open thread – August 7-8, 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.

{ 1,093 comments… read them below }

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    Well, it’s official – my manager is moving on to another team beginning next week and I’ll be reporting directly to grandboss for the time being. I’m shaken because I thought we would have him through the rest of the year at least given everything that’s going on with the pandemic, but nope – people several levels above us decided it’s now time for him to go to the next stop on his rotation journey. It’s also believed that they think our little team of three is self sufficient and sustaining enough that his role is redundant, so my coworker and I can take it from here.

    My manager apologized for blindsiding me, but assured me that he has reported nothing but amazing things about me to upper management (he has to turn in some kind of review before he leaves). He also said he really believes that I can handle all of our major strategic initiatives, mainly developing and redeveloping all of the company’s sales documentation, and I think he has way more confidence in my abilities than I do. I’ve only been in this role for 15 months, and before this one, I had nothing to do with major strategic initiatives being implemented on a corporate level – I feel like I’m getting in way over my head. I’ve applied for a graduate certificate program for technical writing, but now I’m thinking this was a mistake and I should have applied for something in the content strategy sphere.

    Between this, my uncle dying in May unexpectedly, the world falling apart from this dang virus, and grandboss moving halfway cross country, I don’t think I can take too many more “surprises” and change. Oh – and my company decides that now is the perfect time to go public (even though our revenues are down for the first two quarters of the year), we’re not getting raises at all this year (and possibly not next year either since our business runs on a two year cycle), we have two new subsidiaries that were just recently launched for no discernible reason that I can see (and many employees from my company have been transferred between the two), and I just…I have no idea what the hell is happening anymore. It’s unnerving.

    So people, please – come and give me examples from your work lives where a company reorg has turned out okay (and even great). When a manager that you really liked and worked well with left, how did you manage? How do you cope with not getting raises on a yearly basis? (Every company I’ve ever worked for has given raises every year – this whole not getting one is foreign to me and deeply disappointing since my manager told me during review time early this year that I would have gotten one.)

    1. Heidi*

      What a coincidence. My boss is also leaving. I actually feel pretty good about taking over the projects. I’m less certain about the administrative aspects of the job. I wish there were a checklist that I could use to make sure I’ve gotten all points of the transition covered. I can’t shake the feeling that six months from now, someone is going to pop over with a “by the way, you’re supposed to also be doing this.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right?! That’s my concern as well. I have no clue what all my manager did on a day-to-day – we’re a team of three, and we all worked autonomously for the most part with only a bit of overlap. I had to fill him on during our weekly meetings on most of what I did during the week since I also dotted line report to another manager in our larger department who also assigns me tasks. My manager will be providing grandboss with a transition plan, but I doubt I’ll learn what’s in it, and I don’t want to miss something crucial that I should be doing. I also don’t want grandboss to promote my coworker into my boss’s role because she’s awful, but that’s another story.

    2. Miraculous Ladybug*

      I have nothing on the re-org front but! My partner recently made a VERY similar move from writing into high-level content strategy, with a lot of support from bosses/grandbosses and feeling similarly unprepared, and now they’re absolutely crushing it. If you trusted your former boss’ general opinions, you might be more prepared than you think, and from what partner has said, writing & content strategy have quite a bit of overlap. You got this!!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I wish your partner posted here so I could get some detailed advice on what to do now because I’m not even sure where to start, lol.

        1. Product Person*

          Writing content strategy is very different from handling major strategic initiatives that include redeveloping sales documentation though. Not sure how much of the partner’s advice would truly apply to you. Good luck!

    3. ThatGirl*

      The company I work for, I’ve been at for three years as of last month. In my first three months, it was announced that we were selling our craft division off. Then after that was finalized, the private equity firm that owned us sold us to a German Multinational. Right around that time my beloved manager got let go. A year later the CEO left and a guy from Germany took over. There were other shufflings, layoffs and changes happening that whole time too. But here’s the good news: the German company buying us is probably the best outcome we could have hoped for; otherwise we might have ended up sold for parts or to a US competitor. The Germans are slowly making some changes and I’m sure more will come, but things seem a lot more stable and they’re focused on the long term.

      As for managers – that can be hard, but, it happens — do you have a good relationship with your grandboss?

      It’s been a stressful year all around, I know, and it can be hard to hold on — remember that you are not defined by your job, take care of yourself and just keep doing the best you can.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Wow, I can’t imagine going through all of that within my first three months on the job. But it sounds like it worked out, so I hope to have a similar outcome for my company, minus the being sold part. I guess that’s my greatest fear – that our founders will take us public, we’ll get bought out by a competitor, and then our founders will either leave or be pushed out. Our founders have created such a great environment from the top down – I don’t want some unknown entity with unknown motivations coming in and disrupting the harmony we have.

        And yes, I get along great with grandboss. In fact, he has invited me to come visit him and his wife in their new location once the pandemic eases up, and I’m totally taking him up on the offer because his estate is beautiful. But I also haven’t worked that closely with him because he’s a pretty laidback, hands off manager that allows his direct reports to do their jobs how they see fit and give him occasional updates. Since I wasn’t one of his direct reports, we only ever really talked about non-work things. I don’t think he’ll change drastically, but I am concerned that he may decide that he has too many direct reports and will try to hire a replacement for my manager – I will hate that. No one will be able to step into his role as effectively.

        1. ThatGirl*

          “No one will be able to step into his role as effectively”

          well – that is the fear, but it may not be reality. And if your grandboss does hire someone else, they might offer a new perspective that’s helpful.

          When my beloved manager was let go, I was really frustrated — she had so much product knowledge and had been with the company a long time, and we had shared goals for my role. They did eventually replace her, and while the new manager couldn’t take Old Manager’s place, she did have some good, different perspectives on things, and saw my potential for the company as well. New is never going to be the same, but it doesn’t have to be worse. :)

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This is true, though my brain likes to jump to the worst possible conclusions ever, lol. Still, I pray grandboss just leaves it alone and lets us continue reporting directly to him. Our department works so well as-is, it would suck to bring someone new in and have them potentially screw up the chemistry.

    4. Kimmybear*

      So my boss left on a rotation last November and I’ve been reporting to my grandboss. It’s been AMAZING! I don’t know that I would have kept as sane as I have during the pandemic without her guidance. But now rumor has it that original boss is coming back and I’m kind of dreading it. I get along fine with original boss but I honestly didn’t know what I was missing. Will I get through it? Sure. Am I looking to see what else is out there (internal and external)? Yup.

    5. Choggy*

      I got a new manager less than three weeks ago and see him already making a difference with regard to lousy coworker, I’m hoping more good things are to come!

    6. NW Mossy*

      I have a lot of experience with having great managers move on – when they’re great, they tend to do that! It’s always a bit dislocating at first, but part of what shores me up is continuing to keep up the connection even when I’m not their direct anymore.

      I’ve found it really valuable for the ongoing health and maintenance of my career. I’ve had departed bosses poach me to their new area, which has rounded out my skills in a really helpful way. Also, ex-bosses can be great guides for organizational politics – they know the players and the game, but can give you advice without the influences and incentives that come from managing you directly. I picked up a couple of great mentors this way, and I benefit from their help to this day.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I really hope my former manager can help me advance throughout the company that way. He’s on the fast track up the ladder himself (hence his move managing an even bigger team), so it would be great if he could help me navigate the politicking since he’s great at that and knows everyone in the company. Plus, I’m at a distinct disadvantage being fully remote regardless of the pandemic, so I don’t get the face time with some of the higher level decision-makers that he can go talk to in their offices.

    7. violet04*

      There have been so many reorgs at my company that I’ve had four different managers in as many years. With each of those changes, I’ve also been moved to different projects. That was more challenging than the new manager because I had to jump in and start working on something new.

      It’s happened so many times that I’m used to it by now and it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m reporting to yet a different person next year.

      Each of those times it’s turned out fine. I just keep trying to do quality work and keeping my new boss in the loop. We have bi-weekly one-on-one meetings so that we can discuss status and how best to work together.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        A client of mine some years back had an improvement suggestions box, as many do.
        One suggestion that made it into the final round of consideration for implementation (and the associated financial reward for the proposer): Electronic door signs that can be centrally updated. They reorganized so often that facility management could not finish updating the signage before the next reorg made it all obsolete.

    8. Mama Bear*

      Well, I had a situation once where a manager left for another team and a year or so later when I needed a new contract, she put in a good word for me and brought me on board with her new team.

      Something you might consider doing for yourself is making a contingency plan. If A happens or B happens. That way you won’t be just caught sideways, but can go, “Woah. OK. So…” and you already have some idea of what to do next.

    9. Fabulous*

      Our division is going through a re-org right now, and it’s the third re-org company-wide in the last two years (that I know about).

      My original manager that I loved was let go back in 2018. I reported to grandboss for a while, then a new (even more awesomely amazing) manager stepped in. Original grandboss was let go last month, and the new grandboss is in the midst of figuring out how to do another reorg of the division. I know my position is safe – I’m one of two people in the entire organization that does this job – but I likely won’t have the same manager anymore, which will suck big time. However, the best thing about this impending reorg is that the new grandboss realized I’m paid WAY below what I’m worth, so I know I’ll be getting a promotion to possibly two steps above(!!) where I’m at now. Which will mean a raise of between $10-20k.

      So I will say that while I’m disappointed to be losing my awesomely amazing manager, I’ll take the raise, LOL.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ha! I don’t blame you, lol. Congrats on your impending promotion and pay raise.

      2. allathian*

        Congrats on your impending promotion and raise. I love it when bosses realize an employee’s worth and get them a promotion.

    10. Sydney Ellen Wade*

      I’m so sorry about your uncle and the work stress. “I have no idea what the hell is happening anymore” should be the slogan of 2020. I hope the transition goes smoothly. You’ll be awesome!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Thank you. And yes, that should be the slogan right now because seriously – what the hell is this timeline?!

    11. RagingADHD*

      In one of my first corporate jobs, our department had 4 managers in less than a year – one moved cross-country to take a job nearer her family. The second, a much-beloved internal promotion, died suddenly of a misdiagnosed condition. The third was an assistant manager who served in the interim, and was like a female Dwight Schrute, only more paranoid and tertitorial (if you can imagine that).

      The fourth, a very experienced person hired from a competitor, was one of the nicest people and best managers I’ve ever known.

      He got Dwight-ette and the other missing stairs to shape up and start acting constructively. He gave our beleaguered office manager and other underappreciated folks the recognition and autonomy they deserved. And we had a fantastic working relationship.

      I don’t know the long-term outcome because I left for entirely personal reasons not too long after. But from everything I could tell, the department and the company as a whole wound up in a much better place after that awful year.

    12. allathian*

      A bit of perspective: I work for the government in the Nordics so this probably doesn’t apply to you, but in 13 years I’ve had one raise that’s based on my individual performance rather than a COL raise, and I’ve had excellent reviews every year. Excellent to the point that my then-boss changed the numbers from exceeds expectations to meet expectations during my performance review to ensure my score isn’t high enough for a raise, because she didn’t have the budget to give me one. Discouraging to say the least, but I’ve realized that if I want a higher salary, I need to switch jobs.

      Good luck with all the changes.

  2. Just Peachy*

    Okay, I feel like if this were Reddit, I would be asking ‘AITAH?’ and people would be telling me, yes, you are.

    So, I have worked at my current company for 5 years. We are a very small office – only 5 employees who work 100% in the office. Every weekday for the past 5 years, I have taken lunch from 1:00-2:00, and eaten in our small breakroom. The breakroom has one small, round table with two chairs. My coworker, Brian (the only employee other than me who works in a cubicle) is the only other employee who eats in the breakroom, and he takes lunch from 11:00-12:00 every day. We are the only two people who would get interrupted if we ate at our desks. My manager eats at her desk since she has an office and can close her door and not be interrupted. Our two warehouse guys (historically), have also eaten at their desks – they have very spacious desks tucked in the back corner of our warehouse, and do not get interrupted there.

    We had a new warehouse guy, Jeff, start last month. To my surprise, I walked into the breakroom at 1:00 P.M. on his first day, and Jeff was eating in the breakroom. I ended up just eating at my desk, which makes me feel like I can’t truly get away and take a break. Sure, I could have eaten at the table with Jeff, but I just like having my peace and quiet and lunchtime. It’s also clear that we’re both introverts, so it would be quite awkward. I started trying to take my lunches later, but it seems that Jeff takes his lunch around 12:30/12:45 (we have hour lunch breaks), so he is consistently in the breakroom until 1:30/1:45 every day (at which point, I’m starving, and long past ready for a break!) On top of that, I’m 10 weeks pregnant, and have a very sensitive nose at the moment. Jeff smells very…strong (to me at least). Kind of like a nursing home (I know, that sounds awful). So, I don’t even enjoy sitting in the breakroom after him.

    Is this just my reality now? Either eat at my desk (and feel like I’m not truly getting a break), sit with Jeff all break and feel uncomfortable (and nauseous), or take lunch at almost 2:00 P.M.?

    1. Just Peachy*

      Disclaimer: I KNOW that Jeff is entitled to take his lunch whenever, and wherever he wants.

      1. Calanthea*

        Ah, that sounds really annoying. Yes, you are the one being unreasonable, but still, it’s annoying!

        Because I hate conflict, what I would do would be to take a snack to eat at 11/12, and hold out for the later lunch break. Is that an option or not really?

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I understand the feeling of “I was here first” and am glad to realize it’s his right to take his lunch there at that time. He’s not eating lunch then to spite you, but it can be difficult to remember that. I hope your overactive sense of smell calms down soon, too.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Well….. yes? I don’t think you can tell Jeff to go away, and if you can’t share the space….

      You have my sympathies on “if I eat at my desk I can’t get an actual break,” I had the same issue in the office. I would just eat outside most of the time.

    3. Panda*

      Can you eat earlier? I know you’ll overlap with Brian, but maybe he doesn’t both your nose? The only other idea I can think of is the car or at a park if you have one nearby.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I would try this one. Or, weather permitting, finding a bench or somewhere outside to eat.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I have to agree. You’re not being an asshole–you haven’t actually done anything!–but there’s really nothing you can do in this situation other than eat your lunch earlier, eat your lunch somewhere else (whether that’s at your desk, in your car, outside the office somewhere, etc.), or eat your lunch with Jeff.

        If you were trying to tell Jeff where, when, or what he could eat, then it’d be YTA… you can’t really do that of course… but as of right now it’s a definite NAH situation for me.

        1. The Corporate Curmudgeon*

          Ghod forbid that Peaches here has to eat her lunch sitting near another person, because introverts.

        2. miro*

          Totally agree; OP isn’t the/an asshole, but neither is Jeff… not every annoying situation has an asshole!

          But yeah, not a lot to do here if the eating space options are limited to what OP has mentioned here

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I think you could, kindly and politely, talk with Jeff about a mutually acceptable arrangement (like each of you gets the break room for 30 to 45 minutes). The pandemic might be a useful pretext, as wearing a mask is impossible while eating.
            Pose it as a request, not an order, and expect to graciously accept push-back.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If it weren’t for the smell thing, I would recommend you just bring a book or a podcast (and headphones) and eat at the same time as Jeff, what’s the big deal. You’re not expecting lunch time conversation, neither is Jeff.

      But since his presence bothers you, then I think you do have to be the one to make a change. I don’t advocate waiting to eat, but you’ll have to find another location. He’s allowed to eat in the breakroom (he probably wants to get away from his desk) and he got there first. Interruptions are a concern, but you might have to “train” people that you will get back to them after lunch (I’m guessing this is a required break). Or find another spot to eat, maybe outside when the weather’s nice?

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      If you decide to start eating at your desk, can you put on some headphones and put up a sign that says “Lunch Break” or something like that? Just as an indicator to the other people in the office that you’re not working right now so they’ll be less likely to interrupt you.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is exactly what I used to do back in the days when I worked in-office and could only eat at my desk because our break room was always packed.

    6. Koala dreams*

      You could take lunch at 12 and eat during the first half hour, then go for a walk for the second half of the break.

    7. Heidi*

      I’d probably eat a snack at my desk at around 11 so I’m not starving, then take the later lunch.

    8. Niktike*

      You could politely ask Jeff if he’d be willing to take his lunch at noon or at 1. Explain that you’re pregnant and some food smells are bothering you, so you’d prefer to eat by yourself if possible.

      Or start taking your lunch at noon, eat until he comes in, then go take a walk or something for the last bit.

      1. kittymommy*

        I think this is the best solution, one of you all take you break at noon, one at 1pm. Everybody has an hour, everybody is alone.

      2. BetsCounts*

        Niktike this is exactly what I was going to suggest. If you aren’t “out” about being pregnant at work you can say that you are starting/taking medication that is temporarily making you more sensitive to smells. Let him choose what time to take lunch since you are asking him for the (relatively simple) favor.

      3. RagingADHD*

        This would be a huge jerk move, no matter how polite the words are.

        Leaning on the new guy in the lower status job to switch his break, while implying that his food stinks, would just be obnoxious.

        OP may or may not be in a senior job, but there is absolutely a class dynamic at play in workplaces with this kind of division between office staff and manual labor. Taking advantage of it because you don’t want to be around the stinky laborer would be really gross behavior.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          This. OP, sorry, either switch hours, eat in the break room with him, eat at your desk, or eat in your car.

    9. LGC*

      Nah. (Or rather, NAH.) Probably your best bet is…is there any way that you can be not interrupted while you’re at your desk? I’d tell you to just sit with Jeff for like one lunch, but that does not sound like an option.

      (Or be extremely chaotic – like me, another introvert who just wants to get away from everyone – and pick different offices to hang out in if possible.)

      It doesn’t sound like you have a Jeff problem – I’m assuming he’s a nice guy otherwise, and it doesn’t sound like he’s doing anything explicitly wrong or malicious. (Like, I think he doesn’t even know he screwed up your lunch plans.) But it does sound like…you have a bit of a boundary problem, and I’m not sure whether it’s feasible to just disconnect at your desk for the next six months or – ideally – to work out a situation with Jeff where both of you guys can use the break room! (And trust – I get not being able to get away from work if you’re at your desk because people just ASSUME that you’re available – I literally duck into unused offices because if I’m in ANY public space people tend to ask me to fix their time cards or just complain about other work issues because they literally do not comprehend the concept of being off the clock. But I know you have fewer people to deal with, and I assume that they have better boundaries.)

    10. Choggy*

      You could ask Jeff if he would mind taking his lunch at a different time, but really, it’s a space for all to eat so you’ll have to kind of figure out whether you can just get used to his smell/existence, or like others have said, eat a snack at your desk and take lunch at an alternate time than Jeff.

      1. Wintergreen*

        You mention it is a small table so I’m assuming less than 6′. Could you come at it as a socially distancing thing? Also, it sounds like you and the other employee who uses the breakroom have set up pretty hard times in the past. That might be another angle to bring up. Something along the lines of “Jeff, I might be over-cautious at the moment but I like to try and maintain the 6′ social distancing guideline as much as possible but that breakroom table is a little small. Could we work together for set lunch times so we are not overlapping?”

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          The OP should volunteer to change her time. Leaning on the new hire just because OP ants to be alone is wrong.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Would setting up a perspex screen across the table help? Wearing a mask is obviously impossible while eating, and it might help with the smell somewhat?
          I think posing it as a health issue (social distancing) is your best bet, trying to negotiate a kind of break room schedule. Just make sure you either concede the “best” time or e.g. take turns.
          If both would like to eat at 12, one could take the 11 to 12 slot and the other the 12 to 1, splitting the difference – and maybe swapping every week/month.
          Also, would you need the break room for the full hour?

      2. PollyQ*

        I don’t think there’s any way to ask Jeff to change without seeming, at minimum, weird, or more likely, mean.

    11. blink14*

      I think you’ll have to compromise and work around him. Could you take lunch from 12 – 1, and plan to be out of the break room around 12:30 every day? You could take a walk, or use another quiet space, if there is one, to read, listen to music, etc.

      I know how annoying something like this! I worked in several locations with small break rooms, and my office space now doesn’t even have one – before working remotely due to COVID, I would eat my lunch at an empty desk. It annoyed me immensely when someone occasionally would use the space at the same time.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, this is how I would approach it, maybe even talk to your coworkers and let them know your plan for no overlaps in the breakroom – and yes blame social distancing if that makes it easier.

    12. Third or Nothing!*

      Back when I still worked in the physical office, I used to eat lunch at my desk while working and then spend my lunch hour running errands, exercising, visiting parks, reading a book or listening to a podcast in my car, etc. It was so nice to get outside the building for a bit. Would that be an option?

      Also, I remember when I was pregnant I also had a really sensitive nose and nausea, but it went away at about 20 weeks. So this might be a short term problem. Sucks right now, but I find it’s easier to accept less than ideal situations if I know they’re temporary.

    13. Not A Manager*

      Why don’t you lean into COVID worries? “It’s impossible to socially distance at this small table, I wonder if we could set up a lunch schedule so that no one has to share the break room?” Maybe he would be willing to take the noon shift, or maybe you could but at least know that he won’t wander in at 12:30 and sit down next to you.

      If he’s an introvert, he might be relieved to know that you won’t walk in on him, either.

      1. LCH*

        i was wondering this. our office return guidelines specifies we can’t share the lunch room. there are only 2 of us where i am which makes it easy. sounds like there are only 3 at OP’s work so having an actual schedule should also work?

      2. Amtelope*

        +1

        If it’s a small table, I doubt two people can stay six feet apart while eating lunch there. You need some kind of schedule (even if it means cutting the “actually eating lunch in the break room” part of your break down to half an hour per person.)

    14. Esme*

      I actually don’t think two people should be eating there together with COVID anyway, so you might have a legitimate way to introduce a discussion about times.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Our management has requested that people avoid sharing the smaller break rooms for this reason.

    15. Lucette Kensack*

      Yes.

      You have a new colleague who wants to use the break room on roughly the same schedule you want to use it. That’s a bummer, but nobody’s doing anything wrong. Jeff has just as much right to the break room space as you do. (The detail that he isn’t interrupted at his desk isn’t actually relevant; he can choose to eat at the shared space for any reason, not just to avoid interruptions.)

      Because you’re the one imposing extra restrictions (you want to use the break room as a private space), you’re going to need to be the one who makes accommodations. So it sounds like you have a couple of options:

      1) Take lunch at 12:00 (and see what Jeff does when he arrives at 12:30; he may join you, or delay his lunch, or eat elsewhere).
      2) Take lunch at 1:45.
      3) Eat with Jeff at your preferred time.

    16. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I don’t think you’re the AH here. I also don’t think Jeff is the AH here. In fact, this situation strikes me as one which is devoid of AHs; no one is behaving badly here, it’s just that you and Jeff have conflicting desires.

      Is there anywhere else you could go to eat lunch? Perhaps eating outside?

    17. Observer*

      Can you actually TALK to him? Not in a “you can’t eat here” way, as he’s entitled to eat lunch. But see if you can actually coordinate your schedules. The key here is going to be your willingness to be flexible on schedule and perhaps take lunch earlier than normal.

      Also, I wonder why he’s eating in the break room if they really don’t get interrupted in the warehouse.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        I like to physically be in a different space from where I’m working all day when I take my break.

    18. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      There are no AH’s involved.

      This is shared space, you need to either work around him or talk to him directly about a plan. Expecting a new employee to just “know” and not use a shared space, that’s pretty silly to say the least.

      You shouldn’t be assuming that because other warehouse workers are staying in the warehouse, that a new person wouldn’t want to get away from their work space as well to eat in peace!

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Agreed. No AH’s here, just a situation that needs to be worked out.

        Also, nobody has mentioned Brian! He uses the lunchroom too, and he shouldn’t just automatically get a free pass to “his” time slot just because Jeff happened to take the one that was traditionally considered Just Peachy’s.

        I would suggest a quick meeting with all three of you, and lay it out as something that you should all work out together. Basically, there are three people who use the lunch room, two time slots, and at least one of you has a preference for eating alone. How do we make this work?

        1. LavaLamp*

          I’ve always eaten at my desk because I like to poke about online while I’m eating. Lots of people at Old Job did this as well, so we all had little signs we’d clip on the wall saying when we were on break or lunch. It will help with the interruptions if you don’t want to use the break room.

        2. LGC*

          Three time slots actually! Brian goes 11-12, and OP goes 1-2. 12-1 is a completely open hour.

          Again, I kind of see Jeff as blundering into this and OP having FEELINGS. (Which isn’t dumping on OP – I think he just decided to go to lunch at 12:30 without thinking, and OP is now declaring herself an asshole on a work advice blog for being annoyed.)

    19. ampersand*

      I say talk to Jeff and work out the timing so that you can both eat in the break room alone, if possible. If he’s also an introvert, there’s a good chance he’ll understand that you would like the chance to decompress (alone) during your lunch break, and eating at your desk isn’t conducive to getting an actual break. I think there’s a way to ask this that’s relatively low key, and if he says no then you have your answer.

      I completely understand pregnancy + smells; there were times while pregnant that I couldn’t be in the same room as someone, because their smell would make me gag. From across the room. You have my sympathy!

    20. allathian*

      I hear you on the sensitive nose issue while pregnant. I love coffee, but when I was pregnant in the first trimester I couldn’t stand the smell of it. At the time we had a percolator in the breakroom, and the only time I came anywhere near throwing up at work (or anywhere else) was going there when someone had left the percolator on for half an hour and the smell of stale coffee really got to me.

      Is there any chance you could eat your lunch at the same time as Brian, or do you need to cover for him? If you do need to cover for him, can you eat in your car or outside? If you’re both introverts, you don’t have to talk to Jeff. Just acknowledging his presence should be enough, especially if he’s also an introvert.

      Your sensitive nose will get back to normal sooner or later. When I was pregnant, I was lucky enough to have my own office. But when I walked past my coworker’s office, I could smell the open bag of licorice she kept in her desk drawer from 10 ft away, even when she wasn’t eating it. My blood pressure was a bit too high and I wasn’t allowed to eat any licorice, but the smell at least didn’t make me feel sick.

    21. BTDT*

      Since there are 3 hours worth of slots for 3 ppl I’d get all 3 of you together to choose (potentially) new slots. Another idea though – do you have to take the full hour at once? Could you do 30 min either before the first person or at Noon, and then another 30min after the 2nd person? Having multiple chances to eat (since you’re pregnant) may be nice. Just a thought.

    22. Cassidy*

      Is there no signage in the break room about social distancing?

      And why is anyone in the break room, anyway? At my workplace, it’s locked up, at least for now. Minor inconveniences aside, problem solved.

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

      What do you think you would have done in Jeff’s position?
      As a new recruit in the warehouse, being told “this is the break room” etc.. Wouldn’t you think they would use it? What do you expect them to do instead?

  3. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    If it’s financially feasible, is it worth it to take a $10k pay cut, to move to a role that has numerous opportunities for advancement and development? There is no room for growth in my current position.

    1. Littorally*

      If you can weather the pay cut financially, it seems like it could be a worthwhile tradeoff — as long as those opportunities are actual and not hot air. Do your due diligence on how often people do actually move up, not just how they could potentially.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        THIS. I would be mad as hell if I took a paycut that large thinking it would lead to greater advancement – only to get into the role and find out that those opportunities never really materialize. Or, god forbid, something even worse than this pandemic comes around and knocks out your position altogether. Then you’d be job searching and applying for unemployment on a much lower salary.

        Do your due diligence before making this move.

      2. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        It would be an internal transfer so I know of at least five people who have moved up within 1-2 years.

    2. LGC*

      10k from what? The higher your starting salary is, the less the cut matters. (That is, if you’re making $50k now, I’d be REALLY wary. If you’re making $150k, less so.)

    3. IL JimP*

      I’m of the opinion you sometimes have to move sideways or down to move up. If this new role will help your career overall and you can swing the pay cut it might be worth it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m of the opinion you sometimes have to move sideways or down to move up.

        This is also true. I did it nearly three years ago (moved sideways), and now I’ve moved up into a role making about $26k more a year.

        1. Product Person*

          That’s exactly how it worked for me as well. The pay cut was temporary and opened up the opportunity to earn much more over time.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Yes, if you are confident that there are genuine and realistic opportunities to progress.

      Are there other potential moves you could make which might give you your current salary and better opportunities to advance, though? Would the new job be a step down in responsibilities in the short term, and if so, how would this affect you if you find that the promotion / advancement isn’t there so you have to start job hunting?

      I wouldn’t rule it out, but I would be very diligent about my research and look at the best and worst case scenarios before making the move.

      Good luck with whatever you decide.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        I’m paid very well in my current position, due to a promotion and performance-based raises, so it has been difficult to find something that pays as well and doesn’t have similar responsibilities (I am looking to transfer out of admin support).

        1. Hillary*

          Then absolutely yes. You’re probably topped out in your current role – taking a pay cut is probably the only way to change responsibilities.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Definitely, especially if you live somewhere where it’s illegal for employers to ask about your salary history (so the cut won’t semi-permanently lower all future pay if you switch jobs again).

    6. MissDisplaced*

      It depends. If you can manage to swing the loss in income, AND the move is something that you find really interesting and/or fits your long term career goals better. For most people $10k is really a lot.

      But if you have a two-income household or a great savings or other income, it may be just a minor issue that requires a small bit of budget adjustments.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        I live very minimally on my paycheck; most of it goes into savings/retirement. With this new position, I wouldn’t be able to save until I got a raise or two.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          So, it sounds like you can manage ok with the reduction. Then you have to decide if this opportunity is worth it. I mean, there is no hard and fast answer. If the new area has more room for advancement, is it possible to make up that $10k by advancement within 1-2 years?

          Keep in mind, that’s a lot of income to make back up, so you’d have to really look at what more senior roles pay in the area you want to move into. You’d have to figure, maybe 2 years with the lower income before you can advance, so $20k. Will those more senior roles pay more than that $20k loss? Or would you advance only back to where you are currently in two years time? Of course, if that area makes you much happier, even with a slightly lower salary, that’s also a consideration.

          I usually don’t advocate for taking a job with a lower salary unless one HAS TO. But, there are so many other factors at play, especially now. Sometimes the risk is worth it longer-term reward because it’s a better fit for you.

          1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

            My main concern is making the income back up, as you said. I’m not sure how long it would take, as my company pays based on experience, and I’m essentially starting from the bottom again with this new role. If the pay cut wasn’t so steep, I’d be ecstatic about the position, which makes me think I should take it.

    7. Lucette Kensack*

      Best username ever. Yay!

      Also: yes, absolutely, assuming you’ve done your homework and are confident that the lower-paid role is going to give the opportunities you’re looking for (and is otherwise a good fit). I took a $25,000 pay cut when I moved into my current job. It was 100% worth it.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        Thank you for the compliment and the vote of confidence! Do you mind sharing details about moving into your current job and why it was worth it?

    8. Been There*

      Hi. I’ve been in this boat, and fortunately it worked out (pre-Covid at least). I took about a $10K hit to get into a different facet of my industry. The paycut sucked, but I did really well in the role, they increased my responsibilities and I used that to negotiate a raise after only a few months. In less than a year’s time I was promoted to $30K above my hire-in salary and $20K over my old salaries. Of course then Covid hit and huge pay cuts got put into place. But it was a great 3 months

      Of course all of that will come back in time and the experience I’ve gotten would probably have not happened any other way.

      Good luck in your choice

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        “Of course all of that will come back in time and the experience I’ve gotten would probably have not happened any other way.”

        This is the mindset I’m leaning towards. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    9. Alternative Person*

      I’d say its a know your field thing.

      There was no up room at my previous job (between an unofficial long timers first policy and them endlessly kicking management-adjacent positions into the future) along with no training support, so I took a pay cut when I started my new job this April, but the thing is, I know I’ll get continuing training, a discounted Masters and I’ll be able to apply for the management programme in a year or two. At the end of it, I’ll be able to move up, not necessarily at this company, but elsewhere. If you don’t have the equivalent support, I’d say hold off until you can plan out your path to moving up with some degree of condidence.

      Also, the schedule at my new job means I can take on freelance work, so I’m very slowly working towards building up a list of private contacts so the pay cut isn’t quite as bad.

  4. mph grad*

    Hi!

    I have five questions I am wondering about. I graduated in may 2020 and am applying for research jobs.

    1.How do you handle it in an interview when an interviewer says something along the lines of ‘You might be bored/not challenged/over qualified’? Yes, I am applying to some jobs which you only need a Bachelors or even just a diploma. But I don’t mind being bored at work and see it as a way to start somewhere .

    2. I’m working two part time jobs and have a sporadic consultant position at a small company. My resume only lists the one part-time job that I have been at the longest. I’m not sure if I should bring up my other work. On one hand, I’m worried it makes it seem that I do not need a job as much as other people (though none of these positions have benefits, I really want one full-time job!), on the other hand, I’m still gaining some level of experience that may apply (like one of my jobs is at pharmacy, which could be useful for healthcare). I don’t want to be dishonest butI also don’t want to seem like a total scatter-brain too.

    3. What kind of information are hiring people/recruiters looking to gain when they ask if you are applying to other jobs? Is there a ‘right’ way to answer this? Who only applies to one job?

    4. I applied for a position near the end of last month and my application status has been stuck in ‘sent to interviewing manager for review’ for two weeks. Is there anything I could do at this point to see how long the process is, or to ‘nudge’ my application along? (I know some people here will say it’s annoying to message people on linkedin, but why am i reading this advice everywhere!)

    5. I have a video interview for a position located about 1.5 hr away from me. I have driving anxiety, so i’m unsure but it seems like a good company and oppurunity. The company has other locations closer to me. How do I ask about similar positions at other locations? Or should I not bother, and just try to get the job regardless of commute and hope to move on later?

    1. IL JimP*

      Not sure I can help with all of these but I’ll give it a shot since I’ve been a hiring manager for a while

      1. They want to know that you’re not going to leave right away when you get bored since it’s expensive and time consuming to do hiring/onboarding. You should have an answer to why you want that role and how it fits into your plan, what you hope to get out of it etc

      2. I would at least list that consoluting position, and depending on the other p/t job list it too. Most places don’t care if you look like you need the job, they care about if you’ll be the best fit for the job they’re hiring for at the moment

      3. They want to see if you’re looking at similar jobs or are all over the place, it’s a spot to show off your judgement and ability to self assess your skills and where they might fit in with a company

      4. Follow up with the HR team once and ask for an update after that there’s no point and you’ll be over doing it. Also, do it by email not phone

      5. I would do the interview, who knows it might be the best thing for your career. Is it possible for you to move closer so the drive isn’t so bad? If there were similar positions in closer locations those would have been posted most likely so you can instead ask about career progression and movement within the company. I wouldn’t mention the locations specifically but that’s might just be me.

      Hopefully this helps, sorry if it doesn’t

      1. mph grad*

        Thank you (and everyone else so far!)

        It would be possible to move, but the tricky part is finding an inexpensive area that is in-between that location and my partner’s work location, and the monetary issue as well since it may harder to rent because we have a lot of pets. I guess I will need to think more about it if I actually get an offer and like the position. I want to plan ahead but also am trying not to get too far ahead of myself!

        1. WellRed*

          Do not take a job that is 1.5 hours away and plan to commute. It will suck the life out of you. If you have driving anxiety to boot, I think that’s unworkable. I do think it wouldn’t hurt to do the interview.

          1. Cassidy*

            Agreed. If the job were, say, two days a week onsite and the other three days WFH, then I’d actually welcome the commute, as I like long drives sometimes, but your anxiety about driving might not be able to accommodate that kind of arrangement.

            On this point alone, then, I’d say move on. You’ll find a good fit for yourself without having to have such a long commute.

    2. Grace*

      For 1, my job is part data entry and part data analysis, and they specifically brought up the monotony of data entry in my interview. Fortunately I’d just finished my dissertation that year (History BA Hons) and could immediately point to the monotonous data entry I’d had to do so that I could get the info I needed out of random medieval paperwork, as proof that I can do it day in and day out.

      Long-winded way of saying, I’d recommend having examples of extremely monotonous/boring work you’ve done before to prove you won’t get tired of it, although that might not help with the overqualified question.

    3. Just us chickens*

      1. I’d probably say something about every job has challenges even if you seem overqualified, and because of your greater knowledge base, you might find ways to improve/streamline things for that position.

      2. Put down the other job if it requires or uses any skills you could use in the position you’re applying for. It’s not a matter of if you need a job or someone else needs a job more, it’s about who’s skill set fits the requirements of the job.

      3. I think asking if you applied for other jobs is to see how much they need to rush to make a decision if they’re wanting to hire you. If there’s a possibility you’re going to be snapped up by another company they want to make sure they get to you first.

      4. I think all hiring processes are slow right now, partly due to it being summer and partly because of the pandemic. I have been getting calls from people about their applications and it just makes me think they’re not reading the last line of the posting that says “only short listed applicants will be contacted.” I know it’s tough as the applicant, but you don’t know what’s going on at the employer’s end that’s making them take longer than you’d like.

      5. I don’t think you can ask about other locations until they offer you the position, it could come across presumptuous that you’re going to get hired. You can ask about other locations as part of your decision making if they do offer you a job.

    4. Always Late to the Party*

      1. Tell them what excites/interests you in the job.

      2. It depends how much your work relates to the jobs you’re applying for but leaving them off because it makes you look like you “don’t need a job” doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think how much a candidate needs a job is a major factor for most employers. Finding the best candidate for the role is. There may be some hiring managers who think this way, but there could be hiring managers who think the activity makes you look “in demand.” Again it depends how your work relates to the roles you’re applying to.

      3. I’m not the expert on this, but they may just be trying to gauge if you have other jobs potentially pending/they’d need to make a decision on you quickly. A short, honest answer should suffice, I think.

      4. Two weeks is not long AT ALL in hiring, especially if the interviewing manager is overloaded with other responsibilities. be patient. you’re almost guaranteed to annoy them if you reach out on LinkedIn. You’re reading this advice everywhere because there is lots of bad job advice everywhere.

      5. Would it be feasible for you to move closer to that location if you got the job? I’m not sure how to answer this one; I would try to research on your own first if similar positions are available at the closer locations, I guess?

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      I have no advice on the rest, but for #5, when you interview and get to the part where they ask if you have any questions, you can always ask then if it would be possible to work from whichever office is nearest to you. The worst they can do is say no – they absolutely need the successful candidate to work out of the posted location for training purposes, space reasons, etc.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      1 – ‘You might be bored/not challenged/over qualified’? – They’re concerned that this might lead you to not stay at the job they’re hiring for for very long. Are you only trying to get your foot in the door at their company and will you immediately start trying to move to a different position in company? Will you accept the offer, but keep looking so that you’ll quit quickly after you start. They want the person they hire to stay long enough for them to get benefit from them – probably at least 2-3 years. Never admit you think the job will be boring. Try to come up with a truthful answer about how you are excited about the position that you are applying for.

      #2 – I’d list the second part time job.

      #3 – Admit that Yes you are, but don’t tell them anything else like what companies or jobs. I think they’re mostly trying to get a feel that if they like you, how quickly do they have to offer you a job to beat the other companies. OTOH it could play into #1. If you are applying for other more senior jobs than theirs, you probably won’t stay at their junior position very long.

      #4 – Do nothing. Unless they contact you for an interview, forget about that application. If you get an interview, then you can ask for a timeline for hiring. Two weeks isn’t very long in the process. Reviewing applications is not a full time job. maybe the interviewing manager is waiting for all applications to come in a review them all. Maybe the automated system won’t move anyone to the next step until all the interview slots are filled.

      #5 – It’s highly likely that the job you are interviewing for is only at one location for business reasons. Unless it is a deal breaker for you, don’t ask about a different location during the interview. You can ask about that if you get the job, but you need to be willing to hear “no” and make the long drive for a few years. Basically they were honest about the location, you can’t go in there and try a bait and switch about which location you’re willing to work at.

    7. Victoria*

      1. The way to handle this is to show excitement for a couple of aspects of the role, which will convince them that you won’t just leave quickly if something better comes along “I am really looking for a role where I can get experience with x and y, and this role would offer me that opportunity” or “I really enjoy work that involves x and y, so I am not worried about getting bored/being overqualified/not being challenged” (The key here is to use their exact wording, too).
      2. Put them all on your resume. You can weave a cohesive narrative when you highlight how you’re a strong fit for the jobs you’re applying to in your resume. For example, I am a researcher with quant and qual experience, and I have also worked as an editor and writing coach. It may look disconnected on my resume when I’m applying to research jobs, but I highlight how it gives me added experience with project management and working with an even more diverse group of stakeholders. Also, who needs the job the most is not typically a factor in hiring decisions, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
      3. They want to know about where you are in the process and the types of jobs you’re applying to. The former is because if you’re close to an offer with another job and they really like you, that could impact their timeline. The latter is because if you’re applying for senior or lead researcher roles elsewhere and the role is entry level (or vice versa), you might have different expectations that make you not the right fit for the role.

    8. Another researcher*

      #3 – To add to what the other commenters have said, you don’t need to go into a lot of detail here and it can be a chance to play up what you like about this particular role. For example: “Yes, I have a couple of interviews coming up, but I’m particularly interested in this job because of XYZ.” In the past, I’ve never really needed to go into detail about what those jobs are or what companies they’re for, unless perhaps it’s the final stage with the company you’re interviewing for. If you’re in late or early stages with other jobs you can mention that too, so they know how fast they’d need to move – that example would be for early stages.

    9. BetsCounts*

      everyone’s comments have been so spot on!
      1- also search aam’s archives for ‘interview’ and ‘overqualified’; allison has said essentially what the others have noted
      4- another thing allison has said is that after you apply for the job, it’s best to assume you haven’t gotten it and move on. fwiw 2 weeks with an interviewing manager is not that long, especially with (waves hands) everything going on right now.
      5- on the balance, do the interview and you can ask something like ‘how much does the Oakland group work with the San Jose office’, but especially if you have driving anxiety do NOT take the job. even 1.5 hours each way on public transit would be soul crushing.
      good luck!!

    10. HU*

      I’m only going to comment on #4:

      Don’t contact them about the status of your application. They have it, they’ve seen it. They might be waiting for more to come in, they might have received 300 applications for a single role and are still wading through them. They might have selected some other people for interviews, but liked your application enough to hold it back in case the first group didn’t pan out. Does the posting have an official closing date? If so, give them a full week after that date before reaching out. If not, just sit tight. (I once applied for a job in early September, with a quick interview afterward. Then literally radio silence until the end of November when the offered me the job.)

      During this time when so many people are out of work, and so few companies are hiring, it’s worthwhile to have some patience with the process. Due to sheer volume, there will be delays in the steps. Due to tight budgets, there will be delays in making offers and even negotiating salaries. Do not pester these people (in academia, 2 weeks is nothing in terms of timeline for hiring) – if it’s the right fit, with the right company, for the right salary… it will work out.

    11. Emilitron*

      #3 – there are very few wrong answers, but the answer can tell you interviewers a lot, so plan what you want to say and how you want to say it. but very little that’s “wrong”. Examples of perfectly good answers that illustrate very different situations and would help the interviewer know who you are and what you’re after:
      “Yes, I’ve had a couple of interviews; one was local and one I’d have to move for. [Your company] really suits the type of job I’m looking for because A, B, C”
      “I’ve applied to a few different academic and R&D jobs, but this is my first R&D interview; I know those are really different paths, and everything I’ve learned today will help me make that decision, this has been very inspiring.”
      “Like I said, I’m mostly happy at [current job], but I’ve been submitting applications to jobs I think are interesting and worthwhile enough to consider making a change. This is the only posting I’ve applied to recently.”
      “Actually, yes, I’ve got several applications out right now. I was on an interview for a small biotech startup last week, but they haven’t given me an offer yet.”
      It’s definitely not necessary to name-drop companies you’ve applied to, or talk about the types of positions. But if there’s anything that affects your timeline urgency, that’s important. And if there are two major concepts you’re choosing between (say, taking a job or going back to school) that’s relevant. There are good reasons to be doing a large job search or a small one, and it gives the interviewer context if they know which it is for you right now.

      Pretty much any “bad answer” I can think of would be conveying that this job opportunity is not that important to you, or otherwise implying a lack of interest.

    12. Najek*

      I have an MPH and work in research (Clinical Research/Clinical Trials), and am a hiring manager. Here are my thoughts on your questions, which echoes what others have already said.

      1. Having an overqualified or bored employee is a real concern for hiring managers because they are afraid you’ll leave or be unhappy in the role after a short period of time. If you don’t think you’ll be bored or leave – or you think the work is interesting on its own – you need to tell them why you interested in this role and why this is the right fit for you.

      2. I’d add all your work onto your resume assuming it can be remotely related to building skills in research roles. So maybe not part time hot air balloon filler, but definitely a pharmacy job (I was a pharmacy clerk for 2 years before moving into a research assistant role, and have hired numerous people from pharmacy clerk/tech roles) and just about any other role can show dedication, hard work, team building, etc. that are useful skills in any environment. I wouldn’t worry about seeming like you “don’t need a job,” that’s not something that hiring managers (generally) worry about.

      3. I wouldn’t normally ask this of someone, since I assume if they are applying to my jobs they are applying to a bunch of jobs. But I’m guessing they are trying to determine if you are only applying to research jobs or if you are applying to a variety of unrelated roles? i.e. how dedicated are you to research, what makes you interested in this particular field, how much do you know about this job environment, etc.

      4. Two weeks really is nothing, especially in large companies (and even in some smaller ones). I probably wouldn’t contact them. I am annoyed if a candidate that I haven’t yet contacted reaches out to me outside of the official hiring pathway – I’ll get to you when I get to you. I’m very busy and if all 100 candidates that applied to my last clinical research coordinator hiring round (true number of applicants, and that was pre-covid!) contacted me, I’d never get anything done.

      5. I wouldn’t take a job 1.5 hours away unless you really plan to move closer. That’s a pretty terrible commute, especially if you already don’t like driving. It might be worth asking about locations in an initial phone call – and if you have free time maybe doing the interview in order to gain experience interviewing, since it sounds like you are early in your career – but I would be prepared for a lot of questions about how you would handle the commute.

      If you are interested in the clinical research side of things – as opposed to the quantitative/qualitative side – check out the websites of the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) if you haven’t already. They are very useful resources in the field.

      Hopefully that helps!

    13. ClinicalResearchStaffer*

      Also in clinical research, and like the LW, I took a role for which I was overqualified in order to enter the industry.

      1. I have to echo the concerns of those that have commented already regarding a hiring manager’s concern that you wouldn’t stay in the position long. If the organization you’re targeting is academic in nature, there is already a high level of turnover due to educational trainees inherently being “transient” in nature, expiration of funding sources, etc. Staff positions are often intended to provide some continuity. That said, they are WELL aware that people take these jobs just to get a foot in the door with the organization/industry. I think this is an opportunity to discuss a connection with the organization’s mission, or your understanding of the motivation/rationale behind the research if you have any information about the specific work you’d be a part of.

      3. This is similar to number one; they know that applicants are often just trying to get a foot in the door and are likely applying to multiple positions that are similar within either the same organization or adjacent organizations. Emphasize a connection to the mission/motivation/rationale using as much information as you can glean about the particular position. Again, if academic, find out who the investigators are and look up their publications.

    14. miro*

      For #5: I used to have a 1.5h train commute and it was absolutely brutal. It’s the sort of thing I didn’t properly consider when I took the internship because I was wrapped up in the excitement of the position and spent months regretting it. Fortunately, it was only a few months long internship, but it really impressed upon me the importance of taking commute time/quality into account when deciding on a job (when possible; I know sometimes ya just need a job and don’t have that luxury). This is all to say that *especially* if you have driving anxiety and would be driving, I’d strongly warn against committing to a commute like that. If there’s a possibility for remote work/only going in the office occasionally, that might be worth it, so depending quite how interested you are in the job that could be something to ask about.

  5. lapgiraffe*

    TL;DR how to handle a job offer via videoconference that you are not jazzed about and 95% inclined to turn down.

    I wrote in a few weeks ago about what I was finding to be a frustrating and chaotic interview process, but definitely appreciated the people who weighed in and said to have patience, things are weird right now, it’s not a bunch of red flags. So I kept on with the process and think an offer is coming today (via videoconference eeek).

    Long story short, it’s been a rather formulaic, impersonal, detached interview process, the kind where you walk away kinda dazed “I’m not even sure what that was” cause it’s so opposite from the good conversation type of interview. I haven’t gotten to know much about the role, partly because of this style and partly because, as a startup a few years in, it seems they are still working out a lot of details. In my last interview, with who would be my boss and grand boss, I had ample opportunity to ask questions (finally!) but not a joke every answer was “we don’t know yet…”

    To top of off I have absolutely no idea what it pays, what it offers, despite asking. They asked for two references, I pushed back that I’d like to know salary range before bothering them, they pushed back saying it’s “just an email questionnaire so shouldn’t be a big bother” and “pay is within the range you mentioned early on,” so I sent them two people and rolled my eyes.

    So here I am, doing a video call about a job I know little about, and frankly at this point I don’t want, and worried about how to respond if/when they offer. Not like in a larger sense, I’m ready to respond to whatever they offer, but more the immediate reaction. Do I say “thanks!” Or “good news!” Or what? Should I have just said no at the reference point if I already knew I wasn’t feeling this?

    And just to add what I have learned about the role differs significantly from what I thought it was from the posting, closer to entry level and very basic, essentially not what I want. I can’t even imagine the role would garner the pay I am looking for, plus I’m really not into the startup chaos, learning I’m more traditional than I ever thought in this job hunt…

    1. Picard*

      Get the offer in hand and then go from there. Anything else is, as my grandma used to say, “borrowing trouble”

    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      You’ll need to make an informed decision, so they need to provide more details along with the offer. Get it in writing and let them know you will think about it.

      But I suspect you will decide to pass. They sound like they will need a lot of hand-holding.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      If you’re sure you absolutely wouldn’t take this job because it’s entry level and most likely won’t pay enough for you, you could always just send them a polite email today thanking them for their time, but removing yourself from consideration. Then you won’t have to worry about having to videoconference and reject their offer at the same time. But if you’re still slightly on the fence and think it’s possible that you would be interested in this job, then take the call if they extend it and ask more probing questions (especially about the salary) before you make a decision. And yes – get everything in writing before you make said decision.

    4. Cabin in the Woods*

      If you are coming to the conclusion that you would 100% not want to consider the job, then I would beat them to the punch and send them an email withdrawing myself from consideration.

    5. BRR*

      If they do offer on the video, which would be unusual but it sounds like it would be in character for this company, I would reply like I would if I got an offer on the phone. I express excitement (I go with that’s wonderful/that’s so exciting/that’s great to hear etc), listen to the offer, ask any questions, negotiate if you want to at that time but it can definitely be done later, ask to see it in writing and think it over.

      You should have only said no at the reference point if you’re 100% not feeling it. If you’re only 95% not feeling it I usually think you should hear them out if you want.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I’m going to report back if they actually ask over video, I can’t imagine they want a “quick video call” to turn me down or probe further at this point, but I’m almost hoping that’s the case since it would make for a better story haha.

        I didn’t bring up again that in the initial stages o had to do an extensive case study for them, so extensive that if the numbers were so obviously false I would have said “no I’m not doing free work for you.” But I went from thinking it’s a mid-level position from the job posting, to then thinking it’s beyond my qualifications with the case study, to entry-level/requires a year or two experience now that I’ve talked to them a few times. I think I’m mostly curious what the pay will be to try and make sense of this rollercoaster.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        Well it was an offer on video, which was way less awkward than I expected. And it was easier than expected to jump into my performative self, so no awkward faces or weird responses from me. BUT he did begin with a rather somber “thank you for going through this process” and I thought omg, this might be a video rejection after all!

        Pay was low, lower than I even expected, so it ended up being very easy to decline on the spot. I’m kinda amazed at the three ring circus of an interview process I went through only to find out it was a slightly higher than average entry level gig. I would have been thrilled with this job in the first year or two out of college, but I don’t think I could have even passed their second stage much less make it to the finish line. I might end up reviewing them on Glassdoor, we’ll see…

    6. WFH with CAT*

      As Alison might say, “Oooph!”

      Yeah, that’s kinda red-flaggy, and you may need to just pass. As others have recommended, insist on an offer in writing — and you might want to specify what details the offer needs to include since they seem to be so very, very unconcerned about details.

      I’d be very curious if your references were contacted, and if they can provide any feedback/impressions of the company.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        They only asked for and contacted 2 people and it was a simple form, both were able to fill out in less than half an hour and email it back, no phone screen. It fits with their whole process, they have their stock questions at each stage and they stick to them. It’s funny, I’m not impressed with this kind of reference checking, but it is because it was so noninvasive that I moved forward with it. If they had insisted on calls I would have insisted on pay info. Luckily both of those references are kind and in my corner and happy to jump in as much as needed.

        1. WFH with CAT*

          Interesting. About the best I can say for their process is that it’s certainly standardized …. Is that damning with faint praise?

          Glad to hear your references are so helpful and supportive.

    7. Emilitron*

      Hmm… I’d go the “pleased and flattered” route, not the “happy/excited” response. So not “wow, that’s good news!!” Maybe “thank you so much! I’m really pleased to hear that!” At this point you can even say – “I know your interview formats have been very standardized so far, does this mean we can move to a more organic question and answer session? I was wondering about… (salary, other stuff you didn’t get answers on, etc)”

  6. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’m struggling with a new job I have and I’m not sure if it’s because I have a newborn, that I m not used to working remotely or it’s a normal learning curve for a new job. Tbh I’d love to just be on maternity leave but we really need the money and I can’t not have work to do.   

    I’m working independently for a small firm that is 100% remote right now. I was approached for it back in June by a recruiter. The partner and owner were a little intimidating on the interviews but they liked me and wanted to hire me. At the time I had told the recruiter I was going to have surgery in August and lots of doctor appts in July leading up to the surgery and would be available full time in September. They came back with an offer for wanting me on as an independent contractor for July and then convert me to employee after a few weeks. Well I had the baby in July, and after 2 weeks I started the IC work. 

    The biggest (and cutest imo) elephant in the room is the baby. Both hubby and I are trying to get in to the routine of taking care of her and working. My husband works throughout the night and keeps the baby with him but some nights she gets super fussy and won’t go down to sleep easily so that cuts in to his work time. Daytime is for errands and appointments (either baby’s or my own so I can go and he’ll be home) and he catches a few hours of sleep. I “sleep” at night and daytime is for work and taking care of baby and other stuff. I have a hard time getting 4-6 hour stretch of work. It’s hard. I would LOVE to hire someone to come to our house for 4-6 hours a day and watch her but can’t. 

    The second thing is that I’m working remotely and Im not sure I like it very much. At my most recent job, I was remote for about a week before being let go and I liked it but I think it’s because I was already familiar with the system and the work and I had people to chat with, meetings etc. Right now I’ve set up downstairs so just have one laptop screen, and log in to a painfully slow remote desktop system. There’s no one to chat with or talk to. My hours are erratic. 20 minutes here and there on the clock, at hte most 1 hour max. Unfortunately I can’t fit non remote work into my life at this point.

    Finally….I am just not a fast learner. I am very slow and it takes me forever to catch on and learn things. Everything is brand new—the systems, the way they want their work papers, the software, billing system, database etc. They’re not complicated or difficult….it just takes me a while. I report to the managing partner directly. There was no onboarding call, just a few emails, and a 2 hour video tutorial that I’ve watched half a dozen times. (At my last company we had a 4-day long orientation for remote workers and assigned them work after that period). I did get the partner on the phone eventually and they said they prefer I reach out and communicate rather than wait for them to reach out so I’ll end up sending 3-4 emails a day with questions…but then she seems a little impatient in her responses.

    I’ve made embarrassing mistakes. I mentioned something and immediately I realized I was wrong and shouldn’t have asked. The worst thing is that I made mistakes on returns that are….legit rookie mistakes. These are exact things that *I* would have pointed out to someone working for me. I didn’t even know how they happened or how to respond to them. If I had a new person make those mistakes I’d probably second guess wanting to keep
    them on.

    So, it’s only been two weeks. B/c of those mistakes i may not stay on longer, but for future reference I guess….Im not sure I’d struggle as much I’d this was in person (in fact i did have a job offer from another firm but it’s not remote)? Is this a normal steep learning curve for a new job or a combination of baby + COVID etc?

    1. Picard*

      Hello you had a baby in JULY. That alone is cause for newborn brain.

      You know you’re a slower learner so you’ll have to work with that. Maybe keep reviewing the training video. Maybe it means you put the work down when done and check it the next hour (or the next day if you can wait that long) Let the partner tell you if you’re screwing up drastically. They have to understand that remote onboarding is tricky in the best of situations…

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        She did mention in the beginning that remote onboarding is tricky so communication is important. I’m of the opinion that overcommunication is preferable over under communicating.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Adding to this, lots and lots and lots of notes, as well-organized as you can get it.

        My sister and brother-in-law just had their second kid a few months ago, and a month later my brother-in-law commented that he was discovering entire email conversations he’d had but then forgotten out because of baby brain! If you’re diligent about recording what you’re working on, what steps you took, etc. it could help a lot because you’ll be able to return to it later and see exactly what happened even if you don’t directly remember it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think you will work into it, just hang in there. Everything is new right now, give yourself a chance to acclimated.

      One thing that struck me, would it be worthwhile to upgrade your internet speed? I have the middle range here and it’s okay for the way I use it. There is a higher speed I could opt for if I wanted. I know others here will have thoughts on this angle.
      My thought is give yourself a fighting chance here. Get the tools you need to do the job, don’t skimp.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        My internet speed is good I think, my husband also works from home in IT so we have to have strong internet speed. It’s just logging in to the RDS that’s such a pain. We bought an extender to boost the internet and it seems to be working fine.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        It doesn’t sound like her internet is the problem, but rather her company’s remote VPN.

    3. blackcat*

      So when I was pregnant, a mentor of mine told her that pregnancy/having a child made her brain less functional for two years.

      TWO YEARS??!?!?! I thought. TWO YEARS?!?!?!

      Um, yeah. A lot of pregnancy and then until my kid slept through the night consistently (which was 18mo old), I just…. wasn’t fully myself. I had a particularly difficult pregnancy, and I think I had a particularly bad sleeper for a kid. But yeah, two years of not functioning as well was pretty spot on. For my husband, it was a shorter time, but from the birth of the baby until the kiddo was maybe 1ish (and slept *better* though still not well), he did not function as well at work either.

      Sleep deprivation does a serious number on your brain. That’s just a biological fact. It makes it harder to learn things, harder to pay attention to details, etc. Your brain is also taking up a HUGE amount of what power it has right now to *learn how to take care of the baby.* You just don’t have as many mental resources right now. It’ll incrementally improve as your kid gets older, but you should totally expect to struggle in this way for at least a few months.

      You *just* had a baby. You don’t say when in July, but your kid is <6 weeks old! I did work with a tiny baby (for reasons outside of my control, mostly, academia is awful that way), but I 100% expected people around me to clean up details for me, and they totally did it *because they knew I had a newborn.* I don't think anyone trusted me with proof reading until my kid was at least 3 months old, and that was totally justified.

      It's a big deal that you didn't tell people that you were having a baby. I don't exactly know what advice to give you now, but I'm willing to bet that if you work with normal humans, they would be horrified you're in this position and would have asked you to push back your start date until mid-August at the earliest.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        July 11th so just shy of one month. I’m lucky in that I healed physically fairly quicker than I expected but mentally….yeah. The reason I didn’t disclose now is that my pregnancy was a factor in my losing my job in March. I know it’s 2020 and it shouldn’t be like this….but to me all it means is that companies find slicker ways to get around discriminating. I’ve only said to them that I have a baby and I had surgery last month and I have doctor appointments (all true). Maybe that was a mistake and I should have been up front.

        1. blackcat*

          So I was talking to a friend about this, and they had a woman in their department do this! I’m in a very male-dominated field, and apparently her grad school advisor told her to hide her pregnancy and then newborn from her new department.
          So she was brand new tenure track faculty, in a male-dominated STEM field, starting work with a 3 week old baby. It slowly came out and by October (she started in late August), folks realized the deal.
          They didn’t feel good about the deception. They understood *why* she had been given that advice, but it was bad, bad advice! There were all sorts of supports/benefits she wasn’t accessing because she didn’t tell anyone about the baby. Friend says he also felt a bit hurt, because she came in with the assumption that her new colleagues would view her differently b/c she had a baby.
          It wouldn’t have been “a thing” if she hadn’t hid it, and the entire situation is still a bit awkward, 3 years later.

          I honestly don’t know what to tell you to do. If finding some type of external help is an option, I’d recommend that.

          And just…. as a warning, I actually found that working from home with a baby got *harder* as my kid got older. It took us a while to get a daycare slot and we couldn’t afford a full time nanny, so we were working FT with ~25 hrs of childcare/week when my kid was 3-6mo. When he was in the needy potato phase, he did not care if I plopped him in a bouncer and ignored him for an hour. When he was 4 months, he would SCREECH if he didn’t have my full attention. By 6mo, he was mobile and chewing on anything in his path. So while I’d like to tell you this will get better, it might not.

          1. Student*

            Colleague in a STEM, heavily male-dominated field was flat out told by a hiring manager that he would fire women who had babies while working for him, specifically asked her to commit to not having a baby while working for him, and approached any woman hire with skepticism because they might have a baby.

            So there is a VERY good reason women sometimes hide pregnancies from their colleagues.

            You and your employer might not engage in illegal pregnancy discrimination. But plenty of others do.

            Consider – the downside to hiding a pregnancy is that co-workers get a bit miffed and you miss out on some fringe benefits that are usually mediocre. The downside to revealing a pregnancy is that you risk getting fired, risk losing medical coverage at a time you really need it most, risk losing ground in getting pay raises and promotions.

            1. Natalie*

              Do you actually know anybody that’s hidden their pregnancy all the way past the birth, or are you just coming up with an extreme edge case to argue a hypothetical. Pregnancy and having a child usually become pretty obvious after a while, one way or another.
              Not verbally disclosing isn’t a magic spell that prevents someone from discriminating based on information they get from their benefits admin or even their own eyeballs.

            2. Potatoes gonna potate*

              I lost my job in March, I was told it was because of COVID. I know the company didn’t want to pay out the maternity leave or any other benefits. So…yes exactly you’re right.

          2. Koala dreams*

            It sounds like that workplace didn’t do a very good job informing new employees about the benefits. The employeer should inform new employees, even if they don’t seem to have a baby, and employees shouldn’t find out through the grapevine. I would expect a male dominated field to need to do more than a female dominated field to show themselves parent friendly, since so many sexist people assume babies are just something that concern women.

    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I will tell you what I learned when I had a newborn: the most difficult part is not getting REM sleep. I would sleep when baby slept, but it was in small bursts. My husband and I had to trade off feed times to allow for at least one burst of REM. He would get home from work at 5:30pm, I would nurse the baby and pass him off before going to sleep. Hubby would handle all feeds from frozen milk until midnight. After midnight, I would get up with the baby to allow my hubby to sleep until 6am. That gave both of us a solid 6 hours of sleep undisturbed and made it possible for us both to concentrate during the day.

      Obviously, my schedule wouldn’t work for you. But try to find a way to balance it. Look at you and your husband’s routines and schedules and come up with some way of giving you both time to sleep. Once you get that good sleep, the brain fog and mommy brain will start to break down and you will be able to work more efficiently. You will feel better.

        1. Annon for this*

          This may not work for you, but for me (I had 3 kids in 5 years) my best strategy was to sleep with the baby. I nursed and slept, when the baby woke, we rolled over to the other “side” and I would immediately go back to sleep. My husband left the bed for 9 months and 6 months respectively on the second two children. That is because the first child I kept in the crib and would have to get up multiple times to feed and change. After about 2 months I started sleeping on the couch with the baby because the continuous lack of sleep left me non-functioning and I had to get back to work at 10 weeks. I had to figure out a way to get some sleep so I could work. By kids 2 and 3 I realized that I truly needed my sleep and thankfully my spouse did too.

          Now, the academy of pediatrics would not be happy with that situation and I am not pushing it as advice. It is just what I did. I can tell you that there can be absolutely no drinking or anythign else – none.

          Best of luck – a new job and a new baby is very hard. Give yourself a break and go take a nap.

          1. Natalie*

            If you’re going to try bedsharing I’d also spend some time reading James McKenna’s site (sleep researcher @ Notre Dame that focuses specifically on bedsharing). I know a couple of people like you, Annon, that had to chose between the risk of extended sleep deprivation and the risk of bedsharing and that is the resource they recommended.

            1. Annon for this*

              Thank you Natalie for providing a valid resource for Potatoes.
              I truly struggled with even commenting. But I really want to give her some small measure of support. Potatoes is very difficult situation and I really want to send a lot of empathy to her.

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                Thank you that’s really kind of you.

                So the way I’m set up is that I’m sleeping downstairs in the living room where my mom sleeps. There’s a queen bed in the living room and I sleep on there. The baby sleeps in a bassinet next to my bed. I’m not breastfeeding, formula only, so I think that’s supposed to make things easier. My husband will come downstairs at night and feed and change her while i sleep. so we’re all in one room.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  Okay, I’m just throwing this out there as a parent with kids who did.not.sleep. There’s no way you are sleeping soundly through a baby waking, being fed and changed, etc. Even if you’re so exhausted you’re passed out and don’t remember, that’s going to disturb your sleep cycle.

                  If you are going with the idea that the person who’s on “awake” shift is doing baby care, is there any way to put the baby’s bassinet in the “awake/working” room, and have the adult sleeping room be separate?

                  Your space sounds really limited, and since you’re sleeping in shifts anyhow, it might be more helpful to divide the rooms by function instead of by person.

          2. Ann Perkins*

            I co-sign to this being the easiest way to get sleep with a baby particularly if you’re breastfeeding. We used a snuggle nest bassinet that sat on top of the bed for the first few months and I had diapers and wipes on the nightstand so that I wouldn’t even get out of bed for middle of the night feeds. Around 4 months the baby would just sleep next to me and we all got a lot more sleep that way. I really fought against that with my first, but my husband deployed and the baby started waking up every 30 minutes… I legitimately thought I was going to fall asleep at the wheel while driving several times and was completely nonfunctional at work so I had to do something.

          3. Picard*

            I totally co slept. I would have been a complete basket case if I had not. There are ways to do it more safely than not. If this is something you would consider, I would consider it STRONGLY.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think it is a combination of steep learning curve for new job + steep learning curve for new baby + sleep deprivation.
      And possibly also impacted by the remote working being unfamiliar and perhaps to your learning style meaning that it is harder to learn new things when you are remote, so some options, such as watching others or going over things with someone in real time are not possible (or much harder)

    6. Anon for this*

      I’m confused by your childcare setup. So your husband is working nights (I assume remotely) and taking the nighttime baby wake ups and you are working daytime and taking care of the daytime baby tasks? That seems unworkable and impossible. It’s also unfair to your employer who doesn’t know you have a baby. This is an unsustainable plan; you need someone else to watch the baby while you and your husband works. Remote work is not a childcare substitute and unfortunately you’re seeing why. It only gets harder when the baby sleeps less and needs more attention and interaction through the day.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        He works and watches the baby at night.

        During the day, I work and do the baby tasks. He’s getting less sleep than I am because daytime is also for running errands and appts.

        Remote work is not a childcare substitute and unfortunately you’re seeing why.

        I’ve read that frequently here and I completely understand why. It would never have been my first choice BUT due to COVID, we can’t have childcare. No one coming in and no one going out. I’ve been reading about how hard parents are having it with kids and no school/childcare. In an ideal situation, I’d either be not working or if I was working, I’d have found childcare.

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          This is also why your employer needs to know about the fact that you’re watching a newborn during your working hours.

          I have a 2 year old who was home while I was remote for a few months in the beginning and is now home again because daycare closed. My employer knows and because of that they are able to offer more flexibility and understanding.

          1. blackcat*

            Newborn is a lot easier than a 2yo.
            I actually found working with my kid when he was 3-4 weeks pretty easy. I wore him in the carrier and he just slept while I worked. I could nurse hands free with the carrier, too.
            Working from home with a 2yo was…. bad. Impossible, even. We eventually hired a sitter (not ideal, but times are what times are).

            1. VelociraptorAttack*

              Oh, I frequently wish he was little again so he would just sleep most of the day instead of running around and throwing a football at me. Although to be fair, when he was a wee guy he had terrible acid reflux so if he was awake he was probably about 5 minutes from puking on me at all times…

              I just think that even though newborns are a lot easier to work with, in the event that something happens (granted – mine had a pretty tricky birth so after spending some time in the NICU, he ended up admitted to the hospital again when he was about a month and a half which does color my viewpoint) it would be good for your employer to already be aware of said baby and might be more willing to work with things than hearing oh yeah so I have a one month old and that was the surgery I referred to…. I tend to err on the side of caution.

        2. Natalie*

          The problem here is that you have a number of sub-optimal choices. I don’t think the answer that solves all of these problems to a reasonable degree exists. Which means either securing some kind of childcare, or not working for a while, or rolling the dice with diminished work quality. I know that this situation really sucks and isn’t what you want to hear, but I do think it’s the reality you’re dealing with right now. Basically, you have to decide which risk you want to live with. Nobody can really make that decision for you guys, it’s something you and your husband have to talk about.

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I have an idea you are in the UK (do shout if this is wrong) where paid childcare options are beginning to open up. Even if you don’t expect to use anything immediately, you do need to get your foot in the door.

          I was hired whilst pg with my youngest, and took only a short hiatus, working from home around baby. It Was Awful, and increased in awfulness. Baby started at day nursery around 7 months in.

    7. Altair*

      I have no advice but all the sympathy. I send you all energy and the baby all ability to nurse so she can fill her tummy and sleep longer.

      And hey, congratulations on having the baby!

    8. Martine*

      Why would you not tell them you just had a baby? If I hired someone and they hid the fact they’d just had a baby I would feel deceived and would have second thoughts about hiring them. I don’t understand why you would potentially make things more difficult for yourself.

      1. PollyQ*

        People have a right to keep their personal lives entirely separate from their work lives if they so choose. They don’t owe their employers any amount of transparency about them at all.

        1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

          Sure, you can keep absolutely everything about your personal lives from your employer…but then you’d have to accept that it’s REALLY against the norm to keep basic information like “I have a baby” completely secret. You don’t have to like your coworkers or be best friends with them or tell them your deepest darkest secrets (and I wouldn’t do that either), but they’re likely going to feel odd working with you if you completely shut down when they ask you about your weekend plans or family.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I mentioned offhand I had a baby in a casual way (like “oh sorry I was up all night with the baby!”)…. I didn’t say “I just gave birth a few weeks ago and I am struggling to manage.” Not sure how to even convey the latter professionally. Wasn’t intending to be cagey or deceitful

            1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

              I never said you were- was just replying to PollyQ’s comment that people can “keep their personal lives entirely separate from work.” I’ve worked in many different work cultures and all of them would have found it a little odd, that’s all.

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                @ Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong

                I do agree with you — while I try to be conscious of what I share I do enjoy talking to my coworkers and sharing things.

                So being quiet about this huge thing in my life is out of character for me. In a new situation I might answer when asked but not volunteer until I’d been there for a while.

        2. ...*

          if you have a baby at home with no childcare and are caring for it while work…. you should tell your employer that. I get why she isn’t because desperate times and desperate measures at all that, but you actually are suppose to tell your employer that you’re full time watching your kid during work.

        3. RagingADHD*

          It’s not about rights. It’s about making your life harder than it needs to be. There are a lot of areas where standing on principle for no good reason is counterproductive.

          The IRS has no “right” to my bank account or routing number. But it’s a whole lot quicker to get my refund and stimulus by direct deposit.

          I have the “right” to go where I like, when I like, without telling my spouse or getting permission. But it sure wouldn’t be good for our relationship if he never knew when or if I’d be home.

          By treating the baby’s birth and her situation as a secret, OP has created an untenable situation with expectations she is now struggling to meet. If she’d been more straightforward about a perfectly normal situation that is neither shameful nor unprofessional, then either

          a) she might have had a more flexible situation, like the company bringing her on PT, or offering resources she’s not aware of. Or

          b) if the company would discriminate or be awful about it, she could have screened them out and kept looking for a better fit.

          OP has been talking for weeks about shopping for a house. She may need to work to meet their (ambitious) financial plans, but they aren’t destitute. She did not have to grab the first job, any job.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            OP has been talking for weeks about shopping for a house. She may need to work to meet their (ambitious) financial plans, but they aren’t destitute. She did not have to grab the first job, any job.

            Ok I don’t think it’s really fair to bring up something I mentioned once in a weekend open thread last week. I mentioned starting a search back in June but last weekend was the actual only time we’ve gone to see something and I’ve hardly been talking about it for weeks. A lot happened this week which is frankly irrelevant to all of this.

            I never said I was destitute but my plan always was to go back to work right after having the baby and getting laid off accelerated that plan. I had actually looked into the company, and felt good during the interviews. Low turnover, family/work life friendly. So, in hindsight it was a bad move on my part to keep pregnancy quiet, but after what I went through with my last company, I wasn’t comfortable disclosing anything personal.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        @Martine

        I’ll copy paste this posted by Student in case you didn’t read it:

        Colleague in a STEM, heavily male-dominated field was flat out told by a hiring manager that he would fire women who had babies while working for him, specifically asked her to commit to not having a baby while working for him, and approached any woman hire with skepticism because they might have a baby.

        So there is a VERY good reason women sometimes hide pregnancies from their colleagues.

        You and your employer might not engage in illegal pregnancy discrimination. But plenty of others do.

        Consider – the downside to hiding a pregnancy is that co-workers get a bit miffed and you miss out on some fringe benefits that are usually mediocre. The downside to revealing a pregnancy is that you risk getting fired, risk losing medical coverage at a time you really need it most, risk losing ground in getting pay raises and promotions.

        This is exactly why they’d hide it because people like you will probably fire them for having a child.

        Like I said, it’s 2020 and this shouldnt’ happen but all that means is that employers are way more slick in hiding their discrimination. We’ve read a crap ton of posts about pregnancy discrimination on this site, as recently as this week. So…..excuse me if trying to avoid being discriminated is being “cagey” and deceitful.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’m not trying to give you a hard time, but I think you’re getting defensive about this in a way that is not going to serve your ultimate interests, which is getting work that works for you so you aren’t stressed out and struggling. Right?

          You didn’t risk getting fired or losing benefits. You weren’t going to miss out on raises or promotions. You were job – hunting, and you are in a position where it’s not life-or-death if the first company you interview with turns out to be a no-go.

          And right now, youre a contractor.

          Disclosing your situation while hunting or at this point can protect you against discrimination, by ruling out discriminatory employers before you’re dependent on them.

    9. Nita*

      This all sounds normal for your situation, and also very hard. I tried this with my first kid, who was a very easy baby. I lasted four months, and was beyond burned out by the end. My mental health was in the gutter. I was also not well physically, but didn’t realize it between the sleep deprivation, and thinking that it’s normal for new moms to feel like garbage. So having tried it, my two cents is – avoid working from home with a baby if at all possible, get help, don’t wait till you’re over your head. But also – help can be something very small. Like, do you have the option of asking a trusted neighbor to take baby out in the stroller for an hour or two? Or can you give up cooking and buy prepared foods? In your case, time is money and you’ll probably come out ahead, depending on what you get paid per hour.

      1. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

        Since your husband’s been at his job longer, can he take any leave from work? Even a few weeks so that he can be more of the primary during the day and you can adjust to your job more. I’ve taken 12 weeks of leave with both of my kids and is was still a major adjustment returning to work and that was pre-covid. The first couple months are the most difficult with sleeping and eating.

        More immediate, try wearing the baby while you work if they’re big enough for a carrier.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Unfortunately he’s self employed so he has no benefits. He was able to take 7 days off when I was in the hospital and he stayed with us.

    10. Ann Perkins*

      This honestly sounds like more baby + covid situation affecting you. You’re only 1 month postpartum! New parent brain fog is completely a thing and the sleep deprivation on top of that just makes it all worse. You said surgery – did you mean that as a euphemism for childbirth or did you actually have a c-section? Because c-section recoveries are rough and I hope you’re giving yourself some grace here.

      A few practical tips that helped me after my first (I went back to work at 8 weeks postpartum and then spouse deployed a couple months later as well):
      -Online delivery! You should not need to run very many errands. Target and amazon both have quick delivery.
      -Outsource what most makes sense. Whether it’s lawn care, housecleaning, a mother’s helper to take the baby for a walk while you take a meeting… if you can afford it, don’t be ashamed to outsource.
      -Write everything down and work carefully. Take lots of notes during training and meetings.
      -Baby wear. Get a comfortable carrier and use it if baby doesn’t want to be put down, or to take a walk and get fresh air.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Ann, you poetic, noble land mermaid!

        Your advice is spot-on, in my experience (though I acknowledge that no 2 babies are the same, even within the same family. What worked for my older one definitely didn’t work for my younger).

        I also suggest seeing if you can get a swing, maybe on a neighborhood giveaway site or for cheap. My younger son didn’t like it, but the older one loved it and it would buy us about 40-50 minutes of time where he was engaged. Basically, that’s what I found, that I needed several tools in rotation that would each get me about 45 minutes. The younger one wanted to be worn all the time, and also had a Fisher Price chair that converted to a rocking chair and had a setting to make it vibrate.

        Basically, you may have to play around with different things, which is why I suggest finding a Facebook group where people may be giving things away or selling for a low price. If something doesn’t work and it’s taking up a lot of space, you can re-list it and some other desperate parents can try it. (I really suggest giving things away or keeping the cost very low. It’s the nicer thing to do).

        This all is mostly in the service of getting a break for sanity and a mind rest; it’s not likely to revolutionize the work situation for you.

        I wish you and your family well, Potatoes. Parenting has been wonderful for me, but very challenging in the beginning, especially with work (and my maternity leaves were more like 8 weeks. I was not functional 4 weeks postpartum!)

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I had a C-section. Recovery has been decent I think–I don’t have prior experience to go by lol. These are all great suggestions, thank you!

      3. allathian*

        Going without sleep for a day or so means you’re literally trying to work in an impaired condition, like you’re drunk. Now, imagine poor sleep for months rather than days, and you’re good if you just get through the days somehow rather than trying to do something that requires any sort of brainpower at all.

    11. kz*

      Like lots of people have said, give yourself some grace considering you just had a baby! My baby is about the same age as yours (6 weeks on monday) and I cant imagine trying to work right now! I think I’m just figuring out how to keep him alive.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Congrats on your baby, too! My older one was born on a Tuesday and I remember saying something similar every Tuesday for a couple of months: we kept him alive for another week!

    12. RagingADHD*

      My kids are tweens, they can dress, feed, and bathe themselves.

      It’s still tough to get a full day’s remote work in, because they are here and have, you know, human needs of existence and interaction!

      I’m a freelancer, and I’d say that leaning in to your status as a contractor is probably your best bet. I would be more clear, not less clear, about managing the client’s expectations. The key to happy clients isn’t saying “yes” to everything they want. It’s setting the correct expectations and then exceeding them.

      I know you are looking to go FT with this company, but if you’re stuck in this situation for the time being, contracting (maybe through an agency) could be a good way forward.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I didn’t even think of that. Maybe I’m being a bit close minded, as I really dislike being a contractor and prefer being W2. But that’s a good idea to lean in to it.

  7. anonforthis*

    I just want to whine about the job market or commiserate with other job hunters. I feel guilty for even looking when my company has been great with telework and is secure enough to keep up my pay, but my boss’s micromanaging and insistence on forcing me to go about my work in an incredibly formulaic manner faster than I could hope to follow the formulas is driving me to anxiety attacks once a week.

    I need out, but my field in general has been badly hit by covid19. Meanwhile, nothing else I qualify for would pay me enough to continue living on my own.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I feel guilty for even looking when my company has been great with telework and is secure enough to keep up my pay,

      Don’t feel guilty, because…

      my boss’s micromanaging and insistence on forcing me to go about my work in an incredibly formulaic manner

      See? Nothing to feel guilty about. I have a great boss now, but I’ve had that micromanaging boss before. You are absolutely 100% justified in looking for a job. Don’t feel guilty.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        YES, this exactly. I had this conversation with someone last week. She has a friend whose job was truly damaging and horrible, and she was all, “Well, I guess mine isn’t so bad…” and I reminded her that just because you’re happy to be working doesn’t mean you have to take some of the crap you take.

        I am in a similar position. I have a job, even with a pay cut. But that does not make it ok that I am treated in certain ways and it does not mean that I have to stop looking just because someone else might be laid off. Sure, I hope my laid off friends and colleagues find jobs quickly, and there have been opportunities that I have brought to their attention that I might have been interested in, but it doesn’t mean I have to shut up and take it just because they can pay me.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This. So many people have the attitude that just because someone else may have it worse than us that we shouldn’t complain, even when our complaints are valid, and that’s so damaging. You have a right to not want to be miserable at work.

    2. HatBeing*

      I feel you so hard! My partner just got laid off and is having surgery in 6 weeks, so I’ve put my job search on hold until next year.

    3. Sunflower*

      I really sympathize with you. My company has been great with remote working and making sure all of us will keep our jobs but…I’m just not happy. I just can’t get behind my company’s mission and don’t feel value in the work I do which makes me put forth the minimum effort. I don’t feel guilty for looking because I think my leaving would be a win for both my company and myself. Similar to you, I have anxiety almost everyday around work and feeling clueless at how to succeed. What makes it worse is there isn’t anything my company can to do make me happy or better- I just know in my bones this isn’t a good fit.

      I am looking to change fields (go from events to sales) so it’s been very hard as I’m still trying to suss out what a good job in sales and obviously most event jobs have disappeared. Combine that with my company is stable so I have no idea how much to weigh happiness over stability in these times.

      Please don’t let the feelings of guilt get to you. I understand where they come from but your company will not hesitate to let you go if they need to. You also deserve something better than a place that causes your anxiety to spike on a regular basis.

      1. anonforthis*

        Oh, I don’t feel one whit of guilt toward my job! I feel guilty toward all of the people out there who are jobless or furloughed that I’m whining when I still have a well-payed job.

        But I guess if I leave, someone else who’s a better fit for this role will get the chance here. So I’ll look at it like that.

        Best of luck with your hunt!

    4. AndersonDarling*

      My company was laying people off and my job was “secure” but after a year being with them, I knew it wasn’t a good match. I actually found a great job within a week (!) and am incredibly happier doing work I enjoy. So don’t feel bad about finding your joy.

    5. AlsoAnon*

      I can definitely commiserate! I’m also in a job that is stable, committed to telework for as long as necessary, and has good pay. But also have a micromanaging boss and have been stuck on projects where I am not growing my skills and need to check in with my boss before making any progress, sending/receiving any emails, or basically even thinking!
      Under normal circumstances I would still feel guilty thinking about leaving a job, and now add on guilt caused by wanting something better when I have something decent and so many other people are struggling.

      I was planning on leaving this job around this time (pre covid) but now opportunities are fewer and farther between. That said, I’m currently in late stage interviews for a position that seems like it checks all my boxes, but would be a 15% pay cut and in a less essential industry. Plus my partner is in a shaky job spot right now with potential layoff looming. So I feel paralyzed thinking about what to do.

      Sorry I have absolutely nothing helpful to offer, but know you are not alone in this position.

      1. anonforthis*

        Ugh! The “even thinking” part gets me, because I feel the same way! My boss is doing this partly because she’s not happy with my work, and I know I’ll never be able to do things the way she wants. It’s just not in my nature to be this methodical when I don’t feel the situation warrants it, and I’m too frustrated by her ever-increasing demands for me to send her every step of my work to have the focus I’d need to force myself. Especially when she doesn’t like the way I think, either! I think what she really wants is a clone of herself.

        Best of luck to you!

    6. Alex*

      I can totally commiserate. I am SO DONE with my job, and at the same time, really grateful I have one. But also, can I quit please because I feel like my camel’s back broke five straws ago.

    7. Hawkeye is in the details*

      Look at it this way: the number of jobs available stays the same. You’re not taking away an opportunity from someone who needs it, the opportunity just shifted to an open spot at your current employer.

  8. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    I’m a social worker at a soup kitchen. No matter what crisis is happening internally or out in the world, we always find a way to stay open. This means I’ve worked through several extreme weather/natural disasters and have spent the last five months working in a pandemic. But this week was the first time I’ve ever had to work during a pandemic AND a tropical storm simultaneously.

    I need a raise, a monthlong vacation, and some very strong alcohol. Happy Friday, everyone!

    1. Capsicum*

      I am virtually sending you all of those things!!! I hope you get some time off this weekend! My work intersects with the emergency management/disaster field and I have all the respect in the world (and then some) for folks like you who are the largely unseen workers on the front lines of every crisis (including our generalized everyday crisis that is life in the U.S. in the 21st century). We see you! We love you! You are doing great!

    2. whistle*

      You rock! Have you ever had a Kentucky Fiesta? That’ s margarita in one hand and a bourbon in the other. I highly recommend it.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      Sending you a virtual Aperol Spritz (it’s not that strong, but it’s very festive, and you can have as many as you like).

    4. Lucette Kensack*

      Thank you for what you do! I am awed by the reserves of strength and empathy that folks like you have found and offered to the rest of us during this time.

    5. Lucy P*

      Happy Friday! I bring my coffee from home and wanted to add my special creamer today. Hubby, helpful man that he is, made my coffee for me before I could make any special requests. 4.5 more hours to go.

  9. Jazz*

    I’ve been unemployed for a few years. I just found out about a remote internship I’d love to apply for. Unfortunately, the deadline is this afternoon and they ask for a custom cover letter (they ask general questions you’re supposed to answer in the letter).

    After years of writing customer cover letters that led to compliments and phone screenings and interviews without ever getting a job, I really just have no spoons left for writing them. (The fact that this internship is a long shot isn’t exactly motivating either.) I have a generic cover letter I use, which works well because the jobs I apply to are pretty generic (and it’s good enough that I still get compliments on it).

    Would it be okay to tell the internship manager I can’t bring myself to write yet another custom cover letter, but am very interested in the internship for reasons x, y and z, and attach my generic cover letter? Or should I just not bother applying?

    1. CTT*

      If I were the hiring manager and saw that you didn’t write a custom cover letter as requested but did put all the stuff that would go into a custom cover letter in the email, I would be confused.

      1. Jazz*

        Well, the questions go beyond “why do you want to do this internship,” so I wouldn’t be writing a customer cover letter just by giving a quick note about my interest. It would be very short, like a few sentences.

    2. Picard*

      I would suck it up – get a spoon (eat ice cream, yell in your closet, do whatever you need to do) and write the damn cover letter. You CAN do this. You want this. Take your form letter, drop int he questions and answer them as briefly as possible.

      And if you really really just cant, then no, I would not write some excuse letter to the manager. Just ignore the instructions and send the cover letter would be better than trying to explain why you couldnt/wouldnt follow instructions…

      1. PollyQ*

        +1

        In addition to the ice cream & yelling, it might also be helpful to use Alison’s advice on thank you letters from the other day and set a very limited amount of time to spend on the letter — a maximum of 1 hour (or 1/2 hour, or even 15 minutes). Whatever you’ve got when that time’s up is what gets sent in.

    3. merope*

      1) If you have reasons that you are interested in the position, can those not go into the cover letter?

      1b) would it help to not think about the letter as a “letter” but instead frame it as the email that you are going to write, but are composing in a document because you don’t want to lose your excellent work?

      2) Will future you be more irritated that you took the time to write the letter, or that you didn’t even try? Because it kind of reads like you are looking for permission not to apply. If you want that, go ahead! You are a free person.

      1. Jazz*

        I would definitely apply if I could just use my generic letter, but I can’t bring myself to write a custom letter since I realize my chances are so slim (I regret all the custom cover letters I did put time into writing since the results are always not getting a job).

        1. D3*

          You want the internship, then bring yourself to write it. If you used HALF the energy you’re putting into explaining how you “can’t” write a cover letter into writing a cover letter, you would be done by now!

          1. Jazz*

            I just wrote a 1000 word e-mail to my best friend, which was quick and easy because I know there’s a positive outcome (they will write a nice e-mail back tomorrow and they love me :) ). But the cover letter has a ton of baggage about how I’m worthless and no one will ever want to hire me and this is pointless and oh-god-this-is-the-thousandth-cover-letter-I-have-to-send to a complete stranger who is either going to laugh at the fact that I bothered to apply or string me along with a phone screening and interview and then ghost me. I guess only extremely long term unemployed people could understand?

            1. Natalie*

              Then just send the generic one. Maybe it doesn’t work, but it has a better chance of success than an explanation of why you can’t write a custom one.

            2. D3*

              Oh I have been there. Recently.
              You have to learn to NOT let that spiral go on. I literally tell myself out loud to STOP IT.
              You may find that it can help to write it in third person. Pretend to be your best friend and write it as is she was talking about you. Whatever tricks to get SOMETHING on the paper.
              Then edit the hell out of it and change it to first person.
              But get past that initial block and get SOMETHING down on paper. And don’t indulge that line of thinking at all.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Our sense of self-worth, self-value is so very much tied to our jobs. I suspect after a few years of this you probably need to do supportive activities to help yourself stay engaged.
      My suggestion is based on how I talk to my own self. If I can’t dig in and find it in me to do x, then I need to bring in resources to buoy myself up so I CAN find it in me to do x. These means write the cover letter or find some way to get yourself more support than you have now. Rubber meeting the road type of mind-set.

      Do you have a friend who would talk to you on the phone and help you write this letter together?

    5. Aggretsuko*

      If you are totally out of ability to write another cover letter, when they specifically ask for a custom one, then don’t apply for the internship. Sounds like the custom letter is absolutely a requirement here, and I think the manager wouldn’t think well of you if you didn’t follow it.

    6. Aly_b*

      There doesn’t seem to be a downside to throwing your hat in the ring. If they’re asking you to write what amounts to an essay answering specific questions that you don’t want to do, I would maybe say that you just came across the posting today and didn’t want to miss the deadline to get something in. Might be better to frame it around basically unlucky timing with the deadline rather than just not feeling like it (though I support your not feeling like it!)

      1. Jazz*

        Oh, that’s an excellent idea!!! Thank you!!!! I’ll just apply like half an hour before the cut off time, which is a few hours from now. (And technically it’s true that I just found it today. Maybe if I had a week to struggle to get it done I could do it, but on four hours of sleep and no motivation? Nope.)

      2. ThePear8*

        I second that this is a really great idea! I think people are much more likely to be understanding of “Oh gosh, I just saw this and I don’t have enough time to craft a great cover letter before the deadline but I don’t want to miss this opportunity and want to apply for xyz reasons!” rather than “I just don’t have the energy to write ANOTHER cover letter” (though the latter is valid, especially when you’ve been job hunting for a while it gets really exhausting trying to write good cover letters over and over again).

    7. JustMyImagination*

      As a hiring manager, I’d have concerns. If you say you can’t bring yourself to write a custom letter for the application what other “undesirable” tasks will you opt out of if I hire you?

    8. Annie Moose*

      The reality is that a hiring committee won’t care about what jobs you’ve applied to before–they care about their specific job posting. If they post specific application guidelines, you really have to adhere to them as best you can! If not, well, odds are they aren’t going to spend much time looking at your application. It’s unfortunate and I’m sorry, but it’s just the way it is.

      1. BRR*

        All of this. Some things you can maybe get around, but asking specific questions to be addressed in a cover letter unfortunately isn’t one of them. I would either do the best you can and submit not great answers or just skip applying. This is something that’s probably going to automatically put you in the reject pile.

        1. BRR*

          And don’t tell the hiring manager you can’t muster the will to write a custom cover letter. While your words say you’re interested, your actions wouldn’t. And it’s not a great first impression to make.

        2. Jazz*

          I think even with a custom cover letter, being long-term unemployed and older than college age is unfortunately a good guarantee of an auto reject. :(

          (The only age restriction is that you have to be over 18, but I assume they want current college students or recent grads since it’s an internship.)

          1. MissGirl*

            Which is why you’d need to be able to write a killer cover letter specific to this job.

            It might be time to take step back and look at the broader picture of your career and your application process. While right now the market stinks, but historically the last few years have been a great time to get a job.

            Ask yourself what isn’t working:
            Are there not a lot of openings? Is it time to rethink this career path and broaden it out?
            Are there lots of openings but you’re not getting called in? What’s wrong with your resume? Have you had someone who hires look it over? I’ve helped friends with theirs and they make the same mistakes over and over and never change. Is it the employment gap? Should you take on some work, any work to fill that?
            Are you getting to the interview stage but not further? Have you practiced with someone you trust to give you feedback? Have you asked for feedback? Do you go in with the belief your qualified and capable or do you talk yourself down?

            1. Jazz*

              I get to the interview stage but no further. I’ve put a lot of time into practicing answering questions (I have a list of questions from Alison’s blog and other blogs, and I add any totally new questions I get asked at interviews to my list). I make sure to ask a few questions at the end to show interest.

              I only asked for feedback once. I had gone in for two interviews, got rejected, and then they had another opening a month later and asked me to come in for another interview, and got rejected again. I asked something along the lines of if they could give me any feedback on how to make myself a better candidate for similar jobs at other organizations, and just never heard back.

              I haven’t been able to get any kind of work (not even temp jobs, minimum wage, or part time). I don’t have a career path. I basically apply to any jobs that require skills/knowledge in a, b, c or d, as long as they don’t ask for anything that would disqualified me (like needing a specific degree or a certain number of years of experience).

              I barely apply to anything anymore. Feels like I’ve already applied to all the jobs I could be capable of doing, and it doesn’t make sense to keep applying to the same kind of jobs and again and again with the same outcome.

              1. MissGirl*

                I don’t know if it’s the market or you, but I can tell you’re spent. I’m sorry. There’s nothing more of a self-esteem buster than to go through this again and again. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. You’re are worthy and capable of having a job.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      If you can’t bother to write the cover letter, I don’t think there’s any point in applying. They were clear about the requirements for applying and they’re unlikely to have too few good applicants to waive it for you.

      If you needed the weekend to write the custom response because you just found the internship, I think you could ask for an extension for that reason.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Do not tell the hiring manager that you simply can’t bring yourself to write a cover letter and figure that might slide. They’re actually making it kind of easy for you by directing what should go in the letter.

      You’ve applied for a ton of things, you have a lot going on, we get that. But the hiring manager doesn’t owe you anything, especially if you haven’t followed directions. If you can wait a few days and do it, then that’s your best bet. But if you simply can’t do it at all, an application would be a waste of time.

    11. Moonbeam Malone*

      Is there any way you can shoehorn at least some of the custom info into your generic letter? Do you have any other letters or applications you’ve already drafted that answer the questions they’ve asked that you can copy/paste from?

      Don’t tell the Manager you can’t bear to write a custom letter – it’s likely to actually come off worse than if you hadn’t made an excuse. (I sympathize though!)

    12. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m going to join the chorus saying, “grit your teeth and write the dang letter,” but I’m also going to tell you
      1) to write the letter as they request, but think of it as a letter of encouragement to yourself because it says Jazz is interesting, has a lot to offer, and is interested in this particular internship for the following lively, dynamic, worthwhile reasons.
      2) that I sympathize with you more than you can possibly imagine, because I also spent years and years applying and hearing nothing. (For many reasons I’m not the typical mid-career applicant.)
      In fact, I’ve eaten two chocolate-chip cookies in sympathy.
      Hang in there. It absolutely *stinks* to keep on applying for job after job, but it also eventually forces us to improve our communication skills and laser-focus on whatever we do BEST to make a POSITIVE contribution to the world via our employment. Something will turn up. It may be “only” an internship or another volunteer opportunity, but it will help to redirect your thoughts towards moving closer to eventual employment.

    13. RagingADHD*

      No. If you’re too burnt out to meet very specific instructions like that, it’s not a good fit. Certainly any language that implies it isn’t worth your time is a bad idea. (such as “can’t bring myself”). That’s just insulting.

      You could possibly say that you found out about it on such short notice that you wanted to make sure and get it in before the deadline, and your proper cover letter will follow shortly. It’s still not an awesome thing to do, but it might be okay.

      But only if you follow through.

    14. Cassidy*

      >Would it be okay to tell the internship manager I can’t bring myself to write yet another custom cover letter

      God no.

  10. Ann O'Nemity*

    Any tips for managing an employee with performance problems and ongoing health issues?

    Besides saying that their drop in performance is related to a “health problem,” my employee won’t share any details on the health issues, won’t take leave, and doesn’t want accommodations. I’m trying to be compassionate, but I don’t know how to help and I also need to think of the needs of the rest of the team who need to pick up the slack.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      At some point, the conversation is “we need x, y and z. You haven’t been doing that consistently, and while I sympathize with your health issues, this isn’t sustainable for the business. Unless there’s something we can reasonably do to help you do x, y and z consistently, we’re going to need to transition you out of this role.”

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks, it’s always helpful to see a script like this. So far I’ve done the first part (setting super clear expectations), but haven’t said, “Unless there’s something we can reasonably do to help you do x, y and z consistently, we’re going to need to transition you out of this role.” That’s probably the conversation we need to have.

        1. Aggressively Mediocre*

          I go cancer in my mid twenties, and could not bring myself to tell my employer for the longest time. I used “on going health related situation”. I was in a brain fog, my whole body hurt all the time, I was powering through so much to be able to deliver 60% of what I did pre-cancer. When it finally came out, I had coworkers act like it was somehow contagious, and it sucked.
          So I sympathize with your employee a lot. Some people are vague because they don’t know, one of my “sick buddies” had Lyme disease, but it took them two years to figure that out. She knew something was wrong with her health wise but for so long she didn’t know what exactly it was.
          And I get that it isn’t an employers job to make up for the societal lack of health care and a safety net, but some people have to work through cancer and other illness. He might not be able to ask you for accommodations because he doesn’t know what would help. It’s really hard to go from being healthy and able bodied to suddenly struggling. You don’t always know what you need at first.

          So, I would try a few more empathic/interactive process kind of conversations before using the phrase “managing out”.
          Because just an aside, as frustrated as your reports may be with having to pick up the slack now, that conversation gets realllllyyyyyy different when three months later everyone is saying “it’s so awful, did you here? Steve got cancer, and Jane fired him because he couldn’t keep up”

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I would lay out exactly what you need to see improvements in. They need to meet deadlines, have reliable communication, reduce errors on products…whatever it may be that you see lacking. It could be that their health issues have been making their work wishy-washy and they are just rolling with it because no one has called them out. Once you lay it out, they will know exactly what they need to do and hopefully they will step up or open a dialogue as to what exactly they need in accommodations.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      If the employee won’t take the accommodation or leave offered then you have to judge their performance as you would if you didn’t know they had a ‘health problem’ (not sure why we are quoting that)… In my experience it’s pretty common for people who legitimately should take leave or accommodation don’t. I’ve always been very confused and saddened by that, because it ultimately means they are fired for performance issues.

      Many commentators even here have expressed regret at not taking the options they should have at the time.

      So all that being said, if the employee can’t or won’t work with you enough to take advantage of the tools available, then it’s time for you to start performance management which should include a PIP and guidance from your HR

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks, good advice.

        The employee is currently on a PIP, which actually happened right before they brought up the health issues. (“Health problem” they way the employee worded it.)

        I wish HR was more helpful in this process.

    4. Sara without an H*

      My only addition to the excellent advice you’ve already received is to be sure to document all conversations with the employee, including the accommodations they’ve been offered and refused.

      Then lay out what you need from them and set some deadlines and specific benchmarks they have to meet.

      If you’re all working remotely because of the pandemic, you might stretch out the timeline a little bit, but don’t let it go on too long. If they can show progress towards your requirements, OK, but there’s no need to prolong the pain.

    5. BRR*

      I’d consult with HR on this first. But otherwise I would tell them who to contact if you want to explore accommodations and treat it like a performance issue. Depending on the situation, I would stress you want to help but otherwise they need to be the expectations for the role. One thing a manager said to me when I was having performance and health issues that I liked was a reminder that we had an EAP. She limited it to something like “we have the EAP” and I liked how that was helpful but not invasive.

    6. leeapeea*

      Agreed with all said here already. Have the conversation about what accommodations *could* look like in case your employee is overwhelmed and can’t imagine what accommodation might help. If you have an EAP at your org now’s a good time to highlight it. All the while, (kindly, but honestly) communicating fully expectations, timelines, and potential outcomes.

      1. Argh!*

        Where I work, the employee is obligated to come up with a suggestion and to have a doctor communicate with the official ADA person, who will negotiate with the supervisor or supervisor’s supervisor about the requests. The ADA website does have some good examples, and I would refer the person there rather than suggest specific ideas.

    7. Coder von Frankenstein*

      They’ve made it clear they don’t want any specific help from you, so I’d respect that and not try to push anything on them.

      However, that doesn’t mean a “health problem” gets them carte blanche to have poor performance from now until doomsday. How good were they before this came up? How much of a dip in performance are you seeing? How long has it been going on?

      If it’s relatively recent and they were doing well before, I’d cut them some slack. But not infinite slack. At some point you’d have to say, “You’re at X and we need you to be at Y. If you need accommodations to get to Y, we’re happy to work with you, but just staying at X is unacceptable.” And if they don’t respond, escalate as you would with any other employee who wasn’t performing up to par.

    8. English is Lit*

      I had an employee (older — that’s relevant) who was underperforming and kept blaming his poor work on the fact that his elderly mother was having health issues and had moved in with him and his wife. He wasn’t sleeping because she often would get up at night and risk falling, he had to escort her to lots of appointments, etc.

      After a year — A YEAR — of accommodations, we had to get serious with him. We told him if he didn’t use the EAP to find resources to help him help his mother, he’d have to go on a PIP.

      He refused, and went on a PIP.

      Halfway through, we had a check in on the PIP. He wasn’t improving. He chose to retire.

      At the end of the day, I personally think it’s bizarre to literally retire from your job rather than call the EAP and get some help for your elderly mother, but hey, it’s his life.

    9. Anonynony*

      Let me put it in perspective for you. I work with this person every day (that they actually come in to work). Their performance has always been lackluster and they have issues with their temper when dealing with clients. They had a health issue a couple of years ago for which they were out on short term leave, which they had also been on and off up until now a total of 3 years. They have FMLA as well so will take time at the last minute and most recently, when they lost power, they stayed home for two days not doing any work. Everyone else either went into the office, or were able to use a generator. Today they miraculously have a generator, and is working (starting at 1:30 pm) only after being told the last two non-working days had to be taken as vacation. They will constantly ask for help doing the the most basic of tasks that they, as a professional, should know how to do. WHY they are not gone by now really boggles the mind as they have been on multiple PIPs, but then starts performing a little better and are then taken off the PIP. How many PIPs does to take to get the center of termination? I sincerely hope your employee can take to heart the help they are being offered as we have covered (many, many times for weeks and/or at the last minute) for this person, and they just keep doing the barest minimum. To say those who work with this person are demoralized by the situation and how it’s NOT being handled is an understatement.

    10. LGC*

      Do you have an HR department? They might not feel comfortable divulging with you, and that might be a workaround.

      That said…one of the relevant posts on the letter about the boss who has their employees arrange coverage for themselves was about exactly this situation (how to handle chronically sick employees when their chronic illness is causing issues). It’s a delicate situation, but basically the problem isn’t that your employee has a health problem…it’s that they’re not trying to help find solutions to this. So, what you’d need to do is a fairly delicate dance of saying, “Look, I feel bad for you, but the way things are currently going isn’t working for anyone. Would you be open to working reduced hours/having a flexible schedule/[anything I’m not thinking of that you could do]?”

      (Don’t use that wording since it’s pretty direct. In my specific case, I’ve often said, “This is a difficult situation, so I think that you should go to HR, since they’re equipped to help you out.”)

    11. Argh!*

      You need to document that they told you this, and that you have provided them with the necessary referral for them to get accommodations. — an email to that person would be best, with a follow up if they didn’t send a reply. “Just checking to see that you received my email about where to go for accommodations.”

      Poor work output is not an accommodation. This person is just making excuses, and you will have every right to separate them or put them on a PIP if needed. But first, CYA with a referral to the ADA resource.

  11. The Grey Lady*

    I’ve been waiting all week! I need opinions, especially if you are a manager/have worked in management.

    Okay, so I’m going to be quitting my job at the end of September. I plan to hand it my official notice at the beginning of September. That way, I give ample notice, and I’ll also have some time to train a new hire if my boss wants me to.

    The thing is, my boss has been pushing me for a while now to meet with her and schedule my vacation time for this year. I haven’t taken any yet, and if I don’t use it I will lose it at the end of the year. I think my boss is afraid I’m just dragging my feet on telling her and am going to spring it on her last minute. But really, I wasn’t planning on taking a vacation since I knew I would be leaving at some point soon.

    So, she mentioned it again yesterday, so I met with her and we scheduled me for a week of vacation at the end of August. It will be nice to have a break, but that means I will be off for a week, and then will come back and hand it my notice right away.

    Tell me, is that tacky?? I didn’t know how else to get around it because I’m not ready to tell my boss I’m leaving yet. I don’t like this job or the management, but I’m trying to leave on good terms as much as possible.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. Some places wouldn’t even approve a leave request once you put in notice.

        You earned your time, OP – take it.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      That’s life. There’s never a good time to resign. If you’ve earned the vacation, you have a right to take it.

    2. Alex*

      I don’t think it matters. A vacation isn’t a favor your company does for you, it is part of your compensation. Is it wrong to accept paychecks in August just because you are going to quit in September? Of course not. Think of this the same way.

    3. Picard*

      Not tacky at all. Just make sure you dont use more vacation then you would get for working through September.

      1. The Grey Lady*

        I won’t. I have plenty of time saved up because I rarely take time off. I could take an entire week of sick time if I really wanted to.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      It’s often better to take vacation before handing your notice in. You’d have to read your specific leave policy, but it’s common to not allow vacation to be used in the leave period (companies want to avoid a 2 week notice period with a following 2 week vacation request). You’re overthinking this a bit. Use the vacation, come back, turn in notice.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        “not allow vacation to be used in the leave period” should read “not allow vacation to be used in the notice period”

      2. allathian*

        You’re overthinking it. Although to be fair, my situation is completely different in that I work for the government in the Nordics. One reason why our notice periods are so long (two months) is that we have to take any accrued vacation before leaving the job. Otherwise the employer would be forced to pay for unused vacation days and that’s something they really, really don’t want to do. That said, there’s nothing stopping an employee from working for two organizations at the same time, they’re on vacation from their previous employer while onboarding with their new one.

    5. Katy*

      You could always schedule PTO for later in the year just to have it on the books. Our company is stressing everyone plan out their PTO to ensure all get to use it because if everyone waits to use it in the latter half of the year, then some managers will have to deny requests to ensure the business has adequate staffing.

  12. Justin*

    So I finally had to admit to my grandboss that the reactions I get from my boss have caused a lot of issues. My boss is out for medical (not covid; she’s okay, had elective surgery, recovering), so my supervisory meetings are with my grandboss.

    I’ve long had an issue at work where my boss doesn’t really respond to my emails quickly (or, in person, doesn’t really seem to want to be bothered) and then I guess what’s needed and am often wrong and am told as much.

    But the thing is, my boss has, several times, rolled her eyes at my asking questions. Usually I only ask questions to confirm basic things so we’re on the same page, and she, for whatever reason, is annoyed by this.

    Unfortunately, I’m a little too sensitive to this, because then I just have to guess what she wants, and I’m not always right, and then she gets mad and asks why I didn’t do xyz.

    It’s fun!

    But finally I told my grandboss today that it’s a little challenging to ask questions of someone who responds in that way. Notably, my boss has also minimized the times I’ve brought up concerns about racism and other forms of bigotry (and people listen to her, because she, like me, is POC). She clearly finds me annoying, which is, unfortunately, not unusual, but is also not productive!

    I took next week off (a while ago) for other reasons. I doubt anything will change. But I’m glad I finally said it, and in the future, I’m just going to ask her every single question she might find annoying so I can’t be told I’m not communicating anymore and CC the grandboss.

    Anyway this is why my joy is the work I do outside of work.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      For what it’s worth, this internet stranger is celebrating for you. That can be a super scary conversation to have with a grandboss, and I’m so glad you decided to do it!

      1. Justin*

        She was trying to say “well, you have to tell your colleague it’s an issue” before I was finally like, “yeahhhhhh it’s not a peer.”

    2. blepkitty*

      wrt your comment “I’m a little too sensitive to this”–no, you’re not. Your boss’s behavior is really frustrating! I’ve had a boss who did things like that, and I know others who have. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t upset by the behavior.

      Basically, she thinks you’re an idiot for not being able to read her mind. It’s terrible.

      1. Justin*

        This shouldn’t matter, but the fact that this occurs at the exact same time that I’m excelling in my doctoral studies and getting published nationally is quite the confidence-confuser.

        1. Hillary*

          That tells you it’s her, not you. It sounds like you might be in academia, which doesn’t have the best reputation for training people how to manage. We forget that managing is learned skill just as much as anything technical.

          This internet stranger thinks you’re doing well. If you can, think of it as an experiment. You can start testing responses and see if you get different results.

          1. Justin*

            Weirdly, no, I have a job that, although tangentially connected to my school, is really in the workforce development space. But absolutely she hasn’t been trained in direct management as she was promoted due to someone else leaving and everyone rising up. She’s (not as dumb as but still) a Michael Scott – excellent at the actual craft of building courses but the management…..

        2. blepkitty*

          You’re right that you it shouldn’t matter, but it’s good that you have that to shore yourself up in the face of your boss’s behavior. Just remember if you ever start not excelling in your doctoral studies, that doesn’t invalidate you. Her behavior is unprofessional either way.

  13. Just us chickens*

    What would you do in a situation where you heard one of your co-worker’s safety and well being being threatened? My friend’s co-worker, let’s call him Bill, had asked for a photo of another co-worker, Jason. My friend overheard Bill talking to some of his friends, about “teaching Jason a lesson”.
    My friend told his boss, and the boss told Jason. So Jason confronted Bill and Bill then asked my friend why he told Jason.
    My thought is that the boss should’ve talked directly to Bill rather than to Jason, and taken action against Bill, but left Jason out of the entire thing. I’d love to know what you all think.
    I probably won’t get a chance to check this again until much later today, but I’m looking forward to reading the responses.

    1. Picard*

      Huh? Why is Bill still employed? I’m in HR and any type of physical threat is grounds for immediate termination. And yes Boss should have handled it with Bill directly, not involved Jason other than perhaps to warn him…

      1. Just us chickens*

        That’s what I thought too, that Bill should be fired, but it’s one of those dysfunctional companies. Thank you for letting me know from an HR perspective.

    2. Silver Radicand*

      Unfortunately, there are a lot of situation-dependent variables in this situation.
      So, it could be the type of thing that the manager wanted to gauge whether this was a true threat and not some sort of friendly prank easily explainable by the working dynamic between the two (which a manager may not always have good insight into) and chose to get with Jason and ask about it.
      Now a good manager wouldn’t let it stop there (unless maybe Jason wanted to talk with Bill before the manager did, that’d be a little more dependent on the circumstances), but would still be following up on this.
      Regardless, if there was any hint of true threat in the statement Bill made, then the boss should be getting with him and making sure Bill knows this won’t be tolerated.
      Frankly, it’s weird that Bill asked for a picture of Jason and I don’t know why Bill thought that your friend wouldn’t mention it in conversation, regardless of managers, especially given Bill’s statement.

      1. Just us chickens*

        The boss is a contractor and while he’s a nice guy, doesn’t do the hard stuff like disciplining or terminating much. Bill is trying to make it sound like a joke, but he has ties to criminals, which is why my friend took it as being a serious threat.

        As for why Bill didn’t think friend would mention it, it’s because Bill’s not much of a thinker.

        1. Silver Radicand*

          Yeah, that situation sucks all around. I change my answer to Picard’s answer above. Bill needs to be let go. If your boss won’t move on that to AT MINIMUM have a tough conversation with Bill then your boss sucks, sorry. :(

          1. Just us chickens*

            Thankfully for me, it’s not my boss. I actually work in a functional environment, but my friend’s workplace is disorganised at best.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      I think Jason still needs to be aware so he can look out for his safety. If Jason’s safety has been threatened, he could be “taught a lesson” elsewhere where his boss isn’t able to look out for him. I think this is all about Jason’s safety.

      Having been in a situation where I found out after the fact that someone knew something that could have helped me much sooner than I put all the pieces together, I was not a happy camper. By several months. My own opinion is likely skewed by that fact.

      1. valentine*

        I think Jason still needs to be aware so he can look out for his safety.
        Yes, and it sounds like Jason couldn’t leave it with the boss. Ideally, he could, and thus would not need to confront Bill.

        This is intensely weird. Why did Bill want a picture of Jason?

        1. tangerineRose*

          Sounds like he wants to get other people to do something to Jason. Jason needs to be warned.

          1. Just us chickens*

            That’s exactly it, Bill wanted a picture so his friends could “fix” Jason. They needed to know what Jason looked like.

            Jason was warned and he confronted Bill who said it was all a misunderstanding.

      2. Just us chickens*

        Thank you for giving me that point of view, MechanicalPencil. I was only looking at it from an outsider’s POV and didn’t take into account what it would be like for Jason. It makes sense that you would need to know if someone is threatening your life, you need to take steps to protect yourself.

    4. Workerbee*

      I think your thought is right! There are times when we want coworkers to handle differences and disputes themselves, and times when escalation to a higher -up is the thing to do. Boss should have talked with Bill. (If he did and still expected Jason to talk with Bill about it, it’s still very iffy in my mind. But it sounds like the boss just stayed out of actually managing the situation.)

      It’s also telling that Bill thought it appropriate to go to your friend afterward, with or without the assumption that your friend told Jason directly. This reaction indicates there’s stuff going on that needs to be managed.

      1. Just us chickens*

        I’m not sure if the boss ended up talking to Bill about it, but I think he wants to move Bill into another position where he has less interactions with Jason. The whole situation is one giant cluster.

    5. BRR*

      I feel like there’s a lot of context missing, but if I was your friend I would have told Jason and someone in a position to do something about (manager and/or HR). If I was manager/HR I would have (immediately) asked friend, Bill, and Jason separately for more details and I’m making a leap but fired Bill and figured out what to do if Bill shows up again. If I was Jason, I wouldn’t have confronted Bill.

      1. Just us chickens*

        You’re right, I only heard one portion of the story from my friend. I don’t know if they have HR but that would’ve been the best people to deal with the situation. It’s a male dominated blue collared work environment, so confronting one another is their usual MO.

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I agree that it should have been handled between the boss and Bill (in the form of “Bill, you’re fired”); making threats against a coworker is not something the company should tolerate. It should not be put on the target of the threat to resolve (!) and the company should not allow the target’s response to dictate its own.

      I do think it’s appropriate to give Jason a heads-up, though. He deserves to be aware of the danger. Depending on the nature and urgency of the threat, he might want to call the cops or take other measures to protect himself.

      1. Just us chickens*

        I agree, I think Bill should’ve been fired on the spot as well, but this boss is a softie and all about giving people second chances.

        The cops have been notified of the potential danger and are going to keep an eye out on Bill.

  14. Expecting and frustrated*

    I need some advise on how to leave my job after maternity leave without burning bridges. I am going to be giving birth in November and will be job hunting during my maternity leave. My hope is to have a new job lined up once my leave is up. Has anyone else done this?

    I have been very unhappy this year with how my firm handled Covid, how they changed my client load, and their attitude in general. I have been with the company for almost 7 years and have worked very hard for them. They are still expecting me to work lots of OT in my third trimester (I’m pushing back on this). They have also made it known that we will not getting raises or bonuses even though our business has increased during the pandemic so all of my OT this year will be unpaid (I’m salaried). My job is in tax so I will be returning as our busy season is starting.

    1. Janis Mayhem*

      Wait until you are about halfway through your leave and then let them know you have decided not to come back. You don’t need to go into the whys and wherefores as they will probably assume you decided to stay home with the baby and you don’t need to correct that assumption. They will also presumably have coverage for you (even it’s a temp) that will give them a bit of a buffer to find your replacement.

    2. Picard*

      Also note that you may be required to pay back some of your benefits of they have been paid for you by the company.

      1. blackcat*

        ^This.

        Make sure to look into this. I know plenty of folks who’ve had to pay back pay and reimburse the company for health insurance benefits after deciding not to come back after having a baby.

        1. Expecting and frustrated*

          That’s a good point you guys bring up. My company doesn’t pay anything for maternity leave and their benefits are not very good so we are on my husband’s plan through his employer.

          1. blackcat*

            Then is there any reason not to just… give notice when you’re 38 weeks? Do you want to have the option to return if you don’t find another job?

    3. Goatgirl*

      I just have to say, if you can manage job hunting, interviewing, etc. with a newborn, you must truly be Superwoman. Good luck!

  15. many bells down*

    Well I had my first annual review this week and my boss could only say how much they love me so that’s good! And in a surprise move, a staff member I support but don’t work directly under brought up out of nowhere that he thinks my title is woefully inadequate to the work I do and wants the org to give me a better one. He’s been sending me emails with hilariously elaborate titles in the salutation.

  16. Alex*

    Vent here, but also wondering if this is a rampant problem or just something that follows me around.

    In my office, and in other offices I’ve worked in, people who are incompetent get away with not being assigned work because no one actually *wants* work from them. The competent people get asked to do everything that is slightly “extra” because people want that work to be done well.

    Twice this week, I have been asked to do projects, not because they are part of my role, but because the most logical people to ask are known incompetents. It is extra frustrating that one of these incompetents is my own boss. Both of the people who should have been asked to do these things make more money than I do–by a lot.

    To be clear, this isn’t a situation where I have some special skill that they don’t have. My boss lacks the ability to think through big picture ideas, to come up with and implement solutions to problems, etc. If someone doesn’t hold her hand every step of the way, or give her a very narrow, straightforward task, she can’t wrap her brain around something. This makes her unable to do large, complex projects, even if they don’t require specialized skills. Hence, I’ve been asked to do it instead. When it was presented to me (not by my boss) the person assigning it to me heavily implied, although did not outright say, that she knew that this should really be my boss’s job, but that she simply didn’t have time to hand hold and deal with my boss’s incompetence, and so was asking for me to please do it instead. Another person who is also competent but also is at my level was asked to help. We are literally doing the job of my boss because she can’t.

    In the other instance, they want someone to participate in a committee. There is a guy who would be the logical choice from my department, but he is known as being difficult to work with and also really incompetent. So no one wants him to be on any committees because he is unpleasant, and doesn’t actually contribute.

    I’m so frustrated and sick of this. When do *I* get to sit back and watch YouTube all day while people who make less than me do all the work?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Definitely. And I think the only thing that works to get rid of missing stairs is to push the pain back onto people who can make those decisions. If there’s a more logical choice for an assignment, suggest them. It pretty much doesn’t matter (in terms of you suggesting them) if their reputation is “incompetent” if this is the work they should be doing. It needs to be TPTB’s issue to fix.

        If TPTB still want you do to it because it won’t get done otherwise, ask what your new priorities should be given you are already 100% booked. “I can do X, Y, and Z like planned, or I can do X, Y, and the new A, but won’t have time/capacity for Z.” And make sure you’re pushing off the projects that someone else ought to be doing anyway and were only assigned to you because of the missing stairs.

        If TPTB just say “find a way” and don’t acknowledge this problem, it’s time to check out your options.

        I’m relatively lucky in that our work has only had a few missing stairs over the years and they have eventually been managed out. I wouldn’t say they coasted though, two of my prime examples were people dealing with some significant personal issues and/or really unhappy with their jobs. The third just definitely thought rules didn’t apply to her unless she directly and visibly benefited from doing the work assigned to her, and she left when she stopped getting any visibility.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      That’s been the case at every place I’ve ever worked…I don’t have any good suggestions but I sure can commiserate!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I was about to say something similar – this was pretty much my entire adult work life until I found a position at my current company as the only person who does what I do. Now, I don’t have to worry about getting other people’s work dumped on me, and I’m much happier.

    2. The Grey Lady*

      This happened to my mother. She worked in an open, “work goes to whoever is available to do it right now” type office. But she got all the work dumped on her because no one else could do it right. She even had to work overtime quite a bit. She trained other people on what to do multiple times, the office let people go who weren’t performing and new ones were hired, but it didn’t matter. This is why I’m a big fan of companies treating their good employees right because losing them will be a shot in the foot. Yes, job applicants are a dime a dozen, but GOOD ones are a little more rare.

    3. Dave*

      I know the feeling but my office is dysfunctional and toxic so I assume some of this is part of those problems. (Great pay, stability, and flexibility keep me there.)
      I have seen some people eventually get fired or forced to leave over the years but it usually takes awhile unfortunately. I have also been able to move up the food chain much faster because I am a go to person.
      It is truly amazing though how many people can’t do simple tasks for themselves. For the difficult co-worker it is always extra fun getting outside calls from people to intervene because even they don’t want to deal with my co-worker … those are extra fun dealing with when my boss finds out or needs to become involved when I am trying to get answers / solutions. It all sucks but I try to keep thinking about karma as I do other people’s assigned roles.

    4. Cabin in the Woods*

      I’ve definitely seen it in most of my workplaces. I’ve responded by getting better at setting boundaries and actually being brave enough to say “no” to assignments that I feel are outside my scope, or would just be too much added to my plate. I used to be flattered by getting assigned extra projects as I could see that leadership trusted me to handle them, but I began to see how it can get out of control and it’s easy to get taken advantage of. I was surprised the first couple of times I said “no” that it was not the end of the world, and that ultimately my boss understood my reasons for saying no. Is saying “no”” something you can try? Or limiting your involvement, such as saying that you would be willing to work on a smaller piece of the project, but don’t have the bandwidth to take on the whole thing?

    5. WFH with CAT*

      Sounds pretty sucky. I know you are mostly venting, but I am curious:

      Do you have to accept all requests that come to you? If a project/role really should be handled by someone else, can you decline and recommend that the requestor go to the other, more appropriate person?

      1. Alex*

        I actually did say “no” to one of the requests, and I did suggest that they ask [incompetent person who should really take that on]. I rarely have the nerve to say no but this request was so far out of my wheelhouse I felt like I was justified and I was actually pretty proud of myself for saying NO.

        While I did successfully get out of doing the thing, they did NOT give it to the logical person, but simply moved on to a different person who also shouldn’t be the one being asked to do it. That person sent me a message, jokingly saying “Hey thanks a lot for declining that thing, now I have to do it!” I advised him to also decline but I’m not sure what he ended up doing.

        So, while *I* got out of it, the bigger problem of incompetent people getting out of work persisted.

        1. WFH with CAT*

          Good on you for pushing back on that project … but the larger picture sure isn’t pretty. I wish I had some useful suggestions to fix the problem. But, nope, got nothing.

    6. JustaTech*

      It’s not just you. I’ve had those kinds of people in several jobs I’ve worked, including a guy who literally watched anime all day.
      Sometimes word gets around that those people are useless and the next time layoffs roll around, who are you going to lose, anime guy, or the person who’s actually working?
      Other times those people survive the layoffs and there are not-very-nice jokes about how they must have incriminating photos of the bosses to get to keep sticking around.

      One of those people had been my boss, and then was demoted for being hard to work with and not great at managing people, but he stuck around because he’d been at the company forever and knew where all the (figurative) bodies were buried.

    7. Coco*

      Yup. This is def normal. There’s a saying about if you want something done, give it to a busy person. People who are competent def get more work than those who aren’t. Unless someone is actively trying to manage them out (assign work, pip if they don’t get it done, separation/ firing).

    8. Grumpy Lady*

      I had this at my previous job. The other people were so incompetant that I ended up with almost all of the work for our section while these other people screwed up the tasks that they were left to do.

      The only thing I can say is I fixed it by going to a job where I get paid more.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      Not just you. Definitely empathize.

      I’ll be honest in that, at my former job, I found a sweet spot wherein I was more productive than my contemporaries and yet not burning at 100% efficiency. This allowed me to flex up when something Actually Important came down the pipe and also not resent my co-workers so much.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      This is a thing. But remember why you’re doing it. You’re proving you can do the boss’ job. You save the receipts, put it all on your resume, and when you’ve got enough to make your case – you move on, and you move up.

    11. Middle Manager*

      Adding to the choir. Definitely not just you. I describe my office as swiss cheese, with at least one incompetent and/or difficult person in nearly every area that people actively work around. We had some incredibly conflict avoidant bad senior management for a number of years that created a culture of just dumping work on the competent people and ignoring terrible employees.

      On the bright side, we’ve recently had a change in senior leadership and they seem to be making real steps to equalizing out work loads and removing terrible staff. I’m in government, so it’s a long process, but I’m genuinely hopeful for the first time in years.

  17. Janis Mayhem*

    As of this week I am unemployed. I have updated my LinkedIn and Indeed and have already heard from a recruiter, so that’s good. Unfortunately, I am only interested in 100% remote work for the foreseeable future. I know that will cut into my opportunities, especially in my field, but my health and safety are more important. If worse comes to worse, we can afford for me to not work for probably around 6 months, especially if we cut daycare for our kids (we’ve been lucky enough to keep that going throughout with a private babysitter). On the plus side, my creative juices have been flowing again and I am very excited about some ideas that started churning through my brain.

    1. The Grey Lady*

      I’m glad you feel positive! What field are you in? The good news is that remote opportunities are more ubiquitous now than they normally would be.

    2. Jimming*

      Look on job boards that post remote-only work. Check out articles that mention which companies have recently changed their WFH policies and explore those companies. There’s a lot of remote options. Good luck!

  18. Amber Rose*

    After the absolute chaos of last week, this week was surprisingly calm.

    Asking my boss and the CEO what my title should be turned out to be a terrible idea, by the way. It resulted in a 20 minute argument about how to encapsulate everything I do, during which both one word titles, and titles which were more like paragraphs were thrown around. I don’t really like what we decided on (it’s got slashes and sounds like a demotion from my previous title), and I don’t honestly know how to even put this job on a resume anymore.

    I am settling a little more into my new role in QA. There’s still a three month backlog on my desk that I haven’t touched and that is giving me a constant low level of anxiety and overwhelmed feelings, but I have at least dealt with the new stuff as it comes in and I’m feeling more used to the software.

    Today, if all I do is catch up on my filing, I will feel like I accomplished something. So my whole to-do list for the day is just filing, because I feel like I can do that much. I literally don’t even feel like I can add more stuff to my list yet. It’s hard.

    1. JustaTech*

      Hey, that filing is important! Don’t knock doing the boring and routine bits of your job, especially in Quality. You, and your coworkers, may not appreciate it now, but in 5 years someone will be grateful that you did it. It’s one of those things that most people only notice how important it is when it doesn’t happen.

      Says someone who is working through a huge pile of stuff that several iterations of a Quality department just forgot to do. And I’m not Quality!

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Filing, although not glamorous, is so rewarding. It knocks something off the list and moves a whole pile of stuff off your desk. I will put if off for literally 3-6 months and then knock it out in a few hours and feel super accomplished, until I check my email. *laughs*
      Good luck – baby steps Amber!

  19. Surprise!*

    So I know that there should ideally be no surprises in a performance review, but what do you say if your supervisor *does* surprise you?

    I consistently ask for feedback (both broadly and on specific issues) and often get it, but lately I’ve gotten the feeling that they are “saving up” for my review next week. I can’t pinpoint why I feel this way but it feels very, very true. I’ve been transparent that I’m aiming for a promotion at this review, and we’ve talked about what data/documents I should prepare in order to strengthen that argument. What strategies are there if something we’ve never talked about before gets brought up?

    1. londonedit*

      I think it’s really good that you’re preparing for this – with any luck, if there are any surprises, you can just think to yourself ‘Aha! Here’s the surprise I was waiting for!’ rather than being blindsided. I’d probably say something very simple like ‘That’s interesting. Can I ask why you weren’t able to provide feedback on this at the time?’ Try to be impassive about it and see what your boss has to say.

    2. leeapeea*

      I think it’s ok to say you’re blindsided if you are! I get emotional and have a hard time thinking straight when I feel surprised with problems. Something like this script has worked well, and if I practice it in the mirror it comes to me easier in the moment: “I really want to take time to reflect on what we’ve just talked about. Can we meet again in a week (a day, two weeks etc) when I’ve had time to process and come up with a plan together?”

    3. Violets are blue*

      I’d say something along these lines: my impression in the moment was that this was the correct way to wash baby llamas. If it had been addressed in the moment, I would have done it [this other way].
      Good luck!

    4. Emilitron*

      Honestly it sounds like they’ve already decided one way or the other on your promotion and are either feeling guilty that they can’t give it to you (and they’re preparing their excuses) or they know you’re getting it and don’t want to spoil the surprise.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Gee, I wish I had known about X when it happened 5 weeks ago. That would have given me time to properly apologize and correct course. I want to be a valuable employee to our company. In order to be this valuable person, I need to know as quickly as possible how best to help here. Now I am concerned that other things will come up and blindside me again. I much prefer being told in the moment what is necessary. What can we do to prevent this situation from happening in the future?”

      I have used this and it DOES work.

  20. M*

    I am about to start grad school (getting my MAED, so I can follow my dream and teach!) But it’s scary! I’m currently working as a paralegal, and I’ll be keeping my full time schedule, while taking evening classes. Gotta say… I’m worried about balancing it all. Anyone have advice for keeping myself sane and also not dropping the ball on anything? I just want to succeed and not have to work at a job I don’t particularly love forever. I’ve wanted to teach since I was a kid, but my path has been a bit roundabout.

    1. Jimming*

      Congrats for starting your program! It’s been awhile but I was also in grad school while working full time. It’s tough but if your program is designed for working professionals that should help. Schedule your time. Let go of things that aren’t important. Maybe time your vacation with your semester breaks so you can recharge. Have fun!

    2. Dave*

      Organization is key. When I did Grad School with working the key to me was trying to stay ahead as much as possible so if I had heavy work days where my brain was fried I wouldn’t be totally behind in classwork. After the first semester as you know your professors and schedule I would also try to get an old syllabus or ask what books would be assigned. I had a class with heavy reading so having read 90% of the books over the summer the school year was more manageable because then I just had to skim the book of the week for the paper.
      The paper planner really seemed to help the most. I would start the semester noting every assignment and test from the syllabus so I could see crunch points easier.
      Also if possible keep a night or at least a few hours dedicated to not work or study to make sure you give your brain a rest and time to wander. For me keeping the same night worked best.
      Good luck!

      1. M*

        Thank you to both Jimming and Dave! I appreciate the advice (and will probably look into getting a paper planner to help me visually set things straight. I usually go electronic, since that also sends me a ding if something is coming up, but paper might be easier for visual intake. And I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who reads ahead :). Bought a couple of my books that looked interesting, and have started to get through them so I can have at least a vague idea of where I’m starting.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I am in grad school and teaching full time. You absolutely have to have balance, and parts of your life (especially social life) will suffer for a while. The stress can also take a toll; I was totally burnt out this year and I have spent the summer sleeping and recharging, even though I’m extremely anxious about teaching this fall. As a teacher I’m also in a position where I work outside of regular hours. I organised this by doing school work at school and not bringing home marking. Home was for me and for my Masters classes. And I put absolutely everything in my phone calendar: due dates, class dates, everything. I get great satisfaction by deleting entries once they’re done. Good luck!!

    4. Halfway to my BA*

      I’m not in grad school but doing regular college full-time at night/online while working 50ish hours a week. Get yourself very organized (giant calendar planners with the months and weeks are great!) and once you get the syllabus for each class plan out what you need to have done each week. If you don’t live alone distribute out some of your chores to others. Schedule a couple hours each week for relaxation/hobbies/etc so you don’t get burned out. When you get overwhelmed, take a break and remember that you can do it.

    5. JustaTech*

      Congrats!
      Like everyone else said, schedule, schedule, schedule. Also, figure out what you do on a daily/weekly basis that you can drop or ask your partner/roommate to take over. When I did grad school while working I stopped making dinner from scratch every night and swapped in a lot of frozen meals and some takeout.

      Another big thing is to figure out what time of day works best for schoolwork. Most folks in my program did school after work, but some people got up early to get school done before work.

    6. Hillary*

      I did full time grad school while working full time. My advice:
      1) simplify and outsource what you need to. I ate out a lot or ate very simple food that didn’t take time to prepare. I had a studio apartment that didn’t require much cleaning. I never quite got to the point that I paid someone to do my laundry, but I did google it.
      2) accept that other parts of your life will have to compromise. I had no social life. My life was mostly work-class-sleep or work-homework-sleep. But my schedule was crazy.
      3) take vacation time during finals, you’ll need it.
      4) do group projects with people who are also working. They’re going to have priorities closer to yours – the hardest group to manage is one where half your group are FT students who want to spend all day and the other half is working people (or even tighter schedules, working parents) who only have an hour. if possible, work with people who did the same kind of undergrad as you so your writing already has the same voice. for me that meant small midwestern liberal arts. we could turn in papers without any voice editing.
      5) be honest with your current employer only to the extent they want. I knew when I was quitting for an internship three months before I told them, they’d told me they didn’t want to know more than two weeks in advance. Unless you’re the only paralegal at the firm they’ll be able to cover when you hand in your notice. But they may also be flexible about your schedule if you need to leave early for night classes or whatever.

      1. M*

        Thank you Hillary! This comment was super helpful! I appreciate the reality in it as well. My partner knows he’s going to end up cooking A LOT on the nights when I have classes, and I’ve basically resigned myself to not having a social life (even though right now, that’s not a huge issue, what with the pandemic and all). I applaud you for getting through it, and I thank you for the advice.

    7. A Cataloger*

      In addition to everything everyone else has suggested, take advantage of the librarian who is assigned to your school/subject. We have lots of tips and tricks for searching for articles, books, etc. to help you save time and not get frustrated.

  21. Jimming*

    How are you all dealing when you have unrealistic goals to meet? Since the pandemic, our goals haven’t changed even tho it impacts my job. We’re down a staff member and it’s not just me – my team isn’t able to meet this goal. I like everything else about my job but it’s hard to let go at the end of the day. Any mental tricks for detaching after work?

    1. Indy Dem*

      I’ve found when facing unrealistic goals, it’s been helpful to document what you’ve done to address the goals, and why they can’t be reached, with current resources. It’s more helpful that just saying “I don’t see how we can do that”
      For Goal X, we have done 1, 2, and 3. To achieve goal, we would still need to do 4 and 5, but would need additional Alpha resources and another damned warm body!

      Okay, maybe rephrase that last little bit.

      1. Jimming*

        That made my day! But yes, this is a good reminder. I document all my work already so it’s just a matter of organizing it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’ll follow this with interest. I just got an email yesterday from my project manager, asking the team lead whether my deadline should be shortened by one week or 2.

      I’m currently on the hook to deliver 6 weeks worth of work in 4. Which I can hustle hard and do.

      I can’t do it in 3. Nobody on earth could do it in 2. Not and have it be less than total crap.

      I just said, “hey, I was under the impression that date was *my* due date. Not the deliver-to-client date. Because, you know, that’s the due date listed on my task. I can try to have it a little earlier, but I can’t promise anything.”

      We’ll see what happens.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have found it helpful to use numbers to tell my story.

      “I have started on Project x. Step 1 took 3 hours, instead of the anticipated 15 minutes because of problem ABC. I got ABC fix so that is not longer and issue. Then I completed Step 1.
      I moved to step 2. I anticipated it would be done in an afternoon. Because of problem DEF, it took me THREE days. I was able to patch DEF but it will be a recurring problem. With this patch, I completed Step 2 on the COB of Day Three.”

      I have a description and it goes on like this. I bring the description to the boss and explain. Key Point: LISTEN to what the boss says and if the boss is understanding, ALLOW the boss’ words to console you.

      Going a shorter route, if the boss has already made an announcement to the effect of “Do the best you can” decide that you are going to trust the boss’ word on this.

      For myself, if I reduce everything down to numbers I can finally force myself to logically see that it is just NOT possible to do it all. I start thinking about priorities and where I can do the most good and/or prevent the most damage from happening. Again, key point, deliberately take satisfaction in what you DO actually get done. Hey, no one is going to do it for us, right?

  22. Aria*

    I’m leaving a job because I got recruited for a better job elsewhere. My tenure here has been a bit short, and although I’m mainly leaving because of the new job, I’ve also felt a lack of fit with my current job. The higher ups don’t seem amenable to change, they’re not clear with their directions, honestly I think they are mean to my boss, more interested in ego and procedures than actual impact and getting things done. Their hiring is unbalanced – a lot of people in management roles and on the sales side, not enough on the technical side and actually doing the work.

    I have a 1 hr exit interview following some set script. 1 hour! Should I say anything or just repeat “I learned a lot here and thank you for the opportunity” for an hour. I do care about this organization and especially their mission but given the ego issues in particular idk if it’s worth saying anything.

    1. Aria*

      Can I refuse to do an exit interview? I would have transferred all my work and data and stuff, I just don’t want to this 1 hour exit interview.

      1. Picard*

        You CAN but I wouldnt advise it. Do you get the script ahead of time? If not, yeah, just keep repeating your “mantra” If you do, its easy enough to prepare answers.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Maybe try to come up with some neutral to benign suggestions that doesn’t really rock the boat. If it helps, I asked our HR once if managers ever get the results of exit interviews and the answer for my org is no, unless something comes up that they think the manager should know about.

      Is there something you have noticed everyone gripes about… from slow IT resolution to the coffee type in the breakroom or maybe offer suggestions…
      Examples:
      “It would be really great if the recycling program could be beefed up since a lot of employees really want to do their part”
      “Everyone loves the weekly donuts, and I’m sure that the addition of fruit every once in awhile would be a nice addition’
      “The tools that are used in the group could probably use some attention, I noticed that the newer versions offer X, Y, and Z that could help efficiency”
      “The monthly all hands meeting is a really helpful, has there been any thought to adding department leaders to the agenda to give information about their group and activity?”

      See how none of these are controversial really, maybe try to plan a few things that you could use. You can also try to sneak in some of the more umm… hot topics if sandwiched in with a lot of neutral ones.

      In other words, keep it bland.

      1. Aria*

        So this is being run by my boss, not HR. I’m not sure if thats really how an exit interview should be done. But I”ll think of some neutral ideas and call it a day.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Just repeat “learned a lot and thanks.” Exit interviews rarely change cultures.

      Also, someday you might need a good reference from SoonToBeExCompany. You want SoonToBeExCompany to remember you as the professional employee who gave proper notice and had a clear plan to complete or turn over work. You don’t want a criticism uttered in the exit interview to lessen the good opinion of you by HR or your manager.

  23. Supervisor evaluations*

    I have a question.

    When a supervisor’s performance is being evaluated, why isn’t it standard practice to get input from the people they supervise? And why not require references from former subordinates when a supervisor is being interviewed for a new job or a promotion?

    Long version: I work in a library. The branch manager is the highest ranking person in the building, and their supervisor comes out for meetings that run about an hour or two per month, so they’re getting all their information about the manager’s supervisory ability from the manager themself.

    My former manager was recently promoted to a higher position, but the people on my team generally fee like it’s a bad idea. He’s a nice enough guy, but he’s scattered, disorganized, and spends a lot of his day roaming the building looking at things and talking to people, then freaking out that he doesn’t have time to finish his work. If anybody had checked with his staff as part of the hiring process, they could have been given that information in advance and been spared a bad hire.

    I get that you don’t want to put too much weight on a supervisee’s experience, because it’s possible somebody could have a grudge, but I still think this is information that could be really useful to upper management, and I don’t know why so few organizations seek it out.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I would imagine it’s not safe for underlings to speak out against someone higher up, for fear of retaliation.

      1. The Vulture*

        But that’s in large part BECAUSE no one asks, right? I had a boss who was in a similar position – high-ranking enough that his boss had only a bit of time to give him, and no time to give us, but when enough complaints came in that HR felt they had to initiate an investigation (obviously that is a guess of what happened, not in HR), and they asked me directly (they remind me of their no-retaliation policy and let me know to report if I felt there was an retaliation!), and while I wasn’t someone who submitted any complaints, I know I shared a few incidents that I am sure they were interested to hear about. Not everyone did, or were as open as they could have been, but I certainly think they heard a lot more by asking than by not asking.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think this is the idea behind 360 degree reviews, isn’t it?

      I think the issues are that it is very difficult to do it in a way which is truly anonymous, so those in subordinate roles are very cautious about being open and honest, especially in relation to anything negative.

      I think ideally there are mechanisms for feedback so that senior people are more aware of how junior managers are seen, but I think it is hard to do in a formal way.

      I am the part owner of a smallish business and we do try to be aware of how people are perceived but it is mostly down to being approachable and building personal relationships with staff at all levels – together with being open in return to let staff know, at least in general terms, that we are working on solutions if there are issues, or that we are aware of concerns.

      1. Nessun*

        I agree – we do 360 reviews for exactly this purpose. People need a space to provide feedback on how a person performs as a manager/supervisor to them, so that the skill of managing can be assessed from that perspective. I mean, showing you can manage a team to a goal is great, but did your team meet that goal because they were motivated by you, understood the processes needed and the end product, wanted to show their value in the team; it did your team meet that goal because you bullied them into unpaid overtime or shuffled them around to get it all done? A team’s morale is a reflection of the manager (and the boss), and heating from the team directly is important, so no messages are lost or misinterpreted.

      2. Alianora*

        The anonymity issue is huge.

        We did 360s at my workplace recently, and management claimed they would be anonymous, while also asking for specific examples. When I asked how those two things would work together, they didn’t have an answer.

        Turns out they just compiled all the comments into one document and delivered them to us verbatim. So if you gave specific examples, the person was definitely going to know who said it.

        I went in under the assumption that my boss would read what I wrote and know who said it, but I went ahead and gave honest (hopefully tactfully phrased) examples of things I thought she could work on. We’re both pretty straightforward people so I didn’t mind talking to her about it openly afterwards, either. But I think the way we interact is kind of unusual for a boss-employee relationship.

    3. Laura H.*

      To put a more reasonable spin on this. Generally, I don’t know all of what my manager does- I don’t know how well they’re meeting their goals that were set forth by their manager, and it’s not my job to. Upper management also may not be able to make time to get every report’s input on their manager.

      In an ideal world, it’d be nice. But our world isn’t ideal- we have to understand the limitations of other people (and those of physics).

      1. Middle Manager*

        I’ll say as a person in my first time supervisory role, my view of good supervision has changed dramatically since I’ve been in this role for awhile. Speaking for myself, the quality of my feedback on a supervisor prior to being in a supervisory role would have been pretty limited because I simply did not know the extent of the workload, all of the constraints and pressure from above, the HR policy, etc.. I’ve read a lot more extensively on management principles and practices now then I ever had before. Not that my staff don’t have anything to contribute to feedback or I couldn’t give some feedback on my boss, but I think it’s more appropriate in a 360 style look.

    4. NW Mossy*

      At least in hiring, it’s not standard mostly because a lot of organizations don’t hire frequently enough for leadership roles to really get good at it. We tend to become expert in things we do often and get quick, relevant feedback on. Hiring is almost never like this, so people bumble their way through every 2-3 years when it comes up.

      This can be accounted for by having a really thought-out, disciplined process for hiring, but man, that’s rare. It’s really easy to get focused on the vacancy and perceived pressure to fill it quickly, which distracts from the real work – being absolutely sure of what you want and need in the role, and then spending as long as it takes to find that person. I got laughed at for the slow pace of my last hire (the term “turtle” was used), but spending an extra few weeks at the beginning can easily be the difference between an adequate hire and an excellent one. It certainly was in my case – I ended up choosing someone who’s consistently landed at the top of departmental performance rankings every year, and is widely considered to be high potential.

    5. PX*

      I’ve worked for large companies which have formal processes in place, and a 360 review (ie from people above, below and at equal level) was quite common. The results would always be aggregated (there was a points scale and you could add comments if you wanted) so as long as there were more than about 3 people who responded, you didnt really have to worry about being “exposed” if you gave a poor rating. The systems were always run by outside companies so the supervisor could only get the results but couldnt go in to see who did what.

      I’d guess the latter point (finding a way to do it that is fully anonymous for people responding) is the part that poses a problem. And as you often find from reading comments here, most people wont give honest answers out of fear anyway…so the problem continues!

      1. Long drives*

        And then for it to be meaningful, the recipient needs details. Being told, “You should be more flexible”- but then no examples could be given for anonymity- that’s just frustrating.

        1. Middle Manager*

          Definitely a problem with 360s. My last one had some comments that made no sense to me at all, not in a defensive way, in a “I literally don’t know what this means” way. My boss didn’t have any specifics either on it, so I was just left with a frustrating question mark that I couldn’t really do much about.

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

    How much anticipation should I ask my vacactions? I’ve accured five working days so far, and when I asked my boss three weeks beforehand, he told me it wasn’t early enough (?). I’ve never needed more than three weeks of anticipation, but tbh I’ve never have such a well organized job before.

    1. londonedit*

      It sounds like it’s going to be a workplace/boss-specific answer. Where I work, three weeks would be ample time (if it’s just a day off, my boss has no issue with us saying on a Monday ‘Hey, would there be any issue with me taking Friday off this week?’ as long as there’s nothing vital happening). Often, bosses/companies like to have more notice for longer trips – I worked somewhere where the rule was that for anything over a week’s holiday, you had to give a month’s notice – but many places don’t have those rules. Have you asked your boss what the appropriate amount of notice would be?

      1. Dave*

        Yes. Mine is I have to have coverage so it is more about making sure someone else can do my parts while I am out. This can mean planning months in advance and even then getting screwed.

    2. Picard*

      Thats really depends on the workplace. We ask 2 weeks notice but we’re a small company and need to really plan staffing. If someone needs to take a day here or there unexpectedly, its fine to have 24 hr notice as long as they dont have anything with a customer deadline. Most people do try to give as much notice as possible though and especially for longer vacations, you try to get approval as soon as you know you want to be off.

    3. Koala dreams*

      That’s a good question to ask your boss. If your workplace is very formal, they might even have a policy about that.

    4. Bagpuss*

      It depends on the workplace. Where I am, we ask for 2 weeks notice where possible because it means that cover can be planned (esp. for longer absences) but the policy is that whether or not the request is approved will depend on availability / cover so if we can say yes, even if someone is asking with 24 hours notice, we will.

      My sister used to work in a department where holidays had to be booked months in advance, because they were a small, specialised team and the work they did was typically booked in months in advance *and* had very tight, hard deadlines, so for anything more than the odd day, the holiday had to be booked in before external jobs were logged in, which meant that if you wanted a 2 weeks holiday you had to book the time off 12 months in advance. (It was one of the reasons she moved to a different job)

      I would talk to your boss and/or coworkers and ask how much notice they require (and whether it’s different if you are only asking for one day off as opposed to asking for a full week)

    5. TiffIf*

      Three weeks should be enough, but it depends on the company, your work and staffing. If somebody is going to have to cover your work it might be that more notice is needed to shift loads, reset deadlines etc.
      Generally if I a taking one day off I usually give notice on Monday that I’m going to take Friday off or something. When I took a 2 and a half week vacation last year I gave MONTHS of notice in advance–first as a head’s up “sometime in November I’m going to go on a cruise” and then later with more firm dates.

      I’m going to be taking 6 days of vacation starting next Monday and I made the request for 5 days off a month ago and then earlier this week added the sixth day.

      But this will vary from company to company and from boss to boss. Just ask–“How far in advance do you want requests for vacation?”

      And since it might be that one or two days are easy to handle and require less notice, but that a whole week or more needs more significant notice you might ask something like “Is there a difference between how much advance notice you would like for a single day of vacation versus a week or more?”

    6. JustMyImagination*

      Depends on the length of time off requested for my company. They ask for two weeks notice for a day or two and a month’s notice for a week or more.

    7. JustaTech*

      It depends on how long you’re taking off. Every time I’ve taken more than a long weekend I’ve given my boss probably a month’s notice, usually more. And when I took three weeks off a couple of years ago I think I told him about it in general ~6 months before, and gave him the dates ~3 months before.

      But if it’s just a Friday, I might wait until Tuesday to tell my boss.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      Three weeks advance notice for a week off should be more than sufficient. Then again, I work for a company where you can just up and decide to take time off the day before without much issue, so maybe my view is skewed.

      That said, I’m taking Labor Day week off and gave my (now former) manager a heads up at the end of last month. I also told him I was taking the last two weeks of December off then as well, so asking for time off as soon as you know you want it (even if you have yet to accrue all the time) may also be the way to go.

    9. ...*

      We ask for 6 weeks minimum, although if you have something more recent they will allow it if they can. 3 weeks seems sufficient for a asking a day or two off. If you are asking for more than 3 days off, I don’t think 3 weeks is enough notice unless its helping a sick family member or something.

  25. Less Carpal Tunnel*

    Any thoughts on whether I should be blazing through tasks or taking my time with them… if I don’t have much to do at my new position?

    Got a new data entry job due to COVID, where I haven’t been given tasks to work on for the past two weeks other than set up zoom meetings and save PDFs. Been listening to a lot of podcasts while twiddling my fingers at my desk…. But now my supervisor wants me to work on a small project (mostly downloading and printing things) that would probably take me 4-5 hours if I was working on it non-stop.

    In my old job, I would be super fast with my assignments (copy and pasting, saving, data entrying, etc.) but I’d end up with wrist pain and dry eyes because I was super focused. My old boss wanted results ASAP but I’m not sure if I should keep that mindset if my new workplace is a lot more relaxed. I’m torn between doing things super quickly so I can show them that I’m competent or if I should take things slower, as long as I meet the deadline (which is next Tuesday).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you’ve got your answer right here:

      I would be super fast with my assignments (copy and pasting, saving, data entrying, etc.) but I’d end up with wrist pain and dry eyes because I was super focused.

      Just because they’re paying you to work certain hours doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t take natural breaks that your body actually needs in order to not be damaged. Even athletes take breaks to let their muscles heal.

      1. Less Carpal Tunnel*

        I’m a new grad so I’m still not fully aware of workplace norms – but wouldn’t it be strange to only chip at the assignment for like 30 minutes and then do nothing for the next 30 minutes before restarting this cycle? Since I don’t have anything else to do, I feel very uncomfortable knowing that I can’t switch to another assignment to work on… It’s literally either twiddle my thumbs or work on this thing.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Do you have to do nothing, just because you’re not doing data entry? How about doing some reading that’s tangentially or directly related to your job?

        2. WellRed*

          Well, you are also being paid to be available for work. sometimes that means doing nothing.

        3. JustaTech*

          If you did wrist exercises and rested your eyes, would that be different than “twiddling [your] thumbs”? If you worked with machinery or scientific instruments or in a kitchen you’d be spending at least some of your work time on routine maintenance of your work tools. For you, your work tools are your hands/wrists and eyes.
          Get into good, healthy, ergonomic work habits *now*, and they’ll serve you your entire career. That’s just as much a part of work as updating a spreadsheet or waiting for a file to download.

        4. PollyQ*

          A cycle of 30 minutes work, with a 2 minute stretch/rest-you- eyes break, should help greatly with wrist & eye strain. If it doesn’t, then something about your setup needs to change — maybe better seating/screens/mice/keyboards, or perhaps even glasses.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      If you have a job where you don’t do much, WORK SLOWLY. Don’t let them figure out that you are sitting idle a lot because you’re expendable.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Make next year’s filing system, redo your office files, anything that organizes you. I had a job like this—I decided to move files from one cabinet to another, and for an hour or so had files on the floor. Super boss came by, saw the mess, said “she’s working hard, good job!”. No work product but if it looks good to someone. . . .

    4. Koala dreams*

      Don’t work non-stop, take breaks. Also, work on figuring out a setup where you don’t get wrist pain and dry eyes. With the eyes, it can help to take five minutes every hour (or half hour) to look out a window or take a short walk so that you can look at something that’s not on a computer screen. If the problems get worse, it might be useful to work with an ergonomist or an occupational therapist.

      When you work, work in a reasonable pace, not super quick (save that for urgent tasks) and not dragging it out to the last minute either.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      So now is a good time to learn your own personal work pacing.
      Work at a speed that you are able to sustain all day.
      The wrist pain and dry eyes sound like you are hunched over your computer with a very high level of intensity. Take the time to try to learn how to position yourself so you have less pain. Try one thing one day, next day try another thing.

      See, figuring this stuff out consumes time. It will help you stretch your work out AND you will learn something that you will always use for your working life. Under “good to know”, you are still you. So you will always be able to do things with some speed. You will work slower for the time being but once you get your new habits you will build your speed right back up again with the new habits incorporated in your plan.

      I have a silly example, I hope you chuckle knowingly. I have to type in lots and lots of numbers all day long. The numbers drove me nuts. Then one day, I decided that I never really did learn how to touch type on a numeric pad. I found a website on line that allowed me to practice touch typing numbers. (Yeah, I warned ya this was a silly example.) Now when I encounter these numbers (which happens often) I practice what I learned in the video. I am way, way less annoyed by all these numbers and at this stage in life I am actually learning something that is new-to-me. I do feel pretty good about turning that annoying situation around for myself. I still don’t mind if you laugh though…..

  26. Summersun*

    Does anyone know how to get your name out there more as an SME? For example, I see people being quoted or interviewed for trade journals, podcasts, etc., all over LinkedIn.

    1. WellRed*

      Look to industry associations for events that need speakers. I would also look to trade publications to see if you can contribute in some way, even if it’s just being available when they need a source for a story. I have a whole pool of people I can call on for stories.

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

      As others said, but check if there’s any kind of policy at your company about seeming to “represent” the company at external events (e.g. “Developments in XYZ presented by Summersun of Acme Corp “). Most companies I’ve worked at prohibited being quoted, interviewed, presenting etc in any capacity connected with the company without approval of Marketing or someone similar.
      It’s more of a grey area if you are “self-representing” because the people attending/reading would still google you and look you up on Linked In etc and then you’d be connected to ‘your company’.

    3. Generic Name*

      Volunteer to give presentations at local professional orgs and at local and national conferences. They are always looking for people to present. Join committees, working groups and stakeholder groups. Submit comments on new regulations. Keep up with the latest developments in your industry and pass along what you learn to colleagues you know would be interested. If your workplace does annual goals, make this one

    4. Product Person*

      Yes, I became a conference speaker and paid article writer for specialized websites by writing articles in LinkedIn. People liked the articles, started following me, and over time I started to get those invitaions for paid gigs.

  27. Ms. Meow*

    A person in my group was fired last week Wednesday, but my manager wouldn’t tell anyone why. She’s out on vacation this week, so of course the rest of us are pooling what little knowledge we have to fill in the gaps. Here’s what we’ve realized: the person who was fired was put on a PIP in February, meaning it ran out at the end of May. But our HR person who typically handles these things was out on medial leave, so they weren’t able to do anything about the PIP until she got back in July.
    This person was struggling, but in assuming that the PIP rearranged their responsibilities, they really started to thrive! Honestly, in May and June this person really started to succeed and expand their work in the new tasks. It’s so disappointing that they were let go after all of that but it seems that improvement occurred after the official end of the PIP. This all just sounds so off to me, or at least really unfair.
    I don’t want to bombard my manager on Monday when she gets back from vacation, but I really want to ask her more questions. Would that be out of line? Any suggestions on the kinds of questions I can ask aside from “why did you fire them?”

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Don’t. You don’t manage this person, you don’t know all the facts, and “we got together and pieced together what we know” is not going to go anywhere good for you and your coworkers. They might indeed be improving at the work you see them doing, but failing by other measures. Or, they’re doing fine at the reduced responsibilities they have now, but the company wants to hire someone who can handle the whole job. Leave it alone.

      1. valentine*

        Don’t. [ …] Leave it alone.
        Everything I would have said, and more.

        First, stop your sleuthing and recommend others stop as well. Next, find something to take up the energy you’re spending on planning to ask your manager.

    2. Bagpuss*

      It’s normally not your business why someone else was fired.
      I think you probably need to be clear about why you want to know, and approach it in that way.
      So if your worry is that she was fired because the company is having to make cuts, then you can approach your boss to ask whether the company is looking to cut staff, or if you are worried that she appeared to be doing well but was nevertheless fires, you could ask about whether there were any issues with your own performance or anything you need to change / improve (and if your boss if approachable, you can explain that from the outside, it looked like your colleague had made big improvements and was doing well, but then she was fired, so you are all a bit spooked.

      But I don’t think it is appropriate to expect to be given private information about what happened between your coworker and her employer. think about it – if you were disciplined or fired, would you be OK with all of your colleagues knowing all the details?

    3. SomebodyElse*

      The only thing you gain from asking your manager for details is to find out if they are a good manager or not by their response. If they tell you they won’t give you any details they are a good manager. If they give you details they are a bad manager.

      Honestly, why do you want to know? What impact does this situation have on your job? You are assuming a lot here and I would advise you to let this drop.

      1. Ms. Meow*

        Actually… I think you just hit the nail on the head. I don’t have a lot of confidence that my manager handled this properly, and I feel like I want proof. Also, when we were all talking about the situation, it came out that my manager mentioned to a senior person in our group that now that she knows the PIP process works that she’s going to start it on two other people. And I think I’m just shaken.

        Thank you for the insight. I will leave it alone.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      They might not have improved enough. Plus there could have been other problems that you don’t know about.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My mind went to what you said about them thriving now that things have been rearranged.

      After the fact, they could have noticed it’s not sustainable to have this person not handling whatever may have been the “problem” issue. Is someone now taking on their unfair share of those rearranged duties?

      If it’s a major enough task/duty for their job position, it’s something that can’t go on long term. But something that could have been taken off their plate so they could try it out and see if a reorganization would be sustainable.

      But I agree, this isn’t your circus and you have to not dig into it anymore. It’s frustrating but unless the manager has made other faulty decisions before, they have all the facts and you only have your perception.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      What others have said.
      I think what happened was the person was given more than enough time to improve. As the deadline loomed closer than ever, all of the sudden they started doing way better and it was too little too late.
      The manager was not convinced that they would sustain their new ways. For whatever reason the manager believed that if the PIP was removed, the old habits would come right back.

      I see here over and over again what I have often thought, if things progress to a PIP it’s best to assume the person probably will be fired. I’d take that advice to heart. Of course, there are exceptions but it seems to be a consensus here that PIP equals future dismissal.

      When I have seen stuff like this my actual question is NOT about the fired employee. My actual question was, “What can *I* do to prevent this from happening to ME?”
      Early on, I would ask for a chat with the boss for about 10 minutes of their time. [Keep it short.] Once I got that meeting time, I would start the meeting by saying. “I see Jane was fired. I don’t want to talk about Jane. I want to talk about ME. I don’t want to find myself in Jane’s position. I like it here and I want to actually keep my job. Do you have any advice for me and my setting that would help to ensure that I don’t end up like Jane?”

      FYI, the way the boss treats Jane telegraphs how the boss will treat you if something goes awry. You don’t want the boss explaining to everyone what all you did in order to get fired.

  28. Jennifer*

    Hey y’all

    I’ve been dying to know what you all think about this whole Ellen show situation. If you aren’t familiar, there’s an article entitled “Former Employees Say Ellen’s “Be Kind” Talk Show Mantra Masks A Toxic Work Culture” that can get you up to speed.

    Is it really possible for a boss to have no idea that their employees feel they are in a toxic environment, because that’s what she’s claiming?

    Do you think toxic workplaces are more of a problem in Hollywood because of how society worships the rich and famous and let’s them get away with murder? Or are they as bad everywhere? I realize that many people have experienced toxic work environments, but these employees are alleging that they are not allowed to talk to Ellen unless spoken to or to look her in the eye, and that there would be severe repercussions if you went to her office. Her producers were cruel to their underlings because she felt she was too good to be involved in the day to day operations of the show.

    Thoughts?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is it possible for a boss to shove her head into the sand and ignore all the obvious signs the workplace is toxic? Sure. But if the boss actually wants to know what’s going on, and it is impossible for that to all go under the radar for 15+ years. Plus, Ellen is such a big name, if she wanted to fire the toxic people, she could get better people. It’s the same for Pinterest (same image of “nice” with major toxicity, and a supposedly clueless CEO).

    2. Picard*

      Yes yes and yes.

      I think its very possible for bosses to have no clue about the atmosphere and culture under them.
      I think Hollywood especially is very susceptible to this.
      I think they can be just as bad anywhere depending on the workplace.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah I think it’s possible it’s slightly worse in Hollywood simply because when the boss is a celebrity and the face of the entire operation, it’s hard to hold her accountable.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I’m not even shocked. Rumors of this stuff have been going around for years.

      Toxic is toxic, it’s just more likely to be bad in Hollywood. It was reiterated to me a lot in school that if you get power, you become an asshole.

    4. Lucky*

      Ellen herself is well-known in television production circles to be a toxic, mean person. Like, there’s a saying that you don’t truly become a Los Angeleno until you’ve been at a party and someone has mentioned Ellen and everyone joins in a circle to tell their Ellen-is-terrible stories. So, toxic boss doesn’t recognize that workplace is toxic? Not that surprising to me.

    5. Ashley*

      I think bosses can be ignorant to what is a toxic workplace because they don’t appreciate the definition of a toxic workplace. It doesn’t mean the place isn’t toxic it can just mean the boss thinks it is ok. If some of the stuff coming out it true I definitely think the buck should stop at the top because she should have known better and had a culture where there were channels to report problems.
      In some ways I think Hollywood can be worse (Harvey W, Bill C, etc) but I also think it makes the news a lot more often so there are probably a bunch of companies and industries with their own issues that can hide their problems better.

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      I guess I’d always thought of people like Ellen as sort of the “CEO” of their show, in a bucks stops here kind of way. They’re so involved in the creative side of things, so shouldn’t they seen some of the toxic shit going on? Shouldn’t they have heard the rumors at least?

      On the flip side, the whole industry has such a terrible reputation for toxicity, abuse, and taking advantage of people; and I wonder if people get so used to it that they don’t even see a problem when it’s right in front of them. Sort of like we’ve talked about here, where being in a toxic workplace for too long warps employees’ sense of what’s right and wrong.

    7. Scourge of Incompetent Management*

      Ellen DeGeneres is an actress and a standup comedienne by trade. In other words, she gets paid a lot of money to pretend to be someone she really isn’t, and she’s really good at it. My hypothesis is that the “Be Kind” mantra is part of the character she’s playing now: she knows her audience, so she knows “Be Kind” is what sells now, so that’s the on-screen persona she adopts. That character may or may not be consistent with the kind of person she really is.

    8. Kara S*

      I worked on film sets before I am in the career I have now and this kind of abuse is sadly not uncommon. I once had a friend screamed at by a producer because she left a garage door open and, when retelling the story to me, she (the friend) thought the producer was completely justified. After all, my friend had made a mistake. I was only on set for a year and encountered misogyny in nearly every work environment, as did every woman I knew working in the industry. Another friend had her department lead borderline stalk her, call her at all hours of the night, and scream at her when she didn’t answer the phone during off-hours. She was paid for maybe 80 hours of work a week and was regularly pulling 100+ hour weeks (and was on call 24/7). A lot of tolerated behaviour on film sets would be defined as toxic.

      People are yelled at for sitting down. You can’t ever look at your phone or have it on you. You can be fired for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For eating when you shouldn’t be. For being in the bathroom at an inconvenient time.

      In Ellen’s case, I believe she knew about these situations and thought they were normal or didn’t care. The industry overall is quite toxic.

      1. Jennifer*

        That is so sad. I think that finally people are starting to push against the norm in that industry. Whether it’s racism, misogyny, or just plain old cruelty. A person isn’t lesser because they have a lower title or make less money. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. There’s a difference between being a firm boss and being cruel. A lot of people are going to have to change because people just aren’t going to stand for it anymore.

        I think what triggered it is seeing all these celebrities and corporations post these fake comments online in support of black lives matter, despite how shabbily they’ve treated their black employees. Now everyone, regardless of race is pushing back against poor treatment.

        1. Kara S*

          I hope it changes! I wanted to work in film my entire life and quit after a year because there was no way to have a career without experiencing awful working conditions. The only sets I enjoyed/still enjoy working on are those where it’s just myself and friends.

          Another fun story: I had one instance where I was a set dresser/production design head on a short film set. I brought my boyfriend in for the day as an assistant. Not only were the producers/director suddenly so friendly when they had been essentially bullies up until then, but they would only speak to him or give him direction on what was needed. They only spoke with me to tell me I was doing something wrong. The other assistant I brought in (a woman) was hit on constantly and said she wouldn’t come back for the last day of shooting.

    9. Cabin in the Woods*

      I think it’s totally possible for a CEO to be willfully ignorant, but I would still say the CEO is responsible for the work environment. Just as in harassment, if there is reasonable evidence that leadership “knew or should have known” about misconduct based on reports or how widely it is practiced in the workplace, then they should be held liable. This might seem scary to supervisors as they think, how am I supposed to know what’s going on in every dark corner of my organization?? Well that’s the point. It should scare them into implementing policies and procedures that will encourage reporting of bad behavior and foster an environment where employees will not tolerate that behavior, as they know that leadership takes it seriously and addresses reports of misconduct appropriately. As a side note about Ellen, I’m not surprised but I am disappointed in the reports. I am a fan of her 90s stand up, but EVERY TIME I have seen her in an interview or heard her interviewed on a podcast, she comes across as cold and generally not pleasant to talk to. I remember watching her episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and she just seemed so uninterested in being there, and didn’t really seem to be enjoying conversing with another person. Maybe she just has a personality that comes across weird if you don’t know her? Or maybe her years of being “cancelled” for coming out and just generally being eviscerated by society in the 90s and early 2000s has made her into a cynical and detached person. I don’t think she’s an evil person by any means, but she very well could have fostered that toxic environment.

      1. Wintergreen*

        I think a good portion of this could be that her trade is comedy, not business. And she “grew-up” in the world of stand-up comedy which I’ve been led to believe is horribly toxic behind the scene, especially for women. I really don’t think she would know what a healthy business world would look like to know that what her producers were fostering was so not that. The buck may stop with her because it is her show, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a willful act on her end.
        I have enjoyed her show but, yeah, I’ve gotten the odd vibes from her every now and then. I doubt that we would get along in person. That doesn’t discount that she is good at her job of comedy and entertainment. Just that I won’t jump at the chance to get coffee with her. And if she is a good and nice person or not, I think SHE believes she is a nice person or at least tries to be nice and that is really all we should ask of each other.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          The buck may stop with her because it is her show, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a willful act on her end.

          Nah, many people have said that she herself has said nasty, problematic things to people she feels are beneath her. It’s no wonder her producers emulated her behavior.

    10. Observer*

      I have not been following this very deeply, but I did see an article where one person commented “she did not want to know.” That’s quite possibly true. And in her position, there are typically people whose job is essentially to accommodate that desire, if that’s what’s really going on.

      But it’s still her fault.

    11. The Vulture*

      I’ve read some of stuff she said, the statement she made about this and stuff in the past and honestly it feels like it is her. Comes from the top and all that – I think she talks a good game but it rang some bells for me – talk about “Everyone is going to be kind, no one is going to shout, everyone is going to be happy”. Well, some of those aren’t possible, it takes a big of an ego to think everyone is going to be happy, or that that’s the goal. That and a couple other things in her statement – just saw a few flags that made me think her expectations aren’t aligned with reality, and a bit that she comes across as inflexible and insistent in ways that me feel like, well, yeah, this is partly her.

      But yes, certainly part of it is our toxic hero-worship culture and the fact that people literally around them act as if the talent is important and everyone else is disposable – but it’s still partly on her if she bought into that or let that happen around her.

    12. JKP*

      My boyfriend was actually on the Ellen show once. He’s not a celebrity, he was brought on to donate his professional services to a kid she had brought on the show.

      He spoke with Ellen briefly before the show and spent time with the rest of the crew during the taping. His impression was that Ellen was very kind and down to earth, more like a normal regular person than a celebrity. He thought everyone he met on the show were wonderful, and all the stuff in the news now doesn’t match his experience then.

      I know it’s a brief experience, so he obviously doesn’t have the full picture. And it was a few years ago, so things could have changed. Maybe it used to be good, and then turned toxic.

    13. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      I wonder how much interaction Ellen had with off screen staff. I doubt that Ellen had a HR role in the production except for on screen activities. She was probably in a show induced bubble and sheltered from most of the day to day back stage activities.

      I have a friend who played major league baseball and he described to me how he never got a moments peace. He could not go out for dinner, walk through a shopping mall or eat at a restaurant without someone asking for an autograph, asking for a picture (pre cell phone selfie) or just saying hi and shaking his hand. It was stressful for his wife and kids and a pain in the @$$ for him. He was far from a super star and although his salary was substantial, it was nowhere near what similar skill players make today.

      Image how difficult it is for someone with the star appeal as Ellen and how she never gets a moment of peace unless dictated by the people who run her show. It does not excuse a work experience with a toxic atmosphere, but explains how it gets there.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Decades ago, I heard another Very Famous talk show host was very disliked in their area of residence. A relative lived near by and heard the rumors that Host was nothing but a nasty, nasty person. Again, this is a person making big bucks on “being nice”. This person is still on tv.

      They have a stage persona. Then they have their real personality. I do think that entertainment arena eats people up and spits them out. I think they grow callused and their hearts shut off to some extent. But it seems to be necessary to survive in the arena.

      I have never watched Ellen. Early on I saw ads for her show and I picked up on a vibe that she is a harden person. So I never tuned in. Just my opinion and just my sense of what I saw. This news does not surprise me.

  29. peppermintea*

    I’m working from home full time indefinitely right now. For my current project, I’m spending more than 50% of the day in virtual client meetings. Usually a few team members from both sides are on the call, and we take turns leading the discussion. I’m finding these meetings increasingly exhausting and find myself losing focus if I’m not leading. This was never an issue before when the meetings were in person.

    Does anyone else experience virtual meeting fatigue? Any suggestions on how to combat it?

    1. beanie gee*

      Ugh, definitely virtual meeting fatigue. I find if I offer to take notes when I’m not presenting, it helps me focus on the meeting and not space out. And then the person presenting is usually appreciative.

      That or I just multitask…

      But I definitely try to stay far away from a computer once I’m done with work. No more zoom happy hours for me!

    2. Kathenus*

      One thing that helps me is to remember how much better I like virtual meetings than when they were all in person. In these I can eat or drink, multi-task if my full attention/involvement isn’t needed, etc. So I definitely get the fatigue part of it, remembering it’s better than when I had to sit in a conference room for an hour or two for each helps my mindset about them.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I totally get this. My solution is to take notes. Sometime copious notes when a meeting is really boring or I’m really having trouble focusing. (And as a good example of losing focus, I often read over my notes after the meeting and don’t even remember half of what was said! But some part of my brain had taken over and it is written down, so I have the info if I need it later.)

      1. Girasol*

        If you’re not on camera, solitaire. It doesn’t take so much focus that you lose track of the meeting and but it’s enough to keep your mind from wandering to something that would be distracting.

    4. Hillary*

      I got a standing desk – it means I can still move a bit when I’m on video. When I don’t have to do video, sometimes I do hobby stuff (mainly sewing) with my hands.

  30. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    Therapy for a pattern of sabotaging yourself on job applications? Is that a thing?

    I found out about a very rare job in my exact field of academic study, doing a project and using methods that were very similar to what I did. For various reasons I gave up on any hope of pursuing research in that field years ago, and I haven’t even thought about it for a long time. Still, I chatted with an acquaintance who works on the project about it, started to fill in the application form, and then… got distracted and forgot about it until the day before it was due, put together a *very* rushed and embarrassingly half-assed application, and submitted it.

    I have done something like this to myself over and over. Almost every job application is like pulling teeth to get through, and I always wait until the last possible moment and do a terrible job. Then I feel depressed and mad at myself because my career is going nowhere and it’s because I don’t put in the work.

    Has anyone seen a counselor or something for this kind of behaviour? Did it help?

    1. Picard*

      Have you ever been evaluated for ADD/ADHD? Or any type of anxiety disorder? Perfectionists tend to struggle with this type of thing. If you cant have it perfect, you procrastinate until you (as you put it) half ass the job. Then if it fails, you can tell yourself well I didnt really TRY.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Do you have a larger pattern of procrastination and distraction? It honestly sounds like it could be ADD/ADHD related, you might consider getting screened for that. Anxiety is also a possibility — seeing a counselor or getting some general screenings is *never* a bad idea, IMHO – it gives you more information and a possible direction.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I am certainly not a therapist, but if you are half-assing things you genuinely care about, I would think you are afraid to get a legit no. As in, you put your best foot forward and didn’t even get an interview. Or you get phone-screened out. Or you get down to you and one other candidate and they go with the other. Those are super disappointing situations that can make you question your qualifications. Doing such a crap application that it doesn’t “really” count allows you to keep telling yourself that you’re great at what you do and anyone would want to hire you. But that method will truly limit you, as you clearly already know. I think a therapist will delve into WHY you do this. Me? I’d hire a coach that wouldn’t let me crap out of my next application.

    4. maggggghie*

      I, too, just *love* having ADHD. The lack of executive functioning is a real pain in the behind. Honestly, there’s no great way to get over this baseline inability to initiate a new task without the looming pressure of “If I don’t do this, RIGHT NOW, something actually bad will happen.”

      One thing I have found occasionally (but now always) helpful is the “Just start”. I set a timer for five minutes, because you can do anything for five minutes, and just start something. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the task, it can be anywhere. One of the main things people with ADHD struggle with is planning – what are the steps, what is the order of the steps, what materials do I need, how do I go about getting the materials, etc – but at least I am often much better at drawing big picture connections, so I typically just start writing down whatever it is I am thinking about the task. So for example, in a job application like this, instead of starting at the beginning of the cover letter and painstakingly make my way through each sentence from start to finish, agonizing over if I have used to many commas (usually) or whatever, I might just write down in a blank word doc “here’s why i think i would be good at this: i am excellent at talking to old people and and i enjoy teaching so blah blah blah.”

      After the first five minutes are over, I immediately set a timer for another five minutes and keep working. After then, it’s 10 minutes. Each time, I tell myself that if I really can’t work on it at all, I will be kind to myself and take a break, and not feel guilty about taking a break. Nearly 2/3 of the time I would say though, I want to keep going. I’m in it now.

      So anyway, yes, working with a therapist who specializes in executive dysfunction can really give you a ton of skills to help get out of those frozen states, and also teach you to show yourself compassion for when you can’t get out of them to end the vicious cycle of procrastination and shame.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Is it only job applications, or is it other stuff, too?
      If it’s specific to jobs and other high-stakes situations, there may be something going on to discuss with a therapist.

      If you also have trouble keeping on top of routine stuff, like housework, losing/misplacing things, being late or forgetting appointments, getting lost driving, forgetting birthdays or anniversaries, social awkwardness due to being too loud/too intense, or “spacing out” and losing track of conversations, having lots of projects you never can seem to finish— look into doing the WHO’s self-report assessment for ADHD.

      It’s just a PDF questionnaire you can find a lot of places online.

      It might be a question for your doctor, rather than a therapist.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Is it forgetfulness, or is it avoidance? I find that I struggle with large, complicated things (e.g. grant application) because the damned thing is just too big – my brain loads up all the dependencies and all the unknowns, and then throws up its metaphorical hands in despair and refuses to go anywhere near it. When I know that there will be someone explicitly judging my work at the end, that just cranks it all up to 11.

      For me, the only thing that works is a strict separation between project planning and project doing. I can almost convince myself that planning is all a thought exercise. Present Me will never have to do any of this! Sucks for Future Me, but that’s her problem. I also have to do work that is assigned by Past Me, but she has thoughtfully figured out what I should do and how I should do it, I just need to turn the crank.

      It’s not ADHD, and yeah, I’m like this with everything. It’s anxiety – thinking about doing that large, ill-defined hairball of a task is anxiety provoking, so I don’t want to think about it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      While you are considering therapy, why not take some steps to make things different for yourself?

      I love, love, love suggestions I have read here.

      Craft a general resume, keep it in a docx file and alter it as needed.

      Save the altered resume and cover letter in a file with the title of the employer as the file name. You can also put the ad in this file.

      I also keep hard copies because I can glance over a hard copy faster than finding it on my computer.

      Steal wording from previous resumes and cover letters to create your current response to an ad.

      I also like to keep my desk straightened up so it’s easier to concentrate on writing.

      To launch your general resume, use a few resumes you already have and put that info on one resume.

  31. Accounting Otaku*

    About two weeks ago, I along with most of my office were given 2 months notice that we would be losing our jobs. It’s sad, but some of us saw the writing on the wall a while ago, but were holding on thanks to COVID-19. My question is this: How does one not just check out during these final few weeks? I’m finding it very hard to care about my work now. AP is just flat out dropping everything. How do you mark time while still not leaving things in disarray as you leave?

    1. Alex*

      Think of your current work as adding to your resume. What can you be proud of in the next two months? What would you like to tell future interviewers about this time? This is going to be the springboard to whatever is next for you, so it DOES matter–just in a different way.

      1. Accounting Otaku*

        I’ve been given on project yesterday to accomplish before I leave. Boss is willing to take a good chunk of my duties off my plate to give me time for it. It’s given me some vindictive joy to get this project because it’s been pulled off of the people in Dallas that are supposed to be absorbing my duties.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There ya go. Do a bang up job. It might come in handy later that you can say you rocked it.
          If working for your resume doesn’t carry you all the time, you can also tell yourself that you have to live with yourself. Do enough so you believe you have done a quality job even when others have totally failed. Grace under fire. Be proud of your grace.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        In some instances, depending on the size and location of the company and the number of people being laid off, it may be a legal requirement to give 60 days paid notice. It’s up to the company to decide whether those 60 days need to be working or non working.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Been there and done that (and am still looking for a new job). Try framing your last 60 days as a single assignment to put things in order and make a graceful exit. You will still need good references, and it’s a good time to work on building and/or reinforcing your professional network. It wasn’t easy to do, but in my case it led directly to a new job offer (which was unfortunately rescinded thanks to Covid, but that’s a different story!)

      1. Accounting Otaku*

        References are not a factor in this at all. My good references are coming from people quit this company within the last few months. One was my direct supervisor. My current supervisor has only been my supervisor since April, and wouldn’t have a good telling of my work anyway.

        Honestly, I give this company another year, two years max before it goes under. When they bought my company out, they started making terrible decisions and not listening to our expertise. It’s been entertaining watching them shoot themselves in the foot.

        1. Observer*

          Maybe not formal references, but people talk to each other and you never know who is going to meet who down the road.

          So, to the extent you can leave a good impression behind.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Going to echo this- while calling references for a recent hire, one was effusive about praising their work and dedication to finish projects while knowing their position was going to end. This told me about what kind of worker they’d be in situations we encounter here that might make other folks check out.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      At my last job, when the hammer came down, we were given the option to leave early if we had all our work complete. I volunteered because I was in a good place financially (wife makes more than I do and her company supplies my insurance). Doing so not only got me into the job market earlier, it also allowed the others in my department to avoid early RIFs, and stay on the company insurance for another six months.

  32. Free Meerkats*

    I’m in the reference checking stage for a new hire and completely expect management to make an offer late this week. And from our conversations, I fully expect they will accept.

    Then we need to figure out how to bring a new person on board in plague times. Though much of our work is office work, much is in the field. Normally, one of us would get in the truck with the new person and drive around the city showing them the layout of the system and the users we regulate. Rinse and repeat with the other inspectors, as we have different accounts and different views of the system. New city safety rules requires us to have one person per vehicle when possible. Training on operating our equipment (though they have used some of the same things in their current job) requires heads close together.

    So I’m looking for ideas.

    1. Summersun*

      For the first part, what about driving around in two vehicles, the new guy following, and talking on walkies during?

      1. pancakes*

        Or cell phones. I’ve never used a walkie talkie but when I’ve passed by people shouting into them the sound quality seems terrible.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      The driving-and-talking idea is interesting, but I’d be concerned about safety/liability of driving while distracted.

      Would it be feasible to drive separately to specific locations and do walking tours/training? Walking would also mimic the usual training system while allowing social distancing, plus it’s safer than driving and using a cell or radio.

    3. PX*

      This might seem a bit wild but your first problem sounded to me like something an audio recording could solve? Basically like how you go to a museum and there is a guided audio tour, could you drive/walk the route you would take them on, record yourself talking as you do it and then share with them the recording + map and do a guided tour type thing?

      On the equipment, not sure there’s anything else other than masks and/or video training again….?

    4. JustaTech*

      Is there any part of the equipment training you could film to have them watch first, so you don’t have to spend as much time crouched over the whatsit?
      It’s not a perfect solution (trying to do video training on some new equipment has been a nightmare at my work) but if you can do the “introductory” bit, showing all the parts and whatnot, that might reduce the amount of time you need to be standing so close.

    5. CheeryO*

      This might be too goofy, but maybe do the normal rounds yourself and either record it with some training instructions using your phone or a GoPro or have the new person call in with video to observe? We’ve experimented with virtual inspections in the NYC area, and it’s better than nothing.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Double masking. A cloth or similar mask then a face shield.

      The rules do say when possible, so it sounds like you could take two vehicles around the city but for actual training go with double masking?

  33. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Anyone have any ways to procastination proof themselves? I myself am sitting outside the office procrastinating again. I did so well yesterday and was able to even focus for two hours, but today I dragged out of bed, and spent time watching WAP( a new song what it stands for isn’t worksafe) and just have not been able to get going…

    1. Web Crawler*

      The most foolproof way is therapy (at least in my experience) or a lot of introspection. Basically, you need to figure out why you’re procrastinating and what you can do for yourself to replace the pattern of procrastination with a more effective pattern.

      Because procrastinating out of anxiety is gonna have a different solution than procrastinating from ADHD or not having the energy to do your job.

      1. Web Crawler*

        Forgot to say that my problem is anxiety. Basically, a task seems scary so I avoid it for “just 5 minutes” in order to “prepare myself” for doing the scary thing. Except that avoiding a scary thing makes it seem scarier- you’re essentially reinforcing the belief that you can’t do it. So 5 minutes turns into 15 minutes turns into 3 hours and I usually need some kind of outside force (like a coworker messaging me with a question or talking to my partner) before I can re-engage.

        So the solution for me (on top of anxiety meds and putting my phone far away from my desk) is to just do the thing for a few minutes and then take a break. That way the anxiety around the task doesn’t grow and make working impossible.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I might have to get my therapist on this. It seems like a combination of anxiety and ADD. I think about doing the thing but can’t make myself do the thing

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My wise friend pointed out that if we do too much one day, the next day might not be so productive. So you can watch the highs and lows. Pace your work so you are expending roughly the same amount of energy every day.

      I am a big fan of getting up at the same time seven days a week. I do let myself nap later if I need to. However, taking the option to sleep in off the table was a big game changer for me. Of the many things that happened was I learned to go to bed on time. ha!

      Another little trick i use to keep me from stalling is I involve other people. If I know I have to meet with Sue at 9 then that means tasks 1-5 MUST be finished by then or else I will fall way behind. Poor Sue has no clue that she is playing a huge role in my accountability to myself.

  34. Tuckerman*

    I’m working from home early morning to mid afternoon and my husband is working around my hours (his job is suited to evening/weekends). He watches our toddler while I work and I watch her while he works (out of the house, 25-30 hours/week).

    Sometimes my day is slow and I browse news sites/ work on ideas for projects that aren’t really urgent.
    I want to go out and relieve him from time to time but if an email comes through, I’ve got to get right back to work so I don’t know how helpful it is for me to pop out, just to need to go back in. Sometimes it causes more disruption. Once our daughter sees mom’s available, it can be hard to redirect her when I need to get back to work.

    I do take short breaks throughout the day and help with some things, and if I don’t have meetings he can go out running/work in the garden and I can listen out while she naps. Admittedly, it’s hard to get out of mom mode sometimes and if they’re watching TV all morning or if she’s upset I’ll pop out and ask what they plan to do with the rest of the day.

    My husband’s a great dad and he loves spending time with her. But toddlers can be difficult and when I’m home all day with her, I know it can be challenging. Any ideas how I can help keep this balanced? This is the arrangement for the foreseeable future.

      1. Tuckerman*

        There’s definitely some communication there but could probably be more and framed as a bigger picture. We talk about my meeting schedule each day and he’ll ask whether there’s a break so he can do a,b, or c. Sometimes it’s feasible, sometimes it’s not.

        I think I tiptoe around the bigger conversation because of his own relationship with his dad, he never wants to say anything negative about parenting. So if I ask him what I can do to make the day easier, I think he may take that an insult to his parenting because of course he’s happy to be with her all day.

        The other issue is that when the pandemic started, I was working from home and doing all the childcare while he took an essential job outside the house and that caused a ton of stress for me. So I think he doesn’t want to put that stress back on me.

        1. valentine*

          he’ll ask whether there’s a break so he can do a,b, or c.
          Where’s your relief when he’s at work? (Or ever? Because you’re disrupting your work to ask about their day. Are you worried about something? What if you leave them to it?) If you can’t bring in a third party so both of you can do other things while no one interrupts the worker, then he should accept parenting time is just that. He can run with a stroller (See: Captain Awkward letter #1265) and give the kid a project nearby, or have her help while he gardens. This is a good time for him to get creative.

          Find a way to get out of mom mode and let him have the parenting time. He needs the practice, so both of you aren’t reinforcing that you’re the primary, on-call 24/7, always interruptible parent.

          1. BRR*

            This seems a bit extreme. I fully acknowledge their is a huge sexist history in parenting, but it’s a really reasonable question given that Tuckerman stated they work from home and have breaks and their husband works out of the house and that a short break from watching a toddler is always appreciated.

            1. valentine*

              Actual breaks should be used as such and not unnecessarily sacrificed to child care. But these aren’t breaks, so much as slow periods or gaps between urgent tasks. Is it so terrible if hubs behaves as though Tuckerman isn’t home?

    1. Laura H.*

      Small things that can be done ahead of time/ the night before?

      Laying snacks out for the toddler that dad has access to? Maybe packing dinner leftovers as a heat and eat for husband during your workday?

      Small things that help him out help fill that want you have to assist while allowing you to be available for your work needs. Ask him too.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Dishes… My husband and I have a similar arrangement, and I am making a point to do dishes or other small 5-minute chores. The stuff that doesn’t take much actual time, but takes a lot of brain space to remember them. The list for us is: Load / unload dishwasher, take out trash, take out recycling, laundry into washer / dryer, pick up socks. Our kid drops socks at an astounding rate. For a toddler, picking up a play area after she’s moved on would be on the list.

        Some kids enjoy ‘short parent time’, where you come out, set a timer, and say, I can play until the timer goes off, what do you want to do? I usually did something physical, like swinging him or jumping, but you would definitely want to loop dad in on that, so that you know whether ‘excited kid!’ is in his comfort zone.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        Dad can lay out the snacks.
        Dad can set up leftovers for himself/fix lunch for himself and kid.
        Dad can do it.

        Not that you can’t be doing things like this for him — if you two are doing things FOR EACH OTHER.

    2. Cabin in the Woods*

      Before childcare opened back up, I had a very similar schedule with my husband/kids. I work in the office (our bedroom) from 8am – 1pm, then he leaves for work and I watch the kids for the rest of the day, while ALSO continuing to work on the computer until 5pm (I usually tried to front load my days so all urgent tasks/concentration tasks were done in the morning). So I understand the urge to come out and “help” when you hear a child melting down, or if you think maybe there is a little too much screen time going on. However, I think it’s best to just lock yourself in your work area and not interrupt as much as possible. Or limit your interruptions to planned breaks, like you come out and visit for 10-15 minutes mid-morning, and then again at “lunch time,” and then reinforce that when you are back at work, you cannot be interrupted. I had to even lock our door a few times to prevent the kids from coming after me. Ultimately I think the interruptions to “help” can make the other parent feel undermined, like you don’t trust them to do a good job. Both the kid and the dad need to learn how to deal with hiccups during the day without mom coming to the rescue. If you need to, maybe try listening to music or something, even white noise like ocean sounds, in order to help drown out outside noise.

  35. Pepperwood*

    TLDR below: my job was posted on a hiring site when I was told they’re hiring for a distinctly different position on our overwhelmed team, my boss didn’t do what she said she did while covering for me when I was out on PTO and it came back to me, and her tone’s been pretty terse/rude towards me lately in meetings in front of my direct report. I’m trying to determine how to bring up the job posting with her given all this. Any advice, other than excessive documentation?

    My role has been challenging due to workload and that it was very different than my previous jobs; I’m doing the best I can in the circumstances, but am dealing with burnout from months of trying to make it work – accessing EAP, asking for help, voicing concerns to my boss, etc. And now the job posting thing – I helped develop and review them so there’s no mistaking that it’s my job and not the one they told us they’re recruiting for.

    I was out on PTO recently and had sent a list of project statuses and tasks on deck before I was out. This is the first multiple-days block of PTO I’ve used since I started this job almost a year ago, and I intended to enjoy it by not checking email and actually enjoying my time off. I come back on Monday and my boss tells me she’s completed X and Y for me, but didn’t get a chance to look at A or B last week which are time sensitive, and due while she’ll happen to be out on PTO.

    I get an email from a client Tuesday asking for X that my boss had told me she’d done, but when I ask her and forward the client’s email, it turns out she actually never sent it out. She also didn’t copy me on any of the internal emails in the final approval process for X, which is highly unusual because she’s a firm advocate in copying everyone on our team so we’re all on the same page in situations like this. Y is of a similar scope, and sure enough, she didn’t send it out to the client like she told me. Okay, strange. She’s super busy too, might have been simple oversight.

    In our team’s weekly meeting, in an effort to get clarification on priorities since A and B are due soon and my boss has been adding other time-sensitive things to our already full plates when she’ll be unavailable to help while she’s out, she gets defensive and berates us for getting a late start on B (again, we’re swamped and she didn’t look at it at all while I was out). No solutions offered.

    She then pulls my direct report away from A and B to work on something else that she’d told us could wait until the end of the month, but doesn’t tell me this directly – my direct report has to reach out and let me know that they’ll be unavailable while working on this new task.

    I’m just at a loss. Been trying all I can to be upfront and communicate often and look into strategies for myself and my team to stay organized, and this all took the little wind I still had completely out of my sails. Not sure this situation is salvageable to be honest.

    1. Picard*

      Hope youve updated your resume…
      No seriously, she is sabotaging you (intentionally or unintentionally I dont now)
      Have you followed up on everything she said was done? If not, I would. You can do it under the guise of ” I want to make sure I have this for my records/the customer file/whatever”
      Then I would make a project list of everything on your plate in the order in which you think it needs to be done and an estimate of when you think you can get it done with the current resources (none) that you have. Schedule a meeting with her to go over this in detail and then follow up with an email confirming your conversation.

      1. Pepperwood*

        Thanks, Picard. My intuition’s leading me to the same, sadly. Resume’s been updated and I haven’t reached out to my network yet but it’s the next logical move I feel. The anxiety is just insane. Good advice on following up on those other items and email confirmations too.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Yep. If there’s anything you want to keep long-term (performance evaluations, notes from trainings or skills learned on the job, contact info for colleagues, etc.) get them securely saved at home ASAP. Meanwhile, make sure anyone you may want to use as a reference sees you doing due diligence to (try to) do your job well.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      It may not matter… but it struck me so I’ll ask. Do you normally delegate things up to your boss when you are out instead of delegating down to your direct report. That seems odd, but could be normal in your workplace or needed for reasons.

      1. Pepperwood*

        Totally get that it can sound off. Yeah, based on the projects we deal with it’s normal for us.

  36. JustaTech*

    A good news thing!
    My company listened to what people are worried about right now (kids and school) and decided to take all the old laptops and update them and give them to folks who need computers for their kids to do remote schooling!

    It’s smart business sense (if kids don’t go to school in person they’re less likely to get COVID and pass it to their parents who then miss work), and it’s a really kind thing to do (and it improves morale and builds loyalty).

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yay! Companies that realize their employees are valuable assets and take steps to value them.

    2. Middle Manager*

      That’s a really great move! Go your company!

      I hope some businesses will also think about doing that and donating to community centers etc for low income families without the resources. I’d imagine it could be good for them as a tax deduction and hopefully help a little with the way this pandemic is expanding education inequities.

  37. JerryTerryLarryGary*

    Non-USA peps- what work advice has Alison given that absolutely wouldn’t fly in your culture?

    1. londonedit*

      Mainly, the whole ‘it’s a courtesy to give two weeks’ notice but you don’t have an obligation to’ thing. I’m in the UK and standard notice periods are one month, with many people at more senior levels having a three-month notice period. Notice periods are set out in the letter/contract that you sign stating that you agree to the company’s terms of employment when you start a job, so you can’t just leave without giving the required notice (well, I suppose you could, but it would be a Big Deal and in 17 years I’ve never heard of anyone doing it unless it’s a ‘you’re not being fired, because that’s a very involved process and you haven’t done anything sack-worthy, but can we agree that it might be best if you sought employment elsewhere’ sort of situation).

      1. Esme*

        so you can’t just leave without giving the required notice (well, I suppose you could

        Actually, you kind of can’t – it’s breach of contract and your employer needs to agree to let you go without working your notice.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I mean, if you were hit by the lottery bus you wouldn’t be able to give notice, but in nearly all other circumstances it would burn your bridges with napalm, and you’d be pursued for any payment in lieu of notice (assuming your notice period is longer than leave accrued). I have a vague idea that you could even be on the hook for their additional costs during what would have been your notice period, such as hiring and training up a temp.

          1. Bagpuss*

            You *could* be pursued for breach of contract including the costs of coverage but in practice it is not normally something an employer would do, and they would only be able to claim the additional costs (I.e. how much more it cost them to pay a temp /locum compared to what it would have cost them to pay you your salary during your notice period.)

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              The main cost you would definitely be on the hook for would be any pay you had had in advance for days after you leave.

              eg paid on 19th for the calendar month, walk out on 20th, if you don’t have any accrued leave they’ll want the money they paid you for 21st-30th.

              I gather it’s much less usual to be paid in advance in the US.

      2. Koala dreams*

        In my (European) country too. You can leave earlier, only a very petty company would take you to court for breaking the contract, but it’s definitely burning a bridge and isn’t common. It works the other way too, if the employer lays you off you are usually expected to work the notice period. (At least one month and sometimes longer.) It’s very weird seeing all these US movies where people are suddently sent home with their flower put in a box, but at least I understand what it’s all about after reading this blog.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I’m in Europe too, and here I’ve never taken a job without signing a contract. Well, apart from the babysitting and berrypicking jobs I did for relatives when I was a teenager and technically too young to work and where they paid me under the table.

    2. Esme*

      UK person here. Let’s see:
      – Sending thank you notes after interviews.
      – Basically writing a personal statement in your covering letter when usually that’s stuff that goes on an application form.
      – Not saying what’s wrong when you are off sick. Seems to be field-dependent but I’ve always had to give brief details and of course a doctor’s note will say what’s wrong at least briefly.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Your doctors notes include what’s wrong?! O_O

        All our doctor’s notes just say “Johnny is under my medical care and is cleared to come to work after X amount of times.” because doctors can’t release anything more than that, that’s not an employment thing though, that’s a medical practices thing.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I don’t understand how it’s helpful to the employer to know what’s going on. It only leads to meddlesome behavior in the long run and severe lack of privacy.

            Granted it’s helpful y’all are contracted employment. Here finding out “Jane is depression” or whatever it may be, means that you’ll be discriminated against because people are bigots towards certain illnesses and fired because you cost too much in health care premiums.

            1. DistantAudacity*

              That’s another difference – because there is, generally, universal health care and not health care tied to your employment, cases like that are impacted differently. Not saying there isn’t discrimination, but at least there isn’t the financial side of it.

              Also, at least in my location the doctor’s notice goes to HR, not your supervisor, and they are not allowed to share details (privacy laws) beyond what is needed for any accommodations.

          1. Anónima*

            Yeah but you have to give it to your employers so the employers find out what it is, which is something that I really hate them knowing. I have in the past with my GP’s consent put asked the GP to put something slightly different because I didn’t want my employers knowing.

      2. Lena Clare*

        Yes, ^this^, plus maternity/ parental leave and health care/ sick leave – although this is not so much “it won’t fly” as it’s not really relevant because the laws are different. Oh and holiday leave is very different too.

      3. JerryTerryLarryGary*

        Does it matter for how long you’re sick? Can you actually get into your gp’s office the same day?

        1. Bagpuss*

          You can self-certify if you are sick for up to 7 consecutive days (including non-working days, so typically 5 working days) and only need a doctor’s note if you are off for longer, so normally yes, you can see a doctor in time.
          The note also just says whether or not you are fit for work (or fit for light work / with adjustments)
          It does say what condition it relates to but not in much detail

    3. allathian*

      Universal single payer healthcare means that people aren’t dependent on their employers for healtcare. This is huge.
      Sure, most big employers have a contract with a private occupational healthcare provider, but that’s so you get seen by a doctor faster if you get sick, this is an advantage both for the employer and the employee.
      Keeping family circumstances a secret during job interviews is also odd, at least in jobs in my current career. Sure, getting hired on a “permanent” basis is tough and many young women especially spend years in their early career in short-term contracts, so it’s not like gender discrimination or discrimination against young adults who could be mothers doesn’t exist. This is improving, though, largely thanks to an increasing number of fathers who elect to take paternity leave.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t know of any European country where full-time employees get less than 3 weeks vacation every year. In most countries it’s considerably more than that and often increases with seniority. (I’ve been working for the government in the Nordics for more than 15 years and I’ve been in my current job for 13 years, I have 38 days paid vacation per year and 3 months’ paid sick leave (if I’m out for longer than that, social services pay).

        In the public sector it’s illegal to fire someone without cause and to hire someone else to do the same job. If you lay someone off for financial reasons, you have to wait at least 6 months until you can hire someone else to do the same job. If the situation improves, you have to offer the job to the person who was laid off first. If they don’t take it (because they’ve found another job), you’re obviously free to hire someone else. But the 6-month period is to prevent employers firing someone on a whim and blaming it on finances. Even firing for cause can be complicated, unless the employee does something criminal. I sometimes feel sorry for the coworkers of a poorly performing employee who suffer because the manager can’t just fire them for poor performance (if the manager won’t manage, that’s a separate issue).

    4. Koala dreams*

      The advice on paid time off is very different. I used to be so confused whenever I read about the one pot PTO. In my (European) country, paid vacation and paid sick leave is obligatory and separate. You are even supposed to call in sick to your work if you fall sick on your vacation, but I never do that. (I give myself vacation from calling in sick when I’m on vacation, haha.) Sick leave is limited to two weeks, but unlike the US system, it isn’t limited on a yearly basis. Instead it’s two weeks for every occurence, so if you are ill two weeks in the spring with the flu, you can take another two weeks in the autumn for severe anxiety, for example. If you are still ill after two weeks, you can apply for sick pay from the state insurance. (Is it insurance if it’s paid from the state? I don’t know any better words for it.) There isn’t any concept of earning sick leave, you have access as soon as you are a permanent employee, and you aren’t supposed to use the maximum amount possible unless you are really, really sick.

  38. Quitter, Quitter: No chicken dinner!*

    So, I just bailed on my Census job. On the one hand, I feel guilty about not sticking with it, but honestly the ongoing pandemic and limited safety measures left me very worried about staying safe. One thin cloth mask and four ounces of hand sanitizer just doesn’t cut it, at least for me.

    I’m set to return my Census kit: iphone 8 and accessories, Census tote and accompanying forms, and the orientation folder with all of my identifying information.

    Has anyone signed up to work the 2020 U.S. Census? If so, how’s it going for you? Do you feel safe?

    1. Pippa K*

      I was an enumerator in a previous Census and found it interesting and mostly enjoyable, but I’d be very reluctant to do it this year, at least in my area. Thank you for doing the work on something so important, but it’s perfectly reasonable for you to chuck it in, in the current circumstances. This census is going to be so badly flawed that it’ll need to have an asterisk next to it in the records, and I’m really dismayed (esp. as a social scientist) to see it wrecked – and by malfeasance more than circumstance.

      1. WFH with CAT*

        +1

        I worked the 2010 Census and had always hope to do so again in 2020, until it became apparent that the process was being deliberately jacked up by the current admin. It’s truly maddening. It’s also personally upsetting to me, as I live in a metro area where we really need everyone to participate and be counted, but many are afraid to do so for obvious reasons.

        To the OP – I’m sorry you can’t continue; it really is important work. But I completely support your decision. This is a dangerous and frightening time to be working with the public, and especially to be walking onto people’s property when you have no idea how they will respond.

  39. Ai*

    Does anyone have any experience with call centers having unrealistic expectations as far as goals? I’ve been at my job for almost 4 months. I work in debt collections. It’s not an ideal job but my husband is in school and I needed to take what I could find with the economy as it is. However, the goals that are set seem really unrealistic. For example, we are supposed to make a certain amount of outbound calls per day. Even working at my very fastest pace, I am usually at least 100 short of that goal. All my coworkers are as well, so I don’t think it has to do with me being newer to the role. The collections goals also seem out of reach, especially considering the current economy. I’m somebody who hates not meeting goals. Does anyone else have experience with call centers and unattainable goals?

    1. Fabulous*

      I worked as a clerk in a collections call center before. I don’t know the specifics about the rep goals, but I know it was a very difficult job for them. Debt collection (at any time) is no fun, especially in that environment because it was for payday loans with up to 120% interest…

      The place I work now is also technically a call center, though it’s for sales instead of collections. They also have lofty outbound call quotas that are difficult to meet, but are at least attainable (when a rep isn’t focused on durations).

      I would hope that your workplace at least orients its success by looking at actual rep performance as opposed to these seemingly unattainable goals…

  40. Anon4This*

    I wrote last week about productivity/engagement struggles, and this week’s ask the readers thread was really helpful. Mostly to know there’s tons of others struggling with this (and learning about nap breaks! What a great idea!).

    And thanks to whoever suggested the Forest app. I had a solid 2.5 hours of focus time yesterday afternoon and got *so much done*.

    Something else I’ve discovered since last week is that organizing email/electronic files is a great way to jump start productivity when I feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Emails particularly remind me of little things I need to do and can do quickly so gives me a feeling of “accomplishment” to chase for the rest of the day.

    August is a slow(er) time in my industry and I have some big personal changes coming in the next few weeks, so I’m going to focus on self-care and just staying organized at work this month as I’ve learned this really helps me from feeling overwhelmed.

    I’m also trying to let go of the expectation that I will return to firing-on-all-cylinders levels of productivity which is helping me break the guilt-anxiety-procrastination cycle I’ve been stuck in.

    Feeling really grateful for this community this week!

  41. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I went back to my old office yesterday to return a laptop and collect my items. It felt so weird going in to the building and seeing some of my ex-coworkers. I hate that I was so emotionally attached to it…big lesson learned.

    On another note, I will never forget how my grandboss — a high ranking VP — gave my boss (a senior manager) a hard time over using Comic Sans in an internal email to his reports. (I know CS is hated but in his defense he had a learning disability and struggled to write well and somehow using that font helped him).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad that you feel you learned something here, Potatoes.

      I dunno if you ever saw me mention it. I had a job that was THE job of my life. I loved that job. I did not think it was possible to love a job, until this job.
      After years of going no where with this job, I had to give myself a firm talking to and boy, did that HURT. [Insert horror stories here.]
      I quit this job knowing full well I would never find anything else that filled my cup so well.

      I had a migraine for NINE weeks. Someone took a baseball bat to my head and face. I could barely walk around.

      Eventually the headache cleared as I reset my life on new goals. As I started to feel better, I asked myself, “What went wrong here?” And I landed on the same conclusion. I was too emotionally attached to the job.

      I have never had another job that I loved like that one. And it’s okay. I still have had good jobs. And I definitely have met some outstanding people. I have learned a lot at these other jobs, stuff I never would have learned if I had not left The Job of My Life. And yeah, I went on to make better money which also helped.

      I did get one surprise. I was hugely allergic to the chemicals at that job. I can honestly say that if I had stayed I dunno if I would be alive right now. There were many, many chemicals. After I had been gone a bit, I realized my body felt better and my brain worked better. It took a while for me to find this added bonus. I suspect you will find a surprise bonus at some point also.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        It’s been months now and for the most part I’ve accepted it but the feelings still come up sometimes. I think right now I’m just feeling nostalgic — missing my old life and what could have been. It’s not regret over having the baby but COVID and everything.

        While I’m not super religious, I do believe that there is always a reason for things like this. The universe knew that I would never leave willingly so it was taken away from me. Glad things worked out for you.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I think I just really miss the adult daily face to face interactions you get when working with people whose company you enjoy. Texting/chatting, isn’t the same. I miss seeing other faces since March.

  42. Casey*

    I’m curious about how people feel about their work-life balance. I’m at an internship (that is guaranteed to turn into a full-time job after I graduate, terrific safety net) that’s consistently 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I work overtime to be in the field for long days for a total of about 10 hours a month. I have a periodic workload: some weeks I’m rushing to get four designs out the door by Friday, some weeks I have nothing. It’s not good pay for my field, but it will steadily go up every year I work here, and I accrue tons of vacation. Also I guess the health insurance is decent? I’m still on my parents’. But the other downside of this job is that there’s not a lot that’s structurally invested in my career development: my training and opportunities for classes, seminars, conferences, etc. are wildly dependent on who my supervisor is. They won’t pay for me to get a master’s. It all feels… a little stagnant.

    I’ve been applying for positions in a different but related subfield that’s notorious for 60-80 hour workweeks, but that pay much better and in general are part of well-organized pipelines to get me through the ranks and give me the tools I need to become an “””” industry leader “”””.

    Do you like working a demanding job? Am I just used to the heavy grind of a STEM degree? Am I ambitious or just naive?

    1. Always Late to the Party*

      I think this is a highly personal decision.

      Personally, 60-80 hours a week would totally burn me out in a matter of months. I have a STEM degree but that workload level was not sustainable for my long term.

      If you worked somewhere that would pay for your masters’ degree but forced you to work 80 hours/week would you be able to take advantage of that benefit?

    2. Gatomon*

      There’s no way I could do a 60 hour week without going insane. I feel it when I pull 45 hour weeks, but I probably have less “spoons” than most people do, tbh. I get the thrill of challenge and achievement, but in school you get lengthy breaks to recharge (holidays, summer) that just don’t occur in real life. It’s a lot easier to burn yourself out when you only have two weeks of PTO and you end up blowing a third of that just on dealing with random life things like “time to renew my driver’s license” or “I need to babysit the plumber,” especially if you can’t work from home.

      To me, a demanding job should be a temporary sacrifice to get where you want to be, not a permanent state. I sucked it up on tier 1 helpdesk for a year to get to my current role, which requires less OT, pays more and has the training opportunities I desired. I would never go into a role that was going to consume 50+ hours of my life each week indefinitely if I could avoid it.

      You’ll probably be working for decades to come – unless you’re non-exempt forever the rewards for working OT constantly are not going to add up to anything much. I’ve also yet to see anyone recognized as an industry leader solely because they put in more hours than anyone else.

    3. Treebeardette*

      I work a high demand job and I probably developed health issues from it because I didn’t know how to have work life balance. It was my first job. I have worked 10 hour shifts and 12 hours. I was ok with it as long as I was free to leave early another day.

      In normal for most large businesses to give a yearly raise. To decide if you are being paid well, do some research and see what others make. The key is to get paid well at your level, because if you are underpaid, you’ll always be underpaid.

      Good companies will want to invest in you. If they aren’t willing, I personally will move on but that’s your choice. My current didn’t invest enough in me but I was able to go to a better company and get paid a lot more because of my current work experience.

      Of course there is nothing wrong with taking a job while searching for better ones.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      One thing to keep in mind is that long hours as a student are very different than long hours as an employee. As a student, you can work very intensely for periods of time, and it’s exhausting, but then you get between semester breaks where you catch up on sleep and there are no course responsibilities and you can recover. For a 60-80 work week it’s *all* work and no recovery, and after a year of it, with maybe two weeks off where you are still answering work emails, you get worn down. A field that’s notorious for 60-80 hour weeks is probably not one that lets you take regular, long, checked-out from work vacations to recuperate, either – you’ll be answering work emails and putting out fires when you’re on vacation, when you’re sick, when you’re on bereavement leave…

      How much do you need a decent amount of sleep, a social life, or hobbies? With work weeks like that, you tend to get to choose *one* of those. Dating becomes more difficult – potential partners are less likely to bond with someone they rarely see. Having kids means having a partner who is in charge of the family stuff, because you’re going to be at work most of the time. This is a very traditional way of doing things – a lot of “industry leaders” are men who have wives at home who do all the childcare and household stuff, freeing them up to work 7 days a week.

      One of the reasons these jobs pay well is that you have to hire people to do a lot of your daily life stuff – a housecleaner, eating out all the time, extra childcare.

      One thing to keep in mind – you can seek out professional development on your own. If your job has slow weeks, you may be able to work on stuff then, even if it’s not officially provided. They might not pay for a Masters, but it sounds like you’d actually have time to do one (if you’re working 60-80 hours a week, you probably don’t).

      I know people who thrive on intense work like this, though. However – they’re people whose work is their life. They don’t have much in the way of hobbies or outside interests, if they’re married, they’re almost always men whose wives handle the household stuff and provide the social life. They’re in good health – they’re no room for health problems in a job like this. So it’s a matter of whether this is the kind of life you’d be able to handle, and enjoy.

    5. allathian*

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I would not thrive under a workload like that. I almost got burnout simply from working 50-hours a week for three months. It got to the point that I’d just sit at my desk and cry because I was so exhausted. I did get help for it and took a long vacation when the project was done, but my stress tolerance is nowhere near what it was before.

      I feel rather sorry for people who just work, work, work. If they lose that, they have nothing. And what’s the point of earning a huge salary if you’re never able to enjoy it? I definitely work to live rather than live to work. There are so many people who on their deathbed wish they had spent more time with their family. I’ve never heard of anyone who wished they’d spent more time at the office.

  43. AK*

    Masks are mandatory at my workplace. However, every day I see people not wearing them or wearing them only on their mouths. What are some ways I can stop feeling so irritated when I have to walk by someone not wearing a mask? I can’t always stay 6’ away from them in narrow corridors, etc. I have my own office, so I’m luckier than many. I try to tell myself that walking by someone for 2 seconds is really no big deal, but I still feel angry in the moment. How are you dealing with similar situations and is there a way to reframe this in my mind so it doesn’t bother me so much?

    1. Moi*

      Give them grace. You don’t know their rationale. They may be one of the few people who have legitimate reasons not to wear one.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not aware of legitimate reasons to wear a mask improperly. There seem to be a fair amount of people who know they’re prone to panic attacks but won’t seek treatment, but that’s not the same as having a rationale.

        1. Esme*

          What treatment do you think there is that magically just stops panic attacks? Presumably you live in America where medical treatment is also ridiculously expensive?

          1. ThatGirl*

            Legit, I have tons of sympathy for people with anxiety or who struggle from panic attacks. Truly.

            But. Right now, if you KNOW that you need to wear a mask to protect yourself and others and you KNOW that doing so might make you panicky … I think it is incumbent upon you to do as much as you can to manage and ameliorate that. Panic attacks don’t magically stop at the snap of a finger, but they can be managed, they can be helped, there are creative ways to still cover your nose and mouth that may not feel as constricting — there are a lot of resources out there.

          2. pancakes*

            Please read the NIMH website about panic attacks and panic disorder, to start. The Mayo Clinic appears to have a lot of information, too. No one with expertise on the subject describes treatment as being magic-based. Magic has nothing to do with the matter.

            Lack of healthcare is of course an enormous problem in the US, but it’s far from well-established that everyone who panics in a mask has no access to healthcare.

          3. KoiFeeder*

            60mg of Duloxetine stopped me from having panic attacks multiple times a night. I consider that pretty magical!

      2. Amtelope*

        If someone can’t wear a mask for legitimate reasons, a good accommodation would be to let that person work from home. Letting them come to work without wearing a mask and potentially expose others to COVID sounds like a terrible accommodation.

        My question in this situation would not be “how can I reframe this so it doesn’t bother me so much?” but “how can I escalate this workplace safety issue to someone who’s willing and able to enforce the mask rules?”

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This. I would be complaining every day to HR until something was done about this.

      3. miro*

        They may be, but my understanding is that reasonable accommodations in that case include things like face shields, not just not wearing a mask.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      These days we just have to kind of give up on being a mask nag. It doesn’t seem to work. I would just hold my breath as hard as I can and get out of there ASAP.

    3. Laura H.*

      As to the nose exposure, depending on the mask style, it might be accidental/ result of it kinda moving as they speak. A “Hey your mask slipped” said with no judgement and with a mind that it’s busy and things can get lost in the shuffle is more courteous than being harsh about it.

      At the end of the day, it’s not entirely your problem to fix. A little charity goes a long way. You don’t know, and you shouldn’t want to be the mask police.

      Roll your eyes at your desk if it makes you feel better, but be charitable in your correction to their faces.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had to go into the office and one of the onsite essential employees was half wearing his mask. “Nice chin-warmer you’ve got there!” I said. He had it on the whole way when I next passed him.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Background: I am fairly politically liberal working at a conservative company.

      Co-worker recently complained to me, “I’m nagging everyone to keep wearing their masks properly, they’re calling me a mask nazi.” I replied, “Well, if you really want to scare them, say you’re mask antifa.”

  44. Schedule A?*

    Does anyone have experience applying to a federal position with Schedule A documentation for a disability? Although I qualify as having a psychiatric disability and am only barely able to hold my current, very stressful role due to a medication and therapy regimen, I feel reluctant to pursue that option, I guess for personal reasons and because I wouldn’t want to be taking something away from someone more deserving. I also made it to a final round interview with a higher grade position as a competitive hire. In this case I would be applying under Schedule A because it is only open to Schedule A/internal hires. Just wondering if starting as Schedule A could hurt a federal career long term and if it would be unethical to apply because I’ve handled accommodations with employers very casually and not on the record on the past

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you qualify for the Schedule A, then you are plenty “deserving.” It exists for people with qualifying disabilities to take advantage of.

      I can’t speak to the rest, but ethically you are clear.

    2. miro*

      As for the “deserving” thing, I totally second what RagingADHD said.

      You also mentioned personal reasons that make you reluctant, and I mostly came here to say that those are valid reasons to hesitate/not take a position. My disability situation is different (physical, pretty straightforward in terms of accommodations, very visible) but I’ve definitely had situations where, for reasons it’s hard to articulate, I felt weird taking advantage of resources or mentioning my disability even when I could get bumped up because of it. Some of this is probably internalized ableism, and that’s certainly what the well-meaning ableds around me seem to think, but I think it’s too simple and frankly a bit patronizing to chalk it all up to that.

      Anyway, sorry if this got a bit too ranty or self-centered, but my main point is that if taking this opportunity isn’t going to sit well for you personally for whatever reason, it’s worth weighting that as much as any more concrete/external factors when considering whether to take it.

      Good luck!

  45. Anon here again*

    My Assistant Manager loves to blame me for *his* mistakes. He tells the boss that it was my fault if *he* didn’t do something. He’ll say, “Anon didn’t give the report to me.” or “Anon didn’t know the answer.” The thing is, I turned everything into him and answered him. He just doesn’t read emails or pay attention when I tell him about it.

    The one day I decided to say something and asked him about it. I calmly, yet assertively asked him what he needed. He told another coworker that I was being mean and asked what my problem was.(They’re used to people sweet talking and schmoozing. If you act professional, it’s seen as being cold or rude. I don’t get it.)

    Whatever the situation is, he’ll turn it around and blame me. He is verbally abusive- calls me names, makes fun of me to others, etc.

    The boss won’t address anything, because he’s conflict avoidant. It’s making me miserable. Plus, I’m scared that I’ll lose my job.

    Besides finding a new job and getting the heck out of there, any advice? Is there anything to say or do?

    1. Picard*

      cc the boss on stuff you send to assistant?
      ignore whatever he says to a coworker – if its not to you, then its just gossip

      and yeah, find a new job?

    2. Altair*

      People here have recommended saying to someone who verbally abuses you, “I will not be spoken to in that manner” and leaving the conversation. This hasn’t worked for me (ahahahaha) but many people have said it worked for them so I thought I’d mention.

      People like your AM make me wish I were telekinetic so I could stand him on his head whenever he said something nasty, but alas, I still can’t move things with my mind. All good luck.

    3. pancakes*

      Maybe I’m missing something here, but what happens when you correct him in a friendly but matter-of-fact tone when he lies about your involvement? Have you done that? I don’t think fear of being seen as cold or rude is a good reason to avoid correcting the record when he tries to lie about your work.

      1. Anon here again*

        Yes- I have told him that I sent something or have asked him for further information.

        1. pancakes*

          I think that’s probably the most you can do, while looking for a new job. You might try again with your boss, and say something along the lines of, “How would you like me to handle it when So-and-so accuses me of not giving him reports that I’ve given him? When I politely correct him he’s abusive.”

          1. Anon here again*

            Yes- recently. He was on speaker and I just went into my boss’s office and corrected him. I’m sick of this….

            1. pancakes*

              I didn’t realize the boss was present while this is happening. How did the boss respond?

              1. Anon here again*

                He was just listening- he didn’t say anything. He had the document and info that my Assistant Manager needed, so he just gave it to him.

                1. pancakes*

                  Ugh, awful. I’m not sure there’s anything you can do here besides looking for a new job. Maybe you could say something to the boss at moments like that, like “It’s unsettling that So-and-so is free to lie about my involvement that way without consequences.”

  46. WorkingGirl*

    I’m so sick of being treated like the secretary!

    I’m not the youngest anymore. I’m not the newest anymore. I’m not the only woman anymore. I’m not the lowest-ranking person anymore. So why tf was I asked to take notes in a company meeting today????????

      1. rageismycaffeine*

        This. I always take extensive notes in meetings because it helps me retain the information, and I type 140+ wpm so the notes end up being more like transcripts. My boss noticed my hammering away at my keyboard during meetings and asked after one in particular if I would mind sharing the notes. They were so extensive and ended up being so helpful for checking afterwards that thereafter I was always the note-taker. I was doing it anyway so it didn’t bother me much… other than having to temper my language because part of my note-taking otherwise includes my own little “notes to self” about what I was hearing. :)

      2. WorkingGirl*

        No! We’ve never had ANYONE take notes in a meeting before so it’s not even like I was taking on a task that someone else was doing.

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          If no one was taking notes before/if it’s not critical someone take notes can you say something like…

          “Actually, I find it much easier to fully engage in the conversation when I only need to worry about taking notes for myself, and not the whole group. Are group notes needed for this meeting?”

          If yes…
          “Could we perhaps rotate who is responsible for the notes then? Fergus, could you take notes this week?”

          Beware of Fergus “being bad at taking notes” tho…

          1. Always Late to the Party*

            Based on your comments that loaded since I’ve refreshed I would amend this to…

            “Actually, I find it much easier to fully engage in the conversation when I only need to worry about taking notes for myself, and not the whole group. Could AdminAssistant take notes?” or “AdminAssistant, could you take notes please?” depending on your dynamic with said AA.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hate this soooo much. The overarching issue, sure, but I am also a TERRIBLE note-taker. The next time they ask me, I will start interrupting with, “Could you say that again, please, I missed it and I need it for the notes.” Frequently.

    2. Jaded Millenial*

      You haven’t said “No, I can’t” yet.
      Any chance you can try it sometime? “Not this time, I actually have to step out a few minutes early.” GOOD LUCK.

      1. WorkingGirl*

        I push back on a ton of stuff my boss does. He’s “forgetful” though and there always seems to be an excuse “oh you’re just so good at this type of thing”, “oh so and so is busy…”. With this, he didn’t ask in advance… when we were all on a call together he confronts me with “WorkingGirl, you’re going to be our notetaker.” Would it have been inappropriate to say “no, I can’t” or “why don’t we have (admin assistant) do that? I think that falls more in her wheelhouse”? It just felt like I was put on the spot getting that instruction in the meeting!

        1. WellRed*

          Was there anyone in the meeting that it would have made more sense to ask them? I’m annoyed on your behalf, though!

        2. Mockingjay*

          This was me four and five years ago. Boss found out I took detailed technical notes, took away most of my work and had me take minutes at every damn meeting, instead of his pet Admin Assistant. It was hell.(Search “Mockingjay” and “meeting minutes saga” in the archives.)

          Nip this in the bud right now. Yes, you can say something at the moment. “Admin is handling the notes; I need to talk about the widget production issue.” Later discuss roles with your boss. I’ve paraphrased Allison’s advice for similar situations. “Boss, I appreciate your confidence in my skills, but it’s better if Fred continues to take notes, so I can focus on the discussion. I’m happy to review the minutes if you want details checked.”

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Next time say: “no, it’s not my turn, I did it last time.” Or suggest to the boss that you have a roster of notetakers prepared in advance, so everyone knows who is supposed to take notes. (We have a roster. If you are going to miss the meeting you are responsible for trading with someone else, and advising the keeper of the roster. It works pretty well.)

  47. nonnynon*

    Y’all, it’s been a week!! Last Thursday I was called by a friend of mine at another agency to see if I was interested in applying for a high level administrative assistant position. She had already cleared it with the person running the organization (she works directly for him). After talking with a couple of friends and close colleagues, I went ahead and submitted it on Monday. I just had an initial skills test yesterday and have an interview next week. It is very likely I will be offered this job and I am freaking out. Me moving from my current organization to the new one is going to ruffle a lot of feathers and exacerbate an already tense relationship their head has with the heads om my current place ( of whom I directly work for). I’m trying to not freak out and think how I’m going to broach this with a couple of my bosses before it leaks. Their are a lot of egos involved (politicians and government if anyone is familiar with that wonkiness) so it’s a delicate tread.

    I may go throw up now….

  48. Lucky*

    Re: Vacation time, my company’s vacation program has all vacation time granted on January 1 and any unused time disappearing on December 31. Usually not a problem – I’ve found this use-it-or-lose-it policy to foster a culture where everyone takes vacation and I’ve taken more vacations here in 5 years than in my prior 15 years in private practice (I’m a lawyer.)
    But quarantine started before I had taken any time off, and my two big trips were cancelled. I’ve taken 2 of my 22 vacation days so far, and have about 6 more days planned. Would it be weird to start taking off random Fridays until the end of the year?

    1. londonedit*

      Where I work, no, that wouldn’t be weird at all – but it would be something we’d need to discuss with our line manager to get approval. I think it’s a ‘know your workplace’ thing, though.

      1. Web Crawler*

        This. At my workplace, one senior developer had enough vacation time accrued that he decided not to work Mondays anymore.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        This. And I would totally take off every Friday for the rest of the year or until I ran out of time, whichever came first.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      No. Lots of people handle their leave that way. Even more now that there’s a pandemic.

    3. lobsterbot*

      Not weird at all, just coordinate with your manager and coworkers to make sure there’s coverage if there needs to be and that you’re not missing anything important and do it. Put a bunch on the calendar now before you forget.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Not at all, but if you aren’t planning weekend trips I can highly recommend taking *Wednesdays*. You’re always just having had a day off or just about to have a day off. And when you’re away from the office, your clients can always be told you’re back “tomorrow” (whereas Friday to Monday can feel like a hundred years when something is urgent*).

      * By “urgent” I mean “client-urgent”, not actually urgent.

    5. LDF*

      If it would fly at your workplace, you could also still take a longer vacation. I’m on 2 weeks vacation right now – not going anywhere but still recharging

    6. Policy Wonk*

      This is pretty common in Government – the most common way to burn your use-or-lose leave. The only suggestion I have is that you might want to consider taking Mondays instead of Fridays. I have known more than one person who planned this, then decided they had to come in on Friday because they needed to finish x and y. That doesn’t happen if your three-day-weekend is Sat/Sun/Mon.

      Enjoy your time off!

    7. Long Time Fed*

      We are all doing that at my job. I’ve put in for every other Monday for the rest of the year. I might not be able to go anywhere, but I’m not losing my vacation time!

    8. House-Elf Liberation Front*

      Not weird at all! At an old job (retail of all places) we accrued so much time – that rolled over – that one person essentially switched to a 4-day work week. I personally would always take off all (or the majority) of the month of February – not a fan of winter/driving in the snow!

      At my previous job I would take off Mondays during November and December depending on how much time I had left to use.

    9. Nacho*

      That’s what I’m doing. My office allows only 108 hours of PTO to be carried over each year, and I’ve got a little under 200 right now, so I’m taking every other Friday off for the rest of the year to drop it down to more manageable levels.

  49. Death Before Dishonor*

    I’m a bit edgy. There were layoffs this week in my department, just two months after we were told that wasn’t going to happen, even with Covid19-related budget cuts. Everyone is tense and jumpy. I’m worried a lot of people are going to leave on their own leaving us strapped.

    There was no warning whatsoever.

    1. pancakes*

      Budget cuts are a form of warning, no? What a company does with its budget is more important than what it says it’s going to go.

      1. Death Before Dishonor*

        The announcement about the budget cuts included, “we did this so we don’t have to lay anyone off.”

        1. pancakes*

          I think the thing to take away in those circumstances is “the budget is a problem” rather than “the budget is a problem but at least there won’t be layoffs.”

    2. Colette*

      Layoffs often happen with little warning, for good reason. If you announce there will be layoffs, everyone immediately wants to know if they will be laid off. And you can’t answer, because you don’t know yet. It’s a terrible environment to work in.

      (But I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve been laid off, and I’ve been left behind when others were laid off. Both are terrible experiences.)

  50. Moi*

    A few months ago I interviewed for a Director of Nursing position. I did well but came in a close second (HR’s words) to another candidate because she had direct experience in the role. I went through two (long interviews) with a skills test and a reference check. Since then I’ve applied to at least five other similar (some lesser) positions and I can’t even get an interview! Arrrrgh! I don’t know what to do!

  51. Amber Rose*

    Question on behalf of my husband: His university GPA was pretty bad, but also that was over a decade ago and he’s really thrived in his career since, is grad school even slightly possible? Or is he doomed because of an extremely old transcript.

    1. Pippa K*

      Probably depends on the field and the program, but we admit people with lower-than-average GPAs or GRE scores all the time, especially if they’re now years into a career and have a track record to show beyond university. Those cases are generally people with a very clear rationale for doing the advanced degree and evidence of relevant skills/expertise from their work roles. So he’s probably not doomed!

      1. Amber Rose*

        He’s currently in health care in a finance related role, and he wants to do a business administration program. To move upward from where he is typically requires grad school so that’s what he wants to do, but his crappy GPA from ages ago combined with his one rejection seems to have become a sticking point in his head, so I’m trying to find reasons to boost him up.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          What’s his undergrad degree in? One possible solution – I am also in health care in a finance/administrative role and one of my masters is an MBA. But my undergrad is in public health, not anything business-adjacent, so when I was accepted into my MBA program, I had to do a year’s worth of business-adjacent prerequisites before I could start the actual MBA coursework. If his undergrad degree isn’t business-adjacent and if he would be required to have business coursework as prerequisite to an MBA program anyway, he could perhaps look into taking a year of business courses at a community college or similar – then he could both get those prereqs out of the way (at a lower cost) and have more recent coursework success to show as well.

          If there’s a specific program he’s looking at, he could try to arrange an informational interview with an advisor or admissions counselor in the program too? That might help assuage some concerns as well as getting him more insight into what they’re looking for and how they’re evaluating applicants.

          1. Amber Rose*

            His undergrad is political science. It didn’t seem like there were particular course requirements for the program he was looking at.

            He did get an information interview with one of the schools, but it kind of didn’t go anywhere after that.

          2. Amber Rose*

            Also I was mistaken, it wasn’t business admin it was public admin. Whoops! Got my b’s and p’s mixed up.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              haha, that’s actually my other masters. But that one didn’t have any prereqs, and I actually ended up in that program by accident after I’d already finished half the degree.

        2. Lucette Kensack*

          To clarify: is he looking at MBA programs? And is he planning/hoping to just “check the box” with a degree, or is the learning/networking/skill building/etc. important for him and his career?

          There are thousands of MBA programs, and most are money making machines for their associated universities. That means that plenty have relatively open admissions standards. If he’s just looking to check the box, he can likely find a program that will accept him.

          But MBA programs are expensive, and — aside from situations where someone just needs to get the degree so they can check that box on applications — most of the value comes from the name brand of the university and the networks that students develop (with professors, recruiters, and fellow students). And that value is pretty concentrated in just a few post-MBA careers: management consulting, marketing, investment banking, and maybe corporate finance and startup investing. (This will vary slightly based on the program — some programs will have a focus on a particular industry, like tech or health care). What all that means is that there is a pretty short list of MBA programs that are worthwhile investments — maybe the top 20-30 programs plus, maybe, the top program in a given metropolitan region. And THOSE programs really, really care about GPA (because they care deeply about their rankings, and the “quality” of the students they admit has a big impact on their rankings.)

          1. Amber Rose*

            Sorry I checked again and I was wrong, it’s not an MBA, it’s an MPA: Public Administration not business. My bad!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I applied to grad school, out of four college transcripts, I had three where I had literally less than a 0.4 GPA. I now have two masters degrees. So, def not doomed. Beyond that, it probably depends on what field of grad school he wants to go into and how the individual university/program evaluate their applicants.

      When I took my three crap transcripts (which were also all older) and applied to the university where I got my undergrad degree, I had the option to request an interview with an admissions officer and explain the circumstances, how I’d developed better habits since then, how I expected to be successful this time, that sort of thing. So if that’s an option for him in the application process, either as an interview or as an optional/supplemental “application essay” or whatever, I’d definitely say to take it.

    3. Moonbeam Malone*

      I think this is really field dependent but generally I’d say he’s probably fine. It’s more likely to hurt him on financial aid stuff than actual admissions.

    4. VelociraptorAttack*

      Generally a strong applicant in other ways, especially not coming immediately out of undergrad, can make up for a lot with grad school, especially if it’s a program without certain requirements.

      I’ve got 3 questions, a) how bad is bad? b) is his GPA within his major good? c) does the school require him to take the GRE?

    5. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I work in grad ed, and what we generally advise is to start in a certificate program (much easier to get admitted into a cert) and then after you take a class or two to establish a good grad GPA, transfer into a master’s. Now, if you decide to take this path, you want to work with someone in the master’s from the get-go to make sure the classes will transfer in, and (at least at my institution) certificate students are not eligible for scholarship awards.

  52. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Things I almost said (or emailed) this week to a group of more senior colleagues:

    – “I included that information in my report, so obviously you didn’t read it.”
    – “Why are you asking a follow-up question to my colleague instead of me, when this was my project? Oh, right, he’s not a woman.”
    – “Please listen to what I am saying to you.”
    – “I am the only person in this company who has done this before, so why are you telling me that I am wrong and I have no clue?”
    – “Oh, don’t worry, I will never take on another project like this again.”

    I did not say these things. I promise. No, really. The colleague who got the follow-up question instead of me called me to apologize “on behalf of [his] gender.” He also understands that saying any of these things would put me in a terrible position; they would just deny they did anything wrong, and right now, I feel like the whole company is teetering and I would rather get paid at the moment.

    I am so done. I attended a networking event for women this week and loved it, plus I connected with a bunch of recruiters and hiring managers for companies I would love to work for. I’m just sick of this crap. I was so close a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t get that job, and I’m job-searching like crazy, but in the meantime my frustration is simmering a little too close to the surface.

    What do you wish you had said but you didn’t? Or maybe you did– how did that go?

    1. Casey*

      The other day, on a Teams text post where we were discussing someone’s sudden retirement and its ramifications, a guy who already drives me bonkers asked, almost word for the word, the same exact question I had posed and discussed with numerous people right there. Like, he had to scroll past my question, and the four responses, to type in his question.

      Well, I’m on the fringe of this group enough, have enough seniority, and have stopped caring about the internal politics enough to have responded “Hey, is there an aspect of your question that I’m missing, or something we didn’t cover when I posted that question an hour ago?”

      He responded later “oh, sorry, I guess it is the same as your question.”

      Still annoying, but I’m glad I actually said something instead of complaining to my friends. Taking it as the first step in being assertive in the pseudo-workplace!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I did say, “Yes, that’s what I said five minutes ago,” three (!) times during a recent conversation with my boss. I’m getting better at it here. Funny, I have never had this issue before– I had a job for eight years where I was considered kind of combative– but some environments, man.

    2. MissBliss*

      What I wish I’d said, at least ten times this week: Did you actually read that email?

      I did not. It took all of my willpower.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve sometimes included the e-mail that had the information with some wording at top mentioning that here’s the info.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’m not your mommy. Now here’s your blankie, go sit in the corner and suck your thumb.

      This was a high maintenance person.

      NO. I did not say that. But I DID tell my boss I wanted to say it. She laughed. It was therapeutic for me.

  53. Argh!*

    Yesterday my manager announced in a meeting that there may be layoffs in a few months because we didn’t have good “productivity” during the work-from-home months. This ticks me off to no end! We had no preparation, no WFH projects thought up in advance, and then when we re-opened we had work backed up for us to do!

    ARGH!!!!!!!!!!11111111

    I feel the need to come up with projects that I can do from home as well as projects that would involve lower-rank employees, to help protect them.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      That was probably your manager’s intention: to get a burst of panic productivity out of everyone and then twist. What a jerk.

      1. Argh!*

        No, she’s just stupid.

        We aren’t allowed to come up with our own projects. Even the projects we did had zero input from us — couldn’t make any choice of which color teapot to work on. She doled them out for us.

  54. Jaid*

    My floor was suddenly closed in the middle of the work day, because someone reported being sick. Later that night, we got a call from our manager saying to stay home the next day.

    However he apparently sent our an email an hour or so later (after 9.30 pm) saying that we were supposed to come in. I didn’t see that e-mail until the next day. We were given the option of still staying home, but having to use our own time.

    The official announcement clearing my floor actually came out around 11.30 pm.

    Sigh. Some folks came in. I didn’t. Some others are going to the union, because we shouldn’t be getting notifications like this at such a late hour. To make it even more annoying, there’s supposed to be a daily message about the state of the service center, which hasn’t updated since they called us back in July…

    1. Argh!*

      This is the kind of thing that should trigger a series of calls on a pre-established phone tree.

      People don’t get promoted for being smart. They get promoted for being obedient to the stupid person who got promoted to the level above them.

  55. Kelly*

    Does anyone have advice on how to act around a coworker after they were rude and defensive with you?

    To give context: Yesterday during a 1:1 with my coworker, “Ronald” (who I technically don’t report to but he’s above me and our duties overlap), got extremely defensive because he thought my boss, “Jake” and I overstepped by giving me access to a list of resumes on our hiring platform for hiring a position directly under Ronald, but still on our team. In hindsight, we should have checked with him first, but it wasn’t malicious and I’m actually interviewing the candidates in phase 2. I asked my boss if I could help in anyway, and he volunteered to talk to HR to give me platform access to help look at resumes. I got access the day prior to all this. I planned on talking with him about it during our 1:1, and I didn’t think it was a big deal. Well, he brought it up immediately before I had a chance to and would not let it go. I think he was more angry at my boss, who he has a long “friendship” with (since high school) because since I’ve been at the company (6 months) they’ve always been passive aggressive with each other. It seems like Ronald has a grudge that my boss was promoted instead of him a few months ago.

    Jerome should have asked me about it, told me why it was wrong and then moved on. But he asked multiple times if my boss and I had reservations about his judgement, if we thought he couldn’t do it himself, how he helped hire “Anna” and “Ralph” on my team (both who Jake manages) and how HE actually referred Jake to the company years ago. Then he quizzed me on the job description and kept asking if I knew what he was looking for in a resume. Then he asked if I knew the org structure and how he doesn’t report to Jake, they have the same boss. This went on for at least 15 minutes. He completely has a right to feel the way he does (probably annoyed and overstepped), but it seemed like such an overreaction. The way he got so defensive was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in my career.

    I’m still processing the entire conversation, but during my next 1:1 with my boss I’m going to try to get additional clarification around my role and Ronald’s role. I don’t want to tattle on him or anything. But now I feel very awkward around him and don’t feel like being super nice and accommodating. I’ll probably keep conversation with him extremely formal.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You have no obligation to be super nice and accommodating. You do have an obligation to be professional, even though he hasn’t been. Just be professional and cold. No niceties.

      Nothing much else to contribute here, except that this shows a tremendous amount of insecurity/immaturity on Ronald’s part:
      But he asked multiple times if my boss and I had reservations about his judgement, if we thought he couldn’t do it himself, how he helped hire “Anna” and “Ralph” on my team (both who Jake manages) and how HE actually referred Jake to the company years ago. Then he quizzed me on the job description and kept asking if I knew what he was looking for in a resume.

      1. Kelly*

        Thanks! Agreed, I’ll try to be more cold and strictly professional. No chit chat. I’m bummed at realizing the level of insecurity and immaturity he has. He’s very knowledgeable, and even thought I thought he wasn’t the best team player or communicator, I had primarily had positive interactions with him. I actually picked up some weird vibes awhile back, but wasn’t super concerned. Now I feel uncomfortable around him.

    2. valentine*

      I’ll probably keep conversation with him extremely formal.
      There’s no need for this extreme, or to ask Jake to clarify your roles. Ronald’s upset isn’t an emergency for you and you’re not his personal first responder.

      It’s so odd that both Jake and you are deferring to Ronald (same person as Jerome, yeah?), I thought I was confused about who was boss. What both of you did was fine. I see no need whatsoever to ask Ronald (permission, advice?) about Jake getting you access.

      Ronald is deeply insecure. You can carry on as you have, but prepare some scripts to refuse the next interrogation.

      1. Kelly*

        Oh heavens I missed that typo. I played around with the names and didn’t catch that update. Jake is my direct boss, and above Ronald/Jerome. Ronald/Jerome is above me and has the authority to assign me tasks and many of our duties overlap. Ronald/Jerome and Jake report to the same manager. The open role is directly under Ronald/Jerome, and would work with me (at a level under me).

        Yeah it’s kind of hinky lol but I’m trying to adapt the best I can. I’m still going to ask for role clarification because thankfully, I’m about to transition to work more under Jake, while still working with Ronald/Jerome.

  56. D3*

    What size company is the best fit for you?
    Was talking with my husband this week and we both hate small companies where everyone is in everyone’s business like faaaaaamily. He said he would never want to work for a company with fewer than 20 employees ever again. I agreed.
    He prefers a company with about 100-200 employees. He likes that in that size company, you can work more broadly and big picture-y, even if you’re not a manager. He likes that the C suite is usually still approachable and on site.
    I prefer a large corporation with clear policies and dedicated HR. I like the anonymity of being a tiny cog in a big system. I like a smaller defined role.
    How about you? What size company is the best fit for you?

    1. londonedit*

      I used to think I only liked working in small companies. I really dislike anything ‘corporate’ with its attendant bureaucracy and ‘cog-in-a-wheel’ feeling, so for the first few years of my career I stuck resolutely to small, independent companies with fewer than 25 employees. And it was fine, but I slowly came to realise that they have their own problems – the ‘faaaaaaamily’ thing can be really toxic, everyone is in everyone’s business, and there often isn’t much room for growth as there’s one person per job and you need to wait for someone to leave before you can progress. I still don’t like huge impersonal companies, but I’ve settled in the middle, like your husband. I want somewhere that’s big enough to have proper HR and proper systems, but small enough that I don’t feel like the bosses have no idea who I am.

    2. WorkingGirl*

      I currently work at a small – less than 20 employees – company, and I don’t think I would do it again, if I could avoid it. I’m in a niche so a small org might just be my only option but I dream of “making it big” and breaking out into a larger org with more prestige and hopefully less BS!

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I moved to my company (15 years ago) because I wanted a smaller company without corporate nonsense. I was a new grad, and nonsense were things like offshoring and 9-box reviews, imo at the time. I also got jerked around and “pigeon-holed” and dealt with inflexibility on some things related to post-maternity work.

      The company I moved to had been acquired several years before I started there, but they still ran each office fairly independently and the office was 2,000 people at my location now and they’ve moved towards more centralized management and processes for the whole company (>20,000 people). The strange thing is, I LIKE IT. I honestly don’t think I would have liked being at that company if they were 200 people, independently owned. My industry has too much fluctuation. I’d have been worried about layoffs (or overload) and pending acquisitions all the time. I don’t know if size is as important as the company’s management, though.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Somehow, I made an edit and lost like half a sentence so this no longer makes much sense.

        Anyway, my current company was <200 people when I started there in '05. It's 2,000 at my location now. Even though we have more of the corporate things I wanted to get away from originally, I think I prefer it to what would have been the reality of a 200 person company in my industry.

        1. maggggghie*

          do you work in clinical research because that sounds exactly like my life. and the brand new corporate headquarters that i secretly hate.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, same (though the companies I’ve worked for have generally been mid-size corps between 2-4K people).

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I will never work for someone with more than 75-100 employees and most certainly never a mega corporation.

      I have my parents careers to go off of for big companies. Both union employees. Who were [one is retired] and are [the other is not] treated like gum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. It’s been pretty gross watching it unfold and being an HR professional, I know that they’re often breaking laws without anyone who can take them to task because they’re abusing the people who aren’t aware of their rights let alone have access to an attorney.

      I’ve seen people fired for gross reasons, lots of sexism and even more ageism throughout the years by companies who have clear HR policies…only in the way it’s clear that HR knows how to get rid of you without having to pay you any unemployment, heaven forbid you have a medical emergency or family issue arise.

      I require to know the ownership personally and can figure out if they’re good or bad myself. The ownership must be working ownership, I don’t want to deal with a bunch of worthless managers who got there because of who they knew and got a degree in something that they don’t even know how to utilize.

      In my position I can use my judgement and aren’t given a playbook that I can’t stray from. I am trusted and nothing is set in stone. Everything is still up for debate and change is pretty easy to implement.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Big corporations all the way, but to be fair that is my only experience. My husband prefers to work for startups and small companies (<200 ppl) primarily but he's more risk tolerant to the nature of startups.

      I think it's also dependent on the role or type of work you do. Outside of the first few months, I've rarely felt like a cog or invisible, but the nature of my work is that it gets visibility and people seek out my kind of role a lot, so even after a few years I felt like I had a pretty good network across the company. It's also the case that my role only shows up in bigger companies, and the few times I've considered opportunities at smaller companies, they're looking for one person to do what is usually three roles' worth of work.

    6. tangerineRose*

      I worked at a company that had between 100-300 people at various times, and I think it was a good fit for me. In a somewhat small company, it’s easier to build a good reputation, which can be very helpful.

    7. Mimmy*

      I’ve had experience in companies of varying types and sizes, from a small biomedical manufacturer all the way up to state government. Each has their plusses and minuses, so I’m somewhat flexible. Ideally, I’d want to work with a larger employer given the variety of job options and growth potential; however, I feel like there’s a perception that HR departments with such employers are…not very well-liked lol.

    8. voluptuousfire*

      This is a really good question! I currently work for a huge corportation with ~20k employees. My previous company (which was acquired by the huge corp) was around ~1500 people. I really enjoyed working there and it was about the perfect size. Large enough to have a good HR system in place but small enough so that you can still explore different opportunities for professional development without having to change teams. I miss it sorely. I had a lot more freedom in my previous role that got walked back on my new team since everything is much more siloed. I’d love to go back to a role where I can help create processess and scale them. Now it’s just boring, routine stuff.

    9. tuesday last?*

      I’m the total dissenter here. I started with my company when it was a young start-up. Less than 20 people. now we’re over 100, and looking to hit 200-300 in the next couple of years. I’d totally go with a young dynamic company again. As we grow, there are increasing levels of bureaucracy, much less transparency, much more specialization. Hate it.
      To be fair, our company was functional when it was small, no one was in anyone’s business (if they didn’t want to be); it wasn’t faaaamily, there was no drama. We just got our damn work done.

  57. windsofwintergreen*

    I had an interview this week. Good schedule, decent wage…but the interviewer didn’t wear a mask. None of the staff wore masks. And at the end, as she led me to the door, the interviewer started coughing into her hand. Apparently she had a tickle in her throat. I was just floored. She sat there coughing into her hand and then used said hand to push open the door. I noped out of there so fast and withdrew my application the next day.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Totally appalling.

        windsofwintergreen, I hope you told them exactly why you were withdrawing. Maybe they’d be shamed enough to start wearing freaking masks or at least not being so gross as to openly cough into their hands in front of applicants in the middle of a frigging pandemic!

  58. Sabrina Spellman*

    Anyone else work in higher education? How are your institutions handling the upcoming semester? Mine has lots of “plans”, but I am never assured that they will follow through. Plus I’m 8 months pregnant and going through the steps to get a medical release to continue teleworking.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      We’re still claiming “hybrid” for the time being, but I’ve been told that schedulewise almost every class has been moved to online instruction. That has not been publicly announced as yet, though.

      Thankfully, we are not going back into the office except for the people who volunteered or otherwise half to go into the office. No plans to reopen to the public, thank god.

      1. Sabrina Spellman*

        This is a smart move, if you ask me. I work in an administrative office that does a lot of work with the public, but we’ve had no issues during the closure. Executive management has decided that we have to open. Another bad thing is that my campus is enclosed by neighborhoods on all sides, and they’re still allowing random people to wander onto campus as they please, mask or no mask.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think my institution is handling things a lot better than my state, but that isn’t really saying much. Half our classes will have an in-person component, but they will be very small groups at any given time. Everything has to be online anyway in case a student becomes ill or is unable to attend class, which I think my university has done an ok but not great job at preparing us for.

      I’m still very worried for this fall.

    3. Lovecraft Beauty*

      All courses are online, with the exception of second and third year medical/dental clinicals, which is getting reduced to the absolute minimum. Research labs are mostly shut down except for COVID research, staff and admin are remote until January (I have to admit I don’t know what the facilities crews are doing), and everyone who has been authorized to be on campus gets tested at least weekly.

      I honestly feel pretty good about this.

    4. Pam*

      The California State University system decided to stay virtual back in May.
      They are holding firm on work from home and social distancing

  59. should I apply*

    How long is too long in the same role (mid-career)?

    How do you decided if you have been in the same role to long. I am approaching 6 years in the same role. I am mid-carreer (14 yrs) and I am worried that if I don’t move to new role now, I am stuck here.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      6 years isn’t really stuck. But if you stay over 15 years, new employers may worry that you won’t actually leave your job, or that you’re too stuck in the ways of your current workplace. Are those fears founded? Maybe not, but it’s something to consider, because potential employer fears have real-world hiring consequences, whether those fears are warranted or not.

    2. irene adler*

      One way to find out how stuck you are: apply for some new jobs.
      See what the response is.

        1. irene adler*

          I hear ya!
          That’s why my resume does not indicate dates; it just says “10+ years” at my current position.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Totally depends on the field.

      I have friends in tech where 4-5 years seems to be the max. In my environmental regulation field, it’s not unusual for someone to get into a program in their late 20s/early 30s and be there to retirement. I hit 29 years last month.

      1. Should I apply?*

        That is partially my concern, I am in engineering in development of consumer products. I have worked on a specific type of product for the whole 6 years and am now the technical expert in it. I like my current company but I don’t see any chances for advancement here, because there isn’t really a technical role higher than mine and I don’t want to go into people management.

    4. Goatgirl*

      I was laid off just short of 20 years and I can tell you that isn’t doing me any favors. I really loved my job but knew I wouldn’t be able to do it until retirement (another 15 years) so I wish desperately I would have done something different 5-10 years ago. I was so grateful to be employed back in the 2008 crash that I just never wanted to rock the employment boat and I allowed myself to get too comfortable.

  60. TV Researcher*

    This is really a vent/call for positive thoughts – though I do have a question at the end.

    So, my company is about to go through a reorg because 2020 is going to 2020. Across 35,000 people, we’re going to lose about 10%. I may be safe; I may not be safe. Who knows. When I’m being pessimistic, I think of course I’m going to be let go, because on a skills basis, I’m probably not where my peer is (and only some of that is impostor syndrome). On a personality basis, every other member of my team has worked with both my boss and grandboss at their previous spot. While my boss inherited me. So, that’s fun. When I’m being optimistic, I think my whole group is safe, as our functionality meshes with the new direction of the reorg.

    On the other hand, I’m naturally a pessimist (I’m Jewish and from New Jersey – it’s in our DNA). Plus, I’m currently in treatment for cancer, so of course my mind wanders to the worst case scenario. Now, that may help me – as who wants to be known for laying off the gal with cancer. Or not, as I know they can’t fire me for having cancer, but they can basically say anything and let me go.

    Like I said, this was mostly a venting session, but I guess I do have a question – I was looking at our HR stuff and I can put that I have a disability (as cancer qualifies). Does it make sense for me to click that box?

    Hope everyone is staying safe.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      All the positive thoughts to you. I’m also a cancer survivor and while I didn’t have layoffs while I was in treatment I can understand why that must make it so much worse for you.

      re: checking the box – I did this when I was in treatment, and had also done it previously because of mental health-related problems. For me, I saw it as something that could only help, or at the very least something that couldn’t hurt.
      However, I have friends with (non-cancer-related) disabilities who have gone out of their way NOT to do it because they do not want their employer/HR to know that they have a disability. I can’t say that I understand the latter mentality, but I don’t doubt that there’s somebody on these boards who could explain why it’s better not to disclose that if you don’t have to.

    2. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      I have similar DNA and personality traits and have always live by the motto, “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen to me.” I expect and plan for the worst and not surprised when it happens. Work on plan B and plan C.

    3. miro*

      If you need/anticipate soon needing accommodations, then yeah, check the box. I don’t really see it making any difference in terms of layoffs–which may have already been decided anyway–as those are generally motivated by budget. Even if they do have the optics in mind, laying off someone with cancer (when it’s about the position, not the person, being cut) doesn’t look potentially callous in the way that firing someone with cancer could.

      Of course, if you’re worried that layoffs will be used as a pretense to get rid of you because of your cancer and are considering legal action, then being on the record as having a disability could be useful. Apologies if that isn’t what you think is happening; when you said “I know they can’t fire me for having cancer, but they can basically say anything and let me go” I couldn’t tell if that’s what you were alluding to.

  61. NervousCollegeKid*

    Hi all, I’m a rising college senior with a major in Political Science and am looking for some advice about job searching. Currently, I’m applying to fall internships and its been tough – even though I feel like I’m pretty qualified for the positions I’m applying to. I scroll through Indeed, Idealist, and Linkedin every day looking for positions and have even resorted to looking at elected officials Instagrams/Twitters to see what nonprofits they follow to see if they have any openings – not a lot of luck there. I live in a major US city so I would think that’d be an advantage but it doesn’t seem to be at this point. I’m graduating in December and have now thoroughly convinced myself that my job search will be long and painful, so any tips about how to go about searching for your first full time position would be greatly appreciated!

    1. irene adler*

      Disclaimer: I don’t know much about Poly Sci.

      Visit the career center at your college. See what they have to offer.
      Network. You have a start with following elected officials. Are there real-life events to attend (like after all this COVID stuff is over)? Fundraisers, community outreach stuff? This helps with networking. But you gotta keep at it.
      Talk with your profs about possible career avenues and connections they can introduce you to in ‘the real world’.

      Seek out professional organizations that pertain to poly sci. This may take a lot of research and inquiry before you find folks with your background/interests. They can help with the job search, networking. Ask about mentoring opportunities.
      Keep an open mind. You never know what industries can put your skills to work.
      What about looking into municipal gov’t jobs in your city-not directly pertaining to elected officials?
      Volunteer to work on municipal gov’t projects or committees. My boss volunteers one morning a month to work with a committee for our city that is involved with disaster preparedness. Lots of connections are made there.

    2. Pippa K*

      Hi, I’m a political science prof, so maybe I can offer some useful suggestions. First, a lot depends on what you’re actually interested in doing, since political science degrees can take you into a wide variety of fields, not just things that seem like the practice of politics. You’ll have by now not only a knowledge base, but a set of skills in finding and evaluating sources of information, analysis, constructing and presenting explanations and arguments, etc. If your writing skills are especially strong, that alone will set you apart from a lot of your peers. Lots of fields welcome these skills.

      I’ve got former students who work in nonprofits, government jobs, academia, the military, finance, etc. One thing that helped most of them was having some subject-matter expertise as a starting point for that first job search – maybe they’d done their senior thesis on education policy or homelessness, or had a summer job in refugee services. These don’t define what they do forever after, but it helped them both in presenting themselves as qualified applicants and in narrowing what they were interested (or not) in doing.

      As for campus career centers, quality varies. Alison has some advice about their pros and cons on the site. You might find them useful for helping to identify possible jobs, but not for application advice – or they might not even have a robust jobs list. Depends on your institution, and I’m sure you’ve already checked them out, but I’ve found that some have weirdly limited notions of the jobs for which a political science degree might be relevant.

    3. August*

      Agree with everything Irene’s outlined! I was in a similar position when I graduated, and I ended up in AmeriCorps. If you can make the living stipend work, it’s a fantastic way to break into nonprofit or government work in the area . When my AmeriCorps term was over, my supervisors kept an eye out for any other local nonprofit openings and recommended me to their contacts, which was a huge leg up I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Also, AmeriCorps VISTA get preferential hiring for federal government jobs (although I didn’t go that route, so I can’t speak for its effectiveness).

      1. Washi*

        Yes, I was a polisci major and did AmeriCorps! I lucked out with a pretty good org, and was able to get a permanent job there after two terms. The financial side is tough, but if you’re not getting any other bites, I think it will do more for you career-wise than entry level retail/food service/call center (and those jobs are probably pretty scarce right now too!)

    4. Toodie*

      I would’ve thought there would be plenty of internship-like opportunities with campaigns?

      1. Pippa K*

        Yeah, but generally unpaid. I’m awfully tired of trying to help students navigate a system that presents internships as necessary career preparation, when so many are unpaid or stipend-only and thus feasible only for those from better-off families, etc. Doing volunteer work is great, but companies and other entities that expect full time work for less than full time pay are not great.

    5. Ann Perkins*

      Former poli sci major here. There really are a lot of different fields it can work in, but for your first job out of college and in a tough economic environment, you might need to branch out from what your ideal might have been. Nonprofit work is good. Look at law firms – they might need clerks or paralegals and would love a poli sci major. Look at compliance positions – they might be in fields you’re not familiar with like banking or health care but a lot of times you just need to have the right skill set to be able to learn the rules and teach people how to follow them.

      My BG: I graduated in ’09 so also very few jobs for entry level people with a BA. Almost everybody I graduated with went to grad school. I did a full-time AmeriCorps program (also a great option, it’s not fulltime pay but usually you get a stipend + all your expenses covered) and then a few years of paralegal work and now I work in a regulatory position in finance.

    6. Reformed Campaign Staffer*

      Hello! My undergrad is in Poli Sci so I understand the concern. As others have mentioned, it’s hard to suggest a path to take without know what you really want to do. Obviously if you’re looking at campaigns, this would be an excellent time, I know Biden’s campaign pays their interns (not sure about Trump). If you’re looking to go the nonprofit route, that can be trickier because unpaid internships are still pretty standard. Pippa K makes some good points about transferable skills.

      Personally, I did three cycles of campaign work as staff – one as entry level on a presidential race, then as a senior organizer on an issues-based campaign that was a longer term job, and then as senior staff on a senate race. Full disclosure – I took a semester off in my senior year for the presidential race (a job I got after interning) and then the other two jobs required me to move, one of them across the county. When I was tired of not really putting down roots, I started in nonprofits doing development and outreach work, and eventually ended up where I am now doing public relations in a large organization that is very “corporate”.

      So long story short – what types of internships and jobs are you looking at and thinking about applying for, because that’s really the cornerstone.

    7. miro*

      I’d recommend finding the council of nonprofits for your state, as they’ll often (always?) have a jobs board. If you’re in a position to possibly relocate after graduation (or even just have a car and the willingness to commute to a nearby town or something), broadening your geographic scope is one way to increase the number of relevant positions coming your way.

    8. NervousCollegeKid*

      Thanks so much for all the advice! this was my first time commenting on an open thread so I wasn’t sure what to expect but all your input has been really helpful! I guess part of my problem is that I haven’t narrowed down exactly what I want to do yet and could see myself working for a nonprofit, elected official, government agency or political consulting firm (I’ve had intern experience in 3 of those fields and enjoyed the work in each). Also in terms of an internship for the fall I’m required to work with a local community organization for my minor so that rules out Campaigns for the moment, unfortunately.I graduate in December and will definitely keep all this advice in mind especially the Americorps program and the professional networking groups! Thanks again!

  62. Victoria*

    I am giving an informational interview this afternoon. I’m new to my role, but in a unique position, as I recently pivoted from academia to industry and the person I’m talking to is hoping to do that as well. Any pointers would be helpful. I plan to let her guide the conversation for the most part.

    1. rageismycaffeine*

      Oh it’s really interesting to see someone asking for advice on informational interviews from the side of the interviewee and not the other way around!

      The only real pointer I have is to be honest (but, you know, not like “I’m only going to share the ugly stuff” honest). Is it hard to get into your industry? Are there cautions about salary levels your interviewer would know about? What kind of stuff did you wish you knew when you were in the position of moving from academia to industry? Tell the unvarnished truth without scaring her off. Whenever I’ve been on the asking side of an informational interview I have most appreciated it when people give me fair warning on things.

  63. Saraquill*

    Due to quarantine, I’m back to working at home. My boss has asked me to complete a certain number of hours a week, however, my assignments are very short, and I’m running out of billable hours as a result. More than once I’ve asked the coworker who sends me assignments to please give me more work, that I’d like to fill my allotted hours. Our boss has been BCC’d into these emails.

    Other than to keep asking, I’m not sure what else to do. Thoughts?

    1. Kathenus*

      Your boss may not be paying much attention to the BCC’d emails. If your boss wants a certain number, your current assignments don’t meet that, and the coworker isn’t sending you more when you ask – I’d suggest going to your boss directly with the whole situation and asking how she’d like you to handle it. Don’t assume she’s seeing the emails and putting it all together, have a direct conversation so that she knows what’s happening and what you need to meet her guidelines.

      1. valentine*

        I’d suggest going to your boss directly with the whole situation
        Yes. They may assume the bcc is an FYI and the other person is giving you enough.

  64. moneypenny*

    I was recently brought onto a team through the new year that does work for my company (normally I’m on the client services side, like a creative agency), and the difference in leadership and teamwork has been night and day. I’m so happy with it, to the point that I get sad when I think it might end in a short four months. Two higher ups mentioned they hope to keep me around “until or beyond” that date though, so fingers are crossed. It’s really helped me see how toxic and unhealthy my local team is, and how impossible it feels to go back to that environment feeling like I will try to introduce healthier ways of doing work and feeling equally that it will fail.

  65. Hurry Up & Wait*

    I graduated with a PhD into the pandemic (ugh) and I’ve been actively applying to jobs, with hundreds of applications submitted since the beginning of the year. I’m finally getting some traction on part-time positions to get me by as things start to reopen in my area and I’ve had two rounds of interviews for a full-time role (related to my degree!) that I’m hopeful and excited about.
    My question is about timing. I turned down one part-time job offer because they essentially said I’d need to promise to be there for, say, ~6 months without leaving for a full time job because of the training involved. I thought I’d hear back this week about whether I got to the next round of interviews for this full-time job, and I’m worried I will have to take a PT job then leave right away if I get a FT offer. (For a little context on the FT position — I passed a technical test and the technical interview, which were the first two “rounds” and they told me it’s pretty tough to find someone with my specific background, which was encouraging. I know there’s at least one more round of interviewing left.)

    Does anyone have advice about how to manage the timing of conflicting offers? Do I just need to be ready to leave a PT job without feeling guilty about it? Or do I gamble on this FT position even though I’m waiting on more information?

    1. irene adler*

      Always look out for your best interests.
      You are the only one who can.
      No one else will.
      Does the Part-Time job offer special compensation of some sort to stay the full 6 months? Are you expected to sign a contract promising to stay the full 6 months? If not, then they get what might be coming to them-folks who leave for full-time work in the middle of the 6 month training.

      1. Hurry Up & Wait*

        Thank you so much for this comment, it’s extremely encouraging to be reminded that I have to put myself first.

      2. miro*

        I think that the request to stay 6 months is not unreasonable. After all, 6 months is a relatively short time to be at a job, even a part-time one–a friend of mine has a PT, retail position where people are expected to (and do, in every case I know of, though it’s not an official/contractual obligation) stay on for at least a full year because of the specialized training/knowledge involved. Obviously there are plenty of positions that don’t have those sorts of expectations, but I’d disagree with the idea that jobs that do should provide extra compensation through that period.

        This is definitely a bit soapbox-y here, but a PT job is a job in its own right and I don’t buy the idea that PT jobs have it coming or that PT workers should be expected to up and leave for FT jobs as soon as they can.

        And of course, if there’s *any* chance that this job would come up as a reference in the future it’s probably best to stay for at least that long–if not for love of the company, than because sometimes it is in your best professional interests to follow expectations even when it’s not required.

    2. miro*

      If you’re anticipating leaving right away, as you describe, I’d advise against taking and quickly leaving a PT job (unless you’re in a dire financial situation, obviously). There may always be extenuating circumstances, but especially if you’re taking a job that does ask you to stay 6 months (and it’s not clear if that’s true of multiple PT jobs you’re applying for or just the one) you probably shouldn’t take it if you can’t reasonably commit to such a thing.

      As I alluded to above, I do think a lot of this depends on your financial situation. If you can afford to take your time and wait on a FT position for a bit (ideally while still applying for other stuff just in case) then that’s the way to go, but if you need money now then that’s a different calculus.

  66. Canuck*

    I have inherited a problem employee. He is a perfectionist who generates great quality work. But he’s a long term employee, and he’s the only person who has ever done this job, and the productivity level for his position has been accepted as “normal”, since there isn’t anyone to compare him to. I haven’t yet dug into it enough to figure out what would be reasonable for an average employee, but since no one but me realizes it, I have let it continue while I deal with bigger issues elsewhere.

    He has two big issues that I’m struggling with how to address, all of which I believe stem from the perfectionist nature.

    1) His perfectionist attitude doesn’t just apply to his own work, he expects the rest of the organization to have the same standards. He constantly raises legitimate but immaterial issues that have been accepted by management, usually because the cost to do something perfectly is too high, so we do what we can best do with what we have. I frequently have to say “No, we decided not to go with the gold plated llama, as the addition cost wasn’t worth the benefit.” Or “Yes, there’s a typo in the llama feeding manual. We didn’t have enough time to do it perfectly, but the llamas were hungry so we had to send it out as-is.”

    2) His attitude and approach, including his need to talk everything to death, is rubbing people the wrong way. So much so that he is now being excluded from meetings because he will drag them down and eat 150% of his allotted time. One of the project managers he deals with finds him such a PITA that she would rather develop alternate ways to feed him information just to avoid having him at her meetings, because the chance he will derail their meeting agenda is too high.

    This seems to be such a deeply ingrained part of his character that I don’t know where to start!!! Help!

    1. Colette*

      I think the first step is to name them as problems.

      “I know you strive to produce perfect work, but that’s not our goal here – we want to produce work that is very good, but in order to get it done in a reasonable timeframe, there will be occasional errors.” – actually, now that I say that, is this really a problem? I.e, does he bring it up once and let it go, or does he keep talking about it even after you’ve said it’s a choice you’ve made?

      “I’ve heard from people in your project meetings that you are talking too much and making the meetings longer than necessary. Going forward, I need you to make sure you are listening more than you are talking, and confining your remarks to topics on the agenda.” – I think this is one where the more specific you are, the more effective it can be – and this may be an opening to talk about how you’re not going for perfect, just very good.

      1. Canuck*

        “Does he bring it up once and let it go, or does he keep talking about it”…

        There are two issues. He brings it up for every instance he sees, including ones that are not his responsibility. And he won’t let it go until I explicitly tell him that we’ve accepted it as is and to let it go.

        As a new manager to this group I’ve taken the approach of being very open to hearing about issues so I can understand if there are problems I wasn’t previously aware of. But this guy is taking advantage of this to nitpick, and it is consuming way too much of my time. Nine out of ten of his issues are nit picks, with one out of ten being a legitimate concern.

    2. Koala dreams*

      You don’t need him to change his personality, you need him to change his behaviour. So the first step is to identify the behavious that need to change, like you do here. The next step is to have a conversation with him, where you tell him that he needs to change A, B and C. After a short time, you can schedule a follow up meeting to discuss any progress (or lack of progress).

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I think the very first step when you inherit a problem employee is to get your boss on board with the idea that he may have to go if he won’t change. If he’s been allowed to act a certain way for his entire time at the company, I bet he’ll be resistant to you telling him he has to change. Why should he change? He’s been allowed to do what he’s done! Even if — in some ways, especially if — he’s been coached on these behaviors and been allowed to stay despite not changing.

      When you name the problem and tell him what he needs to do differently, I think you have to be able to say if (likely when) he resists you, “Regardless of what happened before, these are the standards we now expect you to adhere to in order to continue in this role. Can you do that?” But you can’t say that with conviction unless you know that you have the support of your management that he can and will be replaced if he doesn’t perform to your standards. It has to be clear to him that *the company is enforcing a new standard*, not “OP, the evil new boss, is arbitrarily naming a new standard.”

    4. Gumby*

      For 2, in addition to a big picture conversation about problem-employee’s behavior in meetings, perhaps the people running the meetings could use some training or tips. Because quite a bit of that can be ameliorated with good meeting-leadership.

      If time is actually allotted – set a timer. I am not kidding. The most efficient meeting that I am in every week has a 9 minute limit for technical presentations. There is a timer. When it goes off, we all clap for the person who was doing the presentation even if it rings in the middle of a sentence. Generally someone is nice enough to ask a question during the 2-minute Q&A (yes, there is a timer for that too) that is aimed at letting the presenter finish off the original thought.

      1. Canuck*

        Yeah, the challenge is that he is the only person in a department of ~40 who isn’t on board with efficient meetings. Sure, it is an opportunity for people running meetings to get experienced in how to handle people like my guy, but they would essentially be changing their style exclusively because of one guy.

    5. !!*

      I would truly love to know if this is a behavior that *can* be changed. I think my coworker is really amazingly smart, but lacks common sense about things that we mere mortals would not think twice about. As an example, when I assign a ticket to another team member, I might include one additional note confirming why the ticket is being assigned, so they receive two emails, one is the assignment, the other the note. My coworker, will not only include that note, but will also include another note with the details of the issue/request that are already included in the assignment email, it’s not uncommon I receive 4 0r 5 emails when being assigned a ticket. He creates tickets (for himself) if someone breathes in his direction, and has a large number of aging (some from 2019!) open tickets because he does not feel comfortable closing them out until they meet some level of criteria only he understands, even when he’s directed to close out the ticket by our manger. He takes up a good deal of time during out meetings going into minute (and unnecessary) detail about what he’s working on, even when asked to speak at a very high level. I have a feeling, between him and my crappy coworker, my former manager created another position for herself *just* to get away! :)

    6. bunniferous*

      Can you talk to him about the 80/20 rule? Sometimes “Done” is better than “perfect.”

  67. choromatsu*

    I’m in a new job and feeling kind of stuck? Never been in this type of situation before :(

    I currently have two people I report to. One is my direct boss and the other is my boss’s boss. In this new job, my direct boss is obviously overworked (which is why I was hired to be his helper), which leaves him with little to no time to teach or train me. In the past 3 weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve mostly been in contact with boss’s boss to get daily assignments or tasks though I make sure to cc status updates to my boss as well. But none of the work that I’ve been doing has to do with what I was mainly hired for. Like I’m supposed to be helping with a lot of the data entry and documentations in the company’s database system but I haven’t been taught how to use the database or see documents that I’m supposed to be entering data from. Instead, I’m learning how to set up Microsoft Team meetings or emailing people to send me PDF files.

    But now my assignments have dried up and I’m feeling paranoid about why they’re not giving me more training or work… I got a weekly agenda in my first week and now I’m getting little to no emails from them, leaving me to ask other employees if I can help them or trying to learn more data entry skills online. Is this normal because both of my supervisors are ridiculously busy? Should I be worried that I still haven’t really received much training? Can’t help but wonder why they’d hire me if I’m not really helping them out.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Yes this is normal. It’s a common catch 22 for managers who are stupidly busy to not have time to train the people who could help. It’s also common for some people to not see the benefit of stopping and taking the time to train. You can spot the second type with the phrase “It’s quicker if I just do it myself” The third type is people who aren’t used to delegating work… there is a learning curve for this activity and it’s hard! The last type are people who are martyrs and for some reason get off on playing the “OMG I’m too busy for anything” card.

      Not sure which your new boss is, but you can try a few things which should give you a little more insight into what you are dealing with.

      1. Ask for alternatives to them training you. You mentioned a database, can you find some classes or ask them for another employee who may be able to train you in the mechanics.
      2. (This one may be hard if you are working remote) … take work. Find ways to intercept work from your bosses and let them know you have it (Provided you know what needs to be done).
      3. Be a pest :) (in a good way) Right now it’s easy to forget about you and with absolutely no offense meant you are a bit of an extra workload right now. So you are going to have to keep being visible. Try asking questions like “I know it may be too much right now to train me in the database. So are there other smaller things you can show me that I can take over to help free up some of your time? Even if it’s temporary until we get the database training sorted” or “I know that the database training seems daunting right now and time consuming. Is there a way we can break it down into smaller chunks, so even if I’m not doing the process from A to Z, I might be able to at least do A to E and we can continue to build on that as you have time”

      To answer your question, don’t worry. It is totally normal to hire someone and not have time to train them right out of the gate.

      If it helps, I was totally beyond overworked at one point and had no time. I hired someone and basically would spend 1/2 hour showing them how to do something and let them loose saying “Ok find all of these and do this thing I just showed you. When you run out come back to me” Then I’d show them the next thing and say the same thing but with “Ok, now you know A and B, keep up with all the new As and go through this pile to find all of the B’s when you run out come back to me”

      It was not ideal for either of us, but we got there in the end ( and to this day I get made fun of for my training regimen)

  68. MissBliss*

    Today is my second (maybe third?) day of full-on sobbing before lunch. It is work frustration, coupled with the fact that I am by myself almost all the time. I’ve reached out to an old therapist and will be talking with her again soon, but I also feel like I need a real, solid, break from work. Around this time every year I would take a week long vacation to go to the beach and just… do… nothing. And that’s not an option this year. (Yes, I can take a week break and do nothing, but “doing nothing” at home also means taking care of 2 dogs and 4 cats, being surrounded by city noise, doing the dishes, and it also does not include any swimming, uninterrupted reading time, or incredibly cheap and delicious tacos.)

    I am afraid to tell my boss that I am going to need to take time every other week for a medical appointment (aforementioned therapy, but I don’t really want to say it’s therapy). I’ve already had a lot since quarantine started (I’ve had a persistent cough since March, though if I had COVID it was a very mild case, and doctors have seen no evidence of any sort of damage) and I’ve received questions about some of those appointments, and I don’t really want to have to say “I am absolutely losing my shit and so if I don’t have time off I am going to explode, leave, or die.” But I am also absolutely losing my shit. What I want the most is to take every Friday off from now until forever, but unless they’d let me use some sick time, I don’t have that much leave.

    I just don’t know how to approach this. Talk to my boss? Talk to HR? Scream into a pillow on a regular basis? I want to be able to get through a whole work week without having a breakdown. I don’t know how I am supposed to continue like this for another year.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Why wouldn’t they let you use sick leave for medical appointments? That’s a weird rule.

      My suggestion would be to take the one week vacation. A boring vacation is better than no vacation at all. You earned it. Vacation days are part of your compensation, and just as you wouldn’t ask for lower pay because the beach is closed, you also shouldn’t cancel your vacation. Eat on napkins or eat out of the box, read in bed or watch tv, and cry over the beach and the tacos in your pillow.

      1. MissBliss*

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear (I was only very recently post-tears at the time of writing). They would let me use sick leave for appointments, but my appointments are only about 45 minutes. But I feel like on top of using limited amounts of sick leave for therapy, I really need a day off once a week. That would be feasible if I could charge, like, half of them to sick leave and the other half to annual leave, but not feasible if I couldn’t. And I don’t know if they’ll let me charge 10ish full days (before the end of this year) days to sick leave for mental health purposes.

        I’m trying to figure out when I can take a vacation. It would be best if I could take a week before the end of this month, but project deadlines make that near impossible. I could probably take the Friday before Labor Day off and get a nice long weekend, but that still isn’t a real vacation… After that, the next logical time would be the end of October. Which might be possible. But seems so, so far away.

        1. Koala dreams*

          I’d recommend you to plan some extra time for the appointments, therapy can be tiring and you might need some time to recover. If you feel unwell, it’s possible to take a few days of sick leave to rest and get the energy to plan something more long term. Illness doesn’t wait until it’s convenient (and anyway, it isn’t convenient at all in my experience). You can also bring up the question of sick leave with your therapist, and see what they recommend. I’m not sure why you think you can’t take sick leave for mental health illness, I’ve never heard of any place that differentiates between physical health sick leave and mental health sick leave. Is that a thing?

          If you can’t take a week long vacation, your plan of fridays off sounds like a good compromise. And who knows, in five weeks time you might feel better, or maybe you feel worse and will need to take sick leave anyway.

    2. Nacho*

      Is there any way you could board your pets for a few days just to pay somebody else to take care of them for you? Or order take out for a few days instead of cooking and doing dishes?

    3. miro*

      Is there a possibility of you rearranging your schedule so that you don’t work Fridays (but still work the 40 or 35 or whatever hours per week that’s expected)? It’s not clear when you say that you want to take Fridays off whether you want to be working fewer hours or just fewer days, but if it’s the latter that might be doable depending on your workplace. If it’s the former, then even if you do have enough leave keep in mind that your workplace might be not be down with you working short weeks indefinitely (or they might! again, depends a lot on your specific place).

  69. Curls*

    TLDR: My coworker is dropping the ball on their half of a project and I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning.

    My coworker and I report to the same supervisor and during covid times we’ve been able to dedicate a lot of time to digging into back-burner projects. One of those is that we’re supposed to be collaboratively updating a lot of documents our department maintains and in most cases reforming them completely. We decide which document to do next, host it in a shared location, and let a week or two pass during which we’re supposed to be getting in there on our own and making updates and fleshing out the new page.

    What’s really happening is that I’m doing all of the heavy lifting, outlining the pages completely, and then they check only right before our meeting and make a few small grammar/outline suggestions. Then we refine it and present it to our supervisor and I’m honestly kind of irritated to be sharing credit at this point. The coworker is in a junior role to mine but has been at the company a few more months than I have.

    I haven’t said anything so far because I can’t think of a way to not come off as bratty, and maybe there’s nothing to be said. What would you do? For the record, I’m not swooping in and pouring hours in to the edits super early in the week or anything, I let the document sit there for days at a time, but eventually just cave and start working on it.

    1. Colette*

      I’d suggest you each work on a document and then swap, rather than working on the same one. That way you each take a stab at it but it’s not up to you to do the major work on every one.

      1. Curls*

        I love this idea, thank you! We have plenty of updates to do so it’s feasible, and we’d still both be contributing.

    2. Kathenus*

      As long as you keep doing the heavy lifting, your coworker will keep slacking off – there’s no consequence to her behavior. Since she’s in a more junior role, would it make sense for you to develop a task list and deadlines for you both, so that both the delineation of work and timeline are both clear? Then only do your part. Do not do hers, let there be a consequence if she doesn’t do her part. No more ‘caving’.

    3. Cubicle Kid*

      How collaborative must the process be in terms of the outlining and writing? If you choose two documents to tackle during that two-week period, you could each do the heavy lifting on one and then trade them to do a spelling/grammar check on the other person’s work before the meeting.

      (That’s assuming doing it by yourself without your co-worker participating is inequitable, but not too much of a workload burden for you. If it’s too much work…Colette’s suggestion might work!)

    4. Emilitron*

      I was going to suggest saying “Hey Jane, I won’t have much time to spend this week. Now that you’ve seen the type of end product we’re working for, I need you to do a first pass by Wednesday so I can do the final grammar check before the Thursday meeting.” But I actually like the idea of upping the ante to two documents and swapping them back and forth.

  70. Quill*

    I felt great about being in-office for approximately 2 hours this morning, now I’m sitting here with some panic in my throat waiting to inform my boss that while I have not finished with the pile of mail on my desk, I can see the bottom of it now.

  71. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

    With corona, the break room should be reserved and no more than one person at a time should be eating in there, mouths are uncovered! The new guy likely didn’t know that you ate in there at the same time for five year. So, go to him and say because of corona you want to establish a schedule, and tell him your long-standing practice and see if he is willing to accomodate you. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that he isn’t as attached to his lunch time as you are to yours. In any case, this can be worked out.

    1. valentine*

      So, go to him and say because of corona you want to establish a schedule, and tell him your long-standing practice
      This is contradictory, unkind, and downright aggressive. There’s no need to lie to the guy, much less to manipulate him into solving Just Peachy’s problems with him.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She needs to have the authority to make these kinds of decisions first. I’ll eat someone’s face on the HR level if they start trying to do this on their own, don’t try to manage other people.

      If it’s an issue with corona concerns, you need to have the managers make this a rule, not a random employee. You don’t get to make rules for everyone else when it’s not your job.

      It’s a breakroom, not a conference room. You don’t need to reserve it. Most companies are not doing this.

      And it’s easily seen as harassment and intimidation of a new employee.

      1. Amtelope*

        It’s a breakroom with one “small” table, though. Management should at least make a rule that no more than one person can eat at the table at the same time, which would provide an opening for talking about how to share the breakroom.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I am on board with her taking it to management to have them make this rule.

          Then they can make a schedule if they see it as a reasonable request.

          Honestly, if it’s that much of a concern, they should be locking the breakroom and everyone needs to stay in their designated areas, go to their cars or outside to eat if necessary.

          How’s disinfecting the place after each use? If we want to go that route, it’s not enough to just not be sharing the same air, the virus lives on surfaces. You shouldn’t be sharing spaces in general from most reports.

  72. Anonymous Hippo*

    Interview Red Flag Questions

    I tend to look for what’s wrong, rather than what’s right in any given situation, so I may be overthinking some things. Had a first round phone screen with a company last week, which I felt like I utterly killed, and they are planning to move quickly, so that is magnifying all the little things that concerned me.

    1. It was a confidential posting, not showing the company. Their explanation was that the current manager has been there for years and years and wants to retire, but they don’t want the team to know because they will be upset. They say that there won’t be any issue with someone coming in because “they aren’t like that” but the reluctance to tell them bugs me.

    2. They just bought this division in Nov. So now I worry this “retirement” is more about the new parent company and less about actual retirement. Would it be weird to ask to meet with the outgoing manager if I get further along in this process (they said next step is hiring manager and one other division level leader (peer), followed by another peer level interview).

    3. Glass door reviews. How much stock to you take in these, because they have a few doosies. All along the same lines, management is stupid and doesn’t appreciate the talent. This is the parent company though, not the specific division I’d be in.

    4. Job description really harps on juggling multiple projects and being flexible with schedules (ie working OT, not actual flexible schedule). I worry that means they are understaffed and/or have unrealistic expectations. Yes, someone in this role absolutely needs to multi-task, but to mention it in like 4 of the bullet points on the job description seems a bit much. Of course this could just come down to someone not editing the job description as well as they could have.

    1. irene adler*

      For #1: I’d want to know why they aren’t promoting from within. Employees usually are aware when someone is getting close to retiring. So why be secretive? When new manager ‘appears’ won’t the team be upset as well? How is that upset going to be handled? Who will handle it-you?

      For #2: as you will be managing the very same folks the outgoing manager did, I would think meeting with this outgoing manager would be an excellent way to get ‘up to speed’ on the dept and reports. If they say ‘no’, they should have a really good reason.

      For #3: Might compose some questions for management regarding how they show that they ‘appreciate’ their employees. My take on Glassdoor is that there are always a few ‘whiners’. But if there’s a theme or trend, then you might want to broach this. Do they feel similarly about the parent company?

      For #4: Might compose some questions regarding their expectations regarding project and schedule handling (and this would be a good topic to discuss with outgoing manager). Is this a 40-50 hr/week job or an 80 hr/week job? Maybe even ask some hypotheticals regarding how they might handle any understaffing or meeting deadline issues you were to raise.

      My 2 cents.

  73. C*

    Apologies for the venting, but I am at a loss on how to get out of retail right now. It’s wearing on me emotionally and physically, plus it often feels like I’m putting my health at risk just so people can come in and browse because they don’t know what else to do with their time.

    I’m a designer who knows some front-end web coding and has, at this point, nearly a decade of retail, logistics, and customer service experience, which can feasibly transfer to project management and client relations. I don’t have a network. I have a very hard time talking myself up, but I surpass expectations in almost everything I do. I don’t have time to take on freelance work that has no possibility of leading to an actual position, since I am working full-time and would like to not lose my benefits or my piddly income.

    With no end to the pandemic in sight, I don’t know what to do. If anyone has advice, or just commiseration, I’m all ears. I’m taking the week off of applying for open positions, because I need a break from the rejection on top of everything else.

    1. Beeb*

      I hear you. <3 Pandemic or not, your heart's just not in retail. Keep applying, take breaks if you must, but don't ever stop applying. You'll get out as long as you keep on.

    2. Lorine*

      I sympathize! I worked in retail for a while and it can be so awful in normal circumstances, let along during the pandemic. (Plus I always had a sneaking suspicion that the schedules are so all over the place to make it difficult to escape.)
      I found a job outside of retail by looking for positions that emphasized customer service and being able to talk and build relationships with lots of different people from different walks of life. Have you looked for positions that work with member organizations? Professional associations, nonprofits, religious organizations if that fits, schools, all of those types of places need someone to communicate with/manage/grow their membership. I think the front-end web coding would also help there.
      Another thing I did was keep track of the keywords that came up as I was job searching, like “membership”, “relationship management”, “community”, etc. If there’s a job listing that you like that has a keyword you haven’t searched before, I would type that into a search engine and see what comes up. There are so many jobs you wouldn’t think of that are out there. Good luck!

      1. C*

        Those are good ideas :) When I’ve built my confidence back up a bit, I’m going to try that as part of my search. Mostly I’ve been looking at agencies and brands, because I feel like I need the experience of working in a creative team, as opposed being That Person at a small org.

  74. What’s with Today, today?*

    The very small media company I work for is trying to hire a commission only based salesperson with no luck. For various reasons, it’s been almost a decade since they had to hire a new salesperson, and I’m thinking they are out of touch. Pretty much everyone that has applied is asking what the base salary is. My bosses are shaken by this; there is no base. They offer commission vs. draw the first six months. Is commission-only even a thing anymore?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Honestly, not really. It’s generally a pretty bad idea anyway which is why places don’t really do it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t think it has been for quite some time. My dad’s B2B business had an opening for a commission-only salesperson that they literally didn’t fill for 20 years because nobody was interested in it. They did eventually hire someone – a guy who had retired from a similar business and literally just wanted to basically drive around and talk to people to keep him occupied, and if he occasionally made a few bucks, cool – but that was it, and that was only in the last year or two before my dad retired and sold the business.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        I kind of had this feeling. All of our salespeople currently are in their late 70s/early 80s and this is a post-retirement job for them. Further proof I need to leave. I’m on air, not sales.

    3. lapgiraffe*

      It’s still a thing in my world (wine/alcohol sales) but it’s either a very established territory with establishment brands (low risk and good money, plus additional bonus opportunity often up to 15%) or a BS job with a small company looking to take advantage. The latter tends to attract the youngest, dumbest, and most desperate of the bunch, and they have incredible turnover. They are also not as trusted a company to do business with in the market and I think all of these facts go hand in hand. But even our old industry is turning the tide and many roles are being converted to a base/commission structure.

      I had a friend leave wine for small media after a move, it was a 100% commission ad sales role, thinking that because she did it with big success in wine that she’d have no problem. She lasted less than six months and made no money and it really soured her on life. It seems that no one lasts in those roles (at least at that particular company) and they definitely struggle to find people. I know as a salesperson I wouldn’t even apply to consider it.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ve seen some sales roles that turn into commission only once the rep gets established because their pipeline is setup in a way that they can earn a lot of money. My experience with jobs that start commission only is that they are an absolute joke. Your bosses are going to be waiting a long time to get someone even remotely passable for a candidate.

  75. #AskForMore?*

    I’m in a weird salary negotiation thing – I got a call yesterday from HR saying basically “We’re not making you an offer yet – but we’d probably like to, but we know you said you were looking for $X and we want to know if you would accept $X-5k.

    I wasn’t expecting that; I felt kind of weird because I didn’t actually have an offer yet; so I hedged and said I was really excited about the role & would consider an offer in its entirety, accounting for benefits, etc.

    But what’s tripping me up is, in my interview with the hiring manager, they asked my salary expectation and I said X+10k, not X! The HM said they didn’t know the range they were planning to offer yet, but it was likely to be lower – but they continued the interview process. I was so surprised by the call from HR that I didn’t clarify what range they thought I was asking for – but I’ve been racking my brains since trying to think of if I said anything that made them think my target was really X-10k.

    My instinct is that I should wait for a real offer but… should I get back in touch with HR and clarify that I really wanted X+10k, so X is already a compromise on my end? Should I contact the hiring manager directly? All my market research indicates my target is really very reasonable, and even slightly below-market; but also… it’s a tough market these days? And I’m worried that if I negotiate too hard, they’ll just pull the offer / figure I wouldn’t be happy long term there.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      You handled it well in the moment, and you can negotiate from whatever offer you get.

      It doesn’t matter to them that $X is already a compromise for you; their goal is not to compromise on a number that’s somewhere between what they want to pay and what you want to be paid. Their goal (if they’re good at what they’re doing) is to make an offer that is 1) within their budget, 2) internally equitable, and 3) a number that makes you enthusiastic about joining the team. Criteria 1 and 2 might make criteria 3 impossible for you — and of course you can and should negotiate once they make a formal offer — but that’s a choice for you to make.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      What’s actually your floor? I think replying with “actually, I said x+10, not x” would be very strong – but maybe you don’t want to be strong.

      Unless it’s a very senior role, a $15k discrepancy suggests you and the employer are not on the same page about the position. Further (speaking from experience) it isn’t desirable to go in at the top of their price range, as it’s likely they will consider that you’ve had all the pay rises you can get for years.

      Alternatively, can you negotiate benefits or conditions which make up for the drop? Better insurance? More PTO? More WFH? What would make X-5 acceptable?

      Do you need the new job? Do you want it?

    3. lapgiraffe*

      1) I’m really working hard right now to tell myself repeatedly until I believe it that tough market be damned – I am worth more money. I know caveat that any number of situations could mean you need the money and can’t be so choosy, but if you have the time and freedom then don’t settle. I did with my last job and I was so disappointed in myself for years, pretty much every month as I paid my bills :-/

      2) I think in this situation I’m in favor of calling Hr back and saying that you were caught off guard/distracted at the time of the call and wanted to make sure you clarified your needs. Then tell them what you need. Matter of fact, neutral tone, all the Alison tips and tricks, but just nip it in the bud so they don’t come back with a bad offer and then you’re in the hot seat again. I guess it’s a way to take some control back by being proactive.

      Good luck!!

    4. CM*

      I’d wait for the offer. Then you can say “As you know, I initially asked for X+10, so I’m wondering if there’s any flexibility on salary.” (And you could say more if you want like “X-5 would be a salary decrease from my current job” or “I’ve had similar offers for X+5” or whatever)

  76. lobsterbot*

    Anyone else have to take the very smarmy and kind of insultingly sunny linked-in-learning training on “how to work from home”. While there were a few good tips in it, it was recorded pre-COVID to address people who work from home as a choice or for a new opportunity and I feel like I want that 3 hours back.

    1. CM*

      Three hours???
      That sucks. My company has a website and I spent three minutes looking at it which I consider well-spent. Three hours, I would not be happy about.

  77. Casey*

    Oh, I just thought of two more questions that have been on my mind recently. They’re semi-related, so I’ll post them together.

    (1) Does anyone have advice for a virtual career fair? My school’s is at the end of September and I’ll be looking for a full-time position. I’ve been to the in-person fairs, but I was never really interested in interning with any of the present companies. Now I want a job! I’m pretty confident in person and over chat/text, but there’s something about that initial video contact that’s worrying me.

    (2) I’ll relocate almost anywhere. For real. I’m not tied to the city I go to school in or the city I currently work in or the area my family lives in. I’ve got preferences (like “within two hours of the ocean”) but I’m willing to start out somewhere that doesn’t fit those preferences. I. will. go. anywhere. When I’ve told recruiters that, they kind of make a little face that I don’t know how to interpret. Should I be saying something like “I’d love to be somewhere in the New England area, but I’m willing to go anywhere”? Am I creating more work for a recruiter who just wants to know where to send my resume? Do I look desperate????

    1. Kathenus*

      For #2, maybe adjust your phrasing a bit. I’m in a niche field, basically most major areas have one of my industry, but to get into the field many people need to move for opportunities. Same for advancement opportunities, unless you’re lucky. So early in my career I was the same ‘I’ll go anywhere’, then as I experienced more parts of the country, learned what type of facility I preferred, and gained some skills so was a bit more valuable as a possible employee, I was pickier.

      The problem with saying you’ll go anywhere is people may think that you aren’t thinking things through, and therefore might be likely to leave quickly if you don’t like the location/situation. I didn’t work through recruiters, so it’s not a directly comparable situation, but phrasing it more along the lines of – ‘I’m fortunate to be at a position in my life where I can be flexible with where I live, and I look forward to getting to know a new part of the country’ might sound less desperate than the I. will. go anywhere. tone. Good luck.

      1. Darren*

        You could also phrase it the other way, “Considering the current job market, and the specifics of my industry I’m aware that relocating is quite likely and I’m happy to do so for the right opportunity.”

        Obviously if the specifics of your industry are such that there are certain specific areas that are more likely to have companies you’d be interest in you could even specifically mention those places as examples to show you are aware where the bulk of this sort of work is done, and that you’d be okay with those areas.

        And how anywhere is your anywhere? Are you still restricted to the same country? Would you happily work in a nearby one? Completely on the other side of the world? Assuming you are American (which it sounds from your post you are) it’d be the rare industry where you’d have to leave the US to do it but there are deployed roles for a number of US companies, plus some companies that aren’t US based but recruit from the same talent pools.

    2. ThePear8*

      Fellow student, I would really love to know the answer to #1 too as virtual career fairs approach in the next few months haha. I did ask the career advisor in charge of putting together one of the career fairs for more details on how it works, and he pretty much told me he doesn’t have many details yet. So…guess I’ll just have to wait and see haha.
      For #2, I’m also pretty open (not quite literally anywhere, but almost anywhere). Usually when recruiters asks something like “Do you have a location preference” or “Are you okay with relocating to xyz city?” I usually just cheerfully and casually say “I’m open to working pretty much anywhere/I’m completely fine with relocating” and keep the conversation moving, and I haven’t noticed any weird reactions. Maybe you’re overthinking it or focusing too much on it – just keep it short and simple, stay professional, and keep it moving.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Frame it as your deep interest in the field, that you are more than happy to move for the right opportunity because finding a good fit in the field is important to you. Be ready to say briefly how you feel you’d be able to make yourself at home in a new community, because some employers like to know you have some tie to the area that indicates you’ll stay a while.

  78. Nacho*

    Has anybody tried joining their offices Toastmasters group? My old boss is heavily involved in ours, so I checked out one of the virtual meetings yesterday. I get that in a meeting with 7 other people it’s not going to be all about me, but between the other speakers and the general opening/closing remarks, I think I only actually spoke for a little over a minute in an hour meeting. It just doesn’t seem worth it.

    1. Librarygal30*

      Most Toastmasters groups will just introduce guests, and have them mention what brought them to the club. Some might invite you to participate in Table Topics, while others won’t. Then, you might get asked for your impression of the meeting. That’s pretty standard for a lot of clubs. Plus, office clubs usually have a tight schedule, because everyone has to go back to work. If you are looking for a club that has more interaction, you might want to explore one that isn’t connected to your job.

  79. Me!*

    How do I handle it when interviewers or recruiters ask me what I’ve been doing since my last job but then assume I don’t want or need a job?

    I’ve been unemployed for a few years, and I’m consistently asked what I’ve been doing—looking for work, and writing and publishing. The creative work seems to be the sticking point. They seem impressed by it, but then they seem to think 1) I must be making scads of money (I’m not!), and 2) as an artist, surely I want to do that work and not their work (I do want it!). Neither of these are true, of course.

    I’m proud of the work I’ve done and I’ve been learning new skills, both hard and soft, from creating my own imprint. This happens even when I relate the skills to the job. But I don’t want to lie about it, because then it sounds like I haven’t been doing anything.

    It happened again recently when I went after a job I’m very qualified for through a staffing company—the client wanted an experienced admin to retire with them and they’re paying really well. The recruiter jumped on my app and called me right away, but after we talked about my creative work, she said she wasn’t sure. I convinced her I was interested and I wanted something stable above all (true). She later emailed me to say she submitted my resume to the client but now has apparently gone on vacation. I followed up with the person her OOO directed me to but have heard nothing.

    I’m disappointed and moving on, since they can’t be arsed to get back to me. (Staffing companies are like roommates; I have crap luck with them.) But how can I frame this going forward so it doesn’t sound like I’m just looking for temporary gigs?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Staffing agencies are both a blessing and a curse. They work on the assumption that everyone is a flake because they see it so often, also there’s still a stigma attached to staffing agencies and the workers they cultivate, so they try really hard to weed out people often too quickly.

      I hate to have to say to keep trying and keep trying to work with them, insistence that you want to work with them is oddly one of the only ways to get them to give you a chance a lot of times. They’re not your actual employer or a standard “employer” in general, where you try and then you sit and wait. They need to be reminded that you exist, that you want to work, that they should find you a job placement, etc.

      I’m sorry you’re now stuck in this junky mess where people want to make that kind of assumption. You’re looking for work, society really needs to get over the idea of “nobody wants to work, everyone only works because they have to.” and then they dodge people they see as not “having” to work because they see it as writing on the wall that you’ll leave quickly or be unreliable. Yuck. we have such a long way to come as a society, needless to say.

      1. Me!*

        I’ve mostly been applying directly, not through agencies. This particular job just happened to be through one. They are weeding me out too because of the employment gap. Which is Not. My. Fault. It is not my fault the job market in my old city sucks so much. I tried. I applied to lots of jobs over here too, but no one would look at me until I moved. I can’t just poof in and out like Five in The Umbrella Academy. Moving took time.

        I just wish people would get their heads out their butts re this writing myth. You wanted to know what I’ve been doing; I told you. Maybe I need to say, “I usually do it in my spare time; since I’ve been out of work, I had more time to do it, but I’m really motivated to be employed again.”

        Maybe she’ll see my email when she gets back on Monday. It’s possible the client hasn’t made up their minds yet.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Ugh.

      I agree with emphasizing stability and maybe benefits (or a path to future benefits, depending on if the job offers them). Have you tried preemptively framing it like it was good fortune to have the creative skills to earn money to get by, but you found relying on publishing and writing for income limits your creative license more than you would like. The ideal scenario for you is a full-time job and keeping your creative projects separate from your income-producing work. Make it sound terrible. I think if I was a staffing agency recruiter, freelance writing might be a fantasy job for me. . .of course, not real freelance writing, but my fantasy version of writing literary nonfiction and collecting big checks and doing what I want all day without having to answer any stupid questions or tell people what to do.

      1. Me!*

        Well it would be a lie to say my creative projects get me by. They do not. The separate work/writing situation has been the norm for years. I work at work; I go home and write at night and on weekends.

        I flat out told her that I need to work to live, that I want something stable, and the job with this client sounded perfect (I left out that I hate front desk but for $45K I’d eat rocks). That did the trick, I think; she pivoted and said, “Well I think I’m going to submit you.” It just annoys the hell out of me that everything seems to be a dead end. Where is the open end?!?!

        I could try something like “I’ve been working on creative projects, i.e. writing and indie publishing fiction. While I really enjoy it, the ROI is miniscule and I want long-term stable employment that allows me to do it in my spare time. I’ve learned X and Y from doing it and I think that could relate well to this job because Z.”

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I like how you phrased it in your last sentence.

          I figured as much on the creative work paying the bills, but I’m a little torn. You can offer the transparency of needing a job, but does that invite questions on if you needed a job, why haven’t you been in the market sooner? Then, does it answer the question of if you scrape together a little nest egg, will you be out for a writing sabbatical, or are you in the job market long-term? It seems like what you said to this recruiter worked, though. Crossing my fingers that you hear back.

          1. Me!*

            I WAS in the market. I’ve been looking the entire time, since I lost my old job. I’ve applied to over 400 jobs. What I usually say is that the job market in my old city hasn’t experienced any growth for a long time (true) and I seem to have outgrown it (also true).

            Nobody over here would look at me until I moved and it took time to do that. Of course, when I got over here and started getting more interviews, the stupid coronavirus shut everything down.

        2. BRR*

          I think that’s good. I would try to emphasize as much as possible that it’s your hobby and not your career (I feel bad calling it a hobby because I know you’ve done so much the word hobby feels diminishing). Can you phrase it that you don’t want to make your creative endeavors your career (like how I love baking but I’d hate to be a baker or run a baker)? I would maybe try and find something to replace stable employment. I work in nonprofits so it might be different but I imagine hiring managers want to know what interests you about a role, which is when you just have to lie because front desk is the devils work.

          1. Me!*

            Lolololllll it is the devil’s work.

            I think if I tried to say I don’t want to make writing a career, my head would explode like that guy in Scanners. I could say it’s definitely a side activity. I refuse to use the word hobby. Writers (and artists) already have enough trouble getting people to take it seriously, because so many people dabble in it AS a hobby that they don’t see it as actual hard work that deserves fair compensation.

            Good point about letting them know why I’m interested in that role. I’ve been trying to do this in my cover letters too. (Does anyone even read them? I keep running into employers who say they didn’t.)

    3. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve been on the hiring side of using staffing agencies and the one thing I’ve noticed is they are very protective of their reputation. (Which I totally understand). So yeah, you need to convince them to put their reputation on you. You don’t have to answer this out loud, but I’m asking to give you something to think about.

      How much are you talking about the creative work? I’m going to assume this is a challenge since it’s your most recent work experience, but are you talking about it too much. Maybe see if you can find ways to redirect and downplay even with direct questions about about.
      – “Oh so you have been writing paper clip graphic novels, tell me a little about that”
      > “Sure I’ve just wrapped up a series that I had been working on for the past several years. It’s been a great experience, but I realized that I miss X, Y, and Z about my previous career. I was just thinking about the time that I ”

      -“So tell me why you are interested in admin work when you are doing this super cool creative work”
      >”When I lost my job doing admin, I fell into the creative work. I’ve been doing it longer than expected, but it’s time to go back to roots and use the skills that I can only use doing admin stuff”

      It can be really easy to fall into the trap of letting the conversation get steered to flashy shiny creative stuff and can be much harder to get the agency to focus on the less exciting admin experience. But if you can do that it’s going to help sell your skill in a way to help them sell your skills.

      1. Me!*

        These are good wordings, thanks. I’ve tried glossing over it and still had no luck, but maybe I need to polish the answers a little more.

        (I could also just be dead honest like, “Because the super cool stuff pays nothing!” No not really, hahahaha.)

    4. Me!*

      Thanks for your answers, folks. I wouldn’t get hung up on the staffing agency detail; it’s happening with regular employers too, which is why I thought my framing might be off.

      I generally avoid staffing agencies. I had a good experience with Express years ago; I worked for them steadily off and on for a year before I graduated college, but I think that was a one-off. I went back to them after OldExjob laid us off and it was completely different.

    5. RagingADHD*

      “While I’ve been looking for a permanent position, I’ve also been doing some freelancing and creative work to make ends meet. Those are great experiences, but I’d rather be in a more settled situation.”

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, I think the vaguer you can be about this the better. If it is something you talk about a lot, a lot of people are going to assume you want to do that and not work.