open thread – October 30-31, 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.

{ 853 comments… read them below }

  1. ThoughtsToday*

    My concentration is totally shot. I’m tired and out of it a lot and while I’m still producing enough to get by, I feel frustrated at the end of the day that I succeeded so little. I can only do well on low level tasks at the moment, but anything with higher level thinking and it’s taking me so long to complete! I can’t tell if it’s the pandemic, the election, or working from home that’s getting to me – or all three – but I am in this WFH situation probably for at least another half a year. Help?

    1. Nita*

      Same thing :( Chocolate helps – but I’ve already eaten all of it. Sleeping enough helps – but that’s not happening until I don’t know when. Do you have times of the day when you’re more productive? If you do, might help to do the easy tasks when you’re not at your sharpest, and leave the difficult stuff for your more productive times.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      You sound burnt out, can you take some time off to refresh? Some time away from work can really help reset things.

      Also, perhaps give yourself the grace to accept that this is your current level of output for the time being. It sounds like you’re still getting your work done, has the slower speed had any negative repercussions? If not, then I think it’s ok to go a little easy on yourself – these are stressful scary times, it’s not fair to expect you to work the same as if everything were normal and fine.

      1. ThoughtsToday*

        Thanks to you and everyone else who has been replying to this thread. Even if it’s solidarity in crappiness, it’s still nice to have solidarity.

        After reading some of the comments, I actually jumped off trying to write an email that I was putting off and rearranged my work room so that I’m now facing the window and I already feel happier that I get to look outside and get more light during my day. Plus, I just messaged my boss about taking a four day weekend next week!

        To everyone else feeling this: I adopted a dog last month and honestly I think being forced to take two walks day is – once I actually get outside – one of the highlights of my day. Before I had her I wasn’t going outside barely at all. She’s one of the happy spots right now in a year that sucks.

        1. ThoughtsToday*

          Oh, and I meant to reply to the question about repercussions: Luckily (?) for me, my work is extremely impacted and everything we do now looks different from normal. So I think regular benchmarking is kind of thrown out the window at the moment at my work. But like someone mentioned below, it’s always hard not to feel like the goodwill will run out — especially as there are still concerns at my work about future layoffs.

          1. Hazel*

            You’re definitely not alone! I hope our employers will continue to be understanding about the mental toll this pandemic takes on people. I have become depressed since March, and my therapist and I came up with some things that have helped, and I hope this helps you.

            1. I take a walk every day, even when I’m tired or I don’t want to. If I need a destination in order to make myself go outside, I walk to the Dunkin near my house and get a decaf coffee. Otherwise, I’ll try to at least make a route around several blocks in my neighborhood. It really does help with my mental health. I don’t know if it’s doing much for my physical health, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

            2. I try to talk to at least one other person during the day. Sometimes a meeting with my manager is enough to help me feel not so isolated, and sometimes I need to try to make myself call someone for even a few minutes. Worst case: I’ll at least text or email a few people. I also have a few friends who like to take walks in the local wooded park, so I try to schedule a walk at least every couple of weeks.

            3. Do something fun during the week! I used to sing with a chorus and dance on a dance team, and I really miss both! Since I can’t do that, I try to watch a comedy movie, read something funny, read books that are interesting but not depressing or too scary, watch funny pet videos. I have an exercise video and a Spanish language DVD that I think I will enjoy, but I haven’t managed to get going on those yet.

            4. Give myself a lot of empathy. Life is hard these days for so many of us, and it’s not a personal failing to be having a hard time.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I think many of us are right there with you, so outside of reminding you to carve out as much time as you can per day for some self-care (whatever that looks like to you), I don’t think we’ll be able to offer much in the way of help. It’s just a really shitty year.

    4. singularity*

      I’m in the same boat. I have a hard time caring about work tasks and am doing the minimum to skate by without getting into trouble or flagged as having low productivity. I’m not working from home because I’m a teacher and they wanted us back for face-to-face, but honestly, it’s terrible. The kids aren’t engaged, they’re stressed and cases among the staff and students are rising every day. I live in a place where cases are spiking and we just keep trucking along as though it’s all fine. If I was still working from home, I’d create a schedule and build in some *free me time* that I could look forward too. Time to exercise, walk around, stretch, go for a walk, etc. It helps.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I hate that you are being forced to work onsite in these terrible conditions. I have no students of any age, but I would not permit them to be in a brick and mortar school if I did. So unfair to faculty and staff. If only pretending everything is OK made it so. Please take good care of yourself.

      2. PhysicsTeacher*

        Yes, same here. We’re having the most new cases we’ve ever had and our ICUs are full. I took a “sick” day today because I just couldn’t face going in. We keep getting told by admin to prepare to move to a more restrictive model, but we’ve been being told that for literally like 6 weeks and haven’t changed (the decision here is made on a weekly basis). So why would I spend my time preparing anything when odds are it’d be a waste?

        Taking my dog out for walks does help, but we’ve had some early winter weather here that’s made it tricky for a few days.

      3. Nita*

        That’s terrible. I’ve posted many times here about how important school is, but with rising cases it really shouldn’t be open. How are you doing with PPE supplies? Is the school providing enough? I really hope they’re not doing the usual “it’s not in the budget, ask the parents or buy your own” thing this year.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Maybe shake up your work routine if you can? Instead of getting up and starting work at 9 AM, try 2 PM and work into the evening? Is it possible to completely move your work area to a new location in your place? Right now there are so many things out of our control, the pandemic, the election (for Americans), the coming winter. Changing small things that you have control over can help (hopefully!)

    6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      You could be me, or vice versa. Since Wednesday morning, almost everything I’ve “accomplished” has a large inertia quality to it.

      If your role and employer are amenable, a long weekend (4 days) could help. And/or if you can rework the agenda so one day only has those tasks you’re doing decently well on, just to rebuild that feeling of accomplishing things.

    7. The New Normal*

      I think everyone needs to remember to take vacation time still. Just because you are WFH doesn’t mean you are relaxing and having a staycation. You still need time off from work. You still need to find ways to recharge yourself. And in the middle of a pandemic, when typical options aren’t available, you may need even more opportunity to recharge.

      Take a week off, or whatever you can manage. Disconnect yourself completely. No calls, no texts, no emails. Spend time doing what you want to do.

    8. Archie Goodwin*

      Are you able to book a vacation? I’m largely in the same boat you’re in, and I finally was able to book some time off for a couple of weeks, beginning on Tuesday (yes that was deliberate ha ha ha ha hahahaha *sob*).

      I haven’t had a vacation in over a year, and I think it was coming due even without the pandemic/etc. I’m looking forward to getting away somewhere quiet, where I can catch up on sleep, be by the beach, and do nothing of consequence for about a week and a half.

      Circumstances aren’t ideal this year, certainly, but I’m afraid that without it I’d go completely crackers. Not that I’m not nearly there already, but…

    9. higheredrefugee*

      I’m on end of month production goals, and staying focused is just.so.very.hard.this.week. I KNOW it is combo of all of the above, with the added less sunshine and outdoor exercise that goes along with that to help me temper it all. I’ve been making sure to still exercise, always have some time booked to look forward to, and started scheduling some routine medical appointments to get out of the house. I live alone, and I foresee a long winter ahead of me, and am so grateful for my zoom knit-ins with friends.

    10. Zee*

      No help, but some commiseration. I have felt like, lately, every higher level deliverable I turn in is subpar. I just can’t focus and then end up rushing at the end to get things done and forget details and conversations I’ve had with people, no matter how many notes I take.

      The Calm app has a set of meditations related to work, which can sometimes help me get in the right cognitive space for concentration, meetings, etc., but even that isn’t working as well recently with everything going on.

      Luckily I think people are still cutting others a lot of slack, but I’m worried that will dry up soon as we continue to isolate and work from home for the foreseeable future.

    11. LTL*

      Don’t have any advice, but if it helps, so many people I know have been dealing with burnout and not being able to work lately. Myself included. I’m doing better this week, but it seems to be a really common problem these last couple weeks.

    12. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I am in the exact same boat. I keep having to remind myself that with everything going on, I just CANNOT hold myself to my pre-pandemic standards. It’s not fair to myself, my old standards are just not realistic right now. I’ve never before had to work under such high levels of stress for such a prolonged time.
      I definitely second (and third and forth) the recommendation to take some vacation time.
      I’ve also been taking advantage of my employers’ Employee Assistance Program by signing up for some free counseling sessions. That’s definitely helped some.

    13. lemon*

      I am 100% right there with you. I can take care of routine tasks fine, but deeper project work is a struggle. For me, it’s mostly the fact that I’ve been sitting alone in a 230 sq ft studio apartment thinking of nothing but work, my master’s program, and the pandemic/politics. My brain wants a break, but all the things I usually do when I feel this way aren’t an option– going to the movies, getting dinner with friends, going out dancing, working from a coffee shop, or even just leaving the office and going home for the weekend (since my apartment is now my office). I also have only been sleeping about 5-6 hours a night, because I spend my nights doomscrolling and then can’t fall asleep.

      What’s helped for me is: making sure I get out of the house to go for a long walk a few times a week, making sure I’m getting enough sleep by cutting out the doomscrolling, and mixing up my workspace when I can. I’m lucky that my apartment building has coworking space. I’d been avoiding it (due to the pandemic) but then finally accepted that since I’m doing WFH for at least the next few months, it’s not realistic to be confined to my small apartment the whole time. I’m trying not to use it too often, but when I just cannot focus, and need to, it’s an emergency option (masked and socially-distanced, of course). Taking time off of work is also super important–I’m looking into staying a couple of nights at an Airbnb in my city as a kind of staycation.

      Finally, I think we all just need to learn to be patient with ourselves and others right now. No one is going to be as productive as they normally are. No one is doing well right now. We’re all doing the best we can so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.

    14. Engineer Woman*

      Wow, I could have written this as what you describe fits me perfectly, despite working on it! I echo the suggestions for self-care, at least that’s what my EAP counselor and physician have emphasized: exercise, just a little and even when you don’t feel like it (easier said than done, but my low-bar goals of at least 1 20 minute walk around the block a week is something?) take time off (I took a random Wednesday off last week) and also find something you enjoy doing and make time to do it. You can also try meditating – lots of apps exist to help guide you.

    15. Lyudie*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I’m commiserating. I’m struggling to complete anything right now, honestly. I’m just burned out and depressed and I am sort of looking because we’ve had multiple rounds of cuts and while my group hasn’t been affected much (we are already a very small team so not much to cut and still get anything completed) but who knows what will happen. That uncertainty isn’t helping either.

    16. AwkwardTurtle*

      I relate to this very much. I don’t know if another short break would help me because I seem to get into a rut soon again.

    17. Toothless*

      I’m in a similar boat, but I’ve found some relief in rearranging my surroundings as much as possible – I think I’m on the sixth distinct desk setup in about as many months (nothing too expensive, just moving my existing furniture around my one bedroom apartment and getting a half size card table to replace my kitchen table). The biggest bang-for-buck thing that has helped is getting myself as much light as possible, which included rotating my table to look out a window.

      The second most helpful thing has been keeping low-level physical activity up – even a five minute walk or pacing around while waiting for a terminal job to finish always surprises me in how much it helps with focus. Before WFH I noticed a big difference on the days I rode my bike into work, or even parked far away and walked about five minutes to get to the door.

    18. Ally McBeal*

      It’s definitely all three, and you’re not alone. I’m taking all of next week off, which I normally couldn’t do in a POTUS-election year, but thanks to the pandemic I won’t be needed to help handle the events we usually do. It’s such a relief to know I won’t have to pretend to be productive.

      One question that I’ve found crucial to stablizing my own mental health: What are your news/media habits? I know a lot of people who still have alerts (like from NYT or CNN or whatever) on their phone, so they get “breaking” news beamed directly to them. Do Not Do That, It’s Bad For You. Turn off all the alerts — if something truly catastrophic happens I PROMISE the govt or your friends/family will find a way to tell you — and I highly recommend not reading the news on weekends or other times earmarked for relaxation. Also probably don’t watch the news at all; print/online is best, followed by radio. Assess your social media habits too and consider avoiding it over the next week.

    19. LogicalOne*

      I’ve been trying to eat foods with Vitamin D and foods that help produce seratonin, the happy mood hormone. I’ve also been trying to take a brief walk around the block during my lunch break, if I have time to do so. Getting fresh air really does help. It doesn’t help that it’s been getting darker earlier either and DST is this weekend. Since you’re working from home, the barrier between work environment and home environment may be starting to break down because you’re in the same environment pretty much all day. You need that disconnect. I don’t know what state you live in and what restrictions are going on but you may want to go to a cafe, a library, somewhere where you can get away from home for a little bit and do work, if you can. And this is assuming you’re comfortable in being in an indoor establishment. I seriously wish everyone good luck these next few months and to you as well.

    20. KimmyBear*

      A colleague reminded me yesterday that we can’t operate at crisis mode for months or weeks on end. Our bodies and minds aren’t built for that but it’s what we’ve been doing with COVID, the election, schools, etc. Take care of yourself. Take a break. Rest. And be patient with yourself.

    21. M*

      I’m having similar issues (I’m not WFH, but I am working full time and in grad school). I have been napping a lot on weekends and drinking tons of coffee at work. If you can, get outside for a walk at least once a day, because the sunshine might make you feel better. Also, possibly write out deadlines on a calendar, and cross things off when you’re done with them. That way, you can see the progress you’re making! And also, cut yourself some slack (easier said than done, I know). I know I need to ask my boss for some vacation time, but I’m gonna roll it in with finals lol. Find a book/TV show/movie that comforts you and watch in your down time. Studies found that people who are dealing with anxiety and/or depression (not diagnosing, but just for reference) enjoy re-watching things because they don’t feel like they need to worry about what’ll happen to characters. It also might help you fall asleep if that’s been difficult. A comforting show, some tea, and relaxation. :) Sending good vibes, and I hope some of this helps, if only to know that you’re not alone!

    22. Quinalla*

      I have times where I focus better (because of time of day and because kids are asleep/occupied) and that is the ONLY time I can get focus work done. I don’t even try other times as it is just an exercise in frustration. Hopefully figuring out your best focus time helps. I am also making sure to average 7 hours of sleep a night (I’d like it to be the minimum, but I’m doing what I can here) and to exercise minimum 4 times a week and more if I can. I open up all the shades when I get up as being able to see the sun in most every room really brightens my day and I get outside even if just briefly once a day right now, not sure if I’ll keep that up in the winter, but hopefully. But one of the biggest things is letting some things go so I can prioritize what is important and also being easier on myself. My productivity right now is NOT what it was and that isn’t going to change until I’m no long trying to work and do school with my kids and worrying about the pandemic and the election and so on.

    23. Delta Delta*

      I work most effectively/efficiently when I have a goal or reward. So, If I know I need to walk to the mailbox, I set a time for that and then see how much I can get done before going to the mailbox. Or I try to schedule meetings/calls/court hearings so that I have time between them and can push myself to get things done between. Intellectually I know that I’m trying to trick myself, but it often seems to work. If you’re also wired that way it can be a good trick.

    24. Coenobita*

      SAME! For the first time in my life (at 34, 12+ years into my career) I am really struggling with this. I have always been an organized, self-motivated person — when I was super depressed in college and basically not eating or going outside, I actually got the best grades of my academic career because I could close my door and write papers to shut everything else out. But now I am blowing past deadlines, missing emails, telling myself “I’ll get up early to finish this task” but staying up all night reading romance novels instead, and literally checking off all the boxes on those “ADHD in women” checklists. (Is 2020-onset ADHD a thing?)

      I have no advice but wanted you to know that you are not alone, and I really appreciate everyone chiming in on this thread!

      1. Anax*

        Honestly, a lot of ADHD and autism traits are just how human brains function under stress – neurodivergence just sets that threshold lower. You’ve probably had times before where you couldn’t stop fidgeting, got really into a good book or movie and binged it instead of doing your homework, or were so tired that you couldn’t form a coherent sentence. If you’re noting ADHD traits, it might be that you’re ADHD but you usually compensate so well that it’s not obvious, or it might be that you’re hitting that stress threshold where your brain does “ADHD-ish” things. Looking into the tools ADHD folks use for self-care and to help cope might be useful either way!

        Soooo there with you, though. I had pretty good grades in college, despite rarely going to class due to agoraphobia, but this year is making it so darn hard to focus.

    25. NW Mossy*

      I’m having good success helping myself with what I’m broadly calling “imposing order on chaos” activities. I’ve been incrementally clearing clutter in my home (“free if you’ll pick up” on Nextdoor is grand for this), following patterns in knitting, listening to lo-fi beats, being more orderly when I’m cooking, and so on. In small ways, each makes me feel like there is still stuff in the world that can make sense, and the sensation spills over into work.

      Also, it’s been important to just give myself zone-out time where I explicitly set out to do nothing more meaningful than futz around on my phone. Always-be-hustling culture has definitely spilled over into the pandemic and a lot of us feel overwhelmed by all the “use all your new free time [ed.: HAH!] to learn Sanskrit, lose 50 pounds, and become a meditation influencer” self-improvement messages. Give yourself permission to explicitly reject that and take comfort in the knowledge that in this year, more than any other in a while, getting to the end with most of body and soul intact is victory enough.

    26. Burnout party*

      No advice, but more commiseration. I could have written this word for word. Earlier this week it took me 2 hours to write an email. I’m getting *just* enough done that no one will notice or object, but I feel like crap. Planning to take next Wednesday off as a mental health day, hopefully that helps reset. Hang in there <3

    27. 30 Years in the Biz*

      I’m feeling the same way and I think it’s all the bad stuff adding up to make life challenging. We may have had some “climbing up hills” at work, but now we’re doing it with a 100 lb backpack while wearing slippers. I have to remind myself to take a walk, get exercise, or hang out in the garden for a bit to recharge. But my recharge doesn’t last as long as it should. I’ve heard that writing down daily what we’re grateful for, no matter how small, can help develop a positive perspective. Doing the best we can, even if our brains are telling us it isn’t enough, is what we need to be satisfied with right now. I’m hopeful things get better soon – for all of us AAM followers, for our country, for the world!

    28. JoBeth NotAmy*

      I just have to say how relieved I am to read all these replies. I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty for not being able to maintain my normal level of productivity, but like everyone else, I’m just exhausted. I don’t think it helps at all that cases are rising, winter is coming, and my job now expects that since we’ve been doing this since March, it’s somehow easier now. (News flash: it’s not.)

      1. Anax*

        Same boat; I’ve been feeling so guilty, but I’m so darn tired. Deaths in the family, election coming, seasonal affective disorder, I haven’t gotten to go to a store since February and I’m literally dreaming of the freedom of walking around a darn Target just to see some new shiny things I haven’t been staring at for eight months.

    29. WFH2020*

      That’s exactly where I am today. I’m reading AAM when I should be working. I just had some gourmet coffee delivered to make myself feel better.

      I have my monthly required work tasks completed and yesterday started on things that will be due next month. I’m caught up and waiting but there’s plenty I could be doing – but I feel like crap. Tired, horribly stressed, and first time in a long time feeling mostly angry.

      So many of us are normal caring reasonable people who are doing everything they can to stay healthy and help others to stay healthy. We’ve made sacrifices and may grumble but we are clear on understanding the importance. I don’t want to get political just pointing out the huge divide of people doing everything that is humanly possible while there are still many in the US who are determined to do the opposite making our country even more unsafe, on all levels.

    30. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn Hax linked to an article about the six-month “crisis wall” , by crisis expert Aisha Ahmad. I’ll link in a second reply, or you could look it up on Hax’s October 9 Friday live chat.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I use Firefox, and got to the article by right clicking the link and then selecting open in new private window.

        1. Brrr winter is coming*

          I had seen this article earlier and it was really helpful in dealing with things. Still struggling occasionally, but I did make some progress by rejoining the Whole Life Challenge for the fall challenge (7 healthy habits each day.) But, in preparation for winter I wrote two schedules. One a generic daily schedule of when I’ll work, exercise, etc. with the plan to take a midday walk every day and do yoga most evenings. With the time changing it will be dark at 5pm today so getting the walk in during the day is important. I also divided up the household cleaning chores by day and having that list has added a bit more structure to my week and I feel more peaceful when my house is clean. I also have decided that I’ll do at least one fun thing per weekend that is a novelty activity. Example: church friends trivia on Friday night. A virtual tour of an art exhibit by an expert. So, really trying to balance having a schedule and having novelty. These resets have made it easier at work. I’ve also leaned in to the pomodoro method of working on projects along with more extensive to do lists. Usually if I can get started I’m fine.

    31. Anon Admin*

      I totally feel you. I’m completely burnt to a crisp from overwork, and there’s no end in sight. It’s a struggle to get anything done. I wish I had suggestions because that could help me too!

      For context on mine— I’m in an area that was the first to go into lockdown, and is rightfully slow coming out. While most of my work can theoretically be done remote, it made a complete mess of my organizational system to transfer to paperless, and it also is WAY less time-efficient. Add on that once our business bounced back from the SIP-related shock, we had the highest producing summer since I took this job. I’ve had to work 50-60 hour weeks to keep up. And I can’t take a vacation (even for a day) because I have no real backup and my work is time-sensitive. (By no real backup I mean the person who normally is my backup is just as swamped, and she also didn’t get one of the limited VPN licenses needed to do my work away from the office since her day-to-day doesn’t need it.)

    32. Xenia*

      I’ve been having similar issues–my brain just seems super tired and I am just not motivated. One thing that’s helped has been taking ten minutes every day to make sure that my work space is clean–and for me, that might be anything from tidying away pens and paper to making sure all of my socks are in the laundry. It’s a task completed, and it makes my environment nicer.
      Alternatively, sometimes I’ve just powered through a rough draft of whatever I’m working on–just written things down on paper. Going back and editing my work can feel easier than trying to get it just right the first time.

  2. MissBliss*

    I posted last week about a really exciting remote opportunity that was perfect for me, and folks asked me to share an update… Well, unfortunately, the update is “they didn’t mean to post it as a remote opportunity” (even though they did on multiple websites). Very disappointing, but it’s okay. Thanks everyone for your well wishes!

    1. Firecat*

      I am so sorry. I ran into that a lot when I was job searching. A lot of places were posting as remote when they meant “remote for now”.

      1. MissBliss*

        Yeah, I was slightly apprehensive about that when I applied, because the ad itself didn’t say anything in the body about “currently remote for COVID but ordinarily you’ll work from XYZ office”… but one of the ads had a bullet-list of items and it said “fully-remote.” So. It is what it is!

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, when I was looking awhile back, “remote” usually meant “we will let you work from home one or two days a week sometimes”. Things may be different now; this was pre-pandemic.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I really, really need companies to be more accurate in how they describe their remote/onsite expectations in job listings. It’s really frustrating for job seekers. Whatever your situation is — all remote, all onsite, remote for now — just be clear! Why is this so hard?

    3. 30 Years in the Biz*

      So sorry, but this may mean you’re meant to have another job that’s even better! It happened to me.

    4. Paquita*

      I saw a FB post about a remote position. That requires travel. When I asked how that is remote? Until you have to travel. Umm that’s not how remote works.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        In my experience “remote” has no definitive stance on travel one way or the other. “Remote” simply means “you primarily do not work from our office”. So you could be 100% working from home, or you could be working a mix of from home and from client sites you have to travel to, or similar.

  3. Former Usher*

    Seven weeks ago I wrote:

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

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

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

    I have an update. I was turned down for the job above in favor of an internal candidate. This resulted in a new opening for that candidate’s old job, for which the hiring manager above recommended me. It turns out that a neighbor and former manager is on the hiring committee, and she encourages me to apply.

    I’m offered the job. Vacation is a step back but the pay is at the high end of what I had anticipated. Other benefits are comparable. I struggle with the decision but, still not having heard from my current manager since July, ultimately accept the offer.

    I call my current manager and let him know I’m resigning. ‘I’m sorry to hear that, because we just got approval for your promotion.’

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Congrats! And I TOTALLY believe that your manager TOTALLY just got approval for your promotion. TOTALLY.

      1. Former Usher*

        It hadn’t occurred to me that it might not be legitimate. Supposedly the news of the promotion hadn’t been shared with me yet because they didn’t have the official paperwork ready to show me. It is a bit of a coincidence that my resignation just happens to fall between approval and preparing a letter.

        1. JustaTech*

          Sometimes it really is a coincidence (like the time my coworker went to a meeting to hand in her resignation and instead was laid off with a fat severance package), but given that your manager hasn’t seemed to really have your back for the last year+, and especially if your manager didn’t beg you to stay, yeah, I’m inclined to call “shenanigans”.

          Congrats on the new job!

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          It could totally be a coincidence, but based off of what you’ve told us (it wasn’t used as a counter offer, your manager has been a no-show, zero communication has been made, and the promotion wasn’t actually official), I’m totally of the mind that the promotion didn’t actually happen, your manager just wanted to get one last dig in. Allows them to pretend that it’s your loss rather than actually their loss.

          1. Former Usher*

            Maybe it’s because I just re-watched “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” from the second season of Community, but another thought just occurred to me. Perhaps my manager was tipped off and knew I was looking and was ready to act as if the “promotion” had been approved without making it seem like a counter offer. He certainly didn’t sound too surprised.

    2. Been There*

      Sounds like a nice problem to have! Congrats!!! Are you going to take the promotion to keep the vacation leave?

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I don’t believe that. If this were really in motion, he could have (and would have) communicated that to you with the caveat being that he didn’t know whether the approval would come through or not. Also, when you were resigning, he could have made you a counteroffer if he really wanted you to stay.

      Nah, I think you made the right choice in moving on here. Did you attempt to try to negotiate more time off? Because that’s what I would have done if everything else benefits-wise was equal.

    4. lala*

      My manager also went totally awol when we went wfh and quite frankly if he pulled this on me, I wouldn’t believe it for a second.

    5. anonymous1*

      I think this is just a sign you made the right decision, especially if the promotion would have still been under the current manager.

      1. Nita*

        Yup. No one forced your old manager to sit on his hands and not communicate with you till it was too late. I think it’s a good thing you’re saying goodbye to this job and the promotion that may or may not exist. Congratulations!

      2. Former Usher*

        Interestingly, after I accepted the offer but prior to submitting my resignation, I heard that there was discussion of moving me to a different manager. Would have been nice to have had a heads up earlier.

    6. CatCat*

      There’s a lot of sudden, magical problem solving that occurs when someone they don’t actually want to leave gives notice. And it’s malarkey. Good for getting out and finding a new opportunity.

    7. WellRed*

      Is it common for places to not allow equivalent vacation for an internal transfer? Where I work, vacation is based on longetivity (I suppose there may be some execs who negotiate more).

      1. Former Usher*

        Sorry for the confusion. Both jobs I interviewed for were at a different company than the one I currently work for.

      1. Former Usher*

        I did try to negotiate additional vacation without success. Sadly, despite having previously worked for this employer, they would not consider my previous years of service. It’s really the only negative for what is otherwise a very attractive offer.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Ugh, yeah, that’s crappy. My old employer (an insurance company) regularly reinstated former employees to their pre-termination benefit status upon their return. It was something I thought was very cool and would help to make them more attractive to returning applicants. More companies should really do this – it makes no sense to make someone start all the way back at the bottom again.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Too little to late, STBX Boss. Bye-bye.

      How much effort does it take to say, “I am working on this for you, Employee! Progress is slow but I am indeed working on it.” Apparently it’s too much effort to ask of a boss.

    9. juneybug*

      If it was me, I would call HR at the old company to verify if the promotion was true or not. I have a feeling that it’s not true so once you find out, you will be able to move on knowing you got away from a poor manager and his lies.

  4. Only-Child Syndrome?*

    I don’t know if I’m having only-child syndrome, or if this is really a problem.

    My boss Tara worked alone for a decade before the company expanded enough to justify hiring a second person. Because she was previously a department of one, my addition required quantifying a lot of unspoken department rules and procedures. Our personalities and job demographics (age, education, prior work experience) meshed really well, the only major frustration being that Tara was more of an “ask permission” person and I was more of an “ask forgiveness” person. IMO, Tara was overly rigid/performative about some things (like “calling in” for sick days instead of just using the online portal), and overly flexible about some things (like consistency across department documents that provide scientific/engineering information). Once I got into the groove of understanding where Tara applied her “by the book” attitude and where she didn’t, things went smoother.

    Three years later, a third person was hired for the department, Kelly. Kelly was a decade older than Tara and me, was coming off a “glamorous” job in a top-five major city, and had very different ideas about hierarchy and job autonomy. She was used to coming and going as she pleased, working remotely when she didn’t feel like dealing with subways or bad weather, and making high-level decisions without having to go up the chain. Almost immediately, Kelly started trying to get Tara to see things her way. I never had much luck nudging Tara towards more flexibility, so I welcomed this. It worked pretty well–Kelly is much more persuasive and charismatic than I am.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and from my perspective, things are getting weird. It feels like there’s one set of old-school by-the-book rules for me, and another set of flexible rules for Tara and Kelly. Projects that I’m expected to perform a certain way have a lot fewer restrictions when they’re assigned to Kelly. Opportunities that I was told were not feasible (such as training classes) became feasible when it was Kelly who wanted them. Kelly and Tara casually chat throughout the day, while Tara and I only talk to discuss work. Kelly often knows information that I have no clue about (personal details about why Tara is using PTO and general goings-on in her life).

    This week, I discovered that I was the only one actually showing up to work. Per the C-suite, we are allowed partial remote work during Covid, but with the caveat that there must always be one department member in the building. Tara created a rotating schedule to provide coverage while allowing the other two people to work remotely. Apparently, I was the only person sticking to this schedule—Tara and Kelly just weren’t doing it, for personal reasons of inconvenience. The old Tara would have never dreamed of doing something like that.

    I can deal with the fact that Kelly and Tara are just “better friends” than Tara and I are. Kelly is incredibly sociable, easy to like, and skilled at drawing people out. I’m more reserved and quiet. What I can’t deal with is this unspoken change where I seem to be the department flunky.

    Am I being paranoid or unreasonable?

    1. singularity*

      You are not being paranoid or being unreasonable. Why do you have a completely different set of rules and expectations than they do? Is Kelly considered ‘senior’ to you in any way? Is there a hierarchy to speak of –like is Tara officially the boss and you and Kelly are peers or is Kelly meant to be senior to you but below Tara?

      Depending on how you feel like Tara would react, I would try to talk to her one-on-one about the differences in expectations and work levels you and Kelly are dealing with. If Tara is ‘technically’ your manager, she should be giving you feedback on what you’re doing. If she’s not, then that’s really frustrating.

      1. Only-Child Syndrome*

        Tara is the department manager, Kelly and I are (theoretically) equal peers who both report to Tara.

        1. Wool Princess*

          The relationship you describe between Kelly and Tara sounds like it may be verging on inappropriate for manager-report. Especially if Kelly is somehow exempt from the requirement to come into the office and you aren’t. Smells like favoritism to me.

    2. Niniel*

      It doesn’t sound like you’re being paranoid, it sounds infuriating. No advice, just commiseration from a fellow reserved person who would have ended up in the same position you’re in. I can assure you that it’s not Only-Child syndrome, just introvert vs. charming extrovert syndrome.

    3. WellRed*

      OP, you sound more like an “ask for permission” person so I got confused by that framing. This situation sounds unequal and ultimately, unsustainable. What opportunities might you miss out on down the line because Kelly has Tara’s ear and you don’t?

      1. Only-Child Syndrome*

        I’m not that way naturally, but Tara as my manager made me knuckle under to being that way because that’s what she wants (or did, pre-Kelly). Sorry, thought that was clear via the first paragraph.

    4. Llellayena*

      What would happen if you started asking for the things Kelly is getting? Like “Can we do X process for this project the way we did for project Y (Kelly’s project)?” Or “I saw Kelly took X training class. Since there’s now a budget for this, can I take class Y?” You’re not accusing anyone of favorites, but you’re pointing out that the perks should be distributed across the board. For the in office schedule thing, is the agreed on schedule written down somewhere? Email or memo? If so, just keep doing what you’re doing until someone above Tara asks why the department is empty. Then you can say “Let me check the schedule…Check with Kelly, it’s her day to be in.”

    5. Bagpuss*

      You’re not being unreasonable.
      I think it would be reasonable for you to try to discuss this with Tara – for instance the issues with regard to having different, less flexible rules for you than Kelly, and the opportunities.

      With regard to the training, you can frame it as I know when I asked previously it wasn’t practical, but I know that Kelly has benefited from these courses, and as you know, they are something I have been interested in for a longtime and I feel will be beneficial for the department for x, y & z reasons. You can also propose that if there is a limited training budget tis should be allocated so that you all have equal opportunities.

      It’s possible that Tara will say that Kelly has more / more relevant experience and needs lower levels to supervision / input from her than you do, and if that’s the case then approach it as a development issue – ask her what you need to do to get to the point where she is willing to tp allow you the same flexibility / independence as Kelly, perhaps ask her to let you work on a project without the restrictions so you can demonstrate your ability to do so without close supervision.

      Sadly however,she isn’t required to be fair so she may simply decide that she is applying different standards and that’s it.

      Regarding the rota, decide what you want to achieve. Is the requirement to have someone present Tara’s requirement, or imposed from higherup? IS there anyone you can speak to above Tara, and do you want to risk burning your bridges with her by going over her head.
      If what you actually want is to not have to go in, or to go in less frequently, can you raise that with Tara – e.g. mention that you are aware that neither she nor Kelly has been going in as much as you, and that the department has still functioned with lower in-person presence, and propose that you also reduce your time in the office.
      I think an awful lot depends on your relationship with Tara – is she generally open to discussion or she likely to ignore your concerns?

    6. Malika*

      You are not being paranoid. She probably was able to state her case better, without getting flustered. People like Kelly don’t ask, they campaign to get things in a certain way. They don’t say they want training, they are only one step away from giving a PowerPoint as to how amazing the experience will be and what opportunities it will open up for the company. Introverts back off more quickly and don’t see that with a bit of calm and resilience they would get their way more often (I am severely introverted and working on my assertivity so i can feel I can say this without offending)(The Kellies of this world would not have added the first parenthesese, but oh well).

      The good news is that Kelly just did the grunt work of getting Tara to be more open-minded and flexible, and I would start expanding your rule set. She has opened up extra training, flexible workplace and more. Ask for what you want and Tara doesn’t have a leg to stand on if she refuses.

      I had a junior colleague who received more praise and notice than me while she had a third of my workload. My manager routinely ignored my work but would praise her on the company Slack, and it was very frustrating. Only when I left did they realize that they needed to hire several people to keep up with my workload. That’s not the fault of the junior, I should have learnt to get out of my shell and advocate more.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Kelly has some power here due to age and due to previous experiences.

      Unfortunately, Tara is not a high quality manager. And she was/still is swayed by whatever Kelly thinks. Kelly isn’t thinking about you, so Tara isn’t either. It’s time for you to think about you.

      I totally agree with asking for what you want here. And I think it’s time to pull out the resume as Kelly seems to be running your department now. Work two ends against the middle, such that you either have equal to what Kelly gets or you have a new job.

    8. Meep meep*

      Is it possible that you are holding yourself to a different set of standards and that you actually could operate more like Tara and Kelly? I suggest this because this is how I am – I take “rules” too seriously sometimes and find that sometimes I actually make things harder on myself and that a lot of the rules I

      What if you just start taking some of the same liberties as Kelly and Tara? What if you tried not showing up, like Kelly and Tara?

      Also, among your many reasonable complaints here, you have noted that Kelly often knows things about Tara’s life that you do not. I agree that their friendship does should not give Kelly work benefits that you do not have, but I’d just fight for the things you want most, like flexibility with your schedule and the ability to manage your projects more independently. Bringing up the interpersonal thing could just make you seem petty here.

      Have your discussed any of these issues with Tara?

  5. Maisie*

    Last Friday I vented on the Oct 23-24 open thread (below) about my brand new coworker who kept going to me instead of her boss for little issues, complained how all our accounts were a mess, how she used to be a manager, how she has nothing to do and then last week she did a task I was supposed to do without telling or asking anyone.

    WELL I have an update! Tuesday after I told my boss, he was super cool about it and said he would talk to my new coworker’s boss. The next day…I found out she did a HUGE task (think only a few steps, but a large product integration sync) that I was supposed to do. And she didn’t tell or consult with anyone! The only reason we found out was during a product call with our account manager that day, I asked our account manager how it was possible the integration happened without anyone manually doing it. Apparently when I spoke about it on the call, my new coworker pinged her boss (they were on the call also) and told him she was the one who integrated the product.(!!!) Her boss told my boss, and my boss told me. Allegedly she was trying to help and was super embarrassed, but I don’t buy that. She knew I was going to work on that project this week, and she didn’t even talk to her boss about it! And there was an integration error so she didn’t even do it correctly! 

    My boss told me that her boss said that he was training with her 1-2 hours each day, so the three of us were confused why she kept going to me with questions. But at least my boss is on my side, knows about her overstepping and has confirmed she shouldn’t be working on my accounts (but he was still professional about the situation). Sadly I don’t feel like I can trust my new coworker now and I’m weirded out.

    Oct 23-24 comment:
    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 currentlydoes) 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. AndersonDarling*

      I once had a trainer that swore up and down that she spent weeks training me, but all she did was book a one hour meeting and handed off a bunch of documentation that she didn’t understand. I had to go to other people to get answers and I never had a good understanding of what my role was.
      I wonder if the same thing is going on here. If New Coworker isn’t getting good direction, she may be doing any work so she can show her worth and keep her job. It’s possible that she is acting deviously, but she could also be struggling to figure out what she should be doing.

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

      She doesn’t sound like she’s adapting well to the step-down from managing. She might not stay. If there is any way to prevent her from accessing your accounts, that would be my suggestion; remove or lock your projects if they are in shared folders or have her access revoked. She shouldn’t need it anyway.

    3. WellRed*

      I think management across the board should be rubbing you the wrong way at this point. Are they actually managing? Training? Providing clear guidance, feedback and communication?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      That’s pretty random. Why did she just decide to do work that was not even assigned to her.

      I guess I would be done answering her questions, as that is how she did this thing that she was not supposed to do.

      Going forward, I would ask my boss about anytime she asked me questions on something. But to her face, I would redirect her to her boss. “You will have to ask Boss Bob, not me.”

      For her part in all this she did say she wanted to do X type work. It’s up to management to find that work for her, not for her to take work away from people who have already been assigned the task.

  6. August*

    Since we started working remotely in March, my team has gone from “frustrating but tolerable” to “an on-fire garbage can.” Some days I genuinely wonder if there’s something in the water. I feel like I’m going insane.

    I’m part of a small team of 4 other people. 6 of our staff meetings have devolved into screaming matches. I know 6 since March isn’t technically a lot, but it’s more than I’d like, honestly. It’s always my one coworker, “R,” yelling about something she’s dissatisfied with. Since I’m the newest staff member and am in charge of making our program digital, it’s usually my work she hates. She often switches to yelling at our manager, “J,” about working conditions and frustration with management. The other members of our team listen in silence for the entire hour-long Zoom meeting.

    J is brand new to management and a bit of a doormat. He initially tries to politely push back against R (we don’t need to speak in that tone, please let me know if you’re dissatisfied with my management practices, going digital is a massive undertaking and there will inevitably be some inconveniences, please be understanding, etc.) but about 30 min in always starts apologizing and praising R’s work. He’ll continue doing this in calls throughout the rest of the week to ensure that R knows how much she’s valued.

    But then, immediately after the meetings, J calls me to vent about how rude R is and no one appreciates J’s work?? I’ve tried everything from blandly supportive mm hm’s to outright saying “that’s really tough, but I don’t think this is an appropriate conversation for work.” And every time, J will, like a downtrodden Les Mis character, switch to lamenting how alone he feels and how he’s “an orphan in this world” (he is a grown man with a wife and children). After one particularly bad meeting, J started sniffling in his follow-up call to me and apologized, telling me that he was just especially emotional because that day was the anniversary of his uncle’s passing. 30 minutes of him holding back tears and going on about how much he missed Butterscotch (who is Butterscotch?! His uncle?! His cat?!) and how he regretted taking this promotion.

    I feel like a troll just looking at everything I’ve typed here, but this is the actual literal team dynamic I’ve been dealing with. I just! I don’t know what to do. This is so outside the realm of anything I’ve encountered before. I don’t even know what questions to ask the commentariat here, because I don’t know if there’s anything that can be helped. But, uh, any insight, advice, or general affirmations that this is not normal would be appreciated — it’ll tide me over while I job search.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      “…I know 6 since March isn’t technically a lot…” What??? ONE screaming match is far too many! There is zero reason for a meeting to ever devolve into screaming. I think your office is full of bees and you need to get out.

      Try and dissociate if you can, this office environment sounds so unhealthy. Alison has suggested pretending you’re an anthropologist observing the behavior of a new culture, perhaps that can help tide you over?

      Best of luck, I hope you get out soon!

      1. Lora*

        Your manager sucks, is what it is. How likely do you think it is that he will change?

        It’s really on your manager to shut ANY screaming down and tell R to take it offline, and then explain what the expectations are for professional interactions and put R on a PIP if necessary.

        It’s an awkward conversation, but short, and you should never have to have it with ANYONE more than twice, because the first one is “I’m giving you a chance to get your act together, this is not acceptable” and the second one is “act unprofessional in a meeting one more time and you will clean out your desk, is that understood” and then you’re DONE because if it ever happens again, you call security to have them escorted out with a box.

        It doesn’t matter if gold falls out of R’s mouth every time she yells. Nobody has to listen to that crap.

        1. August*

          That’s a hard one. I really sympathize with J, but I don’t know if he has it in him to use his authority like that. He’s emphasized since the beginning of his promotion that while his title is Account Manager, he still sees himself as an Account Analyst and doesn’t want any of his team to think he’s above us. Essentially, he wants to be a Cool Mom.

          I completely agree with what you’re outlining, though — it’s exactly what J’s boss would do! But I don’t know if J will ever do it. It doesn’t help that R is our top subject matter expert and is BFFs with another member of our team.

          1. Lora*

            He’s not a manager at all then. Or even much of an Account Analyst, because honestly even as an individual organizing meetings, you can say “not discussing that now, not appropriate, take it offline” and go directly to someone who does have authority.

            J is taking R WAAAAYYYY too seriously. There are other SMEs who do not yell like a-holes in this world, I promise you. If he didn’t want to be a manager, shouldn’t have accepted the promotion. Either way, sounds like time to leave.

        1. August*

          I’ve seen this question come up in AAM comment sections about bad workplace behavior before, and this is one of those “maybe I am overreacting?” factors in my current situation.

          R is the only one who yells. I wouldn’t call it horror movie-level screaming, but she noticably raises her voice and speaks very harshly. Like, the same volume I would use if I saw a friend at the end of the street and started calling their name, except it’s R yelling “this question is absurd, absoutely useless” at our manager over Zoom.

          1. Quinalla*

            You aren’t overreacting, you don’t raise your voice in anger at work. Let some frustration show on occasion, sure that’s fine, but anger shouting and for it sounds like at least half of a meeting?! Your manager is BAD. This employee shouldn’t be doing this, but R will never stop if J doesn’t start managing. good grief. Try to get out and also try to be unavailable next time J calls for an after meeting feelingsdump call, ugh.

    2. Dr. KMnO4*

      6 screaming matches in meetings is a lot. It’s too many. It wouldn’t matter if it was 6 over 6 years. It would still be too many. You aren’t a troll. You aren’t doing anything wrong. You’re stuck in a terrible situation with a manager who won’t manage and a coworker who is a jerk.

      The only advice I have is to do whatever you have to do to stay safe and sane. I hope your job search goes well and you can leave that garbage fire soon.

    3. the aesthetic of Tron: Legacy*

      I would shut down J as soon as he starts venting. You’re busy. You have to run a report. You just got an email that has to be taken care of, right now. You’re getting another call from someone important. Unfortunate timing!

      Is there any way you could tip off J’s boss that this is happening? Because honestly, your manager is out of line. He wants you to manage his emotions surrounding your pushy, demanding coworker, and that’s totally Not Okay.

      1. August*

        J mandates full access to our calendars and is always very interested in what we’re doing if it interferes with team calls/one-on-one’s. I’ve had to mark telehealth appointments as “Call with Diana” and pretend it’s a check-in with a client. If I say I have anything urgent, he switches to asking me if I really am overworked and if there’s anything I want to change (because one of R’s biggest staff meeting complaints is she’s being coerced to take on too much work and to work outside of her core hours).

        I would like to talk to J’s boss, but I honestly don’t know if that’d be helpful in the end. His boss might give him a talking-to, but the results would likely be either 1) he knows I was the complainant, freezes me out, and gives a lukewarm reference (because he would, from past experience, absolutely see this as a personal betrayal and mention it to anyone in a “I don’t want to gossip, but…” kind of way), or 2) he thinks R complained to his boss and vents about R to me, again.

        I’m still hoping that if I perfect the right uncomfortable “uh huh” noise, he’ll take the hint to end the conversation.

        1. Nicki Name*

          If you have to lie to your boss about medical appointments, that’s enough on its own to start looking for a new job!

        2. Tex*

          Tell him this is not normal workplace behavior, that doing nothing is only going to exacerbate problems, that by not managing R he is jeopardizing the well being of the rest of the team.

          His best bet is to seek advice from HR on how to shut this down (hopefully HR will make him accept that the end result should be terminating R). Appeal to his sense that it’s the team that matters, not J’s relationship with R.

          It seems like you’re hinting at it, not laying it out point blank. Yes, you’re new and feel like you don’t want to rock the boat but you can have a candid but gentle conversation as a someone with fresh eyes towards team dynamics. He obviously trusts you, so at the very least you are giving him something to think about.

          1. August*

            This is good language, I’m going to pocket it for if/when we have another bad staff meeting. Thank you!

        3. All the cats 4 me*

          Oh,wow, the calendar thing would blow me right out the door if nothing else. I use the ‘private’ setting for *anything* personal in my calendar, even a lunch, because…. it is private and has nothing to do with the firm and, totally unrelated, our lovely and pathologically nosy/gossipy receptionist has no idea that sharing every tiny detail of everyone’s lives to clients/couriers/homeless people is Not OK.

          I am totally onboard with keeping the team advised on when I am not available and with being available for important work meetings, etc. I do not consider them entitled to know what my personal commitments are.

          And as for your supervisor venting to you, Tron nailed it. Shut it DOWN. It is unprofessional, inappropriate, and harmful to you, to J, and to your coworkers. I don’t have a suggestion on HOW to bring it to the attention of the level above, but that definitely needs to happen if you can’t train J out of doing this. The next level should be seriously reconsidering J’s managerial abilities.

    4. Nesprin*

      There are some problems that can only be solved by leaving. Screaming staff meetings meets this threshold (maybe one screaming staff meeting acceptable in a crisis with extensive followup and clarification from management that this will not happen again).

      So consider yourself in “survive till you can get out” mode- now is the time to suddenly develop issues with your phone (battery charger gone missing for example), switch as many things to email as possible, and do the minimum required to keep yourself employed while you job search like no body’s business.

    5. Nicki Name*

      It’s on J to say “that’s enough about this topic, R, we’re moving to the next agenda item” or tell his boss that he doesn’t think he’s in the right role. If you’re not comfortable raising the issues with his boss or telling J that you’re not his therapist, all you can do is look for a less horrible work situation.

    6. Workerbee*

      With the addition of your comments in this thread, I would at this stage take advantage of J’s doormat behavior as such (within a range of your comfort level):

      -Don’t attend the team meetings at all.
      -Only attend up until the ridiculous behavior starts, then leave the meeting.

      When asked why, state matter-of-factly that you’re not getting any value out of them and your time would be more productive doing your work.

      When asked if your workload is too much or if you are overloaded, stay matter-of-fact and respond that no, it’s your normal workload, you’re just invested in making sure you stay on top of it and address clients in a timely manner, etc.

      If pressed, it’s your call if you want to bring up bluntly how the team calls seem to not serve their purpose due to R.

      In any case, book more nonsensical but professional sounding blocks on your calendar, especially after team meetings. Pretend you have a client call. Or Prep Work for X. Or Reading Time. Or Catch Up on Y. You are simply not available to listen to J weep.

      1. Vermont Green*

        If you’re on Zoom, and she starts acting out, send out a chat message saying something like, “This conversation is stressing me out. I’ll be back in five minutes.” Turn off your sound and video for five minutes and then check back in. Repeat. Commiserate with your boss afterwards.

    7. Swirly Twirls Gumdrops*

      Next team meeting, ask if you can be the zoom “host” or moderator or whatever that role is for your software, and when R starts on a rant, just mute her from your side and say, “on to the next subject”

  7. Sunflower*

    My company laid off a bunch of people this week. I’ve been casually job searching but how much should I ramp up? First time I’m experiencing something like this. For background, it seems they are laying off the support folks who have been in their jobs for 20+ years, jobs are mostly ad hoc work and outsourcing to cheaper cities (I am in a HCOL city, my job is in support, not ad hoc and I was hired a year ago).

    A lot of people are beyond upset- mostly about lack of communication especially after we were promised to keep our jobs through the pandemic(this obviously changed when they realized we wouldn’t be WFH for only 2 months) and communication turned vague after. There are people who really believe this company is an amazing place that cares about their employees and they are understandably very hurt. My company prides itself on caring about its employees and being completely transparent. I’ve been relatively unhappy since I started here and never bought into this company culture but it’s really tough to see my coworkers have their ideals shattered.

    I had little motivation to care before and I can’t decide if I’m motivated to work harder or stop caring entirely but I think it’s the latter.

    1. Been There*

      LOOK NOW! I worked for a similar company that prided itself on how it treated it’s employees. At the start of the pandemic they reassured employees that even if revenue dropped to zero, they could make full payroll for 6 months. Then the next week they enforced 30% cuts. Over time they gradually brought people back to only a 15% cut. Then the week when we were FINALLY going back to full pay (4 months later), they laid off 1/3 of my department (including me). So some of us are going to have a REALLY hard time repaying our savings accounts since we just have unemployment now (and no federal boost).

      Don’t believe a word they say. They’ll tell you anything to keep productivity up.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Definitely ramp up your job search if only for the fact that your company wasn’t transparent about the layoffs. They may only be getting rid of the more tenured staff due to budget reasons now, but there’s no guarantee that they won’t need to make further cuts, and as you’ve only been with them for a year, you may not survive the next round of layoffs.

      I hope the laid off employees at your company got a severance package on the way out. Otherwise? Ugh.

    3. MissGirl*

      Ramp up!! Why the heck not. Don’t worry about making a decision until you have an offer. Then you can debate whether to stay or go.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting your lifeboat ready if it looks like the ship might be sinking.

    5. Xenia*

      Ramp up now. The worst thing that could happen if you do is that you get an offer and choose to decline it. If you don’t then your worst case scenario is being unemployed with no job prospect.

  8. FearNot*

    Does anyone have any tips or experiences to share about large zoom-type gatherings that went well for you? We have several virtual retirements coming up that I am trying to find an effective yet still satisfying-for-the-attendees way of handling. Probably at least 100 people.

    1. PlantProf*

      I haven’t tried it much myself, but I’ve been hearing good things about gather.town—you move a little avatar around the screen and end up joining video calls with the people you’re near. Someone I know went to a conference that used it for their social hours, and said it worked much better for mingling than other things she’d been in. Former colleagues of mine have set up a little reproduction of their hallway with the offices and classrooms, so that students can just come in and “visit” them for office hours.

      1. Nita*

        That sounds amazing! I’ll have to look it up, and maybe suggest it to my team. We just had an annual training thing on Zoom, and it turns out Zoom can do “breakout rooms,” which worked OK. But this seems a little less formal (on Zoom only the “host” can run the room) and good for mingling.

        1. merope*

          We used Zoom breakout rooms for a social event. By making everyone in the Zoom a host, you then give them the freedom to move from room to room, circulating as they might at an actual event. It worked pretty well.

    2. The New Normal*

      Zoom Webinar is helpful if there are just a few people “presenting” or who are going to talk to the retiree. Set the retiree as a host so they can be heard, then their boss or a few others as panelists so they can guide it. Attendees can use the chat and Q&A to get live interaction.

    3. jay*

      Curious to hear other comments – but any large zoom style meetings have been more of a presentation style. Where all participants are muted for the presentation (a slide show or management talking about something) but then attendees can raise their hand, unmute to speak and then re-mute. That’s probably the best way to go with this. You could run a slideshow about the person retiring, their manager/President can unmute to say a few words and then other employees can volunteer to say a few words (maybe something you ask prior to the event so you have a few people lined up so it’s not awkward), if people don’t want to speak but would like to leave a comment and then a moderator could read those comments.

      I would suggest if you have several of these, that if it’s the same circle of employees for the most part, that you consider combining them into one event vs having several separate. Unless the audience is drastically different.

    4. higheredrefugee*

      I had 60+ family members on for zoom to celebrate my cousin’s 40th birthday. We used the speaker highlight feature so whoever was toasting could speak, the share screen to do a slideshow, and then used the breakout rooms for smaller group convos. It worked really well, and we’re a loud, noisy bunch! Good luck!

    5. riverflows*

      I’ve attended 50+ Zoom meetings with engagement that was really well done. Here are my takeaways:
      – Have a host and a chat moderator. The Host will have to be savvy enough to share screen to display presentation, or have a 3rd person who will assist on the presentation (visual and audio)
      – Everyone joins muted, but have an agenda where there are 1-4 different agenda items where people can unmute themselves to participate. Ask ahead of time for some people who are expected to say something, and have host call on them, and then open the floor to others. Ask others to type in the chat for any kudos or short statement for the engagement episode.
      – Chat moderator can highlights some important / funny / moving tributes or statements for those too shy to participate on video.
      – Gather all chats in the end to preserve for future.

    6. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      When my synagogue did High Holidays services, it was presentation-style with everyone on camera but muted. At the end the admin highlighted each attendee for ten or fifteen seconds, and we all waved and smiled like we were on the Jumbotron at Yankee Stadium. Private chat in the chat box was also encouraged. It was a really nice way to feel like we were all together and to see everyone’s familiar faces without the call being a clutter of noise. Anyone who didn’t want to stick around for that part could just sign off.

      If you think this might work well, you can let people know in advance so people can be prepared to be on camera. Depending on how much the retiree will be missed, you could mention the option of holding up “WE’LL MISS YOU SALLY” signs or similar, but don’t push that if you think anyone will feel pressured to do something elaborate when they really can’t wait for Sally to be gone.

    7. LogicalOne*

      We had a company-wide Zoom meeting back in August. Our company is just over 100 people. It went well. The only issues we ran into were issues that most people have (staff forgetting to mute themselves, staff you can’t hear well, staff forgetting to unmute themselves, etc.) Most were able to join and those who didn’t have a webcam or couldn’t figure out how to set up Zoom on their tablets or smartphones, joined via the phone number that was provided that they could call in. Don’t be surprised if some don’t show up or have technological issues and they make it in late or don’t make it in at all. If this is many staff members first time doing Zoom meetings, you may want to give them an advanced notice to work out any kinks, software updates, etc. Good luck and have fun!

    8. Yorick*

      If there are naturally smaller groups, try making breakout groups for people to spend some time in. They can chat with each other while the retiree goes from room to room to talk to smaller groups, which makes it easier than trying to talk to all 100 people at once.

      We tried to do this in our Zoom wedding but it didn’t go that well since we didn’t set it up in advance. But once we were able to do it, it was pretty nice.

  9. Loopy*

    TLDR: how do I not go insane when nothing I do is every truly done?

    Any advice for working on a project where despite high performance you don’t get the sense of any progress on a project due to things 100% outside of your control? For examples sake, people far above often changing direction that requires rework. I am working hard and doing well by the feedback I get… But feeling like I am trapped living the same 2-3 months or work over and over. It’s so discouraging and I don’t know how to feel like I’m really doing well when none of my hard work can be implemented/show results.

    1. CR*

      I wish I had advice but I am in this situation right now. I need other people to step up and do their part and they aren’t!

      1. Loopy*

        This is so hard! I was okay with it for a while but now on the third go round that’s dragging out worse than ever, I’m starting to get gloomy!

    2. MissGirl*

      I remind myself I’m getting paid to do the work even if the work never gets done. Change your definition of success.

      1. Loopy*

        This is great advice and I’ll try it. It’s just also hard to be stuck doing the same work never endingly! I’d love to move on to something new for a change of pace!

        1. MissGirl*

          I totally understand. Is this all your work or only part of it? If it’s all, can you talk to your manager about taking on a small side project?

          1. Loopy*

            We do have some options I could explore but unfortunately I am also swamped so anything additional is not an option now. Hopefully in the future I can use this!

    3. Generic Name*

      No fun. I’ve been working on a giant project, and part of the nature of that type of work is I need to get certain design information from the engineers. It’s normal for the design information to change as they continue to design what they’re building, but we often go through multiple iterations of design information, which causes hours of work on my end. I’m meticulous with tracking stuff on my projects, so I started numbering the different design changes (rather than saving the build date) with the rest of the file name. Maybe it’s petty, but it did help my frustration to know that the last round of work took seven iterations of design before they finally stopped sending me new files. That way when I was on the fourth and final iteration, I didn’t feel so bad. I also kept in mind that I am paid to do the work regardless of how many times it took me.

    4. PossumToTheMoon*

      I so know what that is like. As a freelancer I learned to set a limit on revisions (because even if the work is paid it IS NOT my thing to keep redoing work like you described.) Moved to am agency and it was the hardest adjustment for me. I started keeping notes on pain points and tried to find a pattern. I ended up working with my direct supervisor to set up a new workflow with the clients we worked with (lucky for me she was supportive!) and we basically divided the parts of our projects that seemed to get stuck in repeat into smaller approval sections. Bam it worked and we basically never had to worry about completing stuff over and over. The notes were a big help to me though, keep a little sticky notes file and just track stuff and maybe you can have the same kind of luck!

  10. lala*

    So I work at an org where I don’t really trust leadership and feel like their financial processes are pretty darn fast and loose. I’ve just gotten a new job and given my two weeks (yay!)

    I had been getting a request from the org that fiscally oversees ours to do a fraud questionnaire for one of the grants I work on basically asking if I know or suspect there could be anything hinky going on with where money or time is going associated with the grant. It is not anonymous.

    Is this a normal best practice? I’ve never been asked to do it before and it’s rubbing me the wrong way that I, the absolute lowest rung of this organization, am being forced to make a choice between going on permanent record about federal funding either saying “all good here!” or doing some sort of unanonymous and vague whistle blowing exercise.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Actually, it sounds like the overseeing organization is concerned about financial mismanagement! But they’re doing it terribly. If there is anything that you’re aware of, then you might see if there’s an anonymous hotline you could call. Otherwise, for the non-anon questionnaire, I’d probably keep it bland. “Opportunities to standardize/strengthen/improve policy” is a bland way to not lie.

    2. Elle Woods*

      Don’t do it. You’ve got 2 weeks. Just wait it out and “forget” to do it before you leave. You have nothing to gain & lots to lose by filling out this form. You would be going on the record to make a fraud documentation. Or documentation of non- fraud. Either way, it’s a declaration you don’t want to give with 2 weeks to go. If they ask you about tell them yes, you’re working on it. Then never do it.

        1. Elle Woods*

          Then I’d go with Little Teapot’s answer. But maybe also try telling them you’re working on it & will have it before you leave. You could have the bland answer if you absolutely can’t get out without turning in the form, but you still might be able to get out without actually turning it in.

        2. Zombeyonce*

          Have they said why you can’t be anonymous? If not, I would outright ask them why that’s not an option and ask if they’d reconsider? Even then, it might be obvious since you’re leaving. Even the IRS lets people report anonymously, and they incentivize with a reward (a percentage of the fraud). As Elle Woods said, you’re getting absolutely no gain by reporting and plenty of potential for loss. If you’re speaking with someone directly, I’d mention that (but not in writing, only over the phone). Let them respond to that and see if you’re willing to reconsider based on what they say. They can’t force you to make a report. They have no leverage here.

          1. lala*

            I think it would be obvious given the size of the organization. I ended up doing it, but anything that I didn’t totally feel comfortable with I just said that I wasn’t involved enough on the finance side to comment.

  11. Been There*

    Hi all. Interesting article on LinkedIn today and I was curious of hiring manager’s opinion of the advice listed.

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/dealing-with-job-search-rejection-5325778/

    The first comment was from someone saying “After not being selected for a position, the company recruiter accepted connection request on LinkedIn — do keep your “no’s”, they might have another position soon!”

    HIRING MANAGERS: Do you recommend this? I would feel it’s intrusive unless you were the second or third choice for a role. While I have LinkedIn with hiring managers for roles I was not selected for, it was on their verbal request (or accepting the request that they sent me).

    What are your thoughts?

    1. TCO*

      I guess I don’t think of LinkedIn as very “intrusive.” I am connected on LinkedIn with all sorts of weak and tertiary connections, so getting a request from a candidate, even one I didn’t get to know particularly well, wouldn’t bother me at all. The entire point of LinkedIn is to cultivate a broad network on a platform that’s less personal/intrusive than Facebook or Instagram.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      A hiring manager is different from a recruiter.

      I’d say connect w/hiring managers on their request, and maybe even reach out if you feel like there was a really good fit.

      Recruiters are all about connections. Much lower bar there … connect away!

    3. ArtsNerd*

      I think it’s perfectly fine if you reached the interview stage and had a good rapport, and just weren’t moved forward because of the other applicants were a better fit. I’ve had folks request to add me as soon as their applications were submitted and that was off-putting because it felt like “gumption” and I think the same would apply if they didn’t get so far as a phone screen.

      That said, we’re an org that only hires one person every few years because we’re very small and don’t have a ton of turnover outside of one role. Almost all of the turnover is in our entry-level position (because it’s not full-time and there’s no room to move up), so I will absolutely reach out to former candidates to encourage them to re-apply if they’re still interested.

      I suspect someone with a much larger staff would have a different dynamic with this stuff.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      As a hiring manager, yes absolutely connect with me on LinkedIn – there’s no downside as far as I can tell.

    5. Malika*

      If you had a great rapport with the hiring manager and recruiter, it could be a plus to do so. You can keep in touch and a future job opportunity may come up sometime down the road.

    6. ...*

      Its so so minor I wouldn’t even contemplate it. It would not even register as something in existence to me.

  12. ThatGirl*

    I was off for a week and started working again yesterday. I just happened to miss a big Town Hall meeting and follow-up — all online, so the follow-up was the leadership team answering questions that arose after the first one. The tl;dr of it is that there are big changes coming to make us a better company. And while I’m heartened that our leadership seems to have an understanding of what the problems are, they’re still kind of maddeningly fuzzy about how we’re actually going to solve them. “Transformation” – ok, great, what does that mean? And of course they sort of slipped in that yes, there will be some layoffs (along with new positions — it truly sounds like a focus on adding people where we need them and trimming where we don’t). Which IMMEDIATELY everyone honed in on and started panicking about. I’m trying to be chill — I don’t think my position is at risk and if it is, well, what on earth can I do about it? Besides be prepared for a job search if needed, I guess.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Right – that’s all you can do at the moment, though I do understand where your panicking coworkers are coming from. It’s brutal to be laid off in the middle of a pandemic that seemingly has no end and with the economy in the toilet for the foreseeable future. I would make sure my resume was up-to-date, and then move on.

      My company has also let some people go recently – but we’re a software company, and constant reorgs are apparently A Thing with us as we move new products up to the fore and scale back others. I just do my work to the best of my ability right now and pray I don’t end up chopped (my manager, the senior director of my department, has told me repeatedly he thinks our jobs are safe because we’re the only ones who do what we do here, but you never know).

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t blame anyone for panicking, for sure. I think most of us will be fine, but without firm numbers or dates or anything the vagueness and uncertainty can make things worse. I get it. If one of my coworkers reached out panicking I wouldn’t blow them off or tell them they were being ridiculous!

        I do wish every company in the country wasn’t so purposefully vague about this crap. Like, if they could give an estimate of how MANY positions might be eliminated, or WHEN, that would help. You know they know! But it never happens that way.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Right – that would be so helpful. How do they expect people to work at a high level when they’re terrified they’ll be let go any second? It never made sense to me.

    2. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I would start job searching now. They may not have intended to freak people out, but by being vague, of course people leaped to a negative conclusion about their job stability. They shouldn’t be surprised when people start leaving in their own.

      1. ThatGirl*

        While I know from past experience that I can never be 100% secure, given the direction the company is heading I would extremely surprised if my job was on the chopping block.

        That said, my resume is up to date, and I keep my eyes open for interesting positions. I do not really want to hardcore job search unless I know I have to, though.

    3. My Favorite Latte*

      I was an eerily similar situation to yours earlier this year. My (now former) team gave us the same speech and ended up doing a reorg where team members had to reinterview for their current positions. Lots of stuff went down, including some layoffs and many folks who ended up getting a position within the new team but in a lower seniority position and at a significant paycut. Also, they timed it so that folks would not be paid out their annual bonus, which feels extra icky after working all year for it.

      I had been looking for another position for months and landed an internal role early on, so I didn’t get caught up in this nonsense. My advice is to job search like crazy and get ahead of the curve.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thing is, I’m not otherwise interested in a new job right now. I’d like to stay where I am for the time being. (Also bonuses are not a thing with us, so I don’t have that to worry about.) Like I said above, I’ll be ready to hit the ground running if I need to, but I don’t really see a need to job search.

  13. Frustrated New Attorney*

    I just graduated law school this May and started at a tiny law firm in August (only one other attorney and myself). I love my work. I am getting hands-on experience that my friends in big law firms are not. It’s great!

    But.

    This job frustrates me in a few ways, however. First, I think I’m paid under market value for my medium-sized midwestern city (although if I’m wrong, please correct me–I really do want to have all of the correct information). I make $50k a year, which is hardly more than I made before law school. My friends in similarly sized law firms in our area (1-10 attorneys) are paid around $75k-$80k. I’m able to pay my bills, but I have undergrad debt and now law school debt. I’m basically living the same lifestyle I had in college. I did negotiate as much as I could, but it was the only offer I received—despite doing well in law school and applying to dozens of firms—so I felt like I had to take it. I cannot afford to be unemployed.

    Second, my boss and I have wildly different communication styles. They expect the work product of a 2nd or 3rd year associate and, let’s be honest, I’ve only been doing this for three months. I have NO idea what the hell I’m doing. I feel like I’m constantly disappointing them because I cannot meet their wildly high expectations. We do not have regular meetings to get feedback. I suggested we start having weekly 1:1s, or even biweekly meetings, but nothing has come to fruition yet. I completely lack confidence to do well in this role and I don’t feel like I’m getting the support and training I need to do well.

    This is my first post-law school job so I don’t want to leave right away if I can help it. Thanks to COVID there aren’t a lot of legal jobs in my city (part of the reason I took *this* job) and networking with other lawyers hasn’t even been an option. I’m a first gen college grad and law grad so I’m navigating totally uncharted territory. I recognize my perspective could be wildly inaccurate–please correct me if that’s the case. AAM commentariat, do you have any tips for how to survive or even thrive in this position for the next year or so? How long should I even stay? When did you start feeling like a confident “grown up” at work instead of a kid who keeps disappointing their teacher?

    1. irene adler*

      Not an attorney, but is there a bar association in your area? Are you a member?
      Can they be asked to provide a mentor for you? Thinking in terms of a career mentor. They would be a source for checking if what you are experiencing is ‘normal’ or ‘off’. And they would be able to suggest career ideas/moves that would benefit you.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m in a mid-size midwestern city, and I have lawyer friends that were given the same starting salary at their first post-grad jobs – but this was back in the 2009-2013 window. It sounds like that firm hasn’t increased their pay scale since then, which is concerning – are they frugal in the event that their industry takes another downturn, or are they having serious financial trouble already?

      I also worked as a paralegal at a firm between 2011-2013 that paid us well below the market rate for paralegals in the midwest – come to find out, they had quarterly layoffs due to funding issues. There were no raises for the majority of the staff and attorneys (I think I was the only person that received a raise – of 30 cents – one year while everyone else got squat), our benefits were trash, and sadly, this wasn’t too uncommon for firms in my area at the time.

      Are you dead-set on the firm life? Because I know my company (a software firm) is currently looking for lawyers to do remote legal work since we just went public and need compliance guidance and the like. You could try looking to go in-house for things like that depending on your area of focus – those jobs often pay more.

      Good luck.

      1. Frustrated New Attorney*

        My boss was a solo practitioner before I joined on. They do plaintiffs work entirely on contingency. I don’t think the firm is in financial trouble at all; instead, I think it’s a combination of my boss has never hired an associate so they don’t know what the market rate is and extreme frugality.

        I’m not necessarily dead-set on firm life at all! I really value having work-life balance, something that is incredibly hard to find in law.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          My boss was a solo practitioner before I joined on.

          This explains so much, lol. Can you find comp salaries for positions similar to yours and take them to her to show that you’re underpaid? It may help if she had concrete information in her hands and not just you saying, “Hey, this salary seems pretty low for what I do.” If you’ve already done that and she didn’t budge, well, maybe try to tough it out for a year while job searching for something better paying, preferably in-house in an industry/field that hasn’t been particularly hard hit by Covid and the recession (software companies seem to be doing well right now for example).

    3. Another JD*

      I’d say you’re on the low end of the pay scale, but getting $75k with no experience sounds high. That also depends on work/life balance. If your billable hours are lower, your salary will be too.

      Training a baby lawyer is a TON of work, which it sounds like your boss didn’t anticipate. Of course you don’t know how to practice law because you haven’t done it before. It’s totally different than being in school. See if you can find an intro to civil practice CLE from your local bar, that should walk you through a lot of the basics for your jx. Also check your Lexis/Westlaw package to see if you have access to any practice manuals.

      When you meet with your boss, do you have an agenda?

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        I was going to say the same about baby lawyers. If you are asked to prepare an X, you could ask if the firm has handled X’s before, maybe there’s a pleading file you can use as a template. Our office did family law and instead of reinventing the wheel we’d tell the summer clerk “its facts are similar to the Jones file, go pull that”. We had an intern who read up on proofs of service rather than just preparing one, saying he needed to know why he was doing something. He was told “because partner says so”. He did not last long.

      2. Frustrated New Attorney*

        Training a baby lawyer is a TON of work, which it sounds like your boss didn’t anticipate.

        Nope–my boss did not anticipate this *at all.* They said, “I hired you to make my life easier–you need to hand me work that is perfect.” Which sure, I get, I want to hand in good work, but expecting perfection out of a completely inexperienced lawyer is not realistic.

        1. emmelemm*

          Well, that sucks (and isn’t right). My partner is a lawyer and his first job out of law school was with basically a solo practitioner (there may have been one other lawyer as well?), and he really felt like he was mentored and learned a lot. He got very lucky.

          I don’t think, in any size law firm, that the expectation can be that someone who literally *just* graduated from law school turns in work that needs no review and stands on its own.

          1. Frustrated New Attorney*

            I’m glad this isn’t just me. They had some valid feedback about my work but it got inappropriately personal and kind of mean very quickly. Which is why I’m so frustrated in this role only two months in.

            1. ampersand*

              Oooh now that you say that, this sounds like a different problem. Being underpaid and expected to know more than is reasonable at this stage in your career isn’t great (though it is generally addressable), but your boss being unkind and making personal jabs is absolutely not okay (and more difficult to address).

    4. jay*

      Not a lawyer – but a few comments:

      1. I’ve noticed with salary (right or wrong) there are tradeoffs, you mention making less than some friends but you are getting hands-on experience that they aren’t getting. That’s the tradeoff. Are they traveling to say downtown Chicago for work but you have a 15 minute commute to a suburb? Do you have more soft benefits – office lunches? more flexibility with your schedule? You’ll need to decide what is more important to you and what that trade off is worth. (For my own experience, I work in a small town about 20 minutes from my house/kids school. I have flexible hours, can take long lunches, work from home (pre-covid if a kid was sick or had to wait for the repair man I could work from home), however the trade off is I make probably $15-20k less than what I’d make if I was willing to drive an hour+ each way to work, without traffic, not be able to get my kids from school or join them for class activities. For me, the lesser salary is worth it).

      2. In my experience – if you are not getting feedback and they aren’t saying anything – you are probably doing fine. I suspect a lot of this may be in your own head and it’s you working on that level of confidence. For support and training – there’s so much online and you have probably resources within the office, take initiative to research and learn new things.

      Don’t be afraid to speak up and take that initiative – instead of suggesting 1-1 meetings (I think weekly is a bit much, monthly is more normal), just schedule it, send your boss a calendar invite, 30 minutes and then at that time, walk in. Prepare your agenda though – keep it simple – three items (maybe a general question you are curious about – ask for feedback on something you did – ask about an upcoming project).

      I’d stay as long as possible – the grass isn’t always greener and for the fact you say you love your work and are getting great experience. If you can at least go 2-3 years, it would be beneficial.

      As for feeling like a confident grown up at work – I’m 38 and still don’t always feel like a grown up.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I went to a gathering a couple years ago where there were several lawyers I really looked up to a lot when I was a baby lawyer and before I even knew the words came out of my mouth, I sort of squealed (happily), “all my grownups are here!” They laughed and then a baby lawyer said to me, “and you’re one of my grownups.” I’m all verklempt thinking about that just now.

      2. Frustrated New Attorney*

        There are definite tradeoffs. Unless we are in trial/arbitration/an especially busy period, I don’t work more than 40 or 45 hours a week. My friends earn more than me, but also live in a *much* lower cost of living city in the same state. On the other hand, they don’t have as much flexibility with their schedule as I do and they aren’t getting their hands on substantive work like I am. I am definitely fortunate in that regard.

        I’ve been experimenting on communication methods with my boss and keeping mental notes of what works and what doesn’t work. There’s been *some* slight improvement, but it’s still been rough. I’m hoping to stick it out for at least two years. Hopefully.

    5. CatCat*

      I don’t think this “sink or swim” approach is uncommon in the law (been there, done that!) and it doesn’t seem you’re going to get the training from the lawyer you’re working under. But what about outside training opportunities? Would the firm pay for that?

      Why isn’t networking with other lawyers an option? Not necessarily to find another job right now, but to learn from other lawyers’ experiences. Look into local and specialty bar associations (there may even be one dedicated to “young lawyers” new to practice!). It’s a great way to meet people! I get that in-person events may not be happening, but even online events could help you become familiar with the local scene.

      1. Frustrated New Attorney*

        I’ll have to check out the online networking events–I hadn’t even thought of that! My city’s bar association is laughably bad, but the state bar might have something better going on.

        1. CatCat*

          Yeah, see also if you can find specialty bar associations. I never joined the local county bar group or went to their events, but I did join the local women’s lawyer group and went to their events and also a group dedicated to a particular practice area. There definitely may be state level options too if nothing pans out locally!

    6. Junior with Two Cents*

      Just a junior lawyer with my own two cents here. It’s been over three years since I graduated law school and started working in law firms. Based on my experience and that of my peers, I think what you’re going through is extremely common in the field and you shouldn’t feel bad about it! It really sucks that this is common, however.

      Can’t comment on the pay as I work in another (common law) country. But I sympathize a lot with wanting to just take whatever opportunity comes your way when you have tons of debt and the current global situation. I think you have the right idea in at least trying to stick it out while you can.

      I’m guessing your boss was a sole practictioner prior to your joining the firm? They may not be used to working with an associate if they haven’t done so for a while, or they may not be really clear on what having a new call as an associate entails. I’m curious to know what makes you think they are dissatisfied with your work product.

      One on ones would be helpful for your learning but I find lawyers are notoriously hyper focused on results. So while you’re saying let’s have meetings, your boss is likely thinking, what is the point of this standing meeting? I can’t bill for it? So if you have a particular set of files that you want to discuss with them, just tell them hey let’s talk about X file Y file and Z file! I’m confused and don’t know what to do. Let’s set aside time on ABC date if you have time in your calendar? Do make sure that you’ve made reasonable efforts to figure it out on your own, however, whether it’s through legal research or just looking at similar files that the firm has already done before.

      If you are looking for more general mentorship type hearings where your boss talks about how to be a lawyer more generally without specific reference to a file, I don’t know the situation well enough to know if that’s something your boss will ever do. Likely this sort of discussion will not happen in a meeting where you’re scheduled to discuss it. It may come up organically or it may not come up at all, it really depends on your relationship with your boss.

      Also it is totally normal to feel like you’re floundering and don’t know what you’re doing! I think law grads are really accustomed to being a rock star throughout school and any previous employment they had and being thrown into the practice of law headfirst is pretty disorienting. I can tell you that for me the feeling still lingers and at this point I think it likely always will. You just get more comfortable with it. In fact I think it’s better that it remains – keeps you on your toes and makes sure you always do your best for your clients. If you get overconfident that’s where you’re going to begin to fail your clients. I will say something clicked big time after running a couple of trials and I relaxed a bit after figuring out the big picture. If you’re in litigation you’ll have that to look forward to.

      Hope this helps, I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated. But you’re only two months in! Plenty of time for things to change.

    7. HowDidIEndUpBeingALawyer?*

      There are a lot of legal training videos online, many of them free, about all sorts of legal tasks, like how to interview clients, take depositions, etc. Watching some of these may demystify some things for you and bolster your confidence. They have helped me to at least understand jargon and legal tasks i’ve never done. And i’ve been practicing decades!

      It always took me a year to feel comfortable in a new job, and you are a newbie in a complex profession in a tiny office with little support. No wonder you feel at sea! Totally normal, try to be kind to yourself.

      It sounds like there’s not a lot of extra money around, but West LegalEdCenter also has a lot of trainings-but they’re expensive. Try finding free ones first. Look at Stetson University trainings and others. Good luck! Come back and tell us how it’s going.

    8. LadyByTheLake*

      Lawyer here — I am really sorry you are going through this. It is clear that your boss has very unrealistic expectations. As others have pointed out, training a Baby Lawyer is a massive undertaking. I started in BigLaw and there they commonly said that associates were no good to them for the first two years, and the other associates I worked with also said that it took two years before they felt like they had any idea of what was going on. And that was at a BigLaw firm that had established training and mentorship programs. So don’t feel like YOU are failing here, your boss is failing with wildly unreasonable expectations.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of advice to add — I will say that going in house is not a viable option for you right now. In house we have no training and we really do expect people to be independent contributors from day one. In house we expect the lawyers we hire to have been thoroughly trained and seasoned before they come to us. I do agree with trying to reach out to the Bar Association, look particularly for groups that focus on your practice area. Many lawyers enjoy mentoring others, and those are the same people who tend to have leadership positions in local bar associations. Good luck!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I will say that going in house is not a viable option for you right now

        This isn’t true across the board. My company is hiring now for legal positions and the hiring manager is open to training up a fresh lawyer to do the work (and this is a guy who actually trains people because he essentially wants to mold his employees in his image, lol). It doesn’t hurt OP to keep that option on the table while still working hard in her current gig to get the experience.

    9. Delta Delta*

      Former baby lawyer here. Here are my suggestions:

      1. You’ve suggested having meetings but that hasn’t happened. Schedule them and make it so they happen. In order for the meetings to be productive, send your boss a list of things you want to cover/work on/cases to conference, etc. ahead of time so you’re on the same page. Suggest doing it at lunch, or some other time when you know they’re “captive” and likely to be able to listen. Speaking from my own experience, try to have the meeting in a room other than your boss’s office, where they won’t get distracted by emails or the phone.

      2. Say these exact words, “I have only been doing this for three months.” Your boss will correct your work or want it done a certain way, and that’s okay. If they’re looking for something more sophisticated than you’re able to do, remind them you’re new to practice. Your boss will likely remember that they also didn’t know how to do everything in their first few years. Maybe they can tell you stories about things they did starting out and how they learned things.

      3. You can also seek mentoring in other places. State/county/local bar association/divisions exist for this exact reason. I am sure you qualify as a young lawyer: take advantage of young lawyer rates and programs.

      4. $50k might be a little low, but it’s also a starting salary and you are a starting lawyer. As you are able to generate more work, more billing, and more revenue, you should discuss with your boss how your compensation should look. Would you potentially have a base salary and a percentage of what you generate? That’s a good way to increase your earnings while also increasing your work as you become more able to take on more.

      5. Don’t leave yet. Wherever you go you’ll still be a baby lawyer, earning the bottom of the scale, and you still won’t fully understand how to practice. Use this job to transform your skills, make connections, and learn as much as you can.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I can’t speak to your area and I am in the UK not US so there may be differences , but as a lawyer my salary has was pretty closing linked to my billing target and actual – if this is the case where you are (and definitely join your local bar associating, look out for young lawyer groups and the like so you can compare easily) then you will be in a stronger position to negotiate a salary increase when you can refer it to your billing – if you are billing (say) 6 times your salary and the normal multiplier is 4.5x salary then you would be in a strong position to argue for a salary increase.
      You may find that your firm charges lower hourly rates than the firms you are comparing with, and this is likely to affect what they pay in salary – again, this may give you a basis to suggest to your boss that you review your charging rates, or it may be that your firm occupies a different niche and that your boss doesn’t feel it is realistic to increase prices.

      It sounds as though both you and your boss are learning as you go along – they perhaps didn’t know, or had forgotten, what it is like to be a NQ lawyer and how much you learn after you qualify – maybe rather than suggesting a regular one to one, since they don’t seem receptive, make notes of specific queries and things you are doing then ask them if they are free to go over a few things – they may be easier to ‘catch ‘ in the moment rather than committing to a regular meeting.

      I’m on the other side of this – I am a partner in a smallish firm and we recently took on a trainee for the first time in years, and for the last 6 months of their training, and when they qualified (here you have a 2 year training contract doing on-the-job training, after you complete your degree and post grad study and before you qualify fully as a solicitor) they came into my department. It has definitely been a fairly steep learning curve for both of us as I have to try to think back 20 years to what I did and didn’t know when I first qualified and it is a lot of work to train a ‘baby lawyer’ and to find the right balance without either micromanaging or letting them flounder. And my firm is bigger than yours, so I have the advantage of being ableto discuss with my partners what it is reasonable to expect.

      However, the reality is that to start with, once you factor in salary and other costs, and the cost of time of the more senior person to train and supervise, employing you may be costing them rather than showing a profit, in these early months.

      Also, based on my own experience, a tiny firm with 1-2 lawyers isn’t the same as a small one with 2-10 lawyers ,and more than the 2-10 lawyer firms are the same as those with 25-50 lawyers. Your boss probably already has to spend a bigger proportion of their time in non-fee earning work as they don’t have anyone else to share the management work with, than they would even in a 2-partner firm, and they don’t have anyone to offload any of that onto so they can focus on training and supervising your work.

      Obviously they ought to have considered those things before hiring you, and planned for how to mange the new responsibilities, but I think that comes back to it being a steep learning curve for you both.

      I’m not sure how you can fix the unrealistic expectations but it may be a case of referencing it specifically – e.g. “can I review x with you – as you know, I haven’t ever done this before and want to check it is correct – I appreciate that you would like me to be able to do this myself but I do need to review it with you at least once, before I feel confident in doing it myself without support, and I may need to ask further questions until I gain more experience” You can even possible flag that what they are asking you to do is comparable to what other firms are expecting people with 2-3 years experience to do.

      You could also ask if they prefer you to contact them with questions as they come up or to approach them once a day / week with a list of things you need to review, to try to find a solution that works for you both.

      In a larger firm there would probably be more formal arrangements for training which would make it easier to navigate.

      Are there any mentoring programmes locally which might enable you to access support from other more senior lawyers? Obviously you need to be mindful of confidentiality issues but you might find they are helpful if you can access anything of that kind.

    11. Frustrated New Attorney*

      Thank you everyone for your responses! Although I haven’t been able to respond to everyone individually, I’ve read all of your posts. I truly appreciate it. This has been incredibly helpful in reaffirming that no, I am not overreacting, and also reframing my perspective. I’ll update when I can.

      1. Sue*

        I’m late to this thread but as an attorney for 40 years (a Judge for the last 20+), I have seen a multitude of new lawyers (and even remember it myself!). I think law school training is somewhat better now, but there is still a huge learning curve from school to practice. The mentoring you receive is HUGELY important to your career, much more of an issue than relative salary. Good training in your early career is worth a lot and will often determine the trajectory of your career. Please insist on the help you need so this early time for you is productive. I’ve seen more that a few newbies get into situations that hurt them (learning bad practices, ok with sloppy work, ethical shortcuts, etc) and a few where the person did not even stay in the profession because of an awful experience.
        I can’t stress enough how important this is, because as you know, the profession is highly regulated and subject to dire consequences for mistakes. I don’t what to sound alarmist but I do want you to get a good start on what I hope will be a long, fulfilling career for you. Seek out help and role models wherever they are available, not only for your work today but for preparation for the rest of your career. If you know that isn’t going to happen at your current job, move on as soon as you can.

    12. All the cats 4 me*

      IANAL but have considerable experience in being dumped into jobs with minimal instruction/support and expected to perform at experienced levels,

      My suggestion is to ask whether your boss can suggest a similar case or filing that you can reference for guidance in drafting your work. If boss is reluctant, is there an admin that could be this resource, or some kind of client case history you can search?

      As I say, I am not a lawyer, but I have reviewed a lot of standard documents from a lot of different lawyers, and it is astonishing to me how much they vary between offices, while achieving (hopefully) exactly the same purpose. The other thing I notice is that the documents from one office are all pretty much identical irregardless of the client (can’t count the number of times I have reviewed documents for client “Smith” which state that the client is “Jones”, lol).

      Perhaps I am misunderstanding the issues you are experiencing in work product, if so, please disregard, but using prior work as a template seems fairly standard in many professions (to the extent possible) and would hopefully help your workload, as well as conforming to specific quirks of your office.

      Good luck in any case!

    13. pancakes*

      There are a fair number of lawyer jobs in the NYC area where I am that don’t pay much more than that, unfortunately. The market has never really recovered from the 2008 crash – so many firms down-sized and/or re-organized, but schools didn’t shrink their class sizes correspondingly. I’ve been out of law school since 2004 and there have been years I made less than I was making before law school. It also seems that many people who once, not so long ago, would’ve retired, now keep working longer, which isn’t necessarily helpful to those of us competing with them for jobs. I’ve worked on document review projects alongside semi-retired law professors and experienced litigators. I have a decent resume but I simply don’t have *that* level of experience, how could I?

      It sounds like your boss is being unreasonable.
      New grads generally don’t have any idea what the hell they’re doing, and teaching them how practice actually works is a huge part of employing them, or should be. This is one of several areas where I think small firms can be more difficult to work in, and you might be happier joining a bigger firm in a year or so. Big firms—the well-established ones, at least—have decades upon decades of experience & cumulative institutional knowledge around hiring young associates and getting them up to speed. The worst among them are crushing with regard to hours, rigidity in hiring, etc., but they’re not all horrible. They also tend to have very good support of the type not often found in small firms: document services around the clock, IT help around the clock, that sort of thing.

  14. Ghosted*

    I had three great interviews with a company, submitted a background check, had all indications that I was at least a top candidate (the third was a final interview with corporate) and then they ghosted me. In all interviews they indicated they were looking to make a decision very quickly and I took it was within the next 1-2 weeks I’d be hearing at least either way. I waited over three weeks and followed up with the Director (who I’d report to), no response. I waited another three weeks and emailed the Director and the woman from Corporate (thinking maybe something happened with the Director), no response. I’m guessing at this point (three months out) that I didn’t get the position, and I’m not looking to follow up with them. I have my suspicions as to why I did not get an offer but I’m really surprised that they ghosted me – that after three interviews, they couldn’t at least send an email response saying they moved forward with another candidate. I get a no response after sending a resume, I also get a no response after maybe a phone screen. But is it common for a company that far into the hiring process not respond?

    1. Been There*

      That sucks, I’m sorry. I’ve been noticing companies ghosting more and more. I don’t mind never hearing back after just applying. But after an actual conversation (and even worse, a declaration that you’re going to the second round of interviews), ghosting is so effed up to me to comprehend.

      I know they say that doesn’t sound like a company you don’t want to work for, but as more and more companies behave this way, the pool of places that don’t seems to be drying up.

    2. irene adler*

      Gosh I hope not.
      I’m at that point with two big-name biotech companies. It’s been 3 weeks since the last interviews. Nothing.

      I know 3 weeks may not be long enough for a big company to make a decision. But you’d think they would keep me updated. They go to the trouble of asking if I’m interviewing elsewhere or if I’ve fielded any offers. In 3 weeks’ time that could certainly change.

    3. Firecat*

      It’s not common. But sometimes it happens.

      For example: I applied, interviewed, then heard nothing. Turns out they had hired someone but really liked me.

      So they were not allowed to talk to me. Because they did not want to say “you didn’t get the job’ while they were petitioning to have another of that role opened and they were not allowed to tell me they were trying to get another role opened. After 5 months they called me up and hired me within a week.

      That was a very beurocratic company though.

    4. PollyQ*

      Based on letters and comments here, that is unfortunately rather common. And it’s so ridiculous (IMO). All they need to do is compose a 2-line email, and send it to the final candidates, who probably number no more than 5, max. Rude & unprofessional AF.

    5. Fezziwig*

      This is incredibly common. My partner has had 5+ final round interviews (think CEO or board member final interview,) has completed sample projects AND had references checked (sometimes all 3, or 2 out of the 3) and been ghosted. It’s so disrespectful and beyond unprofessional.

      I always tell them that’s a STRONG indicator of the company and its culture, but now that its happened so many times I agree that this is getting hard to believe…

      I’d say if a company says they’ll get back to you, anything beyond 3 weeks with zero contact is a no.

  15. Orange Crushed*

    I had an interview for an entry-level regulatory affairs position for a pharmaceutical company and towards the end they asked the following questions:

    You walk into an elevator and everyone is facing the back. What do you do when you step in? What direction do you face?

    What is the weight of a plane that takes off in London and lands in Hong Kong?

    Is there a correct answer? For the plane question, is the weight the same? I don’t get it. What is the purpose of questions like these?

    The whole interview felt more like an interrogation- they really analyzed my background, am I confident with my previous job history, stuff like that. With the plane and elevator questions though, I wonder if they were just messing around or already have someone and are just going through the motions…

    1. Pink Dahlia*

      These types of questions are designed to make you verbally walk the interviewer through your thought processes, so they can see how you problem-solve. Example:

      “For the plane, I’d look on Boeing’s website to determine the specs, fuel capacity, and storage room. Then I’d need a copy of the manifest to estimate passenger weights. Then I would determine the route flown to estimate fuel usage.” Etc., etc.

      1. Construction Safety*

        Eh, I’d KISS it. “Non-stop? Same weight as the weight at take of minus the fuel to get there.”

      2. irene adler*

        Shouldn’t the weight of the plane itself remain unchanged? Talking just the plane itself- not the fuel, or contents or items jettisoned during flight.

        Other things would change – like the weight of the fuel used. Or if anything was ‘jettisoned’ during the flight.

          1. Gumby*

            It might, slightly. The mass doesn’t change but you’d need to know the altitude at the respective airports to calculate weight change…

      3. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

        I would have interpreted it as the actual weight of the plane – which would be the same when it landed in Hong Kong as when it took off in London (technically minus an unmeasurable amount of erosion of the outside metal frame). The idea is to simply see how you think – there is no real right or wrong answer.

        1. irene adler*

          Yeah-that’s my interpretation. Just the plane. There’s no indication of contents (passengers, cargo). And, one assumed there is fuel and that the fuel is consumed during this flight. But “takes off” and “lands” may imply it flew under its own power or that it was carried, consuming no fuel during its flight.

      4. Sunflower*

        But can’t the interviewer find a way to ask that’s actually related to the role?

        I plan events. If I wanted to know someone’s thought process I’d say ‘You have to plan an event in Hong Kong. You’ve never been, you don’t speak the language, you know nothing about the city. You have 3 months. What is your planning process?’

        That tells me a lot more about you than a plane /weight question. This is just lazy questioning IMO.

    2. Just a PM*

      These are definitely weird questions but it sounds like they were more interested in learning about your thought process to reach an answer and what your reasoning is for your decision than what the correct answer is. In a regulatory affairs position, they were probably interested in the way you apply logic to reach a conclusion when you don’t have all the facts at hand (the plane question) or you drop in in the middle of a situation and need to run with things (the elevator question).

      Out of curiosity, how did you answer those questions?

      1. Orange Crushed*

        The questions were at the very end of the interview. For the elevator, I said that I would stand facing the doors. The interviewer asked if I would look around. I said that I would look to see what they were looking at, like if there was something wrong with the elevator or if it was a glass elevator, look to see if something was happening outside, but I would still stand facing the doors. (I was trapped in an elevator once in Canada, so they sort of freak me out. I like to get in and get out. I didn’t tell them this.)

        For the plane, I fumbled that one and said that I didn’t know, but I would have to research it online. The interviewer said that she didn’t know either, so I don’t know what the correct answer was.

        1. winter frog*

          I agree with those saying that these questions were probably intended to show the interviewer your thinking process or creativity. I think your glass elevator answer showed both.

          In my mind it would be unreasonable for the interviewer to expect a specific answer, but if she had a different answer in mind, then maybe it’s this: some elevators have two sets of doors — one in the front and one in the rear. The people in the elevator are facing the way they expect to be exiting the elevator.

          1. Orange Crushed*

            “some elevators have two sets of doors — one in the front and one in the rear. The people in the elevator are facing the way they expect to be exiting the elevator.”

            (::smacks head::) Ah! I never thought of that!

    3. jay*

      I once had “If an elephant walked into the room right now, why is he here and what would he say?”

      As others have suggested, these questions are more to see your problem solving skills as well as getting a glimpse of your personality. I don’t know about the plane one but for the elevator question – I’m guessing there is something with are you a leader (face the front) or a follower (face the back). If you are outspoken and would say something or if you’d just stay quiet.

      I think a lot of interviewers that ask these questions do it just to mess around and typically are the type to internet search (challenging interview questions). Asking one at the end of the interview can often be a fun way to end things on a light note – last question, if you were a crayon, what color are you and why? But only one of these types of questions.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        In Covid times I’m not going to face the direction in the elevator that everyone else is breathing, in fact, if there are lot of people I’ll take the stairs

      2. Information Central*

        Oh, I’d have entirely too much fun with the elephant one. If the elephant is saying something, that means we’re in a world where elephants are sentient, so depending on what the rules of that world are… if the elephant is walking in here, chances are he works here, and is coming in to give you (interviewer) some kind of message. Or to conduct the last stage of the interview. Or (depending on details of the place) maybe he’s lost and wandered in by mistake, or looking for directions. Or he’s the next in line for an interview. Or elephants don’t operate by human rules and he’s on his way to wherever he wants to go and we’re just in his way. Or sentient elephants are not a thing and there’s just been a major breakthrough. Or……

        My boss likes to throw out brain-teaser kind of questions on occasion, and one time (NOT in an interview, just a slow afternoon) came up with “Would you recognize Jesus if he came back on a spaceship?” Expecting the kind of “yes, of course” reaction he got from a co-worker. Then when I left the conversation he thought I was offended… No, just had my brain going off in six different directions of possibilities, and I didn’t want to lose the *whole* afternoon to science-fictional theology.

        1. Information Central*

          Oh, and on the elevator question – stand at an angle to watch both the doors and the direction everyone else is facing, to be able to react as needed if the reason isn’t immediately obvious.

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          Sentient means “able to perceive or feel things.” and “Definition of sentient
          1: responsive to or conscious of sense impressions
          2: AWARE
          3: finely sensitive in perception or feeling.”
          Elephants and most creatures are definitely sentient.

    4. CatCat*

      I’ve gotten these bizarro questions before (fortunately, rarely!). I think at this point in my life, I would respond with, “Why do you ask?” Because asking rando brain teasers unrelated to the job is weird enough to ask what the purpose of the question is. I’m surprised they can’t come up with something actually related to the job. This screams of lazy googling for things to ask about rather than tailoring the questions to the job.

      Also, the “interrogation” style would be a red flag to me. Like, bruh, we’re here to have a conversation as adults both trying to learn about whether it makes business sense for us to proceed.

      Honestly, the higher I’ve gotten in my career, the less I’ve come across weird or aggressive interviewers, and when I have, I certainly haven’t thought there was some failing on my part rather than a failing on their part.

      1. Orange Crushed*

        My background is different- I don’t have a pharma background or BS degree, but she kept focusing on my past work places, do I want to switch careers, am I confident in my past work history, why don’t I want to stay in my profession, where do I see myself going, etc. I understand some of it- they don’t want someone to take the position and then leave, etc. I’ve just never have someone focus on it so extensively. I felt so drained. It’s for an entry level position! I can understand if it was something for management or higher up, but c’mon!

        1. Lora*

          Huh. Well, Regulatory Affairs does need a special kind of personality. I don’t know that this particular line of questioning is the best way to find out if someone has that magic personality, but it definitely does need a personality type. Your job is basically annoying a lot of people and telling them they are not allowed to do a thing they want to do, and then making sure they didn’t do something else even sneakier. They will persist in trying to do the thing long after you tell them No, and you will have to be EXTREMELY assertive in telling them Hell No. Then they come up with something even more bizarre they want to try, and you have to shoot that down too. And that’s like…the whole job. You have to tell people much much higher up than you in the food chain that they are not allowed to do the thing they want to do. They will be very mad about this and try to get you fired or at least over-ruled, and unless your boss is pretty fierce they will succeed and it’s super demoralizing. And you’re still held responsible for everything, legally, you’re the one who gets in trouble when things don’t go well in inspections.

          1. Orange Crushed*

            Wow…. after reading that, I definitely don’t think that I would be good at something like that.

            1. Lora*

              I mean, there’s other parts of it that are just archival of paperwork and data storage or training records type of stuff, but it really really depends on the role. And the archival people don’t really move up, they are low level their whole careers. To move up in Regulatory Affairs you really have to be a shark, you don’t get to be friends with anyone outside your department. The people I know who took on the archival work were really stuck there for ever and ever; 2-3% raises, every year, no promotions available unless someone dies or retires. But for the most part this is stated clearly in the job description, and it’s a very small part of Regulatory Affairs – the bulk of the work is auditing, audit support, CMC binder preparation, corrective action and deviation management (which is where a lot of the “….and WHY did you dump the explosive chemical into the drinking water?” type of interactions come into play), change control management (which is where you’re telling the Head of Operations that no, he is not allowed to leave ground up bits of plastic in the drugs no matter how expensive it is to fix). It pays well, but it pays well because you’re the bad@ss telling people to do the right things. So, not easy.

            2. Jackie*

              Eh, I work in quality management for pharmaceuticals and would say not to get discouraged based on that feedback. As entry level quality/regulatory employee in this industry you’ll first build a strong knowledge foundation on the guidances and then learn to interpret them to dictate how operations proceeds at your facility. There certainly is a strong element of having to shoot down path forward options, but typically the relationship between quality/regulatory and operations is much more collaborative in finding compliant solutions to issues. I’m not negating Lora’s experience at all here, but if there’s that much sneaking around and power plays to circumvent regulatory policy that indicates a company specific culture issue. Just my two cents!

              1. Lora*

                I do not disagree with your assessment of company culture! Where I work now it’s very site-specific and some of our sites have good collaboration with QA and some don’t. I find it tends to be more experience-related too: if Ops is composed mainly of newbies who have never been through an inspection or five before, they tend to view Quality / Regulatory as The Enemy, whereas more experienced folks know they’ll be under the bus with tire tracks on their back if they don’t have a healthy working relationship with the Quality group.

    5. CheeryO*

      I don’t really get the relevance of the plane question, but the elevator one makes sense for regulatory work. It can be hard to be the only person who sees that something is being done incorrectly. It’s not just enough to identify the issue – you also have to figure out a diplomatic way to correct it and follow up to make sure it gets addressed.

      It’s a kind of dumb metaphor. I’d rather see an interviewer ask a “what would you do” question about a more realistic situation.

    6. MommaCat*

      For the elevator, I’d stand sideways so I can watch both the doors and the other people, because I’m paranoid and assume some weird trick.

      As for the plane, that one is weird. I’d probably say I don’t know enough about physics, aerodynamics, and international weighing standards to know the true answer, but I’d guess the answer is “about the same.”

      But yeah. They’re weird questions, for sure, and I’m guessing it’s a sign they aren’t great interviewers. I’d take it as a yellow flag and proceed carefully.

    7. Nesprin*

      The plane thing is the weight of the fuel- airplanes are gas guzzlers. For a sciency type job it’s an exercise (albeit a crappy one) in estimating- how would you go from problem->parameters->dimensional type guesses to figure out in orders of magnitude a reasonable guess. It works better if you spell out- like I might ask, if you needed to know how much a long haul plane’s weight changes with gas usage, how would you figure it out? Though realistically I’d ask “tell me about a problem you’ve faced and how you solved it” followed by “tell me about problem you failed to solve and what went wrong”.

      I got no idea with the elevator one- maybe they’re looking for “deep thinkers willing to break the mold” or some other such corporate nonsense.

    8. Lauren*

      I interview applicants for entry-level jobs regularly, and usually throw in a few ‘oddball’ questions. The point of these is not to fluster the applicant, but to give them the opportunity to provide a creative answer that wouldn’t come up in the line of technical proficiency questions.

      With regard to the elevator question, they were probably trying to get a handle on your openness to leading instead of following – think Darren Brown type social experiments. In my opinion, it’s not a question with any wrong answers – just a question about social perception.

      I would never ask the second question, though! I don’t think it allows for truly creative answers as much as opens the floor for jokes about “moving weight” (i.e. drugs) or just discomfits the applicant. As a riddle aficionado, I must admit that I’ve never heard this one before and have no idea what answer they were looking for.

      1. Orange Crushed*

        I’ve had a bunch of weird ones throughout my years of interviewing: “You have 5 blocks. How do you arrange them?” (This was for a position in a public library, but not in the children’s dept.) There was another one, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

          1. Windchime*

            I have an answer to the tree one, too. I would be an apple tree. They are beautiful in the spring, provide shade in the summer, and yummy fruit in the fall. When the productive life of the tree is over, they can be used as firewood which burns long and smells so, so good. Is that the right answer? Don’t know. It’s a stupid question but nevertheless, I would be an apple tree.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I haaaaate those kinds of questions but I’ve only ever gotten “What kind of tree would you be?” in a real interview. Naturally those interviewers also asked for my top 3 weaknesses. I think my answers made it clear I had no idea what they were looking for, and the fact that they made no attempt to tie the questions to the job suggests to me that they had no idea what they should have been looking for.

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

      I’m not sure what skills Regulatory Affairs involves (not being snarky, just admitting I don’t really know what it is!) but in the world of tech you hear of these types of questions being asked, possibly apocryphal and possibly not.

      The plane question seems to be a typical Fermi estimation (of the “how many piano tuners are there in Chicago?” type), at least that’s how I would interpret it given my knowledge of these types of questions already (I can’t explain why (in one of your comments below) your interviewer admitted that she didn’t know either, though!) … I would probably try to clarify the question, like to find out if they are actually asking for an estimate (i.e. very rough!) number. (if not, they’d hopefully give some clue as to what type of answer they were looking for and then go from there!)

      For a Fermi estimation on the plane question (nb I haven’t seen this question before, this is off the top of my head) I would do a “back of the envelope” sort of method out loud, something like this:

      – The weight is the structure of the plane itself, plus the ‘stuff’ (passengers and luggage, cargo etc) plus the fuel
      – A London to Hong Kong flight clearly isn’t your typical commuter route, so it’s presumably a large number of passengers being transported at a time once or twice a day only. I remember reading somewhere in the news that there were about 300 passengers on a flight from somewhere in East Asia to San Francisco, so assume it’s similar. And assume it’s full to capacity, like if we ignore impact of the pandemic :-)
      – How do you calculate the weight of the plane itself? Say an average car weighs 2 tons and can carry 4 people, scale it up to a capacity of 300 people which would be 150 tons. But a plane has all sorts of stuff a car doesn’t have, i.e. the wings etc, so perhaps 200 tons. 1 ton is 2000 lbs, so 400,000 lbs.
      – Assume each person weighs 200lbs on average, so 60,000 lbs. These planes probably have cargo on them as well and people’s luggage so say 150,000 (double and a bit) for passengers + ‘movable stuff’
      – Weight of fuel. Assuming the flight goes to plan, the plane will take on “enough fuel plus contingency” at the start and this will obviously be used up with only the contingency amount left. It can probably be ignored relative to the other numbers but let’s say there are 10,000lbs of fuel remaining.
      – 400,000 + 150,000 + 10,000 is the estimated weight of the plane

      I probably wouldn’t give a “smart-ass” answer like are they really asking about the mass of the plane? or it remains unchanged other than the amount of fuel so the answer is initial weight – amount of fuel burned = arrival weight.

      For the elevator question, it seems to me that this is asking about situational awareness and how to handle an unexpectedly ‘bizarre’ (to you at least) situation. This is much more easily answered, as other comments have given examples of already. In essence my approach would be to enter, discreetly take stock of the situation for anything that would explain their behaviour, if nothing found remain in a position where I can see the people and most of the inside of the elevator most effectively and be ready for anything unexpected. I personally would probably throw out that study with people pointing and looking at nothing that drew in more and more people as evidence of going along with a crowd perhaps!

  16. Early - Career Congressional Staffer*

    I work in a Congressional district office and am in one of the lower/more entry level roles so there is a lot of turnover. I have enjoyed my time in it but I recently saw another role in a different Congressional district office close to me is open. I’m interested in that role because I know that I have some of the experience for it but it would also be a growth opportunity that isn’t necessarily open in my current office. I’m wondering if it would make me look bad to apply since our office do collaborate and work together as needed and I know people in that office and the people hiring would also know my supervisor so I’m concerned that it could look bad or get back to them that I’m thinking about leaving or it could have a negative impact on my career for trying to leave. Of course, there’s absolutely no guarantee that I’d get it, I’m more just concerned about the politics of applying. I know that people on the Hill often switch offices but I’m not sure how that is read for district or state offices.

    Any insight or advice would be helpful since I’m still fairly new to this field and don’t really have a lot of people I can talk to about this.

    1. Field office reps*

      Are both reps safe seats? There is generally a round of musical chairs immediately following an election with everyone settling into something by swearing-in next January. If you can wait for Wednesday when (maybe, hopefully) the election results come out, I think it is appropriate to send a message to the hiring management in the other office along the lines of “Congrats! Glad to see rep will continue their great work. I saw you had an opening for Y and I was considering applying as I’m looking for more opportunity to do X.”

      They may very well tell your current boss so I would consider what their reaction is likely to be and how you will respond to an awkward conversation about it. It is really expected and normal to move around, even at the district level, but you can’t do it by tip-toeing around awkward conversations.

      Good luck!

      1. Early - Career Congressional Staffer*

        Yes, both Reps are likely to win reelection. I’m trying to figure out if my current management would have a negative reaction but I think they also know that I am hoping to advance beyond my current position in the future and learn more. There may be opportunities that come up with them in January because of the general switching that happens during an election but I’m not sure yet on that as well.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Are the two reps from the same party? If not, don’t go for the move. If so, the next consideration is where you live. District offices tend to hire staff who live in the district, though it’s not required. So whose district do you live in? If the proposed office is for the district in which you live, that would be a logical reason to seek the switch.

      In the district office, moving from a House of Reps. office to a Senate office is more common that moving from one Rep. office to another. On the Hill it’s more of a free-for-all.

      1. Early - Career Congressional Staffer*

        Yes, both reps are from the same party and I wouldn’t consider it otherwise. I recently moved so I now live in the Representative’s district which I’d apply to which was an unintentional coincidence. It’s hard for me to get the feel of district office norms so this is good info to know.

    3. MrsPeaches*

      Can you reach out to one of the people you know to ask for an informal conversation? I would ask to learn more about the position and ask them not to mention it to anyone in your office. Respecting that request is a professional norm in many fields; I’m not sure whether Congressional offices differ.

  17. Cannot Tell a Lie*

    What is a “normal” amount of dishonesty to expect to operate under in the course of business?

    I’ve only worked at two or three legit corporations (depending on what you count) so I need some broader perspective. I am very uncomfortable with participating in dishonesty, including “white lies” and such. But I’ve also been told that no company in the real world would meet my standards, so I wonder if I’m already at one of the more-honest places.

    Things I object to, roughly in order of how bad I think they are:

    1) Having to tell a customer a false reason for a mistake in order to make the company look better (for example, blaming it on my own typo instead of the real, more egregious error by an analyst)

    2) Telling a prospective client that the groundwork for a project is already mostly done and well-tested, when in fact it’s barely begun (in order to secure a contract that assumes rapid delivery and reliability)

    3) Filling out due diligence documentation with sweeping claims about information security, staff redundancy, and similar assurances that are exaggerated or outright false

    How many companies really do expect employees to carry out 1, 2 and 3?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I see #1 and #2 told all the time where I work, and saw them more often than I’d like at my 3 most recent employers. #3 I haven’t seen, though.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Personally, I would be very hesitant to sign off on anything that could be tracked back to me. I imagine a courtroom scene with the question: “Is this your signature?” and trying to explain why I signed off on something that was patently false.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. This is why I left Evil Law Firm years ago. These people did everything in OP’s list and more (a lot of it borderline illegal), and I was not putting my John Hancock on anything that was being filed in court. Nope. I told them flat out that if I ever got deposed for any reason, I was telling everything. I am not going to jail or being fined for someone else’s mistakes. Nope.

        OP, there are ethical companies out there that don’t do these things. Oddly enough, when I worked for a commercial P&C insurance company, I was always told by executive-level that if you make a mistake, own up to it and fix it ASAP – don’t lie or hide it because it will come out, it will end up in litigation, and my job would be on the line if I got the company sued over something that could have easily been fixed.

    3. LGC*

      Honestly, I think most companies should expect 2 and 3. 1 is fuzzy – taking responsibility yourself is a bad way to do it, but the actual situation is more detail than needed.

      I’ve just used the passive voice – which is super political but less likely to sound like I’m throwing a coworker under the bus.

    4. Littorally*

      #1, depending on the stakes and precise details, I could imagine in a reasonable company. Depending on the precise issues, that one can tip over into not airing dirty company laundry — ie, the real answer is “upper management can’t be arsed to replace this glitchy system” is not an acceptable answer to give to clients, so instead you say “oh, I’m so sorry, we must have missed entering that information earlier.”

      Due diligence documentation on the other hand? Hell no. Hell no.

    5. Llellayena*

      The first one I don’t see as a problem. A customer does not need to know the internal workings of the company, they just want to know that their problem is getting resolved. Telling them it was your error puts a face on the problem and prevents them demanding to speak to the person who made the mistake and thus escalating their issue.

      The other two….should not happen. There is some leeway for fudging the details when trying to get a client on board (“I have limited experience with this, but I think what I can bring to the table is X” vs. “I’ve never done this in my life and you’re my guinea pig”) but not to the extent you write about in #2. 3 is a hard no. You don’t fudge compliance documents…

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’d agree with this.

        Especially for #3, I’d look at who is instructing you to do this. Is it your supervisor, your department head, or the owner/c-suite?

        If it’s an issue with your immediate lead or department, I’d get in touch with the legal department or someone higher up and ask about it. Falsifying due diligence is fraud, and is going to cause big liability for the company.

        If it’s coming from the top, then you work for a shady (and rather stupid) company. Sorry, that’s hard to navigate.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah, the good ‘ol “administrative delay” or “system error” to cover for “I’ve been hounding my senior coworker for a month for this approval that should have taken five minutes” or “someone forgot to go into your file and update your email, and didn’t report back that the email was bouncing” gets used a lot at my (pretty functional) work. There are just certain instances where getting really granular about exactly why something didn’t go right is not really the point, the issue is assuring someone you’ve fixed it going forward.

        But 2 and 3 I have never been asked to do, even at my most dysfunctional workplaces and I’d really look askance at a manager or coworker who did expect me to lie or even tell a half-truth about those things.

    6. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’ve done 1 as a customer management thing. The customer doesn’t need to know all the details of how work is done within the company.

      2 and 3 I would regard as unacceptable.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I’m mostly with Director of Alpaca Exams. #1 — the customer doesn’t need to know all the hows and whys of a mistake, just that it was acknowledged and fixed. #2 is an outright lie (well-tested) — I can see spinning it – a vague “We’re making good progress” is common, but claiming something specific that isn’t true is how people end up with fraud lawsuits. #3 is a hard no.

    7. KR*

      I think 2 and 3 are egregious and not ok, I think 1 is not ok either but less on about business ethics and more about being fair to you.

    8. ...*

      1. Completely normal. You dont tell customers about your internal analyst mistakes unless you have to. Sorry, but this isn’t even going to register as dishonesty at anywhere I’ve ever worked.

      2. Hmm. Not great. Depends how much they are stretching this, but not egregious .

      3. Not acceptable to lie on this type of documentation.

    9. MoopySwarpet*

      I think 1 & 2 are fairly normal. For 2, it could be that you still have all the time you need even though you haven’t started making you still “on track” to meet deadlines. For 1, sometimes it’s easier to just say “production delay” than to explain supply chain, production, and/or someone got sick delay.

      I tend to pick and choose, though. Some clients might be fine with a “sorry, I spaced it out, I’ll send a little something extra” and some will focus on you dropping the ball. In the case of the latter, sometimes THEY feel better if the issue is a half step removed.

      3 seems over the top. I get super nervous about exaggerating or falsifying things. You have to remember the story.

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

      #1 I wouldn’t hesitate about.

      #2 I’d hesitate, but depending on how confident I/we was of making up the delay/deficit to meet a future deadline/requirement and what the relationship is.
      If I was confident I’d/we’d be able to meet the deadline/requirement I’d probably give vaguer assurances than the ones they’d probably hoped for, like “we’re pretty much there and just have a few edge cases to iron out” or similar. If I genuinely didn’t think there’s any way to give what the client wants at this point I’d start to do damage control at that point (assuming I was in charge of the client — if not, I’d work with the person who is primarily in charge of the client to decide how to deliver that message).

      #3 I would not do that, and no accredited professional would. Oh I’m sure there are companies that would expect employees to do it! But if you are in a position to fill out that sort of thing, you are in a position to act as an independent professional exercising your own judgement imo.

  18. CR*

    Has anyone left a job where you know they would really struggle without you?

    This is not vanity talking – I work for a tiny org where I do a ton of stuff that only I am responsible for and other people probably don’t even think about, so I would be leaving them in a lurch even if I made the effort to leave behind documentation and notes about what to do. My boss in particular, who is not really involved in the day to day of the organization, would be totally lost. I kind of feel bad about this, but I really want a new job. I just know that they would send me emails and texts every time they needed something.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      This happened to me, and things just pretty much went to hell after I left. They couldn’t keep sustaining the workflows I built, so they broke down for a while and they made due with the bare minimum jus so the could work from day to day.
      But they paid me badly and treated me poorly, so that’s what happens. I took my awesome skills to a better place!

    2. irene adler*

      Only you have your best interests at heart.
      So only you can take the steps to assure that.

      I too, am about to give notice (I hope!). And I’m the “brain trust” for the products we sell.
      But I’m not paid like the others I have to work with.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I did leave a job like this, and never heard a peep. I just ran into a former coworker from a different department of that company, and it sounds like the handoff/transition was successful.

      Significant details…
      I spent about 4 weeks training my replacement in the day-to-day minutiae. For the final week, he was able to perform that side of the job without my assistance, advice or intervention.
      We hired my supervisor’s best friend to replace me in development. During her onboarding, she actually spent more time training me in the nitty, gritty details of the development platform than I did training her on the automation system I had built around it.
      By the time the transition plan was composed, I was already thoroughly marginalized and likely was only barely generating enough value to offset my salary. There were no benefits involved, so at least I was cheap.
      When I document a process or product, I do so with the intended audience of a potted plant.

      1. OtterB*

        When I document a process or product, I do so with the intended audience of a potted plant.

        Just admiring this.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Ooo I am struggling with this now! However, I keep reminding myself that I’ve brought up the topic of cross training for YEARS (and so have my coworkers) and leadership has always refused to do it.

      At the end of the day, their struggles are NOT your problem to solve once you are no longer employed there. As long as you document everything thoroughly, you have done your job. When you leave, be very clear on how much help you can provide after you leave (and for how long you are willing to help), and stick to your word!

    5. Just a PM*

      Yep. I documented everything I did. SOPs, protocols, lessons learned, best practices, matrix charts for decision-making and troubleshooting. Told everyone what I was doing, where to find it, and who else had copies. Whether they used it after I left, I don’t know. But they had it and that was a weight off my shoulders.

      And it turns out, they were able to manage. I got a couple of calls, but after about three weeks when they were used to the new normal, the calls became less “how did you X” and more social/shoot the breeze/thinking of you.

    6. Loopy*

      I did this as one half of a two person team drowning in work. I had more institutional and team knowledge so it hurt the other person doubly so when I left, despite doing a good turnover.

      But even that person and anyone on my team didn’t hold it against me. I am still friendly with them. I wasn’t malicious about it and my coworkers absolutely understood that everyone is entitled to pursue better opportunities. And even when people expressed sincere pain over losing me (and still do!) It’s never framed as you shouldn’t have left. This is the response people SHOULD have! If they don’t that’s on them, not you!!

    7. Malika*

      Yes, twice. At the first it was a pretty swift two-week notice, and I left behind a short documentation. It took them a year to catch up, though also three people tried the role and failed (they were entry-level and were given my advanced-level workload and expectations that are far easier to hit if you have worked at a company for years.) The second I left behind very thorough documentation and heard via-via they regretted not extending my contract. As they were nightmarishly chaotic managers, the regret was one-sided.

    8. LogicalOne*

      When it’s a job and a place that you enjoy working at, it makes it all the more difficult to leave, especially if you are depended on for various essential tasks. Could you give them a really advanced notice or let your boss know that you’re job searching? I mean, if it’s a place you enjoy working, then I would speak up and let at least your boss know and that way you can inform and train the right people to take care of your tasks when you leave.
      I left a job years ago where I was depended on to take on majority of the work in a high-turnover industry and I knew that if I left, the staff would most likely drown. There were points where I had debated on leaving but at the time I liked the staff that were there. Once I was in a team with people I didn’t like so much, I didn’t feel as bad about leaving.

    9. Delta Delta*

      I have and I did not care. In fact, it’s been fun to watch the struggle and the subsequent versions of the struggle as time has passed.

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      Yes.
      My first job out of college I was the only one on my team who really understood the “new” system. The person who was supposed to be the superuser and attend all of the trainings and then teach the rest of the team really struggled so I was hired as an entry-level new grad since I was cheap and had familiarity with the system. Just shy of 5 years later, and after a LOT of shady activity that was also blatantly sexist, I turned in my resignation to by actually pretty great boss. He looked at it, said “Shit”, and turned in his notice to retire at the same time since he knew things would go to shit as soon as I left.
      I was made 3 counter offers, which I declined since each was less than my new job, and boss came hustling over to my desk on my last day and told me to leave early because the VP (who was the main reason I was leaving) was on his way over and had been boasting that he could easily get me to stay. My friend said the look on his face was priceless when he turned the corner and saw my desk completely bare except for my badge and powered down laptop.
      Boss left a couple weeks later but ended up coming back for a 6 month contract at triple his salary and they had to hire 2 people to replace me.
      The place is still standing and actually called me a few weeks back when that VP finally announced his retirement to see if I would be willing to come back. Its been 12 years.

    11. Ama*

      I tend to gravitate to jobs that are either new programs or departments or programs/departments that are starting a period of rapid growth and change. So quite often by the time I leave a job, I have implemented a lot of new processes that no one else has ever had to do. I have always left very extensive documentation behind — in fact these days I will try to document processes as they are implemented or updated, so that if I were to find a new opportunity and leave, 90% of the documentation would already be finished.

      I will say, though, the place I worked before my current job was so dysfunctional and boundary pushing that I had convinced myself they would be constantly texting me asking for help after I left (since they did that frequently when I was on vacation), and they couldn’t have been more professional about my leaving. I did leave behind a huge binder full of documents, but they never tried to contact me at all after I left, even though I found out a few years later they had to hire two full time and one part time person to replace me and must have had to do a lot of training.

    12. Spessartine*

      I did this exact thing earlier this year. I had worked at my previous job for a decade and knew they would have a lot of trouble replacing me. I did give them over a month’s notice, and attempted to train the first two people they hired. One of them had zero experience and the other had some experience in the field, but in a different department–it wasn’t great. It’s been six months since I left and they’ve been through several new hires, have not found anyone really suitable, and are still struggling–to the point that my old boss asked me to come back full time (remotely, as I moved across the country. Haven’t yet had the phone call to discuss the notion but I don’t know that I’ll accept, since I love my new job). And yes, they still send me texts and emails and call me when they’re having trouble. For a while I kept doing some work for them on the side (paid, of course) but it ended up being more time and trouble than it was worth.

      I felt–and still feel–quite bad about leaving them, knowing the effect it would have, but I was to the point where I *needed* leave the state. I had been feeling that way for some years but kept putting it off because I really liked the job and the people there and didn’t want to make things difficult for them. But eventually I just had to put my own life at the front of my priorities. I’m *so* happy that I did.

    13. Lora*

      I was let go from a place that is still struggling without me. Ha!

      VP had some Issues and could not abide anyone who was not a complete yes-man. I am not that. I am very good at politely (I am told sometimes too politely) saying, “okay, that is one way to go about it, but in my experience if we do XYZ we can achieve blahblahblah (in shorter time, less money, with less effort, whatever) so I propose that we try…” but even this method was too mean for his delicate sensibilities or something. Anyway, VP pushed out me and several other highly experienced middle aged women (there was a pattern, it was a legal liability, he was let go himself shortly thereafter). This was some years ago. They tried to assign the work to a couple of very inexperienced guys, who made a mess of it but declared victory anyway, knowing that nobody within the company would know the difference – because they didn’t have anyone else who was an SME in my particular, critical role. And, well, I have a lot of friends, and naturally I warned them that this was a pretty sketchy place to work. They couldn’t hire another one of me. I got another job soon enough…and this year they approached my employer asking for partnership/help in my specific subfield. My employer assigned other people to the task, for a lot of money up front, but those people are not having a lot of success making things work.

      Startup in question is very flashy, does a lot of press releases. Their CEO has bragged that he will totally have all his drugs made and released five months ago. Friends, he has not gotten even one serious batch out the door yet. He has not gotten even one approved drug discovered. In a few years, the investors are going to be tired of his crap and stop funding him. There is also an SEC investigation ongoing due to the CEO’s antics. I am quite amused by the whole thing and only moderately sad that a lot of rich investors have more money than brains and they could have flushed it down the toilet for all the good it did.

    14. N.*

      Yes, and partly felt bad for them, but in the end I went to a better job and it wasn’t my problem that the other employees there couldn’t or wouldn’t step up. A friend does contract work for them, and it’s still a mess over two years later. In fact, he recently started on a project that was there when I was.

    15. Tamer of dragonflies*

      Yep,I have.I was one of two people that could do what I did at the company I used to work for.After years of being underpaid and overworked,I found a better job and away I went.The president of the company asked me to come back,offering a large raise,but I declined.Being happy and not dreading going to work is worth more than they could ever pay me.It wasnt personal but there was a reason there was only 2 of us instead of the 5 or more it should have been.

    16. Wordybird*

      I stayed at my last job longer than I should have/wanted to for that reason. My duties expanded as my supervisors realized what my skillset was and could be, and I know they got comfortable in doing less and just trusting me to handle things that they would have handled themselves in the past. My direct supervisor was literally speechless for 5 minutes after I gave my notice.

      However, I had to decide that this was just a job, not a career, and that while I was good at my job, I was not the only person on the planet who could do the job adequately. The pay & the benefits were just not there, and it was the nature of the job that they never would be. While I liked my supervisors and coworkers, I could still like them and talk to them at a different job, and why should I sacrifice my life & my goals to make an organization or other people happy?

      I did agree to meet up with my replacement for a (non-paid) couple-hour training session and have responded to a handful of texts since then but it hasn’t been intrusive and I feel like that’s my “nod” to my affection and respect for the organization and the people.

    17. Ellyfant*

      I was actually talking to my therapist about this because this is exactly what I’m going through. What I found helpful was when she asked me if I never worked there in the first place, would that organisation have burned down? The realistic answer is no – they would have coped. Maybe things wouldn’t have been done as efficiently as I have handled things; but they would have managed and probably managed just fine. When faced with a crisis people will find their own solutions. If that solution doesn’t include you, they will find something else.

      Critical people can and do leave their posts. All the time, in fact. It’s not your responsibility to carry this organisation through. What you can do is offer a reasonable notice period and make detailed notes on whatever that needs to be done after you depart.

    18. All the cats 4 me*

      Yes. The reason I left was because the company had to “make cut backs”, so reduced everyone’s work hours by 30 minutes per day. Note that the *workload* did not decrease (as with everything else, we were already doing ‘more’ with ‘less’) just the paid time. With the promise that if things improved they would “restore” our pay (needless to say, it didn’t happen before I left).

      All the while I was spending time discussing (really arguing) with the general manger about basic accounting principles.
      She: why do you spend all this time allocating AR payments to a specific customer and job? It s stupid. Just dump it all in the same bucket and it will even out eventually!
      Me: so, you know how when I took over this job from the person who was using that system, and your sales weren’t reconciling to your collectibles/cash received? That’s why!
      She: but that is ridiculous, it has to balance!
      Me: face palm. {where do I even start}

      So we were doing all the same work, if not more, in 2.5 hours less per week, while having absolutely surreal discussions about basic business principles. I gave my notice (3 weeks, since I knew transition would be hard), and their first reaction was to insist that I document everything. I will certainly do that, as time permits. UH… really, do you expect I will now work at warp speed to make this possible? When I left, they had not yet advertised to fill my position, nor had space/time magically folded to allow time to document ‘proper’ procedures.

      Oh, and this was the supervisor who responded “gee that’s not a good time for you to have a day off”, when I advised her that I would be out of the office for one work day as my elderly Mother was having major surgery. I just looked at her. Internal monologue…. Um… I am not asking for permission, I am simply giving you three weeks notice that I will not be here.

      So when I left they asked if they could call me with questions . Certainly, I said. Make sure you have a PO number in hand and fyi my consulting rates are 100x the miserable pittance you were grudgingly doling out.

      At least I am not bitter. Ha!

    19. Emilitron*

      “Only through struggle can they continue to grow” Just go, it’s in their best long-term interests to learn how to handle their own office.

  19. Glengarry Glen Ross*

    Hello hive mind. I am looking for people with experience moving from a non-sales role into a partial sales management role. I have been approached about an opportunity to lead a new sales department focused on generating sales from data analysis of various customer databases and under served lead sources. I was identified due to my analytical skills and business knowledge vs any sales acumen as driving results through analysis of more direct communication strategies is the driver for this new group. I would have a seasoned sales person as my right hand person to lead the day to day part of the sales business, but I’d like to understand from those who have transitioned from a different field into sales management what was the hardest part in managing that team.

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I have the other end of this experience – I’m a fundraiser which sometimes attracts the same type of people as sales. And, honestly, those who are promoted into management because they’re really really good at sales are generally terrible managers. The skill set just is not the same – managers need to be (at least somewhat) collaborative, communicative, able to look at the big picture. Jobs like sales require independent work with no distractions and a focus only on the next big sale. I just got a new manager who has little direct fundraising experience but she’s the best manager I’ve ever had because she’s an experienced people manager and knows a lot about different areas of the organization. Without knowing the details of your work or organization, I wouldn’t hesitate to think this transition could have very positive outcomes for you and the organization. Good luck!

  20. Escaped a Work Cult*

    My boss is suffering from complete email swamping and I’m CC’d on a lot of items. I verbally tell him if something important comes in and he gets pissy with me if it’s immediate. How should I frame a new script so he stops getting angry about me doing the job he asked me to do?

    1. The New Normal*

      Depending on your email client, you should be able to categorize emails a certain color or tag. I would set up a color system – red means critical item to complete ASAP, yellow is for emails with an action today, green is for action within 2 days. That should help him physically see for himself what needs to be done. He can then sort the greens however he wishes.

    2. comityoferrors*

      What do you tell him right now? Why is he getting pissy?

      I used to do this for a manager. I would send her a message on Teams with “FYI – Bob from Company X emailed you with a question about the llama audit.” I think it’s helpful to include who’s sending and the subject, but keep it short other than that. If you’re just saying “you got an important email from Bob” then your boss has to look for that message himself, and it might not actually be a priority at the time.

      If he’s mad because you’re telling him as emails are coming in…maybe flag the email and follow up 30-45 minutes later. “Not sure if you handled this, but Bob from Company X…”

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        I’m very brief with X client sent an email since I don’t want to bother him and it looks like it’s backfiring. I realize that more descriptive words will go a long way on this. I like the wording you used and the suggestions on a delay of letting him know!

    3. CheeryO*

      I don’t know how time-sensitive the emails are, but could you give him a certain amount of time to respond – maybe 24 or 48 hours? It could be that he sees the emails but forgets to respond because they end up buried, and he’s just having a visceral “yeah, I know, I saw” reaction (which is still obnoxious if he asked you to help manage his inbox). Maybe say something like, “Sorry, I just wanted to flag it as important. Is there a more specific way you’d like me to help?”

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        I like the phrasing of the question you used. I know he has all kinds of requests from clients but getting upset isn’t helpful. I back off, he missed something, then he gets mad that I missed it.

    4. Malika*

      Off-topic: I love your name! My former workplace had leadership that was just a hair shy of NXIVM antics, and my colleagues were a mix of awed and scared. I feel the pain.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        Oh man, my old job got sucked into S c I e n t o l o g y. I got to sit through the “safe for the public” courses and seminars. It was an experience.

  21. Strega Nony*

    Someone in our small office gave notice last week. This week, her husband accepted an offer to fill her position. He’s qualified and we’re excited about him joining our team, but it’s also just very weird.

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

      a lot of reasons come to mind — she’s completely burned out but they need the income and benefits; she is or will be the primary caregiver for another family member; she’s changing careers and starting her own business or going back to school full-time… It’s not common but it isn’t that weird to me.

      1. Strega Nony*

        Oh I’m not judging them at all, we know she’s accepted another great position and there are no hard feelings (frankly, we’re happy we’ll still get to see her at social work events since she’s been a great team member). I just think it sets the stage for some weirdness… he’ll be taking her office, replacing her on pretty much all her projects, etc.. In a way I feel sorry for her because she won’t have a clean break from the work that she felt ready to leave.

        1. MsNotMrs*

          I wasn’t there for this, but there was a wife-then-husband in my role before I took it. Not to freak you out, but it did create some weirdness, where he basically thought he should get the role permanently (he was a FT employee but was just filling the role temporarily) because of seniority… but he clearly thought it was their joint seniority that counted, not his as an individual. So when they interviewed for the role and gave it to me instead, he quit our agency entirely and went to work for the county.

          I will say that spouses being co-workers isn’t unusual in civil service at all, so it didn’t cause initial eyebrow raises.

  22. shoutouts*

    How honest are you when giving a reference?

    I’ve served as a reference multiple times, and everyone has ultimately gotten the job they were seeking. Each time, the employer has asked me about an area of growth/weakness for the applicant. I always carefully consider the person and share an area in which they could improve. I definitely don’t seek out something that would be a red flag, but I’ve mentioned they could use more mentoring in X, or sometimes needs encouragement in Y. A peer in another department said she always says the person really has no weaknesses and expressed surprise that I would do more than that.

    On the other hand, I’ve served on search committees and have argued with search committee members who see anything besides “they’re perfect in every way” as a red flag. (Our reference questions are dictated by HR and include a “where could this person grow”-type question.)

    What do you all think?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I am not frequently a reference, but when I have been, I’ve taken your approach and been honest, perhaps more honest than you. My rationale in doing so is that perfect employees don’t exist. We all have weaknesses and anyone telling you otherwise is blowing smoke or downright lying. I know that those hiring managers exist, the ones that think any weakness is a red flag. I personally think they’re delusional and wouldn’t encourage a good friend or colleague to work for someone like that anyway because they likely have unrealistic expectations that the candidate will never live up to.

      I’ve also never had anyone not get a job based on my reference and if I have to choose, I’ll always choose being honest versus embellishing.

    2. Oxford Comma*

      I try to be honest. I work in a small field and that’s my name and reputation attached to the reference I am giving. I generally will frame it in a positive way, but I do not lie.

  23. Adrienne*

    I’m so angry at my husband’s employer and I don’t know how to express it or who even the audience would be but I thought this might be the place to get a good idea of what to do next. But like, in a mature way.
    My husband expressed suicidal ideation at work a couple of weeks ago. A customer heard and reported it to the company and here’s why I’m upset: aside from asking him not to come to work there was scant communication from them. They never called me, his emergency contact, to check on his well being. There was no call to the county for a wellness check. No one who loves him was made aware that he might be in crisis, that he might be a danger to himself.
    I found out eventually what happened. I got him to a top notch person ASAP after I found out. He was diagnosed with a panic attack and is doing great.
    But what if this wasn’t the outcome? What if he had hurt himself and they KNEW AND DIDN’T HELP A PERSON IN POTENTIAL CRISIS?!?!
    What if my kids didn’t have a dad now and I could have prevented it but they didn’t give me a chance.
    I didn’t get real mad until I heard that his manager did try to call him later on the night of the statement…but when he didn’t get an answer he just…stopped trying to get in touch.
    I am so angry.
    How do I express myself in a healthy way?
    Not to his employer, I guess?

    1. LTL*

      Depending on the specifics of what your husband expressed, I’m not sure if his employer did anything wrong. There’s an issue with outing someone’s mental health issues. Obviously it’s tricker with suicide but that’s why the specifics are important.

      I understand that you love and support him but understand that not every spouse would support their SO through a mental health crisis in a healthy and productive way. Your husband’s employer can’t be making that call. I do wonder if anyone from work directed him towards EAP?

    2. Just a PM*

      There’s probably a tricky line here for the company. It’s possible that the company’s policy is only to contact emergency people when there is a physical injury. Because your husband didn’t actually harm himself at work, they couldn’t do much other than send him home or refer him to EAP. I don’t think there’s a way you could address this directly with the employer since it could blow back on your husband.

      From what you wrote in your post, your anger seems to come from “what if” scenarios — which is completely justifiable! Therapy would be a safe place for you to figure out how to express yourself, and to whom. You were also impacted by this. You deserve help too.

    3. WellRed*

      Therapy for you. It doesn’t sound like your husband was incapacitated in any way (they didn’t have to contact emergency services?) and what did your husband say about being told not to go to work? Their communication would be with your husband unless he can’t communicate.
      I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

    4. BRR*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. A lot depends on what was expressed but I don’t necessarily think the company should have done any of that. It’s difficult to make a direct comparison but in terms of medical events /emergency contacts, the scope is pretty limited for when a company steps in.

      Definitely don’t express any of this to his employer. I agree with the others that therapy would be a good option.

    5. All the cats 4 me*

      One thing that strikes me is the possibility the anger you are experiencing may be directed at your spouse (how could he consider that/do that to me and kids…) and yourself (why didn’t I notice this or see what was happening with him…), as well as his employer.

      It is normal and ok for you to feel this way. You may benefit from having a safe place to discuss these reactions and how to cope with them, while supporting your husband. A therapist could help.

      All the best with this tough situation.

    6. Ellyfant*

      As another human also in the throes of a mental health episode, I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this. I’m relieved your husband is getting support.

      While I completely understand your anger, I don’t think his employer is in the wrong. It is illegal for them to share an employee’s private health issues with other individuals. Not just illegal, but really crappy and unethical as well. If my boss contacted my family to say I was seriously depressed I would feel horrified and violated. This is something for me to share with individuals I trust will handle the information in a supportive way – not everyone does, even some of those who love me. It’s not up to my boss to make a decision on who gets this kind of sensitive info.

      I also wouldn’t have wanted my boss to keep contacting me either. The best way they could support me is to let me take leave and give me space. Of course this isn’t the single “right” way to support mental health issues – it’s just what’s right for me personally. It’s not reasonable for an employer to instinctively know what is the best approach for everybody. It’s possible your manager thought your husband wanted privacy and left it up to him to get back to them in his own time.

  24. Millie Mayhem*

    I’m wrapping up my second week at a new job, which has been great so far! My boss, the CEO, is also a former boss and she brought me on to join her team not long after she started working here. I’m here to help her in any way I can, which often includes fielding the many meeting requests she receives.

    My boss recently received a request from a former job applicant, Jane, who wants to meet for coffee. Normally, we would put this kind of meeting off or explain that my boss just doesn’t have the time, but this is a somewhat sensitive request and we aren’t quite sure how to handle. My organization is very member-driven, and Jane is married to one of our members. When she applied for this particular job position, both her husband and the former CEO of our organization contacted my boss to offer their support. Regardless, my boss already had someone else in mind for the position, so the job was offered to and quickly filled by this other person.

    Jane and her husband showed up to an event we were hosting for our members yesterday with the intention of speaking to my boss. The conversation ended up being awkward, and Jane was actually borderline rude to my boss. She indicated she was upset that she never received a response to her application, and expressed her disappointment at not being considered for the job because she felt it was perfect for her. She seemed very full of herself and a little condescending. My boss apologized that Jane didn’t receive a response, and said if she heard of anyone hiring for a similar position, she would let Jane know. Jane and her husband inquired about another position at our org that was also recently filled; my boss explained we have filled all current positions and would not be able to consider any more new hires until after the New Year. Jane asked if they could meet for coffee sometime, and my boss (trying to be nice), said she would be up for that.

    Jane wasted no time and e-mailed my boss last night requesting a coffee meeting next week. My boss is actually going to be out of the office for a little over a week on vacation (which was mentioned to Jane yesterday, but she obviously wasn’t listening). Due to this absence, her schedule is booked solid until the end of next month. My boss texted me this morning and said I could offer Jane something in late November, but I know she really doesn’t want to meet with her. Jane also demonstrated last night that she would not be a good fit for our organization at all, regardless of her experience or credentials. Is there anything else we can do to very politely turn her away? Or is this just going to have to be something my boss will have to endure due to appease everyone involved?

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      All your boss and you can do is keep telling Jane that hirings must go through the official channels. You could mention that since her husband is a member it’s even more important that everything be above board to avoid a conflict of interest.

      1. The New Normal*

        The conflict of interest is a really great way to insist on everything being by the rules. You don’t want favoritism or to create issues.

        Which is, quite frankly, why she shouldn’t be hired.

    2. CatCat*

      Well, your boss is kind of stringing Jane along, especially if there is no hope she is going to be hired here. I get that she is being overly pushy, but it’s on your boss to pushback and shut it down. Instead the boss is suggesting that there could be an opening as early as January and that she’s down for meeting Jane for coffee knowing Jane is hoping for a job at the organization.

      Boss has said she will have the coffee! At this point, I think she needs to “endure” it and also come prepared with setting realistic expectations. “There are no open positions at this time.” “Applications need to go through the official channels.” “Positions are advertised on our website when we’re taking applications.” And if Jane applies again at some point in the future, I would make sure to send a rejection letter instead of leaving her hanging, especially since there is a personal connection with the org.

    3. WFH with Cat*

      I’d reply to her email with …
      – I’m writing at the request of (boss).
      – Due to other scheduling commitments, (boss) will not be free to meet for coffee before late November, but we will be happy to get in touch with you mid-month to see about scheduling something.
      – (Boss) also wanted to ensure that you have all the info/resources you need to apply for any positions here that suit your skills and experience. Our careers page/website is (URL). Please note that all job hunters must apply through that site, so that we can ensure a fair and equitable process for all applicants — and, of course, as you can appreciate, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest in our hiring decisions.
      – Many thanks to you and your husband for your continued support of our organization/mission.

      Hope this is helpful!

  25. Amber Rose*

    All of top management and the owners are here for a shareholder meeting and I am in a unicorn onesie with purple hair. My coworker is an evil clown of some sort and our financial controller is a Hogwarts student though so at least I’m not alone. xD

    I think we’re gonna manage to have a nice Christmas party in spite of it all. We’re finding ways of decorating the shop so it looks less shop-like, individually portioned foods, lots of giant tables and distancing. We only bought stuff from local vendors in order to plug money back into the community, so we will still have a DJ playing music, got a bunch of candles from a single mom (who was SO grateful, and it gives me the warm fuzzies to be able to help her out) and fancy hot chocolate blends and individually wrapped cookies from a couple family businesses. We’re mostly doing “one day off work” as employee gifts, with one or two nicer things thrown in as grand prizes.

    I know it’s not ideal image-wise for us to be spending money when we’re also struggling, but from the perspective of management, a couple thousand dollars in gifts, candles and catering is not gonna make a difference one way or the other to our survival.

    1. Nita*

      How nice! A couple of days ago I saw a photo of an office, with people in it, and my first thought was “these lucky people, they can talk to each other in real life.” And I’m not even that isolated, I work outside the home (not in the office) once a week or so and the family goes places and does stuff on the weekends. But I didn’t realize how much the isolation has gotten to me deep down.

  26. Slutty Toes*

    Cigar smoker here.

    I understand the following:
    – No one should smoke during in-person meetings. It’s just polite not to make people smell my smoke.
    – It’s unacceptable to smoke on zoom meetings.

    I guess I just don’t understand the WHY of 2. I’m not rocking the boat – I’m not going to smoke in meetings even when I’m at home in the room I designate as my home office (which has a smoke eater) – but can someone help me figure out the intuition as to why?

    1. CR*

      It’s rude and looks like you don’t care that you’re in a meeting, you’re just focused on smoking. The thought of having to watch someone smoke on zoom is incredibly off-putting as I find smoking disgusting.

      1. Slutty Toes*

        I appreciate your answer, but I guess I don’t see how “it’s rude” isn’t circular – it’s unacceptable because it’s rude, and it’s rude because it’s unacceptable. I’m not certain I understand why it’s any different from drinking coffee on screen, to take another example that’s treated differently.

        I’ve never seen someone drinking coffee and thought, “that person cares more about coffee than this meeting.”

        1. Chompers*

          You didn’t address this question to me, but I have feelings on it! It’s far more disgusting to me to watch someone suck on the end of something than it is to see them take a sip of a drink.

        2. Kimmy Schmidt*

          To me, it’s a line between what you’d see normally in the office and not. So I don’t mind people drinking coffee, glancing down at papers, putting on a cardigan. But I don’t want to witness my coworkers floss their teeth, read a book, or smoke. Honestly I don’t think I’d say anything, but it feels so intensely personal.

        3. CR*

          You’re being deliberately obtuse. Obviously drinking coffee is socially acceptable in a meeting and smoking is not.

        4. AvonLady Barksdale*

          People take occasional sips of water or coffee. Smoking a cigar (or anything else) is a much more prolonged process. Plus there’s smoke. If you wouldn’t do it in the office, don’t do it when you’re visible on Zoom.

      2. Prudy*

        A lot of people find a lot of things disgusting to look at and have to put up with it. I’d rather watch a clean and groomed person smoke a cigar than watch some of my coworkers, who appear to have given up on showers and brushing their teeth, as well as non stained clothing.

        1. TechWorker*

          This seems like a bit of a straw man – not sure those who object to cigars on camera are arguing that stained clothes and obviously not brushed teeth (would have to be pretty bad to notice on camera, no?) are totally fine and professional.

    2. Chompers*

      It’s incredibly off-putting and is too much of a social habit to integrate into a work meeting. If you want to smoke while on a zoom call with your friends, go right ahead. But I would be annoyed at having to watch someone smoke during a work meeting.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I treat zoom calls the same way I would with an in person meeting. I don’t type emails, work on other projects, fold laundry or anything else that I wouldn’t do if someone was right here. If a meeting goes on for hours, then it’s understood that I need to eat a sandwich, but it’s the same understanding if I was in a meeting room and everyone needed to have a snack.

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

        I’m with AndersonDarling. Treat Zoom meetings with the same professional norms you would in-person, maybe even more for some things because video just seems to amplify distractions in a way that in-person doesn’t for me — it’s just right there 18 inches from my face.

        It’s a little jarring to see someone smoking “on camera” IMO — it hasn’t been allowed on network TV since something like 1970 and I don’t even often seen it in movies anymore.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It might be the distraction factor. We see people smoke cigarettes or vape but for some reason, cigars and pipes attract more attention.

    5. Fiona*

      You’re completely right that it’s no different than drinking coffee on a Zoom. It just has to do with social norms. If they had Zoom back in the 1960s, everyone on an advertising agency web conference would be smoking and nobody would blink an eye.

      But I also think it has to do with the fact that it’s distracting because you wouldn’t do it in an IRL meeting, so it draws attention. People drink coffee in in-person meetings, so seeing that on Zoom won’t really register. Since people don’t smoke during in-person meetings anymore, seeing it on Zoom is distracting due to its novelty.

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It’s because we are treating Zoom meetings the same way we treat in-person meetings. Regardless of platform, they are business meetings, in which smoking is just something You Don’t Do. I recognize that I can’t smell your smoke, and I recognize that probably the logic isn’t sound, but it is something seen as outside the norms of professionalism.

      Just like I don’t want to watch you texting on your phone during our meeting, smoking is one of those things that should be done off-screen, on your own time between meetings.

      Trust me, I get how this reads as illogical! Especially if smoking, to you, is the same thing as drinking coffee, the “Why” behind it will probably never satisfy you.

    7. Firecat*

      Same reasons why you shouldn’t be tucking I to a steak during a zoom meeting. It’s distracting to you and everyone else on the call.

    8. NaoNao*

      Probably because it’s a strictly leisure activity during work time. To me it’s similar to, say, looking at your phone, playing with a Nintendo Switch, or needlepoint. It’s a visible signal that you’re not 100% focused on work.

    9. Former Retail Manager*

      I would venture to guess that it’s because it’s become unacceptable work behavior, since smoking is no longer allowed at most workplaces, and in turn, has moved it into the realm of being considered a more “social” activity and not something you’d see in a professional environment. I could only liken it to drinking a Bud Light vs. drinking coffee, even if having a drink while at work were permitted. I realize one has the ability to hamper your judgment and the other doesn’t, but that’s really the only thing that pops to mind. It just looks……too casual.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I’m old enough to have been working when people still smoked indoors in public places, and sometimes even in their offices or designated spaces at work (but not usually conference rooms).

      If that were still the case, it would be fine, because smoking while working was a thing some people did.

      But nowadays people smoke outside on their break. So smoking is seen as a breaktime or non-work activity.

      It’s rude because everyone else is in work mode, and you’re appearing to signal break mode. It would be like taking a zoom meeting on your back deck with your feet up. There’s no logical reason that would preclude you from thinking/talking about work, but it’s too casual and nonchalant.

    11. Wisteria*

      The “why” of 2) is completely arbitrary. 30 years ago, or maybe 40 years ago, smoking at work was completely acceptable. Smoking on a zoom call, if those had existed, would have been completely acceptable. It is similar to how tank tops and sweatpants should be acceptable because you are in your own home, but they are not because you are still interacting in a professional space. Since you are in a professional space, you follow the social conventions of the office.
      It is a little bit circular. Conventions are not always logical.

  27. On a pale mouse*

    My biggest accomplishment in my current job is one I can’t list on my resume, because it is “Did not strangle annoying co-worker.” We’ll call her MS, for Missing Stair, because she is, and I have reached BEC stage with her. The other day I was annoyed that she accused me of lying to her when she asked me about our boss’s personal life and I said I didn’t know. Then I realized that even if I had known, I would have told her I didn’t, so she wasn’t actually wrong, but I was still annoyed! Management already know about her issues and apparently aren’t going to do anything. Suggestions on adjusting my attitude would be appreciated since that seems my only option at the moment. I tried Alison’s suggestion of pretending you’re observing an alien culture, but all that did was make me want to be unprofessionally snarky about her.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Maybe treat her like Great Aunt Gerty who will leave you a million dollars in her will for putting up with her constant shenanigans? Humour might be your only recourse since management is fine with the status quo.

    2. WellRed*

      Well, is this your typical complaint of her? That she asks inappropriate questions and accuses you of lying? In which case, you could try and respond in a way that doesn’t invite argument. Instead of “I don’t know” you’d say something like, oh “Why do you ask” or “that’s none of our business, do you have the TPS report?”
      If she’s interfering in your work in any way, that’s another thing.

  28. Really Bad Week*

    This may be a bit odd and may be due to me already being frustrated with my job and being more than ready to leave… but it does feel like a bit of a different issue…

    I am finding the people at my job fairly lazy and unintelligent… completely indifferent to doing quality work, being detailed and exhibiting anything resembling excellence… I find that emails we get from HR, IT and other company-wide communications often have errors and more often than not I debate making them aware or not… I find I send emails to my team, clear and concise to the best of my ability, about how to go about submitting forms or other simple tasks… and many often don’t follow them… bothering senior leaders with basic questions which even without having info beforehand, seems foolish to me… even during company-wide webinars, where questions are invited, I’m surprised at the types of things people are bringing up to our C-level execs (how do I send in my old IT equipment?) that it feels like some have no business sense at all.

    I’m feeling like I’m in the completely wrong environment… like I’m going to strain my eyes from rolling them every day and while I know there is nonsense everywhere, I’m exhausted spending so much of my day wasting time on dumb stuff… I want to be in an environment where I am learning things but even my manager plays a little ‘absent-minded professor’, sending confusing and incorrect emails that I have to try to correct, delicately… getting involved in processes that are many levels beneath her only to leave things undone and confusing those that should be responsible…

    Is it me? My current place of employment? or just the distracted world now? the ridiculous corporate world?

    Anyone else dealt with this? Should I just run and stop questioning the situation?

    Thanks,

    1. LTL*

      It sounds like a mismatch between you and your current place of employment.

      You could try job hunting. But in the mean time, is there a place where you can funnel your need to excel (maybe a hobby?) that’s outside of work? It might help you feel less frustrated.

    2. WellRed*

      Do you *need* to correct everything? Is that your role? Are you a manager and your team is going around you (in which case, that’s your issue) or are you correcting coworkers? There’s a big difference.

    3. comityoferrors*

      I think it’s the frustration talking.

      I’ve been in a similar spot and eventually realized it was because I wasn’t fulfilled at my job, was bored and restless, and subsequently spent a lot of time watching the people around me. And criticizing them, because I was harboring so much resentment.

      I think you’ll find people who seem to care less about quality work than you do, or who are less detailed than you, etc., anywhere you go. I still see that in many of my coworkers. But since moving to a role that is more fulfilling at a company with much better culture, I notice these things and then just move on. It doesn’t stick to me like it used to.

      It could also be something in your personal life that has you feeling more on-edge. We tend to manifest those feelings into our day-to-day relationships. Might be worth examining that aspect, especially with the pandemic stress hitting a lot of people hard lately.

      Either way, probably a good idea to dust off your resume and see what else is out there. You don’t sound happy to be at this job.

    4. mako*

      From my experience I think it’s likely your place of employment, and a bit of your frustration speaking.

      When I worked for a smaller company I encountered some problematic people from the get-go, but was willing to overlook the details if it didn’t impact my day to day job. Thinking it was other departments that were managed poorly, but thinking my own department had smart people who were diligent and hard-working. But it proved to be a company wide, and systemic sort of dysfunction that came top-down and my enthusiasm for the work waned quickly.

      I really enjoyed coming back to the larger sized company I work for now (multi-national presence, with approx 25K employees across the country) where even though there may still be pockets of groups that I don’t like to engage with due to unnecessary drama, it’s overall less tolerated and a much more professional, or corporate feeling environment.

      Not fun, nor easy but maybe try to get out and find a better match. Good luck.

    5. Alex*

      Sounds like we work at the same place!

      Actually, for me, this is mostly limited to my own department–my immediate colleagues have absolutely no professional curiosity and are perfectly happy to turn in mediocre work. If they encounter the slightest problem, they don’t try to figure it out. They just ask me, and they think I have some sort of magical property where I just know everything. No, I investigate. I troubleshoot. I don’t automatically know the answer to your problem or why something isn’t working, I figure it out with tools we all have access to. But they just won’t even try, and they aren’t even a little bit embarrassed that they can’t figure stuff out themselves and have to ask me to do it for them. It’s like, “Hm, I don’t know the immediate solution to this problem without expending effort. Guess I have to Slack Alex!” Or even if I tell them that their work has a problem, they say, “do I have to fix it? Can I just leave it?” Seriously, yes, you should fix it!

      It is SO frustrating when you are a person who takes pride in your work, even if it isn’t of particular meaning or interest to you, just because it is YOUR WORK and you care about doing well for the sake of doing well, and no one around you values that at all.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        LOL this strikes a chord with me!

        …do I have to fix it?

        SRSLY?!

        I often review documents before they are submitted to the federal agency for approval which are conspicuously blank in the MANDATORY RESPONSE section. So I get to tell people (who earn much much more than me), that, why yes, when they use the ambiguous term “mandatory”, it really is optional, but hey, you know what, I heard tell that if we pander to them and complete these two questions, the request gets approved MUCH faster, and THAT is a better thing for our client.

        Then I go home and drink enough wine to wash the crazy out of my brain.

  29. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

    I’m updating my resume for the first time in nearly 10 years (the “most recent” resume I have is dated Nov. 2010). I’ve been in the same job for 9 years, and I’m finally looking to move on, due to a lack of opportunities to advance in my division.

    Question 1: how would you note a reclassification on a resume? My job title changed about two years ago to better reflect the duties and responsibilities I’ve taken on over the years. The new title didn’t change my job — the changes in my job lead to the new title. (I’m a staff member at a large university.)

    Question 2: When you’ve been in the same job for almost 10 years, how do you show that some of your duties have changed (like certain projects and events are no more due to changing times, but I’ve started doing other projects and events in their place) and that you’ve taken on more responsibility? Do you provide date ranges for certain things on your resume? I would also address it in general in the cover letter providing one or two examples most relevant to the job I’m applying for — but my job as it current stands has changed a lot due to systems changing, organization goals/missions changing, me taking on higher level responsibilities as fellow coworkers retire and leave, etc.

    I’m also open to any other advice from those who have already moved on from a position they were in for a long time.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      For Q1: I would put your current title and then, parenthetically, your old title. Something like:

      Llama Groomer (reclassified from Animal Caregiver) May 2010-Present

      For Q2: For work that used to be part of your role but no longer is, use past tense. For work you do now, use present tense. I wouldn’t include dates unless it was relevant or truly important. But overall, ensure your resume is focused on accomplishments rather than duties – this might help you avoid this issue altogether!

    2. Ali G*

      I was in a similar position when I left my first job (8.5 years). No one is going to remember which jobs you did with which title, so it’s OK to organize it in a way that makes sense to the reader that may not be 100% chronologically true.
      I had a ton of titles, some meaningless (I had a CEO that altered my job title every time my function altered slightly), so I just use the one I had when I left and the ones that showed progression before that.
      It was something like this:
      Llama’s Inc (2011-2020)
      Director, Llama Product Quality
      **Accomplishments that make sense for this title and relate to job
      Program Coordinator/Manager/Director
      **Accomplishments that show growth, breadth or whatever I need

      Basically no one is going to check up on you and ask your former employer (In 2010 when Princess was a Program Coordinator, how did she do on X?” It’s going to be “Princess said she is expert at X, would you agree with that assessment?”
      Hope this helps!

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I was at my last job for a very long time, through four title changes (associate llama examiner, llama examiner, senior llama examiner, and director of alpaca exams), so I did as follows:

      Ungulates Inc., 2005-present
      Director of Alpaca Exams

      Public speaking:
      – Enhance the reputation of Ungulates Inc. by speaking at industry events, appearing on podcasts, and writing guest posts and op-eds for industry publications.
      – Hosted the Llamas Llamas Everywhere podcast for five years, generating substantial advertising revenue while promoting the work of Ungulates Inc. within the llamasphere.

      Ungulate examination:
      – Create and direct the alpaca examination department, bringing in $200,000 of alpaca examination revenue in the department’s first year.
      – During 10 years as a llama examiner, progressed rapidly from associate to senior examiner and won Ungulates Inc.’s Year’s Best Examiner award four times.

      Present and past tense help to make it clear what you currently do and what you used to do, and grouping accomplishments by category shows how you continue to progress in your career.

    4. JanetM*

      For question 1, I’d do something like this:

      Department (date to date)
      Current title (as former title, date to date)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Similar boat here. After a long time here, my title changed to “Llama Wrangler III” from “Llama Wrangler II”.
      What gets weird is I was hired as “llama wrangler” not “junior llama wrangler.” And when we were acquired by big company, they didn’t let us know they were renaming the positions. So I don’t really know when that title change happened. But it sure looks like a 2nd promotion doesn’t it?

      I’ll be listing 2 titles next to each other next to Acquiring-Corporation, and the original one next to Acquired-Small-Business, using the merger date for the change….but I may bullet-point them all together.

  30. helpwithhiring*

    What do you do when your team is hiring someone you don’t like?

    Going to try to make it short: during COVID my team has been assigned employees from other teams in our office (temporarily) to assist us. One of the people assigned has shown extreme interest in getting hired on permanently to our team (he doesn’t like his current team). He is very good at sucking up to my supervisors and other higher level up people on the team. However, he treats people he doesn’t feel the need to suck up to horribly and he is also quite frankly just a bad worker and not very intelligent. Examples: He made another temporary employee cry because he berated her for the fact the he was “doing her job” (he was actually doing one of the bare minimum expected things of his in his role); he is overconfident and regularly makes random decisions about how certain aspects of the job should be done (a few weeks ago he decided to change a process and do something that we decided was a bad idea months ago after discussing it and trying it and then he went on to rudely argue with a temporary employee about it); he is very sensitive and sulks if he gets ANY type of feedback that is less than positive; I’ve been told by other temporary employees that they noticed he has an attitude problem; I’ve also been told by his “real” team members from his job that he has been reassigned from that he has a bad reputation on the team and regularly messed things up. The most frustrating part of this is, several months ago my supervisor asked what I thought of him and I did tell him about some of the attitude problems (mostly in regards to be unwilling to take feedback, I didn’t at the time go into full detail because I really try not to talk negatively about people at work), and my supervisor said he had noticed and would talk to him, which I’m unsure ever happened, but if he did get spoken to, his attitude hasn’t changed at all!

    Now that we have a job position open, the employee I don’t like plus the entire rest of my team/supervisor are saying he is a shoe-in and telling him how to fill out the application. I genuinely don’t think I would want to keep working on this team if he stays in post-COVID, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate or if it would make me come across as petty to bring my concerns up to my supervisor who LOVES this guy (especially since I’m about to start contract negotiations in the next few weeks to stay on the team permanently after 2021). I’m the only young and “not important” member of the team so the rest of them haven’t really seen his full bad behavior. What do you guys think I should do?

    1. WellRed*

      Are you an employee and he is a temp? If so, you do have some standing to bring this up, especially if you’ve witnessed this behavior. If you are a temp, I’d be more hesitant

      1. WellRed*

        “The most frustrating part of this is, several months ago my supervisor asked what I thought of him and I did tell him about some of the attitude problems (mostly in regards to be unwilling to take feedback, I didn’t at the time go into full detail because I really try not to talk negatively about people at work)”

        OK, missed this. You’ve been specifically asked in the past. Maybe bring up more specifically, one or two things (berating another temp is pretty bad. Other employees also disliking working with him is also serious.)

      2. helpwithhiring*

        Sort of hard to explain, but I am a government employee from one agency placed at another agency on a term limit, so the contract they are renewing for me is to make it so I stay permanently rather than returning to my other agency (but I would still be employed by my same agency). They do treat me very much as part of their team but I’m not actually “one of them”

        1. helpwithhiring*

          and to make it more clear, I’ve been on this team the past two years and he is another permanent employee in the office, but temporarily assigned to my team to help us with our COVID response work

  31. jfgulia*

    Mainly a vent… My org and industry is one that has had to do “big shifts” in the wake of the pandemic. I’m one of the lucky ones in that not only did I keep my job, but I got a promotion in July (with a 25% raise). I mostly am loving my new position, but there is one project that I’m managing that I abhor. Basically, we hired a 3rd party company (this was done pre-promotion – I was not part of the hiring or decision-making process) to polish some teapots for distribution. They are terrible and panic any time we give a note or ask for a change. They also have zero idea how to communicate. Also, the project itself is fundamentally flawed. Basically, we took prototype teapots with some errors in their crafting, sent them to this (very expensive) 3rd party polishing company that basically panics or shrugs anytime we point out that they missed a spot, and then are going to sell the teapots to the public. Meanwhile, the potters who made the prototypes are frustrated, because, obviously, the teapots don’t represent their best or final work, but we are moving forward anyway, because… pandemic. And I have to talk everyone off the ledge and make them believe it will all be ok and this project is worthwhile and everyone will still appreciate the teapots (again, because pandemic). But I totally agree with the potters and actually think this was never a good idea AND that the polishing company is doing a bad job, but y’know, towing the company line and still working to make the project as strong as it can be. At least I think I’m making headway on putting out a disclaimer explaining that the teapots are prototypes (which I think the audience will understand because… pandemic) which should calm everyone down a bit. It just sucks to be the main advocate/representative for a project you don’t believe in.

    NOTE: There are no safety stakes with using the prototype teapots – this is very much in the realm of entertainment vs. an actual product that would cause harm/distress in the prototype phase. So the stakes are low and the objections are more about pride in the work and a completed product vs. something that is unethical to put into the world in prototype phase.

  32. Not an Independent Contractor*

    I am leaving my current job next week for many reasons, but one of which is their misclassification of employees as independent contractors. After I was hired, I showed up to my first day and was informed I’d be receiving a 1099 instead of a W-2, just like virtually all the other workers. I immediately found myself another job and I’m hitting the road. Based on the way things work, I (and most of the other employees) are in no way Independent Contractors according to IRS definitions. I plan to report them to the IRS as soon as I’m out the door, but I’m just wondering if anyone knows what kind of negative fallout this could cause to the other remaining workers. I know they’re being taken advantage of, but I also don’t want it to result in them losing their jobs (especially since ICs don’t usually qualify for unemployment). The other people here are super nice, and I don’t want to harm them, but I’m also not willing to let this company get away with how they’re treating their employees. Anyone experienced at this stuff?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I work for the 3 letter agency you speak of. In the short-term (6 months ish) there will likely be no fallout to the other IC’s that are there. in the long-term, one really can’t say. That is up to the business owners and depends upon whether they want to come into compliance by properly treating employees as employees (when the facts and circumstances support that), what the financial hit is to the business as a result of the employment tax audit (if one even occurs….read on below), and the business’ ability to bear that financial hit. It can be pretty substantial depending upon the number of employees and compensation paid.

      Also, there is a possibility that you will fill out an information report or whistleblower claim and nothing will ever happen because the IRS is unbelievably short staffed and every agent has an inventory and can only work so many cases. The more information you can provide with your report, the more likely the case will be to get worked.

      In the interim, there is a form that you and your fellow IC’s can file with the IRS asserting that you’ve been misclassified as an IC. It’s Form SS-8 and can be found @ http://www.irs.gov. It asks a lot of questions and the more detail you can provide, the better. Many of the questions on the form address the criteria that serve as the factual basis for determining whether you are an employee or independent contractor.

      1. Marny*

        Yeah, I intend to fill out an SS8, but fortunately I only worked there for a month. But I’m definitely able to provide a lot of information and it’s about 12-15 employees who are being misclassified. I just figure the employees who are still there are too afraid to rock the boat but I hate that they’re being unfairly treated.

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          Not in the US, so this may not help.

          In Canada someone in your situation could also raise this with the Employment Insurance agency of the federal government. They get pretty crabby about EI premiums unlawfully not being collected and could trigger a payroll audit. Subject, of course, to staffing and prioritization as well.

    2. Natalie*

      I don’t know that there’s a way to predict what kind of effect this would have on the other employees. I don’t really anticipate that the current Department of Labor or IRS are real on top of this kind of investigation. Also, for what it’s worth, *misclassified* ICs do generally qualify for unemployment, because they’re employees.

      For your taxes, I’m assuming you’ve come across SS-8, which is the form you use to ask the IRS to make a determination. At tax time, you can file Form 8919 if you don’t want to pay their share of FICA.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      You might also want to file a complaint with your state labor department. My state also encourages people to file complaints with the state Attorney General.

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

      It didn’t kill Microsoft when they were sued by current and former “independent contractors” and fined by the IRS for the same thing. It might affect some jobs but they presumably still need employees to do the work so they can’t fire all the “contractors”. How did they not bring this up prior to your first day though…because that’s fraud.

  33. LTL*

    This is more of a vent than anything. Not looking for advice per say.

    I’m frustrated with the job hunt. I have a few things past the initial application stage (either take homes or interviewing- though I suspect one position I was interviewing is trying to ghost me) so it’s definitely not the lowest point in the job search I had. But I could have been in line for more desirable roles if it wasn’t for the pandemic. It’s a relatively small problem all things considered, but it’s so unfortunate to have all these plans to finally, finally take life by the reigns after you spent so much time settling, only for the world to end. And then there’s always the anxiety in job hunting of never knowing exactly when you’ll cross the finish line.

    I really hope I don’t end up somewhere where the pay isn’t enough for me to get my own place, or where work-life balance isn’t a priority. But given everyone’s struggles with the pandemic, part of me feels like that’s so much to ask for.

    1. violet04*

      Yeah, job hunting is rough. My husband was laid off a month ago and has applied to close to twenty jobs so far. It feels like all the applications just go into a black hole. One recruiter contacted him about an interview and has now ghosted him.

      He has the same concerns about finding a new position that is at least around the same salary and work-life balance is important to him too. There is one company that seemed promising but he found that they only have openings for third shift working 7 PM – 7 AM including weekends. We talked about it and decided it may be better to take a slight pay cut just to have a more normal schedule.

      Wishing you all the best with your job search!

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      No, this is real for you and you don’t have to downplay it because other people are also struggling. It’s a global pandemic that is costing people their lives and their livelihoods. It doesn’t mean that your hopes and dreams don’t matter. This year my mother passed away, the pandemic started almost right away, a family member got COVID (recovering slowly), and my job was precarious for several months. When I was telling this to my doctor, she said, you have the right to feel whatever you feel, sad, scared, depressed because there is no firm foundation right now for most people. It’s not a lot to ask for, really. Good luck with your search!

    3. AwkwardTurtle*

      Why do you feel like that’s so much to ask for? I believe those are reasonable needs and that they can be met with the right job/employer. I’m in the same boat for job hunting but my problem is that instead of being anxious about crossing the finish line, I have visions of escapism and dreaming up my life with the new job(s).

    4. Malika*

      Before the pandemic I would have had my pick, and now I just need to get off welfare and firmly back into work. It is a bitter pill to swallow. My parents experienced bankruptcy when I was a child. They had great difficulties, but came out at the other end. 2020 reminds me of then. I try to exercise, develop new skills, think positive thoughts and focus towards the future, as in these periods in your life staying fit and happy is the key to survival. But it’s a tough road to be on. I hope things turn around soon.

    5. N.*

      I hear you, and am in the same boat. I am so frustrated with how this damn plague has been handled in the US (my state/city hasn’t been too bad, but there are jerks everywhere). This time last year I was feeling like I’d finally figured out things in my life, an now, not so much. It’s hard to stay positive. I have always been able to come out ahead after a setback, but right now it’s just so difficult. However, what you want is not too much. Best of luck to you!

  34. The Right Kind of Help?*

    I, a trans man, have just been put on a team with a project manager who is a garrulous, pompous blowhard. In addition to being generally pushy and oblivious to others, he speaks condescendingly to women at our company, calling them “dear” and getting the names of his own team members mixed up. He even misspells the names of female clients in emails. I’ve been asked by women on the team to keep an eye out and help curb this if possible.

    My plan so far is to say things like “Oof, I know you didn’t meant that the way it came out!” and PM with spelling corrections to emphasize that this sort of thing matters.

    Anyone have scripts that might help?

    1. The New Normal*

      This seems much more like a job for his boss or HR. His sexist behavior is illegal and harassment.

    2. Reba*

      I’m not sure from what you wrote how long or how well you know this PM. You can think about whether it would be beneficial to have some conversation at a point farther down the road about the big picture — “I’ve noticed a pattern in your communications and meetings, I think it’s unintentional* but it’s hurting the team, and possibly putting the company at risk, let me tell you what I’m seeing” — or whether there’s really no hope of that having a positive effect.

      If the latter, I think it’s still worthwhile to push back in the moment as you have suggested. There is also a lot you can do in meetings to help ensure the women on your team have their ideas heard and not talked over or credit stolen. Meanwhile, encourage people to document this stuff and continue to let them know you’ll back them if/when they take it higher.

      *just giving cover

    3. WellRed*

      Are you above these women on the team in hierarchy? Otherwise, I”m not clear on what’s happening here/what the goal is.

      1. The Right Kind of Help?*

        No, I am just a team member too. They’re asking me to be an ally because our project manager is being gross and I’m very willing to do be an ally. It’s the part about how to do that effectively that I’m asking about. (Tact does not come easy to me and that sometimes undermines me in times like this, where the goal is to change someone’s behaviors without our having to escalate it to his boss or HR.)

        1. WellRed*

          You’re very kind but this isn’t your responsibility, beyond supporting them, or backing up anything you’ve witnessed if asked.

    4. ...*

      I would encourage any women experiencing this behavior report it up the proper channels such as their manager and HR.

  35. intergalactic_fop*

    I graduated school in May and I’ve been trying to find museum internships because I wanted some real experience before going to grad school (also my health would not allow me to get back into school so soon). But it’s been so dispiriting–with covid-related suspensions, and nonresponsive organizations when i have application questions, and my own mental issues, it feels like everything is a dead end. I WANT to work! I really do!! I want to be productive and research artifacts and help with public programs! I want to give tours and wear funny outfits! But somehow I was pushed out of school with no idea of the seeking process. And NOW every day feels like I’m getting closer and closer to “too late! too late!” and all the opportunities I might have had are shot. A 22 year-old has-been. Reasons to get out of bed or eat more than the bare minimum keep feeling more distant. I have a therapist but there’s only so much insight she can give me on job-searching in public history. All I have the capacity for is hiding from the world and sewing 18th-century clothes.
    I guess I could just suck it up and go to grad school without the real-world experience I wanted but every time my STEM dad-of-a-certain-age brings up grad school as some magical and inexpensive way to get a plush job I want to scream and cast off academia entirely.

    1. NaoNao*

      I would try connecting with alumni networks from the school where you graduated. If they don’t have a specific department network for your topic/interest, they may have a general career placement office or you may be able to circle back and find special projects or jobs on campus that might allow networking. Many career placement offices are terrible in terms of resume advice etc but what you really want is their Rolodex/contacts. My mom was able to get a first job that opened doors from her school’s career placement office so I always recommend at least trying this route.

      I would also consider volunteer or adjacent jobs to the field you want to be in, or perhaps doing some freelance stuff like a Youtube channel, blog, or IG that showcases your interests and abilities. I was able to get a leg up in an interview that lead to a job due to an industry-specific blog I was keeping up at the time.

      Good luck I feel your pain.

    2. Reba*

      My organization is still accepting applications for spring and summer terms for interns! It’s definitely not too late!! Half or more of our facilities are not open to the public, though, so the opportunities for interns are fewer and remote. (so no tours or outfits, although I don’t think we had interns doing that even in the Before Times)

      If you are looking something to do in the meantime that is field relevant, what about online volunteering (often this looks like transcription)? My org has “digital volunteers” and I think quite a few others do, too.

      Also your dad’s advice is bad, but you know that already :)

      When I was a student and in between studenting, I definitely sent many applications and emails into the void. It’s hard.

    3. KH*

      I’d recommend broadening your scope of jobs and internships you’re looking at. I like NaoNao’s ideas, and think that gaining transferrable skills, and being able to showcase your skillsets, is a smart idea. As someone who went to grad school for Museum Studies, I can say I have mixed experiences & question whether it’s always the best path forward because it’s a really tough job market. After going to graduate school, I have taken jobs outside the museum field because they pay more and were a better fit for my goals and situation. I hope to return to the museum field eventually and was also volunteering at museums pre-COVID. Try to go easy on yourself (I know, easier said than done) — it’s a tough time to be job/internship searching and thinking about career paths. Wishing you the best of luck!

  36. Nita*

    I’ve been wondering, if you need to get in touch with someone these days, how long do you keep trying to contact them before you give up and go around them by calling their coworkers/other people on the project? I know everyone is busy and possibly very ovewhelmed, and I don’t want them to look bad because of this. But also, after a few days of not getting responses to calls or emails on something supposedly urgent, I start to wonder whether this person is at work at all (what if they’re not well, or they’ve quit, or who knows what else?) And of course I can’t just pop into their office to see if they’re around (if they’re a coworker), or call their office’s main number and ask if they’re in…

    1. what would you do*

      Could you cc their manager or someone who might directly/ indirectly be related to your question? Maybe since no one is being “seen” in the office, they might not realize the urgency to your question if you’re not popping in often.

    2. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      I’ve had a number of people (outside my company but working together on a project) go silent over the past 7 months… not gonna lie, I’ve legitimately had to search for obituaries to see if someone died. One had indeed died. :-{

    3. violet04*

      I think if it’s been a few days and this is an urgent request, it is reasonable to check with their coworkers or manager to see if there is someone else could assist with the issue.

    4. Nita*

      Thank you everyone! I guess I’m not being too unreasonable by going to other people eventually. Usually there’s someone else who’s also involved in the same project, so I’m not asking completely random people.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Definitely ask a second person. We had someone go on a trip to help with a family situation (both low% areas) and then get stuck there when that area became an unexpected hotspot & was locked down. (See X until Y’s laptop arrives.)
      And people move on, for good & bad reasons.
      (I had the awkward experience recently of finally having a hard-to-reach manager reply to my message… just to tell me who to contact instead because he’d just been let go.)

  37. what would you do*

    This is a “is it appropriate to ask someone professionally” question. In general topics, I know this might be an inappropriate question given COVID. I volunteer for a very small organization. We had a healthy financial standing prior to COVID – not as much of a surplus as I would like but more than enough to sustain us through COVID. I tend to be more conservative and like having a big cushion but that’s me.

    We were unable to have our fundraiser this year. We’re just glad that everyone is safe. Pending organizational laws and COVID regulations we’re aiming to postpone until end of 2021/ early 2022. We are expecting to have to reformat our fundraiser in order to socially distance.

    One of the things we do at our fundraiser is a gift basket raffle. Obviously everyone / every company is hurting so we’ve gotten creative in what we are going to offer. We’re trying to plan ahead for all possible scenarios, which means we’re in our planning phases now 1 – 1 1/2 years before the event . So far we’ve had a lot of positive responses that will cut costs, help local businesses and even have a few larger businesses interested. Yeah!

    Here’s my question… we’ve only asked for donations from companies that we know have surplus of things (from our research and conversations) or can meet other criteria (that isn’t part of this question).

    Is it rude to ask for a specific donation? I know beggars can’t be choosy.

    Let me give an example. We have a local author who is promoting her book. She is very interested in working with us as her books touch upon our charity cause in a fun way. She has written 3 books – A, B, C. Her publisher has given her multiple copies of these books for such donation purposes for her to do with what she wants. Now we would be greatful for any donation. We are so appreciative of her looking to work with us. However one of our gift baskets focuses on subject B.

    Would it be rude to say we’re greatful for any donation, but would love a copy of B to go with our gift basket raffle theme? Given our finances we are trying to cut corners where we can, hence would prefer not to have to purchase Book B.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “We’re so excited you’d like to help. We’re doing themed gift baskets that will fit Book B perfectly. I hope that will work for you.”

      If she’s run out of Book B, your follow up could be to ask what she thinks would pair well for a basket for book A or C.

    2. Llellayena*

      I think that particular ask is just fine. You have the option of several different items that are all of relatively the same value. If she was going to donate something it would be a book, so she might actually be grateful to know which one would be best received. It would be different if you were asking, say, BMW to donate a car instead of a keychain…

    3. WFH with Cat*

      I think this is a good idea and see no reason for you to try to justify it by explaining that you don’t want to have to buy the book. Just treat it as a mutually beneficial request: Your org wants to offer a really attractive and exciting gift basket, and the local author’s name and book(s) will be promoted in event materials, emails etc. (If you aren’t planning to publicize the gift donors, definitely think about doing so, as that’s a major reason many do.) And, of course, you can focus on building any connection that the author already has to your org with special thanks for her previous (or ongoing) support, etc.

      Good luck with your fundraising!

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m a professional fundraiser – it’s fine and normal to ask for a specific thing! People want to help and if you are looking for (a) specific thing(s) it’s beyond appropriate to ask for them in particular. In fact I would argue it’s best to ask for something specific instead of putting the work on them to figure out what you might be interested in and able to use.

      1. hmmmm*

        I am really enjoying the fundraiser. I would love to chat to hear about how you got into such a profession!

  38. Potatoes gonna potate*

    For the longest time I’ve been reading about mothers who decide to leave the workforce (or never enter it) because calculations showed that daycare would eat up their wages so there would be no point to them working.

    Now a few years back I read something that—to me—was groundbreaking. That while finances would still be tight for a few years, working (and thus paying for childcare) pays off in the long run, at least in terms of career growth and salary. This was the first time I’d ever read an argument with that stance.

    I’m not sure if it was an actual study, or just anecdotes but I’d be interested in reading more about it if anyone is familiar with what I’m referring to.

    If anyone can anyone point me in the right direction I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

    1. what would you do*

      I can’t point you to any sources, but I think for most families it’s a personal choice. With the internet it is very easy to research the pros vs cons, short term vs long term effects. Plus for some it’s not just a money decision. I’m sure you can ask anyone who can give you their opinion on what works best for them.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Should have added, It’s not a personal decision I’m trying to make for myself. Just curious about the argument against staying home because I’ve heard the daycare argument so often and wondered about the “other side” of it.

        1. what would you do*

          I think (personally) the big thing for the “other side” is financial – lost wages/ starting over years later, retirement savings and investments slowed, social security being less than if you had worked, what type of life you can afford

          *I’m not sure if I am interpreting the “other side” correctly. I’m taking it as what would be other reasons other than daycare that would factor into why one should NOT stay home.

          1. Littorally*

            Right, that’s the thing that I think of immediately.

            A kid only needs daycare for a few years — even if you remain a SAHP up until they start full-time school, that’s a max of 5 years. But 5 years out of your career is enormous for lost wages, lost 401k contributions (if you get them), lost ground. Over the remaining decades of one’s career, I could easily see the math not working out so well in favor of staying home.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              As long as there is physically enough cash in the family in those early years to pay for daycare and housing and food and medicine/insurance and clothes. That simply is not always the case.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Are you referring to the “Want to Grow the Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis” report, prepared by Ready Nation and Council for a Strong America? These look like policy groups so I can’t speak to their biases or quality of the report, but this report includes several citations and other studies about this issue. Looks like university professors worked on it, and I bet they’d be happy to share more research if you reached out to them.

    3. higheredrefugee*

      I would say the other factor that gets left out of various analyses and discussions is retirement savings which can be very difficult to make up, which is a factor that kept some of my friends working. I had a friend who who was at break even at one point, but decided to stick it out at that point due to that concern. Well, she’d have been prety antsy as SAHM too, so that helped.

    4. Zzz*

      There was a book I read, probably published in like 2006 or 2007, and I can’t find it now- apologies! It collected a lot of studies to show that stepping off the track of your career can permanently bend your lifetime earning curve. The author’s point was, maybe you can swing that now- but what if (god forbid) you are widowed? Or divorced? Life happens. The impact of not working for several years on your lifetime earnings depends partly on your career (if you are a waitress, it might not alter your later earning potential to stop working- though even there, maybe you’d move up to manager?). And even if your earning potential does go way down, that still might be the right path for you! It’s obviously personal. Money isn’t everything. But look at the issue not as “in the next 12 months, will it make sense?” but rather as “in the next 5 years, will it make sense?” or even “in the next 10 years, will it make sense?” For me, that includes, “if I’m only taking care of kids and not working outside the home with my own ‘life,’ will I lose myself/identity/sanity?” And as for how much time to stay out of the workforce- that’s another case where the longer you’re out, the harder it is to get back into it, and certainly at higher levels of pay. It looks like there are lots of studies you can find- googling ‘opt out’ and ‘lifetime earnings’. Leanin.org might be a good source.

      And personally speaking: this is a hard question. I work a full time-plus type job, and have little kids. Nightmare during the pandemic! With schools open again it’s doable again, and I know that as they get older it gets so much easier (i.e. the energy for my youngest is SO MUCH more than my oldest, who is hard but nothing like the little guy, energy- and time-wise.) No easy answers, for sure.

      1. DaisyAvalin*

        I stopped working when I had Child, because the childcare costs would have meant we couldn’t pay other (minor but there) bills even with us both working!
        This line from you:
        For me, that includes, “if I’m only taking care of kids and not working outside the home with my own ‘life,’ will I lose myself/identity/sanity?”
        this is why, when Child started school at 5 I found a retail position with hours than meant I could still do the school runs but wasn’t locked into a school run/housework/errands loop that was by this point 3 years of driving me crazy even without the school runs! As it turns out, I really enjoy the job I’ve fallen into, the hours are great for me, and I much prefer it to sitting in an office, and I’d always made sure that I had interests/times outside the house doing things without Child/not house-related, so that I did have a life outside being a Mum 24/7!

    5. Malika*

      One of my former managers i s a very succesful lawyer. Her daycare costs were eye watering (in my country you pay a different rate per tax bracket) and she worked full time. She chalked up the costs to career investment, and kept on going. She now has two children in school, a thriving career and knows she can stand on her own two feet if something would happen to her husband.

      I have all day for arguments as to whether daycare has drawbacks to the potential of your child’s development, because that really merits a good discussion. If someone would rather be a SAHM, I would support the decision that is best for them. But if you give up work because of daycare costs in my country, you are diddling yourself out of a lot of career opportunities and salary growth. And that is worth far more than the daycare costs.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That depends entirely on the home environment and the nature of the daycare available. Kids benefit from face-to face interaction, the availability of rich sensory experiences, socialization, routine, and exploratory play.

          If the home environment is deprived or the family is stressed or preoccupied, they may be better off in daycare. If they have a fulltime parent who is able to provide lots of attention and engagement, they will likely be better off at home.

          For most kids in average situations, it’s probably about even.

    6. Violetta*

      If there’s two parents, don’t see childcare costs as eating up MOM’S wage. It’s something that comes out of both parents’ because, well, the kid belongs to both. This issue too often gets reduced to “mom might as well stay at home because she doesn’t make much more than what we’d pay in childcare”.

      Everyone needs to choose what’s right for their family. But like you mention, there’s long term consequences to going on the ‘mommy track’. Depending on what field you’re in, your experience can become outdated quick. It’ll become harder to break back into the working world after a few years (not to mention we don’t know the impact COVID will have). And you’re likely taking a serious hit to your earning potential.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        This issue too often gets reduced to “mom might as well stay at home because she doesn’t make much more than what we’d pay in childcare”.

        BINGO.

        So–I come from a very conservative background where everyone follows traditional gender roles, dad works mom stays home, “family harmony” etc. So I never really had role models and bought in to the “daycare costs a lot so mom stays home because she doesn’t earn much” thinking. But…my life now at 35 is a million times better than what I thought it would be when I was 18 (thank God). Thankfully, my husband is supportive of whatever choice I make, so that’s why I’m not looking for much advice for myself. Again I know this is a choice but I personally know lots of SAHMs who don’t really seem to enjoy it very much and this is the #1 reason they give. And aside from this forum, I haven’t seen as much discussion on whether moms should continue their careers (which probably means I need to expand my horizons so welcome to learn of any more reading or blogs etc!)

        1. Anon Lawyer*

          I’m surprised you haven’t seen much discussion of it. A sizable majority of mothers in the US work now.

        2. RagingADHD*

          All the SAHMs I know are very happy with it, while there’s a noticeable minority of the moms I know with outside careers who are not happy about it.

          I think the key is not working or SAH, but whether you feel like you chose your situation, or got stuck with it.

    7. Generic Name*

      I’m guessing this calculation assumes a professional job with 401k matching and a career track of upward mobility. It would indeed affect lifetime earnings (years of working experience plus retirement savings earned) to step away for several years, but if you work at say, Wal-Mart, I don’t think it would matter too much financially, as you aren’t missing out on contributing to a 401k or racking up years of experience and therefore raises.

      1. The New Normal*

        But even if you were working at Wal-Mart, you’d lose out on the seniority that comes with their college scholarships for employees.

    8. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

      There’s quite a few articles on the pensions aspect if you google “pension gender gap” – basically when a lot of women have children (late 20s/early 30s) are prime pension contribution time, because you give the money invested by you and your employer time to grow. But if you have 2 children, in my country that can be up to 24 months out just on mat leave, let alone giving up work after that is over. Even if you get a contribute more per month in your 40s, it still won’t equal the smaller amount invested in your 20s, as you’ve sacrificed the compound interest.

      That’s all from a UK point of view though, and we do legally require that the employer pay a minimum of 3% of salary for all employees into a pension pot if the earn over £10k per year.

    9. self employed*

      It’s just simple math. Not working = no increase in wages over time and lost progress up the income curve, which generally can’t be made up and compounds over time; no contributions to social security/ retirement; loss years of experience leading to promotions/raises, etc. It’s a significant financial loss to any stay at home parent. Taking a “my income is barely paying for childcare” approach is a short-sighted and sexist viewpoint and doesn’t add up for professional workers.

    10. RagingADHD*

      This is a factor that absolutely should be considered when making the calculation. Which way the math winds up working out is going to be highly dependent on the job/career, the family finances, and the other costs & benefits.

      If you’re looking at a situation where there is little or no upward path, just COL increases, and no employer contribution to retirement/pension, then those considerations don’t make as much impact. If the costs of daycare plus lifestyle costs of having both parents work (commuting, taxes, work wardrobe, food, and outsourcing tasks you don’t have time for) would wind up more than the additional income, then there wouldn’t be any retirement savings anyway.

      This doesn’t necessarily have to be about whether Mom works. It’s a larger question – both parents need to consider their career potential, flexibility, etc. As well as short and long term costs. Framing this as being about Mom’s job is a holdover from the days when a woman being the breadwinner for a family was considered a joke or a failure.

      There’s no single right answer, bc there are so many variables. But long-term thinking should definitely be part of the process.

      As should lateral thinking: do both parents need to work full time? Do both need to work 9-5?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The discussion could benefit by generalization to include couples where the lower earning parent is male, or where it’s not a m/f relationship.
        (A long ago friend of a friend was a great fulltime at-home dad…easy decision because wife was an exec and he was not. He was using the childcare years to work on his art and was starting to sell in galleries–and still taking flack. )

    11. Can Can Cannot*

      There was some very interesting work published by Claudia Goldin of Harvard in 2014 that looked at the factors driving male/female wage differences. The top factor was the amount of time in the workforce, which impacted women’s wages primarily as a result of leaving the workforce (even temporarily) after children were born. It has a big impact.

      I recommend the work of Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times, who writes for the NYT Upside section, which focuses a lot on data driven journalism. She’s great, and introduced me to Goldin’s work.

      Here’s the Goldin reference: Claudia Goldin, “A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter,” American Economic Review 2014, 104(4): 1–30

  39. Box of Kittens - spooky work thread?*

    Hi all, I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a “spooky happenings at work” post this year but I have loved reading the ones from the archives. Alison, I know you may be planning a spooky thread post, but if not, I’d love to hear any new scary work stories here! (Or I will be happy to repost this on the weekend thread if that would be more appropriate.)

    1. Tamer of dragonflies*

      Id love to see this as well.The place I used to work for was straight up haunted…like, I noped outa there and sat in my car untill someone showed up.

  40. OptimisticStrategist*

    I unexpectedly received a major promotion to supervisor of a newly created department that was essentially built on the premise of “You are very good at what you do and it’s becoming increasingly important, let’s put some manpower behind that.” I have very limited managerial experience but I believe I have good instincts and I have read this blog extensively. I will have two direct reports, one of whom is a coworker who is very happy with this development and who I’m already friendly-not-friends with. The second is a new hire.

    Despite being moderately new to the company and to the office world in general, at this point I have an excellent reputation. One of my greatest challenges here will be ensuring the responsibilities that currently only I know how to do continue to be carried out while also hiring, training, and managing.

    Any thoughts or advice is welcome!

    1. what would you do*

      I was incharge of a volunteer program with a similar situation….. suddenly being in charge (with little experience) but not know how to make sure how everything was carried out. I don’t know if this would help (I volunteer on the side, this is your job) but I spent a a week or two combing through every email, every text, every meeting minutes figuring out what specifically had to be done in my area. I then formulated a general plan based on everyone’s strengths, private conversations I had, how much time everyone had etc. I’m surprised but that took me a looong time to coordinate. After I met with the group, explained my thoughts, how I wanted to accomplish them, etc. I then asked for everyone’s opinion. Read over what I said, tell me your likes and dislikes. My goodness we had a lot of negotiating and reworks based on what everyone wanted to work on. From there I retweaked “The Game Plan”. So far it’s gone pretty well. Now this is a little different as you are the boss in charge, whereas I was a volunteer in charge, but perhaps you can use some of the above as a suggestion.

  41. mako*

    I am so done with my current job. The ever increasing workload and lack of management to act on issues has been causing me so much stress that I’ve been trying to get out for over a year now. I’ve been looking both internally and externally for other opportunities but of course Covid has made things lot more challenging. My current company itself is good, with solid Benefits coverage that I was looking forward to minor reprieve of paid sick leave time for a surgery to alleviate a chronic condition that would have me off for 6-8 weeks of recovery. This was planned for December, but now, due to Covid cases rising in my area, surgeries are getting postponed or cancelled. My Dr can’t confirm anything but anticipates will be impacted by this, and I’m drowning at thought that I have to continue working in this job indefinitely in order to maintain benefits coverage, just not sure for when.

    Any tips for staying in a miserable job in order for the benefits?

    1. NeonDreams*

      I applied for an internal position at my company last night. It looks like a good match for my skills. We shall see if anything comes of this. I’m so ready to get out of a call center environment.

      1. mako*

        I worked at a call centre for 2.5 years and can understand. Good luck, crossing my fingers for you!

    2. AwkwardTurtle*

      That’s rough, buddy. I’m in the same boat of staying on a job (part-time) for benefits. Is there someone on your team who you can confide in?

    3. NeonDreams*

      Sorry I didn’t realize I was commenting under your thread! I sympathize with you whole heartedly because I’m in the same situation (great benefits, but loathe the job). I’m sorry your surgery might be cancelled.

      1. mako*

        Lol, no worries. I feel like a lot of us are in the same boat right now – where we want change but life and circumstances kinda force our hand to accept crap situation.

        and thank you. Honestly, the decision to go ahead with the surgery was a life turning point for me, which just makes the waiting even more annoying.

  42. BubbleTea*

    I am thinking of starting a small business, to run alongside my related full-time job. I have run the idea past my manager and she doesn’t think there is likely to be any conflict of interest, as long as I don’t recruit clients from my main job (which is not going to happen). To use the popular euphemism, I’m a llama groomer and trainer. My employed job grooms rescued abandoned llamas, and grooms and trains llamas from specific breeders/farms. In my independent practise, I would be training people’s pet llamas – people who can afford to buy their own llamas and pay for training, rather than having rescued them or rented them from the breeder. Grooming requires insurance, supervision and regulatory oversight that I would not want to try and get as an independent practitioner, and I prefer llama training anyway (it doesn’t require any certifications or supervision).

    I would love some guidance on what sorts of things I might not have thought of, when planning for setting up my business. I’m in the UK, so anything related to UK-specific laws would be particularly useful. I already know the llama groomer/trainer boundaries, and have planned for how I would make sure I remain within the training remit.

    I’d also like some advice on the ethics of using expertise and strategies which I developed or improved through my employed job as a llama trainer, and taking those to use as an independent trainer. I’ve never been asked to create resources for my employed job, although I have created some that I use as a reference tool when completing training sessions. If I created resources in my own time, presumably those are mine? What about stuff I created out of my own initiative, for my own use, but during work time? Not stuff I distribute to clients – just questions to ask the owners, an approximate pathway etc. My manager, who is about to become CEO of my main job’s organisation, is a bit hand-wavy about details like that, and is fine with me spending time on my own projects when there’s no work to do, but I can’t figure out where I should draw the line when the two jobs overlap so much.

    1. RagingADHD*

      The skills you learn while doing a job belong to you. Using them for your own business is no different than if you got a new job with a different employer and had however many years of experience. You don’t get your brain wiped at an exit interview.

      Same with your personal work process – the company doesn’t distribute them, or use them officially. They are checklists you created for yourself. If you left, it would be nice to document that for the next person, but it’s not something the company owns.

      The only conflict woukd be competing with your employer or poaching clients. You’re not doing that, so you’re good.

  43. Lyudie*

    I have seen a few mentions here of industries that are doing well or even booming during Covid. I can guess a few, like PPE manufacturers and delivery services, but what other industries are growing right now? Tech seems to be mostly stable, from what I can see, though my company has had a few rounds of cuts in the last several months.

    1. londonedit*

      Book publishing, in the UK at least. It seems like lots of people have been buying books as a distraction/something to do while we can’t go out (the whole of the UK was in strict lockdown from March until early July, and we’re heading that way again with a tiered system of restrictions based on case numbers in each area).

      1. Lore*

        US as well. Bookstores are having a rough go, obviously, but publishers are doing pretty well after a few bad months earlier. My employer lifted their hiring freeze a month or so ago.

    2. Egg*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if telecommunications companies are doing well, I upgraded my home wifi since working from home and I’m probably not alone in that, I could also see utility companies benefiting from people being at home more. Online streaming services are likely thriving. Home improvement businesses have been doing very well here because a lot of people have been taking this time to do renovations and/or fix things up around the home. From what I’ve heard, pizza businesses have also been thriving. I work in the financial services industry and my company has been doing very well and is having a hiring surge.

      1. Egg*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if telecommunications companies are doing well, I upgraded my home wifi since working from home and I’m probably not alone in that, I could also see utility companies benefiting from people being at home more. Online streaming services are likely thriving. Home improvement businesses have been doing very well here because a lot of people have been taking this time to do renovations and/or fix things up around the home. From what I’ve heard, pizza businesses have also been thriving. I work in the financial services industry and my company has been doing very well and is having a hiring surge. Anecdotally, last time I was at the mall the longest line was for the maternity wear store. I guess since people are at home a lot of couples are using this time to start a family, so baby-related industries might be doing well!

        1. Egg*

          Oops, when I replied it copied my previous comment for some reason. Ignore everything except for the last two sentences!

    3. irene adler*

      Shipping- UPS, FexEx, DHL and the like.
      Couriers (escrow papers come to the mortgagor for signing. No more visiting the lending institution to do the paperwork. )

    4. TiffIf*

      I heard a report on NPR a week or so ago that home furniture manufacturing and sales are BOOMING.
      There was one owner that was talking about how the odds and ends/mismatched furniture that had been sitting around for three years or more were now being fought over by customers–they were completely cleared out.

      I’m figuring its things like “I’m spending a lot more time at home, I think I want a more comfortable couch.” or “I’m working from home now so I need home office furniture.” etc.

      1. WellRed*

        Along these lines, home renovations (building contractors, painters, designers). Also, cooking related, gardening related. When something like this happens, people go back to the land, if you will, at least for until the crisis blows over.
        also, home exercise equipment has boomed.

        1. TiffIf*

          Also canning supplies! you cannot find canning jars or lids at any of my local stores. Though last time I checked they had rows and rows of pectin where jars would normally be :D.

    5. Littorally*

      I’ve heard from multiple people in real estate that business is going gangbusters for them. One realtor client of mine told me she’d nearly doubled her annual income this year.

    6. Old Admin*

      My current company (not the US) is telecommunication and IT security related, and we are drowning in work and *hiring* ! We all were supplied with hardware for work from home, too.
      I used to be a bit iffy about the company’s attitude towards employees and contractors, but they have shifted attitude quite a bit.

    7. Kw10*

      I just saw an article that the spice industry is booming because so many more people are cooking at home (though they’ve lost some restaurant clients). Probably the same goes for yeast, flour, and anything else related to home cooking.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Rich people & ambitious business owners are either bored with lockdown, or looking to pivot their business into something they can leverage online. “Thought leadership,” presentations & speaking, etc.

          A book launch is a good publicity vehicle.

          The agency I freelance with has a fat backlog.

    8. ...*

      At home entertainment equipment. A friend owns an inflatable pool company and her business is going absolutely bananas.

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

      I know some colleges/universities are seeing a large decrease in enrollment of incoming students, but mine had an increase in total enrollment from 2019. We aren’t loosing any more students to attrition than normal either. I feel like I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but my projects have shifted focus to almost all digital and online. I imagine there are other educational institutions that are seeing a bump as people decide now is a good time to start an online program to advance/change their career.

  44. EastCoast*

    Hey all! One of my employees is graduated from university (remotely) next month. What’s a good grad gift I could get her?

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Do you think she would like a university-branded coffee mug/thermos or other swag? If she’s getting a paper diploma, would she like a diploma frame?

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I tend to give my interns who graduate a nice leather portfolio that holds a notepad and pen, etc. to take to meetings. (Some have space for phone or tablet computer – those aren’t useful in classified world. YMMV.)

    3. merp*

      Honestly, echoing what lots of folks say when work gifts come up, I would maybe say a gift card that can be broadly useful and a nice personal card about how you appreciate her work and congratulate her, etc. Maybe just me but when I finished grad school, I was seriously broke so this is what I would have been excited about. And not just the money – the card would be something I held on to for sure.

    4. Nessun*

      My go-to is currently an appropriate scarf – colours for a school, or a team/hobby or something they like. I find them useful because I live in the Great White Frozen North (why oh why has there been snow already…) but also because they’re useful instead of masks and if people aren’t somewhere cold, there’s always the lovely silkier kind.

  45. Sled dog mama*

    TLDR: I’m having a could be serious but hopefully not since I’m addressing it early medical issue and I’m struggling with how much to share with coworkers.

    I take a couple of medications (antidepressant and anti anxiety) that have the possibility of causing cardiac side effects specifically tachycardia (fast heart rate out of proportion to exertion) and hypertension. I’ve been on other medications before this that have caused the tachycardia so I have a higher chance of others causing it. Unfortunately earlier this week I realized that I was having tachycardia and an arrhythmia. My doctor is aware and we’re going about weaning me off the drugs. Unfortunately this means that my anxiety and my migraines are likely to get worse. (I may also have a few extra doctors appointments and need to wear a cardiac monitor for a dews days depending on how fast the arrhythmia improves). All of this is pretty scary for me but I’m not sure how much I want to disclose to coworkers. I told the coworker at the next desk that I had to go off my anti anxiety and if she notices me doing behaviors X, Y and Z to please call me on it. I hope the anxiety won’t be a big deal since I have changed jobs and am in a much better place to manage without the drugs (getting off them was in the works but this accelerated the time table). I just don’t know much until my next step-down checkup next week and I want to share why I’m a little distracted right now but I don’t want to be that person and I really don’t want people to be constantly asking if it turns out to be NBD.
    What would you do?

    1. Lyudie*

      Maybe something like “dealing with a personal issue that might have some impact [insert detail if you want…being out for appts, etc] but I will try to minimize the disruption.”? If you are worried about the anxiety specifically and felt comfortable with it, I’ve used “making a medication tweak and there might be an adjustment period needed” before.

      (also…thank you for mentioning the heart thing with the meds, I get an irregular heart beat sometimes [I think?] and while my dr.’s have never seemed concerned, no one has ever said it could be the meds *headdesk*)

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I wouldn’t know either except that the very first med I tried (12 years ago) caused such bad tachycardia that they took me off it after a month. And thus began my cycle of trying to find something that works without causing tachycardia

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago, and I went with new medication/temporary side effects that I was working with my doctor to resolve, so I might be a little out of it. I think that my coworkers appreciated the heads up in case they noticed anything odd, and also to know if there is anything they needed to do, which in my case was no. Good luck!

    3. merp*

      Something you could do is lean on the migraine piece of this that you mention, if you don’t want to disclose the mental health stuff. My work knows I get migraines and it helps me explain various absences and weird brain fog moments without a lot of to-do, or a lot of health related followup questions. People are more likely to wince in sympathy and move on.

  46. violet04*

    Does anyone have information about civil service exams? My husband was thinking of applying for a job with our city related to parks and rec maintenance. This exam is required as part of the application process. What type of questions do they ask and do you need to study/prep for it?

    1. Amaryllis*

      Libraries usually have test preparation books/booklets for civil service exams (for positions ranging from entry level up to management) – you could try checking your local library if they have such a book. My local library is closed to the public at the moment, but they will let you request materials and then you can pick them up curbside. You could also buy the study guides on Amazon, but borrowing them from the library is usually sufficient.

      You can also try googling words like: test preparation parks and recreation civil service. Sometimes local or state governments will post sample test questions. There was one from Monroe County, NY called “A Guide to the Written Test for the Parks and Grounds Series”. The questions don’t look difficult per se, but it’s a good idea to see what types of questions are asked, see what instructions they give, etc. From what I’ve seen, civil service exams are multiple-choice questions about the particular subject matter for the position, but may also include basic arithmetic questions or also questions about best practices on the job (like “if you have questions about your assignment, you should a) ask your supervisor; b) ask your coworker; c) ask your subordinate”).

      1. violet04*

        Thanks so much for the information! I’ll have him check with the library to see if they have any sample booklets.

  47. Amelia Shepherd*

    how can I ask my new boss for something that my previous managers let me do without being like “and owen and bailey let me do it soo….”

    for some context…. basically, in the before times, I’d be able to leave work a little early to catch a train. I work at a library and want to make clear that I only did this when there was someone else working in my department. this wasn’t a problem with my previous bosses, as long as I let them know in advance and showed up a little early to make up for it. (otherwise, because I don’t drive, my mom/stepfather/brother pick me up, and I’d like for them to not have to do that even though we only live 10 minutes away.)

    the schedule has been redone and I’ll be working with someone else on my saturdays (I’m scheduled for every other), and I’d like to leave a little early to catch the train, but I don’t want my new boss, meredith, to feel like she has to say yes because owen and bailey did. I don’t know that I’d ask to do this for every saturday right off the bat – I’d like to, but if I could get one saturday a month I’d be okay with that.

    sorry if this is long-winded. at this library owen worked with us for two years and bailey for one and she was promoted, so I’ve never had to explain this to anyone.

    1. comityoferrors*

      First off, I want to reassure you that this isn’t an unreasonable ask! You sound a little guilty about it, but this is a pretty normal accommodation to make for employees.

      I would ask for time to talk with Meredith and say something along the lines of, “Previously, I had an arrangement to start work at [8:45] and end work at [5:45] because I commute by train. Does this still make sense with the new schedule?”

      If she says no, be gracious but explain that leaving “on time” means you have to make travel arrangements with your family and you’d prefer to limit that. Ask her if you could compromise by having that schedule for just one week/month. (I wouldn’t offer that off the bat since it’s your backup option.)

      This seems like a really easy way to keep you happy, so fingers crossed that she’s okay with it. Hopefully if she says no, she’ll provide a clear reason why. If she does say no, I would try to work with this schedule for a while until she’s less of a “new” boss to you. Then, if it makes sense, maybe try it again. If you befriend the new Saturday person, that might make it easier to convince her.

      1. Amelia Shepherd*

        (sorry i kinda forgot about making this post.)
        thank you for your response! hopefully meredith is okay with it, but since i think she’ll be my saturday person and leaving early means she’d have to do the final bathroom checks and whatever else isn’t done… which isn’t anything major, because by that point at 15 minutes to close all the big things should be done. i just don’t want any kind of resentment.
        the good thing is that she’s said if she has to say no to anything we do, she’ll explain why.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      I think it’s fine to *acknowledge* that the previous bosses let you leave early without making it sound like something you expect.

      You could say, “I had been allowed to leave a few minutes early when needed due to public transportation schedules. I came in early to make up for the time on those days. I was wondering if we could chat about whether or not that would be something you’d consider me continuing?”

      1. Amelia Shepherd*

        oh no, i don’t expect anything, especially not this! but it was a nice perk to have, when i could. my previous coworkers were understanding and (at least to my face) fine with me doing it, but i think it helped that quite a few of us took public transit and left early often.
        but i like that wording too, thank you! :)

    3. I edit everything*

      I would just be really matter-of-fact: “If I leave at X time, I can catch my train. Would it be ok for me to do that on Saturdays? Of course I’ll come in early so I’ll work my full hours.”

      And it might even be an easier ask to just ask right out for that to be your regular Saturday schedule. Then no one has to think about it, you don’t need to worry about advance planning, and it’s just how things are, instead of a thing that sometimes happens.

      1. Amelia Shepherd*

        that’s a great point, making it a part of my saturday schedule. would be easier for meredith, since i think she’ll be my saturday person a lot… i know it might not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice being able to take myself home, even if we do live close.
        thank you! :)

  48. Pirouette*

    My coworker is very shady- he lies about things and seems to pull the wool over people’s eyes. My boss loves him and so does the Admin Assistant, so he gets away with it. I’ve tried to call him out on his behavior, but he runs to the boss and she excuses it and I look like the “bad guy.”

    He is also very competitive with me, even though we’re supposed to work together. He leaves me out of the loop on work-related things and is very petty socially. He talks poorly about me to others, but is nice to my face. There’s more, but I don’t want this to be too long of a post.

    Is this a “your coworker sucks and isn’t going to change” situation? Is there a way to deal with these personality types? I take it personally and am sick of coming angry and stressed out by him.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      I stay very far away from people like that. I don’t talk to them outside of what is necessary. I try not to get put on projects or committees with them. If asked, I speak neutrally. They are not going to change and they can be dangerous.

    2. irene adler*

      Yeah. Especially when boss and others seem to like him.

      If you cannot get away from this, then you need to find strategies to get around him.

      How can you get into the loop on things when he’s leaving you out? Are there others involved who could be asked to forward info to you where you’ve not been included? Thinking in terms of emails. I have a very good relationship with a co-worker. We watch out for each other when information is concerned. Whenever we see that the other has been omitted on emails, we forward them to the other.

      Can you make it a point to befriend or raise your profile with others (not boss or admin assistant) so that they will realize the untruths he says to them about you?

      I don’t know to what extent this guy is harming your work. But you should take steps to document all of your work. Keep copies or track changes so that it is clear who did the work.

      1. Pirouette*

        There are others who are aware because they have said things about him out loud, so I know it’s not just me, but the one is retiring and the other one is sort of friendly with him. Plus, they have a sort of “bro code” going on, so I don’t think anything will ever be said directly to him.

  49. NaoNao*

    Need help:

    My current job is fine, a solid B+. I’m not thrilled with how they’ve handled COVID (foot dragging on WFH every step of the way and a recent announcement that made it clear regardless of the productivity, savings, or other positive factors, it’s back to butts in seats asap) and the benefits are pretty bare bones. I’ve put out feelers for a direct report and got a “maybe…in mid-year 2021”.

    I’ve been here 10 months and I’ve made major contributions –creating 3 websites internally, spearheading the company wide Professional Development training, meaning I created and launched the LMS from scratch and created all the content for it, overhauling the New Hire Training completely, launching an intern program, and assisting other departments with emergency training needs, along with other items.

    I’m the only person on my team other than my intern.

    I’d like to negotiate for one of the following next year when I reach the 1-year status:

    –4/5 time WFH *as-needed appearances in office a given
    –a permanent direct report + title change
    –a raise (higher than COL)

    I’ve had nibbles of recruitment interest this whole time and just had a promising interview yesterday so I’m not sure if I should even bring that up as leverage or just focus on “hey, I’ve added tremendous value to this company and I’d like to be paid back in kind”

    What are your stories about successfully negotiating better benefits or working conditions? Thanks!

  50. Book Pony*

    I applied for a writing internship but wasn’t selected. However, I was one of the top candidates, so the creative director offered to discuss my work and answer any questions I have about the industry (video games).

    I’ve never actually done this before, so does anyone have any tips or advice? Thanks!

    1. I edit everything*

      Ask about process: how do they get from concept to finished product (whether that’s the game as a whole or the story part of it, or whatever)
      What skills are important to succeed in the industry/the job you want?
      I’m assuming the writing is for a game’s narrative, any dialogue, plot, etc. So ask about what makes a concept pop or otherwise stand out. Are there tropes they specifically look for or avoid? Character types?
      What efforts do they make (if any) to have diverse characters (might not be relevant, depending on the type of game. Undertale characters are very different from Mario Bros.)?
      What’s a typical career trajectory?

      I know nothing about video games, but writing within a set genre or in a commercial setting is old hat to me.

      1. Book Pony*

        …This is all so helpful. Thank you x Infinity!

        And yeah, it was for narrative writing. The internship would’ve taught me the whole process from start to finish, and I’d get to see what other departments do. Maybe next year lol.

  51. TechWorker*

    I have a colleague who spent a meeting yesterday talking about how some work my team did was badly designed and had caused problems… Now it’s true that there were some problems with it (which my team resolved), but the specifics he was mentioning were just wrong? Eg ‘I really think that you just failed to consider x’ (we did consider x and we tested for it, that wasn’t the problem) and ‘what you have to remember is that if you do y it has knock on impact z’ (it doesn’t in this case, that’s simply not how it works, if you’re seeing that send us the logs and we’ll you know, fix it).

    I know people have different work styles (for his job he needs to debug across a lot of areas, which he does by looking at things really quickly – which means he gets a LOT done and is very productive but also sometimes makes mistakes because he doesn’t actually always have the detail required). I *am* a stickler for detail (and need to be in my role), and if you’re going to complain about the quality of work we did then, yea, I kinda do want details rather than a vague impression that it’s ‘not quite right’ because you speed read the logs and jumped to conclusions. The meeting didn’t end well – I suggested we talk about it more to figure out where the disconnect was and he basically said ‘we don’t need to, you’re just taking a general point and trying to apply it to specifics’.

    My manager has my back in general and trusts my judgement so I’m not worried from that perspective but interested to know whether others have had success changing their mindset to deal with a colleague who just… works in a very different way.

  52. Prom Night II: Electric Bugaloo*

    I have an interview on Monday, and I’m just worried. It’s outside my immediate wheelhouse, but I know I can do it. I also just really want the move, and I want to work at that place in particular.
    My present job is perfectly fine. I am successful in it. But I’ve been there so long. I want the change. But I am also tired of applying to things. After Monday, I’m done. No more trying.

    1. lala*

      I got a job offer for something out of my immediate wheelhouse last week! Had a lot of applicable skills but a different sub field. You got this!

  53. Anon4Today*

    I’ve just been informed that my company is being bought and…. I’m slightly freaking out. I got this job is May after being laid off my previous position due to COVID. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and I have (had) amazing growth opportunity. I am building the HR department from the ground up. Currently the Manager, but as we grew I was also supposed to grow to Director, VP, CHRO, etc… That’s all completely gone. I have no idea how anything is structured. I’m completely in the dark and trying to figure out how to calm the rest of the staff when its announced next week.

    Every question I ask, the execs say “oh we didn’t think of that, let me ask.” THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT ME IN EARLIER! All these questions are just BASICS that any employee will ask. Benefits, PTO, 401K match, reporting structure. I’m not sure if I should wait it out or get out immediately (or at least as fast as a job search will allow me). Is there any variable I should be looking for as this progresses?

    1. I edit everything*

      If you can be a steady resource for the staff, I think that’s worth considering staying for. If nothing else, guiding your company through this transition is a good resume bullet point. But I’d put some feelers out sooner rather than later. If you get an offer and want to see this transition through, you can negotiate a later start date. And applying for jobs doesn’t mean you have to accept an offer, if things are going well where you are.

    2. Malika*

      I have no crystall ball, but I worked at a company that was bought and we got better career opportunities out of it, and it was a turning point. If you are a solid-to-good performer, the new powers to be might see your potential and you still get the career trajectory that you want.

      When the new bosses came in, my colleagues literally hid in the meeting rooms and refused to greet them. As their EA I was the only one that welcomed them, gave them a tour of the office, grabbed a cup of coffee and told them I would arrange their travel plans around continent as needed. They never forgot that, and it gave me significant career and salary growth. If you handle those frustrating questions with class, it might be a turning point.

    3. PollyQ*

      Is the company that’s buying yours significantly larger? If so, I would definitely be job-hunting, because the issue may not just be that there’s no growth path, it may be that they’ll decide they don’t need another HR person at all.

      (Also, your execs sound pretty dumb, given that all those questions apply to them as well as their employees.)

  54. Newish Manager*

    Hey, so I’m hiring for a data focused position that has a take home work exercise (only 30-45 minutes, and only for our top 4-5 candidates, and it is the best way to measure this particular skill). I sent it out on Wednesday and asked for it back by Monday, but one of my candidates is asking for more time. I have mixed feelings, as I want to be accommodating, but I also really need to be able to move quickly with scheduling the next interviews (via Teams, all remote right now) ideally for the end of next week. Do you have any suggestions for how much flexibilty to give on this? Two of the other candidates have already gotten the exercise back to me and did well.

    1. I edit everything*

      Did they give a reason? Or how much time they want? For me, there’d be a big difference between, “I have to move to a new apartment this weekend, so I won’t be able to do my best work on this exercise. Would it be ok if I sent it to you by noon on Tuesday?” and a vague, “May I have more time? What’s the latest I can get this back?”

      The first shows proactive thinking, “I know this isn’t ideal, and here’s my suggestion.” The second shows a questionable work ethic or, if the exercise is taking them forever, possibly comprehension issues or serious perfectionism, which are red flags to me.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I think that over a weekend would be sufficient time, unless they’re on their honeymoon or something (add if that were the case, I’d hope they would mention it).

    3. A Person*

      To me a lot of this depends on how difficult the task is, picky you need to be, how quickly you need to hire, and how likely you are to have a stand out candidate.

      If this is the type of role where you’d expect a lot of people will “fail” at this stage I’d be more inclined to give more time and deal with the scheduling issues, especially if it’s only a few days. I would also be more flexible with a candidate who is already doing well in the interview process. On the other hand, if you have a single position and all of these candidates look really strong I’d be more inclined to tell them Monday is a hard deadline.

      Without further information I’d split the difference. I’d say something along the lines of “We’re trying to move quickly on the hiring process so if you can’t get it back to us by (X date) the delay may impact your candidacy. We’d still like to see your work!”

      Honestly when I’ve had an exercise like this (I used to give a data challenge that was max 2 hours in length) I rarely had strong candidates push back the date unless there were obviously extenuating personal circumstances. Especially for 30-45 minutes, concern about doing it without a clear reason why would suggest to me the person is trying to “catch up” with the knowledge to be able to do the assignment.

  55. Luna*

    I’d like to reach out to one a vendor that provides a type of service for our company, to see if I can get a decrease in their service fees. This was prompted because another company that does the same thing was recommended to me as excellent, but with half the price. I’m completely stuck on wording to the first vendor, to see if they are open to offering any kind of price break for us, based on industry pricing. I hope that made sense…I’m having trouble explaining it!

    1. mreasy*

      “I have found lower rates from some other vendors, and I’m wondering if there is any flexibility possible on the price? I’d much rather keep our business with you, but we do need to find something more competitive. Can we discuss updating our rates?” If they have good reason to be more expensive, this is their chance to explain.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Highly variable. I was looking it up so I could negotiate it for a recent job offer, and no one can agree! The closest I found to consensus was two weeks of pay per year of employment, but it only really kicks in at the management or executive level.

      On the bright side, that gives you lots of room to negotiate it.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I have a few friends who have gotten severance, ranging from 6 weeks to 2 months. My dad once got a severance package that was 6 months. I think the package will vary enormously depending on your industry, your seniority, and your longevity at the company.

    3. violet04*

      My husband was at his last company for 23 years. He got a year’s salary for his severance, of course with bunch of taxes taken out. He also got a separate payment for vacation days he had not used yet.

    4. Ali G*

      It does vary a lot and depends on the situation. If you are talking a typical RIF, it’s typically unused vacation (if that’s something done where you are when someone leaves) – sometimes with a cap, + 1-2 weeks pay per year of service (again sometimes with a cap).
      When we did a RIF last year, we paid out everyone’s vacation, and did 2 weeks of pay per year up to 5 years. Most people ended up with around 10-12 weeks of pay.
      On the other side, I left a company (mutual agreement to part ways – lol) after almost 6 years and I received 6 months severance + health insurance (basically I was on payroll like normal and just couldn’t contribute to my 401k). That’s less typical.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Depends. I worked for two companies where it was two weeks for every year served– one giant corporation and one tiny company. (I knew a woman who was laid off after 22 years and got another job right away, I am still jealous.) When I quit-to-avoid-being-fired I was given six weeks because they wanted me to leave that day.

    6. WellRed*

      Wildly varies and probably depends on your role and the company itself. I’ve seen one week per year as one standard, but honestly, lots don’t even give it.

    7. RagingADHD*

      My husband once got a severance package of 1 month for each year of emoloyment. That was a mass layoff where they were incentivizing people to volunteer in the first round.

    8. PollyQ*

      The first time I was laid off, I got 2 weeks for each year of employment. The second time, the company went out of business, and we got absolutely nothing, including no COBRA (since the plan was discontinued), and, if I’m remembering correctly, no last paycheck.

    9. ...*

      Never gotten any and dont know anyone, ever, who has. And these are professional jobs, not talking grocery clerks here.

    10. Goat girl*

      My recent layoff was one week per year with a couple of extra weeks for time after 15 years. So I got 20 weeks of severance plus one week of unused PTO for 19 years of work. If I would have been laid off a few months later, it would have been 22 weeks for 20 years of work.

  56. A*

    I’m still so angry at my old job. I’m nearly a year into my new (better) place – but it took a complete change of field after I wrote a book in my old field. My boss had Parkinson’s and lied, losing me an opportunity at one job in a highly desirable place. My coworkers bullied me. I keep moving sideways, not up. I’m so hurt that even time and better pay/environment doesn’t heal it. How do you move on from repeated toxic environments? I’m trying to let go.

    1. merp*

      This advice is coming from a completely different area of my life so may or may not apply, but I will just say that being down on yourself for not being over something yet is counterproductive. I know it’s hard (I have definitely not mastered this in my situation) but it might make things easier if you accept your feelings for what they are instead of feeling guilty/angry/upset at yourself for still thinking about it.

      I haven’t figured out the next piece of it, which is where you actually do get over those feelings in time, but if you do, please hit me up haha.

      1. merp*

        From a practical perspective, when my feelings were closer to the surface, I used to give myself a set amount of time to dwell on them and maybe write them out or whatever felt helpful, and when that time was up, I had to focus on something else. Also was challenging but got easier with practice.

    2. Dottie*

      I can totally related, as I’ve had a string of bad luck with bad bosses/environment. I can share some of my rituals that’s helped me move on:
      a) I start with free flow writing about my experience from the beginning to the end. Then at the end, I make a gratitude list to balance it out. Like, takeaways, things I learned, people I appreciated, etc.
      b) I then dispose of things associated with the company. I’ve burned up business cards, deleted unnecessary documents, and donate/trash the tangible things. The burning helps me the most, because when I feel that anger afterwards, I think about the flames which is soothing.
      c) I write reviews on Glassdoor and/or Indeed. At one truly toxic place they only had 5 okay reviews, and since I submitted my review there’s now over 20+ bad reviews because apparently after I wrote mine the other ex/current employees joined in too. That personally felt good for me, because it showed me that I wasn’t suffering alone and the company truly was awful lol. Alternatively, you can always write a review and not post it, if you want to remain out of your ex-employer’s radar for good.
      d) Finally, allowing yourself time and grace to process what happened. Up your self-care when you catch yourself in your feelings. If you are capable of seeing a therapist, talking about it can help you reframe your anger. Sometimes it’s just about wrapping up those emotional loose ends, but you will eventually move on with time!

  57. Among the anon*

    So my boss decided the exposure guidelines for COVID are ”arbitrary,” and we were told to just ”mask up” if we suffer exposure. I got exposed last week, per our health department, and still had to go into work. My boss literally argued with the health department Exec Director about whether I had been in close enough contact with the ill person to be exposed. The exec director of the health department told me she’s frustrated, because a lot of employers are not allowing quarantine, and there isn’t anything she can do. We are in Texas, and this is why we can’t get over this crap. My test did end up being negative, but it was 5 days before it came back.

    1. TiffIf*

      And even then, a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t sick (there’s a fairly high false negative rate) or won’t get sick from that exposure.

    2. Anon-mama*

      I’m sorry. Do you not qualify for the FFCRA? If so, it should cover for being under an official quarantine order and seeking a diagnosis. I don’t see how your employer (unless in municipal administration) has standing to reject what the public health director is saying. Are you an essential worker? Is your employer not giving you PTO or requiring you to use precious leave to wait?

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      Oh, I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Be aware that if you were exposed and are asymptomatic it’s probably wise to get tested 7 days after exposure.

  58. Egg*

    My sister just graduated from university and is feeling a bit hopeless because currently, she’s working as a nanny and in foodservice, whereas she would ultimately like to end up either in the non-profit sector or working for a good company. She feels doomed by her present circumstances, she worries that she’ll never be able to get there. As her sister, I’ve been trying to reassure her, reminding her that given the nature of COVID the job market has been turned upside down, I’ve been working to connect her with people I know in those sectors, and I’ve encouraged her to ask some of the female professionals she knows and admires about their career journeys and how they’ve dealt with feelings of hopelessness and uncertainty (because we’ve all been 22 and trying to figure it all out), and maybe even see if they’d be willing to mentor her. I’m only 24 and still pretty new to the career world, so obviously, I’m not an expert, and I was wondering if anyone has any other advice or guidance they would give her, or ways that I can support her.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Encourage her to reach out to her university’s alumni association for resources for the job search and help in networking. (Granted, some are better than others, but your sister might feel better if she has concrete things to DO rather than just focusing on her fears.)

    2. I edit everything*

      If she wants to work in the non-profit sector, is there an organization in her field or an adjacent field she could volunteer with? That would give her experience and connections and be at least a few small steps forward, and would help fill out her resume.

      1. Egg*

        I’ve lined up a volunteering opportunity for her at a fundraising event for a major charity in our area in a few weeks. They’re really excited about working with her, so I hope it will work out. It would give her experience and also help her network with important people in our city’s business and non-profit sectors. She’s really interested in this opportunity, but there’s also a huge part of her that wants to completely abandon everything in our city and move to another city immediately because she hopes that will solve her problems (honestly, I’m a bit sceptical). I’m trying to persuade her to at least stay long enough to do this. Even if she decides she still wants to move, some of the people on the board of that charity work with companies and organizations that have major offices in the city she fantasizes about relocating to, so it couldn’t hurt for her to network with them.

    3. Reba*

      Even in the Before Times, it was very, very normal to have some “jobs that support you” on the road to “career track you really want.” Really! It’s normal! People often have surprisingly circuitous journeys.

      It sounds like your sib is (understandably) stressed and showing some black and white thinking — “I’ll never get that kind of job,” “I should just throw all this away and move to New City.”

      Hopefully the volunteer gig helps her envision working in that area. I feel like if she can get one or two conversations with people about their career paths through it, that would be a success for her!

      1. Ama*

        Yes, you absolutely do not have to be on the path to your one best job at 22 (or 24 or 29 or 34). People change careers all the time, and nonprofit in particular has a lot of people with nontraditional career paths — I moved into true nonprofit work at age 33 after about a decade in various admin jobs.

    4. ronda*

      maybe try a temp agency to get a little experience in an office.

      those can sometimes lead to full time jobs if they like you and if not it gives you some office experience to include on your resume for the the type of position you would like.

      if working with an agency, call them regularly to see if they have any positions for you…. just giving them your resume and waiting often does not work.

  59. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    My last week at work has been a shitshow but in just one more week I’ll start my SHINY NEW JOB. Can’t waaaaaaaait. I’m being very responsible and helping to train my successor while privately wanting to just set the whole place on fire and run away.

    It’s been really remarkable to have every same-tier or lower colleague weeping to see me go while management clearly can’t wait to see the back of me. I announced the job change on social media and a lot of people in my old-job professional community are also telling me how much they appreciated me, which is unexpected and wonderful. In every way that my boss and grandboss are making me feel like dirt, everyone else is helping me feel really valued and like I did a lot of good. It helps a lot.

    1. Coffee time!*

      that is awesome! definite proof it is not you but them. that you are a very valued person to others.

  60. Janis Mayhem*

    I’ve been unemployed for almost three months. I’m being picky about my next job (I gave solid experience and long-term positions, and we are in a position where I can be picky). It’s been a bit demoralizing looking at jobs that won’t work or applying and not hearing back. This week I had a good talk with an internal recruiter and even though I won’t fit for that position my resume will be sent around to others. Also had a very good interview this week and should hear shortly.

  61. Kuirky*

    I’m feeling very stuck at my job right now. I’ve been working at the front desk in a govt office for 2 years now. When I got the job I didn’t think I’d still be in the same position two years later. I applied for a promotion a year ago and got passed over for someone with more experience. I was a little upset because we live in a small town so jobs don’t open up very often at my office, and my boss encouraged me to apply, giving me the sense that I had a good chance of getting the job. Well one of the other receptionists and I were recently talking, and she said that if a position that was the same as the one I applied to a year ago opened up that she would apply for it. She’s done that job before, so I’m pretty sure that she would get it, as she would need no training. For various reasons I can’t leave the office I’m working at now, and honestly I like my office and coworkers, I’m just tired of my position. It’s very client facing and I’m very introverted so I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I’m not sure if I’m asking for advice or just venting ‍♀️

    1. esemess*

      I’m sorry that you feel stuck. Being passed up for an opportunity never feels good! Sending well wishes for something that fits your personality needs and still has a positive office environment! <3

  62. Nacho*

    I got a new job! After almost 2 months of being laid off, I got a new job in tech support. The hours, pay, and rank are a all worse than my old one, but at least I won’t starve to death now!

  63. Anon for this post*

    I have to sometimes work with another person and ever since I started in my position, he’s very snide and sarcastic towards me. I don’t know if he wanted someone else in the role or if this is just how he is. I said that something wasn’t in the Teapot Database. He made the remark, “Well, it must be your fault since Jane and the others put it on the list for you to enter.” I’m the only one handling the Teapot Database, but he has a whole team helping him. It wasn’t a big deal- I fixed it and everything was okay. I felt like I do a good job and am good at my work.

    He isn’t perfect either, but I don’t point out his mistakes. He dropped something and it was somehow my fault. He’s a jerk, yet everyone seems to like him- I don’t get it. I was out sick and he made a snippy remark about it, but he sometimes only works 5 or 6 hour days. He’s always pointing out other people’s faults, yet what is he doing/hiding?

    How should I handle working with someone like this? I feel like I’m going crazy…

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Well, I think it depends on how long you’ve been there, how much you need the job, and what you think he’ll do if you’re snippy back with him. He sounds like a bully. In my experience, once you snap back at them, they often tone it down because they’re no longer getting the response they desire. If he dropped something and blamed me, I’d probably just glare at him and say “Reallllyyy?” and go right back to work.

      If you can’t afford to snap back at him, then are you friendly with anyone on the team that you trust who could give you insight? Could the guy have a super weird sense of humor (unlikely, I realize)? I feel for you. People like this are dreadful to deal with.

      1. Anon for this post*

        I’ve snapped back a couple of times, but then he accuses me of “being mean” and/or he told the boss once that I was giving him a hard time. I didn’t get in trouble, but my boss excused coworker’s jerky behavior.

        1. PMS*

          With a coworker like that, I’m just very professional and polite. I don’t hinder their work in any way, but there’s no social chit chat or even stuff like “huh, can’t find the xxxx file for some reason…” Try not to give them any mental space when they are jerks. (easier said than done.)

          You become really boring and they find someone else to focus on. It sucks but it works.

            1. WellRed*

              And stop worrying about his hours and what he’s “hiding.” It’s actually irrelevant. If he keeps up his behavior you may need to use stronger language with boss or HR: feeling harassed or bullied.

  64. Holiday Party Question*

    This is a general solicitation for holiday party substitution ideas, but specific ideas for our office would be helpful too. I saw the question from the boss’ wife who knew the staff wanted money instead, and I will solicit staff’s opinions too, but I’m not counting on them to have a strong preference, and it would be better if we had maybe a few options to present for a vote.

    We have a small office (10-15 people) and normally have a secret santa gift exchange (<$30 and you write your requests on a list beforehand, so no crazy surprises) and lunch at a nicer restaurant in December, and the staff gets annual cards/cash gifts at that time.

    I'm assuming that's out the window (if restaurants are even open for seating groups in December), and was wondering what other offices are planning. We can be pretty flexible, i.e., a gift card instead, could cancel everything, just keep the gift exchange, etc. I normally start looking to book the party the first week of November, so it's on my mind. We also are NOT high tech – no Zoom holiday parties for us!

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      How about asking people to send in photos of themselves in whatever fancy clothes they’d usually wear to lunch, and doing a collage for an in-house holiday card? A gift card on top of that would be nice. Secret Santa is hard with non-techies when people may not be comfortable giving out their home addresses for tangible gifts.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think if you can figure out a way to still coordinate the Secret Santa (maybe email everyone a FedEx label to use to ship their gift to the designated recipient?), that would be a nice touch. If Zoom holiday parties are out of the question, maybe send gift baskets or a gift card in lieu of the party. If you’re open to figuring out how to make Zoom work, there are plenty of vendors out there who will ship people a prepackaged holiday meal that everyone can enjoy together virtually. Or you could hire someone to do a virtual wine tasting, cooking class, cocktail making class, etc. so it’s not just an hour of people staring at each other via computer, making small talk.

      1. violet04*

        I’m a gift giver so I would like to keep the Secret Santa exchange as long as it’s not too difficult for people to ship/package items.

        I like the idea of doing something on a Zoom call. My company had one awkard-ish Zoom happy hour and it was difficult trying to make small talk and interact.

        If you can keep the annual cash/gift cards for the staff I think that would be most appreciated.

    3. Chompers*

      We were just talking about this in my office yesterday (we’re back in the office) and I think we’ve landed on doing an outdoor lunch – we’re in Southern California so I know that isn’t possible everywhere – and getting catered boxed lunches so everything is individually wrapped. We’re also thinking we’re going to have to cut the gift exchange this year because we’re not sure how comfortable everyone would be taking something from someone else.

      1. WellRed*

        This is interesting, but well founded. They’ll accept food but not a gift item? For me, the gift exchange is more about how inconvenient it would be (unless I do it all on Amazon and even then). Buy gift, locate packing materials, get myself to carrier service. I’ve mostly lived my (masked, socially distanced life) the past few months, but I still weigh all these things carefully. And, is the cost of shipping included in the gift max? Will work make it easy for me to obtain coworker’s addresses?

        1. allathian*

          Will employees be willing to give out their addresses for secret santa? My guess is that many people wouldn’t be willing to do so, and that way the SS would likely fall flat because so many would opt out.

          I would assume that catered food would be prepared appropriately and therefore safe.

    4. LDF*

      I would say if your team generally enjoyed the gift exchange in person it can still work remotely. My team did a little gift exchange earlier in the summer just for fun. Almost everyone just ended up ordering something online and had it sent to the intended recipient so shipping wasn’t a big hurdle. We opened them on a team zoom call and put them on (it was a hat-themed exchange) and it was a good time. One extra nice thing is that it was company-sponsored – we paid the stores ourselves but could get up to $25 reimbursed. So that’s also an option if you have the budget.

  65. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    How old is your home office chair?

    A frivolous question but I’m considering getting a new one. I currently have an Ikea Markus chair, which I’ve never liked much, and it is getting a bit tatty and uncomfortable. Just thinking about it today and I realized that it’s 12 years old, which does seem a bit elderly for a chair that has been used almost every day. How long has yours lasted?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have an extra-wide armchair at my desk that’s probably going on five years now? I had to upsize it from my previous desk chair because I spoiled my dog and let her sit in the chair with me when she was a puppy and then she grew to 50 pounds. :P

    2. Alex*

      Mine is at least 15 years old. It does show its age cosmetically, but I LOVE the chair and so it will stay until it falls apart or until I make a cross-country move, whichever comes first. The cosmetic defects are mostly in the arms–the plastic parts have the paint/color rubbed off in places, and I tore the fabric on the top of one of the arms a little.

    3. Reba*

      Mine is new :)

      My spouse’s is over 9 years old, I think? The foam arms are starting to come apart. (It also creaks, which annoys me, but it has always creaked.)

    4. Can Can Cannot*

      I have a 13 year old Aeron chair from Herman Miller. I love it. Very sturdy, and well made. It was a bit expensive, but my employer paid for it when they made a WFH push. I understand that you can find used Aeron chairs at good prices, especially now that offices are emptying out due to Covid.

      1. LDF*

        I got a used Herman Miller on ebay earlier this year and I suspect it’s about that old as well. If I hadn’t seen some of the model number details I would not have guessed, it is just as comfortable as the similar-model chair I was using in the office.

    5. allathian*

      I have an Ikea chair, although I can’t remember the model. I’ve had mine for about 5 years, although I’ve proably used it for more hours during the last 7 months than I did in the 4 years before that. I bought it when I got a new boss who was far more willing to let me WFH occasionally than my former boss was.

  66. library library*

    I work in an academic library and we were asked for party ideas for an online winter break/ semesters end party. I am underenthused about yet another remote thing and I am coming up blank on ideas. A trivia contest has been proposed since we always have one of those but does anyone here have any ideas that we can mull over?

    1. Chompers*

      I think some of those Paint & Wine Night places have managed to find a way to do it virtually! That might be an option?

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I posted ideas above to someone looking for staff holiday ideas, but there are virtual wine tastings, virtual cooking parties, virtual cocktail making parties, etc. Trivia nights are a big hit with my team, too. It’s interactive but structured.

    3. Concerned Academic Librarian*

      We’ve been doing bimonthly trivia on Kahoot and it’s a ton of fun. Toward the end the working day is my recommendation so that it feels like a break and it’s not impinging on people’s private ime.

  67. ??*

    My supervisor suddenly gave me the cold shoulder and I do not know why.

    Before she became my supervisor, our relationship was made up of only a few good interactions, so it wasn’t very solid to begin with (and in fact, I was reluctant to accept the job in case something like this would happen, but at the time I just really needed a job). Still, I can’t help but take this a little bit personally.

    I have also become aware that management has been talking about me and can’t help but feel anxious. For some reason I’ve convinced myself that I’m not interesting enough to be on anyone’s radar, but the incident with my supervisor and now this discovery are not doing my mental health any good. Strangely enough, my fear is less about losing my job than about what they think of me as a person.

  68. Fiona*

    Since someone else wrote about a chair, I feel inspired to ask: any recommendations on a comfy office chair under $200 that is also…maybe…attractive?
    I am working from home until June 2021 at the earliest and my “office” is a very tiny living room table. I’ve been using a wooden chair up until now and I should probably try to get something more ergonomic.
    We live in a typical NYC one-bedroom apartment so it would be nice to get a chair that could integrate decently with the rest of the room, since I don’t have a separate office.
    Thanks in advance!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        +100

        I thought I misread the $200 at first, but yeah, $200 is pretty darn reasonable. I think my office chair previously was $350.

    1. Chucky*

      Check out the Black Friday sales if you can. Last year Office Depot had big discounts on office chairs.

    2. lala*

      I was in the exact same situation with the “corner office” and the dining room chair, and recently decided to spring for a real chair that wasn’t super ugly. I just ordered this one: https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/george-oliver-egremont-task-chair-golv1420.html. Haven’t used it yet so can’t comment on the comfort yet but the reviewers seemed to like it. This one was a runner up: https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/corrigan-studio-giacchetto-swivel-armchair-w003517057.html

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      As it happens, I’m in Brooklyn and have two spare office chairs (one standard black swivel chair from Staples, one Uplift E3 crescent saddle stool in turquoise that looks very cool). Email me at Director of Alpaca Exams at Gmail and I’d be so happy to pass them along to you for free.

    4. WorkingFromCafeinCA(prePandemic)*

      I found my chair at a business resale / supply company that specifically sells lightly used business furniture. Apparently Google had bought like 100 Herman Miller Sayl chairs for a 3-day event and then sold them to this company, so I was able to get my 3-day used chair at an amazingly discounted price! I had no idea such places even existed, but since you’re in a big city (I’m in the Bay Area, CA) there might be something similar.