I have to take screenshot of everything I do at work, getting an award I don’t qualify for, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I have to take screenshots of everything I do at work

I recently started a position at an awesome local nonprofit. My position is through a national service organization so I am accountable to my boss at the nonprofit, but also limited by the policies and expectations of the service organization. (The service organization manages 30 members at 14 sites. I directly report to my supervisor at my site.)

During my orientation, I found out I am expected to provide screenshots of EVERY task I do throughout the day while working from home. Every day I will be expected to send an email to my boss at the nonprofit in the morning outlining my plans for the day, and another email in the evening detailing what I completed (okay, a bit much but no biggie). But I then have to take screenshots of these emails to upload to a shared folder for the service organization. I also have to take screenshots of any email I send (yes, EVERY email), before and after screenshots of any virtual meetings I have, documents I’ve worked on, etc. All of these screenshots are required to have a date and time showing, and also must be uploaded to the shared folder. They told us they expect documentation proving we’ve done every task we’ve worked on throughout the day. They claim that they need this documentation to prove that we are actually “serving” if they were to be audited.

I am ridiculously frustrated as this “documentation” is taking up up to an hour of my day that I could instead be serving my community. It also gives me concerns about confidentiality as I work with extremely sensitive information. I can’t imagine meeting with a community partner and saying “hold that thought, I need to get a screenshot real quick.” The kicker is that my boss also finds these measures extremely over the top, but I’m not sure if it’s something I can fight because the service organization has control over both of us as it funds my position.

Whoa, that’s really over-the-top. It’s ridiculous on a number of fronts, particularly efficiency/productivity and confidentiality, as well as being incompetent management. Why on earth wouldn’t the service organization just trust the nonprofit they’ve placed you with to report whether you’re working on their standards or not (something that would be in the nonprofit’s interests to share)? Their claim that they need constant screenshots in case they’re audited is absurd; that’s not how audits work.

It’s also surprising that the org you’re placed with is accepting these policies. How clearly have you spelled out for your boss what the service org is asking you to do? If you haven’t been really explicit about exactly what they’re requiring of you, do. If you already have, it’s worth sitting down with her and saying, “I’m finding I need to spend a huge amount of time on all these screenshots and I’m concerned about how it’s going to come across during meetings with community partners if I’m constantly pausing to screenshot things! Do you think there’s any room for you to push back with (service org)? You have more standing to do it than I do, and I think they might loosen this requirement if they hear from you that it’s impeding the work.”

2. Can I accept an award I don’t qualify for?

I have an ethical dilemma. I graduated from college three years ago as a non-traditional student. I’m almost 40, but I look about 15 years younger. I work for one of the larger firms in my industry. The senior leaders at my company know me, and I’m fortunate to have mentors and sponsors who are pushing me to succeed.

My issue is this: I recently received notice that I’ve been named as one of about 50 “Young Professionals to Watch” for a national industry publication. I have no idea who nominated me. I’m not only humbled but I’m terrified as well. In the email, they state the maximum age of the young professional award is 35. Should I lie and give the age people presume I am or tell the truth and be removed from the publication? A close friend believes I deserve to be recognized in the industry for my work.

This isn’t about whether or not you deserve to be recognized for your work; it’s about whether you should knowingly accept an award you don’t qualify for. The answer to that is: definitely not. It’s unethical, and it could cause problems for you down the road if it comes out (and it easily could come out).

And if “should I lie and give the age people presume I am?” means that you’d need to provide some biographical details that include your age, it would be even worse. It’s one thing to let them give you the award because they made a wrong assumption (still not good), but flagrantly lying in order to get it could seriously torpedo your career in the future if it comes out.

Write back to the organizers and say you’re grateful for the recognition but you don’t meet their age cut-off so can’t accept. (And who knows, maybe it’ll make them realize that what they really want to do is honor people who are new to the field, rather than basing it on age.)

3. Recruiter suggested candidate cheat during training

My husband has been out of work for eight months. A couple of weeks ago, he was contacted by a recruiter from our state department of health, which legit has been trying to get contact tracers for COVID on board. The process was quick: my husband talked to him a few times, and an online interview with managers for the program, did an online training (unpaid), sent in all the applicable paperwork, and has been hired to start in a couple of weeks with equipment provided. This was a fast two-day process.

Our daughter has moved home due to *waves hands* and has a good part-time job — she is not desperate. The recruiter asked my husband if he knew any other potential workers, and my husband mentioned our daughter, who would absolutely quit her part-time job for the money this offers. Daughter was unable to do the six hours of online training by the deadline (she had to go to work). She politely explained this to the recruiter on the phone and said she would bow out of this opportunity. The recruiter asked, “How much can you get done?” Her reply was, “About an hour. Can you extend the deadline?” The answer was no, and then the recruiter said, “Well, maybe your dad could do it?” Our daughter said no and ended the call. This obviously got us thinking about about his ethics and whether they extend to the health department. My husband, whose experience is in corporate customer service, believes the problem is only on the recruiter’s end.

This same recruiter has pressured him for names of friends who could use similar work, which he gave (with permission). Today he contacted my husband saying 25 people had dropped out of the training program and did he know anyone? Husband replied that he had given him names and he should check back in with them.

Is this a giant red flag about the whole thing? Or a recruiter problem? I think that after he starts working he should tell the hiring managers (who seem quite standard) about this. What do you think?

It’s a huge red flag about the recruiter but probably not about the employer, who almost certainly doesn’t want to hire people who had someone else do their online training for them! The most likely scenario is that the recruiter is unethical and trying to ram candidates through because that’s how he gets paid, and that the employer wouldn’t be happy if they knew what he was doing.

It’s up to your husband whether he wants to tip them off, but I would. He could frame it as, “This seemed off to me and I thought I should pass it along to you.”

By the way, that training time probably needs to be paid.

4. Telling employees to stop taking guidance from coworkers with bad advice

There are a couple employees in my organization who tend to give bad advice, and do so authoritatively. Because they sound sure, people think they know what they’re talking about and that they’re a good source for information/answers, but they’re not. They’re also affable and approachable, which draws the newer employees to them. How can I warn my employees (especially the newbies) not to listen to them? I don’t want to talk smack about people, but the same bad apples keep causing my employees to make preventable mistakes.

One framing: “Cecil wants to be helpful but doesn’t have all the context we do on why we do things a certain way, so please do not consult him for guidance. If he offers advice, please check with me first before implementing it because it’s caused problems in the past.” You could also broaden this from just Cecil to “other people outside our team.”

5. Addressing job duties in a cover letter

I’m reading over some of your suggestions on writing cover letters and hoping you can help me out when it comes to demonstrating experience with job duties for the desired job in a cover letter. I was told after graduate school that I should take two to three duties/tasks from the job description and demonstrate how I’ve used my skill set to complete similar tasks and duties in the past. It’s a way of showcasing examples of applied experiences, but does it cross the line of summarizing a resume?

For example: “In my experience as a (previous role), I was responsible for (insert task). I hope to utilize my skill set when (job description line) as a (desired role).” Something like that. Thoughts?

Yeah, that’s basically just summarizing your resume. They already have your resume; there’s no point in repeating content from it. If you’re able to provide context about how those experiences and skills would translate to the new role — context that wouldn’t be readily apparent from just your resume — then sure, that can be helpful. But otherwise you’re just repeating what your resume already says, which squanders the whole opportunity your cover letter provides to add something new beyond your resume, like the examples here, here, or here.

{ 292 comments… read them below }

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It could be affected by the act that the employer is governmental, and also by state/jurisdiction.

  1. Walter Peck*

    #1: I’m an auditor and those procedures are absolutely bonkerball bananapants. If they wanted proof of services provide there are a thousand other ways to verify this.

      1. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

        “Our sample testing has indicated the entity’s control environment to be bonkerball bananapants. Risk mitigation strategies should be implemented as soon as possible.”

        1. Quill*

          “The Screenshot Tracking Utility for Proof In Documentation, henceforth known as STUPID protocol, is particularly ornerous and consumes 10 to 15% of any given employee’s work day…”

          1. retrowaveRecluse*

            This is the comment that made me pick a name and say something here for the first time ever. Bonkerball bananapants was a close second – photo finish, truly.

    1. MassMatt*

      Screenshots of emails—with dates and times—was the nuttiest part of that Snickers bar. All the info they want about the email is… in the email!

      This is crazy, it seems as though someone who has no clue set up these “requirements” and it’s really shocking that no one in the organization said anything to stop it beforehand. Leadership o& this nonprofit is out of touch and Paranoid.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Exactly. Also bonkers because the date and time
        of the screenshot can be edited (if they’re just going by file name) whereas the timestamp in the screenshot…can’t. At least not easily.

      2. RecentAAMfan*

        Haha I didn’t even realize that! Of course the emails wouldn’t need to be screenshotted. Duh. But in fairness I’ve only just started my coffee…

      3. SharonC*

        I thought the weirdest was before and after screenshots of meetings. Like even if the meetings are virtual through Zoom or whatever, what exactly would be on a “Before” screenshot and how would it be different from the “after” screenshot?

        Bonkers Bananapants indeed!

        1. Web Crawler*

          I’m gonna guess that one has to do with the timestamp in the screenshot. Still bonkers bananapants, but at least the madness is consistent?

        2. NGL*

          Only thing I can think of is start and end time? You log in and screenshot at 9:59, then again at 10:32 when the meeting ends as “proof” that it happened.

        3. Glitsy Gus*

          Yeah, this one was weird to me. Well, all of it is weird, but this one especially. I mean, with Zoom or Teams or anything, you have a digital record that the meeting happened, you can even record it if you really want to. You have automatically generated documentation now with things being remote which gives more information than live meetings in the office.

          If this really is for “auditing purposes” what are they going to do when you are back to live meetings int he office? Force everyone to take a group selfie at the top and bottom of the hour?

      4. LifeBeforeCorona*

        They put the micro in micromanagement. Next: make a paper copy of the screenshot, scan it, email it and the put the paper through the shredder with before and after shots of the shredder.

      5. Little Bobby Tables*

        And how would they have proof you took the screenshots? They should require you to take a screenshot of taking the screenshot. And to prove that you took that screenshot….

    2. Important Moi*

      This is what happens when management is not technically savvy. There are assignments which highlight that shortcoming. This is one of them.

      1. MassMatt*

        It reminds me of the “Dilbert” cartoon where the pointy haired boss asks him to print out a hard copy of the internet.

        1. Wintermute*

          my favorite, working in IT, is when he asks if they have any eunuch admins, and when informed Dilbert already knowns Unix, tells him to tell the company nurse “nevermind”.

          But this is right up there!

    3. Smithy*

      As a nonprofit person, I’d bet that this was done based on either donor demands they felt they could not push back on. Or more likely, an overly paranoid interpretation of donor contract demands.

      A lot of nonprofit contract interpretation comes from having less power and taking the most nervous reading. And if the donor is the US Government, I could easily see how that nervousness could end up there.

      1. OP*

        OP here. I was wondering this as well – the funding does come from the US government so that’s why I’ve been nervous to push back. I feel like they haven’t given my coworkers and I a honest reason for needing/wanting this documentation (it’s pretty clear it’s unnecessary for an audit, which was the reason given) so it’s hard to gauge how much room for push back we really have. (Although I’m definitely going to try because it’s impacting the quality of work myself and my coworkers are doing).

        1. Msms*

          OP if you are AmeriCorps there is a legit need for heavy documentation, but not quite this bad. I saw one site lose 12 members because their documentation was poor and it looked like they were doing normal job duties, which wasn’t allowed.

          Your actual site can do the pushing back for you if you present it in a memo documenting how long it’s taking you and that it’s interfering with your work. (Especially the emails, which is crazy.) Sites have more pull, as they can not host in following years and without sites the program loses money.

          1. Observer*

            Not jus t”not this bad”, but not this type.

            Beleive me, I’ve seen some pretty insane documentation and approval processes, as probably anyone who has dealt with a wide variety of funding sources has. But this is another whole league. Because not only is it nuts, it won’t even work. There are so many problems with this that if I were writing an intelligent version of the PHB, I might have him do something like this.

        2. RemoteToOffice*

          Hi OP, I don’t know which national service funding stream you might fall under, but I manage four different federal national service programs and that is absolutely not a requirement of the grant/funding stream itself.

          It might be a misunderstanding of the nonprofit you’re serving at. The nonprofit you’re at might also be a “host site”, which means they applied through another organization, and not directly to the national service funder. Either way, each “level” (host site, direct federal grantee, the national service program itself) is supposed to have a point of contact. If it is a misunderstanding of the federal funding stream, it would be a benefit to other volunteers and the nonprofit itself to know the undue time and energy spent. That level of micromanaging takes away from your true role: serving the community by performing your volunteer activities. Is there a respectful way you can share your concerns with the point of contact? Especially if your supervisor also thinks the requirements are an undue burden that takes your volunteer time away from impacting the community; can you partner with them to find the point of contact at the sponsoring organization/the federal funder?

          Screenshotting every email!! That is …. definitely not what the national service programs I work with would want their volunteers doing.

          1. OP*

            You are correct – I work for a host site. I do also want to clarify that we are only required to do this when “teleserving,” (which is what the majority of my work is bc COVID) so I was wondering if you’re aware of anything that might require this level of documentation specifically when working from home? It seems ridiculously over the top to me but I want to make sure I understand as much as possible prior to reaching out to the program coordinators and asking my direct supervisor to get involved.

            1. Ashley*

              Have you met other volunteers in your program that work at different host sites? Or is there a community board where you might be able to reach out to others in the program about how their sites are managing the requirements? Depending on how your placement worked and whether you had a positive placement experience or someone in your organization that setup the program had a good relationship with someone running the program, an informal phone call to a friendly/helpful person might help in getting the ball rolling in gauging if this is a one off or really what is needed because the person who wrote the rules doesn’t trust WFH.

            2. RemoteToOffice*

              I know that for the federal level, we don’t require that. However, there might be additional requirements placed on your host site for the sponsoring organizations’ needs. Oftentimes, there is a community funding match needed (not all programs require it), so it might be a different funder’s requirement that your host site is meeting. It still seems to be quite a time investment, which once again, the time needed to perform this is taking away from the time you could be serving.

              Your best bet is to follow the chain of command; if I got a volunteer calling me with your concern my first question would be if you’d addressed this with your supervisor, and what the host site and sponsoring organization have communicated to the volunteers. If I get a host site supervisor who called me, I’d ask them what the Project Director (the individual from the sponsoring organization who is named on the grant itself) had communicated to them – at every point, we check with the levels of support available to the volunteers. This is so all levels are aware of requirements and the ‘why’ behind asks/requirements. Then we’d have a conversation with everyone to figure out how to meet requirements of the grants, and if there is some sort of mutual agreement everyone can arrive at (like not screenshotting every. single. email.; maybe a daily email that summarizes duties achieved?).

              If you have a Volunteer Activity Description (VAD) that one national service program uses, you can use that when you discuss with your supervisor/higher ups that these activities are in danger of not being completed, and perhaps a meeting to discuss which duties should be prioritized in light of the time needed to be constantly screenshotting your emails.

            3. Threeve*

              When I was in AmeriCorps, my chain of command outside my job site went:
              ME and 12 or so other people at various job sites > a “team manager,” who was a 2nd year AmeriCorps member > an actual government employee.

              That “team manager” was nice, but didn’t actually have any more professional experience than I did, and tended to give us incorrect instructions when they misinterpreted the rule book or their own boss.

            4. Janey-Jane*

              My suspicion is it’s neither the host site, nor the National Corp. My guess is the the Program Coordinator is the loose canon here, overly worried on the documentation/funding front. I would reach out to your program coordinator (and their supervisor, since often that’s another Americorps person), and have your supervisor do the same. That is bananas.

            5. Observer*

              Nope. Yes, there are some pretty stupid wfh “documentation” policies out there. But this is another level.

              In my experience, the Feds often have really onerous requirements but at least they all THEORETICALLY provide some level of documentation and / or audit trail. This really doesn’t. Not even theoretically.

              The fact that they claim that this is what they need for an audit tells me that something is very off here.

            6. Maxie*

              Americorps developed very specific protocols for teleervice during COVID-19. This is not one of them. It sounds like your host site has no experience in Americorps and came up with this crazy stuff. If you go into MyAmericorps, there will be a phone number for a help desk that you can call. There also aee state commissions but many have transitioned into regional commissions. You can also find a phone number for yours and talk to the person. Whoever has the Americorps contract is seriously out of line and totally misinterpreted the reporting. All you need to do is fill out your Americorps time sheet.

          2. Former AmeriCorps Director*

            I’m also wondering if it’s at the state level. When I managed an AmeriCorps Program, the state agency that our funds ran through had stricter rules and reporting policies than the federal requirements that we had to follow through. Additionally, the organization that’s running the program may have gotten in trouble for lack of documentation in an audit, and is overzealous in response. Not that screenshots are the right answer, but fear of losing funding and criminal charges (which our state agency LOVED to bring up) could inspire overdocumentation.

            1. AmeriCorps Site Supervisor*

              This. What my State and National AmeriCorps member was having to document was coming from the program director, but the director was receiving pressure from the agency.

        3. Narise*

          Have you inquired what happens if the screen shots are lost due to computer issues or not legible? I have taken screen shots before and sent them through email only to find they were not clear enough to read. What happens then? Screen shots are a huge waste of time and I would be looking for a way out if this was a requirement. Push on your boss to get this rescinded.

      2. Observer*

        Not donor demands, in my experience. But on a response to donor demands that neither understands what donors want, nor how the technology actually works.

    4. snowglobe*

      Not only are there other ways to verify that services were provided, this process is also completely ineffective in preventing someone from doing what they shouldn’t. If someone is actually, for instance, embezzling thousands of dollars, they would simply not take screen shots of those activities. No auditor suggested this.

    5. MN Auditor*

      Ditto. I spend about 30% of my time doing Non-profit audits, including Single Audits, and I can corroborate that these requirements are bonkerball bananapants.

      The audit report gives REASONABLE assurance, not absolute assurance. I will also tell you auditors are just as concerned about performing an efficient audit as they are an effective audit. There are a million other, more efficient ways, to support what you’re working on, which sounds like a compliance audit thing, as the financial auditor really won’t care.

      There is no way this makes any kind of sense other than management making it up and blaming the auditor. This actually feels like the professional version of farting and blaming the dog.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I hadn’t even thought of the efficiency angle – screenshots are the worst option if you ever do need to trace back through to find something. How on earth would you search them? OCR a bunch of jpegs?

        1. Autumnheart*

          You’d have to depend on a naming convention. guacb-email-1030-200908.jpg, guacb-meet-1425-200915.jpg

          That still would be an enormous number of files if *everyone* has to upload these things all the time. Images can be big files too.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Blech. I’m married to a lawyer who does a lot of doc review – often thousands of emails and documents and whatnot – and search parameters and filters are a huge part of it, from what I’ve heard her talk about. Who would be able to actually do anything with hundreds of screenshots? That would take a totally insane amount of staff time!

      2. Observer*

        They are probably claiming program audit. But the program auditors won’t care either.

        They may ask for copies of emails and then follow up with people on the email. Maybe copies of reports, or meeting minutes etc.

    6. NinaBee*

      How much server space are these screenshots using too! Why don’t they just archive emails like normal people?

      1. BadWolf*

        I was thinking the same. Multiple full screen screenshots from a multiple people? Cue the next request that people need to “clean up the server.”

      2. Autumnheart*

        And a workflow program? We have one that tracks all our projects, the times people spent, notes, attachments, and so on. This company needs to enter the 21st century and get a project management tool.

        1. Observer*

          That’s an expense that a lot of organizations can’t / won’t make. But there are so many other ways to track stuff that this is just nuts. I would say silly, but it’s too problematic for that.

    7. LQ*

      I feel like someone had a lot of audit findings and said with extreme sarcasm, “What do I have to take a screenshot of everything I do to prove it to you people!” And it blew up into this. Now people say that to pass an audit you have to take screen shots of everything.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      I mean, we have to keep track of user stats (academic library) but it’s like:

      Email from Professor Thatguy: Whatsitsname University: Inquired about the Susie and Samuel Creamcheese Collection. We might have to note how much time we spent on it if it turned into an actual research project for us.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Also an auditor, and agreed 1000%. In fact, if I came across this situation I’d have a serious problem with it BECAUSE of the risks of exposing confidential or sensitive information.

    10. Sarah*

      #1: I believe I work at the national service organization that this individual is writing about. We do, in fact, have incredibly stringent timekeeping processes due to federal regulations. HOWEVER, the process the OP describes actually puts the organization at more of an audit risk because we typically do NOT want all of those details (more detail raises more questions).

      My read is that the organization has a misconception about how they are supposed to be documenting service time and that the individual should either 1) get clarification from the organization; or 2) press the organization to seek clarification from their national service commission. It’s a tough spot to be in as an individual service member trying to follow the rules, but I think the organization has a misunderstanding about what’s required.

  2. Heidi*

    Why does LW1 need to screenshot the email instead of…saving the email? Is everyone employee doing this? Is someone actually tracking all these screenshots? Do the bosses think that every company does this? I have so many questions!

      1. PollyQ*

        I’m sure that’s what the organization thinks is the concern, or perhaps they don’t trust digital storage, but it’s entirely standard for company emails stored on a server to be uneditable.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Right? I have PS Elements and I, okay, I probably can’t create a convincing image of Abraham Lincoln shaking hands with Godzilla, but I could tweak an email screenshot pretty well.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I would hope the CIA would have better protocols around screenshotting and uploading potentially confidential information!

          My bet is that the person who designed this disaster is really, really, ignorant about how computers, networks and email work, *and* didn’t talk to anyone with IT expertise, *and* thinks their employees are going to slack off unless carefully and obviously watched, *and* is ignorant about how audits work. Because that’s the only way I can think of that you could end up with a system so time consuming and so useless.

        2. hbc*

          I worked at the CIA. Heck, I worked at the credit union for the CIA, so banking rules plus lists of spies. Nothing close to this level of paranoia.

      2. OP*

        I’m the OP – it is my understanding that myself and my coworkers within the service organization are the only ones expected to do this (there are other employees at the non-profit that are not with the service organization). We think they’re requiring the screenshots because it is more convenient for them to have access to what we’ve “done” at a moments notice, rather than having their own inboxes be filled with emails forwarded by 30 employees. After I emailed Alison we did push to just take screenshots of our outboxes at the end of each day, and they agreed, but their requirements still have us taking 15-20 screenshots a day, including during meetings. I’m thinking that because most of us are recent grads/young adults they are assuming we will take advantage of the telecommuting system.

        1. GalFriday*

          I work at a non-profit and we keep time sheets of 15-minute increments during a full work week a few times a year. These categorize our time in a number of ways that can be analyzed. That and our auditor pulls actual financial and service program files for spot checks. This has worked well for more than 20 years and we are a top rated charity by all external standards. I’m sorry you have to deal with that screen shot idiocy. Who is going to have time to look at all of that?

        2. Former AmeriCorps Director*

          AmeriCorps used to not allow Members working remotely at all. They’ve obviously had to change that with COVID, but I’m guessing they haven’t yet come up with a reasonable system for tracking this. If federal AmeriCorps hasn’t come up with a program or service designed to track serving from home, host sites and organizations that are running the AmeriCorps programs most likely don’t have the funding or capacity to implement better systems. Is screenshotting everything a great solution? No, but it’s probably the best the program was able to come up with for free. If there are reasonable things you can push back on, go for it, but understand that your host site is taking direction from a larger program who might have implemented the screenshots as a jury rigged solution with the limited resources they have.

          1. Observer*

            No, but it’s probably the best the program was able to come up with for free.

            Absolutely not. At best, this is useless and time wasting. And it’s REALLY easy to use the existing structures in a way that is both MUCH easier on the volunteers AND more useful to the overseeing organization.

            Off the top of my head – and this is based on just responding to some of the comments – Set up a group email box that all of the relevant management people have access to. Require your volunteers to CC that email on every email that goes out. Also, CC every meeting invite the get, or to send a copy of it to that email box. At the end of each day send a copy of all documents created to that email box. Or have them upload all those documents to the drive that they are now using for the useless screen shots. Require that volunteers get copies of the meeting minutes when they are done, and email / upload that as well.

            This is MUCH less work, and provides actual possibly usable information for a program auditor.

            1. Former AmeriCorps Director*

              I don’t think it’s a good system.

              If LW1/their Site Supervisor has a better idea, they could push back. However, at the program I ran, we had to submit how members were going to track all their work as part of our funding application package well in advance of the program year starting. If the work from home tracking system this program came up with (likely on the fly while dealing with a ton of other things) sucks, they might not be able to change it this year, because the system was approved by the funder. This is rigid and doesn’t allow for innovation and means that inefficient and outdated systems keep getting used over and over, but it’s often a reality of the strings attached to this kind of funding.

              There’s a reason I’m Former AmeriCorps Director!

          2. Starbuck*

            I currently supervise AmeriCorps members; it probably varies by each of the different state service orgs but mine did not require this. We had to go into detail by writing work plans and describe the work products that would be produced and estimate the time involved… but they were nowhere near this strict.

            If this is something that one program manager came up with, maybe it can be changed. But if it’s actually from the AmeriCorps organization? Haha, good luck, but it’s not gonna be flexible. I thought Allison’s quote of “why doesn’t the service org just trust the nonprofit” to be pretty funny and indicative that she probably doesn’t have much direct experience working with these kinds of service orgs.

        3. Observer*

          So they can’t set up some rule on their inboxes that says “all emails from OP that I am cc’d on go to Folder X”?

          That gives them what they need on a moment’s notice, and it stays outside of the inboxes. And it’s searchable in a way that screen shots are NOT. Better yet, have all of this go to a shared mailbos. If these people actually cared about managing and had any understand of how any of this works they would not be pushing for screen shots.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Maybe they aren’t actually entitled to the contents of the email? I don’t understand the funding/ control structure that appears to be in operation here but as presented I’m pretty sure the whole screenshot palaver would be illegal in Europe for GDPR reasons.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes. IP does your supervisor at the nonprofit you’ve been placed at know you’re doing all this and probably violating a few of its own policies? Frankly, I’d have you removed and would terminate any arrangement with the service .org. I’d also be complaining loudly and looking to file formal complaints etc, anywhere appropriate

        1. WellRed*

          Just reread. Is the nonprofit in on this too? I’m confused, but if it is, well, Alison’s advice is fine but I’d get out as quickly as possible.

          1. OP*

            OP here. Basically I work directly with non-profit A, but the funding for my position comes from a national service organization (federal money) that is overseen by non-profit B. Organizations in my community have to work with non-profit B in order to have employees from the service organization. Terminating any arrangement between them would mean that non-profit A would lose 4 of their workers (myself included) that they definitely wouldn’t have the funding to retain in any other way. I am convinced that no one will actually be reviewing these screenshots to the degree they are claiming so I have begun to black out most of the content of my screenshots (with the exception of subject lines, titles, etc. and the time and date) in hopes of reducing confidentiality concerns.

            1. Marthooh*

              So, to comply with funding rules, you have to take screenshots of all your work to upload to a file nobody’s probably going to look at; and to comply with confidentiality rules, you have to black out most of the information on the screenshots you took because after all, it’s just barely possible somebody might look at them someday. And all this work is to intended to ensure you’re actually doing the work you were hired to do.

              Aiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeaaaaaarrrghhhhhhhhh!

            2. WellRed*

              thank you for explaining this arrangement. You can tell I don’t work in that world. I like your stopgap solution.

            3. IsItOverYet?*

              You should take pictures of you taking screen shots to ensure that YOU actually took the screen shot. (Don’t recommend this of course, because they may take you up on in). I’ve been in Americorps and worked with people at other volunteer programs (Jesuit corp, Francis corp) and this was NEVER a thing. Report writing yes, screen shots no. Good luck to you!

            4. Former prof*

              Yeah. Nonprofit B undoubtedly had a bad audit and has now gone completely overboard, vastly exceeding the federal regulations. I’ve seen that happen with federal pass-through money before.

              I think you are wise to redact. Nonprofit B is setting themselves up for another nasty audit by asking for images of emails with sensitive information. Better that your hands are clean.

            5. Starbuck*

              Aha, so this is something non-profit B came up with? That would make a lot more sense, since they’re probably just over zealously trying to cover their butts in being accountable to the national org, and likely aren’t going to be bothered if that’s a bit inconvenient for you. Seems like you’d need your supervisor or whoever manages that grant to take it up with non-profit B, and that might be too much capital to expend. Good luck.

    1. Pennyworth*

      If I had to prepare a daily work plan and had to screenshot all my work, the first item on my ‘to do’ list would be ‘allow time to screenshot all work during the day’ and the last item would be ‘submit screenshots of days work’. I once had to submit daily and weekly work schedules with status reports on each item. A burnt-out colleague included an item ‘Attempted escape – current status – unsuccessful’. None of the managers noticed, because the reports were never read, but we enjoyed it at the coalface.

      1. Sales Geek*

        One of the management teams in my sales career decided that recording each day’s goals and accomplishments would improve productivity. We had to outline each day in fifteen minute increments. This devolved to the point where that’s exactly what we did…the first fifteen minutes of each day was dedicated to formulating and recording our goals. The last fifteen minutes of each day was dedicated to summarizing what we did (in 15 minute increments!). Of course we 1) always took a full hour for lunch and 2) rarely worked longer than our suggested nine to five.

        In an office of sixty-some people this was a *lot* of paperwork. I can’t imagine anyone ever read much of these daily reports. And it spawned more creative writing than actual work.

        This lasted less than six months. Each year our company conducted an employee satisfaction survey and if management was rated low by the rank and file they’d be held accountable for it (up to and including an action plan to improve!). Management quickly figured out the looming impact of this pointless activity on the annual survey. We we moved to a weekly — and eventually monthly — summary (less than one page) which was the first thing to go after that year’s annual employee satisfaction survey…:-)

        1. KateM*

          I hate paperwork with a passion, so I’m wondering how many of those 15-minute increments would I spend “trying to come up with 0utlines/summaries for my 15-minute increments”.

          1. Quill*

            I’d have about four every day based on “still looking for the Llama protocol documents” and “Coming up with new ways to store the Llama protocol documents” “Wondering why nobody ever names the llama protocol documents anything that I can search for in the shared drive” and “finding the llama protocol documents.”

        2. Mannheim Steamroller*

          I’m surprised that your management team didn’t try to fire the dissatisfied employees.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            You can’t just fire everyone, especially when management doesn’t know how to do the ground-level work.

      1. ALM2019*

        +1 I’m always a little disappointed when a lot of the advice on here is find a new job or quit. It’s not a viable financial option for most people.

        1. JessB*

          I do think it’s helpful sometimes to realise that it’s not a situation that can be salvaged, and that other impartial observers think so.

          1. Jennifer*

            It may not be salvageable, but clearly if they could quit they would have already. Sometimes people need advice on how they can navigate a less than ideal situation at work until they are able to move on and “just quit” isn’t very helpful or realistic.

            1. MassMatt*

              That’s often not true. Many times the LW is either directly asking if a work situation is as terrible as they think. Other times they are either inexperienced or have internalized the dysfunction to the degree that they don’t seem to realize they are a frog in a boiling pot of water.

              Changing a really terrible workplace or boss is extremely difficult if not impossible as a typical employee. Sometimes there are coping strategies that can help deal with smaller less systemic issues but often solving the problem is unlikely if not impossible. In which case suggesting they move on is the natural advice.

              1. Jennifer*

                I definitely agree that changing a terrible workplace is usually impossible and would never suggest someone try to do that.

                I still think telling someone to “just quit” is especially tone deaf considering the times we are living in now. I would never tell someone to quit unless I knew they were in danger or I knew their financial situation. But that’s just me.

            2. Observer*

              but clearly if they could quit they would have already.

              That’s actually to true. In many cases, people don’t realize how toxic their environment is (look at a lot of the followup letters to see some good example of this). And often even when they do realize that it’s bad, they don’t realize that it is NOT normal and that there actually are places that don’t do that.

              That’s not to say that “just quit” is necessarily practical advice. But “Know that this place is banans and is a place you should try to get out of. Start planning how to do that” is more often than not acitonable and useful.

              1. Evan Þ.*

                This. I was in that boat myself a year and a half ago. Even before I actually did anything else, it really helped my mental health to realize that this was bananas and I could split.

            3. Observer*

              By the way, if you look at the bottom of the rest of today’s posts, and look at the links, you’ll see a few examples of the craziness people don’t think to leave over.

              “my boss tapes people’s mouths shut during meetings” -and according to that OP, the boss is “mostly great”.

              “I provide my company’s daily cash out of my personal funds”

              These are just the two most egregious ones.

      2. EchoGirl*

        There’s another layer too — a lot of people are guessing that the service organization is Americorps or one of its branches. If that’s the case, you get certain benefits for completing the program term that you don’t get at all if you quit prior to the end of term, so that’s an added complication.

    2. Msms*

      I have a feeling the OP is in AmeriCorps, because I served and the documentation was heavy. We were always under threat of being cut and had to produce lots of proof of actually helping people. My monthly reports would have like 15 pages of documentation attached.

      What they’re asking is over the top, though. Logging activity and doing weekly reports should be enough. And emails don’t need screen shots – maybe the admin was like mine and older and not so tech-savvy?

      1. WellRed*

        For what. AmeriCorps provides in the way of a stipend, they outta be ashamed of wasting their underpaid volunteers’ time this way.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, I have been an AC member and supervised AC members and this is not how it works at all! That said, many organizations that rely on Americorps are TERRIFIED of messing up and losing their funding and go waaay out of their way to make sure that can’t possibly happen. I have definitely seen several cases of “well just to be safe” stuff snowballing into totally ridiculous rules being presented as requirements but actually are not.

        OP, I would bring this to your manager, who can hopefully track down the source of this rule and clarify whether it is truly mandatory. The thing is, as an AC member, you have some leverage in that if you quit, it’s hard to replace you, so you and your manager together have some standing to inquire into this. Because I’m guessing you would have thought twice about taking this job if you’d been aware that you’d be spending so much time logging screenshots!

        1. TreenaKravm*

          This! It’s definitely overkill because funding can get yanked so easily and everyone’s desperate to keep their programs going!

      3. Former AmeriCorps Director*

        I’m guessing it has a lot to do with being allowed to work from home. When I managed an AmeriCorps program, serving from home was a hard no, which came down from the federal level. With COVID, members have to be able to work remotely, so the extra documentation probably relates to that. There are better ways to track, for sure, but screenshots only cost time, not money for fancy software.

      4. AmeriCorps Site Supervisor*

        It’s definitely AmeriCorps. This documentation is being required for telework for AmeriCorps members (both before COVID and now with people teleworking full-time). I supervised an AmeriCorps member who had to deal with the documentation outlined here. I thought it was over the top, but it’s mandated by the director of the program the AmeriCorps member is in- not by the site supervisor.

        1. OP #1*

          My site coordinator is amazing – it’s the program director and coordinator who have asked us for this documentation. I don’t want to vilify anyone – I’m just wondering exactly how high up this goes, as we are one program of 30 members within the larger State/National program. If it’s just the program director & coordinator mandating this I feel it will be easier to address than if they’re being asked for this documentation at the state level or higher. (It sounds like it is not required at a national level, from what other commenters have said). Or, if perhaps the coordinator and director are misinterpreting what the expectations from their higher-ups are.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            Can your boss at the organization push back on the confidentiality angle? I’ve worked in non-profits and I can’t imagine a scenario where a funder would be permitted to access confidential client information for reporting purposes. That actually seems like a huge risk to the organization’s funding, because it can easily violate professional rules. You may be required to report your work to the funding program, but *client information* belongs to the organization, and they have standing (and potentially a legal/ethical obligation) to limit what you share with a funder.

            1. AmeriCorps Site Supervisor*

              I think that’s a potential angle that could work. I would recommend for your site supervisor to look at their host site agreement with your program, and see if it has any language around data/information sharing. If it’s not addressed there, they would probably have more leeway to push back with the director.

              If it’s a directive from the state level, the program director could try to use your site supervisor’s concerns to push for the state to make changes. If it isn’t the director’s call and they are stuck dealing with all the extra paperwork the documentation requires, they may welcome a way to push back against the system.

          2. Liz*

            OP #1 – I did AmeriCorps for two years and it was an amazing experience, on top of paying for my grad school later on. My service times were pre COVID so I did not have this kind of excitement. From reading the other comments, it looks like this is coming from the federal level, and your sites are stuck with it (which blows, but I’d believe it from the federal level of AmeriCorps). If you’re stuck with it, it may be worth your time to figure out how to streamline this documentation. Why take screen shots of emails when you can just save your sent emails as files and batch upload them at the end of the day? Things like that may wind up saving you a ton of time. Stick with it if you can though. AmeriCorps is totally worth it.

          3. AmeriCorps Alum and Program Coordinator*

            Hi OP,

            As someone who regularly has to interpret the AmeriCorps policies and supervise AmeriCorps audits, I know how frustrating this is for everyone. Nobody wants to verify your time this way and nobody really wants to waste your service year doing documentation.

            For reference, here’s the teleservice policy from AmeriCorps State & National: https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ASN%20006%20Teleservice%20Guidance.pdf

            I hope you’re able to suggest a more reasonable interpretation, but I also know that sometimes program directors don’t get to make these determinations. At one point, we had a state telling us to have staff cc’d on all member emails. Sometimes that’s just out of our control.

            Good luck!

    3. Former VISTA*

      In addition to what everyone else said, if OP is an AmeriCorps member (which it sounds like they may be), there may be finanial penalities to leaving service early.

  3. fhgwhgads*

    Something I also find puzzling about #3 is if the recruiter is still desperate for leads, why couldn’t the daughter just take the training later? Clearly any new applicants couldn’t possibly have done the training yet, so it must still be available in general. What’s the point of “you must have completed this six hour training with X days of applying” if they still don’t have enough applicants? Seems like a bassackwards process as well as an unethical recruiter.

    1. Dan*

      “Seems like a bassackwards process”

      That was my read. What caught my eye was 25 people dropping out of training. If that’s the case, then either the recruiting process is flawed or the training is screwed up. Combine that with the recruiter’s obvious desperation, and that adds up to a messed up process.

      1. MK*

        This recruiter seems to be trying to jam anyone he can into the process, so my guess would be that these people weren’t qualified in the first place.

        1. Dan*

          I don’t disagree. But from a process standpoint, if he’s got 25 dropouts and that’s unusually high, then a good process would flag that to *his* management, and there’d be a discussion about the recruiter’s practices. High levels of training dropouts are a drag on everybody involved, so it shouldn’t just be accepted as the cost of doing business.

          Good processes involved oversight, and based on what OP wrote, for the number of shenanigans this guy appears to be pulling, I’m super curious about what kind of oversight/monitoring he’s getting. If the answer’s minimal to none, the fault is less on him and more on the system that enables those bad practices.

      2. MassMatt*

        Either the recruiter is getting paid per person completing training or the job is a scam promising good pay to lure people into doing hours of “training”. Is the LW sure the employer is actually on the level?

        1. Dan*

          I think your last question is on point — the employment market being what it is right now, I would think that a legit recruiter that is recruiting for a legit opportunity wouldn’t have to hustle all that much. Minimum quals for a contact tracer can’t be that high, and training can’t be that hard. And with the number of people out of work, applications should be finding their way to the recruiter like flies to honey. (There’s been a few people on the hiring side writing to AAM that are drowning in applications… e.g., they’re getting hundreds of applications for an open position.)

          OP is describing something that smells much more like someone trying to fill a Vector knives mass sales recruitment event that is truly a numbers (and suckers) game than a recruiter recruiting for a legitimate public health role.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            In my state, they are only hiring contact tracers with a background/degree in healthcare, public health, or epidemiology. So they are mostly looking for furloughed and laid off nurses.

            Needless to say, my state has only hired about 10% of the number of contact tracers we are supposed to have according to the experts.

        2. OP#3*

          Hi, OP here! Yes, it is legit – my husband checked through the PA Board of Health. They are the ones trying to get contract tracers, and they are using recruiters. The recruiter pursued him because he has a lot of experience in end-user customer services, has worked from home for 15 years (we are in a rural part of PA so internet reliability can be an issue, but not for us), has done tech stuff for decades, etc. They are sending all equipment, etc., soon, so it’s not a scam where you have to use your own equipment, etc.

          Alison’s answer confirmed what we thought – this is how the guy gets paid, and my husband will let the actual managers (who he interviewed with, from the state) know when he begins next week.

      3. TX Lizard*

        I agree, but I also wonder if it has to do with the specific job. Many people I know who got laid off due to Covid applied for contact tracing jobs to fill the gap while they looked for new jobs in their field. I would imagine that contact tracing might have relatively high turnover right now due to people coming off furlough or finding new career jobs.

      4. Yorick*

        Maybe 25 people didn’t drop out, maybe the recruiter has a story to get people to give up more possible contacts.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I could be reading this completely wrongly, but I got the impression that candidates had to take the training before they were hired (which is insane). Regardless, I agree with you—the recruiter’s practices sound sus.

      1. kalli*

        That’s how I read it too, and I have come across situations where recruiters and job service agents will make candidates do training as a test, or put likely candidates through training to get a qualification in order to be recommended for a job. In neither case is the training for the actual job, or part of the job itself – in some cases the JSA gets paid per person completing the training, as well as per placement with the actual job. So ‘training in order to be considered for a job’ didn’t even look wrong to me.

    3. LCH*

      the training is probably messed up. a friend is working for the census and originally had x hours of training to complete within y days. after the initial orientation, they reduced the deadline to complete the training by A LOT. so she almost dropped out and lots of other people did drop out.

  4. Dan*

    #2

    Why are you “terrified”? This is a simple, “sorry I don’t qualify due to the age cutoff” as AAM indicates.

    I feel you to an extent, though, as I didn’t start my professional career until I was 29. That aside, 35 is on the high side for “early career/young professional”. In my field, 5 years or so is the cutoff. At my org, our technical staff is a mix of bachelors, masters, and PhDs, and consequently, all of our early career stuff is referenced by “years of employment” and not biological age.

      1. Dan*

        Which… is probably the case for the OP. In my field, the legitimate awards recognize something specific, such as “best paper” of some sort (best in track and best of conference are two common ones.) Accordingly, they also recognize a very limited number of individuals (e.g., a team for some big contribution.)

        If you’re getting recognized for no specific accomplishment, and you’re in a mix with 50 other people with whom you’ve had no prior interaction? Money grab.

      2. MassMatt*

        I was going to say this. That the award presenter didn’t know your age for an age-specific award and you have no idea how you got nominated seems to suggest a likely scam. Are you being asked to buy a book, or advertise in their website or newsletter, or pay some kind of application fees?

        Who has won this award previously? Are they highly regarded? Have you or anyone in your industry heard of it before? Hold on to your wallet!

        1. I'm LW#2*

          MassMatt: As I waited to find out if my post would get accepted by Alison i ended up finding out I was nominated by at least one person at my company. It is a national publication for my industry. They list the award winners online and in their magazine.

      3. Mystery Bookworm*

        That was my thought too.

        Whenever you’re nominated for an award and you don’t know who nominated you, you should be open to the possibility that it’s a scam.

    1. hbc*

      “35 under 35” is a pretty common set-up in legitimate publications. I know Popular Science does one, for example.

    2. I'm LW#2*

      Thanks Dan. And yes I was terrified at the idea of being exposed down the line in my career. Like let’s say an even bigger award was presented and a background was ran, I’d hate for my unethical behavior to be putin the spotlight.

      My industry is a pretty old so they are really working hard and investing alot to bring true young people into the industry. I did decline their offer but didn’t mention my age. I think I may call later to explain why after all.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        It seems like you “like” people thinking you’re a recently graduated traditional college student. Maybe not
        exactly “like” but you seem very reluctant to draw attention to your actual age and prefer that they think you’re younger because other than that I don’t see why you wouldn’t simply easily decline – “oh, I’m not under 35 so I’m not eligible.”

        Honestly is so clearly the best policy here especially something that could so easily catch you out. I’m glad you did it before getting Alison’s advice.

        1. Reba*

          I know that ageism is real, especially for women as we often become invisible with the advancing years.

          But OP, please don’t be ashamed of your age! Making it more mysterious is only going to make this more memorable, or lead people to other incorrect conclusions about you (OP doesn’t want attention or publicity). If you treat it as a breezy, normal thing to be 40+, people will take their cue from you.

          In any case, I hope that this nomination helps you to feel more secure about your job, accomplishments and career path, non-traditional and all!

          And, avoid taking advice from that friend.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Also:
            – Many people look young until their 40s, and then it’s all downhill. Don’t try to play it out. You might catch up to your age and then people will think you’re a rough looking 30 year old. (Ha!)
            – It’s often people in their 60s who say you look young.

            I’m not saying you don’t look universally young. You might! I’m 42, and people often are confused about me being my oldest son’s mom, or think I’m closer in age to my 34 y.o. sister. I’m very fit, have stayed out of the sun, and dress with zero sense of sophistication. A few colleagues that I’ve known my whole career say I look the same as when they met me, but the 22-30 year olds that I work with are never confused about my age.

            1. LunaLena*

              “– It’s often people in their 60s who say you look young. ”

              That may be your experience, but I’ve been told that by people of all ages, including teenagers (for reference I’m 38 but frequently get mistaken for a college student, especially since I work at a university). I’ve also looked young for my age pretty much all my life – I was once asked what colleges I was planning to apply to when I was 24 – and there has never been a consistent age group that told me that. It’s always been literally everyone I meet, except for family who are used to the way I look.

              1. Baffled Teacher*

                I am also 38, starting a new role in a new school as of last year, and people consistently assume that I am about 24. Which is flattering, but every time someone’s like “oh you young person, with your memes and anti capitalism!” I’m like “Sarah I have lower back pain and we graduated one year apart”

          2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            I wonder if OP’s concern isn’t about ageism in general so much as it’s about being in an industry where non-trads are relatively uncommon. That is a thing in some circles, to the point that someone might be hesitant to draw attention to having finished undergrad past their mid-20s.

          3. I'm LW#2*

            Exactly Reba. Ageism is real. I’m absolutely love my age, it’s just not something I’m very forthcoming about at work to many people. I’d be lying if I didn’t feel the shine and opportunities I’ve had my way haven’t been because the higher ups assume I’m a mid-20’s something.

      2. Wehaf*

        I would recommend that follow-up call; otherwise they may draw their own conclusion, which might affect how they treat you down the line, e.g. “LW#2 hates publicity; we shouldn’t ask if they’d like to be featured on the cover next month.” And who knows, maybe they’ll still throw you a “special mention” in the issue in question, or something like that.

        Also, congrats on the award, even though you can’t accept it! It sounds like you’re very valued at your company and that people outside the company recognize your contributions as well.

      3. Funfetti*

        Well good for you being nominated and declining – that’s the right thing to do.

        And basically what happened to you is the plot of “Younger” on TVLand – a woman who is 40 passes as 26 (it is Broadway legend Sutton Foster so I let it slide).

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I work with several people who have won these types of awards over the last couple years, and they do have impressive career accomplishments for their age, but I don’t put a lot of weight on these awards anyway. For these particular folks, a lot of grooming, training, and forgiveness has gone into them achieving what they have done. I do think they had the raw talent, but a lot of it is luck and being plucked from the crowd of your cohort to have those opportunities (and also wanting that vs. people wanting to focus in other life areas). I’ve seen some of those folks on the verge of failure, but they’ve had support from their mentors that someone who was 10 years older wouldn’t have (and maybe rightly so). I don’t want to sound like a bitter old woman, but I’m personally more impressed by consistency and longevity than a quick rise, and you don’t know what you’re getting when someone has been in the game 5-10 years. None of that is to say the OP is not deserving of the nomination anyway, but I guess just don’t feel too bad that you can’t compete for the award.

      1. I'm LW#2*

        Alison,

        I don’t view you as a bitter woman. I think you’re spot on. I absolutely am being groomed. As a damn near 40 year old, I can see it in action before my eyes. If I was indeed a 25 year old I wouldn’t have a clue. I think this is partly why I was so apprehensive in my OP about divulging my age. Though 40 isn’t nearly old ..when it comes to someone new to an industry, it is

  5. RB*

    How many more versions of this letter are we going to get, where someone is asking if weird new forms of surveillance are acceptable? This is really getting old. Of course, maybe this company was doing it even before the pandemic so they don’t even have that as an excuse.

    1. Dan*

      I can’t tell if your question is figurative or literal. If the former, it seems like crappy employers are coming up with all kinds of inventive ways to “monitor” employee productivity, and the rest of us get the benefit of reading that and thinking, “at least I don’t work at a crappy place like that.” So who knows how many more questions of that nature will come in, probably a lot.

      If your question is more literal, and you’re tired of the subject matter and wish AAM would run something else, well, she’s pretty good at choosing appropriate headlines for each letter, and you’re free to skip them if it’s a subject that doesn’t interest you.

      1. RB*

        Oh, thanks for pointing out how that was unclear. I can see how that might have been taken wrong. Definitely the first one (figurative).

        1. Lily Rowan*

          What a lovely and clarifying exchange! I was sitting here getting defensive on behalf of the LW who is clearly new to the workforce and unsure what is normal/OK, when that was not what you meant at all.

    2. Phony Genius*

      It doesn’t seem to end at employers. My local paper just did a story on a school where they have draconian rules for online learning, including wearing uniforms, keeping their hands folded in front of them, and asking permission to go to the bathroom. And these are 6-year-olds. When they eventually reach the workplace, they won’t know what normal is.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, I’ve seen several of those. All these school districts policing what can be seen on (mandatory) camera and not ever thinking about “hey, you’re going to crash the whole internet trying to get four classes of 30 children on video at the same time, not to mention EVERY OTHER GRADE and every other school in town.”

      2. Observer*

        All of it is stupid, but SOME of this I can understand. But how does a school not recognize that some of their requirements are simply not possible?

  6. Play A Doctor On TV*

    For #1…there’s software online that takes screenshots every thirty minutes or so and logs it automatically. Super weird that they don’t know this and expect you to waste an hour a day. Also weird that there are no issues of confidentiality…

    1. Product Person*

      Online sw isn’t going to ensure all emails written are captured (which seems to be part of the goal) unless the frequency of automatic capture is way higher than every 30 mins. And automating a stupid process may save time but is stupid (not to mention expensive no matter how cheap cloud storage is, this amount of screenshots will add up to unnecessary expenses).

      1. Play A Doctor On TV*

        You can press a button and manually take a screenshot as well, and also set the increments to 15 minutes.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Considering the OP could just save the email as a file instead of taking screen shots of everything (which if the email is long could take a few of them), I don’t find it weird that they don’t know about a software program that does it automatically.

  7. Wendy*

    “Young professionals to watch!” awards seem to be scams 95% of the time! (Congrats, you’re one of the 50,000 names we scraped off LinkedIn, would you like the $50 plaque or the $200 desk trophy?) If it’s not a well-known organization in your field, just ignore them.

    1. Tired and retiring*

      My first thought as well. Not a whole lot of description from the letter writer, but I am wondering if it’s not some sort of scam. For years there have been so many of them out there for students and employees…”Buy a copy of the book to see YOUR name in print!”

    2. I'm LW#2*

      Hi Wendy. This is one of those 5% of times. It’s absolutely not a scam. As I mentioned in my OP, this award is through a well known publication in my industry. I’ve worked really hard to make a name for myself in my industry, not only internally in my company but externally as well.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      In my industry this is legit, they do 35 under 35 to watch articles and young professionals awards, etc.

    4. Phony Genius*

      As LW#2 has stated this is a legitimate award from a legitimate publication, I have no qualms about it. But I have been invited into one of the not-so-legitimate award books. Sort of a “Who’s Who” in my industry. Thing is I was somehow invited twice. Two forms showed up in my mailbox on the same day. One had most of my information filled out on the application, needing only my signature and minor corrections. The other was completely blank. I called them and said I could theoretically hand this form to absolutely anybody and they would be included in the book. The agent said pretty much I could do that, but they hoped I wouldn’t for integrity’s sake. I told them to go ahead and list me, but not to expect me to buy the book or any related merchandise, nor pay the fee to have my photo in my entry. I disposed of the blank form.

      I’m glad that this one is more authentic.

  8. Bob*

    LW1: Its ridiculous.
    If you are using Windows you can screenshot it quickly by using [Windows key]-[Print Screen key]. If you use a version that has the time and date on the lower right corner (or install Classic Shell) it will have the date and time. The pics are stored in the Pictures/screenshots folder.
    That said i am not endorsing this idiotic requirement, but if you cannot get it changed hopefully this saves you some time.

    LW2: Alison is right on the ball. And you might politely suggest that they consider altering the award to include people new to the field.

    LW3: This is silly. They want speed and when they didn’t get it they considered an unethical workaround. Then they still can’t get people. Why is your daughter not able to get the extra time since they still are short employees and by now she could have finished it. She can be given another period to do the training as if she were a new lead since they are still short handed.
    I do suggest going above their head (with documentation) because this is about more than a job, this is about something that could lead to public harm if they are doing it to others. Of course you don’t want to risk your husband’s new job but this is a societal level concern. Just following orders is unethical.
    Also the unpaid training needing to be paid, pursue this as well.

    LW4: Alison’s advice makes sense but i think you need to address the problem as well. If these people are giving advice that causes problems they need to be stopped. A talking to and escalating from there if they don’t listen is appropriate.

  9. Jessica Fletcher*

    #3! I encourage your husband to report the training thing to the health department! They almost certainly are required by law or regulation to have employees complete this training. Plus, lacking training on something as important as contact tracing in a pandemic is a serious safety concern.

    They need to know the recruiter is compromising both public safety and their compliance risk.

    Also if all these people keep dropping out, why couldn’t your daughter just do the training another time? That’s weird.

    1. BadWolf*

      Indeed! I’m concerned this person is messing up the contract tracing system (driving away good people, desperately grabbing not-so-great people, shortcuts on training).

    2. OP#3*

      OP here! The training had a deadline because they were trying to get a whole group onboarded at the same time (think: recruiter works for a week on getting a group of people, and the deadline is Friday at 5). Our daughter was contacted Thursday afternoon.

      I agree with reporting to management/Board of Health. It didn’t even occur to me for some reason that if people slack on the training , they *actually don’t have the required skills*.

      1. Lilyp*

        Wouldn’t it make more sense to move your daughter into the next training session cohort instead of rejecting her entirely though, since they’re still hiring?

  10. Karia*

    I wish companies would be open and honest about rules like this in recruitment. My company (operating in a usually laid back industry) sprang a load of unusually strict office rules on me in orientation. I’m not exaggerating when I say the last time I worked in an environment this rigid I was a teenager working in a factory. Most of the rules would have been dealbreakers if I’d known ahead of time.

    As a result, I’m low key miserable, they’re confused as to why, and it serves no-one.

    1. I edit everything*

      Maybe you should speak to your boss about why you’re low-key miserable, since they’ve noticed. Ask about reasons for the rules (maybe there’s context that would clarify things). And if someone in a supervisory role sees that the rules are affecting productivity, then that’s the first step toward lightening up.

  11. Maxie*

    #1 this is not normal at all for national service positions. I work for a nonprofit and have worked on the compliance end of national service work for a nonprofit placement site. I’ve worked with Americorps, VISTA, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and other national service programs and this is not how they do it at all. Americorps requires time sheets with basic information about the kind of tasks done like case management, coordinate X, admin. VISTA member host sites submit reports outcomes the VISTA member has achieved, but these are series of one liners. What your program is asking is so far outside of the norm that I am wondering if anyone high up in the national service organization is even aware that someone’s asking for this. Definitely talk to whoever your supervisor is at the nonprofit and and have them push on this. The national service organization doesn’t want agencies or members dropping out because that means they’re not going to get the money to pay their staff. If one of my national service members told me their agency was requiring them to do this, I would raise holy hell.

    1. Sarah*

      This – from a state commission perspective, this documentation is NOT what we want to see. That level of detail provides ample opportunity for hours disallowance, confidentiality breaches, etc.

    2. Megan*

      I have similar experience with National Service, and I’m guessing this is a bad workaround for the usual restrictions on teleservice. A state commissioner or CNCS regional officer need to work with the program director on a less intrusive solution that meets whatever the compliance standards are during COVID.

  12. Green great dragon*

    #2 when you write back please be clear that you are early in your career/newish grad, so you’re missing out purely because of an age restiction, not because you’ve actually been around a while. Our equivalent tends to be ‘first 10 years of career’ which is much more welcoming to non-traditional career paths.

    1. I'm LW#2*

      Thanks so much for this advice. Someone mentioned similar and I will definitely reach out today. It may be too late for them to change their requirements this year, but I really like the idea of 10 years industry experience.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My university does similar awards. They base them on your graduation date, rather than your actual age. Since it’s the local public university, they have people who graduate early (because they took college classes while they were still in high school) and people who graduate much later than average (started college late, switched careers, etc.). Basing the awards on graduation date rather than age puts everyone at the same starting point.

  13. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

    #4 Why haven’t you told Cecil and his ilk to cut it out? Management is failing if you have employees that think they are expert enough to advise but are not, and yet no one is willing to put a stop to it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m guessing Cecil is senior to the OP and she doesn’t feel she can tell him to stop for political reasons (because otherwise presumably that would have been the more obvious move).

      1. midnightcat*

        But OP can either talk to their manager, or ask their own manager to get involved.

        If another team were constantly stuffing up my team’s work, my manager would want to know.

    2. Valegro*

      I worked at a university with a lot of people who were high up and had been working there forever with very advanced training who gave horrific advice. The rest of us could not politically point out that some of their methods were wrong or dangerous without losing our own jobs. It was nightmarish and they lost anyone decent they could hire (for many management reasons as well). I wouldn’t be surprised if the OP wasn’t in a position to do anything concrete about it.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        Bingo. When I worked in the public sector it was insane the amount of people who were high up in the food chain that it was an open secret to smile and nod while they gave advice—and then promptly ignore every single thing they told you. But you couldn’t point out to them that they were incredibly out-of-touch, or giving outdated advice. It would not have done great things for you career.

      2. Glitsy Gus*

        Yep, I have also dealt with this in the medical field.

        If there are a one or two specific things they tell people A LOT that are incorrect, you might be able to address those specific items. For example, “Hey Cecil, just FYI, we now drop the TPS reports off at Lorinda’s desk, not the Inter-Office mailbox. I heard you mention the old drop off to Fergus, so I wanted to let you know about the change.” That might go over OK, because that’s an easy mix up.

        Something more technical, such as, “Cecil, please stop trying to coach my team on Spreadsheet maintenance. We do NOT ‘ballpark it if you’re in a hurry,'” or something hard to specify, that would cause huge offense. I mean, don’t you know who Cecil IS?? He has been here since day 1 and has a PhD in Impressive Stuff!

    3. No Longer Working*

      Cecil and the others are trying to be helpful to the new employees. New employees will ask coworkers for help before they go to someone higher up; they don’t usually want to bother the boss or manager with basic questions. Is the OP supposed to say to Cecil, Don’t help Jane if she asks you a question? I think the OP has to tell the new employees what kinds of things they can go to coworkers for help, and the kinds of things she wants them to go to her for help.

    4. Happy Lurker*

      Looking back at my first few professional jobs, the only people who had time to speak to me and help with questions were generally those that were least qualified or gave bad guidance.
      Allisons language is perfect. Additionally, consider trying to find a mentor / trainer / designated POC for newer employees and direct the new employees to them proactively?

  14. midnightcat*

    #4 If the same two people keep causing your staff to make mistakes, I think you need to talk to them / their managers.

  15. TechWorker*

    On #4 it’s a bit of a shame if OP has to tell them never to accept advice from people outside their team because of one bad advice giver.

    (My favourite Cecil type incident was where I was running grad training. We work on coding languages x and y, and the first portion of training is on x. Our Cecil had started 6 months earlier than the cohort but worked solely on y in that time. He sounded very confident and obviously knew how the office generally worked so the others would go to him with questions, including on x. He answered more than one of these loudly, confidently and *completely* wrongly :) I was in the room so could correct and he eventually got the hang of it but have to admit the attitude of ‘I don’t know so I’ll confidently make it up’ did not impress me!

    1. Workerbee*

      I took the direction to be far more don’t just ACT on advice from without thinking it through and/or checking first, if that advice giver is not part of the team, doesn’t actually know the nuances of your job processes, etc.

    2. RecentAAMfan*

      “ it’s a bit of a shame if OP has to tell them never to accept advice from people outside their team because of one bad advice giver.“

      Good point! It’s a lot like telling a whole group something that is really just meant for one person. And of course it’s the one person who will be totally oblivious to it. Alison generally advises against that approach.

    3. SMH*

      I have a coworker that has tendency to state things with confidence and when providing explanations stating this is what happened. She is so confident and sounds so good that later when you point out it that wasn’t what happened (she’s still new so it’s OK not to know) she has to correct the information with others or with clients. MGMT has had to speak to her about waiting until she has clear documentation before stating something as fact and she’s learning but it’s still an issue.

  16. midnightcat*

    #2 Tell them. Don’t lie. Because if you lie, and people find out, you may be the talk of the industry for all the wrong reasons and potentially never live it down. That’ll be your reputation shot. It’s not worth it.

    Your friend may be right that you deserve to be recognised, but that doesn’t mean this is the right way to get recognition. Thank the publication, explain that you are over their cut-off age, and say you’d love to be featured in another way if ever the opportunity arises.

    1. I'm LW#2*

      Thanks Midnightcat I already declined but my rationale was pretty general. I plan to give them a call to explain further. Someone a few posts ahead suggested I explain that I’m a new grad/new to the industry.

      My hope is to one day get an opportunity to be recognized in my industry and I’d hate to be blacklisted. Thanks again.

  17. WS*

    #2 Due to a similar situation (someone who had re-trained being nominated for an award) my profession now uses the term “early career” rather than “young”, which has worked out well and is much more accurate. The current representative of the early career professionals on the Board is actually 44, but started university in her late 30s after raising children.

    1. I'm LW#2*

      Hi WS. Thanks for this. I prefer ‘early career’ to ‘young professional’. I’ll definitely bring this up when I call them today. I’ve already declined and they were positive in their response.

  18. Emma*

    OP2:
    Email them and let them know how old you are, and ask if they would be willing to give you the prize anyway.
    Don’t lie, people will find out and it will hurt you tremendously.
    Ask, and with a bit of luck they would still award you the prize.

  19. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #1…

    Are your morning and evening emails included in your work hours? If not, and if you’re non-exempt, are you being paid correctly for that additional time?

    1. AmeriCorps Site Supervisor*

      It’s AmeriCorps. You are given a living stipend, not wages. Exempt/non-exempt doesn’t apply in this case. However, the member should be tracking their time for service hour documentation, and including these admin tasks in this time.

      1. Maxie*

        This isn’t Americorps. OP mentions a couple of dozen members nationwide. Americorps has atenz of thousands of members in the US. It’s a smaller,national service program probably a faith based one.

  20. SarahKay*

    OP#3, I would say the recruiter’s behaviour is definitely a red flag about the recruiter rather than the company, because I’ve seen this in action from the company’s side.

    Over the past four years (at least, up until March!) my site has been steadily trying to employ people with a very specialised skill set. One problem was that the specialisation is outside the average recruiter’s competency, so we developed a very short multi-choice test for the recruiters to administer to candidates. It was designed to be completed in 5-10 minutes if you had the relevant skill-set, and only those getting 60% correct should be given interviews. Ideally this should have weeded out those without the skill-set straight away, thus saving time for everyone.

    What actually happened was that we still got candidates sent for interview who quite clearly didn’t have the skill-set and didn’t have the knowledge to pass the test on their own. We can only assume the recruiters were giving them the answers, presumably in the hope that somehow we would take them on anyway.

    We now re-administer the test, with the questions in different orders, at the start of an interview. It’s infuriating for us, and must be dispiriting for all those candidates that wasted their time coming to site for an interview that was cut short by failing the test.

    Unfortunately we’re part of a large global company so we don’t have a say in which recruiters we use; all we can do is feed back our concerns to the people that agree supplier contracts.

    1. I'm LW#2*

      To clear up a few misconceptions:
      1.The award comes from a national publication for my industry. It’s legit. Co-workers actually subscribe to this magazine.
      2.At the time I wrote Alison I wasn’t aware who had nominated me. I now know that I was nominated by at least 1 person at my company.
      3.The reason why I was so ‘terrified’ is the idea of being caught in a lie later in my career. For right now I believe I could’ve easily listed 35 and went on and got an award and accolades etc. But my fear is what may happen 10+ years down the line.

      I spoke with a mentor of mine who has been in the industry over 30 years who explained there is one “Grade A” industry publication that does an actual background check before they award you. His said he’d hate for me to one day be interviewed by them and have them flag my age from the 2020 young professional award. At the end of the day, this is just one award. I believe I’m making a big enough impact in my industry that there will be more opportunities for recognition to come.

      1. ThatGirl*

        There’s no reason to lie about your age. It’s one thing to be secretly pleased you look young; it’s another to actively make people think you ARE 25. I know you already said you turned down the award. Just remember that if you’d be “terrified” to be found out that’s a big sign not to lie in the first place. (And there’s no shame in being ~40 or having been a nontraditional college student.)

        1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

          “Just remember that if you’d be ‘terrified’ to be found out that’s a big sign not to lie in the first place.”

          +1

      2. Kat A.*

        Your mentor could not possibly know the background procedure for every publication or organization in the industry. They make think they do, but I doubt it. Besides, even if an industry pub doesn’t require a background check on age, a reporter/editor could still decide to do a quick check for their due diligence. Your age can easily be found through multiple online sources in seconds.

        1. I'm LW#2*

          Kat A.
          I never said he knew the background procedure of every publication. I said he was familiar with the Grade A, top of the line publication that many in my field are trying to get to.

    2. OP#3*

      Thank you for your thoughts! I agree; my husband does too – this is not his first rodeo.

      How awful that your large global company had/has this experience – so sorry.

  21. I'm LW#2*

    To clear up a few misconceptions:
    1.The award comes from a national publication for my industry. It’s legit. Co-workers actually subscribe to this magazine.
    2.At the time I wrote Alison I wasn’t aware who had nominated me. I now know that I was nominated by at least 1 person at my company.
    3.The reason why I was so ‘terrified’ is the idea of being caught in a lie later in my career. For right now I believe I could’ve easily listed 35 and went on and got an award and accolades etc. But my fear is what may happen 10+ years down the line.

    I spoke with a mentor of mine who has been in the industry over 30 years who explained there is one “Grade A” industry publication that does an actual background check before they award you. His said he’d hate for me to one day be interviewed by them and have them flag my age from the 2020 young professional award. At the end of the day, this is just one award. I believe I’m making a big enough impact in my industry that there will be more opportunities for recognition to come.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      There was an episode of the Brady Bunch where Jan was mistakenly given an award she didn’t really earn, and she became an even bigger legend by coming clean and admitting it. Maybe this is your Jan moment?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely you wouldn’t want that! I guarantee that someone at sometime would’ve noticed the discrepancy. Better to be honest and withdraw due to not meeting the age requirements.

      Congratulations on looking young! Lol!

        1. I'm LW#2*

          I try to live as stress-free as possible. Minimal TV. I’m a vegetarian the past 11 years who doesn’t drink or smoke. Oh, and I’m huge on skincare.

    3. Budgie Buddy*

      It’s good to be honest even if you wouldn’t get consequences for lying. Also, if you tell the truth, you will never have to worry about being caught later. Please trust your instincts on this one.

  22. Anna Badger*

    if #1 was dealing with community partners in Europe and the screenshots included personally identifying information (including screenshots of faces) then the service org would be on shaky legal ground, especially if those partners haven’t been told the information would be shared. G-d bless the GDPR, long may she forbid nonsense like this.

        1. Reba*

          Many rules governing PII are industry- or context-specific in the US (e.g. HIPAA, FERPA). Since OP’s organization interacts with the Federal gov, there may be other regulations in play as well. And, a number of professions are bound by client confidentiality, like law and social work. Violating those professional ethics would not necessarily mean breaking a law, but could affect licensing or state regulatory processes.

          1. Anononon*

            The comment I was replying to was pretty definitive, without any qualifiers, so that’s why I was asking. I feel like many times, people call something illegal when it isn’t actually.

            1. Lark*

              What are you talking about? It wasn’t definitive at all. Literally all I said was that they are on shaky legal ground. I purposely didn’t cite a specific law because, as Reba said, it depends on the industry and state.

            2. Observer*

              Oh, they *definitely* are on SHAKY ground. Would the organization DEFINTELY lose a law suit? Could someone DEFINITELY go to prison for this? The answer to both of those is unknown.

              But if the OP is working for a client service organization that gets government money (other than the stipends for the OP and their cohort), then there are definitely legal issues here. Most government agencies (and many private funders) have confidentiality rules built into their contracts and many, many localities also have laws around the obligations for client confidentiality. And that’s aside from the Federal lawys like HIPAA, FERPA etc. So there really cannot be any doubt that the organization is taking a legal risk.

    1. Marthooh*

      The OP said in a previous comment that they also take the time to black out most of the information on the screenshots, for just this reason.

  23. EdGal*

    #1: I’m going to guess that you’re a VISTA. I used to manage one of these programs. Please speak with your VISTA leader or the program coordinator as a first step. Your state contact can be helpful as well if the others are not. Please don’t put up with this.

  24. Vox Experientia*

    for the award poster – to me this kinda sounds like one of those “who’s who of…” business scams. be cautious, don’t give them any personal information, and definitely don’t pay anything to register.

  25. MissDisplaced*

    Are you using their computer & systems?
    They have all the “tracking” they need assuming you use Outlook, Teams, etc. for your calendar and calls.

    The daily report to your supervisor, I can understand. But I’d try to push back by making a Weekly Plan of what you need/like/expect to get done, and then Daily Repots for what you actually do each day. Like, it doesn’t really make sense to do both daily unless there’s something I’m missing about tracking hours (usually done for client billing) here.

    The screenshots are so very excessive. If you’re using a shared calendar they’d see those calls on your day. They don’t disappear. I can’t fathom this unless it’s to document submissions or to collect important proof of something, but not everyday stuff.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Even a daily report is unnecessary. Unless you have to track your time for clients/projects for billing, you shouldn’t have to send your manager a synopsis of what you’ve done that day (plus there’s usually a system to enter your time in those cases). Having to send a daily report to your manager means that your manager doesn’t trust that you will get your work done. The only exception to this is if someone is on a PIP and that’s part of their plan.

      1. londonedit*

        It sounds like a bit of a different situation for OP1 because there’s some sort of funding involved, so I can see why they’d have to prove that they were spending X hours working on the project being funded or whatever, but yeah, I agree that in normal business it’s totally unnecessary and patronising. I worked for someone years ago who insisted on being copied into every email, insisted on everyone tracking how many hours they were spending on each project (there wasn’t funding and we weren’t paid an hourly rate, it was just micromanaging) and everyone had to email them a list of what they were planning to work on each morning, and then a list of what they had done each evening. It was ridiculous. This boss would then routinely pick apart what people were and weren’t working on, would walk past people’s desks and berate them for working on the ‘wrong’ thing at that particular moment, and would routinely change their mind about what they wanted and then complain that too many hours were being spent on X project. Unsurprisingly staff turnover was crazy, and the boss would then moan about how ‘people these days’ just didn’t have the staying power to keep a decent job.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I’ve been wondering if there’s room for a daily status update without it being automatically overbearing, especially remote. I have a direct report who is struggling a little with prioritization and with getting some lingering things off her plate, and I was thinking that asking for a one sentence or bullet point update daily might help. Like “today I’m focusing on the teapot financials, and should have a draft to you. Then I can finally wrap up the spout analysis.” I definitely don’t need a rundown of every email she sends or whatever, but it gives me more room to say “you’ve been ‘almost finished’ with the teapot financials for three days, what’s up?” or “do you need more help figuring out next steps on the spout analysis, because that’s really been dragging out?”

        She’s not at all in PIP territory, but is fairly junior and I think needs more of this kind of support than I’ve been giving her lately. Hopefully I’m not out of line?

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Do you have regular one on one meetings with them? Maybe have a conversation about your concerns and ask them to suggest ways they think may help them improve. Maybe they think a daily report would be helpful to them, but IME it screams micro management.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            We do have a weekly one on one, but the same things have tended to linger on her to-do list week after week recently, and it’s “oh, things got busy with X so I didn’t get to Y, I’ll try to get to it next week”.

            You’re probably right that more direct conversation would be the best next step. I’m a first-time manager and she started a few months before the pandemic, so I’m still finding my footing as a manager and our workflow has been swinging around a lot with the pandemic and the switch to remote work. She was very productive early on in wfh, plus was still in training, and I’m trying to be flexible, because, you know, pandemic, but this past month or two it seems like things have started to slip.

        2. Arvolin*

          I had problems with priorities going on quite late in my career. We then had daily stand-ups, so I wouldn’t be wasting more than one day on stuff that shouldn’t be done. What we reported in the standup was what we’d worked on the day before, what we planned to accomplish that day, and any problems we were running into. If I were asking for daily reports like that, I’d like to get all three of those in.

  26. Amethystmoon*

    I can see having to save copies of e-mails, but screen shotting them also is over the top. My organization actually does make us archive them in Outlook in case of legal issues. I would wonder if screen shotting meetings falls afoul of the recording laws in some states. Granted, you are asking permission, but still. I would be concerned if say, someone’s child comes into the frame accidentally. This could cause the organization huge legal headaches, especially depending on where it is located.

    I could also see maybe keeping a spreadsheet tracker, like date and time stamps of tasks done. I do this at work also, because it helps keep me organized, especially when I do things for many different people. But screen shotting is more excessive than even that.

  27. Julia*

    Popping in here to say thanks for addressing question #5! It’s easy to find sneaky ways to summarize your resume to say “hire me please!” but taking a more natural and conversational approach is key. Thanks for helping me to make the switch, and for providing such great examples. Nobody really teaches you how to write a cover letter, so thanks for that!

  28. Jennifer*

    #2 I love Alison’s answer to this. Enough with the top 30 under 30 and all of that and acknowledge people who are new to the field and thriving.

    I remember a publication did a top 35 over 35 list which was funny and also so needed. They acknowledged people who started new careers later in life. For example, Toni Morrison was included who published her first novel at 39.

    1. I'm LW#2*

      I read a similar article on LinkedIn I believe it was like 50 people over 50 in their industry. I thought that was so awesome and very needed. Ageism is so real.

  29. I edit everything*

    LW1 should screenshot this column and Alison’s answer and submit it as part of her daily log, filed under “research.”

  30. Jennifer*

    #4 I think you’re asking the wrong question. Maybe the people who are more knowledgeable aren’t very approachable? It’s easy to pick up on when someone feels bothered or irritated when you seek them out for questions, especially when you’re new and maybe a bit nervous. Why aren’t newbies comfortable going to you or others on the team?

    1. Metadata minion*

      I think that’s definitely worth looking into, but it might also be just a matter of who sits closer to the new employees (if they’re not remote) or that Cecil is one of those people who doesn’t know what he’s talking about but *thinks* he does and so is Super! Helpful! with new people. So they go to him because it’s extra specially convenient even if the actual experts aren’t particularly standoffish.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s definitely possible. Maybe Cecil is approaching them and trying to be “helpful” and they aren’t even approaching him. I’ve known people like that before that are well-meaning but really need to sit down.

        Just thinking back on times when someone outside the team has given me advice on something, I always asked the people training me about it before I implemented it. If people are consistently going outside the team for advice, that’s reason for concern.

      2. Reba*

        Yeah, we recently had the letter from someone whose officially assigned mentor was giving bad advice… and the longer-tenured people there knew or at least suspected he would give bad advice… and he still was given a mentee!

  31. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    I wonder if screen shot of emails is a dumb “loophole” in confidentiality laws they think they’ve discovered. They aren’t reading the EMAILS they shouldn’t have access to; they’re reading a SCREENSHOT the OP took and it’s the OPs fault if confidential info is left on screen instead of reducing the email window so it’s hidden…it’s junior high school logic…”you said i couldn’t watch TV, you didn’t say i couldn’t watch my friend’s NETFLIX”

    I have a coworker who is very disgruntled with her supervisor and wants to record conversations on her cell phone…which is illegal in California, a 2-party state. She thinks she’s found a brilliant loophole that if she uses a voice to text transcription app or service to have a WRITTEN version of the recording, then it’s totally legal. I’m not a lawyer, but that doesn’t sound legal, plus she’s the kind to get legal advice from friends on Facebook.

  32. I'm just here for the cats*

    For letter #1 if they are so paranoid why dont they install some type of tracking software that will take screenshots, rather than have the employee spend up to an hour per day(!) doing it.

    I think LW should talk to boss. Maybe track how long it takes in a week to do this stupid tracking and say something like I could get X done much better or sooner if I didn’t have to do this type of reporting.

  33. FuzzyFuzzyCat*

    Random Q but what does *waves hands* mean in Letter 3? I am assuming Covid but did not understand the reference.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s sort of a “look at the state of the world” gesture – COVID plus everything else.

      There’s a meme going around that says “I’m not saying David Bowie was holding the fabric of the universe together, but :::gestures broadly:::” and – same idea. The world was kind of crazy even before COVID.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Similar to saying “yadda yadda yadda” instead of all the long extraneous details that don’t really add to the story. Most people know why now is a really bad time to graduate college.

      1. FuzzyFuzzyCat*

        Ah, got it. That makes sense. I could see how including the extraneous details would be distracting to the story.

    3. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      I think it just means “all this stuff” to mean everything going on, Pandemic stuff etc….

  34. insert pun here*

    I think most health departments/other entities are doing contract tracing through an online coursera course, which ends up being a sort of general credential, rather than specific to the state/department. So it’s portable, like a degree or a certification. Given that, would this training still have to be paid? (link to course in reply.)

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I was thinking that maybe the recruiter may get extra points if he finds people who are already qualified and don’t require training through the department. So maybe that’s why this training is not paid for

    1. insert pun here*

      (to be clear, OP might not be referring to this training/a similar training, I just know a lot of health departments are using it.)

    2. Training evaluator*

      I was thinking this. There are two COVID-19 contact tracing certification courses available (I work for one of the organizations providing these trainings) they are not state-affiliated and they are provided free online. They cover the basics of COVID-19, the principles and purpose of contact training, and little bit on conducting interviews and providing resources. It’s more like earning a general credential than getting trained in a new job. The health department still provides on the job training specific to the position and the location.

  35. Grey*

    #2: If you’re planning to accept the award, think about Young Professional #51 who is legit and doesn’t get recognition because of you.

        1. I'm LW#2*

          Hi Grey, it’s quite alright. And yes I’ve already turned it down. So hopefully #51 gets their shot.

  36. LaDiDa*

    Screenshot OP should use snagit to make a video recording of her screen for the entire day, and let her manager watch the 8-10 hour video. If they want copies of the emails asked to be CC:d on them, or ask the employees to make sure to keep copies in case they are ever needed, but to screenshot them?
    I can’t imagine pausing to screenshot, date and time, every move I make. It is insane.

  37. Matilda Jefferies*

    OP#1, I’m in records management, and one thing I find is that people *always* throw Audit under the bus. Everybody needs to keep everything, just in case we get audited at some point! Most of the time that is absolutely not true. Either they’re relying on rumours and hearsay (that one department that got audited that one time 20 years ago said…), or they’re flat-out making it up.

    So my strategy is to ask for more information. Who does the audits? How often? What exactly are they looking for, and how far back? If it’s an internal auditor, so much the better – you can always call them “just to clarify.” I’m not an auditor, but I am at least 99% confident that your actual auditors are *not* looking for screen caps of every single thing you do all day. There’s just no way anybody needs to sift through that much information to confirm that you’re doing the work you say you’re doing.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I wonder how much of keeping everything and then some is a bit “malicious compliance” and they want to punish auditors by burying them in unnecessary records, receipts, emails, photo copies of the email, faxes copies of the photo copies of the emails, memos about the faxed email sent in triplicate…

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I also think this is because it’s wfh. Except for buts in seats you can’t tell if someone is working when in an office. You can have someone sit and working on their computer in the office but they are t doing anything but they look like they are working so they must be. But you have someone at home, that you can’t see so we ha e to make sure that every keystroke in is for the company.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Absolutely, it is. It says “we don’t trust our employees one tiny bit.” Why not just introduce transparency so people know if work is getting done? Also, what are they supposed to do while waiting for work to come in, or don’t they have to do that?

  38. Emilitron*

    re#5 – the way in which this isn’t summarizing your resume is when you add your own context to it. “In my X job, I was initially responsible for ABC, but it was really C that resonated with me, which grew into D. I’ve found that I (skills, desires, inspiration, your personal stamp on doing C and D).” Ideally you phrase these enthusiasms such that there’s no need to spell it out “This is relevant to your job X because I want to do more C/D for your company”

  39. NewbieMD*

    Regarding #3, not to make light, but Jan Brady had a similar dilemma back in the day. She won an award for, I believe some sort of history project, but right before she went on stage to accept it she looked at the score sheet and realized that the teacher had added her scores wrong! The real winner was Nora Coombs! Jan decided that she couldn’t propagate the injustice so she ran out to the teacher presenting the award and whispered something to her. The audience was all atwitter. What was going on? Finally, a dejected Jan walks off the stage as the teacher announces that Nora Coombs had actually won. But it was okay in the end because Mike and Carol were standing backstage and they assured her that she was, in fact, the real winner, because she didn’t let an injustice go unaddressed!

    1. Lord Peter Wimsey*

      I *heart* the Brady Bunch reference! And to the classic “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” episode, no less!

  40. employment lawyah*

    3. Recruiter suggested candidate cheat during training
    1) Not good.
    2) Surprisingly common. When you make things online without verification–whether classes, training, “mandatory personal mental yoga sessions”, or anything else, then lots of people cheat.
    3) I would stay out of it. It isn’t your fight.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      I had a recruiter change my resume on me once, expecting me to BS my way through the interview. I stopped using them after that.

  41. Anon for this*

    For #3: your husband should absolutely flag for his employer and for the people at DOH he works for. I’m actually working from the State side for this in New York so if that is where the OP is I would love to pass along my contact info.

      1. Anon for this*

        Hello neighbor! Sorry I can’t be more help. But this is definitely something PA DOH would want to know about.

  42. Des*

    “…an awesome local nonprofit…”
    “I am expected to provide screenshots of EVERY task I do throughout the day while working from home.”

    Those two lines are mutually exclusive.

  43. RD*

    OP #1- Another AmeriCorps program director here. I manage a VISTA and AmeriCorps State program, and I can tell you that I haven’t gotten explicit guidance from either program at the state or federal level on how to monitor members’ time while they’re teleserving. It’s up to the program to have a policy.

    And your program’s policy is a bit bananas. They’ve probably heard horror stories of what can happen if they’re found to have been non-compliant, but that still doesn’t make this kind of micromanagement right. It might be difficult to get them to change their minds, though, especially if they’ve been burned before. My suggestion would be to talk to your program officer and just explain how much time it’s taking to do what they ask and the limitations it’s causing. On a program director side, I can’t even imagine how much time they’re spending cross-referencing what you submit. Honestly, for an entire program, that could take up a full-time job. Maybe they’ll start to rethink it on their own for that reason, too.

    For reference, I ask that members in our program email their supervisor when they start for the day and then at the end, including a list of tasks completed in the email at the end of the day. Members are also required to list daily activities on their timesheets. I personally find the emails to be a bit much, but it’s the best way I could figure to do a double-check of sorts.

  44. Leela*

    OP #4 is there anyway to approach this by telling Cecil he *needs* to know for sure that the advice is sound? It’s really unfair for people, especially juniors, to be told conflicting information and to not really know every piece of how they’ll be impacted based on who they do or don’t follow, or who they tell.

    It’s a very vulnerable situation for someone to come in and be told things by a longstanding employee and, even if you’ve been told not to listen to them, have to wonder how it plays out if they find out you didn’t.

  45. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Gonna love the screenshot of you screenshotting your work: if it takes up to an hour to prove you’ve done the work, you need to prove you spent that hour proving you did that work, right?
    Like I used to have to account for time spent on each project at work, and wrote in that I spent an hour filling in the form to write how much time I’d spent on each.

  46. Ladycrim*

    LW1, this is way OTT for an audit. I work for a non-profit, our Accounting Manager is extremely strict about documentation for auditing purposes, and we don’t have to do anything approaching this. Why do they need you to screenshot your work? Isn’t there some sort of finished product or end result they can see? This sounds like their version of a NannyCam to make sure you’re spending your day working.

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