a functional, “named” company that paid well (my firm salary was horrendously low for the amount of work I did), and I got it – though it was in insurance, another industry I knew nothing about, but assumed was going to be boring (my mother works in insurance, and my eyes would always glaze over when she talked about her job).

        I ended up loving that job. I was in a trainee program for claims adjusters, and my interviewing skills and writing skills were highly favored and utilized in this job in a way it really hadn’t been in any of my previous positions. Sadly, I got burned out as an adjuster (again, customer service is not for me) even though I got two promotions in four years, and I left. Since I was (relatively) financially stable when I began my job search, I was able to take my time with applying to jobs. I knew I wanted a position that was less customer service oriented with no external customer calls (that was a big one) and one where I would spend at least 80% of my time writing and editing content. I found a good match that I considered a foot-in-door job as a proposal manager at a much smaller company, and I left insurance behind.

        The foot-in-door job ended up being way more boring than I anticipated, but I knew I wanted to continue in the proposal world, so I began sending out feelers for other roles about six months in. It wasn’t a full-fledged job search at that point – I was just curious to see what was out there and if I would be competitive in the market. The answer was a resounding no, lol. Apparently, I needed to be in my PM position for at least a year before I would receive callbacks on my job applications. When I reached the year mark at foot-in-door job, I began a full-fledged job search looking for PM jobs, and I would get interviews for every five to six applications I would send – this was huge. I never had that kind of response in the past (my stats were way worse – maybe one interview for every 20 or so application if that), and suddenly, I was juggling multiple job offers as well (that only ever happened to me once when I was in insurance and received an external job offer and an internal promotion into another division at the same time – I took the promotion so I would have a longer tenure and could show career progression).

        My absolute essentials during the job search at foot-in-door job were I wanted to be able to WFH full time, I needed to make at least $10k more a year, I needed greater sick leave (foot-in-door job only gave us five paid sick days a year with no rollover allowed – I have chronic illnesses, so that did not suffice), more vacation time (I only had 10 days with no rollover allowed and needed 15 since my insurance job provided 18 days of PTO to start and rollovers were allowed with a very high accrual cap – the year I left, I had five weeks of vacation), better medical insurance with a lower deductible (my deductible at foot-in-door job was $2700 with no HSA contribution from my employer), and just a more professional atmosphere with more interesting work.

        I have all of that and more in my current role. In fact, I make $14k more a year with guaranteed quarterly bonuses, tuition reimbursement is higher than was offered in my insurance job (foot-in-door job didn’t offer this at all), my insurance deductible is $1750 with a $500 employer contribution (down from $750 last year) and the insurance actually covers quite a bit that wasn’t covered under my former employer’s insurance, and I get 10 sick days a year that can roll over with no cap and 15 days of vacation that also rolls over if unused – though the accrual cap is much lower than the one I had in insurance (140 hours v. 244 hours). My work is very flexible and fun – I came up with my own title and I basically get to shape my role however I want! I do think the fact that I’m now concerned mid-career is what made my last job search so much more fruitful than in times past – before, I couldn’t pay someone to interview me, the suddenly, everyone wanted to.

  63. tips on recruiting*

    My team has one open head and we’ve committed to filling it with a Black person. Any tips on where we can target our recruiting efforts? Field is product strategy/business strategy/marketing, with a creative angle.

    1. pancakes*

      Is there a local business or marketing school that has a black students association you could reach out to, or a local professional organization? In my industry, for example, I did a quick search and see there’s something called the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, and the Association of Black Women Attorneys. I would spend some time researching local industry and affinity groups.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. Also look at your local Chamber of Commerce – they may have a black professionals org you can reach out to if you’re looking for someone seasoned. Black Student Unions at local colleges are another resource if you don’t mind someone more entry-level.

  64. Talia*

    Is there a way to politely ask in an interview if they’re anticipating the position will continue to exist through further COVID? (I mean, I’m assuming one won’t get an honest answer to that *however* you phrase it, but there might be a way to ask it that still garners information.)

    1. Annony*

      I would ask if they have a plan in place for a second wave and also ask how they handled the shutdown. If they don’t have a plan or if they didn’t do much for the first wave, I would be wary. If they say that they don’t think it will continue much longer I would run.

    2. miro*

      I agree that getting an honest/accurate answer is going to be tough, but maybe you could try asking about financial priorities within the organization–something along the lines of “I realize that there is a lot of economic uncertainty because of COVID. If things continue and positions/services need to be cut, which areas would you try to prioritize (or not).” You might also be able to wrap this into a larger question about what the company/department considers essential.

      This may also be totally fruitless, but it could give you some interesting info, and perhaps interviewers might be more comfortable talking about the issue in a general way rather than looking you in the eye and telling you they don’t know how long they’d be able to pay you.

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

      No one knows ultimately. Personally I’d just ask the question up-front e.g. “do you anticipate the position will continue to exist even if there are future waves of COVID?” and the key is to take the body language and facial expressions etc as well as the expected “we do not expect any change vis a vis covid nor would any action be anticipated..” etc etc.

  65. Nicki Name*

    Following up the discussion a few weeks ago on whether to start with a basic “Hello” message when using Slack or similar systems, the official Slack blog recently published their recommended etiquette tips and came down against it. Link in reply…

    1. Allie*

      Interesting. I don’t do a whole “hello – hi – how are you” routine with slack but I do like to start with “hey” or “hi” so the recipient knows a message with an ask is incoming

      1. Ismis*

        I much prefer it when I get the whole question in one line. I get frustrated when I get interrupted with a “hi” and then have to sit and wait for the question. Even if it’s just a few seconds, it’s a few seconds where I am staring at the screen waiting. To be honest, with people who do this a lot, I don’t even switch over to check the message and sometimes, I will forget about it.

  66. TurboVicki*

    Will I look like a job hopper?

    I have been in my current role for a little over a year and just got promoted (yay!) but I have never felt especially challenged and I don’t really feel like this is the right role for me. I was at my previous company for 9 months (I left due to extremely high turnover, 4 managers in that 9 month period) and at my job before that for a little over 2 years.

    It could just be the quarantine making me feel especially down, but would you have concerns about my resume if it crossed your desk? For additional clarity, I’m a project manager in the tech space, and have 10 years experience total and multiple certifications. Thank you!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, that looks a little bit like a job hopper to me:
      2 years
      9 months
      1 year

      Yeah. That said, that doesn’t mean you can’t get hired. It just means there may be a bunch of hiring managers who will throw out your résumé. And if you leave now and don’t stay at your new position for a while, you’ll look even more like a job hopper.

      So I would say if you can find ways to challenge yourself for the next two years, stay where you are. And, if not, be sure to stay at your next role for at least three years.

      In tech, there’s less of a job hopper stigma, but even in tech, staying 2 years somewhere is definitely better than 9 months.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      How does your timing with leaving fit with your projects? What about the ~6 years prior?

      If I was hiring a PM who bailed out mid-project multiple times, that would be concerning. On the other hand, some PMs are hired contract for a specific job and it’s expected they will move on when it’s over. If you had a single long stint prior to the job hopping, I think that would ease my mind. You could explain a bad run, but if the early career jobs were 1-2 years, I’d worry.

      In 20 years, I’ve only changed companies twice, but I went through a self-inflicted series of internal position changes in my first 3 years at my second company and felt I really needed to stay in the last one for a while even when s*** hit the fan almost immediately (a new manager position was created over me, the exec I was supporting as an analyst with quit unexpectedly, and our group got transferred from one division to another). You can find a way to hang in there!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        What about the ~6 years prior?

        Right. That’s going to make a difference to how you’ll be perceived. If you spent six years at one company, you’ll look like someone who just had a string of bad luck (which does happen to people). But if the six years you didn’t mention are in a completely different industry and/or are also made up of equally short stays at other places (less than three years), then yeah, you may have an issue – unless you’re in a part of the tech industry where it’s not unusual for people to move around a lot.

    3. Kara S*

      I would think leaving just after a promotion would not look great. It’s hard to say that you aren’t challenged if you just started that position and it may look bad to your current employer.

      Can you try and stick out the new promotion role for at least six months to a year? That way you have two decent stays of ~2 years each.

      1. TurboVicki*

        thanks you three! i think you were able to help me see through some quarantine fog and get the clarity i needed. my projects are wrapping up and with the pandemic, new things are not as free flowing. i’ll stick it out until next summer and see what happens.

        as for the prior 6 years, i was at one company for 4 years and another for 2.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I should have read further before posting, lol. Yeah, you’re borderline – the four year gig is the only thing saving you. I’d stick with this current job for at least a year, year-and-a-half.

  67. The Big Dipper*

    For those who had a baby but live in a place with no pumping at work protections, were you able to make breastfeeding work? I’m pregnant and will be returning to the office when my baby is three months old. I don’t have an office, only managers and above do and there are no vacant ones. Meeting rooms have at least one wall / partial wall as glass. The office floorplanss and lunch room are open concept where anyone can walk through. We don’t own a car and I have a 25 minute bus ride to work. Also at work I get one 30 minute break per day per the law and that’s it. My state has no laws regarding pumping at work. My workplace is not covered under the provisions of the federal law. My company has no provisions internally and will not make any. I would like to breastfeed but I have no idea how to make it work. My husband does freelance work and can choose his own clients and he will be looking after our baby. I have to keep my job because of the good medical insurance and benefits it provides. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who breastfed but wasn’t able to pump at work.

    1. Nita*

      How are the bathrooms? Our office had a very hard-to-use pumping space back when I needed it (better now), but it does have individual bathrooms, so that’s where I pumped. I also had a manual Avent pump for when I wasn’t in office and had a private space without electricity. It was a pain because it’s for one side at a time, but better than nothing. I eventually got fed up and stopped pumping at work, but my supply adjusted and I kept up nursing at home (once or twice a day) for several months after that. We supplemented with formula, and started solids on the early side. I won’t say it all went 100% smoothly, but sometimes you just get a bad situation and do the best you can…

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It isn’t immediately obvious to the first-time parent that breast-feeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Although lactation consultants will recommend that you not introduce a bottle while baby is still learning to nurse, later on it is perfectly possible to combine nursing when you’re home and bottle feeding when you’re away. So even if you can’t exclusively bf past 3m that doesn’t mean that has to be the end of bf entirely. It can be a useful transition from home to work and vice versa if you bf just before you leave for the bus and bf when you get home (and possibly all through the night but cross that bridge when you get to it).

      So for example you might nurse at 7am, work 8-5, and nurse again at 6pm, with husband giving bottles at 10 ish and 2 ish (or as required). You *could* pump during your break, but you might find that you just want to express a little bit to relieve engorgement and maintain demand, but not actually save the milk for baby to have later. That does make things easier because 1. it doesn’t take as long and 2. you don’t have to sterilise and refrigerate at work. Electric pumps are noisier but can be hands-free; I preferred a hand pump.

      I can’t speak to your precise complications because I returned to work much later (when baby was on solids as well as milk) and had legal bf protections. I initially pumped at work, but it was awful, despite those protections, and my supply adjusted to cope. Baby had one bottle of formula per day at daycare before his nap, and all his other milk feeds from me between 6pm and 7am.

      Hope that provides some background to think about. With any luck a lot of the other commenters who weighed in on the earlier question about bf will be along soon.

      1. Double A*

        This is a really great comment! Three months is a perfectly fine time to start shifting some feedings to formula — as far as I understand, you still get all the benefits of breastfeeding even if it’s not the only thing baby eats (this is assuming exclusive breastfeeding even works for you up to this point). And I know there’s talk about exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, but I feel like most babies are really ready to start trying some solids at more like 4-5 months. We started ours on baby cereal at about 5 months, and once they start taking in solids I felt like it really started taking some of the mental pressure off breastfeeding. So really, that’s only 2 months you might want to trying making pumping at work work if you really want to try exclusive breastfeeding — it might help to look at it that way if you’re getting stressed.

        I’m also going to share my very strong opinion that you should get a baby used to taking a bottle ASAP. Like, week 2. I know there’s this whole theory about nipple confusion, but that seems like it’s actually not a thing and what is way more common is that once the baby gets used to the boob, they won’t take anything else which is WAY more stressful. In my opinion, someone other than mom needs to be able to feed that baby as soon as possible.

        If your company is totally inflexible with breaks, I think you’ll be able to make it work to pump once a day (I’m assuming that 30 minute break is your lunch? I thought you were required to have some breaks besides lunch… but maybe that’s not every state. You can eat and pump, and you can also are you able to snack throughout the day?). I personally never threw even one drop of milk away, but it’s definitely okay to just pump enough to keep up supply and relieve engorgement.

        In terms of a place to pump, I’d suggest asking any sympathetic-seeming women who have offices. They might be able to work out loaning your their office during their lunch break or something like that!

        Also I’m like to add that I’m sorry your company and your state suck for not protecting and supporting new mothers.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Please ask your pediatrician about introducing solids and whether cereal is appropriate for your baby.

          Cereal is slow to digest but has far fewer calories and nutrients than either breastmilk, formula, or other possible first foods like avocado. Depending on your baby’s metabolism and growtth rate, giving them low-nutrient foods like cereal can make it harder for them to sleep because they are still hungry.

          Source: mom of 2 *hungry* babes in the 90th percentile with nearly zero body fat.

          Those kids needed elephant milk.

    3. blackcat*

      “My company has no provisions internally and will not make any.”

      Are you sure? Is there a manager who is a parent (either male or female) you’d be comfortable discussing this with? I was a grad student, and while I had no official protections, folks made sure I was well-accommodated. So I’d ask around–there might be some unofficial flexibility. Maybe not, but it’s worth investigating.

      Returning at 3mo, it may be really hard to not pump at work at all–you’d have to taper the amount of breastfeeding you’d do during the day to shift your bodies milk production, and that can be risky. I recommend meeting with a lactation consultant to help with a strategy. I think it’s very unlikely you can go all day without breastfeeding yet still pump enough at other times to keep a baby 100% on breastmilk, so I’d be prepared to do combination feeding.

      Also, there’s nothing wrong with formula. I know tons of kids who were breastfed, formula fed, and combination fed, and the mode of feeding doesn’t have a significant long-term impact.

      1. Artemesia*

        Since you mentioned ‘your state’ — if this is the US is this not a requirement of all workplaces? Or is yours too small? Hope you can budge them on this.

        If you can’t make it work entirely I second the idea of expressing just to keep comfortable and continuing to breastfeed at home in the morning, after work and at bedtime — your body is likely to adjust and the child continues to get the benefits. But of course doing it for 3 mos gives them the major benefit for that early brain and immune system. Introducing formula during the day will be fine for the baby. We didn’t introduce solids till 6 mos — I would not do that at 3.

    4. Morning reader*

      Can you get a schedule adjustment? I managed never pumping at work with longer breaks to go visit baby who was in home day care about 5 minutes away.

      If you have to be at work 8 hours and there is no opportunity to pump anywhere, I think, no, you probably can’t do it. Just nurse during maternity leave then wean and use formula. Most of the benefits of nursing are in those early days anyway. Many people (including all fathers) can’t successfully breastfeed and they can still be good parents. Don’t risk mastitis attempting this if the logistics are not good.

      1. Morning reader*

        Amended based on other comments: if you can manage some relief pumping in the afternoon, just to reduce pressure, it might be workable. I second the recommendation for a lactation consultant. Prioritize your safety over insistence on breastfeeding… having a sick mom is less good than living on formula.

    5. HBJ*

      Can you use the meeting rooms to pump under a cover? I didn’t do that at work, but I did that frequently while out and about. It’s not as easy, but it is doable. And if all else fails, I know bathrooms aren’t great, but you can pump in there.

    6. Natalie*

      If you decide to pump in the bathroom, look at putting together a portable/wearable system. There are some out of box options, or you can hack one with freemie’s wearable cups and whatever battery operated pump you want (I use a Baby Buddha, highly recommend). Set up is much faster as you don’t have to mess with a pumping bra, and pack up can be made faster by throwing your collection cups into an insulated bag so you don’t have to wash them right away.

      If you decide to combo feed, a manual pump might be helpful for relieving pressure when needed, they’re more efficient than hand expression. And you might find you get a fair bit from a manual pump. If that happens don’t feel like you have to throw it away, never-frozen breastmilk keeps at room temperature for hours.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, and if you decide not to pump, make sure to keep a good supply of nursing pads and possibly a backup shirt – you might be more prone to leak as your body adjusts to your new schedule.

      2. Cat*

        You can also get some reasonable deals on some of those pumps used. I have an Elvie which I got for half off and it had only been used for a few months. Still expensive but some of the other portable ones are cheaper.

  68. ThatSeemsOdd?*

    I’ve been applying to jobs, and I’ve noticed a chunk (maybe 25%, mostly in tech) of companies now asking for information about sexual orientation on the application (in addition to race/ethnicity, gender, veteran status & disability). My guess is that they have good intentions about using this in the aggregate to identify bias or inclusivity problems (eg. one manager never, ever hires anyone who’s not straight; or they lose a lot of queer candidates at the offer stage, which prompts them to revisit their benefits information or something) – but I also feel pretty uncomfortable answering. Like…people will make assumptions about my gender and race the moment they see me and that’s going to be unavoidable – but they /might/ never guess anything about my sexuality, so why should I disclose that?

    On the other hand – if they are using this information effectively to increase inclusivity, I want to support that, and choosing “Prefer not to answer” feels like undermining a well-intended initiative.

    So my question is – if you work at a company that asks this, have you seen any positive impacts come from them collecting this information? Or does it not make much difference?

    1. it happens*

      My former company collected all of this information, but I, the hiring manager, never saw it. HR kept it for their own records and analysis.

    2. Nita*

      What?! I can’t for the life of me see what this would accomplish, besides raising the potential for discrimination. I don’t know why anyone answering that question would assume they (1) mean well, (2) can keep unconscious bias from slipping in once they have that info. It seems like one of those things HR should be shutting down before it gets them into a hiring discrimination lawsuit, so I’m surprised you’re seeing this at more than one company.

      1. LQ*

        I bet it’s HR who is doing this. They are likely doing it for the same reasons they ask other demographic questions. But yeah, I’ve definately seen this and it’s variants. Theoretically HR doesn’t pass that information along (in the places I’ve seen it) and it doesn’t impact decisions, but yeah.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, that sounds bizarrely misguided but potentially well intentioned. They absolutely should not be asking that. And that’s also way out there. I’ve applied to a ton of jobs, and I’ve never been asked my sexual orientation.

    4. PX*

      Like “it happens” says, this is common for companies who are actually trying to track and improve their diversity /inclusivity. I’ve seen this on every job I’ve applied for. Contrary to the comments above, I’ve seen it make a difference with companies consciously making an effort to try and diversify their hiring pool. It’s similar to how the post application surveys I get also ask about where I saw the job ad – they need metrics/data to support what they do.

      My only caveat is that this generally requires companies to have a proper process in place to ensure that this information is held separately from any actual decision making process. I’ve only ever worked at large enough companies where this isn’t an issue

    5. ...*

      Idk I always click prefer not to answer bc I just truly prefer not to and idc if its well intentioned

  69. Furloughed and Anonymous*

    Are any of my fellow furloughed friends considering (or already in the process of) doing some continuing education with your newfound free time?
    What would you like to study/ what kind of classes interest you? Is this something for a second career, something to supplement the career you already have, or simply something that you have always wanted to learn more about?