open thread – September 11-12, 2020

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

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

{ 1,252 comments… read them below }

  1. Not My Pension*

    I’ve realized that my salary is being held hostage by a pension I don’t belong to.

    I fought hard for a good starting salary at my current job, but was at a disadvantage because I came from a temp agency. The company strung me along for several years, then decided that hiring me on permanently would re-set the clock and negate all the time I’d already been here. Over the years I’ve been here, the COL bumps often don’t meet inflation. Raises are a fantasy.

    My department expanded and I got a new colleague, Penelope, who came from NYC and is a dynamo of confidence in negotiation. Penelope also pushed hard for a good starting salary based on her experience and some well-researched data in our field, but also got a ton of pushback. Eventually the HR person (new, therefore not who I had dealt with) admitted to Penelope that her asking number was too close to Claire the Department Head’s salary for comfort, and thus wasn’t going to happen.

    If my guesstimates are correct, this puts Claire’s salary at about 30% below market rate, but I’m not surprised she’s willing to tolerate that—she’s been at the company long enough that she’s fully vested in their pension system. But Penelope and I are not eligible for the pension, it closed before we were hired.

    So I can’t earn market salary because Claire doesn’t earn market salary, but Claire makes up for a crappy salary by having a generous pension, which I can’t have. Is this sort of thing common? Have you ever heard of a similar situation?

    1. IL JimP*

      I’m sure it happens obviously it’s happening to you but it can’t be that common most pensions went away a long time ago. Even if Claire is getting a good pension she should still be being paid fairly, it might make sense to bring it up to her together so you all can get paid fairly.

      1. Former Conservative*

        “most pensions went away a long time ago”

        Mostly in the last 10-20 years. Some senior directors have been at their companies longer than that, so they are still pension-eligible.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          I have a pension which will be maybe 50-75 bucks a month upon retirement. They keep trying to get me to cash out but I’m not going to because this inconveniences them far more. They were/are toxic in many ways and I get great satisfaction from this.

            1. Annon for this*

              We waited until the very last minute when the company was years into the dissolution of the pension.
              I kept leaving the mail for my spouse and they ignored it. I finally opened it and discovered a nice little nest egg that I promply rolled over. Literally had less than 6 months left before forfeit. I could not get spouse down the the bank fast enough to open that account.

              1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

                Oh, if they insisted I won’t leave money on the table, but the pension is still in play they just offer an option now and then.

          1. Clisby*

            I get about $450 a month from an old-style pension – the result of almost 9 years in the plan (I left the job at the end of 1996).

    2. Aquawoman*

      I am sorry to hear about the underpayment, that is certainly an issue worth your concern. I don’t think the pension factors in the way you think, though. If Claire is fully vested in her pension and the pension is frozen, which it probably is from your description, then the amount that Claire will get upon retirement will not change even if she quits and gets another job. So she could find another job that paid her a market rate and still get the same pension. The only exception is if it was closed to new entrants but did not stop accrual of benefits, but that is unusual.

      1. Former Conservative*

        “closed to new entrants but did not stop accrual of benefits”

        This is actually the only way I’ve ever seen it.

        It’s also possible that Claire’s pension only fully vests after a certain # of years of service, and Claire hasn’t met that requirement yet, but plans to before she retires.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I have a pension from a company I left in 2013. Fully vested, so I’ll get the full amount when I retire, but the company stopped contributing in 2008, I think? So it grows, but nothing has been added from the company. And no one who joined after 2008 was eligible for the pension. Is that what you mean?

          I have a hard time picturing someone accepting a crappy salary simply because they get a great pension. I think there’s something else going on here– and it’s possibly that Claire has been underpaid for a really, really long time.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            And quite possibly that if she’s been there a really long time has absolutely no idea that she’s severely underpaid.

          2. university minion*

            Your last paragraph is pretty much everyone who has 20+ years working for the state in Florida and got in before they eliminated cost of living increases in the pension.

          3. Jackson Codfish*

            That’s most state workers in my area. For many professional jobs, the pay is half or less what they could be getting in the private sector – but the health benefits are fantastic and there is still a pension once they get 30 years in. Get hired, in your 20s, figure out how to live on your salary; and then stick around until your 50s, at which point you can hang it up and relax for the rest of your days.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m in a pension that closed to new entrants in 2015, but I made the cut to still accrue benefits. My husband’s company recently gave them notice that they will no longer contribute to the pension, thereby effectively ending the benefit. They still have what was previously accrued, but that’s all.

      3. NW Mossy*

        Aquawoman is right – closing a pension plan to new participants and stopping accruals for existing participants are distinct steps that are often bundled together but don’t have to be. In my own company’s example, it stopped taking new entrants almost 20 years ago but continued accruals for existing participants until quite recently. Now, it’s considered frozen.

        Years ago I did hear people occasionally reference the golden-handcuffs problem – while they might be paid more elsewhere, the continuing accrual of retirement benefits kept them around. Funny how that chatter stopped…

    3. Alex*

      While it’s true that Claire probably won’t leave because of her pension, that’s no reason for them to pay her so little. You’d still be in the same situation if she just had the kind of personality that never asked for more, etc., and was generally willing to be underpaid for a whole host of reasons–she didn’t feel confident that she was worth more, she liked the excellent commute, etc. The problem isn’t the pension, it is the fact that the employer is taking advantage of passive employees.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have heard similar stories and seen my own version.

      I can’t get paid more than x because random person in another department is only paid x. Why am I tethered to this random person.

      At another job, we weren’t paid a living wage. I was not too tied into the discussion of pay levels because this was just a part time income for me. But I never stopped marveling at the higher ups who insisted that we were getting $2 an hour in our retirement investment in the company.
      1) Most people could have used that $2/hr in present time to pay basic bills.
      2) Most employees did not make it through the vesting period of 7 years and therefore saw a mere fraction of what the account was worth. For example, a four year employee could expect to see $1700 on an account with $10k upon leaving the company.
      3)Any good investment adviser would caution against all the eggs in one basket. Employees were told the retirement funds were part of their current compensation but what if the company collapses? There goes those funds.

    5. Kiki*

      I haven’t heard of this situation exactly, but I have heard a lot of cases of the “Oh, well, we can’t pay you more because then you’d make more than X person who should be paid more than you.”
      I have definitely heard of companies taking care of this by reviewing salaries, adjusting everyone to market, and establishing pay bands, but that’s a lot of work and more often than not, companies drag their feet on this. I think in your case especially, it seems like your company seems pretty determined to underpay– they’ve taken every opportunity to do so. I don’t mean to be a downer, but I think looking elsewhere is probably your best chance of making a market salary within the next few years.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I knew someone who was promoted to supervisor but was told she couldn’t have a raise because then she’d make more than people who had worked there longer than her. People she supervised.

      2. Trina*

        After telling me that I was at the correct pay step for my position and length of service (confirmed by a salary study), they turned around months later to gave me a very big raise. I later learned that my position and another in the department were placed on the same grade by the study . The incumbent in the other position quit. She had been in the job a while and had a few more steps (amplified by COLAs). In trying to replce her, management realized that they had to pay any qualified new hire close to what the former employee was making. I suspect that our boss intervened before the hire was made to get my salary eqivalent to the new hire; my position used salary information for a number of task so it would not be long before the inequity was evident..

    6. WellRed*

      I find it hard to believe the pension is all that generous since the company seems so miserly and unreasonable in all other ways.

    7. Sam Foster*

      I’m hearing crummy company with bad HR and a terrible manager. The pension is a red herring. Claire doesn’t want anyone coming near her salary, doesn’t matter what her rationale is.

  2. IL JimP*

    Hi everyone! Happy Friday after Labor Day!

    I have a question, I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to start a consulting business but the skills I have aren’t really technical in nature, think more leadership, professional development, etc., has anyone started a consulting business with these types of skills and how did you do it?

    1. Elizabeth I*

      I am a project management consultant by day, but I do consulting on the side in similar areas to the areas you’re interested in (for example, I do executive coaching and career coaching, but not as part of my 40 hour work week).

      In my experience, you need to get really, really clear about who your target market is and what their specific problems are that they need solved the most. Then you need to market yourself (whether that’s literal marketing add or just your elevator pitch at networking events/on LinkedIn, etc.) as the solution to those problems.

      So, for example, “leadership” is pretty vague – are you trying to coach people who are at the senior manager level who want to be promoted to director? Are you the consultant a company brings in when they’ve got a really talented VP who is unintentionally undermining himself through negative behaviors? Do you help fresh college grads with a degree in X land their first real job at Y type companies? What specific problems are YOU the solution for?

      If you’re not sure how to find out what your target market is or how you can help them, just start networking – reach out to people and ask about their career/leadership challenges and if they’ve ever used a coach or consultant for those things. If yes, how did that work out for them? If no, why didn’t they use a coach? What might’ve convince them to use a coach? Just look to learn from your target market, don’t try to sell at this point. This will help you get inside your target market’s head.

      You can also network with people who are doing the kind of consulting you hope to do and ask them how they got into it, if they have any advice, what are some of the unexpected challenges, etc. – again, just looking to learn.

      Second piece of advice is to start whatever it is you want to start on the side, and grow it from there, rather than starting by quitting your job (if you have one). This allows you to test out various paths and have a really solid foundation before you launch out on your own.

      Also – I have found Ramit Sethi’s material on starting a business and on networking to be very helpful. He does have some paid courses (which I have also found very helpful!) – but he offers most of his content free on his site and on YouTube. Just Google him.

      Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.

      1. 867-5309*

        Good advice from, Elizabeth.

        I will only second her comment that what you’ve listed is vague so be clear on what you do, who you do it for and how.

    2. RagingADHD*

      As a freelancer, I have written content for a couple of consultants/coaches who deal with leadership, professional development, and corporate culture. So I know it’s a thing.

      They seem to have transitioned into consulting by offering coaching to existing business clients who liked their approach. Then offering group trainings. And then doing public speaking or publishing a book or blog as marketing tools.

    3. pcake*

      I’m going to agree with Elizabeth. You have to communicate exactly what you have to offer and either know what you can offer your target group of find the group that is likely to need and use your skills/knowledge.

      I’ve been freelance since 1996, and many of my long-term clients were recommendations from other clients. I’ve helped people set up their first websites or helped them define the mission of their sites so it’s not just a place marker with some marketing text. I’ve helped set up management, acted as unofficial HR, worked with designers, trained a variety of people, figured out mission statements, marketing, done editing and copy writing, but it almost all started from one magazine ad when the web was young (in 1996) and grew from there.

      In my experience, word of mouth is the best way to find work, but that may be industry-specific, as I’ve mostly worked within two industries. But to get that first couple of clients, read and re-read Elizabeth’s letter, and if you lose focus, read it again.

  3. Not_Kate_Winslet*

    I have been invited to interview for a job that a year ago would have been my dream job, but now – in a COVID world – could be a nightmare.

    I work for a public health agency that has pivoted to 100% COVID response since March. I report to a section manager who oversees five units. This person sets the tone and performance expectations for our state, and represents us on the national level. I am in a middle management position, supervising one of those units. In the Before Times, our focus was something completely unrelated to respiratory illness, but something that affects everyone (cute and appropriate footwear epidemiology, let’s say). I’m professionally and personally very passionate about [cute and appropriate footwear epidemiology]. I’ve made a name for myself locally and nationally, and I’m recognized as a leader in the field.

    Our section manager position has been filled by an acting position for more than two years. Now – in the middle of a freaking pandemic – HR has decided to fill the position permanently. I submitted an application, and was chosen for an interview (along with 3 others), but I am conflicted about whether to go through with it. We’re likely going to be in COVID mode for at least another year, if not two. In addition to all of the craziness of working through COVID, my personal mental health capacity is stretched super thin (I know that’s not abnormal right now).

    My organization is very flat, and has very slow turnover for leadership positions. This may be an opportunity that doesn’t come around again for a long time. I have a strong suspicion that the person in the acting role will be chosen anyway (and the hiring process is just an act to satisfy HR), but if they aren’t? Ugh.

    Any thoughts or advice on how to talk myself into approaching this interview with enthusiasm? Is that even the right approach right now or should I listen to the voices in my head saying “it’s all for show, and you don’t need the extra stress right now anyway.”

    1. Katie*

      Are you good at finding the bright side in things? Because you never know- the new position might be something you absolutely love.

    2. Secretary*

      I’m with Katie. If you haven’t been to the interview yet, then use it to help you make up your mind. Have enthusiasm for what the position COULD be in your life, and use the interview to give you important data on whether it’s a good move for you right now.

    3. Red Tape Producer*

      I’m in a similar-ish situation (less of an actual health risk versus interviewing for contract roles to escape the instability of my current contract role).

      I’m still accepting interview requests for jobs I’m not sure about, and I’m talking myself into doing them as “research” for when a genuine opportunity comes up. There’s no real reason to turn down an interview, just an offer if one comes. Best case: you wow the interviewers, kindly turn down the role without burning bridges, and remain in their minds as a standout candidate when a similar role opens up in the future. Worst case: you blow the interview or they take the rejection badly, but you at least have a better understanding of what they are looking for in a candidate and will be better prepared for the future role.

    4. Wintergreen*

      It sounds like you have been at your job for a few years at least. If that is the case then interview experience couldn’t hurt. Could you go into it with more of a “this is good experience” or “this is a good skills refresher”? And if you really don’t think you’ll get the job and you go in with a mind-set of learning, would that ease some of the stress?

    5. MissGirl*

      I would interview. If you don’t get an offer, great, you don’t have to make a decision and you won’t waste time wondering what if. If you do get an offer, you will have a better idea from the interview process of what the job will entail and that may make the decision easier one way or the other.

      You’re in a great position in that you can take this job or leave it. That will give you more confidence in asking the important questions and really digging into whether this is right for YOU.

    6. Mockingjay*

      If you were Ruler for a Day, post-COVID, what would you do in this position?

      Think long-term about the things you want for staff, for performance, for recognition. What’s broken that you’ve been waiting to fix? What’s going well that you want to promote/expand? How would you lead the department into bigger and better things? If you do become higher management, would you have to let go of the footwear? Giving up tasks you enjoy can be hard.

      Your answers will tell you whether you truly want this position.

    7. LQ*

      From a purely practical standpoint. If your boss the acting person finds out about you applying and being interviewed are they likely to hold it against you (I mean OF COURSE they wouldn’t, but realistically, is this person sure they are the best fit and likely to retaliate subtly and box you out)? If so and with everything else you’ve said I’d skip it. If you think the person is at least somewhat reasonable and you are professionally friendly with them then I’d go into it thinking that this is a good chance to demonstrate your skill, even if options don’t come around often you don’t know what new ones may come up or how things may be restructured due to COVID and the funding and resources around that so it’s worth doing and maybe taking a little …break? from COVID and thinking about your expertise.

      1. Katrinka*

        I think that may depend on where the acting person came from and the company culture. If they were moved up to hold the acting position and were a peer to NKW, they should expect that peers would apply. If a number of internal people apply for open positions, I think the acting person is less likely to hold it against NKW. Usually when a company is flat, there are a lot of internal applicants, since there are limited opportunities to move up within the company, so their choices are apply or look outside.

      2. Paulina*

        It’s often a bad idea to not apply for a job just because you don’t want to compete with someone else that you expect to be up for it. They may not be! And if the acting person is really best, then (especially with the additional advantage that an acting appointment often brings) there shouldn’t be a problem with the LW also applying (and in this case continuing with the interview). It doesn’t have to be taken as the LW not supporting the acting manager, not unless that person is very insecure, and even if you think you won’t get the job it’s still reasonable to apply for the experience and to make it clear that you want to be considered for promotion. Withdrawing may also send the reverse signal, that you’re not interested. Around here withdrawing would be a sign that people are demoralized by excessive acting-to-permanent appointments, admittedly.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I had the problem of “all show” at one company I worked for. I am here to say watch out for this pitfall.

      There was a lot of grapevine rumor that someone was picked out for the job and interviews were just a show. This happened with all too many of the jobs that came up. So I did not go.
      Looking back, I should have applied if nothing else it would signal interest. It might have helped me get to know other people in the company. I might have gotten into conversations that lead to something else later on.

      I think if you don’t want the job, that is fine. But if your main reason for not applying is because you think it’s a show, then go ahead and apply. This is tricky because I talked myself out of wanting jobs just because the rumor mill said someone else was a shoe-in. Looking back, I am sure that the rumors were started by people who wanted others to stay in place and not change jobs.

    9. Hi there*

      The acting person may well have it sewn up, but the conversation might lead to exciting new possibilities for you. I’ve been inspired lately by reading “The Biggest Bluff” and was really struck by a passage in which the author described how playing it safe has costs too. I didn’t mark it in the book, but this one comes close: “Any idiot can win any given hand with the best cards. That’s not the point of poker. You get dealt the best cards only every so often, and if you wait for them every time, your chips will run out.” Here you might not win the whole pot (the job) but you might get ahead in chips (your career or interesting new projects).

      1. Jackson Codfish*

        Agreed! One of my coworkers once applied for a LNT internal job about two levels above. He wasn’t qualified, but he so impressed the higher-ups in the interview that he was quickly promoted to the next level. Wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t had the gumption.

    10. Esmeralda*

      If you are offered the job but at that point don’t want it, will that be detrimental to your career at this employer?

      If the interview leads you to say NOPE, can you withdraw from consideration without repercussion?

      Do you know enough about the job to be sure you don’t want to do it?

      Can you stand it for a year or two and then leave this employer when the economy (maybe) improves?

    11. Anono-me*

      Another person saying to apply. ( Unless applying will push your stress level to far into the red zone.)

      Be enthusiastic about the position. But use the interview (and any connections than can ethically share) to find out more about what exactly the new position will look like for the next 1, 3, and 5 years. Then see how you feel about it.

      The optimist in me says -Maybe it will be better for your stress levels in the new position than in the current position. Often times most of my stress comes from the inability to make what I think are the best choices. Maybe this new position will give you an opportunity to make better choices for everyone and thus reduce your stress and everyone else’s.

  4. Less Nosy*

    Ahh, yay! I’ve been waiting all week for this! I need some advice on whether I can take a job off my resume.

    I graduated from college with my BA seven years ago and have been at my current job for six. Before starting my current job, I had a job that was… not what I expected it would be. Think, “llama groomer” title but “llama poop scooper who gets yelled at my the llamas and made to cry every day” in actuality. This job also had a pretty high turnover rate, I later learned. I did good work while I could, but after about five months I couldn’t do it anymore and my manager, who was mostly supportive of me, gently mentioned to me that it perhaps wasn’t the right fit. I agreed and turned in my notice. Luckily, I got another job the next month, and have moved up from “alpaca assistant” to “alpaca assistant manager” in my six years here, with many accomplishments.

    I’m looking to start job searching, but I need to update my resume. I’m wondering if it would be okay for me to take the llama groomer job off now, but it will leave what looks like a year-long gap between graduating and starting the workforce. How important would that gap be to someone looking at my resume?

    I also don’t want to use that manager as a reference, since he basically encouraged me to leave and with the high turnover I don’t even know if he remembers me. I have my college mentor and current non-boss coworkers who have overseen some projects of mine listed as references.

    I have another post-grad job that I’ve left off of my resume because it was even more of a bait and switch from the first job, but that only lasted a month before I started the llama groomer job.

    Thanks in advance, commentariat!

    1. musician*

      I vote to take it off. Sometimes it takes people a while to find a job after graduation! I don’t think it would look off to interviewers. If asked about what you did during that time (although I don’t think you would be), perhaps you could say you worked a couple of short-term jobs while looking for an opportunity in your field?

      1. lemon*

        Agree with this. I leave my similarly awful first post-grad job (that I had for a year) off my resume and it’s never been a problem.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Same. I was asked one time whether or not I worked for the two years after I graduated (in ‘09 no less), and I just explained that I graduated into a recession and only found a job almost exactly a year after graduating, but that job doesn’t have anything to do with my current career trajectory, so I leave it off. The HR rep who asked found that to be an acceptable answer, and I was passed along to the hiring team. It never came up again.

    2. Not_Kate_Winslet*

      I think in this situation, especially since it was right after you finished school, you’d be totally fine removing the first job from your resume. Go for it!

    3. Aquawoman*

      I think it’s fine to take it off, and I’d recommend being ready to answer a question about the time period in case it is asked.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        You may be asked in an interview to put it back on, FYI. I got in trouble with an HR rep for taking mine off.

        1. Carrotstick21*

          Hi – HR person here. That’s absurd, and I HIGHLY encourage people to remove the year of graduation from their resumes. It can be used to estimate age, since most people go to college after high school and graduate around 21-22 years old. We want to know about years of experience, which is different from age, and so indicators of age should be removed.

    4. Elizabeth I*

      I think leaving it off would be fine.

      As an alternative, depending on the time of year you left the old job and started the new, you could also just list years without months on your resume for each job.

      If the first job spanned over a year end (e.g. September to January), and you started your new job in the new year, it wouldn’t look as bad at a glance.

      Llama Groomer – 2008-2009
      Alpaca Assistant 2009-2011

      Or – if old job ended and then you started your new job in the new year
      Llama Groomer – 2008
      Alpaca Assistant 2009-2011

      But leaving it off works fine as well, I think.

      1. JustKnope*

        I think including months is fairly important on a resume, I would not advise leaving the months off! That just looks odd, and doesn’t solve the problem of it being not a job she wants to discuss with hiring managers.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          +10000

          Was the Llama Groomer from Dec 2008 to Jan 2009, or was it Jan 2008 to Dec 2009? Those are two very different things.

          Months need to be included, or you look like you’re hiding something.

    5. Stephanie*

      I think it’s ok to leave it off! You were only there five months, if I read correctly and it was your first job out of college.

      1. Stephanie*

        And you’ve been at the current job six years, so it’s not like the old llama groomer role is the *only* thing on your resume.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This. Once you have longer-term stays somewhere, short tenure jobs can come off the resume without too much issue.

    6. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      i say take it off. it isn’t uncommon to have a small gap after graduation. not everyone finds a job right away.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Leave it off.

      I got a job in between OldExJob and Exjob that only lasted two months.
      1. I was only supposed to cover the front desk one day a week, but the receptionist claimed a bad back and took multiple days, which meant I found myself doing her job most of the time instead of mine. I couldn’t even do my work from her desk, as the software wasn’t installed, and I never knew when I arrived which job I would be doing.
      2. The hiring manager lied to my face in the interview about the amount of sales involved.
      3. This was the job with the Coworker from Hell (who, in retrospect, could have been the reason the receptionist took off so much).
      4. Nothing I did there was “right.”

      Finally my boss’s manager and I agreed we should mutually part ways. I never put it on my resume and no one has ever asked.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I think you could leave it off but I am not sure why you have an issue with it being on there – I wouldn’t think that having one 5 month role would do you any harm when you’ve since had a much longer period with one employer, and after that length of time I wouldn’t expect a reference to be more than a confirmation that you worked there.

      1. Less Nosy*

        It’s not so much that I have an issue with it being on there, just that I would love to use the space to talk more about experience and accomplishments at my current job :) Sorry for not being clear!

        1. Bagpuss*

          In that case, I would absolutely take it off and use the space!
          I focussed on the mention of it being 5 months and thought you were concerned about looking like you were job hopping

    9. Quill*

      I don’t think either decision is going to make a huge difference either way, since both irrelevant and shitty jobs in the first year after college are super common, but if the llama groomer job is relevant to your BA or your current position, I’d leave it on.

      If the previous job was “goldfish measurer” and the new one is “Basketball deflater” it might be more beneficial to leave it off.

    10. AP*

      I’m going to go against the grain of most of these comments and say I’d leave it on since you worked there for several months. I think unless you’re space constrained or worried that listing older jobs may bring up age discrimination issues, there’s little reason to leave any substantial experience off. A while back someone wanted to leave college bachelors degree off their resume!

      If you do decide to take it off, I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but I do think you could run into some situations where it may trip you up. You could possibly get a question about the gap or what if someone asks “So this is the only job you’ve had since you graduated?” Then you have to go into a long-winded explanation about why your resume doesn’t mention the other job.

      If someone does ask you about it, just say “It was a shitty job I had right out of college,”(although not in so many words). Lots of people have those. And I doubt anyone will insist on a reference from your old manager. At worst they’ll call HR and just verify your employment.

      1. lemon*

        One reason I could see for leaving it off is if it’s a role that would pigeonhole someone into certain duties they’re not interested in. My first post-grad job was doing customer service and administrative support. I’m currently transitioning to work in tech. As a woman of color, I don’t like to show that I have customer service or administrative support experience, because then that work tends to get dumped on me, and I no longer have interest in it. As Alison frequently mentions, your resume is a marketing document. If a role doesn’t help you market yourself, and you have other substantial experience, there’s no reason to include it.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Drop it. Nobody cares at this point.

      If anyone asks about the gap, you can just say, “I had some short-term work to pay the bills, but it wasn’t relevant to what I’m doing now.”

      They will assume you were a barista or something, but there’s no shame in that, and it’s more common than not for new grads to have a stopgap job (or several) before getting underway on their career path.

    12. 867-5309*

      I agree with those who state that you should just remove it from your resume.

      That said, you need a reference who has been senior to you in an organization. If not a former manager, then someone who is senior at your current place of work.

    13. Annony*

      I don’t know that it matters either way. You were there for less than a year over 6 years ago. I don’t think it would be so strange to have the job listed and not have your former manager as a reference. If asked about it you could honestly say “I’m not sure he would even remember me. That job has a high turnover rate and it was six years ago.” It also doesn’t sound like he would torpedo a job offer if contacted. It’s not like he has a grudge against you. It was simply not a good fit (a common story right after graduation).

      Neither year gap after graduation nor not listing your manager of less than year from 6 years ago as a reference would raise a red flag for me.

    14. Nacho*

      I asked the same thing a few weeks ago, and the advice I got was to leave off short jobs from half a decade ago unless they’re super relevant to your new position.

  5. musician*

    Given that I’ve been basically unable to do my usual work as a musician and non-essential healthcare worker for the last six months and neither job has any likelihood of returning in the immediate future, I’m exploring options of what I can do in the meantime. I’m not interested in totally changing career paths, but have come up with the idea of starting to do freelance editing, with the possibility of continuing in some capacity even after my other work returns. I’ve made the decision to focus on editing dissertations, journal articles, and other academic papers in APA style, as this is closely related to my healthcare job and is something my skills are very strong in and I enjoy- I’ve just never done it professionally. I’ve talked to someone who does similar editing, have learned about the websites people use to find this kind of work, and have talked through pricing structures. Yet I’m having a little imposter syndrome and am so nervous to dive in because it’s so new to me! If there’s anyone who has done similar work or used this type of service, I’d love to hear any advice/tips you might have, since the best way I deal with imposter syndrome is by gathering more information!

    1. KatK*

      I can’t advise on editing specifically, but on imposter syndrome. Years ago when I was still a musician I picked up freelance copywriting (mostly content marketing, like corporate blogs) and went through the same thing!

      For me it helped to (a) take a Udemy course that made me feel more confident in my skill level and more importantly in using the industry jargon (b) do some “test” projects at a low fee rate to get my feet wet and get a couple of real samples in my portfolio and (c) just have some patience…once I started actually working with people it became clear that even with my small amount of experience, I had a LOT more knowledge and skill than the people who were hiring me…that’s why they were hiring me!

      Not sure if anything like this would be available to you but I also did some subcontracting for an agency, which was great because I could ask for actual feedback in a way I couldn’t from my direct clients.

      Good luck! You’ll be great!

    2. Squeakrad*

      I don’t know if this is of interest in the same way, but I live in the San Francisco Bay area and while we are filled with people who do exactly what you’re describing, one huge unmet need is for international students in the healthcare field to get help with their writing and editing. Not just essays etc. – think graduate nurses who are writing masters thesis for a masters in nursing or Masters in public health etc.I think there’s a huge market for folks like yourself who are interested in working with those students – and in the case of healthcare professionals coming here from abroad, they often have good jobs and can pay a decent hourly rate.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Make sure you have a contract and get some earnest money up front.
        Make sure you know the name and contact info of your client’s thesis supervisor.
        Understand that if the client’s english language skills are weak, you are going to work more hours than you expected when bidding the job — I’d ask for a sample of the work you’d be asked to work on, and include a clause in your contract about exactly what you are going to do for the client. Because they may expect you to fix highly non-standard English.

        I’m not aiming to beat up on international students. I did this kind of work freelance in grad school for awhile, and these were some of the situations I faced. (I was glad I had contact info for one student’s thesis advisor because she wouldn’t pay — I got the money when I stated I would report her refusal to pay to her advisor, who would take a rather dim view of her lack of integrity.) Over all it was very rewarding work.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I proofread papers for various colleagues (I’m one of the few native speakers in the department). Definitely ask for a sample – it can vary from needing to tidy up prepositions and articles, to needing to completely re-write it, with regular consultations to figure out what they actually mean to say. I’d say Masters’ students coming from abroad are likely to end up on the complete re-write end of things, particularly if their undergrad was not in English (or in a not very writing heavy discipline).

          Also be clear of the level of final product you’re offering. When I proofread for colleagues, the level I’m aiming for is good enough to get by the editor, with the meaning is clear – so the result can be stilted, but understandable and grammatically correct. Producing something that sounds like a native speaker wrote it, or is well written, is a lot more intensive work.

      2. musician*

        This seems like something to look into, thanks! I appreciate the additional thoughts from Esmeralda, JobHunter, and AcademiaNut, as those are things I probably would not have thought to consider but would definitely affect a lot of aspects of the job, and probably my satisfaction…

    3. Elizabeth I*

      Way to go finding a way you can pivot directions during these unusual times! That’s impressive.

      Can you start by just getting one client and seeing how it goes? Sometimes just diving in and trying it out can build a level of confidence that all the ahead-of-time thinking and planning and learning and strategizing simply cannot give you.

      If it helps take the pressure off, you could always tell yourself that if you totally fail (which is very unlikely!), you will just offer the client a refund – no harm done. (Obviously don’t say this out loud to the client…it’s important to clients to feel confidence in your work, and your personal internal worries are not something they actually want to know. So sharing your worry would actually be a disservice to the client, or a way of ignoring their needs). You could also offer your first client a satisfaction guarantee of some kind, if that feels better to you.

      Good luck!! You’ve got this.

      1. musician*

        Thanks! It actually seems obvious now that I’ve thought of it, since I’ve loved editing since middle school and went through a short phase of wanting to be an editor (before deciding on music instead).

        I like the idea of a test project, which another commenter mentioned as well. I agree that it would probably give me quite a bit of confidence to just dive in. And I may be able to find an acquaintance in academic who would let me use them as my guinea pig. I’m definitely going to think about doing this.

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      Although we’ve recently shuttered the arm of our business that hires freelance editors, we did so for many years and have worked with dozens of editors across many hundreds of projects. I think any sort of online class would help you gain the mechanical skills you need. But the imposter syndrome often comes from not knowing all the little things that are mostly gained from experience. Here are some of those things, IMHO. If you get ahold of these concepts, I think that will go a long way in feeling like a “real” editor as opposed to an imposter. And you can hit the ground running already doing things that seasoned editors do. (Apologies in advance if some of this is already known to you; your post didn’t indicate the level of experience you already have.)

      * Understand the level of editing requested for the job. If the person hiring wants a light edit, assume that means they want a light edit. They do not secretly want you to massacre the writing and will not thank you for doing that even when they asked you not to. If you feel strongly that a different level of editing is necessary, discuss that with them before you undertake the edit. They may change their minds. But they may not. Either way, go with whatever they’ve asked for.

      * Remember to edit the WHOLE product (unless you’ve specifically been instructed not to). Everything is a part of the product: the title page, the table of contents, the acknowledgments, the author bio, the footnotes, the subheads, the chapter titles, the references, the bibliographies, everything. Newbie editors often breeze past all that stuff in order to focus on the “real text”. But it’s all real text.

      *On a related note, be aware that authors are not always clear on when they’ve written a manuscript or notes towards a manuscript, and will often shift back and forth between the two. For example, they may treat the table of contents as just a list of chapters, but that’s not what a table of contents is, and it will be your job to turn it into an actual table of contents–that is the actual document that will be printed or submitted.

      * Understand the requirements of the publishing outlet, whether that’s an academic press, a university department, or a journal. The outlet will have certain ways they want things prepared and submitted. Learn those requirements thoroughly.

      * Know your role in the whole process. If you end up editing for journals, books, and other formal publishing platforms, the more you know about the whole process–and where you fit within it–the more effective you’ll be. You’ll be less likely to inadvertently do things that will annoy a typesetter, a project manager, a proofreader, an indexer, a coder, or a printer.

      * Get good at supporting documentation. Seasoned editors are good with style sheets, markup code sheets, author queries, and whatever else is needed to support the ongoing process. Amateur editors consider those things afterthoughts.

      * Keep in mind that it’s not your writing, it’s theirs. Your job is to prepare the best version of the author’s writing, in their voice, in a manner that makes it easier for the publisher to take it to press. Your job is not to turn the writer into a different person or to substitute their voice with yours.

      Hope this has been helpful. Good luck with your new adventure!

      1. musician*

        Wow, this is super helpful. Thank you so much! I’ve only done casual editing (of peers’ and professors’ papers in graduate school, and various documents since then), so some of your tips were things I knew and had thought about, and some were things that I definitely would have had to discover along the way instead. I appreciate you taking the time to pass along all of this valuable advice!

    5. Cakeroll*

      You should consider reviewing the AMA style as well, and being open to medical education editing. There’s a huge opportunity for freelance editors to proofread and copyedit medical education materials – publications, online learning (which is surging right now!), etc. Many use APA, but many also use AMA.

      Depending on what your non-essential healthcare field was, you might make a pointed attempt at connecting with the professional association(s) associated with that field. If it was cardiology for example, try to reach out to Education or Publications department staff (through LinkedIn or, if they make email addresses public on their website, email) at the ACC, ASPC, etc. and see if they could use some help editing their materials. Some larger organizations do it internally, but most that I’ve worked at or in are entirely dependent on freelancers, and are always interested in growing their pool of available folks.

      1. musician*

        That’s an interesting idea that I hadn’t considered. I don’t really have much experience with AMA (as opposed to APA, which I know like the back of my hand), but maybe it would be worth diving into it. I’m in a small allied therapy field, so I’m well connected with the association and know some of the publications folks, but never gave much thought to who actually does the editing of the journals and other publications. Sounds like I should ask around a bit. Thanks for the suggestions!

    6. Sam Foster*

      This may sound a little nuts but screw imposter syndrome. My way of fighting it is to go for it and it’ll either be proven wrong or right and 99% of the the imposter syndrome is a liar.

      1. musician*

        Honestly you’re probably right! I just like having ALL THE INFORMATION, so when something is more of an unknown that’s when my doubts start surfacing. I think I do need to just dive in and figure the rest out as I go. Thanks! :)

  6. Skipper*

    What do people think of the blurb below, which is in one of my colleague’s emails, on every response, and in a bright color above the signature?

    “More often than not, my responses are short – just few lines of relevant information. Kindly know that this means no disrespect to you. I have hundreds of emails to respond in a day therefore, I keep it short for quick and timely responses. Kindly excuse this. – Thank you!”

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        Probably part of their signature and verbose because that is the way the people they work with communicate.

    1. roundround*

      I am an anxious person who likes to over explain but this is taking it too far. Most emails are short and timely no one would think anything of it.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I would have to disagree with you. Some people do take offense with “terse” emails. Emails such as “Yes.”, “Do it.”. with no greeting or closing. If you search this site, you will see that are cases of this that people have written in about.

        1. roundround*

          You can be short without being terse. You can say ‘yes, thank you.’ If someone takes an issue with a short polite email not some florid prose then the problem is them.

          1. Former Conservative*

            Yeah, I’m terse by nature but try to keep it casual. Let’s move forward with that! Sounds good! Sure thing!

            And I usually put a “let me know if you need more info” type thing at the end of the email to make it less terse.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              The other day I was replying to a yes or no question from a client. At first I just typed “Yes.” Then I realized that seemed a little terse. So instead I said, “Yes, that’s correct. Thanks! -RJ”

              In my head, simply saying yes and not adding any kind of pleasantry might make my client think I was annoyed at the question. That’s the last thing I want!

              1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

                My husband texts like this and my daughter and I always think he’s annoyed, even though 99% of the time he’s not!

        2. Quill*

          At the very least you should make sure to specify your action items.

          “Yes, please send alpaca wool” is a much better email than “yes” especially when you interact with the person ordering wool for other questions, like “did this garment need llama, alpaca, sheep, or yak wool?”

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I hate this person already. : )

      I think that is annoying. If your response covers what is needed, then it’s the perfect length. Shorter is better. If I write three paragraphs to give you the background of a situation so you can approve me proceeding with XYZ, all I need from you is, “Yes.” I’m certainly not offended that someone doesn’t write back three paragraphs to me. This person is not that special. Lots of people get lots of email that they have to take action on, and it just seems like someone who is “soooo overwhelllmmmed” with all their email that they have to tell every single person they respond to how busy they are.

      1. anonymous 5*

        Yep. I knew someone who had the bright idea that they could “take control of their email” by answering messages only on specific days and times. They carefully crafted a several-line email signature that gave these details; I now forget whether they included some of the rationale in the signature text or whether they just went on about it in person at me.

        They tended toward the self-important (and “sooo overwhellllllllllmed”) in other ways, too; and I’m not actually sure how many people had repeated correspondence with them over email. So, in addition to being eyeroll-worthy in its own right, the signature may have been seen most frequently in one-off replies…*after* the point at which it might have actually been useful information to the sender of the incoming message.

    3. Not_Kate_Winslet*

      I’d find it annoying, personally. I wonder if they received feedback that their responses were too terse… but this seems like a strange solution.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        That’s what I’m thinking–they got their hands slapped for now being friendly enough or not having enough flair in their emails and this is a token response.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I can appreciate this explanation, but to have this attached to every single email response is a bit much.

    5. Lainey Lake*

      I’m guessing they’ve had some feedback that their responses can come across as unfriendly or disengaged and are trying to offset this. I think the general principle of the message is fine but the placement and coloured text does seem a bit much.

      1. Less Nosy*

        That’s what I’m thinking. I’m wondering if this person was given some constructive criticism on how their responses come across, and their solution was to that. I get being busy and sending short emails but it seems to be just… a generally accepted thing, at least in my industry.

        I personally think it’s overkill but it also makes me curious what career level this person is at and who has been telling them they come across as “disrespectful.”

      2. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I agree and strongly suspect that this person has gotten feedback that their emails are offensive, unfriendly or something similar. There are also people who find single work emails and the such offensive:

        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/07/is-it-rude-to-respond-to-emails-with-just-ok.html

        https://www.askamanager.org/2015/05/my-manager-says-im-too-abrupt-with-coworkers.html

        https://www.askamanager.org/2019/01/how-can-i-stop-freaking-out-if-i-get-a-curt-sounding-email.html

        I also recall one but I can’t find it where the person was reprimanded for not including a greeting and closing.

        My point being that this text in his email may be necessary in some places.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        But the response to that feedback should be to (slightly) modify their response style in general, not to include a strange and lengthy disclaimer that proactively apologizes just in case someone finds the response to be too terse.

        1. allathian*

          My guess is that the person is not a native English speaker and may come from a cultural or linguistic background where terse communication is the norm. They may think that completely remodeling their communication style is too much effort and are attempting to avoid doing so with that odd disclaimer. But the person who gave them the feedback about less terse communication being necessary should state that this template is not doing what the writer intends.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Now that I’ve noticed the misplaced “kindly” I see it EVERYWHERE.

        “I kindly asked him to move his vehicle from my foot.”

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, this. As a former ESL student it took me a while to understand the concept of “please”, because there’s no direct equivalent in my first language.

      3. Windchime*

        Yes, and the multiple “kindy”s make it seem a little passive agressive. It’s very eye-rolly to me. Like the person thinks they are too busy and important to just add the word “please” or “thanks” to their emails.

    6. Aquawoman*

      I’m seeing a lot of people finding it annoying but what it says to me is that either the person is too brusque for the email culture of the entity OR that there are some significant drama llamas that they have had to deal with. I’ve had people complain to me about (other people’s) emails which seemed perfectly innocent to me.

      1. CTT*

        I don’t know – what sets me off is not the implication that they might be too brusque but the “I have hundreds of emails to respond in a day.” A lot of people work in industries with high volumes of email, so whenever someone has a variation of that in their auto-reply, it comes off to me as “I am VERY IMPORTANT. So Important that I must tell you about it!”

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Yes. (terse reply)
        Dying to know the full story! (less terse reply)
        I also think it reads like there is a story behind it. I would like to know the full story but that is assuming it is not inappropriate information for me to have. If you do learn the full story – but without prying of course! – please do share with me. I mean no disrespect in my query! (oddly disrespectful answer because it is the opposite of terse).

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would be that it’s in response to feedback from their own supervisor or someone higher up that their e-mails were coming across as “too brusque.”

    8. Rachel in NYC*

      I think it’s better then the Betty Boop someone at my employed had in their email signature but still not necessary.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      I feel like this is a way of trying to get around a problem with communication rather than actually solving it.

    10. AGD*

      I’d shrug at it – but I work in higher education, where people’s email styles can be really idiosyncratic (and where students can get needlessly intimidated by terseness).

        1. Workerbee*

          That makes much more sense, then.

          I’d be tempted to advise her that, busy as she is, to create a version of her signature without those lines, change her settings so her signature isn’t automatically applied, then insert the appropriate one based on her audience. In Outlook at least, the whole process, once created, takes a mere second, though of course one’s perception may vary.

          I have three signature choices I set up: a full, all-contact-data-possible one, a modified one where I only include my name/position/org, and an equally brief one just for replies (where needed). Cuts down on making people scroll past multi line email sigs in those longer email chains, plus I don’t always want to give out contact info beyond my email.

          1. Pamela Adams*

            I do the same- I have the ‘full signature’ version and the ‘name only’ version for replies.

        2. blaise zamboni*

          Yes, this makes way more sense. I still think it’s a little over-the-top, but lots of students are very anxious about the dynamic with their professors and will avoid reaching out because of it (rightly or wrongly). The language could be changed but I think it’s overall a nice lesson in “business norms” laid out clearly for people who likely have no prior context. It’s not clear if this is new for her, or if your campus is doing in-person or distance learning right now; if all her classes are online for the first time, she might be trying to reassure students who won’t get the casual interaction in classes that they otherwise would, in the hopes that they’ll still feel as comfortable approaching her?

          That said, yes, +100 to Workerbee. If this is meant to reassure students, it should be directed at…students. Her colleagues shouldn’t know that she’s doing this at all. As evidenced by the other replies in this thread, that message directed at non-students is likely to annoy and distract everyone else she works with. It is so easy to set up multiple signatures. If you figured out how to add one, you’ve figured out how to add more than one. Seems really silly that she’s including it for everyone.

    11. Hiring Mgr*

      Seems unnecessary but not really a big issue. I doubt this person just came up with this on their own, as others have mentioned most likely they were chastised for terse communications or the like..

    12. Stephanie*

      I think it’s very annoying. And ironic, to boot, telling people that you keep responses short and to the point in such a wordy way.
      It would highly irritate me every time I saw it.

    13. Stephanie*

      This is weird. Like others, I think this person must have been talked to about terse replies. I’ve definitely sent my share of terse replies (isn’t this the the aim of email?).

    14. Rainy*

      …Someone in another division of my org has this in their email. I just searched. It’s exactly this. Is this a common thing people are copying from some super dated netiquette manual?

      Does your colleague also do it in purple for some completely bizarre reason?!

      1. Skipper*

        Do we work in the same org? Because yes, it’s in purple. And it is in quotes. I didn’t add those. Maybe it is a thing? But 45 comments above and no one else called that out.

    15. Another prof*

      The only thing that struck me as odd about it was the repetition of “kindly,” because it’s actually quite similar to something a colleague has as part of her email signature.

      I am in higher ed, so my norms are eccentrically calibrated. But maybe it’s good to know that in higher ed, this email notation is not particularly weird.

    16. What the What*

      It needs some serious editing, but it doesn’t bother me in principle. Especially if the person is actually getting hundreds of emails a day.

    17. Sam Foster*

      Rubs me the wrong way. If you’re communication style sucks (or is perceived to suck) telling people you know it sucks is basically telling me to “shut up and deal”

    18. Nameless Shark*

      I don’t think it’s necessary. My emails are pretty short too. My assistant once told me she thought I was mad at her and then she got to know me and realised this was just how I write my emails. It’s harder to convey friendliness over email compared to verbal communications; but you can still do it. I usually add short phrases like “thanks!” or “hope this helps” or a “Yes :)” so I don’t sound rude when sending short emails to people who don’t know me well.

  7. Fleur de Lis*

    I work with Jane. I don’t know if she likes causing drama, but I feel like I’m under a microscope at work. If she notices that I’m not talking, the boss will say, “Is everything okay, Fleur? Jane said that you seem upset?” Or while I was on antibiotics and was using the bathroom more. Once again, the boss said, “Are you feeling okay? Jane said that you’re going to the bathroom a lot.”

    I want to scream that Jane should mind her own business, but can’t do that. Jane was out on vacation for a couple of weeks and it was so peaceful- even my family and friends noticed that I seemed in a better mood. Now she’s back and at it again. I just don’t understand why she has to report on everything little thing that I do when it isn’t work related. (She probably does that too though…)

    Any advice on how to deal with this? Has anyone experienced something like this? What did you do?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, this is not entirely a Jane problem, this is a Jane + boss problem. Good grief. “Jane says that? Why does Jane care? Why do you care that Jane cares?” I mean, no, you can’t say that, but blame both of them.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      “Jane, I’m not sure why you feel you have to report my daily moods to Boss, but I’m asking you to stop.”

      “Boss, I’m finding that Jane is commenting to you on how she thinks I feel. This seems intrusive and gossipy to me. I hope that if you have a concern, you’ll talk to me instead of listening to Jane.”

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Boss is already talking to Fleur about it, that’s the problem…

        Maybe have the conversation with Jane, but don’t be that obvious with Boss. With Boss, use soft signals to show that you think Jane is being strange, like, raising your eyebrows while saying, “I’m fine! I don’t know why Jane would say that to you.” After 2 times, switch to “Why would Jane say that to you?” like you’re surprised she’d bring something so trivial to the boss. Become super boring and repetitive, and the boss will see Jane as crying ‘wolf!’ and eventually stop responding to her.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Nah, this is entirely too passive aggressive. While the boss may already be entertaining Jane’s mess, SunnySideUp’s direct messaging is way more clear here – please stop bringing gossip back to me. If I have a problem, I’ll let you know.

          All the hinting around you’re suggesting will go over many people’s heads. It’s better to just get it out in the open so that there’s no ambiguity that you want this behavior from both parties to stop.

      2. irene adler*

        “Boss, anything you need to know regarding my moods or issues I shall report to you directly. You have my assurance on that. Hence, there is no need to pay any heed to Jane’s observations on me or my moods or my issues. Nor is there any need to follow up on any of Jane’s observations regarding same. Thank you.”

    2. Just do it! It works*

      How about, “Oh really, I actually thought Jane seemed upset and I was just trying to keep things calm and quiet for her.” That said, the bathroom thing is WAY over the line and your boss should have shut that down immediately. It would be more than fair to tell your boss you’re uncomfortable with people monitoring your bathroom use!

    3. DarthVelma*

      You probably can’t scream at Jane, but I think you can certainly tell her to mind her own business. The bathroom thing is particular is so far over the line that it can’t see the line with a radio telescope.

      The next time this happens I would ask both Jane and your boss why Jane is monitoring your bathroom usage (or whatever similar ridiculous thing she’s doing). Just put it out there is the starkest terms so they have to face the fact that Jane is being ridiculous.

      1. SunnySideUp*

        Yes, ask them both to step into an office for a moment and say,” Jane, you seem to be keeping Boss informed on my daily activities, which is weird and intrusive. Can we all agree to stop? I’m sure if Boss has a concern, she’ll address it with me directly. No need for you to get involved!” (said cheerfully)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup, this. And really, I would have this conversation with both Jane and the boss at the same time so Jane can’t twist what I say to the manager as being an attack (because you know Miss Busybody will).

    4. I edit everything*

      “I don’t know where Jane is getting these ideas or why she’s bringing them to you, but they’ve always been way off base. I hope you know I’ll come to you if I have any issues we need to discuss.”

      1. Less Nosy*

        +1. That’s what my brain was trying to think of, but the idea of this situation even happening made my thoughts into one big pterodactyl screech.

      2. I’m screaming inside too!*

        I think this is the perfect wording to use. As for saying anything to Jane, I wouldn’t. Jane seems like a classic sh*t stirrer and I suspect part of the reason she’s going to your boss and not saying anything to you is to have plausible deniability. If you bring it up with her, I wouldn’t be surprised if she pretends that your boss misunderstood, or even that she didn’t say any such thing.

      3. Thankful for AAM*

        “I don’t know where Jane is getting these ideas or why she’s bringing them to you, but they’ve always been way off base. I hope you know I’ll come to you if I have any issues we need to discuss.”

        “. . . way off base. It is also oddly personal and gossipy and I prefer she stop monitoring my bathroom breaks and moods unless they impact my work.”

    5. Web Crawler*

      I haven’t experienced this at work, but my mom does the same thing and it puts me on edge. The way I handle it when I have to go home is to pick a neutral phrase and stick to it. Like “all good”. Eventually, she realizes that it’s pointless to keep asking and she’ll stop analyzing me for a little while before it starts again.

      Like I said, I haven’t experienced this at work. But if you wanted to have a conversation about it (which my partner needed to have with me), you might go along the lines of “You can trust me to talk to you if there’s something wrong. You don’t have to spend so much energy analyzing my behavior (or Jane doesn’t), because if there’s something for me to talk to you about, I’ll use my words”.

    6. Secretary*

      I would start with your boss. I like SunnySideUp’s script, if your boss is someone you’re worried about offending, you could soften it by asking your boss for advice, like, “I was hoping to get your perspective on something. Jane seems to be coming to you a lot to report on how she thinks I feel. It’s been very uncomfortable because most of the time what she reports to you isn’t accurate, it’s just me working differently that day. Is there something I’m doing that’s unprofessional in my interactions with Jane that you’re seeing?
      (No you’re fine)
      “Ok, I’m going to ask Jane not to do that anymore, would you mind backing me up if she does it again? It’s been feeling really intrusive and making me uncomfortable coming to work knowing my moods are being monitored without cause.”

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        This is the best script yet! Most of the others have sounded fine, but none of them exactly hit the spot for me. This one just nails it for me.

        Even though this is my favorite, I don’t think you’d go wrong with any of the other scripts I’ve seen here. You have lots to choose from now, and you know the situation and the people best, so go get ’em! *fist bump*

    7. The Rural Juror*

      I had a roommate like this once, there were 3 of us that lived in the house together and the third roommate was always commenting about how the other one was concerned for me. For example, I had a sinus headache and didn’t feel very friendly one day, so I told them I had a headache and needed some quiet time. Several MONTHS down the road, I had a tension headache from work stress, didn’t feel much like chatting that evening. The next day Roommate C tells me Roommate B is concerned about how many headaches I get, have I talked to a doctor? Like somehow having two unrelated headaches months apart is cause for serious concern.

      Do you feel like you can tell your boss that Jane’s monitoring of your daily habits is becoming worrisome and stressful for you? If you can find a way to say delicately that it’s disruptive to your work, then hopefully your boss will shut it down!

    8. Sue*

      How about some version of looking very confused, saying you don’t understand why Jane would say something like that, how strange it is..put the awkwardness back on Jane. Make it seem so odd and you are so surprised she would say such a thing. I think doing that a few times might point out the issue without you having to sound rude or cranky towards either Jane or Boss.

    9. Wintergreen*

      Talk to Jane and let her know that if she is ever concerned about you that she can approach you herself and that there is no need to go to the boss. (Don’t expect her to stop, it does sound like she enjoys causing drama.)

      After that, when boss comes up to you with something along the “Jane mentioned…” line you can pull out:
      “Boss, I’ve talked to Jane about bringing me her concerns but she just seems to go to you. I am becoming very uncomfortable with her monitoring my moods. I know it is coming from a place of caring but I feel like I can’t concentrate on a project without Jane becoming concerned I’m upset. It is really starting to effect me work productivity.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It isn’t coming from a place of caring though, so I’d leave that part out. If you start the premise of the problem off that way, the boss is more likely to ignore or downplay your pushback on Jane’s behavior because “she means well.”

        1. Wintergreen*

          By claiming that “it is coming from a place of caring” (even though you know it is not) you are negating the that argument. By preemptively bringing it up, the boss has a harder time coming back with “she means well” because you are point out that it is still causing issues even if that is the case.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            It’s not direct enough. If you want something to stop, you need to just say that and don’t add any additional stuff like this because some people (mainly conflict avoidant people) only hear the “good” part, so would completely miss the point you’re trying to make – this behavior is invasive and annoying, and I want it to stop and you to stop entertaining it.

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                How about changing “I know it is coming from a place of caring” to “Even though it may be coming from a place of caring”?

                Does that strike a better balance for you between being too blunt and direct and letting Jane off the hook because ehe supposedly “means well”?

          1. Fleur de Lis*

            It depends though. Sometimes my boss will ask me about it, other times she won’t. (I’ve heard Jane complaining about me and boss just calms her down.) No one is in trouble, so it’s difficult to know what to do about it for me. I just feel awkward.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Are you 100% sure the “concerns” are really originating with Jane? I saw the other comments that this sounds like the boss is borrowing authority in a way from a third party for her own concerns (faux or real) and my own mother does exactly this sometimes, using my Dad as the source of supposed concern.

          It might not matter as your best response is to handle this with the boss anyway, and you can use Jane as your out via some of the earlier script suggestions from I edit everything and others.

          1. Fleur de Lis*

            This is a good point, but Jane has reported on other people, so I think it is coming from her most of the time.

    10. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Jane said X.”

      “She did? What a weird thing for her to say. I wonder why she’d do that.”

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. Maybe combined with some of the language upthread about “If I have an issue to discuss with you, I’ll bring it up directly.”

        Jane is trying to get in the middle of your relationship with the boss, and your boss is accepting her as an intermediary.

        Do not validate her interference by engaging with it at all. Trying to address it just continues to center Jane, when you want your interactions with your boss to be a direct line.

        Note that it is wierd and inappropriate, and then dismiss it.

    11. Twisted Lion*

      Next time it happens Id go to Jane and say “Please speak with me directly about any concerns you have. You do not need to speak with Fleur without speaking to me first.”

      Set the boundary and the expectation.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Eh. Go back to Jane each time.
      “Jane, the boss said you were worried about me because I was quiet. So I just want you to know that I am okay and it is okay to ask me directly if I am okay.”
      “Jane, the boss said you told her I was in the bathroom a lot. So I just wanted you to know that I am okay and it is okay to ask me directly if I am okay.”
      Notice how you do not explain your behaviors, you just affirm that you are okay.
      Then to the boss, try to chuckle and say, “I have been telling Jane that she needs to ask me directly about these things rather than tying up your time with these non-issues.”

      1. RagingADHD*

        But OP does not want Jane monitoring her moods or bathroom usage at all. It’s not okay.

        I think this would just validate that Jane’s intrusiveness is legitimate or appropriate, when it is not.

  8. Gaia*

    I’m updating my resume and struggling how to articulate a few accomplishments at my current job. When I started, significant amounts of data for my team were tracked via email and in Excel (and PowerPoint – don’t ask…) I worked to get the necessary setup in Salesforce and transition the tracking and reporting into Salesforce.

    I also updated our quarterly reporting for the entire organization to update the visualizations of the data and transition to “data storytelling” vs pie graphs and bar charts.

    I don’t know why but I just can’t sort out the right way to articulate either of these concisely. Any help is appreciated!

    1. FriendlyCanadian*

      Don’t focus on what you did but what the results are – aka set up Salesforce saving x hours a week or something

      1. Gaia*

        I think that is where I’m left struggling (which is odd, I’m actually usually quite good at this part of the resume). It isn’t easy to translate this into quantifiable results with numbers. We use Salesforce because it is a single source of truth, more transparent, and more secure but it doesn’t necessarily save time and it certainly is not saving money. The visualizations were updated so the audience could better understand the “so what” of the data instead of just having their eyes glaze over as numbers were thrown at them with no context.

        I know why these things were done, and I know why they were great and necessary, but I’m struggling to explain to someone (especially someone not directly involved in data) why these are important accomplishments.

        1. Mockingjay*

          “Consolidated multiple manual tracking methods (list here) of Teapot Spout, Handle, Lid, and Body data into a seamless Salesforce repository. Repository is accessible to all team members for expediency and provides single authoritative source for data, eliminating errors from manual transcriptions. “

          1. Mockingjay*

            This could be a good item to talk about in your cover letter.

            I also like Mazzy’s suggestion below to talk about how you built the repository, if that’s relevant to your field. Was a six-months endeavor? What research did you do to decide how to put things together? Did you provide training for coworkers after the system standup? And so on.

            I think sometimes people want dazzling accomplishments in their resumes and letters. In reality, most businesses are looking for dedicated workers who provide methodical, reliable products that save time, money, and improve accuracy. Not glamorous but definitely valuable and wanted in an employee.

    2. Always Late to the Party*

      My suggestions are far from perfect, but maybe will help kick off some brainstorming

      “Implemented new CRM for team of X to streamline [specifics] processes and enhance transparency and security”

      “Revamped org-wide quarterly reporting visualizations for [specifics] to demonstrate impact of [more specifics]”

      1. Mazzy*

        The second one I like, but the first blurb ““Implemented new CRM for team of X to streamline [specifics] processes and enhance transparency and security” I wouldn’t keep. It’s well written but from the resumes I’ve screened too many people write things like this, and it’s really hard to gauge what the actually did or whether they are taking credit for a group project or even someone else’s efforts

        Personally my eyes perk up when I see anything that is personalized and definitely not copied or a boiler-plate item on a resume, because it show me how the candidate things and sort of proves that they actually did the work.

        I can’t personalize this for them but something more along the lines of “worked out data kinks while implementing Salesforce and experimented with various data visualizations to arrive at a set of reports that gave the most insight into why problems were happening”

    3. Fabulous*

      “Initiated and streamlined data tracking from multiple channels within the Microsoft Suite into a single Salesforce database.”

      “Reconceptualized the organization’s quarterly reporting, transitioning from using primarily charts and graphs to a more visual storytelling format.”

    4. Eberronguy*

      Focus on what you achieved with that transition. How much time and money it saved and all that.

      Also I am going to ask because I am utterly baffled by the idea of PowerPoint for tracking data and I really want to know how a company does that.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        My current company (a giant biotech) lives for PowerPoint. If you have a deliverable of any kind, it’s going to be a PowerPoint. I’m R&D and we do mostly one-off experimental stuff, so…yeah, there are a lot of spreadsheets emailed around, a lot of “no you want the version labeled final v4”, and related shenanigans. I can totally see a business department trying to operate that way, when what they really need is someone to teach them how to use a dashboard tool so they don’t have to assemble their reports by hand every time.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I had an instructor in grad school who sent out a template that he wanted us to use for a formal 35-page paper. It was a powerpoint file. I replicated its structure in Word when I submitted my draft and he didn’t say anything about it, so I turned the final paper in as a .docx instead of a .pptx, and got an excellent grade, so I don’t even know why he had it in ppt in the first place.

      3. Gaia*

        They wanted a map of client locations so someone created a slide deck showing maps with the number of clients in each state which they’d update manually periodically. It expanded to other data points from there.

        I almost died when I first saw that. I didn’t even acknowledge it existed. Nope, no data. Let’s start over and do it right this time haha.

  9. ThatGirl*

    Some good news for the week: My company announced they’re continuing “summer hours” into “fall hours” — it’s basically a shifted schedule, but allows us to work a little extra Mon-Thurs in exchange for being done at 1 p.m. on Fridays through the end of the year. It’s a small thing, and it costs them nothing, but it’s appreciated anyway.

    And my husband might FINALLY be getting his paycut reversed from 5 years ago (it was university-wide in response to a budget crisis; they’ve been dangling it in front of everyone as a “raise” for months, but it’s really just putting his pay back to where it was) … knock on wood.

    1. Gaia*

      That’s great! Maybe it can even just become “hours” for people that prefer that and be a year-round thing!

    2. Ali G*

      We did this too! Basically nothing has changed (kids still at home, no one is commuting) so we saw no reason to go back to “regular” hours.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I’m guessing parents helped drive this, there are a lot of folks with kids. Typically, Labor Day to Christmas is a very busy time for us, so I’m hoping our customer and consumer facing teams have plans to keep people happy, but overall it’s a net positive.

    3. Lyudie*

      Ooh a place I worked years ago did the summer hours thing to save on A/C costs and it was so popular that the second summer they decided to continue it. It was great. And they turned off most of the lights and shut down the A/C right at noon so they were serious about it.

      Crossing fingers for the pay cut reversal!

  10. Hills to Die on*

    I’m starting a new role and it’s a program manager / project manager hybrid. I’m talking to my boss later about what this looks like functionally but I’m curious if anyone else has had a job like this and how the duties are broken out. I may be doing projects but will have project managers reporting to me also. How does this work for you? Any pain points?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Is it a new role for your company?

      “I may be doing projects but will have project managers reporting to me also.”

      This is the problem. I have been agreed to assignments (twice!) in a program manager/project manager role where I just end up managing the program and all the projects under the program with no other project managers and only leads as the next highest level.

      So, 1.) make sure things are staffed well, and 2.) write up a good DOR between you and the PMs. (I realize that’s part of what you’re asking about, but since I do both roles, no good input from me.)

      Also, don’t accidentally become the longest-tenured PM in your department and end up with a bunch of other new support staff who also lean on you to tell them how to do their jobs. (Sorry, it’s been a Week.)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Generally, though, we do have DORs with three major categories describing who attends what meetings, directs what major activities/executes what tasks, and is responsible for what reporting. The DOR also indicates a hierarchy of alternates so people can theoretically take days off.

        We also have zipper plans with client/partner teams to direct communication to the right levels.

    2. Just a PM*

      My biggest pain point was the transition from being so hands-on with projects and getting daily (sometimes hourly) updates from developers to weekly updates from the project managers. There was a lot of self re-calibration to do the program management piece of my job and let the project managers do their projects. This was a hard thing for me to pivot to because I’m super Type A and efficient in my work so learning to let go of “that’s not the way I do it” to let people do their own thing was…maddening. (I took the frustration out on my treadmill.)

      My duties are broken out where it’s about 40% program manager, working with other project teams and tracking their progress to report to my boss, and 60% project manager on my own work. What has been helpful, especially in re-calibrating expectations, is that what I manage as a program and what I manage for projects are are very different from each other so my mindset literally needs to be different when I switch. (Some examples to help illustrate – at OldJob, I was the program manager for a contractor-developed/supported web application while also project manager, with gov resources, for our search database. At NewJob, I am program manager for some IT services that automate our work but project manager for HR-like tasks involving SOPs and processes.)

      1. TL -*

        My boss struggles with letting things go. She’s very high level and often doesn’t have the context to understand the nitty-gritty, so if she hears details about something she doesn’t understand, she gets concerned, gets more involved, and then the project gets backed up several weeks because she has multiple other high-priority needs that have to come first.

        When you need her to step in, she’s amazing – all that attention to detail and understanding how things work together makes her really, really good at her c-suite job and moving the organization forward as a whole. But when she randomly focuses in on the small stuff (which she does when she’s stressed) it gets frustrating for everyone – she’s frustrated that people aren’t telling her things and they’re frustrating because telling her things can cause unnecessary delays. (compounded on both sides by still figuring what belongs in the ‘need to know’ pile and what belongs in the ‘departmental noise’ pile, so she doesn’t hear about things she legitimately needs to know!)

        She is really good as a manager and at her job, but when that trait pops up, everyone gets low-key annoyed and starts managing up really quickly.

    3. Sam Foster*

      Done this. Turns out that the Program Manager / Project Manager is like the Business Analyst / Project Manager hybrid: two jobs for one low salary.

      Set boundaries now are you’re going to get buried.

  11. JuniperGlass*

    I’m in a two-year term position that is ending in a few weeks. Normally at my organization people are hired for temporary roles and then are either hired as full-time staff or get their contracts extended over and over again. However, for reasons that aren’t clear to me, that isn’t happening with my role – I don’t think it’s performance related, but my manager is terrible at communicating that kind of thing so who knows. I don’t yet have another job lined up though I’ve been searching for months.

    My manager recently mentioned that she wants to host a little “going away” zoom meeting with the people that I’ve worked with. These are people I’ve gotten along with really well and who have always said they valued my work. Just thinking about this meeting makes me cry. I don’t want to leave this role and had hoped to stay, and the prospect of being unemployed in this job market is incredibly stressful. I don’t know that I could get through a zoom meeting where lots of well-meaning people say they’re sorry I’m leaving and loved my work without either bursting into tears or screaming “Yes, I want me to stay too! Manager doesn’t want to keep me!” My manager seems to think that because it’s a term position with a set ending date, I shouldn’t be upset.

    I want to just send my colleagues an email with two weeks notice that I’m leaving, then just send an email on my last day thanking everybody, but that means there won’t be any kind of face-to-face goodbyes since we’re all working remotely. How do I handle leaving this job? Should I just white knuckle my way through this “going away” zoom party?

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        And good luck on the job hunt. I know it’s scary, but the job losses do seem to be concentrated in certain industries (in the US, so far). Hiring’s a little slower, but I’m still seeing about 80% as many job listings as I did this time last year.

    1. Alice*

      Your manager needs to learn that “doing a nice thing for someone” does not count if the recipient doesn’t want it.
      I agree with Jules. Also, I wonder if your colleagues, who have said they value your work, are aware that you are actively looking for new opportunities for similar work? If your manager has told people (or just let them think) that you are leaving because you want to (instead of because the company isn’t extending the contract), they might not pass along valuable networking info. So if you can find a way to share info about your job search, I think that would be good. Maybe not in the two emails to everyone though — I’d include that in thank you/let’s stay in touch emails to specific people.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your manager needs to learn that “doing a nice thing for someone” does not count if the recipient doesn’t want it.

        That part.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Tell your manager you love the work and your colleagues and you would prefer to stay so a going away zoom meeting is not a comfort and you prefer not to have one.

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

      I’m not sure how I’d handle the going away ‘zoom party’ although the other replies gave good advice.

      However although you didn’t really ask for it, I would urge you to try and talk to your manager proactively (i.e. initiated by you… since you say that she’s terrible at communicating things, but what happens if you engage with her directly?) – about how you’re a bit surprised your contract is coming to an end, even though obviously you were aware of the nature of contract work, because of what you’ve observed with how contract work happens in this company previously.

      … Is there any reason she’s aware of why it’s different for you, as “maybe it’s something I can work on for next time?” etc.

    4. cleo*

      I think your plan of sending out 2 sets of emails is a good one. And you can definitely tell your supervisor that you don’t want / don’t feel up for a zoom party.

      I just ended a 1 year contract last month. I’d hoped it would last longer but that didn’t happen because of a hiring freeze and new limit on contract lengths. I decided to focus on ending my contract really well – I wanted to leave on good terms with everyone I’d worked with and feeling proud of my work. And I feel like I did that. I sent a group good bye email and had several one on one calls with my closer colleagues. I also made sure to go to my last monthly virtual happy hour

      Since everyone knew my end date, I didn’t need send a 2 week notice email, but I like the idea of you doing that so that anyone who wants to get together with you for a virtual goodbye coffee (or whatever would be done at your office in person) has the chance to reach out to you.

      In my goodbye mass email on my last day I said something like “some of you have asked me what’s next. I’m still looking for my next role in X or Y, so please keep me in mind if you come across anything.” I also gave my contact info and talked about how much I’d loved working there and how proud I was of my work there (all true).

  12. Zoomed out*

    I haven’t done the physical part of my job since March, and after one day of barely-counts-as-physical-labor-if-even I am very sore. Any advice on easing back into moving things up and down all day when your body is out of practice?

    1. Not_Kate_Winslet*

      Are you doing any sort of exercise or physical activity outside of work? Maybe start with some light stretching or bodyweight exercises that can be done at home. Search YouTube for something like “exercises for sore back” or whatever your ailment is.

    2. IL JimP*

      I would try a few things:

      1. Take more short breaks than normal
      2. Make sure you’re being extra deliberate to lift things properly
      3. Drink lots of water
      4. Make sure you’re getting enough rest at night if you can so your body can recover
      5. Stock up on muscle cream :)

      good luck!

      1. Mockingjay*

        Great list!

        Add: Stretch before work. Stretch after work. Make sure you work all parts of your body; people tend to concentrate on the parts that hurt, but it’s all connected. Doesn’t have to be strenuous, just loosen things up.

    3. Rachel in NYC*

      No but I feel for you. I literally had to talk to a doctor last week about why my body was so sore.

      He told me it was because I was sitting so much and getting so much less exercise. That was great to hear…

      1. SarahKay*

        Ohhhh… thank you so much for this.

        I’d noticed I was generally more achey recently and of course what your doctor says does make sense. Pre-Covid I’d walk to work (3 mile round trip) and then walk around quite a bit at work. Now I walk to work (20 steps round trip!) and sit at my dining room table most of the day. Even the toilet is much closer than when I’m on site. I knew I needed to get back into walking more, but this really clarifies just how much so.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Having a dog really helps with this! I may forget to get up and move around (I really miss being able to take the stairs at the office) but he reminds me when we need to go for a walk.

    4. nep*

      Agree with Not_Kate_Winslet–make sure you’re getting some exercise on a regular basis.
      Also, warm up before your physical work. Every time I’ve strained myself working out or doing some heavy-ish physical work, it’s because I didn’t warm up properly.

    5. Nita*

      Sympathy! I had to do a big inspection and a long drive yesterday, and my legs are killing me. I thought I’d been staying in shape, but I guess not.

    6. anonymous 5*

      I have taken to inching back into shape by doing 5min “mini-workouts.” Usually that means 1 minute each of 5 different exercises (squats, crunches, wall-pushups etc). They’re pretty good for extracting my derriere from the desk chair, and they work! Maybe 5min worth of stretching/replicating some of the motions without weight?

    7. None The Wiser*

      I use a yoga app and even if I can’t do a full blown practice on a particular day, I try to do at least 15 minutes of stretching.

      The particular app I use offers different types of practices–more active full-on yoga with all the poses, or more passive stretching exercises where you never even get off the floor. In addition, you can select if you want to focus on a particular body part (upper body strength, core strength, low back stretches, hip flexor stretches, etc.). You can set the session length, select the music, etc. Every session is different.

      It’s helped me to stay in ok shape throughout the weirdness. Not in top shape, but I’ve been able to do some more strenuous exercise without any ill after-effects.

      You can probably find some YouTube videos with low-impact stretching exercises.

  13. any suggestions*

    Any suggestions. This has been on my mind for the last two months. This is long.

    I’ve gotten myself into a jam. 5 years ago I started volunteering for a small organization. Literally the 7 board members are the non-profit. I am Vice President however our President has a personal situation for the next few months so I’ve become the defacto President. We very rarely get any volunteers since our cause has bigger well known organizations that help.

    Myself and Board member A are the “newbies”. 2021 will be A’s first full year. Board members BCDEF have been volunteering for 6-8 years. A and I have gotten friendly outside of the organization. Sometimes over a cup of coffee if it comes up naturally in conversation, we’ll bounce ideas off one another and bring them up to the rest of the group and ask their opinion. BCDEF are closer, having worked together for years, they do the same. F is our absent President. We all get along; we often have a social, not non-profit related, happy hour together.

    We are gearing up for 2021, realizing that this is going to be a unique year with covid. We had an early stages planning in-person meeting two months ago. This was ok with COVID regulations. We had a miscommunication between some of the board members.

    During the 2021 in-person meeting BC found an amazing external resource and tried to see if that resource could come work with us. It was mentioned during the meeting that this was in the works.

    A had an idea for another resource and texted us the next week. A also was working on some other tasks for the non-profit and was asking some general information about the internal workings of the non-profit. The info A was asking could be used in many many avenues in the non-profit’s workings. A took everyone’s responses to her inquiries to mean we accepted her resource and scheduled us to work with her resource.

    This infuriated BC as they too had booked their resource. Since this was done through a million texts and emails, I naively assumed ABC were speaking with each other. When asked my opinion I was in the middle of a work meeting. I said I will go with majority. DE who weren’t at the whole inperson meeting (they left early) responded to A’s resource information, essentially giving her a majority vote with my neutral vote. DE did not realize that BC had already been inquiring with another resource.

    Now that I have the whole picture I get it A more or less overstepped her place/ tasks (she knew BC was trying to get their resource to work with us). I should have inquired more about communication. A apologized profusely to everyone. In the meantime BC are trying to reschedule their resource but it looks like we lost our shot to work with BC’s resource. I also explained where my mess up was and apologized. I feel as defacto President I should have been more on top things. FYI I had no idea A was so far into researching her resource until I received the text.

    If you’re still with me that is awesome! Now onto a side story. My regular job has insane hours. My focus for the non-profit has been tasks that I can squeeze into my schedule through out the year. BC have every right to be upset but have basically gone on strike. I’m told they will help with anything little (stuffing envelopes seems to be their main task right now) but they are no longer going to work on any of their parts for the board. OK I get it, this is volunteer afterall. Apparently everyone else’s ideas are better so why should they contribute… or something like that. ADE are helping but like me they have busy lives too. BC’s tasks have now all been given to me to sort out, organize and complete.

    I’m truly at a burn out point. We’re now past the planning stages for 2021 and the work is piling on. We are supposed to have our second in person meeting next week. As a leader, how can I fix this? How do I get the team back together? No one seems to be willing to talk it out (I’ve tried different things for 2 months). BC refuse to vote in new volunteers or even train us on their parts. DE are hurt and in the middle. A is so upset feeling like she caused all of this. We have mixed feeling about cutting down our services. I’m 1 person and can’t do the job of 3. F is so swamped in their personal situation so I hate to ask them for advice – F has been made aware of the situation.

    I take responsibility for my part in this mess up. If it helps I’ll even resign. I volunteered to help a cause special to me. Greedily I am worried if I leave how this will affect my reputation if I volunteer for a similar type organization. BCDEF still speak ill of a board member who left (prior to my starting) years ago on bad terms.

    Any ideas?

    1. IL JimP*

      It’s good you’re having an all person meeting coming up, you all just need to talk through it together there and see if you can come up with a resolution together. Make sure everyone knows the repercussions of continuing this way are, which sounds like you quitting and the non-profit probably folding. Open an honest conversation is the way to go, it’s the only way to fix it that I can see

      1. any suggestions*

        the organization folding is a big concern for me. There are tons of larger non profits that help this cause, but our little team seem to be able to help those who fall through the cracks.

      2. any suggestions*

        Our informal in person meetings are more or less for the board to get organized. It’s all very casual and often are rescheduled at the last minute (one of my pet peeves). I have a very “Mary Poppins” attitude. This situation needs to be fixed. I am trying to find a way to say this meeting is mandatory, if you don’t like it resign, I quit, how can we prevent this, what is our resolution….. and I need to say it all without sounding like a witch (substitute any letters you wish).

    2. Ashley*

      I would really try to get help from F. If that is just a no, and you you have a good relationship with D and E maybe ask one of them for their advice. Do you have a Board Secretary? That might help with tracking minutes and tasks. At someone point the fifty emails and texts get out of control and someone needs to do a recap because miscommunication is easy with all the email and text chains. If I were in your position and swamped with work, I would also rethink my role as Vice-President / defacto President for next term. That could also help with the minor mutiny. (And if know one else is willing to take on the role that in itself is telling not to mention everyone needs to come you some slack.)

      1. any suggestions*

        F is taking care of a very sick family member. I really don’t want them to have to think about our petty situation. F is aware of what happened and I ended the email with if you have any input it would be appreciated. I haven’t heard back. Our inperson meeting were more informal to get things figured out for 2021; in other words keeping minutes is really only done with public meetings where our recipients can come to get help and information. We actually just utilized an online tool to help with organizing situations such as this, but it a task the Board Member D is currently set up and will not be available till October (bad timing!) Based on our State laws in how a non profit can run, in addition to having no new volunteers wanting aboard position, I ended up having to default to our VP or P position. I will be in this position for the next 3 years. I know this is all volunteer but I am so stressed. My doctor even mentioned I needed to calm down a bit.

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      Honestly, this sounds like an untenable situation long-term. When the org is so small that you only have the volunteer board members, things like this are going to keep happening. People will always put their family life and paid work obligations before volunteering and if there are so few volunteers, miscommunications because you can’t meet often or are very busy are going to keep coming up. I would work to see if you could get another small layer of volunteers that aren’t board members, but pitch in where they can to do the smaller stuff. Meeting notes, envelope stuffing, organizing meetings, help with communication in some fashion, etc. Then the board could focus on the big stuff and have more time.

      1. 867-5309*

        Yes, this. It sounds entirely untenable.

        I applaud the desire to do something good and noble, and to help those who might not be picked up by larger non-profits, but the structure made my head spin and I just do not see how it works in practice.

    4. 867-5309*

      Who started the organization and how is it funded? A 7-person board that IS the nonprofit is confusing to me. Who wrote the bylaws? Are there any employees?

      I would consider an over-haul of the organizations structure.

      Also, Alison’s advice for managing people applies here: If someone makes a mistake (A) you hold them accountable, which is sounds like this person is. Next, if someone refuses to work for that person despite apologies, then you address it as a performance issue. “We must be able to work effectively has a team in order to meet the nonprofits mission. I know it is disappointing and frustrating but A has apologized and it’s time to move on. Is that something you think you can do? If not, how should we work on your transition off the board?

      Finally, if I am understanding correctly that there is only this board then
      1. You need to hire at least a part-time, salaried person.
      2. Use something like slack or Microsoft Teams so you can better manage conversations by topic instead of relying on text and email.

    5. Wintergreen*

      You say the next meeting is informal but I would really stress to all that it is important that all of them are there as critical issues must be taken care of. It is going to be difficult but at that meeting you need to bring this up and that you are feeling overwhelmed with everything at work as well as the non-profit and need to distribute work. Mention the consequences if they are not willing to help. That the non-profit they have volunteered at for 6-8 years could fold because of them should get them to snap out of their snit. At least I would hope so. If it doesn’t, one last step to try is actively look for new volunteers that could be brought in to help and start acting as if BC essentially resigned.

      Side Note: BC are acting like children. I have a hard time dealing with adults who act like children. Miscommunications happen and they need to get over it or resign. Please don’t indulge them as it will just encourage future tantrums.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Oh, I don’t blame B and C for being po’d. A should have checked with them, they are senior/more experienced and probably burned capital to get this resource, and OP as President should have been on top of this as well. Mistakes were made and people should acknowledge that they (B and C) probably feel tossed aside and rightfully so. Apologies need to made and people should eat a little crow. And then set up a system so this doesn’t happen again. As in communicate over slack and email and everyone gets on board. Perhaps assign duties and see what happens then.

    6. any suggestions*

      I should clarify – The board is the volunteers and the board. We started originally about 10 years ago as part of one of the larger organizations. Organically it kind of just broke off into its own group. We went through all the legal channels and made it a separate organization. We do get volunteers but it’s usually for a one off event, never anyone steady. We have funds for our programs (through donations) and such but none for hiring someone.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I think as board members that means you have legal obligations then. B and C can’t really go on strike–they need to quit the board if they’re going to undermine the organization. If you are receiving funding and delivering programs, but that falls apart–for *any* reason–you aren’t really free to just walk away because you’re a volunteer. You need to take the org down properly. I hear you on not wanting this org to fold, but you may have to be the hard-ass with BC and say “You will fulfill your obligations or you will formally quit the board. If you quit the board, the next action will be to disband this org because it’s untenable. Decide.”

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          B and C really aren’t undermining anyone. I mean, this was an error, A made the mistake, and they can easily state A undermined them. So the board should all get together, acknowledge the errors and go from there.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This boils down to “how does our group make a decision?”.

      BC mentioned they had a resource in the works. Is this acceptable to the group? How do you as a group pick a resource? It sounds pretty random to me, I’d suggest more structure. But I want to move on with the storyline.
      A overstepped by just jumping in with her ideas but apologized profusely. She probably won’t do that again, this has been a horrible experience for her. DE are caught in the middle and hurt.

      Go back to the point where the train started going off the tracks. When BC mentioned they had a resource then get the group to agree that all will wait to hear a report back from BC before continuing further with this particular subject. Individuals can agree to work on a particular problem and the rest can wait for the response.

      A, the newbie, was too enthusiastic. I wouldn’t hammer on her much, because she already understands what she did here, but if you have a handbook for training board members please make sure she has it.

      DE are hurt? I am not clear why except for the fact that everyone is arguing. You may be able to help DE to calm down by saying that “we need to look at how we make decisions as a group”. You may also help them by pointing out where you plan on making changes about what you are doing.

      My big issue is BC. Do you have bylaws? Do your bylaws say how to remove board members? Because this may be where you are going. As far as voting in new volunteers, I would think you’d have a majority vote in favor even if BC voted against? So maybe this is not as big a deal? The refusal to train on their parts of the job CAN be a huge issue. If their refusal to train is causing a work slow down or stoppage, then remind them by reading from the bylaws that they cannot act in a manner that is detrimental to the mission of the NPO. If they refuse to uphold their responsibilities as board members there is no point to having them on the board.

      Speaking of bylaws. How long are board members allowed not to attend or participate in meetings? We have a 3 month period. After that the board member has to be replaced. Perhaps your Prez could take a leave of absence and you can bring on a temporary board member to fill in. Check your bylaws.

      For you, there is nothing wrong with you calmly and factually saying that you cannot take on more work than you already have. Instead of saying the negative here, say the positive version: “I can only stay on this board if we can agree to work together as a team and I can count on you folks to help me here.” Tell your group that they have a choice, they can grow from this experience or they can let it sink the organization. And you can say this nicely, “We had a huge misunderstanding. I would like to walk through some steps so that we can have SOPs in place and hopefully have less misunderstandings in the future.”

      Here’s the steps I suggest:
      1) People volunteer for a task and they do that task alone or in pairs. No one else works on that task UNLESS the people who volunteered for it say they need additional help. The board okays the task before the individuals start.
      2) New board members could be assigned a mentor. All ideas go to the mentor first then go to the board.
      3)Make a new member hand book or update the one you have.
      4) Pass around the bylaws and have everyone look at the bylaws. Bylaws should be reviewed periodically, I think every 5 years? This is to keep them relevant. Do NOT serve on a board that does not outline in its bylaws how to remove a board member with inappropriate behaviors. Define what behaviors will result in a board vote for dismissal. We have a sentence that says, “Shall project a positive image to other members and to the community.” It’s a catch all, but it makes people THINK.
      Bylaws should state how many meetings a board member can miss before they are voted off the board. Remove wording that is ambiguous or no one understands. We had a word in our bylaws that very few people knew what it meant. We substituted a similar more common word when we rewrote it. We wrote with a committee of two people who updated the bylaws. Then the revision was put up for board review, everyone had their inputs. Another draft was made to vote on. We voted and accepted the new bylaws.

      Overall, my read here is that this a group that really doesn’t have standard operating procedures in place. And your SOPs tend to be an extension of your bylaws. SOPs are more specific about day-to-day activities. I think getting them to agree to some SOPs MIGHT tend to calm most people down. I would expect that one or two will get angrier and leave. Just let them go. I have seen it happened twice now where board members got up and walked out in the middle of a meeting. Planet earth did not stop revolving. Matter of fact a few of us exhaled. Go over what went wrong without naming names and steps to prevent a similar thing from happening again any time soon.

      Sorry long read. This is fixable. You might lose a person or two but the group can get through this.

    8. Double A*

      You sound like your mind is spinning, which makes sense. Here is what I would recommend:

      1. Communicate that the next meeting is mandatory. You will be discussing if this organization should continue. If you don’t get quorum, you will move forward with dissolving the organization. Don’t discuss any concerns about this via email — just redirect them to the fact that you will be meeting, and discussing in person.

      2. Have a clear agenda for the meeting, and stick to it. Send it out in advance and give people the chance to add discussion items. Don’t revise or deviate from the agenda in the meeting — anything that comes up that’s not on the agenda can be jotted down on a post-it and put in a “Parking Lot” for a later meeting.

      3. Start the meeting with a discussion of norms. I STRONGLY suggest you add “assume goodwill” to your list of norms, and discuss what that means.

      4. Discuss the current situation with the lens of everyone meant well, but there was a miscommunication. Therefore, what ACTIONABLE STEPS can you take to prevent such miscommunications in the future.

      You are very stressed and getting pulled into a lot of “what ifs,” which makes sense. Your goal right now is to reduce the problem to a clear set of possibilities. You’re starting with the question: Will the organization continue? No? Okay, the path is clear. Yes? Okay, the next steps to achieve that is X.

      It might even be helpful to write a flow chart of possible outcomes (but I am a big fan of flow charts).

  14. Alex*

    I’ve been wondering about the ethics of the professional advantages of being close friends with a coworker.

    I’m in a situation where I realize my close friendship with a coworker (in another department) has meant that I’ve acquired some very valuable skills and as a result have been included on some higher level projects that my coworkers in my own department have not been included on–and now have a higher level of knowledge and responsibility than more senior people in my own department.

    Some of this is that I took initiative to learn the stuff, and some is that I became friends with someone involved with this stuff. I’m finding it hard to untangle what I’ve benefitted from as a result of my friendship with this person, and what is my own accomplishment. The reason I became such close friends with her in the first place was because of my interest in how our work intersected, and for her, I think she found that I had a perspective that helped HER in her work, and so…it’s kind of all bound up together. At this point, we are much more than work buddies–we are close friends outside of work. I’d consider her one of my best.

    I know we talk about the “boys club” when (usually cis straight white) men band together and shut out other people at work, resulting in opportunities for straight white men that others don’t have access to. I’m not straight or a man, and my friend is also not straight or a man, but…isn’t it the same thing? Or is it not?

    Interested to know others’ thoughts on this.

    1. Pancakes*

      This is a fine line to walk. I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with realizing that you work well with someone in another department and bringing each other in on projects. I think the issue lies more in if this comes at the expense of other people.
      My main question is if this person is in a higher position than you or if you are on the same level but in different departments. If the person is higher than you and is giving you tons of really beneficial opportunities then I’d think about it differently than if you’re in a similar place on your org chart.
      Maybe an option is to continue your friendship/close working relationship with this person, but try and invite some of your other colleagues to work on things with you or show them what you’re learning so it feels less like the two of you are a “club”

      1. Alex*

        Yes, if she were a manager or at a higher level than me, it would definitely be more obviously a problem. But we are both at the same org chart level, just in different departments.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Hmmm. This is an interesting question.

      This might in some ways depend on your field? I work in academia, and this sounds pretty normal and an expected way of using your professional network, and it’s also fairly common for that professional network to bleed over into outside-of-work friends. You still did the work of obtaining these skills even if you learned about that from a friend.

      I would be extra cognizant of how you can share this knowledge with others, such as mentoring junior staff, hosting training workshops, presenting at conferences, or participating in professional organizations. I would also take note of any special privileges this is giving you and see if you can make sure that others in your department get some of those same opportunities. For example, do you often get face-time with administrators or get tasked with large projects?

      1. Alex*

        I do get tasked with large projects that are more visible to higher level people. But I can’t suggest that these be given to my colleagues, as they don’t have the right skills for them. And I’m pretty much the most junior staff on my team already! Which makes my inclusion on these higher level projects uncomfortable for people on my team who have a lot more seniority than I do (along with higher titles and pay).

        1. allathian*

          The discomfort is their problem, don’t make it yours. If you have the skills for the tasks you’re doing with the person in the other department, good for you. Maybe it’s time for a promotion and a raise, since you’re doing higher-level work?

    3. Secretary*

      I mean, I’ve always considered this a valuable reason to have good people skills and build friendships with coworkers.
      For example, I always try to make friends with the staff who’s services I will definitely need (janitorial, receptionist, IT, handyman) right away. These people have the power to save my work day, they also have the power to make my life miserable if they don’t like me!
      There’s no such thing as being self made, you need other people to get ahead. The fine line is not taking advantage of them and making sure the friendships are genuine, and that you’re not just friends with people for what they can give you, but also because they’re good people.

      1. The Engineer*

        This.

        I would say that being aware of the risk of taking advantage of the situation (i.e. ‘using’ someone) is an indication that you probably are not. Those who are so callous don’t engage in such reflection.

        Also, I would say that using what you learn from this professional relationship is your accomplishment because you are applying it in your world. We all learned from someone else.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You aren’t shutting people out or blocking other people from prestigious work or opportunities. You’re networking and leveraging a friendship (and your friendship isn’t surprising, since you both have the same work interests!) to your advantage. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing. You’re lucky, not boys-clubbing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This – you articulated this better than I was about to. This…is not what the “old boys club” means at all.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, this strikes me as just… networking. If you do it right, you could very well end up making good friends! It would be an old-boys-club-esque problem if you weren’t that good at your job and your friend was giving you opportunities just because of your friendship, but that’s not what’s happening here at all. You’re just proving yourself to be competent and responsible, and being included on projects accordingly.

        If you’re now doing higher level work than your peers, if anything you should be pushing for a promotion in line with your skills and responsibilities.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      There’s nothing wrong with making use of your network and taking advantage of opportunities. But maybe you’ll feel better about it if you use some of that access to spread those opportunities around. Maybe sometimes you could say “you know who else would really be great to have on this project? Heloise. She has a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and I think she could offer some valuable perspectives.” Or “Thanks so much for offering to include me on this, but right now, I really don’t have the bandwidth. I’d recommend you chat with Juan, though: he knows as much about this issue as I do, and I know he just finished a big project, so he might have more room on his plate now.”

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      The reason I became such close friends with her in the first place was because of my interest in how our work intersected, and for her, I think she found that I had a perspective that helped HER in her work, and so…it’s kind of all bound up together.

      Sounds like the good kind of networking to me – a relationship that came about because of work-related interests, and not because of where you went to school or where your summer house is.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Exactly. The only difference is it’s not the typical “boys’ club on the golf course”. It’s important to make friends at all levels. The more genuine relationships that include other demographics the closer we can get to understanding one another and working together in harmony.

    7. Oh No She Di'int*

      I don’t think that you are doing anything wrong, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong with the situation. If I understand you correctly, you’re getting plum assignments partly as a result of an informal relationship you developed. You’re correct in thinking that that is precisely how boys’ clubs and other kinds of clubs form.

      But I think the solution–if one is even needed–depends on the facts on the ground. Are there overall patterns of inequity in your workplace? If so, is your arrangement supporting those or breaking those down? Keep in mind that often a particular action can do both at the same time. For example, a powerful gay coterie might form in a business, which helps to breakdown heterosexist power monopolies, but may actually reinforce white power dominance. I think you want to look at the outcomes. If you getting these projects means that advancement is going to be open to you that is systematically less open to, say for example, people of color within the organization, then I do think it’s a problem.

      At that point it’s up to whoever is making those assignments to fix this. Because as it stands, they’re making assignments in a way that may be (may be) producing unequal results. And you can alert them to that or not, based on your own conscience.

      Now, if your department is composed in such a way that your coworkers have many other opportunities for advancement that you in fact don’t have due to systemic inequities of various kinds, then I’d say no, what you’ve done is simply create a pathway that otherwise would have been open to others and not to you. In which case there’s nothing to fix.

      1. Alex*

        Thanks for this thoughtful response (As well as everyone else’s thoughtful responses.)

        Unfortunately, my company is not very racially diverse, and I’m definitely not taking away anything from people in my own department who are in frequently marginalized groups…because the rest of my department is made up of straight white men. That in itself is a problem, of course. And to that end, all of my coworkers were promoted with fewer accomplishments than I needed to show for my own promotion. Of course when I brought that up, I was told that it was just a coincidence and that there were other reasons why they got promotions and I didn’t, mostly having to do with “luck” and “coincidental timing.” (Yeah, right….) So yeah, there IS a history of inequity, but not out of the favor of the group I’m specifically talking about here.

        Also, it isn’t so much that I’m getting plum assignments and others are getting crap assignments, it’s more like, we all have our regular work, and then I’m asked to help out on extra stuff, because people want specifically my skill set, and my colleagues are sort of making comments and seeming to feel left behind because they don’t have this skill set. While at the end of the day, I am not actually making any more money and in fact just am doing more work, I do think that it makes for an uncomfortable situation when managers are coming to a junior member of the team for advice and including me on projects, rather than the senior ones. There’s been some tension on my team because of it and I’m trying to take stock of what may have been my part in that tension.

        However, I did mean this as more of a general question about how or how not friendships + getting ahead of work = unfairness and the ways it may or may not be problematic, so I really appreciate your answer.

        1. TTDH*

          Given this update, I really think this situation is fine. I’d reevaluate if your peer status changes (for example, if your friend moves up the ladder and ends up having dotted-line authority over your position), but it sounds like this networking relationship is shoring up deficiencies rather than creating them.

        2. allathian*

          If your coworkers were promoted with fewer accomplishments than you needed for your own promotion, I’m honestly not seeing the problem. If the straight white males get slightly tense because a non-straight non-male has some skills they don’t and as a result gets a great assignment they can’t get, well, they sound like they’re just stirring up trouble. Privileged people who see a non-privileged person get ahead are often the first to cry discrimination, when it’s just a matter of providing others with the same opportunities they take for granted.

          How are you a junior member of the team anyway? At some point, if you stay there long enough, they should stop seeing you as junior and start seeing you as a peer, if you are in fact on the same level in the org. If not, maybe you need a promotion, because you bring value to the company with your skills.

    8. Thankful to AAM*

      I agree with others that this sounds like regular old networking.
      I think the problem with the “boys club” mentality is that they cut people out – you might not be able to suggest other coworkers on your team for projects but you can make the process that you gained the skills more visible to others. Many times people don’t know that just showing an interest and asking can be all it takes. And you can offer to transfer skills if possible.

      I started doing things at the state association level and asked all my coworkers if anyone was interested in doing a project together. Only one said yes and we did a presentation that got them big notice and they now have a book contract! They would never have thought this was possible if I had not asked. Small things can go a long way!

    9. Whatever*

      I can understand your trepidation, but this is very much different than the old boys club. You each sought out someone to network with who could be mutually beneficial and that developed into a friendship. That happens often and it a great part of how we develop!

      In contrast, the old boys club was systematically developed to leave other people out. It was built on the notion that there is one type of professional who can be successful and if you don’t fit into that type you’ll miss out on opportunities. You’re not doing that. Seeking out opportunities and making the best of those is very very different than taking away the chance from someone else.

      So, enjoy your development! And continue to seek out people who help you grow. And enjoy your friendship. It sounds like you are doing very well all around.

    10. Binky*

      The thing with “boys clubs” is that they’re systemic – white male leadership helping white male subordinates over their equally (or more) qualified peers. It’s not any two people who get along and work well together.

    11. RagingADHD*

      If you legit have skills & insight that are valuable to the project, then it’s not nepotism. Since this other coworker does not manage you, it’s not favoritism.

      Lots of people have work friends. They don’t necessarily learn skills or get better at their jobs as a result.

      What are the barriers preventing your peers from developing similar connections? Are you creating or perpetuating those barriers?

      The “boys club” isn’t wrong because it’s helpful to some and not others. It’s wrong because people are excluded based on race, gender, or class background. It rewards people for being born in the “right” body or the “right” family.

      A friendship that benefits your work without creating barriers to others is called networking. It is a positive choice that rewards curiosity, helpfulness, and motivation.

    12. Indy Dem*

      In one of the replies to a comment above, you mentioned “I can’t suggest that these be given to my colleagues, as they don’t have the right skills for them”. It sounds like you are saying that you are the right fit for the projects and your colleagues aren’t. Going forward, if there are projects that one of your colleagues are a better fit for, feel free to mention that. Otherwise realize that your current friendship sounds like it started as an excellent work collaboration. Good networking, otherwise. It doesn’t sound like you have anything to worry about, but always look for ways to pay it forward.

  15. ItalianBunny*

    Sooo thanks to Alison’s suggestions and her very kind private reply to my e-mail i’ve revamped my CV and it looks so much better!
    There’s still one thing i’m struggling tho and i would love to buy your thoughts: I have no clue in what to write in the profile section, if i shall even use it or spare the space. I’ve been all kind of AA/EA/Cust.Serv positions in the las 20yrs, pretty much all temp (because italy looooooves making people temp FOREVER. *snark*) and now i am retraining to switch into accounting so….thoughts?

    1. MissGirl*

      I customize this based on the position requirements. I think of it as a mini cover letter and take a few sentence to explain what I bring to the specific role.

      1. ItalianBunny*

        Oh! that’s smart! Thankyou!
        I think it’s something still new here, haven’t seen it in many CVs but lately i notice it’s more popular. Thing is i don’t want to sound too salesy or whatever but picturing it as: “what i could bring on the table” i think it’s waaaay easier than trying to reply to “who am i as a candidate” or “what i am looking for”.

    2. Fabulous*

      I see the profile section as a mini snapshot of what your resume will demonstrate. You could say something like:

      “Experienced executive and administrative assistant with ample customer service experience. Currently cultivating knowledge and experience in accounting with aspirations of a career transition.”

    3. Reba*

      If you have a cover letter, I’d skip it. If you don’t have a cover letter, then it’s a very condensed version of a cover letter.

      Good luck!

    4. Tmarie*

      I work in a Finance department and our boss is constantly reminding us that even though we are numbers people, when we interact with co-workers, vendors or the public, we still need to provide good customer service.

      Smoothing ruffled feathers is a good quality to have, even as an accountant.

      1. ItalianBunny*

        Uh, smoothing ruffled feathers has been a hard skill to manage early in my career, lol, but i’m happy i managed to do this, even if i’m not a people person and this is a good chunk of the reason i’m transitioning off the AA/EA/Cust Serv.

  16. Pancakes*

    Raises and promotions at my company are frozen right now due to COVID. I was promoted a year ago, but I feel that the work I have taken on merits a higher title than the one I currently have (ex: replaced the Manager of Llama Grooming and have taken on all of his duties and then some but am only Assistant Llama Grooming Manager). My annual review is coming up. Any advice for bringing this up as something to revisit when we are unfrozen?

    My direct manager supports me (and went to bat for me the first time), but upper management felt that I didn’t have enough experience and said that I’d need to prove myself. My feedback has been nothing but glowing this year (but that mostly comes from my direct manager).

    1. 867-5309*

      Can you push for the title change without the salary? I know that sucks but it could position you to look elsewhere.

      1. Pancakes*

        I would do this and maybe I will ask my manager about it. I expect that they will say that they can’t do the title change because other employees won’t know that it doesn’t come with a raise and will look like they’re being inconsistent with the policy they set.

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

        It’s worth asking, but I think most managers (certainly this is the thing that would occur to me) would baulk at this request, since it is transparently (though not quite explicitly stated, it’s not far from it) going to make OP more marketable to other companies, and thus more of a “flight risk”. Or they may grant the new title and then be on the lookout for opportunities to push OP out, or at least aware OP as a flight risk and so not investing in training opportunities etc.

        1. Blueberry Spice Pancake*

          I would assume that they realize Pancakes and anyone who was on track for promotion would be a flight risk right now given the lack of raises and opportunities. Sure the title may make them more marketable, but it’s also possible that the company could agree to re-evaluate salary as soon as things open up again, and that might be a way to show good faith towards Pancakes.

          1. pancakes*

            There are a lot more pancakes in these comments than I’d realized! Will be thinking about changing my user name.

    2. irene adler*

      Suggestion: have you been given quantifiable goals so that you can “prove yourself” in a concrete manner? Something along the lines of “perform 6 llama grooming’s per shift -instead of the current five you are doing”. What “experience” do they want? Have they made this clear? Is it x number of years doing your current tasks? Is it experience doing tasks you are not trained in yet? That should be clarified.

      Otherwise, you are left guessing what upper management means by these things. And no real way to take actions to achieve what they want to see. This does, however allow them to string you along-at current salary, continuing to do above and beyond your job title. Something to ponder.

      Maybe your boss can help with establishing some clear and concrete goals to work towards scoring that raise/promotion?
      Just make sure what boss tells you is understood by upper management as effective things you can do to get that raise/promotion. You don’t want to just spin your wheels.

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

      Get a commitment to revisit in 6 months with concrete goals (that you may have already mostly met) that would confirm you in a Llama Manager position.

      If it doesn’t come through in 6 months (after discussion/reminders and a push) start the process of moving on.

  17. AnonPM*

    I’ve been unemployed for almost 2 years and have been seriously job searching for 1 year. I’m located in Canada. Most of my experience is in project management, which is transferable (in theory). What actions would you recommend that I take to improve my chances at landing a job? Here’s a long list of things that I’ve already tried or am currently doing:

    – Applied to 200 jobs and counting since Summer 2019. I’m applying to roles where I meet at least 50% of the qualifications, across a variety of industries.
    – Updated my resume to it’s ATS friendly and maximizes keywords. Revised my cover letter.
    – Always customize my resume and cover letter to the job posting, my skills and interests.
    – Practiced interview skills and improved my answers to common questions
    – Updated my LinkedIn profile and I regularly interact with the platform.
    – Use my network where possible –I apply for a role then try to find someone to connect me with the hiring manager or HR.
    – Cold contacting recruiters
    – Did a few informational interviews (to gain information and network, not to ask for a job)
    – Registered with several large staffing and recruitment agencies in my city
    – Applied to several government job pools
    – Currently serving on 2 volunteer committees
    – Kept all of my professional certifications up to date by doing professional development courses
    – Explored re-training but for various reasons I won’t be able to enter university until Sept 2021

    1. Gaia*

      Are you getting interviews?

      Whenever people say they update their resume to be “ATS friendly” I question whether or not they’ve made it “human unfriendly.” If you aren’t getting interviews, it might be time to have someone you trust (and who hires people – preferably in your industry) look at your resume and cover letter.

      1. AnonPM*

        Thanks. I’m getting 1 interview for about every 12 applications. I had a professional (who has hiring experience) look at my resume. Most of the ATS changes had to do with removing columns and the header, changing the font, and rearranging/expanding on some of the content. It seems readable to me, but what are some attributes that would make a resume “human unfriendly”?

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I’m getting 1 interview for about every 12 applications. I had a professional (who has hiring experience) look at my resume.

          That seems like a pretty good ratio for your application materials, so maybe focus on your interview. Ask folks in your network who have done hiring to mock interview you and give you feedback.

          It seems readable to me, but what are some attributes that would make a resume “human unfriendly”?

          Are sections clearly marked with line spacing and/or judicious use of bold?
          Are there (ATS-friendly) bullets for lists?
          If you step back and look at it as a whole, does it look like a giant block of text or messy or otherwise makes you eyes go cross-eyed? Or does it look like something that one could easily read/scan?

          Good luck and my sympathies. I’ve applied to ~150 jobs in the past two years and I have a much worse application-to-interview ratio (more like 1 in 30), so you’re ahead of the game in comparison to me :)

          1. AnonPM*

            Thanks, that’s helpful. I’ll double check a few points but I think my resume is in good shape. I’ve been chipping away at this for so long that I don’t even know what’s normal anymore.
            As for mock interviews: been doing this too off and on, and have made some adjustments. I need to work on being more natural and less stiff and scripted.
            Good luck to you as well :)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          It doesn’t matter – if it gets through the ATS, but the HR rep in charge of pre-screening can’t make heads or tails of it because of the formatting or the info isn’t laid out well, then it’s getting circular filed.

    2. RagingADHD*

      So you’ve had about 16 job interviews? Are any of them going past the first round?

      1/12 is a decent ratio. It’s your interviewing that isn’t clicking, so that’s where you need to do the post-mortem.

      Can you identify any instances where you know things went south-a particular line of questions, or a change in the dynamic of the conversation?

      Can you look on Linkedin or the company website and find out anything about the successful candidate’s background that might give some insight as to why they were hired over you?

      Could there be an issue with your references?

      1. AnonPM*

        Yeah, about that many. I did a quick analysis of the companies I’ve interviewed with and found that 3 hired internal candidates, 2 canceled the position, 1 lost my application after the HR person left, 2 I withdrew from due to red flags, 5 sent rejection letters, 4 ghosted and I can’t find who they hired. Of the 5 who sent rejections – one was due to pay expectations, one wanted a less experienced candidate. I’m getting to 2nd round about half of the time. So some of the outcomes were out of my control. Anyway, your questions have given me some things to think about. Thank-you.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Wow. It sounds like this is mostly a case of “the job market just sucks right now.”

          They want less experience or don’t want to pay fairly? Maybe you’re not applying at a senior enough level?

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            I wonder if wanting less experience is code for “you’re too old.” I’m over 50 and just spent a year unemployed before finding my current job. Those facts are not unconnected, I’m convinced.

    3. cleo*

      It’s good that you’re getting interviews. Are you getting second or third interviews? If you’re getting past the first round of interviews but not getting offers that might be a different issue than not getting past the screening interviews. In both cases, doing mock interviews could probably help.

      It sounds like you’re doing a lot! One other thing that occurs to me is seeking out mentoring from someone in your field – maybe through where you went to school or a professional organization. IT might be useful to have someone in your field look at your materials

      1. AnonPM*

        Thanks for the input and I agree. It’s been tough to find a mentor and build a relationship organically, especially now that most networking is virtual. I just started volunteering at a professional organization, so maybe some opportunities and connections will come out of that.

    4. Clever username goes here*

      Do you have your PMP certification? This can really help with getting noticed by recruiters. I just went through the process back in March, feel free to ask any questions if you haven’t done the cert yet. If you have your PMP – is there a local network of PMP professionals you can work with? My local chapter has online meetings that are designed for networking due to the lack of in-person meetings. (Also, hi fellow Canadian!)

  18. Pocket Mouse*

    Have you filed a title-based grievance? I’d love to hear about the process, the timeline, your experience (including how contentious it was), and the outcome (including whether it was retroactive, and any lasting awkwardness or shifts in behavior toward you).

    I’m covered by a union at work, as are the vast majority of my colleagues, though the union doesn’t usually have much of a presence as we go about our work lives. I recently learned that one of the responsibilities I’ve been tasked with is specifically Not Done by someone in my position—per the union, this responsibility is to be done only at levels of the title above my current level. I brought this to the attention of my manager, who is supportive and sent this ‘new’ info up the chain. Due to my employer’s current financial situation and the slog of bureaucracy in the best of times, I’m unsure if this route will produce a quick resolution, if any, so I’m considering going through the union to get it straightened out.

    If it matters: the appropriate resolution and most likely outcome is changing my designation to the higher level, rather than taking away the responsibility. I’m already compensated within the higher level’s pay range due to overlapping salary bands, and I think moving the higher level would result in a modest pay bump, unless a retroactive action is taken, in which case I’m not sure if/how my pay would change.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not a grievance exactly, but I filed a request for reallocation, which was basically “My job classification is Goose Juggler. My actual work duties are seal grooming and throwing fish to polar bears. There is a job classification for Cold Weather Mammal Caregiver, so my position should be redefined to that classification instead of Goose Juggler.” I filed the paperwork, supported by my manager. HR looked over it, sent someone to job shadow me for a couple hours and confirmed that I was grooming seals and not juggling geese, and approved it, retroactive to when I submitted the request. The pay bands for the two classifications did overlap, but I did get a salary adjustment (I think I moved to the same percentile of the new one? Like, if I’d been at the 33% mark on the Goose Juggling pay band, they moved me to the 33% mark on the CWMC pay band) that was also retroactive. It took a couple months, but it was pretty painless.

    2. LQ*

      Can you start with your HR department and request a Hay study or a job assessment? If your boss is involved I’d really focus there until you’re out of options there. Bring up doing a job review kind of thing through the HR department. If your union is any good it’s what they are going to ask to have done first anyway, it still has to be DONE by your company/org, the union can’t actually do it. They can advocate for it and push for it. But I think that if they aren’t intimately involved on a regular basis and you have a good rapport with your boss try making things move that way first. Your HR department likely has a way to do this, your boss may not have taken this on and just raised it up with their boss because they don’t know, it’s a ton of work (and it IS), or there are other priorities or any of a million things. Make it clear that you’re willing to put in the work to document what you do and that it falls within that classification and could you reach out to your HR rep or would your boss normally kick that process off?

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Thank you for this suggestion, it’s very good to know about and that the union would ask to do it first regardless! This particular responsibility that makes or breaks the level is… laughably easy to confirm. As in, I’d be shocked if it took HR more than five minutes. In this scenario where confirming is quick but putting the gears in motion to resolve the discrepancy is likely not, how long would be a reasonable time to wait for movement before attempting a different route?

        1. LQ*

          I’d be on it about weekly and if you weren’t seeing any progress at all I’d give it 3 months but I’m pretty conservative on this kind of thing, so judge for yourself based on that. And while you are doing that definitely DEFINATELY document what you’ve done to try to get this resolved. That’s what you’ll take to the union. Here’s the days I’ve asked, what I want to have done, what I did on my side to move this along, what I’ve heard back. That way hopefully you’ll be able to skip some of the back and forth if you do have to tag in the union.

          Your experience may be different, but I’ve done 2 reclassifications (both with my boss’s support and both took about 7 months or so with about a month of no motion, then jerky motion, then a month of nothing, then more, then looping back) and even though they should have been laughable they both required like filling out all the documentation in different formats and all this stupid stuff (I’m not a fan of the HR department). However! Because I could show that I had been doing the work the whole time, I got back pay for both of them. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Since you have already asked your boss, I’d suggest setting a time frame for the answer. Maybe your boss can help you get an idea of time. If no answer comes by that time, then get the union involved.

      If you had done nothing here, I’d say go to the union first because you are being asked to do higher level work in conflict with the union agreement and you’d like a promotion. If the new title is not covered under the union contract, then I would have just said to go to your boss and then HR.

  19. MaryAnne Spier*

    Negotiating help?
    I am in the process of getting a new job. I’m a teacher and I’m certified in two subject areas. (Think math and art.) I taught for 15 years in one area and made the switch to the other. It was amazing. I loved teaching again. Then there were budget cuts and I was forced back into my former area. I was so depressed. Finally, a little more than two years later, I am being offered a position in my preferred field by a different school district! Hooray! But when they called with the offer they offered me a step on the salary scale that pays $10K less than my current job. Teachers aren’t taught to negotiate because we can’t, once we sign the contract. We’re locked into that schedule so the only time I can negotiate is now, before I sign.

    I asked to be put onto the step that matches my current salary. The HR lady said she has to take it to the BOE and superintendent’s office and get back to me.

    So according to the salary schedule, they could give me -7k, -3k, same, or even put me on a higher step. -3k, after taxes, spread out over 26 paychecks, I wouldn’t feel at all. But -10k I absolutely would. For what it’s worth, my boyfriend and I are getting engaged soon. We live in a very expensive area but we’re doing fine. He says I should just take the offer because I will enjoy the job more, but it took me so long to get to my current salary.

    So if they come back to me and are firm with their offer or only come up a little, can I ask again? Or is that it? I have literally never negotiated before. I don’t know how that works! I can’t ask for anything like more vacation time or more personal days. There really aren’t any other perks I can ask for.

      1. MaryAnne Spier*

        Haha, thanks. ;) In the past people have thought I was posting about my job with my real name. Not my real name, people! :)

    1. Baffled Teacher*

      do you have state regulations? In mine the actual pay scale can differ between districts (like, one might offer 35K for step 1 but another might be 41K) but if you’ve served, say, four years on contract in public school, you’re on step 5 next year. They can’t, like, pick and choose which step they feel like putting you on! So weird. Part of the reason I became a teacher was to avoid this exact situation, but again, I’ve never had the district *decide* which step I’m on.

      1. MaryAnne Spier*

        So I never thought there would be wiggle room either and was always conditioned to just accept what I was offered, but when I started my last job I was talking with another new hire and she said, “Did you negotiate your salary? Because they tried to start me two years behind and I said no.” That was a lightbulb moment.

        I figure the fact that when I said, “Oh, that’s a big pay cut; I currently make step 8 on your scale” and the HR lady said, “OK, so you’re asking for step 9? I’ll have to take that to the board.” I said, “Well, I would also take step 8!” (Yeah, I drive a hard bargain…) She didn’t say “we can’t negotiate” or “this is all we can offer you.” I asked if it was unheard of and she said, “Well, nothing’s really unheard of. It really just depends on whether they will accept your request. I’ll get back to you next week.” So it sounds like things aren’t as locked-in as I would have thought a few years ago.

      2. Blackcat*

        In some cases, you can argue that previous experience counts. I looked into returning to k-12 teaching after my PhD, and was advised to ask for “credit” in years of teaching salary wise for the time I spent teaching (as instructor, not TA) in graduate school. It depends on local policies, but sometimes there’s a bit of wiggle room about which step you come in on.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      1) Think through your plans and long term budget and decide what you’d take – would you happily switch for the -3K? Are you planning to have a big wedding / buy a house and really need to save up?
      2) What are the market rates in that district for the new subject area? In my area, math / science gets a premium over arts / language arts.
      3) With my district, the ‘steps’ are based on years of teaching + degrees / certifications (qualifications). Why did New HR classify you lower? Did she not count the years of teaching Old Subject?

      In general, you can go back one time before New HR makes an offer with a lower salary bid and one more time after New HR makes the next offer with the same salary. It sounds like you made your case based on current salary; in either of these new bids you would make a case based on market and qualifications.

      Assuming -3k step is ok, the lower salary bid might be, “I just want to clarify, I am very interested in teaching New Subject, and I would consider [-3K step] in order to make that move to your district, if that is easier to pass through your BOE / Super.”

      The same salary bid would be, “I see in your teaching scale that [current step] is X years + Y ed / certs. I have the X years if you include both subjects, and Y certs. Can you tell me more about why you’re classifying me at [-10K step]?”

      The key is to know your limits and stick to them. There will be other openings for this subject, but salary cuts are forever.

      1. MaryAnne Spier*

        They definitely don’t differentiate between certain subject areas at a premium here.

        Unfortunately the salary charts aren’t as straightforward as years + degrees. There are three separate charts, just called 01, 02, and 03. Each of those has “steps” (not years) and then columns for BA, MA, 6th year, and PhD. So she said she would put me at chart o2, step 5. It’s hard to make a 1:1 comparison to another district that way.

        Future plans: Big wedding, no. House, yes, eventually. Kids, no. Pets, yes. Vacations, yes. ;)

        If I had to take a 10k cut I think I would really regret it, even if it was to go back to that other field. :/

        1. 867-5309*

          Only you know the level of regret you’ll, I would just encourage you to also consider how you’ll feel being in the same subject that you don’t like for another couple of years. Does the $10 make up for it? Will you have less joy in your person live because the stress and displeasure from your professional life seeps over?

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          That’s your key piece of knowledge: 10K is too big a cut for your comfort.

          Like I said, you can go back once before they come back with the next offer, and you can go back once after. But look at the long view, and look at all factors (money, job satisfaction, commute, etc). You’re the best judge of your trade-offs, but keep in mind: $10k/ year is $100K over a decade, and they won’t bump you up after you’re hired.

    3. 867-5309*

      If they come back and say the offer is firm, you could potentially ask if they will meet you part way (say, a $3k or $5k bump in the salary) but there is a risk at that point they will simply move on. In their eyes, they don’t want to keep going back-and-forth after they’ve said an offer is firm and could be concerned that if they say firm again, and you accept, that you’ll be unhappy.

      Without being in teaching myself, I just don’t know the politics of it.

      There is something to be said for enjoying your work. I have taken pay cuts for just that reason.

    4. RagingADHD*

      As a general rule, do not take a pay cut if you are currently working and your job is not endangering your physical or mental health.

      Particularly in a rigidly tiered structure – you won’t feel the $3k in an individual paycheck, but you will feel the cumulative impact of losing a tier for the rest of your career.

  20. Grits McGee*

    Is anyone aware of change management training/guidance that isn’t just platitudes, and that has actionable advice? (Esp anything about helping others- coworkers, bosses, external stakeholders- manage change)

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

      What do you want to achieve?
      Specifically – what type of ‘change’ is involved (organizational restructure? ways of working? technology and tools? pushing out into new markets? etc), and what is your role in it (individual contributor, manager of people, project manager, person effecting the change? etc.

  21. My Other Half*

    My spouse did something really dumb at work and now his job is on the line. We’ve been busting our butts for several years and finally planned to make some major changes in our lives very soon. Well now all of that is coming to a screeching halt. I’m having a really hard time being supportive when he did something so stupid that has a huge impact on our entire family. I know my lack of support is not what he needs right now to try and save his job. Any advice on how we get through this? Anyone been in my spouses shoes, what did you need from your partner?

    1. SunnySideUp*

      I think maybe he needs more from you right now. You have to try to forgive him, in the same way you’d want him to forgive you. Sure you’re angry; he’s probably angry at himself, and guilty, maybe ashamed.

      After decades of marriage, I can tell you: this will not be the one and only upset of your life together.

      1. Esmeralda*

        If you’re not ready to forgive, then don’t try to force yourself to forgive. It will just make you angry/resentful/unhappy which is bad for you and bad for your marriage.

        Set aside forgiving for now. You have to grieve the loss or postponement of your major changes.

        Think of it this way. Your spouse needs support to help him keep his job, and possibly to get a new job. Your spouse being employed and bringing in income is important to you and your family. Try to approach it from this cold, practical standpoint.

        What actions do you need to take to give your spouse the support he needs to keep his job or find a new one?

        Tell your spouse, I’m really angry at you because [major changes not happening], but I love you and will support you

        I’d also recommend that if you can afford it, to see a counselor or a therapist for yourself. Not a marriage or family counselor, but one just for you.

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

        Ah, I was in a similar position myself (as OP, not the spouse) with my husband at the time — not to the point of “now-ex” being fired, admittedly, but where I couldn’t rely on him to keep a job without getting mad at the supervisor and resigning on the spot, etc — and I disagree that he “needs more right now” unless there’s some context that wasn’t mentioned like serious issues at work, mental health considerations, etc.

        For context: I’m a very forgiving person when people screw up, which I know happens frequently. When any conflict happens, I get mad about something (if I somehow couldn’t deal with the conflict rationally) and move on within a couple of hours usually. (My now partner finds this unusual and states that he will be mad for ‘days’ but it turns out to be just a couple of days)

        BUT – the above is about resolvable situations. In this situation, I don’t think forgiving right away is the right response.

        I wonder if he really, truly (rather than just verbally to appease you, OP) is sorry? Actually now that I re-read the OP, I don’t see any mention of the spouse being sorry, saying “sorry”, expressing or emoting any kind of apologetic response at all.

        It sounds (from another post by OP below) that he was already on precarious grounds due to some other incident in the past, but then couldn’t help himself running off at the mouth rather than zip it in a subsequent encounter.

        I think one of two things is going on here:

        1) He genuinely doesn’t see the consequences of his actions in the moment, and then doesn’t accept them due to (whatever reasons) then, maybe, feels sad that that impacts their life together.
        2) On some level, he doesn’t care about the longer-term plans (or actively resists them but in a passive-aggressive way, like “if I lose my job we won’t be able to proceed with this” — I hope this isn’t the case, but I have come across too many people where it is) or for some reason is incapable of thinking about the longer-term right now.

        1. My Other Half*

          I don’t think any of those are true in this case. He’s been working for 25+ years and is highly regarded in his field. He’s never been fired or even reprimanded at job. The job in general is not a good fit for him and he just doesn’t mesh with the team which has mostly led to this. He is genuinely extremely upset about the situation he has put our family in. I don’t think he took the first situation as seriously as he should and let us guard down when joking with a friend.

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

            Ah, thank you for the additional understanding, maybe I was wrong in my speculations.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Never been in your spouse’s shoes. I can tell you what I did when I was in your shoes: I told him to come up with a plan. A written document that described everything he was going to do to prevent the stupid thing from happening again. I helped him with it even. And laminated it.

      Being productive is far more useful than being emotional. Anger, guilt and shame spirals won’t get either of you anywhere.

      1. voyager1*

        I agree with your last paragraph. However your first paragraph sounds really infantilizing. I mean laminating it? Seriously? Did you hang it on the refrigerator too? I honestly can’t imagine my wife doing something like that, but then again I have never done anything to get fired or nearly fired from a job.

        1. Elizabeth I*

          I interpreted it more as a document to show to the managers at work, to reassure them that you are taking the mistake seriously and will NOT do it again. If that’s what was meant, I think it’s a great idea, and something to do ASAP. (If this was intended instead to be a shame-y document to hang on their fridge at home, then that would not be a good idea in my book.)

          1. voyager1*

            That sounds no better honestly Elizabeth. If one messes something up at work, sure make a checklist if you need help. But to make it at home and laminate it to take to work and show the boss, seems bizarre.

            1. Elizabeth I*

              Well yeah, the laminating would be a bit weird, I guess I must have skimmed over that part!

              But I think doing something to show to the boss that you have spent some time to reflect on your major mistake and have a plan for how to make sure it doesn’t happen again will come across positively to the boss. It shows you are taking it seriously and taking ownership for fixing it.

        2. Amber Rose*

          I was joking about that bit, but I guess common sense is the rarest superpower. Why the heck would I laminate it, seriously.

          1. Thankfully former grad student*

            You honestly come off so condescending that it’s hard to know when you’re joking.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Ok, I think that was more a case of the old “typed text can’t convey tone, that’s why we invented and tYpInG LiKe ThIs,” but your reply was amusingly snarky. Possibly uncalled for, but amusing nonetheless.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Ok, I meant to add [ / s ] but apparently it gets eaten – guess this site really doesn’t like explaining when something’s meant to be sarcastic.

          2. Kiwi with laser beams*

            Thanks for providing OP with a good example of how the spouse shouldn’t behave about his mistake!

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        That would make me feel really awful and like my spouse thought I was stupid. So you have to know your partner.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah. I agree. My husband did a stupid thing at work. He got written up for it. He had never been written up before in his life. He was so upset. He had forgotten a customer. Anyway, he was that kind of upset where it is hard to even sit in a chair. He stood and did some pacing back and forth.

          I pulled out of him the details of what happened. And honestly, I put on my coworker hat. I pretended i was talking to a coworker who was confiding in me about an error that I could not fix. I super controlled my tone of voice and my emotions.
          Here’s why: What’s done is done. He was clearly upset already, more upset from me was not going to make him feel worse as he already felt awful. And yeah, I thought about what if *I* were telling him I did something stupid at work. If you think about it, you have the luxury of sitting back because the folks at work will rain on him- you don’t have to rain on him.
          So I talked to him about ways to stand up for himself- such as apologizing and showing a plan that it will never happen again and showing plenty of willingness to fix the current issue.

          Yeah, I was really nervous for him. But I did not let him see that. I am guessing there may be background here for the two of you? If so that makes it really hard. My husband’s health was falling apart. He was keeping a front and I could not get him to talk to me about his health concerns. For him to forget a customer was unimaginable, totally uncharacteristic. I wanted to say, “Well if your health wasn’t falling apart you wouldn’t have forgotten.” I didn’t say that, I limited my comments to the immediate problem. If this resonates with you, don’t stack other problems on with this problem. Just talk about the at-work problem and deal with other stuff later.

          So I talked about the most worrisome employees are the ones who stand there and insist, “I did NOT do anything wrong.” It’s so simple and it resolves 50% of the problem if someone just admits, “Yeah, I did screw up. I am sorry.”
          He should think about what happened and what steps he will take to clean up any messes that are under his control to clean up. Then he should think about what he will do in the future to prevent another occurrence.

          Ya know what surprised me in all this, I was more upset over him being accused/written up than if it happened to me. And that came out of me as anger- I was angry with him for messing up. I did manage on some level to realize it was the wrong use of anger or misplaced anger.

          Only say things you believe to be true. I believed my husband could work through the problem so I told him that. I reminded him that he had a very long work history of good performance and he should draw on that now.

          In a different and extreme example a friend got fired. His wife found him home early and knew something was wrong. He said, “She just told me she loves me and said we would get through this together and she hugged me.” He said that meant the whole world to him and he reset his work life because of this. He too had done a stupid thing and it cost him his job. Again in this case, the pressure of finding a new job was enough “punishment” and the wife realized she did not have to add to the pile of crap he would already have to sort through.

    3. MaryAnne Spier*

      I’m sorry. My partner went through this a few years ago. Whether or not his job was actually in danger, I really don’t know, but he made a comment to another coworker that a third coworker overheard and took out of context and reported it to his manager. (I wasn’t there but it was something like… Partner was talking to a coworker he has a good rapport with and the person asked how to undo xyz in the software because they’d made a mistake and did something; Partner laughed and said, “well, that was stupid!” Coworker also laughed and said yeah, it was a silly mistake, they fixed it easily, and life moved on. But a third person heard Partner make the comment an was offended on the other person’s behalf.) He really thought he was in Big Trouble and it turned out to be nothing; his manager just said to be careful joking around when others can overhear and misunderstand.

      But yeah, it was stressful. I just tried to reassure him that it didn’t sound like that big a deal in context, that his manager had known him long enough to know he wasn’t the type to harass people at work, and we talked about the worst-case scenario if he did have to find a new job. I didn’t tell him how he should have acted, I just made sure he knew I was there in case it didn’t work out.

      1. My Other Half*

        This is almost the exact same situation here. And we talked about what he needed to do to get in everyone’s good graces again…and instead of being on his best behavior he said something that actually was offensive when he was already on thin ice. I’m having a hard time getting over the fact the one time he does something highly offensive was when he was already on notice. Or is this just the first time he’s been caught.

        1. Reba*

          Is this out-of-the-ordinary behavior? It’s a really really really stressful time, so it’s not that surprising that people are getting snappish or short-fused. Not excusing your spouse — I think you are understandably angry — but wondering if you see a pattern that’s worth addressing.

            1. Viette*

              I think this is really worth noticing. The situation may be salvageable, but from what you’re saying it may not be *sustainable*. Your spouse is extremely unhappy with his job in general; he’s acting like a different person — stressed, irrational, thoughtless, accidentally offensive in ways you’ve never seen. Part of the upset and anger you feel seems to be from the feeling that he can do better than he did and that this is not the person you married/you know he can be/he would be if only he tried. But you see what crazy irrational sh*t people write in about doing when they’re being burned out and messed up in a horrible job.

              You guys have big plans together, but how much longer can he do this? Not, “until he consciously stops doing it”, but “until he is so miserable and irrational that he screws it up permanently despite trying”. It might help you both to focus less on the idea that he absolutely could have done better and not screwed up your lives if only he’d tried harder, and more on the idea that this is not a sustainable situation, and you should make some concrete Plan Bs.

              It sucks to lose something good you planned in the future, especially in the home stretch, but if he can’t actually get through this horrorshow of a job that’s making him incredibly miserable, then you shouldn’t both be counting on him to do so.

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

          Feel free to disregard it if it doesn’t fit your situation, as I don’t know you, of course. But I would urge you to think about (as I implied a bit in a comment above), I think there are only 2 possibilities here for why he would say something offensive when he was on thin ice already.
          1) He is just unaware of “reading the room” and “context” and things like that, and just said the thing because it occurred to him and he didn’t really have in mind the previous context (or didn’t think it applied) or had just forgotten about it, or he didn’t perceive it as offensive. Or..
          2) [I get the feeling that you are on to this sentiment, because you say something like ‘I have a hard time getting over the fact that these 2 things happened so close together’] is it possible that he wants to be caught? Why?

          I’m sorry to say it, but you should think about, and tactfully ask about (even if it’s as I hope, to rule it out!) the possibility that he isn’t entirely on board with y’all’s long-term plans.

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

        we talked about the worst-case scenario if he did have to find a new job.

        But it sounds like there was a plan in place for finding a new job. But what if he didn’t find one?

    4. Secretary*

      I mean first, is your husband generally good willed?
      Assuming this is the case, unconditional respect. You don’t have to like what he did at all, but you can respect him for courageously walking into work and trying to fix this (and it is courage, I would be quaking in my boots! He could quit instead, leave your family and hide in a cave for the rest of his life).
      He’s probably lost some respect at work and that must feel awful, and it would probably be a huge support to know his spouse respects him and believes in him. That will strengthen your marriage as you two walk through this.

    5. valentine*

      I tend to think of support as positive/cosigning. If you really can help him save his job and you’re a team, focus on that and set aside your anger and fear until the decision’s made. (But tell him you’re doing that.) And redirect yourself each time you start fuming. Even scheduling it keeps you in the space.

      If he does keep his job, don’t let anyone talk you into keeping sweet. You have a right to be angry that he risked the entire fam. Just because you averted disaster doesn’t mean you don’t need a postmortem. And he, preferably on his own, needs to make a plan to avoid a repeat.

      What if you ask him to write in (without your help) for advice on how to address it?

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      My spouse recently did something stupid. I gave myself a few days to be pissed and then I put the pissed off part to the side, though I chatted with a few trusted people about the pissed off part. We are married and I literally thought of the “for better or worse” line in the typical wedding ceremony to help me put the pissed off part of me to the side. I focused on the supporting him part. I’ve never sort of split my feelings/thoughts into parts like that but it really helped me. Both parts of me were ok, but both parts of me were not ok to share with spouse at that moment. It gave spouse time to heal and move forward and now we both acknowledge the strain spouse created and the poor decision making that led to it and we are good (and my 2 parts are together again).

      Best to you, this is hard!

    7. RagingADHD*

      Find a confidant who is not him, and preferably not a close family member, to vent & process your anger for the time being. Make it someone who will listen & support you without either being dismissive or throwing fuel on the fire.

      You can’t just stuff it down or switch it off – it will leak out either in your health or into the relationship. But at the same time, he needs to get back on his feet before you adress it with him directly. That kind of conflict with a spouse (especially when justified) can make people shut down and not function well.

      You definitely need support, so make sure you’re getting it from someone helpful.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        If you’re going to do this, be mindful of the other person’s relationship to your spouse, and how you’re affecting it with your venting. Consider making a throwaway account on reddit or something and ranting there.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That’s why I advised “not a close family member”.

          I’ve been the confidante for a friend who was going through some issues with their spouse, and it was a good fit because I didn’t really have much of a relationship with the spouse anyway. I only was connected through the friend, so I could just support her.

          It helps to choose a confidant with a short memory – or who acts like they have a short memory. Because the point of venting is to let those feelings go. You don’t want the other person holding into them or bringing them back up later.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            But if it’s an acquaintance who doesn’t really know your spouse well outside of all your ranting to them about the worst bits of your spouse? That brings up its own problems.

            1. RagingADHD*

              A lot of married people have close friends who are their own friend, not really close with the spouse. I’m not entirely sure what problems you imagine could arise from asking a friend for support.

              I guess if someone doesn’t have any non-toxic friends to talk to, then that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

      2. allathian*

        I would definitely recommend talking to a therapist, if there’s any way OP can afford it. They’re paid to listen and what’s more, everything is confidential.

    8. Nita*

      We were in this situation a few years ago. My husband’s workplace suddenly turned toxic under new management. In a few months, he went from being a shoo-in for his boss’s job when she retires, to being managed by the new VP’s buddy’s son, who would undermine him at every step, spread rumors about him, and make it very clear to his reports that he has zero authority now. Naturally, my husband’s first step was to start sending out resumes, but the job search took a lot longer than planned. In the meantime, I guess he let the stress get to him, because he did a gumption-y thing that he thought might get him promoted. Instead it landed him in hot water, and we thought he’d get fired. It worked out for the best though. Management decided they don’t have enough grounds to fire him, so he got reassigned to a different department where he picked up new skills that helped him get out (another year later, but better late than never).

      I was a little bit upset with him, but mostly I understood that at that point he felt trapped and was desperate to do something to get out. I couldn’t be very mad at him, when two managers in other departments had just dropped dead of sudden heart attacks – neither one old, so likely the work stress was a factor. Instead we jumped into planning what we’d do if he did get fired, with the mindset that if he loses that job it’s for the best.

  22. Wordnerd*

    CW politics
    My boss sprang this video on us during an informalish lunch Zoom meeting, and it has absolutely thrown me for a loop. No context, no real debrief. It felt really confrontational and contextless, in addition to feeling like, “Do you want us to discuss politics at work?? Really??” I went down the hall to my gay colleague’s office afterwards and he said he felt sick to his stomach. Thoughts on how to address it?
    Search for “Ted talk friendship survives opposing politics”

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I don’t think I want to watch the 14-minute video, but the summary of it makes it sound pretty cringey. Having your boss show that at work makes me think that it would feel like pressure for marginalized people to accept behavior and speech in the workplace that further marginalizes them, rather than rock the boat by taking issue with a coworker’s “political” differences. It would also make people whose words and actions create a hostile workplace for others feel justified in protesting that they are being punished for their “political” beliefs if they were chastised for that behavior. I wonder if you and your similarly-feeling colleague could find some like-minded others to approach the boss as a group and talk about these potential consequences, and ask that rather than encouraging people to “just get along” with others, if the management could make a strong statement about how the workplace needs to be a welcoming environment for people of all kinds, and that this means discussions about political issues shouldn’t be happening in the workplace.

      1. Wordnerd*

        Thank you – honestly, this is exactly what I was feeling but was struggling to articulate it. (also, gosh, do not watch it. It was smarmy and overrehearsed and generally the pits.)

      2. Always Late to the Party*

        I only got through 6 minutes but boy that talk has not aged well. I could *maybe* see it being OK around the time it came out but the extent to which our society has devolved since that time…no. Disagreeing about the Women’s March seems so trivial compared to the the current societal climate.

        Knowing nothing else about your boss, it sounds like it was a swing and a miss to send the message “we can all still work together even if we have different political views.” Is this an active issue at your work place?

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        There are two examples I like to use in situations like this. The first is the saying “if you invite wolves and sheep to dinner, really you’re just inviting wolves.” The second is the old Aesop’s fable about the chicken and the pig, where they’re discussing what nice thing they should do for the farmer and the chicken says “let’s give him a ham and eggs breakfast,” and the pig goes “ok, that requires a lot more from me than it does from you.”

        Basically, there’s a difference between opinions that dehumanize people for their gender/race/sexual orientation/etc. and opinions on not wanting to be dehumanized.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I LOVE both of these, especially the chicken and the pig one. That sums up exactly how I feel about expecting marginalized people to be tolerant of opinions that have dangerous and toxic ramifications for them.

          The only way I could harmoniously with people who don’t understand the above is with a firm agreement that certain things are Not To Be Spoken Of, Ever at work.

    2. voyager1*

      If it is the Ted Talk with the two ladies, then I think that is approximate at work, especially if the company doing some kind of E&I work.

      I actually enjoyed the talk.

      I imagine most people who find the talk to be distasteful are folks who dehumanize anyone who don’t think like them. Both sides of the political spectrum in the US have that as a core problem in their own identity.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I’d agree but thinking there are “good people on both sides” when one side identifies as ne0-nazis and is shooting others for their beliefs does not work for me. I don’t need to dehumanize them, they have already done that on their own.

        1. Joielle*

          This. If you can really, wholeheartedly look at US politics right now and think it’s just a difference of opinion…. you don’t really understand the scope of what’s happening. Or you don’t care. Which is both shitty and a massive, massive privilege.

          It sounds like the video is pressuring marginalized people to be nice to people whose politics are actively harming them. I’m not doing that anymore, and nobody else should have to.

          AND, why is this being brought up at work at all?? If you know enough about a coworker’s conflicting politics that you don’t want to be friends with them, there is too much political talk at the workplace. If the boss is a fan of this video, I’d be on high alert for other abhorrent opinions.

          1. Joielle*

            Also like… if your politics are such that you’re afraid people won’t be friends with you anymore if they find out, maybe that’s a sign that you’ve done something wrong! Ugh. Sorry, this is a tangent. This kind of thing just really gets me steamed.

            1. voyager1*

              I am a Democrat in a very red state. So yeah I don’t exactly announce that to everyone I know or want everyone to know.

              That being said it does seem to be getting better around here the last few years. Seeing more signs in yards for Dem candidates.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        Disagreeing with someone else’s viewpoint isn’t dehumanizing them. Disliking someone for their political beliefs is perfectly justified. It’s something they chose for themselves, and they get to experience the consequences of it.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          I should add that as a liberal, my issues with conservatives have nothing to do with the fact that they may dislike me for my political beliefs. Like DUH, of course they disagree with my politics. It is the values at the root of their beliefs I have an issue with.

          1. Paperwhite*

            Yeah, I saw a comment that I thought was very instructive. It went something like, “As a queer person of color all a conservative has to do for me to agree with them is change their mind about me. But all I have to do for them to agree with me is to stop existing.”

          2. Katrinka*

            Well, their values and their actions. Because I don’t care as much about what you believe in. But when you use that belief to hurt someone else? We’re gonna have problems.

      3. Paperwhite*

        I imagine most people who find the talk to be distasteful are folks who dehumanize anyone who don’t think like them. Both sides of the political spectrum in the US have that as a core problem in their own identity.

        Your imagination is too narrow, and your use of the term “dehumanize” to describe pushing back against being told to swallow bigotry silently, rather than the actual instruction that marginalized people swallow bigotry silently, is kind of ironic.

        1. voyager1*

          I would make the point the right is far more prevalent with the dehumanizing and with violent means. I think Charlottesville and Kenosha have been turning points. But the left isn’t perfect either. People need to stop with crazy escalating rhetoric and just sit down and solve issues. Unfortunately IMHO there is too much money to be made on enragement, until that changes it is just going to be more of the same.

          1. pancakes*

            Good thing not a single person said or suggested the left is perfect, then! If you truly believe money is at the heart of the problem here, individual people sitting down to “solve issues” together seems very unlikely to remedy it.

            1. voyager1*

              pancakes,
              I don’t know if you are being cynical or not.

              People make hand or fist money trafficking enragement. You think people like Tucker Carlson work for free because they like being on TV? And he is just one individual. He is not the only one but probably one of the more egregious ones.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                The money to be made in outrage politics is separate from the necessity for political change. News stations made money covering the sit-in riots of the 1960s. That doesn’t mean it was ok to prevent black people from eating at restaurants, or that black people were just being inflamed by the media into wanting to go to non-segregated schools. Billie Holiday made money singing “Strange Fruit.” That doesn’t mean people needed to just cool off and sit down together over the topic of lynching people.

                Black people aren’t fools being tricked by media – they are very validly angry about the fact that police have a bad habit of brutalizing them and killing them unnecessarily, and without consequence, and also the fact that their YEARS of very polite BLM kneeling protests were demonized and ignored.

              2. pancakes*

                I don’t know how you got the idea that by questioning your priorities, I was somehow questioning whether or not the pundit industry is profitable. That’s a rather strained misreading of my comment.

        1. Paperwhite*

          Inspiring to people who want to heap micro-aggressions (and not-so-micro aggressions such as misgendering) on their coworkers and then say those coworkers don’t get to complain in the name of “getting along” and “political differences”.

  23. Nikki*

    Wondering if anyone has tips for transitioning into a new industry. My husband has been an Ostrich Analyst for the last five years but was recently laid off. Most Ostrich Analyst positions are at banks. His former employer is a corporation unrelated to banking, and the one other non-banking company in town with an Ostrich department is not currently hiring, so his only real option to stay in this position is to work at a bank. He’s applied for a number of Ostrich Analyst positions and has been rejected without an interview for all of them, sometimes with the feedback that they’re looking for someone with banking experience. My husband thinks, from reading the job descriptions, that about 80% of the job description matches up with his recent position and the other 20% that’s banking specific he would pick up quickly. Before becoming an Ostrich Analyst, he was in sales and picked up the Ostrich Analyst job so quickly that he was promoted twice in five years, so I think that’s an indicator that he’s a quick learner. It just feels like a catch-22 when he can’t get a job in banking because he doesn’t have banking experience, but he can’t get that experience if no one will hire him. His cover letters make a good case for why he’d be a good fit but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. MissGirl*

      If there’s enough competition then they will default to the person with the most direct experience. Is he leveraging his network?

      1. Nikki*

        Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much of a network that could help. He doesn’t know anyone at any of the banks with Ostrich departments. His previous company was the kind of place people stay at for their entire careers, so everyone he know in this field is either still working at that company or also looking for a job.

    2. Red Tape Producer*

      One thing I’ve picked up working as a very specific type of Analyst is that sometimes you need to stop looking for a specific job title and look for jobs matching my hard skills. I struggled to find a “Penguin Aanlyst” role, but now work as a “Llam Advisor” because they required many of the same skill sets.

      Has your husband tried looking in the insurance field? I worked in a niche insurance brokerage for a couple years as what was basically a business analyst role (my title was project manager for some stupid reason). There’s a lot of overlap with the banking industry and I know insurance is one of those fields where they are open to training up because the subject matter expert pool is more like a puddle. No one chooses to go into insurance, they kind of fall into it.

      1. Nikki*

        He’s looked a bit into insurance, but has spent most of his time so far focused on banks. That’s good to know that they’re more open to training people. That might be a good avenue to check into. Thanks!

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      This is where having a network is critical. Does he have any contacts with any Ostrich Analysts at banks? Now is the time to shoot them an email letting them know he is looking, and asking for advice on how to make the switch into the banking world. It is possible (likely) that if he is known to be an excellent Ostrich Analyst, someone who knows him would be willing to take the chance.

    4. AP*

      Do you know why these firms want previous banking experience? Is it because they want someone who’s worked on a trading desk? Then in his cover letter/resume he can emphasize any experience in high-stakes, stressful, fast-paced environments. Or maybe it’s because they want people with specific domain knowledge: For example how to price an option or calculate VaR. If it’s the latter case it may not be easy to get an interview without prior experience but he could try doing some independent reading or taking a MOOC and documenting that on his resume.

      1. Katrinka*

        Yes, he definitely needs to address in his cover letter the fact that he doesn’t have industry experience, a specific skill, or whatever requirement he doesn’t meet. What he wants to do is explain how his job experience has given him the KNOWLEDGE they want. That’s usually the reason for experience requirements. They don’t want to have to explain things from the ground up, so whatever he can do to ease those fears is what will help him. And the fact that he’s addressing it shows them that he’s put thought into it and realizes where he’s weak and has a plan to overcome that. If he’s not addressing the elephant in the room, hiring managers will move him to the nope file.

        And if he doesn’t know the industry well, he should research it and maybe reach out to someone who is in a similar position in banking and talk with them to discover where he might be coming up short/\.

        1. New Senior Mgr*

          This. I’d also mention twice being promoted in 5 years from x to y because of your ____ skills. Good luck!

  24. Lainey Lake*

    I’m looking for some advice or good resources on resetting/rebuilding my LinkedIn presence. I know I could google this but as with other job-hunting advice I suspect there is some really bad information out there, so any personal recommendations and experiences would really help.

    After 16 mostly positive years in the same industry I left a horrible, toxic job 3 years ago and moved to an entry level position in another field to recover and consider my future direction. LinkedIn wasn’t necessary to getting my current job which doesn’t really involve professional networking and I basically abandoned my LinkedIn profile – I never even updated my leaving date from horrible job due to the effects of burnout at the time. Now I’m planning a new career direction I’m really excited about which will draw on skills from my old field and will require more professional networking presence. Apart from belated updating my previous and current position are there other things I should be doing? I’m not a big social media user in general and my previous LinkedIn use was pretty basic (an online CV and a few endorsements from and for close colleagues), so I’m not sure what else might be useful or where to start. Also I have ignored any (mostly speculative) approaches on LinkedIn for the last 3 years and I’m not sure if this looks bad and could make it harder to rebuild or if it is just residual guilt and shame from my burnout making me over-think this.

    1. Fabulous*

      LinkedIn has a job board now, so you could try utilizing that. Add contacts from your current and previous positions to build up your network. They also have assessment tests you can take to get badges or something like that for your profile that shows you’re proficient in certain software.

      I wouldn’t put too much weight on the endorsements section as anyone can endorse anyone for a skill they may or may not have.

    2. Katniss Evergreen*

      I use my LinkedIn as a platform for my resume and a bit more – the summary field can show employers a bit about you without having to submit a cover letter, so good recruiters will likely read this before sending you opportunities. I have my resume contents and other more minor accomplishments/specific knowledge points that don’t fit on my resume on my profile. Though I’m happy at my job, I also leave on the ‘open to opportunities’ flag for recruiters – it’s a free setting and doesn’t show your openness to just anyone who is on LinkedIn, only people with a recruiter account.

      I’ve been fleshing out my LinkedIn/resume since I started reading this blog several years ago, and some of the best advice I got was to take another look at these materials either at a set review date (annually, etc.) or when you finish a big project, so you remember what your most recent accomplishments were and the details haven’t gotten stale. I also realized last year that it was time to stop using an 8 year old picture for my profile – being fairly current with a professional-looking photo is always good!

  25. JustaTech*

    To anyone who makes surveys for work: if the very first question on a survey is “who is your manager?”, then the survey is not anonymous.

    Perhaps the word you are looking for is “confidential”? Or perhaps “private”? But if you ask me who my manager is, and my manager only manages two people, then it’s not anonymous.
    Signed, someone whose HR keeps doing this, but doesn’t feel they can complain without blow-back on their boss.

    1. musician*

      Yes! And if it asks for your department but your department has less than five people, it is also not anonymous. I’ve never actually voiced any concerns or strong opinions on surveys when there are questions like that, which makes the surveys pointless and/or inaccurate.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, a few years ago we had a “pulse” survey where someone way up the food chain decided that people asking about specific things they could do to be prepared for a big upcoming multi-year project was all of us “not being engaged” and our entire department got yelled at and lectured and had to prove our worth for like a year.

        Because we were excited about an upcoming project.

        None of us have given an honest survey since.

      2. TTDH*

        Even five people is really too few, especially when the organization isn’t very diverse. It can be extremely easy to pick out the response of an “only” on a team.

    2. Secretary*

      Can you write your frustration that the survey is not anonymous on the survey somewhere? :)
      Seriously, this HR dept needs to get. it. to-GETHER.

      1. JustaTech*

        If we were still in the office I would tell my HR rep in person (because I’ve worked with her long enough to trust her). And I would phrase it as “could you change this from anonymous to confidential?” rather than “why are you lying”.

    3. Nope.*

      If you can’t protect me from retaliation, you don’t want honesty, you want proof that “everything’s fine” for your conscience or your resume.

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      YES. My work used to do this. Branch -> Department -> Full-Time or Part-time -> manager or non manager -> How long have you worked here.

      We had a ton of Departments of One, or departments with one manager, one or two full-time employees, and a small handful of part-timers who could easily be identified by their length of employment. So the staff who had the most to say about the work environment, were all afraid to say anything.

      The staff who felt most comfortable answering because they had anonymity, were the part-timers who worked a few hours a week in high-turnover roles. But of course, most of them weren’t invested in the job enough to bother filling out the survey, and those that did, didn’t have much to say because they only worked a few hours a week.

      1. Darren*

        To be clear some surveys ask for all of these details, but then refuse to break down lower than an anonymous level but it’s impossible for you the employee to know that.

        If there is only 1 full-time person in Department X, you can’t get Department X data split by full and part-time. If Department X only has 2 responses in it no results for Department X (or any other departments at that level) and can only get the aggregation level above it.

        So the survey actually is anonymous but it doesn’t seem that way.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      yuuup. I recently answered an internal survey with ‘The answer to this question makes it not anonymous’.

      1. Goat girl*

        This is wise. I finally got fed up enough to answer a “pulse” survey honestly and do not believe it a coincidence that I was subject to a layoff shortly after. If I ever find work again, my survey responses will be sunshine, rainbow and unicorns no matter how anonymous the survey supposedly is.

    6. BeeJiddy*

      My faculty (I’m a uni student) did something similar a couple of months ago to see how we felt about the transition to online learning due to COVID. This questionnaire asked what our major was, what year of our degree we were in and which papers we were enrolled in next semester. Riiiight. Very anonymous! I understand why they would want this information, but given I have a pretty rare major and a unique combo of papers I would have been easily identifiable. No thanks!

  26. Former Usher*

    Time to vent: I feel like I’m being ghosted by my manager. I’ve been working from home since mid-March. We’ve only spoken twice since then. He said he’d set up monthly calls but hasn’t since we last spoke two months ago.

    I inquired about a promotion in 2019 and in April my manager asked me to write up a list of my accomplishments in support of that. Despite repeated follow-up emails, he didn’t even acknowledge receipt of my document until we spoke in July.

    I interviewed for another job. Although I didn’t get the job, I actually spent more time speaking with the hiring manager than I have with my own manager in the last six months.

    1. Kat Maps*

      I’ve been working remotely for the past 4 years. It was fine at first but and unfortunately for the past ~2 years I’ve experienced similar behaviour with my manager. I wish I had something to suggest to help remedy the situation, but I honestly don’t… I’m also looking for new employment. Good luck.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      This seems to be a thing lately. Since about May, I barely have any contact with my manager.
      I have more contact with my former manager on a different team I still do work for.

      It’s so bad, that I cannot even get purchase approvals for items that fall within my budget. Literally, my manager does not respond for 3-4 weeks, which puts projects at risk. Yet she asks for status updates every Friday – where I put in bright red bold text “Waiting for your approval.” I am seriously considering not sending these updates to her given that she can’t be bothered to respond to my basic requests. Very irritating.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I was furloughed for the month of April and during that time my former manager retired without telling or reaching out to anyone. We moved to WFH in May and since then I’ve had 2 interim managers. The first one had previously worked as a team lead in a neighboring department and I knew and liked her. The second one is someone I’ve never met. I wouldn’t know her if I saw her. I don’t dislike her, but I feel like I don’t know anything about her and the whole thing is just weird. She’s a disembodied voice on Skype, sort of like Alexa or someone.

  27. Amber Rose*

    My husband did end up using his network to prepare for his interview after I passed on people’s comments last Friday, which was good because I hear it was a lengthy, involved and difficult interview. He just texted me a ghost face after. We did a fair amount of prep at home on the proper wording of things and how to answer the “tell us why you want the job” question also so I think he did as well as anyone could be reasonably expected to.

    The problem is, he’s up against the person who has been doing the job already. Taking a job from someone already doing the work is a heck of an uphill battle. :/

    On my end, we have a meeting on the results of our HR audit, meetings about failed product, meetings about new procedures and a new person starting, but I am so burned out from worrying about the mess here that I guess I’ve just decided to focus on my husband’s job instead of mine.

    1. Katniss Evergreen*

      It’s good to have somewhere to place your energy, but I hope you’re both taking care of yourselves and don’t have all of your eggs in one basket for his job search. During the last search, I relied on my husband for “there’s something out there for you and I support you”-type advice and being stoic when jobs that sounded really good ghosted or rejected me – I’d have been totally demoralized if I’d seen him be disappointed.

      Good luck to you both!

  28. Environmental Compliance*

    Spouse has now been out of work for nearly 6 months due to COVID/moving across 2 states. He’s applied to many, many jobs, but there’s just not much in the area (design engineer). He’s looking into project management, as that is of interest to him.

    I think at this point, he may as well get his PMP. We can afford it, it would be beneficial.

    He’s very much struggling right now, as this is not something he’s had to deal with before.

    1. Summersun*

      The PMP exam is changing as of 02 Jan 2021, so if he wants to take that, he really needs to get a move on and not dilly-dally.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That’s good to know! I know part of it right now is 1) not wanting to stress finances and 2) a preference to do it in person, but for 1) we’re fine – we still are maxing out retirement contributions, we have a healthy savings egg, we are very lucky and diligent to stay totally within 1 person’s salary, which we have done for years now and 2) I really don’t think in-person is going to happen anytime soon.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          He wants to take the exam in person? I’m not sure what sort of oddities they have incorporated to manage people taking it at home, but as long as you have reliable internet, I don’t think it would be much different taking it at home. I took it at a Prometric center in 2019, and you have the test proctor going in and out of the room setting up people for other tests at cubicles during your test. It’s not that great.

          You didn’t ask, but if he doesn’t have the education hours, you can do a self-paced study prep course on Udemy for like $10-$20 that provides all the hours. I did PMP Exam Prep by Joseph Phillips. It was a good course. I did the review course with the assignments, and passed the first try. (I did have a lot of background in this material. . .not sure how much of that he’s done in his design role or college classes. Seems to vary a lot.)

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yeah, I’m not incredibly sure why he’s focused on in person v online. I’m pretty sure he’d do totally fine online, and with all of my certs that moved online, there’s really not been a huge difference. Honestly, working online for those has been easier in a lot of ways.

            He should have all the hours, but Udemy would be a good option. Maybe just as prep (and mostly confidence building) even if he does have the hours. He has done a lot of that type of work in previous positions, just not with the fancy piece of paper. I believe his senior project incorporated a lot of that as well.

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

      Prepare for the PMP.

      Take any job in the meantime that is generating income, like data entry via agencies or similar.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Right now he still gets unemployment, so he’s using all the time he can for job searching. But he is starting to slowly drop down levels in roles he’s looking at. He’s trying to get some volunteer hours, but just like everything else, it’s closed down for the vast majority.

        In any case, we really don’t need 2 salaries, so income-wise we’re fine. Mentally, he’s struggling.

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

    Finally… MY VACACTIONS ARE APPROVED!! * throws confetti *
    (It’s just a week, but at least I’m going to sleep a bit more and tidy my stuff)

  30. buzzbuzzbeepbeep*

    My job title got rescinded last week! A year ago, I was told that I am moving up to a new job title as part of a company reorganization. I started operating under that new job title from that point on. I am signing off on stuff, managing staff, and making lots of decisions for the company. The only “official” sign that I had of my new title was the organizational chart had it listed. Unfortunately the company hasn’t filed the paperwork to make the reorganization real yet. Last week the company had to post an official organizational chart and it has everyone reset to their original job titles and original roles because the paperwork hasn’t been filed. This is super annoying! I am still expected to act in the new role, but now there is no proof of what my role is. I even had to hand in a CV last week to be on file that did not have my new job title on it (I had to make a new one because the old one had my new title and they couldn’t accept that since the title doesn’t exist yet). As flimsy as having only the org. chart as the only documentation of my new title is, it was at least something. Now I feel like I should make a stink about not having any proof that I should be working at the level I am working at. I also feel like the company should get their act together and file the darn paperwork to make the change real. Ugh!

  31. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Can we talk about shows related to professional life (i.e., law, police etc)?

    Nothing like being in the workforce for a few years to realize that everyone on the show Suits is horribly unprofessional. I loved the show when it first came out but now I find myself wondering how the people around them even put up with them. I’m finding myself on the side of basically every antagonist on that show.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Felt that way about Boston Public (I was a high school teacher in that area around the time).

      I’m not a doctor, but I have doctor friends. I was surprised to hear from them that the most realistic medical show on TV is Scrubs.

      And now that I work in IT, I can promise you almost all the techno-babble you hear on TV shows is ridiculous.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I watched that as a 15 year old and even then knew shooting a gun in class was super outlandish. The affair with a student, sadly not so much.

          1. MaryAnne Spier*

            And the teachers going to the kid’s house to tell his parents he needs to be medicated. I’ve had parents straight-up ask if I thought a kid should be medicated and I am not legally allowed to comment one way or another!

      1. Secretary*

        Scrubs is my favorite show. It’s very wacky, but 99% of the medical info is accurate. They actually use real cases for some of their stories and had medical professional advisors.

        1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

          My husband and I to this day use the line “what was I supposed to do, throw it away?” at least once a week. :)

      2. Just a PM*

        The show that had the most accurate techno-babble was Silicon Valley, but only in the first couple of seasons. It went off the rails towards the end and it felt like they were doing techno-babble for the sake of techno-babble.

        There’s an early episode of Silicon Valley where they talk about agile scrum and it was spot-on.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I asked my SW spouse about the tabs vs spaces thing and he said yeah, that’s definitely a Big Deal and is often explicitly included in company code style guides.

      3. OBMD*

        I am a doctor. Scrubs was absolutely my favorite medical show. Very realistic. Couldn’t get past 10 minutes of ER or Grey’s anatomy.

    2. CTT*

      I’m an attorney and I tend to end up ignoring the lack of professionalism/actual legal issues in law shows because now that I’ve had a few years in practice, I’m just annoyed that no one has made a workplace sitcom about corporate and transactional lawyers. (I think the closes I’ve ever seen was the evil law firm on Angel? I feel like Lilah was corporate).

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’ve heard the same about Scrubs. The best thing I saw all week was a tweet/meme that said “Doctors in medical dramas when a patient has a mystery illness: I must examine every symptom and run every test, I won’t rest until I’ve cracked this case!” Doctors IRL when a patient has a mystery illness: hmmm have you considered htat you’re faking it?” >> I find that to be so realistic.

        On another note, I’m surprised that there’s still no show about accountants.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Yes, Wolfram & Hart is sadly plenty accurate (minus all the demons). Lilah and Lindsay were both corporate (and my faves).

    3. JustaTech*

      When I was in college at a super-nerd tech school we loved to make fun of (but still enjoy) CSI’s impossible assay turn around times. (No one was doing PCR that fast in the early 2000’s.)

      Mostly I get frustrated at shows like Leverage (which I love) where Pharma companies are automatically evil. We’re not all evil!

      1. Secretary*

        I love Leverage too! I love watching it with people who get mad at it.
        I would watch with my very computer savy Dad, and every time Hardison hacks something my Dad would be like, “THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE ON SO MANY LEVELS.”

        I later watched with my physical combat trained husband, who found everything Elliott did hysterical. Like knocking out 3 guys before his bag he dropped hits the floor.
        My husband: “That’s like, against the laws of physics.”
        Me: “He’s just that good!” ;)

      2. VelociraptorAttack*

        I loved CSI when it first came out and then when I re-watched it during my maternity leave I was like oh, this is a lot of unprofessional behavior….

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I did study criminal justice (and worked in a testing lab where chain-of-custody was very important) and the forensics in certain shows and films make me gnash my teeth. It took some doing for me to ignore all the junk in Hannibal but I loved the show even though it was completely over the top.

      3. Usernames are hard*

        OMG, I love Leverage as well but literally every time they mentioned *anything* about intellectual property it was 100% wrong.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        oh man I love B99! But I’m feeling weird about cop shows now. Been watching reruns of Law and Order SVU and so many things leave a strange impression now.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a cavalcade of police misconduct and constitutional violations that are simply hard to watch for anyone who’s at a heightened risk of trouble when it comes to involvement with the criminal justice system. Playing their nonsense for laughs is just so tone-deaf, it can be incredible.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Yep, I’m completely humorless about that show. The incidents and pratfalls that they play for laughs drive me up the wall.

              1. Joielle*

                SAME HERE. I’m an attorney, used to do part time public defense work, and I have NO sense of humor when it comes to cop shows. They do so much unconstitutional stuff and it results in people having no idea what their rights are, because they see it on TV and think it’s normal. I haven’t watched B99 because I pretty much stopped watching all cop shows years ago.

                People being like “it isn’t that deep” – it IS that deep!

                1. Glomarization, Esq.*

                  I’m a lawyer. I don’t do crim defense, but I’ve worked crim law-adjacent with an org that assists people who are re-entering society after spending time in prison, and with Four-Letter Acronym Civil Liberties Org on 1st, 4th, 14th Amendment issues. Where Brooklyn Nine-Nine kills me is when it gets all “ha-ha! We just totally busted down that completely guilty guy’s door without a warrant or warrant exception!” or “we all know he did it, so we roughed him up, haw-haw!” and we’re supposed to laugh.

                  Dramatic procedural shows, whatever. (If you can’t stand ’em, though, do yourself a favor and don’t watch old B movies from the 1940s-’50s. Man, the police and court antics are looneytunes.) It’s the playing it all for comedy in B99 that personally I can’t stand.

            2. LDF*

              I used to enjoy all sorts of cop procedurals from the dramatic to the comedic and yeah, seriously. Even when I still enjoyed them, I couldn’t ignore how much they were constantly violating people’s civil rights with all those “oops the door just opened” and “I’m gonna yell at you until you confess. what’s a lawyer”. I always knew this but was able to still enjoy them by telling myself it was just for drama’s sake and there’s no way anyone would do this! Well, they do and no one blinks an eye. So yeah, I’m gonna stop watching copaganda.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I get it, totally. I binge watched a year or so ago and while I like the writing of jokes and the idea of the characters, the context makes it really hard to take. If it was taking place in, like, a restaurant or something, it wouldn’t be as problematic (or maybe it would, or some part of it – the context is so much a part of what’s acceptable and what’s not).

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Same; I witnessed a very suspicious traffic stop here a few days ago, which didn’t help.
          I also shelved my police procedural because although I did my homework, it just feels wrong and I have no desire to rewrite it. There is a nice cop in Current Project, but he is a side character.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I can take B99 because it’s silly enough to be like “this is a weird alternate universe where a guy developed a taste for human flesh after being force-fed some, and a police chief responded to a dognapping by trying to run off with a bunch of grenades while screaming ‘they took my fluffy boi!!!’ – it’s clearly not our NYC.” Same for Reno 911.

        I only dislike it if they try and make it seem realistic.

    4. Myrin*

      “I’m finding myself on the side of basically every antagonist on that show.”
      I’ve been laughing about this for five minutes. What a great line.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Lol, I feel like Anita Gibbs was basically stating what almost every viewer has been thinking for years – HES A FRAUD!

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

      I work in residential construction as a project coordinator. Movies and TV that show construction sites or construction managers are pretty bad sometimes. Not always, but a good majority are pretty laughable.

      I showed up for a happy hour with friends (in the Before Times) and someone acted very confused and asked me if I had just come from work. Me: “Yep, I had to run by the job site and then came straight here.” Friend: “Is THAT what you wear to work?? Aren’t you supposed to wear, like, those steel-toed boots or something?” I was wearing a nice sweater, jeans, and some Lucky Brand leather booties. I had to explain to her as long as I was wearing shoes that would protect me if I stepped on a nail, I was fine. Some days I wear tennis shoes. I’m not the one framing the house, so I have more flexibility in what I wear. She thought that was bonkers.

      1. Summersun*

        Yeah, I work adjacent to construction and building equipment. Not a GD thing related to pipes, vents, HVAC, or fire suppression products in TV/movies makes a lick of sense.

        Any scene where they bust a sprinkler and sexily stand around, getting soaked by the clear sparkling water? Yeah, stagnant fire system water is brown and smells like death. Even a regularly flushed system still has dead ends at the sprinkler heads.

        Also, no freaking museum would use a water suppression system around paintings, steel doors or no. They’d use a clean agent system. Looking at you, Thomas Crown Affair.

    6. Temperance*

      I hate any comedy about lawyering. Or any drama where lawyers are shown as freedom fighters. Most of our job is boring paper pushing.

    7. Absurda*

      OMG yes! The unprofessionalism is bad enough, but some medical shows where their “Brilliant A-Holes” (House, I’m looking at you) do things that are:
      -Illegal
      -Unethical
      -Likely to get the place sued
      -All of the above

      But are never punished or fired because they are such brilliant doctors. I stopped watching Night Shift when one doctor punched his superior but suffered no consequences except manager punching him back. I was too disgusted to keep watching.

      Brilliant A-holes abound in workplaces, of course, but no decently run place would put up with this level of toxicity and bad behavior for anyone.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also, none of their shit is EVER going to be paid for because they don’t document it – he’s six years behind on his charting, hee hee? Well, we can’t bill without his charting, and if it’s been more then 365 days (at the longest, most payers have shorter limits) they won’t even consider paying it. He’s got Cameron doing his charting? Medical fraud, he has to write (or at least dictate) his own documentation and sign off on it.

        (I love Sense8, but one of the first episodes, when the Chicago PD character carries a little boy who’s been gut-shot into a hospital ER and the nurse goes “Get him out of here, we don’t treat gunshot wounds,” I SCREAMED. There’s also a part where a transgender woman is seeking medical treatment for something and her parents are all “If you want us to use our insurance for this treatment, you need to stop pretending to be a girl” and I was like “THAT IS SO NOT EVEN HOW INSURANCE WORKS JESUS WEPT”.)

      2. LDF*

        I finished Night Shift but should have stopped much sooner. I was like whichever character said at one point “wasn’t this supposed to be a hospital and not a SWAT training center/war zone”.

    8. ONFM*

      As a Lady in Law Enforcement, I always enjoy watching how women are portrayed on cop shows. It seems that you need to be an absolute mess who is always on the verge of tears or an ice queen (esp if they’re a supervisor or in command). Very rarely do you see a calm, competent, not inappropriately involved woman on those shows. Too boring, I suppose.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I like Olivia. I used to follow discussions on another forum and holy crap the vitriol thrown at her for….being too sexual? Meanwhile she’s only been in a few monogamous relationships throughout the show and only after Elliot left (coincidence I think not).

          My issue with that show is that it is super unrealistic how many victims actually get justice and how trials happen so quickly. And (this goes for law and medical shows too) how they’re able to be on point after seemingly 24 hours of being on duty.

      1. Okumura Haru*

        It’s been ages since I’ve watched it, but Melissa Leo’s character from Homicide: Life on the Street is mostly appropriate and competent, as well as being a fascinating character.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Pretty sure there is not, unless you count shows on History or Discovery. Those are more about the stuff, not the people, but at least you get the Structural Engineer commenting on the bridge or something.

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

        Dilbert tv series was the closest thing to Engineering office life I’ve found so far.

      3. EnfysNest*

        I have an engineering background and work in construction contract management now and the most relevant to my job that I’ve seen is the villain backstory in Spiderman: Homecoming, where the backstory is that the badguy was a contractor who lost a lot of money when his project contract was cancelled by SHIELD because they wanted to coverup the alien tech or whatever their excuse was (I need to rewatch it, I don’t remember all the details). So the guy started selling super-powered weapons and became a villain to recover those lost costs. And the whole time I was just grumbling that all he had to do was submit a claim for the lost revenue because he was very clearly owed the money lost on the contract and he absolutely would have won that claim.

        But I guess becoming a supervillain was more appealing to him than just submitting an invoice? *shrugs*

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I laughed at that because Vulture had people selling alien tech out of the back of a van to small-time local crooks and not like, Russia or something. Even ATM robbers don’t have that kind of money.

      4. The New Wanderer*

        Better Off Ted was about an engineering company, whose products were often flawed in significant ways that happen in real life too. Like vision systems that don’t “see” black people.

    9. Okumura Haru*

      Most of the librarians I’ve seen in TV shows are either stereotypes, or their profession is ancillary to the plot.

      A public library would be a fascinating place to set a show, with lots of possibilities for comedy and drama, depending on how you would want to write it.

    10. lemon*

      My theory is that these shows are ridiculously unprofessional/dysfunctional because 1. that’s more entertaining (obviously), but also 2. because the entertainment industry is incredibly unprofessional/dysfunctional. So, I don’t think the people making the shows realize how far off-base they are.

      As entertaining as it is, I’ve always thought that Grey’s Anatomy is wildly unprofessional and problematic (it’s sexual harassment city). Then I read some interviews with Ellen Pompeo, where she basically calls out that the set was toxic the first 10 years. When the show started, she was paid half what Patrick Dempsey was making even though the show was named after her character. When she complained about it, she was told that Dempsey was the bigger star. When she tried to negotiate for more, she was told that her character could always be written off the show. And that made me think… oh yeah, no wonder this show is so dysfunctional– that’s how the entertainment industry is.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        My theory is that these shows are ridiculously unprofessional/dysfunctional because 1. that’s more entertaining (obviously), but also 2. because the entertainment industry is incredibly unprofessional/dysfunctional.

        And a lot of these writers have never held white collar industry jobs, so they have no idea what’s realistic to begin with.

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

      TV executives insist that all programmers are hackers, and the only woman is either a secretary or bait. The reality of my work day is more like Dilbert than Mission Impossible, and ‘book smart’ people quit sooner than later because you spend more time in meetings that writing proper code.

    12. Mill Miker*

      Not a lot of shows focus on software places, but a lot of police/detective shows love to have the seen where they go into some tech startup and there’s all the “nerds” that do the actual development. They’re almost always the stereotypical meek, no-social-skills, kinda gross portrayal of nerds, who can do wonders with a computer but can’t really think for themselves outside of that.
      As a developer, I’ve almost never actually encountered anyone like that. I’ve worked with plenty of developers that err more towards jocks than that stereo type. I have encountered bosses who want to treat all the developers like they match the stereotype though.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      The only show/film I though was remotely like real work was the movie Office Space.
      I even had a Milton at one place. And TPS Reports. And a boss who wouldn’t let us have any cake.
      Oh, and we also had something like the Bob’s come in to fire people. It wasn’t funny.

    14. Cedrus Libani*

      They’re looking for entertainment value, I get it – but if you actually have patients to save, legal briefs to write, or otherwise have work that you need to do while at your workplace, this cuts way down on the time you can spend antagonizing and/or seducing your coworkers. If the entire staff is devoted to full-time drama creation, how are you still in business? Nobody’s trying to yank the accreditation of that ER, since all the boring people with boring problems are either ignored until they leave or dumped on another hospital?

      The fictionalized workplaces that resonate with me are the ones that are less soap opera and more surrealism. Think Scrubs, and the first few seasons of Silicon Valley. They’re operating in broader strokes. Someone who’s worked in a clinic or a tech startup is likely to wince in recognition, but if you were watching actual hidden camera footage of the real-life incident that person is remembering, it would be a lot more weasel-worded and long-winded and corporate. What these shows are capturing is what it **feels like** when it’s happening to you in the real world, in real time, with real consequences.

    15. BJ*

      I’ve recently realized that Grey’s anatomy has turned into a science fiction show. I work in a research university supporting researchers, including lots of medical research, and the number of developments, discoveries, and advancements made by these regular surgeons is laughable.
      The discoveries themselves are ridiculous, of course. There’s no IRB, no double-blind trials, no stages (jumping from mice straight to people in clinical settings), etc., but the way they keep coming up with ideas like they’re prizes at the bottom of a coffee cup is straight up science fiction.

  32. I don't have time to be in the weeds*

    Hi all, I was hoping to get your thoughts on this situation that a friend was recently talking to me about, and what’s the best way to handle it:

    Back in April, my friend hired “Alice” for a hard-to-fill manager role in a niche area. Alice came from out of state and, as I understand it, was not reimbursed for her move, but the offer was contingent on her willing to make it. They were expected to be back in the office in early May at the time, and of course that didn’t happen, and they are all still 100% remote for the foreseeable future (our whole area is still pretty locked down – and also on the west coast near fires).

    My friend was lamenting that Alice isn’t performing as well as she expected from her interview and reference check. It sounds like she has been good with managing the team, but has been missing deadlines, losing track of things, etc. I pried a little and it sounds like Alice is single and lives alone, and that she didn’t know anyone in this city prior to moving here. To me it seems like Alice is probably struggling with the isolation she is has likely been experiencing for almost 6 months, but my friend (who has a large family who all live near each other) doesn’t understand why she would have a hard time when she doesn’t have to worry about kids in school, caring for family members, etc.

    AAM friends, what are your thoughts? How would you manage this situation?

    1. Natalie*

      I mean, has your friend asked Alice about any of this? It certainly could be isolation but it could also be a dozen other things – normal new job adjustments, unrealistic deadlines, adjusting to temp WFH, absorbing work from reports with childcare issues, the way virtual meetings seem to take twice as long as in person. This is her employee, she doesn’t have to guess, she can just ask her.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. She needs to have a conversation with Alice. She also needs to get it out of her head that just because Alice is single with no kids and no ailing family members to take care of that her life is just hunky dory right now – that’s just not true. In fact, if Alice is struggling for whatever reason, she has no one to help pick up the slack.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      If I was your friend I would have an honest conversation with Alice about how things are going and how to fix the issues with her work. However, I would be prepared to give much more slack than normal about her performance at the minute.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I have the same issue as Alice. I am utterly alone and well…. I am NOT doing well. But nobody else understands what it’s like when they have families at home vs. not.

      I unfortunately have no advice. I’m doing the best I can but it’s not good enough and I have been well deservedly penalized, and Alice probably will be too. If a manager isn’t going to cut someone slack for PANDEMIC, then there’s no hope.

    4. RestResetRule*

      I can relate to Alice. I moved for a new job to a new city a month and a half before COVID hit. I had a very limited amount of time to make friends and meet people, and it sounds like Alice’s situation is even worse. I think your friend might want to consider having more compassion for her. Living alone can be tough for anybody, let alone during this crazy time when we’re not supposed to be going out and seeing people. Just because somebody doesn’t have kids or is caring for family doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. I would suggest your friend talk to Alice and ask her about what support she needs to meet deadlines and succeed in her job. It also sounds like Alice gave up a lot to make it and take up a “hard to fill” position. Also, realizing that she might not get 100% from Alice during this time and coming to terms with that reality.

    5. Wintergreen*

      It sounds like Alice moved right at the start of all the madness. If I were Alice and moving to a new town, I’d probably have tried to find something quick and easy with the expectation of a more permanent space in a couple of months once I had a better idea of what part of town to live in, commute conditions, etc. Given the world went crazy, those plans could have been derailed/put on hold. The problem could be as simple as not having a less than ideal space for working from home, compounded by the disorganization of moving and new job training/on-boarding.
      I’m not discounting the difficulty of isolation on mental health, that could be a factor, but purely logistical this could have been a nightmare for Alice to deal with on top of a new job and your friend needs to be a little more understanding.

      1. Paulina*

        This sounds familiar to me. Early on in the pandemic I was having a lot of trouble juggling my different tasks, and my poor thrown-together WFH setup was a big culprit. Trying to do everything through a single screen (instead of multiple devices, paper, notepaper, and whiteboard) was very challenging. And like Alice, I am alone — nobody else to take care of, but also nobody to switch off with or provide shape to my day. Meanwhile, the many casual conversations that work-at-work usually has, that enable me to talk through things and would be even more useful to a new hire, are gone.

    6. blepkitty*

      Moving out of state for a job can take a huge psychological toll, regardless of pandemics. They like to teach you about culture shock when you move abroad, but I’ve found there’s a definite culture shock period every time I make a large move, even within the country. And being alone in a new city during covid is certifiably awful, I can confirm. Also, since you seem to be in the US, the political situation and wildfires aren’t helping anyone’s state of mind.

      But that’s not your friend’s place to address. She can mention the company’s EAP if there is one, but she should stick to the issues that need to be fixed. And have some grace. These aren’t normal times.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      So what has your friend done to help Alice organize her work so she is on time and does not miss things?

      Your friend would be wise to consider that Alice has moved for the job DURING Covid and she is doing this job alone.

      “doesn’t understand why she would have a hard time when she doesn’t have to worry about kids in school, caring for family members, etc.”

      This comment slays me. It’s hard not to get snarky. You can start by saying her parenthood status is not something that should be on your friend’s radar for any reason. Or not say this- but it’s something to think about.
      However, your friend has a choice here- she has to decide if she is going to lead by putting people down or lifting people up. She can list off the lack of family blah, blah, blah and be absolutely correct because Alice has no local family. This does NOTHING to solve your friend’s problem with Alice. Ask her how helpful that line of thinking is in getting different results out of her employee.

      The truth is because she can’t see her family/loved ones she is probably MORE worried not less.

      Steer your friend toward action plans. Yeah, let’s get a close look at some weeds here. Hopefully, your friend would have pointers on how to organize the work so that less is missed. Since your friend is the boss she should know that 6 months in a job is NOT long enough to learn most jobs out there. How often does your friend check in with Alice? Has your friend set Alice up with the resources and contacts she needs to do the job? Has your friend been abundantly clear what the company expectations are in light of Covid-19 and what type of support Alice can find?

      I think your friend’s lack of concern about Alice is a bit unsettling. The woman moved to take this job, I sincerely doubt she said, “I will get there and make sure that I am dropping balls and missing deadlines.”

    8. Pomona Sprout*

      “my friend (who has a large family who all live near each other) doesn’t understand why she would have a hard time when she doesn’t have to worry about kids in school, caring for family members, etc.”

      I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t want to work for your friend. :-\

  33. Introvered*

    I’m looking for some advice on what to say when you are constantly asked by coworkers what FUN plans you have for your weekend/holiday/PTO?

    Context: I am in a small office and I like my coworkers a lot, but they are pretty nosy and ask me literally every Friday/before every holiday and any time I am taking PTO “what fun plans do you have” and every Monday it’s “did you do anything fun this weekend?” I understand that they are trying to be nice and make conversation but it is very overwhelming to me and starting to grate on my nerves. My coworkers are all older than me with higher salaries and family in the area so they are always visiting family and going to expensive events/concerts and trips. I on the other hand am not only a homebody, but saddled with debt and have no money to take trips, and I also am far away from family. I often take PTO just to sleep in, run errands and watch movies. I’ve also been working through depression and sometimes take PTO just to get away from work and do nothing, which makes me even more anxious when I get peppered with questions about my time off.

    I have tried being vague and saying “oh not much” or “not sure yet” in the hope that they get bored asking, but the questions have only increased and I think they either think I am lying or just really weird. It also wouldn’t be so bad if it was a simple “how was your weekend” or “what did you do” but the questions are always specifically about “fun plans”. Help!

    1. Less Nosy*

      I frequently take PTO to just play video games, binge watch TV or get personal errands done but get asked what “fun” plans I have or what I did that was “fun.” That’s fun to me but I understand meticulously redoing my Animal Crossing island while watching Buffy for the 8th time isn’t fun for everyone.

      My favorite thing to do is frame it as a staycation. “I’m looking forward to a relaxing staycation, just hanging out around the house!” or, after the fact, “I had a nice staycation and now I’m feeling really refreshed, thank you for asking.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m watching Buffy right now for the 50th millionth time, and it definitely counts as FUN PLANS. Feel no shame, lol.

    2. CTT*

      I think “I’m going to catch up on errands and then watch a few movies” is a perfectly legit answer. Especially the movie part; I think it invites a follow-up question or two that are about the movie rather than how you spent your time.

    3. Web Crawler*

      I’m in a similar situation, but I started answering that question honestly- that my plans were to watch TV or maybe go on a hike. And surprisingly, they just rolled with it, even though their plans are always much more interesting. If they care, they might ask what TV show or if I know any good parks, but otherwise they asked, I answered, and the social obligation has been completed. (And then I can get details about their exciting mountain-climbing concert-going life.)

    4. Nicki Name*

      This is a pretty common form of office small talk and I’ve always found that “Not really” is a perfectly okay answer if someone didn’t do anything that sounds exciting or fun.

      1. Mynona*

        This. “Not really,”or “just the usual,” or “just hanging out” followed by a proactive “what about you?” The people who ask normally are planning something fun themselves and want an excuse to talk about it.

    5. Ranon*

      With the right tone of voice you can get away with saying things like “nothing, and it was glorious!”, “laundry!”, “organized my socks by color!” or “cleaned every inch of grout in my place with a toothbrush!”

      The main trick is to say it as though it’s the most fun thing you could possibly imagine.

    6. londonedit*

      It could just be another way of saying ‘How was your weekend’. I wouldn’t take it too seriously – I wouldn’t imagine they’re looking for actual examples of really fun stuff. It’s annoying that being vague hasn’t worked, though, but I agree that a good tactic might be to try sounding really enthusiastic about whatever you did do or are planning. ‘I spent the WHOLE WEEKEND on the sofa in my pyjamas! It was amazing!’ or ‘I am planning to get home, run a hot bath, and catch up with all the trashy property shows I’ve missed this week. Can’t wait!!’

    7. Temperance*

      I lean in hard to being the office weirdo. I have told people that I’m taking PTO in order to play Animal Crossing / binge the new season of a Netflix show / read all day / do nothing. I have learned that if you sound excited about whatever you’re doing, even if it’s not a week on the beach, people will respond positively. AND you will make friends with others in the office who are similarly nerdy. Win. Win. Win.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        The flip side of being enthusiastic about your plans is that it staves off the concern from your coworkers that you never do anything fun. It’s possible that they keep bugging you because they’re hoping for your sake that you’ll finally do something fun vs the “eh, nothing much” weekends you’ve had. So rather than downplay it, lean into it. My last 3 days off were spent reading a whole series of books and doing nothing else “fun,” and it was the best thing for me.

        1. Autumnheart*

          A lot of my coworkers are also doing similarly “fun” things. One signed up for a cocktail subscription box, another was fixing their deck, a third had big plans to can tomatoes. Don’t worry about having boring plans, everyone has boring plans right now.

          Being ironically humorous about it is just sort of the way we look for the bright side in these times. Plus, you never know, someone might be doing something cool that people don’t know about–curbside takeout from a good restaurant, a podcast they recently discovered, a new show…people want ideas! Share your ideas.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      I also am doing very few fun and exciting things on weekends or holidays, but in my case it’s mostly because I’m pregnant and not risking my health or my baby’s in a pandemic to go out and do things with people/travel/dine out/etc. I admit I do ask what other people have planned, partly because I can live vicariously through them! I think the focus on “what fun things” people are doing is kind of a way of combatting the weird sameness of working days in the pandemic. I can see how it might feel like you’re being pressured to have more “fun” than you’re able to have right now, though. But I think when folks in my office ask what fun things others are doing, it’s just as common to say “nothing much, catching up on sleep and maybe getting some housework done that I’ve been neglecting,” and no one is like, “what’s wrong with you?”

    9. Riley*

      I think you may be reading into this too much. Normally people asking if you have fun plans is the equivalent to asking how your weekend was, it’s just worded differently. It might be worth considering how your own expectations are playing into this — if your coworkers asking how your weekend was overwhelms you, you might need to think of ways to increase your threshold for reaching that point rather than focusing on what you can change about them.

      Also replying with a simple “nothing, really!” is exceptionally appropriate now when everyone should be staying at home.

    10. Jill March*

      I’m always tempted to go into great detail about what’s happening in whatever video game I’m playing, without context.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Dwarf Fortress makes for the most entertaining stories of that sort. “Well, we had a werellama that bit some dwarves and it turned into a werellama infestation. Unfortunately, that included all the clothiers, and everyone got unhappy because they were naked. Then I made a slight miscalculation building the aqueduct and my legendary axedwarf’s baby got washed in and drowned, so she went berserk. In the middle of her rampage, a ‘giant skinless dimetrodon made of bronze’ forgotten beast came out of the caverns, and killed everyone left. Well, except for the guy who got stricken by melancholy and threw himself into the magma sea first.”

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          And one of the dwarfs ran into a battlefield trying to loot socks carrying a baby. Which didn’t go well.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Of course! Socks are always a #1 priority!

            Not to mention the unfortunate incident involving the giant cave spider in the dining room. And the minecart engineering mishap that could best be described using the word “catapult.”

    11. Absurda*

      My default for weekends/vacations is also doing nothing. In my younger years it was due to lack of funds, now a days it’s due to covid (I was actually supposed to be taking my first real vacation trip in years this week but cancelled due to covid). I don’t think you’re that much of an outlier in that regard.

      On Tuesday my boss went into detail about the household project he and his family completed together. Totally not my idea of fun, but whatever, he seemed to enjoy it. Then he asked me if I did anything fun, I said, “nope, I completely ignored my housework and read and binged Netflix all weekend.”

      Doing nothing but relaxing (or household projects on the “to do” list) can be, in my opinion, as much of a luxury as a cruise in the Mediterranean. It’s perfectly legit to say that’s what you did and in a way that indicates you enjoyed every minute of it. It’s really about your tone and how you frame it for yourself and others.

    12. AnotherAlison*

      I’m older with more disposable income. My weekends are still the ever-exciting things like catch up on laundry grocery shop, clean the basement, weed the flower beds, etc. Fun is a long bike ride. I don’t like to go out of town. I then have to wait till the next weekend to catch up on all the household stuff.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I think the use of the word “fun” might be to convey the intent of not getting too personal. I am a fan of creating a go-to answer and using it over and over. I hate cooking. I had a cohort who asked me at least 3-4 times per week what was for dinner tonight. I answered, “Whatever falls out of the freezer when I open the door.” Reality was I usually cooked meals for a couple nights so probably we were having leftovers from the previous night. Create your go-to answer(s) and use them.

    13. KayDeeAye*

      I agree with those who say you are over-thinking this. I also get asked this question a lot, and seldom have an “exciting” answer, so what I often say is, “Not much, but it was great!”

      Which is the truth – I generally prefer weekends without a lot to do. So as others have pointed out, you really don’t have to say much, if you don’t want to and if you don’t have much to say! They are only asking to be nice and to make a mild Monday-morning connection with you, and you truly don’t have to entertain them with tales of your weekend. They won’t be offended, and nobody (nobody nice, anyway) will think any less of you because you spent the weekend with a good book or a couple of good movies. Really and truly.

    14. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      For me, the key is to give the person something really easy to respond to in my answer. “Any fun plans this weekend?” “Well, I’m enjoying listening to P.G. Wodehouse audiobooks right now. I love how easy it is to download audiobooks from the library these days! Aren’t libraries wonderful?”
      I didn’t specifically say I’m definitely for sure going to listen to said audiobook, so privacy is maintained if I want that, but it’s close enough to answering the question not to be awkward, and I’ve introduced an easy topic of conversation (libraries). They have a really simple way to answer me, we’ve had a nice goodwill conversation, and we can move on to work.
      It’s easy to assume people want a factual answer to the “fun plans” question, but more often than not they’re looking for a simple, casual, pleasant conversation, not testing you or observing you that closely, so any response that is casual and pleasant is sufficient.

      1. ShockedPikachu.gif*

        Oh, this is such great framing, thank you! I’m also someone who never does anything exciting and gets self conscious about it, and tend to go for the, “oh, nothing much” answer. But that doesn’t give the person asking much to respond to – even a little extra specificity (‘trying a new recipe,’ ‘hanging out with the cat’) offers an actual conversational hook.

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

      What a nice problem to have! – [my plans for PTO currently consist of working at least 2-3 hours off the books to keep up with things and then attending dentist/doctor/government admin office visits.. but that’s not what people want to hear, heh.]

      In your situation if “oh, not much” etc didn’t work I’d progress to increasingly elaborate answers e.g. “walking with llamas for a 24km route in the local nature reserve”, “interviewing with NASA, but I have to get blood samples beforehand so I’m going to Washington via the local blood bank, look out for those F-16s over us!”, “Oh I have to go to the patent office to submit the patent for my perpetual motion machine” etc.

    16. Rainbow Brite*

      I love declaring that I did (or am planning to do) “absolutely nothing!” in as delighted a voice as I can muster. It’s never failed to elicit a pleased or (fake) envious response, so I consider it a go-to when I have no plans and that’s a good thing.

    17. Biscuit*

      I think they may be just trying to be nice and engage with you. I have also used that as a conversation starter but I never mean to judge anyone’s plans or what they find enjoyable. I’m a homebody introvert myself and I just took a week PTO to read, binge watch TV, and do whatever I want. I think saying you took time off and had a great time relaxing and recharging at home is a perfect response.

    18. insertusernamehere*

      I read something once that giving an answer to people, even a non-answer will usually satisfy them. You could also try owning it/answering something like, “I’m an introvert!” or “I’m very boring and couldn’t be happier about it!” The trick is saying it in a confident way, that it’s by choice. (Not in an apologetic, defeated sounded way.) People will probably think you really AREN’T that boring, you’re just not telling them what you’re really up to!)

      One “good” thing about the pandemic is that it gives more of a built in excuse to not have plans. You can even just say, unfortunately my fun trips had to be postponed this year or not much on the calendar these days!

      I totally understand the pressure and anxiety of feeling like you have to “report” fun plans, because the truth is although they are likely just making small talk, there is an expectation and judgment of your response. And when you are dealing with depression or just want to lay low or self care, you don’t want to explain, lie, justify, or give a perky answer. It is stressful!

      But you know what, even if you had a million stereotypical “fun” things, do you really want all these coworkers in your business or knowing how you spend your free time away from work? It’s kind of good to keep the habit of giving boring, non-answers and keeping a little bit of those boundaries and distance. Even if you were out going to concerts, fancy trips, dates with a romantic partner – they really don’t even need to know that. Being private and somewhat guarded about what you share with work colleagues can be a very good thing, even if you do have stuff going on. They are just being nosy anyways, even if they think it’s just innocuous conversation. “Not sure yet.” “Haven’t decided.” “No idea.” “Boring plans. On purpose!” are all good answers!

      Take a little control back by knowing you are CHOOSING to keep your personal plans to yourself, instead of feeling bad or annoyed that you just want to lay low and are feeling pressure to report on “fun” plans. And you know what, when you’re just dealing with surviving day to day life, that’s just the focus, fun isn’t always going to be fun, and that’s okay too. You don’t owe them any explanation. Just be kind to yourself and smile inside knowing it’s a positive to keep your personal plans private and to yourself!

  34. Admin to operations manager?*

    I need help from Operations managers!
    I have been an academic department admin for over a decade. One of the profs has a patent on a medical product and will be starting a small company that will be separate from the school (tho they have an interest as they partially own the patent). The prof has asked me if I would be interested in becoming the daily operations manager. I absolutely am! And I am sure I can do it but I don’t know what I don’t know. I don’t have any real management experience nor do I have any formal business education. I could easily get in over my head and I don’t want to let myself down nor this prof who is also a friend.
    This is what I expect to be doing initially, though some of the things will eventually transition to other people as the company grows.
    Hiring, training and managing line workers – just a handful for a while. Thank the gods for this site.
    Purchasing – especially materials for the product (in the right quantities and at the best price!)
    Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable until those are separate departments. Done those in a past life.
    I know such things as Quality assurance and Process validation exist but I don’t know much more than that or where I can learn more. I won’t have to set it up but I will have to know it for inspections and audits, and to spot problems on the line.
    I will not be doing payroll nor will I do financial reports or taxes but I will need to keep records that will be used for that. I worry I will miss something key or have it in the wrong format.
    I’d also be trying to streamline processes while making sure good people don’t get bored or injured and hopefully come up with training opportunities so that we could fill new positions from within.
    Can anyone tell me what I am likely missing and how I might get training or info? I figure 6 months to a year before this actually happens, if it happens.

    1. Always Late to the Party*

      Will you be expected to help with the legwork in setting up the company/processes you’ll be overseeing?

      1. Admin to operations manager?*

        Probably some of the accounting processes but not the production processes since they are regulated. Definitely my call on the people management, though. I have only managed student workers before! No wait, there was that coffee store decades ago…

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I went to an ops manager role from an administrative role in the private sector. The most important skill I brought was the ability to solve unexpected problems without losing my cool. The rest I learned as I went along, either by watching and emulating higher ups, using common sense, and a whole lot of independent research (including but not limited to AAM). Good luck, it sounds like a great opportunity!

      1. Admin to operations manager?*

        Good to know! I think that’s why I am being asked. My resourcefulness is pretty well known around here.

    3. Ama*

      One thing I’d recommend you do is talk to the prof about whether you can budget some start up costs for either training classes or consultants in some of these areas where it is important you know the rules but would need help learning them. I’ve worked for a lot of new businesses and the biggest mistake most of them make is to avoid seeking out professional help learning how to run a business because it seems like a big cost up front — and then they incur bigger costs down the road when people have to be brought in to clean up a huge mess because the staff in charge of, say, payroll, didn’t actually understand the legal definition of a contractor and they now owe a huge amount of back payroll taxes for misclassified employees. (Or, to give an example that happened at one of my jobs, they decided to set up a small staff cafeteria and hired a chef but didn’t do any research into local health codes and got in big trouble when the health department discovered that they had been running a cafeteria for years that had never been properly certified.)

      Depending on the set up the prof has in mind there may even be resources at your university to help faculty who want to commercialize an idea set up a company (sometimes this help includes some revenue sharing agreements though, so definitely check with your prof first about whether he intends to completely separate from the university or not).

      1. Always Late to the Party*

        IANAL but if the medical device was developed as part of his university, he will most likely need to license it from them and those licenses often include royalties on products and equity. If that’s the case, license compliance may be one of Admin to operations manager?’s responsibilities, actually.

      2. Admin to operations manager?*

        This is good advice, Ama! I know the prof would agree to that. There are other partners who I don’t yet know but a reminder of the consequences of no/poor training should help. There are institutional resources, though maybe not as great as they think they are. The prof is already involved with them on another project. I’m not sure if there is revenue sharing on this one. Could well be but I hope it’s more a silent partner arrangement.

    4. Occasional Baker*

      Our Ops Manager is also the liaison between Sales and Production….so not just the tasks of Purchasing, but also forecasting both materials usage and sales, and brokering pricing based on that. Also monitors freight costs, inbound and outbound. Are these devices to be exported? Who will handle that regulatory paper, or choose a vendor who will do that for you?

      Just some things that don’t seem to fall in your list above, but can definitely be part of an Ops Manager purview ( I work in a manufacturing company)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Daily Ops. Uh, ask your friend how they envision this position. How many people will they have on start day? You should be starting before production is running, I would guess.
      You guys will need a lot of people with specialized knowledge.
      Will they run more than one shift? IF yes, will you be a shift manager or will you be in charge of the shift managers?

      If it were me, I’d want assurances that my paycheck would clear the bank each week all. the. time.

      As far as missing things and making a wrong format, it’s just easier to assume you WILL make these errors. Being error-free is not a reasonable goal nor is it realistic. The most important thing is willingness to learn, that tops everything else. Take on a collaborative tone, show a willingness to work at things with others. If THEY make a mistake, tell them next time it will be your turn where YOU made a mistake. Let their mistake go, just like you want them to do for you. Get the mistake fixed, “hey at least we caught it” and move on.

      Remember that management at start up is VERY different from management under ordinary day-to-day maintaining operations. Some folks can launch but cannot maintain, they have to go find a new place to launch because the jobs are that different. Expect any task to start out by doing X and then it morphs into Y and then changes again to Z. Changes in how tasks are handle can come up fast and tasks can change radically.

      1. Admin to operations manager?*

        Thanks NSNR and OB. These are very helpful points. I am definitely gathering info to make sure we are on the same page when we start out but the job morphing into new areas is pretty likely, now that I think about it. Not a drawback at all! More exciting, though also scary.
        Thanks to everyone here. Saving all your replies!

  35. mako*

    Looking for e-learning recs on data and BI tools like Domo, Tableau, Einstein Analytics, Python, Alteryx, SAS, etc. I’m a business analyst looking to expand skillset but don’t really know where to begin! Currently I use Excel for data dumps from systems and making it look pretty – pivot tables can only get me so far.

    Any advice or recos appreciated. :)

    1. Okumura Haru*

      Code Academy might be a good place to start – it’s free for the lessons and practice, and the stuff there is high quality.

    2. Graphhopper*

      For Tableau you can download their free version, Tableau Public, for personal use. They also have lots of free 101 level videos on their site to get you started. Once you figure out the basics, try participating in the Tableau community on Twitter and try some of the weekly challenges like #MakeoverMonday or #WorkoutWednesday. In my experience Tableau is easy to pick up if you already work with data, and the weekly challenges are a great (free) way to build up a data viz portfolio.

  36. Have to be Unprofessional*

    I have been laid off for a few months due to COVID, and I am currently still struggling with my job search. I have applied for this government position that will take almost half a year for them to respond back on my application status. Then in the meantime, I do need to get a job to help pay for my bills and help my family. I am looking for full time positions in my field.

    The government job provides the most financial security, but it is position with strict criteria and it takes a while to hear back from them. Like all jobs, there’s no way to know if I can get it or not.

    I am looking at full time jobs so I can at least get a job offer on hand if the government job doesn’t work out. But if I do get the government job within half a year later, I would need to quit the job I initially accepted after working on it for a few months. Quitting a job so soon seems unprofessional no matter how sincerely you apologize to the employer about it, but on the other hand I understand I can’t please everyone and I do need a more stable job and needed to take care of my finances.

    It still gives me a little anxiety thinking about it, but these things are hard to control. I think most workplaces can recover if there’s just one sudden employee who quits.

    Any other perspective on this?

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Unfortunately, companies hire people and then change their minds pretty often. My brother had a job where they strung him along for 9 months before his actual start date – telling him he’d start within a few days the whole time. Then, he worked there for 2 months before they moved his whole office across the country and didn’t even offer him the chance to relocate to keep the job.

      Employers would screw you over without a second thought if the tables were turned. Good for the goose, good for the gander.

    2. KayDeeAye*

      The way I look at it is that once you’ve committed to a job, then you do owe the company (assuming it hasn’t misrepresented itself or isn’t toxic or anything like that) something. But only something – not everything! So first of all, your main responsibility is to yourself and your career. Quitting a job after just a few months because of a better offer isn’t ideal, but so long as you’re polite, apologetic and as considerate and professional as possible, you’re fine. Yes, they might be a bit upset, but so be it, and actually most people (most nice people) would understand at least somewhat. If you only work there for a few months, you aren’t going to use them as a reference anyway, so what’s the worst that could happen? Some people might be a bit annoyed, but they will get over it.

      Besides, there is truly a difference – at least in my mind – between (1) accepting Job A but continuing to apply to other jobs and (2) accepting Job A only to be approached by Job B, which you applied to before accepting Job A, with a better offer. The first is a little iffy (unless, as I said earlier, there’s something really off about the job), but the second is just life!

    3. Bear Shark*

      Take the non-government job if you get one that works for your situation at the moment. As you said, there’s no way to be certain if or when you will get the government job. If you get the gov’t job and decide to take it, know that you may possibly be burning a bridge with the non-gov’t job but that may be worth it. I’ve done something similar before (unplanned) and it burned the bridge at short stay job but in the end it turned out to be worth it.

    4. PollyQ*

      Don’t feel bad about taking a job now & leaving it in 6 months. They would absolutely recover, and that’s not something you should worry about, ever, when leaving a job. They probably wouldn’t be thrilled about your leaving that quickly, so I wouldn’t count on a great reference, but that worry shouldn’t stop you from making the best choice for you & your family.

      And of course, you might not get the government job, and instead you’d stay at this other job happily for a longer period of time.

  37. Who is the weird one?*

    Just curious if I’m weird for having this reaction!

    My friend Jill works at “Rivendell Music Center” which is well known in the community and has lots of different functions – it has a concert space, sells some music-related items, holds events, publishes local music, and has a music school that does lessons. Jill is the manager of the music school, above her is the music school director, and above the director is the CEO of Rivendell Music Center.

    When someone asks Jill what she does for work, she says “I run a music school.” To me, that’s a little misleading/inflating, since it sounds like she is the proprietor of her own school, or at least is in the top position at the music school. However, she does manage the day to day operations, as the director does more strategy and fundraising.

    I don’t plan to address this with Jill, I’m more just wondering if my reaction is an unreasonable one.

    1. Myrin*

      Your reaction isn’t unreasonable at all! If someone said that to me, I’d assume they founded a music school which they’re now head and in charge of.

    2. Secretary*

      It’s a little inflating, but not enough that I would bring it up unless it comes up in context or Jill asks your opinion. She’s not lying, she does “run” the music school, but the way she’s saying it makes it sound like she owns it unless she clarifies. I wouldn’t be horribly betrayed if I learned that’s not what she meant by “runs”, I would just be like, “Oh, I understand more about what she does now.”

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, “run” implies she’s at the top of the org structure to me. If I were her, I’d say I manage a music school.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Or even “I run the music school at Rivendell Music Center.” Like “I run the teapots department at Beverage World.”

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      I see why it rubs you the wrong way, especially since “I run the Rivendell Music School” is more accurate and actually sounds more prestigious.

    5. AlphabetSoupCity*

      It’s understandably irritating, it would definitely irritate me to. But it’s also accurate enough and something she wants to say, so I’m not sure how much it matters. Kinda like a mosquito bite maybe? Don’t itch it and it’ll go away.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      I would call ‘manage the day to day operations’ = ‘Running’.

      If someone said “I run a store”, I wouldn’t assume they own the store, I’d assume someone else owns it and they manage it on behalf of the owner. Same here.

      1. Joielle*

        I think it could depend on the context though. If someone said “I run a Radio Shack” I wouldn’t assume they owned the store, but if they said “I run a little boutique downtown” I might assume that they did. So is “a music school” more like the former or the latter?

        I don’t know. I love this kind of semantic debate :D

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          No, I wouldn’t assume ownership because of the word “run.” Just the opposite, in fact. If someone owns the store, I’d expect them to say “I have a little boutique downtown” or “I own a Radio Shack franchise.” But running a business does, to me, imply that you are the highest boss in that business, even if someone else owns it.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Yes, I’ve never heard a small business owner say they “run” their operation.

        They say they “have” it, or “own” it, or “started it.” Or they will just say what service they provide: “I’m in plumbing,” or “I’m an architect,” whatever.

        I think using run = manage is perfectly valid and not misleading.

    7. fhgwhgads*

      Where you said “Jill is the manager of the music school”, regardless of the other stuff you also mention, to me as an outsider does not in any way contradict her statement of “I run a music school”. Her statement also does not suggest to me she is necessarily the founder or proprietor or Top Person of said school.
      I don’t think you’re being entirely unreasonable, because I’m sure there exist people who might hear her description and assume the things you mentioned, but to me, I do not think she’s inflating her position at all. Just being brief and to the point about it. If there were nothing else said on the subject, just the a passing sentence or two, to me what she’s saying is totally fine.

  38. JustaTech*

    Why words matter: I had an odd experience at work and I’m not sure if I should talk to my 3x boss about it or not.

    Context: a peer from another group in my department has helped me out with some data auditing. My previous auditor was laid off, and there are very few people in my department/my location who are capable of doing a data audit (I’m not, I don’t have that attention to detail). So Coworker, who has just been shoved into being the head of her group after layoffs, generously offered to help me finish my data audits for a project that she is not involved with at all. This is awesome, and she was also super fast about it.

    I strongly believe in both thanking people and commending them to their bosses, so I wrote Coworker’s boss (my 3X boss) a nice, specific, detailed email about the amazing job she did and recommended that she get one of our internal awards, and cc’d Coworker.
    Boss responded “Great feedback, nice to hear such platitudes!”

    This completely threw me, because “platitudes” are meaningless phrases, not genuine and specific words of praise. I’ll admit I teared up a bit thinking that he thought I didn’t care and was just going through the motions when I really did want to praise Coworker.

    I wanted to let it go, but then I saw that 3X boss had included Coworker in his reply. So I sent an email to him alone asking if maybe “platitudes” means something else in UK English? (Boss is from the UK, and I think that Coworker was brought up bilingual with UK English. And as we’ve seen this week here, sometimes words have *very* different meanings in the US and the UK.) 3X boss hasn’t responded.

    I should let this go, right? I’m going in to the office today so I have the chance to maybe stick my head in his office and ask if maybe he had a weird auto-correct?

    1. Noncommittal Username*

      I understand where you’re coming from, but this really reads to me like he just meant “nice things,” not “insincere things.” I hope he responds to your question, but even if he doesn’t, I’d let it go. Maybe talk to the auditor and tell her directly that you really meant what you said (without laying it on too thick.)

      I love how far you went to recognize the work of your colleague! I’d love to work with you.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      You should let this go. 3X Boss may have had an autocorrect issue or a cultural difference in interpretation or probably just doesn’t understand the definition of this word, but this is such a small thing and not worth it. You’ve given the specific, detailed praise, and that’s what they’ll remember.

      Although if you didn’t loop coworker in on the original email you sent, I’d maybe share that just so they have it for their own records (and it’s so nice to see).

    3. AGD*

      It’s the sort of fancy Latinate word used infrequently and in enough ambiguous contexts that it’s susceptible to reinterpretation, at a guess.

    4. Alex*

      Definitely let it go. All the other words he used were appropriate–I’m sure he meant something good.

      Sometimes people just misunderstand word usage. My boss is always using a certain phrase and it is clear she completely misunderstands what it is supposed to mean.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yeah, let it go: chances are he misunderstands the word, and just associates it with “something that sounds nice!” I know some people who have spoken U.S. English since birth, and who sometimes use words in ways that make me do a double take because I know that they don’t mean what they think they mean. But I also feel like to point it out in most contexts would be calling attention unnecessarily to someone’s error, and kind of rude. If they misuse words or expressions in communication to clients, staff, etc. that could cause problems, I might chime in with, “do you mean X?” as a way of clarifying.

    6. JustaTech*

      Thanks for the advice all!
      I’m going to let it go and I’m going to fill out the form for some manager to sign so Coworker can get our internal award. (Yes, managers are the only ones allowed to submit the “thank you for going above and beyond” awards, which can make it very hard to thank people in other departments if their managers don’t feel like submitting the paperwork.)

        1. Grey Coder*

          Yep, I was going to say this as well — either a brain mistake between plaudits and platitudes, or wacky autocorrect.

    7. RosenGilMom*

      I would probably let it go; but/and perhaps 3X was aiming for ‘plaudits’ as compared to ‘platitudes’

    8. Bex*

      I would definitely let is go, and I think the intent is clear from the rest of the message. Wondering if Boss meant plaudits, not platitudes?

    9. KayDeeAye*

      I’m as sure as I can possibly be that he just thought he knew the meaning of the word but was, well, *really* wrong about that. It happens all the time, including by intelligent and well-educated people. I’ve heard such people use “noisome” to mean “noisy,” “disinterested” to mean “uninterested” and “flout” to mean “flaunt.” Heck, I myself – when I was much younger and just falling in love with words words words lots of words – used “ecru” to mean “brown,” which it really doesn’t, as my somewhat snotty English teacher pointed out.

      1. Alianora*

        Can’t “disinterested” be synonymous with “uninterested,” though? I understand it does have a meaning of “unbiased,” but the other usage is very common, and does appear in the dictionary.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          It really, really, really shouldn’t be used that way. It’s true that if an error becomes common enough, it is no longer an error, but for most careful writers, “disinterested” still means “impartial.” In any case, if your meaning is “uninterested,” you’re far better off with “uninterested” since that’s what that word *always* means, whereas with “disinterested” people will either be unsure what you mean, or they’ll actually misunderstand you. If you want people to understand that you’re uninterested, that’s what you should say since it eliminates any chance of a misunderstanding.

          1. Alianora*

            I mean, I agree that it’s not great to use it that way because of the ambiguity – but I do take exception to your listing it along with actual errors. Someone who does use it that way isn’t incorrect.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              It still counts as a definite error to many/most editors – but of course, if you’re not writing for that particular audience, I guess you don’t have to worry about that.

        2. Nita*

          I think I’ve only ever seen “disinterested” used as a synonym for “uninterested”. The word I come across for having no bias is usually “unbiased” or “independent”. So I’ve learned something new today! It still seems like a word with extra potential for confusion. Kind of like “inflammable,” which is somehow almost the same thing as “flammable,” or “cleave,” which has two opposite meanings.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Ah, the flout/flaunt thing! Such a weird one, because flaunting a rule or flouting your boobs give such confusing mental images.

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

      I feel like Boss has interpreted “platitudes” as “plaudits”.

      I can assure you that UK English has the same meaning of platitudes (I use the word myself several times a week as UK-er).

      What they meant, I feel sure, is “plaudits” (i.e. expressions of praise).

      1. fhgwhgads*

        Yeah, I think either he brainfarted and said platitudes when he mean plaudits or he wrote plaudits and it got autocorrected to platitudes or he doesn’t know what platitudes means.

    11. Esmeralda*

      Stop correcting other people’s vocab unless you are asked to, or it’s your actual job. It’s It’s impolite and will only make people annoyed at you. Especially do not correct your boss or anyone above your boss.

      You know what was meant, even though it’s the wrong word. And it kind of undercuts the compliment to your coworker by embarrassing her boss.

  39. Leadership Role*

    My GrandBoss hired a slew of contractors. We all work for my DirectBoss, but GrandBoss told me I needed to take a leadership role with them. DirectBoss says, “Good idea.”

    Since these contractors don’t really report to me–they have a contracting officer and I don’t have the ability to hire, fire, or do performance evaluations, permit time off etc–I am at a loss as to how to proceed. Any suggestions?

    1. Just a PM*

      Think about it in terms of work products and deliverables like progress reports, risks, issues, schedule, project activities, tasks, etc. instead of personnel actions. For anything performance or personnel-related (like subpar deliverables, missing work, or above-and-beyond excellent work), document it and send it to the contracting officer for them to take action on with the contractor directly.

      Your organization should have some kind of Statement of Work/Performance Work Statement that outlines the scope of what these contractors are to do. The contracting officer will have it. Ask for a copy of it and learn it, use it, live it for everything you do with the contracting team.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’d have a discussion with DirectBoss and say, “since they report to you, what kind of a leadership role would you like me to take? I don’t want to step on your toes, and I want to make sure what I’m doing is helpful to you in managing them.” You could bring up some suggestions like training on various processes or tools, checking in regularly on their progress and reporting back to Direct Boss on an agreed-upon schedule, delegating tasks, etc.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I would be one of your employees (I’m a contractor onsite with the organization, I rarely see my actual company). You set tasking and are the interface between Direct Boss and the contractors, and help them with any roadblocks they come across. You can influence performance evaluations (check with the contracting office though) and can email their contractor bosses to give them praise (or report that they are awful if needed). You can also counsel them and give them the praise or tell them where they are falling short, so they can correct as needed.

      Essentially what I am trying to say is that you manage the work side of the equation (what work gets done by whom, due dates, interfacing with others in the organization, etc.), and the contracting side manages the personnel side (leave, raises, pay, etc.).

    4. Absurda*

      I would see this more as a Team Lead type thing than a manager type thing. You’d help with assiging tasks, monitoring workload, making sure they’re on track to meet deadlines, answer questions, etc. Just day to day direction not any HR sort of stuff that should stay with the manager.

      I’d suggest you put together your thoughts on what you think you should be doing with these folks, then meet with your boss. Tell her here’s what I’m thinking I can do to help with these folks, does that sound right to you?

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Did they give you any more direction than that? If not, you should talk to the bosses about exactly what they have in mind for a leadership role here

  40. Noncommittal Username*

    If you saw a deparment with the following titles, who do you think would be entry level, who would be the highest level, and what would be the in-betweens?
    – Manager
    – Associate
    – Assistant
    – Coordinator

    I’ve been doing research to back up a request for a promotion, and I’m finding that my feild does not have a consistent understanding of “rankings.” These job listings are all over the place! :P

    1. LGC*

      Intuitively, manager would be highest, associate would be lowest, and assistant and coordinator would be in the middle for me. But yeah, I’d need more context myself.

      1. AlphabetSoupCity*

        Exactly! To me associate is certainly higher than assistant, and it would be the level you have there. Maybe assistant and coordinator would be switched?

        But this all varies so much org-to-org.

    2. Temperance*

      For me, it would go Manager / Associate / Coordinator / Assistant, with Assistant lowest on the totem pole.

    3. Nessun*

      I’d assume Manager and Associate as higher-level – but I come from an industry where Associate usually stands for some form of “not yet a Partner of the Firm”. And our Coordinators usually have more responsibility than Assistants – I’d read Assistant as a lower level administrative role and Coordinators as a higher level administrative or support role.

    4. Bex*

      To me, manager is clearly the highest level here. “Assistant” is more commonly used to indicate an EA or EA-type position, or it’s used as a modifier instead of Junior… so you’d have a Senior Manager, a Manager, and an Assistant Manager. If someone had an “assistant” title as a stand-alone (as opposed to Assistant to/for Fancy Person) then I would assume they were performing admin tasks for the team and were fairly low on the pay grade rankings.

      Coordinator and Associate would be more likely to be peers, a step above the assistant. To me, Coordinator implies they are supporting/coordinating across a team or business unit, while an associate is more of an individual contributor (and also pretty interchangeable with Analyst.) So hierarchy wise they could be on the same level, or close to it, they just play different roles on the team.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Like how Dwight Schrute always upgraded his title from Assistant to the Manager to Assistant Manager :)

    5. ampersand*

      In my field (higher ed), it would be: Manager, Coordinator, Associate, Assistant

      I see the other responses vary quite a bit–agreed that job listings/titles are often all over the place!

    6. Alianora*

      Personally, it would go Manager>Associate>Coordinator>Assistant. But the final three are all pretty close. At my workplace (my official title is “Associate”) people refer to me by all three titles.

    7. MissBliss*

      In my field, coordinator is always entry level. Manager is on the top, as far as what you’ve listed there. Associate or Assistant would really only be used to modify something, and Associate would sound “higher”. So basically the order you have it!

    8. Traffic_Spiral*

      – Manager: Top

      – Associate: low-level or basic professional.

      – Assistant: admin support. Technically lower than the associate (requiring less qualification and paid less), but probably more valued than most the associates, if they’re good or liked.

      – Coordinator: exists in a weird limbo that could mean assistant or vice-president.

  41. kt*

    Hi all — Here’s a question. I am early-mid-career by some metrics, but have actually only been in my industry one year (academic -> corporate switch). Now I’m facing things like promotions, reviews, etc. In academia, there are articles/books/awards but not, like, career paths — just assistant prof, assoc prof, full prof, and I hadn’t thought about administration much since I was not in a tenure-track position. At some point I wanted to be a dean or something but that’s hard to do if you can’t get the tenure-track job.

    I feel like I have a handle on performance reviews, etc. What I don’t have is a more inner thing: other people seem to have a plan to ‘become VP by age whatever’ or ‘become head of the customer service group’ or ‘advance to senior software engineer and not have to do management stuff’, but I don’t have a good inner sense of whether I want to stay technical or rise up the management ranks. My company has a bit of a tech track but more of a management track. I’ve never thought of/imagined myself on a management track. How do I decide what I want? How do I think it through?

    To give some perspective, 60% of the time I want to do something fancy (I have career ambitions), while 40% of the time I want to knit blankets and make sure my weekends are free and be a well-compensated cog in a wheel. But I do like to do stuff, so I think it would be good for me to create a career plan with some ambition built in. Then if I achieve it, it’s great, and if not, that’s also fine! But I don’t want to just drift along and then look back & think wow, if I’d just paid a bit of attention I could have achieved these things that I value.

    1. Always Late to the Party*

      I do not have good advice but I feel you on the wanting to balance career ambition/satisfaction with spending weekends crafting. :(

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          I taught myself to knit in quarantine and have made exactly one scarf :) cross-stitch is my passion/retirement plan.

    2. Absurda*

      You might try an informational interview. Reach out to your boss or other people in positions you might be interested in and ask them what their job entails. You can then think about whether or not that’s something that would appeal to you.

      You could also try the management track and see if you like it. You can always change your mind; it’s not unusual in large corporations for people to move between management and individual contributor. I managed a team and discovered, when it comes to managing I could take it or leave it. I was also on track to be my boss’s successor until I realized that my boss’s job was everything I hated about my job x10, so I moved to a different team.

      Corporate careers are rarely straight lines, more often the zig zag, back track, loop around. As people decide what they want, take advantage of unexpected opportunities, decide what’s not for them. That’s perfectly fine.

      1. kt*

        Thanks — I hadn’t thought of an informational interview for this — I did a lot when it came to getting into the industry, but somehow for management it didn’t occur to me!

        I’m trying out some management now (unexpected opportunity, starting soon) so we’ll see how it goes.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      You may not need to decide right now, or fully commit to one or the other. I know a few people who didn’t become people managers until they were senior level tech contributors and wanted a change for one reason or another. Similarly, I also know managers who left management after any number of years to return to being an individual contributor. It’s not always possible to go as high up on the technical side as the management side, that’s pretty company dependent, so that might influence your thinking as well. And there are plenty of people who just kinda go with the flow and don’t actively seek advancement on any specific schedule, so that’s okay too.

      FWIW, I am following the technical track and have never had an interest in management so it’s been easy for me to rule it out. I’ve seen what 1st level managers deal with at our company and nope, not for me. Even as a step in the ladder – I’ve never thought of the C-suite as my end goal. But also I really enjoy the technical work I’m doing and am working hard to becoming a company-wide expert because I feel like I have a lot to offer that way. That said, my own ambitions would not be worth it if it regularly cost me more than 40 hrs/week or working on weekends.

      Maybe some questions to ask yourself are what’s really motivating you? Do you want to earn more money? Do you want more control/authority over the direction some initiative or project is going? Do you have a strong vision of how you think things should be run? Do you think everyone feels some kind of big ambition and you feel you should too? It might be one or more of these things or something else entirely and none are good/bad reasons, just a way to explore the idea.

  42. Elle*

    I saw an article that talked about stripping identifying information from resumes during the hiring process to reduce discrimination. How do companies go about doing that? Just wondering.

    1. Temperance*

      I’ve seen it done by just blacking out the name, address, and phone number of the person. It’s not exactly foolproof when resumes often contain other context clues (like membership in an affinity org, scholarship receipt, etc.).

    2. ELM*

      My old job used to do this. All personal info was removed and the CV assigned a unique number instead. It was weird the first time I recruited via this method – somehow, not knowing what gender the applicant was threw me completely! – but it ensures you look at the CV without bias. Name, address and any bio info was removed.

    3. EnfysNest*

      Adobe has a “Redact” tool that lets you highlight which lines to block out, which is probably the simplest way to give a “clean” copy of the resume to everyone on the evaluation board, whether you use digital or physical copies.

  43. Quill*

    So, people have been bragging about spreadsheets on here and since my work is 80% trying to fix a bunch of ad hoc tracking systems during normal times, anybody got good resources for spreadsheet organization strategies?

    (I’m pretty good at looking up the technical details, but just in terms of learning what’s most useful for making things clear to other people and taking things other people have set up and making them clear when it’s so much data puked into cells?)

    1. Just a PM*

      Conditional formatting is my best friend. Cells, rows, columns. If/then, actuals, projections. You name it, I’ve had it formatted.

      Also helpful is the grouping/ungrouping. I prefer to group than to hide/show because there’s a visual indicator that you’ve hidden something so it’s not as easy to overlook.

      1. Quill*

        Hmmm… I *could* actually use conditional formatting for the disaster I’m currently porting from Sharepoint…

  44. Aggretsuko*

    Are there any jobs for clerical workers that don’t involve phone answering, front counter answering, or being the finance person?
    I got the worst review of my life, but frankly, there seem to be no jobs (other than the one I have) that don’t need you to do all of that.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’ve worked data entry and data quality/verification jobs, which tend to be very nose to the grindstone, same thing all day every day. In my experience, temp agencies tend to hire lots of people in batches for this kind of work.

    2. LabRat*

      Right now? The Census is probably hiring! I worked for the 2010 census, and outside of enumerators there were lots of folks who worked in the office just entering data. They also paid pretty well! However, those are inherently short term positions.

    3. blaise zamboni*

      I’m in health insurance compliance! I have to make outbound calls to patients occasionally, but only because the department that normally handles that is overwhelmed. I’ve gotten away with not calling patients since…February. That part of my job isn’t very important.

      Other than that, my job involves: creating and working reports; auditing materials; assisting other departments with some relatively easy tasks (i.e. file prep – time-consuming but not difficult); and routine data entry/oversight. My org has given me the opportunity to take on more responsible tasks to transition me into a supervisor role, but the role I’m coming from is…very chill. If it helps, I’m pursuing a Certificate of Healthcare Compliance. Unfortunately, that requires a compliance-related role or a compliance-related degree (an AA would work, but individual classes are iffy, I believe), plus classes. If you can swing it, I definitely recommend it, but that may be a longer-term goal.

      You could probably look into other health insurance-related jobs, too. Medical claims adjuster springs to mind – most of my Claims team has no verbal communication with members, they have a fairly cushy job, and the outlook for their role is…very stable, as far as we can see right now. There is some math involved but it is not finance (and afaik the math is pretty automated). You need to be licensed in some states, but even then some places will take on newbies who commit to getting their license within a certain timeframe (my company has done that, in CA which is a pretty regulated state in general).

      Other stable roles I could recommend would be: medical coding and/or medical billing (requires some education, but can be completed with 1-2 community college classes or an online school), and utilization management (typically requires some knowledge of medical terminology, which you can also find with 1-2 community college classes). These are probably not immediate fixes – you’d need to put some investment into your education/experience – but you could pursue them while you look for other things away from this job.

      I’m so sorry that your review went poorly, and I hope you find something that is a better fit for you very soon! Good luck!

  45. Stephanie*

    TL;DR: How to push for a transition into a new role to actually be a transition, not two roles?

    I am in an early career rotational program, where the assignments are ~12 months each. Headcount for these roles is usually separate, meaning that teams are (supposed) to be staffed assuming that that role isn’t permanent. I was supposed to switch roles back in June, but my department’s new crop of college hires had their start dates delayed due to COVID-related financial concerns. The manager (let’s call him Jon*) who leads the program wanted to delay everyone’s rotation to September. I had planned to go to a different division and agreed on a date with the new manager (let’s call her Sansa) in the group. I asked if they could accommodate a September 1 date and the Sansa was fine with that.

    Problem now…the rotation date keeps being a moving target. As we got to September 1, my current boss (let’s call him Tyrion) freaked out and then said I just couldn’t leave. I happened to be talking with another manager (let’s call him Theon) who sits on this committee with Jon and Theon offered to talk to my boss to solidify the transition date. Theon did that, we agreed that I would fully onboard on September 14 . Except now it is nearing September 14 and cue another freak out. Jon said rotation would be HR effective October 1, so Tyrion took this as I could do one more project by then. This would be ok (I’m comfortable enough with my old role that I can do it pretty efficiently), except Tyrion is a micromanger and will do things like dictate what to put on a slide in a three-hour WebEx meeting or insist he be in every meeting I am in.

    So not quite sure what to do? I can handle it a bit, but I’m starting to get burnt out and don’t feel like I’m handling my old role particularly well or learning my new role at all. I also am very sick of my old role and ready to move on. I’m also not confident that they’ll let me go 10/1 as “just one more assignment” will pop up. Theon would probably intervene on my behalf again, if I asked. I don’t feel like I have enough capital with Sansa to get her to say “No, we need her over here.” Any suggestions? Aside from just taking a bunch of personal or vacation days?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Tell Sansa that this is not sustainable for you, you don’t mind helping old boss but you want to start your new job.
      Tell her, “The nature of the setting seems to be that there will always be just one more thing I must do. I would like to set a hard end date for my old job.”

      You don’t have to have capital with Sansa. All that needs to happen is that she wants you to work for her, which she does. She is probably letting this drag on because she thinks YOU are okay with it. Let her know that you are not okay with it. Remember this whole thing started with you asking for a particular date. It would be a shame for all this to have taken place and she thought you wanted to do this right along.

      I am not sure what “freaked out” means here but if your old boss is using emotional outbursts to manipulate others and keep you there- please, just put your foot down and draw that boundary line.

  46. Threeve*

    What do you think of an office requiring “token” in-office days? Everyone has been teleworking for the summer due to Covid, and I know I’ve been really fortunate, but now as part of the “transition” they are asking for one day in the office every week.

    They haven’t given any justification beyond “transitioning.” My region isn’t a hotspot, but Labor Day may change that.

    Many of us commute via public transit. Open office. Is this a reasonable requirement or nah?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Seems odd. I mean, it’s either safe or not safe. I can see trying to set up some kind of hybrid model after Covid, so you can get some in person time and some remote work time, but that’s not really for safety reasons, just for work-life balance.

    2. Alice*

      What possible benefit is there of 20% of the people who have been teleworking to be in the office on Monday, another 20% on Tuesday, etc? 80% of the people you need to meet with will be remote.
      Alternatively, if are planning for 100% of the people who have been teleworking to be in the office on the same 1 day per week — the air filters/space requirements you need for that to be reasonable will take quite a bit of work, unless your office space was absurdly underpopulated before the pandemic.
      Sounds ridiculous to me. I don’t know how to get them to change their mind though….

      1. Threeve*

        They’re basically making managers try to work it out while maintaining social distancing. Many of us are in shared spaces–so if I’m in the office, there are two other people who shouldn’t be. And then I really should take the car instead of the bus, which means I have to coordinate days with my family, too.

        No options for staggered hours, weekends or half-days. My boss is supposed to organize and enforce all of this for his team, and safety aside it’s going to be a hit to productivity for most of us. But somehow this is easing the transition.

    3. Mynona*

      My department has been required to be on-site a minimum of 20% for months now. Our department head explained it as: “ED thinks it is really important we be on-site at least one day a week.” Not really a reason, is it? And then there was a lot of confusion about how to stagger schedules to make sure too many people didn’t come in on the same day.

      The internal consensus seems to be that it is management’s way of warning us that we will all be required to return to our pre-COVID butts-in-seats status as soon as the local public schools are open.

    4. Gatomon*

      We had that come down in May with official full reopening in June… then cases spiked in early July and we went to some weird 50/50 plan I didn’t understand. I just quietly moved myself to 90%+ remote (I come in if I need or want to) and no one has said boo yet. I think we’re looking at the trough before yet another wave due to schools reopening and Labor Day, so I think it’s all very dumb to have anyone in office who doesn’t need to be.

      We have folks who want to be in office for various reasons and those who must, so I also feel it’s important for me to stay out if I can. I do think the virus circulates indoors so I personally don’t feel very safe in a confined space with others (no mask requirement here unless it’s a public space.) I think with public transit coming in definitely doesn’t make sense right now. Almost my entire company drives at least.

    5. Nita*

      I used to work from home while caring for a kid. I wondered if I was crazy at least once a day – who knew that in a few years, thousands of people would be doing just that? Anyway, I had child care help one or two days a week. So those days, I’d go into the office. It was a big deal. I was pretty productive at home but it was impossible to put in several hours concentrating on something, or make more than a handful of phone calls. So for anyone who’s in the same boat now, the limited office time might be a way to block out some days for being extra productive.

  47. LGC*

    Rant/question: how annoyed should I be for my job interrogating me about a wellness check?

    I work at a social enterprise, and we provide in house counseling services to our employees. We have to do wellness questionnaires every day and one of the questions is rating our anxiety on a scale of 1-10. I normally put a 5 but one day I put a 6. A couple of days later I got called into a meeting to ask if everything was fine and what they could do to help.

    It happened a couple of weeks ago now but I’m STILL somewhat bothered by it. But should I be?

      1. LGC*

        Turns out I DID nest this correctly the first time! I thought I messed up so I double posted.

        Suffice to say – I’m not pleased about this myself but I’ve held off on complaining.

    1. Bex*

      I would go back to whoever asked you to join the meeting and say something like “I appreciate that our organization cares about our employees and offers in-house counseling. But I need you to trust that I will proactively use those services if and when I need them. Personally, I find it disruptive to be pulled into a meeting on my mental health, and I want to be able to answer the questionnaire honestly without being worried about repercussions. I know that it was meant in good faith, but I actually found it a bit stressful and it actually increased my anxiety a bit.”

      1. Noncommittal Username*

        +1, and thats much better said than what I was thinking. I would never fill those things in accurately, especially after getting called into a meeting over one of my answers.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      So I guess they want people to lie? That’s what it sounds like, either put the answer they expect or go into a sit down meeting to discuss “it”. Whatever “it” is.

  48. Gazebo Slayer*

    Last night my boss (OK, technically my main client, since I am an independent contractor) removed me from the #general channel of the company Slack, and would not answer my phone calls or messages. I am in a panic about this. He has said he is “finalizing some commitments” and will call me later.

    I am afraid I am either being fired or that this is some kind of weird passive-aggressive punishment on his part. I can’t be fired again. I can’t fail again in a career that has been one failure after another. I can’t bear it. My job history is so bad that gig work is my only option – nothing requiring a resume, references, or an application where they ask about previous jobs. I can’t drive for Uber or Lyft or a delivery service, because I don’t have a car, can’t afford one, and haven’t driven in years. I am afraid I won’t be able to find enough odd gig jobs to pay the bills and I will be dependent on my family forever.

    1. valentine*

      What would he be punishing you for?

      Do you have imposter syndrome?

      Not that I think you should pursue driving, but sit down and map out how you would go about it, if you needed to. Having plans may stop you spiraling. Think about work you can do and, rather than assuming everything will go wrong (I mean, you’ve not been serially fired for cause, yeah?), just note what you would need. So, “cover letter, references,” not “cover letter, but I can’t/it will be awful because xyz; no one will give me a good reference,” etc.

      You need a big-picture plan to get control and more clients. What if you write to Alison about that? It would make a good Ask the Readers.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I actually *have* been fired for cause on several occasions. Or not rehired for a temp position because I wasn’t good enough. Or at one point I left a job because i was on my final warning.

        My job history really is that bad.

        I mentioned something at a company meeting that Boss lectured me anout because he said it made him look bad, so yes, he is unhappy with me.

    2. ...*

      What happened in the past jobs? You left them all on bad terms? Maybe there is online gig work you can do such as captioning or customer service call center from home. That sounds nerve wracking though- very frustrating when you know theyre going to give you some bad news potentially and you have to wait. Ugh!

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      So it turns out I was removed from #general because the other contractors in my department are not on it, so my boss decided I never should have been.

      And apparently our whole department will be outsourced sometime in the next few months.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do. But then, given the state of the country, I don’t know if we’re going to be alive and in a somewhat functioning, somewhat safe society in a few months. No matter what happens in November, something bad is coming. Maybe I should just not worry about the future because I assume there won’t be one, really.

        1. Nessun*

          Agreed. We’re living in some serious Tower times right now, but there’s always something next, and it could be something wonderful. There’s no way to know until we get there – but hope is powerful.

          Gazebo – I wish you all the best, and I hope things turn out okay in the long run.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I agree. There will be something for you, GS. Hold on to that thought. There will be something for you.

  49. PersonalityQuizzer*

    This is more a funny story than a question. Last year, I was applying for jobs. This one company looked very good on paper – interesting job, good pay, short commute, so I applied. In the first interview, I was supposed to fill in a personality quiz. They assured me the results would not matter at all (if so, why take it?). I filled in the quiz.
    Second interview they were going to discuss the results of the quiz (that did not matter?) with me. So I sit in this room with the would-be big boss and they pull out the result of the quiz.
    The results are superweird. There are almost-synonyms on there (it was not English, but think “stubborness” and “determination”) where I scored super high on one and super low on the other. When I pointed this out to the interviewer, they brushed it off with a “yeah, we don’t use these words like everyone else uses them. ‘stubborness’ actually means ‘independence’ and ‘determination’ actually means ‘creativity’.” (I don’t remember the exact words they used).
    Then they continued to ask me why I scored high or low on particular stats. I didn’t even know what the stats meant and even had they used the right words, I did not agree with their assesment. I should have actually cut the interview short.
    They then told me that score X in stat Y usually indicated a recent trauma and did I recently experience anything awful? Inside I was completely re-assessing my view on the job because what the hell, but outside I just said “no, can’t think of anything” and when they pressed, I gave a supervague answer of something bad that happens to everyone eventually (think: my grandfather died when I was a kid). Even though my example was not at al recent, they went with it and talked a good 5 minutes about how awful that must have been for me.
    Then they pulled out a theory on emotions that they thought was great and explained it to me in great detail. I had the feeling I had seen this theory already somewhere and figured it was probably something popular on the internet that I might have come across some time.
    The person that would be my direct manager if I took/got this job was supposed to talk to me about the actual job after this whole personality quiz thing, but oops, he was not available that day. I had to come back some other, not specified, day.
    A few days after this interview I was at an event with lots of sponsoring companies. In exchange for sponsoring the main thing, they get a boot where they can lure in visitors and hopefully convince them of becoming customers. One of the boots was scientology. Who had a giant poster with the exact emotion drawings that the interviewer showed me. And I remembered they had given me their spiel the year before (at the same event) because I had been too polite to cut them off immediately. This is where I knew the emotion theory from.
    As if the interview had not been crazy enough without this information.
    Obviously I did not interview further with them.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      What the actual hell??? Some nonsense personality test that full of made up nonsense indicates a recent trauma and now wer’re going to talk about it as part of a job interview??????

      Bees. Just, bees.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Personality tests should be banned from use in hiring. That is horribly invasive.

      Also, *words mean things* and no one can expect other people to intuit their specific weird alternate meaning that they use for a word. (Don’t ask about my boss who did that.)

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Ah, he was… fun. He refused to train people, hated answering questions, and would tell me things like “Put a back address on the mail” and get angry when I didn’t know what that was. (It was his own idiosyncratic synonym for “return address.” No, English was not his second language, and he and I have lived in the same state for a long time.)

          He’d gone through several assistants in several months, looking for the perfect person to replace his old assistant who quit. Apparently that person would need all of Old Assistant’s knowledge of him and his business downloaded into her brain. (Second boss I’d had who fit that pattern. Both owners of very small businesses.) I lasted 2 weeks.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        As I understand it, the word thing is a specific gaslighting technique used in Scientology. It’s very important to know the precise definition of a word, to the point where if someone doesn’t understand a teaching they are to go look up the words in the Scientology dictionary, but also they slightly redefine a lot of words in this way.

        1. PersonalityQuizzer*

          Thank you for that information. At least that confirms that the personality quiz was also scientology. I only knew for sure about the emotion theory thing and though there was still a small chance the quiz was an unrelated weird thing.

  50. LGC*

    Okay – I think I might have messed up and replied by mistake.

    But – long story short, my job asked me about a slight change in my anxiety levels I reported, and I’m still really annoyed by it a couple of weeks later. Should I be or should I just chalk it up to their issues? And what should I do if I have other issues?

    1. LGC*

      And yes, I’m aware this sounds wacky. I work for a social enterprise, we provide counseling services in house, and this is part of our security theater.

      1. valentine*

        Are you saying you have to regularly (!) report your anxiety levels to your employer?

        What do you mean by security theater?

        1. LGC*

          Yes, the questionnaire has a question where we rate how anxious we are today on a scale of 1-10. It’s along with temperature checks and symptom checks, which is what I mean by security theater.

          Honestly, I do think that question is intrusive to say the least.

          1. Lyudie*

            W H A T oh absolutely not.

            Ok the temp checks and “do you have symptoms”, I get that but do they think anxiety is a symptom of Covid?! My mental health is not my employer’s business unless it’s impacting my work.

    2. Alianora*

      I’d rate my anxiety levels exactly the same every day in the future, if I didn’t want my workplace to have that information.

  51. New Senior Mgr*

    A new facet (interim) of my position will be account management activities directed to cardiology health care professionals in academic and community settings. These providers already use our device. No sales. They prescribe our device for patients suffering with late stage heart illnesses. I am comfortable making presentations on what we do to our patients and Board but have no direct experience with ongoing physician relationships/account management. Any suggestions?

  52. Job Carousel*

    I’ve spent the last 12 years training as a research-oriented MD/PhD (med school, grad school focusing on drug development, residency, subspecialty fellowship, during which time I’ve gotten a good number of publications, some prestigious awards/funding), and I’m finally (!!) reaching the end of my training next June. Ideally after that I want to work in biotech/biopharma in a research-oriented role and move back to the Midwest where I’m from and where all my family still lives. With my CV and pharma-related experience in grad school I am thinking I’d be a fairly competitive candidate for a director/associate director/department head-type roles. The big biotech/biopharma hubs are on either coast, so in the Midwest I’m looking at about half a dozen well-known employers and maybe a dozen more smaller organizations. As I’m starting my job search, I’m struggling with a few things:

    – Since the employers are somewhat limited, do I wait for a job opening that meets like 80-90% of what I hope to do, or should I be applying for jobs that are maybe a 50% match?
    – Will I look bad if I apply for multiple (2-4, not like 6+) roles at the same companies?
    – Since I wouldn’t be able to start for ~9 months, should I reach out to my target organizations now and just share my CV/resume and ask them to keep me in mind for positions? Who would be the ideal contacts at these organizations? (I’ve already been contacted by a few recruiting firms and have shared my CV, but so far the jobs they’ve pitched to me haven’t been fits.)

    Any tips/advice would be much appreciated!

    1. kt*

      What *I* would do is figure out how you can meet people at companies you’re interested in through your professional organizations — organize a panel with them, or attend a virtual webinar they’re in and follow up with them with questions/comments/your own work. Network in a natural way with people at the companies you intend to apply to, and when you have a bit of a relationship, ask if you can chat for 30 minutes about their role and what advice they might have for you as you transition.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Those a great points! I’ve been doing similar things already a little — I tracked down alumni of my MD/PhD program who are now in industry and reached out on LinkedIn (with about a 25% response rate, but the ones I did hear back from were very helpful and we chatted for a while). And my medical subspecialty does interface with industry a lot, so I was just on a call last week with some industry MDs at an organization I’m interested in, but I couldn’t find them on LinkedIn otherwise I would’ve sent them a connection request afterwards. But I am sure if I keep looking, I’ll eventually be able to grow more contacts!

    2. irene adler*

      Yes, you should reach out -now- to companies that you would be interested in working for. In addition to the “keep me in mind for positions” you might try to engage in some discussion of what interests you about their company. Work on a cogent response to “why do you want to work here?” that you will be asked at some point during any interview process. Show them you have an interest in the area of research the company is doing.

      You’ll need to do some ‘touching base’ as well. Don’t assume they are keeping you in mind. Especially when a new position is posted that you’d be ideal for. That’s when you want be sure to reach out (and apply as well).

      In addition, you might look for upcoming conferences, websites pertaining to the research they are working on, and other arenas that this company or it’s lead researchers are participating in. Maybe even a LI group or a professional organization. Some companies list upcoming conferences they will be attending in their news sections on their websites. Or where their lead researchers are presenting. Might even look for journal articles the company has sponsored. Or that their lead researchers have published. Get to know the research and the players. Maybe reach out and ask questions about the work. Participate in any LI groups (or other venues) where you see them participating.

      Suggestion: don’t automatically write off biotech located on either coast. They may have divisions located in the Midwest. Do a little research to see.

      With the jobs that are 50% match: are these jobs you would want? Or are you just trying to get any job in the hopes you can move into their research department? Don’t waste their time if these are not jobs you will take. But, it is okay to apply to find out more information about the position.

      You can apply for multiple positions for similar roles. They may be embarking on a number of projects so you’ll want to be in the running for all of them.

      Don’t PhD researchers begin their careers with post-doc jobs first?

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you, those are some great points! The big conference in my field (that interfaces with industry quite a bit) is in November, but remote this year due to COVID. I went last November when it was held in-person and made a lot of good industry contacts, including a few at a Midwestern company I’d love to work for. This year we’ll see how the virtual platform works for networking. But looking at company websites for upcoming conferences they’ll be at sounds like a very smart strategy!

        In terms of location — I’m open to companies with coastal HQs too; I guess I’m just worried that if I work at a Midwestern division of the company vs the main coastal HQ, my growth opportunities at that company will either be fairly limited (if I want to stay in the Midwest) or require me to move out to a coast to work at HQ a few years down the line. My mid-term career goals are to be able to stay in the Midwest, gain experience, and rise up the ranks for the next 15-20 years, all while being geographically close to my parents, who are now in their mid-60s. Once I no longer have those family ties, to potentially move out to a coast and take a CMO/CSO type position (or found my own company) and be compensated well enough to be able to afford a nice lifestyle in a city like San Francisco or Boston.

        In terms of job matches: ideally I’d want as close to 100% of a match as possible. I guess I’m just afraid of the near 100% match not existing, or not being qualified for it, and wondering how much I need to compromise.

        In terms of postdocing: it’s not something I’m interested in. I’m in my mid-30s and have spent nearly 10 years in medical training after 5 years earning my PhD. Most MD/PhD folks who I know that went into industry generally do it straight after their residency and fellowship training, or after a few years in clinical practice after finishing their medical training. Also, I don’t know of many MD/PhDs post-residency/fellowship training who would be willing to forego their six figure salaries as attending physicians to make mid five figure salaries as postdocs!

        1. KayDeeAye*

          My brother (a PharmD) works in research in Big Pharma – and I do mean “big” – that is headquartered on the East Coast, and he lives in New Mexico. He’s worked at this company for more than 20 years, and while pre-COVID he had to travel to HQ several times (now all those meetings are done remotely), he’s always worked from home.

          So I don’t know how much attention is paid to Midwest vs. Southwest vs. East Coast. when it comes to research opportunities. It might when it comes to moving up the corporate ladder, though – he never had any interest in that.

          1. Job Carousel*

            That’s encouraging to hear that he’s had success working remotely for so long (and in a location where the weather, and probably the cost-of-living for things like housing, are much better than if he worked at the East Coast HQ)!

        2. kt*

          I’m in the Midwest (not in your field) and there are some advantages to being here as opposed to the coasts, but it is my impression that you very much have to get to know the companies and people in the area you want to live in. It can be a little bit insular.

          Also, with all the conferences being virtual this year, do some internet searching for other conferences you usually wouldn’t go to. Are there data science & (your field) conferences? Or supply chain & (your field), or blockchain and (your field), or llama genetics & (your field)? You get the idea. Sometimes those adjacent conferences/articles/organizations can get your mental wheels spinning and give you new ideas on how to connect with people, and also expose you to different facets of what potential employers think about.

          1. Job Carousel*

            Looking for adjacent conferences and organizations is a really good idea, thank you! I’ve noticed that since practically every conference through at least the end of 2020 is virtual, the registration fees are either waived or a fraction of what they would normally cost, which is awesome!

    3. LabRat*

      I’m currently in biopharma on the west coast, and I can tell you that at least some job postings are 100% remote right now. Will that continue post-COVID? I have no idea. But I wouldn’t completely rule them out.

      As far as finding contacts at organizations, I’d work your network. If you’ve got pubs and funding, you know folks; ask them who they know! I had a very hard time with this, but discovered that the people I knew wanted to help others just as much as I did. I mean, I LOVE to connect folks who can help each other, it turns out that other people love it too!

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you! I’ve seen those 100% remote job postings too. It’s weird — pre-COVID, I would have never considered a 100% remote job, since I’m fairly ambitious and would think that taking a remote job doesn’t afford the same potential for making and fostering the needed connections for rising up in one’s company. But now it seems like the work world is forever changed. I’d still definitely prefer a non-remote job (or a job that starts out non-remote and then transitions to remote once I’m already established), but I am keeping my options open.

        And making connections makes sense! I’ve got some in industry already (probably 80-85% of my grad school colleagues are now in industry, as well as a smaller percentage of my MD/PhD colleagues, and a handful of my fellow science major colleagues in undergrad), but I’ve only reached out to a handful so far. It seems like it’d be a good time to try to reconnect more broadly!

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I’m fairly ambitious and would think that taking a remote job doesn’t afford the same potential for making and fostering the needed connections for rising up in one’s company.

          I can’t speak to your field (and maybe your thought process here is correct for what you do), but a third of my company was fully remote pre-COVID, including many members of our executive team – we have a ton of face time with our colleagues via Teams, and so no one really feels out of the loop. Just throwing that out there in the event you do informational interviews with people in your field that are working at companies in the midwestern area you’d like to work in and can ask them about it.

          1. Job Carousel*

            That’s encouraging to hear! I think attitudes are definitely changing, and largely for the better, with how remote work is viewed among higher level roles. My top choice would still be a company headquartered in the Midwest so I can work on-site, but if I can expand my search geographically to the big hubs on both coasts for a 100% remote gig that wouldn’t make me expendable/less valued and would allow me to live anywhere I wanted, that’d be great too.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              I work for a software company that’s headquartered on the east coast, and I live in the midwest. It’s definitely possible to find a 100% remote role at a major coastal company that will let you live anywhere (I have teammates that live in other countries even).

    4. Annony*

      How related would the multiple roles be at the same company? Applying to be head of two very different departments would probably look bad since it means you are rather scattered. But two departments that are pretty close together and would be expected to appeal to people with similar backgrounds would be more understandable. If you can basically use the same cover letter then I think you are fine. If the roles are significantly different, maybe not. I wouldn’t apply to four jobs at the same company at the same time.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Those are great points, thank you! One example I’m looking at now is this case of two roles at the same large company:

        – Role A, associate director: I meet 100% of the job requirements right now and would possibly be overqualified, but the role itself is about 50% of what I’m hoping for. I’m just not that enthused about this role.

        – Role B, head (not the direct manager of role A, but an analogous role in a related department): I meet about 75% of the job requirements right now (a few years less experience than they are looking for), but the role itself is like 90% of what I’m hoping for.

        1. Annony*

          I probably wouldn’t apply for a role I’m not enthusiastic about if there is also an opening that I actually want at the same company. It doesn’t seem worth it. Do you know anyone at the company? If so you could try to figure out how important those few years of experience are. But overall it doesn’t sound like you are at the point where you should be applying for roles you are overqualified for and don’t really want.

          1. Job Carousel*

            Thank you! I unfortunately don’t know anyone at this particular company, but I could try applying for role B anyway and acknowledge in my cover letter that while I don’t have as many years of relevant experience as they are looking for, I have X years of experience and skills/certifications in A, B, and C and so believe I could do well in that role. I think part of me (a cis female) is hung up on gender stereotypes — I’ve read that women don’t tend to apply for roles unless they meet a very high percentage of the stated criteria, whereas men apply for roles where they meet much less of the stated criteria — because the bar for a woman to be perceived as arrogant and self-aggrandizing (even when she’s not) is much lower than for a man. So part of me is apprehensive about the possibility of applying for role B or similar roles now (9 months before I can realistically start), hearing nothing back, and then months down the road applying for role A or roles similar to that at the same organization, only to have ruined all my credit with that employer.

            1. Annony*

              I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Unless they get very very few applicants, a discarded resume is unlikely to be remembered unless it was for something really really bad. A few years less experience than they want is not something that would make you memorable. If these are large companies, then if they decide you don’t meet the minimum criteria, it is unlikely to even get to the hiring manager.

              1. Job Carousel*

                Thank you! That’s definitely very reassuring to hear. The best case scenario would be that if I’m not what they’re looking for for role B, but otherwise have a desirable skill set that might work for other roles, they might still keep my resume on file or suggest that I apply for other roles when they come up. Hopefully the worst case scenario is just that they discard my resume and don’t remember that I previously applied for a different role with them earlier, if I reapply for a different position later on.

        2. Jobbyjob*

          I would see if you can get some advice from your industry contacts with similar background experience who have been working for a few years in the field. I’m in pharma and from what I’ve seen, industry experience is a must for any type of “head” role, including clinical science. Academic and medical credentials are well and good, but are often not good predictors for how well you contribute specifically in industry. So you may need to prove yourself in a role that’s maybe a little lower than you think you deserve right away.

          1. Job Carousel*

            Thank you! I know among those in my medical specialty/subspecialty (molecular diagnostics), fellow MD/PhDs fit fairly easily into industry because we’re essentially doing much the same work as we’d be doing in clinical practice, plus we already have a research background, so while there’s still a learning curve, it’s not quite as steep as, say, an internist with no research or clinical trials experience switching over to pharma to run clinical trials. One of my colleagues (same speciality, different subspecialty) joined a big biotech out East a few years ago as a director after a few years in clinical practice, and he’s still there and doing well.

  53. JT Rideout*

    (Tuesday) My Grandboss: I gave feedback to [My Boss] on X, and she’s not implementing it.

    (Wednesday) My Boss: [My Grandboss] gave me feedback on X, and I don’t agree with it.

    Me: *awkward silence*

    I feel like the child caught between 2 arguing parents during a divorce.

    1. valentine*

      “This seems like something you would discuss amongst yourselves. Do you plan to turn this into an action item for me?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. My reply to both of them would have been the same: “When you two decide, I will be happy to help if I am needed.”

        Let it roll off your back and let them see it roll off your back.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I’d avoid the “This seems like something you would discuss amongst yourselves” bit. It’s entirely accurate, but bosses don’t like being called out for bad behavior. I’d just go with a diplomatic version of ‘so what the fack do you want me to do about it?’

        Try “Ok. Is there anything you’d like me to do about that?” or “Ok. How would you like me to proceed?”

  54. Abby*

    I’m expecting to move within the next year, when my partner finishes her PhD and likely finds a job in a different state than we live in now. She originally expected to finish this fall, but because of the pandemic it will probably be later.

    I wouldn’t normally look for a new full time job only to stay less than a year, but I got laid off last month. I’m wondering about the ethics of starting a new professional job I might not be at for long. If an employer asks how long I plan to stay in the role, is it ok to lie? I don’t want to lie, but I feel like I’m in survival mode right now.

      1. Abby*

        I guess what sort of justifies it for me is, I don’t know when her job search will start, or how long it will take to find a job in her field right now. Also, our first choice would be to stay in our current city. It’s just far from a guarantee.

        1. valentine*

          It’s okay to lie, but you wouldn’t be lying. You’re assuming things will go as planned, but you can only work with what you have now.

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Can you just go with the more ambiguous route? Something along the lines of saying that COVID has changed a lot of plans for you and your family, therefore, you would hope that this could be a career, but you never know? I mean even if your partner finishes their PhD by next year, they still have to look for a job in this market. It may be more than a year. Maybe they will find one in the state you are in now. I think that COVID has proved that no one can predict how things can change, so I don’t see this being as big of an issue as it would have been pre-COVID.

      1. Abby*

        Thank you! Yes, my plans have certainly already changed because of COVID, and I have no idea what my partner’s job search is going to look like. I think it’s ok to say I plan to stay long term, and then for plans to change later. I want to find something that I /would/ stay at long term, and then what happens will happen… if I’m lucky, I’ll find something that can be done remote permanently anyway

    2. Natalie*

      Oh for god sake just lie. It’s not a deposition or a secret test of character from one of the gods in disguise. Maybe you have some ideas of what your plans are right now but tons of stuff is very volatile and out of your control. And your super duper honesty won’t pay the bills.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        This. Lie. I’m the trailing spouse. You end up with holes in your resume and when you explain it that you’re moving for your partner’s job they assume you’re going to be a housewife and you don’t have permission to be working outside the home.

        Lie. Lie. Lie.

    3. irene adler*

      Plans change All. The. Time. You may end up leaving sooner – or a lot later – than you anticipated.

      The PhD may wrap up in the Fall, but then, maybe she’ll want to take a 6 month break. Or maybe things will work out so that she’s still working on it a year from now. In either case, you having employment will be better able to support her no matter what happens. What a relief for her, don’t you think?

      You can use the term “foreseeable future” -should they ask. Are you very sure this is something that will be asked by an interviewer? No one can guarantee the future and what they will do. What if, two months after you are hired, you must quit the job to live cross country to assist a family member who unexpectedly falls ill? It happens. You give your sincere apologies and do what you can to assist with the transition to your replacement. Same if you relocate with your partner in a few months.

      1. kt*

        Yes, this — maybe the PhD thesis hits another roadblock (hoping not!!); maybe she doesn’t get the job she wants and her department offers a temporary postdoctoral fellowship; maybe like me she gets a prestigious research fellowship for the fall only in a coastal area that is extraordinarily expensive and it totally doesn’t make sense for you to move for three months to expensive-land (so spouse stayed ‘home’ and I split a temporary rental from a prof on sabbatical with another woman who got the fellowship), so you’re not moving to a permanent-ish location until January 2022….

    4. PostDocErgoProctorDoc*

      You never know what will happen. I don’t think it’s lying to accept a job that’s long term & then resigning when you move to a new location (just as the employer would if they decided they no longer needed you). I thought I was going to move at the end of my PhD and ended up working in the same city for another 2 years. You owe your employer the work they pay you for—not loyalty.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I went through this (the expecting to move after partner’s PhD) last year and it was horribly stressful, so first off, my sympathies! Second, I think it would be unusual for someone to ask you how long you expect to stay in a professional role, but you can always say something about how you’re hoping to make this a long-term position, however that plays out.

      When you’re looking, look for places that have people who telework or who have flexible WFH policies. If you end up in a role you like and they like you, there’s always the possibility you can take it with you (that’s what I did– twice, actually). If they ask you why you moved to the area and it was because of your partner’s PhD, you can say that, but you don’t have to– you can move for “family reasons” or “to be closer to your family” because, well, both are true.

      But here’s the other thing: you have no idea how the next year will go! It’s so hard. We didn’t have final plans until late May, with a lease ending in late June. Up until that day we had several options on the table, including me staying in the area and him taking a visiting job three hours away, him doing a one-year postdoc across the country and me staying in the area, both of us moving to a place where there were zero job prospects for me, me leaving my job, me staying… I wouldn’t wish that on anyone but I will say that your partner’s prospects are so up in the air that you should just proceed as if nothing will change. I mean, there’s also the possibility that she needs another year.

      Either way, good luck! Again, it’s so hard. It will work out one way or another, though!

    6. Twisted Lion*

      As a milspouse I have a different take on this. Its ok to go job searching knowing you might be leaving. You know why? Because life happens and you dont know when your partner will get a job in another state. What if it takes a year or longer?

      So do it. Your loyalty is to your family, not a corporation :) I dont think there is anything unethical about it. You dont know what will happen between now and when she is finished. Do it!

      1. Viette*

        So completely agree and support this. A PhD wrapping up (that’s already been extended once) is hardly a predictable timeline. You need a full time job, for financial reasons, and career reasons. You don’t know how long you’ll keep it but if you get it you’ll work hard for as long as you’re there. For all you know it’ll be another 2 years of PhD-ing, or she’ll graduate and not get a job out of state because there are no jobs, etc etc etc.

    7. Workerbee*

      Keep protecting yourself and your interests. As you’ve already found, things don’t go as planned, and companies will put themselves first every time. You got laid off; had you asked your old company in the interview if they’d ever do that, I’m betting they wouldn’t have said yes! (I may be drawing an uneven comparison, but as long as it’s okay for orgs to summarily dismiss people, pandemic or not, it bugs how we’re expected to show unswerving loyalty.)

  55. Student Affairs Sally*

    I have a final round interview on Monday that I am simultaneously terrified and extremely excited about. This position would be a big step up for me – I always knew it was a stretch role and have been surprised at every stage in the process that they want to continue with me. I’m excited about the role because it acknowledges how this pandemic is changing my industry, probably permanently, and has the opportunity to really innovate the landscape of the kind of work I do. It’s also in my top choice of city to relocate to (moving out of our current city is my #1 motivation for my job search). I feel underqualified compared to the other people on the team, but I also have some really great ideas of things I could do in this role, and my background gives me a unique perspective on the objectives of the role. Everyone please send me good vibes!

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I was told that if you weren’t a little unsure, scared, or nervous about being able to do the responsibilities the job is asking for, you aren’t applying to a job that will move you forward in your career. It sounds like you’ve found a great job to go for, and I’m really hoping you get it! Good luck!

    2. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      Good luck!

      And – practice practice practice this weekend, verbalise and role play answers – this advice from AAM and the lovely commentariat helped me get my new job a few weeks ago. All the best :)

    3. New Senior Mgr*

      Sending positive vibes. Review your notes from the previous interviews. Write down everything you feel went well and not so great. Perfect it. Practice. You made it to the final interview so you’re obviously rocking it!

  56. California Girl*

    I’m having co-worker troubles and I’m angry and stressed. We are both individual contributors, but it is within my purview to assign Alex work because I am the project manager and Alex is the tech lead, and does not own the project.

    The first time I did so, Alex refused to perform the task, saying they didn’t think they should have to do it. They then went over my head and the manager said the deliverable I wanted was something nice to have, but not necessary. So they got the choice not to do something I thought was essential.

    Alex is also missing a couple of core competencies and has to be told many times to perform tasks. They won’t use Slack to talk to other project team members, which slows down progress.

    There have been discussions with, okay there have been complaints to management on both sides and I have been told ‘we have to get along’ and it seems Alex’s deficiencies are not being addressed.

    I have scheduled a meeting with Alex for next week to ask how I can be more supportive (because I have not been given specifics), but here’s the thing–I can’t trust someone who goes to management without even trying to discuss their needs with me.

    1. Temperance*

      I think you should get a list of what you need from Alex to work on your relationship, rather than going into this meeting prepared to kowtow to what Alex wants. That’s a great way for your working relationship to degrade even further.

      It seems red flaggy to me that they’re willing to ignore the fact that the tech lead just doesn’t communicate with the team. It also seems red flaggy that the management team seems to take Alex’s side.

      1. California Girl*

        I’ve already had a conversation with her and management specifically about roles & responsibilities too. That happened right after Alex refused the task. They still decided to complain because the information they had was ‘too high level.’

        On projects where Alex is not, I love my job, but I can’t deny the red flags and the resume is being tweaked.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I…wonder if we work in the same place. Because exactly this situation has and is happening on my team, and our “Alex” is a bear to work with. A grumpy, hibernating bear who doesn’t want to follow the processes the entire team has agreed to. It is frustrating as a team member that “Alex” gets away with it while any other team member who does anything remotely similar immediately gets in trouble for it.

  57. Kat Maps*

    Any tips for staying motivated and focused at work when I’ve emotionally checked out?

    I’ve been feeling disenchanted by my current job for quite a while now, but it’s really gotten much worse. Due to a big source of our funding not coming through, we had to lay off some staff, which meant that more work was piled on me. And it’s work I really have zero interest in doing, on top of a manager who is *too* hands off, sometimes going weeks (or months) before giving feedback on projects I’m working on.

    I’ve been job searching for a while, and I posted in the open thread last week how I’d interviewed and been offered a job, but that the offer was rescinded after I mentioned that I don’t own a car. I think having that offer made and then rescinded was a pretty big shot to the last bit of motivation that I had left.

    So, any suggestions on how I can keep myself focused enough to do a decent job in my current role, while keeping optimistic about finding something new?

    1. Secretary*

      Do you have any vacation time? Maybe take some time off to refresh your mind. Even a long weekend would help.

      Then come back, set mini goals for how you’ll get through your workday. Shut off thinking about work when you’re off, and focus on things you’re excited about when you’re off work. Get your motivation based on what you do outside of work, instead of what you do at work.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Do you have any vacation time? Maybe take some time off to refresh your mind. Even a long weekend would help.

        I was going to say – it sounds like you could use a break. Try to take vacation or even sick leave if you have it available; it can help you to just rest your mind and refocus on continuing your job search.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Doing a decent job- stop working for your employer and tell yourself you are now working for your resume/next interview. Do something (if possible) that would look great on your resume or be a great talking point in an interview.
      Don’t do your job for THEM, do it for YOU instead.

      I am sorry about your job offer.

  58. Stalemate at work*

    It feels lately like the boss is behaving badly, knowing this is a bad time for employees to quit and job search (switching assigned teams without clearing it with people first, ignoring valid complaints, approving requests which create a domino effect of more problems, etc).

    Meanwhile, the employees are generally demoralized, aware that the boss isn’t tuned in, aware that it’s *really really* unlikely anyone will be fired in this climate (payroll protection makes firings stickier than usual), and especially given that our work output has been better than should be expected given the circumstances — it might be hard to job search but it’s equally hard to find quality employees.

    Sooo it feels a bit like a Mexican standoff (side note: is this a racist term and if so, what is a good substitute?), where we all have our pistols drawn at each other like “What are you gonna do about it?” because we know no one is going to quit or be fired right now.

    1. HasUserName*

      Just drop the Mexican. Any nationality can accomplish pointing pointing guns directly at two other people assuming each person with guns has two hands.
      We’re at a standoff.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        There’s also the Spiderman standoff meme where all the Spideys are pointing at each other (presumably about to websling).

        To the OP – I’m not sure there’s much to be done, especially if everyone is working from home and can’t easily grab a few teammates for a quick chat to hash out the boss’ latest rash decision and its likely impact. I mean, it can be done over Slack or Skype but face to face is sometimes easier to gauge other people’s reactions in the moment. But generally if the boss is becoming a missing stair, everyone else may have to help come up with a way to minimize the negative impact.

  59. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    We had a major issue at work that involved many people across multiple departments. Many people were complaining about this problem, yet no action was being taken (it has been going on for a few years now). I had the ability to influence change as a lower tier manager, so I took it. I sent a very pointed email to management (it only went directly to them, no other employees were on the email) that explained what the issue was, why it was wrong, and what we needed to do to fix it (on a high level). It wasn’t hostile, but it was aggressive (there were some capital letters words and I spelled out “BS” fully in the email). Good news, management agreed that there was a needed change and is planning on doing everything needed to fix the issue. I have been asked to help with figuring out all of the details behind getting it done. However, now my management also wants to talk to me about my “stress levels at work,” whether I need to find time to take a vacation, and other things like that. Basically I think that they want me to apologize for the tone in my email and are trying to chalk it up to the fact that I’m “stressed” (which I mean, most of us are, but that isn’t why I sent the email). The point is, I’m not sorry at all. If something like this came up again, I would send the same email again. Should I just go with the “yeah, I was really stressed out, and that’s why I wrote the email that way” or can I say something along the lines of “I wouldn’t have had to send that email if you had listened to our employees who told you all there were issues”? It’s died down a little now that we’ve started working on the details for the solution, but every so often one of the upper managers will ask “how is the vacation planning going? I heard it’s great to even just take a few days off and relax at home” or “If you get too much work from external departments asking for your review, let me know and I can tell them to change the dates they need stuff from you.” I guess I should appreciate that they see that I have a lot of work and am working hard, but again, the issue was more of a global, please listen to your people when they tell you something is wrong. And again, I don’t feel like I have anything to apologize for, but should I just do a fake apology, take some vacation time? I do have the hours, due to projects pre-COVID, I wasn’t able to take any leave since Thanksgiving, so I basically maxed out (I was planning on taking a lot of leave this summer as the projects were all supposed to conclude by May, so I had planned to be at the max so I could take long leave breaks). I just don’t know how to navigate this I guess perception that I’m about to snap, when I’m really not?

    1. Just a PM*

      Take the time off ASAP, regardless of timing or impact to others. It’s a bit malicious compliance, but all the hinting and questions sound like they want you to take some time off, which could imply permission. I’d take it, especially a long break, and not worry about it.

      I wouldn’t apologize* but I would own up to sending an aggressive email. Something like “I realize my tone and phrasing were inappropriate. Will make sure this doesn’t happen again. I’m going to be out XX-YY but when I return, can we get together to find a better solution for how issues can be raised and discussed? The current approach doesn’t seem to be working for us.”

      *I’m a female. I get told all the time that my tone is inappropriate and aggressive but a male colleague who sends the same email wouldn’t get any flack or they’d even be praised for being direct (some colleagues and I have even tested this theory out and it is true for our workplace). I don’t apologize when stuff like this happens but I do own up to it with something like “Yes, I see how I could have phrased that better.” Usually that gets everyone off my case. (I do apologize if it’s really truly necessary though.)

      1. Admin to operations manager?*

        I have had to make that sort of apology (not an apology) just to keep moving forward but you also can say that now that the problem is being addressed, you are less stressed and doing fine. But I vote you take some time off! There will never be a good time but my recent 4 days at home help me a lot when I came back.

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Thanks! I am also a female. My grandboss is well known for treating everyone the same (it came from his last job, where he had to deal with major discrimination issues, so he is sensitive to treating men and women equally) so I know if my male coworkers sent it, they also would have gotten some flack for it. I probably shouldn’t have used “BS” because he has a very strict anti-cursing/”locker room talk” stance, but I knew it would get his attention, and I was right! I probably should find a way to make sure that issues like this are better addressed instead of allowing it to become a point of cynicism in the office until I blasted them.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        Take the time off ASAP, regardless of timing or impact to others. It’s a bit malicious compliance, but all the hinting and questions sound like they want you to take some time off, which could imply permission.

        I was thinking it implied a directive personally. When that many people are asking if you’re taking vacation, it’s usually because someone somewhere said you needed to – even if no one had the guts to say it to your face.

    2. valentine*

      I wouldn’t have done the all-caps or profanity, even abbreviated, but it worked for you! If they are blaming you, how dare they, but are they? It sounds like maybe they are wanting to make amends for pushing you to that extreme.

      Don’t apologize. If they want to talk about tone, wait them out. Let them characterize it. Be prepared to remind them it was nevertheless effective. And don’t take vacation too soon, in case they want to say you can’t handle the pressure. Tell them you’re good and wait a few weeks before taking off.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Yeah, I knew it was going to get a reaction, but it’s now just a continuing one where they keep checking in to see if I’m overwhelmed/stressed. It’s like they want me to acknowledge it, but I’ve just been letting them ask me if everything is going ok, and saying “of course!”. They aren’t blaming me, it’s just a more out of character thing for me to do something like this, but instead of seeing it as a result of the problem that they were ignoring, they seem to think my email was a result of me just being overloaded (everyone is, we’re not fully staffed, it’s just a fact of our office life). I just got an email a few minutes ago from my boss telling me that she needed me to do something for an external source, but don’t worry I can have more time if I need because they know I’m trying to handle a lot of issues.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I wonder if it’s less about them thinking you’re generally over stressed (resulting in your strongly worded email) and more that the impact of you sending an uncharacteristically strongly worded email caught them off guard. I think the fact that they’re taking the email content seriously makes me think it’s more the second interpretation. Maybe they recognize the situation itself resulted in strong feelings due to frustration (interpreted by them as you being stressed out) and are wanting to make sure you’re not still feeling strongly about it?

      I don’t think you need to apologize for the tone (it did get their attention when more gentle attempts hadn’t), although you can point out that your strongly worded email was due to frustration at the situation and the desire to take action. That would serve the purpose of acknowledging that it might be a little out of character while still drawing a boundary around the situation, that it’s not due to you generally being over stressed.

      Personally, I would take a couple of day’s vacation once that’s explained though, because you’ve earned it for other reasons. It might help the dust settle and get them to focus on the actual problem and not keep bugging you about a non-problem.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        It definitely is uncharacteristic for me. I try to only use that type of language when it gets to the point that nothing else will work, which was what was going on, and why I don’t feel bad about doing so. I just figured I’d get the “hey, that’s not appropriate, next time be more professional” conversation, rather than this constant “oh, I know you have a lot of work, are you ok?” conversation. I’m generally an unproblematic team lead, and my team is great, we may be late on some things, but generally, we don’t cause issues for the upper management. So maybe they feel bad for not spending time seeing how my team or I are doing because we just get it done?

    4. Wintergreen*

      Are you 100% positive that all the hinting is about the email? My management gets very pushy when we near max and it has nothing to do with what we are working on.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Yes, I didn’t put the full story of everything that happened right after the email, so the full context might help explain the vacation part. I sent the email to greatgrandboss, gradboss, and boss late in the evening. The next morning greatgrandboss calls, we talk, he asks some questions about what I wrote because he needs to talk to the executive level that day about things related to the issue. He was super chill, thanked me for my input, and when we discussed the email he noted that we should talk later about how to better stop these issues from getting to the point where I sent the email. I felt that was a complete win. Later that day, my direct boss calls and tells me that she and grandboss were talking about my email. She then went into a discussion about how they know I’ve had a lot of major products since November of last year, and how my team and I have done a great job on getting them done. She then asked me if I was planning on taking any vacation, and I told her that I had planned on going overseas after my last big project, which was supposed to end late April, but since COVID, I could not. I also stated that due to COVID, there was nowhere where I really wanted to go, so there was no point in taking leave right now. She then explained how she took a week off to just do things around her house, and not doing any work for the office, and recommended that I could do the same. I mentioned how I was thinking about using my vacation hours by working 4 days a week instead of 5, which she also seemed to recommend, saying that it might be a good idea to do that for a little while. She then stated that she and grandboss wanted to further discuss the issue I emailed about and wanted to set up a time to meet. I told her that greatgrandboss had called, so he might want to be part of the conversation, and she did not know that he had called (I’m sure he would have told her eventually, they have twice weekly meetings with the level above greatgrandboss). She told me that she would set up a meeting for us, and in the meantime she wanted me to determine if my plan was to take a vacation or to work 4 days a week for some time. We had the meeting last week about the path forward on the issue from my email, but no one asked about vacation during that meeting (it was a meeting of boss, grandboss, and me). But now every time I get emails from boss or have the small team lead meetings where she checks in with each of us on a conference call, she makes a comment about my workload, or how I can put her on my emails back to other teams to provide top cover when I might be late on getting back to them, or that she is willing to talk to other department managers for me in order to help me be able to focus on other things. One of the other team leads told me he thinks it is because grandboss is telling boss that she is bad at properly delegating tasks, but its not like the tasks that any of the team leads do can go to other teams. It’s like he is the team lead of llama grooming and I’m the team lead of cat sitting, and our boss is lead of all teams that deal with animals.

        So long story short, I definitely see the email as the catalyst for what is happening.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah…I’m even more convinced now that all their hinting around about you taking time off is them telling you to take the time.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      How about, “Does everyone else get some time off also, because this problem has been stressing us out for several years. We need a way to explain problems to management that we get heard the first time. It shouldn’t take years to fix something like this. If you really want to reduce stress levels for people, listen to them each time every time.”

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Yes! I try to pick my battles, and not complain about everything that inconveniences my team or me. Which is why when I first brought it up as an issue, I thought I would get more traction because I don’t normally go to my managers unless it is truly something I cannot solve on my own. Also why I’m not sorry I sent the email is that it helps the people on my team. And my team is awesome. I came in as a mid 20’s female with an engineering degree and about four years of work experience to my name, as the deputy team lead. Got promoted to team lead three years ago. Some of my team are, on first glance, the crusty old guys that have been there forever and don’t need some manager telling them what to do. However, it turns out that they just wanted their experience to be respected, and I definitely respect their experience. Listening to them has prevented accidents and prevented me from looking stupid when I discuss things with senior management. They have my back, so I felt that my job as the team lead was to have theirs and demand that this get fixed. I did tell some of the guys that I sent the email, and one of my guys said something along the lines of ‘good, someone needed to tell them to get their heads out of their butts.’ These guys and their similar counterparts on different teams and divisions had been telling their bosses and our shared grandboss about the issue (my organization is serious about the ‘open door policy’ and it is common for the ‘old salts’ to talk to senior management). Maybe because it’s something that will take time and resources to fix, is not easy, spans multiple groups, and requires involvement from the executive level that management was just trying to ignore it? I really don’t get why they were not listening, most of the time, they actually do. There are a few ‘chicken littles’ at my organization, that they have started to not take action on when they freak out over something, but I am not one of them, nor are most of the old salts.

  60. Alphabet Soup*

    I work in education where it is quite common to list all your higher degrees and professional certifications after your name. Does anyone have any idea if there is a preferred order? First one, next one, next one? Degrees and then professional designations? Professional and then degrees? TIA!

    1. zora*

      You usually go by the amount of time required to achieve the credential, starting with the lowest, up to the most time, Ex: MS, PhD.
      Or if you are listing certifications, those go first Ex: RD, MS; or PMP, MS.
      And usually you don’t include Bachelor Degrees, maybe because it’s assumed everyone has those?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Academic, then Professional. I have two of each, so I’m Red Reader, MBA, MPA, CPC, CRC. (Hopefully in three weeks, MBA MPA RHIA CPC CRC. Knock wood.)

    3. Not all letters are =*

      The permeant ones are first. So your academic degrees they you earned and can’t be revoked. Professional ones you need to renew and can lapse or be denied/revoked second.

  61. GN*

    I’m job hunting and found job posting this morning with the salary range listed as “Commiserate with Experience.”

      1. Rainbow Brite*

        I recently came across a posting demanding “attention for detail.” Wasn’t entirely sure whether it was bait for potential applicants to correct …

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I found one that said something similar to, “We need someone who pace attention to details.”

          Yep. You do.

    1. allathian*

      LOL
      I love bloopers and own several of Richard Lederer’s Anguished English books. I always read a chapter or two when I need cheering up.

  62. RestResetRule*

    I work for a university and would usually work on campus, but because of COVID, my team is working from home. Nearly all of my work can be done from home so this isn’t a problem. However, I’ve been asked to go to campus a few times to help with various projects. The issue is that cases on campus are rising and getting worse every day, and the building I work in has a ton of students. I try to be as safe as possible and I don’t mind going in every once in awhile, but the requests for me to go in are increasing; now it’s like a few times a week. My team is very small and my other team members have families with small children and/or live farther from campus–I live close to campus and have no kids. I’m guessing this is why I get asked the most. But this worries me. I’m really trying to limit my exposure, and if I get sick, I have no family in town to take care of me. (I live alone.)

    Is there a way to politely bring this issue up to my boss? I don’t want to seem like I don’t want to help and I’m fine going in every once in awhile, but I don’t want to be the go-to person just because I’m single and close to campus.

    1. valentine*

      Are these projects essential and do they really require you be onsite?

      If yes, tell them what you’re comfortable with and maybe ask if you can have a team rota.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Do you ever have the option to decline? Can you say “I’m really swamped with Project X today; can you try Jane or Fergus?”

    3. Hi there*

      I wonder if you can spell that out for your boss. Say that you have had to go to campus x number of times per week, and that you are concerned about your level of exposure given the student traffic in your building and the overall COVID level in your area. Can you offer some solutions, like you go in only once a week (on Weds morning or whatever) or you have a rotation through the team? At my university anything over 8 hours a week on campus has to be approved by the higher-ups and puts us into the group that gets tested regularly. Your university may have similar regulations, and since it started with one trip here and there you and the boss might not have noticed you hit the level where there is a concern or a rule.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “Boss, I am getting concerned about going on campus so much. I’d like us to look for ways to reduce and perhaps eliminate my trips to the campus.”

      OR “Boss, I no longer feel safe going on campus. Can we find an alternate way of handling things?”

  63. Thankful for AAM*

    Do you have a work playlist?
    Inspired by one of the threads this week, do you have a playlist to get you psyched for work, get you through the day, or otherwise to make work work for you?
    I have a short playlist that I play on the way to work when times are tough (or like all the time):

    Beez in the Trap (Nicki Minaj)
    It ain’t me babe (Bob Dylan)
    I Love it (Icona Pop)
    Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)
    Under Pressure (Queen, David Bowie)
    Call me Names (Joan Armitrading)
    Cherry Bomb (The Runaways)
    Blackbird (Beatles)
    Hot n Cold (Katy Perry)
    Bad Reputation (Joan Jett)
    WAP (Cardi B, Meagan Thee Stallion)
    Don’t Bring me Down (ELO)

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I rotate my work music, but my most common playlist is called “I will take over the world to this playlist”. I’m maybe weird and like a lot of melancholy, building orchestral music, and angry country. Favorites include Two Black Cadillacs (Carrie Underwood), River Lea (Adele), Fire on Fire (Sam Smith), Talking Body (Tove Lo), Young and Beautiful (Lana Del Rey), and Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Lorde cover).

      I don’t know what it is about a minor key that inspires me to power through.

    2. Kara S*

      I play KPop at work because it’s high energy and if the music has lyrics I can understand, it’s too distracting.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I don’t have a playlist, but I have discovered that if I really need to get into a groove, I can put on the album Flood by They Might Be Giants (played in order, beginning to end) gets me going like nothing else. My guess is that it’s because it’s all reasonably upbeat, and I also basically memorized the album when I first owned it on cassette (hence needing to play it in order).

    4. Just a PM*

      Mine rotates depending on the mood.
      * If I’m in a serious work-mode and just need something to pass the time, it’s usually 80s or 90s music with a good beat (think Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”).
      * If I’m down in the dumps, it’s Broadway – heavy rotations are Rent, Hamilton, Six, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Michael Ball.
      * If I’m particularly angsty and cranky, it’s Girl Power (Whitney, Mariah, Britney, Christina, Alicia, Spice Girls, Celine, Gaga, Adele, Taylor, Beyonce, Cher, etc.). Also good for battling imposter syndrome.
      * If I’m working on something I need to focus on, like data analysis or data entry, I use Spotify’s “Mellow Mornings” playlist.
      * When I need to get psyched up, I have this playlist: Geronimo, Shut Up and Dance, This Girl is On Fire, Shake It Off, Tubthumping, and My Shot (the Hamilton Mixtape version with The Roots and Busta).

    5. Purple Penguin*

      I’ve a few playlists depending on the mood that I want to evoke. So “go climb a mountain” is full of (old school) David Guetta, The Presets, Crystal Fighters, Fall Out Boy and MO or “Thoughtfulness” has Mozart, Lana Del Ray, Nikki Yanofsky and Ruth B. For a general I’ve got-to-work-through-work vibe, I love most of the lofi compilations on YouTube. ChilledCow has some of the best IMO.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I created a playlist for a particularly stressful and overwhelming project I was on last summer. The project wrapped up in December, but I still can’t listen to the playlist without getting twitchy!

    7. kt*

      I have a really short one I use sometimes:
      Flawless by Beyonce
      Work B**ch by Britney
      Work by Iggy Azalea
      and then to end feeling good, Victory by Janelle Monae.

      It’s enough to get started.
      Right now I’m listening to a lot of Dua Lipa, too — good for singing along.