open thread – August 21-22, 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.

{ 1,109 comments… read them below }

  1. Boo*

    Anyone have any advice on how to get your work mojo back? Last year I got “promoted” after a restructure from EA to HR Officer, put a lot of work into improving HR in terms of OD, L&D, wellbeing etc, got great feedback from staff/my manager and achieved a workplace award through a local gov scheme…this year I’m being “promoted” again after another restructure to HRBP, and I have a new boss, and I want so badly to be good at my job, but…I no longer know how? I’m scared I’ve been promoted beyond my competence level. This year has done a number on my confidence (spent 7 months unsuccessfully job hunting, then came the pandemic, and I now have a glimmer of an idea of how little I know about anything important ie furlough, restructure, complaints, settlement agreements) in fact I spent most of April-July crying in my bathroom. The new boss is great but definitely knows more than I do about HR, and I just generally feel useless and overwhelmed with the “can’ts” when I should feel excited about all the upcoming projects on performance mgt, EDI, culture. Any ideas how to get my mojo back?

    1. HatBeing*

      Well I’m not sure how to get your mojo back, but you can build your confidence! Have you joined SHRM (I got my company to pay for my membership) so you can read through their archives and forums? HR is a constantly changing department with lots of concretes like laws mixed in with softer skills and I think we’re all learning as we go. I’m working on my SHRM-CP and going through the test training scenarios has helped reinforce the knowledge and experience I do have as well as opened me up to new ideas to pursue.

      I know I spent a lot of time crying on my floor during that time as well (er, and still every now and again). It shows we’re still human while having to cut people’s income. Good luck and know you aren’t alone.

      1. Cabin in the Woods*

        I’m late to the comments, but I wanted to second the idea of getting a certification. I sort of fell into HR by accident (As many people seem to), and I never really started to feel confident until I started studying for and passed my SPHR exam. I was part of a study group/class at the local university that helped immensely, so if that’s available to you I highly recommend it. As far as which certification to choose (SHRM or PHR), I think it’s a personal choice and they both have a lot of value. But the process of the getting the cert is GREAT for self confidence because it forces you to study pieces of HR you maybe would not know a lot about otherwise, and strengthens the areas you already do know about. And then when you pass the exam, it’s such a relief and validation to know that you really do know your stuff, and now you get to advertise that to the work world with your cert credentials. It’s not an instant fix as studying and taking the exam will likely take a few months, but I think it’s one of the more tangible ways to address your struggle.

    2. Wintergreen*

      It may be hard, but you mention you like your new boss. Could you go talk to new boss about those specific topics you feel you are lacking in? (or just one or two topics that you feel most lacking in) Mention that with everything going on in the world today you realize how much you don’t know and ask for training opportunities in those areas. Go into the meeting feeling proactive and willing to learn and it will come across that way. At the very least it should lead to a better outcome than a major mistake down the line.
      I struggle with the concept myself, but fear can actually be a good thing. It will keep you on your toes and growing as a person. Good Luck!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. Approaching your manager and asking for help with your professional development is a good thing! Your manager should want to make sure you have all the tools you need to feel confident before moving you along to the next level.

    3. 3DogNight*

      One thing that has been very helpful to me when I’m feeling out of my depth is to train someone else (even if it’s in my head). I am a mentor in my organization, and we train our new hires and hand hold them until they are ready to be 100% on their own. Until I became a mentor, I spent all of my time worrying that someone was going to figure out that I don’t know what I’m doing and fire me. There are a lot of things we run into, that I’ve never dealt with before. Having to get the data to train someone else has so improved how confident I am at my job. And, it has helped me realize that I know a lot more than I thought I did, and I do a lot more than other people do. The exposure has also helped me learn more.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      First off, the HRBP is a very difficult job to jump into. Because it isn’t project based and the work is so broad and varied depending on what is going on with the client group, it take awhile to feel like you are doing a good job. You boss knows this. Please talk to you manager about what you should specifically be focusing on to build your capability and confidence. I’m guessing that you frequently have to run things by your manager and this may be contributing to your current lack of confidence. Don’t let it! This is so normal and any manager of a new HRBP would tell you that it is expected. If you are unsure, just ask. I would encourage you to also build peer relationships with other HRBPs as you can learn a lot from your colleagues. Finally, please grant yourself the gift of grace. You do not need to know how to do everything. If you haven’t been through a restructure (or investigation or furlough or …) before, no one expects you to know how to do it by yourself. The HRBP job is one of the very best jobs in HR as it really helps you develop terrific problem solving skills. Focus on making the most of the position and the learning opportunities.

    5. in recovery from imposter syndrome*

      It sounds like you have a little case of Imposter Syndrome. Instead of being worried that you’ve been promoted beyond your competence level, try shifting that to trusting that whoever hired you is good at their job and picked you for a reason. Surely this will all be challenging, but that’s part of the fun, right? You don’t want to be stagnant in one position forever. I think part of leveling up is experiencing this fear of failure. It’s totally normal! Take those scary thoughts, hold space for them, and breathe through it. I’m sure you’re going to do great!

    6. Artemesia*

      It sounds like you need some very specific expertise and expertise is something you can acquire. I empathize as I have been in similar situations, but figuring out WHAT I needed to know and then figuring out how to master that was a great confidence builder. You were promoted because you know how to get it done. You do know how. And now the key is identifying the gaps in your knowledge and filling them. There are on line courses, there are books, there are professional associations which have materials as well as ‘certification’ options etc etc. Make a list and tackle the expertise you think you will need most and get it done.

      And approach the boss with your plan to get up to speed where it involves resources; ‘In order to do this well, I need to master settlements and the laws around complaint resolution; I have identified an on line class at X which will help me get this done. How can I get the resources for this?’ Bosses are impressed with quick studies who are quickly studying. You. have done it before; focus on what you need to do instead of what you don’t know now.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed with those who said talk to your boss about where to start getting oriented to your new position.

      Maybe try thinking of it this way, you ARE promoted beyond what you are famiilar with and this part is true. But there’s a fix in that you can learn the job.

      I have a job now where I spend the first 6 months saying “I will never learn this job.” Being blindsided by something was a thing that happened– oh every 5 minutes. Others around me said, “No. You will get this, just have the brass to keep going.” Sometimes people with more experience in a given thing can see this much clearer than we ourselves.

      At the 6 month mark I was at a meeting with peers from other areas. One person started the conversation by saying, “I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. But at the 6 month mark, I stopped caring that I don’t know what I am doing.” I was surprised when everyone agreed. Yeah, I did stop caring that I don’t know what I am doing and that was 7.5 years ago.
      What happened was I decided that I would just hold myself open to being in a state of constant learning and I would ask questions where I needed to ask questions. I have a boss who says the most worrisome thing in her mind is a subordinate who does NOT ask questions. OTOH, I also vowed not to make the same mistake twice.

      I think by committing to constant learning and committing to not making the same mistake twice you will find your footing here and you will be able to move ahead.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Then no one would get promoted. And most certainly, no one would get their first job. It’s the unwillingness or inability to grow into the job that becomes a real problem.

          1. DCcommenter*

            I also read it this way at first but it looks like the original commenter said “should NOT be promoted” – that is, someone should always grow into a job.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your boss knowing more about HR shouldn’t be a negative, this is your chance to learn from your boss, instead of doing everything yourself. In most situations, your boss should know more than you, that’s why theyre your boss.

      When our confidence is shaken, this happens. It’s okay and you will recover.

      I spent the first few months of my last couple jobs in constant fear because I thought I was “slipping” or “failing” when really, it was all in my head.

      You were promoted because you have the chops. You just have to get past the scary unknown part and settle in. It takes time to feel comfortable. Being too comfortable right out of the gate can be just as bad as what you’re struggling with.

      It’s not “I can’t do this” it’s “I can’t do this right now, until I have more knowledge and more confidence”, both of those come over time.

    9. Lucette Kensack*

      First: Your instincts are right — one year is very little time to have gone from an EA role to a business partner role. But that doesn’t mean that you’re incompetent in your new role; it means that your organization trusts that your talent is worth the bumpy ride that comes along with promoting someone into an area where they don’t have a lot of expertise. Congratulations!

      Second: You HAVE been promoted beyond your current skillset, and there are going to be things that people who had longer experience in entry-level HR roles will know how to handle that you won’t. But your competence isn’t the problem — your experience is, and experience is something that comes with time. Stay grounded in that.

      Third: Experience will come with time, but knowledge and skills can be developed in the meantime. Find a mentor. Join SHRM. Find trainings.

      You got this!

  2. You Can Call Me Al*

    So I am having a problem with a coworker. My job is Communications Specialist, she is the Director of Quality Advancement for a trade association. One of my big projects this summer was updating our website. It was frankly a nightmare, there were over 200 pages and 500 posts on our website and for the most part nothing had been updated since 2012. I sent around a spreadsheet to everyone in the office where I had planned out all of the tabs/sub tabs on the website to solicit feedback. Received nothing back. Sent it around again. Received nothing back. So I moved forward with the project at the urging of my boss. I have been working on it at this point for the last two months, putting well over 100 hours into the update and spending a lot of my nights and weekends working on it to get it done.

    Anyways, on Monday, my coworker who has zero experience with web design or any form of technology (as in she can’t figure out “reply all” on email) says during the team staff meeting in front of everyone that she hates all the changes because now she can’t find anything and wants me to change it back to the way it was. I have received nothing but glowing reviews on the website from everyone up until this point. I feel that it is organized in a way that makes sense now. And she won’t let it go as she tends to always get her way. I don’t think that it is fair that she failed to send me feedback before the update occurred so I could incorporate it and now if I do have to make the changes she wants it will probably take another 50 or more hours of my time.

    I tried explaining the reasoning behind the website design, more organization and improved content while using website data to determine which areas should be prevalent and which did not need to be. I offered to do a Teams meeting and take her through the website to show her where things are and she refused.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this? Maybe I am being unreasonable so if you feel that way, please let me know. But I just don’t know how to move forward when she is unwilling to budge. I am also nervous because I need to present the website to the Board of Directors next week and I am scared she is going to say something in front of the Board about how much she hates everything.

    1. Quill*

      Go over her head and produce evidence of the decision to work on the site and its rationale and then let her grouse. Chances are she hasn’t used the site for more than one specific function or page in years and that her preferred method is “stuff in the order that I had to ask for it to be added.”

    2. Dr. KMnO4*

      I don’t think you are being unreasonable at all. Have you talked to your boss about how to handle the situation? They might know how to get your coworker to back off, or be able to give you advice about how to handle any sticky situations with the Board of Directors meeting.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        So that is one of the problems… My boss was fired last month. We have an “interim” but he has said he doesn’t really want the position and wants us to handle things on our own.

        1. Junger*

          Oh, that definitely doesn’t help matters.
          Is there anyone you know who has experience dealing with the Board that you can ask?

    3. PX*

      If she’s the only one? Ignore her. If your boss and others are happy and willing to bat for you, unless she actually has the power to affect your job/raises/future at this company – focus on all the other good things that have come out of it. Be polite about it, but ignore her comments.

      There are always going to be people who hate change and nothing you can do will make her happy.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes! And during the BOD presentation, might throw in a few “so-in-so( or such-and-such dept) really liked the new XX page, as they now find the necessary information in seconds whereas before it took them many minutes to dig things up.”
        Just to show that others are finding the changes beneficial-to the company.
        Then let her whine.
        If you are asked about any issues the whining brings up, explain that things are actually improved because [reason]. And act sympathetic (“I will train co-worker on [issue] and am sure they will realize how the changes have improved things.”) Just keep the mindset that your changes are a positive for the company.

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          I want to emphasize irene adler’s comment on showing that others are finding the changes beneficial: please consider actively soliciting positive written feedback from those employees from work units (in other words, allies) who are finding your new site easier to work with, and specifically how it’s helped them (e.g., reduced search times, accelerated responses to external stakeholders, whatever).

          If any of these allies are allowed to attend the BoD meeting, that would be ideal, but, if not, having their printed-out commendations in a folder next to you is the next best thing. At the meeting, when your Whiner starts complaining about being unable to find X, you’ll either be able to turn immediately to an ally at the table and say “Ash, I understand you had a more positive experience with finding X. Can you talk about that to the group?” and Ash can wax poetic on how the new site has improved the unit’s ability to do its work. If Ash is not attending, you’ll have Ash’s statement, which you could use as an immediate rebuttal to the Whiner.

          1. irene adler*

            Thanks for the complement.
            AND… for your perfect fleshing-out of the idea. That’s how one shows the C-suite folks the value of this while shutting down complainers.

            1. Academic Librarian Too*

              yes, this is called the buy-in. Before presenting something new, do a walk around/and or ask for ten minutes of someone’s time to show them a few things on the new re-design. take in negative feed back but also log positive comments. present the redesign. note a few concerns that you taking in account- making the font larger (believe me that is the biggest criticism we get.) finish with the positive comments in writing writ large on the screen.

      2. Snark no more!*

        I agree with PX. She refused to give feedback, she refused to take training, and I don’t see where she even gave you anything other than “put it back!”

        Change is hard for a lot of people. She’ll sound like a child in front of the board.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Almost exactly what I was coming here to say.
          I’m sorry you’re going through that. It sucks. I’ve been in similar situation with multiple rounds of deafening silence for feedback until things start actually changing. But take heart: I actually got my engineers to throw stuff away. Anything is possible.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        And if she’s that bad with tech / known for getting her way: the board knows all about her anyway.
        Have a comment ready for her, if she does bring it up, like:
        “Well, if I’d gotten this feedback when I requested comments, I would have certainly factored it in to the design, but at this point, the X hours required to accomplish it are not the best use of our resources. We’re currently planning to do Y and Z, which we expect to have A and B impacts.”
        (ie, acknowledge her comment, explain why it’s not the right thing to do (briefly!) and pivot to other interesting topic.)

        1. BethDH*

          Definitely put an hour cost to appease her on it if there’s any pushing. People not in web architecture areas really underestimate the complexity and time it takes, especially if they just see it as “undoing” something. They also may not get why you can’t do something just for one part of the site.

        2. Marthooh*

          I would not say “if you’d just told me when I asked….”. It’ll come off like two children sniping at each other. Don’t concede that she has a legitimate point to make, one you would have taken into consideration if only someone had mentioned it sooner. She just doesn’t like change! That’s why she gave no feedback to begin with.

    4. Jellyfish*

      Does this coworker have any authority to demand you make changes, or the standing to get others to listen to her? Reading your description, it looks like she’s whining but has no real authority here. She might be a persistent whiner, but it doesn’t seem like you have any obligation to give in to her.

      Some people don’t like change, and apparently she is one of them. Honestly, she’s allowed to hate the new website, but that doesn’t mean it’s objectively awful. One disgruntled person without the background knowledge to provide real, constructive criticism doesn’t devalue the work you’ve done. Listen to the good reviews you’ve gotten and whatever your boss says.

      If she whines in front of the BoD, you’re in the clear. You asked for feedback multiple times in the process, you can explain your reasoning, and you’ve offered her one-on-one training. She’s the one looking bad here, not you.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, and I would even counter with your last line if she does in fact start whining about the new page layout in front of higher ups. Something like, “I understand your concerns since we spoke about them before. I offered to give you one-on-one instruction on how to navigate the new page, but since you declined, I assumed you were able to figure it out on your own. If that’s not the case, please send me an email with your specific questions and I’ll be happy to put a FAQ together for you.”

        And seriously – if you don’t have a FAQ yet on the new site change, you should probably get one up on the front page of your internal site ASAP letting everyone know about the site redesign and that it’s currently in process. That will save you a lot of time and will head her off at the pass every time she tries to complain about not being able to find something.

        1. You Can Call Me Al*

          The FAQs is a really really good idea. That is something that I will definitely get working on. I had a message on our home page during the construction period letting people know what was happening, but that is about it.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah, you definitely need something more substantial than that. When you’re moving stuff around on the site, take screenshots and save them – they can be incorporated into your FAQ to show people where to go to find the most commonly searched for items on the web page. Solicit questions not only from the complainer, but also the rest of the staff to get a sense of what common questions people may have, and add your responses as you update the material online. It’ll take some time to get everything done, but in the long run, all you’ll have to do is point the board and anyone else with questions to it so you won’t have to repeat yourself.

      2. KR*

        This is what I was thinking. I worked in IT for a small municipality and the truth is I could change a button from blue to green and someone would find something wrong with it. Switching everyone to Windows 7 and eventually 10? Disaster. I would report the comments but certain people/complaints my boss had to tell me to tell them, “That’s just how the software has to work and I can’t change it.” This coworker had a notice period for changes and has refused all help.

    5. Autumnheart*

      One person’s opinion is not a reason to make badly needed updates to a site.

      “Sorry, but these changes have already gone through the approval process and have been signed off on. Thanks for your feedback!” Done.

      If you don’t have a process for how people can submit feedback for site updates, it would be a great idea to create one.

      1. Autumnheart*

        “One person’s opinion is not a reason to make badly needed updates to a site.” I should have said, to OVERRULE badly needed updates.

      2. You Can Call Me Al*

        We have an already existing form on the website for feedback that honestly no one ever uses, along with most of the stuff on our website. And just because I don’t know if this was clear, it isn’t a new website or anything. I am stuck trying to reorganize the already existing outdated website that was created in 2012 so there are significant limitations to what I can do based on the age of the site.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I am stuck trying to reorganize the already existing outdated website that was created in 2012 so there are significant limitations to what I can do based on the age of the site.

          Note this in your FAQ as well.

    6. Kimmybear*

      Ugh…I’m sorry. I’ve been there. Exactly there. A whole bunch of thoughts on moving forward: do you have any metrics or member feedback (from the old and new sites) you can point to that informed the redesign? Were members involved in the redesign process? Did you engage a UI/UX designer? These things can help bolster confidence in your new design. Are there simple changes you can make that will let her feel like you are listening? Are any of her points valid things you might scope out for a phase 2? These can help it not seem like this new design is set in stone for all eternity.

      Also, the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is that you often need to put something directly in front of someone in a way they can process it. It’s hard for many non-technical people to see a spreadsheet of links and tabs and visualize a website and how it functions. Perhaps some mocked up screenshots or a test site would have helped (maybe you did this but I didn’t see it in your message). Also, sometimes you need to put time on someone’s calendar and walk them through it. Otherwise, feedback for your project becomes the bottom of their to do list.

      Good luck!

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        Members who are on our organization’s executive committee were involved in the redesign process and have all told me how much they enjoy the new website. As a bit of background, we represented one specific group for a long time and then began representing another group in the early 2000s. Up until 2012, the two groups had completely separate websites and then the two websites were sandwiched into one single website so there were a lot of redundancies and it was just all around bad. So this was just a reorganization of the 2012 website, not creating a new website since we can’t afford it at the moment.

        Honestly, I am not at all experienced in web design. This is all stuff I just picked up and tried to do my best with and watched a lot of YouTube videos. Some of her feedback was helpful and I have made those changes, but by and large most of her feedback was complaining about how the website was organized. For more background on her, we are a state affiliate of a large national association. She regularly got our website confused with the other state affiliate that starts with the same letter as ours.

        1. Kimmybear*

          Ahh…that makes lots of sense. And with your boss being gone, makes things more… interesting. Just know that this is really really common. I’m about to start on reorganizing a site we launched 18 months ago. It is a never ending process.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I agree that the coworker complaining *now* and not really having specific issues to point to, just “I hate it,” is not what you’d consider actionable feedback. If no one else is reporting problems, your website is not the issue.

        But I agree that trying to solicit feedback through a spreadsheet doesn’t help you with making sure the website itself is usable. Mock ups, screen shots, even beta testing with a few others to try out the functionality would be a good way to get solid feedback. I understand you’re not a web designer/UI-UX specialist and you got stuck with this assignment, so you did the best you could under the circumstances. If you created a website that most/almost all people can use without issue, you did great!

    7. Change Happens*

      Look into Organizational Change Management and the change curve. This sounds like you have someone in the early stages of change, where resistance is strong.

      1. Anonbeth*

        Yes! Hard agree. One tactic that change management suggests is to involve people so they have buy-in. Can you schedule time to sit down with your coworker and go over her concerns? You mentioned some of them were valid, so make sure she knows you made those changes. Add others to the FAQ. Use your judgment here, of course. But this will show her that you’re engaging with her opinions and concerns, she’ll feel involved in the solution, and that should make her less resistant to the change.

    8. Anonymous1*

      You say you don’t know how to move forward when she is unwilling to budge, which indicates her approval is required, is that the case? Title-wise, is sounds like she’s senior to you, which may be why she feels okay pushing back on your responses about the re-design. If I were you, I’d have my boss speak to her and voice his approval. Sometimes people won’t accept something until they hear it from someone on their level in my experience. As far as presenting, be clear about your logic in the new layout and the positive feedback and that all team members were given a chance for input earlier in the process.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        I mean I honestly didn’t even need to solicit feedback from anyone when my boss assigned me the project. I chose to solicit feedback so that we would all have a website that caters to peoples specialties. She does have the director title and I do not, which is a whole other thing, but I have been with the organization longer than her. And as I commented above, my boss was actually fired last month so that throws a wrench into things. As far as my other coworkers have told me though (all on the director level), they love the website.

        1. Observer*

          Unless she actually has the authority to block this / make you roll it back, you don’t have to discuss this with her any more.

    9. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      You sound perfectly reasonable. I agree with everything above. Be prepared to pull out documentation of requests for feedback and the fact you received none, and stick to your guns about why you did what you did. Feel free to pull out the glowing reviews others have provided. If she DOES say something in front of the Board, that will likely reflect poorly on her, not you, especially if you can keep your calm and produce the documentation I cited above and remain detached (way easier said than done, I know!) about it.

    10. Bagpuss*

      She sounds completely unreasonable.

      You sought feedback (twice!)before starting, you have offered go over it with her

      When you preset to the board, I would focus on the ways it is improved. Maybe say something to the effect that the website had not been changed or substantially updated since around 2012 so was very outdated and clunky (assuming that’s true) and say that of course, because it had been left for so long, people had got used to the old version despite it’s shortcomings but that the vast majority of the feedback has been extremely positive and users are, after a short period of familiarisation, finding it better organised and more usable than the old version.

      Could you / would you have time to send a quick survey round to those who have given feedback so you can back up what you say? Was any of the feedback written as opposed to verbal? If so, maybe provide the feedback you have received to the board so they can see that it is not just your word

      Since you know she doesn’t like it, go prepared for her to say something. Maybe along the lines of “As I mentioned, there is of course a short period of adjustment to become familiar with the improvement, and I would be happy to sit down with you via ‘Teams’ to give you an individual tour if you don’t feel confident navigating it, although I’ve found that most users are saying it’s much easier to find information now as the information is better and more logically organised . Trying to put it back the old way would not really be fit for purpose as [ it wasn’t very intuitive / didn’t allow for effective searches / meant people often struggled to find x / whatever applies ]

      But I think if you can mention in your introduction both the positive feedback and the fact there is of course an adjustment period you hopefully pre-empt her objections.

      you might also find it useful to suggest that the board reviews it in (say) 4-6 months time and make any further changes then, so you are not totally shooting down her demand for change, but suggesting that the new layout etc is given a fair trial. If nothing else, it gives them some space to sit on the fence but also means it is harder for her to demand an immediate reversal . Maybe also flag up that it clearly wasn’t suitable before or it would not have been necessary for you to be tasked with updating it.
      If there were specific, demonstrable problems with the old set up, cite them. But I would only do that in response to her demands, or as part of you intro as a ‘these were some of the problems I have fixed’ rather than ‘this is what she is an idiot’

      Best of luck

    11. kt*

      Yeah, I’d get the glowing feedback from others and incorporate into the presentation. I’d also prep some wording like, “I understand change is always disruptive, but I’m disappointed that you didn’t contribute thoughts when I solicited them in April. If the Board is truly not satisfied with the current update, I’d be happy to revisit the website, but I ask that we have a committee sit down and outline the scope of changes in writing so that we don’t go through this again in a few months. After specifications are pinned down and agreed upon by the board, I can start working on the website. Given my other responsibilities, I’d expect that if you have these changes outlined and approved by the end of September, I can work on it and get a new version up by the end of November or beginning of December.” Then smile a calm and slightly condescending Mona Lisa smile and sit back, slightly bored, as if your coworker is unreasonably demanding.

      It’s the office version of the freelancer saying, “Absolutely, happy to change that; it will add two months and $10,000 to the project. If that’s not doable, we can talk about reduced scope for changes.”

      Realize that you’ve been thrust sort of into the role of freelance web developer and that there’s a whole set of skills around scoping projects, dealing with demanding clients who want to change stuff at the last minute, dealing with clients who don’t understand how the internet works, etc. Approaching this only with inter-office skills won’t be adequate! as dealing with unreasonable clients is it’s own thing. Good luck!

    12. Pip*

      Some people just dislike change. Often, it’s because they seem to navigate life by scripts rather than by any cognitive processes. Click on the big green button, select the third menu option, turn left after the post office and so on. If her main criticism is that she can’t find anything anymore, then chances are she navigates by script, so there is not much use in explaining the design choices or the site organisation. Rather, ask her what it is she needs to find and show her how to find it.

      As for the BoD, if you have any nice and snappy data (engagement metrics etc) for the new vs. old website you can show off, it will surely win them over. Executives and directors do like to see numbers going up.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        That is one area that I have tried explaining because a lot of the links remain the same. For example, she runs a program, lets call it SNAP (that isn’t the name, but it is a four letter acronym). The link to get to the SNAP page is still organizationwebsite.org/snap as it was before, but that isn’t how she likes to navigate things. I offered to bookmark specific pages that she would regularly need on the website, like the calendar, SNAP, and other relevant pages to her position, and she again said no. The reorganization of the website just got done this Monday and our BoD meeting is this coming Tuesday so the metrics don’t show much in terms of significant change, but that is a great idea for future meetings.

        I am really, truly hoping that we can get a new website in the next calendar year and I am viewing this reorganizing as a first step in the process because now all of our up-to-date content can be easily added to a new website.

    13. Marie*

      Have you had a conversation with your boss about this? If not, start there. Ask how your boss would like you to handle this situation.

      In the meeting, if she does start talking about how she hates everything, act surprised. Reiterate all that you did to solicit feedback from everyone in the org, and from her specifically. Go over what your boss said about why this project was needed in the first place.

      At the end of the day, this crankypants woman isn’t your problem- she’s acting like a toddler, and yes that’s distressing, but who cares what she thinks? If your company wants to waste your time and give in to a toddler tantrum after you’ve put in all this work, so be it. You still get paid either way, right?

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        So I am not sure if you didn’t see my comment above or if you commented after I responded, but my boss resigned (ahem… was fired) a month ago. That is true, but the industry I work for has been especially hit by COVID and things are insanely busy. For everyone’s reference, the trade association I work for is in the healthcare sphere. The vast majority of time I spent working on this website was outside of regular work hours. I used all of my nights and weekends working on this project. I don’t want to have to do that again, especially because I am salaried and don’t receive any sort of comp time for working additional hours.

    14. Alex*

      I see you and I live in the same level of website purgatory. I’m in a similar situation myself, where I’m trying to update websites and ask people what kind of updates they need and/or whether or not certain things are being used. It’s mostly crickets, until I make a change.

      I’d say to her “I understand some of the changes may take a while to get used to. If there’s something specific that you can’t find, I can point you to it. Otherwise, these updates have already been through the approval process and we can’t go back.”

      Repeat as necessary.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        This made me laugh. Website purgatory is exactly where I am. Keep strong, Alex and God speed *raises fist towards ceiling in solidarity*

    15. Artemesia*

      I’d be front running this and framing it for your bosses including, ‘Susie has a difficult time with change and is resisting learning the new system. It is much more efficient and user friendly, but of course any change needs a little time to learn. How do you suggest I handle her constant demands to not change anything?’

      And if she tries to slam this in public I would have a canned speech ready to go along the lines of ‘our old website was difficult for our clients to use and the new design is much more accessible but of course any change can be difficult for staff used to doing it the old way even though that way was less efficient. ‘ I assume the web site is designed to present the organization to outsiders — clients etc and so emphasize that this is much easier for them to use. Thus staff used to the quirks of the outdated system will need to take a little time to master what works best for clients. You want to relatively subtly imply that your way is client friendly and that resistance is laziness and inability to adapt and change. You do this by hitting the ‘client focus’ hard and the sympathy for people having to learn a new system gently.

      Have you considered doing a tutorial for staff on the changes and producing a one page guide to quick use of the new system. When presenting it to the board you can then say ‘of course any change means staff has to learn and adapt, but we have these tools to make that adaptation to our new client oriented approach easier.’

    16. Yes Anastasia*

      When you present to the Board of Directors, try to anticipate her concerns by outlining your plans for assessment (web analytics, user comments, conversion rates, whatever). Maybe you’ve already gathered some of these metrics and can share some snazzy charts demonstrating the success of the project and outlining your process for future changes.

      Another thought – does your organization have an intranet? Is there a way to give her some of what she wants without making it customer-facing?

      In the future, this is a good reason to meet with stakeholders individually to solicit feedback and get everyone on board. People who are not tech savvy are often very bad at telling you what they want, and will either stay silent or give you useless advice (“don’t change anything!”). However, in conversation you can prod them into being more forthcoming about how they use the website and their likes and dislikes about the current design. Even if you don’t take any of their advice, taking the time to listen to their concerns will make them feel like they had input, and they’re a bit less likely to freak out when they see the final product.

      1. Yes Anastasia*

        Just wanted to add – you obviously went above and beyond to get this project done, so I feel like that modifies my advice in the last paragraph. No one in your organization should expect you to hand-hold colleagues through the web redesign process. They haven’t given you the time or resources to do so.

    17. Granger*

      Agree with others here, but I am also wondering if this person is like this all the time or if this is a one-off and it really is just the website changes that she doesn’t like – ? If she’s frequently a stick in the mud / inflexible / obnoxious, then any public feedback she shares will likely be received with an eyeroll.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        I mean, I do have my own issues with her and I know several other people in the office do as well. Mostly because her role does require some level of tech-saavyness that she just doesn’t have and refuses to work on which can be frustrating. We just have very different approaches when it comes to work. If I don’t understand something, whether it is the website or something like Medicaid reimbursement, I go out of my way to learn about that subject. When she comes across something she doesn’t understand, oftentimes with technology, she will pass it off to someone else in the office who does know about that subject. Not saying that one approach is better than the other, but just explaining that there is a fundamental difference in how we approach things.

    18. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I would focus on being prepared for the Board of Directors meeting. Have explanations for each of the changes you made, and be ready to walk the Board through the new layout. Then what happens, happens. Based on your feedback from everyone else, I wouldn’t be too worried about the response.

      Worst case, you get orders to redo the design. In that case, talk to your interim boss (who may not “want the position” but tough s**t, this is his job right now). Bring him a list of the work on your plate, including the redo of the redesign, and ask him to set priorities. Don’t work any more overtime than you normally would. If the redesign is important enough to bump other work, it gets done; if not, it doesn’t.

    19. Alex in Marketing*

      This is so typical with website re-designs. There will always be someone who staunchly resists changes, no matter how many opportunities you give them to offer advice prior to the changes.

      The only thing you can do is politely double down as you have and offer her training opportunities to help her navigate the new site. In fact, you can even include that in your presentation to the BoD—having a plan to help co-workers transition will impress them.

      She may bring it up, but if she is the only person who has those reservations, a reasonable BoD will see past her complaints.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Oh, yes – exactly. They’ll complain and complain about the site – how bad it is, how hard it is to find anything, etc., etc., etc. – so you make it better and that doesn’t make them happy, either.

        Because nothing will. Just make sure you’ve documented everything (including alllllll those opportunities for feedback), make sure your supervisor or the person in charge knows all that, and then move on.

        If there is real potential for her to make a lot of trouble, you COULD – not that you should have to – see if there is one little change you can make that still makes sense given the design but that will give her the illusion that she has gotten what she wanted. In other words, is there a bone that you can throw to her? But if she’s just a whiner (and these people are usually just whiners), smile nicely, remind her that you’re happy to give her some training, and then move on.

    20. WantonSeedStitch*

      You’re not being unreasonable. You can’t please everyone. There’s no reason why you should change everything back to a 2012 layout for one person. You solicited feedback. You offered training. If you’ve had glowing reviews from everyone else, that’s an indicator that you did a good job. This sounds like a classic case of someone who just hates change, and doesn’t feel comfortable with technology, never mind technology that CHANGES. During your presentation, make sure you cover what you did to solicit feedback, and the overall response to the website. If she complains when you’re done with your presentation, it’ll be pretty clear that this is her problem, not yours.

      The one thing I might have done differently in your shoes is using a spreadsheet with tabs and sub-tabs for soliciting feedback. While it makes sense to show how you were planning to organize the information, I think that for a lot of people who AREN’T web designers, it might have been difficult to mentally translate that into what the user experience of the new site design would be like as a result of the changes. That might explain why you didn’t get any feedback even though you asked for it. A mockup (create the main pages, but with placeholder content) might have been easier for people to understand and provide feedback on. It still might not have helped this one person, but it’s not impossible that it might have made it make more sense to her too. (That said, if she took you up on the training you graciously offered, that would of course serve the same purpose.)

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Er, make that “the one thing I might have done differently in your shoes is reconsider the idea of using a spreadsheet.”

        1. Not a cat*

          I’ve redone dozens of websites. This is Monday Morning Quarterbacking but your website is really the face of your organization, hence–there should be multiple points of view taken into account. Think of the revamp as someone having an entire facial reconstruction. A nice way to do this is to hold a series of roundtables w/ comps to ask for feedback. You can find lots of information about how to run a change management process online. Also, frankly, it doesn’t sound like you wanted feedback, as you “asked” for it in an incredibly user-unfriendly manner. The reaction of this rogue director is not atypical.

          1. kt*

            I think we’ve got to be gentle & reasonable with the OP — you’ve redone dozens of websites, so it sounds like your job, and it sounds like our OP basically learned from YouTube and did it at night because it was so s*&^^y, and now most people think it’s better! To get experienced management of change and of website design, you’ve got to pay for it! This org got it ‘for free’ from an existing employee, who it sounds like does not get paid/have time for roundtables etc — and so this the the unsurprising result.

            If the grump is truly un-tech-savvy enough not to be able to write organizationname.org/snap to get to the SNAP page she wants and can’t get there because the button changed location, she also gets what she gets — you simply can’t cater to one person’s issues forever.

          2. You Can Call Me Al*

            I mean that is completely fair. I did adopt a bit of a “my way or the highway” mindset once I had organized it in a way that I thought was best. It is a little tricky to do things like round tables or really getting feedback since we are all still working remotely so the Excel spreadsheet was the only way I could really think of to present the reorganization. Thank you for the feedback though, I really appreciate you telling me various ways I could improve in the future.

    21. Observer*

      So, I looked for your responses, and I don’t see an answer to this question: Does she have any authority here? Can she force the issue or is this a matter of her trying to get the higher ups / Board to make you roll it all back?

      Because if she doesn’t have the authority to block the changes, I just would NOT do it. Period. Obviously, any good suggestions she makes should be implemented if possible. Do the FAQ, make sure that your offers to help (and her refusal of same) are documented, and also make sure that everyone else’s positive feedback is also documented.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        She is technically a level above me at work as she is a director, but I have been with the association longer than her. Authority is sort of tricky at this point since my boss was fired last month so, in the words of my grandpa, we are a headless chicken right now. She is well respected by the older people in the profession and one of my coworkers did raise concerns that if she was having issues with navigation of the website then other people that are, in his words, of a similar age group to her might have similar issues. The industry that we represent has gone through a massive shift when it comes to embracing technology in the past decade. While the people that refuse to embrace the new technologies available are retiring in droves, the ones that remain are usually the higher ups.

      2. Coalea*

        It is so frustrating when people ignore requests for feedback and then come sailing in with major changes after its no longer easy – or even possible! – to make them.
        One thing you may consider in the future when you are trying to solicit feedback from others is to include language along the lines of “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Ideally, that would prompt anyone who had feedback to provide it AND if there were folks who didn’t understand the material well enough to give feedback, they would let you know that!

    22. Sam.*

      Ugh, I’ve been in the position of revamping this kind of website and definitely get your frustration. I would focus on demonstrating the logic behind the changes to the BOD, not to your coworker. Draw on the data you based your decisions on and any recent analytics you have. If there are specific aspects of the reorg that other teams have been particularly happy with, I’d also highlight those.

      I imagine it would be fairly easy to interject that kind of thing as context for what they’re seeing as you present the website. If they see for themselves that you had solid reasoning and it seems to be getting positive results, 1) you’ve highlighted the ways that you rocked this project, and 2) they’re less likely to pay attention to her if she complains. And if she does speak up, I would be very tempted to say something like, “I realize that a big change like this requires an adjustment period. My offer to sit down with you and walk you through the website still stands.”

    23. Esmeralda*

      BTDT with websites and with projects, procedures, forms, reports, events — you name it.

      My mentor from many years ago gave me great advice about this sort of crap. (And it’s crap, btw)

      Solicit feedback by outlining the project — does not have to be massively detailed, just what you’re doing and why it’s importnat. For example, “Big Boss has asked me to overhaul the website. I’ll be reorganizing and redesigning to eliminate old materials and to make it better reflect our mission. I need your feedback!”

      Then be be specific about what you want. Give a clear deadline to get back comments. (I always take comments for say a week after the deadline, although I tell no one I am doing that)

      A reasonable amount of time before the deadline, send out a reminder: what you’re doing, what feedback you need, the deadline.

      No feedback? No problem. Proceed with your project.

      Someone complains AFTER THE FACT? Very calmly and, if you can manage it, with a sympathetic tone, say “I’m so sorry, Griselda! I wish I’d had that feedback back in April/the spring/last year. It’s way past the deadline, so I’m afraid we can’t do anything about that now. But I can add it to my list of updates for the next revision [Griselda does not have to know that the next revision is Freakin Never].”

      Griselda gives you pushback? You say, “Well, that’s too in depth to discuss here, but we can meet to talk about it later.”

      Do NOT get into a discussion with Griseld about why you did this that and the other, and especially do NOT get into any such discussion during some other meeting.

      Griseld complains to higher ups? First of all, Griseld may be known as a PITA. If not, and you get called on it, explain your timeline, show your efforst to get feedback and show just what feedback you got (and if it’s zero, then Griselda ain’t got a leg to stand on).

      Eespecilly if most folks are happy with your work, I would not give a flying F about Griselda and her ridiculous crap complaining.

      Advantage of this nonsense happening is that you get a rep for being open to feedback AND for being serious about deadlines. I have not had one bit of griping about how much someone hates X project/website/form/whatever in *years* because everyone knows: get your feedback in, Esmeralda will give it a fair hearing, and then shut the F up about it if you didn’t bother to meet Esmeralda’s deadline. (Also I do good work, and I get my feedback in to other people by their deadline)

      Haha, sorry that was a bit ranty. Sorry!

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do you have the ability to set up redirects from old URLs to new ones? She (and more importantly some of your customers) might rely entirely on her old favorites list to navigate. That would give her 404 errors all over the place.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        Yes, any page that was on the original website continues to have the same URL as it did before or has a redirect. There are quite a few new pages though so I think one of the things I can do to help everyone is sharing a bookmarks folder of the pages that are relevant to their position. Granted she has been the only one to come to me with navigation issues, but other people could be having problems too. Plus I don’t want to single her out.

    25. I'm just here for the cats*

      She is the unreasonable one, not you. And if you are made to put it back the way it was becasue this one person likes it, then there are way more issues at your work. Everyone else but this one person likes it, your boss urged you to change the website , you gave everyone plenty of opportunities to put in feedback.

      The only thing I can think to add is if you can meet with her and ask her what specifically she like about the other website, but explain that you can’t change it back, but may be able to incorporate some aspects into the new design. Who knows, maybe you’ll find out something useful but probably you’ll find that she doesn’t like it because she had everything bookmarked and now those pages don’t exist!

    26. Sam*

      This is the first time I’ve ever left a comment on AAM because I’m doing this exact same project on a larger scale!
      Sometimes I come across similar staff who are stuck with how they used to like it. I usually write a really kind email- including the following points
      1. The opportunity for structure changes was in July/December when I sent around the draft architecture.
      2. I appreciate you bringing up your difficulty. Feedback helps me pinpoint if there’s an issue with the structure, or if staff education needs to happen. Can I give you personalized tour and show you the logic behind how things are laid out? (And genuinely consider if they have a point! I’ve made some blunders before, because I had a different viewpoint than the business area responsible for the information.)
      3. I often do a “tour” that I screen record and send them the link. It explains the changes,
      4. I tell them to let me know if they have trouble finding something and rather than sending them the correct link- I walk them through the process of finding it themselves each time. (This seems like a time waster, but in the long run they stop calling you. If you just give the links, they learn to just email you every time they need something. 9 times out of 10, they HAVEN’T EVEN LOOKED. They just looked at the page frustrated because it was DIFFERENT)

      and then, for more severe case like this I might mention to the whomever runs the staff meeting agenda- “Glenda has mentioned a few times that she has trouble finding stuff on the new site. Can I have ten minutes on the next agenda for a pulse check? If there’s wider interest, I’m happy to do a tutorial with folks who need a bit more handhold and introduce them to the new site.”

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        Thanks for the comment, Sam. I am honored to be your first :) Thank you for those structure points and ideas. I really appreciate it. The “tour” idea would be great especially when we are onboarding new members to show them our website. Like “Welcome to organization, here is the staff, here is where you can find things” kind of video.

    27. Chaordic One*

      I feel sorry for your coworker. It’s not clear to me what kind of “feedback” you think she should have provided, but she very likely was overwhelmed with other aspects of her job and probably (irrationally) thought that, based on the existing website, which apparently worked very well for her (if for no one else) that things were fine and that you’d anticipate her needs. Also, she probably didn’t know how to express what she needed and couldn’t anticipate what you’d come up with. It can be hard to describe something that doesn’t yet exist

      When dealing with someone who is technophobic, an in person training session is preferable to a Teams meeting, even if the in-person session is not the greatest thing for you. As opposed to FAQs, you might want to provide her with a personalized set of instructions detailing how to access the specific info that she needs to get to most often. And do be thorough. Although I shouldn’t be,when using FAQs I am always surprised at what they leave out, usually one critical piece of information or one step that I need to be able to use the program.

      Also be sympathetic of anything that adds additional steps or clicks to what she needs to access. Although not intentional on your part, she may indeed have legitimate complaints about the redesign. Finally, I wouldn’t worry about her complaining to the board. It really sounds like she’ll probably be dismissed as a crank.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        Thank you for your feedback.

        So she does quality related work, so I asked her to review the sub tabs underneath the quality tab.

        We unfortunately will be working remotely until at least the New Year, and I’m doubtful that she will ever return to the office as she has several comorbidities after a heart attack 7 years ago.

  3. Moth*

    I was wondering if anyone had experience at changing careers during inopportune times. Specifically, after a lot of years waiting and planning, I’ve decided to pursue becoming a single parent by choice this year. I’m excited, but also know that it’s going to influence my career choices differently. For example, while I don’t necessarily love my current job (to put it mildly), it’s very stable, has good parental leave benefits, and provides me lots of flexibility. So I’ve come to accept that I probably need to stay for at least the next year to get through procedures, pregnancy, etc. But at the same time, I’ve been working towards the possibility of changing careers shortly after that or even before if the right opportunity came along. It’s a pretty big jump, from working in the sciences to hopefully finance. Part of me feels like it would be smarter to put off pursuing single parenthood until any career changes are made, but I also know that it’s never going to be the best time and both can end up taking longer than expected.

    I guess my concern is two-fold: trying to change careers as a single parent in general while pregnant / with a young child and switching to a career field that has a reputation for being more conservative about these types of things. I guess I’m curious if anyone has experience at anything similar or advice they could lend.

    1. Oatmeal*

      If you switched careers after pregnancy, you can be as open or discreet as you want about *how* you became a single parent. If the other “parent” isn’t in the picture, I think most people will think you got divorced.

      I’m trans and transitioned after pregnancy. People think we adopted our child or used a surrogate. It’s none of their business unless I choose to talk about it, so that’s fine.

      As for the breaking into a new field thing: make plans and contingency plans for childcare (like when your kid is sick but has to stay home from daycare. Our kid stayed home 1-2X a month in her first year of preschool ). You’ll need it more than you’d think right now.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Yes, if the “conservative” concern is for the single-parent-status, totally agree. I very rarely discuss my personal life at work (for example, I have a hobby I am majorly into and travel often for, but maybe one office-friend even knows about it at all) and it has never been an issue. My coworkers usually know I have two kids (and they, being teens, have sometimes come by to say hi after school or meet me for lunch) but almost all would be hard-pressed to tell you their names. Other people are very open and discuss their personal lives at work, and that’s fine, but I have always kept a STRONG bright-line between work and personal and it has never ever been an issue, so if you just don’t mention anything about the process you took to become a parent, it shouldn’t come up (folks will just make assumptions that you are married or divorced) and if someone has the sheer gall to ask outright, you can practice replying with “I prefer not to discuss my relationship history at work :-). What did you think of the CEO’s latest announcement? [or other Topic Change]”.

      2. Me*

        No advice on switching careers per se but some on being a working single parent. I was always a single parent/never partnered. I choose my field for it’s benefits and flexibility because making it to every soccer game and being able to leave for a school event was important to me. I forwent salary in this respect. For others perhaps salary and less flexibility was the right combo. Some jobs may be unicorns and offer it all. My point is know what is important to you in a job as a single parent before looking regardless of what industry you choose.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      There is never going to be a perfect time, there is only now! You didn’t mention what area of finance you were considering, but most larger firms have benefits that cover parental leave, healthcare, and more. My previous job offered childcare benefits which included discounts and pre tax savings for daycare. Good luck!

    3. Not in US*

      So I don’t have the experience of doing this as a single parent – but my spouse does travel a lot (pre COVID). I went back to school when my oldest was 8 months old to allow the career switch. I did make the change successfully but I also took a mommy-tracked job in my new profession – and I’ve openly said that at work, because its the kind of place you can.

      Nothing, and I mean, nothing, could prepare me for the first year of motherhood (and I tried – I read everything). I would suggest you think about and consider how family friendly the industry you are moving into is. If you are starting out and its not family friendly, this is going to be really hard – probably. I don’t do well without sleep, I had a baby who slept well – and I was still a mess. Obviously, YMMV but I would consider the trade offs. Do you have a support network?

      When I started at my company – my oldest was almost 2. It can be done, but it really really depends on the details.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. If you have a family supportive environment where you are, consider delaying the change until you have the baby and have weathered the transition to motherhood. It is hard enough being a parent with a partner to absorb some of the demand — it is really hard doing it alone. Being in a secure place while you get your single motherhood sorted will make it all so much easier. Lots of changes in life at once is difficult regardless — reduce those as much as you can when embarking on starting your family. Once you have it under control tackle the next big challenge.

        1. Quinalla*

          I did not change fields, but I did wait to change jobs until my kids were out of the “get no sleep” newborn phase. I delayed a little longer because I also broke my hip, but once I was recovered, I started job searching as I was stagnant at my last place. But being somewhere where I could do the work “in my sleep” was nice for when I wasn’t getting any sleep, was pumping breastmilk, etc. Kids always take time, but once they get 12-18 months (depending how bad they sleep, my first was AWFUL, I slept way better with my twins I had after her) you don’t feel like such a zombie anymore. You don’t have to delay, but their are advantages.

          And yeah, others have said make sure you have support in place for childcare backup, carpooling when she is older, etc. The kind of stuff you often rely on a partner for if married/partnered, but even with a partner, I still rely on those things, you’ll need them even more.

      2. Natalee*

        As a first-time mom to a 9 month old, whole-heartedly agree. I have tons of support at home and I’m still struggling hard! It’s finally starting to get a little easier this past month, but the sleep deprivation alone made me a less efficient employee. Luckily my employer is family-friendly, and since I’ve been working here for 5 years pre-baby, small mistakes get written off as “just a mistake” rather than a judgment on how I am in general as an employee.

    4. Nassan*

      I would not recommend to do both at once – parenthood is very consuming even if you have an easy baby (no guarantees here), a partner and support structure. The only exception – if you’re changing to much more family friendly environment. You probably have good reasons for deciding for parenthood – enjoy your baby, their development and first milestones. No judgement to anyone who decides differently, just in my opinion work can wait, but baby’s first year passes by so quickly.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Would it be relevant to consider an interim step at the same employer?
      Product knowledge can be extremely valuable to the marketing & business development side of a large engineering & manufacturing company, for example.

    6. PollyQ*

      You may be pleasantly surprised about the financial services industry. I worked for an old-school Boston insurance company back in the 90’s, and no one there would’ve cared that you were a single parent by choice. I have to think in 2020, in most regions of America, it’s just not going to be much of an issue.

      As to whether you should simultaneously change career and become a single parent — eh, I’m not a parent, but it sure looks like mighty hard work, esp. for single parents. My recommendation is to work on having the kid, and then see how much energy you have for a career change.

  4. Anonymous Educator*

    Does anyone else crowd-source salaries from your industry but not specifically your co-workers?

    I do believe in the power of employees sharing salaries. I just find it kind of awkward to be like “Hey, I make this much. How much do you make?” to someone I work directly with.

    That said, I’m on mailing lists and online forums for my specific field, and as “co-workers” across companies, we’ve often done salary surveys (through just a Google Form or whatever), and I have found those immensely helpful to get a sense of “the market,” much more so than Glassdoor or other generic sites.

    1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

      Yes, all the time. Usually while chatting at industry events (in the Before Times), or by various listservs. I’ve never found it awkward to just ask, “hey, what’s your benefit package looking like over at Llama Incorporated?” I know most people aren’t comfortable with sharing exactly what they’re making, but almost everyone is happy to discuss it in general terms.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      That makes sense to me, tbh. I’d have no problem telling a coworker what I make (and have had those discussions plenty of times!) but it feels very overbearing for me to ask someone else the same question. It feels…. intrusive? I suppose. But I don’t find it intrusive if someone else asks me my salary (in the right discussion)!

      I prefer the anonymous surveys. I think that more people would be willing to fill those out, which means you could get better data.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yep. I think my co-lead and I are probably a bit overpaid for our role, but they’re constantly grumbling about how they don’t make enough. I don’t ask how much they actually make, and I also don’t point out that if they didn’t support multiple of their unemployed children, children’s unemployed SOs and grandchildren their salary would probably go farther. Because none of that is a conversation I want to get involved with. So I just look at the salary survey on our professional organization, which is where I conclude that we’re definitely paid on the high end of things.

    4. Raising an otter villiage*

      I’m in my first job out of undergrad, and I will always be grateful to the low/mid level manager (in a very different department from me) who, in my first week, casually told me what she made and how she negotiated for it. It gave me such great insight into how the organization works. Since then I’ve done something similar with a coworker at my exact level and we both expressed how much of a relief it was to be able to talk openly about it.

      I assume it will only get more complicated as I rise in the ranks, but having someone be upfront with me really made a world of difference and helped set a standard where I’m upfront with my peers.

      1. Searching*

        Can you share what she told you? I would love to hear more than the usual negotiating tactics when fielding a new job offer.

    5. Summersun*

      I use professional society surveys and BLS statistics, rather than individual data points. I got burned helping a peer this way, and I won’t do it again.

    6. Mazzy*

      No, I know the consensus here is that it useful, and I totally get that, but only for certain jobs. For me, I don’t feel it’s very useful information – for my situation, just because people with similar titles do different work.

      My issue with the websites is that I don’t see them updating the #s for inflation. I put up a # years ago and the same salary is still there, but in today’s dollars, it would be almost $10K more over just a decade. Yes, 2%-3% inflation every year can compound to be alot of money and you don’t even realize it until you look at your bank statements from only a few years ago and everything seems to cheap. That is only going to get worse as years go on.

    7. rageismycaffeine*

      100%. My professional org conducts a salary survey every two years and it’s very helpful. But there’s serious limitations to it that I raised while serving on a committee this year, and I’ve been told they intend to make more changes to it to make it more useful – for example, it shows a clear gender gap, but we’d also like to explore whether there are wage gaps tied to ethnicity, race, and nationality. There’s very clear trends of some regions paying significantly more than others, but no good way to compare cost of living across areas to see that what some of us suspect about wages in the Southeast being significantly suppressed compared to the rest of the country is about more than just “cost of living.” Etc. I think these kind of things are invaluable.

    8. Student*

      I’ve found that my comfort level with salary discussions with co-workers is this:

      If we’re talking about something closely-related, I will share my salary and then listen closely to the other person’s response.

      I don’t directly ask the co-worker what they make, and I don’t pressure them about it. I let them respond however they will to me sharing my salary info.

      I often get useful information by extending myself in this way. Sure, sometimes I get a poker face and no useful new salary intel. Sometimes, I get their salary number. More often, I get some useful clue that’s not a direct number – usually some statement that gives me a rough idea of whether our salaries are similar or not, and whether the other person thinks my salary is just for my perceived contribution.

  5. LimeRoos*

    Just got word from our HR director that we’re staying WFH until at least 01/2021. So relieved. They’ve been talking with people, and sent out a company wide survey just to see how we all feel and I’m so happy they decided to wait on going back into the office. Apparently we’ve all been kicking ass working from home so they’re not worried at all about it. Phew. Will also share that husband’s company is having everyone non-essential WFH until 05/2021 so that’s even better. Just super relieved and wanted to share some companies are getting it right and being careful right now.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s excellent. Similar thing happened at my workplace. We were originally set to go back September, but they’ve pushed it back to January.

      1. Artemesia*

        A lot of businesses are going to discover they can shift massive costs to the worker by doing it this way. And many workers are going to find that still a good deal. My daughter’s company has been WFH since she joined several years ago. They have a small office and conference room in a nearby suburb, but everyone works from home except when they are out with clients and visits to the office for meetings are rare. This of course saves massive money on rents and location costs. When this hit they already knew how to manage meetings gracefully on line and were able to adapt that to working with clients using a variety of tools that allowed them to build models and otherwise collaborate with their clients. They had the skills that others are scrambling to acquire. They are paid well and get some support for home based equipment and of course when COVID hit they were well positioned. A business that is not paying rent may be in a position to pay workers better and support their home office needs. I suspect many businesses will be rethinking this after COVID when they discover it can work well for them to WFH.

        1. Anita Brayke*

          I hope Artemesia’s comment comes true…I haven’t for the life of me been able to figure out why more companies don’t do WFH, and I have based my view on the fact that companies would save enormous money on real estate rental/purchase/whatever, not to mention utilities and other overhead costs. The only “maybe” thing I can think of is I wonder how an employee is ensured (like for safety reasons) while working from home. But I would think homeowners/renters insurance would step in there, so yeah.

          1. PollyQ*

            My expertise in worker’s comp insurance is that my dad worked in the field for many years, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that if you get injured while working, regardless of where it happens, worker’s comp covers the employee. Of course, most of the people WFH aren’t doing anything more dangerous than typing on a laptop (although repetitive stress injuries are no joke!).

    2. ThatGirl*

      My company announced the same; we have a skeleton crew in the office who need some specialized equipment but even they aren’t going in every day, I don’t think. Those of us who are able to work from home are encouraged to through the end of the year.

      It’s a little ironic, though, because last year when our new CEO took over there was a whole kerfuffle about nobody being able to regularly work from home…

      1. Artemesia*

        It is surprising how the ‘impossible’ and ‘impractical’ becomes the ‘necessary’ and then works out just fine.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      That’s such a relief. We are not going back to our main campus until sometime next year, and possibly never. We were originally going to return in September, but between the wildfires and the pandemic, they’ve decided to just wait until next year to decide.

    4. CJM*

      That is so great! The global IT company I retired from is also supporting WFH until at least January (according to two good friends who still work there), and so is the national supplier where my daughter works. I too am pleased to see that some companies are doing right by their employees.

      My daughter’s bosses recognized that she is MORE productive working from home, and she used that to negotiate a permanent WFH arrangement! I’m happy for her.

    5. LDN Layabout*

      Ours are going to start allowing people back in November apparently, but the message overall is that they still /want/ people working from home, but they want to give those who are struggling/do not have good home environments the opportunity to work from the office if they need to. Social distancing etc. must be adhered to and there will be enhanced cleaning going on.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s my company’s stance. We’re global, and some of our offices in the U.K., China, and South Korea have reopened – but they’re at less than 50% capacity. My company also reiterated that no one should be forced to go back into an office if they don’t feel safe, and those that can continue working from home with no issues should continue to do so so that others who need to come back into reopened offices for whatever reason (e.g., no real home office setup, spotty internet, loud noise, etc.) can do so without possible exposure.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Yeah we were already around 60% wfh due to the kind of work done by a big part of the org, but they’ve tried to stay very aware that it doesn’t work for everyone.

    6. WFH_queen*

      Working from home in the pandemic inspired me to take a fully-remote job. At first I hated it, but now I find it so quiet and calming, which i didn’t get in my open office. I’m sure it’ll be weird when (and if) others go back, but for now I am feeling lucky I found something that works and keeps me safe. My company that I am leaving was doing a great job, making it easy for essential lab personnel to get tested weekly, and letting all non-lab ppl work from home. I am proud of the company I am leaving and the one I am going to in this regard.

    7. Ali G*

      Great! We have no date. We can basically do whatever we want, we just have to work it out with our supervisor. My husband’s place will eventually go back full time, but they have no timetable (and it will probably be next year as well).

    8. Summersun*

      So envious. I work at a butts-in-seats company (doing a job that is considered weird to NOT be remote as industry-standard) and we just had a positive last week, so everyone is getting temp checks again.

      1. Anon2states*

        My workplace is despondent because they want us to come back next month in 2 week shifts. This, we think, is that they will know if one of us gets sick by the time our turn is up again (in between, we WFH). The company has zero empathy and an executive appeared shocked by the amount of “exorbitant” requests to WFH FT. All requests will be personally approved by the CEO (who owns the company with his family, he inherits it).
        We, too, are in an industry where it is common to WFH in the best of times, let alone a pandemic. Our clients are WFH. We are in a state that was hard hit in the first go-round by the pandemic and where the state is saying companies MUST allow people to WFH if they can.
        Meanwhile, we are still expected to not hold meetings with coworkers in the office and to keep using remote tools to talk to someone across the room. The few amenities that existed are being removed. They are not increasing sick time or any other benefits (basically if you get sick you are out of time). They are also doing forced PTO days.

        1. Eva Luna*

          This is idiotic given how many infected people are completely asymptomatic, yet completely capable of infecting others who are…not so lucky. But you knew that already.

    9. cmcinnyc*

      We starting back part-time in September–shuffling everyone around so there’s no more than 33% capacity. It is such a pain. But the top brass is weirdly rah-rah about it.

    10. Witty Nickname*

      My company found it’s been going so well, they have decided to make working from home permanent. We have a few essential workers who have to be in the office, but everyone else is able to work remotely. I’ve been doing it 100% for a few years now, and I love it. They did provide all of the equipment we’d need (laptops, monitors, printers, really nice headsets for conference calls), and they pay a small stipend each pay period to cover any other expenses.

    11. Epiphyta*

      Hey, that’s fantastic news! So happy for you both.

      Yesterday Spouse’s CEO announced that everyone is WFH until July of 2021, barring an effective vaccine being made generally available, and that post-pandemic the thinking is that folks would come into the office twice a week for in-person collaboration. He said he was making the announcement now so that people could make plans, ie “If you’ve been trying to work with your equipment on top of the washing machine and you’ve found a place outside the city limits that would give you more space, go for it”.

    12. Indy Dem*

      Kind of a mixed bag with my company. The official policy is that we are WFH indefinitely, basing the decision on both science (cases/deaths) and governmental policy (is the governor recommending WFH for all that can, what phase of re-opening are we). The office has been opened for a few months for volunteers (people who can’t WFH, or don’t want to, for whatever reason) but only to 25% capacity. But, if the science/gov policy changes and the office opens, we will only have 2 weeks notice about the change.

      Meanwhile, boss, grand-boss, and great-grand boss all have said that no matter what is the organization’s policy, our productivity has remained at a high level even fully WFH, so if the office opens up between now and the end of the year, we can remain WFH. Hopefully they have the pull to make that promise stick.

    13. Quinalla*

      Nice, we are in a similar boat – basically we aren’t required to come back until COVID is over and are in fact encouraged to WFH. No one is talking dates as we have no idea except that it isn’t anytime soon.

  6. Quill*

    How do you get your contract position made into a direct hire?

    I’ve been at this job for 1 year and 3 months, and people have been telling me for the last six that my department should just hire me outright, but they just keep renewing my contract instead.

    My friends working in the same industry (but in different types of roles) tell me that overall nobody gets hired where they are either. And in previous workplaces the pattern has been that nobody less senior than “manager” is a direct hire either.

    I don’t have time to accumulate another 5+ years experience before anyone wants to hire me for a job that actually has healthcare benefits and is stable enough for me to actually consider long term plans, and I’m not that optimistic that the 2020 election is going to give me the healthcare I need…

    So seriously, how, after singlehandedly managing the pandemic’s impact on one of our critical business functions, creating a new system for tracking our metrics, and covering for people who are more senior than me whenever needed, do I get my grandboss to say “yeah, we need to keep you.”?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      Talk to your manager. Sometimes, there is no budget or plan to hire a full time employee for certain roles. Ideally, they would tell you this when they brought you on, but some companies like to keep their contractors hanging, since they need someone long term, but can’t actually hire them.

      In Ye Olden Tymes, just being good at your job would get you hired on full time (the last time that was true was in the 90s). Now, business models are built around never hiring full time employees and utilizing contractors instead.

      When I got stuck in the perpetual contractor cycle, I spend 4 years looking for a direct hire position while working as a contractor. And it was sheer luck, too, because my current company went contract-only for my role shortly after I was hired.

      1. Lynn*

        ^This

        Sometimes, you can’t get your contract position converted. It’s not you, your skills, or that you didn’t do the right thing to push that process: sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You can only advocate for yourself so much; don’t let it feel like a personal failure if you do not get converted.

        Conversion vary widely by company. Look around your org. Are there many contractors? Do many contractors get converted? If not — the writing may be on the wall that your future is not with this company and you should focus on new opportunities instead of conversion.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      How honest can you be with your boss? Because currently it seems that there is zero motivation for them to take you on full time – they’re getting all of your wonderful achievements and contributions without having to pay you more/give you benefits/etc, why should they change? If you can be honest with your boss and tell them that you can’t continue to work contract forever and will need to search for a fulltime position, that might be the push they need to make a change. And if not, at least you’ll get some information about the chances of it actually happening (for good or bad) and can make a decision rather than floating around waiting for someone else to take action.

      There’s unfortunately a good chance that you’ll have to go elsewhere for a full-time position, you might want to start searching. And at least you have all of your current accomplishments (and accompanying recommendations) from your contract position to make you an attractive candidate elsewhere.

      Good luck! And I’m sorry, it sucks to be stuck in contract limbo.

      1. Artemesia*

        Don’t threaten this, just do it. It is really hard to get converted to full hire when they are getting your work without providing benefits. Adjuncts are virtually never hired as full time faculty; contractors are rarely hired full time. Why would they — they can get your work with less money and less commitment. So start looking for another job while making the case where you are for a full time hire; sometimes the confidence that a job search gives will subtly influence how you come across to your advantage — but don’t threaten to leave, just quietly make plans to do so when you get an opportunity.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Not only “they can,” they have decided this is the way they do your role in their company. Someone decided this at one point and is there is any justification to change it?

          Is your only “pro” for them that you want to an employee and would be happier and may stick around longer if they convert your position? That’s not really a strong benefit for them.

        2. Lora*

          Agree. I have never ever been converted from contract to full time unless they knew for a fact that I was setting up to leave them for another job, even when as a contractor they were paying more to the agency than they would have paid me to hire me direct. Sometimes it’s just politics and how things are structured within the company.

          Most recent job I was consulting and even though their PO system was so onerous and clunky that several times they ran out of money and I went to work on other projects for weeks until they could bring me back, they made a verbal offer and then couldn’t get me a paper offer until I told them, “you have until 3pm to get me a real offer letter. Then I need to tell another client that I will be going to their site in two days. I can’t wait forever, you are out of money on this PO.” Their HR system is just incredibly useless and disorganized at processing paperwork and getting offers out. Their easiest “replacement” contractor for me had long since quit for another job, they had no other options, and they still screwed around until 2pm that day. Literally the last hour.

          Just look around, find something permanent, and then let them be shocked. They might not even learn anything about the importance of relying on contractors…

    3. Red Tape Producer*

      As someone in the middle of this process, I can at least offer you advice on how to start (although, thanks to a change in my employers attitude now that our economy is in relaunch mode, I probably won’t be successful).

      The first, and most important step, is you need to get the request in as far up the ladder in your organization as possible. If the only direct hire is at management level, you should aim for at least senior/department manager level. If you can somehow get the ear of someone at the executive level, that’s your best bet. It’s difficult, and requires some networking that can be super uncomfortable if you’re an introvert like me, but really will give you a leg up. Usually if you company/organization has lots of contract staff it’s because someone way higher up likes it that way, so you need someone with clout or access to decision makers to plead your case.

      The second key is make sure you have a good argument prepared for your case. You need to show that remaining on contract is going to be a deal breaker for you, because you can get hired directly somewhere else, and that you will be really hard to replace if you go. I leveraged the fact that my manager is going on maternity leave near when my contract ends, that I am the only one in my entire branch that has a specific educational background, and that I am currently in the middle of leading a bunch of high priority projects. I also pointed out that other departments and different organizations are still hiring permanent staff, so I could just look for stable employment elsewhere.

      Hope that helps a bit!

    4. Ray Gillette*

      Leave.

      I don’t mean to be terse, but this organization has pretty clearly shown that as long as they can get away with keeping you as a contractor, they will. And your friends in the same industry are telling you the same thing? The writing is on the wall, friend. This isn’t your fault and you deserve better.

    5. Joielle*

      My spouse was in this position a few years ago and was only hired after he got a competing offer at a different company. He definitely preferred not to leave, but would have taken the other offer if his current company hadn’t hired him directly. Luckily, once the threat of him leaving was concrete, the company quickly realized they couldn’t afford to lose him and he was hired on within a week, paperwork complete and everything.

      At his company, though, it’s pretty common for contractors to be converted to direct hires, and most departments have a mix of both. It’s a little concerning that your industry seems to be mostly contractors until you get to the higher levels. I’d start looking in adjacent industries if I were you. Easier said than done, of course, but benefits are important!

    6. Student*

      By looking for and applying to a new job that is a direct hire position, instead of waiting for the boss to notice and value you appropriately. If your industry just doesn’t hire people right now, then it’s time to look for a new industry. I’m sorry. I know that’s easy to say and hard to do.

      The company has no loyalty to you, and has stated this as clearly as possible in the way that matters most to them – in $$$. Why are you loyal to it?

      Alternatively, up your rates in your contract at the next renewal so you can afford appropriate healthcare benefits. Site your experience and familiarity with the role and the value you’ve added as reasons why the rates are going up.

    7. Summersun*

      It’s hard, and it depends on whether you are a direct contractor or through a temp agency. If you are through an agency, you need to hit the timing just right, because they will probably have to pay an early release fee if they convert you off-cycle.

      You do mention that they keep renewing–what is your role in that process? Every renewal should technically be a new negotiation, so you just blindly accepting the same terms over and over again is part of the problem.

      1. Coalea*

        Years ago I was a contractor through a temp agency. When I interviewed with the company where I was placed, they indicated that they converted contractors to employees all the time (this turned out to be false). Then when I was signing my contract, it turns out that the agency mandated a washout period – meaning that you weren’t allowed to accept a permanent position with the company for a certain period after your contract ended (3 or 6 months, I can’t remember). The company used a ton of contractors and treated them like second class citizens. I was glad when my contract expired and I moved on to a permanent position elsewhere!

    8. SunnySideUp*

      I think it’s way more about the corporate culture, pay scales and benefits than anything you can do to drive it forward.

      I was in a similar spot, itching to be made perm, and it never happened. When I left, I gave that insecurity as my reason.

      Months later, they started converting EVERYONE to full time. However, I heard that they offered a salary with the comment, Take it or leave it.

      It sucks and I’m sorry.

    9. Katrinka*

      How are they paying for you – where do they get the money for your salary? Do they sell a good or service that they directly bill for? What kind of work are you doing – are you working on something that they do for one specific customer? Basically, if they are paying your salary out of a contract they have or because you’re working for one specific customer of theirs, they’re most likely not going to hire you on. Because when that contract goes or that customer no longer needs the work, they have no way to pay you. Think government contractors, this is exactly how they operate – upper levels are hires (because they run things, submit proposals and negotiate), everyone else is under contract. If the government contract they’re operating under gets renewed and if they win the rebid, they renew your contract. If not, then they either cut you loose or try to find another contract to put you on (if they like your work).

  7. PX*

    Different kind of question for the thread today: whats the best thing a boss/manager has done to help you succeed?

    I recently started a new job and it got me reminiscing: even though it felt so awkward at the time, my first job out of uni, my manager would always compliment me on things I did well. Even though they felt like really basic things to me (crafting an email clearly, handling a difficult moment with customers etc etc), he would always point them out. Turns out positive (specific!) feedback and giving someone the confidence that they are good at what they are doing can really stay with a person!

    So what things has a manager done that you look back on now and think: that really helped set me up for success?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      So many things…

      Acting as buffer against higher-up bureaucracy
      Playing up my strengths while trying to amend my weaknesses
      Trying to get me approvals for things
      Trying to get me raises without me asking for them
      Not making signing up for, paying for, and going to conferences difficult
      Approving all vacation time requests (barring extreme circumstances)

      1. PX*

        Oooh. The buffer against bureacracy is a good one. I got some good and bad habits from boss #1 when it came to bureacracy so its always one I try to be mindful of!

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this, especially your second point. My now former manager was great at this. Every meeting we’d have with executive level colleagues, he’d be sure to talk me up and make me sound like the smartest person in the room. He would also sometimes give me credit for ideas that weren’t even necessarily mine, lol. Because of this, executives at my company come directly to me with questions or requests for writing help, which makes me look like a superstar to leadership at the C-suite level.

      3. allathian*

        All of the above. Also, allowing me to use working hours for a professional certificate I’m taking, even though we have a very generous vacation and PTO policy and very flexible working hours.

    2. blepkitty*

      When she needed me to do something differently, presenting it to me as simply as possible and focusing more on what change is needed than my mistake. There’s such a huge difference between, “Hey, please do it x way next time” and “We really appreciate you, but you’re doing y, and here are the 50 different reasons why y is bad”–the latter, which I’ve gotten from bosses, makes it feel like they’re really upset that I did the thing wrong and focuses my attention on my mistake.

      1. Watry*

        I always love this. It allows me to treat it as a process change and reassures me that it’s not a huge, job-threatening deal, since I work in a job where mistakes can be a enormous problem and I have anxiety.

    3. JustaTech*

      I don’t know if it’s really “setting me up for success” but when my group manager changed (one was demoted and another from within the group was promoted) the new manager saw my salary (I’d just come from academia) and was horrified how low it was compared to the industry standard and immediately got me a significant raise. Which was very nice!

      My current manager is always willing to be a buffer with the higher-ups and has been super supportive of me wanting to go to conferences. The really interesting thing he does is use one of his weaknesses to my advantage: he’s very conflict-adverse, and I’m not nearly as much so, so he (gently) pushes me to be in charge of projects where he knows he’d just roll over. But he doesn’t leave me to swing in the wind with the higher ups. (I guess he’s more assertive when he’s supporting his people than when it’s just him?)

      1. PX*

        Oooh. The fact that he can acknowledge his own weaknesses is great, and if you want – taking charge of projects like those are a great way to get resume fodder and build a case for promotions!

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        When I came to industry from academia, my (now-current) boss asked my salary expectations – and when I answered, he said “Have you already told HR that number? Don’t worry, I’ll fix it.” And he did. The offer was 22% higher than what I’d asked for. That made an impression!

        Doubly so because I’d had an interview in academia two days earlier, had given a lower number for a MUCH more senior job, and was treated like I’d asked for three firstborn children and a llama. (Dude, I’m sorry, but what you need is a senior data scientist who is also a PhD-level cancer immunologist…and I’m a lot cheaper than someone who’s truly all of the above would be!)

        1. kt*

          Sounds so familiar. I think my manager played a similar role but *with* HR — I came to industry from academia and asked for 1.75 * academic salary, and the nice HR person (in concert with my boss and the stats on equity/parity, I’m sure) came back with 2 * ac salary. I have been very happy with the company for their approach to both this, to salary adjustments, and to coronavirus, so… yay employee retention, I guess!

    4. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I was actually struggling a LOT in my last job and my supervisor not only worked with me 1:1, but tried to find out my interests/strengths and encouraged me to job-shadow in other departments in the company to see if something else would work better for me. She even had me do a strengths-finder assessment! In the end, I did end up leaving the company, but I was so sad that it didn’t work out! It was truly a great company, but there was nothing available for me that I was well-suited for. I’d go back in a heartbeat if there was an opening that was a good fit! I have nothing but good things to say about them. (This company also had me do a WONDERLIC test during my first interview, which I thought was kinda neat, but some people might not enjoy that!)

    5. No Tribble At All*

      Bought the whole team noise-canceling headphones when Upper Management moved us to an open-plan office.

      1. PX*

        Haaa. Fun fact, I’ve always worked in open plan offices – but the culture has generally been good about people respecting noise levels. So I’m kiiiiind of glad that new job has most people working from home right now because the behaviour I’ve seen the few times I’ve been in this open plan office make me think I would have needed noise cancelling headphones too!

    6. Animal worker*

      Years back I had a boss who was coaching me on some communication issues I had challenges with. This could have been done negatively – tearing me down, or neutrally – pointing out an area needing improvement. Instead she approached it so incredibly positively and constructively – basically saying that I had so many great qualities and could go so far in my career – but, that this aspect would hold me back if I didn’t improve. And she budgeted money for me to work one on one with a communication coach to help me work on specific strategies to improve.

      I think a combination of her incredibly supportive way of handling this, plus my being at a point mentally where I was ready to hear it and work on my weaknesses, made this a really pivotal time in my career. I went from having almost every review discuss a need for better communication diplomacy and tact to having this called out as a strength. It’s still an area I struggle with if I’m stressed or don’t pay enough attention, but this supervisor’s approach to it was literally life-changing for me.

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      My favorite bosses have been really good at helping me set priorities. It’s inevitable that I will have 8 things on my to-do list and bandwidth for maybe 5. They can tell me what’s important and/or urgent, what needs to be perfect and what needs a band-aid fix, what’s got a defined solution and what needs to be improvised, etc. They do not pull the “well everything’s important” card, they have a reasonable idea of what one human can get done, and they run interference with the people whose requests have ended up in the “maybe next month” bracket.

      Also? “Thank you” is free, and unreasonably effective, at least on me. If I know you appreciate me and think I’m capable of good work, I will go out of my way to prove you right.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^The power of a good, basic and authentic, thank you! OMFG YES. BossMan is known for his management style of “thank sincerely and thank often [and often publicly]” and people are always trying to get assigned to work with him (not just for this reason but it’s definitely a piece of it). I ADORE working with him and SAME, if I think you appreciate me and believe in my capability, I will climb mountains to keep that true.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, my first corporate office job boss had his flaws but I could go to him and say “I have these two urgent tasks, which should I do first?” and he’d not only tell me “do x or y,” he’d explain why he said that, so I could learn to prioritize them on my own.

        1. allathian*

          This is so important. All the bosses I remember fondly were good coaches. My current one is a great boss, but she thinks I don’t really need much coaching at this point in my career, and I agree. I’m happy to learn new processes or new software when necessary, but I’m pretty senior in my role, so I’ve learned to set priorities pretty well. That said, I’m always happy when my boss has my back.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      A lot of what was said above:

      -going to bat for me with VP

      -giving me really good feedback, and delivering “bad” feedback in a way that didn’t make me feel like a failure at life.

      -giving me opportunities to strengthen my position. During an evaluation in 2016 I had mentioned I wanted to move up to management eventually….so he started helping me, giving me more and more opportunities to show and hone my leadership skills until I was promoted to manager in 2019.

      -admitting his own mistakes and flaws and being open to my suggestions/critiques.

      -basically being an all around good person IMO

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      My last manager let me work on projects that were a little outside the normal scope of my job. He also encouraged employee development, and put his money where his mouth was by paying for a few of us to attend additional training classes (including travel,
      hotel, and paid time off for the 3 days of the course).

    10. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My first job as a software developer was at a very small company. When I was hired, my boss told me “My goal is to teach you everything I know, then help you find a new job somewhere else where you can use what you’ve learned here.” It was a great first job in the field (especially since I was still working on my degree at the time).

    11. Colette*

      My first post-university boss was a firm believer in planning (including contingency), and very calm when things went wrong. He and I were personally very different (especially sense of humour) but I learned so much from him!

    12. Lynn*

      Recognizing good work (especially when it’s not part of normal duties) and apologizing for weird asks–our org leadership is particularly messy, and while I don’t expect my boss to fight every bizarre ask, it is nice that it is acknowledged that it is bizarre.

    13. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

      Being protective of my (and the collective team’s) time! My first manager and boss were so so so good at this. Haven’t had anything like it since, but it set a standard for me.

      In practice this looked like my manager immediately shutting down unreasonable project requests from other teams and external stakeholders and reminding them of my team’s turn around timeline. Or, depdending on the task, giving external stakeholders whatever she or I could reasonably accomodate given the constraints. She’d always make a point to tell me to do whatever I could within those constraints and nothing more. This kept me (and likely her) very sane.

      My manager also reguluarly reminded me that I truly am free to leave at the end of the working day. If she saw that I was working after hours on an urgent project, she’d flat out tell me that she’d advocate for an extension or that I could wrap up the work the following day.

      Genuine feedback was mentioned before, but it’s a really key one for me. First manager was good at this too initially—always told me what, exactly, was good and what she liked. Perfunctory thank yous are a huge workplace pet peeve of mine.

    14. Kara S*

      When I was still pretty entry level (a year into my position, 2 years into the industry), my boss was fired. When my new one came in, he looked at my salary + reviews and immediately gave me a raise because I was severely underpaid. I was too new to know how salary worked so I was really happy to have someone do that for me!

    15. LunaLena*

      My first manager in my field made me understand why being professional is important, and I honestly believe it’s a big reason I get praise for quality work. Our team used to go out to lunch together once a week, and one day I was really hungry, but we were waiting for the manager to finish an ad he was working on so we could go. In my impatience, I said “why not just do it all anyhow? No one will notice.” He just looked at me and said “Because that wouldn’t be professional.” Even now, 15+ years later, any time I find myself starting to slack a little too much, I can hear him saying that and try to focus harder on doing it right.

      My current boss encourages me to develop new skills and learn new technology, to the point of sending me on my first work travel experience – going to an industry-related convention. She is also great about finding resources that she thinks will help me and my co-workers, both professionally and personally. When I was going through some really bad things in my personal life last year, she found me information about EAP and told me to take as much time off as I needed to get through it. This was my first job where such help was available to me, so having someone help me navigate through it was invaluable in so many ways.

    16. Student*

      My boss told me, in a single annual review conversation, these two things:
      (1) I was a great employee, one of the best in his department.
      (2) He needed to put me on a PIP, because the department had a PIP quota to hit and he figured I’d be the easiest one to inflict it on, out of his group of employees.

      That conversation made it really, really easy for me to see that I needed to change jobs if I wanted to make progress in my career. There was no way to get ahead, so I was just being stubborn by staying and trying to figure out their system. They didn’t value me.

      So, I started applying for jobs. Got a new job in a different part of our industry and my career started taking off.

        1. Hosta*

          There are large companies in the US that require a certain percentage of employees receive an “unsatisfactory” review and an improvement plan.

          1. UK Civil Servant*

            “Rank and yank” where the lowest performing 10% say are put on PIPs or just plain fired. Regardless of whether it’s a really well performing team/department/business (where the bottom 10% are still pretty good). It’s been shown to be counterproductive bad practice, and anyone with any sense abandoned it.
            Still they instituted it in the UK civil service a couple of years back… completely predictably it was a clusterfudge.

    17. Turquoisecow*

      My boss who gave me meaningful and challenging assignments and trusted me to get them done. Sometimes I’d need a bit more help than I think he wanted, but he knew if he gave me a task that I’d figure it out and he didn’t have to worry. The boss after him kept all the interesting work for himself and I practically had to beg for things to do, while at the same time he complained constantly about how busy and swamped he was. Nice guy, but couldn’t manage for beans.

    18. Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould*

      Making sure I am acknowledged for my good work. Seems like a small thing, but I had a couple of bosses that would take credit for my work, or refer to something that I had done on my own as our department’s work. My current boss always makes it a point–particularly on projects that are large, or high-visibility–to say “Lady Vespasia deserves the credit for this great work” or something similar and I so much appreciate that.

    19. Sparrow*

      Gave me interesting projects that should’ve gone to someone at a higher level, because he was confident I’d excel at them. Working on those projects massively advanced my career and made me excited about work for the first time ever. And, equally important, he actually listened to me and took action when I said that I had too much to do. Some of my original administrative tasks were constantly back-burnered because I didn’t have time for everything and they had a much, much smaller impact than the new projects. Within a couple of hours of our conversation, he’d reassigned those tasks and wanted to talk about other tasks I could off-load.

    20. Nessun*

      When my boss moved to a new role, he recognized how well we work together and offered me the choice of continuing to work with him or retaining my own existing role. I appreciated that he was giving me the choice – it solidified our working relationship, and I had the opportunity to decide to stay with something I was really good at (and he told me who I’d been working for and what she was like as a peer to him), and the opportunity to try out something new, but with a respected boss and known team. I chose the new chance, and it’s been great.

      The second time he moved roles, he assumed I wanted to stay with him, since we’d been openly chatting about how I enjoyed new challenges. When he realized that for the role I was in, I was underpaid, but the company couldn’t change my rate based on our level system, he created a new position, asked me to apply, and put the pay range at a level higher. I got the job, and it’s been really interesting – yet again, I’ve got new opportunities and learning I never would have had (plus a better salary!!).

    21. topscallop*

      My current boss pushed for and fully supported my promotion, into an area that I wanted to grow in, even though it meant having to bring on new and more junior people to support her in filling parts of my previous role. She did this because she wanted to see me grow professionally and have more opportunities, even though it made her life more difficult (the people who were supposed to pick up those functions have not worked out well thus far).

      Also, I like working with her because she sets clear expectations and lets you know if you’ve met them or not. If yes, she gives credit and talks you up. If no, she gives feedback on what to fix and a chance to do so. SO much better than my previous boss at my last job, who would tell me everything I did was great, but then redo it herself right in front of me. I had a major crisis of confidence in that job.

    22. anon24*

      I’m in a field where I work very independently. My company has multiple locations and I can go days without seeing my boss or any leadership. I’m expected to come in, clock in on time, do my job, and go home. My boss is always available over the phone. When I was new my boss at the time told me to never hesitate to call him with questions. He said “I’d rather answer 50 ‘stupid’ questions than fix one big mistake, so don’t feel like you’re bothering me.” That was really helpful and really set me up to not feel like I shouldn’t be calling him about stuff because I’d be interrupting.

    23. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Trusting me to do my job but also trusting in my instincts, it taught me how to do a real good gut check on things. They trusted my gut, why shouldn’t I?

    24. Moth*

      In one of my first jobs, I was in a customer-facing role (and one where we would have repeated interactions with the same customers for days to weeks at a time). Pretty early on, I made a decision regarding something for a customer and it was apparently different than what my boss would have decided. She unwaveringly supported my decision to the customer, then afterwards, she explained privately to me what a better option would have been. She then told me explicitly that she would always back up my decisions in front of customers, even if she didn’t fully agree. Obviously, if I made a catastrophically bad choice she wouldn’t, but she understood that in the role, being able to make decisions that neither she nor the customers undermined was critical.

      It gave all of us in that role the confidence to work independently. And of course, the other key in that was that she trained everyone well and then would give that input after an interaction if we needed to do something different next time. 18 years after she told me that, I still remember it as one of the fundamental leadership skills I’ve learned: train your employees well and then back them up!

    25. Anabel*

      To quote a mentor I talked to last week, looked at their calendar to figure out what meetings I should be in and what meetings/projects I could eventually own. And then introducing me positively to the decision makers and stakeholders.

      I’m a woman and tech and sometimes have to deal with unconcious bias. Having a manager who says something like “This is Anabel, she’ll be taking over responsiveness project, her background in site optimization makes her great for this and I’m sure she’ll do great!” is super helpful because it gives me credibility right away.

    26. Belgian*

      My first interim manager told us that everyone is replaceable. His contract wasn’t being renewed and we were all really upset because we weren’t sure how we would manage without him, but he told us we would be fine because everyone is replaceable, even he. This has made it a lot easier for me to move on from jobs when I felt it was time, without feeling guilty that I was abandoning coworkers that I liked.

  8. blepkitty*

    Is there any limit to how many issues one should bring up regarding their supervisor in performance reviews? And does it make a difference if you’re expecting a negative review?

    For background, my current supervisor is new to supervision, and she’s not good at it. Our annual reviews are approaching, and I’d like to bring up some of the many things I need from her to do my job better. For example, when she sends me an assignment, she doesn’t give me anywhere near the amount of context that I know she asks for from clients (sometimes i’m included in the meetings, sometimes not, and I don’t know why). But she’s also prone to defensiveness and misunderstanding when I try to bring these things up in the moment, so I’m not even sure how much good it would do. To further complicate things, she doesn’t seem to be happy with me as an employee, to the point that I’m expecting a negative review.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Have you tried bringing these things up outside of “in the moment”? Like in a less-formal-than-review “can we discuss my workflow and potential better ways for us to work together” meeting? If you haven’t, I would definitely suggest this as a first step. (FWIW, I did this recently with a boss; I started off with a whole bunch of “here are some things I slipped on and ideas I have on how to improve” before I turned to [said more nicely but very directly] “your tone towards me is terrible and makes me think you believe I am an idiot, which I am not, and wastes a lot of time when I then need to spend hours replying to your emails to defend the choices I have made, and this is not conducive to a good working relationship” [actually….said almost exactly like that]. It was a very productive discussion and has made a big difference for both of us.)

      1. blepkitty*

        Hmm. This week I tried sending an email following up on one point in a conversation we had. She hasn’t responded.

        (The longer context: she gave me an assignment on Thursday, with the only mention in the email about the deadline being, “Please let me know if you can’t get this done by COB Friday.” I sent the work to her at COB Friday. I had a planned leave day Monday, and came in Tuesday to edits from her on the document. Since she often reviews my work before allowing me to send it to the client, I assumed that the Friday deadline had been for *her*, and I took my time on Tuesday making the edits, because a. I had nothing else urgent and b. I’m honestly afraid to send her things because she’s a perfectionist.

        Tuesday afternoon we had a call, during which she voiced frustration about how long the whole thing had taken me, and she mentioned that the client had wanted the document ASAP. If I’d known that, I would’ve made the edits more quickly, so I thought I should tell her that.
        Me: It would’ve been nice if you’d give me context.
        Her, incredulous: What context? That the *deadline* was *Friday*?
        [In the same meeting, she told me to go back through the document and underline a bunch of things that she could’ve told me to underline in the first go-round of edits.]

        Between her tone and her also being upset with my speed, I was too upset to correct her. So I followed up Wednesday via email explaining that the context I meant was that the Friday deadline was for the client, not her. I have not heard back.)

        1. Ginger Baker*

          I would definitely not have this conversation via email – or in an “in the moment” call, because you want to be prepared and ready to discuss the bigger issues. Personally, I would strongly suggest (after scheduling a call specifically to discuss this) opening with an acknowledgement of where you took too long, should have realized, etc. Not because there is no fault on her side here, but because in opening with an apology on your side, you are less likely to come across as defensive and unwilling to own your mistakes, and also less likely to get *her* reacting defensively. Only after some of that would I get into that – and I do feel you need to touch on this directly – you are afraid to send her things because you are concerned that it will “never be right” in her eyes and that part of what slows you down is your constant re-reviewing to try and catch everything you think she might change (but that you don’t always know what those things are – like the underlining – so it actually isn’t fruitful). It’s important to address this directly because if you remain uncomfortable sending things to her, this is going to continue to create a lot of problems for both of you. And, it’s very possible she knows she is a perfectionist, KNOWS you cannot possibly send her a 100% correct draft, and fully expects that there will be three full draft exchanges for any given work product….but you won’t know this if you don’t get it out on the table to discuss.

          You might also try suggesting that you work through a couple of draft documents together so you can get a better sense of her changes; that you clearly build in draft-exchange-and-revision time into the timeline (for instance, you can then reply to things like the Friday deadline statement with “great, so I will get you the first draft by Tuesday so we have time for revisions to be done Wednesday and Thursday and get a final by Friday morning”) [re-read and realized this was a day-before thing but you know what I mean].

          As a note, I would really sit and think why you framed her response to your comment re context as something that you should “correct her” on – instead of something you could “explain”. I know that seems like a nitpicky thing to say, but I think it says something about your view of the whole interaction. While I totally understand why you interpreted her statement of “let me know if you can’t get done by COB Friday” as meaning the client deadline was [not Friday]…I don’t think it was an *error* on her part at all, and if anything, since you were planning to take Monday off, I strongly feel you should have replied right away with something like “as a reminder, I am not in the office Monday. Is this fine with any revisions you have being done Tuesday, or do we need to move the timeline up?” Because it’s not a big ask to expect that you would consider that – if your boss wanted time to review – the client *deadline* might be Monday, a day you were planning to be out and thus not able to make edits, and something you should plan around.

          I hope this is helpful to you; if not please disregard, but fwiw I have been through some similar things and have rebuilt trust in work relationships after being on a PIP and these comments come from my hard-won experience.

          1. blepkitty*

            I’m not going to quibble over my wording, because you’re right that error is the wrong word, but you’ve misunderstood the same thing she misunderstood about my request for context about the deadline. I don’t know what I’m explaining wrong, but I knew the deadline was Friday—I just didn’t know *whose deadline it was*—i.e. I didn’t know if she needed to send it to the client by COB Friday or if she needed it by COB Friday so that she would be able to look it over before sending it to them at some later date.

            And I sent the original document to her at the deadline, so there was nothing to apologize for and no reason to think I hadn’t known about the Friday deadline at all (it also wasn’t a matter of me lollygagging; in the short time I had to work on it Thursday afternoon, I figured out that it was a heftier task than she thought and got right on it Friday morning. I still had to skip my lunch break to meet the deadline. I did tell her that it had taken longer than the five hours max she expected.)

            The problem is that she told me to get it done by Friday, but then, the Monday *after* the deadline, she sent me corrections to complete with no comment regarding a new deadline, and she hadn’t sent the document to the client yet. That’s behavior more in line with the thought that she’d asked me to get it done in advance of the actual deadline so she could request edits, especially when she knew I was out of the office on Monday. So I took my time Tuesday making the edits and trying to make the document look as good as possible so I wouldn’t have to edit it a second time.

            1. Esmeralda*

              But if you KNOW she doesn’t give you context, don’t assume she’s given you context.

              Just automatically ask about the context every time.

              You can frame it as, let me clarify this for myself, or, let me make sure we’re on the same page.

              So if it’s a deadline, ALWAYS ask: Is the Friday deadline for my draft, or does it need to be in final form for the client? If it’s for the draft, I’ll work on revisions when I’m back next Tuesday. If it’s the final form, I’ll get you a draft tomorrow and work on your suggested revisions on Wednesday the 19th. Etc.

              That’s what Ginger Baker is suggesting. It’s on you to be sure you have the context. Yes, it would be really good if the boss gave it to you upfront, but you already know she doesn’t (or worse, sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t), so just ask every time. Just make it part of your procedure.

            2. kt*

              Yeah, I think people are misunderstanding the timeline. I’ll make up numbers to help others out:

              * blepkitty is asked to get something done by Friday August 14 COB
              * blepkitty gets it done and sends it to boss by Friday August 14 COB
              * boss sends it back on Tuesday Aug 18 morning with no deadlines or info
              * blepkitty does revisions, sends it back by 1 pm Aug 18
              * boss complains at 3 pm meeting on Aug 18 that it took too long
              * blepkitty says, “would have been nice to have a timeline!”
              * boss says, “you did, I asked you to do it by last Friday, four days ago!”
              * blepkitty ……. but I did do it by Aug 14 last Friday four days ago? and had a <1-day turnaround on your random new revisions today on Aug 18?

              So it's not wrong for commenter to say, essentially, never trust that your boss is being accurate or complete about assignments and always ask enough questions that there is an email trail to CYA, but their timeline is giving boss way too much credit. If I was asked to do something by COB Friday and had it done COB Friday I would consider myself to have checked the item off my list.

              1. Katrinka*

                This. And incorporating the edits would have been a new job, asking when the manager wants it back at the beginning of the new assignment (so, Tuesday morning in this case) would go a long way toward making things easier for everyone.

        2. Wintergreen*

          It sounds like a single issue you need to bring up, miscommunication. Maybe approach the conversation as “I’ve noticed we are not often on the same page and would really appreciate if we could spend some time talking about the best way to communicate on some of the finer details on projects that are assigned to me.”
          And have a plan on what you would like to see. Not knowing what your job is I’m finding it hard to come up with specific examples but something like clarification that deadlines given are always going to be client deadlines so you can make sure to get it back to her in time for edits to be made. Or a form that she can bring to client meetings and then just pass along to you afterward with all the info you need to complete the project so that she is not trying to remember and verbally pass along all that information. (If at all possible try to phrase them as trying to save her time and effort)

          1. Joielle*

            Or even just keeping in mind that the boss is not always that clear about deadlines, so making sure to clarify every time. Personally, I would have emailed back when I saw the edits – something like “Thanks, I’ll start working on these right away. I’ll plan to get the document back to you before the end of the day but let me know if you need it sooner.”

            blepkitty, I kind of get the sense that you’re a bit afraid of your boss and trying to avoid going back to her with questions. Totally understandable – she seems like a total pill, and nobody wants to get snarked at for asking a clarifying question. But I think you have to do it anyways. Otherwise you get into this self-perpetuating cycle, where she tells you something, you’re afraid to ask a question, there’s a miscommunication, the product is not what she wants, and she’s annoyed with you. And the more times it happens, the more annoyed she is.

            Personally, I write a lot of clarification emails where I’m not directly asking the person “what did you mean?” but more explaining what my understanding is or what my plan is and inviting them to chime in if they disagree. I think asking a lot of questions can come across as needy, but you can still get the clarifications you need by wording your emails a little differently. (And if it still turns out that your boss wanted something different, you have an email to point to, to show it wasn’t your fault.)

        3. Jenny Says*

          I think the issue here is the level of assumption that is going on between you both. I understand that you gave her the assignment COB Friday, but you also did so with the understanding that she edits your work before you send it to the client. So the assumption on your part was that the Friday deadline was for her and not the project. But, it seems to me your manager assumed you understood that she edits your work before you send it to the client and should wrap up your project to give her time to edit it and update it before COB Friday.

          The situation was further exasperated by the fact that you continued assuming the Friday deadline was soft (perhaps rightfully so as it doesn’t sound like she followed-up with you about it) and rather than asking whether the project needed to be done ASAP, you took your time, which irritated your manager further.

          At the end of the day, your work is dependent on your boss and you have to factor in their work habits when completing assignments. It’s part of managing up. I would argue it’s always better to ask the question or at least send an update about your plans, so that no one is caught off guard with the final result. It would be ideal for your manager to be proactive about these things and let you know what they’re thinking about things, but they’re not always going to do this (or may be too busy with other things). As a result, managers sometimes rely on employees to let them know about potential issues that might arise and that’s part of every employees job, whether it’s in their job description or not.

          But rather than take your manager to task for not doing what you want/need them to do, it will be more productive for you to identify ways that you can best work with them or ask them how you might be able to avoid a similar misunderstanding in the future. It will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      Listen to the feedback you receive during your review and then focus your comments on what you need from her to be able to perform at the level she is expecting. So for example, if she tell you that you have not completed the TPS report in a timely manner and have missed the deadline 4 times in the past 6 months you can acknowledge that you agree that you have had difficulty getting the TPS report done and you know that you need to improve this. Then indicate that you realize one of the issues you are having trouble with is that you don’t always understand the context of what the clients want in the TPS report and that when you are in the meetings with clients you have been able to complete the report on time. Then ask is there a way I can be included in those meetings more often as you believe that would help you get the work done on time.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Reading this it sounds like you have two communication styles, so you just need to figure out how to get on the same page.

      You get a deadline and you assume it’s her soft deadline for her own edits, she’s giving you a deadline thinking you understand things should be to her before the drop-dead time because that deadline is her deadline for the client.

      You can’t be afraid to ask her questions, it’s better to have her sigh at you and clarify than to do it how you assume, do it wrong and then lead down the road of more frustration. You’re operating on a wing and a prayer with understanding what she truly means. You can’t live that way.

      You’re less likely to end up in a bad-review situation if you are proactive as a default.

      Approach it as “I want to do a better job for you, help me do that so that we are a team instead of butting heads over miscommunications and misunderstandings.”

      1. Esmeralda*

        Right. Blepkitty has two options:
        1. Ask every time. Boss rolls eyes and complains that you need too much handholding BUT you get the info you need to complete the work correctly.

        2. Don’t ask = no eye rolling BUT then X times out of ten you don’t meet the deadline or you don’t do it “correctly”. That’s a big problem *for you*. Even if you are *right* you are not going to *win*, and you’re going to get performance reviews and maybe a rep too as someone who doesn;t meet deadlines and doesn’t meet standards. Even if that’s unfair: you are not the boss and you are going to lose.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          The issue with your boss is similar to one I have with someone who doesn’t know how to ask for what she actually need. For example, she’ll say “cut up this onion really small” and when you present her with tiny chopped pieces she’ll complain that the onion wasn’t cut in extra thin slices.

          One time I asked her “when should I arrive for xyz event?” She said “I need you there between 3 and 3:30”. Turns out that the event itself was scheduled to RUN from 3 to 3:30. I arrived at 3:15 to find it half over.

          It’s a PITA and exhausting to have to find a way to politely grill her for details every single time. Unfortunately it’s the only way to work with her. You’re going to have to do this with your boss at the beginning of each assignment.

          1. blepkitty*

            Yeah, this sounds closest to the underlying problem that all these comments are helping me identify as the most key, which is that even direct, simple questions tend to be either misunderstood or get answers I can’t parse. Bringing this up with my other boss before Jane was promoted to her current position got me the order to talk on the phone, because other boss thought email was the problem. But Jane misunderstands on the phone, too! And it’s much harder to hide my frustration on the phone as I try to reword questions to get at the actual information I need than it is over email.

            Like you said, it’s exhausting. If only covid would go away so I could find a different job.

    4. Middle Manager*

      Is there a way that you can bring this up not at your performance review? Like at a routine 1-1 meeting or a 1-1 meeting that you specifically request to align on communication. To me, that would show that you are being proactive in addressing an issue that you see.

      Again, just my opinion, but I think the danger of waiting until you have your performance review is that it could come across as defensive or making excuses for your performance rating instead of owning it, regardless of if that’s the reality or now. If you’re going to do in in the performance review itself, I think as another commenter here mentioned, you’d want to be very clear on the phrasing that you acknowledge the issue and are proposing a solution, not just shifting blame onto your boss.

  9. Jennifer*

    My coworker is out this week and I’m filling in for her. I’m getting a lot of emails from people who would normally reach out to her and I’m realizing that she does a lot of things for people that they really could do themselves. In some cases, they should be going to a totally different person. I’ve done as much as I can, but if you were me, would you say anything when she gets back? It doesn’t really affect me until she takes time off, which isn’t super often.

    1. Sunny*

      Not sure if it’s the *right* move, but what I’d do is casually mention to her boss “Wow, I learned while filling in Jane handles so many things! She’s always helping people out even with [examples]. I’m amazed she’s able to get everything done when she’s supporting so many people.”

      Either the boss will read between the lines and figure out Jane is being taken advantage of or will think this is business as usual, in which case there’s not much you can do. And you get to give Jane a compliment and help her manager realize how useful she is.

    2. buzzbuzzbeepbeep*

      I would totally try to say something! If she gets hit by a bus, then everyone is going to have to know what to do and they can’t rely on you to just do everything the way your coworker did.

      Start by telling the people who are making the requests who they should actually go to or how to do it themselves. Do not let them push you into doing things just like the other person. Establish boundaries – even if they are temporary. Then when your coworker gets back you should tell her that you showed people how to do things on their own. Be very open about each communication so she doesn’t feel like you are changing the process behind her back. Lots of time, people think they are helping and being super productive by doing lots of processes for others whenever they get asked, rather than teach the person how to do it or direct them to the correct process. There’s a lot of pride involved in people who do this, so you’ll have to be careful to explain to your coworker that you changed things for others because you wanted to help them be better and not because you think she was doing it all wrong or that you think your way is better.

      1. Wintergreen*

        buzzbuzzbeepbeep I get what you are saying but I’ve worked with several people who do this on purpose because it makes them feel irreplaceable. They would have been livid if someone came along while they are gone and took it upon themselves to try and put up boundaries they don’t want in place.

        I like Sunny’s idea about going to coworkers boss and framing it as a compliment. That way you are alerting the boss that coworker is spending a lot of time doing things they don’t need to but are leaving it to the boss to address.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          buzzbuzzbeepbeep I get what you are saying but I’ve worked with several people who do this on purpose because it makes them feel irreplaceable. They would have been livid if someone came along while they are gone and took it upon themselves to try and put up boundaries they don’t want in place.

          This. I had a manager like this and currently have a coworker like this – god help anyone who would dare tell people they need to solve their own issues or point them in the direction of the correct contact they should be speaking to.

          I wouldn’t even do the compliment thing with the boss. There’s no telling whether the manager knows this is happening and whether they would shut it down if they found out, thus making Jennifer a target if in fact the coworker is this type of person who likes to be martyred in the workplace. I would, however, give the compliment to the coworker and see her reaction. If she starts complaining about how she doesn’t know how to make these requests stop and seems genuinely exasperated, then Jennifer could offer the advice to start sending people to such and such contact to handle it instead. But if it becomes clear that the coworker likes being the information gatekeeper, Jennifer can then drop it without an issue.

          1. Jennifer*

            I like the suggestion of framing it as a compliment to the coworker and see what she says. I bet she’ll start complaining about how people expect too much of her.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Going to the boss is overkill, and really risky for Jane. If you think there’s an issue, go to Jane directly.

        3. Jennifer*

          I know what you’re saying, but she’s a really sweet person and has helped me out a lot. I’m still very new here but I don’t see that she’s doing anything malicious.

          1. Katrinka*

            It’s not malicious for her to want to do the work because it makes her feel valued. If this is what she’s doing, she may not even realize it herself. But it could also be that she somehow thinks she supposed to do it this way. I agree with the others about saying it as a compliment to her and seeing how she reacts. If she says something like, “It’s OK, I don’t mind,” then drop it. If her manager has concerns about her getting work done they can bring it up with her directly.

    3. valentine*

      I would tell them it’s okay to do the stuff on their own, maybe point them to guides once, and refer them to the right people.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wouldn’t say anything when she gets back. She knows what she’s doing, she knows that they should be doing it themselves, she has her own reasons for doing it that way.

      You should be able to tell people that if they ask for something you can’t help them with that “I’m only covering for Jill while she’s out, I can’t help you with that.” and let it be. They’ll train themselves that when Jennifer is covering, they have to wipe their own butts ;)

      1. Strictly Speaking*

        What would you recommend to Jane if her reasoning is “I wouldn’t ask for my coworkers’ help the way they ask for mine because I think my own job is my own duty, but I also don’t think I have the authority to refuse to help when they ask, since that could be framed as obstructing the progress of the company?”

        1. blaise zamboni*

          I’d recommend that Jane align with her boss on it, honestly. “Helping” other people do their own jobs takes away a lot of your time to do your job. Jane could ask her boss how much time she should spend “helping” others and ask for scripts to get people off her back if they react poorly. Then she’ll know 1) if that really is an expectation for her and 2) that she may not have her own authority, but she has her boss’s authority by proxy. If people don’t like it – well, bring it up with Jane’s Boss, sorry.

          My company espouses a very “there is no job that’s not your job” line, in that if you see something that needs doing, you should do it (within reason, mostly). I had a lot of fear about refusing to take things on for others because of it. But one employee just…can’t be the entire company. It is great to help out in a pinch, both for progressing the company’s goals and for building team camaraderie. But if someone starts to expect you to do their job routinely, clarify with your leadership if that is now actually your job. If it is, clarify how you should reprioritize the other parts of your job.

  10. Grits McGee*

    US federal hiring/USAjobs horror story thread! Because I want to see if my agency is especially bad, or if there’s a wealth of dysfunction to spread around.

    I’ll get us started:
    -My friend who received a USAJobs rejection email for a job she had started six months ago
    -My friend who was required to go in and take a drug test twice for a job she was technically already doing, in the middle of a pandemic. (Lab lost the first drug test)
    -Same friend was officially offered a promotion, then had it revoked the next day because she was #11 on the certificate of eligibles, and HR was only supposed to forward 10 for interview. Friend was told by HR that if they had a disability, maybe they could figure out a work around.
    -HR called a coworker to let her know that she had gotten a promotion she’d applied for. HR called back an hour later, and said they had made a mistake- coworker was #2 choice, and #1 choice had accepted the job. #1 choice was coworker’s cube-mate.

    1. Quill*

      My mom keeps forwarding me listings on USA jobs and I’m just like…

      Mom I need a job that might hire me to do things I’m qualified for that DON’T need some sort of security clearance for. And ideally I’d like them to hire me some time in the calendar year that I applied in.

    2. blepkitty*

      Rumor had it my former workplace had tried to make an FTE position for an onsite contractor. They tailored it exactly to the job she was doing, which was unique to her. As in, she was the only person in the world, at the time, who had experience doing this particular thing. She was rejected because she wasn’t the most qualified candidate.

      (I don’t actually approve of this workplace because they were blatantly using contractors to get around the USAJobs process, which contributed to diversity issues. But still.)

      1. Former Govt Contractor*

        Happened to me exactly like that. Though I’m certainly not the only one in the world able to do my job, I had been in the job as a contractor for 4 years when a permanent spot opened up. They tailored the job description to my background, but I wasn’t even selected by OEM for an interview – I got bumped by current Federal employees and veterans. They hired a vet who had no direct experience. I found a great job and was gone 3 months later.

        1. moql*

          That exact thing happened to my husband. The vet ended up being totally incapable of doing the job, but he’s still there and every once in a while they call and beg my husband to come back and clean up his messes. Temp, of course.

        2. blepkitty*

          I’m so sorry! Luckily my workplace managed to keep the role as a contractor position and keep the original contractor. When she did end up leaving for other reasons, and after one disastrous contractor they wised up and passed it around to staff they already had on board who had demonstrated the right temperament and skills for the job, leaving more standard positions open for hiring. But that destroyed my faith in USAJobs (what remained of it).

    3. Grumpy Lady*

      I got a job rejection email last month for a job I had applied for over a year ago. Federal hiring is so awful and a quagmire that needs to be fixed.

      Thats awful about the promotion though. Id be so upset about that.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      My spouse is a federal employee and none of this surprises me. He applied for a job last year that he was well qualified for where the direct supervisor desperately wanted him for the job, and he didn’t even make the first round of interviews. Direct supervisor of empty position didn’t even have the authority to get him an interview. As someone who’s only ever worked private sector, I can’t imagine not having final say on someone who will be my direct report!

    5. Former Fed*

      I had a federal position for 6 years, then moved to a similar position in the private sector. Several years later I applied for a job at the same institution I had worked at, same title and duties, but a parallel department, and I got an automatic rejection as not meeting the minimum qualifications for the position. For a job I held for six years.

    6. JohannaCabal*

      Years ago, I tried to get a federal position and I could never figure out how to break through the KPI algorithm and ended up giving up. One time I did reach the initial interview stage for a position after I’d already received a rejection email for said position. I know they changed the process but I still found it burdensome.

      While I recognize the process for federal hiring has many restrictions and specific requirements, I worry that making it too burdensome will turn off the very people who could bring some strong talent to federal agencies.

      1. Student*

        That’s a feature, not a bug.

        The federal hiring process isn’t meant to bring in talent. It’s meant to protect the jobs of specific people from fair competition with more talented people in the general public.

      2. Anon Fed*

        Oh, I wouldn’t say that. In my experience my federal job has the most diverse group of people that I’ve ever experienced in a job. While thoroughly awful, the convoluted application process has resulted in a workplace that has more people of color and more open members of the LGBT community than I’ve ever run across in the private sector. It also seems to have more people with disabilities, more people who are overweight, and a fair number of older people who would probably would have been screened out of comparable jobs in the private sector.

    7. Megan*

      I’m currently undergoing a pre employment background check. For a federal job I’ve held for 6 years.

    8. Roza*

      I was offered a federal job that required a security clearance. I spent over two years waiting for said clearance to come through, and eventually gave up. I still don’t know what the issue was, but based on friends’ experiences the problem was likely that, due to having spent lots of time in other countries acquiring the language skills that made me qualified for the job in the first place, I had a few too many foreign friends. I have many other friends in the same boat, who also eventually gave up on federal employment. Now I just roll my eyes whenever I see articles lamenting “lack of specialists” in a particular language/region — there are plenty of qualified people, they just can’t get a clearance precisely because of the skills that make them qualified….

      1. DCGirl*

        On the other, when my husband was interview for his clearance, he was asked to give the names of friends that he sees every week so he could be interviewed. We have no friends that we see EVERY week. We worked long hours and spent our weekends taking care of my elderly grandmother and his elderly father. He couldn’t produce a single name of a friend he saw every week, and the investigator thought that was suspicious.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        My husband waited a year for his clearance. He kept calling and hearing ‘its still pending’. Finally he figured out how to contact the issuing bureau directly, and they said no one had ever submitted his clearance application.

      3. Eva Luna*

        I applied for a Federal job requiring foreign language expertise a year after I had spent a semester studying in the Soviet Union. On the security clearance, I was completely forthright about all the Soviet friends I had made (wouldn’t it have been odd if I didn’t make any friends?). OPM really didn’t know what to do with me, because I was clean as a whistle. Finally they made me swear under oath that if any of my Soviet friends tried to make me do anything that violated national security, I would immediately inform the State Department.

        (The most ridiculous part is that I was already working in the job as a temp pending completion of the security clearance. I could have made a whole lot of mischief if I had been so inclined in the 11 months I worked there before the security clearance finally came through.)

    9. Usernames are hard*

      Fortunately I was hired before USAjobs existed, but I have heard of numerous examples of months elapsing between interview and offer. My only HR story is more of a SMH kind of thing. I applied for an internal position, so the only applicants are current employees of my agency. I didn’t get the position and received a form letter from HR that ended with, “we wish you success in your search for employment”. I was like “um, ‘search for employment’? I still work here.”

    10. Kesnit*

      “-My friend who was required to go in and take a drug test twice for a job she was technically already doing, in the middle of a pandemic. (Lab lost the first drug test)”

      Depending on the job, random drug testing is a requirement for keeping the job. I had a federal job for 5 years and got drug tested probably 3 times.

      1. Atlantian*

        I worked for a contractor and once had the following conversation with a manager, in a darkened room noless:

        “Hey, Atlantian, come in here”
        “Yeah, what’s up?”
        “If I sent you to Dr. Drugtest this afternoon, would you pass?”
        “Uh, yes.”
        “Ok good. We need to put someone on this project who can pass and we’re running out of options.”

        I’m like 100% sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

    11. Long time Fed*

      Currently a Fed. There is a wide range in HR, some great people and some who you wonder how they keep their jobs. The drug testing isn’t a surprise – it’s routine. While the lost test is odd , having to be tested more than once is not that surprising, as sometimes you get inconclusive results. (They will give you a paper that says the poppy seed bagel giving a positive test for opioids is a myth, but there are all kinds of OTC drugs and supplements that can cause a false positive.) I also swear that once you get selected for a random test you are more likely to be selected again, because I see the same people called time and again.

      Every Fed knows of at least one case where someone was deemed not qualified for their own job – in some cases they didn’t do a great job on their application because they thought it was a done deal, in others they didn’t use the exact language from the announcement and didn’t get selected by the algorithm that does the first sort of candidates. HR screw ups of the type listed happen, though usually not that many in one small corner of the government, but agency wide across the thousands of jobs yep, they happen every day.

      On the question of security clearances, the issue really isn’t that the person lived overseas, but whether those conducting the investigation can find people (preferably US citizens, preferably now in the US) who can attest that they weren’t doing nefarious things overseas. So the more names/contact info that can be provided, the better. If they need to go find people overseas it can take forever, as others have noted.

      Finally, particularly at lower grades, but even at some of the higher ones, Veterans’ Preference can be a roadblock. If a qualified veteran applies for the job, they will get it, even if you have higher qualifications. That might be the case for some of the people who were not selected to be interviewed for their own jobs – the hiring manager was given a cert including only qualified veterans. This is particularly challenging for those trying to hire contractors into direct hire jobs. It’s not that the applicant isn’t highly qualified, or even best qualified, it’s that the qualified veteran is given preference. (Note: the veteran MUST meet the qualifications for the job – this does not mean any veteran.)

      1. Roza*

        For what it’s worth, I was overseas primarily on government-funded programs and was able to provide contact information for (among other people) the embassy personnel (not just the visa folks, but political and cultural officers) who oversaw my grants and with whom I interacted regularly. By the time I was applying I know that several of those people were actually back in DC, so…. At the end of the day I consider it a bullet dodged — the sloppiness/laziness/lack of professionalism but also extreme bureaucracy in other parts of the interview process was also a turnoff, in general the agency in question seems to be kind of a dumpster fire right now, and the job I ended up with pays more than twice what I was offered for the federal job despite being in a lower cost of living area. The benefits package on the federal job was not nearly enough to make up for massive salary difference.

    12. one shrug two shrug red shrug blue shrug*

      I’ve spent the last 5 years as a federal contractor and have submitted many applications to USAjobs over the years. None of this surprises me. At my last agency there were vacancies for highly skilled jobs that just sat open for years and years because they could not get them filled through the federal hiring process. The people who made it through the algorithm completely lacked any of the specialized qualifications needed to do the job and the people who had the actual training and experience never seemed to get through the system so that they could be considered. At a certain point it was going to become a literal national security issue. I’ve since left that agency, but I always wonder if they’ve managed to get those positions filled.

      Only once have I made it through USAjobs to get an interview (and actually, an offer I didn’t end up accepting). It puzzles me to this day why I beat the algorithm on that particular job because it completely didn’t match up with my skills, experience, or education…

    13. delicate&lustrous*

      I’ve been offered four jobs through USAjobs at this point (took one, worked there for years, applied again and took another; declined the other two). I’ve also been on hiring committees for federal jobs.

      It can be a little dysfunctional for sure, but it’s not hopeless if you’re qualified and patient. There are guides for writing a federal resume, and I highly suggest you use the USAjobs resume creator to make your multi-page monstrosity instead of the one-page, nicely formatted one you use for other jobs.

      That being said, I was once offered a job 18 months after I applied for it, in a different location than where I had applied, when I had already taken and started working at a different agency. And the agency where I work now would only do interviews on a single day/time, then sent a generic email letter offer instead of calling (seems like it’d be a bad sign, but the actual office/management is great).

    14. MsChanandlerBong*

      My husband’s job is a bit different because does work for a federal agency, but he was hired through a state agency. Since they do federal work, he has to have all the clearances and background checks and such. He’s worked there for over two months, and today he FINALLY received word that he’d been cleared to take a computer home to telecommute b/c of COVID. He’s been working from home almost the entire time, but he’s not allowed to access any government info on a personal device, so “working” = sitting in a chair doing nothing. The cherry on top is that a few times they scheduled him for training/canceled previously scheduled training, but he didn’t know anything about it because…you guessed it, they were emailing his .gov email that he wasn’t allowed to check at home on a non-government device. His background check form got returned twice, once because they said his birthday wasn’t on it (he opened the file he’d sent, and his birthday was right on there), and a second time because they said he didn’t check a box–which was also checked on the original document. Thank goodness he’s employed, but it’s been a rocky start.

    15. Anon Fed*

      OTOH, sometimes the only thing worse than being rejected for a job that sounds perfect is getting it. So, I have a public-facing customer service type of job and it is unbelievably difficult and stressful. The last few times my agency has advertised for positions they’ve had difficulty finding enough qualified individuals, and after they bring them in the training is pretty tough. By the time job offers are made, several months after the positions were advertised, a huge number of qualified people have found other jobs and are no longer interested. That weeds out something like 30 percent of the qualified applicants.
      During the rigorous training, it’s not unusual for at least 5% to quit and another 1 to 2% to be fail.

      There’s trying to fix the mistakes made by the general public and made by other people within our agency. There’s the frustration of trying to find out what to do in our convoluted online manual which is horrible. There’s our difficult to use, antique computer system which makes things more difficult than they should be. There’s being aware of problems made by other federal agencies or state and city agencies that affect the caller and not being able to help them. There’s the situation where the caller made an innocent mistake (or a repeated series of innocent mistakes) and not being able to do anything at all to help them. There are the random reviews of your phone calls where they “ding” you for things like not asking for someone’s middle initial or not advising a caller that they should file a change of address card with their local post office.

      The number of people who quit after they’ve been there a year or so, seems to be at a fairly steady rate of 2 to 4%. The job is a rude awakening for many. During my coffee breaks, before WFH, I would often see people (usually women) leave the office to sit by themselves in their car in the parking lot and have a good 10-minute cry.

      The pay is decent and with union representation you’ll get a fair hearing if you’re being considered for dismissal. If you’re truly incompetent the union won’t be able to protect if you have a boss you will take the time to document, but there are a lot of lazy bosses who won’t, and it’s easier to blame the union than the lazy bosses. If you’re only a so-so employee you’ll get put on a PIP and given additional coaching and training (which you probably should have gotten to start with) and you might be denied a GS step raise, like say being prevented from being promoted from a GS 6 to a GS 7.

      I keep being told that you really need to work there for 4 or 5 years before you become good at the job, and I’m afraid many get discouraged and leave before then.

  11. Tired Unicorn*

    Has anyone worked on side projects to improve skills for a new job? If so, how did you go about it?

    To be really specific, I want to restore my coding skills in Python, which I haven’t used in years, but I just don’t know what to do on my own. I know the theoretical, but need to practice implementation stuff (career programmer). However I’m used to creating things to solve a specific purpose for a specific set of users in a much more complex environment meanwhile online classes are aimed at complete beginners.

    I finally found the light at the end of the tunnel to get me out of my toxic job, just need to find a way to get my old skills back. I have a rare work-free weekend coming up so I’m hoping to make the best of it. Sorry for all of the whiny posts lately, I really appreciate the advice I’ve been receiving.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Finding an open source GitHub project you can provide pull requests to can keep you sharp without having to code something entirely from scratch outside of your job.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        +1 to this.

        If you’re looking for project, planning is underway for this year’s Hacktoberfest. Although the event won’t happen until October (have 4 separate pull requests to public repositories approved, get a free t-shirt), lots of public repositories are already using the hacktoberfest label. It looks like 189 of them are using Python, so you should have lots of options there.

        1. Tired Unicorn*

          Thanks! I haven’t heard of this event before or been very involved in open source. Maybe this will help me get more involved.

    2. Sunny*

      Can you think of something *you* would find useful or fun? For example, program a basic game, or a pipeline that converts data between two formats, or something? I find learning to be like Yahtzee Croshaw’s review of Minecraft: to enjoy it you have to give yourself a project.

    3. Kara S*

      Not Python, but when I wanted to brush up on my HTML/CSS skills I would redo projects I’d done in school. You could also see if there’s any online courses that list their projects and just do that on your own time — that way you don’t have to take the class but still get the practice in + can tailor the project to your abilities.

    4. JustForThis*

      How about competitions of kaggle? They seem to me a great way to get back into programming.

    5. Hosta*

      To brush up on my preferred language I found a local arts non-profit that needed a website to handle logistics for their upcoming art show and volunteered to build it for them. I got to practice skills in context as opposed to just doing TopCoder style problems.

      I’ve also seen folks pick a simple problem in their everyday life and write an app to solve it. Like tracking if the cat had been fed that day, or if the recycling was being picked up this week, etc. I’ve done some IOT stuff in my house like that.

      I hear the “find an open source project” advice a lot, but honestly it takes a while to get involved in a project. If you’ve got limited time something that no one else relies on and doesn’t need anyone’s buy in means you can be productive even if you only have two hours once a week.

  12. Heidi*

    My long-time boss is leaving the company soon. Pre-pandemic, it would have been customary to have a pretty big celebration, including catered food, gifts (like a framed photo signed by all of us), and attendees saying a few words of appreciation. We can still give the gifts and make speeches over zoom, but I’m worried that without the big, in-person gathering (and catering), it will seem somewhat lackluster compared to previous send-off parties. Do you all have any ideas about how we can make this feel as special as it would if we were all together?

    1. WellRed*

      This probably isn’t helpful, but people have toned it way down on weddings and other celebrations and have done just fine. Does this really need to be a big to do?

    2. No Tribble At All*

      There are many online e-card sites that can be signed by a group, so you can still have a group card! You could also ask her if if she’s comfortable sharing her address so you can send her a physical card. Honestly, as much as you want to make a fuss and celebrate, the thing she’ll appreciate most is a nice letter (assuming you sincerely like her and appreciate her time with you).

    3. WFH_queen*

      I just had my own going away celebration after 3 years at a company that also used to do a big party in the main kitchen. What made it so special is that my boss facilitated speeches, and people said some nice things. The extra benefit was that some people who aren’t big public speakers posted some nice things in the chat. What would have been extra great and above and beyond would have been to send a sweet treat (cupcakes or something) to my house to celebrate with. Even without that, I was SO touched and really appreciated the gesture.

      1. Katrinka*

        We did this for a retirement a few months ago. We sent messages to the boss, who put them all into a slide show and we had a MS Teams party. Boss also had half a dozen cupcakes sent over.

    4. A Brew Yet*

      There is so much that has had to change in COVIDland, but there are some really great opportunities to get creative with these important milestone moments.
      I had 3 suggestions that have gone over really well recently for things that we have pivoted online.
      1. Invite a special guest or guests (college roommate, grandchild, minister, best man from their wedding, favorite teacher or mentor). Anyone that is WAY outside of your “regular” group. Let them share a story, read a special letter, share something that they will do together with your boss during retirement. We did a kind of “roast” recently that was an absolutely great substitute for a send off for someone.
      2. I recently had members of a team do dramatic readings of emails that had passed between them. The instructions were to pick an email on a specific topic and read it aloud. It was more of an air clearing exercise, but people were hysterical and touched and all those good things. This would be really easy to recreate as a send off. And your coworkers wouldn’t have to come up with something on their own, they could just read an email, text or other communication.
      3. I’m a big believer in the power of a charitable gift. If the boss has a charity of choice or loves his school or has served on a board or been touched by something. Charities are really hard hit right now. I’m sure that anyone you select would even send someone to join your zoom to talk about the impact of the gift to their organization. Use your catering, framing, plaque budget for something that makes a big difference instead.

    5. Mme Pince*

      For our interns who graduated earlier this year, several of us put up decorations that could be seen behind us during our Zoom happy hour. It’s a pretty low-effort but nice thing you could consider.

    6. Spock*

      Some things we’ve done at recent remote farewells –
      * do an activity like a shared puzzle on some website, or pictionary using draw just the function of our video clients, or codenames using their online app. adding some structure to give folks something to do instead of awkwardly looking at a screen
      * a kind of Q&A – folks added questions to a shared google doc, the honoree went through them and would answer one then ask it to someone in attendance. this was a fun opportunity to hear various work stories from their time here, as well as to hear from other folks in a vaguely structured format

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Worried about catering being part of the festivities? I would suggest looking into facilitating delivering some kind of “treat”, like gift basket style to each person so they can enjoy the food part and see it as a celebration. It will depend on the size of the team though, that can get expensive more so than catering does.

      I’d send her a bottle of champagne if I knew she drank or send a bottle of sparkling cider if you’re not sure she drinks. Everyone else gets a bottle of cider and you can “pop bottles” for Zoom toasts?

    8. Lady Heather*

      If someone has an hour and PhotoFiltre Studio or another image editing program, or someone is handy with PhotoFiltre and has a few minutes, you can still do the framed photo with signatures. If it’s a group photo you might consider a collage photo frame.
      (PFS can be downloaded for free, I think.)

      Everyone signs their name on a white piece of paper with black ink, and scans it or makes a photograph. In your editing software, turn the photo black and white and increase the contrast to the highest level. Now you’ll have clear signatures. Superimpose them over the photo or, if you want the frame signed, there are some personalized picture frame websites out there.

      Ship to boss’ house.

      It might not work – but it could be fun. (Then again, I like these kinds of small image editing projects.. so I might be biased.)

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A few,months ago my husband’s company (small, probably ~50 people) sent everyone a chocolate-covered fruit bouquet at home. Something like that ahead of a video call so everyone’s at least eating the same treat?

    10. UK Civil Servant*

      Our intern is leaving soon, about half of us are WFH right now. We’re planning to meet on the beach each bringing our own takeout (waffles, fish’n’chips etc). If it rains the plan is get wet: it’s British summer, we known the deal!
      However, as civil servants we always have to self-fund celebrations of any kind, so our bar for extravagance is probably lower than you are thinking.

  13. Jubilance*

    Hi friends – crowd sourcing help with my job search. I’m trying to figure out the right title or search terms for a job I held previously, as I’d like to get back into that type of work.

    In this role, I worked in HQ operations for our retail stores – this dept set processes and procedures for all the stores in the chain, allocated payroll and ran testing & implementation of new initiatives. I was a SME on the payroll side – I handled field questions regarding how payroll was allocated for specific jobs & stores. I also served as a SME and analyst for new store initiatives, primarily providing insight on how store payroll would be impacted by these initiatives.

    At the time, my title was “business partner” but now some on the team have the title of “operations analyst”. I have been using the search term “operations analyst” but I wonder if there’s any other terms I could use to find work like this at other companies.

    1. Colette*

      Payroll specialist? But I think it’s important that you go with what the company will confirm.

    2. Ops Analyst*

      Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions for different titles, but I’ve been an operational analyst for decades and your use of the term seems different from what it has been for 80 years (WWII), so you might see some requests for mathematicians and statisticians:
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research

      The job title is quite generic, so I’m not surprised it is being used in other contexts, but if you are searching that term for jobs then you might get some quirky returns!

      Although maybe this could help: the private sector versions of this work is business analytics, and management consultant. Good luck!

  14. Mark M*

    Question RE: interview thank-you notes. I work in banking, typically large institutions where HR conducts the initial phone screen. Yesterday I had a phone interview which went well, the HR rep said she would recommend my candidacy to the hiring manager. I find that these HR screenings often have a perfunctory/check-box feel, because my particular area of work is quite niche, not something that HR is well-equipped to discuss in any appreciable level of detail. Should I still send a thank-you note even though I have not a lot of substantive points to make? For those in similar situations, do you usually do it anyway?

    1. HatBeing*

      They ask you perfunctory questions, it’s totally ok to send a perfunctory thank you! I would do it, just don’t put too much time into it.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I send a quick “thank you for taking the time to discuss the Handle Shaping position at Teapots, Inc. with me.” email to the recruiter or initial interviewer. More detailed thank yous go to people who will be the ones making the hiring decisions.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Yes, do it. And if/when hired, again thank the HR people. I have found that they are accustomed to only hearing when they have done something wrong, so can be incredibly appreciative when someone thanks them. I had one rep in tears when I brought a plate of cookies as a thank you for helping me on a difficult issue.

    4. Not A Girl Boss*

      Send a thank you, it doesn’t have to be effusive.

      I recently had an initial phone screen where the HR rep kept me on the phone for a full 15 minutes talking about how shes not a normal HR rep, she’s a cool HR rep, who always, ALWAYS follows up to let you know one way or the other. I was also eminently qualified for the job and she had said she would be moving me up the chain.

      Anyway, a month goes by and I don’t hear anything, so I sent her an email. She replied that since I didn’t send a thank you note, she figured I must not be interested in the job.
      Luckily I really didn’t want the job anyway, I was just amused at the lack of notification after she went on such a monologue about it.

    5. Katrinka*

      I sent one for a phone interview I had this week. I don’t know if they would expect one as a matter of course, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to do it.

  15. Free Meerkats*

    Hiring accomplished! Our new inspector starts in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be challenging, but we can really use the help.

    Thanks for he advice I got here.

  16. Amber Rose*

    Question: Is a staff party with a gift giveaway disingenuous in a time of financial uncertainty?

    Backstory: The company we buy our office stuff from gives us free stuff every X amount of dollars spent. Nice stuff too. We have like camping sets and BBQs and electronics and stuff. All the free stuff takes up a huge amount of space and we just kind of tolerate it until Xmas and give it away at the staff party.

    Except the party is 99.9% canceled this year. I mean, the venue is holding a date for us, but realistically it’s just not happening. So I recommended we do a little raffle and just give out the stuff now. Unfortunately, my company likes to party. So that suggestion turned into “buy more stuff so everyone gets something, make it nice stuff” and then “we can also bring in ice cream or beers or something” turned into catered lunches. So now it’s a full on (socially distanced, individually wrapped foods) staff party.

    Then when we’d already got this most of the way planned out and done, the CEO asked, “is this going to come across OK, considering I’ve been up front about the fact that if we don’t find more revenue soon we’re gonna have layoffs and wage cuts?”

    So now I’m worried that instead of appreciation, this are gonna come off as “sorry you might be unemployed, here’s a BBQ set and some headphones.”

    It can’t be stopped now, but I’m curious what people here think. Would you be OK with this? We’re ideally framing it as “thank you for working hard these last 4 months despite everything” and not “sorry for what’s about to come.”

    1. Oof*

      If it’s truly been up front, and everyone understands that – then yes, I think it’s nice to move forward with the party. Even in difficult times, people need reasons to have fun and celebrate.

    2. WellRed*

      I can see both sides but if you know there’s going to be lay-offs, expect this to land where you don’t want it.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We don’t know. It’s a real possibility, but not a guarantee. It sort of depends on a bunch of things.

    3. King Friday XIII*

      Do people know why you have all this stuff to give away? If so, even if they bought a few other things to make sure everyone gets something, I think it’ll be okay. If they bought a bunch of stuff, or if people don’t realize they didn’t buy all the stuff, I think it’s more likely to be tone-deaf.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Probably not. I mean, some of it is clearly branded with our supply company so it’s kinda obvious where it came from. But we only had 11 things and we needed 30+ so most of it is recently bought.

        1. Dawbs*

          Ugh.
          With those optics; as a low level person, I’d be steamed. A lot steamed.

          Because 2/3 of the items and 100% of the food costs are coming off that bottom line. And there are plans (aspirational and unlikely but plans nonetheless) to have this in ADDITION to holiday party? So in austere times your company is increasing the amount spent on parties and fluff-that would irk me.

          It’s not what will determine whether or not Fergus gets laid off but in 6 months, laid-off Fergus would still be reasonably pissed.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            Agreed. If my paycheck is anything but absolutely guaranteed, I would literally rather $10 cash than a $200 camping set I have to find room to store.

    4. Joielle*

      Can you just wait until the holidays and have this scaled back staff party then? I do think it could come off poorly if there’s an extra party, with a fair bit of money spent, at a time when layoffs are possible. But just having a smaller version of the usual holiday party seems less objectionable.

        1. Wintergreen*

          Could you hold off the gifts until the holiday lunch thing? Just do the socially staff party with food as the thank you.
          I think the giving of the gifts comes across disingenuous where just a free lunch doesn’t.

    5. KR*

      I think it would be ok if you maybe mentioned something about how the items are free due to your agreement with So-and-so vendor. Maybe when you’re announcing the party you could say, “It’s fortunate we were able to have this giveaway in a time of uncertainty for our industry/country/company, thanks to our partnership with Acme Corp for these awesome prizes.”

    6. Tthankful for AAM*

      I don’t understand why a social gathering that is not safe in 4 months is safe now? I would likely not attend for safety reasons. And I would think it was pretty close to playing music as the ship sank but I expect that from workplaces so would not be too fussed about it.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not a social gathering. We did it broadcast over camera, and people can come collect their stuff later through the week.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Hit enter too soon. The food was all individually wrapped and people grabbed them to eat at their desks.

    7. Carlotta*

      Yeah, I think this is likely to come across pretty badly, especially if you’ve spent money to buy these gifts for people when they are facing losing their jobs. I’d find that really tone deaf and it would make me question the judgement of management, even if I didn’t lose my own job.

  17. Virtual Networker*

    What are the new trends in networking virtually? How have you been expanding your network while social distancing? Previously I used to go to Meetup groups to mingle and meet people. The only virtual events I’m seeing in my area are webinars, which don’t really allow for casual conversation. Everything else is in-person, which is a big nope from me. I moved just before covid hit, so I don’t know anyone in my area and I miss being connected. I want to know what the other local companies are in my industry and what they are like, even if I’m not actively job searching. Plus it’s a great way to make some casual friends and stay up to date on industry updates. How is everyone else managing this?

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      I’m on the board of the regional chapter of my professional organization and we’ve been having monthly networking Zooms, alternating happy hours and coffee chats. It’s been working pretty well – we’ve been seeing people who haven’t showed up for in-person events in ages. But this is pretty specific to our having a regional org, and I honestly don’t know what to recommend for you in the absence of that.

      Another thought: do these webinars have a chat function? I’ve definitely seen people make connections in the chat area of a webinar, though some are definitely more lively than others. It’s a thought.

  18. ExcelJedi*

    Does anyone have advice about being thrown into the deep end of a job they’re not qualified for?

    We had a bad combination of layoffs, followed by people quitting at my work. As a result, I’m now in charge of all of our technology, with no qualifications. I’m in this position because I’m probably the most technical person we have, and we need to rebuild, so I’m spending most of my time hiring. But I’ve only been in management about a year and my hiring skills are shaky and I’m learning how to create a staffing plan as I go.

    I’d be looking for another job, but this one’s actually quite stable in the pandemic. Is it worth looking anyway?

    1. Samantha*

      Lots of empathy here. What has worked for me in a similar situation, but may not be possible for you, is reaching out to others in the company to see what knowledge/assistance they can offer you. I have also reached out to people who left (voluntarily only, not those laid off) informally. It definitely sucks, but I’ve decided not to leave because there’s no guarantee my next job would be stable and I did like working for the company pre-COVID

      1. ExcelJedi*

        Thank you. Yes, it’s the same for me – I’m just hoping that things will go somewhat back to normal someday. Hoping to learn something along the way, too, if I can catch my breath enough to.

    2. PX*

      I’d say look anyway, but maybe also take a deep breath and ask yourself whether you might want to stay in this role, learn about it and really make it yours. It sounds like you’ve been in full on firefighting mode for the last period of time, but if you took a step back – is this a job you would actually want or like?

      If the answer is yes, maybe look at carving out time for training to bring yourself up to speed on gaps you may have and then you can start to feel a bit better. Are there external resources you could bring in to help (temps/staffing agencies/actual recruiters)? The big one here for me is generally: dont be afraid to ask for help (if your company isnt terrible that is).

      With regards to hiring, obviously the archives here are a good resource, but I would check out HBR (Harvard Business Review). org as well, they actually had an interesting article about a different approach to recruitment a couple of weeks ago that I was intruiged by even though I am unlikely to be doing any hiring in the next few years.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      How much support do you have from management? Because it’s one thing if they recognize that you’re in a bad situation and understand that it’s going to take you a while to get things functioning and any set backs or mistakes are expected and inevitable – if they’re like this then this could be an amazing opportunity for you!

      But if management expects you to somehow slip into this role perfectly and mistakes are unacceptable? They’re setting you up to fail and you should plan your escape.

      1. ExcelJedi*

        Nope, definitely not qualified.

        It’s more like….I know teapots because I paint teapots. And now people are asking me to find the best person to design and create teapots (and do their job in the meantime), even though I have no idea what the difference is between different clays except how well they take my pigments. But everyone else works with blown glass, so I’m the “obvious” choice.

    4. Mazzy*

      Are you sure you’re not qualified? This sounds like a good opportunity. You have the technical skills, it seems. Now you’re learning more of a soft skill. Hiring people should definitely be seen as an opportunity, no? You can pick the best people so you don’t have to be an AAM story of having coworkers from hell. Are you sure that is a skill you can’t master? At the end of the day, you’re just hiring for the skills you want. Making sure your biases aren’t getting in the way. Making sure they have the soft skills to succeed at your company and making sure they are telling the truth. I feel like you should be able to master that if you were giving responsibility over tech, I want to wish you luck

    5. Artemesia*

      Figure out the most important skills you need to acquire and then how to acquire them. Is there a professional association with an archive of helpful shortcuts? or on line courses you can do? Are there other on line development opportunities with local colleges? Is any of this the sort of thing you can learn from books?

      It seems like a tidal wave — but they know you don’t have all this, so your task is to figure out what would be useful in gaining the most important skills and then get the resources to do that.

      I’d be really impressed as your manager if you came to me and said ‘in order to do X I need to bone up on ABC and I have identified an on line program that will be the quickest way for me to get up to speed. What do I need to do to get the resources to do this?’

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      With technology, you’re either a Jane-Jack of all trades or master of one-or-two trades. Many Directors of Technology don’t know all the intricacies of everything they supervise. My own boss doesn’t know all the technical details of what I do. So if you’re in charge of other people, no worries if you don’t know exactly what they do. If you’re literally in charge of everything yourself (purchasing, budgets, hardware deployments, software updates, server maintenance, backups, network infrastructure, etc.), then organization can have a reasonable expectation that you will right away be able to do all of that stuff well if you weren’t previously doing that stuff. Some stuff you should also be able to outsource (which will cost money but maybe less than hiring staff).

  19. Andrew*

    Hi everyone! I’m trying to find out more about what the hiring landscape is currently like and I’d appreciate your help.

    I’m an entrepreneur with 8 years of total work experience whose business relies quite a bit on international travel, and as you can imagine the ongoing situation has made things a bit bleak for us. I did some consulting work earlier in the year but just a month ago (mid-July) I started to send out resumes for full-time positions…and despite sending out a few applications per day, I’m having no luck at all except with companies with whom I’ve been able to get a warm introduction from a friend who works there.

    I can’t tell if the problem is with my resume/cover letter (I followed most of the tips on this website for those documents), if employers assume I’ll leave and start something new once the pandemic is over, if there are just so many applicants that I don’t match as nicely to the role as someone else, or if positions are being advertised that aren’t actually being filled.

    If you’re on the inside – what does hiring look like at your company right now? How many applicants are you getting for each position? What can I do to stand out as an entrepreneur?

    Thanks!

    1. ...*

      I can give my 2 cents. My company is actively hiring and we get about 100-400 applicants per role depending on the role. Interestingly, the higher level roles get a lot more applicants, but way less qualified ones, I’m not sure why that is. I think anything with business or e-commerce in the name just gets tons of resume spam. I would say having entrepreneur be the only thing on your resume could possibly hurt you. I would focus on things you have committed to and if interviewed try to show that you can be continuous and work as part of a group. My general tentative-ness with hiring people who have only their own company or entrepreneur on their app is that they likely won’t want to follow the standards and guidelines of the company. But I also have that fear with people who never held a job until post college (unfortunately its really rang true for this type of employee, but always trying not to be biased)

      1. Andrew*

        Thanks for the feedback – I actually worked at a tech company for 4.5 years post college and have been running my own business for about 3.5 years. Do you think that my tenure at the tech company mitigates that worry about not being willing to follow company guidelines?

        I’m also curious how I can get more feedback on my resume/cover letter – do you think friends who work in HR would be willing to help, or is that too much of an ask? I haven’t done this since 2011…

        1. Eether Eyether*

          I would suggest seeing a career counselor, who can help you with your resume. Good luck with your search!

          1. Andrew*

            How would I find a good one? Searching on this site seems to imply that many career counselors are not particularly well rated…

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yep, I used to offer a small number of them once a year, but it’s never been a regular thing and it’s not something I’ve done for a few years.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          If you worked in tech and are trying to get back in, I can assure you, many tech companies are still hiring (I’m in software). My company froze hiring for awhile, but my manager just let me know last week that he posted a position to have someone come and work alongside my counterpart doing what she does (we have different duties). You can try targeting software companies, especially ones that sell products that enable remote work – that said, there will likely be tons of competition for those positions, especially since many of them are home-based.

        3. ...*

          For me I would say yes it would be a big boost to see that they had also worked for a company. Personally I dont think its too big of an ask at all! Its weird getting back into all the resume stuff.

          1. Andrew*

            OK, I won’t feel bad about reaching out then. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. It really does feel weird, my tenure at my first company was a bit longer than most others (when I left, 92% of the current employees had started after I did) and I’m going to have to adjust to being the newbie again and make sure I put myself in the right mindset when interviewing.

    2. tuesday last?*

      I echo the huge number of applicants per job. My company is not well known, and we recently advertised for a position that required a PhD in a very niche area (not “materials engineering”, more “created *this* type of material with *that* process”). We got > 50 resumes from people all with PhD’s that were roughly what we were looking for. In past years, we’d get 10.

      1. Nikki*

        This might also be because of the situation in academia — a lot of the professors I know are looking for jobs in industry because colleges are reopening without a solid plan in place. Normally, academia would be a decently secure place (especially for a tenure-track PhD) but it’s a big health and safety risk right now.

    3. tab*

      Yeah, hiring managers will wonder if you’ll go back to your own business as soon as you can. I’d put a paragraph (or two) in your cover letter about what you miss about working for a company, and what you’re happy to leave behind when you stop working for yourself.

    4. Sara(h)*

      Sara(h) – Really, all the information you need to write an awesome resume and cover letter is right here, on this website. Seriously! Spend an hour or so reading AAM posts about resumes and cover letters, and you won’t likely need anyone else to help you write awesome ones!

  20. ClandestineGosling*

    I recently applied for two positions at the same company. I just received a Zoom interview invitation for one of the two. It isn’t the one that aligns with my skills most closely , but I am qualified for it. As part of this interview, I have been asked to give a presentation on a provided topic. The more I look at the job description and prompt, the more nervous I get. Anyone have any advice? While I’ve given presentations and have taught, I’ve never given one as part of an interview.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      I had to give a presentation as part of my interview; it’s standard in my department (though I hadn’t had to do it before this employer). I had also done non-interview presentations many times before and prepared the same was I do for those. I made sure to include details in the presentation that made it clear I had spent some time on the employer’s website, but in the context of my presentation topic, it made sense to do so it didn’t feel forced. My suggestion would be to tie your given topic to the employer and customize to the extent that you can.

    2. WFH_queen*

      We frequently do these at my company. What I found fascinating from one of our candidates (who is a rockstar employee now) is that she gave a presentation about her skills, but not really related to the industry, and still knocked it out of the park. We are a biotech company. She couldn’t talk about her previous company’s work that much, so she showed off her data analysis and coding skills with graphs and charts about netflix trends. She talked about science to the degree that she could, but this presentation stuck with me after 2 years because of that. YMMV, but try to treat it as a way to show off what you can do! Tie it to the job when you can, and when you can’t, show off your translatable skills in a fresh way. Best of luck! Also, remember that people will be interested in this presentation. I frequently went to interview talks of candidates outside my department bc it sounded interesting.

    3. rageismycaffeine*

      I had to give a presentation for my last job. I was in a similar boat to you – have given presentations and taught, but never for an interview, and never for such a small group of people (in this case, it was only two). I just treated it like any other presentation – heavily copyedited to make sure there were no errors, rehearsed into the ground, and on the day of made good eye contact and did all the other things that make a presentation good. I got the job and was told afterwards that the presentation really sealed it for them. It’s a great opportunity to really connect with your interviewers and show off your poise, confidence, and communication skills. Embrace it!

    4. Eppie*

      I’ve been part of interviews where candidates have to give presentations. So many people fail to treat them like you would a “real” presentation. Like stand up, don’t write a novel, practice for time. I don’t know about standing for zoom, but treat it exactly like it was client-facing and you are ahead of 1/3 of candidates I have seen.

  21. All the Cats*

    I haven’t interviewed for a job I really, really wanted in close to 20 years. This past week, I interviewed for a job with a different company, but at my current workplace. (There are multiple companies working together here on different aspects of projects.) I’ve had a couple of other interviews at other organizations in the past couple of years; two of them were difficult and weird and since I wasn’t sure I really wanted the job anyway, I didn’t mind that the interviews were tough. I had one other interview during that timeframe too and honestly, the job sounded interesting, the interview panel were absolutely lovely and I was offered the job a couple of days later, but we couldn’t come anywhere near agreement on a number, and parted ways amicably.

    Which brings me to now. I’m really invested this time, and I’m trying so hard not to be. I keep replaying and replaying the interview I had and second-guessing/criticizing myself. At this point I’ve convinced myself that I bombed. These people know me and have worked with me for several years, so even if I was awkward, they know I’m not an awkward person normally. I don’t know. I’m really beating myself up and driving myself crazy. How do you put it out of your mind? I haven’t been in this position in a long time.

    1. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Similar thing has happened to me and I wish I knew how to put it out of my mind.

      I interviewed for a position that I really, really wanted and would have solidified my ability to leave the state. The position was almost identical to a position I held for 17 years and have a whole lot of experience in – and not just experience, I was GREAT at my job and I enjoyed it. In all honesty, I can’t imagine they had another candidate with as much experience as me. They said that they’d be arranging 2nd interviews over Zoom by the end of business the day after my interview and…nada. Completely ghosted. It’s not that I was delusional enough to think I was a lock for this position, but I figured I would at least get a second interview, so now I’m stuck ruminating on what I did/said wrong in the interview.

      I mean, if I can’t even get a second interview for a job that the bulk of my life’s working experience makes me perfectly suited for, what chance do I have? I haven’t been able to think about anything else for days and have been relentlessly beating myself up much like you are.

      1. Anon For This*

        I feel you. I got to the finalist group last month for a position that I was both interested in AND incredibly qualified for. I have 20+ years experience across three organizations doing this kind of work, and I’m good at it. They went with the person who was the acting head of the department for the last six months. Who has five years experience in the field, all in that organization, at a much lower level.

        What I tell myself is that they picked the other candidate and whatever their reason(s), that meant that I would not be a good fit. And my coming on would have meant an uphill battle for me.

    2. PollyQ*

      It might be helpful to tell yourself, “However I did at this interview — good, bad, indifferent — it’s over and in the past, and nothing I do or think about it will change that. All I can do now is focus on the rest of my life and my current work, and hope for the best.”

      FWIW, I suspect you did much, much better than your anxiety brain is telling you. Good luck!

  22. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What big blunders have you committed? This week I “lost” two children as I forgot to ask the foster parent where she was leaving them for their vacation. ( don’t worry. The children are fine. I had assumed where they’d be and they were there)

    1. Acrobat*

      A week ago today I published something on the Internet that misspelled someone’s name. Instead of the VIP I was supposed to be referring to, my brain rummaged around and dredged up the name of a guy I went to high school with, 30 years ago. They had the same first name but different last names. It was live for a couple of hours before a kind citizen emailed me to say the name was incorrect. Ugh

    2. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      Not me (thank goodness), but a coworker forgot to convert inches to feet and ordered TWELVE TIMES too much material for a project. Luckily the vendor was actually kind of short on the material and called to see if they could fill a partial order. The coworker realized his mistake when they repeated the quantity back to him.

      1. Granger Chase*

        I had a coworker do something similar at my last job. We needed say 50 feet of llama wool fabric and instead coworker ordered 50 individual pieces of alpaca wool fabric. I opened the box and was very confused as to why we’d order that lol. Luckily we were able to return them, but we did have to hide the box from management for a bit until we could get the return shipping sorted.

    3. MissGirl*

      I’ve lost a kid teaching skiing. I had one who needed an emergency bathroom situation and stopped suddenly to run him into a lodge. One kid missed we stopped and kept skiing. I couldn’t chase him down because I had the kid in the bathroom and four others with me. Luckily, the run we were on has nowhere to go but back on a lift and I knew the lifties wouldn’t let him get on without an instructor. Otherwise I would’ve called in a red alert. We found him happily waiting for us with the lifties.

    4. Retail not Retail*

      Last winter, I blew up the train at the Christmas event. In my defense, the person in charge said give it another shot after it was giving me grief during the previous run. Luckily, I risked the wrath of customers and said, “I just need to test it, I’ll be right back!” Cue sarcastic grumbling. Well it wouldn’t go up the slight slope at the end of the tunnel and then POP! Some important something went flying. Everyone said it was okay, it breaks once a season, I just had to be the one in the drivers seat.

      More recently, when mowing I mowed mondo grass (it was “across” from the landmark too!) and it still looks horrible 3 months later. I also mowed over a cord and broke it. (The cord was buried at both ends and I’d gone over it a couple times before!)

      In the old retail days… i cashed a $600 fraudulent check. Got a talking to but since everyone hates the customer service desk and I liked it, no real consequences. I did tell a customer to go to competitor when only self checkout was open at midnight. She called the manager yadda yadda yadda… no talking to and I never worked overnight self checkout again. I win!

    5. rageismycaffeine*

      I hit “send” on an email blast to kick off a huge project right before I was going out for a week for surgery. The email went to a bunch of the wrong people (for reasons that were not my fault) so the morning after my surgery my work email was completely filled with panicked messages from my boss wondering what went wrong. The problem itself wasn’t my fault, but I definitely learned that I should never, ever do something that big right before a planned out of office. Ever. EVER. :)

  23. WellRed*

    I’m still shaking my head from the comments on a couple of letters this week but mostly one: the belief that masculine should be the default in so many things, including office decor, that feminist can be equated with being juvenile and that strong working women should emulate various cartoon characters.
    This community is more thoughtful and enlightened than many and yet this?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Just because that’s not the way it should be, doesn’t mean it isn’t how it is in reality. We’re all just well aware of how the world actually works, regardless of what we wish it was.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      People are simply being realistic. We live in a deeply sexist society. It’s foolish to pretend otherwise.

    3. fluffycushion*

      I understand where you are coming from but when giving advice it depends on how much power the advicee has.

      I have noticed the default on this site seems to be that the employee is some amazing in demand hire who can go around demanding their rights and being their authentic selves and is in a position to jeopardise their job for doing so.

      In reality many of us are just not that brilliant and in demand and need to play the game. In my dream job I have a pink office and I talk like a stereotypical millennial woman (lots of apologies! so sorry!) in reality I probably can’t get away with that.

      God bless all the trailblazers who demand rights and pink offices but some people just need to make rent next month ya know.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        I definitely agree that not everybody is in a position to kick up a fuss over things like this. That said, I know these are just figures of speech but I do think it’s kind of funny that you’re talking about pink offices and trailblazing and so on when what the OP of that letter was actually talking about was simply a slightly brighter shade of blue than usual that only one person seemed to have a problem with. I feel like there is a tendency when a woman (or any member of a marginalised group) does something slightly out of the ordinary for it to be sort of represented as though it’s a lot more radical/threatening than it actually is – certainly it would be pretty trailblazing for someone to demand a pink office against all opposition, but all that OP did was pick a shade of blue from the options that she had been offered.

    4. ...*

      Totally depends on the industry. I think this is why ive gravitated towards female heavy industries. Someone showing up in a hot pink pantsuit at my job wouldn’t be weird. Neither would decorating your dest with barbies and stuffed animals (I mean it would be weird, but if you were a good worker no one would care). Literally no one would care about this stuff. And thats why I work in fashion and jewelry lol. also I love it. guess im just an unsuccessful girly girl!?!?1

    5. CheeryO*

      FWIW, I saw lots of pushback on the cartoon character comment.

      There’s a difference between saying that masculine “should” be the default and acknowledging that it IS still the default in many fields. Everyone has to make their own choices with their own work culture in mind. If someone wants to have a super feminine office or present a hyper-feminine appearance in their male-dominated field, that’s awesome, but it’s also fine to decide to tone things down a little to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Someone will always have a dumb comment, which is exhausting, and you’re always left wondering if people aren’t taking you seriously or if you aren’t the right ~fit~ for your position. It’s not right, but it’s reality for many women.

    6. Spencer Hastings*

      On balance, I’m more disgruntled by the reverse: the idea that neutral things are inherently masculine. That is, when there’s not a deliberate performance of femininity, the feedback is either “ooh, how brave and non-gender-confirming you’re being!” if positive, or “ugh, why are you trying to be a man, femininity isn’t shameful” if negative. And yeah, sometimes I do non-gender-conforming things deliberately (e.g. sartorially), but these kinds of attitudes show up in response to things that I don’t really see as having to do with gender at all.

  24. Anax*

    Well, California’s on fire – and unfortunately, that’s where I live.

    We’re safe, but all the smoke in the air has me headachey and having trouble concentrating, and sometimes having to take my inhaler and lay down for a while. (Even with the doors and windows closed and all precautions possible. I feel like a hypochondriac, but I’m also asthmatic and pretty sensitive to smoke and heat.)

    How are the Californians coping with the sudden swing from “do everything outdoors” to “stay in a hermetically sealed container”? Are you, too, panic-refreshing Cal Fire twitter when you should be getting work done?

    Like, jeez, I was getting my productivity back… and now I’m just back to refreshing twitter every ten minutes.

    (Blocking it makes the anxiety worse, and I’m also trying to coordinate evacuation plans for my circle, since we’re one of the few households who can put folks up if necessary, and current air quality determines things like ‘if I can afford to take the trash out this morning.’ Things are changing very fast right now so I don’t feel safe just ignoring the situation.)

    1. Generic Name*

      Ugh, I am so sorry. Colorado has 4 major fires and the air has been filled with smoke for weeks. Awful. Luckily, the fires aren’t threatening the population centers along the front range, so I’m not having to prepare for an evacuation. You said that checking constantly affects your productivity, but not checking causes anxiety. Can you set up alerts for items that affect your area only? Do you have reverse 911 set up for your area and emergency alerts activated on your phone? Hang in there. It’s been a tough year.

      1. Anax*

        Unfortunately, not really – I have reverse 911 and emergency alerts set up, but that only affects the area immediately around me, I’m right on the county line which sometimes makes the alerts misbehave, and given all the technical delays and outages right now, I don’t trust them to be completely accurate. People up in Vacaville reportedly had no warning, they just had to run out of the house with the clothes on their backs.

        The two fires nearest me (within 45 minutes) started Sunday/Monday, and are up to about 350 square miles each, with significant growth expected today. It’s going FAST.

        There are at least 6 different agencies doing fire response near here, and they aren’t coordinating their efforts well, their websites are down, the maps aren’t updated often enough and evac orders aren’t written clearly, often the only information is a Snipping Tool doodle…

        Basically, the only way to know what’s happening in my immediate area is to sift through crowdsourced information, and it’s super possible for a town to look fine in the morning and be torched by evening.

        Thanks, I’m trying to keep it together, but… hoo boy, this year.

          1. Anax*

            Yeah, unfortunately so. Just like everywhere else with… trees. Or grass. Or bushes.

            We have a friend who lives just south of the I-80 with his immunocompromised parent, so … that was sure a day. They’re safe but had to evac, obviously.

    2. Dinoweeds*

      Ugh – I feel you on this. I’m in CO and can watch the William’s Fork Fire plume from my office window, which is highly distracting. I have the blinds closed, but it’s so easy to reach over and have another look. We are in an evacuation area and I sat down with corporate yesterday to make an evac plan, which actually made me feel a lot better. Is there anything like that that you can do? Something to just help you feel prepared for the future? I don’t know – I’m just here to say that I feel for you and am doing a rain dance!

      1. Anax*

        We have supplies and plan to shelter in place if possible, but I guess I can go through and update our notes on the emergency kit, and re-sort papers so they’re easier to grab-and-go if necessary. That might be productive; thanks.

        Unfortunately, we normally don’t get rain here until about November, so respite is unlikely, but…. hopefully it doesn’t burn too badly. Hope CO gets rain!

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        So sorry to hear about your situation. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to actually the smoke plume. I’m glad you’ve got a plan in place.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Also refreshing all the Twitters. But I got agoraphobia from the pandemic so I stay inside all the time anyway. I can’t concentrate on work for shit right now, I just don’t care on the petty crap and whining.

      I’m safe, but a friend of mine’s house burned down and I’m trying to figure out what to do for him, if anything, from a distance. I’m so heartbroken for him.

      1. Anax*

        Legit; I’m also inside almost all the time, between asthma and a bad hip, lol. Not even having the option in theory is surprisingly painful, though.

        (Hope the agoraphobia gets better; I’ve been there and it’s so exhausting.)

        I’m so sorry about your friend; I hope they were able to get at least a few things out.

      2. Anax*

        Legit; I’m also inside almost all the time, between asthma and a bad hip, lol. Not even having the option in theory is surprisingly painful, though.

        (Hope the agoraphobia gets better; I’ve been there and it’s so exhausting.)

        I’m so sorry about your friend; I hope they were able to get at least a few things out.

      3. Anono-me*

        I’m so sorry that you and so many are going through this.

        If this is a long-time friendship, it might be nice if you could share copied of any old-fashioned film style photos that you have of your friend and their loved ones.

    4. OperaArt*

      I’m in the San Francisco area, the East Bay. We’re not immediately near any fires but the air quality is vile. The Air Quality Index is likely to be “Unhealthy” later today, and possibly “Very Unhealthy” this weekend.

      I had to cancel an activity yesterday that we’ve been doing outdoors for the past couple of months. Pre-pandemic it was strictly an indoor activity. Being able to do it again even in an unusual setting has been so good for my physical and emotional health.

      I made a grab-and-go list in priority order just in case I have to evacuate. At the moment my city is not in any immediate danger. But we are surrounded by grazing lands which are tinder-dry this time of year.

      1. Anax*

        East Bay here, too, and we’re personally pretty safe, in our concrete-and-asphalt bit of the city. (I think we’re a hair east of you, because we haven’t escaped “Unhealthy” air in days, and it’s been “Very Unhealthy” about half the time. At least it hasn’t been raining ash yet, as far as I’ve seen.)

        Hope things get better soon, so you can go out. Those grazing lands have me nervous too.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I live in the near East Bay. We were on a planned (corona-safe) birthday getaway to Santa Cruz this week, and arrived just before the fires got bad. What terrible timing! We would have stayed home if we knew how bad it was going to be. Luckily, we were just south of the fire zone so it wasn’t so bad for us and there didn’t seem to be any point in going home even if it did really limit where we could go. Then heading back today, our car broke down! So we’re stuck in the far South Bay for the night and honestly I’m not too mad about it because the air quality is good and the hotel has A/C. (Even though I feel bad taking a room evacuees might have needed.) I’m not actually looking forward to getting home tomorrow to our hot, uninsulated, likely smoky home.

        We’ve done ok with shelter in place because we’ve been able to hike a lot. This is much worse, and much more depressing.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Yes, my entire extended family is currently in various fire evacuation zones. That’s never happened before, since they are scattered all over California. It’s incredibly distracting and I’ve found myself getting annoyed when I have to actually work, instead refreshing Cal Fire and feverishly searching Twitter for updates on all of the various fires.

      I realize that it will be days, possibly a week or more before I find out about everyone. My family always refuses mandatory evacuation orders, and while I’m trying not to panic, there doesn’t seem to be anything left standing in the area where the majority of them live.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Just received an update that everyone is still alive for now. Naturally, they are not evacuating, so that could change at any time.

    6. Double A*

      It just cooled down enough to open the windows to let the heat out but now we can’t because of the smoke. I’m in an area that is not currently threatened by fire (East of Sacramento) but have offered our guestroom to friends and/or a coworker who have had to evacuate. Said coworker very possibly could lose her house.

      Air pollution is know to have cognitive effects.

      We need to sit down as a family tonight and really nail down an emergency plan.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      Fellow Californian here, and I relate completely, down to the checking Twitter constantly and the being asthmatic part. What has been a lifesaver for me are portable indoor air filters. They make a huge difference, details on that below.

      My entire workplace is being impacted. One co-worker lost her home a couple days ago. Today several more were issued evacuation warnings. Personally, I’m a good distance away but I so feel for my colleagues and the smoke is awful. It’s been the worst in the world the last couple days.

      Our leadership team is fantastic. They understand that we’re distracted and we have flexibility to not be as productive. We’re getting frequent all-staff updates and offers of help. We have a dedicated chat channel for fire-related stuff. Our office is open for shelter should anyone need it, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

      I bought two filters after the 2017 fires that I keep at home and a third one for my office. There are a bunch of different kinds but the relatively affordable type I have, and that others have used successfully based on my recommendation, is the Levoit Compact True HEPA Tower Air Purifier. I see it’s still available online from multiple sellers. It’s nice that the filter is large enough to move easily from room to room. Once a day when it cools off in the evening, I open the windows for about an hour and a half to cool my place down, but otherwise the windows are closed. The filters keep it from feeling stuffy.

      Do you have the option to subscribe to emergency alerts from county? I’m on that list, and it’s super helpful.

      The other recommendation I have for air quality is the website PurpleAir. It shows in real time the results of air sensors that people have installed around the world, and you can zoom in on your local area to seewhen and where the air quality is worst. Where I live, I was able to drive elsewhere and get outside into fresh air yesterday, just from checking that website. There was a location not far from me that was less smoky based on the wind patterns.

      Stay safe!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Also, so much of what’s crazy about this fire is the sheer magnitude in so many directions. While worrying about fellow Bay Area people to the north, I’m also watching the devastation for people and places I care about further south. The folks I know personally to the east are far enough away to be safe but of course my heart still breaks for everyone in the Vacaville area who had to run out the door in the middle of the night. Terrible.

        Thank goodness that to the west of here, there’s water.

    8. Gumby*

      Thankfully, I live quite near the bay so I don’t worry about my place catching on fire. So I am able to check the fire map once a day and call it good.

      But the smoke! And the standard “you might have to leave the area” advice is far less doable now than usual. It’s not like it was easy/affordable in the past but it is even less possible in COVID-days.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        And regarding leaving the area, you would have to travel so far now to get away from the smoke.

  25. SharonC*

    A few years ago we talked about the difference between the language/behavior/thinking in blue collar jobs vs white collar jobs. That was great and made me realize that even though I’ve had a professional white collar career for decades, I still tend toward the more direct/frank language/thinking of blue collar work. That’s likely why I’ve never been promoted. The always-positive, coded language that seems to be required to excel in white collar professions tends to seriously annoy me. Recently I realized that it’s also because we “individual contributors” need to always find a way to let the manager save face. Like, the onus is always on us.

    For example, I work for two managers. My most direct manager has been steering me toward making my documents more concise, omitting descriptions of the current software behavior because the document audience knows it. I recently drafted some documents that went in that direction although not far enough, so after our QA team reviewed them and then he did, he asked me to trim it down even further. No problem at all. But then he told me to have my other manager review it and she had the opposite feedback: detail out the current behavior with screen shots and add more examples.

    When I mentioned to my direct manager that it sounded like her feedback was in contradiction to his and I wanted to head off a lot of rework if he saw that I added all that back in and didn’t like it (I used more diplomatic language), he said he read her feedback and it was not in contradiction to his at all. We had a brief skype call to review and discuss, which was fine. I said the right words, i.e. played the “white collar game” to let him outline how her feedback was actually the same as his (even though it wasn’t). I asked him diplomatically how we can improve the process because I clearly didn’t draft the documents in the way she wanted them done and she was the last person to review them (i.e. wasted the time of several people but in more tactful words). He said I should start with a quick outline and pull him and her into a quick skype to review it… and then in a lot of words he danced around trying to say “to make sure we’re all on the same page” without actually using that expression. I suspect because it would imply that we weren’t on the same page this time, which was true, but admitting that would contradict himself where he said he and she were not in contradiction.

    So convoluted. Anyway, I had a good outcome but the song and dance and need to let him save face still annoys me. It’s tedious and exhausting. What is wrong with being direct? If a manager apologizes for giving incorrect information or direction, does the world end? I know when I’m in a team lead position or training new people, I don’t hesitate to say things like “I’m sorry, I didn’t give you full information before, here is what’s needed…” or “Oh, that’s my bad, I forgot to tell you….” I don’t feel a need to save face, but instead I feel like our working relationship will be stronger if I treat you as a fellow professional.

    1. PX*

      For what its worth, some things like that are a company culture issue – not necessarily white collar. In all my jobs (white collar), giving clear and direct feedback has been seen as a pro and something like your example would never have happened.

      1. Cj*

        I agree that it doesn’t sound like a blue collar white collar thing. My job is definitely White Collar I’ve never run into this, either hearing it from other people or doing it myself

    2. rageismycaffeine*

      This is really interesting. I have only ever worked in white-collar jobs (at least since graduating school), but I still struggle with the positive and coded language of white-collar offices. I have found that my way of speaking, and my insistence on calling things out when I see them, has been a cause of conflict for me many times in the past – though just as frequently, I’m praised for my candor.

      I was raised by very blunt talkers, and also raised in the Northeast while I’ve made my home in the South for two decades. I’ve often attributed this conflict to the stereotypical Yankee’s lack of finesse vs. the more euphemistic ways of the South, because I’ve always been told there’s a difference there.

      I assume from your username that you’re a woman, like me. The more I’ve thought about the problems I’ve encountered with my way of communication, the more I have come to think that this issue is also a gendered one – if not even more this than it is any regional difference. Many, many people – of both genders – do not react well to a blunt, direct woman. We’re not socialized to believe that this is an acceptable way for women to behave.

      From reading your comment, I wonder if that’s part of what’s going on here – that both you and your other manager are women, and the manager you’re having problems with is a man. Could fragile masculinity be playing into this?

      Actually, on a broader topic, could fragile masculinity be the entire reason for the culture we both hate?

    3. Mockingjay*

      I see this as a more document ownership/process issue. Every boss has personal or different preferences for document scope and writing style, so of course they’re going to conflict when each reviews it. Although it’s not really a conflict; think of it as communication styles. Given the feedback, what’s the best way to incorporate the feedback while ensuring the document conveys information to its users? Can you rephrase things slightly and retain the clarity?

      A department style guide* for software documents will provide consistent a standard metric for evaluation. Pull one together and get the bosses to bless it. Then you’ve got push back. “I appreciate your feedback, Lucinda, but this section is structured according to the style guide for consistency.” If you do the same types of documents over and over, create a template, get it approved, and go forth.

      It’s easier to get bosses to agree on a solution you propose, rather than the two of them having to wrestle egos.

      *You don’t have to write a guide from scratch; look at existing industry standards and borrow what you need. I built a guide using bits from IEEE software document standards, a government style manual, and Microsoft’s style manual, which I’ve been using for 12 years. I just tweak it occasionally to suit the current project. Even easier, propose using an industry guide as is.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        As soon as I read your descriptions of what each manager wanted, I thought: Who is the audience for these documents? Does one manager have a group that is knowledgeable about the details, and the other manager have a group that isn’t?

        This isn’t necessarily a case of one manager asking for the “wrong” things. I would have looked at the entire situation from a higher level view. That is, find out what is the purpose/goal/use of the documents.

        Trying to write one doc ( or set of docs) for 2 very different audiences is never useful. If there’s lots of explanations and screenshots, the technical audience gets annoyed at having to wade through stuff they already know, and keeps thinking “get to the point already”. Or after a certain amount they just don’t read any more.

        Conversely, if you make the docs for the technical audience based on what they already know, the non-technical audience gets lost and confused. They complain to you, or call support, or complain to their coworkers about how the docs don’t help.

        There are ways to avoid this. One is to “interview” each boss to determine what that boss’s is for the purpose of the docs, and who they think will benefit from them. By “who” I mean the knowledge level of the readers.

        There are ways to structure and organize docs to accommodate both audiences but it takes planning. You can have a section or separate section for the technical audience and another section for the less technical.

        The other techniques when your reviewers have vastly different comments is to call a meeting with both of them, to discuss the documents. Present the differences of opinion as just that, and as them how they view the docs being used, and by whom. After each person says their bit, you can summarize/restate: “So Sally, your point is , and George, your point is .”

        Be ready to suggest solutions, like ways to restructure the docs, or separate into multiple docs like a technical summary, and a “walkthrough “ of new features. Use descriptive titles so readers can decide which one to read.

        This whole thing doesn’t seem to have anything to do with being blunt, especially if you approach it as two sets of equally valid opinions, rather than “one boss is right and the other is wrong”.

        And while I think of it, before you write any drafts, are you writing doc plans with outlines, sending the plan to ALL reviewers at the same time, and then having a meeting to iron out any differences?

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I totally relate. I have a masters degree and 30 years of professional roles, but cannot seem to break this code either. My blue collar “Get-Er-Done” mentality seems to really threaten the white collar work style of having to consult, and discuss everything to death before a lick of actual work takes place. It’s tedious and frustrating.

      My best manager was a German woman who many thought was cold, but to me was just very no-nonsense, direct and forthright. We got on great! But that was a rarity.

  26. a username*

    For those of you with non-risky pre-existing conditions that can duplicate COVID symptoms on a daily or frequent basis (autoimmune, allergies, gastro disorders, etc.) and have to fill out daily symptom reports to determine if you go into work or work remote… where do you tow the line? How do you decide when its “probably safe” to go in and when you should opt to stay home? Ours that’s about to start states we “may” choose to not report symptoms that we know are pre-existing. But I’m concerned that BECAUSE my symptoms are there so frequently, I wouldn’t be able to know when they stop being nothing to worry about. I hate this. I have a job that could easily stay remote, but that butts-in-seats mentality is real.

    1. a username*

      And by non-risky, to clarify, I mean conditions that don’t put you at increased risk of COVID!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Speaking as someone who has that kind of condition and has had COVID:

      * the COVID cough was noticeably different from allergy cough or seasonal cold/flu cough
      * the fever was an absolute horror
      * the gastric symptoms came in week 2, and would have precluded any kind of travel or work!

      I am firmly on the “if you can WFH you should WFH” side of the argument so I would absolutely suggest that any unusual symptoms should nudge you into WFH. If you always have a cough but not this cough, if your stomach is often unreliable but you’ve had nothing remotely triggering for a week, if you simply can’t keep your eyes open, etc.

      However, I would also suggest that filling in daily symptom reports isn’t as useful as having a symptom checklist – loss of smell/taste should be an immediate trigger to isolate/WFH/test, for example – and that a company that wants a paper trail and is happy to give symptoms the benefit of the doubt, rather than encouraging maximum WFH, may not have your best interests at heart.

      1. Katrinka*

        I was the same, except no gastric stuff. It came on quickly and in less than 12 hours I had a high fever and a terrible cough. Once the fever started is when I knew it wasn’t just a cold or even the flu. And taking Tylenol had no effect on the fever or the aches.

        Also, the loss of sense of taste. I was sick before we even knew COVID was in the US, so no one knew what to look for. But I remarked to my mom that it was hard to make myself eat or drink anything because nothing had a flavor.

    3. ExcelJedi*

      I’m not yet making this decision for work but on a very limited social basis, my allergies always scare me. I’m either sniffly and watery-eyed, or my nasal spray gives me a scratch throat and a cough if take the recommended dose. (I usually take less than the recommended dose for this reason.)

      I’ve been watching myself a lot as a result. I take my temperature daily so I know know what a normal range is for me and when something’s different. At this point, I feel like if secondary symptoms (tears) accompany nasal congestion, it’s allergies. I allergies are really bad and I take my full recommended dose, I expect a sore throat and cough but I take my temperature 3 or 4 times a day just to make sure that’s it.

      Mostly, I’m vigilant and taking in as many information points as I can. In March and April I thought I had COVID half a dozen times before I realized exactly what was happening with my allergies. I’ve had them for years, but I never paid so much attention to them.

      1. SweetestCin*

        Similar to ExcelJedi, there is NOT a season in which I don’t have miserable environmental allergies. The level of medication that I need to completely wipe out symptoms, well, wipes ME out (a family who is a LEO verified I could not pass a field sobriety test while medicated like that).

        I medicate to alleviate as much as possible while remaining clear headed, keep a sharp eye on everything else, and take my temperature a LOT.

    4. Jaid*

      This is pretty hard to think about. My job doesn’t have a mandatory daily report, just a information pop-up detailing the symptoms of C19.

      However, my internal thermostat is broken and I’ll have days where my temp goes from 97.5 to 99.9 depending on my environment and if I have a fan blowing on me. But prior tests says it’s not Covid or an infection, so unless the fever is really wearing on me, I’ll go to work. (Doc says it’s probably menopause and seeing as how I’m fifty…)

    5. Bear Shark*

      I’m interested in this as well. I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and the way they phrased it was did I have any new symptoms or changes in symptoms in the past x amount of time that I didn’t have an alternate cause for. I’m pretty sure that the random cough I have with accompanying irritated eyes are allergies since it’s the right time of year and allergy medicine decreases the symptoms but I can’t guarantee that.

      1. Katrinka*

        Did they take your temp? They took mine first thing at both dr offices I went to today, in addition to running down the symptoms.

        1. Bear Shark*

          The dr office took temps. Work just called us all back into the office and they aren’t doing any checking, just telling us to stay home if we have Covid symptoms.

    6. The Rain In Spain*

      I think you know your workplace, but I think it makes the most sense to err on the side of caution and stay home. The alternative is that one could potentially expose others (unintentionally of course), and that seems to outweigh any benefit of being there in person.

    7. badger cat*

      For what it’s worth, our daily screener asks us to report symptoms that are out of the ordinary for us. So I don’t report my near-constant August sniffles, but when I got a sore throat the other week, I did report that, and I’d report my congestion if it suddenly escalated or if I was starting to feel sick otherwise. In my mind, doing it this way gives me some cover if I ever get pushback for staying home with whatever symptoms I report: instead of having to argue that yes, I’ve reported sniffles every day but on the days I stayed home, it was different / more worrying, it simplifies things to be able to show that I came in on all my ‘no symptoms’ days and stayed home when I had something to be concerned about.

    8. Annony*

      Use your preexisting condition as the baseline. So if you have diarrhea pretty often, then having diarrhea isn’t really a reportable symptom for you but having it much worse than usual is. Same with the cough. If you have your normal allergy cough, it is probably allergies. If the cough is different than your normal cough you should include it.

    9. Ranon*

      Most models show symptom screening as “possibly better than useless, but not much” so, honestly, make the choice you’re most comfortable with but know that it’s not you that’s wrong, it’s the tool. With so much asymptomatic spread and even symptomatic people spreading before symptom onset this is pretty much security theater anyways.

    10. Lindsay*

      I would just put no, because it’s not related to covid. I have IBS and I definitely know the difference between my IBS stomach upsetand food poisioning or illness. Like, yes, I have major IBS flare ups on a regular basis but no, it’s not covid.

    11. MMM*

      I report my symptoms to a crowd-sourcing COVID symptom tracking app, and the two options they give are “I feel physically normal” and “Something’s not quite right”, which is then followed by more specific symptom questions. I like that language because I know that sometimes I just wake up stuffy or whatever, but I can distinguish normal from concerning.

  27. Generic Name*

    Maybe this is more appropriate for the weekend thread, but I’m hoping to get advice about work, so I’m posting it here. My son was just diagnosed with autism. ABA is the recommended therapy, but I’m reading that it is supposed to take up 25-40 hours a week!! How am I supposed to work full time while dong this? Has anyone else gone through this while working full time? I am not able to quit my job or go part time because I am the primary breadwinner and carry my family’s insurance. I’m super overwhelmed. I haven’t even told my son yet.

    1. Anax*

      I can’t speak to working while dealing with that, but I *can* tell you that intensive ABA might not be the best course of action – something much less intense might work better for both you and your son. (ABA is kind of an umbrella term due to how insurance covers therapy/resources for autistic kids, but ABA “proper” also was developed by a researcher also working on gay conversion therapy, and uses the same methods. So, um. Use caution.)

      The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has some resources here which might be useful: https://autisticadvocacy.org/policy/toolkits/healthcoverage/

    2. OyHiOh*

      ABA assumes a full time parent at home, or your child receiving services in a school/classroom environment.

      There are other concerns, more suitable to the weekend thread but for work purposes, the model assumes a home staying parent/guardian/care giver. You literally can’t make this work, yourself, unless you can/are able to delegate therapy hours to someone else.

    3. Spearmint*

      You should be aware that ABA therapy is controversial in the autism community, and many people with autism are opposed to it. So you might want to research the controversy and alternatives yourself, first, and not rely solely on the advice of a single professional.

      (I don’t know enough to come down on one side or the other myself, but I have seen these debates in my online social circles, which have many autistic people in them)

    4. Anon for This*

      You don’t say how old your son is, though since you are talking about telling him, I assume he is old enough to understand. And in the time of COVID everything is different so my story may not work for you. But my son was 3-4 years old when he was diagnosed. Everything I was told or read about therapy etc. was rather scary for the same reason. But after all the panic about this becoming my full-time job, and talking to my pediatrician and the psychologist who gave us the diagnosis, we found that he could have therapy one morning a week (provided by the school system where I live, so see what resources are available in your area). That in addition to his regular day care, then school, and some work/exercises we did at home to reinforce the therapy was sufficient. (E.g., family dinner at the table. Conversation around the table. Have a talking stick – you only talk when you have the stick. Make eye contact with the speaker.)

      I worked it out with my boss – I would arrive late the day of therapy and make up the time across other days, and it all worked. I think I was the first flextime worker approved in my department!

      It IS overwhelming, so take a deep breath, make sure you have what you need, and then take whatever the next step is. This can be a challenging journey. Some days are harder than others. But having the diagnosis will help you get other resources. (Caution: everything you read on parenting a child with autism will contradict something else you have read – don’t let it drive you crazy. )

      Good luck.

    5. bunniferous*

      Reach out to @shannonrosa on Twitter. She is a parent with an autistic teen and an activist in the autism community. I am not dealing with this in my own family but I have followed her blog online for almost two decades and if I were dealing with this in my family she would be my first pit stop. Her twitter is chock full of information and advocacy for the community.

    6. Deanna Troi*

      My sister is an ABA therapist and she goes to the student’s home in the evenings (not right now, however). The parents work. I don’t know that she spends that many hours a week with each student, though.

    7. Teacher Lady*

      If you are receiving these services through a public school district, you probably have a Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SPEDPAC) in your district. I highly suggest reaching out to them and finding out if they can link you up with other parents/families who have received similar services. There may be other advocacy groups in your area for families of children/youths with autism as well.

  28. Sunflower*

    Is success coaching a real thing and what makes folks hire them/makes them successful? I recently picked up the book You are a Bad*ss and the author is a success coach. Reading the author’s background, her life was basically in shambles and she hired a financial advisor and now she’s a success coach. She doesn’t have any real HR or business experience (I’m not doubting her or her advice, just wondering what makes folks want to hire her).

    I’m seeing a lot more of success/life coach folks(even therapists) building a social media presence and I’m very interested by careers that combine helping with a strong sales pitch (this would be my ideal job!) but the idea of a success coach seems difficult to grasp- curious about other jobs that combine these two things!

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I think I read the same book (was recommended to me). If it’s the same one, she borrowed some incredible amount of money–something like $80K–to work with a success coach, and now she charges awesome amounts of money to be other people’s success coach. It sounds like prosperity gospel to me: throw all your money at the guru and you will THRIVE!

      Helping plus a strong sales pitch is kinda the definition of scam. What is it about that combination makes this your ideal job!?! Am I missing something? It sounds like finding people who need help and then selling them like mad on your solution. I smell Trump U in that combo.

    2. Wintergreen*

      It sounds like a rebranding of motivational speaker. Some people end up making a hellava lot of money at it but most don’t. Some people find it useful to use, some don’t. A nice motivational speech and a little personal cheerleader will get me going for a mile but if I need to do a marathon it just doesn’t work. I think those who are successful are risk-takers who are good at getting people fired up to walk that mile and are really good at convincing people to come back over and over and over again to get them past the marathon finish line, one mile at a time.

    3. Kiitemso*

      I think it’s just a branch of self-help that is focused on business. I listen to podcasts in this genre sometimes because I find the whole self-help/coaching industry fascinating but I never want to participate, pay or get suckered in. Podcasts are a free way to get nuggets of what might be useful or just to hear circuitous advice that is impossible to implement or fatuous. “Success mindset” “growth mindset” “do the work” a lot of it is this kind of buzzwordy stuff that ignores a lot of real world factors, including privilege, right-place-right-time, pure luck and actual predatory business practises, that contribute to people’s success.

  29. ThursdaysGeek*

    I just wanted to brag on my company.

    We had an all IT meeting earlier this week, and one of the topics was backgrounds on the web meetings: use these kinds, don’t use those kinds, with the don’t use things like Star Wars and the like. One guy commented that the examples of ‘don’t use’ included all of his, and there was a small amount of gentle push-back.

    Before the meeting was over, the CIO said that this document wasn’t final, and as for backgrounds, fit the background to the situation. In other words: be professional when the situation requires it. She listened, she treated us like adults and professionals, and that is the way this company works.

    1. Lovecraft Beauty*

      Man, if I had to give up my TARDIS background, I would be very grumpy. It’s started some very nice chats with vendors and provides a nice neutral topic for that awkward few minutes while you’re waiting for the last people to sign in!

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I take most of my Zoom meetings from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, and I am unapologetic about it.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It’s really great that the CIO was willing to take the feedback and be flexible. That’s really good leadership.

  30. Flaxseed*

    I missed a call yesterday, but they didn’t leave a message. I was curious and looked the number up online and it was from an employer that I recently applied to. I don’t want to call because they didn’t leave a message. Is there anything to do? Do I just hope that they contact me again?

    1. londonedit*

      I would call them back! It doesn’t matter that they didn’t leave a message, you can still call back. If it’s a generic front desk number and you’re not sure who would have called, just give your name and say that you think they were calling in relation to the Teapot Coordinator open position, and they’ll probably be able to redirect you to the right person.

    2. Jen MaHRtini*

      I would give it until Monday. It’s possible the person calling you was interrupted by something urgent before they could leave a message.

    3. Wintergreen*

      What is with the not leaving messages trend? There are so many scam calls out there. I stopped answering unknown numbers years ago after I figured out 95% of my calls were scams, 4% were people in my contacts (so their names popped up when they called), and the remaining 1% were legit places like my dentist or vets that left a message. I worry about that now, when I’m looking for a job but I really can’t stand scammers**.

      I’ve had similar issues at a previous job where I had a lot of customer contact. I would get customers who would start yelling at me when I answered the phone because they had called 4 times! I would apologize for not getting any messages and it would turn out that they didn’t leave a message because they figured I could just check caller ID. I had to change my phone message to say “Please leave a message, our phone system does not log missed calls.”

      **The call I mention all the time, I was almost back to the office from lunch when my phone rang. It was my boss but I was three minutes away so didn’t answer. When back at the office I went and found her. Nope, she didn’t call. It was some scammer who had coincidentally spoofed her number.

      1. Windchime*

        I actually got a spoofed call that looked like it was coming from my son, who worked the night shift as a law enforcement officer. It scared me to get a call supposedly from him at 6 AM. It wasn’t him; it was just a spam call that happened to pick his number.

      2. Katrinka*

        We have the opposite problem – parents who call the school’s main number before listening to a message that would tell them who called and why. So we end up having to put them on hold and call around the school to see if anyone knows who called them. Usually, we can figure it out, but sometimes we have no idea (because we can’t reach all the teachers or because the call is from two months ago (yes, seriously)).

    4. PollyQ*

      I would call back, either today or Monday. I’m a senior Gen X-er, and I would always leave a voice message, but I think there are more & more younger people who know that you’ll see their caller info and assume you’ll call back based solely on that.

  31. beanie gee*

    One of the letters this morning reminded me of my ongoing awkward situation.

    Any advice for dealing with a former coworker who wants to work at my new company?

    I have a friend and former coworker who I like, but do not want to work with again and wouldn’t be a good fit at my new company. I’ve been at my new company for about a year and they asked me not long after I moved about a position we had posted. My HR person gave them a courtesy interview but ultimately let them know the position was filled.

    Since then, they’ve hinted at other jobs posted, but I’ve struggled with how to be honest yet kind that they just wouldn’t be a good fit at this company.

    Any advice? Should I be direct about it, or just keep dodging the hints?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, I don’t think it’s really up to you to inform this person they’re not a good fit at the company. Let them apply and keep getting rejected. If they ask for your opinion during the hiring process, since the two of you have worked together in the past, you can offer what your experience has been, and then leave it up to the hiring managers.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Can you convincingly/truthfully say that you have nothing to do with the hiring process and they should just apply in the normal way?

      Sympathies. There are people I like personally but not professionally (and, come to think of it, vice versa) so I can definitely see how I could be in your situation.

    3. irene adler*

      Can you articulate the fit issue in such a way that former coworker will understand that they would be unhappy working there?
      For example: “this employer is a “butts-in-seats” company and I know you despise that philosophy. I’d really hate for you to end up unhappy at a job I recommended you for.”
      Or, indicate that you have no influence over HR or hiring managers so they need to apply via HR directly.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I work for a small company and most of our hiring has been word-of-mouth. Back in February we started talking about hiring a position. I heard through a friend that another acquaintance was finishing up an associates degree that would line up with that type of work. My boss didn’t have any qualms about training someone inexperienced, so I told her to send me her resume. She sent it over at the beginning of March, then things just started hitting the fan Covid-wise. There was no way we could have hired anyone during that time!

      I know this person causally, we’re not close friends or anything. I knew a little bit about her background, enough to know she was working for a pharmacy but wanting to switch career paths. When I talked to her in February, she was still employed at the pharmacy, so I didn’t feel a super rush to push anything through considering she wasn’t unemployed. I was going to let my boss go through his process and interview multiple candidates and not be pushy for any one person. Of course, Covid threw a wrench in that.

      She hounded me the whole months of March and April about getting my boss’s attention. Honestly, the way she acted during that time made me want to pull consideration for her at all. I had to keep telling her that we were in a tough spot – our industry was heavily affected at the beginning of Covid and we came to a complete stop for about 6 weeks. My boss had enough to stress about and I wasn’t going to bring it up. I don’t think she liked that answer, but what am I supposed to do?! The whole world was thrown for a loop! It said a lot about her, and honestly I don’t think I’d want him to consider her for the position after all, unfortunately.

      I don’t see her often, so it’s not like I have much to lose by being upfront if she asks again. What’s tough is her friend who originally recommended her might think negatively about me. If it comes up, I’ll just have to be honest and let them know I didn’t appreciate her style of communication and she caused me stress. Ugh!

      1. beanie gee*

        Ugh, that sounds like such a rough spot!

        I really appreciate everyone’s advice! I’d been thinking since I am in a position of either recommending or not recommending this person for the role, they knew I had some influence over the hiring. But you guys reminded me that I can very easily just keep saying that it was HR’s decision. I don’t necessarily want to keep directing them to apply see how it goes (knowing that it won’t go), but I can use that if they push.

        irene, the fit issue is a good idea. I’d been stuck on not saying anything about the fit since it has the potential to point out their weaknesses, but I think I can frame it more like, “I know you’re looking for a company with x qualities and that’s just not this company.”

        Thanks everyone!

  32. Hotdog not dog*

    I’ve been looking for a new job in my field since February, but I keep receiving feedback that I am both overqualified (based on experience) and undereducated (never finished college because I was too busy working). Going back to school is not an option right now, and I am thinking of taking an entry level position in a new field just to get benefits and income while I keep trying. I was laid off after 26 years with the same company in an industry where everyone knows each other. Most of the companies in our industry are currently either laying off or have hiring freezes due to Covid, so it could take a while. My spouse is taking it poorly, since he feels I will go off track and never get back to where I was career or salary wise. Have any of you started over on the bottom rung? Were you able to get back (or close) to where you wanted to be? I don’t really have an interest in entry level clerical work, but I can tolerate it for the sake of living indoors and buying groceries. Also a factor, if I have to keep spending all day at home with my spouse complaining about my un/underemployment I may lose it!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Yoooo tell your spouse if he wants to complain about you possibly being underemployed, he can do it to someone else! His job is to support you, not sit there and weep because you’re in such a ~*terrrrrible*~ situation.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah. He can help you by working with you to figure out how to cut expenses. But “you might never get back to the salary you had” is true whether you take a lower-level job or not.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          We’ve cut our expenses to the bone! He’s generally supportive, but is a worrier by nature and unfortunately does not work himself. (disability). Because of Covid, we’ve been keeping our distance from other friends and family so we’re stuck with only each other to complain to. I think he’s concerned that if I don’t like my job he’ll be the one having to listen to me complain. I’m trying to determine whether stepping so far backwards might cause permanent damage to my career or if it’s a sensible emergency measure.

          1. ...*

            Its kind of a spouses job to listen to you complain (within reason). Just as you support him by working full time because he isn’t able to

          2. Natalie*

            The best place for your spouse to work on his anxiety is with a willing third party – therapist, support group, sensible friend.

            I’m confused about this idea that taking a survival job will somehow damage your career, compared to your other actual options. If your industry is contracting due to the pandemic, jumping into a lateral position elsewhere and just remaining on your current trajectory with no change isn’t realistic. Sure, maybe it will happen, and if you like your field you should certainly keep perusing job ads, but it’s not anything you can bank on.

            So you’re looking at some kind of setback either way. The question is, do you think your career will be damaged more by taking an entry level job in a different field, or remaining unemployed for as long as it takes you to find a job in this field?

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I’m team Sensible Emergency Measure.

            Once we reach the After times, if you start interviewing again in your original industry, I’m guessing people will completely understand why you needed to make the temporary lane change. You say that your industry is declining overall right now, so I’m sure the people in charge of hiring are aware of that and will respond with some variation of “Oh, yeah, the pandemic was a really hard time to be working in this industry.” And in the meantime, you have to eat and pay bills. Do what you need to do to keep afloat.

          4. Esmeralda*

            Well, you could have money coming in. Or you could not take a job that doesn’t have prospects and not have any mone coming in.

            So, money now that is less than what you were earning
            Or, no money now, which is also, you know, less than you were earning.

            I’m fairly risk averse, so I would take the dead end job and keep looking for a good job. I would not, with the worst economy since the great depression and with a pandemic that is not going away any time soon, go without a job.

    2. should I apply*

      I haven’t had direct experience in what you are asking about, but I think it is possible. For example, my cousin was a high level buyer at a major department store but was laid off. Due to the jobs that were available in her area she took an entry level call center job for logistics mostly for benefits, and was promoted within three months, and has been promoted again since then. Is she back to where she started that is hard to say, but she didn’t stay at the entry level for very long.

      I think if you try to go that route, you really need to understand what a companies opportunities and policies for advancement are.

  33. Princess Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

    Yesterday in the subreddit r/unpopularopinion there was a post that made it to the front page, in which a Gen X business owner said he respected millennials’ willingness to walk away from jobs where they aren’t treated well, and essentially call the bluff “if you don’t like it, leave.”

    I enjoyed reading all the anecdotes of people moving on from jobs, and discussing all the trappings of this phenomenon without the implicit overlying shame of laziness or disloyalty. I like my generation, but I really let all the shaming get to me when it was all over the place like 10 years ago, so it always builds up my self esteem a little bit when we can talk about valuing ourselves as employees and as human beings.

    1. Mazzy*

      You saw that too? I rarely ever go to unpopular opinion and usually hang out in my area’s covid chatroom to get information and I actually saw this one. I honestly hate the whole premise. I thought it was actually smug. It read to me like “I am happy for you that you can’t commit to anything difficult, and in this situation, your giving up so easily actually benefits you.”

      Now maybe older boomers (70+) stayed at one job longer, but it’s just not true that the lack of loyalty to employers thing started recently. This has been growing for years, and is not a millennial thing.

      Did no one quit jobs before 2010? No. Is there a huge problem of younger people walking off jobs and telling off their bosses? No.

      1. CastIrony*

        But how many people let their health be ruined because they stayed at a toxic job? It breaks my heart to think about that. When people leave, it’s because they fought to stay and tried to hope it would get better, but it never did, and they’ve had enough.

        Reading your reply hurt, and I couldn’t stay quiet. I have wanted to stay at jobs, but the way superiors treated me destroyed me to the point that I quit suddenly. So don’t say that people leave “just because it gets hard”. P

    2. Viette*

      I’m really in favor of supporting people who recognize that their jobs aren’t good for them and leave. I quit a (relatively prestigious and high-paying) job that was treating me badly enough that all my colleagues recognized it, and yet I was met with a *lot* of, “quit?! quitting is big deal! you’re just going to go get a different job?” Why would I not? This one sucks and other better jobs exist.

      It was strange to hear how ingrained that attitude was when the job was obviously terrible, and not about to improve. I found a new, also relatively prestigious and high-paying, job and quit to go do that — and got told I was brave for “standing up for” myself.

  34. Hollyhock*

    So we recently had to layoff some people at my place of employment, including someone in my department who had been there a year and a half. Since taking on some of her duties I’m noticing some issues with her work. Some of them are small like incorrectly adding/updating information in our database which I then have to update as I find it (annoying and possibly can result in incorrect data when reporting, but still relatively minor). Some are a bit bigger.

    For example, one of her tasks was to run monthly payments for people who signed up for them. I discovered that she hadn’t done it the month she was laid off or the month before, which meant I had to reach out to those people and confirm if I could run payments for both months at the same time.

    I also discovered a spreadsheet where she was tracking people who had signed up for a special promo. One of them had a note next to their name stating that they wanted to use funds they had on credit from cancelled products to pay for this promo (it was a google sheet so I could see that my former colleague had put the note in 2-3 months before being laid off). However, she never performed the transaction, never asked me (or anyone else) to do so, even though I regularly reached out to her about people who had signed up for this promo and still hadn’t paid (one of the stipulations for signing up was paying by a certain date, but with Covid and all we were pretty lenient on that). If I hadn’t seen that note the client may have missed out on the promo. When I reached out to the client to confirm that she wanted to use funds on credit (since I didn’t have anything in writing I wanted to make sure) she seemed confused why I was asking since my former co-worker had told her it was all taken care of.

    While I don’t think these instances are necessarily worthy of action in themselves, this co-worker has previously had work issues that affected me (and which I spoke about with her and our supervisor as appropriate). I also have reason to believe she was on a PIP at one point (though of course I cannot be positive).

    So my question is, since the co-worker has been laid off anyway, is there any point in flagging these issues for our shared supervisor? It’s unlikely we’ll be able to re-establish her position for at least a year (and I would sincerely hope she has a new job by then!) but if she does decide to reapply for a position that’s open down the line I think it would be important to note these issues with her work. At the same time, I don’t want to harp on the work of someone who is no longer here anyway (it feels a bit mean-spirited, especially as she was laid off and didn’t just move to another position).

    1. BadWolf*

      Are there processes that should be put into place because of the mistakes? Like someone should generally be auditing or double checking these things? Or there’s a checklist process to be added? I guess I would approach from that angle if needed.

      1. Hollyhock*

        I actually did set up some specific scheduled reports in response to the issues I found in terms of data entry! To be fair, it wasn’t just her, but most others who make similar mistakes are in other departments. Also, prior to this I had actually been working on a process to streamline the monthly payment process anyway (which is now active!) so that piece of it is now a moot point as well.

        I guess it’s more the overall it’s just more a matter of not trusting her attention to detail and ability to keep on top of important tasks. Again, it’s unlikely to be an issue anymore, but on the off chance it is I’m not sure if it’s better to raise concerns now or wait to see if she re-applies somewhere down the line and then talk with my supervisor.

    2. Colette*

      Yes. She should know so she can factor it into references, as well as in case they start bringing people back.

    3. TiffIf*

      Given the issues that you have found it is quite possible that there might be other issues that you haven’t found yet that could impact a client and maybe cause a complaint down the road–I would say something to the supervisor like “In taking over Lisa’s duties I have found some issues, such as payments that weren’t processed when they were supposed to be–so far I have been able fix them without issue, but I wanted to let you know in case a client comes back to us with an issue we haven’t fixed yet.”

      I mean, just having to contact the clients to confirm you could run two months worth of payments could have gone badly.

      1. JimmyJab*

        I agree with this suggestion. Giving your boss a head’s up would be excellent in case she encounters something related to these errors, especially as she may assume you were the one responsible for the error as the current person doing that work.

    4. Anono-me*

      In addition to wanting these mistakes on record in case this person ever applies at your company again; you might also want your direct supervisor to know why it is taking you so much longer than expected to take care of these things.

  35. Millennial Lizard Person*

    When being passionate isn’t enough: had a tough conversation with my boss recently because my output has been stagnant lately (and objectively not great quality). Boss said compared to what I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t seem like I’m putting in the effort right now– that it doesn’t seem like I care. I replied that work is really, really important to me, and she said then where are the results? I’ve risen to challenges before, so why not right now?

    I’m also getting my master’s part-time, so I haven’t had a weekend in months. The master’s is for work, so I feel like I’ve been working 60 hours a week for the past 12 months. Literally everything I have done since I was old enough to remember has been career focused. Gotta get good grades to get into a good college to get a good degree to get a good job to do cool things — now I have the job, but I’m not doing great at it. I love this career, I’ve loved previous parts of the work, I’m really interested in my classes, and I can’t keep up at work. But of course a different coworker is also getting his master’s while working so it’s not an excuse. :/ I thought I was doing my best, but I guess it just isn’t good enough. This position was a promotion, with my boss taking a bit of a chance on me, and I’m letting her down. Sooooo should I start looking for different jobs?

    1. Sunflower*

      Hmm it’s hard to know if your boss is being reasonable here. Is your boss saying you aren’t meeting the expectations of the role or you just aren’t working to the level she thinks you’re capable? Those are very different things.

      Do you generally feel like your boss/company is reasonable?

      1. Millennial Lizard Person*

        Both, I think. I’m a little under-qualified for this role, so I’ve been making more mistakes than I did in my previous role, in which I excelled. So Boss has seen me do better and has pretty high expectations for this job.

        In terms of the company, we’re chronically overworked, so we just have to work harder to stop everything from falling apart. So my not being able to perform tasks A, B, and C means that other people have to drop their tasks to fix my own.

        1. PX*

          Ooooh. Sorry but none of that sounds good – mainly because it sounds like a company which generally has unreasonable expecations of people.

          Option 1: How good are you at being able to develop a thick skin? Ie for the short term period while being overworked due to your Masters, can you accept that your output isnt going to be that great and your boss may not be happy with that? Are you in a position where you can tell her that? Do some expectation management?

          Option 2: Sounds like company culture isnt going to change – is this really making you happy? Obviously if work is paying for the masters you may have an obligation to stay for a few years to pay it back, but is this kind of culture somewhere you want to be long term?

        2. WellRed*

          That sounds unreasonable. The employees are chronically overworked so the answer is the employees “just have to work harder to keep everything from falling apart?” This is a company problem, not a you problem.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I agree with this. It sounds like this company just doesn’t employ as many people as the workload seems to demand. Of course, there’s nothing MLP can do about that.

            MLP, you say you’ve been going nonstop for a year. That’s a long time to be working at that level of intensity. Do you have any paid leave accrued? I think taking some time and getting some real and healing rest might get you back into a condition that allows you to do your work at the level your boss expects. Do you think you could have a conversation with your boss that goes something like “You mentioned the other day that you’ve noticed my work product stagnating. Between work and school, I’m a little overstressed right now and I think it would help if I could take a short vacation to recharge. Would these dates work for you?”

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I was in this position myself a few years ago. My boss had not been very supportive about me getting my master’s degree, and she made it clear that work had to come first and there would be consequences if my performance suffered. Basically, I didn’t sleep for two years. It was rough.

      Can you cut down on school, maybe take fewer classes? My program worked out that I only took once class at a time.

      If you think your job is in jeopardy, of course you should be applying to other jobs.

      1. Old and Don’t Care*

        I had a similar situation, only that I had started my masters because it was strongly encouraged by my company, then I switched jobs and my new company did not care so much about my masters. It was a really difficult two years, and I really sympathize with the OP. I guess my advice would be if feasible don’t make a decision until done with the degree. Things will look a lot different without the work and stress of being in school.

    3. M*

      I think a good starting place would be to openly communicate this with your boss. Explain that you are getting a bit burnt out (which is sounds like might be the case) because of the additional work for the master’s program. See if you can work with her to adjust expectations a bit. Just because your coworker is doing a similar program doesn’t mean that you have to compare yourself to him. Everyone processes things differently! Best of luck to you!

  36. Happy Birthday, Everyone Hates You*

    This just happened and I had to share… it’s my toxic boss’ birthday and, because I’m struggling to find anything nice to say to him that sounds sincere, I did a quick Google search. I found this suggestion via a post called “Birthday Wishes for My Boss”, and it was under the subheading “Formal Birthday Wishes”:

    Regardless of what anyone says, in my eyes, you are a truly remarkable boss. Happy birthday.

    THE SHADE!! But this was not a joke. It was listed as a completely genuine suggestion which gave me a good laugh. I was THIS CLOSE to using it, but I need my job. So if anyone has any alternate suggestions for what to say, let me know!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      “I hope you get all you deserve on your special day” ?

      If I said that to my BFF I’d mean a lottery win delivered by a hunky fella who’d clean the kitchen when she dropped off.

      1. Mazzy*

        I would opt for saying nothing. I personally don’t say anything to my boss on his Bday and we have a good relationship.

    2. [insert witty username here]*

      What about “Happy Birthday! I hope it’s the start of a good year.”

      Just leave out “…..in which you start being a better human.”

    3. You don't get frequent flyer miles on this trip.*

      Congratulations on successfully completing another trip around the sun!

  37. Cendol*

    Has anyone ever lived in Canada while working remotely for a US company (with no locations in Canada)? How’d that work? Did your US employer have to classify you as a contractor? Where did you pay your taxes?

    1. What the What*

      You report your earnings on your Canadian tax return, regardless of whether or not you’re a contractor or employee. A US company with a foreign contractor or employee is not required to do any reporting on a W-2, 1099, or any other typical tax form, and the foreign contractor doesn’t pay US taxes (unless they happen to be a US citizen, in which case they would). No Social Security tax or Medicare tax should be withheld, nor any US income tax. The US company will not withhold any Canadian taxes for you, so you will be responsible for remitting any taxes directly.

      I’m not a Canadian tax expert, so I can’t be more specific on where on your Canadian tax return this type of earnings would be reported. But don’t expect to receive any formal tax form about your earnings. It will be up to you to track your earnings and pay your taxes properly in Canada.

  38. beancat*

    Does anyone have advice for not kicking yourself over mistakes when you’re learning a new job? No amount of reminding myself that I wouldn’t expect perfection from anyone else and I shouldn’t expect it from myself has been helpful. I just keep coming back to imposter syndrome that says I don’t belong here (despite the positive things I’ve done in my month so far), as well as unattainably high expectations of myself that’s leaving me crushed when I can’t meet them.

    1. Grumpy Lady*

      Oh you sound like me. Just remind yourself that it takes at least 3 months to get up to speed on any new job. And even then you can have lots of learning curves thrown at you. My boss likes to change things a lot. Whats good one week is suddenly not good the next week. Just remind yourself that you are trying your best. Make yourself a cheat sheet or notes on things so you remember how to do things when they pop up again. Basically, be nice to yourself. Its a new job and its a pandemic. No one can be perfect right now!

      1. beancat*

        Thank you! I’ll definitely try to be more kind to myself. I take copious notes, and it seems like there’s always something new to learn!

        I’ll try to remember the world is a VERY unusual place right now and it’s okay now more than ever to not be perfect.

        Thank you :)

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I wish I knew. Even if I know the material (taxes) just learning the systems, softwares, office procedures etc is a huge learning curve.

    3. merp*

      A month is so new! *3 months* is so new! I know you know this, but just in case hearing it from another internet stranger can help: you are doing just fine.

    4. PollyQ*

      Perhaps a proactive, first-thing-every-morning mantra? “I may make some mistakes today, and that’s OK. I am a human being, human beings make mistakes, and that’s part of how we learn. If I do make a mistake, I will be attentive to what went wrong, and I will find a way to avoid doing it again.”

      IDK, it might be easier to work on your mindset ahead of time, rather than when you’re in the middle of the issue. Good luck!

    5. squidarms*

      I find it helps to think of a mistake as an opportunity to learn. Practice makes perfect, and you can’t practice without making a few mistakes.

      1. beancat*

        Funny enough I used to teach, and I always said that a FAIL was just a First Attempt At Learning :) for me, it’s easier to tell someone that than believe it, but it’s so true we can’t learn without mistakes!

  39. Surge capacity*

    There was an article on Medium this week about “surge capacity” – basically how we’ve all had to tap into our reserves of resilience to get through these pandemic times, but those reserves aren’t limitless and our surge capacity was never designed to keep us afloat for months or possibly years. And now it’s hard to accomplish as much as we used to. And I related to every word of it, will post a link as a comment.

    The thing is, I HAVE to figure out a way to accomplish more. My company is threatening layoffs; it’s already slowly started with reorgs in some departments. The pressure is very, very high to take how we used to produce product and turn it on its head, and Innovate! and Disrupt! and Be! More! Productive! and Be! Freaking! Rockstars!

    Without giving too many details, about half the tasks my team does and does well (and that were the focus of my job) are no longer very relevant because of covid. We are being asked daily to quickly learn technologies and processes that are brand new to us, with the strong implication of if we can’t, then we’re going to be laid off, because our previous roles are no longer needed. Our training basically consists of “watch this video” (I don’t learn well AT ALL over video) or “follow this checklist”. (which often doesn’t take into account all the nuances of our work, or leaves out entire chunks of information that is needed to actually do these things correctly).

    Meanwhile, every day at my desk I feel like I am thinking through sludge. I think I would be OK if I were doing the tasks I normally do day in and day out, but I am not. I don’t seem to have the mental capacity to learn brand new things without help and then do them well and meet quick deadlines. This is definitely the expectation, though, lots of blahblahblah about agile thinking and quickly learning new skills and dealing with complex information.

    How on earth do I do this? How do I make my brain able to take in brand new information with limited training and then do new tasks well, when I’m depleted and exhausted and feel like I don’t have two brain cells to rub together or any executive function left at all? It is a small consolation that many of us feel the same way, it’s not just me who is apparently dumb and unable to learn. But, I cannot lose this job, my partner already lost theirs months ago and can’t find anything, and we may need to move soon for Reasons so we need to be showing income.

    I don’t have any remaining PTO to take; normally I’d do that. Though I don’t even know if that would help; the PTO I already took helped me catch up on life stuff that was falling behind and maybe get a little rest but it didn’t really address my mental depletion.

    1. Utinni*

      I don’t really have any advice but I wanted to offer my sympathy and support. Memory is definitely affected by high stress and now is just not a great time to be expecting people to learn and remember a bunch of new things and be rockstars! I will definitely look for the Medium article you mentioned. I’m wishing you all the best.

    2. Anon today*

      I so agree with this, and really sorry you are feeling so burnt out!!

      My company has gotten incredibly busy due to COVID because we provide a service that’s now in crazy high demand. We all went into March and April guns blazing, working overtime, feeling buoyed by our mission.

      But now it’s been several months with no break in the “surge” and I’m so burnt out. I want to take a long vacation but there’s no where to go, and it’s not very restorative to be cooped up my my home (aka office) for a vacation.

      2020 sucks.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Since you asked for advice, I’m going to focus on that instead of sympathy.

      First, even though your company is asking you to do more, know that their ask doesn’t change your capacity. You’re energy is where it is, work with it.

      Second, if what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else. Video trainings don’t work for you. Okay, what about setting up regular (maybe even daily) meet-and-share meetings with your teammates? You all can pool your knowledge:

      A: “I’m having issues with XYZ”.
      B: “Oh yeah, I found a workaround is to do 123. But then I run into issue ABC.”
      Etc.

      Have a rotating role of someone who writes down the problems and solutions discussed. If the group can’t solve it, figure out who outside of the department can solve it. This also means all of you are at least being consistent with any mistakes, which may make it easier to fix later.

      1. Surge capacity*

        I like this a lot. I have one co-worker who already knows this stuff well. Unfortunately, he was on vacation, so a) I couldn’t reach out to him for help and b) I had the added stress of being expected to cover for him without knowing how to do the work or really having anyone to ask for help. He’s back Monday and reaching out to him once he’s up for air is a good idea.

        My manager is also a great resource but another piece of the problem is that we all have way way too many meetings and she typically is in meetings for 7 hours of her 8-hour day. So she’s much less available for questions than she used to be, which is not her fault. She does respond to my emailed questions after hours, though, and on one occasion we found, together, that something I thought I’d screwed up was something that isn’t even possible for us to do with the access we have. So, that was good to know but I wish I’d have known that while I was struggling with “AAAAA why is this not working, I am following the exact steps on the list, I must just be dumb or screwing up because I don’t get it.”

    4. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      This time is so hard, so sorry you’re having to deal with this too – I was probably at my most sludge part in April time and what really helped was making sure I went outside and saw natural light and walked somewhere, anywhere once a day for long enough to mentally uncoil. I don’t know if you can easily pop out at work but even finding a way to get outside in natural light when I lose focus for 5 mins really helps me.

      1. Surge capacity*

        I keep getting meeting’ed over lunch due to time zone differences, so have not taken a proper lunch break in probably at least a month. (Also partly because I know I am working slowly so I work through lunch in hopes my output by end of day will be what I used to put out). This is definitely part of the problem. The latter is easier to solve than the former, though. SO many meetings, sometimes only with 15 minutes between them. If the choice is go outside or frantically try to catch up on work, I usually pick catch up.

        1. Natalie*

          Put lunch on your calendar (possibly as a private appointment) so people don’t schedule over it.

          1. Surge capacity*

            I’m sure that at some companies people respect that….. sigh. I used to have therapy over lunch and had myself marked as out of office. Didn’t help. Still got meeting’ed with mandatory meetings so I had to reschedule therapy.

    5. New Senior Manager*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. This stress you’re describing is real. I went through a similar situation and had to learn so many new processes at work as well as duck and dodge this covid. I couldn’t remember what I said 30 mins before. I was moving my right hand when I meant to use my left one. I was using incorrect words when speaking and pronouncing some words strangely as if it was a foreign word. My example, my husband would say did you realize you said Darles Chicken instead of Charles Dickens? I would forget the word for “scissors” and say “you know the thing that has two handles and cut.” I thought I had brain tumor or dementia or something. After an exam, blood work, and 2 MRIs, everything was found to be normal. It was stress related. Now I’m taking care of myself with a vengeance. Sleep, healthier eating, and rest are requirements of the day. Maybe your boss will allow you to work half during morning hours and half later in evening. Do something different. You must take care of yourself.

  40. Random Penguin*

    What are best practices for companies lifting ‘conservative financial policies’?
    Back in early April, due to Covid of course, my company put in place an ‘austerity financial policy”: any expense over 1000 needed to be approved, expensive programs were paused, etc. This also included a hiring freeze (even for backfilling positions) and a stop to all tenure raises (the process is usually that your raise is adjusted for tenure and/or merit at your work-anniversary).
    Now they are talking about lifting the policy… I am wondering what are the usual processes used? I want to know what I can possibly expect. On a normal year I would have received a raise in May, but that didn’t happen. However, a coworker who would have a work anniversary just a week before the policy started would have seen their salary bumped. If the company doesn’t make the raises, whenever they happen, retroactive, wouldn’t that create an uneven playing field, where some people lost out on compensation? (I am not saying discrimination because the “reason” would be random due to anniversary dates and the day the policy was put in place… and not directed at a specific group of people).
    People who have gone through that, what happened?

  41. Bear Shark*

    My employer has gone from being great during Covid, having people work from home and being understanding about childcare and connection issues, to suddenly telling us that we are expected to report to work in the office as of Monday. Our state has the highest new case rate it has had during the entire pandemic, our local county’s test positivity rate and number of new cases are both increasing, schools are reversing the plans to allow in-person attendance, but cool, let’s all go back into the office with our open floor plan.

    1. Jaid*

      My sympathies and a suggestion to get one of those Shield Pods from Under the Weather. It’s ridiculous, but so is the situation of making you go into the office…

      1. Bear Shark*

        I can’t imagine the response I’d get if I showed up with one of those. It might be worth it just to see the looks on management’s faces.

      2. Katrinka*

        I have a clear hard plastic cone from when my dumb dog wouldn’t stop pulling the bandages off her feet. I have threatened to start wearing that as a face shield. Just put the smaller end on top of my head and voila!

  42. Keymaster of Gozer*

    It’s a really silly thing, but advice on how to deal with anxiety over how old my car is?

    Lemme explain. I have a disabled parking permit and the parking spots at companies I’m interviewing at are always right in front of the building and in full view of reception/general public. My car is…old. It’s got dents in it, it’s usually got bird poo on it (the driveway at home is under a tree = bird target) and while it’s perfectly safe to drive it stands out like a sore thumb next to the CEOs parking spot with Jags etc.

    So, I notice I’ve been pre-empetively apologising for the age/appearance of my car when I get to interviews because I think they’ll judge me really harshly for making their car park look bad otherwise (‘she’s clean and smart, why does her car look so bad? she must be lazy’).

    Could do with something to tell myself in my head to stop me worrying about this. It’s becoming a source of stress and I can’t park the car further away out of sight.

    1. londonedit*

      I doubt anyone will notice! Unless the people you’re interviewing with are staring out of the window monitoring the car park at all times, they probably a) won’t see you getting out of the car and b) won’t really care what your car looks like anyway! And the person on the front desk has no reason to judge your car, either – OK, the execs might have posh cars but I’m sure plenty of visitors to the company don’t. Definitely get out of the habit of pre-emptively mentioning it – I can almost guarantee people won’t have noticed your car at all, but they’ll certainly have a look at it if you make a point of mentioning how awful it is!

    2. many bells down*

      I’m not sure I’m helpful but I’ve had exactly the same anxiety. I used to work for a high-end real estate agent and rolling up to a $5 million home in my clunker was *stressful*.
      I’d arrive early, park further up the street, and leave after the showing people drove off to avoid them seeing me clambering into my POS (from the passenger side no less; my driver’s side door broke at one point and wouldn’t open).
      That’s not very helpful when you need to park right up front though. Depending on how big the building is, though, most people probably aren’t going to realize that’s your car.

    3. Me*

      I’ve never once looked to see what kind of car a job applicant is driving. You’re overthinking it’s importance. I would seriously stop mentioning it as it’s so unlikely they’re looking that your apology comes across as a bit odd.

    4. Triplestep*

      I agree that they are probably not going to notice, and you definitely should not apologize for it. What’s to apologize for? Living within your means and not having a huge car loan or lease payment? ‘Course not everyone who drives a nice car does, but lots do.

      Driving an older car says positive things, too, like you are economical and use things until they are used up.

      If it will make you feel more secure, can you plan time ahead of your interview to clean off the bird poo?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That’s a bit tricky though, because I rely on one of my nephews/nieces cleaning my car (my disabilities mean I can’t do it) and I think it’s about 30% of the time they’re available same day as an interview.

        (I do pay them. It’s just cheaper than an automated car wash and frankly they do a much better job! Especially my eldest niece who’s saving up for a car of her own)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not to nitpick, but you don’t have any $5 car washes around you? while the cheapest option isn’t as good as a hand wash and wax, it would at least get the bird poo off.

          That said – I don’t think you need to worry about it nearly as much as you are; most companies aren’t gonna pay much attention to the car you got out of and apologizing only makes it a bigger issue than it needs to be.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Cheapest automated one round here is £10 a go andI can afford it very occasionally. If you want cheaper there’s the ‘pay and wash it yourself’ facilities but the disabilities mean I can’t use those.

            (Yes our area is a bit crap)

      2. Chaordic One*

        I probably shouldn’t say anything, but I can’t help myself. I had a former boss who did partially base hiring decisions on what kind of cars the applicants drove. (This was in the U.S.) His office overlooked the parking lot. He also based decisions on how people parked. He wanted people who parked in between the lines. No one who parked too close to one side or the other and definitely not anyone who hogged two parking places. Once there was an applicant who arrived early and sat in her parked car for several minutes with her foot on the brake pedal, so it looked she might be ready to back out. Several other people came and waited for her to back out, but she didn’t and they gave up and drove around to parking places farther away. He didn’t hire her because she was “rude,” “inconsiderate,” and had a “lack of self-awareness.”

        When it came to cars, he liked applicants who had “sensible” subcompact, compact and mid-sized cars, minivans, SUVs and pickups. He especially liked people who drove reliable Japanese cars and was put off by them if they drove cars with reputations for not being reliable. The age of people’s cars didn’t really matter, but he did pay attention to condition and cleanliness. (Someone who was neglectful of their car might be neglectful of other things.) Even worse than that, though, he didn’t like people who drove “luxury” cars or large SUVs or large crewcab pickup trucks. He felt they had poor judgement and were wasteful with money.

        He was a character and he finally retired after a fairly successful business career. But I do wonder about his judgement.

    5. CatCat*

      Definitely stop bringing up the car and apologizing for the appearance of the car. The car isn’t something people are likely to care about or think twice about… until you specifically draw attention to it.

      Also, just control what you can control. Your car is old. It needs to be parked in the front. Can’t change those things. Cleanliness you can control. Would it help how you feel if you went with a clean car? What if you ran it through a gas station car wash or sprayed off bird poops with a hose before you went to the interview?

    6. The Rural Juror*

      I don’t usually judge anyone for how old their car is. However, it drives me insane when someone is driving with a broken windshield or on a donut tire that is clearly meant to be temporary. I think as long as your car is 1) safe to drive and doesn’t look like a hazard, 2) maintained and doesn’t squeal loudly or smoke up as you’re pulling into the parking lot, and 3) gets a wash from time to time, even if there’s some bird poo in between, then you’ll be fine. Really, someone judging you for your car is their problem, not yours!

      Two suggestions:
      Can you get a canvas cover to protect against the poo? Preferably something that could be hosed off if you’re able. That might not be easy, but if it was it might help relieve some of that stress about the pesky birds.

      If the dents cause you anxiety, you could get an estimate for paintless dent repair. I’ve had this done when someone whopped my car door in a parking lot. They used suctions cups to pop it out and it wasn’t expensive. However, depending on how many dents there are, it might be less expensive in the long run to pay your deductible and have a body shop repair and repaint the panels. It really depends on how much you’re willing to spend or how much effort you’d want to make. Not really necessary, but less expensive than a new car!

      But to agree with everyone else, you probably care about this way more than anyone who might see your car.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh god no, the MOT system in the (UK) won’t allow you to drive a car with a broken windscreen (small dents are acceptable providing they’re smaller than a 10p coin and there’s only one) or major safety issues!

        The dents in the nose are on the bumper and underneath and I can’t currently afford them to be fixed (unemployment sucks. Unemployment and disability is extra suck ). But he’s entirely roadworthy. Just old!

    7. ...*

      I would get your car washed before interviews so there’s no poop on it and then just……not mention it or care. Do they peer out the windows watching you get out of your car? I would probably just think the person was frugal and smart and therefore a hard worker honestly if they drove an old car.

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      Stop worrying about this so much, and stop talking about it in interviews. It’s very strange of you to bring this up in workplace settings. It’s your vehicle. That’s that.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      1. They probably don’t notice, so there’s no reason to bring it up. 2. If anyone does notice or bring it up, you can frame it as fiscal responsibility- a lot of people I know (who could afford a new car any time they like) drive their cars until the wheels fall off. A car is a transportation tool, not a status symbol. My current car is 4 years old, but the one before that lasted 16 years.

    10. Another JD*

      Unless you’re applying to work at a place related to cars, why are you bringing yours up at all? Definitely stop. Your old car does not impact my first impression of you, but you bringing it up certainly does, and not in a good way.

      1. MissGirl*

        Exactly. I would never notice your car but your preemptively apologizing about it would definitely color my opinion of you.

    11. nope*

      No one cares. If they do… they might not be the best employer. YMMV, but, for me, it was the first flag in a parade. I had a 20 year old car that cosmetically looked ok, but under the chassis was a rustbucket. It had a temper like a stubborn mule, and would suddenly stick gears while I was driving. I’d mentioned this offhandedly, someone saw it from a distance and stirred up all kinds of crap, assuming incorrectly that I was lying about the whole thing. Long story short, imo, if they’re taking notice, it could be indicative of greater problems with the culture.

      1. irene adler*

        This. If someone has issue with what you drive, then THEY have the problem. Maybe they could spring for a new vehicle for you. No? Well, then they need to mind their business.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Shout out to owners of temperamental old cars! He’s very much beloved by me, has been written off once, the clutch is a bit of a tantrum, but he’s the most comfortable and accessible car I’ve ever had. Seriously, with my spinal injury it’s often less pain for me to go sit in the car than anywhere in the house!

    12. WellRed*

      Therapy. You are overthinking this, calling attention to what’s likely a nonissue that would not have been noticed and worried that you are making a *parking lot* look bad. That sounds like a bigger issue than an old car.

    13. AMC Javelin*

      When I see an older car, I think: smart, thrifty, possibly mechanically inclined, someone who values substance over form… I mean, I realize that there are many people out driving Mazeratis who could also be described by these adjectives, but when I see an older car, that is what I think. And — apologizing calls attention to it.

    14. Eether Eyether*

      I was raised in New England and some of its wealthiest residents drive old, decrepit cars. I wouldn’t give it a second thought and I would definitely stop apologizing about your car. I would think it very odd if a candidate brought that up in an interview. But…if it still really, really bothers you, you could put a car cover on it when you park it under the tree. Good luck with your search!

    15. PollyQ*

      Nth-ing that you should absolutely stop raising the issue at all, in any way, during interviews. It’s going to come across very oddly to the employers. If you can get it washed right before an interview, that’s great, but even there, most employers/interviewers aren’t going to care at all.

      I hope the feedback you’re getting here will help relieve your anxiety, but if you’re finding that it’s still affecting your mindset during interviews, one option might be to park nearby, then get an Uber or a cab to drive you to the office.

    16. squidarms*

      Do you really want the approval of someone who makes assumptions about your character based on the appearance of your car?

    17. Peter*

      If I remember correctly, you’re also in the UK?

      When I’m interviewing (multinational, European-owned manufacturing business) I don’t get to see a candidate’s car. Depending which office we’re in, it’s possible that the receptionist would see it, and we do record number plates in the visitors’ book. In your position I am assuming you have a blue badge, but it’s worth a brief comment about where you have parked in case there might be any pushback (again depending on how visible your disabilities are – and this isn’t a time for discussing whether that’s fair!)

      Apart from that, whilst we’re doing the social into bit of do you want a cup of tea etc, I might ask about how easy it was to find us. I’ll also comment on parking because we have a drive-out forward policy that links to our safety rules, so I’d check that point at the same time as I talk about fire exits. The type of car you drive is of no interest to me. For reference, the drive-out forward and site speed limits would be communicated before the interview alongside the directions.

      So in conclusion, as long as you can get to work (when we’re in an office!) and are driving and parking safely, you don’t need to worry about the type of car.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Yup ski, UK and have my blue badge, also use walking aids so visibly disabled.

        Many, many thanks for your reply. I feel a lot better, and will print out all the responses here to keep in the car to prevent my anxiety.

        (This site is the best. Thank you all!)

    18. Emilitron*

      How many interviews do you go on? Is it worth your peace of mind to take a cab or Uber instead, so you don’t have that anxiety in the back of your mind while you’re trying to focus?

  43. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Hope this is OK to ask here…

    How do you address being a slow learner when it comes to interviews and in the workplace? 

    The post about plagiarism earlier this week made me think about this a little. Bad job advice came up and that was definitely the advice given to me when I graduated school and facing that all too familiar conundrum of how I can get experience when no one will hire me. 

    I’ve been working since 2008, full time since 2014 and after a lot of self reflection, Ive  learned over the years that I am painfully slow in learning anything new and I don’t catch on very quickly at all. It takes me long to process things. I don’t know if it’s a learning disability, I used to do well in school until a certain point but now as an adult, it takes me forever to figure out things. I did learn over the years that the best way I learn is repetition, actual practice vs reading, making analogies and comparing A to B. I feel like once I have the basic knowledge, I can build off it, but developing the base is the challenge.

    I don’t think anybody ever says in an interview “I’m slow.” 

    1. Annony*

      If it comes up at work I think you can just explain that you learn best by doing and repetition and don’t learn well by reading. I don’t think it is that unusual and they are invested in you already so they should want to help you learn. In an interview I probably wouldn’t bring it up unless you want to test for whether the position is a good fit. If so, you could always say that mention your learning style and ask if that would work in this position.

    2. Anon for this*

      Well, a lot of people think they are smarter than they are, so it sounds like you understand your weaknesses which is good. My advice is to not apply for “stretch” jobs, apply for safe jobs. Ones you know you can do all or the vast majority of the job. Apply for jobs that are a little below you, so you can do it well.

    3. Quest*

      I wonder if you have ever been evaluated for ADHD? I have ADHD, and while I’m not a slow learner, my natural attention span is short enough that it takes me longer than my peers to get things done. I am doing well though, because of medication + years of dogged hard work and stubbornly trying for constant improvement. Regardless of whether you have ADHD (or another learning disability) or not, you say that practice works for you. I encourage you to practice learning then. Youtube videos, TED talks, free online courses, requesting (or even hiring) help or tutoring. Take notes. Try different ways of memorizing. Look into Toastmasters and book clubs (try audiobooks if you’re not a big reader). Learn about how you learn, what works for you, what doesn’t. You’ll learn a ton about yourself and where you need to improve.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I do suspect ADHD/ADD. I tried to get evaluated for it last year but a lot of other things came up (got pregnant, COVID, lost my job etc) so I’ve had to push it down on the list.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I’d say something like, “I’m a hands-on learner, and find I understand new systems or material best when I can do a lot of practice and repetition at my own pace. I like to work with sample data or low-stakes projects until I’m confident that I have mastered something new.”

      You’re being realistic about your needs, but you’re also showing that you’re concerned about reducing problems/risk for the company. Also, you’re priming the interviewer with a lot of positive language instead of negative language:
      I’m a learner
      I understand best
      I like to work
      I’m confident
      I’ve mastered something new.

      Don’t underestimate the effect that kind of messaging has on people. Including yourself.

  44. Sara M*

    My industry requires a lot of schmoozing at events. I’m mostly good at this, but my big weakness is “boring” people. Yes, everyone is interesting in some way, but it’s not always easy to find it.

    My problem is that early in a conversation, my ADHD makes my mind wander and I really struggle to focus. If someone isn’t obviously interesting, I tune out. I wish I didn’t do this! I think it’s obvious when I lose focus.

    Any tips on improving this problem? ADHD makes it harder, but it’s not an excuse.

    How do I maintain a conversation with someone who I find uninteresting?

  45. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

    Has anyone moved away from their spouse and kids to get a graduate degree?

    I have a Masters and really want a PhD. There are no programs within commutable distance (closest is 2 hours away). My spouse has been looking for jobs in areas that have programs for me, but he’s in a niche field and these are all in desirable places where he’s competing against people who have decades of experience (he’s an Episcopal priest and it’s *his* first and only career, but it’s quite common for highly experienced professionals to go to seminary in their 40s/50s/60s and everyone is thrown in the same applicant pool), so so far nothing has worked out. I’m nearing 40 and chomping at the bit to be able to direct my own career more. My kids are also getting older, so at some point moving won’t be fair to them, so there’s that time clock, too. I don’t want to move away from my family–the thought alone is upsetting–but I’m just not seeing a lot of options otherwise. The programs I’m looking at are 4-5 hours away, so I’d be able to come home on weekends. Has anyone done this?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I didn’t do that, but I did take a 12 mo job assignment that was 12+ hrs away. Since it was work, paid by them, and part of what I negotiated, I was able to fly home every week or EOW. This was when I was 39 and my kids were in 9th grade and college. It was fine, but worse than I thought with my younger kid and husband. Like, the same people who are busy every night and never around shouldn’t notice, but I’m the bad guy now for being gone. They also didn’t pick up much slack for me being gone and left me with a lot of things to take care of on my weekends home. Since your spouse is a priest, I wonder how the only time you being back being on weekends will work out.

      I also know someone who did do it for school. She moved to California and we’re based in the midwest. She was divorced, and her kids were ~ middle school age. In her case, I think it was more about taking a break from her life than that being the only education option. The job she took when she came back is something that I have family members who do it with no graduate degree. Hey, sometimes you need a break from your life, but in her case I don’t think it was great because she was trying to fight some parenting battles remotely. You probably don’t have that as much with someone you’re married to. But she did meet her next husband out there.

    2. Venus*

      Now seems like an ideal time to find out how much can be done from a distance (home). I remember in grad school we were always on campus, but in hindsight the research work and writing of the thesis could largely be done at home.

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        Yeah, I did my Masters online and it worked out fine. I even worked as a GRA and had a federal grant. I also, until last month, worked for the university I’d be interested in getting the degree from. Unfortunately, they’re doing the half-capacity thing and not solely online (the same is true for the other universities I’m interested in). I’m hoping this will make programs re-think their residency requirements, though.

    3. CheeryO*

      I have an uncle who spent years working a 6-hour drive away from his wife and kids. He drove back every single weekend. They moved out there and bought a house when it made sense with the kids’ school timeline, I think after a few years. It wasn’t ideal, obviously, but they made it work. My aunt was a SAHM at the time, so I’m sure that was part of what made it doable.

      Of course, a grad program isn’t the same as a job. I would just work through it with your spouse and make sure you’re on the same page. Can your spouse realistically take on everything that the two of you do at home during the week? How many years will it take to finish the degree? What kind of job will it qualify you for? Will you realistically be able to get that job in an area where your spouse will be able to find a job?

    4. Roja*

      I did that for a semester for grad school. I didn’t finish the program (wound up finishing elsewhere remotely), but that was because it wasn’t a good fit for me ultimately. Just think about it like being a military family or where one spouse travels a lot for work. The other spouse and the kids manage just fine, even if they miss the one who’s gone. You might also be able to find a low-res program–several of my own professors did that–which helps A LOT, or even a fully online program depending on your area of study. Check abroad too; I wound up doing a fully online program through the UK because I couldn’t find my academic niche easily otherwise.

      I think it depends on the time too. If it’s going to be a 5-year program where you’re gone every week, that is a lot to commit to. If it’s a year or two, that’s much easier. Good luck!

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        It’s funny you bring up the UK; I’ve actually considered looking into programs at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (I’m in public health). Given his job and the ability to do it over there and the fact that my family would move to England in a heartbeat, it’s something we have been discussing. A lot of the clergy jobs come with housing, which would eliminate our biggest expense. Anyway, he has been talking to some people to find out how it worked for them, but Covid has likely complicated all of that!

        If you don’t mind me asking, are you in the US and, if so, what were costs like for your program? I’ve wondered about the financial feasibility of pursuing an international degree.

    5. JobHunter*

      Are you prepared for the possibility that it won’t work out?

      I moved across the country to take a postdoc. My trailing spouse and I own a house, so we decided to wait a year to see if the position worked out before he resigned his (reasonably well-paying) job and selling the house. We planned on me returning monthly. Everything changed when COVID attacked.

      I have been back twice in 6 months. My spouse’s work surprisingly picked up, and he is overwhelmed with too much too do and not enough hours in the day. The gut feeling I had after the interview for my position proved accurate quickly, so I discussed my situation with a few trusted people and decided to return home to revise my career plans in the middle of the pandemic rather than “fight through it” as some people urged me to do.

      Plan your financial situation carefully. Use sites like Sperling’s, Nerd Wallet, and rental websites to figure out how much it will cost to run two households. And once you get there, make as many new friends as you can in the new place. Having a social network makes the transition less stressful. I met some people who were so considerate when they understood I had moved by myself. :)

    6. Black Horse Dancing*

      I’ve know many couples who’ve done the LDR be it military or other careers. It can work but communicate like everything. And yours doesn’t seem too bad as you’ll be home most weekends. My own parents did this the last year my father worked. He worked several hours away, rented a room. came home every weekend. It was hard but they did it.

  46. JustaTech*

    Friends, it has been a *week*.
    On Tuesday we had unexpected layoffs. My department lost 5 people (it’s not a huge group) and one of them was one of my two closest coworkers. She was devastated, and I am gutted and frankly, kind of hosed. FabCoworker is one of those people who is so organized and so efficient that you don’t realize how much they do until you list it all out to do yourself. Thankfully, FabCoworker is super organized, so even though she had less than a day to wrap everything up, everything was already written out with instructions and logs and histories in logical, easy to find places. But because she was so efficient and so organized it’s kind of a terrifying amount of stuff I need to learn ASAP.

    The layoffs also suck because while this is probably my 9th round of layoffs in 9 years with this company, we hadn’t had any layoffs in probably 2 years, since EvilCorp sold us to the Nice Chinese Company. So I guess I’ve gotten out of practice for watching management just hack away at departments they don’t understand or don’t like. (Sure, development doesn’t bring in the bucks like sales, but when your only vendor of an essential material stops selling to you and you realize that there’s no alternative on the market, you’re going to need to still have a development team if you want to have anything to sell.)

    And then the project manager for my one big project just quit (I think for personal reasons, and I don’t blame him and wish him well), and I don’t think there are any spare project managers to take over the spot. Oh, and FabCoworker? She was the only person in my group with any PM experience at all. So now I’m going to take a crash course in project management, just in case.

    So yeah, it’s been a week, and while I cried, I didn’t crawl under my desk, I didn’t just go curl up with the cat for a whole day, I didn’t day-drink, I did start finding solutions, and I sent FabCoworker a giant meat plate from her favorite deli, because she always said cured meats were her love language.

      1. JustaTech*

        Thanks! It’s been a thing. And honestly the last time my group specifically had layoffs, everyone who was let go knew far enough in advance to already have a new job. One gal was giggling so hard at the severance she got (a down payment on a house) that I could hear her coming a whole floor away.

        So not only was this a surprise, but what with COVID we can’t even go out for drinks.

  47. Anonymous at a University*

    Student via e-mail: “I don’t understand what the rules for the class are.”
    Me: “Here is a link to the syllabus.” (which is also linked at the top of the class’s dashboard and in the two e-mails I sent earlier this week). “Make sure you read it thoroughly and ask me questions about what you’re confused on.”
    Student: “I don’t have time to read that, what are the rules for the class?”
    Me (thinking): That I cannot tell you what I really think of this e-mail, but wish I could.

    REEEEEEEAD THE SYYYYYYYYLLABUS.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        I knoooooow.

        And the indignation when later in the semester someone tries to pull something that I don’t allow via syllabus (last semester it was people asking for month-long extensions on assignments, including some that would have been after I was supposed to turn in grades; I was being flexible due to the COVID situation, but not that flexible) and then says, “Well, how am I supposed to know that? I didn’t read the syllabus!”

        You were SUPPOSED TO.

        1. irene adler*

          Month-long extensions on assignments?
          Woof!
          I take on-line courses. Most have as their first assignment, post an introduction about yourself. One earns a few points for doing this.
          Maybe instead, profs should post a syllabus quiz as the first assignment. Make ’em read the quiz and answer some questions about it – for a few points.

          1. Anonymous at a University*

            Yeah, my university did what a lot of others did and offered the option to complete the course as credit/no credit, giving us the ability to pass students as long as they had a C (even in courses where normally you would need above a C- to pass). Unfortunately, some students who took the option apparently thought that meant “We don’t have to do any work” or thought of it as the same as an incomplete- because, of course, reading even the succinct explanation the university sent out about it would have taken too long- and then said that they deserved month-long extensions because they were taking the class as credit/no credit. It doesn’t mean you AUTOMATICALLY get credit, people.

          2. Almost Academic*

            That’s what I’m doing for my first Mastery Quiz this semester. Highly recommend.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        I would do that if some of it- like some of the required language around tutoring and mandatory reporting- wasn’t in these weird little formatted tables my university demands we use, and that copy-and-pasting them into e-mail renders nigh-unreadable.

        I ended up attaching the syllabus to the e-mail, but the student still complained about not having enough time to read it. I just didn’t respond to that one because, frankly, there was nothing else to say.

        1. PX*

          Intersting. Do you not use the: it is your responsibility to read the syllabus type language? When I was in uni, the approach was very much: you’re an adult now, so if you cant be bothered to do these basic things required of you, too bad.

          (Caveat, uni was not in the US so perhaps cultural differences?)

          1. Lemon Zinger*

            I agree with you. The phrase “It is your responsibility to XYZ” works VERY well with college students. I use it a lot myself (also in higher ed).

            1. Anonymous at a University*

              I’ve used it- in the syllabus itself. Which they did not read. I also said it in the welcome e-mails I sent out that it was their responsibility to read the syllabus and other class documents and let me know if they have questions. But they seem to have ignored those e-mails.

              Some people are just determined to not read anything.

        2. Aggretsuko*

          “If you can’t read, I guess you won’t learn.”
          But seriously, it’s college. DON’T TELL ME YOU CAN’T READ AT COLLEGE. HOW ELSE DID YOU GET IN, HOW ELSE DO YOU EXPECT TO GRADUATE.

          1. Anonymous at a University*

            I don’t think in this case it was a matter of literacy, it’s more a matter of, “Anything that can’t be broken down into a one-sentence e-mail isn’t worth reading.”

            1. curly sue*

              You have all my sympathy. I’m also impressed that your students are reading their email, because I can’t get mine to check theirs. “No-one uses email anymore; I don’t even know my login… can’t you just text us?”

              No. No, I cannot.

              1. Anonymous at a University*

                I’m so sorry. In this case, all except a few of my university’s classes are online, so e-mail and course discussion boards are really the only way I’m communicating with them. My university is really strict on things like FERPA, so we’re not supposed to respond to even personal e-mail addresses except to tell them to use their university one.

                I had colleagues who did text and Snapchat (shudder) with students last semester, but sure enough, two of them got in trouble when it turned out that the student left their phones lying around and a family member or someone else who wasn’t supposed to read the texts about grades. I am not going to risk legal trouble because some students would prefer to text.

                1. curly sue*

                  We’re going online this year but we don’t start until September. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the students change (or don’t change) their habit of apparently never checking their school email.

                  We’re not in the USA so FERPA isn’t a thing, though we do have privacy regulations, and one of those is that we’re only allowed to communicate through their official university email, and the content management system. No gmail, no hotmail, no texting, and I’m grateful that I have regulations to point to as to why I won’t be giving them my personal phone number.

        3. College Career Counselor*

          Yeah, plus once you get the boiler plate stuff in and the course content and professor’s personal requirements in, that email would be somewhere between 6 and 15 pages. And the student is reading it on their phone, so not gonna happen.

        4. WellRed*

          I guess you could tell him to put it under his pillow so that he can absorb it through some sort of nocturnal osmosis.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I am definitely feeling this one this week! I’m an engineering PM, but sometimes I think the leads think that means Answer Lady. Team members seem to ask me first, before looking for the answer themselves. I can’t imagine asking a project manager something without exhausting everything else myself, but from my other counterparts, I hear asking up the chain is the first step for many of our employees. . .it’s not just something about my style causing this. (And I’m not too high and mighty to answer questions, but it’s exhausting and keeps me from getting my stuff done.)

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “I do not have time to read that” and yet.. you had time to respond to this email, which probably took roughly the same amount of time as it would have to read the syllabus.

      Agree with others that I would’ve said “it is your responsibility to read the syllabus to understand the rules of the class.”

    3. AnonPi*

      I’ve known professors who actually assigned reading the syllabus as the first class assignment due the first week, and made everyone sign a copy due to this kind of thing. If they didn’t do it they were told they would be dropped from the class (don’t know if a prof. every did this to anyone, or if the threat of it was enough).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Most of my undergrad instructors did syllabus quizzes in the first week’s batch of assignments, yeah.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          When I was a TA for an undergrad class, it was a required assignment, and if you didn’t turn in the piece of paper with your signature saying you read it, you weren’t allowed into the labs. Same with the safety packet that we went over prior to any actual labs as part of orientation. Two whole days were devoted to Syllabus and Safety.

          I usually had That One Student in every section that would sign off and then proceed to ask 93280282 questions that would have been answered in the syllabus. Always a question like “what portion of the class grade is based on quizzes?” or “what’s the late assignment policy?” or “what do you mean I’m expected to check my email *grumble grumble*” I actually wrote out SYLLABUS in big letters on the chalkboard one day and just pointed to it.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      THE RULES FOR THE CLASS ARE LISTED IN THE SYLLABUS. Syllabus. From the Ancient Greek for “document of rules for class.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Rule #1: Read the syllabus.
        Rule #2: Do what the syllabus tells you to do.
        Rule #3: Don’t do what the syllabus says you shouldn’t do.

        See? Easy.

    5. My Brain Is Exploding*

      “If you don’t have time to read the syllabus, you don’t have time to take the class “

    6. merope*

      Maybe it will make more sense coming from a pop culture figure? (Google “Snoop Dogg read the syllabus”)

    7. Lifelong student*

      If I had taught one more year, in addition to posting the syllabus, handing out copies, and going over it in the first class- I seriously was going to hand out a second copy including a section where the student had to sign an acknowledgement of receipt and responsibility for reading it to be returned to me for my files!

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It’s been a hot minute since I was in school, but aren’t most syllabi under 5 pages? They don’t have time to read that, but expect that they’ll be able to get passing grades in their courses? This student baffles me.

    9. PollyQ*

      I’d be sorely tempted to reply to the email with nothing but the link to the syllabus.

      Perhaps a more professional response would be to say, “In order to succeed in this class, you will need to read and follow the syllabus. I hope you can find the time to do that.”

    10. Diatryma*

      I have often thought of running a class with an ‘it’s in the syllabus’ clause: you have five final grade percentage points allotted to asking questions. Any time the question can be answered with ‘it’s in the syllabus’ or, better yet, page and line, you lose one final grade percentage point. So if you have an 85, but asked three syllabus questions, you now have an 82 for your final grade.

  48. many bells down*

    How do you handle when you’ve set clear deadlines and someone blows past them?

    I have a zoom event I’m tech support for this weekend. I told the person leading the event (who used to be a co-worker but now works for a different arm of the parent organization) that any media for the event needed to be given to me by Monday. I am hourly, and editing videos takes time.
    Tuesday I still had no media. I messaged my boss and grandboss and they forwarded on my request to get the media *immediately*.
    We got back an email telling us that I’m being “culturally insensitive” (I am white. The people involved in the event are not) and that they’d have media to me by Thursday.

    To me, this is not respecting MY time. I am now faced with going over my hours for the week as I still have videos to edit on top of my other duties today. And I really don’t know what to do when someone above me not only ignores a clear deadline but also accuses me of racism for insisting on the time I need to get things DONE?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You asking for deadlines to be respected isn’t being culturally insensitive. Any chance the way your boss and grandboss followed up was culturally insensitive in terms of how the message was delivered?

      1. many bells down*

        I saw the email and it was only a couple of lines to the effect of “this is overdue and needs to be remedied immediately.” No one mentioned the culture or ethnicity of the people involved, but “this event is bilingual” was given as a reason for the delay. Which, fine, we knew it was going to be? And they had 3 weeks? So I’m not seeing where I was insensitive.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      And I really don’t know what to do when someone above me not only ignores a clear deadline but also accuses me of racism for insisting on the time I need to get things DONE?

      Unfortunately, I don’t know what you can do. It’s super frustrating. We had stuff like this happen all the time at my last job, and my boss admitted it was a terrible situation to be in, but my boss also didn’t have the power to enforce it, and the people who did have the power to enforce… didn’t enforce.

      1. many bells down*

        No, it wasn’t. And if it had been, they had three weeks to get me items or let me know there’d be a delay. Now, if there’s a problem with any of the videos or media I don’t see how we’ll resolve it in time.

    3. Insurance mom*

      Let it crash and burn .Have a migraine or food poisoning or go into labor unexpectedly. My old boss used to say,”what if you got hit by a bus?” Oops, guess I am extra crabby today.

      1. I wouldn't but...*

        Insurance mom, that was my first thought. Let their presentation crash and burn. Put whatever you got in unedited and when it doesn’t work/looks horrible, shrug and say “This is all I could do in the time you gave me” Do NOT put in extra time if you have not been okay’d for extra time.

  49. Utinni*

    I’m expecting to receive an offer for my dream job (exactly the kind of work I want to do in my dream industry) soon but there are a few issues: 1) it’s remote until further notice (likely January at the earliest) and then would require a long distance move, the pay is low for the cost of living in that area (but fine for my current location), and the Glassdoor reviews have me pretty concerned about corporate culture (themes include constant reorganization, changing goals, fear culture, frequent layoffs, low wages). I’m very weary of uprooting my life if things are really that bad-I’m still weary of uprooting even if they aren’t, because that would put me back in a long distance relationship. Anyway, one friend has suggested that I take the job if offered it, work remotely as long as they’ll let me and feel things out, and then try to negotiate permanent remote work or quit if I decide the job isn’t worth moving for. This strategy could certainly be to my short term benefit (I’ve been unemployed for a couple of months and am not currently interviewing anywhere else though I’m trying) but I worry about burning bridges and looking like a job hopper (I left my previous after only 9 months because of my company’s insistence that everyone return to work as COVID was exploding locally). Taking the job without being certain I’ll move seems risky-but the way things are going, what if they stay remote for another year? What if the CEO decides to allow permanent remote work? What if my relationship ends and long distance is no longer relevant? Given the whole dream job thing, part of me really wants to try it and see what happens. I have tons of family in the area so I could move on relatively short notice and then find a place once I’m there. Though I’d rather be making money right now, I do have enough savings that I could wait for a different offer. Thoughts?

    1. Annony*

      Given that you can afford to pass on this job, I would try to negotiate to keep the role remote before taking the offer. Make it clear that you are happy with the wage if you can keep living in the low COL area but it is too low for the high COL area. If they agree to it then great. Even if they don’t want to make a decision on that now but keep the offer on the table, you will have a good explanation for why you left if they insist you move or lose the job. The risk is they could say no outright and you don’t take the job. So you would have to be ok with passing on the job if long term remote work is not something they are willing to entertain.

      1. Utinni*

        Thank you. That was my original thought, to try to negotiate permanent remote work once I had the offer rather than waiting. It is very much an entry level role, which they told me and LinkedIn confirmed, so the salary makes sense if you’re straight out of college, but I’m not and I was making the same salary here, where CoL is 60% less…

    2. Me*

      First and foremost there is no such thing as a dream job. Taking some of the self hype out of it may help you weigh your decision better.

      No one here can tell you what’s best. You have to decide for yourself what you are willing to give and take on. That’s a lot of red flags but maybe that’s ok for you to break into the industry you want. Or maybe it’s not and you want to keep looking for a job that doesn’t have those flags.

      Also two short time positions isn’t generally going to look job hoppy especially if you explain covid and having to relocate. More than that you do run the risk though. It’s the pattern that is the problem.

      1. Utinni*

        Thank you. I’m using dream job as shorthand to explain why I’m even considering this, because I wouldn’t be entertaining this for any other industry given the issues. No one can help me weigh everything, but I’m hoping people will have some insight as to if taking the job without being certain I’ll move is a terrible idea. I’m still very early into this career path so this will not be my one and only chance to find work in this industry, which I’m trying to remind myself. I can say I absolutely am not willing to move if the culture is that toxic. It might be bearable if I can do it remotely. As for job hopping, I was with a previous employer for almost 4 years, so that’s good.

    3. Sam Foster*

      Nightmares are a kind of dream. And what you are describing is a nightmare company. So push for what you want diplomatically and let them walk away if they aren’t willing to grant it.

      1. Utinni*

        Thank you. I was able to talk with someone currently in the role thanks to LinkedIn and it sounds like things really aren’t as bad there as they sounded (at least not on this team). It’s so tough because the industry is right up my alley… We’ll have to see if they’re able to come up on salary because the range I was given in the phone screening is effectively 60% less than I made at my prior job due to the difference in cost of living between the two areas. That’s workable if I can stay remote, but moving across the country to barely be able to pay my bills would be a lot of stress.

  50. Please help*

    I’m in Communications. I have an MBA but I’m a creative. My resume shows that I’m a communications pro. Nothing less, nothing more.

    My problem is. Well, I don’t know. Maybe ADD. Maybe executive function disorder. Maybe laziness. I WISH I KNEW. But my bosses rightfully want me to come up with communications plans, benchmarks, etc. I don’t know how. I can’t even take an example and rewrite it to fit my own project. That’s how “off” I am.

    I’m on anxiety meds along with a bunch of other meds for other conditions. So I don’t think meds are the answer. Do I take some kind of classes?

    The Covid situation is exacerbating everything. Working from home, I have constant interruption from family and of course, my own issues with distractions.

    I’m so so scared of losing my job. They know I can produce deliverables. But they need the reports, strategy, etc. because that’s how you run a department, frankly. This is a big company with real expectations and I’m freaking out.

    Please help.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      “my bosses rightfully want me to come up with communications plans, benchmarks, etc. I don’t know how. I can’t even take an example and rewrite it to fit my own project. That’s how “off” I am.”

      You’re not all that off. Here’s the thing. Communications is an ever-changing field where you need to constantly be learning, and within communications, there are a LOT of sub-specialties. I work in communications, but I would never say I am a PR professional, nor would I say I am a professional video editor. Then there is the whole subset of digital communications, social media, demand generation, etc., etc. To confound this even more, many, many companies aren’t really CLEAR what the difference is and/or where the line divides the Marketing and the Communications functions. Bosses often ask for things that might fall into more of a marketing strategy or product marketing function, which is a totally different thing from actual Communications! Is any of this striking a chord with you?

      I get tasked often with doing a lot of “stuff” that really isn’t Communications (it might be sales/CRM management or even IT duties). Sometimes I don’t know where TO start because there is so much ambiguity. Like the ever popular: “I want to do something-something to increase awareness.” But you can learn to ask clarifying questions to see what/where their objective fits. What is their end goal? Is it to get leads? (Demand Gen). Thought leadership? (PR, Social). E-commerce: awareness = revenue (digital marketing, email). That’s step one. Then you need to create the plan it would mostly fall under (some will overlap). If the task really would better fall to another department, you need to speak up and say that (“Sorry, configuring the servers really needs to be something we go to IT for.” or “I don’t have visibility to that data currently, who does?”). You say you don’t know how to write the plan and report the metrics? There are lots and lots of sample guides and templates available online to help you. If you still really feel you don’t know something that feels vital, I would suggest investing some time taking some quick help online classes just for this purpose. I recently took a Udemy course for Marketing Analytics and ROI and and SEO copy writing course to brush-up on some skills.

      So, that’s work. As for you personally, I can’t say. A) It’s entirely possible you might have adult ADD. B) It could also be YOUR BOSSES don’t really understand what Communications IS, and are trying to lump too many disparate things onto one person. Or, C) it could also be possible that you just are not a great fit for your current position and role, and would benefit from concentrating on ONE particular aspect of Communications you like most, where you’d be happier and have less ambiguity that stresses you. Based on your comments about deliverables, I suspect maybe your problem may be C, and you’re more of a “just-do-it” person rather than a “plan-it-all-out-first” person. Only you can answer those questions and then begin to address them.

      Sometimes losing a job you thought you wanted can send you down an overall better path. I’m not saying you will lose your job, but it also isn’t the end of the world if it happens. It doesn’t mean you can’t still work in Communications. You just might need to reassess what you like, are good at, and move to role that is better suited for you. There’s no shame in that.

    2. Feeling Off Too*

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers as what you write, Please Help, is describing my situation almost exactly. I was recently promoted and need to generate strategy for how I will lead my team. The problem is: I don’t know! I too have been under medical care for anxiety, have undergone counseling and just feel “off”. While my company talks about caring for people’s mental health, I don’t know what they can reasonably do – it is not fair to them that they expect less of me because of my issues, right? Has anyone experienced this before and come up okay?

  51. Former Usher*

    Too tired for a full job rant, but I’ll share this: at 5:15 PM yesterday I received an email requesting a calculation to present at an 8:00 AM meeting this morning. No acknowledgement for the hours of programming I completed last night except for a perfunctory email from a third person thanking the requestor (who didn’t do any of the work) and me.

  52. Lawnonymous*

    Does anyone have a degree/certificate/diploma in organization development and change or work, organization and leadership? And if so, was it worth the time, effort and money? How does it fit and help you in your current role?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I have an MSML. It has helped me be more effective in communicating, particularly change, both up and down the org chart. My manager definitely appreciates having someone she can bounce ideas off of, and I basically take care of the messaging for her when it comes to organizational change. I’ve also become a resource for other people managers who have deep technical expertise but are, to be polite, not great with soft skills. I’m also able to explain things in a coherent way and understand where the trouble spots might be.

      I’ve always been interested in organizational behavior; I just didn’t find out it was A Thing until mid-career. I didn’t pay for my MSML, but it boosted my salary by 30% by the time I graduated, so it would have been worth it even if I had paid for it myself. It took about a year to recover from working full time and going to school full time, so there was a definite opportunity cost as well. HTH, I am pretty distracted by the fires today!

      1. Lawnonymous*

        Thanks for your insight. I am mid career and just discovered organizational behaviour as well. It really speaks to me and I’d like to study it in detail but I’m not really sure how it will fit with my current role.

  53. Sharkie*

    Is anyone having trouble adjusting back to the working world? After not working/ living alone/ being a young single person during a pandemic I am having the hardest time adjusting to working 9-5. I am really missing naps and being on my own schedule. I love my job but around 1 I just want to stop working for the day. Is this normal?

    1. merp*

      I have always felt this way, so I dunno if it’s normal, but at least I can say you’re not alone. The thought of working 40 hours a week for another 30 years is daunting. I know people who feel differently (even saying this stuff I worry about being accused of being the proverbial entitled millennial) but I genuinely wouldn’t work more than 20 hours a week if I could afford it/had insurance/etc, and it is sometimes a struggle to work through. Have allllll kinds of plans to make my working life more flexible in the future, but for now, it is what it is and I’m just doing my best.

      1. Sharkie*

        Oh totally. Before the Covid I could work 12 hour days no problem. Now I’m just so drained and I feel like my priorities have shifted in quarantine. Can we be more like Europe with the 4 day/ 32 hour work week?

        1. Mx*

          Where in Europe does it happen ?
          I am in a European country and we work 35 hours over 5 days, but I have never seen anyone working 4 days a week unless there are part-time.

    2. Ali G*

      I didn’t work full time for an entire year and then I get a new full-time position. I started on a Wednesday and by Friday I was completely fried. So yeah, it might take you a while to get your stamina for being “on” cnstantly throughout the day back. I was very active and doing a lot of stuff, but I also spent a lot of my time alone/going at my own pace. It was a bit of a shock to the system. You’ll get it back!

    3. Niniel*

      I feel you. My first job I worked 50+ hours a week. And now I work 40 hrs a week, yet I STILL feel exhausted.

      I agree with “merp” above. I too would love a 20 or 30 hour workweek, but I don’t see it as feasible any time soon.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I tend to hit my slump at 3pm, so I make sure I get up and walk around and do something else at that time. You got this! But yeah, it’s tough to get used to.

  54. Anon for this here post*

    Any advice for working in a laid back environment when you’re used to working in more professional, serious ones? I don’t want to seem like I’m uptight or rigid, but don’t know how to act in a casual setting. I take my job seriously, but seem to get made fun of for this.

    1. PX*

      Getting made fun of…doesnt sound like a good culture to start with.

      The obvious things that come to mind: how do you dress (can you tone it down), how much attention are you paying to new company culture and are you trying to adapt (is it small talk you are missing? a more collaborative vs top down working style? More please and thank you than before etc?) and is it impacting your actual work?

      But mainly getting made fun of sounds like you work with unpleasant people, and I’d be inclined to ignore them and keep being yourself as long as your work is getting done, and your boss/higher ups are generally happy.

      1. Anon for this here post*

        Some people have been here for 10-15+ years. It really makes me wonder how they can stand it. I don’t get it.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I’ve always been a little more formal than my coworkers in various jobs, but for me that just means dressing a little nicer and not discussing my personal life with them. Nothing too egregious.

      Can you tell us more about what’s going on, please?

      1. Anon for this here post*

        Male dominated environment with put down humor. Sexist jokes/comments, interesting remarks when females are around, joking, sexual humor, etc.

        1. Dittany*

          That’s not “informal,” that’s “being an asshole.” I know this is easier said than done, but I’d think about getting another job.

          1. Anon for this here post*

            I just feel like *I’m* the one with the problem because no one else seems to care or they make comments like, “Can’t you take a joke?” or “You need a sense of humor to work here.”

            Everything that they tell you NOT to do in the workplace, they seem to do it here!!!!!

            1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              Everything that they tell you NOT to do in the workplace, they seem to do it here!!!!!

              This is the sign that you are not the problem. They are.

              Also, jokes are supposed to be funny, not mean. And there’s no shame in telling people (especially jerks like these) “I have no sense of humor” (preferably, as deadpan as you can manage).

            2. CheeryO*

              Noooo, no no no. You don’t have to deal with that. I went from a more formal environment (consulting) to a pretty casual environment (local office of a state government agency), in a male-dominated field, and people have generally been fine. They apparently got spoken to about sexism and professionalism before I started, which, eyeroll, but I guess whatever works.

              This sounds like a systemic issue, so you’re going to have to go over their heads. If you don’t want to do that (and I don’t blame you if you don’t), or if management doesn’t have your back, then you might just want to work on getting out.

            3. Venus*

              That type of joke is code for “I know that my comment is rude and sexist, but I don’t want to get in trouble so I will claim it as a joke”

              My workplace is very informal and male-dominated but sexist comments would never ever be tolerated. You have a shitty employer, not an informal one.

            4. PollyQ*

              YOU are not the problem. Your sexist, jackass, probably-violating-sexual-harrassment-law colleagues are the problem. Your options are to report this to HR, or to find a different job. Given that the behavior seems to be endemic to the workplace, I’d probably just go with option 2.

              I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this and are being made to feel there’s something wrong with you.

          2. Viette*

            Yeah, step one in dealing with this is never, ever framing it in your own head as “laid-back” again. I’ve worked in some super chill environments and I’ve worked in some really conservative ones, and this is not a part of that spectrum.

            Break the habit of forcibly accepting that this is some laid back dude culture and recognize it as misogyny, just for your own mental health.

  55. squidarms*

    This is going to sound like a stupid question to most of you, but as somebody who has only really “worked” at one company, I have a question for the commenters here.

    Our company has been telling us for months that they “don’t know” if they will be able to afford to provide cost-of-living raises this year. I was promoted this month and told that they “don’t know” when or if I will receive the raise that would normally go along with such a promotion. People were miffed, naturally, but we all accepted this as just another COVID-related misfortune. After all, a lot of people aren’t getting paid at all right now and the company hasn’t been doing great financially for awhile now–we were just starting to bounce back from a few really terrible years when COVID hit. So nobody was really that upset.

    Yesterday, we all received an email asking us to welcome our new coworker to the team. This new employee is not in an entry-level position. This is a position for which the market rate is more than most people in my department have ever made in their lives. Logically, I know that business resources aren’t necessarily fungible and that money earmarked for one purpose can’t always be easily transferred to another… but this hiring came at a time when employees who have been here for over 20 years were being told that a 2% raise was financially impossible for the company. Now morale is at an all-time low during a time when it already wasn’t great, and although everyone understands it’s not his fault, people are having a very hard time acting welcoming toward the new employee. The email and Slack announcements of his hiring went totally unacknowledged, whereas the norm in our company is a ton of “welcome to our team!” Slack messages, celebratory reaction emojis and at least one or two reply-alls by email.

    Complicating matters is the fact that since our department is very small, there is only one manager in charge of all of us, and she is, quite frankly, incompetent. I don’t say that to be mean, but she clearly does not know how to manage people, nor does she actually want to. She has made a number of missteps (notably, blindsiding someone with an unexpected new job role during a public Zoom meeting, then ignoring that person’s concerns when they privately expressed that they not only didn’t want the role, but were barely able to perform it) that have left a bad taste in people’s mouths. She is terrified of anyone above her in the organizational structure not “liking” her and absolutely refuses to advocate for her direct reports. What I’m saying is that it would not be out of character for her to say “my higher-ups told me they can’t afford to give you a raise this year” when what actually happened was that she didn’t push very hard for anyone to get a raise. So there’s a general sense that maybe we would have done better with a competent manager.

    Is it reasonable for people to be pissed off about this? Granted, I’m pretty mad myself, especially since I was the one who was actually promoted and didn’t receive any extra compensation… but I also feel like under the present circumstances, it’s not really worth getting worked up over. Is it time for me to start job-hunting again?

    1. Former Usher*

      You and your colleagues are certainly right to be upset. It sounds like it might be worthwhile to at least see what other opportunities are out there, given that your employer was having problems even before COVID-19. It’s no fun having a manager who won’t advocate for you.

      As difficult as it is, try to be welcoming to the new guy. As you noted, it’s not his fault, and if there are no raises next year he’ll be as unhappy as the rest of you. As strange as it might sound, one of my regrets from a prior job was not being more welcoming to a new employee hired to replace me on a project. It certainly wasn’t her fault I was pushed out of the project. She had assumed that she would be working with me, not replacing me.

    2. MissGirl*

      The treatment of the new hire is not reasonable and needs to stop whether or not the position is warranted. You haven’t said if the position is necessary. It’s completely normal to freeze raises but still fill a needed role if that role helps the company.

      My company is currently undergoing a raise and promotion freeze yet we’ve bought two companies for millions of dollars. Why? Because these companies are bringing in great revenue and new clients. Doing this helps our bottom line and brings us closer to getting raises back.

      The problem with your manager is an entirely different problem. That has to be addresses separately, maybe as a group, then the other stuff.

      You can job hunt without a list of reasons beyond, I want a new job. A bad manager alone is reason enough.

      1. squidarms*

        I honestly don’t know enough to know if the position was necessary or not. It’s a position that hasn’t existed in the 5 years I’ve been here, but it’s also something that I can see being beneficial in the current climate. I neglected to mention that compensation in my department is already below market rates for what we do–we stay here because we believe in the company and its mission. Had this not been the case, I don’t think people would have been so pissy about not getting raises.

        1. MissGirl*

          You don’t trust your company, you don’t trust your manager, and you’re being paid below market rate. Why would you not search?

            1. MissGirl*

              Then all our answers don’t mean much. How much longer can you breathe until you put on your own oxygen mask?

        2. pancakes*

          It sounds like you don’t know enough about this new position to justify being steamed about it. From what you’ve described it sounds possible that it might even be saving the company money – if they hired in-house counsel rather than outsourcing all legal work, for example. You do, however, know your own pay is below market rate. I’m a little confused as to how it’s possible to believe so strongly in the mission while having so little confidence in your manager.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      It’s okay to feel miffed about the uncertainty around raises, but the company probably truly does not know. They probably need to present this to their top board and they will make their decision at the last minute.
      As far as the top-dollar new hire…Will that role save your company in the long run? Will their expertise allow AR/AP run smoother so you don’t lose money in fines? Do they have technical skills that will allow the company to ditch expensive contractors? Will they replace expensive software needed to run processes?
      Unless this hire is goofing off, then I would assume that the company made a decision that this role was necessary for the success of the business.
      But your overall question was if you should look for a new job. If you have lost faith in your company, then you should look…it never hurts to keep your options open. But when things get tough, it is easy to scrutinize your superiors.
      In 2008, I had to take on the jobs of 3 people that were laid off and I didn’t get a raise, and all bonuses and raises were suspended. At the same time, they had to purchase a big expensive software package along with the Project Managers to roll it out. That pissed people off, but it was actually a government mandated software upgrade. and we would be shut down in a year for not complying. People didn’t have all the information into the inner workings of the Board so it was easy to say they were incompetent and didn’t care about front-line staff.
      Bottom line-> Do you think your company will survive the tough times? Do you think they will step up when things turn around and give you the raise you deserve? All the speculations are noise around if you think you will have a valuable job at this company in a year.

      1. squidarms*

        Do you think they will step up when things turn around and give you the raise you deserve?

        I honestly have no idea. There is a general attitude in the company (among lower-level employees, not just upper management) that we are fortunate just to work here and that expecting to be paid even the average market rate, let alone expecting any raises or benefits, is “entitlement.” I would like to think they’d come through eventually, but I would sadly not be surprised if they expected me to quietly “forget” about the raise.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I noticed above that you mentioned being paid below market and the idea that your dedication to the mission is the motivation. That doesn’t bode well for your company to step up when they recover.
          I was in the same situation for a few years and then I kinda realized that I had put in my time for my non-profit mission and it was time to earn a regular wage. I’d recommend a casual job search and see what is out there. Something great may turn up!

    4. squidarms*

      This was going to be a reply for pancakes, below, but I’m posting it at the top level because it relates to everyone’s comments.

      There is a lot of cognitive dissonance going on, which I didn’t quite realize until all of you pointed it out. It’s an educational brand, and the C-suite likes to talk up the importance of access to knowledge in the current political climate, even though I question how much that actually matters to them. I did not fully grok until I read these comments how contradictory their behavior is. I’m purposely being vague, but certain members of the C-suite do not accept any type of criticism, even when being told they are factually, demonstrably wrong. We have been told to make educational products less useful for the end user because they would make more money that way. An employee made a huge mistake a few months ago, asked for guidance as to how he could prevent this from happening again, and was reassured that while this was a completely unavoidable type of mistake (it was not), someone would put together some training materials for him… which have still not materialized even though it’s now August and the mistake happened in late May. It’s difficult to recognize when you’re young (I was 25 when I started here, and as noted above, had never really worked in an office before) and especially when all your coworkers are acting as if this is fine and we’re fortunate just to work here, but thinking back over the past few years, there is a pattern here that is not conducive to educating the masses at all.

      Part of the issue is that this is a very small industry, and while there are a lot of skills that could easily be transferred to a different job, it’s hard to get a job doing exactly this. Without giving too much away, this is a very niche job, and if you are in this field at all, you were probably the kind of person who dreamed of doing this as a child. So many of us are more emotionally attached to our positions than we probably should be. The other issue is that the company has a habit of promoting people into managerial positions when they have no managerial experience, no managerial skills, and no desire to be a manager. This is why I’m sympathetic toward my manager despite her notable shortcomings–I know that she probably didn’t want to do this, and I doubt she is getting the appropriate guidance and support from her higher-ups, because nobody gets properly trained for anything.

      I think I’ve been much too attached to the idea of the devil I know being better than the devil I don’t. I’m going to start putting out feelers and searching for jobs this weekend. Thank you, everyone, for your honest and valuable input. I appreciate you giving it to me straight.

  56. MissGirl*

    What are you sure it was you and not them? They could’ve had an internal candidate or someone had good connections. Honestly it sounds like they may have froze the position. It also doesn’t sound like it’s been that long.

  57. Kendra*

    Well I received quite an unexpected response. I wrote an employer an email after they wanted me to do a whole project with two days’ notice before even a phone screen:

    Dear [Employer],

    Thanks for the explanation.

    A couple of things:
    1. The assignment is to give redesign or change notes, but I’m not a customer. As a product lead, my job is to be the voice of the customer, and what matters is the customer experience. Who is the customer? What are the customer’s pain points? Are we solving them? What does the customer think? It does not matter what I think if I am not empathizing with the customer!

    2. Asking candidates to put in two hours of work before meeting with them is a red flag to any good candidate. It’s not even the “not a solicitation for consulting work” part (which leads me to believe you might think it might raise eyebrows), but literally what you said in your response, which is that you don’t want to invest time in a candidate. That is a reflection of how the company runs. You are asking candidates to put in work with two days notice without even having a brief conversation with them! You may think that you are weeding out candidates who are lazy or uninterested, but really you’re weeding out candidates who have experience with the interview process and know it’s a red flag for the organization. There are multiple sources backing me up on this, but here’s one that is particularly relevant:

    [askamanager link] “If the employer hasn’t even interviewed you yet, asking you to do a short 15-minute writing sample is probably reasonable, but asking you to invest two hours in a project isn’t. Once the employer has invested real time in talking with you and determined you’re a promising candidate, and you’ve had the chance to ask your own questions about the job to determine your interest level, they have more standing to ask for a bit more of your time.”

    I’m happy to work with your company on a consulting basis, but am not interested in the position for which you are hiring.

    Thanks,
    Kendra

    Dear Kendra,

    I hope you are well. My name is __, and I am leading the hiring process at ___.

    I wanted to thank you for the feedback you shared with my colleague. We take candidate feedback seriously and have discussed the concerns you raised.

    Upon further reflection, we have decided to change our process, as we are always striving to improve and optimize our hiring process. We are adding a video screener with the ___, before sharing the assignment with candidates moving forward.

    Hiring and retaining talent is a top priority at ___. As background, we have found previously that many candidates have appreciated having additional insight into our product before interviewing with the hiring manager. We appreciate the concerns you raised and thank you for the candid feedback. As mentioned above, we are adjusting our process moving forward.

    My sincere apologies for any confusion or offence inadvertently caused. I wish you the best of luck in your search,

    Well, that is certainly an unexpected response.

    It’s likely the reason you’ve been getting positive feedback is a bit of confirmation bias. When I was entry-level, I was more apt to be willing to prove myself and also less aware of hiring practice norms.

    It also makes sense now why you worded your job description like you have.

    I honestly have never seen a job description for a leadership role that explicitly stated that you would be a direct report until you prove yourself. It would make sense to me that the types of candidates that you get through your specific hiring process (people willing to take two hours out of their day to take a test before speaking with anyone on your team) are also the types of candidates that you would need to try out before you trusted.

    The reason I applied to the job is because I thought it might just be a poorly worded way of saying: we are growing so you’re our first hire and then six months down the line we might expand your team with direct reports. There are a lot of senior product manager jobs that don’t have direct reports right away. You’re still managing the process.

    I’m glad my prior feedback was helpful and I wish you the best with your strategy.

  58. Kisses*

    I filled out some paperwork for a temp job that advertised $10 an hour.
    But the paperwork made it clear that if I did not work 40 hours a week, it would revert to minimum wage for the week. Made me feel like they would find a reason to send me home at 39 hours and what have you.
    Was this a scam? I’m not going to work there that’s for sure.

    1. Bear Shark*

      Sounds like a scam to me. They’ll find a reason to send you home early. Plus I thought it was illegal to reduce pay retroactively.

      1. Kesnit*

        They aren’t doing it retroactively. The employee knows the rules up front. This is not a matter of “we said we’d pay you $10, but now that you have worked, it’s $7.25.”

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          The law requires that Kisses know in advance of any given hour she works how much she will be paid for that hour. The idea is that she know what she will be paid so she can decide whether she will accept the work and the wages offered (or decide not to accept, and quit).

          They can’t tell her that she’ll be paid $10/hour then send her home early on Friday and, because she didn’t hit 40 hours, change her pay for the hours she already worked that week.

          They could, I suppose, tell her that they’re scheduling her for 35 hour next week and therefore she’ll be paid $7.50/hour (or whatever) for those hours.

          1. Bear Shark*

            Exactly. It might be legal if the employer stated it as paying minimum wage with bonus pay that brings it to $10/hr if the employee reaches 40 hours for a week. They can increase what they pay for hours already worked, but not decrease. Effectively the same thing but the employer won’t get as many or as qualified applicants at minimum wage.

          2. Kisses*

            That makes sense. It just seemed so odd- and it was buried in the paperwork. Everything else was stating it was a $10 an hour job, but then you read the fine print..

  59. mintmary*

    Hello all – For the last two years, I’ve been an Executive Assistant for a high up VP, and because of internal office reasons I don’t have the matching work classification (I took over for someone internally who wasn’t doing a good job, I had a trial period that went well, there were some discussions about updating my classification, then the pandemic and cut budgets happened!) So, I’ve started looking for other Executive Assistant jobs around San Fransisco. Prior to this job, I worked for a few years as a maitre’d at a very high end restaurant (A list celebrities, national awards, lots of press, etc.). I sincerely think my experience in restaurants made me directly successful as an EA in ways such as constant competing demands, tight scheduling, and being very pleasant and calm while everything is chaos in the background. Plus, my current boss, who has a company-wide demanding reputation, has said I’ve made his life a lot less stressful.

    From what I’ve seen, most EA jobs require around 5 years of experience in an EA position. I’m trying to make my case that I do have very comparable experience that matches the 5 year requirement, but I’m very worried about being brushed off for restaurant work in my resume. I also bring this up in all my cover letters. Any advice or strategies for applying for these roles even though I only technically have 2 years EA experience? Thank you!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’d check out staffing companies in your area. There are a bunch of faceless staffing firms to stay away from, but since you are in San Fransisco, I’m betting there are a few boutique staffing firms that would love to match you to top companies. Look for staffing firms that have a long interview/ skills test process. Crappy staffing companies talk to you for 10 min and try to place you, but good companies will spend half a day interviewing you to figure out your personality and conducting skills tests to make a honest assessment. Good luck!

    2. Tex*

      Is your VP not going to bat for you? Sometimes office hierarchies mean that EAs and Admins are officially in a pool under an Office Manager, despite supporting a higher level exec. Without knowing your company’s specific politics and policies, it just seems like your boss is valuable to the company and you are valuable to him which means he should have the clout to get you raised to the right classification despite ‘normal’ company procedures.

      Additionally, don’t let 2 years of experience deter you from applying for 5 year requirements. Your maitre’d role (esp if it’s a recognizable local name) is great experience and a cover letter is the perfect place to draw a short analogy!

  60. EnfysNest*

    I have a coworker who attends the same church that I’ve been going to and he often initiates conversations about things at the church. He’ll ask if I watched this week’s sermon or if I’d heard about a new event or class that’s going to start soon. The tone he uses at first is pretty much the same as someone else asking if I watched a certain football game over the weekend or if I knew about an event our town has planned – he’s not usually (initially) focused on the actual message or anything that I can counter with “I’m not comfortable discussing religion at work”, which is the usual phrase suggested here. He seems like he’s doing it just to be conversational.

    Where it does get awkward, though, is if I say I didn’t watch this week or whatever (I’m actually considering leaving this church, partly because of the church itself but also partly because I’m hoping to move away across the state soon, and I’m not comfortable discussing any of those elements at work, especially my intent to leave soon) – he starts to encourage me to go back and watch it online because “it was really convicting” or things like that and if I hedge at all or even when I mentioned that I’ve been watching services from multiple different churches, he seems to take it as a criticism and he starts trying to defend this church and the pastor and it just gets really awkward for me really fast.

    This coworker is someone who does not seem to pick up well on social cues [please respect the commenting rules against speculations of why that might be], so he is not getting the hint that I’m uncomfortable with these discussions, but it still feels too heavy-handed to say “please never speak to me about the church we both attend”. He doesn’t ask me *every* Monday about that weekend’s service, but it seems like he’s been bringing it up a bit more often than usual in the last couple months.

    Has anyone personally dealt with a situation like this, where something you would normally shut down is more complicated because it’s something you’re both linked to? Is there a good middle ground to balance out the fact that we’re both part of that community currently but I don’t really want to talk about specifics? I don’t want to sound like I’m criticizing something that he’s going to feel like he needs to defend, but I also shouldn’t have to justify whether or not I watched this week’s service to my coworker at all.

    1. PX*

      Maybe Captain Awkwards “bean dip” method might be good here? Basically he asks you question, you give non-comittal response, then you very clearly and obviously change the topic to something else? I know you mentioned hinting that you’re uncomfortable, but sometimes I find that the best way to get out of conversations you dont really want to be in is to take charge of directing them in a different direction?

      Otherwise you could always go for the tried and tested “need to leave for X reason (toilet, coffee, printer, whatever)” whenever this comes up?

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      You need to be clear with him: “Hey Bob, we shouldn’t talk about religion at work.” I assume you work for a secular company– you could certainly use that to explain yourself if you feel it is necessary.

    3. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      So I have some experience here. My husband is a priest and while I culturally participate in church, I’m not a believer. Pre-covid if people from the church who don’t me well would see me out, nine times out of ten they’d mention church and/or God, Jesus, etc. For the sake of my own sanity and my husband’s job, I typically would just nod, smile, and move on. It’s annoying, but I realized absolutely no one cares about how I *really* feel; they’re using the connection we have to make conversation and try to relate to me in a way they assume is effective.

      I have no idea what the motivation of your co-worker is here. I assume it’s to use something that connects the two of you to make polite conversation–it just happens to hit you in a sensitive area because of the other factors you discuss, which is 100% understandable. And on top of that, it’s really hard when you feel like you have to defend your personal reasons for not watching!

      I don’t know if you’re specifically seeking advice about what to do, but if so, if it were me I’d probably just lie and say I watched the service. If he says more about it you can follow his cues (“oh yeah, it was wonderful”) and then move on quickly to something else. Hopefully you’ll be able to move soon and it’ll cease to be an issue! Good luck!

    4. valentine*

      You: I’m not comfortable discussing church with colleagues. Let’s not cross the streams.
      Him: *protests*
      You: Let’s stick to work stuff.

    5. pancakes*

      It would be pretty heavy-handed to say “please never speak to me about the church we both attend,” but something more along the lines of, “I’m sorry I didn’t mention it sooner but I’d rather not discuss church at work” wouldn’t be.

    6. Viette*

      “it seems like he’s been bringing it up a bit more often than usual in the last couple months.”

      That does make me suspicious that he’s over-reaching for this common ground and trying to connect because of the isolation that the pandemic is bringing for everyone. Some people I know have started unconsciously or consciously overdo their social connections/personal sharing in situations where otherwise they wouldn’t, because those needs are now unmet. He obviously has strong feelings about the church, and he wants to talk about church with someone, and he can’t go to church and talk to his church buddies, so now he’s talking to you more. It sucks!

      I do agree with you that the about face, “I don’t wanna ever talk about church at work NO THANK YOU” is probably going to be awkward, and like you I would not really gravitate toward that as my first choice. I support PX’s strategy above of a combo of aggressively changing the subject to something you are comfortable talking about, and ending the conversations to do other tasks.

  61. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

    Ya’ll a few weeks ago, I asked my career coach if she could do a full revamp of my resume, which she said was her most sought after service and one she has the most experience with.

    Just took a look at the draft she sent over, and while I do appreciate most of the content edits to my job descriptions, I reallydislike the design. There are some distracting graphic elements and overall the resume has waaaay too much copy. She expanded the skills section and also added an “about me” section, which I have never used and likely never will on my resume (and I’ve changed careers!).

    I’m struggling to find the words to convey that I’m not fully satisfied without outright saying I don’t like it. She put in a lot of time and effort…but I also paid for this service. She did mention that I can send over any feedback and edits I have but, I don’t even know where to begin? Help!

    1. cmcinnyc*

      What you said here is fine–you find the graphic elemets distracting and think it’s bloated with copy. YOu don’t want an “about me” section. She isn’t your friend; you will not hurt her feelings. You are asking for changes and edits as a client. The more specific you are, the better result you’ll get. And don’t apologize for not liking her first draft! It is ok to outright not like it!

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed! Also include what areas you think need to be beefed up. If you think a job doesn’t sound strong, or that it is missing the essence of the job duties.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’re giving professional feedback, you’re not telling a friend her dress looks unflattering ;)

      DONT SAY “This looks like garbage, why would you ever do this?!”

      Do say “I’m not a fan of the graphics and I am not interested in the About Me section, it doesn’t fit for the image I want to convey to future employers. I want to remove those. I appreciate the edits to the content, that is extremely helpful!”

      Also if you want her to do something else, just ask her. That’s how collaboration on this kind of personal documentation works.

      Just like if you’re at work and you’re doing a proposal together, you’re not going to be shy about saying “I don’t like the look of that, what about if we omit it? Tweak it?” etc.

      You’re too far in your head! It’s not “unkind” or “not nice” or “rude” or whatever to steer your project in the way you envision, while still accepting someone’s professional assistance along the way!

      1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

        Ah, thank you for this! I definitely *am* too in my head about this primarily because I’ve really enjoyed working with her thus far. When I recieved the draft, I was totally in the mindset of giving feedback to a friend rather than a professional collaborator, as you’ve aptly framed it. Will use your language to shape my response to her.

  62. RozGrunwald*

    I have my preliminary annual review later today, where we discuss the self-assessment of my performance for this year.

    I moved into a new role late last year after I was recruited into the org I’m currently in. It’s a different type of job than I have done for most of my career (let’s say that now instead of writing copy to describe the widgets my company makes, I am responsible for figuring out how much each widget costs to produce. It’s very different, but I like data, and I have enough quantitative skills to make it work). I have been told repeatedly since I moved over that I am doing a great job, which I appreciate. The problem is that I have realized that while I can competently do this work, I do not have any passion for it. My department is comprised primarily of people who have been doing this work for a long time and consider this their life’s calling. There is a time-consuming and expensive certification that most of them have that brands them as an “expert” in this field; I am being encouraged to pursue that and my boss wants to create career goals for next year around me taking classes to pursue the certification. Problem is, I don’t want to do that. I don’t really see myself staying in this role much longer, if I’m completely honest. I’m grateful to be well-compensated and my team is great and my boss is okay (there are some challenges there) but there are other things I’d rather be doing with my life. I know, for myself, I will never push myself to be more than competent or “meets expectations” doing this work because I just don’t find it interesting.

    My question is: is there any upside whatsoever in talking about this with my boss? I feel like by not being transparent about my feelings on this, I basically have to lie to her about my short- and long-term career plans, plans to pursue the certification, etc. But I also know she is very passionate about this work and if she finds out I’m not, it probably will affect the way she feels about me and my performance. This is not something I think she can fix, unless there’s an angle I’m not thinking of. Is the best course of action for me to keep my mouth shut and grin and bear it until I can find a different job?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      If your boss is a generally reasonable person, you should talk to her about this ASAP. I was once in a situation where my boss created a job for me without asking if I actually wanted to do it. I started interviewing for it, then withdrew because I realized I’d be miserable in that role. I really wish I had been transparent with her from the start!

    2. PollyQ*

      Unless your company is doing really well right now, given the current economy, I’d recommend the grin-and-bear it path. Even if your boss is a reasonable, kind-hearted person, if she’s required to lay someone off on her team, telling her about your general lack of enthusiasm and plans to leave the field are likely to make you the prime candidate.

  63. evee*

    Any advice on transitioning to another career path from administration?
    I’ve been working on office/corporate administration since college. I’ve been an office manager (doing bookkeeping, HR, AP/AR, etc) and office operations (again, many hats). My first job was toxic but paid very well… my current job is getting boring but the company and benefits are great and I’m making 10k less a year than I did at my first job that I started a decade ago.
    I would like to make more but many administrative jobs around here just are glorified receptionist jobs and do not pay that much. I know my worth but the higher paying jobs obviously don’t come around often and I want something different. How do you transition careers?
    I’ve been told I’d been a good project manager because my organization skills are amazing and I’ve done facets of the jobs in the past but so many PM jobs require a technical background I don’t have (my degree is in English. Super helpful). I have a passion for events but I don’t live in a large city + COVID + I have no marketing background to couple with it.
    I’m just sort of at a loss of what to do or how to move forward. I will be asking for a pay raise at my current job because, frankly, I am underpaid and I deserve to make more for what I do but ultimately I need to move on.
    Help? Thoughts?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      When I seriously considered leaving my current profession, I made a huge list of what I thought my skills were. Then I had a friend/coworker I knew and trusted read it over and confirm if she thought I was right and also add a few things she thought I’d missed. Then I looked at jobs that would use those skills and what I would need to qualify. I ended up staying where I am, but the exercise was very illuminating.

      1. irene adler*

        This is a good idea!

        Quality Assurance can utilize the organization, admin skills and English skills. Might visit ASQ.org.
        Might read up on auditing. Auditing requires the ability to write clearly. Need to convey what the finding (problem ) is so that others understand and can then remedy.
        And good organization skills. Audits need to be thorough and are often under a time constraint. So organization counts.
        Don’t need technical background as auditors can bring in subject matter experts for that.

  64. Lost in the Library*

    I have a coworker who tends to ask me if “I’m okay” when I don’t seem happy and it drives me up the wall. I’m usually thinking about something, or kind of problem solving? She asked me if I was ok a few days ago when I was standing looking out the window in our lunch room and was checking something on my phone (I can’t remember what!) before sitting down. I was neutral, I’d say.

    I think what irritates me about the question is that… it’s not her business if I’m “okay,” or not. If I’m not okay or worried about something in my personal life, I’m certainly not going to TELL her. I don’t know her closely, so… I don’t know. I’m not really sure what I’m SUPPOSED to say beyond “no, I’m fine… just thinking.” I’ve been tempted to follow up with “why do you ask?” but I don’t really want to know the answer, lol. I don’t care WHY, I just want her to stop. I know she’s probably trying to be empathetic or something (do I sound like a robot), but it’s very presumptuous to me.

    1. Lost in the Library*

      Sorry, just to add. I probably wouldn’t mind if it she asked “if I’m okay” if I were actively in distress or weeping at my desk or something. But I’m literally just thinking most of the time!!!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’ve used something like “You always seem to ask me that! This is just my thinking face.” I say it in a warm, friendly tone, and it seems to go over well.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah this. I tend to frown when I’m concentrating and I have to explicitly tell my staff that I am not angry or irritated when you come in my office. I just look like I am.

    3. irene adler*

      Yeah, I get that this is aggravating. “Mind your business, please” is what I would want to say to someone like that.

      I would counter directly with “what do you need?” -said pleasantly and professionally. Do not address the “are you okay?” inquiry. You don’t know her closely, as you say. Just professionally. So asking what she needs puts the onus on her to reply without going into personal stuff on your part. Which seems to be what this person wants from you.

      When she starts in on the “you looked like you weren’t okay” in response, ask, “what can I help you with?”. Again, said pleasantly.

      For every response or question she asks, keep responding with an inquiry as to what she needs.

      Eventually she will either give up-she’ll get no purchase from you. Or, she’ll answer “nothing”. Then you can say something along the lines of, “Okay then. Let me get back to what I was doing.”

      1. ...*

        It would be weird though, to repeatedly ask someone “What do you need? What can I help you with?” in response to the question “Are you ok?”. Also I don’t think I would ever tell someone “mind your business, please”. I cant think of any way that wouldn’t come off as being off-putting. Maybe if someone asked me something wildly inappropriate.

    4. allathian*

      I’m sorry. I think that if it comes up often, once a week or more, you could say something like “no, I’m fine. This is just my thinking face. You know, you keep asking me if I’m okay, and it’s making me uncomfortable so I wish you’d stop.”

      If she doesn’t get the message, you could escalate it a bit: “You know, we’ve talked about this before, I wish you wouldn’t ask me if I’m okay all the time if I don’t seem happy. I was perfectly fine until you asked, but now I’m getting irritated with you.” But only do this if you’re not at all interested in maintaining a cordial working relationship with her.

  65. Ann Oni*

    I’m managing someone struggling with dyslexia. A big part of his job is writing reports for external audiences and it’s critical that these are error-free. He already has a premium subscription to Grammarly, as well as the regular Word spell and grammar tools. Unfortunately, he continues to turn in work with spelling errors and transposed numbers. Does anyone have suggestions or advice? Particularly if you have dyslexia, or have worked with someone who did, and have specific practical advice.

    1. PX*

      I…am not sure that this will work well long term.

      Basic pieces of advice might be dictation if they are better with spoken rather than written word (I’m sure there are apps for that), and the other way round, getting them to read out loud what he writes before submitting it. Otherwise I’d say build in more buffer time/extra checks for their reports to be written/proofread/edited.

      But uh. My experience is that getting someone with dyslexia to do a writing heavy job is…not a good fit in terms of skills, so you may need to evaluate that long term.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Most of my coworkers have no idea that I have dyslexia and my job is very writing heavy. For many of us with dyslexia, we don’t tell people, because of the assumption of what we can’t do as a result. Please don’t be a person to assumes that you know what someone with a disability can or can not achieve.

        1. ELM*

          This person is not ‘assuming they know what someone with a disability can or can not achieve’. This person is managing someone with dyslexia who, despite online assistance, is making dyslexic mistakes. No assumption necessary- the mistakes are front and centre. Can you use your experience and dyslexia to suggest a course of action which is a little more helpful to the OP? Because what you wrote is unhelpful at best.

          1. AnotherLibrarian*

            I was responding to PX, not to the OP. For my suggestions to the OP, please read down to my comment below.

    2. AnonPi*

      If you don’t have time to, is there someone else who can proof his reports for grammar/spelling? As long as he’s writing them then that is most of the work done. One of my former managers has dyslexia and for anything important like reports asked someone to proof before they sent them out. I don’t have dyslexia but a processing issue and do the same (it’s like dyslexia but more often verbal, usually only affects writing when I’m really tired, don’t feel good, etc and my focus is off). Actually for anything important in my office there’s always at least one other person reviewing a document before it’s sent out, sometimes multiple people, regardless if someone has dyslexia or not. It’s generally expected that there will likely be corrections needed and it’s never been a big deal.

      Beyond that do ask if speaking is easier and if so get software so he can try that out.

      1. Ann Oni*

        Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone else who can proofread his work. No one else does a similar job; most people are in technical positions. We’re pretty small, and when I look around I don’t see a lot of options. I’ve been editing his work myself, but it’s not a great use of my time. The previous person in his role didn’t need an editor, and I never envisioned that this role would need that kind of ongoing help.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      As someone with dyslexia who writes a lot (I do mean a lot), I have three tricks:

      1. I always write on a computer, because it catches when I spell things wrong. My own notes are an orthographic nightmare, but no one else has to read them.
      2. It does not always catch when I use the wrong word, however, so I have a policy to ask a staff member who is very detail oriented and good at grammar to proof reports before they go out. I, of course, do the same thing for others. I can catch other people’s mistakes, but not my own.
      3. I leave it to rest for 2 to 3 days. The thing about dyslexia is that your brain literally doesn’t “see the error.” I could add up the same string of numbers 5 times and get the same wrong result and never know. But if I came back the day after, no problem. I would totally notice. So, I like to let things rest.

      Lastly, have you asked him what would help him? My tricks work for me, but they won’t work for everyone. I would also bare in mind that while him having dyslexia might make this job harder, the responsibility to work around his brain is his. No one is responsible for managing another person’s work except that person. That is a big part of being an adult.

      1. Ann Oni*

        Thanks, I like your suggestions, especially #3. Due to the nature of the work, it is totally possible to build those extra days into the schedule.

        We’ve talked about the issue multiple times, and all he’s asked for is Grammarly. But he doesn’t always use it, and even when he does, it won’t catch transposed numbers. I know I need to have a tougher conversation with him, but first I’ve been trying to do some research and get advice.

      2. allathian*

        You’ve obviously found tools that work for you, because I would never have guessed you have dyslexia from your posts here.

        My brain is wired in the other direction, when I’m learning a new language, I need to see a word written down once, and I can spell it forever afterwards, even if I forget the meaning of the word. This works at least with languages that use the Latin alphabet, I haven’t tried learning a language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, or any of the Asian languages that use pictograms.

        That said, even with my hyper-speller brain, typos are a thing and being blind to one’s own errors affects everyone, not just people with dyslexia. I’m a translator and when my coworker and I proofread each other’s documents that really can’t have any errors in them, most of the errors we catch are honestly typos. If at all possible, even with less-critical documents I try to let them sit for a day or at least a few hours before I read it a final time and send it to our internal client, just so I can look at it with fresh eyes. Sometimes with really urgent tasks this simply isn’t possible, but the really urgent requests come with an understanding that they can contain minor errors.

        Many people who have dyslexia manage to deal with their disability very well, and with suitable accommodations it can be done. However, if you’re in the US, the ADA only requires reasonable accommodations. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to have a person with dyslexia in this role, if it’s not possible to provide an editor to proofread everything he writes.

    4. Nikki*

      There’s a font intended to help people with dyslexia read more efficiently: https://www.dyslexiefont.com/en/typeface/

      It was designed to make it harder for the brain to swap similar or adjacent letters, so it should help with spelling and numerical checking too. I’m not dyslexic and I see that it has mixed reviews from the dyslexia & medical community, but it’s worth a shot!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve worked with many dyslexia sufferers, it can be manageable. Some will just throw writing/reading out the window if it’s too stressful to them. I had one boss who straight up just refused to read anything and I had to read everything to him, his writing was minimal, thank goodness.

      I second the reviewing it the day afterwards. I do this with my own mild form involving numbers [there’s another name for it but it’s escaping me]. And I do accounting, so numbers getting mixed up is a big deal! I have extra controls to catch errors in place but that’s a numbers thing, so it won’t help him for this specifically.

      The stress adds to it as well. You get frustrated and it doubles down. So building time and patience into the schedule is crucial.

    6. BRR*

      If hearing it read would help, Theres the read aloud function in word. It’s under the review tab.

    7. Information Central*

      Would text to speech software help? Reading aloud or hearing the work read aloud can help catch errors.

      It sounds like it’s a requirement of the job to use whatever tools are necessary to catch the errors, so maybe approach it with him from that angle, like you would for any other requirement of the job he wasn’t doing?

  66. Team Anonymous*

    I’m really struggling with some of the decisions my company has been making through covid, and I’m not sure how normal or not some of these decisions are.  I work in HR but have limited insight into how decisions are getting made.

    We’ve had two rounds of group layoffs.  We’ve also had a steady trickle of involuntary terminations . Some classified as role elimination and some due to performance.  Simultaneously we’re continuing to hire.  In many cases we’re letting somebody more junior go as soon as we’ve signed on somebody more senior for a very similar role.  This is even as career growth has been a major reason for people leaving.  We’ve also brought on several new executives over the last few months.

    I know that many companies are making difficult decisions right now.  But it’s getting harder and harder for me to stomach this pattern of terminating people who are lower paid and earlier in their careers so we can bring on more senior people.  We do offer modest severance.  I know that we’re not running a charity, but it feels like there is no regard being paid to the fact that we’re throwing people into upheaval in the midst of a pandemic.

    I’ve started doing some casual job searching, but I’d hate to change roles only to find that pretty much every company in the country is making comparable decisions.  Is this kind of pattern normal right now, or is my company making particularly egregious decisions?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Sooo…this is going to sound really harsh, but when companies grow, they tend to bloat at the same time. You end up with people who aren’t really contributing and just taking home a paycheck. In tough times, you keep your top performers and in your case, that sounds like senior roles that don’t need training or much supervision.
      A long time ago, I was at a company that was losing revenue because of market/shopping changes and every department had to cut 25% of their team. You would think that would cripple the whole company, but all processes ran smoothly like nothing happened. The company had hired so many people and not tracked who was really contributing that there were a lot of positions they could eliminate.
      In 2008, the company I was working for took the recession as an opportunity to do the same thing…eliminate underperforming staff in a layoff in one big swoop.
      So unfortunately, I do think it is normal business behavior. But I’m actually happy that your company is keeping higher paid jobs instead of eliminating them and making entry level staff do the same job with no experience or support. I’ve seen that happen too.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      It is hard to know, but it sounds like the organization has realized they need to increase skill for certain roles. When that happens they unfortunately need to let the more junior folks go and bring in higher caliber talent at a higher level. They did in fact eliminate the lower level job and replace it with a higher level position based on what they have determined is their organizational needs. Normally this would suck as it isn’t the fault of the junior employees, but you can’t keep people employed if they don’t have the skills you need. It is even worse now because of the pandemic. But it might actually be even more important to do it now for the same reason. It is very hard to keep businesses afloat right now. Companies are needing to pivot, develop new marketing strategies, change distribute product, adjust almost all operational standards. This might have helped them see they don’t currently have the talent they need to accomplish that.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        They may also be using this as an opportunity, when there are tons of layoffs and upheaval, a lot of higher level people end up cut for budget reasons. They may be bargain shopping.

        I had a boss who did this through the recession. She was very savvy about taking on all of the people who were applying for jobs they were overqualified for due to the recession, so we had a whole bunch of entry-level people who were churning out manager-level work. Things ran a lot smoother, which was helpful because that company favored a “our hair is on fire 24/7/365” operational model, and it just eliminated that chaos factor.

    3. Team Anonymous*

      Thank you all for chiming in on this! This was really helpful in both getting some broader perspective and clarifying my own thoughts a little further.

  67. Arête*

    How would you handle this situation?

    My company is opening a new site, and it’s 24/7. I got the shift that’s week days, and my coworker got the shift that’s weekend days. He wants to switch with me because he has a young child, but I absolutely do not want weekend shifts–I’ve done them before and I know I want the extra attention/supervision this time around. I’ve only been in this field (let alone job) for a year, so I think this could absolutely shape my career and either open or shut off many options, depending on how I do. I’m disabled, so having easy access to managers for accommodations and communication is very important. So I want to keep my shift, which is the best possible one for me.

    But I’m single, not caring for any relatives, and I don’t have anything as ‘important’ as having a kid to feel comfortable straight out saying no. I basically told him if nothing else worked, then come back and check with me again and maybe. So yeah, now I’m nervous and questioning if there was a better way to do this.

    1. Ann Oni*

      You can be sympathetic to your coworker and still say no. You have some good reasons to want to keep your weekday shifts. You could always say what you have here: “I’m disabled, so having easy access to managers for accommodations and communication is very important. So I want to keep my shift, which is the best possible one for me.” Or, if you don’t want to bring all that up, you could instead say, “I’m sympathetic that you want to be home with your child on the weekends, but the weekday shift is the best possible one for me too.”

    2. PX*

      I’m learning to get a lot better at just saying no! You dont need to have a super complicated reason for it – just say unfortunately that wont work for you, and thats it!

    3. valentine*

      Ya gotta learn to say no, even if you remain uncomfortable with it, though, hopefully, you will find what bliss it is. Otherwise, people will stomp all over you. And you don’t have to have good reasons to say no, much less to tell him your reasons. It would be different if you had zero preference or wanted to stop him getting what he wants, just ’cause. If he didn’t mention the child and you’re assuming they’re the reason, stop yourself doing that next time and see if you feel different. Just because he has a young child doesn’t mean he’s caring for them. But even if he is…

      I don’t have anything as ‘important’ as having a kid to feel comfortable straight out saying no.
      Ah, but you do! You are as important as having a kid. You’re allowed to take care of yourself. You don’t need to meet some court-like threshold.

    4. PT*

      My terrible jerk of a former boss, once put an employee with a kid on mandatory weekends as a way of forcing her to quit. She worked an afternoon/evening shift, that when combined with mandatory weekends, meant she barely had any time to spend with her kid. She left pretty quickly after.

      If this sounds in line with something your boss would do to your coworker, proceed very carefully here, because this is not a train wreck you want to find yourself standing in the middle of.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      The phrase “sorry, but that won’t work for me” is a complete sentence. No need to give co-worker a reason (because we’ve seen so many times in the comments that if you give a reason the other person will try to negate your reason). Just “sorry, but that won’t work for me”. Period. Hope this suggestion helps and that you are able to keep your weekday shifts.

    6. PollyQ*

      “Because I want this” is obviously not always a moral reason to have something, but sometimes… it actuall is. Your company has offered you this shift, and the fact that someone else would like it in no way obliges you to give it up, any more than you’d have to give up a promotion or turn down a job offer. (FWIW, I’d be saying this even if you didn’t have a disabiliy or weren’t working on building your rep, although I agree that these are valid concerns for you.)

      Totes agree with Blue Eagle that “I’m sorry, that won’t work for me.” is a perfectly cromulent response, and if your colleague is at all reasonable, he’ll accept it.

  68. Burnt Marshmallow*

    Is it a jerk move to leave a new position, especially when a key team member is out?

    Got hired as a Llama Washing assistant to help with the insane workload of my boss, who’s the only senior Llama Washer. No one else is in my department, so it’s just me, Betsy (my boss) and Katie (my boss’s boss, who’s chief of Llama Care).

    Betsy’s family in the midwest got super sick (they attended big events…) and she immediately took a LOA to fly out. It’s been almost a month since I last saw Betsy and I’ve been burned out. Betsy didn’t leave ANY notes and since I was recently hired, never got 1-to-1 training with her either. I’ve been just trying my best to make sense of our multiple llama systems by asking the system company representatives and Katie has stepped in to kind of help me.

    But I’ve been mostly fending for myself since no one else in the Llama Care department knows how the systems that I need work. Katie kind of does but she’s obviously busy running the whole department so I can never get instant help or guidance.

    I was told on Monday that Betsy won’t be back for possibly another 2-3 weeks. And this week has been hellish. At this point, I’m bitter about being thrusted into this stressful situation and think about wanting to quit everyday. I even broke down a bit when videochatting with Katie this morning, because I’m so stressed and feel like I don’t have all the support I need to succeed. Katie basically said she’s sorry and she’s here for me… Yet what can we do?

    I’m lucky enough to have savings to last me for a few months. But can I leave this job in good conscious, knowing that Betsy is probably going through worse with her family? Or that Katie will be left alone with all of this herself?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      It’s generally a huge risk to leave a job before you have another lined up, but if you’re truly comfortable with taking that risk, go ahead and quit. How your employer manages their business without you is not your concern.

    2. PX*

      Could you feasibly take some time off to prevent you getting burnt out and get you closer to Betsy’s return? Are there other resources (online, external etc) that could help get you up to speed with the systems you need?

      1. Burnt Marshmallow*

        I can’t take any time off because we can’t let too much work pile up… And I’ve gotten some training from the system reps but they don’t fully understand the small details that Betsy would know and do in the system. For example, rep sent me a guide but the number values were different than what Betsy puts in. So now I’m spending time trying to figure it out :(

    3. Ali G*

      Could you feel better about the situation of you could take some time off when Betsy is back? Could you talk to Kate and arrange to maybe overlap one week with Betsy and then take 2 weeks off unpaid (I assume you haven’t accrued much paid leave yet)? If you have some time off to look forward to, it might help you get through and maybe with Betsy back you might start to feel better about the situation.

    4. RozGrunwald*

      Oof. This is tough.
      I think for me, this is what it comes down to: you have to look out for yourself at work because no one else is going to represent your best interests the way you do. You’ve done an amazing job holding the situation together, but you’re burning out and if this hasn’t happened already, your mental and physical health will be affected soon. You’ve been told no help is coming. So I 100% would not blame you if you quit. Your health is more important than any company’s bottom line.
      I would also feel guilty about leaving, but I would assuage my guilt by remembering these two things:
      – If the company decided they didn’t need you/couldn’t afford you any more/etc., you would be out of there that day, probably without a second thought. If the employment situation became untenable for them, they would end it. It’s untenable for you. You have the same right to end it.
      – Things did not have to be this way. Running a entire department should never come down to the efforts of one or two people. When that happens, bad planning and bad management long ago put into motion the series of events that has resulted in this situation. If your function is mission-critical to the organization, they should be able to divert some resources your way. Barring that, I assure you they will find a way to carry on without you. I have been the leaver in this situation and I have been the one left behind. When I left a job where I was essential, I never saw the business collapse in my wake; they figured it out and kept going. When I was the one left behind, yes, it sucked but we figured out a way to carry on. Katie is probably not going to be happy if you leave, but she could be marshaling resources to help you out. I can almost assure you that if you go, within days there will be at least one, and possibly more, people brought in to replace you. Regardless if you’ve heard previously that there is no one else or they can’t add headcount right now or don’t leave we can’t do this without you, etc. I’ve just seen it happen too many times.
      So, if you can go and be okay for awhile not getting another job, go. This situations sounds downright awful and I don’t think you can count on it getting better. You could try a last-ditch effort to say, either I get help or I’m quitting, but I wouldn’t count on that working. They will probably pat you on the head and make soothing noises to get you to hang in there indefinitely, or until they can replace you. I am sorry you’re in this situation. Good luck.

    5. Anono-me*

      I think the 2 big questions to ask yourself, are:

      1. Is this work miserable or is it dangerous under these conditions? Because if it’s dangerous then you need to make changes now to make it safe up to and including leaving.

      2. If it’s just miserable, I think you need to ask yourself if you can find another job easily that you will like as well as you liked working working with Betsy as an assistant llama washer ?

      If you really are ready to leave because of how bad things are, you have nothing to loose; why not have a conversation first where you say you need some changes or you will not be able to continue and will need to quit. Alternatively why not just say something like ‘I can get 12 basic llama washings or 8 gold standard llama washings done per day. How do you want me to prioritize the 20 gold standard llama washing requests I have for tomorrow?’

      Since you are in the nothing to lose position , could you ask the company to look at cutting back on how many Lama Washings are being scheduled and to get you some help? Maybe they won’t be able to get skilled help, but even if it’s just someone from a temporary agency who can do all of the basic scut work such as filling the shampoo bottles and laundering the bath towels that should take some pressure off of you.

      Plus were told on Monday the 18th, that Betsy was supposed to be back to work in 2 to 3 weeks, maybe find out on Monday the 25th, if Betsy’s back in town and started her two-week quarantine, before you make any decisions? Because obviously if she’s back in town she will be able to return to work as soon as her quarantine is over. But if she’s not even in town yet, who knows when she’ll be back to start the quarantine.

      Something else to consider is that if you plan on giving two weeks notice, you could be leaving just as Betsy returns and not saving yourself from very many days of solidarity misery.

      Take care of yourself.

    6. Kathenus*

      If you’re at the point where you’re willing to leave without another position lined up, I don’t think you have a lot to lose by having an honest conversation with Katie. Let her know that you’re really feeling burned out, to the point where you feel like leaving might be your only option. See if you could get a day or two off now (she may feel it’s better to have a couple of days she covers everything, especially if she can plan for it, than to lose the extra help altogether), and/or agreement for time off when Betsy returns.

      And if you are planning to give two weeks notice if you leave, that’s about the time Betsy is coming back, so if you’d be able to stick it out for your notice period, maybe you can use that mental mindset to stick it out until she gets back, see how it is, and still have the option to leave if it’s still untenable.

      Since you are willing to leave if needed, you have leverage. I don’t mean to give an ultimatum, but to have that honest conversation with Katie about the way the situation is impacting you. Good luck.

    7. valentine*

      But can I leave this job in good conscious, knowing that Betsy is probably going through worse with her family? Or that Katie will be left alone with all of this herself?
      Yes! You’re allowed to take care of yourself. Even if the job were a hobby, you wouldn’t owe anyone and you’ve given more than anyone should. The failure to build up sufficient staffing isn’t down to you. Fly and be free.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is just a job. You don’t owe them anything other than professionalism. I’d give two weeks and watch what they do about it. I wouldn’t walk out unless they truly wronged you in some way, at least give notice that they over did it. You can’t usually get away with pushing someone brand new into that kind of chaos.

      This is on them for having such a fragile structure that it’s a rookie, department head and Betsy who can do the job. What if Betsy never comes back? That happens frequently enough. They have ways to patch through and they need to call in some reinforcements when someone takes that kind of long leave of absence.

      BUT!!!! I would say that you can afford to live a few months off your savings in normal circumstances…these aren’t normal. It may not be a few months. You may be living off that for a year or more because of how awful the economy and job market are right now. I DO NOT encourage anyone who doesn’t have duel incomes or other sources of income right now to just go and live off their savings, unless it’s dire circumstances. Burn out and being worked to death, without abuse involved is not dire circumstances in my opinion. This is me looking out for your risks, not the punks who are burning you out!

    9. Nacho*

      Have you talked to your boss about reducing your work load? It might be that somethings will simply have to wait until Betsy gets back, and it’s not only unfair, but unrealistic to expect you to do two jobs at once.

  69. fhgwhgads*

    This question came to mind after reading a recent-ish post on this site. I haven’t been able to figure out if FMLA applies in my situation.
    I work for a distributed company. Everyone works from home. There are no offices. There are about 300 employees total, but not 50 in any one department or in any one 75 mile radius. The company does have an official business address, but only maybe half a dozen live near that.
    So my question is, for the purposes of the “the office you report to”, should that be interpreted as literally your direct manager or department head’s house? Or do we all “report to” the same office because there literally isn’t one. Everyone is a traveling/WFH employee of the same “base”, which is the company’s base. Or does this mean none of us is eligible for FMLA because we’re all essentially our own offices?
    What googling I’ve done made it seem like FMLA doesn’t really address remote employees in the context where there is no main office. I’m hoping someone more knowledgeable here can either clarify or point me to a source that clarifies.

    1. fhgwhgads*

      Addendum: if you’re wondering why I don’t just ask my employer, they’ve been wrong about some employment law stuff in the past. They were great in the sense that as soon as the non-compliance was pointed out they corrected it immediately, like within 24 hours. But that past experience is why I’m hoping to find out before I go to them, rather than taking their word for it.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      It looks like this is complicated and not well agreed upon, but probably depends on how many people receive work from and report to a specific location. If your company only has the one official business address, I would assume that technically you all report to this location and are covered.

      However, the law is clear that “office you report to” is NOT residential addresses for employees.
      Section 825.111(a)(2):
      “An employee’s personal residence is not a worksite in the case of employees… who work at home, as under the concept of flexiplace or telecommuting. Rather, their worksite is the office to which they report and from which assignments are made.”

      Source link to follow.

  70. Fone Bone*

    I got a new job! YAY! I start mid-month next month. It’s a year long position but they seem interested in keeping me on afterwards in a different position since this one is tied to a project. Any advice on how to network and connect with co-workers when you’re entirely remote?

  71. Paris Geller*

    Hello! Here is my two fold question: How do you know you would be good in a management role and how do you know if you want to be a manager?

    I’m a public librarian. I’m not at the level of being able to apply for management jobs yet, but I probably will be in the next 1-2 years. I know there’s a lot of other librarians who read AAM, so I’m definitely interested in hearing from those who also work in public libraries (though just general answers are good too!). I’m currently the person in charge when our branch manager is gone, so while I don’t have any long-term management experience I’m not completely unsure of what it would be like.

    I’ve been told my my direct boss that she thinks I would be a good manager after she leaves (she’s planning on retiring in the next 1-2 years), and while it feels great that she thinks so highly of me, that’s just one opinion. I’m also not sure I want to be a manager.

    Here are some reasons I think I might like being a manager: I like the idea of leading a team toward a common goal. I feel very passionate about public service and I like the idea that I could empower and inspire passion for public service for others. I like working on big picture projects, which the branch managers in our system do. And of course the pay increase is more than just a nice bonus. I enjoy the problem-solving part of my job already, and I know that would be a bigger part in a management role.

    Some reasons I might not like being a manager: I hate having to deal with budgets so frequently ( I do that in my current role, but not nearly as often as the managers do), but mostly what I’m worried about is that I might lose my favorite part of my job. I do a lot of children and youth programs at my library (well, when not in a pandemic!) and I love it. I would miss it a lot.

    Some reasons I think I could be a good manager: I’m compassionate, I’m very aware of what’s going on in my team/with co-workers, and I’m good at conflict resolution when I’m not involved in the conflict. I’m also good at those big-picture and problem-solving areas, and while I might not be the most organized worker, I’m highly efficient.

    Some reasons I think I might not be a good manager: I’m bad at conflict when I am involved in the conflict, while I’m compassionate I’m not sure I have the patience to deal with ongoing conflict between employees, and I’m very bad at delegating. I think because I am a very efficient worker (and have been told so), my normal attitude is “I’d rather just do it myself”, even if it means overworking myself (my own fault, I know).

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, when I took a manager role, I made a rule. I would teach at least a few classes a year. I can’t/don’t do all of the teaching, but I do a lot of it. Why? Because I love it. So, if you got a manager job, could you do a children’s program once a month? Six times a year? Cover when your regular children’s person was out sick/on vacation/really needed a break from children? You don’t have to give up something you love, but you might have to scale it way back. Would you still be happy then?

    2. Children's librarian*

      I was five years into my first public librarian children’s position when I interviewed for and got an administrative promotion. It was August right about this time and the end of Summer Reading, I was exhausted and felt although I loved the work, I had been demonstrating leadership by serving on committees, and chairing some. I was active in our state association.
      This would describe me “I’m also good at those big-picture and problem-solving areas, and while I might not be the most organized worker, I’m highly efficient.”
      I had similar thoughts. When I sat down and wrote out what I loved about my job and what I truly excelled at- Meetings, nope. Waiting for other people to produce, nope. Strategic planning (too much like group work in library school) Budgets- yech, politics, oh, no.
      What I loved, kids, parents, and teachers. Readers reference. Authors/Illustrators. Class visits. Reading aloud, facilitating writing by kids, teens, and caregivers. Book reviewing. Programming except for glitter and glue. Supporting curriculum. Lifelong learning. Educational theory. Literature. Children’s literature. Storytelling. Advocating for children’s services. New books. Collection development. Intergenerational family learning.

      I realized that I wasn’t ready to give up the kids. I got a job in an independent school as a k-8 librarian. Stayed 15 years. I was 52 when I gave up the kids. I work mostly with adults now but keep my hand in, embedded in 4th and 5th grade classrooms.
      You know yourself- our lives are finite. It is privilege to wake up every morning eager to go to work and to see what the day brings.

  72. rageismycaffeine*

    I’m on a search committee right now and we’re at the stage of inviting our top two candidates for in-person interviews. I got an email this morning asking me to help conduct some reference calls. I didn’t have a chance to sit down and look at it until now, and finally processed that there’s four of us calling three people apiece – meaning that for two candidates, there’s thirteen references being contacted.

    On further examination, I realized that one candidate provided nine references – and crazier still, we’re actually calling them all! Has anyone ever done this??? I’ve never done more than four references. Usually just three. Is this a practice I’m not familiar with, or are our search committee chairs nuts?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      WHAT.
      Even for higher ed, this sounds ridiculous. What kind of position is this for? If it’s for a upper administration position, I could maaaaaaybe see it, but nine still sounds so excessive.

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        Director position in fundraising. :) Thanks for confirming that this is bananagram.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          I could definitely see more references for this position because money and people relationships and key to ensuring university success, but not nine. And at my university, we have to treat candidates as equally as possible. It would absolutely not fly to contact nine references for one candidate and four for another. If they wanted a specific or high number of references, they should have asked at the application stage, rather than just going down the list.

          1. rageismycaffeine*

            Right???? This is another big concern of mine, and one I raised to the committee chairs. I was given some garbled response about how some of the references are lower priority. Which I assume means they won’t be contacted if we reach four references contacted before then, but then… why divide this up among four people and tell them it’s really high priority? We’ll have six references contacted by the end of the day.

            1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

              Why do I have a feeling that there’s a red flag in there? Like it makes sense that someone in fundraising would provide some references that aren’t direct managers, but is the list mostly comprised of people the candidate didn’t report to?

              1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                Could it also be that some of the references are flaky?

                I hired part-time student gigs, and we were very strict about doing reference checks because they were part of our child safety policy. But we often had a hard time getting answers back from references, because someone listed their teacher with the school’s phone number and it’s now July, or they listed their boss from McDonald’s two years ago but he’s a manager at Target now and he can’t answer his cell while he’s working, or they listed the president of the Community Service Club they’re volunteering with at college but that guy’s doing semester abroad for the summer, etc. So honestly someone who left me five or six references was great. It saved me the trouble of calling them back and asking for new ones when the references they gave ignored all my voicemails.

        2. MissBliss*

          Um, no, that’s ridiculous. I work in fundraising and higher ed (though I’m newish to the ed space). The idea of NINE references… Five would seem like a lot.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Are you in higher ed? Was the candidate prompted to give that many references? The last time I applied for a higher ed position, they didn’t want any of MY selections for references. They wanted seven very specific references, including former direct reports, peer colleagues, etc. But, yeah, your search chairs are a little nuts. 9 candidates is too much, and there’s probably some duplication there.