open thread – November 13-14, 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.

{ 991 comments… read them below }

  1. AM*

    Any tips for getting better about not interrupting people while they are speaking, but still making your opinion/point heard? I have noticed myself talking over people on phone calls several times. I *think* there is a natural pause point and jump in, but they resume talking after I start. I am a woman working in a heavily male dominated industry, so maybe that contributes to some extent on both sides (I don’t always feel heard so maybe I am not judging the appropriate time to jump into the conversation, but also some men tend to steamroll over what I say).

    1. Four lights*

      I will just say that this can be very difficult to do on the phone, because there’s usually a delay because of the phone. So while in an ordinary conversation you might be able to jump in on that pause, for them they’ve heard the pause a little longer and nobody has said anything so they’ve decided to continue on.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Delays especially on cell phones. I notice a difference when I’m talking to people on a landline vs. a cell phone. Re: steamrolling–are you junior to them or are they peer or junior to you? If it’s peer/junior to you, then you can say “hold on, let me finish, please.” If they’re senior to you, it’s trickier.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I find this is also hard on the phone because in person you can see if someone is opening their mouth or taking a breath to continue in. Without that visual input I often find myself jumping in at the wrong time these days since everything is a call or a Teams meeting with no cameras on.

      3. Public Sector Manager*

        I agree because I do this to my parents all the time! It’s exceptionally difficult over the phone.

      4. Mellie Bellie*

        I have SUCH a hard time with this, which is unfortunate since everything is via video or telephone these days. It’s a little easier on video, but still incredibly difficult for me.

    2. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      Are you sure you’re interrupting too much? There’s a study that shows men are much more likely to talk over women than other men. And, fun fact, women are also more likely to talk over other women than men.

      I mean maybe you should stop interrupting or maybe they should give others a chance to talk :). In my opinion, it should be the meeting facilitator that allows for questions and asks people to share their views. But some people don’t give you a chance to get 2 cents in and in that case I think it’s better to interrupt than to say nothing. I see it as part of my job to share my opinion.

      In terms of strategies, I just start by saying, “sorry to interrupt… blah blah”. If someone interrupts me then I’ll wait for another opportunity and say “just to finish what I was saying…” I’m sure there’s other polite ways to say “let me talk” but those are my go tos.

      1. AM*

        This is an interesting point. I love the “I mean maybe you should stop interrupting or maybe they should give others a chance to talk.” I’ve noticed that even a one-on-one conversation usually is 75 percent the man talking. They are either peers or suppliers, so are not senior to my position. I don’t like interrupting, but at the same time, just let me talk!

    3. RagingADHD*

      If your point is worth making, get it made. That could be by jockeying for airtime/interrupting. It could be by taking notes and saying later on in the call, “I want to circle back to X, because there’s something important we need to consider…”

      There’s more than one way to surf the wave of a discussion. Sometimes getting the point made is more important than strict etiquette. Other times it can be to your advantage to be the last voice heard. Do what works in context.

    4. Argh!*

      I have this “problem.” It’s a problem because I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. Here, it’s considered rude. In my former workplaces, it’s considered part of the give-and-take of conversation and meetings.

      I think for me it’s also an ADHD thing — impulsivity combined with thoughts taking new directions while the other person hasn’t finished their sentence. I feel they’ve finished making their point, but it’s true that they’re still talking. I prefer a quicker pace, with less repetition and less “middle” talk (not small talk, but not essential, either, if that makes sense)

      1. Boba Feta*

        Argh! said: It’s a problem because I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. Here, it’s considered rude. In my former workplaces, it’s considered part of the give-and-take of conversation and meetings.—

        This might explain SO MUCH about the problems my partner and I have been having for years now: I (northeasterner) will jump in to agree, add another thought, or generally contribute to the ongoing conversation, whereas he (southerner) will take it as a deathly rude insult that I interrupted and “took over” his point. I see it as you say: “part of the give-and-take of conversation and meetings” but perhaps I’m in the minority here – I live in the South now, so I may need to rethink my entire conversational strategy at workplace meetings, too!

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I don’t know, I’m from the northeast, and I don’t like people interrupting me or jumping in with input while I’m talking at all. To me, it is rude, and I will stop speaking and just stare at people when they do it.

            1. pancakes*

              Fwiw, I’m in NYC and would say that whether it comes off as rude or enthusiastic very much depends on the interrupter’s personality and other context. Sometimes it is straight-up rude even here.

        2. Squeakrad*

          Screwed up the nesting – I think bulbous comment is very well taken. I’m an East Coast or who’s been in California for 30+ years and I’m still seen as little too verbally aggressive and interrupted.

          1. Argh!*

            I think time is a more precious commodity in a place where you have to sit on a train for an hour (at least) to get to & from work.

            … or just culture.

        3. RagingADHD*

          I’m from the South. My husband’s from Detroit. We met as longtime, well-acclimated NYC residents. We both have ADHD.

          We both interrupt, and we both get aggravated with each other about it, with one big difference:

          I get aggravated when he jumps in to add onto my point, and he’s completely wrong about the point I was making. When he’s right, I don’t mind so much.

          He gets aggravated when I jump to add onto his point and get it right. When I’m wrong, he doesn’t mind so much.

          People are wierd.

    5. Purrscilla*

      This happens CONSTANTLY on video calls because of the lag. I don’t think it can be avoided completely. :(

    6. MissDisplaced*

      If I didn’t interrupt, I’d never get heard!
      Also lone female in very male industry and sole marketing person with a bunch of sales guys.

      I don’t always like it, but I’d be talked over otherwise.

  2. Former Usher*

    Two weeks ago I wrote that, after being ghosted by my manager for months, I called to let him know I’m resigning only to hear ‘I’m sorry to hear that, because we just got approval for your promotion.’

    Latest update: CEO wants to meet with me to discuss how to cover my job duties after I leave. I’m going to do my best to be professional and helpful, but my snarky side would like to respond that the best approach would be to hire someone good and not ignore the employee until he resigns.

    1. starsaphire*

      Do bring it up, but not snarkily. Find a businessy way to express it!

      “Be sure there is communication and feedback happening; my replacement likely won’t function in a vacuum chamber any more successfully than I did.” That sort of thing.

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

      It’s not your problem to solve and yet they are trying to make it your problem. You can be really gracious and still have that exit interview with the CEO to go over your work and hand it off, but don’t let them suck you into fixing their issues. I would be tempted to just send a 1-line email and be done.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I read this as a simple, ordinary transition request. It is completely common and normal to solicit input from the departing employee about how to cover the duties after the employee leaves. After all, these transition discussions are why we give two weeks notice. Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but I’m not sure why this is being regarded as anything other than normal.

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

        No idea exactly how large this org is, but it’s unusual to have a transition discussion with the CEO. I highly doubt he is going to be the one taking over the duties. This would make more sense if it was the manager or a coworker wanting to have a transition meeting.

      2. Former Usher*

        That’s a great point. Thanks! I think I am letting recent events color my thinking. What is objectively unusual here is that I have never before had a one on one conversation with our CEO. I’m really not sure why in a company with over a thousand employees he’d be taking an interest in my job duties.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          He may not be exactly interested in your position. He may be interested in how YOU see the people ABOVE you.

          Let’s put it this way if my big, big boss wants to interview my subordinate when they leave, I’d be a bit concerned.

          1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

            This. I wouldn’t pass up the chance to give some factual, constructive feedback.

        2. irene adler*

          Good point! Why not have your manager handle this? Or ask another manager -if your manager has indicated he’s not able to take over your tasks.

          Maybe this is that rare CEO that cares about the employees and wants to understand why you are leaving. As in: he’s heard, second or third-hand, about the manager who flat-out ignores their reports (i.e. your manager). And he realizes that talking to you might yield the particulars as to what is going on. Said manager’s current reports may not be forthcoming.

          I know, fat chance!

          At least hear him out.

            1. Sacred Ground*

              And if the manager in question is actively keeping such info from the CEO, CEO may not even hear there’s a problem with a given employee until that person gives notice. The notice may be a complete surprise to anyone above the manager’s level.

        3. lurker :)*

          I’m really interested in hearing how the conversation went once you have it! Given that background, seems like that might not be the real agenda? Maybe they will try again to keep you? Or he wants information on why you are actually leaving?

      3. Mockingjay*

        No, this is a manager’s job and they’re dumping it on @Former Usher. When an employee gives notice, they are expected to complete what work they can and turn over anything unfinished with notes and data. It is management’s responsibility to figure out how to replace an employee.

    4. Grapey*

      Please do not be snarky with the CEO!

      Take them at face value and discuss “how to cover your job duties”, not “why you left.”

      Being gracious with a higher up in the face of not getting what you needed at your current level goes a long way. CEOs leave jobs too, and you might run into one another someday. I for sure have remembered “lower level” employees that left their crummy managers (adjacent to my department, not directly) and thought their work/communication styles were excellent and was disappointed, but not surprised, when they left. Hearing if one of them got snarky when they left would sour my impression of them for future networking.

      1. Former Usher*

        Thanks. I needed to hear this. No reason to torch whatever reputation I may have built up over the years.

      2. TechWorker*

        +1

        Your CEO also may or may not be aware of your managers bad management.. that may well be one of the things they want to talk about you never know :p

      3. Generic Name*

        I completely agree. Being snarky will only reflect poorly on you. They know you are unhappy; you’re leaving for another job! Honestly, I would only give bland answers if they want to get into specifics if why you’re leaving. Say stuff like “this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up” etc. I had one coworker who was baldly candid about the deep organizational problems that led to his departure and it followed him to his next job. He created bad blood and his new company couldn’t get contracts with his former contracts because he had been honest when he was asked why he was leaving.

    5. Camellia*

      My nasty suspicious self wonders if ‘we just got approval for your promotion’ is true or if he’s just saying that to make you regret leaving. I mean, he didn’t exactly make it a counter-offer, did he? I’d be inclined to ask for/search for proof, just to see if he is lying or not.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Be aware that there may be pressure put on you to do your job (at least partially) or train your replacements after you leave for your new job. Alison has many good posts about this if you want to prepare yourself for the possibility.

  3. Red Sunglasses*

    Looking to move into a sales role- anyone know of non-obvious industries that are thriving? I was surprised to find out that some of my friends in medical sales have been laid off so I fear I might be off on the industries I’m looking at,

    1. Rick Tq*

      Large computer sales (servers, storage, backup, networking, security) is doing well in Southern California. Think about who provides the new equipment to support working from home.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        To piggyback off this, software companies that make applications conducive to remote work are hiring like crazy right now. Look in the infrastructure space for these jobs.

    2. Generic Name*

      The construction industry is still going. Environmental services seems to be doing well, so sales of stuff that supports environmental investigation is likely doing well. Stuff like lab equipment and consumables, geotechnical investigation equipment, remote sensing equipment, GIS software etc.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      The thing about medicine right now (and I could be totally off base with my perspective). Is that a lot of “elective” things have been scaled back so small things like joint replacement aren’t happening as much as in the before times. Really big projects like replacing major equipment or starting new services are maybe proceeding a little slower but not that much. One reason for that is the long lead time on delivery (my employer signed to purchase a $2.5 million piece of equipment in April 2020, it will be delivered in July 2021, currently the construction going along with the purchase is 6weeks behind due to COVID). We’re also adding services that will require about $150,000 worth of equipment (total for 5 items) That project was pushed back 6 months.
      So some parts of medicine are struggling, others are chugging along just fine

      1. TurkeyLurkey*

        I’m in Health Tech and totally agree. Budgets are being shifted around, normally profitable departments and services are way down to reduce risk and staffing shortages in other departments. I’m also seeing long term software projects continue because those budgets were set a year or two back. Definitely huge variability in the industry.

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

        Yes, in medicine the real money-makers are elective surgeries like cataract/lens replacement, knee/hip/shoulder replacement/repair, hernia repair, etc. It’s not an emergency, patients can live without them, but the staff of doctors and nurses in those departments have been hit hard without patients and it’s not so easy to just reassign an ophthalmologist or dermatologist to the departments that need extra help. Pharmacy has also been hit hard from what I understand. It’s safe and convenient for the patients to get their meds mail order (if you have good mail delivery in your area), but the staff that was in the Pharmacy are being laid off.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Have you ever had a cataract? If it is blocking your field of vision, surgery is hardly optional. I know, I had them in both eyes. Also, the pain and impact on quality of life hardly make the other procedures you mentioned optional either. Just because a procedure is not an emergency doesn’t make it elective. Truly elective procedures are things like cosmetic surgery. Procedures are happening less because patients don’t want to be in medical facilities right now, and if they are like me, are trying to live with things I would rather not until a Covid vaccine is readily available.

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

            Yes, I was scheduled for cataract surgery in May…and now maybe December…procedures are being cancelled or rescheduled because hospitals are trying to keep patients and staff safe. It is elective. You may think it’s not, because of the impact on your quality of life, but the surgery IS still elective by medical standards.

          2. Deanna Troi*

            Cataract surgery is considered to be elective in the medical industry. Many things that are impacting the quality of our lives are classified as elective. I had numerous uterine fibroid tumors, one larger than a cantaloupe. They caused extensive bleeding, cramping, back pain, etc. A biopsy didn’t detect cancer and therefore this was not considered to be life threatening. My hysterectomy was scheduled for March. However, because this considered to be an elective surgery, it was pushed back numerous times and I finally had it in October. If I had cancer, on the other hand, the surgery would NOT have been considered elective, and I would have had it in March.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            My understanding is you’re actually misusing the term “elective” as it is used in a medical context. It is not synonymous with “optional”. Many “elective” surgeries are medically necessary, but if it won’t shorten your life by not doing it now (or as scheduled), it is elective. It’s not just a question of whether the surgery significantly improves the quality of your life vs being cosmetic. If the hospital it at or near capacity (or expected to be soon, or infection rates in an area are so high that risk of infection from the procedure outweighs the benefits of doing it), those procedures will and have been cancelled and postponed. It’s not just “patients don’t want to be in medical facilities right now”. Yes that’s part of it, but it’s not the only or primary cause in plenty of parts of the US.

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

        Yep. My company sells medication for chronic illnesses, and some areas have their workload doubled or tripled due to COVID. Some of my teammates even worked weekends and national holidays.

      1. Generic Name*

        Ooh, yes! My friend works for a company that produces and distributes beans and rice. She’s an account manager and her company is doing gangbusters.

      2. As Close As Breakfast*

        Yep! I work at a manufacturing company that makes mostly food packaging equipment and we have been ABSOLUTELY SLAMMED since the start of the pandemic. We have hired at least 2 additional salespeople since the summer that I know of, and we’re a pretty small company.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        In no small part to liquor stores being considered essential businesses. I never understood this.

        1. Paperwhite*

          I heard that the rationale was to prevent an epidemic of alcohol withdrawal atop the current pandemic.

          1. justabot*

            I think another factor is the major tax each state collects from alcohol sales. If one state decides liquor stores aren’t classified as “essential” and closes them, then there are people who will drive across state lines to go buy all their alcohol in another state and the home state loses all that insane alcohol tax. DOR does not like that so much. ;)

        2. LJay*

          My understanding is that alcoholics experiencing the signs of withdrawal would either resort to desperate measures like drinking mouthwash and hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol and become a drain on the medical system, or be stuck physically experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal and require medical attention for that, so the best option was to keep the liquor stores open to allow them to safely acquire alcohol and avoid withdrawal.

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

        Lots of people I know increased drinking to fight lockdown depression, other are hoarding it just in case, like toilet paper. Someone in a group chat went as far as to buy six packs of premium beer to save some money.

    4. Ranon*

      I’ll second construction, it’s wildly busy now and I would not be at all surprised to see recovery dollars go into infrastructure and buildings, people and especially governments like to fund physical things

    5. Susie*

      Insurance! I got into it after the recession in 2008. I don’t do sales but I always see tons of insurance sales positions posted everywhere.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, they’re always around. I would aim for commercial insurance sales instead of personal lines (especially right now) – it’s more lucrative.

    6. Hillary*

      Logistics and transportation services, especially with LTL companies. Look for the established companies looking for territory coverage, not business growth. Most of them are experiencing 20%+ growth right now and trying to manage expectations with customers. The current sales pool is also mostly white men within 10 years of retirement, so there’s opportunity for strategic roles relatively soon.

    7. Sleepless*

      Veterinary medicine has been absolutely, completely swamped during the pandemic. If you have a background in human medical sales, veterinary medicine wouldn’t be much of a pivot.

    8. Dinoweeds*

      If you’re in a legal state, the cannabis industry is gangbusters right now. I manage a dispensary and our sales are through the roof.

  4. Erin*

    Does anyone have any experience with Level-10 meetings? They’ve recently been implemented and while I was skeptical, I have to admit they’ve gone better than I thought. We’ve had two so far.

    1. Traction Time*

      Yes! Current company and a previous company both does/did them. Are you following all of EOS/Traction?

      1. Erin*

        We’re just doing the basic meeting structure right now. There’s a shared google spreadsheet where we can add our issues beforehand to be discussed.

    2. Elizabeth I*

      Yes! Level-10 meetings are part of EOS – “Entrepreneurial Operating System” – based on the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman. I handle my company’s internal EOS implementation, including facilitating L-10 meetings for our leadership team.

      The biggest difference for us with L-10 meetings was keeping the leadership team discussions focused on the right thing. Previously, they would spend most of the weekly meeting talking about whatever topic was mentioned first, even it it wasn’t that important or pressing. Now, we list out all issue to discuss, prioritize them, and start with the highest priority issue. That alone make a huge difference.

      What have you found helpful so far about L-10 meetings? Is your company doing the rest of the EOS system as well or just the meeting structure?

      1. Erin*

        Thanks for commenting! We’re just doing the meeting structure right now. They’ve been doing it at the manager meetings for awhile now and then rolled it out to each team.

        Honestly, I thought we had a pretty good structure before and were pretty good at staying on topic. But I have found it helpful to have a forum to bring up issues and work through them together. Before then, if an issue came up, I would think, “Oh I’ll have to bring that up to so and so” or “should I email this person or slack this person…” or I’ll get back to doing other work, and will forget about it until it comes up again.

        1. Elizabeth I*

          Nice!

          My company isn’t doing the full EOS system either (despite my efforts to move us further along in that direction). We’re currently using the L-10 meeting structure, and we use the V/TO (annual planning tool), and set Rocks (90 day goals). We still haven’t touched most of the other EOS components, though (such as process, accountability/people part, or metrics, etc) – and I think they would be really helpful. Hopefully we’ll get there eventually.

  5. Threeve*

    Where should a side gig go on your resume? Should I leave it off entirely?

    I worry that listing the part-time job right after my full-time job is confusing, but it’s sometimes more relevant to positions I’m applying to than the full-time.

    1. Observer*

      If it’s relevant, then you should put it on. Note that it’s part time so people can see that you didn’t make a typo with the dates.

    2. Daniel*

      I’m a fan of having all of my Main Experience in one list (going backwards chronologically), followed by Other Experience (same). Education should come first if you’re under 30 AND only have had entry level jobs, and it should come last otherwise.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Same. I did a freelance gig for four years that I kept in an “Other experience” section of my resume.

        This section went after my main “Work Experience” section.

        I also only included it if it was relevant to the position I was applying for.

    3. LunaLena*

      I always put my work history chronologically, with the most recent job at the top, so my side gig was the second entry. It looked something like this:

      Current Job, Sept 2015 – present
      List of duties

      Freelance Work & Side Gigs (Part-Time), Apr 2007 – present
      Explanation of work and details

      And yes, definitely list the side gig! I also used to explain in my cover letter that, while I am working Current Job, I also do Freelance and Side Gig on the side, which allows me to expand my knowledge and skills in ways that Current Job does not. Current Job showed that I am competent, technically skilled, professional, and a good employee overall, while Freelance and Side Gig showed that I am always learning and finding ways to become better at what I do, which in turn makes me a better employee at Current Job. Most people seemed to see this as a positive thing.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        I really like the way your resume is formatted to show the side gig and the explanation in the cover letter is a great way to describe it. I’m a big concur on this advice!

    4. nep*

      Depends whether relevant and whether it involves any skills that would be applicable to job you’re applying for.

    5. Melody Pond*

      I only put it in if its particularly relevant. Like I left off the Uber position I had for two years but put in the freelance accounting job I took. I left it in my main experience as it dovetailed with another part time position. If it didn’t I would also put it into an other experience section.

    1. introverted af*

      I did read it, and overall I thought his reasoning for needing *everyone* in the office were patently absurd. The article seemed pretty clear that he “felt” there were reasons everyone needed to be in the office, but didn’t have any data or hard facts.

      I get there are jobs that have to be done in person but this really doesn’t seem like it.

      1. CatCat*

        I had the same reaction as you.

        It also struck me as so tone deaf to say things like “I’m paying for expensive office space so it should be occupied.” Um. What?

        I would be curious if the NY Times re-visited this to see how things are going 6 months from now.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I hate that line of reason. Like, reduce your expensive office footprint!
          If people need to do work onsite (like say a lab or manufacturing) that cannot be done elsewhere then bring in safely those people.

    2. Canadian Bacon*

      I think it’s really hard to judge without knowing exactly how their team works, how the remote work had been functioning, what issues management may have observed with remote work, how their people generally get to work, etc. I think there are some undeniable benefits to workers and teams being in the same physical space, and that does come with some degree of risk right now.

      In my opinion, there is a healthy and safe way to resume some aspects of “the old normal”, and if people and employers can find a way to do that it may be beneficial to people’s overall mental health and happiness. There are a lot of people struggling HARD with remote work and isolation, just as there are people struggling with the risks associated with leaving their homes. There’s no one right answer, and sometimes it feels like “lockdown and never leave your home” is treated as the only safe option….vs. engaging safely and responsibly with the outside world.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        The right answer is to do what is in the best interest of public health DURING A PANDEMIC, using an abundance of caution.

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Not right now, not in the US. I’m not sure if your name indicates that you are living in Canada – if so, I’m glad for you. Case counts are exploding in nearly every state, and it is fundamentally unsafe to gather an office full of people together anywhere in the US right now.

      3. pcake*

        I don’t think there is a safe way to return to the office. There can be safer ways, but that counts on everyone doing the right thing, and in my experience, that’s not something you can count on.

        My husband’s first part-day back, there was one of the managers running around without a mask, and several coworkers with their heads together, very close together and mostly unmasked even though they had been spoken to strongly by the CEO via email and Zoom and it was posted all over the company. And deliveries were made by USPS and other delivery persons, many of whom weren’t masked even though there’s a big sign at the door AND a rope to keep people back; they simply walked over it or pulled it up and went under it.

        Besides, many people are incubating the virus who don’t know they are. Or they have symptoms but write them off as allergies. And that’s all before we get to anti-maskers.

        And even the CDC is now acknowledging that aerosol spread goes further and stays in the air for much longer than droplets.

    3. tangerineRose*

      A couple of interesting quotes:
      “People can’t enter our office unless they are wearing a mask, they can’t walk around the office without a mask, they don’t gather in small groups without a mask and work spaces are more than six feet apart,” Mr. Foreman said. “I think it’s as safe as your own home.”

      “When you think about making a toy, somebody has to present an idea, then somebody has to design the toy, another person creates the package and someone has to sell it then ship it,” he said. “That’s collaborative and how it’s always been done. Working from home is an experiment, and I’m not ready to risk my business on an experiment.”

      No, this is not as safe as your own house. Masks and 6 feet apart are helpful but not 100% effective. Also, he’s not ready to risk his business, but he is ready to risk human lives.

      1. Lore*

        I will say that as someone who wired in a different industry that creates a physical product, lack of access to the physical materials and finished samples has been both challenging and demoralizing. One person is the representative reviewer of all samples per project, which means colleagues in one team now have houses full of 8 months of inventory and the rest of us have no results at all. We’re still remote and we still will be, but it sucks from both a QA perspective and a morale perspective. (And no, they can’t just ship samples individually to everyone who used to receive them; our warehouse doesn’t have the bandwidth to do thirty individually packed shipments for every title instead of one case.)

    4. NaoNao*

      Holy b*lls that person is coming off as pure evil.

      “Fear is not a reason not come to the office” “I pay tons of rent” “It’s not fair to those in the office” “It’s as safe as your home” (no it is NOT. I don’t have people whose actions and choices I have no say in at my home for 8 straight hours a day!!!!) Wow. Talk about every crappy excuse in the book.

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      Probably fairly often. While I haven’t submitted any fakes, I think I would find her responses super entertaining.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Negative Nancy here. I would be surprised if it was more than just a couple, if that many. Of course this means that many workplaces have problems and some are severely dysfunctional.

    3. Observer*

      What’s really scary is how many of those shows were based on real world scenarios.

      Scott Adams says that most of his stuff is based on things he has actually seen and heard. And then when he does a strip that he thinks is really pushing the bounds of credibility, he winds up getting emails about how he just did a strip about the emailer’s office.

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

        As someone working in the community that Adams places Dilbert, I stopped reading after some strips were 100% accurate descriptions of some of my former workplaces.
        Also, PhD Comics reminds me of my days as a student in Big University.

    4. lou peachum*

      I definitely think some of the scenarios are made up, but I think very few are specifically from The Office. I’ve watched the entirety of The Office about 8 times, and I really think I’d recognize many scenarios from the show – even fairly minor ones. Because The Office is such a popular show (and because so many people, like me, seem to enjoy watching it over and over), I think commenters would catch this. This is probably less true of other TV shows, though.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah — I assume all advice columnists get fooled now and then, but I think I’d recognize if something were from the Office, having watched all of it multiple times.

      2. ThinMint*

        Oh I’m not suggesting that she’s answered a bunch of fakes, but that people have tried and emailed them to her.

  6. How to Resign?*

    Any recommendations on scripts or phrasing for resigning? Especially if you are willing to give more than 2weeks notice? This is the first time that I’m changing jobs where (1) I actually like my manager and want to preserve the relationship and (2) I’m leaving for something in the same location and industry. Previous job changes were location related and my team knew I was leaning in that direction, so I could just say something like “as you know I’ve been wanting to move back to TeacupTown…” and they would interrupt to ask where my new job was since it was really obvious.

    I’m not sure how to start – do I just jump in and say “I’m resigning to do X?” It just feels so abrupt. Is ok to ask at the end if my boss would be willing to stay in touch and be a future reference?

    1. eeeEEEvaaa*

      I usually go with something like “I wanted to let you know that I’ve accepted an external offer and my last day at [company] will be [date].” Simple and factual is the best way to start the conversation. Since you have a good relationship, your boss will likely ask about your new job.

      She may also ask what your current company could have done to keep you, or if you’d be open to a counter-offer. Think about this in advance!

      As I prepare to give notice I also find it helpful to practice sharing 1-2 easy reasons why I’m excited to go to new job that aren’t money related…maybe it’s a promotion, or you’ll be working with a high profile industry leader, or it’ll give you the chance to paint both teapots and teacups. Lots of people, including your boss, will ask and it’s helpful to be prepared.

      Definitely ask your boss to keep in touch and be a reference! I find this conversation happens most naturally in my final wrap-up check-in, but you do you. There is no greater compliment for a boss than to hear you value the relationship enough to keep in touch.

  7. meep*

    low-stakes question, I was up half the night earlier this week bc my partner caught a stomach bug. I had a couple unimportant meetings the following morning that I sorta zombied through. Would it have been TMI to say at the beginning during the hi-how-are-yous that I didn’t get much sleep bc my partner was ill?

    1. londonedit*

      I think it depends who the meetings were with. In a meeting with just my immediate team, I’d have no problem saying ‘Ugh, sorry if I’m off the ball – had a terrible night’s sleep!’ But in a meeting with people from the wider company, probably not (unless I fumbled something and was using it as part of an apology) and definitely not in any meeting with anyone external.

      1. Ashley*

        There are some external folks that I have good relationships with so I still might say something about not feeling the best today. The vaguer the better but just acknowledging you are little off but didn’t want to cancel is the goal if you think they will notice.

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

      I’d leave off the why and just say I didn’t get much sleep. It would be the same if you were the one ill…”I’m feeling ill and am a little off my game today.” No need to give the symptoms.

  8. When you don’t know what you should know*

    My grand boss gives me projects to work on from time to time. I am loaned out to other teams. I’m fine with it but he tends to assume business knowledge I don’t have. Ex. I support llama grooming software. I know the business of llamas grooming and am familiar with other parts of llama caretaking. I was assigned to work on alpaca feeding software. I can test the software based on requirements and give feedback on the UI on a basic level. But I don’t know the specifics of what/ when alpacas eat, how certain foods affect their bodies, the latest information on optimum alpaca nutrition, alpaca food supply chains, historical issues of previous alpaca feeding software our company has worked on, etc. so I cannot give feedback on whether the application meets the needs of a business I don’t know. (Yes there should be business users giving input but they are quiet, not terribly responsive, may not feel very engaged in this project for reasons far beyond my pay grade)

    My grand boss wants me to have that knowledge. I’ve tried to gather as much info from contacts in the alpaca world but everyone is busy, documentation is nonexistent, and I don’t even know where to start as to what to ask.

    Do you have any recommendations? I’ve told him that I can verify the software works as the design but cannot say whether the design makes sense from a business perspective and he’s not happy.

    1. Ashley*

      I would ask him where you could learn about your information gaps. Include what you have tried to do in the past but note why it has failed. (I have asked Lucinda and Fergus but they haven’t gotten back to me, etc)

    2. Username ABC*

      Well, in a perfect world there would be requirements documentation created as part of the pre-development work. That’s where the end-users and other stakeholders agree on the expected outcomes. And it’s what the developers then use to design and create the software. Since you’re entering at the testing phase, your role would be to confirm that the software meets those requirements and is bug-free.

      It sounds instead like they’re creating the software first and then ensuring it will meet the needs of the users after it’s already been programmed. That’s backwards.

      If I’ve got that wrong and there is actually a requirements analysis phase and documentation, can you get copies of that to test against?

    3. Grapey*

      I’m in an extremely similar position most of the time. What I try to do is make a mock up of the process as best as I can, and then present it to the stakeholders for questions.

      e.g. ask grandboss who you should go to for optimal alpaca nutrition, and if he says Lucinda, show her a mockup of the process and say “this is my understanding of the vitamin levels needed for alpacas, and what I intend to base LlamaFeedingSoftware off of. Grandboss said you would be the best person to verify this information.”

      Users will go deer in headlights if you ask for a blank info dump from their heads. But if they are familiar with X inputs when your diagram says Y, they’ll be more likely to go “well actually, we use Y”. From there you can ask more pointed questions.

      It’s extra work, sure, but that’s why grandboss asks you instead of Lucinda. If you don’t get paid more or have more opportunities because of the extra work, then start job hunting.

    4. juneybug*

      I wonder if your grandboss is saying knowledge but actually means communication.
      For example, he is wondering if the llama feeding software works for the feeding team. He needs to know that you had meetings with the team to go over the software, you followed up with issues, you made corrections to the software, etc. Or maybe he needs to know if the software is helping to keep the llamas feed? Is the team happy with the software?
      Another lack of communication issue is your grandboss is not determining the goals of the software before the launch. What should the software do (track feeding and weight of the llamas or the amount of food purchased per llama)? What are limitations of the software (such as the software can’t actually feed the llamas)? What do the end users need the software to accomplish?
      Did you notice that these questions did not expert you to be a llama guru but instead, a software guru?

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      As an auditor who’s looked at these processes…. you’re not supposed to get all the information. You’re supposed to figure out who to talk to and then ask them to work with you. Grapey’s comment is exactly what I would expect to see, and it should be documented as Username ABC described. In reality though, written user requirements are usually pretty bad. You HAVE to go back and have a dialogue about “here’s what we have, is this right”, where you built based on what you were told but don’t say that because when it’s all wrong they get mad.

  9. Remote Work Ergonomics*

    Does anyone have recs for good-but-affordable ergonomic aids to set up your home? I did not prep for remote work dragging on this long, and I’ve messed up my back. The cost of quality/well-reviewed supplies (chair, standing desk, etc.) is difficult with my budget.

    1. Web Crawler*

      My partner is using a cheap jury-rigged computer chair that seems to be working pretty well. It’s a thrift store dining chair that’s the correct height, with a pillow strapped to the back for back support.

      My SO needs an arm rest for their mouse hand, so they got a contraption to attach to the desk and support their elbow. Googling “elbow support desk” brings up what they’re using.

      There’s also stretching and using timers to take quick breaks and walk around. I listen to music on the free version of spotify and whenever it goes to commercials, that’s my cue to take a stretch and water break.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        That commercial break idea is genius! I’m a fan of doing a short QiGong back exercise video during a break.

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      If your legs do not touch the floor, a stool makes a big difference on your lower back. You don’t need to buy an office desk foot rest. You can get by with the lowest plastic step stool you can find. I also really like the back supports that are made of mesh. They are super cheap and don’t last forever, but I actually prefer mine over a nice foam pad I have because the mesh breathes nicely.

      1. BusyBee*

        I’ve been using a yoga block under my feet as a little foot rest and it works great! I ended up having to give up on the wooden kitchen chair I had been using because it killed my lower back, so I went with the Brenton Studio Ruzzi Mid-Back Manager’s Chair from Office Depot (it was on sale when I got it, so keep an eye out!).

    3. Althea*

      I bought a standing desk adapter off of Amazon that sits on top of my existing desk (~$120), a footrest, and a lumbar support pillow. I’m still searching for a better chair though, as I’m reluctant to pay $$$ for that.

    4. TurkeyLurkey*

      We got very lucky and found an IKEA BEKANT electic sit/stand desk on Craig’s List for a great price. This was pre-pandemic, so odds are probably lower now, but it might worth a look at the second hand market.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      I’m learning that the biggest thing you can do for yourself is have options. The exact same bad setup for 8 hours a day is significantly worse than very different bad setups for 4 each.
      -I carry my laptop and keyboard downstairs and stand at the kitchen counter with my laptop up on a few books to make a jerry-rigged standing desk.
      -I also bought a kneeling chair which makes such a difference in my posture, they’re $100 or so on amazon. I switch back and forth between that and my computer chair.
      -When I do sit in my chair, I try to do what my chiropractor taught me and tuck my feet under the chair and sit at the edge of the chair. This automatically creates a pelvic tilt that allows your spine to stack correctly.
      -I put a tennis ball between my shoulder blades. If I start to slouch, it rolls down and reminds me to fix it.
      -I made up a stretching routine for myself and will pick a stupid meeting each day to turn off my camera and stretch during. For any call I can conceivably get away with it for, I stand and pace.
      -I follow the Athlean-X every-half-hour stretch routine “The PERFECT Daily Posture Routine (UNDO SITTING!)” on youtube.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        You can get a tray type standing desk for around $40. It’s not as sturdy as a regular standing desk but perfect for home use.

    6. Xenia*

      What ergonomics issues specifically are you looking to fix? For a desk chair, a cheap footstool and a foam back support pillow can make or break an otherwise ‘meh’ chair. If you’re finding that sitting still isn’t great for you, then see if you have tall counter (kitchen counters are often good for this) that you can stand at for a while. And you can look into one of these.
      https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Kneeling-Ergonomic-Cushions-CHAIR-K04R/dp/B08DDHRH2C/ref=asc_df_B08DDHRH2C/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=459723720397&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7943284095925259945&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9033404&hvtargid=pla-943662741999&psc=1

      It’s a weird chair but I’ve found that it deals with back and leg problems a whole lot better than a standard design.

    7. No Tribble At All*

      You can get collapsible laptop stands for about $25. With that and a textbook, I can raise the height of my laptop another foot or so, which really helps. I also have an external keyboard and mouse, so at this point my laptop is a glorified small monitor. Desktop would be different. For chairs, I got an OFM ESS Collection High-Back Racing Style Bonded Leather Gaming Chair. It’s about $115 on Amazon. Good back support, squishy, folding armrests, and I like the high back headrest. It’s not adjustable though, so your mileage may vary, and I don’t know if that’s within your budget. I ordered it because two weeks in a folding chair was too much for me.

    8. Nanc*

      Any chance you could bring your office chair or whatever ergonomic stuff you need home? Or will your company reimburse you for a duplicate chair/stuff? That might be the easiest way to go.

    9. Sutemi*

      An ironing board makes a moderately good height-adjustable standing desk. Not perfect but cheap, and standing for an hour in the morning and afternoon helps me a lot.

    10. Damn it, Hardison!*

      There are a variety of different cushions you can add to your office chair, depending on what your paint points are. I bought a seat cushion and a lumbar support cushion from Amazon, and both helped. I also agree with the recommendation for a foot rest of some kind (I use one a roller foot massagers).

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Have you inquired with your employer if you can have any “budget” for them to provide you with the proper equipment, since it’s dragging out so much and now impacting your health?

      When you say “my budget” it sounds like you’re paying out of pocket and not necessarily the company’s.

      Tell them you aren’t equip at home and that you need a standing desk, send them the well reviewed items and ask if there’s a way you can be budgeted for them.

      I have a bad back and when I asked my employer for a standing desk at work, they said “of course, sure.” and if we were forced to work at home, they’d pay for home equipment as well because again, it’s not a choice or a perk of some kind, it’s how they’re forced to do business. It will raise your medical insurance when you start going in for your back problems, probably more so than if they just spend the money on your remote work settings being better for you.

      You’re still covered by workers comp if you’re messing your back up while working because you’re not given the right equipment. Just saying.

    12. Argh!*

      I have pillows & throws that I use to make my chair comfortable. I also use something to rest my feet on when I need to stretch out.

      My Fitbit vibrates at 10 to the hour from 9 to 4 and tells me how many steps I need in order to reach 250 for the hour. At home it’s usually 235 – 250 (The bathroom is apparently 7-1/2 steps away). This helps me remember to think about my body. It’s where my brain lives, so I consider it time well spent to get up and move.

    13. GarlicMicrowaver*

      We bought the Tresanti standing/sitting convertible desk (glass) from Costco. It has a built-in phone charger and also moves up and down at the press of a button. It’s around $300, a great deal.

    14. Hillary*

      Ikea has height-adjustable fixed table legs. My biggest ergonomic problem was that my last desk was too high – we switched it out to a cheap tabletop with more expensive legs at the right.

      If you spend a lot of time talking (like me) a wireless headset is worth the investment. I wander around the house while talking.

      1. Hillary*

        I also bought a very expensive chair, it will move to my hobby room as a permanent investment when I don’t need an office setup at home anymore. I hate this and can’t wait to go back.

    15. The New Wanderer*

      I have a desk but was using a dining table chair for a few months and that couldn’t last due to similar back strain issues. I really wanted to get a yoga ball setup (I have one at work that I alternate with my desk chair) but that didn’t really work out as something I could use regularly as it’s too low to use with the desk. I do sit and stretch on it though when I’m on calls in listen-only mode (wireless headsets are worth it for the freedom of movement) or taking a break. Pacing the room during calls helps a lot too, and we now have both scheduled and on demand online exercise classes that are half an hour and focus on core and stretching so I build that into my schedule too.

      I finally did get a real office chair which makes the biggest difference and since it looks like I’m WFH well into next year, that was worth the $200 investment. I also recommend a foot rest (mine’s a velour covered foam wedge, ~$20, but there was a wide selection online from super cheap to fancy) and my next thing will be some kind of wrist rest since I’ve realized that my mouse location and arm angle are pretty poor.

    16. lemon*

      I really recommend the bungee chair from Laura Furniture. It was about $180 and comes with a 2 year warranty. It really helped with the back and leg pain my cheap Wayfair office chair was giving me.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      One thing that worked for me was looking for a used version of a high-end office chair. It was the same model I’d had at work. Looking online, I was able to find a used version that was a third of the cost and have it shipped to me.

  10. Greener Pastures*

    Anyone have practical or mental tips for staying motivated at work while new-job searching? I get preoccupied by hypothetical futures and find it hard to keep up the good work at my current job. Plus, I’m looking for new work mainly because of a negative/demoralizing work culture, so it’s already been hard to stay motivated.

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      Work so you can have a good reference in the future. Even if it’s not a reference for the next job, you might still need one down the road. Due to limited availability and a short timeframe, my most toxic boss served as a character reference for 2 background checks about 8 years after we worked together. He was retired and had really mellowed out after our high stress job. I’m really thankful that I stayed in his good graces and didn’t make waves back then.

      That said, as someone who also gives references, no one really wants to give negative references unless there was something crazy going on, especially if any nostalgia kicks in. So don’t be a martyr in your last days either.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Redirect yourself to do one thing at a time.
      Don’t worry about job search or the future while you are at work. Just devote brain space to work.
      When you are job searching, tell yourself that you will let yourself think about work and the future later, once you get done job searching for the day.

      Yes, the wheels will fall off. Gently redirect yourself, “Com’on, Greener, we can think about jobs later. It’s time to work now.”

      When thinking about the future, flexibility will give you options. So while you think about the future, think about what types of choices would give you more options than other choices in unknown situations.

    3. Argh!*

      Same here. When I decide I’ve watched too many cat videos, I try to imagine a job interview and the question of “What were your greatest acoomplishments in the past year?”

      In other words, I’m not trying to please my current boss. I’m trying to impress my next boss.

    4. lazy intellectual*

      Remember that your future employer will be hiring the type of employee you are now. Imagine that your future employer is watching how you currently do your job. Would you want them to see you slacking off, or getting shit done? Think of doing good work – regardless of the job you’re in – as part of your brand. Also, if you’re using someone who currently works with you as a reference, you want them to say good things about you.

  11. Harmless Ranting*

    Why oh why, 8 months into the pandemic, do people STILL not know to mute themselves in a video call? They’re either not paying attention or just lazy.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I don’t think this ought to be industry specific. If you’re on a video or conference call, basically any call with more than 2 people participating, if you’re not currently talking, mute yourself. It’s courtesy to avoid any extraneous sounds.

        1. Dave*

          I don’t mute myself when I am currently engaged in the back and forth but I do try to be mindful of household background noise and make sure I don’t have the washer running during a meeting.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Same! Even though I’m usually sharing my screen and acting as the presenter, I usually mute myself when I’m not the one doing most of the talking. The other day the conversation had moved to another subject and I was clicking around on screen 1 (looking for a document they were talking about so I could put it up for everyone to see) while sharing screen 2, and I realized the mic was picking up on my keyboard and mouse noise. It was a reminder to be more diligent about using the mute button!

      2. Temperance*

        Everyone should automatically mute themselves when joining a call, unless they are leading it. It’s a basic courtesy of video calls.

      3. Virtual cheese*

        It’s usually a courtesy (and often a necessity) to minimize feedback, background noise, etc. by muting yourself when you’re not talking, especially on large calls.

      4. Harmless Ranting*

        It’s common courtesy. Feedback loops & echos make it impossible to hear, and anyone who has their mic on & no headset makes things miserable for everyone else.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Wouldn’t automatically mute myself if I’m one or two people in the room. But some of my all have had attendees who were not actually talking who had loud, non-work-related noises in the background. I’m not talking about the spouse or child on their own Zoom calls. I’m talking about construction noises, rearranging furniture, even loud music.
        They should have muted.

    1. Zephy*

      Better question – why, oh why, 8 months into the pandemic, do meeting hosts not know how to mute attendees or set up the meeting such that people join muted automagically? I’m pretty sure all of the major video conference platforms have that capability.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        This is an excellent question. Also, ‘automagically’ is an excellent word, whether it was intentional or not.

      2. Harmless Ranting*

        They manually un-mute themselves. We admins have figured it out, it’s the front end staff that doesn’t seem to understand WHY we do it.

      3. Temperance*

        At least at my firm, it’s a permissions issue with Zoom. Basically, because Zoom is so bad at security, they prefer us to use Teams. We have to ask IT to set up Zoom meetings for us, and they’re the “host”. Which basically means that we’re SOL if we have someone who doesn’t mute and/or unmutes themselves.

        1. TiffIf*

          So…why aren’t you using Teams instead? Why are you insisting on using Zoom even though it has known security issues? Teams automatically mutes all people joining if there are more than I think three people in the meeting.

          1. Workerbee*

            Also curious. Even with outside clients who don’t use Teams, an invite to a Teams meeting would send them to the free basic version. I find Teams much more manageable and friendly than Zoom. Granted I’ve been using Teams since it came out and Zoom only since the pandemic.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I mute only if I’m in a large meeting or if loud noises are happening behind me (construction outside, motorcycles driving by, sirens). If it’s just four co-workers, unmuting is fine.

      1. Harmless Ranting*

        Feedback loops happen because of that, particularly if you’re not using a headset. That’s why you mute!

          1. Harmless Ranting*

            No, I’m telling you: if your mic is on, and you don’t have a headset, and you are NOT talking– you are creating a feedback loop. Buy a headset!

    3. Temperance*

      We use Microsoft Teams, which allows us to mute people without them knowing. It’s glorious. Every single time we need to use Zoom for something, there’s the inevitable person having side conversations, person eating without muting, etc.

      I have to admit that I find it hilarious that the people who like Zoom the most and request us to use it are ALSO the people who don’t mute themselves.

      1. Harmless Ranting*

        I’ve gotten very good at muting those who don’t unmute themselves after speaking, but in large virtual meetings it feels like whack-a-mole. Plus there are idiots who MANUALLY unmute themselves when joining a “mute on entry” meeting. Kill meeee.

        1. Temperance*

          I hate those people! I thankfully mostly have smaller meetings (fewer than 15 people), so I can hit that mute button.

          Whenever I’m on a bigger Zoom, it’s like the Wild West in terms of basic courtesy.

    4. Nomoretuba*

      No idea. We still have someone that comes on to a weekly zoom meeting with a tuba playing in the background. She just doesn’t get it.

      1. BadWolf*

        Seemingly no matter the time, it seems one of my coworkers has a family member doing dishes in the background. It is very noisy and drowns out the actual speaker.

        1. Weekender*

          Ohmigosh…side note, but I can’t believe how many dishes we have now that both parents and kids are home for all three meals. So many dishes! I want everyone to go back so I can stop washing so many dishes.

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            We bought some paper plates and bowls, and use them when the dish situation gets too overwhelming. It gives us a breather to get caught up without feeling like our entire lives are spent creating, washing, or pretending we can’t see dirty dishes.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      Lol I have the opposite problem, I keep forgetting to take myself off mute (man I miss the spacebar feature from Zoom).

      Also, tangentially related question, how has my dog trained herself to bark and/or squeak a toy the exact second I take myself off mute, every. single. time.?

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

        Because you’re speaking but not to her…I think little kids have a sixth sense on that too. If they hear voices, it’s time to participate!

      2. RecoveringSWO*

        Yes! Even Skype for business uses the spacebar unmute function. How did Microsoft not bring that over to Teams?!?!?

        1. Admin of Sys*

          ctrl-shift-m will toggle mute, but yeah, spacebar would be so much easier. It’s like how they semi randomly implemented markdown, and implemented it differently in the pop-up/break away chat windows. Microsoft just doesn’t seem to agree with the idea of industry standards.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        My dog barks when I answer the phone or video call – something about me suddenly talking loudly makes him think there’s someone at the door I guess?

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Similarly, why oh why do people still not know how to unmute themselves when they need to speak? If I hear “Bert, sorry, you’re muted” ONE MORE TIME

      1. Anonariffic*

        I saw one post commenting that Zoom meetings are basically modern seances- “Elizabeth, are you there? We can’t see you, can you hear us? Make a sound if you’re with us.”

      2. fhqwhgads*

        In my experience this issue is often the dreaded “double muted”, where they’ve unmuted themselves in-meeting, but the headset itself is still muted, or vice-versa.

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

      They don’t realize how sensitive their mics and the video conference software are in my experience. I had a coworker eating crackers during a meeting and because Zoom picks the “speaker” based on noise and then mutes the rest, all we heard was chomp chomp chomp chomp and it was even difficult to tell him to mute his mic. He didn’t know his mic was picking up his chewing and I don’t know why he didn’t hear it on his speaker.

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

          A liken it to having a smell in your home; you get used to it, it doesn’t bother you, you no longer even smell it, and then you don’t realize others can smell it. They’re used to their own noises and don’t even hear it, or don’t realize that the microphone is picking it up: a creaking chair every time they shift, cars driving by, the rumble of a dryer…if it doesn’t bother them, how would it bother you? For some, it’s difficult to focus on a discussion while also keeping an eye on the technology — they can do one thing at a time — and now some background noise they’ve “filtered out” is causing problems.

          1. Harmless Ranting*

            But if in every single meeting, someone is pointing it out? If you have working ears?? It’s laziness, cluelessness, and lack of courtesy. Buy a headset and mute yourself!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Most meeting options automatically mute you to yourself — it’d be super inconvenient if you heard everything you were saying coming back out of your speaker at you, but that also means that you’re the only one who doesn’t hear that that your end of that phone call you just answered in the middle of the mandatory all-hands monthly staff meeting is coming across loud and clear, PAM, WE CAN HEAR YOU, PAM, CAN YOU PLEASE ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR JOB AND NOT YOUR FRIEND DOWN THE STREET. :P

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

          “Most meeting options automatically mute you to yourself — it’d be super inconvenient if you heard everything you were saying coming back out of your speaker at you” thanks, I honestly didn’t realize that he couldn’t hear his own chewing on his speaker, I just thought he was being oblivious.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        The software blocks your own sounds to prevent feedback loops, so you don’t hear your own noise over your own speakers. If it didn’t, the feedback squeals would be worse than the chewing.

    8. Threeve*

      When we first started doing everything virtually, I was so anxious about it. I thought I had to master mute/unmute perfectly or I would look horribly unprofessional. Attendees should never see a powerpoint slide that wasn’t already in presentation mode.

      But the standards for everyone–even working with partners and c-suite–are so much lower than I expected.

    9. BusyBee*

      Ok, so I usually mute myself and keep the window in the office closed so you don’t hear too much background noise. However! Even with the window closed, everyone asks me if I’m working outside once I un-mute because I have the world’s loudest birds living in the tree by the window. SO LOUD!

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m on my HOA board. The property manager kept unmuting me every time I muted myself. It drove me crazy as it kept putting up a pop up asking if it was ok.

      When I finally had a chance to tell her I was muting myself on purpose, she just shook her head in disbelief and said, “why would anyone mute themselves!”

      1. BadWolf*

        Oh no — I joined what I thought was going to be a hobby related lecture, but it was more of a discussion group. I was on mute because I was finished dinner and the leader as obsessively trying to unmute me. Like, mute is on purpose, friend.

    11. KX*

      RE: Future workforce

      Kids These Days have learned completely to mute themselves during Zoom calls, because they have to for school.

      My amusing problem is that I run two small student clubs (virtually) after school and it is a struggle to get them to unmute themselves so that they can have a real, dynamic conversation with each other. It’s affecting post-school day collaboration!

      So… generational change will come!

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

        unfortunately the software is lagging a bit behind but will hopefully catch up — a real dynamic discussion like you would have in person is almost impossible in Zoom or Teams because the software picks one person as speaker at a time. If several people are trying to speak, there is a lag as the software tries to decide who the real speaker is and then there’s usually a round of “you go ahead,” “no no, you can go ahead,” and someone else has had their virtual hand raised for 10 minutes but since no one is acknowledging it, they sit there mute until called upon.

    12. Laura H.*

      Even the best of us forget. I do- granted they’re not work calls. A gentle call out to the mute-needed person or over the chat (privately to them) is a kindness and we all need more of that.

      It’s annoying but if it’s an honest mistake, treat it that way. If it’s a persistent problem, have a conversation or go up your chain so a convo can be had by the proper manager of that person. Civility first. It’s not new but the stuff isn’t any less stressful. Be gentle and understanding- the buttons are in different places depending on what hardware is used (phone vs. computer). The actions may be too touchy or too obstinate. (Easy vs. difficult activation of the virtual switches.) There may be a delay. They may just forget.

      Be kind, sometimes you’re the one not muted accidentally.

    13. Malarkey01*

      Or the nightmare for those of us that are always muted, to look down and realize YOU ARENT MUTED!! and don’t know when it unmuted and start desperately running through your memory to remember if you talked baby talk to the dog, had a screaming kid run through or said oh FFS in the last 20 minutes. Not that this happened to me this week.

    14. Mimmy*

      Oh my goodness YES to this entiiiiiiiire thread! Sure, occasionally forgetting to mute / unmute is understandable – I’ve certainly done both. But those who habitually stay unmuted makes me a bit rage-y.

      One thing that no one has mentioned yet is the “rubbing” sound when someone moves their phone or something rubs across the phone’s mic.

      I read through the whole thread and it sounds like Zoom audio is a bit complicated. How so? I just plug my earbuds into my computer (iMac) and just mute/unmute via the onscreen control or use the Space Bar for short comments.

  12. RecoveringSWO*

    The EPA made the news this week for trying to make AMA’s worst boss of the year award:

    Phishing Exercise That Angered Staffers Won’t Reoccur, EPA Says. The EPA this week sent its employees a “phishing” test disguised as a network update, falsely informing workers that they could keep teleworking full time for as long as they saw a risk to their health or their family’s health, according to internal emails reviewed by Bloomberg Law.

    We’ve talked about some crummy phishing tests before, but is this the first one that used covid to be icky?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I read about one not long ago from the parent co of the Chicago Tribune that said something about bonuses for employees, which was extra crappy because they’ve had layoffs and furloughs this year.

    2. Temperance*

      My firm did one that was sort of COVID-related, but it was about bulk sales of toilet paper. Not changing the terms of our working arrangements.

    3. introverted af*

      My work did this recently with a, “We want to know your thoughts on our COVID response, go take the survey here.”

      I was extremely irritated.

        1. Natalie*

          As do plenty of phishing emails…

          In my experience that kind of test email will either come from a suspicious email address, or the URL will be suspicious. So if you examine either of those items as our phishing training instructs, you’ll catch it.

    4. Bear Shark*

      My company just did one that implied that due to COVID we were going to get the option to cash out unused PTO instead of losing it.

        1. Anonymous Commenter #33*

          It was a while ago, so it wouldn’t make sense to say anything now. I have a feeling *someone* said something because it was supposed to be a month-long exercise, but that was the first and only phishing test we received. :D

    5. AnonResponder*

      We had a trash one this week that got a lot of people. It said the company would now pay out vacation, and asked you to pick if you wanted to get paid or rollover by clicking one of the two buttons. We have a lot of vacation, can roll over 2x the annual, and cannot get paid, so I was really excited to see this as I am sitting on 10s of thousands of dollars of unpaid vacation. It almost got me.

    6. Lora*

      One of our clients is working on one of the Covid vaccine candidates. They sent a phishing test email saying that in collaboration with (client) they would provide doses of their vaccine to any employee who wanted one. They sent this while the client was actively recruiting for a clinical trial and also publicly saying that doses would first go to healthcare workers, first responder, etc…basically saying we could jump the line and get some kind of certified immunity.

      Client, who was forwarded the email by someone who was working with them directly, was MAD MAD MAD.

  13. General Chaos Wrangler*

    I’m a new manager looking for language on how to get an employee to be more reliable. Truthfully, the work isn’t super time sensitive, so really the only limit is we close the office at a certain time so she can only work so many hours in a day, but I’m fighting a boss with a much more traditional view of how an office should run.
    Also weighing on me is the fact that this employee just has a black cloud of bad luck. Last week she missed work for a precautionary COVID test, then her landlord stopped by as she was heading out the door to work, then the weather caused more traffic than she anticipated and then she had two days of car trouble because the first day she basically just put a band aid on it, so it broke again the second day.
    So, where’s the line, and what’s the message here?

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I would not really call the landlord coming by or failing to leave enough time to drive to work as a “black cloud of bad luck.” Or even the failure to fix the car properly as unavoidable. She needs to find her own ways to get to work on time: tell the landlord she is late for work, leave very early during bad weather, and find another way to get to work when the car is in the shop. But none of those are your responsibility. And I get that there might be reasons for each of the issues like car repairs are expensive.

      I think what you do depends upon so many things, how your office works, what your boss wants, how much capital you have to push back, etc. Even though the work is not time sensitive, it still needs to get done. If the bottom line is that she needs to be at work on time most days (ie only late once or twice a month), you just need to let her know that. You can say, our office closes at x time and we hired you to work y hours a day so I need you to reliably arrive at z time most days. That means coming in late no more than once or twice a month. Can you do that moving forward?

      FYI, I don’t think it is overly traditional to have to be on time most days of the week especially for a job that is not high level. And I am not saying that having sympathy is not part of the equation. You can set expectations and be flexible when things like this happen.

    2. Zephy*

      It sounds like – most recently, at least – she’s been late due to one-off issues that she could not plan around, which all just happened to come one after the other. You especially shouldn’t penalize her for that COVID test – you shouldn’t penalize anyone for following public health guidelines.

      I’d say if you notice a pattern, like she’s always late when it rains or she’s always late on a certain day of the week/month because her landlord comes by (for what, I can’t imagine), then you might have something to talk about. You can’t really tell her “be more responsible and check the weather report in the mornings,” but you can at least flag the pattern for her, and from there it’s up to her to figure out how to be on time when it’s raining – leave earlier, take a different route, etc. For the landlord thing, if he does in fact come by regularly for some reason, then it would probably make more sense to adjust her work schedule around that, but I’m really struggling to think of a reason the landlord would need to come by and talk to her on a regular, recurring basis that isn’t just socializing (which she should be able to shut down/redirect, but I don’t know if coaching her on that would really be in her manager’s purview).

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        This won’t fix her overall pattern of lateness, but you might want to ask her to look up her jurisdiction’s notice requirements for the landlord. If he’s “stopping by” to actually enter the premises for repairs/inspections, then he’s probably got to give 24 hrs notice and she can shut down his actions. If he’s just stopping by to socialize, she needs to excuse herself, despite potential social awkwardness.

      2. Malarkey01*

        While any of those things could have happened as one offs and been okay, once you have one or two of these, you do everything in your power to not have a third (except Covid testing).

        Most offices that have a “don’t be a stickler for time” approach do that because someone who comes in 30 minutes late can work late and still get everything done. If the office closes though and she’s not getting a full day of work that’s a problem, especially since it sounds like she isn’t getting her work done or as much work as she could. I once had someone tell me their time didn’t matter because they could get everything done in 3 hours and were then shocked that I said well you need more work then.

        I would be very direct and say This position requires you to be here by 9 am. Although I know you’ve had some unusual circumstances the last month, moving forward can you commit to making any adjustments needed to ensure you make it here on time?

    3. Weekend Please*

      Well, I wouldn’t count the Covid test time. But you can tell her that although you understand that occasionally things come up, you need her to make more of an effort to be on time. It sounds like she was late every day last week. Although the problem was different each time, it seems to come down tot he fact that she isn’t building in enough buffer time into her commute. If you only give yourself the bare minimum amount of time needed to get somewhere, odds are you will be late.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her that things like this will probably come up on a regular basis. She needs to start out earlier OR find a way to prevent each one of these things from happening again.

      I live less than a half hour away from my old job. It always took me 40 minutes or more to get to work simply because everyone else was going to work at the same time. Then I had an additional layer of unforeseens. The number of types of things that made me run late was jawdropping. There were usual things such as weather, accidents, school buses, line painting, paving, power company workers, cable company workers, road construction, and emergencies such as fires. One time I came up on a school bus with a tree in the middle of the windshield. The unusual things (to non-rural folks I worked for) included, deer, ducks, tractors, heavy log trucks, fallen trees, flooding, washed out roads, sometimes they would create a car by car search for a person and we have to wait or we had to wait for a salt truck before we could proceed up a hill. And this is only a few things of the things I encountered. I always wanted to keep a journal of all the stuff that happened on the way to work, I thought it would be an incredible read. No boss would believe it.
      But my solution became to just leave ridiculously early and just write it off as lost time.

      People who have not had jobs where you had to be at work EXACTLY on time, have no clue how outrageously hard that can be. Almost every day brings something that there is no way a reasonable person could have foreseen. I have learned a lot though. For example, I have learned that I can drive through a LOT of water and my car WILL NOT get picked up by the current of the moving water. (DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS. It’s scary.)

    5. Ama*

      I’ve been here before. I am not a stickler for exact start time, but I had an employee who started coming in later and later (20-30 minutes late instead of 10-15) and then would set her stuff down and disappear to the bathroom for another 20-30 minutes. And it was happening every single day — she was rarely in a position to actually start work before 10:30 (she was working a 9:30-5:30 schedule).

      I addressed it with her by first noting that I’d noticed her arrival time was starting to drift a little later than usual and then reminded her that while we do have flex schedules, that still means we expect employees to be reasonably consistent about being at their desk, ready to begin work, fairly close to their chosen start time. Then I offered that we could always discuss an adjustment to her start time if 9:30 wasn’t really working for her anymore. I actually didn’t specifically talk about the bathroom visits because I was hoping that the “ready to begin work near your start time” would get the point across, and it did appear to work — she started coming in much closer to 9:30 again (and emailing me if she was legitimately stuck in our city’s terrible mass transit system and running later than about 15 minutes). The first-thing-in-the-morning bathroom visits also became less frequent and shorter.

      I think in her case it was just getting a little lax in her habits because she didn’t think anyone noticed (my desk was actually not visible from hers and I think she thought because she couldn’t see me I couldn’t tell what time she arrived, not realizing I could easily hear her greeting people as she came in). Once she realized I actually did notice the problem fixed itself pretty quickly.

    6. General Chaos Wrangler*

      I did shorten the story for anonymity, but ultimately you’re all right. It’s Allison’s favorite script, “this is what I need from you, can you do that?”

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Yeah, I think you can include a disclaimer about the covid situation, so that she doesn’t get the impression that your unfairly judging her based on that. Just state that the pattern is troubling, even when you ignore the covid stuff.

    7. Public Sector Manager*

      So if I’m understanding everything correctly, your boss is a “butts in the seats” manager and even people without forward facing roles (e.g. receptionist, phones) have to be there right on the dot each and every day? If that’s the case, then you don’t have an employee reliability problem, you have a micro-managing boss problem.

      You have an employee reliability problem if the employee is late to a forward facing role and someone has to cover for them. You have an employee reliability problem if they come to work late 30-45 minutes every day and they aren’t getting their work done by the close of business. If those are the issues, you have the direct conversation on those issues–the impact the employee’s lateness has on their coworkers and their ability to meet the work demands of the office.

      But if their work is done, if they have a good attitude, then you don’t have an employee reliability problem. If they are salaried and their work is done, then you’re punishing efficiency. If they are paid hourly and their work is done, then the employee is only hurting themselves financially.

      And I agree with some of the folks above–those instances you described are not a black cloud of bad luck. I’ve been managing for 10 years and those types of things have happened to everyone on my 20 person team, including me. If those events are only impacting your boss’s perceptions of how an office is run, and not the office’s bottom line, you need to push back on your boss. That’s the line and the messaging that you should be working on.

    8. Sara without an H*

      Try to keep a clear distinction in your own mind between the individual incidents and the pattern that you see forming. I would ignore any one of the incidents you describe, but all together they make a pattern you need to address:

      “Tangerina, our core hours are 9:30 to 5:30. Last week, you were late to the office three days out of five, and as a result (insert business consequences here). I need you to be here by 9:30 most days because (insert business reason here). Can you do that?”

      Don’t get sucked into a discussion of specific instances, keep it short, keep it focused on the behavior.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes! Ignore the drama. Get to the crux of the matter. Don’t let it go on like that.

        We had a lab tech that did this. Only, the excuses -and tardiness- went on for over a decade. The excuses we got were hilarious:

        She had to rescue the fish from the fish tank because the electricity was out.
        There was a mountain lion cub in her living room. Had to wait for animal control to collect it.
        Car problems.All.The.Time. Yet it was a very reliable make/model.
        Couldn’t shower- not enough hot water available.
        Roommate sued someone for injuries incurred in a car accident. Had to placate her when the judgment was taken by the insurance company. (HUH?)

        Upper management liked her. That was the only reason she remained employed.

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

      then she had two days of car trouble because the first day she basically just put a band aid on it, so it broke again the second day.

      … so what should she have done on the first day to get a more permanent fix (which presumably would have taken longer, I’m thinking of something like car overheating due to lack of coolant so she just topped it up, but then didn’t address the real problem which was leakage of coolant due to a break somewhere, for example) — getting it properly fixed would have required missing more work, and that would be another black mark.

      Not defending her exactly – but it seems that maybe you have lumped disparate things together (COVID test, landlord stopped by vs getting stuck in traffic due to weather).

      Does she live further out from the office than others due to affordability of housing (longer commute generally = more variance in commute time), has an older car, etc? I am wondering if there’s partly a ‘privilege’ aspect here.

  14. Not A Girl Boss*

    How do you feel about the Gallup Strengths Finder quizzes? On the one hand, my quiz results make me sound like a sociopathic dictator. And some things I always thought of as my strengths were at the way bottom, which made me sad.

    On the other hand, I actually found the group activities useful – it gave me insight into how to better communicate with my team, and where I might call on them for help. Not necessarily because of whatever their listed strength was, but because of the questions we talked through with things like “what do you need from the team?” and “what do you bring to the team?” that seemed to make it a little more acceptable to “brag” about yourself. Especially since my team is very oddly populated almost exclusively by women engineers, a population famous for downplaying their strengths and agonizing over their weaknesses.

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      My former company was all about the StrengthsFinder and I usually don’t go in for that kind of stuff but I found it eerily accurate, both for top strengths and bottom strengths. Like you, I’m not sure how useful it is on an individual level (my top strength is Input which basically means I like collecting facts and trivia, and I didn’t need a personality test to tell me that) but it is really interesting to look at them on a team or a group level and see who is strong in what and how that might help the team.

      1. MsNotMrs*

        That’s where I found its usefulness too. Not so much in telling me about myself, but telling me about other people on my team and how those strengths might compliment or collide.

        I had a supervisor at the time that I didn’t mesh well with. SF helped me understand how different we were (she was very futuristic, big picture, long-range planning; I’m very improvisational, people-person, like to feel the “vibe”) and that those differences weren’t deficiencies, just… differences. Neither of us were “wrong” per se.

      2. Firecat*

        I found strengths finder very useful for finding the right job. I used 2.0 and the book and read the blurbs.

        So for your trivia example: the book might have said how you would enjoy working in a position that being able to rapidly recall niche tidbits is helpful.

        I’m am an analyst and got analytical. At first it felt like a real “duh” moment, but reading the blurbs about how it’s important to me to work in a role where i am given enough access to data and decision processes that I can analyze and come to my own conclusions explained a lot about the types of analyst roles I succeeded and struggled in.

    2. PersonabilityQuiz*

      My complaint about that system of Strengths is that each one of the “domains” contains so many of the “themes” that conceptually overlap, and because the top-five themes that make up your results are not designed to be spread across the different domains, you can end up with a set of themes all from the same domain that are just telling you the same thing about yourself over and over, even if those results came from only a slight preference you had for the domain over other domains.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        This is exactly what happened to me. I ended up with restorative, individualization, responsibility, command, significance. With the exception of individualization, they all basically tell me that I love bringing order out of chaos (and apparently, bossing people around). Which, I knew…. which is why I picked this highly specific tactical-emergency-problem-solving job. It doesn’t actually tell me anything about *how* I best accomplish those things. I don’t know if its because I’m truly too extreme, or its just a badly designed test. But “preference for types of job” and “approaches to jobs” kind of feels like apples and oranges to me.
        Other people on my team ended up with a lot more nuance that made them seem like better rounded, nicer people. For example, we have a maximizer and an activator person on our team and it suddenly made sense why they rub each other the wrong way and allowed us to reframe how we communicate about things.

    3. achoos*

      With the possible exception of Big6, none of the personality tests out there have been validated by research. They continue to be popular as they can give you insight into your own behaviors and give you the reminder that not everyone does things like you do things, and that’s okay.
      I think they’re fine for generating discussion, but it gets icky when you have to spend a lot of time talking about it. I attended a management training workshop that lasted all day and was grounded in Meyers-Briggs. The facilitator was insistent that MBTI was scientifically sound, that no one’s type ever changes, and that it’s essential to “know” your direct reports’ types so you could tailor supervision accordingly. It made me deeply uncomfortable.

      I’ve also discovered that people seem to resonate with one type of test over another. My partner feels like their StrengthsFinder results really reflects them. I read my results and really didn’t see ‘me’; neither did my boss. I see aspects of myself in MBTI. My sister strongly aligns with Slytherin, lol.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The first time I was exposed to MBTI, at a job no less, it was described to me as “a mirror” in that it regurgitates back to you what you show it, just organized. It’s not going to be any more or less consistent than its subject, no more accurate than the subject is honest in that moment, etc… It’s not quite Astrology and it’s not quite Algebra.

      2. Michaela*

        The reason why I liked it was because “tailor supervision accordingly” in my report for my manager was not to question me, and I found that hilarious.

    4. Threeve*

      I don’t find the “strengths” themselves particularly accurate or useful. Basically business-astrology.

      But it was a good way to open conversations about what everyone had in common, and think about where differences in work styles could complement each other.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Haven’t done it – but remember that none of them are an exact science. You can score differently depending on your mood! Take the good of how to work with your team better, and leave the rest.

    6. I'm an archivist*

      the stupidest waste of time ever! Almost everyone I work with fell into exactly one category (with the temperament and skill set required for this kind of position. Except for a supremely bad assistant whose was on PIP and whose label came out “woo.”
      HR then lectured us that we needed to hire people who fell into the other categories.
      Then bad assistant filed a grievance, that her supervisor’s (me) assignments did not align with her “strengths” and we were setting her up for failure. Yes, attention to detail and turning work in by deadline were an essential part of the job.

    7. Wordnerd*

      I’m sorry, I know this isn’t really what you’re looking for, but my biggest problem with StrengthsFinder is the lack of parallelism in the names of the strengths. Some are nouns, others are adjectives, and one is an acronym (WOO). Get out of here with that undisciplined nonsense.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You are my people. This week I had to figure out how to explain something like that in my second language for our new translation vendor. (My very very poor second language in which I can now discuss teapot handles on detail but still not order a meal easily.) I felt a burning need to do so.

    8. Weekend Please*

      It can be a useful tool for self reflection but it doesn’t really mean anything in and of itself and can be harmful when other people look at it and assume it to be true. As a starting point, it can work because you see the results and then think about whether that really is a strength of yours or not when you may never had though about it. But I think it can be equally useful to draw five random traits from a hat and think about if you would consider them a strength or weakness of yours.

    9. kbeers0su*

      I was trained as a trainer for both MBTI and Strengths. I don’t buy into either being scientific, and I think they both are upfront about that. One of the key phrases you learn as an MBTI facilitator is that “your type is a zip code, not an address.” So it give you an idea of how you best operate/mostly operate/like to operate. And that is helpful in both knowing yourself and learning to work with others.

      For instance, when I first took MBTI and wound up with a “T” instead of an “F” (and was the only woman in the room who was a T and not an F) it truly changed my entire perspective. I didn’t lead with empathy so I had a harder time making friends and figuring out how to work with difficult people my whole life. (Insert mind-explosion emoji.) What I took from that was that I needed to be more focused on people when developing relationships. Yes, logic is also super helpful, but people aren’t always logical.

      I will say that if you try to do these activities with a group, you have to be REALLY clear with them about the whole zip code/address thing. And it pays to bring in someone his is trained/skilled in facilitating that particular inventory. It helps keep people from either “owning” their type too fiercely and then refusing to do certain things because “it’s not my strength” or causing issues within a team who weirdly takes sides/judges/blames people for their type (which is the whole “shadow” side of Strengths that there are activities specifically for).

    10. Bear Shark*

      I didn’t find it useful, though some at my company really love them. My top 5 didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know and I joked that even the test figured out that I’m skeptical of these kinds of tests.

    11. AnotherAlison*

      My company does this (more engineers). The also publish the results so others know your strengths even after the test/exercise sharing. I am doing it wrong, but my two takeaways when I see someone’s strengths are, 1.) “Oh, you’ve got X, Y, and Z like me. Cool guy.”, or 2.) “Why the hell are you an engineer? None of your strengths make any sense for this career choice.” (I realize teams are actually supposed to be built with a cross-section of strengths.)

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Not a fan. We now have a new way to classify people since the old ways are now illegal. Anytime we try to herd people in to groups we can run into trouble, “Oh you XYZs always have problems with public speaking.”
      “Oh you’re an ABC so you have difficulty learning and doing Thing.” ugh.
      It’s pretty easy for the test taker to see the patterns in the test and skew it to show whatever they want to show.

    13. Lora*

      CurrentJob was doing it for a while with everyone above a certain level. Problem is, when you get to that level, you already have 15-30 years of work experience. If you don’t know what your strengths are at that late date…? It basically said that yes, we are all very math and data oriented. Which…we are engineers. We have also met each other, and talked to each other, so we definitely knew these things already. It added absolutely nothing.

    14. ModernHypatia*

      I did a writing productivity class this summer (and ongoing stuff since then) that uses the Strengths as the main focus (with trained folks in that system) – for that, it’s been fabulous for me. They combine it with specific writing-related stuff, so knowing, for example, that I am high Context definitely plays into some of my genre choices and how they come out best in terms of writing engaging stories, and they have had some great tips about ways to tackle places people with particular strengths tend to get stuck.

      On a general level, I’ve found it really helpful for figuring out what I need to make sure I make time for, to give my brain what it needs to work well. (If I do not get enough Input time, or Intellection time, I am going to get cranky and unproductive. Figuring out that I really do produce much better work for some kinds of questions if I can go away and think about it while playing stupid computer games for a bit or reading something totally unrelated has really helped. That kind of thing.

      On the work front, I did have an issue right after I did the class where I had a minor weirdness with my boss, and realised after the conversation that I’d gone into complete Intellection mode (“how do we intellectually solve this problem and think through all of the minute details and possibilities, let me think about that more, we might be missing something!”) and she, y’know, just wanted a policy and practice we could move forward with.

      Over that weekend, I figured out what had happened in my brain, and then next time we talked, I was able to go “Ok, I was working off this info in trying to figure out what to do, is that still accurate? If Y is the case then I’m fine with doing this thing you want that way” and we solved the problem. It was really satisfying not just to recognise the ‘something went wonky there” but to have some tools for looking at what my brain was doing with it that helped me solve it quickly and pretty easily.

    15. Lyudie*

      I did it several years ago. I found some of it interesting, but so much of the description was referencing sales (it’s been ages since I read it so I don’t remember exactly what it was, like roles you were suited for or something). So it was interesting to read about different strengths and I like the notion of building on your strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses, but otherwise, eh.

  15. C*

    Just a note of respect and solidarity for everyone working retail this holiday season. January is just a few weeks away, and we got this

    1. Myrin*

      *kinda-sad honking noises*

      Don’t know about the US but here, there’s only a certain number of people allowed into a store at the same time. One would think that would relax the atmosphere somewhat but unsurprisingly, some customers that are inside get unreasonably aggressive about the whole deal, making dealing with them even more stressful.
      We’re also the only store in our area which sells video games and toys which is Not Fun in the time before Christmas. Yay!

    2. Helen J*

      All the RESPECT to the retail workers! I have 3 family members who work retail and they have been working through all this. People need to be kind and patient with them and remember they would prefer to be at home safe with their families but they are coming in to try to make sure you get what you need. If you can’t control yourself and be respectful, order online.

    3. Laura H.*

      I’ll be popping in my store in December. I’m excited to work as a returning seasonal.

      Hope all stay safe happy and healthy.

      Y’all got this! :)

  16. He Came from Money*

    I work at a public university. I have a coworker of 5 years who came from a big money private university. Five years later we still regularly hear how they had X and Y at Private School. It’s so frustrating. He understands they had more resources than we do, but still the comparisons keep coming. And so do the expectations that we strive to do what they did. It’s frustrating.

    1. Kat the Russian*

      Every time he brings it up, I’d be tempted to ask him why he left, then. Wishful thinking, but oh so satisfying.
      For real, maybe you can make it more uncomfortable for him to bring up than otherwise, like every time he makes a comparison, you:
      Him : “Oh, at X they always did Y thing”
      You : ” That sounds great! In fact, maybe we should do that too! Coworker, why don’t you e-mail Higher-Up about it with a suggestion? Or maybe you’d like to head up the fund-raising committee for it?”
      Either he does that and succeeds in getting cool stuff for your University, or he shamefacedly mumbles out of the conversation, win-win. Do it enough times, and you’ll never hear from him again.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. That’s exactly what I would do. “Okay, Bob, you’re in charge. You get the funding and set it up then we will have that here, also!”

        Or if you can pull it off, look at others who are listening to the conversation with a bemused look and say, “Bob’s going to get us an X so we can be just like Other School.”

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I hear ya, that is frustrating and annoying, and I say that as someone who was that guy at my last job. Every time I brought up a former job (same industry, direct competitor but my new company was definitely smaller/newer/the underdog) the words poured out of my mouth before my brain realized “you’re doing it again!!!!” I truly truly truly did not want to be that person, but it sounds like a similar situation where I was often bringing up resources we didn’t have the money for or processes we didn’t have the manpower to execute (because, again, we didn’t have the money). I know it had to annoy some people, but I will say I was often highlighting, intentionally or sometimes not, things that actually did hinder our jobs, things that should have changed, resources we desperately needed, even if it was often a casual conversation or a one off comment. The irony is that I don’t really respect the former company I always referred to, but the rag tag team at new company needed structure and didn’t have a deep bench of industry experience. I was also explicitly brought on to bring my “big company experience” and help this place take it to the next level, though in the end they weren’t ready or able to do that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Depending on your relationship and position I honestly might consider having a conversation with this guy, he may or may not know he’s doing this but it could allow for an honest conversation about expectations and reality checks. But it also might shed some light on some areas that do need improving and finding ways to do better even if you don’t have the means to do it like the other place.

    3. Argh!*

      Having a one-on-one conversation about how grating and unhelpful you find this is probably the only solution. He may think that he’s helping by elevating your standards, or he feels he’s taken a step down, or he’s just tone deaf. Whatever is going on inside his head, it needs to be said that it’s time to focus on the possible within your own context. If you express it in terms of being positive while also being practical, at least you’ve said it and he may be able to hear it without becoming defensive.

  17. Crazy Plant Lady*

    At what point (if ever) in your career does your future professional development really fall onto yourself, rather than being an ongoing conversation with your manager? I was promoted to a management position almost two years ago, and my long-time manager moved to a different company about a year ago. Since that time, I haven’t had any conversations about overall performance or professional development with my new manager. I’m planning to ask her about having a meeting to discuss general performance (I get feedback on specific tasks/pieces of work, but not “big picture” feedback) and am wondering if it’s also appropriate to ask to discuss professional development, or if that should really fall onto me to figure out now that I’m no longer early in my career.

    1. Qwerty*

      It is definitely appropriate to ask, just at this point you’ll need to be the driver of the conversation. If you aren’t getting big picture feedback, schedule a call with your manager and let them know that you’d like to have a touchpoint about your overall performance. If you have specific career development goals, ask your boss for her input on how to achieve them or what the possible career opportunities are at your company.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. You have to be proactive here, CPL, since it doesn’t seem like your new boss is all that interested in the topic. Personally, I’ve never waited around to ask my manager what things they thought I could do to further develop my skills – I kind of always knew where my weaknesses were and sought out the additional training I needed. Because of this, my management at just about every company I’ve worked for put me up for expensive training courses and seminars, conferences, and the like because they knew I would enjoy it and use the information gained in the course of my duties.

        Take charge here and ask for your boss’s thoughts on your plans, but don’t leave the conversation up to her.

    2. lailaaaaah*

      I feel like a lot of it needs to be a back and forth between you and your manager. It’s worth asking her what opportunities there are, but it’s also helpful if you come prepared with where you want to develop/what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what forms of professional development you think would be most helpful.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It could be just my life experience but I assume that it’s always been on me and no one else. If a boss offers pointers then that’s a bonus.

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

      At what point (if ever) in your career does your future professional development really fall onto yourself, rather than being an ongoing conversation with your manager?

      From the beginning!

      Find your own learning opportunities, where you can. Approach every project and assignment as an investment in your learning, and your resume, rather than “my current employer needs this” and get from it what you can, without crossing the line into doing things that aren’t in the best interest of the company because they are in the best interest of your resume.

      Managers’ interest is generally (at operational level) in maintaining the status quo and meeting their own targets, which means anything that challenges that such as reports wanting to advance is challenging in one of two ways: “they’ll want to move up, but then who will do this position?” And “will they be after my job?”

      From a less cynical viewpoint it’s definitely on you to bring ideas, not just expect your manager to provide it.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      At my company it’s part of our annual review process (which includes a mid year review too) to discuss professional development, so I think of it as a totally normal thing to do. However, I will say that the effort that individual managers and employees put into it varies widely. I was fortunate to have a really strong series of managers when I first started here who were supportive of me and got me some really great opportunities for growth and visibility. So to be honest, I didn’t have to do much to be proactive about my career growth as an early career person. When I switched to a different area of the company, I went through a series of managers who I never reported to long enough to develop any serious development plan. It was the same conversation every 6 months – here’s where I want to go next, what can I do? And I’d get feedback like, “oh you’re doing fine!” or “hmm, maybe you should get experience on X or Y program” but no follow through with getting me into those programs.

      Ultimately none of them had much opportunity (or frankly, interest) to advocate for me before their own career choices had them moving on (retiring, taking a new non-management position, playing management musical chairs through re-orgs). My career stalled out for years and I just went along with it. But in the past two years I’ve been much more proactive and also been fortunate again to have a) supportive management up the chain and b) big opportunities for growth and visibility. I also completed two certificate programs to get some new high-value skills, something I should have been doing years before but didn’t yet have the motivation.

      All that to say, you should definitely talk about professional development with your manager and ideally it’s a conversation, not just you presenting a plan. Do you have an idea where you want to go or want to develop skills in? What are the different options for progressing your career at your company?

    6. Alex*

      It’s always your job, first and foremost. If you have a manager that is interested in and supports you in professional development, that’s great! But their first concern is getting the work out of you that they need to be done. Your career isn’t really their job at all, outside of the larger goals of the company.

  18. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m here to complain how ridiculously dangerous my job is. No company provided PPE, home visits ( two yesterday and one had a baby that had been on the COVID floor and one had a kid who was waiting for his COVID test) and no plans to do virtual visits for those who have been exposed. It’s bad out here, folks

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I am so sorry!
      That sounds so hollow but I really do think about people doing jobs that put them at risk. I have to work with the public (and coworkers) and am shocked at how poorly people wear their masks.

    2. Helen J*

      WHAT?!!? You are required to do home visits, even with people who have been exposed or awaiting test results??? Does your employer think COVID is fake or something? I just…can’t even. I’m gonna pray for you, your coworkers and your families.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I have no idea! My coworker got the COVID and she’s really suffering. Im mostly just worried about spread

    3. Nita*

      That’s terrible! Doesn’t your boss realize they’re putting your health and the health of your visitees at risk? Why no plans for virtual visits? We’ve had people doing virtual occupational therapy and physical therapy here in the spring. It was kind of a stopgap and wouldn’t have done much for really tough cases, but it sort of kind of worked. If that can go virtual for a little while, a lot of other services can too…

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It did go virtual in the Spring but they have decided to ignore all safety protocols lately. They want us in the office, breathing and shit.

        1. Anono-me*

          Yhey’re going to have to choose. You can either be in the office or you can be virtual and keep breathing. With Covid-19 the only way to do both is to have a one person office.

          I hope you’re able to stay well. And maybe somebody possibly at the lady that meets you in her yard will report your organization to the State Health Department or one of the news media.

  19. Purt's Peas*

    Has anyone here decided to go to med school at 30 or a little later?

    I’ve been really interested in medicine for a long time, have worked in the healthcare software field as a programmer, but I’ve never really bitten the bullet and done a full post-bacc program or made the decision to pursue medicine. I’d love to hear how people made the decision to pursue med school when they hadn’t done a pre-med program in undergrad.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      I did it at 41. I rolled my own post-bac, just doing pre-reqs at a local university. If your other undergrad grades are good you probably don’t need to spend extra monies on a packaged post-bacc. Look at oldpremeds dot org (might be oldpremeds dot com by now) and you’ll see you have lots of company. I’ll try to drop by later to tell more of the story.

    2. Sue Smith*

      This is a touch tangential, but my orthopedic surgeon started as a mechanical engineer with a manufacturing company, got involved in accident analysis and prevention, and then became interested in actually fixing people’s bodies.

    3. AGD*

      Dr. Lisa Sanders of Netflix’s “Diagnosis” was an award-winning journalist first, then got interested in medicine!

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      My mom went back when she turned 40 (medical field but not a Dr). 25 years later she has no regrets.

    5. Sarah*

      I’m 30 and dream of doing this sometimes. I do love my line of work but often fantasize about practicing medicine.

      My dad got a PharmD when he was 40. I remember how nervous he was to be “the old guy,” but his younger classmates loved him. He was class president! I know pharmacy school != med school, but I guess what I’m saying is that 30 is not too old to change paths.

    6. Ktelzbeth*

      Both my parents and I all went to med school near or shortly after 30. My brother got the earliest start of all of us after leaving his physics doctorate program at the masters level and starting med school at 26. None of us were premed in college. I was closest with a biology degree, but I was NEVER going to go into medicine. We had all tried other things and done fine, but not felt like they were the thing. In various ways we all ended up as doctors.

    7. Mellow cello*

      I started med school at 32, from a background in biomedical research. It was a useful foundation to have previous immersion in biological sciences, even without a medical focus, because picking up concepts was quicker.

      The other thing I found useful was financial stability. Med school is demanding and I lived off savings so I could focus academically without trying to balance working on the side.

      Overall, it was challenging but I’m really enjoying my new career, which is interesting and fulfilling.

      1. jolene*

        A good friend of mine did this. He had been a very successful economist who started medical training at 30. He’s now Dr House at a major US hospital and absolutely loves it. But he had saved a *lot* from his soulless Wall Street (his words) job, and was able to get married, have kids, and live in a nice house in a nice area during his training and residency. His wife had some money too and could work part time. All of these factors meant the fact that he was barely around for some years a lot more manageable for him and her.

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      I was a librarian. I was driving down the road with my then-husband (whom I was putting through school) and we passed a lottery billboard. He said, “You know, if I won the Powerball, I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. What would you be doing?” And my first thought was, “I’d go to med school, but I’m too old.” After ignoring the thought for a while, I started looking into it and found there were others who had done, or were doing, the same thing. Old Premeds was very supportive and encouraging, but you do have to make your own plan: how to cut down expenses now, how you’ll do your prereqs, how to prep for the MCAT, how you’ll handle the lengthy period of lost earnings and nearly inevitable student loans (though one of my fellow old Premeds with previous military experience in the Army got an Air Force scholarship and served after completing her education), and how you’ll find a way to enjoy the process, because you cannot hold your breath the whole way.

      I think a lot of people do a formal post-bacc, but not everyone needs it, especially if you can work out a flexible work schedule so that you can take classes–then you can keep working while you do the pre-reqs, though I’d caution you not to take too many classes at once while you’re working. Quality matters A LOT in this process. A lot of people think they HAVE to go Caribbean because they “can’t” get into a US med school, but that may not be true. Look at your grades, figure out how to ace the MCAT, get to know your professors so you can get good letters, and if you start getting excited by all this, you may well be doing the right thing.

  20. Are we there yet?*

    My predecessor “Jane” was not well liked by my boss. Jane spent a lot of money on supplies and would give out extra supplies to the assistants that worked in other buildings. Jane also had her clique of assistants that were her friends that she hung out with and gave extra supplies to.

    When she left, Jane’s role was split, so I do some of what she did and “Fergus” does another part. My boss loves Fergus and he can do no wrong. My boss raves that it’s so different compared to when Jane was here and so on.

    This is ironic because Fergus has his clique of assistants like Jane did. He gives them extra supplies and will go deliver them himself instead of having the mailroom send it. He favors some people over others, etc. He’s the new Jane! (Except male!)

    I’m trying to keep my mouth shut because they either can’t see it or don’t want to. Has anyone been in a situation like this? Does it just depend on the person in the position?

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I am going to guess that the boss liked “Jane” at the start the way she likes “Fergus” now.
      He sucks up or does things that feed her ego. At some point, that will change and Fergus will be out.

    2. Aly_b*

      Is the boss’s issue with Jane about the supplies? Obviously I don’t have the context here, but is it possible that’s a side issue and not a very big one, and he’s otherwise good at the parts of his job that matter more? Of course, could be good ol sexism, but without further info I’d be inclined to look more at his actual performance and work product as likely to produce the difference.

      1. Are we there yet?*

        That’s a good question- I’m not sure because Jane already left when I was hired. I think that she just spent a lot of money on supplies- she didn’t take inventory, she would just buy more. I haven’t accessed any reports, so I don’t know how much of a change in terms of dollar amounts were spent compared to when she was here, etc.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Why do the assistants have to suck up to managers to get enough supplies? Nobody becomes a sycophant just to hoard post-its.

      I mean, if you suspect or know that someone is taking home large quantities of supplies or selling them, or something, then report that, because it’s theft.

      But if an assistant has to join a clique to get an extra pen or refill their printer, there is something deeply wrong.

      1. library library*

        My first boss told me that he was issued one pencil when he first started working at the library (early 1970’s) that I still work at. He dropped it when he was getting on the elevator one day and it fell down the crack between the elevator carriage and the floor. He then had to go to his boss and explain what had happened and requisition a new pencil. His meeting with the boss about his carelessness with the pencil was about 20 minutes long. You can still see shades of that attitude today. And yes, I work for the state, we take the charge of being good stewards with other people’s money very seriously, perhaps too much so at times.

        And here is my ‘trick’ for small supplies – go to trainings and conferences and load up on pens, pencils, post it notes, etc..

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

      Maybe Fergus’s office supply diplomacy game is better than Jane’s, and Fergus is building up “capital” with other departments that have benefited the boss. That’s one possibility. It would also be interesting if the boss kinda sorta forgets that Jane’s job was split, so it seems like Fergus is getting twice as much done as Jane did, but that’s because there are now 2 people doing the job.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      To me this looks like the boss does not set spending limits, does not review and approve each purchase and does not oversee the distribution of the supplies. Then he whines when it all goes wrong.

      I can’t tell if he is supposed to be providing supplies to other people in other buildings. Where do they get their supplies from?

      Anyway. Don’t give supplies to other people. CYA. And let the rest of the situation sort itself out.

  21. In the Corner*

    Is there a tactful way (scripts would be great!) to correct a boss when they tell someone else that I have been in charge of things or done work that I really haven’t?

    I think the boss is well-intentioned and trying to give me credit for things I’ve helped them with, even while those things have been primarily their responsibility. Problem is, a lot of the time the quality was not up to my standards, and I had earlier asked to be allowed to improve things and have some amount of authority to do so, but was never given that clearance.

    So when we’re reviewing mismanaged processes and sloppy work with another person, it’s embarrassing and frustrating to have those retroactively assigned to me. But since my boss is trying to share credit (sometimes for what they think was good work, and other times, unthinkingly, for what we all know was bad and we’re trying to get back on track) it’s an awkward thing to address. I don’t want to throw my boss under the bus, but what I’d *like* to say otherwise is “if this had really been under my control, it would have been a lot more functional.”

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Can you say “thanks for giving me credit but I actually only did some of the typing (or whatever you did) but I am glad to be working on it now!”

      1. In the Corner*

        Thanks for this. I’ve used similar language sometimes if the work is a specific item. What I’ve found trickier is when the work in question was a larger body of work or a management responsibility.

        For example, seasonal llama grooming procedures that require the work of several people, where my boss is supposed to be managing their workflow, but doesn’t, so balls are dropped and it’s all dysfunctional. I put together a scheme for organizing the workflow, present it to my boss, and ask to be put in charge of implementing it since my boss is too busy to handle the details of llama grooming, instead focusing on llama supply chains. My boss sits on it or says something like “this plan looks good but I’ll take care of it.” Then next season, while everything is dysfunctional again, a new person is trying to find out who is managing the process (because it appears no one is) and my boss tells them that I have been the one in charge of that. Then in private I ask my boss if I’m really authorized to implement the scheme I presented, and don’t get a clear answer, and the cycle repeats.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          So I have a job like that. Stop trying to fix things. It is not helping the process and it is not helping you. I have stopped and I am much happier!
          I still make it clear I am willing to run something or take charge or help or whatever, but I stopped putting myself in the position you are finding yourself in and it is much better.
          Good luck!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Since you have gone in on this privately, the next time it happens I would take the new hire and go back to the boss and say, “I am confused. New Hire said that you told her I was in charge of X. Last we spoke you said you would get back to me. So as far as I know I am just waiting that answer. What is it that you would like New Hire to do in the interim?”

        3. Malarkey01*

          So not sure if this would fly so think about dynamics. However I had a similar thing early where I could never get the explicit go ahead. So I started doing it in the moment and with an audience.

          A: Who is in charge of grooming?
          Boss: Malarkey is heading that up.
          Me: yep, I put together a workflow last year that improves processing time and cuts down on the hoof bottleneck and was hoping to implement that this season. Boss are you okay if I proceed with that now?

          Some bosses will not like this, but with mine doing in in a moment where she admitted the need and defacto hand offed helped get it confirmed.

          1. Malarkey01*

            Forgot to add the tactful way to do it is to agree with her statement while adding some clarification about your role (yep I did x, y, and z). That ways it’s clear what you’re part was and wasn’t.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I feel your pain, except in my case it’s not a well-meaning boss trying to give credit, it’s a peer trying to get credibility for his project by claiming it has my blessing or worse, that I specifically asked for that project. Your last line “if this had really been under my control, it would have been a lot more functional” is SO true and I hate having my name associated with crappy work that’s going to die as soon as people recognize that the Emperor is actually naked.

      Several managers know what’s up in my case and have praised me for my diplomacy in dealing with it (they are attempting to deal with it at a manager-level but the peer’s manager is a True Believer in the project and has the ear of the director, so it’s politically complicated). But unfortunately I don’t have any effective scripts to share because the peer continues to do this so nothing I have said about it has made a difference in the behavior! The diplomacy part is really “we know this must bother you but you haven’t openly lost your temper.”

      Since your situation is a little different, though, would it work if you interjected with “Oh, project X? Yes, I haven’t had the opportunity to have much impact yet/really contribute anything substantive yet/am looking forward to starting a review soon.” It sounds positive, not contradictory, but still draws a line between the project that exists now pre-your involvement, and the project that could exist post-you.

      And I agree with NSNR to push for clarity with the boss on what the expectations are for you to be a real part of these projects since you haven’t been getting formal approval to do so when you’ve asked in the past. It may be that the boss is assuming this is happening and therefore giving you credit (while not recognizing that your involvement would have produced higher quality output!), but you don’t know if that’s the case.

  22. Temperance*

    After ~8 months of working at home full time, my husband has asked me to replace my extremely creaky, extremely loud, 20+ year old office chair. I’m extremely fidgety, and we share an office, and I think I’m driving the poor man nuts.

    SO to make Booth happy, I would LOVE some reasonably priced chair recommendations. Armless is a plus, because my feet don’t reach the floor and I like to criss-cross-applesauce while sitting. Thanks!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Define reasonably priced? You can often find Herman Miller refurbished chairs for a fraction of their original cost.

      I’m a bigger guy and I’ve had a Modway Articulate Mesh chair for a couple years that has worked quite well for me. I believe I paid ~$100 for it.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Sorry, nesting issue. I do have a Herman Miller Aeron chair at my ‘office office’ that I adore. It was pretty pricey IIRC. I think I spent around $800 on that one.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          My boss really wanted one of those, so he kept stopping by a office furniture resale business in our city (back in the before times) and finally found one for about $200! He was pretty proud of that one! Haha!

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

          $800 for a chair “pretty pricey”! You could say that (!) — the one I’m using cost less than 10% of that.

          “Pretty pricey” to me is something that cost maybe 2-3x the usual amount… an actual order of magnitude is something else :D

    2. Xenia*

      Vivo kneeling chair? It’s not quite criss-cross, but it deals with your feet quite nicely and it’s very comfortable.

      1. TiffIf*

        There’s a kneeling chair that has lived in my department for years and people will occasionally decide-hey I want to try that–and every single time a few days or weeks later it is found abandoned by the windows as they take back their old chair.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Not a rec for a specific chair, but on Wayfair you can filter by type of arms (none, folding, adjustable, fixed) etc. I like my OFM ESS Collection High-Back Racing Style Bonded Leather Gaming Chair. It’s about $115 on Amazon. I got the purple when it was on sale, so now my chair is Super Hip. I can sit crisscross applesauce on it. The arms are adjustable and fold upwards, so you can have your knees sticking sideways under the arms easily.

      1. BusyBee*

        Seconding that particular chair. My husband owns it, and the seat is nice and wide if you’re trying to sit criss cross. The arms folding upward helps, and it also makes it look tidier if you want to push the chair completely under the desk.

    4. LunaLena*

      I got a gamer chair for my office from Costco that was $180 and is the most comfortable office chair I’ve ever had. I’d bring it home but my work space at home is very small and I think it would be more trouble than it’s worth. My home office chair is also from Costco and has removable arms, and while it’s not as comfy as the gamer chair (the gamer chair has a high back and head support; my home office chair does not), it’s been okay for the last eight months. I tend to sit cross-legged on my chairs as well and have been able to sit that way comfortably in both chairs, even with the arms on.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      I also have the feet don’t reach the floor problem unfortunately sitting cross legged in a chair makes it worse. I’m looking at getting a “saddle chair” for my office as it allows your legs to be in a more natural position under you and promotes better posture that way.

    6. Reba*

      Many chairs have adjustable arms, I put mine up for sitting criss cross and down at arm height for sitting up.
      A footstool or yoga block could also be a good thing to try!

      And yeah, my spouse’s chair creaks. I *think* he just doesn’t hear it anymore?

      1. TiffIf*

        I have an aerobic step that sits under my desk as a footrest currently. When I was in the office I used the power backup for my computer as a footrest.

    7. Margaret*

      How short are you? This is actually a suggestion I’ve saved from some prior discussions here: https://smile.amazon.com/SitRite-Children-Height-Control-Adjustable/dp/B074CBDSQK/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=child+desk+chair&qid=1605296786&sr=8-11

      There are good reviews on it from ~5′ women saying it’s worked well.

      (Personally, I’ve never found an office that’s comfortable. I’m exactly 5′ and even if you have a foot rest, the proportions just aren’t right! I’ve considered asking my firm to buy a child-sized chair like that, but while WFH for the pandemic, I actually had my husband set up a desk from plywood that’s essentially a coffee table and just sit on the floor, swapping in a pillow and yoga block occasionally. I’ll miss then when I have to go back to the office and sit in a chair again!)

    8. Queenie*

      I don’t have a specific recommendation but I am a criss-cross-applesauce person too and highly recommend looking at staples Big & Tall section – extremely comfortable and there’s more space to sit criss-cross! Plus you can have the arm rests too

    9. Bostonian*

      Ha! My feet also don’t touch the floor, and I am sitting cross-legged right now (mostly to allow my cat more room on my lap). I LOVE my office chair, which I got at Jordan’s furniture. Comfy, adjustable, works for my short self, and I’m pretty sure it was just under $100. I’ll see if I can find it online…

    10. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Late in the weekend for the reply, but it might be worth considering what’s a reasonable price. I had a series of cheapo office chairs over the years until finally deciding to buy something in the ~$1000 range. Yeah, it’s a lot for a chair, but I spend more time with my butt in that chair than I do on a bed and mattresses that cost even more than that. It’s also held up really well over the years since I got it.

  23. Stacy*

    Does anyone have tips on creating a good collaborative relationship with a colleague? I am getting ready to team with someone to work on a new project. We have a general framework but most of the work will be left for us to decide how best to do it. I recognize that I’m a very Type A person and can have a hard time being open to other’s ideas.

    1. Dave*

      If you aren’t working with another type A I have learned to slow down and ask them about more social things or throw in mentions of the weather. Generally try to be a little more chit chatty instead of super direct and to the point … which is just more efficient but can be abrasive to people who don’t function like that.

      1. Stacy*

        From what I know about her, I think she may be even more Type A than me! Great advice on slowing down the conversation.

    2. knitter*

      A couple of thoughts

      1. be clear on your goal during a meeting– are you brainstorming vs. making a decision vs. assigning etc.
      2. have an intro conversation about working style.
      3. Be cognizant of how often you say “I’ll just do it” That works if you both decide to assign different deliverables, but it breaks down communication if you try to take all the decisions.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have gone with “I am not strong at doing ABC. How are you at doing ABC?” Here the idea is you guys decide who is stronger or more comfy with which parts and make sure the best one does those parts. That way you both win.

  24. lailaaaaah*

    My department has a ticketing system for anything that comes up, but a lot of people keep going through our manager instead. Trouble is, when they do that, the email either gets lost in his inbox, or he promises way more than we can deliver and then backtracks later- making us look bad in the process, because we had no idea. Has anyone else been in this situation, and do you have any tips?

    1. PX*

      Use that as a reason to force people to follow the system! Ie if someone complains that something disappeared in his inbox – say that unfortunately as you didnt follow the correct process, too bad so sad (but in professional terms). Same thing with him overpromising, I’ve had to do that with people and just say, unfortunately boss didnt have the full picture at the time, so X,Y,Z will take longer/cost more/whatever than anticipated. To avoid this, please follow the correct process in future (ie use the system).

      It depends on if you have the authority to say such things, but essentially keep drumming the message that unless people follow the process, things wont happen, and it is in their best interests to do so.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Oy. Who implemented the ticketing system? It sounds like boss wasn’t in on that decision, which is why they continue to allow people to route around the ticketing system. Maybe try approaching in that way to start- “Hey boss, I noticed that people are still emailing you for requests directly. Would you prefer we go that route, or use the ticketing system? I want to make sure we’re giving others the correct info so requests are processed in order.” That gently tips boss off that having two systems (one official, one unofficial) is creating issues, and reminds boss that the reason for a single system is to process things in order (or by priority- whatever). The reality is that as long as boss keeps allowing the unofficial (or dual ticketing) system to exist, some people will contact him directly.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      Once you get the request via your boss, reply back to the original requester telling them that they need to submit a ticket. Then wait until they submit the ticket before you do anything.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tell the boss what is happening and why.
      Ask that a broadcast email/message be sent out notifying everyone that ALL requests must go through the system OR they will NOT be answered.

      The beauty of this is the boss can stop worrying or trying to find these lost emails. When you present it to the boss show him how it is to his advantage to put out a broadcast message and then live by it.

    5. Aiowyn*

      Have you tried talking to your manager about it? If not, I’d try saying something like: “I’ve noticed a lot of people are reaching out to you directly for support rather than using the ticketing system. This is causing delays in us being able to address the issue and I’m sure it’s probably clogging up your inbox. Is there a way you could start directing people to the ticket system when they come to you with a request?”

      If that doesn’t work, I’d just tell the person who sent the request, that this was delayed because it wasn’t submitted through the ticket system. If they want to make sure it’s handled quickly, they should make sure to use that going forward.

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

      We have the same problem and I’m sure that ignoring any request that doesn’t go through the ticket system is not really an option…you’re probably going to need to push your boss to create the tickets for anyone who comes directly to him. At least that solves one problem immediately of getting it in the system. Another course is to quite obviously and “helpfully” create the ticket for them when it finally comes to you (heavy sighs are probably not professional), and remind them each time, “Hi Bob, I’ve created a tea brewing ticket for you but please remember to submit a request through the company portal for any new requests. Here is the direct link: ticketyourself.business.org” Add it as a signature to every email your department sends out too.

      Any chance you can get permission to send out periodic internal marketing to the whole company (or your usual customers if only a few groups use your services) about the correct procedures and how it benefits them to use the ticket system?

    7. LQ*

      How responsive is the ticket system? If sending it to the manager is still faster then you’re never going to get people to stop. How hard is the ticket system to use? Can you put things in the wrong category accidentally because they are named to work not to submit and so people have no idea where to put things and then they get lost and don’t get done? Can people keep an eye on their tickets (if they are supposed to) so they know where they are at?

      I’ve been on both sides of this. I’m fine with using a ticket system for routine things. Our entire system is down and no, I’m not using a system, I’m calling every single person I can until I find someone who answers because it’s already heading to the news so just expect a phone call, I’m not going to hunt through the ticket tool when I’ve got 20 people calling, texting, emailing and iming me saying “OH NO IT’S DOWN!” to find the right category that then gets lost and doesn’t get to the right person. That’s just unreasonable. “Wakeen, it’s down, I’m compiling an email with everything I know, but right now it looks like it’s everything, internal, external, everyone, and public facing. Keep me in the loop.” I’ll put in a ticket later if you need but I’m not starting there.

      On the other side I’ve been fairly successful with a ticket system with 1, staying on top of stuff enough so that items don’t linger, putting out a report to the right people who can communicate to their staff saying “nearly everything is handled within 1 business day, here are the list of exceptions”. Having senior leadership push for everything to go into the tool and then escalating with the tool. Send me the ticket ID and I’ll look at it. The ideal solution on this is that 90% of the time you can say “It’s already closed.” This really does rely on being able to work the items when they come in so that can be hard, but if your inbox helps to triage things that can help a lot. Straightforward items get handled within hours. Complex ones take longer is more acceptable.

      I’m also going to say (and people can complain all they want but it’s true) if you force your top level leadership to use the tool and it’s at all cumbersome, it’s a good way to get your tool tossed out. Accept that they will either skip it and go to whoever they have who will submit it on their behalf (my guess is this is what you want ideally) or just keep sending it to the boss.

      Have someone responsible to the areas that are the worst offenders as someone who will pull reports and provide information to show that the tool works better than the boss. That doesn’t have to be a formal thing, but it will make a world of good will difference too. Good luck, this can be a very hard thing to make work.

    8. Djuna*

      I see this a lot at work, people often email me, or Slack me, when they should be putting in a ticket.
      One of them recently told me he did it “for visibility” and my inner facepalm was epic.
      I explained to him that creating a ticket is the most visible, trackable, sure-fire way to get work done since it doesn’t risk falling out of my brain or getting lost in my inbox/DMs.
      Then I vid-called him and screen-shared him through making a ticket so he knew it wasn’t hard/scary/daunting/loaded with secret traps – because he said he didn’t know how to make one.

      Honesty works best in these situations, your boss can ask them to make a ticket so they can be sure the work gets quickly assigned to the best person for it, and so the submitter can check the ticket for updates.

  25. WFH Problems*

    GOOD NEWS! I know, I’m shocked too.

    I’d posted a few weeks back about how my new company agreed to let me be the lone person WFH, and it wasn’t going well because I was getting left out of everything and people kept going to in-office people because it was easier. It finally got so bad that I kind of broke down and laid it all out for my manager – I figured it wouldn’t exactly hurt anything to say how unhappy I was if I was going to get fired regardless. Anyway, she actually listened and helped come up with an action plan that has radically changed things for the better:

    -Now when they meet in the conference room, everyone brings their laptop and turns their camera on. This helps SO MUCH with me being able to join the conversation without interrupting people.
    -They bought an actual microphone for the conference room.
    -We sat down with the whole team and made a giant list of all the things we do. Then we sorted them into “remote” and “in-person required” and kind of started from scratch assigning people to jobs. This didn’t just benefit me, because the team has grown so much that ownership had gotten really fragmented. Pretty much everyone ended up getting one thing off their plate they hated, and adding one thing they wanted more exposure to.
    -For jobs that required multiple people, we created clear handoffs. “At X point, Jane will send Jill an email notifying her that the ball is now in her court.”
    -We communicated the new ownership to the entire team so they actually knew who to reach out to.
    -My boss has been fairly good at redirecting people to me when they come to her for things I own. I think actually knowing what I own has helped her with that.
    -My boss sent me a care package with a Starbucks gift card and some company swag, which was unnecessary but sweet.

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      This is fantastic! Good job on communicating with your boss and kudos to her for listening to you. It sounds like it was a win for everyone.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I have a client that’s trying to create new polices for how/where folks work, and they are really passionate about the equity of the zoom screen — everyone has exactly the same rectangle no matter who or where you are — and how to keep that when more people start working in person. Saw the guy at the top of this project model this in a cool way: At the start of a town hall address, he walked in and addressed the in-room group, then physically left the room and went to his desk to broadcast the remainder of the content.

      This resonates with me, and it’s something I push for when setting up workshops and meetings — if possible, everyone should be in the room together or on their own laptops remotely. Remote folks gets forgotten otherwise. One of my most successful workshops had a mixed group, and everyone who was video-ing in had a “buddy” in the room who was responsible for making sure they could see/hear and representing them when there were physical activities in the room. I loved that.

      1. WFH Problems*

        I used to manage a team that was half remote, and had a rule that if anyone needed to be on the phone, then everyone needs to be. That works significantly less well in my current job, because everyone (except me) sits in the same giant cubicle area and its probably complete torture hearing each other on Teams and in person just with a little lag. I like the buddy idea though!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Wow, I agree this was not the answer I expected to see. I hoped it would be something of general support, I never dreamed of this. I am so impressed and so happy for you.

      1. WFH Problems*

        She is turning out to be one! I’m so glad I broke down and talked to her. My whole life I’ve had useless bosses and I almost let that make me fall for the “why bother, it won’t matter anyway” trap here.

    4. Bostonian*

      Yay! Thanks for the update. I had a feeling they would be more accommodating once they knew what was going on. I really like that it led to changes that really helped other people, too, like getting to work on more things they wanted to.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      That’s a great update! Yay for bosses who actually listen and take positive steps to fix problems!

  26. EnfysNest*

    This is just a gripe and I know there are plenty worse situations I could be in, but it is so LOUD in my office with all the Zoom calls. We’re required to come into the office in person because we’re not equipped for working at home and we do have on-site things we have to be able to do. But most of our time is in our office and there are constant Zoom calls, some for all of us and some only for a few, but usually there are at least two people in my section on any given call.

    We do have our own offices and I keep my door closed when I can, but our walls and doors are not designed to absorb sound or anything, so I can still hear each person’s voice coming from multiple sources – their actual voice that I can hear through the wall or from the hallway, their voice coming through other coworkers’ computers, and their voice coming through on my own computer if I’m on the call. And of course there are slightly different speeds on each, so it’s this awful echo effect that just absolutely sets my teeth on edge. Half my coworkers are shout-talking to ensure their voice reaches the microphone (our mics are actually pretty sensitive – this is not needed at all) and half of them have their computer volume turned waaaay up. Often I can hear my own voice as an echo coming from someone else’s computer as I’m talking, both distracting me and causing me to instinctively try to get quieter.

    There’s just this constant noise in our office all the time and it’s really starting to get to me. Then add to that my one coworker who likes to shout down the hall for people instead of messaging them or walking to their door and takes all his calls on speakerphone at top volume and then another who likes to bark out call-and-response-like answers the way he would when he was in the army and another who thinks if he rolls his chair back a couple feet to answer his phone while on a Zoom call he doesn’t have to mute himself on the computer… it’s just a lot. I try to wear my earbuds as often as possible, but it doesn’t help much on the calls since I can still hear the other sources and now the computer’s volume is just that much closer to my ears.

    Is anyone else who is in a physical office having similar issues? Have you had any luck with ways to mitigate this? I’d love if we could get headsets for everyone or something else to try to cut down on the echo effect, but we’ve been trying to get some much more important equipment from IT for months with no success, so I don’t see this becoming a priority any time soon.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Headphones. I am in a virtual organization. We were always on calls. The people working in the office were issued headphones to help reduce noise in the office. The headphones are not authorized for people working from home.

      Noise cancelling headphones.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        seriously? no headphone for people working at home? I guess you get to hear my neighbors mowing the lawn, or the garbage truck, or the daily cat spats, or any number of other background noises.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Yep. They were strict on that and headphones and mic are not standard equipment for work from home. Honestly many, many people buy it themselves.

          I use a speaker and the computer mic and don’t think background noise is a big issue. I do live alone so there’s no one else in the house, and I haven’t got complaints that my computer mic about background noise. I don’t think my neighborhood is that noisy, but once a week the lawn guys are cutting right outside my window.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            They were strict on that and headphones and mic are not standard equipment for work from home.

            That’s crazy. My office has the policy that any equipment in-office workers get, remote workers also get. I opted out of a headset because I can never get the blasted things to work right (and they mess up my hair) and I live alone, so figured a Jabra speakerphone would be better, but I think headsets in this environment (with multiple working from home often out of the same space) is essential.

        2. TiffIf*

          My roommate is also working from home right now in the next room.
          Co-worker of mine and her husband are both working from home right now from the same office. You can’t NOT use headphones.

          Last year my company switched from desk phones to soft phones and provided everyone with a wireless headset. When we moved to work from home I simply took the headset home without even asking.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            That’s exactly what happened with me. I don’t always used the headset, but it’s very nice to have.

    2. PersonabilityQuiz*

      There’s not much that can be done about the crosstalk drowning you out when you’re trying to make your own calls. I lived that for a few years, sitting next to some obnoxiously loud people and routinely hearing those on the other end of the call ask me to quiet down my coworkers (like I had that power). All you can do is go on mute as much as possible, and then speak loudly yourself (adding to the problem, I know) when you need to be heard.

      But for when you’re trying to concentrate on work, I do have a tip: use a music playlist with lyrics in foreign languages. Kpop is good for this. Gregorian chants work two (old-Norse-style music has better rhythm though). The human voices are much more effective than instrumental music at cancelling out human talking in your background, the same way as writing actual letters over what you wrote before in pen does a better job of hiding that writing than crossing it out with straight lines. And since they’re in a foreign language, you’re not so distracted by the actual words they’re saying.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      It sounds like you’ve created a “everyone taking conference calls on speaker” situation. Headsets for everyone.

        1. TiffIf*

          Yup. The one and only time I remember someone in our cubicle farm being on speaker phone was when we were still using desk phones and he didn’t have a headset connected to his phone and was on a TEN HOUR support call trying to figure out hardware issues with our servers.

    4. TCO*

      That sounds so aggravating. Would a white noise machine/app/playlist help you drown out the noise a little bit?

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        When three of four cubemates are on the same call? Headphones and loud music. Its utterly exasperating on a good day, but if its on a day where I actually have to think? Those are the days I escape into a conference room.

    5. juneybug*

      Can folks take Zoom meetings in conference rooms? Or break-out rooms (super small rooms)?
      Can you talk to management about this?
      Frame it as a productivity issue or customers can hear office noise.
      Hang art or bulletin boards in your office. Place rugs on the floors if they are hardwood. Plants.
      They will help absorb sound.
      Can you use a white noise machine in your office? Or outside your door?
      Can your office set up a dedicated quiet space for folks to work?
      Good luck!

    6. Swirly Twirly Gumdrops*

      Any chance you have a building services/maintenance team that might be willing to pur hase and install some acoustic wall or ceiling tiles?

      I was going to suggest just doing it yourself but they are more expensive than I anticipated.

    7. Girasol*

      You can buy your own noise cancelling headset if the office will do nothing for you. But you might be able to make a case to your manager that it would be cost effective to get everyone a good PC headset in order to make you and the Zoom participants more productive. Considering how much you and your coworkers cost, just a little productivity loss is expensive and headsets are cheap by comparison. They’re don’t require much IT expertise to choose and install. So if you have an office supplies budget, they might come from there. Recommend the kind that cover both ears, whether noise cancelling or not. The cheap one-ear headsets let in noise that will distract the Zoom participants and will make them tend to shout. When they can hear their Zoom meeting in stereo, even without noise cancelling, they’ll focus better and speak in normal tones so you can focus better. That’s a win for your boss.

  27. Mum pause*

    For those of you who have a skill set that is very hard to “pick back up”/ deteriorates significantly with time away from the job, how long did you take for maternity leave and what helped you decide. For context, I’m a surgeon with hard-won skills and an adorable three month old. Money/leave availability not likely to be a significant factor at the moment.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I’m a medical physicist (work in radiation therapy). I found that my machine skills were a little rusty after 8 weeks, I just couldn’t get my body to do things as fast as my brain expected me to.
      I also didn’t have the luxury of any way to practice those skills outside work, I can’t really take a linear accelerator home. If there was a way for you to incorporate some skills practice into your routine the transition back might be easier but I have no idea what that skills practice would look like.

    2. Llellayena*

      …really fancy meat based meals? Can you prepare your dinner meat with a scalpel?…I’m reaching…

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      I can see how this would be really tough. I’m sure you will pick the skills back up really quickly but it can be hard knowing you aren’t your normal 110%.
      Can you take on just a few cases a week to keep fresh for a while?

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m not a surgeon, but I am in a stem field. I wouldn’t stay out of the workforce for longer than a year. A year gap is pretty easy to explain and is short enough that your network is still fresh. I know women who have been out of the workforce for 10 + years and it’s really difficult for them to break back in. It takes a long time and they don’t return to the same level they left at (meaning they have to take a more junior role than the one they left).

    5. tears of the mushroom*

      I’m an Ob/Gyn with 2 sons. With the oldest I took 4 months off and then went back 75% time for the next year. With my second I worked half time for a year after a 2 month leave, no Ob then. I had been in practice for 7 years before the first was born. I read and stayed up to date on the latest. For surgery, well, your hands will remember. We can not drive for a year and then pick it back up. I had to think through the steps of a pelvic reconstructive procedure before I did the first one coming back, but it went fine. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing. My husband took off 2 years from working in the ER and then returned. He had another doc with him during the first few codes but then went from there. Enjoy your baby! Your skills will be fine.

  28. Anne*

    I have a question about the use of thank you notes outside of the US.

    I’m from the Netherlands and I’m currently looking for a job there (had two interviews today!). After previous interviews, I did not send a thank you note, because as a Dutch person this feels very icky. It feels almost like I’m trying to bribe them with my thank you, or something, although I completely understand that that’s not the purpose or idea of such a note.

    I’ve spoken to some friends about this and they don’t really see the point of thank you notes either. I get the idea that they are not so common here, and they might even be perceived negatively. However, admittedly, we are all in our mid-to-late twenties and haven’t been working for very long. Additionally, none of use are really involved in hiring and none of us are in careers that rely heavily on sales or anything like that (I could see a thank you note working in such an environment).

    So, I was wondering whether some people from outside the US (preferably Europe, I guess) could weigh in on whether they think thank you notes are common/useful!

    1. londonedit*

      They’re definitely not common in the UK. I’d never actually heard of them as a thing until I started reading Alison’s advice! It’s the same sort of thing here – it would feel like you’re trying to ingratiate yourself somehow, like you’re being ‘too keen’. I don’t think sending a thank-you email would actively harm anyone’s chances, exactly, but certainly in my industry it would garner a few raised eyebrows and ‘Blimey, we’ve got an enthusiastic one over here’ sort of responses.

      I understand that in the US, the point of a thank-you letter is to reiterate your interest and raise any points you particularly want to flag up from the interview, but it’s really not part of UK job-hunting culture as I’ve experienced it (I graduated from uni 17 years ago). You do the thank-yous at the end of the interview itself.

    2. Elenna*

      Adding on to this, does anyone know how common they are in Canada? Not sure if this is a place where we’re like the US or one where we’re like the UK.

      1. Clever username goes here*

        Canadian here. I’ve always sent thank-you emails after interviews, and it’s always been well received. In fact, I’m interviewing right now and the recruiter mentioned that the person who interviewed me mentioned the thank you email and was delighted by it (she is newly here from the EU). I follow Alison’s rules – keep it professional, succinct and personalize it in some meaningful way if possible.

    3. Jo*

      Worked in NL and dont think I sent any thank you notes after interviews either. I certainly didnt for UK based jobs (based on feedback from this forum + experience after being here for a while).

      1. Finn*

        Thank you notes are not a thing in Finland either. However, when I interveiwed for an international position (in Europe), I sent thank you notes. I really wanted the job and did not want to leave any stone unturned. I tried to find a natural, spontaneous tone to express that it was nice to talk to them (which is was), and based on what I heard the position sounded very interesting to me (also true) and that my strengths A, B and C would be useful for the team (I thought a little repetition would not be bad). Maybe it was icky, but I received nice replies and also got the job.

    4. Saoirse*

      I’m in the UK and I have never sent or received such a thing, or known of anyone who did. It’s just not a thing, in my experience at least.

      It would come across rather weirdly anywhere I’ve ever worked, like someone had mistaken business relationships for social ones and mildly embarrassed themselves by doing the wrong thing.

    5. GreyNerdShark*

      Never heard of then in Australia. No idea how they’d be received but I suspect it would be seen as sucking up rather than as a courtesy.

      1. Rebeck*

        And if you’re in any sort of government or government-adjacent work where the emphasis is is on equal treatment in hiring, it would be seen as trying to circumvent those structures.

    6. Oatmeal*

      Interviewing is a different thing in NL. I moved to the US from NL and didn’t realize my cover letters were too formal for this market, for example. And no, no thank you notes. You say thank you on the phone/in person and that’s it. Much of the advice here is really American specific (no shade at Allison, this is a US blog) so you have to translate things into a Dutch cultural context.

    7. Vendelle*

      Hi, I’m also Dutch and I’ve been working for 20-odd years and in all that time I have never ever sent a thank you-note. It’s just not a thing here (and I have gotten every job I interviewed for that I really wanted to get, so it certainly hasn’t hurt my chances.

    8. Miss Marple*

      They are definitely not done in Australia.

      If you did one you would be perceived as a try hard.

      I wish they were appropriate as I love sending thank you notes to people I work with then they have helped me.

  29. Tears for Fears*

    Last week, I had to go to another part of our building to work on something because my coworker is out. I didn’t go outside, I just was on a different floor. When I returned to my desk, my boss’s admin assistant demanded to know where I was for some reason. She thought that I was at another one of our locations. I just said no, that I was on another floor working.

    Yesterday I was busy. At one point, I walked past the admin assistant and she snapped her head to look where I was going.

    Another time she left her car keys in a meeting room and I found them and returned them to her. She then accused me of hiding them! My boss said not to worry.

    She only does this with me and no one else. Other people have told me that she is “crazy” and that she is just like this.

    I don’t understand what her problem is with me- I do a different role, so we don’t do the same job, but the assistant of course has to butt into my conversations with people and ask about my work. (Maybe she doesn’t have enough to do?)

    I’m quiet, but a hard worker, so I don’t know what the problem is. I feel uncomfortable and like I’m being baby-sat or something.

    Any ideas on what to do? Has anyone else experienced this? I don’t know if she is just nosy and acts like she has authority or if she actually does have some sort of authority. The boss coddles her, so I don’t think going to the boss would help.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      There are lots of things here to try, maybe others will remember and share some.
      I like the advice to respond, when she asks where you have been, with things like:
      “it feels like you are babysitting me” or
      “that’s an odd thing to ask” or
      “Oh, boss must want to know, I’ll send boss and email and cc you” but don’t answer her.
      All said in a tone that is earnest or matter of fact, not emotional or upset.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If she asks where you were, ask who was looking for you and if there are any messages for you.

      If she butts into your conversations, apologize for “disturbing” her and take the conversation elsewhere. If that’s not an option, tell her “Thanks, I’m handling this.”

      You can’t (and don’t need to) do anything about her looking in your direction, and it sounds like your boss doesn’t believe her strange accusations.

      If she’s not talking to you directly or butting into a conversation, ignore her beyond basic good morning/goodbye.

      Some folks like to create imaginary authority and assert dominance. If you reported to her, you would know it. Since you don’t, just let her play her games by herself.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I like these.

        Q: Where were you?- respond with a question “oh did you need me?”, “what can I help you with”, “was someone looking for me?” Then just wait- most likely she’ll say oh no or move along. If she says I was just wondering where you were, treat it like an explanation for why she asked say just say “oh”, smile, and go back to what you were doing. Resist providing anymore info, which is hard sometimes when you feel you need to fill the silence or explain.

        She accuses you of hiding her keys, laugh like it’s the funniest thing you heard and say “yep you know me” hahahaha because obviously this must be a joke. Do the same when she accuses you of anything. Act like it’s a running gag.

        The butting into conversation is harder but be proactive. If someone comes to talk to you within earshot, get up and say let’s step into conference room/office to talk. If that seems odd you could try “walk with me to the break room for coffee and we can talk and walk”. My guess is when she stops getting reactions from you, she’ll move along.

        Ignore any looks- if it helps you’re probably getting under her skin by ignoring it.

    3. Helen J*

      The reason people like her are “just like this” is because they have been allowed to be “like this”. Is it really easier to let rude, nosy employees bulldoze and agitate coworkers? I know sometime internal politics are an issue, but how many good employees are you losing because of the “just like that” employee?

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      ‘Crazy’ is not an excuse for accusing others of lying/demanding to know their every movement. It’s pure nosiness. I’d say just try to ignore anything she says, if she accuses you of lying/sneaking out, shrug and say ‘sorry you feel like that’.

      (Regards, someone with actual schizophrenia who can sometimes think people are lying to me but have the self control not to say that crud out loud)

    5. WellRed*

      Well, others have told you that’s how she is, so why are you questioning it and asking us if that’s how she is? Or making it about you? She’s probably like this to a degree with everyone but you don’t see that. As to the key thing, I think that underscores how ridiculous she is. Can you limit contact?

      1. Esmeralda*

        Because people like this can escalate it to a point where it’s disruptive to you, or they say things about you not being around / “sneaking off” to people who DON’T know she’s like this, or they repeat it so often that — even though everyone knows it’s just her — hearing it so often can dent your reputation.

        BTDT.

        Work-related answers to the questions as someone noted above — those are great and may be sufficient to redirect / stop the questioning.

        If that doesn’t solve it, or it escalates, directly address it — publically, and loudly enough that others can hear (I don’t mean yelling, I just mean speaking up clearly and at a somewhat elevated volume). For instance: Phillis, you interrogate me about my where I’ve been every time I leave my desk. Is there a reason for that?
        [listen to answer]. Well, Phillis, Boss does not have a problem with me leaving my desk, so I need you to stop asking about it.

        Phillis, you’ve been telling Boss I’m away from my desk too much. Is there a reason for that? [listen to answer]. Well, Phillis, Boss does not have a problem with me leaving my desk, so I need you to stop asking about it.

        I actually had to have a meeting with my “Phillis” and our boss. Now, boss in that situation was f’d up and they were triangulating…so the meeting effectively got both of them to state out loud that there was actually no problem with my work and no one needed to check in/check out when they needed to leave their desk. And it showed both of them that I wouldn’t put up with BS like that.

        Speaking calmly, asking politely with a slightly puzzled tone about their various statements. So it did not feel confrontational, even though they were being very directly confronted. (Being willing to address conflict directly can be a real advantage when working with passive-aggressive and conflict-averse people.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. This. This.
          The reason it is happening to you, OP is because she sees you are one of the quiet ones and she feels she can get away with it.
          Sometimes we have to tell people NO. STOP. This is a good life skill to develop, OP. It will serve you well. Start now.
          If it makes you feel better, tell your boss what you are doing and why before you start. I’d go with, “Sue thinks she is my boss, asking me where I am and accusing me of being away from my desk too long. I am going to tell her that you are my boss and you are satisfied with my work or you would tell me otherwise. And then I am going to tell her to refrain from those comments from here on.”

          Wait and listen to what your boss says. He may decide to handle it himself. Or he may give you the okay to go ahead with your plan.

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

      Give increasingly bizarre answers.
      “Oh no prob, I was just taking delivery of 40 subscriptions of Vibe magazine”
      “Eh, I just had to let the llama out for a walk”
      “I went to the moon to check if it was made of green cheese. It turns out it wasn’t, so that was quite a waste of time!” [almost as much of a waste of time as you asking these pointless questions!!]

      1. RagingADHD*

        If you’re going that route, my favorite reply is “multi-state crime spree.” Especially if you’ve only been gone 10 minutes.

  30. Ray Gillette*

    Question about interviewing style. I’m currently conducting first round interviews for an open position on my team. I’m doing them all by video and they last about 20-30 minutes. I ask every candidate the same basic questions about their background, desired career trajectory, what they found interesting about this job, etc. and a few specific questions tailored to their resume and cover letter. I try to keep things relaxed and informal to put the candidate at ease as much as possible and have received a fair number of compliments about how candidates find me easy to talk to. And this seems like a good thing. But I’m concerned that I may be giving everyone a sense that they’re a frontrunner when obviously some candidates are going to be a better match for the position than others. Does this sound like something I should adjust at all?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      To me, no. Candidates will read into their interview no matter what. I think erring on the side of comfort, yours and theirs, makes sense to me.

    2. Haha Lala*

      A “good” interview just means there was effective communication, which sounds like what you’re doing. You can have a “good” interview with a candidate that doesn’t fit your opening without needing to feel guilty. As long as you’re not explicitly telling them something untrue, then no need to change anything!

      1. Ray Gillette*

        Thanks, this is what my gut told me, but since I don’t have a lot of practice interviewing people yet I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something obvious.

    3. A Person*

      My only comment here is that it doesn’t seem like you are doing any ability tests in the interview. It’s hard if you’re only doing 20-30 minutes but something quick that could help judge their work ability would be good. A specific example – our team works with data and communicating it. I ask about how they decide between using mean and median when communicating. It gives me more info on their works style and may occasionally weed out someone who is really not suited for things. It’s quick and doesn’t take too much time. It does make the candidate feel a bit more challenged, but hopefully in a good way!

      That said, I love that you’re being told you’re easy to talk to. Candidates who are at ease are going to show you their best self and that’s good!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I agree with doing an ability test, but not in a first-round interview. I would save this for when the hiring process has narrowed the pool down to the top 2-5 candidates (so either semi-finalists or finalists). No need for either side to commit to an assignment so early in the process.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        I save the skills test for the second round. Don’t want to waste the candidates’ time and mine if I’m not reasonably sure they’d be a good match for the position in other ways.

  31. LTL*

    I know contract work generally has higher hourly rates because they’re not providing benefits. Does that also apply when it’s temporary work that’s also part time?

    My old boss called and just offered me my old position back in a temporary, part time basis, until they can fill the role properly (I had quit back in the beginning of March to do a bootcamp and break into a new field). I’m wondering what I should expect for the pay.

    1. CatCat*

      Contract work also has higher hourly rates because the contractor has to pay for all the payroll taxes. I don’t know why the temporary nature (isn’t most contract work essentially temporary?) or part-time time base would make a difference (except to prorate the rate to the part-time schedule).

    2. RagingADHD*

      You should expect that they will offer you the same rate you made before, or less.

      You *need* to make more so you can cover your taxes, etc.

      Generally in a situation like this, employers have not budgeted for a proper contract role, so they don’t build the extra cost into their offer. If you want more, you will probably need to negotiate for it.

    3. RaeofSunshine*

      From my experience as a contractor for my old job in purchasing/supply chain, I took my old salary and turned that hourly, then added 50% – so $80K/year equals about $40/hour + 50% was $60/hour for my rate.

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      Make sure you’re actually an independent contractor and not an employee. If you were an employee before, how has your role changed with the part-time version to make you an independent contractor? Because if it’s identical work, then they need to give you a W-2 as every other employee. Early in my legal career I let my boss illegally convert me to a 1099 contractor, but I was clearly still an employee. I wouldn’t give your old boss a free pass “just ’cause.”

      If you’re truly an independent contractor, how much do you want for your labor to do that kind of work? That should be the benchmark, not a percentage of what you used to get paid.

    5. JessicaTate*

      It sounds like they’re hiring you as a part-time employee, not a contractor. There’s a slight difference. If you’re an employee (W2 at the end of the year), they are still paying the employer share of payroll taxes — which is a chunk of why a contractor needs to charge more. I mean, confirm with him that he’s talking about a part-time payroll position, not an independent contractor relationship. But that’s what the language says to me.

      So, to figure out your rate: They ARE paying their share of the taxes. (And you still pay the share you always have through withholdings.) What they’re NOT paying for are fringe benefits: PTO (holidays, vacation, sick) which has a cash value as a percentage of your work time; contribution to health insurance; maybe 401k match. If you just want to make the compensation equivalent of what you used to make, do the math on those and come up with an hourly rate that factors those things in to make it on par with what you used to make for that job, pro-rated to part-time hours. If you want to negotiate for the best you can get, you could try to bump it up even higher — since he’s in a bind, you could try to charge a premium and he might go for it.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re doing the same work as a part time employee, you wouldn’t be a contractor, and they’d still be handling your taxes and so on. I’d honestly expect them to pay the same as they had before, on an hourly basis – no benefits tends to be a standard for part time short term work. You could ask for more, particularly if you’ll be looking at buying your own health insurance.

  32. Credit Taker*

    I work on a small team in part of a larger organization.  My counterpart (Arya) and I were hired on at the same time (within two weeks) about two years ago and although I have much more experience and skills, she was hired at a much higher rate because she had been making more at her previous position.  I was promised an equity review within my first three months, but that was eventually denied because “she makes so much more than you do, we would never match that” by HR.  I’ve really tried to move on from my anger around this as I do like my job and my team, and while I hope I’ll eventually get a raise, I don’t put much faith in that, especially now that COVID has stymied any possibility for pay increases for at least a year and probably for at least three.  

    My current conundrum is that I spend a lot of time during the day answering questions from Arya that she should have picked up on by now or things that we’ve been told, but apparently only I can remember (?)  Our positions are such that, if she looks bad, then so do I.  We report to different people so my manager wouldn’t necessarily know how much time and effort I’ve put into training and guiding her.  One of my yearly goals this year was ‘leadership development’, which my manager and I discussed as coaching and support for other team members. So, how do I make it clear that I’ve been doing this since we began working without throwing my co-worker under the bus or sounding like I’m taking extra credit (because she also believes she needs to be copied on everything – because “it’s not done unless someone sees you do it.”)

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I am not trying to be snarky: The point still stands. The salary should be based on the value the position brings, the value the specific individual will bring, and be within a set salary band for the role. The person’s previous salary should not be a consideration, as it creates inequities like we’re seeing here.

          If the person doesn’t feel like the salary is a good match, that’s fine, both parties can move on. Maybe the company needs to review their salary band or the position and adjust. Maybe the person was overpaid previously. Maybe they just have different perspectives. Regardless, it’s a business transaction.

    1. Temperance*

      I think you should readdress the equity review; if they can’t or won’t match what your less-adept colleague makes, they can at least bring you up closer.

      I don’t think doing your coworker’s job for her is “leadership development”. I think you should make it clear that you’re carrying her.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Does your supervisor know about the major mismatch in salary, and do they support your request for an equity review? If you had them on board they might be able to help push this with HR or there higher-ups. If not, and they seem unwilling to help out, I’d take that as a sign that they don’t actually value your skills.

      I also wonder when you say “if she looks bad, then so do I”- is there a way to document better what you each do so it’s clear when she’s the one doing the bad work?

      Sadly, many organizations don’t realize the full value of people until they leave. So you may just have to do so.

    3. irene adler*

      Maybe bring up – to your boss- the aspect of how much time you spend answering Arya’s questions and how that negatively impacts your work tasks. Is boss okay with the amount of your time Arya is taking up?

      Leadership development is fine. But there’s a limit on how much of your job is to be spent coaching/supporting others. Did that limit get established during the yearly goals discussion? And, there’s a difference between supporting others and allowing them to lean on you in order to complete their work. Leadership development also means providing the avenue(s) for the “coached” to stand on their own. Maybe it’s time for a plan to wean Arya off of the constant need for your support.

    4. WellRed*

      Leadership development? Is that what they are calling it so you’ll do it? Puhleeez.
      It’s not throwing your coworker under the boss to outline clearly and unemotionally what you are doing in your role and how much time carrying Arya is taking. You also need to stop carrying Arya (and how does she make you copy her on everything? Answer: She can’t).
      Where is your manager? Why doesn’t she know how much time you are spending on Arya? Why hasn’t she advocated for the raise?
      Want to be a leader? Start advocating for yourself. And dust of your resume. It sounds like your company doesn’t value you.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Can you move to another part of your organization and get a nice raise like she did???

      You can refuse to answer the same question from her more than once or twice.
      You can try to get estimates of how much of your time she is swallowing up and present to your boss.
      You can get a list of examples of how she is dropping the ball and making you look bad to show your boss.

      Here’s the one I might seriously think about. I might inform the boss that I will not be teaching her the job anymore. You are both have in the same amount of time at this position. She should know the job by now. let the boss know that it will appear that you are not doing YOUR job but what is actually happening is that you have STOPPED doing HER job for her.

      At the end of the day remember that it is not her fault the pay is so mismatched. It’s the fault of the management of the organization you work for. You might be able to “fix” her in a few more years (maybe), but you will never fix the management problem going on here.

  33. Homebody Houseplant*

    Like many people I am job hunting right now- but I am currently employed. I’m just ready to do something different, and know that my ability to work remotely won’t last forever at this job which, now that I have had a taste, is something I am not willing to give up.

    I applied for a remote job yesterday that took literally two hours of my time in assessments, and then “they” (and by they I mean the application software) immediately asked for references. I instead gave my own email addresses, and said I would provide references once I have had a formal interview and am considered a strong candidate, as I am not willing to jeopardize my current employment.

    Man am I glad I did, because as soon as I submitted that I received form emails about the reference check. I can’t imagine how I would have felt if those had actually gone to my boss. My boss does not know I am job hunting, and will not know until it is time for me to go. Who in their right mind thinks that is good practice? I am just disgusted that so much of my time was wasted and that I narrowly avoided what could have been a really awful situation.

    For those of you that have successfully found fully remote jobs, how are you looking for them? I just feel so stuck and lost.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Wow! That’s amazingly horrible. I hope you didn’t pursue that job further. You dodged a bullet.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Usually though, you would not give your current boss as a reference until the very end of the hiring process. Do you have former supervisors or others you can use as references?

      1. Homebody Houseplant*

        I don’t! I’ve been at my current organization for nearly 3 years, and all of my other experience was right after college with a fairly useless degree “I need a job to get by” short term stuff, like seasonal retail. Because of the close knit social nature of the organization I work with, even my boss is basically a peer, but I really cannot let anyone know that I am trying to leave. I’ve been frustrated I really can’t even use what social capital I have to find an in anywhere, because basically everyone I know is connected to this job in some form or fashion.

  34. AvonLady Barksdale*

    After a few weeks of absolutely nothing on the job search front, I’m now in the very weird position of being a top candidate for a company that is moving FAST. I started job searching in earnest around this time last year, had a few bites, then COVID hit. Then I was the top external candidate for an ok role, didn’t get it. Then I had a somewhat long interview process for a company that I liked, a role that sounded pretty good… and they decided to delay hiring until December. I kept sending out resumes, no bites.

    Then at the end of last week I got an email from an internal recruiter for a company that I have known well for my entire career. They offer services to my industry, and it’s a sales role. I spoke to her on Monday, met with the hiring manager yesterday, and am meeting with the person who used to be in the role this afternoon. They are moving really quickly– the hiring manager told me he wanted to have everything wrapped up by Thanksgiving. So if today goes well, I may have a new job in December.

    This is awesome, especially because I really need to get out of my current job, but I am somewhat freaking out. I have never been a salesperson. I am confident I can do it, but there are processes to learn and a shift in priorities and I know it will be NUTS. The hiring manager thinks my background is a huge asset and he can teach me the sales stuff, and I really liked him, so while I don’t have reservations about taking it on, it just feels overwhelming.

    This job has HUGE advantages for me. New challenges, better pay (decent base + good commission), in the industry I want to stay in, and with a company that’s big and well-known with a lot of varied opportunities.

    I think I just need some talking down. Has anyone transitioned into sales mid-career and can share some stories?

    1. Clever username goes here*

      Are we twins? I posted almost this exact question in last weeks’ open thread!
      I also don’t have any *direct* sales experience, but I’ve worked tangentially with account managers in a technical SME capacity in the past. During my first interview the hiring manager did say she was hesitant because of my lack of direct experience, but really liked my industry knowledge and network of contacts in my local market. It’s sort of true – (almost) anyone can be taught sales, but you can’t teach the other stuff that might make you an excellent fit for the role (like insider knowledge of how your industry specific sales process works). I’m auditing a Coursera sales course to prep for the next interview, at least so I can say I’ve done some work to determine what skills I will need in order to be successful. Good luck! Keep us posted!

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Ehh, I would add to your line that while it’s true almost anyone can be ‘taught’ sales. The number of successful salespeople is much, much lower.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If someone said to you, “Okay tomorrow we are going to start crocheting railroad ties”, you’d probably feel the same way as you do now. It’s pretty normal for people to be overwhelmed by something that is unknown to them and is unseen.

      If you do not have your hands on the crochet hook and yarn it is really tough to imagine how the heck you are going to get a railroad tie out of that ball of yarn.

      Once you get in the building the first day and start to actually see things and do some small things such as getting logged in to your computer, you will start to feel a tiny bit better. But, no, right now, sitting in your chair there you will not feel better because you cannot see the workplace or the work. Your imagination is left to wander about and create whatever images it wants.

      For an actionable plan, I would use affirmations. “I will wait and see what the job is before making assumptions about how it will be.” OR “I will take one day at a time and just do my absolute best each day. I understand that some days will be better than others, so I am not going to beat myself up over this.”
      You can vow to take a note book and use it. You can review the notebook daily or every other day.

      My guess would be that they don’t want cheesy sales people. That is why they are willing to start someone who has never done sales. They are more concerned about having ethical people. So hang on to this thought and let your good ethics show.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Best of luck to you with your interview process! To answer your question, it depends on how much prospecting your role will entail. The more prospecting you need to do, the thicker your skin will need to be as by nature you’ll be facing a lot of rejection. Sales by nature, is extremely difficult. There’s a reason why sales folks are usually the highest compensated people in the company (outside of senior leadership). Now, if this is more of an account management role where you’ll be fed lots of warm leads and simply be responsible for converting them, than that’s much easier. I hope you find a tremendous amount of success in this role. Sales is one of the few roles that you can actually control your compensation. The harder you work and the more deals you close, the more money you’ll make.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s the only thing really easing my mind– I’ll be handed a book of existing accounts as well as leads that should be pretty far along, and if I sell a new package to an existing client, that’s considered new business. The company provides services that clients need if they want to be successful/competitive in the industry and it has very few competitors.

        The more I think about it, the more I’m looking forward to the commission aspect. If it were 100% commission I would be running away screaming, but I like knowing that I have control over the “extras”. At my current company, the bonus structure is built on really weird company goals that have very little to do with me.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Yup, totally hear where you’re coming from on the weird bonus structure. It sounds like this could be a pretty sweet gig! Best of luck!

  35. ribbet*

    I’m trying to figure out a resume format situation. I work in an industry where its normal to work on limited time projects, about 3-6 months each. In the last 18 months or so I’ve worked on 3 of them in addition to about 5 months in an adjacent industry. The 5 month/adjacent job is the only one that is truly job-hop-y – however I would have only been there for 9 months maximum even if I hadn’t left, and the project I left for was very prestigious. Within my industry it is clear that all these projects reflect well on me, as its a fairly niche industry and this means that people were impressed enough by my work to ask me back on their next project.

    The thing is, how do I explain all this to someone not in my industry? I have it all under one “Consulting” header on my resume, but there are still 4 subsections in 18 months. They are each with different companies, different bosses – not like temp jobs. Should I leave the 5 month/adjacent job off? Then I have a 5 month gap on my resume for no good reason, and I also do want to talk about what I did there.

    I basically work in something cross-functional (think accounting, law) but was just doing it in this short-term project heavy industry. But now I want to go back and work a normal job in a normal company, and not look like a flighty job hopper.

    1. cubone*

      I’m not 100% I follow the specifics, but this doesn’t sound all that concerning to me? You’ve clearly accomplished a lot and are in a role/industry where that looks like different projects at different places. Could you put a line under/next to “Consulting” that provides some context? Eg. “[Industry] is often structured around short term, project specific work. Below is a summary of these projects and the companies that oversaw the work”. Not sure if that reads awkward, but I think a brief contextualization in the resume + addressing this in a cover letter more explicitly would be more than enough. The cover letter would actually be easy to demonstrate why you’re making a switch (because you want to be able to work on longer projects, etc).

    2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I’ve done a fair bit of contract/consulting work in accounting. My latest stint was about 2 years, with 5 different clients. On my resume it’s listed as:

      Senior Bean Counter (City, State) – Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
      *Contract/consulting clients included ABC, DEF, XYZ (only listed the major company placement, not the little guys)
      *2nd Bullet Point
      *3rd Bullet Point
      *blah blah

      1. Swirly Twirly Gumdrops*

        I was thinking something similar but modified slightly for this project based work history.

        Ex:
        Senior Accountant (dates)
        •Project A (list accomplishments and outcome)
        •Project B (accomplishments and outcome)
        Etc…

        Then have a second section for “other work experience” and list the role for the other industry and all other job history.

  36. Handwashing Hero*

    Just wanted to give thanks to all that gave Zoom interview tips a couple weeks ago. It truly helped!! The interview went really well and I managed to have good connection with both interviewers. Even though one had to continually remove an adorable cat from their lap and was certainly distracting the first time.

    I had hoped it would turn into a good news Friday entry but it didn’t work out. They were effusively complementary and email was very personal etc, that it was a tough choice. On to the next but at least I feel confident in a new interview method!

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Happy for you Handwashing Hero, and good luck with the next steps!
      Out of curiosity, were they any tips in particular that you found worked for you?

      1. Handwashing Hero*

        Lots!

        -Getting it setup beforehand and checking it around the same time of day as the interview in the clothes I’d wear for any weird lighting.
        -Practice zoom call with a friend just to chat got me so much more comfortable staring at the camera aka eye contact. I was using an Ipad because it had better video quality than my laptop but the camera is at the side so had to account for that.
        -Had water and notes/questions off to the side on my desk.
        -Pretend it’s a phone call with video. lol

  37. Ali*

    Could anyone share resume advice when you are a “lead” without being a lead/supervisor? I am the only experienced member of a new, 15-person team and I’ve been told to answer questions, offer guidance, support the newbies. How can I convey this?

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      Put it in your action bullet points. “Handpicked to train 14 coworkers in ____, resulting in efficient onboarding of new team” or something like that, bonus if you can point to some measure of success you had in training or the team had.

    2. Virtual cheese*

      You can say “lead orientation and onboarding” or whatever even if that’s not a formal “Lead ___” title. You’re just using lead as the verb to mean handles or in charge of, the way you would say “led orientation and on boarding” for a job five years ago. You’re leading the task.

      I’d avoid the phrase handpicked, it’s a little precious and generally how one is selected for things anyway

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I had a similar situation after having more and more senior jobs at Toxic Workplace but with unimpressive titles to reflect what I was doing. On the resume I did “Lead teapot distributor” as true in that I was a teapot distributor in technicality but widely seen at the organization as the go-to person for any distribution-related issues and had superior judgment about how we distributed teapots. It was a stretch to say lead but I was comfortable because if interviewers asked around about me, even non-references and random people at my company would agree with the assessment and say yes, TWS is the senior teapot distributor and we rely on their judgment. Then I explained in the job description bullet points what the specifics were in such a way it was clearly higher level than the title alone might suggest, in that the outcome depended on me because I made sure A, B and C were done properly. Whereas my colleagues might have said “prepare and send teapots to clients” my tasks were “catch errors in the process of preparing and sending teapots to clients and formalize new distribution plan for approval; ensure that the maximum number of teapots are distributed and priority deliveries are made quickly.”

      Then I used the cover letter to explain where I was coming from in more depth; “I’ve been at the company’s teapot division for X years, beginning as quality control but now am company’s touchpoint for any distribution questions and make daily decisions about Y/ ensure Z happens.”

      So you could try “When a new team of 15 was created, I took on responsibility for supporting new employees in Y and Z ways.” or something along those lines. The cover is a great place to explain what you’re actually doing without worrying about titles, if you’re in the kind of workplace where they will rely on you being that person without the reward of an accurate title or job description (I’m familiar with those).

  38. BadWolf*

    I just found out that an “OMG, We have to do this Project NOW NOW NOW, bail on our regular deadlines and process” project has been bouncing around for months and months and only now did it reach someone of adequate power to demand we jam it at the end of a project deadline instead of rolling it into a project where we can do all the due dates/process normally. Ugh. Before I was confused and skeptical, now I’m annoyed and angry.

  39. Darlingpants*

    My fuse is much shorter than normal due to *waves hands* and I’m at BEC with my company even without the general world stress, but my manager sent us an email yesterday afternoon threatening/warning they’ll revoke previously approved PTO over the holidays if there isn’t enough work coverage. The day before she had emailed me that I had too much PTO to roll over and needed to take an additional 3 days off (she did the math wrong and I don’t). I don’t expect them to actually revoke anything, because I’m doing scheduling and the coverage is totally fine, but I spent the afternoon daydreaming about scenarios where they try and I immediately give notice. The kicker is that they’re so worried about coverage because if even one of the three people they threatened leaves in the next 4 months the entire manufacturing process is totally screwed, but instead of realizing that they should hire a backup and treat us like we’re valuable members of the team, they’re doing this BS.

    Anyone else daydreaming of dramatically quitting their job and riding off into the sunset? Anyone actually managed to do it?

    1. cubone*

      Yes to daydreaming about dramatically quitting (provided a super long comment below if you feel like reading my whole story!). I haven’t but may yet, but I’ve had a few friends quit dramatically:

      1) friend 1: wrote an angry resignation letter probably a dozen times over the course of a year, never did anything, finally cracked after they promised training for a highly specialized new function he was expected to take on, then backpedalled and expected him to still do the task sans training (massive safety risk). Handed in a flaming resignation letter the following Monday outlining the safety risks, supervisor and grandboss didn’t speak or acknowledge his presence for the remaining 2 weeks, BUT HR did meet with him and go over the safety allegations and he got many, many comments of appreciate from colleagues afterwards as it lead to protocol changes. This was February 2020 and he planned to take a month off and then find a new gig. That hasn’t worked out (#thankscovid) and is still unemployed. Anxious about the unemployment, struggling to find a gig, but has never once said “I shouldn’t have quit” (just wishes he didn’t take the time off and beat the wave of unemployed folks clamouring for jobs).

      2) friend 2: also quit rather dramatically (new CEO of 6 months was an absolute dolt and slowly dismantling all their work to focus on “thought leadership” aka his public profile) without anything lined up, but at the end of the 2 weeks notice, they begged her to stay on in a short term freelance capacity with a doubled hourly rate. She agreed, thinking the boundaries would be clearer and additional pay was worth it. Lasted a month, hightailed it out of there, found another a job within 2 weeks (is one of the most ambitious, workaholic people I know though).

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I have, twice in my career, done the dramatic ‘eff this, I’m out’ and left a firm. One was a total toxic mess of a place (no, you can’t cancel all my leave over the holidays just because I don’t have kids, or demand I make up the time I was off sick) and the other was outright illegal in how it was operating.

      The feeling on the day was equal parts ‘yey I leave this trash heap behind’ and ‘oh gods I don’t have another job maybe this was a mistake’ in both cases, resolved a few days later with the knowledge that my mental health was no longer in crisis mode.

      I’m…not sure I’d do it again though. Maybe because I’m older now and have more responsibilities.

    3. MinotJ*

      I love my job, and my manager is pretty darn good. But I still have a recurring fantasy of walking into her office and asking “Can this conversation count as my two weeks notice, or do you need an official email?” It calms me down just a smidge every time I replay it.

      My company also sometimes puts people in the bind of maxing out on PTO, but at the same time denying or cancelling vacations. Not cool.

  40. NeonFireworks*

    My workplace uses Outlook and I use it in my browser. I’m happy with it, but am having two recurring issues that are kind of getting on my nerves. I’d appreciate suggestions.

    1. My email address is on one of the contact pages of my large organization’s website, which gets tons of hits. Outlook’s rules for filtering things control the spam and other nonsense well – which is good because it amounts to about 60% of the raw number of incoming email messages I get. However, the tiny red dot in the browser icon appears whenever something new hits my inbox, and then 60% of the time there’s nothing to see because the new message has been sent to spam/trash. Is there some way of telling Outlook to compare notes with the filters better so that it doesn’t alert me to what is, in effect, nothing?

    2. For the last year or so, I’ve been experiencing a problem where sometimes while rearranging things inside the text of an email (copying and pasting, backspacing, etc.), Outlook thinks I suddenly want to convert the text of a whole paragraph to alternative formatting. It changes it automatically: a different sans serif font, grey instead of black, a size larger, with wider line spacing. I never want this kind of automatic formatting. Manually fixing it takes a while and doesn’t even compensate for everything (I don’t think I can control the line spacing in Outlook!). I dislike that this is making my emails look sloppy/inconsistent, and also wasting my time. Can I turn this off?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Any chance you can use the Outlook application rather than in your browser? I think that would resolve your issues to #2.

    2. MissBliss*

      For #2: when you copy and paste to move it around, first, open another tab and paste it into the URL bar. Then copy from there and paste back into the email. It strips it of any weird formatting. (You should also be able to paste without formatting

      1. NeonFireworks*

        Thanks for the thought! I actually do this, with a window of a basic text editing program. Outlook still likes to impose its own preferences suddenly on text I’ve already written, for some reason.

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

        This is in the desktop application: when you start a new email, you can go into Drafts menu and uncheck HTML formatting while you write/copy/paste your draft email — without HTML selected, there is no formatting; you can check it back on after you’re finished writing and then format the whole thing at once.

        In the browser app, click on the “…” and select “switch to plain text” and it will strip out all of the formatting; you can switch it back to HTML and format it after.

    3. le beef*

      For #1, is your rule set up to mark the email as Read after it moves to the folder? That may eliminate the red dot indicator, it definitely does in the app version.

    4. jleebeane*

      For number 2, you could try right clicking and choosing “paste as plain text” or “paste text only”, which should make the pasted text match your current formatting.

  41. fencing*

    A position opened recently in my incredibly niche field, that would be the only possible next step in my career. It’s similar to what I do now but with a larger sphere of influence. I just can’t get myself motivated to apply for it. I guess that means I don’t actually want it?

    1. Four lights*

      Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you don’t really want it, or you could just be too exhausted from things going on in life to have the energy to apply, or maybe you’re afraid that it won’t be a good job after all, or you’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t like you. I always say apply, because you don’t have to decide anything until they give you an offer.

    2. AM*

      I was in this position too, so I empathize. An opening came up at work that would be the next level higher, and I just couldn’t bring myself to apply. I know that I should have, but I just can’t motivate myself to get into interview mode right now (possibly just fatigued over coronavirus/election/etc.).

    3. RecoveringSWO*

      If it’s in a new company, I wouldn’t beat yourself up over not applying. I’m not sure how your industry is handling covid, but I wouldn’t want to lose seniority if layoffs come around.

    4. irene adler*

      Or maybe you have gotten too comfortable with your current position.
      Can you motivate yourself by listing the positives that would come with this new position? Or think a bit about how you will feel if you let this opportunity pass by?

    5. Temperance*

      It might not be an actual lack of desire, but anxiety over the position, rejection, changing jobs, etc.

      I have GAD and sometimes self-sabotage because I’m paralyzed with anxiety about putting myself out there.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Could be you don’t want it. Could be you do want it in general but want stability right now.

      Could be you want it very much but are overstressed/depressed and that’s tanking your ability to follow through.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had a similar situation a couple of months ago. A job popped up in my area that is the next logical step in my career, and I sat on it for a few days, lacking the motivation to write a cover letter and update my resume. Finally at 7:00 on a Sunday night I said what the hell and dashed off a cover letter resume. Surprisingly I got an email from HR the next day, and over the next 2 weeks had several Zoom interviews. At each one I became more and more interested in the job itself. The people were great, the position had a lot of opportunities, and I got excited about the possibility of changing jobs. They offered me the position, and I accepted, to start at the beginning of the year. I think my attitude was different this time because I wasn’t looking/trying to flee my current position, they had to convince me that it was worth leaving my current job. I think it’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for most things these days, so I say give it a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised!

    8. young professional*

      Apply! Do what you can to get yourself into the mode to apply. Do you think you may be anxious? Stressed and paralyzed? Stressed and apathetic? I’ve definitely been in the space where I know something would be so good for me but I can’t care emotionally about it. Apply and then you can always reject the move. If you don’t apply, you will never get the chance. Can you rope in someone else to help you get into “sit down and apply” mode?

    9. Pink Dahlia*

      I had this issue, and I think it’s just that I’m totally fried and my brain is burned out. The idea of revising my resume and going through the application process and putting on my extrovert hat to interview is just TOO MUCH to handle right now.

      Don’t handle it the way I did: burn bridges by firing off a shoddy, non-updated resume just to convince myself that I made the effort, so I could mentally check the boxes. Now I have a handful of poor representations of myself out there. Either jump in with both feet, or do nothing.

  42. AnonyRemote*

    Any HR types have solid sources they can point me to on clarifying FMLA rules?

    I work for a company that is 100% remote, not for COVID reasons. There is no office, although there is an Official Business Address at “headquarters” (in the state where we’re incorporated). There are 500 employees in 40something states. My understanding is for the purposes of FMLA, a teleworker’s home is not considered a “work site”. The “work site” is supposed to be the office from which work is assigned. However, that can’t be the location of one’s supervisor, since they’re also teleworking and their home is also not a “work site”. To me this means if you backtrack enough, functionally we all report to one work site (headquarters?). There aren’t branches that act like independent sublocations. No department is located in one spot. It’s fully distributed.
    HR says because there are not 50 employees in any one state, the company is not bound to FMLA. I can’t find any resource that says in the case of all teleworkers the 75 mile/”location reported to” clause swaps over to be “everyone in the same state”. But I also can’t find any resource that more clearly defines the intent of the law in this context.
    Is this clarified anywhere? Or is this the sort of thing that was written too ambiguously and doesn’t cover all possible scenarios of telework and thus might need to be settled by courts? (or amendments to the law?)

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      To me, it sounds like everyone’s “worksite” is that main headquarters office, and FMLA would apply. Their worksite can’t be their home office, so that doesn’t leave any other options, right? I don’t see any mention in the FMLA language about a certain number of employees needing to be in one state.

    2. Jen MaHRtini*

      Kimmy’s correct, the worksite of a home-based employee is the location from which their assignments come, in your case the registered HQ. Since you have 500 people reporting to HQ, you’re all eligible assuming tenure and hours tests are met.

      State borders aren’t a factor in FMLA determination even for in-person workers, its 50 people within 75 miles, so for example offices in NYC and Northern NJ would be combined for the count.

  43. cubone*

    So this week my non profit org got majorly called out in a public way for some bad behavior. Without providing exposing details, the allegations were specific to one particular work area, raised by more than one person, and while I know I’m not close to the issue and thus don’t have all the context/truth, I recognized larger themes in what was alleged and how it impacts my own work in different, but similar ways. Basically, it really highlighted to me a more pervasive cultural issue I have been feeling for a while. It was also really hard and sad to see your workplace in the news for negative reasons (I’m really passionate about our mission and felt good about the work we do).

    I don’t work in communications, so I’m not an expert here but I am so disappointed by the crisis response, which was: acknowledging the issue + committing to “finding solutions” in the vaguest terms, while reiterating all the solutions leadership has already accomplished (which were overblown by a lot, eg. “staff have been given increased time off due to the stress of the pandemic” = we got 1 extra vacation day this year. One. Also that was irrelevant to what the actual issue being raised was about). We had a pre-planned All Staff meeting later in the week, and the issues raised in public were briefly addressed (aka our CEO monologued the same all staff email we’d received about it) and then back to the regular departmental updates. While often the Zoom chat has a lot of “yay! good work [team]!” or general upbeatness, it was FLOODED with overly effusive praise and “positivity”. Like our past meetings might be a nice, simple comment or question every minute or two…. this was easily 10-20 comments a minute, all of which were variations on: “WOW!”, “what an incredible impact this team is having!”, “AMAZING WORK EVERYONE!”. Zero questions.

    I had to turn my camera off because I thought I was going to cry. I’d wanted to ask some questions or share some tough, but fair thoughts on the situation, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk into the centre of a (virtual) room with people basically wearing party hats and throwing confetti to say “hi, I’m actually really upset”. I certainly didn’t expect everyone to echo my feelings or even be willing/confident to hold our leadership to task, especially in a public forum, but it felt like I was hit by a bag of bricks. I thought the issues raised were immensely important, the response to them was subpar and that there was a huge opportunity for an open, honest discussion….

    The whole thing honestly felt low-key threatening, like there had been some moment where everyone was asked to choose sides, and apparently 99% of my colleagues chose the side of “none of this is wrong and everything is fine” and being super vocal about it. Since the meeting, our Slack channels typically used for casual shout outs and sharing cross-org updates have again been flooded with people sharing emails and notes they’ve gotten from partners and donors in response to the media piece that say “I know [org] does incredible work!!!!” Which is like, absolutely irrelevant as the specific issue is not about our work/impact, but how we operate internally.

    Obviously…. I’m starting a job hunt. There have been other issues but I felt we had good people headed in the right direction – now I’m really doubtful that we have the right priorities, values or leadership. I’m sad and I’m disappointed and I don’t know how to continue working with colleagues I trusted and respected who are not interested in any reflection, only defense.

    Mostly just appreciate being able to vent here but grateful for any insights, advice, similar experiences <3

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I left a situation awhile ago. Sorry to be vague. The light at the end of the tunnel WAS indeed an on-coming train and what a crash there is. I just wanted to sit and cry. The situation is enormously complex. I sincerely doubt anyone fully understands all the aspects. I tried taking a deep dive into the problems and I sincerely found it all absolutely CRUSHING. There are so many problems I cannot count that high. Its going to take dozens and dozens of people to sort all that is wrong.

      Meanwhile, I worked hard for so many years.
      I met some really nice people.
      I have to face the fact that those really nice people are INCREDIBLY naive.
      I have to wrap my mind around the fallout is going to hurt people around me and I will probably get hurt indirectly if not directly.
      And the worst part: This whole thing was preventable. Now it has morphed into a huge deal that will take a long time to fix.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well. That got a way from me.

        The best thing I can say is cry if and when you need to cry.
        I tend to pull out some woo-woo stuff because I have to find some positive thought. Maybe we laid the ground work in some way so that someone else can pick up where we left off? OR maybe we get out just in time to save our own butts because that is all there is left to do?

        Or maybe call a friend. I think I will do that step.

        1. cubone*

          Oof. Thank you for this, new friend. You captured it all perfectly. I really can’t thank you enough for this – it means a lot to know I’m not alone in my immense sadness.

    2. pancakes*

      I haven’t had an experience quite like that and it sounds upsetting & unsettling. Best wishes for your job search!

      The situation isn’t quite analogous in various ways, but your description of your organization’s response reminded me of reading about Google contractors (who are over 50% of their workforce) learning about big changes to the company’s sexual harassment policy (an end to forced arbitration, etc.) from the press because they’d been excluded from the “all-hands” meeting announcing these things. Maybe it would be somewhat cathartic to read about other employers handling things badly or maybe it would be a depressing distraction, idk, but that one came to mind.

  44. MsChanandlerBong*

    I need advice on a delicate situation. One of my team members has an autoimmune disorder that can cause visual impairment. Obviously, we want to accommodate her in any way we can. We have offered to buy her a screen reader and something to block blue light from her screen, but she declined (she has mentioned that a screen reader would be helpful and that blue light bothers her eyes; we did not make these suggestions out of thin air with no input from her). The main issue is that her work frequently has mistakes in it, and when we try to provide feedback, she says she couldn’t see what she was doing when she was working on it. If we knew she was having trouble, we would do whatever we could to help–provide the files in a different format, enlarge the text, read the caption text on images and type it out for her in large type, etc. But she never mentions she has trouble until the work has been submitted and we are reviewing it. This is an issue in other areas as well. For example, we reminded her the other day that the style guide indicates we should do something a certain way, and she said, “Oh, well I tried to look it up, but the link didn’t work.” But she never said, “Hey, this link is broken. Can someone fix it, or at least send me a PDF copy of the style guide until it’s working?” I am not sure how to give feedback on this without making it sound like we’re annoyed that she can’t see; that is not the problem. The problem is not speaking up when something isn’t working so that we can make it right.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Take the disability out of your thinking and focus on how you would handle a similar situation with a person who did not have a disability:
      1. If there are tools available to assist doing the job correctly, but an employee were refusing those tools and as a result was doing the job wrong, what would you do? At the very least I assume you would sit down with the employee and have a discussion about the need to not make those mistakes and what needs to be done to ensure they stop.
      2. The need to speak up when there are problems (like the broken link).

      1. Twisted Lion*

        Well said. It sounds like you need to have a sit down and find out why she is making repeated mistakes and ask her what she needs to do her job accurately.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        You are right. If anyone else was not using required tools, I would talk to the person about the errors and come up with a way to prevent them.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      I have a coworker that pulls the, “Oh, I kind of tried to that but the such-and-such wasn’t working…” after he’s missed a deadline or someone else has had to step in and see why something isn’t happening. It’s so frustrating! His is more of a personality thing – he likes other people to make things easy for him.

      My boss and I were talking about it one day because it affects a lot of my work (and I don’t want to be my coworker’s babysitter). He asked me how I thought he should phrase it so my coworker would actually GET IT and see it as a problem that needs to be fixed. I spend more time around this coworker and I’ve gotten used to having to phrase things a certain way for his communication style.

      I told my boss something to the affect of, “Tell him he needs to take more agency over things that are his responsibility. He’s allowed to ask a coworker or his manager for assistance or guidance, but he can’t expect anyone to do things for him. I don’t mind helping him get the hang of something, I just don’t want him pushing the responsibility on me or anyone else. It makes me have to do double work to meet deadlines!”

      Phrase it her like you KNOW she doesn’t want to make more work for her coworkers by putting it on them to catch her mistakes. You know she has the ability to recognize when she needs some accommodation or assistance. People will be happy to help her, but she needs to be more proactive and help others not have to be so reactive. Hopefully it hits home a little more if you explain to her how it affects people around her.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Love your username! It’s my favorite Kevin Grisham book. :)

        The main issue, now that I think about it, is that she doesn’t accept critical feedback very well. Any time you try to deliver it, no matter how nice you are about it or how much you try to work together to come up with a solution, she gets very upset. The commenter above is right, though, I need to handle it just like I would handle it with any other employee. I also have a disability, so I probably worry a bit more than necessary sometimes about how things come across.

        1. Malarkey01*

          It can be really hard to deliver feedback when people don’t take it well. However once I accepted that it was fine if a someone was upset and I didn’t need to manage around that it got a lot easier. I’ve used phrases like “if you need a minute to catch your breath we can pick this back up in 30 minutes”, “I understand this is difficult for you to discuss but we need to find a solution”, and “my goal is to find a solution, can you help me with that”.

          I don’t want to think it’s a tactic, but in the past I’ve found people stop getting as upset and start approaching it more productively when they see that being upset isn’t going to derail the conversation. Whether it helps them reframe it or stop using it as a delay strategy, it helps.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      (Speaking from a disabled person viewpoint)

      The next time she messes up/makes a mistake have a talk with her and say that these errors can’t keep happening and ask her what needs to be done on her end and yours to resolve this.

      If she says ‘nothing, this is how I am’ then you have to say that the job is really dependent upon a certain quality of work and she’s not meeting it, so there needs to be either improvement or a rethink of her role at the firm (note: this doesn’t mean make up a new job for her, it’s just a way to impress that this isn’t acceptable on the long term).

      Having a disability means that one can expect a certain amount of help from the firm to enable you to do the work that able bodied people do. It doesn’t mean you get to refuse accommodations, make errors, have bad work output and just shrug it off.

      Basically it’s time for a chat with her to let her know this can’t continue. Either she needs to speak up about what she actually needs or improves her work some other way.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      Have you revisited the screenreader and other suggestions during the conversations where she’s saying she couldn’t read the document? If not, that would be my step 1. But at this point it sounds like it’s enough of a pattern to just raise it as such and ask her to help you find a solution.

      “Your work often has errors in it, and when we’ve talked about it you’ve said that it’s because you had trouble seeing the document. Would a sreen reader or sending you the file in a different format help fix that?” If she says no, move to brainstorming with her. Ask her what tools or processes she needs to be able to see the document well enough to spot errors. The Job Accommodation Network site might be a helpful resource for her and you.

      Others have mentioned that not speaking up when something isn’t working may be a personality trait. That pinged my radar too. It might be worth spending some time discussing the need to bring up roadblocks and problems as they arise, rather than ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away (obviously don’t start with that phrasing!). You can absolutely raise that concern, and it sounds like you have examples of it not related to her disability so that could be a good place to start if you’re concerned she would take it as related to her eyesight.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think your last sentence might be exactly what you need to say — “When things aren’t working for you, for whatever reason, we need you to make that known so that we can work with you to remedy the problem. We can’t solve problems we don’t know about, and when you keep problems under your hat, the outcome is work with errors and mistakes that should have been remedied earlier. You need to speak up about these issues so we can get them resolved.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding: “This is expected of everyone who works here. If something is not working correctly it needs to be reported. If you are having difficulty with something but you are pretty sure it’s working correctly, you still need to ask someone for help. That is what everyone else is doing and those rules apply to you also.”

        I have worked with people who are blind or near blind and I would expect to have to explain something like this. Basically you are explaining what normal behaviors are in your workplace. A person who does not see well or does not hear well misses a lot of this information. Some of it is because stuff like this is transmitted in casual conversation. A person whose hearing or sight is limited is also probably experiencing LESS of these casual conversations that are so vital to the job.

        I have a horrible story from years ago. A person who was deaf and had mobility issues never used the bathroom at work. Eight hour work day and no bathroom. No one even noticed or asked. The bathroom was on the second floor and this person could not access the second floor. The hearing loss was the impediment to many conversations that should have happened.

        You maybe able to bring in a counselor/advocate from an NPO which advocates for folks with low/no vision. This advocate may help you and her find ideas that actually work.

    6. VI Guy*

      Is the visual disability something new? She could be having trouble adjusting to her new situation. I was born with mine, and cope well, but I often hear from people that losing their sight is their biggest fear and they wouldn’t know how to cope.

      I agree with others that you shouldn’t let her disability cloud the fact that she has performance issues, but if the vision issues are new or frequently changing then it can be very stressful and she may not yet know how to cope. In which case you still need to address the problem, but I would suggest offering help in looking for solutions to her problem. My solution (and that of almost everyone I know with VI problems) is large text, zoom features, and lighting. Screen readers and different colours of light don’t help me. The best thing that ever happened to me was finding an optometrist who specialized in visual impairement, and they provided me with a few options that have really helped (I have a doctor’s note requesting a giant monitor and to dim the lighting over my desk).

  45. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Today on the list of Things I Wanted To Say But Didn’t:

    “Um, yes, of course I feel comfortable doing this project and that’s part of the work, what do you think I’ve been doing MY ENTIRE CAREER and what have I been asking you for more opportunities to do for the last two years?”

    “Thanks for the mansplain of the very thing I said ten minutes ago, complete with the specific examples I used. Love your listening skills.”

    “If this is supposed to be my project, why are you having meetings about it without me?”

    Sigh.

    1. Elenna*

      “Yes, the error is only in the file we don’t use. I said that in the first email I sent about it. Have we really been discussing this the whole day just because you missed that?”

      (My manager is great, and he’s home with teo small kids so I don’t really blame himfor missing some stuff. But it’s awkward when it makes him possibly think I didn’t check something basic…)

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I, too, worry that a misunderstanding might lead someone to believe I have dropped the ball. The other day, I asked one of my course instructors a question about what exhibits were appropriate to submit as part of my portfolio requirement. She sent me a checklist with several things highlighted, as if I did not read the instructions or did not understand them. But the thing is, the checklist she sent me is different from the checklist that is included in the course instructions. My checklist had five bullet points with vague categories. Hers had seven or eight bullets, plus specific examples from each category. Had her checklist been the checklist uploaded in the course files, I would not have had to ask her anything at all because it was very clear (the item I asked about was one of the specific examples, so it would clearly be acceptable). So then I worried that she will think I can’t read or that I am too lazy to look at the instructions myself!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Did you tell her that the document uploaded in the course materials is not the same as the one she sent you after you asked? “Oh, thank you, this is very informative. Just so you’re aware, the document available in the course materials at (link) is actually a different checklist than this one, and the one there doesn’t have near so many informative examples. Thanks again!”

    2. ThinMint*

      I feel you on the ‘meetings without me’ thing…

      Oh mine is ‘”You don’t know what you’re f-ing doing!” but I chose to drink a soda instead and then re-write my email.

    3. JessicaTate*

      Mine: “Thanks for wasting a ton of time, resources, and funding during an effing pandemic just to replicate all of the work that I spent 9 months completing, refining, and sharing with you; expecting praise for all of you hard work; and not doing the part of the project you were actually supposed to do.”

      “And hey, way to doggedly ignore what the client asked us to do, and doubling-down on your claim that’s not what the client wants despite the contract CLEARLY saying it is. What does it feel like to live a life with no accountability?”

    4. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Did you seriously just ask me to call you on a federal holiday because your daughter is sitting by one of her friends instead of four and is therefore in the depths of despair?

  46. AwkwardTurtle*

    How do I tell my boss about my mental health struggles due to the pandemic, the season changing, and my continual struggle with bipolar depression ii? I’m already working less hours due to funding but it’s not the type work that I originally signed up for. My two probable solutions are 1) take more sick days as mental health days or 2) move to another part of the country where my family is for support (and more sunshine) and do remote work there instead of my current location.

    I’m already anticipating a ‘no’ as the answer because my contract ends beginning of next year and I’ve previously asked for remote work out of state and that didn’t pan out. Should I even try?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Part of the problem maybe dealing with various states’ tax laws. If you are living in another state from your employer they have to jump through hoops to keep you on payroll. It’s really ridiculous.

    2. Anono-me*

      Maybe a combination of both. If you have sick days in your contract ends at the beginning of next year and you need to take more time off for your health, you should definitely use your sick days. With the contract ending the beginning of next year you definitely need to look for a new contract or job (unless you’re independently wealthy) maybe job search most aggressively where your family and the sunshine are located.
      ( I would be skeptical that your current employer would want to deal with the taxes and the logistics of having you in a new state for a month and a half or so at the end of your contract.)
      Good luck with everything.

  47. MechanicalPencil*

    I’m working on my EOY self eval. I’ve asked for nearly a year about why I’m working as a llama inspector when I was hired as a llama groomer. Am I out of line to bring up that I’ve been doing a job that I wasn’t hired for (and getting underpaid for) in my eval? I’ve brought this up multiple times with my manager, who’s supposedly been “working on it”.

    1. theoptimist*

      you’re not out of line. Allison has addressed a similar situation on here before. do a quick search

  48. JohannaCabal*

    Same. I did a freelance gig for four years that I kept in an “Other experience” section of my resume.

    This section went after my main “Work Experience” section.

    I also only included it if it was relevant to the position I was applying for. If I felt it wasn’t relevant or could even potentially hurt me somehow, I kept it off.

  49. Alice*

    I just want to say thank you to all the people out there who taking safety precautions while working in person, to all the organizations out there providing good PPE, and to all the people who are working remotely in less-than-ideal conditions rather than coming in to shared spaces without a real necessity.

  50. Mary*

    Does anyone have advice on how to mentally move on from a previous toxic workplace? My awful, awful former managers left that workplace 2 years ago and I quit at the beginning of March. I love my current boss and company but I still get thinking about how much gaslighting and rudeness I experienced from my former managers.

    I’ve read the AskAManager article on it (https://www.askamanager.org/2014/11/are-you-haunted-by-your-last-bad-job.html), but I still keep thinking about how nasty they were to me, and the article this past week about the recruiter berating the OP brought up a ton of memories and I’m having trouble letting it go.

    1. cubone*

      I know this might not be possible but…. therapy. It really, really helps to debrief this with a professional and unpack how it’s impacted your coping mechanisms and responses to things. If it’s not an option for you, I find what helps me is to be really direct and kind with myself about the impact. Eg. when I find myself remembering my old boss’ lack of direction and emotional manipulation, I try to investigate it beyond just anger/hurt and think to myself: “her manipulating me by using things I care about as dangling carrots really hurt because I was so eager for those professional development opportunities, and want to look for the best in everyone – it made me feel like my kindness was exploited and I’m mad that it’s left me feeling less trusting, because being kind and trusting are important values for me.” It sounds heckin’ cheesy, but I just try to think it through with a degree of distance, self-compassion and acceptance.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      As cliche as it sounds: time, distance and outside help.

      I can’t claim I’ve totally moved on from a previous firm’s actions because I still shake/feel sick/panic when I remember it all but the incidences are reducing. Here’s what helped me:

      1. Giving myself ‘permission’ to feel like crap about it. Not bottling it up. Telling myself it would get less painful with time and it’s okay to have bad moments, it doesn’t mean I’m weak or have failed.

      2. Distance: I cut all contact with that toxic firm and the people in it. No seeing FB posts of other people’s rants about how badly they were being treated too. I have stayed friends with one person who left just after I did but upon common agreement we don’t mention the firm. (This one may not be suitable for all)

      3. Professional help. When I realised I was having the same kind of horrible PTSD symptoms I got after a near fatal car crash every time I thought back on that firm I spoke to my GP who got me psychiatric help on the NHS. It took several attempts at different therapies (I do not respond well to CBT for example) before we found what worked so a certain pigheaded stubbornness got me through that.

      It’s been 5 years and it’s mostly faded to anger over how they treated me and a strong desire to never ever take that abuse again.

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Does your current company offer any therapy or counseling through their EAP? It may be worth checking out.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Once we get to safety emotions can run even higher.

      Feel the feeling and then remind yourself that you are safe now.

      You might try journaling.
      You might try writing a long letter to the company and then burning it. (I have one here that I writing to my former church. I am putting lotsa thought into it.)
      Oddly, read some books on toxic people and toxic workplaces. Get outside your normal thinking, find new ideas to think about. Knowledge is power. We can take back some of our power by taking the time to teach ourselves new things.

      Read AAM daily. Seriously. Not only is it easy to do, but you will find parts of yourself.

      Last. Promise yourself if this ever happens again, you will get yourself out much quicker. Yes, making this promise to your own self matters. This will help.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      My sympathies.

      I still have the occasional thought along the lines of “what I should have said” about a horrible ex-boss. I just remind myself that I’m out of there; my next job paid 75% more; and the bank regulators got him. Oh, and my blood pressure went down thirty points without him in my life.

      He had the incredible effrontery to ask me for a recommendation on LinkedIn a couple of years afterwards. I took the high road and did NOT write an honest review, just did not respond.

    6. Snark no more!*

      In addition to the great advice given above, I have found it helpful to write it down. Hand-written, if you’re able. The act of writing, for me, helps to get the thoughts out of my head. I try to use objective language about what happened with each incident and then reflect to see if I can put into words why it made me feel the way I felt or why it was wrong to be treated a certain way. If you’d like, you could even burn it when you’re done.

  51. Half-Caf Latte*

    Every year we (my enormous department, over 200 managers and thousands of staffers) get an email from an admin assistant announcing the “holiday” drive.

    The same clip art santa, candy cane, and charlie brown tree adorn the message. “Holiday” and “holiday season” are written in quotes and in red and green fonts.

    It. Grinds. My. Gears.

    We have a new diversity office that was established in response to the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. Part of me wants to forward this message to them, and part of me thinks they have bigger fish to fry and will find me petty. What does everyone think?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      It isn’t clear from your post what you are upset about. Could you specify what is grinding your gears and why you think it is a diversity issue? That way we can better comment.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        PS. I’m not Christian, so if it is that this is too Christmassy, eh — maybe so, but not so much as I would make a fuss about it.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I am not Half-Caf, but I would bet that it’s the “lip service” to inclusivity while clearly using a Christmas motif. Like, don’t try to be sensitive to people who don’t celebrate by switching to “holiday” instead of “Christmas” and then use a Christmas tree in your messaging. That would irritate me too, and I would say something, but I wouldn’t make it a “thing.” I guess it depends on how much you know the people involved.

        I say this as someone Jewish who performs in a Christmas concert every year, it’s billed as a “Christmas concert” and as such, we don’t need to do a token Chanukah song and I am perfectly cool with that.

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          Yeah, it’s this. In particular the “holiday” in quotes throughout the whole message – it comes across as signaling I really mean Christmas to me.

          It’s a gift drive, the gifts are going to a nominally Christian organization, and that’s fine they’re a local org that serves our population but it’s the holiday and imagery that bug me.

          I’ve never met this admin, not at all in her reporting structure, and with COVID won’t meet for some time, so probably not able to escalate.

          1. WellRed*

            Lots of people use quotation marks to emphasize something (incorrectly) so I wouldn’t assume they are doing the print version of air quotes, they just aren’t good at grammar (I mean, you might be totally right, but you’ll probably never know).
            I think the overall picture/theme could be worth addressing. I see why it bugs you. It bugs me.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      I think it could be worth mentioning in a ‘holiday does not mean secular christmas’ sort of way? But I wouldn’t bring it up to the diversity team until / unless you mentioned it to the authors of the admin assistant and got pushback or a refusal to change it up. Also – if you do bring it up with the admin, be prepared to offer examples of actually neutral or multicultural holiday visuals. There are a surprising amount of people who consider a pine tree with a star on top as a ‘neutral holiday visual’.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I actually think with something like this it’s fine to go straight to the diversity team. They’re equipped to handle it. And the OP isn’t saying “this person sucks,” she’s saying “hey, here’s a thing that needs some attention; can we do this differently next time?”

    3. Darlingpants*

      We got a “holiday” card last year where the file was labeled “Christmas Card.” I think it’s worth taking to the diversity issue. If they’re screwing up things that should be this simple then no one is going to trust them to tackle anything harder!

    4. Qwerty*

      Are you in a headspace where you can phrase it nicely and as a lower-priority issue? Forwarding it to the committee with a short “Hey, could we look into making this more generic next year rather Christmas-specific?” with an offer to be part of that process would probably be effective. It flags it as something that should be fixed but not in an urgent manner (since the annual email has already gone out).

      Also keep in mind that maybe next year you’ll want to reach out again in Sept/Oct and ask if you can help with it again, since they will have likely forgotten. The holiday season tends to sneak up on us.

      1. CTT*

        Really seconding that last point. The fact that it’s the same clip art every year makes me think that this is partially an “oh crap, nobody came up with a new design, let’s just use last year’s message,” situation. Which isn’t an excuse (a Charlie Brown tree is definitely not secular!), but it sounds like no thought has been going into this for a while.

    5. I edit everything*

      In the US, at least, the line between cultural Christmas celebrations–bells, trees, Santa, twinkly lights–and religious Christmas celebrations has become so blurry that it’s hard to say that most of the trappings that start going up have any religious context at all.

      I mean, most of those “true meaning of Christmas” Hallmark movies are about kindness and community and generosity and the terrible lives people lead in big cities and high-powered careers, and less about Jesus and shepherds and Mary and angels.

      It might be nice to have symbols of other seasonal holidays, but would that really change much?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        We have this discussion every single year on this site (and it’s tiresome every year), and I will say this: we’re not talking about symbols of other holidays, we’re talking about making it more neutral. Silver is a great color and a Christmas tree is still a Christmas tree.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, thank you. (Maybe we ban that entirely this year? I don’t know, it’s probably useful for people who haven’t read the discussion in years past but ugh every year.)

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Maybe split the difference and post some links to past discussions? And turn off the comments because otherwise we’ll just go through the whole thing again.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I don’t know how successful you’d be, given the frequency of “is this off-site article behind a paywall for anyone else?” and “OMG the US maternity leave/health care system/PTO system is terrible” type commentary. Even if you do make a post banning it, people will miss it. (Not to say it’s not worth trying, but … magic eight ball says outlook is dim.)

          3. LDF*

            Maybe link to it once then ban? It’s something I dread every year, not just on AAM of course but in general. Today marks the first time in 2020 I saw “actually xmas isn’t a religious holiday” and I’m already over it.

      2. Observer*

        This is exactly the reason @Half-Caf Latte should go to the diversity team. If they are competent they will understand that your argument that “It’s not REALLY religious” doesn’t cut it.

    6. Analyst Editor*

      In itself it is a minor thing, bordering on petty, and would probably be equally tiresome and frustrating to your colleagues if you brought it up.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t know, if I were potentially guilty of not thinking something like that through, I would want to know. I wouldn’t attribute malice, just lack of thought.

      2. Observer*

        Have you ever heard of the term micro-aggression? I suggest you google it. The concept is valuable, as it speaks to the problem of PATTERNS of seeming minor issues.

        If you are not the target of the seemingly “minor” slight, perhaps you have better step back and be actually willing to listen.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m shocked at the responses here, to be honest. The scare quotes around “Holiday” and “holiday season” are passive-aggressive war-on-Christmas dogwhistles. Especially when combined with the red-and-green holiday imagery.

      I don’t know if this is worth escalating or not, but @Half-Caf, you are not at all petty or ridiculous to see this for exactly what it is.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        yeah, even if 100% not intended that way (because some people are just terrible abusers of punctuation and quotation marks especially), it reads that way, and they have an interest in hearing that it reads that way.

        1. WellRed*

          Thanks, Alison. I commented above about the quotation marks possibly being poor grammar but I certainly don’t mean to say it’s OK or that I am making excuses.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, and if it turns out that it is indeed intended that way, that’s also some useful info to have. People who don’t understand why the scare quotes undermine the idea of inclusivity in the message shouldn’t be in charge of designing or sending the year-end cards. People who use the quotes to intentionally undermine the inclusivity message should definitely not be in charge of sending them…

          Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to run this past the inclusivity committee and ask them what they think, and if appropriate, let them escalate the matter?

      2. pancakes*

        It may or may not be intentional, but I think this is fine to escalate. It’s a routine internal communication that goes to hundreds of people and, at best, doesn’t seem to be put together with much care. I don’t think it’s necessary to receive yet another one of these emails to raise the issue, either, if they’ve been the same for years. Half-Caf could approach the diversity committee this week along the lines of, “I’m hoping we can establish better practices around internal messaging this time of year, which in the past has tended to be very Christmas-centric.”

    8. Generic Name*

      I am on the D&I committee at my company and I personally would welcome hearing about this. A big issue that many D&I initiatives might encounter is convincing some people that just because THEY don’t think something is offensive/doesn’t bother them, doesn’t mean that NOBODY is (or gets to be) offended by/bothered by something. This offends and bothers you (and many others), so it’s worth it to point that out.

    9. Dash it, Emily*

      I think you would be doing your organization a favor by taking this to the diversity office.

      Systemic racism is indeed a big fish and it’s reasonable that a lot of energy is put toward that issue by various DEI offices/teams/committees, but that doesn’t mean that things like religion, national origin, age, and physical or other abilities are any less important to consider when talking about DEI practices. As a member of a DEI committee myself, I would love to have other voices supporting this belief since it’s hard to alone pull those other topics onto the table.

  52. voluptuousfire*

    I’ve been looking for a new job casually for the past year but have ramped it up in the past few months. I’m starting to get more traction with interviews and I honestly forgot how much interviewing can stink. So far I’ve had:

    1. Two roles cancel interviews with me because they hired someone or had enough people in final rounds (in this case it was 8 (!) people). These two roles were all closed out in a matter of 5 days, including the weekend.
    2. Got closed out after a second interview, which ended up being a bullet dodged. Very nice people but just not enthusiastic about the company. Very disappointing as far as the candidate experience goes.
    3. Talking to the recruiter and the role turning out to go in a different direction than you expected. The job description was vague and turned out to focus on the bit I didn’t want to do.
    4. Call with a recruiter for a role that would be a great fit. The call was super awkward since the recruiter had me on speakerphone, my phone connection wasn’t the best and she read about the company culture from a sheet, not actually off the cuff. She also kept inserting my name into the conversation, like trying to make sure I was paying attention. Very awkward and odd. Was not a two-way convo.
    5. Call with a recruiter today for a role that’s a great fit. The company fit is great too. We’re vibing and a good convo is flowing. The kicker–role isn’t necessarily available yet. Headcount is still being solidified and won’t know for another two weeks or so.

    :sigh: I had hopes of an offer by Thanksgiving (or at least final rounds). Just gotta keep chugging along.

    1. I edit everything*

      Hang in there! I think job hunting is the worst. One thing I’ve found helpful is to find something to do that gives you solid, tangible results within a set period of time. So you feel like you’re accomplishing something satisfying. During my last job hunt, I started baking my family’s bread (in part to save money–grocery store bread is expensive!). It was a thing I could do and actually see progress and enjoy the results of. Warm bread with butter and honey banishes the bad taste even the worst interview can leave you with.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        I’d like to do that but my oven sucks and I don’t have the counter space for a bread maker or to knead the dough.

        I’m thinking about a toaster oven, though! One big enough to stick in a frozen pizza or roast a chicken in.

        That’s another topic I’ll ask about in the open thread tomorrow. :)

    2. Dancing Otter*

      Re the name usage in #4, that may not have been her intent. Maybe she’s reminding herself with whom she’s talking.
      When I meet someone new, I repeat their name several times in the conversation to try to drive it into long term memory before I have time to forget it. You’re making me wonder if I’m annoying people by doing that.

  53. I edit everything*

    I am working on getting a real website for my freelancing services set up, with a proper [Iediteverything].com domain name, rather than a free WordPress site. As I do this, I’m thinking about shifting my work email address from a gmail address to an [iediteverything].com email address OR conversely an [iediteverything]@gmail address, if it’s available. (The current email address I use is just my full name @gmail)

    Any other freelancers have thoughts about email addresses, whether a private domain name looks more professional, the difficulties of updating contact information with current clients, etc.? I’m not thrilled with my current setup, because there’s a lot of overlap between personal and private in my inbox (I do have a separate email address for non-work stuff, but the line has blurred over the years).

    What are others’ thoughts, practices on email addresses for freelancers? What’s professional, and what do you do, if you’re a solo freelancer? Thanks.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I use a gmail address for freelancing that’s Myinitials.Writes at gmail, because MyRealName dot com is for my fiction.

      If I were going to change it, I’d send a notice to active clients, set up an autoforward with an autoreply about the change, and put a reminder in my signature.

      1. I edit everything*

        My current freebie, not-a-real-domain-name website doubles as an “I’m an editor” site and an “I’m a writer” site. But given the lack of writing over the last few years, I don’t see much point in keeping up that part of my web presence. I can always add something on later, if it becomes relevant.

        How much of your professional life is freelancing, and how much your fiction, if I may ask? Freelance editor is my primary occupation, so I feel like that email address ought to be something that people will see as professional and authoritative.

        1. RagingADHD*

          My freelancing creates more current income, but the fiction I actually market. I need good real estate (my name domain) for marketing purposes so my books are easy to find.

          I do not generally market my freelancing at all, and none of my freelancing clients found me or hired me because of my website or email address. They hired me because of my personal network or my direct application with samples. So I just host my supplemental portfolio on a subdomain of my site (freelancing dot MyRealName dot com).

          Other people have different business models and marketing plans. It makes sense to optimize the site that you intend to market.

    2. Nela*

      I’m a branding snob so I look down on companies and freelancers that use a Gmail address. To me it’s like having a free Wix site. I urge all my clients to switch to a [customdomain].com email and print that on their business cards. Gmail addresses on letterheads and business cards don’t give off a professional impression.

      You can add additional email accounts to your existing Gmail inbox if you want to have it all in one place and use labels to filter them. I do that for several custom addresses (the maximum is 5).
      About a year ago I set up a separate G Suite account for work email, and separating my work from non-work inboxes has been completely transformative. I’m able to keep my work inbox at zero at all times, and I don’t check it outside of my work hours. All personal correspondence, newsletters, receipts, notifications, and other junk is on my personal Gmail which is a bit of a mess despite my best efforts at organizing it.

      When clients write to my personal address, I simply reply from my work address. I do this every time, and eventually people catch on. Since you have a separate Gmail inbox already, you can keep using it with your custom address tacked on, and set as the default “Send mail as” address, or you can use another email app and automatically forward all messages from Gmail to your new address.

    3. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

      Hey solo freelancer here. I have a separate Gmail account (handle is an @gmail) for my freelance work and it’s linked to my portfolio site. I can’t speak to the piece about migrating contacts, but I imagine this might be something Gmail will easily allow you to do between accounts.

      In my field, I’ve seen a mix of the standard @gmail and the @[domain].com (usually provided by a host like Squarespace). I wouldn’t say one option is any more, or less, professional than the other, especially for soloists, but it can depend on your line of work. Now, if you’re running, or plan to grow into a small business with other folks working for or with you, then I’d say go for the dot com.

    4. Observer*

      Get your domain and put your email @iediteverything.com Send out a mailing to all of your business contacts.

      You could additionally have your personal email autoforward business emails to the new address for a few moths, but ALWAYS answer from the new address.

    5. Generic Name*

      As a potential client or customer, I think a private domain name looks more professional. It says you’ve spent the time and money to set things up professionally, and that you are technically savvy. I’m a consultant, and if I ever put out my own shingle, I would absolutely get my own domain name.

      1. pancakes*

        I tend to agree, and want to add that you can keep using WordPress on the back end if you find it easy or convenient to work with. I used to have a WordPress blog and have used it with and without a private domain name.

    6. Lore*

      As someone who hires a lot of freelancers, my only concerns about their email addresses are that they respond to emails promptly and the address isn’t so generic as to be unrecognizable. (And ideally comes from a domain that won’t disappear into my spam filter, though I still can’t figure out its logic.) Once someone is in my roster, I’m going to be going to our internal database, not their website, to look for info on them anyway.

  54. newbieMD*

    This happened on Halloween, but I forgot to post it in last week’s thread!
    I’m an Orthopedic Surgery resident and there’s a new-ish intern on our service who’s a little…..out there. So, on Halloween, we were encouraged to wear a simple costume when we were rounding. Think, cowboy hat or witch hat or something along those lines.

    This intern showed up in a lab coat that said (wait for it) “Dr. Seymour Busch, Gynecology”

    Our attending told him he had to take off the lab coat because he didn’t want patients to be confused about seeing a doctor in their room with a coat that says Gynecology. Not a peep about the Seymour Busch part.

    It was actually pretty funny, though, albeit in poor taste!

    1. I edit everything*

      I…don’t actually find that particularly funny.

      Let’s joke about taking advantage of women when they’re at they’re most vulnerable–woo hoo, so fun. /s

            1. Emi*

              I think they’re actually salty because they and the intern are already doctors (albeit still in training and under more or less supervision). Which makes it even pettier.

          1. Generic Name*

            So you’re a current physician who laughs at the idea of women’s bodies being ogled or groped without their consent. Got it.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          Agreed. “Jokes” about genitals and crass slang surrounding them have no place in a professional workplace, especially in client (in this case, patient) facing roles. It’s not funny at all, just gross and inappropriate.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, it’s tough enough going to the gynecologist as it is. Making jokes that might discourage this is obnoxious at least and actually may cost lives (women who don’t go because of jerky stuff like this and could have been saved if stuff was caught earlier).

        1. allathian*

          This is one reason why I won’t go to a male gynecologist barring an emergency. I had a male ob/gyn attending me when there were complications as I was giving birth (in my area, ordinary births are usually handled by midwives, doctors are only brought in when needed) and I wouldn’t have cared if the ob/gyn was female, male, non-binary, or alien, just as long as I and my baby got the help we needed.

          Going to the gyn is uncomfortable enough as it is, I don’t need that discomfort compounded by anything. Sure, men who look at female genitalia all day at work aren’t going to be aroused by them when they’re in professional mode (unless they’re sickos), but I just can’t. I’ve heard from friends that their experiences with male gynecologists have been positive and that they’re usually very gentle, but it’s just something that I can’t deal with personally.

          The joke was definitely inappropriate and the person who made it should be written up.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah, that’s a joke in pretty bad taste.

        Would it be a joke I’d probably make to my husband? Yup, because I am very familiar with the parties involved, and it’s a private (heh) joke.

        100% not an appropriate joke for an office, but 1000% not a joke to make in a medical office, and 10000% not a joke to make *in a patient-facing role*.

      1. newbieMD*

        I’m a female MD as well. You don’t think it would be funny in another non-work situation such as a Halloween party? I mean, you know we joke AMONGST OURSELVES about some things that a non-physician would be aghast at.

        1. Not A Manager*

          “See more bush?” No, it would be stupid in any environment. Unless he’s Doogie Howser, he’s too old for that joke.

        2. Me*

          It wasn’t a private joke. It was meant to be seen by patients. You’re being resoundingly told this was not funny and in poor taste and your only take away is to be defensive?

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            +100

            It’s specifically said that this was during rounds. That means the joke is no longer amongst yourselves – it’s clearly meant to be seen by patients. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s funny among friends. What matters here is that this is *being seen by patients*, which is a completely different realm.

        3. SGP*

          I’m a research scientist, so I’m adjacent to medicine and work with MDs frequently. No, this kind of “humor” is never appropriate. It’s not typical gallows humor (that researchers like me also enjoy); it’s sexual and demeaning. It’s not appropriate in private, and this wasn’t in private so your question is moot anyway.

          I’m really dismayed at your response here. Any MD I know would be horrified by this and I hope you do the work to figure out why you’re reacting like this and rectify it. Your patients deserve better.

      2. JO*

        RN from a woman’s prison here. I don’t like it either, especially since he wore that in a patient facing setting. It’s hard enough opening up a dialogue with people over gynecological issues. Things like that make it even harder.

    2. Ana*

      Shame he wasn’t really called out on the joke. You might want to read up on some of the ethical issues still plaguing gynecology in the US today… Not to get into a big argument, but for example, in most states, it’s still legal for medical students to practice pelvic exams on unconsenting, uninformed women who are unconscious. Many (certainly not all, but a good number of them) gynecologists don’t actually respect our bodies and these kinds of jokes remind us of that.

    3. LDF*

      If I was somewhere getting medical treatment and saw that on a staff member, I’d never come back. Whether or not you think that’s an extreme reaction, that’s the truth and I bet I’m not the only one.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Strong agreement here. I remember in college two premed student (both male) were talking to each other and made similar remarks. I got up and left the room. Had they been doctors I would have definitely reported it, even though in those days probably no one would have listened.

        Here is a person who has absolutely ZERO understanding of what his job is. If he had an ounce of understanding he never would have carried out that idea.

        There’s a story of a librarian who threw out historical papers because they did not know what to do with them. Again, another person who has absolutely no clue about what their job actually is.

        Some times you just need to see something once and that is everything you need to know.

      2. allathian*

        Yup. Me too. And I’d report the org to the appropriate authority for not putting a stop to this immediately.

  55. Modest Anony Mouse*

    Does anyone have experience working with academic publishers? We submitted our manuscript almost 3 years ago and it still hasn’t been published. We can go up to 6 months in between hearing from our editor. Her supervisor isn’t responsive either. Things got so bad we had to reach out to them via Twitter because email wasn’t getting any response. Then, when we do hear from them, it’s “Oh here is this super time sensitive task we need back from you right away!” When we complete said task, we get another 6 months of silence.

    1. I edit everything*

      I have worked for a couple prestigious university presses (internship and employee). Three years is a very long lead time, unless your book is extremely long and complicated (like a multivolume, highly-specialized, all-encompassing reference work of some sort). We’d plan three years from approval through publication, and approval usually happened well before the MS was complete.

      Check your contract and see if there’s any timeframe included. It’s possible you might be able to retract your MS and submit elsewhere, though I know that’s a huge decision. Also, which editor are you not hearing from? Is this the editor who signed your book, or a secondary editor (doing line edits, copy edits, etc.)? Have you tried a phone call to your acquiring editor?

      Publishing is very schedule-driven, so either they’re blowing through deadline after deadline and are well-aware of the delay, or they’ve scheduled it to take this long. See if you can figure out which it is. You’ll have more recourse if they’re blowing deadlines.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      Is this for a journal or a book? Either way, your research findings are obsolescing in three years. I’ve published a book with a university press, as well as articles in several different peer-reviewed journals (but all in the same field), and while hearing back at 6 month intervals sounds reasonable, 3 years sounds so strange! The book didn’t take three years either, but it was much shorter.

    3. Weegie*

      I used to work for academic presses, and complete manuscripts were generally allocated to a copy editor within a month of submission, unless there was a quality issue – in which case it would go back to the authors for amendment. Once it was with the copy editor, editing would usually be completed within a month or so (depending on the length of the volume) then it would go to design and proofreading, with similar deadlines.

      I did know of a scholarly author whose book went into a two-year black hole at a small academic press, and he could get no answers at all. It was run on a shoestring, and the speculation was that it had run into financial difficulty, or the owners were prioritising other work. I any case, he had to threaten legal action to get his manuscript back – he succeeded, and submitted it to a different publisher.

  56. Kodamasa*

    I have a tricky hiring thing I wanted to get some input in. I interviewed a candidate recently who I didn’t hire because they walked in waving all sorts of red flags. But in addition to those red flags, he was recently arrived from a country that does not generally encourage women to be in positions of authority. I know I can’t take race, ethnicity, country of origin, etc into account when hiring, but as a female supervisor, it still worries me. I know it’s possible he’s perfectly okay with it, but it’s also a distinct possibility he’s not, and possibly at a higher rate than those not from his country.

    I’m sure Alison would say the best way to address it would be to ask a question about working for a female supervisor, but any question I ask to one candidate I have to ask to all of them, and it’s not something I knew about ahead of time to add to my questions list, and it would be a question my supervisor would definitely raise an eyebrow to and probably ask me to remove.

    What’s y’all’s take on this? Is it acceptable to be worried about this sort of thing? How would you navigate it?

    1. HannahS*

      As you’ve said, you can’t take it into account when making hiring decisions, so you can’t take it into account when making hiring decisions. Once you’ve hired someone, if you see behaviour that suggests that this individual person has a problem being managed by a woman, you address it.

    2. Modest Anony Mouse*

      How familiar are you with this other country? Unless you’re very, very familiar and are basing your assumption on your own experiences, it sounds like you’ve absorbed a racist stereotype that I would strongly suggest you question.

      I am a woman and I work in an industry with a lot of immigrants, many from countries that would be stereotyped as extra patriarchal. Those folks have not been my problem. The most condescending, sexist interactions I’ve had? A coworker from Europe. The second most? A white guy from the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think anyone would have paused at an interview and said, “I wonder if this European guy is okay with women in positions of power.”

      That’s not to say you should have hired this guy. If there were a lot of red flags, you were right not to. But his country of origin should not be a red flag.

      1. Nela*

        “Europe” is not a single culture, we are quite diverse and not all countries are equally progressive.

        1. Tiny Kong*

          That is not the point of the story…

          The point is that sexism exists everywhere and you can’t conclude how sexist someone is from their place of origin.

      2. Michaela*

        It also depends on age and how long they’ve been in the country, and doesn’t take into account individual differences.

        However, interacting enough with people of certain backgrounds, I expect a higher than average incidence of sexism based on experiences. It’s the same reason why I’d never visit their country of origin, and you can call me racist or culturally insensitive all you want, but I value my personal safety over value signalling. Look at what happened in Dubai last month where they gave gynaecological examinations to women on 10 different flights, some who were only transiting, to figure out if they just gave birth.

        1. Tiny Kong*

          You just can’t conclude the level of sexism in an individual based on their culture or country of origin.

          After all, the USA just elected its first woman to the VP role, and has yet to have a woman serve as head of state. Should we conclude that Americans are therefore likely to be sexist? That would be strange, right?

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      It is not acceptable to make assumptions about people based on their nation of origin. Period. If the person is going to have problems, usually they will show that in the interview such as by ignoring questions, talking over the interviewer, displaying arrogance or dismissiveness etc — in which case they would be out but not because of WHO they are but because of their specific behavior. But deciding based solely on the person’s nationality (or religion or whatever) that they “might” have a problem and treating them differently because of that is discrimination.

    4. Littorally*

      You can’t take nationality etc into account means you can’t take nationality etc into account. Not even in sneaky roundabout ways. The rigid hiring format of not being able to ask individualized questions to candidates is rotten for a number of reasons, but to be honest, it sounds like it’s saving you from a misstep in this case.

    5. Zephy*

      It sounds like the potential sexism is something you’re concerned about apart from the other red flags, am I reading it correctly? I think declining to hire someone based on assumptions about their country of origin is…well, problematic at best, possibly illegal at worst?

      Obviously this particular guy gave you plenty of other reasons not to hire him. But if you had a less-problematic candidate from the same country that you did choose to hire, I would assume positive intent and address the sexism if it comes up while on the job. Refusing to take direction from a supervisor is insubordination, which your company probably has policies for handling – it doesn’t matter why he doesn’t want to listen to Jane.

    6. Kodamasa*

      Thank you everyone. I think I suspected it was internalized stereotypes and I wasn’t willing to admit it. Maybe it was because some of the red flags did definitely suggest problems with authority, but didn’t actually point to problems with female authority, especially since the nation of origin thing didn’t come up until very late in the interview. I was probably looking for explanations that weren’t there and using stereotypes to do it. But definitely stereotypes and I’m going to look hard at that. Thanks for putting me in my place!

    7. tangerineRose*

      “ask a question about working for a female supervisor” Why would your manager ask you to remove this question if you added it? Seems like there are issues with this from people regardless of where they’re from.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Because it presumes that all applicants are biased against female supervisors and think it’s unusual to have one.

        Which is a very strange assumption to make, most of the time.

    8. Schmitt*

      I handle this by having a male interviewer with me as well. If the interviewee answers the questions *I* ask while addressing the dude, well.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      I once held a round of interviews with one of the questions being about a time you had to collaborate with someone you found difficult to work with. Several candidates eliminated themselves by saying they had to work with a woman/POC/member of a religion they disagreed with but were able to just take the lead and get it done! (Uh, I told you the question was about teamwork, why would you think “steamroller” was a good answer regardless?)

    10. Nita*

      I’m confused. Are you saying that you’re considering hiring this guy despite the red flags, and his country of origin is the only thing stopping you?

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I’d navigate it by what I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. People are on their best behavior during interviews. It is assumable that they will not improve because they become employees. Interview them as you would any other person. Expect the same appropriate behaviors that you expect out of ALL employees at your company.

      It might be helpful to look at posts here where the OP (female) writes into say a male candidate spoke AROUND her to another male employee in the room with the OP. Meanwhile, OP is The Boss.

    12. Jessie*

      I come from a country which is very patriarchal. But it’s normal to have women in positions of authority here and very normal for men to work for them. It’s not what you think at all. Stereotypes are just stereotypes.

      1. pancakes*

        Good point. There are many countries considered patriarchal by people in the US in particular that had women presidents and premiers decades ago, while we still haven’t. Pakistan had a woman PM in the 1980s.

  57. Zephy*

    So, my husband got accepted to the radiography tech program he applied for (yay!). It starts in January and goes for two years (six semesters, spring-summer-fall-spring-summer-fall), so he’ll be graduating December 2022. My boss knew he was going for rad tech and asked me if he got in, which sort of forced my hand into talking about my long-term plans. I want to stay where I am until he gets hired somewhere, then we’ll go where the job is. So I’m committed to this place for the next 2 years at least, plus however long it takes him to get licensed and find a job. I don’t expect that to be difficult, there’s huge need for imaging services now and I’m sure there still will be two years from now. I was open with my boss about us not restricting his job search to this area, so I guess I basically gave my two-years’ notice? I mean, she doesn’t want me to leave so I’m not worried about being pushed out early (and she knows I’m the breadwinner right now, for whatever that’s worth), but I’m definitely not going to be here for 10 years like some of my colleagues. Even so, that would still be 4.5-5 years in this position, and that ain’t nothing.

    I guess it’s a little early to be thinking seriously about it, but I’m a planner, so: any tips for trailing spouses? Interstate moves with cats? Trying to get a job before moving to a place, because you need the job before you move?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Any chance your position can evolve into a remote one over the coming 24 months?

      1. Zephy*

        Probably not, unfortunately – they let us go remote for COVID but dragged us back to the office basically as soon as the governor said they could. I work for butts-in-seats, computers-are-scary, face-to-face-is-always-best dinosaurs, so I’m not super optimistic about them changing their stance on remote work for my department anytime soon. But, who knows, maybe it’ll be different 18 months from now. I’ll keep the option in mind.

        The program is local, at least, so I’m perfectly able to stay put and continue business as usual for the next 24 months, that’s not a problem.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I’m thinking if your boss wants to keep you, and it sounds like she does, that she may be wanting to go to bat on the remote front for that over those 24 months to make remote a possibility. That might just be wishful thinking on my part, though.

          1. Zephy*

            I mean, she might. But I think I’ll also be ready to move on at that point, too. I didn’t come out and say that directly, though I think she might have caught a whiff of what I meant when I said we wouldn’t necessarily restrict the job search to around here. It’s a good little ways off, anyway – and as I edit everything pointed out, a lot can change in 24 months.

            1. allathian*

              Indeed. It’s entirely possible that the economy has changed permanently to deal with much of the world being in lockdown at any one time. I’m a pessimist and I don’t think COVID will be over in December 2022. We’ll have learned to live with it one way or another, but I honestly don’t think things will ever go back to what they were in 2019.

    2. I edit everything*

      I’m suuuuuper superstitious about planning. Things I plan for too far in advance don’t happen, so my best advice is to stay in the present for at least the next year. So much can happen in two years’ time, especially these days.

      1. Zephy*

        You’re so right about that – there’s too many variables right now to make any real concrete plans. I don’t want to leave where I’m at until my husband has a job, first of all, and there’s no guarantee he’ll manage to turn around and get hired immediately upon graduating. I guess I’m just excited. Thanks for the reality check, lol :)

  58. Mary*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to mentally move on from a toxic workplace? My awful, awful former managers left that workplace two years ago, and I quit at the beginning of March. I love my current boss and company, but I keep thinking about all the gaslighting and rudeness I experienced from these two managers and honestly their flying monkeys as well.

    I’ve read the are you haunted by your last job post on here, but wanted to see if anyone had any advice on their experience with how to stop reliving that terrible time.

    1. Twisted Lion*

      One thing that helped me was to stop focusing on all of the things at the old job. I had to cut the relationships I had with coworkers because I realized I was too greedy to hear stories about the toxicity. Focus on the things at your new position that are awesome. Try to reframe your mindset from: job A would NEVER let me leave early on friday to job B lets me go early sometimes on friday and thats really nice! Things like that help me let go of the bitterness. I try to focus on the now vs then. And with time it will get better.

    2. Phoenix from the ashes*

      For me, it wasn’t enough to change jobs, I needed to change my whole focus so that I was looking forward, not backward. What that means for you i can’t guess but it might be formal upskilling related to your current role, or working on soft skills to handle toxic situations better in future, or it might be be building a network / setting up a side income so that you’re never trapped in an awful job again. Or maybe it’s finding something outside of work that has intrinsic value to you – writing the book you’ve always wanted to, or volunteering in an area you feel is really important. Best of luck.

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      Me! Me! I’m so haunted that I panic slightly if I see my boss around this big/small town and can’t get off at that same subway stop without *feeling* it. I haven’t been out and about since COVID-19 started, so I don’t know if these two things are still true.

      A friend asked me to tell her about my time toxic workplace. I did, and a weight lifted. Just being really listened to about it helped a lot. The same things that help with dealing with traumatic events — writing about it, reminding yourself it’s over and you’re safe — seemed to help with my toxic workplace experience.

      My toxic job was also my “dream” job. It let me let go of my “dream” job and even my “dream” industry, so now I’m in a place that uses my skills and is an excellent employer. Being high-functioning workplace helps a whole lot. I’m invested in, treated like I’m worthwhile, and allowed to make mistakes without anyone screaming at me. Over time, my fear of being yelled at has subsided too.

  59. Alex*

    This question might be too niche for this site, but I’m wondering… Has anyone applied to a graduate program many (many) years after finishing undergrad? I was a psychology major, but since graduating, I’ve never worked in any psychology-related field, but I feel like it’s the one career path that really fits my interests and potential. I know that having research experience and faculty recommendations are pretty essential for getting into grad programs. Is it too late for me or are there ways I could get back on track? The bad news is I don’t live near any universities the offer the kind of programs I’m interested in. So if I wanted to dip my toes back in the water, I would have to do an online class. Does anyone have a similar experience? How did it work out? Thanks.

    1. Me*

      I started grad school over the summer. First semester was great. This semester…was not. I had a class that I just felt was extremely over my head in terms of content and work and was an endless source of stress. Fortunately it was an elective not a requirement. After a lot of sole searching I dropped my classes for this semester and am taking a break.

      This is not meant to be discouraging. In fact quite the opposite – what do you have to lose? If it doesn’t work out you can just…stop :)

      My program was online, and references from my boss and other colleagues were sufficient. Online programs are geared toward non-trads and they have exploded in availability. Many don’t require GRE’s or other testing either. You’re fine. If it’s what you want to do I’m sure you will find a program that fits.

    2. Q*

      I went back to graduate school twice, for my master’s and PhD, both after breaks. The kind of program and its selectivity will decide how important recent research experience is for getting accepted. Your undergraduate transcripts may be sufficient for a program that will ask you to pay for tuition. Taking the GRE and getting an excellent score will help too, though keep in mind that many schools no longer ask for GRE scores. But it does depends on how many applicants they get. High-ranked (or more well-known) programs (even one that you pay for) attract more applicants and admissions will be more competitive to these than to less known programs.

      PhD programs that are fully funded pay for your tuition, health insurance, etc, and even pay you a stipend (depending on the field, often this can be just enough to live on and save a small amount). These are the most difficult to get accepted into, and almost always require recent research experience, good grades at minimum, and strong letters from faculty or employers. For this kind of program, recent research experience and letters of recommendation are far more important than coursework and grades.

      Taking an online class or two is a good idea for getting back into coursework. But if you recent research experience is what you need, I recommend looking for jobs in the field whether at a university or a different type of organization.

      A lesser-known option is to get a job at a university and have them pay for your part-time coursework. Many universities pay up to 100% of tuition for their employees to take part-time courses — and usually don’t even require that the courses are relevant to the job in any way. I did my master’s part-time at an elite Ivy League university in an field unrelated to my job. But when I applied to PhD programs in that field, the lack of recent related experience meant I got 0 acceptances. I had to get a relevant job in order to build the recent experience part of my application and be a stronger candidate.

      If going back to school is what you really want, I strongly recommend talking to people with the kind of job you eventually want and determine if you really do need a grad degree. Then talk with faculty at a few different universities to find out exactly how strong your application is and what you need to do before you apply. You could start with your undergraduate institution. In general, I have found that people are very willing to talk with and even give advice to someone who is trying to figure out their career path or get to a certain place (which I really appreciate, and I look for ways to pay it forward).

    3. I edit everything*

      I went back to grad school several years after graduating. It was wonderful. And I have a friend who I graduated with over 20 years ago who just started law school this fall. And I have a couple friends who did it, one in counseling (just finished), one in social work. Both have been very happy with their decisions.

      It is never too late. And in COVID times, remote classwork is the norm. My law-school-attending friend is living in Colorado and “going” to law school in Oregon. It’s worked out well for him and his partner, giving them extra time for moving, job hunting, etc.

      Go for it.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I went to grad school about 5 years after I finished undergrad, and I did so online at first. I enjoyed the online aspect of it, though I found it much harder to collaborate on those pesky group projects. There is always the slacker of the group and it’s a lot easier to just.. not respond to emails than it is to ignore people in class. I enjoyed fitting the homework and exams into my schedule, and truth be told, the curriculum for my online program was much more rigorous and interested than the program I wound up graduating from.

      After 2 or 3 semesters, I moved and found myself in a city where there were in-state schools that offered the same degree, so I transferred. When I transferred, I went to class in the evenings and the vast majority of my classmates were people like me who had waited a handful of years before embarking on their Master’s.

      I am glad I did it! I would have never have otherwise been able to break into that industry, and that first job after my grad degree was what launched my career and what got me to where I am (which is, annoyingly, no longer in that field – plans change!).

    5. Filosofickle*

      I finished my undergrad and grad degrees 15 years apart. And I definitely wasn’t the oldest. Totally doable!

      And my partner started his counseling master’s at 47…formerly psych undergrad but hadn’t really used it either. He always wanted to do something in the field but kept talking himself out of it. Now he’s doing it! He really doesn’t like online education but he doesn’t have a choice right now. It’s still worth it.

    6. Almost Academic*

      I guess my question is what do you want to do with the degree?

      You can definitely go into grad school after quite an interval, but the amount of work it will take will vary drastically between subfields and what types of programs you are applying for. I’m in a clinical psych PhD program, for example, and while it’s possible to go back and get in it will take *a lot* of work to become competitive for these programs and then likely involve a minimum of 2-3 moves over the next 6 years to get your degree. Most people who are older and more settled with family obligations are unable to make that type of commitment logistically, so you get fewer people who enter into my type of graduate program late.

    7. Phoenix from the ashes*

      Go for it! I did 20 years in a (supposedly lucrative, employable, hah) career that I hated, and for several years I did distance learning in my own time in a discipline that I loved but couldn’t see a career path in. Eventually I got to the point where I could go back to uni full-time and tl:dr I shall be finishing my phd next year and my employment options look really good.

      There have been bumps in my road but however hard things looked – well, this was my obsession and so what else could I do but carry on?

      So, yes, go for it. Distance learning is a great way to start. Don’t talk yourself out of it because some of the details seem difficult. Expectations and requirements for mature students can be much more flexible than they are for students who have come direct from school. Trust in your dream. Trust in yourself.

    8. Lyudie*

      Yes! I switched careers a couple of years ago and was accepted in my master’s program last summer (at 43!). My program is 100% remote, my husband is also in an online master’s program (he does go on campus for exams sometimes). For psychology, if you need to do clinics or something like that in person, that might be challenging, but I would look into it!

  60. Elenna*

    Any thoughts on when your manager asks for feedback on your performance and your only feedbsck is “idk you’re doing fine”?

    Had a 1-on-1 with my manager yesterday and he kept asking if I had any feedback, if there was anything he could do to make the job more enjoyable for me, etc. I got the feeling he was worried I was holding back, but honestly I just couldn’t think of anything to say.

    Part of it is because I’m bad at thinking of feedback to give, especially on the spot – I have a habit of just going “okay, this is the waythings are” rather than consciously acknowledging “this is annoying and I want it to change”, I’m working on changing that but it’s hard. Part of it is because this is my first full time job (although I did do several co-op terms in university) so I don’t have much to compare it to. Part of it is because I’m not tye kind if person who’s looking to be super happy about work, I’m fine with being comfortable and not hating it, as long as they give me money in exchange for 8 hours of work a day I’m okay. And part of it is that my manager is honestly quite good – he’s been really helpful about speaking up for me, working on my professional development, etc.

    I ended up saying something vague about how I’d like more context on ad hoc requests, which is something that he already brought up of his own accord earlier, so it was on my mind. But I’m not sure what to say if the topic comes up again.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Feedback about the way he asks for feedback! If I get questions ahead of time and can plan out some written answers, they tend to be more useful. Also taking things at face value and that sometimes the answer really is “nope, nothing at this time but I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if that changes”.

    2. Always Late to the Party*

      It can be difficult to give feedback in the moment; you can always say something like “I appreciate the opportunity to give feedback and want to make sure it’s well-thought out and constructive. Can you ask me again in two weeks?”

      Even if something seems like it’s going fine, there are probably ways it can go better. He’s not necessarily looking for ways to not annoy you; he’s looking for ways to help you do your job better because he wants to retain you long-term (assuming he has good intentions of course). So I would take some time to reflect if there are any changes he can make to make you more effective at your job.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In addition to asking for more time to reflect, feedback isn’t just critical. Your manager needs to know what is going well and why it’s going well, so they can keep doing that and moving in that direction with their managing.

    4. LQ*

      Feedback can be good too. “I really appreciate that you speak up for me, please keep doing that.” It’s totally reasonable to point to the things that your manager does well if they do a good job and it’s something you want them to keep doing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is essentially what I said to my (now former) manager during my review early this year. He asked for feedback on his own performance, and I told him he was doing a great job – I had no complaints.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “I really wasn’t prepared for that question. Can we consider it as an on-going conversation where I might mention things in the moment?”

  61. bookends*

    This is a minor job-searching vent, but I can’t post on facebook that I’m looking to leave my job, so I’m bringing it here! I’ve been super burnt out in my position the last several months, so I’m trying to find a low-pressure job so I can take a step back and think about what’s next for me. I worked in a grocery store on and off from ages 16-22, and I always liked it, so I’ve been looking for grocery jobs.

    I decided to see if my favorite Italian grocery (the kind of place that’s been around forever and sells really nice deli meat, fancy imported pasta, good wine, homemade sauces, fresh bakery, etc.) was hiring. They are, but they “strongly encourage” a VIDEO COVER LETTER. Alison has written about these things before, and I think it’s an awful idea on principle. I’m especially incensed that a job that maybe pays $12/hour and probably doesn’t offer insurance (based on some limited glassdoor reviews) expects people to make the effort of creating a video cover letter to apply. Like, they don’t even pay you enough to shop there without an employee discount, and they expect all that just to apply?!? Ugh.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I imagine they aren’t expecting a professional “video cover letter,” but some kind of tiktok/instagram type “Hi, I’m Susie and I’d love to work at Mercato Italino because…..”
      Places near me that sell fancy food are BIG into social media.

  62. A Capulet Quandary*

    Looking for what-would-you-do advice.

    I interned with a boutique law firm in a major US city during undergrad over a decade ago. It was a great experience and they loved my work (and I thought they were great). I’m now thinking of returning to that city with some letters behind my name along with policy and applied research experience. I’m thinking of reaching out to the principal lawyer for any job leads. Networking with this person sounds like a great thing to do, except they have become prominent in a sphere that is now the antithesis to my own professional and personal life. Think lawyer to and best buds with the Montagues whereas I’m a Capulet. Should I reach out and if so, what kind of boundaries or qualifiers might be good to establish?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Are they someone you’d feel comfortable working with? Does their firm primarily take Montague-related cases, lobby on behalf of the Montagues in M vs C cases? If you were asked to work on a Montague case, could you in good faith accept?

      They might not even be at the firm anymore. I think it’s worth reaching out to see if they have any open positions before you decide if you would even want to work there.

    2. Weekend Please*

      Realistically, would they have job leads you would be interested in? If they are on the opposite side of where you want to be they may not. I guess it depends on the issue. A law firm representing Big Oil probably won’t provide useful networking for an environmental lawyer but if you dislike one of many clients they represent the chances they may know of a job opening you would be interested in goes up.

      1. Generic Name*

        Actually, I think they could be useful, at least in that example. Lawyers are quite capable of forming good relationships with opposing counsel, and even if they personally disagree with the “other side” they likely know of lawyers who,they like and respect and could connect you to.

        I’d reach out to your contact and keep an open mind. If you feel uncomfortable with the people they connect you with, you can try other avenues. If you respect them as a person, it couldn’t hurt.

  63. Cary*

    Posted this super late last week, reposting now in hopes of getting more eyeballs on it, thanks to anyone who replies!

    ASD husband is not outgoing. (I mean, ASD…kind of the flipside of the charismatic person who wrote in about getting offered jobs they can’t do.) He’s also overly literal in everyday communications. OTOH, he is very good at translating customer wishes into doable modules (been praised for this by all previous bosses).

    Seems like a lot of people don’t automatically realize those can go together. Like people who *want* “good at translating customer requests” often end up *selecting for* “outgoing and seems interested in working with the customer” instead, and then he never gets to use that skill.

    So, any suggestions for how he can point up that strength in interviews even though he’s not charismatic/outgoing?

    (I’m the one asking because I’m the one who can more easily just sit down and write stuff.)

    1. Littorally*

      Is he applying for jobs where the one is needed and the other isn’t?

      More realistically, I think I would take the “customer” phrasing out of it — that sounds like he is orienting toward customer-facing positions where relationship management is at a higher premium. “Translating requests into deliverables” without the customer keyword might serve him better.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Well, it’s going to depend a lot on how the interview goes and what they ask. But there are a number of natural openings to get that in as a talking point.

      1) What are your strengths? (Obvious). He can also say something about being a good listener who really takes time to understand what the customer needs.

      2) What are your weaknesses? or What are some challenges you’ve faced in working with customers? Here he can mention that he doesn’t fit the “profile” of what people expect to be good with customers, or that sometimes it takes a little more time for customers to warm up to him, but in fact he’s good at translating customer requests.

      3) Tell me about a time when…(example story of doing the thing that got praise from managers).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Practical, a natural action plan generator
      Action plan oriented
      Gets things done
      Finds success in solving puzzles
      A natural problem solver

    4. Emma2*

      A very late reply so you may not see this. I think he could specifically talk about how he has been praised for this in the past, and if it is possible to do so (ie no confidentiality issues) have one or two examples in mind that he can talk through. It sounds like you are concerned people are not going to meet your husband and immediately assume/see this strength, so he needs to use some effective narrative to show that he can do this in practice. I think talking about consistently strong feedback o something can be good (you are not just saying you are good, other people think you are good – also it tells an interviewer, subtly, that what you are saying is verifiable), and examples help to make things real for people.

  64. Question About Students*

    I had a question about when it’s worthwhile to reply to aggressive student e-mails.

    I am frequently asked for recommendation letters as part of my job teaching college students, and most of the time I’m happy to oblige. However, this semester there have been several requests I’ve had to refuse, either because they came in literally hours (in one case minutes) before the deadline to upload the letter or because the student who was asking had not actually been a good student and not someone I could positively recommend. About half of those requests I got a disappointed but understanding reply or no reply, but for the others, I got e-mails with swear words, telling me something like “You destroyed my life,” or an argument about how I should have recommended them anyway because plagiarism/cheating/the other things that made me unwilling to recommend them had only happened because they had kids, or mental illness, or some other mitigating life circumstance.

    I didn’t reply to any of them, but with the emphasis on teaching students professional norms around here, I’m wondering if I should have? Is there an obligation professors have to reply to e-mails like that and tell the students sending them that they’re not professional and they shouldn’t do so when communicating with employers or other universities? I’m torn between thinking yes and thinking these students wouldn’t listen anyway.

    1. theoptimist*

      there’s no obligation, but you could reply with a link on professional etiquette; nothing more, nothing less.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I wouldn’t. If you get to that point, the teaching moment has passed and I think you’ll only be met with more anger and more disparaging emails. Students often do grow and change, but only with some time and their own reflection.

    3. irene adler*

      People like that won’t listen to advice-you are correct about that. So it’s a waste of time for you.

      They need to learn the hard way how to conduct themselves in a professional manner. When they find doors closed to them and feel the frustration that brings, then they will seek advice. That’s the time enlighten them.

      1. Weekend Please*

        Exactly this. People who send you angry emails because you wouldn’t recommend them will not respond will to critique about their professionalism. It won’t help them but will be aggravating for you.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I work in higher ed, though not as faculty. My experience with these students is that, if they are in a hostile/argumentative mode, nothing you say will sink through. Do not engage any further, but save these email — hopefully you will not need them, but they will be helpful to have if the student escalates their complaint or lashes out at others in your department.

      1. Question About Students*

        Thanks, that’s a valuable perspective. (Almost everyone I know well at my institution is either faculty or staff who mostly only redirect student inquiries). I always do save e-mails, although I haven’t needed them at this job; I did a few times at my previous one.

    5. academic grunt*

      I muse at the beginning of the semester how if a student maybe interested in my field, completing the assignments, participating in discussions, attendance were all factors when deciding whether to write a recommendation for a student.
      For fun, read Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, a novel in the form of the letters of recommendation.

    6. Q*

      Wow. Are these current students or alumni? I’d be tempted to dock them a grade or otherwise penalize them in some way.

      I think that the best teaching moment is before they even ask you for a letter. When I asked for a letter, one of my professors agreed but also sent me a document stating very clearly exactly much time she requires to write a letter, how many reminders to send, etc, basically making it very clear what she expects and how I can give her information that she needs for writing the letter. If I were you, for future students, I would make it a point to talk about this at the beginning of each semester, and make it clear that a recommendation letter is at your discretion only. Asking for a letter is like asking for a professional favor, and is *not* open to discussion or negotiation. Maybe even mention it on your syllabus or course website.

      1. Q*

        And then if you get irate email responses (but hopefully you won’t), you could refer them back to that discussion or link to that part of your website. I would still be tempted to dock these students a grade, but that’s just me!

      2. Question About Students*

        They’re all students who are still at the institution but no longer in my classes. I have only once or twice had a current student ask for a letter of recommendation, and usually those aren’t problems.

        I do like the idea of putting something in my syllabus. I’ve had a lot more requests this year than usual, maybe because of something to do with COVID or learning online, and I had one student who asked me to complete a 125-item questionnaire (!) in addition to uploading a letter within three hours’ time. At least she took it well when I told her honestly that the notification was too late. In general, I want to emphasize more to students that paying attention to deadlines and not waiting until the last minute for everything is a professional skill they should develop.

    7. It's Friday*

      Would love to see this addressed in the student handbook, or perhaps in your course syllabus (how to ask for references, when NOT to ask), teaching this in advance. If your college is really big on this you could forward particularly nasty emails (from students who have not yet graduated) to the appropriate disciplinary office.

  65. Cary*

    I found a couple articles that people on the autism spectrum might find useful.

    I can only access abstracts for two of them, but here they are:

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28211841/ “Participants who disclosed their ASD diagnosis to their employer were more than three times as likely to be employed than those who did not disclose. Education level was also a significant predictor of employment status.”

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-019-04239-y “Participants (n = 170) read a description of a hypothetical co-worker with ASD traits, whose diagnosis was either disclosed or concealed. Providing a diagnostic label significantly reduced participants’ desire to socially distance themselves from the target.”

    Then, here is an open-access article summarizing the topic of employment and supports for ASD adults: https://www.healio.com/occupational-therapy/journals/otannals/2018-4-1-1/%7B07d26ae5-9a2a-4a4d-a4e8-d3957df422d1%7D/barriers-and-facilitators-to-employment-for-adults-with-autism-a-scoping-review

    Here’s its conclusion: “Our review suggests that focusing attention on customized, long-term supports and accommodations within encouraging and informed communities and workplaces contributes to successful employment for individuals with ASD.”

    It also includes many useful citations.

    Hope this helps someone!

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Just reading those few sentences and based on my experience – I’m much more willing and able to accept atypical behavior if I know there’s a reason for it. ASD is a very good reason why I might see atypical behaviors. I would probably overcompensate until I figure out or am told what accommodation is needed, but it would at least not be malicious.

    2. Web Crawler*

      I wonder if the findings carry over for people with a suspected diagnosis of ASD. Probably not, right?

      I’ve never formally been diagnosed but a number of mental health professionals have been sure I’m on the autism spectrum. But that probably doesn’t help me any.

  66. academic lab tech*

    I’m so angry right now. I asked for increased ventilation for our teaching labs because we have, you know, ~500 students coming through every two weeks and what I got was a bunch of AC units on the windows.

    Today I just learned that these AC units do not bring in outside air, but just move the air in the room.

    I’m so angry I’m shaking at work. We literally are in the midst of a COVID outbreak on campus and now they tell me that there has been no fresh air in my labs for the past 3 months.

    1. SGP*

      The AC units have filters, so it’s better than nothing; I hope you can take some comfort in that.

      I’m not familiar with what a teaching lab is, but the labs I’ve worked in have all had HEPA filters and no windows that open. If you don’t have HEPA filters, can you ask for a portable HEPA purifier? They’re relatively inexpensive. If your school says no I’d be willing to buy one myself if I were you (though I know not everyone can afford to).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Filters have ratings. You want the really good filters with the best ratings.

        And you want some air purifiers to plug in around the area.

  67. SeriousWorkEthic*

    TLDR; 20-something,market researcher making mid-$60k+ with pension, great benefits, job security, great company culture looking to move into long-time interest career in law working as corporate counsel in BigLaw with social justice pro-bono work on the side

    How realistic is this jump? Am I making a mistake? I was a first-gen college student, but my family’s finances are in shambles and I’d like to make more money, save for a house, help my family, and help others in a career where I could feel like I am actually making more a difference. Culturally, not helping my family is not an option. They gave everything to see me through and I have to at least provide housing for my mother in her old-age.

    1. Dr of Laboratoria*

      I would think of a few things just off the bat…

      In the time it takes you to finish law school, pass the bar, and find employment, how much salary are you giving up from your current job?

      How stagnant is your salary right now? In the time you go to law school, what promotions are you going to miss out on?

      How about retirement savings during law school?

      How about location? Are you going to be willing to move to where you get into law school if you have to? How about for a job?

      Can you manage or afford health insurance while in law school?

      I would do some informational interviews with lawyers who do what you want to do. Are there even any jobs? What is the pay like? Are you really going to be making the BIG BUCKS compared to what you have now? And don’t forget to consider your whole benefits package – it’s not just your take home pay that’s important.

      I don’t want to discourage you – but it sounds like you have a really good job with lots of great perks that you don’t hate.

    2. CatCat*

      It’s possible, but too many variables to say whether its realistic.

      I think you have to have a broader plan than tunnel vision of I’m going to do “BigLaw with pro-bono on the side.” What if you DON’T get the BigLaw job? Are you okay starting out at a law job making the same or less than you’re making right now? Are you okay with it taking years to make more than that? How much student debt would you have? What if you DO get the BigLaw job, but pro-bono isn’t in the cards?

      What is the promotion potential in your current line of work? Can you move up the ladder and make good money on your current path?

      1. pancakes*

        +1. Only a small fraction of law students get those jobs, and many of even the biggest firms have hiring freezes and have been doing layoffs throughout the pandemic.

        I’d return my law degree and take a refund without hesitation if I could. I enjoyed law school and law review but financially it was / is disastrous for me.

    3. RC Rascal*

      Read the blog “Biglaw” before you get serious about this.

      Law schools are graduating FAR more students than can find jobs. They are reporting ANY employment in their statistics, even if you end up working far outside of law; for example as a bartender. Average student loan balances for new law grads are very, very, high. I don’t have a current figure (you could look this up) it is well into the six figures.

      Law school average starting salaries are also misleading because its a binomial distribution. A smaller group of grads are hired by the largest of firms and make extraordinarily high salaries ($150k plus). A much larger group goes into government, small firm, etc and makes a much smaller starting salary–this second group averages about $50-60k a year. There isn’t any in between. You either are looking at a salary similar to what you have now with lots of debt, or you might make it rich.

      Before you make a move like this I would challenge you to interview 20 attorneys currently practicing in the field and get their insight. Law is one of the most exited professions and I think you are likely to find out why.

    4. theoptimist*

      Thank you all — I have interviewed 1 lawyer so far and have been on many law school webinar with alumni and I did think of my total take home compensation, not just my base cash compensation. Besides the pension, I also have stocks which I lose upon leaving. I thought another option was to get my masters paid for my current employer and use it create my own position within the company which I am 98% sure they’d support and using that as leverage to ask for a better compensation. I’ve put together a spreadsheet outlining costs and benefits. I’d go to an in-state law school – the cost is a fraction of any other law school. I am in the DMV region so I have plenty of school options.

      1. Anona*

        I’d research the employment rates of schools you’re interested in. My brother and sister in law (husband’s sister) both graduated from law school around 6 years ago. It took them each several years to find decently paid employment- my sister in law worked for a firm without benefits for several years and my brother did research for a professor for awhile and had a couple of short term clerkship jobs. He eventually got a federal position by doing a federal fellowship for 2 years (he’s also in DMV area and attended a state school with a partial scholarship).

        I know my brother still knows plenty of underemployed people from his law school graduating class. He’s one of the lucky ones, worked his ass off while in school, did multiple internships, did a lot of networking during and after school and eventually got something full time.

        Just know that a decent job is not a guarantee. Both of them are trying to pay their loans back through the federal program (she ended up taking a reserves JAG job specifically for that purpose).

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I thought another option was to get my masters paid for my current employer and use it create my own position within the company which I am 98% sure they’d support and using that as leverage to ask for a better compensation.

        Honestly, this sounds better than your law school idea. First, it’ll allow you to stay with your current employer and continue to make money while in school – many law school students can’t work as 1Ls. Second, you wouldn’t be saddled with a ton of debt with no guaranteed job at the end of the tunnel – you would still have your current position at least, and if your company nixes the idea of your newly created role, you could always take your newly minted masters education someplace else.

        I know and have worked with many former lawyers. Every single one regrets getting their law degree. Every one. The debt they ended up with just wasn’t worth it based on where they ended up (working with someone like me, who only has a BA and making not much more than me).

      3. go4it*

        Hi OP , you may not see this but I wanted to weigh in anyway. I have no law background, but my current role is similar to yours. I was lucky to have my graduate degree paid for, and feel like this gave me an incredible step up financially, which I’m grateful for every day, especially when I hear about friends paying so much in loans even years after graduating. I wasn’t paid during my degree, so you getting a free degree, skipping the multiple years of loan payoff stress, AND getting a salary and good benefits during the process sounds like an excellent option. It would also allow you to get closer to creating your own role at the end, or leaving for something better. Honestly, I’d take this option 100%.

        1. SeriousWorkEthic*

          I’ve been periodically checking in any case there were new responses. Thank you, everyone! All your perspectives have been thoughtful and have given me so much to think about… even my mother is encouraging the MBA over the JD… maybe that’s the way forward and your commentary has certainly been part of what’s emboldened me to more seriously consider Plan B. Thank you again!

    5. Youtube watcher*

      I’m an avid watcher of the Legal Eagle youtube channel. He has talked multiple times about people who ask about becoming an attorney. His advice is this:

      Unless you have a strong DESIRE to be an attorney more than you want to do anything else….. don’t go to law school.

      The cost of schooling and the lack of high paying jobs with actual work/life balance don’t make it worth it unless you really really really want to be a lawyer.

      1. theoptimist*

        Thank you! I’ll check that out. I have read so many blogs, chat boards, and it’s just not the same unless you actually talking to someone who lives it.

    6. It happens*

      Spend some time on abovethelaw dot com and ask the people there.
      All the best with improving your pay scale!

    7. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Two things I’ll add to the excellent comments that have already been made:

      (1) How “something” into “20-something” are you? Ageism in biglaw hiring is real. It’s not as pronounced at 30 as it is, at, say, 45, but if you’re closer to 30 than to 20, it’s still likely that you’ll be interviewing with people younger than you during those crucial 1L interviews.

      (2) Everyone think they want to work “as corporate counsel in BigLaw with social justice pro-bono work on the side.” Why not? You can make money and do some social good too! The reality is that you’ll be far too busy trying to make your billable hours target to get much pro bono in, and the kinds of pro bono you’re able to do will be limited by conflicts from your biglaw firm’s regular clients.

      If you want a job where you can “make more money, save for a house, help [your] family, and help others in a career where [you] could feel like [you are] actually making more a difference,” biglaw only gets you two of those, and they’re both the ones that involve making more money. If you’d actually like to make more money and still get to see your family, stay far away from biglaw.

    8. SeriousWorkEthic*

      I’ve been periodically checking in any case there were new responses. Thank you, everyone! All your perspectives have been thoughtful and have given me so much to think about… even my mother is encouraging the MBA over the JD… maybe that’s the way forward and your commentary has certainly been part of what’s emboldened me to more seriously consider Plan B. Thank you again for the resources, questions, comments and weigh-ins. Have a wonderful day — thank you for sharing!

  68. Chloe*

    I have a question for everyone. I interviewed via phone for a CSR position in a veterinary hospital that runs 24/7. The office manager starts “crying” that they need ten people for the CSR position and that the manager above her was away on maternity leave and would come back sometime Monday to make the decision to hire for the CSR position. Monday comes around and the office manager e-mails me a rejection e-mail stating that I was so, so close but the position has already been filled prior to the job posting.
    I’m angry, but I write it off as there was an internal hire.
    However, two weeks later, the position is posted again, and I’m stunned. I thought it was already filled. I apply again, but the office manager doesn’t contact me for an interview.
    About three weeks later, the posting is removed and then two weeks later, the same CSR job is reposted. Then for the past year ( I did get a job and I casually look on Indeed for this posting) during the pandemic, the CSR job is reposted every 30-40 days. Recently, an interviewee on Indeed stated that the office manager lied to her that they needed people (seems very familiar), gave her a written offer, and then rejected her that the position has been filled prior to the job posting.
    My question is: why would an office manager keep reposting the same CSR job every 30-40 days, cry that she needs people, and claim that the position has already been filled? I assumed it was an internal hire (hence the already been filled past tense) and/or high turnover, but now I don’t think so. Why would someone post the same job over and over and lie to interviewees all the time? What would be this person’s motive?

    1. Me*

      It sounds like they haven’t filled the position and are saying they did as a “nice” rejection. Or they really could have a high amount of turnover because it’s a terrible place to work.

      Clearly the place is a mess and you dodged a bullet.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Reposting every 30-40 days is consistent with high turnover.

      The office manager is telling the truth that they need people. Because they can’t keep anyone. They are probably hiring the first person they hear back from, hence the “already filled” situation. And which of course contributes to the fact that they can’t keep anyone.

      You need to hire extremely carefully to find someone who can/will do CSR over a night shift long-term. They aren’t being careful, they’re just churning the job.

    3. LQ*

      I suspect this isn’t true (because who cries as a manger in an interview…) but it could be that they needed multiple roles and they are posting essentially for the next role and the next role and the next role. Highly unlikely in this case. But places that hire 10 people at a shot for roles sometimes do it as a single cohort of people all together, and sometimes do it subsequently, essentially get one person in and trained enough to be on their own and then move onto the next person.

      It’s pretty unlikely that the manager (even if they are bad) is doing it to specifcally lie to interviewees and do interviews because they are a pain and take a lot of time. I’d guess it’s more likely that they are hiring people and then losing them, or that this manager is just completely wierd and flailing at nothing instead of doing their job.

      Look elsewhere for sure!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Perhaps this is my old vet’s place?
      Let’s see. The part owner vet was snooty. She looked down her nose at the pet owners. The lady at the front desk was Judgey McJudgerson. She had something to say about everyone who walked in there.
      I was boarding my dog there but the last time I got my dog he was inconsolable. Part of his acting out involved jumping over the seat and on to my husband who was driving at 60 mph. We started to go off the road. Sadly, I climbed in back and gently laid over my dog so we could get home without further incident. I cried so hard, what had they done to my dog.
      Finally, in one last attempt to make it work, I said I had a problem with a steroid they gave my dog. The dog became scary angry and tried to attack me. Their response was, “Oh no. That didn’t happen. That’s not true.”
      My response was “Good bye”.

      Don’t waste your brain space on this group of people.

    5. Black Horse Dancing*

      One thing also to think of–this is a 24/7 veterinary emergency hospital which means lots of stress and hard work. Veterinary work is one of the absolute hardest in the medical fields–vet suicide rates are sky high–and they may be genuinely burning through people.

      1. RagingADHD*

        CSRs aren’t doing vet work. They are answering phones and handling the front desk. Which, granted, is going to be fairly stressful because of dealing with upset people. But they are not dealing directly with caring for the animals unless they are expecting untrained people to do vet work, which would be highly inappropriate and might be part of why people are leaving.

        But that would be pure speculation.

  69. Non profit sector in Canada*

    I’m contemplating moving to Canada and would like to research my job prospects there.
    Does anyone know good websites for job searching in the non profit sector there?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Generic Name*

      Before you start a job hunt, I would look up emigration requirements on the Canadian government’s website. Just like in the US, they don’t want a bunch of random foreigners coming to their country and taking up all the jobs. I looked it up four years ago (hmmmmm……) and I recall at the time it looked like they were giving priority to experts in petroleum geology and engineers. The website had a helpful checklist for how to get a work visa.

      1. Non profit sector in Canada*

        My partner and I qualify for the skilled workers program, that’s why I’m checking the job market already. But thanks anyway. I’m on a similar boat as you were four years ago – hopefully things change for our country as well.

  70. Janeway is My Captain*

    I’m currently job searching (lightly as I’m mostly happy with my job, just not my current career trajectory). In my current job, I’m involved in the month end close of the financials for my organization, so the first two weeks of the month are often no-gos vacation wise (without extenuating circumstances). I’m looking at a vacation package (in 2022) that’s only available in the first week of the month and I would really like to go. I’m not certain if any/all the jobs I’m applying for are also as involved in month-end close.
    Question: at what point of the interview/acceptance process does one broach the topic of a vacation that may occur during a inopportune time for the position?

    1. Always Late to the Party*

      Hmm…definitely after you have an offer. I’m going to say probably while you’re negotiating said offer, but would be interested in what others have to say.

  71. ThePear8*

    An update on a post I made a couple of threads ago where I mentioned a person in the club I’m president of who bombards me with questions and tells me too much about their problems. To reiterate, they seem like a well-intentioned person, just socially clueless and very exhausting (particularly as an introvert) to deal with.
    Good news is, more recently I thought they were messaging less or in general only asking me things relevant to the club/club’s industry/college/job-hunting, things I can actually give advice about and are relevant. Sometimes they would still nag me if I hadn’t responded in 24-48 hours, which is annoying and exhausting, but I made it clear to them that I’m busy and will not always respond to their questions immediately and they seem to understand *for the most part*

    Last night though I got another message from them just saying something along the lines of “I bombed a test, what was I thinking.” I could just ignore it, but because I don’t want them to do this again, I’m wondering if there’s a way I can just directly tell them look, that’s a personal issue, has nothing to do with me, I can’t help you and I’m not going to coddle your emotions, I’m not a sounding board and I don’t want you to vent your every problem to me. I know this person is a freshman and international student, I’m a senior and the club president so I know they look up to me a great deal and I have answered a lot of questions for them, and as I mentioned in the last open thread I have considered the possibility that maybe there are cultural differences of what constitutes oversharing, so I don’t want to come off too harsh and I don’t mind if they want to continue to seek my advice on relevant topics, but I really don’t want them complaining to me about their academic performance or other problems they have with the university or whatnot that have nothing to do with me. (This is just a me-thing but I think I’m also extra bothered by this because it closely mirrors some problems I had with my ex, in that he would just complain to me about everything and make me feel I had to manage his emotions all the time, so I’m very keen to just nip this in the bud and not have to deal with it).

    1. CTT*

      I think say “I’m not in the best position to work with you on this. Have you looked into talk to [insert campus resource here – counseling center, academic success program, department-specific resources].” And stick to that line every time something comes up that’s not in your purview.

      Also, I want to push back on your thinking that there is an introvert/extrovert distinction to this – this behavior would likely be annoying to anyone, regardless of their -vert designation.

      1. ThePear8*

        Thank you! I responded below that this is good language, and will use it to address broader issues they come to me with. Still not certain though about the more recent and smaller personal complaint (seems like overkill to suggest counseling or refer them to someone else for a simple venting about a test?).

        And I appreciate the input on the introvert/extrovert distinction. Sometimes I feel physically exhausted after the sheer volume of their questions, even when they’re relevant, and I thought it’s because as an introvert I get that really drained feeling after dealing with people a lot. But I can see where regardless, it doesn’t really matter as anyone might feel the same way.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I’m pretty introverted and would find this exhausting, too. That said, my extroverted coworkers would probably find such behavior annoying, even if not necessarily exhausting. It’s usually annoying to feel that your time’s being wasted on stuff that you feel is irrelevant.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Don’t go off on them like that. This is an exhaustingly needy person, but they’re also what? Eighteen? Nineteen?

      They are acting like you two are friends. You are not their friend and don’t want to be. Those are both perfectly fine things to want – It is normal for students to make friends through clubs. It’s also normal to want to keep those activities entirely separate from your social life. They are not doing anything wrong, and neither are you. But don’t punch down.

      Just don’t answer the message for a few days. When you do, use language like CTT suggested. And then maybe you can redirect them to a different communication channel that is less intrusive – like if they are texting, tell them to contact you via email for club-related stuff. And then block them from texting.

      1. ThePear8*

        You’re exactly right. I didn’t mean to go off on them, but I guess I did, and that’s absolutely not how I meant to come across! I appreciate that you pointed it out, while I am frustrated and exhausted it is no excuse to be so harsh. I do truly think they are a good and well-intentioned person, but do not always realize how they may come across or necessarily consider how they’re using other people’s time.
        You are definitely right in that I don’t want to be friends with them and they’re acting like we are, and I do want to be able to draw that boundary while still being open and available to them.
        CTTs language is good and I will definitely use that next time they come to me with a broader issue that has no bearing on me and stick with it. I am wondering though what to do about the more recent personal complaint…”I bombed a test, what was I thinking”, that doesn’t seem like anything I can really refer them to anyone else for (counseling seems like overkill?), but given everything that’s happened this year I don’t have the emotional bandwidth these days to offer sympathy for everything. Is just ignoring it really the best way though if I want to let them know I don’t want their personal complaints?

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, it is best to ignore. It’s low-stakes venting (as one would do with a friend). Not responding is a form of the “slow fade.”

          Just disengage from the personal stuff, and you will get less and less personal stuff. They will find someone else to vent to who is here for it.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Don’t respond to communications that aren’t about the club. You don’t need to wait and respond later, or give an explanation, or anything. Just be brief and professional about the club, and ignore everything else.

      If they escalate the frequency, or seem to be in crisis, then you might need to be more direct (and send them to an appropriate person for support if necessary), but in general just not engaging should be enough.

  72. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

    Hey, need some advice! I’m super new to a role as a remote worker and feeling that one other new starter (few of us started together, all us have same role,
    all remote) is a lot more careerist and has a more assertive supervisor advocating for them – basically Im worried about getting left with all dregs in terms of work but I don’t want to alienate other supervisors as we are being given quite different work and it almost seems deliberate. Is there a good way to approach this – out of all new starters this person is also pretty cold towards me so reaching out to smooth things hasnt helped.

    1. Zephy*

      So if I’m reading this right:
      * You and Fergus both started working for Company X at the same time and have the same title and job description.
      * Fergus’s manager seems to be assigning Fergus different kinds of tasks than the ones your manager is assigning to you.
      * You’re worried that you’re being given the shit tasks no one likes and that’s impacting or will impact your professional development.

      I’m almost certain it’s not personal – no one’s waking up in the morning and thinking “What tedious busywork can we saddle Hare with today? And what sexy and exciting new projects can we get that Fergus working on?”

      I think the only thing you could do would be to talk to your own supervisor, saying something like “Fergus was telling me about the teapot painting project he’s been working on – I’d love an opportunity to get some experience with that sort of thing, if another project like that comes down the pike. How can we make that happen?”

      1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        Thanks Zephy! Wfh is fantastic but I’m filling the gaps in my company knowledge with my fears. Great advice – and detective work in deciphering my rather garbled post :)

  73. MissFinance*

    I own stock in my company. Recently, the original owner, who is on the board of directors, has been making a push to get rid of several of the directors and put in his own handpicked selections. I strongly disagree with this decision because the remaining directors, besides him, will have been there for less than a year, and it seems like a power maneuver to attempt to gain control of the company before he is asked to step down (there’s a mandatory retirement age; I believe 80, and he’s fast approaching that age).

    Anyway, since I am also an employee, is there any conflict of interest in voting as a stockholder against the measure? I haven’t seen anything about it in the proposal (I keep getting mail about it) but I want to double check

    1. Littorally*

      Nope. You are a shareholder and entitled to vote as a shareholder, regardless of whether or not you’re employed by the issuing company.

    2. Generic Name*

      This is the benefit of having voting shares of stock at a company you work for. You get to help steer the direction the company is going in.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Technically speaking this is what stockholders are SUPPOSED to do. They are supposed to find out what is going on in the company and vote accordingly.

      Most people just sign over their proxy and hope for the best.

  74. AnotherAlison*

    I mentioned a couple upcoming interviews a few weeks ago. One was great, got an offer, but it’s too low. It’s <$10k less than where I am, which would potentially be offset with a bonus, but then the 401k match delta is another $10k , and I would already be topped out. The next interview is out of state next week. I don't know what to expect, but based on what I know so far, I think it will be an interesting share here next week. Stay tuned.

  75. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Need assistance wording a response to the staff over a recent Covid-related demand some of them have made:

    Not quite a petition from them but it was a letter that a ‘lot’ of them are tired of this whole thing, feel like it’s totally pointless to keep using masks/distancing etc because ‘it hasn’t stopped the crisis’, it’s doing more damage to their mental well being than the risk of dying to Covid…you get the idea.

    My own personal views (I’ve lost people to this virus, I’m high risk, I’ve got friends working in hospitals who are overloaded, my mental health is shaky anyway etc) are not really what I want to go back to them with as that’ll turn it into a ‘my views are more important than yours’ fight.

    Ideas? I kind of want a ‘look, we’re all pissed off this is still going on but I’m not bringing back normal working conditions because anyone can die to this’ but..err…without the kind of swearing I’m doing?

    1. Dr of Laboratoria*

      Oh man, this is tough.

      I think perhaps the best bet is to go with the facts. About doing your part.

      Because it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting the nurse or doctor who has to treat your kid if he gets injured and has to go to hospital. It’s about protecting a coworker so they can still take care of their aging parents. It’s about keeping our office open so we all get paid (maybe lead with that one).

      And end with – We will be following CDC recommendations until they are updated. Period.

      My state is in a BIG surge and I work in one of the major hospitals so I know what’s coming. My husband lost his grandmother to COVID. It’s hard not to take this stuff personally.

      1. pancakes*

        If they’re telling you they’re having mental health problems you should include instructions on how to access any sort of employee assistance program(s) available, as well as local suicide prevention organizations. I’m very wary of people making this claim because of how frequently people who are anti-social distancing and anti-mask lean on fabricated statistics they’ve made no effort whatsoever to verify, but the information should be included nonetheless. (In the US it’s an extremely common talking point for people who aren’t well-informed, as if they’re all circulating the same slapdash pamphlet amongst themselves).

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I think you have the right idea but I would take it a bit further. Say something like, “Yes, we are all sick and tired of it. I understand your frustration and I also wish all of this would go away. I understand that you don’t believe that it is as bad as media says it is and I understand that at times it does not seem like the preventive measures aren’t working.” (understand does not equal agree) “However, I would prefer to err on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry. Hopefully soon we can return to normal but not just yet. I look forward to the day we can.”

      Good Luck!

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      This might be one of those things where you use Alison’s trick of speaking like OF COURSE the people you’re speaking to are (empathetic, rational, etc.) to shame them into rising to the occasion. Like, “We thank you all for making sacrifices, we know it’s hard but that everyone understands how important it is to protect others, therefore these restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, etc.”

    4. ...*

      I just blame it all on a nebulous “Them”. Like I know this isn’t ideal but this is what they say we have to do so we just have to stick to it no exceptions. Or like well this is what the powers that be are directing us to implement so we will have to do it….

    5. Jo*

      If I’m not mistaken you are in the UK? I’d lean hard on government guidelines as a basis (ofcourse we dont want to break the law) and use a lot of the language others have suggested – we are all in this together, we all need to do our part to protect others, its not just about you etc. Its a bit gross, but maybe some references to previous historical crises (eg WW2) and how everyone needs to do their part may work?

    6. Not A Manager*

      Who’s the decision-maker here? If you’re going off of a government mandate, then I’d just say that. If you’re going off of a larger corporate policy, I’d say that. To the extent that you can kick the can to some other, authoritative entity, you can avoid the battle of opinions that you’re concerned about.

      If you are the final decision maker, then I’d cite your own sources, even if vaguely. “While this situation is tedious for all of us, the department will continue to follow all current best practices and medical recommendations.” If you think you’ll get some kind of fringe internet “best practices” pushback, you can add “as per the CDC” or the NIH or whatever.

    7. Ins mom*

      You could maybe start by agreeing with them- yes we are all tired of this! I’m not sure the nature of your work, but what’s the harm in masking? It’s a question of just how much are they willing to bet that it makes no difference!

    8. Malarkey01*

      The best messaging I’ve seen on this (at least that speaks to me) is starting out with Our first and highest priority is to the health and safety of our employees, partners, and customers. This year has challenged us all and I’m proud that at ABC we’ve risen to the occasion and despite the disruptions have (insert some big accomplishments). I especially want to thank those balancing childcare and elder care responsibilities, balancing the struggles of WFH/our new workplace, while adapting to new health and safety requirements, and want to send deepest condolences to anyone that has lost a loved one. As we continue on through this crisis we will continue to follow the government mandates and safety advice; managing the spread is the surest way to keep businesses and schools open, keep us healthy, and look after our most vulnerable. I thank everyone for your continued cooperation and look forward to getting through this together.

      I know it’s cheesy but it thanked people first, recognized the challenges, fell back on the government policies with an explanation of the goal, and of course thanked them for obvious support.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Can you offer them extra PTO just to go home and be maskless for a bit?

      If it were me I would find the parts in what they are saying that I agreed with and I’d share that with them. “yeah, these masks are a pain. I can’t breathe, it feels like I am in a tunnel or a cage or something. I agree with you guys here.”
      Then the BUT. “But my hands are pretty much tied. Government (or management) says we have to wear them. If we don’t wear them we can be (written up, fired, whatever). Look, we have made it this far. It’d be a real crying shame to give up the masks now and then get sick.” Then go into a thought about why you keep wearing it, “If I found out that I made one of you guys sick, my life would be forever changed. It is such an unbearable thought to me.” Then add, “Going the other way, if i have to write one of you guys or worse then I am going to feel horrible about that. There is no ideal solution here. I suggest we all wear our masks a bit long and we all remain employed and with each other.”

      1. pancakes*

        A person who feels they’re in a tunnel or cave when wearing a mask needs treatment for panic attacks, not just a day at home.

  76. Quagga*

    For people who have been working from home since March, is your workplace still functional? Are you being managed well, and are you being supported? Because my workplace has been in “it’s a pandemic, everyone needs to pitch in and hustle” for eight months now and I am burnt out.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      No. No, and … a little bit? But not in any methodical way (the org is doing many general things to support employees, but it’s all over the place, and on the employees to seek out the support they need).
      I’m burnt out, too. We got the same “pitch in and get it all done” line.
      I’m in higher ed. Ugh.

    2. Alianora*

      My workplace is still in hustle mode too. I’m trying to find the right balance between getting things done and maintaining my own mental health. My immediate manager has been doing a good job of being responsive and understanding, but some of the higher-ups are definitely letting things slip that then affect me.

      I feel like I’ve been taking a lot of blame lately for things that the director forgot about. She’ll think she asked me to do something when she didn’t, or I’ll have a question for her that she thinks she answered but didn’t. So she thinks that I’m the one who messed up. She isn’t usually like this. And I’ll admit I’m not as on top of following up on things as I used to be, so I used to catch more problems before they became problems. I’m not sure if I should bring the issue up or let it slide.

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

      My manager has made a great effort to keep us working as normal as possible, insisted on 1:1 meetings, and created virtual coffees where we can vent. Corporate, well… they tried, but their attempts have been few. Yes, they sent us chairs and monitors, but at the same time refused to reimburse for any extra costs or lost perks, sent emails full of inspirational quotes and poems and reduced significantly our COL raise (which has nothing to do with our finances, we’re one of the few that are thriving thanks to the pandemic). Our paychecks have lost so much to inflation that I’ve lost several coworkers since March, and it seems that more will leave in the next months.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Place was kinda disorganized pre-pandemic but we all went WFH pretty easily. Summer was slower paced. But since September it’s been crazy to try and get business for Q3 & Q4

    5. lemon*

      Nope, nope, and nope. I go weeks without hearing a peep from my manager or anyone else on my team. Every once in a while my manager will email me and ask “is this website slow for you?” But that’s it. I’ve emailed them asking for time to meet, and all i get is “I’ll respond to this soon” for weeks at a time. It’s pretty clear that everyone is just phoning it in at this point.

    6. allathian*

      Yep, it’s been fine.

      Since March, I’ve had two 1:1s with my manager and two 1:2s with my manager and closest coworker who has the same job description. We also have weekly team meetings and weekly coffee half-hours on Friday afternoons to talk about non-work stuff. We’ve even managed two half-day development events that normally would have taken place in person.

      It definitely helps that we were allowed to WFH pretty much when it suited us even before the pandemic, so I had an office chair and a desk and a big screen already.

      There was definitely a scramble in the spring when we were in emergency mode and things were a bit weird. We just hunkered down and did what had to be done. In early fall, following our long summer vacation periods (people still took time off even if it wasn’t possible to go anywhere) my employer put in place procedures that could be followed in the longer term.

      For me personally, it feels like I’ve settled into a “new normal”. Sure, work is occasionally stressful even now, but at least I don’t have to deal with the commute. My husband, our main cook, cooks a nourishing lunch for us on most days, and I get to spend a lot more time with my family than I normally would.

      It also helps that I’m basically introverted by nature and get most of the socializing I need from spending time with my family and from the weekly non-work chat and from long phonecalls with my friends about once a month or so, as well as from walks in the park with my parents, sister, and in-laws. Sure, it would be great to see my friends in person again, go to the movies or to restaurants, but I’m not suffering because I can’t do it. Or rather, I could go and do it, movie theaters and restaurants are open, but I just don’t want to. Wearing a mask spoils all the fun for me, and while I would be responsible and do it to protect others if I had to, I’d rather just stay home to avoid it.

      I also realize that I’m extremely lucky in that I don’t know anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID, never mind hospitalized for it or died from it.

      1. allathian*

        Schools and daycares are currently open, with temporary closures for quarantine when necessary. My son is back at school and vastly prefers going, even though he did really well in remote learning in the spring. Our current regulations say that masks are strongly recommended on public transit and in any public indoor spaces, but that it’s okay to go maskless when it’s possible to maintain physical distancing outdoors.

  77. Absurda*

    Looking for Canadians, preferably with government hiring experience.

    I’m a US based manager in a multi-national company. One of my former reports, who is Canadian, applied for a job with the CA gov and asked me to be a reference. They’ve sent me a form 10 Reference questionnaire to complete. Any tips on completing this or things I should avoid?

    The questionnaire asks for specific examples of things, but I don’t really have any. The job didn’t have any projects I could point to, it was more about doing the work everyday and meeting the monthly/quarterly deadlines. Plus, I haven’t managed her for a few years and a lot has happened (in my life) since then so I don’t remember any specific dates or incidents I can point to. Is this an issue?

    My former direct was awesome and I highly recommend her so I want to be sure I give her a strong recommendation. I greatly appreciate any advice you all could give.

    Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      Can you ask her to remind you of some highlights of the job you worked on with her? Also, when you’re thinking of projects, keep in mind that you could include something like “X wasn’t work for us so she came up with a new process that fixed it” – it doesn’t have to be a formal project.

      AFAIK, the more clear you can be about how she meets the criteria, the better it will be. I don’t think specific dates are required, as long as you’re clear about the circumstances (i.e. “When Janet was completing the monthly report, she notices that X was wrong. She notified me immediately and we were able to fix it before publishing the report.”)

    2. A big plate*

      Hope this reply isn’t too late. Canadian govt worker here, with hiring experience (and lots of experience with applying to jobs where my references had to fill in these forms). Two things: first, because these forms are so detailed (and can be onerous) it’s very normal for a reference to go back to the job seeker and basically ask the job seeker to give them examples for every question. When I ask people to be my references I usually offer to do this. Second, you can usually ask to have a conversation with the hiring manager rather than filling out the form if you prefer. This gives you the opportunity to go beyond the specific questions they ask and tell them all the glowing things you want to say regardless about where these comments might fit in to the questions they’re asking, and may not be as labour-intensive on your part.
      These reference checks are really important — there are multiple stages to the job interview process, all of which end up with a number “grade” given to the applicants, and so it’s great you’re doing your best to represent your former employee well!

  78. Unemployed Admin Assistant*

    A few months ago I was laid off from my first office job, as the administrative assistant in a tiny therapy office (so small I was the only non-therapist working there). After months of job searching I have learned that my former employer’s way of doing things was unorthodox at best, so I’m missing a lot of experience typical employers want when hiring for admin assistant and similar roles (like receptionist) in medical offices. The biggest skill gaps in my resume are lack of experience with specialized practice management and scheduling software (my previous employer was very behind the times technology-wise) and that the medical billing training I received was extremely limited.

    I discussed this issue with one of my city’s volunteer career counsellors, and they suggested I take a medical billing course, but could only recommend me a local trade school that is shut down due to covid and didn’t know much about online options. I’ve looked into online options for medical billing courses and I’m seeing such a great variety of programs and costs that I feel completely over my head. I don’t know enough to analyze these programs for quality and I’m afraid of wasting time and money on something University of Phoenix-like that no employer would take seriously. Dang, I don’t even know for certain if taking a medical billing course/passing a certification test is something employers want to see on my resume! Does anyone here have any insight into this issue, and could help me figure out where to take a medical billing course and if it’s worth it to get a receptionist/admin assistant job?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s … negligible, for an admin assistant or receptionist job, but might open some other doors for you. I would look at local community colleges; quite a few of them have programs in Health Information Management (two year degree that would prepare you for a decent broad certification) with narrower certificate programs (my community college did medical secretary, medical transcription, and I think medical office management certificates?) – the program will have things like anatomy and physiology, intros to coding and billing and insurance management. They will also almost certainly require an externship, that the program will help you set up, and that’s the beginning of your networking opportunities that will get your foot in the door.

      (Creds: I am a team lead in revenue cycle management in the largest hospital system in my state, specifically for a team of 24 medical coders.)

      1. Unemployed Admin Assistant*

        Thank you for your help! I did find a local community college offering online classes that prepare you to sit certification exams sound similar that what you’re talking about. They are way more expensive and look like bigger time commitments than the trade school course I was originally suggested. Am I correct in understanding that what you’re saying is that these type of courses aren’t a requirement for getting an admin assistant or a receptionist job, but could be helpful if I want to go further in my career?

        1. WellRed*

          This might be a stretch and not availabe in your area, but apart from community college, our local adult ed offers a few basic classes on medical billing. Much less expensive and might be a good way to get your feet wet and see if you even like it.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (Caveat: My experience is all in large organizations, multi-hospital systems and the like. I cannot speak to how things work in smaller individual practices.) They … *shouldn’t* be a requirement, no, but here’s the issue: people who want to get into coding and billing and higher functions of medical administration, and have taken those two year programs but don’t have any practical experience, are very unlikely to get hired straight into coding and billing roles, because the classroom doesn’t (and frankly, IMO, can’t) prepare you for what an actual coding and billing job is going to be like. They’re instead going to be looking for ways to get their foot in the door so they can start moving up the ladder from an internal hire position and eventually GET to those roles. So they’re applying for the customer service, receptionist, admin assistant positions too. Will a two year degree in HIM make them a better receptionist? No, though it’ll probably give them a leg up on understanding how the organization works and why certain things have to be done the way they do and how their role fits into the overall scheme of things. But in an organization where the expectation is