open thread – July 3-4, 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.

{ 855 comments… read them below }

  1. PR*

    Has anyone applied for jobs with a more WASP(ish) name (White Anglo Saxon Protestant)? Did it lead to more interviews & a new job? I know the thinking is when you sign-on for the new job in this case, to let the employer know your legal name and preference for names at work. I wanted to see if any of you have done this in practice, and how it really plays out. I want to do this for a job due Sunday, and would probably need a new email too. Any tips?
    My first and last names are clearly not WASP-ish names (neither is my nickname). Should I choose a WASP-ish first and last name similar to mine, or keep my real last name and just have a WASP-ish first name (even though studies have shown that even that can result in discrimination based solely on the last name).
    I have been in my field for a decade, and find myself looking to the future and hoping for more financial security (the dream purchase is a used car, hopefully less than 10 years old). While I am employed during the lockdown and can WFH (grateful), being in lockdown has made me realize that my salary (under $80K) won’t be enough for big potential future steps (kids and a house).

    1. WellRed*

      Don’t just randomly use a different name. What if you get an interview? Or the job? There are legal considerations here.

      1. Blake*

        On the contrary, it’s quite normal to have a nickname that you use and when you put your legal documents it’ll have your legal name. But you can ask the company to use your nickname. I’ve seen people use, say, Jeff for Li Quiang, for example. Not that anyone *should* have to do this. But it’s no different than going by Harry if your legal name is Harold.

        1. PR*

          Thanks Blake! Your “Jeff for Li Quiang” example is similar to other examples I read about.

          1. Blake*

            I have a good friend who’s done this his whole life, no legal problems. But his last name is relatively easy to (badly) pronounce in English. I wouldn’t recommend using an alias last name but for me it’s a thumbs up on a nickname.

          2. Blake*

            My friend just tells his references to expect calls for him as “Jeff Zhao” instead of “Li Quiang Zhao”. And for background checks put your legal name and then under “other names used” put Jeff or whatever.

        2. WellRed*

          She’s not suggesting a nickname. She’s considering a different last name too.

    2. Colette*

      So you want to make up a name that you would only use for applying to jobs? Or do you want to adopt a new name at work forever? I would think it would be really odd to have a name that you only use for job applications, and suspect it will cause more problems than it will solve. (Will you do social media and google searches on the name you choose to see who else has that name? What about references – are you going to warn them that they might get a reference request for a name they’ve never heard of? When someone calls and asks for the name you’ve given, will you remember that it’s you?)

      Obviously. no one should be judged by their name, but we know it happens. Could you improve your chances by using just your first initial(s) with your last name? Are there ways you can improve your resume and cover letter? Can you do some networking to improve your chances?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of your questions and concerns were running through my head while reading, but you spelled them out much better than my “What?!” ever could, lol.

      2. PR*

        @Colette: I would only use the new name to apply for jobs (rather than a whole-life name change) and while I would let my references know, you’re right, I should investigate the social media aspect.

        @WellRed: I was thinking the plan was to let the employer know of my legal name when signing legal documents. Although that is why I’d like to hear if others have done this, and their experiences.

        1. Clisby*

          My first thought is – are you assuming the would-be employer is not going to do a background check? Or that you would inform them at the time they said they’d do a background check? I wouldn’t blame an employer for giving you the side-eye. I mean, you applied with a name that isn’t yours, then tell the employer a totally different name IS yours – I’d be wondering which name was correct, and wondering whether you were worth the effort to find out.

          1. Colette*

            Plus on some background checks you have to list any names you have ever used – so even if you just used a different name for one job cycle, you’d have to list it forever.

          2. Clisby*

            Clarifying … I don’t think there’s anything weird about a WASPish nickname instead of the real name. Plenty of people (even WASPish people) use a nickname, even one not obviously derived from the legal first name. My brother is one. (Let’s say is name is William but he’s always been called Jack.)

        2. ThatGirl*

          It would look weird, I think. And while I understand that “ethnic” names can result in overt or subtle prejudices, I’m not sure if that’s what’s happening here? Have you actually applied for new jobs? Why do you think your name is getting in the way of you making more? For the record, I’m a white lady (though not really a wasp) with 15 years of professional experience, a vaguely ethnic sounding name that’s never been a hindrance, and I make less than $80k a year.

            1. fposte*

              Note those examples are first name changes, not changes of both first and last name. Saying “Oh, I’m legally Jamila but I always use Jamie” is absolutely plausible; “Oh, I’m legally Jamila Ezike but I go by Jamie Smith” is not.

            2. Artemesia*

              You can use whatever first name you want to and claim it as a nickname — but last name, not so much. Many Asians I have worked with over the years have done that and it has never been an issue. I also have a friend married to an Asian man who took his name but she applies to jobs in her maiden name for this reason and then when she fills out the insurance and employee paperwork uses the whole thing. First Maiden His having interviewed as First Maiden — so far it has not been an issue for her and she has been successful with this.

              1. Natalie*

                It’s pretty common for women who change their names when married to continue using their maiden name professionally, so I imagine that’s why it hasn’t been a problem.

            3. Dancing Otter*

              That study only looked at the initial screening, though: did the applicants get invited to move forward to the interview stage or not.
              It shows nothing about what happened next. Did the mismatch of name and appearance (or voice on the phone, perhaps) trigger an immediate rejection? Would any of these applicants be offered the job after the subterfuge was discovered?
              Yes, it is distressing that the study showed bias. (though I didn’t see much about the study design/size or whether the results were either peer-reviewed or reproducible.) I am not convinced that lying is the best countermeasure, especially when the deceit is so likely to be discovered.

        3. Marny*

          I’m still confused about your plan. Are you planning to use this new name in the workplace but use your legal name everywhere else? I agree with you that there’s quite a bit of evidence that names can affect hiring decisions (usually connected with discriminatory practices), but making up an entirely new first and last name (that you don’t intend to legally adopt) and sticking with it throughout the rest of your career sounds extreme.

        4. fposte*

          I think there’s a high risk of this looking deceptive if this is a name that’s used on your application, not for your past and not for on the job when you get it. I understand the desire to circumvent prejudice, but I fear that the look of deception is going to cost you more than avoiding prejudice will gain. I don’t think you’ll find many other people who’ve used a fake name solely for applying to jobs that they mean to take under a different name.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This. In fact, it’s just going to draw more attention to you in a negative way than just using your real name or a shortened form of your real first name.

            1. fposte*

              I did miss that the OP was considering the possibility of just changing the first name; I was so thrown by the possibility of both names that I guess I just read past it. I still think you’d probably need to suck up being Jamie for a while at work and then “go back” officially to your regular name.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Adding, if they call you for an interview BECAUSE you changed your name, this is NO place to work… for anyone.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The thing is, the data shows this happens in lots of places because of unconscious bias. People don’t necessarily have the luxury of saying they won’t work anywhere where a person involved in screening resumes has some unconscious bias. That could rule out a ton of jobs.

              I’m not suggesting the OP’s proposal is the right way to go, but it’s a real problem and it’s widespread.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes to the nickname. And if you married, you could easily explain using the “other” name– your birth name if you legally changed to a married name, and vice-versa. It’s a crapshoot for creating a use-name last name, though–I know two different men who changed their last names (not for marriage, and no they don’t even know each other), and they both got rude comments in unexpected places despite being pretty solidly white, if not WASP..
        In any case, be prepared for confusion when your email address is script-generated from the name on your paycheck.

    3. Web Crawler*

      I have no experience with changing my last name, but I applied for jobs using a male name instead of my legal “female” name. There were no problems- I applied under the name “John”, interviewed as John, got hired as John, and filled out the onboarding stuff letting them know that my legal name was “Jane” but I went by John. I would think that last name would be trickier, but I have no experience with that.

      1. Colette*

        The key difference here is that John is a name you use and will use on the job, not a name you adopted only for the job search.

      2. Just call me Pat*

        I am an older woman with a traditionally female name that has a male counterpart with a common neutral gender nickname which I use for daily life. (Think Patricia and Patrick are both called Pat.)

        I am not actively job hunting now but I have started using my nickname rather than my legal name on my resume. I’ve worked in a field that is heavily female and young and the nickname is popular among Gen X people. I’ll take any edge I can.

        1. is it tea time yet?*

          I am looking for work, and both my degree and recent work experience are in fields where the vast majority of people are men. I’ve been considering shortening my first name on my resume so it reads possibly male (like Alex instead of Alexandra) to see if that helps get my foot in the door, even though I dislike the shortened version of my name. At this point, I’d adopt it at work if it meant finding a decent job before my unemployment runs out. My ex boss is cool and would understand, even though he’d probably think it was funny if someone called him for a reference and asked about me under a nickname he knows I don’t like.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I mean, they’ve actually done experiments on this, and your chances do go up if you have a WASPy-sounding name over something that sounds stereotypically “Black” (at least in America). But if you apply with a name, that should be a name that you actually use. It doesn’t have to be your legal name. It would just be super awkward if you got the job, and they tried to call you by the WASPy-sounding name you applied with, and you said, “Uh, I never use that name (except when I’m applying for jobs).”

      1. Auntie Social*

        My SIL adopted two black toddler sisters and changed their first names as well as their last. Their first names were stereotypically Black, so Sis went with more ‘Jennifer’ names.

        1. valentine*

          Their first names were stereotypically Black, so Sis went with more ‘Jennifer’ names.
          Disparaging Black names and robbing Black children of the only thing that really belongs to them is terrible, especially when they’re old enough to know who they are.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah….as a black woman, I don’t like that at all (and I have a very “white” name).

          2. VelociraptorAttack*

            That definitely gave me pause. Especially considering that as toddlers they likely know their names, it would be awful if they were babies but as toddlers…

            1. pancakes*

              Yes. It’s reminded me I’ve been meaning to read Nicole Chung’s adoption memoir.

          3. Remote HealthWorker*

            I think reasonable people can disagree on if it’s terrible to rename a baby. There was an entire episode on Blackish about the pros and cons of black-American names in America. You can hate that it’s an issue but also decide that when it comes to your children, that you aren’t willing to add yet another hurdle to their lives when the system is already stacked against them.

            Toddlers who know there name? That would be traumatizing.

        2. LTL*

          Er…. Toddlers are old enough to know their names. More than that, they’re old enough to identify with their names. Changing their names to be “less black” is horrible and has almost definitely done more harm than good.

          I’m sure they meant well but I would really suggest that they look for ways to learn more about race, so they can do best by their girls who I’m sure they love very much.

        3. Jaid*

          Um, I’m having flashbacks to being taught about how Native Americans were forced into cutting off their hair and changing their names by the white religious… It’s not a good look.

      2. TechWorker*

        Would it be that awkward? ‘I interviewed as Jennifer but I’ve actually decided to go back to x professionally’ – there’s no rules about it being awkward to change a nickname (and hell, it’s less ‘awkward’ than not getting the interview at all…)

    5. Teyra*

      How would this work with references? Because surely when they contact them, they’ll be confusion about who you are. Or they’d tell the job that nobody by that name had worked for them, and your application would be dismissed as they’d assume you were giving false references.

      Or am I misunderstanding how you’d go about doing this?

      1. PR*

        That’s why I am asking to see how this played out for others who have done this. Rather than focusing on my plan (or lack thereof to be honest) I was hoping to get insight from commenters who’ve been through this.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s going to be a pretty rare thing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody reading had done it. It also has a high chance of spooking your references unless you outright lie to them.

          1. fposte*

            To clarify, changing your first name or going by an unrelated nickname is very common. though even there you’re likely to get called “Jane” after you’re hired as well. Changing *both* names just for the job is very unusual–that’s the situation that I think would be risky.

        2. Just Another Manic Millie*

          I have a feeling that not a lot of people have done this. Because besides having to tell all of your references “If you receive a call asking about John Smith, that’s me! I’m pretending to be named John Smith whenever I go on an interview,” you would have to tell your high school/college/law school/grad school that if anyone called them regarding John Smith, that’s you. Too risky for me (and I suspect a lot of people). I couldn’t count on everyone remembering what they were supposed to say.

          1. RagingADHD*

            And would your references even be willing to lie?

            I know that for some of the folks I consider my best references, just making a request like that would burn that bridge permanently. They were good bosses & managers because they don’t lie, and they wouldn’t consider lying a “favor.”

            Again, saying “BTW I go by Jamie instead of Jamilah now, so if you get a call about Jamie, that’s me.”

            Or “I’ve transitioned, so I go by James now.” These would be NBD.

            But to say “Hey, I applied to this job as Bob McNotmyname, so if you get a call, could you give a reference for me? No, I’m not changing it, I just used it on my resume.”

            Nope. They would be extremely wierded out, and probably decline to be a reference at all.

        3. Kt*

          Honestly I’m surprised so many people are so weirded out by the idea. Tons of my international students picked “American” names. Key points: 1) it makes sense of you pick one you like and actually use it. What really doesn’t work is the WASP name you pick that you yourself forget or don’t respond to half the time. The students who did this were fresh to the US and young, so it was just a learning experience, but some found they really didn’t want to be Jeff or Lisa. 2) Your references need to know it too. Corollary of 1. 3) There may be some signaling you can do on your resume that would be equally effective.

          Anyhow, tons of my international students use an “American” first name and it’s fine. No one bats an eye. Last name, that would raise some eyebrows and cause people to think you’re running from the law or someone else.

          1. TechWorker*

            +1 – using a different first name is super common, though I get the impression this is something folks often do when they’re studying (so that friends/professors etc would know them by that name already, or at least have some awareness they go by it). I’m not sure I know anyone who’s done it solely for interview.

          2. Kt*

            Upon reading, I did have one grad school friend who used a different first and last name. His real name was 20 characters and contained a relatively complete recent family genealogy as well as a personal name; he came from a culture that simply doesn’t use the one personal/one family name convention. He picked a short subset for each. But on the other hand, that may have legally been his name in the US, I’m not sure.

          3. Teyra*

            But there’s a difference between an international student choosing an American name to go by in America, and someone already in America abruptly changing names for their interviews? Additionally, in some countries (e.g. China, which is the one I’m most familiar with in this context) it’s definitely not unusual to have an ‘English name’ as well as their normal one. So referees would already be aware of both names, and not bat an eyelid. In the US, that’s not (as far as I know anyway) the case, so someone telling their former-boss, ‘oh by the way, if you get asked about Generic WhiteGuy in a reference phone call, that’s me’, would probably be a bit weird? And I’d imagine if they messed up or alerted the reference-asker about the double names, they might find it weird too. Without the context of the reason the names were being switched, they might be concerned you’re hiding something. And then if they ask you directly it’d probably be awkward to respond to.

            I also honestly don’t see the point. Is unconscious bias a thing? Absolutely, and it sucks. But if they’re biased towards black people (or whichever ethnicity), and don’t want to hire a black person, they’ll not hire at the interview, instead of the application stage. I don’t necessarily see the point in getting through to the next round, wasting more time with the company, and then get eliminated, instead of just getting eliminated early. Changing the name works when you’re an online freelancer (so nobody knows what you look like), or if you’ve married into a ‘foreign’ surname – I remember there was someone on here once asking about dropping the ‘Al’ from her new surname, as she thought people were rejecting her application on the incorrect assumption that she was an Arab.

            1. Teyra*

              Pressed submit too soon!

              Do you even want to work for a company that only hired you because they thought you had a different skin colour? If the answer’s yes, that’s absolutely fair, but I don’t think the experience would be great. And there might well be other forms of discrimination there. Less likely to get promoted or a raise, more likely to get penalised or in trouble.

              Many, many companies are not going to care about the applicant’s race or country of origin. They just want the best candidates. The ones who don’t care don’t deserve you anyway. If you’re in the sort of situation where you just need a job, fair enough. But if you don’t, I’d strongly consider not changing the name. It’s probably not going to lead to great things down the line.

              1. LTL*

                The problem is unconscious bias. Most people are biased towards names that sound less foreign or more typically white. Prejudice isn’t something that only “bad” people have, it’s something that’s so widespread in our society that it’s ingrained. It’s not something that only shows up when someone chooses to let it in, it is something that shows up at a very, very young age, when we’re much too young to be responsible for it, and remains unless you actively fight it.

                Prejudice is everywhere. People of color do not have the luxury of saying, “well if they are biased against me, I won’t work there.” We still need jobs. We still need to live in this society.

                1. allathian*

                  Yes, this. And once a person gets to interview, there’s no guarantee they’ll be hired, but at least they’ll be interviewed. Now, if an interviewer decided to cut the interview short because they saw that the applicant was not white, then you probably wouldn’t want to work there. But usually, if you show up, they’ll interview you because they’ve taken the trouble of looking at your cover letter and resume and decided you’re a good enough candidate to interview.

                  This bias is real, in my area it mostly affects the Roma, and many of them find that they have better luck getting jobs if they legally change their names to sound less Roma.

                  I just wish that anonymous screening would be more common than it is.

              2. LTL*

                Also to add, people of color do have a better chance when they get to the interview. It’s still an issue, but the idea is that in an interview you have the chance to showcase yourself in a way that you don’t in an application. And by then, the company is somewhat more invested. People’s unconscious brains will sometimes accept “exceptions” to the stereotypes if they see enough evidence.

                1. Clisby*

                  Or, they’ll figure, hey, anybody who made it past the initial screening is at least minimally qualified for the job – and knowing that might lessen any implicit bias.

    6. Calanthea*

      Personally, I would not do this unless I had really strong evidence it was necessary (and even then… you end up getting hired somewhere where they only want WASP-y people? That’s not a great environment to be in).

      I have a non-british sounding name, and when I was applying for bar work as a teenager did have someone double take when I asked if they’d had a chance to review my CV and literally respond “Oh, I didn’t realise you were english” before offering me a trial shift. So it definitely was a thing 20 years ago in hospitality. You probably have good reason to suspect it’s still the case in your sector, else you wouldn’t be considering this!

      If you have enough time, might it be possible to do two similar applications and see if one name gets more callbacks? You’d have to do nearly twice the work though, so it might not be worth it. You’d also miss out on any networking effect from people who recognise your actual/currently used name.

      Good luck with the job search!

        1. Squeakrad*

          Maybe this is a silly idea but have you thought about legally change your name? I totally get that it’s an issue, and I also get that everyone’s reporting it’s not great to apply for a job under one name and then reveal that your name is actually something else. It would we Kavic with background checks etc., especially if they’re going by SS number. But changing your name is relatively inexpensive and might help. I can’t really recommend it but I know there is bias and I understand your wanting to minimize it.

    7. NaoNao*

      Is there a compromise here, like applying under Initial. Last Name or a plausible nickname or “Anglification” of the name?

    8. mreasy*

      I have hired plenty of people who use a different “resume” name, usually because they go by a nickname in person. I don’t think this should be an issue, and if you do get hired with your “WASP” name and an employer asks, you can explain the situation or just that you prefer to go by [Actual Name]. I personally wouldn’t bat an eye at this though I guess many people would? There is SO MUCH EVIDENCE that a name reflecting a BIPOC identity can be a significant blocker to getting interviews that it seems like a wise way forward.

      1. PR*

        Thanks @MrEasy!

        It does seem that people could bat an eye at this, perhaps I will not rock the boat.

      2. fposte*

        I’ve encountered that in the first name, but never both first and last name. Are you talking both names?

    9. Who knows*

      I know a lot of people are saying this is weird, but I’ve seen it. For example, someone named “Jagdish ” who goes by Jack Dish. People encouraged my dad to go by “Rod” because his (Indian) name was supposedly too hard for people to pronounce. (He refused.) I also went to school with Asian kids who had English names and Chinese names that didn’t sound remotely similar (like Kevin or Jeff).

      1. Colette*

        It’s pretty common for people with names that read as foreign to Americans to choose a more anglicized nickname – but they don’t do it just for a job hunt; it’s a name they actually use.

    10. Shailene*

      In the current climate, a diverse non WASPY name is an advantage. I’m Indigenous and my friends and I have certainly found that.

    11. Eeeek*

      It would be really weird to use a different first and last name that are just “similar” to yours. I can’t imagine that would go over well? Maybe a similar nickname as the first name but using a totally different name would come off really strange I think.

    12. Coco*

      I’m really curious how you’d do this. Your school transcripts, previous employment verifications, any legal id documents you’d need to provide all have your current name. Your references will need to remember your new name. And during the whole interview process you go by the new name but then switch to current as soon as you start?

      Before a new person starts a lot of companies set new employees up with access to email, software, user ids, etc and they usually use the name they have for you. So they’d set you up before your first day with new name and then your first day you tell them it is completely wrong? I dunno… as someone who has had the job of setting up users, that would … annoy is too strong. Maybe give me pause?

      Also when I and other team members sit in on interviews with my boss, we talk about the candidates within the team, and we refer to them by their name on the resume. So everyone on your team at the new job may know about the name switch. They may find it odd?

      I have a difficult to pronounce uncommon even in my own country name so I empathize but this does not sound terribly practical. And may result in a less than ideal first impression.

    13. 30 Years in the Biz*

      I’ve had friends change their first names, but not their last. Two Middle Eastern friends changed their first names to something slightly similar. Think Khepri to Kathy and Anahita to Anna. In both cases it was done because the pronunciation of their names was challenging for some English speakers, especially over the phone. I had a US friend change her first name for interviews and resumes from Trixie Ann Rodgers to T. Ann Rodgers (men often do this when their first name is odd or old fashioned). She is a highly experienced electrical engineer, blonde and attractive and didn’t want any questioning of her competency. I wouldn’t change a last name, but I might consider changing or modifying a first name if it might be advantageous.

      1. Hiding from my Boss*

        I had an african american neighbor who does this because she just plain hates her first name and doesn’t want anyone to call her that, and especially not in business.

    14. Nesprin*

      Keep in mind white guys have been doing this for ever- as (first initial) middle/nickname surname.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, everyone agrees that firstnane/nicknane or initial is no big deal.

        Creating an entirely separate alias is.

    15. Popsy*

      We have recently hired someone who applied under an Anglo first name with his real last name and was hired under that name, but works under his real non-Anglo name. He just explained on his first day that he believes he had a better chance of avoiding bias if he does that, and that he’d prefer to go by his real name. It wasn’t awkward at all (except for the fact we’re sad he feels the need to do that), but any reasonable employer would understand, and anyone who has done the Harvard unconcious bias test knows that *thinking* you don’t have bias is not the same as actually not having bias. Good luck in your job search!

    16. Kara S*

      Unless you’re planning to permanently go by this name (or at least go by it at work), I would not do this. The advantage this may give you in terms of getting interviews will be cancelled out when the interviewers run background/reference checks and realize this isn’t your name.

      You could maybe get away with a different last name if it were added onto your original last name (ex Matthew Brown Smith, which you could explain away as adopting another family name or getting married). You could get away with a first name change by simply telling them you changed your name and were called X at past jobs. Even a complete name change is possible (“My name was previously [Name 1] at jobs but I now go by [Name 2]”). But these would require you to want to be referred to by that name. Using a new, non-legal name only for a resume and requesting to not be referred to by that name ever would cause a lot of confusion, especially since you have not been doing this your entire career.

      Maybe you could put an initial for your first name? Or “First Initial, Middle Name, Last Name”? If you also work in a job where there are public credits that may differ from your name (ex entertainment) then you could put your credited name on the resume. But again, this requires past credits being under this name in order for it to make sense.

    17. RagingADHD*

      On the advice of a teacher who I eventually realized was terrible, I tried using a stage name that was totally unrelated to my real name.

      Even in the entertainment industry where stage names are common, this was a dreadful idea and backfired. It confused my existing network and made them think I was flaky. It gave me zero advantage in getting jobs, because it didn’t change anything about my qualifications, skills, or work history.

      And it gave me an extra obstacle in interviews (auditions), because it made my imposter syndrome go through the roof, and created awkward situations like not responding naturally when people called me by the new name.

      And for other industries where there’s no such thing as a stage name, it’s even less advisable to use a throwaway name. I think it’s one thing to do this under experimental conditions, and quite another in real life where you expect to work with people afterward.

      I mean, how does a professional relationship come back from a conversation like, “I used a fake name to apply to get past your bias”?

      True or not, it’s not going to create a constructive environment. And if you don’t say why you used it, they are going to just be wierded out and wonder about ID theft or severe mental health problems.

      Obviously, none of this applies to a real-life name change. But throwaway aliases are shady and will raise legitimate alarm bells.

    18. Jarffe*

      I don’t have any personal experience with this but I work in a place with a significant minority of Indian/Sri lankan people and it’s really common for people to go by shortnings of their last names, usually just using the first syllable e.g Ven for Venkateshwara. I’m not sure what was on peoples job applications but that could be easier to explain then using an entirely different last name.

      1. allathian*

        There’s also the thing that if there’s a significant minority of non-Anglo names already, even the Anglos will get used to seeing names like Subramanyan Chandrasekhar on a resume. They might use S. Chandra on their nametag for convenience, especially in customer service, etc.

        1. Hiding from my Boss*

          And you can’t take for granted that all the screeners are all Anglo . I’ve lived in two gateway cities and found that workplace bias runs in multiple directions.

    19. Anonnington*

      I have a last name that’s unusual in the US but actually is associated with different countries in different parts of the world. It can be a WASP name. Maybe 1/3 of people with this name are WASP’s and the others are definitely not. And it really jumps out as unusual when you read it.

      I get directly asked if I’m trolling or serious when I inquire about normal things. It’s not uncommon for people to make faces and laugh when they read my name aloud. A surprising number of people just can’t seem to get a grip and act professional.

      I actually compliment people when they pronounce my name correctly. This is usually followed by, “I met someone else with that name once.” And it’s rare.

      I know it’s unusual to get jobs just by replying to ads, but I seem to have worse luck than most people. I’ve only gotten jobs that way when I already knew someone who worked there and I had a LinkedIn presence.

      This is a real phenomenon.

      However, I can’t imagine changing my name on my resume just to get interviews. I think this could create the impression that I was trying to hide something, unless the new name clearly meant something to me and I intended to keep using it.

      My strategy is to get jobs by meeting people in person. I’m resigned to the fact that people make their best first impressions in different ways, and I’m someone who has to just get out and talk to people instead of submitting job applications. And yes, I’m still finding (safe) ways to do that right now.

    20. AzaleaBertrand*

      Late to the party, but my husband does the different first name only. His full name is one that’s clearly not WASP, but also difficult to place for most people.

      Once he started using a WASP first name with his ethnic but ambiguous last name, he started getting calls (same resume, everything) so this is definitely a thing. He was comfortable becoming known as WASPName in the workplace, and just told his referees that they would be contacted regarding WASPName RealLastName.

      It helps that his WASP-Name uses a lot of the same sounds as his real first name so it’s a relatively easy transition when people call you the new name, the new name is almost a mangled mispronounciation of his real name.

    21. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      My nickname and my legal first name are different, and that’s never been an issue. But I can’t imagine having a “pen name” just for applications that isn’t a name that people actually call me. It’s a shame that this feels necessary. Is there a company you feel confident in in terms of their attitude towards diversity? I wouldn’t want to work for a company that only hires people named Meg and Betsy….

  2. Bobina*

    If you are a visible minority at your workplace, and your company (like mine) is having a lot of discussions/meetings at the moment on discrimation, diversity etc etc, how much – if at all – are you choosing to engage? Im the only black person on a mostly white team and I’m torn on whether or not to join our next team meeting when we will be discussing this.

    On the one hand: I’m already emotionally tired of this topic, and the last thing I want to do is talk about it at work, where I generally try to keep my personal life out of everything.

    On the other hand: part of me feels like it would be worth contributing so that people understand just how prevalent this stuff is. Company culture is generally okay, they have existing policies in place around D&I and have committed money to improving this as a result of recent events.

    Anyone in a similar position, how have you approached this? Attended but said nothing? Contributed and felt like it helped? Any tips on if you did attend on how to not feel like there’s a giant spotlight shining on you everytime you speak and you are now the voice of “all black people”?

    1. nep*

      If you were in my workplace, I would be interested in hearing the very process you’re going through, because all of that would be valuable for me to know. In other words, not thinking you’ve got to take a certain stance about how it should be in the workplace or what your ‘role’ should be there, but speaking from right where you are in the moment and letting that be your guide. Not sure whether this makes sense; it’s what comes to mind for me.
      All the best

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      part of me feels like it would be worth contributing so that people understand just how prevalent this stuff is.

      If you have the emotional bandwidth, fine. But this is not your sole responsibility. If they’re genuine in their efforts, they’ll know there’s nothing special about their company compared to other companies, and there is plenty of stuff to read/watch out there about the problems and what to do about them.

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        Echoing this. Dismantling white supremacy is not the responsibility of Black or Brown people, and your organization should have no expectation that you share your own personal experiences so that they can try to be better. There are so many resources out there already. From my experience in this sort of work within organizations, as much as (white) leadership may think they’re doing the work themselves, it has very often fallen to the Black employees who got involved for the reasons you state to keep it going, even when others outside leadership are highly engaged.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        You might want to spend your emotional bandwidth on a bit of light research in advance … collect up a few of the excellent reading list recommendations floating the internet right now (or check the sites of your local library or bookstore) … and practice a bit of a script that says, in essence, “I’m only one person with one experience, but here’s a lot of voices for you all to hear. Thanks for your willingness to start opening your mind and heart.”
        That way you’ve passed the educating role on, and can be a listener.

    3. reelist1*

      Bobina- I’m a white lady that has been serving on both my company’s affirmative action and equity & inclusion committees. I just want to say I can see what you are describing playing out on our committees as well. And I feel for you. From the well-meaning white people, I am hearing “I’ve been told to listen to a black person, and here we have one!” (cringe) A black woman on our committee actually brought it up like this:
      “All, I feel that everyone is looking at me to be the voice of the black people here and I am not comfortable with that. There are incredible people out there that are doing this work, doing it well, and do not have the complication of working here. I would like for you to familiarize yourself with those voices and the issues they raise. They do a far better job than I can.”
      This actually led us to realize that that was the best thing we could do-find black voices for people to listen to, not just for our committee, but for our workforce. We have began dispersing resources to connect our coworkers with the works of Black activists, authors, artists, etc. And we’ve got required implicit bias training for all employees now. It’s the first step for many white people, unfortunately, to learn the issues.
      Dear white people: please don’t make your black friends do this labor for you.

      1. blackcat*

        “Dear white people: please don’t make your black friends do this labor for you.”

        Or your black friends of friends!

        I recently got asked to bring in a former collaborator and friend to talk to my research group about equity stuff.
        She doesn’t do equity stuff. They apparently thought a random black woman in the largely white male field is just itching help white people be woke.
        And I’m apparently the only one (!!) in the research group who has coauthored papers with a black person. (Which… isn’t that the real problem?!)

        I have instead offered to lead a reading group and provided a list of papers and writings by BIPOC who write about DEI stuff in our field. I basically said that lots of awesome POC *have already done the work* to educate us. We just have to do the work to actually engage with the resources that are already out there. I got a lot of hemming and hawing, which was further evidence to me that they don’t really want to engage meaningfully with this stuff.

    4. Chance of thunderstorm*

      As a white person i would appreciate your input because it would help me identify things I can stop doing/do better. But that makes it all about me. As your coworker I wouldn’t want to see you being asked to share all the indignities that weigh on you emotionally just so I or the company gets to feel better about itself. Maybe your insights or contributions are better off delivered in a smaller group setting? Or maybe you sit this out because it shouldn’t be all on you. If you do choose to engage however make sure any work you do is compensated. I heard a POC saying that people will quickly run things by her, but all those ‘quick’ things add up and are on top of her regular job. If you are doing work that benefits everyone in the company it should be paid work.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      You know, it might be an insight for your colleagues for you to mention that it is VERY TIRING being the voice of “all black people”. I think there is also some risk to being the “voice” – you’re also the focus if people don’t agree with you.

      One of the things I have learned is that it is MY RESPONBIILITY as a white person to do the work of educating myself. There are plenty of resources out there. It’s not hard to find them.

      That said, for people who have no idea and who are only just starting to come to grips with racial injustice (I know – one really has to be living under a rock, but these people exist), maybe have a (or access) a list of sites / resources standing by if anyone asks – you could point them in the right direction without having to do a whole lot of emotional labour or engaging more deeply than you feel up to. (Of course, include in there an article on the fact that it is not up to black people to educate white people about racial equality.)

      1. Anita Brayke*

        I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about this issue in this way. It makes s lot of sense, though! Thank you to all of those who have shared this perspective.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      I’m in a similar position, except I’m a team manager, and I think there’s going to be a requirement for all managers to lead these sessions. (There is talk of a “series” beginning with LGBTQ issues, so I expect there will be a session on race at some point as well.) It’s tricky – the topics are so important, and I don’t want to look like I’m ignoring them, but at the same time I don’t think it’s appropriate for the managers to facilitate them. I definitely do not want to be the Well-Intentioned White Person saying “So, Bobina, can you tell us about your experience of racism in the workplace?”

      If it turns out the sessions actually are required, I intend to start by pushing back to HR – they’re important enough that they should be led by trained facilitators, who are neutral and external to the team. I will also be transparent with my team about the requirement and my concerns, and make it clear that I do not expect anyone to participate beyond what they’re comfortable with. Also I will recommend that we start with some of the excellent resources that Black (and LGBTQ, etc) people have already provided, rather than expecting any additional work from the ones we happen to know personally.

    7. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Not black, but visibly disabled and had a few places ask/demand I tell their various boards how to be more ‘inclusive’.

      And very much now in the ‘I don’t have the spoons for this, and I’m not going to tell you anything you can’t find with a half hour of decent Googling or from previous discussions anyway.’ This is my own personal experience but I’m tired. I’m tired of having people ask that I state our needs over and over again like it’s a new thing every time.

      Problem is, last time I said that I didn’t have the resources to assist, I pretty much then got blamed for why the company was being accused of being ableist (“you didn’t tell us what we had to do so we didn’t know!”). So I attend the meetings if I’ve got the time, but generally don’t say much.

      It’s a razor thin wire between the management thinking you’re great for getting involved, but exhausting and stressing yourself out…and saving your own energy but giving the impression that you’re not a ‘contributor’. Wish I had a 100% guaranteed method of dancing that wire for you! Ultimately you’re the best judge of what kind of company you work for and how much personal energy you have for this.

      I think though, the amount of thought you’re already putting into this is a sign you’re going to come out of it okay. Just a feeling.

    8. Bizarro Me*

      My approach has been as follows: I do a lot of listening. If I have something to add, I will. If I don’t feel like engaging, I don’t. When I do speak, I purposefully start my comments by saying these are my thoughts about my experiences and that I am not the spokesperson for all black people. I also do a lot of deep breathing. People want to share their stories and feelings which may or may not be relevant, but I’d rather participate in open conversation than make someone feel like they are not heard, which I think is a part of the problem. Finally, therapy. Sometimes it feels like everything that is going on is “too much” so it has been very helpful for me to talk to a therapist on a weekly basis to work through my thoughts and feelings. Stay strong and tuned into your mental health. You have to do what works best for you.

    9. Observer*

      It might be useful to point out to whoever is arranging this that if they put it on you to be “the voice” of “the black” employees, THAT is an illustration of the problem.

      People tend to overlook that just because an issue is new to THEM, it’s not new to the person who is being questioned. So, to the person being questioned it can be exhausting to need to explain this thing AGAIN. Also, when you live with something you don’t always want to dwell some MORE on that thing that the questioned is finding new and strange.

    10. Chaordic1*

      Sometimes just showing up and being visible is enough.

      I’m sure you could offer some valuable first-hand insights if you chose to, but if it is as tiring as you claim, then you certainly don’t have to do so and you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so. Do what you need to take care of yourself first.

    11. Anono-me*

      If you want to do something, how do you think it would be received if you were to bring in the names of two or three local professional paid consultants specializing in how to reduce racism and bias and all the obstacles that are put in the path of people of color?

    12. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m already the Voice of All Trans People at my workplace, so when the exec team formed a diversity committee, I decided not to be on it. But I have reasons to doubt that the exec team will do anything based on the recommendations of that committee, so I just didn’t want to waste my time.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Ah…nice to meet you! I’d been wondering who was out in the world speaking on behalf of my trans son! Thank you for being The Voice.

        (Just kidding—stinks that your company put you in that particular pigeonhole, and good for you for determining a boundary that protects your well-being).

    13. Altair*

      I’m glad you asked this question because this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. When I was younger I used to feel like I needed to be an Ambassador as much as possible, etc, etc, etc, and just suck it up whenever I got asked to be The Speaker For the Black People etc. But then 2016 happened and I realized that was so much b******t . I still haven’t figured out the proper balance or whatever, but I send you strength as you grapple with this as well.

    14. Bookmarked for later*

      No discussion. But I am the only person of my race in the office, and here if there is any discussion about ‘diversity’ it’ only about men and women, not skin colour. Race diversity is only an issue in white/majority white countries.

  3. Stay or Go?*

    I’m in the lucky position to have a job offer right now! But decisions are hard!

    Current Job:
- Tech for an industry hit hard by COVID. So far no layoffs or furloughs, but I am pretty confident they’ll be coming this fall given *gestures broadly at everything*

    – While my job feels relatively secure, pay increases are frozen until at least Oct. I haven’t had a significant raise in the 2 years I’ve been there, despite being a high performer and moving into a new role at the beginning of the pandemic.

    – I like the company overall (good culture, etc) and I have coworkers I am VERY close with, but the work itself doesn’t usually excite me. It’s a big company (~2000 people).

    New Offer:

    – Tech for an industry which hasn’t been especially impacted by COVID, but could feel effects of recession.

    – 13% pay increase. No 401(k) match with new offer, but they are offering lots of stock. Other benefits are essentially the same.

    – The position/work will be pretty similar, though potentially more opportunities for me to move around (and up) within the org since it’s ~50 people. I know the hiring manager from past work and we have a good relationship. The culture at this company would be pretty similar to my current in terms of work-life balance, etc.

    No concerns re: personal safety since both places are WFH for foreseeable future.

    What would you do?!

    1. nep*

      Congratulations on the offer! Well done.
      Of course you’ve got to go with what your gut will tell you…But my first thought is to go with the new job.
      You say current job ‘doesn’t usually excite me.’ Does the prospect of the new position excite you?

      1. Stay or Go?*

        Thank you :)

        The work itself may not really be more exciting (current industry is not exciting to me and new offer industry is also not exciting to me), but it will at least be a fresh challenge and I do think that I will have a little bit more freedom to take on different projects and fail fast, etc. There is a lot of bureaucracy at current gig due to number of stakeholders that I’m hopeful I won’t encounter in a smaller/younger org.

    2. Colette*

      Having been in tech for a long time, don’t count on stock. If it ever pays out, it’s an unexpected bonus. I don’t know how 401(k)s work – can you contribute on your own out of the pay raise? (It sounds like a move is a good idea in general, but the retirement thing worries me.)

      1. Stay or Go?*

        Yeah, I can. Current job has I think a 5% or less match. New offer has 401(k) but currently no match bc of size, but I was told they are working on it/looking into it (though ofc I wouldn’t count on that either!)

        1. Colette*

          Ah, OK. That sounds better. :) So take the new job and immediately set up 401(k) contributions with your raise so that you never see it.

      2. Clisby*

        I think it’s possible to have a 401k without a match. I had that for a few years when I was a contractor (not an independent contractor, I was a W-2 employee working through a contracting company. They gave a match to salaried employees, but I was part-time hourly. I still got to contribute pre-tax; I just wasn’t getting a match. Just like I could have gotten insurance through them, but I’d have had to pay the full premium.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        Having been in tech for a long time, don’t count on stock. If it ever pays out, it’s an unexpected bonus.

        This. My manager recently told me that my company has tried to go public three times in the almost 40 years they’ve been in business, but something always came up to make them pull out of the process. We were just going through it again – then corona hit. Sensing a recession was coming, we pulled out again. My manager said this was a super hard decision for the execs to make because a lot of the people who started with this company (we’re in software) are nearing retirement age and they were promised stock options to sign on in the first place. Now, they may never see a payout from it. (Thankfully, they were also given 401ks at some point.)

    3. LTL*

      You’ve listed almost no pros for your current job and almost no cons for the offer. :P Take the offer. I don’t know if you have graduation goggles on but it’s worth considering if that’s the case.

      1. Stay or Go?*

        OMG I was mentioning this concept to a friend/mentor I was texting about this! I definitely do think there’s graduation goggles happening here.

        One pro for current gig is that it is a pretty big-name org, at least locally—there’s a fair amount of prestige that comes with working there compared to the new offer. But ultimately I’m not getting tangible benefits from it (at least not now)

        1. LTL*

          Keep in mind that if you’ve worked there for a couple of years, you’ve already reaped the benefits of being part of a big name org. They’re on your resume now.

    4. KuklaRed*

      I would take the new gig.

      1. You were dissatisfied enough to be looking for a new job, which usually means you were not really happy in your current job.
      2. The potential for layoffs or furloughs (which often turn into layoffs) is real and it is scary.

      Also, you might want to have an honest discussion with the potential new employer about how things stand with them given the pandemic and its far-reaching effects. It might help you feel more secure in your decision. Good luck, whatever you decide!

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, I’d be worried about starting a new job if layoffs/furloughs seem to be in the future already. Being the newest at a job means you’re the most expendable. That’s about the one thing I would be considering here as a crucial factor.

    5. Alex*

      From what you say here I’d definitely take the new job. 13% increase? Yes please. So you don’t get a 401k match, so it’s more like a 8% raise? Still, I’d take it. It’s good to move around every few years.

    6. LPUK*

      Toss a coin. When rational lists aren’t getting you anywhere, the emotion you may feel when it comes down heads is a useful indicator, whether it’s disappointment and arguing ‘best of three’ or relief and a stomach flip. Works for me when I get snarled up in pros and cons.

    7. Problem solved*

      I’m almost in a similar situation (also in tech, waiting for a written job offer though). Even though I love my team and we had a great quarter in sales, I’ve heard from a higher up that they are starting to consider layoffs. Changing jobs is always a risk and there is the discomfort of going from a place where your work is known and respected to another where you have to prove yourself all over again, but I feel like staying would be adding to the risk of suddenly seeing myself without a job, so for me it’s a GO.

    8. allathian*

      In your shoes, I’d take the new job. A raise, more prospects for promotions in the future, and you already know the hiring manager and have a good relationship with them. You’ve been at your current job for two years and see furloughs/layoffs looming in a few months.

      If neither industry is exciting you at least the new job would offer some challenges just for being new.

  4. BlueWolf*

    (Reposting this again this week since I posted kind of late last week.) My company has been basically entirely remote since March, and they are taking things really slow as far as reopening. They said they won’t require anyone back before September 1 (and possibly later). I feel that my work can be successfully completed remotely. Even before the pandemic I didn’t really need to leave my desk as all of my work communication could be done by phone/email.

    My annual review should be coming up any day now, so I’m wondering if it would be a good time to ask about continuing to work from home permanently (possibly from another state) post-pandemic. Our lease on our apartment is up soon and we hate our building, so we would like to move and need to make a decision relatively soon. My partner and I would prefer to move to another state where we could actually afford a house and would also be closer to family. Even if part-time WFH is an option, we could move a bit farther out from my office where housing is cheaper if I wouldn’t need to commute as often. One of the recent hires in our department (in a slightly different but related role) is a permanently remote employee who lives a few states away, so there is some precedent. I guess I’m struggling with how I would phrase the request. Basically, it wouldn’t be a deal breaker that I would leave my job over, just a nice-to-have perk.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      You can ask, but if your company isn’t already set up to do business in the state where you want to move, it may not be feasible.

      1. BlueWolf*

        Thanks. We have offices in several different states and countries, but my new coworker who was hired as a permanent remote employee works from a state where we don’t have an office, so that’s what I meant by there being a precedent. Of course, it’s a bit different hiring someone in a possibly difficult-to-full position. They probably had a bit more wiggle room to make concessions in order to get someone in the position.

        1. fposte*

          Though different states have different tax burdens; just because they’ve done it for, say, Mississippi doesn’t mean they’re prepared to do it for California.

        2. XG*

          It’s less about having an office there, and more about having done the work to set up a business presence there for tax purposes. It’s expensive and a lot of work to do just so an employee can move to a state. Many companies wouldn’t be willing to do that work. You can ask, of course, but do be prepared for them to refuse. What will you do if they say no? Have a plan ready.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I work remotely from our home office. The home office decided years ago to stop withholding for other states’ taxes, and just withholds for their home state. I end up making estimated payments to my resident state, and having to file to get all of my withheld taxes back.

        3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          If you and your partner are considering a move to one of the states your company already has a presence in, you have a slightly better chance of it being a possibility. As others said, in the U.S., each state is a separate setup, so already being setup is one less burden.

          Also, be prepared to demonstrate that your work quality and output haven’t been affected and won’t be affected. Plus, realize and show recognition that moving out of state is a huge ask. WFH in your current state would be less of an ask.

    2. Mercedes*

      Tell them you’re willing to consider continuing your wfh situation. That means one less body to provide social distance space for, which gives them more flexibility.

    3. Kara S*

      Definitely bring it up now. I would wait to see their reaction to WFH before discussing that you want to potentially move states because if they give a flat-out no to WFH full time, they may take you wanting to move states as a sign you’re looking to leave soon rather than a potential perk. Good luck!

  5. LTL*

    I know it’s generally harder to get a job in a different state. I was wondering if this rule applied to getting a job in Philadelphia from NJ? I wouldn’t have thought so, since people can commute to Philly from NJ just as easily as they can commute to NYC from NJ. But I wanted to get some second opinions.

    On a related note, how have you guys managed getting jobs in different states? I was going to apply for jobs in Baltimore and Boston but I know those are a harder sell. I’d rather not mention where I live to employers at all but I don’t think I can get away with not putting it on my cover letter. And my LinkedIn says I live in the greater New York metropolitan area.

    1. Maui’s*

      I live in this area and have never had trouble. Have lived in DE/worked in PA, lived in NJ/worked in PA. Philly employers are used to many people commuting from NJ. Just make sure you pay attention to you taxes as NJ and PA I think have a reciprocal tax agreement so you don’t have to pay both state taxes, only this in your state of residence. But you’ll have to pay Philly wage tax if you work there even if you don’t live there.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yup! This is generally a Tri-State area and it’s not uncommon to have jobs in PA/Philly, Delaware, New Jersey and even Maryland while living in one of the other states.
        Be aware though of things like bridge tolls and filing state income taxes, which can be a bother. Unemployment payments also go by the state you worked in, which can be lower than the state you live in.

        1. LTL*

          Thank you both! I’m actually planning on moving to Philadelphia (well, whenever the pandemic subsides… I suppose I’ll have to look into taxes in the meanwhile).

          1. blackcat*

            Most of my adult life, I’ve had to file taxes in multiple states for a variety of reasons (frequent moving, academic life means my husband and I have had jobs in different states more often than not).

            It’s enough of a pain that I would like to pay someone to do the taxes. My husband is enough of a cheapskate he does it himself (on paper). It takes him maybe 10-12 hours? It really depends on the state. Presently we have a bad combination of states (two states that are, on their own, a pain). We once had PA and NC as a combination, and that wasn’t bad at all, though that was like a decade ago. Most states have some sort of way to credit taxes paid in the other state, so your income does not get fully taxed in both.

    2. LGC*

      It’d probably depend on where you are in New Jersey. Like, you said New Jersey and greater New York metro…but there’s a difference between Pennsauken, Piscataway, and Paramus in getting to Philly. (Pennsauken being right outside Philadelphia, Piscataway being in central Jersey, so about an hour away by car, and Paramus being not too far outside New York City.) I don’t think the different state rule holds up if it’s a border state (or if you’re dealing with small states like in the Northeast).

      Also, why do you think you have to mention your location in your cover letter?

      1. LTL*

        I thought it was standard formatting. Your contact information at the top (name, email, phone number, and city state zip). Is that not the case?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          As far as I know, it’s not necessary to follow traditional letter convention in your cover letter. Resume is a bit different, though the convention is in dispute from what I can see (I recently went from full address to just city and state).

    3. Llellayena*

      Nope, NJ to Philly is just fine and very standard. Basically NJ is split fairly evenly into two metro areas. Once you’re far enough north to be out of the Philly metro, you’re solidly in the NYC metro. You might have people look a little skeptically if you’re looking in Philly while living in, say, Jersey City or one of the smaller towns north of that. But in general not a problem.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      Yeah, it’s fairly common for people in Philly to work in Jersey and vice versa. My best friend lived in Bucks County for a few years and her job was in Lambertville, NJ which isn’t all that far away. Her colleagues were a split team of PA/NJ residents.

    5. Deanna Troi*

      As others have said, it is very common for people who live in NJ to work in the Philadelphia area. I worked for a company with HQ in Philadelphia, and about half the people in that office lived in NJ. It wasn’t a consideration at all when hiring.

  6. Anne Shirley*

    Nightmare management thread
    We love stories like “worst boss of the year”
    Yesterday’s thread, (my boss asked me to reflect on my conflicts with coworkers and I don’t want to)
    HollyGolightly described a nightmare situation of having an employee that was impossible to supervise or let go and the absurdity and frustration in that kind of situation.
    This is not the place for “of course you can fire, you just don’t want to do the work”
    This is the thread for telling us what happened,
    how and what you did,
    What your supervisors did to support or not support you.
    Was HR helpful? Not helpful?
    Did you administer a PIP?
    How’d that work for you?
    What was the ultimate resolution?
    Did you quit?
    Did they quit?
    Did they get fired?
    How long did it take?
    Are you still in the middle of it?
    What do you want your boss to do?
    Have you learned anything from the experience?
    Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
    How did the experience effect you?
    Have you recovered from the experience?

    1. Lora*

      Not mine but my boss’s at the time:

      -Employee had been stealing parts and tools, threatening other employees, throwing screaming 3-hour tantrums in weekly group meetings that were supposed to be 30 minute updates (literally, dude would stomp his feet and spittle would fly from his mouth), sabotage other people’ projects and change file documents that were supposed to be controlled drawings and specs (big no-no in engineering, you go to hell for that) after they had already been submitted to the official files / permits. He would also start weird little vendettas where he would target one person for 6 months – year or two, then pick someone else to hate and bully. Lots of reasons to fire him. The bullied person du jour filed HR complaints, to no avail.

      -First his one friend in the whole world was protecting him, having worked with the guy in the past, who kept saying, “he’s just going through a tough time now, he’s not really like this” for YEARS. Then his girlfriend (who was previously his affair partner before getting divorced) protected him. They’d cover up the document changes, cover up his own lack of work, do the work for him when he screwed it up, beg the person getting bullied to forgive the guy.

      -At least five people had filed HR complaints about the guy…which might as well been dropped into a black hole. One day we got a new manager, who had a LOT of previous management experience, who observed the situation and asked me one day why I hadn’t filed an HR complaint. I said, I did! I filed one, Mike filed one, other Mike filed one, Previous Manager even filed one and found out there was a stack of complaints going back years, had been preparing to fire the guy before he got another job and left. New Manager said, when he looked in the guy’s HR file, there was absolutely nothing. Evidently his buddy had gotten into the system and wiped it all clean, on his behalf.

      -New Manager decided, we will have a new annual goal: this is a collaborative type of endeavor, and so 50% of your annual goals will be based on Collaboration and Communication. You have to show how you are doing that, and there will be a 360 review on that half of your review. In previous years, anyone who scored less than 60% on their review became a known layoff target. This was serious business.

      -Dude complained and threw more hissyfits, including at New Manager, who kept his cool and didn’t react at all. Six months into the new year, dude had asked his previous employer if he could have his old job back, amounting to a 10% pay cut.

      -Sadly, New Manager ended up getting sick of senior management (who, after all, had allowed this crap to go unchecked for 10 years) and retired shortly thereafter.

    2. Holly Golightly*

      Assistant was smug, disrespectful, condescending and REALLY bad at her job. I tried. I really tried. But she was a nightmare and

      She constantly would tell me she didn’t like our field at all and was only there to work herself up in the company in a role she DID want to be in. She complained about EVERYTHING and aside from not being good at her job, was terrible and draining to be around because of her negativity.

      She reported me to HR for abuse and bullying for daring to be the first person in her life to tell her she wasn’t perfect and offer constructive criticism. She forwarded the email she sent to HR around a bunch of people in the office, so the ENTIRE OFFICE knew I had been reported to HR for abuse and bullying.

      She made a HUGE, VERY careless mistake (didn’t check her voicemail for two days and missed a very important call that had great consequences) about a year into working together (every day of which I was gradually losing patience because she was absolutely terrible–entitled, condescending, disrespectful and rude, and also BAD at her job). This was the last straw to me, and I went to my manager and was honest in that I couldn’t work with her anymore.

      I wrote her a firm email that she couldn’t make this mistake again and that I’m not even asking her to always pick up her phone, just to always make sure she checks her messages at least once a day.

      The next day?

      My boss gets me alone and tells me this child went to HR and reported me for abuse and bullying.

      These are the three things she cited:

      -I told her she used too many ellipses in emails and that she should try to avoid that, because some people can read it as being passive aggressive. She said she had a Master’s in English and nobody has EVER corrected her punctuation before.

      -A few weeks earlier, we were supposed to cover an event. She came to work in jeans and sneakers. The event had a dress code. She couldn’t help me at the event, so I had to go alone and I was very overwhelmed. I sent her a very simple email saying that she can wear jeans and sneakers to work, but it would be great if she could keep a change of clothes at the office (just black pants and dressy-ish flats) for last minute events. She cited this email as unreasonable.

      -That abusive note I sent her about not checking her voicemail.

      Was HR helpful? Not helpful?

      HR was VERY helpful and wanted us to let her go or put her on a PIP LONG before we actually did. I was hanging out in the HR office so much filling them in that I now really trust the HR guys, which is nice.

      Did you administer a PIP?
      Yes, we did, a full six months after she reported me to HR for abuse and bullying (which was already a year and a half after she started)

      How’d that work for you?
      We had to do her midyear review shortly after we put her on the PIP. We had just had an in-office holiday party and I had some wine and cupcakes and was telling myself, “See, now you have to be really careful because you just drank a little so just stay CALM.” I started by telling her that nobody wanted to hurt her (she had been a sobbing mess at the meeting we issued the PIP at) and that we did all want to work with her to improve. She got VICIOUS and told me that we all attacked her, and that nothing she did was good enough for us and that we didn’t appreciate her incredible work ethic.

      I finally started to lose my cool, and reminded her that I’m the one who has to sit next to the person who told the entire office she had reported me for abuse and bullying.

      Her: I THOUGHT we moved PAST that.

      Me: It is going to take a while for you to regain my trust after that.

      Her: Do you WANT me to QUIT?


      What was the ultimate resolution?
      She got a new job and left!!

      Did you quit?

      Did they quit?

      Did they get fired?

      How long did it take?
      We worked together a total of 23 months. She was a nightmare from my first day.

      Are you still in the middle of it?

      What do you want your boss to do?
      I absolutely adore my boss, but I would have liked him to have stood up to her a bit instead of putting it all on me. I could tell he felt awful and awkward about it, but it got to the point where it was truly unfair for me to have to keep working with this person who tried to sabotage me. After she reported me for abuse and bullying, I asked my boss if I could have my desk moved because I really couldn’t stand being near her. My boss was worried about appearances.

      Have you learned anything from the experience?
      Honestly? Nothing.

      Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
      I wouldn’t have let her seen that she had gotten to me at all. I was doing a good job with that until the slighly drunken midyear review.

      How did the experience effect you?
      Right now, I do look at it as a funny story because anybody who knows me knows I’m not capable of being an abusive bully. When I told my cousin about how she kept saying how scary I was, my cousin’s response was, “Is she scared of sunshine?” and my boss told me he told HR that something was really off because I was the nicest person he had ever worked with and possibly ever met.

      Have you recovered from the experience?
      I DO find the story funny, but remembering her face gives me some kind of PTSD. A coworker hung out with her recently and tagged her on photos on social media and seeing her made me twitch.

      I really DO hope she learned something from it. Right after she left, she would constantly post memes about horrible managers on LinkedIn. Nothing was EVER her fault.

      1. Anne Shirley*

        oh I just remembered the only time I lost my cool with the bad assistant who didn’t do her job or anything I asked of her.
        We are in month 7 of the PIP which required me to have weekly coaching meeting which were me asking, so did you do X? Oh you did, why don’t I have X? Oh you sent it as an email attachment? Didn’t I ask for a hard copy in my in-box? Big tears and weeping. Every meeting. Why was I so hard on her when she was tryying?
        She filed three grievances against me that required meetings in another building. In those meetings much weeping by her as evidence refuting the grievance was provided by me.
        It was a Friday afternoon, after a week of investigation meetings, HR meetings, documentation reports AND these union meetings on top of my regular job.
        Left the grievance meeting. Meet with HR. Walk back to my office. Her cubicle was right outside my office. I hear her sniffling. I lean in and say, I know these meetings are stressful. You are the one who instigated them, you have the ability to stop them anytime. She filed a grievance that I had threatened her.
        I never let my guard down again. All further communication from me to her was in emails. Coaching meetings had a witness nearby who could hear every word.

        1. Holly Golightly*

          If I didn’t know the job with me had been my assistant’s first job, I would have been convinced we had the same assistant.

    3. Just Another Manic Millie*

      This is the thread for telling us what happened, how and what you did, What your supervisors did to support or not support you.

      The office manager told me that she had hired a new receptionist “Sansa” who had gotten a super-wonderful reference from her previous company. The company had to let her go for financial cut-backs, and Sansa’s previous supervisor said that she cried and cried about having to let Sansa go, because she was an absolutely wonder employee. The office manager told me, who would be responsible for training Sansa, that I should be extra nice to her, because she was such a wonderful person.

      I was not the least bit impressed with Sansa on her first day. She acted as if she had never held a job before. When I tried to show her how to change the printer cartridge on the fax machine (which would have been her job), she shouted, “What do I care! I’m not going to do it!” Since the office manager had made a big deal that I should be extra nice to Sansa, I didn’t pursue the matter. A few months later, when the office manager saw me changing the printer cartridge, she asked me why Sansa wasn’t doing it. I told her what had happened, and I said that I had been told to be extra nice to her, and I didn’t want to get in a fight with her on her first day. The office manager then told Sansa that changing the printer cartridge was her job. Sansa said that she didn’t know that, and that I should have made it VERY clear to her that it was her job.

      Sansa eventually confessed to me that she had never had a job before. She never wanted to have a job. She would lie to her mother and say that she went on interviews and would then say, “They don’t want me, Ma. Nobody wants me.” And then she would cry, and her mother would cry. Finally, her mother told her, “I have a great idea. Put on your resume that you used to work for my company. Tell everyone that when they call my company for a reference, they should ask for Mrs. Phillips, and I’ll tell everyone at my company that all calls for Mrs. Phillips should go to me.” So that was why Sansa received such a glowing reference! Because it was given by her mother, who was desperate for Sansa to find a job.

      Sansa was constantly rude and nasty to everyone. She would call in sick for days at a time, and when she returned, she would tell me that she hadn’t really been sick – she just didn’t want to go to work. (I couldn’t tell the office manager this, because it would have been my word against hers, and I didn’t have any proof.) She was looking to get fired so that she could collect unemployment. While the office manager saw how she was acting, she wouldn’t fire Sansa, because that would be admitting that she had made a mistake in hiring her, and the office manager absolutely hated admitting that she had made a mistake.

      Was HR helpful? Not helpful?
      The company didn’t have an HR department.

      Did you administer a PIP?
      I have never worked for a company that did PIPs.

      How’d that work for you?
      I was thoroughly miserable working with her. Sansa got very upset when she saw that no matter how nasty and rude she was, she was never fired. So she upped her game and acted nastier and nastier, hoping that finally, the office manager would fire her.

      What was the ultimate resolution?
      The office manager told me that she worked out a deal with Sansa. Sansa could quit and file for unemployment, so that she could spend the entire summer sitting at home and collecting unemployment, and the company would not dispute her case.

      Did you quit?

      Did they quit?
      Yes. Because who wouldn’t snap up the opportunity to sit around for months and collect unemployment?

      Did they get fired?
      Not sure. It was the office manager’s suggestion, not Sansa’s suggestion, that Sansa leave the company, so that kinda means that Sansa was fired, but I bet that the office manager promised to tell anyone who ever called for a reference that Sansa had quit.

      How long did it take?
      Too long. She was there for about three years.

      Are you still in the middle of it?

      What do you want your boss to do?
      I wish that the office manager had inspired Sansa to quit sooner than she did, or at least tell Sansa that the way she was acting wasn’t suitable. But I think that the office manager was embarrassed at having gone on and on about what a wonderful employee Sansa would be, and, as I said above, the office manager just hated admitting that she had made a mistake.

      Have you learned anything from the experience?
      Yes, two things. One, it is a mistake to trust a reference given over the phone so implicitly. The office manager had no idea that she was talking to Sansa’s mother, as opposed to Sansa’s supervisor. Two, when the next receptionist showed up, and I was showing her the ropes, I showed her how to make coffee. She pouted and sulked and then said angrily, “Okay. I’ll take turns with you.” I said, “No. It’s YOUR job.” I learned not to trust employees whose immediate reaction upon being shown a perfectly reasonable task was to complain.

      Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
      I don’t know what I could have done differently. Except quit.

      How did the experience effect you?
      As I said, it made me very distrustful of references given over the phone. When you call for references, you have no idea whom you wind up talking to.

      Have you recovered from the experience?

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          2 of the last 3 places I’ve gotten offers from (including my current job) don’t ask for references at all. It was explained less as “anyone can lie” (although that’s quite true) and more “why would anyone provide the name of a reference who wasn’t going to say positive things?”

          (As a frustrating counterpoint, though, the third place demanded FIVE references, and they would not proceed until all five had been received!)

        2. Hiding from my Boss*

          Conventional wisdom from way back: Beware the super-glowing reference because they could only be trying to get Crummy Employee to move on to another job and/or don’t want to risk Crummy Employee suing them.

    4. Anne Shirley*

      I’ll start
      About me- had been a manager in retail, public service and academic environments for over 15 years. Have had difficult reports, bad fits, just okay employees. I even had a an employee pull a knife on me and said “I’ll cut you bitch. when I noted that we didn’t pay him to sit around.”
      New to a position as dept. manager. Inherited an assistant who had been in her role for 5 years. Previous manager had the position for more than 10 years and had retired.
      Union position.
      Employee refused to do anything that was asked of her from answering the phone and taking a message. Lied about big and small things. Completed nothing on time including their own time sheets. Professed not to understand any assignment. Trained her reports in out-dated procedures despite trainings because “we always did it this way.” Was a time suck. Was under the understanding that union employees were un-fireable. (that actually was reasonable but I was new to the organization.

      how and what you did,
      I started documenting within the first 60 days of my hiring.
      What your supervisors did to support or not support you.
      Not helpful- it seemed that pointing out that this employee was either not doing her job OR had not been doing her job was me not communicating clearly, having too high expectations, or noting that perhaps her previous supervisor/s should have done something.
      Was HR helpful? Not helpful?
      Helpful for process, language, steps. Not helpful “are you sure you want to go down this road?” I wanted to let her go and give 2 weeks severance for each year of service
      Did you administer a PIP?
      yup. a year and half progressive discipline in alliance with the union contract.
      How’d that work for you?
      It was stressful, a part-time job, a time-suck. Made me second guess every action. the employee filed successive grievances against me during that time including claims of abusive behavior and discrimination. Each one having their own step schedule of investigations, documentation and meetings with union representatives as well as an arbitrator.
      What was the ultimate resolution?
      Ah- I cleaned house around her. Got everyone else in the department a better job somewhere else and didn’t hire for those positions therefore she lost all of her reports. There was no one to blame for work not done, work done poorly etc. Provided her assignments that were documentable therefore success or failure was solely hers.
      Did you quit? Believe me there were times
      Did they quit? They resigned during the meeting that they were being fired.
      Did they get fired?
      see above
      How long did it take?
      almost two years from the first documentable event.
      Are you still in the middle of it? N/A
      What do you want your boss to do?
      I wanted my supervisor to have a hand in the process. At most they listened to me and just referred me to HR.
      Have you learned anything from the experience?
      Put everything in writing. Document the smallest infraction as you don’t know if that is the tipping point.
      Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
      I would not have taken responsibility for my employees failings. For a very long time I had what ifs? What if I had done this or that.
      How did the experience effect you? I now recognize that I cannot control what other people do or not do. I can hold them accountable and the results are on them not me. There are other people out there who want to do the job, I should give them the opportunity.
      Have you recovered from the experience? Not really. I do know given the evidence over the years that I am a kind and generous mentor. I admit my mistakes and am open to everyone learning as they are doing. Some people do not want that and that is their right.

      I am not alone- thank you Hollygolightly for sharing.

        1. Anne Shirley*

          the knife guy. A nearby employee who saw what was going on called the building security. They came to the floor, the knife guy was agitated but put the knife (pocket knife) down on a table when asked. They took his id and walked him out of the building.

    5. WG*

      Several situations come to mind. A few of the more memorable:

      I hired a person that everyone liked that had met her during a full day of interviews. The person that showed up to work on day 1 was completely different – she had quite an attitude. Didn’t want to do the work hired to do, didn’t feel she needed to take direction, etc. Even during her introductory period, HR was hesitant to let me deal with it. Long story short, I pushed back on HR, put the employee on a PIP, and eventually was able to terminate her (with 90 days notice). It wasn’t easy or pretty, but she was eventually gone. The best part was that another department at the same organization hired her a year or so later. She claimed to them that the earlier issues were all my fault (I never aired the issues publicly, so people believed her in the absence of any other information). She performed (or not!) that same way there that she had in my department and they eventually terminated her. I felt quite vindicated.

      Another time I inherited a part-time employee that had performance issues. I initially approached the situation from the perspective that maybe she hadn’t been trained well and tried to work with her to ensure she had all the right knowledge and resources to complete her work. Turned out she didn’t seem to care about doing the job well. And during one fun meeting while discussing her performance issues, she let me know she’d been talking about me with other employees in the company and they all agreed I needed mental health help. I’m completely sure that was the reason she didn’t do her job well :). After putting her through a PIP, she was eventually fired.

      Years ago, my boss had hired a young woman into our department who had multiple performance issues. The young woman turned out to be in a minority category. A colleague coached her on the terminology to use to scare HR about the possibility of a discrimination lawsuit if she was terminated. Even though her hiring and the desire to terminate wasn’t based on her minority status, HR wouldn’t allow my boss to fire the woman. Fortunately, in addition to being a terrible employee she was also a thief. She was caught stealing money from a coworker’s desk and fired immediately for that.

      Those three were all at the same employer where HR was extremely conservative and terminating any employee took ages. Many supervisors would put up with subpar employees rather than deal with the quagmire of paperwork and process to terminate. In the first example above, I asked HR about doing a 3-month evaluation of the employee because there were issue, but they stated I couldn’t evaluate until the 6-month mark. I went ahead on my own and did an informal evaluation, using the same format that would be done at 6 months, because I wanted the employee to be aware of the issues and not be blindsided at 6 months.

      I’ve since moved on to a different employer and they seem to handle performance issues and terminations much more timely. Employees are still given warnings and opportunities to improve, but it doesn’t seem to drag out as long as at my prior employer.

      1. Anne Shirley*

        Thanks for sharing. I kept hearing over and over that I had to “make sure” that all the paperwork, investigations and documentation were in order because the organization had never lost a grievance or termination decision. Added to the stress.

  7. tada*

    If an employee is furloughed and finds a new job, what are the best practices for letting the former employer know? Should I provide two weeks’ notice even though I will not work in those two weeks? Or, just wait to see if they call me back and let them know then?

    1. nep*

      I could be wrong, but I think two weeks’ notice is out in this case. My call would be to just contact them and let them know you’ve got a new job.
      I’ll be interested to hear others’ input here.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I agree. Call and let them know you’ll be taking a new job. If you’re furloughed, it’s probably for financial reasons, so they won’t be able to pay you for a two week notice period. Thems the breaks.

    2. Colette*

      I’d say give them 2 weeks notice in case they want to bring you back to document something/prepare a transition plan. You definitely should tell them before they bring you back.

    3. Millicent*

      You should call your employer and let them know you’ll be taking a new job. No need for two weeks’ notice. But you shouldn’t wait to notify them until they happen to contact you again.

    4. Black Horse Dancing*

      I wouldn’t worry about the notice unless you are being paid. You are laid off in reality. Just send them a notice you are resigning.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      I think it depends on what furlough means to the former employer. I’ve seen some places where furloughed means we’re still carrying your insurance and other benefits, other places it means you’re first in line and don’t have to reapply when we hire again. If the are still providing benefits it seems like two weeks notice would be a good idea to get that ironed out, if they aren’t providing any benefits and then you should contact them, it will always look better for you to contact them first.

    6. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Funny thing is that I was going to ask this exact same question this week as a result of an interview I had on Thursday. (Unfortunately, I found out later in the day that the job I applied for, their headcount was filled and they tried to pitch me on a position was significantly lower pay.)

    7. MissDisplaced*

      As soon as your new job is official, call your former employer to let them know you have a new job and will not be returning. You probably do not have to observe the two weeks notice given you’re on furlough, but you should both agree what your last day officially IS, for both unemployment benefits (the last week you can file), insurance, benefits, and future reference. Former employer does need this info to remain in compliance if they have any stimulus loans and for unemployment reporting, so don’t just ghost them.


    8. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

      Spooky, I came to ask the same question! I’m offering my notice at half of what was agreed (4 weeks rather than 8), in part to help my company. I’m in the UK though, so I’m currently getting 80% of my pay from the government. But if I were to continue to work in August, my company would have to contribute some money to my pay. I’m hoping that gets accepted so I can start the new job as soon as possible, as I’ve been so bored for the past few months!

  8. Stay or Go?*

    Related to question above:

    Has anyone given their notice/left their job during the pandemic while working remote? How did it go? What do you wish you would have known?

    1. New Remote Job in the Pandemic*

      I did – When we were in the office pre pandemic, I did not keep anything personal in the office so I did not care, but that may be a concern if there is anything personal you want/need. I got the resources and documents I wanted from my laptop before I gave my notice just in case the shut me out early (they did not). I wish I had spent more time on “after you leave the company information”. benefits, 401K etc… I had to contact my old boss to get a number for someone to talk to about that. My boss and I met in a parking lot to give her my laptop and equipment. It was the height of the pandemic here in NY and I felt like we could have waited a few weeks. I did not take any time off in between b/c we were stuck at home anyway, but I wish I would have, just to decompress. I’ve been in the workforce for a long time so I have changed jobs enough times and it is always stressful. However, this was the hardest. It was not the new job as much as it was the stress of the new job and the stress of the pandemic. My old job was not challenging and I was bored most of the time and it was time to go. However, a new job and a global pandemic did not make for an easy transition.

    2. Alexandra Lynch*

      Well, my boyfriend just found out they were breaking his contract early (he was up for renewal/hire in September) because the nonprofit he works for was dealing with budgetary issues.

      That’s going to make life interesting. We just bought a house.

  9. Excel help*

    My Excel skills were pretty good–I’ve used VBA and pivot tables–but now I need to create some dashboards. These new features blow my mind–power query, slicers, etc. I am a little overwhelmed–can anyone recommend a good book or youtube channel to get started?

    1. Mazzy*

      What specifically are you trying to make? I’ve found that newer versions of excel are very…intuitive, I guess you’d say. If you highlight the data and go to insert – recommended charts, it will show you some good graphs/line/bar charts to use. I’ve found that to be very useful when I have writer’s block.

      Also, I am learning power BI which is part of Microsoft now, and it seems like an easy to use drop-n-drag program to make charts, but I’m not at the level to be handing out advice yet.

    2. knitrex*

      I find the r/excel subreddit very helpful for learning new things and getting questions answered.
      I also really like the website exceljet.

      1. buffty*

        I second ExcelJet! Their explanations and examples always make the most sense to me.

    3. LGC*

      Honestly, what I’ve done is just Google what I want to use as I’m building it, but that’s kind of how I learn. Mazzy’s right in that Office 2016 and 2019 will often guide you in the right direction (and the skills are transferable to Power BI, actually).

      You’ve used VBA and pivot tables, so you already have a pretty good base to start. Since you already know how to do pivot tables, I’d start with slicers and applying them to current pivot tables.

      As for queries…it’s something I’m less good at – or rather, I’m less good at M (the power query language) than I am at DAX (the data model language), partly because DAX is pretty close to standard Excel.

    4. Goatgirl*

      My library offers access (via their website) to free LinkedIn courses where you can learn as much Excel as you can handle. The only downside of these free courses is that you usually can’t access the sample documents that might be attached. Aside from that, these are the same courses that you would pay for on LinkedIn and are good quality.

    5. maggggggie*

      If your version of office comes with PowerBI, that’s the best place to create dashboards. It’s basically pivot charts and you can set up an RSS feed to automatically refresh data, which is super helpful. The dashboards can then be integrated into your company’s share point site so that people can access them without messing with the data.

  10. Retail not Retail*

    Forget burnout – bitterness management? My job is so careless with our safety and our customers don’t care and my coworkers don’t care and my region is a new hotspot and and and and it’s 100 degrees.

    How to manage this?

    1. nep*

      I’d definitely be job-searching and updating my resume, for one.
      Sorry you’re having to face that–sounds awful. If only people’s recklessness affected only them.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        That is what I’m doing but it’s not instantaneous. How do I maintain sanity/equanimity now?

        1. nep*

          I know. Of course, you’re right.
          What comes to mind is meditation. And doing whatever you can to feel healthy. I know that when I am eating right and exercising, therefore feeling healthier, it’s a great stress-reducer.
          I feel for you. I have COVID deniers in my immediate family and it’s maddening.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      The 100 degrees is depressingly normal.

      My workplace hasn’t said one word of thanks for anything and is delaying raises. We’re holding promotions to attract more visitors. We opened up face painting today.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Face painting?! Which involves people being fairly close to each other, and the person getting their face painted probably doesn’t wear a mask, right?

        How about getting some fabric-safe paints and some new masks and having mask painting instead? (Maybe you can make the suggestion; I know this whole thing wasn’t your idea.)

        1. Retail not Retail*

          The painter is behind plexiglass (or the paintee?) and yeah you just let a stranger paint your child’s face!

    3. juliebulie*

      Seek rewarding pursuits outside of work. Learn something, build something, do some kind of craft, or whatever it takes to get some joy in your life during the hours when you’re not at work. Also gives you something to look forward to during the working day.

      I would not want to wear face paint in 100 degree heat.

  11. Polo*

    So I’m starting my first ever job on Monday (no part-time teen work, just volunteering and internships through university. And I would not recommend this because I did not have as much as experience as many of my peers) and I’m dead nervous. I’m worried my colleagues aren’t going to like me, that I’ll be blatantly obvious as a Noob Who Does Not Know What She’s Doing, and that I’ll just end up having a bad time and embarrassing myself by asking a dumb question or being unintentionally inappropriate. This is a job I’m very excited about as a potential start of my career, and I hope to stay at the organisation for several years. So I really, really do not want to screw it up.

    Any advice? I’ve been reading AAM religiously for years so I’m definitely more prepared than I could be, but I’m still really anxious (and excited!) about it.

    1. LTL*

      Congrats! You’ll be fine. No one knows everything when they start working. Heck, even people who’ve been working 30 years don’t know everything. Also keep in mind that if you’ve had internships, you already had some experience in an office environment.

      Just be open to feedback and cognizant of your environment. Based on your post, it doesn’t sound like you’ll have a problem with either.

    2. Colette*

      Smile. Say hi.
      Take notes when you’re being trained.
      If you don’t know something (and you have checked your notes), ask. It will not get easier to ask if you wait a day or a week or a month.

      Any functional organization expects people to ask questions and have to learn stuff. In fact, I get worried if new people don’t ask questions.

      And congratulations on the new job!

      1. Clisby*

        +1. And of course they should tell you if there are places you can look these things up for yourself. If they haven’t, ask them if there are online trainings, policies, procedures, etc.

      2. tuesday last?*

        “Take notes when you’re being trained.
        If you don’t know something (and you have checked your notes), ask.”

        this. so much this.
        I’m …. 30 years into my career, I still write stuff down for new things. And sometimes I ask about stuff that’s in my notes, but I can’t find it. If I remember I’ve asked before, I start with an apology.

    3. bleh*

      Congrats on the first job!! Just listen more than you talk for a while, be pleasant and warm, and admit that you don’t know when you cannot figure something out on your own. You will be great!

    4. Stay or Go?*

      As long as you’re friendly without making it weird, people will generally like you, and if people like you, they will give you tons of grace if there are things you don’t know!

    5. Web Crawler*

      I was in your position recently. Can you accept that you’ll be a newbie for a bit while you learn? I embraced it- I asked lots of potentially dumb questions, got answers, and learned. And then wrote down all the answers so I’d only have to ask once.

      In my experience, people would rather answer questions than see you fail. Because unlike school, your success actively helps your peers. They have an incentive to see you do well.

    6. Apfelgail*


      Notebook and pens to take notes.
      Drink water.
      Stay organized.
      And take a few deep breaths. :)

    7. Senor Montoya*


      Do not be afraid to be the noob who doesn’t know anything. You ARE the noob who doesn’t know much! Pretending to know stuff you don’t know is waaaaaay worse than not knowing stuff.

      Be friendly with everyone, but try really hard not to get sucked into a clique (or to find your peeps) until you have been there for awhile. One thing you really don’t know is the office culture and you do not know anything about the people there, you don’t know the history. Listen a lot.

      If you don’t know how to do something, ask, but also start trying to figure out answers on your own, and then check to see if you’re right. Maybe the answer is in the training materials you get, or maybe it’s in google, or…

      Downtime? Meet people. Read everything.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, this. People expect you to not know much when you’re new. Sounds like you’ll have a good attitude and are willing to learn and work; your co-workers will appreciate that.

        If you have to ask what you think is a stupid question, well, sometimes you have to, and it usually gets worse if you wait.

    8. Should be grateful (?)*

      These are the lessons I learned from my last 2 jobs (bad job and good job)
      1) Read the room. If its a chill office, don’t be so chatty. If its a chatty office, try to join in.
      2) Make an effort to learn names and join office lunches where possible. The faster you make friends the quicker you will feel comfortable.
      3) Don’t worry about being the noob who doesn’t know everything, all people are that. Even if you have ages of work experience, if the office norms is totally different you still have to start from stage 1 (e.g. way offices write memos, process claims, procure vendors…etc). Ask your colleagues and superiors for resources to learn

      You can do it!

    9. nep*

      Congratulations. The very fact that you’ve got the job says a lot.
      Great tips here already. Agree that it will make a huge difference being warm and friendly and receptive. The last thing you want to do is go in with the mindset that you’ll have a bad time, be embarrassed, etc, because with that you’ll almost inevitably project that and coworkers will pick up that vibe.
      Everyone was the noob once–remember that. Take advantage of it to learn as much as you can.
      Wishing you all the best.

    10. glasswindow*

      I’d forget the idea of being liked. You don’t need to be liked at work, you just need to be able to get along with people and do your job well enough in the team.

      In the wider world people can be difficult and workplaces can be difficult. You’re not always going to make friends, be liked or like others.

      What matters is a professional level of co-operation and politeness. Now, I’ve made friends at work and it does happen you can have good workplaces. But the bare minimum I hope for is professionalism and that’s it. I don’t concern myself with being liked, friends and so on. There’s just far too many difficult people in the work world to bank on that happening.

      Just hope you can get along with people professionally enough and have moderate expectations for how much you will like your co workers or be liked in return.

    11. DrtheLiz*

      # Ask questions!! “How long should I spend on this?” sounds dumb, but it’s a *great* question.
      # Remember that your boss doesn’t want to know why you haven’t done something already. They just want you to get going on it.
      # Socialise with your co-workers. My new office does a Daily Coffee Thing which I would never choose to do myself, but I go anyway. It turns out to be about 50/50 personal chat versus useful work discussions, and it definitely nets me a better relationship with both my boss and my desk-neighbour.
      # Remember that they chose to hire you! Your boss and your team want you to be there and they want you to do good work and succeed! (Unless they’re assholes, which… I’m giving you Regular Advice For Safe Sane Offices here :P )

    12. learnedthehardway*

      You’re going to be fine – really. You’ve been reading AAM, so you know what NOT to do, and have learned a great deal about what TO do. That’s a good start.

      Remember that your manager wants you to succeed, that you’re going to be in learning mode for at least 3 months (if not 6) before you’re truly productive in the full scope of your role, and that being a reasonable person who is willing to work hard and dig in is going to be the best way to gain your colleagues’ and managers’ respect. Look for ways to help your colleagues in little things that are within scope of your job, but be smart about making sure you’re not taking on more than you should (ask your manager for clarification if anyone seems to take advantage).

      Make the new job your main focus – ie. get enough rest, don’t take on a new major hobby for awhile, make sure your weekends/time off is relaxing (ie. not overly strenuous). Basically, you’ll be in full learning and ramping up in your new job, so keep the rest of your life as low stress and low key as you can for the first few months.

      Good luck!

    13. RagingADHD*

      If you just use good manners, you won’t have to worry about being inappropriate. You can always get more casual over time, when you know your coworkers and the general tone of the office.

      Everyone else in the office has also been the new hire at one time. Being the new hire is a normal thing, and to normal, professional people that means they will be friendly and helpful.

      Rational people want you to settle in and get up to speed as smoothly as possible, because they need someone in that role doing a good job.

      Being a “noob” in a negative sense is not something that normal working adults even think about, much less think badly of someone about. Anyone who does is an immature jerk and should be avoided. (They are probably really bad at their job, and everyone knows it).

      You’ll be fine!

    14. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Lots of great advice here. It’s already been mentioned, but I’ll repeat – take notes! You will never be sorry you wrote something down. I recommend having a small memo-type notebook you can easily carry with you. If you ask a co-worker a question and the answer is the least bit complicated, they will generally appreciate it when you pull out a notebook and start jotting things down. Asking questions is not a problem, but repeatedly asking the same questions can be. Take notes at any training sessions you attend (you can use a regular notebook for this). If they give you handouts, make annotations on them – it will help you later, and it shows the presenter that you are paying attention.

    15. Coffee Owlccountant*

      You’re going to be great! I’ll add two things to the rest of this excellent advice:

      – When you’re meeting your new coworkers, try to make it a point to learn generally what they do. This makes is much easier to know that you should be talking to Arya if you have questions about payroll or Jeffrey if you need to order supplies or Cersei if you have IT issues. Your manager will help out here, but the faster you learn your coworkers’ spheres of influence, the more comfortable you will be.

      – At some point, you’re going to make A Mistake. I’m not talking about the minor stuff like unfortunate autocorrect errors or a backwards sign or getting Jerome in Finance and Jeremy in HR mixed up. This will be A Big Mistake, possibly highly visible, possibly very costly. It happens to everyone. How you handle The Mistake will help to shape how you are seen in your workplace and maybe how your career at this particular company goes. If you are the one who finds your own mistake, own up to it immediately. Do everything you can to mitigate or rectify the mistake. Make sure you and your manager are on the same page about what caused The Mistake and what plans you’re implementing to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Then… move on. Seriously. It will ABSOLUTELY SUCK when it happens. But, it is not the end of everything. Own it, fix it, process improvement, move on. This Mistake does not define you.

      You’re already way ahead of the curve by reading AAM, so I am confident you’re going to be just fine.

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

      When starting my most recent “new role” I found the following helpful –

      – a notebook and make notes as I go, as others have suggested
      – a Word doc (but could be in any format you want, obviously) with notes for each day for the first few weeks, with headings like “people I’ve met and what their role is”, “systems/documents people have mentioned”, “organisational context” (e.g. a few weeks before I joined there was a re-negotiation of contracts with client X so a lot of people are busy with that, or whatever)

      What I wish I’d done more of –

      – actively push with my line manager to get time set aside with representative people in the company to sit with them for a little while as they do what they do. I did get a cross-functional “induction” sort of thing in my first couple of days but it was too much to take in at once, and I didn’t have the context to have ideas of what to ask the people I was introduced to.
      So for example if it’s a manufacturing company and you are in an ‘office’ role, you might want to go through the basic stuff non-office people do in Purchasing, Supplier Management, Production, Quality Control, Warehousing, as well as other ‘office’ areas like Sales, Customer Support, Research and Development… etc.

      – A lot of people, when you do get to talk to them about what they do, get so enthusiastic that they end up going into a bunch of detail that you’ll get lost in and won’t remember…. I wish I had been more forthcoming in asking for a more “conceptual” or “outline” view of what they were talking about! Almost everyone won’t mind if you ask them to repeat or rephrase something if it didn’t seem to make sense the first time.

      – If it’s the kind of thing where people show you a document/diagram/etc ask if they can send you a link to it or a copy so that you can have a look later.

      – Get clarity in your mind and make sure you know where they are about the key systems you will be working with, e.g. in my company we have 2 different HR applications, a time sheet application for tracking billable hours, source control for code development, a “project tracking” system, a “client support ticket” system and I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten! Depending on your field you may have different things but no doubt you’ll have comparable things that you need to keep track of.

      – If someone is mentioned (especially by multiple people) as “an expert on X area” then make a note of it and if possible/appropriate try to get some time with that person.

    17. Observer*

      I’m going to highlight what the others have said. Being the “noob” is not an issue. Not learning when people are trying to help you WILL be an issue. Being seen as not learning or making sufficient effort to learn will also create problems.

      Be clearly engaged when people are telling / teaching you about their work, your work or the company. And YES, take notes! It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it’s something that works for you (with a couple of caveats.) It’s ok to use your phone, just make sure that people know what you are doing.

    18. Emma*

      There is a lot of great advice here. I don’t know anyone who did not occasionally ask a stupid question or do something stupid when they were first starting out. Some of these things are actually quite funny with a bit of time. They were not funny when they happened. Most of these things will be a way bigger deal to you than they to anyone else in the office because you will be more sensitive to them.
      Also, being wrong is not the worst thing in the world. Sitting in an all staff meeting loudly contradicting the CEO or your boss while being wrong is not good. Sitting in a team meeting and making a suggestion that it turns out people don’t think is a good idea is not a big deal – listen to why your idea is being rejected, also, pay attention to the meeting, not every idea everyone else suggests is going to be picked up or agreed with. Listen, learn, move on.
      I asked some really stupid questions when I was starting out – like, questions so stupid that as soon as you start hearing the answer you realise how stupid your question was. It happens, I still sometimes ask stupid questions. Apparently, despite these questions, people don’t actually think I am stupid.
      I would also re-iterate Coffee Owlccountant’s advice – if you make a mistake, own up to it quickly and work with your boss to address it. You can come back from a mistake, most of us have. It is very difficult to come back from trying to cover up a mistake.
      Good luck!

    19. Anax*

      Oh, make sure to bring your social security card and driver’s license/passport, if you’re in the US!

      Your bosses will probably have to fill out papers which say you’re legally allowed to work in the US, and they’ll need both ID and your actual social security card, at least in my experience. Hiring managers often forget to mention this to first-time employees.

      I also swear by bullet-journaling – keeping a running to-do list in general, with a “stuff to do this month” and “stuff to do eventually” area. Forgetting about small tasks can really affect how people see you at first – and conversely, being “the one who’s always on top of things” looks really good.

    20. saf*

      All the other advice is fabulous. Let me add – watch how the place runs carefully, and choose wisely who you make work friends with. You don’t want to get roped into the group of complainers or mean folk.

    21. TechWorker*

      Good Luck!

      Lots of good advice here already but adding another voice to the ‘don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions’ – it’s better than guessing wrong or spending lots of unnecessary time on something :)

      Another thing I’d say in addition to keeping notes, is if you’re having a problem or struggling with something, tell whoever you’re working with what you’ve already tried. (It’s frustrating sometimes to try to help someone and them be like ‘yep I already tried that’ ‘yep and that’ – give me all the info from the start and I can help quicker!)

      Finally – depends on what you’re trying to do obviously – but don’t be afraid to use google! Sometimes newbies can get so caught up in things being company specific or non-standard they ask standard questions that would get an answer from the first page of google (‘how do I do x in outlook’, ‘what does standard term mean’). That’s not to say google is perfect and you may well still want clarification (or for recommendations on how to do something, say) but it’ll stand you in good stead to make some effort to find out yourself first!

    22. Katniss Evergreen*

      I’m so glad you found this resource while you were in school! I wish I’d known about AAM at that point in my life (would have saved me from a couple of stupid interview mistakes and writing truly bad cover letters, as well as given me a better starting point). If you’ve been reading AAM for a long time, you’ve likely done your due diligence on this organization, and knew to look for red/pink flags then. Those are the things to worry about with a first professional job – it’s really easy to get screwed when you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to advocate for yourself.

      You don’t need to worry about being the office newbie. Like others have said above – you got the job, and they know who they hired. I told my new coworker this same thing – they know you’re new, and you were hired for a reason!

      Some tips:
      *Never use the phrase “big girl job.” Watch out for the kinds of communication slips Alison’s talked about – regardless of your intent, it can make you seem less mature to your colleagues, and some people can doubt the quality of your work product/judgment if they hear lots of “umm”s and “like”s.
      *Observe your colleagues’ communication styles to pick up on how they email/speak to each other, and how your boss/higher level colleagues like to receive information. As an example – it took me forever to learn to condense my emails to what’s necessary for certain audiences. I like to have loads of info and background – some of my colleagues like this too, but others are too busy or aren’t in positions where it’s necessary; my boss’s boss wants the straight answer with no fluff, and exactly what he asks for as quickly and as accurately as we can deliver it.
      *If you have loads of questions, they expect that! Just try to make sure you’re raising them with colleagues and your boss when they have time to get into it – batch things together in emails or write down questions to go through in meetings or training sessions.
      *Notes notes notes! In trainings, in meetings, when you come across or overhear things you want to look up for yourself later. If you communicate with a lot of people by phone, takes notes on the calls with the dates – depending on the job this can seriously come in handy!
      *Follow-up on calls with an email summarizing what was discussed where decisions were made or important items discussed that pertain to high priority items, or if many people are involved but some weren’t on your call. There are lots of reasons to do this – avoiding misunderstandings, giving people an opportunity to correct you if needed, and CYA in case of a bad coworker or vendor problem.

    23. Artemesia*

      The most important thing to do the first month on a job is shut up and watch. Take notes on the training, of course ask clarifying questions, and seek feedback early — like if you are doing some sort of routine work, the first few times you do the TPS reports or whatever the routine work is go over your product with the person training you or your boss. Focus is on ‘I am new at this and want to make sure I am doing it the way you want’ — then do it and work on speed.

      Notice who seems to have informal influence or power — who does the boss listen to. What are the norms of the office. don’t ally yourself with someone who seeks to ‘win you over to their side’. Sometimes, the office trouble maker latches on to the newby and tries to line them up. So be open and friendly to people but don’t become ‘buddies’ with anyone right away till you understand the social dynamic of the office.

      Once you have observed for awhile you can sense what kinds of contributions are welcome and what kinds you might be equipped to make.

  12. Conflicted Anon*

    Sort of an opened ended question here, but I work for a government ministry (not in the US) where we are being told to return to the work place by the end of July. During a kind of FAQ meeting last week the executive level employee presenting admitted that if someone in the office tested positive none of the other staff on the floor or in the building (or even the people who sit around them) would be informed, and if you test positive you don’t have to tell your manager either, just let them know you need to quarantine for two weeks. The justification is that since everyone in the office will be following proper social distancing measures there is no actual need to alert others to get tested, which is… flimsy at best.

    I’ve already emailed our union regarding this, but my question is should I also maybe send a tip to the media? Is this something you would want to know your elected officials are doing? Our case numbers are relatively low in our jurisdiction, but they aren’t zero.

    1. nep*

      I like the idea of sending a tip to the media. Meat-producing plants in the US apparently tried to hide a lot, and this appears to have led to many infections.
      My 2 cents.
      May you stay healthy.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I also like this idea. These people are going to get you guys very sick.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*


      If union usually replies promptly, might be worth waiting for their guidance…. but wow. That’s ridiculously bad.

      1. another scientist*

        agreed. This is exactly what a union is for. And building public pressure might be one of their tools. I’d very much hope that they can help with this.

    3. Mazzy*

      I’m not actually sure the media would be helpful, because they seem to have a very liberal self-isolation rule. The media isn’t going to run with a story about horrible big company that let’s people isolate for two weeks without proof of needing it. What about the social distancing measures. Are they real, or is it lip service? I’m asking because I used to temp at a place where people had huge offices with doors, and if they issued a statement mentioning social distancing, I’d totally be in agreement. I guess my point is, if you’re going to go to the media, you need to make sure it’s something they can actually use. For example, an open cubicle farm but memo citing social distancing you can’t actually do.

      1. Observer*

        What they will run with is refusing to give people information about who around them has been infected. That’s actionable information because even with good social distancing, the risk is real.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. I work for the government in an EU country, and we’re no longer mandated to WFH, although there’s still a strong recommendation to do so if we can. If someone tests positive, we won’t be informed directly who it is, although they’ll do some sort of contact tracing. How, exactly, I’m not quite sure. We do have electronic tags they can use to keep track of which section of the building we’re in, because there are electronic locks on the doors. So if someone tests positive on the 5th floor of the West wing, it won’t affect people on the 3rd floor in the East wing, for example. Those in the same wing and floor won’t be allowed to return to the office for two weeks. Most people in my office have jobs that can be done just as well from home, but there are a few who can’t WFH.

    4. Dutch person*

      Are you in the EU, where GDPR applies? In that case, this is likely a privacy issue – I know that, for example, employers weren’t initially allowed to do temperature checks here in the Netherlands (although some still did) because it’s a medical examination, and then that decision was reversed – now employers are allowed to do take the employee’s temperature, but they need to do it in such a way that the medical information of the employee isn’t compromised – for example, ‘everyone who is below 38 degrees goes through the left door and everyone with fever goes through the right door’ would be considered a violation of privacy.
      Similarly, if you test positive, no one is allowed to share that you have coronavirus – you’re just ‘out sick’, no further comment. However, your workplace would be contacted by county public health about having been in contact with a corona-positive person.

      Your situation doesn’t read Dutch to me, but it sounds like it could be another GDPR country (that is adhering more to the GDPR than to public health measures, honestly.. but, eh.)

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, you’re going to have two problems. One is the actual coronavirus outbreaks, because sitting six feet apart is not a magic talisman – if you’ve got people sitting in a shared office space all day, and one of them is pre-symptomatic, they’re very likely to pass it on. And those people are going to pass it on to others, because no-one’s told them they’ve had a high risk exposure. The second is that people are going to assume that anytime someone is out for a couple of days, they’re sick with coronavirus, and panic.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. Privacy is all very well and normally I’m very privacy-minded. I just think it’s too soon for most people to start returning to the office. The return should be staggered so that those who can’t focus properly WFH can come to the office, while the rest stay at home for the time being.

  13. Anonymous at a University*

    I have a colleague who I’m fairly sure is dropping hints about being tired of being in the department chair position. (“Fairly sure” because when I asked her directly, she denied it, but she’s continued to constantly mention how busy and exhausting and time-consuming the position is and that she wishes it was for less than two years). However, she’s only been there for one year and literally can’t give it to someone else bar a deep catastrophe that leaves her unable to perform the duties until the second year is up. She also gets a several-thousand-dollar-a-year stipend for it, and she’s always talking about being financially strapped, so I don’t think she’d want to give that up before its time. I would bet high amounts of money of my own that she’s dropping these hints because she’d like other people to volunteer to help her with some of the duties while she keeps the stipend.

    I’m just going to keep acting oblivious if this is what it is. She can ask outright if she wants that.

    1. bleh*

      Does she get releases (from teaching) as well? Chairing a dept is hard, but you are usually compensated for it as you mention. (Usually – there are all kinds of creative ways Unis are finding to get this work for free. Blarg) Yeah, ignore. She can give a release or summer salary to someone, name them associate or assistant chair and delegate. Otherwise, she can step down and give back the $

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        No course release; you get either a course release or the stipend, not both, but you can pick. She chose the stipend.

        And chairing a department is actually less work around here than it would be some other places, because while technically we have independent departments, in reality our departments are organized into larger “units” and all the department chairs report to the unit head. So, for example, the Biology Department functions more as part of the Natural and Physical Sciences Unit than it does as a Biology Department. Department chairs have to organize a meeting of department members at least once a semester, work with the unit head on things like scheduling courses, attend meetings with other department chairs once and sometimes twice a semester, and help people in their department with scheduling or other conflicts as necessary. Any administrative work is handled by the unit head, including administrative teaching observations, decisions about violations of the faculty handbook, grievance procedures, etc. She definitely does have more work than me, but I’m rolling my eyes at the “Poor woe is me” tone.

    2. Sara without an H*

      You know, there’s really no requirement that you pick up on hints. You can leave them right where they fall flat.

      Do not volunteer for anything. After 35 years in higher ed, I’ve learned that if you volunteer to do something once, it will be your responsibility forever after.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        Oh, I didn’t intend to volunteer to take over her work! Especially since sharing the stipend is out of the question and a lot of the work was removed from her shoulders in the second half of the semester because of the pandemic, anyway. I just want her to give me the courtesy of actually asking outright if she’s going to than the virtual equivalent of long, loud sighs.

    3. another scientist*

      Some people just routinely complain about their situation. I want to say that over the years I have gotten better at detecting those that just complain without attempting to fix their situation. Which helps to stop my helpful urges.

      1. Green Goose*

        So true! When I first started working, there were so many people that complained all the time that I was shocked when my close work friend (who complained a lot) quit and found something better. I was so used to empty complaining that I forgot that some people will actually fix their situation when they don’t like it.

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

      I would bet high amounts of money of my own that she’s dropping these hints because she’d like other people to volunteer to help her with some of the duties while she keeps the stipend.

      For what it’s worth that was the feeling I had too, when I started to read your post (and before reading that part, obviously!) The only other obvious possibility I can think of is that she’s just the “complaining” type that always seems to be so busy and over-committed (is she? actually?) … I’ve met a lot of that type too (One in my semi-immediate “circle” of work people, and I find him very frustrating to deal with on account of that!)

      I suggest this as a possibility mainly because you said she’s also “always talking about being financially strapped” which isn’t really something you all could do anything about… so maybe that is another thing she’s complaining about and not really a ‘hint’ as such? (I mean, it could be! Just throwing out another possibility!)

      … Why is it that she “can’t give it to someone else bar a deep catastrophe”? It’s probably something specific to academia which is way outside my field.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        Yeah, she does complain a lot, so maybe this is just another iteration of that! She also tends to say things like “I should get paid more than other people because I have more student debt,” when a) that makes no sense and b) a lot of other people we work with don’t talk about their debts as she freely as she does, so she can’t be sure of that. But there have been times in the past when she would say that everyone needs to contribute to some sort of project or commitment and then hand over the whole thing to someone else and drop out, so I think the idea that she just wants someone to take over the work has merit, too.

        That rule of two years minimum is in place because of a stupid administrative rule that the department chair stipend is given in a lump sum right at the very beginning of the department head’s yearly turn instead of paid out through the paychecks as most others are. So they had a pattern of people who would take the department chair position, take the stipend, “serve” for one month, and then declare they were stepping down because they were “busy” and someone else had to take over who would, of course, go unpaid for that year. The Dean’s office that pays out the stipend isn’t willing to change the rule about the lump sum or maybe can’t without dealing with university bureaucracy, so they instituted the two-year-minimum rule instead. Obviously if my colleague got really sick or had a life catastrophe happen, they would let her pass the position on, but just deciding in the middle of your term that you want to be paid but don’t want to do it anymore is a no-no now.

        1. Paulina*

          That sounds like a poor arrangement, and even worse behaviour by your chair. I definitely wouldn’t pick up on any hints, and would be very careful about any extra duties even if she did ask. It’s possible that there’s more work than you can see, especially if the pandemic has meant more admin meetings and working out options for upcoming terms, but there’s still no reason for you to throw yourself on her work.

  14. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

    Can anyone offer insight into getting a job that has management responsibilities when you have very little? I have supervised interns, trained graduate assistants, supervised the work of lower level employees who were working on projects I was leading (but who were not my direct reports), and done initial employment screenings but ultimately was not the decider for whether someone got the job (though my input was important). I am interviewing for a position in the field in which I’ve worked for a long time and it carries significant managerial components. My experience is limited by two things: 1) geography: my field is concentrated largely in NYC and DC and though I lived in DC when I started in the field, I haven’t in over a decade and it’s much harder to get a job in the field when you’re not in those areas. Basically, I’ve taken what I can get. And 2) when positions in management came up in my old organization I opted to stay in my job, where I felt I had a greater impact in the actual work than if the main part of my job description was supervising how well someone else was doing theirs (middle managers in that organization had very few independent projects they worked on). I still keep in contact with people who have done work for me (to the point of being asked to provide references instead of them asking the person who supervised them) and have always had a good rapport with people I have trained, but I’m struggling how to communicate that my policy analysis and other very relevant experience overrides my lack of experience in a job where management experience is also very relevant.

    1. fposte*

      I think whether your policy experience compensates for a lack of management experience is the call of the prospective employer; you’re not going to have the in-depth knowledge of the position to say if it really does compensate. Otherwise it sounds like you’re thinking about things the right way–make the most of the manager-type leadership you have had and absolutely crush it on the policy credentials.

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        Thanks; that’s what I’ve been thinking, too. FWIW, my boss was the one who sent me the listing (my current position is a grant funded and ends at the end of the month, so she’s actively trying to help me find something else), so I feel like as someone who knows my work that’s a nice indication that she thinks I’d be good at it.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Hmmm.. You have pieces of people management, so it’s not a huge jump. Rather than focusing on how your official job duties relate to people management, focus on your team leadership, supervision and training, etc. and how these additional areas have prepared you to take on direct people management.

      In terms of what to apply for, I would look at roles where you would be directly managing a small team (ie. up to 3 people) – that’s totally doable from where you’re at now. Larger teams with multiple levels is not the ideal thing to reach for yet – doing so would kind of imply you don’t know what is involved in that level of management.

      Think about situations where you have had to provide direction to people and about how you have had to bring leadership (which is different from management) to situations where you did not have hiring/firing/disciplinary authority. Arguably, this is HARDER than management, because you have to get things done through people, but can’t control what they do or how they respond. How did you motivate your project teams? How did you deal with issues when people weren’t performing? (eg. maybe you did have to go to their manager in the end, but what did you do before that to motivate the person and get them on side?)

      Have a good answer to questions about why you didn’t move into management in your old organization – do mention that you were tapped a couple of times for promotion, but at that time preferred to stay in an individual contributor role because of the impact you were having and the learning you were getting in the discipline. Be careful to show that you were progressing in other directions, rather than that you were just comfortable, kwim? Also show how you provided leadership within those roles to colleagues, clients, etc.

      Also, develop examples of how you have helped more junior colleagues grow/progress, and how you have mentored people. Perhaps even have someone as a reference who you helped to progress in their career, who would credit you for that growth they have achieved.

      Hope that helps – all the best.

  15. Other Depts*

    I wanted to know what is the best procedure if I received requests from other company departments.

    I worked with a manager that is the head of my department. Sometimes our department need to work with other departments on some tasks. I will always follow the procedures my manager gives me. Sometimes there are staff members from other departments who made suggests (usually it is something for their own convenience) and said maybe I should consider it or talk with it to my manager. Most of the time their suggestions are not breaking any company rules and are not too hard to do, but they deviate a little from the usual procedures my manager gives. So sometimes I am not sure if I should tell my manager about it. And I am not sure how to respond to the other department employees if they made the suggestions.

    I worry that if I tell my manager about it, I will sound annoying. What if my manager just what me to “just not care about their suggestions”? Not sure if she is open to hearing other department’s opinions about our department procedures.

    Yet at the same time I am not sure if my manager is open to a small modification to our procedures. So if the other department makes the suggestions again, would I just say “I’ll look into it”? Do I ask my manager about all the suggestions the other departments are saying?

    1. Colette*

      Are they good suggestions? I.e. do they improve the process for everyone? Those ones I’d take to my manager and suggest we implement.

      If they would cause problems on your end, it’s OK to say that. “Sorry, I don’t think that would work on our end.”

    2. Esme*

      Why don’t you ask your manager how to handle these situations in general? Do they want you to bring things to them, etc.

      I expect they would ideally want to see some critical thinking and context on your part – eg you might mention the pros and cons, and whether you’d recommend doing whatever it is. And you should only ask about suggestions you think are worth considering.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. There is nothing wrong with asking your boss how much wiggle room you are allowed. What things are carved in stone and what things can you tweak to satisfy a request.
        You might consider bringing her examples of the requests you are getting. Choose a variety of questions so you get a real feel how much in under you control and how much is not. I’d suggest bring at least three examples.

        This is actually a pretty normal question. I have asked at many of my jobs, “Where do I decide and where do I call the boss?”. Because, no these boundaries are not always clear. And in some fields a little tweak changes everything.

  16. PurpleCat*

    I work as a civilian contractor on a military base. I’m in an area of the country where masks were never mandatory and most people don’t believe covid is a legit threat. When customers aren’t around, most workers don’t wear their masks or maintain 6′ distance. I live with vulnerable people and I’m afraid of bringing Covid home with me. I have called the post clinic several times and they eventually told me to make an ICE complaint. However, the ICE form has in big, bold letters not to use it for Covid complaints but to use the alternatives provided for Covid. I called the Covid hotline and they told me they were for educating people and couldn’t respond to any complaints. I haven’t been able to find any other reporting websites or hotlines for Covid.

    The other issue is that if the ICE complaint is passed on to my company, they’ll know who sent it. I’m the only person who has made complaints to my supervisors (who are also not following proper procedures) about others not following safety protocols – and all that’s happened is people leave their masks off until they see me, then take them off when I leave. Often not even that. I’ve had my hours cut in retaliation before and I can’t afford to go through that again.

    Also, am I required to go through all the steps in my “command chain” even if I know they won’t do anything? My boss was the first one to stop wearing a mask and the next rank is the vice president of the company. I have spoken to my supervisor’s supervisor twice, but nothing has happened except people are told to wear their mask when assigned to work with me. I haven’t contacted HR because it’s one guy and he’s been basically useless in the past, just punting things back to my boss.

    Can anyone tell me where to report this or how to protect myself if I go through ICE?

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t answer your questions but if masks aren’t mandatory and no one, from the boss to the coworkers, cares about wearing them, this isn’t a battle you’ll win.

      1. PurpleCat*

        Masks are required on base when 6′ distance cannot be maintained. Sorry, I thought I had mentioned this in my post, but somehow I forgot to put it in. On top of that, a General Order was put out that says masks are required in all buildings on base, but has some weird language that is being interpreted as a loophole, even though I don’t think it was meant to apply to my workplace, which is very open. We are definitely required to wear a mask within 6′ of others, but that is regularly ignored. Rooms have posted limits on how many people can be in them without a mask and people are exceeding them constantly. The person who took our temperatures today (from 2′ away) didn’t wear a mask for it even though they’re one of the people responsible for making sure contractors follow policy.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      State Department of Health? CDC? Surgeon General?
      I’m sorry as this is a federal job and… well, we see the mentality of who’s in charge there. Seems it’s more than economics that trickle down.

      You’re state department of health might not intervene in this case. Sadly, WellRed is probably right in that it’s not something you can win. All you can do is strip/disinfect when you come home and continue wearing your mask for you and your own.

    3. Alabama Has Given Up*

      I think you are in one of those work situations where the company is doing something unethical, but it’s not illegal, so not a lot you can do. Because masks are not required, there is nothing to report. The CDC guidelines are what people should do, not what they are required to do. If the company itself officially requires masks, then you would go to HR – but you already say that is a non-starter. The best thing for you to do is to protect yourself. Making sure people wear masks around you is a good start. Maintaining distance is even better. Have you looked into a face shield? My husband is a university professor – professors tend to skew old, so the university is looking at the best way to protect those faculty that want to return to the classroom. According to the university’s “back to class” committee, face shields appear to provide more protection for the wearer than masks do. A lot of research still needs to be done, but something you might consider. Good luck. We’re all trying to figure this out together (well, those of us who care about others are, anyway)

      1. Natalie*

        Minimizing the amount of time you spend in other people’s airspace should also help – most contact tracing looks for 10-15 minutes minimum, so maybe use that as a guide?

      2. PurpleCat*

        Masks are required on base when 6′ distance cannot be maintained. Sorry, I thought I had mentioned that in my post, but somehow I forgot to put it in. On top of that, a General Order was put out that says masks are required in all buildings on base, but has some weird language that is being interpreted as a loophole, even though I don’t think it was meant to apply to my workplace, which is very open (we work close to each other, but not a lot of enclosed offices). We are definitely required to wear a mask when within 6′ of others, but that is regularly ignored. The person who took our temperatures today (from 2′ away) didn’t wear a mask for it even though they’re one of the people responsible for making sure contractors follow policy. Rooms have posted limits on how many people can be in them without a mask and people are exceeding them constantly.

        1. Adrienne Oliver*

          You could try filing a complaint with the Garrison Inspector General or first going to the Garrison Commander. That being said, you will not remain anonymous. That’s the reality. And I’m pretty sure that it will not end well for you. Your choices are to file a complaint and potentially get fired, do nothing but look for another job, or just quit. As a contractor you have pretty much no protection. I’m a federal employee, by the way.

  17. Should be grateful (?)*

    With COVID19, my job has taken a really bad turn. I was trained and want a career as an architect / planner, so I joined my local government parks and recreation department. Which is cool and all… until COVID19, when higher ups decided all officers should instead be roped in to monitor people’s activity – make sure they wear a mask, don’t have huge gatherings, all that jazz. My job went from planning spaces in the peace of an office to being yelled at by angry park goers and living in constant fear of becoming viral because I took a breather in the corner of the park and had a drink of water.
    Just today a person threatened me in the park, saying he has taken a video of me not doing my job when I gave gentle reminders for other people to wear facemasks. In his eyes I should have hit all of the people with penalties and punishment. Now I am tired from the day, worried my face will go viral on social media AND angry I am put in the position to begin with.
    I didn’t train for or want to become the COVID19 police, but my entire department is being roped into this, so it’s not like I can request a different job.
    Sigh, not really a question, just a sad vent of current affairs. I guess unlike a lot of people, I at least have a job, so I shouldn’t complain.

    Just wish it would just end already.

    1. Sara without an H*

      So sorry! This epidemic is bringing out both the best and worst of people. Unfortunately, your position exposes you to some of the worst. I’m sorry that I have nothing to offer you but sympathy.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      I’m supposed to remind guests to wear masks – we all are.

      Or were, since too many people don’t wear them. It’s hot, I get it, but this is an attraction. This isn’t a city park.

      I have HUGE sunglasses and a huge mask and no face while at work. It’s the only way.

    3. Mazzy*

      What is the general vibe of your team? Did your boss just have you reassigned as a favor so you stay employed, but not actually expect you to act like the mask police? Or are they watching and actually expecting you to do it? If the latter, did they offer training on how to handle difficult or mentally ill people?

      Also, why are you being yelled at by park goers? Is that just an outlying event? I think you’re concerns of going viral are overblown, if that helps. Even if someone films you, the vast majority of the time, it will just be added to a cringe compilation, and 50% of the time, it’s the person who films that looks stupid. In your case, if you say “I’m doing my job” if they film you, and they keep asking questions and trying to stir the pot, you look good, and they look bad.

      And I’m confused by which group is giving you the most problems. If it’s people who don’t wear masks, tell them to, if it’s part of their job, but if they refuse, I think that’s beyond your control. If someone wants you to crack down on strangers not wearing masks, say it is not part of your job, and if they are concerned, just to avoid those people. I think you’re taking on too much of a burden with this. You don’t need to do this 100% perfectly. If your boss eventually calls you out, just lay out the reality for them them and tell them how people respond to you and remind them that you don’t have true authority to enforce any of this, and it’s not really your job.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Unless you’re bullying park goers, uttering racist statements, blatantly violating your manager’s orders, or sleeping on the job, I would not worry about some random person threatening to post a video to social media. They would be posting the most boring video of all time (“park employee gently remonstrates with park goers to wear face masks” is not at all exciting) , and anyone looking would wonder what the heck was wrong with the poster. The social media threat is just to make you react and lose your cool – THAT is what the person wants to post.

      If the person does post and it turns out that the public expects a harder line drawn with park goers, then management will have to call in the actual police. It’s not your job to issue tickets.

      It is awful that you have to do this work vs the work you were hired to do. Hopefully your management will realize this is a waste of resources soon, and they redeploy you back to your regular job.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      You can absolutely complain because this sucks. I’m sorry – is there any way you can transfer to another department until this is over? Like maybe to your transportation department to do planning? This may be an ignorant question since I have no idea how transfers between departments work in city government, and other departments may be furloughed, but if there’s any possible alternative where you can stay employed but in a slightly different capacity, I’d look into it.

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

      I can almost feel your annoyance and frustration coming off the screen!
      It sounds like you probably won’t be able to do anything about it, if this is some kind of mandate from “upper echelons” of local government (or whatever the terminology is) although as someone above suggested, if you have a union it may be useful to talk to them.
      Here’s a possible positive you can take from it, although I expect you won’t see it this way currently. This situation will have given you many examples and ‘scenarios’ you can draw on in future interviews and so on.
      Have you been given any tentative end date for this re-assignment? I think if you can get something (even with the acknowledgement that things can change depending on the situation) relatively concrete, it may be a little easier to deal with once you have a known ‘exit’ date from this when you can go back to your actual job!

    7. Lindsay*

      I work for a parks and rec department and the work I did was not possible during the lockdown, so we had to police people for social distancing and keeping dogs on a leash, so I can relate to your situation. I hated it too so I can relate. I wouldn’t worry about the guy yelling at you/filming you – you have to drink water. You’re allowed to remove a mask if no one is near you – that person sucks.

  18. Sara without an H*

    I work in higher education and our administration wants to go back to full-time, face-to-face teaching in August. There are committees working on various plans for health and safety, but I’m not optimistic about getting college students to comply with social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. Infection rates are not bad in my local area, but that will undoubtedly change as soon as cold weather drives people indoors to cough on each other. My age and medical history put me in the high-risk-of-bad-consequences category with regard to COVID-19.

    I’ve also talked with my financial rep and I am, apparently, able to retire whenever I want to. (Yes, I know — I’ve been incredibly lucky.) So I’m thinking seriously of telling my administrators that I plan to hang it up at the end of December. While there are things I’d still like to accomplish, I could work until I’m 100 and still have things on my to do list. Mostly I’m concerned about my team; they are excellent and I’d really be sorry to leave them.

    So I’m throwing this out to any of the older members of the AAM commentariat: Has the recent epidemic changed your thoughts about your retirement schedule? If so, how did you approach the issue with your organization? I’d be glad of any advice or suggestions.

    1. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I’m already retired, and was self-employed anyway, so no advice there.

      But a question: if you are high-risk and can retire whenever you want, why would you expose yourself to the face-to-face teaching from Aug-Dec. If I were in your position, my retirement papers would already be on the appropriate administrator’s desk.

      Good luck

    2. memyselfandi*

      My colleagues, relatives and friends at universities are having the same committee meetings, but most have said they do not think any academic institution will make it until Thanksgiving without an outbreak and having to shut down. I know one person who has managed to get all courses as distance learning so they can stay home. Can you move to an emeritus position? Then you can continue working and possibly have your team, but more on your own terms.

    3. fposte*

      I was already aiming for it next year, and nothing about this year makes me want to go longer. I think WWW has a point about going in August; there’s still plenty of time to get an adjunct for your fall courses. Given the budget crisis hitting higher ed, it’s quite likely they’ll be relieved to get you off the payroll, no matter how much they’ll personally miss you. There are institutions rolling out early retirement enticements for just this reason.

      I would spend some time and effort on thinking about what retirement means to you and what it looks like; not just what you won’t do, but what you will do. That’s a lot of the transition to a successful retirement, and obviously the pandemic means that some of the common options like travel aren’t going to be as attractive. So think about about what you’ll retire to, not just what you’ll retire from.

    4. Ronda*

      I retired when i was laid off a few years ago…. but accidentally got a job when I was looking because I was on unemployment. Then I decide to move out of state right before virus shut downs were happening and job didnt want me to work remotely, so retired again.

      It sounds like you still want to work, but dont want to work in person. Why not talk to them about that and see if you can come up with a working situation that will work for you…. if not, retire.
      I do believe that work is not the most important thing if you have the money you need to live and you shouldnt allow it to compromise your health and happiness.

      Personally I am not really self motivated to do lots of stuff, so I do tend to be rather bored. But work took up so much time that I really couldnt do the few things I was motivated to do. I am happy to not be tied to a job again.
      I was quite nervous the 1st month after my initial layoff. I had been working for 30 years, so it was weird not to. I think I got over that pretty quickly.
      So I also recommend you think about what you would like to do for your retirement and be aware that you will likely have some strong feelings as you adjust to your new reality.

      also 2 weeks notice is enough. I gave my last job 2 months notice and felt like they screwed me over because of it. I do recognize that it is mostly because of poor planning on their part, but I felt like some of the stuff they did was out of line when I had given them lots of notice, so I recommend no favors to the company.

      It still feels weird to not have income coming in and to be taking money out of investment accounts (even tho I know that is why it is there!!)

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Fellow higher ed person here. My institution will be in-person this fall but with serious modifications to the entire campus. Fortunately I WFH full-time. I’m told that staff who want/need to work remotely in the fall will have the option, they just need to initiate the conversation with their supervisors.

      There’s no benefit to giving more than two weeks’ notice. I would really encourage you to communicate your concerns with your supervisor and see what they can do for you. If you’re forced to report to campus, then you can retire.

      This sucks! It’s certainly not the way you want to end your career, but your health and safety should come first.

    6. Another Academic*

      Yes and no. For true financial stability, I need to wait 5 more years. Given Covid and risk factors of being physically on campus, I am considering retiring. We are having salary reductions and there will be an offer of early retirement on the table. I am a person who would rather be working but if I am required to be on campus retirement might be my choice.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I know two people retiring early specifically because of this sort of thing. Hell, we had one person at my org who finally gave in and retired this year and nobody thought she ever would do it because she actually liked working here.

    7. WG*

      Could you retire from your current institution but then do something else for work that’s less risky for a few years? Just because you retire from a current job doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Not knowing exactly what your position is now, are there consulting opportunities you have the expertise to perform – ones that could be done remotely or in less risky environments than a college campus?

      If you can and want to keep working for now, you could defer drawing from your retirement savings right now and save that for later. That could minimize risks to your health while maintaining financial stability for the future.

    8. Paulina*

      I’m in higher ed, not sufficiently close to retirement to be in the situation you’re asking about, but I’ve seen a few colleagues previously delay retirement because of a sense of duty to their unit / colleagues. I do not recommend being one of them. In my observed experience, administration will usually accept people retiring early even if it’s less than the agreed notice period (ours is 6 months), because it gets the financial commitment off the books. It’s not your duty to seriously endanger your health for the sake of your team or its mission.

    9. Cassie*

      I work in higher ed too – usually faculty announce their retirements fairly early (at least a couple of quarters in advance) and there are pre-retirement meetings w/ the benefits people to iron out all the details. This year (around April), the VC for academic personnel emailed faculty that if anyone was interested in retiring effective July 1st, it wasn’t too late. Anyone who had already initiated their retirement for sometime in the upcoming academic year, however, COULD NOT change their plan (unless they wanted to move up the retirement date). From the gist of the email, it looks like they are actively encouraging faculty who are eligible to please retire (not in those exact words).

      For staff (non-teaching employees), “when” people retire is less of an issue because we aren’t paid on an academic year salary basis. I believe you are still encouraged to contact the benefits people relatively early, because of the pre-retirement mtgs and paperwork. We’re likely to be mostly working remotely through December (over 75% of courses will be taught online this Fall), so I will be taking full advantage of that. (Working in my desk space wouldn’t be too bad but commuting via public transport and being around lots of people all day does not sound appealing at all) – the vast majority of my work ~95% can be done remotely anyway).

    10. New Senior Manager*

      I have three friends who have decided now is the best time to retire. One was considering it previously, before covid. He is a professor and the other two are medical doctors in the U.S. I’m glad you have this option and wish you well whatever you decide.

  19. Anonymous Educator*

    When your workplace says it’s working toward more salary transparency and freezing (but not reducing) salaries that are too high while adjusting some too-low salaries, is the idea that they know the current salary distribution is wildly unfair (given experience, achievement, etc.) so making the transparency right now would just make a ton of people super angry, and they’re hoping when the disparities are less egregious, people will be only slightly annoyed and not raging?

    1. Ali G*

      Transparency shouldn’t mean that everyone learns what everyone else is paid. It should mean that there are metrics to evaluate everyone’s role and corresponding salary. The metrics should be developed through an open and transparent process and each employee should see how they are evaluated. Then adjustments are made.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        How would you know the metrics are being applied in the same way to everyone if you can see only how it’s applied to you?

        1. Ali G*

          The metrics and the process for evaluating should be based on quantifiable and objective criteria. At my org, each role has a salary range, and where you fall in it is 100% determined by your tally. Metrics are things like, how many years experience, how many staff you supervise, decision-making authority, etc. You get a numerical rating based on the answer (which can’t really be fudged or left to opinion). Each rating is weighted based on the importance of that metric to your role. You final rating dictates your salary.
          It’s actually a lot more complicated but that’s the quick version.

        2. TechWorker*

          Honestly there is some level of trust involved too. My company does a lot of pay benchmarking against other companies to try to make sure they’re paying well compared to market rate, plus they do regular ‘checks’ that there’s the average pay at each grade is the same regardless of gender/race. (If it’s not, I believe everyone in the group losing out would get a small bump to make the averages the same, though I don’t know how often that actually happens). With all of that though, you do have to trust the company is doing it fairly/correctly as they’re not gonna publish the entire data set.

    2. Jim Bob*

      How does that work in practice? If the freeze is longer than a year or two, what keeps the people on the high end from jumping ship?

      I guess getting rid of the top-tier workers is one way to flatten salaries, but I doubt it’s the effect they’re going for.

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

      I went through a similar thing at a previous company; in my case I don’t think the words “salary transparency” were emitted as such, but it was part of a coordinated project across all the company’s offices and subsidiaries, acquisitions, etc (about 3000 people) to align job titles and roles to a single scheme with “levels” and “salary bands” for each level. It had gotten out of hand with every local office and department having their own criteria (or none), no standardisation of job titles or responsibilities, etc.

      What came out of it was that I was working as, for example, a “Senior Web Programmer” with salary X. Someone else doing basically the same job, with the same level of responsibility and expertise and so on, at another site that reported to a different subsidiary, was a “.NET Developer” with salary Y, etc. All of this was analysed by a HR project team and codified into a standardised job title for a “developer/programmer/coder” (Similar things happened across the rest of the org as well) e.g. “Back End Developer”, “Front End Developer”, “Full Stack Developer” with level 1-5 of seniority/responsibility, so that I became something like “Front End Developer 4”. Then they applied standard salary bands to each of these roles. Some people went up if they were below the bottom of the band and were given an immediate pay bump; others were found to be “above” their band so put on a salary freeze until it caught up, so to speak.

      I don’t think it’s necessarily that the current salary pattern in your company is “wildly unfair” but I’d characterise it as more “inconsistent” There could be all kinds of reasons for the inconsistency like salaries that have increased over years of service, people hired based on lower than market rate because they didn’t negotiate, etc. I mean, it may be that it is wildly unfair and based on stuff other than experience and achievement, but that depends on your individual office really. And a “re-balancing” of salaries would help with that I suppose.

      Do you have a sense already that salaries currently are “wildly unfair” and that the disparities are “egregious”? If so… I think whatever led to that situation ultimately won’t be fixed by a one-time pay bump for the underpaid people. I ask this because I’m inferring from you describing the future situation as “disparities less egregious” and people being “slightly annoyed vs raging”, so it doesn’t sound like you think the inequality situation will actually be resolved in any concrete way with this.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If they are fixing it there might not be any point to broadcasting the problem as it stands now.

      Just my opinion, but I think that most companies worry about public opinion more than what their employees think. So in answer to your question, they are okay if the public is slightly annoyed but they are trying to avoid raging. That way the public will go pick a company who is in a worse spot.

      Just a general comment, when I have to ask these kinds of questions about my company that kind of telegraphs I am done with the company.

  20. cubone*

    Woke up yesterday to an email from our CEO that the 2 worst employees at the organization have been promoted from our highest level of middle management to the executive team. Their department has a vacancy for senior executive, in market (delayed from COVID). I assume they’ve both been vocal about “leading the department” during this vacancy and deserving a title/pay that reflects this – which in theory, I support, but I’ve never, ever seen anyone as lazy as these 2. Every email, meeting, project is like a sports game where they dodge any attempts to do any work or offer guidance on the work that needs to be done. Just vague “how could we activate this successfully?” and glaring until someone else makes suggestions, followed by “great, so you’ll get that done by Friday then!”. I’m summarizing, but truly, endless work dodging, absolute inability to manage people, and general rudeness/cruelty to others.

    it’s SO bizarre and out of line with our workplace culture (which is very collaborative and while we have some symptoms of hierarchy and nonprofit issues, every other member of our executive team has, in my experience, been incredibly kind, passionate and very hard working). EVERYONE I know expected both of these people to be fired at some point and these promotions are…. well frankly, devastating. Several colleagues I’m close with have privately expressed absolute shock and dismay, and those I’m close with on their direct team were in tears (and obviously applying for jobs).

    Has anyone had a similar experience? How did it turn out for you? I know all I can do is focus on myself and my own work, but it’s really warped my perception of an organization + job I ADORE. I’m so desperate to understand how people with terrible reputations achieved this but I feel like I have to accept that the world is trash and bad people get promoted. It’s just so out of character for my workplace/our CEO’s past choices.

    Appreciate any insights or just encouragement to keep trying despite this. I’m so disappointed.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I have no insights, just empathy. I’m in the same boat. We got rid of one awful person and promptly replaced them with a worse person and it’s really done a number on morale.

      Covid is like a big shovel that’s turning up some BS that was hidden underground. It’s hard on a lot of us right now. :(

      1. Mazzy*

        Me too. The only dark spots in my career have been overlapping with people like this. At one job, I overlapped with someone who made $80K WFH which was probably worth $100K today, at a company that wasn’t pro-WFH. I really don’t think he did anything. I had no clue how he was there. I got pulled into a “emergency” one night which was basically, he can’t used MS office so I need to teach him how to make charts for a basic presentation. I then took over parts of the “paperwork” for his territory and usually I’d work very closely with his position, but I basically did everything without asking him, because whenever I tried to involve him, it would be like asking a newborn for help. It was so infuriating.

        At my current job I overlap with someone who’s a bit entitled and just limited, but he wants to accolades of someone who works really hard and has accomplished something. He wants to be the world’s most interesting man, but he doesn’t do anything to warrant it. He just is there, and reads the news, and goes to meetings, and occasionally sends a one sentence email that is like “information will be given” or “this is in the works,” it’s never “I will get X done by Friday.” If he ever gets promoted when his boss retires, I will raise hell and ask to be paid more than him, or quit. Sound ridiculous? Well, when you keep someone on for years in a highly paid job doing very little, and everyone sees it, it makes for weird dynamics.

        1. The Beagle has Landed*

          Municipal government here, we had the same thing for years. I am grateful for voluntary retirement packages that were taken by some of the laziest of the group, who had skated by for years on seniority alone, while those of us earning half or one-third of their paychecks did all their work as well as our own. So sorry to hear you are dealing with this, especially now. The public sector is notorious for promoting for reasons other than merit. I can only say, watch the promotional openings like a hawk and apply for anything you meet qualifications for while also keeping your eyes open for opportunities in your field. I am still waiting for my ship to come in but am confident that some day it will, as will yours.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Sounds like that theory of promoting the worst employees to get them out of the way and keep things running smoothly.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      Unfortunately, this happens everywhere. Be it connections, brown nosing, friends/related to someone, etc., horrible people often do extremely well and suffer no bad consequences. You may want to list pros and cons of your job and then decide to start looking elsewhere if you feel like it. Good luck to you!

    4. TechWorker*

      I don’t work with them enough to say whether they’re actually work-dodging but I’ve certainly encountered the breed of middle manager who seems to mostly get angry at people and say things like ‘this isn’t good enough, we need a solution!!!’ in meetings but without offering any suggestions or guidance.

      To be fair – some of these people *are* effective so I try to console myself by thinking that they must do other stuff that I’m not seeing. Not sure if that helps once you’re convinced they’re awful.

    5. Anonnington*

      It always seems to happen. But then I move on to better things. And when/if I hear of those people again, they’re usually still in the same job they were promoted to.

      In other words, keep moving your career forward. That doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your current job. But if you plan on staying, get something good going on the side. Something that will help your career. This could be anything from a volunteer gig to a creative project to a blog to some part-time teaching/mentoring. Keep adding more to your list of accomplishments so what’s going on at this job doesn’t seem as important. Then, at the right time, move on to something much better.

  21. G. Lefoux*

    Any contact tracers in the community? Would love to hear what you like and dislike about it, what was unexpected, how the pay is, and if you think I would be qualified.

    I’ve been trying to find a remote position that looks like something I’m actually qualified for (job history is all in-person customer service and theatre work) and would enjoy, and stumbled across a remote full-time contact tracer position. I’m someone who’s really motivated by feeling like their work is making a positive difference, so this seemed great! From the job description it seems like the qualifications are phone/internet literacy and quiet private area to call people, ability to be empathetic in difficult conversations over the phone, and ability to stick to a script and not give out unapproved information. I’ve never worked remotely or in a primarily phone-based position before, but I do think I have transferable skills: I’ve conducted many phone screenings and reference checks, often with people who were very nervous or hesitant and had to be set at ease; I’ve had empathetic conversations, both in person and on the phone, with customers and employees about difficult issues like customers’ children assaulting each other, encountering racism in the workplace, and resolving conflicts. But I’m not sure if I have enough information to say for sure that these would be transferable skills.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Not an expert by any means, but from what you said about the job and the work you’ve done, your skills sound like they’d be a good fit for contact tracing.

    2. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      I have an MPH and currently work as a qualitative researcher. Based on my experience and what I know about contact tracing, I think you definitely have the experience and skills needed to do it successfully. There are also some training courses out there that could be helpful for preparation if you have time or if there isn’t a lot by way of training in the program you sign up for (this really seems dependent upon the resources available to the people facilitating the program). These are two mentioned in a recent New Yorker article on contact tracing:
      Good luck!!

  22. Square Root of Minus One*

    Hi everyone,
    If you manage a team, I’m interested in how you would balance your reports’ autonomy and personal development versus raw efficiency if one got in the way of the other?

    I work in a lab. One of my team’s functions is the legal classification of, say, teapots, according to a long convoluted legal text. I’m one of three assistant managers, and the one specializing in this particular function, my peers having other areas of expertise. When we receive a teapot for classification, part of my job is to field the lab work that has to be done on the teapot, so analysts do all the necessary tests and only them.
    However, my manager, the department head, doesn’t want me to write detailed analysis programs. Nor checklist forms for the most common cases. Loose guidelines at most. She says the analysts need to figure it out and she doesn’t want them to become “mindless box checking-drones” (as she said, translation aside).
    While I approve of the intention, I also have to notice that very often unnecessary assays are performed and/or necessary results are missing. I’m catching up on a lot of things and losing a measurable amount of time. Not enough for me to drop the rope, since last year, I still beat my performance objectives by a comfortable margin, so it might fly under the radar for higher-ups.
    Besides that, I’d also bet money that not all our analysts like this approach. The most senior (and also most vehement) of them clearly does, but I’m guessing at least two others are uncomfortable with the absence of a clear outline. I explain a lot, but the reasoning needs practice, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to go all “Socratic method” on them, nor are they willing to be on the receiving end of it (remember that letter? I’ll link it downthread), but I wonder if that’s what my manager expects sometimes.

    I’m not interested in contesting my manager’s stance for now, that’s not my point. But I might be in a role similar to hers in the future, and I’m interested about what other managers would do.
    So I’d be very thankful if you would share away :)

    1. Sutemi*

      There is research that shows that checklists, instead of making people act dumber, actually can make systems work much better because people don’t have to think about the same details repeatedly. This is why pilots use them, and they have been integrated into many aspects of health care. I like checklists so I can think about important things rather than the same little things over and over!

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        That’s interesting! I didn’t know that, but that would explain a lot. I drafted my post about two weeks ago but just yesterday, one of my analysts had a brain fart (for lack of a better word) on a super common kind of teapot she’s done 100 times in three years. This part of the legal text has a trick with a double negative and I don’t know, this time she got it backwards.
        I’ll look that research up, thank you :)

        1. Ladyb*

          The Checklist Manifesto by Atol Gawande is a good read about the application of checklists in medicine

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve always loved checklists. The structure they provide allows for greater flexibility when needed. Think of it as a recipe for soup-you can follow it exactly, but once you become familiar with it you will know when and how you can substitute ingredients depending on the situation.

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

        I like checklists for some tasks but I’ve gotta disagree with you that “The structure they provide allows for greater flexibility when needed” (as a blanket statement) because what I’ve seen overwhelmingly more often in my experience is that once there’s a checklist for something (Given to someone other than the person who created the checklist), and something happens (as it invariably will, of course) that falls outside of that checklist, one of two things will happen:
        1) the people carrying out the checklist will say “bleep bloop does not compute” throw up their hands and escalate it rather than using any initiative.
        2) they will try to fit the situation into the “closest” checklist item and then follow that when it doesn’t actually apply.

        1. Square Root of Minus One*

          Indeed. I believe that is part of what my manager fears.
          And falling outside of the supposed checklist (or list thereof) happens often enough. I could make a checklist for Earl Grey Teapots, a different one for Rooibos teapots, yet another for green mint tea teapots, and so on.
          Covering all cases is impossible, but the 80-20 rule applies, and I’d probably need not-so-many checklists to cover about 80% cases (5 or 6 would be my guess). The rest would still be a blank page.
          (TBH, the ~1% weirdest cases never make it to the analysts. I work on them by myself, if not asking for advice from outside.)

      2. Square Root of Minus One*

        I do like checklists already, so I needn’t be sold on them ;)
        This particular analogy doesn’t really wor for us :( it’s like introducing variations on a mathematical demonstration. Very risky if you don’t really understand the original one.

    3. Ronda*

      check list are a great thing in all kinds of places.

      It also reminds me of the workplace safety person saying that saying people are responsible for safety is going to lead to more accidents.
      you have to put in place “systems” that help people avoid these accidents. A check list would be one of those “systems”

    4. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      If the job has specific requirements, specific checklists are great. That way not only does everyone know everything that’s expected, but also they’re less likely to forget something.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        Gosh, I wish…
        But it’s not “for all teapots, measure handle and weight and analyse ceramic composition”.
        It’s more like a few hundred pages of “if it’s a green tea teapot, nothing to be done ; if Earl Grey, measure height, weight and handle diameter ; if infusion, measure percentage of iron in inner ceramic and, if it’s over 5%, beak inclination ; if other, check if the lid can be removed or not”.
        The only universal requirement is “provide me a classification”, and there are. So. Many. Possible things to do.

    5. Pam*

      Perhaps working with the analysts- what do you need – to develop outlines, checklists, etc., would work

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        I do work with them :) It’s actually a significant part of my typical workday. But doing the work of making checklists individually with the six of them will clearly not be a time-saver compared to doing it once, or even compared to the current situation.

    6. Observer*

      This actually is not an issue of autonomy and judgement vs efficiency. This is a major issue roiling the medical community as people like Atul Gawande are pushing the use of check lists in areas like surgery and pretty much every other procedure.

      The evidence backs them up. And, as Gawande points out, there are plenty of other fields where judgement and even autonomy are crucial where check lists are baked into processes and procedures. The last thing you need if a pilot is “mindless box checking”, but no pilot is starting the plane without going through the checklist.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        Interesting too. I really need to read up on that one :)
        (I’m involved with neither the medical field, nor with planes…)

        1. Observer*

          Neither am I. But I am interested in process automation and you need to understand process before you can even begin to think about automation.

          I listened to one podcast where he talks about the introduction of check lists in aviation and the lives it has saved. The history is really, really interesting. But the point being that check lists are not just for automatons or cookie cutter processes.

          A lot of the discussion is about him pushing back on exactly the kinds of arguments your department head is making.

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

      If you manage a team, I’m interested in how you would balance your reports’ autonomy and personal development versus raw efficiency if one got in the way of the other?

      I’m answering this from the perspective of a team manager (used to be, I’m now an individual contributor as management wasn’t for me, but I learned a lot!)… but without any experience of lab work, tests, etc. (so hopefully can contribute something to your question in a non-industry-specific way, as I don’t think this is specific to labs etc.)

      I think what it boils down to is “how far should I let my people make their own mistakes, and learn by doing, rather than just follow a set of instructions for a specific task and if they have any questions about the instructions then come back to me and ask, rather than try things for themselves”. And that is a 100% industry-agnostic question!

      Mostly I’ve found that unless you are up against a time-limited deadline that “the regulatory submission has to go in by X o’clock on this day” or “we need to recognise revenue for client Y by uploading the new release to them before midnight on day Z” or similar things.. it’s always beneficial in the long run to let people make the mistake and then help them to learn from it so that they’ll know what to do next time.

      I have to admit as a manager I “pushed my reports out of the way” (verbally, obviously) when we did have a genuine “client deliverable has to be uploaded within 15 mins and I’m the only person who can do it” sort of scenario but I did still go through with them afterwards what I’d done and how they could do it in future.

      Ultimately I’d conclude that if you have a genuine “time critical situation” then as the person with knowledge you have no choice but to handle it yourself… but make sure people are able to do that themselves in the future.

      If “necessary results are missing” does that have any negative impact?

      1. Observer*

        Well, if the results are actually necessary, then by definition there is a negative impact.

      2. Square Root of Minus One*

        Thank you for answering. You phrased the question much better than I could! And your take is very instructive.

        Our indicator is more like “X% of the reports this year must be finished within 3 weeks, and no more than Y% recalled (= erroneous)” rather than “this specific one MUST be finished TODAY or HELL breaks LOOSE”, which is rare.
        When I arrived, this full autonomy was the rule for everyone. And we were 20% below the first aim and too high on the second. Give it some guidance, the first indicator jumps 20 points, the second has been divided by 10.

        I teach too. I go over almost every file with the analyst. I teach a LOT, I repeat even more. But letting people make mistakes and pointing them out feels very patronizing to me (ah, also: I’m an assistant manager AND second youngest of a team of ten), and it’s not easy to sustain.
        I’m at the end of my third year doing this and we have six analysts so every teaching is six-fold (say it once in a team meeting = doesn’t stick), and when I wrote I had just seen the two most experienced ones independantly make avoidable, time-consuming errors, and was seeing my most junior one give me incomplete files. I was a little discouraged that some of my reports didn’t respond that well to the teaching, and simply felt more comfortable with a clear outline for every teapot.

        About the negative impact:
        Observer: Actually I think I get Captain’s point. In corporate language, a negative impact, to be named as such, is implied to be significant to whoever qualifies it, so it’s very dependant on who you ask.
        As I said, the impact is significant to me because I spend a lot of time to obtain those results and finish the report before the third week is up ; however, as my performance indicators are in the green, it’s not visible from higher-ups. So it has a negative impact on me, but in practice I seem to absorb it well enough so it doesn’t show.
        I probably wouldn’t have asked, if not for social distanciation forcing WFH. I can’t catch up things in a lab when I WFH, can I?

        1. Sutemi*

          Are you doing any team learning, like case studies or retrospectives of complicated examples? Could you devote an hour a week to going over a few cases from the week, so the team members can learn from each other rather than from you? It doesn’t sound like there is a lot of team based activity here, only 1:1 of you teaching each analyst. Can they work in pairs on difficult cases before coming to you? Is there anyone that can mentor?

          Overall, it sounds like you are spreading yourself out thin trying to meet everyone’s needs, when it might be better for the group to handle more cases together.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Anything that streamlines work is wise, in my opinion. Your manager blows me away because she has just said, “I don’t mind wasting time and payroll while each person re-invents the wheel over and over again.” Many procedures/processes can be streamline, or check-listed, and there is still a lot of room for the person to make decisions, find solutions and so on.

      To me this is weak management. She enjoys watching her people guess or try to read her mind.

      I do have a story. A boss I really respect, started at his department with a group of unhappy, grouchy, okay actually MEAN people. The department was in chaos. He set out procedures for recurring things. He streamlined much of their work. They are still hugely over-worked, but they are much more pleasant to talk with and they are actually able to access the information that is needed. Yes, I am a fan of check lists, SOPs, streamlining, all of this stuff.
      One thing: The people DOING the work need to have inputs on their own check lists, SOPs and other streamlining activities. Let THEM participate in the how these things are created.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        I used to say it like that. But funnily, when you replace “re-invent the wheel” by “learn by themselves”, it doesn’t sound the same anymore…
        Letting people participate is not a problem, really. It’s in the culture.
        At this point, I think I’m going to work on about a half-dozen checklists for my own work, because I actually work best with them, and should any analyst ask for one, give it to them, and improve them over time with their input, all while keeping my boss in the loop. Over time, if it catches on… maybe we can have checklists in the system, for anyone who needs them. :)

    9. Argye*

      As far as I’m concerned, a checklist is a tool. Why would you provide fewer tools to your staff? Yes, there might be a “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” issue, but that’s where autonomy comes in – in the choice of tools to use. You have to trust them that, if the checklist is inappropriate for whatever reason, they know ow to improvise or ask.

  23. Tea-Rex*

    I was excited about an interview I had… And it went so badly. They had scheduled multiple rounds but cancelled them all after I bombed the first one. I could feel the interviewer getting frustrated at my answers. I’ve just never had someone get annoyed with me during an interview. They gave me some really valuable feedback which I will definitely implement. But this whole thing has really done a number on my confidence – I already have pretty bad interview nerves and I worry they’ll think I’m a fraud. That’s kinda what happened, like my worst nightmare coming to life. I would love to hear from people who’ve been in this situation – how do you get your confidence back after a really bad interview?

    1. Sarah*

      Remember everyone has bad interviews! Sometimes you don’t vibe with an employer. Just because a first date with Riley goes badly doesn’t mean that a first date with Sam won’t go well.

      1. The Beagle has Landed*

        This. There was something in the interviewer’s approach that did not mesh with yours, and who knows if this wasn’t a warning sign that working there wouldn’t work out in terms of fit and culture for you. All I can say is get back on the horse, interview again and as soon as possible to get your confidence back!

      2. Tea-Rex*

        Thank you! Reframing it this way helps. Based on the communication style I saw in the interview, I do think I would’ve struggled in this job.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I just think about all the great interviews I’ve had and remember that anyone can have an off day.

    3. Mazzy*

      If someone gets mad at your answers, that’s on them. That means they can’t screen resumes. And unless you are a doctor who applied to be a lawyer, or something equally as egregious, then getting mad at someone for not being exactly what you want is just silly.

    4. Emma*

      I had a somewhat similar experience early in my career and it felt devastating. I had interviews lined up at a few different places, and did not get a job offer from any of them. I was crushed, and it felt world-ending – it would have been my first proper job, and I had expected at least one of these would come through. Given typical timelines for hiring new grads in the industry it was not likely a similar opportunity would come up until the next graduate hiring cycle. I am not sure I realised that I was bombing during the interviews, but the feedback I received was that I seemed to lack confidence and they were not convinced I could succeed.
      I took a stop gap job. The next time I interviewed, I had two interviews (same role as before, but different companies) and I was offered both jobs. I think what changed was that the worst thing I could have imagined had happened (my imagination was limited) and while it was pretty devastating, the world did not end. I think I was less scared because I realised that everything did not depend on those interviews, I would ultimately be fine what ever the outcome.
      I now remember, I also had a bad interview more recently. I was unhappy at work and thinking of changing roles. I was not as well prepared for the interview as I should have been. I thought I looked like an idiot (e.g. forgetting things I should have known) and it was embarrassing. The next time I did an interview, I was much better prepared for the areas I had stumbled in that time – it was actually really useful experience to see what I needed to differently (lots of things, but I could see specific things to work on and practice before the next time I interviewed). Ultimately, I am glad it did not work out, it would not have been the right role – I was trying to escape where I was rather than go somewhere I really wanted to be. I have moved roles since then and I am really happy with where I have ended up.

      1. Tea-Rex*

        Thank you for sharing your stories. My situation is very similar to the second interview you mention: applying while you’re trying to escape your current job. I should’ve been better prepared for the interview, but ultimately I think it’s for the best that I didn’t get this job.

        1. Emma*

          It might be useful (as painful as it is) to make a note for yourself of the types of questions they asked. It could be a really useful reminder the next time you are preparing for an interview of areas that you need to focus on preparing for. In my case, the questions that went badly were apparently permanently seared into my memory, which turned out to be useful the next time I was preparing for an interview.

    5. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      Painful as it might be, can you elaborate on what happened in this interview?

      The only time I’ve been in anything like your situation was many years ago, when the hiring manager became upset because the company recruiters set up the interview with me and completely ignored his requirements. It wasn’t my fault, and I thought it was bad form for him to give me crap about it.

      1. Tea-Rex*

        No, this was mostly on me. I was given very little notice (one weekday’s notice for multiple rounds of interviews, and I’m currently working really long hours) so I was not as well prepared as I should’ve been. I assumed that the interviews wouldn’t require significant technical prep, given that they informed me so close to the date. I was also unwell, but the interviewer had no way of knowing that.
        I don’t think I would’ve been able to answer the questions even if I had been at full health though. It’s a lesson learnt, and I’m glad they took the time to point out what I should improve upon.

    6. valentine*

      What was the feedback? You might want to get second and third opinions, in case it’s bad advice.

      1. Swift*

        At a certain point, I started thinking of all interviews as practice, and that helped a lot. My reasoning was that I can never tell from the outset which interview will be “the one” so on some level they were all practice for the next one. Helped me get a job, honestly!

        I’ve bombed a few interviews, but never had anyone sound frustrated at me. That sounds more like a them problem than a you problem. I have helped with interviews before, and even when I didn’t like the candidate, I didn’t show it to them.

        1. Tea-Rex*

          This is perfect, I’ll work on reframing my mindset this way. Thank you!

          Yes, my field is known for stress interviews. I’ve been through them before. But I’ve never had someone get annoyed with me – it’s usually been calm, even when I was messing up the answers. Ultimately, I got good advice, and I’ll work on that.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I can already tell you are likable and you have something to offer. The reason I feel confident saying this the interviewer took the time to give you inputs. Even if there was annoyance in his voice, you have indicated here that you will use his inputs. To me this says a lot about what was really going on there.

      I once worked with a group of people who had ONE tone of voice: BARKING. I landed on separating the message from the delivery. So I ignored the tone of voice and focused on the words that were said. I found that most of the time the information I had asked for was there or I had gotten the feedback I needed.

      If this does not help enough, picture this person was having The Worst Day Ever. Their favorite relative passed away and they HAD to go to work anyway. So now they are sitting at home saying, “I hope OP forgives me. Gosh, I was such a jerk today.”

      I am more concerned that you are worried they will think you are a fraud. I have to ask, “Do YOU think you are a fraud?” Yes, it matters. Our self confidence comes from inside us. I know I spent a lotta of years looking at others people’s faces as if I was looking at a mirror. I was trying to see how others saw me. I should have been working more on how *I* saw myself. If we try to get our sense of value from someone else they may or may not oblige us. And like in your case here, they can fail us.

      I’d suggest thinking about the times you nailed an interview. I remember my interview for my current job. My boss had been through the ringer. This was wrong, that was wrong… and the whole time she was telling me, I kept thinking to myself, “You may not realize it, but your problems are over. We are going to get this.”
      This arena is new to me, but I knew that it fit some of my natural abilities. I knew I would be okay. I’d suggest you look at little harder at where you are applying, also. Don’t apply for jobs working on power lines if you are afraid of heights. Try to find things that seem to fit you and bring out the best in you. If you feel you have something to offer them, like I did with my boss, that confidence can just come flooding back.

      1. Tea-Rex*

        Thank you so much, thinking about it this way makes me feel so much better. I do think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned tone of voice – the underlying message was good and well-intentioned, even if it was delivered in a harsher tone than I’m used to.

        I am trying to work on my feelings of being a fraud. The reason this hit me so hard is – I wasn’t able to answer questions I should have, and the interviewer specifically said, “you claim to know X, how can you not know this”. But I’m realising that one sentence and one bad day can’t take away my achievements. I’ll just have to work on presenting them better.

        Again, thank you for taking the time to type a detailed reply to me, I really appreciate it and will work on the things you’ve mentioned.

  24. Sarah*

    I’m starting grad school full-time soon after doing admin work for a couple years after college – I’m wondering what I should be doing for work so that I can land a steady job after I graduate. Should I try to get another admin job so there’s not a gap in my resume? (I’m going to be studying in an unrelated field.) Or should I wait to just try to get an internship for next summer in the field I want to be in? I really struggled finding work after college and don’t want to end up in that place again.

    1. More Coffee Please*

      I think the best way to get a non-admin job in your new field after graduation will be to get experience in that new field however you can. You don’t have to wait for the summer internship – you can see if there is any part-time work available, like with a local organization or a professor. You could also do a research project if that’s relevant for your field. If there’s no possibility of part-time work, you could look into volunteering in your field or in a related professional club (like an organization that introduces your field to school children or tutors undergraduate students in that subject).

      I don’t think more admin work during grad school will necessarily help you get a job in the unrelated field after graduation (especially if you’re doing the admin work while there are other opportunities for field-specific work). But if you need the paycheck during the school year and there’s no other option, that’s the reality. Definitely look for field-specific summer internships even if you end up working an admin job during the year, though.

      Also, I don’t think full-time grad school would be considered a gap in your resume – it will be clear what you were doing during that time. Sometimes you need to think about whether you will get farther by both working and studying at the same time (like if you’re working while getting an MBA), but I think that’s more relevant if you’re already in a job in your field, and the advanced degree will bring you to the next step.

      1. Sarah*

        I’ll look for something part time then! I was worried there wouldn’t be anything available because of covid, but I’ll try my best.

        1. nymitz*

          Depending on your school and program, the graduate school frequently will facilitate placing students with local employers or agencies for part time jobs related to the field of study, or will hire them to work with undergraduates in the major (graduate assistantship / teaching assistant / it goes by many names). Talk to your academic advisor or a student placement coordinator in your department.

          Sometimes these come with tuition breaks as well as a paycheck! Definitely worth pursuing if it is an option for you.

  25. Linking In*

    This week I had a reach-out from a hiring manager on LinkedIn. I am not looking for a job, so I usually ignore recruitment stuff on LinkedIn.

    But this was actually targeted: it’s exactly the kind of job I would be going for if I wanted to move* and I’m exactly the right kind of candidate for it. It’s not a unique role but they probably only recruit for it every few years as it’s a “one per department” type and people stay awhile (a decade is typical).

    * My current job fits in perfectly around my family and my disability, and I’m highly paid for it. A lot would have to change if I took a different job and I don’t know how well it would fit.

    I do not want to burn any bridges, partly because it’s a small industry so when you do move you need to be able to apply just about everywhere. So I’ve replied along the lines of “wow yeah this does look like a good fit because (detailing my most relevant experience and qualifications) but I’m not looking at the moment because my current job is great and well paid”. But I added a bit asking what they did to adjust their procedures to lockdown, and fairly bluntly asked what the salary range is, because there wasn’t a range or even an adjective on the job posting and it isn’t an industry standard job title so I can’t guess.

    Is it reasonable to expect them to reply in any detail given that I’m being honest about not actively looking for a job? Do hiring managers of growing businesses actually keep candidates on file, or do they start with a clean slate every time they hire?

    1. Uhtceare*

      I’d expect so–“not looking at the moment” + specific questions translates, for me at least, to “I wasn’t looking, but if the details are great I might decide to move!” I.e., it’s not a hard no–you did actually signal some interest. If they refuse to tell you more after getting that, I’d be surprised.

      Candidates on file–depends on the industry, the region, the business, but there have been success stories of call backs, so who knows.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      I say set up an intro call with them. It’s only a short conversation and you have nothing to lose.

    3. juliebulie*

      They contacted you, and they’d want you to relocate, so it’s on them to provide the information you’d need to decide if you’re interested.

      1. Linking In*

        That’s my bad wording. I mean move as in move jobs, not relocate. It would be a significant commute but I commuted to that city for several years and my spouse works close nearby.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      I would see that as a bit of a confusing message – on the one hand, you’ve told the person you’re not interested, but on the other, you’re asking about their COVID procedures (which if you’re not interested, reads a bit oddly). If I got that message, I would have thanked you for your reply and asked if there was anyone you would refer for the role.

      I think you should follow up with a note that you’d be open to a conversation and that if the role turns out to not be right for you, then you’d be happy to network. That will let the recruiter know that while you’re happy, you have some openness to the right opportunity, and the networking offer helps to not make it look like you are wildly changing your level of interest from not interested to interested.

      Once you speak with the recruiter and have read the profile, and if the recruiter agrees that you’re qualified, affordable, etc. etc., then decide whether you want to pursue the role or not.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        ^^ This. It’s only a conversation and 20 minutes of your time. You never quite know where your next role will come from.

      2. Linking In*

        I like the phrasing “happy to network”. It describes the situation very well. Thanks!

        The COVID bit sounded weird in my earlier post, I can see. One of my accommodations includes WFH and they are currently fully remote so it was more “I wfh often; is your (pandemic contingency) WFH something you expect to continue with afterwards”.

        I was trying to go for “I think I would consider this if it were at least as good as my current job, which I am happy with” but it sounds like I may have missed the mark.

        It’s likely I am too expensive for them. WFH is worth thousands per year in commuting and other related costs (three-hour round trip) so I would need a bump.

  26. Pleiades*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to go about seeking a new internal position (especially with the fluctuations of pandemic-world)?
    A position in a department I’m interested in is being vacated, but I don’t know if they’re going to fill the position as-is, take the opportunity to change the position, or not rehire at the minute.
    It would be a step up for me, but work that I’m really interested in, and a good career move. What timeline should I follow in asking about it vs waiting for information to come out (I worry that if I just wait, it might be too late to really get my foot in the door?)

    1. Pleiades*

      To clarify, this would be the first time I’m doing anything like this (still relatively new to the working world) so I have no idea what the general norms are!

    2. cmcinnyc*

      Don’t wait–ask! If there’s no information yet, or if they fob you off with “oh it will be announced on the website later in July,” you can follow up down the line. But there’s no reason not to jump on it.

    3. Ronda*

      contact the person you think would be hiring today.

      At old job I actually contacted the VP of a group that I thought would have a project coming up that I wanted to work on well before the project was coming up (maybe about 6 months). The director who was the hiring manager called me when the position came open and I got it.

      It is never too early to tell someone you want to work for them if possible.

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

      Is it “officially” known that the position is being vacated, or is this just something you’ve found out unofficially somehow?

      If it’s the former, reach out to the manager of that position now; if it’s the latter it will be more difficult because of questions being asked about “how do you know Jane is leaving?” etc.

      If you have any kind of “unofficial” relationship with the hiring manager of that position you could draw on that and reach out to them.

  27. Fuzzy Crocodile*

    I had a third interview yesterday that I felt did not go well. This team brought up new skills for this role that were not discussed in earlier interviews, but I understand that’s part of the process.

    One question they did ask me that caught me off guard was, “Tell me about a time you’ve had to be courageous at your job.” I googled it afterward and it seemed like speaking up when something’s wrong at work or something. To better prepare in the future, does anyone have any insight?

    1. ampersand*

      Have there been times you’ve had to speak up at work when something has been wrong? How did it go?

      I haven’t been asked this particular question before, nor would I ask it if I were interviewing someone–I don’t love it because it seems like it could be very easy to give an answer the interviewer doesn’t like and it therefore seems a bit like a trap. I say that as someone who has frequently spoken up at work when things have been wrong, with varying results.

      The first example that comes to mind for me is the time my direct supervisor lied to a client about information to make us look better. The client didn’t know it was a lie; I did. I looped in grandboss, who sort of but didn’t really take care of it (another issue in itself). My supervisor had a history of both not telling the truth and not managing well, and also being allowed to behave badly, so I felt pretty stuck regarding my options. I don’t think this example would sit well with a potential employer, so I wouldn’t be inclined to use it. It is, however, what I think of when I think of being courageous. I chose to say something because I believed it was the right thing to do.

      Maybe replace the word “courageous” with “bold” and then try to come up with an example that fits–was there ever a time you, for example, worked on a project that wasn’t going well, and speaking up helped get it back on track or improve it? I would stick to something of that caliber, unless you work in a life or death field (medicine) and you have a good example of doing something that literally saved someone’s life.

      I’m curious to hear what others say about this!

    2. More Coffee Please*

      I like ampersand’s suggestion of replacing “courageous” with “bold.” I think the question could mean anytime you were proactive and stepped up in a way that others might not have. I think possible answers could be along the lines of:

      – We wanted to try using a new tool for a project, but no one on the team had experience using it. I volunteered to learn. I spent some time reading up on how to use the tool and talking with a few professional contacts who had experience with it… [courageous/bold because you stepped up when there may have been risks if you weren’t successful]
      – While doing a project, the company owner suggested Method A, but I knew Method A had drawbacks because of my previous experience. It wasn’t typical to go against what the owner suggested, but I brought up my concerns with her and suggested Method B. We ended up going with my suggestion, and the project was a success… [courageous/bold because you spoke up against the status quo]

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think being honest when something isn’t going well is courageous. I was leading a project that was going badly and had to raise multiple issues to my management so that they understood that it was not going to be successful. I actually recommended terminating the project when it was clear the system was going to be significantly worse than the current one, and bring us no benefits (after we had spent more than half a million on it). We did terminate the project and fortunately it hasn’t hurt me at all.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think there are a lot of ways to interpret “courageous” in a work context:

      Boldness/stepping up as mentioned above.

      Telling an uncomfortable truth that needs to be said – which could be admitting a mistake, asking for help because things aren’t going well, or bringing ethical problems to the proper channels.

      Going outside your comfort zone – taking on a project or learning opportunity that is a stretch and bearing responsibility for it. Could even be something like public speaking if that doesn’t come easily to you.

      So to me, courage in this context could be anything where you took positive action in the face of uncertainty, took responsibility or risk over the outcome, and you believe it was a good thing to do, whether or not it was successful.

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

      “To be courageous” can be some variant of:
      – take leadership of a situation where things are uncertain; “do” first and ask questions after [When circumstances require it of course!]
      – have faith in your own approach, even if others question it
      – raise uncomfortable questions to people in charge in things like “town hall” meetings

      In essence, imo, to be courageous is to “acknowledge the risk and take action anyway”.

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

    Someone I know sent a message to ExJob Group Chat complaining that his current employer wants to hire more women, and finished with a “you know how that’s called”. I was really tempted to answer “what, you scared?” with several baby emojis, but I restrained myself.
    (He also wanted us to help his friend to lie his way into a job he recommended him for, but that’s not worth complaining, huh?)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Are women underrepresented at that company? If so, I do know what that’s called—fixing something that’s broken.

    2. Notapirate*

      “You only got hired because they wanted a female candidate” – Nothing you ever do will ever be good enough and if you do ever mess up they will assume all women can’t do the job. You have to be the best. You can replace female with minority, LGBTA, etc. It’s so toxic. For the record the correct reply is “Well you got hired so it can’t be that hard”

      Did have a guy insist he had to move heavy item (about 50lbs), not me. He super struggled, spilled some, struggled. Finally he gave up. I went over picked it up no problem and easily moved it. (I had spent the job before that one chopping down trees and hauling logs, 50lbs was nothing). Props to him though, he immediately laughed and apologized to me, then spent the rest of the time I worked with him going around and telling all the guys moving things “Oh get Pirate to move that – she’s STRONG”.

      1. allathian*

        Props to the guy! Looks like he didn’t feel threatened by having a physically strong woman as a coworker but was able to compliment you on it, even if indirectly, to others.

  29. Promotion?*

    Hi AAmers! I posted this question last week, but it kind of got buried, so I thought I would try again :)

    How long should you wait for a possible promotion before deciding to move on?

    I had a lengthy conversation with my boss back in early February and asked for a salary increase and title change. He asked me for some documents and seemed very supportive and on board. I followed up again with him in May once I figured most of the craziness from COVID-19 had calmed down. He asked for more documentation and said he needed to talk to HR. Since then I have talked to several managers on my team who all expressed what a great job Iʼm doing and how supportive they are of me transitioning to a new role.

    After discussing things with my husband, I figured I would give the company until July to make things official or I would start job searching. Am I being too impatient? Everyone says all the right things, but I donʼt see any evidence of concrete action. FWIW, I work for a government contractor, so maybe it is an issue of red tape and bureaucracy. Thanks for any insight or advice you can provide!

    1. CatCat*

      No, I don’t think you’re being too impatient. I’d start job searching now. Applying and interviewing don’t commit you to anything. If current employer promotion comes through, GREAT, but if it continues to drag out, then you’ll have some irons in the fire to get you to the level you want somewhere else.

    2. ThatGirl*

      This isn’t quite the same, but in my last job I had repeated conversations for close to a year about adjusting my duties, “fixing” my job so it was closer to what I was hired for, promises that people were talking about it, and it never came to anything. Eventually I saw an internal opening I was interested in and went for it, and guess what, my actual job never got re-filled…

    3. another scientist*

      It’s not clear to me if your boss has explicitly said that they support your promotion and are going to advocate for you with HR. The way I’m reading what you wrote here, it could just as well be that your boss isn’t on board and doesn’t want to say that openly, so instead it’s requesting documentation and ‘talking to HR’ to win time. A bad managing strategy, but it happens.
      The fact that other colleagues think that you are great only matters if they have a stake in the decision/authority over the pot of money this raise would come out of. But I wouldn’t underestimate the red tape (judging by the govt contractor I used to work for). Things like this could easily take a few months, even without months-long pandemic delays.

      1. Promotion?*

        I apologize if that wasnʼt clear. Yes, my boss has said that he fully supports me and that he “canʼt make any promises” but would go to bat for me with HR. I only mention the other managers because they have some influence as well and he has asked for significant input from them.

    4. Emma*

      I would start job hunting. My general view on promises or hints at work is that they are meaningless until I have something committed in writing.
      It has been five months since you had the initial conversation with your manager (a crazy five months, but still five months). There are lots of reasons a promotion might not come through. The company/your boss may not be fully committed to it, or circumstances may have changed changed due to COVID or other factors.
      If you start job hunting, the worst case scenario is that you get the promotion at your current job and decide to withdraw from any hiring processes.

      1. Promotion?*

        Thank you! That was my thought as well. If I had something in writing or even a timeline to work with, I would feel less anxious about things.

    5. PX*

      If the work environment itself isnt too bad, I’d have one last conversation with the boss and ask for an explicit timeline. Its not clear if you’ve done that already, but there are some nice scripts from Alison on this topic. But basically ask for a clear timeline. If you dont get one, or you get one and it passes (or its too far into the future), then sure, start searching.

      If you already know you want to leave, start searching anyway.

  30. glasswindow*

    Does anyone work a physically intensive job like waitressing, cleaning, trades, nursing, aged care and so on?

    At what age do you think you can keep working until body wise and what plans do you have if you think there is a gap between when you can physically do your job and the age you financially need to keep working until? Do many people in your profession work until say, 65? Full time or part time?

    1. Generic Name*

      My husband is a carpenter, and at 40 he’s thinking about how long he’ll be able to keep doing it. He’s mentioned maybe going to school as a way to extend his career when he’s no longer able to physically do his job. Honestly, before we got married, I think his “plan” was to keep working until he couldn’t anymore and then figure something else out.

      1. Moi*

        Lots of nurses work until retirement, plenty of them come back after retirement. Nursing, however is a bit unique because if a certain floor is challenging you have the option of applying to a different floor.

    2. Anne Shirley*

      Around 50, I start worrying about having the stamina, energy, patience etc to continue being a classroom teacher. At 52 I started looking at more administrative positions that wouldn’t require standing and being “on” all day.

    3. Natalie*

      My husband is 35, does maintenance and has been wondering about his exit strategy for a couple of years now. Although he has some pre-existing physical challenges so I think he started thinking about getting out a little younger than average.

      Most of the older guys in his field have moved into supervisory positions, or are just pacing themselves differently and bringing a lot of experience and knowledge in exchange. He’s trying to get into building inspection but unfortunately the pandemic and subsequent economic collapse has probably delayed that.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Actually, properties ARE selling pretty well at the moment. (Three sales in my family within a two week period!) So it would appear there’s a need for inspections – buyers, lenders, municipalities….
        Also, when we purchased new homeowners insurance, the company sent an inspector (they said to repair the roof, or they wouldn’t insure the place), so that’s another market for inspections. People always need property insurance, whatever the market is doing.
        Another possible approach would be the Real Estate Owned department of mortgage lenders. Foreclosed properties will be going up, if the economy gets as bad as predicted, and those properties almost always have a laundry list of defects. So the lender needs someone to inspect, and let them know just how bad it is.

    4. Ronda*

      When i was in my 20s and waitressing i worked with a woman in her 80s. I am only in my 50s now and after 30 years in an office chair, I don’t think I would be able to do it, but she seemed to be OK. I dont think waitressing is as physically taxing as some other things…. but does include standing for the shift.
      my sister is a nurse in her early 50s and moved to more of an office position nurse rather than an emergency room nurse fairly recently. (she is like me… not in prime physical condition)
      My brother worked retail, stocking shelfs until about 40 then switched to an office job. The office job (creating marketing materials, mostly on internet) is driving him a bit crazy, and he talks about going back to stocking shelf. He is much stronger than me, but I do worry that it would be more physical than he remembers…. and I do remember him having some back pain issues when he was doing that job before.
      My grandmother worked as a cook until her 80s…. she was always cooking or doing other work even when she was not at work.
      My uncle laid carpet, when he had knee troubles, he started driving a delivery truck for bar supplies that he was able to do until his 70s.

      I think it can depend on the persons physical condition… and most people do get in worse physical condition as they age. But if you keep doing the physical work, you are more likely to be able to do the physical work.

    5. Anax*

      Unfortunately, I’m a white-collar office worker, and I’m having that question now, in my late twenties. Thanks, body. Most people in IT don’t have a problem, but I do; I’m going to try to transition to permanent WFH, but if I get to the point where I can’t work at all… I don’t know what I’ll do.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have done mostly physical jobs because I hate sitting with the fire of ten suns. But. Circumstances are such that I will work for the rest of my life or until I can’t. So I switched to office when I was about 50. I do enjoy having energy to do something after work. But I do not enjoy the back pain. Fortunately moving around after work seems to help a lot. When I made my jump, a friend referred me to the job. She knew me from Volunteer Thing, I applied. Then another friend from Volunteer Thing vouched for me to my boss-to-be. I have been able to pick up temp stuff based off of the job I have now.
      I was willing to take a part time thing that did not pay well. The job is still part time but my boss was able to quadruple my pay. Yeah, the rate was pretty sad when I started. I do get offers for similar work in other offices but their hours conflict with my current job. My point is once you make the jump, it gets easier.

      My friend is a carpenter who has done a lot of things like cutting trees and stone work. He is 60 and he is getting more picky about what jobs he takes. No more high roofs. No more walking bags up concrete up hill. No more working in high heat. It sounds like he is stepping back, but actually it’s more of a shift. Because he is versatile he is able to keep working at his preferred projects. Because he is good at what he does, people are grateful when he agrees to a job. He doesn’t have to network much any more to find the next project. Projects come to him.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I think it depends on how you feel. My job is pretty physical but there are periods when I am not working, so I get a break, and the hard work is usually interspersed with doing the paperwork etc. Also I didn’t really start doing the hard stuff until I was in my 30s (I’m 45 now) so I have had less overall physical damage. I’d like to move on to something else more because I’d like to advance in my career, but I’m also OK with continuing for now. I know people who keep doing field work well into their 60s.

  31. Amber Rose*

    My company is broken, and Covid has made it apparent enough that it can’t be ignored. I thought our new CEO was making things better, but actually he was just organizing the sprinkles and smoothing the icing while encouraging the rot in the center of the cake. And I might not have realized it, except Covid is making it harder to hide things.

    So what I’ve learned: there’s no future here for women, because we are ignored and not trusted (actually said to my boss). And also, sales makes commission even on the stuff I sell. Also, sales can get away with any behavior up to and including threatening the CEO without repercussion, which means they can get away with all their crap forever and nobody will ever rein them in.

    I need to leave right? I need to leave. But I have to make a choice, in that case: when. Covid makes leaving a bad prospect. My job is stable even if it sucks underneath, pay and benefits are good and I’m low enough on the totem pole that I mostly get by keeping my head down.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Looking around doesn’t mean you have to leave… finding out options may be a good start.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Start looking now. It’s a difficult time for job hunting, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find the right fit. The mistake I made was to cling to the branch of a rotting tree until it broke off in my hands. I knew the company was dysfunctional and should have left long before they ended up laying me off. It would have been a lot less stressful to have been looking while I still had a job. I got severance, thank goodness, but there is now an unfortunate gap in my resume since January. My old company is well known in our industry for being a dumpster fire, so it can be awkward having to explain my decision to ride it out. Good luck to you!

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      You already know the answer. Focus on finding a new job and once you get one, get the heck outta there!

    4. PX*

      I mean..leave when you have a new job? And the time to start looking for a new job is now?

      Casual job hunting can take a while, and given the current world situation…probably longer. But yeah, I’d take this as a very clear cut sign to start looking.

    5. Observer*

      You need to leave. You need to do it as soon as possible. So start looking. So far, it sounds like you can keep this job while you look, so there is no harm in starting to look now. Looking does not mean you have to take the first job that seems remotely possible.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If you keep reading through various columns here, you will see that people are making it to a new place. And so can you. Go ahead, try, while you still remember that jobs should not be like what you have now.

  32. Flaxseed*

    Is there any way to tell that the position you’re applying for is going to be a good fit socially? I ask about the environment in interviews, but this doesn’t always help. When I interview, the rest of the team usually isn’t there, so I don’t meet the people that I’m working with. Other times, the person acted professional in front of the boss, but bullied me

    1. MissGirl*

      You could ask to speak to a team member. But social fit can change so much. When I started my last job, everyone but me was super introverted and into gaming. Then a bunch of people left and the social part of the team completely shifted. Then the team split into three different areas and the social part changed again.

  33. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    How do you keep your animal coworkers occupied? So far mine have screamed during Teams meetings, cleaned their butts during video calls, and attempted to eat my breakfast. A box on my desk to sit in seems to help, but they’re just very vocal and food motivated!

    1. Web Crawler*

      There’s two approaches here that I’ve found work- discouraging the behavior you don’t want to see, and encouraging the behavior that you want.

      The box on your desk is encouraging the behavior you want to see. Other things that work for my cats include pillows near my desk, taking breaks to play with them, and extra pets if they’re sitting nearby but not on my stuff.

      As for discouraging unwanted behavior- that’s usually easier. If a cat steps on my laptop, I pick him up and put him on the floor, and then ignore him for at least 30 seconds. (What he wants is attention, so I don’t want to associate “stepping on laptop” with “human gives me attention”.) Other things my partner and I do to discourage attention-demanding behavior is closing the cat in a room away from us, putting him in an upside-down box (this one’s good bc it occupies him, he likes the box, but it’s also not attention), or throwing a blanket on top of him (same principle as the box).

      Important note- the things you use to discourage the cat should be mildly uncomfortable, not terrifying or harmful.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Have you used a spray water bottle, or does that scare them too much? My household keeps spray bottles of dilute vinegar around to clean surfaces, so I have sprayed the cats to stop them from trying to eat the aquarium fish I have, or other really egregious behavior, but I don’t want to terrorize them!

        1. Web Crawler*

          I don’t like using the spray bottle, but I’ll use it for very specific things, and only if I haven’t had success any other way. Generally my list of tactics in order goes like this:

          1. Physically stop the activity (ie, take the “toy” or “food” away, remove the cat from the surface). If applicable, 5 minutes later, solve the problem that’s causing the behavior (like, one of the kitties knocks down water glasses when his water is empty. But I don’t want him to think knocking cups over is the best way to get me to refill his water, which is why I wait a few minutes.)

          2. Stop the activity and make it harder for the cat to re-engage. (ie, toss a blanket or a box over the cat, move him to a different area, distract him by tossing a toy his way)

          3. Stop the activity while making loud noises and/or hissing at the cat. Hissing at a cat feels ridiculous, but they do seem recognize that you’re serious when you do it

          4. If nothing else works, and you can’t solve the problem at another level- like offering another scratching post if they’re tearing up the furniture- then it’s the squirt bottle. Both cats seem to freak out at the sight of it, though, so this is a last resort.

          1. Anax*

            That’s very sensible and very much what I do. I would add – a lot of bad cat behavior is caused by boredom, at least at our house. Adding enrichment activities helps in general, though you want to separate it in time from the bad behavior so you don’t reinforce it. (Like occasionally allowing letting them play in an unusual space, rotating their toys and treats to keep things fresh, taking them for (leashed) walks or out on the patio, at our house. The cat who’s afraid of the outdoors occasionally gets supervised time in the spare room, which is normally a Cat-Free Zone.)

            Also, I can tell you from experience, if you use the spray bottle for things OTHER than spritzing the cat, they will rapidly learn the difference between “bottle pointing AT THEM” and “bottle existing.” My assistant runs for the hills if and only if I wiggle the nozzle threateningly at him. (It also definitely only scares them off for about fifteen seconds, so it’s a pretty mild deterrent for us. -_-)

        2. Beth*

          I can’t tell from your phrasing if you’re spraying the cats with the diluted vinegar solution, or just using the same type of bottle filled with plain water. So apologies if I’m misinterpreting, but definitely don’t spray them with vinegar!! If it gets in their face you’ll have to flush their eyes and you’ll have punished them way way more than you intended.

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            It’s a 10% solution, but usually we just use plain water unless one accidentally mixes up the bottles. And never spray near the face!

        3. tuesday last?*

          heh. I used to spray my old cat with water. then it just became another game. Damned cat! So, my experience is that it could work for awhile but may have unintended consequences.

    2. Anax*

      Our best purchase of the year was a baby gate. The menaces can open the screen door, so we couldn’t leave the glass patio door open for a breeze without a cat trying to lead an escape attempt every thirty seconds. Probably during a meeting. The baby gate is working fabulously.

  34. Confused Anon*

    My assistant manager and I would go out to lunch, but he stopped going and I eat lunch alone now.

    Well, now there’s a new young intern that the Assistant Manager is friendly with and they go to lunch now. They have mutual friends in common and have a lot in common. (Similar backgrounds, etc.) He always talks about her.  They just go to lunch and don’t ask anyone, so I don’t want to invite myself because I didn’t know that they were going out.

    My Assistant Manager is the only other person that I work with, but I don’t see him that much, so it was nice to catch up since I don’t see him that often.

    I saw them come back from lunch and my AM seemed to avoid me. I had to ask him about a report that was due, but he kept trying to get away from me. I made a joke about it and he laughed it off and we talked for a little.

    He’s pretty laid back and tells me that I’m doing a good job, but he seems to not want to interact with me. Maybe I’m used to more social environments because I had one at my last job, but it hurts that he talks to the others and not me as much. I’m worried that it will impact my career.

    Should I address this concern somehow? I’m not sure if it’s insecure feelings or the job isn’t a good fit for me. Or both?

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      This is hard because you want to be treated like the other people in your office and he’s not doing that. In my experience, you need to swallow it and focus on: Is my boss being civil? Am I getting the same opportunities as other people? Is boss favoring his ‘friends’? Is there a work colleague you are close to and/or a therapist you can talk to? It’s extremely difficult being a misfit but there are plenty of people who are in that boat. (Ask me how I know.) Good Luck!

    2. juliebulie*

      Maybe he’s having a thing with the intern and feels guilty and can’t face you?

      If not, here is this horrible story that maybe doesn’t reflect well on me.

      After I started this job, a coworker and I would go to lunch every day. Then she went on vacation, and then I went on vacation, and when I came back, she always went to lunch with someone else, a new employee. (And it almost seemed as though they were sneaking out, because they took a detour to avoid passing my cube on the way out.) Eventually I told her that I couldn’t help feeling jealous and hurt. And after that, our relationship was never quite the same. But then, it already wasn’t quite the same, so opening my mouth really didn’t help.

      I don’t know what is going on with your AM and his new lunch buddy, but whether or not this job is a good fit for you is a different question. As long as the AM’s standoffishness doesn’t do anything that hurts you professionally, maybe it doesn’t matter. But if you find it upsetting, or if you think you will be missing opportunities, then maybe you’d better move on.

      1. Confused Anon*

        AM would do the same to me though. He would make me meet him or walk ahead of me, so it looked like we weren’t walking together. I don’t know if someone said something or he’s just paranoid, but it was weird. Nothing happened between us that was inappropriate. It’s so weird. Other men and women in the office talk and go for lunch as well.

    3. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      It sure sounds like your AM and the intern are having an affair.

      If that’s the case, I’d advise you to stay out of it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It certainly seems like working in such isolation where you only interact with one person, and them only maybe 1x per day, is not a great fit for you long term.

      I don’t know what the situation is with the intern, but I’d advise you not to bring it up again. Your personal feelings are involved to such a degree that it could impact you professionally if you make an issue of it.

      If you’re having trouble getting managerial guidance, or work is getting held up because you need his input, or if the intern is behaving unprofessionally during work hours, then that’s the kind of thing you can and should address.

      Wanting more personal, social attention from your boss just isn’t something you can reasonably pursue. It’s obvious your social/emotional needs are going unmet. But it’s not his job to meet them.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him once that you miss your lunches and then let it go. Assume he will not go out to lunch with you just because you said that. Remain pleasant to work with and just focus on the work.

      1. Confused Anon*

        I just worry that I’ll miss out on projects or other opportunities. He asked our boss about other positions that she could apply for. Some of the interns applied for my job, though I don’t know if she did.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Okay there’s a lot here.

          If the only way to find out about job opportunities is through this guy or worse yet, by having lunch with him that is a problem.

          Perhaps you can ask the boss where job openings are posted. Maybe you can ask the boss to let you know directly when there are opportunities for new projects. See if you can find opportunities to talk to the boss directly.

          Why are interns applying for YOUR job? Are there openings for people who would be your peers?

    6. Dancing Otter*

      What if you invite the intern to go to lunch with you? You get some social interaction, and you aren’t excluded from AM & intern lunches.
      Then maybe it will become AM & OP & intern lunches. Or maybe not, but I don’t see a downside to issuing the invitation.

    7. allathian*

      This really does seem a bit odd. Sounds like you would prefer to work in a more sociable environment, and not just with your AM. How big is the org in general? Could you try talking to some other people there, even if you don’t work with them?

      That said, you could start looking for a new job, and in interviews say that you’re looking for something with a bit more collaboration with coworkers than your current one offers.

  35. New Senior Manager*

    I was asked to train our new IT hires on troubleshooting with a new system our company created. Any tips on what was most helpful for you with similar onboarding?

    1. Web Crawler*

      If you have an internal wiki, having a page that documents troubleshooting steps that I can edit is a lifesaver. Because I can reference it, but also if I have trouble with a step, I can edit the document and clarify it myself, to save trouble for myself and others later.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Seconding clear written instructions that they can refer back to to make sure they’re consistent in how they troubleshoot.

  36. Lady Heather*

    I poster here a few weeks ago about nu struggles with volunteer work, and got several great replies. (Thank you.)

    I’ve since done some thinking regarding volunteer positions, and realized a lot of positions that don’t actually require you to be very social and extraverted probably have the “Join us, it’s fun! We have parties!” aspect more as a recruitment strategy/perk than as the demand/requirement I read it as..

    I’ve also reached out to my current volunteer coordinator to be honest about the difficulties I have with the work, and I have a meeting with him next week.

    Thanks! You really helped me feel more sure of myself in asking for what I need, and in feeling good enough.

  37. Retail not Retail*

    Outdoor workers – how are you coping? So many people say we’re outside, we’re 6+ feet apart…. so no mask!

    Yes, we’re outside, no we’re not consistent in our distance.

    Part of me wants to force the point with our big bosses – if we can’t do this work safely in masks due to the heat, maybe it doesn’t get done.

    How is everyone else’s experience outside?

    We’ve had 2 cases this week but “we’re outside” and so don’t have “direct contact”.

    1. Construction Safety*

      6’ or mask or face shield. We’re in mid LA and south AL. Heat’s an issue. Sqwincher drinks and at least two rounds of popsicles per day.

      Constant threats of shutdown from the client (14 confirmed cases of their own, us = none) and them not following their own “mandatory” rules is demoralizing

    2. Outside worker*

      I work outside. It’s just 8 of us. We stay away as much as possible but sometimes it’s not possible due the nature of our job. We don’t wear masks because it’s consistent over 90 degree with at least 50% humidity. We’re not too worried about it because we’re all under 40 and healthy. We just trust each other not to do crazy stuff just yet.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Ah we’re 75% minimum and my teammates today are over 65 and refuse to mask up.

        We work with sort of a vulnerable group along with the general public. I don’t directly work with either although when we went through one hall the people in charge said “mask up or you’re out”

        So we’re having a great time.

    3. rear mech*

      Number 1 sources of cases in my county is construction workers. Outdoors doesn’t mean shit when there isn’t consistent mask wearing, and people need to get shit done. If you’re socializing in a park it’s not too hard to avoid other groups since you don’t really *need* to do anything or be in some exact location in a timely fashion, unlike a workplace. Covid clusters related to the protests have not shown up in our area yet, I think because there was 99% mask wearing with people handing out free masks and hand sanitizer etc.

  38. Justin*

    So my side hustle (I started offering consulting on dismantling whiteness after getting fed up with being asked for free labor) is going well. Have a few groups signed up to start in the next few weeks. Finished another chapter on the topic to be published next year.

    My job… actually listened to my concerns about the dog whistle email. I don’t know that they’ll actually do anything. And it was upsetting to have to discuss it, which is part of how racism stays in place.

    I still would rather not be at my job but this has been a positive few weeks for weaving my studies/scholarly interests into my career, finally.

    1. Generic Name*

      That’s really awesome about your side hustle. And I’m glad to see that people are willing to pay for this type of expertise. Fingers crossed that your day job gets with the program

    2. fposte*

      I didn’t know about the side hustle–that’s really smart. If you’re going to do emotional labor, make it paid emotional labor. And I’m glad your company was responsive. It sucks that you have to bring stuff up, though.

      1. Justin*

        It’s emotional, but now that I have a curriculum, it’s really just straightforward labor.

  39. nep*

    Job searchers: How many job openings per week (on average) do you find that really speak to you?
    I am often on the fence between 1) hold out until I find something that is meaningful to me and matches my values, and 2) take anything I can get because I desperately need to make money and move.
    I often go weeks without seeing openings that are in any way interesting to me. (I do look on the websites of companies I like/value–not going with just job listings.)
    Not really a firm question here…Just would be interesting in others’ thoughts along these lines.

    1. Fuzzy Crocodile*

      I’ve been searching for several months, and probably see a couple a week that truly speak to me. Luckily, I’ve started to hear back from a few as I’d like to take a position that I really would thrive in instead of just a paycheck. Though, sometimes you just need the paycheck. Also, my field is broad, which means more opportunity but also more competition.

      For awhile, it was very limited and there were very few job postings (let alone interesting postings) each month (April and May).

    2. ampersand*

      I’m seeing about three per week that I’m applying to. I’m also trying to make sure company values are aligned with my own…I’ve passed up applying to a jobs I’m qualified and could do because of the values issue (Facebook is an example).

      I’m not in a position where I absolutely have to work right now (though I really want to), and I’m very lucky in that regard, but it’s also limiting what I apply to. I have a daily argument with myself about how particular I should be in finding a good match vs. applying to more jobs in order to get back into the workforce. I’ve been out for a year taking care of my daughter and I’m not getting interviews despite applying to jobs for the past three months, and I’m starting to worry it’s going to be very hard to get back in, ever. I wish I had answers on what the best approach is right now–I feel your pain!

    3. Generic Name*

      I think the more niche your skills are and the more senior you are, the fewer postings there are. My last job search, I was really really picky. I applied to I think 12 jobs over a 18 month period, got 3 interviews, and 1 offer. I must have done it right because I’ve been at my current job for over 10 years now. :) I was employed the entire time I was casually looking, by the way.

    4. PX*

      Oof. I was semi-casually looking last year and if I saw 1 a week that spoke to me that was a surprise. I’d say it was maybe more like 1 a month though I did have some restrictions in my search (location for my field is a bit hit and miss).

    5. Goatgirl*

      Oh my goodness, your post and the replies made me feel so much better. I am lucky if I find a job a week that interests me and/or fit my skill set. I find that if I’m not totally excited, I usually get a prompt “thanks but no thanks” so maybe they can sense my lack of enthusiasm. But people ask me how many jobs I’ve applied for since my February layoff and I fib because I am embarrassed that I don’t apply for more.

      However, I am trying to step it up because the severance is nearly gone and we are about to get hungry here. Good luck to us all!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds too familiar to me.

      I guess if you are going to move anyway then the nature of the job matters less, because it’s just temporary?

      I also throw into the hopper how much does it matter now that I am 60 this year. I have 3 more years on this mortgage. I guess that needs to be my focus…. maybe your move needs to be your focus?

  40. Jane Marple*

    Can I let my firm know that our diversity/sensitivity seminar and resources are problematic? For full disclosure here I am biracial (my father is Scottish and my mother is Indian) and I can pass for white most of the time. (I recognize this privilege).
    The firm has made the seminar mandatory for white staff only. All others were exempt When I attended the seminar, the trainer spent the entire time telling us we are horrible people, racists, we help kill black individuals, we aren’t worthy, we need to aplogise every day for existing and that type of thing. Seriously that is all it was.

    Since I have worked at this firm there have been two incidents that I know of:

    A manager made racist remarks to one of her staff in an email (she is Black and the staff is Chinese)

    My colleague made racist comments about someone she had seen in the lift (my colleague is from India and the person in the lift was from the Middle East according to her comment)

    In these cases despite proof being there neither culprit was terminated or suffered consequences. I find it the firm’s approach wrong as anyone can be the perpetrator, and the seminar did not actually address any issues, it was just being yelled at and told how awful you are. I recall stories from my mom of racist abuse she got while riding the Tube to work and the abuse my parents have had about their marriage. I do think my firm needs to change things in so many ways. But I’m not sure how to address it being a junior employee.

    1. nep*

      Oh my goodness–how awful to hear how wrongheaded they’re being with this seminar. I don’t have any particular advice…Just I feel for you and I’m sorry your employer is handling things like this. Could be an opportunity for some learning on some leaders’ part, if they’re open to it.
      I’ll be interested to know what others have to say.

    2. Mazzy*

      I think you can definitely talk to your manager, to begin with. I don’t think you should avoid it just because of the topic. Getting talked to in that way is not OK. In my circles, I’ve seen some companies push through initiatives recently that seem rushed and incomplete. Maybe your company just picked a training to check it off of the bucket list and they will actually like feedback. I think the public things there is a taboo on calling out lousy trainings or initiatives if the they think subject matter is good, but of course that is not the case. Yes, there can be bad trainings and trainers in any area. In my personal life, I saw a company that furloughed and laid off a bunch of people and then gave a bunch of money to charities in June. Not a good look but companies are rushing to do something right now.

    3. Justin*

      There is a way to make a necessary point (that white folks benefit from white supremacy even if they’re not actively reveling in it) and then there’s that.

    4. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      When I attended the seminar, the trainer spent the entire time telling us we are horrible people, racists, we help kill black individuals, we aren’t worthy, we need to aplogise every day for existing and that type of thing.

      Any chance you could get a recording of it? You’d need to be careful – recording stuff in the workplace can be touchy – but I just wonder if the people who scheduled the seminar really understood what it was going to be like?

      But perhaps first you should consider carefully just how much you want to get involved in this particular tar baby. I’ve seen rather a lot of stuff on news shows etc of late, reminding me of my White Male Privilege etc, and I feel like it’s counterproductive. It’s easy to change the channel, though.

      1. Jane Marple*

        I definitely do want to change things. Although I pass for white lots of the time, there are times I don’t and I am biracial and not white. I want my workplace to be diverse, safe and sensitive.

        The seminars and the resources around them are problematic for many reasons:

        1) Only white (or white passing) persons have to attend, when my firm has had proven instances of racism where no white persons were involved. Racism needs to be stopped no matter who the perpetrator is.

        2) The seminars and resources only focus on racism against Black people and the definition used is white behaviour towards Black persons. While that certainly is appalling and needs to stop, other BIPOC also experience it and it needs to be addressed. I have experienced it myself before in life, though not at my current job. My mother has faced it often.

        3) Someone shouting at you for an afternoon about how your white skin is killing Black individuals, and you need to apologise for existing and causing all the problems in the world is not constructive, doesn’t actually accomplish anything and is actually likely to be determinantal to the issue at hand.

        My firm is aware of what the seminar and resources entail so I don’t need a recording to show them. They also never addressed the racist incidents I mentioned above, despite the proof of them.

        1. Justin*

          As for point 2, I think the issue is right now in this instance, the issue at hand is not just racism but Anti-Blackness, which of course is rampant in other communities, too.

          But this trainer seems not to know what they are doing and of course failed at their task.

          1. Observer*

            Which makes @Jane Marple’s first point stronger.

            Also, even if you want to focus just on anti-Blackness, defining it only in terms of what white people do is silly. Most truly racist things are racist regardless of whether the perpetrator is white or not. It’s not OK to use slurs, demean people etc. And it doesn’t make it better if the person who does that is non-white.

            1. allathian*

              And in this case it was a Black manager who was racist towards a Chinese employee.

        2. Thaler*

          There is an assumption that discrimination doesn’t exist against white people, and that white people don’t have the right to complain.

          There is also an assumption that discrimination doesn’t exist between non-whites, and therefore there is nothing to discuss.

          Both assumptions are incorrect. In reality, discrimination exists everywhere and it applies to all kinds of forms. You can’t confront one type of racial discrimination and think that’s the end of discrimination. That in itself is racist.

      2. Justin*

        Yeah… you shouldn’t be using tar baby, man. You seem not to be American, but it’s a derogatory term here.

          1. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

            I guess that censoring content you don’t like is one way of fighting systemic racism ….

    5. pancakes*

      If you want to complain to higher-ups I think it would be much better to provide direct quotes to the extent possible rather than summarize how it felt to attend, as you’ve done here. Many people who complain about seminars on these topics misunderstand what they’re being asked to do and to consider, and if the person leading the seminar did in fact say, e.g., “all of you here today are horrible people,” you’d want to be crystal clear about that rather than raise questions about whether your interpretation is accurate. Attending again and surreptitiously recording the seminar shouldn’t be necessary, and may be illegal depending on consent laws where you live.

    6. Remote HealthWorker*

      My highschool did something similar. Let’s just say race relations rapidly deteriorated afterwards.

    7. What's my abili?*

      “…we aren’t worthy, we need to aplogise every day for existing and that type of thing…”

      I would ask for examples. Such as should we apologize for cell phones or computers? Or for Western medicine? Or for democracy? Or for planes, trains, and automobiles – and bicycles? Or for clean water and flushing toilets? Or for electricity and everything that runs on it? Et al?

      I was castigated, on behalf of all white people, for the existence of white countries because the castigator ‘argued’ that people “are forced to leave our own countries to go to white countries for a better life.” Any counter-argument was answered with “it’s not our job to make our countries better, that’s for white people to do.” It’s like working on a school project and not everyone is contributing the same effort.

      And people forget that all white countries were absolute cr@p at one time – and some still are. If you want white people to do all the heavy lifting, please don’t complain when we do – or when we refuse to. Nobody ‘wins’ that way. :(

  41. Database search/use tips?*

    Started a part time job which relies heavily on searching a database/catalog. I don’t understand the cataloging system, which makes it harder to use. Any tips on figuring out patterns or ways to broaden my approach? Examples of kinds of issues I have:

    * Color names (eg, blue) bring up specific objects (eg fabric) of any color, not every blue object including fabric but every kind of fabric in the system regardless of color;
    * Object names bring up partial lists of said objects, not complete lists (eg, “unicorn” only brings up lists of unicorns with gold horns, not any of the unicorns we have with horns of other colors;
    * Beverages are found under Plumbing
    * Products used in more than one category can only be found in the category chosen by the person who made the decision, not cross-referenced. (Oh for the days of author/title/subject cataloging.)

    The overview I requested for understanding the organizational framework boiled down to, “Don’t worry, it’s very intuitive.”


    1. Daisy Avalin*

      Whoever told you that it was ‘very intuitive’ has no idea what they’re doing, or how to categorise anything!

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Hello I just want to laugh/cry about “beverages are found under plumbing” if that’s actually in the system

    3. PX*

      Um. That sounds mad. Is the persn who designed this still there? Is this something designed 25 years ago that has mutated overtime and is understood only by the one true employee who has been with the company since before it even existed? Because thats what it sounds like to me.

      No suggestions, only sympathy alas.

      If there have been any new employees in the last 1 year who also use this mad system, find them, ask them how they learnt and commiserate?

    4. Reba*

      Have you sent these exact bullet points to whomever said this thing was “intuitive”? good lord!

      I don’t think any of us can help here. You need to push for more information from your organization, and make it clear (politely) that it’s not you, it’s the system that is apparently totally undocumented, and for good measure you could estimate how much extra time tasks are taking due to its lack.

      Oof, good luck!

    5. pancakes*

      Have you searched the internet for the name of the database + usage tips / how to / etc.? It sounds too quirky for generalized advice to be of much use.

    6. Square Root of Minus One*

      That sounds like a headache.
      If the database is an insider’s job, I’d keep a record of the very concrete consequences of the times it is failing you.
      Ex: “Failed to find out that client X maintenance was due this week: client complained, $Y had to be refunded”.
      If it’s outside… I’d just keep a list of tricks. I have one like that, EU-wide. To search it you really need imagination on all the possible keywords people could imagine, since search by keyword is the only way to sort docs from all the countries regardless of language.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      Ask for a data dictionary. Somewhere in the mists if time, someone had to have defined the database fields and how they would be used.
      Be sure you are searching the right field, e.g. a color field for “blue”. But, yeah, if users are putting the color in the general description field, you’ll need a two-criteria OR search.
      Can you run a “count” query/report by category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory, just to generate an organizational skeleton? Those beverages under Plumbing should show up strong and clear, along with probably a couple of dozen other oddities.

      1. Database search/use tips?*

        Thank you, that sounds like it would help.
        Others have learned the system faster than me, some agree that it’s very intuitive. It feels like a language issue of sorts.
        It reminds me of learning French & having someone explain that there is a rule about what kinds of adjectives come before the noun, & which after – eg, house yellow vs small house – making things much easier. (And yes, beverages are indeed found under Plumbing. Foodstuff however, are not…)

    8. EventPlannerGal*

      Are there any experienced users of the database who you can ask to give you a walkthrough? This sounds like the kind of thing where maybe the intuitiveness of the system depends on how familiar you are with the items being catalogued or the mindset of the person who created the database. (I know I quite often look at my company’s filing system and have to think “okay, X isn’t where I think it should be… where would Predecessor have thought it should be?” and the answer is WILDLY different to my first thought.)

  42. Sophia B*

    Any advice for how push on through (and not cry!) when the client Just Doesn’t Get It?

    I consult on a fairly technical and business critical application. It needs to be configured around your business – how you operate, what you track to measure performance, what challenges you’re trying to resolve.

    And my client just… doesn’t get it. They can’t tell me what their objectives are. They can’t tell me how their business actually operates. Except to get frustrated that I can’t just.. make the product read their mind? There is no logic or consistency – they can’t explain why the answer is different the second time I ask. They just want me to build something magic so far as I can tell.

    I have configured this same product for dozens of clients, across different industries, different challenges, different strategy – I’ve never had a client this… confused.

    It’s been months now – we’re out of time – and they keep telling me they want to ‘wait and see what it looks like’. What it currently looks like is what it will look like. There’s nothing else – that really is how it works.

    I’m getting so demoralised here. Is this just part of life? It’s like gaslighting – I don’t understand how they think the product will change overnight without any of us doing anything to it.

    1. Generic Name*

      When I get to this point of frustration with a project, that’s when I know it’s time to pull in help. I go to the project manager, or if I’m the project manager, I go to either my boss or to the principal in charge. It sounds like the client is a real problem, and maybe a fresh pair of eyes will help you figure out how to work with them. Has anyone else in your company worked with this client before? If so, get insight from them. Honestly, you may not be able to please them, as they sound disorganized and prone to magical thinking.

      1. Colette*

        In addition to that, I wonder if you’re talking with people at the right level of the company. Are they the people who do the job, or somewhere up the management chain? Someone there knows what they do; maybe y0u need to talk to them.

        1. Sophia B*

          I think you’ve nailed it actually – I need the strategy. I’m not getting access to the strategy.

          I will.. look into that. Thank you.

      2. Sophia B*

        I broke down and made my boss take a call with them. He did get to the bottom of one of their items, but all accounts only because I’d already spent three weeks on it and he was able to play dumb!

        Thank you – I sometimes feel like I’ve failed if I have to call in the big guns. I guess that’s just something I need to get over.

        1. PX*

          Ooohh yes. Knowing when to call in the big guns is a really important work skill and so I would say this is a valuable learning opportunity. Asking for help isnt a crime (in sane workplaces). Maybe its because I work in STEM, but knowing when you dont know something, when you’re not achieving results or knowing when you’re just stuck and need help/advice is really important, otherwise you can lose lots of valuable time spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.

    2. RagingADHD*

      OMG, I feel this so hard.

      I am currently hanging fire with a client like this, waiting to hear if they are going to cancel their contract entirely.

      We have a very detailed process, similar to what you describe. Defining objectives, defining success, end-user profiles, etc. Couldn’t get a straight answer or any consistent answers.

      I finally figured out that it was because he was just bullshitting his way through the conversations. He hadn’t thought about it, didn’t know the real answers, and didn’t care.

      And of course he’s on an unrealistically tight deadline.

      Of course, he hasn’t been happy with any of the preliminary deliverables and wants to redo them all from scratch, because his real objectives/standards are totally unrelated to the ones he told me (any of them).

      I’ve just been documenting everything and letting my team lead know all along exactly what’s going on.

      Two weeks ago he decided that he doesn’t want to use our normal procedures at all, he wants a custom process that will let him give feedback continuously as we create the product, instead of at intervals.

      Like, literally. He wants to give feedback and have me rework everything on a weekly basis, while I am also creating the next week’s work.

      Fortunately, my team lead went all the way to the department head and got me the backing to say, “we can tweak this timeline, but no – we will not work that way. It’s going to ruin the product.” (not to mention that I don’t have a clone).

      Next thing I know, he’s canceled the rest of our check-in meetings and my team lead tells me to hold tight, she’s got calls scheduled with him and with the department heads.

      The only thing I think I could have done differently/ better was to be firmer with him that we could not move forward at all until he was 100% committed to the brief we established, and that the brief would be the governing document, period.

      But that’s not normal for us – most clients have some slight deviations or add-ons as we go along and we’re encouraged to be collaborative and somewhat flexible with the process.

      There was no way to know he was going to be totally unreasonable until he was.

      At this point, I kind of hope he cancels, or moves into one of our “you build it yourself, we market it” tracks. I flagged it a month ago that he was jibbing against the process and might want to switch, but I think somebody upstream tried to talk him out of it because the full-service package is more lucrative.

      Whether he cancels or not, at least I’ve established my credibility with my own team. That’s the only advice I can give – document everything, talk specifically about the client’s resistance to the process standards, and find out where your leadership is willing to draw the line.

    3. emmelemm*

      I sympathize, having had similar problems. I’m a software developer, but in a really small organization so I often have to work directly with clients in setting up our product, and there are a lot of things that make a difference in how it operates, especially things that are easy to set up at the outset and hard to change later. And I explain to clients, “Well, if you set it up this way, it will in general do this, but if you set it up this way, it will be more like this…” and they say, “Well, how do YOU think I should set it up?” and it’s like, dude, I am not an expert on your industry (although I’ve worked with this software long enough that I sort of am), nor am I certified to operate as the type of professional who would operate my software, nor do I know the ins and outs of your company! You’re supposed to know how your business runs! So if I say, “If your business runs like this, you should probably do X, but if you run like this, Y is probably fine,” it’s UP TO YOU to tell me how your business runs.

      This is very frustrating. The worst part being, if I just *tell* them how to set it up based on what I know of their business and what I know about processes in general, then if it all goes wrong, it’s “Emm told us to set it up like this.” It’s essentially IANAL but if they end up doing something illegal because I told them to pick option A instead of B, somehow it’s my fault.

      1. Sophia B*

        > So if I say, “If your business runs like this, you should probably do X, but if you run like this, Y is probably fine,” it’s UP TO YOU to tell me how your business runs.

        It’s this part – 100%

        I am not qualified to tell them how they should set up their accounting solution. I do not know their industry, or their culture. I ask them because I need THEM to tell me – that’s why they’re in my workshops.

        But they get so mad at me for asking them questions – asking me how they’re meant to know the answers. And yet, when I escalate and explain that I need to speak with someone who does know the answers… we just get told it’s the people I’m already working with.

        I guess this is just life until they’re up and running. Thank you for sharing that you have similar frustrations – makes it easier knowing I’m not just suddenly hideously bad at my job!

    4. Ronda*

      i was on the other side of something like this.
      We didnt know how the software worked and were asked things we didnt understand.

      consultant : Should this 1 thing be a global or local item?
      us : What does that mean… what are the implications?
      consultant : visible frustration, could not answer. (and I could tell he was really smart about his system, but not about explaining to us how it would work)

      Or their defined process was not how we did it and not how we were going to do it

      consultant : I need your department rollup approval matrix for the budget
      us: we dont do budget approvals by department rollup.
      consultant : I need your department rollup approval matrix for the budget
      us: we dont do budget approvals by department rollup.
      consultant : I need your department rollup approval matrix for the budget
      us: we dont do budget approvals by department rollup.
      consultant : I need your department rollup approval matrix for the budget
      us: we dont do budget approvals by department rollup.
      consultant : I need your department rollup approval matrix for the budget
      us: here is the department list. (we didnt use the approval process in the system for all the years we used software)

      People are really bad at envisioning what a system will actually do for them and how it will work and are uncomfortable with that uncertainty.

      1. Sophia B*

        Yes, you’re describing exactly how it’s sounding!

        I’m not like your consultant though (I really hope) – we’ve done so many show-and-tells and talked through examples from other projects.

        I wonder if part of it is the framing though. I don’t need them to make any decisions about the software and the options – that’s my job! I just need them to articulate clearly how their business operates. Even simple questions – the equivalent of “do you typically make tea with tea-bags, or loose-leaf” take hours of workshops and frustration (and often it turns out that they’re trying to make coffee all along!).

        Thank you for sharing the other side of all this – I’m trying so hard to remember that this is all new and scary for them – even if it’s just a Tuesday for me and my team.

    5. Chaordic1*

      If at all possible, could you meet with the front-line people who will actually be using the product? So often the “client” is the person who pays the bills, but they don’t have any idea of what the work actually is, even at their own company.

      That said, when I’ve been in this kind of situation, my mangers weren’t very helpful. They basically said to document everything I did and all of my communication and if the client wasn’t responsive, to let the project crash and burn.

  43. question about IP rights*

    I know that in many jobs, the comment claims IP rights over things created in working hours or using company resources (apps, games, writing), etc.

    Would a paid furlough during which one is not allowed to work count as “company time”? If someone created a game or wrote a screenplay during a paid furlough, is it possible for the employer to assert IP rights?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It firstly depends what your employer does. If it makes teapots and you write a play about bricklayers, there’s no overlap and no claim.

      But if you’re employed as a songwriter and you write a song … that’s where the lawyers get involved.

      That said, where I live you are expressly not allowed to do any work for your employer whilst furloughed (eg if they want to ask you a work question they’re supposed to unfurlough you for a day, ask it, then get you back on furlough) so it would be very much more difficult for them to argue that anything you created in that time was for them and belonged to them.

      Only a local IP lawyer can answer properly.

      As always, don’t do work-that-isn’t-for-your-employer on your employer’s equipment!

    2. RagingADHD*

      Intellectial property claims are only as strong as someone’s will to assert them, and ability to prove them. Both are time-consuming and expensive.

      At least half the debut novels and screenplays out there were written by bored hourly workers at their desk jobs, while on the clock. Very few, if any, companies would invest the time and resources to assert an IP claim over something that doesn’t compete with them, or that they can’t market. Especially since so few of those works make any money, and if they do it’s years later when it would be impossible to prove what portions were written on which computer in the first place.

      If you are creating something that competes with your employer or could be added to their product line, read your contract and/or employee manual carefully. It’s possible you agreed to give them ownership of your work product as long as you are technically an employee. In that case, I’d hold off.

      If you’re creating a competing or potentially competing product and have no such provisions, I’d say proceed with caution: Don’t use their equipment, dont tell any coworkers about it or post on social media, and don’t launch it until you don’t work there anymore.

      If it’s completely unrelated, as in you work for an accounting firm and want to write a TV pilot, go for it.

      1. Baking cookies today*

        Also one important thing is not to brag to the papers interviewing you about how you wrote it while on the clock. There was a lawyer nearby who wrote a book, got it published and then did that at which point He got hit with an ethics violation and fine.
        But that was during work and billing people for time, not on furlough.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Charging clients? Oh, no.

          I was talking about the kind of job where you have to sit there for 8 hours whether there’s work to do or not.

    3. TPS reporter*

      Your company might have a detailed IP policy. Mine does but we also have a lot of scientists creating IP. in our policy there’s the concept of doing something on your own time without institutional resources as yours to own. However, we’re more liberal when it comes to copyrightable versus patentable material, i.e. paper versus tangible. Especially if you’re creating the IP utilizing the training and skills you’ve received at work then you get closer to employer ownership. If you’re at all worried, definitely do not contact work first to report the IP. They will not be on your side. Talk to a private lawyer first.

      1. mgguy*

        At least at my work(big R1 university) and working in STEM, there’s a pretty clear line between simply writing something for the sake of writing, and publishing research made on university and/or grand funded(funneled through the university) resources. Papers and things like that are a bit of a weird gray area in that the University “owns” the work but at the same time it is credited to the PI(principle investigator) and it’s certainly something that you keep on your CV, etc as long as you remain in the field regardless of whether or not you change institutions(BTW, for clarity for non-academics, in the US a CV is distinctly different from a resumé in that it’s a comprehensive record all of your scholarly achievements such as publications or conference presentations and little focus on your work history-for prolific senior faculty I’ve seen CVs 20+ pages long)

        At the same time, textbooks and any other publication that’s not directly reporting research is entirely your own. I’m actually writing one now in my time on furlough, and hope to have a rough draft done soon. The only time textbooks really become an issue is if you adopt them for a class you’re teaching and consequently profit from it-that’s a clear conflict of interest. We have one faculty member who wrote a textbook that is used by all 700+ general chemistry students every semester-he gets around COI issues both by making it 100% free to anyone online, and selling self-published comb bound print copies at roughly a 2¢/book loss so that he can avoid having to report a COI.

    4. question about IP rights*

      If clarification helps:

      I am not using company equipment. The screenplay in question is a supernatural comedy but a recurring joke uses a publicly available system that is not specific to my company. (Along the lines of the demons having an agile standup every morning.)

      My main concern about it is whether furlough time (like General von Klinkerhoffen, I am explicitly legally forbidden from working when on furlough) could be argued to be anything but my free time, because it is paid.

      Thank you for your responses so far!

      1. pancakes*

        Does your work that you’re furloughed from involve writing screenplays, scripts for games, or anything similar? And do you have a contract with your employer? If you want to do some reading on this, the phrase “work for hire” is useful for searching. There’s a circular put out by the US Copyright Office titled “Works Made for Hire” that’s probably as good a place as any to start.

  44. Evergreen*

    General question on expectations with hiring freezes. I had been job searching in January, which was leading to interviews in February and March which then turned into an industry wide hiring freeze. I’ve slowly been noticing the freezes ending (though the positions I’ve seen listed have all been much more senior than what I was applying for). Are companies apt to be continuing their hiring process from where they left off or will they start from scratch and repost positions?

  45. Me!*

    Hmm, since our caseload is still rising, City/ CityCounty has issued a mandatory mask policy, although we’re still okay hospital-wise. That means the interviewer who went off on me for wearing a mask now has to wear one. Interesting.

    Any tips on applying out of state? With remote work a thing during the pandemic, I’ve begun looking elsewhere again. I have a lot of experience working with coworkers and customers in different states and countries and have even done it myself from abroad. Several companies I’ve applied to have posted job listings marked “Temporarily remote due to COVID,” so I could start immediately, and I’m 100% happy to relocate when it’s safe again. I want one place in particular, even though it’s kind of a hotspot right now.

    I’m still packed and can move quickly. My sibling said if I get a job in DesiredCity, he will drive all my stuff out there. Is the last bit worth mentioning (minus the sibling part, of course)?

    Also, I made a very nice new online portfolio with Wix, but as a thumbnail, LinkedIn just blew up the photo of my face instead of the awesome picture I used as a background. Thanks a lot, LinkedIn. :P

      1. Me!*

        Yeah, I feel like I have to address it, since I’m applying from far away. But I really do want to move.

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Something like, “high interest in relocating to your area with ability to relocate quickly if necessary?”

      1. Me!*

        I’ve been tweaking a bit based on the virus, like I’m able to move right away as soon as it’s safe. (DesiredCity is going back into partial lockdown atm.)

        I’m highly interested in relocating to your area. Since I’ve already moved once recently, I’m ready to go when the pandemic recedes. Does that sound good?

        1. RagingADHD*

          I wouldn’t put anything about multiple moves, because it makes it sound like your personal life is unstable.

          I’d say you’re planning to move to the city as soon as it’s feasible, that you’re happy to work remote for the time being because (remote work experience).

          The thing about relocating quickly is that you have to have something lined up on the other end to move into. And that’s out of your control right now, so unless you have a standing invitation to crash with someone there, I wouldn’t overpromise about a fast move.

  46. Alexis Rose*

    Any good scripts for shutting down mansplaining?

    I have a coworker who I think would definitely consider himself a super progressive guy, but he can be pretty mansplainy / condescending at times. He has a Master’s in the field we work in, whereas I don’t have a degree in our field but have worked in it about the same amount of time he has. He seems to be confused between what is specialized knowledge that he gained in his MA and needs to share with people, and what is actually common knowledge that anyone who works in the field or follows it in the media would have.

    I’m sure he doesn’t intend to be condescending, but he is. It shouldn’t be so hard to shut down, but I’m just terrible at speaking up in these situations. I either freeze or get so mad that I just end the conversation for fear of saying something I’ll regret.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Do you get the impression he’s well-intentioned but misguided, or that he’s malicious? That may inform how you shut this down.

    2. Notapirate*

      “Ew David” Just kidding.

      Can you avoid the conversation? “Thanks Moira but I have this under control” and walk away.

      I’ve had luck with pretending I thought they were trying to start a conversation about the topic (instead of lecturing me on it), “The sky is blue and everyone should be writing with blue or black ink” “Yes that’s a common thought in XYZ field, but what did you make of the journal article last month that did this other approach?” Subtly nudge that yes everyone knows this and turns it from a lecture into a conversation. If its deliberate holding court with their degree over you that’ll annoy them no end but they can’t object. If it was accidental snobby behavior it will guide them toward better conversation habits.

    3. Calanthea*

      If you get on well, you could point out to him that he does it and ask him to stop. Do this at a time where he isn’t mansplaining, so it doesn’t become “No I’m not I was just pointing out that X is important.” When you do this, it’s probably helpful if you can make it work relevant, and maybe even avoid the words “mansplain.” Just like “When we discuss teapot painting options, you will often bring up the commercial development process for the paints. This isn’t relevant to the project, and it can sometimes take us off on a tangent. Could we save those conversations for the coffee breaks, or perhaps you could write a blog for the company about them?”

      If you don’t get on well, it might be easier to just internally roll your eyes at it then try to bring this up without it sounding as though you’re angry with him.

    4. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      My experience has been that it is difficult to know the extent of another person’s knowledge.

      Just a thought: can you assemble a ‘portfolio’ of projects you’ve worked on, and then say “hey, I thought you might be interested in some of the stuff I’ve been working on” and sit down with him and show him things you’re knowledgeable about?

      I’m a guy, and I don’t like being “mansplained” to, either. But not infrequently it’s someone who doesn’t know the depth (or lack thereof) of my knowledge. If I speak up and say “yes, I’m familiar with cubic spline interpolation,” they will probably get the message.

      In sort, if you really want to do something about the situation, you can’t just sit there and let him talk. That simply makes it worse: he doesn’t know what you know or don’t know, plus he doesn’t know you have a problem with him mansplaining.

      1. D3*

        The difference is, you are a guy. That’s why your assertions that you know things actually work.
        And you do realize you just mansplained mansplaining to a woman, right?

        1. Web Crawler*

          Thank you for this. (I wanted to say the same thing, but I’m 100% out of spoons for talking about misogyny.)

        2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          The One True Church of Ecucatholicism’s being male doesn’t make him wrong: Often it is difficult to know the depth or breadth of another’s knowledge.

      2. D3*

        Also, women should get respect without assembling a portfolio to show to any man who assumes they’re clueless. That’s a ridiculous suggestion. The default should be that they are smart enough and knowledgeable enough to be in the position they are in.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Honest question – would you really assemble a portfolio and do a show and tell to try to get basic professional respect from a peer?

        I think you’d probably just go with option 2 and cut him off. (So would I.)

        And if you wouldn’t think option 1 was reasonable to do yourself, why would you think it’s a reasonable course for a woman?

        1. pancakes*

          +1. And if a coworker brought me a portfolio of other projects they’d worked on out of the blue for show and tell, I would not think well of them! I’d think they were strange and needy. I used to edit demo reels for actors, installation pieces for video artists, etc., and even then I never would’ve tried to get someone who didn’t seem to respect me to watch my own reel.

      4. Barb*

        It’s really annoying that you’re mansplaining mansplaining. You’re being part of the problem and if you truly get it, you should be able to take action by resisting the urge to explain to women what they’re experiencing and why. I don’t get why that urge is so overwhelming but I’m confident it can be overcome.

    5. PX*

      I’ve occasionally gone with “Thanks, I know that” and if I’m having a particularly great day “Thanks, I know that – why are you telling me this?”, so I say feel free to be more blunt.

      Alternatively, search for “mansplaining flowchart” and send him a copy of it :D

    6. RagingADHD*

      The key to not exploding in anger is to speak up sooner rather than later, so you aren’t stewing.

      “Yes, I’m familiar with the background. What’s your suggestion?”

      “Yes, that’s standard. Did you need help with something?”

      “Of course. That’s (Job) 101, you know.”

      “Yes, I read the same article.”

      If you wait too long, these will come out brusque and snippy. If you throw them in there immediately, you can be neutral and move on.

      IME, men (especially the mostly-decent types) are less sensitive to interruptions like this than women are. The ones who are doing it to show off for ego purposes get upset, but the ones who just have unconscious assumptions roll with it, and will probably taper off or quit with the exposition.

    7. Another Academic*

      I can’t help you. I wish I could. I had a colleague professor mansplain me my area of expertise at a conference! He was from MY university. I stood there for the “lecture” and asked, have you ever heard the term “mansplaining” He said yes and continued on speaking.

    8. Tabby Baltimore*

      One of the best suggestions I’ve read on this site is to interrupt the mansplainer at the point in his speech where you can see where he’s headed, and, with a very concerned look on your face, ask him “Is there some reason why you think I don’t know this?”

    9. Alexis Rose*

      Thanks everyone. I agree that I need to say something right away and not let myself stew in it (as I am right now).

      One of the reasons this colleague’s mansplaining REALLY stings is that we started in field one year apart, more than 10 years ago, and we’ve known each other and worked together on and off ever since then, so he really should know my level of expertise already. It makes it frustrating and hurtful–it’s not like we’re new colleagues, in which case I would be happy give someone the benefit of the doubt about not being familiar with my work. A few years ago he got his MA at a Super Name Brand University and ever since then there has been a huge increase in the mansplaining / condescension. :(

      1. Alexis Rose*

        To address some people’s questions–he’s not a bad guy and I don’t think it is intentional. He’s a decent coworker in most other ways. I just don’t know what they put in the water at Super Name Brand University. He used to be someone I really enjoyed working with and but now working with him is just basically acceptable / tolerable (when he’s not mansplaining).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Bob, is there some reason why you are explaining this to me? We did this back in 2012, remember the xyz project? We did this very thing on that project.”
          “Bob, what’s up here. You and I did this one abc project 5 years ago. We know this stuff, Bob.”

      2. allathian*

        How is he in his interactions with other men? As in, is he condescending to men who don’t have a MA or have one from a less prestigious university? If he’s doing it to everyone, it’s tough but at least you’re not alone.

        Have you tried talking to him about it? If you have a good relationship, you could even make a bit of a joke about it: “You know, ever since you got your MA from SBN Uni, you’ve been absolutely insufferable. I trust you to do your job and I ask you to trust me to do mine without trying to explain my job to me. Can you do that?”

  47. Astro*

    I’m a newish manager (who was promoted to now manage my former peers). All of the staff is great, but we have one staff person that I’m not sure what to do with. She has a lot going on personally, including a lot of anxiety and family issues and it personally impacts her a lot. This takes a serious toll on her work. This isn’t an isolated incident or bad period. Since she started over a year ago (at that point she was in a bad relationship, but she is no longer in it, thank goodness), every fight with her boyfriend, a bad day, a headache, etc. results in her missing work or doing inadequate work (that another staff member has to step in for). Additionally, during check-ins and staff meetings in the moment, she’s sharp, doesn’t agree to take on any projects (staff meetings are where we decide who takes the lead on new clients), and doesn’t accept responsibility for her mistakes.

    When I talk to her about the specific pieces of work missed, she explains that she is sorry and gives an excuse about what was happening at the time (it’s been really hard since the break-up; my mom has been leaning on me during her divorce, etc). Then, for a month or so she’s on top of everything, steps up to take on extra work, and does a great job. Inevitably, something comes up and the pattern repeats. With the toll the pandemic, police brutality, and everything else that feels so heavy right now, this is happening a lot more.

    I have been watching her productivity to see if there are very clear, measurable things but that’s difficult in the nature of our work, which is largely group projects between 2-3 staff that I check in on but don’t manage who does which pieces. Monitoring productivity is especially hard to do while we are all working remotely, and I’m trying to be extra flexible during this difficult time.

    I’m not sure where the line is. I want to be understanding and I know that people are people before they are employees, but at what point is it unfair to the rest of the staff and our clients?

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Quick question: are her errors being brought up in staff meetings? Because that isn’t right. Otherwise, ignore the personal issues, clearly, directly tell her what is needed from her, and that she needs to pull her weight. “Susan, it’s an essential part of your job here that A, B, and C be done. I know there have been issues so I am just making it clear that going forward, A, B, and C must be done. Jane and Chris have frequently covered the work however, I need you to do the same.Are you able to commit to this? ” Alison has many scripts for this. And explain directly what she needs to do. Does her job description need changing? Why is there so much extra work? Do you need more staff? Perhaps there needs to be a check sheet that everyone can access and mark off. (Jane has part A, Chris is working on C, now you have B. Deadlines are on the check sheet, etc.)

      1. Astro*

        In terms of your question, her errors are being addressed one-on-one; however, at staff meetings we run through some priority projects and run through our check sheet (just like you mentioned). Did X get done? Yes. Did Y get done? No. Other staff will just say no if they haven’t gotten to it yet- “no, but I’m almost done”; “I plan to have it done today”. When it’s her items (which at these times are almost always not done), the response is “no, I forgot I was supposed to do it”.

        Would you recommend bringing this up in a “good time” or a “bad time”. She is really defensive when I try to give her feedback during her “bad week”?

        To your last question- the nature of our industry is new projects come up routinely and existing projects run their course in 6-9 months, so it’s not unusual to have a constant flow. That said, we do have a serious workload issue that doesn’t impact her as much, because of the nature of her work and I do believe she should be able to stay on top of everything.

        This has been my priority to address since taking over the team. We did have a new person start this week, and I’m working to help everyone learn to triage and prioritize. This can backfire with ‘Susan’ given that she hears me tell others it’s okay to miss a deadline, but it’s a different circumstance than hers.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Bad week or no, in a practical way, it doesn’t matter. Defensive is normal, it’s human. Unfortunately, you’ll need to calmly plow through. Kind, very direct, very clear. ANd yes, maybe a PIP. I understand having one of those weeks, heck, one of those lives. But that isn’t the company’s (or your) problem. You sound terrific and I wish I had a manger like you. You have to let her know, however, life happens and work needs to be done. My sympathies and best of luck.

        2. Observer*

          Don’t get into a back and forth with her. The fact is that she has missed x hard deadlines in the last 6 months. And she’s “forgotten” to start / work on z number of items in that time, etc. At this point, it no longer matters WHY this is happening as it’s an ongoing pattern and she needs to find a way to get a handle on it.

          Don’t worry about “good wee” or “bad week”. You can be sympathetic, but this still needs to change.

    2. valentine*

      You’ve given her far too much slack. It would make sense to fire her now, especially since you’re risking losing anyone who has had to do her work, but I understand if you feel you need to go back and do what you’d ideally have started with long ago and give her a chance to meet the objectives of a PIP.

      Being revolved around and catered to could be nice, but not when it comes at someone’s expense, someone who doesn’t get to have personal stuff interfere with work. (If everyone is not the same race and ethnicity, it’s worth looking at the demographics of who gets to avoid work or do things by halves and who has to do that person’s work to a proper, or even higher, standard.)

      She should not be telling you so much personal stuff and it doesn’t change what you need from her. What did she do when she should’ve been working? Is she fighting/crying/napping on company time? When she gives her excuses, it seems like you leave it there, instead of telling her that, barring incapacitation, such as illness or injury (and, no, a troubled heart doesn’t count!), you need her to volunteer to lead projects x% of the time, meet deadlines, own her mistakes, and tell you how she’ll avoid them. Set metrics for her, and ways to assess her productivity. Her team members and her can give you daily reports about what she did (just the facts, ma’am, no ad-hoc therapy or other excuses about what she didn’t do and why).

    3. PX*

      Curious about your productivity comment. You mention that you can clearly see improvements when she’s doing well vs when she’s not. Whats different? Her mood? Quality of interactions with people? Availability?

      I would say you need to pinpoint those, then either put them in a PIP or have a serious conversation with her. Like Alison says, one of the things you can ask your employees for is consistency so when you next have a conversation with her, point out that there is a pattern of good then poor performance, and you need for her to start maintaining the good performance for much longer periods of time. Remind her of resources available (if there are, EAP etc, any accomodations that you can give that wont impact others too much), but ultimately people need to be able to be held accountable at work eventually.

    4. Observer*

      You need to find a way to measure her performance. It’s definitely possible to do that. Whether it’s how many projects she volunteers for, how many projects she gets done etc.

      But also, you need to treat her behavior to others as a performance issue. Refusing to take responsibility for her errors? Not acceptable. Being sharp with others? It happens to the best of us, but if that’s a pattern, unacceptable. That needs to stop happening.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And adding forgetting to start projects, yikes.

        It sounds like she tries to derail anything you are saying by telling you, “Oh stuff at home….”. You could say something about EAP if your company offers it. Then go back to work stuff. It seems that she does okay for a bit after you speak to her? This means she can do the job. I would point out to her that she needs to do the job well all the time, not just after you speak with her. You shouldn’t have to remind her to focus on her job, which is basically what you are doing.

  48. Anon for Now*

    My former workplace is being real shitty about COVID procedures. I’m still on furlough (high risk), but many of my coworkers are venting to me because we have good relationships. We’re in a state that has things under control, but I’m still very concerned. We work with kids, and none of them have to wear masks. I’m told many/most of the staff are wearing masks that are ill-fitting, and wearing them incorrectly to boot. In addition, because they’re so short staffed, the bosses are doing shady things to hold onto workers. One person just came from vacation at a high-risk state, and our boss told him to lie to our exec about where he came from. Another person was told to work a shift even though her entire friend group has symptoms/are getting tested for COVID, because none of those friends had positive test results yet. I’m really concerned for all my friends and the people we serve. Should I make an anonymous complaint to our board or our governing body?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Lying – yes, report.

      Working with kids after known contact with symptomatic people – yes, report.

      This is dangerous to everyone, including the families of the kids you’re working with.

  49. Frustrated Helpdesker*

    I have been in my job for around six years. Some of my colleagues are newer but have still been at the company for over 12 months so are au fait with our systems and procedures.

    I work in a helpdesk/advisory type role and I have created user guides for most issues staff would face day to day. I am open to feedback and happy to add or amend anything in the guides.

    My question is around how can I push back on staff approaching me for help when the information they need is in the guide, or isn’t in the guide but is pretty much common sense? I want them to trust their own initiative.

    Personally when I have an issue I need help with, I frame it to my manager as: ‘I have a problem, this is how I would deal with it, do you agree or would you do something else?’, so that she knows I have at least tried before coming to her.

    The others don’t really do that, they just present their issue and want you to give them the answer.

    Is there a method I can use to gently encourage them to use the guidance, trust their own decisions and think things through before approaching me?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The others don’t really do that, they just present their issue and want you to give them the answer.

      “What have you tried so far?” is a good way to respond. Puts the onus on them to troubleshoot.

      If they get stuck, “Have you tried Googling the error?” or “Have you looked at the user guides?”

      Ask questions that get them back on track and make them own the process.

    2. Astro*

      As others have said, I’d start with “That’s on Page 3 of the Guide” and escalate to “Have you looked at the guide for the answer yet?” and if it’s still a problem directly tell them that you want them to use the resources they have before approaching you.

      If it’s easiest to just ask you instead of doing their homework, they’ll probably just keep doing that.

    3. Frustrated Helpdesker*

      Thanks, all. It’s difficult to find the balance between actually helping people with issues and giving people the answers because they can’t be bothered to read the guides or think it through themselves. Sometimes it’s easier and faster to just give them the answer but I know in the long run that will only feed the endless cycle.

      I’ll try all of the methods suggested, hopefully things will improve! Thanks again.

  50. cg*

    What do I do at work when someone creeps me out? They technically haven’t done anything bad, I just feel nervous being around them — they’re an older man in their 50s or so. Like he’ll look at me or talk to me in a way that just… is creepy? It’s hard to explain.
    I guess how do I handle these alarm bells professionally? Like sometimes he’ll lean in a bit too close and I feel kind of stuck. For context I’m a woman. I’m also a lesbian and I find with older guys they get inappropriate when they hear that — again not all, but enough of them. While I don’t run around yelling I’m a lesbian my department does know, so I’m nervous if he hears about it.

    1. Notapirate*

      1. Don’t be alone with him. Loop in a coworker friend to help run interference on that front. That way whatever happens you have witnesses.

      2. Be rude. He leans in too close, you are maybe thinking it would be rude to then take a step away, or get up from your desk, but go ahead and be rude. Put your arms out, like on your hips so your elbows can give you some space. Also try picking up talking with lots of wide hand gestures. Force some space. If that doesn’t work, flat out say it: “Hey Bob, you’re in my personal space, I need you to step back”. If you don’t have a work reason to be talking, develop a need to go to restroom, or kitchen, or just take a lap if he tries to stop and talk.

      You can’t go to HR with a feeling, but feelings tend to be your subconscious picking up on behavioral clues. So stay on your guard.

    2. juliebulie*

      If you DON’T want to address his behavior bluntly: when he leans in, raise your voice and ask if he has trouble hearing you.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you alone in this? Any other women whom he also creeps out? Maybe you can strategize together?

      1. cg*

        Everybody else doing the work we do is either male (closer to my age) or women over 30 in higher ranking positions. It’s a new task that came with COVID, so pretty much everybody is taking shifts doing this task (temp checks, deliveries).

        1. valentine*

          So he is targeting a young female peer. You deserve to feel safe at work.

          What if you say, “Six feet, Bob”?
          Bob: Ha ha, no. We are great friends/I’m a good guy/*Nixon peace sign* I am not a creep.
          You: Nevertheless, six feet, Bob.

          I hope you don’t mean you have to take his temperature. If so, if your work means you have to be within arm’s reach of him, it’s time to tell someone he’s getting too close and he’s not just a close talker, as he manages to keep his distance from men and higher-ranking women. And push back hard on anyone who says, “Ha ha, it’s good you’re a lesbian. Nothing can happen.” Propriety doesn’t depend on mythical reciprocation.

          1. Buni*

            ‘Nevertheless’ is a great word that I use a lot in contexts such as these*. It accurately conveys ‘I heard you, I understood you, it makes no difference’.

            *Admittedly about 50% of my usage is with small children, but they are the absolute masters of coming up with excuses for any situation no matter what you said.

    4. RagingADHD*

      There’s a couple of posts on here that are good about dealing with coworkers who stare or lurk.

      The main thing is to call it out calmly and quickly in the moment.

      “Bob, please stop staring at me.”

      “Bob, back up. You’re in my face.”

      Flat, undramatic, a “knock-it-off” vibe.

      Most of the time, this works, because most people are embarrassed when you call their bs. He may just stop, or he may get huffy but also stop. Both of these are fine.

      There’s a chance he may persist or double down, in which case search out those posts, because there’s some good advice. I think one was about a boss whose employee had a crush, and one was about a coworker getting in their personal space. There are probably others.

      Unfortunately, this is a pretty common problem.

      1. Observer*

        The other advantage to doing this is that if he really is a creep, you go from “a feeling” to something concrete. You asked him for *reasonable thing* and he’s refusing to do that thing is different than “it got my spidey sense tingling.”

    5. pancakes*

      If he’s leaning in too close, you could try “I need a little more space, please.” I haven’t had to use that in a work situation, but I’ve used it on people standing much too close while waiting on line and it seems to work well.

  51. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had the shortest interview of my life this week! I think it was 20 minutes, during which the hiring manager and I traded colleague’s names and he said, “Well, you check all these boxes” So it was short but sweet. I’m waiting to schedule with the people I would be working most closely with, but if that goes well, I think I’ll get the gig. Please cross your fingers for me!

    It’s a contract job where I’ll be a W2 employee of a staffing agency. I have never done this before and am comfortable with the financial and PTO implications, but culturally… anything contractors can tell me about being the hourly contractor on a team of full-time exempt staff?

    1. nep*

      I don’t have an answer to your question…just popping in to say well done and I hope you get the gig.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I was that person for the first two years of my current role. I was treated the same as FTEs in that I wasn’t excluded from meetings because I was on contract, included in all work events and larger-scale town hall meetings. Some companies exclude their contract workers from those larger-scale town hall meetings and the like since it’s meant for those who are directly employed by the company.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That’s great news! I’ve never been a contractor but my company employs/I work with a lot of contractors. Our contractors aren’t included in things like all-company or all-department meetings or events, and some different rules apply to them than employees. For example we can work “summer hours” which is 4 9 hour days and a half day on Fridays, but our contractors don’t have that option (I think it’s stupid but no one asked me). My immediate team seems to treat contractors like any other team member, and that’s what I’ve observed more broadly. I hope that it works out well for you!

    4. PX*

      Good luck!

      Having been a contractor in a previous really depends on the company, so maybe thats a question you can ask actually? In my case I was mostly treated like a regular employee, but time tracking and certain things regarding sick leave, PTO (for example) were different. The one I remember the most was not being able to access certain parts of the intranet or get certain emails, and that caused the occasional awkwardness (my boss would be like, did you see that email?! And I’d be like…no, not on that distribution list. And then he’d just forward it to me because he didnt really follow rules.)

    5. Ronda*

      I did it for a while.
      just ask the boss what is expected.

      since you are now an hourly employee…. make sure you know what hours they want you to work….
      ie if team is working late are you also supposed to? cause extra money has to come from company.

      what stuff do they want to include you in with team and what stuff is employee only? my boss generally wanted me to go to all employee company meetings cause they wanted the room to be full :) I wasnt really interested in them. Also included me in team lunch, etc.

      Lots of places really do treat contractors like employees (without benefits)… they just are not ready to go thru the HR processes to get a new position approved, or want to try someone out before making them an employee.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Watch out for different holiday schedules between staffing company and client. I got burned on that one early in my consulting career.

      Also, if office is dismissed early, you probably can’t bill for those lost hours. Likewise, long lunch or other department outings probably aren’t billable. (Though you could argue back, if business is discussed. And the consulting firm would sometimes count it as business development or client relations non-billable but paid time.)

      I’m not saying not to take the gig, these are just little things that can sneak up on you.

  52. Notapirate*

    What are you thoughts on using work laptop outside of work for personal use?

    Backstory: personal laptop has been used last 4 months as WFH computer and it was elderly before that. Work was able to get me laptop just this week. It’s so much faster and efficicent (it boots up almost instantly, my laptop takes 10 minutes). Now wondering if it would be okay to use in the evenings for Netflix etc or if that wouldn’t be kosher.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I mean, I would generally say work computers are for work, but I know for a fact many people don’t use their work laptops for only work. I’d say it’s probably fine as long as whatever you’re doing on your work laptop isn’t something you’d be embarrassed about if someone at work found out. I highly doubt anyone would raise a stink and say “How dare you stream Netflix on your work laptop?!” That said, I don’t know your workplace norms.

      Also keep in mind that while most IT folks don’t have the time and energy to monitor everything you do, your workplace does have the right to monitor what’s happening on its own equipment.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I would be concerned about some level of monitoring as well. I know that my IT dept. keeps logs of all of web use. I doubt that they are actively monitoring it, but they may be looking for usage patterns, such as lots of streaming use .

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I use my work laptop for personal stuff all the time. A few years ago I went to DC to visit friends and worked from my company’s office there on Friday and used my work laptop for Netflix movies over the weekend when I had down time. It’s never been a problem.

    3. Xavier Desmond*

      Ask! Email your manager and just explain what you have done here and you’ll get an answer.

      I would avoid porn though lol

    4. Jules the First*

      Check your IT policy – mine prohibits netflix etc, even outside working hours, but things like the Office package are totally fine.

    5. valentine*

      Don’t do it. Is it possible for them to pay you damages for having used your personal computer for work, and you could then use that to buy a new personal computer?

      1. RagingADHD*


        How do you suppose 4 months of WFH would damage a laptop?

        And how much money do you think 4 months of wear and tear would be worth, that OP could buy a new laptop with it?

    6. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      I wouldn’t.

      Checking headlines (or even AAM!) for a few minutes from time to time during the working day is one thing. Using your work laptop as a personal laptop for a stretch either before or after the working day is quite different.

    7. Observer*

      If your work is high sensitivity, don’t. I would hope that if your work is high sensitivity, your work would not have allowed you to use your personal computer, but a lot of places are not as careful as they should be and this was magnified by Covid. But, you don’t want traces of your personal stuff on a computer that has a good chance of needing to be examines by someone later.

      By the same token, make sure that anything you do on that computer is something you would be ok with your boss, your grandmother, your local news outlet and an national news outlet seeing. Because someone almost certainly will see traces of some of what you have done. Mostly, no one will care, but you never know who will say what to whom (or who will forward something.)

      Otherwise, find out what the expectations are in your office.

    8. juliebulie*

      If you use a VPN connection, be careful what websites you go to when you’re connected.

  53. cmcinnyc*

    My company is generally handling COVID well, with a real regard for safety. But I am noticing that the longer the WFH situation goes on, the worse the boundaries are getting. We have a very practical flex policy that lets people work odd hours–a necessity considering schools are closed and camps aint happening–which is available to all, not just parents. That’s good! And because we’re essential workers we have been SLAMMED at times and that was completely understandable. Some people have routinely ben working 7 days a week for months now. On one hand there’s a recognition that this can’t go on forever, scheduling 10pm calls or Sunday afternoon Zooms. On the other hand things have slid into this zone where setting a stop time or taking days off is not really respected anymore. Our work is of a nature where there’s always more you could do, but in normal times, you say “now I’m going home” or “I don’t take meetings before 8am/after 10pm(!)” I am worried that this genie is not going to go back in the bottle. I have no interest in being permanently available. I’m good at setting professional boundaries, but I feel myself increasingly out of step. Anyone else dealt with this?

    1. PX*

      Personally no, but thats because I have generally always been good at maintaining boundaries.

      Is it just you or a team or the whole company going through this? How senior are you? Do you have the power to implement change yourself?

      You’ve framed it quite well and I would take this to those involved (your team or manager) and frame it the same way in a discussion and ask about “resetting” some norms if possible. I’m bad with scripts, but mine would be something like: “due to pandemic and WFH, a lot of us have lost structure/boundaries. Can we discuss this (as a group?) and try to re-establish/go back to better boundaries such as [insert sensible work hours here]?”

      If its just you out of a large team and your manager wont back you up? ….oof. Dont know what to do there other than quietly maintain boundaries and hope it doesnt come back to bite you too hard.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        The whole company is going through this and I have no standing to mandate any changes but I do have standing to bring it up to more than one senior team leader. Thinking over your script, I realize that a) yes, I can say that but b) WHEN? I think that’s the heart of the problem–no one is truly sure when we’re “done.” NYC is doing so much than we were 3 months ago! But most of the country is hitting outbreak status, and that’s going to loop back around at us. Maybe August? Maybe I can bring it up sooner? That’s the part to mull.

        1. PX*

          I doubt there is ever going to be a perfect time so why not now? Use the public holiday as an excuse of how it “reminded” you that you needed a break because you’d been working so hard so you need to reset your hours.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I used to have a manager who worked all hours, and for a time she expected that I would be available most of the time too. I had to explicitly tell her “I have personal commitments which mean I am not available after 5 PM most days.” I also invented weekend commitments and made a policy that if I needed to work irregular hours, I’d need at least two weeks’ notice (“to change my plans”).

      None of these commitments were real! I just needed a regular work schedule so I wouldn’t go insane.

      1. Web Crawler*

        For the record, you had a personal commitment to yourself, and I applaud you for it.

    3. Notapirate*

      I went ahead and just stopped replying to emails after 6pm. Even if I was working (making up my own lost time in the day) I don’t send until the next morning business hours. I log out of the Teams/Zoom accounts then too.

  54. Emma*

    I am very seriously considering leaving my (stable, reasonably well paying) job to re-train as a teacher next year (i.e. September 2021) and am wondering whether anyone has experience of doing this, or any thoughts you could share. I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, but allowed myself to be talked out of it and then had invested so much in my current career. Also, (without wishing to sound obnoxious), I am good at what I do so I have a role where I feel secure and confident, and I enjoy many aspects of my role.
    My reasons for changing are varied – I enjoy coaching, mentoring and training people. I enjoy spending time with young people, talking to them about what they care about, and watching them grow into more independent people. I care about education and think it is so important for providing kids with opportunities, building equality, etc. Part of the attraction is doing something that I think is very meaningful.
    I have been looking into various teacher training options. I have also been looking for opportunities to volunteer in education settings, both to gain experience and to test my own commitment.
    There are a number of things I worry about – would I actually be any good as a classroom teacher? I would take a substantial salary cut. I might train and then not get a job and not really have the option of going back to where I am now. I also know teachers can face a lot of challenges.
    Sorry, this has turned into a very long post – I would be grateful for any thoughts from anyone who has done something similar, spent time in education, etc.

    1. VelociraptorAttack*

      One thing I would note is to consider the impact of student teaching if you are in the United States.

      My husband left his well-paying job that he enjoyed in order to go back to school. We knew it would be difficult while he was in school but it was worth it. Then we had our son and he had health issues so suddenly student teaching was no longer an option. There was no way we would be able to afford all of his medical issues, plus our mortgage on my salary alone.

      It was really, really difficult for him and he did change his major so that at least he still finished a degree but it wasn’t the initial plan. Student teaching is difficult when you’re a nontraditional student (and some traditional students as well, I’m sure) because not only do you not get paid, there is a lot of pressure at some (likely not all) schools to not work another job with consequences if you do.

    2. Another Academic*

      I have been a classroom teacher for 15 years. Do you know any teachers? Do you know what age group that you are interested in? Do you have an Ed degree. Are you prepared to get one? When I went from corporate to teaching in my thirties I took a pay cut. It was hard to make ends meet and for many years I had part time gigs on the weekends. Prep and evaluations etc are on your own time. Many after school and early morning meetings, team meetings, staff meetings. Your time is not your own, think vacations (always when school is out) the myth of the summer break- prepping for curriculum, lesson plans, continuing education credits. Classroom management is a big part of the job. No one tells you that if you are out sick, you have to have a file of sub plans (that no one uses)

      Covid times add an extra layer of uncertainty. Wrangling 28 ten-year-olds on Zoom is the 8th level of hell.

      1. Emma*

        Thank-you for replying to me. I do not currently know any teachers – I need to work on my education network.
        I would need to go back and get an Ed degree, I have been looking into application requirements, schools, fees, etc. I think I am particularly interested in teaching late-elementary through early-secondary school students (around ages 12-16).
        I am pretty used to long hours – I spent years working in an environment where it was not unheard of to leave the office after midnight (sometimes every day for weeks). I realise, however, that you have to be “on” in a classroom setting in a different way to an office setting.
        Classroom management does worry me – it seems like one of those critical skills you cannot really test until you are already committed.

        1. MV*

          I retrained as a teacher. Alternate route, due to an injury. I needed less than a year because I already had an MS. I was in a “shortage” area (science). It’s been eight years. I’ve had the opportunity to teach at many middle and high schools in multiple districts in one state.

          First, there is no teacher shortage. There are plenty of teachers. It is more correctly termed as a slow motion teacher walk out. Your program will take two years, which likely means you will be looking for work at the height of budget cuts. I’ve been recently interviewing for jobs with 50 qualified candidates.

          Second, there are poor boundaries in education. Not those between staff and students but those between teachers and work. My contracted hours are about 40 hours per week. It is not possible to do what is expected in 40 hours per week. Good admin recognizes this. Good admin is not common. Openings are not common in schools with good admin. Teachers as a group are very poor at pushing back at unreasonable expectations.

          Third, I would recommend a program that gets you in the classroom as much as possible. There are differences in programs – it matters whether the faculty have taught recently, whether good theory is taught, whether practical skills are taught, the programs rep with k12 schools. But realize that you will not be a good teacher the first year. Too much to learn and process.

          Finally, if you like teaching, there are many ways to do that in business without going into K12. I enjoy what I do but my job has caused me harm. I see the harm it causes others. I wouldn’t recommend someone go into teaching.

      2. CatMintCat*

        I have 6 year olds. That may be the 9th level of hell.

        I also went into teaching in my 30s, doing my degree at that point (I hadn’t been to Uni before that). Australian teachers are comparatively well paid (very well paid compared to many US salaries I read about), so that wasn’t an issue. The time factor can be an issue. Yes, school is in from 9 to 3, but I am regularly at school 8 to 5 and take work home. We are currently on winter break, and I have a 30-item long list of things to do before we go back ( and I’m sure I’ve forgotten things). I will be working every day.

        I love my job, but it isn’t an easy gig, by any means.

    3. Disco Janet*

      I have done something similar. I’d always been told I would make a good teacher, but my mom is a teacher and as a rebellious teen there was no way I wanted to go into the same line of work as my mom. When I eventually changed my mind I was met with a lot of “I told you so” type statements from my friends, haha. My reasons were similar to yours – I enjoyed training and mentoring people at my job, and wanted to get into something where I could make a difference for teens, especially those going through a hard time like I did in high school. I also love literature and writing. So after giving birth to my kids, I decided not to return to my old job, and instead returned to college to become certified as a secondary English teacher (AKA high school).

      Now, since my mom is a teacher, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. You don’t have that, so I’ll do a quick break down here.
      – If you plan on having children someday, it’s great having (mostly) the same schedule as them.
      – I do really love working with teens and making a difference in their lives!
      – Since I’m secondary, I get to talk about my favorite subject all day long. I’m one of those nerds who even gets genuinely excited about things like semicolons.

      – All the government BS. There are constantly new mandates passed by the state that will force you to focus on things that you will know really aren’t benefiting your students – but if you want to keep your job, you have to do it anyways. For example, having to do extensive test prep with all of my students for the SAT when I know that some of them are going into industries where their SAT score will literally never matter. But the state/district uses those test scores to decide if I am doing my job and if my school is a good one, so the cycle goes on.
      – All the paperwork. OMG so much paperwork. And you can’t do paperwork and teach at the same time, which leads me to my next point…
      – Expect to take work home with you, at least for the first several years. You’ll hear from people who don’t do this, but know that they are the outliers – the large majority of teachers spend many of their nights and weekends planning and logging their lessons, creating content, and grading. People joke about the summers off, but I definitely do enough extra work during the school year to make up for it! I hope this decreases over the years as I come up with more efficient systems and gain the ability to reuse old lessons – I’ve only been teaching for two years.
      – It can be emotionally exhausting, especially when you are a teacher building close connections to students who are going through a tough time and are in need of mentoring. I guess this is a pro and a con – it’s very rewarding, but I could not have anticipated how emotionally exhausted I often was coming home from my first teaching job (with inner-city Detroit teens, for context – many of them were dealing with very heavy stuff, and I’m the kind of person who just can’t switch off the work part of my brain when I come home.)

      And neither a pro nor a con, but just something to note – classroom management is everything, and it is not taught enough in any certification or college coursework. I took a class CALLED classroom management, and still did not feel that it prepared me for actually managing a classroom. This is one of the major things that tends to make or break whether people enjoy teaching. No matter how much you love mentoring teens one on one, or how much you love the subject you’re teaching, if you don’t build the ability to handle 30+ kids with a firm but gentle hand, you’re in for a miserable time. Read as many books on it as you can if this is the path you choose!

      I love my job and am passionate about it…but honestly, reading your post I am not sure I would recommend it. For me, I make about the same as I did at my old job, and I did not really enjoy that field. You say that you enjoy many aspects of your work, sound proud of it, and it is well paying. It sounds like this would be a risky and expensive switch, and of course only you can decide if it’s worth it. But hopefully some of this information is helpful as you try to make a decision.

      1. Emma*

        Thank-you for putting together such a detailed and thoughtful response, it is really helpful.

    4. MsOctopus*

      Hi! I basically did this! (For reference, I work in a public school in the Northeastern US in elementary education—depending on where you are and what your goals are, your experience may differ!) A few things: Getting some experience in a classroom is definitely a good idea! Managing a classroom is a particular skill set, and not for everyone. Same with interacting with parents, dealing with administrators, handling the demands of local and state requirements/curricula/testing. There are tons of ways to teach, though— in districts like mine, we have coaches and interventionists that work with kids in small groups or one on one, and specialists that focus on certain subjects and enrichment areas. If it’s something you might be interested in, special education and bilingual education are subfields that are on the rise. I will say that it’s a dicey moment for education—distance learning is throwing the whole field into kind of a tailspin, and it seems likely that teaching will look pretty different and be extremely challenging for the indefinite future. Many districts have also had to lay off teachers and staff due to the pandemic so it’s looking to be a bit of a tricky job market in the next few years. All that said, I love it! The money may suck, but it’s rewarding, endlessly engaging, and kids are awesome—genuinely, the hardest part of quarantine for me was not getting to see them every day.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks so much for replying to me. I really do find the input helpful as I am trying to think this through before (possibly) taking the leap.

    5. Ronda*

      I am not a teacher, but a young friend just out of college is doing teach for america. she is not required to have teacher education before, but will be attending teaching certificate program during her time in teach for america.

      I looked at their website and they also hire job changers. here is the link

      If you are unsure if this is the long term job for you…. maybe this kind of program is a 2 year test of this job.

      I have another friend (mechanical engineer) in his 50s and he has been the advisor for the robotics team at the local high school. So he is mentoring kids in his favorite subject. The principle and the teacher advisor wanted to hire him…. but I think he wants to make more money than that. (his company also sponsored the team so no problems with time off for it) This robotics competition goes from about Jan to Jun so a big commitment, but not year round.
      Perhaps your job would also be interested in sponsoring community involvement via you at some program at local school. The friend has been the advisor since the inception, so it might have been his idea to start up this team. Maybe there is something you would have expertise in and can start up if it does not exist.

    6. PollyQ*

      I would talk to a LOT of teachers, both current & former — as many as you can. Good old “what color is your parachute” informational interviews. I don’t know anyone who career-switched into teaching, but I do know quite a few people who went into teaching more or less right out of college, and many of them ended up quitting and doing something else entirely. (Including my sister & BIL) I’ve heard that something like 1/3 of all teachers leave the profession in their first 7 years. Volunteeering sounds like a great idea to help you see what the nitty-gritty of teaching is like.

    7. Dumpster Fire*

      I moved from software consulting to high school math teaching at the age of 39, which was 18 years ago. I was pretty good at what I did before, and there weren’t many of us who could do it; but I always knew that I’d end up teaching. I didn’t know what, where, or when, but eventually it was going to happen. This was just as NCLB was coming into play, so math teachers were in high demand; my job and engineering degrees meant that I had a lot of “real world” understanding/experience, which was at the time seen as a big advantage. (It helps a lot, in terms of getting and keeping a job, if you’re in a high-demand subject area. At this point, a lot of less-critical subjects are being reduced or eliminated.) My income took a factor-of-4 hit during the first year I was a teacher, but now I’m up to a salary that most people would agree is pretty good for a teacher.

      Here’s what I would say: you have to really really want to be a teacher. Don’t do it because you want to help people, because you like kids, because other people say you’ll be a good teacher. Those are good add-ons, but YOU have to WANT to be a teacher. Too many people think they can use it as a fall-back (“well, if law school doesn’t work out, I can always teach”…. no, you can’t. In fact, the people who I know who have said things like that generally CAN’T teach.) But if you want to be a teacher, there’s nothing better!

      It’s hard, it’s really hard. It’s different stress than my previous job, less overall stress, but not much less. During normal times, I’m at school at 6:45 in the morning; usually home by about 4, working again by 7 PM until 10 or so. I try to take one day off on the weekend but that doesn’t always work. And don’t get me started on parents….absentee, helicopter, students who live with siblings or aunts, parents who are legally not allowed to be given information. These are the kids who need us most (even though they might not realize it).

      I was fortunate that I already had a grad degree, so I started off a little higher on the salary scale and – more importantly – I didn’t have to get a grad degree within the first couple years.

      Despite all the challenges/issues/frustrations (and the concerns about the upcoming school year), becoming a teacher is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks, that is really helpful. I am in a different industry, but it sounds like I am in a somewhat similar place as you were career-wise before you switched.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I am not a teacher, but I do know many.

      My advice is to find a way to talk with teachers about their profession. Make sure that you have a good idea of what being a teacher is like. Teaching is a career that has a lot of new people leaving the job/profession within just a few years. I would hate to see you invest time and money and then quit the profession in a few years. I hope some of the teachers at AAM can give you ideas for connecting with teachers.

      Can you find a program that is part time and/or evenings so that you can still work?

      You also mention the pay cut to change careers. Can you do a budget that shows you that you can live the life you want on a teacher’s pay? I realize that teachers make it work, but are you willing to adjust your lifestyle so that you can be happy on a teacher’s pay?

      Good luck.

      1. Problem solved*

        To add to what others have already said:

        I have a friend with a PhD in Chemistry who decided she wanted to teach K12. She went back to school to fufill the requirements in our state, spent a year sacrificing her weekends to study for exams, and when she finally started teaching, immediately realized it’s not for her (she still loves the classroom experience, it’s everything else others mentioned that she hated). She is now retraining to become a physical therapist. She is lucky that her husband earns enough to support both while she figures things out, but there were many sacrifices to be made, including not being able to afford buying a house.

        Be very sure you understand what you are getting into. Every time I watch a movie featuring teachers, I get jealous until I remind myself of my friend’s experience.

      2. Emma*

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. I do think I need to practice living on a smaller budget. I have been cutting back substantially, but think I need to be stricter (e.g. “paying” myself a teacher’s salary by immediately transferring the rest of my pay cheque to savings each month). I realise I can write up a budget, but I may over-estimate my willingness/enthusiasm for living on that budget without actually experiencing it.

    9. Diatryma*

      A bit late:

      If you can, sign up to work as a substitute teacher or paraeducator. This will give you some idea of what classrooms and curriculum are like today vs last time you were in one, and you’ll get to see a wider range of classrooms than you do in student teaching. It also builds a lot of connections, and while the pay is sub-food-stamps, the experience is great. Especially if you expect to have any interaction with special ed, which you should, because everything that’s useful in a special ed classroom is useful in a gen ed classroom at some point.

      Also, consider your tolerance for bureaucratic bullcrap. I am not a teacher, though I love the work and am good at it, because SO MANY MEETINGS. And so much administrative nonsense. And so much trying to figure out how to navigate a system set against you.

      Also also, 90% of the students you get won’t be interested in anything you’re doing; they just want to get their work done and get out, and only the getting out matters, especially if they’re older. You may want to look into workshops and clubs to find people who want to be there vs teaching people who really don’t– at your last big work training, how many of your peers were there to be mentored and transformed?

  55. juliebulie*

    Does anyone here do any kind of Modbus RTU documentation?

    Modbus RTU has a long-standing convention of referring to devices as Masters and Slaves. That’s the official terminology. I’ve been complaining about this for years, and for the most part I have been able to avoid using these grody terms despite being corrected by SMEs (I use “station” instead of “slave”), but other writers are more obedient than I am.

    So, we’ve got some Slaves in our documentation. And now, finally, the company is asking us to “address this.” However the replacement terms were primary/secondary and nobody thought that was very good.

    Modbus TCP (not the same thing as RTU) uses client/server terminology instead, but some people hesitate to embrace that, and also there is some disagreement as to whether the “slave” is the client or the server. (I say it’s the server.)

    It seems we are still a long way from figuring this out. We need to pick something, not waste too much time dissecting it, and implement it ASAP.

    I googled for some alternatives and either I’m just not good at googling, or we’re truly the only people who are trying to deal with this.

      1. juliebulie*

        Parent/child has already been rejected, so mother/daughter won’t fly.
        I think source/terminal’s pretty good, plus I believe it’s accurate. Thanks!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Spouse’s team is using primary/secondary, or coordinator/worker.

      1. juliebulie*

        OK, good to know someone else is using primary/secondary. I didn’t think that was a thing, but maybe it is.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          What’s the reason for the objection? It seems pretty straightforward language to me.

          1. juliebulie*

            There’s nothing really “primary” or “secondary” about them. I would have a hard time remembering which is which, and why. “Secondary” sounds like a backup device to me, or a supplement – something that isn’t as important as the “primary” device. In our context that doesn’t make any sense.

            But it’s still better than master/slave, so if that’s what they want to go with, I won’t fight it.

        2. Observer*

          I doubt that one is going to catch on because in most cases it’s just not accurate. Primary / secondary is actually a pair that is in use in many areas and has a meaning that is different.

    2. Sleeplessinseattle*

      Leader/follower is the accepted replacement. For those that don’t know – that’s not specific to Modbus TCP. Distributed systems that have to pick one computer to be the undisputed leader call it the “master” and the others (who have to send all decisions that require coordination across the computers to the leader) the “slave.” There is a movement to ditch the terminology, but agree on a new one (since “master/slave” is a term of art and not as easy to change as you might think) and the most agreed-upon new terminology has been “leader/follower.” This aids in searching for help on problems specific to coordination between computers in the system.

      1. Sleeplessinseattle*

        Meant “Modbus RTU”, not “Modbus TCP”. And client/server is a separate term of art used to refer to something quite different and more specific, which is why Modbus TCP uses it.

        1. juliebulie*

          Interesting. I don’t see our devices as either leaders or followers. On the other hand, I don’t see them as slaves or masters either! Leader/Follower is much better. Thanks!

  56. mgguy*

    So, a question on something that happened with a job my fiancé applied for that would have been a promotion at her current work and found out this week she didn’t get.

    This is 100% her battle if she wants to pursue it(she doesn’t and is instead looking to jump ship), but I’m curious about if something in the hiring process skirts with illegal.

    Short summary-she is a nurse, and currently working in a hospital as a floor nurse. An assistant manager position came open at the first of the year, and she decided to at least try and apply for it. There were 3 applicants-all internal. By my admittedly very biased opinion, she is the most qualified-one has been there less than a year, was asked to serve as the interim assistant, and has been a miserable failure. The other has been there ~2 years and is good at her job, but has no leadership experience. My fiancé has been there 5 years and regularly takes on leadership responsibilities like charge nurse and serving on/leading various committees and other management-sanctioned floor events.

    When telling her that she didn’t get the position, her manager made the statement(paraphrasing, especially since I wasn’t there)-“I think you’re the most qualified, but in your interview you came across like you were looking at this as a way to advance your career, and that’s not what I’m looking for.” That seemed a ludicrous statement to me(why else do you apply for a higher level position than your current one) but it is what it is and the manager certainly has the discretion to pick based on whatever non-discriminatory(however seemingly asinine) things they want.

    What DOES concern be about possibly skirting legality, though, is a one-on-one conversation her manager initiated with her a couple of weeks ago. Basically the manger said that they don’t think the applicants understand what all the role involves and how much time is involved in it(said to someone already regularly working a lot of 45-50 hour weeks) and “how difficult it would be for someone getting married and especially planning on having children soon.” and that “someone who is single would probably find it a lot easier. The manager obviously knows of our upcoming wedding. The other two applicants are single, although of course that’s still an assumption since married does not automatically equal children and unmarried does not automatically equal no children.

    I may be reading too much into that, but it sounds like the manager’s concern from that separate conversation is “She may be pregnant soon even though she’s not now”. My fiancé and I have spent a lot of time picking apart that conversation, but of course there’s no way of knowing the meaning of it without getting into the manager’s head.

    Still, though, pregnancy is plainly and clearly covered as a reason that can’t be used as a hiring or continued employment decision. Is “possibly soon going to be pregnant” a(legally) valid reason for not hiring?

    Again, I’m asking this more as musings and gathering information, especially as even though my fiancé loves what she does, she also has been moving forward in a few rounds of interviews with a a different hospital that would have her as a clinic manager(and the regular 8-5 schedule she wants in addition to being a career and pay boost).

    1. juliebulie*

      Well, it’s illegal to discriminate based on marital status and reproductive plans, but you would need to have some real proof (like an email) that illustrates your fiancee’s manager’s bias in favor of single and childless women.

      But you already have all the proof you need that this manager sucks, so I’m glad your fiancee is interviewing at a different hospital!

      1. PollyQ*

        You might (or might not) need real proof to take into court, but a discussion like that can, and IMO, should, be reported to HR. Obviously that’s up to McGuy’s wife, but I would strongly urge her to report it. It’s an outrageous and illegal POV for someone doing hiring and/or promotions.

        (NB: Discrimination by marital status alone isn’t illegal everywhere in the US, but discriminating against women because they might get pregnant is.)

    2. valentine*

      It is discriminatory to assign demerits based on the truth of your engagement and the fantasy that a baby will follow. I think the manager is jealous or otherwise feels inadequate, hence chastising GF for wanting to advance, when that is good for the employer.

      It’s worth an HR complaint, even if it’s on her way out.

      1. mgguy*

        Thanks for the comments.

        I thought it was HR worthy also(even as mentioned there’s nothing in writing) but there again that’s 100% her battle to fight and when I mentioned it to her she thought my assessment might be correct but understandably doesn’t want to rock the boat(if she did get the job, she’d be working all the time with a manger who has in multiple ways proven herself both dysfunctional and now toxic, but thinks she can still leave now with a good reference from her) and I certainly won’t push her on it.

        I thought to that it was discriminatory. BTW, we both want children and if it’s in our control it would probably be not too long after we’ve settled in to being married/moving to a bigger house and building up a bit more savings. Even then, though, for biological reasons or whatever else, I know enough to know that nothing is certain as to whether it will be 9 months after our wedding, never, or hopefully something in-between those two. Whatever the case, though, THAT is none of her manager’s business, especially with the implied assumption.

        From what else I’ve gleaned, apparently the manager is the sole bread winner in her home despite having two adult children and a husband, so her views may be somewhat colored. It doesn’t excuse what’s going on, though.

        1. juliebulie*

          “I think you’re trying to get this job just so you can advance your career” is a new one on me. As if the manager didn’t take on her current role for the same reason. (Or maybe it was “just” for the money. lol)

          1. mgguy*

            When she told me that, I think my response was “WTF is that supposed to me”(not abbreviated)-which is saying something since I rarely cuss at all. My fiancé just said “Yeah, that was my reaction, even though I held my tongue and didn’t say it.”

            BTW, the “money” thing came up in previous conversation about “starting a family” with the manager saying “You know, the pay isn’t as good as you think it is because you won’t get overtime.” HR had previously said that if she got it, they would look at her last paycheck from last year(not her 36 hour a week scheduled x hourly rate, but the total amount including including O/T, shift bonuses, etc) and add somewhere in the ballpark of 3-5% to that to calculate an offer, so it would have still been a raise.

          2. ..Kat..*

            Nursing managers never do it for the money. Staff nurses are nonexempt. Managers are exempt. Nurse managers work a lot more hours and make less money than staff nurses.

  57. UpSchittsCreek*

    Hey all,
    I need some positive vibes. I was furloughed from my job in April and it’s been extended. But I have been going on interviews. I interviewed at 3 places and 2 of them did reference checks. One has offered me the job but the other job that I really want I am waiting to hear back on. They did reference checks on me this week and I know because of the holiday I won’t hear anything back until Monday (hopefully!). The other job I had 2 interviews (virtual and then in person). They were really excited about me and they loved my resume/experience. I need to let the place that offered me the job an answer by Monday. What do I tell the other job if I don’t hear back by Monday? Should I reach out to them to follow up? To let them know I received another offer? I don’t want to screw anything up.

    1. Emma*

      I think you should absolutely reach out to them – reach out to them today, or early on Monday, ask about their timeline and let them know that you are asking because you have a deadline to accept another offer. They probably cannot accelerate their timeline significantly, but if you are their preferred candidate and this is an issue of chasing someone to sign off on something on Monday instead of Tuesday or Wednesday, or following up with a reference today instead of tomorrow, it is useful for them to have that information so they can act accordingly. If I was about to lose my best candidate by not moving quickly enough, I would want to know.
      I think you can be clear but brief – explain how interested you are, but that you have a firm offer from another company and need to respond to them, so you wanted to follow up about this company’s timeline. Also be clear in your own mind beforehand about what you need in order to make a decision so that you can answer that question if asked, and also so that you are thinking carefully about how to assess anything they tell you (I would think you need an actual offer that includes information about key terms, such as salary – a statement that they are planning to make you an offer later in the week isn’t really anything).
      If they do want to accelerate, telling them today or first thing on Monday gives them the best chance of actually making that happen – if they are waiting for something internally, they need enough time to try to make that thing happen.
      Good luck!

      1. UpSchittsCreek*

        Thank you so much! Because of the holiday, people are out of the office. So I will follow up with them on Monday with what you stated. I’m just super nervous because I really want this other job and I feel like it is going to be yanked out from under me. Ugh. So much nerves right now!

  58. Lucy P*

    Trying to understand the logic behind my manager’s remark to something, and whether or not it’s typical and appropriate, and how the situation should be handled…One of my coworkers, June, is a dynamo. She’s a pleasant person, gets along with everyone, helps everyone, goes over and above on almost everything she does. There’s not one of us in the office that doesn’t have high regard for her.
    There are, however, certain tasks assigned to her that she just will not do or has trouble getting to. Without getting into a lot of details, these are things that she seriously seems to have some sort of mental block on. For instance, if she’s asked to make a spreadsheet, you can see concern written on her face. Thus she’s often given the option to just write it on paper. And no, knowing spreadsheet software is not the issue. She’s also supposed to free up space in file cabinets when projects are completed, to make room for new projects. Instead of boxing the files up, she just either leave them in place, or puts them on the floor, in a pile, in the filing room.
    The things she won’t do, we don’t mind helping out with because she’s so helpful in other areas. However, we don’t just want to take these from her for concern about stepping on her toes. On the other hand, when we offer to help, she just brushes us off and says she’ll get to it later.
    The managers in the office always brush it off. Their reason–she’s a single mom with a lot going on.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Has anyone pointed out this out to her? I mean she might not realize that she always doesn’t do these specific things or that anyone else has noticed it. If she has some sort of block about the tasks it’s possible that not doing them is somewhat subconscious, and she doesn’t really register that you all are always stepping in to do them for her. Since the reason she’s not doing them isn’t obvious and sounds out of character for her otherwise, maybe her manager should talk with her about it and see what’s going on.

      1. Lucy P*

        I haven’t brought it up directly. Cannot say that anyone else has or has not. There are other times when she has struggled with things and I’ve asked where she’s not getting it, but she can’t identify which aspect she doesn’t understand. I don’t have the soft skills on how to help people in those situations. If she were to say I don’t understand why the x has to go with the y, I could explain it. When she can’t tell me where the confusion lies, I don’t know how to help her get to the root of it.
        Since management is aware of the problem, but seemingly dismissive of it, I can’t see them stepping in to talk to her.

        1. valentine*

          With the spreadsheet, she needs to give it a go so someone can see where she loses the thread.

          Being a beleaguered single mom should not override the common sense that, when you remove items from a container, they need a new container. Maybe someone needs to tell her that the task of filing starts with bringing boxes (and markers, tape?) to the cabinet, which is far more efficient and less self-defeating than making a pile on the floor for (someone else to clean up) later.

          Does her work impact yours? What does your manager say?

          1. Lucy P*

            With spreadsheets, it’s just starting them that often seems to be the problem. It’s that much of a mental block. She’s much better when the spreadsheet is already created and she just has to add data to it. It’s creating them from scratch that seems to be the issue.

            Boxes are stored less than 10 feet from the filing cabinets. Here job is literally just to box them. I do the labeling, archiving, etc.

            Her work does occasionally impact me, but never to the extent where it’s a serious issue.

            When feasible, manager has given her tasks to me, assuming I’m not busy or overloaded.

            This isn’t a complaint. It’s not making excuses for someone. I’m just trying to find out the best way to manage this type of situation. I’m using this as a learning experience for me because something seemed off about management’s response.

    2. Another Academic*

      Take, take , take please. Unless it will cause a resentment. I’m that person. Or as I would like to say- I have other talents. Fortunately I do have other team members who- reorganize and weed the files, set up and fill in spreadsheets.( I know how to do it, I just don’t ever get around to it) Someone just volunteered to take over my financial updates. It’s important to the team but may not a priority on her list of things to do. Management obviously agrees.
      Look over the tasks, have an informal meeting of your group. Don’t ask, tell. Hey you are so fabulous and good at so many things, we want to free up your time and do tasks x and y. This will help the entire team. Ask her, “Don’t you want to be a team player? ” Of course she does.

      1. Lucy P*

        I honestly don’t know if it will cause resentment. Never wanted to test those waters. June is one of those people who will almost never voluntarily give up a task, not even if you offer and she’s swamped.

        1. allathian*

          Now I’m honestly stumped. She doesn’t want to give up tasks that she won’t do in any case? That’s really odd.

          Maybe you should test those waters? This is occupying a lot of your headspace that could be used more productively. If your manager’s given you some of June’s tasks on an ad-hoc basis when you’re not swamped, maybe you could talk to your manager to discuss a more permanent reallocation of tasks?

  59. Katherine*

    Tips on letting go of my resentment towards a pregnant team member (I’m her manager) who used to be a hard worker but since COVID she has worked as little as possible?
    We live in a non US country where there is literally no community spread (and never has been). She starts mat leave in a week.
    Her decision not to work has significantly increased my workload. I’m one week less pregnant than her. I escalated her behaviour to my boss who spoke to her but she hasn’t improved at all. I don’t want to try to address things now as it’s so close to her finishing and I’m worried my resentment will spill into any conversation about professionalism or expectations. I just need to hang in there another week. (I go on mat leave in four weeks)
    Believe me when I say I am sympathetic to her circumstances, but I have literally worked more than twice as hard as she has and have dealt with a huge amount of work stress and personal stress since COVID hit (My husband had a life threatening illness etc).
    Any suggestions on letting it all go?

    1. Colette*

      If she’s normally a hard worker but has recently been doing less, I doubt she just woke up one day and decided not to work. It’s likely that she’s dealing with other stuff – a pregnancy that’s not going smoothly, other health issues for herself or someone else, financial issues, etc. And frankly, if she hasn’t been working for 3 months, that’s on you as much as it is on her. You, as her manager, could have addressed it in March. At this point, it’s too late until she’s back from mat leave.

      So you tell yourself that everyone has been dealing with a difficult situation and, when you’re both back at work, you resolve to address issues as they come up.

    2. valentine*

      What did you say to her about not working? If you’re on-site, you might ask whether she could do the work from home.

      The biggest piece you can tackle is working less yourself. This person’s rightfully taking care of herself. It’s not her fault TPTB haven’t adequately staffed and neither of you should be sacrificing or suffering for it.

    3. Taniwha Girl*

      What would you do if she weren’t pregnant and there was no COVID? Picture the same scenario, but she is leaving on sabbatical/quitting the company/going on extended medical leave/becoming an astronaut/doing mandatory military duty in another country/whatever excuse. You have a worker who is not achieving as much as she used to.

      Would you talk to her about what is going on?
      Would you talk to your boss and HR and other managers at your level to find out what kind of carrots and sticks you have to set expectations for her behavior?
      Would you shrug and say, well she is leaving soon anyway (and then presumably coming back right?) so I’ll address it when she gets back.
      Would you focus on small daily tasks that are the bare minimum you need her to do?

      I don’t know that she will magically be a much harder worker when she comes back with a newborn baby (and I don’t imagine you will have a ton more patience when you come back with one yourself).

  60. Stewart Patrick*

    I work for the government. I have a job security (as long as I don’t do something criminal I have a job for life). My old manager retired and I’ve had a new manager for about a year. I have been looking to transfer to another place in the government because of her. Sometimes the people we deal with want to speak to a manager. She encourages us to be assertive and solve the problem. But if a client, another government employee or an elected official insists on speaking to a manager there is nothing I can do. It is frustrating and causing so many problems when she won’t take their calls, or respond to their calls or emails if one of us directs them to her. The government I work for has many thousands of jobs and hundreds in my area so I know I will eventually get hired through an internal posting or be able to get a transfer. But in the meantime I am so fed up with her. If I didn’t have the job security provision I would honestly quit on the spot because of her. This one thing of hers is messing everything up, she doesn’t listen if any tries to explain her why it is a problem. Going over her head isn’t working. I am not the only one that is frustrated by her. That’s my vent. If you have dealt with a similar issue from your boss I would appreciate hearing how you handled it.

    1. Nacho*

      Is your manager more capable of solving their problems than you are, or is it just that you feel like people who ask for a manager don’t want to listen to you because you’re not high enough on the totem poll? If it’s not the former, then try telling people who ask to speak to your manager that you are the subject expert in their question and your manager isn’t trained to handle the situation. Is there really nothing at all you can do if somebody asks to speak to a manager?

      1. tangerineRose*

        Saying that “your manager isn’t trained to handle the situation” might cause more problems than it solves. I’d leave that out.

        1. Nacho*

          It might go better if you’re in customer service like me. I was able to truthfully say that I was the highest ranked customer service agent in the company, and my manager isn’t trained to handle cases like I was. If you don’t add that, then you’re leaving the door open that if they complain enough, they might still be able to talk to somebody higher up.

  61. designbot*

    Reviews are coming up next month, and I’ve started noticing the women I know have universally hated their reviews. Women I know to be absolutely killing it, women I envy for their ability to get along with difficult bosses, women I never would have thought tell me they left their last review in tears. We’re all worried about it, we don’t feel like we have the right people speaking for us. Women I know who’ve been laid off trace it back to bad reviews. My own boss sandbagged me last year, refusing to acknowledge any positive points about me until pressured by Big Boss.
    This has got me thinking… do men feel like this about their reviews and I’m just not hearing about it? Or are reviews a tool of the patriarchy? I know that sounds extreme, but the stories really came out of the woodwork this week and struck me. Have you all had the same experience?

    1. Colette*

      I’m a woman and I have no issue with reviews. (I mean, I hate having to remember what I’ve done for the past X months, but reviews in general are fine.)

    2. juliebulie*

      I’ve gotten both good and bad reviews, some fair and some not, from both male and female bosses. But it sounds to me like your organization might have a serious problem.

    3. PX*

      Um. Leaving review in tears sounds very not good. Based on what you said about your own boss shows this definitely looks like a company problem (it seems to hate women?) and not a process problem.

      I usually very much enjoyed my reviews because that was when my boss told me how well I was doing and that he was pushing to make sure I got a bonus sooooo, basically your workplace sounds like its full of bees (ie terrible) if you’re a woman…

    4. No Tribble At All*

      Yikes, that sounds like your company uses bad reviews as an excuse to get rid of women!

      I think reviews, when implemented well, can be anti-patriarchy because they’re a set of clearly stated goals and objectives for each employee. You can track and see: Alice and Bob have the same roles and responsibilities; Alice accomplished projects X, Y, and Z; Bob accomplished projects V and W; Alice should get “exceeds expectations” while Bob should get “meets expectations”. This only works if the objectives are specific enough. My company creates objectives at the company, division, and group level, and then your manager creates individual goals that include your personal professional development. So, if Bob’s goals are “lead Llama grooming conference” and Alice’s goals are “groom 2 llamas / year” , you can also see that work isn’t being assigned equally and Alice isn’t being given the same opportunities as Bob.

      1. designbot*

        Ah, I should have mentioned that I meant both inside and outside my company, but (I think critically) all within the same industry. Your post and PX’s above are a good reminder that it’s just a tool, and the tool will advance the agenda of the user without much regard for what that may be.
        My conclusion then is that my industry sucks, and when the industry is sexist then every tool becomes one which advances the sexism.

        1. PX*

          Oh yeah. If this is multiple people across different companies then that’s wild and clearly some kind of industry problem. Maybe look for the niche women friendly companies? I like to believe every industry has at least one!

  62. Damn it, Hardison!*

    Any tips for coming back from burnout? I had a hellacious last year at work due to an overwhelming project and the departure of the only other person on my team. I made it through successfully (with an excellent review and bonus, and minus 30 lbs from stress) but I have lost my enthusiasm and pretty much dread every workday. Of course I’m actively searching for a new job, but until I get one I need to do well at the one I have. How do I get back to my previous high performance (or even just good performance)?

    1. PX*

      Long vacation is the only one I know. Failing long, frequent short ones (eg many long weekends) can help. But basically disconnecting fully from work is the only method I’ve heard of.

      Once you get a new job, try and take as much time off between the old and the new as finances allow.

    2. Emma*

      I agree with PX on the long vacation. Also, are you in a role where you can speak to your boss about needing to work more normal hours for a while after last year?

      I think you might need to focus on your own mental health rather than specifically on your job performance for a while. I think with burn out it can be really hard to perform because you just don’t have the same resilience or capacity. If you start to recover from the burn out, you will likely perform better.

      I find that when work becomes completely overwhelming, a lot of the things in my life that keep me sane start to fall away. Are there things you used to do that were important to you that you have stopped doing? Can you start to build them back in – try to commit to specific things at specific times each week so that you don’t continue to let them slip (if you have let them slip).

      I think sometimes there can be a vicious cycle where you feel you are underperforming, so you spend more time working, which leaves you more burned out, etc. I really hope you can give yourself some time to recover. I also suspect you will perform better if you can pull back from work a little bit for a while.

    3. allathian*

      A long vacation helped me. I know it’s not an option in most jobs in the US, but last year the spring was horrible (a huge unscheduled project that left me doing 12-hour workdays on the regular and my only coworker doing most of my job as well as his own) and what saved me was being able to take six weeks straight off work last summer. When I got back, I couldn’t even remember my log-in codes on my computer, which only goes to show that the time off was effective. I’m still not as resilient as I was before my burnout, but now at least I know the signs of when normal work stress is no longer normal and can pull back a bit earlier. But it helps because I know that mental health and wellbeing at work is not just words at my org, but they really mean it.

      Is FMLA an option for you? Do you have access to EAP? My employer has something similar, and I must say that it really helped, too.

  63. VictoriaQ*

    So, I’ve been made part-time at my job (accounting) and I’ve been working on a certificate (data visualization) that I hope will go with my major (financial math) to help propel me to a more analyst-based role. I’ve had my eye on market analytics, but since I’m at the beginning of my career, I’m not too picky.

    So, for anyone in those financial analytical fields (or related ones), do you have any advice a) for job-searching (keywords, entry-level jobs?) and, probably more importantly, b) are there analyst fields that are really similar to accounting? I have very much not liked the accounting job I have, I find it repetitive and uninteresting. I recognize any early job in any field is prone to uninteresting or repetitive tasks, but there’s really nothing about accounting that excites me enough to try to advance there.

  64. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    One of my coworkers left and Im feeling weird about it. Now that we’re all remote I havent really had much contact with my coworkers and it’s lonely. How do you guys keep up with each other now that there’s no office to meet in?

    1. Colette*

      It’s hard, especially when people move on without ceremony! So far we’re doing sporadic slack messages, and that’s about it. But in your case, I’d send a LinkedIn request to your coworker so that you can stay in touch longer term – ideally with a personal note wishing them well.

    2. Nacho*

      My company uses workplace, which is basically a business version of facebook. We have chats and posts and other things to connect with eachother.

  65. anon for this*

    As a manager, what do I need to be doing when I’m aware that someone who doesn’t report to me is working off the clock?

    Things are pretty hectic at work right now, so I’ve been working late/logging in during the evenings to finish things up quite a bit. In one of the teams that my team helps, there’s an hourly employee, Lacy, who frequently reaches out to me for help on things. Earlier this week, I was working with Lacy from 5 pm to 6 pm on an urgent logistics problem, and the next night, I was cleaning up emails from 9:30 pm to 10:30 and noticed she was logged in and working then as well. I know Lacy’s team is not approving any overtime (part of my team falls under the same budget and is subject to the same overtime restrictions), and I have access to her timecard, so I peeked at it. She definitely worked at least 4 hours off the clock this week, that I’m aware of.

    Lacy’s a hard worker, and I could absolutely see her working extra time off the clock to get things done and take care of her work without breaking any overtime rules, without understanding that it’s a bad idea. I sent her boss, Jane, a note about it, and Jane waved it off with a “Lacy’s working some extra hours to get ahead because she’s going to take some time off later.” There’s literally no reason why those hours need to be off the clock, though, if that’s the reason, unless she’s taking the time off in a different week, which doesn’t make it any more legal.

    I really really really hate timecard fraud. I had a situation years ago, at a completely different company, where I accidentally worked 15 minutes of overtime I wasn’t supposed to, because of clock rounding, and I was threatened with termination if I didn’t agree to adjusting the time off my timecard. I was a hardworking, dedicated, long term, nearly minimum wage employee…it was an extra $2 gross pay. I’m still mad about it 22 years later, and I am a huge stickler for accurate timekeeping because of it.

    My situation with Lacy’s team is…politically fraught. Overreacting on my part would cause problems, and taking any action that could be twisted into an overreaction would also cause problems. My boss won’t want to get involved in this at all. I don’t have a great working relationship with Jane’s boss…I made a misstep a while back, I’m slowly making it better but taking this to her would make it worse. I could go to HR, but over 4 hours…that’s a pretty nuclear reaction, I think? And again, would cause problems with Jane and her boss. I could monitor it a little more, talk to Jane if I see it again, and go to HR or her boss then if she doesn’t do something? I could talk to Lacy? I don’t know what to do. :(

    1. Colette*

      I think you have 2 options here – mention it to your boss and assume she is dealing with it, or go to HR. Lacy’s boss knows and doesn’t care, but the company is still at risk. (I’m assuming Lacy is not exempt; if she is, there is no issue here.)

      Either way, I think you mention it once and then let it go. Once you’ve informed the people who need to know, you’ve done your part.

      1. Observer*

        Either way, I think you mention it once and then let it go. Once you’ve informed the people who need to know, you’ve done your part.

        I agree.

      2. anon for this*

        I’ll go to HR if I see it again. My boss is generally great, but I’m positive that another department’s time card issues aren’t something he’ll be willing to get involved in. Thanks. :)

    2. Joy*

      I think you should stay out of it. While yes, this would technically be timecard fraud, taking the manager at her word that she’s allowing Lacy some off-the-books time off isn’t exactly an evil move, and I think your 22 year old unfair situation is definitely irrelevant and inflating your reaction to the situation. Going to HR would be crazy nuclear, IMO, especially since you aren’t anybody’s boss in the situation.

      1. blaise zamboni*

        It is kind of an evil move, though? She’s not compensating Lacy appropriately and is entirely aware of it.

        For what it’s worth, my last company committed major timecard fraud with me for three years and didn’t waver at all when I called them on it. It’s not a 22-year-old issue, lost to the past. This crap still happens, all the time, all over the place.

        Not reporting this to HR is negligent and likely to get the company in more trouble, if Lacy realizes she got screwed and wants to report this. An employee’s decision to work off the clock does not absolve the company from their legal responsibility to pay for all hours worked.

    3. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      I could go to HR, but over 4 hours…that’s a pretty nuclear reaction, I think?

      Over 4 hours in one week alone. That you know of.

      For one employee. That you know of.

      Many problems are like cockroaches. If you see one, you’ve got 20.

      One thing to think about: If someone else blows the whistle, how likely will you be blamed for having seen it and said nothing? If that’s a significant possibility, consider emailing HR — and Bcc:ing your personal email.

      Meanwhile, I’m very sorry about that incident from 1998. I understand the principle of not paying overtime…but they could have shelled out the princely sum of maybe $2.50 (including payroll taxes) and warned you not to do it again. Good for you for letting it make you a better manager!

    4. Observer*

      Why is HR a nuclear reaction?

      In a normal situation, I would think that HR is you best, most low key way to handle it – while getting it off your plate and doing the think with the most power to force the issue.

      Basically, reaching out to HR saying something like “I happened to notice that Lacey worked a few hours after hours last week. As she’s not in my department, I don’t really have standing to follow up with it, but I thought to let you know so you can make sure all is in order.”

      1. anon for this*

        If I’ve already talked to Lacey’s boss about it and she has an explanation, even if it’s half-baked, going to HR about it feels nuclear at this point, without anything additional to go on. It would have been less nuclear to do it at first, but now that I’ve talked to Lacey’s boss, it’s different. I went to Lacey’s boss first because we interact regularly and have a pretty good relationship, and I need to keep it that way.

    5. Martine*

      I think that if you are bothered and mad about $2 22 years later, it is time to seek therapy. That kind of obsession is not healthy at all.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I dont think that response is as kind or helpful as you migjt have thought.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        It’s not the money, it’s the principle. A principle I for one agree with.

      3. anon for this*

        I’m not mad about the $2. I’m mad about the abuse of power and the extreme overreaction over a relatively minor amount. I’m mad that employers steal literally billions of dollars a year from their employees by failing to pay them properly, by pulling stuff like that. It’s not a small thing, and it’s not a joke, and I’m not mentally ill for being angry about it, but thanks for your concern, I guess.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      It sounds like something you should mention once to your boss and then drop, you told someone in writing and thats all you need to do.

      Maybe email your boss about what you noticed, that you sent Lacy an email and should have included her, and you are “flagging this for her because you don’t want us to risk time card irregularities.” Alison always frames it this way as “us.”

      This way you have done your due diligance and the responsibility is no longer yours. And I often recommend AAM to coworkers, like randomly mention this great blog I love, bc “she has great advice ranging from cover letters to time card fraud, to” . . . other thing I think employee should know. And I’ll add things like, did you know you cannot work overtime without being paid or the company can face big fines?

    7. LGC*

      I’d honestly talk to Jane again and say that you’re concerned about any legal repercussions that might come up. (Which sounds a bit like a threat, I’ll admit.) If she’s an hourly employee, she should be paid for the hours she’s working – regardless of whether she’s exempt or non-exempt.

      Four hours sounds…pretty significant. If Lacy is full time, that’s at least 10% of her regular schedule. So it is worth addressing.

      1. New Senior Manager*

        I like this. Y’all to Jane, informally, passing along your senior experience. I would then email her boss, I know you said it was no big deal but just wanted to let Jane know there can be unintentional impact. Cc your boss. Then let it go. Get back to your own work and life.

  66. KristinaL*

    An earlier post this week about a good e-mail address has me nervous. I’m planning to self-publish some children’s picture books. I have a web site, which I built a few years ago, and since my first and last name are really easy to misspell (plus I already have this site), I’ve been planning to add a page to DontMakeMeLearn about the books (will add links to the books on Amazon once I have put the books on Amazon).

    I also was planning to create a e-mail and a DontMakeMeLearn on Facebook, but now I’m wondering if this is a sort of silly way to do this. What do you think? Since it’s for kids, is slightly silly actually a good way to brand the books?


    1. juliebulie*

      Even if you don’t use them, I think it’s a good idea to claim those things so that nobody else does.

    2. Colette*

      Definitely claim both. If you can’t host your own domain, this is fine; however, since you own, can you get a email address? (You could forward it to the gmail address.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’d use the domain name you have as the email host, and put an email name like info@ or sales@.

      The facebook page should match the series name, with your personal account as the administrator. Unless you have plans for multiple series in which case create a FB business page for Your Name, Author.

    4. Observer*

      If you already have the website, you must own the domain name, no? So why not use the or something like that?

      PS Either fix your contact form or get rid of it till you need it.

  67. Amethyst*

    I officially have my promotion from parttime to fulltime in hand! It goes official after I return from my vacation in about a week. But I am not allowed to tell any of my coworkers about it due to the furloughs/layoffs we’ve had & they’re trying to be considerate/sensitive about that. So I’m waiting for the announcement to confirm. I’ve already had a coworker ask if I was being promoted to fulltime (since my department is now down to 2 people after our third person left + 1 on furlough) & I had to flat-out lie. Gave a heads up to my supervisor who asked our boss if I could at least tell my coworker the truth. Nope.


    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Yay! Congrats and sorry for the subterfuge requirement, I know that is awkward!

    2. Amethyst*

      Thank you! :)

      Even more exciting: My birthday’s in a few days so this just feels like a really amazing birthday present, lol.

    3. allathian*

      Congrats! Here’s hoping they announce it ASAP so you don’t have to keep lying.

    4. Peter*

      For future, the phrasing to avoid lying could be “not at the moment but I’m hoping to be / working with supervisor to be made full-time / have suggested to supervisor that I take on the full-time role and she’s talking with big boss”

      1. Amethyst*

        I told my coworker that I’d be thrilled if they offered me fulltime, but had no idea what they were going to do.

  68. dev gal*

    Would it be too outrageous if I asked a recruiter for their references? I’m getting quite a few messages from recruiters and a lot of them are spammy (positions that I zero qualification for), that’s annoying. What is worse is when I start to work with one they often tend to push me into directions that I don’t like.

  69. R0ck3t*

    I work at a large, multinational company. My job is mostly dealing with either colleagues or clients in Asia, Africa and South America. It happens often where these individuals say things that are rude, off color and sometimes downright racist. The things they say are common and acceptable in their countries and cultures. I’m Chinese and my own culture has huge problems with racism that I acknowledge. My clients and colleagues either don’t know that what they have said is racist or they assume I feel the same way due to my own culture and don’t care. Is this something I should call out in the moment? None of them are American and part of me feels like putting American values on them is wrong but another part of me cannot abide by racism. My boss would want me to not rock the boat. I have no idea what to do here.

    1. Reba*

      I think it depends on A) your standing and capital and B) what you think the consequences would be.

      For example, if you relate to these people as a peer, and you know of think they might have interactions with US-ians or populations who are affected by their racist remarks, then it would be a service to them to point it out.

      This can be done it a polite and collaborative way, as in, “Hey, I don’t think you know this, but I’ve learned that in ____ context, that sounds really bad and could offend someone! I wouldn’t want you to get into an awkward situation with Client _____.”

      But I could also see even very mild pushback resulting in complaints about your customer service.

    2. Colette*

      I think it matters what they’re saying, as well as who they are. With clients, I’d only address the most extremely offensive things; with colleagues at your level, you can address more subtle racism.

    3. Observer*

      OK, this is not about “American values”. And you can’t wave some things away just because it’s part of a culture.

      They key here is if something it genuinely racist or not. But if it really is then, calling it out if you can is appropriate. So, for instance some phrases in the US are taken one way and taken another way elsewhere. But comments about how “All x really can’t be trusted with money” is racist in any country, and it doesn’t make it any better if it’s considered acceptable in their culture.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Can you softly call it out? For example, if a client says “all X are lazy,” can you say, “really? That’s not my experience.”

    5. Taniwha Girl*

      Regardless of culture/values (yes other countries think racism is bad, yes other countries have different understandings and histories wrt the concept of racism), surely your company has some value statement like “We respect all people regardless of background and don’t tolerate hate speech” or something? Could you use that as a fallback, like “That is not in line with our company values” or “Here at Company we respect everyone regardless of their background. That’s not OK to say here.”

      Remember that part of working in a multinational company is everyone needs to work respectfully together. That means that they also need to respect you and your values. They need to be respectful to everyone everywhere–this is what diplomacy and etiquette is for, there are literal books on this topic. So your coworkers have as much a duty to be respectful as you do (clients less so–they’re the customer).

      And remember that there are ways to gently push back, as Kat said, without using the word “racism”. “That’s not my experience,” “I disagree,” “Wow, no” “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. Anyway let’s get back on track.”

  70. Rocket*

    I work at a large, multinational company. My job is mostly dealing with either colleagues or clients in Asia, Africa and South America. It happens often where these individuals say things that are rude, off color and sometimes downright racist. The things they say are common and acceptable in their countries and cultures. I’m Chinese and my own culture has huge problems with racism that I acknowledge. My clients and colleagues either don’t know that what they have said is racist or they assume I feel the same way due to my own culture and don’t care. Is this something I should call out in the moment? None of them are American and part of me feels like putting American values on them is wrong but another part of me cannot abide by racism. My boss would want me to not rock the boat. I have no idea what to do here.

    1. Moi*

      Not being racist shouldn’t be an “American” value it should be a “human’ value. I’d find a way to call them out.

    2. Who knows*

      Could you say something like, “Hey, maybe you’re not aware but that’s actually considered quite racist here. Could you please not say things like that around me? It makes me feel uncomfortable.” You’re not going to change their minds with that (or probably anything else) but then at least they’re not doing it in front of you and it’s mild enough that it shouldn’t rock the boat.

  71. keyboard monkey*

    Sometimes in the course of my job, I’m exposed to documents I shouldn’t see (think low-level accounting clerk handed the owner’s tax papers with a stack of invoices). Of course I hand those right back to my boss or the person they should have gone to, but should I say something about not having read it? Or does that make it sound like I *did* read it and I’m covering up? Am I overthinking this? (Probably!)

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      You’re overthinking it. This stuff happens frequently and it’s the nature of many jobs! I wouldn’t say anything at all.

    2. RagingADHD*

      The best way to demonstrate that you can be discreet is to be discreet. Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t make a thing out of it.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I see stuff at work that I’m not supposed to see. I follow procedure and alert those who need to know (usually my boss and our GDPR compliance team) and never mention it again. This stuff is never interesting enough for me to remember anything later, anyway.

  72. skittycat*

    I’m wondering what other people think of my workplace. I am a student worker at my university’s IT Help Desk. The way the Help Desk is organized, all the Level 1 consultants are students. They report to Shift Supervisors, who are also students. The Shift Supervisors have no firing power and very little disciplinary power, however, each Level 1 consultant has a supervisor who is their primary supervisor who is supposed to meet with them once a week. The Shift Supervisors then report to Leads, who are also students. They have more disciplinary power but I don’t think they have firing power. The Leads then report to the full-time workers, who are not students. Basically, there are three levels of student workers before we get to any full-time employee. The Level 1 consultants very rarely interact with the full-time staff, if at all.

    There’s no reason to say student workers are not capable of running a call center, but I’ve found that at my work it doesn’t really work at all. For a lot of the Level 1 consultants, this is their first job ever and they don’t really have a good understanding of professionalism or critical thinking skills. A lot of the job involves emailing and some of the emails that get sent out to clients are incredibly bad (like, rude emails full of grammatical errors that completely misunderstand the client’s original question). I’m a shift supervisor, so I’m supposed to be coaching my primary consultants and helping them improve, but I’m a college student and I’ve never had a professional job so I don’t really feel equipped to do this. Additionally, a lot of us are good friends outside of work, which makes delivering honest feedback difficult.

    There’s not really anything that could be done to change this, but I’m just wondering if this seems completely crazy to others, or if this is relatively normal for universities.

    1. Colette*

      That’s pretty weird – that’s too many levels of student workers before you get to a full-time employee.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I have found that most universities like to support student learning and answer questions like yours if they are framed in the context of, “I’m a student and I want to learn.” Can you ask to meet with a full time staff person to ask for some ideas about how to handle your management questions? And ask, again bc you are learning, about how the 3 levels of students works for the library. You might hear something that surprises you.

    3. Another Academic*

      Pretty normal. University’s run on student work because often the budget is from money dedicated to student workers. Most of these student jobs are things an 18 to 20 year old can do with minimal supervision. That said there is a lack of mentorship and training at your U. It is the job of the staff to train these students into business norms and help them learn expected communication skills.
      “For a lot of the Level 1 consultants, this is their first job ever and they don’t really have a good understanding of professionalism or critical thinking skills. A lot of the job involves emailing and some of the emails that get sent out to clients are incredibly bad (like, rude emails full of grammatical errors that completely misunderstand the client’s original question).”
      You have the perfect opportunity to be proactive. Reach out to other parts of the U (like the library) student supervisors and ask how they train front line student workers.
      After you have done the research.
      Set up a meeting with the full time staff supervisor. Identify the issues. Suggest a plan to develop a training program for front line IT student workers.
      That said- I know that my U’s IT training is excellent as the student worker was able to set up my home VPN AND fix my internet WIFI problem. (it was much more than “did you reboot?”)

  73. Overly Identifiable Anon*

    TL;DR: diversity and inclusion working groups (not affinity groups) — worth joining?

    Under the guise of Diversity and Inclusion, my company has created 2 “working groups” to “address the issues of” (1) race and (2) women. These aren’t affinity groups– each is open to anyone. On the intranet there’s a web form if you want to join — they didn’t even send around an email about it. The form also includes suggestions for future groups. The ones they suggest are (a) LGBTQ+ (b) people with disabilities (c) religion and (d) introverts. I’m gobsmacked. First, the phrasing to “address the issues of” is terrible. Second, they’re equating being INTROVERTED with systemic racism + the patriarchy????? So my questions are twofold.

    (1) Do you think it’s worth joining? I’m a white woman. This is an international tech company; I’d join the one for women. Less than 25% of our technology division is women. Most of the women in our company are in HR or finance. I haven’t experienced any blatant discrimination, but lately I’ve noticed stuff like: I don’t know any women engineers who have kids, the employee handbook doesn’t explicitly call out maternity leave, just listing it as an example of eligible short-term disability. Not to go all “women = mommies” but if I wanted to gather information about what would happen if I had a kid, I’d have to ask someone in HR personally, and that feels gross. Buuuuut will this group just be a time-sink? Will I look like a whiner? If I don’t join, will it be all the people in finance only? Or worse, just Men Deciding What Helps Women? If I do join, how can I be sure I’m being helpful and not just replicating what’s important to /me/?

    (2) Do you think it’s worth pointing out that suggesting a group for “introverts” trivializes the other ones? Introverts aren’t even a legally protected group, so this is meaningless. It really makes me feel like they’re not taking this seriously at all when their suggestions for future groups start with groups that are obviously, quantifiably discriminated against (queer people, people w disabilities), go to something that could go either way (religion, could get taken over by grumpy Christians complaining), and end with something that’s …. nowhere on the same scale as those.

    1. Colette*

      First of all, who is going to join an introverts group?

      I’d say yes to joining the group for women; I’d also be cautious about it until I got a better feel for how this plays out over time.

      1. I read my damn briefings*

        Ha! That is a good one! I might join, but I would never show up for the meetings.

        1. I read my damn briefings*

          I would still avoid the meetings! You know, I would *plan* to go, and then, the day of the meeting I would have all these pressing ‘reasons’ why not to go, and I would just end up, well, not going?

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think the entire point of joining the women’s group would be to talk about things that are important to you. Otherwise it is, as you said, a bunch of people guessing at what other people care about. If nobody is willing to speak up for what’s important to them, how will it ever get raised? Telepathy?

      If you don’t want to join, you don’t have to. But if you don’t, then you must expect that your point of view won’t be represented, and the results may lack ideas you think should have been included.

      As for the introverts thing, I think you’re looking at it too globally. None of these groups are going to dismantle the patriarchy in the world. They are to see if there are ways the company can change internally to be fairer and more inclusive in the work environment.

      Somebody probably just spitballed “introverts” because they read a book about how introverts sometimes operate differently at work and might miss out on opportunities because of it. I seriously doubt anyone intended it as an equivalence.

      If you want to get involved in suggesting future groups, maybe a good one would be neurodivergent people, or ask if ND is supposed to be included in disabilities. Because not all ND folks identify as disabled, but it can raise issues with the way they work.

    3. pancakes*

      I don’t think the existence of a group for introverts is inherently a claim that being introverted is equivalent to being a racial minority, LGBTQ, disabled, or a woman. It’s a little odd because introverts, as others have pointed out, tend not to be big on joining groups, but the existence of the group is not in itself an assertion of equivalence. A disabled woman might find it useful to participate in both of those groups, for example, and by doing so she wouldn’t be making any sort of overarching statement about her identity to herself or others.

      As for the group for women, try it and see. If it feels like a waste of time you don’t have to continue participating. You won’t look like a whiner unless you use the occasion to whine!

    4. PollyQ*

      INTROVERTS??!? In a TECH COMPANY??!? Everyone there is an introvert, except maybe the sales people!!

      That is ridiculous, and insulting, and I don’t know how to do it politely, but yes, I think it’s worth it to push back. At rock bottom minimum, if it gets out, the company is going to look terrible in the public eye.

      For your first question, IDK. So much depends on the company, but it’s maybe worth taking the risk to try to push for a better, fairer company.

    5. blaise zamboni*

      1) Yes. Working groups/ERGs can be really useful, especially if the company is invested in them. The only company I know with ERGs has a budget for qualifying ERGs (based on # of members and activity level). The budget covers community events, fundraising, and donating to related causes. So for example, that company is a major sponsor for our Pride 5k because their queer ERG is well-attended and has political sway.

      The ERG also allows for networking – my friend got her most recent position partially because she heard it through the grapevine from an ERG, and had support from her contacts there. She has also had more access to resources specific to her situation. A women’s ERG would be the perfect place to pose your questions/concerns about maternity leave, and any other issues you have. As far as “being helpful” – you’re in the group they want to hear from! Voicing what’s important to you is the point. You don’t need permission to speak about the things that matter to you, especially not in that context.

      If you go to the ERG a few times and it’s not a good fit for you, just leave. I don’t believe there’s any real commitment needed to join. It’s worth a shot to see how you feel!

      2) I mean…”introverts” is a really silly suggestion, but of the 6 groups they formed or suggested, 5 of them are legitimate groups whose viewpoints should be amplified. It sounds like whoever is behind this push recognizes the importance of giving a platform to people who are not traditionally heard in the company, while being conscious of people who might have legitimate concerns but don’t fall into a category that is discriminated against. I think they likely just picked a really poor example of that.

      Parents might want to create a working group to address the company’s lack of clear policy and advocate for more flexibility; your admin groups might want to create a working group to advocate for fairer treatment compared to the engineers; etc etc. Who knows.

      The existence of those groups does not have to demean the purpose and value of groups for women, queer people, BIPOC, people with disabilities…They are separate groups and have separate purposes. I think it’s fair to raise an eyebrow, but since you haven’t seen how they’re actually implementing anything or how your colleagues are responding, I would hold off judgment until you see more. Working groups are only as effective as their members, it doesn’t really matter what the company suggests.

      1.5) If you join the women’s group and it does well, you should urge your company to partner with Society of Women Engineers or similar groups ;)

  74. Janis Mayhem*

    I’ve been WFH since mid-March and my office is now trying to have a full reopen. I contacted my bosses and CEO re my health concerns (I have several of the underlying conditions that make me higher risk for severe complications) and was told I could still WFH, but part time, and have to go back in full time in about a month. I’m less than pleased with response. Thoughts? What would you do?

    1. IrishEm*

      I’d polish off my CV and trawl LinkedIn and Indeed for full remote jobs. Take them at their word that they don’t care if you die or end up on a ventilator for weeks. Tell them nothing about the job search unless and until you find something and need to give notice. I’d also see if your doctor would write something to the effect of “WFH is a reasonable workplace accommodation that Janis Mayhem needs under (whatever medical framework is applicable ADA/HSE/NHS)” and see if your employer treats that more seriously.

      But in your shoes I would be looking for full remote jobs.

  75. ampersand*

    I’ve heard that applying to a job on a Friday is not advisable because anyone looking at resumes/applicants on Friday (let’s assume a M-F workweek with weekends off) wants to go home and won’t give it the same consideration they would on a Monday. Therefore, it’s better to apply earlier in the workweek vs. later to increase chances of being interviewed. (When I hired people, day of the week they applied was not a factor so this seems weird to me. I wanted a qualified person who was a good fit for the position, and if that person’s application came in at 5pm on Friday, so be it.)

    Adjacent to this was the advice that it’s best to apply within the first four days of the job being advertised to have the best chance of being interviewed. After that window, odds decrease.

    Has anyone found this to be true or not true?

    Several months of job searching is wearing me down, so apologies if these questions seem absurd! These weren’t things I considered until I read them and now I can’t un-read this advice.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t think it matters what day. I’ve applied to many over weekends and the day didn’t matter as much as applying, in general, earlier (within the first two weeks) to the job posting.

      If I see a job that have been posted for 30+ days, I’d hesitate to apply.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s true, and I also think it presupposes hiring managers who religiously read applications the day they come in, which also isn’t true.

      I don’t think it’s true that odds decrease after the first four days. But there can be a risk in waiting until right before the post officially closes because sometimes they get taken down.

      1. Colette*

        I wonder if there is some level of truth about the odds of an interview decreasing over time (because more people will have applied who may be a better match). It wouldn’t affect the odds of getting the job, but the employer might be more open to interviewing less qualified people earlier in the process?

        1. fposte*

          What I think can happen is the hiring manager literally or emotionally fills up interview slots before the position is closed. I don’t think there’s anything magic about four days, but I don’t think there’s ever an advantage to waiting to submit. That being said, our applications tend to be a saddleback–pile of good ones early, pile of good ones just before close, lower level between those times.

    3. Observer*

      The question is not absurd. The advice is what is absurd.

      If the resume came in late on Friday, I just wouldn’t see it. I suspect that any hiring manager who is really looking to get a hob filled AND wants to get out the door is just going to leave the resume for Monday. Otherwise, they’ll give the resume the same attention as the would give it any other day. (In general, the assumption that no one ever does good work on Friday because they are all itching to get out the door and start on their weekend is lame.)

      As for the “apply within the first 4 days” that sounds like pure voodo to me. Seriously. Even in a labor market with high unemployment, it’s not all that common to be able to get a bunch of viable candidates to interview within 4 days. Any many places won’t even decide who to interview until a certain amount of time has passed and they look at all the resumes they have gotten and winnow out the ones they want.

      In general how companies manage hiring is so varied that these kinds of rules are pretty useless even when they are not based on totally ridiculous premises.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Where I work, a city, HR collects all the applicants and looks at them when the deadline closes. So it does not matter at all when you apply.

    5. Amy*

      I’ve never heard that the day of the week matters. But in some cases applying early is a good idea. I just (as in last week) landed a job. The job was posted on Wednesday, I applied thursday, they emailed me to set up an interview friday. Then I interviewed the following Tuesday and accepted the job on Wednesday. Pretty effective!

      I know they were interviewing other candidates as well on Tuesday, so if I had not been quick, there is a real chance they would already have picked someone else.

  76. IrishEm*

    I had an interview last week. I also had the worst pain flare of my life which meant I was on medications that interfered with my head and I wasn’t able to properly prep for it. I obviously didn’t get the job, the people who got the roles are lovely, but also have less seniority and skillsets but clearly interviewed better than I did.

    Does anyone have any advice for not hating oneself after a big fail like this that couldn’t be helped and/or advice for not allowing one’s own disappointment (in oneself) not to poison normally good relationships with the ppl who got the job you were made for? (I’m using hyperbole but nearly everyone I spoke to about going for the job said that I was made for it, and it was made for me).

    It wasn’t a dream job, but one I would excel at and also not be on entry level wages at age thirty goddamn six (I hate capitalism I hate that I can’t save, and this job would have solved a lot of problems for me, effectively a 20% raise for the same work I already do just more specialist).

    I’m just so sad and angry with myself and trying so hard not to be angry that others interviewed better than I did, and it SUCKS. Any advice would be welcomed.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m really sorry, and it sucks that the interview couldn’t be rescheduled for your health issue. That’s the thing I’d be resentful about. Why would they not allow for a sick day?

      Obviously you can’t control having pain, or you wouldn’t have it at all. And the successful candidates can’t control any of this, either.

      No advice, just I’m really sorry that happened, I’m really sorry you have these pain issues, and I hope the opportunity opens back up soon.

      Maybe that is something you could do – could you talk to the hiring manager about the fact that you didn’t interview well because you were ill that day, and ask them to keep you in mind the next time an opportunity opens up? It sounds like they hired multiple people this round, which seems like it probably has positions open up regularly.

      1. IrishEm*

        Honestly, they possibly might have allowed for a sick day but the last time I was interviewing I was getting (admittedly terrible) advice like you need to be actively dying to reschedule an interview or they’ll mark you down for not being there. I literally missed my uncle’s funeral because my case worker (when I was unemployed) implied that my jobseeker’s allowance would be taken away if I didn’t interview. And that sticks with you.T

        he positions tend to come up about every 6 months or so, and this was my best chance. I had given my strongest application for the role, sorted out my CV, I just wasn’t able to prepare because loopy meds made me so loopy. I mean, it sucks, but these things happen, I just feel really down on myself for the flare timing itself like that. I’m so angry at my body.

        And they will give me feedback next week for how I can interview better, but damn, it sucks, and I’m trying so hard not to tell myself that I suck, too.