Labor Day open thread

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

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

{ 403 comments… read them below }

  1. Office Plant*

    So I was laid off after a six-month furlough from my job. I’m wondering if and how I should list this furlough period on my resume. Would it be something like Flowerpot Handler (Sept 2019-Sept 2020 (furloughed in March 2020). Or should I leave it off and explain it in a cover letter or interview instead? Or just not mention it until I get asked why I left my job?

    My concern is that I was only in my last position for a year, and really only worked it for about six months before getting furloughed. I don’t want to mislead employers into thinking I had more experience than I do. Thanks all!

    1. Germank106*

      I would put it in your resume exactly like that. It’s not your fault you were furloughed so early into a new job. Use the cover letter to show off the skills/experience that you do have.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I’d put it on exactly as you have in your question. I think most potential employers will recognize that it wasn’t your fault that your were furloughed , in the circumstances, or that as a newer hire you were one of those not hired back, and it explains what would otherwise be a gap in the resume.

    3. RC Rascal*

      I wouldn’t address the furlough or length of furlough on the resume. Just put dates of employment.

      In your interview when they ask why you left simply say you were laid off due to change in financial conditions ay your company. YOU care about the furlough. Your next employer likely does not & only wants to hear about your skills & knowledge.

      1. Firecat*

        I’m on the fence about this one. On the one hand, if they had more experience and/or had returned after then I could see not addressing the furlough on the resume.

        On the other hand, if they were furloughed in March they only had 6 months experience and not a year which is a big difference. And OP doesn’t want to seem like they are trying to lie either.

        On the other other hand OP doesn’t want to look like damaged goods, and if they were not job searching during the furlough they don’t want to look like they have been off work six months with no offers either.

        While it would be great to say – no employer will hold this against you – my spouses experience during the great rescission of 2008-2011 was that getting laid off early in his career and having a sizeable gap where he was not hired made him practically unhirable. I’m really not sure the best move here.

        1. Office Plant*

          To further clarify- I was with my last company for nearly 8 years. But was only in my last role there for about six months after being promoted. It was a significant promotion- moving from an hourly to management role. So that’s why I’m concerned about misrepresentation. I’m not concerned about any employment gaps or appearing as a job-hopper as I’ve had several years of employment with previous employers and no other breaks in employment.

          1. New here*

            Because of the date of layoff I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Most people are aware during Covid there were a number of companies doing layoffs. Normally I would agree you can put laid off on your resume if there’s a large gap especially if you had already been with the company for awhile since you could have been enjoying you’re time off to find the right fit since nobody would know what if any kind of a package you received when laid off.

  2. Anon for this query*

    Tips for ways to work with a direct report when you have had to discipline them?
    I am head of a small department. One of the people I supervise is someone who has never been a steller employee but has been adequate. Pre-Covid we had addresses some performance issues with them (last step before putting them on a formal PIP) They improved enough that we didn’t go forward with a PIP but then started to backslide.
    They were then on furlough* during lockdown during which time I and a junior colleague were covering their work.
    As a result of this, I discovered some issues with their work, in particular, that they have not been following internal processes and as a result, had put the organisation at risk (without going into too much detail, the org. wasn’t harmed, because the checks which should have been done, but weren’t, came back as ‘accept’. However, had any of them turned out to be a ‘decline’ there could have been massive repercussions – fines, rebukes by our regulator, increased insurance premiums and in a worst case scenario, criminal charges (unlikely but possible)
    This resulted in our taking disciplinary proceedings against the employee (we are not in US and can’t just dismiss someone without going through a proper procedure)

    Although we approached it on the basis that the issues were potentially serious enough to warrant dismissal, after taking advice from HR & legal** we did not go that far, the employee has been given a final written warning and will be on a PIP .

    However, on a personal level I am still very angry with the employee – they have a low workload and these are thing which we have detailed policies and regular training about, including clear guidance about how vital it is to follow them because of the potential risks of not doing so, and checklists on starting a new piece of work to ensure that they are not overlooked (employee had been signing off on the checklist to say they had done the required check, but had not actually done it) the employee has a good deal of experience, – in other words, no reason for them to have not done things correctly.

    It wasn’t a one-off, it was the same thing across multiple pieces of work.

    When we spoke to them at the disciplinary meeting they tried to blame others, including me (on the basis I had not picked up on it when previously looking at work they had done, which of course I hadn’t, because we work on a assumption of basic honesty on the part of employees so I relied on the fact that if they have said they’ve done X, they have done X.

    My issue is that I am concerned that this will make it hard for me to manage them in a fair way, since I no longer trust them and am angry that they tried to blame everyone except themself for their failures.
    Due to the size of our organisation having someone else manage them is not an option.

    Longer term it may solve itself as given their past pattern I think they may fail the PIP, but meanwhile, or if that doesn’t happen, I need to manage them and focus on their current performance, not my frustration with the past behavior. Has anyone had a similar situation and is able to offer tips on not letting my personal frustration color my management of them?

    * In my country, furlough amounted to people continuing to be employed and paid 80% of their salary, but not working, with the government reimbursing employers for the wage costs, so the person has continued to be employed all the time they were at home and not working
    ** Because of Covid, lots of dodgy employers are trying to dismiss people for alleged faults to save the money it would cost to lay them off because there is less work, so there is a significant risk that the employee would claim that was a factor here, which could result in long and expensive litigation over the issue.

    1. anony*

      Imagine that they’re your kid who you love… be kind and compassionate to them directly, find an outlet for your anger (it’s YOUR anger, your issue), and manage them in alignment with the level of trust appropriate to the situation — that is, check their work as much as necessary so that the org *can’t* be at risk from their behavior, as that compliance obligation is now on you (since you know your original assumption of honesty is not sufficient for the time being).

      Hope this helps.

    2. Observer*

      The thing here is that it’s actually NOT unfair for your attitude and behavior to be affected by what this employee did. The fact is that you cannot trust them, and you will continue to have extra work because of their (mis)behavior, even if they do pass the PIP.

      So, not only is it reasonable to subject this person to greater scrutiny, it’s also reasonable to not extend niceties to this person. I don’t mean icing them out or bullying, of course. But this is not someone you are going to extend yourself or do favors for.

      1. Anon for this query*

        Thank you- that does help.
        I think part of why I’m finding it hard is that I have been finding it tricky to draw the line between what is a reasonable and fair reaction to their behaviour and what’s me be annoyed on a personal rather than a managerial level.

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

          If you have an employee that you do trust and respect…when you run across an interaction or feeling where you doubt your judgement ask yourself, if the Good Employee did/said the same thing, what would you do or say? For example, if good employee had to leave early for a Dr apt and you’d be fine with that, then if Bad Employee needs to leave for a Dr apt, you should grant them the same courtesy; but if leaving early means they don’t finish their work, but Good Employee would be able to, then that gets documented on the PIP. That’s the boundary.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            So very much agree. This is how I found my path also. It was also helpful to think about basic human courtesy. So I said good morning and good night. I did not chat much, because I wanted the person to really focus. I kept most conversations about work and not anything outside of work.

            I get the part about the anger interfering with objectivity/tone of voice/etc.
            –Think about the fact that they did not “screw you” personally. They screwed the company as a whole. You just happened to be there. If there was a different boss, they would have done the same thing to that boss as well.
            –Remember that they will pay a steep price for this but it is going to take a bit for it to play out. They are going to be without income at a really bad time in recent history. (Sometimes my anger turned to sorrow with this thought, but not every time.)
            –Do your best to remain factual. Set your own default to be, “If I am not sure, then I won’t say what I am thinking.” Speak when you are certain you are on solid ground, not emotional ground. This may mean going back to your desk and composing what you want to say for a given incident- just take a little breathing space. I don’t mean literally writing it out, but rather I mean get your thoughts collected. My go-to question for this is, “What is needed here that is NOT being done?”

            I want to use a stupid example, because it’s the little stuff that can really trip us up. Supposed procedure is to number the pages on their reports. It’s a few extra clicks to get the page numbers on there but it’s expected. So he hands you a report without page numbers on it. Something so freakin’ basic and he can’t even get that. Your thoughts run amok, just another annoying example. You’re angry.
            Pull out the question, “What is needed here that is not being done?” The answer, of course, is page numbers. Collect your thoughts. Go back to him (or call him to your desk) and hand back the work as Not Accepted because it lacks page numbers. If appropriate tell him that this incident will go on his PIP report because putting page numbers on things is a baseline that is required from everyone and he should be aware of that by now. Tell him to bring you a copy with page numbering. Indicate by returning your attention to your own work that the conversation is over. If he gives you a hard time, that is more material for your report on him. “So you are telling me that it’s not your fault there is no page numbers? Okay. I will add your comments to this report. And you can add the page numbers now which is what the rest of us do when we encounter a report without page numbers.” And then turn back to your work.

            Notice how everything here is factual, even the part that he should be aware of page numbering by now. You can say it in a flat, almost robotic voice. Don’t be afraid to use expressions such as, “it’s part of the job” or “it’s required of everyone here”.

        2. charo*

          It’s nice that you’re trying to be fair. What you can do is use your feelings as “fuel” to scrutinize their work extra closely and keep aware of them. And scrutinize your own actions to keep them from being personal.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I guess I am confused about why you think that past behavior shouldn’t impact your interactions with this person. They have shown that they are incompetent to a dangerous degree, untrustworthy and unwilling to take responsibility for their failure to do the job. This is not a person who deserves warm fuzzies — this is a person who should be treated with extra caution and oversight. No bullying, no being purposefully mean — but this is not someone who has earned a fresh start.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah. You must remain calm and professional, but no joking around and no being lax over anything, watch them like a hawk, double check everything they do. Count to ten any time you feel like you want to snap at them, and rephrase the snappy remark as an “I” message “when you say you’ve finished X, I’m not sure I can trust that it’s true after the meeting where you blamed me” (rather than “you always put the blame on me so I can’t trust you”).

    4. Managing while angry*

      I have been in exactly your shoes.
      The employee by ignoring the necessary procedures was lying. yes.
      The employee blamed their supervisor for basically trusting them. yes.
      The employee attempted to shift blame to others.
      The impact of their actions is significant.
      First things first. Manage your own feeling. Yes you can be angry but do not exhibit your anger/sadness to the employee or anyone else. Be pleasant and professional at all times. Seek professional help for yourself.
      Set up the PIP with very specific deadlines, deliverables and expectations.
      Set up a rubric.
      For example- employee will follow procedures exactly. – not 98% There is no slack.
      Document every interaction etc. Put everything in writing in an email to the employee cc yourself and put in a folder.

      1. LavaLamp*

        My suggestion is to take a deep breath and then think about how you would want to be treated. This person is getting their consequence in the form of a PIP and other discipline.Would you want someone to hold this over your head forever? I certainly wouldn’t. I would also spot check other employees on this because it could be that other people are blowing this step off as well. I’ve had the experience of “this is super important” in training and then in practice nearly everyone blows it off. Would it change your anger if you found out that it wasn’t just this employee?

        1. Observer*

          Please be careful with the idea of checking on others because this person did what they did. Yes, spot checking on a periodic basis is not a bad idea. But if you start acting as though all of your staff is untrustworthy because of one person’s behavior, you will kill morale – and you will deserve the negative fallout from that.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            OP can say “one of your colleagues didn’t do these checks properly so now I’m having to check everyone’s work, please don’t take this personally!”

            1. Observer*

              Yes, and you think that will help? It *IS* personal. How can someone NOT take it personally when you basically declare that you are now going to treat everyone as suspect?

            2. Anon for this query*

              We did check up once it came to light. (We have regular Reviews which mean a random file is reviewed for every client-facing person once a month, including me and other senior staff, so did ask everyone to double check this rather than just accepting that if it had been signed off it had actually been done. No one else was signing off when it hadn’t been done)

              1. Anon for this query*

                We did that before we started the formal disciplinary process on the basis that if it was widespread we would have to assume that it was a failure of training rather than a failure by the employee, in which case changing the training and how we managed the process, rather than disciplinary action, would have been the way to go.

        2. Cassidy*

          So, no employee should ever be disciplined for anything, ever, until all employees are checked out as to whether they are doing those same things, too.

          The training for the OP’s employee shouldn’t hold because you’ve “had the experience of ‘this is super important’ in training and then in practice nearly everyone blows it off.”

          The OP mentions only one employee, yet we should all somehow consider all other employees, as well.

          The logic boggles.

          1. charo*

            Exactly. People are creatures of habit usually so we notice a change in behavior; one slip is allowed. This guy has a track record so his habit is to be sketchy.

          2. LavaLamp*

            I never said no one should be disciplined at all, just that it might help with being angry at someone if you can get to the root of the problem. Wow. No need to be so rude.

            1. Observer*

              Except that what you suggest as the root of the problem is not at all likely. Although, to the credit of the OP and their company, they did check that out – and it turns out that it actually is NOT the root cause here.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Is it possible for the PIP to include a requirement that if they complete the PIP satisfactorily, but then F up afterwards in X Y or Z ways, they don’t get a new PIP, they just get fired?

        1. WellRed*

          I feel like if they complete a pip and the eff up again it should be grounds for termination not another round of warnings and Pips. This employee in particular sounds unsalvageable.

        2. Anon for this query*

          The final written warning Worley’s like that. If they do something else which results in disciplinary action then it would be possible to fire them even if it wouldn’t have resulted in firing if it was a first offence.
          It would need to be a similar type of misconduct – eg failing to follow other procedures.
          The final warning expires after a year, so it’s not forever, but longer than a PIP.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              It is amazing the way Siri garbles words since the update where took away the magnifying glass!

          1. valentine*

            Is it considered a first offense even though it’s multiple offenses?

            They skipped a vital process and lied about it. (And you have proof so what’s with the fear of litigation?) This is as serious as punching someone. And now you’re the one paying for it because you’ll have to check every single time, forever. You get to be angry about that. I’d picture them on thin ice and wait them out.

            Are they unable to meet a time metric and skipping the process let them fake they were meeting it? What did they gain from this?

            1. LGC*

              I don’t think that’s what OP means – in fact, she means what you’re thinking. Under the final warning, the employee’s continued employment can be terminated for formal misconduct that would normally not lead to termination.

              Or, because I realized that sentence was really confusing: for the next year, Employee can be fired much more easily and is – in fact – on thin ice.

              1. Anon for this query*

                Valentine – the advice we had from our external legal/HR advisers is that under normal circumstances it would be serious enough to justify immediate termination but that they would almost certainly make a claim alleging that it was redundancy in disguise. They probably wouldn’t win, but it would be expensive, time consuming and stressful to fight it 9 and we wouldn’t be able to recover any of those costs) and they *might* win because they could argue that other employees have breached policies and not been fired and that it was therefore unfair, so it would be question of whether the tribunal accepted that this breach was much more egregious and damaging.

                They didn’t gain anything from it. They were just too lazy and sloppy to follow the process –

                LGC – yes, if someone has had a final written warning then they are in effect on their last chance so if they f-up again it’s much easier to sack them (not least as you can argue that despite the prior warning, additional training and PIP they are still unable to do their job right! )

    5. Nonprofiteer*

      A piece of advice that really helped me deal with problem employees was “fair isn’t always equal.” Some employees we trust, give opportunities for growth, and provide flexibility as much as possible. Others have earned (at least temporarily) a micromanaging boss who doesn’t trust them.

      So, annoyance aside, don’t worry about managing in a way that you would never use for strong performers.

    6. PollyQ*

      I’m not saying you should do this, but I am saying it wouldn’t be wrong for you to be looking for a way to get rid of this person. He neglected to do an important part of his job, with no excuse, over a period of time, lied about it, then didn’t even take responsibility for his actions. That this didn’t cause an enormous problem for your employer was nothing more than luck. This is a genuinely bad employee. I understand that you can’t just fire him outright, but I don’t think that “fairness” demands that you give him a second chance, or even to stop being angry with him.

    7. LGC*

      So, I think there’s a lot of good advice here, but – the one thing that I’d have to say is to not frame the employee’s wrongdoing as personal (if that’s the case)! That is – you’re not punishing the employee, you’re ensuring that things get done correctly and no one goes to jail. I find that when I think of things that way, I tend to work better with people.

      I’ve had to manage while angry, too. I’m actually on the opposite side of most people here – it’s not that I don’t extend compassion, it’s that I try to be…almost dispassionate? Not that I’m intentionally more distant per se – it’s awkward for everyone involved, most of all the employee whose job is on the line. But in the end, the one thing I have to remind myself of is that they’re not messing up AT ME.

      Also, do what you need to do to blow off steam outside of work. You’re human. Don’t feel like it’s a humongous failure that you’re not the perfect, mildly pleasant, unflappable manager.

      1. Mangofan*

        This is great advice, as is much of the advice before it. Some thoughts adding on to that, to help you continue to treat the employee professionally and avoid having the anger make you more upset:
        – It is fully reasonable and justified for you to be angry at them. There’s no question. That said, expressing the anger at the employee only makes you feel upset and worsens your interactions with them, so you’re looking to find a way to modulate or discharge that in order to act in the most constructive way going forward.
        – I sometimes find it helpful to vent my anger by journaling. Not trying to dissect the angry thoughts or reframe them or argue against them – first, just letting that angry part speak, say whatever it wants to say, no matter how unkind or counterproductive it would be to actually say that out loud to the person.
        – The employee is human, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses and fall short in various ways. Now in this case, the employee’s weaknesses / failure resulted in behavior that is not acceptable for the job. But they still deserve to be treated with basic human respect, even as you manage them closely to make sure that their behavior does not result in further unacceptable consequences. (You seem to fully realize this – I’m just suggesting that this line of thinking may make it easier for you to feel less frustrated if you keep it in mind.)

        Good luck! I applaud your self-awareness here and your asking for advice.

    8. Lucy P*

      I wish I had tips for you, other than to say don’t let this eat you. Anger is a natural reaction, but don’t give in to it. Just remember that this employee chose to do a bad job, however, they did not make that choice to hurt you personally.

    9. Anon for this query*

      I just wanted to pop back to say thank you all for taking time to reply, and I am reading all of the advice and comments. Thanks again.

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

    I hope everyone here can get a break. Meanwhile, since I’m from other country, it’s business as usual here. But thanks to this holiday, I finally managed to set a call with my team leader, and hopefully we can agree for a vacacion date that suits both of us.
    On the other hand, this Thursday we have a deparment wide meeting called “COVID protocols and guidelines”. Does this mean we will return to the office? I don’t know and it’s… complicated to say the least, since our area curve is still too high to feel comfortable (and public transport is still banned for non-essential workers).

    1. Stik Tech Drone*

      For me, it is my normal day off from “Stik-Tech” and no Extra Pay. For my husband it is a day off later in the week so they don’t have pay him Extra Pay.

      The only one getting Extra Pay is my brother (Dang him). He is getting Triple Pay (almost $85/hour), supposedly because he already went into O/T earlier in the pay period.

      I know because he phoned me at 11:45 last night from the East Coast to complain about having to work on Labor Day. Hahaha!

      Anyway Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US), I hope your company doesn’t plan on demanding some foolish measure, just to attend this meeting about Covid Protocols and Guidelines.

      I would imagine that would be… counterproductive.

      Best of luck in scoring a decent vacation.

      Pretty sure we can all use a break.

      1. Cassidy*

        >so they don’t have pay him Extra Pay.

        It really bugs me when companies do things like that. I mean, I know it’s out there, but reading about it just brings it home.

  4. A Non E. Mouse*

    Hey look, it’s Labor Day and I technically have the day off, but am working because there’s too much to get done. ;(

    Anyone else having to play catch up today?

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Absolutely doing the same. Work distribution in the era of COVID has become extremely uneven in my company. I won’t say that I’m happy to take up the extra work. But for the time being I’m at least willing to do it so that we’re not all out of a job.

    2. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      I’ll be spending a few hours today playing catch up. In the last few weeks my job has gotten almost unbearably stressful. My boss gives a lot of lip service to using our time off to recharge but very clearly expects work to be done on weekends.

      1. HoundMom*

        Right there with you. The number of Zoom calls during the week really limits how much thoughtful work I can get done. Zoom meetings somehow seem more draining than in person meetings for me.

        1. c_g2*

          I would be curious on why that is. Maybe it is because in person you’re getting more interaction with the other people? Even more introverted people need face-to-face social time.

          1. Lora*

            No, occupational psychologists have done a lot of articles recently about how it takes so much more focus than in person meetings – the feeling of having 20 people all staring directly into your eyes for extended hours without really looking away is very unnatural and makes people feel they are onstage. Also, you are missing out on a lot of body language which is a huge part of communication, and thus are forced to spend a lot more time and energy interpreting the discussion in the absence of that information. Add to that low grade anxiety that your kids / roommate / partner will interrupt, and it’s really stressful in comparison.

            1. WoodswomanWrites*

              This is my experience, and I’m so glad to hear it’s common and not just me. I will look further into the research and share a summary with my colleagues.

            2. Anax*

              For me, it’s also that Zoom and phone calls often don’t have perfect audio quality, and the slight distortions, static, or background noise caused by an iffy connection make it really hard for me to understand people’s speech. In person, I lipread, but that’s impossible via phone, and slight lag or fuzziness on Zoom calls can make it iffy there.

              (Good noise-cancelling headphones do help, though. And at least I can knit on my meetings.)

          2. Lady Heather*

            I think for me it is because Zoom etc have a high “television” quality and it takes a lot of effort to stay focused. (I can’t watch TV either. I can listen TV while doing sudokus, I can’t watch TV.)

            Which, I’ve been told, is a type of sensory-seeking behaviour – TV is too “boring” for my brain to compute, so it starts finding interesting things to do. I actually do better on smaller screens (because the “amount of interesting things per square inch” is higher on a smaller screen) but on the flip side, the smaller the screen, the less I realize I’ve drifted off so it’s a catch-22.

            (And then when the camera is on, I can’t really do sudokus etc either because that’ll look weird on camera. Which is a problem, because that’s what helps me focus. Depending on how interesting the meeting is, I might do sudokus or an “easier” game like hitori/kakuro, or something more physically active.)

          3. BethDH*

            For me it’s at least partly because of how much more effort it takes to read people and how much more I have to “project” a professional persona.

    3. Part Time Poet*

      Yes. Unfortunately. I’m always spending extra hours playing catch-up at a job that is an extremely poor fit and not paid enough to sustain working lots of extra hours.

    4. Kowalski! Options!*

      Kinda-sorta. I have a side gig that I’ve been working on setting up for the past year or so (long story), and the weather is kind of crappy today, so I’ve been working on that.

    5. NYCProducerGal*

      Yes! I produce live broadcasts, and it’s getting increasingly harder to book my shows. I’m still trying to get a guest for one of my shows tomorrow (Tue). I think more people are laying down firmer boundaries, taking time off, etc, which is great for them, but makes my job harder! I’m feeling a very bad attitude coming on today. Ugh.

    6. Jackson Codfish*

      I work at a school system, and the school year starts tomorrow, remotely. I am playing concierge for all the parents who woke up today and realized their kids don’t have a computer to do remote work on. We have been offering loaner computers for several weeks, and communicating that every way we can. Unfortunately, our offices are closed today, so the kids are going to be out of luck for tomorrow’s classes. I feel so bad for the kids suffering from their parents’ inaction.

      Frankly, I think we ought to have just written this school year off, opened a bunch of play centers for littles and started a teenage CCC program for the highschoolers, and started everyone over next fall.

    7. topscallop*

      I’m working so I can bank the Labor Day holiday to tack onto my maternity leave…and because I have so much to do before this baby arrives in about 5 weeks! I’m glad to be working when no one else is, though, so I can get some big tasks under control without having to respond to lots of emails.

    8. JanetM*

      My university made today not-a-holiday, to help shorten the semester and send the students home before Thanksgiving (finals will be entirely online). Staff do get a “deferred holiday” we can take before the end of the year.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Same here. This ended up being one of my busiest days so far this semester. I am looking forward to that deferred holiday.

    9. Bibliovore*

      Yes. The good news is that there are no meetings so I can get house stuff done at the same time. On my second load of laundry right now. Finished one project that has been hanging over my head and have two more to go. It is an extremely Fallish day here so I will plan a walk for a break this afternoon.

    10. Nessun*

      I’ll be online for a while working on a project for a group in a country with no Labor Day. I’m hoping to not be at it too long, but it depends who did what on Friday… fingers crossed!

    11. WG*

      Same here. I just spent 5 hours in the office (my position never went remote for COVID) and the brought home a laptop to get a few more hours of work in from home. At least working at home this afternoon will allow me to take breaks to get laundry done too.

      I was looking forward to a day off. I was promoted about 6 months ago, but have been doing both my old and new jobs for most of that time. And the new position has several large projects over the summer that took me significant time to figure out how to do. It’s been 7 day work weeks for months. But too much to do to warrant a day off…

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Yep, and it’s extra annoying because I’m doing work that another team should be doing, but they can’t get it right. I’ve already spent several hours meeting with them/providing comments on the document/reformatting but they have ignored and/or undone what I’ve done. This is a document that must be done in a specific template and following certain conventions outlined in the template but they have chosen to disregard them. They also can’t be bothered to take screen shots that are actually readable. I’m doing it because I have to submit it so if it’s not right it will come back to me for correction. This is the last time I’m going to submit anything for them; maybe then they will learn the hard way that they can’t turn in useless junk. I’m very salty about this!

      1. Nita*

        Same here. Ugh. Last week I asked a coworker who had some downtime to write part of a report for me. Would have saved me 4-5 hours of work, if he did it right. Only, yesterday I opened up the report and… apparently he’d stared at it for a few hours and added a couple of sentences here and there. The things I’d pointed out as needing changing didn’t get changed. The template language that came from another report is still in there (with a couple of new sentences, so I know he did “write” that section). The guy is at another job next week so I can’t ask him to fix that. I wish he’d warned me or something – where am I supposed to find another five hours in the day?

    13. Esmeralda*

      I work at a large state university that is holding classes today because it made sense to do so when the students were actually on campus. A lot of my students were attending class from the family car, returning from holiday trips.

    14. Nita*

      Yes :( I worked yesterday, I worked Saturday, and I’m working today. And this isn’t going to make next week any easier. IDK where all these extra projects are suddenly coming from!

    15. Reba*

      I scheduled a couple calls with people in other countries, forgetting the holiday… and then I decided to just keep the appointments! Did it to myself!

    16. azvlr*

      I have a big project due in a few days that wasn’t afforded enough time to get done in the first place (no one’s fault, just the way circumstances went down). I worked most of the day, and made significant progress because there were no interruptions. The partners on my project were also responding to email about the project, so I know they are feeling the same crunch, and the gratitude is flowing both ways.
      There are some additional tasks that must be done before the project can be wrapped up and I wanted to try to front load them so I could take my first vacation/staycation in over a year. But then I got a jury summons. Oh boy!

  5. Alldogsarepuppies*

    I’m thinking of making a career shift. How does one know what they want to be when they grow up for the already grown?

    1. Jessie*

      Do you have anything in mind or you just want to change your career? My friend was an elementary school teacher for 20 years, then quit and became a parent coach.

    2. JobHunter*

      What speaks to you when you browse job listings? What do friends and family say to you when you talk about changing jobs? If you hear a common theme (e.g., “You talk a lot about how much you enjoy sewing and you are good at it, why not become a tailor?”), look into it.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I always recommend starting from the side of what you DON’T want to do. If there are things that you never want to do again, what are they? The truth is there’s a massive array of fields and jobs out there, and if you’re looking to start over, one of the most valuable things can be to eliminate the ones you don’t want to end up in.

      Then, look at the skills you have that you enjoy using, and look for areas they’re useful, but you don’t have to do the things you dislike.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that…

      2. Bibliovore*

        Oh yes! When I was switching careers that is what I did. I never want to work in an office that is a cube farm, again. I never want a job where I have to file or microfilm, again. I never want to be a comedy club walker again. I never want to sell hotdogs off a cart again. I never want to work in a day care center again. I never want to sell dictionaries door to door again. I never want to work in a sales call center again. I never want to be a nanny again. I never want to be a department assistant again. I never want to run a summer reading program again. I never want to be a 7th grade teacher again. I will never stay in a position where people raise their voices or sarcasm is the typical way of communicating.

      3. Buni*

        I will Never Wear A Suit ever again. I could rock up to my current job in a t-shirt & pyjama bottoms, say “Overslept, soz,” and garner no more than laughs and, at worst, the occasional eye-roll.

    4. Lady Heather*

      The best advice I ever got was to think what you want your day to look like, then find a career that allows for that.
      E.g. if you’re thinking of becoming a lawyer, remember that it means long hours, paperwork/reading and writing documents, and probably a lot of stress – it’s not just the idealistic “I want to go the distance for a client and wear an expensive suit to court”.

      I’m personally a big fan of having a career you can be happy with, rather than a career that makes you happy – for me, that means working approximately 9 to 5, and – with the exception of the busy season or an occasional tight deadline – not having a lot of work stress. Dealing with people takes up a lot of my energy so I went for a job that isn’t very collaborative. I’m not the best at setting boundaries so I didn’t go for a job like teaching (where there’s a lot of formal and informal pressure to do unpaid work).
      So I aim for having a job that doesn’t make me unhappy and having things outside of work that do make me happy.

      But who knows? Maybe you’re in a career right now that “doesn’t make you unhappy” and you’re looking for something that is intrinsically rewarding rather than it just giving you a paycheck. If that’s why you want to switch, maybe you should be looking for something that’s more on the “make you happy” side of the spectrum.

      That said, it can’t hurt to figure out what your playing field is – draw a circle (or a square) on a piece of paper, that’s your playing field. Inside the circle go “must haves”, outside the circle go “must nots” and try to imagine what your ideal day would look like.

      As for then matching your ideal day to a career.. you may have some idea of what you’re interested in that you can look at – or you can talk to a career counselor. Some specialize in helping you figure out what kind of work fits you best.

      1. NoName*

        I’m thinking about switching careers and these steps have been very useful to me! Also, I would recommend looking up the biggest grievances people have in your careers of interest. Are they long hours, rude clients, or even systemic issues that you’ll be forced to play into? From there, you can decide if they’re things you’re willing to swallow or if they’re deal-breakers.

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        My advice is very similar to Lady Heather. I was a career changer and didn’t know what I wanted to do for a couple of years so I stopped spending money on school and just worked and spent that time looking at job ads online to see what seemed interesting to me and what didn’t. I made a list of these jobs/industries. I also made a list of things I enjoyed and things I absolutely hated. Then comes the things that Lady Heather mentions…..schedule, benefits, amount of interaction/collaboration with others, upward mobility/earning potential, job security, return on investment given the cost of reqd. education, etc. And among that last batch of qualities, you may find some that are more important than others. For me, job security trumps most everything else due to my personal circumstances.

        I essentially looked at it like an assignment and approached it very pragmatically. I should say that I also don’t buy into the whole “your career should be your passion” bit. Your career should be able to support you financially at a standard of living that you are happy with and shouldn’t make you miserable.

      3. charo*

        At one point a lot of women were becoming lawyers — and then some women were quitting being lawyers.
        It’s such a huge investment, time / money / energy, to do all that and then walk away! I can’t believe they went through so much and then realized they didn’t like it.
        I was “good at English” all through school and it was clear what my passion was, though publishing can be tedious. But it’s tedious in your field at least. And often doesn’t feel like work.

        1. charo*

          Don’t hate me for saying this, but when you have a passion for a field, you feel sorry for those who don’t have a passion.

          But I have passion in other areas of my life. Making jewelry, say. It goes beyond a hobby to collecting agates as a kid and then making Carnelian necklaces and collecting quartz chunks as an adult.

          I find that money doesn’t have to come from a job, I’ve been able to get money to live creatively and don’t feel I’m missing anything.

    5. computer10*

      This is going to be unpopular but if I was in a position to change careers I’d look at money over what I want to be or do. Of course there would be a balance it would have to be tolerable. But if there was some boring ass job going that paid well I’d be up for that. Unless you have a rich spouse or trust fund or something life is expensive.

      I followed the whole ‘do what you love/makes you grow/interests you/sounds good to other people/nourishes you/is challenging’ blah blah blah. Whatever, wish I’d just had tiger parents who made me be a Doctor. Many jobs along the ‘what do you want to be’ line just don’t pay.

      I’ve found I can nourish myself outside of work with hobbies and interests. Which a good paying job can pay for. These days I am just chasing pay cheques (within reason). It’s a specific kind of culture that asks ourselves ‘what do you want to be’ rather than ‘how are you going to get paid.’

      1. Hufflepuff hobbit*

        Wouldn’t recommend doctor if you don’t LOVE it. It’s a brutal amount of work, and if it doesn’t tear your heart out some days, you’re not doing it right. Also, although it continues to pay well, it pays less every year and is probably a bubble field in the US

      2. Lora*

        Agree 100%. I don’t have a trust fund or family to help me out – I’m the one who supported other people my whole life (the whole poverty crabs-in-a-bucket thing). Following my passion and even following what I had a natural gift for, would have left me constantly unemployed and forced to switch careers several times over: when I was in college, I wrote and copyedited for both a real professional newspaper and the school newspaper, and had a newsradio broadcast show. I covered local and state political debates and events, got to meet lots of interesting people. I had a music hobby and got involved in the local music scene, occasionally organizing and promoting events myself. Print and broadcast journalism went mostly or 100% online about 10-15 years after I graduated, and the content writers for even major publications (Huffington Post being one of the notorious offenders but there are many) are paid in “exposure”; tons were laid off completely and their jobs never returned, at least not as paid work. Small-time music event coordinators got pushed out by the big music conglomerates more recently, now that most money comes from touring as opposed to selling recordings – and LiveNation / Ticketmaster own the monopoly on that.

        In any case, decided I should major in STEM in college, to be practical, because at the time curing cancer made pretty good money – pharmaceutical companies were offering double the salary of tenure track academics, the funding climate in academia was pretty good too. Spoiler: bench scientists stay in grad school foreeeeeeevvveeeeerrrr, during which time they make barely-surviving wages and do not have anything to put in a 401k. When I finally got a Real Job (TM) as a bench scientist in industry, mergers and acquisitions had caused the pay to come back down to just OK, compared to the cost of living where most of the STEM jobs are. Middle managers in accounting and supply chain make more money, meanwhile the people actually doing the experiments to cure cancer who spent 15+ years in college and grad school (not kidding) are still figuring out how to make their student loans stop eating 50% of their income. Plus, managers in industrial science and academia retire very late. You’re often waiting for someone to die. In academia, they’re keeping people as adjuncts forever and ever now, at a level unthinkable when I was in college; there are occasionally soft-money jobs, but those are dependent on the government administration’s whims. Career progression is like graduating from Juilliard and hoping to become a rock star – not that it never happens, just, however talented you are and how hard you work is not proportional to your odds of success. The best example of this is a guy named Doug Prasher: He was left off the awardees for the Nobel Prize by pure chance, because the Nobel only goes to three instead of four. In the Great Recession, his lab funding was not renewed, he lost his job, ran through his life savings and ended up driving a courtesy van at a car dealership for $8.50/hour. I looked around at my fellow bench scientists and the vast majority of them have family who can help support them if they get laid off or need to re-train for a few years. I don’t, and layoffs in the Great Recession (in my field, these can be laid directly at the feet of two particular mega-employers) were making me extremely nervous. Some of my colleagues, unarguably very talented and brilliant, ended up leaving science altogether during the Great Recession and we are definitely worse for it as a society.

        Ultimately switched to engineering. Many more opportunities to move up, pays about 20% better, requires much much less investment and time lost to education. Down side is, it’s boring and I deal with a lot more financial stuff than I used to. I have enough time and money to pursue my interests on the side though, and I have a much much better quality of life than I would have otherwise.

      3. Rhymetime*

        I’ve changed careers a couple times. I found I made different decisions when I was older than when I was younger. I’ve spent nearly all of my working life in the nonprofit sector. As I’m now closer to retirement age, I made a switch into the fundraising side of nonprofits rather than the program side, because that pays substantially better. As a single person who has no other income than what I earn myself, I realized that I couldn’t afford to continue in my low-paying roles if I wanted to be financially secure when I retire.

        I’m still working for a nonprofit cause that I believe in. While I sometimes miss being on the program side, which is definitely less stressful than fundraising, I’ve reconciled that it’s not nearly as stressful financially for the long term.

    6. Tidewater 4-1009*

      I tried to follow the “do what you love/what do you want to be” also, and it didn’t lead anywhere because I kept changing my mind. I was in college for several years and didn’t finish a degree, and worked mostly in office support.
      I finally realized I should look for a job doing something I’m good at instead of trying to conform myself to a job. I happen to be good at working with computers and data and had several years experience in data entry/support type jobs, so I ended up with a job as data analyst.
      At the time it was at least 2 levels above anything I had before. I stretched and pushed myself to excel, and was at that job for several years. Sadly, the employer gradually changed to be more and more cost-cutting and centralized, and my position was eliminated in December.
      But at least I know what I want. I like working with data better than finance/accounting, and if I have a choice I’d like to get more involved in data analysis. It turns out my skills aren’t very advanced for the field, so I’m taking an online SQL class and looking for a job to move forward.
      So my advice is to look at what you’re good at. What seems difficult for other people but is easy for you? What comes naturally and you just step up and do it without thinking about it? What do people ask you to help with because you’re good at it? Look for a job doing that.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        Also, I wouldn’t run out and get a new degree! Work in the field first to see if you like it and are good at it, and learn about it from the inside so you know what training/degree would be best.

    7. old curmudgeon*

      When my spouse decided after teaching HS science for ten years that he didn’t want to do that for the rest of his career, he went to a place called Johnson-O’Connor for a tw0-day battery of aptitude tests. One of the interesting things he learned is that his skills at clerical speed and accuracy were in the bottom 10% of all the people ever tested by the company in the past century or so – which explained a great deal about why he despised grading papers and wasn’t very good at it. He also learned that he was in the bottom 5% for fine-motor skills, making it a REALLY good thing that he decided against med school!

      The cool thing was that after they pinpointed the things he had an aptitude or natural skill for, then they ran that through their databases to come up with a list of potential careers for him to explore. He wound up going into IT for the education field, really loved it, and did well at it, so at least for him, that two days of testing was worthwhile.

      Full disclosure – this was about three decades ago now, and I don’t know if Johnson-O’Connor is even still in existence at this point. But you might want to consider investing in something like that type of service.

      One of the things that I imagine must be incredibly difficult today is that there are just so many more careers and industries and technologies to choose from. Both of my kids wound up in a career that I don’t think even existed two decades ago. I don’t think it’s possible for any one person to know what they all are, or what traits or characteristics are helpful or a hindrance in any of them. That’s got to make it even more difficult to approach a career change than it was thirty or forty years ago.

    8. Naul Pewman*

      I went from working in Mental Health for the best part of two decades to working in the beauty industry- and now I’m doing something entirely different from either of those things! I’m still not sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I’ve got a much clearer idea of what isn’t for me. Although I’m the main wage earner my partner was massively supportive and I know if I want to change direction again they’ll be right behind me.

  6. WellRed*

    The traffic on our Facebook page, never robust, has dropped even further. Summer slowdown? Changes to the algorithm? Suggestions for where to get advice on making the most of FB? I use it personally, of course, but the business page I could use help.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Do you link to it from any other social media?
      We put stuff on facebook but also link to the relevant post from Twitter, for instance.

      I think also things like how responsive you are makes a huge difference.

      1. WellRed*

        We mostly post our own stuff, linked to our website. Should have mentioned we’re a business news org. I usually get likes for photos from readers etc. but even that’s been nil. it’s a small community.

    2. Kiitemso*

      Our social media partner constantly pushes us to post more video and well-edited pictures that include the following categories: dogs, cats, flowers, photos of real people smiling (eg employees looking happy). And indeed, we posted a video of an employee doing a task that includes flowers (subtitled so people can watch without audio) yesterday and it’s doing Numbers.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is kind of hilarious. Also goats. The internet loves goats. Especially baby ones doing cute things

    3. PollyQ*

      Is your demographic still using FB? You may need/want to move to other social media to reach them where they are. It might also be election-related — I know some people sign off in this season because they want to avoid all the political wrangling.

      1. Syfygeek*

        We post to FB and IG twice weekly. Facebook is for parents, Instagram (which I now hate with a purple passion) is for the college students. And we alternate between students doing/making/showing something and Faculty doing/making/showing something.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      There is an active, national boycott of Facebook that started this summer, including a push to stop advertisers from using it. That might be part of why you’re seeing it now.

  7. Roja*

    Ugh. So I got laid off end of June because the company I worked for shut down, and I resigned myself to it and got a new job. Then my old boss worked really hard to start the company back up again, and hired me back part-time (it’s normal in my field to have multiple part-time jobs) and we were due to be back this week. I was pretty excited, and so was everyone else. Well, I just heard from them–the landlord has decided to shut the building down where we work and has ordered all the organizations in it to cease all in-person activity immediately. Since we’re an arts school, that means we can’t operate. So now we’re shutting down AGAIN, for good this time, three days before the start of the new school year.

    I feel really bad for my boss, who’s worked their tail off the last six weeks trying to get the organization off the ground again. And on a personal note, I’m frustrated that now I’m laid off, AGAIN, and I probably won’t be able to fill this hole in my schedule since now the school year has started and teachers are already hired for the year. So that’s a bunch of income lost. Mostly I’m frustrated that I have to go through the grieving process all over again… I really loved the kids I worked with there. It’s just bad all around.

    1. Miss Dove*

      I wouldn’t be so sure teachers have already been hired for the year. That might be true other years, but not this one. There are a lot of school systems that haven’t started yet or have started online or hybrid. Lots of teachers have quit or retired rather than be forced back and there are still openings.

      Good luck!

    2. Nita*

      I’m sorry. That’s terrible. Is it even legal under the terms of the lease? I hope the landlord owes the tenants some kind of refund for breaking lease with no notice – maybe the refund could be used to reopen elsewhere…

  8. HoundMom*

    Right there with you. The number of Zoom calls during the week really limits how much thoughtful work I can get done. Zoom meetings somehow seem more draining than in person meetings for me.

      1. Ugh-Not-Another-Connection-Request*

        I’ve read multiple articles about it. It is more draining. I’ve worked virtually since early 2019 and back then, had 1-2 calls a week (never video) and now a light day is 1-2 a DAY, and most are on video. I have no clue what’s going on. If we all hate zoom calls, why are there so many more? I have coworkers default to video calls now, which is another thing I don’t understand.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          I really don’t get the overreliance on Zoom (and other video conferencing software). Video uses up huge amounts of bandwidth and not everybody has the greatest internet connection.
          I’ve been lucky – we do everything via Skype voice calls only. This means I can mute my mic and carry on working while listening during the bits of the meeting that don’t really concern my department.
          Why has *video* suddenly become the way to go?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            In January we all got webcams “to improve engagement” (never mind that we were already FAR ahead of the goal engagement scores, using their own metrics, and nobody asked us if we actually wanted webcams and none of us actually did). Then when the rona hit, the directive was “no video unless necessary, it’s hell on the WebEx and Teams servers.” And my entire team breathed a sigh of relief. :-P

          2. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

            I’m a college advisor. I need zoom for:
            *teaching class (asynchronous = very very very hard to establish relationships with students, who are my advisees; students need to connect with each other as well)
            *meeting one on one with students (trust me when I tell you that phone calls are not as effective when you need to review a degree audit or go over a complicated academic policy and can’t just look at it together on a shared screen)
            *observing my mentees (new hires) doing their advising sessions
            *working on website, brochures, and so on with marketing / comms team
            * being observed by mentees and other newish hires while I do my advising sessions
            *meeting with my mentees to discuss how things are going, go over student cases. Several of these mentees I have not met in person.

            Zoom is useful but less necessary for:
            * many committee meetings
            * staff meetings in general

            In other words, a lot of the time I and my colleagues need face to face given the nature of our work and/or find zoom’s features (breakout rooms, sharing screens) help mitigate the difficulty created by not being in person.

            1. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

              And yes, it’s exhausting. I wish we had less zooming for the meetings and leave the video for the parts of our work that are genuinely enhanced by it.

              I like gchat for quick chats and questions, subs pretty well for walking down the hall to ask a colleague a question.

              My take is that some people really do need more face to face interaction, there’s some value to *seeing* people at a meeting, and also some zoom meeting conveners just don’t trust us to read our email and follow through and so they make us show up on camera.

              1. Batty Twerp*

                So I’m rather thinking it’s your last sentence that nails it. Obviously, observing mentees, interacting with students including teaching is exactly the reason to use Zoom (or any other video conferencing). I do get the need in certain circumstances, and it sounds like your job role has definitely got them covered. But the wide spread use in industries that aren’t so dependant on face to face interactions suggests that there are huge trust issues.
                If we did everything by phone, without ever meeting in-person before lockdown, there is absolutely no need for you to now see what the inside of my spare bedroom looks like.

    1. ALM2019*

      I have a meeting with my manager this week about balancing meetings and actual work I need to get done. Our meeting schedule is out of control since WFH began in March and it’s no longer sustainable for me. Two weeks ago I had a total of 65 meetings in 5 days. No time to eat, use the bathroom, etc. People are always late and meetings run over. And double booking calendars is the norm. It’s completely broken me at this point.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m continually thankful my company’s conference calls are video for the screens being presented — not for the people. Once in a while if you’re working with a new person in another region you’ll pop on the video for a few minutes just to get a face associated with a name — but that’s it.
      If you dno’t need video, here’s something I try when there’s a call I have to attend without contributing to: I break out the bluetooth headset and hop on the exercise bike next to the work station any time I find my attention drifting.

  9. Hotdog not dog*

    I hear so many stories about people being up to their eyebrows in work right now. I’m hoping that means eventually things will turn around and companies can start hiring again. Sending out good vibes to both the overworked and unemployed this Labor Day!

    1. Chaordic One*

      My employer has supposedly just O.K.’d funds to hire a fairly large number of people in the next year, but even after all the screening and onboarding they need to be trained and to get some experience before they’re productive. If we hire them today, it will probably be at least a year or so before they can rock it. I guess we just hang on until then.

  10. Ugh-Not-Another-Connection-Request*

    How active are you on LinkedIn?

    I keep my profile current, but don’t actively engage, post original content or share articles. I work in a young company with a lot of 20-somethings and they seem a lot more active. Am I doing myself a disservice if a potential employer sees I am not that active?

    I just find LinkedIn so draining and anxiety-inducing like everything I post is extra judged. Am I overthinking it?

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I hate being told I am overthinking things but you probably are in that it is stressing you.
      Spend some time reading what your peers are doing as a kind of model to see 1. What they are doing, 2 if it seems to work for them in any way. But I don’t think it matters to employers unless your field is directly related to social media.

    2. Summersun*

      I don’t post original content. I congratulate people on changing jobs or comment when I have useful expertise.

      From my observation, the way people use LI seems closely linked to their level of experience. People with fewer years in their field treat it like “Facebook for the office” and spend a lot of time worrying about likes and re-shares. More advanced employees use it like a database or search engine, extracting data about peers and competitors and then getting back to their day.

    3. Generic Name*

      I actually find LinkedIn obnoxious and I get annoyed every time I log in, so I rarely use it. Sometimes I’ll like or re-post stuff my coworkers and close connections post, but I don’t post original content. Some of my coworkers are really good about posting original articles or industry-related photos they’ve taken, but o don’t have the bandwidth to do they, so I don’t.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m probably on LinkedIn for about 30 minutes a day, more so if I find some news relevant to my industry or if I’m recruiting for a position where LinkedIn would be a useful tool.

    5. violet04*

      Not active at all. My profile has the most basic of information and I don’t have a profile pic. I log in every now and then to accept requests to connect, but that’s it. If I needed to search for a job, I would update my profile.

      1. Product Person*

        If I needed to search for a job, I would update my profile.

        See, that to me is a mistake. I keep my profile up-to-date in LinkedIn, and from time will post a link to a relevant article or paper in my field, or comment on a thread. Peers often like and comment on my posts because they are relevant and not clickbait.

        In return, every other week I receive a great intro from a recruiter in my specific area (data analytics), asking whether I’d be interested in a new job (that happens even when I’m flagged as currently not looking).

        Now that my job is no longer as attractive to me due to the pandemic, and it’s time to look for a new job, I didn’t have to do anything — just turn on the setting “open to new opportunities” and wait for recruiters to get in touch. There were several reaching out recently, all looking to fill roles that would be a good fit even though some had a much lower pay or something else undersirable that made me pass. I’ve already had two screening calls last month, one turned out to be for a job I don’t want, the other resulted in a 2.5 hour interview next.

        If you wait to update your profile only when you need recruiters to notice you, it may be too late! LinkedIn’s algorithm definitely prioritizes people who are active in the platform (I know that because I have friends with the same experience I have who never get contacted for the same interesting jobs I do — I end up forwarding the opportunities myself.)

        It’s so much easier to find a new job when recruiters contact you instead of you sending your resume that may land in a pile so big nobody will look at it! Unless it’s uncommon for recruiters to use LinkedIn in your field / country, I strongly recommend everyone to be active there BEFORE you need it for a job search.

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I use it as a place to show off my CV and that’s all. I might congratulate former colleagues who’ve left nightmare employer, or like articles on occasion, but nothing more than that. It didn’t stop me finding my favourite client there last year.

    7. Anonosaurus*

      LinkedIn can be a real source of stress – and endless scroll of other people’s work achievements while you are sitting there in your pajamas at 3pm. Maybe it’s just me. I say use it sparingly for your own purposes. In my industry (professional services) it’s something one has to be part of, but I don’t think that employers monitor engagement particularly. Share the occasional weighty post by Michelle Obama and update it with personal content (e.g. blog posts of your own) and let the rest of it wash over you, is my advice.

    8. Rhymetime*

      LinkedIn can be used for multiple purposes. I’m quite active on it, posting frequent updates about the work of my nonprofit, and a number of our group’s partners and donors are connections. They like seeing what we’re up to and this leads to additional conversations. I also am learning what my peer organizations and their staff are up to, which is really helpful to know for my nonprofit.

      I don’t use it to find jobs, but multiple recruiters have found me and they are also connections now. I don’t think it was being active that made that happen. What’s made a difference in being noticed are two things–having a very detailed profile that’s basically a condensed resume, and having connections that are widely respected in their fields. That’s what’s gotten me noticed.

      One thing that helped enormously was turning off what was an annoying feature–getting an update any time one of my connections had a new connection. Likewise, it’s important to turn off sharing that info for your OWN profile, so my work colleagues don’t see that I just connected with a recruiter.

      1. Product Person*

        Rhymetime, I don’t think you are right here:

        What’s made a difference in being noticed are two things–having a very detailed profile that’s basically a condensed resume, and having connections that are widely respected in their fields. That’s what’s gotten me noticed.

        You may not realize it, but it’s the fact that you are very active that’s helping you the most, not your connections. How do I know that? 1) I have friends who work at LinkedIn, and they like to “reward” activity with bringing you up to the top of search results (naturally, since more activity means their platform is more valuable). 2) I have peers with the same connections and experience I do, but unlike me they rarely log in to LinkedIn. Every time I ask them if they heard from a recruiter who contacted me with an attractive job posting, they say they didn’t. I’m simply showing up closer to the top of search results despite having the same connections they have.

        1. Product Person*

          * My profile is even less detailed than the friends’ with same connections and same experience who do not get contacted by recruiters like I do.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I just keep it updated with my current info.

      I find that folks who are generating content have something to sell-theyre promoting a business (especially consulting or professional services), a book, trying to get speaking gigs or freelance work, that kind of thing.

      I don’t see any reason why people with regular jobs would need to do that.

    10. New to Post*

      I feel like LinkedIn is only valuable for sales people and most of the information I find on it does not apply to me or my employment situation in warehousing. If you’re in sales there seems to be more relevant articles and things people share.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        All of the notes!

        I’ve been in my present job for nearly nine years. I still have the legal pad I used to take notes during my first few weeks. And I still refer to them occasionally.

        Taking notes, asking good questions (by that I mean questions that build on previous answers) and being willing to buckle down and work will go a long way.

        Congratulations, and best of luck to you!

    1. topscallop*

      Congrats! Here are my tips:
      – Take notes of the questions that come up for you throughout the day and share them with your manager at the end of your week.
      – Ask your supervisor about setting up routine check-ins, maybe weekly as you get your bearings and then less frequently later on
      – Have a (very short) blurb prepared about yourself/your background in case you’re asked to introduce yourself in meetings and say a few words

      1. Syfygeek*


        As your jotting down questions, make notes of who you’re meeting and what they do. When I did this on my first day, I made a note of the name and location of a person who was the guru of a program I hadn’t even heard of yet. But when I started using the program, I knew who to contact.

        And go on and make a list of questions you’ve thought of already.

    2. OyHiOh*

      Right there with you, Hazelnut, start next Monday! Here for first day tips too.

      Just got my onboard paperwork emailed so I’ll have that knocked out before I show up. I’m excited right now and a lot to do in the next week. It’s surprising how many loose ends an unemployed person can have, that need to be wrapped up!

    3. Esmeralda*


      In additon to the good advice already posted: be nice to everybody, assume everybody is a good worker, assume everybody wants to be helpful to you. Great advice I got many years ago was that some people will see new hires as fresh meat to be pulled into their faction. Any one who tells you dirt or is negative about coworkers, watch out, because you can get into real trouble aligning yourself before you know anything about the office culture and office politics.

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      In France it’s customary for the newbie to bring in croissants (I suppose that’d be doughnuts in the US?).

      1. Artemesia*

        This is fraught in the US and doubly so if you are a woman — the last thing you want to be labeled in the US is the one who brings cookies or the ‘candy jar’ lady. Women have a hard enough time being viewed as professionals without right off the bad assuming a Mommy role. If it were a cultural norm e.g. the croissants — it is one thing and I’ll take your word for it there. But here it is girl stuff and will not help your reputation at all. A year in bringing them for a meeting you are running, maybe. And of course it depends on the office norms.

      2. Old Admin*

        God, no.
        I’m working in Germany. Our Scrum master/wannabe psychologist requested I bring in baked goods to “improve my rapport with the the team”, so I carted in homemade apple pie. The team loved it, and I was immediately typecast as the good baker with no trechnical skills (not true). It took me years to get out of that.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Find any IDs you need for HR *TONIGHT* so you’re not scrambling for it tomorrow.
      And more importantly? Put them into the place they belong as soon as you get home the first night.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      If you’re cheerful, a good listener, and prepared to take notes, you’ll be fine. Being ready to take notes gives a first impression, even if it turns out that you don’t need to.

  11. Stuck At Intermission*

    Resume question here! I’m currently furloughed and while my company has plans to bring me back, I work in the production side of a theatre, so I won’t be back until we’re producing plays again, which won’t be for awhile.

    In the meantime, I’m on unemployment but would like something at least part time (preferably from home bc of covid concerns). I have a lot of basic administrative skills, and I’m a fast learner. Problem is, my resume is pretty exclusively this kind of production theater work which doesn’t translate to jobs outside of that realm (it’s mostly very specific technical skills). I had a brief stint as an administrative assistant (very brief, it was like 3-4 months filling in as temporary help) 5 years ago and little bit of social media managing, but other than that, the 10+ years I’ve been in the workforce has been exclusively doing this theater job, both freelance and with my company. Apart from putting more emphasis on the abstract nature of my job (creative problem solving, collaborative work, supervising interns, troubleshooting, etc) how do I apply for more “normal” jobs when my resume looks like it’s tailored for one specific job/industry because of my work history?

    1. Office Plant*

      Have multiple versions of your resume. I’d create one that emphasizes any administrative skills/customer service type skills your job has. If your technical skills include a working knowledge of various office programs, mention that (especially if a job listing mentions it).

      Good luck! I worked in a similar industry and know so many folks in the same boat.

    2. RC Rascal*

      The office manager at my chiropractors office had a background in theater production. She says it her job uses similar skills as the theater work.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      I wonder if the temp agencies are still working in this situation and if they’d be a solution? They could assess your skills and identify types of gigs you could do, then contact you with those as they come in.

    4. DEJ*

      I am working on moving out of a specialty field (sports) and a similar question came up in a forum that I was on. Do you have any sort of internet gathering space where you might be able to ask people who also do your job? Do you know anyone else who has left your profession you might be able to have look over your resume?

      I also thought this was a good tip that came from that same place: a good exercise is to explain your job without theater jargon. Try describing everything you did without referencing theater at all.

  12. Nicki Name*

    Performance reviews are coming up and I have to fill out something listing my accomplishments in various areas and how they align with company values.

    I am terrible at this. My team works really well as a team, so it’s hard for me to come up with individual accomplishments because we’ve all been working together on group projects. I’m also bad at coming up with things I’ve done that I think are big enough deals to be worth calling out. Any tips?

    1. JanetM*

      I would suggest — write down everything! Just brainstorm / mind map. If it’s group / team work, talk about your part in the project. You can always filter it later.

      I would also suggest — for next year, start a list now and keep it up-to-date. That’s what I’ve done for the last several years. Again, list *everything* as it happens; you can filter it later.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Check back through your emails! I keep a designated Kudos folder just for this. Every time someone sends me a “you did great work on this project” or “thanks for being so level-headed during that stressful event”, it goes in the folder.

      What did you create? While your team may have handled the project together, were you particularly involved in any particular component? Taking minutes, advertising, maintaining the shared folder, proofreading, emailing stakeholders, setting up meetings?

      Additionally, I would list all of those team projects. “Worked with Stuart, Sarfaraz, and Sandrine to publish new teapot design ahead of schedule”. That still matters in how you’re assessed, even if you don’t necessarily have individual accomplishments to point to.

    3. Esmeralda*

      Your contributions to group projects ARE accomplishments. List out what your team has accomplished, and think about your part in that.

      These do not need to be big accomplishments to be worthy.

      For the future, keep an on-going list of things you are accomplishing, and don’t worry about it being a list of big deals — you can edit it later. You can do this once every week or so, or once a month — don’t stretch it out farther because you will forget.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In my opinion, collaborating with people on group projects is itself a skill. Coordinating any of the workflow for them, that crosses over to project management. Learning how to do this remotely (if you’re remote) is itself an accomplishment — see if you can bash out some metrics about how the group maintained or improved its performance while remote and that becomes an even better one.
      Good luck!

    5. Budgieman*

      One of my pet peeves!
      Maybe I do sell myself short, but what others see as my biggest accomplishments, I see as “doing my job”….and not worth putting down.

  13. Susan Windrunner*

    If you go to an interview at a food processing plant, do you have to wear steel toed shoes to the interview? This is something I’ve thought about when I used to want to break into that industry several years ago. I was wearing closed toed shoes, slacks, and no jewelry but I remember the interviewer saying something about needing to wear steel toed shoes for the job. I agreed that it made sense. What was weird was that they saw I had no experience in the industry, but then didn’t tell me to wear steel toed shoes anytime before the interview. Maybe I read too much into that, but I also want to know if I got dinged for it.

    1. Brand New Instructional Designer*

      It’s unlikely you’ll go into the heavy work area during a job interview. They probably wouldn’t expect you to buy specialized shoes for an interview, but would for the job.

      1. Susan Windrunner*

        Yeah that’s what I thought. There was a tour of the facility as a part of the interview and that’s where they said the comment about the shoes.

    2. Summersun*

      My last few jobs have required PPE. Any place that wants to give you a tour of a PPE area during an interview should provide you with toe caps and eye protection.

      That said, I’ve erred on the side of shorter/blockier heels with my interview suit, rather than pumps.

    3. Generic Name*

      I’d ask if you’d need to bring/wear PPE to your interview if you’re concerned, but typically places that have safety requirements will tell you about them ahead of time. Also, every factory I’ve been in (like 6?) has an aisle in the middle marked off with tape on the floor or a plastic chain where one can walk through without wearing PPE. If you already have steel toes and will be driving to the interview, it couldn’t hurt to have them in the car.

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

      Way back when, i worked at printing or manufacturing facilities. During interviews they provided eye/ear protection but never took me out onto the floor where i would need to wear steel toe shoes. There was always a marked and somewhat protected walkway for non-ppe people. I’m sure his comment was just information you would need if hired and not an expectation for the interview.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d ask when setting up the interview: “Is there a chance of there being a plant tour where I would need to have certain kind of shoes?” If they say yes, ask what the rules are. For example, our electronics manufacturing site requires closed shoes for visitors. Steel toes are only required for people operating certain equipment and/or going off the marked walkways.
      And of course heels & slippery soles become an issue if you’re going on a tour “off the carpet”.

    6. university minion*

      Wear closed heel/closed toe shoes was all that was expected when I interviewed & worked in that industry. I brought my own hairnet/earplugs out of habit, but if you don’t have these, don’t worry about it. I already had slip-resistant dress shoes, so I planned my outfit around them. They were not steel-toed. Slip-resistant > steel toe in my corner of food manufacturing. Wear slacks, not a skirt, just in case any part of the tour has you going up a ladder.
      My interviewers took me on a tour of the production floor and yes, I have on occasion been directed up a ladder to have a look at something – it’s as much of a test to make sure you’re not afraid of heights as anything.

    7. Nita*

      I failed an interview similarly, years ago. It was for a construction inspector job, but the interview itself was a regular interview – no inspections involved, not on a construction site, just talking to the hiring manager. I was still in college and wore what was supposed to be “standard” interview wear – skirt and top. And I got dinged for it – the interviewer actually said “you do know you’re supposed to wear jeans to the job site, right?” and even thought I said that of course that’s not a problem, I could tell from his face that he didn’t believe me. Honestly, I think it was just bias – he didn’t want to think I’m capable of the job, so he didn’t. But maybe showing up in the right PPE would have helped. Although… as far as I know, it’s still a no-no in many industries to show up to an interview in jeans, so this idea hadn’t even occurred to me.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Any factory I worked in did not expect protective wear for the interview. They compensated by only showing limited areas of the actual work building. And we did not spend a long time there.

      If you are not convinced, I am a big fan of throwing stuff in my car just in case, so I’d throw the steel toes into the car and I’d be ready for anything.

  14. Brand New Instructional Designer*

    I’m not quite finished with my masters in ID but I am at the point where I’m starting to get things set up for my job hunt. Wanted to spend some time today starting on my portfolio, but I need to make a decision I’ve been waffling on. Do I set it up on a URL that is firstnamelastname dot com or do I set it up under a business name? I already own URLs for both for various reasons.
    Ultimate goal is full time employment, but I am open to freelance work as well, and already have one completed project (contracted and done under my business name) and two more booked.
    Would it be weird to apply for full time work with a portfolio that is a business doing freelance stuff? Or would it be better to have a portfolio separate? Because of past business experience, I’ve always kept business off my name URL and if I’m contracting/booking freelance that worries me.
    But I also don’t want to build/maintain two web sites so similar.

    1. ampersand*

      I think separate. I would put a portfolio on firstname lastname—unless there was a good reason to use the other URL/site. I understand not wanting to maintain two websites though. Once you’re employed, can you combine the two in some way or have one redirect to the other as needed?

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This might be a “know your field” thing. The only reason I could see to have a separate portfolio for applications is if you wanted to curate your content more specifically as an applicant rather than for your business.

      How (un)common is it for instructional design to do freelance work on the side?

      1. Brand New Instructional Designer*

        Oh it’s totally a “know your field” thing. But I’m a newbie who doesn’t know the field well enough yet, hence my asking here. I know there are more than a few ID professionals here.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Put it on your name page, and create a page on the business website that does a redirect.

      Or, depending on what type of media it is, you could embed it/feed it to be seen on the business site, but hosted & updated on the personal page.

    4. Skeeder Jones*

      IDer here. This is tough to answer because I could actually advocate on both sides of the issue. So I think I’ll just throw out some of my thoughts on the matter.

      Are you planning on putting the freelancing on your resume? Is there information on the site that isn’t on the professional site that you want a prospective employer to know? For those freelance projects, does your contract require you to keep those proprietary? Is your ultimate goal to drum up enough business to make the freelancing your primary gig or is it just something you are doing to fill the gap as you get started and on the side to earn extra money.

      If you are putting the freelance on your resume, I would focus on developing your professional site and keep your portfolio there. However, if your goal is to be directly employed by a company as an ID, then you may not want them to think you are only half interested in their position and that you might leave if the freelancing takes off. If that is the case, then I would put the portfolio on the personal site and try to keep the professional site disconnected from your personal site.

      Generally, you’ll need to meet certain requirements of education and experience to pass through an automated application portal so you may need that freelance work to show you have experience in the field. For me, my employer did not care about my portfolio until after the first interview but that could vary. I think there are pros and cons to both sides and I wish I could give you a straight answer but hopefully some of these questions will help to send you in the right direction.

      1. Brand New Instructional Designer*

        Thank you! These are good things to think about. The three projects I’ve done/booked are all ones I specifically can use for my portfolio. I sought out projects that would not be proprietary and stipulated in the contract that I could use them for promoting my work.
        I appreciate your help!

  15. Mimmy*

    Struggles with applying knowledge

    This may be a random, strange question, hopefully it makes sense…

    TL;DR – How do I know if I really don’t have the aptitude to apply knowledge or if I just haven’t given myself a chance? If it’s really beyond my abilities, I may have to bite the bullet and pursue project-focused jobs (which I think I ultimately want to do anyway).

    I’ve always relished the idea of learning all I can about a particular topic or field and using that knowledge to answer questions or act as a resource in some way. However, it’s starting to hit me that, while I can soak up all that knowledge, I find it hard to APPLY that knowledge to individual situations.

    For example, years ago I provided I&R (information & referral) for a disability-specific nonprofit. That’s the type of job where you get 200 calls, you get 200 different situations. I really struggled with remembering all of the resource detail and applying to a caller’s situation. I was laid off after 10 months.

    Fast-forward 10+ years, I am now an instructor with a state-run disability program. My job is to teach a skill, not provide information, but I think it’s similar. Every student presents with different needs and I have to figure out how to meet that need. It is ten times harder in a remote environment because, instead of using the center’s computers, they are using their own computers, and some of them can barely get past turning the thing on!

    Looking ahead, I’m preparing to enter higher education disability services. My classes are building on the knowledge I already have and am learning new things. My fear is that I’ll run into the same problem: Not being able to apply what I know to all the different situations I will come across. My hope is that my classes will help me learn how to think through each situation.

    I’ve been asking myself if I just haven’t given myself a chance to excel at these information-giving jobs or if I should suck it up and focus more on projects and less on having to apply knowledge to 200 distinct situations. It could also be that these jobs haven’t been as supportive as they could be, especially my current job.


    1. anony*

      Two thoughts:
      1. Look into Johnson O’Connor aptitude testing and specifically read their materials on inductive and deductive reasoning. Probably the best resource I know to get a clear answer on this.

      2. Being able to apply knowledge to a specific situation is very different from being able to QUICKLY apply knowledge to a situation. In the situation you’re describing, can you figuring it out if you have a little more time, or are you just stuck? Because in any job like these, over time you build up situational knowledge from the different cases (“oh, this is just like that situation that came up three months ago, except for X, so the best approach is likely going to be Z or Q”), and it starts getting easier/faster, but not all jobs give you the chance to build up that baseline.

      Hope this helps.

    2. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      Consider also that you may not yourself need to apply knowledge to every situation. I’m a college advisor for undecided first year students. I do not need to know everything about every major at the university, nor do I need to know everything about possible careers that students might go into.
      I was a college teacher for many years as well. I did not expect to know everything about my subject (although I did know quite a lot).

      Can you refer to another resource? can you help your clients learn how to formulate questions, find resources, practice using/interacting with those resources, and then have them report back to you?
      Can you say, hmm, I don’t know but I’ll find out? or, I don’t know, but let’s see what resources are out there? or I’m not sure right now, give me a day/48 hours/week to think about it?

    3. Dan*

      There’s a wide gulf between “really good at it” and “sucks so bad you need to quit”.

      Never mind that in my line of work, there’s “the theory” and “the reality”, and the two don’t align all that well. The real work is in finding solutions that have some theoretical soundness that actually solve real problems. It’s not easy, and few people truly excel at it.

      I would think if you’re so bad at your job you’d need to quit, you’d figure it out by performance review-type conversations with your boss. If your bosses are asking you to do stuff that you just don’t think you’re capable of, and they’re knocking you for it, then that’s your obvious sign. If they tell you you’re doing fine, you may as well take them at their word unless you have reason to believe you shouldn’t.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      OMG. Mimmy, this is like a newbie doctor expecting to have the wisdom and insight like someone who has been a doc for 30 years. Ease up on my friend, Mimmy, okay?
      Just because we are in the environment does not mean everything clicks together for us instantly. Even after several years a person can be struggling to connect the dots. I call what you are talking about connecting the dots. This is what human service is, it’s a whirlwind.

      A lot of experienced doctors miss stuff for this very reason, it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to think of all angles and all solutions for everyone, all. day. long. For one thing we get tired. Then sometimes a bigger problem distracts us. Oh, and there is too much work to be done.

      I worked in a setting with just over 1oo folks with disabilities. It took me a year to learn all the names. It took another year to begin to get an idea of who could do what. Yeah, it was a long curve. The first six months flew by at an unbelievable clip, I have never seen anything like it. It wasn’t until the second year that I started gaining any ground at all.

      Things that helped:
      I made a list each night before I went home of what I wanted to do tomorrow. I had a specific list with names and notes. I spent about 15 minutes at the end of the day making this list. Remember keep the list short so you actually DO it. The effect is cumulative, I kept making the lists and as the months rolled by I grew into the job. After some years, I no longer needed to make lists. I switched to specific things that I wanted to remember to check on, not much different than notes to myself at home: Does the cat need a rabies shot? Where did I put last year’s tax form? Get bread for elderly family member. But it was a few years before I reached this point.

      I learned which cohorts were reliable and I could ask them for advice. It’s one problem when we don’t know, it’s a much larger problem when we don’t know who to ask. This could also be source material, websites and so on.

      If you miss something important, go back in on it. This reinforces the learning curve for yourself but it also is a good work habit to keep forever. I noticed Doug’s teeth wiggled when he spoke. It took me a couple days but I finally remember to mention it to someone who could do something for Doug. (Sadly, I was the only one who reported it. I tried my best for each person and sometimes I failed them. Or did I not fail Doug? No one else reported it at all.)

      Accept the fact that the needs out there are HUGE. If we actually understood the level of need we would all end up paralyzed in place because we would be that overwhelmed. Make it a habit to ask yourself if you did your best today. Some days are better than others, so be fair in your answer. Your answer should fluctuate if you are being fair.

      You are absolutely right about the variations in each individual’s settings. Some folks are surrounded by a rich family and nothing is spared. Some folks are dirt poor and have nothing to work with at all. Like you show here some folks can’t turn the computer on and other folks are doing amazing things with their computers. Some people have multiple disabilities and some people just have one but it consumes their life. There are just so. many. variables. Just accept this. Don’t let it overwhelm you, because it can be overwhelming. If you have to keep little note cards or use a note book with pages for each person then go that route. Trying to carry all this around in our brains is too much- remember my example with the experienced doctor? They have files because they can’t remember or connect all the dots either. Make cheat sheets.

      And yes, our systems are Not Good. There are not enough people to help, there is not enough money, and sadly we have entire sections of our society who would prefer to ignore the needs of those less fortunate. I am looking at sections of government when I say this. Sadly, we have more help now than ever, which kind of makes a person think about how bad the level of need is. If you want to develop a skill, develop the skill of taking nothing to work with and whipping it up into something to work with. It’s a good life skill to cultivate anyway so it’s not a waste of time. I keep challenging myself on this one, even now.

      One thing that worked for me in my favor is that my job changed in big ways over a decade. I mean the differences were day and night. The changes did not come all at once and it took a decade to see all the changes happen. The job was almost cushy at the end compared to what the job was when I started.

      In short, Mimmy, you sound like you are having a normal experience in this arena. Hopefully at some point you can find someone physically near you who will also verify for you. Meanwhile, if you have a half way decent boss rely on them to give you an idea of how you should be doing.

      1. Mimmy*

        NSNR, I’ve always loved your posts. Thank you so much for your perspective and the reminder to cut myself some slack!!

        Come to think of it, one of my professors said last week that it can take a couple of years to truly learn the job. Also, the professional association for the field I want to enter appears to be a rich source of information and advice.

    5. juneybug*

      Few suggestions –
      1. A desk manual or cheat-sheet with resources could be helpful. For example, you have a client that needs assistance with housing. So you would look at Housing Resources located in a folder/word document/spreadsheet/OneNote/etc. and have links, info, etc., that could help the client.
      2. Could your clients complete a pre-questionnaire of what their needs are? If not, could their caretaker complete the form? Or trusty family or friend?
      3. Are you taking notes to ensure you remember things? I imagine each client has notes where you could list resources that have been provided and if needed, refer to the notes for other clients.

  16. Stik Tech Drone*

    Since I am home today and I haven’t looked in awhile I went on Crackle and saw the trailer for Corporate Animals.

    I am going to wait for my husband to get home, before I watch it. Has anyone else seen it? Is it as funny and workplace cringy as it looks?

  17. Fish*

    I still keep thinking every few days about that poor person who didn’t get their chocolate egg from their company and was worried about letting their manager know. I really hope they got a replacement.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Thanks for reminding me of the existence of chocolate eggs when I’ve already exceeded expectations on chocolate consumption for the day!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Drat you, now I am remembering the stash of chocolate chips in my bureau. (I have two people in my house who cannot resist chocolate, and I like to be able to make cookies without taking a special store run!)

    3. Skeeder Jones*

      I keep thinking about the manager who wouldn’t give their employee 2 hours off to go to their graduation. I DGAF about the manager but I keep thinking about the employee and I hope she is thriving!

  18. collegewriter*

    How do I know how much to charge as a freelancer? I’m a second-year college student who was approached to do a project writing web copy and improving SEO for a small business. I have three years of work and internship experience in the field.

    I was meeting with the client and she asked me how/how much I charge, and I kind of froze. We discussed it and came up with a flat fee that I’m happy with, but I’d like to do more freelancing in the future and going forward I want to have a number ready to go. Do people typically charge by the hour or a flat fee for the project? And how much? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts. Thank you!!

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

      When you use a flat fee be sure to put in writing the exact scope of the work…how many revisions are paid for under the flat fee (3 is a general good number), how much for any additional revisions, deadlines yours AND theirs too, payment schedule…is it all in one lump at the end or installments as the work progresses? If this project gets delayed on their end, you could end up waiting to get paid or if they cancel the project, not at all unless that’s agreed to in the scope of work. So that needs to be covered. For example cancelled projects prior to 1st proof = 15% fee, after first proof 50%, after 3rd revision…full fee; they don’thave to use it but they gotta pay for it. There are probably professional orgs in your discipline you could check for what typical jobs pay.

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      To answer your question about what to charge directly, here’s an excerpt from Alison’s 2012 answer here about that (which might be different now, I don’t know) ( “[the] typical practice for consulting is to charge a minimum of twice your hourly rate. That’s because if you’re being paid as a 1099 worker, you’ll be responsible for your own payroll tax, won’t have the cost of benefits factored into your pay, etc. And yes, you should absolutely nail down exactly what work you’d be doing and not leave it open-ended.”

      Freelancing as a topic has been discussed extensively over the years on AAM. You can go to this link ( and this one ( for more posts on the topic.

      You might also want to look at reader comments from 2018 about being a contractor here ( and here ( Good luck!

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      This is the kind of question where you’re probably best off looking at forums or blogs specific to your industry, because copy-writing is vastly different to translation, for example. I think it’s more likely you give a flat rate, but only after you’ve estimated how much time it’ll take you, then you multiply your hourly rate by the time you have estimated.
      (I’m a translator and we charge by the word rather than giving lump sums, although I’ve noticed that some clients like the lump sum. I work it out as explained above, then I round it up to make a nice easy figure)

    4. Gamer Girl*

      Also, if you are stuck in the moment, don’t be afraid to say, “I’ll email you an estimate” or similar–I panic-mathed at first with new clients, as I felt I had to give an answer on the spot. Now, it’s my go-to when setting up new contracts! Also, be sure that you talk through revisions, as others have stated. You might estimate four hours of work but then have someone wanting revisions upon revisions…please do yourself the favor of talking through those beforehand!

      For your first couple of projects, don’t be afraid to do hourly or by the word fees rather than project-based fees, as you are still finding your feet. For translation and editing, I do a per-word fee, but for writing, I have an hourly fee for most work–the tasks vary so much it would be difficult to come up with an accurate project rate for the writing work I do.

  19. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    I’m a teacher and school started remotely last week – and it went well! I did a lot of professional development focused on remote teaching over the summer and I can see that it has truly made a difference in my virtual-classroom management and keeping students engaged. So that feels good.

    But there’s a lot of pressure for school to open in person and I’m worried (maybe unnecessarily) that I’m going to be asked to work around lots of people before I feel really comfortable doing so. I’m not in any high risk category but it still makes me nervous to think of several hundred people on a campus together even with all the new safety precautions.

    1. Black horse*

      I’m not a teacher, but I am a parent, and can I just say: thank you so much for all your hard work!! My kids have been back in school 100% remote (two in high school, one in middle) for a few weeks now, and it’s going well, all things considered. It’s obvious how hard their teachers have worked to convert their teaching to the zoom world, and how hard they continue to work to engage the kids and keep things moving forward. None of their teachers signed up for this crap, but the districts came up with reasonable plans, everyone has stepped up, and it’s been way better than we expected. We truly appreciate it!!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Back at you! I know that parents are used to sending their kid off to school and having other people handle everything they need for 7 or 8 hours a day – and suddenly you’re troubleshooting tech issues, providing snacks and lunch, helping keep kids on task when they’re working asynchronously, and so much more. Not to mention putting up with Zoom PE classes or recorder lessons or whatever in the next room while parents are trying to have their own remote meetings! I teach elementary school, and I’m working hard to try to keep parents from needing to be involved during their workdays, but it doesn’t always work. (I had a 7-year-old kid show up 25 minutes late to class the other day due to wifi issues, and she immediately burst into tears when she did get in. I know a parent was scrambling like mad off-screen for that 25 minutes, and even though I calmed the kid down a fair bit by talking to her, I’m sure there had to be some in-person hugs too.)

        So, thank you for the many ways you’re supporting your kids’ education that you didn’t think you’d be called upon to do.

  20. Parenthetically*

    How are you deciding how to use your PTO in this strange time?

    Our 5th anniversary is this year. We were going to go to the Smokies. That obviously isn’t happening. My husband has taken one sick day, two unpaid FMLA days, and one personal day this YEAR and we are all feeling the relentlessness of it. How do you balance “humans need breaks” with “we can’t really go anywhere or do anything we would normally do, and staying in our house for a few extra days doesn’t really seem like a vacation”?

    1. Drtheliz*

      Can you go for long walks near you? If not, is there a hobby project you’ve been itching to sink your teeth into? Giving yourselves a week to do Fun Things No Chores can be a little vacation all its own.

    2. BRR*

      Taking a a few days off after two months of wfh was honestly some of the best pto I’ve ever taken. I don’t really have alternatives to suggest but I think it’s still beneficial to take days off and not do any work or chores.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I mean a huge issue is the fact that we have two little kids and so three or four days with no chores means we would be 100% living in squalor.

    3. Nacho*

      I’ve got a hundred and seventy hours of PTO, and I can only roll over a hundred and eight of them at years end. I’ve just been using them to take random three day weekends, and’ll probably keep doing that for the next three months.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I took the vacations I lost during rona as half days and mostly used them to work on projects, some necessary and some fun.

      Solidarity though – Our third wedding anniversary is tomorrow (three years ago today we were flying out of Florida, four hours ahead of a hurricane, for Las Vegas) and this is the first time in four years we haven’t traveled somewhere for it. (We took a “-1st” anniversary trip the year before our wedding :) )

    5. Caaan Do!*

      Back in normal times, we’d usually go away for our anniversary too, a long weekend in a new city type of getaway. As we’re not able to do that this year we’ve decided that we’ll pick a place either or both of us have always wanted to visit and try to do things at home as if we were there.

      My husband has always wanted to go to Copenhagen, so I’ll try my hand at cooking some Danish cuisine and we’ll look at finding some virtual site-seeing tours online. It obviously won’t be the same but I feel like it’s still trying to do something a bit different and anniversaryish, and we can go and see the real thing when this is over :) Maybe something like that would be fun to try for you?

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

      Are you in a place where you could go for a nice scenic drive, and pack a picnic if you don’t want to chance outdoor seating in restaurants or they don’t have take away service? Take a whole day to drive to the mountains/beach/country and back home.

    7. Nicki Name*

      I’ve been taking a day or two here and there to break things up in the stretches between holidays. I’ve found online events that I can go to in some cases. Another thing that helps to pretend I’m traveling is to go pick up dinner from somewhere.

      I’m also spending a lot of time planning imaginary vacations I could take with all my stored-up PTO once travel is a possibility again. (Some of them are outside my realistic budget, but with imaginary vacations, money is no object!)

    8. Dan*

      Can I ask why the Smokies “obviously isn’t happening”? I live 8 hours from there by car. Given that the smokies have plenty of cabins with full kitchens and outdoor grills, I would think that to be an acceptable thing to do during Covid. In fact, if I had a true burning desire to get out of town, I’d give that some serious thought.

      But the funny thing is… most years, my vacations consistent primarily of leaving the country for weeks at a time, and spending very little time around the house doing some R&R. Covid has nixed a few of those trips this year, but I’ve found that R&R and non-work projects are more fun than I expected.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If going to the Rockies meant hiking or other outdoors activities, you could get a house or cabin rental in a woods or lake area within driving distance. If you mostly make food at the rental or do takeout, there’s no reason you couldn’t safely enjoy hiking, swimming, fishing, bird watching, etc on a getaway.

      If your idea of vacation is primarily museums and nightclubs, that obviously wouldn’t work.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I realized in late July that I’d used almost no vacation time — the three furlough weeks were unpaid, not vacation time. So as soon as the school calendar was released, I went through and put in for vacation days for every day & halfday that didn’t overlap a corporate holiday. Then I gave myself time at the holiday & end of summer — and I’ll be putting the rest in as occasional weekdays when there won’t be a lot of people in the grocery store.

    11. I live near the Smokies*

      If you’re just looking to get away, come on. Find a cabin and have food delivered or cook. But don’t expect to get out unless you want to be surrounded by people. Last week, we went for a drive thinking that we’d find a quiet spot for a walk. No such thing. People everywhere.

    12. parthenon*

      I’ve taken some time off just to sit around the house, and it’s been well worth it. My husband and I took a random Wednesday off together to go eat lunch at a restaurant with a patio service, partly just to split up the workweek and partly to ensure that we would be at the restaurant at a quiet hour. That was also nice. :)

  21. Coasting*

    I wasn’t going to comment but then I was just informed by management that our scheduled break has been pushed back two hours so “they can feed us.” HR is notorious for being unprepared when it comes to feeding the team (a couple hundred people) and the food is skimpy and cold. I’ve decided to take my normally scheduled break because that’s when I eat. Period.

  22. Drtheliz*

    This morning was Not Fun (not a holiday in the EU). My boss got an email from Very Senior Colleague telling us that I’d f*ed up and published an older version of an article about his wife (a slightly less Senior Colleague in a different department). I’d got corrections from her and then just used the old file anyway.

    I could blame shifting back and forth from home office (and in my apology message I did) and not didn’t help, but truth be told I am just not very good at the kind of detail work needed to prevent this. I used one of Alison’s go-tos in the apology (“I am mortified that this slipped past me”) and it seemed to go down well, but I’m disheartened to have “used up” some of my quota of Embarrassing Mistakes so early in the job.

    1. WFH with Cat*

      Well, that was certainly a painful lesson … but turn it to your advantage by creating processes for yourself so that you don’t mess up similarly in the future.

      One idea is to always begin by duplicating any original file that you need to work from – and renaming your copy of that file with something obvious in file name. I generally use WORKING or ROUGH or something similar, and I do put that part of the file name in all caps so it’s easy to spot. I’m sure you can find other ways to set up checkpoints/safeguards that can help you avoid careless mistakes in the future.

      Btw, I’ve made the same mistake of sending the wrong file in an email. Yes, it’s embarrassing and not something you want to repeat. But it’s not the end of the world. You’ll be fine.

      1. WFH with Cat*

        Oh, just to be clear … I re-save my WORKING/ROUGH file with the correct name, of course, before submitting it for review/approval. And I am not shy about saving every submitted draft with a version number (v.1, v.2, REV1, REV2), status (REVIEW COPY or FINAL) or simply the date submitted. Your org already have an established file-naming system. If not, create one of your own and use it consistently on all of your projects.

        I find it’s best to keep copies of all files submitted/reviewed, and keep renaming as I go. It makes it much easier to go back, if necessary, see when/where changes happened, or to pretty quickly identify the most recent version of a projects that went dormant and has suddenly heated up again. Ask me how I know …. :)

    2. Drtheliz*

      This specific f*up is unlikely to reoccur – it was the first time I’d put together a [thing] and I refined the process over the course of it. It’s also easier when I have two big screens rather than one tiny one…

      I really struggle with sustained attention to detail, though, and I very much fear losing a good job over it. Boss doesn’t seem that cross – she just said “yeah, bad luck to get somebody who would notice.”

      1. PollyQ*

        Everyone makes mistakes, and you’re right about not wanting to get a bad reputaion while you’re still new, but OTOH, people are likely to cut you a little more slack while you’re still learning the job.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Reasonable people can forgive the occasional mistake. Repeat mistakes, especially if they happen frequently, are a problem. You’re still new and learning your job, so I expect that people are willing to cut you some slack, at least as long as you learn from your mistakes, which you seem to be doing.

        When I started my current job about 13 years ago, I struggled with the details too. Mainly because I was both nervous and excited to finally get a full-time job in my new career. I also kept making the same mistakes over and over, and honestly I was lucky to keep my job. I almost got fired during my probation, but I had a very specific skill that most other candidates didn’t have, and they’d already spent almost 6 months trying to hire someone with my skill set, so they kept me on in spite of my tough start. Once I settled down, my attention to detail really improved a lot. In fact, it swung a bit in the other direction. My internal clients wanted “good enough” but it took a long time for me to really get what that means, as I was shooting for “perfect”. Now I’m finally in a pretty good place, as my internal expectations and my employer’s expectations seem to match pretty well…

  23. Jasmine*

    Everyone: I just got a call asking me to interview for a library job! My very first library interview (as I’m mid-career change) . Aagh! (in a good way)

    1. Drtheliz*

      As the eccentric old lady at my synagogue used to tell everyone before exams “You don’t need luck. Good skill!” (Good luck as well!l

      1. PollyQ*

        My dad once shared an elevator with a pro football player who was in town for the upcoming playoff game. My dad wished him luck, and received a gruff, “We don’t need luck!” in return.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Great news. My two cents besides what Alison recommends here is to do a mock interview with a friend as the interviewer over the phone. That helped me enormously when I was applying for a job, and I’ve also done it for others who ended up getting the jobs they applied for.

  24. Katia*

    Hey everyone! I was looking for your colective wisdom. Im very unmotivated in my current job (working as a web dev) but I cant quit soon. How did you get the energy or motivation back?

    1. Working with professionals*

      I started challenging myself to learn new things about the work, and to teach about it.

    2. Carolina Cat Lady*

      There’s an NPR podcast Hidden Brain that has an episode called How to Find Meaning at Work: How We Shape and Think about Our Jobs that I found very helpful, and hope you will too

  25. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

    I’m looking for advice on how to cope now that the relationship with my boss has really soured. I am going to start job-hunting, but leaving isn’t an option just yet.

    My boss and I had an overall positive relationship until fairly recently. She’s the director of our division and I’m the lead for a smaller section of it. She’s always had significant boundary issues – think late night phone calls, oversharing of personal info, holding grudges – but I’ve managed to set that aside for the most part and we worked quite well together. However, the recently-hired lead for our other section is now VERY close friends with her, and it’s turned into what feels a lot like middle school drama, with me as the girl on the outside. (I don’t dislike the new lead, ftr). My boss has become extremely critical of me, is joining all of my meetings, and has had several conversations accusing me of various infractions which weren’t true (and I had documentation to prove it). We have had several staff leave recently, some to other internal positions – all of the staff are in the other lead’s section. She’s constantly meeting up in person with the other lead outside of work (think weekend brunch), something I won’t do because of covid and because I need work/life balance.

    I know she’s under tremendous pressure from the administration. I know the other lead has a personality and approach much more similar to her. I know there are things I can do better – I have a softer approach than she does, which she dislikes. But I’ve been here for over a decade (not unusual in my field), my reports both like and respect me, and I am a high achiever on our team. I’m so demoralized at this point.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Sorry that I do not have any insightful ideas to share with you – – but just wanted you to know that I understand the difficult position that you are in. I am sending positive energy your way that your job search is fruitful and results in a new job that is professionally fulfilling with a great boss and a nice boost in salary!

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      Please be very careful – there are so many red flags in your description of your boss’s behavior. She’s being really inappropriate. Keep careful records, email chains, etc so you can show what is true when the boss accuses you of errors you did not make.
      The boss already has boundary issues, so don’t underestimate the influence of her newly hired BFF.
      And please don’t give excuses for boss’s bad behavior. Boss being “under pressure” and “having a similar approach” as the BFF are not reasons for boss acting in ways you describe.

      Watch your back. And instead of being demoralized, get angry! Your boss is an ass. (And it’s to your credit that you’ve been able to “manage” boss’s bad behaviors thus far, but now she’s taken a turn for the worse.)

      Alison has many posts about how bosses and subordinates should and should not behave. It sounds like your boss fits into many of the “don’t do this” items.

      Good luck with your job hunt – in fact you might want to ramp it up.

      1. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

        I read this to my husband and he said, “I told you so”. So, he and I both thank you! It’s helpful to hear this from an outside source, especially that this is not ok behavior.
        I haven’t applied for a job in ages, but luckily have some friends willing to help me get started on updating my very old resume so I can ramp up the job search. And of course will be looking at all of Alison’s suggestions!

    3. None the Wiser*

      I’ve been in a similar situation. What is your longer-term goal? Move laterally within the organization? Move organizations? Change fields? Look somewhat down the road, figure out where you want to be, make your plan and track towards it. Keep your resume updated, not necessarily because you will need it, but because having it ready gives a sense of preparedness. Having a Plan B, even if you don’t utilize it, is comforting.

    4. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I rarely comment on this site anymore since changing jobs, but continue to read all the posts, and yours stood out to me.

      I was in a similar job situation, where the manager turned toxic. And, perhaps like you, I could not afford to just leave, without another position lined up. As the dynamics continued to deteriorate, I was extremely careful to watch every step I made. I had one confidante, but beyond that, I acted like everything was “just fine!” (Meanwhile, I was desperately job-searching, in what ended up being a three-year process).

      Additionally, I continued to turn in top-level work, even though I wasn’t being recognized for it.

      I, too, was the subject of spurious accusations, and – whatever those accusations were – I made sure to over-compensate with both communication and documentation the next time a similar situation arose. Basically, if they were looking for something to “pin” on me, they weren’t going to find it.

      My strategies “worked,” I guess you could say, in that I was able to ride out my time there until my new job finally came along. It was awful; I was miserable; but I did come out on the other side.

      All the best to you, and I hope your situation can change soon.

      1. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

        Thank you so much for this. One of the things I’m most worried about is riding this out, especially in this job market. I’m definitely taking the advice to communicate and document!

        1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

          Glad it was helpful.

          You mentioned in a reply to another commenter that you hadn’t applied to a job in ages – neither had I, and yes, it’s very useful to get some outside feedback.

          You also made a reference to this job market. That’s true, but there are still jobs being vacated as people move on, and positions are still being filled, especially for critical roles.

          Would be happy to continue the conversation here for a bit, if that would be helpful to you.

  26. Rexish*

    On friday I went to watch my best friend defend her thesis and to the evening celebration. . Her degree was done to the [location] Institute of technology and relating to stem cell research. It was very inspiring to see so many women in STEM at the celebration. The professors leading the research were women. The entire research group had one man and majority of that research department were women. I know it will take time to have gender equality in STEM but this made me feel like we are heading to the right direction.

    1. OyHiOh*

      A female friend is a retired professor in a STEM field that is notoriously white/male even for STEM. She recently mentioned sitting in on a meeting of her fields national org and listened to the primarily older white men arguing sincerely and seriously for increased diversity in their field. My friend was giddy as a school girl to hear these men embrace what she’s been arguing for, for decades.

      She also mentors young women in the field as well. Still does, post retirement.

    2. Generic Name*

      Woo boo! I work at an Environmental/ engineering consulting Firm, and the technical staff, managers, and principals/owners are predominantly women. It’s awesome.

  27. "Create a social media presence," they said*

    My college grad has been hired as a junior designer in a company that works in a field adjacent to his college experience. They’ve assigned him to create a FB page and an instagram account, and to update them on a schedule that’s set by someone else. He has no background in marketing, and very little experience with social media other than as a consumer.

    I think this is a bad idea but no one asked me. So if he wanted to look at some simple resources regarding marketing on social media (especially Big Pitfalls or Mistakes That Beginners Make), does anyone have some recommendations?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Hi, this is the OP.

      Another thing I’m quite concerned about is that the boss wants to post photos of their installed product, which is in businesses and private residences. His position is “go ahead and take/use photos so long as they don’t identify the location.” I think this is a very bad idea. I don’t know what’s in their client contracts or what kind of additional releases they would need, but my kid is playing lawyer and talking about getting the client to sign off, etc. I told him this is above his pay grade and that he should suggest that his boss talk to his lawyer before posting photos.

      I’m a bit concerned that the boss is going to tell him to just post the photos anyway and that this will come back to bite him in the butt. Is this a realistic concern? If so, how could my kid push back and/or protect himself from fallout?

      1. PollyQ*

        Holy shit, that’s a terrible idea! Customers are going to furious. I’m not sure it’ll specifically affect your kid though — I would think the company as a whole would bear the brunt. But I’m Not a Lawyer, so my opinion isn’t worth much.

      2. Reba*

        Maybe Offspring can do some research on photo releases for things like this, and present it as part of “upgrading/professionalizing the Company social media game.” It’s just good customer care.

        It should not be too difficult to incorporate a release into whatever paperwork they generate for clients.

        I think it’s really too bad that many workplaces seem to throw social media at new or young employees, on the assumption that… idk “digital native” something something.

      3. Generic Name*

        “Sure boss. Can I get access to your email and other personal info because OF COURSE you will be the owner of the company accounts”

      4. fhgwhgads*

        In my experience as a customer of these sorts of things, they get permission to use the photos before taking the photos at the installation site. It’s sort of insane not to. So if they have the photos already, there should’ve already been client sign-off. I’m not saying he should assume that’s the case, but if I had his job and were given the instruction, my expectation would be it’s part of the process, not something I need to remind my boss needs to happen.

  28. computer10*

    Does anyone not drink and have a workplace where after work drinks are a thing? I quit drinking not because I needed to drink every day or anything, but because once I had one…..well three days later me and my new friends at the Casino are getting arrested. Like I never need to drink, it’s just that one social drink sets off a spark of chaos. So I just never have that first drink anymore.

    Buuuuut in my country, in my industry, at my age drinking is a THING. I am currently between jobs due to Covid. In my last role I was invited to precisely one after work drinks. I enjoy socialising and didn’t see the issue in just having a coke. Ohhhhh but it was an issue that I didn’t drink. I was never invited to another after work event.

    How do people put up with this sort of thing? I am laid back about it, I make jokes, I don’t shame anyone who does drink (other people are just better at it than me) and I take the teasing in a good way. But it’s so annoying to go through the whole thing about not drinking.

    1. Reba*

      People just really suck about this, I’m sorry. Ugh. Not knowing your country and industry culture, I do think your last place sounds a bit extreme! I would hope that other groups would be more reasonable and accepting about it.

      You could try more disguise-y drinks, like a soda water with lime, which looks more plausibly like a cocktail than a Coke does.

      It’s also important not to try to explain the whole reasoning and Casino experience, because any attempt to explain will just be used to try to pry open your defenses. So a firm, but cheerful “I don’t drink” (maybe + health reasons?) + a subject change is your friend.

      1. computer10*

        I’m joking about getting arrested, just trying to explain that one drink for me often turns into a wild experience so I just don’t do it.

        Good idea to try to drink drinks that look more alcoholic. Here’s hoping the next workplace will be better but some people really do take the no drinking thing as some kind of personal insult.

        1. Reba*

          Yeah, I got that :) I’m just saying don’t say anything about how drinking affects you, just bluntly say you don’t.

    2. PollyQ*

      Well, that sucks, especially your former team that excluded you that way. It’s oddly common for drinkers to take someone’s choice not to drink as some kind of criticism, but it’s especially rude to use it as an excuse to shun a colleague.

      You mentioned age — in the US, it’s pretty common for employees in their 20s to go out for drinks after work, but around 30, many people are partnered up, or have kids, or their bodies don’t tolerate alcohol as well, and the habit dies out. So you may be able to just wait it out?

      1. computer10*

        Well that’s a good point that it dies out a bit. I’m in my 30’s and it seems to continue until 40’s. I don’t see many people in their 40’s regularly out drinking. Something to look forward to, thanks!

        1. Enough*

          A study a few years ago found that many people are still drinking in their 50’s like they did in their 20’s. I’m in my 60s and have found that many of the parents of my children’s friends can’t seem to get together without drinking even when it’s at a children’s function. And when my son graduated from high school the adults had a drinking game at one of the parties. My husband and I were glad we did not go. He never drunk and I did most of mine before we got married.

          1. computer10*

            I’ve definitely seen older people drink too much. But in terms of work my industry skews a bit younger and I think once you’re in your 40’s they don’t invite you to after work drinks I realise so yay something to look forward to.

            I have seen older people drink a lot at home or in their own circles. Ugh the whole issue frustrates me. I mean no judgement but not drinking, I’m just bad at it so I don’t do it.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I used to manage a team that consisted of some drinkers and some nondrinkers. We would go out every so often for drinks, and the nondrinkers would simply order tea or soft drinks. It was honestly never a big deal for any of us, who cares what’s in someone else’s glass?

      1. JanetM*

        In my limited experience, some people who drink alcohol expect that anyone who doesn’t is secretly judging them. I had a mild version of that experience some years ago; I tended to go out with coworkers for Beer Friday, and when I stopped drinking, several people got uncomfortable around me. After a couple of weeks, one finally flat-out asked, and when I said I couldn’t drink because of a new antidepressant, he looked very relieved.

    4. All the cats 4 me*

      My take on this is that you want to be included in the group, don’t want to drink alcohol and are not interested in discussing or debating your choice. I totally agree that it sucks to be pressured to drink and ostracized for choosing not to, but it may not be worth trying to change the group so if you don’t mind employing a bit of subterfuge, here are some ideas:

      My brother-in-law (who definitely IS an alcoholic, drinks a non-alcoholic beer (0.4% alcohol). One or two of those should not have enough alcohol to cause undesirable side effects, but look and smell like beer. If you like beer, that is.

      If you go to the same place regularly, maybe you can start ordering your ‘usual’, whether that is soda and lime, or whatever, so the issue isn’t spoken of?

      Depending upon the people in the group (and you will know this better than we can), it might be just a matter of going a few times for them to get used to the idea that you order what you want and still have a good time?

      Or: I often order water along side my drink and have been known to finish the water but not the drink… this could be stretched to not touching the drink at all if you don’t mind paying for an untouched drink.

      One last thought: depending upon the location, you could try excusing yourself for the washroom between ordering and receiving the drink, and take a detour to the bar or waiter and let them know that you are changing your order and want a virgin whatever you ordered or plain soda and asking the server not to make a big deal of it. Or, come to think of it, even heading straight to the washroom on entry (or remember a quick call you need to make before going into the bar) and telling everyone to go ahead and order and you will catch up with them, then stop at the bar to get your preferred beverage and chat with the server to make an arrangement to keep the non-alcohol status on the quiet. If you don’t mind tipping the server/bartender at that point, I am sure you would get enthusiastic co-operation!

      Good luck!

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      “Unfortunately I can’t drink for health reasons.”

      Anyone who questions you further after saying this is an idiot. Joking about it makes it seem less serious, so I would go the route of saying it’s for your health. Feel free to say “on doctor’s orders” too.

    6. Pear*

      I also work and live in a part of the US where drinking is a very big thing. Very big. I don’t drink and never have. (Big history of alcoholism in my family).

      What worked for me was: I approach the bartender and I have them make me a half ginger ale/half orange juice. Done right, it looks like a screwdriver (alcoholic drink). When I had someone who said, “Okay, what’s everyone drinking?” I say, “Oh, I have a specific way I like my drink made – I’ll order it separately.”

      I make really close friends with the waitstaff or the bartender. I say, “These are my co-workers, and I have to look the part. Any chance you can make me something that looks alcoholic but isn’t, at all?”

      Also: I have had a colleague who was a big martini fan (he’s a man, I’m a woman) who liked the way martinis are made for women (I guess less alcohol, I don’t know) and he would go up to the bar and order my “drink” and I would order his. And then, I would work the room – carrying what clearly is a martini (three olives in the glass, thank you!) and say hello to everyone. Do it slowly! Make sure everyone can see you with it. And then, after you make a round or two of the room, you come back to the table and switch. (This works only if the room is crowded and everyone is not sitting at the same table.)

      I have the…unique….experience of having multiple, multiple instances of being told “It’s just one drink, Pear, it won’t kill you” or “C’mon, you are missing all the fun!” or “Wine is GOOD for you, go on!” I also had a number of people really, really lit into me about the fact I wasn’t drinking. Now that I’m older, I usually shut that down with, “You seem really emotionally invested in me drinking. Why is that?” I actually had the response of “Well, if you don’t, you will remember everything I said and did and you’ll rat me out to the boss and I can’t have that.” Which is a VERY BIG LEAP. And I said something like, “Nope, what happens here stays with me, unless it’s not legal.”

      I aspire to be around people – in my work life and my personal life – who DO NOT express surprise that I am not drinking. Or ask if I’m pregnant or trying to get pregnant. (Yes, that has happened as well.)

      I clearly have unresolved issues with this, sorry.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Good advice. One sad thing is that for some people, 1 drink might literally kill them. I wish people didn’t pressure others to drink.

    7. Budgieman*

      I know someone who used to come up with stories along the lines of some friend/brother/sister/parent/whatever who almost died in a drunken car accident/beaten by alcoholic boyfriend/whatever. The stories were hilarious and became more elaborate every time. She did it mainly to amuse herself (and the few of us “in the know”) because “It isn’t their damn business…and if they think it is, then they are wrong”
      Personally, I’ve found that in recent years (and this may also be a factor from where I live) being either a non (or rare) drinker is not the stigma or talking point it used to be…but I recognise that’s not the case everywhere.
      That said…if you want to give a reason…either “I’m Driving” or “I’m on meds” should shut most people down.

  29. PollyQ*

    Meta Q: Is it ok to start a topic on a general work-related issue, even if it’s not something that’s affecting me? So I’m not looking for advice, just a discussion.

  30. nep*

    Looking to apply for a job on the application web page. There’s a link that says ‘upload resume,’ and while that opens the window as if it’s going to let me upload a document from computer, when I go to do so, I’m just sent back to the same page, and some of a name and address form is weirdly populated by random words from my resume.
    Am I missing something, or does this sometimes happen–do these functions malfunction?
    I have sent an email to the HR contact person (as provided in the original ad). No response and that was several days ago. Could try with her again, I suppose. Wonder whether anyone else has ever come across this.

    1. nep*

      (If you were the HR person, would you prefer I just send my letter and resume directly to your address, instead of asking about whether that application page is working?)

    2. Jellybean*

      I have come across this, it automatically fills in the application form with details from your resume/LinkedIn profile if you choose to login with that. I’ve always seen an option to skip uploading the resume at that point (they usually ask for the resume/cover letter towards the end of the application) and just fill in the form manually. I prefer doing that cause I think the programme generally does a bad job of pulling the relevant details from the resume.

      This doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, but yeah I do wish it was more accurate.

      1. nep*

        I’ll give that a shot.
        Odd thing was, it took something from way down in my resume and put it as my name. So yeah–I guess it’s not expecting what I’m trying to do.

    3. Office Plant*

      I’ve had that issue where text gets pulled out weird. I just edit it as needed and move on. I’m not sure if e-mailing HR is much help. I know many companies can’t take applications outside of their normal application process.

      1. nep*

        Right. Thanks. (Her email address was in the ad, so I just emailed her to ask whether there was a glitch…but perhaps that wasn’t the best move.)

    4. PollyQ*

      Bleagh. It’s probably their tech, but you could try shutting down any ad-blockers and similar extensions in your browser (if you have them), or using a different browser or platform, and trying again.

    5. LDF*

      As someone who works in web development, anything is possible when it comes to bugs. But make sure your adblocker is disabled and your javascript is enabled, clear your cookies, and see if that helps.

  31. New Senior Mgr*

    Just a shout out for this AAM site and the open work threads that provide valuable information for new and mature professionals alike.

    1. computer10*

      I don’t mean to be all ‘back in my day’ but it’s so much easier for young professional today. Aside from the whole economic issues and declining work rights.

      When I was starting work there wasn’t all these resources and I made so many basic mistakes and had no one to ask questions of.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      So very true! I’ve been in the work world for decades and continually appreciate this site for learning something new, getting feedback, or general comradery. I’ve also shared advice from her with others who have benefited. Thank you, Alison!

  32. NotMyBusiness*

    My boyfriend is very close with his old team of coworkers, and was recently added to a chatroom with them, which includes his old manager and two people they currently manage. There’s apparently some “inappropriate” content shared there. Not NSFW, but not completely professional either, including photos of the manager being obviously drunk.

    My boyfriend thinks it’s just funny, and that what his old manager is doing is not only completely fine, but great. He loved the camaraderie of his old team and says his old manager, and the two employees she manages who are in that chatroom, are very good at being professional when it matters. I think that it’s inevitable for those kind of out-of-office relationships to bleed into their in-office relationships, in terms of professionalism and also favoritism. This just seems like the kind of thing I’ve read about on this site that Alison heavily advises against. Am I being a professionalism prude, or am I justified for thinking this?

    For some extra context, they work at a very large tech company in the Bay Area, so the culture is a bit more lax.

    1. computer10*

      It’s hard to say. There are plenty of workplaces with lax cultures where it’s fine. But increasingly these things are getting pulled up on and exposed. If it were me I’d steer clear of that sort of stuff in our year 2020.

    2. LGC*

      I appreciate your username here!

      Honestly, if your boyfriend’s old manager manages more than two employees currently, that’s the biggest practical problem I see (because of favortism). That said…it’s one of those things you can think but you can’t really say – and in your boyfriend’s case, I’m not sure how much harm his old manager is doing to him.

      Basically, not his monkeys, not his circus for the most part. It’s not great, but if his manager wants to spam the groupchat with pictures of her absolutely shmacked, that’s her business. (Your boyfriend probably shouldn’t reciprocate, though!)

  33. nep*

    Spending my Labor Day doing some pro bono editing and continuing the job search.
    Good vibes to all the job-seekers out there.

    1. LDF*

      Good vibes back to you! I’m currently on an internal job hunt (I want to switch teams) and can’t quite decide if I’m too nervous or overconfident about my upcoming interview.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Same to you! I’m taking a break before updating my resume and cover letter to apply for a job that would be a good move to the next level in my career.

  34. Gilmore67*

    Anyone here work with a time keeping system that has a scheduler? (No names of companies please)

    I work with a time and attendance system that is so intricate and convoluted that it can take me up to 2 hours to go over the 100 workers that punch in and out.

    We use the scheduler and it doesn’t work well because the nature of the department doesn’t coincide with the “schedule” that was programmed into the system. They work early, work late and come in on extra days and so on. All managers approved. I just have to mark it OK.

    Right now, there are some schedule changes and I do not want to sit there and input new days and new hours if I can do something easier and less labor intensive. For new staff I have not put in the schedule and it still exceptions out for not having a schedule to go by. I find the whole scheduler program to be more trouble than its worth.
    I have a attendance system I developed is HR approved and we use that.

    Our system is changing a little in about a month so I don’t want to go too crazy with it. I think scheduler will be optional. And I think it is even optional now. I am new to this dept. so I am only going by what I was taught. I think the person before me either didn’t ask enough questions about it or enjoyed doing that much work to it.

    I understand why a company/department might want to use it. So I am not asking about the reasoning. I understand my job as the timekeeper as I do another group of people as well with different version no scheduler and it doesn’t take me even a quarter of the time to make sure everyone’s time good and ready for payroll.

    I am asking only, who has used it a scheduler system and how have you navigated through it.

    Can I somehow eliminate the systems need to want a schedule for each staff member? If I can do that I can go on from there.

    Thanks all….

    1. Office Plant*

      I think it really depends on the system being used- without naming names it’s hard to provide additional advice/troubleshooting steps. Are there other people in your company that also do scheduling? They may be able to help.

      1. Gilmore67*

        From what my buddy in payroll told me I am the only one that has actually questioned a lot of this and is digging into the issues with this silly program. She told me not very many timekeepers are as conscience as I am take get it all right.

        I don’t know anyone else that does payroll there. At my other site another gal and I bounce stuff about payroll at each other all the time. But again that is a different version of the same company.

        She is new too and doesn’t have it all down pat. She told me they do adjustments all the time because the system, not just the scheduling part is just messed up.

        Thanks for commenting…. :)

    2. Dan*

      I can’t speak to the scheduler aspect, but I can speak to idiotic time and attendance tracking. I had a job awhile back where the company switched from manual time cards to an electronic system. This was bar code driven, and there were like three bar codes on the sign-in computer, and each employee carried a laminated, personally identifying code on their person. Signing in at the beginning of the shift and signing out at the end of the shift each required *five* bar code scans. It was nuts.

      Apparently the system was primarily put in so the mechanics had a better/more accurate way of logging they spent on individual jobs. I never found out how well the system worked for them. But for my department, we all essentially billed to overhead, so there was no job tracking. For us, it wasn’t obvious why we needed *five* scans. Plus, the UI absolutely sucked. If you missed a scan or did something in the wrong order, there was no real way to reset the process or understand what we screwed up. Additionally, there was no clear signal that we successfully scanned in/out.

      My department was notorious for incomplete timekeeping. HR would put up notices from time to time that pretty much said, “hey morons, learn to sign in/out properly. How hard can it be?” Finally, after like three or four of those, I pulled the HR person aside and showed her why our compliance rate was so bad. After that conversation, she looked at me and said “oh… this system really sucks for you guys, doesn’t it?” Yup.

      1. Gilmore67*

        Yeah totally get it.

        Some of these computerized system for tracking stuff totally don’t work as planned. They make things more difficult.

        I am sure that is what this system I am working with is ” supposed ” to do, track punch in and attendance and all that.

        There are dozens of reports to run with for many ” and’s if’s , but’s ” when I can just as easy and quicker look at who called in, put it on a spreadsheet and count the number of times they called in.

        We need to go back to basics here… some computer is fine… but sheesh… this program’s is about to drive me to drink !!

  35. Jellybean*

    What is the etiquette around salutations in emails sent to higher-ups? Recently had an email exchange with a very senior HR person (I just got a job offer from them so I’m not aware of the company culture) where they started their emails with “Hi Jellybean” and signed off with “Regards, FirstName” but I felt really awkward doing that as an early-career job applicant, so I kept saying “Dear Ms. LastName”. I am probably overthinking this but I’d love to know how to handle it if it comes up again.

    1. Ron McDon*

      I think if someone signs off an email to you with their first name, they’re indicating it’s fine for you to address them with their first name.

      In most employment situations, it’s not considered rude to call people older/more senior than you by their first name instead of ms/mr whoever – wanting to use ms/mr is a holdover from school, I think.

      There are always exceptions to every rule, of course! But ime colleagues would tell me if someone was funny about being addressed differently.

      1. Dan*

        “wanting to use ms/mr is a holdover from school, I think”

        Yup… we had some interns last summer, and one of them *insisted* on referring to the PhDs as “doctor” while the office norm is “first name only.” We were at a department meeting, and the intern referred to his supervisor, Dr. X. Well, the rest of us spent the afternoon addressing Dr. X. and snickering while we said “doctor”. It was all in good fun.

    2. Nacho*

      Take your cues from whoever you’re emailing. I always start with “Hi X” and end with “thanks” or “best” in my emails, no matter who I’m talking to.

      1. Nessun*

        I second this approach. I take my cue from the email I receive; if they say “sincerely, Rob” then the reply will say “hi Rob” instead of Mr. Jones or Robert. They take the lead, and I follow.

        I almost never email someone I haven’t talked to first, or been forwarded to by someone, so I do tend to start with “Hi FirstName” because then I take my cue from my boss, and that’s what he does. As his representative I follow his lead.

    3. Dan*

      Government tends to use Mr/Ms/Dr quite a bit, but outside of that, “everybody on a first name basis, regardless of rank or tenure” is generally the norm.

    4. PollyQ*

      As an employee, everywhere I’ve worked (in the US), everyone’s been on a first-name basis, whether they’ve been introduced or not. It’s been a while since I’ve job-hunted, but I don’t remember doing any different during the application process.

  36. Anon municipal employee*

    An update on this post: That was where I’m a union employee looking at promotion to a management position.

    Quick summary: I had a discussion with our superintendent on Friday and he is going to move forward with my promotion, it could be finalized in about 2 weeks, but will probably be 3-4. We agreed on a salary and it will be about a 13% jump in base pay, but I’ll not be earning any overtime. But, I won’t be doing the weekend work that was earning me the overtime. So it’s a tradeoff that I’m willing to make. All my benefits will stay the same, except my sick leave earning will double.

    There are parts of my current job that I’ll miss. But there are new challenges ahead! And it will boost my retirement checks.

    As a bonus, he agreed that creating a new union position of Senior Llama Conformance Inspector is a good idea, so one of my challenges will be moving forward with that.

  37. Less Bread More Taxes*

    I’m so jealous that you get to do remote teaching! Congrats on it going so well. I’m a teacher at a university and we headed back for in-person classes today (not US). I only teach part time and have been working from home anytime I’m not in front of students, mostly because I take an hour of packed public transport to get to work. I’m very worried about going back and the end of this week.

    It’s already been crazy! We got an email last night with the list of students who wouldn’t be coming to the first week because they’re awaiting test results. There are only ten minutes between two of my classes and I’m supposed to have aired out the room sufficiently and wiped down all the desks and chairs in that period. And that plus the chalk, erasers, cables, etc. before the next class after mine starts. The curriculum is heavily group work based, but that all had to be reworked this year, so I’m not even sure what will work and what won’t. I’m feeling very nervous about the whole thing.

  38. newjobanon*

    I start a new job next week after a pandemic-unemployment of almost six months. I’m excited to get this title next to my name, as it’s in a field I am currently pursuing a degree in. The job was a stretch in terms of skill requirements but not in terms of pay unfortunately. While I am happy to have snagged a job in the field, I am rather disappointed in the benefits. My last job really spoiled me, but even those weren’t stellar. I am going to be paying more for insurance with a lower HSA contribution. The 401k match is less, and is not fully vested for several years whereas my last job was vested immediately. The worst is the PTO though. I get a scant 3 days after six months, which increases to 9 after a year. After two years it’s 11, and then after SIX years it increases to…15. I think their aim is to get a commitment from people who stay to achieve the better benefits, but that logic seems faulty to me. I would think a better strategy would be to offer great benefits right off the bat to attract and retain the best talent.

    Not looking for advice, merely commiseration.

    1. computer10*

      I’m kind of fuzzy on how America works. Are you saying you only get 9 paid days off a year? Like for things like holidays and so on? What if you get sick? How do you possibly work that much without burning out? Are you allowed to take unpaid leave?

      That sounds terrible. I don’t work full time, but in Australia I think a full time employee gets a minimum of 4 weeks, so 20 days. Plus sick leave.

      You guys are really getting screwed and you have my sympathy.

      1. Generic Name*

        Those stingy leave policies with sick time plus vacation time typically result in employees coming to work while sick. Many jobs, especially hourly jobs, have no paid time off whatsoever. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

        1. computer10*

          Well we have some of the same problems here with people who are hourly. You get paid a higher rate for being hourly so it’s all your leave rolled up into a higher rate. But that still means not going to work means no pay. The hourly rate even boosted to include leave is often low enough that people don’t have savings to cover sick time off so they come in sick.

          People who are permanent part time or permanent full time do fine though. Permanent full time is legally mandated 20 days of holiday time and I can’t remember how much sick leave. If an American is a full time employee and only gets 9 days off that sounds terrible.

          1. fhgwhgads*

            For my reference, when you say “20 days holiday time” are using “holiday time” like we would say “vacation”? Or does the holiday time you’re referring to include time for vacations as well as bank holidays?

            1. computer10*

              You get 20 days a year paid time off to use for things like vacation. You then get sick leave as well but I can’t remember how much.

              We also have ‘public holidays’ which I think is what you call a bank holiday. So for days like our national day or New Year’s Day that’s a paid day off on top of your 20 days. We also love sport to the point that my state has two paid days off for major sporting events included in your public holidays.

              People who work hourly jobs get a massive pay boost on public holidays if they have to work.

      2. newjobanon*

        Thanks! But yes, as far as I can tell the 9 days (which only come after a year of employment) are for everything. There is nothing in the handbook about sick leave, but perhaps I missed it and orientation will better explain. The company does have a few static paid holidays though (Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving). I presume the office shuts down for these, so it’s not like you can work and take a floating day later.

        My first office job gave you five days after a year. And that was all. Managers would be eligible for ten days after I think two or three years. It was horrible.

        In comparison, my last job (which I was laid off from) had a pretty decent amount of PTO. Within your first year you accrued 13 days, then starting the day after your first anniversary you would accrue 19 per year. I think after four years it increased to 25 or so.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes, American employees get very very little vacation time. Hourly employees who get sick just go without pay — and if they’re not lucky they might not have a job to come back to. The company has to be a big enough size to qualify for FMLA, and the illness needs to be worth the paperwork.

    2. Generic Name*

      Ugh. Is PTO sick and vacation combined? I worked at a place that gave you 10 days PTO (yo be used for sickness or vacation), and it really sucked. The health insurance at my current job isn’t great, but at least we get decent time off. I hit 10 years next year and I’ll get 20 days of vacation plus sick leave.

      1. newjobanon*

        No, not as far as I can tell from the handbook. It’s all one pot. I guess if I ever get sick I’m screwed. They will allow you to go in the hole for PTO but I think only up to a certain amount, and it has to be approved by management. And no unpaid time off.

    3. PollyQ*

      Ugh, that’s fricken terrible! And I completely agree that it’s unwise on their part as a hiring/retention strategy. You do indeed have my sympathy.

    4. Ali G*

      I know you aren’t looking for advice, but…I would suggest you not plan to stay in this job long-term. It’s great it’s giving you some experience in your field and that you can finish your degree. Get your degree, some experience and move on.

  39. charo*

    “How are you?” reminded me of this life lesson:
    The cheap store’s cashiers don’t always greet me but I make a point of asking how’s it going because it’s not a great job and I think some cultures appreciate that more than others.

    It’s just acknowledgement that we’re humans. If they aren’t trained to say it, I will. Doesn’t help the service but I decided to be the proactive one.

    1. computer10*

      I’ve worked in customer service. Long enough to become over it. I don’t want a conversation. It’s just the same conversations anyway like ‘how about that wind today!’ It’s nice people care and are polite but honestly I’d rather people just be efficient with their purchase and move on quickly.

      1. CastIrony*

        Oh, come on! :)
        I am a cashier that always says hi and have those shallow conversations. I don’t know what to do with myself if I don’t because it’s like I’m acting in a play (meaning I’m scripted) otherwise. Besides, I get a fun conversation once in a while.

        I wish people told me when they didn’t want me to talk to them, and I would gladly stop talking. :)

  40. Bookmom*

    Any musicians in this group? I have two children who took private instrumental music lessons for many years. Normally we’ve changed teachers when either we or the teacher is moving. It’s been discussed verbally a few months in advance at a lesson. When my oldest was an senior in high school, he was driving himself to his lessons and was too shy about cancelling, so I sent an email to his instructor (who also owned the studio/retail store/repair shop) per the studio policies, giving 30 days notice, thanking him and wishing him well. No response, but my son’s lesson time opened up on the studio calendar, so that was that. Ok. Then my younger son had been taking from the same instructor for about six years who rents a space in a different but well established studio, when my son decided he wanted to be done with lessons altogether. This instructor preferred to communicate by text, so I texted him about 30 days before the beginning of the school year, when we would normally arrange a lesson time for the fall semester, thanking him, explaining we were going to stop lessons, offering specific positive comments about his influence on my son, and said I hoped we would run into him at school functions in the future. Absolute crickets! It just feels weird to completely not respond to someone you’ve been teaching for years. Is this typical? Did I handle this wrong? I’ve always been pleasant, made sure the kids were punctual and prepared, given a year end tip in a holiday card, accommodated last minute cancellations from the 2nd teacher with good cheer, etc. I’m not a musician so I don’t know if this is typical. It’s been bothering me, and my younger son will probably start lessons with a different instructor on a different instrument after things open up after Covid, so I want to handle it better in the future if I can. Would appreciate another perspective!

    1. Blue Eagle*

      You handled it just fine. The fact that neither of them responded is an issue with them. Sorry to hear that they did not respond to you (particularly because they should have at least acknowledged you by saying “sorry to see your son go, but thanks for letting me know”), but sometimes people have their own issues and don’t deal with loss of income well.
      Just let it go and know that you handled it appropriately.

    2. TechWorker*

      You did totally fine, don’t worry! I think it’s a bit rude of them not to reply but from their pov your kid is one of loads that they teach and you’ve basically said (in more and nicer words) ‘You’re not getting my money any more’ so they’re no longer spending effort on you. Let it roll off you :)

      1. Bookmom*

        Thanks for the thoughts and perspectives! I still find it a little odd not to say a proper goodbye but yes, I probably need to think of this as 99% business and 1% personal!

    3. valentine*

      It’s fine for them not to respond. What is there to say? Your messages are FYIs.

      I’m wondering, though, if 30 days isn’t enough for them to book the slot. If you knew at the end of the previous school year or sometime during the summer, why not cancel then? (Unless the contract stipulates 30 days or fewer.)

    4. N.*

      I used to teach private music lessons at a local shop. Very few students/parents would inform any of us more that a couple of weeks beforehand, and usually it was at the last lesson of the month (“oh, by the way, this was junior’s last lesson”). I would always thank them in person at their last lesson. Some students would just stop showing up. It was a popular shop, and our calendars tended to stay full, but it was always sad to be ghosted.

      That said, thank you for being an exemplary parent of music students. You did everything you should have. Punctual and prepared is a huge deal, and general consensus of the other teachers there was that only half of students gave end-of-year tips. I would have loved to have had enough notice to wrap things up, especially with my long-time students. I would have responded to your messages.

  41. PollyQ*

    (Warning: Wall of Text.)

    Google recently announced a new certificate program that will offer online training for 3 job roles: Data Analyst, Project Manager, and UX Designer. They’ve offered training & certificates before, as have other companies like Microsoft, but what’s different here is that they’re saying that in their own hiring, they’ll treat applicants with that certificate alone the same as they’d treat someone with a 4-year college degree. In addition to the savings in time, the cost savings for students is staggering. The training would cost around $300 (and they’re giving out 100,000 scholarships) compared to the tens or hundreds of thousands college can cost in the US. Google’s also signed up a bunch of big-name employers who will take the information of these students (on an opt-in basis), althought what the companies will actually do with that info is anybody’s guess.

    This is being described in some places as “disrupting college,” and if it turns out that other employers accept Google’s certificates as a substitute, and/or other companies get into the business of creating their own short, affordable certificates, then it could eventually cut into colleges’ student base. IMO, the current situation for college is essentially untenable. Students & families are being asked to pay enormous sums of money, or even worse, to take out loans that will burden them for decades, for an experience that in many cases, doesn’t really prepare them directly for a job. I think I share the experience with many graduates of 4-year colleges in that I took a bunch of classes that were interesting, and probably made me a smarter, more well-rounded, well-educated person, but also had absolutely nothing to do with the job I ended up doing. (I was a math major who became a computer programmer in financial services, so you’d think some of what I learned might have carried over, but nah. I never used any of the college-level math I studied. High school covered everything I needed to know.)

    But I’m skeptical about the disruptive aspect, at least at first. I doubt that we’ll see many high school graduates who were likely to go straight to college decide that they want to take one of those career paths, get a certificate, and immediately go forth into the working world. It may be tempting for students & their families to say, “Well, give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, you can go to college after that.” Which is true, but it’s also true that the inflation rate for college costs is about 8% per year, on average. Putting off college, even for 1-2 years, could make a BA cost them thousands of dollars more. And the 4-year college experience is also about the experience, which a certificate certainly can’t replace.

    I’m also skeptical that other companies would look at a 19-yo with a 6-month certificate the same way they’d look at a 22-yo with a BA, or even that they’d look at an employee who’d worked for a while at Google and then tried to get a job in another company the same way. I’m even skeptical that Google’s will truly get all their own hiring managers on board. (The inclusion of the Project Manager role seems especially ill-suited as something a company would hire a person with no experience + a certificate for. Frankly, I’d be surprised if someone with no experience + a BA would get hired for it. In my experience, this is role where you’d really want to hire someone with real-world on-the-job working experience.) I expect that there will at least be a “wait and see” period, where potential employers sit on the sidelines a while to see how well these hirees do their jobs and progress in their careers.

    I think the bigger opportunity here is for people who wouldn’t have gone to college, which disproportionately includes people from lower-income families and POC families, and also women from “traditional” families who pay for their sons to go to school, but not daughters. Removing the obstacle of a 4-year degree could be an enormous game-changer in terms of class mobility. Others who might benefit could be people who’ve been in the working world for a while, but have hit a career plateau due to lack of a degree, people who are looking to change careers, or women who’ve been SAH parents for a while and want or need to get back in the work force. Many similar certificates offered today are far more expensive, and not always that well-respected (which is to say: kind of predatory). Despite my skepticism, it’s certainly possible that Google putting its weight behind this program will encourage other employers to at least give the certificate some consideration.

    I have one last cynical objection. One of Google’s specific selling points for the certificates has been listing the median wage for these jobs, which range from $66k to $93k. But if this takes off and many more people get added to the pool of applicants, then the average salary will almost certainly go down, just from basic demand/supply theory. And who benefits from this? Employers like Google. They and companies like Microsoft may couch this in terms of “accessibility” and “diversity”, but they’ll certainly benefit if they end up getting to pay their employees less for the same work.

    Anyway! Thoughts? I’m especially interested in hearing from hiring managers in these fields and also people who’ve taken a different path than HS->4-year degree->white-collar job.

    * Inc. article discussing this:
    * Google Certificates announcement:

    1. BeenThere*

      This is a deeply personal opinion coming from my bias of being a software engineer and working with data analysts and project managers. I’m a technical lead moving pushing hard to move into management and I am heavily involved in hiring. I’ve already fielded a few questions from my networks from people who see these as a way to get a highly paid coveted tech position. The positions they list, Data Analyst, Project Manager, and UX Designer typically aren’t highly paid positions relative to Software Engineering roles at the entry level. $66k – 93k will not go very far in the Bay Area or NYC, compare that with a base of ~$125k + $50-60k in stock and bonus for new graduate engineers at Google. These are also roles where you won’t be able to jump across to software engineering positions. These are roles that are in support of the engineering roles and in most cases people will not count them as experience for an engineering position. Given that you’ve done a certificate with Google to get the role I can image you’ll be typecast into that position at Google for a given amount of time.

      Again these are broad generalizations, you can learn to code without getting a degree not everyone gets stuck and not everyone wants to be a software engineer. This might be a way a great way for many field to get into the field and pull a salary instead of getting into debt. Working as a PM you will see everything that goes on and be able to make educated choices on what you truly like. Some PM roles get to travel on the company dime, so it could be nice if you are a travel nut and want to rack up status.

      If you want a programming salary and don’t want to do the 4 year degree you are going to have to put in your 10,000 hours and work somewhere else besides big tech before you can get in. Graduate positions are competitive and overwhelming filled by privileged folks from well known colleges. Once they are look for senior engineers it’s a little different.

      I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school then university (with honors and two degrees) and has worked at multiple fortune 50 companies in a broad range of engineering roles before settling on software. I clean gas station toilets in on of my part time jobs in high school and worked as a bank teller for two years so I could afford to scrape by at university. I have strong opinions on feeding vulnerable people into the less glamorous jobs.

      1. PollyQ*

        Thanks for sharing your experience. All the work I did was internal IT, so I think there may have been less job specialization than for customer-facing products. We did have dedicated project managers, but we mostly did our own data analyst/ux work as part of the programming project.

        You’re definitely right that those salaries are not great for people working in the Bay Area, although what with COVID, Google & other companies are probably even more willing to hire remote employees than they already were. Also worth noting that those are median salaries for people in these roles today. They’re certainly not what anybody’s going to pay someone who’s brand new to the job.

    2. Sara(h)*

      Interesting. I am a hiring manager in an entirely different field. I do think the Google certificate idea is a bit gimmicky, and time will tell whether these certificates prove to be of significant value in the job market, for Google or otherwise. Also, as you point out when mentioning the need for buy-in from hiring managers — just because one SVP at Google says it will be treated as equivalent to 4-year degrees in hiring, doesn’t make it so.
      As someone who works for an employer who hires based on skills and experience, and doesn’t discriminate or exclude based on degrees or lack thereof, I do support the idea of moving towards other means of job readiness besides college and university. But just like a college degree or any other qualification, these certificates would be only one of the many pieces of the whole of someone’s application.
      If anything, they may be of value to someone who already has work experience but wants to promote within or without Google, or someone who has work experience and wants to get a job at Google, it could give an additional edge (whether or not they have a 4-year degree). I don’t see these certificates as a major game changer that will replace college degrees, but they may open up some opportunities for a select group of people who are otherwise talented and need a foot in the door.

  42. Ali G*

    I wanted to share something that my org recently implemented, that has been well-received. I also shared this with some friends and one is an ED at a non-profit and she said she was going to float this to her staff because she also thought it was great:
    We currently get 10 paid Holidays per year. They are the typical US days, with some of the lesser Holidays thrown in. Around the time of Juneteenth, we were having a staffwide discussion and someone asked how they could take the day off if they wanted. This sparked a complete overhaul of our paid vacation days policy. Now we get 10 paid Holidays per year, and you can take them any day you want (but with a limit of 3 per month, so you can’t take them to avoid using vacation days or in lieu of sick). You just need to notify your supervisor and HR at least 2 weeks before the Holiday if you are planning to not use it, so it is not applied to your timesheet. Same with when you decide to use the day. If you don’t make any changes, your Holidays are the default 10 days.
    Staff love it and I am probably going to skip Columbus Day so I can have an extra day over US Thanksgiving.
    Thought I would share in case anyone here would be interested!

    1. Suffering spouse*

      Interesting- but what if many people decide they want to use their days in such a way that they then count traditional days- such as Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, New Year’s Day as working days- but the facility is actually closed that day? Also- does the extra day have to be a “recognized” holiday- or declared as a specific holiday- like National Donut Day? Sounds like a hard thing to manage.

      1. Ali G*

        Ah good questions. We have a strong WFH culture, so if you want to work a day the building is closed you work at home (we all work in traditional office buildings or at home already). It is a bit to manage, but we are making it work. You can basically take any day you want, except you are limited to using no more than 3 per month.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our holidays sort of work like that. We have six official holidays, but they are included in our PTO, so if you want to work on the official holidays you can (hourly folks have no restrictions, salaried have to get manager approval, but mine has never said no at least), and then you can use the PTO for whatever under our regular PTO rules. I pretty often do a half day on a holiday, it’s a good time to catch up on miscellany and I wake up stupid early anyway so I’m still done by 10am :)

    3. Analyst Editor*

      I don’t like the idea of unmooring from Official holidays to make *All* holidays PTO. It’s nice to have days off when nobody else does – because no traffic or crowds on your drive – but it’s also nice to have days when everyone has off, meaning that nobody is working harder than you behind your back, and nobody is expecting anything of you on those days, and people you know also have that day off.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        But nobody is stopping you from taking your holiday on the holiday if you want to. They’re just giving alternative options for folks who want them.

  43. Not Remotely Prepared*

    So how do people actually find jobs?
    I’ll be graduating this spring, and of course I’m applying to jobs I find online and letting people know I’m on the job hunt. But to be honest, it feels like I’m just tossing my resume into a void every time I apply. Of course the current job market isn’t great, even thought my industry wasn’t hit as hard as others. I guess I thought college would be my foot in the door, and now it seems like it was more to get me to the door and I still can’t get my foot in anywhere.

    1. ThePear8*

      I’m a fellow spring-grad-to-be in the same boat. I don’t think I have a good answer either, just empathy, although I’d say of course in addition to applying online, try attending virtual career fairs if you can – I’m going to my first one this week and I have no idea how it will pan out virtually, but I got my current internship through a recruiter I talked to at a career fair last semester (and even a second offer from another company there that I turned down). Similarly, there’s a big industry event coming up that’s going virtual this year but a lot of big companies are going to be recruiting there so I’m debating attending in order to at least be able to talk and form connections, if not find a job – I feel like even being able to have a real conversation for 10 minutes still makes you more memorable than the many faceless resumes cascading in from the internet.

      1. Not Remotely Prepared*

        I also have a virtual career fair this week, through my school. The good thing is that you can actually schedule 10-minute chats with reps, so if you want to talk to a company you don’t just have to hope you catch them at a good time. Good luck to you; I hope it goes well!

        1. ThePear8*

          Thanks – good luck to you as well! Agree the ability to schedule ahead of time is kind of nice as someone who likes planning ahead

    2. PollyQ*

      Are you looking for a job where you’d start working now, or not until after you graduate? If it’s the second, then while there are companies that start hiring spring-graduating seniors the previous fall, many more don’t. So if you’re applying to a job that’s opening now and saying that you can’t start until next May, that’s going to completely disqualify you.

      College career centers get a bad rap (and often deserve it), but they may be able to help point you to companies that are looking for students in your position.

      If this doesn’t actually apply to you, then feel free to ignore, but recognize that the economy has suddenly gotten truly horrific for job-hunters, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that your education was wasted.

      1. Not Remotely Prepared*

        Would employers hold it against you if you apply for an opening when you won’t be free for months? I had been assuming that it couldn’t hurt to try

        1. PollyQ*

          It’s not that they’d resent you for it — I doubt they’d put you in a permanent “do not hire” pile. But if they’re hiring now, it’s generally because they need someone to do the job now, not 9 months in the future. If you don’t meet that need, then they’re just not going to consider you at all. Which is to say, you are kind of tossing your application into a void in some cases.

          So it doesn’t hurt to try, except that it’s leaving you frustrated & dejected, which I why I suggested you try to put some effort into finding jobs that are aiming to hire for next spring. I think you’ll get a much better return on your investment of time that way.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Complicated job history, leading to finding new career path in my early 40s.

      I used Indeed, word of mouth, my city’s civil jobs site, and my state’s workforce site. Job I start in a week, I found on Indeed.

      Job searching generally feels like shouting into the void, unfortunately. Eventually, I started applying only for those jobs which Indeed marked as “easy apply,” where I only needed a resume and cover letter, and sometimes answer a custom question. NewJob was an easy apply. I also started being really selective about which jobs I would apply for, researched the orgs, leveraged my network (“what do you know about so and so, X org?”), and wrote smashing cover letters. It took practice but after awhile, I could do all of the above in around 2 hours.

      The thing about a job search is that, if you’ve done adequate research on the job/industry, have a decent resume, and can write a coherent cover letter that ties your background to the job at hand, it’s not about you being a good or bad person. It’s about how well you can solve the hiring manager’s problem (warm body? Creative thinker who can anticipate curve balls?).

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Luck, timing, persistence, skill.

      Set up a meeting with your Career Office (be prepared to critically evaluate everything they tell you as they have a reputation for bad advice, but there are a lot of good college career centers out there). You may also want to set up a meeting with your campus Writing Center. They help with all kinds of writing, not just academic, and are useful for the resume and cover letter.

      Talk to a trusted professor or mentor. Are there any job boards for your field, maybe run through professional organizations? Do they have examples of good cover letters or interviews in your discipline?

      For me, and maybe for a lot of young professionals, I didn’t feel like there was a way around the “toss many things into the void and pray”. There’s just so much entry level competition. I applied to about 80 positions before I got my current job (had worked before, but this is my first true professional gig in my field).

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Applying online is mostly how people get jobs.

      Maybe job fairs or your schools job placement office can alert you to potential jobs, but nearly all will tell you need to apply online which gets your name/resume/application into whatever system they use for hiring.

      If you’re not getting responses to your applications you should work on improving your resume and cover letter, but the job market is hard so responses to applications is going to be lower than it was before March.

    6. Nacho*

      I found my first job using a government job center, and my second one just scooped up like half of us after my first job laid everybody off. One of my coworkers got like 20 grand for referring all of us.

  44. Jay*

    I’m applying and interviewing for jobs at the moment. I’m in a job where I am very unhappy right now, so am willing to take a paycut for the right role that would be a better fit for me, or offer better working conditions or hours. I have also just become a single mother and need to leave my job which has a 24x7x365 on call component which is unrealistic to continue now. Question is, do I mention this when I am applying for jobs? Especially if it’s a noticeably decrease from what I am earning now? Would it play for or against me?

    1. Ali G*

      Is it obvious at the application stage that it is a step down? If not, don’t mention it, until you discuss salary. If it’s obvious at the beginning of the process, address it in your cover letter. When I was in a similar situation, I included a sentence that said something like “as you can see from my previous experience, this role could be considered a step back from my previous positions. I would like to make it clear that I am looking for a pivot in my career, and I am interested in this positions for X and Y and I am confident we can align on salary.”
      Edit as you need.

      1. Jay*

        For the current role I’m interviewing for, it’s not obvious obvious, it’s a pivot from my current job which is more specialised however. The pay cut would be around $20k per year if they come in mid band on what they have told me the role pays. I think I won’t mention it unless they specifically ask me – it didn’t really come up in my first interview, though they asked why I am leaving my current role and I made it clear the 24×7 component was a big driver. TBH the paycut would compensate a lot just for having to never get 3am phone calls again and having to put my life on hold at the drop of a hat.

  45. ThePear8*

    Question for any fellow artist/programmer types, I have a portfolio of projects on my personal website that I include on my resume and frequently link to on applications, and I’m thinking about maybe rearranging it a bit. I’m still a student so pretty much all of it so far are hackathon-type projects and school assignments, so many are small and unpolished. However, more recently as I’ve gotten to work on bigger and more professional projects in my internship, and also taken some time over the summer to go back and finish/polish some older hackathon projects a bit more, I want some way to highlight the more complete and professional work I’ve done. I could make a separate website page – like one for “hackathon projects” and one for “highlights/completed projects” or something like that, but I feel like having two separate pages could be confusing or just too much. Any suggestions for a good way to balance this? To be able to highlight the more complete work while still maintaining the variety and different skills showcased in my hackathon portfolio?

  46. NervousCollegeKid*

    Hi! I’m a college senior and I’ll be graduating in December so I’ve started my job search (mostly just browsing haven’t applied anywhere yet). I’ve noticed a lot of jobs in my field (politics, nonprofits, political consulting) are asking for two years of experience for what they have listed as entry level positions. Does that mean that I shouldn’t apply? I’ve had 5 internships and I’m currently on my sixth (the longest internship was 8 months the rest averaged 3 to 5 months). I don’t want to seem clueless by applying to jobs I’m not qualified for but I am also concerned by how many entry level positions are asking for 2 or more years of experience.

    1. BRR*

      I work in nonprofit fundraising. Ive always though of the entry level jobs asking for two years to really just mean ideally have some office job level experience so I’d likely apply if I were you. You could always Try and see the background of people at the employer who are the same level.

    2. Hi there*

      My guess is that you are close to two years experience between the internships and any volunteering or politicking you have done while in school. Good luck!

  47. PSL is the law*

    I like my department’s management overall, but one thing that bugs me is that they still think Maryland’s paid sick leave law is optional. HR has repeatedly told them that they can’t ask for doctor’s notes, and they can’t make people give more than a week’s notice for appointments.

    One day someone is going to report them to the state, and they’ll have to explain to an investigator why they keep ignoring the law.

  48. Michaela*

    I’ve had a second job fall through after where the employer cited Covid, and I’m annoyed they even bother interviewing if they don’t have a job. I’m going to be unemployed from next week, and not hopeful in the short to medium term.

    Also live in Melbourne with the harshest lockdown in the world, and it’s not hyperbole. For socially distanced retail and outdoor dining to happen, we’ve been told we need daily cases of 5 or less a day slated for late October, and for gyms to open no daily cases by late November, which many people say is impossible to achieve – so basically feels like we’ll be locked down forever, and all those businesses are going to fold because they can’t stay viable being closed for months at a time with no income, but still having to meet rent and other expenses. Also not helping my job search.

    There’s lots of other parts of Australia still open that don’t have such strict rules and they don’t have big hospital caseloads or deaths, so it’s just our state leader being overly risk averse, while people in our city are dying from homelessness, suicides and domestic violence from the lockdown instead.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have co-workers in Melbourne. Your city is at the center of a second wave of covid and has had 90% of Australia’s covid deaths. From my side of the Pacific, that lockdown looks justified.

    2. fhgwhgads*

      This does not strike me as overly risk averse. My understanding is health experts’ general recommendations for “reopening” are single digit new cases daily for two weeks, and no deaths during those same two weeks. However most places who reopened despite not hitting those targets did so for economic reasons, and most of the phased reopenings are basically signs of impatience with how long this pandemic has continued, not based on what an epidemiologist would say is the best course of action.

  49. C Average*

    For those of you who do freelance creative work, how do you handle pricing projects that require some brainstorming, experimentation, and other work that goes into the project but isn’t directly reflected in the final result?

    I’m a pretty good self-trained sewist and I’ve taken a few design classes, and I’m comfortable within my range. But I’m starting to get inquiries about projects that I suspect I can do, but that may involve some research, self-education, and trial and error. How should I build that time into the straightforward $25/hour I normally charge for things like repairs, alterations, and easy follow-the-pattern stuff?

    1. MerrilyMerrily*

      Pricing creative work is completely different than alteration/repair work like replacing a zipper or shortening trousers. If you’re just starting with custom design you need to be careful that you don’t short-change yourself. Research and consultation are part of the overall work.

      If someone came in with a commercial pattern and asked for a price, you could figure out the hours to make and fit, and using your hourly rate, quote them “X dollars plus fabric and materials”.

      But if they want you to design something original or custom from scratch, triple (or quadruple) the price. Don’t mention the number of hours because they’ll haggle. They’re paying for your design skills, not just for your sewing ability. Plus all the consultation, research, fabric choice, etc. Just quote them “X dollars plus materials”.

      When it comes to artistic product, customers get into this “art is fun so it should be cheap/free” concept, because they think “it’s not really work, is it?” [sarcasm]. Or they think you should be able to make something for cheaper than they’d pay in a store. No, you aren’t a sweatshop [more sarcasm].

      In my distant past I did some historical costume for people. The worst customers were those who never sewed before. They haggled with arguments like “ but I can buy a formal on sale at Macy’s for a hundred bucks”. Or “my roommate made a dress in one evening”.

      The best people to sew for were those who had tried to make their own clothes and failed, especially if the garment wouldn’t fit properly without alterations .

      Check out the bridal market if you want to get an idea of how much people pay for things. Or look at what “dance moms” are paying for their kid’s recital outfits.

      Good luck.

  50. justhiremealready*

    Any tips on how to address my personal job application elephant in the room – being “overqualified”? I did a Masters degree in Business/Psychology via online learning while I was at home caring for my baby. Now I’m back jobseeking, employers seem to think my post-grad degree means I’m unemployable for entry-level positions, but I can’t seem to get shortlisted for more senior positions because I don’t have much in the way of work experience in the field I studied. It’s incredibly demoralising. Any advice would be gratefully received!

      1. justhiremealready*

        This really isn’t an option as degree qualifications in business/related field are listed as essential selection criteria for the sort of jobs I am applying for. My undergraduate degree is more broadly related to science/psychology rather than business, so by removing my postgrad qualification I’m not meeting the requirements listed in the job advertisements.

        1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

          Can you maybe state in your cover letter that you undertook the Masters while you were on a break from work / childrearing, and that while you have a lot of theoretical knowledge you are looking to gain some practical experience in your new field? They might be more willing to let you start at entry level if they don’t assume that you already have ample experience or prior jobs in that field.
          Good luck!

  51. IDontGetIt*

    Hello, maybe someone can help me here.

    I recently had my first interview in almost a year and it did not go well. I am not sure if I am just out of touch but this is the first time I’ve ever struggled to find a job.

    The interviewers asked me a series of questions and one of them was “what you do if you had to deescalate a situation with an irate customer that was yelling?”

    I said that I would stay calm and let them vent for about 30 seconds because people typically calm down when they realize they aren’t getting a reaction. Then depending on company policy, I would interject without making it seem like I was interrupting and I’d reiterate company policies and what I COULD do, even if all I could do was direct them elsewhere.

    This is guest service as I have always been taught, and this is the role of a team leader, to deal with these types so the other employees can handle routine situations.

    The interviewers response was to tell me that they don’t do that there and that all they are concerned with are meeting their metrics. They mentioned metrics so many times. My last customer service job also only cared about metrics after bringing in new management and ended up losing all of their competent employees over a 6 month span. They eventually went under.

    When did metrics become more important than treating customers respectably and handling problems?

    I live in MA and am in my early 40s. I have a bachelors degree in psychology but my work background is mostly customer service. Right out of college I did personal auto injury claims and often went to small claims court on behalf of my employer. I have leadership experience at a call center, as well as trainer experience in several past roles.

    All I have been able to find lately are contract jobs with no paid time off that do not pay anything close to a living wage in MA. I have a biweekly hour long medical appointment that I need to be able to have a morning off during the week (I can make up time or work on weekends) and you’d think I was asking for a million dollar starting salary when I mention this. This has not been an issue in the past but suddenly it is. I just have no idea how I’m going to function in a world with no PTO that doesn’t care about guest service if metrics are met.

    1. Dan*

      I’m pretty sure the focus on metrics in customer service is correlated with managers’ bonuses and things like that. If a manager is told “you get $X for meeting Y metric” then guess what? That manager’s reports will be focused on Y metric. And good customer service and its benefits are hard to measure, so we have what we have.

      True story: a few years back, I ordered flowers as a surprise for my ex through 800 flowers. I come home from work and ask about the flowers. She had no idea what I was talking about. So I call customer service, and they said they attempted delivery but nobody was home… except ex was home all day. Same story on day 2. Day 3 happened to be a Saturday, and they *still* hadn’t been delivered.

      I call up customer service and the guy was absolutely useless. They wouldn’t even give me the name of the local flower shop and let me talk to them directly. Day 3 was the same “they’ll try again tomorrow”. Oh hell no. After like 30 minutes on the phone and no satisfying resolution and a lot of pointless back and forth, I said this to the customer service agent: “I’m under the impression that you can’t hang up on me if I’m nice to you and don’t use foul language. So I won’t. But I know your call times are monitored and you need to get people off the phone ASAP. Well, lucky for you, it’s 2pm my time, and I have no plans until 4pm, except talking to you. So I’m more than happy to wreck your call stats if I can’t get my flowers today. If that means I spend the next 2 hours reading out of the dictionary, then so be it.”

      You know what? I got my flowers within 30 minutes.

      1. Eeeek*

        Love this!! Threatening customer service agents who are likely following orders is so nice of you!! Clap clap clap

    2. OyHiOh*

      Are you wedded to customer service jobs? With your background in leadership and trainer credentials, you could probably move into other fields fairly easily, that might have better benefits and more flexible hours.

      1. IDontGetIt*

        I’d prefer to get out of customer service but I am in my early 40s and nothing else seems to be hiring. I have some physical limitations (I cannot lift 60 lbs) so warehouse work would not be a good fit for me. My credit score is terrible due to past debt settlement so I can’t work in anything involving accounting or finance where they run credit checks as part of background.

  52. Kate*

    The thing that is killing me in my job is that no one talks to me. I have a weekly check in with my boss when we review my work, but other than that I don’t talk to anyone. I didn’t talk to them when I was in the office, and I really don’t talk to them now that I’m working from home. I don’t have a sense of my department’s goals or the organization’s goals. I’m lonely in my work. I’m looking for another job and have been for awhile but i wanted to say it. Its painful to work for a play that does not encourage human connection.

    1. justhiremealready*

      I once had a role where I started in a regional team of 5, that was part of a larger national team. Over a 2 month period, all my colleagues moved onto other roles in other departments, and I was the only person left in the team so I ended up being assigned a team leader that was in another state. It was really lonely, especially since the job was quite stressful and there was no-one around me to help me debrief after challenging cases. I’m sorry you’re struggling, and I hope that you can find something better soon.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing I started doing when I used to telecommute two or three days a week was simply drop an IM to the co-workers in nearby cubicles and say hello. It felt really weird at first, so I’d type something like “it’s my offsite day to catch up on [the TPS reports] so pretend I’m waving over the wall to say hello on my way to my desk.”
      If I had any projects with them, I’d sometimes message them to ask if they had time to talk about XYZ or should I just send the standard email. When we went remote, I would use IM when there was extreme weather like some people bring up sports. Sudden thunderstorm? IM someone who lives in my town. News says tornado watch in the SW part of the state? IM my co-worker who lives there and make sure she was aware. By now, they are doing the same for me. We almost never stay on more than a line or two — but it makes me feel a little more connected.

  53. Bowserkitty*

    Working in Japan with one foot still in America (via my NPR stream I listen to on the drive to work) kind of backfires on me sometimes, because one of the radio hosts today said “hope you all enjoyed your long weekend” and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little out of jealousy.

    Oh well, I have a four day weekend this month! Woo!

  54. WhistlingTeapot*

    I work on a military base and I have been continually frustrated by my supervisors’ unwillingness to follow or enforce mask-wearing guidelines. The base itself has a General Order that requires us to wear masks when indoors regardless of 6′ distancing, and in spite of me telling them about the GO, all of my superiors have been saying that as long as we keep 6′ apart we can take our masks off. They’re very lenient about that, too – it’s common for people to walk around with no mask at all or to hang out in the office with their masks below their chins. When I have complained, my supervisor says that since the boss isn’t wearing his mask, she’s not going to wear hers. Recently, I made a complaint that some people’s masks are so loose that even when they wear them, they aren’t actually protecting anything. (One guy has a homemade mask that is tight on top and bottom but has huge gaping sides – in profile you can clearly see his lips and nose. Many others have masks that stick out a half inch or more beyond their noses or that droop when they look down.) Again, I got the line that as long as they’re 6′ away or wearing some kind of mask, it doesn’t matter.

    I have been reluctant to report since I’ve experienced retaliation in the past. However, I reached my breaking point and decided to call HR. I couldn’t get through, so I just left a message asking them to call me back.

    Then my mother told me she had sent a private message to the base’s Facebook page about my company not wearing masks. She told me what she wrote, which was not 100% wrong, but missed some of the important details and nuance of the issue.

    For the record, this is out of character for my mom. We do live together because she is disabled and chronically ill, but she respects me as an adult (I do all the cooking and cleaning and errand-running, so I’m not just a “failure to fledge”) and has never interfered in my work matters before. However, I have been having severe mental health issues lately and I think she thought that if this were resolved, I might feel better. (I mean, yeah, but this is not the way.)

    Well. We had a meeting yesterday where we were told that someone in the company had skipped the whole chain of command and made a complaint to the base command. (Partially true – I made multiple complaints to three levels in my own company with no result a few weeks ago before I gave up.) They said had a couple complaints in the past, buf they thought the mask issue was resolved and if they had known it wasn’t, they would have fixed it. (These same supervisors would stand in front of the signs saying they had to wear a mask without their masks on, talking to employees without masks on.) Then they said that although up till now people were allowed to take off their masks if they were distanced, now everybody has to wear them all the time. (Making it sound like the new mask rule is a punishment, when in fact the General Order was put out over two months ago, and I told four different supervisors about it.)

    To make things worse, my immediate supervisor is a gossip. I know she’s told other employees about my previous complaints. I know everyone thinks the chain-jumping whistleblower is me, but it wasn’t.

    I’m not sure how to pick up the pieces. I already told my mom how Not Okay this was. I feel I owe my supervisors and boss an apology and explanation, since although they weren’t following the mask guidelines, it still should have gone through the proper channels. However, I’m in a very awkward position since one of my main complaints (bad-fitting masks) was not addressed. I’m afraid if I admit that it was my mom, then I’ll still get suspended or fired for it. However, everyone already assumes it’s me, so I’m in the sights for retaliation anyway.

    (Yes, I would like to quit. I have already contacted a vocational rehab place, but this is one of the best-paying jobs for my kind of work around here and I can barely make ends meet as it is. Not to mention, this event is going to seriously impact my references. This is my first “real job” and I don’t have good references anywhere else, just some minimum wage jobs that wouldn’t remember me.)

    1. New Senior Mgr*

      You do not owe anyone an apology. You, your mother, and an anonymous whistleblower May have saved some lives. Head up. You did a good thing. Go forth knowing this.

      1. WhistlingTeapot*

        To be clear, the “anonymous whistleblower” was almost certainly my mom. I don’t know where they got the idea that it was someone within our company, but I can’t think of a single person who has made a complaint besides me. The general consensus is that masks do nothing and Covid is not that big of a deal.

      2. WhistlingTeapot*

        So my boss is now retaliating against me. I had a worker’s comp injury to my wrists a few years ago and have been given permanent restrictions. In the past, my boss has told me not to push carts so my injury could heal, and I had to call the doctor and get permission from him to push carts with my forearms so I could still work. My supervisor told me not to use certain heavy equipment that requires pulling with the hands, and my boss has been aware of this. Now he’s saying that my restrictions were never about pushing or pulling, just lifting and carrying, and he didn’t know that I hadn’t been pulling the heavy equipment. He’s making it sound like I just refused to work instead of doing everything I can to work without reinjuring myself.

        I’m going to have to go back to the worker’s comp doctor, I’m going to have to contact a lawyer, I’m going to have to try to job search in between it all… Everything I was afraid of.

        And the icing on the cake is that I saw someone not wearing their mask today. I guarantee you, on my days off, no one will be wearing a mask.

  55. snack queen*

    I have one of those ‘constant complainer’ coworkers, Joffrey. I’ve been reading through the archives for advice – but due to the pandemic / work from home a lot of it is harder to implement since I can’t just walk away. I have to coordinate with Joffrey on several of my projects, which means I can’t just ignore him. I’m a designer and he is an engineer, and we use a BIM software. He barely knows how to use it, while I am pretty good. I try to be helpful but not only is he a jerk, half the time it’s his own incompetence causing the issue.

    Joffrey refuses to ask me questions via chat/email, instead calling me on Teams. He doesn’t even launch into any pleasantries or small talk – just “I HAVE A PROBLEM I NEED YOU TO FIX IT RIGHT NOW DROP EVERYTHING!!!!”.

    After what is usually a 10-second answer to his question (could easily be answered on chat if he sent me screenshots), he then launches into a tirade about our coworkers, our clients, etc. (it seems like whoever he spoke with last is the focus of all the ire.) Our office does have its share of problems, but he is aggressive, cusses up a storm, and it makes me very uncomfortable. Most of my other coworkers just avoid his calls, but they aren’t on projects with him so that’s easier to justify. Maybe 1/5 calls are about coordination for our project, the other 4/5 are his software issues.

    Management is very hands-off, and I have a feeling they would probably make it worse by going to him and saying “snack queen says you’re making her uncomfortable, cut it out.”

    Please help me brainstorm ways to address this. I would like him to stop using me as a Help Desk, and stop bad mouthing our coworkers every time we talk. Thanks!

    1. Workerbee*

      My first thought is not to take his calls. Greenlit doesn’t mean you aren’t working or concentrating.

      What would happen if you stuck to only interacting with him on chat whenever possible? And telling him to state his question there and provide screenshots, etc.?

      1. snack queen*

        Thanks for responding. I agree just because I’m Green doesn’t mean I am here waiting around to solve all his problems/listen to him vent. I have my own work to finish…. but I feel SO weird…not helping? Especially because our office is sorely lacking in people good at the software, so there aren’t a lot of other people for him to ask. I do feel bad that he struggles and if he was nicer / less demanding about it, I wouldn’t mind as much.

        I am going to try your suggestion and see what happens. I have a feeling he is going to ignore my request and just call me 10x a day anyway. May the universe grant me strength…

        1. New Senior Mgr*

          Try to take your feelings out of it (they haven’t helped the situation anyway) and do as worker bee suggests. Sending you good luck!

  56. Elle Woods*

    This is is similar to the question someone had about being motivated to do their work but slightly different. I’m currently working a good stable job that has great benefits and I like my team but the field just isn’t for me. Plus it’s just not my style, think data auditing and number crunching for the Teapot Company. I’m more of a liberal arts, write papers and work on committees type of person. More thoughts, and ideas and less numbers oriented. Anyway, I’m going back to school to be able to do something in the realm that suites me and I’m interested in. The only caveat that my current job helps pay for school. If all goes well I should be done with school in about 2 years, and fingers crossed I can move into a new job. How do I stick it out for the next couple of years for myself and so I’m not dragging the team down with my ineptitude/lack of motivation? Any, thoughts and advice appreciated.

    P.S. I’ve considered adjusting my hours so I can have more time for school and less time for work which might help with the motivation. That way I don’t feel stressed juggling both full time work and school and so I’m doing less of the thing I don’t like (work) and more of the thing I do like (school).

  57. Nicole*

    Today my boss asked me if I have been diagnosed with ADD!? I would love an adderall prescription but I haven’t been diagnosed. Even if I was I don’t think it’s any of their damn business. I do take medication for anxiety & depression (partly because of people, situations and questions like that) and didn’t really appreciate feeling presssured to disclose it. I feel like that’s an inappropriate thing to say to anybody. It’s the same as asking someone if they’re gay or incontinent. I’m not like most sheeple by choice and it seems anywhere I go it makes me an easy target to get singled out, harrassed or picked on because of it. The trolls in the office make sure to be openly critical and tattle tell every single trivial miniscule thing and it seems the behavior is encouraged. Not a healthy environment. All I have to do is make it 5 years and 6 months and my house will be paid for. I will never work full time again after that. Is it legal for the boss to ask that?

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