open thread – October 23-24, 2020

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

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

{ 1,109 comments… read them below }

  1. Construction Safety*

    Azzwipe boss of the year nominee (Links in reply):

    In the first link: “School owner told employees to pay back unemployment funds following COVID-19 furlough”

    In the second link: “In an email, the school business manager wrote: ‘You’ve received more in unemployment than your salary so according to Louis you will need to pay back the payroll advance.’ ”

    Old Klingon saying: “If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging”

      1. CatCat*

        Wow. I feel so bad for the employees. I hope Ms. Jacobs files for and receives UI benefits. Seems she had good cause to quit under the circumstances. Terrible.

      2. Nita*

        I’m speechless. But I hope their boss will regret it, and soon – there’s already a federal investigation open.

      3. Massmatt*

        Wow, how awful. And what is with the milquetoasty “not appropriate “ quotes from the employment lawyers? With advocates like these, we don’t need bad employers.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I think they also have to be careful commenting in public if there might be legal action taken.

      4. pancakes*

        It’s particularly wild that happened at a Montessori school. Where I live—and most places in the US, I think—those have a reputation for being run by people kinder and more supportive than average, not shameless profiteers!

        1. Properlike*

          Oh, I wouldn’t say that at all. Just fewer controls and oversight. One of our local Montessori schools has a corruption issue with the director, but good luck getting anyone to pay attention.

          1. pancakes*

            Oof, I suppose you’re right. We have something like that locally — a quaker school involved in union-busting.

        2. D3*

          Yes, they’ve done an excellent job at giving that perception. Don’t be fooled, they are just like any other private school, with amazing teachers and lousy teachers. Administrators with hearts for children and administrators with hearts in their bank accounts.

        3. Sleepless*

          I used to work in that area, by the way. It is a pretty wealthy suburban neighborhood. I doubt this is a struggling little school.

    1. SQL Coder Cat*

      Thank you, Google. Also, what the heck is wrong with some people? I feel like the current crisis is revealing about 75% of employers to be absolutely evil.

    2. Anon, Obvs!*

      As someone who works in unemployment, I can assure you that’s not how it works. We can all “it’s not fair” all we want, but b/c of the add’l $600, LOTS of perfectly eligible people essentially got bonuses for being laid off. Sure, I’d have loved an extra $600/week for a few months, but I didn’t get it, and maybe “it’s not fair”, but dude, LIFE’S not fair, so don’t begrudge your employee this! C’mon, man!

      1. Rayray*

        As someone who did benefit from that extra money – I was unemployed for nearly five months due to no fault of my own, I will say it was an incredible blessing to have that extra money. I know I was very fortunate. But I employment isn’t exactly fun. I’d be on my computer for hours each day searching job boards, editing my resume, rewriting cover letters, filling out long application forms even though al the information was already in the resume I had attached. Many companies were just posting jobs to collect resumes and see who would apply. I was ghosted more times than I care to think about after phone and in-person interviews. The demoralizing daily copy/pasted rejections. Job searching is bad enough but is much worse now. Contrary to what people like to believe, I wasn’t kicking back with daily movie marathons and delivered gourmet meals. I basically stayed within the confines of my apartment complex most days.

        I’d love to see UI benefits made better in the future. Being able to stay on top of bills and not go hungry or get evicted is the least we should be able to do, especially after we get laid off at 5:00 PM on a Friday afternoon with zero warning or indication. Had I been warned, I would have job hunted very earnestly before the layoff.

        1. Anon, Obvs!*

          Oh yeah, the system is not great! But to be honest, it’s not really meant for…..this mess. I am so grateful I HAVE a job, and I don’t begrudge you those benefits at all! I don’t love job searching in the best of times, and I can’t even imagine the horror-show it must have been the past several months – and still must be! Best wishes to you. (Did you check to see if your state unemployment office was hiring?!)

          1. Cassidy*

            But it IS meant for this. Getting laid off is getting laid off, whether due to business bankruptcy, mismanagement of funds, a pandemic, whatever. That so many people are in the same boat doesn’t mean it isn’t.

            As for UI being a bonus for being laid off, that’s ridiculously cynical. UI is temporary, but it could take months or years for many unemployed people to find work, and work that helps them sustain the lifestyle they were able to afford before this thing hit. That “bonus” pays people to STAY INDOORS SO THAT THINGS DON’T GET WORSE. Except it ran out, people have become desperate, and now things are worse.

            Job loss due to a pandemic is *precisely* what UI is for, and we’re foolish to not continue paying it as a means of stopping this thing from finding hosts.

    3. GuitarLady*

      This year we need a separate worst bosses: covid addition. Otherwise the only nominees will be people callously endangering their employees lives and we will miss out on all the other forms of awful behavior.

    4. Gene Parmesan*

      Sounds like a textbook example of wage theft. Not a lawyer, just my layperson interpretation.

    5. Cj*

      I wasn’t able to open the second link, but was able to see the headline that says that “double dipping” was the reason they need to pay it back. This made me wonder about a reference to the paycheck protection program in the first article.

      Were they getting paid by the school while furloughed? If so, it would be double dipping to also collect unemployment. But if unemployment was collected when it shouldn’t have been, it would need to be paid back to the state. The school isn’t entitled to any of it.

  2. Mother of Cats*

    I started a job I love about 2 years ago, worked my way up to being a team leader and really loved it. Loved my team and the work. Some changes in the management structure above me happened and I ended up with a new immediate supervisor between me and the lady who previously was my immediate supervisor. She and I really didn’t get along, not for any reason on my side but she was just constantly telling me things that were untrue, like old boss has said you’re not to contact her for any reason as she’s far too busy – old boss never said that and didn’t feel that way or imply it. That’s just one example of such things. New boss told me my team didn’t really have a point, was just generally awful and dismissive. It was so disappointing as I’d had a good relationship with this person when we were colleagues and I was put out how the role was created and just assigned to someone but I didn’t hold that against her as it wasn’t her fault. I was looking forward to working closely with her and thought we had a good head start on a good relationship as we’d had one in our previous capacity. The lies and abrasiveness just didn’t abate. I was pretty much job searching but old boss said she’d fix it and gave me a temporary reprive by putting me under someone else but said that eventually after a break to calm down and step back we’d have to try again. So basically I can’t work with this person, I know that, I know this is one of those situations Alison calls your boss is an asshole and isn’t going to change. So I’ve taken a new job with the same company. I love the company and the office and at least I haven’t had to move. The new job is a promotion really, more money, other perks. But I can’t be excited for the opportunity as I just see that come Monday my wonderful team is then someone else’s wonderful team and I have to take my career in a whole other direction I’m not sure I wanted it to go because someone else is an asshole and my mental health has to be worth something to me and moving away from this toxic person is the best/only thing I can do for my mental health. I have a huge serving of guilt for making my escape and leaving my team to suffer this person, who I was very careful to protect them from, both the asshole things they were saying and doing and any idea of the tension in my relationship with them. I like my successor but she’s very new to the job and I feel like I’ve thrown her to vipers. So basically I just needed to put that into the universe because I have to pretend to be really excited at work for the great opportunity but I’ve just cried at my desk all day.

    1. Camellia*

      But old boss’s “fix” was to put you somewhere else for a while, then just throw you back in and tell you to “try again”? Even though new boss is telling lies, etc.? Why didn’t old boss, you know, manage this person? If I were you, I’d be more upset at that.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        To be fair to old boss she just wants to see the good in this person and is convinced that with enough help they can become a good manager. She would be supporting the relationship but the new boss was sort of slimy enough that I know she’d say the right things to old boss but a different person was present when old boss wasn’t. I could have stayed and old boss would have done her best to make it work, not just left me to suffer, but she wanted me to provide a lot of coaching to new boss to help her learn to deal with people more gently but this person told point blank lies like said we’d talked about things we hadn’t talked about so another indeterminate amount of time dealing with her just wasn’t in the cards for me. She’s already started down the same road with my successor and I think the fact I’ll be in the company watching it implode if it does isn’t helping me move on. I hope come Monday when it’s all over and I get stuck into the new job I start to see the possibilities and get genuinely excited but right now I just said good bye to them all for the last time and I want to wallow for a bit.

        1. Amaranth*

          That’s, frankly, a management failure from OldBoss. The fact that you were moved into a promotion means that OldBoss knows any criticism from Manager was untrue, but she is still allowing her time to ‘become a good manager?’ That doesn’t happen in a bubble, *OldBoss* needs to use her authority to set expectations and/or teach her! Its not on you, its not on your replacement.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. The carnage is the responsibility of the boss who moved you, not your responsibility. You need to distance yourself from this; stop paying attention to your old team and focus on your new job. You old boss failed here, not you and there is nothing you can do.

        1. Mother of Cats*

          I know that in my heart and I know I had to move on. I’m not against helping someone grow as a manager at all, but this person showed me that if I gave them the sort of candid feedback in the moment I was asked to they would become petulant, talk to me in one word answers for a few days and be passive aggressive about me in front of me and other people. I don’t mind giving feedback and actually don’t mind getting candid feedback either but the other party has to want to and be willing to do something with it and change, and someone who is going to throw their toys out of the pram and be petty isn’t looking to grow or change. My new manager is a known quantity to me and I like and respect him a lot so right now, that stability is what I need to recover and I just need to keep reminding myself I did what’s best for my health and my career as ultimately having this person in charge of my performance reviews wasn’t a good position to be in.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            We can’t adopt all homeless puppies and we can’t rescue all those under toxic bosses.
            The limits of what we can do to save other beings are very humbling and at times those limits can be heartbreaking. This happens in life as well as work. No wonder older people are TIRED.

            Two things I have thought of over the years:

            One is that other people are very different from me in their levels of candor, their ability to put into words things that are hard to describe/discuss and they have different connections/resources. Perhaps someone out there is saying, “If only NSNR did x or said y, she could have salvaged her situation.” They go ahead with x or y and end up having huge success in cleaning up the problem. I’m not them. I did not think of x or y and/or did not have the courage or internal strength to go through x or y.

            The other thing I thought of over the years is how we can use our current jobs to be that port in a storm or to allow people to reknit themselves after a toxic boss. If we are watchful we can see opportunities to help someone else. Maybe not the exact people we worry about, but we do have a chance to apply what we saw/learned in the previous setting to change someone else’s storyline.

            Grieve. Feel the feelings. Then vow that you are wiser and more aware of what other people have been through and you will set a goal to help them as you can.

        2. Squeakrad*

          I have a little bit of a different take. I know it’s usually the best to take people at their word, but you start out by saying the problems were on her side “not from my site“ and that she began lying right away. Is there any possibility your old boss told her to relay the message that she didn’t want you to be in contact with her? Maybe she didn’t want to say that to you directly?

          And if they gave you a reprieve but wanted you to go back, is it possible that they’re not taking you at your word? That they see some value in this person‘s work as a manager? In the jobs iPad in the corporate world, a complaint like yours would not usually result in the old manager getting you some time away from this manager it would result in you being seen as possibly a problem person. So I disagree that this was not a helpful solution.

          I usually don’t question things like this but your writing style and the way you’ve expressed a problem seem like you are defending yourself in a way that maybeThere’s information you’re not giving? Or that maybe you did have some part in this and don’t want to talk about why?
          It does seem for whatever reason there’s a lot of drama at this workplace so you might look at the big picture around that and see if it’s a place you want to be

          1. Mother of Cats*

            I’m trying to be a bit vague because I don’t want to give enough info to tie this to me in the workplace I still work in, I hope that’s understandable.

            The old boss absolutely didn’t pass that message. I took the message at face value and stopped contacting her, not that we spoke that often anyway as I aprecaite she is busy and I only took her time if I really needed it. She noticed. She called me out on it. She was appalled at the reason why. Her reaction makes me think she was sincere. New boss apologised for the miscommunication when called out on it but I remember what they said very clearly and it was very blunt, there was no room for misunderstanding the message. Me and old boss have and continue to have despite this, a good relationship, much as this situation might make that hard to believe. We would be socialising outside work if not for this covid business so I’m pretty confident new boss spun the message that way in order to break that relationship and drive me to be more dependent on her. I can understand the movtivation perhaps but not the method.

            I was absolutely taken at my word. The old manager just saw this as the new manager being too blunt for our situation and that with some work they could absolutely be coached through doing better at that. The one thing I would say is that they perhaps thought I was just taking things too personal, which there may be some merit in by the end but also I have a background in some pretty tough industries and I excelled in them so that’s not a personality trait that I would claim all the time. The new manager absolutely is excellent at doing the job they were hired for and I would absolutely admit there is value in that. Again we got along well as colleagues and I enjoyed her as a person before this.

            I’m pretty open to criticism myself. I have a senior mentor who’s helped me process and they’ve said there was nothing else I could do, I was more than patient and that it was now out of my hands. I think it likely comes down more to trying to be vague enough for deniability if anyone asks if this was written by me. At the end of the day I have a new job but I’ll still work in a parallel capacity with all these people so I need to keep the depth of my feelings on my new job to myself at the office. I can’t have them think I took the new job just to escape this person even though that was a part of my motivation.

            1. MissDisplaced*

              It sounds like your Old Boss has some kind of weird Sunk Cost Fallacy regarding New Boss.
              You can’t fix this. Or save those still suffering under New Boss except to give them good references should they want to leave.

              One day Old Boss will begin to see the light about this person.

              1. Mother of Cats*

                My old boss is a nice person who wants to think there is good and possibilities in anyone. That’s admirable and as I said to them, it’s nice to know that had I been the one who effed up, they’d have had my back and wanted to help me do better and be better, not just written me off in one, but that said I am still miserable daily so much as I admire her optimism about this colleague, I need to cut my losses and go. We don’t do references :(. Mentor made it clear they think new manager is a bad manager and I was doing the right thing for myself and my career to cut bait. Mentor is high up and smart so I’m trusting their judgement. They don’t know me well enough to pick sides as it were. Some people are on my side but also personally connected to me enough to make me question their veracity but not this mentor. They have nothing to gain by not being candid.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      I don’t think you should tell your boss anything about the effects of your old job–those effects are totally real and understandable, but he doesn’t need to know about them. But do talk to him about how things are going–does he think you’re picking things up reasonably quickly? Do you feel like you need help in certain areas? If he thinks you’re doing fine, keep reminding yourself of that when you doubt yourself. Remember, it’s early days–you’re not expected to learn everything instantly.

      And if your job has an EAP, you might want to see if you can get a few sessions with someone to talk about your old job. It might help if you get it all off your chest.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        Ha! Somehow it ended up being pretty good advice to me too which is likely sad on a few levels!

        1. Two Dog Night*


          I’m sorry things worked out this way for you, and I do hope you enjoy your new role. And who knows, maybe slimy new boss will turn out OK in the end, at at least you won’t have to deal with her in the meantime. Still a rotten situation, though.

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      That all sounds really awful and your reaction of not being able to be excited is very reasonable to me. It sounds like you are feeling guilty because you are a decent person who wants to do a good job and you probably wanted to be able resolve the problem. But on the other hand you can’t make another person change, so I hope you can remind yourself that whatever negative fallout occurs from you leaving the team, it is on that other person – you are not making them act horribly. If it helps any, you sound like you have done the best you can in a bad situation and I really hope that once you are move into your new position and are removed from the source of this stress that you will feel better about things.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        People agreeing that I’m not crazy to find this an impossible situation to tolerate helps a great deal, so thank you for taking the time to comment. I also really genuinely like every member of my team and want the best for them, but you’re right, I am a people pleaser who typically finds the answer, so giving up is adding to the feels.

    4. Lynn*

      One of the harder lessons I have learned in my adult life is that having empathy toward a situation does not obligate me to be responsible for that situation. I realized I previously often felt responsible for things I had no actual responsibility for, and my empathy only resulted in personal guilt that I didn’t or couldn’t do anything to resolve a situation.

      It sounds like you may be in that same boat. You need to tell yourself that you did everything reasonably and with good intention and not feel guilty for how things ended. You sound thoughtful and caring and I hope that moving forward things turn around for you!

      1. Mother of Cats*

        Thank you for the comment, that sounds similar to me and is definitely a mindset I can work on :)

    5. Birdie*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the team you’ve left behind. You never know, your successor might have an easier time engaging with her and can make it work without it being as painful as it was for you. And if it is a disaster…well, maybe it will be the motivation they need to find a better opportunity for themselves, as you did.

      My boss at my last job did a ton to shield the whole office from the whims of the big boss. My boss had a difficult personality and actually wasn’t very well liked in the office UNTIL he left and everyone realized how much effort he’d been putting into running interference. People looked at him much more kindly after that and did not begrudge him leaving them with that mess since they now realized what he had been dealing with all that time. They also started realizing that the situation in the office was much more precarious than they had known, and decided it would be in their best interest to move on. Whenever I see people from that job, they’re honestly so much happier in whatever they’re doing now.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        I do hope they have a different dynamic and it’s easier for both of them. It might be for the best for everyone in the end. It was a lot of emotional stress to keep it all to myself but I always thought that it wouldn’t have been right or professional to colour someone else’s impression of this person with something that could partially just be attributed to how we just rubbed each other wrong and maybe the next person will have a smoother relationship from the beginning.

  3. Murphy*

    This may be a dumb question, but do you send a thank you note for internal interviews (for a promotion within the same department)?

    I just had an interview with my boss, our director, and a few of my co-workers. Do I send a thank you? Do I send it to everybody or just the managers?

    1. WhoKnows*

      I don’t think it would hurt! I think you could probably send more “formal” type thank yous to your boss and director via email, and then send more casual thank you emails to your peers.

    2. NLMC*

      I do and I encourage my reports to do as well. I would send one to everyone – separate emails, not one with everyone copied.

    3. Sunflower*

      I would but I would probably make a it a little more casual – if they told you something about the job you didn’t know before, that would be a good thing to include. Overall, I’d make it less about promoting yourself as the right candidate (maybe to your boss and director I would) but for coworkers- just thank for their time and let them know you’re around if they wanna chat further or have questions.

    4. EdComms*

      It can’t hurt. I would send a quick one-line email to your peers and a slightly longer one to those who will be making the hiring decision., taking the opportunity to reinforce some of the key points you made in the interview. Presumably any external candidates (if they exist) would send a thank-you, so it makes sense that you would as well.

    5. Artemesia*

      rethink it as ‘touching base after the interview’ — the ‘I appreciated a chance to talk to you about the X job and am excited about the possibility of being able to work with you on the ABC projects.’ It isn’t ‘THANK you for interviewing me — it is just sort of closing the loop and showing your interest.

    6. Murphy*

      Thanks everyone, this is helpful! It didn’t occur to me until this morning that I wasn’t sure how to handle this.

      1. Megs*

        I super appreciate you asking this as I have an internal interview on Monday. Thanks for the advice y’all!

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Frankly, that’s when I feel like it’s MORE important, personally. If someone who I know and see every day interviews with me for a position and doesn’t feel like it’s important to thank me for the time I gave them and to demonstrate their thoughtfulness about the interview and the position itself, I am disappointed. When I interviewed for my current position–an internal promotion–I sent informal e-mails to everyone I met with. I made sure to tailor them to each person, whether a manager, a member of a team with which we work, a direct report, or an indirect report. I saw it as an opportunity to let them know what I saw as important *to them* coming out of those interviews: the need for overall vision and leadership, or the need to advocate for the team, or the need to clarify how our teams would work together–and to reiterate my enthusiasm and plans for addressing those issues.

    8. Working Hypothesis*

      I would! It falls into the “can’t (or at least, is extremely unlikely to) hurt, might help” category. Since you know these people personally, you can probably write one that’s less formal than you would to strangers, and more tailored to what you know they’re interested in seeing from you — use the opportunity!

  4. Imposter Syndrome & Oversharing?*

    I just got a new job (yay!) and I’m wondering how much I should tell my new boss about the toxicity of my old place and how I think it may affect me as I get used to my new role. The old job went through 5 CEOs in under 3 years and all the drama that goes along with that plus was my first job out of school so I have a hard time telling what was weird and what was reasonable. That coupled with imposter syndrome and the fact that this job is in a new industry and I’m just not feeling like I’m picking up on things as quickly as I’d like is me feeling insecure. I’ve been here about a month. I’m wondering how much of this I can open up to my boss about to let him know how I’m adjusting. For what its worth, he definitely has been open and understanding in general and knows about the Big Scandal (through his personal circle, not me) that happened with my boss at my old job, though not all the stress that came after it (like, so bad that multiple staff members started going to therapy because of job related stresses). And my past bosses didn’t really put a lot of emphasis on mental health/personal wellbeing, so I’m wondering where the line is. Thanks in advance, hoping to take this advice into our one-on-one in an hour!

    1. Lora*

      I don’t think you have to tell New Boss anything. Sounds like he has all the information he needs. Just try to focus as much as possible on learning the new job and look to the future.

    2. Manager no more*

      Has your boss mentioned anything about how well you’re picking up the new job? Maybe start with an “I’ve been here a month and wanted to check in with you on how I’ve been picking things up/adjusting.” I think that would open up an honest chat better than just spilling on past trauma that it sounds like he already has some idea. And it puts the focus on how you want to grow and learn. Your learning is what’s important right now.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Ooh, I like this approach.
        It also means that you can bring up anything you are anxious about in that context – e.g. “I’m glad you think I’m picking up on x and y well – I had been feeling that maybe I needed to do [whatever] with x, but I think that may be a hangover from some unreasonable expectations at my previous job with similar tasks”

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I would 100% just ask the question, rather than launching into your own insecurities and concerns. A month is not a lot of time! You are likely doing just fine, from an outside perspective.

    3. Artemesia*

      Share nothing that is personal or about your mental health unless you absolutely have to e.g. need an FMLA leave or something. None of this is his business and it will possibly sully his image of you and your work. Sometimes we have to share these things, but avoid if you can. The most I would say is if you are warned about checking with him too much or otherwise being overly cautious, you can say ‘I am adjusting from a job where we absolutely had to get permission for every initiative we took, so it is helpful to know that isn’t necessary here.’

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree. Go one situation at a time and IF something comes up ask him what he would prefer or what his rules of thumb are.

        Think about it this way- he already knows stuff went on. He knows that this does not happen in a vacuum. For big stuff to happen, “smaller” things are also going on. So he may not know the specifics of what happened, but he knows generally what happens in these toxic settings. IF he is a good boss and he sounds like it, then probably his number one message to you would be, “It’s over now. It’s not happening anymore.” And that is not in a dismissive way. that is the way people talk to someone who has had Trauma. Simple and reassuring sentences. A person who has suffered an awful thing probably has a racing mind with a thousand concerns all at once, hence the need for simple and reassuring sentences.

        Use affirmations daily. Tell yourself things like “I am safe now.” or “I got myself to a safe place now.”
        For the boss himself, pause each time before you speak to him. Just give yourself an additional second before responding. Use that second to reassure yourself that “it’s okay here”.
        And be patient with you. Over time you will see the old stuff is gone. And it will take time to prove that out.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I think if you want to, you can say something like, I am aware that the instability of the old job might have an impact on my sense of office norms. I am paying attention and adjusting if I notice something but I would welcome any feedback from you if you have any.

      When I moved from a pretty toxic supervisor to a much better one, I practically asked for permission to go to the toilet. No really, but I would ask her for permission to do my job. She and I figured out together that this was a coping mechanism I had picked up. Just recognizing it helped me to stop it and her to know why I was doing it. So I think you can either not say something and notice on your own or say something when you notice it in a way that is related to your work, not general stress or mental health.

      I think it is also acceptable to not say anything but to just ask in the meeting if he has any feedback for you about the way the first month has gone, how quickly you are picking up on things, etc.

      Good luck in the meeting!

    5. Two Dog Night*

      I don’t think you should tell your boss anything about the effects of your old job–those effects are totally real and understandable, but he doesn’t need to know about them. But do talk to him about how things are going–does he think you’re picking things up reasonably quickly? Do you feel like you need help in certain areas? If he thinks you’re doing fine, keep reminding yourself of that when you doubt yourself. Remember, it’s early days–you’re not expected to learn everything instantly.

      And if your job has an EAP, you might want to see if you can get a few sessions with someone to talk about your old job. It might help if you get it all off your chest.

    6. Annony*

      I wouldn’t say anything right now. If something does become a problem in the future you can mention it to give context. For example, if your boss tells you to stop doing something: “I’ll work on that. Old Job required it and it is a hard habit to break.” Or if your boss does something that you really like (such as giving positive feedback). “I really appreciate X. Old Job didn’t do that and it really helps my motivation/makes my job easier/makes me feel appreciated/ect.”

    7. nep*

      Congratulations on the new job.
      I would say no need to tell new boss (preemptively, you seem to mean?) about toxicity at old job and how it might affect you. To me that would be just giving too much (undue, really) power to that negative background. The toxicity back there–while it is a part of your history and might have some residual impact–does not define you.
      Focus on the now and looking forward. You landed the job–that stands for a LOT. Go with that and work with what comes up from now on.
      Not to say you should never share certain issues with your boss if it feels right and you feel it would serve both parties. But not preemptively or not as a way to frame your current employment.
      Wishing you peace and all the best in the new job. Well done.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends a bit on New Boss, but perhaps a brief mention – maybe think of one example and mention that – for instance, “In in my last job there were a lot of issues with unclear or inconsistent instructions being given, so I tend to do a lot of checking and confirming to try to avoid that. If you feel that I am doing that more than you need, can you let me know? I’m still adjusting to being in a functional workplace” If you make it about a single issue initially you can perhaps gauge whether it is reasonable to go into a bit more detail by how he responds

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      I feel like rather than delving into the toxicity of the old place, it might be a good idea to check in regularly with your new boss and ask for feedback on how you’re doing. If you’re doing fine and your boss is pleased, maybe that in and of itself will help you feel better and more secure. And if you can identify specific things that are being made more difficult in your new job because of your old job, you can approach your boss and say, “I feel like past job experiences have left me uncertain how best to deal with X. Can you give me some guidance on what you think is reasonable/professional in this workplace?”

    10. D3*

      The way I did it one time was just by saying “it’s so nice to work here where things actually function! I think I had completely forgotten how normal workplaces are when I was at XYZ Corp, it was so dysfunctional there!”

      That was it.

    11. yala*

      I would say don’t tell them. I kind of made that mistake early on back when my then-supervisor-ish coworker and I were chummy, and I wish I hadn’t.

      But more than that, you don’t need to bring the negativity into your new workplace. It’s NEW!

      I know when you just get out of a toxic workplace, you feel like you’re never REALLY going to leave it behind. Like that anxiety and stress is just How You Are Now. But it will fade, and it will be an In The Past thing. My last job was just…awful, frankly. It was a volatile mix of people and a manager who had no one’s back and thought we were all slackers, and an over-manager who literally had cameras on the staff at all times. It started my insomnia, and I had two panic attacks while working there.

      These are all things I *remember* but I remember them more as aspects of a list. I can remember a few of the wackier stories, but only as anecdotes. None of them come with that all-consuming rage, frustration, and stress I remember feeling 24/7 at the time.

      I hope your new job is excellent! You don’t need to bring your past job-related trauma up pre-emptively because, frankly, it won’t do much to help, and eventually, it will really feel like it was In The Past.

      As far as imposter syndrome–maybe ask your boss if you could have a weekly meeting where he gives you feedback on your progress? Try to make some concrete goals and work toward them. Small ones, like “Have X number of teapots painted by Friday.” Good luck!

    12. Please don't*

      I wouldn’t. If there is any issue with your performance, you manager will point it out. No need to have them scrutinize you to see whether past trauma is impacting your work now.

    13. anon for this*

      So I’m going to disagree with the others – I’ve been candid with my new boss before and it worked. He knew I’d just been fired and had some baggage about that, and he knew the last person I worked for at the previous company was an a**h***. He’d also checked references with my previous manager at that company and knew what I was capable of.

      We joked about it but he also gave me more feedback than normal (for him) while I was finding my feet there.

    14. Learning As I Go*

      Since your boss already knows some of the background, I would probably approach this in a lighthearted/joking way. Something like: “As you know, my last work environment was a little unstable [chuckle, grin], so it really helps me to have a lot of feedback. How do you think I’m doing so far?”

      Hopefully, that will tip him off that you’ll benefit from more positive reinforcement. It will likely also prompt him to say you’re doing great, which will make you feel better in the moment.

      I wouldn’t bring up mental health in general unless you have a serious mental health issue that is definitely impacting your job. I say this because my boss tends to be a very literal person and takes the things I say very seriously (something I’ve learned the hard way when jokes have fallen flat or he has lectured me for things I said only half-seriously). In the event your new boss is this way, it could make him thing something is really wrong when you’re just feeling a little insecure. Imposter syndrome should lessen as you get your bearings at the new job.

    15. Esmeralda*

      Not a breath of any of this to your new bosses. Maybe in a couple of years. Otherwise you look like you’re focused on your previous employer and you are badmouthing a previous employer (even if every word is true). Either way, you look unprofessional.

      Keep it to yourself.

  5. Sunflower*

    Since WFH, I’m having a hard time balancing my time and productivity levels- I am super productive in the morning, hit a lag after lunch through dinner time and get a big spurt at 7pm until bedtime. This isn’t a problem with getting deliverables in, it’s only a problem in the sense that it feels like I never truly stop working. I’m so torn at what to do as my most productive time truly is at night and since we’re all locked in for the most part anyway, it’s not really that awful- more of an annoyance over time. I’m one of those who needs to just focus once I’m on a roll so taking breaks is what leads to my decrease in productivity. I have to open my computer the first thing in the morning(working out or doing other things) only makes me dread and avoid opening my computer afterwards.

    So far, I’m trying to balance it so I’ve got 2 days I allow myself to work late and 2 days I must shut my computer by 6pm.

    Anyone else feeling a change in productivity schedule and have advice?

    1. King Friday XIII*

      Do you think it’d help if you were “officially” working a half shift in the morning and a half in the evening instead of trying and feeling like you were failing in the afternoon? Or would that still feel like you were working all day?

      1. Kiki*

        I requested this schedule change from my manager and it made a world of difference for me. Especially since I’m pretty far north and the sun is already setting very early, taking a big break in the afternoon and getting outside while the sun is still out helps my mood and brings me more joy than a traditional schedule where I’d have the evening off.

      2. Natalie*

        This is what I was going to suggest. I’ve been working a split shift like this for a few weeks and will be for one more week until a specific child care change happens. Once I made it official with my boss I felt so much more relaxed about the blocks I was punched out during the day, and I no longer ended my days feeling like I was staring at my computer all day but somehow not getting anything done.

        Assuming your boss is okay with this, I would just put your work blocks on your calendar or something so that other people know when you’re on, and enjoy your leisurely afternoons!

    2. Purt's Peas*

      What happens to your deliverables if you only use that morning spurt of productivity? Plenty of people in the office have a productive morning and a slow afternoon, every day.

      Could you get by with just the morning productivity, and use your evening energy for non-work activity that you enjoy and get refreshment from?

    3. EMP*

      If it works with your office norms, seconding King Friday XIII to try consciously splitting your day into a morning and evening shift, and taking the middle as personal time to relax, run errands, whatever you would do in the evening if you weren’t working.
      If you can’t do that, then…is being less productive an option? Will you still meet deadlines if you close your work laptop at 7pm (or whenever) even if you weren’t at top productivity from 12-4?

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I am physically at work so cannot do the kind of shift change others have suggested but I would like to. So I have been saving small tasks and tasks that don’t require deep focus for the afternoon which is often when I lose focus. In other words, I am shifting my work tasks instead of my work shifts. Would something like that be possible?

      I also find it is easier to regain focus by doing small tasks that actually get finished. Doing one leads to another and another and the next thing I know, it is 5pm and I realize I was fully engaged for the last couple of hours.

      1. Ashely*

        Scheduling your day and activities can really be helpful. Literally make an ideal work day schedule and see how that helps you be organized and productive during peak times.
        Also because I have found myself more productive in the mornings I have shifted my schedule to begin early in the mornings with the afternoon shut down happening sooner. There are times in the WFH space where cranking things out in the evening is just awesome. I got so much done one night this week without a bunch of new emails and phone calls when if I tried in the afternoon it would have taken three times as long.

    5. Cat Lady*

      I have no solutions to suggest, just commiseration. I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough and my desire to catch up and my desire to preserve work/life balance are always in tension.

    6. Bostonian*

      I can really relate to this. Once I stop for a break, it’s really hard for me to go back (especially if I’m having post-lunch tiredness). One thing I’ve found that sometimes (not always) works is easing back in slowly. For example, putting on a work-related podcast or training first. Or, telling myself “oh, I’ll just do this one mindless, quick task”, and then once I complete that task I’m now switched over into work mode and can focus on the *actual* thing I should be doing.

      Or maybe try to schedule meetings in the afternoon so that you’re at least doing something productive during that time. That also might help you switch back into work mode. (For me, afternoon meetings are more likely to zap my energy, but your experience might be different.)

    7. Lora*

      I do this now but I just kind of settled into the routine. Mornings are for teleconferences with colleagues in Europe/UK, catching up on email, last-minute finishing things I started yesterday before I send them out. After lunch is for doing a few chores or running an errand during off-hours to avoid Covid crowds, taking a walk outside and teatime. Potentially a power nap if needed. 4 – 8pm (or later) is when I get my coding / calculations done because nobody interrupts me with IMs or urgent emails.

      The afternoon break is my “I’m HOME” time where I enjoy the pets and garden. It is what it is. Boss doesn’t care as long as deliverables are delivered and I show up for meetings.

      1. Natalie*

        The no-interruptions time is so valuable. I get some of my best hours in between 8 and midnight, when my kid and husband are asleep and even the dogs have wound down for the day.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m not salary so I do my 8+ hours early/late and let myself take time during the day. My manager & I I formalized my schedule to include a 2-hour lunch for Thursday where I get out of the house to see daylight (even if it’s just to rake leaves). She also OK’d me logging off at unusual intervals to help my remote-school teenager. She agrees that the early/late split means I can support departments in other continents.
      For what it’s worth, that hyperfocus is part of my ADD…channel it for yourself. When I’m tempted to come on for overtime again, I make a point of picking up a hobby project for 15 minutes before doing that or spending 15 minutes on family paperwork — and often that does the trick to disengage me until morning.
      Good luck!

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I would attempt to keep a schedule, whatever that is. You say you’re productive in the morning, but burn out after lunch (not uncommon really). So maybe try this. Also are you TAKING a real lunch break or just eating at your desk?

      Work 8am – 1pm or 2pm (5-6 hours)
      Break 1 hour
      Work 3-5 pm (2 hours) or until 6pm if you must

      If you’re more alert in the mornings, sometimes shifting will make the afternoon more bearable because you’ve only got 2 hours left but you got a lot done.
      I’d also always schedule my hardest items for first thing in the morning, and easy stuff in the 3-5 slot like emails or clearing up administrative or organizational things that don’t require as much brainpower.

  6. Project Management Software*

    Do any companies actually use project management software properly? Seriously asking.

    My company has been on Liquid Planner for going on three years, and it’s nothing but a more documented version of the same dysfunction as before. People go whining to the director in charge of folder “value” to get their project bumped higher, so things just keep leapfrogging each other and the folders keep increasing in significant figures (Folder 1 isn’t the highest priority anymore—now we have Folders 0.01-0.09 too!).

    People come to my desk and nag me about when something will be done, saying they “need to check it off”, despite the amount of hours left in the project being clearly listed and constantly updated by the software. Dependencies are clearly marked, and often the hold-up is a task owned by another department that I can’t control.

    Literally nothing has changed, except that now I have to track my time to 15 minute increments, and do tasks twice or three times (like tracking my meetings and PTO in multiple software apps). This is a huge time suck and a burden that isn’t accomplishing anything.

    1. Lora*

      Yes. I have seen Primavera used very successfully. But it is really for large multi-project management, it’s overkill for smaller projects less than, say, $500k unless there’s a lot of them to track simultaneously.

      It sounds like your organization needs to focus more on actual project deliverables and where those are running. Unless you are a lawyer, there’s no need to bill in 6-minute increments. Whenever I’ve had to audit time sheets it was more of an overall, “you billed us for an average of $250/hour per FTE and our MSA pricing indicates it should be more like $125, please check your records because I know that a CAD person doesn’t cost $250/hour” sort of deal.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      A poor process is a poor process, no matter the fancy software or tools you use. Unless the culture/process changes, then you’re going to have bad project management.

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

      I’ve found that a dysfunctional process (I don’t know about project management specifically, but have much more experience with “bug”/”request”/”ticket tracking” sort of processes and others) is rarely if ever solved by software/systems.

      What you refer to as “a more documented version of the same dysfunction” is exactly it – the process gets replicated and reflected in the system, but isn’t driven by the system…

      The only exception I’ve seen to this is where a process gets driven by some ‘quirk’ of the system, so that something that was just a problem in that particular software becomes part of the process (e.g. oh, you have to re-assign it back to the “unassigned” and then assign it to the person you are passing it to, because if you assign it directly it doesn’t generate the notification email and then the person doesn’t know it’s been assigned — that sort of thing).

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Not in my experience, but I’m a bit bitter about it.

      I’m sure there are companies that DO invest in proper project management systems (note, systems not software), but my organization thinks that switching to a new software/tool will fix underlying systemic issues. But, a tool is a tool, not a magic potion.

  7. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So I’m actually relieved that the Hatch Act seems to prevent ANY political discussion at work. It makes a huge difference in daily sanity. Not sure how that would work out when discussing some aspects of daily life that have become politicized, though. Like saying you wear a mask or you’re LGBTQ.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Unfortunately, the Hatch Act is pretty much shredded. No one is enforcing it and when the head honchos violate it, you know it has no teeth.

      1. AnonymousEgg*

        Am subject to Hatch Act (as a less restricted employee). Prohibits “activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” Many things are political or politicized without being *partisan*.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          There are numerous activities that have occurred lately (US Politics) that yes, break that prohibition by any reasonable observance but no one is arresting/censuring anyone.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’d go for a private-sector Hatch act. If it were feasible and enforceable…

      3. Jackalope*

        I disagree that the Hatch Act is shredded. The fact that some of the people at the top are wantonly ignoring it doesn’t mean that it’s not still applied vigorously at the other levels of govt. Kind of like someone rich can effectively buy their way out of jail (good lawyer, finds for bail, etc.) but that doesn’t mean laws don’t apply anymore.

    2. Hester Mae*

      I’m confused. Do you work in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government? Otherwise it doesn’t apply.

      I’ve seen you posting before but don’t recall the particulars. I wish it applied everywhere!

      1. bmorepm*

        most federal employees work in the executive branch of the federal govt-it includes all the depts, i.e. state, treasury, defense, justice, agriculture, labor, hhs, etc.

      2. Usually Lurking*

        No the Hatch Act applies in part to all federal employees. We are actually allowed to discuss issues, just not candidates. I work in Trumpland so as one of the lone liberals it’s nice to be able to point at a rule when telling people to knock off the politics talk. I think my workplace would be a smoking crater if we were allowed to discuss politics freely. And yes, it’s hard to enforce, luckily I have a good boss.

      3. Data Nerd*

        It applies to state and local government employees too–I work for a county, and I’m subject to it, thank God.

        1. Sangamo Girl*

          No, it only applies to state and local governments if you are working with federal funds. I’m sure state and local governments have their own versions, as does mine, but the Hatch Act itself is federal or federal funds.

        2. OyHiOh*

          I work very tangental to government, but our primary funding comes through a series of federal grants. My understanding is that, because of our funding source, we’re subject to the Hatch act. One of my side duties is posting to social media. Our organization deals in economic development. Sometimes, the line between “acceptable to repost” and “absolutely not” feels thin indeed.

  8. Middle Manager*

    I received two pieces of feedback, and only two pieces of feedback, on what I should do to improve as a supervisor this week. 1. Have a softer tone and 2. Smile more. I’m sure you can guess that I’m a woman and the management staff person is a man. But it’s a person that I have a really good relationship with and so I tried to talk to him about how that advice felt to me and he apologized for my reaction, not his actions, and just insisted he didn’t intend it to be gendered in anyway. I acknowledged that I didn’t think he did, if I did I wouldn’t be talking to him about it, I’d be talking to HR or his boss, but that it was still harmful even if not intended. He did not get it at all. I still feel hurt and I feel like it really damaged my relationship with him. Is there anything else I can do here?

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Did you ask him if he’s ever told a male report to do the same things? And document everything in case you do have to go to HR.

    2. lightbulb*

      Can you ask him if would ever tell a male manager to smile more? Then maybe share a link to an article on how women receive this kind of BS feedback all the time and men don’t?

      I’m sorry that happened, it really sucks.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        He’ll say that of course he would, if you give him the chance. Ask instead whether he *has* ever given that feedback to a male employee… and also how many other women he’s told it to.

    3. DarthVelma*

      He damaged the relationship by being sexist. At this point, no one has an excuse for not knowing how telling a woman to smile more is sexist garbage. His non-pology is just icing on the sexist cake.

    4. I'm that guy*

      You can ask him if he’s ever said those two things to a man. Maybe he will get it (but probably not).

    5. M*

      I kind of wonder if maybe it’s worth asking him what the overall issue is that he sees where that’s the advice? It sounds like that was not a part of this conversation; it sounds like he said it and didn’t give a rationale for this odd, definitely gendered advice. Maybe mentioning something about how you’re trying to find as many potential solutions as possible to the issue, and that you want to find solutions that are measurable and easy to see if you’re implementing. (On top of being weirdly gendered despite him saying he didn’t mean it that way, softer tone and smiling more is kind of just difficult to implement consistently if you’re not naturally that way…)

      I also think his answer would also potentially provide some context as to whether he actually sees some sort of issue and just came up with a bad solution, or whether there’s not a real concern. In terms of fixing the relationship, I am not sure there’s a great way — it kind of sounds like he’s pretty insistent thus far on not engaging with you on this topic, which is one that’s kind of a big deal in my eyes (as a fellow woman). I also don’t think it’s the worst idea to get HR’s perspective anyway, particularly if you don’t find any actual concern prompting this weird commentary. Let us know what happens

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

      Bad Advice Fairy here: Bury him in research on the topic if you can. He probably won’t read any of it, and still won’t “get it” if he does read it, but he’ll have a harder time telling you you’re being emotional and illogical if somewhere in the pile is a male researcher who has documented the problem. s/

      Not so bad advice fairy: I think by providing him the nice out of acknowledging that he didn’t “mean it” it allowed him to see it as a YOU problem not a HIM problem. i.e. “Ok, good, SHE get’s it; she’s just having a bad day,” kind of way. Next time, don’t let him off the hook; tell him why it’s wrong and then stay silent and let him squirm with his feelings.

      1. JustaTech*

        Snarky Advice Fairy: Play “Aaron Burr, Sir” from Hamilton, specifically the lyrics “Talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for”. (I seriously think this is the only time I’ve heard “smile more” directed at a guy.)

    7. Zombeyonce*

      This sounds like something that only HR is going to be able to explain to him. I do think it’s worth one more conversation but if that doesn’t get through to him, your best bet is reporting it to HR. If you don’t, all your future interactions are going to be colored by this, you’ll likely continue to get sexist feedback, and you’ll find yourself getting more and more resentful (ask me how I know). I love the advice of others above of asking him if he’s ever given this feedback to male reports and giving him links to articles about how women receive this kind of advice and how it’s sexist. (Google “sexist feedback women get at work” for a litany of articles to share.) After that, you have fully done your due diligence by trying to explain it to him yourself.

      If he still won’t rescind this feedback, he really should be reported to HR. You and all of his future female reports deserve actual professional feedback, not gendered and sexist advice, no matter the intent. Good intent does not excuse sexist actions. He isn’t going to like being told he’s wrong by HR, but he should have already started to figure out by that point that he is. HR isn’t going to like that a manager is not only being sexist, but withholding actual career development from his female employees. Because that’s exactly what happened. Not only did he give you sexist feedback, he gave you absolutely no feedback that he would have given a man in your position, and no feedback that will actually help you move forward in your career.

      If you feel nervous about talking to HR or feel like it’s too big of a reaction, please hear me when I say that your boss has just shown that he doesn’t see you in the same way that he sees male reports. He may be friendly, he may be warm, he may be absolutely positive he’s not sexist, but he does not actually view your work as equal. The only way you’re going to get equality here is by forcing it or leaving. His unconscious and implicit biases (use those words with HR) are affecting your job and the quality of the management you’re receiving, and that is unacceptable. He needs to receive training to correct these issues, and it needs to happen immediately. He needs to understand apologizing for your reaction rather than what he said clearly shows that he does not understand why what he said was wrong, and that makes you fearful of how else he’s viewing your work and you as an employee. If you have any female peers under his management, I’d ask them what kind of feedback they’ve received as well to see if there’s more support you can get when talking to HR.

      I really hope you’re able to get some justice here, because you’re fighting the good fight.

      1. kbeers0su*

        I agree with this. If this person has also supervised with this company for some time and therefore submitted documented feedback on other employees to HR in the past, they should be able to look for patterns in his feedback. That will help support your case that he 1) has almost assuredly never told a man to have a softer tone or smile and 2) that he has likely given men actual feedback.

        If you want to go back to him before you take it to HR, I’d also say something like “I’ve been thinking about your feedback on my tone and needing to smile more. Can you give me some specific examples of times this would have helped me be a better supervisor?” And then continue to dig into whatever ridiculous answers he gives you- if he can name any. Especially if he can’t give you even some BS situation to consider, then you’ve got even more clear evidence that he’s giving you a sexist opinion on your behavior and not professional feedback.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Even if he has told men to smile more (which we all know is highly doubtful), should managers be in the business of giving “personality” feedback to their direct reports? I’d say no, that it’s outside of their purview. It’s one thing to tell a manager that they need to pay attention to how their employees are treated (which he did not do well or appropriately); it’s another to tell someone what to do with their face.

          I really like the idea of HR looking for patterns in his previous feedback to male and female employees. I wonder how many women he’s even hired into management positions?

    8. Malarkey01*

      Just to make sure I’m clear you are HIS supervisor correct? I’m a little unclear since you said it was feedback on how to improve as a supervisor but also that you’d speak to his boss.

      My advise changes based on whether you work for him, he works for you, or he’s a peer.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Sorry for the lack of clarity. This is my supervisor who was giving me advice specifically about how to improve as a supervisor myself to my own direct reports.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Gotcha- so if this were me, and you said you have a good relationship with him in the past and if this isn’t part of a broader pattern of gendered treatment or sexist behavior, I personally would let it go as something that he just cannot or will not understand. NOT THAT ITS OKAY, but this comes up in race a lot where people without the life experience and prism of a race are unable to truly understand how a comment or micro aggression is wrong and discussion just makes them double down. Sometimes the best place to settle, for your individual circumstances, is an apology and understanding that he won’t say it again, and that the best outcome FOR YOU is that’s where it ends. Only you know if that’s your situation.

          You could absolutely escalate this or revisit it with more articles and discussion, but it most likely will not end with him abjectly apologizing and your working relationship going super well. While it’s BS, other than HR telling him not to do it again, you probably aren’t going to gain much there. It’s possible that you’re speaking up and a little time will make him reevaluate it and educate himself on why that’s a crappy thing to say.
          Best of luck!

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      I’d have been so tempted to smile sweetly at him and say, “well bless your sexist little heart!” (For those not familiar with the phrase, “bless your heart” is southern for “go f yourself!”)

    10. Retail Not Retail*

      Telling you to smile more when you should be in a mask at work is extra stupid. “I am smiling. Right now.” (Not having to smile at guests is the best… until i find myself doing it at a small child who obviously can’t tell.)

      1. Middle Manager*

        In fairness, we’re working from home still, so we can see each other’s full faces on zoom.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Children jolly well can tell if you’re smiling under your mask. I smiled at a cute little girl the other day, forgetting I had my mask, and she smiled right back at me. Middle manager, maybe she should replace you at work! /s

        1. Retail Not Retail*

          True! Kids are unpredictable in what they notice. I wave and say hi now. (I also wear sunglasses at work like 90% of the time so i can’t even smize)

    11. Just wondering...*

      I don’t think I saw this in the comments, but does he have a soft tone and smile often?

    12. Observer*

      I would have one more conversation with him, and if he doesn’t get it, do let HR know – not that they are likely to change anything but you want it on record that he has sexist standards.

      The things he needs to hear are

      1. Impact is important, not just intent. And impact has a lot to do with history and current unequal norms. He doesn’t get to ignore those without repercussions. (Obviously, you need to be more tactful than I am.)’

      2. Ask him exactly why you need to have a softer tone and smile more? What problem are you trying to address and what makes this the best way to address this?

      3. Has he ever said this to a male subordinate? I’d be willing to bet that the answer is NO, so why are you the first person he has had to say this to?

      1. TiffIf*

        2. Ask him exactly why you need to have a softer tone and smile more? What problem are you trying to address and what makes this the best way to address this?

    13. Please don't*

      I would want him to elaborate by giving specific examples of where the two pieces of feedback would have improved a situation.
      I wouldn’t ask whether he’d ask a male colleague the same thing because he would most likely say yes of course.
      I wouldn’t ask either whether he gave this advise already to a male colleague because he’d go on about people having different development areas so he cannot give cookie cutter advice.

    14. mediamaven*

      I do think it’s important to ask yourself, am I putting off a negative tone and that’s why I’m getting this feedback. Especially if you work on a team or are managing people.

      1. Observer*

        Why? Since when is the response to “too negative” -> “Be softer and smile more”? And without even any further explanation?

        Hint: Since never. This comment is not a response to genuine negativity – there are a lot of other responses that are far more likely and far more useful.

  9. Flaxseed*

    My boss effusively praised my colleague for a piece of work then blanched when my colleague awkwardly pointed that I’d done it. She then changed the topic and started talking about something else.

    I assisted my colleague on the weekend with a project at work and my boss thanked him for coming in on the weekend and working. Again, my colleague pointed out to her that I was also there helping him and THEN my boss thanked me.

    When she assigns work to me, she won’t give specifics (“Just get it done”), but will then pick it apart because it wasn’t how she wanted it. Um, I’m not a mind reader. I tried to ask questions about it, but she is too busy and there is no one else to ask.

    Is this a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation? Is there any way to improve relations or are these bad signs?

    1. King Friday XIII*

      I think you could apply the advice from the “my boss praises literally everyone but me” letter from this week. Probably your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. I’m sorry, that sucks.

    2. Malika*

      See ‘my boss never praises me for my work’ for a compedium of advice.
      I have yet to experience a working relationship that improved if the boss was critical, avoidant and a big fan of moving goals posts. You could try having a honest conversation about how you feel at work. My experience with convos like that is that it lead to defensiveness and even more stonewalling. Maybe someone else has had a better experience?

    3. Zombeyonce*

      These are very bad signs. As much as it sucks to hear, it sounds like your boss just doesn’t like you. Unfortunately, that’s not easy, or sometimes even possible, to change. She seems to actively avoid doing things that will let you succeed. You could try a last-ditch effort of asking her if she sees serious problems with your work and see what she says. If she says yes, you can ask her what you can do to improve. That is your chance to improve your work and your relationship. If she brushes you off, there’s pretty much no hope, and I’d recommend looking for work elsewhere.

    4. Birdie*

      Yeah, your boss probably just sucks, but I want to say kudos to your coworkers for making a point to redirect credit your way and not letting her get away with ignoring your contributions.

    5. Firecat*

      Sounds like your boss personally dislikes you. I’d focus on keeping your head down, letting the negativity around your deliverables roll off you as much as you can, and continuing to build positive coworker relationships.

      If you think these behaviors could be due to race/sex etc. Then I would also add start documenting these behaviors and witnesses; particularly when your boss stops praising as soon as she learns it was you.

      I’d be looking to switch teams or departments soon too. This is not a tenable situation for most people.

    6. pcake*

      Keep a log of these events with the dates and times. This isn’t a boss who will ever promote you, and she may give you undeserved poor reviews or fire you without cause. Document, document, document.

  10. Daniel*

    So I’m back today working in the office for the first time since March 16. I’d been WFH the whole time but now we are moving to 25% capacity in our building.

    In terms of safety, everything feels good in here–people wear masks when going to place to place, there are acres of space between people, and plenty of hand sanitizer all around. The part that I didn’t anticipate was the sheer surrealness of being here. Even on Christmas Eve this place would be more full than it is now (and our office has a tradition of taking days off before the holiday). The kitchens are usually packed but I had it to myself when I was making my tea.

    All of this is good in a health and safety way, but did anyone else have a jarring experience the first time back?

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      In a very similar manner at a different time, yes.

      I went on an eight week mat leave in late autumn from a booming construction site. The contractor I worked for had upwards of 200 tradesmen on the site.

      Then “the first ripple” of 2008-2009 happened, and the project was mothballed at Thanksgiving while I was still on leave. I came back the first week of December…to less than 5% of the previous workforce being on a ghostly shell of a site. It was exactly as you said, utterly surreal.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      It is very . . . odd. And as we came back in stages, I have watched people come back to an office that already has new COVID-19 norms that they don’t know. It is a bit jarring all over again as they don’t follow safety protocols they are not quite familiar with yet and adjust to new work flows and policies.

      I think this must be similar for many offices and people.

    3. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Well, kind of. I’m one of the few who stayed in the office when everyone else went home, so there are currently 9 of us in a space that typically holds 70-ish. It’s – yeah, it’s weird! However, there are 4 of us kinda “lumped” together in our area – plenty of space between us, but close enough we can hear each other pretty well. When one of us is gone, it’s kinda lonely! It just takes awhile to get used to, but honestly, the quiet is pretty nice most days!

    4. JustaTech*

      No, but that’s because we were already really low-density in my area before the WFH, and of all the people in our building, my area is the most likely to be back anyway (because we do lab work that has to be done on-site, while other floors that can be 100% WFH are totally deserted).

      I think the bit that will be surreal is when I do finally go back full time and realize that the reason some of the seats are empty is because those people were laid off and are never coming back.

    5. Kara S*

      I went back into an office in June when I started my job. My in person interview only saw ~8 people in the office but my first day in there were almost 20 people. I had a panic attack when I got home because it was very unexpected that there would be so many people. Now I am at home full time because they do not take COVID very seriously :~)

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yes it does feel really weird. There is usually a lot of break area conversation at my job and now there’s like maybe 4 people here each day. I work in a university so it’s even weirder for me since there are not nearly as many people in the common areas. Usually its like a trout swimming up stream to get from one building to another. Now maybe there will be only a few people seen at a time.

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

      I had something similar but very quickly got used to it, like within the first 2-3 trips back into the office.

      It is a bit like walking into the aftermath of some invisible apocalypse!

    8. Indy Dem*

      While our whole building (over 3000 employees) is still WFH, some are able to come in on a case by case basis – but only to a 25% capacity. Two people in our department did so, and liked it at first, but then they were the only two people on the whole floor, and didn’t even come in on the same days. Then, they closed all but three of the floors, so they were even in our own area, so they both stopped coming in (one of them does if it’s a meeeting heavy day for the better wifi).

    9. Anhaga*

      It’s not just you. My (really really small) company has been back in our office space since mid-June. We have a string of offices in a co-working space and it has been incredible how empty the co-working space is–it was always at least 3/4 full in the past. Now the main people here are those of us who have actual offices. That does make it less scary to be in the office as COVID cases are climbing in our area, but it’s still weird.

    10. Retail Not Retail*

      When we closed, all the office workers went wfh, while some of us operations folks stayed behind.

      It was kinda spooky going in one of the admin buildings and seeing the covid safety posters while the place was empty.

      It was FUN being closed for us though – headphones or blaring music from your phone, vehicles wherever you wanted them, complete attention from (identifying info). And then we reopened, back to normal.

    11. Partly Cloudy*

      For me, it’s weird but it’s not. I started my job remotely during COVID and I do stop by the office once or twice a week for like an hour at a time (to scan the mail for my dept, print, etc.) and I’m usually more or less alone when I’m there. But since I’ve never physically worked there full time, it’s surreal because I know it would feel weirder if I had, if that makes sense.

      One of my co-workers has St. Patrick’s Day decorations up at her desk and seeing THAT every time is weird and sort of sad. It’s very The Stand, even though no one died.

  11. MissBliss*

    After several years of reading AAM, I’m finally at the stage where I believe I might as well just submit the application if the job seems interesting. I can figure out whether or not I actually want it further down the road, and I’m not getting psyched out that I might not be qualified.

    Last night I found a part-time position with an organization I’ve admired for years in another city about 4/5 hours away– but it’s fully remote. The city has a much, much higher cost of living, so the part-time salary would be comparable or slightly higher than my current (full-time) salary. It’s a job in my field (fundraising) but the organization’s mission is focused on a type of work I used to do as a program manager and currently do as a volunteer, and which has impacted my life personally, so although there are a few fundraising experience related qualifications I don’t have, I have a really strong application.

    So I’m going to do it. I’m going to apply. It might be a long shot, but it could also be an incredibly unexpected 2020 thing to happen. I am accepting any and all good luck vibes.

      1. MissBliss*

        It will be a fantastic opportunity for the right person– knocking on wood the person is me! Thank you!

  12. Dwight Schrute*

    Anxiety help!! Recently my anxiety has spiked and is really impacting my ability to function normally. I started on lexapro two weeks ago today and haven’t noticed a difference yet. I also started a new job this week! I’m worried that I’m being productive or focused enough on work because of my debilitating panic attacks and anxiety right now. Does anyone have any tips to get through this phase until I hopefully start to feel better on meds? I don’t want my boss to think I’m normally this way because I’m not but also don’t want to disclose a mental health issue if I don’t need to. Please help!!

    1. King Friday XIII*

      I think if you just started a new job, some anxiety is normal and there probably isn’t a huge expectation for your productivity, so you may be able to ride it out that way. I know that in the short term, I can usually function while spiraling for a few weeks, especially if I can arrange things outside of work to accommodate it. Take care of yourself as much as you can outside of work, take a lot of notes at work (taking notes is soothing for me, but also it gives you something to refer back to when everything is blank later) and I believe you can do this. I hope the lexapro is great once it kicks in.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Thank you! Yes I’m a note taker too! I just don’t feel myself at all! Had a huge meltdown after my first day feeling really defeated and worried about it long term. I’m hoping the meds help! I know they’ve helped a lot of people in my life so fingers crossed I have a positive result as well. Trying to chug along until then and thankful I’m working from home so I can manage the anxiety in a comfortable environment

        1. King Friday XIII*

          Working from home sounds like a huge advantage if you can leverage it! You may not feel like yourself now but you’re doing your best to be an even better you.

    2. Artemesia*

      Are you getting therapy and some tools for managing anxiety in addition to the meds? What really helped me when I experienced horrible levels of anxiety/insomnia was some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and then. some mindfulness stuff that I found on line. Now I spend a few minutes before bedtime with on line mindfulness videos and it has helped and some of the little techniques for calming myself down with breathing exercises and mind exercises do help. I am dealing with a family crisis that is going to provide endless occasions for anxiety indefinitely but I think it might help for job anxiety too. And if you are doing all of that — well consider asking your therapist for suggestions.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Yes! I’ve been in therapy for almost 2 years and have recently increased my visits. It’s helpful but I’m still struggling!

    3. Lyudie*

      Hang in there! SSRIs take a while to kick in so you might have another week or two before you feel the Lexapro, and even then it might ramp up a bit. I was on that for years, it did help me quite a bit (eventually it stopped working, which does happen, and I’ve had to switch to something else). Try taking some small breaks when things feel overwhelming if you can…walk around the building, get a coffee, find a quiet spot for a few minutes. This is easier to do at home of course, but if you are in the office you can hopefully still do that. I doubt anyone will think anything of it if you need to “stretch your legs” now and then to get a break.

      (I know you didn’t ask about the meds but I had a few side effects on Lexapro that weren’t mentioned to me in advance…trouble sleeping, vivid dreams, sweating. The pros definitely outweighed the cons but it helps to be aware of these things in advance IMO).

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Oh my goodness! Yes I sweat too, I’m always sweaty even before the meds but I have noticed that I’m a bit sweatier than normal
        On some days. I’m really hoping it helps me. This is the first SSRI I’m trying.

        1. Lyudie*

          It was the first one I was put on too, it did work well for me and doesn’t have as much on the side effects as some others….less weight gain, for sure. Lots of folks have to try multiple meds and/or adjust doses, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t pan out…totally normal. (hopefully this isn’t all too off topic haha).

          Good luck and hang in there <3 I have anxiety too and while it's still a struggle, the meds do make a huge difference.

          1. Birdie*

            Yes, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the right medication, so it’s totally fine if that ends up being the case! The one I’m on now was I think the third I tried (and one of the rejected ones was Lexapro, actually). I imagine your doctor has a med check planned with you at some point to see how things are going with this one.

            1. Dwight Schrute*

              Yes! My follow up is in about 2 weeks! Here’s to hoping I find the right med and dose soon! Thanks for your advice

        2. ..Kat..*

          Also, you may need a higher dose if you don’t see improvement in the coming weeks. Stay strong, best wishes being sent to you.

    4. Disco Janet*

      Guided meditation really helps with mine! You can find some on Youtube, although I’ve found the paid apps like Calm, Headspace, or Aura to be more effective.

    5. Fiona*

      You’ll get through this! Everyone muddles through the first few weeks of a job in the best of circumstances, so I imagine you are being quite hard on yourself.

      These strategies might not work for everyone but for me, this is what helps:
      – Imagining a worst case scenario. In your case, what is the worst case scenario? Probably that you drop a ball and your boss has a talk with you about sharpening your focus. Doubtful that will happen in the first few weeks, but if it does, you can simply say that you’ve been managing a health issue but it’s being resolved (which is true!).
      – Exercise. Ugh. I HATE it but it’s good for anxiety and for distraction and calming one’s nerves.
      – Reminding myself that even though I am spiraling about my boss (or friend or colleague or relative) potentially thinking negative things about me, the truth is, they are spending 99% of their time thinking about themselves. Not in a bad way, but like, the world is MUCH less concerned with me than I imagine when I’m highly anxious. Your boss has a lot on their plate, most likely. They are probably spending way less time thinking about you than you imagine.

      Lastly, if nothing works and your meds are still not kicking in, I think you can absolutely give a heads up to your boss in a very similar manner as the OP whose grandmother passed away right before starting her job. You don’t have to give any details beyond “Hi boss, just a heads up that I’m dealing with some health issues and wanted to let you know.”

      You got this!

  13. Maisie*

    This is a vent…

    A new coworker (this is her 3rd week) joined my team. We’re in the same position, but report to different people and work on different accounts/projects. She has an extensive background, but during the interview, she said she wanted to only focus in one specialized area and get more in the weeds. When she came on, I offboarded the account she was going to be working on and her manager said he would take on training her. Initially she’s asked me a ton of questions pertaining to her new account, which is normal and what I would expect. 

    But since she’s started, she’s been coming to me with little issues she really should be going to her boss about. This includes things such as who works on what (within our team), asking me to look at things before she sends her boss or other stakeholders and asking me if there are any of my tasks she can help me with. Every time I tell her the appropriate amount of information, but also tell her to check with her boss. He’s supposed to be training her on all of this, and it’s like she doesn’t want to communicate with him or ask him questions. 

    Something that also put a bad taste in my mouth, is during the only training session I had with her (her first week), she kept going on about how her account was a mess, asked me who managed another account within our team (she has past experience in those projects but it isn’t her current responsibility) and that those accounts are run terribly, she doesn’t have much to do and she used to be a manager (and did what her boss currently does) at her previous job.

    And then yesterday she straight up did something on my account that was my responsibility, outside her current lane. She’s starting to rub me the wrong way. 

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Stop answering her questions and refer her to her boss and/or loop her boss in every time.
      Obviously answer questions that only you might know, but otherwise, be too busy with a deadline of your own or something you have to do so that you are not so available. And then later, email her and her boss to say, did new coworker get an answer to that question?

      As for the account that is your responsibility – can you say to her, I noticed you did x on that account. and then stop talking. Just wait to see what she says. Then tell her, I need to manage my own accounts, please email me a concern instead (or whatever works for you). Then tell your boss if it happens again. New coworker did x in my account, it was not required, I asked her to stop and she did it again. Can you address this.

      1. Workerbee*

        One addendum to the excellent advice above: Tell your boss now, don’t wait for it to happen again. As a manager, I’d want to know.

    2. Bagpuss*

      maybe next time, be a bit clearer with her – [Name], I’ve noticed that you are asking me a lot of questions and asking me to review things before you send them to Boss. Although I was responsible for covering your initial training sessions on [date] because I’m very familiar with [account, I’m nt actually your trainer. Boss is the person who is responsible for your training so he’s the one you need to address these questions to.

      It may also be worth you raising it with your own boss to let them know that you are being asked to do a lot of ongoing training / mentoring for her which is affecting your own work. Tell her you have let the new person know that they need to speak to their boss rather than to you, but ask if your boss can speak to her boss about it if that doesn’t work.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I like this. There was a big misunderstanding once when I joined a new company. I was introduced to John who was my on boarding “buddy” and handled training me on the office stuff and my initial job (basic stuff like here’s the kitchen and here’s how you use these different systems). At some point Sue was suppose to be my actual trainer but no one told me that and Sue actually stopped by once and said “oh Johns great, he can help with anything you need”. So I was annoyed that after the 2 week “buddy period” John sort of disappeared, stopped helping, and was annoyed when I asked for specific work help. After two weeks of this I mentioned to my manager that I was really stuck and John wasn’t available and he said why would John help you, Sue is your trainer…. So I’d start with being clear about your role ending.

    3. My first comment*

      Veet her into the SUN! She is gross. Your venting is more than justified.

      Perhaps you could arrange a meeting with her and one or both of your bosses to make sure everyone is on the same page about who works on which accounts, etc., and then shut her down next time she beers outside her lane?

    4. WFH with Cat*

      Well, three weeks isn’t a long time in a new role … but it does seem that she’s relying more on your time and generosity than is appropriate. As for the questions that ought to go to her boss, you might want to repetitively refer her to her own manager, and stop trying to assist/answer/train her unless your manager has directed you to do so and knows how much time you are spending on those tasks. As for your coworker’s complaints, you could push back in a friendly way: “You’ll really need to address that with your team/manager, but I’m sure you’ll sort it all out eventually!”

      That said, her working on *your* account is a different matter. You should ask why she did that, just to double-check that it wasn’t something she had been directed to do by her manager. If she was acting on her own, you will probably need to ask her to not involve herself in your account unless directed to — and, if she ever *is* told to do so, to discuss it with you before doing anything so that you are aware of the situation. (And you might need to loop your manager in.)

    5. Maisie*

      Thanks for all the replies!
      Re: Her doing my task: She actually wrote in a group chat with me, my boss and her boss that she worked on my account, so they’re both aware. However, I will also address this with my boss next week during our 1:1. I’m also going to clarification from him on all our roles and who is working on what.

      1. Indy Dem*

        Normally, I’d be just as annoyed as you in new worker’s behavior, but one thing this blog has taught me is that some people shy from going to managers for training/guidance because they have have monsters as managers before. I’d give her the benefit of doubt at first, and say things like – Here is the answer, but this is something that going forward you should ask your manager, it’s a good question, and perfectly reasonable to ask them. Even pointing out that new worker asking questions of the manager will help them foster a solid relationship with them. But if it continues after that, definitely – no answer, and ask your manager.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Does everyone know that she did this without consulting you and that you don’t want her doing it?

      3. pcake*

        But are they aware she didn’t ask you in advance, you didn’t ask for her help, and you weren’t informed she worked on your work till afterward?

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

      she kept going on about how her account was a mess, asked me who managed another account within our team (she has past experience in those projects but it isn’t her current responsibility) and that those accounts are run terribly, she doesn’t have much to do and she used to be a manager (and did what her boss currently does) at her previous job.
      You could try being politely direct with her when she brings stuff like this up. She knew the job level she was taking when she accepted it so if she is unhappy with a step down from manager, she needs to accept that gracefully or decide if this job is the right fit for her. Other accounts may not be managed the way she would prefer, or the way she used to do it, but it’s rude and insulting to her coworkers to say they are run terribly — the business wasn’t imploding before she graced you with her presence. Since she’s new, she should be focusing on her accounts and getting up to speed on the way things are done at this office regardless of her past experience or opinions on how they are being managed.

      I bet the reason she isn’t going to her boss with any questions is that she doesn’t respect them — she sees herself as an equal so she isn’t going to be “trained.” She’ll ask you questions and fiddle with your accounts because she sees you as an “assistant,” and that’s what assistants do — assist.

  14. Kobayashi Maru*

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with a small toxic office environment?

    The secretary keeps tabs on people and tells my boss. She even told me about writing down another coworker’s whereabouts. (ie: Time they left, time they came back, etc.)

    I think she is keeping tabs on me now though. My boss was out of the office, but when she came back, she asked how my lunch was and where I went- even though I never told her that I went out.

    They’re dramatic types who will get mad if I don’t say good morning to them or if I don’t say good night, they ignore me in the morning.

    They don’t talk to me or socialize, yet tell me that I’m quiet. When I try to speak to them, they give brief answers or ignore me.

    Is there any way to stay sane while working in an environment like this one? Does anyone have similar experiences? What did you do?

    1. Been There*

      She may have been told to keep tabs on people. It may not be her choice. I worked for a place like that once. The tab-keeper hated it, but there was nothing she could do.

      Sometimes people need time to warm up to the new-people (of course some people are just jerks). How much time has it been? If less than two weeks, I would give it more time. You could also see if they want to join you for lunch sometime? I’ve seen DRAMATIC shifts in people the second they leave the office. One former co-worker in particular was the worst jerk I had ever experienced, but once they left the office you could literally see their body language shift and they were so much fun, until we walked back in.

      All you can do is remember it’s not about you, and try to engage with them more to see if they just have to warm up to you.

    2. Black Horse Dancing*

      Your boss may have told her to do this. No matter what, your boss should be taking care of this. Bring it to boss’ attention curiously–not angrily.

      And saying good evening and good morning is common civility. And your boss may be asking about lunch for curiosity/simple chat. She may not have been told you were out but took a guess or someone mentioned ‘Yeah, X is at lunch/went to lunch at 12:30.: etc.

    3. MsNotMrs*

      In my last job, we had a tabs-keeper and everyone thought she was ridiculous. At one point, I got a new desk and so I was cleaning out the old one, and I came upon one of her logs. The one that sticks out most to me was she noted a female co-worker had shown up wearing PURPLE PANTS–technically a dress code violation, but this was a jeans-and-polos kind of office, so definitely not something anyone would actually care about.

      As hard as it is, just try to ignore it. There’s a good chance everyone finds it just as silly or rude as you do.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I’ve been the secretary who had to keep tabs on co-workers, and believe me, it was not my idea. I was told to do it. If I had refused, I would have been fired. The receptionist and I were both told to keep tabs on co-workers. Both of us had to do it, because I went out to lunch from noon until 1:00 PM, and she went out from 1:00 PM until 2:00 PM. So both of us had to do it, because if a co-worker came back from lunch at 1:59 PM, I wouldn’t have known if she had left at 12:01 PM or 12:59 PM, because I wasn’t around to see.

      While some people didn’t blame me, because they knew that keeping tabs wasn’t my idea, others got angry at me, but what could I do?

    5. Kara S*

      This doesn’t really sound toxic to me. The secretary may have been asked to do this and your boss’ question is not that abnormal, even if they hadn’t been briefed by the secretary that you left.

      I’m also curious what your coworkers are doing that makes you feel like they’re actually mad at you when you don’t say good morning/good night. Do they make cold remarks? Directly ignore when you ask them questions? It sounds like you just aren’t saying hello/goodbye and so they are taking your cue by not being overly friendly the next day. When you try to speak to them, are you genuinely trying to have a conversation and get to know them? Or are you asking questions that would typically elicit a one word response? It seems like because you are (rightfully or not) seen as the quiet and closed off coworker, they are just trying to follow your lead on how to interact with you.

      1. Kobayashi Maru*

        One told me point blank, “You didn’t say good night to me.” The thing is, I did say good night, but she was on the phone. Luckily, my coworker backed me up and said, “Kobay did say good night, you were on the phone.”

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      First off, say good morning and good night, it’s good manners and that way they know that you have indeed left and are not just chatting to someone you bumped into on the way back from the loo.
      If they’re not physically in the office, of course you don’t have to run all over the place looking for them, but you say hello when you first see them and good-bye when you leave or when they say it.
      The secretary may have to keep tabs as part of her job so just be friendly to her and stick to your hours and you should be OK. And it’s normal that the boss wants to know whether you’re putting in your time, you’re being paid for it! And the boss may have just guessed you went out for lunch because you usually do? or you didn’t bring stuff to put in the fridge that day? What you’re talking about is not anything to get paranoid over.
      When they say you’re quiet, you have perhaps replaced a total chatterbox who drove them up the wall, especially if they don’t chat with you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they want you to be nattering all the time.

  15. Rusty Shackelford*

    The thing you’ve most wanted to say to someone you work with this week, but couldn’t?

    Here’s mine: “If you feel like people don’t respect you, it’s probably because YOU ACT LIKE A FREAKING CHILD.”

    1. No Tribble At All*

      If all the women in the group are disagreeing with you re: a diversity and inclusion initiative, you probably are mansplaining :)

    2. The Rural Juror*

      “I’m tired of having to go around behind you making sure you’re doing your job.”

      I have to double check every bit of my coworker’s documentation before we can bill a client for management fees. He’s so lazy with his paperwork! He’ll turn in documentation with the wrong project name on it sometimes. If I don’t catch it right away then I have to ask him to correct it last minute. Then it delays my invoices to the clients, which delays our company being paid. Does he not understand where the money for his paycheck comes from?!?

    3. blepkitty*

      “Oh, you’re NOT a first time manager? Dear lord, you’ve done this before and you’re STILL THIS BAD AT IT?”

    4. Lora*

      “This is YOUR JOB. It is not, importantly, MY job. You are the HEAD of [department]. I am the Lead of [completely different department]. If you need MY permission and endorsement to present YOUR analysis, you are in DEEP S#!T for different reasons which you should probably take some time to reflect upon. If you are attempting to enlist me in your efforts to simultaneously play office politics and make a fool of yourself with bad data, you can go kick rocks – and again, as the Head of Your Department, you should not NEED my endorsement to carry out your persona vendetta.”

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “I appreciate that you’re trying to help. However, what you’re doing actually causes me to have to do twice as much work because you aren’t doing it right, and I’ve told you that about a half dozen times. STOP HELPING.”

    6. Jellyfish*

      “You’ve received a clear answer to your question. It’s not the answer you wanted, but repeating the question over and over won’t change the response.”

        1. Buni*

          As the teacher of up to thirty 7yr olds at a time, my most over-used phrase was “You already asked me that, and I already answered it.”, occasionally having to expand with “When you asked me that last time, what did I say?”. Make them repeat it back to you.

      1. Llama face!*

        Haha, we have that person and now they’re trying the “If mom says no, ask dad” stategy and asking another of my colleagues even though both our and their bosses have already told them unequivocally we are not doing the thing.

        1. Llama face!*

          And when my colleague told them, “Llama face! confirmed that your bosses and ours already decided we will not be doing this thing and told you that last time you brought it up,” this person asked my colleague if I was mad at them. I may have gotten a facepalm concussion.

      2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        + infinity to this!
        + double-infinity to them resorting to the “well Mom said no so go ask Dad” theory!


      3. All the cats 4 me*

        We have this person too. She gets louder and more insistent with each iteration of the process.

        Hey, if that is how she wants to spend her time (she bills out at several hundred dollars an hour), shrug, fine by me, I just work here, I am not an equity partner (but she is).

      4. Workerbee*

        This is my boss, who only accepts total agreement to his questions, comments, ideas…and will repeat incessantly if he doesn’t get the right tone or amount of Yesses and I agrees. (Because sometimes it works better just to agree with full intent to keep doing things the right way regardless. He isn’t bright enough to remember anything except that he got an agreement on something.)

        Still. Wastes my time and I resent the salary he gets for that.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        (Its been a rough week for this type of ish. I’ve also had to say “Would you do this to any other coach on a bench during a game? No? Then don’t freaking do it to me!”)

    7. Buni*

      “It’s the AGM in a fortnight’s time? Yes boss, you should absolutely make us work double shifts for this whole week so YOU can take the week immediately before off…”

    8. Lyudie*

      “You are a smart person! You are technical! Why are you struggling with this software, even though you missed the training it’s not *that* weird and complicated!”

    9. RussianInTexas*

      “If you want people to continue to help you, thank them instead of nitpicking the things they missed while copying the boss”.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      It’s a good thing I can’t reach through the computer and slap you, but I do lower the call volume until the meeting focus shifts, which is immensely satisfying.

    11. Disco Janet*

      I’m sorry – are you all actually surprised COVID is spreading? We have multiple board members who supported a no mask, dinner included, off-site ‘fall ball’ since homecoming was canceled, the students don’t wear masks during lunch, you allow bandanas and valve masks, they’re constantly slipping below the noses of students who don’t take it seriously, I’ve had to tell multiple students(16 year olds!) that no, you can’t share food or drinks with your friend, I have 32 kids per class period so they each have about eight students within six feet of them each hour, and admin has been extremely shady about how they’re handling contact tracing and quarantine.

      So why exactly are we acting as if it’s a completely unexpected shock that numbers are going up? Gee, it’s almost like you should have listened to all of our concerns about reopening like this and not being able to keep ourselves or our students safe! Gosh – if only this could have been prevented!

    12. Niniel*

      “I don’t want to do my job, simply because I know that the other people who work here don’t want to do theirs, which means that my work is not completed the way that I intended. Maybe we could hire more people who are competent and can ensure that projects are completed without me having to do the work of 3 people??”

    13. merp*

      “Please, PLEASE, listen to our outgoing message and leave your email address or email us directly if possible.”

      (Not talking about patrons who don’t use email at all, which definitely exist and we value them and will serve them as best we can! But to the patrons who only ever call, leaving us to play endless phone tag with few staff available onsite to return calls, and then get annoyed with us when we give clear instructions about how to reach us best in our message.)

    14. NW Mossy*

      “I understand that the purpose of this 2.5 hour meeting was to ‘build excitement’ about our 3-year strategic plan and new product offerings, but you need to realize that the overwhelming majority of people who work in this so-boring-it’s-a-punchline industry wouldn’t be here if excitement was a pre-req for them to do good work.”

    15. Llama face!*

      “No it doesn’t need more discussion. You need to actually manage them, aka tell your employee that they need to respect my expertise and DO THEIR OWN DAMN JOB.”
      “For the last time- Put your #$@&! mask on!” (To the people responsible for enforcing our mask policy. The irony!)

      Both of these would be to bosses so even a more polite version wouldn’t go over well.

    16. JustaTech*

      “Why did you add a comment to my document to ask for a document number? Of course I know I need a document number. I’ve been doing this for 9 years and I’ve never failed to get a document number. There is no way to even attempt to submit this without a document number. Do you think I’m stupid?”

    17. Helen J*

      “Go away. Leave me alone.”

      Context: I have other things to do besides going to the post office. If you have something coming to the company PO box and it’s THAT important, check out of the cars and go yourself. I’m the admin, not your personal assistant.

    18. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “I cannot believe that you and I are in the same role and you STILL don’t know how to do these things. And you probably get paid more than I do, so eff you.”

      “LMGTFY.” (Actually, that’s a big one, and it’s related to the first thing. Don’t know how to do something in PowerPoint? GOOGLE IT BEFORE YOU WASTE MY TIME.)

      “When I say that I am not feeling well and that I am running a fever and that I am planning to be out of pocket this afternoon, that is not an invitation for you to bombard me with stupid crap that you can very well do yourself, nor is it an invitation to whine to me and tell me I HAVE to do something and can’t leave early.”

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Surely a typo? You don’t actually work in someone’s pocket, right?

        Although it is an intriguing mental image!

          1. All the cats 4 me*

            Thank you, I have honestly never heard that phrase used in this context in over 30 years in the workplace.

            In this part of the world it would only be used to describe having to pay for something and not being reimbursed.

            Different places, different norms!

          2. TiffIf*

            …I’ve never heard it used that way either–out of pocket in work contexts for me exclusively applies to financial things (ie–I paid for it out of pocket and am waiting for reimbursement) or our annual benefits enrollment info where we find out what our max out of pocket medical expenditure is (which technically is financial as well I guess…)

      2. JustaTech*

        Whenever my boss has a problem with Word and asks for my help I’ll ask if he’s googled it. The first time he seemed surprised that this was how *I* had been figuring out problems with Word, and he’s been pretty good about trying to figure stuff out before just asking me.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I have been asked several times how I learned to do something and I almost always say “Google.” Still, they don’t apply it to themselves.

          Lack of resourcefulness is a trait I find really, really frustrating and annoying.

          1. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

            Please at least TRY to figure out how to approach an issue before you come to me.

          2. JustaTech*

            The one that really grates on me is people who refuse to even try to learn new software/technology.

            Yes, I get it, no one likes having to learn yet another video conferencing system. But playing dumb won’t make it go away. Just try.

            And don’t claim you’re too old, either. If my 80 year old grandmother could figure out AOL you can ruddy well learn how to share your screen! (This is especially annoying coming from people who have been using computers their entire career, often with some of the most arcane software every written.)

          3. Elizabeth West*

            Haha, this; I don’t think my mum gets that I don’t know “all that computer stuff.” Whenever anything gets borked, I look it up. There’s almost always a forum where someone has asked the same question. I’ve always done this at work too, before I bother the IT crowd.

            And I’ve had numerous IT people tell me that’s exactly what they do.

          4. Lady Meyneth*

            I had a boss like this once. The first couple times I helped her, she asked how I learned it and I said Google, and she said that was impossible because those skills couldn’t be found on Google or she’d know it too. So after that, I just smiled and told her I’d needed to do that in my previous job (which true, I did need basic Office skills there). I mean, if she wanted to think I was a genius, who was I to stop her! And it did net me a tidy bonus come evaluation day.

        2. All the cats 4 me*

          I rely on google for how-tos for word and excel. Apparently I am now the office Excel master as a result. Shrug, ok, but it is not that hard!

          It does help that I love excel and have negotiated a peace treaty with word.

          Although I will add that I find it extra irritating when the people who won’t learn or look for how to use word (or excel) are the admin team….. cause, it’s sort of their job… to know how to use these tools!

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I am giggling madly over “negotiated a peace treaty with word”.

            I am also the resident Excel/Word/”why is my computer doing this” master, via a healthy appreciation for Google. Though I find that it’s often a thing where I just know what terms to use in a search to find the right answer more quickly.

            1. All the cats 4 me*

              You are welcome! The main points of dispute are numbered lists interrupted by unnumbered headings. Word always tries to sneak in a double indent, but we have a brief meeting and amicably resolve things.

              Word is much more easy going for mail merge tasks, which is a nice break for me!

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      “I know you’re upset for getting called out for not doing your job. AND you just spent three hours and $20 worth of office supplies making a ‘who is here and who is work from home’ sign for your two-person team.”

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        tied with “You’re the grownup. You have the ability to learn a new way of doing things to respond to the situation.”

    20. Birdie*

      “I understand that you want to be huffy and territorial with [other department] over a completely trivial office politics things because they did it to us first, but instead of acting like a seven year old, maybe remember how everyone thought they were being completely absurd and petty and be better than that.”

    21. Mid*

      “There is one of me and 10 of you. I can’t do everything immediately, but I promise I’m doing my best here.”

    22. Anon for this*

      I actually did say this!
      Patron could not hear me so she pulled her mask off her face.
      Me: oh, your mask has come off your nose.
      Patron: I’m trying to hear you.
      Me: you can hear with your nose?
      Patron: *flaps arms, leaves

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        But I find when I can’t see or hear something, taking my mask off does help. I think it is because removing a distraction helps me concentrate.

    23. NeonFireworks*

      “I’m on mandated WFH. You do not get to passive-aggressively snark at me about how long it’s been since I last went to the office.”

    24. Anonymous 1*

      Please do not tell me to research this again. I’ve researched it, I’ve looked at everything. I came up with the answer. Telling me to research it again will not change the answer even though you don’t like it. I get you don’t like it, I get you don’t want to do it but me asking 5 more people and spending more time on it will not change it.

    25. Generic Name*

      “No, you are not being discriminated against because you are a Christian (white) man. You are sexually harassing coworkers and saying inappropriate things in front of clients. And people don’t take you seriously because of your frat-boy demeanor coupled with wearing a baseball hat and sneakers when all the other men your age are wearing button downs and leather shoes.”

    26. LuauCarly*

      “Has no one ever taught you how to ask for things politely and respectfully?”

      “It would be a lot more effective if you simply asked for what you needed instead of passive-aggressively hinting about it.”

      (In response to ‘Only four on the phones???’)
      “Yes, according to the schedule you made, it would appear so.”

      1. LuauCarly*

        Oops, I forgot one…

        “If we were all back in the office, would you think it was appropriate to follow people into the bathroom and tell them you really need them to get back to work? No? Then what makes you think it’s appropriate to do essentially the same thing via text message while we are remote?”

    27. ObserverCN*

      “You told me I’d be getting a big payment at the end of September, but it’s almost November, I haven’t gotten it and you’re not responding to my emails. Am I getting the money or not?”

    28. ginger ale for all*

      I asked for a yes or no answer. Please be more concise and considerate of people’s time.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        I saw this one play out in real life earlier this year.

        It….was awkward for all of us.

    29. Lab Rat*

      You made legislation to help fix the thing in the next few years and by some miracle funded it. You then said the progress is great and we’re ahead of legislated schedule. Now you are saying we need to find a way to fix the thing. Could I please remind you of sentences 1 and 2 and beg you to stop trying to fix the thing? It would really help us fix the thing with a lot less stress.

    30. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Fortunately it was Zoom and I had both audio and video off, because my eyes ached from rolling.

      It was very difficult not to employ the classic line, “I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain this to you.”

      I disengaged. It is not my circus.

    31. Indy Dem*

      Not everyone here is career focused and looking for “development”, to some it’s just a job. A good one we love, but a job, not “a passion”.

    32. Coffee Bean*

      1. “We both know it’s not going to be a quick question. Cut the crap” . . . replying to someone approaching you over IM saying “I have a quick question”

      2. “I have told you that I have no knowledge of this process. It falls outside of my area of responsibility. Why are you expecting me to do the research here?. You can Google this just as easily as me.”

      3. You are the one emailing me asking if we can have a call. That means you schedule it, buckaroo. Not me.

      **It’s been a rough week.

    33. Environmental Compliance*

      Does talking to a printer count?

      Because I may or may not have very crossly told the printer to quit its shit, stop lying to me and telling me you’re jammed when you quite obviously are NOT, you lazy useless thing. And I definitely did *not* say this when the freaking DIRECTOR was behind me.

      In my defense, there’s basically no one here, it was after normal office hours, and I hadn’t seen anyone for about 45 minutes, and he walks apparently near silently.

      1. Llama face!*

        I regularly talk smack to our printers and copiers. They’ll do the same thing as yours or they’ll decide immediately after doing two jobs that oh dear *helpless hand flail* they just realized they have to wake up and go through the entire five minute wake up cycle.
        Office technology deserves everything that is said about it. ;D

    34. Elenna*

      “Look, we already knew our process wasn’t quite correct. We specifically told you (and the audit team, who seperately noted this issue) that we didn’t have time to fix it this quarter and the data created by this process wasn’t used for much. The audit team was okay with it. If you absolutely had to do it with the correct process, couldn’t you have at least *told* us you were doing that so I didn’t have to spend three hours today trying to figure out why stuff wasn’t lining up???”

    35. TechWorker*

      It’s not my job, nor my teams job, to have a meeting to explain how something works when it’s standard infra we don’t own! The documentation and help forums I pointed you to should be sufficient.

      Oh, and going to ask my colleague after I’ve said no (and you know he doesn’t know that?) cheeky af.

    36. Emma*

      “I swear to god, if I find a single one of your dirty tissues lying on a shared surface during a plague I will make you eat it”

    37. Esmeralda*

      Shut up, just shut up, do you EVER think before you open your mouth, shut UP, why do you always jump in with your dumbass observations and throw off the meeting SHUT UP! OMG please stop talkinggggggg SHUT THE F UP.

      (ahhhh, now I feel better!)

    38. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Its a tie, between “I simply do not understand how this department can be full of competent people, yet collectively be so horrifically incompetent” and “Shut up!”.

      Same person ironically.

    39. AnonNurse*

      What I said to two surgeons who left one patient’s room and entered another (all without cleaning their hands), “Please wash your hands.”

      What I wanted to say? I can’t even…

    40. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      It’s Sunday and I’m hanging out at last with my daughter who I hadn’t seen since before her covid test, so no I’m not going to spend an hour discussing the finer points of that text that you’ve had since Wednesday and not bothered to look at during the working week.

      (I’m a freelancer and it was a client, so I let the call go to answering machine. Two minutes later I have a recorded message, text message and email from him)

    41. Urgh*

      No, I will not give you editing rights because last time you disregarded my guidelines and I had to clean up your mess.

  16. WhoKnows*

    Y’all, I am at a LOSS. I have been applying for jobs that are lateral moves – job title I already have, job function I already do. I work in a subsection of a specific type of industry and am applying to those exact same jobs. So for example, let’s say I work at a company that makes playgrounds, and I make the swings. I’m applying to other playground manufacturing companies specifically to make swings. My industry is growing ever smaller, but still, openings come up from time to time and I apply because my workplace is a little dysfunctional.

    I cannot get an interview to save my life – for nearly 2 years. I’m baffled. I have taken the advice from AAM to write a highly personalized cover letter that doesn’t just reiterate my resume, and I’m perfectly qualified for the jobs I’m applying to because I ALREADY HAVE IT. Help? What else can I do? Anyone else have experience like this? I know I have a good reputation generally speaking, though I wouldn’t say I’m big on connections in other companies.

    1. Fiona*

      My spouse has been applying to jobs through his school program and they really encouraged people to take advantage of their network. He doesn’t love networking but it has proven to be really helpful for getting interviews. Are you applying cold or through people you know, even distantly? If you can politely reach out to anyone in the field or anyone who knows anyone who knows ANYONE in the field, you might have more luck. (If you’re already doing these things, disregard…and I’m sorry! It’s tough!)

    2. saffie_girl*

      I have been hiring recently, and from that perspective, I have had a couple candidates communicate that ‘they have done this exact job before’ but upon digging deeper, there are some major differences. That is not a problem, I don’t expect anyone to fully know a new position when coming onboard, but what has been concerning is the assumption. When interviewed, these people have been so confident in their knowledge that they asked no questions about how my organization did things nor tried to paint the picture of how their experience can be applied to this job.

      Of course, I don’t know your personal history or the details, so this may not apply to you. For those I have seen, I would have preferred to discover that someone is a perfect fit rather than the assumption that they are. It is a tough market out there now (I am getting a LOT of wildly overly qualified applicants for mid-level individual contributor roles), so I’m sure that is not helping. Good luck!

    3. AnonyMouse*

      You mention spending a lot of time on the cover letter but how’s your resume? Does it just list out your job description or do you highlight how you overperformed? Do you “show” rather than “tell” your skills? etc. I have a mediocre cover letter, but I still get interviews for at least 10% of the *stretch* roles I apply to.

      If you think you’re resume is as good as it can be, then is there anything you can do to improve your candidacy? Take on special projects at work? Look into free/cheap certifications? Volunteer?

      Finally, how long have you been in the role and is that typical? For my type of work, it would be a red flag if I had stayed in the exact same position for the same employer for more than a few years. But I’m in a very competitive / fast growing environment, so that may not be an issue for you!

    4. kbeers0su*

      In most industries I think the expectation is that you would want to move up, otherwise you might get bored. So they may be concerned that you’re only coming to them as a first step to then try and move up. And maybe they’re looking for someone who wants to stay in swing building for a longer period of time. I would make sure that somewhere in your cover letter you’re clear about why you’re looking for a lateral move, specifically. I.e. “I’m passionate about designing swings but want to make sure I continue to challenge myself. While I love traditional swing-building, I’m really interested in expanding my knowledge on the subject and joining your team in the tire-swing department.” If there isn’t something like that to pull in, maybe address something you admire about the company, or the shorter commute, or literally anything that helps explain why you’d happily take the lateral move.

      1. WhoKnows*

        Thank you, this is really helpful! I was worried that explaining why I want to leave would be off-putting, but I’m sure I can find a way to fudge that and make it into something nice. Thank you!

  17. Seen It All*

    I have an employee who consistently uses “I seen” in emails and during video calls. These are emails with our customers. Would you correct her?

    1. WhoKnows*

      I would lean toward correcting her for things in writing only. While talking, it could just be seen as a person’s vernacular and I don’t think anyone will think too much of it. But I think in writing is a different story. Maybe something kind of casual like “Hey! I’ve noticed in emails that you’ll sometimes say “I seen XYZ” – would you mind using the fully written out phrase “I’ve seen XYZ” instead? Since this is going to clients, I like to make sure we are all using our best grammar/spelling/etc.”

      (I’m a relatively new people manager though, so curious to see what others say).

      1. Double A*

        Rather than “Our best grammar,” I would suggest you say, “Standard grammar.”

        “I seen” is correct in certain dialects of English, and it’s not better or worse than any other grammar, but the norm is to write in standard English grammar which is “I’ve seen” or “I see.”

    2. Amaranthe*

      If you’re over her, I would. I’d keep it gentle, but since it’s a repeated occurrence, I’d say it warrants an intervention.

      Also, my pet peeve this week is receiving emails from people in other companies who say “would of”. So, solidarity.

      1. pancakes*

        That one really gets to me. I’m not fussed about spoken vernacular—to the contrary, I like variation—but people who do this don’t understand how contractions work! Such a small, simple, grade school basic and they can’t be bothered to pay attention for the brief moment it would take to understand.

        Discussing this with a friend years ago, I wondered why people who are native speakers but have such a loose understanding of how the English language functions don’t write more. On some level it seems like it would be freeing to not understand the basics and make it up as one goes along, but I suppose people like this know they’re missing something. Are they not curious about just what that is, or don’t feel capable of navigating it?

    3. PollyQ*

      I’d say you must correct it for emails, since it’s presenting your company in a terrible light. I’d let it go on internal voice calls, though.

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

        A company went right down in my estimation when not once (I blamed it on autocorrect) not twice (hmm) but three times!, over the course of my emails with them about an issue with my account, the customer service rep wrote apologetically that x had happened “as a pose to” y which was meant to have happened instead.

        The issue/complaint itself was resolved as efficiently as it could be (they were dealing with a 3rd party who were terrible in their response, so that’s a different issue) but it still doesn’t really inspire confidence.

        1. Indy Dem*

          Now I have Madonna’s Vogue in my head – “Strike a pose”. The video too, because I seen it.

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Curious as to where you are located. I moved to Wisconsin from upstate NY almost 20 years ago, having never experienced the use of “I seen” in the written and spoken word. In some places I’ve worked here it seems to be perfectly acceptable, even though it makes me feel like I’m chewing on tinfoil every time I hear someone say it.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Yes. I hear ‘alternate’ grammar from both clients and coworkers. As you say, it is like chewing on tinfoil either way, but it isn’t uncommon.

        Not in the US, but in rural Canada, 50 km from a university city.

    5. NW Mossy*

      Ooh, this is a tough one because while standard English specifies that “I saw/I have seen” is grammatically correct, other forms of English accept “I seen” for the same idea, notably African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

      Against that backdrop, the concept of “correction” is really fraught – who’s to say that standard English is more right than AAVE or another dialect? Is asking a dialect speaker to conform their speech to standard English truly a professional necessity to cater to customers or another way that we reinforce race/class division by tagging dialect speech as “wrong”?

      I don’t have a clear answer to this, but I tend to lean towards leaving it alone unless it’s truly creating a barrier to understanding. I work with a decent number of people who learned English as a second language and/or learned a former-British-colony version of English, which helps a lot in seeing American English dialects in a similar way.

      1. Seen It All*

        Yes, this is definitely a case of AAVE. Because of that, I think I should avoid the correction and address those who may raise an issue with it at that time. I don’t know how well known AAVE is… I knew about it but forgot what is was called or I would have included that in my question.

        1. Observer*

          I still think you can raise it. Just not as “this is wrong” but as “this is non-standard and should not be in written client facing communications.”

          I would not bother with spoken communications, nor would I worry about internal stuff.

          Keep in mind that most of the people who notice is will probably not bring it up with you. They will just draw conclusions. Not FAIR conclusions, but damaging, nevertheless.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I agree. I think you can bring it up as a U.S. formal vs. informal thing rather than a right vs. wrong. Outgoing communications probably ought to be in formal grammar and in whatever dialect the business uses. It is the equivalent of asking a British English speaking colleague to spell “colour” as “color” or a French educated colleague to write “10,000.85” rather than “10.000,85”** as they learned in school

            **This one kicked my butt when I was in a place that used the French format and a broke a ton of spreadsheets on the regular until I broke the English style decimal habit. Then broke a ton more unlearning it when I came home

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              As a Brit living in France, I feel your pain. ONCE I managed to set up an Excel file to do it all properly (for a document in English, on a French computer). It worked that time, I have never managed it since, even following the exact same instructions (but as a wordsmith, I hate Excel with a peculiar passion so there’s that).

        2. Clisby*

          I wouldn’t assume this was a case of AAVE. I grew up in the rural South and plenty of white people said “I seen.”

          1. Clisby*

            My husband grew up in Appalachian Ohio, and plenty of white people there say it, too. I’m actually kind of surprised that it’s being identified as AAVE.

          2. comityoferrors*

            It’s being identified as AAVE by the OP of the question, who presumably knows if this woman is a white southerner or from Appalachia.

            1. Clisby*

              Doesn’t matter. It’s widespread enough among non-African Americans that it’s really just American vernacular.

      2. NeonFireworks*

        This. If people are looking down on it, that’s only because either it’s different from what they use by default, or because they’ve been taught it’s worthy of contempt, or both. There’s no logical or scientific reason why one is better than the other. If you have to tell the employee to change it, you could frame it as needing to code switch.

      3. Observer*

        Not necessarily AAVE, though. The people I have heard it from are NOT Black, and they ARE rather uneducated.

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to stick to standard (not “good) grammar in written communications to clients.

        1. NW Mossy*

          There are definitely circumstances where that makes sense, especially when the “house style” of the organization is standard English and that’s the expectation for broad external communications like marketing materials. In that realm, the difference here can be addressed through editing, just like you’d address a citation format or brand fonts/colors.

          That said, there are also scenarios where standard English can be a barrier and a dialect speaker can actually be more effective depending on the population you’re trying to reach. If Seen It All’s employee is working primarily with customers who speak the same way she does, it can make the customer feel valued and understood that a standard speaker can’t.

          I work in retirement plans, so these two threads cross for me a lot. Our writing needs to reach everyone from a corporate CEO to a high-school dropout to a recent immigrant who may speak no English at all, and we’re trying to talk to all those people about a fiendishly complex and jargon-filled subject. As a result, our house style goes for short, simple sentences, lots of graphics, and an informal tone. It’d be considered unprofessional in other contexts, but for us, it’s what we need to reach the people we serve.

      4. Reba*

        Agree! I don’t consider it “wrong” but rather, not standard or not formal speech. It’s a normal speech pattern in enough contexts. I’d leave it alone for calls and one-to-one written communication, and only correct it for things with a wider distribution, like a newsletter, website or mass email, which should be edited and standardized.

        If you really see it creating an issue between the employee and clients–like they don’t understand each other or you see signs that clients don’t respect the employee and by extension your org–you might discuss it in the context of communicating in a more formal tone or professional tone. But I wouldn’t correct it for the sake of pure grammar alone!

      5. Dancing Otter*

        There are many US households that use another language at home and/or socially. (This is not new. My grandmother refused to speak anything but Norwegian at home.) We expect them to use English in the workplace, and I’m sure it’s far harder for them.

        I think I was about ten when it was made clear that written language had to be more formal than playground vernacular. (This was in a culturally diverse public school.) AAVE is vernacular: it’s right there in the name.

        A lot of rude words (crass, vulgar, profane, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, etc.) are “just the way some people talk.” We don’t accept that because it’s someone’s normal manner of speech, nor should we.

        1. Tiny Kong*

          Oh goodness, let’s not equate vernacular/”non-standard” dialect speech with bigoted speech. Those are not the same thing morally or linguistically.

  18. Anon for this here post*

    My coworker that I work directly with seems to either feel threatened by me or doesn’t want to work with me. She seems nervous around me, but I don’t know how to make her feel comfortable. She is going on vacation and I found out because I overheard her talking to my boss about it. (I wasn’t eavesdropping- they were nearby and talking loudly.)

    We are the only two people who do our work, so I am back-up for her and need to know this. She made some remark about me being nosy or something, but I don’t care where she goes or what she does- I just need to know the days that she is out so I can handle her work. She’ll tell the boss and her friends in a different department (!), but not me. (Which sort of hurts.)

    I don’t want to make a huge deal out of it, but it is important information. How do I deal with this? I tried talking to our boss about it, but he just dismissed it and said, “Oh, that’s just how she is.”

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Can you get a work calendar? (A whiteboard, outlook, etc.). Talk to your boss. We have a huge whiteboard we use and it has the calendar that is filled in monthly and on it on whatever date is written X out at noon, Y off all day, Z gone to wherever for training, etc.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      You need to address this as a work system need and not as a problem with your coworker/how she feels about you/her personality. How did you frame this with your boss? How do you normally find out she’s out?

    3. Zombeyonce*

      I’d actually just leave it be since you’ve already spoken to your boss. If no one tells you she’s out, just don’t cover her work. If her work doesn’t get done and someone complains, you should send that person to your boss or to her. If they come to you, say that you had no idea she was going to be out since neither she nor your boss told you, and that next time, you’d like to be informed so you can cover appropriately. Let them experience the consequences.

      If it’s a complete coverage job (like reception or phone coverage), it’s slightly different. If she isn’t there one day, (even if you know she’s going be out, I wouldn’t let on), let it be for a bit, 30 minutes or so. Then go into your boss’ office and ask, “Is Janet coming in today?” If they look surprised and say that she’s on vacation this week, you have every right to look surprised, slightly offended, and say, “I wish you had told me this ahead of time. What would you like me to do about Priority X and Y that I was going to work on this week?” Again, put the onus on them to solve this problem.

    4. Indy Dem*

      I’d also start demonstrating the appropriate behavior – if you have Outlook or something similar and she is covering for you, send her an Outlook notification of when she will have to cover you. Then you can ask her to do the same.

    5. Lysis*

      I think she was right to go to the boss about her vacation and not you. It is the boss’ job to arrange coverage, that’s not her job and it’s not yours. As a peer, you may not have all of the context for her work and the boss may reassign 90% of her work to you but 10% to herself or someone else. Or maybe decide that task A can be put on hold until your coworker returns. As your peer, she may not have all the context to know if her task X should take priority over your task Y.

      The fact that you overheard them talking and immediately assumed that you were being kept out of the loop instead of assuming that your boss would take care of letting you know what you needed to cover is not good. It either says a lot about you or says a lot about your boss. But it doesn’t suggest anything anything negative about your coworker.

  19. Beancat*

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in about the spirit of salary work a few weeks ago :) I had a few more appointments, so I approached my supervisor in the frame of “there unfortunately wasn’t any other time my doctors could speak with me. I was hoping I could do what we did before, where I work through half my lunch and then step out to take my virtual appointments.” She agreed!

    I’ve also been granted permission to work from home half a day next week because she wants me to do this five hour webex training and we don’t have a quiet place I can do it on site. I’m expected to still stay online and be responsive – I’m hoping maybe this will show that parts of my job can be done from home and that maybe occasionally I could work from home on a day we don’t have clients coming in!

  20. Mbarr*

    For people with “Project Manager” titles out there… Do any of you often feel more like an administrator than a PM? I’m not a certified PM (but I’ve taken training), but I’m described as Project Manager at work. And I’ll be told, “We need you to PM Project X”… But in the end, I’m pretty much an administrator. I set up meetings, create wiki pages for people to populate, etc.

    Granted, the projects I “PM” for are very technical, and way more technical than I can understand, so it’s not like I can pitch in in more depth. Sometimes I just feel like it would be more efficient for the project teams to do the work themselves than let me flounder around, trying to understand what their needs are.

    1. WhoKnows*

      I’m not a PM, but I’ve worked with a lot of them, and while I can tell it sometimes feels like you’re an administator, you ARE managing the project. Your job is to usher things along and make sure that people are doing their jobs on a project. That means setting up meetings for people to discuss projects, and creating documents for others to populate with their work.

      Are you responsible for liaising with other departments as well on these projects? Maybe that’s a way you could feel more in control of the situation rather than an assistant?

    2. Person from the Resume*

      No. There are definitely parts that seem very administrative and sometimes wonder why I’m the one doing it. There are other parts that are administrative but I know I’m doing them because the PM approval is needed even though I am unable to really check the work and have to trust the technicians that they did complete the work right.

      But I do feel like I’m in charge and have the responsibility to get the work done.

      When I was more junior and on smaller projects I used to schedule more meetings and input more status updates into tracking system. There was no one else to do. On my current project I have a PMO contract that has taken a lot of the admin work off my plate.

    3. Girasol*

      You can serve a project team well without a lot of technical background of your own. Tech people often don’t like paying attention to deadlines and appreciate being reminded of when something needs to be finished, or being warned when a coworker is about to hand the critical path ball to them. They don’t usually like budgeting. When the tech people can’t see the forest for the trees, fresh eyes on their problem can be a big help. Even if you’re not technical – especially if you’re not technical – you can hear when the team is rat-holing on a poor solution and say, “That’s certainly one option. What others are there? Are there people we could bring in to help? How could we work around this issue altogether?” Often a prompt like that opens minds and someone says, “Well, it’s crazy but I suppose we could ” and the group gets back on track. When someone has to explain to the boss or customers why there’s a change in the plan, a lot of tech people will be delighted to explain the technical issues to you so that you can be the one in the hot seat instead of them. When non-project demands are bedeviling the team, a project manager can negotiate to get them handed off to someone else. Of course there’s a lot of paperwork to keeping a project organized and keeping all the communication going, and somebody has to reserve the conference room, but a project manager can offer a lot more value than just admin. If you listen to when team members complain or sound upset, you’ll hear the problems that tech people don’t solve well. Those are the opportunities for a good project manager to add value. That doesn’t involve “doing the work” per se but it can be critical to getting the work done.

  21. CatCat*

    Did anyone else see the “sexy potatoes” thread on reddit? The OP eats whole potatoes with their hands and has done so this way moat of their life. A new co-worker thinks the OP is eating these potatoes in a sexually suggestive way and ultimately complains to HR about it. (There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the set-up.)

    I wonder what one would advise the company to do here. Like if the manager wrote in. (Link in comments.)

      1. Thankful fo rAAM*

        OMG, this was the thread I needed today!
        Can confirm that people in China eat potatoes with their hands – you can buy them in foil from street vendor and when it is cold out, they are amazing hand warmers in your pocket till they are cool enough to eat in the “sexy” way.

      2. Slinky*

        I read this out loud to my husband. He laughed so hard at the phrase “sexy potatoes” that he couldn’t breathe!

    1. Lora*

      I had to look because I could not imagine this and in my Googling found a recipe for miso-glazed sweet potatoes, so that’s cool. Definitely looks like a fork-and-knife recipe though.

      The entire thing is that dude eats potatoes with his fingers, and a co-worker who appointed herself the Food Police lost her marbles over it and tried to cook up every excuse she could think of why eating potatoes with your fingers should be Forbidden. Seems like everything turned out OK in the end, HR and Management ordered Food Cop to stand down and Management said they never liked her anyway, she’s on their sh!tlist.

      FYI for people looking to go into management: You end up dealing with a lot of Personalities like this and it will eat up your whole worklife if you let it go on. There’s even a book, the No Asshole Rule, which I highly recommend. For people who enjoy this sort of Food Cop (cheap a$$ rolls!) stuff: You guys are making the manager’s life harder than it has to be, and management definitely has a running list of people we’d love to have an excuse to get rid of, and this sort of petty crap will get you rocketed to the top of the list.

    2. Nita*

      It sounds like Karen has a bit of a pattern of having a problem with Asian people’s eating. I’d give her a formal warning to leave her coworkers alone because it’s starting to look like she’s the one harassing people. If it’s in writing and she doubles down on her behavior, that leaves less of a chance that she’ll try claiming she’s the victim of sexual harassment and that HR is retaliating against her reporting it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Definitely. I got strong racist vibes from Karen reading this. The OP is not the asshole; Karen is the asshole.

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

      I wonder what OP’s coworker thinks about those who eat pizza with their hands (like me).

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Doesn’t everybody eat pizza with their hands? Aside from Chicago deep-dish, I’ve never seen a pizza being eaten in any other way.

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

          Nope. My grandmother was obsessed with teaching me to behave like a lady. Even pizza had to be eated with knives and forks.
          (And yes, her training included walking while balancing a Larousse dictionary on my head. That stuff is heavy and the sound it makes when it hits the floor can wake up an entire neighborhood.)

        2. 2QS*

          I have hangups about germs and can’t bring myself to touch my food, so everything gets eaten with utensils. I get teased for eating pizza like this, but I’ll take that over my germ anxiety.

        3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          It’s really common in the UK to eat a pizza with a knife and fork, at least in a restaurant setting.

      2. pancakes*

        She only seems to have a problem with Asian people, so I’d say it depends on your ethnicity.

        There used to be a sweet potato restaurant in my city, with sweet potatoes roasted Japanese-style, called Hero’s Sweet Potatoes. This woman would’ve had a meltdown!

      3. Aitch Arr*

        I fold my pizza when I eat it, so you know what that looks like. *wink wink*

        (I don’t know what it looks like either, but it seemed to fit the situation.)

      4. Picard*

        I can only eat pizza with a knife and fork. shrug. I also de assemble sandwiches and eat the parts separately (with a knife and fork) (except grilled cheese) Yeah, Im weird.

        That said, I dont care/police how other people eat.

    4. bunniferous*

      Bwahahah! I did see that thread but had not seen the update….there are so many threads over there that would make a great post here, that would absolutely have been one of them.

      1. mreasy*

        When the coworker accuses her of acquiring “increasingly sexy potatoes” in the HR meeting I just about lost my damn mind.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      All I have to say is that between AITA and Ask A Manager, I feel a whole lot better about my life decisions.

    6. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yes! I’ve seen a couple of tweets on it (main post & an update) and found myself really wishing the OP had written to Alison. Such a bananas story. And Karen is a nutter. And probably racist.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The only thing I can think about is how dry and yucky the end bit of a microwaved sweet potato is. The stem end is the worst, but the root end isn’t much better. The middle is fine, but those ends are gross.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Sexy potatoes? There is no such thing. To me this is no different than eating any number of foods that happen to be longer and might be somewhat tangentially PENIS shaped. Such as bananas, lollypops, Twinkies, cucumbers, pickles, donuts, hot dogs, Popsicles, carrots, corn dogs, churros, and many other elongated foods. None are particularly sexy. Come on.

      This person is being ridiculous to the point of abusive to continue to accuse the potato-eater of it being sexually suggestive. They need to be told to stop it ASAP. Truly, it sounds more like the person is shifting some racial aggression onto the person eating the potatoes. And I also think sweet potatoes/yams are eaten that same way in South America too. Typically it’s a street food kind of thing, just like our hot dogs or corn dogs or giant dill pickles.

      1. Observer*

        Which is probably why the HR person at first thought the the poster was leaving something out.

        This is the kind of piece that makes you wonder if the place is being trolled. I’m not saying it is, but to say that this is banana-pants crazy is an understatement.

      2. ..Kat..*

        To me, the best thing about eating potatoes with a knife and fork is that they can be slathered in butter, sour cream, and chives! Eating them by hand seems dry.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is anyone else singing “Sexy Potatoes” in their head to the tune of Guy Clark’s “Homegrown Tomatoes” ?

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I wasn’t until I saw this. Thanks. – _-

        only two things that money can’t buy…

  22. Besieged Underling*

    My supervisor was recently promoted to be in charge of our group. She’s been partially in charge for awhile now, but it was recently formalized and she was given actual management duties (instead of just directing work of junior staff towards goals/setting up projects).

    She is now melting. down. I don’t think she’s been able to adjust from the mindset of a producer to the mindset of a manager, while she’s been handed full management duties and is expected to act on them. The result is that she’s trying to micromanage everything and is doing it badly because she just doesn’t have the time – this leads to her being absent from my work for long periods, until she comes back, decides what I did wasn’t sufficient, snaps at me to fix it, and then disappears again without being able to actually talk through the changes she wants to see.

    Other people have talked to her about this (more senior than I am) but it doesn’t seem to be sticking. I think this is probably going to continue until she retires in a couple years. I’ve tried getting her to write stuff down and vetting the requirements for projects and work with her, but she still changes her mind mindstream (mostly because she’s so busy that she forgets what was written down and reverts back to just what’s in her head).

    Any tips/advice on how to manage up in this situation? Is this salvageable or are things just going to get worse?

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      No real idea but instead of writing it down an you get her to talk it out instead, and then send her an email with the condensed version of what she said? Maybe that would be faster for her and she could give you more immediate clarification.

  23. Chris*

    I got laid off on Monday. I’ve already started by job search using every bit of Alison’s great resume and cover letter advice that I can muster. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to put her interview advice into practice before too long.

  24. snake plant*

    i am director level at a small business (~12 FT employees, including two owners, who are my bosses). most of the year, i manage a team of three people, but we hire seasonally so i am currently managing seven people, in addition to being peripherally involved with all departments of the biz since we are small, so sometimes i end up also managing employees on other teams (who are directly managed my other director-level colleague; she does the same peripheral management of my team when needed).

    my question is… does a high-level role exist where i’m not managing a big team of people? i hate it! there are so many different personalities to deal with and sometimes it really hinders my ability to get my day-to-day work done. i’ve tried to get some of my “grand-reports” to speak directly with their supervisor (one of the FT employees i manage) instead of coming to me first to mitigate this but it doesn’t always work. i just want to look at my spreadsheets in peace….

    1. Malika*

      My former boss became a business coach and advises scaleups on how to get to the next level. He transfered his extensive work experience into consulting, and operates as a very highly-paid freelancer.

    2. Nita*

      I’m in a mid-sized consulting business. I’m sort of a manager, but don’t manage anyone full-time. I’m good at the technical stuff and organizing people for a specific project, but would be a horrible, horrible direct manager unless I completely overhaul my personality (too introverted, don’t like coworkers asking about my life and don’t ask too much about theirs). So this works out – there are other senior people who are great at managing, and I can keep doing what I’m good at without subjecting anyone to my lack of people skills.

    3. LDF*

      I work at a software company and we recently had a big switch where many directors were taken out of the part of the org chart I’m in and moved to a secondary reporting structure that only oversees PMs directly, and other directors now have more teams of developers that report to them. So the directors in the PM part of the org chart are certainly still high-level but without a giant reporting structure beneath them, and I guess they focus more on product work than people management (but I’m an IC on the tech side so I couldn’t say).

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Subject matter expert can be pretty high up the org chart without a lot of supervisory responsibility. Think in-house counsel, for example: there may be only one lawyer and a single support person (secretary or admin), but they likely report directly to the CEO or COO.

  25. LO*

    I wrote in last week thread about being anxious at work. I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who replied to me and offered advice. I ended up talking to my boss and she helped me shift some of my responsibilities to others on the team which has been a great help with my state of mind. It’s been a week and I’m like a totally different person!

    Time off isn’t coming for me until next month, but there’s two weeks of rest on the horizon for me.
    If anybody is feeling the same way I was, I really encourage you to take steps to help yourself, even if that means having an uncomfortable conversation. It’s not going to be as bad as you think it might.

  26. Thankful for AAM*

    My son asked me to write in – he is a sys admin in his first job and he wants to pivot into pen testing.
    He feels frustrated because he sees entry level positions and senior positions but nothing in the middle where he thinks he should land. Or he wonders if he should he be aiming for an entry level security position to make this pivot? He wonders if he just is not searching for the right job title and that is his question to the readers, what would the right job title be, how should he navigate this pivot?

    He was looking for a while last year and found the entry level and senior level gap was true then so it is not just a Pandemic thing. He gets interviews or some interest for the entry level positions but they tell him he has too much experience for the roles (could be a nice way to let him down).
    He does not have a college degree but has certs (I don’t know them all) and spends a lot of time learning on his own; he is firm that college is not in his future.
    He is in his first job, he got hired to assist the sys admin at a small/medium medical clinic with 8 locations and then got moved into the sys admin role and he has been there for 7 years.
    He is actually pretty good at networking and joined several professional groups in the area but has not had much luck getting leads from them.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Cat Lady*

      I don’t know much about that specific field, but has a filter for entry, mid- and senior level positions that I find pretty helpful for narrowing my search to mid-level positions

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Drat, he said he uses that and it does not seem to work well for his area. IDK if his frustrations are because of the field or his view/perspective.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Is he looking at There are several jobs in pen testing (and IT in general) listed there.

    2. Anax*

      I’m in IT but not pen testing. I can say that the lack of “middle” positions is a problem across the board in IT, at least from my experience; there’s a million senior-level positions but anything lower has been hard for me to find.

      The security folks I’ve known have really had their own professional networks, separate from general IT or sysadmin work. If he hasn’t done so yet, he’ll likely want to focus on cybersecurity, ethical hacking, and infosec meetups, rather than general IT professional organizations or developer-focused events like hackathons. They’ll likely be able to give him better advice, and my sense is that since pentesting and infosec are obviously sensitive fields, personal relationships are pretty important. They also sound a lot more anarchic and lifestyle-focused – less “legit” – than most IT professional groups, but that just seems to be the culture, from what I’ve seen.

      defcon also has some interesting youtube videos, and the sysadmin subreddit is pretty good; those might be additional resources to look into. In a different year, I’d say attending defcon might be worth considering (with appropriate precautions, obviously), but… well, 2020.

      1. GreyNerdShark*

        Yeah, moving from sysadmin to security is networking in many cases. Also while the skillsets have a lot in common, and if you are a good sysadmin the mindset is very similar, they are different jobs.

        If he’s in his first job as an admin, how long has he been there and what has he done? I’d look a bit askance at someone with less than 3-5 years of decent “I have done these security type things and show my focus in this way” wanting a midlevel job.

        My company’s InfoSec dept headhunted me but by then I’d got a rep as the person you went to about security things in our area and had noticed and fixed or called out a number of security issues in the standard setup, got us through an external security audit, and written software and designed procedures to keep us compliant. So I was obviously a good fit and had the runs on the board.

        The security area is growing, so wanting to be part of it is good. He should get the base level networking certificates and be doing MOOcs in security areas if he can find them. If he’s Windows based he needs some unix chops and vice versa. (Depending on the jobs he’s seeing. I’m a unix admin so work in unix shops, no one cared about my lack of Windows but that’s not so everywhere by any means and most smaller places want Windows or both)

        He also needs to get accomplishments in his current job. Has he looked at procedures with a security eye, what did he find? Has he written up or overhauled documentation? (Never underestimate the impression you give by “I think documentation is important so I got all ours up to date and made sure I kept it that way”.) Is his workplace CIS compliant? How would he make it that way? If Pen testing is really what he wants then what does he know about it? If someone asked what the current tools are for each OS, what the start of the process is, how to decide what the shape of the attack job he’s just been given is, what would he say? Don’t think pen testing is all loosey goosey cyber hacking gods doing what they like, it’s got heaps of scut work like any other job. Can he name some of those boring routine things?

        If he wants more then entry level he has to be more than entry level. So he has to look at what he has that security people want. What’s he done in his job now, and in his formal education and his self education that makes him more than entry level? What are his coding skills? What is his knowledge about standards? What’s his current reading list, RSS feed, twitter feed?

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Thanks GreyNerdShark. As his mom, I think he is on top of a lot of what you said and I’m really impressed by what he has done! He def has a security mindset at work (in a medical office!) and that is what got him interested. I will share your comments with him. Thanks so much! I think you are confirming what he knows and probably helping me be a better ear for him.

    3. abcde*

      Not a pentester but in infosec. IMO, an entry-level pentester job is not really entry level. The biggest mistake I made switching from IT to security was thinking I knew more than I did or that my IT skills would directly translate. I’d rather move up quickly than fall flat on my face.

      But if he does want to go for higher positions, he has to provide hard proof of his pentesting skills, since just being a sysadmin won’t do that. Some non-college options: (1) get a respected cert with a practical component like OSCP, *not* CEH, (2) build a tool/proof-of-concept and put it up on GitHub or contribute to related open-source projects, (3) go to infosec conferences and win CTFs (hacking challenges), (4) participate in bug bounties (but be careful so you don’t get in legal trouble), (5) write How-Tos and put them on Medium.

      1. abcde*

        Oh and for the second question, job titles to search on: they really can vary. I searched by keywords instead, using the skills/certs I had instead of a job title. I did this using the advanced search feature of Google to find my first (temp contractor with terrible pay and awful people) security job.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Thanks, great advice!
          I also don’t think he thinks he knows more than he does, he leans toward imposter syndrome. He is applying for entry level jobs but is getting feedback that they don’t want to hire him for entry level, like they assume he will move on quickly, etc. So he thought he was not applying for the right jobs and could not find the more mid-level positions advertised.

          1. abcde*

            Ah, I see! For me, it wasn’t so much a matter of confidence as the fact that it’s a field where you don’t know what you don’t know until you run into it at work and realize you don’t know it. I felt it took me about a year on the job before I really knew what I didn’t know yet. But of course I wasn’t going to security-specific conferences or meetups before I transitioned into security so your son may be ahead of the game there. I hope it works out for him soon! We definitely need more people, and more good people, in this industry.

            “He is applying for entry level jobs but is getting feedback that they don’t want to hire him for entry level, like they assume he will move on quickly, etc.” 3 things for that: 1) Alison’s advice on applying for jobs where people might think you’re overqualified, 2) target big companies with room for advancement, 3) target consulting or contract positions through IT staffing companies. I would preemptively bring up in interviews that he understands there will be transition time and he’s excited to listen and learn from the people there, because he’s so interested in security. It’s just that’s it’s an actual thing that sysadmins will transition in and think they know everything – he’s got to preemptively reassure people he’s not that stereotype.

  27. Amber Rose*

    Help, I don’t want to be in sales and my job is becoming more sales-y. :(

    We have had, for the last decade, a very understandable volume discounting policy on a high volume item we make. Pay $X for one item, $Y for 10, $Z for 20, etc. Every so often the price goes up a little but the structure has remained the same.

    This year instead of sending prices up, they want to get rid of the set volume discount. Instead, we’ll offer certain percent discounts based on… something? Not volume anymore. We’re supposed to just know how much a customer usually orders and offer them one of four different percent discount brackets, after which I guess that discount will always apply, or maybe not? When I asked, we’re supposed to just make a judgement call and deal with customers on the fly. Try and convince them to buy more in exchange for discounts I guess.

    Help. I’m not a sales person for a reason. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t have that kind of judgement. My customers aren’t calling me because they want me to look into their history and make them a deal in a couple days, they want me to look up a price and tell them what the price is. That’s the extent of my sales involvement, because much like being a cashier at Walmart, it’s not sales it’s just customer service. Enter the thing, issue the invoice, send the product. I’m really, really, really, really bad at ambiguity. I am really good at what I was hired to do, which is regulations: paperwork, dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Things that are very clear and precise. I don’t mind processing orders because up until just now, that has also just been a matter of paperwork.

    But this. I am literally dying of anxiety just thinking about it (and also angry, because if I’m required to sell I should get commission like they do). Should I try again to push back on the sales manager? Or wait until my manager is back from vacation and ask her to do it?

    1. King Friday XIII*

      If your manager is going to be back soon, I’d wait and ask her for clarification/help pushing back. She’ll presumably have a better idea what this is meant to accomplish and be able to frame why it doesn’t make sense for you to do that or how you should handle it instead.

    2. Peter*

      If you’re not on commission and there are no clear guidelines, is there any reason not to tell the sales manager that you’ll default to the most generous discount unless there’s a reason to do otherwise.

      She’ll soon realise that by trying to pass her team’s work on to you it will massively impact their commission, and change her plans.

  28. Emby*

    It turns out that my former super toxic employer not only discriminates based on country of origin (comments made about “not being able to understand” contractors as a reason not to hire them full term, when they do amazing work), but also on pregnancy/maternity leave. And they are stupid enough to say things aloud. A former coworker (who is very fortunately on her way out) was told that the reason why her performance evaluation was just “meets expectation” instead of “exceeds” is because she wasn’t around for the 3rd quarter. While she was on maternity leave. This manager is someone whose promotion is part of why I left, because it showed that management preferred bootlickers to people who either a: knew how to manage/work with others or b: know the subject matter well. Former coworker is not sure she’s going to say anything to HR because she thinks it’s pointless. I think she should, so they can at least see how utterly stupid their hiring is. But it’s not my bridge to burn.

  29. CockrOPch*

    Does anyone have links to some of the recent ADHD tips/organization threads? My google-fu is failing me and when I try and read back I get distractes by other articles… because I have ADHD.

  30. WFHAnon*

    Anyone have suggestions for dealing with coworkers who refuse to adjust to WFH? My company has been WFH for 7 months and this will continue for another 3-5 months. I have two coworkers who say at least 1-2 times per week “Its not like before when I could just walk over and talk to you.” Or “Its so hard to collaborate when we’re not all together”. We have a lot of tools available to us for collaboration which the rest of us are using very well. These two coworkers will only do things over the phone which is taking up a lot of time. I hesitate to include this part, but it may have some bearing – I’m in my mid 30’s – these two coworkers are in their late 50’s early 60’s and have always been opposed to WFH. Thank you!

    1. Bloopmaster*

      If you suspect this behavior is related to a discomfort with the technology (whether that’s age-related or not isn’t really relevant here), can you push them towards training resources? Or have others in your workplace do so? When they complain about not being able to collaborate, say something like “That’s odd, the rest of us (use names if relevant) collaborate just fine using X and Y tool. If you’re still not feeling comfortable using that, how about taking a look at ____ training resource.” Or offer to walk them through the tool to get them acclimated. Also—are you using your home phone while WFH? If so, I’d stop answering that when these colleagues call, then contact them back using one of the other available tools. Sometimes you just have to throw people into the deep end of the pool, and being used to doing things “the way we’ve always done them” is no excuse to not keeping up with office/business norms. Also–bring up the fact not not knowing how to/refusing to use new technology is potentially going to stall their careers at some point. You’re actually doing them a favor by encouraging them to grow as workers and adapt to the times.

    2. Clisby*

      As someone who started working from home in 1998 and continued until I retired in 2015, I kind of doubt age is the issue.

    3. Girasol*

      It’s hard to record your first voicemail greeting. It’s hard to learn the keyboard. It’s hard to set up the display gear in the conference room. Spreadsheets: those are hard. But it’s a poor employee who whines about having to master basic office skills. Remote collaboration is the basic office skill set of the 21st century, no harder to learn than the rest and easier than some. So no whining, get going, fumble a few times and then get good at it. Age shouldn’t be a deterrent. I’m older than your coworkers. I started WFH 20 years ago and find global remote collaboration delightful. (You can travel the world in your bedroom slippers!) But there have always been people who insist that remote collaboration can’t work and seem bent on proving it.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Well, TBH, sometimes it IS good to pick up the phone and talk to a human being. Lots of people (usually executives) will turn off their IM or ignore it or not read emails and sometimes your best bet is a quick call to them. So, I’m not quite sure I completely understand your aversion to the phone or why that takes up so much time? Do you feel they just being too chatty overall? Because that happens with IM too and distracts people just as much.

      I would continue to beat this mantra:
      For quick work questions, use X (IM system) or email, but of course arrange a meeting or call if you really need to discuss something in depth or privately.

    5. Emi*

      The phone is also a collaboration tool, eh? Your problem is not that they “refuse to adjust”; it’s just that they and you prefer *different* collaboration tools. I would try saying something like “I think this would be more efficient if we used X tool instead” but make sure you’re not coming across as disdainful or dismissive — it is harder in a lot of ways when you can’t collaborate in person.

    6. Formerly in HR*

      I am going to lose my mind over the whole collaboration thing. As our employer keeps saying that while employees expressed a preference for WFH we need to think about collaboration and cohesiveness and mentorship. Even though we use Skype for chat and calls, conference lines, webex, Teams, regular phones and emails.
      We keep hearing that we should consider going back go the office to benefit from collaboration, even though less than 20% of workforce goes in and there are so many restrictions one basically has to sit all day only standing to go to bathroom. What benefits am I missing?
      Then, oh, it’s about managers who have trouble trouble managing a remote workforce, but instead of training them the employer just keeps repeating about occupancy rates not being achieved. When I thought those are maximum limits, not something to aim at.

  31. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    I got the news yesterday that the raise I asked for (definitely underpaid for my work and my bosses say I do great work) won’t be coming in anytime soon because of COVID. We’re doing well enough that folks aren’t in danger of being laid off so stability isn’t a concern, but apparently the board is very very tight with money right now. The thing is, I don’t hate my job. In fact, I get treated extremely well here, minus the pay issue. And there’s actually a lot of opportunity here to try new things and get a bunch of experience. If I was only paid more in line with what other people in my field were making, I would be happy to stay at this job for another couple of years to soak up as much experience as I can. But because I’m underpaid, and it looks like that’s not changing anytime soon, I’m deciding to start looking. Wish me luck!

    I guess my question is – what should I be telling interviewers who ask me why I’m looking for a new job?

    1. JustaTech*

      “I’m looking for opportunities to grow (my paycheck).” (Don’t say that part in parens, just think it.)
      “I’m looking for opportunities with room for advancement.”

      “What with COVID and all, I’m looking for more stability.”

      If your bosses can’t stop underpaying you because of COVID, then you’re not nearly as stable as they’d like you to think.

  32. Z*

    I’ve never commented before, but I am currently looking for a new job and I have a possibly impossible question. :)

    Is it worth applying for a job that has had 952 applications?

    Or even much less than that, but still a lot? 50+

    I have a few years experience in my field, but I’m still fairly junior, so any vacancy that has dozens of applications just feels like a waste of time even if I meet all the essential and most of the desirable criteria. However, I suspect that a lot of those applications might be long-shots, and I don’t want to miss out on something that I might actually have a comparatively good chance of being interviewed for.

    I’m a copywriter, which I do think is the kind of job that a lot of people think they can do, even if they don’t have necessarily relevant experience.

    I guess what I’m asking is, whether it’s usually the case that vacancies get a significant percentage of irrelevant applications and I should just ignore the number and proceed if I think I can actually do the job?


    1. BlackCatOwner*

      YES! Apply anyways! This isn’t the lottery, it’s not (entirely) about luck. Be confident and capable and write good cover letters and resumes and go for it.

      1. LTL*

        The issue is that often, a human being isn’t going to read over 900+ applications, which means that either the ATS is chucking a bunch of them, or HR is chucking a bunch of them, simply due to time constraints.

        That being said, dozens of applications isn’t a a lot. Less than 100 is a fairly low number. I wouldn’t stop yourself from applying if you see 50+.

    2. blepkitty*

      Do it! Just be sure your experience is explicitly stated in your resume, so that it’ll appear if they do keyword searching of your resume.

    3. Y*

      We just posted a job that received over 100 applications. I expect that 2/3 of them won’t be qualified and will be weeded out straight away. It is a writing job in a technical field and these tend to attract people who have the technical experience but not the writing experience. We also sometimes get applications from people who are way overqualified, when we’re looking for someone with two-three years of experience who can grow in the job. The number of applications that are actually a good fit AND demonstrate that in their resume/cover letter is usually a small percentage of the whole. Hope that helps.

    4. Malika*

      After being rejected, I always call the recruiter for feedback and 9/10 they will give candid feedback. The recruiters all said the competition is not nearly as daunting as you think it is.

      For a desirable job in my field there were 90 applications. 60 got tossed, as their background in crystal therapy wasn’t applicable for an EA position or their CV is illegible. 30 were left over. 5 were tossed, as they provided no cover letter. A 5 further more were tossed as their cover letter had three sentences and could be written for any old job. 20 were left over. The 20 left have a legible cv and a lengthy cover letter. 5 can then be tossed as cover letter shows they don’t have a proper understanding of the job. 15 are left that met the quality requirements of a good application and that was when they started the serious evaluation. I was in the last 15 even though i have a nearly two year gap on my CV and a non-relevant degree for the job. They went for 4 applicants that had experience in their industry. Alison unfortunately can’t get me an edge over that factor.

      If you can get past the ATS and apply Alison’s cover letter techniques, your true competition will be that job’s version of the 15 strong applicants, not the numerous applicants you see on Linkedin. And sooner or later, that job will land on your doorstep.

      I wish you lots of luck. It’s tough but not impossible, out there.

    5. PollyQ*

      Almost every job application is a long shot, but the only way you’ll get a job is by applying for it. I wouldn’t let the number of applicants affect your decision of whether to apply at all.

    6. nep*

      I’m interested in replies here. I was considering applying for a local job that seemed like a great match. As I pondered it the number of applicants climbed. Up to 195 right now, according to LI. That number just makes me go, Nope. I’d never get a second look. I hear you, Z. I can relate.
      Keep us posted on what you decide to do. All the best.

    7. Kimmy Schmidt*


      In my state, we’re back to requiring individuals on unemployment to apply for X number of jobs per week. Not entirely sure that it’s correlated, but we seem to be getting a ton of applications that don’t mean our minimum qualifications and get tossed out right away.

    8. mreasy*

      Absolutely apply if you are qualified (or close). You can assume a lot of the applicants are resume-bombing.

    9. Z*

      Thanks everyone, that’s very helpful! :)

      I did see a vacancy with 952 applications, but it was a while ago so I’m not currently considering applying for it. I will definitely try to ignore that little detail from now on!

      Interestingly, when I apply for jobs on other sites I don’t really think about how many other people have applied for it, so I’m not sure how useful it is as a feature on LinkedIn.

    10. introverted af*

      If you’re getting that number from somewhere like LinkedIn or Indeed, I don’t know that I would trust it. That may be the number of people who clicked the “apply” button and went to the next page but may not be the actual people that completed an application.

      If you’re getting it from a company website, it’s probably more accurate. And unemployment is high these days, let alone the people who just want to leave existing jobs.

      All that said, if you like the job I would definitely still apply, for similar reasons to all the people above.

    11. Wordybird*

      It depends. If you have a specific skill set (like finance or HR or copywriting) AND have an Alison-approved resume and cover letter AND ESPECIALLY if it’s local/not remote, I think you (specifically you and general you) have a great chance of rising to the top of the pile.

      If one or more of those three things is not in play, your chances of getting an interview diminish (especially in this COVID job market). Even though many people don’t have great customer service or administration or other soft skills, they think they do and many HR reps don’t know how to distinguish just from a resume and an interview (or two) people who are okay at/with those skills and people who are great with them. The same applies for remote jobs as they, especially the bigger well-known companies, can be ridiculously choosy about who they interview with the hundreds of applications they receive for every opening and it will really take something special or knowing someone on the inside to get you seen.

      My experience has been that organizations were unwilling to take a chance on me when the bulk of my resume and experience was running my own company and that work was a lot of more generic admin/comm/customer service responsibilities. Even though I was successful and was bought out (vs. closing up shop), I heard nothing more often than not. It was only after I had a few years of recent experience with a company I did not own with more specific skills in project management/software that I was getting much more traction and phone calls and interviews. It was when I put Alison’s cover letter and resume tips into practice that it all came together for me, and I was offered my current position. Remote work was a huge goal of mine but I had been mostly focusing on the really large well-known companies that everyone applies to. Using my recent experience + Alison’s advice + focusing on much smaller companies that were more willing to take a chance on someone who had not worked remotely before is what landed me where I am today.

      Good luck! The best thing you can do is figure out what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it. Knowing that will help you decide which jobs are not worth the work and which can be with a little effort on your part.

    12. Barbara Eyiuche*

      Proceed. I once applied for a government job that had around 10,000 applicants for 75 openings. I got an interview but wasn’t hired. Still, you might be just what they’re looking for.

  33. BlackCatOwner*

    Are you a freelance bookkeeper / accounting person (not CPA)? I would like to begin taking on freelance clients and provide bookkeeping and small business accounting services. I am looking for two specific bits of advice, and will happily receive any and all general advice! (Note, I do have a degree in Accounting and 3+ years of accounting experience in a business).

    What kind of insurance should I carry, if any?

    As a freelancer, should I be expecting my clients to have an accounting system or should I be subscribing to something like Quickbooks or Sage so that I can provide that system as part of my services?

    Generally – any and all advice welcome!

  34. Cats unlimited*

    I’m trying to figure out how to list dates of attendance on a grad school application. I attended a community college for one semester while I was in still in high school from 01/2010 to 05/2010. Then one summer when I was back from university I attended the community college again from 06/2012 to 07/2012. Should I list my attendence as 01/2010 to 07/2012 even though it wasn’t consecutive semesters? This is for an application not a resume so I don’t have as much flexibility on how to write it.

    1. Cats unlimited*

      I received college credit for the high school semester and it shows up on my final university transcripts.

      1. IsItOverYet?*

        It sounds like you were at the CC for 1 semester in high school and one summer term. If the credits you earned at the community college transferred to your 4 year college and show up on your 4 year transcript, I would just leave off the dates for the CC because it will just show up as transfer credits.

        In general, I would be hesitant to list it as continuous because you weren’t a continuous student there. However, I know the applications can be annoying if you really think you need to include it maybe reach out to an admissions person and see what they say.

      1. MissBliss*

        It looks like Cats unlimited probably only took a couple or handful of courses, which would’ve transferred over to their 4-year institution, so graduation wouldn’t apply in this case. But if it transferred to the 4-year institution, you might not even HAVE to put it on the application– it is reflected on your transcript (probably showing as transfer credits).

    2. MissBliss*

      Can you enter the community college twice? Perhaps “Community College – Dual Enrolled High School Student” and “Community College – Summer Term”?

    3. Reba*

      Hm, I’m pretty sure I did *not* list local college attendance as separate from my degree-granting institution when I applied to graduate schools. My situation was similar, I had a dual-enrolled high school thing, and I took a few classes in my hometown in between university terms. But they simply transferred to my university, and are on the transcript so they show up in my record that way.

      (I don’t have all my application materials anymore, so I can’t check… but I definitely did not save a transcript from Hometown College, so that makes me think I didn’t list it/didn’t submit its transcripts.)

      Do you think you can simply leave it off? I agree with others that it seems unnecessary. Transfer credits are common! It will not surprise anyone to see them on your transcript!

      If you must list it I would not do the 01/2010 – 07/2012 because I think it will cause too much confusion. Perhaps just the summer session dates?

      Good luck with your applications!

  35. Fromagerier*

    I’ve been offered a new job in France. Let’s say at a cheese-making factory. I currently work at a cheese-making factory in the US, where I manage a small team of apprentice cheesemakers.

    The new job in France won’t start until a long visa process is complete, and I won’t be getting a contract from them until there is a start date- but the timeline of the visa is unclear. They guess approximately three months but it could be more or less.

    In my current position some of the cheeses take months to make, and I don’t want to leave my team in the lurch. So I’d like to give notice as soon as possible. But with the uncertainty in timeline (and lack of signed contract), I am wary of handing in my notice too early-and without a specific end date. My management can be the type of folks who take departures personally and while I don’t think they would push me out early, they might be unpleasant about it. I’m also afraid that even if I give them advance notice, they won’t hurry to hire my replacement even though that process can also take months.

    Any advice welcome!

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      I wouldn’t give notice until you have the visa thing worked out, a signed contract and start date from the French company. Anything can change!

      1. Marny*

        This. Your own certainty and stability is the priority. Once you have all your ducks in a row, then you can worry about when to give notice. And if you think they’ll push you out early, factor that in to when you give notice as far as how long you can afford not be paid before you move. My philosophy is to account for the worst case scenario (especially if you’ve been given reason to think it could happen) and be pleasantly surprised when and if it turns out better than expected.

    2. TCO*

      I’d wait until you have a visa and signed contract, especially in these times. I know multiple people whose planned moves abroad have been delayed because of COVID. You just don’t know what will happen in the next few months.

      In the meantime, you can begin quietly working on documentation, cross-training, organizing your files, drafting a transition plan, anything else that will be helpful when you do give notice. Leaving your job in an organized way will really help your team.

      1. Fromagerier*

        Good point. I’ve been feeling really guilty in meetings where we’re talking about the future but trying to get things as organized/documented as possible will certainly help, no matter when I finally leave.

      2. Aerin*

        Yes, this! Start doing all the things you would be doing if you had announced that you were going to be transitioning your work over this period, just don’t make the announcement. If anyone catches on, you can just say that times are uncertain and you want to ensure that operations can continue smoothly in case anything happens.

    3. PollyQ*

      Employers who take departures personally have lost the privilege of early notice. Also, sure, it’ll be harder with you not around, but people leave jobs all the time, not just for new ones, but for illness, family issues, etc. It’s their responsibility to worry about adequate staffing, not yours. You’re fine giving them the standard 2 weeks, IMO.

    4. username required*

      I’m involved in recruitment for a company abroad and we specifically tell overseas new hires do not under any circumstances give notice before you have a visa stamp in your passport and we can confirm the process has finished. On average it takes anywhere from 3-6 months to go through the process. It has taken longer if there is a delay eg education has to be certified, medicals taken, background checks carried out etc. And as happened recently thanks to covid we’ve had to put some offers on hold for now. Your recruiter should be able to give you a timeline.

      1. Fromagerier*

        Thanks, this is really helpful. The new company won’t give me a specific timeline at this point, but they are updating me on the process.

        I know my current management will be upset that I didn’t give them more notice. But I guess better that than giving notice and then having the new position fall through.

        1. username required*

          We’re pretty flexible about the amount of notice that a candidate needs to give and factor that in to the process when we start discussing the contract and estimated start date. Depending on where we’re recruiting from it can mean 2 weeks or 12 weeks notice required and candidates are packing up their lives and moving thousands of miles so that takes time as well. The one thing that does really factor in for us is our recruiting budget is annual so if we don’t use it by year end then the money is gone so there will be a push to have candidates arrive by 31 Dec in order not to lose the budget.

          And as other posters have said – if you do the best you can to leave a good set up for your successor to walk into then you can leave with a clear conscience.

          Good luck and enjoy the adventure. I’ve lived abroad for the last 20 years. It’s been challenging at times but incredibly rewarding.

      2. JustaTech*

        Seconding this. I had a Canadian coworker who was offered an amazing job in Wales. (Countries are relevant.) All he needed to do was get a work visa, which should have been easy, Commonwealth country to UK for a highly specialized job. So he stuck around and kept working while the job in Wales (for a *huge* multinational) plodded along with the visa.

        Months later he was still working away in the US because his visa just would not come through. So when a local company made him a fabulous offer he went back to the folks in Wales and said “Hey, if you can’t get me that visa this month I’m done”.
        He didn’t move to Wales.

    5. Happy Lurker*

      Ye olde addage you could be hit by a bus tomorrow is never more true than in this situation. In 2020 especially! There should be a back up for you. If there isn’t one, maybe you can lean on a more senior member of the staff and unofficially pass along information about your projects.
      I would not breath a word about a job change to anyone. Your employers have shown their true colors. Keep your info to yourself, but consider pulling a coworker in under the guise of winter 2020 illness contingency plan. But only do so if you if you want to!

      1. Fromagerier*

        Yes! I’ve been without a backup for nearly a year, but have been pushing for this and we are now set to be hiring someone on my team by the end of the year (and hopefully before I leave). (the rest of the “team” are all temporary, interns basically). So that will hopefully also mean they ‘re better set to keep things running somewhat smoothly.

    6. Blackcat*

      Don’t give notice until you have the visa in hand.
      It’ll still take at least 3-4 weeks to plan an execute an international move. Folks in France would probably understand a move that comes 6-8 weeks out from visa issue date, so you’d be able to give plenty of notice.

      1. Fromagerier*

        This is true. The French company seems to move pretty slow in general on all things administrative, and I’m sure they are used to this.

        1. Blackcat*

          I wasn’t even thinking about *French* particulars–I was thinking Europe in general.
          But the French are probably thinking more like 10-12 weeks after the visa is finalized. Maybe more. The wheels of French systems turn…. particularly slowly.

    7. Alex*

      Never, ever, ever, give notice at a job before your next job has sorted themselves out and you have documentation that you have an accepted offer/contract/whatever is normal for your situation.

      This goes double for companies who behave badly when people leave. No, it goes triple. Quadruple.

  36. anonforthis*

    I’ve been informed that I’m not allowed to speak to my bosses at work about my disability. I’m only allowed to speak to the ADA coordinator about it.

    I’m sure this is a common policy to reduce liability, but it feels discriminatory at worst and byzantine at best. The latter because I have to play a giant game of telephone to relay my needs to my boss and the former because, hello, I’m just not supposed to speak to the people I spend the most time with about something that affects every aspect of my life? Would they really say that if I were physically disabled instead of mentally disabled?

    1. ThinMint*

      I’ve been on the other end of this. As a manager, I was told I should avoid discussing my employee’s medical situation since it relates to her ADA. I had to tell her that I didn’t need to know the specifics and she only needed to let me know when she would be out. She liked to share a lot more and it did feel awkward at first to hold that boundary. I could see how someone could get that twisted and say you just cannot. Curious what others will say.

    2. Just a PM*

      I think a lawyer might be the best one to chime in here since it does smell a little like discrimination but without knowing the specifics, it’s hard to tell. I do wonder if there’s a distinction in your workplace between reasonable accommodations or the medical part (e.g., diagnosis, symptoms, medication) of your disability. Your manager doesn’t need to know the medical part of your disability, only how they can help via accommodations.

      I’d go back to your ADA coordinator and ask for specific clarification about what you can speak to your bosses about re: your disability. Then once you know specifically, it might help you frame your questions/discussions with your bosses better so you don’t have to always go through the ADA coordinator every time you need something.

    3. Reba*

      Does it help to think of it in terms of privacy, that this policy can protect employees from bosses who would potentially inappropriately grill them about their conditions?

      The difference between “you are not obligated to discuss it” and “you must not discuss it” is pretty significant, though!

      It sounds like in your case it’s not just things like “I’ll be out on these dates for treatment” or “I need this chair” but rather some more nuanced stuff. I wonder if they would be open to having meetings with you, boss, and ADA coordinator all together to at least set some ground rules?

    4. Mimmy*

      That doesn’t seem right. Who informed you that you had to go through the ADA Coordinator?

      I think you should be able to speak to your boss about the parts of your job that you’re having difficulty with… s/he probably knows your job better than the ADA Coordinator. Ideally, the conversation should be between you, your boss and the ADA Coordinator, with the coordinator helping to brainstorm accommodation ideas.

      Definitely seek clarification.

  37. The Green Lawintern*

    Hi all! I have a question regarding pronoun use. We will very likely be hiring a candidate who uses they/them pronouns, and even during the interview process it’s been a struggle not to misgender them constantly for everyone on our team(thankfully not in front of the candidate). 1) Are there any tips people have to catch themselves, and 2) How would you handle correcting others who are misgendering the individual? I have a coworker who is clearly doing their best but also struggling a lot, and interjecting “them” every five seconds into their speech feels like it could quickly become obnoxious.

    1. Littorally*

      So, suggestion number one is to practice, practice, practice. In private, to yourself — think about this person or speak sotto voce or subvocalizing. “This is Pat. They’re starting with us today. When they do, they’ll tell us a bit about themself. Their work history is x, y, z…” This will help you misgender them less and get more natural at speaking about them with your colleagues.

      With regard to how you should handle colleagues who misgender them, ask your new hire that! Some people will want you to jump in so they don’t always have to carry the burden of making corrections, others would rather do it themselves, still others would rather let it pass and not kick up a fuss.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Actually, listen to Littorally here. I should have mentioned in my answer that you should ask your future colleague if they want others to be corrected when they get misgendered.

      2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        If I was a current member on the team that the new person was going to be joining, you’d have to be really straightforward with the “use they/them, not she/her”.

        As a general speech pattern, I sometimes use they/them when I COULD have appropriately used she/her or he/him, so I wouldn’t necessarily catch that “Our new team member is Darlene, they’ll be starting on Monday” was a deliberate “Darlene uses they/them pronouns”.

        1. Littorally*

          To be clear, my advice to practice was not a substitute for explicitly telling people to use correct pronouns. It was in answer to the Green Lawintern’s first question about catching oneself using incorrect pronouns. Practice makes perfect!

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        Also- practice by referring to strangers with gender-neutral titles and they/them! Even and especially when you would otherwise assume one set of binary pronouns. “Did you see that cute kid? They were giggling soooo hard at the faces their parent was making.”

    2. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      This is something I’ve struggled with and I’m trans myself. For the first question – This may not help in the moment, but practice makes perfect! Get used to referring your future colleague with they/them pronouns by literally looking in a mirror and practicing sentences one could say about them. When someone I know is changing their name/pronouns I look in the mirror and pretend I’m talking about them to a stranger. Like, “This is my friend, Robin! I’ve known them for years and they are a big fan of fantasy. They write awesome stuff on the internet!” Or, in the case of your future colleague, you could say “I’m so excited to bring Alex onto the team. Their resume was really impressive and I hope that their experience in teapot sales can help us with the Teapots Inc contract. Plus, they seemed really nice in the interview!”

      As for the second question – I know just saying “them” all the time to correct everyone seems really obnoxious at first. And, it can be really tiring to be the only person correcting people! As I mentioned, I’m trans (but use he/him pronouns) so I’m usually the only one who notices when another person gets misgendered. But honestly, misgendering a person is a pretty obnoxious thing to do. Plus, if nobody corrects whoever is misgendering them, your colleague will secretly wonder if everyone on the team sees them as [birth gender] and will feel much less comfortable in the workplace. So definitely correct folks!

      For new folks, a “Just so you know, Alex uses they/them pronouns” should be fine, but for people who don’t know I would just correct them in the moment with a quick “them” or “they.”

    3. Aneurin*

      A suggestion I’ve seen before is to imagine that the person using they/them pronouns has a pet mouse in their pocket, and think of referring to “[Person] + mouse” as a reminder to use “they”, which (as a they/them-preferring non-binary person) I found quite cute!

    4. The Green Lawintern*

      Thank you all for the advice! This was very helpful, and I’m definitely going to implement your suggestions.

  38. Retail Not Retail*

    For those of you in workplaces where masks are mandatory at all times, how is that enforced? Our president said we have to wear masks all day – not just when we’re near people. I’m fine with that! It’s easier to adjust to a mask if you’re not taking it on and off.

    What I’m not fine with is the edict came with masks, the only cloth masks allowed. They’re not good masks! One layer and ill-fitting (my glasses don’t fog at all). If it ever gets colder, I may wear one of my masks under it. It’s also such a small thing, but you’re only supposed to do essential things you know? You mostly wear your mask at work, you’re not going out and being seen and fashionable!

    Also, people who were careless about masks or wore them improperly still do so! Even managers! Our city’s ICUs are at 90% and we had 200 cases yesterday. We may work outside, but we still have hundreds of guests on a daily basis.

    Is there anything to do as a non-manager besides saying “mask!” to your coworkers?

    1. Artemesia*

      We had the single biggest increase in COVID yesterday and so it is an occasion to insist on mask enforcement. Even crappy cloth masks will keep the spew from the unknowingly infected person being sprayed into the air. It would be better of course for everyone to wear medical masks. This is the moment though to insist on enforcement and to bring it up with managers as a crisis issue.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        It’s generally advised that people not wear medical masks unless they’re medical or first responder staff. For those who feel a need for greater safety than others, a good compromise can be an ordinary cloth mask with a filter pocket in it, and a good filter slipped in. There are specific online PPE stores where one can buy both the masks that have filter pockets (though it’s also easy to make them) and the filters themselves (though cut out pieces of coffee filters or vacuum filters will do in a pinch).

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I have not had much success with this. I have coworkers who wear masks that I think are not safe and I have talked to management and to the coworkers directly. Nothing changes. I assume everyone is positive and protect myself. I have at least gotten good at saying, I can help you but can you back up so I don’t get to close to you.

      I am sorry you have to deal with this.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Do the masks you were given have a company logo or something like that and that is why they are required? If so, could you perhaps modify them to add more layers or to fit better?

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Yes, it has a logo, but it’s not in a color that matches our uniform, it’s boring. (I wore a colorful mask and everyone commented on it.)

        I saw someone today wearing a paper mask underneath it. I won’t do that, I hate the way paper ones feel. We are allowed to wear paper masks though, it’s just a limit on cloth ones.

        I think once it stays cooler, I’ll just wear it over one of my masks.

        I haven’t seen it enforced much – most people are wearing a mask but some are still in their own cloth ones

  39. Dr. Doll*

    Asking for a friend who does an absolutely essential task and is an hourly worker (think, keeping the water and lights on type stuff). He’s over his allowable carry-forward leave by more than 160 hours because he *cannot* get time off — his organization is so under-staffed in his essential area that he’s literally the only person available much of the time. He has pretty bad health problems and really needs some rest and recovery.

    He can get 160 of the hours paid for with a combo of extended sick leave which he’s likely to need at some point, and cash paid back. And he CAN’T work any more overtime, or holidays, or weekends, or whatever — but, see point above that his organization is so under-staffed in his essential area etc.

    Obviously this is piss-poor stupid management and should not be my friend’s problem. But it IS, because if he declines to work, he’s criticized for not being a Team Player (TM). He’s also kind of a stubborn pill, the type that will accept and revel on being dumped on while getting more and more bitter about it.

    I think he needs to consult a lawyer, frankly, but any other suggestions?

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not seeing where a lawyer would help in this. being criticized for not being a team player is not illegal.

    2. CatCat*

      If he needs to recover his health, he should talk to his doctor and request FMLA leave. That would get him the leave to recover and be able to use up some or all those hours.

      If he thinks he’s being harassed because of a medical condition, he might talk to a lawyer, but I think he has to consider what outcome he wants. (Maybe just advice on what to do/say if told he’s repeatedly criticized for not being a “team player” because on medical leave.)

    3. Natalie*

      He’s also kind of a stubborn pill, the type that will accept and revel on being dumped on while getting more and more bitter about it.

      This sounds like the part that’s under his control. Whether he needs to talk about it with a therapist, do some journaling, have a mantra he repeats, whatever, he needs to figure out how to get comfortable attending to his own needs.

      You didn’t mention this, but on the off chance it’s happening, you also don’t need to be an audience for endless complaining about this situation.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        I agree completely with the therapy and journaling and so forth. I’ve suggested it. “Naw, I don’t need that crap.”

        I protect myself and stop listening when I need to. This time, I told him to put the damn paperwork in.

    4. TCO*

      I’m confused about what a lawyer would do here unless your friend’s primary concern is not being able to take time off for medical/health needs. In that case, it’s possible that FMLA or ADA could offer some help.

    5. Sandi*

      A lawyer isn’t required here. No laws are being broken, from what you describe.

      What’s needed is for your friend to take the leave they are due, and put the onus back on their management to deal with the under-staffing issue. Accept the “not a team player” labelling, since it’s unavoidable, and address it explicitly each time it comes up. Until he’s willing to stand up to this and not just absorb it and “revel” in it, there’s no reason for them to change anything.

    6. Anonosaurus*

      I wouldn’t rule out consulting a lawyer – depending on where your friend lives, if his health problems fall within the scope of equality/disability legislation he may have something he can use to put the squeeze on the company. Or if he is considering quitting he should speak with the attorney to find out if he has any comeback on the basis he has been forced out (constructive dismissal in my jurisdiction, other jurisdictions are available). Either approach may help him to negotiate time off if this is what he really wants, or compensation in lieu.

      In non-legal terms, for as long as he continues to accommodate the company, they are not going to change. It sounds like if he doesn’t take some time out his body is going to make the decision for him. Maybe all you can do is be there if and when it does.

    7. Exit Stage Left*

      He needs to schedule PTO a few weeks out, maybe even a month and let his boss know that he needs the time, no exceptions. If he gets any push back then he needs to get his Dr. to complete FLMA paperwork and take time off. Until they feel the pain of him being gone they will not hire anyone or do anything about it. He also needs to start looking for another job. If he experiences any additional pushback or retaliation then he needs to speak to a lawyer.

      Regarding him being bitter about the situation, I have meet employees like this and it’s the reverse of your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change, rather it’s the employee is not going to change because they have become used to complaining or identifying as someone being dumped on. He really needs to look and see what else is available and get out but short of that, FMLA will be his friend.

  40. LTL*

    Happy Friday all! For those of you in technical fields, I had a question on take home assignments. I’ve noticed that take home assignments take me much longer than the estimated time range give to me by the company (e.g. the prompt says that it’ll take two hours, and I end up spending 6 hours on it). I’m guessing this means I’m not qualified for the positions but I wanted to check in with others. Is this normal?

    1. Artemesia*

      I’d guess they have no idea how long the assignments take and of course in job applications you want a level of perfection that will increase the time. I would not assume that if it takes you longer you aren’t qualified.

    2. Schmitt*

      This is somewhat normal. I had one of these a few weeks ago, it was supposed to take 3-4 hours. It took me nearly two hours just to get my private laptop set up with everything I needed for it. Then some of the parts were new to me and I spent a lot of time googling and trying stuff out. And then there was a list of optional stuff that also took time. And another hour to re-check everything and make sure it was clean.

      I think the question is: Did you struggle with the task or did it just take longer? If you were doing this task daily, would you honestly be able to do it in the time period? If yes, you’re probably OK to continue with the interview process.

      1. Anax*

        Agreed, and also – is it really the kind of task you’ll be doing day-to-day, or is it different enough to slow you down?

        I’m a programmer, and I do fine at my job, but interviews often ask “similar” problems which are… well, not that similar, and take me longer to wrap my brain around, because they aren’t what I actually do on a day to day basis.

        (UGH, string manipulation puzzles. I can do complicated regexes and text parsing all day, but make me implement quicksort or a substring search from scratch, and… look, I’ll do it, but it’ll take me a bit.)

    3. Mockingjay*

      Every take-home assignment I’ve ever been given during an interview process has always taken 2 or 3 times the estimated time provided. I’ve always had the skills to do it; the issue is the amount of work when you read all the parameters of the assignment. In real life, task X can take 40 hours at least. Sample X (for the same type task or portion of the task) is not scaled back sufficiently for a candidate to complete in 2-3 hours.

      I decide case-by-case whether to complete each assignment. If I am interested in the company and the interviews went well, I’ll do the assignment. If I came out of the initial interviews with a ‘meh’ feeling, I’ll withdraw at this point.

  41. omega*

    That’s a typical “should I stay or should I go question”, I guess.

    I’ve been with the company for 6 months. It has been a hard ride. I’m a manager, responsible for my function in the whole country. The expectations towards me are huge and I simply don’t have the resources to realize all of them – although they were promised in the interviews. I’ve worked extremely long days, reduced it a bit now since my motivation is decreasing.

    My situation is that I inherited a disaster. And although we’ve progressed a lot, the situation still isn’t “good”, it’s “ok-ish”. (It would be better if every single change didn’t require months of discussions and approvals – the environment is very conflicted and if there was more sponsorship in the management).

    I’ve received a lot of harsh tone, including from my bosses, despite relative successes.

    Additionally, I have to work much more operationally than I expected. I’m basically a team member who additionally has manager’s tasks – two jobs really. 

    Oh and my boss has a history of firing people he’s not happy with. I don’t think he likes me anymore, for whatever reason.

    Add to that the fact that I’m underpaid for my position. I know people with less responsibility earn more than me at the company.

    Plus, I won’t learn much in this position. I’m in a technical field, so the technologies you deal with are very important. I used to deal with top-notch technologies. Here I’m working with very basic tools and this won’t change soon.

    Now I’m not sure how I should play it.

    On the one hand, I’ve delivered a lot, but that’s largely unrecognized. I feel underpaid.
    On the other hand, the company pays well compared to other companies in my country. And I’ve had several short employments in the past.

    What should I do?

    1. JustaTech*

      I’d start putting out feelers at least, because it sounds like your boss might fire you for not being a miracle worker. As for what to tell interviewers, you can say that the position was misrepresented to you when you started and that despite your best efforts it just isn’t a good fit. You should then add something about being excited to work with whatever technologies they have at the place you’re applying.

    2. Just a PM*

      I’d cut the losses and go. You seem unhappy and stressed. If you have the means and you can afford it, why keep working in what seems like a dead-end opportunity? Chalk it up to a learning opportunity where you realized your passion is X or you wanted a better work-life balance.

      To look at it a different way, your post is basically a pro-con list. In the “pro” column, you have 1 thing — your paycheck, and only compared to other companies. In the “con” column, you have 7 things. Can the paycheck you earn right now offset or balance all 7 things in the “con,” including what seems to be a lack of respect by management and being underpaid?

  42. Bloopmaster*

    (How) do you maintain professional boundaries with someone who works for you who is also a close family friend? My spouse and I were in a bind when the pandemic started due to lack of childcare. Luckily, we have been able to work out a great arrangement with a dear friend who agreed to nanny our toddler. This woman is a wonderful nanny and adores our little munchkin, but it feels weird to be her employer when we have been like family for decades. She’s almost like a grandparent to our daughter and occasionally will bring her little gifts–which was completely normal before the nanny arrangement started but makes me uncomfortable now that we’re employer/employee. She really enjoys showing affection in this way (she has stated this explicitly), so I don’t want to take that away from her, but at the same time it feels so wrong to accept those gifts when we pay her. These aren’t absurdly frequent or expensive gifts (a small toy or snack item, etc.) Do I ask her to stop and risk insulting her? Do I leave it alone? Are there other options?

    1. Alex*

      I was a nanny and would sometimes bring little gifts for my charge–either for Christmas/birthday, or simply because I saw something cute and I couldn’t resist.

      I think it’s fine. It probably gives her pleasure, and I think this is different from “gifting up” in an office.

    2. Another JD*

      Accept the small gifts for your daughter. If it makes you feel better, then keep a mental tally of their value and give it back to her as a bonus.

    3. Paperwhite*

      Let me admit my bias up front: I love giving my friends’ children gifts and if I were your friend I wouldn’t even think of no longer giving your daughter gifts because I had become her paid caretaker.

      But from that perspective… I don’t think your friend views it as that you’re paying her to bring your daughter gifts, or more broadly to love her. You’re paying her to take care of your daughter. The love is a personal bonus. :)

  43. Amaranthe*

    No question, just wanted to say that I have an internal interview on Tuesday for a job that I am SO excited about, and I’m pretty sure it’s 100% due to the fact that I wrote a short cover letter using Allison’s guidelines. I’m not sure if cover letters are a thing for internal jobs, but I want this role *so badly*! I’ve been planning on looking for a role like this as the next step in my career for a couple years and am so stoked that I have an interview.

    Obviously, I know the job isn’t guaranteed; I’m doing my best to be reasonable. But I’ve been feeling done with my current role for a while (I’ve been doing it for three years) and lately with the restructuring my company has been doing to avoid laying people off (which is something I really admire), more and more work has been pushed off on me as the sole person in my current role and it’s been…kind of exhausting. It’s terrible timing for my current team but perfect timing for me and I’m so lucky that my manager is supportive.

    Anyway. Just wanted to ask for good vibes, and I’m sending good vibes to everyone else who is struggling with jobs or waiting on interviews/offers right now!

  44. Stephen!*

    I just got my first job lead from an employment agency…. that I had registered with 12 years ago.

  45. Message in a Bottle*

    I had a phone interview, but they never called me. I don’t know if she wanted me to call her, she confirmed the date and time with me, but that was it. I tried to contact her, but no one ever responded.

    Originally, I received an email asking what days/times I was available. I asked her what the times available were and she responded with, “I can call you today at 5pm”, so it seemed abrupt.

    Should I try and re-schedule?

  46. Twisted Knickers*

    Hello, and happy Friday! I’m taking early retirement, which I’m certainly excited about, but I’m also wondering how I’m going to handle the abrupt ending of a really satisfying career. It seems like, one day I’m fully invested in my organization and our mission, and the next day…I’m just supposed to stop caring/thinking about it? I’d love to hear from other retirees how the transition has gone for you. Thanks!

    1. londonedit*

      Is there something like a newsletter from your organisation that you could subscribe to or stay subscribed to, so you could get the odd snippet of news once a month or something? I’m not retired but my parents are, and watching them I think their interest in their old careers naturally waned over time, as they adjusted to their new lives, but perhaps having a way to keep informed about what’s going on in general with the organisation/mission would help with that adjustment? In a year’s time you might find you hardly ever open the email anymore, because things have moved on from both sides, but it might help in the short term.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      It sounds like it’s a nonprofit, could you do some volunteer work, either for them or an organization with a similar mission?

    3. irene adler*

      Is there a professional organization in your career field that you might volunteer for? Or offer to mentor some of the newer members?
      They may have folks interested in hearing about your experiences, knowledge.

      1. JustaTech*

        You could even transition to doing some consulting work in your field if the sudden stop of “work” feels too weird. My mom’s been retired for at least 5 years now but still takes meetings with people who want to learn some details about higher-ed development.

    4. Just a PM*

      My mom, when she retired, said it was like taking a new job. One day, she worked at X Company. The next, she didn’t. If you ever switched jobs or changed companies during your career, think about how you navigated that transition except it’s your own mission and your own goals and your own priorities you’re focusing on, not a new company’s.

    5. Hi there*

      Thanks for asking about this. I’ll be in this situation in a year and a half and am wondering how I’ll let go. The way I am thinking about it now is to think about what new role I’ll want and where when that day comes. I have a little time to build that role. I am also thinking about what new things I can learn or do (so many ideas–Girls on the Run coach? Finish up Education for Ministry? Learn to swim, which I have been saying I’ll do at 60?) Best of luck and keep us posted!

  47. JustaTech*

    Suggestion/complaint about Pulse surveys:
    If you are reporting on the results of a pulse survey (“how to employees feel about the company”) how about maybe don’t call out specific 4-person teams? Please stick to whole, overarching departments. Because while it might be true that 50% of Team A doesn’t feel recognized for their hard work, that is 1) only two people and 2) makes those people super easy to identify.

    Shouldn’t professional survey companies know better? Or do they not see the count for each group and only the percentages?


    1. EnfysNest*

      Oh, yikes! Yeah, the annual surveys we do at my job won’t report the results for any group with fewer than 5 responses (used to be 10, but they lowered it a couple years ago).

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, it was just an off-hand comment about Team A (my team) and Marketing (I don’t know how big they are, but they’re bigger than us!).

        If anyone tries to chew on us about it I think we’re just going to have to claim it was all the coworker they laid off, because if you want honest answers you don’t punish people for them.

    2. Emma L*

      They definitley should know better! My company just did a survey, and the survey company didn’t give results by team for the smaller teams for exactly this reason! Also problematic to give gender and ethnic breakdowns if you don’t have a lot of diversity.

      1. JustaTech*

        In theory we have diversity, but it’s not very diverse. Like, all the people of one ethnicity are at one location, and all the people of another ethnicity are at a second location, so if you call out one ethnicity then everyone knows you’re talking about site X.

        The folks who did the survey was a major company that just does this kind of survey, which is why I was really surprised that they would say anything like that.

  48. EnfysNest*

    Any suggestions on job suggestions / search terms to look out for for someone with an engineering background, but looking for something more structured than general project work?

    I have been working for a federal facility in project contract management for all 7 years since I graduated and I just can’t stand how inconsistent my work is from day to day and week to week, and I hate not being able to look back at my day/week and say that I accomplished X # of things. A project can last 1-5 years and my duties change month to month depending on where we are in the schedule and it just doesn’t work for me.

    I keep finding myself longing for the days of my college internship when I could spend a day typing up and filing permit info and I could feel like I’d produced a measurable output. My degree is in architectural engineering, but I barely use it because my position is actually contract management, despite being titled “engineer” and I worry that even if I found a firm that did shorter turn-around projects, I would be less appealing to an employer than a recent grad because I’ve really lost a lot of what I learned in college from lack of use.

    I’ve got a few ideas, but I’d love any suggestions you could offer! (If my location matters at all, I’m in central FL and looking for anything within about an hour of Orlando, though I’m flexible in the exact area as I’m planning to move anyway. Anything with lots of travel wouldn’t work for me, either.)

    1. Policy Wonk*

      You indicate you work for a federal facility – are you a fed? If so, easier, but depending on the type of engineering, have you considered licensing or regulatory compliance? The government needs technical experts in a lot of fields. And regulated industries also need such experts to help them comply with government regulations.

    2. Haha Lala*

      Hi! I’m a structural engineer (working for a consulting firm where 100% of my work is project based), but I have a few thoughts for you:
      What about working for a manufacturer? I know several structural engineers that work for product manufacturers (think Hilti/Simpson/Etc) and I’d imagine architectural engineering would have similar opportunities. I know their project turnaround is much shorter.
      If you’re worried about being rusty in technical areas, there are a lot of continuing education credits you can do for free online. It may not be enough to put on a resume, but it would definitely keep thing fresh in your head, and it could be worth putting in a cover letter.
      Are you part of any professional organizations? You may be able to make contacts with people with similar degrees and get information from them about what types of jobs you may be better suited for, or even find job openings there.

      Also, your experience would definitely still be relevant and give you a leg up on a new grad! When we hire new engineers out of college half of the struggle is getting them used to how a typical project runs and how real projects are different from school work. You’d be able to concentrate more on the technical issues from the get go. My first job out of college was in a specific niche of engineering, but when I was looking for a new job, I was able to sell my (now) current company on how well my experience would carry over, even though it wasn’t exactly the same.

  49. CatCat*

    At what point should employers develop a plan and communicate it on whether WFH is going to continue beyond the pandemic and how many days it will be allowed?

    Leadership was asked about it at an all staff meeting and it was basically a noncommittal “It’s too soon” to plan for that. I’m thinking, you have over half a year of info on how WFH has gone, when it is not “too soon”?

    1. TCO*

      My org (small nonprofit) didn’t do remote work before COVID. And while WFH is going okay, we did previously prize our in-person collaborative culture and will want to restore some of that somehow. I foresee us allowing more WFH when we do return to the office, but we’ll probably still have some expectations (When can you attend a meeting in-person vs. remotely? Will we have 1-2 days a week where we try to avoid internal meetings so people have the flexibility to WFH?). Some of that is going to take some group discussion and trial and error. Could we start working on that now? Sure, I guess. But we have far more urgent priorities when returning to the office isn’t going to be a reality for 6-9-12 months.

      I also think that we probably feel differently about WFH than we did six months ago. In some ways it’s gotten better and in some ways it’s just getting old. So more time will give us the ability to better assess what really has been lost and needs to be restored somehow, while also giving us more time to adjust and see how things really go. (Not to mention that challenges like childcare/schooling that are part of the current WFH reality will change with time, too.)

      I think employers could ask similar questions of their staff: why do you need to know right now what the policy will be in a year? What decisions are you making now (for instance, maybe moving or buying a house) that will be affected by the WFH policy in a year, and how we can work together to get enough clarity to make those decisions while realizing that the world is changing rapidly?

      1. CatCat*

        “But we have far more urgent priorities when returning to the office isn’t going to be a reality for 6-9-12 months.”

        We don’t even have this kind of clarity. The current WFH policy ends in 2 months.

        I would love if they would ask employees what they’re looking for here. They are not. I want to move further from my office location and feel stuck. At some point, I think we may just end up moving and I’ll look for a different job at a workplace with a more certain WFH plan.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          Oy, I feel this in my SOUL, CatCat. One of the biggest things I’ve learned this year is how much I no longer want to live in Big City. I desperately want to move, but can’t figure out if that means I need to job hunt or if I can potentially take this job with me, and I can make no decisions until the company has solidified its view of WFH in the future. It’s leaving me feeling very… untethered? Ungrounded? Stressed out and anxious for sure.

          I appreciate that my company revisits its WFH timeline every two months, but I do wish that we’d hit the point where everyone just agrees that the better solution is to plan for us to continue down this path until Summer 2021. Then I could feel a little bit like I could plan for the future.

          1. CatCat*

            I have the exact same feelings as you. I’m over living in Medium City. I live in the city proper because I loathe commuting and my commute to the office is so short. But I’m also no longer enjoying living in the city itself like I used to and want to move outside of it. But not if it means I just end up with a soul sucking commute in the future. I definitely identify with those untethered and anxious feelingd you describe.

            Glad I’m not alone. (I mean, not glad you’re experiencing this, just glad another person understands the frustration.)

    2. Aerin*

      My office has been providing updates more or less monthly about how things are going. Just yesterday they announced the next very gradual reopening steps (allowing people to sign up to work in the office sometimes even if they’re not essential, reopening the fitness center for essential staff only) and confirmed that they’re expecting the general WFH posture to last through at least early June. I have a feeling my org is being a lot more proactive about this than most, though.

    3. anon for this*

      My employer is working on this now. They’ve already given us broad strokes – there will be a new normal, we’re going to be more flexible about WFH in the future, but the office will still be open and it isn’t getting smaller. We’ll be going back on a volunteer basis very gradually after the state guidance opens up and no one will be required to go back before summer at the earliest. I got the impression from our last update call that HR leadership is talking to their peers in our area. Our policies look remarkably similar to what we’ve heard from counterparts at other local large companies.

    4. Formerly in HR*

      We just keep getting monthly or bi-monthly extensions and get told that they will come up with WFH strategies when the pandemic is over. They actually sort of verbally reprimanded people for making life choices based on the assumption they could work from home in the future. And it starts feeling like returning to office is the new pressure, as they feel
      overconfident that they managed exposure well so car (it feels tone deaf to say that because nobody got sick when only a handful of people ever went to office it will be the same when everyone returns to office).

    5. Chaordic One*

      My employer keeps kicking the can down the road about when we can expect to return to the office. Because of a shortage of office space they had us working in shifts and sharing desks, one person working the day shift and another one taking over a desk and working the night shift. (Surprisingly it worked out well for most people and there were comparatively few conflicts between people who shared desks.)

      People had been begging to work from home for years and when the COVID crisis hit, all of a sudden my employer magically came up with money to buy half of the employees new laptops and then to let the other half take their laptops home. Since they were working from home now, a fair number of people who wanted to work the day shift, instead of night, switched to days for as long as they were going to be working from home. (They lost a 10% night shift pay incentive when they did it.)

      My office is one of those few places where they have acknowledged that they needed to hire more people and their excuse for not doing so was that they just didn’t have anyplace to put them. Now that we’re working from home, there is suddenly empty office space to put new hires in and my employer has been on a hiring binge. About a month ago or so I was ordered to come in and clean out my desk, to make room for a new employee, which I did. So I’m still working from home at least until January. After that I don’t know for sure, but I expect them to want me (and a whole bunch of my team) to continue WFH.

  50. Sleepy*

    My boss wants me to approach an artist about donating their services and I don’t feel comfortable with it.

    We had previously discussed a small contract with a freelance artist. The project was put on hold due to Covid, and now there is no way to do it under budget due to the need for social distancing. My boss asked me to see if the artist would just donate their services instead and there’s just no way I can ask that right now, of all times, when I know artists are struggling.

    1. Jenny Says*

      Can you offer anything outside of $$$? If the artist creates something for your company, can you promote their work on your website/social/etc. Depending on the popularity of your company, that might be worth it.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I’d be real hesitant to offer “exposure”, rarely does that ever help an artist. And if the artist is doing well enough that a large company wants to hire them, I can’t imagine they actually need the so-called exposure. Plus if the company is so popular, they should have the money to pay someone for their services.

        And as WellRed said below, would you ask the IT person to work for exposure? The caterer? (Totally not trying to be harsh, just pointing out that this isn’t necessarily a good option, and might put the artist off from wanting to work with you at all.)

    2. WellRed*

      To me, it’s insulting to artists to be asked to donate their services. Would you ask the IT guy? The caterer? If you need the artist, pay them. If you don’t, don’t hire them.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        This right here. “We don’t want to absorb any expenses from the pandemic, can you just absorb all of them instead?”

      2. Twisted Lion*

        +100000 Just because its art doesnt mean it should be free. And the supplies to create the art, whos paying for that?

    3. Artemesia*

      that would be a monstrously abusive thing to do especially after dangling a paid contract. These are the times to go out of our way to get take out, buy local and pay artists and performers. We know someone who hires a band on their lawn every Sat night and the neighbors come by and give tips as well as enjoy the concert.

    4. Bird Person*

      I’ve had to protect my contractors before. I typically say something along the lines of “Boss has asked me to ask you about XYZ.” That protects your personal relationship with them, allows you to have a frank conversation with them, and then you can go back to your boss and report that you asked, but unfortunately, they are only able to do ABC.

    5. CatCat*

      In addition to what the others said, this could really blow up in a negative way for the company (and for you). Imagine you approach the artist about working for free, artist is rightfully offended, and then artist blasts about what happened on social media and it spreads. It could hurt the company’s reputation and your reputation if your name is attached to it.

      If boss wants to take this step, the boss needs to approach the artist and be responsible for negative repercussions.

      If your boss forces you into it, I’d do it on the phone with an extremely apologetic tone and distande yourself as much as possinle. “I know this is a but much, but Boss insisted that I contact you about this. Boss wants to know…”

      Yeck. I hope boss will reconsider. Maybe you can find examples of this kind of thing blowing up negatively in the press. An example that comes to mind was several years ago when Oprah’s tour asked a performer to work for free.

      1. pancakes*

        Musician Amanda Palmer asking for a backing band to work for free on tour after raising over $1 million on Kickstarter to produce an album is a good example of that. Dan Cassaro vs. Showtime wasn’t as high-profile but is more recent. Bon Appetit / Condé Nast only paying a fraction of its staff for appearing in videos isn’t directly on-point but is both recent and infamous.

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

          Also Aaron Carter “borrowing” art and then answering full of entitlement when confronted by the author.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yeah, I had a boss who told me to ask someone else for something that was basically impossible, and would make us look like really insensitive jerks in the process.
        “I can’t ask this!”
        “Just do it!”
        So I sent the email (“hey, can we use these incredibly dangerous pathogens in your facility?”) and then ran (literally ran) all the way to the facility in question to apologize in person for making such a stupid request. The people I’d asked, who were a lot more powerful than my boss in their own way, were very kind and said that they didn’t blame me for asking (but the answer was still Heck No!).

        So if you can’t get your boss to see the risks like CatCat described, then grovel as much as possible when you ask an basically beg them to say “no”.

    6. Haha Lala*

      If I were in your shoes, I’d ask the artist if there’s anything you can take out of the contract to get them to agree to a reduced fee. Mention that the overall budget took a hit due to Covid, your boss wants to shrink this portion of the budget as much as possible, but you really want to keep working with them and are hoping to find a good compromise. That gives the artist a chance to give a fee they’re comfortable with for a reduced workload. Then you can tell your boss that the artist isn’t willing to work for free, but they’d be willing to do “X” for a reduced fee, instead of “X,Y, and Z” for the larger fee. You’ve held up your part in asking the artist, without insulting them, and maybe the reduced price would be more reasonable for the boss to pocket.
      (This was a tip I got when I was wedding planning. Don’t just ask for the photographer to reduce their fee, ask “Could the price be reduced if I take an hour off of the contract?”)

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oh this is really smart! You can come to an agreement that works for everyone and no one gets insulted or asked to work for free.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I like this too – scale down the request. Medium can reduce costs — oil paintings & orchestral performances cost more than a pen&ink sketch & a solo. And depending on what you are asking to purchase, it usually can’t hurt to ask if the artist has any art already for sale in your price range. (That’s dicey if you want a company logo!)

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      Show your boss the For Exposure Twitter/Insta feed. Your boss should know that she will definitely not be the first to ask, and that artists think it’s obnoxious every f’ing time.

    8. tamer of dragonflies*

      Please dont offer “exposure” to any artist as payment for their services.It takes skill to do what they do and time to learn that skill.If it didnt take that skill to produce what you want,then anyone could do it and it wouldnt be special.Tell the begger thats wanting th enfreebie to try and maybe they’ll see why they should pay for an artists work just like they pay the mechanic to fix the car or the computer programer person to make a program.Artists work isnt worth less because its creative.People die from “exposure”. Sorry if this seems like a harsh rant ,but as a musician, its something that gets my hackles up when artists get hosed.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, it’s a really crappy thing to do. And it’s something freelance artistic types are really familiar with – the idea that they should work for free (or exposure!) when it would never occur to the askers to request free work from plumbers or accountants, or other people who do “real” work.

      If you absolutely can’t get you boss to back down, I’d go with a phone call and a very pointed tone of voice. “I’m very sorry, but my boss told me to ask you if you’d do X work as a donation.” Drip sarcasm. Then you can go back and honestly tell your boss that the artist said no, and the artist will know that you personally appreciate that they are a professional who should be paid for their work.

  51. Blister in the Sun*

    So, everyone’s going through stress and anxiety. Since we were ordered to work from home in March, I’ve been relatively productive and handling the frustration well (at least from a professional standpoint). Then my parent passed away. I took 2 weeks off (with lots of support from upper management) and went back to work from my childhood home for another 2 weeks before heading back to my regular life. It’s now been a few months and I’m starting to feel the strain. With family responsibilities, corona (I’m in a state that has recently seen a spike, so I have to go back to super limited activities so as not to potentially infect my living parent). I’m 50% productive on good days. I get done what needs doing, but I am not doing well. I can only hope that I’m hiding it well.

    Friends and even my therapist tell me to be kind to myself. But, I honestly don’t know what that means. Cut myself some slack for slacking? Give myself a hug? Pet my dog? I honestly don’t know. While we’re living in a surreal reality, I am curious to hear how others might have navigated this experience. Appreciate any words of wisdom!

    1. WellRed*

      My brother died last month unexpectedly. I took the better of a month off (dipping in online occassionally). I still take a half day here or there because there’s still So. Much. To. Do. Including just allowing myself time to be sad.
      Cut yourself slack for slacking. Take care of yourself. Hug your dog. Sorry about your parent.

    2. Twisted Lion*

      When I lost my mom the only thing that helped me was when a friend told me that my grief would take however long it takes. I felt like the expectation for me to go back to normal existed and yet I was incapable of achieving that. Losing a parent is incredibly difficult. It takes as long as it takes for you to slowly recenter. Your life has been thrown upside down (oh and during a global pandemic). For me I just needed that permission to grieve which might be what your friends and therapist are trying to say. My work wanted me to be 100% but like you I was at 50%. Just do the best you can. And yes, pet the dog :)

    3. JustaTech*

      Being kind to yourself can mean lots of different things. It depends on you and the moment.
      Probably the first thing, and for me at least the hardest, is to not be hard on myself for not living up to my pre-COVID, “normal life” expectations. Sometimes out internal self-talk can be really cruel in ways that we would call out immediately if someone said it to a friend or even a coworker, but we accept it from ourselves.

      So if you have a day when the grief just doesn’t let you get anything done, don’t beat yourself up about it. Say to yourself, if it was Coworker who experienced this, would I be mad at them for not getting this done? Or would I say “I’m sorry. Let’s try again tomorrow.”

      Acknowledge that you’re not 100%, and that it’s OK to not be OK right now.

      And yeah, pet your dog. Let them love you the way only a dog can.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      I’m really sorry for your loss.

      I think you’re right to try to work out what being kind to yourself actually looks like. People use the phrase all the time but it’s going to mean different things to different people. I think following a major loss there’s more to it than scented baths and herbal teas.

      For me (I had a significant loss a few years back and I can’t imagine living through that in COVID-world) a big part of it was renegotiating my responsibilities and expectations at work. If you are trying to do the same amount and quality of work as before, then you are likely to feel like you are failing all the time, and that can be exhausting. I was able to renegotiate my duties with my manager so that I did less client facing work and more back office for a few months on returning to work. Can you do something like this so that you actually have less (or at least less stressful) work to do?

      I also, and I still do this actually, allow myself to have days where I feel that I just need to put my own body and mind first, which for me means that I don’t work that day. Sometimes I can plan that, sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just can’t even, so I will call in (within reason – I will push through it when I feel I have to). I have a lot of PTO and a good work culture though, so I recognise that isn’t possible for everyone.

      Also, the boring stuff like sleeping, eating well. Grief is physically exhausting. If I don’t get enough sleep I can’t function at work or otherwise. I have had to learn to prioritise this, which isn’t easy as I tend to get more awake the later it gets – but that does not work with 8-4 office work. I also have to prioritise exercising and eating well to support this. Doing this in itself doesn’t resolve the problem, but I have learned that I cannot cope with the rest of my life if I don’t do it. For me, that discipline is at the center of the meaning of self-care. Are there things in your life which are the platform for being able to do the rest of it? Figure them out, and prioritise those.

      Are you a member of any grief support groups? If not I’d recommend looking into this. Talking with other people who have suffered loss can be supportive in a unique way.

      Finally, people around you are probably not going to understand how poleaxed you still are. Our culture does not have much space for grief anymore and you’re expected to be ‘over it’ in a ridiculously short period of time. You may have to push back if you’re being asked to do things that are too much for you right now. If you can’t push back on others, at least don’t beat yourself up for struggling. Of course you are struggling. This isn’t normal life in any way. Forgive yourself for finding it hard.

      I also think that

  52. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    My daughter just graduated from college in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Media Design. She’s looking for an entry-level office job, but despite applying to 10-15 jobs per week, she’s not getting any responses let alone interview requests. Her resume does include some office work (she worked in her college’s Student Resources department for a couple of years), but other than that it’s all serving and retail work. She has a good cover letter for her level of experience, but most of these jobs don’t even allow for one to be submitted along with the resume.

    I’m *really* trying not to helicopter parent her job search, but as someone who has job searched off and on for the last 25 years off and on want to offer her some guidance (such as how to weed out the MLM/scams, she already almost got taken in by a couple). It’s been so long since I job searched at the entry level though, and of course this is a whole new world now for new grads, especially in 2020.

    Any advice, tips or tricks I can suggest to assist her in getting a foot in the door at corporate America? She’s not picky, and is more than willing to start with admin type work and hopefully get into a marketing role once she has more professional experience.

    1. Alex*

      I had an almost identical experience…graduated with a vague degree, had some office experience as a student worker but non-office work experience otherwise. It was extremely hard to land any interviews, and I only eventually got a job because I had a personal connection. Applications for those jobs are usually in the hundreds, especially at the best/most well-known companies, and a basic resume and minimal experience just doesn’t cut it even for entry level. Those jobs are really, really tough to land just by meeting the requirements and sending out an application without something more specific to help you stand out.

      In the absence of a personal connection, I’d suggest having her contact a temp agency to see if she can get any temp placements. These can sometimes lead to permanent jobs, increase her network, get some more experience, etc.

      1. Jenny Says*

        Seconded. I landed a temp job with a high profile company through a connection from my uncle. It was in their call center, which was basically the first rung on the ladder. (So, while it wasn’t a strong connection, any connection can help) While that job was unrelated to anything I had studied or wanted to pursue as a career, it did get my foot in the door at the company and allowed me internal access to other jobs I might be interested in. And I did interview and get a job at one of their subsidiaries in a field I was interested in. (I did not use the connection as a reference)

      2. Fiona*

        Temp is a great idea. It’s so much easier to land something permanent when you are already in the mix, making connections, and letting people see your work.

    2. Spearmint*

      Perhaps she could do an internship in her field post-college, especially if she’s still living with you. That’s what I did. I spent a year post-college doing internships, then got a temp job and finally landed a permanent position.

      To be honest, though, it’s going to be hard. The entry-level office job market never really recovered from the 2008 recession—I have many friends who graduated college in 2016-2018 with liberal arts degrees and none had a full time permanent within 6 months of graduation, including me.

    3. Kathenus*

      Just a quick suggestion on the cover letter issue. She can create one document that has the cover letter and resume together, to allow her to submit one when only one attachment is allowed.

    4. Jaimie the B*

      Totally agree with the idea of working through a temp agency. Unfortunately given the current job market, its just rough for everyone, let alone recent grads without any full time experience. I’d also tell her to work through her college career center – employers will obviously be targeting entry level jobs. In my experience, most corporate jobs hire new grads for full time roles before graduation so unfortunately she’s missed the timeline for most of those opportunities (for example, my company already wrapped up hiring for full time roles for students graduating in May 2021). She may have better luck targeting small firms versus traditional “corporate America” for that reason.

    5. Picard*

      I can tell you as someone who has hired for several entry level office positions in my work place in the past couple of years including this past July, having solid Office skills stands out. We use Indeed for our hiring and they have an option for skills test for Office which we added to our job application (but not required) The folks that did well on the tests were at the front of the line for interviews. I am also very picky about grammar and spelling. These positions were client facing so attention to detail was very important. I understand anyone can make a mistake but we had over 400 applicants to the last posting we had. There were too many people who did NOT make errors that it was one way to winnow down the list. (reality check)

      I suggest she just keep trying. Also temp to perm is a good option too.

    6. DEJ*

      A really big thing with communications/marketing/design is that it’s all about what you’ve done. Internships in the field during college are HUGE and if she didn’t do one, she’s definitely at a disadvantage. Someone else suggested a post-graduate internship and I’d highly recommend that also if she can find one. As was also said, she’s applying for standard admin jobs and applications for those jobs are high, if she can get some actual communications/marketing/design work experience that will help her tremendously moving forward.

  53. TechWorker*

    I had a check in with my grand boss this week and we were discussing how my team is very busy and has years of work lined up. He made some comment about how ~18 months ago it was thought that the project was winding down and would need less resource and he ‘didn’t know what went wrong with the communication‘ between my then manager and me – implying I’d not communicated the project needs correctly. I was taken aback because I *was* communicating, loudly and clearly, that the workload was too high and taking people off the team was the wrong decision. I also know my more experienced colleague who leads the other half of the project said the same. It’s just the manager in the middle was a massive optimist and ignored us/didn’t himself raise it up. (To the point where we only got the resource we needed when I complained above his head, I had months of stress and my mental health suffered).

    The manager in the middle has since moved onto other projects, and I have a different manager who is much more experienced, so things are now sane and I enjoy my job again.

    I’m not sure whether I should push this point or let it be water under the bridge? I don’t really want my grand boss thinking I’m just a bit incompetent and was not raising problems – but it was all a while ago and I have no wish to rehash solved problems, or to get my former manager ‘in trouble’.

    What do you guys think?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Could you go back to her and say something like this?

      “Do you mind if we have a mentoring call about the feedback you gave me last week regarding communication? I wanted to run what I tried by you, and hopefully get some feedback on what I could do differently in the future?”
      Then, in a non-emotional or accusatory way, talk through the different things you tried. It would also help if you had some suggestions yourself, like “in retrospect, it probably would have made my case stronger if I had some more data to support this” “do you think I should have escalated this sooner?” etc.

      The objective here is to show your grandboss that you’re open to feedback and want to take ownership of opportunities to improve, even when the problems aren’t really ‘your’ fault. After all, working with difficult/bad managers is a fact of life, and just because they’re bad doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to better handle the situation.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yes, thanks that’s useful.

        In all fairness it is totally true that I should have provided more data, but as a new and very stressed manager my main feedback was ‘we’re sinking’. I think my manager (and grand boss) assumed that I was just stressed by the newness of the position rather than the project being on fire. (Getting the feedback of ‘you’ll get a promotion once you’re less stressed’ when the reason you’re stressed is mostly under-resourcing was hard). I do think I have learnt since and would give better data now – but now I’ve also felt what it’s like to be in the role when things aren’t on fire!

        1. Artemesia*

          I think that approach is ‘admitting’ you failed rather than correcting her misapprehension. I would not do that. I would have one conversation to correct the impression. (that may be the wrong move — but the boss brought it up so I would use that as the lever — ‘you mentioned that we had indicated — resources/winding down yadda yadda. I was surprised because Eunice and I were very clear to Bill that we needed more resources and I didn’t realize that had not been conveyed to you. — random softening verbiage here.’

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            But its ALWAYS a good idea to take ownership of your contribution to a problem, even if you were 1% and it was a totally understandable mistake as a new ___. People think admitting they made a mistake makes them look weaker, but in fact it makes them look more competent, and increases the bosses confidence that the problem won’t happen again. Worst case, I once had a boss tell me “I’m only going to let you fall on that sword for 30 seconds because honestly your contribution to this problem was tiny. Now send ProblemEmployee in here.” [more on this approach in Jocko Willink’s Leadership Strategy and Tactics Field Manual]

            Coming to the boss ‘correcting’ him about how you definitely communicated perfectly and none of it was your fault is much less likely to leave a good impression than saying “I made some mistakes here but also I want you to understand the bigger picture because I think theres some opportunities for improvement on a grander scale about how we approach downsizing decisions, let me help you look good by preventing this in the future.”

            1. Not A Girl Boss*

              Which, by the way, is the other point. OP its totally understandable that you made these mistakes! They’re not even really mistakes, just learning experiences. Its not like some kind of moral judgement. Its more about taking time to acknowledge the mistakes so that everyone (you AND grandboss) know you won’t repeat them.

              1. TechWorker*

                Thanks both :)

                I also know the middle manager who imo dropped the ball was overstretched and had only just started managing managers. So my main ‘advice’ for the company is not to put all the people new to their roles on one team! I genuinely think they thought it would make it easier for us (both) to have authority or something whereas in reality it was just a big ol’ mess.

  54. Sabrina*

    I lost my mid-level job during covid and then I struggled to find a new one on my level. I ended up applying for lower level jobs and started a very basic entry level position few weeks ago. One of the companies I interviewed with when I was looking, came back with a job offer. They said they took time cause they had some hiring delays but would like to bring me onboard for a mid-level position. This position aligns more with my set of skills and experience. Has a much better pay, better PTO, and health insurance. How do I quit an entry-level job I started three weeks ago?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      These things happen. Its part of why companies hesitate to hire over-qualified candidates. But the good news is, this job market is so fierce that they’ll have no problem replacing you. Since you’re still definitely in the “they’re investing more than they’re getting from you” stage, I would be prepared for them not to want you to finish out the 2 weeks notice. And since the gap is so small, just leave it off your resume entirely. You’ll burn a bridge but that bridge isn’t likely to matter much for your future.

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

      Also as it’s only been 3 weeks, how much (I mean this kindly!) have you realistically ‘ramped-up’ in this time?

      After only 3 weeks it’s most likely, especially in these times, that other people in the hiring process that just missed out are still available and would love to be offered that job :)

      I think you need to just be upfront with your manager – if you are overqualified they are probably partly expecting this anyway…

    3. DEJ*

      AAM/Allison recommends that you do what’s best for you in this situation, but know that you’ll probably be burning a bridge in the process. Be profusely apologetic about it but realize that they will be fine in the long run with the number of people out there looking for a job.

  55. Alex*

    Does anyone have examples of “Diversity and Inclusion” or “Anti-racism” or similar initiatives/committees that have been effective and positive in your workplace? What has worked? What has failed?

    My workplace has such a group, but is struggling to make it meaningful and positive. There are a lot of conflicting opinions over what such a group’s mandate actually should be, and it’s starting to feel like a quagmire rather than something useful. I’d like to be able to bring some concrete ideas to the table.

    1. Kwebbel*

      My company has multiple initiatives around the topics (one group about dis/ability, one about gender, one about race, to name just a few of the obvious ones). I think what’s been really key is that the leadership frequently lay out just how important the topics are and why they support them.

      For International Women’s Day some of the top leaders of the company, male and female, gave speeches about gender diversity in the workplace. When George Floyd was murdered, the CEO recorded an 8-minute video sharing his thoughts and condemning what had happened. All of these groups have logos and t-shirts, and in any biweekly Q&A in any of the departments, a few of the leaders will be sporting one of these shirts.

      Leadership support isn’t a guarantee that the mentality will trickle down to the rest of the organization, but I think it’s still an important first step, as it sets the tone by saying “we expect this to be an inclusive workplace, and we will role model that at all times.”

      1. Anax*

        I thought you might be in my company for a moment, but our CEO is female. We’ve been doing similar things, and I think it’s been useful for setting the tone.

        The African-American resource group has been particularly prominent in recent events, and they’ve had some discussions where Black folks were sharing their grief and experiences with racism, which was really powerful to listen to as a white person, and sounded quite cathartic for those speaking. We also had Juneteenth off, which I think really reinforced that importance, and also gave an easy opportunity to explain to white friends and family what Juneteenth is. Giving equal space to non-majority cultures rather than treating the majority culture as the default everyone just adjust to. (I know Pride, Diwali, and Chinese New Year are big too, but I haven’t had a chance to attend any of the corporate festivals there.)

        There are a lot of minority folks in leadership positions, which also helps. I felt a lot more comfortable coming on board when not only were my coworkers totally fine with me being trans and immediately using the correct pronouns, but my boss and the department head were queer, and everyone had rainbows everywhere.

        There are also a lot of pointed initiatives to help minority folks of all stripes feel comfortable advocating for themselves, negotiating salaries, seeking new positions and leadership roles, etc., as well as regular AMAs and discussions with executives. These are open to everyone, but they’re sent to and targeted at minority groups and women, and I think are largely attended by those groups. I can’t speak to the efficacy there yet, but I know they keep statistics and have been setting up a lot of well-attended events.

    2. Bobina*

      Ex-job did a fairly decent job for me. Things that I liked:
      – KPI’s! They tracked/measured statistics numbers of staff from disadvantaged groups (it was a large employer, so this could be done in a proper, anonymous fashion) and committed to increasing the numbers. Personally, I find a lot of these groups meaningless if they have no tangible goals. So while yours may not necessarily be about increasing a certain demographic – you need to have 1-2 key goals, ideally with metrics that can be tracked to show progress.
      – Communication: senior leadership spoke openly about what was going on, and made it clear that this was something important to them. So maybe go one step back – what level of buy-in and support do you have from senior leadership (ie CxO level) to actually support such an initiative?
      – Consequences: following on from just having these policies etc, they would communicate any instances (anonymised ofcourse) which showed that people who violated policies faced the appropriate consequence. Some people might advocate against it, but personally I liked that it showed they were committed to what they said. So this might be things like saying at an all hands meeting, “An employee was disciplined last month for using language that goes against our anti-discriminatory policy. Please remember to follow our code of conduct at all times”

    3. Jennifer*

      I think sometimes the people who are causing the problems don’t really participate in these groups because they are voluntary and people who are dealing with racism don’t speak up because they need their jobs.

      Take a look at leadership and see if there are any women or people of color. If not, try to examine why. Is there a place where people can safely report incidents without fear of retaliation? Are the ideas of POCs as respected as those of their white counterparts? Maybe start with a truly anonymous survey and go from there.

    4. Artemesia*

      I participated in this type things for years and it was utterly useless and often worse than useless (horrible training for example that alienated everyone). The only positive thing I remember was a mentoring program for new minority and female employees. The other positive step may have been a federal mandate not sure, but it was to require information about the top minority candidate for a job when putting forward hiring requests. This forced every hiring committee to be intentional about surfacing minority candidates and sometimes they ended up being hired as a result. In our case we didn’t have an issue with female candidates but in a male heavy setting, you would also look at the top female candidate.

    5. Alex*

      Thanks for the replies everyone. It is clear, reading them, that part of the problem with my company’s committee is the lack of support from leadership. While senior leadership talks the talk….walking the walk has proven a bit harder for them, and there is definitely a disconnect between what the people see as antiracism and what leadership thing. Personally I’d like to see real action taken to reduce our industry’s (longstanding) complicity in white supremacy, starting with my own organization, but that’s proven really hard to do when the committee has no sway over hiring practices or pretty much anything else. I actually think most people want to BE on the committee to try and hold senior leadership accountable, and the whole thing feels at odds with them. Maybe that is the real source of our struggle to feel relevant or accomplish anything.

  56. Pocket Mouse*

    How does one manage a direct report when it’s difficult or impossible to check their work? I’ve read frequently that managers don’t need to have the same technical skills as those they supervise, but am not sure what this looks like in practice.

    I lead a small team with somewhat specialized skills, and now it looks like my direct report may soon shift to be supervised by my supervisor rather than by me. (Circumstances prompting this do not have to do with the quality of supervision I’ve provided, as far as I know.) My supervisor does not have the time, knowledge of the workflows, or insight into nuances that impact the work to adequately monitor and review whether and how well the work is done; I’ve stayed on top of it and frequently had to plan with, remind, or guide my direct report in ways my supervisor will not be able to. Complicating this, my direct report and I will not have a clear division of tasks, and I’m not clear on what a productive shift to this new peer-like reporting setup will look like—particularly for things that, as their supervisor, I would have reviewed or followed up on. I’m a little afraid I will either be held responsible in ways I shouldn’t be, or my own reputation will slip in tandem with the other person’s work.

    Any advice for laying out boundaries and expectations from the start? I’ll be talking to my supervisor about this soon, and would like to come to that discussion prepared with any insights the commentariat may have!

    1. Artemesia*

      I would lay this out crystal clear i.e. 1. you have had to manage closely because of productivity and quality issues such as A B C and are concerned about these issues going forward damaging your team’s work productivity if he is not closely managed. You can’t tell the boss how to manage him but you can make it clear that there are problems with the work if he is not actively managed.

  57. Burnt Crisp*

    I am burnt out at my new job, which feels wild. But we all just worked overtime for about 3 months straight on a project related to the pandemic and social services, and it has burned me out. I am also in the process of moving. I just feel like I cannot concentrate or be productive at work. Sometimes I just want to cry :( I think a mix of stress (although my work project is over, so I should be less stressed) from the move and the general anxiety of the world, and I miss my family. I am taking two days off for moving, but because I’m new I don’t have too much time built up to take off and feel like I should save it in case something goes weird with the move.. I also feel a bit guilty taking off time because I’ve been so unproductive for the past few weeks.

    Anyone have tips to get back in the groove and productive if you can’t really take time off?

    1. Artemesia*

      Have you been doing self care? Can you change your daily schedule dramatically to draw a line between before and after the move? Can part of that be very vigorous exercise — get a weight routine and exercise bike if you don’t have access to a gym in your building. sometimes working less but working harder becomes possible when you work on exercise, diet, and head management. Decades ago a new job just about broke me — I was alone with a two year old and a huge workload that had me working late into the night after the baby was in bed and all weekend and I was just exhausted. What helped me somewhat was exercise and planning activities every day after I picked the child up from day care with him so I had a break from the anxiety.

  58. Handwashing Hero*

    Zoom interview tips? I have a 3rd (!!) interview next week that will be on zoom as opposed to just phone calls as the previous 2. This will be with higher up level people, think director so I’d like to be posh.

    Will be playing with lighting this weekend and I have a good quiet area to do it in but any tips welcome!!

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Dress the part, and try out the software beforehand so that’s not a hurdle. Join a few minutes early in case there’s some kind of technology complication. In particular, try a call with a friend to make sure your mic is clear sounding. But otherwise, don’t sweat it too much. You’ll do great!

    2. Marny*

      Maybe a practice zoom conversation with a friend who will tell you if you’re doing anything strange or distracting on camera? For me, I get distracted by seeing my own face on screen and wind up messing with my hair, etc. If someone will alert you to those things, it may help you to keep yourself from those kind of self-conscious actions.

    3. Camellia*

      Many beauty gurus have posted videos on YouTube on how to look great in Zoom meetings, so you may want to watch some of those.

      1. Handwashing Hero*

        Thank you! To say I am ecstatic is an understatement. If it all pans out it will be a good news Friday post for sure.

    4. Artemesia*

      make sure the laptop if using one is elevated. I use a tower of coffee table books so I can sit at the coffee table and have the camera level with me. The angle is important — you don’t want an up angle. If you are sitting at a desk top on a desk that is probably not an issue.

      And play with the lighting. I have a weekly movie group and we had us well lit and we looked ancient (fair enough). when I reduced the lighting a bit we were still well lit but I had great bone structure and looked much better if not much younger. You don’t want glary lighting or too dim lighting but soft lighting that gives you good contours and color. You can play with make up when checking this out if you use make up and also check your hair and clothes.

      Use the ‘improve appearance’ button on zoom — it slightly fuzzes faces and I think it does improve appearance a bit. It is pretty subtle.

      I would use a professional looking virtual background. Shoot your own book case and upload it or your own solid color wall or whatever or look at the canned backgrounds. That way you don’t have to worry about invasion of privacy or a cluttered background.

      when you do all this ahead of time, maybe in a zoom with a friend, you go in feeling confident that you look great and you don’t have to worry about these details which makes for a more confident presentation of self.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I have to be honest, the virtual backgrounds really distract me because every time you turn your face it disappears. Its better than a cluttered background, but a plain wall is best of all.

        I do agree on the high angle though. If nothing else it makes you sit up straighter and therefor look more confident. I’m lucky enough to have a standing desk and actually took a few interviews standing because I felt more confident that way, and no one could see me fidget-ly twirl my chair.

    5. Haha Lala*

      I agree with other, definitely do a trial run, and make sure to do it around the same time of day as your interview, especially if you’ll be in a room with a lot of daylight. And wear your interview outfit for the trial too, to make sure nothing comes across weird on camera.
      Good luck!

  59. WFH Problems*

    I changed jobs in July. My previous job went to 100% WFH in March, and I LOVED it so much that I ended up negotiating to WFH permanently for a new company (it was not originally advertised as WFH but I had connections at the company).

    Well, WFH is not going well with them. They went back to 100% onsite earlier this month. It’s completely different to be the only remote person. It feels like they just don’t know what to do with me, and we are both dissatisfied. They keep forgetting to invite me to meetings, and when they do I can’t hear them well because they’re in a conference room and I’m on someone’s speakerphone. There seems to be very few tasks that don’t require some amount of on-site work, so I have to keep asking people to do part of my job for me. Or, there are things that totally could be done remote, but they feel like its just easier/faster for an onsite person to do it (as in, its too complicated to schedule a video call, so they just meet in person without me). And in general, since they returned to the office the amount of work they have available for me to do has dwindled to the point that I’m, well, bored. And that makes me feel like a lazy slacker and gives me anxiety.
    Plus, where my last job there was a lot of effort to maintain social interaction because we were all remote, at this job I just don’t have any opportunity to talk casually with coworkers. Every meeting is very down to business because they’ve already chit-chatted before calling in. This extra little bit of social isolation feels like the last straw in my 2020 isolation hay bale.

    I know I’m incredibly lucky to have a job right now, and to have been able to change jobs mid-pandemic. But I just don’t know what to do. I’m afraid they’ll fire me because the arrangement isn’t working out. I can’t work in person with them because they’re in a different state and I can’t afford to move right now. I tried asking about better video conferencing software for the conference rooms, but I don’t really know how else to address this.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m sorry but I don’t think this is fixable. It sounds like the job can’t actually be done from home. Added, they don’t do WFH otherwise and they’ve made it obvious that in addition to being new, you are also remote and in another state. Start looking because I truly think they will let you go sooner rather than later.

      1. WFH Problems*

        I guess I was concerned that quitting so soon off the bat would burn a bridge.

        It was and still is my plan to move to the state in 12-18 months, and when I’m there in person I’d love to work for them. But also… I don’t know if we’ll make it that far, or if we do, whether it’ll have tainted their perception of me too much.

        1. Artemesia*

          Any chance that there are tasks you could do extra that work well from home and drop the ones that don’t WFH? You have probably thought of that but if not think long and hard about the work there and see if you can propose something where you can be super productive by changing the job slightly. Thinking e.g. there are writing tasks you could do more of or long distance customer management or? tough situation that needs you to be proactive to fix.

    2. Bostonian*

      It can be hard for companies/teams to handle a single WFH employee well. Sometimes people get so caught up with their regular routine and what’s in front of them that they forget that they need to be mindful of remote teammates (it even happened in my group, where there are multiple full-time WFH employees and we’ve been doing it for a while).

      There’s a good chance they would be receptive to feedback if you raise it professionally (like the part about not being able to hear in the conference room). They won’t know it’s an issue until you tell them! There will still always be some level of these issues even when people are trying their best. (I’ve definitely heard complaints about the issue you mentioned where team members might go to the person who was in the office because it’s easier.) But I don’t think it’s not salvageable until you try being more assertive about communicating your needs.

    3. Girasol*

      Can you recommend a no-hybrid-meeting rule? That is, either everyone in the meeting is in the conference room, or if they can’t be, then everyone is using a phone headset to dial in. “No hybrid meetings” means that no one schedules a half-and-half meeting where the in-office people circle around a speakerphone and all talk at once, and the WFH people can’t make sense of the garble or break in to comment. Remind the boss that hybrid meetings waste employee productivity. If coworkers balk, remind them that with remote meetings they won’t have to find an unscheduled conference room, and they can sit in their own comfy office chair rather than a broken down conference room chair that’s – eeuw – still warm from last meeting.

    4. Workerbee*

      Oof. That they feel video conferencing is somehow too hard is a ridiculous and unfortunate barrier.

      Is there anyone onsite that you feel could be or is an ally? This person would be on the ground to remind people to include you in meetings, and/or chivvy them into clicking the friendly buttons on Teams or Zoom or whatever. I had to depend on such a person with my org, where I’m the sole WFH person. We have Zoom, but while I’m sitting on the video, they would only use audio, crowding around a conference phone or passing a cell phone around (yep). And of course someone would always talk when they weren’t with the phone, and the others would respond…I heard about 10% of these meetings.

      Then my inside person announced one day that everyone was to dial in to Zoom from their desks, with their headphones. And they did! I don’t think this would have happened with just me repeatedly bringing it up.

      This org has other archaic problems, but it was a welcome change, that’s for sure.

  60. Kwebbel*

    So my question is basically: Should I give feedback to a peer who probably should hear the feedback but probably doesn’t want feedback from me?

    Our team consists of 5 people: our manager, 2 seniors, and 2 non-seniors. I’m one of the non-seniors. It’s a bit of a funny delineation because we’re all project managers (except our boss), and I have the most project management experience. However, it’s the sort of company where you get a senior title by being in the company a certain length of time and not because of the experience you have. Out of all of us, I’m the newest to the company – hence my title.

    My peer who is also non-senior is very, very new to project management. Her approach has been to learn project management from a book. She definitely has the sleekest project templates, gantt charts and stakeholder dossiers of any of us. However, she struggles with the soft skills you need to be successful at this craft (stakeholder engagement, business communication, problem solving, and so on).

    She is very keen to get feedback from our manager, sometimes accepts feedback from the seniors on our team, but rarely accepts feedback from me. She sometimes asks for feedback, but when I try to give her feedback and concrete advice, she’ll brush it off. As one example, she once wrote a 300-word response to a yes or no question over a group chat (the actual answer was buried 200 words in). She asked me for feedback and I suggested working on crafting a shorter, punchier message, which I’d learned from my years working for consultants. She simply told me “I use a different logic when I write”, and hasn’t changed her approach. If anything, she’s gotten wordier.

    The thing is, I’m the one who sees her in action far more than the other members of our team because our projects sometimes overlap. And other people are really struggling to follow her train of thought. I’ve been in six meetings with her over the past 3 weeks where she has drifted off into unstructured detail when explaining her project, then tried to gather input from stakeholders with a “how do you feel about this idea?”. I can see stakeholders are lost, and some of them are obviously frustrated with her long-windedness. Plus, her vague questions are leading her to miss very key information that she needs to move forward with her work.

    What I see in her is myself at the end of my first year of project management. I struggled just as much as she did at that point, and I have a trousseau full of tips I can give her that she could learn from. But it looks like she’s telling me she doesn’t want my help and sees her approach as her personal style of project management. I’m not so sure, though, because she often gives me feedback on my own work.

    So, dear commenters, should I try bringing some of these points up with her? Her approach doesn’t impact my work, so I’m happy to just let it go. Or is there value in sharing feedback with a peer when you see them struggling, even if they don’t notice they’re struggling and don’t seem to want help?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      You can’t force her to be open to learning from you, no matter how good your advice is. If she doesn’t respect you as an expert, she’s just not going to be willing to take your advice at face value. This is especially true if she has a bit of fear of underperforming, or sees you as competition. Its totally counterintuitive, but so many people think that the less advice they take, the more competent they appear.

      But what you could do is pass this feedback along to your boss and have him phrase it as if its coming from him directly. Its completely reasonable to bring up to your boss “I wanted to highlight for you that I noticed the team is getting frustrated at the lengthly/unclear direction from Belinda, for example___. I know I have a bigger chance of catching those things than you do, because I interact with them more directly.” Or, suggest he set up a formal mentoring relationship between you (phrase it as career development for yourself) so that she gets the memo that boss actually thinks you have thing to teach her.

      But also…. sometimes people just have to learn the hard way, for themselves.

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      You’re not her manager and she’s not asking you for input. Don’t “coach” her. Are you working with her on the same project or just sitting in? You can address specific problems and can give direct single item feedback when it applies to your work. Give her your notes if you think she missed something you didn’t. If you’re doing a meeting together, meet to go over stakeholder questions and meeting agendas in advance and guide specific questions/materials. If she’s communicating TO you on or your project, ask her to be more concise. If she’s doing her own projects that don’t overlap yours, let it be.

      If you trust your boss you can have a big picture conversation with them. If her project goes poorly, that should be evident in the end result.

      Make sure when you approach her it is not like “let me bestow my wisdom, I have been in your shoes,” it is like “we have a focus group coming up together. The questions need to be more targeted to get the information we need and the project overview should be shorter and mention x, y and z so it’s clear to someone who doesn’t have the background we do.”

    3. PollyQ*

      You’ve already shared feedback, and she’s clearly not interested it. Make like Elsa and “Let it go.”

    4. TL -*

      “I use a different logic when I write.”

      I write professionally and I’m dying from laughter over here. She’ll figure it out on her own, or she’ll move into a field where her different logic will be more…. appreciated.

      1. pcake*

        Or she won’t figure it out, and will continue to confuse or annoy coworkers and reports.

        In any event, even when she asked for feedback, she wouldn’t really listen. I can’t imagine she’ll be more apt to listen to feedback she didn’t ask for.

  61. Blister in the Sun*

    When everything shut down back in March, I was relatively ok. A little stressed, anxious, but moving forward and then after a few months, had finally got the hang of things and was doing fine at work. (If a little filled with ennui and frustration from being trapped in a tiny apartment with the only human I had any regular interaction with being my doorman… god bless my doorman) Then a few months ago, one of my parents passed away. They were healthy, so it was unexpected (think embolism, not COVID). I was able to take 2 weeks off work and then worked from my childhood home another 2 weeks. And I was hanging in there. Until about a month ago.

    I still WFH and live in an area that has seen a COVID spike. I regularly visit my living parent, so I have to be extra careful and once again, I don’t see people, hang out or do anything beyond errands. (As an introvert this isn’t as difficult as it could be, still….) My siblings live out of state, so I am largely alone in making sure my parent has the physical support they need (and fortunately, they are healthy, so this is mostly in the form of computer assistance and changing lightbulbs). But, I’m not doing well professionally. I’m about 50% productive. I do what needs doing, but I am in no way doing all I could or at least what I used to do. I can only hope that I’m hiding it well.

    Friends and my therapist tell me to be kind to myself. But I don’t know what that means. Cut myself some slack for slacking? Pet the dog? Give myself a hug? I was curious how others might have navigated this and if you have any sage advice. I’d appreciate it.

    1. willow for now*

      Can you ask to cut back on your work hours? Is that financially feasible for you? Cut back enough that you don’t feel as stressed out with your lower productivity but with enough hours to keep your benefits? I did that, and I am in a much better place mentally. I can sleep more, my work days are shorter, I don’t have to obsess over billable hours.

  62. nep*

    When pandemic hit, the fitness center where I was working (very part-time) closed. It reopened around mid-September. The director has been saying in monthly Zoom meetings that of course not all employees would be asked back, given massive funding cuts and overall impact of COVID. It’s now clear I’m glad to move on and have no intention of going back. I’m thinking of just telling them so.
    I’ve heard nothing at all from my supervisor or HR about my status since the reopening over a month ago. I am thinking they might be waiting for still-furloughed employees to say they’re not coming back, rather than make the move of laying them off/firing them. Does that seem likely? Is it somehow to the employee’s advantage to do that?
    One thing I’m wondering about is a retirement savings plan I have through the employer; of course it’s just sitting here, with no new contributions. Is there any reason to expedite ‘closure’ so I can move that? It is not a lot of money and this aspect doesn’t feel urgent to me, but I’d be interested in anyone’s take on that.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not understanding the issue. You have no intention of going back. What’s the benefit to you of not telling them?

      1. nep*

        Thanks, WellRed. Indeed–Even as I hit submit I saw that there is no clear issue here.
        I’m making things too personal and letting my overall dislike of the company color my actions and thinking here; I’ve been thinking they should be the ones to do the ‘respectful’ thing and let long-time employees know where they stand. (They have a reputation for having little consideration for some employees.) But that’s all simply projection on my part; they have a zillion things going on reopening and coping with all that comes with that. I would love to delete this post/thread–Alison, please feel free to do so.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          I actually think they’re trying to do the right thing here, and its just not coming across that way. In their eyes, if there’s a 10% chance that they could bring you back, they don’t want to officially lay you off and then force you to reapply, etc. In their employee’s eyes, they’re hanging onto the hope that they’ll be brought back, probably assuming the chance is more like 90%.

          1. nep*

            Makes perfect sense. I’ve been letting my often bad feelings about the employer color my thinking. But it makes sense that they are FAR from settled in how they will be able to proceed.
            That initial post was really just ‘thinking aloud’ and as WellRed said, no real issue…

        2. ronda*

          there might be some unemployment benefits issues….. if you quit, you usually dont get them…. but with the furlough and what not… maybe you have already used your unemployment benefits. This is state specific, so you would want to talk to your states unemployment office about it.

          For 401k (and probably other retirement type plans) they send you information on your options with those funds when you are terminated (whether you or they initiate it). So follow-up with your manager and see if they are planning to terminate and when. If they are not going to ….. you can then resign and they should send you the information on what to do with that plan.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh this was supposed to be a reply to Rusty Shackleford about what I want to say to people but can’t.

  63. No Tribble At All*

    Tips for dealing with a mansplainer in our Diversity and Inclusion working group? He keeps coming up with ideas that aren’t good and doesn’t listen when we say why it should insufficient. Then he’s all “I listen to personal experiences explaining why it’s bad” but really it takes at least 10 times. He’s also repeatedly brought up the same story about why quotas are bad— once a meeting. We get it, reverse discrimination is bad too. I’ve told him we’re aware of his concerns and aren’t planning on doing quotas, but he still brings it up. I’m this close to snapping “shut up at let the people who are actually affected by this [women in STEM] talk”… is there a polite way to do this??

    1. Littorally*

      Call the behavior and shut it down in the moment.

      “Jack, no one is talking about quotas, and you keep going off on this topic when it isn’t on the table. This is a distraction and you need to stop.”

      But if he’s really dedicated to not listening to people… why is he still in the working group? Who has the authority to disinvite him?

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah. This.
        Or, if he must be there, then institute some more rigid rules regarding who gets to talk. Like the use of a “talking stick”. She who hold the talking stick gets the floor. And no one else.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          Yeah— one way to do this is to say ‘we’ve heard a lot from a few people (or Jack, we’ve heard a lot from you) so I want to make space for input from people who haven’t spoken as much yet’

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yeah, this. You don’t owe him your politeness, and at the very least its a disservice to him. If there was every a time to be blunt, its here.

        A few potential options here:
        1) He’s a sexist who joined the group to actively work against it. Solution: shut down his inappropriate talk (so he is forced to sit and listen in silence to the people he discriminates against. Who knows, maybe he’ll learn something).
        2) He really wants to help, but is super clueless. Solution: shut down his inappropriate talk (if he means well, he’ll be sufficiently embarrassed for himself, and sit and listen and learn. Not teaching him what’s wrong never gives him an opportunity to learn or improve.).
        3) He’s somewhere in between. Solution: you guessed it, shut down his inappropriate talk.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Is there a way to have the group meet without him? It’s okay for women to meet without men, it’s okay for disabled folks to meet without able-bodied folks, and it’s okay for BIPOC to meet without white people, especially when working specifically on DEI initiatives.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      “Thank you Mansplainer for giving us a practical demonstration of a man taking over the conversation.” So tempting . . .

    4. Girasol*

      Is he telling others that their feelings aren’t right and what they should feel instead? If I’m understanding that correctly, you could call him on it and explain why that’s not appropriate.

  64. Self doubt*

    I’ve worked for the same organization for 6 years and just interviewed for an internal position that would be an advancement. I’m very newly pregnant (7 weeks). My first child (born 5 years ago) was a high risk pregnancy and a premature delivery, and that could happen again this time or not, I don’t know. If I’m offered the job, I mention none of this, correct? I’m feeling a sense of obligation that I should mention it, but I also have a history of toxic workplaces with all sorts of ridiculous “we’re like a family” boundary violations. Since my own family doesn’t even know yet, I’m not obligated to disclose this… right? Any perspective would be helpful! I’ve been doubting myself and the nausea is not helping my critical thinking skills!

    1. ctiugh*

      I would think especially because it is an internal position there would be no need to share so early. The only reason why you might n my head is to work with a new company on what would be available in terms of maternity leave, which shouldn’t be an issue since this is internal.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Congratulations! There is no reason to mention anything about your pregnancy at work until you’re ready to do so. I wish you an easy pregnancy, fast delivery, and a healthy baby!

      1. Self doubt*

        Okay, thank you everyone for the fast reassurance! I am proud of myself for learning from AAM and trying hard to believe I am deserving of career advancement and a family at the same time. Baby steps!

    3. Haha Lala*

      Agreed with others, no need to mention it!
      And keep this line in your back pocket for later, if you do get the promotion, then announce your pregnancy shortly after, and then have someone question you:
      “Oh, I didn’t want to tell you too early and put you in the difficult position of letting that influence your decision and running the risk of pregnancy discrimination.” (since that would be illegal.)

      Also, good luck on both accounts!

  65. Sarah*

    I currently run a small non-profit with no room for advancement. I’ve been job hunting casually for about a year. One area I’d be interested is moving to a Corporate Social Responsibility position, but I’m not even sure where to look or how to frame the work I’ve done, since I’m fairly certain I use non-profit lingo, not corporate lingo.

    Has anyone done this kind of transition? Thoughts on making the move?

  66. Strega Nony*

    I work in a small office, part of a national company. We all get along, but the ~vibe~ has been off for a while and it mostly boils down to bad management. Yesterday the workhorse of the office gave notice and we’re all spinning. Things are Not Good and we’re genuinely wondering how this is going to unfold. I’m not worried exactly, but very very curious to see if the big boss has it in him to right the ship. He’s done an awful job of it so far and clearly thought he had more time before this person left… and likely others will follow. Time will tell!

  67. squidarms*

    Today I’d like to describe my worst experience ever with HR.

    At my current, toxic job that I’m trying to escape, we used to have great health insurance. It was honestly the one thing that kept me from up and quitting, because I was getting all my medical expenses paid for and that’s a lot of money when you make $35k/yr. Late in 2018, HR asked us to review the list of in-network providers for a proposed new health care plan and tell them if we had any providers that weren’t covered. You couldn’t just say yes or no, though; in order for your “disruption report” to be considered valid, you had to give them the entire name of the provider who wasn’t covered. Because my OCD therapist wasn’t covered, this forced me to out myself as having OCD. It didn’t hit me how invasive and inappropriate this was until recently because toxic workplaces like to gaslight people into thinking everything is fine and they’re fortunate just to work there.

    In the end, nearly everybody had at least one or two providers who weren’t covered. HR apparently ignored this and the plans were switched anyway. Needless to say, people were pissed, especially since the “employer contribution” to the health plan had been nearly halved while our costs remained almost the same. What really added insult to injury is that they presented it as an “upgrade,” talking up the fact that the new plan had no in-network deductible. “We’re so excited to offer our employees this new and improved health plan! This will save both our employees and the company so much money!”

    Well, again, needless to say, HR was bombarded with emails informing them that no, they would not be saving money on the new plan due to the fact that previously-covered providers were now out of network. In response, we were all called to a mandatory company-wide meeting in which several HR reps, backed up by the CEO, told us that this was an excellent health plan and if we would only “do our due diligence” and find new in-network providers to replace the old ones, we would be saving thousands of dollars a year over the old plan. The CEO explained that “raises are too hard to explain to the shareholders,” so he had rewarded us with this great new health plan and we needed to “look at the big picture” and be more grateful for his generosity. The HR reps repeatedly claimed that “[X company]’s network is so good that you never, ever have a valid reason to go outside of it.” The general tone of the meeting was this: “we were only trying to save you money by selecting this new health plan, and if you ungrateful cretins weren’t so stubborn and stupid as to keep seeing out-of-network providers when there are ALWAYS better providers in [X company]’s network, that’s your problem, not ours.”

    After the meeting, one of the HR reps who had just been ‘splaining to me that I didn’t actually need to see a specific OCD therapist because providers are interchangeable Lego bricks and having a rapport with a therapist isn’t important approached me, all smiles, and began effusively complimenting my outfit. I’m not particularly proud of this, but I just kind of… stared at her and walked away. I had no social script for when someone who has just spent 45 minutes demeaning and insulting you tries to put all that aside and be your best friend. It honestly felt like my childhood bully throwing backhanded “compliments” at me to convince me and the teacher that they weren’t bullying me. I didn’t even think of saying “thank you” until I was halfway down the hall because I was just that stunned.

    I still can’t understand why they chose to approach it this way rather than telling what I assume was the truth: rates had increased and they could no longer afford the old health plan. People still would have been upset, but I would have respected it a lot more than them repeatedly lying and then throwing a tantrum when we didn’t believe the lies.

    1. Ellie Mayhem*

      Unfortunately this is the reality when health insurance is tied to employment. I actually have a lot of empathy for HR in these situations because there is no way to make everyone happy. Your CEO was correct that shareholders don’t like raises; a publicly-traded company has a responsibility to maximize shareholder value. Healthcare costs in the US are constantly on the rise and it’s a huge struggle to provide the most comprehensive coverage to all employees. You indicated that your costs remained almost the same – that’s pretty amazing in 2018. It’s unfortunate that you had a provider who was dropped off your network, but again it’s a balancing act for HR…do they drop your therapist, or someone’s high-risk OB or Oncologist?

      It’s the healthcare delivery system that’s broken.

      1. squidarms*

        I’m not sure how you read this post and thought that my sole problem was that I didn’t get to keep one provider.

        1. Ellie Mayhem*

          I don’t think that was your sole problem, but having worked in benefits analysis I believe that many of the issues you described are beyond the control of your organization’s HR department.

          1. squidarms*

            I understand that HR couldn’t afford the old plan anymore and that the CEO probably wasn’t able to give us raises even if he had wanted to. I’m not stupid, thank you. My original post states:

            I still can’t understand why they chose to approach it this way rather than telling what I assume was the truth: rates had increased and they could no longer afford the old health plan. People still would have been upset, but I would have respected it a lot more than them repeatedly lying and then throwing a tantrum when we didn’t believe the lies.

            I understand that, per my first comment, rates went up, they could no longer afford the old plan, and this was the best they could do. That doesn’t make it okay to lie to me that they intended it as an “upgrade” when the decision was obviously made for financial reasons. Just tell the truth. It’s also almost never acceptable to tell people you don’t know that if a provider is out of the insurance network, you don’t “need” to see that provider. Just acknowledge that it was unfortunate that most people lost coverage, but again, this was the best you could do.

            I understand that shareholders don’t like raises. That doesn’t make it okay to tell people “Shareholders don’t like raises, so I gave you this new health plan that’s just as good as a raise. If you don’t think so, look at the big picture” when the employees are almost uniformly telling you that that’s not the case. Almost nobody is saving money on this new health plan, and it is very, very hard for me to believe that anybody thought at any point that people would like the new health plan enough that it would make up for the lack of a raise. They knew that most employees would have to switch at least one provider in order for the lack of an in-network deductible to actually save them money. Switching providers, for a lot of people, is not a minor inconvenience. It’s often really difficult to leave a provider who understands your health really well and with whom you have a good rapport for somebody you don’t know who only has the records submitted by your last doctor to go on.

            HR and the CEO probably had no control over whether or not the health plan changed or whether we got raises, that’s true. However, to the best of my knowledge, there is no reason that these people should not be able to control their own behavior and avoid blatantly lying and condescending to employees. If you continue to assume that I just don’t get how insurance works and that’s why I’m angry, I really don’t know what else to tell you.

    2. someone or other*

      I think this might be a good time to say something like “But it’s not that easy to switch gynecologists!”

    3. Chaordic One*

      It is so completely understandable to question how they chose to approach it instead of telling the truth. Trying to gaslight the the employees and spin the change as a positive, when it obviously was not. In a somewhat similar situation at a toxic workplace I must have been too something in my complaints because I ended up being fired and told that I was “resistant to change.” I wasn’t resistant to change, but I would have liked to have experienced some change where it was actually a positive for me.

    4. squidarms*

      This was a great first commenting experience. I’ll be sure to comment again in the future so that people can half-read my posts, then tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I need to have more sympathy for people who treat me like crap.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        Sorry you have had this experience here. Your company really bungled this and you are right to be hurt and pissed off. I think what I hate most about our US health care system is how powerless I feel, like suddenly someone somewhere could take away my access to medicine or treatment I dearly need. Or decide that the new employee cost is 25% of my pre tax salary! (True story)

        I hope you don’t write off this comments community overall. There often are comments that are unhelpful or just zero in on a particular part because someone sees a part they relate to. Sometimes it’s less about responding to a comment or letter and more about talking about one’s own experiences. You see this in threads about names a lot where you’ll get hundreds of comments that are just like “well this is my name and this is my nickname.” Sorry you felt dismissed.

  68. Been There*

    Have any of you experienced a situation where your current or prospective employer did not value your education at all? If so, what verbiage did you use to justify the investment in yourself?

    My former employer (Covid layoff) made it very clear that they didn’t care that I had a graduate degree in the field when they hired me which I found quite insulting. But something I’ve experienced before in the area I live (where virtually all grad students leave the area). Since the layoff, one of the owners has recommended me for jobs and one of them was for a very entry-level role where the only experience needed was an internship (I have over 10 years in the field)

    At this point, I’ve decided for my mental health to distance myself from this person and just communicate with them regarding employment verification because it just stings to have something I spent so much time and money on be so discredited (my degrees are from state schools that’ve been around for over 150 years). I’m willing to concede that I bought into the age old university advertising message that employers will come-a-callin’ when you get a graduate degree (plus my Mom had a graduate degree while working for the federal government and told me throughout childhood that education is very important because she wouldn’t have the job she had without her Master’s)

    Anyone been in this situation before? What did you say?

    1. ctiugh*

      I’ve been on the other side so maybe I can give you some perspective from there?

      I had a direct report at one point that got his masters (in our field) and expected that it would automatically lead to more opportunities/ advancement. The role he was in and the ones that were available in our department were not ones that would need or would even really be helped with an advanced degree. I had this conversation with him and could tell that he was frustrated. But I wasn’t asking him to justify the degree.

      So I guess have they asked you to do that? Because there are a lot of reasons that someone might get an advanced degree that don’t have to do with the role they are currently in. It could be interest in the subject, or a hope to leverage it in a future role.

      If they have just made it clear that your degree is not relevant to the open positions they have, I think that is fine and you can either take or leave what they are offering. If they are being insulting about you having the degree then I don’t really think there is anything you can say that is going to make them not be that way, because its an odd thing for them to do. If that’s the case and you don’t want the roll I would just say thank you for thinking of me, but the role isn’t a great fit or something.

      1. TypeFun*

        Huh, in my field (biomedical science PhD) we spend 100% of our time in lab and no time teaching. It’s still not industry experience obvs but it is full time lab experience.

    2. TCO*

      If your former employer recommended you for a job that was far below your experience level, that doesn’t speak directly to your graduate degree because it sounds like the role would still have been a drastic mismatch based on your experience alone. That sounds like someone who was mindlessly passing along any job in the industry without taking the time to read the posting and think critically about whether or not you might be interested in the role.

      I think you’re taking this too personally and assuming that because you were hurt, they must have hurt you intentionally. You said yourself that your view of the power/importance of a Master’s degree might be skewed. It sounds like this is a sore spot that might be causing you to interpret non-malicious actions through a skewed lens.

    3. Lora*

      Well, they are a former employer, so does it really matter now?

      I do run across this a LOT in my field, where someone with a PhD is personally insulted that the degree they put a lot of work into isn’t as useful to the job or field as someone with a MS but 15 years of experience and a strong track record. But they are fundamentally different: most of the STEM PhD programs in the US are spent 50% teaching undergrads, 20% doing lab scut work, 30% studying one particular teensy tiny detail just enough to get the Least Publishable Unit, often using tools and chemistry that my field considers downright antiquated compared to what is available in industry, often very alone all by themselves. The MS has been spending all day every day in the lab using modern tools to do work that is reliable and repeatable, has relationships within in the industry that help them get things accomplished, has a better sense of the big picture / what is needed for success and they are already skilled in Industry Jobs 101.

      It’s true that some people just will not care or understand, but it sounds like an advanced degree wasn’t necessarily doing anything for the job. Where I grew up, a PhD held by a *man* was a sign of his genius and worthy of respect but a woman with a PhD was some sort of unnatural freak who would never find a husband :D and the assumption was automatically that she must have a PhD in Education or Nursing or something suitably girly and would be a part-time instructor at the local teachers’ college. I don’t have to say anything to such people anymore, but my general advice is that unless your actual job is being a therapist, you can decide that it’s not your job in life to change other people’s opinions on the subject.

      It’s a bit like caring about other people’s kids – kids are certainly important to their parents, but to other people….meh, shrug. They are definitely a lot of money and work but nobody will ever care more than you will.

      1. Alex*

        Agree with this–in jobs where a graduate degree isn’t required for the position, it is going to be normal for no one to care about your degree (and you usually won’t get any extra pay/responsibilities/boost just from having one). I have a graduate degree, as do some of my colleagues, but there is definitely no difference between how we are treated or paid or promoted vs. those who don’t have one. It is not taken into consideration at all, and I think that is pretty normal for most fields.

        Now, if someone is being a JERK to you about it (like mocking you for having one or something) then, well, they are just being a jerk, and if you didn’t have one, they’d find something else to be jerky about, so you can just write them off as a jerk.

      2. TypeFun*

        Huh, in my field (biomedical science PhD) we spend 100% of our time in lab and no time teaching. It’s still not industry experience obvs but it is full time lab experience.

    4. BRR*

      It’s going to depend on your industry, but in a lot of fields once you have ten years experience your education doesn’t matter that much at all. It’s more of a box to check and your work accomplishments are what matters.

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

      When I was about to sign the contract with an exemployer an HR employee refused to take my college transcript saying “we don’t consider that a valid document”. They asked for proof of education, and I provided it. On retrospective, it was a red flag of the dysfunction that reigned there.

      1. Jane*

        This reminds me of the time when I was trying to use an alum discount at my university about a month after I graduated. My university issued “alumni cards” but I hadn’t received mine yet. For unrelated reasons, I happened to have my literal diploma with me.

        They wouldn’t accept the diploma as proof that I graduated from there. They demanded my “alumni card” which was this little flimsy piece of paper with no picture or anything.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I would have been the university employee who gave you the discount and who then would then have been disciplined for giving it to you because you didn’t have proper identification (your alumni card). I hope you didn’t spend any money until after you got that card.

  69. Katie M*

    I have been officially working in my field for 7 years (10 if you count volunteer work) Last year I decided to go to graduate school so that I can move up in my field (or move on from my job to a better paying one). I am working full time in the field (social work) while going to school. Part of the graduate degree is doing two internships.
    I am having a lot of issues with my internship boss and am not sure how to address them with him. His opening to me was that I would not like the work (it is very similar to the job I have been at and have loved for seven years). He told me that he does not mix well with people who need micromanaging (I don’t like micromanaging…) He is younger than me, and has significantly less experience than me. During our required supervision he is often very patronizing to me. I always feel disrepected. He will explain to me simple things, tell me it must be a challenge that I have learned things wrong and must relearn a new way (even when I am agreeing with him on how to handle situations). I often feel like he mishears what I am saying or is setting verbal traps to get me to say things I don’t mean. He is sarcastic, but if I act that way back he becomes very offended.

    It is hard because many of his actions display that he means well– but we are not on the same page.

    I have thought about how I should just ride this out get my degree and move on– but I am in school, and essentially working for free at this internship in order to learn how to be better at my job!

    How do I address his behavior toward me in a professional manner?

    1. Reba*

      Honestly, how much longer is this internship? If it’s over in December, probably do nothing. If it’s till May, you can think about if you want to try having a conversation about resetting how you communicate–this could be in the context of a midpoint review. But honestly, it doesn’t sound like this person would be receptive to your feedback and it could damage his view of your further. He sounds like an insecure asshat and it may not be worth trying to change his style.

      I get the frustration of feeling like you are paying just to be talked down to by this person!

      Is there an internship coordinator or advisor type person at your school that you could speak with about this? Maybe ask to be moved to a different placement for next term?

      1. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

        I second seeing who your field placement liaison with the school is. I have supervised graduate level SW interns for several years and I always have an assigned liaison who is available to help both myself as the internship supervisor AND the student should there be any issues.

        That guy sounds super frustrating! I’m wondering if he have ever supervised before because he has zero clue what he’s doing. Document some things he says and your responses so you have some examples for your liaison. If it’s like our internships, I had to complete evaluations on my students so I would definitely address this sooner rather than later so his warped view of you doesn’t go into an Eval. Good luck!

  70. Hotdog not dog*

    I’m starting a new job on Monday after having been laid off last January. I’m glad to be getting back in the workforce, but the new job is several steps backwards (almost but not quite entry level). How can I keep myself engaged and focused? I’m hoping to be able to move up at some point, but this role is one I am overqualified for, and I’m worried about overstepping my bounds. One of my new colleagues is someone who used to report to me in a past job. It’s a small industry, so plenty of people will know I’ve moved backwards. I’m hoping to handle it with as much grace and humility as I can muster!

    1. Jennifer*

      You’ll be great! Congratulations on the new job. I think most people understand that this is a strange, unprecedented time and people are doing what they have to do.

    2. NewToReview*

      I’m in a similar position (underpaid and with tasks that I’ve done before) So, it’s been hard for me to stay engaged and focused. But after reading a lot of what Allison says, I’m trying to focus on the fact that this is my source of income (and my second goal is to fix a job hopping streak), so I’d suggest you find something else to focus on if it gets too hard.
      On the other hand, I’d wait and see how things go, while the position might seem lower than you would have liked, maybe your manager and team will take advantage of your experience and you’ll find it fulfilling.
      Good luck!

  71. ctiugh*

    I’m having a hard time right now with one of my direct reports. He’s in a pretty entry level position and his communication style is fine for that role (not really any contact with anyone outside our dept, and we tend to be fairly causal.) He would like to advance and I am trying to get him involved in some stretch assignments which have more interaction outside our group. I’ve talked with him a few times about the need to be more formal in his communication especially when he is reaching out to leadership outside our department, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. He continues with the same communication style. (Ex. no opening to the email, misspelling names, very blunt phrasing that tends to upset people). I’ve told him that while his technical work is good, this will hold him back from advancement. He told me that he disagrees and has no plan to adjust his communication. At this point I have told him and will be pulling him back from the stretch assignments he is on. He set up a meeting for Monday with me and my boss to discuss his career development. Am I off base on how I responded to this? I’ve had my boss in the loop a bit (but not every detail) and now I’m worried about how Monday’s meeting will go.

    1. TCO*

      I think you’re being very fair. You’re responding to two shortcomings: his skills and his attitude. His unwillingness to take your direction and strive for improvement makes it very fair for you to decide that you’re not going to reward him with stretch assignments.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, and I’d tell him exactly that. “I’ve told you exactly what I need you to do in order to be put on these stretch assignments. You’ve told me you have no plans to do so. This is the result.”

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Your report went over your head to schedule a meeting with your boss about a decision you made? That strikes me as insubordination. I think you should treat it accordingly.

      As far as the meeting with your boss goes, just show your documentation, explain your thinking, and let them swing the hammer. I’d imagine (s)he is not very happy about pulled into the minutiae, and the fact that your report did the pulling weighs in your favor and reinforces your conclusion that he’s just ready to stretch effectively yet.

      There’s more to a job than technical skills.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        OP, I hope your boss either declines the meeting or attends for exactly long enough to tell this person, “I’m up to date on your situation. I fully support OP’s reasoning, so the two of you can continue this meeting without me.”

    3. Weekend Please*

      Depending on how much you have told your boss, you may want to send him an email giving a little more detail. For example, make sure that he knows you pulled him from the stretch assignments and you are concerned about his growth potential since he refuses to change his communication style and has a bad attitude. That way you are on the same page going into the meeting. I’ve been in a similar situation (different problem but they set up a meeting with Big Boss to try to go around me). I had a meeting with her before hand and basically confirmed that she had my back.

    4. someone or other*

      I’d talk to the boss before the meeting and explain what’s going on in more detail if they have time.

  72. Been There*

    While I’m somewhat early on in the comments section:

    FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Any tips and tricks to I’m trying to get in with the federal government (which seems to be the holy grail of employment stability (I’m a covid layoff victim). I have drawn out resumes and have created multiple versions of them (including cover letters). I watched the videos on the site and think I’m following the advice given. But nothing yet.

    I know it’s different from regular applicant tracking systems, but I’m having a hard time cracking this nut.

    Any info you can provide would be so appreciated!!!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Following! I am in the same boat.
      There is a “Federal Resume Guidebook” that some people swear by, but I have no idea if those sorts of guides actually help.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      I will pass along the same advice I received from a friend who’s been with *large governmental agency* for 20 years: Your application packet should be like Doctor Bronner’s: ALL ONE! ALL ONE!
      (translation: make one big pdf rather than attaching multiples)

      1. Persephone*

        YMMV but I received several federal interviews while submitting all my docs separately, so I’m not sure that makes much of a difference.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Create a new resume for each job you are applying for, that is tailored to that job. Copy the language exactly from the announcement: if it says must have experience in llama grooming, say “I have experience in llama grooming as demonstrated by my degree in llama care and three years experience in llama grooming.” First review is done by personnel system experts who may not know much about the actual job you are applying for, so make their job easier for them.

      Finally, understand that Veterans’ Preference is a real thing. If you are a veteran, be sure to include any requested veteran paperwork, e.g., your DD-214. If you are not a veteran, understand that this makes your search more challenging, especially at the entry level. I recently filled an entry level position where the only candidates on my certificate of eligibles were disabled veterans – so a subset of veterans. (This is not always the case – another job I filled didn’t have any veterans on the cert. I could see no rhyme or reason to the disparity – obviously one of the jobs didn’t appeal to veterans!)

    4. Just a PM*

      If you have to answer a questionnaire as part of your application, say that you are an expert for EVERYTHING. Do not be honest and truthful. You are an expert for everything and you have expert expertise on everything, even if you don’t.

      Like Policy Wonk says, use the phrasing in the job announcement in your resume but it also counts how many times it repeats in your resume. (Like AP vocab during the essay part of AP exams, if you took AP classes in school.) If the job announcement says “teapot maintenance ™,” then any time you mention teapot maintenance in your resume, you need to write “teapot maintenance ™.” (A website called Jobscan really helped me out with this part since I’m terrible at identifying keywords. Check it out if you need help with that part too.)

      Government resumes don’t follow the normal convention for resumes in other industries. Resumes for government jobs can be really long because everyone gets really detailed in describing their accomplishments and their job duties. (Mine is 7 pages, which is about average for a govt position.) Also for your resume, include your citizenship status and if you qualify for any special hiring authorities, like Schedule A (which is a hiring authority for people with disabilities that is similar to the Veterans Preference that Policy Wonk mentioned), Veterans Preference (and what your point status is) Peace Corps, etc.

  73. sickofthis*

    How do people deal with fuzzy hierarchy systems at work? My team are all contractors, and there seems to be some difference in what our company thinks is our hierarchy vs the boss at the company we work with thinks. My boss refers to both me and my supervisor (according to the contracting company) as team leads and holds us both equally responsible for getting things done and their quality. However, my “supervisor” is upset about not being treated above me and is freezing me out of meetings and emails that I need to know in order to be able to complete things. She is also terrible at reviewing things for grammar which my boss finds very important so when only she reviews things errors always come up later. Any advice on how to not get yelled at for things that I am not shown or make her show me things?

  74. merope*

    I’m looking for suggestions to help my home Zoom setup. I am having a problem with glare, which is getting worse as the seasons are changing: lately I look more like a radioactive ghost than a person on camera.

    Details: I am using the camera in my Mac desktop, and I am sitting in front of a window to take advantage of natural light. The glare is not related to oily skin; yesterday I wore a white sweater and it also was glowing as though under an ultraviolet light. Do I need a separate webcam? A window sheer? Something else?

    1. ctiugh*

      Is the window behind you? If so if its possible I would change directions so you are facing with window and the camera is between you and the window. Should cut down a glare quite a bit.

      1. merope*

        I am facing the window, with the camera between the window and me. If the sun is shining directly in, I do have to close the curtains, because the reflected light obscures my face completely. But I still get glare from my desk lamps as well (one on each side of me). Thanks for the suggestion, though!

        1. Just a PM*

          Could you move the lamps further away from you or put more distance between your camera and the light from the window? My lamps used to be right next to me and I looked like Voldemort (the glare would hide my nose from the camera for some reason). I moved them to be further away from me and that did the trick.

        2. pancakes*

          Diffusing the light from the desk lamps with white parchment paper (the type bakers use) & binder clips might help, depending on the lamps.

    2. Reba*

      A window sheer is a great idea to diffuse the light.

      Also make sure the camera lens is clean!

      I recently got a separate webcam and it definitely looks better to me, although I don’t know if it makes a difference once the feed is passed through the internet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For window diffusion, remember that it wont’ show on camera so it doesn’t have to be pretty — just functional.
        It doesn’t have to be permanent either — it could be your end of work routine to take down the window covering.
        And in that case… a light weight bedsheet hung between two cup hooks or draped over the curtain rod might be all you need.

  75. Turtle Sundae*

    Does any one has a good rule of thumb about when to start “down grading” your job search for positions that you are over qualified for? I have been out for a month now, and have worked in the accounting field for 12 years ( Started as an accounting clerk, and when from accounting assistant to Accountant, also work to get my bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2018). I have been applying for Senior Accountant/ Accountant type positions for over 4 months ( I was working a temporary position until the role ended in September), and I have gotten a few interviews here or there, but nothing comes of them. I get responses from companies that I’m good, but I’m missing something ( Either no payroll/ERP/manufacturing experiences is what employers are looking for.) I see Accounting Clerk/Assistant positions out there, but the pay is low and the work is not what I want to do ( more clerical then analytical in nature.)

    I just worry that if I don’t get something within the next 2 months or so, I will not have the motivation to find work for the winter. I know I am not as bad off as other people ( I do get some unemployment, plus I have 6 + months emergency funds.) but I just have this “itch” to go back to work. Every day I feel my drive to work leave me, but I keep holding on hope for a position that pays decently and is somewhat challenging. When would the right time to just bite the bullet and just apply/interview/accept a position that isn’t what I’m interested in doing long-term?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      For me, the catalyst was feeling that if I didn’t get back to work soon, either my spouse or I was in danger of becoming a chalk outline on the floor – the only question was who would be the victim and who would be the perp! (this was after several months of unemployment, but before my severance pay ran out.) I ended up taking a “downgraded” role which I hope is the first step in climbing the corporate ladder again, but am still keeping an eye on the job market for something a little more challenging. Good luck to you!

      1. Turtle Sundae*

        I see your point, Hotdog not Dog. I live alone so I won’t run into that. I don’t really have too big of work goals,( being more of a knowledge expert in accounting, not a director or manager in it. ) I would be fine going into an accounting assistant position again, but all that I have apply for have only accounting assistant positions then jumps to Controller/Director. No intermediate steps.

        I’m just afraid winter will roll along and dry up any ambition for me to want to try to work.

  76. Magical Unicorn of Change*

    Oh I meant to post this sooner… but still, gonna try…

    Has anyone ever felt like they are just done with the corporate work and made the switch to working for a small business or even starting their own business? I have been in the corporate world for about 20 years now and as I think of the next 20 work years (or less I hope) I don’t think I can stomach just changing jobs and all the lingo, meetings, office politics and general stress with so little reward… feels bit like changing seats on the Titanic… as much as the benefits in corporate are great I hate being tied in that way, afraid to lose benefits but working in a place/role that I’m miserable in.

    I’m not sure what direction to go in or how I would work through that (career counselor maybe?) but was wondering, anyone else been in this place? I feel like this is more than just needing a new role in a new company. Would appreciate anyone’s thoughts or experience, I feel very all over the place about this.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Lora*

      Yes. First recommendation I have is, look up SCORE in your area and talk to them. Even the local unemployment office may have some seminars or something about starting your own business. There are a lot of resources for starting your own business, often offered by state governments, local universities etc. and many are free or extremely low cost (think $20 for a seminar).

      The biggest thing going from Corporate Job to running your own business is, you will be doing all the things, including the things you hate. And you still have to be at least competent at them. You know what I hate? Sales. I hate it when sales people call me to talk, so I extra-hate having to be the sales person calling to talk. I’m fabulous at the technical part of doing my job, I am terrible at sales and marketing. When running your own business, you will be doing things you hate. A lot. You will be responsible for knowing how to do them with a reasonable degree of competence or hiring it done.

      Another thing was, people will owe you money. Always. It has very little to do with them not having the money or negotiating 60 days net instead of 30 days, they will just owe you money and be like, “go ahead and take me to court if you think it will help.” Huge B2B type arrangements, small service-type businesses, everyone is running some sort of deficit because of unpaid accounts. You have to include in your business plan how you are going to float these type of things, because if you really need every penny on time you’re not going to make it.

  77. FUMING*

    I am fuming and need advice on how to handle this.
    I have been in negotiations with an industry consortium for a project, where I was given a seat on the project board. The coordinating company sent out the final agreement in pdf and a link to docu sign. We signed.

    I just realised today that the document in docu sign isn’t the same as the attached pdf. In the document we signed through docu sign, I don’t have a board seat. I called the project lead (who also happens to be VP of Legal of the coordinating company) and pointed out the mistake.

    She confessed it wasn’t a mistake, but had been a vote behind my back to replace me and my company (a non-profit) with one of the larger for profits. She hadn’t told me because “she felt a bit uncomfortable and she is only human”. Somehow they had figured that just removing my company’s name from the board and let us sign that document, was the best solution.

    I am absolutely disgusted! She lied to my face and all the other board members too.

    How do I handle this?
    Do I go to her boss and ask if this is how they normally conduct business?
    Do I email everyone on the consortium and expose her?
    Do I tell the governmental agency that co-funds this project?

    I can’t exit the project, unfortunately. And honestly, I dont care much about the board seat. If they had told me I would be happy to give it to the lady who replace me, who is doing a good job. It’s the lying, they way they handled it and the feeling of not being to trust a single one of them that gets to me.

    Please help. What should I do?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      The attorney who did that should be reported to the state bar — knowingly having someone sign a contract that you KNOW does not reflect the agreed upon terms is beyond unethical.

    2. CatCat*

      Can you reply to everyone on the email, “Hey the PDF on the attachment is not the same one at the docusign link. The one at the link removed me from the board. Why is that? Why did we not have a discussion about that?”

      Let her explain herself to the group.

      1. FUMING*

        I can reply to the 8 companies on the board (who made the decision) or all of the 30 who are involved in the project.
        The former is more professional, the latter will sting more.

        The project just started and will go on for 5 years. Not a great start.

        Do I loop in her boss?

        1. CatCat*

          I think everyone who was sent the email should be looped in because it’s relevant that what they were told was happening was not what was really happening. They may want to check the alternate version themselves to see if they were also impacted.

          It’s a terrible start to the project. The person that performed this subterfuge will undoubtedly be squirming (as she should be!). But total transparency on what happened here is a reasonable thing to ask for.

          I imagine there will be some BS reply from the perpetrator. But the calling out will also indicate that you’re not going to be railroaded in the future.

          1. cmcinnyc*

            Late but def agree: if this happened at my company I think I’d be *expected* to loop in everyone and throw our Legal team on the cc line. This isn’t a matter of “it was awkward, I was uncomfortable, don’t be mad, I’m human.” This is real shit. If I let this go, *I’d* be the one in trouble! If I did this, I’d expect to lose my job over it. The crap start to the project, truly, is on them.

          2. Chaordic One*

            I agree with CatCat. At the very least it will them know that you are both aware of, and unhappy with what happened and that you’re not a door mat. There are probably some people involved who are not aware of what happened to you and you tipping them off will be good. You will gain a few brownie points if you can explain what happened in a calm, non-accusatory, matter-of-fact way.

          3. Just a PM*

            Definitely also make sure the govt agency sponsoring the project is aware too. Especially since there is government funding involved, which is an entire hornets’ nest of complications, regulations, and reporting. If you’re in the U.S., go to the agency’s Inspector General. The IG will pay attention to your concern because it involves government funds and the potential for misuse.

            There should already be some kind of agreement or grant between the companies and the government about how the money will be spent, the project will be organized, membership, outcomes, etc. It’s entirely possible that this backhanded move could violate that agreement and that’s something the government–whether the agency itself or their IG–will want to know so they can take proper steps to resolve and course-correct. If it turns out the govt agency was aware of this and still cosigned the move, the IG might investigate the govt team too.

  78. TCO*

    If your former employer recommended you for a job that was far below your experience level, that doesn’t speak directly to your graduate degree because it sounds like the role would still have been a drastic mismatch based on your experience alone. That sounds like someone who was mindlessly passing along any job in the industry without taking the time to read the posting and think critically about whether or not you might be interested in the role.

    I think you’re taking this too personally and assuming that because you were hurt, they must have hurt you intentionally. You said yourself that your view of the power/importance of a Master’s degree might be skewed. It sounds like this is a sore spot that might be causing you to interpret non-malicious actions through a skewed lens.

  79. Pandemic Panic*

    Anyone else dealing with rigid contracts that have not let up at ALL during COVID? Meeting our pre-pandemic deliverables is literally impossible working remotely, and the amount of paperwork has doubled. All of our processes take longer. Not to mention everyone is dealing with the PTSD of the state of the world. Our area was hit very hard by COVID and it seems the senior leadership response is to push everyone twice as hard, even though we’re 6 months in to the “new normal” and no end in sight.

    I’m a manager struggling with my own morale, let alone that of my team and our clients. Everything feels so pointless. I hope some of you can relate, even if you have no advice.

  80. StressedCat*

    How much work stress is normal? Due to a kinda complex family situation I don’t really have any adult role models. I’m in my 30s and have made my own way in my career. I’m in a decent career path (10 years out of uni), but in a VERY high COL area. While I bring in about $60k a year it barely covers my expenses in this area. Its very competitive in my city so quite difficult to move up in seniority without decades of experience or higher education. I have also continually found myself in jobs that have me reporting directly to the director, so even when I was at $40k my level of responsibilities and need to be highly professionally and able to deal with work place politics was far above the expectations of others at my level that reported to managers three levels down from the director.

    I’m consistently at a 8-12 level of stress in my job. I think it’s also tied to the high COL and my on going stress about it finances. I’ve worked in three organizations in similar roles, in the same industry and the lowest my job stress ever dropped was maybe a 6. However, I’m trying to figure out if this stress level is normal? If I changed career paths, would I just encounter this in a new job? I can’t move any time in the near future, I’ve put a lot of effort into building my “chosen” family in this society and can’t imagine starting over.

    1. StressedCat*

      Autocorrect fail. * society should have been city. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into building a family and community in this city so moving to a lower COL area isn’t really an option at this time.

    2. ctiugh*

      I would say that seems like a high level of stress. Assuming you are working on a 10 point scale I would say that most of my jobs have been sub 5 most days and then have their stressful periods where they are at a 8-10. I think things like this vary a lot from industry to industry and the person in the role. I work with someone who is always stressed about work, which I would say is an outlier for our industry. I think I would look at a few things:
      -How stressed are other people you work with (is this a you think, or an everyone thing).
      -Do you feel like you are underprepared for the role (could a lower level role in the same industry be a better fit, although that would probably be a money issue).
      -Can you find other people doing somewhat analogous work in other fields and see what they think?

      1. StressedCat*

        Yes, I’m operating in a scale of 1-10. It does seem like most others in my unit that report to my same director are dealing with equal levels of stress to me, with the exception that that are at least 2 if not 4 pay bands higher so somewhat less stressed about finances, although some have confided they live paycheque to paycheque (seems like they are house poor, while I can’t qualify for a mortgage even for a one bed condo here, because my rent is low due to mainly luck, I’m not paycheque to paycheque so perhaps better off financially then some of those that earn more than me).

        I’m curious to hear from those that have stress levels at 5 or lower. What is your job? What industry are you in?

    3. MommaCat*

      So, I actually left a job after a few years of my stress levels being at a near-constant 8-10 (small place, wore many hats, and was a project and person manager), and the job before that had me swinging between 5 and 10 every month (small place, many hats, and was a project manager). I managed to find a job in my field where my stress was generally at a 2-5, only swinging up to an 8-10 a couple times a year. I had to take a bit of a pay and title cut to get the lower stress, but I also got fewer hours as a trade, which has been huge for my mental health. I also moved to a bigger institution, which has its share of annoyances, but it also meant I didn’t have to wear as many hats, and could concentrate on my favorite parts of the job. I hope some of this can help you find a lower stress job: more specializing in my favorite parts, and not being the main person in charge of the big projects my field is known for.

  81. Bobina*

    If you’ve ever worked in a slow, process driven, extremely bureaucratic company – how did you manage to get meaningful accomplishments for your resume when things take forever to happen?

    I switched jobs this year in a move that turned out to be not ideal. The role was advertised as very autonomous and focused on delivering projects. In reality its very hard to get anything done as you need excessive amounts of approvals, inputs from various people who are overworked and always have more important fires to put out etc etc. Its hard to get anything actually done, and the company culture is…interesting.

    I’m planning to start looking seriously again in about a year, but am already thinking about the fact that it is very likely I will have minimal accomplishments from this job. For various reasons, it wouldnt make sense to leave it off future resumes, so I’m trying to plan ahead. Do you just focus on highlighting the 1-2 things you managed to do? Pad out it out bland descriptions of responsibilities?

    1. TCO*

      Oh, I’ve had some jobs like that. In my area of work, being able to work with challenging groups/stakeholders/processes is a plus, so I used my experience at my can’t-get-anything-done roles to highlight how I can work with a wide range of personalities to build consensus, facilitated meetings in a way that got decisions made, stayed adaptable when strategies shifted, etc.

      I think that your plan to add 1-2 accomplishments plus responsibilities is fine. If you write a good resume and great cover letter, your application can still stand out even if your resume isn’t AAM-perfect.

      1. Bobina*

        Oooh thanks. Yeah, I’m quite a results driven person so not being able to point to tangible achievements is hard for me. I have however already gotten good feedback about meeting facilitation (ie trying to at least move projects forward rather than having them endlessly bounce back and forth between groups), so will try and focus more on those as well.

  82. [insert witty username here]*

    This is a bit more career-path related than job-specific related but I’m hoping I can find some advice. I went to school for education and by senior year, realized I didn’t actually want to teach! But I knew I needed to just finish. 13 years later, I’ve been working in project control/project accounting and I’ve been doing quite well. However, I feel like I could still benefit from a bit more formal education. I’m not sure I want to quite commit to getting a full MBA but I wanted to see if anyone had any advice on a different path that would still give me something more “official.” I do have my bachelor’s degree…. but in education so it just doesn’t really fit. Is there a way I can go back to get a dual-degree in something business related without having to do a full bachelor’s program all over? I just don’t really know what the options are.

    1. Lyudie*

      I am not in a business field but maybe a graduate certificate would be an option? They are less intensive than a full master’s program but might contain a lot of the same classes/experiences (at least this is the case for my grad program and the related certificate, you could in theory get the certificate then get into the full master’s program and take the last few classes). I don’t know how those are viewed, not as prestigious as a full master’s I imagine but I would see it as fairly impressive. FWIW I think some universities don’t let you do a second bachelor’s, you would probably need to go for a graduate-level program or coursework. You should be able to take courses as a non-degree student, either to see if you want to enter a program or on their own to get a little more experience and knowledge. I started as non-degree and got into my program last year.

    2. a username*

      You can apply at most universities for an additional bachelors degree if you don’t want to commit to a full graduate degree. Usually these take into account all the core curriculum from your previous degree so that you only have to take the subject matter you’re interested, since you’ve already fulfilled all the basics of a bachelors. This means you can knock it out in 2 years or so.

      I know this because I’m currently in one! Happy to answer any questions specifically you might have.

      1. [insert witty username here]*


        Are you going to the same university you went to for your “first” degree? And how long between getting your bachelor’s and going back?

  83. MaryAnne Spier*

    Here I am at my new job! Starting while the school year is already underway is always a little awkward, so it’s only fitting to add a pandemic. My last district was 100% remote and this is hybrid so I’m going to be coming in every day. I’m excited and so far I haven’t done anything stupid but give it time…

  84. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

    Does anyone have advice regarding searching for jobs abroad?

    I’m currently in the midwest US, and my significant other is in the UK – realistically, I know that getting married and moving to the UK on a spousal visa is probably the “least difficult” option, but that may take a couple extra years as he finishes his education/training and gets his salary up to the “you must earn x to import someone” threshold.

    I’m a non-CPA senior accountant with a masters in accounting (working on the CPA part), so that’s obviously a field that’s needed in the UK too, but… how do I even go about this?

    1. Bobina*

      Check that your occupation is listed on the UK government website as a “skills shortage”. Check that your qualifications will carry across to the UK or if you will need to take different exams etc to be able to work there. If both apply, job hunt and see if you can find an employer willing to sponsor you for a visa. But its not an easy route (its expensive for companies), lucky for you, Brexit means the playing field gets evened out from next year with regards to Europeans.

      Alternatively, find a job with a company with offices in the UK, get into a position where they might consider you for relocation.

      Easiest option: find some Irish ancestry, get an Irish passport, move to the UK (Brexit doesnt apply to Irish people).

      1. that sweet EU passport*

        re: “find some Irish ancestry”: it has to be a parent who is/was an Irish citizen and/or a grandparent who was born in Ireland and was a citizen of Ireland at the time of your birth. The process is called a Foreign Birth Registration and may currently be on pause where you live because of COVID.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Start with reading all the home office guidance. It will be difficult and take a long time, I imagine, because the UK is currently under leadership that wants to make it as difficult and unpleasant as possible to move here.

      Also you might want to start researching how the details of your field differ here. Developing expertise and possibly connections in the UK will help when job searching.

  85. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We’ve had layoffs and, as a result, the work usually done by the people who were laid off is falling on the plates of people much more senior (meaning, me and my peers). I’m not above doing the work, but it’s a lot of tedious stuff that requires time and focus, like proofreading. We used to pay someone on an ad hoc basis to do it, my boss now refuses because it means he would have to pay out a couple of hundred bucks. This week there was a massive project to proofread and our other, higher-level work (which can be deadline-focused, at least in the beginning) started moving quickly again and it was just a giant crap show. “We really don’t have time to do this, can you hire M for a few hours?” “No.”

    I was also given two projects that are critical for our company and that we’ve never done before, there was only supposed to be one, they’re both in overdrive this week, and my boss keeps piling MORE crap on my plate. Oh, and our pay has been cut so significantly that I’m making less now than I did 10 years ago. Glad to have a job? Sure. Glad to be busy? Sure. Glad to be in this particular situation? HELL NO.

    How do you manage the fallout from layoffs? Am I just basically stuck (and still job-searching)?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Good luck in your job search – speaking from a “been there, done that” position, it appears that the layoffs may not be over. What I did was to work inhuman hours seven days a week to try to keep up for several months. It wasn’t until after I had carried my houseplant to the car on my last day that I realized it hadn’t been worth it. After I was gone, they simply put the pressure on someone else and then let that person go a few months later. Be professional, do your best, but don’t knock yourself out.

    2. WellRed*

      AvonLady you know the answer. If I do X and Y, I won’t be able to do Z. If you still get told “everything is a priority” (which has the effect of making nothing a priority), drop balls. The fact that you’ve had a significant paycut underscores all this. Your boss won’t shell out a couple hundred bucks to make your job smoother? He doesn’t care about you. Don’t care about the job.

  86. Llama face!*

    Hello AAM commenters! Here’s a question I have about something that won’t be happening until life settles down and becomes more normal-ish:

    What specific questions would you ask when applying/interviewing for a high level admin position (EA or similar)?

    Background info: I am currently in low level administrative work but would eventually like to move to a position with more responsibility and independence in the administrative field. Since I haven’t worked in any higher level positions yet- and don’t have any possible mentors or people to query in my current workplace- I’m not sure what factors I should be considering.
    I’m especially looking for tips on areas that are specific to more advanced work. Any suggestions?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      For an EA role, the more senior you are, the more personality fit matters. You are the executive’s right hand and/or backup brain.

      Soft skills for an EA:
      1. Be comfortable talking to and building relationships with people at all levels, both internally and externally
      2. Understand how office politics work without participating in the destructive aspects
      3. Assertiveness is required
      4. Function with minimal direction and rapidly changing priorities
      5. Responding kindly and firmly to adults acting like children
      6. Able to keep confidential information confidential, but also know when you need to disclose something told to you in confidence

      Hard skills for an EA:
      1. Scheduling meetings of all kinds and using appropriate scheduling software
      2. Contract negotiations
      3. Solid intermediate experience with MS Office is the bare minimum
      4. Booking travel (air, train, hotel, car service, etc) and familiarity with visa requirements. For example, at my last job, I became very familiar with travel requirements for Brasilia, Brazil and Washington, DC. My current job requires familiarity with flights out of SFO, ORD, EWR, CTU, MUC and FRA. You should know when to order a car, when they can take the train or an Uber, and when you need to hire bodyguards, as well as safe hotels, which includes tracking down the correct hotel when there are 3 with similar names and addresses. At the highest level, you should be familiar with the policies on using the corporate jets and the executive limos.
      5. Expense reporting, including the ability to track down copies of receipts from restaurants, etc.
      6. Familiarity with managerial accounting

      Bottom line is that you should be assertive and trustworthy, solutions-oriented, extremely patient, a fast learner, and finally, and most important, be able to leave work at work, even when you’re WFH and carrying a company phone 24/7.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thank you, Can’t Sit Still! That is a very useful and detailed list. There is no possibility of advancement at my current employer so I will be looking elsewhere once I’m ready to leave my current workplace. In the meantime, this kind of information will certainly help with focused skills building and identifying areas of strength I can put on my resume.

    2. Nessun*

      I’d ask about their programs or incentives for learning and mentorship – do they have any kind of program to help pay for or encourage learning from external courses? Do they have internal courses? Do they offer incentives for achieving learning goals (CAP designation, getting a diploma, or a bonus if you already have one)? Is there a formal or informal mentorship program you can leverage, or a peer buddy program you can use, to learn more about the company and their processes?

      I’d also ask them in general how they approach knowledge sharing. This could tie in to mentorship and peer/buddy linkages, but can give you a great insight into if they silo admin or encourage job shadowing/sharing or learning from your peers/mentors. Basically finding out how they approach and reward learning, so you can see what you can gain from the position. That can help you with learning the role once you’re hired, but also with gaining knowledge to progress in your career (both within the company and if you left later).

      1. Llama face!*

        Those are great suggestions, Nessun. Thanks! One of the concerns I’ve had with advancement was in regard to knowledge transfer and aquisition when entering a higher level position. Very good points to address.

    3. Malika*

      You’ve already received some great answers! I would underline the personality fit. With the right kind your career and skills soar, with the wrong one they can crash and burn. Try to get a feel for their working style. Are they collaborative with their team or come across as authoritarian? Also important, have they ever had an EA before? If you have the choice, NEVER be the guinea pig. The chances of unrealistic expectations abound, and they don’t know yet what will make them happy. Can you ascertain from Linkedin or inside contact how long the past EA’s lasted? One of my bosses burnt through eight assistants in two years. If i’d known, i would have been spared PTSS. If you ask what kind of EA worked for them and what they would find challenging, pay close attention. If they start giving you a litany why a string of EA’s disappointed them, it’s the professional version of calling all their exes crazy. Run! If you can, look at their Linkedin. Lots of short tenures? At that level, you don’t change jobs every five minutes. It can indicate difficult personality that will make your life very hard. Plus, high chance of you losing your job when they look for new pastures (you are usually only seen as the EA for a specific executive, due to personality fit). If they have ever been an EA or another process oriented job, they get potential boss bonus points. They understand the nature of your job. Entrepeneurial ideas guy/gal that is all about the product and ‘glossy’ aspects of the org? Chances are high they see you as a necessary evil at best, or as an EA friend of mine was called an ‘unnecessary luxury. Not an impossible gig, but proceed with extreme caution and vetting. Most of all, trust your gut instinct. It is observing things that are vital to your decision making.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Malika! This is also very helpful. You, Nessun, and Can’t Sit Still have all given me some excellent points to consider. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

        1. Malika*

          Glad to be of service, Llama face! I struggled in my career as I had zero mentors and no idea whether expectations were reasonable or outlandish. Burnout and low self-esteem were the consequences, while I saw my generational peers gain skills and confidence. It’s been a tough road, and only now am I turning a corner. Since I have started I have seen way more sources of support being developed. If you are on Linkedin, I suggest you follow Lucy Brazier. She has all kinds of podcasts and articles on soft and hard skills of high-level EA’s. They will provide you with information that a mentor could otherwise have given you. If there is a networking association or club that has regular digital meetups, that might also be a huge help.

  87. Chloeclar*

    I had a situation recently with an interview and I’m quite confused, angry, and sad about what happened.
    I applied for a bank FSR position for a retail or commercial bank (not corporate banking) that listed 6 months of banking experience or 1 year customer service experience. I currently work in a very high-end luxury retail store (not a cheap low-end retail) for 5 years as part time. Also, the dress code isn’t sloppy but professional.
    HR calls me up to set up an interview, and I ask HR if banking experience is required for the position because the job ad is very vague. HR says people from retail adapt to retail banking and they’ve hired people from retail who’ve worked out successfully.
    I go into the interview, but when the interviewers read my resume, they gasp and say to me that my retail experience isn’t enough to get me into this FSR position. They stated they’ve hired people from retail who never made the transition smoothly even with four weeks paid training at their headquarters and shadowing someone at a different branch. One interviewer claimed one FSR was so bad that they sacked her by giving her an ice cream cake for her birthday that read you’re fired, and instead of icing on the cake, it had shaving cream. The girl ate it, threw up, and ran away and never returned.
    I say to them that what they did was so mean and I’m not interested in how they treat people from retail. They said that retail people are losers, ugly, and can’t do serious prestigious jobs like working at bank
    I also said to them that they need to change the qualifications for this position because it only lists 6 months of banking experience or 1 year customer service experience. Doesn’t retail experience count for CSR?
    I got up and ran out of this bank. I firmly intend to post my interview experience on Glassdoor because of the numerous red flags I’ve experienced in this interview.
    My question: why do people have such a visceral reaction to people who come from retail whether high-end or low-end? These interviewers treat people from retail like it’s very black and white. If one doesn’t start at retail banking out of high school, no one can move into banking with retail experience. If one works retail, they have to stay in retail. It’s like there’s no ifs, ands, or buts.

    1. Fiona*

      I agree that there’s generally an unfair bias towards retail, but what you’ve described is so outside the realm of normal that “bias” doesn’t even apply. The people who interviewed you were…bananas. Like, not from this planet. Thank your lucky stars you dodged working with cruel lunatics and keep on keeping on!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      … If they seriously legitimately honest to god told you in an interview that they had fired someone by birthday cake after tricking someone into eating shaving cream, and thought that this was a reasonable thing to *do*, let alone brag about, then the problem is just that you were interviewing with complete and utter bananacrackers lunatics.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        On top of being bananacrackers, wouldn’t it be illegal to intentionally feed someone something that is inedible?!? That might fall under the category of assault! That’s insane!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          To be honest, the whole story seems a little far-fetched to me, both that someone would actually do that in a work environment and that a group of other someones would not only be apparently right on board with it, but think it was reasonable to brag about it in an interview as how this company operates. But I mean, stranger things have happened in this dumpster fire that has been 2020. So if it did actually happen that way, it should definitely not be considered normal, reasonable, or rational, and even if this company DID want you to work for them you should run like your heels were on fire and your butt was catching.

      2. someone or other*

        Yep, these interviewers sound like they are very messed up and cruel. Can you also report them to HR? At least HR shouldn’t encourage retail people to apply if the interviewers are going to be like this to them.

        I think some people like feeling superior to others and will find any reasons they can to do so.

    3. WellRed*

      “One interviewer claimed one FSR was so bad that they sacked her by giving her an ice cream cake for her birthday that read you’re fired, and instead of icing on the cake, it had shaving cream. The girl ate it, threw up, and ran away and never returned.”

      As if anyone ever got fired with a cake, in the first place. In the second, one would have to be sociopathic to poison someone rater than simply fire them and finally, why would anyone eat a cake that says “you’re fired.”
      It’s so stupid, I think the interviewer who relayed it must also be a sociopath.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Right? If I walk in and there’s a cake that says “you’re fired,” I’m leaving, I’m not going to sit down and dig in. WTF.

    4. Chimmy*

      I think the other commenters have appropriately addressed the insanity of your specific interview experience, but I also just wanted to say that discriminating against retail workers is not only unfair, but also stupid! I work in proposal/business development at an engineering firm – it’s a job that involves a lot of people-wrangling and managing up of difficult people on tight deadlines. When I’ve hired people, I actually see retail as very good, relevant experience, because then at least I know they’ll have experience with staying calm while dealing with difficult people and high-stress situations!

    5. Loretta*

      I’m not trying to be unkind here, but I’m having a really difficult time believing this is true. This is like… cartoonish levels of villainy. Are you sure it was a real interview and you weren’t being pranked?

    6. RagingADHD*

      Lots of people work retail for a few years and transition into something else.

      Hardly anyone goes straight into banking from high school. I’m not sure how the FSR designation compares, but I’ve known a number of folks who became bank tellers without prior banking experience.

      If you have only worked *part time* retail, with no other job history, that is going to be a harder sell going into a full-time position in a conservative/ formal field like banking. The long-term part-time situation might be more of an issue than it being retail.

      So many industries are hard hit right now, it’s difficult to know where to look.

      As for the rest, that is all so bizarre it’s hard to wrap my head around. I’ve interviewed for a lot of jobs in a lot of different places, some of them pretty toxic or skeevy, and I’ve never seen or heard of anyone acting like that.

      Saying people who work retail are losers? or ugly? Who acts like that?

      And as for this cake story, how could anyone eat a mouthful of shaving cream by accident? It’s pungent. It’s soap, FCOL.

      I’m sorry that you seem to have interviewed in bizarro world.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve had several interviews like this. (Well, almost but not with shaving cream icing on the cake.) I really don’t know why employers bother listing qualifications, if they aren’t going to seriously consider them for hiring purposes? And I don’t know why they even bothered to call you in for an interview if they didn’t think you were qualified because of your retail CSR experience? It seems like they didn’t bother to read your resume and/or application and they just wasted a lot of your time and theirs.

  88. Lost in the Library*

    I’m having a difficult time feeling any confidence at all about my next career steps. Last year, I moved for a job with a 1-year contract. This job is coming to an end in a month. I have never felt less-confident and despondent in my working life. I’m seriously starting to feel depressed.

    What’s making me particularly stressed… should be something I’m excited about. Networking WAS working in my favor when the director of my library passed along my resume to the director of another library in the region and a few weeks later a job posting was created (looking oddly like my resume!). I was encouraged to apply, so I did. Everyone at this library who knows I applied is CERTAIN I will get this job! Deep down, I’m pretty certain I won’t. The director asks me every time she sees me if I’ve heard from them yet for an interview! Nope, I haven’t!

    In order to get interview prep, which SEEMED like a good idea at the time, my director has been asking interview questions every time I walk by her office. I’ve avoided walking past her office for the last 2 days. I should be thankful to receive feedback and criticism, but the way she delivers feedback straight-up makes me feel BAD. I’m extremely anxious in interview, which is something I have always been working on. But it’s not productive to tell someone with anxiety about job interviews to be… less anxious. Well, gee, why didn’t I think of that in the first place?! I’m being a brat about this, but I was hoping I could get feedback/help with the content of the answers, but nope. Her feedback makes me feel like I can’t win. It’s so negative that I have no idea how to take it and implement it, I just feel like garbage. My boss is this amazing professional woman and I know I’ll never live up to that. I can never be like her. I feel very embarrassed and I’m sure that my boss regrets helping me, or even forwarding my resume in the first place.

    I feel so certain after waiting for the library to call me for an interview that I *WON’T* be getting an interview. It’s not as though they didn’t get other applicants. Who knows, they could have gotten amazing applicants. I feel like a complete dud of a librarian and as a person. I feel so embarrassed for applying and thinking I could get an interview (and thinking that networking was in my favor for once!!). Anyway, I don’t know what to do. I just feel awful. I feel so heavily burdened by how… awful I am?

    I’m counting down the days I can move out of this city and… back in with my mother. That’s how depressed I feel. I *want* to move back in with my mother. I just want to go home? I think I just needed to vent, not sure what advice I’m seeking at this point. Yep, I have a therapy appointment booked for tomorrow morning.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with this! I think, although it depends on your director, that maybe you could just TELL her you haven’t been called for an interview and see if she can help you figure out why?
      You’re going to be OK! Keep reading AAM and the Friday Good News and keep applying to jobs. Good things will come your way. We all have faith in you!

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Okay, I am super glad you’re getting therapy. Can you just straight up tell the director, “I haven’t been called for an interview yet and I just think I need to focus on my work here for now.”

      Also, for goodness sake, try to find some other jobs to apply to. Assume you won’t get the job and mentally moving on and making plans if you don’t might super help clear your head. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      1. Lost in the Library*

        I think I will tell her that the next time I run into her.

        Yep, I am going to see what else I can apply to this weekend. I found a job with a vendor that sounds like it could be a nice change of direction.

        I realized that I never replied to your comment in last week’s post! I’m completely open to moving for a new position, it’s just that there has been a lack of library jobs posted (in the best of times, never mind the pandemic). Things do seem to be opening up more. I think one thing that is MAJORLY stressing me out about the position I’ve been waiting to hear from is that it’s going to be in the city I’m currently living in, which is fine. The problem is that I hate where I’m currently living and already gave my notice for Dec 1, just a few days after my current position. I’m worried that a) IF this happens it will be a long hiring process. If I’m going to be staying here, I need to know so I can start looking for a place to live on December 1. Or, alternatively, if not I need to get started on packing up and getting ready to move in with my mom (who lives 5 hours away). I guess, either way, I should start packing! But I just hate the uncertainty of it all.

        When I look back, the last 4 years of my life have been such a whirlwind (dad got sick, dad died, had to be mom’s caregiver for a bit (kind of still am, but from a distance), grad school, working during grad school, leaving a frustrating job, relocating for this job, etc.), I’m ultimately just burnt out.