open thread – October 2-3, 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.

{ 939 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for this*

    Have you ever been irrationally disliked at work, particularly by a higher-up who had influence over your standing and continued employment?  If so, any tips for navigating and successfully resolving this situation?

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Yes. Unfortunately it cost me my job and was couched in “Covid cutbacks”. What kept me holding on for so long was having a manager in my corner who advocated for me. And for thst I tried to help
      Him as much as possible and be an asset to his team

    2. It's a Bev-olution and I'm all in*

      I have not but I witnessed a co-worker who was irrationally disliked by our shared boss. Neither one of us who could figure out what the issues were and no sensible conversations revealed the truth. My co-worker was very good at her job, diligent, and expert in her work (non-profit event management) so we leaned in on jealousy or that the boss couldn’t have successful influence because she didn’t know anything about event management. It was worsened by my co-workers maternity leave in which so much happened without consulting her. We both left 6-months after this boss arrived. After we left they outsourced the work to a contractor and it’s been downhill since.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I have and so have quite a few colleagues over the years. When one of my former managers turned on me because I posted for another position in another division within the company (with her permission!), my best line of defense came from getting in good with her boss, the VP of our division, and his boss, the SVP. Because they thought I walked on water, they didn’t allow her sabotage to go unchecked – after I was promoted into another division, she was demoted a few months later.

      I would advise you to gain as many influential allies as possible in your company to shield you from any abuse.

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

        This is my experience as well…make friends with influential people outside of your immediate management. Their influence will counter the manager’s dislike and as a back up plan you might be able to transfer to another department if your job is threatened. Be good at your job and go above and beyond for others outside of your department in as visible a way as possible. But all of that work depends on how invested you are in staying. If this job isn’t ideal in most other ways, it’s time to put that energy in getting references and getting out.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Be good at your job and go above and beyond for others outside of your department in as visible a way as possible.

          I was very fortunate that I had been in a corporate trainee program prior to getting placed in the job with former manager. Because of the connections I made, when word got out that I was looking to leave my division and was considering leaving the company altogether, a division head swooped in and gave me a promotion and 10% salary bump to come work for his group. Then another division head approached that division head six months later and asked if he could talk to me about possibly coming to work for his division instead, lol. My former manager had run off so many employees over the years (these people quit or ended up fired) that people who knew her rep came to me and said I was lucky as hell to have the support system I had – she would have made it her mission to get me fired.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        There was a manager like this at an old employer of mine. Basically if you applied for another internal position you better hoped you got it because if you didn’t you life was HELL. A friend of mine got most of his accounts stripped from him and given to one of her sycophants who proceeded to royally screw it up. HE was blamed for the issues because manager trained K personally so there was no way she could have screwed it up. (Except that my friend’s account were all legacy accounts on a different system that K didn’t know and manager refused to allow friend to train K).

    4. Escaped a Work Cult*

      Two questions:
      1) Does this higher-up give feedback about your work?
      2) Does the job appeal in any way despite this?

      I’ve been the scapegoat before and even though I’ve pursued “cooperate to graduate” thinking, it inevitably drained me and took a toll on my mental health. I would seek another job and get out, though I understand that this may not happen due to the world at large.

      You have sympathies, it’s definitely not a fun position to be in.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      An old boss went from adoring me to making me public enemy number one within a few months.

      Sadly it depends on they’re over all influence. Mine was ownership and the ultimate power so I just packed up and bounced. But if you’ve got allies and others on your side, it should hopefully be easier to navigate.

      It’s a lot of keeping alert, watching every move you make and staying quietly working until there’s a way to get away from the hate. It’s not sustainable for long in my experience but it can be tolerable for awhile to get your ducks in a row.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yeah, in smaller companies where the boss is the owner, or there is family involved, there is little else to do but bounce. I worked in a 5 person company and the owner was a horror. You’re never gonna win in those scenarios.

      2. Hound Mom*

        I bet you were missed after you left. I always look for your comments as you are so thoughtful but realistic. It is hard to find that in the real world.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I wouldn’t say disliked, but as a woman in a male dominated field, I’ve run into people who cannot work with ladies. Their brains are just not capable of hearing women talk. They don’t have the capacity to accept a woman on a team. When I’ve ended up in these situations (manager left and was replaced with a new manager) I just had to learn to be quiet until I could find a new job. I suppose a few managers could be made aware and coached into respecting women, but life is too short to fight that battle every day.

      1. Ashely*

        This made my laugh because I have come across this way to often myself. I have been in meeting where I say something. The guy looks at me like I am crazy. Guy number 2 says the same thing I said and suddenly all is crystal clear. Thankfully Guy number 2 knew what was going on and it wasn’t him trying to take credit. It is completely exhausting working with men like this and equally exhausting dealing with managers who just don’t understand what you are up against and how sexism is a thing.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          The crazy look is the worst! I’m relieved that it happens to others and isn’t just me. It’s that and the dead silence that follows after I say something completely reasonable. You’d think I dropped the F-bomb with the blank stares when all I said was, “If we move the TPS query into the new system then it will auto run and we won’t have to manually process it every Thursday.” Then “guy” stares, speechless like a dog just walked into the room and started talking.
          I honestly, sometimes think that I am going crazy.

          1. Jen*

            I get the crazy look or they do the sarcastic/condescending “Uh, huh, really? You don’t say” as if I’m an idiot. I always laugh (internally) when they need computer help, because I want sooooo badly to rub it in their faces, but most have seniority.

            1. Sabine the Very Mean*

              I’m quick to unleash the “Oh dear what happened to your face?!” in a tone that indicates, “fix your F**king face, now” right in front of everyone. It has worked every time.

    7. Green Goose*

      Yes, with a C-Suite member and it was off-putting. But most people at that campany did like me, so I made a point to have very positive interactions with all the other C-Suite members. I also produced good work that people liked, and all the other people on that one person’s team worked well with me and we got along. I also, tried to have short, brief and pleasant interactions with the person who disliked me and I think it improved over the years.

      I’ve often wondered if I reminded her of someone she loathed because she seemed to strongly dislike me before I had the chance to do anything to make her feel that way. Good luck, I know it’s stressful.

      1. Annony*

        Currently going through this, but with a co-worker. Got along great for a number of years, but then a parent became ill and she and her siblings had to start working together for long term care and I started getting the cold shoulder/being invisible. Drove me nuts. Manager finally spoke to her and the response was that I “reminded her of the sister she hates”?!? It explained the timing of the behavior, but didn’t do a lot to solve the problem. However, learning there wasn’t anything I did, and it was out of my control was a relief. It’s a very wearing situation.

    8. Seal*

      Yes, several times at my first job out of college years ago. In every case it came down to jealousy and insecurity on the part of the people that were targeting me. I was very good at what I did, saw no reason to apologize for it, and had an time-consuming hobby outside of work that was my priority at the time. In other words, my life didn’t revolve around my job and that did not sit well with some people.

      I ultimately resolved the situation by making a plan to leave, which allowed me to quit on the spot after yet another attack on my character. Hugely satisfying. I stayed in the field and went on to bigger and better things. Even after all these years I still run into some of the people that bullied me at conferences and the like and they still won’t look me in the eye. Living well is truly the best revenge.

    9. YaGotMe*

      YES! The company I was just laid off from had two owners. Owner B was super cool and we got along very well. Owner A was a different story. I don’t know what it was that he didn’t like, but he didn’t like me. I presumed it was appearance based (I’m big, and he is a marathon runner (i.e. very thin)). It was the only thing I could think of since we rarely interacted (we all worked virtually, even before COVID).

      I knew it was bad when at a company retreat, we were treated to a 5 course meal at a Michelin star restaurant. I was told this owner picked it out. When I thanked him afterwards, he just grunted at me.

      Then a very large percentage of my department was laid off with myself included. They tried to say it was performance but I knew that wasn’t the case as there had never been a complaint and I had many documented compliments of my work (and multiple promotions). Owner B (the one I got along with) reached out and apologized, and is offering to help me find something. A client said they are trying to create a position for me as well but I signed a non-compete so I doubt I could take a job if they are able to create one.

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        You may be able to get owner B to waive the non-compete. A friend left a job with a non-compete to return to a new position with her previous employer. The two employers had worked together (The new/old employer was a client of the one my friend was leaving) and the two companies were able to negotiate waving the non-compete.

        1. YaGotMe*

          That’s a good idea and something I will have to look into if the client can create a role and everything works out. The company that laid me off is big into non-competes but doesn’t seem to enforce them. I know of people that quit and worked for similar companies and they didn’t enforce it. I read legally they are really hard to enforce because the courts never want to tell someone to stop working and it can look bad on the company for trying to enforce it.

          Plus they laid me off. I find it laughable that they would let me go with no notice and virtually no severance (a week) and then try to control where I work after the fact. I miss so many of my coworkers there dearly, but the upper management is pretty much dead-to-me.

          1. Alex*

            Yeah I question the legality of a non-compete in the instance of a layoff. “Hey, we don’t want you to work for us, but don’t work for anyone else either.”

            F that. I don’t think anyone would hold you to it.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        Size-ism is a very real thing and unfortunately not protected. People who are ultra-fit like Owner A can develop this unreasonable contempt of “big” people because fear of getting fat is really THEIR biggest deep-rooted fear.
        I’m sorry it happened to you. Know it’s not your issue, or your work, it was his. The fact that Owner B reached out and is recommending you to others proves this.

    10. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I have. I didn’t “win”; he successfully blocked me from transferring to the department that would use my skills and from advancing in the department I was temporarily employed in.

      Nothing improved until I left the company for a new opportunity.

    11. Okumura Haru*

      Unfortunately, yes.

      At my previous job, boss hated me, and the rest of the department that they managed. They went from being cordial to screaming. It, needless to say, was awful.

      (Said glassbowl boss left a little later – most likely after they saw the writing on the wall that the higher ups were going to pink slip them – and the new manager is at least 12 different kinds of awesome, so that story had a good ending.)

      As for recommendations? Actively work on job hunting and getting the heck out of there. In the meantime, hunker down, do the best work that you can, see if there’s a supervisor who can give you a good reference.

    12. RC Rascal*

      Yes. Boss was jealous because I was getting too much positive attention for my work. Here is my advice:

      Learn all of your companies policies backwards and forwards. Adhere to them strictly. The one who hates you will try to catch you breaking policies and use that to fire you. My boss tried to press ethics charges against me for sending an Excel spreadsheet to external partners. (It didn’t stick. )

      Research good employment lawyers today. You need to know who they are because it the one who hates you escalates you are going to need one.

    13. Toxic Waste*

      Yes- old awesome boss retired and was replaced with the devil. Nothing I did was right. She monitored my bathroom breaks, would literally hover over me while I was working to “work faster”, monitored my lunch breaks (Demanded the security guard tell her when I left and came back, which he wouldn’t), reduced me to tears in a meeting and said, “Finally! A reaction”, would tell me how she wanted to promote me and then said she wouldn’t, etc. It was awful. I left 6 months after she became my boss. A year later, she left the company after budget cuts. (They reduced her salary and she up and quit with no notice!)

      I was a high performer and she kept making comments about my degrees and how she didn’t have the education, but had experience. I don’t know if that was her reason for saying/doing things like that, who knows?

      Unfortunately I have no tips or advice. Document everything and if possible, find a new job.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I was a high performer and she kept making comments about my degrees and how she didn’t have the education, but had experience. I don’t know if that was her reason for saying/doing things like that, who knows?

        It probably was. My former manager was very defensive about not having a degree when everyone else on our team did, and she absolutely HATED a woman on our team with a masters. Now, this woman also wasn’t that great at her job either, but a lot of the digs former manager made at her were education-related.

    14. Everdene*

      Yes. And I’m sorry to say in the end the answer was that I left. This person ruined a great job for me but ultimately one of us had to go.

    15. Pascall*

      Yup. My previous supervisor, who was younger and touted a Master’s Degree over my measly Bachelor’s, constantly berated me, lied about things I said or did not say, and eventually forced me to quit because she was frustrated that a lot of our staff came to me for help instead of her. I spent 2 years building up rapport with the rest of our staff. She was in the job for 6 months and did nothing. This wasn’t the only issue that caused me to quit, but it was the biggest one.

      I would say bring it up to someone higher than that person (if you’ve already talked to the higher-up in question) to see if the issue can be resolved. Or, if your company is large enough, request a transfer to a different supervisor/manager.

    16. I feel this question in my soul*

      Oh yeah I’ve been there. The boss’s attitude towards me shaped my team’s attitude towards me so i was fighting on both fronts. Document EVERYTHING, even things you think no one would ever find important.
      I put up with it for a year & a half before breaking down to HR and revealing how I was being treated. HR was appalled. Things did improve a little but the damage was already done and the only thing that truly helped was leaving. I’m sorry that you are having to go through this.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      It could be the result of a comment or joke made in passing: “Watch out Higher Up, Anon for This is up and coming. They might end up with YOUR job!”

      My next idea is kind of woo-woo but I have seen it play out. So Person A acts awkward around Person B. Stuff happens and B realizes that A may not like them. So B discusses this with others OR unintentionally gets awkward around A. And the snowballing begins, as awkwardness feeds more awkwardness.
      In my story Boss decided that they did not know if my Coworker liked them or not. Interestingly Coworker was saying the same thing, “I don’t think Boss likes me.” And this went on for months. Both of them started having longer and longer conversations with me. I tried saying, “Just decide to like the other person and be done with it.” I tried saying, “Just focus on the work and do a good job with the work.” And I tried saying, “You two should talk to each other, talking to me does nothing.”
      The situation was all down hill from there. It ended up they decided to hate each other. And the only clear reason I could see for it was because each had decided that the other one did not like them.
      If this resonates on any level, then I would suggest stop talking about the problem. Shift your thoughts to “I wish him well” or other positive statements. I have heard of praying people who pray over situations like this, not an idea for everyone but some folks might appreciate the idea. What all the positive stuff does is ease one person’s awkwardness. Once the big boss sees this subordinate as interacting in a comfortable manner the boss might chill out also.

      I very much agree with spreading out and making connections with as many people as possible around you. Do good work for the sake of doing good work. Others around you will notice your sincere interest in doing a good and thorough job. They will carry that forward for you.

      Unfortunately the subordinate will have to take the lead to change the tone. This might mean finding out what general concerns the big boss has and putting effort into those concerns as a show of sincerity. If your immediate boss is a good boss, perhaps you can mention it to your immediate boss and ask what to do. No middle boss wants a big boss HATING their subordinate. This is not good.

      For your own peace of mind you might want to watch to see how your own boss gets along with this Big Boss. It could be that your own boss looooves you BUT Big Boss hates your boss. So you get the dislike by merely be associated with your boss. Here, a good action step to take is to make sure you are treating people the same. Treat the big boss with the same level of generous thinking/doing that you give your own boss.

      Last thought. I worked with a woman one time that I could not have even a basic conversation with. And it was because we were two very, very different people. We tried having breaks together and the conversation was a disaster. And here’s the BUT. We worked great together. The two of us could do the work of four people. We were just in sync when it came to doing the job. Sometimes two very different people can find the common ground in their work. And that is enough because they both realize that the other one has to eat and pay rent also. Doing a good job will carry you through a lot of situations.

    18. NW Mossy*

      I actually have a success story on this!

      A few years back, I was locking horns with another manager, Fergus. He’d been my boss in a previous stint in the department, but when I returned, we were peers. At first we got on great, but he rapidly soured on me when he realized that I didn’t share his view that clients should always get what they want, regardless of the costs/risks associated with that.

      This in itself is a pretty typical client-facing/back-office dynamic, but Fergus reported to Lucinda and apparently shared with her that I was hard to work with, not helpful, and so on. Lucinda was and is very influential in our organization, and she soon adopted the same view of me.

      Thankfully, my boss was able to connect the dots between what she was hearing from Lucinda and what I was saying about Fergus to realize what was happening. On my boss’s advice, I started looking for opportunities to work and interact directly with Lucinda so that she could see for herself rather than get her knowledge of me through Fergus. It definitely felt stilted and weird because I was (in my mind, at least) going out of my way to agree with her on basically everything, but it totally worked. Soon, she was sold on me and we’ve gotten on very well since.

      The irony is that after a few years in the wilderness, Fergus is back in the department as Lucinda’s peer. The last two people to hold his current role both scarpered within a couple of years, because they were both sharp enough to realize that the role itself is actually kind of awful and it’s really only worth taking to try to springboard to something else. I’ll be interested to see what he does with it, because based on what I know of him, it won’t play to his strengths.

    19. The Rural Juror*

      YES, but luckily it was a temporary position. It was summer break during college and I got a full-time, temporary position as a filing clerk for an abstract company (mostly deals with land ownership, title, real estate, etc). The manager of that small office openly despised anyone who was younger than her. She had been there for years and years and had recently been made the head manger when someone else retired. I was one of four people working there who were under 30. The office demographics were 80% female and 20% male, all of us “youngsters” were women. She treated us all like dirt, and she made me feel very uncomfortable. There was one particularly egregious event where she cornered me in a file room and wouldn’t let me leave! I guess she thought there would be no ramifications because I was leaving at the end of the summer. She was wrong!

      The four of us went to lunch one day, commiserated about how awful it was to work for someone like that, then when we went back to work, two of them quit that day. I left two weeks ahead of my scheduled departure. One of us stayed, but she ended up quitting about three months later. This was 2006, so finding a new job was pretty easy back then.

      So, that manager lost three employees within a week and another one shortly after. Two more people were retiring at the end of the year, so they became EXTREMELY short-staffed. I don’t honestly know how much it affected the business since I moved on and went back to school, but I do know it felt good to stand up for ourselves as a group and support each other. If it hadn’t been for those women quitting, I wouldn’t have felt the power to be able to do so as well. I probably would have thought I needed to suffer through another couple of weeks of abuse. There’s a lot to be said for supporting your coworkers!

    20. Beth*

      Hell yes: there are a lot of small people who can’t stand women with brains, and it doesn’t matter what you do to try to ameliorate it. Irrational is irrational. I never found any way of “successfully resolving” it, except by taking myself elsewhere.

      Sorry I don’t have anything better to offer. I will say that the ability to walk away from a no-win situation is a skill that it took me a long time to develop. (The freedom to do so was a whole ‘nother long-term project.)

    21. Tess*

      Not by a boss but a nefarious coworker who was very much in the ear of management. To this day I’m not sure what she had against me. All I can suggest is try to keep a positive attitude, keep excellent records, and stay on top of your work. She was unable to get me fired, but she did make my job miserable enough for me to seek greener pastures. Hang in there. I know it’s incredibly draining and frustrating when you’re being targeted.

    22. MissDisplaced*

      I have a few times, but it was mostly mutual. I admit I wasn’t always the easiest employee, but I never got that way until the usually new manager began trying to “assert their au-thor-i-tah” type shenanigans. I have seen it other places while not being singled out myself.

      I honestly think a lot of times it is caused by an insecure manager who feels threatened or undermined because they have a direct report who is really good at their job.

    23. lemon*

      Yes, unfortunately. My situation ended with An Incident that necessitated that one other co-worker and I file an HR report against that higher-up. HR denied my co-worker’s transfer request and forced them to quit. I inherited the huge project they were working on, so I wrapped that up and quickly found a new job.

      I’m not sure there was much I could do in that situation, because the whole company was toxic and my manager not liking me was just a very small manifestation of that. In hindsight, I wish I had found a new job before things reached that breaking point. I stuck around as long as I did because I thought that I could somehow change my manager and win them over. If I’d left sooner, I might have been able to count on them for at least a lukewarm reference, but now I don’t even have that.

      So, in terms of tips, I’d say keep in mind that there’s only so much that you can do to try to win someone over. If you’ve already made a good effort to improve the relationship, that’s all you can do. Some people are just never going to like you, and it’s not about you– it’s on them. From there, all you can do is decide if their dislike is going to hold you back in your career. If so, it might be time to look for a new opportunity. If not, you just have to accept the fact that they’re irrational and a cold truce might be the best you can achieve. If you’re able, try to build relationships with other folks at your org who can advocate for you and develop a great reputation for yourself so it makes it clear to everyone else with that the problem isn’t you, it’s just that one higher-up. (Of course, I don’t know the specifics of your situation so… huge grain of salt.)

    24. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Yes, the only thing to do is leave. Because no matter how many of your coworkers and your boss’s coworkers get to know you and think, “Well, anon for this is just a delight, such a kind person and wonderful worker, should definitely be promoted!” it’s not going to undo the fact that your higher up will torpedo your every attempt at advancement.

    25. Uranus Wars*

      Yes, I have. And they were able to turn some staff against for awhile. They were not my direct manager and I didn’t have a line to them, but they were the only Director at our office and the higest on the totem pole. Definitely had the companies ear and was held in high regard. They even told the CEO some things that got me pulled into a conference room. Long story, not all the things were true – some were, some were blown up, some were straight up lies. I said my peace and left the room.

      I was able to turn it around, but it took a lot of discomfort and self-control. And some crying on the way home.

      I did actively look for jobs (but this was 2007-8ish when jobs were just hard to find) but I also basically acted like nothing was going on. I asked for their input as if there was nothing going on for projects we needed to collaborate on, I treated everyone professionally, I didn’t let them get a rise out of me when they would make snarky comments, I was also damn good at my job. I repeat: it was HARD

      I eventually got an unprompted apology from the director and from some of the staff. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, though and I am sorry you are going through this.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That sounds familiar. In my situation it’s a manager (and his boss) who were instrumental in putting me in a position to be laid off several years ago for reasons unrelated to my performance, skills, or attitude (but potentially related to my gender and status as a transfer, not a direct hire, meaning they didn’t get to reject me at the time). I had people who advocated for me and made it clear that laying me off was a bad call, but they did it anyway. I can tell you, it totally sucks to have 98 people think you’re awesome and 2 people who don’t, and those 2 people get to decide your fate.

        I was rehired a year later to another group, but unfortunately because of corporate structure, those two people are still in a position to affect my continued employment and career trajectory. They pulled the same garbage last year, to the point where my then direct manager first basically accused me of tricking her with my excellent performance. I realized that she was so caught off guard walking into an employment retention meeting with her star employee’s record and hearing about how nope, I wasn’t that great and compared to *their* team I should be ranked at the bottom, again. I explained what I could about the history and she later actually asked me if there had been a specific falling out with those managers to explain their apparent disdain for me. So I was also able to turn it around but yeah, not without breaking down later.

        Luckily my then manager and my current manager (both female) became big supporters of mine, and my current manager is positioning me to be as indispensable as possible so I won’t be at risk of layoffs again.
        So I have put all my efforts into continuing a glowing track record, increasing my visibility and solid relationships with many people in seniority, and will absolutely bring this to my union if those guys continue to interfere with my career. I really like my job and my current management chain, so I’ll fight for it before I let those guys win.

    26. Anon for this*

      Thank you all for kind responses! It makes me feel validated to know I’m not alone.

      To clarify, this is mostly about a past experience in my current organization. I was subsequently able to switch departments which has made my work life much easier, though some of the awkwardness and discomfort remains.

      What happened in my case is that two higher ups seemed to have an irrational dislike of me — my boss who I’ll call Lucinda (who worked in a separate office several miles away, and who interacted a lot less with me than her other direct reports who were based in her office), and another higher up who I’ll call Mimette who was on the same level as my boss but had no direct authority over me. Strangely, I don’t think Lucinda and Mimette know each other well, but I worked in a large department with several hundred people, and I had good rapport with the vast majority of them.

      Basically I think Lucinda disliked me from the moment I was hired (at my organization, I know she wasn’t the principal decision maker in the hiring decision). I had excellent feedback from most everyone I directly worked with, but at my biannual one-on-ones the feedback would somehow take on a negative tone with spurious, unsourced allegations of how I wasn’t doing well. When I asked for clarifying information, there was never any. I felt like I was being gaslit. Nonetheless, I persisted, going so far as to solicit feedback from people I worked with regularly to see if there were any ways they thought I could improve.

      Enter Mimette, who I was assigned to work with along with several other higher ups on a project that lasted several months. She also seemed to instantly dislike me the moment she met me, but I tried my best to be exceedingly professional and kind with her. She proceeded to create roadblocks in the project we were working on together and tell her colleagues I was the problem. I remember one time I was discussing an issue with one of Mimette’s colleagues in their office, and Mimette happened to walk by, so the colleague called Mimette over to get her take on the issue. The next day I somehow got reprimanded and written up for bothering Mimette and pulling her into an issue that wasn’t her problem – wtf?

      Apparently these issues with Mimette got escalated to my boss Lucinda, who put me on a PIP. I had plenty of documentation refuting the false accusations and misrepresentations made against me, but my Lucinda didn’t believe me or my documentation. I was told I had no recourse to appeal whatsoever (only to find out after the fact that it wasn’t true).

      Happily for me, Lucinda stepped down shortly after I got put on the PIP, and my new boss was a bit more reasonable and took me off the PIP shortly afterwards. Then I was able to switch departments. I have good relationships with some of the C-suite folks so that has helped as well. But overall this experience has irrevocably soured my relationship with the organization as a whole, and I’m actively job searching (and planning a career pivot).

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Basically I think Lucinda disliked me from the moment I was hired (at my organization, I know she wasn’t the principal decision maker in the hiring decision).

        This was probably Lucinda’s issue with you in a nutshell. She had a different person in mind for the role, she was most likely overruled by someone higher up, and she took it out on you that you weren’t her pick.

        As to your last point, I ended up doing the same thing almost two years after my drama (leaving the company and pivoting in my career) – I couldn’t be happier.

        1. Anon for this*

          That’s a really astute observation! I think that must have been the case. I had a day-long interview for this role and interviewed with probably ten or so people, including Lucinda. I remember thinking after my interview that Lucinda seemed a bit cold and distant to me, but everyone else, including those I’d be working more closely with, seemed very friendly and warm. (Lucinda had a very different background than me — she was appointed to be my boss for reasons of organizational precedent, even though we would not be working together in my role. I basically saw Lucinda 2-3 times per year.)

    27. Alli525*

      Yes, twice – first, a coworker took issue with me for reasons that are still a mystery, and her boss (with whom I interacted maaaaybe once a week and that was only social – never work-related) therefore decided she didn’t like me either. This was at an education nonprofit and the boss had been a teacher, which I know can be a cliquey profession. This was my first job out of college and it was very distressing, but I had a fantastic boss who told me I should just stop trying to be friendly, button up and ignore her. Our work very rarely overlapped, so once I started avoiding Coworker, I dropped off her boss’s radar. I also suspect my boss may have spoken to Coworker’s boss, but I have no proof of that.

      Also, in a much worse example from my last job (admin in finance, already a cutthroat field), the CEO hired a new lead analyst (“A”) and assigned me to his team because I was already supporting another analyst “B” in a similar field. “A” had no respect for how the company’s processes worked, and got very angry at me when I insisted that we follow those processes lest we run afoul of regulations or announce something too early and later piss off our clients when it fell through. He took me out for drinks one day and asked me (who’d been there a few years) what other analysts at our company were doing that helped make them successful. “A” then took my comments straight to the CEO and framed it as “this is what she said I was doing wrong.”

      Fortunately, the CEO and I were fairly close, so (he told me later) he thought to himself “that doesn’t sound like her,” but still gave me a warning and didn’t give me as big of a raise and bonus as I should’ve gotten that year. He eventually ended up reassigning me to another analyst “C” with a major warning (“this is your second strike, screw up again and we’ll have to let you go”). It became very clear that my work with “B” and “C” was unimpeachable, and when “A” burned out and quit in spectacular fashion a couple years (and at least 3 admins hired and fired later) my CEO just nodded at me when I told him “look, I hate to say I told you so, but…”

      So as far as advice? Cultivate relationships outside of your toxic person, with people higher up than them if you can manage it. Do good work with other people (peers or higher-ups) and you’ll build a reputation that serves you well when you run into toxic people.

      1. New Senior Mgr*

        CEO’s response wasn’t that great IMO. His actions were not supportive of you at all. I would be on the lookout for better.

    28. MediumEd*

      Yes, our former Provost was like this with many of my colleagues, including myself. This person was ultimately fired, but my suggestion to to document, document, document any odd behavior and stick to your work. No one can argue with you when you perform above and beyond, quality speaks for itself.

    29. Jane*

      Yes, I somewhat in this situation now.

      Unfortunately, one of my weaknesses at work is that healthy working relationships are essential to my ability to perform – I have a disability that is very easy for me to work around with some very subtle accommodations that I generally am able to get without even mentioning disability, and completely impossible to work with if I can’t get them.

      So a good working relationship with my boss is a requirement, and without it I rapidly lose investment in the job and move on. I can’t, or won’t, fight for the basics that make a job work, and I’ve been lucky to be able to pivot and leave the two times this has happened.

      I had an interview today, and immediately got a phone call asking for my references, so there is that.

    30. Choggy*

      Been there, done that, for doing my job well and being well-liked within the organization. I could only chalk it up to them feeling threatened in some way, though I had always made it so obvious I never wanted their job (or to be a manager ever). This person actually messed with my confidence as I did not feel comfortable speaking up about issues, or bring suggestions to the table as I previously had. We were very alike in some ways, but very different in others, and they even asked me, when they started why I hated them so much. Um, what? Oh, they also treated their team like children, some of the meetings we had were incredibly uncomfortable with them saying to us, “Look at me and nod your head you understand what I’m saying.” Yeah, they should not have been a manager of anything but school children. Glad they moved on!

    31. Skippy*

      In my last job I got a new boss about a year after I started at the company. He absolutely loathed everything I did, and he tried desperately to get rid of me: he tried (and failed) to find a reason to fire me for cause, then he tried (and failed) to bully me into quitting, and then finally he just used the pandemic as an excuse to eliminate my position.

      If the person in question is your boss, you will likely never win. My best advice is to find something new as soon you possibly can.

  2. Diahann Carroll*

    Calling all technical writers! I need homework help for my graduate technical writing course. I just started this week (yay!), and I have to come up with a portfolio project idea by Wednesday (eek!). The only parameters for the project were that it had to be something I could finish in 10 weeks and it had to be on a topic that interests me. We can choose whatever mode of communication we want (e.g., how-to guide, proposal, white paper, spec sheet, instruction manual), but I just don’t know what’s realistic for 10 weeks. I also don’t really know if any of my interests are technical enough to qualify as a technical writing assignment.

    Here are my interests:

    * I love the symphony and classical music. I don’t play any instruments, though, so I couldn’t do something like write a how-to guide. I was thinking that I could do something COVID-related since my city’s symphony season just began last weekend, and all performances through the fall and early winter are virtual (the musicians are the only ones allowed in the hall and the orchestra was pared down a lot so they could socially distance onstage) – but while I find this setup fascinating (and the show was excellent given the unique circumstances), I don’t know what the angle would be or what type of communication I would undertake. Would it be a report? Would it be a white paper focusing on the virus, how it’s spread, and the precautions the orchestra is taking? I don’t know.

    * I love fashion. One day I’d like to be a brand manager for one of my favorite designers, but I’m drawing a blank on what I would do with this. Then there’s the whole not being able to use actual brands in something that’s supposed to be my own personal portfolio.

    * I used to write and publish ebooks independently. I could potentially write a how-to guide or instruction manual advising indie authors on how to format and publish an ebook on Kindle, but there’s already a guide out there for that.

    Then I considered doing a proposal because I have to develop content for a proposal template in my day job within the next few months, but is that ethical? I mean, if I used a work project for school, of course I’d have to change it up and genericize it so that it doesn’t mention my company or our software. And I think I could get something decent done by December. Are there any other pitfalls I need to think about if I go down this route?

    1. Tech Writer*

      My gut instinct in reading your ideas is that your scope is way too broad.

      I write instructions and white papers for things like “20-foot and Larger Spaceships when used in Borg Systems”. Your ideas are along the level of “Spaceships”.

        1. Tech Writer*

          I’d drill down to the level of “how to clean a clarinet” or “how to hem slacks for this tricky brand that uses a weird overlock stitch”, to use examples from your interests.

          1. Tech Writer*

            Also, you may find it more valuable to choose a topic that you DON’T know about, but that a friend or family member does know about. That will more accurately represent a technical writing dynamic: you extract the information from the SME in order to create the document.

            I’ve never had the luxury of being an expert on a company’s products when I began working there; each new job is like starting over.

          2. BethDH*

            Anyone have advice on learning to track your time and methods for doing so?
            I’m in a role where I don’t need to do this for anyone but myself, but I’m shifting from a situation where much of my time is spent on responding to needs to one where I’ll be setting more projects and priorities. It’s a gradual shift so I have time to collect some data but I don’t know what is effective to track and I feel like I’m spending too much time tracking things that don’t help me predict the timing of other projects.

                1. BethDH*

                  That explains why reading that thread is what reminded me that I had been wanting to post that question.

          3. Diahann Carroll*

            “how to hem slacks for this tricky brand that uses a weird overlock stitch”

            This framing is very helpful – I think I may be able to do something with this.

          4. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A co-worker’s class project was a guide for laying vinyl tile in a pattern. He built in stretch goals in case it went faster than he expected– trickery patterns, calculations for how much of each color to buy, etc.

    2. Reba*

      Maybe some more specific things relating to the present moment and your interests…

      For orchestras and other performing arts orgs, I keep getting emails about special screenings that are “one-time, non-precedent setting” etc. etc. etc. with reference to the largely unionized professions involved. So maybe something to do with navigating the employment landscape as the angle (rather than performances per se).

      For fashion, what are you interested in? What about labor, the payment structures and ways brands are reneging on contracts with manufacturers, and what rights if any the manufacturers and sewers can exercise? This is admittedly pretty hard to research.
      A somewhat happier idea would be something about new developments in textile science, trying to suss out what are the real new directions in sustainability and what is greenwashing, and implications for garment design and marketing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        A somewhat happier idea would be something about new developments in textile science, trying to suss out what are the real new directions in sustainability and what is greenwashing, and implications for garment design and marketing.

        Oooohhhh, I like this. I’ll play around with this idea in my head and see what I can do with it. This may make for a good report.

        1. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

          Poke around on the website for NC STate University, College of Textiles, for some ideas and trends. See what kind of research is being done, etc. Will also give you some experts to interview, if you want to go that way at some point this semester.

          Use the librarians at your school to help w researching possible ideas, figuring out questions to ask, etc.

      2. 2QS*

        Oh, this is interesting! I’m in Canada and have been getting a whole bunch of online ads encouraging me to buy hemp clothes because the production of hemp supposedly uses much less water than other natural fibres. I had the sense that as of a few years ago, anyway, hemp fibre (fabric and yarn) was illegal in the U.S. given the overlap with marijuana. I’d be curious to know whether that’s changing and if so how.

    3. Mockingjay*

      The how-to guide for indie authors is probably your easiest option, but wouldn’t make you stand out.

      Proposals can take a lot of time since you have to address many different things: the problem statement, the solution, how it’s funded and resourced, how it would be executed. A proposal would be an excellent item in your portfolio but only if researched thoroughly, which might be tight given your deadline. (As a federal contractor tech writer, I do A LOT of proposals and am actually training junior writers on my team on how to do them – it’s a very in-demand skill).

      Symphony white paper – white papers (in my industry) are short, concise examinations of a single problem with possible solutions outlined. Since these are informative only, we do not provide any recommendations. A report would be a better format. However, keep your scope tight. Will you focus on the virus, its spread, and precautions (generic), or the orchestra itself – facility, personnel, effects on public and community? The report point of view should be unique.

      Good luck, and let us know what you decide!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Will you focus on the virus, its spread, and precautions (generic), or the orchestra itself – facility, personnel, effects on public and community? The report point of view should be unique.

        Yeah, I was originally thinking of doing something focusing on the latter and how Covid has impacted these areas, but that’s too broad and I’m not sure I have the mental bandwidth to narrow the scope for this. I wish I didn’t have until Wednesday to figure this out! I feel like I’m freezing here and my mind has gone on vacation.

    4. Liminally Maple*

      I used to work on the setup/teardown crew for university music department concerts. Getting the orchestra set up with the right combination of chairs and stands in the correct places is a task that required significant explanation and description. If you know enough about it, that might be a topic.

    5. Also a tech writer*

      I agree about narrowing your scope. The ebook idea would be the easiest, but it’d also feel like you were reinventing the wheel. Is there something in fashion that you could hone in on? Something with mocking up
      a design/brand in a particular software program? Any time you can write about how to accomplish a specific task in a piece of software is gold for tech writing. Another way to limit scope is to think in terms of time frame. If someone had an afternoon (just to pick a random time frame) to design a brand logo, set up their at-home music studio for a virtual concert, or set up a COVID safe performance area, what steps would they take?

    6. Bex*

      My experience could be different since I was doing an MBA, but both my company and my school were completely comfortable with us using real-life work examples for school projects.

    7. tray table upright*

      An idea from the music side, many of them are moving towards live streams, you could do a how-to on one of the associated topics (technical needs, equipment needs, audio/video recording, broadcasting, promotion, etc). Promotion of live streams/virtual interfacing with audiences would be especially interesting, I think!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Oh, this is also interesting too! I’m a little concerned about the time constraints for this one – I would need a subject matter expert to explain how to do this, and if I can’t get people from my local symphony to sit down with me for a virtual interview, I’d be up a creek because I now only have about 10 more weeks to get a completed project. But I’ll think on this some more and see if there’s an angle here I’m not yet considering.

    8. L*

      (A bit off-topic but Justine Leconte has a lot of interesting YouTube videos about fashion and the industry including some about the corona virus and fast fashion. Might be interesting to you whether you end in the fashion industry or not. Good luck with your course!)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Thank you! I’ll check the videos out – some of the info may be helpful if I go with the idea above from Reba.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      I’ll add in another recommendation for writing about something you know nothing about. One of my most favorite experiences at my current job was following the head of the Weld Shop around for three days with a notepad and a camera. Dude had done the same job for 40 (!) years and was getting ready to retire. My job was to capture all the nuances of construction that weren’t on the design documents. I knew -nothing- about welding, but I learned. Do you have someone in your covid bubble who does stuff you don’t understand? Even if it’s something like “how to change your car’s oil by yourself” it’s a step toward getting info out of a SME rather than going with what you know.

      Good luck!

      1. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

        That sounds like a fascinating project to work on and to read!

        I write about installing network hardware and we try to go on site to watch them do it because someone will say “here’s the way I like to secure the foithboinder to the framajab” and show us their special kind of knot. If they just wrote up a spec, they’d simply say “attach the foithboinder…” without those details. And pictures make it even better. Our users LOVE photos.

    10. Lazycat*

      I’m late to the thread but in case you are still looking for ideas, I’d suggest something along the lines of an internal user guide for zoom/WebEx/virtual platform.

      I work in events and, oh boy, I’ve had to do a lot of training with staff on how to use Zoom. While there are guides available from zoom most orgs are developing their own in house based on licence. Some things that have come up that I’ve had to make my own guide for (not a tech writer or a zoom user):

      – difference between meetings and webinar
      – for meetings: how to set up profile, book meeting, install outlook plugin, cancel meeting, how to add cohost, how to make someone else the host, how to use break out rooms, how to mute and turn off participant video, how to remove someone from meeting, how to disable chat, how to share screen, how to share screen and sound, how to pin a speaker, how to change speaker view, how to record, etc. Etc. Etc.

      It is really endless depending on the type of meeting/event you are having and your internal policies. This would be a very good project to highlight your skills in covid times.

    11. TKR*

      Hello technical writer!
      One thing that could work might be an overview of the process of writing and publishing an ebook, or even authoring a document in a particular software, and then exporting it.
      Using a work project for school isn’t just ethical, it is smart!If you go that route, be sure to give your work a heads-up, and be prepared to put in additional work to make it a good portfolio piece for school. That might be additional formatting, additional context or user research included, or even finding additional outside citations. Maybe even get some extra feedback from people within your company. Of course, this is all contingent on your company giving you the OK. If they OK it, then you shouldn’t have to generalize things to remove company information.
      The point of your portfolio is to show your experience and give samples of your writing. If you can have something in there that is a piece showing what you do at your workplace and what you’ve worked on in school I think that would be really good!
      It was a good idea to have this overlap when I was in my undergrad, so I’m assuming it is also a good thing on the graduate level.

  3. Ageism for Women in Tech*

    I’m an early-40s woman in tech, so ageism affects how I format my resume.

    I have been leaving off the dates of my degrees, but including rounded years of employment (this does not look odd because “experience” and “education” are grouped separately). For the moment, leaving off the oldest job in my field gives a date range and total experience sum that seems to put me in my later 30s.

    A friend pointed out that leaving dates off my degrees might actually be hurting me: my BS was completed in the late 90s, but my MS was completed in 2019, and recent education is more valued in tech. I see her point, but I don’t see a way to date my new MS without also dating my old BS.

    Is it worthwhile to date the recent grad degree, or would the advantage/disadvantage cancel each other out?

    Input from other women in tech would be especially appreciated.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Could you leave the dates off both on your résumé but then mention in your cover letter that you recently completed your MS in 2019?

    2. Lady Meyneth*

      This is heavily location dependent, I guess, and I’m not in the US.

      Where I live, ageism is unfortunately a big problem, so honestly I’d leave it out. You can expand on your MS during interview and include how recent it is. But if you never get an interview because of ageism, those dates won’t matter at all.

    3. Asymmetrical Warfare*

      I’m 46 and if today people think that obtaining a BA/BS or MA/MS at specific times in one’s life is reality they’re not living the truth. I earned my BA when I was 26, 4 yrs later than what one would think would be typical right? I earned my MA at 35. SO I only date my most recent degree to show that I’m continuously learning and I date my certificates etc to show the same. So I would list my MPA as 2009 and my non-profits certs in their most recent timeline.

      Put your MS on with the 2019 showing that you 1) pursued and completed the degree and 2) you did it with a whole bunch of other things going on in life = commitment and self-improvement. You can’t earn a MA without a BA (in general terms) so knowing when the BA was earned is irrelevant.

    4. irene adler*

      The cover letter idea is good!

      Why can you leave off the date of the BS and include the date of the recently earned MS?
      I do that with various certifications and degrees.

      Also, they will flat-out ask about the year of graduation for the BS -if it is important to them.

      1. MissGirl*

        I agree. I have ten years between degrees and I don’t think it’s weird to include the MS date and not the BS.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’m also in my 40’s and I honestly haven’t worried about ageism. As long as your skills are up to date then you are very marketable. There are so many companies that want experienced techs! You are so valuable! The recruiters I talked to have enough fresh-out-of-college techs and they need to buff out their teams with experienced techs that know how to communicate, manage a workflow, and keep deadlines.

      1. 9to4ever*

        Same. I’m 46, my degrees are listed as 1996 and 1999, and I’ve not been affected by ageism that I can detect–meaning, I have not had issues finding employment or been treated differently.

      2. April Ludgate*

        I am almost 40, was curious about other’s experience with ageism in tech, has not been an issue for me. In fact recruiters seem to be looking for experience.

    6. Brett*

      Just leave off your BS altogether. I see this a lot on tech resumes, because so many people have bachelor’s degrees that are unrelated to their tech field. On my team of 50+ software developers, the only person with a technical degree for undergrad has an EE degree.

      1. The Assistant*

        This is also what I would do. If I saw a very recent MS in a related field and other compelling items, I don’t know that I’d even register the Bachelor’s.

      2. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        That’s what I would do, especially if the MA is more relevant to the position.

      3. Anax*

        Agreed. Software developer here, and most applications I’ve seen are looking for the highest level of employment, not the BS specifically.

        (Honestly… I *did* do a bachelor’s in computer science, and it really taught me almost nothing relevant, the curriculum was stuck in the 1960s and 1970s. Which is a whole ‘nother issue, and one I suspect a lot of folks in tech are quite aware of, since we all know people with impressive-sounding credentials who turned out to be totally incompetent…)

    7. Kara S*

      In the profile section of your resume, could you include a line that says you’re looking for X job opportunities after completing your MS last year? I am another vote for also mentioning it in the cover letter.

  4. Yikes!*

    This more to vent my frustration. I work in a building that is really tight on space. Tight enough that all our executives have offered to move to smaller offices to make more workable space for the staff. Our business has wildly expanded prior to COVID. Even during the world lockdown we were able to continue business at 85%. To all of our executives this 85% is still viewed as an increase due to how much our company has grown over the year. However to err on the side of caution and with so many people working from home, we are staying put in our current location until we are in post COVID mode and can see if industry trends continue in the same pace.
    Now my vent…. Our conference rooms have become prime real estate. I am so ticked off by lack of consideration by some people in our building.

    The backstory….Despite these conference rooms being large we are capped at 3-5 people in the room in order to social distance. We were using these conference rooms as temporary offices as well. Anyone using it as an office area has a laptop and can easily access physical files – they are using these conference rooms to practice social distancing due to more than one person being in their regular office. So these office workers can easily get up and move if the conference room is needed. We joke that everyone in the building should use a tracking device since we’re all playing musical chairs to practice social distancing (again it’s a joke, no one is tracking anyone’s phone or computer).

    Some examples…..One group booked the conference room. Apparently 15 minutes before their slotted time the office workers were in other areas of their building. Said group just walked in and started their meeting early locking office staff out for 2 hours. The office staff was told you weren’t here, you knew we were coming you will have to wait to get your laptops. Thank goodness our laptops lock after seconds of no activity but still. Funny thing is this group was actually in the wrong conference room. No apologies were made; the group shrugged their shoulders and said Oops.

    Another meeting – one group (group A) booked a conference room until 1:15pm; another group (group B) booked the same conference room at 1:30. Group B showed up at 12:45 to set up for their meeting and were ticked off that Group A was still there.

    This just all seems like common sense to me – check the schedule, make sure you are where you’re supposed to be, schedule before and after time if you need to set things up…. I’m just flabbergasted at the lack of empathy and good judgement.

    After reading all of this, if anyone cares, upper management and our office coordinator is on top of making sure everyone understands how this is all working. In addition I believe the few repeat offenders were spoken to about how the world doesn’t revolve around their needs, etc. Overall everyone has been accommodating to the tight spaces, I’m just shocked at some people’s behavior.

    1. Threeve*

      I’ve noticed that there are people–otherwise, reasonable and unselfish–who get very weird and possessive about physical space.

      I always wonder if there’s just some kind of territoriality baked into our lizard brains that manifests differently in different people.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Locking people out so they could not access their laptops seems extremely inappropriate – so they effectively lost the company 2 hours worth of productivity for each of those individuals, because they showed up early?

      We have a rule that there needs to be a minimum of 30 minutes between bookings of our meeting room, to allow time for everything to be wiped down and to allow the room to air out, and to leave a bit of wiggle room for meetings which overrun

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, the group meeting in the room couldn’t pause for 2 minutes to let people scoot in, grab their laptops and scoot out?

        That sounds very weirdly possessive, but people can be like that.

    3. Kes*

      Yeah, that sounds really frustrating. In today’s world we really need more consideration from others, not less.
      Also, what kind of meeting needs 45 minutes of setup? That’s pretty much just another meeting (pre-meeting meeting)

    4. Snark no more!*

      When we were on site, I regularly booted people out of conference rooms. If you didn’t schedule it, it’s not yours and these people need the room. And then I would ask if they wanted help scheduling a room.

      I think I did that for a month -every time, and now everyone knows how to schedule the rooms. I’ll have to do it all over again if we ever get back on site!
      IDK if you have people outside the company doing this.

  5. Yes, I would like cheese with this whine*

    Make it make sense: while the whole country was shut down and isolating, my boss decided to take over a newly vacant suite in our office building. So our little group of 10 has been split in half, now occupying two nearly brand new office spaces in the same building…………. but both spaces are now half empty. A good portion the time, I’m literally alone in this new suite while my colleagues are traveling or WFH because of childcare issues (but no, staff can’t WFH– my kid comes into the office several times a week instead :-|).
    I’m bracing myself for when the end of year bonuses come up and we hear all about the hard year we’ve had despite opening two new offices around the country, taking on more space in our own building, and hiring a number of new people throughout the year, well into lockdown and afterwards. And yet every time my boss talks with us about how we’re doing, it’s a sob story and we should just be really thankful no one’s been fired.

    1. tyrannosaurus vex*

      I gotta be honest, I’m not sure I see the problem here. They don’t want you to work from home so they took over another space so everyone could spread out. Plus, you can bring your kid in. If they’re going to make you come in this sounds like a pretty good setup.

      1. Yes, I would like cheese with this whine*

        Seems like the childcare thing distracted from what I was saying. They did not take over another space for the purpose of spreading out, but in order to expand and hire more people.
        My issue is this: it’s hard to keep hearing that we’re doing really badly as a business and just barely skating by when they’ve hired multiple people and opened multiple new offices throughout the pandemic. If a business is barely skating by I’d expect them to tighten up their practice, not expand it. This feels like a setup to short us on bonuses.

        1. RandomPoster*

          Would you rather them lay off these new hires so that you can get a bonus? I’m not sure what you think can happen here.

          Breaking a lease isn’t an easy thing.

          1. Yes, I would like cheese with this whine*

            This is a *new* lease taking on more space when we already weren’t filling the old one and when, given the pandemic, it makes a lot more sense to be working remotely.

        2. Nikki*

          I’m a bit confused as well. I’m sure there were business goals they’re trying to accomplish by hiring new people. Maybe these new employees will even allow them to take on additional projects, which will bring in more revenue and make the company more stable. It would be weird of them to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring new staff just so they could avoid paying a few thousand in bonuses to each employee.

          1. RandomPoster*

            Agreed. Sure, they probably made some poor decisions with hindsight into how things have gone, and they made a gamble that didn’t pay off. But I wouldn’t take it as a personal affront.

        3. Des*

          I’d say if they want to short you on bonuses they will do it anyway, without having to be covert about it like by hiring new people. My guess is they’re hoping to turn things around by hiring more people to maybe take on projects they had to pass on before. Who knows! Find out what these people are being hired to work on: new projects, existing projects, etc?

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      It makes sense why your boss would take over the other suite – given the situation it may have been available at a really good rate, and if there were expansion plans pre-covid, then they’re probably getting a good deal.

      But yes, if you get the sense that they’re going to nickel and dime you or just eliminate the bonuses entirely while crying poor, it’s logical that you would wonder why they’re hiring so many new folks, expanding offices, etc.

  6. Potatoes gonna potate*

    advice on taking a step back/step down in their career while remaining in the field?

    In my previous job I worked my way up from entry level to management over 5 years. After that job I sought out senior roles. Now I don’t know what to do.

    Im really embarrassed about it but I was let go earlier this week and one of the reasons was that my output didn’t match my resume and experience. It made me feel really embarrassed and ashamed of myself. 

    I didn’t lie on my resume and I was honest in my interview about the type of work and clients I had experience with. When asked about something specific, I made sure to say I was familiar with it but little experience. I was again clear about it about a week in and would say I didn’t encounter XYZ but was learning. It wasn’t difficult work, but just a larger volume that I wasn’t used to. After a few weeks I was up to speed and realized that they wanted 6-8 hours worth of work to be done in 2 hours.

    Even though I gave it my best shot I felt terrible. When I initially interviewed and got the job and a few weeks in, I thought I hit the job lottery. But then they sent me an email on my day off and didn’t even give me the courtesy of a phone call. They said I took too long on assignments but I was waiting on my manager to provide what i had needed (which I had communicated, and no one else was able to do it).  

    I’m taking a break from job searching so I can focus on my health but for the first time ever, I don’t know what to do next. I don’t want to apply for entry level b/c I think it’d be unfair to actual entry level applicants but I don’t think Im good enough to be in a higher role and I don’t know how I’d even explain that. So I feel lost and stuck now.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      Penalizing you for not completing work when you have clearly communicated that you’re blocked and waiting on someone else, then firing you by email on your day off says more about them than it does about you.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely this. Also, sometimes jobs really just aren’t the right fit. And sometimes companies think they know what they want, hire someone, and then go ‘Wait, no! Why are you doing that? We don’t want that! We want someone who can do this!’ And it definitely says more about the company than it does about you.

        I can understand why you’re feeling bruised by the experience, but please, don’t feel like you’re not good enough or that you need to apply to entry-level jobs. I’ve been in a very similar situation, and I know it’s demoralising, but your skills and experience are the same as they’ve always been, and there will be a job that’s right for you with a company that appreciates what you have to offer.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Well, first of all – I’m sorry you lost your job in the middle of a pandemic. This is crappy timing, but even more crappy that they let you go because they said your output didn’t match their expectations. Hello – you told them what your experience was during the interview, pointed out your limitations, and hired you anyway. If they weren’t willing to work with you and help you get up to speed, then they should have passed to begin with.

      Secondly, I think this situation is not remotely indicative of what you can do as an employee. It sounds to me that your employer wasn’t honest with themselves about what level of work they needed from someone in your role, and you suffered because of it. That doesn’t mean that you shot for the wrong level of work necessarily – you just chose the wrong company. That happens to the best of us. I’d keep applying to the same level of roles I was applying to prior to this job if I were you, and just pay very close attention to what’s being said to you in interviews. If you bring up areas of weakness for yourself, and a company just brushes it off like it’s no big deal, ask them to give you more information on training opportunities and what the hiring manager’s coaching looks like. I’d also ask them to give me an idea of how quickly they expect someone at your level to get up to speed. If you’re not comfortable with the timeline given, move on.

      Good luck to you in your job search (once you resume it).

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Do you feel like the expectations your company had were unreasonable? Or do you feel like they’re the kind of expectations that would be normal for that kind of role in your field? Sometimes companies have different ideas for what to expect from a role. (For example: in my organization, an Assistant Director in my area manages a team of several people. In peer organizations, someone with that title may well not manage anyone, and is just a somewhat more senior individual contributor.)

      I feel like if you’re looking for another job, that’s an important thing to consider. If it’s likely that a Senior Llama Groomer anywhere is going to have to meet the same expectations that this company had, then it’s good to consider that Senior Llama Groomer may not be a job you’re ready for just yet. But if a Senior Llama Groomer at another company might be held to different expectations, it’s possible it’s a role you could fill elsewhere. Do you know anyone who works in similar jobs to the one you held, but at different companies? You could get a better handle on what to expect in that kind of role, and determine whether you want to take a step back or try again to apply for jobs at the more senior level. This especially seems like a good idea to me because you seem really demoralized, and I’m afraid you might be letting that get the better of you with regard to your judgement of your own abilities!

      That said, if you don’t want to go for senior-level jobs or find out that they may be more than you can handle right now, there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back. My old boss left our organization where she had a couple of direct reports and about a dozen indirect ones, to be a senior-level individual contributor somewhere else. She just felt like the actual work “in the trenches,” as it were, suited her better than a management role. If there’s a mid-level kind of role in your field that you could do (i.e., not entry-level but not management or most senior level), you could go for that. And if an interviewer asks why you’re taking a step back, you could say that your most recent work experience taught you that skills X, Y, and Z are really important in that kind of role, and you feel like you have more development to do in those skills. You’re hoping to be able to acquire some more experience with them in your next position.

      1. Kes*

        I agree with this. I would also add that if your estimate was the work would take 6-8 hours and they expected it done in 2, there’s definitely a mismatch here and either their expectations were unreasonable or this job wasn’t a good fit. The fact that they fired you apparently without warning by email on your day off indicates that it may well be the former, and you may well look back later and realize you dodged a bullet. However, even if it is the latter, that still doesn’t mean you’re worthless or need to go all the way back to entry level or anything like that, it just means you need to find another job that is better suited to your current experience and skills.
        Consider also that from the sound of it, you’ve had two jobs, one of which you did really well at and were promoted multiple times, into management, and this one which didn’t work out. So even giving them equal weight (which I wouldn’t necessarily do), you’re 50-50 on success and failure, and are focusing on the failure because it’s fresh and raw, while ignoring the success, which is at least as relevant and quite possibly more so, given the other red flags in the company’s behaviour and given your lengthy trajectory of success in multiple positions previously.
        So by all means, take some time to lick your wounds, survey the field to get a sense of general levels and expectations and where you should be at – and then go get a job at a better company that will actually treat you with respect and where you will be better set up for success

        1. BRR*

          Very well put. This doesn’t sound like an employer you can trust to judge your output. I’ve been fired and laid off and both stink. Being rejected by a bad employer will mess with your head.

          You were at your first job for five years and moved up. It doesn’t sound like you should apply for entry level jobs. Definitely take your time to take care of yourself, but don’t let this company take away your successes (easier said than done). My perspective if I was interviewing you would be there’s no track record. You obviously will need to talk about being let go, but you’re far from the first good candidate who’s been overlooked at a terrible company.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Well I was only here for 6 weeks so I definitely won’t be putting it on my resume. Would I still need to mention that I was terminated on a future interview?

            1. Lucette Kensack*

              If they ask if you have ever been fired, yes, you’d need to be honest. But since you’re leaving it off your resume, this particular role isn’t likely to come up.

            2. BRR*

              I wouldn’t bring it up proactively but you should be prepared to answer why you are looking and why did you leave the longer job. You’ll also need to disclose this job if you have to apply via an ATS and it asks for all previous employment (but you’re 100% right to leave it off your resume).

              1. Hiring Mgr*

                I don’t know the ins and outs of an ATS, but why would you need to include a six week job there, and not on a resume?

                1. Lark*

                  The job history on your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be complete, but some employers ask for a complete job history in the ATS and they confirm that history during the background check.

            3. Fact & Fiction*

              Hey, don’t lose heart! I was fired from a job in the early 2000s but have since gone on to several amazing new jobs after that. You do NOT have to mention the termination on your resume but you DO need to be honest if asked about it proactively or required to include a complete employment history on an application or background check. Just be matter-of-fact and honest about how it wasn’t a good fit and stress the things you learned from the experience.

              One bad experience can happen to anyone, so don’t let this destroy your confidence, especially since you were completely honest about your background. And 6 weeks is barely long enough to truly know how someone is going to be long-term in a lot of roles. I’d say it can take up to 6 months at least for a lot of positions. If it were me, I’d aim for another job at a similar level and then judge things based on how that one goes.

              Good luck!

              1. Anonymous*

                I agree, 6 weeks is barely enough time. How do you expect someone 2 weeks in to perform at the same level as a 4-6 year vet.

            4. current manager*

              No need to mention it at all. Pretend it never happened. Just make sure you get paid for the time you put in there!

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        At first I wasn’t sure – I thought maybe I was off. I asked peers in my field if the work I’m doing would be 2 hours and all of them agreed that that type of work was at least 6 hours.

        After I had lost my job in March, I decided that I definitely did not want a managerial role, at least not until a few years in the company. Thank you for the rest of the advice, I’ll keep it in mind.

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      I am so very sorry to hear what’s happened and I can absolutely relate to that feeling of ”I’m rubbish and should never be in a senior role” feeling. Truly, what others have said probably has a lot of bearing, but at LEAST some of what went wrong is on them. There may have been a workaholic, happy-to-work-all-hours person in the job before, and then when a more balanced, reasonable person joined, it was perceived as ”low output”. Also, you were really new in the role. Very high output and being fast takes experience and that takes time in a role.

      Their expectations were way out of line, essentially. It’s really bad practice to just let someone go like that without first trying to understand what’s going on, why it might be happening and so on. You know where your strengths are, and weaknesses, and no one is perfect, but you were perfectly honest and worked really hard by the sounds of things.

      This happened to me years ago, or something somewhat similar in many ways. The imposter syndrome that followed and the genuine fear any time a manager said ”can you pop by my office a bit later, I need to chat to you about something” that made me actually sweat and shake were awful and took years to abate. One thing that helped was to spend a period of time doing strictly shorter-term contracts, like maternity covers and the like. Not temp work as such, but work that meant there was an end date. One of these translated into a permanent job as time went on, and gave me the time to get confidence and not feel quite so much like a loser and useless because hey, I was leaving in X weeks anyway. This may not be remotely feasible for you, but it is an option that worked well for me.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        This was definitely one of my work fears…the imposter syndrome but really manifesting itself.

        My plan was always that I’d leave my job when I had a baby and hopefully by then I’d have built up enough savings and experience to not worry too much about reentering the workforce. Except the pregnancy was unexpected as was the layoff as well as losing the benefits and leave id accrued.

    5. SomehowIManage*

      Taking a step back in the hierarchy is not always a bad thing. I did that a few years ago (took a 1 level junior role at a different company in the same industry) and focused on learning the skills needed to move up again and perform well. 2 years later I was promoted and am now considered one of the top performers of my level.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is this the same position where you told your employer you were having a medical procedure, but concealed from them that you had actually given birth and were caring for your newborn on the clock while also working and having a hard time picking up on the requirements of the job as a result? Because maybe you didn’t lie on your resume, but you certainly weren’t very forthright with them about the situation, and you’re not really being very straightforward in how you present it here, based on your previous comments.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        This is not the same job.

        This time around I was up front that I had a baby and I had childcare for my working hours.

        1. Anon Lawyer*

          So I’m going to gently suggest that we’re missing a lot of important information here. It sounds like you’ve had two jobs since your still-newborn baby was born, which means that the second one must have gone very quickly in terms of being hired, starting, and then getting fired?

          I don’t know that we can provide a lot of helpful advice without more info. I don’t think many people could pick up two new jobs immediately after giving birth while caring for a newborn. You say you have had childcare through this one, but you’re still pretty immediately postpartum. I don’t know if this job has unreasonable expectations, if your previous companies didn’t expect as much as others, or if you just aren’t in the headspace for this right now. I think there are a LOT of unknowns we can’t give advice on. A trusted mentor or even a reputable carer coach in real life might be able to give you better info after hearing the whole story.

          1. Summersun*

            Agree with this. Whatever the reason–pregnancy/new mom exhaustion, unclear expectations, whatever–the explanations and circumstances for your past several job losses constantly change at each telling, to the point that it’s unlikely anyone here can give you useful advice.

            If you have the financial means, I’d take a step back, enjoy time with your infant, and just put one foot in front of the other for a while. This is an ideal time to lose a job, if such a concept exists (during a pandemic and immediately after a first child).

          2. A Person*

            I really agree on this trusted mentor thing. Do you have someone from the job where you were promoted who knows you well? It’s so helpful to have someone in your same field that can help you take a step back and understand this. They will know so much better than random people on the internet about expectations, whether this job was being reasonable, etcetera.

          3. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah, with this additional information, I agree 100% with the comment, “maybe you’re just not in the headspace for this right now.”

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          So you were at your previous job for five years, ending in a senior role, but a couple months ago you were posting that you were laid off in March and were now in a new job that you had lied to about your new baby, and since then you’ve gotten another new job that you thought was a jackpot “a few weeks in” but have already been let go from. Your story still seems a little disingenuous based on this and your previous posts. But you don’t have to explain, I’m just a stranger on the internet with a good memory. Best wishes with your health and your eventual job search.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I started my job in Dec 2014 and was laid off in March this year. In those years, I had been promoted a few times. After I had the baby this summer, I had a short stint with contract work which wasn’t working out. Then I got this job where they made a big do about being family friendly, flexible, a place to grow etc. So…..I’m really not sure what’s so disingenuous about what I’ve posted here, but I am uncomfortable with your comments.

            1. Anon Lawyer*

              I suspect they’re referring to the conversations we had here about not telling your original job – which subsequently turned into a contract job – about the baby and the fact you were doing childcare while working. I think we’re all sympathetic here – it’s a hard situation to be laid off while pregnant during a pandemic and then feel like you have to start a new job immediately after having a baby! That wouldn’t be easy for anyone and a lot of us couldn’t do it at all.

              I think, though, that it’s probably worth taking some time to reflect on a pattern here, which is that it seems like you often come here and give us part of the story (leaving out the fact that you just gave birth/have a newborn, for instance, or that you started a new job when the first job you were talking about for a long time didn’t work out) and then take advice based on that. I don’t think you’re deliberately obscuring anything or posting with any ill will – I think you are probably in a headspace where relevant information doesn’t feel relevant to you, even when it drastically changes your circumstances (having a new baby is one of the hardest and most stressful things most people go through in their life!). So a question is why is that and is that affecting your life in ways beyond getting not relevant advice from folks on this blog?

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                @AnonLawyer I appreciate you breaking it down for me.

                Yes it has been a stressful time for many reasons I cant/wont get into. But sometimes I just want to ask something without some dragging my history (sometimes made up!) into everything I ask and I no longer use “anonymous” names to post. I don’t know if other posters get this type of treatment too, not that you did but it’s happened before.

                At the moment, I don’t get why my 2 week stint prior to this job is relevant to this exact question today, but maybe when I look back in a few weeks/months it’ll all make sense. Thank you and most others for the kind and helpful information, I really appreciate it.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  It matters because having had 2 jobs be a struggle and not panning out in quick succession means yes, you should look for something entry-level, or significantly lower level, when you start looking again.

                  Not because you’re incapable, but because your capacity is full right now and you can’t take on a more demanding role while the rest of your life is so demanding.

                  I have seen several other posters get similar questioning about past posts, and it’s always when there is a pattern that the issue of the day is radically altered by context that was left out of the current post.

                  The purpose is not to attack, but to provide perspective. Sometimes when we are in a situation (especially a long-term stressful one) we start to take it for granted. Then we can’t see how a felt problem might be related to it.

                  Like the “frog in boiling water” analogy. If the frog suddenly noticed they had blisters, someone might recommend a topical cream. Then the others who remember past comments would say – “hey, didn’t you say last week that you’re in a pot of water on a stove? Nevermind the cream, jump out!”

                2. Barb*

                  Clarifying question: Are you saying you made up your history? Or other people are making up your history? And what exactly is the made-up information? Folks do tend to remember past postings (but could have specifics wrong), and it’s pretty easy to look up past postings (to double check what might have been misremembered), so I’m sure we can sort out if it’s just a misunderstanding.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Forgive me if I’m mixing you up but is there any chance of this is a performance issue only because of calculating against maternity leave? I twitched.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think that your attention is divided between too many things right now. I also think that you expect a lot of yourself and never stop to realize how time consuming some things actually are. (A great many people have this conflict.)

      So it looks like you set this goal to move up. And you did. Do you think you moved up too fast? Do you think you have too much else going on in life to be able to concentrate like you would prefer to?

      I also think that you have been under a HUGE amount of stress for a very long time. There is no way this can be good for your health or anyone’s health.

      You explain your change in direction by saying that you realize for the time being working at x level suits your life. There is no need to explain that you doubt your ability to do y level work. That part should not enter the discussion in any way.

      I have been looking at Indeed remote work. I think you should keep looking there.
      I am sorry you lost your job and in such a crappy manner, too. But I also think that your stress levels are super high and it would be good for you to start thinking about how to reduce your stress levels before you end up in ICU or CCU. I am not joking and I am not trying to scare you. I want to encourage you to take a deep breath. Then build a different strategy for yourself. I think you really need to put some quality time in figure out what is good for Potatoes.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Well I was only there for about 6 weeks, so I wasn’t moving up but it was a place I planned to stay at long term. I have a few contacts who give me remote project work so that’s enough for now to keep my skills sharp. It really is so scary to be without a steady stream of income but I’m looking forward to finally having time to exercise and phys therapy

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I’m sorry you lost your job right now and that sucks. But I’m really not sure that I hear anything in your letter that indicates you’re a bad employee. It sounds like this company was a bad fit!

      I would continue looking for stretch roles at the level you desire to be at. You mention you didn’t think the work was overly difficult, but that it had a higher volume than you were used to. So, maybe you look for similar in a smaller company? Or, just be really careful when you interview to ask a lot more questions about the workload and expectations before accepting the job.

      Don’t feel awful! Getting into a poor fit company happens to everyone at some point.
      Also, I don’t know the state of that company’s finances right now, but things are bad at a lot of places and there is a lot of pressure to meet numbers, especially in sales or business development type roles. Given it’s a terrible economy and pandemic, these people can’t work magic. Maybe there was more going on behind the scenes than you knew? Saying your output didn’t match expectations may have been a convenient excuse. Just saying.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. Between this post and last week’s, though, I think you can use this opportunity to really zero in on the things you can fix in your next job. You don’t have to look for entry level jobs, but you should work on being proactive. Last week you had questions about your timekeeping and you made some assumptions without clarification. Your post today indicates to me that you may not have been discussing your concerns as proactively as you might think. Telling them something in an interview is great, but you need to reiterate it– people often don’t remember, or they don’t think, or they compartmentalize the interview from actual boots-on-the-ground employment. So it’s up to you to advocate for yourself. Things like asking to check in with your boss and saying the type of work is new to you so you’re working on catching up, what can you prioritize. Or asking specifically about output expectations. You say you “realized they wanted 6-8 hours worth of work to be done in two hours”– was this a conversation? Or an email you got about your output?

      I’m not saying this is your fault, necessarily. But I am saying that when you’re ready to find something new, you should set goals for yourself and one of those goals can be speaking up more instead of waiting for them to speak to you. It’s ok to struggle and it’s ok to take your time picking things up, but you need to be clear on where the lines are and, if you haven’t been, you need to be clear about your own limitations. That doesn’t mean it will all go over well or that your next employer will be more patient or understanding, but one thing you can absolutely avoid is letting anyone think you don’t realize there are issues.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I learned a lot from last weeks’ post (and I know you gave great advice too!) and I was going to actually talk to my manager about it and the other stuff. But then this happened.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Dunno if you will see this or not. When stuff like this comes up it pays to respond fast, meaning within a day talk to the boss. Waiting even two days can be a fatal mistake.

          I am glad to hear you say that you are getting something out of some of the posts people are putting on here.
          You seem to be having a rough ride of it but it’s not clear how we can help you get to a better spot.

          Your original question was, “advice on taking a step back/step down in their career while remaining in the field?” But apparently you already have a couple contracts that you work on. So it seems like you are already doing it- you are stepping back and yet still remaining in the field. Maybe you had a more specific question than that?

  7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How long can you focus at work? My boyfriend says he can focus for 8 hours while I can focus for uh…20 minutes. I think my focus record is 2 hours. How do you improve your focus?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you need to improve your focus. Most people can’t get concentrated work done for long stretches of time and be efficient. It’s good to take breaks. Does your boyfriend have ADHD by chance? Some folks with ADHD can have very intense long periods of extreme focus on a task.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        We both aren’t diagnosed but I think I have the inattentive type and he can play board games for 14 hours straight.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Well, that’s your answer. If your brain is wired differently and it’s making it hard to concentrate, then you need to address that. Don’t compare yourself to others. Work on learning coping methods that will help you concentrate, or whatever so you can get your work done effectively. You may never be able to focus for 8 hours straight (most people can’t!). But you can probably get to 45 minutes or an hour, then take whatever short break, then get back to work.

          1. Jane*

            Yeah, this seems like a plausible explanation for both you and your boyfriend.

            Under the right circumstances I can focus for 6 or so hours straight (not 8+ unless it’s a novel, which is why I barely ever read any more -sleep is important too). Under the wrong circumstances I’ll struggle to focus for 20 minutes.

            I don’t recommend trying to train yourself to do 8 hours – that kind of focus can’t be forced, and its not necessarily healthy. I do recommend checking out the pomodoro method to build on your 20 minute pattern.

            On a side-note, it’s interesting to me seeing people on this thread saying that it isn’t possible to focus for 8 hours straight. While I can’t go quite that long for most things, it’s not much of a stretch from what I can do.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Definitely not for 8 hours.

      If I’m in a groove, I can deeply focus on something for an hour or so. Otherwise, I tend to work in 20-30 minute bursts.

      It’s not something you necessarily NEED to improve, as long as your method works for you. After 20 minutes, do you take a quick brain break and then go back to what you were doing? Or do you get totally derailed?

    3. Me again*

      Meh, I think it’s about productivity output not the focus amount. I calculate I’m probably productive 5 to 6 hours per work day broken up into a 20 minute chunks and yet at the end of the week I have accomplished more than people who have been head down plowing away for extended periods. You do you.

      1. LDF*

        Yes, I am very easily distracted but I have high output. I often feel like I’m not getting things done quickly enough but then turns out I’m still faster than many of peers.

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      With respect, your boyfriend is mistaken. It is humanly impossible to focus for 8 hours straight. It’s possible to work hard for 8 hours–with, say, minimal breaks. But the human brain cannot focus for 8 hours. The estimates I’ve seen are that concentrated focus can be maintained from about 20 to 45 minutes.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. He doesn’t really focus on one thing for 8 hours. He must have to change tasks. When you change tasks or topics you stop focusing on one thing and go to another.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Right, depends how you describe “focus.”

        There are some things I can do for a long time on “autopilot.” Like data entry. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m “focused,” but I can do the work nonstop.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Totally agree with this thread.

          I can focus for 20 minutes and then something else catches me.

          My husband could have this drilled focus. I saw him go 15 hours straight with only food and bathroom breaks. The guy was a genius I swear. But people who have that drilled fine focus seem to lose many other things around them. So my husband who had never repaired a washer and wasn’t even sure how they worked, fixed our washer. He was so far removed from any familiarity that I had to help him get the covers off. (I am not naturally good at this stuff, it took a while.) Once inside, he spotted a wire that had come unsoldered. Talk about a needle in a haystack, I never would have found that, especially after spending so much time taking the covers off. But to him that broken wire was glaringly obvious.
          This was the same person who never notice the kitchen garbage can was full. I can walk into a room and immediately spot ten things that need to be done. He couldn’t. But I couldn’t find that broken wire in all that wire spaghetti, so there’s that.

          Some of this is generalist vs specialist. I am definitely a generalist. I know a little bit about a number of things. My husband was a specialist he was good at machines, unusually good. He had a drilled focus. I remember consoling him that there was nothing wrong with our bunny and she was just yawning. Bunnies yawn? Yes, they yawn. I had to stay near him when we planted small plants, “Green side goes up, honey.” He learned machines to the exclusion of learning other things. I could never do the types of work he did. It takes a life-long interest and commitment to be that immersed.

          Some of this is the nature of the field. I don’t want my surgeon stopping every 20 minutes because something across the room has caught his attention. But I do want my contractor to stop cutting into the floor if he notices the wall across the room is starting to cave in.

          Some of this is marathoner vs sprinter. I am definitely a sprinter and that is how I get the most work out. I work in mini-bursts. I have never had a boss complain about my productivity levels. But if they watched my pacing it might make them nervous. In the end, there is no problem with the amount of work I have done for the day or week.

          Punchline. If we compare ourselves to our SOs that probably won’t play out well. It’s apples to oranges often enough and there’s reasons for that.

        2. Anonymous*

          Yeah, agreed. I had no problem doing data entry nonstop, but now that I have a more intellectually-intense job, there’s a lot more staring at my screen, pacing, talking to my rubber duck as I try to figure out what to do…

      3. Generic Name*

        Yeah, there’s no way he’s straight-up focusing for 8 hours straight. Is he saying he is head down at a task for 8 hours straight with taking no breaks for food, water, or going to the restroom? I don’t see how that’s even possible for most jobs, because people walk by your workspace and say “hi” in passing, or you answer a phone call or you answer an email. Even if you return to the task at hand, your focus was broken and people normally need a few minutes (I think I read the average was 6) to get back to focusing on what you were doing.

        1. Mily*

          My husband can do this. He has ADHD hyperfocus and can forget to eat when he is focused. He has always worked from home so has few interruptions.

    5. Anonymous Hippo*

      If I’m working on something that I enjoy, I can go about 6 hours straight without a break. However, it’s really very hard to distract me, which I think is because I was homeschooled in a family of 11, lol.

      I don’t think it is necessary to work up to that kind of focus. I would look more at how fast can you come in and out? If you can work steady for 45 minutes, take a 5 minutes break, and immediately jump back into working for another 45 minutes, IDK why you’d need more than that. If I focus full on for 4 straight hours (which I do quite a bit) I basically don’t want to work the other half of the day at all. As long as your work allows for the focus setup that works for you, I wouldn’t think it would be necessary to change it.

      1. Anonymous*

        The big family makes sense. I did four years of elementary school in a one-room village school, where one teacher taught six grades. It just so happened that while I was in that school, there were only kids in every other grade, but at any rate, I got used to the teacher teaching math to the 1st graders while I was doing something else.

    6. Joielle*

      I’ve always been a hard-work-in-short-spurts person, so I’ll focus for probably – idk – a half hour at a time? Occasionally longer if I’m in the middle of something complicated. After that I need to let my mind wander for a while. Luckily, most of my work can be done in discrete chunks (I mostly do writing that’s broken up into fairly small sections), so it’s pretty easy to do a chunk, take a break, repeat. I sometimes wonder if I’m actively working for fewer hours in a day than my colleagues, but overall I don’t work any slower than others, so I don’t get too hung up on it.

      I can force myself to focus for longer if I’m on a deadline but that doesn’t happen often (and I don’t think I could force myself to do it super often).

      To echo other commenters – if your output and work quality are good, I wouldn’t worry too much about whether you focus in small bursts or have a lower but more sustained level of focus. Different strokes, etc.

    7. Silver Radicand*

      If the work is something I am familiar and comfortable with, and I can throw on my headphones and groove, I can focus for maybe a good two to three hours, four on an extreme edge.

      At some point, I get distracted by getting hungry, or emails, or just that-process-that-maybe-could-be-done-more-efficiently-but-Im-not-sure-how-so-I-start-looking-it-up.

      When I’m dealing with things that I have less experience with, or I’m getting interrupted more than once in an hour, I’m probably going to be done after 20 minutes or less.

    8. Des*

      I don’t really think about it in terms of hours. If I’m deeply focused on a project, I don’t consider getting up to eat or have tea to be a mental break, since I’m still thinking about the problem in my head while I’m eating. So in that sense I would report focusing for the entire day while in reality I did take breaks for necessities and just to freshen up my mental space. I don’t think I could be very productive after a consecutive 7-8h of work, unless it’s crunch time. So I think it depends on how you define focus, to an extent.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      1 – agreed that (with respect) your boyfriend’s definition of focus and yours are different.
      2 – I’m not advocating for the specific method, but there is some merit in the root of the Pomodoro method (20 minutes on, an intentional five minute break/brain shift, another 20 of focus). Then stretch it to 21.. 22.. 23.. but still keep the intentional down-shifts, don’t eliminate them.
      Good luck!

    10. Anonymous*

      Everyone has different levels and can focus/be productive for various lengths depending on what they’re doing!

      When I was starting out, doing temp work. I did a lot of very basic but long drawn out projects that involved very basic stuff. Data entry or a huge copy project. So I would get into a “groove” where I would catch a rhythm and could pound out more productivity [say 25 files a day] verses my colleagues still working at a similar length of time and would clearly get less focused and distracted, they needed to talk more or would linger picking out a file so that they could stop dealing with the copier, etc. They’d be processing say 15 files a day instead. Still acceptable and okay!

      But I can’t read for hours, I need to look away if I’m processing information and let it sink into my brain.

      He sounds like he could have one of those programmers minds, where you can code for hours under headphones. Whereas you need to change focus frequently.

      What that means is that you aren’t geared towards the same projects, which is normal! You don’t need to improve your focus unless you’re trying to do something super intense but even then…you may simply not have the function to do so and that’s NORMAL and OK!!!

  8. Anon today*

    I told y’all a few months ago that, since the pandemic, I had decided to leave my job and start a new business. I’ve just realized how dysfunctional we are. We have (had)7 full-time employees. I’m putting in notice next week. Unbeknownst to me, and unplanned by them, two other people gave their notice this week. Looks like I have the right idea. One is our top salesperson, and I’m going to need a salesperson…I’m going see if he needs a job.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Definitely not a bad idea to reach out – even if he doesn’t end up working out, he might know someone who does.

      If you don’t mind my asking, how’s the “Big OMG Change Anxiety” going? Have you had much/any?

    2. Gumby*

      I think the “must wait [a year] to poach former co-workers” part of non-competes is one that actually does get upheld sometimes. So you might want to be careful to document that you first approached him *after* he gave notice. It might not be an issue for you. It would be at my job.

  9. School A-A-non*

    I need help apologizing to a prof.
    I took an independent study over the summer. It was pretty laid back and at the end of it, he gave me my grade and said “just turn in your writing when you can.” Well… I never did. I emailed him once, saying I was working on it and would try to get it within the week (this was early september). I genuinely was! But it was like I hit a block—the more I thought about it and felt bad about not having it done sooner, the more panicked I was and then it was even more hard to like write it.
    I want to email him and say basically, “look i screwed up i’m sorry i’m working on it please forgive me.” But I don’t want it to sound self-pitying or like I’m making excuses. I do genuinely feel bad, but I don’t know what to say.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Have you finished it yet? Are you close? I think the best course of action at this point would be to finish up the work and send it to the professor with your sincere apologies for the delay. The world is upside down right now so hopefully we’re all extending grace to each other when we fall short of expectations, but I think it will go better overall if you offer your apology together with the finished work. Good luck!

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        And if you’re not close, send a note with a very brief, matter-of-fact apology and an updated schedule (that you can and will actually stick to).

        1. Medievalist*

          This is what I was going to say. I’m a prof who teaches independent studies. If I had a student in your position, and the work wasn’t going to be done soon, what I’d appreciate most would be acknowledgement of the situation + a concrete plan for resolving it. Also, many schools don’t pay faculty for teaching independent studies (or pay very little); we primarily teach them as “extras” above our loads for the sake of the student. So, given that the professor was willing to teach the independent study, forthright communication with them would be particularly appropriate.

          I’d find it reasonable if you wanted the prof’s input on that plan (e.g., you could propose a specific schedule for completion and ask if this would be acceptable, etc.). Professors are human beings who often understand that life and anxiety get in the way—especially right now!—but an apology on its own isn’t as useful as showing responsibility for getting the work in. A plan would be a good show of responsibility.

    2. Reba*

      Rather than worrying about this email… I would say, work on getting a system going so that you can get the work done! This cycle of shame-procrastination-shame-panic is familiar (and probably is to many, many people, even very successful people!). You need to bust out of it! Yes, you missed a self-imposed deadline, whatever! No one was hurt!

      What about getting yourself a writing buddy or accountability partner. I did this when I was writing my dissertation — we just emailed each other once a week and reported what progress we had made. This also helps in breaking the work into chunks. It wasn’t “write a dissertation,” it was “finish up these 5 paragraphs so I can tell Amy the chapter’s done on Friday.”

      If your prof is reasonable, they aren’t taking it personally and just need it from you before whatever filing deadline there is. Like, they are busy and it is just not looming as large in their universe as it is in yours. Also, not to be flip, but in academia, missing deadlines happens…a lot.

      Why not write something like:
      Hi Prof, I want to update you on my project. I’m sorry that I missed the date I gave you last month. Right now I have it about X% completed, and I have a plan to get the draft to you by the end of this month [or whenever]. Thanks for understanding! Hope your semester is going well so far.

      Good luck!

    3. memyselfandi*

      I have been on both sides of this – the student who has promised something, is late, gets blocked, etc…AND the professor who says hand it in when you can, because I understand that life happens and am confident in my ability to evaluate students. Don’t worry about the professor. Tell them you are working on it. Then remember – the assignment is for YOU, so think abut what you want to get out of it and don’t think it needs to be ever-so-much-more-so of an assignment because it is so late. A completed assignment it better than perfect.

    4. LunaLena*

      I did the same thing once in college – I was working on a final paper that was due the next day when I stopped to take a break and eat an apple, but the knife slipped and I cut out a bit of my thumb (20 years later, I still have a visible scar). I ended up spending the night in the student health center with my hands in the air and arrived in class the next day with my thumb looking like a giant Q-tip from the bandages they wrapped around it. I was given an extension… and then procrastinated for a week. By the time I was ready to turn the paper in, the professor had emailed me to let me know he was disappointed in me. I felt terrible, and still cringe a bit at the memory.

      I think your best bet is to email your professor ASAP to apologize and let him know when you will finish it. The more you wait, the more you’ll feel guilty. Don’t make excuses, don’t try to explain, don’t defend yourself, just apologize and acknowledge you screwed up and that you are willing the accept the consequences of that. If you haven’t finished it yet, give him a hard deadline of when you will finish it by, and then stick to it. Sometimes setting a deadline (and knowing someone else expects you to abide by it) can help get yourself into gear. This is what I wish I had done back then, but I didn’t, which is why I still feel a twinge of guilt when I remember it.

    5. Helvetica*

      I relate to this deeply, have had feelings like this when I was in uni.
      When I was doing my Master’s thesis, I had an entire month when I did basically no work on it. I had compiled the materials but I had a real lack of focus. Fortunately, I had a very nice thesis advisor who sent me an e-mail just to say he hasn’t heard from me for awhile, which made me realize I couldn’t just leave this hanging. So I took a day, compiled the bibliography and was very honest, saying I’d been undermotivated, apologized, and sent the latest thing.
      In your case, especially with the pandemic and all else that’s going on, I’d be as honest as I could – apologize for the delay, and either send whatever you have done or very clearly outline what you plan to do, i.e. “I have so far finished the introduction to the writing, and over the next three days, I’ll work on explaining my experiences, then my analysis, and finally the citations, and should be done in two weeks.” The clearer you are, the more he will understand that you are actually working on it.

    6. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

      My husband recently turned in an undergrad problem set. With pictures of our three kids and an update on what he’d been doing for the ten years since the professor gave him an A on the work he hadn’t actually turned in so he could graduate on time.

      1. irelatetothiscomment!*

        Yeah, so, in another life time, I was in this exact situation. The prof gave me the grade and told me to hand in the paper when I could. Except I never did. And the prof forgot or didn’t care or who knows. And then I graduated.

        I’ve gone on and done another degree since then in a different field, so none of this matters. But you know that dream you get that you’re back in high school and have a bunch of exams and haven’t studied and can’t graduate even though in your dream you’re already a [whatever you really are]? I sometime have that dream, wake up, reassure myself that I don’t need to pass grade 12 math because I’m a [professional]. And then I remember that paper I never finished and that now irrelevant degree that I technically didn’t 100% earn.

        I don’t know the moral of this story, but thought I’d share anyways :)

    7. comityoferrors*

      Echoing others who say to finish it first, then submit it. He will appreciate that more than anything.

      It took me a solid year to submit a first draft manuscript to my professor after we wrapped up a research project. Not because it took a year to write – I just got sidelined by life, and had a similar spiraling anxiety about how late I was. She actually had to reach out to me twice because I ghosted her twice. Not a good look.

      I submitted it in June with a very sincere apology, acknowledging that I should have communicated better about my progress. I figured she would hate me forever, but she seemed to accept my apology. She said she would review it and get back to me within a few weeks.

      3.5 months later, she still hasn’t had a chance to do that LOL. I’m not bothered at all; I know she is incredibly busy. But I think it’s a good example that your professors are human, too. Chances are good your prof has dropped the ball at least once and will understand, especially with everything going on right now.

      The most important part is that you make a plan to finish and stick to that. It will help your guilt/anxiety so much to have it off your plate and to close that loop with him. Do it ASAP for your own peace of mind, if nothing else.

      1. IchKriegDieKrise*

        I teach at a non-American university but am American. Things are a little more casual here in terms of deadlines and student accountability. Because this system is so different, and every person is different, not sure how universal my advice will be, but here it is: email now, apologize, and either have the work attached or a timeline for it. Either works. But I hate students who miss deadlines without reaching out, I hate students who ghost me, and I hate students who submit late work without apology (I don’t want grovelling, just an acknowledgement that student knows late work is not ideal). I love students who are able to keep me in the loop.

  10. MechanicalPencil*

    I’ve been working functionally in teapot quality assurance, but my title is as a teapot designer. This has been going on for roughly a year. I don’t mind the shift in work responsibilities, but it’s been frustrating that I don’t know what my job actually *is*. This conversation has come up with my supervisor several times, and he’s gone to our grandboss about it more than once, who has said that teapot design work “is coming”. Well, it hasn’t.

    The crux: In preparing for EOY reviews, I pointed out to my direct supervisor that I’m functionally one job but titled something else, so life is awkward for me and for coworkers because no one knows what I actually do (including me!). He agreed and is going to push for a title change. But shouldn’t this likely also come with a salary change? Did I goof by not directly mentioning that at the time?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Ask your manager whether you can also expect a salary change when your title changes – just make sure it’ll change for the better. You don’t want to get a new title and end up being overpaid because that usually means no raises for some time.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        My fellow teapot quality assurers make more than I do as a teapot designer, so I don’t think I’d shoot myself in the foot. Traditionally, we get a 2% raise each year on a good year. Anything more than that is essentially unheard of.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Great, then I would definitely ask for both a title and salary increase. I hope you get it.

    2. JustaTech*

      Even if you didn’t mention it then you can still mention a salary bump now.

      A few years ago I had a significant responsibility change (as in now I was the single point of failure). I had a meeting with my grandboss to explain all of this and then … I chickened out of asking for a raise.

      So I went back the next day and had another meeting and asked for a raise. He kind of laughed and said “I wondered when you were going to get to that part.”

    3. current manager*

      Is the QA work usually paid more than the design work? If so, a bump is probably worth asking for. If designers are paid more than QA, well – that’s a different story. I suggest you make sure to do your homework about the typical salary for the job/title you’re doing before asking about a pay change.

  11. hmmmm*

    I keep rereading old AAM articles about promotions, moving up in an industry etc. I was wondering if anyone ever stayed in a position just because it suited their life.

    I was talking about this with a friend the other day. She works for a non profit. I thought my friend had a great point (detailed with her permission) staying at a company where she is. My friend works in non profit but this could really apply to any job. My friend earns a decent salary; low average for her experience, but more than enough to cover her family’s needs. She could probably get more elsewhere. She has been her company for 6 years. There is little chance for movement upwards. She likes it there. SHe said she has become an expert in her job. Has gained a ton of experiences in other areas of the company. She gets an obscene about of vacation, personal and sick time (obscene for the US). Her boss lets her have a flexable schedule with hours worked and is even allowed to work from home and make up time on the weekend. The medical/ dental/ health benefits are ok – could be better could be worse but she does have an opportunity to buy some supplemental insurance through a company program. She hardly has any overtime. Her company has a great retirement plan.

    These have all helped her in her personal life being their for her husband and kids, volunteering, taking care of a sick relative, taking fun classes, going to school, enjoying hobbies, there is even more job security than most corporations. Anything “lacking” she and her family have found ways to compensate.

    She weighed the pros and cons and feels that even though she could make more elsewhere and move up title-wise in her career she said this suits her work life balance the best. Has anyone had similar experiences?

    1. CheeryO*

      For sure. I’ve seen this a lot in my state government job (insert stereotype about lazy government employees here). If you make enough money, have good benefits and good work/life balance, and like what you do, why not just enjoy it? The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, and even if it is, there is nothing wrong with working to live and not vice versa.

      Of course it’s always a good idea to try to grow within your role and keep your skills sharp, just in case, but I don’t agree with the idea that you have to move on from a job within X years just to avoid stagnation.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I saw this a lot when I worked in insurance (that’s an industry where people just tend to…sit). I didn’t understand it then, but now? Shoot, if my company continues to do well financially, continues providing the great benefits we received now, and my work continues to be varied and interesting, I could see myself staying in my same role for years. It’s genuinely the best company I’ve ever worked for, so I don’t want to take the risk of leaving for something I perceive to be better only to find out that it’s…not.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think that work/life balance and your happiness at your company/organization are incredibly important things to weigh in any career move consideration. A while back, I reached a point in my career where I probably could have sought out a more senior position elsewhere instead of staying where I was. It would have been the fastest way to move up in my career. But like your friend, I honestly loved the place where I worked, and felt like going elsewhere, I’d be giving up a lot in exchange for that higher title and salary. I stuck around and eventually, a position above me opened up at my existing organization, so I applied and got it. But I also knew people who reached that point that I did in their careers, and realized that the only option to move up was to take on a management role, which they really didn’t want to do. Those people stayed where they were, and became well known as experts in the field even if their titles weren’t as impressive as some others.

    4. Ali G*

      For sure. In fact when I left my last job, I was more interested in being in charge of my schedule, etc. than how much money I made. Also, I work for non-profit that employs software engineers/developers. HQ2 came to our city (literally 1 mile away) and they can pay a lot more than we do (although our salaries and benefits are still competitive for the area). But the people that work for us want to work for the mission and want to have a life, take vacations, etc. So they stick around.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Not personally, but people I know, absolutely.
      My brother in law, when he was younger, took jobs where he could fit his leisure activities round them – he had one job where he basically negotiated to have 6 weeks off every summer so he could spend it sailing – it mean taking fairly low-level roles but it worked for him.
      My brother spent a couple of years doing low paid, un demanding jobs which gave him the time and mental energy to do the unpaid stuff that interested him, while he worked out how to find a job which let him do the stuff he was interested in and get paid for it.

      And my dad turned down an extremely well paid job because it would have involved relocating overseas for 2 years (possibly longer) , and avoided several promotions which would have required him to spend much more time doing management and much less time doing his (technical, geeky) job. (His employers structure was not set up for this so he wound up with them creating a kind of internal consultant role for him, where he was in fact in charge of a bunch of people who were , per the organization chart, senior to him. . He found it quite entertaining, especially when suits from outside his department showed up and tried to interfere…

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I do, actually. I stepped down when I left libraries and took a significant pay cut.

      But I also knew that I didn’t want to be tied to a desk. I like my job. I rarely work overtime (never, really), I like my team, my company treats us decently well, and I know what is expected of me. I took this job before I met my now-husband, and considered moving to a higher paying/high power role simply because I felt like I should.

      But I didn’t want to, and husband owns his own business, so he works 80-90 hour weeks a lot. I’ve taken on a bit more around the house because I have that time, and I enjoy it.

      If I hadn’t met my husband, I would have done the same, honestly. I think people assume because husband is self-employed we are *rich* and I don’t have to work, but my paycheck is used just as much as his is if not more because it doesn’t get invested back into the business.

    7. Anon this time*

      I am somewhat in the same situation. I have been in the same job description for 15+ years, although the job has morphed a bit from year to year. Occasionally management has asked me if I want to manage a team, or move into a field position, and the answer is always “no.” I am good at what I do, and I believe I bring value to the customer, and the company’s bottom line. (Sales-adjacent position, so that bottom line is measurable in dollars.) I am also known as a resource for problem solving in my company, so I hope that adds immeasurable value.

      The money is good, the benefits are decent, and the hours allow for a personal life. I do not want more from the corporate world. Someone might look at my lack of title change and think my job is stagnant ….. and I don’t care. It works for me.

    8. OyHiOh*

      My NewJob may turn out to be one of these. Check back in a few years! The pay and benefits are in line with the local market, the hours work with the rest of my life, my co workers and boss are very good about my limited set hours (my role is budgeted for a set number of hours a week; I told them I would not answer email/phone calls outside of those hours and they’ve respected that wonderfully from day one). Assuming my children eventually go back to a physical school site, I’ll be able to see them off to school, and be home and settled when they return. There’s not much room to move up but I won’t know for awhile if that’s going to matter or not.

    9. Aza*

      Absolutely!!! My current job offers a lot of flexibility and stability. To move up, I’d probably need to move into a position with more management requirements, like directorship, which I don’t want right now, maybe not ever.

    10. The New Normal*

      This would be my husband’s ideal. He wants a job where he can come in, do the work, then leave work at the door and come home. He isn’t interested in being a manager or executive with advanced duties. He also clearly communicates this when job-hunting – he isn’t looking for a ladder step to a promotion. He is looking for one job he can do well. He did 7-8 years at one company before his pay was capped. Found a new job with a bump in pay… 7-8 years later, there were new partners in the firm and they believed if you were not advancing, you were dead weight, so they let him go. He’s been at a government agency for over 6 years and there is new leadership that is clearly not interested in keeping him at a good salary if he isn’t going to move up the chain.

      So while the ideal answer is yes, and it sounds like your friend has found an amazing situation, it’s worth noting that changes in culture from leadership can change all of this. Especially when financial struggles hit – when they have to look at cutting costs, why keep someone at the top of the scale with top benefits when they could hire someone new at the bottom of the scale and lower benefits?

      1. Paulina*

        Depending on the organization’s structure, and whether they prefer to promote from within, those in charge may need to have sufficient senior people who want to move into management and so may cut loose someone senior who doesn’t want to move up as long as they’re otherwise replaceable. If experience at rank 3 is needed in order to reach rank 4, but all or most of the rank 3 people don’t want promotion, then advancement is being blocked.

        Some ambitious high-fliers in management may also have issues with people who aren’t looking to move up, because they consider ambition their main driver and think anyone without high ambition likely isn’t that good or won’t do good work, but that’s a different matter.

    11. Person from the Resume*

      I’m there. I’m a federal employee. When I was in the military GS-13 was where many GS employees topped out. The GS-14s and above were hard working managers.

      I’m a GS-13 in another agency now and there are a lot of opportunities for GS-14s. I’m not interested. GS-13s make good salary which funds my current life style with savings, we all get great benefits, my work is interesting, but I don’t want to make it more challenging and stressful and find myself with work cell phone and email which I’m checking outside of work hours.

      I think I’d be reducing my quality of life and work/life balance for more money which I don’t need. It’s the idea that more income makes people happier up to point and after that point there’s little impact. That point is being able to afford the things you need and want within reason.

    12. Veronica*

      I work in engineering consulting. In order to “move up” in my job I need to either switch to management or sales. The other option is a very slow growth in terms of seniority and equally slow growth in pay. I periodically consider moving into another role, but I enjoy what I do, I get paid okay and I have a lot of flexibility.

    13. Janis Mayhem*

      I have worked two jobs since graduating college over 15 years ago. I would still be at the first place if my boss didn’t decide to semi-retire and didn’t have work for me anymore. I’d still be at the last place if circumstances regarding the pandemic hadn’t made that impossible. I have no career ambition and it works fine for my family and me.

    14. tray table upright*

      Yep, this is basically me. I’m happy in my role and have very little interest in being promoted into a job with more responsibilities. My salary is plenty for my lifestyle, I have great benefits, a generous amount of time off, and and most of all a really good pension plan. I like my job and my coworkers for the most part. I’d be happy to stay in my current role until I retire. I’m definitely one of those “work to live” folks. Although I will say I’m continually trying to learn new things, work on new projects, etc. I love variety and luckily my job allows me to work on all kinds of different projects.

    15. D3*

      Yep. I have a second, very part time job that I’ve been doing with no changes in title or responsibility since before my college aged kid was born. I love it. I have zero desire to move up. The pay is great. If it were possible to do it FT I probably would. Not everyone has to be on an upward climb.
      For example, if you’re a nurse or a classroom teacher, or some other job and that’s what you really and truly love doing. You shouldn’t feel like you HAVE to move into administration and become a manager or principal if that’s not where your heart lies.
      Not a single thing wrong with not wanting to climb the career ladder. Nothing wrong with wanting that, either! Both paths can work and result in a career you enjoy.

    16. OtterB*

      Yes. I have been in my current position 16 years. Now I expect to stay here through retirement (about 3 years out), but earlier I occasionally looked at other positions and considered applying. But my not-for-profit has a great boss, good coworkers in general, work I enjoy, wonderful flexibility I needed for a kid with special needs, pay on the low side but not impossibly so and balanced by benefits – they pay 100% of health insurance for both me and family, plus generous 403(b) matching and good PTO. The flexibility, in particular, was something I always decided I couldn’t afford to lose. I’d lost my ambition to make a mark on my field in the job before this one, before special needs kiddo started school. I miss it a bit, but not enough to stress out over it.

    17. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      Yes. I was fast tracking upwards when my son became very ill, I became very depressed, my marriage was on the rocks..>

      My boss and grandboss and most of my colleageus were incredibly supportive, I was able to pare down to core functions (and also took months-long leaves several times), worked half time for awhile. I stepped down from a leadership position. And discovered that I was ok with having a less stressful job. Decent salary (not what I’d be making if I’d moved up at the rate I was previously moving), good benefits, mostly satisfying work, mostly good colleagues.

      I’ve been at the same level for a long time now — I do get frustrated at not being able to lead change, but not enough to seek out positions that would let me do that, or to say “yes” when I’ve been asked to apply. The real problem is feeling that I’m not particularly challenged intellectually at work, although I have friends and family that help feed that part of me.

      Overall, I’m good with where I am — aside from this year’s whipsawing due to covid (on campus! off campus! hybrid teaching! online teaching! classes cancelled! semester extended!), I’m not too stressed by work. Which, right now, is just what I need.

    18. WI is Covid Saturated*

      I had your friend’s experience and stayed at the job for 12 years before moving on. I left due to no raises or COLAs but for a long time it fit me like a glove and it was great. My advice is if it feels right than stay. Screw what our society says MUST happen.

    19. MsChanandlerBong*

      That is me right now. I work with a small team of people, and there is no really no room for advancement because the only two people higher than me in the company are the two co-founders. The pay isn’t where it should be, and we have few benefits. But I have serious health issues, and this job allows me to work FT from home. I also have a lot of flexibility. If I am not well, I can take extra time for lunch and then work in the evening, or I can leave early and make it up another day without using PTO or having to ask permission. I also have a ton of freedom, and I have the opportunity to do things I would not be able to do at another company with more rigid roles and a hierarchical structure. With my heart condition, I would not be able to do even a regular office job outside the home (I volunteered to do some clerical work for a nonprofit–simply filing papers for 20 minutes had me huffing and puffing, with a pounding heart and sweat dripping down my body). This allows me to earn a good living around my health issues.

    20. Nita*

      Yeah. I’ve been in the same job for more than a decade and it’s the thing for me even if I’ll never get promoted. I’m an introvert, and moving up means becoming much more of a people person. I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now… I don’t have the bandwidth for anything beyond doing my current job well and very basic stuff to keep life at home running. Also, the more I work with these people, the more I respect them. I love how they treat each other in good times and bad. I’m impressed with the management decisions. And the flexibility is great… I’m pretty sure that if I find a different job, it will be much harder to have a work-life balance.

    21. Anonymous*

      I would absolutely stay in a job where I’m happy, get tons of vacation and sick pay and can work at home on a flex schedule. Oh, with a great retirement plan, too? Sounds great.

    22. allathian*

      This is basically me. I value my time off enough that I’m willing to settle for a lower salary just so I can forget about my job when I stop working. I have decent benefits (great by US standards) and together with my husband we earn enough to buy what we need and most of what we want. I have great flexibility in working hours, so even dealing with my son’s remote school in spring was no issue, although we’re both glad that he’s been able to go back to school for now. I’ve been able to WFH quite a lot for the last five years or so, so when COVID hit, the systems were in place and the transition was pretty smooth. For now, WFH is strongly recommended, although some people go to the office occasionally, either because WFH is less than ideal for them or because their jobs require it. Job security is also great, I can’t be laid off unless my employer decides to eliminate my position entirely and I can’t be fired without cause. My career path is also such that there’s really no room for me to advance, so there’s no pressure to do that, either.

    23. Emilitron*

      Not exactly the same, but similar for me. I’ve been at my job 7+ years, am doing fine and like it a lot. There’s about to be a promotion available at work, and I’ve been encouraged to apply for it. While there are aspects of the new role that are interesting, and it would pay more (at least marginally), the additional responsibility would probably mean longer hours and more stress. Especially pre-covid when I had social activities, I was a very busy person after-hours, and I wouldn’t want to be the kind of person who says no to things because I have to work late. My overachiever brain is having a really hard time not wanting a promotion, but it’s not something that I genuinely believe would make my life better in any way. It makes me wish my brain had not been programmed to be an overachiever, I’d be happier without those particular dopamine receptors.

  12. Joanne*

    Have you ever handled something in a way that was unprofessional, but did resolve the issue?
    A while back, I (young woman) had to train an older man who was close to retirement on some new web processes that he was completely uninterested in learning. Cue lots of eye rolling, exasperated sighs, etc.
    Finally I said “Now I know what it’s like to have a teenage kid!” Which drew laughter and some needling from the other guys in the office, and he cut back on the attitude.

    1. Kes*

      Honestly… that’s hilarious, and probably got the message through far more effectively than other ‘more professional’ options.
      As long as you said in a kind of lighthearted, joking manner, as a one-off, I don’t think that’s a huge deal. If you said it super sarcastically or were continually poking fun at him that would be different, but it sounds like it came across as intended.

    2. OyHiOh*

      IT tech has chosen to make our internet service provider his molehill to die on.

      We’ve got an upgrade installation scheduled, with the company we’re on a multi year contract with. When I called IT to inquire about his availability during the installation time, he went on a quest about how we really should consider his preferred, different company instead, complete with email forwards from Preferred Company rep, which IT had initiated. There are a couple of reasons why that company isn’t a good choice right now.

      I gave him the 30 second version of why we won’t consider Preferred Company right now. “Knowing that, do you prefer to be in the office or available by phone?”

      I didn’t realize I’d used my “mom” voice on him until my boss mentioned it while with thanking me for getting an answer out of IT.

    3. EnfysNest*

      I snapped at a coworker a few months ago when he was complaining that “this mask stuff is getting out of hand” because our facility (note: we work for a hospital!) had someone walking halls to check that everyone had their masks on. I went off on him and I’ll admit I did raise my voice, and I know it was unprofessional, but I was tired of constantly patiently explaining all the reasons masks are important for him just to continue to make light of the situation. He hasn’t said anything since then, so although I know I can’t let myself raise my voice again at work, my outburst did seem to leave some sort of an impact (not sure I actually changed his mind, of course, but at least he knows not to make that kind of comment around me).

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      First, what you said was brilliant and on point. Well done. No points subtracted.
      I will share with you Murphy’s Second Law of Combat: If it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid.

      My unprofessional but effective story? Co-worker monologued all day, every day. If you got sucked into a conversation, you were doomed, but even if you didn’t, he just kept going on and on and on about everything. (Bonus: politically, he was as far right of center as I was to the left.)
      One day, he mused “oh look, my prescription is ready at the pharmacy.”
      I replied “Just remember, if it lasts more than four hours, get help.”
      He shut up after that.

    5. allathian*

      Cool! Sounds like it worked in your environment. You got what you needed from him and the peer pressure from the guys in the office probably helped as well. I don’t think a cheerful, one off comment like this was unprofessional, but if you had been sarcastic or gossiped in the break room about how hopeless it was to teach Fergus anything or said something about how you wished he’d retire already so that you’d get out of teaching him, that would have been unprofessional.

  13. Nacho*

    Have you guys ever heard of a salaried customer service gig? I’ve got a final interview for a new job this afternoon, but a few things are sending up major red flags. This’ll be the third interview I’ve had in 3 days, and that’s been enough for them to narrow down the candidates to only a few. The company’s really small, less than 20, and I’d be the only one in the entire company doing the customer service, and it’ll be salaried instead of hourly. The glassdoor reviews are mixed, and a lot of them mention below market pay and high turnover.

    Am I being overly-worried, or are these causes for concern?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I was in a customer service role that was salaried, but there are a few caveats to that — my role was explicitly different than the “regular” CS reps (I was more focused on online reviews/Q&A and bigger projects) and it wasn’t a traditional call center environment.

      If I were you, I’d ask a lot of questions – are you taking calls? Answering emails? How high a volume? Is there a strict schedule? Do you have any backup? Make sure you really know what you’d be getting into.

    2. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Have you looked up FLSA laws on whether this type of customer service position can be salaried/exempt? I did a quick google and it’s not cut and dry, but this is definitely something regulated by labor laws rather than whatever suits the company. Together with the other things you mentioned, you are right to at least be on alert…

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      With the exception of the potentially below-market pay (which you will of course confirm during negotiations) and the potentially high turnover, I’m not sure what you’re seeing as red flags here.

      Three interviews is maybe on the high end for a customer service role, but within the range of normal. A small company may not be your preference, but it’s not inherently problematic. Being salaried instead of hourly is only a problem if it’s in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which it could be, of course, but nothing you’ve shared suggests that it is).

      What is it that you’re worried about?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Three in three days gives me “churn and burn” vibes – I used to work at a law firm that hired like this with client services specialists, and that firm was a dumpster fire of dysfunction and unprofessionalism.

        2. Esmeralda*

          They may know what they want. Why not hire quickly if they can? As a search committee chair, if I could do that I would (higher ed in the US, never gonna happen).

    4. Littorally*

      I believe there are both minimum pay tests and job duties tests for whether you should be properly classified as exempt. I’d check those against your job description to see if it’s fishy.

      Another thing to keep an eye on is that some companies phrase things weirdly. You can be described as “salaried” while still being treated as non-exempt and earning overtime pay. Basically there it’s just window dressing and how they phrase things. If they’re strictly using “salaried” language it might be worthwhile to check in on that too.

    5. Kes*

      I mean, others have spoken to the salaried part, but I would take the high turnover as a flag and know that if you take it you may end up wanting to leave soon for the same reasons, whether that’s just the low pay or whether there are other aspects as well. Depending on your current situation it may or may not be worth it to take the job, but even if you do I would consider your exit plan, whether you want to continue your job search, etc

    6. Kiitemso*

      I have worked a salaried customer service role. It was very varied and contained a lot of learning and honestly in my particular office it was an underpaid overworked position with crappy bosses (overworked because they put tasks on me they should have done themselves and me and my very recently hired colleague had no idea those tasks weren’t meant for us). I got out but stayed with the company in another salaried role that contained more admin, better workload and a small pay bump.

      I’d be worried about coverage if you’re the only one in your position, even just a team of two means that if one person is on lunch, another can pick up the phone. I’d ask about workload and coverage, to be honest.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      My company actually has a lot of salaried customer support / customer service roles. They generally work a 40-hour week with a shift of 8-5 or the second shift of 4-12. That said, I’m sure that on occasion they may need to stay over a little beyond, such as if they’re stuck in the middle of a call, but mainly it’s 8 hour days.
      I would ask a lot of questions about the work day, what a typical shift is, and how they handle overtime if you have to stay longer if it’s needed, and on average how often that kind of thing happens.

      1. Anonymous*

        I can answer at least one of those questions: It’s exempt, which I’m pretty sure isn’t kosher based on the job listing.

    8. GothicBee*

      My last job was customer service and was salaried before the overtime changes (they switched us to hourly at the same pay rate before they ever went into effect to be safe). If you’re the only one doing customer service, you should definitely get an idea of how many customers you’re going to be handling on a daily basis. I’d be concerned that you might need to work a lot of overtime to handle the volume.

      As far as the speed of interviews, I’d bet that their previous customer service staff member quit or left and they need someone ASAP unless you know otherwise. Could definitely be a red flag, so maybe you could ask why the previous person left. Did they quit on the spot? Get promoted? Give notice but the company dragged their feet on hiring?

      Only one customer service position would definitely give me pause. Unless they’re a really small company that doesn’t get many interactions with customers, I’d be worried at how much work you’d be expected to do and if you’d be treated badly for calling out sick or taking a vacation.

    9. ...*

      Yeah I have and it was a great choice for me! I also now manage salaried customer service employees and they dont have to work any overtime they work 40 hours a week. Ask about their timekeeping process and the average day.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      Yes, I am in one such role. I do “regular” customer service, but I also do some contracts and vendor bids.
      Customer service by the nature of the job tends to be high turnover, I think.

    11. lemon*

      I’ve worked at 3 different companies where I was the only customer service person. Only one of them was salaried and exempt, but I also did other work in addition to CS in that role. So, it’s definitely possible to have an exempt CS role. If you’re the only person doing CS in the company, it’s more likely you’ll be using more independent judgment, which is one of the main areas the FLSA duties test focuses on (you can google the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #17C for more info). My main concern with a role like this is that they’re making the role salaried to avoid paying overtime (which is a sign that there *is* lots of overtime). As another commenter noted, it can be really hard to take vacation, too. It was super annoying to take time off only to come back to an inbox full of angry emails from customers because no one else knew how to do my job. So definitely ask really specific questions about workload and the typical hours you’d be working.

  14. SleepyAndTired*

    I just had questions about covid and starting a new job.

    I’ll be working in a small office. Most of the employees are spread out in a big space, but there are two desks right at the front door where clients who go to the wrong building enter, and where employees from other buildings who need to drop off paperwork throughout the day enter. One of the desks has the plexiglass barrier around it, but the other one doesn’t, which is where I’d be sitting. I didn’t see anyone wearing masks when I went for an interview, though the hiring manager said the person at the plexiglass desk sometimes hangs a mask on her ear and puts it on when people come in.

    I’m immuocompromised, and live with people who are high risk. Would it be reasonable to ask if I can get the plexiglass barrier too? (The hiring manager mentioned that getting them ruins the desks and that they will have to be taken down eventually, so I’m not sure she’d be happy about it, and as a new hire I’m not sure I should be asking for anything extra.) Would it be strange if I ask if I can wear a mask while working the entire day? (I’m worried people would think it was offensive or something…Would explaining my medical condition to coworkers make it more understandable?)

    1. ThatGirl*

      I don’t think asking for a plexiglass barrier is unreasonable. I also don’t think you should ASK if you can wear a mask – you should just wear it. Because you’re out in public and the pandemic hasn’t gone away.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. You’re not asking for an accommodation for the sake of convenience. You’re asking for it for the sake of your health and the health of those with whom you live. And no one should feel like they have to ask to wear a mask.

        1. Kes*

          Agreed. I get it feels risky to ask when you’re new and haven’t built up much capital, but your health is important and I would prioritize that. And agreed with ThatGirl that I wouldn’t even ask about wearing a mask, I just would, because of course you would in an indoor public space while a pandemic is going on. And hopefully that may even set a good example for others

    2. Annony*

      Considering the other desk has one, I don’t think it is an unreasonable ask. They should be able to either put up a barrier or switch desks with someone who doesn’t care. And I think you are completely fine wearing as mask all day. Asking others to wear a mask probably won’t go well, but it would be weird for them to take offense at you wearing one.

    3. Reba*

      If one desk already has it, I see no argument against doing the other one! It is extremely reasonable to ask, and to wear your mask. That said, until you know the workplace better I’d be hesitant to share medical information, not knowing how people would respond. Your concerns sort of imply something about your health, I guess. But if you can present it reasonably and cheerfully, hopefully people will just accept that’s how you are. Something like, “Because of some health concerns in my family, I just prefer to wear the mask.”

    4. Llellayena*

      I think any of your options fall under reasonable accommodations for employee health issues. It’s fuzzy whether it makes it all the way to ADA accommodations, not sure how covid risk is being categorized at the moment, but any company should be able to make adjustments like this to make you feel safe. There might be a more temporary plexi barrier you can use (like a folding panel that stays up on it’s own?) and they should have NO problem if you wear a mask all day. That’s along the lines of “I’m going to wear a scarf as an accessory today!”. Unless it’s forbidden in the dress code (and due to current health regulations, I don’t think they’d be allowed to do that) wearing a mask should be fine.

      Basically “my family and I have health issues that make us more susceptible to covid. Can I get a plexi barrier around my desk, given where my desk is located? I would also be willing to wear a mask all day, but I’d prefer the barrier” new or not, this should be fine.

    5. Kara S*

      I wouldn’t explain the medical condition and would just ask for the barrier + wear a mask as you like. What you saw during the interview indicated the company isn’t taking things as seriously as you would need so it is a good idea to take those steps yourself and minimize risk.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If they’re focused on the desk, maybe they can hang them from the ceiling as done at some of the big box stores near here.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Trying to add a second suggestion, the extra security is flagging me as spam.
        Free-standing glass panels, aka “sneeze barrier”.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      They could also try a free-standing plexiglass wall, sometimes called a ‘sneeze guard’ . (Fingers crossed that I can get this follow-up comment to post…the new security thinks I’m spam probably because I included an Amazon link.)

  15. Smeralda*

    How much enthusiasm should a new hire show for tedious tasks?
    I’m training this dude who it’s his first job out of college and he’s been brought on specifically to help me with my workload.
    So, I told him something I’ve needed to do for a while is cleanup a set of spreadsheets. There’s about 25 spreadsheets that need to be standardized / cleaned of useless metrics and I haven’t done it because I have pressing higher-level work.
    I explained to him that it would be a very high value task and he audibly groaned and was like “wow fun.” Bad sign?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. He thought he was going to waltz in as a new grad and get to do specialist type work? Lol, the delusions.

    1. Annony*

      How much of the job is going to be tasks like this? If most of the job is going to be tedious tasks then it probably is a sign he won’t be happy in this job. If the job will include some higher level tasks then I think it is fine so long as he does a good job. Enthusiasm about cleaning up spreadsheets may be a bit much to expect.

    2. hmmmm*

      If it is his first job he might have unrealistic expectations. Everyone, including higher ups, has that grunt work they have to do. Everyone at some point in their career has to pay their dues doing the grunt work. This new hire might have thought they would be starting with more “meat and potatos” tasks not realizing they have to climb their way up.

      Also could “wow fun” be an dry attempt at humor / cracking a joke? Maybe he was trying to say something to break the ice and get to know you personally, like gosh this is a dreaded task.

      I’d say at least for the first few weeks give a little leeway, but if the “attitude” continues maybe you or someone could have a chat with him, ask how things are going, etc.

      1. Esmeralda*

        I’d have a talk with him about it. May have unrealistic expectations. May not know professional norms. May not realize how he’s coming across. I wouldn’t wait a couple weeks, either, do it soon, for his sake.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup. It would be a kindness to tell him now how he’s coming across before someone higher up does (or he’s let go).

    3. SleepyAndTired*

      I don’t think anyone needs to have *enthusiasm* for tedious tasks, but it seems really immature and unprofessional to groan and be sarcastic about them.

      I’ve been given “boring” and “tedious” tasks before and I just did them without complaint. I’m happy to do something productive and I’m being paid to do the work, so no reason to act like it’s a burden.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, there’s no need for him to fistpump and yell “alrighty, let’s get to it, woohoo” but he absolutely needs to restrain his annoyance about a task that doesn’t suit him.

      2. Kiitemso*

        Yeah, my ExBoss used to love sending me blank Excels with instructions on what info to copy/paste into them and how to format them. It was very tedious but I did it without complaint and my only reply to her was usually to ask how quickly I should finish, end of the week, end of month or what.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Bad, but early enough that it’s not necessarily uncorrectable. If you check in on his progress and he’s whiny about it again, I would say something like, “I know it’s not the most exciting task, but none of us has the option of just working on the exciting stuff, and this really is necessary. Doing necessary work–even if it’s tedious–without complaint is something that will earn you the respect and appreciation of your managers and coworkers in the course of your career, and they’ll be more likely to give you the more exciting projects when they come up as you learn more. Complaining about it will have the opposite effect.”

    5. Joielle*

      He definitely needs to adjust his attitude. I dealt with this a few times when I was pretty early in my career and training interns or very new employees. I think they primarily saw me as “another young person” and weren’t used to acting more formally in an office setting. For most, one slightly stern comment helped them realize that this isn’t college anymore and we’re not mutually grousing about a boring class or something. Be gentle but firm – “I understand this isn’t an exciting task, but it’s important to this project and it needs to be done well.”

      1. Marthooh*

        Yes, this sounded to me more like collegial grousing than entitled whining, so not really a bad sign. Tell him everyone has to do the the tedious stuff occasionally, and it’s unprofessional to complain about normal job duties.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      It depends on tone — if he was just kind of joking this strikes me as fine. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be really enthusiastic about this, so it could have just been a joke, not a complaint.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I could see myself saying jokingly that a task like this sounds like fun, although it depends how he said it. I would wait and see how he actually does on the task and how his attitude is in general, and then have a conversation if needed about negative attitude and/or willingness to do tedious tasks if needed. If he does a good job and has a positive attitude in general though, I wouldn’t worry about him expressing jokingly that he’s not excited about it, given that it doesn’t really sound like a task most people would be excited about.

    7. SomehowIManage*

      I think you should have a direct conversation with him about professionalism.

      He doesn’t have to fake enthusiasm but he does need to fake neutral expressions. Also, in every mundane task lies the opportunity to automate it or make it more value added.

      In my first job, I was frustrated by the mundane nature of the work. I was a glorified mail clerk. But I was grateful for the job so looked for ways to document procedures, worked with the shipping company to automate what I could, and showed that I could earn my way to more interesting work. I got that new work within 2 months of starting.

    8. Kara S*

      Yes, bad sign. The entry level people I worked with that ended up being the most promising were the ones that were excited to learn and take on any tasks they could get.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      One instance of an off the cuff remark? I don’t see a big deal. It’s a normal human reaction. I would simply have acknowledged that it’s not the most desireable task in the world but you/the department/ the company really need to have this fixed.

      Then I would wait to see if it happens again. I do keep count. When I see something three times, I mention it to the person.

      But this is one time and it’s a very brief remark. So I would carry on in a manner that says I expect to see the work getting done.

    10. Generic Name*

      Yikes. Hopefully he just had a bad day? I gave a similarly tedious task to one of our new junior staffers, and her response was “thanks for the work!” and asked if I had any other tasks she could help out on. I agree it’s a bad sign.

    11. Barb*

      I would tell him directly, not to verbalize if he doesn’t want to do something — he’s a professional, not a student, and you’re senior to him. You shouldn’t have to deal with that.

    12. allathian*

      Well, because it’s his first job out of college it would be a kindness if you could coach him on professional norms. Let him know that this isn’t like joking around with his cohorts in college about a tedious assignment, but that at work he’s expected to do any task you assign him. He shouldn’t have to fake enthusiasm for a tedious routine task, but if he can do it without complaint and do it well, he’s more likely to get more interesting assignments in future. Or at least to keep his job…

  16. Annony*

    I have already reached BEC stage with my new coworker and I need some advice on how to give unbiased feedback to my boss when asked. He has worked here for less than a month and is constantly telling people that they are wrong when they are not. It is exhausting. I will have the same conversation with him multiple times trying to explain why we do things the way we do and he will keep insisting his way is better. I explain why it isn’t better and it just doesn’t sink in. He then has the exact same conversation with our boss.

    He has a higher job title than me and more experience in the broader field but we report to the same boss and he doesn’t have any experience in our subspecialty. My boss had already made it clear that he has no authority over me or my project so normally I would just try to “stay in my lane” and ignore the issues, but my boss isn’t here (working remotely) and has noticed some of the same problems as I have so she asks me for my impressions and updates on how it is going.

    At this point I dread coming into work and have started shifting my hours to get more time alone. He does have some valuable expertise and has had some good suggestions, but he talks just as authoritatively when he knows what he is talking about and when he has no clue what he is talking about. It is making it hard to know when to take him seriously.

    I’m not planning on bringing any of this up unprompted, but what do I say when she asks my impression again? I want to be fair and I feel like some of the things that are driving me up a wall I really wouldn’t mind from other people. When we aren’t talking about work he is actually a nice guy but it is like a switch is flipped as soon as we are in work mode.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I am confused by your desire to give “unbiased” feedback. The feedback that the new coworker isn’t listening and is telling people that they are wrong isn’t “biased” — it’s true information that the boss needs to have about how the person is performing (or not). We worry about bias in feedback when we dislike someone for reasons that aren’t work related (they love Star Wars, and I’m a Star Trek gal) (they dated my brother and it didn’t end well)(I just can’t stand redheads).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In situations like this to me “unbiased” means without cussing. He sounds super annoying and perhaps detremental to the work effort in the long run.

    2. Dave*

      Since you boss will be asking and seems to notice the same thing, I would honestly note that you have started shifting your hours to avoid this person so you have time to get work done and focus. I worked with this guy and it was the longest year of my life; try to nip it in the bud early.

    3. WellRed*

      Stop engaging in these circular conversations for starters. I also don’t understand why you can’t just “stay in your lane” regardless of whether your boss is there or not.

      1. Threeve*

        Yeah, it’s not always easy but I would practice politely disengaging.

        “Well, this is the system I’m going to use right now. Sorry, I’m on a time crunch this morning.”

        “It doesn’t sound like you found my last explanation very convincing, but I think we’ve already traded suggestions for this.”

        “I think I’ve explained the ‘how,’ and the ‘why’ is really a question for Boss.”

        1. Annony*

          I think I will try this. It feels rude to disengage but it is turning into an unproductive time suck.

      2. Annony*

        Normally if someone is difficult to work with I keep my opinion to myself. I don’t have that option this time.

        1. Kes*

          I mean it sounds like he is having an impact on your ability to do your work, both because of the distraction and timesuck of these circular conversations with him and because you’re at the point of shifting your work to avoid him. This is important information for your boss to know so they can resolve the issue and enable you to get your work done. In this case it sounds like your boss is already picking up on the issues and asking you for your impression, and I think you’ll be doing everyone a disservice if you aren’t honest with your boss about the situation. Unbiased doesn’t mean you can’t talk about issues, it just means you should stick more to the facts – that your coworker continually challenges you and others on processes, even after you’ve explained the background and reasons for it, that you find it distracting, and that you’re at the point of taking steps to avoid him including shifting your work hours. Your boss can then draw their own conclusions from this and take the necessary actions to resolve the situation.
          As others have suggested I would stop engaging in conversations with him that you’ve already had before – consider that your company would likely prefer you focus on getting your work done than on unproductive debates with him

          1. Crabby Patty*

            I think Kes has the right idea.

            The way to be objective is to let your boss know the ways in which, and the extent to which, he impacts your work. For starters, he sounds like an energy vampire taking you away from your work (‘though I would not phrase it that way, but you get the idea). I’d start taking notes with that single phrase in mind: impact on my work.

    4. WFH with Cat*

      If she specifically asked you to watch the new co-worker and give her your impressions of how he works, and it’s been a month, I think you should offer her a brief update: He appears to do X, X and X well. He seems to have a depth of knowledge in X and X. He appears to believe that he already knows our business and has, on some occasions, told people they were wrong about something when they were not; additionally, he did not respond well we people tried to explain existing policies and procedures, and seems to want to dig in his heels about being the expert. Give her 3 good examples of that behavior.

      Then I would try to draw a (polite) line in the sand: “I hope this information is useful. With X, X and X projects on my plate, I’ll be concentrating on those going forward.” Assume that you are no longer supposed to expend energy and time on this issue and re-focus on your own work. If she needs more info, she should ask for it … but I hope she will take other steps to manage this guy and not over-rely on you.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      So here is what I would do.

      “Boss as you are aware when we process widgets our process is ABC. Bob wants to do XYZ. I told him we do ABC here. It was a 20 minute discussion on how ABC is better. This happens multiple times a day, every day and with more than one person. I am exhausted and I dread coming to work. I have started shifting my hours away from Bob.
      I have more examples of the same behaviors if you need more examples.”

  17. Eleanor*

    I’m hiring new staff and will begin phone interviews next week. If the phone interview goes well I’ll do a more formal virtual interview. What types of things do you guys listen for in that initial phone interview? What do you ask?

    1. Ali G*

      For me phone interviews are to make sure we are on the same page regarding the job description, salary, hours, location, etc. and to ask about anything that’s odd or questionable in the resume (so if it’s a deal breaker we don’t waste time). Maybe if they seem like a strong candidate, I might ask about their timeline for a starting a new job. I typically don’t get into a real interview, unless there is something unique with the job or applicant that I want to address before moving anyone on.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Agreed– the initial phone screen is to just make sure that you are both on the same page about what the job is, what experience/job or people skills are CRITICAL and whether they think they have it, basic salary expectations. For example, I have had screening interviews where they emphasized that while the job includes X, Y and Z, it is mostly X so we all need to be sure that that is a fit. I’ve also had phone screens where they have been candid that their salary cap is really low, so it didn’t make sense to keep going. It is a really basic “is this even a fit” conversation.

    3. Anonymous Hippo*

      I just use the phone screen to explain the job to them, and to dig a little further into their resume. In my line of work (Accountin) it is easy to say you were involved with something (truthfully) and yet have only skimmed the surface and/or just entered info into a system that did the thinking for you. We don’t have that set-up, nearly everything is manual, so you need to have actual experience with the process. It’s pretty easy with just a 30 minute phone call to determine how much they actually did within the processes they were involved with. Someone usually asks a couple basic questions like how do you book a sale, and when is an expense accounted for.

      So usually about about half them telling me about their experiences, and half me explaining the job (with time for their questions) for an hour call.

    4. Cassidy*

      I like asking what the applicant knows in general about the company/university/organization. I want to gauge why the person is interested in working there.

  18. Lucette Kensack*

    With the exception of the potentially below-market pay (which you will of course confirm during negotiations) and the potentially high turnover, I’m not sure what you’re seeing as red flags here.

    Three interviews is maybe on the high end for a customer service role, but within the range of normal. A small company may not be your preference, but it’s not inherently problematic. Being salaried instead of hourly is only a problem if it’s in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which it could be, of course, but nothing you’ve shared suggests that it is).

    What is it that you’re worried about?

  19. indigo64*

    I can’t believe I’m asking this- does anyone have advice on creating a video cover letter?

    My husband is applying to a job at a small company. A friend of a friend works there and says it’s a great place, albeit with a few quirks. The job posting says “video cover letters are strongly encouraged”. My husband decided he wants to submit both a “traditional” cover letter and a video. Applications need to be emailed to a generic HR inbox, so he’d either attach the video or link to some third party hosting site. Any suggestions of what to use? We don’t have a video camera apart from our phones.

    If it were any other company, he would dismiss it as too much hassle and move on, but the role and company sounds like a great fit.

    1. h.*

      Oh, I just did this last week! The job listing requested a brief introductory video. The hiring manager emailed back and said I was the only candidate (out of 39) who actually sent a video. So I do think it might help your husband stand out.

      1. Start with a script or at least an outline.
      2. Rehearse it so it feels natural, like you’re having a conversation with someone you can’t see.
      3. Keep it under or close to 90 seconds. I think I was at 1:34 on the last take.
      4. Your phone camera is fine! I used my laptop camera.
      5. Same guidelines as for a video work meeting: dress professionally, hair done, neutral background, no background noise.
      6. Look at the CAMERA, not the screen. (This is hard!)
      7. I used my Gmail account to create a YouTube channel, and posted it there as Private (or unsearchable – not sure what the exact setting is, but so the link can’t be found by search but can be shared.) Included the link in the email.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

    2. Hmmm*

      You can make a great video with your phone. I work in marketing and create all of our videos for YouTube and social media on my iPhone. The most important thing is that the phone stays stable and still. Sure, a tripod would be perfect, but you can usually use a stack of books to get the job done. If you have a Mac I strongly recommend using iMovie to edit it; add in a title slide, transitions, etc. I think it’s pretty user-friendly, in my opinion. There must be other options that are just as simple but I am not sure!
      And of course the normal rules of video apply: make sure he’s in a well-lit room, no distractions, etc. And check that the sound is good – he shouldn’t be far enough away from the phone that it will cause a problem, but it is worth checking!

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      This is absurd. I would not apply to work at this company. If they want to see/hear your husband, they can interview him like normal.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Vet the background carefully, looking for things you wouldn’t have on a desk at work, and glossy furniture reflecting the same.

    5. lemon*

      If you don’t have a camera, you can still make a video! You can use PowerPoint to create slides and record some narration into a video, so it can be voice only. Adobe Spark is also great for this, and super easy to use and free last I checked.

  20. Flaxseed*

    I applied for a position and the company sent 2 emails and left me a voicemail to schedule an interview all in 1 day! (I had a medical appointment, so I couldn’t respond right away.) This is a little excessive, no? Also, they have no reviews on Glassdoor, which is odd, right? I don’t know- it makes me uneasy.

    1. Jen MaHRtini*

      I’d call it a yellow flag, see what the rest of the communication is like. It’s common for recruiters to email and call in case the candidate has a preference, and it’s easy to accidentally email twice when working from a list.

  21. conservationist*

    I am so frustrated by some of my customers, but I can’t tell if I’m being unreasonable. I work for a water utility that recently adopted an aggressive tiered rate structure to encourages people to use less water. The top tier is very expensive, but you can only reach it by being truly wasteful. Because this is their first year with this rate structure we wanted to offer a waiver on the condition that they agree to make changes so it doesn’t happen again. They apply for the waiver online.

    Most people are very grateful because it is saving them hundreds of dollars, but I am getting a minority of people who cannot/will not apply for the waiver online. In general I would want to be open to serving people without computer access, but I’m having trouble feeling compassion for this population. This is a very wealthy, conservative area; most people who live there pay gardeners/staff to take care of their houses and do not believe in climate change. I’m grumpy that someone who is happy to waste a precious resource can’t be bothered to ask a relative or employee to help them with this (very easy to fill out) application.

    Is this my grumpy self letting my resentment against out of touch rich people get in the way of fairness? Should we cave and let them submit paper applications?

    I do want to say that we offer many free programs to help people save water – rebates on water efficient appliances, irrigation consultations, etc.

    1. Ashley*

      If they aren’t willing to submit an online application (assuming it is truly not an accessibility issue) I can’t believe they would be bothered to send a paper application, but I can see them claiming they did it and the ‘post office lost it’ excuses.

      1. watergrrl*

        Where I work, same kind of utility, we have a customer care centre and they are able to handle these kind of programs over the phone. Might be a solution instead of paper?

    2. Cj*

      I don’t think how they fill out the application is the problem. They don’t want to fill it out, period, because they don’t want to commit to making changes in their water usage. They can afford the expensive rates, so plan to just continue to use a lot of water and pay the price.

    3. Ellen Ripley*

      I think since you’re a public utility you should have a non-online option, personally. Either a paper form or the ability to request the waiver on the phone (or in the before times, in person – maybe a computer/tablet they can use in the office to fill out the form).

      I think you need to separate your irritation about these water-wasters from the real accessibility issues involved here.

      1. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

        This ^. You are a public utility – that means you have a responsibility to serve all of the public. It has nothing to do with feeling compassion for a specific demographic. Providing multiple ways to apply for the waiver does not advantage or disadvantage one demographic over the other. Including a paper waiver with the monthly bill, as well as a way for customers to apply over the phone as well as online, would seem the way to go.

    4. Marthooh*

      Is there a reason you can’t send a paper application asking for the same information as the online site? I get that it’s more work for you that way, but since you’ll only be doing it for one year (I think?) the extra work will be limited, and it gives you a chance to identify the technophobes among your customers and communicate with them via pieces of paper instead of scary electric websites.

    5. Pam*

      These are not people who will conserve- let them take the financial hit. Hell, charge them double.

      1. Cassidy*

        ^^^THIS. The more one impacts the infrastructure and environment, the more one should have to pay for those impacts.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Have them call the home office and ask the home office to mail them a paper copy.
      There. Done.

      Seriously. I am a big believer in helping people who can’t use a computer. But it’s hard to tell those who can’t from those who won’t. Offer an alternative means to get the form but let THEM get the form by the alternative means.

      Eventually the company will sort out who wants paper and who wants online contact. The company will have to, I see plenty of people around me who have NO interest in using a computer. Businesses have to be aware of this.

    7. AP.*

      I think you should consider that if those people do fill out the form they are more likely to conserve water in the future, and that’s the end goal, isn’t it?

      I would also say that there are plenty of folks of all socioeconomic levels (and especially older folks) who may have a rudimentary knowledge of the internet and be able to check email and Facebook but they would never be able to fill out an online form. Things we would consider simple like navigating to the next item, choosing from drop down lists, verifying that you are not a robot, etc. are beyond them. It’s rather unfair to penalize them just because they can’t figure out something they haven’t needed to do in their entire life.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      I worked as a Water Efficiency Specialist at a water district with a tiered rate structure where the highest tier was generally for people who were extremely wasteful or had a leak or other issue. We also serviced a primarily well-off population. Our process was to do a “home check” where we look for leaks, run their irrigation to look for things like leaks, broken lines, broken sprinkler heads, and the like. We also reviewed the irrigation schedule programmed in their controller and made recommendations. We would then give them a plan of action and recheck their usage about a week later. If they made the changes then their usage should go down and once we verified it did go down, we would then retroactively rebill the usage in the highest tier and the regular rate. Maybe you can implement a similar system?

    9. FormerWaterGirl*

      I worked as a Water Efficiency Specialist at a water district with a tiered rate structure where the highest tier was generally for people who were extremely wasteful or had a leak or other issue. We also serviced a primarily well-off population. Our process was to do a “home check” where we look for leaks, run their irrigation to look for things like leaks, broken lines, broken sprinkler heads, and the like. We also reviewed the irrigation schedule programmed in their controller and made recommendations. We would then give them a plan of action and recheck their usage about a week later. If they made the changes then their usage should go down and once we verified it did go down, we would then retroactively rebill the usage in the highest tier and the regular rate. Maybe you can implement a similar system?

    10. Anon for this topic*

      My dad would fall into that wealthy conservative group but he is also almost completely computer illiterate and WILL NOT ask for help (pride).

      I think you definitely need to have a non computer option.

  22. Antsy*

    How much of a red flag is it when a company keeps pushing back your start date? I accepted a mid-level customer service job in mid-September that was supposed to start on Monday. Then I was told there were delays with the background checks and getting equipment shipped out so the start date needed to pushed to next week. Today I got yet another call from the recruiter telling me actually, the IT department still hasn’t gotten the equipment together for shipping (which I knew, because I don’t have it) and the start date has been pushed back yet again until the 12th.

    The recruiter was understanding when I told her this is the last time I can accept a delay like this and I’ll need to resume my job hunt if it happens again. I admit I don’t really know what’s normal here, and I’m sympathetic to the fact that COVID is causing a lot of atypical delays, but this is making a little nervous about working for this place.

    1. Construction Safety*

      I think after the first delay, I would have restarted the hunt. I would not have told the recruiter anything.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      As you pointed out – we’re in the age of Covid. I don’t think we can extrapolate anything from what’s happening with these delays to what this company will be like to work for just yet. I mean, lots of companies are having issues getting laptops and other equipment purchased and shipped to employees, especially if they didn’t already have a huge telework contingent in the first place. Then the background check people could have been ill or in situations where they had to socially distance or work from home and don’t have access to the tools they need to get things completed timely – it’s hard to say right now.

      That being said, you absolutely should resume your job search while you wait. If they have to extend the start date again, you’ll at least have a head start on other job applicants.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I wouldn’t have told the recruiter anything. You should be searching for other jobs– even though delays are normal right now, it’s entirely possible that this job may not exist.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        TL/DR: Always keep up your search until your first day at the new job. Otherwise it takes too long to fill the pipeline if the job falls through. (And don’t tell any place the other places you’re applying – it’s none of their business).

        Years ago I accepted a contract but the start date kept getting pushed ahead, with lots of excuses: the manager was on vacation, they had ordered me a computer and wanted to get it all set up before I started, etc. This went on for weeks until the contract agency called me and said “ The company just did their end-of-quarter books and realized that they can’t afford to hire anybody at this time”.

        Years later, during a job search after a lay-off, my state’s unemployment agency required documentation of a set number of job search activities per week.

        The “advisor” said that job seekers should continue doing this even after accepting a new job, right up to the point when the new job started – that is, your first day in the office (this was pre-covid). We all heard stories of people who had signed offer letters but the job fell through. The most egregious of these was someone who accepted the offer letter and relocated his family across the country, only to be caught in a company-wide “right-sizing” (disgusting term) the first day in the office.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          The “advisor” said that job seekers should continue doing this even after accepting a new job, right up to the point when the new job started

          People think I’m crazy for doing this every time I start a new job, so I’m glad to be validated like this, lol.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      You should resume your job hunt now, and continue to work with the recruiter. Only after you accept another job offer would I tell the recruiter you’re giving up on the company who has offered you the job.

      I wouldn’t normally say this, but times are tough and jobs are tight. Since they’re not holding up their end of the promised start date – twice now – you need to take care of yourself.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t think 2-3 weeks is a huge thing right now given all the COVID delays and things just moving more slowly in general, and it sounds like the two push dates do have a reasonable explanation. But if you find the start date is now pushing past the 1 month mark, it’s also reasonable to remove yourself from the job. I’m not clear, but did your start date also reflect YOUR 2 week notice? Or were you available immediately mid-September?

  23. Anonymously Anonymous*

    I don’t want to reveal too many details about this situation, but over the summer I was harassed online by a colleague who was working off-site. It really messed with my mind. While the harrassment wasn’t violent or threatening or even THAT persistent, it was enough to freak me out. (One thing my colleague did was send an “anonymous” complaint about me to our supervisors via one of our social media accounts). There’s nothing that can “prove” this person did it definitively, but some of the details in the complaint are VERY specific things only this person would know. It’s definitely strange, but due to the anonymity of it, it cannot be proved this person did it and they can’t be disiplined as a result.

    I know that management here feels that their hands are tied. My supervisor is furious that they can’t properly discipline this person.

    Anyway, this person is returning to work 1-month before my contract here ends (it’s been a great position, but I’m glad to get away from this person).

    How am I supposed to handle this? I’m cringing at being in the same room as this person. Ever. What worries me the most is how to pretend this DIDN’T happen. This person doesn’t know that I know it was them. How am I supposed to look them in the face and pretend that they… didn’t do this? Any advice?

    1. Ashley*

      I can’t believe there can’t be some ips tracing or help from the social media host for harassment. One thing I would ask the boss for help with is never being in the same room alone and not being left in the building alone with this person. After that for me it would be a countdown mindset. Only X more days; six more hours and I get to go home; etc.

      1. Anonymously Anonymous*

        Yes, that’s one thing I am going to bring up with our supervisor soon. Initially (before this all started), we were going to overlap and work in the same office area. However, I’m being moved to a different department that has a busier office space. His reasoning is that there are a ton of witnesses down there (if this person seeks me out, somehow). That way there’s not a chance of us being alone in the other workspace — with no witnesses.

        1. WellRed*

          Your supervisor isn’t handling this great. And I hate when companies hide behind “no proof” excuses as a reason why they can’t take action,

        2. valentine*

          His reasoning is that there are a ton of witnesses down there (if this person seeks me out, somehow).
          If your employer were willing to fire the harasser, they could do so at any time. They don’t need proof. (Unless you’re in a country that has strict protocol, in which case, all of this goes double.) As you’re leaving in a month, it’s easier for both your employer and colleagues to choose him over you. Your employer is keeping him on for a reason and your colleagues can’t count on being free of him should they report anything he does to you.

          You’re playing with fire. Maybe part of you thinks maybe it wasn’t that bad, because, surely, your employer would have done more if it were that bad. Trust your gut and cut your losses. Get out before he returns.

          Ask whether they can keep him away for another month, but pay attention to signs of reluctance. You don’t want to have them agree, only to turn around and claim they forgot or he was only there for a meeting or to say hello or to pick up a sock he urgently needed. Can your job be done off-site? If yes, to work in a different location (such as home!). If no, ask for tasks you can do off-site for your remaining time.

          Consider calling your local police and possibly the police where the harassment originated to see if it’s something they’d be willing to look into. (If he was out of state, I think it would be a federal crime, just as it would be if it were over the phone.) If nothing else, they can advise you on physical safety. But don’t downplay the threat (such as by saying he wouldn’t be violent) or your fear or concern, even if they don’t appear to share it.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Because I don’t know how you’re contracted, this is possibly not relevant.
      If you are working through a temp agency, often the “contract” is actually between the agency & the client. They agree to locate & send a qualified person to the jobsite. When I was temping, I was allowed to request a change of assignments from the agency, and I didn’t need a reason or a full two-week lead time. I was allowed to look for a permanent position and that would be an acceptable reason to leave before end of contract. In a case of harassment, the agency *wanted* to know because if it’s bad enough they will protect their contractors by not sending people to that location.
      I’m glad to hear that your supervisor is changing your work location, but if you’re through an agency it’s worth checking what their policy is about getting replaced early.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So did the harassment stop when the person left the workplace?

      The devil is in the details. I would print out the messages, or at least print out the worst of the messages. (I am surprised they can’t be traced to an IP address…. must be wireless?) Then I’d wait. Any new messages that come up, I’d print those out too and look for common threads. One immediate common thread you would have is that someone is posting to coincide with this guy’s leaving and coming back.

      Another thought I had was to have your supervisor reply to the harassing comment and order the anonymous coward to stop. Perhaps he can cite the company policy regarding harassment and state that such behavior is not tolerated and may lead to dismissal for the harassing employee.

      Honestly, I would not pretend it did not happen. If I had to interact with them I would be excessively brief. I’d be chilly.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have a one-on-one with my boss on Monday. Everyone at my level has one scheduled. These are intended to talk about our happiness and our personal development and growth with the company.

    I am writing down everything I want to say because I am afraid that if I am completely honest, I will a) start screaming out of frustration (I exaggerate, but I’m frustrated!), or b) get laid off. I have been assured that our team is not going to be laid off (some junior people were let go last week), and that’s a relief, but I am actively looking because I am so miserably unhappy. One of my senior colleagues has begged me to tell the truth because if I don’t, nothing will change. Well, I’m not confident that anything will actually change.

    And if he asks me if I’m looking for another job? I can’t answer that honestly. I can say that people have reached out to me with opportunities, and I can say that it would be tough to turn down a good offer… but I just had a third round interview and I’m certainly not passive about this. We’ve had pay cuts. Work is slow. I feel underutilized, underappreciated, and disrespected. My growth is being thwarted by a colleague who refuses to delegate or collaborate and to whom the company caters to a degree I find very troubling.

    I also feel like I’m in a very strange position because my interviews have been going well but I don’t have an offer, and without an offer I cannot say that I’m leaving or planning to leave or thinking about leaving. I wish I could, to help save someone else’s job, but I just can’t right now.

    I think I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to focus on things that are “nice to haves” and forget that I’m answering, “How can we keep you?” because they can’t. But I won’t tell him that. What would you do in my position?

    1. Reba*

      if asked directly about looking for a new job, could you just say something vague about “it’s an uncertain time blah blah blah.” I mean, if there have been pay cuts they cannot be shocked if people are looking to leave.

      I think your attitude is right — you can be honest about some things but you don’t owe them total candor. For issues like “underutilized, underappreciated, and disrespected” — “I would like to have grow my responsibilities because I have skills I feel could be applied more.”

      Good luck!

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      “One of my senior colleagues has begged me to tell the truth because if I don’t, nothing will change.”
      “Well, I’m not confident that anything will actually change.”
      AvonLady Barksdale – I think your instinct here is correct. The senior colleague is hoping a shockingly truthful review or exit interview will be the catalyst of change, but it won’t be. That only happens in TV or movies. Best wishes for your job search!

      1. irene adler*

        I concur on this!
        Whenever someone quits at my place of employment, someone* starts rumors that other employees are interviewing at Company X or Company Y. And they make sure management hears those rumors.

        Doesn’t change a thing.
        (No, not me. It’s the production manager. He’s always complaining about wages.)

    3. Handwashing Hero*

      I mean no offense and not to scare you but junior people let go last week? Pay cuts and slow work? Those one-on-ones are likely layoffs or restructuring moves.

      Just because you’ve been assured that’s not the case is not comforting. You have meetings on Monday. There is never a time when you ask about layoffs that the powers that be will say “yep, that’s what the meetings Monday are for. See you Monday!”

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m not offended, and I get that. Just trust me when I say I’m pretty sure that won’t happen, mostly according to some behind-the-scenes conversations I’ve had with some very involved and trustworthy people.

        Restructuring would be really great, but that definitely won’t happen. Too small.

    4. Sherm*

      I would not mention that people have reached out with opportunities. If your current employer needs to lay off more people, they might think “Well, AvonLady Barksdale already has a lead on a job search, so it will be less painful for her to let her go.”

      Overall, if your instinct tells you that you will be punished for expressing your frustrations, I’d be tight-lipped for sure.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      One of my senior colleagues has begged me to tell the truth because if I don’t, nothing will change. Well, I’m not confident that anything will actually change.

      Bad advice. Speak up and something will change–for you, and for the negative. Just keep interviewing on the down low.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      One of my senior colleagues has begged me to tell the truth because if I don’t, nothing will change.
      Never be the one who acts as the sacrificial lamb!! That way only leads to ruin!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Him: Are you looking for another job?
      You: Well, I do serious think about it from time to time. [Skip the part about how you seriously act on it from time to time.]

      Him: How can we keep you?
      You: I’d like assignments that would help me to grow. [Keep it real simple. Do not expand on why you don’t have those assignments. You can respond to anything he says with, “Oh. I see.”, because you do actually see.]

      Do NOT feel guilty about your lies of omission here. He has a much larger set of lies of omission. Don’t worry about it.

    8. Blue Eagle*

      This happened to my cousin once and he said when asked if he was looking for another job replied – “now you’ve got me worried, should I be looking?”
      So, go with a nonanswer that puts the onus back on them.

  25. LibrarianJ*

    TL;DR advice for redirecting folks who call me by an unwanted nickname, especially in the virtual environment? Or, should I get over it?

    I work in higher ed (in a position where I work with students, but am not faculty and do not have a PhD). I have a persistent issue with both students and faculty calling me by a nickname without my consent — a shortened version of my name, so think Becky if my name is Rebecca (not my real name). Becky is some folks’ real name, but it is not my name, and I go by Becky only with intimate friends and family. In all other situations, I prefer to go by Rebecca or Mrs. Lastname, I introduce myself as Rebecca Lastname and I sign my e-mails as such. Being called Becky in this context is a pet peeve of mine and I am at BEC stage with it, particularly because it often comes from students, often male students, and with a level of informality that I’m not comfortable with. I look young for my age and have spent much of my career in a constant uphill battle for respect and to maintain appropriate boundaries with students, and that is undoubtedly feeding into my irritation.

    In the past I have had tried redirecting, “Just FYI – I prefer to be called Rebecca, thanks!” This sometimes works and sometimes does not; I also worry that it interferes with my job, which is largely to create a safe environment for students to ask questions without feeling judged. In the virtual environment where students have no opportunity to interact with me in-person, even verbal interactions feel stilted, and students are mostly angry and/or stressed with my employer all of the time, I am especially struggling with how to handle this, or whether to handle this, without tone being misconstrued.

    Two notes: (1) I acknowledge that this situation is not remotely on par with individuals whose names are mispronounced or erased based on their ethnic background, identity, etc. — part of the reason I’m hoping for advice is that this situation is less serious and I’m worried that it’s inappropriate, unprofessional and/or immature to push back in this case; (2) I have considered asking my supervisor for guidance, however, I have not had success with her advising in the past (she once gave me the feedback to “try to look older,” then admitted that she had no idea how I could do so), so I don’t have much faith that she could help.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      Ha – I am actually a Rebecca and hate being called Becky or even Becca unless I’ve given the ok, so I get this. I would recommend dropping the “I prefer” part and be a little more direct but with a kind tone, as though you’re correcting a misconception but not being accusatory. I typically say, “I actually go by Rebecca, thanks.” but with a warm tone. If you have a repeat offender, repeat as necessary. I don’t think this is something to bring to a supervisor nor do I think it’s inappropriate for you to push back on it. It would do well for students to learn they shouldn’t nickname other people.

      Also – if there is someone else with the nickname that can help. “Oh, Becky Thomas goes by Becky, I go by Rebecca and it helps eliminate confusion. Thanks for understanding.”

      1. Reba*

        Jinx! I am also a Rebecca *waves*

        I have one coworker whom I like a lot, who has actually asked me how I prefer to be called, but then forgot and sometimes calls me a short form anyway. This actually makes me think there is a different response for people who are trying vs. not trying, though I guess you can’t always tell.

    2. Reba*

      I relate to this :)

      I think you should continue to kindly redirect. Just be a broken record about it — you can acknowledge that it’s not the main point of why students are interacting with you, but it’s still important. That’s what you’ve done with the “FYI” of course, I think that’s perfect. But I think you can also rise to “Please call me Rebecca. Thanks for understanding.” This is a direct request, not a statement of fact (“I go by”) or your preference (which if they are casually disrespecting you, they aren’t moved by).

      It doesn’t sound like the place for a Professional Correspondence lesson, but hopefully you can strongly signal that politeness is expected. Safe place for students to ask questions does not mean no boundaries on communications, right?

      Even though I’m saying to keep correcting a little more firmly, I also think you should work on not being as bothered by it, if you can. Because you are not going to get 100% success.

      I don’t think you’re at risk of being like that political staffer “who told you to call me Liz”!

    3. Construction Safety*

      Flatly, “It’s Rebecca”
      -on thousand one, one thousand-two-
      Smiling, “And how can I help you?”

      1. Helvetica*

        Agreed, don’t soften your language with “I prefer”. I think it is incredibly rude for other people to decide to give you a nickname, when you haven’t told them to do so, and you don’t really know them.
        I had a co-worker who had a habit of “jokingly” calling women Ms LastName – we are always first name based in my organisation – and it really rubbed me the wrong way, so I just told him once in response “My name is FirstName, thanks”, without a smile or softening my language and it worked.

        1. valentine*

          Flatly, “It’s Rebecca”
          -on thousand one, one thousand-two-
          Smiling, “And how can I help you?”

          This is perfect. You can also omit the smile as needed, and use variations like “Don’t call me Becky” or “No nicknames.” You don’t have to let them walk all over you and the males are being sexist! And consciously so, because there are men they would never presume to nickname.

      2. Girasol*

        Yes please. I’m rather socially inept and can imagine myself being the perpetrator in this situation. A plain “I prefer Rebecca” or “I go by Rebecca” would tell me that I’d overstepped and remind me to get it right next time. A flat tone carries a memorable enough sting for someone who means no disrespect but realizes they’ve erred. Of course, if you’re dealing with someone who answers, “Ha ha, Becky, that’s cute,” well, that would be a whole other matter.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I had a similar issue. Bizarrely, a manager in my office insisted on referring to me by my last name. I got sick of it and finally snapped “Would you please use my first name? There are hundreds of Zingers but I’m the only Lemon.”

      He said something like “Gosh, so sensitive!” but I ignored that comment and he respected my request.

    5. The New Normal*

      “I still haven’t received my financial aid deposit, Becky, and I don’t get why they won’t return my call and email!”
      “It’s Rebecca. *pause* Let me pull up your account and see what is going on.”

      To be totally upfront, I’m snarky enough to say, “Probably because you aren’t calling them by the correct name! I’m Rebecca. Call me Rebecca or Mrs. Lastname, please. Now let’s see what’s going on with your account.”

    6. Threeve*

      I have a similar it’s-a-nickname-but-not-MY-nickname situation. I find that using a slightly unusual phrasing helps it stick in people’s minds a bit better, and I don’t think it’s rude or confrontational at all.

      “Just Rebecca. Many Rebeccas are also Beckys, but I’m not one of them.”

      Also, your supervisor sounds useless.

    7. Red haired runner*

      In my organization most people sign their emails like this:
      Respectfully,
      Susan

      Susan Smith
      Job Title
      Phone etc.

      I like that this method makes it clear what first name to call someone in return emails. Have you tried signing emails like this?

      1. Paulina*

        I don’t know about the OP, but I do sign my emails like this, agree that yes it’s a great way to clearly indicate what I should be called, and still get plenty of people deciding to call me “Paulie” or “Paul”. Unfortunately from time to time these have been very senior people, who then propagate the error. I tend to do a quick correction in the moment (“It’s Paulina, actually”) if it’s feasible, but some of them either don’t hear, don’t remember, or don’t care because saving precious syllables is more important to them. And sometimes it’s hard to do without being very ceremonial about it, and even though I do find it a big deal that people are taking liberties with my name, since it’s rude, it’s the sort of thing that looks petty to be pushing hard about.

        I’m reminded of the time on ST:TNG when Data corrected Dr. Pulaski’s mispronounciation of his name. To her “What’s the difference?” question, he replied: “One is my name. The other is not.”

    8. PollyQ*

      It is definitely not inappropriate, unprofessional, or immature to push back. The fact that other people have it worse due to various “-isms” does not mean that your issue is not worth fixing.

      Frankly, I’d worry less about how your students are taking the correction. They’ve actively done a wrong thing (not a heinous crime, but still a wrong thing), and learning that they shouldn’t just assume someone’s nickname is a valuable lesson for them.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This actually isn’t helpful because there are SOOOOOOOOO many people who prefer a shortened name who still use their full name in email signatures. I was just dealing with someone this morning who I thought preferred the nickname but I was looking at her email signature and it is the long name and I was completely flummoxed. I just asked which she prefers and it is definitely the nickname.

    9. Lizy*

      ugh I had the same situation recently. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but someone called me “Beth” in an email. Out of all the nicknames for Elizabeth, Beth is my least-favorite. (To be clear – I don’t care if someone else is called Beth. I just don’t like it for me.)

      I just responded with “I go by Elizabeth – thanks!”. The other person apologized and that was it.

      In your case, if it happens more than once, I’d just respond to that person and say “I actually prefer to be called Rebecca, not Becky. Can you please make a mental note for the future?” and if it keeps happening, I’d use Allison’s “this has been happening a couple of times. What’s going on?”

      And I get you don’t want to make waves because it’s not as big of a deal as some name issues, but it’s still your name, so…

    10. Me*

      Fellow Rebekah that is frankly baffled by peoples seemingly endless desire to call me Becky. Its like the first thing they want to do after meeting me. I just flat out say every time, my name is Rebekah not Becky. Neutral tone.

    11. ginger ale for all*

      Return the awkwardness to the sender. If it happens more than once, just look the person in the eye and flatly ask why they keep calling you Becky and do not break eye contact and wait.

    12. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I can commiserate. My name gets shortened without my consent constantly.

    13. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is annoying, but may not be something you can fix. I’d correct people when it happens the first time and then repeat as needed, if it happens again.

      But I’d also recognize that your annoyance might make you want to spend political capital on this and it might not be worth it. I know it is super annoying, but I’d really decide how much beating on it really is going to fix this one. (Also, you boss isn’t wrong about the age thing. I found dressing more formally really helped people treat me with more respect, because I look young.)

    14. WI is saturated with Covid*

      Your request is not “inappropriate, unprofessional and/or immature”. This is a basic social courtesy. Please do not sell yourself short. It’s the other party in the wrong.

    15. The New Wanderer*

      I work with at least three people who have names people frequently shorten but I know that they strongly prefer their full name. What always throws me is when people who have just met Rebecca choose to use “Becky” despite only having heard them introduced as Rebecca and have *never* heard anyone refer to Rebecca as anything other than Rebecca. Like, how much repetition does it take to get a name right? As a third party, it’s kind of like hearing someone badly mispronounce another’s name if that person has just introduced themselves with the correct pronunciation (“Hi, I’m De-MEE” “Oh we’re glad to have DEM-ee on the call today”).

      I had this conversation with a guy who was name-shortened by a new manager in an email, and he was joking about if he should start to refer to that manager by his first initial or something equally random.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      To the students say, “In the work world it is really important to call people by their preferred names, even when the name has an associated nickname. As practice for this eventuality, we are going to start now. My preferred name is X, that is how I want to be addressed.”

      To your colleagues say, “I am trying to get my students used to paying attention to how people want to be addressed. Please support me by role modeling what they need to do. Please call me by my preferred name, Rebecca. Thanks in advance for your help on this one.”

      Make sure they know this at the start of classes. I realize it’s a little late now, but I also suspect this will just be an on-going thing. But you can just state this as introduction on the first day so they are all told.

    17. lemon*

      Ooo this is a major pet peeve of mine. I shut it down as soon as someone uses the nickname form of my name. I say, in a lighthearted/this is just a weird quirk of mine tone: “oh no, I haaaate being called Lem. Only my mom can get away with that. If you call me Lem, I probably won’t respond to you, because that’s not my name. Always Lemon, never Lem.”

      It works, and hasn’t ever really come across too aggressively or anything.

    18. About to share my real name*

      Oh, I hear you! My legal name (Trisha) is someone else’s nickname, and often people take that fact as permission to shorten it even further to a name I don’t like. It works when I say “emphasis on the A” or “I am especially fond of the A in Trisha.” I work with college students too and wonder if this could be an opportunity to remind them to respect what people want to be called/how folks like to be addressed. You could even say it is a tip for future success in the workplace. I can’t imagine this conversation happening or Zoom or email though. As an aside, it is really funny when people call me Patty! Then I just explain that is my cousin’s name and that my legal name is Trisha.

  26. Teapot Librarian*

    Last week I did some venting about one of my employees trying to supervise me. Well, this week, I telecommuted one day and needed that employee to do something right away at the office (literally right away–I needed him to open the door for a repair person) so I sent him a text message on his personal cell phone. And his response was to text me back saying “do not text my personal phone.” I totally get not blowing his personal phone up with calls and texts, especially out of work hours, but one text? During the work day? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, am I?

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Did you try calling the business line first? I’m staff in a job where higher ups get reimbursed for their phone bills but staff doesn’t… when the cell phone becomes the first line of communication I admit to feeling miffed, especially if I’m literally sitting at my desk at work and would answer the phone within seconds. I don’t think I’d respond the way your employee did, but I might mention to you later that I would have preferred you try my work phone first.

        1. Ashley*

          I think this is where you need to have a conversation of the landline wasn’t answered and action was needed. I would flat out ask them next time “Can you tell me why you didn’t answer the landline?” To me a quick text is a reasonable follow-up. I do get the personal cell phone thing but unless they are banned in the office space and you are encouraging use of a banned device this sounds like the tip of an iceberg problem.

        2. introverted af*

          Even at work I sometimes don’t answer calls from strange numbers. Also, he could have been in the bathroom or something equally innocuous when the call from the repair person called.

          1. Teapot Librarian*

            Yeah, I have zero problem with the fact that he didn’t answer the phone; I just figured that he wasn’t at the desk so I needed another way to reach him.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              Yes, but you didn’t try the work phone first you just relied on what the third party said. Maybe they misdialed, maybe there was another problem, but you don’t know because you didn’t try the work phone first.
              If you had tried the work phone first and gotten no response, you would have more justification for calling the personal cell phone.

              1. tangerineRose*

                Doesn’t this seem a bit much? It’s not a crime to text someone on their cell phone. It seems perfectly understandable in this context.

                1. Friday afternoon fever*

                  Hmm, I disagree. I think it’s generally reasonable to text someone on their personal phone during the work day — until they tell you otherwise! If there is a stated job expectation that your cell be available for texts, that’s one conversation. If there isn’t and they said ‘don’t text my personal cell,’ you need to not do that going forward. Fair to try but not cool to continue. They ought to have been more polite in phrasing, but it is not at all unreasonable for them to set this boundary in this scenario b

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      I don’t think your action is unreasonable–but only if that’s the established culture for your business. I think this falls under the umbrella of “set appropriate expectations”. Everyone needs to know that they may occasionally receive a text on their personal phone in cases where immediate action is required. If this has been clearly communicated, then employees know that a condition of employment in this company includes being willing to accept an occasional text. But if it’s unclear, then yes, someone could object if they weren’t expecting it. Even just once.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Even then, his reply could have been better—“I’m on it. In the future could you not text my personal phone?” With that response I’d be on his side.

    3. Annony*

      I don’t know. Did you have the option of calling the office phone or using IM or a more normal channel for work conversations? I can defiantly see being frustrated at jumping straight to texting his personal phone if he hadn’t agreed to that in advance. However, if you didn’t have another quick way to communicate then I could see it being more reasonable.

      1. Annony*

        It may be that he has a pay as you go plan. They are less common now but some people still have them. He may be annoyed that your convenience is costing him money.

        1. Teapot Librarian*

          I didn’t try calling the desk phone first because the repair person had (we have a sign on the door to call that number or my number, and the repair person called me after trying the first number) but I definitely hear you on that point. I don’t think he has a pay per text plan since he texts me freely when he’s teleworking. But also definitely a reasonable point to consider!

          1. A*

            Wait, so this guy was MIA so long he didn’t notice the repair guy had arrived or hear the office phone I assume he’s supposed to be manning, and has a history of sending and presumably receiving work related texts on his personal phone?

            That changes things lol. You didn’t do anything wrong. This dude’s a twit.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I think he’s a twit either way. He could have at least said “Please don’t text me on my personal phone.”

          2. GothicBee*

            Yeah, he’s definitely being rude here, especially if he commonly texts you. I probably would have called the office phone myself before texting, just to be sure the repair person hadn’t misdialed or something, but if he wasn’t answering, then I think texting was your only option.

          3. lemon*

            Wait. He texts you frequently, but then also told you not to text him? Boy, that’s some GALL. What a weirdo.

            (I’m usually on team “don’t text my personal number” but…. he already texts you!)

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, this totally changes things. Why should he be allowed to text Teapot Librarian but not the reverse? Especially if he’s the OP’s employee. I have a great relationship with my boss, but I can’t imagine being that curt with her, or with any of my coworkers, for that matter. And I’m in a culture where direct communication rules. When I send my work product to our internal customers, my emails go something like this:

              Hi Jane,
              Work product attached.
              Regards,
              allathian

              It’s worked so far. I’ll add more if there’s something I’m a little unsure about, but regardless, our customers know we welcome feedback even if it isn’t explicitly stated.

    4. a username*

      Also a librarian here & with a good relationship with my supervisor – if they text me to do something work related during the work day I really would not like it. A) I’m not always looking at my personal phone during work hours and B) There are work communication channels. Use those. At a previous job I had words with a colleague who had also become a friend and with whom I texted about non work things regularly because he called & text me about work things that could have been handled via work channels. Libraries are “passion fields” and it’s really easy to slip into not having a good home work life balance, so I’m very protective of that separation for myself. I’d only expect them to use my cell phone number if I no showed and they needed to make sure I was okay, or if something urgent happens after hours I’m using those channels (there has been situations where they needed me to log in remotely and correct something that needs to be done that calendar day, which is fine.)

      1. Anonymous*

        I think your point about “passion fields” is an important one. Often these employees feel compelled to use their personal resources in a way that would not be required of them in any other sector.

      2. lemon*

        Yes, I am with you. There are just so many work channels to reach me during the workday. I always answer my email in a reasonable time frame, I have Teams and Zoom for IMing, and I get my work number forwarded to my home computer. Yet my grandboss recently started texting me about (seemingly) non-urgent things. I also don’t pay attention to my personal phone, so I didn’t see the texts until days later. Now I’m worried that they think I’m being rude, but text is just the least reliable way to reach me. My friends and family all use FB messenger, Discord, Slack, or email to reach me, so I very rarely pay attention to texts.

    5. Antsy*

      This guy sounds completely unreasonable about many things, but unless there’s an existing culture of doing so I do think it’s inappropriate to contact employees for work reasons on their personal phones. Especially if you didn’t try to contact him through work channels first, and definitely outside of work hours.

    6. Ali G*

      Well, while I agree with the others that maybe text shouldn’t be the first choice, his response was unwarranted. You are his boss and he should have responded like that. I would have expected that if he has a GOOD reason why he can’t accept the occasional text, he should have waited until you could talk or email and said something like “I know you were only trying to get a hold of me for an important task, but texts cost me money (or whatever) and so I hope that in the future you could call my work line (again or whatever).”
      He may have legitimate reasons for not wanting texts, but he doesn’t get to be a jerk to you.

      1. a username*

        I don’t think employees owe employers that much softening language when protecting their very real right to a separation between personal and professional, ESPECIALLY in a setting like libraries that are overworked, underfunded, and definitely not getting phone reimbursements. If it were me, I would have added a “Please do not text my personal phone. thanks.” but I don’t think this response & request was as out of line as requiring a separate conversation and justifications.

    7. Anonymous Hippo*

      No, you aren’t being unreasonable. This seems borderline insubordinate to me.

      I personally think the “my personal” phone thing is stupid, I’d just as soon have one phone, and I’m fully capable of deciding to answer or not. However, if it is important to him, I do think there is a way he could address this that would be ok, like if he did what you asked, and then circled back to you and asked politely if you use his other contact methods, and to let him know if you have any problems getting in touch with him that way so he can make sure the lines of communication are open.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        Maybe if your job is such that you check emails and answer calls/texts around the clock — then there’s no reason for two separate phones. As an hourly worker who does not check email or do anything else work-related outside of my hours with rare exceptions– I honestly consider the separation of personal/work communications to be a job benefit that I fully enjoy. My boss might be making 6x what I make, but I get to leave work at work. Don’t infringe upon that. (Obviously I’m addressing after-hours communication – I agree that this employee’s reaction wasn’t great)

    8. Okumura Haru*

      I don’t think so.

      If that was the best way to reach them – especially since it was something that needed to be taken care of immediately – then it’s completely OK.

      I don’t have a work phone, so that probably colors some of my view on this.

    9. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      Wait, he texts YOU from that phone when he’s teleworking, but you are not supposed to text HIM on it, ever? He needs to come up with a solution, then, for when he won’t be able to answer the office/desk phone while he’s physically there and you are not.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. No matter what his reasons are for not wanting to be contacted on his personal phone, if this is the first time that’s come up and YOU ARE HIS BOSS, he handled it very poorly. He should have done what needed to be done and THEN said, “By the way, I would rather you didn’t text my personal phone,” to which you could have responded, “OK, sorry about that. It was an emergency, it won’t happen again,” and then everything is let go. That’s the adult, professional way.

      I once asked my boss to use a work account instead of a personal account. I said, “For future messages, please use my company account instead. Thanks!” and the response was, “Too bad!” So don’t do that.

      This guy has communication issues.

    11. valentine*

      Is he gaslighting you? Is it his certainty that he’s right that makes you uncertain?

      Set and defend your boundaries the way he does. In this case, you might have responded, “There will be times I need to text or call your personal phone.”

    12. Anon attorney*

      I don’t love it when my boss texts my personal phone for routine communication but I’ve trained him out of it by “having my personal cell switched off during work hours”. In a time sensitive situation like this, I wouldn’t be pissy and defensive about it, either. I hope. Anyway, against a background of him being difficult generally, I think he thinks he’s found something he can use against you and is being laughably obvious about that, so no, you’re not being unreasonable.

    13. BRR*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable but I also think everybody has a right to not want work texts/calls on their personal phone. But I don’t think it really matters because it feels like you’re painting a bigger picture issue with the employee.

    14. Researcher*

      You’re not unreasonable. I find the exact phrasing of his response way too harsh, but I do think it’s important to consider your (or any manager’s) phrasing here too. While I don’t know the specifics of what you said, in general I think it’s a courtesy for managers to acknowledge that they are indeed contacting the employee in a manner that they wouldn’t otherwise, be it on a personal device, after hours, etc.

      If the message starts with:
      “Hi employee, so sorry to bother you here, but…”
      “I didn’t reach you at your desk, but…”
      “Sorry to interrupt, can you quickly….”
      “I regret contacting you at this hour, but…”

      This might seem like overkill, but there are so, so many workplaces where managers get paid phones/plans and subordinates don’t, or they push Bring Your Own Device policies and employees just want to set reasonable boundaries around the use of their personal devices. I’ve found that spending the extra 10 seconds to type out this acknowledgement sometimes goes a long way.

    15. Thankful for AAM*

      1. That was a very unwarrented response, very rude. You have not texted him before, this was clearly something that needed immediate action, and it was during work hours. He did not need to push back so hard to establish a boundary at this point. Maybe a quick, I prefer not to use my cell for work calls/texts and push back if it is a pattern that you text him.
      2. Don’t all y’all get phone calls from work? Like a, you are not at work but were scheduled, call? How is this different?
      3. I work at a library and there is no problem with work home balance for non exempt employees. We are limited to working the hours on the schedule.
      4. We text. Its the best way to reach ppl outside work hours but in the 30 minutes or so b4 work. Texts are not intrusive, dont interrupt you. They are a good way to let others know you are late or please open the door for the repair guy. If you dont see it, you dont see it. OP is not saying they will be upset if the employee did not see it. It was just a way to solve a problem.

    16. Another Academic Librarian*

      Personally, I think this depends on how you got his phone number.

      If my boss were to text me in a situation like this, I would be pretty unhappy, and I would probably have a reaction similar to his. I do not use my personal phone for work, and I did not provide my number to my workplace to be used in that way. I provided my cell phone number only AND explicitly for emergency contact situations (so I know boss has it). If this is your situation, you are being unreasonable, and you should apologize and then stick to email/landline unless it is a true emergency of the “don’t come in, library on fire” variety.

      If this employee gave you his number specifically so you could contact him about work tasks by text, that is a much different story. In that case, your actions would be reasonable (although in the future I would say you should try to reach him by landline plus try to reach anyone else in the building that way before resorting to personal cell phones).

    17. Sandman*

      I think he’s WAY out of line. He didn’t do what he should have – answered the landline to let the repair person in, and then is incredibly rude to you when you attempt to contact him another way? Heck no. He’s at work; he needs to be reachable at work. And I can’t imagine sending a text like that to my boss. Yikes.

  27. VictoriaQ*

    My situation is a little odd and I don’t know how to handle it. I was laid off due to COVID, and decided that I would go back to school for a career change. To facilitate this, I would move back in with my mom to reduce costs. Except, my mom has sold her house and is trying to move to an area ~500 miles away. I chose programs that were distance learning because I knew we would likely end up there, so that’s not the problem.

    The problem is that I’m still ‘job searching’ in my current area, with no idea how long I’ll be there. My mom isn’t going to be going to the area for a few weeks, but is looking to put something down, either on a house or a lot. Do I contact the recruiters I’ve worked with and ask them to start looking at temp jobs for me? Do I focus exclusively on applying to grad school? I could be in this area two months or ten (won’t really know until my mom visits and buys). She suggested I just job search as normal, but for me, that seems bad. I don’t want to take on a perm job only to quit a few months later because I can finally move. But I worry that with a temp job I might get one, stop unemployment, finish it, but then struggle to get unemployment back, and be cycling like that until I can move.

    1. PollyQ*

      I would look into the unemployment implications of temping. I’m not sure that you’d be ineligible, or that it would be a struggle, if you had a temp job that ended and you needed to go back to UI.

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      Unemployment with temp jobs – it depends on how you’re paid for the temp job. Typically if you are technically working for the temp agency and paid as a W-2, then when the contract ends, you’re eligible for unemployment (check this in your state).

      If you voluntarily quit a job (including when you quit a contract before it ends) you’re not eligible for unemployment. If the temp agency ends the contract early, (where you are a W-2) you are eligible.

    3. Cassidy*

      If this helps: A few years ago, I was on the professional (Master’s degree required) job hunt and living at home while I searched. My unemployment ran out, but I didn’t want to take a full-time para-professional-type job only to leave once I obtained professional job. Just seems underhanded.

      So, I found a retail position as a cashier for 29 hours a week at a well-known retailer (as an aside, 29 hours was the cutoff for them to not have to pay for the ACA. But I signed up and got a subsidy, which I paid back – by law – once I found a professional job. So much for the conspiracy that the ACA is for freeloaders).

      Anyway, pay was decent, it paid the bills, and the high turnover in retail meant that all I needed to do to leave on good terms was show up on time, be polite and efficient with customers, and give two weeks’ notice. Plus, I told harmless lies like “Oops, family situation, gotta have the next two days off” or whatever for when I got called on interviews. I also met a lot of interesting people, from bona-fide but harmless whackadoos to very kind-hearted souls, of all ages and backgrounds. I miss those folks, and that was nearly 10 years ago. When I retire, I’d like to work a couple or three half-days a week in a similar setting.

      Point being, retail can be awesome for in-between situations if you can swing it.

  28. CostAlltheThings*

    I tried to ask last week but it was probably too late on a Friday. Is anyone in a ETO environment and have a scheduling tool/system that they love? We pretty much just make teapots but they are fully customizable and sometimes we’ll sell you the add on cups, saucers, or tiny sandwiches :)

    We demo’d Waterloo’s Tactic and have a demo for what Epicor offers but looking for recommendations. Looking for something that is standalone (unless we go with Epicor as we’re currently converting Finance over) We’re still using tribal knowledge plus pen/paper and that system is retiring (half at Christmas and the other half in 2021!). We have more demand than capacity and have ideas about what our bottlenecks might be but really we’re clueless. It’s a mom&pop that still tries to act like like they did in the 80s (we still have an AS400….) but the business has vastly outgrown that model.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was at a company that used Amion (Am I On?) and everyone involved seemed happy with it.
      Hehe…an AS400. Those were the days…

  29. AndersonDarling*

    What should a Service Tech/ Maintenance Mechanic wear to a job interview? Would you expect them to wear the equivalent of khakis? Or would clean/nice jeans suffice as long as they were wearing a button-down shirt?
    My SO thinks jeans are OK, but I feel like an interviewer may be expecting something a step more formal.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Years ago, someone told me the rule of thumb was one or two steps up from what you’d expect to wear on a daily basis. If you wear a technical uniform for work, khakis and a dress shirt for interview would probably be about right for an interview. Definitely not jeans though!

    2. Dave*

      I would default to khakis if available but in that position jeans aren’t terrible. This is especially true as the tech / mechanic job is super in demand the outfit matters less generally. Though I do know one guy who is super uptight about what his tech’s wear and would probably black ball you for jeans; that said I would never want to work for a guy that uptight.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      My husband (electrician) used to be a maintenance mechanic. He would say good jeans, tucked in button down or polo.

      My experience is that my husband owns dress clothes for big corporate parties (mine)/weddings and funerals. He doesn’t own “normal” business casual clothes, and it’s not the type of job they expect you to buy a new outfit to interview for.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        That’s our situation. He has formal clothes for weddings and such, and then bum clothes for everyday. There is no middle ground and it’s a nightmare trying to find “step up” clothes that look believable. We’ve tried on so many pairs of Docker-ey pants that even I’m sick of trying.
        I’m just wondering if he interviews at corporate places, if the HR Recruiter will be shocked with jeans because every other office role they interview for is wearing business attire.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Yeah. . .I don’t have good relevant experience with that. He worked at printing plants and for contract service providers. There were some front office/back office people, but most people wore jeans to work. Hmmm. I don’t know. I am nodding my head along with your “that look believable” comment, though.

    4. violet04*

      Good question. My husband is an HVAC tech who got laid off last week. He hasn’t started interviewing yet, but he would probably wear khakis. He doesn’t own a suit, but does have a couple of nice button down shirts and ties.

    5. tamer of dragonflies*

      Last interview I went on for an industrial maintenance position,I wore black dress pants,white,button down dress shirt,black tie and black dress shoes.All bought new for the interview because those arent the usual clothes I wear.

  30. Mimmy*

    I browsed a bit of the Service Corps thread yesterday and had a question but didn’t want to derail the purpose of the thread so I hope it’s okay to ask here:

    About 10 years ago, the career counselor at my university (where I got my first masters) kept encouraging me to apply for AmeriCorps. I’ve gotten the sense that, because of the low stipend, it’s meant to give participants the experience of living in poverty since impoverished communities is a primary area of concern. I may be wrong on that, but it seemed that many participants did indeed experience poverty, e.g. relying on Food Stamps.

    Because my husband at the time made good money at his job and several members of my family are of fairly high income, it didn’t feel right to me to apply. Was I off base in my thinking? Would it have been inappropriate for me to apply? Would I have had to live by myself to get the experience?

    Again, I’m probably WAY off base so apologies if I am, especially those who had very positive experiences with AmeriCorps.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      I’m an AmeriCorps alum and don’t feel like I experience poverty firsthand – i.e. I wasn’t relying on food stamps to get by since I lived at the org I served covered all living expenses, including food and health insurance. I didn’t realize that wasn’t the norm though for AmeriCorps programs.

      That being said, while I think allowing the participants to have experiences they wouldn’t normally have, I don’t think that’s the main point of the low stipend. I don’t think it would have been inappropriate for you to apply, and I’m guessing your career counselor just thought it would be a valuable experience for you.

    2. merp*

      I’m not sure if this answers your question, but I have some doubts about whether the low stipend is to force people to experience poverty… people experience financial difficulties as a result of the low stipends, but that would be a really terrible way for AmeriCorps to spin their low pay, in my opinion. Has kind of a “poverty builds character” vibe that is a bit gross. I have always assumed it’s because they can’t pay better or don’t want to.

      There is a big problem related to how (in some cases) the only people who can afford to work in nonprofits are financially safe enough so as to be pretty distant from the populations they serve, but that is an across-the-board pay and equity problem, so I’m not sure that AmeriCorps’ pay is related.

      1. lemon*

        That’s the official Americorps rationale for the low pay. From their BISTA campus site: “The AmeriCorps VISTA program provides a living allowance that enables you to live very frugally, like the community you are serving. The allowance is based on poverty rates for a single individual in your geographic area.”

    3. Reba*

      Wow, I definitely do not think that giving corps members a lived experience of poverty is the intent (!!!) although perhaps it is a latent effect. Your sense that the program is not “for” you because you have some resources strikes me as really overthinking it.

      It’s technically a volunteer program. And generally is in sectors that are tragically, chronically underfunded.

      I know that for many who served in the Peace Corps, there is a strong value of living at the community level (or at least *aspiring* to since that’s not really realistic). Even so “live where you work” is quite different from “experience poverty as a teachable moment.”

    4. Dave*

      I have done the programs where they really want you to live among those you serve and your stipend is to try to make you live near the poverty line. Thanks to our fancy college educations and most of us have strong family connections we never really got there with full experiencing poverty in part because the program had an end date so doing anything for a defined period is far more tolerable. Sure money was tight but we had shelter and knew where we could find food. I got a better perspective but I did not truly experience poverty.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I do think you were offbase and could have applied. Apparently the program does explicitly say that they pay poorly so the employee can experience poverty, but I think the underlying reality is that they’re just cheaping out because they can get people to work at that pay. Many people had to rely on family/parents to augment their living expenses, and it would have been fine for you to do so through your spouse.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      A good friend of mine did Americorps right after college and she lived with her parents while doing it, and she had said she wasn’t the only person doing that. And while Americorps offers an infamously small stipend, I always thought it was because they just don’t have a lot of money, not that they’re intentionally trying to make their workers experience poverty.

    7. lemon*

      I think you’re actually the kind of person the program was intended for. I applied to a VISTA program, and the host org actually asked me during my interview if I had savings or some other way to support myself because it’s really hard to do the program without that. I don’t think the expectation would have been that you live alone or apply for SNAP if you didn’t need it. I think just seeing how little people working at the poverty line make helps you be more understanding about how hard it is for folks.

  31. Silly Goose*

    Can anyone help me understand title levels? I get that junior or assistant is lower and senior or lead is higher… But when I look at job postings, I feel like I am lacking insight. Also, so many questions here reference higher/lower titles that I’m feeling uneducated about this. I had always guessed some things were area specific (hygienist is ‘lower’ than dentist, for example), but I’d love more insight to make job searching more manageable… And understanding people’s roles/seniority as well.

    1. Annony*

      Unfortunately, a lot of that is going to be company specific (not just field specific). Try looking at how much experience is listed in the job requirements to judge seniority.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly this. Titles are all over the place and mean different things to different employers, so you really do have to look at the job ad as a whole and really study the responsibilities for the role to determine the appropriate level.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I have to look at job duties and experience required. The titles don’t help me as they can cover so many different things.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      There are some corporate orgs that really, really rely on titles to define responsibility and payscale, but even those make gobs of exceptions. And companies with really strict bands have to fudge to get qualified candidates. You aren’t going to find a Developer that will start working with an entry-level “Associate” payscale.
      Generally, those kinds of titles reflect the level of contribution and responsibility.
      But you also have companies that make up titles to make people feel good. I once worked at a real estate company that made a young newbee a “Senior Director” on his first week. It was just so he could have a fancy title to throw around with customers.

    4. lemon*

      Like others have said , it depends on industry and company. I’m in a masters program for UX. I attended a talk from a big name in the field, and they explained that a lot of orgs are hiring for senior titles, but the work is actually mostly junior level production work. Their explanation was this is because a lot of orgs don’t have established UX departments, so they think they need a senior level person to hit the ground running, since there won’t be much training they can offer. But that means they also don’t realize that the work that needs to be done isn’t actually senior level.

      I previously worked on a development team, and senior level titles didn’t designate more responsibility. Senior folks had a bit more experience, so they focused on more architecture-related work, whereas junior devs focused more on daily production support. And team leads were actually like mini managers. There were also job titles like “developer II”, and those mostly seemed like ways to retain good employees, but didn’t really reflect higher level duties.

      I’ve also worked at a university that worked this way. They gave out titles like “manager” or “associate director” to people who were good, well-liked employees who had worked there for a few years, but their jobs pretty much remained the same.

  32. Jay*

    We’ve all discussed Cover Letters on this site many times, and Allison has given us all a great deal of wonderful advice on how to improve them.
    But, with all due respect, while surfing the internet the other day, I came across what is without a doubt the single greatest Cover Letter ever written. We can all learn much from this:
    Enjoy! (just a bit NSFW).
    https://www.questionablecontent.net/comics/4361.png

      1. Jay*

        I know, right?
        How many Library Science Cover Letter threads have we had over the last couple of years?

  33. esemess*

    What is an appropriate way to provide support (solidarity?) for a boss/grandboss/higher up who expressed some very real challenges related to 2020? The goal is to avoid overreaching while signaling that vulnerability from leadership is appreciated, and also acknowledge that this individual is dealing with HARD STUFF.

    1. Annony*

      Is this someone you communicate with regularly? If not, then don’t do anything. I don’t think that “signaling that vulnerability from leadership is appreciated” is really in line with providing support. You can provide that feedback when asked about how you like working for the company or how they have handled all the stuff going on in 2020, but right now I don’t think the person affected would appreciate it. Honestly, I think the best thing to do to help them is to do your best to keep things off their plate at work.

      1. Annony*

        Depending on the situation, a group sympathy card may be a good idea. It expresses support while also minimizing the number of emails they get about it.

      2. esemess*

        I appreciate this feedback, because it wouldn’t occur to me to NOT respond. I’m (slowly) learning that *sometimes* I don’t need to react. I’m also going to be thinking about your answer in a broader non-work context. :)

        1. Kes*

          Yeah I think it depends on the context. Were they sharing this to you/to a small group including you that works directly with them, or to a broader group. If the latter or if you don’t work directly with them a lot and aren’t close, I don’t think you necessarily need to reply. If it was more direct, I would just give a correspondingly general sympathetic response – “Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry to hear that. I hope things get better for you” or something along those lines

    2. Sandi*

      I had a very senior manager talk about their work struggles to a large audience. It was a planned lunch and learn where they discussed their struggles and coping skills. I didn’t say anything during the presentation or afterward, but I did email them and said how much I appreciated their honesty and I hoped that it would result in a work culture that is healthier and more willing to support each other. It was only a few lines, and I did it because some junior managers have been awful to employees who have had similar struggles so I hope that her words will encourage more kindness and support to employees in future. I want her to consider doing it again as I think it can be useful.
      Thank you Manager for your talk last week. Please know that I appreciated it, and I hope that it will encourage more support and kindness to employees who are having difficulty at this time. My thoughts are with you.

      It depends on your situation, but I think it’s quite reasonable to say something. I would keep it really short as they are often busy. It is really hard to be vulnerable, and having feedback on this would hopefully be better for you workplace.

  34. ADHD Lawyer*

    Hi Friday Open Thread!

    What are your best tips for starting a new job entirely remotely during this pandemic? Especially interested in good organizational tips and tools (ideally Android/Microsoft compatible) from lawyers and/or anyone with ADHD!

    1. Transactional Lawyer*

      Hey! Congrats on the new job :) I’m a contracts attorney, and what I find immensely helpful is to essentially calendar my work. So if a new request comes in, I pop it on my calendar where I can fit it to block time to address it. Then, as I work I move the blocked time further out for follow ups/etc. It helps me keep track of my deadlines and outstanding work!

      1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

        Seconding the calendar! Anything my boss mentions to me, I block out time there and then, so I remember to do it. Also, an ongoing to do list sat on my desk (guilts me into working if I want to goof off).

  35. Tomato Jelly*

    Hello! A question for any readers in finance: I’m currently in risk management at a BB investment bank, and I realise that I will probably need another degree to progress (currently have a bachelors degree and hope to earn the CFA charter by the time of matriculation). I think the weakness in my profile is that I don’t come from a target school and I don’t have enough evidence of quantitative ability on my resume.

    In your opinion, would an MBA be the best option to move up in risk management, eventually aiming for a Chief Risk Officer or similar role (given the lack of quant ability I spoke about)? I’ve been looking at MSc Finance degrees but most of them cap work experience at 3 years (exception being LBS’ MFin, which is my current dream programme. But it seems very competitive).

    Any suggestions, opinions, thoughts welcome. I’m happy to consider programmes all over the world but I would prefer Europe as I have family there. It would be a significant economic commitment for me as I come from a developing country, also I may find it difficult to find sponsorship/employment post graduation. Thank you for reading!

  36. KK*

    Because of Covid-19, my husband (56) lost his job of over 31 yrs. Devastating blow. He took it personally although he knew not to. There are MANY employees being let go so that softens the blow a bit. That’s oil and gas for ya.

    The biggest issue is how does a 56 yr old man start over (or start new) in his career? He started in the mailroom and worked his way up to Financial Analyst with a pretty good income and tons of benefits. He’s not getting much help from recruiters. Two have told him that it doesn’t pay off to be loyal to a company and it may have hurt him bc employers see it as someone set in their ways. They are accustomed to the culture of just one company as well as the procedural way of doing his job.

    Well that wasn’t very encouraging and he still needs a job. He has a weekend side gig for some extra cash to contribute to the household expense but it’s 13 hr days, outside & the entire weekend is ate up. He enjoys it but it’s short term & he doesn’t get to work in bad weather (so no pay).

    He has no degree but tons & tons of work experience. The recruiters have been discouraging & he’s been spammed to death (not in a good way) by putting his resume out on job search sites. Where does he even start?

    1. RC Rascal*

      Target smaller companies. Large ones will automatically eliminate him because he does have a degree.

    2. Jenny Says*

      He needs to stop talking to these recruiters. While they’re not wrong that finding a new job will be challenging, their negativity is to validate their inability to find him work. He can’t change his work history and telling him his work history is challenging is not productivity.

      While I’m not in the business of recruiting people, I am in the business of hiring them. And it wouldn’t detract me in the slightest to see that he was loyal to a company and his rise up the business ladder shows initiative and intelligence. When hiring for a professional, I just want to know that they understand the industry, are familiar/comfortable/successful at the work I need them to do. And I don’t care that they’re older than me. (I’m older than my boss and I learn from her all the time.)

    3. OyHiOh*

      Look at smaller companies and/or companies that don’t use an automatic tracking system (ATS systems, the online application portals many employers have moved to), and be willing to move into a new industry.

      Can he write a decent cover letter? How comfortably does he interview? Those are going to be the two spots where he’ll either shine or not in job searching. It’s going to be important for him to figure out how his company specific skills transfer into other companies and/or into other industries. This will take some time, reflection, and research of target industries – it was genuinely shocking to me when I realized that my non profit volunteer coordinator duties translated as a subset of HR duties; he may find similar surprises that can be valuable, and he’ll need to get comfortable and confident explaining that in a cover letter and interview.

    4. violet04*

      I’m sorry. My husband was at his job for 23 years and was laid off last week and he’s 48. Similiar situation of starting in the mailroom and working up from there.

      Instead of working with recruiters can he just apply directly to companies? Most of them post job openings on their site. I would use Alison’s resume and cover letter advice.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Please tell him to have faith in himself! I was in a very similar boat (50, no college degree, same company for 27 years, laid off in January). One recruiter recommended that I go back to school. Another said I should leave off the more “professional” jobs so that I would be considered for entry level. In the end, I just kept plugging away, and eventually got an offer for a mid range position that is only a couple steps back in title, and minimal decrease in salary. The new company is known for its employees advancing, so I may be able to get back to where I was within a few years. I will NEVER be a fan of ATS, this job didn’t use it; they asked for a cover letter and resume. It took longer than I had hoped, and was very discouraging at times, but perseverance paid off. Best of luck to your husband!

    6. Anonymous*

      recruiters are not there to help him… they are there to fill postitions for companies and make commissions on it.

      He should continue to talk to them, cause they have some of the jobs. But he can say something like, ” yes, there is nothing I can do to change the past, are there any changes I can make now that would help in any positions you have available?” (dont need to take the any advice, but it might re-direct them)

      The other thing he might try if he wants to stay in a finance job is accounting/finance temporary work firms. He can say he would like to do some short term stints in various companies to try out some different industries or be more flexible with his schedule or whatever. Sometimes companies find it faster to hire a temp, then bring them on board full time if they like them.

      Keep applying to the jobs he might want.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      Late to this, but I think he should start with his network first. Oil & gas (at least in my area) is sort of clique-y for lack of better phrasing. Most of them know each other somehow. It’s a unique industry and most people who stay in it for any length of time, tend to have a fair amount of contacts in the industry. While he may not know the execs at other companies, he may know someone who knows someone, etc that could put in a good word. And because oil & gas is so unique, it’s definitely an asset to have someone that is familiar with industry specific software, performance metrics, etc.

      Advice from others about how to deal with the recruiters is good. Also, he should apply directly to companies, aim for smaller to midsize companies who will be more flexible about his lack of a degree, and he needs to be open to likely taking a pay cut, at least initially. If relocation is possible, he may fare better at finding something within the same industry, if that’s possible.

      If relocation is not on the table and oil and gas has tanked, then I’d suggest he consider other industries. He should determine what skills he has that could easily be applied to other positions and know that he likely may not get another financial analyst gig. He may need to totally shift gears to things that may have never been on his radar. Also, is there any possibility that he could consult or be an independent contractor or start his own business?

      For what’s it worth, I am so sorry to hear this and I can only imagine the stress and disappointment he must be experiencing. He’s gotta stay positive and have faith in his own abilities and don’t let these recruiters get him down.

  37. ItalianBunny*

    Promised update in Bunny’s quest, because i honestly need to vent before i explode.
    Yesterday our CEO sent out a whole company e-mail complimenting this month’s budget…for the first three sentences, because the BUT came at fourth with a brief explanation that, despite the efforts we’ll all need to take cuts in our hours for the next month at least (and yes, my country has a compensation for cases like this but as the allotted state-covered hours are a definite amount they’re actually choosing not to use them because they fear a new lockdown will come and we all may need those in case we have to completely close.)
    So long story short, my boss called me today to reiterate what the CEO said and tell me thaaaaaat *drum rolls* my hours have been cut from 8 to 6, monday – thurs with a total loss of *drum roll* 16 total hours/week.
    Hours that will come by going in the negative on my PTO ( already in the negative from the first month of the previous lockdown.)
    I feel like it is one of those blackholes from which i’ll be never-ever be able to get out.
    Even more funny thing? I’m almost halfway of my accounting class and about to start job searching with the counsel of the teacher…and if i manage to score a new job, i’ll be having half of the last paycheck docked to repay the negative PTO.
    Idk what to hope for at this point.
    *deeply sighs*

    1. WellRed*

      I’d also google final paycheck plus state to see if your employer is allowed to dock you like that.

      1. ItalianBunny*

        Unfortunately here in Italy, partial unemployment isnt a thing. The state allotted hours of paid leave to each company and mine already used a good chunk of it during the lockdown and they are saving the rest in case another lockdown comes. this i already have asked to a job counselor. As for the last paycheck, i’ll be surely asking tomorrow! Thanks for the tips!

  38. Jenny Says*

    I have a direct report, let’s call him Urkel. Urkel’s a nice guy, he tries hard, he’s a team player. Some things he does well, some things he does not well. In terms of what we need him to do he’s a pretty even split between helpful and not.

    In the year (and then some) he’s been working with us, I’ve had to guide him on a few things. Again, whether the lesson sticks is an even split. Sometimes he gets it, sometimes he doesn’t. I haven’t deciphered what makes things stick and what doesn’t. I’ve tried conversations. I’ve tried putting it in writing. I’ve tried giving him feedback in the moment or at the end of a project as a debrief.

    I think the issue is attention to detail. I think he doesn’t have it. Or it could be that he doesn’t understand what I’ve told him and is afraid to ask for help. (though he says he’s not , because I’ve brought this up… on the off chance I do scare him, I’ve also told him he can ask senior members of our department too)

    Unfortunately, I now dislike working with him to the point where I have to pre-emptively remind myself to remain neutral. My boss is a kind person, always views folks from what they can offer. And it’s not wrong to say that he benefits the department in some ways. But, his lack of attention to detail, his inability to read a room, even the fact that he replies to every single email (even those that just say thanks!) are driving me a bit round the bend. To the point that I asked my boss if I might benefit from management training because I don’t know how to help this guy. (She point blank told me I manage him well, but felt management training is never a bad thing to seek out and would look into opportunities)

    But, I’m looking for short-term options to manage my reactions to him. COVID hasn’t helped my irritability. Any words of wisdom when you’re on the cusp of going BEC on your own direct report?

    1. EngineerDE*

      I’ve totally been where you are and its tough to separate frustration from genuine low performance. In one of Alison’s books, she wrote something about if you think you’d be relieved if someone who works for you resigned, you should get started on trying to manage them out. Is there any reason you have to keep him on? Wouldn’t you rather have someone on your team that’s easier to work with and a better performer? It is amazing how much more you’ll be able to accomplish if you don’t have him to manage. What worked for me is that I sat down with my report and told him that I wasn’t sure that he was a good fit for the company and I wanted him to think hard on it, and I was working on his PIP. He was a really smart guy but was an inconsistent performer. Sometimes great, and sometimes taking 5x too long. He told me later he started job hunting that evening and left 2 months later about half way through the PIP.

      1. Jenny Says*

        I would be relieved, but I also want to be sure it’s not just because of my personal frustration. There’s also COVID, so it seems particularly cruel to consider this avenue. I’d also have to get sign off from my boss and to be honest, she’s a lot more resilient than I am and would likely want to try the kitchen sink before throwing in the towel. But to be fair, I’m not sure she’s aware just how much I don’t trust him to handle projects independently (because of the whole inconsistency thing and that he will sometimes assume he knows what to do even when he hasn’t done it before, which sometimes ends with me having to walk things back and find a solution). She’s aware of these issues, but I don’t complain overly about them, because of her work style and also because I can’t pin down what the issue is exactly. But, it may be time to have a heart to heart with her in the near future.

        1. PollyQ*

          It sounds like you’re frustrated because he’s not doing his job very well, despite you trying to train him. Have you given him the straight talk that he’s doing poorly enough that you would have to let him go if he doesn’t improve? Does your company do PIPs?

          When you say you can’t “pin down the issue”, do you mean the root cause of what makes him not great? Because you’ve listed a number of concrete issues that describe how he’s bad at the job, which seems like as much as a boss can do. You’re not a doctor, and you can’t “cure” him.

          I do think you should talk to your boss about the specific problems you’ve seen with him and what you’ve already tried. She may have suggestions for other things to try, or procedures to follow. But IMO, lack of attention to detail, inability to read the room, and an inability to even know when you should be asking for help are likely to be fatal flaws in a job where you’re supposed to be working independently.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      What I’ve done is try to reset my expectations of “what everyone should already know”. I have a similar report, that just doesn’t do things on his own that I thought he should already know. So I use them as teaching moments. And as in all teaching, they don’t always learn the first time you tell them. Now after 3x, I will start to point out that we’ve gone over this before, and try and lead them into finding the correct answer themselves.

      I hate to be this hands on, because I personally prefer to be left to my own devices, but I have to come to terms with the fact that different people need different levels of management.

    3. Anonymous*

      Fire him. Set him free to find his niche and get someone who can do what you need.

      The option of avoiding you smells like coddling. Why such care for this guy?

      I’ve tried putting it in writing.
      Has he put it in writing? When you tell him something, add, “How are you going to remember this for next time?” You don’t have to provide all the solutions. He should have some ideas about how he’s going to level up. Tell him to stop replying to thanks and consider what else you’ve not directly told him to start/stop.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      One of the most useful framings for me (a newish manager) was the DiSC profile. The version I got included my own style, a method to make an educated guess about others’ styles, details about what typically works—and doesn’t work—for each style, and particular things to pay attention to in light of which style each person involved is. The description of your colleague sounded very similar to one of my colleagues, and keeping the opposite polarity of our respective working styles in mind has helped mitigate my frustration quite a bit.

  39. Trying to be anonymous*

    Would you trade generous PTO and working from home for a 32 hour work week?
    Current job: WAH 4/5 days a week, 30 days PTO after 3 years, strong culture, market value salary. Flexible schedule and “easy” (so I’m bored out of my mind even after assigning myself new projects) Supports con ed/growth but lacks opportunities for advancement in title/salary due to size. Affordable health insurance.
    Opportunity: 32 hour work week (4 days) in office. Same salary for working 5.5 less hrs/week. 21 days PTO after 1 year (would be prorated down for 32 hr week ending up with the same “weeks off”). Supports con ed/growth. Is slightly larger org so more opportunities for advancement and some retirements planned in next 5 years. Slightly more expensive health insurance. Much more interesting work and more responsibility.
    Which would you pick? What parts would you weigh more heavily than others?

    1. Annony*

      How long is the commute? If it is a short commute, the second job sounds better. The 32 hour work week actually seems less important than more interesting work assignments and more opportunities for advancement.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’d be hard pressed not to take the opportunity, but I don’t mind commuting. Some questions to consider:
      – How long would your commute be?
      – What’s the WFH policy? Are they flexible? Can you WFH if you’re, say, waiting for the plumber or you have a mild cold?
      – Do you have any particular issues that make WFH necessary, or is it more of a preference? (Neither is bad, btw, just a consideration.)
      – How many company holidays are there at the opportunity? Do they close between Christmas and New Year’s? Do they have summer Fridays? Floating holidays? These things might make the loss of PTO days a little more palatable if you don’t already have them.

    3. Jenny Says*

      I think it depends on your own personal goals. For folks who just want a stable job, steady income, and work life balance, the current job sounds ok to me.

      For those who are looking for growth opportunities, the potential job may be a better fit. But, I would bear in mind that even if you’re technically working fewer days, it’s important to know if the job turns off at the end of week. My job requires some work outside of normal business hours, so even if I had a work week of 4 days in the office, I could easily end up working that fifth day (or more) from home.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      I can’t do boredom – so for that reason alone, I would probably take the new gig and negotiate the ability to work from home. If they said no to that, I’d ask for a few extra days of vacation instead.

    5. MissGirl*

      I worked a 32-hour work week for a few years and it was glorious. I found I didn’t use as much PTO so I think that’ll be a wash.

    6. Anonymous*

      Priorities:
      (1) WFH
      (2) 30 days PTO (if this is in addition to fed hols, #thehillsarealive)

      It sounds like you want the new job.

  40. Lyudie*

    Online portfolios! With all the instability in…well everything, thinking it might be a good idea to prepare for an unexpected job search. I’m an instructional designer and have seen some job listings mention wanting to see portfolios. I could really only post classwork (I am getting my master’s), I can’t put any of my actual work-for-my-job work online though because it’s confidential. I have a number of writing samples I can also put online from my tech writer days, most are printouts because I am just that old, but I could of course type those up. My current work is mostly eLearning so it’s a little more complicated to post, even if was able to. So I guess I have a few related questions:

    1) Where do people put online portfolios? Would it be weird to just have a Google Drive or Google site, or would I need to get a domain to look professional?

    2) Would I get side-eye from companies for only having classwork available to view, despite having experience in the field? I work in tech and I know confidential info is definitely a common thing here, but I don’t think I can show anything I’ve done in ID that isn’t writing.

    3) I think there are a few IDs here, what sort of things would you put in an online portfolio? As I said, I primarily do eLearning but have also written job aids and manuals for instructor-led training. Would you just put the final products there or also show things like storyboards?

    1. Reba*

      Not in your exact field, but. I have seen professional websites with a portfolio section that is password protected in order to avoid splashing client work all over the internet. They might name the clients but not show anything without contacting for a password or “examples on request.” You may feel that this is not functionally different from sending people a pdf who ask for it. I feel like you keep more control of it the website way, though. You can make your student work viewable, and make access to other work time limited, non-downloadable and know how many times it’s been viewed.

      If you have access to the products and you can redact or otherwise genericize them, that is good too (even if you name the clients elsewhere on your site). In the contexts I’m familiar with, it’s a tacit rule that you can share samples of your work privately. This may be hairsplitting, but I also see a difference between copyrighted work and work under an NDA.

      I do think it’s best to have your own domain. It’s not too hard!

    2. TW*

      Is there a way to de-identify some of your work samples? You could also write some made-up samples just for your portfolio.

      I haven’t been a technical writer for a long time, so I was able to bring in a physical portfolio to interviews, and that way control the access.

      1. Lyudie*

        Some things I can probably de-identify, that’s a good idea. I am leaning towards making up some samples as well, just to have something.

        Ha yes I have a binder somewhere around here with all of my writing samples in it, old school!

    3. D3*

      De identified work or create samples.
      As for where to put it, I would think it depends on what you’re hoping to find. If your skills are in making things look good and that’s something you want to show off, make a darn good looking web site because that can go a long way in creating a good impression of your design skills. If your skills are more in the ID side and you have mostly design docs to show, a dropbox folder of those would probably suffice. If you have Storyline or Captivate products to show, you can host them on Amazon hosting and just give prospective employers the link.
      And if you do show classwork, don’t make it LOOK like classwork. Make a new cover that does not include course numbers or professor names, and if those things are in headers/footers remove them there as well.

      1. Lyudie*

        Good thought on removing the class-specific stuff. I do have a Google site I created for a class that I am planning to use, I will have to check if there’s anything on it that specifies the course number etc. We do use Captivate but I wouldn’t be able to share the source files (or even the scorm packages, I think) as they are owned by the company and not freely available online (customers purchase the training modules) so that’s a little tricky.

    4. Theory of Eeveelution*

      Buy yourname.com, install WordPress on it, install a simple portfolio theme. Lock your NDA-protected work behind a password, and only give out the password to interviewers. This is normal, you’ll be fine. Look up portfolios of people in your field to get a sense of what kind of work they include. Do this via LinkedIn. Reach out to them via cold message/email if you have questions, most people respond.

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      You ask a few different questions so I’m going to break down my answers.
      1. Where do people put online portfolios? I did purchase a domain and had my portfolio displayed there but when I purchased site hosting, I had not taken the time to check what was possible for that particular host. Because of this, I could not post actual eLearning modules. What I did is posted those items that I had written documentation (job aids, instructional material, etc.) as PDF files. I use Articulate Storyline, so I published to Word and included that as well. To allow someone to see the actual module, I recorded a video walkthrough of part of the module (5-10 minutes worth). I know other people who have purchased domains and were able to display their modules by using AWS but I don’t know the logistics of how that all works so I can only point you in that direction. I have another ID friend who was able to put her portfolio in Google Docs but I don’t know how hard/easy it was.
      2. I don’t think that people who are viewing your portfolio will know what is classwork vs real on the job experience. In terms of having confidential information, there’s not a lot of options to display it as it’s pretty much a full stop for protecting that content. You will also be dealing with Intellectual Property issues if you post modules from your job. When I was job searching, I took a few topics I knew well and created some courses from scratch (doing it on my own time with resources available to anyone) to avoid the Intellectual Property concerns. You can also pick some other quick subject matter and create some 5-10 minute courses specifically for your portfolio.
      3. Sort of addressed in the first paragraph. Remember that job aids and manuals are still the work product of an Instructional Designer. Many places feel that an ID is an eLearning author only but if you are creating instructional material, it is still part of your job. I would include those as well. As for storyboards, you can certainly go this route, though I found doing a publish to Word gave a better picture of my skills. I also had an .exe file that I could give via a thumb drive at an interview (which I created by “publishing to CD”).
      Hope that helps! I’ll check back in later in case you have questions.

    6. SkeederJones*

      You ask a few different questions so I’m going to break down my answers.

      1. Where do people put online portfolios? I did purchase a domain and had my portfolio displayed there but when I purchased site hosting, I had not taken the time to check what was possible for that particular host. Because of this, I could not post actual eLearning modules. What I did is posted those items that I had written documentation (job aids, instructional material, etc.) as PDF files. I use Articulate Storyline, so I published to Word and included that as well. To allow someone to see the actual module, I recorded a video walkthrough of part of the module (5-10 minutes worth). I know other people who have purchased domains and were able to display their modules by using AWS but I don’t know the logistics of how that all works so I can only point you in that direction. I have another ID friend who was able to put her portfolio in Google Docs but I don’t know how hard/easy it was.
      2. I don’t think that people who are viewing your portfolio will know what is classwork vs real on the job experience. In terms of having confidential information, there’s not a lot of options to display it as it’s pretty much a full stop for protecting that content. You will also be dealing with Intellectual Property issues if you post modules from your job. When I was job searching, I took a few topics I knew well and created some courses from scratch (doing it on my own time with resources available to anyone) to avoid the Intellectual Property concerns. You can also pick some other quick subject matter and create some 5-10 minute courses specifically for your portfolio.
      3. Sort of addressed in the first paragraph. Remember that job aids and manuals are still the work product of an Instructional Designer. Many places feel that an ID is an eLearning author only but if you are creating instructional material, it is still part of your job. I would include those as well. As for storyboards, you can certainly go this route, though I found doing a publish to Word gave a better picture of my skills. I also had an .exe file that I could give via a thumb drive at an interview (which I created by “publishing to CD”).

      Hope that helps! I’ll check back in later in case you have questions.

      1. Lyudie*

        Thanks for the response! Using the publish to Word is an interesting idea, we use Captivate not Storyline but it also has that functionality. I like the walk through idea too, I will have to figure out if I have done anything that I could do that with. I’m thinking of creating some samples too because as you mentioned, I don’t want to run afoul of intellectual property rules. At previous companies the work I did was available freely online, but my current company sells the training to customers so it isn’t available outside of our LMS. The job aids might not be a big issue since they are such a small piece of the overall training programs.

  41. Done looking*

    So I found this job after being laid off due to the pandemic.
    My probation period was done 2 weeks ago but haven’t heard anything… do I ask? I’m more interested on when health benefits would be available to me.. what’s a good timeline to wait until it’s time to ask?

    1. Annony*

      I think you can reach out to HR to ask about the timeline for health benefits now. You should have been made aware of the timeline before you were hired so they are really behind in getting you that information.

  42. General Organa*

    I’m an impact litigator considering a move to the policy counsel side of things. If there are any people here who have done that, or made similar transitions, I would love to hear about how your experience has been and if you have any regrets (and how the interviewing experience was). Relatedly, I’m also considering non-JD required jobs such as “policy specialist,” but have some reservations about what that would mean for being able to move back into legal practice in the future, so would appreciate any thoughts on that as well! Thanks in advance. :-)

  43. newgrad*

    Looking for advice on how to stop feeling guilty that I’m the one that’s “made it,” if that makes sense. I’m a May 2020 grad who majored in chemistry, and I got a very good job at the company I interned with straight out of graduation — I’m working in a kind of niche sector of it that tends to get “woah, you work with THAT?” responses when I tell people what I do. I’m also at a company that looks very good on my resume and making about 30k more than I expected to be straight out of undergrad. I like my job and I feel very lucky to be here, but I also feel almost like I’m bragging about it when I tell people about it. I definitely wasn’t the smartest in my major, didn’t have the best work ethic, and yet here I am instead of people who arguably worked a lot harder in school. I didn’t slack, but I definitely wasn’t the best one in the room and I only graduated with a 3.3 GPA. Plus, graduating into the pandemic, I’m one of my only friends whose been able to find a full time job and I’m definitely making more money than the rest of my friends. How can I stop feeling guilty? I feel like I just got here through luck, and while I know I’m doing pretty well at my job I also know that I was mostly in the right place at the right time.

    1. Anne*

      Congratulations on graduating and your job!

      It sounds like you don’t think you deserve what you have, which based on what you’ve told me is total bogus. You don’t need to be the smartest or the person who stays up the longest studying to earn what you have, and it sounds like you definitely earned this job. You interned there, and they liked you enough to offer you a full time position paying what sounds like above market rate. As a fellow recent graduate: you worked hard and earned where you are, and that’s something to be proud of!

      There are some smaller things you can do to mitigate the day-to-day effects of the guilt. Considering that you’re making far more than you expected, I’d consider earmarking some of that for your friends who might be struggling. I don’t mean offering to pay all their bills, but if you hear someone’s having trouble with their rent, or has an empty fridge, offer to help. The viability of this definitely depends on the relationship, of course, but making a conscious effort to redistribute some of your good fortune might help with the guilt.
      As for the feeling like you’re bragging: unless you’re volunteering copious amounts of information about your work without being asked, which i highly doubt, you’re not bragging. Answering questions that have been asked with a socially appropriate amount of detail isn’t bragging.

      But at the end of the day, misfortune isn’t distributed evenly or fairly. Some people work hard and earn their opportunities, and some people work hard and no opportunities come along. That doesn’t mean the former don’t deserve what they have. As long as you’re tactful with your friends and stay compassionate, you’re in the ethical clear.

      1. newgrad*

        thank you, this helps a lot actually. It’s hard being the one who’s “made it,” but at the end of the day I made different choices and that’s okay. Plus, I can always just remind people about my 90k in student loans if they get too weird about it lmfao

    2. ShortT*

      newgrad, how well you do in your endeavors has nothing to do with your friends. Your success is 100% yours. Instead of asking “Why not them?” or “Why me?” why don’t you ask, “This is great, why not me!” You deserve success and shouldn’t give yourself grief.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The world is full of good & bad things happening, all the time. Right now, it’s your turn to have good things happen to you. Might as well enjoy it! How awful would it be if everyone was miserable, even when good things happen?

      As for bragging, I was brought up that talking about your salary socially is tacky. So you can always avoid it, or give less detail when people ask what you do. That’s mostly a question of calibrating your conversation to the group or context that you’re in.

    4. NeonFireworks*

      I’ve been in a similar position – I managed to get my foot in the door in a competitive area, and it involved a good deal of luck and privilege. I went to a big name college and was a strong student, but not to the point that some of my friends there were, and now a mix of different circumstances has meant that I’m doing quite a bit better in terms of finances and job fulfillment than some of those people are.

      What I would say is that your GPA and work style aren’t the bottom line on whether your organization wanted to hire you. Them offering you a job is the bottom line on whether they wanted to hire you. College is great, but it’s not a referendum on your potential in any given workplace.

      Envy is awkward, but I agree that the best way to forestall it is to be kind and supportive. Share tips, keep an ear to the ground in terms of opportunities, pay for shared lunch. The alternative is for you to punish yourself (needlessly) – awareness of inequality is good, but greatest-common-factor asceticism is probably not going to help anyone.

  44. Anne*

    This is mostly a vent:
    One of my team members is having serious performance issues that were not there when he was hired. I’m part of management conversations about his performance, but I don’t directly give him feedback, so I’m aware that there have been mitigating factors for a while that management does describe as health issues. The employee’s also talked to me about struggling with dissociation.
    I have a psychiatric disability that includes a dissociative disorder, so I have some inkling of what he’s dealing with.
    I also know he’s been referred to the EAP, and management has told him to reach out to me if he wants help figuring out workarounds (I’m very transparent about the way my disability affects work, like my memory issues, and actively work with my team to figure out ways to accommodate my brain sieve that work for their workflow).

    Over and over again, he’s been provided with options and asked to share what would help him do his job. He’s never taken management up on those offers. (I’m part of discussions about his work performance because it’s my responsibility to make sure it doesn’t affect the other team members, but I don’t give him direct feedback and I’m not part of management conversations with him.)

    The details of what he’s dealing with and the challenges he’s facing are none of my business. It just really blows to see a really skilled person struggle intensely in ways that remind me strongly of issues I’ve faced, while also totally unable to say or do anything until he asks.

    1. Web Crawler*

      That sounds like a tough situation for both him and you. I hope it ends well.

      If you have emotional energy for it, could you tell me what workarounds you have for your memory issues? I’m asking because I get frequent migraines that make retaining information hard. I’ve got lists and checklists, and I take notes at meetings, but I’m still missing a lot of obvious things.

    2. Anonymous*

      Why do you have to wait for him to ask or pretend you don’t know what’s going on? Even if he hadn’t mentioned dissociation, you could say what’s worked for you and ask if he’d like to try it.

  45. Ellie Bishop*

    My company has announced they are transitioning all employees to permanent remote work. There will be very rare occasions when someone might have to go in to meet clients or have an internal meeting (once or twice a year) so our current office space will be sold and the company will be purchasing a smaller space with some meeting rooms and a few touchdown desk setups. But except for these rare cases the management and all employees won’t be going into the office and will all be home. No one has a permanent office or desk there. In the next two weeks we can either sign up for a time to go in and pick up our belongings and exchange our loaner laptop for a permanent one along with picking up a company cell phone, or we can have the company box up and drop off our stuff and pick up the loaner and bring the new laptop and phone to our home. At the end of the month we’ll all be getting a stipend to cover buying stuff for a home office. I’m absolutely ecstatic about this. So far I’ve heard of three people quitting immediately, including the other person on my team, because they hate working from and don’t want to do it permanently. My colleague has taken a job with one of our vendors, they are in an industry where the work can’t be done remotely at all (everything we do is public so there are no NDAs or non-competes to stop this). It is a demotion in title so I was surprised because he’s worked here for over a decade and was on track to management. The majority of people are happy about this though. Anyone who works remotely permanently have any tips on making it go smoothly or making your day easier? Thank you.

    1. Anne*

      Set up a routine and a work-specific area. That sounds a little “no-duh”, but having morning rituals and spaces that replace the process of getting up and driving to the office help maintain work-life balance. I work in one corner of my apartment all day, and when I clock off, I ‘leave’ work by stepping away from that desk and not returning. If you’ve been working at the kitchen table, find a corner of your house to set up a little desk or workspace and make that your office.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Use the stipend for a really good desk and chair. Now’s the chance to get something that fits you ergonomically. Depending on home space, I would get the biggest desk or work surface that holds laptop, portable monitor, and room to stack files, chargers, and pens, and especially room for the all-important coffee cup.

      For myself, I have been looking at gaming desks with discount retailers online. These desks have risers for monitors and room for keyboards/trays, ports and plugs, etc., and a reasonably sized footprint for the spare bedroom I work out of. (Right now my desk is a sewing table.)

  46. AvonLady Barksdale*

    In more hopeful but no less stressful news than my previous post, I had two interviews yesterday for a position I’m interested in. It was the third round after the phone screen. There are parts of the job I have no experience in, but the C-suite I met with (I really, really liked her) thinks those things can be taught. I keep going back and forth between wanting to get the job and being afraid if I do get, which is mostly just nerves, but GAH. I’m honestly just hoping that there’s only one more round, because I am having the worst time keeping up my interview mojo. Please cross your fingers for me!

  47. Katrinka*

    Since the conference rooms are in use at all times by workers, they may have planned on doing a run-through prior to their actual meeting start time. Which is on them – if they wanted extra time, they should have booked it in advance.

  48. Worried*

    I’m worried about the possibility of having to call in sick at all during the pandemic. I work at a university, and there’s a system in place to provide free Covid testing. There’s also a system in place for isolating/quarantining residential students and disinfecting on-campus employees’ work spaces in the event that someone reports symptoms and needs to be tested.

    I’m prone to catching colds in the winter (though hopefully it’ll be better this year with social distancing) and I’m worried because I don’t really know exactly what would happen if I called in to report that I had possible symptoms–how long I would need to be out of the office if it turned out to just be a cold, whether people would panic, etc.

    I’m hoping we’ll learn more about what to expect, but I was wondering if anyone else was concerned about this or had experienced this.

    1. CheeryO*

      Your university should have a policy that explicitly addresses that issue. If you haven’t seen one, it would be worth asking your boss for clarification. It’s possible that you’ll need a negative test before you can come back, so you might want to do some research and find out which of your local testing options has the fastest turnaround.

      In general, I wouldn’t worry about people panicking if you take a sick day. Between regular colds/flu and other unrelated health issues, you won’t be the only person needing to take sick days here and there. I would only be worried if I knew you had been in contact with a confirmed positive person.

      1. Worried*

        They’ve been a bit vague about it, so I’m trying to get clarification and more guidance. We’re supposed to call a number of we have certain symptoms, such as a fever, cough, or sore throat, and there isn’t much info about what happens when you do that. The only additional info we’ve gotten is that reporting symptoms triggers a process where your manager is notified and your office is quarantined and disinfected, which sounds kind of serious.

        I come down with a lot of really mild bugs that wouldn’t normally warrant much action, so it’s intimidating.

    2. Oxford Comma*

      What is the system for calling in sick normally? I also work at a university. I’ve been working from home since early March and I’ve had to “call in” a few times for non-covid related illnesses. I treated them the way I would normally, e.g. emailed/texted supervisor.

      1. Worried*

        In normal times, I would just email my supervisor to let him know, and then just report the leave taken on my timesheet. And especially since I don’t have much contact with others, I probably wouldn’t call in sick for something like a headache.

        We’re supposed to report possible COVID symptoms to a hotline, and people who report symptoms are theoretically referred for COVID testing. I’m a really cautious person by nature and I like having clear guidelines to follow, I’m like…am I supposed to report something that feels like a mild cold if I don’t think I’ve been exposed to COVID? If I called in sick, would I also be expected to call the hotline and formally report symptoms? It isn’t entirely clear. I’m hoping to get more information.

  49. Can I get a Tina Belcher Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh*

    How big of a deal is it if a hiring manager doesn’t do something when they say they will?

    I’m currently laid off and have made it to the 3rd round of interviews for a job (all by phone because of Covid). The 3rd interview was late yesterday afternoon. It was a panel interview with the owner and 3 others. The owner didn’t show on time (I was told that she got pulled into something) so we moved on. The interview went well, but got awkward. The actual interview was 30 minutes, then the hiring manager insisted we stop the interview to wait for the owner. After 30 seconds of dead air, I realized that we were going to sit in silence so I just started chit-chatting with the panel by phone. That went on for 20 minutes and the owner never hopped on and the hiring manager said she stopped responding to her messages. Basically by 5p, we wrapped the call.

    The hiring manager said she was going to reach out with a new time to meet with the owner. But nothing has come in yet. Is that a bad sign? I’m a little freaked that the owner couldn’t (or didn’t want to) make it.

    As if 2020 didn’t present enough to be anxious about. Now I have to fret about weird interview stuff.

    1. CTT*

      If I’m reading this correctly, she said near the end of the day yesterday that she would find a new time and it’s been less than 24 hours? I would not freak out. It sounds like the owner may be difficult to reach or have a packed schedule and finding a time that works might involve a lot of coordination.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, hold off for a bit. If communication has been good so far, take the HM at her word.

        My interview yesterday took twice as long to schedule as my others and I felt the same way! It involved getting schedules aligned for two people and me shuffling some things around on my end. Sometimes it just takes time, especially at the end of the week.

    2. PollyQ*

      It doesn’t sound like the HM “didn’t” do it, just that it hasn’t been done yet, and it’s not even been a full business day. Repeat Alison’s mantra that everything takes longer in hiring, not just than you would wish, but than employers say.

  50. AnonPi*

    I guess this is a bit of what would you do. There’s a “Women in Teapots” group at work, which has elected leadership positions yearly. I asked to be put on the nomination list for the workshop committee lead. However I got an email from the current exec committee asking if I would do lead for the recognition committee because no one signed up for it. It basically amounts to promoting women “teapot researchers” (for example nominate them for some national teapot organizations award). I’m not really interested in doing that. I really wanted to try for the workshop committee, mainly to be sure we’re more inclusive of others besides “teapot researchers” which this group heavily focuses on – little is done to help promote those in “teapot research support” or “teapot operations”. Not to mention the “teapot researchers” frequently look down on those who are in the support or ops categories (I myself fall inbetween the two), so it is somewhat galling to have to promote these people. (I know I know, promoting women researchers is important, but even the way they’ve chosen to do that, does nothing to increase interest in students going into “teapot research”, ironically its often those of us in the support and ops that do those kind of activities). Then there’s the whole, “no one wants to volunteer to do this, lets get AnonPi to do it, they always help out” aspect. Given the situation I doubt now I’ll get a chance at leading the workshop group, but for the sake of appearances at work and my resume, I’m wondering if I should go ahead and accept the lead for the recognition committee. On the other, I may be better off trying to find other opportunities. WWYD?

    1. CTT*

      Do they always elect a brand new leadership board, or do people rotate through different roles? If it’s the latter, I wouldn’t rule out taking on the recognition committee role, because it would better position you to get onto the workshop committee when the next leadership board is chosen.

    2. irene adler*

      So why is the recognition committee restricted to promoting women researchers?
      Maybe go in there and “break the mold” so to speak, and bring recognition to the support and operations staff. After all, without support staff where would the researchers be?
      Just because it hasn’t been done before is no reason to continue doing things the way they’ve always done them.

    3. AnonPi*

      They do elections every year, and I don’t think anyone can stay in a role more than a year. So I couldn’t stay on this committee more than a year, so by default it would improve my chances next time for a committee I want. The recognition committee has been restricted to teapot researchers because that’s been the focus of the group from the beginning. They say they are inclusive of others but really, not so much. In fact those from the support and ops staff aren’t always treated very well in the group, like once they’ve come up with an activity we’re there to take care of the busywork that they don’t have time for. There’s only been one position within the group held by non-researchers, so its hard to change anything (actually the company as a whole is absurdly resistant to change at all levels). So I’m not sure how much change I’d be allowed to make (the exec committee has to approve everything). I think I may do it. It’s rather low key which would allow me to pursue other things, while making me more “visible” since I’m looking for another position (be it where I’m at, or elsewhere).

    4. AnonPi*

      Ok so new development, they asked me and another person to consider taking the nomination for the recognition committee, so now I’m back to being a nominee for the workshop committee, lol. They’re actually still short for the exec committee, and they’re asking the only other person who is a nominee for the workshop committee if they’d consider being on the exec committee instead. Then I’d be the only nominee for the workshop committee and get it by default. If this other person won’t do the exec committee, they said they may come back and ask if I’d be on the exec committee instead. Not sure what I’d be getting into with that, but I’d stand a better chance making some change at least.

  51. The Assistant*

    Does anyone have any tips, general or specific, about job hunting as an American citizen in Ireland? My fiancee and I have planned to try to move in a few years – we both work in technical, in-demand fields and should have a very solid profile in 2-3 years for data analytics and web development roles. However, recent political events have made us reconsider that timeline, so I’m trying to see if I can get a data analytics job with visa and move us all.

    Any top sites? CV or cover letter tips in how they differ from American standards? When the app asks about ethnicity and you might check multiple boxes, should one indicate that? Should I marry my fiancee and professionally adopt her Irish surname for better chances? What’s the general pulse on hiring non-EU passport holders right now in the data/tech space?

    Appreciate any and all insight!

    1. Nonny*

      The surname’s not going to do you any good unless she has Irish citizenship as well. You probably have a better shot than most in the tech sector, but frankly a lot of places are going to rule you out fairly quickly as soon as you mark that you’ll need sponsorship. Make sure you’ve done your research to see what the income thresholds are for visa applications, and focus on jobs that meet them.

      1. The Assistant*

        Ah, that’s a relief since I was really planning to keep my surname. I’ve definitely been keeping an eye on things like stated income (a lot of times it just says “negotiable” or “competitive” but the pay threshold – 30k Euro – would be fairly low for my line of work/experience) and contracts – I know I’d need a minimum 2 year contract.

        1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

          I don’t know if it’s the same in Ireland, but I’m in the UK, and the pay is very different from the US! Look at cost of living/average pay for the country and area, not just the straight dollar to euro conversion.

    2. Anonymous*

      i dont know the reasons why but….

      my co-worker was supposed to go do a 6 month stint in our ireland office. They couldnt get the employment visa for it, so they delayed his start date a couple of times, then they sent him to England instead cause he could legally work there. boss from ireland came to england periodically and I think he may have gone to the ireland office sometimes too.

      So… I think you need to look into the employment rules there with someone who knows about Ireland immigration and see.

  52. Sleepy*

    I am the second in command at a small nonprofit. Recently, we got a new Executive Director, who’s been great. However, this has meant that for the first time all of the leadership team (ED, myself, and Third In Command) are all white, while a majority of other employees are people of color and/or immigrants.

    Our new ED issued an open invite to the staff to join him in his social Hobby Group for a hobby he is passionate about. I knew that only myself and Third In Command shared an interest in this hobby. Although I would have really enjoyed Hobby Group, I declined the invitation because I didn’t feel that it would be good for one of the top employees to have social contact with the ED in a way that would not be open to others who don’t share the hobby, and the fact that the three employees with this hobby are of the same race would make it even more problematic.

    I just learned, however, that Third In Command accepted the invitation to Hobby Group. Something doesn’t sit well with me about this. Am I wrong? Should I say something?

    1. Asymmetrical Warfare*

      Your ED is a gatekeeper. They control access to resources, both within the organization and to themselves such as advancement, communication and money. They might not know they’re this person – or they might. They’re controlling who has face time with them through their personally preferred activity that not all staff can access whether it’s time, money, accessibility, or interest. Odds are they can read the room and know that most of the staff can’t/won’t be interested – I hope they’re not so obtuse because they’re not a good fit for the organization.

      Yes, as #2 you have a responsibility to make this known to the ED and to the #3. If they continue with this they will create a ‘you vs us’ and that will not work in the long term. Others will see you and #3 having more access to the ED than they do and it will create an imbalance. What kinds of conversations might take place, workplace topics, during this ‘hobby time’ that no one else is privy to? What will you gain, inadvertently, should you participate that others will not?

      While this wasn’t the exact situation: our new ED and new DD joined forces because they feel that together – as the newbies – they’d be successful which left the Education Director an outlier and they ‘tried’ to include her but their activities were not in sync with the Ed Director interest or capacity. It created a rift and eventually the Ed Director left after 4-mos.

  53. Nonny*

    Does anyone have advice for balancing not wanting to be defined by your job with not ending up somewhere you hate?

    I’m moving away from splitting between two ‘passion’ industries that have been decimated by the coronavirus and am trying to break out of years of thinking that my job had to be a source of self-definition and happiness, which these fields seriously fostered. However, I keep getting stuck in my actual search, finding it easiest to apply for jobs that have some kind of hook I can attach to emotionally (cool field, good cause, etc) and getting stuck and slightly panicked when browsing bland, corporate gigs. How can I reframe my thinking around this? Especially now that the market is so incredibly terrible?

  54. Anon and on and on*

    So, I am a brand new faculty member in a tiny department at a tiny college. i’m just out of grad school, newly minted PhD from a big state school so it’s already a bit of a culture shock, plus i’m teaching 4-4 which is a lottttt. we’re also hybrid– i have to teach in the classroom every day but i always have most students in person and a few on zoom simultaneously.

    the thing that is really sad/stressful/frustrating to me is that i am completely, completely isolated. they gave me a beautiful office in a different wing of the building from the rest of my department, so i don’t have any office neighbors to peek in on. i am in my office 9-4 every day and zero people have popped in to even say hello. i have had a few chats at the copy machine but i have gone literally weeks without speaking to another faculty member or administrator (we’re in week 7 of the semester already). there is no mentorship of any kind, formal or informal. i’m going to be observed (via zoom) by my chair on Tuesday, but i haven’t even gotten friendly check-in emails. I feel so isolated and unsupported, but i am so afraid to say anything to anyone because the (already dying) job market has evaporated this year and i’d hate to put the idea in anyone’s head that i’m not a good fit. but at the same time…. no one has even looked at my syllabi! idk. i was so excited for this job, but i just feel like i’m completely on my own here.

      1. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!*

        Is there any reason to be at the part of the building for the rest of the department? Could you make one like buying a fancy coffee to use at their coffee maker for you all to share? That way there is a reason for you to be there, and you can casually mention requests informally. Granted depending on how your state/college is handling covid, the coffeemaker might be put away for now.

        1. Anon and on and on*

          No coffeemaker :( I actually just got a little keurig for my own office. there’s othing communal over there, it’s just a hallway that leads to all the other offices. copy machine/printer is right outside my office door i might start just jumping out whenever someone comes to use it XD

          1. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!*

            Bummer. When I was in community college, I worked in a department there and by the copier there was a break room/kitchenette with a coffeemaker, counter, and fridge.

            Watch you start getting a Pavlovian response when it starts warming up :D

    1. merope*

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are not feeling connected with your colleagues. One thing that might help to know is that they are probably not deliberately avoiding you — they are likely feeling just as overwhelmed by the changes in their teaching as you are, as well as the other challenges of remote work. This is my 8th year as a faculty member (not quite so tiny a department) but I can confidently say that I am as busy this year with my teaching prep as I was in my first year … and I have service work on top of it! So, to sum up, it is a lot for everyone.

      I agree that it would be wonderful if your new colleagues would reach out to you, but maybe you might think about reaching out to them instead? Pick one and send them an email asking them to a virtual coffee date (or even an actual coffee if that feels safe to you). Not only will this alleviate some of your loneliness, I am pretty confident that it will also demonstrate that you are trying to be a good fit for the group. Similarly, try wandering through their halls and introducing yourself.

      Then, next year, when new faculty arrive on campus, you can remember how you felt this year and start a mentorship program for those new colleagues, and make sure this never happens again.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This sounds a bit like my university. We’re not that tiny, but we are very rural. I would say something, because with everything else going on, your transition and support might be the thing that fell through the cracks. That sounds awful from your perspective, but your chair and colleagues are probably thinking “finally, someone competent to take over all this stuff that I know I don’t have to worry about!”

      Have you had any informal Zoom time with your department? Suggest a virtual happy hour or coffee hour! You’re department will probably recognize this as a great idea and you as a problem solver, rather than a sign that you’re not a good fit.

      It’s a tough transition made tougher this semester.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Reach out! I know it feels like someone “should have noticed”, but with everything going on right now, we hired a new person in our building and I’ve been way to busy trying to juggle new Zoom reality to even say Hi. I finally invited them for a walk across campus to see the leaves and it has been 9 weeks since we hired them. Eep. I would email out and see if there’s a Zoom coffee people might be willing to do. These are weird times and reaching out won’t make you seem needy or weird.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Does your college have some sort of Excellence in Teaching or Faculty Success Center? Connecting with these types of units could provide the support and interaction you’re looking for.

  55. Anonononon*

    Just wanted to ask for well wishes and prayers as I am navigating a very difficult period at my job.

    I have consistently gotten positive feedback for the last 1.5 years in my role. Including taking a lead role in building a teapot and meeting a tight deadline despite teapot crafting kicking off 4 months late. I had monthly check-ins where I was given positive feedback and was told basically, to keep up the good work. A month ago, I told my boss that based on the prior positive feedback and my contributions in teapot and other projects, that I will formally request a promotion. A week later, during a check-in with my boss, I was told I was being placed on a PIP. I was told there were concerns about my work. It totally blindsided me. There was no prior indication of a negative pattern of any kind. No warnings. Nothing.

    Somehow, it feels like I am being retaliated against for asking a promotion… I kept asking why I was being placed on a PIP instead of just given the advice. I’ve consistently grown, implemented any feedback and had monthly check-ins to prevent this exact scenario. I was told this was to “bring me up to speed” through a formal system. I’ve asked for PIP-related specifics so I can monitor and implement my own progress. Nothing yet. I honestly think they’re trying to fire me. They even have the “end of PIP” date set a few days before I become vested in their 401(k)…

    I’m looking for new jobs, but the market is so… sparse. Please send well wishes. I could use them..

      1. YaGotMe*

        What was it? Did it have merit?

        I’m sorry. I wish you all the best. I truly do. I don’t know if they took a PPP loan/grant, and I’ll admit I don’t know much about them. But I would reckon that they did and they don’t want to pay back the money. I don’t know for a fact but I know if you do a layoff once you take it, you have to pay the money back, but if you terminate based on performance, I think that is a loop-hole.

        I was laid off and it was a similar scenario. I had been promoted twice in less than a year (both with pay raises) and then I was laid off. They tried to make it about performance and I was surprisingly calm (shock) and asked very specifically what were the performance issues and why was there no PIP if they all thought I wasn’t performing. They couldn’t come up with a thing other than something in passing about emotional intelligence.

        But then clients came out and supported me once they heard the news. Co-Workers reached out to express their total shock. I had been questioning myself and that showed me was that I did my job well. Just as you do your job INCREDIBLY WELL. You were a lead on a project that made its timeline despite the 4 month delay. That’s amazing! It’s such an accomplishment! Make sure that is in your resume/linkedin, etc.

        What’s incredibly callous is they try to undermine your confidence so they can save money. In some respects you will probably be better off when you’re gone from those $h!theads, but obviously that’s hard to accept in the moment.

        You’re awesome. You are a great worker. Any place would be happy to have you, and this is on them, not you.

        1. Anonononon*

          Thank you so much, those are truly kind words. All of the information in the PIP is qualitative and very difficult to objectively measure. They’ve broadly mentioned communicating more, or assessing task completion but that’s just about it. Somehow those monthly check-ins didn’t bring these ‘issues’ to light…

          At first, I felt they might have had merit, but over time I’ve come to see that isn’t the case. I do a good job with my work. I have colleagues who joined at the same time as me, and they were promoted after just 6 months. I definitely think if I were a man, I would have been promoted by now.

          Funny thing is, they’ve been hiring people in other departments, and they promoted someone in another department. Definitely feels targeted. In my department, the only people who have gotten promoted were those who were friends with management.

          It’s a shitty situation, but I just hope I find an employer that’s in a better position and operates with transparency and integrity. I never want to work there again.

          1. YaGotMe*

            My goodness. This is all ringing so true to my experience that I feel we are/were working at the exact same place.

            That’s the thing about the PPP, they basically just have to keep headcount the same. The company that just laid me off just hired two more executives so now they pretty much have a 1:1 ratio of people that do the work that brings in the money to executives managing the “vision for the future”. I don’t see it as a sustainable org chart, but whatever.

            Good luck to you and congrats again on such a great accomplishment of that deadline. That’s something.

            1. Anonononon*

              Thank you, I could use all the luck I can get. Part of me is resisting taking a new job that’s a terrible fit for job security. I’m really hoping the next job will be much more secure, and a lot less toxic.

          2. D3*

            Seems you’ve committed the unpardonable sin of being a woman who doesn’t know she belongs beneath all the men on the org chart.
            Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it is reality in some organizations. I’ve seen it very overtly, and I’ve seen it subtly. But it definitely exists in some companies. And that means it’s time to run to somewhere less patriarchal.

            1. Anonononon*

              Yeah, it was so weird because I had been getting good feedback, so it never occurred to me that they could operate this way. I honestly thought they were operating in good faith, especially when agreeing to have feedback sessions.

              I’m am really scouring the job boards and my network to find something. Believe me, I want to get the f##k out of there. Everyday I spend is just a waste of my time. The only benefit is that I have a paycheck while I WFH and find a new job. Which I’m grateful for, but partly bitter to know my employer is capable of treating people like their disposable…

    1. Kara S*

      Yikes I’m sorry! There’s no reason to put someone on a PIP without talking to them about concerns first. I hope everything goes well for you.

    2. Anonononon*

      Oh, and during this meeting where I ambushed with the PIP, I was told that after they interviewed me they sat around and talked about how much of a ‘project’ I was, and how under-qualified I was for my position..

      Of course they never once said this to me during the last year and a half…

      Unbelievable.

  56. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!*

    Does anyone A/B Test their resume?

    I changed my resume from a mainly achievement format from a hybrid achievement/functional format. I like it this new format. I was able to increase the type size and it has more white space. But I’m not getting as many hits that I thought I would get even though I’ve been lucky that a lot of my accomplishments had a numeric result such as $XXXX amount of money saved/earned, or comparable time savings.

    I’m thinking of randomly sending out my old one as well as my new one. Did anyone do that? Was it worth the effort or do you think it was completely inconclusive.

    I’ve applied for A LOT of jobs (almost 10 a day since I was laid off 3 weeks ago (all in my field)), and I’ve only secured two interviews. I realize it’s a numbers game but dang, this is similar to 2008 job hunting but the roles weren’t there to apply for as many things.

    Any tips anyone has with getting their LinkedIn/Indeed “Easy” applies to stand out would be great.

    1. irene adler*

      Suggestion: for the LinkedIn Easy applications- try to apply directly to the website if you can. Don’t rely on only applying via LI.
      Reason: my understanding is that the form used to advertise a job has as the default the “Easy apply” avenue. As such, if the person is not aware of that default, they are not going to check for any applications received via LI.

      1. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!YaGotMe*

        I did not know that. That explains why so many jobs repost WITHOUT the easy apply. I assumed they got so many crap applications (hopefully NOT like mine :) that they re-posted it to go through their ATS to get more serious applicants.

        Thank you!

    2. Des*

      The results of using different resumes would be completely inconclusive since each resume should be targeted at the individual company. i.e. You should not have one generic resume for each of the 10 jobs you apply to per day, it should be an individual resume per job. Which makes me think that you are applying to way too many jobs per day to do the kind of research required to secure interviews. But that’s just my impression, I could be wrong.

      1. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!*

        I thought the targeted resume per job fell out of fashion after the 2008 recession when the employment rate was crazy high (way worse than now). I thought it was all about the cover letter now.

    3. Goat girl*

      I have been applying for jobs for almost eight months. Even though I have a resume for almost every configuration of job now, it can still take me an hour or two to tweak my resume for a specific job, get the cover letter together, etc. I am very lucky if I am able to complete 2-3 applications in a day. So I wonder if you would be better off taking more time with each application and really tune your resume to reflect the requirements for each job.

      Of course, I’m still looking too even though I do all that! Good luck to you.

      1. Oh What Fresh Heck Is 2020 Bringing Now?!?!*

        Oh my, that process sounds absolutely dreadful. I’m resolving to doing that to jobs I really want (like federal government roles), but it’s hard for me to justify spending 3 hours applying for a job to have an ATS randomly screen me out in microseconds.

        I hope you find something stat so you can stop doing that :)

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Go go the website to apply directly. Please. I discovered if you advertise a job through Facebook (even if you don’t say people can apply through Facebook) then Facebook automatically adds a “Apply Here” button for people to upload documents. Well, we’re a state employer and due to HR rules can’t accept resumes through anything BUT our local system. Needless to day, by the time I realized this was a thing (I didn’t know and neither did my colleagues), we had over 40 people we just had to ignore. Go to the website to apply.

      As for AB testing…. nope. Never done it. I figure if I am getting phone screens the resume is working. :)

  57. Anonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn*

    I switched jobs last year, got my W2s, filed my taxes, they were accepted, thought I was done. I just got a letter saying the EDD couldn’t confirm I actually paid the taxes from one of the jobs. They asked for proof, which I have in both the W2 and final paystub showing the withholding.
    My question is: is this a common thing that they’d somehow not be able to confirm it? Should I be worried that job withheld the taxes from me, but never actually submitted the payment?
    I don’t know how freaked out to be or if this is just a “send them the paperwork they asked for and it’ll be fine” kind of thing.

    1. Katrinka*

      It’s probably just that someone can’t find your employer’s submittal form. Even if your job didn’t send the payment in, that’s on them, not you. You have proof that they took it out of your pay, it’s on them to prove that they paid it to the government. Just send them copies of your forms and you should be fine.

    2. Ama*

      When I was in college, the IRS would annually make me call to discuss my return because they didn’t have clear instructions on where to include the value of my scholarship (my dad is a CPA, and neither he nor his colleagues who are actual experts in tax regulations could figure it out). It literally boiled down to “oh you shouldn’t put that number on line 36a, you should put it on 36 b that’s why it’s triggering the request for more information.” except that no one at the IRS would actually tell me that until the very last year I was in college and I didn’t need to know that any more.

      Which is just to say, it’s more than likely this is just a paperwork error that triggered an autom