open thread – August 14-15, 2020

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

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

{ 1,175 comments… read them below }

  1. RobotWithHumanHair*

    Okay, resume question here.

    I’ve had three “long-term” jobs – 4 years, 17 years and 3 years – but in between Job #2 and Job #3, I had three short-term temp jobs that lasted no more than two months at the maximum and two weeks at the minimum. Are these even really worth keeping on my resume, at least to eliminate an unemployment gap on there?

    First temp job was an inventory auditor (this was the 2-week assignment), second was a machine operator/packing position and the third was a returns clerk position at the same company as the second.

    None of them are really relevant to what I’m looking for (neither is the most recent 3-year job either, but that’s neither here nor there). What I AM looking for is more in line with the 17-year job that I had.

    Are they still worth clogging up my resume simply to show that I was still consistently working or might they be hindering me more than helping?

    1. AnonyMs.*

      How long was the gap in total? Was it less than a year? If so, I don’t think you have to mention it, but if longer I would add it as a single “bucket”, though I’m curious what others have to say.

    2. Colette*

      I don’t think an employment gap from 3 years ago is likely to be an issue – and if they ask, you can explain that you worked some temp jobs that weren’t relevant to the position you’re applying for.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t include those short temp jobs unless what you did at those jobs will make you look like a better candidate for the positions you’re applying for.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think you need to include it, it sounds like you have a pretty solid job history otherwise, plus the total time in those temp jobs was only about three months total? I’m not sure how long the actual gap is, but you should be fine leaving those jobs off, they don’t seem to add anything to your resume. A potential employer may ask about the gap if it’s substantial, but considering you have a three-year stint immediately following it, it might not even come up.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      Nope, take them off. I doubt you would even have enough accomplishments from any of those places to have them on there to begin with.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nah. My two major career jobs were 8 years and 6 years (current), I had a 16 month gap in between where I was deliberately un- or under-employed and I just leave it. Nobody’s even batted an eyelash. My heading does specify “Health Care Experience” rather than just blanket “Work Experience” – but none of my non health care experience is listed on my resume at all, either before or between.

    7. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I agree that if they add up to less than a year (or maybe 8 months) you can safely leave them off since you have that nice 3 year employment afterwards. You can give it a sentence or 2 in your cover letter if you’re worried but I wouldn’t be.

    8. Construction Safety*

      Oh yeah, it happen to us all the time, even if we state 8 weeks after deliver of all mechanical tems.

      Current project was bid with the client telling us that all the mechanical items would be delivered in time to put them in the building as it was erected. Turns out NONE of the items arrived until we were finished erecting the steel. Now they want to know why we’re running late.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      You definitely don’t need to include those temp jobs. If anyone asks about such a small resume gap, you can just say “I held a few temporary positions during that time while looking for something more in line with my career goals.” And you can offer to provide details if they want. They probably won’t care.

    10. noahwynn*

      Were the temp positions all with the same temp agency by chance? If so I’d list that agency and cover the entire timeframe of all three temp jobs if you’re worried about the gap.

      I agree with others though, if it is less than a year, no need to explain on your resume. If asked in an interview you can discuss it and you may need to disclose it for background checks. Your resume is a marketing document though, not your complete job history.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        That’s what I did- but partially because I then went on to law school and all the jobs were legal in nature (and it was a legal temp agency.)

    11. LadyByTheLake*

      Plus, if you list your jobs by year, no one will see the gaps. So “Acme Corp 2002-2007” “Zenith Corp 2007-2017” “Super Corp 2018-Present”

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        To answer (I think) all the questions, they were about 4 months in total between two different agencies. My total unemployment gap when excluding those temp jobs was just about six months. And yeah, there wasn’t really anything in those jobs that was really relevant to what I want to do.

        So I’m thinking I may be making some edits today. Which is just as well, because it was always a pain in the butt filling in those temp jobs repeatedly on applications.

        Thanks everyone! :)

        1. JohannaCabal*

          I’ve been in the same boat. Multiple agencies too. For some of those resumes, I’ve placed them under a general heading:

          Temporary Employee, March 2012-December 2012
          (Temps R US, March 2012-June 2012
          (Acme Temps, August 2012-December-2012)

        2. Anono-me*

          You can skip them on the resume definitely. But on the company applications, please check be sure there isn’t some fine print somewhere that says “All my jobs forever are being listed.”

    12. Everdene*

      I just interviewed someone with a employment gap. I asked at interview and she said after being made redundant there was a resession so she worked in a fast food place for a bit before joining our current field. She starts in 3 weeks.
      It wouldn’t stop you getting an interview with me as long as you could explain if asked.

    13. Artemesia*

      I’d group them as free lance or temp jobs — doing contract work on temp jobs is not the same as job hopping, but it will close the resume gap.

    14. Firecat*

      The way I handle this is to add another section called other experience where I list the title, company, and dates of service but nothing else.

      For your’s it could look like:
      Other Experience
      Temporary Worker, Temps R Us, Start-End

      I find this a safer route then a gap, but since you have a 3 year employment on your resume right now I’m assuming it won’t matter.

  2. Oh No She Di'int*

    No advice sought, just wondering. Show of hands: how many people deal with clients who agree to give you X amount of time to complete a job, but then deliver the materials/specs late. And then when you ask for the same amount of time that was agreed to, they state that you are asking for an “extension”? That burns me up!

    1. a username*

      Can you phrase your initial agreements as “delivery two weeks *from receiving date of specs*” – that way it’s on them to get you what they need on time to get what they want on time? Not a contractor but that’s how we do things in my office.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I would definitely look at how you phrase contracts and not just legal contracts but how you communicate informally about the project. Cover your tush.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      I work for a consulting company, and, yeah, constantly. If you can, put “x days/weeks/whatever from receipt of stuff” in the contract, instead of a fixed date… it will at least give you something to point to, even if they still gripe.

    3. Golden*

      *Hand flailing around wildly* I just started an internship that is client-focused, and have encountered that in 100% of my projects. My supervisor deals with the client interaction, but it makes me feel unproductive and unmoored because I just have to guess at what the client might want while I wait for them. I’m thankful for the internship though, and it seems like it’s just an inescapable part of this career.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ooooooh, I hate that. In my last job I had a big company as a client and they NEVER delivered anything in the time frame we requested. I loved my client contact but his hands were totally tied. I once laid out a 6-week timeline for a project and said, “This is dependent on getting the materials from you by X,” and they delivered it THREE WEEKS later than X and demanded that WE stay on schedule. Drove me nuts. I mentioned it to the senior exec on my team, pointed out that we had said, “This timeline depends on getting the materials on time” and asked him to step in but he refused. So we had to spend extra money and work our butts off unnecessarily to meet a totally unrealistic deadline. I’m sure there were errors in the work because of that. Stuff like that happened a lot.

      My current boss is really good about this but he gets kind of scold-y to his clients and I hate it because there are much nicer ways to manage these things.

    5. Llellayena*

      *raises the hands of all the people in my architecture office
      This is the norm for architecture clients. It doesn’t matter if you say you’ll get them the drawings on X date, we need comments by X+7 days to move forward. At X+18 days they say “oh, I’m looking at it today.” Great, but that means your next set won’t arrive until a week and half later than scheduled…

    6. What the What*

      Dude. I’m a CPA. I spend half my life reminding people to send me their tax information, and then they send it to me the week of a deadline and expect a 24 hour turnaround. I have people who send me information at 5pm the day of a tax deadline and get mad when I don’t stay late to prepare and file their return. I swear some clients think they are literally the only clients on Earth and the sun actually revolves around them and not the planet, and the rest of us are just sitting around waiting for them to reach out and give our lives/jobs meaning.

      1. What the What*

        By the way – we actually implemented a fee for late information. We put a deadline on it and said we’d double their price if they gave us information after that date. About 10 percent of habitually late clients paid attention and corrected their behavior. The rest are paying double.

        So that is a solution if you know you’re going to work the overtime and try to meet the deadline, you can at least try to mitigate your costs by implementing additional fees when the client misses certain target dates.

        1. Cj*

          Doubling the fee mitigates the cost to the company, but not the frustration on the employee’s, unless you use it to give them a bonus. (Also a CPA)

      2. Liz*

        You sound like my BF, also a CPA. He’s always saying “i hate people”. He doesn’t mean that, but he does hate when some of his clients do just what you described. Clients who wait until the last minute, then expect HIS undivided attention to get THEIR stuff done, and so on.

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I always like the response – “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”

      3. Syfygeek*

        And it’s not like you’re creating these deadlines out of thin air, literally, the government sets dates, and they’re public knowledge, you’re not hiding them!

      4. Hester Mae*

        Our tax guy gives us a deadline to get documents to him “in order to ensure timely filings”. We know if we’re late, it’s on us. I think he still probably works a lot of hours before the IRS deadlines, but it actually helps us to know what is expected.

    7. snoopythedog*

      Yup!

      The solution to this is all about proactive client management and communication. I can’t promise it will solve the problem, but it will help with your more reasonable clients/stakeholders (that is if you are the one communicating with them).

      Basically, like others said, do your best to outline your timelines in your contract based on date from receipt of info/materials/specs from client. Clearly discuss this when you discuss timelines and deliverables with the client. Frame it as “it takes us 3 weeks to do the work”, and also discuss in terms of their deadlines “if you need the product/deliverable by x date, the Y date is the latest we need your inputs by. What is a reasonable deadline to set for Y inputs to give us some breathing room and make sure we don’t miss the deadline?”. Then, you follow up! A week or two (or months, depending on what their inputs/materials are), you follow up with a check and say, “we discussed having the inputs to us by Y date to make sure we can hit your final due date of X date. Do you think you will be able to get us these inputs by then? If not, we will need to discuss moving X date. As we discussed in our initial meetings, it will take us A amount of time to do the work from the receipt of your inputs.”

      Being clear about a) what the client wants and why, b)your constraints, c) problem solve together to ensure they have their duckies in a row to meet their final target really helps.

      And if you don’t have the power to talk to the client and your boss does, you can use some of the same framing with them. I usually state it as “I’m concerned that I’m not going to produce the deliverable on time as it looks like the client is not going to give us their inputs in time. It takes me A amount of time without any other deadlines or work to do to get the job done. If we don’t have the inputs by Y, I’m not going to be able to get it done on time. How do you suggest we solve this problem?” Which is basically telling your manager either follow up and put pressure on the client and actually manage the situation, or be prepared to deploy management techniques within the company (overtime, adding extra staff…). With my managers, I then give some solutions or ideas on how to solve- remind the client of their deadline and our constraints, ask for more manpower, draw my boundaries as to what I will do… but at the end of the day, this is a CYA move for if/when things backfire and you are dumped with an impossible job.

    8. stressed out friday today*

      Pad your estimates. If they give things to you “on time”, great, you’ve delivered early. If they don’t, you’re still on time.

      I once doubled my schedule from what I thought it would need to be… and ended up pretty damn accurate due to delays on their side beyond my control.

    9. Quinalla*

      Yes I deal with this, but I hold firm or ask for an additional fee to expedite (if my project team can expedite). Now if my client got screwed by someone else getting them something late, I’ll try and work with them to help them out a bit, but yeah I’m very clear with clients for this reason. I need 1 week or 3 weeks or whatever after I get X, Y & Z.

      Sometimes I will also offer to get them some kind of coordination item on the original date, but not a final product. This can help out, but yeah I honestly will stop working with people who consistently have unreasonable demands and get mad at me for being reasonable. As I like to say, your inability to plan does not constitute an emergency for me. Again, for clients I know, I’m willing to occasionally go above and beyond to help, but it can’t be standard operating procedure.

    10. Kara S*

      I feel you — this is my entire career! Except I am not the person who deals with contracts/client deadlines directly so I can’t push back unless my boss wants to :~(

    11. Qwerty*

      I did a documentation project once where it took close to a month to get my credentials approved, which was after the deadline for my first deliverable. So I had to write a System Access Guide…without having access to the system.

    12. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Yep many hands waving here. Work with retailers who deliver specs both late and with inconsistencies yet have hard shipping deadlines (as in getting stuff on to container ships type of deadlines). No advice just profound sympathy.

    13. Generic Name*

      It’s so common in my line of work (consulting). We write our proposed timelines based on when we get info from the client. So instead of saying, “we will deliver x on DATE/within 2 weeks of notice to proceed” we say, “we will deliver x within 2 weeks of getting y from client”

    14. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was in a situation with an internal client who pushed an important meeting back a month, and then didn’t understand why that delayed the final product (oddly enough, by a month!) and then blamed me for not notifying them that this would happen. Which, yeah, I should have said “you know this will delay the TPS report by a month, right?” But on the other hand, I shouldn’t *have* to say that.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Yes, frequently, because there are a lot of people who indulge in magical thinking.

      You just have to tell them no, it’s not an extension. It’s going to take the same amount of time.

      And, as others said, make sure you state up front that your timeframe starts when they deliver the materials. The people who do this habitually won’t listen, but it screens out the ones who are just confused.

    16. Alex*

      Hand raised! Hand raised!!!! OH IT BURNS ME UP.

      Fortunately, the relationship I have with these people isn’t *exactly* like a client or customer, it’s a little more complex, so I just tell them to STFU.

    17. Nela*

      Both my proposal and my contract state that the start date of the project is once both the advance is paid and the client delivers all materials. I also have very strict guidelines for feedback and revisions, so however many days they’re late with feedback, it’s added to the project deadline. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years and I’ve been through it all. My contract spells out every possible scenario because I’m not accepting blame for their tardiness.

  3. Fuzzy Frogs*

    I work in an office job that is a pretty laid back place, but some people act like they’re still children. When I started one young woman made faces at me and mocked me when I was giving instructions out. She still continues to give me an attitude, though I don’t know why. (She’s nice to the rest of my coworkers. Fortunately, I don’t see her much) Another time, I went to sit in a chair and was reprimanded by a woman because it was “her chair”. (My male coworkers got a kick out of this. They take and send pictures to her anytime someone sits in her chair.)

    I’m quiet so I just do my thing, but then they think I’m mad if I’m not socializing with them. It’s not even conversation- it’s snarky back and forth humor that I don’t know or am not used to.

    Plus, they pick on me. As in, “Omg, look at your hair. Do you color it?” and then one woman was touching my hair. It was the weirdest thing!

    I’ve been ignoring it but it’s beginning to get on my nerves. Some of them are territorial and it’s difficult to talk to people because they have to come around. It would be nice to have conversations with people, but they don’t or can’t do that.

    Any tips for surviving less professional environments? Did anyone experience something like this and what did you say when people acted like this?

    1. Colette*

      So you don’t like the way they joke back and forth … are you making an effort to smile, say hello, and generally be friendly (but quiet)?

      The comment about your hair doesn’t read as them picking on you to me – maybe it was, but I’m not seeing it. The comment about it being “her chair” could have been a joke – since you don’t share their sense of humour, you didn’t read it that way.

      But in general, I think your best option is to be pleasant to them and stop caring what they think of you.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, people shouldn’t touch other people (hair or anything else) without permission. This does sound pretty childish; I think we can trust Fuzzy Frogs to know if things are being said in a snarky or unkind way.

          1. k*

            My colleague just asked our grandboss (in a meeting of 20+ people) if she dyes her hair. I almost fell out of my chair.

        1. Fuzzy Frogs*

          English isn’t my first language, so apologies if I’m not getting my point across. I just feel uncomfortable. It’s not gentle teasing. I can take a joke. This is different.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I believe you, to be clear! I don’t like it when people default to “well they were only JOKING” – it doesn’t matter; you’re uncomfortable.

          2. Colette*

            Different groups have different norms, and some of them are harsher than others. That doesn’t mean it’s OK – but if you can find a way to not take it personally (even if it’s something like “wow, that’s a pretty awful thing to say”), you will be happier in the long run.

            1. LTL*

              Ditto. It just sounds like Fuzzy Frogs operates differently than the others. I’m not seeing anything wrong with the coworkers here. Some people just don’t mesh. But I get how that can be frustrating, especially at work.

              1. pancakes*

                You don’t see anything wrong with touching a coworker’s hair and commenting on it as if they’re a creature in a petting zoo? Just about every aspect of their behavior sounds boorish and socially inept to me.

                1. Colette*

                  Touching hair is wrong, agreed. The rest of it might be awful behavior – or it might be behavior that reads differently to Fuzzy Frogs than it’s intended. (And some of it might be about something else altogether.) But ultimately, there’s not much she can do other than be pleasant and try not to take it personally. (Except the hair touching, that one she can speak up about.)

                2. ToS*

                  Totally agree that the office sounds boorish and LW might want to discern if this is a pocket of people or pervasive culture and figure out how entrenched it might be.

                  Some antidotes for LW to counterbalance this: get busy with her professional associations and collaborate online with others who want to advance that profession. Get busy with a group like Toastmasters that build up people who engage with them – it makes it easier to network and move on/level up

              2. tangerineRose*

                You don’t see anything wrong with these things? I do.

                “When I started one young woman made faces at me and mocked me when I was giving instructions out. She still continues to give me an attitude,”
                “I went to sit in a chair and was reprimanded by a woman because it was “her chair”.”
                ““Omg, look at your hair. Do you color it?” and then one woman was touching my hair.”

              3. PollyQ*

                Really? They sound horrible to me, and I’ve never run into behavior like this in any work environment. Grade school, sure, I saw that kind of behavior there, but not from adults in the working world.

      2. high school teacher*

        Someone at work touched my hair once and it was honestly shocking. That is not okay whatsoever.

      3. Oxford Comma*

        What Fuzzy Frogs is describing doesn’t sound like normal workplace humor. Mocking someone who is giving out instructions, for instance. That sounds like disrespect and hostility.

        And touching without consent is definitely a problem.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          All of this. People here really need to stop gaslighting Fuzzy about what’s happening. These people don’t like Fuzzy for whatever reason and are being very juvenile towards FF as a result.

          1. Alianora*

            This is not gaslighting. Colette is just offering a different perspective. You may disagree with her take, but that doesn’t make it gaslighting.

            Gaslighting is a very specific form of abuse. It doesn’t just mean “someone said something I don’t agree with” or even “someone lied to me.”

            1. Mily*

              It’s not exactly gaslighting, but it is denying and dismissing Fuzzy Frog’s actual experience, which is not very nice.

          2. Colette*

            Here’s the thing: the only person Fuzzy Frogs can control is herself, and people believe what they hear (from others or themselves). If she tells herself these people are out to get her, that’s going to colour how she acts, and that will not serve her well. Maybe they are out to get her – or maybe some of this has nothing to do with her. (Maybe the person making faces was directing them at someone else as part of an inside joke, for example.) But once you start believing that people don’t like you, you focus on the stuff that reinforces that belief. So if Fuzzy Frogs can detach and tell herself that their behaviour has nothing to do with her, she will find it easier to do well in the job.

            And the fact is that if you come into a group and they instantly don’t like you, it probably has nothing to do with you.

            She doesn’t have to be friends with them, or refer them to jobs down the line, but if she can remain pleasant and let them do what they’re going to do, it will result in a better outcome for her.

            Now, she’s still fine to say things like “please don’t touch my hair” – but again, if she does it pleasantly it will result in a better outcome for her than if she snaps at them, particularly if it was meant as a kind of bonding.

            1. kt*

              She can reassure herself it’s not about her and also find these people deeply unpleasant. It’s like the person who finds loud noises stressful but has an entire office that loves blasting the radio and playing YouTube videos at the same time, or the person who loves a bit of noise who is shushed constantly. Sounds like FF’s colleagues enjoy snarky humor and sniping at each other (hey, I’ve been there! I’ve enjoyed that environment!) and FF does not want to have to come up with witty comebacks every time she needs to sit in a chair, or basically always be up for some verbal swordfighting. I’m sorry, FF. I’m not sure what to do. Tell everyone to treat you like a basket of kittens? I mean, if you can kind of make a joke (while being serious) about not wanting to participate in the snarky banter, you may be able to jiujitsu yourself into a better position.

            2. Oxford Comma*

              I don’t know where you work but in every single one of my jobs, which includes two highly toxic environments, if someone was giving instructions, it would have been considered extremely unprofessional and disrespectful to be making faces and mocking the person doing the presenting.

              1. Colette*

                But “making faces and mocking the person doing the presenting” is how Fuzzy Frogs read the incident, and other interpretations exist. (The person making faces had bad stomach cramps, or another medical issue, or they were joking with a friend about something unrelated to the presentation).

                But let’s say you’re right and these people are being deliberately rude – how does that change the advice I gave way back in my first comment?

      4. Workerbee*

        In my experience, someone making a point of “their” chair, parking spot, place in refrigerator where they put their lunch, has always been weirdly territorial. They mean it! I saw this first when working in factory jobs and discovered the same mentality in supposedly highbrow corporate offices.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Wow. I’ve never worked in an environment like that. I’ve been in other kinds of toxic environments but not that specific type of childishness. I will say my best survival technique was to ramp up my job searching process and leave as soon as possible.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Good luck to you – I hope you can get out and into a better environment soon. This sounds annoying and exhausting.

      1. LTL*

        This isn’t toxic. You can argue that it’s not a good environment but that’s not what toxicity is.

    3. Raising an otter villiage*

      No advice, but I completely know what you mean. I had a situation where we had an intern who was inexplicably unkind to me but in very subtle ways. It made me feel crazy because the intern was universally beloved by everyone else, but went out of her way to make digs at me. It was worse because I was in an entry level role, so we were kind of peers but kind of not, but definitely it would have been absurd to complain that the intern was being mean to me. (Not in an objective sense, but at the time I couldn’t even picture what I would tell my supervisor.)

      I’ve seen advice around suggesting to treat weird people like the subjects of your anthropological study. “Mean girl appears determined to sit in specific seat. Is it a ritual? A status symbol? A healing method? Must study further.” It was also comforting to me to just kill with kindness so that I knew I was contributing to whatever weird narrative the intern had im her head that we were enemies.

      Best of luck!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Practice saying “don’t touch my hair, it makes me uncomfortable”, and be ready to say that if it happens again. If she’s just being overly friendly, this will be enough. If she doesn’t stop, you need to talk with you rmanager.
      Speaking of your manager, have you brought this up yet? Especially important if your manager does not know this is happening, or if your manager is one of the offenders. These are not a nice set of behaviors, and a good manager will want to know so they can address it. Especially the hair-touching — that can so easily cross the border into sexual harassment, and in a pandemic they should not be getting that close anyway!
      About the hair thing… yes it can be natural friendliness crossing into the office–but it’s not appropriate for work and doubly so if you ask them to stop. One reason I cut my butt-length hair is getting tired of people tugging on my braid at the office — the worst offender did stop when I used the words I quoted above, but it was uncomfortable. Some friends with natural “Merida” red hair actually started dying it to STOP getting questions about how they get that shade of red. Why do people do this to others!?

      1. Dreama*

        I’m actually more concerned about the “mocking” and “making faces”. WTActual F? Like an eight year-old? How did you respond to that? What kind of response is even possible, other than “What the heck is wrong with you?” Not a professional remark, I suppose, but that behavior is so very inappropriate. Making faces and mocking…..god I’m glad I’m retired!

        1. Windchime*

          I would be tempted to stop and say, “Susan, did you have a question? You looked like you were confused.” In other words, call her out on it. I know that’s hard to do but very often that will stop these types of people, or at least let them know (in front of their peers) that you are seeing the behavior.

    5. Another Mom working at Home*

      When I was pregnant and people touched my belly, I would touch theirs the same way. Seemed to work better than words.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        YES!! I also did this when pregnant. And I reveled in every minute of the touchee’s embarrassment.

        Sometimes when I touched their stomach back, the person would say “oh but I didn’t mean any harm” I would say “ It’s still NOT OK to do that.”

        The only time I’d acknowledge their “didn’t mean any harm” bit was if they first said they were sorry.

      2. Pennyworth*

        How did they react? I’ve always thought that would be a great way to respond to the pregnant belly grope.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This isn’t casual fun behavior, this is rude and obnoxious! This is “children bullying each other in school” kind of stuff.

      I work in relaxed areas with a lot of joking. What’s not acceptable “territories” being established, like the “that’s my chair!”, that’s making people feel uncomfortable for a SHARED SPACE, no, just no.

      They seem to have picked you out to tease in this kind of rude behavior. Please don’t normalize it. that’s not fun-joking-laid back behavior.

      I dance in my office or will make jokes about “This is how horror movies start out!” when someone pops up into my office silently.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yep, I notice that there was no mention of function here. There *could* be reasons beyond just individual preference:
        -“Alana needs to sit in the chair next to the control because she operates the AV equipment. Can you move over one?”
        -“We’re saving the padded chair for Keladry because she’s just back to work after an injury.”
        -“Daja usually sits over on this end so her walking stick doesn’t trip anyone.”
        But as it is… I’d want to know about this if I were your manager.

    7. Up Too Late*

      These people sound extremely immature and boundary pushing to me. It is not normal to touch someone’s hair. That is crossing a line. It’s extremely unprofessional. At lot of the behavior the OP describes sounds like middle school bullying to me.

      My advice:
      1. The mocking, making faces woman — you could either ignore it which is probably your best option. Or, you could call her out in the moment, “Why are you mocking me?” “Why are you making faces at me?” Then, make her explain herself. This is so unprofessional and immature that it should shut her down because she now has to explain why an adult, professional woman is acting like a bullying twelve year old.

      The chair situation: Again, sit wherever you want and ignore these idiots. Or, call them out, “Is this a playground? Are we four years old? No, well then, I’m going to sit here in this currently unoccupied chair. Why does anyone care?” Do not allow anyone to take and/or send your photo without your permission.

      The hair person: Say this, “Why do you ask?” Or, “Why are you asking such a rude question?” Or, “Hasn’t anyone ever taught you any manners?” Do not answer her questions about your hair. If she touches it again say, “Do not touch my hair. That is invasive and rude.” Then leave.

      Report these people to HR if their bullying, harassing behavior doesn’t change. Start looking for another job right away. All of this is extremely abnormal and should never be allowed in any environment, especially the work place. Red flags galore, IMO.

      1. Indy Dem*

        I agree with all of your points, except for the chair one. If the co-worker has medical issues that require her to have a specific chair, then no one else should use it. And if this is true, then that co-worker is being mocked by the other co-workers you describe.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        Or with the faces- asking if she’s feeling okay. Saying that her face contorted oddly and you are concerned something is wrong. It becomes a ‘nice’ way to call her out in that moment and let her know that you see what she’s doing.

        If she makes faces with other people when they give instructions, I’d possibly ask if anyone has spoken with her about it but I wouldn’t be shocked if the answer is no.

        It may not make her stop the behavior but it will draw other people’s attention to it which may make her stop.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. It sounds like there are not too many adults at your place.

      One thing I like to do in situations like this is figure out why the last person left and how long they had been there.

      You could find that the last person left after a few months… and so did the person before the last person… this is good information. It tells you that this has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with them. They are just going through employees for the game of it.

      But going the opposite way, the person who was there before you could have been there FOREVER and they have decided not to like the new person (you) no matter what.

      Of the two problems, I would prefer to have the second problem. And the reason for that is if they liked my predecessor then at some point they MAY find it in their hearts to like me.

      You don’t say how long you have been there. You do mention that you are job hunting so that is good. For the short term then, one thing that has helped me is I tell myself that everyone gets a free pass for the first 6 months. It can take a year to settle into a job. I have seen some really strange, strange behaviors when I started a job but once I was there a while stuff stopped. At my current job, there was a person who was unpredictable with me- some days nice and some days they were ice. I never knew if they would help me or ignore me. So I pulled out my trusty 6 month free pass for this person and went about learning and doing my job. Time passed and things calmed down. Yeah, I had to take the high road, I helped them when I KNEW they would ignore me in return. But we found things to talk about, then we found a shared interest. Whatever that barrier was, it started to lessen and lessen. We talked about our shared interest A LOT. In the end, they were let go. Within the last few months the person was there, I found out they had a very, sad, sad life. And I could see that they felt like they did not have a friend or ally at work. NO, it does not make this person’s behavior okay, nope, not at all. But it made me glad that I took a higher road because I definitely would not want to kick anyone, especially someone who is already down on their luck. It took years for this story to play out. But I felt good about how the “6 months free pass” actually worked out for me.

    9. juneybug*

      This is going sound snotty but I survive those situations by thinking in my head that I am more professional than these pranksters and one day be promoted (while they will never move up due to their lack of maturity).
      Meanwhile, I am pleasant, smile, occasionally laugh at their jokes, and change the subject to work when I can. I don’t even try to fit in their “cliches”.

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      This sounds so hard. I worked in a place where certain teams acted this way. Like stealing a person’s crutches to play with, leaving them somewhere and she couldn’t get up to get them.
      Try to be nice and smile but dont get caught up in their drama. So if the say why aren’t you talking with us say, oh I’ve got so much to do I need to focus. But if something happens call it out. Like if someone is making g faces say, what’s with the face, are you ok? If you can pull it off act really concerned, are you ok? Are you feeling well because you look strange. Are you having a stroke?
      But if someone touches you try to move out of reach and say please dont touch me. If it continues you have the right to slap their hand away.

      I will say that the chair thing could be a legit thing for that person. At one job I had, (ironically the same one I mentioned above) we had to desk hop, and share desks and chairs. There were several people who would break the chairs (some couldn’t help itas they were bigger people and these chairs were the cheapest, flimsiest things ever) or they would adjust the chair that would work for them but would be hard to get adjusted for another person. I have back issues and so myself, along with others like me, had special chairs that were assigned. We had named on it and when not in use would be In the corner. So maybe the coworker with the chair doesn’t want others to sit in it because she dosen’t want someone to adjust it. Or she could be a germ freak and not like Sharing.

      1. Cassidy*

        She should say so matter-of-factly if the chair is for her specifically. No one is a mind reader.

    11. AMG*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that! I had a similar situation when I started a new job many years ago, with a group of women who were very strange/agressive and constantly making jokes at the expense of me and other colleagues. I actually had the exact same thing happen with someone’s chair! It turned out several staff liked to sit in her chair and move it when she wasn’t around to be rude, and I was invited to use it by the people who wanted to mess with her. It was just a very toxic environment and the awful people seemed to have power in numbers. Eventually, the majority of them were let go and the ones who remained chilled out, and I went on to have some great relationships and a successful tenure there. It can get better and hopefully, if others at your job have any sense, everyone knows who has bad behavior and bad attitudes and they won’t last there long.

      Our management team was aware of their behaviors but weren’t interested in addressing it initially, so those of us who were bothered were kind of on our own.The way I handled it really was ignorning them and not interacting when I didn’t have to. When I did have to, and when they made weird jokes/comments towards me or about others in conversation with me, I would look at them confused and say “what?” or just stay stern and straight faced. They eventually stopped trying to engage me much in their bs because I wasn’t reacting at all. Instead, I focused more on developing relationships with colleagues who were positive and kind, and those relationships made my work a lot more pleasant. Good luck!!! I hope those people grow up or get new jobs.

    12. RagingADHD*

      The only way I’ve ever successfully dealt with this was when I blurted out my honest reactions in the moment, like “What? Don’t touch me!” or “Did you seriously just ask me that?”

      They didn’t like me any better, but they backed off. It wasn’t a deliberate strategy, I just can’t always hold stuff in.

      All in all, I think it’s valid – outrageous behavior should be treated like it is, in fact, outrageous.

    13. Doc in a Box*

      Are you by chance a woman of color? I’m Indian, and I know I don’t have it as bad as my African-American colleagues, but the hair touching thing is such a trope facing WOC in the workplace (elsewhere too).

      One way I’ve dealt with it is to jerk my head away like their hand is a venomous snake, then say stonily, “Please don’t do that again.” If/when it happens again, I excuse myself from the room and immediately write an email to my manager, no details but just “An incident just occurred in [location]. Please let me know when you are free to talk.”

      Yes, it’s sad that this has happened so often that I have an algorithm to deal with it.

      1. winter*

        Yeah I was wondering whether Fuzzy is a different demographic than the others and getting shit because of that (under plausible deniability).

        But even if it occurs without this backdrop: These people are obnoxious and weird and I think there are some good suggestions in the thread how to react.

  4. Britta Perry*

    How do I follow up after this kind of interview?

    Almost three weeks ago I had a Zoom interview with another team in my company (same department, my boss recommended me to them). It wasn’t for one specific position; the team expects to fill several roles “soon”, and I have experience relevant to more than one position; so, they talked to me somewhat generally about their current projects/possible roles, the experience I’ve had, and my goals for the future. I sent them a follow up email a day or two after the interview, but I think it’s time to check in again. I told them I was available to start anytime, given 2-3 weeks’ notice, but I didn’t ask them for specifics about their timeline–my mistake. I think it just feels strange (pushy?) to ask for an update, given that I wasn’t applying for a specific role, and I don’t have a good sense of their timeline; but maybe I’m overthinking it?

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I agree with Jimming, and depending on the size of your company and your relationship with the new department you can probably do a casual (but not unprofessional!) follow up to see how things are moving.

      Maybe something like a “I realized I didn’t ask if you had a timeline in mind” or “has there has been any progress” ?

  5. merp*

    Low stakes question, but I am applying to an entirely remote job and struggling with a couple of formatting things in my cover letter. Usually I would do the business letter thing, with:

    Company Name
    Address

    Date

    Dear Hiring Manager:

    But this company is a) almost entirely remote and b) seems to have two HQ locations. So I’m not really sure what to put there, or if I should omit it entirely. Is there a right way to do this or does this even matter? Am I doing that thing where I’m getting unnecessarily caught up on small details instead of the content, which matters far more? (Assuming the answer to the last question is yes, haha.)

    1. MissBliss*

      I think you’re getting hung up in the details. I would just put the date and then Dear Hiring Manager.

      Best of luck!

    2. Ali G*

      The address isn’t important! Don’t worry about it – your cover letter doesn’t have to an actual letter.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t put a company name and address at the top of a cover letter in over 15 years. Just leave it out.

    4. Sapphire (they)*

      I was also taught the “you MUST have the company address on your cover letter!” method of writing them, both by college and by the county workforce center. You don’t need it, but we get these weird things drilled into us and it’s so unnecessary. Good luck!

      1. merp*

        Ha, yes! I’ve always worked in places with easy-to-find physical locations where I would be working, so I never really had to question this one before. At least I bailed on “to whom it may concern” a long time ago!

        1. Sapphire (they)*

          Ha, yup, I remember doing that too! I might have even used “Dear Sir/Madam” for a time…

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          I think that norm probably went away with the advent of email. When you used to literally have to mail a typewriter-typed cover letter, those sorts of formalities made more sense.

    5. Cranky Pants*

      If I’m mailing a business letter I include the address. If I’m sending it electronically I do not. Since cover letters are usually sent electronically now I would not include the address.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Tri-Tone Teapots Incorporated
      Los Angeles, CA

      If I know a location, or if no city just:

      XYZ Teapot & Coffeepot Company

      1. Wordybird*

        Most of the remote companies I apply at are generally much more laidback and “hip” than non-remote ones so my cover letters don’t have addresses or dates at all. I research the company via their website or LinkedIn to find out either the HR/People Ops director’s name and/or whom my supervisor would be if I were to get the job (which is sometimes obvious & sometimes now) and start out my cover letters with “Dear [First Name],” and sign it “Sincerely, [Wordybird]”

  6. Sapphire (they)*

    So… what do you do if potential manager references at the two jobs you were at the longest will be negative and the company policy is not to provide references?
    I have two references from my most recent jobs, but one I was at for only five months before I was laid off, and the other is a contract position that’s ending. The job I was at for a year before just wasn’t a good fit and they did say I was eligible for re-hire in a different role, but they also don’t provide references. Any advice? I’m in the second round for a position I think would be a good long-term fit for me, but I’m afraid my references will sink my chances.

      1. Sapphire (they)*

        So… the job I was at for three years fired me because I wasn’t fast enough with the data entry, and I also was told they couldn’t give references either. I suppose there’s a lot of assumption on my part there, but I don’t really want to contact them to ask (it was a really toxic and queerphobic work environment).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Honestly, I think if you’re straightforward about the fact you were fired and why, the person checking the references may take that into context, and that can inform the types of questions they ask the older references versus the more recent ones. They’d want to know what good things you offered at the place you were fired from and how you’ve improved since then (or maybe you don’t do data entry more).

          1. Sapphire (they)*

            Right, but I still don’t know how to get around the “Company policy prohibits giving references, we just confirm dates of employment” piece. I’ve at least learned how to tell that story of being terminated without crying, but I’m realizing all of this is really painful for me to think about for reasons I elaborated on below.

            1. ...*

              Just say that its their company policy and the reference checker will understand. You don’t need to get around it just tell them the truth, its not like you designed the company policy

            2. Artemesia*

              If you got fired and they claim they have not banned you from re-hire then GREAT that all they do is confirm dates of employment. That is in your interests. Don’t worry about it

      2. Sapphire (they)*

        Regarding the job I was at for a year… When my manager told me she didn’t feel I was a good fit and that I’d be terminated soon, I came back the next week, agreed with her and asked if we could make a plan to transition me out of the role, and she did say she appreciated the way I handled the situation. But there’s still the issue that company policy prohibits giving references so I’m not sure how to get around that.

        I’m also realizing I have a lot of Feelings surrounding this because I feel like I’ve failed at being a working adult because of this and I’ll never find a permanent fit.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I’ve sometimes had to say “the companies I was at won’t do references for anyone; they just confirm dates of employment. But I can give you a colleague or two you can talk to if you like?” They’d rather have managers, of course, but I have done this and still gotten jobs. Admittedly, I’m in a field which hires largely on practical testing (all interviews involve a hands-on exam where you prove to them exactly what you can do), so references are somewhat less important than in some professions, but they’re not completely irrelevant, and I still succeeded without manager references. Good luck!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was at a company where things went sour and they were told not to give references for me. When I interviewed at the next job and I was asked about references, I told them that they wouldn’t get a reference from my previous job, but I could provide them with other professional references. It didn’t seem to be a problem because I was able to give them other managers to talk to.

      1. Sapphire (they)*

        The issue I’m having is that the two good manager references I have are from short-term things (one where I got laid off after five months and one short term contract that ended today). I have some manager references from seasonal jobs where I’ve worked multiple years but I don’t know if that’s better.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Your two most recent positions will give you good references, so use them, use them with pride! Layoffs are beyond your control, and the other was a succesfully completed contract. You can calmly say your previous company has a policy of not giving references, and find an extra person from the most recent two employers who would speak for you. Even better, if you know of someone who has already left that third company back who you did have a good working relation ship with, that’s worth contacting them. You were there a year — what’s the chance you had more than one supervisors/managers and one priortized accuracy over speed? Is there someone you supported from another department who could speak to how you responded on time? Or in reverse, was there someone who supported YOUR department and can say you submitted clearly worded requests with enough leadtime and detail? You get the idea — someone you worked with where it all went well.
          Alison has a lot about references in the archives – you might find some useful bits there, if you haven’t already.

          1. Sapphire (they)*

            Kind of? I did go through that section of the archives before asking, but the sticking point seems to be “company policy prohibits giving references.” All it said was “That’s HR’s stance but managers are different” and I truly don’t know if that’s the case here. More companies seem to be using The Work Number or similar services to serve as a reference, and it would help to know how to proceed if a manager actually does say “policy prohibits references.”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              So I had a boss who could not be trusted to be fair. Fortunately, the company had a no references policy. Any time that came up on an interview the conversation just boiled down to, “Give me someone/anyone who can attest to your work.”
              I am mentioning this so you don’t get blindsided, have other people lined up as references so you can be ready for this request.
              Pretty much what interviewers wanted was some idea of how I am to work with. They knew they could not MAKE a company give a reference if the company had a policy against it. So all that was left was to tell me to produce more references.
              I have gotten people from volunteer work to agree to be a reference.

              I see about not meeting goals for data entry. If you are not taking similar job then the interviewer probably will not care. For myself, I found that I pretty much suck at repetitive work. I need to move around for one thing, but I also need work that engages my brain. If I do similar things all day long my brain decides that it’s nap time. sigh. Not every job is for everyone. It takes a certain type of strength to do this work and I just do not have strength like that. My strength is in other places.
              For me, at that time, I told myself “a five year old could do this job, why can’t I just focus and do it?”. Of course this type of self-talk only made the situation FAR worse because I was basically beating myself up. Additionally, by following this type of thinking I cut myself off from finding what I COULD do. I was so busy thinking “I should be able to do this” that I forgot to think about “there’s something out there that fits MY skills and I need to figure out what that would be.”

              Go easy on you.

          2. Sapphire (they)*

            Your point about a third person from this contract is a good one. I have a team lead who could speak to my strengths, and she said everyone in our cohort could use us as a reference. This is really helpful to think about, honestly.

          3. Sapphire (they)*

            So because of the pandemic, I completely forgot about this, but I do have a side job at a local theater that I’ve worked regularly since 2016, and my bosses are always happy to provide a reference. Doy.
            Thank you to everyone who answered my question, this was causing a lot of distress.

    2. The New Normal*

      References and Job Verification are two separate issues though. I would do job verification for a previous employer. All I did was verify the name, job title, and employment dates. No other information was authorized.

      But a reference is different. It is a manager or colleague who worked with you directly and can speak about your skills personally. You should reach out to those individuals with whom you had a good working relationship and ask them to be your reference.

    3. Moonbeam Malone*

      I think the thing is – if they won’t provide references as a matter of policy, they’ll say that to hiring managers over the phone and while it doesn’t give them the feedback they want they’re not likely to hold that against you. Just keep being honest with hiring managers about the circumstances. From what you describe you left at least one of those positions on good terms with the manager despite not being the right fit for your role, and that’s a good thing to mention in interviews when it comes up! I think you’re probably handling it fine.

      It sounds like you just need some more emotional distance from the pain of being terminated and that takes some time. My only advice: try making scripts for how you want to talk about it, keep them as brief and factual as possible but be kind to yourself. Focus on what you did right and on what you learned from the experience, if that’s applicable. Review that script at a set time before interviews and when preparing application materials and any other time, put it away. When you find yourself fretting about it in your down-time remember that you already have your script, and right now it is filed away for safe-keeping. It will be there when you need it, but now’s not the time.

      1. Sapphire (they)*

        I have been able to make a script about being terminated from my first job (I basically had to as it was the only job post college that I had on my resume), but the abuse I endured from my boss and being discriminated against for being openly trans are more distressing than I first thought. I have a script for my second job (which is also the truth), but I have been feeling like a failure at capitalism, if that makes sense. Not being able to keep a job for long this past year has been really painful.

  7. kittymommy*

    Ok everyone, fairly low-key question and I know there has been some discussion on this but I’m still curious as to what to do. I had a fairly good interview this week. There were three people in it, the department director, whom will make the decision, the deputy director, and the HR manager. Only the director asked questions (and just 1 at that). This is government so this is a little unusual. And this will be the only interview. So do I send thank you cards to all three people or just the director?

    1. Jimming*

      Send a thank you email to all 3! Even if they didn’t ask questions they took time to be there.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        +1. I just finished interviewing candidates for a job as part of a team – I was not the hiring manager – and I appreciated the follow-up e-mail.

    2. Ali G*

      I would do all three. You can thank them for taking the time to meeting with you, even if they didn’t say anything.

    3. Kittymommy*

      Thanks all. This is what I was thinking as well just needed validation I wasn’t going to be overbearing.

  8. Box of Kittens*

    Anyone have tips on staying motivated at work right now? I am so thankful to still have a job, but with all our events and meetings having been cancelled pretty much for the forseeable future I am having so much trouble motivating myself to complete tasks. I’m fine at home and with my personal hobbies, which makes me think it’s not covid-depression related, but at work it’s like climbing a mountain to work on anything. Sometimes I’ll get started on something and then bail when I start to have to use my brain. It’s terrible! I keep a planner and project list and am doing enough to basically cover my ass but I am having so much trouble focusing on real projects and outcomes. Help?!

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m having a lot of trouble too. It was especially hard when I was at home all day. I used to take walks to wake myself up and motivate me

    2. MissGirl*

      I’ve been struggling lately too. I think the newness has worn off and I’m having a harder time staying focused.

      I think part of my problem is how hot it is. My office is upstairs and come afternoon, it’s harder to stay in here. It’s too hot to do walks in the afternoon. I wish I could start earlier and end earlier but I can’t. I’ll have to see what others suggest.

      1. Allie*

        I think the newness wearing off is definitely part of it. At first it was like “I’ve never worked from home, I could try it” but now it’s completely stale. And I’ve realized I don’t want to work remotely

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I’ll be watching this thread closely because this is where I’m at. Between my company cancelling raises this year, drastically cutting my quarterly bonus by 67% so they can “reinvest” the funds to go public (which no one asked for), my great manager being promoted up out of my department with little to no warning – I’m just over everything right now.

    4. Ashley*

      I try to make a list of must get done today and then I get satisfaction from crossing things off. On the longer list of things that need done if I can hit one of two of those that helps. Rewarding yourself might also work. If you do X, you will reward yourself with Y. (Walk around the block, coffee break, etc.)

      1. Rachel*

        I do the list thing. I found I need to order my work more like I did in graduate school (have a list of tasks, work through them on whatever schedule works for me, and declare myself “done” when the target tasks are completed) and less like I do in the office. Fortunately, most of my workflow is such that this works most days. Reframing my approach has really helped me feel motivated and accomplished. Good luck!

    5. Well...*

      Ugh me too. Or I turn my brain on for an hour, finish one thought-intensive task, and am immediately exhausted and tempted to do something mindless to reward myself. What used to be walking now does feel like climbing a mountain.

      I miss the energy I used to have after brainstorming meetings :(

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe it’s okay not to be that motivated? I mean, I think a lot of people are in the same boat as you. Is the pressure to feel motivated mainly coming from you or from your manager?

      1. Box of Kittens*

        It’s me, which I think is part of my issue possibly. I always thought I was a more internally motivated person but it turns out that at work I really need more deadlines and structure and collaboration to be motivated. I’ve covered everything I absolutely need to cover and my manager is fine with that; I’m just not nearly as on top of like long-term projects and updates as I usually am.

        1. snoopythedog*

          Woof. BoK- this is me exactly. I always thought I was internally motivated, but I realize now that I’m very good at being internally motivated- when I have some external structure. What I’m lacking now is that external structure, which doesn’t even have to come with my job…in fact it’s easier for me to be motivated at my job if I have small externally imposed other things going on during the work week. Pre-COVID and distancing, it was having a group workout scheduled after work twice a week and then needing to complete some solo (or meet up with others) to do the rest of my workouts so that I was ready for my twice weekly group workout. Having that external item helped me to mentally arrange the rest of my week and be super motivated.
          With COVID/WFH/no outside life, I just don’t’ have the motivation to get things done at work. So what if I slack off and then work later to make up for it….all my commitments are flexible anyways since it’s just me, myself, and I. Having virtual commitments (like phone calls or skype with friends) honesty isn’t enough motivation for me. I’m still trying to work out what my happy medium is. Socially distanced meet ups 1:1 might be an option…but I need to keep an at-risk family member safe and my closest friends are teachers or front line health care, so a little more exposed than your average person.

          I’m loathe to ask my manager for more strict work deadlines or structure, but I find myself on the hamster wheel of being demotivated and then panicked I’m not producing enough or at the right pace at work. Most of my work is self-guided/self-led and I struggle with asking for help.

          Sorry, I know that was no advice or help, just commiserating.

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      Whenever I’m hitting a lull (which is completely understandable!) I picture my last job which was completely awful and imagine having to go back there. That usually does the trick.

    8. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Take a vacation day. I know, it sounds weird, because you still have weekends, and if you’re like me, there’s not really anywhere to go. But take an extra day, or if you can, work four hours for a few days and not eight. I ended up having to do this because I got sick (not COVID) and honestly, working only four hours a day and spending more time sleeping and just relaxing helped. I feel like there is such a mental difference between being at home on the weekends when you normally work in the office, and being at home on the weekend when you work at home. I’m not getting that “re-set” I used to get from the weekends anymore.

    9. Kara S*

      One thing I’ve found helpful is to force myself to take breaks. Even if I’m on a roll or I feel like I could keep going, I take a 5-15 min break every couple of hours. I find this helps reset my mind and motivation in a way and also stops me from feeling burned out at the end of the day.

      It can also help to break down every task you have to do into as many small pieces as possible and try to tackle those. That way you feel like you’re completing work and checking off goals more often + it’s easier to tackle a bigger task that takes more mental energy.

      I also say all of this having really struggled with motivation myself, and on days when this doesn’t work I try to be kind to myself and do what I can. Good luck!

    10. Box of Kittens*

      Really appreciate everyone’s thoughts here! It honestly helps a bit just to know I’m not the only one.

      1. Anon PhD*

        You’re SO NOT the only one, I can relate to you and most of the commenters. I 100% agree about taking a vacation day, I took a few and felt wonderful. Midday breaks where I actually walk outside and sometimes buy coffee instead if making it have also been tremendously helpful…without these breaks I was constantly on the verge of falling asleep in the afternoons.

    11. Anax*

      Just to cover the obvious bases –

      Are your home/hobby activities intellectually intensive and requiring extended focus?

      It sounds like your executive function is working, but that doesn’t rule out brain fog. (Borrowing a description from NIMH – “The impairment is not fully understood and often is described as slow thinking, difficulty focusing, confusion, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, or a haziness in thought processes.”)

      The obvious checks there would be chronic stress (obviously common right now), chronic sleep debt (ditto), and maybe something like Vitamin D – taking a multivitamin while we’re all stuck inside isn’t a terrible idea, imo. It’s also quite hot out in a lot of the northern hemisphere, so you may want to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids and consuming enough electrolytes – gatorade is great because to most people, it tastes disgusting unless you’re actually in need of electrolytes, so we use it as an informal test in my household.

      There’s obviously also the chance that there’s an underlying physical issue going on – personally, I get tachycardia-induced brain fog whenever it’s hot out, which is a pain right now. (Also, a bit low on sleep – it’s really hard to go to bed at 10 when I should, when it doesn’t feel like a “work night” anymore, and some of our friends are no longer working or working second shift and therefore up much later.)

      But yeah, BoK, I’m in the same boat, it’s so hard to feel motivated right now; I’m tired and I don’t waaaaanna.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        Glad you pointed out the obvious bases, because that was not obvious to me actually. I think my outside of work hobbies aren’t really that brain intensive – I read a lot and listen to podcasts and do yoga and walk my dog, lol. Not much brainpower needed for any of that. Thank you for pointing that out.

    12. Emilia Bedelia*

      I am a big fan of the Getting Things Done method.
      One of the key tips that helps me most: When you make a “To Do list”, don’t just write the project name- break it down to the actual tasks that need to be done. Each line on your to-do list should be an action verb, not a noun.
      Eg, instead of writing “Teapot Report “, write “Email Persephone about Teapot sales numbers. Find last quarter’s Teapot report. Draft Sales section of quarterly report. Set up meeting with Horatio to review final Teapot report.”

      Whether you use the entire GTD method (which I do recommend for anyone looking for an organizational system) or not, I think breaking down tasks as far as possible is really helpful for picking a starting point. Breaking down big projects into manageable bites helps me to keep focused and get momentum by knocking out the small things.It also helps me recognize when a task will take a lot of focus and effort, so I can block out time in my most productive hours to actually do the work.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        This is probably what I’m going to have to start doing. I have been trying to pick out one or two tasks to complete each day, which feels like a really low bar, but it’s stuff like “update ad” when it needs to be “decide on new headline/theme for ad,” “find stock photo,” “make ad template,” etc. Ugh! But thank you for this reminder.

        1. snoopythedog*

          I’ve started doing that.

          If you work on office365 products, To Do is one of my favourite new apps. It consolidates all your tasks from other microsoft apps (planner etc) and your flagged emails. It allows you to set deadlines for tasks, move your tasks for the present day to a “Today” spot and makes a delightful sound when you check tasks off your list.

          It has been super helpful to me to break tasks to achievable levels so I can check something off and feel a sense of accomplishment. It also helps me to work in small chunks and take more breaks. When I can’t focus, I try to set a small goal like “reply to the 4 pending project emails on today’s task list which require me to track down documents, then go outside for 5 minutes”.

        2. Taniwha Girl*

          This is what I started doing about a month and a half ago after struggling just like you and it (along with refocusing on eating well, exercising, adding interesting stimuli and goals to my hobbies and lifestyle) has really changed my mental outlook and work output.

      2. BetsCounts*

        I **love** getting things done. Merlin Mann does not seem to be updating 43folders anymore but I still reference his project vs next action verb list when I’m figuring out what comes next.

    13. AMG*

      Yes! I am so glad to see all of these comments because sometimes I feel really alone in this; my colleagues all seem to be charging ahead without issue and meanwhile every day I have to force myself to do any work. But honstely, we’re living through a pandemic and a whole host of other insane, scary, and depressing things. It’s awesome that you can still get your hobbies done! But I don’t think that means you’re 100% adjusted to this, and I think it’s totally normal to have lost interest or motivation in work.

      I don’t know about you, but I find it super frustrating that I park myself at my desk for 8+ hours a day but am only productive like half of that time. The rest of that time is spent messing around online or my phone. So, what’s worked for me this past week: I decided to start just “admitting defeat” by taking real, substantial breaks during the day when my focus starts drifting, instead of surfing but staying at my desk. So, I’ll get work done when I have those rare enerfy/focus bursts, and when those die off I’ll just walk away and go for a run, sit outside to read, bake bread, whatever. Then after an hour or two I’m often feeling a lot more motivated, especially when I come back to emails and, often, new things I have to handle. It’s definitely not how I want to live my work life long-term, but this is (hopefully) not life long-term.

      1. I take tea*

        Adding to the “you are not alone” choir here. So much brain power goes to the constant low key worrying. I’m in the lucky position that I can take time off, I do that occasionally. Sometimes I just take a half day, so that the half effort is really good.

        Tips I have got from other threads about procrastination here are listening video game music, I don’t even play, but it’s really helpful (I love Skyrim) and pomodoro timer to get started.

  9. Minty Fresh*

    Any independent distributors/DSD people on here? I’m thinking of quitting my job and buying a route. Am I crazy?

    1. WellRed*

      I guess that depends where you are? I read an article in our local paper yesterday about how route sales are way down for certain things, because people are at home, not at the office buying things from the vending machine. They had to lay off 40% of their staff.

    2. tab*

      We have a good friend who does this. He delivers snack foods to grocery stores. His business is good (especially right now), but physically demanding. He also gets up at 4:30 to start his route and is done before noon. The downside is that he has to find someone to do his route if he is sick or wants a vacation.

      1. Minty Fresh*

        Yes, finding coverage is my biggest concern! I found a company in New York (not where I live) that does temp DSD staffing nationwide, so I want to call them to see what kind of services they offer. Do you have any idea how successful your friend has been in finding coverage or what methods he has used?

        Thanks for the replies, WellRed and tab!

        1. tab*

          He has had mixed results getting coverage. The person he purchased the route from retired, but would sometimes cover for a few days to make some money. Another person seemed excited to be a back up, but she wasn’t reliable.

    3. Anono-me*

      Why not ask the temp agency, if you can work for them for a little bit and see if you actually like it? Better to give up a few weekends now and maybe burn through a week of vacation; than to jump in with both feet and discover you hate it. (But keep inind that this is coming from someone who is of an exceedingly cautious nature. )

  10. Job search or no?*

    I was holding off my casual job search because my company is really solid and good at long-term planning, so I figured it was a safe place for now. But this week they reorganized an entire department, splitting it into three sub-groups, letting a bunch of people go, and shoving a disliked manager into another department entirely.

    My first instinct was that the timing was a coincidence and the changes are good ones–there was a lot of clutter (managers reporting to managers, directors reporting to directors). But I’ve also noticed that more than half of the people let go had sky-high medical expenses over the past couple of years: one a bedrest pregnancy followed by a fragile preemie, another with repeated extensive spine surgeries, another with years-long diabetes complications.

    What’s your gut reaction (based on what I realize is limited information)? Kick up the job search?

    1. irene adler*

      I don’t see any downside to ramping up the job search.

      It maybe coincidental or intentional that these people were targeted for lay off. If management are good planners, they have addressed the legal aspect properly so that they are not guilty of targeting protected persons in their layoffs.

      But if a company that is “good at long-term planning” has to reorganize an entire department and lay off “a bunch of people”, that doesn’t sound like their planning is very good. Sure, these are unusual times. But that is a lot of reorganization in a short amount of time.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        THIS. And yeah, they definitely sound like they may end up in some hot water anyway if everyone they let go had some sort of disability at some point. Yikes!

    2. MissGirl*

      Not enough info but you did say the reorganization was a good thing. However, it never hurts to do a job search. You can always reject an offer.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is what I was going to say. Starting a job search doesn’t mean you have to take a different job. If you job search for a while and then your company stabilizes and you decide you’d be happy to stay there, great! But it never hurts to hedge your bets in case it goes in the other direction.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        I’m sure companies do this – they lay off older workers, those with high medical costs (especially if the company is self-insured), etc,and just enough people who aren’t in those categories so the company can’t be accused of discrimination. Or they reorganize in such a way as to eliminate the positions of people in those groups. It makes it ridiculously difficult to bring suit.

    3. Saberise*

      It may not be the fact it was sky-high medical expenses. They all sound like people that took a lot of time off from work due to health issues. Not that that is any better. Curious if some of the others that were let go also had a lot of time off.

  11. Casey*

    How do I research salary norms in preparation for an interview/offer (not that I’m close to one right now, but for the future)? I’ve googled “entry level [job] in [location]” and checked a few sites, which tend to vary by more than $10,000. Is there a specific website I should trust?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      A variance of $10k isn’t surprising. There is a lot of fluctuation even for entry-level based on education and experience, and also for the demands of the job. I feel like the top salaries are outliers based on a super candidate that had a masters and gobs of related experience and is working at a top paying company.
      I tent to consider the lowest salary and then talk myself up, as if I was negotiating. Would I have more education or experience than the average candidate? To have have special skills? That helps me consider where I should be in the range.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Echoing AndersonDarling that $10,000 is an expected amount of variance, especially since “entry level” job duties can vary from place to place, even with the same job title. And budgets/resources can also vary widely from place to place. I remember interviewing at two places once for essentially the same job in essentially the same geographic area—one place said they couldn’t pay any more than $34K, and the other place offered me $65K.

    3. Wordybird*

      I recently had to submit salary reqs (ugh!) for a job I interviewed for so I researched that job title on Glassdoor, Payscale.com, & Salary.com, and averaged the numbers I got together into a range I submitted. I’ve never held this type of job before and don’t know anyone who does it for a living so this was as close to partial/objective as I could come up with. My interviewer didn’t express any concern & I’m okay with making the lowest number of that range while also am prepared to negotiate up higher the band because of applicable skills X, Y, and Z and my college degree (which will be helpful for the role).

    4. pony tailed wonder*

      Google Occupational Outlook Handbook to get a good start on researching this. Your field will probably have resources unique to it as well.

    5. quirkypants*

      Your best bet is finding someone (ideally several someone’s) in the industry and city you’re looking at, and ask them. When that hasn’t been an option, I’ve found payscale is relatively accurate but they will also provide a range. But when you read their description, they often include other factors to consider which might help you figure out if you are closer to the top or the bottom of the range.

  12. Help*

    Any tips for working with a difficult assistant manager? Avoiding him is unfortunately not an option because we have to work together. At first I thought that he was just a “rough around the edges” type of a guy, but instead he is a jerk. He makes gross comments about women. He’s older than me, yet calls me old and hangs around the 20 year old workers.

    He’s married, yet is flirting and hanging out with a younger coworker in her 20s (She is also married.) It’s not my place to say anything, it’s just awkward and uncomfortable. When I try to talk to him, he’s always on the phone with her or running out to meet her. He talks about her a lot to others in our department and tells our boss that he goes to lunch with her, so he isn’t exactly hiding it.

    Any advice or similar experiences?

        1. WellRed*

          ugh! You’re right that you can’t comment on his flirting, but you do you really have to tolerate the sexist remarks? How is his manager? Or HR? I’m guessing you aren’t comfortable commenting in the moment.

          1. Help*

            We have the same manager, but he doesn’t do it front of our manager. It’s usually when we’re alone.

            1. Venus*

              Make a record over several weeks, of date/time and what was said to whom (yourself and any other witnesses, then bring it to HR.

    1. irene adler*

      So does calling you “old” equal age discrimination? And, are you over 40?
      IF so, would management be okay with him doing this?

    2. Emmie*

      I see three choices for you:
      – Do nothing.
      – Talk to the younger coworker
      – Talk to to your HR department
      I recommend mentioning it briefly to your HR department. It is helpful to have specific statements he’s made that are gross, examples of his flirting, and any witnesses to the statements. It may be helpful to also explain how this impacts your job. You’re uncomfortable working with him. Are there any examples of favoritism with this employee?

      1. pancakes*

        Why talk to the younger coworker rather than someone higher-up than everyone involved? Even if she flirts back with him she’s not responsible for his behavior, and he’s senior to her.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          She may be as uncomfortable with the situation as Help*, in which case that’s TWO people going to HR.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      How is your relationship with HIS manager? If it’s at least OK, and if you don’t see his manager defending him or ignoring stuff he does, it could be helpful to go to his manager and talk to them about the things the AM has said. You don’t want to do so in a really emotional way, but if you talk about the gross comments and say, “I’m concerned these kinds of comments could make this a hostile environment for women to work here, which could cause problems for our company,” it should be clear that this is serious. As for the flirtation with the young coworker, is what they’re saying and doing inappropriate? Like, are there sexual comments or public displays of affection? If so, that would be worth mentioning–not because they’re married to other people or because the age difference is inappropriate, but because that kind of behavior isn’t work-appropriate. If it’s more that you just see them talking all the time and spending a lot of time together, I agree it’s possibly a problem, but not one you would really have the standing to address.

      1. Help*

        I’m in an environment where others hug and make sexual jokes/comments, so it’s hard to know where/how the line is drawn.

        1. valentine*

          I’m in an environment where others hug and make sexual jokes/comments, so it’s hard to know where/how the line is drawn.
          The line is drawn where you draw it. You don’t have to tolerate sexual talk, even when it’s not directed at you. Report this guy. If you want to say something about the general culture, maybe do that later. You want your manager to tackle this one person’s behavior, not get bogged down in the big picture.

    4. Not So Negative Nelly*

      I wouldn’t touch the relationship issue with the 20 yo, but I would start documenting any sexist remarks or over-the-top jerk-like behavior. Does your workplace have a decent HR or a culture of not tolerating ass hat behavior? I hope so. Focus on yourself and don’t tolerate sexist crap.

    5. Lady Heather*

      Making gross comments about women seems like sex discrimination/harassment? And being a witness to flirting might also qualify, I think – depending on what you mean by flirting, I’ve seen that word used to describe anything from coy looks and smiles to double entendres and explicit language.

      You don’t have to go to the boss/HR/etc if you don’t want to, but it might help you to internally frame it in a “he’s doing something objectively wrong” way rather than a “I get a subjective uncomfortable feeling” way.

      The problem with wrong behaviour that appears to be accepted, is that it makes you (me, at least) feel like you’re the odd one out for being uncomfortable, like you are the problem/are too sensitive, and like you have to pretend it’s acceptable in order to not make a fuss. It’s not – he’s being a git, his gittiness is potentially illegal, and if there is a fuss about his gittiness, that’s because of his gittiness, not because “someone tattled” or “someone was overly sensitive” or “someone can’t take a joke” (or “someone doesn’t understand that nuanced behaviour such as flirting is a normal part of professional office behaviour” or whatever that post from last month was preaching).

      Socially-distant Jedi hug if you want one.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Realized this might be ambiguous:
        You don’t have to go to the boss/HR/etc if you don’t want to, but it might help you to internally frame it in a “he’s doing something objectively wrong” way rather than a “I get a subjective uncomfortable feeling” way.

        with that, I meant:
        The first paragraph isn’t just relevant if you want to know whether you can report this. It’s also good to just know that he is crossing major boundaries and maybe even laws and that you are not the problem here.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        And pointing it out to HR as a- I don’t want this to blow up in the company’s face so I thought you might want to know.

        No moral judgments about ages or marital status. Just- how bad it would look on the front page of the local business section or in a lawsuit.

    6. Nesprin*

      If his behavior is rising to the level of sexual harassment of anyone at your work (and pervasive small things add up to harassment), documentation is the correct solution. I.e. 7/2 made gross comment x, present were A, B, and C.

    7. ...*

      sounds like they’re sleeping together and he’s an a*hole, you could tell HR he’s making derogatory comments about your age if it seems worth it to you?

  13. Reply All*

    Based on yesterday’s question about reply-alls, please share your favorite way someone has shut it down when there’s way too many replies

    Last year, my firm’s women’s group sent out an email asking for people to submit a sentence or two on a woman in the legal field who inspires them, to be used in the newsletter we send to clients. I guess they didn’t get many submissions because the person who organizes the newsletter sent a reminder saying “SURELY there is at least one woman who inspires you.” While I normally don’t think reply-alls are performative, this really, really was. My inbox was flooded with extremely flowery and self-righteous odes to (legitimately great!) famous female attorneys. By the sixth RBG email (which put me in a real “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking” mood), I set up a rule so they were all automatically deleted.

    I checked my deleted folder at the end of the day, and the very last reply was someone who said “I am most inspired by female attorneys who know not to overuse reply all.” Probably snarkier than necessary, but given that there had been 50+ replies on the subject, I also literally clapped when I saw it.

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      “Is this an Aggie joke?” from an engineer in Texas during a nationwide reply-all storm at a company with tens of thousands of employees.

      The original email was sent from a scanner when somebody fatfingered their selection and emailed the document (fortunately not confidential) to, near as I could tell, the entire company. I must have gotten 10,000 emails that day. It was unreal.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We had a corporate senior exec step in once (like a top 10 guy in a company of 20,000) and bluntly told everyone to knock it off because they were clogging up his email.

    3. Generic Name*

      We’ve been sending emails that say “only send your response to me and do not reply all” from the folks at the top. That’s honestly stopped the worst of it, but we’re a small company.

    4. Indy Dem*

      It hasn’t happened in a while, but we had 3 separate incidents of reply all email. I work at a large international biotech. The first sender obviously meant to send an email to a small department in one country, used the wrong mailing list so sent it to thousands of employees world-wide. A mistake, but not a bad one. Then it started. People would reply all saying “Please remove me from this distribution list”. Many people. Hundreds, easily. Some people would reply all telling people to stop replying all. It would die down after an hour or so. Then the next time zone would log on, see the email, and the reply alls would start again. It was GLORIOUS! 24+ hours it lasted. The next two times, I’m assuming IT shut it down within 4-6 hours, because it wasn’t as bad. And one person did get fired over it – he replied all cussing people out for replying all.

  14. Scout Finch*

    Is being over 65 considered a disability in the ADA sense? My friend is almost 70 and wants to continue working remotely until the health authorities say it is safe to go back. Her boss wants her department (except for 1 person) to go back to on-site next week.

    Friend also has a medical condition that affects her breathing sometimes. She can do all her job duties remotely.

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      But the medical condition might. Why wouldn’t she get a doctor’s note based on that? She may not have to apply for ADA, that might be enough.

    2. Scout Finch*

      I should have phrased this as “is being in a high-risk group for COVID-19 considered a disability?” – but the answer still may be the same.

      Lord, I am ready for this craziness to be over. I feel so bad for those whose work situations are negatively affected.

    3. Atlantian*

      Being over 65 is considered increased risk for COVID on the CDC’s website. They have a whole list of pre-existing conditions that should be taken extra precautions. My company is providing accommodations for people who have conditions on that list, if you choose to disclose your condition and ask for one. Maybe her company has a similar policy, or she can bring the guidelines up with her manager or HR.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The ADA isn’t necessarily her best bet BUT there’s other local regulations right now for her demographics.

      Is this a “Give me accommodations or I’ll just retire” kind of stuff for her? I would absolutely look into the local mandates and also just approach it reasonably, given her condition and her age, they may be willing to make an accommodation.

      Just because the AD doesn’t cover you, doesn’t mean that they won’t work with someone. Go over her bosses head to HR about it, HR tends to know better than just because the boss “wants” something, doesn’t mean it has to be that way.

  15. Librarian of SHIELD*

    Give me your good news!

    I’ve had one of those weeks where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and I’d really love to regain some of my faith in employment as a concept.

    What’s the best thing that happened at your job this week? I want to celebrate it with you!

    1. Casey*

      A new professor offered me a TAship with her for the fall, completely out of the blue! I’m super excited to work with her and the students — it’s a freshman design class, so it’s lots of “how do I research? how do I work in a team?” which I’m passionate about.

    2. Lore*

      The finished product came in for a project that has been an alternating sequence of “drop everything and make this happen” and “never mind the whole thing’s off” for the past year. It has been nothing but maddening to have something be a crash project 4 separate times! Sadly I don’t get samples in WFH world but my colleague on the manufacturing side sent pictures and we’re all delighted to see the end result.

    3. NGL*

      This is work-adjacent I think: Last Friday I took a spontaneous day off from work. The monotony of WFH life was REALLY getting to me. So I took a long weekend with 0 plans. And it COMPLETELY recharged me, leaving me much more brain space to take on a couple of tricky projects this week.

    4. Sapphire (they)*

      I’ve been applying for jobs like crazy in anticipation of my contract ending, and I applied to this tech support job on a whim. I’m currently in the second round of interviews and I think I really connected with the recruiter I talked to. I’m really hopeful that this will be something permanent for me.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’m 2 months into a new job and things have been a bit chaotic to the point that I wasn’t sure if I was doing a good job. There were communication gaps because everyone was so busy. I was feeling confused and worried.
      But then my temp boss had 10 extra minutes and was able to fill in some gaps. That was all it took…just 10 minutes to clarify some processes and explain some miscommunications.
      And some of my projects started getting attention and I got some unexpected compliments.Now everything is coming up Milhouse!

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        That’s so great! Working with that kind of uncertainty is unsettling, and I’m so glad your boss was able to help.

    6. Now In the Job*

      I took a ton of the work that came through our team this week and on our weekly team call my boss, very admiringly, said “Well then, you’re on a roll! Good job.”

    7. Chronic Overthinker*

      Got praise from my boss about meeting deadlines, even if it meant working overtime. YAY!

    8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I took some kids to the dentist and the only bad thing that happened was some masks broke and a form was not filled out

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Ugh, the dentist is stressful even if it’s not PlagueTimes. I’m glad it went (mostly) smoothly!

    9. Yorick*

      I finished writing up two studies. One has been submitted for peer review and the other should be ready for submission next week!

    10. LimeRoos*

      Good news breakdown :)
      –We were told no merit raises this year (cuz Covid), then mid July they were reinstated so that was exciting.
      –We’re almost all still WFH, only a handful of essential employees go in physically.
      –Survey went out asking people if/when they want to return, worries, ideas, etc. Eventually it’ll be a super slow roll out – lots of distancing, cleaning 3 times a day, new plan for the cafeteria.
      –My supervisor has put me in for a promotion, which I didn’t think would happen because Covid and I feel like my work has been slipping but apparently it hasn’t since all my reviews in the past few months have been great.
      Sending good vibes!! I hope everything gets better!

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m super jazzed for your raise and possible promotion!

        This was just one of those weeks where the outcome for everything was about three inches away from where I wanted it to be, so I’ve been low-level frustrated and grumpy for days. I’m hoping a weekend reset will help. :)

    11. Amy Sly*

      I’m a contract administrator, brought on a few months ago by a small service company to straighten out their paperwork. When I did an audit of one branch, 58% of our accounts were missing contracts. [insert horrified face here]

      Today, I finished drafting the last missing contract for that branch and sent it to the customer.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Yes! That must be a huge feeling of satisfaction, and huge weight off your shoulders!

        1. Amy Sly*

          Yep. That was our worst branch, so even though I still have five other branches to work through, they shouldn’t be as painful. And at that point, I can switch to maintaining our files instead of building them.

    12. blackcat*

      I lead a diversity and equity conversation in my working group and it WENT WELL. Other attempts have been dumpsterfires of “we don’t see race.” IDK what I did differently or if people have just come around, but people actually engaged with hard questions about why our field excludes certain people.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        That’s so amazing. I’m so glad people are starting to engage, that’s such wonderful news.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am optimistic that I passed a certification exam last week!

      The certifying body is SITTING ON MY TEST – it still says it’s “in transit” to them, though the proctor (who is one of my coworkers) says that the tracking info says it was delivered on Tuesday – so I haven’t gotten the official result yet, but I’m pretty positive about it. (It was a SCANTRON test. In the year of our discontent 2020, it was a Scantron, bring a #2 pencil, hard-copy test. Like, what even!)

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Yes! I’m looking forward to you getting your actual results and not having to wait for the rubber stamp anymore. :)

    14. Wordybird*

      Well, it wasn’t AT my job but a job I interviewed with a few weeks ago & thought had moved on to other candidates circled back to me today in addition to a second job emailing me today to set up a phone interview for next week. I’m excited about both and excited for some positive movement in the search.

    15. PseudoMona*

      I had a very positive career development conversation with my manager this week. She thinks I’ll be ready for a promotion on my current career track within a year. She is also very supportive of my future plan to try and move from my current career track to a higher track. That kind of move is rather difficult to make in my company, so it’s great to hear that she thinks I’m a good candidate and that she’s very willing to work with me on this goal.

    16. Triumphant Fox*

      I was finally published! It’s in a publication I really admire and it has been over 3 years since it was first submitted (it was part of a special edition, so it has taken longer for all the pieces to go through the peer review process together). I ended up not finishing my PhD (and am very happy I didn’t) but it is so satisfying to have my research out there in a really highly regarded forum. In some was this is a much bigger deal than finishing the dissertation. A scholar who works in the same area contacted me the day after it published to say they really enjoyed it and I just…it was such a nice end to that chapter.

      No one at my job now knows or would really care – they pretty much all forget I was in a different field before this.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Congratulations – is that your first publication? If yes, celebrate and put it onto the resume, even if you’re in another field now it’s an eye-catcher achievement.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It sounds small but… *someone else* from another part of the company spoke up in a cross-functional meeting to say that a set of tasks just assigned to me in Jira should be done by group X instead. I’d been saying that for three or four weeks, and having support means the thing I have not the resources to do has been reassigned.
      That makes it a big win for my understaffed department.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m so glad you’re finally being heard and other people are standing up for you!

    18. Emilia Bedelia*

      My coworker got promoted, and is now the manager of my team (under our old boss)! My old boss was also great, but was overloaded so I think it’s a win/win for everyone. Looking forward to a new dynamic and a new manager who will be able to be a little more hands-on and have more time for managing.

    19. hack in training*

      I finally got my onboarding paperwork to start my internship in September! It has been a whole process to get here (was supposed to start June 1 after graduating in May, then coronavirus happened and without being too specific, my job relies heavily on there being… actual, live events) so I’m beyond excited that it’s actually happening.

    20. The New Wanderer*

      I had a mid year performance review with my now-former manager and new manager together. Now-former manager, who was a bad fit for me in many ways, decided to contact most of the people I had worked with this year for feedback, and I was initially thinking wow, total overkill, no manager does that. Certainly none of my managers for years had gone to those lengths, much less provided real feedback and not just generic “good work, no complaints.”

      Turns out, it was an amazing confidence boost. So much praise and from people I respect (mostly managers and people senior to me). Honestly, it was one of the best, most positive experiences I’ve had with feedback. Even the “opportunities for growth” were like, keep doing good work? I felt seen and appreciated. So, despite having serious issues with him in almost every other way, I have to say he came through in a big, big way and I told him how much it meant and how that was the first time in probably 8 years I had gotten actual feedback from any manager.

    21. Jemima Bond*

      I bent a group inbox to my will! Now it says what I want on the rule-based auto-reply! And it has let me arrange the folders in a logical tidy way without giving me a weird error message!
      Lo, I hold the power of Outlook in my very hands!

  16. Quill*

    No complaints, but still a little bummed because yesterday I talked to two of my buddies who also can’t get jobs in their scientific fields…

    1. Federal Middle Manager*

      Yeah, STEM focus is in no way a guarantee of a job. I definitely feel that it gets overhyped in our culture.

    2. Chaordic One*

      Through the years I’ve run into a several people who had a hard time finding work in their scientific fields. Several became consultants, but one left for a medical career and a couple left to start businesses that were totally unrelated to their scientific educations.

  17. Considered Secularist*

    In the spirit of the Friday good news offerings I wanted to share this. I’ve worked for my company for many years through bad times (and we had plenty of those!) and good times for the company. The last few years have been very good, to the point where our chief competitor bought us this Spring. And they have turned out to be an amazing company, one I am very happy to be working for. On top of that both my former and my now-current companies have been utterly fantastic about Covid: we’ve been on full remote since March 16; they have provided us with a slew of free, optional online training about self-care: meditation, yoga, mindfulness, stress reduction and so on and all the time we want to avail ourselves of it; they have communicated repeatedly that they understand we are all under stress, that some of us have less-than-ideal WFH situations with child care, elder care or what have you and that they want us to prioritize health and family first and then management demonstrates to us in various ways that they are doing this themselves and it’s not just hollow talk. No one apologizes when toddler screams occasionally can be heard on calls; they have normalized this. My new manager moved our (non-urgent) 1:1 three times, apologizing each time and explaining the family-related reason he was pushing the call, really showing he means it when he says family first. Later this month there is a company-wide wellness day and we’ve all been encouraged to block our calendars and spend the day outside with family doing things. So there are really good, supportive places to work and if you are not in one I encourage you to look for one because it really is such a good feeling.

  18. Bloopmaster*

    Help–My coworker suggests tasks for himself and then unloads them onto me.

    I routinely collaborate with a coworker who is basically my peer. He has a higher title, but neither of us reports to the other, and in fact we have two different bosses. Most of the time we get along fine and divide up our shared workload very equitably. But occasionally my coworker dumps a task on me that he originally offered to do himself—which wouldn’t be a problem except the WAY he does it just rubs me the wrong way.

    For example, yesterday he had an idea for acquiring a resource that might help in our shared work and asked me (via email) if I thought he should reach out to the point of contact. I said that sounded like a good idea. Then he wrote back asking me to do the reaching out. I just feel miffed because if he knew he didn’t have time for it, why did he originally proposed doing it himself? I feel like some sort of explanation should have been provided as to why the thing he explicitly offered to do a mere hour or two ago is now being put on my plate.

    Is there a good response for when this happens that addresses the weirdness? Should I just suck it up? FWIW I want to continue having a good relationship with this coworker.

    I can’t legitimately claim I’m too busy to handle these kinds of tasks. I also don’t want the thing to not get done (it does seem resource), but at the same time he just offered to perform a task and then offloaded it onto me without any apology or explanation.

    1. WellRed*

      Stop doing all the tasks he dumps on you and cheerfully tell him “no.” If you have a decent boss, you could ask them if they want you doing all these tasks.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Does HE know you aren’t too busy?

      That’s really annoying – he asked if you thought HE should do it. I think “I’m sorry, I won’t have time today/this week; I was under the impression you would be able to do it” could work?

    3. MmmmmmMMMmm*

      “It was your idea, and I don’t want to steal your thunder by taking it!”

      Also, are there gender dynamics at play?

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      An explicit “Yes, Fergus, you should do that” or even “sure, since you have the time” couldn’t hurt and might help for the next time(s) he does this.

      Also, this might be something to take to your manager: “Fergus keeps asking me if I think he should do something, and then when I agree he suddenly tries to assign it to me. Is this something I should push back on, and if so how?”

      Yes you want a good relationship with him, but does he want a good relationship with you, or will he stop being cordial if you don’t let him assign extra work to you?

    5. Cabin Fever*

      Would it be possible to cut this off a little earlier? When he emails you initially to get your input, can you tell him you don’t have time to look into it/assess the feasibility, but if he thinks it’s a good idea he should reach out to the parties directly?

    6. Alice*

      “Asking you to do the reaching out” — is that really “offloading” or “dumping” or “putting on your plate”? Sounds more like teamwork to me — especially in this example, acquiring a resource that might help in your shared work.
      Honestly, if you’re not too busy and you think it’s worth doing, but you’re ticked off because your colleague didn’t apologize/explain why he is *asking* you to do something — to me it sounds like you’re at BEC with this guy. If you don’t want to do something he asks you to do, tell him instead of stewing about it. If you want to know why he’s asking you to do it, ask him instead of stewing about it.

      1. Wintergreen*

        The part you are missing is when he originally reached out he was asking if HE should reach out to suppliers. Not if THEY should reach out to suppliers. If a co-worked emailed you and said they were going to call “Deli down the road” and order lunch and did you want to as well. You think “I wasn’t going to but sure, since co-workers ordering” respond with a “sure I’ll just look at the menu real quick.” and then they respond with “Here’s my order”. They have just dumped the ordering of lunch onto your lap. Essentially dumping all the work onto you when they offered to do it. That is what this guy is doing and not anywhere near BEC stage.

        1. Alice*

          Bloopmaster did say he came back and asked her to do it. That’s not the same as “here’s my order.”

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Nope. I have a colleague who does stuff like this: “Do you think it would be a good idea to have a meeting with the senior team so I can walk them through what we’re doing?” “Sure, if you think you’re at that point.” “Great, can you set it up?”

        No. No I can’t. I am not your assistant. It’s not about being above a task or not wanting to do something he asks, it’s about not being expected to handle the (usually small and insignificant) parts of the task that he can very well do himself.

        The worst one I got was, “I’ll take this project [because you took the last four]. But can you do this part for me?” “Is there a reason you can’t do it? It’s really important for the person working on the project to do that part, since you’ll need it for your analysis.” “Ok, FINE. I’ll DO IT.” Turned out he didn’t know how to do that part of the project and was afraid to tell me he didn’t know how. I would have responded much differently to, “I’m really rusty on this, can you help” or “Can you show me how to do that” but there is no way I’m going to be your back office when we’re peers and are supposed to have the same skills.

        1. Alice*

          In the same way that your colleague should have communicated better about not knowing how to do that part of the project, I think that Bloopmaster will get good results from telling him no when he asks. Or, since it sounds like Bloopmaster’s objection is not knowing the explanation for the change in plans, asking him for the explanation when he asks.
          I’m definitely not getting the vibe that he’s treating Bloopmaster like an assistant — “Most of the time we get along fine and divide up our shared workload very equitably.”

    7. Yorick*

      It might work to basically assign the task to him when he suggests it, like other replies suggest.

      Also, if he sometimes suggests something you would like to do or wouldn’t mind doing, you could offer to take on the task when he suggests it. Then it might be more obvious that he’d be the one to do the others.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Oh God, I once had a very entry level employee like this. She was trying so hard to be so proactive and look good, so she would make up all these tasks she was going to “project manage.” Due to the nature of my job, I ended up getting sucked into her projects, which created a lot of low-level but unexpected work for me.

      I had to shut that down real quick. “Look, it’s great you want to volunteer for these types of projects, but volunteering to do these actually means that YOU do the work, not me.”

      1. Another academic librarian*

        I was thinking just this. My department assistant would jump in with an offer to faculty and then it would be my problem.

    9. Workerbee*

      Do you find that the tasks dumped on you are more often tedious/time-consuming or background type tasks, while he manages to get the more visible or laudatory ones done himself? I just started wondering as we have a tendency for people just a layer above to try to dump those less interesting parts of their own jobs on people they seem to be trying very hard to treat as their assistants. And then of course take all the credit.

    10. My reaction...*

      For the specific issue you mentioned, I would just shoot back an email that says, “Thanks, but it was your idea so I’ll let you run with it.”

    11. Emilitron*

      Are these two emails going to different cc: lists? i.e. is he including his management in the “here’s my great idea do I have team and management support for my proposed next action? (me-me-me-me!)” and then not cc:ing everybody when he passes off the tasks to you? That’s the kind of thing that it makes sense to call him on in private email – “I think it’s a great idea and I’m happy to do the task. One thing that would help me feel like I’m really contributing in this type of situation, I’ve noticed that you propose ideas as your own initiative, and then spread it to a team activity afterwards; that mismatch makes it feel like I’m just helping you out as an afterthought. It would help me know what to expect if you phrase it as a team suggestion (use “we” pronouns), does that make sense?”

    12. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Regardless of your usual office norms, my way of handling it would be judicious use of cc, with your manager in on the loop. Something like, “Im confused, this is your idea so I assumed you would responsibility for it end to end or you could speak with manager about getting someone else with more time/skills assigned to it”. Gets around co-workers plausable deniability and loops manager into dynamics. Either way it wont make co-worker look good (although you may end of with more work at least you can get some credit for it). It may feel awkward at first if you are a normal decent co-worker but my spidey sense is telling me you co-worker is being slightly disingenuous here.

    13. Generic Name*

      I have a (male) coworker who does this to me (female) sometimes. Fortunately, I’m senior to him and have a higher position, so I normally just blow him off. Literally no one (including him) has ever come back to me asking about a task he’s tried to pawn off on me.

    14. Quinalla*

      This would annoy me too, though it doesn’t sounds like this is a he volunteers for something, assigns it to you and takes credit which is what I worried about with your first sentence.

      I would at least reply, “I thought you were taking this on?” or “I won’t have time until X (make sure X is several days away) to do that, can you take care of it sooner?” or “Oh, did something come up?” At least that way you should get an explanation.

    15. PollyQ*

      Don’t keep sucking it up! This is total BS behavior on his part. There have been a couple good scripts about pushing back in this thread. Another reply when he asks you might be to say “Sorry, I have other priorities that need my attention right now.” You don’t have to be swamped with work to not want to have more put on you.

    16. Pomona Sprout*

      How about responding with something like this next time he asks one of these “Should we–?question:

      “Sounds like a reasonable idea to me. I don’t have time to get involved myself right now, but you should go for it if you want. Let me know what you find out.”

  19. Treebeardette*

    Any advice for calming down an highly active anxiety brain after being in a toxic workplace for so long?
    Today is my last day! I’m moving on to a way better company! This is helping a lot but I finally realize I’ve been stuck in fire fighting mode for too long. Scared of my boss for months for all the witchy things she has done.
    Anyways, I’m open to anything including favorite meditations off of insight timer.

    1. WFHGal*

      I have Insight Timer, and I like the Morning Energizer, and You’re Okay, and It’s all Good, which I listen to before I go to bed. It’s very calming.

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I had a partner organization turn over to a new staff. Old staff I had huge fights with all of the time, so I went into every meeting on defense. Prior to meetings with that organization I would just remind myself, ‘these are not the same people. You do not need to be the one to continue the toxicity. Do not enter the meeting thinking that these people are out to get you. Listen and respond to what they are saying, do not try to find an ulterior motive.’ It helped, because my organization and their organization HATED each other, and by putting my emotions aside, we were able to become cordial partners. It is hard though, because I immediately went to “fight mode” every time I saw these people, so I had to really remind myself that if I was combative I was the toxic one, not them. Not saying that everyone isn’t toxic, but just make sure that your starting point is that everyone wants things to go well and succeed and no one is out to get you. You can always change your mind once someone shows that they are toxic, but don’t assume someone is until they prove it to you.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      When my anxiety brain needs a reset, I generally do some comfort reading/watching. Do you have any stories that you feel really nostalgic about that can calm things down?

    4. Lady Heather*

      Do you have a yard that you can go cloud-watching in? Or a park? Turn your phone off and promise yourself that you’ll stay for at least an hour (bring a watch, maybe) – cloud-watching has a curve where you get bored before you get relaxed, and if you leave as soon as you feel like leaving, that might be in the first three minutes. (Plus, I’ve found it easier to get relaxed when I’m resigned to staying there for a set time anyway.)

      Favourite breathing exercise: lie on back, put two hands on your stomach, the tips of your fingers being at the start of your pubic bone. Breathe. If you do it right, the tips of your fingers will rise and fall as much as the palms of your hands do. (Also, if at the exhale your pointer fingers touch, at the inhale your pointer fingers will separate.) Do so for 10-15 minutes, either on its own or while listenig to youtube/podcast/etc.
      Most ‘one hand on your chest, one hand on your stomach’ deep breathing exercises still have you (or allow you to) breathe just in the ‘upper’ part of your belly, this one has you breathe all the way down.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I hope this doesn’t sound too corny, but take care of yourself. When you get to your new job be rested, be dressed comfortably. After leaving my old dysfunctional job, I still find myself still getting stressed-out about things, sort of like PTSD. I found that I can no longer tolerate very much caffeine. One cup of coffee before work and maybe one more when I get there and that’s about it. After that I switch to tea, usually caffeine free herbal.

    6. Katydid*

      Congratulations! I can empathize, I also spent a few years in a highly toxic environment, including a year under a boss pulled straight out of Mean Girls. I highly recommend the book “Burnout” by Emily & Amelia Nagoski and/or their podcast The Feminist Survival Project. The first few chapters/episodes discuss how our bodies respond to stress, how to release stress, and why everyone’s always recommending exercise for stress. Their suggestions are coming from a branch of therapy called somatic therapy, which I’d been doing with my therapist for a year before I discovered the book. I’m so happy that they are popularizing this method because I found it to be really helpful. Not only did it help me get over the toxic workplace, but it has also inspired me to be more “in the moment” and appreciate the activities that relieve stress. I finally feel like I know how to relax.

    7. Collette*

      Go easy on yourself when you have a reaction to something at new job that reminds you of toxic old job.

      I found myself hyperventilating in a staff meeting because it followed a structure very similar to the structure Old Boss used to control and berate everyone on the team. My new team is fantastic and generous and full of genuinely kind people, but when I saw a similar slide in the meeting deck, I immediately slammed into all of the emotions that went with staff meetings at toxic job. It took a while to not have that response in staff meetings at new job, but one thing that helped was giving myself permission to feel however I felt, knowing that it was a reaction to old job, and not the reality of new job.

  20. Kramerica Industries*

    I went to my Senior Manager to gently bring up that in the past, I’ve heard mid-level managers make microaggressive comments. I gave the example where I was talking to a manager about how Joe was hired for a role and the response was along the lines of Joe being a diversity hire. I didn’t say anything in the moment because I was shocked that someone would say this to me, especially as a POC. My Senior Manager’s response was that all hires should be based on merit, but it’s getting hard to be consistent with that now that everyone wants to “add diversity wherever they can”.

    So in short, no level of management on my team understands diversity. These are the same people who have said “I don’t see colour”, which explains why they didn’t feel like it was inappropriate to make comments like this to me, an Asian-Canadian. I work for a large organization and I could escalate this higher, but wow does it knock you down to have a leader side with the offending comment.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I mean, the Model Minority is a thing not just in the U.S. Your management feels comfortable saying stuff like this in front of you as an Asian because “you’re not one of those” and they think you secretly agree. I don’t know what you can do about it since it doesn’t seem like anyone in your company would shut this down, but you can always try to take your concerns to HR (if your company has one) and see what happens. But you may just have to say in the moment, “That’s a gross thing to say” and then walk away when you hear these things.

    2. miro*

      Someone I know (who is a POC), will say when asked about hiring a diverse workforce “oh, I hire on merit”–because if you really are, it’s not just gonna be white dudes you hire… and white people are often surprised by that comment.

      But seriously, that’s a gross and sucky situation, and I’m sorry you have to work with that swirling around.

    3. tangerineRose*

      Do these managers realize that they are acting as if people who are “diverse” aren’t as good as others? What is wrong with the managers?!

      Does it help to push back by saying something like “I’m glad Joe was hired; he’s amazing at [something in his job]” and maybe “we would have lost out if management had excluded him because of the color of his skin”

  21. Anon today*

    I’m quitting my job and starting my own business in the middle of a global pandemic. I might be making a huge mistake, but at least it will be squarely on my shoulders.

    Before the pandemic, I was very happy at my low-paying, hyper-local media job in a small area. I am the face of our company. Since the pandemic, revenue has dropped and any path upward for me is gone. I have been appalled by our COVID protocols, and leadership/management issues are increasing. I’ve been here 13 years and I make 30K. I’ve had two raises…did I mention I’m the face of our company? I started researching and looking at what former industry colleagues are doing, and realized I can do this myself, work for myself, set my own hours, and not deal with the headaches involved with parts of the business and co-workers, and I’ll likely make a whole lot more money. I’m going for it. I’m scared shitless, but I’m also absolutely confident. And I’m so excited. I’m leaving in November, but haven’t said anything yet.

    1. Ruby314*

      Congrats! It won’t be easy, but I’d get as much ready before you leave as possible, so you can hit the ground running on day one. Stuff like your website, systems/workflows, business bank account, payment gateways, etc. I wish I had done more of that when I struck out on my own with advance knowledge of my departure.

      1. Anon today*

        I’m in that process now! If not for that, I’d leave today. My goal is to leave November 13, take it easy through the holidays and launch on January 1.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Congratulations! I wish I had the guts to strike out on my own like this (and the financial ability – student loans suuuuck). This is very inspiring.

      1. Anon today*

        I’m sure this isn’t meant too, but it hits me weird. We have student loans and financial obligations too. I am not in the position for me to just relax. I’m doing three times my normal freelance work right now to save money for this venture, and the time I am taking off. I’m working my butt off and I’m taking a leap of faith. Luckily, I only need to make profit of just more than 30K per year for this to be a success, but please don’t think this isn’t a risk, or I have tons of finances in reserve allowing me to do this, that’s just not true. I am really putting in the effort.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh no, I definitely wasn’t saying you don’t have to work hard – of course you will be! Starting your own damn business is hard as hell (I have many friends who are business owners who barely have a social life and are living and working on shoe-string budgets to make their businesses successful) and something to be commended! I’m saying, my student loans are astronomical so I’m not in a financial position to do anything but stay my behind where I am because my risk tolerance level isn’t high enough where I would feel comfortable leaving and striking out on my own. I think it’s cool that even with any obligations you may have, and doing this in the middle of a pandemic no less, you have the guts to make a totally different risk assessment.

          1. Anon today*

            No worries. I saw your earlier post about free lance writing, check out Textbroker.com. Not glamorous, but it can help provide $.

    3. Business Owner*

      Congratulations! I remember being in that venn diagram spot of “scared shitless” and “absolutely confident”; it’s the exact right place to be. Congratulations and best of luck to you!

        1. Product Person*

          If your current salary was $80K or more, I would advise you to be prepared to spend about 2-3 years earning less as you ramp up your business.

          But a 30K salary? And based on what you said here? Next year you’ll be, “Wow, I should have done this earlier!” You got this, and based on my own experience building my own small consultancy, I expect that you’ll end your first year ahead of your currently salary! (Just don’t underprice your services, it’s common in the beginning, but you need to remind yourself your work is worth it!) Best of luck, and keep us posted!

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      Alison had a great 2016 post on what to do before you quit your job (https://www.askamanager.org/2016/09/what-you-need-to-do-before-you-quit-your-job.html). I’d also suggest reading the posts from the following commenters, who provided additional things to consider: Bob (exit interview); Red Reader, Kyrielle, Joan Callamezzo, Elizabeth West, bettyboop, Venus Supreme, Bob, and Anonymous Educator (online storage options for your files); evilintraining (exit memo), Jerry Vandesic (maximizing your company benefits), Hotstreak (mileage reimbursement), pbnj and Crazy Canuck (check on your company’s vacation and holiday policy); and NicoleK (extra work near the end). Good luck. Please check back in after the holidays and let us know how your launch goes.

  22. Diahann Carroll*

    The last two days have been a roller coaster. I was accepted into a graduate certificate program for Professional Technical Writing and was really riding that high – until I saw my ADP statement this morning. The bonus my company said they would be making cuts to “up to 10%”? Try 67%. I was hotter than fish grease when I saw this mess because I guarantee you, the executives and my manager didn’t get a damn 67% cut to their bonuses. Ugh.

    I was counting on that money, too. I’ve been stashing away every bonus, my tax refund, my stimulus check, my fed loan payment money to make sure I had a solid cushion in savings should I lose my job. I thought this bonus would bring me up to almost seven months of savings, but now I’m only at almost five months worth. Assuming my bonus figure stays the same in November (and that I’m still employed), I’ll only be a little over six months of savings instead of eight. With cancelled raises and then this, I’m feeling really demoralized. I mean, damn, I’m happy to still have my job because I could be unemployed and struggling right now I’m an uncertain job market, but still – this sucks.

    I’m going to have to get a side hustle or something going for myself to get extra income coming in, but I’m not sure what to do right now. I’m at great risk for catching this virus and having severe complications, so leaving my apartment is not an option. I write all day for work and don’t really feel like doing it all night, though I could possibly suck it up and push through it if necessary. But is anyone really hiring freelancers like that right now? What are other people doing to earn a little bit of extra income right now?

    1. Mid*

      I mean, 5 months is still a really good cushion, and with the increases to unemployment, you could probably stretch it a lot further. I wouldn’t stress yourself out too much.

      As far as extra money, I nanny on the side, house/pet sit, freelance copywriting and editing, and a little SEO stuff too. FlexJobs is a good website, and even Fiver (Fivr?) though people tend to massively underpay there. It depends on what your skills and market are. A lot of people are doing InstaCart and food delivery services if they have a car.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        My state’s unemployment is garbage, and I don’t see an extension of federal benefits happening anytime soon, so I wouldn’t rely on that (and my expenses are way too high anyway). I have no other safety net, so that thought keeps creeping up no matter what.

        I don’t have a car and I couldn’t go out into anyone’s store anyway due to the above noted illnesses, so delivery jobs are out. But I’ll look at FlexJobs and see what all is out there.

    2. Black Horse Dancing*

      I’m sure you have but have you talked to your payroll? Explain your confusion since this is way more than 10%.

    3. valentine*

      The bonus my company said they would be making cuts to “up to 10%”? Try 67%.
      Unless they have said, “We regret to inform you we had to cut far deeper than expected,” it’s worth reporting as an error.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      Work-from-home sites periodically mentioned here over the last couple of years. The links are good, as of May 2020:
      Amylynn/Annika (list sites and have a blacklist of scams) – http://www.amylynn.org/home/
      Dream Home Based Work (lists work-from-home jobs) – https://www.dreamhomebasedwork.com/
      Jobspresso (programming/design/program managering/marketing) – https://jobspresso.co/ – Bills itself as “Expertly curated remote jobs in tech, marketing, customer support and more”
      We Work Remotely – https://weworkremotely.com/#job-listings
      Working Nomads – http://www.workingnomads.com
      National Capital Contracting – https://www.nccsite.com/remote-transcription-opportunities – Offers transcription services.

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          I can’t believe I forgot about two of the most popular ones: Flexjobs.com and Rev.com

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    OK, I should know the answer to this, but my brain is all fogged up. I had a fantastic phone screen on Monday that ended with the recruiter telling me she was passing along my resume and she would get back to me in a couple of days to schedule an interview. I have not heard back. In Normal Times I would wait at least until Monday afternoon to email her– is that correct? Should I wait longer? Email her today?

    Clouding my judgment is major dissatisfaction with my job coupled with the first company furloughs this week. I’m eager to get out. The recruiter told me they want to move quickly, but we all know that Hiring Team time is much slower than Candidate time.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Wait until Monday. The recruiter could still be trying to figure out interview times with the hiring team.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Or they could have decided I am the worst candidate ever and my resume is now in the trash!!!!

        But yes, yours is the more likely scenario. Thanks. :)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Lol! My brain goes there too, so I get it. I think it’ll happen – just follow up Monday. Good luck!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Well, now it’s a non-issue. Just learned they’re not moving forward with me. Sigh.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Dang! I’m sorry to hear that. Well, that’s their loss. May you find something even better soon.

        2. Product Person*

          I’m currently being headhunted by two Silicon Valley companies. Happily employed, passively looking. In both cases they have an urgency to fill the position, and it took two weeks each time for the recruiter to come back with a proposed time for a chat with the hiring managers. There could be a lot going on, don’t read anything into delays in the hiring process, it has nothing to do with your quality as a candidate!

  24. Amber Rose*

    Sanity check: How long should I wait before bailing?

    OK here’s the deal. If we don’t start making more money soon, we’ll have layoffs and wage cuts. Our CEO has been pretty up front about that. I also know I’m on the “goes down with the ship” list of essential staff so I won’t be laid off, although I will definitely find my hours and/or pay cut.

    The reason I haven’t already been looking is two-fold: One, obviously, now is a lousy time to look for work regardless. I’m scared of jumping out of a guaranteed paycheck to a maybe uncertain one. And two, I’m learning QA stuff, which is a recent change. If I stick around a few months, I’ll have learned enough to actually feel confident to put it on my resume with my other experience. Also I’m to be included in the quality audit in two months which may be a good thing to have experience with?

    But am I just making excuses to chicken out of leaving? Is it nuts to stick around like this?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Not nuts, but if I were you, I’d start going over my resume and putting feelers out. Looking does not mean you’re gonna find something quickly, nor does it obligate you to leave.

    2. Overeducated*

      It’s not a black and white decision. Sounds like it’s not a bad time to start looking, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave.

    3. Now In the Job*

      Hiring can take a long time. A LONG time. I started my job in October. I applied in June, interviewed in July and August, got an offer in September…and had been job hunting for over a year. It’s worth looking now, because who knows if you’re even going to start finding the right opportunity?

      1. Zephy*

        I applied for the job I have now seven months before I was contacted for an interview, and then from that initial phone screen to my first day was another 8 weeks. Hiring can be wild.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Start looking! But also take every opportunity to learn new things at your current job until you’re ready to move on.

    5. stressed out friday today*

      Start looking and applying. You don’t need to be fully committed to the search, but if something changes at work, you’re already in the process.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Looking for jobs doesn’t mean quitting your current job. Look. Doesn’t mean you have to leave yet.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Since the worst case is the company dissolves and you’re the last off the ship into the unemployment sphere, I would start keeping an eye out for jobs. Yeah it’s a terrible time to be full time job searching! You’re in a good position to be looking and working.

      Don’t let yourself be swept into sea with the wreckage, put on that life vest. That life vest in this scenario is you having an updated resume and fully aware of what is available in your area, in between trying to bail out the ship that’s filling with water. Today is the day to get those multitasking skills to work for you!

    8. irene adler*

      Well, from my experience, the pay cuts never get restored. Hence, you’ll always be short going forward. That will decrease those future pay raises too.

      Suggest finding another avenue for learning QA stuff- ASQ.org perhaps?

      How much will you be included in the quality audit? Are you DOING part of the audit yourself or are you an SME? Or are you being audited? Makes a difference. It would be worthwhile for the resume to be DOING a good portion of the AUDIT. But do not hold up the job search for this.

    9. PollyQ*

      You don’t have to leave right now, but I would definitely start job-hunting right now. And “goes down with the ship” only helps as long as the ship is still floating.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Start looking now, and plan to update it to add the new things you’re learning as you’re learning them. And yes – participating in a QA audit is a great thing.
      Look into American Society for Quality (ASQ), especially if you’ve got the background for their Certified Quality Engineer (CQE).

    11. Indy Dem*

      Think of it this way – Job searching is a skill like any other. Start working on that skill now, when mistakes can be learned from without much consequence (because your still employed) rather than later (when the ship has potentially gone down).

    12. Gumby*

      I have a slightly different take on it. My company is fine currently but in the past we went through a slump and I decided not to look around at other possible jobs. But! I did that because I had a very healthy emergency fund (> 1 year of living expenses) and I was/am at a point where if I’m going to change jobs anyway, I might also change locations. It was a sort of “if I’m going to be making changes let’s do it all at once” thing. Eventually, I will want to live closer to my parents. So if something happened, I would take it as a sign that it is time to move. But otherwise, I was comfortable enough with my savings that I could ride it out and see what happened.

  25. fluffycushion*

    Does anyone have a boring job? Due to disability I do a boring job below my skill and education level. It’s basically menial and dull and repetitive. How do you cope with hours of monotonous boredom at work?

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      Can you wear headphones? I have a good friend who works at a grocery store, and sometimes I’m jealous of the number of podcasts and audiobooks he can get through while he stocks shelves.

    2. OTGW*

      Are you able to read? That’s what we’re able do. But at my other job where that’s not allowed, all us coworkers just talk. At that place we all have a group of friends ( don’t @ me) though we all get along well enough. Or honestly we just browse the web–reddit, aam, etc.

    3. Reba*

      I used to sort and shred documents. I was alone in the area, so I listened to the radio and called in to shows :)

    4. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      I listen to Kadenze courses (they are video based, but really well crafted so just listening is fine) – also I play films/documentaries that Ive already seen so I can just enjoy them again in audio. Some of Kadenze course Ive used to help me job hunts too. This is assuming you can have earbuds in while you work. If not being preoccupied with something menial is hard but I actually with data entry/retail jobs Ive had it can free me up mentally for other things I that Is find more difficult if I’d have to directly concentrate on it – like writing an essay, write a series of blog posts, film outline or something.

      1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        arghhh I always seem to post before checking what Ive written makes sense!

    5. ...*

      not anymore but I have. I just listened to music and movies and looked out the window. also it was kinda nice because I never “brought it home”

    6. CSR by Day*

      Just remember to count your blessings. Even though it is menial, dull and repetitive it sounds as if your job is something that you can actually do.

      My job is incredibly stressful, though it pays decently. The questions I get are just so incredibly random that I never do any one task often enough to truly master it and I can rarely anticipate anything ahead of time and often there isn’t anything I can do and no one I can refer the callers to. Then there are the constant nit-picking reviews of my work which always find some petty detail that I screwed up on. (Which is why I’m reading AAM and looking for a new job.)

    7. Fancy Owl*

      Audiobooks and music are great as others have said. But if you can’t do those I would see if you can turn any part of your work into a game for yourself. I did a lot of data entry early on and if data I was collecting had a range of values I would keep track of the highest and lowest values I saw so that I’d be a bit excited if I came across one that broke record. It probably sounds boring but when everything is boring you cling to what you can I guess.

  26. antigone_ks*

    (tl;dr: college administration is handling reopening so badly the faculty are lawyering up)

    Update from last week:

    Monday:
    1. During in-service meetings, no administrator would utter the phrase “social distancing”
    2. Held faculty association meeting immediately afterward, discovered VPAA’s secretary had connected via zoom and VPAA was listening. Started a new meeting.
    3. They did say that approval of ADA accommodations would be handled entirely by the ADA coordinator
    4. The faculty senate approved a resolution saying that faculty will be allowed to enforce social distancing in their classrooms.

    Tuesday:
    1. College president said he needed to think about the resolution.
    2. At this point, adjunct faculty were told they could teach entirely by Zoom. Full-time faculty cannot.
    3. Learned that students were not required to test before moving into the dorms, the college will do no testing, and that classes of 20-30 students would be doing orientation together in small classrooms.
    4. Faculty senators met to draft an open letter to the president and the public

    Wednesday:
    1. President asked for examples of different faculty policies. Faculty senate immediately polled their departments and met to compile answers. Senate reps met with President to go over them, and he said he’d meet with them again on Tuesday afternoon (after 2 days of class will have already past).
    2. A number of faculty made appointments with local attorneys

    Thursday:
    1. Senate VP said he was drafting a letter to all faculty to bring them up-to-date (have not received it yet)
    2. One department removed chairs from some of their classrooms and measured out 6 feet between the remainder, since administration has not addressed faculty concerns
    3. Adjunct faculty living in town were told they must teach face-to-face, cannot Zoom. Adjunct faculty living elsewhere can continue to Zoom
    4. The media and state reps may have been contacted. Campus was told not to respond to any request for statements.
    5. VPAA refused to respond when asked if the college would notify students that their classes would not be socially distanced, so that they could make an informed decision about doing zoom vs. F2F
    6. In a conversation with VPAA, a faculty member mentioned that the ADA coordinator had approved their accommodation request. VPAA said “Well, I haven’t seen it yet.”
    7. Students began moving into the dorms. One received a positive test (we didn’t test them; they took it a few days ago). Students have been quarantined in a local motel (uncertain if this is every student, or just those who made contact with the positive student, bc administration tells us nothing)
    8. VPAA found out about the chair revolt and ordered them to be put back. Said there is no potential liability issue because students couldn’t prove they were exposed in the classroom. Expressed no concern for the actual health of students and faculty.

    1. MmmmmmMMMmm*

      Ho. le. heck. I just started at a local tech college, and while there are issues, they are not nearly this bad. In fact, I was hired just because they needed more instructors for the smaller class sizes.
      FYI– I’m a lab instructor so the in-person bit is necessary, all lecture classes are on zoom.

      Though, the staff is taking bets on when we’ll need to shut down. I give it three weeks.

      1. antigone_ks*

        One of our science faculty spent the summer working on online-friendly lab assignments; admin will not let them implement it. Another worked up a plan to move their students through in an A/B system; admin will not allow that either.

    2. new kid*

      That last one really sums it up, doesn’t it? Ugh, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that. I don’t have any great advice unfortunately just commiseration.

    3. deesse877*

      Jesus, this is bad. I’m assuming you’re non- union? If if was me, I think I’d be seriously considering reporting an exposure the first week of classes so as to self-quarantine. If I trusted others in my unit I might float the idea of a coordinatec sickout.

      The overall level of cruelty and stupidity speaks to extreme paternalism, but it also suggests existential terror –as in, they think one bad year can sink them. I understand that it’s a much taller order for academia than elsewhere, but I’d think about leaving if I were you.

      Solidarity.

    4. Jean (just Jean) Seeking Electronic Pest-Repelling Devices*

      Can someone reach out to the AAUP (American Assn of University Professors)? My understanding is that they try to help when faculty face a difficult situation at work. Sorry that I don’t have more specific information.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This is horrific. You said the media may have been contacted, and I hope it’s more than “may.” A good public shaming might be the only thing that could actually convince people who are this determined to do the wrong thing at every turn.

      You said in your post last week that you encouraged your own students to use the Zoom feed if at all possible, and I say keep doing that. Just keep doing whatever you can do to protect as many people as you can, and I hope your ridiculously immoral Pres/VPAA can be convinced to leave the dark side at some point.

    6. ThePear8*

      Oh my goodness. I thought I was dissatisfied with how my university was handling things because of all the emails I’m getting with mixed messages and changing plans – but holy cow at least compared to this my university is taking safety very seriously, I’m going forward with a whole new appreciation for that. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

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

      For the love of the Spaghetti Monster. And I thought my bad joke of a midterm was bad. Are they waiting to be in the news to do something? Because that’s how you get in the news.

    8. Mimmy*

      I get that colleges and universities (as well as K-12 schools) have a lot to figure out in how to handle things in this COVID era, but sheesh, at least show some sensitivity to everyone’s concerns! The VPAA and President sound incredibly dismissive.

  27. OTGW*

    I work two PT jobs while also going to school PT at 8 credit hours. I’ve been doing this, in different circumstances, for 5ish years. I graduate this winter.

    But I…. am tired. I’m tired of driving from place to place to place. Trying to squeeze in homework in between jobs and sleep and eating. I’m tired of not seeing my significant other and my friends.

    Which leads me to my question: I am going to quit on or the other. I can’t keep doing this. I know it’s only 16 weeks but uh no thanks. I mean, I’m going to give it a few weeks–if we go in quarantine again then it’s not as much a hardship to deal with–but otherwise I’m done.

    So how would you pick between one.or the other? I’m making a pro/con list and am aware i make a little more at one over the other. But how do you make these decisions? Have you been in this situation before? How did it go?

    1. Ashley*

      I would do everything possible to finish school. It is really hard to get back into the study school mode after time off. Even if you did 4 and 4 (or 6 and 3) you have come this far to push. As for which job I would probably consider security and how is taking COVID most seriously. Good luck!

      1. MmmmmmMMMmm*

        agreed! Could you look into taking a leave of absence at your job? You are SO CLOSE to finishing your schooling I wouldn’t stop now. Get it done, and then it won’t hang over you as a big regret. Once I was done with grad school, my schedule opened up and life got a bit easier.

        Good luck and YOU CAN DO IT.

        1. OTGW*

          Unfortunately leaves of absence aren’t really a thing! Maybe if I had a different position but I’m just a lowly customer service person lol. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I agree, you’ve put so much time and effort into school. Once you finish, your options for jobs and work will likely change as well. If you can afford to let go of one of the jobs for a few weeks, you’ll come out in a much stronger position for the future.

        For me, that last semester of school was so brutal and I was so worn out, so I totally understand where you’re coming from here. But I think you’ll be glad you finished, and I want that for you.

      3. OTGW*

        Oh ya. I am finishing up this winter with classes even if it kills me lol. We’re remote this fall semester and last spring we went remote for the last 6 + finals week and it was super tough. But I’m so ready to be done with classes!!

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      If the difference in wages is insignificant (and along with that I would add commuting costs and other costs like whether you have to buy meals at work, etc.), I would look at: how much time losing one or the other frees up, how much mental stress each job gives you, if either of the jobs is remotely associated with your degree (or better experience for post-degree job), or if you would want to work that job post-degree (whilst job hunting) or for that company in some other aspect post-degree. Good luck!

      1. OTGW*

        These are great things I hadn’t even considered–thanks! And to answer your other comment–yes i would be quitting a job, not school. Too close to stop now!

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Hang in there! I took 8 years to earn an associate’s degree while working one full time and two part time jobs. It was exhausting, but even though it was years ago I’m still proud of the accomplishment. Don’t cheat yourself out of the satisfaction of getting it done!

    4. Emmie*

      Which one is the most stable / least likely to lay you off?
      If no clear winner, which one will give you the most flexibility to interview? Go with that one.
      If no clear winner, do you need the extra job / pay in 16 weeks? Will one allow you to come back then? Pick that one.
      If no clear winner, pick the one that looks best on your resume.
      If no clear winner or you are incredibly stressed, pick the easiest job.
      If no clear winner, flip a coin.

      Sending lots of commiseration to you. My last semester of a professional degree was incredibly hard. I was burnt out too. I wanted it over. It gets better. Good luck!

    5. Opal*

      No advice, just commiseration: the last term of school is hands down the *hardest* term. I can still feel that mix of emotions about having to pull it all together and just get to the finish line and it’s been over 15 years since I finished my degree. What ever you do, I wish you the best of luck.

    6. miro*

      I’ve been in a semi-similar situation, and I’d recommend keeping the job that pays more unless there’s a *significant* culture (for lack of a better word) benefit from the other. If you take the lower-paying one and things are rough, it can be easy get into angst about “ugh, all this BS and I’m not even making as much as I did at [other job].”

    7. ...*

      if you’re going to graduate in winter do not stop school now. in the grand scheme of things that’s such a short period of time. I would try as hard as possible to push through.

    8. EMarie*

      I was in this situation from 2013 – 2015. It was exhausting. I think back on that time and I can still feel the stress of, like you said, driving from place to place to place and constantly rushing to be prepared for each long day. To make matters worse, my car was on its last leg. But I’m so glad I got through my degree. I’m in a much more stable, comfortable spot now, thanks to all that effort! And I look back and feel so proud of myself, like I can get through anything.

      Are you able to quit one part time job and make up the difference with loans? I ended up taking out some private school loans through a credit union my last semester, and they weren’t too much to pay off. Since you’ve only got one more semester left, you should go all out and do what you need to do to graduate! Good luck – I’ll be thinking of you. My fantasy if I ever come into lots of money is to set up a scholarship at my alma mater for students in that situation.

    9. The Sky Isn't Falling*

      I know I’m super late posting this, but I have a suggestion. You are so very close to the finish line. Print up calendar pages through the end of school. Put the countdown number on each square. Have a little ceremony each night as you mark off another square. I realize this might sound juvenile, yet it will show you how very little you have to go compared to what you’ve accomplished so far. Your older self will thank you for finishing your degree.

  28. Moving away to work remote?*

    How many of you are moving away from your job location in order to be closer to family while we all continue to work remotely?

    My partner and I just moved to our hometown and left Silicon Valley, because our jobs are both likely remote through next July. We are so happy. Lower rent and larger apartment with space for 2 home offices.

    1. NGL*

      We’re going to visit family a few states over for a month this fall. Unfortunately still in a lease in our (high cost) city, and don’t want to deal with the hassles of moving during COVID – especially since my company has made no guarantees about how long this will last. But oh I HOPE we make a move to something close to full-time remote so I can at least move to the suburbs to get more space.

    2. Now In the Job*

      Friend of mine unfortunately just signed a new lease right before her SV company informed everyone they were fully remote for the next year. She contemplated breaking her lease and moving to a neighboring county with a much lower COL, but wound up negotiating a 2BR apartment for the same rent with her current apartment instead, so at least now she’ll have a separate office!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s an awesome deal, one I think many renters will be able to take advantage of now that rent prices seem to be going down everywhere. Mine is already pretty low, but I need to save more since I can no longer count on my quarterly bonuses for my emergency fund – so I may try to get my property management team to shave off at least another $100 so I can bank that until the end of my lease (next August).

        1. Now In the Job*

          For sure! We are renting from a private landlord, so we don’t get the benefit of aggregated rent and decreasing demand right now. Though the thought *has* crossed my mind to ask whether my LL is interested in selling to us…

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Oh, definitely ask! If you live where you are and want to stay, buying it may end up being a smart move for you (think of how much you’ll save in rent costs).

          2. Chaordic One*

            Many years ago, when my parents bought their house from their landlord, their landlord allowed them to apply the rent they had paid during the previous 2 years to the purchase price of the house in a sort of a rent-to-own deal. Depending on what your local real estate market is like, it might be something to consider asking about from your landlord.

    3. Raising an otter villiage*

      Very happy for you! I would love to but my lease goes until April and it’s not worth it to pay $3k to back out of it. And my move would be cross country /into/ California, land of the wild employee tax laws, so I don’t know how flexible my east coast based company will be, even if my work is 100% remote anyway. But fingers crossed I can make it work in the future!

    4. miro*

      I moved across the country to be with family because my roommate was worried about having to go back to a germy retail job and I’m high-risk for Covid. Of course, a couple weeks later the shop decided to stay closed for many more months. A good move, of course, but I wish I had known a bit sooner.

    5. Quinalla*

      We didn’t move, but we did move out of our house while our kitchen was remodeled for 5 weeks and moved in with my parents (after both parties quarantined for 14 days minimum to be safe). They live about a 5 hour drive from our house and it was wonderful to be able to do that as quarantining with no kitchen and 2 adults and 3 kids was going to be horrific. And it was a really great visit for all of us too, normally at least my husband is bored to visit my parents, but in this time, we were all so happy to be able to be around other people and to have more adults to help wrangle kids and to have my parents pool for everyone to swim in!

      Great idea to move for awhile especially if you are in an apartment.

  29. esemess*

    How’s everyone’s work morale going?

    Mine took a MAJOR dip this week–telework, some internal junk happening, and the like. I made a point to log off at 5 and not check my email at night, and things are looking UP! It is amazing how some boundaries can really boost morale. :)

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Not great. I’m not really working today, just relaxing, and I’ll get back to it Monday. This year just sucks so hard, I can’t.

      1. esemess*

        I’m sorry that things are hard! I hope today’s relaxation helps you more than you expected. <3

    2. Reba*

      Morale is great, all things considered. Grateful for coworkers and boss, although side-eyeing the organization these days. Concentration and productivity are… not ideal.

      1. esemess*

        Glad to hear that your morale is great; it helps so much to FEEL good, even when life isn’t great.

        I am also struggling with concentration and productivity. Sometimes I play the NYT Tile game (free!) to force myself to refocus.

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

      I’m burning out. I’ve found myself looking at a blank screen for fifteen minutes more than once in the last month. Our virtual coffee meetings are empty now, and I know of at least one person who left for a lower stakes job. Meanwhile, my vacation request was postponed until September.

      1. esemess*

        OOOF. I’m so sorry about the vacation postponement. I am taking one day of PTO in the coming weeks and it was A Bit of a Big Deal to get it approved. Sigh. Wishing things were better for you.

    4. ThePear8*

      Struggling. I’m really trying to pick myself up and finish strong since I only have a week left of my summer internship and then school starts – but I feel so tired, working from home is tough, especially living with family and having some stressors in my personal life hurting my productivity at work. I’m worried I haven’t made much significant progress in the last few weeks.

      1. esemess*

        The WFH aspect of all of this is the hardest for me; I SO sympathize with you!

        Earlier this week I read a reminder that my value is *independent* of what I do; I deserve rest and peace and goodness, even if I don’t meet all my deliverables. I needed to hear that–hopefully it helps you, too.

        Sending wishes for a school year that, while different, is good for you and what you need! <3

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Not fantastic.

      I’ve just had consistent low-level stress, so I feel bad about feeling bad about it, you know? But it’s been going on long enough that I’m starting to make stupid mistakes even in my personal life, because I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with everything at once (I poured boiling water from my teakettle into my water bottle instead of my travel mug with the tea bag in it this morning, which is not an enormous mistake to make, but feels like an accurate reflection of my brain’s general off-ness).

      I think I’m going to talk to my boss about taking some half days.

      1. esemess*

        I keep forgetting to put perishable food back in the fridge. My housemate has gently reminded me that I can’t level milk out all day…at least once a week.

        The low level stress is still STRESSFUL. And you are not alone in this. I feel like things are just compounding upon themselves.

        I hope that you’re able to take some half or full days off, and that the respite is beneficial for you.

    6. Dr Rat*

      My morale had been very good. Then this last week happened.

      Took a new position within my company in March. Liked the manager a lot and felt like she was really an advocate for our team (we do a job so esoteric within the company that every time I talk to someone from another department, I have to explain who I am and what we do). Was a little leery of moving from monthly bonus to a yearly bonus but decided I could make it work. Now the manager just left and we are having company wide town halls about VRIFs and layoffs. They are claiming bonuses will be untouched, but….

      So I think my “promotion” will end up with me taking a pay cut. Also have a feeling the new manager sees this primarily as a stepping stone in her career, rather than something she is genuinely invested in. And my county is still on the CA monitoring list, I haven’t been able to get a massage since March, and my neck and lower back are killing me. My birthday is coming soon and I can’t get together with friends or family due to COVID and will be alone, with pretty much 99% of the things I would like to do for my BD being shut down.

      In my head, I know how lucky I am in many respects. I have a job. When I got COVID, I got through it with only a mild to moderate case. My company is handling COVID very, very well. They are also really responding to BLM and are truly committed to diversity and are starting even more initiatives to hire people of color as well as LGBTQ folks and to help them grow their careers within the company. My new position is much less stressful than the old one as the metrics are actually achievable. I just really, really did not need bad news this week.

      TL; DR: Cranky.

  30. Chronic Overthinker*

    Just wanted to post some good news and get a little advice. I’ve been making huge strides in my job. I’ve been acting as a temporary assistant for at least one attorney and trying my best to do stay on task, even while doing my regular admin duties. It’s been tough these past two weeks, but rewarding, as I am actually seeing the fruit of my efforts! I know I’m not a great assistant (yet) but I wish I could get a better grasp on delegating priorities. Anyone have any tips?

  31. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    Shout out to AAM blog and how it helps in so many aspects of my professional life. Got a request last week from a family friend asking me to write a letter of recommendation for a spot in a specialized vocational training program. I was happy to do it, and started to think about how he was a great kid, with great potential who would work really hard and learn really quickly…and as my own thoughts turned to blah blah blah in MY head, I found myself thinking, what would Alison say?
    Be specific.
    I shared a story about a conversation I’d had with the kid a year and a half ago that related to the program and I’ll let you know if he gets in.
    thanks, everyone.

  32. Jenny Says*

    I’m in a bit of a pickle. I recently had a death in the family (unrelated to COVID, though not sure that matters). Anyway, an employee of mine has experience with this loss and has made it clear that he is amenable to discussing it. My supervisor informed the team while I was out and my employee sent a nice note, although I would argue it was a bit more … explicit/supportive?… then it needed to be. In addition to the sorry for your loss routine, he provided me with his thoughts about grief. I responded with a very simple thank you. Then, on my first day back, he made another reference to it and in an effort to overcompensate, I probably shared too much about it. Nothing earth shattering, I think I just opened the door more than I was prepared to do. Because I have absolutely no desire to discuss this situation with him at all. Now, whenever we meet up (virtually) he asks me how I’m doing. I’ve responded with how things are going at work, but then he asks how my family is and instead of shutting it down, I respond generally about neutral activities we’re doing.

    The thing is I know I should have put a stop to this weeks ago and on top of the fact that I don’t want to talk about the loss at work, I’m not actually sure I’m prepared to tell him he needs to stop asking how my family is, because that feels strident and unsympathetic. I know he means well and the support he’s trying to provide is genuine, but it’s also kind of horribly misplaced. I don’t want it to be a bonding moment with him. I suppose I could just respond that I’m fine and everyone’s fine and segue into work and hope he gets the hint. It’s only been a few weeks, so I don’t want to overreact.

    1. MissBliss*

      Could you tell him something along the lines of “Bob, I appreciate your concern, but I need to start leaving my loss at home. It would help if you would stop asking about my family and how I’m doing.” That way, the focus is on the “going forward these are my needs/desires” and not “you should’ve never done this in the first place.”

      1. PollyQ*

        Yeah, ideally he would’ve already picked up the hint, but at this point I wouldn’t count on it. Explicitly (yet politely) telling him what you want looks like it’ll have to be the way for you to go.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Each time he brings it up, close him down and redirect to work.
      “Thanks for your concern, Fred, we’re fine. Do you have those teapot spout numbers yet?”

      Repeat this a few times and he should get the message. If he doesn’t:
      “I appreciate your concern Fred, but I’m not discussing this at work.”

      You don’t need to soften the message with excuses or generic info about your family, just keep responses short and polite. All you are doing is re-establishing a boundary between manager and subordinate. You had a human moment with him in a time of loss, but the moment has ended and normal ‘operations’ are resuming.

      And I’m really sorry about your family member.

    3. Colette*

      “I appreciate your support. I need my work time to be focused on work, so the best way you can support me right now is by keeping our conversations work-related.”

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      It sounds like he’s just going with the grief style he is familiar with, and doesn’t want you to think that he’s trying to downplay your grief or how it could impact you, especially in the times where there is a heightened concern about people not getting the help/support they need. Maybe go with the route of “I find that focusing on work allows me a distraction from the stresses of my personal life?” The whole “work is a distraction” thing? I don’t know how to phrase it, but really to get the point across that you appreciate his concern but would like to have a space where you aren’t constantly reminded about your loss? I think being more direct will allow him to understand what you’re comfortable with and what support he can provide.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Bob, I have had a chance to think about what would be helpful to me right now. I have decided that down time- time not talking about life issues- is super important to me. So I won’t be talking about [loved one] at work for quite a while. This is something I really need to do and it’s the best way you can support me right now.”

      Notice you are telling him how he can support you. He should recognize that he does not get to pick what support looks like for you.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Bob, you’ve been very kind about this, but I don’t want to talk about grief at work anymore. I’d rather you didn’t bring it up again.

  33. Lagom*

    I hope this makes sense, I’m sorry it’s so long…

    “X” is the company I have worked at for many years. We are a factory/wholesaler. Our owner also owns another company. “Y” is a direct seller that is complimentary to our business. Think car manufacturer vs. dealership, only a little more specialized. X was the owners first business; we are well run, organized, and the owner often brags about the management in place here. Multiple Y branches have been bought over the years. They are chaotic, disorganized and take the majority of the owners focus and energy and X is often in financial difficulties trying to boost up Y. While I work at X, the work I do is basically for Y.

    Every time the owner purchases a branch of Y, X is expected to bend over backward and twist its processes into pretzels to accommodate Y. Until things inevitably go to sh!t at Y (because they are chaotic and disorganized) and it is left to X to clean up the mess and get things back on track. Just as things start to improve, the owner buys another branch and the cycle continues. It’s been frustrating but for the rural area I live in the pay is good and the people are great.

    “Z” is the newest Y branch and was just bought this year. I did not have a great start with the top guy over at Z, “Rizzo”. Rizzo was hired by owner in March. Rizzo is arrogant, demanding, and tries to take over and change things he doesn’t understand but won’t ask questions or even attempt to understand why things are done a certain way. My very first interaction was him emailing me and demanding I send him highly sensitive spreadsheets without even introducing himself… The email went “Send me ‘spreadsheet’, and any associated passwords so I can review. Rizzo”. I, literally, turned to my manager and asked “Who is Rizzo?”! He is creating overly complicated processes that take ten times longer to do something because they have a miniscule benefit to him (one process will take me hours and literally save him 5 min), recreating wheels that have worked great for years or put in place to prevent a mess that was already cleaned up once. Not only does he act like my boss but he acts like my managers boss too. My manager is top in my department, directly reporting to the owner. And technically we don’t even work for the same company, we are X and he is employed at Y. The one positive thing I will say about Rizzo, is he is a great bullsh!tter. The owner is a really smart guy but does have a tendency to be swayed easily by a smooth talker. This is the main source and cause of all the cleaning up in the past.

    When I bring up my frustrations to my manager, she just says “I know”. And has actually told me “Well, when things go to hell, it will come back to us and we can clean it up.” like that was positive. I don’t want to clean up another Y mess. Y has already cost me raises and the incredibly tiny Christmas bonuses we used to get every year because of the financial strain of boosting and cleaning up Y branches in the past. I feel like Cassandra; I can see the looming tragedy but no one believes me. Only they do believe me, they just won’t do anything about it.
    I live in small town, there are not a lot of jobs out there, especially at my current pay. Family obligations prevent me from moving. And my entire professional experience is with this company. As mentioned above it is a unique field and doesn’t look particularly impressive on a resume, coupled with an absolute inability to self-promote, I don’t look the strongest on paper and struggle enormously with resume and cover letters. (Improved somewhat with advise I’ve found here but still not great.) I have been looking for a new job since March but haven’t even gotten a nibble. Anybody have any advise on what my next step should be? I don’t know how much more I can handle before blowing a gasket.

    1. stressed out friday today*

      From this writeup, you sound incredibly burnt-out, so I’d try to de-focus on work as much as you can. You seem very invested in the new company Z, and I wonder if it’s because of this part of your write-up: “Y has already cost me raises and the incredibly tiny Christmas bonuses we used to get every year because of the financial strain of boosting and cleaning up Y branches in the past. ”

      So… this hasn’t really cost you specifically. The owner is making foolish financial decisions, using the car manufacturing company to be able to afford his dealership habit. The finances shouldn’t be so intertwined between this companies that a loss in one company means that they break promises to you.

      In other words, I suspect you were never going to get that bonus or any raises.

      Either Rizzo will create a gigantic mess at the new dealership for your company to clean up, or he won’t. You can’t really control that. You don’t manage him and your companies are separate. All you can do is CYA and try to emotionally step back.

      But your company’s owner sucks and isn’t going to change.

      1. Lagom*

        Oh, I am very burnt out. Hence spending a good portion of my day on AAM instead of working.
        And no, Y has definitely effected raises and bonuses at X. I’m not in accounting to know all the hoops they go jump through but Y gets in trouble financially, owner feels broke, X loans or covers costs for Y, owner feels more broke and there is some big speech about how great X is doing and how much he appreciates the hard work but due to these things going on at Y, we can’t afford raises this year. The Christmas bonus (all $50 of it) is the same situation.

        1. stressed out friday today*

          Sorry, my mind is fraggled. What I meant is, they used Y as an excuse, but it’s not like internally, where Y is a department in X that was struggling and so the company shifted money around to cover the bad year, and that money came out of the bonus structure for the company as a whole. What’s happening is your company’s owner is shifting money between his business. I assume this is all fully legal (i don’t see why it wouldn’t be) but what it does mean is that he’s treating you like a bank. But it’s like if I took out a loan so big from Bank Of Fridays that the bank could no longer afford to pay its employees. Which would be a very weird thing to happen.

          X and Y are different companies. Your boss is running them badly. Y wouldn’t affect bonuses at X if your boss wasn’t being reckless.

      2. Lagom*

        How would you all handle the resume? To take the car metaphor to the absurd.. I specialize in rear view mirrors and have familiarity with side view mirrors. And though I’ve had several positions at this company, all the job titles are fairly generic and not impressive sounding… Parts Clerk, Estimator, Project Manager, etc. and accomplishments don’t make much of an impact if you are not in the car mirror industry. However, jobs in the car mirror industry are very few and far between and not very “remote” friendly. (And because of obligations, and area I’m in, I’ve been looking for remote jobs.) So, I’ve been trying to expand the job search but job search sites focus heavily on the generic titles and return a lot of jobs I just don’t feel qualified for and are not interested in at all.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am trying to recall what Alison says, 75% of the qualifications is good enough to apply? I think she says 75%….

          I am unwilling to move from my area also. For that I have to trade off some of my need for my job to be interesting. I go more toward, “Do I have a reasonable chance of success at this job?” On the flip side of the coin, you wouldn’t have to be dealing with all the X and Y drama stuff that you have been dealing with. And you won’t have to explain basic things to a person who SHOULD know better by now. Shedding that stuff alone might give you a fresh perspective on jobs that you think are not that interesting. You might end up liking the new place or the people, too, this can make a huge difference in how interesting the job is.

          Don’t forget the whole idea of transferable skills. You are working in arena ABC now, so what other arenas would need similar skill sets?

          1. Tabby Baltimore*

            I’d like to piggy-back on this comment in two ways: (1) Please see my comments above to Diahann Carroll on work-from-home websites that have been mentioned in past AAM posts, if you are looking for ways to increase your income since you can’t move. (2) When looking for jobs, please consider inputting browser search terms for any particular industry-specific application(s) you know how to use, or some very specific niche skill you have. Example: you’re a data scientist, and you know how to use the statistics package SPSS, so you use SPSS as a search term. I’m so sorry you’re so burnt out, this sounds awful, but it also sounds like a situation where–as other posters have suggested–you’re going to have to find a way to minimize how much you care to save your overall sanity. Please keep us posted on how things work out. We’re here if you need us.

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      A couple of ideas came to mind, not sure if they will work, but here’s what I got.

      1. Emails. Document your concerns on paper/an email, don’t just verbalize them. Force people to respond to you in a written format. Keep records of everything.
      2. You need to hit higher with your concerns, if you aren’t already. Your manager does not have the ability to help here, you need to go higher. This is where documentation will help.
      3. Do you have company procedures? If yes, and they’re functional, encourage that any new acquisitions be provided these company procedures so they understand expectations. If not, recommend these documents be created/updated. Having a set process for how work gets done would benefit everyone.
      4. You turn the tables and smooth talk the owner yourself. Use concrete examples and show the owner how Rizzo’s demands are making him lose money and productivity. Give your owner facts that he can use to refute Rizzo. If the owner doesn’t know there is an issue with what Rizzo is saying should be done, the owner won’t fight for you.

      Good luck with the job search!

      1. Lagom*

        1 & 2: Unfortunately documentation does no good here. The only one higher up is the owner and any concerns he brushes aside as us not understanding and parroting back the bull Rizzo gave him on why it needs to be done. Even if there was already a way to do the thing that Rizzo never bothered to learn about. Someone in my position (not a manager) pushing would just wound his ego and he’d dig in even more.
        3: The company has set procedures. They work great. As soon as a new branch is brought in they go out the window.
        4: I was not gifted with the ability to smooth-talk.

        But thanks

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Ah, its a “owner running the company into the ground due to his ego” scenario. Rizzo is playing him, and until he realizes it, its not going to get better. Yeah, disconnect as much of yourself as you can, remind yourself that this is a job that is separate from yourself and that it is not your fault if bad things happen to the company, and peace out as fast as you can.

    3. What the What*

      What if any time Rizzo asks you to do something dumb, you just say “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not my job. I can’t help you with that.” And then just don’t respond to his calls and emails?

      I mean… We hear all the time on this forum about bad employees who refuse to be helpful and yet never get reprimanded or fired. There’s a bit of power to that play, though. The worst that happens is that eventually Rizzo complains enough to Owner that Owner tells you it is your job. Then you say “Sorry for the misunderstanding” but still be slow to respond to Rizzo and do the bare minimum so that he stops trying to make you do things. Your direct manager seems disinclined to confront any problems, so you probably won’t get any serious blowback there.

      I feel like you’re taking on too much responsibility for a mess that the Owner is creating. As you said, you haven’t gotten any raises or bonuses because of this behavior. So why are you allowing yourself to be stressed about it?

      Just start pushing back. Passively delay or ignore. Actively pretend you think something isn’t your job when it sounds too annoying. You won’t be immediately fired or anything. At worst, you may be reprimanded. At best, you may receive no negative feedback at all, since a lot of people in this company seem inclined to ignore and avoid problems.

  34. Amethyst*

    Good morning everyone. I’m a relatively new employee (6 months) and working a job where they’ve put on a two year pay freeze due to COVID. This was a bummer, but I know I’ll probably leave this job at the end of two years anyways since the only way to move up now is to take my boss’s position.

    However, my boss just revealed that she is getting recruited for another position with another company, and she might take it. Cool. She says that she believes in me and wants me to take her position when she leaves. Insert horrible fear.

    I know her intention of hiring me was to mentor me into a leadership role, possibly her role, but at 6 months I don’t feel prepared at all. With COVID, we’re remote, she hasn’t had time to mentor me, I have only had time to learn my job barely, while triaging some programs that were hit hard by COVID. I have no clue how to do so many parts of her job well, or at all. I don’t feel prepared to apply for her job internally, and I know that’s the expectation that I appply, or else it’ll look like I’m not “willing to grow.” I know she and her boss believe in me, but I don’t… yet. I feel like I would feel more confident at 1 year rather than 6 months of sort of learning and coping with COVID.

    It’s making it hard for me to concentrate on my current role, knowing my boss might very well be taking this other job in a month, and I need to learn everything under the sun of her position. Her boss is not a “people person” so she said not to expect much guidance from her boss when she leaves. ACK ACK.

    Part of me wants to just stay in my position for two years, get this job down, and then leave for a different positon when I’m ready. Part of me thinks I should “challenge myself” and risk failing awfully because I feel underprepared and trained and ready, but go with the belief that my bosses somehow have in me. Did I mention my boss is 8 years my senior? Ack.

    1. OTGW*

      Can you just not take her position? Sit down and say look, appreciate it, but I do not feel prepared/whatever to take on this role. Maybe ask her boss if this is something to revisit later?

      1. Amethyst*

        I really want to say that! I have softly said that, but also don’t want to give the impression that I’m not a “go-getter” or something. I’m afraid this will make me look like I don’t have ambition. I’m just….cautious. I swear, if it was a year from now, I would be more confident to try for her position! But a month from now…..omg. I know people who do it but they must be amazing humans.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I would talk to your boss about the items you mentioned in your third paragraph. I think those are excellent points and should be discussed in relation to needed skills and performance metrics.

          “Boss, I’m thrilled that you want me to put my hat in the ring. With COVID, though, there’s several areas I haven’t had been able to work on at all and others that I’ve barely touched. Realistically, would I be able to succeed in your position without these experiences? How critical are these areas?”

          Being a go-getter is more about gumption. Instead, be the thoughtful candidate who weighs pros and cons and really thinks about critical skills and experience needed for successful performance. The answer could be that you do need more time in X and Y before taking on the position. That’s knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

          1. Amethyst*

            Ah, I think you’re right about the gumption. Gumption with a whole job i feel unqualified for is not the thing I want to gump, I think. Framing it as being thoughtful helps me feel better about feeling this way. Thank you!

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Just tell her that, exactly what you said here. You would feel way more comfortable and confident stepping up with more tenure in your current role, and you would like to move into her role at some point, but now isn’t the time. That won’t make you sound unmotivated at all.

          1. Amethyst*

            Ok, that makes me feel better that it doesn’t make me sound unmotivated! I think I will be honest with her then. Thank you all!

        3. WFHGal*

          It sounds like you’re passing on a good opportunity, and if they hire someone else for your boss’ job, that person could stay five years or longer. Would it help to try to articulate what exactly about your bosses’ job scares or intimidates you and try to talk to your boss about getting more training and experience in those specific areas before she/he leaves?

          1. Amethyst*

            I certainly could. My fear is she’d be like “Yeah sure!” and it never happens because everyone is super busy with COVID related programming. Understandably. I think if that’s the case, I would not feel comfortable doing it and possibly f*ckin’ it all up. If someone took the position and was in there five years or longer, I think I’d just go find another position in two years like planned with the pay freeze. At least I could say I did this level of position (one level lower than my boss) well!

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I had this exact fear you’re mentioning here. I had been offered a promotion that I really did not feel ready for, but all the people in positions of authority were telling me how much they knew I was ready and I didn’t want to look wishy-washy or unambitious, so I took the promotion.

          I regret it more than just about anything else I’ve ever done.

          Please don’t put yourself in this position. Let your boss and any other people who are going to be involved in this decision know that, while you’re interested in taking on a position of this nature sometime in the next few years, this is just not the right time for you. If they react badly to that, then you’ve got some new information about your employers to consider. But please don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll be ridiculously stressed out and unable to succeed because you were plopped into a job you weren’t ready for.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ask her how you would be supported if the big boss is not that interactive. It might even be interesting to find out how SHE survives this job with very little support.

  35. Now In the Job*

    I started a new job in October, with the second in command of the department as my boss and on a team with two others sharing work. I basically never saw my boss, but respected her and had good interactions whenever I needed her or wanted to expand into other work. I have worked hard to develop a congenial relationship with the two men on my team and really felt like I was a peer to them.

    Then the department got reshuffled. One of them is now my boss. I’m mourning the loss of the peer relationship, but also struggling a little to make the shift. I now interface with my boss *all the time* since we do some of the same work. The structure makes sense, but I’m at a loss as to how to deal with the formerly-peer-now-subordinate relationship. Does anyone have advice? :(

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think in some ways that peer relationship never fully goes away. There’s that shared history and that familiarity with each other.
      I suspect your boss may lean on you in ways that he may not lean on other people. This happens for a number of reasons- familiarity being a big one. He knows your work and he knows how you think about your processes.
      I guess the number one thing is that he now has final say. So that would be helpful to keep at the forefront of your thinking.
      However, you can closely listen to his questions. Is he asking your advice on a matter? Give him the best answer you can form. This goes back to leaning on you, here it would be for your honest assessment of Current Question/Situation.
      Because he knows your work, he may grant you leeway that the former boss did not. For example he may tell you where you can make decisions that previously the old boss made. Be willing to flex on these points, if it feels a little challenging ask for a check-in here and there.

      Does your new boss have a lot more experience than you? I learned not to take this for granted. I have had bosses that just did not know what I was doing. This is very hard. If he has significant learning under his belt this can be a comforting, reassuring thing. And it can give you a way to reframe/refocus. “I have a knowledgeable boss!” This is a big deal. My husband had a peer-turned-boss and in a surprise turn around my husband liked his former peer even MORE once he became a boss. And that was because the guy was competent and very professional. My husband did not see this one coming and he was actually proud/happy to call this person “my boss”.

  36. The Grey Lady*

    I’m coming back again to raise everyone’s spirits and deliver the Covod-19 good news of the week!

    The U.K. Government has announced that it will be collaborating with Novavax, a U.S. vaccine company, to speed up the availability of a coronavirus vaccine. The UK has purchased 60 million doses of the vaccine that is currently being developed and will distribute them to the UK citizens as part of the phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine. Novavax is hoping to vaccinate 100 million Americans by January.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      Has it finished Phase III trials? (Said in the same tone as “Are they made from real girl scouts?”

      1. CatsAway*

        The vaccine hasn’t finished phase 3 trials (the distribution is part of a phase 3 trial) and an August 4 press release touted the results of a phase 1 clinical trial on 131 volunteers so I don’t think this announcement means very much.

        1. TL -*

          Just glanced at the press release – they are doing a Phase 3 trial in 9,000 adults (the big 3 vaccine candidates are doing 15-30k+ so that’s interesting) and the government has (I assume) committed to buying the 60 million doses if it works. Promising enough, but you don’t know until you know, so until we have the results of Phase 3, nothing is settled.

          1. The Grey Lady*

            Nothing is definitely settled, but it’s something. And I hope we can keep moving forward with it.

  37. Lenore*

    I was reading through a posting for an internship, and at the bottom, in a smaller font and fainter color than the rest of the page, it said, “While Fun Teapots Inc. is inclusive of all people, our fall internship is intended to provide opportunities for racially/ethnically underrepresented groups in the teapot industry.”

    So does that mean anyone who isn’t black/POC shouldn’t apply? I’m unsure because I’ve seen other opportunities that were only for black/POC applicants, but they were more direct and upfront about it. (They had it in the title, or said it was only for black/POC applicants at the very top of the page in normal font.)

    1. WellRed*

      I actually think it’s pretty direct. The internship is for racially/ethnically underrepresented group.

    2. LunaLena*

      No, you should still apply! What they probably mean is that they’ll be looking for [underrepresented group (whatever that means in this particular industry; it doesn’t always mean black)] candidates first, not that they will *only* look at [underrepresented group] candidates. Let’s say, for example, that they have five internships available and there are eight highly qualified candidates, three of who are [underrepresented group]. They will likely give those three candidates the first three spots, then look at the rest of the candidate pool to fill the other two spots regardless of ethnicity or race.

      Of course, there could also be 12 highly qualified [underrepresented group] candidate, or there could be zero. You don’t know what their candidate pool will look like, nor how the company decides their hiring and how much weight they will put on race/ethnicity. So you have nothing to lose by applying, because that criteria might not end up mattering at all. For example, I work at a place that makes a huge effort to promote diversity and inclusion, but they still look first and foremost at qualifications. The last time I was on a search committee, it was for a fairly senior position in a very female-dominated field, and they were actually hoping to attract male candidates – the hiring authority even said as much at the beginning of the process. One guy did make it to the semi-finalist stage, but when they went to check his references, they were… not good. In a field where personal interactions were extremely important. He did not make it to the finalist stage after that, and we ended up hiring a woman who brought a unique and different skill and knowledge set that the department was lacking.

      So TL;DR – just apply! The worst they can do is turn you down in favor of other candidates, which is something that is just a natural thing to happen during any hiring process. I seriously doubt they’re going to go “WHOA, how DARE this person apply when they’re not [underrepresented group]! They are blacklisted FOREVER and we’re going to tell ALL OUR FRIENDS.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Let’s say, for example, that they have five internships available and there are eight highly qualified candidates, three of who are [underrepresented group]. They will likely give those three candidates the first three spots, then look at the rest of the candidate pool to fill the other two spots regardless of ethnicity or race.

        Exactly this.

        1. Newgovemployee*

          I mean yes, but also it’s clearly meant for individuals from underrepresented groups. It might be a waste of time to apply, and also, it would honestly just be kind of rude in my opinion. There are tons of opportunities for white people out there… let POCs have this one!

          1. Allie*

            I’m a little weirded out that it’s in tiny font at the bottom – why not make it more clear that that’s what this is?

            I think that if OP has the application done she can send it in, but yeah wouldn’t get your hopes up on this one

    3. Emily*

      That’s weird that they put it at the bottom and in a smaller font, but the wording does make it sound like the internship is specifically meant for people who are racial/ethnic minorities in your field.

  38. should I apply*

    Looking for tips for a “What do I need to do to be promoted” conversation with your manager

    I have been in my current role for 6 years, I am trying to be promoted to the next level. My manager and I have had good discussions about my overall development goals, but he won’t clarify what is needed for a promotion, I feel like the target keeps on moving. I have been clear for that last 2+ years is that my goal being promoted to the next level. However, every time we talk about it feels like he is avoiding the conversation. I like what I do, but feel stuck career wise. I want to give my manager one last chance before I start seriously job searching. I really want to say “tell me what I need do / skills to improve” but in a more diplomatic manner. How would you approach that conversation?

    1. WFHGal*

      Are there open roles in your company that you’re eligible to apply for? I know in my company, there’s a limited number of higher roles, and I likely won’t get promoted unless someone else retires. It might be that your boss just can’t promote you, and you may have to look elsewhere to keep climbing up the corporate ladder.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        I agree, at this point, I would recommend having a position in mind or show up and say exactly what you want (raise, title, more responsibility, etc). If your boss is still avoiding the conversation, it’s a sign that you’re not going to get promoted with this organization (as WFHGal notes, this may have nothing to do with you personally, the company may just not be able to support movement). Don’t bother asking for what skills you need, find a position you want, and explain how you think you’re ready for that role. Hopefully if the boss still agrees with you being promoted you either get the role, or they tell you where you are lacking for that role so that you can get the skills on your own.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Exactly. For promotions, the demand often exceeds the supply of available positions.

        If boss can’t promote because no slot is open, boss should tell you directly. Likely boss doesn’t want to lose a good employee, so he’ll dangle the promotion as long as he can.

      3. should I apply*

        That’s partially my fear, that there just aren’t opportunities. No positions have been posted, so there is nothing I can directly apply to. However, in the past co-workers have been promoted to the next level without a being a role listed, or someone leaving. This hasn’t happened

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          That’s a little bit messier. If you’re close to co-workers who got promoted ask them how they presented it to your boss. But I would try this time around to highlight your accomplishments and explain how you think you are ready for the promotion now, and hopefully that will force more discussion on what the trajectory plan is. I am recommending this because your current plan is to look elsewhere if you are told a promotion is not in the cards, and I feel that a very blunt approach of “I think I deserve to be promoted” will get you the stay or not stay answer. If you are on the fence about leaving, maybe blunt isn’t great, but it would be more dependent on your boss’ personality.

        2. hats r us*

          In my company there are two ways to get promoted: you are already on somebody’s radar for a specific role, you will be interviewed on the downlow and if successful it’s just announced (no job posting). The other is there is a posting, anybody can apply, the right person is chosen and announced.
          As your colleagues seem to have been in the first category I second reaching out to them to ask about how it went down. This will hopefully give you more insight into how your company ticks and who knows, maybe they can give you some great advice (even if it is don’t bother for reason…)

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

      he won’t clarify what is needed for a promotion, I feel like the target keeps on moving. I have been clear for that last 2+ years is that my goal being promoted to the next level. However, every time we talk about it feels like he is avoiding the conversation.
      I want to give my manager one last chance before I start seriously job searching. I really want to say “tell me what I need do / skills to improve” but in a more diplomatic manner.

      But haven’t you been having a variant of the ‘tell me what I need to do’ conversation the last few times you’ve discussed this? … The target keeps moving. He avoids the conversation. You’ve been clear but things haven’t changed in over 2 years! — What makes you think it will be different this time if you use slightly different wording that can finally get it across? … it sounds to me that it has already got across loud and clear, and been ignored.

      At this point (and I’m typically direct and not afraid of having “that conversation” so I’m not saying this out of fear of confrontation) I’d consider it wasted effort, and actively start searching. Or if there is any opportunity to ‘network’ with your boss’s boss, that could be an avenue to try but I wouldn’t count on it.

      You seem to be thinking that there’s something else you need to do, some skills you need to improve, or something else that “if only I could fix this thing, I could get the promotion” but I fear that there isn’t some specific thing lacking, it’s just some possibility out of: 1) you are being strung along, 2) your boss is too spineless to advocate for you (see paragraph above), 3) for some reason good people are being kept in their ‘place’ rather than encouraged to advance, maybe due to short sighted organisational goals or similar.

  39. Unexpected job*

    So last night I came across a job opening that would be perfect for me. It’s the same job I have now in a niche field with a better title and better hours. I was so excited for the job last night. But now in the morning I am convincing myself to not even bother applying….ugh why do I do this?

    I am very happy with my current job and have been steadily employed during covid. I know it never hurts to apply for a new job but why take the risk when I don’t need to? I couldn’t even use a job offer to negotiate my current salary because of covid salary freezes. I also worry that a new job might result in a net pay decrease because of higher taxes in a new location and higher cost of living.

    Somebody tell me to go ahead and apply for this job anyway!

    1. irene adler*

      Do it.
      Apply.
      Do it before the day is over.
      There’s no risk in simply applying-is there? Not seeing it myself.

      You can do the research and math re: higher taxes and COL. But don’t let that stop you from applying.
      You may learn something about the position that makes it totally worth the higher taxes and COL. OR, you may learn there’s something distasteful about the job that makes you appreciate the one you have. But you won’t find out until you apply.

    2. Now In the Job*

      GO, APPLY. Work out the finances later when you have more information, esp about whether you’d need to move anyway given the world right now.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      *sprinkle sprinkle glitter*
      You are not obligating yourself to anything by taking a first step, but you miss 100% of the first steps you don’t take. Take the step. See where it goes.

      (Mine was a puppy adoption application I submitted yesterday. :) )

    4. RosenGilMom*

      Go ahead and apply for the job! Applying never hurts. Once you meet some people and learn about the environment, and get an offer, then is when you have to worry about deciding.

    5. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Don’t reject yourself! That’s for the company with the job opening to do! I’m being very flippant here, but go ahead and apply. The worst they can do is reject you, and you’ll still have a steady employment at a job you’re happy with. And you’ll have an updated version of your resume and cover letter you can reference in the future if you need them. I see zero downside to applying at this point.

      Don’t worry about whether or not it makes sense to accept until it looks like they want to offer you the job.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      Risk? What risk? If you are offered a job and don’t like the terms, then decline. There is only potential upside here.

      1. Unexpected job*

        There’s the risk of bombing the interview and cringing at that for years to come. The risk that the new company might not be in as good of a position to weather covid. The risk of moving states during a global pandemic. Can you tell I’m a worrier?

        1. MissGirl*

          Yes, but you are pre-worrying. You do not have an offer. You do not have an interview. You don’t even have an application. You’re are so worried about worrying, you are effectively taking yourself out of the running.

          If you bomb an interview, you get to come tell us about it and we’ll all commiserate and share the times we bombed an interview.

          IF you get an interview, you can do tons of investigation to see how they’re handling COVID. You have months of data points about that.

          IF you get an offer, you can do the math THEN to determine if it’s feasible to accept it. You CANNOT do that math now no matter how hard you try. You don’t have enough information.

          IF you accept an offer, you can negotiate around moving or not. If you absolutely have to move now, then you can. Loads of people are still moving. I have a coworker moving a thousand miles this week. You have the capability to reduce the risks or if it feels too risky refuse the offer.

          All jobs have risks. Even staying at a job is a risk. How do you know the new company isn’t better prepared to handle COVID? The real question is, do you trust yourself enough to make the best decisions for yourself and advocate for your needs? Do you trust yourself to handle what may come, knowing no path has guarantees?

        2. LadyByTheLake*

          Step back and breathe — you got your current job, so clearly you can do well on an interview, and even if you don’t, even if you completely bomb the interview — so what? As a senior hiring manager, I can tell you I’ve had people bomb interviews and by the next week (or even next day) I don’t even remember who what person was. So bombing an interview is and should be a momentary blip, it’s an “oops, I went all the way to the store for bread and forgot to buy bread!” moment. Something to laugh at and move on.
          As for the other concerns: The fact that they are hiring six months into Covid tells you that they have enough work and enough money to be adding people. As for moving states, yes — I see that concern, but if the job is good enough, then it might be worth it. Just think about what it would take to make the move worth it, and go into the process with an open mind to see if the new company can provide it.
          Applying for a job is generally a zero risk proposition. TAKING the new job does have risks, but that’s the point of the interview process, so you can get a feel for what the risks are and what the rewards are and make an informed decision.

        3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          You’re getting your risks mixed up here. None of these are risks to applying.

          Bombing the interview is only a risk if you’re invited to interview, and accept that invitation. Cringing at it is something that you (at most) will be doing – interviewers aren’t likely to remember it well enough.

          Everything else you’ve listed is a risk of accepting the job. Which you haven’t yet been offered, nor do you know enough details to accurately worry about. (This is one of my anti-worrying hacks – if I cannot worry about it accurately, then I can wait until I do have that information to worry about it. That way I only have to worry about things once.)

    7. LunaLena*

      Why not just apply? Maybe you’ll apply and find out that the job has some other aspects to it that’ll make you not want it anyways. Or maybe you’ll apply and find out that there are other perks and benefits that make up for the higher taxes and cost of living. But at least you won’t be stuck wondering about the coulda/shoulda/would’ve beens.

    8. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Someone at one point told me to assign a one or the other decision to heads/tails of a coin. Heads= apply, Tails=don’t apply. If you flipped the coin and got tails are you thinking you should flip it again and do a best of 3, or something like that? Then you have your answer. You do actually have a preference.

    9. ThePear8*

      Go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by applying. Just applying never hurts – you can always decide later on if you get an interview if you want to move forward with it. But you won’t know unless you apply! So apply!

    10. Mill Miker*

      Not being sure is a great reason to apply. By applying you keep the possibility open and kick the can down the road to where you have more information.

      Only don’t apply if you’re confident the role is something you don’t want.

    11. voluptuousfire*

      Don’t borrow trouble! (Great saying I learned the other day)

      Just apply to the job, already! Worst case scenario is you either don’t get an interview or you bomb the interview. If you applied to any other job, this would also be the case.

  40. CallMeTired*

    Hello all. I’m autistic and not out about it at work (only my boss knows for work accommodation reasons). My coworkers will talk about autistic individuals/students we work with or in casual conversation and it makes me very uncomfortable. Generally they are trying to be non discriminatory, but it is obvious that they assume an audience of all neurotypicals. They talk about how autistic folks behave in one-size-fits-all kind of ways and as if we’re a curious oddity and not like, just people in need of some supports to get by.

    I’m afraid to say much of anything for fear they’ll find me out. Overall they are good people, but it’s just so othering to hear them say things about autistics. Is there anything to do? Am I being too sensitive about it?

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think you’re being too sensitive. The fact that they talk about autistics so much is weird and a bit discriminatory.

    2. CatCat*

      Could you discuss the issue with your boss since your boss already knows? It sounds like the group could benefit from some implicit bias training and that’s something you could suggest to your boss.

      1. Hazy Days*

        I thought about suggesting that, but unfortunately I doubt that will really help with this situation – the perception of autism is so deep rooted that I think they’ll struggle to change it through abstract training courses. Knowing multiple real-life people with autism is probably the thing that will long-term make a difference, but that’s a big ask for the OP and not something I’d do.

        1. CallMeTired*

          I’ve talked to my boss a little bit about it and we’ve done a training with a specialist about working with autistic students. But I do still think there is so much ingrained prejudice that they don’t think about what they say and how it can be hurtful. And of course these conversations only happen in private, in rooms where they wouldn’t expect someone neurodivergent. And once someone becomes “an autistic person” in their minds, it becomes central to anything related to them.

          I try to be a disability advocate in the office but this one hits a bit too close at times.

          1. Koala dreams*

            It sounds like your co-workers need training in how to work with co-workers, and not just students. There are organizations that offer this kind of training too, sometimes focused on specific disabilities, sometimes more generally about inclusitivity. Something for your boss to think about, perhaps.

    3. Hazy Days*

      You could try saying something like ‘well, a close family member has autism and I really don’t think that’s the case.’
      Or something like ‘what you’re saying really doesn’t chime with my experience – autism affects everyone differently, just like any other disability.’
      But I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is and don’t think you’re being overly sensitive at all.

      1. CallMeTired*

        I’ve wanted to try the family one (it’s legit too) but then I get all nervous about them thinking about how autism runs in families and maybe she’s autistic too? I know they probably won’t go down that route but the anxiety doesn’t listen well. :)

    4. YayRetiringSoon*

      not sure how they can work with people on the spectrum, and not understand that it is called a “spectrum” for a reason. Have you mentioned it to your Boss? Perhaps he can have someone come in, under the guise of a lesson in understanding autism with the goal of giving your clients better support.

    5. GarlicMicrowaver*

      How about trying to shut it down with this dialogue (in a casual tone)…

      First time around- “Interesting. I’ve always thought autism spectrum disorders were complicated with lots of grey areas.”

      If it persists….
      “It’s actually more complicated than what you think/than what the media portrays. Everyone is different- that’s why it’s considered a ‘spectrum’ of disorders.”

      If it still persists…
      “Can we please nix the autism talk at work? I have personal experience caring for someone with this disorder (yes, that someone is yourself, so not entirely a lie) and it can be jarring to hear such generalized commentary about it. I know it comes up in casual conversation, and no harm is meant, but it’s a bit of a sore subject for me and I would appreciate if you could reign it in around me. ”

      If it continues to persist…
      “Hey, I remember asking you before to nix the autism talk around me. Can you please make a point to be more mindful of that?£

      If it continues…
      Would you feel comfortable going to HR and asking them to deliver a blanket statement about appropriate dialogue in the workplace? Eh don’t love this option, and hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

      1. CallMeTired*

        I like these prompts but unfortunately they won’t work all the time because I run into work reasons where we -need- to discuss autism. Maybe I could modify this a bit to remind not to generalize when talking about a unique person’s experience?

        1. Lolli*

          My Mom used to say, “You are painting with an awfully broad brush. Most people won’t fit neatly into your generalizations.”

        2. GarlicMicrowaver*

          Sorry. I missed the connection there. Didn’t realize autism was tied into your workplace. Just thought it was coming up in conversation. Yes, I think you can focus on the fact that it’s not right or accurate to generalize about autism, or any disorder.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      You are not being too sensitive. As I am not sure how this comes up, it’s hard to know what to say in response, but you might want to fall back on questions. Why do you say that? If they talk about what non-neurotypicals can’t do, point to examples of famous people with autism – what about Temple Grandin? or Dan Akroyd? (Or Bill Gates, who is widely believed to be autistic, though I don’t think that’s ever been confirmed.)
      As autism is part of who you are, there is also the question of whether you should hide it. A colleague of mine with autism tells me that he will often use that in response – excuse me, but not all people with autism are like that. I know because I’m one of them. (The answer there is almost without exception the micro-aggression “but you don’t look autistic!” But that is a separate issue…)

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Are you allowed to use the students as examples? I’m thinking about using examples they can relate to, such as showing that John and Joe are both autistic but are completely different. And give them resources to find out more. If you all are assisting autistic individuals, perhaps suggest a partnership with a local organization that provides support to people with autism or have a one of their representatives come in and speak. Or use pop culture, there are autistic movie starts/musicians, and I know that Amy Schumer’s husband is autistic (I don’t know if that is a good example or not). You don’t need to use yourself as an example. But I understand, people who do not have exposure are ready to buy into stereotypes, because it is difficult to understand something you just don’t know exists. We all do it, I’m sure I do, I just try to be more aware of it.

    8. LGC*

      Hi, I’m a somewhat out autistic! I think it makes it easier because I’m 1) a guy and 2) in middle management, so I have (limited) power.

      First, you definitely CAN speak up about your experience with other people on the spectrum and how not all people on the spectrum are the same. I think that a lot of people tend to generalize people on the spectrum as Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, and while it’s…understandable, it’s VERY wrong. (Like, for real. I look at – like – Greta Thunberg and I get JEALOUS because she’s openly said she gives zero hoots about what people think of her because of her autism. I, on the other hand, got the version where I don’t QUITE understand other people, but I know they all think I’m a weirdo.)

      You don’t need to come out, and it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, I do enjoy messing with people – “LGC is on the spectrum? He doesn’t act like my stereotype of an autistic person! He’s a supervisor, even!” But on the other hand…sometimes I do feel condescended to, and people will try to “help out” in ways I don’t really need. (If my bosses are reading: this is why I ask you for what I should do! I don’t need you to talk to people for me.) Ultimately, it’s your choice.

      1. CallMeTired*

        I’m a woman with limited power and have had some struggles at work that, if my diagnosis is known, could definitely been pinned on “ohhh so that’s an autistic thing, that’s why she’s done X.” Which I’m not jazzed about as I’ve improved and gotten to know office norms a lot better than early on at the job.

        But I’m super impressed by anyone that’s out! I’ve been masking for so long that I forget that some people don’t play pretend all the time and that’s okay to do!

        And ugh, helping out. Let us communicate our needs directly please y’all.

    9. Koala dreams*

      You are not too sensitive, your co-workers are rude. My suggestion is preparing a short comment that makes it clear that you disagree. You can then practise saying that when you hear hurtful comments. After your short response, you can change the subject or leave the room.
      Examples: Wow. / What a rude thing to say! / That’s not true. / It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing, it’s a spectrum. / I don’t appreciate that kind of comments about (people with disabilities /autistic people/students/co-workers/fellow humans).

      Sometimes it’s useful to say “What do you mean?” in response to weird comments. Some people will realize they said the wrong thing and amend their statements. So you can try that.

      I doubt it would help if they knew you were autistic, people are very fond of their preconceived notion, and unless they are willing to work on changing them there’s no point. However, if you speak up and those people say less hurtful things in your presence it’s a win. Your goal is not to change their hearts, your goal is to have a less toxic work environment. You absolutely can bring up hurtful comments to your boss and to HR. It’s not okay to say ableist things just because there aren’t any students in the room.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Additional comment:
        I find it helps to think about how there are trends in comments about various disabilities. If you go back in history, people have been saying very similar things about a lot of different disabilities, both physical and psychological. It’s not personal, and it’s not really about autism. A hundred years ago people would have made the same comments about something else.

        I don’t know if this kind of thinking is helpful for you, but I wanted to add it in case it is. If it isn’t helpful, disregard it.

    10. Lady Heather*

      “You know what they say – if you’ve met one autistic person.. you’ve met one autistic person.”

      Maybe you can comment that?

    11. Anono-me*

      I think this is a two part problem.

      If I understand your situation correctly, you are a person with a diagnosis of autism and your co-workers don’t seem to want to understand that autism is a complicated multi faceted diagnosis and your organization work with students, someone whom have autism.

      1. So the first part is you have to be around people who are deliberately being loud ignorant jerks about autism, and know that your coworkers would say the same things about you behind your back.

      2. You and your horrible coworkers work with autistic students. How can they do their job properly if they don’t understand the basics of autism and how it affects learning and just how people deal with the world? How can they provide a properly supportive educational environment if they don’t respect the basic human dignity of their students?

      Plus – How is your supervisor not addressing the autism sterotyping as both a nasty thing to have in any workplace and as professional incompetence?

      Maybe you could focus on correcting your co-workers about autism issues just as you would about other professional issues.

      PS – Everyone, every single stinking one of us, needs some support to get by. It’s just that most people need a similar type of supports. ( Think of how they make right-handed and left-handed scissors, but label them “scissors” and “left-handed scissors”.)

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

      I’d suggest you could talk about your “good friend” Sam (or whoever) who is diagnosed autistic and the challenges that they face day-to-day, the things they are able to do normally and the type of things they can generally manage with a bit of support, etc. Through your ‘friend’ you’ve also gotten to know other autistic people and they definitely don’t behave in “one size fits all” sort of ways, but rather each has their own individual experience with their own strengths and weaknesses, just like all the ‘neurotypical’ people !

      I am not autistic myself although I do know a number of people fairly well who are, but I have a condition of my own that a lot of people do tend to describe in “othering” terms and make generic statements about, so I think I can understand to some degree, though not 100%, how that tends to go.

      If you don’t want to be “found out” as autistic, I think the white lie of ‘Sam’ or whoever and your knowledge of autism through them is probably a good way to challenge these type of statements — it sounds like they want to do the right thing but have got stuck here, possibly just due to a lack of knowledge and assume that “well, autistic people would assume X about situation Y” sort of thing.

  41. Pippa K*

    “Said there is no potential liability issue because students couldn’t prove they were exposed in the classroom.”

    Our university said the same thing in regard to whether staff (such as dining hall workers) would be eligible for worker’s compensation if they contracted Covid. This was also the original logic for refusing to conduct testing (“you could have a negative test and then be exposed at lunch!”) but they’ve given in on that point, thankfully. Sounds like your institution is handling it even worse than mine, and you have my sympathy and best wishes for getting through the semester.

  42. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What do you miss most about being in the office? I miss the big printer/scanner/copier. Scanning things with my phone is a hassle!

    1. Raising an otter villiage*

      Unscheduled interaction. I don’t just mean socially, I mean professionally. I have a very collaborative role in a pretty small office, and it used to be easy to hash things out in between meeting or over coffee. Now every decision needs an official meeting.
      Plus, as introverted as I am, I do actually miss the comraderie that comes from seeing people every day and having common experiences like traffic or no water in the water cooler.
      (I realize it sounds like I enjoy painfully dull small talk, amd I don’t. I really just mean having common experiences, rather than talking about them. I hope that makes sense?)

      1. Violet Newstead*

        I struggled with this at the beginnings of WFH. In May, I bought a portable monitor and it changed my WFH life. It plugs into the USB port of the laptop and has a stand-case like a tablet so can be stored in my laptop bag when not being used. And it wasn’t too expensive and it’s also been great for streaming content with my personal laptop too.

        1. Anon for this*

          Ooo! Can you post a link to it? That sounds like exactly what I’ve been looking for.

      2. Mockingjay*

        My monitors. Oh, my kingdom for my monitors…

        I ordered a portable, add-on monitor for my laptop, but my order coincided with “back to virtual school” time, so EVERYONE is ordering monitors and stock is low. The Bezos keeps changing the shipping date to later, and later… (Note: I tried to buy local; sold out.)

        1. BookishMiss*

          I took two monitors from my desk when i went WFH, and i am SO GLAD. I could not do my job on one screen.

      3. Colette*

        Me too. And being able to do everything on the work network – we had issues back in March so now half my work is on my work computer on the network, and half is on my personal computer off the network. And because I don’t have my work monitors, I’ve got them both hooked up to the same monitor and switch back and forth.

      4. Nessun*

        My workstation! I had two mounted monitors I could swivel, and a stand/sit desk, plus my laptop and my peripherals. Now all there is, is a laptop at my kitchen table. *sigh* Multiple monitors are so very useful, and finding a second one right now has been a nightmare…I won’t have 3 again until I’m back in the office (sometime in 2021).

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

        Me too! And the dock for my Macbook. I had to spend about $50 for a basic USB-C, HDMI and USB connector to make it work with the monitor at home.
        Funny story about the monitor (it’s a 24” Dell with an IPS panel). I saw it last December, spent all January wrestling with the bank to raise my credit limit to buy it, and finally bought it in February. I never imagined I would use it so intensively since March. My eyes are grateful.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Me too. Instead of sending a real document I have to save everything as a PDF, then mark it up using clunky old Adobe Acrobat software (for some reason all the instructions we have are for a different version than the one we actually use), re-save it and then email it to someone back at the office who can actually print it out.

    2. Jean (just Jean) Seeking Electronic Pest-Repelling Devices*

      I miss working in a space that is mostly clutter-free and entirely free of any visual reminders of home-based tasks.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        My work corner is so cluttered. I was going to do that today but we have a bunch of stuff to do

    3. Me*

      An actual desk with dual monitor setup. A laptop from my dining table isn’t ideal or comfortable. I borrowed an office chair from work so that did help some but overall it’s for the birds.

        1. Leap Day Highway*

          Me too! HUGE difference.

          I also bought a printer. You have to manually flip the paper over to print on both sides, but OMG reading things on paper again!

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I miss working in a different space than my partner. It’s nice to have someone around for random conversations, but he relies on me WAY too much to be his professional sounding board and we work in entirely different industries.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I miss my big workspace with two monitors and a full-size keyboard and mouse. It’s just not really feasible to set that all up at home.

      I miss seeing random people I don’t work closely with but enjoy seeing/talking to.

      I miss free product samples, even though I don’t really NEED anymore of our stuff. And free food, even though, again, I’m not exactly starving here.

      1. Margali*

        Getting out of my house!! The additional flexibility of working from home has not been great for me — I need some outside deadlines in order to be more productive. I miss getting to chat with my co-workers, and the ability to walk around the office and request work if things are slow for me.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m in the office because only a tiny portion of my job can be done remotely, but we wear masks all the time. I miss being able to sit at my desk leisurely sipping a beverage while I do my work.

    7. Mimmy*

      -Lunch with coworkers
      -Seeing my students in person
      -The consistency of having my students all on the same computers; teaching them remotely is hard because they all have different skill levels and different equipment – at least in the classroom, I could set things up for those who aren’t as skilled
      -The separation of home and office – I loved the feeling of coming home, sometimes getting straight into my pajamas, and letting go of work for the evening.

    8. Quinalla*

      I miss being able to turn and talk to people at work. I’ve been trying to hit up someone on Teams when I have the urge to say something, but I often feel like I’m bugging people where in person you can see if someone is busy/stressed/whatever and not bug them.

      My home set up is pretty good otherwise except for my 3 kids being around all day.

    9. allathian*

      My coworkers! Not so much my own team, because we have a weekly team meeting and a happy half hour of random chat on Friday. But I really miss those ad hoc chats in the break room or corridor.

      My son started school in person this week and on Thursday my husband drove me to work and back around our son’s school hours (I’m not driving myself because parking is so expensive, provided you can find a parking space). I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time I was there, which TBH really surprised me. I basically went there to pick up a few personal items I left there in March and to clear my desk so the cleaners can actually do their jobs properly. I’ve been so happy to WFH and about as productive as normal. The office was almost empty because most people are WFH or on vacation, but it was great to sit in the break room and drink coffee with coworkers. We kept our distance, at least 10 ft and it was only for 10 minutes, but it literally made my day. Or week…

  43. I See Real People*

    My company recently had a couple of hard-to-fill job openings, and I asked my friend if she knew anyone looking for a position. She had her daughter apply and I made the recommendation for her to the hiring manager. So now it’s weeks later and they’ve not hired anyone yet, and my friend lights me up every day asking why they haven’t contacted her daughter for an interview. I don’t have an answer. There was no guarantee of an offer, but my friend is mad that they haven’t moved forward with her daughter. Anyone else have an experience like this? How do you save the friendship if the daughter doesn’t get the job? Ugh!

    1. Raising an otter villiage*

      I’m so sorry your dealing with this! Its sounds frustrating. Have you explained to your friend that its completely out of your hands? Directly explaining, “I’m hoping for the best but now that I’ve made my recommendation, theres nothing I can do.” If she tries to push back and suggest ways that you can push on her daughters behalf, just say, “No, that won’t work for my situation.” Disengage from the conversation if she doesn’t accept that.
      If they never contact the daughter or send a rejection and your friends tries to blame you, act baffled and explain, “surely you know I have no control over those decisions.” If she keeps pushing or blaming, you know that she is not reasonable person.
      I hope this gets resolved peacefully for you!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If your friend gets angry at you when her daughter doesn’t get a call, then the friendship can’t be saved. And, frankly, it shouldn’t be. Your friend is unreasonable. You made a referral and even a recommendation, but you’re not the one hiring for the position and therefore it is out of your hands. If your friend had asked you ONE time several weeks after the resume was submitted, you might have followed up, but you are not the one making this decision and your friend is way too involved. Besides that, it should be the daughter following up– not every day, of course!

      I’m sorry. Your friend is obnoxious.

    3. stressed out friday today*

      What kind of job does your friend have? If it’s not structured like this company at all, can you give it to her in a metaphor to what her job is structured like? You aren’t the hiring manager, you have no input or control, and even if you do, it’s a conflict of interest for you.

    4. Another JD*

      Have you clearly and directly told your friend you have no control over hiring for the position and to stop asking?

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

      Do you think the daughter was actually a good fit for the position based on what you know? Depends on why it’s “hard-to-fill” I suppose? (e.g. specific expertise is hard to come by in this specific location, vs job is paying minimum wage but requires much more than other minimum wage jobs in the area, etc). Maybe you should have ‘referred’ the application rather than making a recommendation as such?
      I think at this point if the daughter hasn’t been contacted it’s fairly certain that the company isn’t interested (especially if it’s hard to fill, I’d expect they would be all over a suitable application).
      Your friend sounds a bit too emotionally invested in her daughter’s job search. I’m not sure what to say to her, but whatever you say I’d keep that in the back of your mind as how she is likely to respond.

    6. Emilitron*

      I’ve been in similar situations a couple of times, someone asking for updates after a recommendation. I don’t know that it “worked” as it wasn’t with friends I was super close to so it’s hard to judge if quality of the relationship was affected, but my approach was to highlight that I’d already done them a favor.
      “Oh, yes! I did give the resume to the hiring manager, they were really happy to get it, especially when I told them I knew you were really good with llama grooming. The actual hiring goes on above my pay grade, I’m not involved – I’m just happy I was able to help you out with getting the resume in front of the boss, sometimes getting eyes on you resume can be the hardest part. Let me know if you hear anything back!”

  44. CasinoMaskHelp*

    I’d really like some advice on this:

    I work at a casino, and I’m a multiracial woman. Yesterday, a man wrote a confederate flag mask into the building, and security didn’t stop him. At one point, I was talking to a player (he’s Latino but often mistaken as Black), and the man was hovering around us as if trying to be antagonizing. I’m very upset that our security allowed this man in. We’re in Iowa, so we’re not even in the south. I want to go to HR, but I’m not sure if this is something they’ll deal with. Does anybody know what I should do?

    1. BadWolf*

      Would it have been appropriate to call security/boss when you spotted the person to “recheck” the person (like “can someone recheck this person, it looks like they have a confederate flag mask on”)? Does security normally screen incoming people at the detail? Are they supposed to be screening for types/patterns of masks? Unsure what your current policies are — if the guy walked in with a couple of people, would security have just been checking for a presence of masks on faces versus what the mask actually is?

    2. LGC*

      What’s the casino’s dress code? Do they prevent patrons from wearing visible hate symbols? Do they consider the Confederate battle flag a hate symbol? That’s my first set of questions. I’d actually ask HR about this at first!

      (And yes, it’s problematic that I’m asking if they consider the Confederate battle flag a hate symbol. I hate myself for even needing to ask this.)

      The bigger problem is the patron’s behavior, and that I would clearly report.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I would focus on the behavior of one patron trying to antagonize another. Surely that is prohibited and then you don’t have to get into an argument of what kind of masks/symbols people are allowed and whether the confederate flag is a hate symbol (which I think it is) — the more important thing here is that one patron was being a jerk to another patron and apparently either trying to start something or trying to make a paying customer leave or feel uncomfortable. The method that he was using to do that isn’t really critical to the behavior.

      1. ThePear8*

        Agreed, I would focus on this as the more concerning behavior and more likely to have something done about it

      1. SweetestCin*

        antigone_ks’s situation/note detailing how the college is dealing with reopening is so bananacrackers that I immediately knew who you were responding to!

  45. Raising an otter villiage*

    What makes a role an entry level ones? How would you know it was time to promote an entry level employee into a more challenging position?

    (I know this will vary considerably between fields, but let’s try to think abstractly.)

    1. Mid*

      Willingness to train an employee with zero skills in the area, needing no field-specific experience to do the majority of the work (so basic office skills would be needed but they wouldn’t need to know how to use your specific internal programs)

    2. Littorally*

      From my experience…

      Entry level roles are ones that don’t expect any significant prior knowledge of either the company or the industry. They usually have more explicit and longer training periods that are intended to educate people more broadly.

      And in terms of promotion, I think it’s not going to be significantly different than any other time. Is the employee performing well at the work they do, have they demonstrated that they’re thinking above and beyond the narrow confines of their role, would they bring valuable skills to their new position?

    3. Chronic Overthinker*

      Entry level means little to no experience needed to do the job where most of the skills learned are on-the-job. A job where soft skills are key and specialized skill are learned is definitely entry level. Generally no high level degree needed nor specialized training to do the job. If your entry level employee is taking on duties that require specialized training/knowledge then it may be time to promote. That’s as generalized as I can make it.

  46. Mid*

    How and when do you tell a company you’ll be heading to graduate school, especially when you need their letters of recommendation?

    For more information: I work for a law firm, I’m planning on applying to Law School next year (so I’ll start in Fall 2022 most likely.) They’ve known from the start that I want to go to law school. I’m also hoping to do a part time program and continue to work for them during school, but it’s not a guarantee. There’s only one part time program in my state, and it’s at a fairly expensive school.

    So when and how do I bring this up? What if I don’t get accepted into any programs?

    1. CTT*

      I did something similar to you – I worked as a paralegal but didn’t come in knowing I wanted to go to law school. I worked primarily for three attorneys and I made them aware I was seriously considering it about a year before I ended up starting law school (I started August 2015, I probably first discussed it with them July/August 2014). I asked them for recommendation letters as soon as applications opened that fall; the three I asked for letters from (plus their assistant, because I wanted her to help me stay on them about the deadline) were the only people I told at that time. I’m not sure what sort of position you’re in, but I think at the application stage, the only people you need to tell are the ones you are asking for letters of recommendation from. If they’ve always been aware that you planned to go to law school, I don’t think you need to give them a really advanced head’s up. Not that you can just forward them the form letter of recommendation and instructions – do send a thoughtful email explaining your decision (if you can do it in-person, even better!).

      I got into the only school I applied to, so I can’t speak to what happens if you don’t get in, but I think that’s an argument for keeping the universe of people who know your plans small.

      1. AnecData*

        Law school may be different, but I told my company I was applying to graduate schools ~9 months in advance – but I also trusted that they’d handle it well, was very committed to building a smooth transition for my direct reports and willing to take the (in my case, small) risk of early notification to maximize the chance of that, and I wanted one of my recommenders to be from work. It worked out fantastically – my grad school referrer actually gave me a copy of the letter they wrote for me, and I actually printed it out and kept it in my desk during a few particularly tough months of grad school to read through as a reminder of why I chose my field, why I’d chosen grad school, and what it was going to let me accomplish in the future :).

        But YMMV – in my case, I was fairly confident my company would handle it well, and also financially stable enough that, even if I had been pushed out early, it would have been stressful but I would have still been housed/fed/insured.

    2. Katydid*

      If you decide to tell them far in advance, I would recommend also being really clear about your goals during your remaining time. I once had an employee tell me she was leaving for grad school with a few months of notice, but he didn’t have specific things he wanted to accomplish or wrap up during that time. I found it very awkward to manage him for that summer, and I think he probably didn’t have enough to do because I couldn’t match him with any significant projects.

  47. Ali G*

    I went to our office yesterday! We lost our internet at home (it’s still down, but my neighbor is letting us use theirs), so unless I wanted to bail on all my meetings and take the day off, I had to go in.
    It wasn’t bad at all. I am impressed with the changes we’ve made to keep people safe, and it was actually pretty great to see some co-workers again (all 3 of them!). It was weirdly motivating.
    I was unsure about spending time in the office on a regular basis, but I think post-labor day I might start, maybe 2 days a week.
    Anyone else looking go back in part time and maybe OK with it? Are you doing it now?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      We have been divided into teams and the teams take turns on a weekly basis. I only see (am exposed to) those on my team. No one is in every day of their assigned week – most are in two days unless the work requires one to be physically present on a specific, unassigned day. Like you, I agree it is great to occasionally see co-workers. We’ve all been issued masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. It works pretty well.

    2. Gumby*

      I’ve been going in an average of once a week the whole time. It’s an essential business where most of my coworkers need to be on site – labs – but my job can be done almost entirely remote. In any case, I am okay with it. People are taking it seriously and we have plenty of room to stay physically distant. People are working from home as much as possible, flexing schedules even more than usual, all previously shared offices are now single-occupancy, etc. I am surely safer in my office than on a trip to the grocery store.

      And yes, it is nice to see other people and have in-person conversations (usually when they stand in the hall and I am in my office 10+ feet away and we’re both wearing masks). Plus, the commute is a dream!

  48. AnonInTheCity*

    My husband and I bought a small condo in our dream city last summer, because it was a city we wanted to live and raise our child in (I was pregnant at the time), and because it was close to both of our jobs and favorite restaurants, movie theaters, etc. We didn’t anticipate a global pandemic closing all those activities, me getting laid off, and my husband being on indefinite WFH. Now I’ve also found a new job that will be 100% remote forever, and we are still a long way from being comfortable going out to restaurants and such. This house is NOT set up for both of us to WFH at the same time with a child. We have no workspace except a tiny table in the bedroom. We were so happy to buy this place but both of us permanently working from home with no daycare never entered our minds as a possibility. Is it crazy that we’re thinking of moving? Should we give up and buy a big place in the suburbs or hang on and hope things get better?

    1. Littorally*

      Not at all crazy, and you’re not the only ones thinking that a little more room would be a good thing! Particularly if your job will be remote permanently, there’s a lot of value in finding a place that will give you an actual home office space.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      You’re not crazy, and if you two genuinely don’t have any room to WFH permanently, then you should absolutely look to sell/move.

    3. voyager1*

      Not crazy but just FYI. In many places there is way more buyers for houses then sellers. Houses are moving pretty fast.

    4. stressed out friday today*

      Consider short term vs long term in terms of needs? If yes, you think you both will be working from home until the end of time, would you want to pay money for a co-working arrangement?

      I love remote but yeah, it pushes all the “office space” costs on the employee. If you think you’ll be permanent in work from home and need more space for you each to have your own office, you’ll need a place for that.

      But the “no daycare” is hopefully a temporary problem.

      1. AnonInTheCity*

        Yeah, I think the “no daycare” being temporary is the biggest thing that’s stopping us from making any big decisions. ONE person can reasonably work comfortably from this house if the other one is at an office and the child is at daycare, and my husband’s office will definitely reopen…someday. I love the idea of a coworking space but budget-wise it’s probably either that or daycare, but not both.

        1. stressed out friday today*

          There’s definitely some money math to deal with, since every change option comes with costs. Say you sell your condo and buy a house and move, that’s gonna cost money (and take time). If you get coworking space, that’s money. If you get daycare, that’s money. If you can’t afford a coworking space and daycare and you think you’ll both be working from home forever, it makes sense to sink money into a house. How do house/moving costs stack up against daycare and coworking costs?

          Also, how big’s your living/dining area (my tiny rented condo has a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and then space that is living/dining/storage), can you shove a desk in there?

          Daycare costs being temporary also mean that eventually the kid goes off to school in a few years, so the costs shift to after school programs/other activities, but I hear those are cheaper than daycare. (I have no direct knowledge.)

          1. KX*

            I don’t know how co-working space worked in the olden days, but these are now days.

            All the school age parents are talking about learning pods. Can you create a coworking pod somewhere with friends or other workers to share costs for a workspace?

            I am thinking aloud only. But heck. We might as well reimagine the world in its ideal state before compromising.

            Do you really want to move?
            Do you only need a little more space?
            What’s your perfect solution?

        2. TL -*

          I would think multiple levels of long-term – first, in terms of months to a year, with any luck daycares will start to (safely) open soon and a vaccine will appear. Your kid is only going to need daycare until they start school, so it may be months more working with a kid at home, 3-5 years working from home, then you can afford a coworking space.

          (Assuming you stay in the fully remote position; it may be only a couple of years or less and you decide you’d like to move jobs, so that’s a factor.)

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

      Surely daycare won’t be off forever? Even if it’s a year from now…

      Can you set up any other “workspace” in your apartment? You have a ‘bedroom’ so presumably there’s some other space outside the bedroom even if that’s just setting up another tiny table in your living/cooking area.

      Can you use some kind of “screening” (an actual room divider, or something like a bookcase or other piece of furniture) to split up a space into 2 separate areas?

      Where do you eat your meals? Could that be used as a makeshift workspace?

      Having said all that, if you have the option to “give up and buy a big place in the suburbs” then I’d suggest you consider it while you have good jobs!

  49. CatPeopleProblems*

    So I have four cats and two foster cats at home due to the shelter situation with COVID. Problem is, with everyone home, all six are often crying for attention/treats or literally in my way! Or they try to always sit on my paperwork/in my chair. I almost sat on Mr. Fat Cat the other day, since black cat + black chair.

    This causes some problems since work requires I often be on the phone. How do you keep your animals quiet with limited space and time?

    1. BadWolf*

      If you play with them a bunch at breakfast time, would that induce longer nap time? Can you adjust feeding schedules? Mine get antsy before lunch time so a couple of times I had to do lunch early because I was getting on a Zoom meeting.

      Maybe adding attractive beds/boxes/window ledges near your workspace? Decoy keyboards?

    2. Nicki Name*

      I have only half the cats you do, but making sure there are comfy spots where they can sit and watch me without being in my way has mostly done the trick. I still have to remove one cat from my chair some mornings (it used to be “her” chair back when it wasn’t used much).

      I remember the AAM call for photos of home working spaces a few months ago also had a number of desks with boxes on them for cats to sit in.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I do this too. Supply the cats with places that are near you but more appealing than your keyboard, or else be eternally removing four-legged “helpers” from your keyboard. I have boxes, decoy chairs, shelves, etc. And I only have two cats!

    3. Lady Heather*

      I have zero experience with cats.

      I did read somewhere that the reason cats lie on your keyboard is because the keyboard is warm. If that’s something your cats do, or if the paperwork they lie on is placed on top of a warm electronic, maybe providing a warm alternative can help?

      (Same for cold – during a recent heatwave it was recommended to place a couple of bottles of cool-not-cold water through the house in the shade so cats can rest against it to cool themselves as they please.)

      (If this is Cat 101, please don’t be offended – it was news to me when I read it.)

    4. Mill Miker*

      What’s the layout of your living space like? Can you create a buffer between you and the cats when needed? I’ve got a setup when I can close my office door, and close the door on the room the office connects too, and the cats can’t get near enough to be heard (they still have like 60% of the living space to roam free in, just not access to the best windows).

    5. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Catnip toys are quite useful as a diversion.

      Sitting on things you want/need to read/work on seems to be pretty universal with cats – hard as it may be can you establish any space boundaries at all, shutting doors even for part of day and be really disinterested when they come looking for attention, treats etc. Also white noise when you’re not on calls to drown out their inevitable summons.

  50. Small craft business?*

    I would love to have a small craft business that I could do locally. Something like candles, soaps, or little items like that, a little treat for friends and neighbors that might make a few dollars. Does anyone have experience like this?

    I am also open to other ideas!

    1. Colette*

      Be really honest with yourself about the true cost of making your crafts, including paying yourself for your time, and figure out if you will actually be able to make money. Some crafts are very labour intensive and you will not be paid back for the time you put into them.

      (I haven’t done it because in my experience, you’re lucky to be paid back for the materials needed to make your crafts.)

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Also, look at how many other people are making soap, candles,etc. Frankly. the market online and offline is often overloaded.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is what you would call a “gift shop”, are you making the crafts or sourcing them?

      I have a decent amount of experience with gift shops, they’re not lucrative, you want to make sure it’s something you want to invest your time in because you won’t have much capital to spend on more than your retail space and local advertising.

      You need to have a startup fund. Rent is usually due up front, sometimes in a large chunk for retail/commercial space. You’ll want to scout your area and find the location and start looking at rates. You need to know your overhead to see if it’s something you can afford. You have to charge enough to cover your monthly bills, plus pay yourself a living wage.

      Or are you thinking of “classes” or “trunk show” style, in home doings? Then you need a network and also money for advertising, you should look into your area’s local small business associations!

    3. miro*

      I used to sell knit/crochet stuff at local craft shows. There are booth fees (often minimal or free, at least around here) but you don’t have to worry about maintaining a storefront, paying rent, or even online store stuff–though plenty of people on the craft show circuit did online shops too. However, it does come down a lot to being connected to the local community in terms of knowing when/where stuff is happening, since it’s not always an open-call sort of thing

    4. ...*

      Usually it starts from a real hobby that someone has a fairly serious interest in. So it might be tough to just randomly get super into making candles, soap, etc. Do you enjoy crafts and projects? Most people lose money or break even rather than profiting. They are fine breaking even because it pays them to do their hobby. If you want to make money you will want to dedicate time to creation, branding, marketing and selling. I have friends in the jewelry community that do this but it takes considerable time and money and is definitely a passion, not just a little side hobby.

      1. WellRed*

        I was thinking the same thing. Like, if you loved to knit, you’d try and do something with that, not just pick a craft that you may or may not have experience with. Especially if you want to make money. I have a coworker who knits and does maple syrup. But her hats are $25, which is a little steep for me and the small syrup bottles are $10. Not saying they aren’t worth the price but small batch crafting is expensive and time consuming.

        1. HBJ*

          Yes, to the last sentence! You will definitely need to brand yourself. Locally made, organic/clean ingredients, uses local/wild/home-grown/raised ingredients whose properties give xyz benefits. You will never be as cheap as Walmart, so you have to brand yourself with some reason you’re better than whatever cheap stuff manufactured in China.

  51. Sink or Swim*

    How do I deal with the disappointment and stress of, yet again, being thrown into the deep end in my new job? In a field that I have 0% experience or background in?

    I graduated college a few years ago and have bounced around jobs that were in different fields. So I moved from tech to medical and now I’m in HR – all as junior/entry admin positions. Had to move around because I was laid off each time (budget cuts and later covid) and my degree was a liberal arts one so I don’t have much specialized skills. Each time, I got good vibes from the interview and later found myself being thrown head first into work and grinding a lot of hours to understand the field without training.

    Now I’m in the HR position as a newbie and it was the first time where I wasn’t drowning in work and figuring things out myself! My boss is a sweet guy but has too much work, so I worked on small things on the side. My dept knows I’m a total newbie – I’ve never had a HR-related position ever and was googling “HMO vs PPO difference” or “how does HR work” during work. I was hired mostly for data entry and I expected to be able to really pick my boss’s brain on what I should know for this entry job later on. I was promised that there would be training so I’ve been mostly waiting for that to happen.

    But now my boss is ill and it’s very hectic. His supervisor has taken over and has dumped a lot of tasks and expectations on me now. I’m trying my best to squeeze all the info, procedures, etc into my head but I’m really struggling here. I can only rely on my boss’s supervisor for feedback or questions for important things, which is difficult because he is also very very busy putting out other fires.

    So… what can I do? I feel like a big failure for not being able to handle everything but also a bit frustrated that I feel like I’m not being given all the training/help necessary to succeed. We’re a mid sized company (~100 employees) and our department is tiny…

    1. Reba*

      You are not a failure. A key member of your small-but-critical department is out (it sounds like maybe for a long time?). It sounds like you have had no or inadequate training, which is bad. But know that it is also normal to take a long time to learn things about a job, like years!

      Also, look up the article “burnout and the brain,” a lot of what you are feeling is related to stress, not your inadequacy!

      Could you schedule a big-picture conversation with your de facto boss and say, look, I’m struggling to keep my head above water and I’m not at the level where I can take on this many of Boss’s tasks, can we talk about prioritizing and what we can let drop for a while?

    2. stressed out friday today*

      Can you lean on any of your coworkers for support? Put together some of the other questions and have a 30 minute training session?

    3. WFHGal*

      Can you schedule a regular check-in with your new supervisor where you can bring questions? Maybe something once a week?

      If your questions are task-related (how do I upload this spreadsheet? How do I fix the jammed printer? How do I look up this number?), are there any other coworkers in the office who can help to provide insights? I’ve found the higher people go up in the company, the less likely they are to know about nuts and bolts, simply because they haven’t dealt with them in a long time. So your supervisor might not be the best person to ask.

    4. HR Bee*

      Honestly, with only 100 employees, I’m shocked your company has more than 1 person in HR. Unfortunately, you can’t really lean on people outside HR when you’re in an HR role. I definitely agree with the weekly 1:1s with your supervisor.

      Also, see if your company will pay for you to join SHRM and your local SHRM chapter. The local chapter in my area was a god send when I was first starting out.

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

      You aren’t a big failure (or any kind of failure)! You are doing the best you can, probably more than would be expected from most people, to “step up” and try to solve things yourself before just throwing your hands up to your boss’s boss. It’s a bit of a baptism of fire!

      Your boss’s boss, I’m sure, doesn’t expect you to know everything about HR (if you feel like he does, you need to have that conversation, no matter how busy he seems to be — senior managers are always ‘busy’ but usually with stuff that can wait, if there’s an actual situation that needs solving, in my experience).

      You have an opportunity to shine here. Show what you are able to pick up, and what you can do (and yes, knowing when to escalate something because it’s outside of your wheelhouse and how to communicate what you need, is also a skill in itself!).

      Is it the kind of situation where you are given things to handle and you could run the proposed ‘solution’ past the big boss? If so, I think you could come up with what you think is the best way to proceed with these tasks, with some level of confidence of how sure you are e.g. “I just need sign-off for this” vs “I don’t know at all what to do in this situation”.

    6. Cassidy*

      Can’t help but wonder why you were hired “mostly” for data entry and now find yourself tasked with responsibilities for which, as you write, you don’t have background, let alone experience. On top of that, your boss’s boss is making things worse by treating you as though you DO have relevant background and experience.

      You’re not the failure here, Sink or Swim. Your company is, for hiring you according to deceptive practices, by saying it’s for data entry but then weirdly throwing an accompanying kitchen sink at you. Meanwhile, your boss being ill shouldn’t have any impact on your access to quality training.

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. *If it’s at all possible,* don’t walk. Run. Not worth the stress, or the risk of being fired and having to bear the consequences of THEIR malfeasance.

  52. Seeking Second Childhood*

    After reading yesterday’s post about dating at work… here’s a bad thing that happened when someone broke the rule against dating people in your line of command. From today’s news: A Florida sheriff is under arrest for ordering the arrest of his mistress, and on trumped-up charges no less.
    ONE QUOTE: “[They] began their secret liaison in 2013, when he was the 48-year-old chief of Jacksonville’s jails, and she was a 21-year-old corrections officer undergoing her first week of job orientation…”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/14/sheriff-arrested-florida-jail

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Of course its Florida…
      Wonder if he is friends with the Sheriff who banned all staff and visitors from wearing masks on the job?

      1. Cassidy*

        “Of course its Florida”?

        That could happen anywhere. Honestly, generalizing is so useless.

    2. hats r us*

      OK so translation: he preyed on a much younger subordinate. No surprise that he would be willing to abuse his power in other ways.

  53. AnecData*

    I just got offered a job – but reporting to a different person than I had thought the position was reporting to. My guess is that, with the team’s expansion, they decided that it wasn’t long-term sustainable to add more reports to the “Llama Manager”. But I haven’t actually interviewed with the Senior Llama Specialist I would report to – they sat on a panel I presented some demo work for, but that was a large-ish group interview (I did several smaller group or 1:1 interviews throughout the process but never with the person I’d report to).

    I asked for a few days to think about the offer; do you think it would be okay to ask the person I would actually report to if we can have a phone call? I want to ask some of the “What’s your management style like?” questions – tbh, part of what was very attractive about this offer to me was that the Llama Manager had a lot of experience in management, and all of her reports that I talked to spoke glowingly about the team culture, about LM’s commitment to professional development, etc.

    I just don’t want it to come across as “I don’t trust your management” or anything that would undermine the rapport with my new manager, if I do accept the job – any suggestions? Gut check on whether asking for this additional phone call would read as normal, or as excessively picky?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Absolutely ask for a call. You didn’t technically interview with this person, so it’s not unreasonable that you would want to learn about their management style to make sure you’re a good fit. It does them no favors to hire you and put you with this new manager only for you to roll out in six months because you can’t stand your boss. If these are reasonable people, they’ll understand your request and make it happen.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Yes, ask to speak with the new manager. There’s been several threads over the years of people being hired thinking they will work for Wakeen, and instead they end up working for Sue. Who you report to and interact with can be a big part of a job decision.

      You’re not being picky. Alison frequently points out that we are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing us.

  54. Lemon Cake*

    I had a strange experience with a company – would love some thoughts on if this is normal, and how I can handle it if I find myself in a similar situation again.
    I received a call from a recruiter inviting me to interview for a job at his firm (I’d never heard of the firm). The role was quite different from what I’d done before and his explanation was quite vague, so I tried asking him (basic) questions to understand the job better. He said he didn’t know much about it and my interviewer would be able to explain it better. He sent me a job description, but none of the responsibilities listed in there were anything concrete – all filler stuff. I was asked to send across my resume and a brief description of my experience, along with other details, which I did.

    The next day he asked me to get on a video call. He claimed they’ve had problems with fake candidates (what does that mean? I’ve never heard of fake candidates – only fake jobs), said it’d only be a minute long and he would take a screenshot of it (which he would then share with me). I asked to do it a couple of hours later and he insisted on doing it immediately so that they could start with interviews the next day. He said he’d call back in 10 minutes to get my Skype ID for the call.

    I can’t put my finger on why, but I was really creeped out. So I withdrew my candidacy when he called back. When he asked for a reason, I didn’t want to say, “you sound like a scam to me”, so I told him I didn’t understand the job description well and I couldn’t find out much about the firm. He sounded quite annoyed and tried to explain it to me again, to which I said that I want to take my career in a different direction, but thank you for reaching out to me.

    Is this video call common practice? I don’t regret turning him down at all, but I’m trying to figure if I should be prepared for it. Any thoughts welcome, thanks for reading!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      First, congratulate yourself on listening to your spidey sense. Because that’s freaking creepy. And probably a scam.

      The video call thing is NOT a common practice. That’s not done in any industry I’ve ever heard of. Sure, video interviews with set-up emails beforehand, but not some kind of weird “I want to know you’re not fake” and taking a screenshot.

      1. Mazzy*

        Yeah I don’t get the “fake candidate” part. If you’re concerned with competitors trying to get information – you just don’t divulge sensitive stuff, like names of your biggest customers, in interviews.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I have never heard of this before. I know we’ve replaced our initial 30 minute phone screens with a 30 minute video chat instead, but that was all scheduled ahead of time, and it was a real interview – not just one minute to take a screenshot.

      I think you made the right decision.

      1. AnecData*

        Or… fake candidates have someone else do the remote interviews for them? Either way, that’s super weird & unusual. Combined with the lack of information about the company, and details of the job – I think you did the smart thing. (even if they’re not a complete scam, they’ve at least given you information that they don’t really get how hiring processes work, and are weirdly suspicious about other people!)

        1. stressed out friday today*

          Yeah, this is either a scam or a really terrible company. Neither one is a good idea.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      So, *he* reached out to *you* about this job, and then he wanted you to prove you weren’t a fake applicant? That’s one of the weirder things I’ve heard.

      I can’t say for sure that it’s a scam because I have no idea what the end-goal of a scam of this nature might be; but if it’s not a scam, it’s evidence that this recruiter and/or this company is really, really terrible at recruiting and would probably be awful to work for. I’m so glad you backed out.

    4. Newgovemployee*

      This has all the flags of a scam. The urgency, the high stakes (job interview), asking you to provide personal information… sounds like you did the right thing. I would even see if they have a Glassdoor site or something similar and mention this.

      1. hats r us*

        +1 the urgency is really suspicious.

        It seems you don’t have to do much different in the future because you did your due diligence and then decided this is sketchy!

    5. RagingADHD*

      He was probably going to try to get personal info, like getting you to show your driver’s license in the screenshot. There have been variations of chat/skype job scams going around for years. It’s usually identity theft.

    6. Allie*

      So I have heard of the fake candidate thing actually happening – after they were hired it was clear they somehow had someone else do the phone interview for them. But this still seems weird/aketchy

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

      I can’t put my finger on why, but I was really creeped out.
      I can’t flesh out exactly what the situation is, but I am as sure as I can be that this is a scam or other sketchy situation that you’ve done the right thing in avoiding.
      I’d have said “this sounds like a scam” (but then I am usually quite direct!) … “thank you for reaching out to me” is a ‘polite’ way I generally shut down scam phone calls (that are not attached to a job) though, e.g. “sorry, I don’t think this is a genuine call so I’m going to hang up on you but thanks for calling!”…

      From what you’ve said it seems to me that for ‘reasons unknown’ the caller has some amount of your personal information already (phone number and presumably name? at least) and was seeking to get a photo of you to put with the name and any other details. I don’t know what they could do with that, but I’m as sure as I can be, as I said, that it’s something sketchy.

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

        Btw, re-reading, you said you’d “never heard of the firm” — so I infer he did state some company name? Do you remember what it was? if so, it is well worth a ‘google’ (or preferred search engine) where I would bet dollars to donuts that other people are reporting similar calls from this company.

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

        Oh and also, sorry to reply to myself again but I just wanted to say –
        I can’t put my finger on why, but I was really creeped out.
        It’s valid to feel creeped out by something but not be able to come up with a “valid”/”rational” reason that you could point to, and in my experience (and many others’) it generally bodes well to listen to a feeling like this,
        I’m not going to endorse “The Gift of Fear” (although I suppose this is sort of a citation in itself and you might as well read it now) as I have ideological differences with that, but there is value in reading it.

  55. LQ*

    Looking for suggestions on thank yous with lots of limitations

    I’m in government that is absurdly busy because of COVID. We have a group of folks who have been stepping up and doing a phenomenal job, a holy shit these are the best people to work with, I am the luckiest manager, I’m so glad that there are people like this in government making this work I’m so proud phenomenal job.

    How do I do a thank you for them?
    Restrictions:
    * Government & Union
    * No extra time off (I can barely give them time off at all because of the restrictions because of the COVID thing)
    * No extra pay (except all the OT you could possibly want, those who want it are doing it and will be making a LOT more this year)
    * No foodstuffs (I usually shell out personally for treats from the local coffee shop but everyone’s wfh)

    Already doing:
    * Giving fun/engaging projects whenever I can
    * Saying thank you both individually and in group meetings, through email, and on calls

    Options: I can pitch in some money personally (though not much because I’m the only one not getting OT) but it won’t amount to much, I could shift my budget and afford about $10/person for a money thing – though I can’t give it to all of them, I could only do up to $5 something for about half the folks.

    I’m really open to some creative suggestions! Thank you!

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Send notes up the chain of command, listing everyone by name and stating what an awesome job they are doing. (For example, spouse provided patient care in the military. A number of patients wrote to the hospital commander praising them; these letters got passed down the chain until they got to spouse’s boss and then to spouse. Nice!) Maybe write a piece for your local newspaper op-ed section or a trade publication?

      1. LQ*

        The sending a note up the chain of command with everyone’s name is really good for the folks who don’t report to me. Looks like I’ll be writing stuff up this weekend!

    2. irene adler*

      If it were me, I’d like to see recognition of my ‘going above and beyond’ put into my work record. The more detailed the better.

      1. LQ*

        Into the work record is good. Especially since here that record can live with someone or if they leave and come back those can get dug back up.

        I may sit down this weekend and write something up, for internal folks I can definitely do that easy enough.
        This is a good one thank you!

        1. stressed out friday today*

          With performance appraisal season coming up, rate them the highest, so if there’s incentive pay going around, they gave their share.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Let them know that you’ll speak for them if/when they apply for the next band up position they qualify for. Maybe put it in the letter singing their praises that they are worth investing in to retain, and should be considered for training opportunities for their future career goals.

    3. Hi there*

      Can you have a thank you/morale meeting on a Friday at 4 pm that is basically fun? We did an alpaca farm tour (alpacas for real) on Zoom with my college student interns, although I don’t know how this would work with experienced professionals.

      1. LQ*

        I’ll try to see if I can’t come up with a fun optional thing that they might like to do. I only hesitate because if I send it out or suggest it, it starts to fall into the realm of forced fun. I think about half of them would have no problem declining if I said it was optional and they didn’t want to go, but some would definately hesitate still …I’m their boss’s boss’s boss in a lot of cases so I think that’s someone it’s hard to just casually have fun with.

    4. Anono-me*

      I still have a personal handwritten note from my boss that is quite a few years old. The note expresses appreciation for some specific things.

  56. NoName*

    My SO has decided to volunteer at a local hospital during COVID. He won’t be working directly with COVID patients, but obviously his likelihood of being exposed to the virus is higher now than when he only only working at home/going on grocery runs.

    Am I obliged to inform my company? If I was strictly working from home, I would not. But I’m one of a handful of people who needs to go into the office and occasionally be in close proximity with clients (we try to do our best with social distancing, but it’s far from perfect). What do you all think?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I would give my boss a heads up. That way, if you do end up being exposed and need to quarantine, your manager will already understand why.

    2. No Name Yet*

      If your SO usually worked at a hospital, do you think you would be obligated to have told your company? (Vs. that they might have knows, if you all talk about SOs regularly.) My thought would be that it would be important to tell them if he gets exposed to COVID, but not just that he’s in a hospital.

  57. cg1254*

    My favorite manager is leaving :(
    I’m getting their number and all before they leave, that’s something. But I’ll miss them. They’re the best manager I’ve ever had (out of 4 total).

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m sorry – I hate when that happens. It’s a good thing you got their number so the two of you can keep in touch. I hope their replacement is a good one.

      1. cg1254*

        thankfully they’ve recommended two candidates and they’re going to help select a replacement — someone who’s good cultural fit

  58. Mimmy*

    (I asked this very late last week so it got buried, so I’m giving it another shot today with additional info)

    Grant writers – what databases do you use to research potential funders? I recently volunteered to help a friend (who is on the board of a small nonprofit–I believe she is the Board Chair) do some grant research and writing. The only databases I’m aware of are Foundation Directory Online and GuideStar (for financial info I think), both of which were acquired by Candid, though not sure when. My friend and I really like Foundation Directory Online but it is expensive. I’m on the lookout for less expensive options.

    I know you can also be on the lookout for RFPs but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    Thanks!!

    1. MissBliss*

      This may not help you in this current world, but at my library you can access the Foundation Directory Online for free. My library is also currently offering remote access to a number of resources that usually require you to visit the branch (although I don’t know if Foundation Directory Online is one of them). That might be something to look into!

      In my experience, particularly for a smaller org, looking at other local nonprofits and regional nonprofits that do the same sort of work and seeing who supports them is just as useful as those paid directories.

    2. An Archivist*

      There are a number of public libraries that have an agreement with Candid to provide access to FDO. (Candid was formed from the merger of the Foundation Center and Guidestar.) They stopped doing the Foundation Directory in paper a couple of years ago, but if you don’t need the most recent info you can sometimes find the bound version. You can also sometimes get access through a local university’s digital subscription by using their library computers, which may or may not be possible right now. They monitor subscriptions by IP address. Candid does still employ librarians who can answer some remote questions for you. The Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy has some useful information, as does the Economic Research Institute (990 finder, has some older filings).

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Coincidentally I just learned our local community college has a personal development class in grant writing, and a workshop for specific ones. Might be worth looking into if you or your friend will be doing more of this.

  59. WhatTime*

    Hi, mostly a lurker here
    So I work a salaried 9-5 FT job
    It is WFH/remote
    I feel like over the past year I have gotten more efficient at a lot of my repetitive tasks
    And I can often get my “must do” stuff done in 36-37 hours each week, sometimes even less
    But I always have those “back burner projects” one never finishes/has low priority
    So guess my question is, how does it work, like with WFH/salaried/being responsible for own hours?
    Can I quit at 37 hours or at 4pm instead of 5pm a few times?
    Or should I be sure to get 40 hours in and spin my wheels for an hour til 5pm, knowing I won’t really get anything acc0mplished on that back-burner project (like i’ll just remember where I left off 4 months ago….)
    I’ve had no complaints about missed deadlines or not producing enough (so far anyway) from my boss or boss’s boss

    1. Mazzy*

      I would definitely err towards trying to make that last hour more impactful.

      I completely understand the whole “I spend the time refreshing my memory and then the time is up.” So you need to 1) find ways to document where you left off better, or 2) chunk time together so you can actually do the work.

      As per #1, you need to write yourself notes at such a basic level so that you can come back. Maybe include examples of what you’re solving.

      I’d err towards #2 though, do you really need to complete your 7 our routine every single day? Or can you do 6 hours on that stuff one day and 8 the next? My issue at my job anyway with treating projects as “back-burner,” is that 1) the statute of limitations to fix things might pass or 2) more commonly, the list of impacted customers will change and I need to start from scratch anyway.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. Yes. Well, If you are salaried and it is stipulated you have a 40 hour work week, then you should put in the 40 hours, even if it means working only 1-2 hours on those back-burners. (I know, we ALL have those types of projects that never seem to get done!) But I still think that it is important to show some progress on those back-burners, because they can occasionally become hot when you least expect them.

      So, I think you should have a conversation with your manager about back-burner items, and how much time you should realistically be spending on them weekly or how you should think about prioritizing them. Like, should you spend a whole afternoon or day on it and just get it done, or just keep chipping away as time allows every week, even if only giving them 1-2 hours.

    3. Emilitron*

      Part of being salaried is not having to break your time up into 5 days of 8 hours each. So yes, if you’ve run out of standard work tasks after putting in 7 hour of work, it’s fine to call it quits for today. But another part of being salaried is to be responsible for putting in the time expected of you. So if those standard work tasks add up to 37 hours a week, then yes, you should take on some back-burner stuff. You’re absolutely right that trying to spin up 45 minutes of a long-term task isn’t productive, but that doesn’t mean you never have to do it – choose a day you’re going to really tackle it, and spend 4 hours working on that backburner task. Maybe you quit early a couple of other days that week and work late on backburner day (your days are 7,7,10,8,8 instead of 5 8s), maybe you shuffle some standard tasks around to make space for it – but it’s important to give your employer the 40 hours they expect.
      I do get that you’re already giving them all the progress they expect from 40hrs, done in only 37 – congrats on that! It’s not unreasonable to reward yourself for a job well done by having a couple of short weeks, but once it becomes standard it’s time to start filling the time with new work. If you were int he office, your managers would probably notice you had time on your hands; part of hte responsibility of working from home is to use your time as well as you would in person

  60. Ann O'Nemity*

    One of my coworkers speaks extremely slowly. She is literally the s l o w e s t speaker I’ve ever heard. I find myself tuning her out or interrupting her in meetings, and others do the same. I do think it’s bad enough that it may be a professional road block for her, and she’s early in her career. I’ve thought about mentioning it to her, and suggesting she look into exercises to speed up her speaking. What do you think, too much of an overstep into unsolicited advice?

    1. merp*

      Given that there could be reasons for this that would be personal or private, I think I would steer clear of this. The tuning out and interrupting is (sorry) rude and more in your control than the way she talks. Unless she literally says aloud that she was always told she talked too fast and fixed it with this, then maybe?

    2. WellRed*

      I feel your pain! At my doctor’s office, one of the PAs moves so slow, I’m surprised she doesn’t fall over (think, slooooowwwwly picking up the blood pressure cuff, slooooowwwwly putting it in). I hate it when I get her.

    3. Sylvan*

      Probably an overstep. She’s an adult, she knows how to talk and she knows professional help is out there if she wants to change it. The way she talks sounds irritating, though. I feel you.

    4. stressed out friday today*

      First bit of advice is stop interrupting her.

      Second one is convert as many meetings as possible to emails.

    5. Littorally*

      2 factors make it an overstep: you are a peer, not a supervisor, and she has not asked for feedback. If you were her supervisor, you’d have standing to pull her aside and discuss it unsolicited, and obviously if she asked for feedback you could give it. But as it is, leave it alone and focus on your own ability to stay tuned in.

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m a bit disappointed, but unsurprised at the advice. Disappointed because it really is frustrating to listen to someone speak this slowly. Think of the DMV sloth in Zootopia, but with an excellent vocabulary. Sometime the pauses are so long that I’m sure she’s finished speaking… but no.

      If she was a really fast speaker, I could probably get away with saying, “Please slow down, I’ve having difficulty following you.” Even though the same is true in this situation – I do have trouble following her – it doesn’t sound like there’s much to be done. And if this holds back her career, I hope someone mentions the issue to her.

      1. Zweisatz*

        You’re assuming she doesn’t know, but I wouldn’t bet on that. I know myself that I speak really fast and people have trouble following me. I don’t need to be told.

        And I agree with others that it could be a medical condition like results of a stroke really young or a myriad other reasons. For all you know she is in speech therapy right now.

        The only two things I can come up with for work: if she is additionally long-winded (even if she talked at a normal speed) you can ask for concise answers if you’re directing the meeting. like “in two sentences, can you tell me…” Second, you could bring it up to her manager, but please be kind and don’t frame it as “it’s impossible to work with her” and more like “she has valuable contributions/does good work, but this might hold her back professionally. I wanted to bring it to your attention in case this is something you wanted to coach her on”. But at this point it is out of your hands.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      You are describing my dad. It did hold him back, badly. Especially because he thought he was giving thoughtful responses. He had no idea he was irritating the heck out of others.

      I wish someone he respected had given him a hint (maybe they did?) and I applaud your interest in helping her. But unless she asks, I think the others are right, you cannot step in. But have a plan in place if she does ask?

  61. Not A Manager*

    A while ago, one of the open threads had a question about “what do you wish you’d known starting your first job.” I’ve tried to search but can’t find it. If anyone has that link I would appreciate it very much, and also if people want to post here.

    My college grad has gotten a job (salaried! with benefits!) and I’d love to steer him to some pointers.

    Thanks very much!

    1. irene adler*

      No one tells you what the proper career moves are in the industry you are working in. So find out.
      Learn what is needed to move up. Don’t just sit on your laurels, so to speak.

    2. midnightcat*

      Starting a job is like crossing the road – stop, look and listen!

      Take notes. Including on people’s names and things they’ve told you. Ask questions and write down the answers.

      Do not tell people how you think they should be doing their jobs / projects, especially if your ‘insight’ is based on something from a college class.

    3. Workerbee*

      Don’t come in trying to change processes or be all “But why don’t you do X?” when you’re not even done with your first week. You’ll just get people’s backs up, rightly or wrongly. Realize that you don’t yet have enough information or insight just yet to declare what you think of as an informed decision.

      (As I remember a particularly belligerent new salesperson demanding certain resources and process changes in his first couple days when he was still in the meet & greet phase with key stakeholders.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Slight corollary — asking why they do things the way they do can be a learning opportunity, but do make it clear you’re asking to understand …not in order to object.
        Asking what is done with the work you produce can be useful.

  62. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    More good news!

    Although my company (or more specifically, our parent company) is under a hiring freeze due to Covid, we’ve gotten special permission to hire for one of the two open roles on my team, so long as we were hiring at a junior level. (We were trying to fill these roles before the freeze, and at that time we were looking at all levels.)

    Well, we found a good candidate, and he accepted our offer! The candidate, my boss, and HR are still finalizing the details of his official start date, but it will probably be by the beginning of September at the latest.

    All that said, does anyone have any advice on onboarding a new hire when everyone is fully remote? We always worked in the office before, so this is a new experience for us.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We were remote pre-Covid, and our big things for onboarding are to make sure they know when their trainers/management are available (our team has literally 24/7 flex time outside of training, but we keep onboarders/trainees to 6a-6p because that’s the hours that at least one of us is working and available to answer questions), make sure they’re comfortable with our messaging and screen sharing programs, and we pair them with at least one “peer mentor,” usually two, so they can start fostering relationships with other team members. This is pretty low key for everyone involved but it does give the “peer mentors” an accomplishment they can mention in their annual reviews and on their resumes. It’s a volunteer duty that usually lasts about 3 months formally – the mentors have to volunteer for the next round of new hires, and they also have to be meeting certain metrics on job performance to qualify.

  63. LDN Layabout*

    Question for those with Big 4/similar consultancy experience. If there’s a contract with a public sector body, are those given less priority or similar priority to private sector contracts?

    (Context is we’re working with one now and I’m starting to believe they put the most incompetent on this project…)

    1. Jenny*

      I’ve been at a big 4 for my entire career. We have separate commercial / public sector practices and people don’t usually move between the two. We definitely don’t put lower quality people in our public sector – not sure where you’d deduce that after one experience, it sounds like you just got a bad team unfortunately. My guess is the rates are low and it’s hard to staff with experienced resources.

  64. HC Help*

    I have been tasked with writing a policy that cuts back on staff contacting leadership (most are exempt, some are hourly) after-hours and weekends. I have zero HR or management experience – any advice or verbiage you could offer?

    I work in healthcare, so there are urgent situations that come up, but our managers are low-level and really only need to be contacted in the event of, like, the building burning down. Our supervisors deal with technical issues, so there are instances where they might need to be contacted, but we are in an extremely procedure-driven area, so staff should have almost any resource they need to trouble-shoot a technical problem off-shift.

    For example, one of the managers routinely receives texts at 3 am stating that someone called in but they found coverage. That can certainly be emailed for her to read the next morning. This manager has also been told by staff that she is expected to be available 24/7 since she is a leader (nope). A supervisor gets calls in the middle of the night regarding procedure questions that can be answered by utilizing existing documents, or medically could even wait until the day shift comes in.

    I am trying to come up with a document that helps with our leaders’ work-life balance and establishes boundaries*, but the feedback I’ve gotten so far is that it “seems harsh.” Any advice/encouragement/examples you could offer?

    *Also included boundaries the other way, that our (hourly) front-line staff should not be contacted when they are clocked out except for scheduling/coverage questions or patient care questions that cannot wait until they are back at work. This is currently the practice anyway of course, I’m just enshrining it in policy.

    1. stressed out friday today*

      This manager has also been told by staff that she is expected to be available 24/7 since she is a leader (nope). A supervisor gets calls in the middle of the night regarding procedure questions that can be answered by utilizing existing documents, or medically could even wait until the day shift comes in.

      I’m confused, is the excessive contacting going-up or going-down the chain? If staff are contacting their managers at weird hours, the managers can say “please hold that for work hours”.

      1. HC Help*

        The excessive contact is going up the chain. Staff are hourly, leaders are (almost all) exempt so there’s an attitude that they should be available all day, every day since they are salaried. Leaders have tried that approach. We’re in a very heavily regulated field so if it’s not in a policy, staff don’t feel like they have to do it (we’re in a Just Culture company too). I’m writing a policy that establishes the boundaries, and also gives instructions on the other resources they can use after-hours/weekends. Numerous google searches haven’t yielded any examples so I’m just kinda flying blind here.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Can you feasibly limit who’s allowed to contact management off-hours? Like, only the (senior tech or whoever’s officially in charge on the off-shifts) is allowed to contact management outside of (hours) unless the building is literally on fire. Schedule changes should be emailed, procedural questions should be reviewed in appropriate documentation or asked of on-site staff, if the llama hoof buffer is throwing an ID10T error call Fergus, detail other specifics as appropriate.

      Then you detail with the seniors what is okay to contact the managers for, and otherwise that y’all trust them to handle situations appropriately using the resources available to them. (Assuming that’s true, of course. And if it’s not, that’s a different can of worms.) Anybody who’s not a senior violating the policy after that, it’s a disciplinary issue.

      1. HC Help*

        So we don’t have enough charges at all of our sites for that to really work (plus one of the charges is who told her manager she needs to be available at all times). However, the rest of it is essentially what I’m trying to get put together. Once it’s a policy leadership will be able to hold staff accountable when it’s violated.

        Thanks for your input, it’s good to know we’re not being draconian by trying to establish some boundaries. Some of our leaders are really starting to suffer, unfortunately.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Ugh. Definitely not draconian, especially when your seniors are the ones behaving poorly. (Seriously, I can’t imagine telling my boss she had to be available to me 24/7. That’s bizarre.)

          What is the actual expectation of the managers, as far as after-hours contact? Like, what do THEIR higher-ups actually expect from them as far as availability? Codify that into the policy too, maybe? a la, “Managers should only be contacted (outside of work hours, after 9pm, whatever) with legitimate emergencies as stated in this policy and are not required to be available for non-emergent situations.” That wording is dodgy, but.

          1. HC Help*

            Right?! Like, they don’t make THAT much money. And even the MD’s we reach out to for assistance have an on-call rotation so the people making the big buck$$$ aren’t even expected to be available 24/7.

            I don’t *think* higher-ups contacting downwards has been an issue. Other than COVID-prep, emergent situations and recalls and things like that, there seems to be reasonable expectations of leaders in their off-hours from higher up in the organization. We did get permission from our director to write the policy so we have his support.

    3. Ready to Be Done*

      Speaking as an hourly employee who very much values my personal time, I never consider contacting my boss outside my personal work hours (8-4 typically) even if I know she’s working because I want to respect boundaries, unless it’s a true emergency. But maybe in your case, that’s part of the work culture for some reason and you might expect some pushback at first as employees get used to the change. I think just emphasizing the difference between an emergency and other issues that can be dealt with during a manager’s shift might be helpful.

      1. HC Help*

        I think it’s definitely a culture change. And I also think boundaries can feel harsh if they’ve never existed before. I don’t feel like the policy is harsh, but I also won’t be in charge of rolling it out or following up with staff who violate.

        Thank you!!

    4. WFHGal*

      I don’t have a policy-writing background, but maybe you could outline when a supervisor should be contacted immediately and provide other appropriate contacts for other situations. For example, contact Employee Health directly about injuries.

      Outside of the policy, could the manager just have a conversation with the staff and say that they prefer email and not to contact their cell phone unless there’s an extreme emergency?

      1. HC Help*

        Oooh! I didn’t have employee health, that’s a good one. Thanks! I have a list of resources with tips and the expectation that they be utilized first, and only then may you contact leader if it is time-sensitive or emergent.

        Leaders have tried just having the conversation, but we are so good at following policies and procedures in my field that staff would just ask “where’s the policy saying I can’t do that?” Ugh.

    5. Black Horse Dancing*

      You do have managers there on the night shift, yes? I mean, the leaders aren’t all 8-5 M-F and then ‘Off duty, have fun, peons!’ Correct? Have several managers/supervisors on night shift and let them field the questions.

      1. HC Help*

        No, no managers or supervisors on off-shifts, and that won’t happen due to financial constraints. And the few charges we have are actually part of the problem.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          As a bit of a peon, I have learned safety lies in contacting a manager for everything (ie, you don’t get yelled at for passing the buck up). I’d be pretty unhappy that there is effectively no one in charge and that I had to make my own decisions (of course, I’m quite capable of making those decisions, just not of reading the minds of the managers about which way to handle some things and when to contact them and when not to).

          Is it possible to assign someone as the point person on each evening/weekend shift who decides whether to call the manager?

          We have a written procedure about when to call our 1 IT person after hours. It is about half a page and basically says call when whole systems have a problem, not when an individual thing has a problem. And here are examples of when to call and when not to call. It helped a lot.

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          Yeah, that’s wrong on so many levels. You are dumping the work on your lowest people and I bet they’ll be held responsible if anything goes wrong. Frankly, you need some supervisors on the night shift or they should suck up being called. Or you write a policy absolving your night shift of responsibility because frankly, they’re not supervisors and you are giving them manager duties/decisions without the pay.

          1. HC Help*

            We have procedures for basically everything. Nobody gets in trouble unless they willingly do not follow them. This set-up is very common in my field. None of the leaders are complaining about getting legitimate calls after-hours, which is going to happen occasionally. And our policy will certainly make that clear.

            It’s the calls that can wait for the next business day, or when people bypass any policies/procedures/help desk/technical support/other locations in our region that are open/etc and instead think it’s appropriate to immediately call leadership at 3 am to ask a question that we’re trying to get a handle on.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think you are looking for procedures rather than a policy.
      These are guidelines that tell people what to do for a given circumstance. You have it half written here.

      Procedure for calling people at home during non-working hours.

      We have laid out new procedures for when and when not to call off-duty employees/managers. We feel that it is important that everyone be compensated accurately and fairly for their time. This means we need to work as group to make sure no one is working “off the clock”. For salaried employees this means we need to make sure that we only call for reasons that are [highly urgent, dire, etc] and no one who is working is able to answer that question.

      Front-line staff should not be contacted when they are clocked out except for scheduling/coverage questions or patient care questions that cannot wait until they are back at work.

      Changes in coverage must be emailed (NOT texted) to off duty managers.

      A supervisor should not be called in the middle of the night regarding procedure questions that can be answered by utilizing existing documents, or medically could even wait until the day shift comes in. Instead, consult relevant documents, ascertain if the problem could be corrected in the morning OR contact [shift lead?] who is on duty.

      I have to say, if you are going to do this, then you need to make sure people feel confident in their jobs. This might mean more training or establishing communication books where they leave notes for each other and so on.
      As you write these procedures out, every time you say what NOT to do make sure to include what they should do instead.
      Bonus points for giving the new procedures a trial period where everyone can have inputs as to what is working and what is not working. If you give it a trial period be sure to state this also in the handout.
      Remember to state the reason WHY these procedures are necessary at the top of the page.

  65. The New Wanderer*

    Pandemic success story: I just read an article yesterday by the CEO of a local company, explaining how the current pandemic situation has completely changed the company’s outlook on working from home. Previously they were all about being present in the office for “collaboration” and keeping set hours for everyone (no flexibility in general). The CEO admitted that it was making it harder to recruit new employees (see below) but they were totally committed to having an in-person working experience. But then they saw that they had, if anything, more productivity during the months that everyone’s been working from home and so now they’re making a permanent change.

    So I put collaboration in quotes because a few years ago I did a phone screen with them and the team I would primarily have been working with was distributed across several other states and countries. But because of their policy on no WFH, I would have been expected to report in person every single day to … sit on telecons? It made no sense to me so I withdrew for that reason, coupled with the fact that they offered no flexibility on working hours meant the commute to their local office would have been the Worst. Hopefully they will start to attract new employees now that they’ve updated their stance on WFH.

    1. CatCat*

      Man, I wish my org would update their stance. When will we return to the office? Unknown. Will permanent WFH be a thing? Hell no. Will they allow at least 2-3 days per week WFH? Unknown.

      I hated WFH at first, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I am liking it more. If it were a permanent thing, I’d move outside the city because while there’s a lot I have enjoyed about living in the city, my neighborhood is just getting worse and worse, and I’d like some more space and a place with a proper home office. But I hate commuting so much that I wouldn’t move unless I could WFH. (My car commute is like 15 mins right now and I can even bike it in about 40-45 mins on nice days.)

  66. Aurora Leigh*

    Curious about the logistics of announcing pregnancy at work during COVID. This doesn’t apply to me yet, but it may soon.

    We’ve all been back in the office since May 1. My job (at least 95%) could be done from home, but my company didn’t want the headache of setting that up and so cobbled together something for the supervisor to cover our dept during shutdown and payed the rest of us to stay home. I know one person in my dept has pretty bad asthma and they haven’t offered her any accommodations, but she hasn’t asked either.

    Originally I didn’t think I would tell my boss about a pregnancy until after the 3 month mark, but I wonder if I should say something sooner and push for WFH? We are masked and distanced at work except when eating in the breakroom or when at our desks, per state regulations.

    My supervisor (female) didn’t take it well the last time a coworker announced her pregnancy — lots of pressure for her to come back before her full FMLA leave was used up. That coworker did not return to work here and my supervisor has complained that she did the company wrong.

    What would you do?

    1. WellRed*

      Tough one! I wonder if you have HR and if they are any good? You could ask them if they would be able to accommodate WFH in the event an employee was pregnant? You could also mention your fear of being pressured/retaliation to come back early from FMLA based on your coworker’s experience. The supervisor shouldn’t have even been contacting an employee out on FMLA.

  67. Pocket Mouse*

    Have you ever taken a position that was supervised by a friend of yours? How did it go?

    I’ve become friends with someone on a team I work closely with. We’ve hung out one on one outside of work, text frequently, talk about some personal stuff, etc., and she’s the person I’m closest to at work (she’s actually one of the people I feel closest to in my city). She’s now the hiring manager for a position that would be a very good move for my career. I would like, but don’t need, to change jobs, and if I do take a new job it would absolutely be with the same employer, meaning my current options are somewhat limited.

    I know Alison’s says to managers in this situation that you can’t be friends with a direct report, and I fully understand the concerns. On the other hand, I’ve worked with a handful of pairs who maintain a friendship while having a work arrangement like this, and the ones I’ve seen do seem to handle having both professional and personal relationships (largely) well- both those who were friends before the reporting relationship, and those who became friends during.

    My questions for those of you who have been friends with your supervisor or direct report: Were you friends going into it? Are you a person who easily navigates complex relationships? Did you (or the other person) set any boundaries, and did you talk about them with together? How did it go for you? If you no longer have the reporting relationship, are you still friends now?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Don’t do it. Too many pitfalls whether it goes well or poorly. If it goes well, you are seen as a “favorite” and whether your “deserve” whatever you’re getting (raises, projects, etc.) will be questioned, and if it goes “badly” well, then you’ve lost a friend and made your professional life more stressful than it needs to be. And who you think your friend is now, may not be her management style. I’ve known several people that I thought were great people (only knew them as friends) but they were apparently borderline tyrant managers.

      My own history…I was peers with an old supervisor. She took the manager job and became my manager. We learned that we are much better friends than manager/subordinate. We both did our best to keep work disagreements at work, but there were definitely tense times when we worked together. She later moved to another location and we have remained friends. But there were times when she literally made me cry (she never knew that, but she did). We worked together for over 5 years before she changed locations. It was rough. Also, because she was my supervisor, she thought it was okay to call me during my off hours (I wasn’t salary) to discuss work stuff and keep me on the phone for an hour or more at a time. I tried to set boundaries with my friend, unsuccessfully, on many occasions. She’d agree to them and then violate them. I value her friendship and she’s a great person, but we just don’t vibe in terms of work.

      I have also befriended subordinates. Also, do not recommend. I can tell you that, despite my best efforts to not show favoritism, it still happened, even if not in our interactions, but in scheduling, allowing for days off on short notice, covering shifts (this was retail) etc. No one ever complained about it, but I still did it and I shouldn’t have. But we’re human and we all have people we like better than others. And yes, I am still friends with my old subordinates as well.

      If there is any way for you to advance your career without being supervised by your friend, I’d highly recommend you avoid it. The pitfalls far outweigh the potential benefits in my opinion.

      1. E.*

        I did it. I was friends with the guy who hired my manager.

        We made it work, primarily for three reasons:
        1) We discussed it heavily beforehand. What was his style as a manager? What was mine as an employee? Were those compatible? What would happen if we disagreed, if he had to critique me? Etc.
        2) We were very clear about setting boundaries between work and friendship. We got very good about saying to each other: “I’m asking as your friend, not your boss” or “As your employee, not your friend, I’d like to discuss…”
        3) We had each others’ backs. His attitude as the boss was “the buck stops with me,” and he didn’t let the shit roll down hill. My attitude as the employee was that I should do my best work and do as much as possible to support him.

        It worked for us, but it wasn’t easy.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Thank you for the specifics! This is helpful, especially since I was thinking along the same lines. Did you do anything around avoiding the appearance of professional or social favoritism?

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Former Retail Manager- thank you for your thoughts! I’m curious about two things.

        The first is that you say you’re still friends with the former supervisor and with the former direct reports- does this mean the aspects/events you advise avoiding lie primarily or wholly within the professional realm?

        The second is that I think my situation is substantially different from yours. My friend and I already maintain a solid separation between work and friendship, with each of us enforcing the separation at various times by saying “You’re not at work, stop answering work questions” and the like. In our workplace, we have standard schedules, coverage is not an issue, and projects would be divvied in a way that’s not conducive to favoritism (imagine a Venn diagram of our specialties where the circles overlap a little, but not much). The friend pair I worked with most closely was in this workplace, and the favoritism I saw was social- going to lunch together often, light teasing, and slightly above average frequency of non-work conversations. In light of this, would your take shift from ‘highly recommend avoiding’/‘pitfalls far outweigh the benefits’ to ‘generally recommend’/‘pitfalls probably outweigh’?

    2. Anonymity is bliss*

      I would not risk it. I had front row seat at the implosion of a years-long friendship. One took the supervisory position and tried so hard to avoid playing favorites that they were over-critical and wrote up the friend for things that others in the group got away with.
      It went from “invite them & kids to live in our home while divorce is happening” to “never want to see them again.”

  68. Tech Writer*

    I’ve been a government contractor for almost three years now, and had some mild success applying for federal positions. I’ve used the language in the job description, checked off the correct boxes for the questionnaires, used the resume builder when filling out the applications, and the furthest I’ve gotten was “referred” or “reviewed”. I’ve applied for jobs I’m qualified for, but heard nothing after “referred” or “reviewed”.

    Is there any way to make myself more competitive when filling out the applications?

    1. Colette*

      I have no experience with federal jobs in the US, but can you ask some of the people you work with for advice? (I’m assuming you’re a contractor working with federal employees.)

      1. Tech Writer*

        Hi Colette,

        Yes, I’m a contractor working with federal employees. I’ve taken their advice and done everything to make myself more competitive, but it doesn’t help that I’m usually competing with veterans and other special hiring authorities, and the government in general doesn’t like to hire people for writing and editing services.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      This depends on the grade you are seeking, and if you are already working in the agency you are applying to. At the higher grades, GS-14 and particularly GS-15, agencies like to promote from within unless an outside candidate is really stellar. There are fewer positions as you move up the ladder, and it is a lot easier to hire someone you already know is a solid performer who doesn’t need a lot of training to do the job. (And if a security clearance is in the mix, someone who already has one.)

      If you are being referred, you are managing the application process correctly. But if you aren’t getting an interview, odds are you are being beaten by an internal candidate. (Generally if a hiring manager interviews one person on the cert, they are expected to interview them all. If there are no interviews one can infer they selected someone they already know.)

      One of the biggest challenges in converting from contractor to direct hire is salary. Many of our contractors make higher wages than the officers they work with, though the feds have better benefits. So you might want to seek a lower grade; if selected seek a higher step to make up the pay discrepancy.

      Good luck.

      1. Tech Writer*

        I’m generally looking at the lower grades – GS-7, 9, and possibly 11 since I have the two years experience, and using that instead of education. The agency I’m currently at really likes to promote from within – that’s how a friend of mine actually got the job: the economist left and she had been working for them as a contractor, had the security clearance, and didn’t need that much training.

        I didn’t realize that about the salary – since I was looking at the GS- 7, 9, 11, the salary would be about equivalent to what the contractors make.

        1. Policy wonk*

          The only advice I have then is keep putting in applications, as you are being referred. If you are a veteran, be sure to include that info as it helps – many agencies encourage the hiring of veterans. At the grades you are talking about, there tend to be a lot of candidates, so if you already know the hiring manager, make sure they know you applied so they can look for your application.

          1. Tech Writer*

            I see. I’m not a veteran but I figured that it would be the case – a lot of candidates, especially for the lower grades.

            If you don’t know the hiring manager, would you encourage reaching out to them so they can look for my application or leave it to HR?

    3. Anon Fed*

      This is what happened to me the first time I applied for a fed position. They never actually interviewed me and I never had a firm job offer, but they did have me come in to be finger-printed and they had my picture taken for a federal I.D. Then nothing. I did get a “thank you for applying” email six months later. In spite of the shabby treatment I reapplied for a similar position about a year later and that time I was hired.

      I think that the first time I applied, I must have been qualified, but that there were other candidates who were more qualified and who actually accepted the position. (I kind of think I was the backup candidate who they’d hire if the more qualified ones didn’t accept the offer.) Keep applying.

      1. Tech Writer*

        I never got to the fingerprint or interview stage; the most was “Reviewed” or “referred”. I did apply for a job once at a different agency doing the exact same thing I’m doing now – the only difference is that it was fed instead of contractor, and I had a friend help me with the application. I had used the terminology from the job description, posted all of my documents, etc.

        Does HR/hiring authorities look over each document that’s submitted? Or do they look only at the resume and nothing else?

  69. Anon for this*

    So a handful of you replied to my question last week about an unexpected group meeting with my boss four or five levels up. It, of course, turned out to be nothing, and he even apologized because he knew he had worried people.

    I also want to say thank you to the commenters (and Alison), because a couple of my teammates are really angry that another teammate and I have medical exemptions to WFH during COVID, me partial and her total. I used language that I learned from AAM (here’s my issue, here’s what I’m doing, is there anything you’d like me to do differently) to talk to my supervisor. She immediately reassured me that I was doing just fine, offered some more options to fill my WFH days, and told that my teammates had been told, essentially, to let it go and mind their own business.

    1. WellRed*

      Hmm, are you the person who had to go in on a Wednesday, when you normally wouldn’t be there?

  70. dealing with dragons*

    I have a legal/how would you approach question. Indiana, United States.

    For June and July my husband was working at 80% salary. In May they were told specifically it was only June and July. This week, they were told it would be August too. I know this is illegal, but the situation is dicey. He works in a company consisting of his boss, his boss’s wife on occasion, and three other people (one of whom is his sibling). It is extra dicey because I am <3 weeks from maternity leave where I'll be down to 65% pay on my own for 6 weeks. We don't think it's feasible for him to make a wage claim (also his boss has not said anything about it since making the announcement and my husband calling him out on it). This is further complicated by the fact that I'm not sure his boss remembers he needs to take a few weeks off in the next little bit for the baby, so my husband feels a bit awkward reminding him of that.

    He ideally would like a new job but that's not really in the cards with a newborn on the way. He was going to start looking more once we're out of the fresh new baby stage ™.

    1. new kid*

      They can’t retroactively lower your pay so if your husband has something in writing saying he would be back to his old salary starting Aug 1 and Aug 10 they said ‘just kidding’ then it sounds like he would have a claim for those 10 days, but I don’t think it’s illegal beyond whatever the retroactive timeframe is. An employer can change your pay moving forward at will I believe, even though that’s super shitty. :(

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I should have said so, but he’s paid monthly on the first of the next month. He has in writing that the pay cut is only June and July, and so on Aug 11 he was told that the whole month would also be at 80%. So his September 1 paycheck, which covers all of August, is 80% pay. From what I understand the legal (and ethical) way would have been to say something by July 31 that August would also be 80%, or to let them know that moving forward all months would be 80% unless otherwise stated.

        I’m not really looking for a “how to sue my husband’s EVIL boss” answer but more how to navigate having a valid wage claim for such a small company.

        1. pancakes*

          Suing someone doesn’t require thinking of them as evil. If they’re not complying with a legal obligation and can’t be persuaded to do so, small claims court may be your best hope to recover the wages they promised to pay him. I’m not sure what you mean when you say your husband “called him out on it.” What did he say and what was the boss’s response?

          1. dealing with dragons*

            in slack he asked what was going on with it (I don’t totally have the whole context there) and his boss hasn’t responded to it at all yet. So we’re not even sure if it’s still happening or if it will be prorated to be legal. That’s kind of why I’m not sure what he or we could really do right now? It’s still at the interpersonal level in my opinion.

            1. pancakes*

              Ah, got it. That is tricky. I don’t think you can do anything until he’s responded, other than maybe try to get a sense of how the other workers feel about it. If the boss continues to not respond, it would be stronger to approach him as a group, even if only a very small group.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A pay cut is not illegal, nor is an extension of a pay cut. Pay can be changed at any time, just not retroactively. Unless you’ve left out that your husband is in a union. He can approach his boss about how much longer the pay cut will be in effect, but at this stage it’s really a month-by-month thing in most industries and I don’t think a lot of people can give a concrete answer to that question.

      I’m working at 85% pay and have been since April. It stinks, and I’m job-searching, but that’s my only recourse. I can submit a claim to unemployment and see if I can get some additional pay, but in my case it’s very complicated because I’m working in a different state so I just haven’t continued to bother. But that’s really all you can do.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        The cut is retroactive – I should have mentioned it but he’s paid monthly. So his September 1 paycheck will be 80% of his pay. He has a message saying that the original pay cut is June and July only. Then, on August 11 he has a message saying ALL of August will be cut as well. Legally, as far as I’m aware, the boss should have said by July 31 that August would be cut. He’s been working the past two weeks with the assumption August was back to 100%.

        My pay was also cut earlier in the year, but I work in a huge corporation with a legal department. So it was always “these pay checks are getting cut, we’ll let you know if it’s continuing before then” type things.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Perhaps approach it with feigned confusion? “Fergus, I was reading your 8/10 email about August salaries being cut 20%. You mean they will be cut 20% from Aug 11-31, right? I’m sure we want to stay compliant with state laws, and can’t retroactively reduce salaries.”

    4. valentine*

      Hubs should schedule a separate meeting to discuss parental leave, especially if it’s unpaid, and ramp up the job search now. You want to end the insecurity ASAP.

    5. Up Too Late*

      I am sorry to say that I don’t think your husband’s company has done anything illegal. Your husband’s pay has been cut. His company is allowed to do that. If he has an email or something in writing that states that his pay will permanently go back to what it had been beginning in August, then he might have a case.

      My bet is that as soon as the revenue is back to normal, the company will restore your husband’s pay. Until then, he will have to accept reduced pay. Or, I suppose he could search for another job.

      I’m truly sorry. I will also be working for reduced pay moving forward.

      1. Up Too Late*

        Oops — so sorry for not refreshing my screen. If your husband does indeed have something in writing that guarantees a full wage for August, then I think you might have a case. Perhaps speak to an employment lawyer about collecting past wages??

  71. Stressed First Time Manager*

    Advice needed on delegating projects/tasks and being a first time manager.

    I’m so sorry for the long post–this is all a whole situation right now and I can’t tell what’s important or key here:

    I’m a couple months into my first official manager job (yay!), and I’m having some problems that I need a fresh pair of eyes on. I work in a deadline-driven department, doing, let’s say, full service llama care. The department consists of me, and three employees–one professional staff member (Jane) who is extremely part-time, and two interns (both also extremely part-time and with mostly unpredictable schedules). Jane worked under the previous manager of the department for several years and felt unappreciated and worn down by unfair expectations. She was delighted when the old manager left and I was promoted.

    Before I started managing the department, it was only focusing on llama grooming. But what the organization really needs is full service llama care–checking the llama’s health, planning a healthy diet, grooming, breeding, etc. The whole package. Since we are full service, and not just grooming, we have had to make new processes and there are greater expectations on my employees about being able to contribute to projects that are less niche. Jane is overwhelmed by the new expectations, and really just wants to focus on grooming and teach the interns how to groom. This creates a problem, because right now grooming is only maybe 30% of our work.

    We have more work than I could possibly do alone, especially because our work has been increased by COVID things, and I’m trying to figure out how to delegate tasks and projects in a way that (1) helps reduce my workload and (2) keeps momentum despite part-time schedules that rarely align.

    Recently, I tried to delegate a couple low-stakes, small-scale projects to Jane, as project lead, and the students for full service care. I designed a new process, introduced them to it, and created templates to guide the work, since this is a new frontier for them. I found that I had to repeatedly explain the process to Jane, despite creating a flow chart, and multiple clarifying emails. I often felt like I was saying the same thing over and over, convinced that we had come to an understanding and we hadn’t. We have a task management platform, and I added the major steps for the project in the platform, but she really needed the tasks spelled out for her in minute detail, which creates a lot of additional work for me. And the interns are confused because Jane is project lead and she is confused. So I have to repeatedly re-clarify things during our weekly meetings.

    Although the clients brought us their llamas for the projects weeks ago, due to the confusion and irregular schedules, we’re quickly approaching the deadline and I’m going to have to intervene to do some of the work to make sure the project is completed.

    Any advice about how to make it easier to delegate?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It … kinda sounds like the job has changed from where it has been and that Jane can’t hack the new job. Your starting point is probably a sit-down with her to formally lay out the new expectations, and it’s going to have to include that this is not negotiable, these ARE the expectations of the job as it stands now, and that she will be held to those expectations, and can she work with that?

      1. Stressed First Time Manager*

        Yeah, thanks, I think this is part of it. We updated her job description and she was on board, so I think it would be a good idea to go back to it to review what we decided to make sure if maybe my expectations are off-base.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      It sounds like the issue here is that there was a decision to change what the group was doing (for excellent reasons, and I assume that this is what the group should have been doing all along), but the decision to change the group focus was made without taking a good hard look at whether the staffing and expertise of the group can actually support the new tasks. It might be time to step back and look at the skill set and coverage of the staff, then look at what needs to get done, and if the two don’t align either make staffing changes or change expectations about what work is going to get done. If the new work can get done with the current staffing but the problem is that people don’t want to (or don’t have the skill set to) take on the new tasks, then it might be time for a difficult “this is what the job is now and if you can’t or don’t want to do it, it might be time to part ways” conversation.

      1. Stressed First Time Manager*

        Yes, you’re right! This is great advice. The group wasn’t prepared for this work at all. We’re under a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future (thanks, COVID!), so it might be a good time to have an honest conversation with MY superior about what my department is currently capable of / skill sets. The interns are on board with the new stuff, and are eager to learn, but they’re severely limited by their schedules and there’s not much I can do with that. It’s a real conundrum because interns are super critical to our organization, but also they don’t have the skills they need to be as helpful as I need them to be. I’d LOVE to be able to play to everyone’s strengths, but I’m struggling to find the time to handle 80%+ of the workload, plus manage projects and tasks, plus provide mentorship/professional development guidance. It’s a bit much!

        1. midnightcat*

          Also, you have really need to involve people in creating new processes – not just dictate them.

          Ideally you would have asked Jane what did and didn’t work about your previous / existing processes, got her input on the new ones and maybe had her design some.

          1. Stressed First Time Manager*

            Yes, I agree! We’ve had conversations in the past about processes and what worked/didn’t, and we’ve been making changes based on feedback from everyone, so I think we’re on the right track–but it feels like we get into the trap where:
            Old process is unsatisfying and causes problems and we hate it –> Freak out because new process is new and scary –> Modify new process to be more like old process –> Have same problems
            I guess not that old process was 100% trash, so maybe I have to look harder at what is salvageable from old process.

            1. LadyByTheLake*

              Honestly, Stressed, it sounds like you are doing a pretty good job. You’ve been put into an untenable position and you are making the most of it. I love your characterization of “we hate the old way but the new way is scary.” OMG — so true!

              1. Stressed First Time Manager*

                Thank you!! I needed to hear the encouragement, especially today! It’s been rough.

            2. midnightcat*

              That’s not quite what I meant actually – although it’s a start. I was suggesting actually giving Jane some ownership over creating the new processes.

              1. Stressed First Time Manager*

                Oh, I see! That’s a good tip. I think I’ll try to find a way to do that. That’s a good way to get buy-in early.

                1. Black Horse Dancing*

                  Also, since you are increasing the workload and changing it, up the pay. From what you’re writing this is a considerable change, so make the pay increase considerable as well. You want excellent work? Pay for it.

    3. valentine*

      Any advice about how to make it easier to delegate?
      Hire people who can do what you need them to do, when you need them to do it. The interns don’t qualify because you need reliable people with set schedules. Jane doesn’t qualify because she requires excruciating (for you) step-by-step guidance. Is retaining the client not worth lifting the hiring freeze?

      In the meantime, work around Jane. Remove her as project lead, in favor of the better intern, and tell that person, or both, what you’ve been telling Jane in round 1. And maybe Jane needs to sit out the project, if dealing with her takes more time than it would to do things yourself.

      Can you second people from other areas?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So agree it looks like the work load was quadrupled and no staffing was added, no training plans were made, and this is a basic nightmare. You are trying to delegate work to people who refuse to do it, can’t do it or are only randomly available. I am not clear on if this was your idea or your boss’, however someone set you up to fail here.
        Go back to just grooming until the hiring ban lifts. Let Jane know that when that happens she will be expected to take on more duties. If the interns are working for low/no pay there’s not a lot you can do there.

  72. Sexism, ugh*

    I had a call this week that was one of the clearest examples of sexism I’ve experienced in my career.

    The purpose of the call was to solicit feedback about an initiative that I manage. The participants were a group of very senior leaders/movers and shakers in our community. It was a very big deal and we had prepared extensively for the meeting. I (female, manager) was joined on the call by my colleague Derek (male, individual contributor).

    As we got started, the chair of the group to which we were presenting introduced Derek and handed the meeting over to him. Derek (correctly) pivoted to me to lead the presentation, as planned, aside from a couple of slides he presented about his area of expertise. But throughout the presentation, every question was directed to him, rather than me, including on topics that he knows little about. And he answered them! He didn’t get things wrong, exactly, he just… cheerfully took up space that shouldn’t have been his, and gave less useful responses than I could have. (A fake example: Say someone asked about our projected revenue for next year. Derek would respond by spending 5 minutes walking through our financial modeling and how it has changed over the years, share some unimportant details, and end up by saying “I think the revenue has been around $100,000.” The right answer, which I know cold, is “$137,482, and here’s 30 seconds of useful context to understand that number.”)

    I did my best to metaphorically “grab the mic” as much as was appropriate during the meeting, and I can deal with Derek later. (I don’t manage him, but I’ll talk to him about this anyway.) But it was just disheartening to sit there and watch everyone treat him like the center of gravity. I have sometimes explained away this kind of experience — maybe the men get deferred to because they sit higher in the hierarchy, or have relationships the women don’t have (obviously those things can also be the effects of sexism at work too!). But in this case I was the most knowledgeable person in the room AND the person at the top of the hierarchy and still I was invisible.

    1. nep*

      Indeed so disheartening. And I reckon no one else on the call saw anything wrong or out of the ordinary at all–that’s the problem; the conditioning is deep and real.

    2. Reba*

      Ugh indeed.

      I hope you can convert Derek into an ally. Or at least, feel better having raised the issue.

      1. stressed out friday today*

        +1

        I’ve had some luck with banding together with coworkers to amplify each other. “I agree with what X said,” “I think that’s X’s area”, “X had a good idea”, etc. If you can get Derek on board, I think that will help.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oooh, that is annoying. And happens far too often. What’s also disappointing is that Derek started off so well! But then he just decided to go with it.

      I don’t know about you, but I’ve vowed that the next time this kind of thing happens to me (and it happens way too often at my current company), my boss will get an email about it. He won’t do anything to change it, but I want to be on the record.

    4. TL -*

      Can you address it broadly, next time? I mean, I know this is probably going to be the most awkward feeling ever, but literally saying, “Excuse me, I think there’s some confusion here – most of the questions are going to Derek, but I’m the manager/lead and I have important context and information that he doesn’t. Can you address all questions to me and I will make sure to throw ones in [his area of expertise] his way.”

      I think addressing it in the minute by grabbing the mic is the first impulse, but it’s just not as helpful if they’re already thinking of Derek as lead; then he’s just “letting” you answer a few. Addressing the broader underlying issue is likely to refocus the meeting in a more productive way. (You shouldn’t have to do it, they’re wildly sexist, but I’ve seen my boss (female COO) do something similar and it works.)

    5. noahwynn*

      That sucks, you think they would’ve gotten the hint when Derek turned to you at the start of the meeting.

      You definetly know your own organiation better, but is there any chance that Derek was bewildered as to why they kept asking him questions? That may have been why he answered, especially if he wasn’t expecting to be in the hot seat so to speak. I would still talk to him either way, and definetly bring up that he should have continued to direct the questions to you until the room got the hint, but in the heat of the moment I can see someone being totally lost on why they kept asking him questions. If anything I think he could be a huge ally to you in the future if this type of thing happens again and he is able to know what is going on in the moment.

    6. WFH with Cat*

      OP, I don’t really understand why the chair of the group that the presentation was being made *to* was the person to initiate the meeting … but that could have been a matter of deference, etc. When that person handed the meeting over to Derek, however, and Derek pivoted to you, did you do anything in particular to demonstrate that you were the in charge of the project and now leading the meeting?

      I’m thinking of things like thanking the chair for his intro, welcoming the group, and thanking Derek for his contributions to your project/kicking off the meeting — all of which would have signaled your authority to the group.

      I’m not saying that the group’s behavior wasn’t sexist — but I know from experience that it can be all too easy to simply react, immediately answering questions and providing information, instead of proactively taking a moment to focus and reset expectations as needed.

      Here’s something I’ve witnessed in many meetings: People with power almost never simply answer a question the first time they speak in a meeting, even if they were just asked a question point-blank. Even if it’s an important question. Instead, they always take a moment to clarify who they are and why they are there. Sometimes it’s just a blunt repetition of their name and title, sometimes they thanking others for coming or for the invitation to join in. Could be stern, warm, humorous … the tone depends on the person.

      I think that might be something to emulate. (Working on it, myself!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You know, I have seen that in action and didn’t know what I was seeing. My new manager does it, and she is a powerhouse who has pushed through solutions to problems we’ve been trying to get addressed for years. Thank you for describing it so clearly.

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

        When that person handed the meeting over to Derek, however, and Derek pivoted to you, did you do anything in particular to demonstrate that you were the in charge of the project and now leading the meeting?
        Yeah, now I think of it, this could have come off as something like “I’m not intimately involved in the details [subtext: as I’m sooo involved in other more important things] so I’ll defer to my assistant, OP, to give the detail about that” which would be worse.

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

      Does Derek know that you know more than he does about this subject?
      If so, I’d have a very harsh word.

      Why did they (chair/committee) introduce Derek as the presenter of that session? Had you discussed that beforehand or did they just assume? As much as I hate it, I think given that Derek was introduced as presenter that’s probably why questions and such were addressed to him. This is what really needs to be challenged.

      I think if you had been shown as the primary person here you would have been accepted.

      But you know how it goes when you try to “grab the mic” metaphorically!

      It’s an unfortunate situation all around, but it seems like Derek was framed as the ‘expert’ for this session and I would look there initially as to where to seek out possible sexism and so on.

  73. JG*

    Can I make a plea on behalf of my fellow HR pros? We know we have to look at graphic pics sometimes to investigate your harassment claims and it’s fine. It’s our job, we’re professionals, and you need us to help you stop receiving these unsolicited pictures. But please put a warning on the attachment names or subject lines. I truly do like to be able to prepare myself for what I’m going to see.

    (Also, if you take a career in certain areas of HR, you do often have to deal with a lot of nasty stuff in order to do your job properly.)

    1. HR Bee*

      THIS!!!!

      AND my company just pays us a cell reimbursement each month so I use my own cell phone. Was such a weird conversation with my husband the time I opened a text to a naked picture of a member of my management team sent from a subordinate.

      1. JG*

        Ha! I was multi tasking during a video staff meeting when I had screenshots texted and just went “Oh God!”. So not only did I have to see that but I also called myself out for not giving all my attention to my boss. Whoops.

  74. Youth*

    Just wanted to post some encouragement.

    In the August 10, 2018 open thread, I posted about how I was incredibly discouraged at work because my life was going terribly, my company culture was stressful, and I was burned out.

    Two years have passed. I have an awesome new job that I love. I’m engaged. We’re buying a house.
    Things get better. :) It took me almost two years to find that new job, but I found it. Don’t give up!

  75. Mr. Tyzik*

    I was in a meeting this week and we were talking about return to school guidelines as we waited for the call to start. One person mentioned that they were going to make their children return to school, despite an online option, because they were tired of the kids being underfoot. They said if the kids get COVID, they’ll deal with it them.

    It seemed such a cavalier attitude (and 180 degree opinion from mine) that I didn’t know how to respond. I lost a lot of respect for this person. Any advice on how to push past my personal feelings and not dread talking to this individual like I’m currently doing?

    1. Colette*

      I think it’s a very individual decision, and they may well have agonized about it more than they mentioned. Some kids don’t learn well online; some require so much parental support that the parent can’t work. “I don’t want the kids underfoot” may well be “my kids have attention issues that make it impossible for them to learn anything unless I spend my entire day monitoring their every mood” or “my kid is suffering from not seeing her peers so much that it’s seriously affecting her mental health”.

      1. pancakes*

        If that was the case I don’t see why they’d make a point of sounding both callous and impractical about the possibility of the kids falling ill. It doesn’t do them any favors and doesn’t make the scenario easier to endure. If anything, it creates a new problem (the lowered esteem of coworkers) where previously there wasn’t one.

        Whether this person sends their kids to school remains their individual decision regardless what anyone here says or thinks about the matter — having the personal agency to make that decision isn’t an aberration, and can’t be taken away by any of us.

        I don’t see the harm in thinking a bit less of someone who chooses to talk about their children this way. Continuing to treat them professionally doesn’t require thinking they have a happy home life.

          1. Mr. Tyzik*

            You have a point that it is an individual decision, but I personally think it is a community health decision. We have to work as a group during the pandemic to try to wipe it out, if we can.

            This is someone who has shared personal decisions so I think they were being pretty transparent. They said they were being stern about it at home. I should have mentioned that. That was part of the cavalier attitude.

            They also live in a hotbed state where children and teachers in some counties have started school and have had people test positive from community spread while exposed to each other in school.

            I suppose I should have put in the other factors, in case they make a difference.

            1. Colette*

              It is a community health decision, but if schools are open, parents have to factor in the risk of getting/transmitting COVID with the harm done to their child by not being in school. Some kids are fine at home; others are not.

    2. ThePear8*

      I think Colette makes a good point, there may be more to it but yeah it seems like they were awfully cavalier about it and seriously…”if the kids get COVID, they’ll deal with it”. If the kids get COVID, they’re going to be staying right back home and “underfoot”, they’ll basically now have sick kids they need to take care of, and more carefully quarantine. I wonder if there are alternative ways for these kids to have some social outlets, if that’s something they really need? But yeah, seeming so nonchalant about letting your kids possibly get sick is just…wow.

    3. HR Bee*

      The words do seem really cavalier, but perhaps that’s just how he processes things? I know one of my good friends just throws out easy, breezy attitudes on anything that makes her upset or uncomfortable because it’s how she processes things and she doesn’t want any follow up questions or commentary.

      Parents are in such an impossible position that I’d find it hard to judge him based on this one interaction without any other red flags. My son is going back to daycare Monday when my in-laws go home (they live four states away but have literally lived with us since March to help watch our son while we work in essential industries – government and food manufacturing). I’m terrified, but have literally zero choice if we want to keep our jobs and pay for our home and food.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I can see saying something like that – particularly when it’s a tough, emotional decision that you don’t want to get into.

      2. noahwynn*

        I agree with this. Maybe the tone is just his way of shutting down any further conversation on the topic.

        I still have to travel a lot for work and have uttered the same “I’ll deal with it when it happens,” statement. I can’t speak for this person, but I know I’m just tired of defending the choice to not quit my job. I’ve already dealt with all the anxiety and stress of it personally and don’t want to go through it all again in public and defend my choices. So I just shrug and say “I’ll deal with it.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I don’t have kids and I have said this in regard to other things. If someone has their house burning down to the ground they really are not going to worry about Covid in the future because the house fire in present time is enough.
          Not likening the kids to a burning house. If a person feels they have a closer and more immediate threat that is where they will go first. This person, to me, sounds like they have a major problem in current time and they find questions about Covid so far removed from their current concerns that it makes them feel distanced/disconnected from the speaker.

    4. TL -*

      I am taking a hard stance of not judging parents/caretakers for their decisions right now. Children are at very low risk for COVID, and parents/caretakers are making impossible decisions with incredibly bad leadership, often on multiple fronts, terrible options, and little social support. It’s also been a heckuva lot worse for women.

      So, don’t judge, don’t lose respect. You’re not in their shoes, you don’t know what they’re dealing with, and they’re taking an option that is being offered to them. If you think the option is wrong, take it up with your school boards or local, state, or federal government.

      1. pancakes*

        This isn’t just about the decision this person made, though — it’s about how they describe their decision and their thought process. I don’t find it at all difficult to take the stance that the decision is perhaps unavoidable but the callous and flippant tone is.

        1. WellRed*

          I think you don’t want to get into policing people’s “tone.” that way lies all kinds of trouble and assumptions.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think having a slightly lower opinion of someone and keeping it to oneself is comparable to policing. How would they even know? I’m not suggesting treating them any differently as a result.

            1. Gemma*

              How do you plan to ensure your opinion does not subconsciously influence and bias your treatment of them?

        2. TL -*

          I still wouldn’t judge their tone. It could be a coping mechanism, it could be a way to stave off well-meaning people judging everything about their decision (including how they present it), it could just be that that is the narrative they want to tell because the truth is that they don’t enjoy being around their kids all the time, and they get judged pretty harshly for that and they’re just over the whole darn thing.

          Or honestly, they could be pretty callous and flippant and not take it very seriously. I still wouldn’t judge them. My issue would still be with the local, state, and federal leadership that has led people to believe that this isn’t a big deal.

          1. pancakes*

            Not all coping mechanisms are equally successful, though. Some people’s coping mechanisms are self-sabotaging, some are amateurish, some are high-functioning and mostly unnoticed by others, etc. A person who thinks they’re going to stave off judgment about their relationship with their family by expressing what seems like Archie Bunker-style contempt for their family would have to really know their audience for that to work well, because not everyone thinks that’s a fun or relatable way to get along. In this instance it sounds like it wasn’t necessary for them to say anything at all — they could’ve just let others chat while waiting for the call to begin, or said something vague or noncommittal about their plans.

            I’m not sure I follow what you mean about not judging — it seems like you think it’s unfair or illegitimate to form an opinion about someone’s likability or character based on what they say or how they carry themselves. Of course it’s a mistake to be too quick or too harsh about it, and unacceptable to be bigoted about it, but people do reveal themselves in their behavior, and I don’t see an advantage in trying not to notice.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          When I have answered people that way it is because I am in deep trouble already with problems I prefer not to share.

          1. pancakes*

            Being flippant can be a form of sharing, though. In circumstances like these it lets everyone know something is going on emotionally in a way that being politely vague or adeptly changing the subject might not.

      2. pancakes*

        Wow, somehow I missed the line about children being “at very low risk” the first time I read your comment. That’s not correct. From an article in today’s Guardian, which links to the study:

        “A recently released study from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found that nearly 339,000 coronavirus cases among children have been reported across the nation since the start of the pandemic, with 97,000 cases reported just in the last two weeks of July.”

        The article is titled, “Surge in Covid cases among children fuels fears over US school reopenings,” and I hope you’ll read it. Having compassion for families who have no real choice but to send their kids into risky environments or put themselves in risky environments doesn’t require constructing false narratives about the risks they face! If anything it’s detrimental to minimize—or worse yet, circulate disinformation about—the risks they’re / we’re facing.

        1. RagingADHD*

          The fact that children, statistically, have lower risk of serious consequences from covid is not misinformation. It is well documented.

          It is also well-supported that children under 10 are less likely to transmit it to adults.

          Not zero risk. For me, personally, it’s unacceptable risk – particularly because I am in a position where we can easily manage online school.

          But yes, children are generally at lower risk of serious illness or death than other age groups. And many families are taking that into account in their personal assessment of choosing between two risky options.

          Everything in this situation is already bad enough. There’s no need to act as if people are telling lies or being stupid when they aren’t.

          1. pancakes*

            Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children who’ve had covid (MIS-C) isn’t serious by your standards? The death of children with no other / underlying health issues isn’t serious either? Regardless of how you feel about the likelihood of either, every reputable public health expert agrees that we don’t yet know the long-term consequences of the virus. Neurological problems and lung damage, for example, have been observed in a number of patients. Speaking as if these aren’t serious threats in an effort to make people feel more at ease with yielding to economic reasons to return to work, school, etc. is misguided.

            I didn’t accuse TL of lying — I said they seem uninformed, and their position seems under-considered. That’s an important distinction. What happened at YMCA Camp High Harbour suggests that you’re under-informed about transmission among children and adults, too.

            1. TL -*

              …I work in one of the major COVID-19 research groups, and spend hours every week in meetings with top COVID-19 researchers. I wouldn’t consider myself uninformed or under-considered. Happy to back up my statement with lots of references if you’d like :)

        2. TL -*

          You can see below, but I know my COVID-19 science and epidemiology. Kids are extremely low-risk for complications or death due to COVID.

      3. Disco Janet*

        I’m judging. Especially those who say, “it doesn’t matter because kids are low risk and it probably wouldn’t be serious.” It’s a selfish stance to take because what, just screw the teachers, lunchroom workers, custodians, bus drivers, etc. I feel for the parents with no other option, but not the ones who could keep their children home but have zero issue or concern about sending them to me, where I’m spending every day in a room with 32 kids an hour, 160 a day, with little to no social distancing possible. I’m now not allowed to visit my older parents and I have to worry for my own child with a pre-existing condition that would make COVID more dangerous for him. And in many cases it’s for the sake of parents who have taken their kids to vacation in hotspots this summer, don’t wear a mask unless it’s required somewhere, etc.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If they were truly cavalier about their child’s wellbeing, they would probably have lost custody for neglect long before now.

      They most likely have a chip on their shoulder because they’ve gotten unsolicited criticism/advice from a whole string of people who have a lot of opinions but no solutions.

      Their real reasons for going in person are their own business.

      I’m choosing online for my kids, but there are a lot of people I respect who are going in person for a wide variety of reasons.

      There is no easy right answer. All of the kids are going to suffer, in different ways. There are a lot of families weighing mental vs physical health right now. None of that thought process is appropriate for casual chat on a work call.

      Just read the person’s comment as “they really didn’t want to be having this conversation at all, and were trying to shut it down.”

      Of course I can’t know if that’s true, but it’s a useful framing to help you treat your colleague with respect.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      What I hear in that statement is, I can manage working from home and the kids schooling from home, I just don’t want to and I’ll deal with the health fallout later if it happens.

      I would find it hard not to lose respect for that person too. I would keep that as part of my knowledge about that person but focus on the quality of their work product to help myself from focusing on the judgement part.

      My husband is dealing with COVID and it looks like he has some heart damage as a result. We barely left the house since March, he is very fit, and has no preexisting conditions. The coworker is putting their child at risk, but they are also putting themselves and others at risk. I sincerely hope they don’t have to handle half of what we have and that others don’t have to face it because they don’t want their children underfoot.

    7. Gemma*

      Recognise that you don’t have all the info about the situation. Accept that you may be making unwarranted assumptions. Acknowledge that people can have different opinions than you without being wrong. Explicitly remind yourself of these things frequently.

      And always attempt to approach others with kindness and compassion instead of judgment and contempt.

    8. Nita*

      Hmm, trying to put myself in this person’s shoes… “I don’t think I can survive combining working and child care for this long, and I can’t keep forcing my children to suffer with this online thing” sounds way too dramatic for a work conversation. If anyone asks me why I want my children back in school, I’ll probably also say something dumb and flippant. There’s no way I’m getting into something this personal with coworkers.

      FWIW the calculus is very different here in NYC, in the sense that the risk of sending them to school seems very low to me. But the damage of no school is real for many people, and maybe even in your area for some people the implications of not having in-person school are worse than the risk of getting COVID.

  76. CJ Cregg*

    Happy Friday all – I hope everyone is as safe and healthy and calm as can be expected in these times.

    I need this very thoughtful body’s take: I applied for a very senior position at a very venerable nonprofit organization in my city. I think I am a great fit and that I submitted a great cover letter (thank you, Alison)! I know the person who is currently in the role. We are connected via LinkedIn and worked together at a nonprofit more than 15 years ago: I was just starting out, she was a consultant. We worked well together.

    The question is do I reach out to them now? I think it would need to be: as you probably saw because you are probably the hiring manager, I applied and I am reiterating my interest. Right? If I reach out at all? I tried to put the shoe on the other foot and I feel like if I knew someone who was applying, I would appreciate the double down on being interested….thoughts? Especially if you have been on either side of this situation. Thank you all!

  77. Tired Unicorn*

    How does one find a good startup to work for? What do you evaluate them on?

    I’m realizing that the jobs available in my area are either staffing firms or startups. I’m already at the former and have no desire to go to another one, so my options are pretty limited if I don’t consider startups. I’m pretty risk averse but I do like working for small companies and feeling invested in a product or mission. How do I go about finding one that is stable and has a good culture? I don’t usually see these places on Glassdoor. The people I know who have worked at good startups have said they got lucky, so I’m hoping to have more to go on.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      How good is your gut instinct? Do you have a history of toxic workplaces?

      If it’s good and you haven’t found yourself in multiple toxic places, I would use that as a starter. Sometimes it’s seriously luck but it’s also knowing the “people” you are good at working with/for.

      One important thing is their funding, their turnover, their founders/owners and if they have a history in business. They need to not be on their first business. They need to not be in business because they just want to own a business. They need passion and background in whatever they’re doing. [I learned that the hard way, don’t work for someone who just wants to be a GD business owner, like ever, make sure they have the background and knowledge of the industry they’re in.]

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        *First business meaning it’s not their first time working, lol. Fresh out of school and never had another job kind of thing, not “never started a business before”, lots of people only ever start one business. Those do go places but as someone risk adverse, I’d steer you away from that setup.

      2. Tired Unicorn*

        I don’t trust my gut right now. Partly because it works better when I get to do in-person conversations, but mainly because my current job is rather terrible. I knew the company had some issues but I believed they had made changes and was told I was being brought in to help fix things, but it has only gotten worse. I fear a smooth talking business guy could make any startup sound good.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I would remind myself that all companies have some issues, especially in the starting phases. But it’s all about your tolerance levels.

          I don’t know what you do exactly but you may also look into networking more and then you can know people, who know people. It’s easier to trust a startup if you know someone who at least knows the founders or are in the same industry.

          And honestly, just remember that startups and small business in general aren’t for everyone. It’s HARD and stressful, some of us thrive on that or can see the benefits that outweigh the negatives. It can be rewarding AF but it can also cause you not to sleep at night and your health/mental state feeds directly into how well you preform, which can then hurt you in the long run as well.

          Part of it for me has always been having a personality that tends to tell people that I don’t get jerked around easily. So they will drop me like a scolding brick out of the fire before ever hiring me because they know I’ll just walk out. Despite my background as an EA in my earlier years, I tell people that I’ve seen a lot of stuff and I tolerate a lot of funny business that’s 1. not unethical 2. doesn’t include screaming or shifting blame. Accountability is important to me and I make it known. From myself and others. Only one gaslighter even tried and within 2 months I was done. Bless his burning soul!

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I’ve never worked at startups (by choice, but that’s me), but there are enough in my city that I’ve heard some things.

      Some of the suggestions I’ve heard go along with The Man, Becky Lynch’s comment about their funding. Specifically, where does their funding come from? Is it all funded by the founder(s)? Venture capital? Customer revenue? To me, multiple rounds of VC funding with little to no customer revenue suggest someone who can talk a good game, but isn’t good at bringing a product to market that people want. Likewise, what’s their plan if the business is wildly successful? IPO? Get bought by Google/Microsoft/Amazon/[insert big name in your industry here]? Neither of these are bad answers, but not having a plan for success is a preventable lack of planning.

    3. irene adler*

      Concur with The Man, Becky Lynch and Daughter of Ada and Grace.

      Also look into the upper management and owner’s backgrounds. Are they physicists trying to make a stem cell product? IOW, does their background reasonably mesh with the product they are making?

      A stable start-up is kind of an oxymoron.
      Check into their funding (as others have pointed out). What’s the burn rate of funds? What’s the plan when that runs out? How soon do they expect product to be produced such that it will funds the company? Any IPO’s in the pipeline? IS this venture capital owned? Does the venture capital entity have experience funding companies in the same industry? If not, are they fully aware of the pitfalls and hurdles such companies face in making product? ARE they prepared for these impediments?

      There should be a 10-K filing with the SEC that outlines the truthful status of the organization (sources of funding, risks, competition, expectation for profit-including a time line, etc. ). This 10-K is often on the company website (look under Investors or Investor Relations). It’s a big document; but it is a good layout of what the company circumstances are.

      Do they have HR? To what extent? IS this an important aspect of the owner’s plan for the company? Or an afterthought?

      Given there will be limited funds for hiring, what’s the plan to cover all tasks? Does it sound like they have a reasonable plan? Or do they expect employees to sacrifice work-life balance to a great degree? How will they determine what skill sets they need to hire-and when?

      Are the owners people you actually like or feel you can work with ? What other companies or ventures are they involved with? IOW, are they involved in other ventures -such that they are not fully focused on this company- or is this company their life’s work/dream? You may not get a straight answer from the owner’s on this. Do some digging (Google, regulatory agencies pertaining to the industry, professional organizations, court cases, news articles from years past). Where else does their name pop up?

    4. not today*

      I work for a company that’s been in startup phase for 15 years. we’re a good long while before getting product to market. I was one of the first dozen employees. What made our culture very good was that most of the people (in that early phase) had worked together in a previous startup. So: they had experience in the workforce and were in their mid-30’s to mid-40’s: which meant that for the employees who had kids, they were in the elbows-deep stage of child -rearing, which kept working hours to working hours (“daycare pickup”). So, what I’d look for (in addition to other things mentioned) is the age-range and experience of employees. How are new ideas judged? Is it a meritocracy? are you blindly following the ideas of the founders, or is there room to pivot if that’s not working out?
      From my experience, if you go in on a very early phase start-up, expect a bit a chaos, and it really helps to be a Jack or Jill of all trades. In our first years, we started and abandoned projects easily. I consider that a real plus: if you had an idea you had the scope to work on it, but with no guarantee that as a company we’d stick with it.

  78. nep*

    Just a shout-out and best wishes to all the job seekers out there.
    I’ve had a lot of ‘F this–I give up’ moments lately. But of course, I absolutely cannot and must not give up.
    Onward and upward.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      [Clinks virtual coffee mugs with nep or anyone else with a virtual coffee mug out.)

    2. Also looking*

      Sadly this is how I feel today. Just very worthless and nothing seems to be going right.

      1. nep*