open thread – December 11-12, 2020

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

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

{ 905 comments… read them below }

  1. Patrick Mahomes fan*

    Not sure if I have any grounds to be annoyed by this, but…

    My company has absolutely THRIVED since Covid hit. We manufacture and sell products that have been in extremely high demand since the outbreak. It is far and above the best year our company has ever had (although, we’ve been steadily increasing in business for many years now).

    Anyway, our corporate office sent an email this morning regarding raises next year. To preface, in the 5 years I’ve gotten here, I’ve always received a 3% raise per year (except for my second year, when I fought for and received a 12% raise). Generally speaking though, employees get either a 1%, 2%, or 3% raise, depending on end of the year reviews. I’ve always received reviews consistent with getting a 3% raise. Here is the gist of the email everyone in the company received from corporate this morning:
    “While many organizations have been forced to reduce s
    taffing, and freeze or lower wages, we are fortunate to announce a 2% wage increase in 2021 for all employees hired prior to 7/1/2020. This increase will be reflected on your 1/22/21 paycheck.”

    I feel like they’re wanting me to feel fortunate to even receive a raise at all¸ because other companies have indeed had to reduce staffing, and free or lower wages. However, as I stated, 2020 has been our company’s best year by FAR. A 2% salary increase (which would be less than any increase I’ve received here), seems a bit stingy.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Do they mean 2% for everyone in addition to your regular raises? I ask because you said you previously fought for a 12% raise, so I imagine that conversation was had one-on-one with your manager. Could you still be getting your regular 3% raise separately and your manager just hasn’t talked to you yet?

      (But no, you’re not wrong to feel the way you do if it turns out they’re just giving everyone 2% and calling it a day.)

      1. Patrick Mahomes fan*

        I’m not sure. I took it as “everyone is getting a 2% raise and we’re calling it a day”, but perhaps you’re right. Yes, the 12% raise conversation was a one on one conversation with my manager. However, my manager is very much a “we should all be SO thankful to work here” type (even though quite honestly there are a lot of issues with this company), so I could see her being flabbergasted that I’d even ASK about my usual 3% raise on top of the 2% that corporate has claimed everyone is getting, “because of Covid”.

        1. Jen*

          It definitely sounds like everyone just gets 2%. That’s what they are doing in my company – giving everyone a flat raise, no possibility for negotiation, just be happy you’re getting something.

          1. MCL*

            I work for a state university where we’re all getting a 2% raise starting this January (yay!), which was long planned. It’s partially offsetting the furlough salary cuts this spring! (er, yay?)

            1. Rachel in NYC*

              Ooooh, I’m a little jealous. I’m at a private university. We’ve had massive losses this year- which I get, there were a lot of Covid-related sunk costs, so they’re trying to patch holes in the budget so no raises for us.

              1. Another Academic Librarian*

                Yeah, my university announced no raises for anyone (outside of tenure/promotion) this year even though they are part of our union contract. I would be thrilled to get a raise at all, tbh.

            2. Sparrow*

              I work at a public university and we are decidedly NOT getting any kind of raise this year. But everyone in my area of the university still has a job, they haven’t cut salaries, and we haven’t had furloughs, so it could be much, much worse. A lot of units are understaffed, though, because of routine departures not getting replaced – so I’ve been doing both my and my coworker’s job since her planned retirement this summer because they’re not filling open positions, and I got no raise at all. So it’s a mixed bag…

          2. Combinatorialist*

            “just be happy you’re getting something” is particularly helpful given the circumstances here. I would 100% be annoyed if my company had its *best year ever* because of COVID and then decided to give me my *worst raise ever* because of COVID. Like it’s scummy that they are using something that has been beneficial for them to justify treating their employees worse than they usually do.

            The only justification I can see for this is if they said “instead of our usual 1%, 2%, 3% raises based on reviews, we have decided to give everyone a 2% raise because we know that COVID has had disparate impacts on different groups and we don’t want to enshrine that into our salary structure.” Which I think is reasonable, but is giving them a lot of credit for motivation and they should communicate that if so.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This is where I’m at – talk to your manager. If it is a flat raise, then try to see if you can get the manager to advocate for more on your behalf because 2% is not sufficient for the amount or quality of work you completed this year (or whatever’s true for you).

      2. Engineer Woman*

        You should clarify this with your manager. Are the usual annual raises called “wage increases”? Could this actually be a one-off acknowledgement of the success during COVID and an across the board wage increase in addition to your usual 3%? (Although I would also expect a much more celebratory tone to the email if that were the case). It’s worth’s asking to know. But yeah, if you’re only getting 2% in a year of great success, that is stingy.

    2. Green Goose*

      I would have definitely been annoyed too, especially since they were comparing your situation to other companies who’ve had to lay people off since work was so slow/nonexistent. That seems particularly gross.

      1. Patrick Mahomes fan*

        That’s what irked me as well – our company (fortunately!) was impacted in the opposite way as most companies. So, there shouldn’t have been a comparison!

    3. Patrick Mahomes fan*

      I should also add…

      I think I’m sometimes too passive about my salary because my husband has a great job and makes a great salary (which I am thankful for!) But again, I think that occasionally prevents me from asking for a higher salary, even though average market rates would suggest that I’m a bit underpaid as it is.

      When I asked and received the 12% raise a few years ago, my husband was still in school getting his master’s, so I had more reason to ask for a big jump in pay since our combined income looked so different back then.

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        If you think you are being underpaid and you can show your manager why you bring value to the company, I would suggest you think about advocating for a raise that would at least bring you to the market rate for your industry in your area. Alison has many posts about this and language you could use. You should be paid your worth whether or not your husband receives a good income.

        1. Green Goose*

          Agreed! It’s always better to ask. I’ve followed this and it’s helped me improve my salary over the years.

      2. Artemesia*

        You only get one bite, but I would sure be thinking about a ‘clarifying conversation’ right away on the order of, ‘Since we are doing particularly well during the pandemic I assume we would be getting our regular raise or even a slight bump — so is this 2% on top of my usual performance based 3%.’

        I assume they are trying to use COVID to stiff everyone — but it is worth raising their consciousness.

      3. Tara*

        I know I do this too! My girlfriend earns double my salary, and covers a lot of the bills, so I feel like I shouldn’t ask because I don’t “need” the extra money. But it’s not about needing it, it’s about earning it and deserving it!

    4. Reality Biting*

      I’m guessing they’re hedging against the inevitable cratering of sales that is coming once people start getting vaccinated (since you said the current bump in sales is tied to–let’s face it–a temporary situation). Could they be trying to avoid ongoing obligations that will turn out to be unsustainable? Don’t know. Just guessing.

      1. Patrick Mahomes fan*

        That’s a reasonable thought. However, my company manufactures and sells products that are “necessities” even during non-covid and even recession times. Even in 2008, the company did not lay off a single employee, or cut salaries for anyone. Our business is one that will always have, at a minimum, steady sales. However, for more than the last decade plus, we’ve experienced continuous growth nationwide.

      2. TooTiredToThink*

        This was my exact thought as well – that perhaps they expect 2021 to be very bad, so therefore are hedging.

    5. Ashley*

      They maybe considering overall economic forecasts as some economists have suggested we are poised for a recession. I am not sure what your company sells but will vaccines and life returning to normal drop productivity next year? As an example if you make N95 masks and have been killing, the onset of a vaccine next year coupled with some hoarding and others finding other solutions for those masks, orders could be way down the second half of next year. It sounds like the 2% raise is more of a COLA type raise and not a merit raise so it might be annoying but still reasonable.

      1. NYCProf*

        I wonder if they’ve implemented a 2% raise for everyone, rather than differentiating, in recognition of the fact that this was an insane year when people’s ability to exceed expectations was really out of their hands (kids, illness, etc). Kind of like universities going pass/fail for the spring. Because if I’m reading this correctly, many people will be getting a higher raise than they would have otherwise. That might not be the best choice since it seems to already be annoying high performers like the OP, but just another way of thinking about the decision.

        1. SweetestCin*

          This was kind of where my thoughts wandered off to as well. That “because 2020”, they’re taking the easy way out. Metrics for my job (how many bids did we win and did we make sufficient money on them?) are relatively easy most years, but I freely admit that may not be the case in other industries.

          Those who’d typically get a 1% would be ecstatic, those who routinely get 3% aren’t going to be pleased, and those who get 2% aren’t going to notice one way or another.

          I don’t think I like it, but it may be the least problematic solution for this year for the majority of people in this particular organization.

      2. Patrick Mahomes fan*

        That’s a reasonable thought. However, my company manufactures and sells products that are “necessities” even during non-covid and even recession times – not just N95 masks (although we do sell those). Even in 2008, the company did not lay off a single employee, or cut salaries for anyone. Our business is one that will always have, at a minimum, steady sales. However, for more than a decade, we’ve experienced continuous growth nationwide year to year.

    6. Construction Safety*

      2% would just cover the increase in health insurance payroll deductions this year for me.
      As to the O.P., yeah, really tone deaf.

      1. Patrick Mahomes fan*

        I had that thought as well – doesn’t really translate to more money going into the bank!

    7. CupcakeCounter*

      So I’m in finance and have a slightly skewed perspective. My company is also having a banner year in sales revenue BUT we’ve also seen a HUGE increase in operating costs due to COVID. We have people split between operations and office and there was a huge outlay in costs to upgrade all office people’s computers to laptops that can support all of the systems (before we all had desktop computers and a couple laptops to pass around for one off WFH), a new VPN and servers, plus a stipend to set up home offices (chair, printer, etc…). Then on the operations teams we have been providing masks and other PPE for all 300+ people since March, all employees were paid during the initial shutdown for 4 weeks, paid time for anyone with COVID symptoms that was exposed at work, triple the cleaning costs as we now have a nightly sanitation and a between shift clean in addition to the regular cleaning taking place. There is a cost to doing things right and normally $1M in extra sales would mean equal $250k in profit is now only $15k – $20k.

      This might not be the case for your company, but just because it is a banner year in sales doesn’t mean it is hugely profitable.

      1. HRBee*

        So much this. I would in food manufacturing and our sales have increased dramatically as well (huge increase in our retail segment), but ours costs for PPE is outrageous. Biggest example off the top of my head is gloves. We used to pay $2 to $3 a box for disposable gloves. They’re now costing $30 a box.

    8. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Back in the “Great Recession,” my company crowed about how well they were doing… and then announced that “due to tough economic times” they were capping raises. Yeah….. it’s bull poopy.

    9. irene adler*

      So let me play Devil’s advocate for a bit.

      Okay, business is booming for 2020. But do you have any ‘feel’ for how the business EXPENSES have changed during this year? They may have increased dramatically due to COVID, just as your sales have increased. Profits may actually have shrunk during this time.

      Sourcing of raw materials (or components) for your product may have presented some difficult and costly challenges to keep product flowing. Do you know how these costs changed over this year? Did current vendors hike prices because they had to find new raw material sources? Or charge you to perform extra processing steps to provide what you need? Did the company need to find new raw material vendors to keep things going? This can increase costs, at least initially, while new vendor(s) are undergoing a validation process to qualify them.

      Was there a large outlay of funds to acquire more manufacturing equipment to meet your increased demand? That will eat into profits. Big time.

      Was there a large and unexpected outlay of computer equipment to allow WFH? That can eat into the profits.

      How did they replace the role of employee travel to accomplish business goals? Did they resort to the hiring of local contractors to visit customers or to audit vendors?

      My suggestion is to know how the money goes, before deciding management is being stingy. It may be that after costs level off (because they don’t need to pay for some of the big things mentioned above) they will realize larger profits and be able to maximize raises.

      1. tiny cactus*

        But even if this is the case, there is still a communication issue. I think it’s crappy to try to essentially tell employees that they should be happy with whatever they get because other companies are laying people off. It’s a 2020-flavored version of “you should be grateful to even have a job.” If management thinks there might be a disconnect between employee perceptions of their financial situation and the reality, they can treat employees like reasonable adults and explain it to them, rather than giving them a weird guilt trip.

        1. Natalie*

          Reading it as a guilt trip and “you should be grateful to have a job” is a choice to put the worst possible spin on what actually sounds like pretty normal meaningless corpo-speak.

        2. irene adler*

          True. Very true. A lot probably went on ‘behind the scenes’ financially. Nonetheless, this missive should have been communicated in a positive “look at how hard we all worked/what we accomplished ” aspect. NO ONE these days needs to be ‘reminded’ about wage cuts/freezes, furloughs, layoffs, and the like. WE all know the score.

    10. Hillary*

      I’m also in manufacturing – our sales are doing ok, but our non-labor costs are skyrocketing. Materials costs are all going up, expedites increase COGS because our suppliers can’t get parts, and freight is up dramatically. You don’t mention if you’re public or private, but you might find it interesting to look at your financials or at publicly traded companies in the same industry. 3M comes to mind – Q3 sales are up $400m YOY but net income is down $140m.

    11. Natalie*

      I guess I’ll go a little bit against the grain and say I really don’t think this is a big deal. I guess you can be annoyed – you’re always allowed to be annoyed by things – but I certainly wouldn’t raise this as an issue with anyone or even let it occupy much of my mental space.

      I think it’s likely they decided to do a fixed increase for everyone because this is a really difficult year to assess people’ performance, and they thought this was more fair. And, from the finance/accounting side of things, there is still a ton of political, economic, and social uncertainty. It’s hard to create a forecast one can be confident in; knowing that business should remain strong isn’t the same thing as knowing the actual numbers. And no one wants to walk an increase back.

      Additionally, something a lot of people outside of the finance department miss is the cash flow question. Revenue and expenses are recognized independent of when cash changes hands. Your company could easily be doing well on their P&L and well positioned for the long term, but have more limited liquid funds. And payroll, as you might imagine, represents an ongoing cash obligation.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with you. Just because a company is making lots of sales doesn’t mean they’re as profitable this year as they have been previously. Expenses have skyrocketed.

        I’m in banking. We’re a very small community bank, so we don’t have the deep pockets of the mega banks. We’ve waived fees for people much more than we usually do, we’re working with many people who can’t pay their mortgage or other loans, and fraud is through the roof–lots of COVID-related scams, unemployment fraud and stimulus check fraud. The C suite can make financial forecasts all day, but with all the uncertainty going on, there’s really no way to know how we’ll do in the coming year. We got a very minimal pay increase this year, which we wouldn’t have gotten had the CEO not pushed for it with the Board. It sucks to hear you’re getting only 2%, but it’s true that it could be much worse: lots of companies are cutting people, eliminating raises and/or bonuses, or are closing altogether.

    12. Qwerty*

      They didn’t say “you are fortunate”, but “we are fortunate to announce…” It sounds like the royal we, that is commonly used when the leadership is expressing themselves. It’s been a tough year – odds are that at the start of the pandemic that the leadership team had to come up with contingency plans and think about what their line would be for layoffs, so are they are feeling pretty good that the company is still afloat.

      It is also going to be hard to fairly judge performance this year, so it sounds like they gave everyone a break and went with the median raise level. No one is working in their ideal environment, and performance ratings this year are going to be really tough to judge.

    13. Firecat*

      Yeah that’s crap. My company did very well this year too. They gave us all a 10% bonus, extra vacation days, and regular raises.

    14. Mella*

      There may be legit good reasons (operating costs, hedging the future, etc.), but the wording is just bad.

      My company is giving everyone the maximum bonus this year, and sent out communication saying that they’re doing it despite the lack of profits, as a thank you for everyone rising to the challenge of this terrible year, and that management had taken a reduction in pay to make it possible. That’s how you do it.

      Depending on who you have access to, it might be worthwhile to do a soft inquiry about it, but only you can decide if you have the social capital to burn.

    15. Sam Foster*

      I’m offended that your company views 1-3% raises as some form of generosity when 2019 had an inflation rate year to date, YTD of 2.28%.
      Also, what do the problems of other companies have to do with yours? Do you get a bonus when other companies exceed expectations.
      Your employer is taking advantage of their people so even if the 2% is some sort of blanket bonus it is time for you to look for a different job.

  2. Green Goose*

    I just returned to work from maternity leave and my former manager, Lisa, who I had worked with for years resigned while I was out. I now have a new manager, Fergus, who I’ve peripherally worked with before. I’ve been at the company for years and worked hard and build a good reputation for myself, but now that I have a little baby who is at home (covid) I’m just not going to be able to be the same employee I once was, at least not at first. I wasn’t worried about this with Lisa because I have years of good credit of working overtime and on weekends when needed so I knew she would give me grace during this time since she knew me from before.
    I’m still getting up to speed with everything and I’m noticing that Fergus works a lot. He is up online sending emails hours before I log on and he has meetings scheduled until at least 6:30 when its company culture to finish at 5. He’s already needed to call me into 4:30 meetings because that was the only time he was available and then those meetings have dragged on. He hasn’t asked about childcare or what I need so it doesn’t seem on his radar.
    I know I’m going to have to talk with him when my childcare situation changes again in a few weeks but I wanted some advice for how to go about it. He has a lot of last-minute asks and wants us to innovate a lot, and he seems like the type that works a lot and expects his team to as well. I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot but I’m worried that this will be an issue because I’m not going to be able to work at certain times because of childcare needs.

    1. BlueBelle*

      Congratulations on your new baby :)
      I would start the conversation by asking him what his expectations are of his team. Let him talk about availability and response times. Just because he sends an email at 6:30 AM doesn’t mean he expects you to respond. We often make assumptions about one’s expectations based on their behavior. It sounds like he might be newish to his role and is still getting up to speed too, also I know that because of COVID and not having anything to do or anywhere to go I sometimes work a lot longer hours than I did before.
      So let him start laying out what his expectations are. If he doesn’t say specifics- like availability and response times, ask! You can say “I often notice I get emails from you outside of my normal work time of 8-5, when that happens are you expecting me to respond then or are these things that will wait until I am on?” He may to even realize that is the perception. If he books a 4:30 meeting, you can tell him that you have a hard stop at 5:00, and do not have to explain why.

      Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

      1. Artemesia*

        I wouldn’t ask him, I’d tell him ‘I assume that although you often send emails after work hours that you don’t expect a response till the next work day; if something is extremely urgent I assume you will give me a heads up.’

        And early on let him know that you need advance notice of meetings and requests so you can fit them into your schedule. The I am happy to get things like those last minute TPS reports done, but I need a little advance warning as I have some fixed schedules I have to work around.

    2. Haha Lala*

      Yay for a new baby!
      I’d also keep in mind that his schedule may also be affected by covid, especially if you’re working from home. Maybe he’s working late or early to make up for taking time out to doing something else during the day.
      Or if becoming your manager also meant a promotion for him, maybe he’s intentionally putting in extra time to look good in his new position. (Is he a new manager? He might not realize he needs to consider your work schedule too..)

      The change in childcare is a great opportunity to address this with him and make sure you are both on the same page. Good luck!

    3. NowWhat?465*

      Congratulations! Slightly different, but I had a new manager start three weeks before COVID hit my area and I was off on vacation for one of those weeks so we didn’t have a ton of time to get to know each other prior everything. She is also one to frequently be on email until late in the evening and pull me into 4:30/4:45 calls just to catch me up on something. However, I’ve never felt expected to match her for a few reasons 1) I’m usually specifically told when I’m expected to work outside my regular hours/what tasks require working outside my regular hours 2) I’m technically an hourly employee, not salary. Several months in she admitted that she felt like she had to put in the extra hours just to catch up on where the last person left off and get her bearings straight. Normally she would have the benefit of grabbing lunch with other people, or popping her head into the next office to ask for context about something, but not in this age. It’s definitely mellowed out with time, though she still pulls the occasional odd hour here and there.

      I would definitely follow BlueBelle’s advice of asking what his expectations are. It’s likely he doesn’t expect you to follow his same schedule, or he doesn’t realize that his schedule isn’t possible for you.

    4. PX*

      I agree with Artemesia above. Go into the conversation and tell him what you need (dont ask him what he expects because then if the answer isnt something that works for you, you are already on the back foot if you need to disagree). If you want to go into this conversation and reference your previous performance, thats also something you could do to help reinforce the idea that you are a hard worker, but current circumstance means things are a little off right now.

      So you can certainly ask that meeting invites are sent at least a day in advance so you can prepare, or when you get a last minute ask, simply say that you can only start working on it “tomorrow” as opposed to “that evening”.

      Also, dont be afraid to enforce your own boundaries around things like not checking emails after 5pm or on weekends. Often people will follow your lead on things like this, so if you just dont do it, their expectations will adjust accordingly.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Just lay out your availability so both side can manage expectations. “Fergus, just so you know I have a hard stop at X time in order to get to daycare before it closes and then will be unavailable until baby goes to bed at Y. I will check messages at that time but, unless it is a true emergency, I will not work on it until the next day.”

      I’ve had bosses who are like this – my current boss being one of them. He’ll start emailing us at 5/6am but then be offline for 2-3 hours a couple time during the day then pick up again late in the evening. If he truly needs something from us he will call but never before 7am or after 7pm. We quickly figured out he is an early riser and work for several hours in the morning before his family is up and then spends time with them during their various breaks throughout the day. He takes No for an answer shockingly well as long as he has some context (i.e. Sorry I can’t make that meeting as my kids daycare closes at 6 vs just a meeting decline notice in Outlook).

      1. Alice*

        I’m glad that worked for you but I hate it when people need “justification” for reasonable work life boundaries.
        My declines don’t usually have a justification as context (if the justification is my personal life as opposed to a work conflict), but often I explain how I’ll catch up with the meeting outcomes — following up with someone in my department who’s going to be there, or reading the minutes, whatever. So “context” doesn’t necessarily have to be a justification.

      2. Double A*

        I wouldn’t offer to check email after the baby is in bed. You need a break too for yourself; you shouldn’t just be off work when you’re actively caring for the baby, you should be off work for set hours except in special circumstances.

        If there’s something truly urgent, you can offer that he can text you but I would expect that would be very rare.

          1. Momma Bear*

            It can be very challenging to resume work after the birth of a child. I agree to take time for yourself and not let work bleed into the night because the baby happens to be asleep for five minutes. You’ll need that down time to cope with the 3AM screaming or the 5:30 blow out diaper that requires a complete bath and sheet change.

            If he’s your new boss, why not ask for a clarification/get to know you better meeting? Clarify his thoughts about your role, your return from leave, etc. Find out if there are any projects on the horizon you may not be aware of. Take this time to also discuss your general “tour of duty” hours so you have an appropriate work/life balance.

            When my kid was tiny, I had a hard stop at 5:30 to get to the daycare on time. It was not negotiable. I was willing to come in earlier but could not stay later. If your new life schedule means you can’t stay past x time, he needs to know that. Our daycare would have kicked us out if we were late more than 3x.

        1. Green Goose*

          That’s what I was thinking. I’ve had a lot of people say, “you can do work after the baby goes to bed” and to me, that’s the time I need to relax just a little before passing out myself. I definitely don’t want to spend every moment I’m not actively momming at work!

    6. Alice*

      Email is asynchronous! By all means raise it with him if it will make you feel more comfortable to clarify that “when he sends” and “when he expects you to read and act on what he sent” are different. Until someone acts unreasonable I would assume he’s going to be reasonable.
      About scheduling for 90 minutes after the normal end of business in your org — that is weird and worrying. But can possibly be addressed with a conversation too. Good luck.

    7. Teapot Automation*

      When Oldest Child was born, I return from maternity leave to a new manager. We had a lot of static that took me a long time to figure out, including a poor Annual Review score which had to be amended. Turns out the old manager had NOT told the new manager about our agreement that I would be WFH 2 days a week. All new manager saw was that I returned to work, told him I would be WFH the next day, and that was that. Please communicate. Talk to your team mates to get a feel for his style and how their communications with him have gone. When you talk to him, clearly articulate what you and Lisa had talked about regarding your return. Let him know what you CAN do, i.e. ‘Thanks for letting me know that meeting is happening! I’ll look for the recording the next day’ or ‘Here are my notes that may come in handy for you! I can’t be at the meeting but look forward to hearing the results.’

    8. Quinalla*

      Just talk to him about it. And come with a plan more for his FYI/approval, don’t come to him asking him to figure it out for you. If you need to block out times in your calendar – do that – if you need to work whenever the baby is napping – tell him that – whatever it is lay it out and keep him updated as things change. I’m doing school with my kids (we had hybrid for about a month, but now back to full distance learning) from 8-2:30 with a break for lunch and I have that entire time blocked on my calendar. Do I check emails and attend some meetings? Sure, but for the most part I am not working during that time and I’ve let my managers and peers know that and also that just because I’m sending an email at 5:30am or 9:00pm, I certainly don’t expect a response until their normal working hours. For outside clients, I don’t send that early or late unless it is someone I know well, but for in-house I have been because so many are work odd schedules, I figure get it to them as soon as possible so they can deal with it whenever it fits in their life.

      Anyway, good luck and right now a lot of people are having to set unusual boundaries. Oh for the days when I worried about the optics of leaving a hour or two early once a week to get kids to soccer practice LOL, seems so silly nowadays :)

      And of course, tailor to your job/culture, but for me getting work done by deadlines and working 40-45 hours a week is my expectation. Normally we have core hours, but right now we have whatever flexibility we need. I’ve made the decision to keep my kids out of daycare since both my husband and I are working from home to leave those spots for people who need them and also for added safety for my family and I’m lucky to be able to make that choice and still have my job.

    9. Natalie*

      I’ve found it super awkward to have a new manager under the current circumstnces, especially when there are other new/changing things like a baby. I agree you should just raise it with him and have your proposed schedule and availability laid out. You’ll find out soon enough if he is reasonable or unreasonable, and until then don’t borrow trouble.

      What I would add is, be aware that you will likely need to make changes as time passes and your baby gets older. I returned from work when my daughter was 3 months old, and initially it was very easy to work and watch her. But around 5 months old, she started to want more active attention from me if she could see me, so I decided to bring in more child care and do a split shift on some days. Don’t hesitate to reevaluate if you suddenly realize things aren’t working, it’s pretty hard to predict what a baby will need until they are at that stage.

    10. whocanpickone*

      I am a manager who sends emails at crazy hours, and I just want to echo the folks saying to just talk to him. I know that for myself, early morning/late night is just when I get to emails and I do not expect a response at that time. In fact, I would be surprised to get one.

      However, the being available for late meetings at short notice is a little more concerning. Giving a hard stop deadline should help.

    11. not that Leia*

      Agreed with all suggestions above. But also, is there anyone you trust at your company that is maybe parallel to Ferguson that you could check in with before talking to him to get a “lay of the land”? I have found that if you can go into that kind of conversation with backup confirmation that what you’re proposes in line with other company approaches, it can help to reduce feelings of defensiveness. FWIW, basic work-life balance including caretaking accommodations shouldn’t be an accommodation, it should be a default.

    12. Observer*

      You got some good suggestions.

      The one other thought I had was, under what circumstances did Lisa resign? That could affect how Fergus looks at you.

    13. CatMintCat*

      My current boss is a night owl and it is not uncommon to get emails from him between 11pm and 3am. He openly says this is his quirk, and he sends them when he thinks of them, and there is no obligation on us to reply until normal business hours in the morning. In fact, he would be cranky with us if we did respond.

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

      A new boss taking over is an interesting dynamic for sure. It’s usually the case that if one was underperforming when working for the old boss, typically there isn’t a “blank slate” as any in-progress PIPs and what not will just get carried over to the new boss with no chance of a new start. On the other hand though, if like Green Goose one was an excellent out-performer, it’s likely that they will be starting from scratch with the new boss having a ‘neutral’ view of them to start with!

      Are you still in contact with Lisa? Are you able to find out from her how much she “handed over” to Fergus in terms of your “years of good credit” as you put it, all the times you went over and above, exceeded expectations, etc?

  3. Mike Gormley*

    Can anyone advise on background check screenings? I’m in the process of landing a new job and had a few questions regarding employment verification. I recently interviewed for a call center customer service role last week. They just extended an offer of employment; now I have to print out and sign a one-page background consent form and also take a drug test. I’ve never done drugs so I’m not worried about that at all, but I did leave a previous employer on bad terms…I don’t know how background checks work/what it might reveal.

    When I applied on the company’s website, I filled out my employment history in the appropriate section. One thing which struck me as a bit odd, however, is that there wasn’t a “May We Contact? Yes or No” box to select when filling out the employment section (usually, you’ll see something like that when filling out a job app). It did ask the typical stuff like company name, job title, city, and phone (they listed this as “supervisor phone number”). I actually left the phone number part blank for all my employers. There was a professional reference section where I had to list 3 references with at least one being a supervisor. I think this is what they were most concerned with because when the HR screener called to set up the interview and prior to me filling out the online application, she told me to make sure to fill out the references section. They called my 3 references the following day after my interview and then immediately offered me the position.

    The company just e-mailed my drug screen information and also the background consent form which is called “Consumer Report and Disclosure Form” where I have to list my name, DOB, SSN, Driver’s License, and a “Yes or No” question about if I have ever been convicted of a criminal offense during the past 7 years. There is also a few extra pages telling me about my rights and stuff under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I don’t see anything about employment verification on there or anything, but there is a paragraph where the Disclosure is at the top of the page which says…

    “These reports may include the following types of information: names and dates of previous employers, reason for termination of employment, work experience, accidents, academic history, professional credentials, and drug/alcohol use. Such reports may contain public record information concerning your driving record, workers’ compensation claims, credit, bankruptcy proceedings, criminal records, etc…, from federal, state, and other agencies which maintain such records. Investigative consumer reports may include information as to your character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living.”

    Do you guys think this background check will provide any employment history/verification as well or simply a criminal check and drug screen? Thanks for your help!

    1. Paddling as fast as I can*

      I worked in a place where we did background checks. What we were mostly looking for was criminal records and credit things of this type of nature. Background checks are to make sure you are reasonably hire worthy and you don’t have a extensive criminal record you forgot to mention. Back ground checks are pretty common and pretty painless unless you are hiding a lot

      1. academic lab tech*

        One question I have about that is if they expect you to unfreeze your credit for these types of checks? It’s rather a hassle to unfreeze credit in my experience, but I suppose if it was for a job I would.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      They’ll likely also perform an employment verification as well. Every company I’ve worked for who’ve made you complete those forms did.

      1. Mike Gormley*

        Thanks for the comments, guys.

        Just to be clear in case I was confusing in my original post. While I did submit employment history on the job application for the employer, there was nothing on the third-party background check’s consent form requiring me to fill out employment history or anything like that. It just asked me yes or no to any criminal convictions and something about my rights for credit reporting.

        If they’re gonna verify employment history, would I need to have filled out a separate form for that and list the employers? Is that usually how it works?

    3. Sunflower*

      They will all but certainly do an employment verification. Usually, they just call HR and verify dates worked and title. They won’t talk to your manager or ask about skills. They might ask how you left the position (ie voluntary or involuntary)

      As long as you were truthful in the facts of your employment, I wouldn’t worry about a bad relationship with a past manager impacting this- esp if you were asked to provide reference and they already called them.

      1. Nicki Name*

        This! The most extensive background check I ever had wanted salary history as well as dates of employment, but they had zero interest in performance information.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just went through the background check process. They checked all of my employers going back seven years as well as court and criminal records, plus they checked my education history.

      As far as I know, there are different ways to do it, but the one I went through specifically told me that they verified employment– they didn’t check references. I don’t think they even asked why I left a job. As in, the questions were just, “Did she work here and what were the dates.” Oddly, and in my favor, the one place where I left on bad terms has since gone out of business, but I just provided an old pay stub for verification.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        This is the same process I just went through for my current job, except they went back 10 years instead of 7.

    5. Ginger Grant*

      I used to work for a company that conducted third party background checks and we had forms that were very similar to what you’ve described. The level of detail depended on what our clients wanted, so for some we just did criminal searches and for others we did more extensive stuff like reference checking/employment verification/education verification. Because the scope varied from client to client, we had a standard disclosure form that would cover everything that might be looked into and explained rights under the FCRA.

      For us, reference checks and employment verification were separate services that some clients wanted and others didn’t. If we were doing both, we would verify all of the employment history in that section of the form (just job title and dates) and then we would contact the listed references listed in the reference section. So in your situation, if you didn’t list the employer that you left on bad terms as a reference, we wouldn’t have contacted them for that purpose, but if you listed them in your employment history we would call that employer for the employment verification (but if you didn’t list a specific phone number/contact name, our calls usually ended up being directed to HR instead of former supervisors anyways). Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like they wanted this information more as part of the hiring process rather than as part of the background check. Hope this info is somewhat helpful!

      1. Mike Gormley*

        Hi Ginger,

        The consent form I filled out for the background check company did not require listing any employers or anything like that. I did fill out employment history on the job application for the employer a couple weeks ago when I applied for the job. Would the background check company try to use that? Or would they require me to fill out a specific employment history form with them to verify?

        The only thing I remember seeing on the background check form was a “Yes or No” for any criminal convictions, and a few extra pages about my rights for credit reporting. I didn’t see anything about listing employment which is why I don’t know if they will still try and verify employment or not.

        1. Ginger Grant*

          At my company, if our form didn’t ask for employment details, that would be an indicator twist we weren’t verifying employment because we had specific information we asked for to make the process go more smoothly. I’m not sure that this would be the case across the board, because their process might involve getting that info directly from their client (your future employer). If you were contacted by a person from the third-party background check company you can also reach out to them and ask what the background check will entail/if they are going to do employment verification! Candidates definitely reached out to me to ask after submitting their forms so if you’re concerned about that I would say it’s not out of the realm of normalcy to ask.

    6. Ann Cognito*

      Yes, it’s highly likely. I work in HR and the reports come back with company name, job title and dates employed. That’s all – we do references ourselves, separate to the background check. But we do make sure that the job info matches what the candidate put on the application form.

  4. coldfeet*

    Do you have to put all of your past jobs on a background check form if they weren’t on your resume?

    I’ve gotten a job offer and am anticipating a background check soon. I left my current job off my resume, since I’ve only been there 5 months. I didn’t talk about my current job in the interview. Should I still include it in a background check form, if I end up needing to do that?

    For context, this is not a government job or for anything related to security clearances, but I imagine this new employer has some run-of-the-mill standard background check.

    1. BlueBelle*

      Yes, put it on your background check. If you don’t the background company will see it and they will flag it back to the company, which could then cause problems or raise questions.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      You should put it on because some of those forms have a clause at the end that says that when you sign it, you attest that you’ve provided complete and accurate information. The clause also says you can be let go if they discover you actually haven’t provided complete and accurate info. If your application doesn’t have that clause, then you may be able to get away with the omission.

    3. Weekend Please*

      Yes. Your resume is not expected to be an exhaustive list of every job you have ever had. An employment history/verification form is expected to be an exhaustive list. Leaving it off will look like you are hiding something.

    4. Mella*

      I don’t think I’m capable of providing an exhaustive list. I’m done a ton of one-off freelance jobs over the past couple of decades, some even paid by a single “petty cash” business check. I keep my taxes longer than 7 years, but they wouldn’t provide that level of detail.

      1. Natalie*

        A company that hires you for freelance work is a client, not an employer. “Standard” level background checks wouldn’t usually expect to check with all of your clients if you were self employed for some period.

      2. Quinalla*

        For freelance, I think you could provide that under one heading and perhaps list or offer to give them some of your bigger clients. I’d consider freelancing as “whatever” your job, not your clients.

    5. coldfeet*

      Thanks, all! There seems to be clear consensus to include it in an employment verification form! That’s what I’ll do.

  5. Kimmy Schmidt*

    How has the pandemic changed your workload? Do you have more work, less work, more sporadic work? Is it more cyclical, more in spurts, the highs are crazy busy but the lows are dead, more even than ever before?

    1. Escaped a Work Cult*

      Honestly I’ve had to fight scope creep with my clients more than ever before. At first it was allowed in order to cover some web work but now it’s expected all the time. Fighting back has been a hassle.

    2. bunniferous*

      Mine is in the toilet, albeit for a good reason-foreclosures and evictions have been in moratorium. I sell VA foreclosures-usually when I get them people are already long gone from the property but not always. (I have been foreclosed on myself in the past, so I do understand.). I know that once those moratoriums are lifted it is going to be CRAZY. This is not really great for any of us for obvious reasons. I wonder if people really realize the full impact of what Covid has already done to our society and will continue to do even after the vaccine, etc.

      1. academic lab tech*

        That’s an interesting job! Do you think a bunch of foreclosures are going to come all at once? My impression was that banks are trying to avoid that, but I think the dialogue has mostly been focused around evictions where I am

        1. bunniferous*

          Very possible. I know that in general they do want to space them out some because this truly would impact the real estate industry as a whole. This whole year has been a wild ride and next year should be …..interesting.

          1. academic lab tech*

            idk about you, but where I am real estate has been super hot so I suppose they would want to ride that wave of high prices.

    3. Web Crawler*

      Mine’s exactly the same as a entry-level programmer in the financial industry. My project lost some people, but they adjusted our deadlines rather than piling more work on. (For which I’m very grateful.)

    4. Christina*

      I feel like other than an insane amount of work at the very beginning when we had 5 weeks to completely rebuild an event from the ground up, it’s been really slow – even now around our year-end giving campaign, there were a few busy days but overall nothing crazy. I feel somewhat badly about that – I know there’s stuff I could be working on – but it’s hard getting up the energy or ambition to do it when I can show the results of what I have been doing have been really good.

      I know I’ll need to give myself a kick in the pants after the new year when my energy just tanks, but right now going into the holidays I figure I’ll just enjoy it a bit longer.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I know I’ll need to give myself a kick in the pants after the new year when my energy just tanks, but right now going into the holidays I figure I’ll just enjoy it a bit longer.

        This is kinda where I am, except my energy will kick back up again (barring no more personal tragedies going into the new year) because I’ll be coming back from a two week break.

    5. Overeducated*

      My actual workload is pretty much the same, even if the timing and organization of my days has changed a lot due to remote work. I guess I am lucky to be in a sector and department that is, so far, not affected in terms of our core responsibilities and operational funds.

    6. not at one*

      For me it has increased, mainly because I’ve had to pick up for a coworker who has child care challenges. I’ve given up hope that those will ever get sorted out, so it is what it is. But man am I exhausted!

    7. Diahann Carroll*

      I do two separate things in my current role. One half of my job is slow because companies are slowing down on their purchasing right now, so RFP/RFI releases are trickling in. Plus, it’s almost the holidays and we’re always slow around this time.

      The other half of my job is full steam ahead, but I rely on other departments/divisions to get my work done and a lot of those people are either swamped with other work that doesn’t overlap with mine or they’re juggling Covid life stuff right now and aren’t working very quickly. I expect that when schools and stuff start opening back up, we’ll be slammed again.

    8. CheeryO*

      State government in an essential industry unrelated to the pandemic – I’m less busy. There’s enough routine work to justify my existence, but new projects have slowed dramatically because the grants that help fund them are mostly on hold. I assume the pendulum will swing in the other direction within the next year since the state will likely be offering retirement incentives to balance the budget, and we’ll lose probably half of our staff.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Also I state employee here. I live in true terror of our legislature doing an early out to try to balance the budget. It seems likely. Also, like we’re going to drown in our already understaffed, very covid impacted office.

    9. Sherm*

      More work all the time. I help out various higher-ups at my organization, and now that they are not going to conferences, or even traveling on personal vacations so much, or meeting people who are visiting them, they’ve had the time to say “Hey! Let’s work on this project.” Late September to Late November (including most of Thanksgiving “vacation”) was particularly brutal. Things are finally slowing down, since December doesn’t traditionally have many deadlines for us.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do medical coding for ancillary services (primarily labs) and the emergency departments for the largest medical system in my state. Busy busy busy.

    11. Nicki Name*

      My work is adjacent to an industry that’s gotten a lot of attention with the pandemic going on. My workload hasn’t changed, but priorities have shifted.

    12. Architect in TX*

      I work for a large firm that is known for workplace interiors, so it’s been a mix:
      In March, my firm had layoffs. Mostly (around 20% in some offices) in states where construction was shut down. Texas kept construction sites open, but even our office had some layoffs and furloughs. Personally, my work load went up, since I absorbed work from laid off coworkers.
      Summer – mostly steady, some clients were eager to do construction while everyone was working from home (no overtime pay, less coordinating with neighbors, wanting a new space when this is “over”). Still didn’t bring back furloughed staff.
      Fall/winter – slowing down, a combination of rethinking what the office will be, and a few clients (just this week) saying to pause until after the holidays. The new projects coming in are smaller, things like de-densify/rearrange workspaces in older offices

    13. A Teacher*

      On my lunch break–remote teaching from home to public high school students. I hate it. We are expected to give grace, okay–but my district is now wanting us to not have any accountability and in some cases manufacture grades. Not happening. I spend way more time on the computer than ever before and even when we do the tests and assignments in class, kids aren’t doing them–at least some aren’t. No one wants to turn on cameras so essentially I’ve felt like a broadcaster talking to orbs on a screen since last march. Kids will chat to me in private chat but many won’t talk out loud. Converting curriculum, especially in a vocational class that is usually hands on, is challenging to say the least. Topics that used to take 1 class period take 3-3.5 class periods at minimum. Our COVID numbers are high and I understand why we are remote but I am not loving it. I miss the tangential conversations, the interactions, the hands on, the relationships. I hate talking to myself and staring at a computer. Sigh.

    14. Sylvan*

      Copywriter here. Same workload. However, there are now many more cleaning companies and fewer salons and spas than there were before the pandemic.

    15. Choggy*

      My company, before the pandemic, was traditionally no WFH. Now, the majority of the office staff work from home, and getting them to that point was a huge lift (I work in IT). We got everyone situated, and then we had a hardware upgrade, which surprisingly went very smooth, everyone had their own 1/2 hour timeslot to come into the office and drop off their old/pick up their new equipment. I’ve been non-stop busy the entire 9 months, and it’s only this week that I’ve had any real downtime, though I still have plenty to do tying up end of year tasks. I was going to take on one more project (software upgrade) but thankfully our consultants were not ready so it’s been pushed of a few weeks. All in all, I was very grateful for the distraction of work!

    16. whocanpickone*

      So incredibly busy. I work for an engineering/ construction firm doing supply chain and our projects were all deemed essential. It’s been nonstop. I need a vacation.

    17. R342*

      Things are pretty much the same for me – I was already a homeworker and my part of the organisation hasn’t been hugely affected by covid (some parts got quiet and other parts mega busy).

      My main thing was that at first my work seemed very meaningless, which…. usually I get A LOT of meaning out of my work but I was working on something from before the pandemic which felt very pointless. That was really hard. But after a couple of months I switched on to something much better that feels meaningful again.

      I really miss the office though :( haven’t been in since early March and probably won’t be back in before Easter. I miss seeing people’s faces. Obviously I’m a home worker but usually I’d go in a day a week.

    18. Kate H*

      More work, but only in part because of the pandemic. My company is doing better than expected (some product lines have exploded with pandemic-related demand) but upper management also thought now would be a *great* time for a complete reorganization of the company that doubled my workload. My work used to be cyclical and now it’s either “high” or “buried alive high.”

    19. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We had less work for a while– our clients’ business really suffered so they cut back on our services– but once things ramped up, my workload got heavier. This wasn’t necessarily because I had more projects but because we laid a couple of people off and I had to take over their tasks.

    20. Square Root of Minus One*

      Diminished by about twenty percent according to the number of reports written compared to last year, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. My time card has gone crazy. It’s the first year I’ve passed the glass ceiling of maximum overtime (20 minutes, but still, last year I didn’t even come close to the max at any point).
      We’ve taken on support projects that are really time-consuming, and, in three months, the four of us had two long sick leaves – one Covid-related, one broken bone. This has taken its toll on us all.

    21. My 2 cents*

      I work in IT for a healthcare organization. My workload has exploded since last March. This was also complicated by both my coworkers quitting leaving me alone to do the work. Basically I have Been expected to produce the work of 3 people but with tighter deadlines. They finally got me some help in August and it is finally getting better. The amount of work is still increased but at least there are 3 of us.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        still swamped. 2 of us were already doing the jobs of 3…then a reorg, supposed loss of revenue, interesting leadership choices…and they laid off 3 of the other team members and replaced with one. It’s inhumane. Need to get off of here and work on my resume. So tired.

    22. Middle Manager*

      Drastically more work, but working in a health care adjacent government agency, that’s not really surprising. Also, we’ve lost several staff and have a hiring freeze, so…we’re at our breaking point pretty much daily.

    23. Rara Avis*

      Lots more work. I’m a teacher so I have to recreate all my lessons to work virtually. We just had a meeting with an appreciation circle where people kept praising their team members — but I’m the only chinchilla trainer so I have no team support. It was hard not to be jealous of the llama, alpaca, etc., teams who can split the workload.

    24. CSR by Day*

      The workload in my workplace has increased substantially. I was furloughed for a full month because of the pandemic, but there are other departments in my employer that were shut down for a full 3 and a half months. Because of this, there is a terrible backlog of work that hasn’t yet been processed and I’m being deluged with phone calls about checks that haven’t been cashed, correspondence that hasn’t been acted on, complaints about applications that haven’t been processed, and information that hasn’t been updated, etc., as well as the usual complaints about having to wait for extended periods of time to on hold to talk to someone. It seem to me that with the calls I get, since the pandemic hit the people are more upset and stressed-out about things and more frantic in getting them resolved.

      If we want to, we can work overtime to help get caught up and it hasn’t been made mandatory as of yet. So far, I haven’t worked any overtime, because, I find that for myself, there’s a fair amount of “emotional labor” involved in the customer service aspect of my job, and I kind of feel like I don’t have much more left to give after 40 hours. It would be so nice to have some dead time.

    25. allathian*

      My actual workload is pretty much the same as it ever was, although we’re outsourcing a bit more than we used to do. Thankfully we have the budget for outsourcing, or some stuff just wouldn’t get done. I’m salaried, we keep track of working hours for resourcing and budgeting purposes, but I don’t get paid overtime. Any overtime hours are put in a bank and we’re supposed to take time off when the workload permits us to so so. With my current banked working hours I could take a full week off, but I don’t see that happening any time soon, especially given our already generous vacation policies.

  6. Escaped a Work Cult*

    When do you know when you’re considered mid-level? I’ve been working in small businesses running many projects as a lead but I still find myself pausing before moving out from entry-level. I have about 4 years of manager experience at this time, though a chunk of time was as a retail manager and a one person department. Any thoughts?

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        Thank you! I think I’m battling imposter syndrome and the good old “you must have 5 years experience” phrasing which is why I ask.

  7. Mella*

    Is there a general consensus on the volatility of jobs being advertised during the pandemic? On one hand, hiring during tumultuous times could signal a well-run operation that weathers storms successfully. Or does it seem more risky, like they don’t “read the room” well, and may tend towards instability?

    I get that this can vary by field, but I’m floundering from indecision. 2001 and 2008 have left me so gunshy, I’m afraid to take any chances–but I’m also afraid to stagnate.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      No general consensus, no. You just have to apply to things and see what they say in the interview when you ask about their stability. (You can also research this yourself for many companies ahead of time.)

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. If a company is otherwise stable or in a growth industry, then it would be worth taking the chance to apply. Our company has been hiring, though more slowly than in the past. The slowness has been caution not instability.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I mean, nothing is certain. That said, if a company is hiring, it’s possible that they’re in a growth mode. Many companies are hurting because of the pandemic, but some are thriving (depending on what kind of industry they’re in). Again, you can’t know anything with 100% certainty, but given what type of company it is and the type of work it does, does it seem like the sort of thing that would go under if the pandemic extends longer than expected or if the pandemic ends sooner than expected?

    3. 404 04 04 4*

      If a company is hiring, it means they have positions and want to fill them. Not all companies are having a bad time of thing now; my current place is chugging along as it always has been, so we’re filling jobs at a normal rate. There’s no room to read ;)

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I’ve been applying casually for the past few years or so but started to ramp up in the past few months. I’ve had much more traction in the last two months than I’ve had in those 3 years. It’s wild! I’m also applying for recruiting-related roles, so it’s even wilder. Most companies have been solid.

      One company I bowed out of because they laid off their recruitment team in May due to Covid and then had a few good months and were looking to hire more for their team. The interview was in Nov and went very well but the headcount for 2021 got pushed back twice, to the end of the year. With that headcount not solidified, the role wasn’t necessarily available, so with that situation being a little precarious, I withdrew. Who’s to say that if things tanked in the spring again, I wouldn’t be out of a job? I also had other interviews going on that were active and solid.

      Otherwise it’s been pretty robust, considering.

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I can say at my giant org that we have to go through a lot of permissions in order to be allowed to hire people now. So if you get hired, it’s really needed….but it won’t be a quiet, easy job either. More like, the work load is so hard they need to hire and successfully argued it through three layers of higher-ups.

    6. Quinalla*

      No general consensus, just means they have a job opening. I wouldn’t read into someone having or not having a job opening as you don’t know if they are growing, had someone quit or what those reasons were from bad to good to neutral, etc.

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

      I don’t think it’s possible to generalise, although as some of the other comments have mentioned, it ‘may’ be possible to probe this a bit further in the interview (though of course, critical thinking and a healthy dose of scepticism still needs to be applied!)

      I haven’t applied for jobs during the pandemic, but was applying during the Recent Recession of 2008 (global financial crisis) which was in some ways similar, and it was really hard to differentiate “companies who are in crisis mode and they have a hiring freeze but an exception was made for the Llama Groomer position because of critical contracts” vs “they are in growth mode” vs “they haven’t been that much affected either way, and the position is available just because the last person had been there 5 years, got everything they could out of it and then moved out of the company to take the next step in their career”.

      I do think that companies offering anyone a ‘permanent’ role (vs. one that is known to have a fixed duration or to be ‘temp’ so that’s the expectation at the outset) have a moral duty to reasonably believe that the role is actually sustainable for at least a year, say. I can be a bit idealistic about things sometimes but I feel it’s unconscionable to hire someone into a role, having them leave behind the stability of their existing role in favour of a ‘better’ opportunity, knowing (but not disclosing) that the company is in trouble and will need to lay off that role imminently.

      It happened to someone I worked with — recruited for a role then laid off (for company reasons, not a firing disguised as a layoff) 5 months later. Long enough that your old role has already been filled so you can’t go back to your old company – short enough that potential new employers are now going to be asking questions about staying power etc.

      The worst imo is when multiple people are taken on close together (in time) on permanent but with a probation period of (e.g.) 3 months, with the intention all along being to keep the ‘best’ of the new recruits and part ways with the others during/at the end of the probation period, as there is actually only a budget and headcount for 1 person.

  8. Beancat*

    Wish me luck…I just found out I have to have surgery (again – third time in three years) and I have to tell my new employer of less than six months, after I’ve already had to take a lot of time for appointments for this condition. I’m really nervous about approaching them, so any good vibes or advice would be very appreciated!

    1. burnoutisreal*

      Sending you lots of good vibes! Sorry to hear that you have to go through this yet again. I wish you a speedy recovery. (I also have no good advice, I’m sorry!)

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you for the vibes! I’m legitimately so over this condition. This is the third time in three years, but the fourth time since I was a teenager. Recovery seems to get a bit easier every time though, so fingers crossed for this time!

    2. Lentils*

      Best of luck to you, in both the surgery and in telling them! I really hope they’re understanding and accommodating.

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you, me too! I do work for a practitioner – different field – so I hope that will help with understanding.

    3. Champagne Cocktail*

      Oh wow that’s a lot to cope with.

      When you approach, I recommend trying to be positive, but realistic. “the doctor says I need X. Recovery time is expected to be Y weeks. I can return to work, ideally, on z/z/zz.”

      If you think it’s possible, with working from home you may be able to go back part-time for a while before return to full-time hours. I think an approach that shows your job is important, yet sets firm boundaries and expectations to your boss will help.

      Best wishes for an easy procedure and no complications

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you! The good part is I do work for a practitioner (totally different field), but I’m hoping that just being matter of fact about what I need and what I can do will make things easier.

        I did draw up some potential solutions and thoughts to help cover, so I hope she can see that I really do care and want to help this place succeed even if I’m out for two weeks!

    4. Beancat*

      Update that it went AMAZINGLY! We’re trying to hire someone to help me! Me having to have surgery made her revisit our staffing, and my boss said she was scared after the shutdown so she went conservative with hiring (completely understandable!). Honestly the entire conversation was so great and productive. I can tell she’s concerned about me but also her business, and she can see that I did a lot of work to bring some ideas for how to handle my absence to the table. I told her that this is *not* how I wanted this to go six months into a new job and she said she knows and she appreciates it. I’ve never felt so appreciated at a job and it’s got me all squishy and sniffly.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Glad to read that it went well. I hope you surgery goes well, and I wish you a rapid and easy recovery.

  9. Ano ther Ali son*

    Wednesday was the big day. I resigned from my job of 15 years. I gave 2 weeks notice. My new job starts the 4th.

    Obviously I was nervous about leaving. I complain, but it has been a solid company and I have SOME wonderful coworkers.

    My immediate boss (for 6 yrs) has always been wonderful, and he was extremely supportive during our resignation video call. The silver lining there is he is moving to another division in January, so I would not be working with him anymore anyway.

    He told me that my grandboss, who I have been working with very closely for the past year, did not take it like a professional adult. He took it personally the night when boss told him, and did not reach out to me until 4:45 pm the next day. He asked why I was leaving “him” and said he wished I had talked to him if I had concerns about the market and my future. He is literally one of the most secretive people I have ever worked for. He doesn’t share anything when even small department changes are coming. Our business is getting hit with a major shift in the market, and as a 20 yr experienced person, I am supposed to stick my head in the sand and wait for boss man to tell me what is next? Nm that I am potentially one of the people best positioned to lead through the change because I have a different skillset and the right experience for the shift, but no one here recognizes that. They will keep the people who have been managing the old business lines in place. I have been working in the new business lines that we have to grow for some time, but they are moving the Chosen Ones from others slowing areas into this work.

    My boss also told me grandboss was childish about HIM going to the other division and has been dragging it out for a year. Perhaps because my boss was handed this role without experience in our department and needs us experienced folks more than he will say?

    Anyway, another person parallel to my boss also stopped by and told me it was a good move. He said he had concerns about me and a couple others stagnating in our roles and not getting opportunities to advance. That was so good to hear. It was a relief to know others agree that I am not leaving something on the table.

    Later I told an old work friend who is in IT, and he said he too was leaving at the end of next month. He said he had heard rumors and felt the guillotine was in sight. Ah, but I should protect my boss and the company and stay so our clients and subordinates don’t catch wind of any negativity.

    It is a good day for me!

    1. Emilitron*

      Yeah, when there are major changes in the pipeline and you choose to leave, the people who get most upset about it are the ones who have personal/political investment in selling those changes as being good news – regardless of any logical analysis that says those changes would torpedo your personal career path. It’s like choosing to leave is insulting their grand vision. When actually any leader who refuses to acknowledge that every decision is a trade-off not a universal improvement, that’s not somebody I’d trust to lead me.

      1. Ano ther Ali son*

        So true!

        My leader has also worked here since college and may struggle to see an outside perspective. And if I was a stockholder vp, I would be comfortable with my spot in the company, too. We are not in the same situation.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      Congratulations! And yes, you’re right that a good boss CELEBRATES when one of their employees moves on to bigger and better things, and it does sound like your grandboss actually valued you more than he chose to reflect in your pay/your title/how he treated you. His bad.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      The good ‘ole ‘you should have talked to me first!’ line when management finds out that they’re losing a key player and have to actually do work to find someone to replace them.

      Good luck at your new job! Hope you love it!

      1. irene adler*

        That makes me want to ask, “Why?” Cuz I’m curious as to what they might say.

        Geez! Can’t expect folks to work the same job forever.

      2. Ano ther Ali son*

        Yep. My husband actually thought I should have talked to him first, too, but my opinion was if they offered me some future position, it’s an empty promise and I can’t think of anything I want anyway. . .maybe his job?

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Ha! This happened to me at 2 past employers. At the first my grandboss didn’t speak to me until my last day but I had to cut him some slack since apparently the day prior to my resignation, my boss put in his retirement notice so 2/3 of the department was leaving. At the second, grandboss just sulked for a couple days while HIS boss, the VP, was (jokingly) guilt tripping me – you know, the overdramatic “Ah but Cupcake is leaving us before that happens so we’ll have to figure it out all on our own with no help at all”. Sounds bad writing it out but it really was a joke and he was happy for me. He knew advancement there wasn’t a possibility.

      1. Ano ther Ali son*

        These things do seem to go in waves, though. Either hot or cold job markets tend to mobilize people. You do lose everyone at once sometimes.

        I wish my grandboss was joking with his guilt trips. Fortunately I have personal and professional experience with this and am not taken in by it. When I left my very first job after 5 yrs, they pulled that and I felt bad. They left me in my entry level role for 4 yrs instead of 1-2, but I felt bad when the market turned and I could leave. Dumb young woman mistake.

    5. Momma Bear*

      The time to get out is before the ship sinks entirely. Sounds like you are doing just that. Congrats on the new job. It’s all business – theirs and yours. They were unable to make it worth your while. Have no guilt leaving.

  10. curly sue*

    I’m writing on behalf of my spouse, who’s having a rough time with a work issue. I have fairly strong opinions about it, but I suggested asking the commentariat here for their thoughts. (He’s read this and it’s posted with his permission.)

    Without getting too specific, he works in a gig industry designed around hiring specialists for short-term contracts. The local industry was hit hard by some closures a couple of years ago and work was sporadic, then COVID hit and everything shut down. He’d been doing some sporadic freelancing and pickups, but nothing else was happening until recently. He got a call from a colleague in October about three months of subcontracting, and tentatively agreed. Colleague didn’t send a contract, pay scale, or starting date information. Spouse got in touch a few times, and kept getting put off. “We’ll get to it.” “There are details we have to iron out,” etc.

    Beginning of December, spouse got a call from a different colleague, offering work on a contract with a different employer. This offer was for a year instead of three months, 20% higher pay, and with a team spouse knows and was very excited to work with.

    Spouse called the first guy on Thursday and let him know that he had other offers coming in. Almost immediately, a draft contract showed up in his email with dates directly conflicting with the start date for contract 2. He didn’t sign it. On Monday night, he got a written offer from contract 2, and after trying (and failing) to negotiate dates that would allow him to do both, he accepted contract 2. Wednesday night, he sent an email turning down the three-month subcontract due to the scheduling conflict, with apologies, hoping timing would work better next time, etc.

    Yesterday, he got a *screaming* phone call from the subcontracting colleague, berating him up and down for turning down the subcontract, demanding to know the details of contract 2 so that he could make a counteroffer. When spouse declined to share details, colleague had a meltdown – threatening to blackball him from the local industry, “no-one will ever trust you again,” “this was a move I might have expected from a student, but not from you,” all that kind of thing.

    Spouse has been shaking and panicky ever since. He’s a low-conflict, low-ambition kind of guy, happy to do excellent creative work at a non-managerial level and get on with life. He was up all night perseverating on the idea that subcontracting colleague might try and take him to court for breach of contract, and beating himself up over his decision.

    Now, I’m not worried. Nobody signed anything, subcontracting colleague has a frankly piss-poor local reputation for hiring and abusing students who don’t know any better, and spouse has a long and excellent track record for good, award-winning work. The new contract is with a stable employer, could lead to more opportunities for interesting contracts, and spouse will get to work directly with one of his oldest and dearest friends. To me, this was a no-brainer — but I’m obviously biased, and he’s still shaken.

    What’s the general opinion? Did he breach a code of conduct by accepting the latter of the two offers, even though there was a tentative verbal agreement in place for the first one? Was subcontracting colleague justified in his anger?

    1. Web Crawler*

      Wow. I’m so very glad he didn’t take the first contact- that sounds like it would’ve been hell. And no, he didn’t breach any protocol and the first collegue is way out of line.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this. This is such a typical job search situation that I wonder whether the person in Job 1 has ever really done it himself.

    2. antigone_ks*

      Unless professional standards are vastly different in your husband’s field than most others, I don’t think so. First colleague had nothing concrete for two solid months – not even when the job would start! Even if he were willing to offer a contract of the same length and pay as the second colleague, I’d still go with Colleague 2 since that one seems more on-the-ball and less flaky. And then to compound it with a tantrum just shows how right your husband was to take Colleague 2’s offer.

    3. bunniferous*

      Your husband did what he was supposed to do. The screaming colleague is way out of line. Your hubby dodged a big fat bullet.

    4. Rey*

      Congrats on the year contract! That’s great news! Your husband did absolutely nothing wrong here. The first offer never reached out to finalize terms, didn’t offer any negotiations when it was an option, and then called to yell about it (was yelling supposed to convince your husband that he definitely wanted to work for him? What the heck?) And it sounds like he has a bad reputation locally, so even if he does say something negative about your husband, people who know him will know where it’s coming from and not take it seriously.

    5. Two Dog Night*

      Subcontracting colleague is an ass. At the time your husband got the other offer, he (husband) didn’t know whether the three-month contract was actually going to happen, and once he had two offers in hand, he had every right to take the better one. If SC had really wanted to hire your husband, he shouldn’t have put him off for two months.

      I hope your husband can avoid dealing with SC at all in the future. Not worth it.

    6. BadWolf*

      I don’t know about the culture of your industry, but I would guess screaming guy has screamed at enough people that people take his opinions with a grain of salt. Or not believe him (especially with husband’s track record). Or believe the opposite. If first job was so important, they could have locked husband in right away, not wait. Any normal person might be disappointed, but should understand that taking a year long contract for more money is going to be pretty hard to turn down.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      I think the screamer showed your husband just who he is, believe ppl when they tell you who they are! And I am sure the screamer has shown other ppl in the industry just who they are too. His reputation as a guy who does that and your husband’s reputation for excellence are likely well understood in the industry. He can stop worrying.

    8. I'm that guy*

      Your husband didn’t to anything wrong. IMO he dodged a bullet. I am a low conflict guy and I if I were in his shoes I would be all stressed and panicky too. BUT… He made the right decision.

    9. Ashley*

      In retrospect the only mistake he made was calling contract 1 to mention other offers. Hindsight 20/20 he probably would have been better to ignore the first guy. The guy may have some pull and influence but he sounds like a problem and most people realize that stuff and adjust the information from people like that accordingly.

      1. curly sue*

        Yeah, avoiding this guy was not an option. He apparently sent about five emails and phoned twice yesterday before Spouse finally picked up. There’s also the off-chance that we’ll run into him socially post-lockdown, so the hope was to avoid burning bridges. (That bridge has been fairly effectively nuked from orbit now, I think, but so it goes.)

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I hope your spouse hasn’t been apologizing (or admitting any kind of guilt) to this person. They’ve done nothing wrong! So don’t give this person any fuel for their fire.

          If they berate your spouse in phone calls, then stop answering the phone and only communicate by email. Be polite, but matter-of-fact. “I’ve already made arrangements with Contract 2, so I think we should end this conversation. I hope you’re able to find someone else and it goes well.”

          No one HAS to keep responding to someone who acts in such an unreasonable way. And no one HAS to be social and act like friends with someone who’s shown themselves to be so self-centered. It may be better to “keep the peace” by not giving him any more attention.

          1. curly sue*

            They’ve only spoken once since the “thanks but no thanks” email, and that was the screaming phone call — spouse is definitely not reaching out or apologizing.

            I say that we might run into each other socially because the local wing of the industry is very small and there’s always the chance that we’d end up at the same event someday, but there’s no way to know.

        2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Sounds like first guy burns bridges with everyone, so it might just be that everyone just tries to be blandly polite when seeing him at industry stuff. But your spouse has a job for a year with a boss that will be able to provide a good reference the next time he is looking. Don’t worry about crazy #1! I’m positive your spouse is not the only one who has been yelled at like that. I’m betting because your spouse sounds like a type that is low conflict and wants to work well with others, crazy #1 was manipulating his knowledge of your spouse’s personality to make spouse feel bad. Don’t let your spouse feel bad for that!

    10. Uncannycanuck*

      People consider the source when it comes to reputation. Your husband did the right thing. He’ll be fine. A year from now, even the tantrum thrower will probably be long over this.

    11. RagingADHD*

      No, he’s fine.

      He tentatively expressed interest/availability in general. He did not commit to anything.

      They strung him along. He naturally looked for other work, because he needed work!

      He got 2 offers at the same time, and took the better one. If colleague 1 was in a position to offer a year at 20 percent more, WHY DIDN’T HE?

      Crappy people offering crappy gigs always act like guy #1. Your husband just leveled up, and now he knows that jobs like #2 are out there, hopefully he won’t have to deal with #1 any more.

    12. aubrey*

      Your husband did the right thing and dodged a bullet, and the screaming guy is a loon. If the guy does this kind of thing often, people in the industry won’t trust his word (and may even look more positively on your husband for not working with him). Besides that, if you’re working in an industry with signed contracts, it’s not a contract until it’s signed. You know you might lose out on people if you’re not prompt about getting them a contract – that’s just part of doing business in this kind of industry, in my experience.

    13. Reba*

      Nope, your spouse is fine, other person is WAY out of line. It sounds like people in your community already know that, and your spouse has just had his personal encounter with the reasons for this bad reputation.

      No surprise he is feeling shaken up, though, after having all that thrown at him! Ugh.

      Remember that the person saying these horrible things is themself *not* a trustworthy or reasonable person. Their explosive response is about them, not a judgment on what your spouse actually did.

    14. Weekend Please*

      There was no contract, so there is no breach of contract. Your husband expressed interest in the contracting work and waiting two months with no details. In the meantime someone else came along with a better offer. If subcontracting guy wanted to lock in your husband for the work, he should have sent a contract sooner. As it was, he left your husband free to pursue other work. Someone who throws a hissy fit over that is not likely to be someone who will have the power to blackball him from an entire industry.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        There was no contract, so there is no breach of contract.

        Right – you can’t breach something that didn’t exist in the first place.

      2. Twisted Lion*

        +1000 on this. Even though the other person offered him a job, he waited two months. Its his loss and probably why he is mad.

        You said he has a piss poor local reputation so Im going to say your husband is fine.

        1. Malarkey01*

          He didn’t even really offer him a job. With no details on pay or starting date and no firm plan to follow up (like I have to talk to Sue, but will have all the details over to you no later than the 15th), this was more of an expression of interest. I wouldn’t have even called this a tentative offer.

    15. Artemesia*

      One of the hazards of not getting your crap together and getting an actual offer to someone is that something better will come along. Your husband’s problem is his personal management of his anxiety at this experience; he did nothing wrong. It is never wrong to choose the job that is best for you. I would feel just as he does; this sort of experience is awful, but he needs to do whatever necessary to calm his own miseries even looking into some therapy if he can’t get it under control by talking it out with you and practicing whatever mindfulness techniques he might have access too.

      Of course he feels awful; that is an awful experience, but it does demonstrate he made the right choice. People generally take the better offer when they have two offers.

      1. curly sue*

        This is a really good point (re: his anxiety management). I’ve done some therapy with regards to mindfulness and I know how helpful it can be. I’ll definitely bring this up.

    16. 404 04 04 4*

      It sounds to me like your husband did the right thing by taking contract 2. If contract 1 person had wanted him, they’d have sent a contract to sign and move on from there. Personally, I would never want to work with contract 1 person again after an abusive phone call, but I understand that in some industries, you can’t necessarily make that choice. But still, sounds like someone to avoid.

    17. cleo*

      Your husband did nothing wrong.

      It might help him feel in more control to tell his version of the story to a trusted colleague who works in the same field – both to get reassurance that he did the right thing and also to get his version out in the community.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I like the idea of Husband telling his side of the story to a trusted colleague. I would add the nuance of trying to word it to be factual and so the Subcontracting Colleague’s screaming and poor professionalism are subtext, i.e.

        “So, Subcontracting Colleague offered me a three month contract; before I received a contract from Subcontracting Colleague, I received a different subcontract offer. While I tried to negotiate with this latter contract so I could do both, it wasn’t possible. When I told Subcontracting Colleague I accepted a different contract, he was, um… (meaningful pause)…rather upset.

        We had a difficult phone call, where Subcontracting Colleague asked for details of the contract I had accepted so he could make a counteroffer. I declined to share those details and Subcontracting Colleague seemed to think I acted in a way that would hurt my reputation and make it so no one in the industry would trust me again. What do you think? Did I do something out of line here?”

        No need to justify why Husband accepted a different contract or that it was a better offer, because that’s not really relevant to the question.

    18. learnedthehardway*

      Your spouse did the right and smart thing. He’ll be just fine, and he’s better off NOT working for the subcontracting colleague at all – this person is abusive, has a rotten reputation, and clearly has lousy management skills and is unreliable. Your husband very specifically did NOT have a contract with his former colleague – precisely because he continued to stand up for himself and warned the subcontractor that he had other offers and would need an offer in writing before he would consider the contract finalized.

      People like that RELY on making other people scared / upset, so that those other people don’t stand up for themselves.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      The only mistake your spouse made was calling #1 on Thursday.
      Next time send an email and be done with it.

      Not a contract job but my husband was working for a screamer like #1 here. Hubs got a job at a large international firm. And the screaming started. “And I will make sure you can’t get [Famous Spendy Health Insurance]!”, knowing that my husband and I would be otherwise uninsured for his first 6 months of employment.

      We shrugged and decided to be super careful for six months and we went on with our lives.
      Fast forward, screamer boss is the one with the bad rep that is known far and wide for his bad rep. Hubs went on to be “The Golden Child” at his new company.

      Not for you, OP, but for your hubby: Husband, please ask yourself why-oh-why this guy’s opinion is so important to you. Why is this guy under your skin so much? People yell because they have NO tools in their tool box. They use their loud voices to manipulate, terrorize, and instill fear in others. They have nothing else to work with. This person has revealed themselves as being very toxic. It’s okay to spend the REST OF YOUR LIFE avoiding this person. That is what my husband did. His person was a small fish who thought he was a big fish. But NO ONE else thought he was a big fish. Everyone else saw my husband’s yelling person for who he actually was, a liar, a crook and an incompetent. My hubby went on to be rock star. I suspect from what your spouse has here, so will you. For future reference, your spouse gives great advice and you are most fortunate to have this person with you.

      1. curly sue*

        “The only mistake your spouse made was calling #1 on Thursday.
        Next time send an email and be done with it.”

        Just to clarify, he did send an email – subcontracting guy called the next day, and kept calling until Spouse picked up. I think Spouse was anticipating some blowback, but not to that level.

        (And thank you! I’ve been reading these out to him and it’s helped immensely.)

    20. Temperance*

      Honestly, I think taking the 3-month offer might have actually damaged your husband’s reputation in his industry, and definitely could have hurt his future prospects with Employer B.

      A one-year contract with a solid company with a good reputation, for more money vs. less money, three months, with someone disorganized, mean, and rude? He made the right choice.

      There’s absolutely no “code of conduct” or “breach of contract” action here. Seriously. There is no contract! He needed to accept the terms and sign, which he did not do.

      Also, this friggen guy could have HAD the work mostly done by now, if the offer was floated in October.

    21. Generic Name*

      How can he be in breach of contract for a contract he never signed? I’m guessing that the screamer’s reputation is well known, and people consider the source if he were to badmouth your husband. Also, let’s say your husband decided to work for the guy. Based on his gross overreaction to a minor business matter, there’s no guarantee that the subcontractor would have given him a positive review (or whatever) even if he performed the work perfectly.

      Also, I kindof know what your husband is going through. I’m a very conscientious person, and I always try to Do the Right Thing as well as being a people-pleaser. I hate the idea of making someone unhappy. If your husband isn’t in therapy, it might help him to work through that stuff and be able to better stand up for himself. I’m highly susceptible to being taken advantage of, and it’s something I’m working on through therapy.

    22. CatCat*

      Subcontracting colleague is a jerk and if I were your husband, I would cut off contact with him. Block his number and email address.

      No need for your husband to risk tarnishing his excellent reputation by associating with that clown. Nor any need for your husband to let him take up any more mental space. Bullet DODGED!!

    23. Nela*

      The Subcontractor is full of shit and should be ignored. (I would personally also block him, because no one gets to scream at me.)
      I’ve received a threat like that before, and nothing happened. Guess why? Because I’ve always had an impeccable professional reputation, and the person who made the threats had done so many ridiculous things that no one takes them seriously.

      Your husband made the choice that any other freelancer in their right mind would do.

      He didn’t sign anything, so there was no breach of contract.

      There is no code of conduct among freelancers/contractors that says you must accept a worse offer just because this person asked first. Freelancers can choose between offers, just like clients can! Imagine that.

      The tentative verbal agreement means precisely nothing until the advance money clears in my account. Until then, any one of us can back out without any consequences. Clients do that all the time. We can’t have double standards for clients and contractors now, can we?

    24. Momma Bear*

      I had two phone/skype interviews with a start up that never followed up with me with a contract or start date. Eventually I got out of them that I was too expensive and they hired a college student. No contract, no job. Talking about it, even in specifics, doesn’t mean employment. I moved on.

      The first colleague’s lack of planning and professionalism is not your spouse’s job to fix. He did his due diligence regarding the contract and nothing was settled because nothing was signed. The person might be livid now, but IMO if your spouse was that vital to the contract, they would have nailed it down way before now. You don’t put someone on the back burner for 2 months in a gig industry and expect them to wait for you. They snoozed, so they lost. If the other person tries to go the court route, he could bring in the correspondence. The other person can’t produce a signed contract, so there’s nothing to breach. It’s human nature to feel upset when threatened, but spouse needs to move on and focus on the contract he did sign and the job he does have. If it were me and I were ever questioned about the not-really job I would say it was never finalized and a more stable opportunity arose. The person is misdirecting their anger at your spouse. The year contract sounds like a much better opportunity.

      IF the person calls your spouse again, he can simply shut it down. He owes no explanation. He could have countered with, “I would have expected more professionalism regarding the contract” when compared to the student. Some people bank on being loud and bullying others into what they want. Can you imagine how bad that contract experience would be? No way. I would never want to work for someone like that.

    25. designbot*

      Subcontracting colleague has every reason to be annoyed, something he thought he had a plan for has now fallen through unexpectedly… but when he looks at the details, the person he should be annoyed at is himself for leaving your husband hanging with nothing firm and expecting that status to last indefinitely. Colleague took your husband for granted and is paying the price. Sometimes people are most volatile when they (ok let’s face it, we) know they are a substantial part of the problem.
      If I was your husband, I’d be thinking about who else I knew at the colleague’s workplace (ideally someone he knows pretty well), and reach out to them. Explain that you regret that the details of Project X didn’t get settled soon enough for him to work on it and say he’s just calling to make sure they know he’d be happy to work with them on future projects once this other contract is up.

    26. OhBehave*

      Given colleague #1’s known reputation, if he did badmouth hubs, no one would believe him! Your husband did nothing wrong here. At all! #1 would have kept him strung along until it was good for him to begin not your husband. He’s an unprofessional jerk

  11. Lizzy May*

    Anyone familiar with Canadian labour laws? I work in a federally regulated industry. Is there any law like the one in the US about employees sharing salary information?

    1. anon for this*

      I know in Ontario having employees discuss their compensation with each other is specifically allowed. Also, employers are required to include a salary range in job ads and are prohibited from asking applicants about previous compensation. There are some reporting requirements for certain sized employers as well.

      I can’t speak to the other provinces though.

    2. JJax*

      These things can vary by province. For example, Ontario passed the Pay Transparency Act in 2018 that has specific language about anti-reprisal, which may cover your question. You can find it here:

      If you’re not in Ontario, I’d recommend Googling using similar language you find in the Pay Transparency Act to find your answer.

    3. Joy*

      Federal labour code in Canada is generally much less detailed than provincial labour code — a lot of the “rules” are actually set by collective bargaining agreements in federally regulated sectors. Are you in a union? If so, I’d check your agreement or ask your representative.

      If you are not covered by a CBA, the rules around “unjust dismissal” may be relevant. They aren’t super prescriptive, but if you were fired for discussing your salary you could bring the case to an adjudicator. I have a hard time imagining they’d rule that was just. You cannot be fired without cause as a federally regulated employee in Canada.

  12. Sunflower*

    I’m feeling disappointed by my career. I know this sounds cliché but when I was younger, I always pictured myself as one of those high-earning, work-obsessed women who works late hours but is rewarded with career progression. My last 2 positions I’ve worked in events at a professional services firm and while I work crazy hours, I feel like I’ve had little control over my progression and ability to make impactful decisions. It’s tough seeing other women being able to make this happen and feeling like I’m totally stuck myself!

    I think the orgs just don’t fit for me- the best way to describe it is I’ve been in positions where people who are helpers and place emphasis on cooperation thrive best. I’m someone who is more of an inspirer/motivator with an emphasis on relationships and persuading others.

    I’m only 32 so I know I have time to make changes but I’m feeling so in my head right now. Some days I think ‘I’d love to do sales’ and the next ‘no I want to be in a meaningful job helping others’. Trying to find something in the middle esp. with the bleak situation going on around us is taking a toll on my energy. (I do see a ther pist to help manage this)

    Just wondering if anyone has been here before and what decisions they made in this situation?

    1. Ashley*

      Personally I have opted for job that pays well without super crazy hours and volunteering to make a difference. It is a balance the generally works. With the economy and uncertainty right now it really works for me this year.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I’m with this. Your job is primarily how you make money to pay your bills, and you can use your time outside of work to do something meaningful. Every now and then, the stars align, and you get to do meaningful work for which you’re well compensated, but you shouldn’t expect that.

      2. Web Crawler*

        That’s what I do too- it’s not as efficient as just working somewhere where I do good, but I think it’s a lot easier to find.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      So, you can work 80 hours a week and your manager will absolutely appreciate your contribution, but it doesn’t show your manager that your ready to take on a management role and get a promotion. Taking the lead on projects, handling issues on your own (as long as they shouldn’t need a higher level of approval), putting forth good ideas and making them happen…those are the things that show leadership and get promotions.
      I’d focus on rolling back the hours, showing responsibility for your work (handling all the messy bits that pop up), being collaborative with peers and managers, and look for opportunities to expand your role.

    3. Bex*

      It seems like event management might not be the right path for you. In my experience, events are almost always in support of some bigger organizational goal, so events management is inherently a “support” type role which is likely why helpers and people who excel at cooperation are thriving.

      If you think your skills lie more in the persuasion and relationships arena, then sales might be a much better fit!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I was thinking business development, or a move to PR (which can sometimes be aligned to events) or maybe something like partner/customer relationships.

    4. Honor Harrington*

      Oh yes! Becoming more experienced means that you learn what sort of culture you really fit in, and it sounds like you have done that.

      There are a lot of sales-types jobs that also focus on helping people. Being a financial advisor is a good example, and that’s a career that is growing rapidly. It might be something to take a look at.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I found out that I am not that interested in being one of those women with the high earning and work obsessed.
      The problem with placing value on relationships is that it carries into our personal lives also. If I am not tending my personal relationships then I am NOT happy. My at-home time is as important as my at-work time. Whoops can’t be work obsessed here! I was not the person I thought I was.

      There is a difference between needs and wants. Try to figure out what you need in your life vs what you want in your life. Some things are mutually exclusive, watch for these conflicts. (Friendships vs Work 27 Hour/day) Try to make choices that protect Future You. The reason I say this is because working on long term goals can help keep us on track longer.

      I see your mention about sales. One of best retailing jobs I had was working in a nursery. I actually felt like I was helping people. I also worked very hard for almost no money. My point is that it matters what you are selling, IF you are looking at making a difference or making a meaningful contribution. Later I took a job selling basically junk. I lasted half the time I lasted at the nursery. I had to leave the junk job.

      Right now I think most workplaces look and feel very bleak. I think a good number of people feel like they are spinning their wheels. It’s the nature of our setting. I have to believe it will change at some point.

      An activity that I found helpful was to work on my idea of what “being helpful to others” can look like. I had to broaden that definition to include something more than putting band-aids on people’s fingers. (Not snark, I found I had a very narrow definition of “helping others” and reality is that many jobs offer opportunities to help others that are not always obvious. We have to deliberately LOOK for those opportunities.)
      So what is your definition of helping others? When do you feel satisfied that you have helped someone?

      My second suggestion is to consider volunteer work. Sometimes our desire to help others is greater than the opportunities our jobs offer. We can find a secondary outlet to make a contribution. And there is nothing wrong with picking a volunteer position that looks good on your resume.

    6. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Hi fellow Type-A competitive thirty-something female! I would say like some of the others, look for the leadership roles, and volunteer/step into those roles. Don’t take all of the credit for a team’s success, give credit where it’s due because it shows that you have the power to manage employees and get them to be high performers. Also, make sure you’re not doing the “I’m irreplaceable” thing in your current role, because (I’m not sure who to cite here, I’ve just been told this by a few senior leaders) if you’re irreplaceable where you are, you’re not promotable because they can’t find someone to back-fill you.

      Also, look for a mentor. I put in through my professional organization for a mentor and got matched with someone very senior in my field who has been helping me understand what job opportunities are available for me down the line and what skill sets I need to get there.

    7. Generalist*

      If you think you have (or might be able to gain) sales skills and you would like to be in a meaningful job helping others, you should consider moving into fundraising/development roles. A good fundraiser uses a LOT of the same skills as a sales rep, but it can be extremely satisfying to raise the funds needed for organizations providing important services. Also, the field of development (as it’s called) is probably the best-paid in the nonprofit world, it generally doesn’t require a graduate degree (and sometimes not even a bachelor’s), and people with skills and experience are in high demand–even during economic downturns.

      I’ve been in fundraising for the better part of three decades and can give more specific advice if anyone wants it.

      1. K*

        I was going to say the same thing – development folks need the very skills you mentioned, and are often instrumental in keeping great causes afloat!

    8. NW Mossy*

      About a decade ago, I was you – pretty well topped out as an individual contributor and yearning to do something more strategic. If ego can talk for a second, I wanted to be in a role where people who mattered would listen to what I had to say.

      My eventual path to where I am now has been quite the winding road! I got passed over for a couple of management roles, but then an awesome high-level individual contributor role practically fell into my lap. Spent a couple years doing that, and then moved into managing different teams. In pandemic times, I cut back to a part-time individual contributor role where I’m supporting two major strategic initiatives. It’s suiting me really well, and I’m just letting myself enjoy that good fit and not pressing myself to keep climbing.

      This doldrums period is pretty normal to experience in your 30s. You’ve been doing your thing long enough to develop expertise, but higher-level jobs than what you hold now don’t come up as often and tend to involve major shifts in responsibility (like managing others). You tend to get passed over a bit more often, not because your work isn’t good but just because the pool of people vying for those jobs is more competitive. Meanwhile, it’s hard not to look at those who were your peers recently seemingly float effortlessly upwards.

      I guess my advice is to take advantage of the slowdown in the pace of your level-ups to think about yourself big picture. What are you evolving into in your personal life? Are your living arrangements, family structure, etc. changing, or do you expect they will in the coming years? How do you want your career to fit in with those goals?

      Personally, I’m finding that while I’ll never entirely quiet that competitive voice in the back of my head, ultimately, what other people are doing/accomplishing isn’t about me. What is about me is whether what I’m doing and where I’m going supports what I personally want from my life as I’m living it now. I don’t need to be better or more accomplished than someone else to have my own worth, and my 30s were the decade where I really started to figure that out and believe it.

  13. antigone_ks*

    I’d been posting weekly updates in August about my college’s disastrous COVID response, but got too depressed and busy to keep it up. So here’s the end-of-semester recap:

    The good:
    • Once informed of a potential no-confidence vote, the VPAA resigned, effective this month.
    • Most students chose to attend remotely, making the classrooms safer for those who couldn’t

    The bad:
    • After fall break, administration decided to hold more on-campus events to provide students with the “college experience.” These included close-quarter activities. Unsurprisingly, in the 8 weeks since fall break we’ve seen the county’s top 20 individual days, and more than half our cases total since March have happened in the last 8 weeks.
    • Board of Regents did not follow through on any ethics reports submitted by faculty or staff
    • After firing almost a dozen new faculty in May, our fall enrollment increased so much that we had to hire adjuncts – mostly out-of-state. This has been difficult for many students.
    • Scholarship budgets were cut, for reasons that none of us can understand. Then administration complained that spring enrollment was down.
    • Some student activities were allowed to travel, and a large athletic event was held on campus with no masks or social distancing.
    • Administration continues to lie about how many cases are on campus and will not notify faculty if any of our students test positive. They say it’s the health department’s responsibility, but none of us have been contacted by them, either.
    • The new president is pissing everyone off for a glorious variety of reasons, but we used all our juice getting rid of the VPAA ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Pippa K*

      Sympathy and solidarity. My university also had a policy of not notifying professors of students in their classes who tested positive. They said the circumstances didn’t meet CDC guidelines for a “close contact.” Faculty pointed out that this might be true for a large lecture course where the professor is some distance away from an audience in a lecture hall, but it is not true for small seminars where profs and students sit close together for discussion. But to no avail – the notification policy didn’t change, and so faculty relied on info from students and the rumour mill to find out whether they might have been exposed or not. And students quickly worked out that if they got tests off campus, they could avoid the university reporting system entirely (so as not to be sent home for a positive test), so the whole system was rather shoddy in the end. The spring semester might actually be worse, with more in person classes but the vaccine not distributed yet.

    2. Pam*

      Grrr. I am so sorry.

      I think my system did it right. We decided early to go virtual for Fall and Spring, and have just announced plans to return for Fall 2021, but to still do hybrid/virtual as needed.

  14. Loopy*

    Trying to figure out how much do my time money is worth in the new few years of my career. Right now I’m working probably only an average of only 5 hours over a standard 40 hour work week and it feels like a lot on top of an hour of commuting. But there’s potential for advancement and more money at this level so I’m trying to figure out what I’m willing to sign up for.

    Do any folks find they can make 45-47 hours a week work without giving up a decent work life balance? 8 hours of sleep? Gym three times a week? Downtime? I don’t have kids and so I’m wondering if I just need to be more organized to make it work or it it’s generally the point at which other things are sacrificed?

    1. Colette*

      I think the details make a big difference on this kind of thing. Some people have no issue with it; I decided long ago that I didn’t want to do it on a regular basis.

      1. Loopy*

        Yes, I guess I’m also feeling like it’s a weird thing to be on the fence about. Some weeks I hate it, other weeks I feel fine.

        I also think if I could just swap the commute out and wfh, it would also be more workable, which is frustrating.

        1. Colette*

          One way to think about it is how is it affecting your life. Do you have time to see friends, work on hobbies, go to the gym? Can you buy groceries, cook, clean, take care of errands, etc.? If you had more time, would you be happy that you can do something you’re missing, or would you not know what to do?

          But also, are you getting paid enough to take care of the stuff you aren’t doing?

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Sounds doable to me. I have regularly worked 9-10 hr days. My recent in-office norm has been 7:30-6:00 (~5 pm on Fridays) and I eat lunch at my desk. With that schedule, I workout 8-10 hrs per week and have a husband and teenager at home. This teenager needs a lot of guidance. I get up by 5 am and go to bed at 10. I don’t do a lot of other socializing, or other personal stuff. Does it pay off for advancement? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just to keep up with the basic job for me.

    3. Dave*

      My partner has pulled 70 hour weeks for roughly a year and I still felt like they didn’t skimp on time for us. Part of that success was they could do a portion of the job WFH on flexible hours. Personally I can be super organized and productive when my schedule is more full then when I just have a few things happening. One thing the pay raise can buy you is someone to help with the mundane tasks like housecleaning, pay more for grocery delivery options, etc. So you can still get more time but the pay raise has to be big enough so you just aren’t swapping more work for money to do things you used to be able to do.

    4. 404 04 04 4*

      No spouse, no kids, I work 40 hour weeks. I’m willing to stay late sometimes, but not by more than an hour. I need time for myself and my hobbies; I still have my own life even though I don’t share it with people who live with me. I have great work/life balance and I’m not burned out. But I know that if I added on more work time, that would change. Especially since I want to change that “no spouse” situation, this way I still have time to meet people and date and get to know them, rather than working all the time.

    5. Joielle*

      To me, it would matter a lot if I could control when I work those extra hours. I also have no kids and about an hour commute during non-covid times, and I don’t think 45-47 hours is unreasonable per se, but it can definitely feel unreasonable depending on the circumstances.

      If I can decide to stop working at 3 on a Friday afternoon and work a few hours over the weekend, or work a few extra-long days and have the whole weekend off, that’s probably doable. But if my schedule is dictated by someone else, or things come in at the last minute and I have to cancel my own plans to deal with them, I personally can’t handle that. During non-covid times, I make a lot of plans on weekends and after work, and it’s important to me that I can handle my own schedule to accommodate those plans!

      I actually quit my last job over this – the actual number of hours worked was probably in the 45-47 range, but I couldn’t make plans after work without a lot of angst because “emergency” tasks would come in and I would have to deal with them. (And it was pretty much always other people’s poor planning that caused the emergency, which just added insult to injury.)

    6. Lucette Kensack*

      Oh man, I’ve wrestled with this too. And I think it just varies by person: how much downtime do you need, what other obligations do you have, how do you enjoy spending your free time, etc.

      I’ve landed on working less and accepting the consequences (primarily, less money). I’m fortunate to have the ability to do that, both because of my husband’s income and because we live in a lowish cost of living area. I’m now working 75% time, and it’s a good balance for me. I’m still in the thick of the work I want to be doing, and I earn enough to support our family budget, but I have more flexibility in my weeks.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This worked into a big topic for me.
      I had a full time job with a one hour commute each way. So I was gone 10 hours a day. It was actually maybe 25 minutes of drive time but with traffic and always stopping to get something I had to allot an hour each way.

      I did this for just over a decade. I decided that if I was going to live this way I had to have LESS. This meant less of everything. I could not take care of all the stuff I had. Plus I had 4 pets and a yard to consider. And then there was the vehicles. OMG, I was always running to the store for something. I decided to simplify all aspects of my life. And simplifying my life has turned into a on-going activity. Well, a person does have to watch what they buy/use and volunteer to take on if they want to have any control over how they live on a day-to-day basis. So reality is we do need to watch what we are doing.

      But I think over all that JUST working 40 hours a week can require a person to give up a lot of other things. So that additional hour per day is going to be more about giving up additional things. I think looking back on it, I would like to have written a better (sharper) budget and lived by that budget (complete with goals). Otherwise all the running does not make much sense, or at least to me it didn’t make sense.

    8. Quinalla*

      Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it work for others or is doable for them, it matters if it works for you. Sounds like the commute is the biggest bother for you, can you look into options to reduce it? Some WFH? Moving? New job that is closer? Shifting your start/end time to avoid some of the rush traffic? Or dig in deeper, is it really the commute or is it something else that is really bothering you?

      I’ve done an hour commute and it really sucked for, if it hadn’t been temporary, I would have been doing something to change it. But some don’t mind a commute that long. Working 45-50 hours is pretty normal for me and people in my line of work, but for others would be horrible. I have kids, pre-kids I worked a lot more hours if you count all the travel hours I had (I certainly count them myself), more like 50-60 hours a week and it worked fine for me at the time. For me, traveling like that again (2-3 times a week, mostly by plane) is not on the table right now, but I don’t mind traveling occasionally for work (2-3 times a month, all by car).

    9. allathian*

      The details make a lot of difference. Is the job one where you can plan around when you’ll work longer and when you’ll work shorter days? Is there an option to WFH at least some of the time, if not most days? Some of my friends who work longer days than I do used to bring their computer home every day and check emails in the morning and continue working in the evening, while still being able to spend time with their families and engaging in hobbies after work.

      My commute is 45 minutes one way, and now that I’ve been WFH since March, I don’t think that I’ll ever want to go back to spending 90 minutes per day commuting.

      Before the pandemic changed everything, I used to do tai chi once a week. Now that’s gone, but I’ve started using our home gym much more than I did. That said, I need a lot of unscheduled time to be happy, which isn’t always easy to arrange with a tween in the house. Someone else might be bored stiff with my schedule…

    10. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I work a minimum of 50 hours a week with a 45 minute commute each way. I’m away from home 13-14 hours a day. It gives me no time for anything. If my husband didn’t do the vast, vast majority of housekeeping and cooking, I’d be living off ramen in a very dirty house. My job keeps me physically active so I don’t worry about gym time. I am pretty much useless on my days off, though. No kids so my days off are generally my own.

      Right now, the money is worth the trade offs (most of the time). The key for me and my husband is constantly talking about whether, how, and why our schedule is working or not. Keeping that communication open means we don’t build resentment and are always evaluating how our jobs work for our life. I’ve been working this way consistently for about 4 years or so and am beginning to look more seriously for other work.

    11. Roci*

      Honestly I think this is how most people live their lives. Let’s block out a day:

      6-9: get ready, eat breakfast, gym or cleaning/hobbies
      8-9: commute
      9-18 or 19: work
      18-19 or 19-20: commute
      19 or 20-22: dinner and/or get groceries/shopping, and hobbies
      22-6: 8 hrs of sleep

      This requires a lot of planning and focus to do properly, like meal planning on weekends so you can make dinner quickly during the week, and self-control to go to bed on time and get up to go to the gym. If you commute via train you can read/do hobbies then, vs. driving 1 hour you can’t really turn that into down time.

      Maybe the 5 hours makes a big difference to you, to get 1 more hour in the evenings. I know for me that getting home at 8pm some days is OK but every day slowly wears me down. But I’m a work to live person.

  15. Orange Crushed*

    We’re having our building renovated, so things are moved around and not in their usual place, which is to be expected. I was working from home, but when I came back into the office to work, some chairs and a table that used to be stored temporarily (while I was at home) in my area were moved.

    I was sitting at my desk when my boss freaked out. “You shouldn’t be moving things around. Why did you move the chairs and table?”

    “I didn’t,” I said. (Um, excuse me? Good morning to you too.)

    She then went to talk to someone and loudly said, “Well, Anon moved all of the chairs and the table to the other side.”

    “I didn’t. They were like that when I walked into the office this morning.” I called out. (It’s a very relaxed environment where people often shout things out, so I decided to respond.)

    I don’t know who moved the items out of my area, but it wasn’t me. At a previous job, I was accused of getting high in the bathroom, so this pales in comparison, but it’s still annoying.

    Anyone else have other ridiculous stories?

    1. Threeve*

      At a restaurant I worked at, it was a running joke that everyone blamed me for literally everything, including as I recall: someone dropping a plate on the other side of the room, a thunderstorm making the lights flicker, trash pickup delayed a day due to a holiday and nobody having a spare hair elastic. (“Threeve! Cut it out!” “Sorry.”)

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        Threeve, I wish you would quit making my internet so slow. Also, I’m finding it hard to concentrate because of you.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I have a ridiculous story! And a happy ending!
      I wrote into AAM this summer about my office claiming they were prevented by HIPAA from telling us about any positive COVID tests at work but Alison confirmed that HIPAA does not apply. I pushed back and they agreed to tell us more. So I’m the office COVID complainer right? Fast foward a few weeks and I’m called into a Zoom meeting with my boss and her boss to discuss my “terror” of COVID and my “COVID anxiety fort” I built. This mtg was early septemberish. Back in May when we returned to the office, my coworker felt she kept coming closer than 6 feet in our open office so we put down some tape on the floor to mark 6 feet, its been there for 4 months now, no one said anything. Then in Sept I got a new office chair with a note to keep the old one bc it was needed. I did not know what to do with the old one, I was busy, and we had the floor space, so I just pushed it a few feet away and ignored it. So the meeting was to do with the way I had “barricaded” myself behind a chair and some tape. I explained the tape and chair and I think they no longer thought I was having a breakdown. But I think I retained my status as office COVID complainer. So when a few more staff were slated to come back to the office, I asked where they would sit to maintain 6 feet (which would not be possible). And thats how I got, at least temporarily, my own office complete with a HEPA filter!

      1. Joielle*

        COVID anxiety fort! This is a ridiculous situation and I’m sorry you have to deal with it. And also I am for sure stealing that phrase.

    3. 404 04 04 4*

      I started a new job. A week or so in, someone (also a woman) seemed convinced that I had just given birth.

      It was weird.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          … … …
          …yup, you got @Avonlady Barksdale.

          Also, I want to shout: “Stop commenting on coworker’s bodies, reproductive plans, etc.!”

    4. Lora*

      First job out of grad school, we were all pretty sure the grandboss kept a roulette wheel or dartboard maybe, with all our names printed on it, and that was how he chose who to scream at when something went wrong. It seemed like everyone just got a turn, for whatever. My personal favorite, though it did not happen to me, was this:

      An operation using new equipment was scheduled in another department which is adjacent to mine. This was for an operation WAY outside any of my group’s expertise at the time, like we had so little exposure to this part of the process, we couldn’t have figured it out without a two-week seminar. There were only two people in Other Department who had been trained to use the new equipment, both on the morning shift. When we were in shift handoff meetings, the other department’s evening shift specifically requested that those two people stay to ensure the operation was completed correctly. Of course, one had a sports thing to go to and the other had concert tickets, so they not only left without having done it – it wasn’t even started. Other department’s second shift was told to figure it out because it’s time sensitive and must get done today. This is a MAJOR no-no in drug manufacturing, it is Not Done, any QA worth their salt will make sure heads roll. The other department gamely tried their best, though, and when they couldn’t quite figure it out, their engineer on the floor asked me in a panic if I could spare someone clever to try to figure it out from the instructions they’d been able to find in a file drawer.

      I sent one of my better techs, but it still didn’t seem to be working properly. They did their best, but some product was lost. Not their fault, none of us knew how to run the system, it wasn’t even our department, we were all just trying because some product + a major deviation is better than no product at all, right?

      Helpful Tech fully expected to be screamed at by Big Boss, but he was not. Other Department fully expected to get yelled at, but no. Instead, it was coldly announced that there would be an investigation into how this disaster happened. OK. A week and a half later, a totally different tech in my department got screamed at – during the operation in question, he was in Thailand on his honeymoon, and obviously had no clue what the hell had happened. The first shift slackers who bailed on work to go have fun, and their boss who didn’t make them train anyone else before leaving, had absolutely no repercussions whatsoever.

      Real mystery why that department had 30-40% annual turnover.

      1. JustaTech*

        Good grief! That’s just so not how you do 1) manufacturing or 2) investigations!
        In a semi-ideal world QA would have pounced on Other Department and everyone would have had a very long, very thorough, very boring training in why you don’t do that.
        A couple of groups at my company that do investigations have really been pushing “operator error” isn’t a sufficient cause, partly because there is almost always a reason beyond “didn’t do it right” and because being punitive and vindictive just makes people hid their mistakes.

        1. Lora*

          Yuuuup. I transferred out shortly thereafter, and in the end so many people quit within 12 months of that incident it hardly mattered – then a few years later they had massive layoffs including the Big Boss. Since Big Boss didn’t really have anything but a reputation as a giant a-hole, the grapevine told me he cashed out some stock options and retired early.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This happened a couple of years ago, but it’s pretty typical of my coworkers/higher ups:

      We had an important analysis to do. As the data analyst on staff, I do the number crunching, but I’m not the subject matter expert. The project lead presents the analysis output externally, then learns that we had sent out numbers using Vanilla Frosting data, because it hadn’t been processed into the proper Chocolate Frosting data. Project Lead confronts me and says, “Why didn’t you catch this? Why did you let us send out the wrong data?”

      I had to lay out for Project Lead:
      1) I had emailed Subject Matter Expert (and copied Project Lead), because only they know how to convert from Vanilla to Chocolate data. I received no response, but Subject Matter Expert responded to other items in that chain, so I emailed my request again. Still no response, so I figured they would deal with it when it was important.
      2) In the meantime, I labeled the data throughout “Vanilla Frosting.”
      3) I had no idea anyone was presenting this data, as they don’t check with me (not ideal, but usually it’s fine). And I have no reason to assume they don’t read their emails or the data labels.

      After laying all of this out, Project Lead backpedaled and claimed they weren’t trying to blame anyone, they were just “investigating.” Uh-huh, right. That’s why you came in with an accusatory tone and confronted me, saying that as the data analyst, it’s my responsibility to make sure the right data and analysis are in place (which they were, because I do my job. If only others did theirs, amirite?).

      Maybe I need to start reading things verbatim to them in meetings? /sarcasm

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

      I had a customer at a previous job accuse me of throwing out her very important fax, when I called to follow up on not receiving it. It couldn’t possibly because her fax either didn’t send properly or that she had it facing the wrong way. NO! I HAD to have thrown it out; just me and not the other 5 people in the office either, since I was the one following up. Apparently I saw it was from her, threw it out and then called to say I didn’t receive it… … My supervisor of course knew how silly that was, but for the rest of my time there, I was the one who throws out faxes.

    7. pieforbreakfast*

      When my team of 9 was moved from a cubicle room in one location to a different building and into a large open room. It had 9 desks and 8 chairs. I put in a request, saying that we were short a chair. A while later a short, child sized chair was delivered.

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

      I was accused of ‘bullying’ behaviour for pointing out a person’s mistakes (in entering information into a database). She went to her boss (who wasn’t my boss – we had the same ‘grandboss’ though) to complain about being picked on and that boss came to me and chewed my ear off.

      I was nice about the mistakes, just “oh btw I noticed this” with no passive-aggressive undertone or anything; the ‘bullying’ wasn’t about my tone or attitude but rather just that she felt “picked on” for having the mistakes pointed out to her: she felt insecure by having mistakes pointed out ‘continually’.

      That would have been fair enough except for the part where the previous week she’d asked me to keep her informed about any mistakes I found in what she was doing, so that she could correct them as she went rather than have someone come back to her later with complaints! (I was the ‘consumer’ of the database that she was putting the info into).

      They weren’t even anything contentious, just stuff like “oh I noticed that sometimes the zip code is written on the form in the ‘State’ box by mistake, but when you know it’s a zip code rather than a state it does need to go in the zip code field instead of the state”. (If I’d let it go, the alternative would have been re-work of a load of forms to re-enter the zip code in the correct place and a lot of time wasted by everyone – or would she have found that upsetting as well!?)

  16. ThatGirl*

    So kind of weird experience this week, tell me if you think this was weird or bad interviewing…

    I graduated from a moderately prestigious small Midwestern liberal arts college that is known in some circles, but it’s certainly not Harvard or Dartmouth or anything. I graduated almost 18 years ago. I feel like everything I’ve done in my professional life is way more interesting and relevant than what I did in the early aughts.

    But I had a phone interview on Tuesday and the HR rep spent a lot of time asking about what led me to that college and how my time there was and what my academic performance was like … do I remember my GPA? is it even relevant?? I answered the best I could but it just felt odd. I looked up the company’s glass door reviews later and they frequently mentioned that a fixation on Ivy League schools, so that seems to be part of it? So weird to me.

    1. BadWolf*

      It feels a little weird today. I’m in a similar state (age/college). If they spent a lot of time on my college life, it would seem weird to me as well. Especially since you do some much learning on the job (a lot of college is theory and learning how to learn for my job).

      I do feel like my employer now is really focused on tech/engineering schools. When I was hired, they were enthusiastically recruiting at my liberal arts school, but not so much anymore. Sometimes it makes me wonder if they’d hire me if I were a new hire now.

    2. Loopy*

      I would find it weird and bad interviewing! I LOVED my college and think it’s a fabulous place, but it’s just so far removed from all my professional experience at this point I’d feel I lost valuable time being forced to focus on it! It really seems like it doesn’t help you or the job to fixate on it.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I also went to a fairly prestigious Midwestern liberal arts college and graduated 20 years ago, and I would find this super weird. Mostly because almost nobody would even recognize the name of it unless they had some kind of direct or almost-direct connection. Maybe this person went to a similar school or considered your school but didn’t go? I would notice if somebody went to, say, Macalester because I visited and I had friends at My School whose siblings went there, or who also considered it. I live in Texas so people who also went to Midwestern LACs stand out when I meet them.

      I wouldn’t grill them at length about it, though. My interest would be pseudo-chummy rather than status-conscious.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Without much to go on, the issue of advancement seems likely to be related to being in a support function. Are the women in your firm who advance providing the professional services, vs. your role where you are doing events to support the professional services growth?

        To fix your trajectory, you either need to get into a role that is more valued by your company that also suits you, or you need to find a company where what you do is their core business, like a conference org or something.

        If you do think sales would work, I have seen others make that transition from core marketing roles in professional services firms, but you have to be in a firm where the principals are not the sales team, too.

        I would probably try that, myself, as it can be easier to transition functions in your company/industry. If it doesn’t work out, you will now know and can make a different move.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I really think it was more of a company thing than an HR-person thing, that they are interested in recruiting people from Top Schools — I failed to mention that they reached out to me (saw my resume on Indeed) and in the initial contact mentioned my alma mater. It just seems like such a weird thing to talk about at length.

        I agree that saying “oh, I went to [similar school]” would not be so weird. I’m still in the Midwest (different state from my college) so that wouldn’t be too remarkable.

    4. burnoutisreal*

      That is super weird. My first thought is that maybe the interviewer has a child/knows someone who is interested in the school, maybe? But then I don’t know why they’d ask you about your GPA…

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      You graduated 18 years ago, and they’re asking you about that? I mean, it’s fairly odd to ask about even for a new grad (your GPA?), but for someone decades out… what?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right? she said something like “I know this was a while ago, but how was your academic performance there?” or words to that effect.

    6. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

      I would find that very weird and off-putting. My first degree (AA, 2007) was in a Midwestern liberal/performing arts college in a field I am not even closely involved in. Since then I’ve changed career tracks a few times, got my BSBA (2013), and earned my CLTD this year. It would be impossible to recall any specifics like GPA from either of my educational stints at this point.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed! It is one thing to be like “Oh I see you went to X university, I hear they are very rigorous/I have a cousin who went there/They are my school’s rival, how funny/Have you been back recently/etc.” But to really go much beyond that and to ask about 18 year out GPA is SUPER WEIRD and I would also find it very off-putting and consider it a waste of everyone’s time. By itself, not a hard no or anything, but if combined with other flags, yeah…

    7. Lora*

      These people are bizarre. I work in a field where name-brand colleges are definitely a Thing, and some places won’t even deign to interview you if you didn’t graduate from one of the Ivies or MIT/CalTech sort of place. But after 18 years?? No.

    8. Haha Lala*

      Was the HR rep just recently out of college? I could see someone inexperienced focusing more on college, thinking that’s the most important or distinguishing feature… But yeah, that would come off as really weird to me too.

    9. 404 04 04 4*

      Weird for sure, I don’t know about bad; that would probably depend on if those glassdoor reviews indicated that your pay and if you got promoted or only got good projects if you went to Yale.

      For reference, I have never gotten asked why I went to the school I did (a state school) or if I enjoyed it, but I have gotten asked why I studied different things for my bachelors and my masters, which is a legit question, so I had no issue with that.

    10. Been There*

      At my first job outside of college I learned that the CFO had this weird fixation with Ivy league schools, and would look FIRST at the college someone attended and if they didn’t go to a prestigious school, their application went right in the trash. I also knew that HE didn’t go to an Ivy League school, he was a community college grad.

      This was the same guy who told me that they consistently pay their employees “12-15% less than market value” when I pitched for a raise (that would have brought me up to fair market pay), had a butts-in-seats mentality, forced me to work over 50 hours per week (but if I was 10 minutes late to work I got yelled at) and fired me for complaining about sexual harassment. So, you know.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      It could be driven by one person.
      My husband worked with a Bully. The only way to get the Bully off my husband’s case was to tell the Bully that Hubby went to Big Ivy School. It was the only thing the Bully understood. Meanwhile everyone else is accommodating this weirdness by lying to the Bully, instead of telling the Bully to stfu.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Possible. It’s a pretty big company, so it seems more likely to me that somewhere along the way someone decided it was important to attract people from Big Name Schools — but it’s one thing if you’re recruiting people in their 20s; I’m very clearly in my late 30s (I don’t have my grad year on my resume anymore, but I do have 17 years worth of jobs listed).

    12. SunnySideUp*

      Well ya know, a person can attend Wharton and go on to declare business bankruptcies 6 times, so prestige colleges mean very little to real life.

  17. talos*

    So yesterday I saw something on here about addresses on a resume. Is that something I’m supposed to have? My current resume doesn’t, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting me.

    I work in tech; is this one of the things tech does diffierent?

      1. Artemesia*

        Usually you should have your location i.e. City/State though as many people will screen out non local resumes.

        1. Chaordic One*

          If you live in a suburb, would you put the name of the suburb? Or the name of the main city that the suburb is adjacent to?

    1. gbca*

      The resumes I’ve been seeing recently have city and state, but not the whole address. Which makes sense, I think full address is more a throwback to days where communications might happen via snail mail. These days there’s really no need for your full address until you’re going through background checks and such.

    2. anon for this*

      I used to have mine on there, but took it off about 4 years ago and just have my email and phone number now. I work in a field where it is common to move around for jobs though, so no one really cares where you are now.

    3. designbot*

      I regard it as fairly old fashioned TBH. It used to be the norm, but since nothing about the interview process is conducted through snail mail anymore, it’s become pretty irrelevant.

    4. designbot*

      I regard it as fairly old fashioned TBH. It used to be the norm, but since nothing about the interview process is conducted through snail mail anymore, it’s become pretty irrelevant.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It may be different outside the US, but I plan to leave it off. If my cell phone’s area code were from hundreds of miles away, I’d include city & state. Otherwise, just watch the posting for any residency requirements. (Personally I’ve only noticed them for law enforcement, school systems, and local governments.)

    6. Bad Kitty!*

      I currently just use city and state. In the past I’ve used my full address when I was doing a job search during a cross country relocation. I wanted to show prospective employers that I was a soon to be local candidate.

  18. louise*

    If your company does not outline requiring natural hair colors in their dress code, which is pretty loose, how dumb would it be to show up with blue hair one day (think Kylie Jenner’s black to teal ombre)? For reference I am a woman in engineering, in a small, mostly male, entirely white office – truly, a vision of diversity! *sigh* – and our dress code allows jeans and pretty casual wear (I can wear graphic t-shirts with a blazer, for example). Right now I’m mostly WFH but go in a couple of days a week, and hardly interact with anyone in the office, much less clients, so I feel like I can get away with it, but I’m a little hesitant to do it in case they tell me I need to redye it.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Is your hair currently blue, or are you thinking about dying it? Would it make sense to ask your boss first?

    2. Mella*

      One of my colleagues eased into this with an underdye. She wore it up consistently, figuring that if she got comments, she could just let it down and hide it.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I did this as well – I would always wear my hair down when meeting with clients and you could barely see the color. I had a very high profile client at the time and was presenting to C-Suite level contacts and it was never a problem.

      2. Just a PM*

        I did this as well. I thought I’d get some pushback because my organization was fairly conservative (federal employee, DOD) but everyone loved it. Our dress code was business casual.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I would ask. My job is not very formal but nobody here right now has hair in an unnatural color so I feel like it might be a bit over the line. If you’re in “graphic tees under blazers” territory I suspect you might be OK, but it’s probably safer to check.

    4. Emilitron*

      I met a coworker and interacted with her several times before I happened to see that the entire bottom half of her hair was teal! I think she had it pulled back the first time I met her. An ombre from black at the roots to teal at the tips would be fun, and if you got any objections it’s easy to make work-appropriate by just bunning-up the blue part.

    5. Littorally*

      How does the rest of your office tend to present themselves? Not in terms of policy, but in terms of the cultural consensus?

      Does anyone have any unusual piercings that are openly displayed? Any non-traditional grooming, such as unique or eye-catching mustache/beard styles among the men? Do those people tend to get treated as being equally as professional and credible as their more straight-laced colleagues?

      My personal inclination would be not to do this. If you’re already unusual as a woman in a mostly male office, I don’t think it would be advantageous to you to trailblaze in a direction away from quiet professionalism. But I tend to lean very cautious/conservative when it comes to my personal appearance decisions, since I’m already “unprofessional” in a lot of people’s eyes just by existing while trans.

    6. Weekend Please*

      Depending on your natural hair color, can you test the waters with a temporary hair dye to avoid a potentially having to pay to re-dye your hair? If you have dark hair, hair chalk may be an option. Does your company have any rules about tattoos or piercings? If not, then from your description I would guess dying your hair blue would be ok.

      1. Weekend Please*

        Disclaimer: I am a woman in science who has previously dyed my hair purple and had an undercut. I found that people seem to treat me as more credible with weird hair cuts/colors than when I look more traditionally feminine.

        1. Joielle*

          Same here! I’m a lawyer, not a scientist, but I do think people take me more seriously when I have unnaturally-colored hair. I kind of wonder if people think “wow, she must be good if they let her do that.” I had dark blue hair the last time I was interviewing for jobs and was offered every job I interviewed for, so it clearly wasn’t a problem, and my field is pretty conservative on appearance overall.

          I think for the most part, everyone gets one weird thing. For me, it’s hair, so I make a point to dress very professionally, and I kind of rein in other parts of my personality at work. And I make sure to keep up with haircuts and dyeing so it never looks too grown out or faded – I think that’s when unnatural hair colors can start to look a bit unprofessional.

    7. Haha Lala*

      As a fellow woman in engineering I can say with confidence that the majority of my coworkers (all of which are also white men) would not notice any extreme changes in my hairstyle. Maybe one or two of them would ask me when I dyed it, but that’s about it…

      I had really long hair for a while, and I chopped off 18″, and only our receptionist noticed.
      Another time, my boss asked about my ‘new’ cartilage piercing… that I had gotten about 6 years earlier.

      So in your particular case, I’d say go for it and see if anyone actually notices! You already stick out in the office, what’s one more difference gonna do?

    8. gbca*

      As someone in tech as well, I can’t see how this would be an issue, but you know your company’s culture best. Why not ask whoever “they” is whether it would be an issue if you have any concerns that it might be? Then you don’t have to worry about it.

    9. CheeryO*

      I’m in engineering in a similarly-casual office, and my hair has been various shades of pink and purple since March, and I’ve only gotten compliments. YMMV, but it would have been weird for my office culture to ask permission – I’d just do it and be willing to tone it down if you get complaints. If anything, it’s more likely that some of your male colleagues will silently judge you, but honestly, who cares?

    10. Hillary*

      I was the first woman with non-natural hair in my office (which sounds more formal than yours) – I eased into magenta hair by starting with rose gold. If you can already wear graphic t-shirts it should be fine. Maybe start with something darker and ease into teal.

      I love blue, but I’m sticking with pink because the maintenance is easier. Also Keracolor Klenditioner is amazing.

    11. Drago Cucina*

      I appreciated a heads up when someone was planning to go magenta. I said, ‘cool.’ But, when her co-worker commented I was prepared with a statement and policy. Okay, part of my statement was kinda snarky, ‘It’s hair. It grows.’

    12. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      If you’re customer facing you might want to ask, but other than that, I don’t think it matters too much in today’s society. A relative of mine had his secretary ask him just because she’s the first person the clients meet when they come into the law firm. He had no problem with it, but I think people just feel hesitant because the older generations make it seem less “professional.”

      1. Someone else*

        Older generations? I’m 67, and use Punky Colors’ ocean blue (over natural dishwater blond, so Bright). Officially, that’s makes me a blue-haired old lady, right?

        An octogenarian neighbor when I was a child (late 1960s?) had her hair dyed to match her apricot poodle. Admittedly, that drew a few comments, but I think it was the matching nail color that really put her over the edge.

  19. Anon for this here post*

    My boss likes to pit us against each other. My coworker and I stayed late to finish a project and the next day she praised him out loud, but not me. Another time, she complimented me in front of another coworker who became upset by it.

    I think my boss just likes getting us to react or something, but it’s tiring and obnoxious.

    Any advice on how to deal with something like this?

    1. Colette*

      I think the best way to deal with it when she praises you. For example when she says “Anon did a great job on this”, you say “Oh, it wasn’t all me – I couldn’t have done it without coworker.”

      1. BusyBee*

        Agree with this! My grand-boss does something similar, and I find that the best way to combat it is to just not play along. Cheerfully and politely spread the praise around!

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        There was a comment recently from someone who got 3 or 4 ppl to work together to oppose a policy. It worked beautifully and while this is different, you could let coworkers know the boss seems to forget ppl (or if you trust coworkers, say you think it is on purpose) and that you are going to speak up any time you notice. They might choose to do the same.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        Reply in the moment and include your coworkers or team in the praise.

        “Anon worked the weekend to get this done and did a great job”

        You: “Thanks and I’d also like to thank Jane, who also worked all weekend to get this done.”

        People will soon see boss is a jerkface.

    2. Emilitron*

      Yeah, I would absolutely reply by including my coworkers, refuse to be pitted against each other. BUT, that’s a real jerk move on your boss’s part because you can end up look as if you won’t take praise; and then at performance appraisals time are they going to bite back when you try to claim those accomplishments? (“but I thought you said Fergus did a lot of that work?”)

      I’d try phrasing as not “oh, gosh, it was a team effort, I couldn’t have done it without Fergus” but more “wow, thanks for noticing, yes, it was a real challenge and great result, the whole team did well. Please tell Fergus the same (compliment) you just told me, his work on this was fantastic”

  20. goinganon*

    Is there a norm for whether employer-provided health insurance ends on the date of firing or the end of the month, if you’re fired simply for being a bad fit?

    Backstory: I expect to be fired next week. COBRA would be very expensive, and I will qualify for Medicaid when I’m unemployed. The problem is that I have a few follow up appointments before the end of the month, and changing insurance in the middle of them would be a hassle.

    1. MissBliss*

      I have not been fired from a job that offered health care, but, any time I’ve left an organization the health care was extended until the end of the month. I’m not sure there would be a different mechanism for a person who was fired. The monthly cost has already been paid either way.

    2. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Typically, from what I’ve seen/heard, the health insurance is through the end of the month – as MissBliss says, the premium has been paid for the month already, and it can be a real hassle to change that. Not unheard of, I know, but rarely worth it for companies to do it.
      Sorry for your situation, and good luck!

      1. Weekend Please*

        It really depends on the company. Sometimes the company can get a prorated amount back but it is seen as an asshole move. If they are penny pinchers they may cut it off immediately but it is more common to have it go to the end of the month both because it is easier and also because they don’t want to look bad.

    3. Insurance is a pain*

      I wouldn’t count on it continuing until the end of the month. Out of my last 5 employers, 4 had the policy to terminate the insurance on the last day worked (the reason for leaving didn’t affect this). It may depend on the industry or type of company. These were all private companies in construction.

    4. Anono-me*

      I am not a Cobra expert, but. . . I have been told that Cobra is retroactive. It might be helpful to look into.

      1. Double A*

        Yes, it is. Double-check the dates, but I think it’s 3 months.

        I had a gap of 4 months between my previous job and when my insurance for my new job would start. I didn’t pay for COBRA, but I knew if something happened in those 3 months I could pay it and be covered. I just took a risk that nothing would happen that last month and lapsed coverage for a month; totally understand this isn’t a choice everyone would make.

        In every place I’ve left, coverage has gone through the end of the month in which you had your last day (this is why people often try to quit towards the beginning of a month).

        1. Natalie*

          It’s 60 days to opt for it, and then an additional 45 days to pay the first premium, and always retro to your last day of coverage. So you can get a little more than 3 months of float.

    5. JohannaCabal*

      Every time I’ve left a job, voluntarily or not, the insurance has been through the end of the month.

      If the worst does happen next week, it wouldn’t hurt to try to negotiate insurance coverage along with things like a neutral reference, etc. when your manager or HR gives you the news. Many (but not all) companies will negotiate with fired employees (the idea being that the more they give you, the less likely you are to sue or disparage the company).

    6. Chaordic One*

      While you are usually going to be covered until the end of the month, I’ve worked in places where it varied depending on when you were paid and when the insurance contributions were taken out of your paycheck and what time period the contribution was applied to. Your coverage could end in the middle of a month, if you were paid twice a month and let go in the first part of the month, or it could end at the end of the week if you were paid weekly, or at the end of a 2-week period if you were paid every two weeks.

  21. burnoutisreal*

    Today, inspired by posts and conversations here over the years, I sent an email to my boss at my public state university about the assumption that this time of year is always about Christmas. We have our monthly team meeting today and were asked to wear “holiday” gear for a “team photo” – suggestions were “antlers, Santa hats, ugly Christmas sweaters, anything festive!” I wrote to my boss raising my concerns about it, especially given the focus on DEI in recent months. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m sure I’m going to be seen as the fun police.

    Earlier this year my boss told me I’m “the wokest person he knows” and “more woke than a lot of Black people he knows” (this really happened, and yes, it was exactly as cringe as it sounds), so I’m just fulfilling his expectations of me, I guess. :) Anyway, I hope it makes a difference, but I don’t have particularly high hopes of seeing a change.

    Does anyone here have a tale of being able to effect change this way?

      1. academic lab tech*

        eee yeah that’s not a great look! Can’t say I have had success, but I’ve been focusing on doing the work of bringing the language that would be better to see to my boss, and being very specific about that.

      1. burnoutisreal*

        That’s a fair question. I guess I want to see more sensitivity and inclusivity around the potential religious/spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) of our team instead of a blanket assumption of celebrating Christmas. Maybe simply saying explicitly that nobody should feel like they have to participate in this “holiday photo” if it’s not their jam?

        Honestly, I’d settle for a willingness to have a conversation about the assumptions being made.

        1. Fushi*

          They could potentially change the theme to something like “winter” and ask everyone to wear cozy stuff? Then everyone could participate and be given the option to wear holiday sweaters or a non-holiday outfit.

          1. burnoutisreal*

            That’s a great idea! If I had known about the theme for the picture more than one hour before it was actually happening, I would definitely have suggested this as an alternative. Thank you!

        2. peasblossom*

          It wasn’t super clear to me from your post how you tackled your concerns with your manager, but I often find the most helpful thing in combatting people’s assumptions is to name the problem and propose a change. Getting the conversation going tends to stay really abstract (and not transition into real change) unless it’s tethered to concrete solutions. So, with your example, proposing that all holiday events be optional might be a start. Your post also makes it sound like the activities are pretty pervasive. One thing that might help is recommending limiting entire office holiday activities to just a couple of central things and leaving the rest up to individual department members.

          1. burnoutisreal*

            You’re absolutely right. Thank you for that. Still no response from my boss, but when we do eventually talk about it I’ll make sure I have some ides in mind. I appreciate your feedback.

    1. Ashley*

      I have almost gotten my boss to stop referring to women as girls … he says it, but then starts on a path of correction. (He really needs to learn the word Person). This has taken me two years and a ton of capital but I am tired of being less then because I am a female.

      1. burnoutisreal*

        I also interpreted this to mean that you thought that’s what my boss was implying. In the context of what prompted that statement originally – nope! He was actually writing a statement about BLM and asked me to review it, and that was his response when I suggested he might get some POC to review the statement, not me.

        What I meant by bringing that up is that in my apparent role as the designated “woke person” it only makes sense that I would be the one to bring up the potential issues with “holiday” = “Christmas.”

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I’m currently pushing on expanding our office “yes, send us holiday photos to feature!” solicitations to cover not just December holidays and had a similar worry about being seen as trying to keep folks from having fun (but I don’t want to shut down this thing at all, but instead open it up to other times of year when folks may be celebrating important holidays). So far response has been positive but we shall see how it goes when we hit say Eid or Passover and I raise it again…

        1. Ginger Baker*

          I will try to post about it come spring! Definitely also part inspired by AAM posts and comments. <3

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Probably something like “stop defining ‘festive’ as conspicuously Christmas-and-only Christmas things”.

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Well, this would probably come off as an adversarial move (if your boss identified you as the reporter), but you can go to your university’s website and find out where to report discrimination issues. If your boss retaliates against you for raising these concerns, you should definitely report! At my institution, there’s a link to the non-discrimination policy and the appropriate reporting contact people in all website footers.

    4. Analyst Editor*

      Maybe your boss said that because it’s true, and maybe you’re nitpicking language that most people, if you’d ask them, would find inoffensive.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The problem with this take is that, at least in the US, “most people” are Christian, so it’s rather circular logic to say that equating “holiday” and/or “festive” with Christmas is “inoffensive to most people”.

      2. pancakes*

        “Most people” is very regional and situational in this context. In my city, where there is a large Jewish population, it would be considered at least a bit obtuse to speak as if everyone in the workplace celebrates Christmas.

  22. BusyBee*

    I have been with my company for 3 years, and in the last year my role changed from marketing to an intensive IT/technical role. I did not want the new role, but was assigned it and over time embraced the challenge to try and make this role my own. However, my company recently merged with another and the scope of this new role has expanded. While I was willing to give it a try, at this point I don’t think I have the necessary skills to guide the department in our new merged company, which has high hopes for this position/department.

    My problem is that I don’t know what to tell my boss. She negotiated a raise and title change for me related to this new role, and I feel terrible telling her “You know what, never mind. I’m not suited for this”. I know I am well regarded in my company, but I really don’t feel I have the skills to do this job well, nor do I have the interest. I’m looking for a new job because this is not the direction I want my career going in, but since it’s end-year review time, do I also raise this with my boss? Or is finding a new role the only solution here?


    1. DaisyAvalin*

      Maybe just tell your boss exactly what you’ve said here:

      You’re grateful for the raise and title change w/r/t this new role, but you think you’ve gone as far as you can with the skills you have.

      Could your career path stay with this company in a different role? Is there [would you be interested in] extra training, or a reshuffle of the role’s responsibilities so that one of your colleagues takes on more of the higher-skilled work while you expand to cover responsibilities that use more of the skills you already have? Maybe your boss will have some ideas, but they ought to hear your worries/may address the matter themselves in your one-to-one if they’ve noticed you struggling.

      Good luck!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you should raise your concerns with your boss. You don’t have to say “Never mind” or “I’m not cut out for this,” but you can lay out the challenges you’ve faced and how things changed more than you expected and also say what you would like to have happen. If you don’t think there’s anything your boss can do, then… well, then I wouldn’t bring it up and would just keep looking for a new job.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      Maybe you should explore the situation a little more quietly. Start by asking whether the organization you’re merging with has an IT person, and whether that person is going to be retained, and what kind of IT systems the new organization has, and so forth. Once you know all the details of what’s going on you’ll be much better equipped to make a decision.

      If planning hasn’t reached the stage of making those decisions, then it might be appropriate to discuss your concerns and say something like, “as you know, I’ve never been terribly comfortable in the IT role, maybe we can keep their IT person and return me to llama grooming” or “As you know I don’t have a lot of IT training, maybe I can work under their IT person with the idea that I’ll move back to teapot painting when a position opens up.”

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I gave official notice on Monday and am battling the inevitable senior-itis by, apparently, kicking some serious butt on my projects. Better to leave a legacy than a pile of poop, I guess. My background check cleared at my new job, I’ve spoken to my soon-to-be boss and he’s really excited I’m coming on board, I’m feeling really good.

    One thing that’s been really weird, though, is that our head of operations– who also serves as de facto HR– has barely communicated with me except to message me to say she’s sorry I’m leaving and congratulations. I thanked her and then said we should at least discuss logistics of me getting equipment back to the office (we’re all working from home now but I’m a few states away), and she said, “Maybe later.” I haven’t received anything related to the usual “what to do when an employee leaves,” like insurance information. No one EVER leaves this company, apparently.

    I’ll email her on Monday about what I would like to get done before I leave. My last day is the 23rd, and while that seems far away, it’s… not. Here’s my list– am I missing anything?
    – Plan to get the equipment back (will she arrange a pick-up, do I have to get everything packed and shipped, etc.)
    – COBRA information
    – 401(k) information (?)
    – Whether my last paycheck will be direct deposit or paper check

    1. HatBeing*

      You may already know this, but asking if your W-2 will be available electronically or mailed to you. You can request that they send a box with a prepaid return label for shipping back equipment if that is viable (as head of ops/hr that’s what I send to employees who are leaving).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Ah, yes, thank you! I’m used to grabbing my W2 from our payroll site, so I didn’t think about whether I would still have access to that– I will ask.

        I am hoping they’ll send me a box and arrange a pickup… fingers crossed! Otherwise I have to shlep everything during Christmas shipping season. No thank you.

        1. Ashely*

          Since she isn’t being forthcoming on logistics I would tell her what you want for shipping supplies and labels etc and copy your boss in it. I would use the Allison often suggested approach of of course you will be doing this super normal thing.

    2. DEJ*

      They actually have a certain amount of time before they are required to notify you of your COBRA rights, so it may be awhile before you get the COBRA paperwork.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I wouldn’t automatically assume she’s being a jerk, although she might well be. It might be that she herself hasn’t considered the logistics involved and doesn’t really know. Or maybe she’s swamped with other issues. But, yeah, send her an email on Monday to gently give her a push so that she’s prepared to act on it.

    4. the informatics epidemiologist in the room*

      If you participate in an FSA or other healthcare savings plan, ask about those logistics. I once got surprised by “it has to be spent by the end of your last day” and had like 6 hours to spend $700. All of my friends got first aid kits and contact lens solution by the gallon that year for Christmas.

    5. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

      If you have any leave time that will be paid out to you (PTO, sick leave, etc) and how that will happen (separate check? Combined with last paycheck?).

      Does your org do an exit interview in person or will they mail you forms to fill out later? (I’ve had orgs do both)

  24. no dogs on the moon*

    any advice for career fairs?

    i’m looking to change into a new type of role and i scheduled an appointment for a place i’d love to work (and actually recently applied for a job with) during an upcoming virtual career fair.

    this is my first time doing anything like this and i want to make sure i don’t goof up, ha. should i mention i recently applied? there are a couple of other roles i’m looking at so i feel like maybe i should just focus on those so it doesn’t seem like i’m trying to circumvent anything.

    if you’ve had good luck with career fairs any tips would be appreciated!

    1. Web Crawler*

      I got my job from a career fair in college (an in-person one because it was 2018).

      Context: It was one specifically for computer science students, and we had a “career class” that made me create a resume, an elevator pitch (why you should hire me in 1 minute or less), and talk to 3 companies at the career fair.

      1. I got more out of talking to smaller companies. There was a 3 hour wait to talk to Google- in that time, I could talk to recruiters from so many local businesses, where there was no line, I could talk to them longer, and I was one of 20 faces instead of 200.

      2. Google the company before talking to them, if you don’t know much. Most people don’t do this. When I knew the basics about XYZ, like just that they groomed llamas and were based in Wisconsin, recruiters were impressed.

      3. Do mention that you’ve applied. It won’t come off as circumventing the process, but it will probably change the conversation. They’ll switch out of “convince this person to apply” mode at least. Sometimes they’ll ask you more questions, and sometimes they’re only interested in generating applications, so they’ll end the conversation with you early. If that happens, remember that it’s not you.

      4. Come up with a few questions, like you might ask in a phone screen.

      5. Having an elevator pitch is useful, but some of my peers were too rigid about it. Like, answering “how are you doing?” with “hello my name is webcrawler and i have been looking for an internship in the gaming or finance industries and i am willing to relocate… ”

      Got any specific questions? I tried to leave out the stuff that was specific to being in-person.

  25. Joy*

    Hi, I recently had a job interview for a teller position. I have worked retail for several years and my current job is being a cashier.
    During the interview, the interviewers asked me how much money was in the draw at my retail jobs. I replied $100,200, and 500. However, I have handled transactions where customers purchased three thousand dollars worth of merchandise and paid in hundreds or twenty dollar bills.
    The interviewers then look at me with pity and say that they highly doubt I can balance a $20,000 draw and I don’t have enough experience to become a teller. Mind you, the job pays $14 an hour and the only education requirement is a high school diploma and 6 months cash handling experience. I told them that I feel confident that I can handle that much cash and would do my best to ensure accuracy, but the interviewers weren’t having it.
    I want to ask. How does one obtain a teller job when one has never handled a $20,000 draw? Do retailers in cities like flagship stores carry that much cash in their draw or were these interviwers in the wrong?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m astonished that high value sales are going through in cash.

      Cash handling is mostly about mental arithmetic. If the register tells you to give $0.62 in change, can you get that right every time? Can you get $62 right every time?

      I don’t understand their snobby logic.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        In college, I worked at a cash-only bar. All the prices of the beers/drinks ended in increments of $0.25 (we actually made a lot more in tips because people would tip us with dollar bills and then the quarters left over). We didn’t use calculators and we had to tell the customer their total before they handed us any money (and before we could ring up the sale on the cash register). So we all got REALLY good at quick math. It became my nature to remember the different combinations and patterns as part of the routine.

        So, to your point about the mental arithmetic, it just takes practice. I could do it back then without the aid of calculators, counting machines, or any of the equipment and training available to a bank teller. Even without all of that, I only had my draw come up wrong once or twice, and only by a few dollars.

        Agreed that had an incredibly snobbish attitude! I’m sorry that Joy experienced that, but I think that’s a THEM problem, not a Joy problem. Good luck elsewhere!

    2. Memyselfandi*

      I can’t answer your question, but I love that you spell drawer the way it is properly pronounced, “draw.” I’m thinking we come from the same part of the country. I refer to it as the Law of Conservation of R’s. For example, dinosaur can properly pronounced dinorsaw (as I do), because the R from the end of the word is conserved within the word.

      I would ask the interviewers to give you a test on balancing a draw. If you know anyone who is a teller and can give you some training, you could show them that you can do it. Best of luck!

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        “For example, dinosaur can properly pronounced dinorsaw (as I do), because the R from the end of the word is conserved within the word.”
        I’ve read this three or four times, and I’m so very confused.

        1. Dinoweeds*

          Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me either but I’m from a part of the country that has a very neutral accent and would never pronounce drawer or dinosaur without the “r” at the end.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If anyone comes back and sees this, what this references is “rhotic” vs. “non-rhotic” pronunciation in English. It’s very regional and linguistically the history of its changes & migration is fascinating. (To me at least.)

      2. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        i have never in my life heard anyone pronounce “dinosaur” as dinorsaw *scratches head*

    3. RagingADHD*

      That makes no sense. There is no difference in balancing a large sum than a smaller sum – it’s all math and counting. The order of the numbers doesn’t change!

      I know people who have been hired as tellers at national-name banks with little or no retail experience at all.

      I wonder if they were using that as a deflection from some other objection that they couldn’t or weren’t willing to articulate. If perhaps something in your history or demeanor made them question your judgment, responsibility, or ability to work independently? Because the difference between balancing a $500 till and a $20,000 till has nothing to do with the numbers. It’s all about being able to trust the person to follow procedure quickly and correctly, without getting flustered or making a lot of errors.

      Do you feel like there might have been some subtext going on in the interview that you weren’t getting? The whole conversation sounds really odd.

      1. Joy*

        No, everything was going fine and then I asked the question what concerns do you have about me that I can answer. The ABM asked me how much cash was in the draws that my jobs and I answered what I said above and then that’s when the interviewers looked at me with pity and said that cash handling is extremely important to have, which I do have.

    4. Twisted Lion*

      Former teller here and that is ridiculous. I got hired with the same experience as you, just doing a cash drawer in a retail store.

      If I may suggest, try applying at Credit Unions as they are less ridiculous than banks when it comes teller work. They are heavy into customer service and you should mention if you were good at cross selling things (they usually want tellers to try to cross sell getting electronic statements or debit cards or something dumb). Also if you try again at a different place mention that you have experience looking at checks to make sure everything is correct, balancing your drawer and opening accounts (even if it was just for a customer service reward account). I think the most at my drawer was $10000. Sounds like you might have dodged a bullet.

    5. Enough*

      I actually had a retail job where the store could have that much cash during Christmas. But these days with more debit and credit card use I doubt anyone will have anywhere near that much. But our cashiers didn’t deal with balances. That was what the service desk personnel dealt with. Each morning I collected the bags for all the registers and made up the bank deposit. This did include balancing out each individual register.
      Sounds like they want people they don’t have to train. Although most cash training is just what to count and what buttons to push. The tellers don’t necessarily have any idea what is actually going on and couldn’t do the end of shift process if they had to do it on paper.

    6. peasblossom*

      I worked as a teller in college and this strikes me as very unusual if you understood them correctly. Don’t fixate on the size of the cash drawer or comments about it. Instead, you want to make clear in interviews that you’re capable of keeping track of multiple complex transactions and that you have experience doing so. For example, talk about long sales days you worked where you handled multiple complicated transactions, or make clear what your track record was on balancing your drawer at the end of a long day. You want to communicate that you’re able to work with a lot of transactions with minimal errors.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been in banking for 25 years and started as a teller, and then was a teller manager, and so on. It makes no sense to me that they’d tell you they “highly doubt” you can handle a $20,000 cash drawer even though you have cashiering experience. The amount in the drawer doesn’t matter. If you can handle cash at a retail store, you can handle cash at a bank. Sure, there’s a little more security around it at a bank, but cash is cash. Plus anyone hiring someone for a teller position who hasn’t worked in a bank before–very common since a lot of our new hires come from retail and not other banks–knows there’s training involved, not only around cash handling, but security, regulations, policies, and procedures. If they really said this to you then just move on to applying at a different bank, like a small community bank, or a small credit union.

      “Do retailers in cities like flagship stores carry that much cash in their draw or were these interviwers in the wrong?”

      None of the retail stores I’ve worked at would have this much in their drawer. Not even a teller would have that much these days, at least not out front on the line–they might have it in their personal vault or in the cash dispenser, though.

  26. HatBeing*

    Is there a headset out there that only picks up noise very close to it, like say from the wearer’s mouth and not other noises in the room? My wife and I share a home office and she does a lot of trainings. She has a great speaking voice and projects so her trainees can hear and understand her. However, my co-workers can also hear and understand her when I’m on calls! I’m on the phone a lot less and she needs her multiple monitors for training, so I’ve been going downstairs for my calls, but I’d love to not have to if such a headset exists.

    1. Reba*

      Great question as my spouse also PROJECTS on the phone. I think this is partly due to using nice over-ear headphones, which dampen all sound (even with noise cancellation off) including the sound of one’s own voice. So I sometimes ask him to just knock one can off his ear so he can recalibrate from time to time. (To share the blame, I also def have “presentation voice” at times!) I guess I’m saying, your spouse’s trainees have volume controls on their machines… maybe she can reshape some of her speaking habits.

      But, for the hardware question, you may want to look at gaming headsets with a “boom” mic, rather than mic on the ear or on the cord — the boom mics are usually uni-directional and of course closer to your mouth. There are some gaming headsets that also claim to exclude background noise.

      1. HatBeing*

        I don’t want to ask her to change her speaking habits–this is a new job for her that she is CRUSHING it! I have also been on too many webinars where I couldn’t hear the presenters, haha! She can’t wear headsets due to a recent surgery, but does pop in earbuds if she isn’t the main speaker. I’ll take a look at some gaming headsets for me, thanks!

    2. DEJ*

      Check out the Mpow 071 USB Headset on Amazon. Cheaper than a lot of gaming headsets and clearly meant for work usage in a situation like this. I sit in an open office situation and it’s been helpful for me because I felt like I was yelling at my computer on video calls.

    3. burnoutisreal*

      I found what really helped that with my cheap MPOW headset at home is just adding a foam piece (or a weird fake fur one that my husband has) over the mouthpiece. It looks from my brief Amazon search like the word to use to find it is “windscreen.”

    4. Cher Horowitz*

      My partner swears by their headset with a boom mike (so similar to a gaming headset)
      I think it looks cheesy but hey it work!

  27. anonforthis*

    Does anyone have experience with for-profit or public trust colleges/universities? I’m specifically interested in work environment and whether you frown on them when hiring for jobs elsewhere. I interviewed at one a few years ago and was appalled by their openly toxic college president, but they folded a few years later.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Agreed. And the reputation will follow you for a long time, and it will be harder to get other jobs elsewhere once a for-profit is on your resume.

    1. A Teacher*

      Watch the PBS Frontline special “College, Inc.” before jumping into the avenue. It is a few years old but one I show my students yearly.

    2. Beans are green*

      Yes. And trying to move from for-profit to nonprofit higher ed is tough. There’s a strong stigma to the for profits.

    3. Pam*

      I work in higher ed, and for-profit university experience moves you to my probably-not pile. Working at high levels of administration- financial aid, admissions, etc. puts you in the oh, hell, NO pile.

  28. Ina*

    Hi – I have a question for a friend who struggles with attention to detail and efficiency (probably some level of ADHD). He is very intelligent, a great thinker, and hard working, but works as a lawyer where attention to detail and efficiency are two fundamental components of day-to-day work. He performs well on tasks that require legal knowledge and insight (even if he does them slowly) and critical thinking, but struggles with more mundane clerical/administrative tasks. Once he gets far enough into his career to have a secretary, he will be completely fine. However, he is currently struggling to avoid making “small” (but potentially major) mistakes on tasks that are more administrative in nature. My question is, how do other readers with ADHD cope? What strategies do you use to keep focused and avoid mistakes? For any lawyers out there, do you have advice on how to perform well enough at the early stages of your career to get to a point where help like secretaries can be affordable? Are there any types of legal jobs/working environments that might be more suitable for someone with ADHD? My friend had a horrible experience with Ritalin and Concerta and does not want to go down that road. Thank you very very much, and I hope that everyone and their families are all staying safe and healthy during these times.

    1. FoolishFox*

      Personally, I handle it with checklists. If I make a mistake on a recurring task, checking for it goes on the list.
      Also, ADHD makes me particularly susceptible to stress and lack of sleep, so I try hard to keep my sleep schedule and reduce stress. Therapy also helps me.

    2. Julianna*

      He might want to try some of the newer classes of drugs, just fyi—they won’t work for everyone but Ritalin did very little for me and Vyvanse is literally a lifesaver. Obviously thats anecdotal, though—medication is different for everyone.

      Checklists are a great idea—there are a bunch of gamification task lists that sometimes people find fun. Finding the time of day when your brain is most focused is also ideal, so maybe doing admin stuff first thing in the morning.

      But ultimately administrative tasks are hell for ADHD—dull, repetitious tasks that require high attention to detail are the worst and a side effect of ADHD is that it is harder to learn from your mistakes, so all the knowledge in the world that you need to slow down and do things carefully rarely helps.

      All that to say, the sooner your friend can subcontract or get a secretary part time, people who have high attention to detail and don’t hate repetitive work are godsends (if you have adhd, I suggest making friends with people like this and trying to work with them).

      (All of this is anecdotal based on my experience with Inattentive type ADHD)

    3. Jaybeetee*

      Yes, checklists for mundane tasks. Also (and I imagine this might be challenging in the legal field) doing things ahead of their deadlines so he has time to look them over later. Sometimes if you reread something immediately you’ll catch errors, but often you won’t unless you look at it later with fresh eyes.

      Finally, resist the urge to rush. I can imagine he races through the admin work to get back to the main parts of his job. He has to force himself to go slow enough that he’s paying attention and not just dashing things off.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have combined subtype and, while stimulant meds helped me a lot mentally, they were hell on my body. I’m now on non-stimulant (Strattera) and find it works great for mental agility and noticing details that I would miss without meds.

      IANAL but used to work in law firms for many years as a legal secretary. IME, all forms of litigation (except maybe insurance defense) tend to be higher-stress and faster pace, which tends to attract people with ADHD-ish tendencies (the big-personality, charismatic kind). Probably because the adrenaline acts as a stimulant drug and helps them focus. The downside is that there’s a low margin of error.

      Practice areas like contracts, tax, corporate, and trust & estates are usually more chill, with long deadlines and usually comparatively low drama. More margin of error, but less stimulation. T&E, and to a certain extent small-business corporate, tend to value personal warmth and people skills particularly highly because you mostly deal with families doing long-range planning.

      I’m guessimating that things like securities, and transactional law might be the worst areas for unmedicated ADHDers because you have long, slow lead up periods with a large volume of extremely detailed finance and nitpicky wording, and then a high-stakes closing where everything has to happen at once and a small error can cost lots of money.

      Of course those are all sweeping generalizations and will have a lot of variance, but it’s just based on what I’ve seen.

      The general principle to prevent errors and forgetting things is to pretend that you share the job with another person, who will not know what you did or what needs to be done next unless you document it. (This person is Future You, who will not remember ANYTHING this time tomorrow, much less a month from now when that filing is due.)

      If you stop in the middle of a document onscreen, type [START HERE] before you save it. If you have a stack of documentation on your desk, use a post-it note to tell you where you stopped. If you get interrupted during a task, write a quick post-it note to remind you what you were doing, and stick it on your computer screen before you attend to the interruption.

      Spend the last 10 minutes of each workday setting up what needs to be done tomorrow, and the first 10 minutes of each workday orienting yourself to what needs to be done today. An excellent part of this time is to keep a running, un-ordered “brain dump” list of everything that possibly needs doing anytime, now or in the future. Then you can use those am/pm check-in times to look over the list, add dates or priorities, and choose which of those things need to be done next.

      The best type of error-control system is going to depend a lot on what sort of admin errors he’s making.

      For recurring tasks and due dates, I find electronic checklists that automatically recur to be very helpful. That includes a checklist of non-urgent but useful work that can be done in “downtime”. It’s also a very good practice to set a reminder for anything that needs to be followed up on.

      Electronic reminders are convenient, but also can be easy to ignore. One thing that saved my bacon many times was a physical “tickler” file – an expandable folder with dated pockets where I could store papers and notes for a specific day I needed to do something about them. Then I just needed to check the day’s pocket to have my reminders in place.

      If there is something you need to be consistent about doing every day but are struggling to make a habit, tie it to an existing habit. If you have a cup of coffee first thing every morning, put something in/on your coffee mug to prompt the new habit. That kind of thing.

      If he’s having trouble with typos and documents, he can improve his proofreading several ways:
      1) read from the end of the document, one sentence at a time.
      2) change everything to double-spaced, and change the font or color to shake up his brain into seeing it differently
      3) Print it out, and mark each paragraph with highlighter as he proofs it, or if he’s incorporating handwritten changes into a document, mark off each change as he makes it.
      4) If he’s transferring information from written to computer, or vice-versa, use a document holder next to the monitor so that both sources are in his eyeline at the same time. Looking back and forth between two sources creates an opportunity to lose or garble information in the gap.
      5) If he’s comparing 2 sources onscreen, use split-screen to do the same thing electronically.
      6) If possible, proof things out loud with a partner. If nobody’s available, he can try having a program read things aloud to him.
      7) For anything involving a series of documents, never keep them in an undifferentiated stack! Make a physical, labeled space for each significant piece so you can immediately see if something is empty (missing or misfiled).
      8) Use LOTS of sticky notes and page flags. Do not ever assume you’ll remember anything.

      The 2 most helpful books for me about workflow and keeping organized were not ADHD-specific. They were “Work Clean” by Dan Charnas and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

    5. Quest*

      You say “probably some level of ADHD” — which I read as he doesn’t have a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist — but that he has tried a couple of ADHD drugs and had a bad experience with them. I recommend that he get a formal evaluation with a psychiatrist and discuss his prior experiences with these drugs (and the specific dosages he took). A doctor will typically start you off at the lowest possible dosage and increase it gradually as you acclimate to it; he is unlikely to have a terrible experience under their guidance if he shares all this information with them.

      Despite some level of ADHD, your friend has completed law school and it sounds like he is doing reasonably well in his career… good for him! That in itself is an accomplishment.

      ADHD is varies a lot in severity and level of dysfunction. It sounds to me like he is probably on the “low” to “medium” end (note: these aren’t medical terms, just my way of thinking about this). But this doesn’t mean he doesn’t face a lot of difficulty at work which would be alleviated with the right help. Some examples of that include: pharmaceutical help, psychological intervention (i.e. behavioral changes), performance psychology tactics (also behavioral changes), and what I think of as holistic changes: enough sleep, regular exercise (or just an active lifestyle), regular and nutritious meals, hydration, etc.

      I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid-twenties. Until then, I coped fairly well by using only performance psychology strategies. Yet, starting medication was life-changing. There is no way in hell I would be where I am in my career today without it. In order to keep up that upward trajectory (but also in order to maintain emotional and mental happiness and health), I am trying to incorporate the holistic changes I mentioned above into my personal ADHD management program. One has to do a lot to manage ADHD and there is no quick fix (certainly medicine alone — or for that matter, regular sleep/exercise alone — will not fix it). I recommend that your friend seek all the help he can find.

    6. ADHD sucks*

      Newly diagnosed here. I have asked my boss to have someone in our marketing department proof-read my marketing materials so that she wouldn’t have to. Grandboss refused, so I hired someone to do that for me. Fortunately, I don’t write much.

      Now that I have a diagnosis, I will ask for an accommodation to have someone proof read before I submit things to the boss. I think it would fit the definition of “reasonable,” because I don’t write buckets of content every day.

      I tried using Grammarly, because most of my errors were punctuation errors, but it messed up my computer so I uninstalled it.

      So my answer is: if accuracy is needed but you’re not a professional proof reader, find a professional proof reader!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      One strategy is to target recurring mistakes and recurring difficulties.

      My friend does legal work and she talks about some of the stuff she has done to cut down on all. the. problems.

      One thing she has done is banish black pens. All signatures are done in blue ink. This means less time lost to trying to figure out which is the original and which is the copy. (If he can use blue ink, that is.)

      She has form-letters-for-every-occasion. These letters can be reused and even customized to fit the current case. The form letters contain the correct wording that needs to be shown (some phrases are exact). Her information, name/address/contact points are included on the form.

      Forms that must be printed before use, get the basic info filled in. So when making copies, some of the repetitive parts are already completed.

      For myself in my own job, I save time and frustration on printer jams by making sure every time I add paper I fan it. With any job, I have targeted the recurring problems and made efforts to reduce or remove the problem. It’s always a good starting point, when trouble shooting a question like this.

      1. Chaordic One*

        With the form letters, if they’re set up in Word (or another program) and if there are multiple scenarios, consider having a separate paragraph for each of the most common scenarios. When you need to send a letter, keep the paragraph for the appropriate scenario and then delete the paragraphs for the scenarios that do not apply and that you are not using.

    8. Purple Penguin*

      In addition to seconding many of the great suggestions listed here, I’d add that it’s worth suggesting that he pay attention to his mental and physical rhythms.

      Is he most alert right away in the morning or the evening or some other time? What’s his time threshold for detailed focus: is it 25 minutes or 2 hours? Is focus on the detail the main issue or is it an issue of trouble starting (and then hurrying through the task b/c of a time pressure)? How does he read: Does he actually read word for word or does he skim (or some other method). Once he figures out how he best functions and what the particular “barriers to doing” are, then he can create strategies to ensure the needed attention to detail is done. Can he focus with a body double or only when alone? Does working with music on help or hinder?

      There are quite a few good podcasts for people with ADHD that include great strategies appropriate for lawyers (and the dreaded attention to detail). Check out ADHD reWired and Translating ADHD.

    9. lazy intellectual*

      No advice but commiseration for your friend. I have ADHD and actively decided against a law career for this reason.

  29. Krakatoa*

    Question for the crowd, is there a good script for resigning a job that was genuinely great?

    I genuinely have no complaints about my boss and, honestly, feel like it’s the best boss and best job I’ve had. I love the coworkers, I love the patients, and they’ve really helped me grow in my career. But Covid has wrecked my particular industry hard, especially the segment of it that my company is. Small businesses haven’t fared well and mine wasn’t immune. My bosses have stopped paying themselves to ensure we haven’t had to layoff anyone else and could remain full time for most of the time. No raises and insurance went up.

    I interviewed for a large with a larger company that has weathered it better. It’s one of the few openings in my career and it came with much better benefits and salary, as well as better hours than I had. It’s slightly different work from what I’ve doing, but I am excited for the challenge.

    But I’m dreading telling my current boss, because they have been so great to me and I’ve been one of their best employees (my performance reviews have been great my entire time here). They’ve also had a very hard year personally, as well as from a business standpoint (they lost their spouse). I feel legit bad about resigning for this new job, but it really is just better all around for my family.

    Anyone have any good ways to go about resigning?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think you should say exactly that. You’ve loved working there but you need to be in a place that’s better all around for your family. Nothing wrong with being sincere, and it’s ok that you feel bad, but you’re making the right move due to the circumstances. If they’re that great, they’ll understand!

      1. Bostonian*

        Yup. When I left a company that I had been at for 8 years with a role and boss that I really liked, I flat out told him he was the best boss I’d had, and that I enjoyed the work, but had to take this other role at another company. He was a bit grumbly and cold (as we were walking to his office before I resigned, he actually said, “you better not be leaving” AWKWARD). BUT he must’ve gotten over it because he ended up giving me a nice card/message when I left.

        So even if your boss is shocked or disappointed in the moment, if they’re reasonable they’ll come to their senses that you were just doing what’s best for you!

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      Explain to your boss that you’ve been offered a better opportunity that makes more sense for yourself and your goals and offers more stability. I can’t say that they’ll be happy, but most bosses know that turnover happens.

    3. Jen*

      Like I posted below, one of my employees just resigned. She just told me that it was not a conversation she was thrilled to have, but she wanted to let me know that she received a job offer she was thrilled about and that she was going to accept it. She said that she truly enjoyed the work and she liked the company and coworkers, but the new job is in an industry she is more interested in and it also comes with a large salary increase. I wished her well and I told her I’d figure out the next steps she needed to take in our HR system. That was pretty much it!

      I particularly appreciated the fact that she was very straightforward and didn’t keep me guessing. She messaged me on IM to tell me she wanted to talk about a job offer she got, so I got the opportunity to get used to the idea before we talked on the phone. She wasn’t overly emotional, but not overly stiff either. We had and still have a good working relationship and I’ll be very happy if our paths cross again!

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I recently resigned and I was just honest that I loved my work and colleagues, but I had an opportunity for advancement that was too good to pass up. My manager took it well, even though it puts the rest of my 2 person team in a bind. A good manager will be happy for you, even if it means difficulties in the short term.

  30. Trying not to be a Grinch but definitely not an Elf*

    I’ve been managing the same department of 40 people at a large company for 5 years. Our company has a fairly decent PTO policy, but the catch is that you can only roll over 80 hours into the next year. They used to have a payout program, but they discontinued that about 4 years ago. Every year without fail, I send out reminders to the group in September to check their PTO balances and to schedule time off. And every year, I have at least one person who claims to forget and comes to me right before the holidays stating that they have PTO time that they have to use or they’ll lose it. The last 2 weeks of the year are our most requested days for our department and are typically booked when the PTO calendar becomes available in January. If we’re slow and we can have additional people off, I do what I can, but I’ve had to tell people more than once that there’s nothing that I can do by the point that they come to me as we’re a coverage based position and can only have so many people out.

    When people started cancelling their scheduled PTO in Spring and Summer, I grew extra concerned about this issue, and I made sure to remind each of them to book time off at another time. I’ve had multiple requests from the department about whether there will be an exception to the roll-over policy or if the company will authorize a pay-out this year. The company’s answer has been no on both. This week, I’ve had 4 employees come to me with the problem of remembering that they suddenly had PTO time that they will lose; one of them has over 60 hours. (In a more normal year, I probably would have caught the person with 60+ hours earlier while entering payroll and addressed it, but we’re slammed, and I’m already working 12+ hours a day)Our PTO calendar is completely booked until the end of the year, we’re an essential business and incredibly busy right now, and I feel like there’s nothing that I can do.
    I’m frustrated that the company won’t make any exceptions in light of the issues that this year has presented, but I’m also really annoyed with these people. I don’t feel that it’s fair for them to lose out on this benefit, but my hands feel really tied right now. The truth of the matter is that I’m going to lose about 24 hours as well, and I figure that’s my own fault, but that’s not something that I would express to employees.

    1. academic lab tech*

      I’m so sorry about this! It’s too bad your company wouldn’t at least up the number of hours they could roll over, as if as you’ve said lots of people have been working more than 8 hours to pick up the slack. At that point it’s basically just working for the company for free.

    2. Emilitron*

      How much immediate flexibility do you have – can you say “sorry, Dec 21-31 aren’t available, but you can take off 15-18th next week”?

    3. Colette*

      It’s too bad, but this sounds largely self-inflicted. They knew the rules they were working under; they could have booked time off earlier. (I agree it would be nice if the company made an exception, but that’s a liability for them, and these people already have 2 weeks saved up going in to the new year.)

    4. Ashely*

      I think some of this is about individual responsibility. It would be great if you can hand hold people to use their benefits but again it has been a crazy year. Depending on your role and theirs you can just keep stating it is company policy and at some point they need to decide if they can go up the food chain to pressure for a change / exception. If you can make a case for if you had taken your 24 hours or why you can’t you might be able to lobby for yourself to get paid for it.

    5. See You Anon*

      I hear you. I work for state government that instituted this policy last year, so this is the first time people are dealing with it, plus all the employees in public health have been working non-stop. Same response; no exceptions, use it or lose it. I understand that the vacation time is a liability and the state is broke, but it is frustrating.

    6. PX*

      Lots of sympathy for people losing their vacation, but they are adults. You reminded them several times, if they didnt take the time – that is and was their decision to make. My company did the same thing and even though people grumbled about not being able to carry hours over, everyone started taking their time in November and December to make sure they used it up.

      You’ve done all you can, this is on them now.

    7. Drago Cucina*

      I feel the frustration. Last year, at old job, I told one person to take the last three weeks of December off. Fortunately we had enough people. But, it really would have been on her if she had lost 3 weeks of vacation. We had even increased the roll over.

      In my current work environment people have been reminded since March to take time off. It would take an act of Congress (not an exaggeration) to be able to extend the leave roll over. People can donate a week of leave. There are still too many at my center who haven’t taken or donated and it will be lost.

    8. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      I’m kinda on the fence this year about this. My company does allow some unofficial roll over so long as there is a good reason for it (like the two years where I was literally the ONLY person doing my job so never truly got my holidays or vacation so I got unofficial exceptions as soon as we expanded the team) and there was truly going to be a negative impact to operations to have someone taking their leave. The rest of the time, it just expires and the employee is out. It is a perk and I do hate to see people lose time but they are adults and they do need to manage this. You’ve given them plenty of reminders. However, this has been a year of extreme uncertainty and unusualness. I’d err to the side of finding some way to allow them to take it off the books in January if you can. Many people might have been afraid to take their leave due to concerns of being seen as not needed and made redundant. Any other year, I’d just tell them that I’m sorry, but they were given plenty of options to take it and didn’t. If it happened regularly with a single employee, that would be worth a conversation. (Fergus, this is the third year in a row. Why are you not taking your holiday time?) If I saw it across the team, I’d look at myself and company culture to see if we were giving the benefit but making it difficult to use or indirectly punishing employees for taking it.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        The suggestion to take it off the books in January is frankly common in my local govt organization, although as a fairly new manager within it, it makes me nervous about the precedent. Our entire org (10K+ ppl) is basically in this situation, and we just got a memo from on high that we get a one-time rollover of expiring/capped accruals from December 2020 into a new COVID Leave Bucket that – wait for it- will be frozen in 2021 but available in 2022 on a 1-to-1 basis. And this news was presented on Dec. 3 after leave requests were already in for December and people already had their accrual usage worked out. I will say the employees aren’t super impressed with the largesse.

  31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Ive tested positive for COVID. I have been working while sick but Im considering taking time off. I’m not sure if I should- one of my coworkers who was out for COVID just got fired. But I do feel miserable. What should I say to my boss?

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      If your boss can’t understand that you need time off to recover while you’re sick, then they’re not a very good boss. The same for your company. I wouldn’t assume that they’ll fire you for needing time off for having COVID19 unless there’s more going on here.

    2. academic lab tech*

      Moreover, if you’re in the US I think there are protections about letting you have time off if you’re sick with COVID. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d suggest looking into it

    3. Colette*

      I’d look into what the laws are (i.e. can you be fired for having COVID).

      But if you can’t work, I’d just say “I’m sick and won’t be able to work today” or “I’ve been diagnosed with COVID and it’s hit me hard, I won’t be able to work today.”

      I hope you get better soon.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m going to assume that you’re working from HOME while you’re positive, and yes, if you’re not feeling well, you should take time off (as someone already said, I believe COVID-related sick leave is legally protected). After all, you’re not at 100% even if you are at home.

      If you’re working in an office or around people in any way? You need to be at home. This is serious business.

    5. The New Normal*

      Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows employees who work for employers of less than 500 employees to take up to 80 hours of emergency sick leave. FMLA and other federal laws protect qualified individuals absent from work because of a serious health condition. In both laws, you cannot be fired for taking time off while you are sick with COVID-19.

      Take your time. Be well.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Based on your reply below that indicates you are working in person, yes you should absolutely take time off. You are spreading a potentially fatal illness. Granted, you didn’t know before but now you do.

      You should say that you tested positive for COVID and must self-isolate. And while you are at home, look up the applicable laws that should protect your job. Do not screw around with this.

      Thousands of people are dying every day and thousands more are being left with long-term or permanent physical damage. We are losing a generation of healthcare workers who are dying, burning out and leaving the profession in droves because the death and trauma is too much. The only way it stops is if people do the right thing.

      If you could stop a literal murderer by calling out sick, wouldn’t you?

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, good. You should still be able to get time to rest when you’re sick. Hope you can, and feel better soon.

  32. Pain au chocolat*

    My boss makes us cc her on every email, she gets upset if we don’t constantly “check in” with her and will even say, “I didn’t talk to you today”, she gets mad if she orders lunch and you don’t want to participate, etc. She will never say what she wants, but expects you to do it. She won’t say what her expectations are, but will make snide remarks if something isn’t done the right or if she isn’t happy with something, she’ll pick on the person instead of telling them what is wrong.

    She screams and swears at people- she yelled at one coworker and said, “Don’t F— with me”.

    The ironic thing is that my boss jokes about how they call her a “bully” and how they gave her a nickname of a tough boss from a book/movie. She brags about it!

    I know that this is a “your boss sucks and won’t change”, but how are people like this still employed? How can someone get away with behaving like this? I would be in trouble or fired if I acted like this- not that I ever would!
    I really don’t get it. Any thoughts?

    1. Dave*

      It is amazing how some people are allowed to function like this. I did have a boss that wanted CC on every email. I would try and remember (years ago before many of the auto features made it easy) and sometimes ‘forget’ for emails that would have been more work if he was involved midway but honestly they couldn’t keep up with that level or micromanaging. I ended up leaving the job and had open conversations with the BOD about him. Apparently I wasn’t the first one to complain, they had just assumed the five people before me were incompetent and that is why no one stayed. It took another few people before they finally got fired but it was so satisfying to hear that it finally happened it was just sad with how long it took.

    2. Sherm*

      In some organizations, if the bully is bringing in the bucks and/or a lofty reputation for the organization, then a whole lot is tolerated. Other times, a bully is a lot nicer to the “right” people. For example, I know someone where I work who has been horrible to her direct reports. But to other people she turns on the charm and projects this sweet vulnerability that makes you want to hug her and say “Oh Jane, don’t let the big bad world get to you!” Is there a chance that your boss doesn’t know the extent of this person’s behavior, and is perhaps just getting a whiff of it and sees this person as merely a tough cookie?

    3. Msnotmrs*

      I had a boss like this once–I didn’t feel like I was able to ask questions, and I didn’t feel like I was allowed to make mistakes. To make matters worse, it was in an educational setting, so children were constantly seeing the way she treated me. I don’t think it rubbed off on any of them in terms of their respect level for me, but she was eventually fired for being investigated for child abuse.

      I have no idea why she was able to stay there as long as she did. I think it had to do with the fact that the job was open for several years before she took it, and so management was afraid of that happening again.

    4. RagingADHD*

      The short answer is that unless they own the company, people like this stay employed because of a failure of leadership at the top levels.

      Either leadership is out of touch/deceived and unaware of the toxicity (failure to pay attention), or
      They are conflict-averse and she’s bullying up as well as down (failure of backbone), or
      They know and tolerate it because they think it’s acceptable – either in general, or because of the person’s economic productivity (failure of decency).

    5. Zona the Great*

      Honestly, I’d go fiercely in the direction of standing up for myself and calling out BS. This is the only thing that has worked for me with bully bosses. “Don’t speak to me that way again”, “I don’t engage with people who speak to me like that”, “you owe me an apology I can accept before I will move forward with you” are all examples of things that have worked for me. My current boss often uses a shitty tone when saying, “I never gave you permission to do that!”. My response is, “Not only did you give me permission, but you emailed me about how excited you were for this opportunity for me. I need you to email me back acknowledging this so that we can move forward”.

  33. Paris Geller*

    Y’all. Yesterday I saw a job posting I wanted to apply for . . . that did not have an online application. In the year 2020. There is an application, and the instructions say to print it out, fill it out (by hand???) and scan and email or FAX it.

    This is a legit posting, by the way. It’s for a city position for a small town and was on the website. And yes, the town is small, but not so small I would expect them to not have an online system (about 25,000 residents).

    Trying to debate if I still want to apply or not. I’m employed in a job I like, but I’ve been low-key job searching for a few months for a better paying job, since I’m definitely paid below market rate for my field & experience. I just can’t help but to think if this is how they want people to apply for jobs, what kind of dinosaur technology they use for everything else.

    1. hmmm*

      I was thinking if this is a smaller company, they might be doing things “old school”. It could also be a preference to whoever is reviewing the application – say a hiring manager is reviewing applicants on a train ride home and doesn’t have the greatest wifi. While not as common I do know a few places that would prefer receiving documents in a dinosaur type method.

      1. Sam*

        Still, though, I’d assume they’d print the resume… If it’s scanned and emailed, that doesn’t gain this hypothetical hiring manager anything.

        1. hmmm*

          agree but my thought is if the applicant is physically mailing something in, that saves the hiring manager some time of sorting through emails and printing them out.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Town budgets can be very constrained when it comes to IT. It could simply be that an ATS for HR is not a priority at this time; instead they’ve put their money into something else the town needs, such as an online bill payment system for taxes and utilities.

      I’d apply anyway. Who knows, could be a great place to work!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      My experience is that tax dollars don’t go very far for online anything systems so cities can be slow to adopt them.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        This! Often smaller cities don’t have enough openings to justify paying for an online application system. I know my city nor my county has an online application system.

        At my previous library our online application form was the Google form I created. It actually worked well, but it wasn’t fancy.

    4. See You Anon*

      When I applied for my job with state government 5 years ago, it was a paper process and the instructions stated that only hand delivery would guarantee receipt of the application. They moved to an online system about 3 years ago. That is what chronic underfunding of government does. It makes it impossible for government employees to do a good job because they can’t afford the tools. Further cuts to government are justified as clearly the government is not capable. Our state pays private 2 to 3 times the cost of having a state employee do the job. And don’t think the state pension is anything to write home about.

    5. Kali*

      I work city government level and one of the counties I deal with insists on everything being on paper and has done so for the 10 years I’ve been here. They won’t even allow faxes. Everything has to be walked – physically – to their office. This is a large county and contains multiple wealthy suburbs of a very large metropolitan city.

      It boggles my mind.

      That said, I’d work for them in a heartbeat because they pay so much better than the other county I deal with, which does allow online filing/processing. It’s a far more functional workplace than the online county too, and they do spend money on other tech. (I don’t actually apply because that would take me down a career path I have no interest in, but if I *were* interested, that’s where I’d go.)

      Apply and when/if you get an interview, remember that you’re figuring out if you want to work for them just as much as the reverse. Ask questions and observe, then make your decision.

    6. Dave*

      I guess it would depend on the position. I am amazed how many people can’t make a fill-able PDF. Would the position give you the opportunity to fix this stuff or would you be stuck using a fax machine?

    7. 404 04 04 4*

      I’d apply anyway, but then, yeah, in the interview, ask any follow up questions you need to about the technology and how it would affect your job. I turned down a job circa 2012 because they were still using Windows XP, because I could imagine what a mess that would be with the work they wanted for the position.

    8. CheeryO*

      It’s a fair question. I applied to my current state government job via snail mail in 2014, and we do have a lot of technology woes (and office furniture woes, and building woes, and self-funded coffee and everything else…). Budgets are very limited, so you have to decide if the trade-off is worth the stability and other benefits.

    9. SunnySideUp*

      Honestly, not too surprised that a small town municipality of 25k doesn’t have the $$ to go online with job apps.

      You have nothing to lose by applying.

    10. Haha Lala*

      Government jobs are always strict about certain thing, and slow to adapt to new technology. They might not have a secure web portal, so they have to use the more old school approach. And especially if it’s a small town that doesn’t have many employees, they might not hire that often, so they haven’t had the need to change systems.

      All that aside, there’s nothing stopping you from filling out the whole application on your computer. Whenever I get pdf’s of forms I need to fill out, I use Adobe or something similar to add text where needed. (Mostly because my handwriting is terrible!). Then you can send that edited file over email, along with your resume and cover letter. I actually prefer emailing in applications over all web-based, since then I have am automatic record of when and where I sent my application.

      It can’t hurt to apply to the job! Maybe you meet with them and that’s the only out dated area, but you’d miss out entirely if you never apply. Good Luck!

    11. Not A Manager*

      Apply! This is such a huge barrier to entry that you’ll have much less competition. And you can always assess the work conditions as you move further in the process.

  34. ahh*

    How do you deal with stress / anxiety from COVID and working? I’m a very “together” person. I admit I’m not the most organized (personal and professional goal) but I’m on top of my work. I work for an amazing, laid back company. I am in constant communication with my boss about where I am with deadlines. My company is essential. We still have very flexible schedules but are all in someway shape or form back in the office now since Labor Day.

    Here’s the thing… since Labor Day I’ve been on edge. I don’t know why. I get it work and home life are a new normal now. For example, I’m freaking out that I’m behind on a project, despite legitimate work related issues. I might over hear something (not easedropping, I work in an open space) take something totally out of context and blame myself even though I haven’t heard the whole conversation / even know what the conversation is about / even better I’m not involved in said conversation. Every morning I wake up anticipating any issues that might arise, almost like work things are out of control when in reality they are not. My company has made every accomodation to everyone possible. I can’t figure out why now? why after working through the worst of the pandemic is everything making me nervous now? I feel like maybe during the lockdown we were all on autopilot getting everything done and now that there is time to breathe I’m realizing the enormity of the whole COVID situation.

    I’m making sure I have “me” time; exercising; enjoying hobbies; spending/ social distancing with loved ones; I have a great personal and professional support system. I guess I’m just having trouble meeting my personal expectations of being superworker employee in a new normal. What is everyone else doing to adjust to everything.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      I am the same. I have no suggestions other than counseling. My brother told me he woke up the other morning and the whole thing hit him – the pandemic, the political uncertainty – and he got seriously depressed.

      1. ahh*

        I don’t feel depressed, not at all. Like I said I have a great support system in personal and professional life – literally everyone is working as a team. I just feel like there is always work to be done and things are taking twice as long because of COVID.

    2. Web Crawler*

      I’m thinking that you’re right- now that you have time to breathe, your brain has space to freak out about everything.

      Are you in therapy? This is the kind of thing that therapy is good for- a professional who can help you grapple with everything and get yourself back in a comfortable headspace.

      And a thing I got from therapy: there’s things that our culture recognizes as capital-T Trauma- natural disasters and violence and such. But there’s also lowercase-t trauma that we don’t recognize as such, but it still hurts and you need to address it to move forward. COVID and lockdowns and all the uncertainty and fear are often traumatic. Even when you think it shouldn’t be affecting you, even when you have it better than most, even when you have a support system.

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      For me, the answer was medication.

      I’m an anxious person in general, but it’s something that I’ve managed for decades with lifestyle choices and, sometimes, therapy. And then this year happened: I started the year with a medical crisis and multiple hospitalizations, then COVID, a layoff, local political unrest, the election, everything. It took me until October to notice that my normal practices weren’t working, and I started medication in November. The difference is astonishing. I’m still anxious — I always will be! — but now I can see that it is something separate from me, if that makes sense.

    4. Kali*

      I’ve been extremely anxious lately too. In the beginning, I was obsessing over news of the pandemic, but I wasn’t experiencing extreme levels of anxiety. Now, I am having issues with my heart racing before making a routine phone call or making a simple decision. I think it’s because this has gone on *so* long, and the end is in sight, but also, everything is falling apart faster than it was, and just ahhhhhhhhh.

      Anyway! My work is very self-paced, so I’ve found that making lists with priorities helps out. There are days that looking at it sends me into a mental tailspin, so I start at the *bottom*, with the easiest, lowest-pressure stuff. There are other days where I’m feeling motivated (despite the still existing anxiety) and I get the important stuff done. There are times I have to force myself to X, Y, or Z because of a deadline, but as long as I keep doing *something*, that’s not an issue very often. Basically, I’ve been taking it easy on myself, but when doing a task, I hold myself to my usual standards. I have a good boss that trusts us, so I do bounce things off of him every once in awhile, just to make sure my priorities are in line with his.

      Unless you’re like a day trader or an EMT or something, most jobs are not that hurt by taking a deep breath and slowing down. Most people won’t even notice, so you’re holding yourself to a standard that only exists in your head. (I was recently praised for handling a crisis. I was secretly freaking out – like, head between my knees to calm myself down levels of freaking out – but I just took things one step at a time, and that’s what my coworkers and boss noticed.) Remind yourself to be kind to yourself – this is hard, and no one expects perfection even when times are “easy”.

      1. ahh*

        Kali you are definitely describing things exactly as they are in my life. You hit the nail on the head. I am very much a list person and it feels like personally and professionally that list keeps growing and growing. I am learning to say no to certain things which is definitely helping. Yes, I have high standards for myself, things that need to be brought to reality sometimes. Like I said I’m not depressed, not even overwhelmed to suggest medicine (nothing wrong with that). I’m more of a planner and feel like the goals keep moving and just wish I could see the goal post (I’m not a big sports person – I’m impressed I came up with that analogy). I am truly enjoying the holidays despite everything. Tonight some friends are doing a virtual escape room! We’ll all get through this I just feel like we it will be a long while before we’re all back to doing things pre COVID.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That’s reality, the goals are moving for a good number of people.
          This is what makes the times so frustrating.

          Have you talked to your boss about your work? It might be time to collect up some actual facts from the boss.

          If you can’t get the satisfaction of moving forward with your own work, what about life goals? Can you begin to lay out the frame work for some of your own personal goals? I painted a small closet here. It was the last closet that needed painted and it was a PITA. It took days to do this closet. For one thing I had to clean and sort the stuff. Some of it needed to be tossed. Then I prepped and painted. When I went to put it back, I wanted to reconfigure the closet. That was a full day right there. It’s been months, I still smile when I go to get something out of that closet. After years of being dusty and messy, it’s finally working like a closet should.
          It’s not wrong to seek better but there are times where we need to redefine what “better” looks like given the constraints of the the time frame. I never would have done that closet if I had not been stuck at home so much. This is probably the only way the closet would have gotten done.

    5. allathian*

      You’re saying you’re more or less back in the office again since Labor Day and you have been on edge since Labor Day. Is there any chance that this isn’t a coincidence, that you’re experiencing some anxiety because you would prefer to avoid going to the office?

      In my book, any employer that’s making its employees go back to the office until there’s a safe and effective vaccine available is not great in its COVID response, no matter how good they are otherwise. We’re not past the worst of the pandemic yet. People are just getting sick of the restrictions and it’s impossible to live in emergency mode for more than at most six months. After that it becomes a sort of new normal and it’s possible that that’s why you’re reacting to it now. But make no mistake, the worst of the pandemic could very well be ahead of us yet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also look up Professor Aisha Ahmad’s Six-Month Wall twitter thread.
        (U.Toronto) this is the part I flagged to keep as a reminder:
        “I *always* hit a wall six months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to “get away” or “make it stop” is intense. I’ve done this many times, and at 6 months, it’s like clockwork.
        …This is my first pandemic, but not my first six-month wall. So, what can I share to help you? First, the wall is real and normal. And frankly, it’s not productive to try to ram your head through it. It will break naturally in about four to six weeks if you ride it out. Of course, there are things we have to do. Work. Teach. Cook. Exercise. But just don’t expect to be sparklingly happy or wildly creative in the middle of your wall. Right now, if you can meet your obligations and be kind to your loved ones, you get an A+”

      2. Ahh*

        Sorry I should rephrase. I work for an essential company. I’ve been in the office the whole time with my work team of 10 other people. Luckily our building is 85 % empty. Us 10 quarantine in our offices. The remaining 85 % is on a hybrid since Labor Day working from home/ coming in. We have stricter guidelines than the CDC requires. As an essential business we do need to keep working. Some of our work needs to be done in the office

  35. Lentils*

    I’m very anxious, because after months of my company mishandling the pandemic to what I think is a dangerous degree (no in-office mask mandate, WFH under only very specific circumstances despite most of us having the capacity/equipment to do so, and the guy who sits next to me is currently out on LOA with a positive test and they didn’t think I was considered “high risk of exposure!”), I’ve managed to find a new job. My current company is offering a voluntary layoff with severance of $2500 with the deadline being next Friday, which is perfect because the new job wants me to start on the 21st.

    So I’ve asked for a meeting to resign when my boss gets into the office today, which is only a week’s notice – I do feel bad about that, but I’m going to do my best to document all my processes before I leave. Like I said, I’m anxious; the company is a disaster, but my actual team is mostly pretty great and my bosses speak very highly of me. I don’t owe them anything, but I know that I do a lot of stuff here that’s pretty essential. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I could have stayed here for at least a few more years (my two-year anniversary was at the beginning of November). But, uh, they clearly don’t care about my well-being, so I’m done. Wish me luck, I guess? :)

    1. Haha Lala*

      If they’re asking for voluntary layoffs, then they should be prepared for anyone to leave by that date. I’d think that the typical 2 week notices doesn’t apply. (And if they were that concerned about noticed, they would have built that into the deadline — deadline to ‘resign’ by the 4th, with last day on the 18th.) Good luck at your new job!

  36. Miffed or Not*

    If I reapply for a job that I previously declined the job offer for, will the potential employer be miffed at me for reapply in that they feel discourage to consider me again?

    I have applied for two companies that are both very good industries, very resistant to the pandemic situation, and offer rare employment opportunities. Both jobs require a long probational period in which the employer can let you go if they think you’re not the right fit. I got the job offer from Company A and has started my first day at the job. So far everyone in the workplace has been nice. I am still waiting on the outcome for Company B. Company B pays somewhat more than Company A, has a little more healthcare options, and the work is slightly more stricter. Both companies are very hard to get into. Company A rarely has openings, and I am lucky that I got into this one. Company B has openings usually on a yearly basis, but they are super picky and the hiring process is extremely competitive. I am still not too sure which Company to stay with because anything could happen during a probationary period, and yet it is hard to leave a workplace where everyone is nice and is such a rare opportunity. I am uncertain about promotional prospects for both companies, as promotions are both competitive in both of them. I also have to evaluate if the slight pay increase is worth it.

    But what if I decided to decline Company B’s offer and stay in Company A, then later on Company A didn’t work out and I decided to reapply to Company B? Will Company B be miffed with me?

    1. Peachtree*

      It sounds like you don’t have an offer for Company B, right? I think this is a case of “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” – wait until you have an offer in hand.

      My view is that once you have a new job, withdraw your other applications – focus on the job you have, not one that might not happen. But that’s a personal decision!

    2. Weekend Please*

      Is it normal in your industry to continue to interview after accepting an offer? Most places, that would not look good. Withdrawing from the interview process at Company B because you accepted a job at Company A shouldn’t burn any bridges. Continuing to interview after already accepting an offer from Company A could potentially burn bridges at both companies since you could get a reputation for being flaky and wasting their time.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Very much agree. You not only got an offer from Company A but are working there already! Unless things are already looking like a very bad fit, you need to withdraw from Company B ASAP. You are risking both places if you continue to interview after starting at Company A (burn bridge at A if Company B makes an offer and Company B will view this as you interviewing in Bad Faith and wasting their time).

    3. Chaordic One*

      It you decline a job offer from Company B, and if your job at Company A doesn’t work out, it will usually NOT affect your chances of getting an offer from Company B in the future because they are miffed at you for turning down an offer in the past. (Sometimes it does happen, but not often.)

  37. Anonononononymous*

    Going anon for this one.

    So, a couple months ago we finally hired me a new supervisor. I was ok with the selection we made, I suppose. Not thrilled, but ok. Anyway, I’m starting to feel really ambivalent and I can’t decide if I just haven’t given it enough time or if the things I’m seeing are red flags even after only two months.

    She had to do her first, very small, presentation to our leadership recently and it went really badly. She seemed disorganized and unprepared. This same issue has seemed to crop up in terms of our team meetings as well.

    She also doesn’t always seem to retain information – I had to correct her on multiple emails to multiple people on the same topic within 24 hours – it was like the first correction went in one ear and out the other. And it wasn’t a complicated topic. My teammate has noticed this as well in their interactions.

    Finally, I’m worried about her technical skills. She is effusive about mine and my co-workers technical skill at things that are just basic parts of our jobs – basically a person who supervises my position shouldn’t be blown away by what we consider fairly mundane Excel work. There have been some other really basic technical issues, but they’re way too identifying to go into.

    Basically, I can’t decide whether it’s too early to go to our boss about it. Or if I should give it a little more time to see if things get any better. Advice much appreciated.

    1. Dave*

      If you have a good working relationship with your boss I probably would more in terms of is there a way to get this person training /help in some areas. I would guess the leadership presentation info already got back to your boss if they weren’t in the meeting itself.

  38. Seashells*

    You are WORKING while POSITIVE for COVID? Sorry, I understand you are sick and scared for your job, but this makes me very angry. I have 3 people in my family that have had COVID.

    I’m not going to say anything else except your employer sucks for firing people who have COVID and God help you all.

  39. Super Sparkly Wannabe*

    A couple of years ago, I had a job that I loved but it was in an incredibly toxic workplace. The job’s title was Llama Groomer but it was a demanding role which required llama herding, graze management, organising llama beauty competitions, all those good things. After I left, I decided I’d like to go into Llama Management and started a job earlier this year where I was assured I’d be supported to explore avenues of this field. Due to variety of things, including the pandemic and my manager leaving, my new role has essentially been to only brush llama’s tails. It’s been a major step back and although I put my all into perfect tail brushing, I’ve been feeling more and more demoralised and now find I’m brushing tails slowly and with old brushes. All offers of helping colleagues with other things to do have only resulted in being sent to neighbouring llama farms to brush tails there.

    I’d like to move on soon but I’m struggling to figure out how to summarise this role in my CV – it’s literally been this one task, I’m no longer excelling, there’s no metrics I can cite, and I’m desperate not to be brushing tails in my next role, but I’m afraid that Llama Management roles may not consider me for anything more if I spent 2020 brushing tails and nothing else, especially since there is a lot of competition at the moment and fewer jobs available. Is there a way to really sell a job with small scope that I have found uninspiring in an interview?

    On a related note, the original Llama Groomer role’s title has also changed to reflect the actual requirements of the role and now it’s Super Sparkly Llama Manager – can I use this title in my CV instead of “Llama Groomer”?

  40. Construction Safety*

    Open enrollment time. Apparently, the company-paid life insurance of 3 times salary, drops to 1.95 time salary when you hit 65.

    Seems like they can discriminate against me because of my age. Interesting.

    1. AnonHR*

      This is unfortunately really standard practice with group term life insurance. They treat you as less insurable at 65 and some policies have additional reductions at 70 I believe.

    2. Enough*

      Not the company you work for but the insurance company itself. Term life insurance typically reduces the payout amount between 60 and 65 while keeping the cost the same or the the cost goes up considerably to keep the original amount of insurance. and it probably changes again at 70. In fact the cost of insurance has probably been going up for your company every time an employee hit a 0 or 5 age (40, 45, 50, 55 etc)

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      It’s the insurance company and its based on future earnings. Your potential future earning greatly decrease after age 65 as people are starting to retire and are eligible for larger social security payouts. The intent is to give a buffer for the family if the employee passes as well as pay any bills associated with the death. Most people, by the age of 65, are preparing to leave the workforce and already have financial buffers in place to replace the lost income.
      Anyone want to guess what my dad does for a living???

  41. Filosofickle*

    Wondering if people want to share positive stories of retail employment! Just to share good vibes.

    Recently while reading comments, I thought no way in hell I’d ever want to work retail based on the abuse and disrespect I read about here. Then I realized…actually, I did work retail for a bit in college, at a Service Merchandise in Indiana. (Back when they still had stores.) And it was actually a good job. I was treated well, no problems working around my other part time job, the customers were kind. It was light and fun. There was some inappropriate fraternization and drama, of which I played my part — secretly dating a manager who was also secretly dating someone else there — but overall it was positive especially for that time in my life. I guess just like any other sector, there are great places and terrible places.

    What do you think makes the difference? Does the location or type of store play into it, or does it always just come down to good management?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I do think the location & type of store matter as does the quality of management. When I left retail, I was a manager for Blockbuster, so by nature, we saw the same people over and over. I did genuinely enjoy getting to know so many of my regulars, watching their kids grow up and go off to college (I was at the same location for 10 years), learning about their hobbies and interests, life challenges (cancer, divorce, death of loved ones) and triumphs (graduating college, getting a new/better job, having their first child, etc.). I knew virtually all of the regulars by name and I miss many of them and still think of them and hope they’re doing well.

      The holidays were always fun. We decorated the store, had stockings for all the employees and I personally would bake cookies for all my employees and my favorite regulars. I also made some lifelong friends of fellow employees that I still see and speak to regularly.

      I do have one good story…..we had a regular and his son, who was around 7 or 8 was diagnosed with an incurable childhood cancer. He loved video games and all he wanted for Christmas was a PlayStation and for his dad to play games with him. This customer was low income and couldn’t afford the full price of the PlayStation so we cut a deal with him. We sold it to one of the employees w/ their employee discount, and some of the managers chipped in to cover over half the cost so he could get it for his son (we were broke too or we would have covered the full cost). His son LOVED it and played it every day as long as he could. His son passed away a few months later, but he would always thank me every Christmas.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think there’s onions near by…. yeah, that’s it, must be onions….

        That’s really, really special. I love stories like this.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think management is everything.

      I didn’t enjoy working retail, but the manager was fair & level-headed. I don’t have any complaints about the way the store was run. I just didn’t like the work itself.

    3. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      I’ve wondered this myself…

      I had a spectacular experience in a mall anchor type retailer. My department manager was FANTASTIC and probably could have been a high school teacher, as gifted as she was with working with and managing 16-18 yo teenaged girls, who made up the bulk of her department payroll (If I recall the ratio was basically 1:3, adults to teens). Our department regularly was top in our district in every metric, including customer service. She found ways to make sure that we never felt shat upon as a group (typically it was the teens who worked Christmas Eve, not the “adults”, other than her, and she always made it as fun as possible), and always went the little extra (lunch for all of us, cookies delivered for our department, little things like that).

      Yeah, there was typical silliness and drama, but when you’re dealing with the makeup of the staff as it was, you’re going to have that.

      What’d I learn? To listen. Her ability to listen neutrally in any situation made her an excellent manager because she was able to learn quite a bit by listening.

    4. Maggie*

      It really depends! Working mall retail for me sucked, going to high end retail was a game changer because I was taken seriously and given benefits.

    5. Pam*

      I enjoyed my time as a 30-ish adult working for McDonald’s. I was old enough not to get involved in drama, and liked the quick pace and assisting customers. (I can still say “Would you like fries with that?” and sound like I mean it) I eventually moved to shift lead and them moved on, but it was nice to have a job I could leave at the door.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I have a lot of nostalgia for my “leave it at the door” jobs – receptionist, admin, lifeguard, and that retail job. Most of my career work is extremely brain-intensive and requires so much of me. And I get a lot of meaning and purpose out of my work! It suits me and my always-on brain. But some days I feel a little wistful about that ease and simplicity.

    6. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I think its all those things. I have worked for my retail company in multiple locations (most recently around the same city) and the customer base, then by extension the staff makeup, makes almost as much difference as the management does. Frankly I think retail as a baseline sucks and the quality of management makes it either more or less bearable. There are lots of things I love about retail and my sector/job specifically, but I think that’s the bottom truth of it!

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        I missed the first part of your question, asking for good stories!
        We have “the candy lady”. She gives every employee on shift a chocolate or a couple of hard candies, and then buys a pack (or two, if there are a lot of us on that day) of reeses or kit kats for us.
        At the start of the pandemic, a customer brought enough handmade masks for each employee, with a handwritten note attached to each about how she appreciates us. (Still have the mask, in its packaging. I look at it when I want to throat punch someone.)
        Another customer gave me a free parking pass to our arboretum.
        We’ve had pizzas, donuts, and smoothies dropped off to us, paid for by anonymous customers.
        An older customer passed away. I found out when her daughter came in to tell me how she talked often about our staff and how she enjoyed shopping with us.

        I’m not always pessimistic and crabby ;D

  42. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Was looking at jobs and saw an interesting listing. When I clicked it, rather than a job description, they appeared to have attached an email explaining why they were firing the previous job holder. Awkward!

    1. Flaxseed*

      Wow- that is something! Once I was looking at the job section at a company’s website and someone wrote this tirade underneath the job description.

    2. Kali*

      Ha! When interviewing for the internal position I have now (smallish place, so I knew everyone involved and discussed), there were *very* pointed questions about what I’d do in X, Y or Z situation. I knew exactly who and what they were talking about, although I had not previously realized the scope of the problems. Yikes. I still work with some of those people. I just try not to think about it!

  43. Career Coach*

    Has anyone worked with a career coach? I found a coach through google who specifically works with women with an intersectional feminist approach, which was interesting. I’ve been feeling super stuck and just extremely low in confidence when it comes to work. I’ve been working with a therapist, but thought that having someone give more specific career advice would be good. This coach only offers 45 minute “power sessions” at this time, but I thought that might be a good trial to see if career coaches would be a good fit.

    If you’ve worked with one, what did you think? Were they helpful? Is there any info you provided to them that really helped the session? And how did you find yours/what did you look for in your coach?

    1. lapgiraffe*

      I’ve worked with two, once was an ok experience at best and the other has been phenomenal. I think it depends on what you actually want to get out of it. What I didn’t like about my first experience was that it was a lot of internal work – my values, my goals, people I admire, companies I admire – lovely stuff and all but frankly I think you can do all that with better results with an actual therapist. There’s even a book I’d recommend for that – designing your life.

      My second experience has been much more hands on, digging in on the language of my resume as a way to help me best describe and communicate my transferable skills which I desperately needed (My particular part of the industry I’ve been in is a dumpster fire right now so I’m trying to figure out where I can go from here since I wasn’t thinking of switching industries til Covid made the decision for me). She’s worked well as an objective outsider, someone who asks great questions, goes line by line by line on my resume as someone who truly doesn’t know my industry, so in essence just like any hiring manager who will see my resume, and has offered the most excellent advice (again, very specifically to my resume and job hunt, not general advice, which I come here for). I actually have one more session with her in the new year where we do mock interviews, recording them and then giving feedback and then doing a second round. I like how she has it set up but will be curious how it actually plays out.

      The nice thing about the second experience is that it has been a major boon to my self esteem, encouragement I didn’t even know I needed. It has opened my eyes a bit, looking differently at my previous roles in a new light and giving me confidence about what I have and am able to contribute. She pushes me to see my value and to aim high, a cheerleading role I definitely do for my own female friends but turns out I also need someone to cheerlead for me as well!

      I can’t say that she is explicitly feminist/intersectional in her approach, though no doubt a professional, progressively minded person. I can understand wanting to work with people who share values but would be curious what specifically you think this would help as it relates to job search advise/career coaching, just to be able to better speak to my experience as it relates to that.

      1. Career Coach*

        Oh wow, the second person sounds amazing! Would you be willing to share who it was? (It’s ok if not if you don’t feel comfortable sharing.) I think that’s what I’m hoping to get out of the career coach meeting (although also tamper my expectations that I won’t have a huge boost in self esteem and epiphany after one session.) I think I need to probably be more specific with what I want out of the coach, but I don’t think I want to go over my resume necessarily. I will definitely look into designing my life book though, thank you for mentioning that! It had come across my recs before, but I had not checked it out yet.

        1. Anon today, lest the somms come after me*

          Her name is Kamrin Huban, I don’t know if she has a proper website but she’s very active on LinkedIn, which is where we connected via a recommendation of a close friend.

          And if you’re able to get your hands on the workbook for that designing your life book, I think that could have entirely replaced my first coach and wish I would have just done that. There’s space to write in the actual book but not enough for my liking, or you could always just use a plain notebook to journal and such.

  44. The New Normal*

    TRELLO … and/or ADHD tips!

    I’ve recently starting using Trello to help me stay organized and also keep my boss up to date on what I’m working on while we are physically separated. I often need his feedback before I can publish some things, so we’ve created what I think is a useful board for us. I have a very good relationship with my boss and have discussed with him how I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and how I can see so clearly how it has impacted my life. We talked about how I am learning to work with the way my brain processes information and how I can make it an advantage. He decided to take time to learn about ADHD himself so he could better help me with how he communicates tasks, and he found kanban boards and Trello in particular. We are still learning the program and the system, but it seems to really be going well.

    However, I would LOVE to here your tips for using it as well as general kanban advice. Right now the difficult part is remembering to add tasks to cards. We are trying to document everything that is happening on a daily basis so that we can better prepare for what’s coming up. We work in a very cyclical pattern daily and yearly, but some days it feels like NOTHING has come off my To-Do list. We’ve created an alternative to-do list of the tasks that interrupt my planned time, but the office is quite busy and sometimes I simply don’t take the time to add the card.

    1. Nela*

      This seems like a new habit for you, and it’s normal that you’re still forgetting.
      How did you track tasks before Trello? Did you use paper, or any other app?

      Where are you when you get these interrupting tasks, are you by your desk or away from it?

      If you’re by your desk, then one solution is to keep Trello open all the time in the background, and try to remember each time a task comes in to switch the window and add the task. (That’s what I do.)

      If a task comes in via email, there’s a unique email address for each board that you can forward the email to. The subject becomes the card title, and the contents of the email become the description. The address is in the board settings.

      If someone gives you a task while you’re away from your desk, you could use the mobile app (if you have your phone on you) to add the task. If not, do you have anything you can write with? Just write down keywords and take it to your desk so you can add it to Trello as you sit down.

      You could also have a habit recipe like “When I sit at my desk after lunch, I’ll copy all the tasks from the random bits of paper/post-its/planner to Trello” and do it consistently. Also “Before I leave work every day… (same thing)” or when you feel a good moment would be. It’s easier to remember if you can tag it on before/after, instead of a specific time. (See: “Tiny Habits” by B.J. Fogg. Great book.)

      1. Nela*

        I will also note that I don’t necessarily follow Kanban. I organize my boards in a way that makes sense for the project it’s related to. For my main business board, lists are more like “categories” (Business planning, Offers, Admin, Marketing). For individual client projects each list is a phase (Strategy, Research, Llama design, Llama development, Finalization). In both of these approaches, the cards stay put – they don’t move through lists. I just archive each when a task is done.
        For my Blog board, I do use a more Kanban-like setup where I drag the card through different stages (Ideas, Drafts in progress, Drafts to edit, Edited posts, Ready to publish, Published posts to promote).

        I don’t know if this helps at all, but I just wanted to make sure you know that Kanban is not the only way to use Trello. And let me tell you, my lists are FULL. That’s just how it’s going to be most of the time. It doesn’t mean you’re running behind. If you enjoy seeing stuff crossed off, use the checklists to break down longer tasks into smaller chunks.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I tried Kanban for a bit earlier this year. I actually found it discouraging and demotivating because so many of my tasks are recurring that it just felt like endlessly shuffling the same card from one side of the board to the other.

    3. CatCat*

      I liked the kanban board concept, but found that online versions didn’t cut it for me. There are just several more steps involved in doing something online versus just writing it down.

      So my kanban board is post-it notes on the window in front of where I sit and represents most activity at a high level. I have the following columns:
      * To Do (projects I need to work on, but have not yet started),
      * Today (projects I am working on today),
      * In Progress (projects I am working on, but not working on today),
      * Waiting (projects awaiting an action by another person), and
      * Done (projects that are complete).

      I have several cyclical annual projects involving a lot of steps. I keep the calendar with the due dates for each step (and reminders of upcoming due dates). But on the board it will just be something like: “Annual Update on Llama Grooming Standards.” Every day, I review my calendar and then move around the sticky notes based on what project I am going to work on and place in the “Today” column. From there, I work on a to-do list for tasks for the project I am going to work on today. I just keep this as a written list next to me and then check-off the task if I do it or note if it needs to be moved forward to another day (bullet journal style).

      So, for example, if I would put “Annual Update on Llama Grooming Standards” under “Today” on my kanban board. And then on my to-do list, I would write immediate tasks associated with the project like:
      * Finalize draft update.
      * Email Draft Update to Percy for Review.

      This system has worked well for me.

  45. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Two notifications from the powers that be this morning that just have me over the moon.

    First: because everything is so super crazy, they’re not doing written reviews, just discussions with your manager about successes, strengths and improvements, to save everyone the time in writing. (Usually our reviews are practically essays, from both employee and manager :P ) And while I suspected that this would be the preliminary to crappy raises, they DID specify that these discussions should be happening before the annual increase announcements happen, which at least suggests that there will still be annual increases, even if they’re not great.

    Second, everyone below the VP level gets a bonus! And not the usual 401(k) bonus that’s a percentage of your annual income straight to your 401(k), but an across-the-board straight dollar amount, as a paycheck addition, which is a pretty nice dollar amount for me in low-tier management, let alone people on the lower end of the pay tiers. They’re calling it a COVID-19 appreciation bonus, because even with all the nonsense this year we still hit all our metrics for success, but it’ll hit on the final paycheck of the year, which happens to be Christmas Eve, so additional good timing for them as celebrates it. (And maybe the annual increases won’t be crappier than usual as a result either!)

    1. Hi there*

      Hooray, that is great news! My esteemed employer just announced that our workplace will be closed for the three workdays between our Christmas and New Year’s holiday. I am thrilled we all get that week entirely off. I was beginning to feel they hadn’t noticed what a rough time it has been for staff. Most of the higher ed conversations are centered on faculty and students.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      That’s great, congrats! My department just concluded a performance review task force that made the process three times as long and far more in depth. Instead of coping your metric goals and stating whether you hit them, you have to write a narrative piece on how you meet every component of the institutional and departmental mission. Kill me.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s what we’ve had to do the last couple years, is an essay about how we fit the values of the organization. Awful. That’s why I’m so excited about not having to do a written this year :-P

        (Then, after work I had a FedEx delivery from my great grandboss with a weird polo shirt and a nice fleece, both with our logo on them. It’s been a day!)

    3. Natalie*

      Fun fact, since they’re adding it to your paycheck they don’t have to withhold at the high supplemental rate. Your withholding will be a higher percentage than normal because it’s based on the gross face value of the check, but probably not the 25% required for supplemental payments.

  46. Em from CT*

    Relatively low-stakes question: I’m applying for a position that asks for writing samples and a creative portfolio in addition to a resume and cover letter.

    My instinct is to package and reformat the writing samples so they match the formatting of my resume and cover letter—same font, same layout, etc. (I’m including a couple of executive-summary type documents, one op-ed, and one longer-form academic paper.) Is there a “best practice” here? The other alternative would be create a bundled PDF of all the documents with their various original formats.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve never seriously re-formatted a writing sample, just made sure to pdf them and redact any identifying information where necessary. I wouldn’t go to the trouble of re-formatting anything.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Unless the company asks for a specific format, I think either of those options would be fine! You want them to be clear, easily accessible, and easily readable, and as long as they achieve that I think you’re good.

      I will say try to get the file names as similar as possible and include your name, just in case anyone gets confused or saves them in a weird place. CT Resume, CT Cover Letter, CT Op-Ed Writing Sample.

    3. BlueBelle*

      I create a bundled PDF of the samples. I don’t think they should match, it needs to show a variety of work you have done and those will all look different.
      Good luck!

  47. Anon for this*

    Suggestions for reporting to someone whose work I don’t respect.

    We’re going through a minor reorg here because the Australian Wildlife Superintendent is retiring. Currently, as a Wombat Habitat Manager I report to them and in turn manage the Wombat Habitat Inspectors. The current Wombat Climate Analyst is being promoted to the newly created Senior Wombat Climate Specialist position, I’ll be reporting to them, and they will be reporting to the Superintendent. I have no problem with the reporting change, I have a problem reporting to this particular person.

    This person was previously the Quokka Habitat Manager and supervised a large group of Quokka Operation and Maintenance workers; one of my Inspectors worked for them. They were demoted from the management position back to Operations because they weren’t a good people manager. When the then current Wombat Climate Analyst retired, they moved to that position. When my Inspector worked for them, the of them butted heads regularly and I’m sure the tales I’ve heard have tainted my views. But I don’t respect the quality of the work they do now, as well as some other things about them. I think they are lazy and not a forward thinker, which I think is needed in the role.

    I made my concerns known to the Superintendent and they heard me. One of the things I offered was to report to the Marsupial Habitat Manager, I think this would actually be a good move as we should really move all the habitat groups under a single hat with corks hanging from the brim, but that didn’t fly. The current plan is to give it a 6 month try and the new Superintendent will make future decisions.

    So I’m going to give it a shot. But I need to figure out how to make it work. I am fairly outspoken and the Inspector who used to work for them is a gadfly who has no problems jumping the chain of command to make their concerns known – something we’ve been working on.

    Ideas are welcome.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Sorry, I actually have no ideas. Your plan seems solid to me, and I guess 6 months isn’t forever, it’s just going to feel like it. But that’s the greatest work description ever, I love this.

    2. ADHD sucks*

      I’ve been in that situation for a year and I was unable to hide my feelings, so I expect to get fired. Being outspoken when someone who is (justifiably) insecure is a recipe for pain, anger, and resume writing.

  48. esra*

    We have regular 1:1’s with our managers at the place I’m at now (I’m newish, started a few months ago, so I haven’t actually met most of my coworkers outside of zoom). It’s mostly employee-led, a combination of project/other feedback, and career development.

    I’m the only person doing what I do at my org, and I’m finding my manager’s expectations are pretty out of line with reality. I do teapot design, and she wants them to be perfect on the first round, when typically anything under 2-3 rounds of revision is considered a success in the industry. I get a lot of praise publicly from her boss/others, but then at these 1:1’s, I’m getting dinged for minor things. I’m honestly beginning to dread the meetings.

    So question for people managers: If you had expectations that weren’t being met, but it was because they were unrealistic and not because of an employee issue, how would you want that communicated? My plan right now is to discuss how this generally works more broadly in the industry, then touch on how it’s worked with our teapot design agency, and finally go into a few specific and successful projects I’ve completed recently.

    I’m tired of lowkey feeling like I’m about to get laid off, when I’m doing my job well.

    1. Weekend Please*

      This is tough and may not be something you can fix. If your manager has unrealistic expectations, you can point that out and explain what you can and cannot do with concrete reasons why that is. But at the end of the day your manager may not believe you. If your talk doesn’t go well, it may be time to look at transferring or look for another job. It can be tough to deal with a manager that does not understand what you actually do.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Can confirm. If I still reported to the manager I had before my current one, I’d be facing those same kinds of unrealistic criticisms. I did try to explain to previous manager why their expectations were not reasonable for my specific type of work, but they could not grasp that and even our last conversation (an interim review) went “everyone thinks you’re doing great, per all this positive feedback, but you didn’t solve the 5-Year’s Effort Task in six weeks like I asked you to.” It was part of the reason I lobbied very hard to change managers, and fortunately I was successful.

        If I hadn’t been moved, I’d go into the review armed with the praise from others, especially her boss (hopefully it’s in writing). Make sure to point out that praise and success for the big items should carry more weight in the review than dings for minor things (especially out of your control). I think using industry benchmarking could be effective in establishing context for your performance, but be prepared for that not to make a dent if your manager truly doesn’t get it.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Perhaps you could ask how they would like to achieve those goals? As in, “The industry norm is to run through 2 to 3 designing rounds before the final product. If we want perfection on the first round, I will need some direction on how to achieve that. Could you give me examples of the processes you have used before?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ha! good one!
        Generally expecting higher standards than the given tolerances drives costs up. Money seems to be something even the most dense can understand.
        Explain to her what it would cost for you to get perfection on round one. Explain the time delays and what would have to move to the side in order to have this one piece of perfection.

        If you can ride it out, TPTB may wonder why costs are up and productivity is down.

        It shocked me when I started working as to how much get through that is less than perfect. Your boss reminds me of my old naïve self.

    3. Workerbee*

      Ah, the boss who has no idea what you’re doing but feels great about being aggressively mulish and/or nit picky about minor or nonexistent things!

      I am sorry this is your boss. I don’t know if those types are fixable. Nearest way to placate I’ve found is to just appear very team player-y and happy for their feedback…

      …and look for a way out.

  49. Calling Non-Profit Boards*

    I recently became chair of a non-profit board (no pay alas, I volunteer for this abuse). I am hoping to get some resources about running non-profit boards. We provide services to a specific disadvantaged minority group, who are extremely outspoken about how we run things, yet don’t really understand how boards function, and why we have to adhere to our bylaws. I suspect in the past the board has allowed the membership to take more of an active role than they should have, letting them think their opinions must be followed.

    I’m curious how other board directors handle outspoken membership and other tips if you might have them? I’ve run several non-profits in the past but never any with such involved members so to speak. Unfortunately refusing to provide service to the more troublesome members (some harassment of our staff has happened) would be more problems than its worth.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      You state may have an association of nonprofits that can provide resources. My state does not but a neighboring one does and I have used their resources. There are probably national ones as well. Board education is vital.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      Are the folks you serve represented on the board? It sounds like there’s a significant disconnect there.

      1. Calling Non-Profit Boards*

        51% of our board membership has to be part of the group we serve, in fact it’s closer to 80% currently. There has always been a high amount of people from the group on the board. Yet the most outspoken members of the group refuse to serve on the board. Frustrating!

        1. Ashley*

          The ‘I want to give input and tell you how to do things but not actual do the work’. If this is dedicated to a few problem people, I would work on rerouting those people individually rather then changing everything. One thing I have had success with is getting people to do activities they are actually good at which limits where they can spend time where they are problematic; bonus points if they can ‘be in charge’. The less nice way is to pile on the work on volunteers.

    3. Drago Cucina*

      Take a look at Joan . Her tagline is “Nonprofits are messy”. When I was butting heads with our development director (it was costing us 95¢ to raise $1) and getting no support from our foundation board I received some very good advice. The podcasts and blog posts are good.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My NPO is very different from yours in terms of our group that we serve.

      However, I am a big fan of the pre-emptive strike. If you know that typically X would be an issue, raise the discussion before the anger hits.

      Craft public statements to answer their concerns. This may not work for all concerns but you might be able to tackle a few. This could be a FB post and/or signage around the building. “We cannot offer X because of the restrictions on the services we are allowed to do.”

      On the give side of the question, our NPO has to review the bylaws every 5 years to check for relevance, updates, and to refine wording already in place. It might be time for the board to take the list of complaints from the Vocal Ones and hold that list next to the bylaws to see what can be done. Are any of their complaints legit? Are solutions within reach?
      Honestly, I don’t think saying the bylaws forbid X is something that holds a lot of water because of a group’s ability to modify the bylaws.

      NOW- funding is different. I know of instances where accepting Y grant would preclude doing X activity. You can have Y or you can do X, not both.
      I also know that NPO status also requires some things and disallows others. So this could be another talking point for not being allowed to do X.
      Limited resources is also another credible reason for not doing X. “We don’t have the staffing to be open 24/7. We need more volunteers to get trained so we can remain open.”

      When you mention that refusal of services can ignite harassment of staff- that is a whole new level.
      Do you have a well written harassment policy? What happens when a staff person is harassed, does every one cave in to the demands?
      How dangerous is the harassment? Is someone going to end up dead? injured? scared?
      A well written workplace violence policy includes what to do when the violence comes from outside the cooperating members of the group.
      I can’t get a handle on how severe this is. However, even if it’s mild to moderate severity it might be worth while to engage a lawyer or an arbitrator to begin to handle these matters.

      The board has a duty to protect those working for the NPO. That protection can be as simple as building bridges to the disconnected group. Or it can require more formal actions.
      I think it’s important to get a real handle on how many people are involved in this backlash and try to figure out who the key leaders are in the backlash. We have that section of our society that will complain NO matter WHAT you do. So there is that to factor in.

  50. Cendol*

    Has anyone experienced a merger/being acquired at their company? Curious to hear your thoughts on how integration was handled, if there was any upheaval, cuts, how long before the dust settled, etc. Thank you!

    1. Dave*

      Five years ago and it didn’t go great because they promised no changes. The very nature of the acquisition required changes. Some of the things that they didn’t change also created a two system tier of inequity that hasn’t really gone away. The old company has many more benefits that were super generous … part of why they were ripe for needing a rescue. So people are original company who have been there longer then people are acquired company were still have worse benefits then their co-workers. None of it was great. (Oh and people forgot stupid stuff like forwarding mail and planning ahead with phones, access to utility accounts, etc.)

      1. Midnight Sonata*

        5 years ago. It didn’t go too badly. They kept nearly everyone on (one department was merged with a different company). Biggest issue I had (I was pretty low on the totem pole) was the training. They said they would make sure that we knew how to do everything and would be with us throughout. And while they were, it wasn’t enough and it didn’t prepare us in the way I would’ve like. But now we’re chugging along quite nicely. As far as dust settling… I feel like that took a while and happened in stages. I feel like I have more opportunities with this new company than I would have had we not merged. I have benefited from the growth. But there we definitely experienced growing pains along the way.

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

        Five years ago and it didn’t go great because they promised no changes. The very nature of the acquisition required changes. Some of the things that they didn’t change also created a two system tier of inequity that hasn’t really gone away.

        I’m more surprised that they promised no changes (standard in an acquisition) but then delivered on “no changes” (not standard in an acquisition)!

        In all 3 of the acquisitions I’ve been part of, there was an initial all-hands-meeting/email type of thing at which people had concerns about “will I still have a job? will the location of my job change?” etc at which everyone was ebulliently assured that we are acquiring this company because we believe it’s a good fit to augment our offerings, we value everyone in the company being acquired, logistics about integrationof benefits, etc. So people explicitly asked “do you envision layoffs?” …. “we have no immediate plans to lay anyone off and all employees of X will be transferred over as-is”.

  51. anonlurkerappa*

    I am hoping some of y’all might be able to help me get my hands on some data or anecdotal info.

    1) How are companies compensating employees in light of the pandemic? How common is it for companies to be giving extra time off or extra pay, in what industries?
    2) Specifically for on site essential employees (hospital staff, grocery store staff, warehouse staff, workers providing essential govt services that can’t be done from home) what kind of hazard pay or extra leave are these workers getting?

    Our employer basically told us (on site essential govt workers) that they can’t afford hazard pay and health care workers aren’t getting any, so it doesn’t make sense to give it to us. But my mom (former nurse) said a lot of hospital workers are getting hazard pay. And grocery store workers were getting hazard pay in my city for quite a while, and I’m pretty sure Amazon warehouse workers are getting hazard pay. And I’ve seen in a lot of comments on this site that companies are giving people a one-of amount of extra PTO in recognition of the pandemic.

    ***Ideally, if there is some compilation of this data out there that someone could point me towards that would be great.
    ** it would also be useful to hear from a bunch of others on how their company is handling this, along with if your company has
    A) onsite essential employees,
    B) the broad industry you are in,
    C) region of the country,
    D) and other details you might think are relevant.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. pancakes*

      There are lots & lots of articles about this. You should look at industry publications for coverage of particular industries. In the meantime, that is not correct about Amazon.

    2. CheeryO*

      I’m a state government employee in an essential industry also – I can work from home, but I have many colleagues that are back in the office because they didn’t have the ability or resources to work effectively from home. There is no hazard pay, because the state is beyond broke, and it’s just not a priority because the risk to those workers is fairly low as long as guidelines are followed. Our union, which is normally pretty effective, has been completely unable to negotiate anything for in-office workers other than free hand sanitizer. So I definitely believe it if your employer is truly unable to offer hazard pay, even if the reasoning was off. It doesn’t really matter what hospitals or private companies are offering.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I can tell you my sister’s info”
      Office furniture manufacturing, so non-essential, but during our state’s shutdown they were allowed to reopen specific lines to make PPE, the main plant to make the moveable structures for those pop-up hospitals, as well as fill any hospital or governmental orders. They were then approved to open the seating plant to make chairs for companies who wanted to provide their people who moved to WFH a good chair.
      During that time, everyone who worked – and it was volunteer only! – received not only the 3 week COVID pay for the duration of the shut down, but time and a half for all hours worked. My sister and her husband both work there and since they live together and are cross trained on several lines, they were 1st choice to come back since there were a couple places where you can’t be 6-feet apart.
      On the floor, there were tape marks at the 6 ft mark, plastic between every workstation, every other toilet and sick blocked to maintain social distance, and the company provided disposable masks and gloves or a stipend to buy 5 reusable ones.
      We are in Michigan

    4. Maggie*

      We have onsite employees but they aren’t “Essential Workers” in the pandemic sense. They are salespeople that are being compensated as usual with no additional PTO. Regular retail is allowed to operate where we are.

      I am friends with several nurses, but not COVID unit nurses, and they are getting no additional pay or time off. I have not interacted with anyone getting anything extra in fact. The word on….the nurses street I guess…. is that people are quitting their FT jobs to work contract/travel jobs because their hospitals are bringing in contractors for triple/quadruple their “regular pay”.

      I believe Amazon stopped Hazard pay at the end of May. Grocery stores here were doing hazard pay store by store. Maybe they are unionized in your city?

    5. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Grocery in North Carolina, international company. Hourly employees had “incentive pay” (“not hazard!”) for the first few months of the pandemic. That ended in June I think. They gave salaried employees a one time bonus in April and then another bonus for all employees after incentive pay ended. Nothing else since. They did reconfigure the hourly pay scale (which normally happens this time of year anyway) pretty significantly.
      While no one would say no to more bonuses or increases, I think what most of us would really prefer is more support in the store. Eg, staffing (and budgeting) for an extra cleaner every day, and now with the current mask mandate in our state, a security guard to handle enforcement would be amazing. Regardless of the paycheck, it’s outside of anyone’s job description to deal with some of these anti-maskers.

  52. Jen*

    How would you like your boss to react to your resignation?

    Context: one of my employees just told me she’s leaving. I did not *expect* it, but I was not shocked, either, for various reasons (the company pays below market rate and we’ve had no increases this year, plus she was not super interested in our industry). So I was just calm, told her I’m sorry she’s leaving, but we just discussed the logistics of her resignation. Was I too cold? She is leaving for a 70% increase in salary and an industry she is more interested in, so I didn’t see any point in considering a counter offer… but sometimes I am afraid I don’t react *enough*. I don’t want her to think that I didn’t appreciate her work and I didn’t feel sad she was leaving.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’re fine, though it wouldn’t hurt to tell her the other stuff now. Trust me, I’d rather get cold than what I got, which was, “I’ve heard that company isn’t a good place to work,” “I’m really disappointed,” “But we just gave you all of this project you wanted,” and “I don’t understand.” Oh, and, “Wow, that’s really soon,” to which I replied, “That’s almost three weeks.” And then several days later I got the good stuff, like, “Wow, you do a lot here,” and, “We can’t pay you what they can so it doesn’t make sense to counter.”

      To me, the logistics are really important, so I would be happy you went over them. Since that’s done, at this stage you can even treat her to lunch if you’d like– buy her takeout or something– or write her a note.

    2. irene adler*

      Calm can be good. Not many folks care for ‘drama’.
      (I’m worried about the sh!tstorm I’ll face when I give notice after 27 years on the job. There is no one who can step up -and- 27 years of company knowledge of how to develop/troubleshoot/QC the products will be walking out the door.)
      And, there’s no requirement for presenting a counter-offer.
      Might thank her for the time she worked for you. And wish her “good luck in the new position!”.

    3. Bostonian*

      In the moment, I think it was fine to be matter of fact. But be sure to let her know during the notice period (card, conversation, whatever) how much you appreciated her work and liked working with her. I think later is a more appropriate time to address those aspects, anyway.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Try not to over think this. An expression of regret, a willingness to be a good reference and planning the exit are about normal. If you want you can say, “I am not shocked but I am saddened.” Or you can say, “I guess you know that we cannot come up with a competitive counteroffer. I know it’s in your best interest to move on, you have to do what is right for you.”

    5. lazy intellectual*

      I think this is good! I would have been super uncomfortable if my former manager made a big deal of me leaving. My former workplace was similar – mainly a stepping stone for emerging professionals than a place where people stayed. I got a better job and was happy to leave.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      2 things you can do to let her know she’s appreciated is volunteer to be a positive reference for her in the future, and put it in writing (copying HR as appropriate) that she’s encouraged to reapply to future positions that interest her!

  53. windsofwinter*

    I’m having general existential angst about internships. I’ve applied for upwards of 70 at this point and the rejections keep rolling in. For context, I’m in a master’s program for data analytics and I have no prior STEM background. I’m starting to get nervous. And the imposter syndrome is kicking in hard.

    1. 404 04 04 4*

      Do you have any good relationships with professors who can give you advice? Or maybe connect you with prior students who can mentor you?

    2. CheeryO*

      Internships can be hard to come by if you don’t have much of an existing network. Is there anyone who can help get your resume out there? A relative or a neighbor? Friend of a friend? Definitely ask your professors/advisor too, and look into professional organizations in your area.

      Just anecdotally, I knew a lot of people in college and grad school who had to take unpaid internships or internships in a tangentially-related field. It’s ridiculous, but sometimes you have to have some experience just to get a good internship.

    3. Haha Lala*

      This year is WEIRD. A lot of companies hesitate to do remote internships, especially if they’ll still coping with switching to remote work. Add to that financial uncertainty maybe previous layoffs/pay cuts, and I’m betting the opportunities are few and far between. And internships aren’t high priorities when companies are struggling. Don’t start to doubt yourself, just remember that a lot of people are in the job searching boat this year.
      Keep up the work and something’s bound to stick!

  54. Cary*

    Last winter my husband (and I) had “the worst flu ever.” He’s never felt the same since. He went to the doctor about his newfound “spaciness,” had a couple initial tests which were normal and was referred to neuro.

    Last spring he was fired. I’ve mentioned before that the reasons given were (it turned out) a list of Asperger’s symptoms. He hadn’t disclosed. At the time he reacted by deciding that in the future, he’ll disclose. Now it looks like the problem may have been that this new medical illness just made it harder for him to mask/compensate. (Still a reason to disclose, I think, because it fits the ADA’s example of a flare up in a way. Even if you can normally compensate, if anything else happens to make that less possible it’s better that they already understand.)

    Anyway, we crossed our fingers and used up our savings paying for COBRA so we could keep investigating this problem.

    Now he’s finally scheduled to start a new job (good, because our savings are about to run out). He’s also finally about to see that neurologist he was referred to last winter. But one of the tests they did over the summer turned up something, and he was just referred to have that checked out. Bright side is, if that *is* the cause of the problem, there’s a simple treatment that he could start immediately. Since it’s been affecting his cognition, the sooner treatment can start, the better. But to start treatment he needs to be seen…

    They set the new patient appointment on his third day of work.

    He was initially supposed to start a week later and then they called and wanted to move up his start date, and he agreed because he didn’t yet have this appointment. But that makes it seem like they really need him to start ASAP. But he does have this mystery fever that does need to get checked out. And also a neuro appointment. And also Asperger’s that he needs to disclose.

    What’s the best way to handle this without destroying his reputation at his new job?

    My dad (a retired former manager) suggested that he just call them and say he came down with a fever (true, as mentioned above) and his doctor wants to see him on Wednesday and do they still want him to come in on Monday with a fever, or could he start remotely or what would they prefer?

    Or should he reschedule the appointment for later, knowing that his medical condition also may affect his job performance? If so, how much later?

    Any other suggestions?

    What if they want to schedule follow-up appointments, still shortly after he’s started?

    And, how exactly to disclose the Asperger’s? Seems like the biggest accommodation he needs there is just for people to know any miscommunications aren’t deliberate.

    He’s pretty sick, looks like it *is* about to get treated, ideally he wouldn’t have had to keep looking for work throughout the diagnostic process but reality is that people need money to live…and he *is* a very smart guy who will be an asset once he’s well. This is just really bad timing.

    Ideas anyone?

    1. PX*

      This sounds like a bit of ovethinking. Just say that he has a medical appointment that has just become available that he will need to take time off for. Most (sane) people understand some things are hard to plan around so you take it when you can.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. There’s nothing odd about saying something along the lines of, “I’d hoped this wouldn’t be an issue, but I have a doctors appointment that can’t be rescheduled on xx date.”

          1. Cary*

            Thanks, that’s a great script!

            How do you think that will go over in the context of

            * also having just disclosed, “I have Asperger’s. It means I don’t always know how I’m coming across, and I sometimes need to ask a lot of clarifying questions. Mostly I just need people to know that’s what it is and I’m not trying to be rude”; and

            * additional medical appointments (see my other comment), also in the first month on the job?

            (In a reply I’ll link to past AAMs on not taking sick time in the first week/month.)

            1. TL -*

              This is different – it’s not sick time per se, it’s a specialist appointment and they asked him to move up the start date.
              If they push back, “I’m so sorry; I told them I was available before the start date moved and the next appointment isn’t for months; it’s a specialist that’s hard to get into. I really do have to take it.”

              (And he should not be going on-site with a fever!)

        2. ...*

          Sure! You could even say “This is an office/provider that can book out months in advance, so I do apologize but I have to attend this appointment” or something along those lines.

    2. Nicki Name*

      When in the winter did you have this flu? I know we’re not supposed to diagnose random strangers over the internet, but it sounds an awful lot like your husband has post-COVID syndrome aka “long COVID”, and it might be worthwhile to reach out to a longhauler support group for advice as well.

      (If you’re in the US, we now know there were COVID deaths in the US as early as January, and there’s some evidence it may have been circulating here in mid-December 2019.)

      1. Cary*

        Late December 2019. BTW I have asthma and my spirometry worsened after that illness too. So yeah, we’ve thought it could be. Didn’t want to bring that up to the docs because we thought they’d think we were crazy since whatever it was was so early. We’ve both had negative covid tests since, but it would be interesting to do antibody tests.

    3. Ashley*

      Don’t fake sick early or call off. Just explain the situation with the early start date there is a medical appointment already scheduled.

    4. Weekend Please*

      If he is running a fever he should tell them and tell them about the doctor’s appointment. A lot of places are actually taking temperatures when entering buildings around me so regardless of whether he takes the day off for the appointment, he probably should address it with them before he starts. Don’t lie. Just ask them for their policies around fever right now.

    5. Jaybeetee*

      Assuming these new employers aren’t horrible, all your husband needs to do is explain he now has a medical appointment that day. He doesn’t *need* to go into detail, but if it were me I’d probably mention it’s a specialist appointment, to provide “came up suddenly, be a bastard to reschedule” context.

      Really, if they’re reasonable, this shouldn’t be a big deal.

        1. Cary*

          This isn’t the neuro. That one was supposed to be yesterday but got rescheduled since they wouldn’t do a new patient appointment over video and they also wouldn’t let him in with a fever.

          This is the infectious disease specialist. Then his PCP also wants him to see a pulmonologist ASAP (*they* originally wanted to see him on his *second* day of work, but he said he couldn’t possibly call out on his second day, so that’s now scheduled for his third week). And then the rescheduled neuro appointment will come up.

          And all of this “I need time off for a specialist medical appointment” will be coming from a new employee who also just disclosed that he has Asperger’s which causes communication problems. Thus our worry.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            It’s still a specialist. I don’t think I’d bring up anything else except that he had a specialist appointment he was waiting for, and the specialist has asked to reschedule it. It’s inconvenient but not that unusual or flaky.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Look, there’s nothing tricky or abnormal about the appointment, especially since they moved the start date earlier.

      “Hey, just wanted to let you know, when we moved my start date earlier, I was actually waiting to hear about a medical appointment I’ve been trying to schedule for a while. It’s going to be on Wednesday, so I’ll be out from (time) to (time) for that”

      If he needs follow-up, cross that bridge when you come to it.

      For disclosing Aspergers, I’d suggest just making it part of the conversation when he has his first check-in meeting with his manager, probably on Day 1.

      “I should mention that sometimes I take things very literally, or have trouble reading indirect communication styles [or however his traits manifest at work]. That’s actually because I have Asperger’s Syndrome. It isn’t usually an issue, but it sometimes helps to let people know ahead of time to avoid misunderstandings.”

    7. TL -*

      Depending on the size of the company, he might be able to disclose to HR and just get accommodations on file that they communicate to his manager, without communicating the Asperger’s. Then he can disclose as he gets more comfortable.

  55. Andrew*

    Does anyone have any insight into the current market for independent consultants? My company was impacted by COVID and I’ve been taking on some freelancing work in strategy and growth to pay the bills, but it seems like it’s harder to both get work and to get the rates I expect from talking with friends who freelanced a lot last year. The general vibe I get is that there are a lot of people looking for projects which has made it a buyer’s market…but I’m new to freelancing and could just be inexperienced at business development. What do you think?

    1. Nela*

      Freelancing is never easy. Starting out is a challenge even in a booming economy if you don’t have the connections or a well-oiled marketing process.
      This year has been pretty shitty for me financially, but I have a feeling it’s getting slightly better. We’ll see in January for sure – December is always a slow season for me.

      The point with freelancing is that you may need just one great client to say yes, and you’re set for months. At that point the economy and the buyers vs sellers market don’t matter. It’s about hitting it off and impressing the hell out of this individual client.

  56. PO'd about PTO*

    Hello, Commentariat! So I work for a small state trade association. The salaries aren’t great, but we do have very flexible time and a generous amount of vacation, sick, and personal time. Anyways, we just had a new President & CEO start in October and he decided to rewrite our 25 year old policy manual. The new policy manual switches us to just PTO, which is fine, but I am going to be losing 37% of my paid time off under the new policy, going from 24 days to 15. Other people in the office have it far worse and are losing upwards of 25 days of paid time off. In addition, we were previously allowed to carry over all of our sick leave and bank it. And he is now telling us that we will be forfeiting our entire sick leave balance. Anyways, this sucks. I am mad. Everyone else is mad. This is just one issue in the 22 page policy manual which also now provides that I can be fired on the spot for wearing too casual of an outfit to work. Any advice?

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m pretty sure that you could always be fired on the spot for too casual an outfit, at least in most states in the US. But that they put it in the manual, thats . . . oddly adversarial.

      I think the best response is to push back as a group. Can you prioritize key changes and ask for them to be revisited?

      1. PO'd about PTO*

        We have a staff meeting on Monday and boss has said that we will be discussing then. Just feels like yet another kick while everyone was already down.

    2. CatCat*

      Well, if their generous leave policies no longer compensate for the lower salaries, I’d be looking for a new job.

      I’m not clear what you mean by you’re “losing 35% of your paid time off.” If any of that is vacation time that’s already accrued, I’d definitely check if you’re in a state where accrued vacation has to be paid out and cannot just be taken away.

      I wonder if this new guy was brought in to get rid of people and this is how he’s doing it?

      1. PO'd about PTO*

        So I currently receive 10 days of vacation, 2 personal days, and 12 sick days per year. I am going from that (24 days) to just 15 days of PTO to be used for vacation and sick time. Our vacation days don’t carry over so that isn’t really relevant, but I will be losing my banked sick leave time. And on your last point, it wouldn’t surprise me.

        1. Ashley*

          I would ask if current sick leave can stay banked, will be paid out, or how long you have to use it. It sucks for the future bad enough but trying to be responsible and having time banked and then taken away is ugh.

        2. WellRed*

          That’s not “generous” time off to begin with. Frankly, between the new policy and the new dress code I’d be afraid this is the tip of an unpleasant iceberg of changes headed your way.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      If you already have banked time off, you should check to see if your state requires it to be paid out when it gets cancelled. They are allowed to change the rules going forward, but some states would require that the existing balance be paid it when it resets to zero. Check with the state labor department or an attorney.

  57. Flames on my face!*

    So I guess this isn’t so much a problem but man do I need to vent. At my job I have a nemesis. I work in an early education child care job. I’m not even sure if she knows she’s my nemesis. She’s extremely good at her job, but is extremely kind of negative and has a bit of an attitude with her coworkers. I’ve dealt with this for six years, and she’s mostly harmless, but is more like a fly buzzing around. She drives me batty and nothing will change about that. (Basically the definition of Bitch eating crackers). And in the grand scheme of things I only interact with her sometimes. (And she is fine like 60% of those times.)

    Anyway, she’s been kind of annoyed because it seems like I might be poised to be promoted into a managerial position.

    As with a lot of places COVID and COVID related stuff has destroyed morale around here, and no one got our raises back in October.

    Anyway, my assistant director’s son is in my class and today she handed me a card with a twenty dollar target card in it. It was signed by her, her husband, and her son (to the best of his ability). This is obviously a parent to teacher gift and very much not a management to employee gift, but she saw and literally said, “oh look it’s that favoritism again.”

    Kjdwhfhbdsihbwehcbhsdb. FLAMES. FLAMES ON MY FACE. ksjdbfbwefhbweyjhbwejhfb

    1. academic lab tech*

      Ouch I can see where what she said would make you angry! You teach the kid, of course they would give you a (perfectly normal) holiday gift. I’d also hate the implication that it’s favoritism. Besides, this is just a normal part of being in early education child care, you will end up taking care of one of your co-workers // bosses kids. She has years to get used to this.

      TBH (sorry to be negative, just trying to contextualize) that’s not even the nicest holiday gift I’ve seen from a parent.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Then go to the big boss and report the $20 card as favoritism, if it bothers you so.”

      She knows she will look very foolish if she does.

  58. Lost in the Library*

    Looking for some advice regarding interview skills. I had an interview last week and I’m 99.9% sure I didn’t get the position. I am not TOO heartbroken because I’d have to move in the middle of December. I did that last year and it was super stressful.

    However, I’ve been reflecting on how the interview went and ugh…. I have to face facts… I’m a TERRIBLE interviewee. Have you ever gone from a terrible interviewee to a decent interviewee?

    No matter how well I prepare my anxiety always gets the best of me. I get really stressed out and anxious because I can’t wrap my head around the mindset to treat an interview like a conversation. There are certain questions that really trip me up, again, despite how much I prepare. They are ALWAYS the conflict related questions. Somehow I always think the answer I prepared sucked then I give some rambling answer. Or I’m asked a question I can’t really answer well… I was asked how I handle disagreements with supervisors, for example, well I don’t feel I can give a real answer to that question because I’ve never BEEN in a position where I could truly disagree with a supervisor and not be punished/reprimanded. So, I have to make something up.

    I’ve also read advice to ask for time to think in interviews before answering and I’m usually pretty quick on my feet, but I find that in interviews… somehow my brain isn’t as quick as it usually is. I almost find that I CAN’T think in interviews and organize my thoughts! I’m just blank when I have to “think” in interviews.

    I’m going to work on practicing interviewing with my therapist, because I think we can get to the root of what makes me uncomfortable about some questions. My former boss has also offered a bit of “coaching,” which I’m not sure about. I feel pretty vulnerable about this. Ugh. It’s just embarrassing to be such a mess.

    1. PX*

      Are you preparing by practising out loud with someone? Because this is the kind of thing that only gets better with lots and lots of practice. Out loud, with someone else ideally.

      If its public/on the spot speaking vs just interviews, things like Toastmasters or drama clubs can be useful to get used to the ‘performance’ aspect of it and learning how to think better on your feet.

      But if its only in an interview scenario? Then its just practise. Learn to prep your answers based on things in your resume, have the examples ready in your head, think of the thread that you want to use to connect things. And then practise practise practise out loud, until you feel comfortable with them. And then get someone else, and practise with them asking difficult questions.

    2. 404 04 04 4*

      After having a mix of good interviews and bad interviews, I took a look in the mirror and told myself that I had to start bragging. The whole “act like you’re an overconfident rich straight white guy”? It’s legit. Stop saying “we” in interviews, say “I” and say specifically what you did.

      For the questions about how you handled a situation but you never did, I just say that. Like, “I’ve been lucky enough to have good relationships with my supervisors, but if I ever had a bad one, here’s how I’d do it”. Or take it down a level and treat it “hey did you ever disagree with some minor thing your supervisor did? that also counts”, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Plus, there’s no need to get into things you don’t want to talk about. I had a supervisor retaliate against me; for sure that is not anything I bring up in an interview.

      Also, remember: every interview you fail is an interview you learned from. It is an opportunity for practice and each time, you can see what you did wrong and try to do better next time. I also have a ton of anxiety but I also realized that most people don’t care about me and will easily forget me. I bombed an interview a few months ago; they probably forgot all about it by the following week. No one’s going around saying “ugh, can you believe she got nervous and flubbed the difference between median and mode.” At most, they might remember that one candidate did that. They’re probably not remembering me by name.

    3. Jaybeetee*

      It gets easier as you get further in your career. In my early to mid-20s, I approached interviews like big tests I was going to pass or fail, and I was so focused on “passing” that I often wasn’t paying attention to signs that some of the places I was interviewing with were toxic. It’s also harder when you’re desperate for work – unemployed or desperate to get out of the job you have. Finally, I had it in my head that being concise was important – leading to brief, one-sentence answers on my part an a ton of “failed” interviews where I wasn’t sure what had gone wrong.

      Role-playing does help, and it was actually a friend of my ex who ran through some interview questions with me and gave me some really important feedback. But I also learned, after some bad experiences, that I need to screen them as they screen me. Of course it’s not an entirely equal exchange, but I find if I keep reminding myself that I need to figure out if I like THEM, it takes some edge off the “I must impress them and make them like me” anxiety.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      First off: Notes are your friend. In phone screens, I always have a list of notes for me to refer to so I remember major points. Also in phone screens, you can go further and write out how you would answer the question and practice the answer enough that it doesn’t sound rehearsed. I do this with “Why do you want this job?” because I can never come up with a good answer on the fly.

      Secondly: Practice with a friend. Have them ask you questions and then answer them. Do this often. Especially to practice the questions that usually mess you up.

      You got this. And you are not alone.

    5. Drago Cucina*

      Don’t be afraid to pause and take a breath. I often jump off and my answers sound rushed. In your head it seems to take forever, but in reality it’s only a second or two.

      Is there a type of library or library position you’re seeking? I’ve found that different libraries have different styles. I went from school library to public (youth services to director) to specialized science library. Each one of these uses a different vocabulary and is looking for something specific. It’s all librarianship, but can be unique for that environment.

    6. lazy intellectual*

      I am the most socially awkward person in existence and became somewhat decent at interviewing (though I will never be great.) My recommendations:

      Prepare answers in advance to common interview questions, especially behaviorial ones (“tell me about a time when…”) questions. Structure your answers using STAR format – one sentence for STA and 2 sentences for R. Then, practice the hell out of them. Practice on video. Practice with a friend. Practice practice practice.

      Basically, the point of an interview is to properly communicate how good you are at Doing Things. Alison’s free interview guide on here is helpful so check it out!

  59. Elizabeth*

    Not sure if there’s any advice to be had for this situation, but I’m incredibly mortified. We are the licensed distributors for 2 major teapot manufacturers, and these 2 licensing agreements form 95% of our core business. Accordingly, we’ve built incredibly strong relationships with the CSR for each. In October, we (me and my boss) approached senior management about sending a little something as a token of appreciation. It was within the guidelines, ethically appropriate, and nominal value.

    We were approved, so I went ahead and emailed the CSRs asking for an address – I was careful to be vague in my wording, “I was wondering if you would share an address where we could send you a little Christmas?” Still, there’s an implication there.

    Management changed their minds after the email was sent, but before we could arrange anything. Their concern was about optics during covid, even though we’ve been as busy as ever. We’re also not allowed to do anything on a personal level.

    I feel like a glassbowl. I know it’s not my fault, but still. I AM allowed to send a card, so if I sent personal messages something like: As the holiday season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and those who have helped to shape our business. It’s been quite a year for us all; thank you for helping us make this year a success despite everything! Let’s hope 2021 is good in all the ways 2020 was not. We look forward to working with you in the years to come. May your holidays and New Year be filled with joy!

    Do you think that would be ok and make me look less an idiot?

    1. noahwynn*

      I think you are probably fine. If it is anything like my office, we receive so many holiday gifts that it is impossible to keep up with who sent what and when.

    2. Elizabeth*

      :) I’ll go and buy really nice cards, like the top shelf at the Hallmark store. And I’ll make sure to personalize the note a bit more, name some specific things they’ve done, or mention how much I enjoy hearing about their dog, something like that. Thank you for the reassurance!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I really like your word choice of ” a little Christmas” because that is exactly what a card is, it’s a little Christmas.
      Go for it.

  60. lolsob*

    My company has been making a lot of changes to previous benefits and compensation in ways that feel really shady to me. Not illegal, not anything you could realistically sue for, but just underhanded and petty. Many of these changes (like the company paying all or part of your cell phone bill or removing alternative medicine options from our wellness plans) have been quietly revoked, with news of the change verbally handed down and no supporting documentation or ability to review the scope of the changes. Our company culture is externally very open and transparent, but internally, there’s no way to reliably follow up on these changes – HR at best asks you to send them an email so that they can “look into it” or at worst completely gaslights you and says no such change is happening…right up until the moment that an announcement comes out, buried at the bottom in a rah-rah we’re so great email, that the company will no longer match HSA or provide childcare credits. There’s no forum for asking questions publicly, and any documentation that would clarify or explain what the company IS covering is hidden in protected folders.

    I’d like to push back hard at this – I have tenure, and I have a fair bit of capital, but I cannot figure out where to start. HR is no help, of course – it’s like visiting an oracle and waiting for them to read entrails or something. There’s no direct path to reach anyone in the C-suite. What’s my best course of action here? I’m good at documenting, but the company just defaults back to “well, we’re under no obligation to provide information regarding changes until those changes are in effect.”

    1. WellRed*

      I’m mainly curious: What happens if you ask for a copy of the benefits, for example? And keep asking and asking and ask everyone else, “hey, do you have a copy of the benefits?”

  61. JustaTech*

    To follow up from my question last week about why my coworker Bonny was suddenly super critical and all up in my experiments, I figured it out. She’s done all her projects and she’s bored. Phew.
    This, I can deal with, even if it’s still irksome (I didn’t horn in on her projects when I was bored over the summer). I offered her one of my projects that I’m not very excited about (but everyone wants to learn about how to do cold shipment of pharma stuff right now, so why not?), and if that doesn’t work I’ll point her in the direction of some of the stuff I did in my slow period.

    Honestly I should have realized this as soon as it started because I knew she had wrapped her big project, but I was so excited to start my project I didn’t think about it.

    1. academic lab tech*

      That’s good of you to try and move one of your projects over! The experimental lag is so real, and I know one’s supposed to spend time reading papers or writing but wow can that get boring.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, and it doesn’t help that she doesn’t know what her next project will be (because the next thing is like a cat in the doorway, neither in or out), and the last couple of projects she suggested were shot down because of internal politics stuff.

        Though the project I offered her was also pretty selfish – I don’t like it and it means more work with this one guy who is just frustrating to work with (scatterbrained, always 10 minutes late to meetings), so I’d be fine not doing it!

        1. academic lab tech*

          I mean that’s always the way it goes, you’re just taking something you might not be the best at (because of motivation) and giving it to someone who has more motivation!

  62. Nickname confusion*

    This is a minor thing but I want to know if my reaction is normal. I’ve been at a new job since March, one of my co-workers is a Richard who goes exclusively by Dick, it’s on his door and email sign off. He is an older man and I know this is not so uncommon in the UK. English isn’t my first language and I learnt that word to mean something very different. I, of course, respect his choice of what he wants to be called but still feel super weird calling out “Good morning Dick!” as I walk into the office, or writing ‘Dear Dick’ in his Christmas card. The worse for me is talking about him with someone else though, it feels weird to say to someone from another area who doesn’t know him well “Oh Dick is off today”.
    I get that this is my internal problem and I do continue to call him by his name and I don’t think I show my discomfort, but is it weird that I am a bit weirded out by someone choosing to go by Dick when Richard or Rick are options?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s weird even for those of whose who have English as their first language, but if that’s how wants to be addressed…

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yes, it is weird that you’re weirded out. That is his name, and it’s a pretty normal nickname for Richard. Same goes for someone named Fanny or Johnson or someone who has a Thai name that ends in “porn”. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this is a you and problem and you need to get over it.

    3. gbca*

      I totally get your discomfort, but keep in mind he’s likely gone by Dick his whole life. It’s not really reasonable to expect him to change the name he’s gone by for many years! Luckily I think Dick as a nickname has fallen out of favor anyway so you won’t come across it much anymore.

      1. Ashley*

        Fingers crossed that there will be fewer and fewer people going by Dick. Though is can be helpful when they live up to their name when you are annoyed with them — you get to call them by what you want to straight to their face all while just saying their name.

    4. PX*

      I think the issue here is you are judging his choices because it makes you uncomfortable. You say Richard or Rick are options – but only because you prefer them. Maybe they arent options to him! Nicknames can be extremely personal things, so you deciding that someone else has made a “bad” choice with the nickname they choose to go by is…kinda rude.

      If he’s happy with Dick (and trust me, he probably has heard every single joke about being called Dick there can possibly be), then its not your place to judge.

    5. 404 04 04 4*

      Dick is a very very very common nickname for Richard. I’m no linguist but I’m willing to bet the slang term came from the name, and so the name came first. I say just shrug it off and move on. His name is ‘Dick’. It’d be the same thing if his name was a slang term in your first language.

      I sometimes run into moments where a name in my second language is a derogatory term in another language, and then you just gotta throw your hands up and say “only so many syllables in the world”. Someone’s name is not gonna stop being their name just because it can translate to something else.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Dick is a very common nickname for Richard, especially for older generations; it’s not weird. Please don’t judge people’s names like that or wonder why they don’t change it to make you more comfortable.

    7. Sylvan*

      lol. It’s his name, you’re stuck with it. There are plenty of names that sound funny in other languages, and some that can sound funny in their own language, like Dick or Fanny. You need to move on. If someone reacted like this to your name, you probably wouldn’t want to change it for them – you wouldn’t even want to be asked.

    8. Jaybeetee*

      When I spent time in Asia, some people had names that happened to have… other meanings in English. And yes, even some English-language names can have other meanings in English. Particularly in the UK, “dick” means a few different things. Slang also changes over time, as many Chads and Karens have learned to their horror.

      You just gotta turn off the part of your brain making those associations, and cement that Dick is the guy’s name, not anything else.

    9. Maxie's Mommy*

      If he’s older you could call him Mr. Jones in a clearly-fond-of-you way—-“Mr. Jones! Good morning!!” You only have to call someone by their name once or twice a day.

    10. JustaTech*

      I understand why you are weirded out, but it is his name so you really do have to let it go.
      If it embarrassed him he would have changed it ages ago. He didn’t, therefore it doesn’t, and it’s his name so it would be really rude to not use it.

      To try to re-frame your thinking about it, first, only ever say “Dick” when you are talking about your coworker. Make it a name and nothing else in your mind. Practice saying phrases like “Good morning, Dick!” out loud at home until it feels as natural as “Good morning, Susan!”

    11. ADHD sucks*

      Dick Cheney & Dick Van Dyke prefer to be called “Dick,” so I imagine your coworker would feel the same.

    12. Llama face!*

      I have the sense of humour of an average eight year old and have run into some very interesting name choices in my time. Personally I tend to have a little giggle to myself the first time I run across it but then I make a point to redirect my brain after that so I’m not constantly thinking about the alternate meaning or what silly thing a word sounds like.
      And really if you try you can get past it and not even notice the awkwardness anymore.

      As an aside, this is reminding me of the youth conference I once attended where the speaker, Randy Gay (I kid you not), talked about his trip to Australia. And that was when he learned “randy” is not a name but an unfortunate descriptor there…

    13. RagingADHD*

      This is one of those minor cognitive dissonance things that just dissipates with familiarity.

      Lots of people have names with alternate meanings or unfortunate associations.

      One way to train your brain that a recurring thought is boring and irrelevant is to deliberately counter it in your mind with an equally boring, irrelevant fact. I often use, “yes, and the sky is blue.”

      It’s not a big deal, and you’ll soon be able to ignore it.

    14. Veronica*

      Our congressman when I was in high school was named Dick Swett. It never occurred to me that there was anything funny about the fact that campaign signs with his name were plastered all over town every two years. It only occurred to me in the last few years that it was at all funny. Dick is a really common name in certain areas.

      1. RagingADHD*

        There’s a politician somewhere in my region named Young Boozer. I think it’s even a multigenerational name, like he’s a IIIrd or something.

    15. Nessun*

      Native English speaker here. Similar to your question but from another perspective maybe, I’ve seen Phuk as a name in other cultures, and I admit the first few times I was REALLY confused (and worried about how to pronounce it). But at the end of the day, it’s someone’s name, and it’s their choice what they want to be called.

      I have heard of the name Dick before of course, and though I’m aware of the meaning of it as a noun, it’s really not a big deal to me – I’ve learned to apply that separation of “proper name and other” to my interactions with people. It can be done, it just takes practice.

      Learn to think of the person Dick when you say his name, relate him to his name, build that connection in your head! And just call people what they prefer – they’ll be glad you do.

    16. Maggie*

      This is common in the USA too! This is probably something that’s been his nickname for a while. Its not weird that you think its a bit weird, haha, but definitely want to respect his wishes. Fanny is also a name here in the USA (not popular anymore, very old timey) but I believe it has an inappropriate connotation in the UK, so it just happens sometimes.

  63. amry*

    How do you all adjust to a significantly increased workload from a temporary promotion that you didn’t ask for (for fear of this exact thing!)? Long story short, I work in a department that has lost 5 staff members since May, including the first- and second-most senior folks (the director of the whole department, and the associate director of my specific team, who I reported to). I was bumped up from squarely middle management to the associate director role and making high-level decisions that I don’t feel qualified to make. We are still waiting to fill the director position, and the person temporarily in that role is so far removed from my department that he frequently looks to me as the expert even though he is my supervisor. It feels like I am running my entire department without the expertise to back it up while also not having time to do my actual (old) job duties. I’ve been working at least 10 hours a day for the last couple weeks with no end in sight just to keep my head above water. I know this is temporary, but would love any advice you have about how to manage a new workload that’s essentially two levels up from the work I was doing before!

  64. Sarra N. Dipity*

    Just venting :)

    I have an open-plan house, with the living room, dining room, and kitchen all having no interior walls. We don’t have any extra rooms to use as an office, so the living room has:
    * Me, working at my desk
    * My spouse, working at spouse’s desk, which is about 6 feet from my desk
    * My child, working on the couch

    My vents:
    * My child is autistic and has a low frustration tolerance, which leads to regular outbursts at teachers and class members, and somehow manages to time them while I’m in important client meetings
    * My spouse is a LOUD TALKER, and has a lot of meetings. My clients and co-workers can hear. I mentioned the LOUD TALKING and they didn’t believe me.
    * It’s COLD in here, even with the heat on; our furnace is about 40 years old.

    Gratitude to balance that out:
    * My company is so good about WFH for safety
    * My spouse got a (small) raise this year
    * We’re making (slow) progress on child’s IEP
    * I have a beautiful forested view out my window to look at all day, instead of a crowded, noisy, downtown

    1. Anono-me*

      That sounds like an absolutely frustrating environment to try to be highly productive in.

      Do you want support or support and suggestions?

      1. Sarra N. Dipity*

        Thank you!! I think I just wanted to know that someone heard me and that I’m not crazy for being frustrated.

        1. Anono-me*

          You are ‘reasonably frustrated’, not ‘unreasonably frustrated’. And your husband’s reaction sounds more defensive than collaborative; which probably only exacerbates the situation.

          Here are some quick ideas that might help: Gamer headsets for everyone, heated foot pillows and a couple of 3 panel screens with a fluffy quilt thrown over it.

      1. Sarra N. Dipity*

        We do have a wood stove but it’s a PITA to get it going and then I get so engrossed in work that I forget to maintain it! Ahhh, ADHD. I did drag out my electric blanket, though.

        And yeah, I was totally shocked at that response. And then the explanation: “Well, maybe it’s because I’m trying to be clear and easy to understand because I have a lot of coworkers in the Ukraine on these calls.” smh

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, well, if someone’s speaking a foreign language that they aren’t completely fluent in, a louder voice won’t make it any easier for them to understand… The important thing is to speak a bit slower if you’re a fast talker, to enunciate clearly, to speak in fairly reasonably concrete terms and to avoid using too many idioms.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have been wrapping my legs in my old parka– looks kind of silly but I’m on the voice not video. And it really helps keep me warm.

  65. anon acquiree*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for navigating their next role when their company is being acquired? I’m in the fortunate position of working closely with a c-level executives and working on the integration team, so I should have the opportunity to influence what my next role is. I want to be sure I’m proactive about it so I get to have input in it, rather than being handed a role that I may or may not want. I also want to be sensitive to the fact that many of the higher-ups at my company are also probably concerned about where they are going to land. I’m not great at nuanced conversation about this kind of thing, I tend to either be really straightforward or don’t say anything at all. Any and all experiences/suggestions would be really helpful.

  66. I Wish I Knew*

    Is there anyway I can gently bring up to my co-workers that I am a literal newbie to my current field and to ask my supervisor instead?

    I was hired around 6 months ago into an HR position that was within a specific subfield (i.e. operations, compliance, benefits, etc.) where there’s 2-3 employees for each subfield since it’s a big company. I explicitly told my interviewers (supervisor and supervisor’s boss) that I do not have any HR experience and they told me they’d train me. But after two months of my new job (where I wasn’t given much to work with), my supervisor (Jane) ended up getting COVID (along with her whole family so it was a mess) and being out for almost 2 months. Another supervisor (Steve) stepped up and tried to help me but we were honestly just putting a bandage on stuff and praying that Jane comes back.

    Thankfully, Jane came back but it was a complete shitshow at work with a lot of important stuff being on the backlog so I’ve never had the actual chance to receive direct training. Instead, it’s me constantly asking Jane questions about stuff that’s not easily Google-able and literally learning as I go via trial of fire. This job

    So I get a bit annoyed when other HR co-workers ask me how does something work or how to do a process and act surprised/miffed that I don’t know. It’s not like they’re asking me questions that are very basic or something I’ve done/answered before – instead, it’s pretty complex stuff. I keep telling them to ask my supervisor directly because I don’t know but is there another way I should try to approach this?

      1. Virtual cheese*

        As in no, I can’t think of a way for you to say “ask my supervisor, I haven’t been trained on this yet” other than …. “ask my supervisor, I haven’t been trained on this yet.” They’ll figure it out. Or you can ask Jane if you should handle this differently. It’s understandable you’re annoyed they keep asking but I don’t know what else you could do about it?

        1. irene adler*

          Yeah-this is about all you can do about this.

          Course, if you are feeling snarky, you might give them horribly incorrect instructions that end up making more work for them. And you’d very quickly become known as “The One Who Should Not Be Asked For Direction.”

    1. Free Meerkats*

      What I would suggest is to tell them you don’t know, but will get back to them with an answer. Then you go to your supervisor with the question. That way you learn the thing along with getting the answer for the person asking.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. It’s just as important for the OP to learn as it is for the person who asks the question to get an answer.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Call Jane together!
      “That’s a good question and one that I’m overdue to be trained on. Let’s invite Jane into this call and ask.”

  67. chippy*

    Our original team of 5 has dwindled down to 3 due to lay offs. One of my coworkers is quitting leaving just me and my manager. Work was already crazy when it was the 3 of us and I’ve been telling my manager that the deadlines that are set for us are unreasonable. Despite me working 60+ hour weeks, I am constantly either being late on deadlines or barely meeting them. My manager let me know yesterday that his request to hire more team members was denied. I am absolutely furious because our company is telling everyone that they’re being hit by COVID but since our team has access to revenue numbers we know that’s a lie.

    I have been job searching but no bites so far. I have decided to just work my 40 hours, take my check, and job search. However, I feel unbelievably guilty and not meeting my work’s expectations is destroying my self-confidence. If anyone has been in a similar situation, I’d love to hear your story or any advice. Thank you!

  68. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    A month ago, I moved into a managerial role for the first time. I have one direct report, “Victor,” who just informed me he has ADHD. He has very classic issues with time management, easily getting distracted from long-term projects by exciting short-term ones, and so on. This is compounded by our workplace culture being pretty interrupt-heavy—there are many regular and irregular meetings, and you’re expected to be available on Slack all day—and our deadlines being tight.

    Every week, Victor is supposed to turn in at least two reports on specific models of teapot, plus one short article on some aspect of the teapot industry. He’s a teapot expert, no question! But he knows so much that he gets sidetracked writing lengthy white papers about teapot manufacturing or discussing the nuances of types of glaze that are only available by mail order from a supplier who’s frequently sold out. Instead of two reports and one article, I get one report, half an article, and a lot of ideas that aren’t useful to our clients. I respect that great unexpected ideas can come out of this kind of process, but also, I need him to make his numbers. And he’s working on a lot of nights and weekends to try to stay on top of his backlog, which is not inherently bad—I do it myself sometimes when I need uninterrupted time—but not sustainable long-term.

    I would really love to hear from people who have ADHD about what managers have done or could do to help you succeed in a situation like this. I will also ask him directly what would be most useful for him, of course, but I’m sure the commentariat here will have ideas that neither of us would have thought of.

    1. Sylvan*

      Oh boy, Victor sounds kind of like me. I don’t know if this will help him, but it’s good to get positive feedback when I do better than expected at something. The next time I’m working on that task, I’ll remember it and aim for the same results instead of overthinking things or getting derailed so much. It’s also good to have structure, which is especially hard to provide these days if you’re WFH; hard deadlines and very clear requirements for reports.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Thank you for the reminder! I can get very into problem-solving mode and forget to praise and reward.

    2. Littorally*

      Reducing the interrupts jumps right off the page as an immediate productivity boost for him. While you may not be able to eliminate them altogether, even just cutting them down will likely do a ton for his productivity.

      Also, can you stagger the due dates for each of his deliverables? For example, rather than saying that two reports and one short article are due on Friday, make it that the reports are due Tuesday and Thursday, and the article Friday? Deadline crunch is a major motivator for a lot of folks with ADHD and may help him focus and prioritize his work better.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        I was thinking of suggesting that he default to having Slack notifications off and have daily “office hours” when they’re on, rather than the other way around. It’s very rare that someone will need to reach him that urgently, and they can always click “notify anyway” if they need to. Unfortunately I can’t liberate him from the team meetings, and he schedules his own meetings with vendors.

        We’re already doing staggered due dates, which we agree on in his weekly 1:1, and I follow up throughout the week: “Hey, it’s 2 p.m. Friday, just making sure you’re on track to get me that yellow sun teapot report by EOD as you’d estimated earlier.”

    3. Spearmint*

      What I’ve found helpful as someone with ADHD is blocking off time where I turn off notifications from email and instant messaging (like Slack, Teams, etc.) so I can focus on long-term projects. I know you say the culture is to be available at all times, but would it be possible for you to give him your blessing to turn off Slack and ignore email for, say, 1-2 hours a day (at a consistent time so you and his coworkers know he’s not available) to focus on these projects? If every day isn’t feasible, what about 3-4 hours but only once or twice a week?

      People at my office do this. They sometimes block off time on their calendar to focus exclusively on long-term projects and the understanding is you only contact them for something truly urgent, in which case you text or call them (as they often turn off email and IM notifications).

      (Personally, I think cultures of being always available and constantly interrupted on Slack/Teams/email, while particularly difficult for those with ADHD, lead even neurotypical people to struggle to focus on long-term projects, so it may be better for everyone on your team if you gave them room to not always be 100% available 100% of the time)

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Yes, I definitely want to encourage him to do this! Going dark for a few hours a day is permitted but not really common, and I want to make sure he knows I’m completely fine with it.

      2. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

        Seconding this. I do not have ADHD, but for about 7 months of the year my job is bonkers busy, and I learned very early on that setting “do not disturb” for the same time every day, blocking it off on my calendar, and telling everyone to leave me to work was the only way I was going to get even close to handling the ten to fifteen ish time consuming very important tasks I have on a given busy day.

      3. allathian*

        I don’t have ADHD and I hate the constant interruptions culture. My coworker and I are each responsible for keeping an eye on our ticketing system every other week, with obvious flexibility when either one of us is off work. For most requests it’s enough that we respond within a day, although some projects can take months to complete. So we tend to do short projects on our ticket weeks and focus on longer ones when we don’t need to keep an eye on incoming stuff. Works well. When I really need to focus, I’ll flag DND on Skype.

    4. ADHD sucks*

      The excessive white papers come from enthusiasm and hyperfocus… and from lack of direction from you. It might help to discuss them in advance, asking for an outline, or a few advance outlines, and then giving objective guidelines for self-assessment. You might even map out a sequence that could be written in advance during a surge of dopamine-fueled focus

      I agree with the others about the interruptions. Why is someone with writing assignments supposed to be interruptible? If you can’t get the top people to go along with periods of incognito time, then he may have to go the official route for an accommodation for that.

      I will be working on something like that. Unofficially, I’m allowed to shut my door to do “focused” work, but almost all of my work requires focus. Before Covid changed workplace norms, I was expected to have an open-door policy despite very few passersby needing my attention. They got it, but they had no idea they got it!

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Unfortunately he didn’t get a lot of direction from his previous manager. In my last job I worked with alpacas, so I’m still getting up to speed on the teapot industry, and then I’ll be able to give him more specific assignments. In the meantime, outlines and “What purpose does this serve?” questions will definitely help.

        The nature of our business is that there’s constant new information. Our teapot analysts have to be able to write quickly about breaking news and exciting new products. But in most cases a wait of a few hours won’t make much difference, and no one will be bothered if he takes a chunk of every day for focus time. I certainly don’t think this will be the sort of thing that requires HR or the magic phrase “reasonable accommodation for my disability.”

    5. lazy intellectual*

      UGH stop with the interruptions.

      Also, I’m not sure how strongly you are enforcing deadlines, but this could be a motivator for him.

  69. Grief and Fatigue And*

    Trigger warning… COVID, Chronic pain, mental health, grief

    I am from that major East Coast City and have been in my midwest job for ten years. I have thrived here and am grateful that I am not in a tiny apt with an hour subway commute.
    I am physically disabled with mobility issues and chronic pain and hi-risk for COVID complications. Been WFH since March and will continue to do so.

    In the past 7 months I have lost 9 people to COVID including my best friend of 25 years, plus 1 to cancer and 1 to systemic organ failure. This week another friend died of COVID.

    I am so damn tired.
    I am so damn angry. (I live in an area of anti-maskers)

    Work. Basically am tuned out, doing the minimum for the last few weeks. Dropping balls. Reports are late. I don’t think I am at risk of losing my job but I am typically on the workaholic side of the spectrum. My job is amazing. I feel like this will never end. (read this over- and just diagnosed with shingles, most of the pain is manageable- Dr. says rest and lower my stress, hahahaha)
    Reached out to EAP. Not so helpful. Yes, I exercise, yes, I am aware and grateful, yes, I reach out to others, yes, I meditate, yes, I listen to music.
    Anyone else feel like this? Got advice? I wish there was a self-help book called, What to do when you are all out of F**ks.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m so sorry for all your losses. It’s awful that your EAP is so basic and useless.

      Take PTO if you can—at least two solid weeks of it would be good. When you’re all out of everything, you need time to recharge. I hope your boss is on the side of you taking some time to grieve; it will be better for you and your job in the long run.

      If you aren’t already working with a therapist or grief counselor, please see if you can find one. If you have any religious beliefs, a spiritual leader may be able to counsel you as well, and/or help you find some grief rituals that speak to you.

      All best wishes.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Internet hug. Shingles happens when things are already really bad, just in case they needed to get worse. :( Can you ask your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or a therapy group? Thinking of you!

    3. ADHD sucks*

      East-Coaster with issues trying to survive the backwards midwest here. Do you think you could arrange for medical leave? I would think the shingles diagnosis would qualify you for that.

      Or just a vacation. Even if you can’t travel, you can take a break from the stress.

      1. Maggie*

        Asking for leave is a great suggestion, but please don’t imply that the Midwest is “backwards” or everyone in the Midwest is all 100% the same.

    4. Out of Retail*

      Just wanted to be another voice saying I am so, so sorry for your losses. That is a tremendous amount of grief to be coping with, and just too many people to have lost. If you can take time off, it sounds like that would be great, and just…try to let yourself be okay with being at less than full capacity. No one should expect you to be going strong through all this. I hope you find some time to rest and heal.

    5. so anonymous dept. manager*

      Sometimes the Internet provides. Oh, take time off. I took time when my best friend died. I just scheduled 6 vacation days to give me over two weekends and the time in between.

    6. Anono-me*

      I am so sorry that you are going through all this.

      If you can, take time off. And talk to your boss about all of the horrible stuff that you have been hit with.

      I would also say that it sounds like you are trying to power thru this and keep working and taking care of everything . It’s okay to feel bad when the misery stampede that is 2020 backs up and tramples over you specifically again.

      Also, sometimes I find it helpful to sing along with the “All out of f___s.” song. (You can find it be googling ‘The all out of f___s song. The singer looks very dapper with Smith Brother’s style facial hair and an old fashioned suit.)

  70. FormerGIJaneDoe*

    Just had a contractor call me “Miss Pretty” -twice- in a brief interaction…I miss my old boss whom I could just sic on such people…now I just have to hold back my vomit and try to remind myself that someone out there must appreciate me for being a hard-working and extremely intelligent person….someone.

    Thank you for letting me vent

      1. Ashley*

        While I wish you can do this in all jobs it isn’t always practical. I get this sexism tons in my field dealing with contractors. I am usually stuck with it and try to weed out the guys who genuinely mean well old school thing that don’t mean harm (though still inappropriate and annoying) and the creepers who get charged more or given less work depending on the side of the business they do with us.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      The more I think about this the angrier it’s making me. So I’ll also suggest that the phrase “Hey dickface, I have a name” might be useful here.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      I understand your annoyance, but is this person old and Southern? That is what I hear in my head. Those are the only people that have ever made such comments to me….along with sweetie, darlin’, etc. I’ve even been called sweet cheeks, which I found odd yet hilarious. I just roll my eyes and move on.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        I wouldn’t even say old. I get it a lot from women younger than I am (which is a lot of the workforce).

        It was actually an issue with a development director we contracted with. She would sweetie and honey all the donors, board, and staff. It was a continual complaint about her.

      2. EnfysNest*

        Doesn’t matter who they are – it’s not okay, it’s highly unprofessional, and they have no excuse not to know better.

        1. Sylvan*

          “Pretty” isn’t normal, but “Miss ___” and “sweetie” and other affectionate names are normal in at least my part of the South. They’re most often used by older people, especially older Black people, and telling them how to speak isn’t acceptable.

          1. Sylvan*

            Not to defend the contractor who used “Miss Pretty” at all, by the way. That one’s not cool and we don’t even know if this cultural stuff is relevant.

    3. Haha Lala*

      Call him out on it! He may not even realize what he’s saying or that it can be offensive.
      If you don’t want to be too abrupt about it, you can laugh it off while still getting the point across– “Haha, I only let my grandmother call me that– please just call me Jane.”

    4. RagingADHD*

      That is worth a dead stop in the conversation, and you can still use it even if you didn’t react before.

      “Excuse me?”
      Long pause.
      “My name is Jane.”


  71. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    Had my very first performance review/conversation with my Boss today after about a year and a half at my company (and coming off of my recent promotion & significant pay bump! I’m no longer underpaid and in fact am actually quite well paid for my industry and area now!) and I think it went well – he says I’m doing a great job! Unfortunately he’s incredibly hands-off as a manager, and so he had no areas as to where I could improve. Which, great, I guess, and I have a sense of the stuff I’d like to improve on my own. But I also was honest with him that I wanted to do some work in an area that is super necessary for our company (and others in the industry as well) but that nobody wants to do – mostly documentation and writing-based! And he was thrilled that I was interested in that stuff, because it’s stuff that nobody else wants to do. I’m pretty happy that I’m doing a good enough job that my boss is okay with me moving into the stuff I enjoy a little more than the majority of my job.

  72. Just keep smiling*

    In light of one of the letters this week: how much pressure do you feel about appearing ‘happy’ at work?

    Obviously this year has been particularly difficult for a lot of people, and despite all the messaging about being ‘kind to yourself’ etc., it’s not exactly a secret that you’re meant to put a front in the professional setting. Even for people who work from home (and so won’t have to keep up appearance constantly) have reported feeling pressured to ‘act happy’ and join in whatever virtual happy hour (or whatever other event) their company put on (all in the name of keeping up spirits, the irony completely lost on them).

    It always seems like companies are more concerned that people ‘appear’ happy, or put up a show about how much they care about their wellbeing, more than actually caring people are coping – which sometimes just means allowing them to /feel/ unhappy for a while without being worried that they’ll be punished.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Not quite the same thing, but I feel like I’m doing so much extra emotional labor at work. I’m in a helping profession where high amounts of empathy, care, and “doing whatever it takes” are the norm, but the pandemic has really pushed it. I do feel an unwritten expectation to remain positive and poised.

    2. ADHD sucks*

      My calendar says 2020, but my workplace acts like it’s 1984.

      Fortunately, with a mask on, nobody can see you frown.

    3. Web Crawler*

      Yeah, I’ve definitely been feeling that. I think that the updates I’ve been getting from leadership at my company increase the pressure.

      Like, they’re supposed to feel like a personal connection since we’re all remote. But all of the updates feature vacation houses and boats and learning to bake bread and expensive renovations and appreciating life. And despite usually mentioning that “this is a difficult time for all of us”, the implicit message is that it’s not okay to be not okay.

  73. Seifer*

    Omgggg I have two interviews today and I am hyperventilating because I’ve been laid off since April and applying all the friggin’ time and either having one or two calls and then rejection or ghosting or not even getting a bite on my resume and I’m just. Holy hell. I’m so nervous! I really need a job.

    Please send good vibes!!

  74. My Favorite Latte*

    Good news alert! I have accepted a new job and will start in January!

    I’ve written before about my doofus of a manager but to recap: after a reorg earlier this fall, I was fortunate enough to find another internal position. Unfortunately, the position was sold to me as something different and it has not been a good fit for me. My boss doesn’t document anything, is generally unhelpful (“I don’t know” is his go to response), and he has anger management issues.

    He was recently given more folks to manage, even though it’s widely know he is struggling with his current workload. He is currently hiring for a position that he has zero knowledge about.

    I can’t give my official notice until after January 1 due to my contract but man, it feels good to be getting out of here. In the meantime, I’m putting together lots of documentation and resources for whoever takes my job. When I started, I had nothing and I feel like it’s the least I can do to help out this person.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Congrats! With a boss like that, consider giving a copy of the how-to guides to a couple of co-workers or posting them to a central place that the newcomer will have to use. Because a really bad boss might just not pass it along, and that would stink.

  75. BananaPants*

    Hi Y’all, Long time lurker here.

    I’m struggling with how my institution has handled Covid. Multiple staff members have gotten Covid (at work!) and messaging around masks is still insufficient. People refer to working from home as “being shut down” and “taking time off” when in fact, I am working 50+ hour weeks (and worked remotely all through having covid.)

    Still, the President’s daily blog posts are about how reasonable we’re being, how well we’re doing despite it all, and how “people over reacting on both sides” are the real problem. My boss has been on family leave since May and I’ve been running the department (I’m an administrative assistant) all by myself since then with limited support.

    I am worn out. I’m tired. I cry every day. I resent snide comments from people about how nice it must be to work from home. I like my boss and he should be back in January, but I’m not sure staying for him ( and for how things “used to be”) is worth it.

    It was the best job I’d ever had. My boss is so nice, and I like having health insurance that a covers my basic needs. (The benefits area really good by American standards.)

    How do I make the decision to stay or go?

    1. Virtual cheese*

      Start looking and make your decision based on whether there’s something better out there. You don’t have to decide to stay or go until you literally have another offer.

    2. ADHD sucks*

      This is a temporary situation. If you don’t have the patience for it, start the job hunt. It sounds like anti-depressants, a talk with the boss, and maybe telehealth therapy could tide you over if you think you would love your job again when things get back to normal.

      1. Virtual cheese*

        FWIW it took me longer to find antidepressants that worked than it will for things to get back to normal after COVID. Even if they won’t be normal until 2022. It’s not an instant fix.

        It’s unlikely you’ll find a new job by January— late December is usually the slowest for all my jobs — so you could also reevaluate when your boss is back. But I think one thing you’re saying is you aren’t sure things WILL get back to “normal” at your job in a way you’ll be happy with. Is that right?

        1. BananaPants*

          That’s right. I forgot to mention that 25% of the staff has quit or retired in the last year, and the President has said that there will be no new hires to cover their work. My work load has increased dramatically, and morale is super low. I worry things wont ever go back to normal.

          ADHD Sucks and Virtual cheese, (great names) thanks for the perspective.

  76. Cdell*

    I have a question about references for grad school applications long after undergrad. It’s for a creative writing program and I’ve done, let’s say, teapot administration for 16 years. I need 3 recommendation letters. I’ve got an old workshop buddy, an old boss, and the “best” rec I have is a writing professor I’ve kept in decent touch with over the years.
    Problem is, his wife is terminally ill and he’s her main caregiver. He knows that I know, I’ve emailed/messaged him a few times about it, sent well wishes, contributed to the gofundme, etc.
    Should I ask him to do it? Just ask with a strong “I know you’ve got so much going on so please feel free to decline” vibe? Or just not even ask? The problem is that I am really at a loss for that third letter if I don’t use him.
    Thanks for any help or advice anyone might have.

    1. Cdell*

      *ETA: I mention teapot admin to illustrate that my 16 year career has had nothing to do with creative writing so most professional references are not going to be able to speak to my writing skills. The one ex-boss is one I talked about literature with a lot and for whom I did a lot of proofreading/revision of his written work but that isn’t the case with any other old bosses.

      1. academic lab tech*

        If they’ve already written letters for you before it would not be a huge ask, I’m guessing. The work is done it just needs to be polished and sent on. Of course you can always ask with the caveat of “I’m so sorry to ask at this moment, but I completely understand if you can’t”

    2. ADHD sucks*

      A lot of people never bother to write letters they’ve promised to write.

      If his name is on your list of references, and they don’t receive anything from him, they won’t think anything of it. It sounds like he’s a good person to name-drop if nothing else.

  77. Nacho*

    Why do people care so much about their company? We had an hour and a half zoom meeting yesterday, including an hour of overtime, all about our company’s IPO and people who were promoted to positions that will never interact with us like the head of marketing for North America or the engineers who make our products in China. And the whole time people were commenting in our chat as if they were actually paying attention.

    Is it weird that I couldn’t care less about the health of my company or who the CFO is beyond “We’re not going bankrupt”?

    1. ADHD sucks*

      Some people are mission-driven. I’m one of those, though I’m not sure I would apply that sentiment to the satellite view.

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          Some people find business issues like that interesting in general, especially if they have a personal connection (like working for the company).

    2. Q*

      Not at all weird! I would say that it’s quite common. Have you felt this way in all your previous jobs (assuming this isn’t the only organization you’ve ever worked for)?

      For me, personally, caring (or the lack thereof) is somewhat related to how much I like the job. When I hated my job, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why others cared so much. Now that I enjoy my job, I still don’t care all that much about the overall big picture, but I appreciate the people up top more — and probably come do across as appearing to care about it more than others.

      1. Q*

        Do you wish you cared more? If not, why does it bother you that others do? If you wish you cared more, maybe you will like it better someplace where you liked the job itself more? Just a thought.

        1. Nacho*

          It bother s me that others do because I had to stay nearly an hour late yesterday listening to the CEO drone on about stuff I don’t care about. In theory, I could have skipped out on it, but it was impressed on me that it was only “optional” in a very loose sense.

          1. Q*

            Ugh. That sounds miserable. I would be irritated too, especially if it was at physical work (as opposed to WFH), which it sounds like it was.

    3. Maggie*

      I work here, I spend 40 hours a week here, I care about the health and goings on of somewhere I spend 1/3 of my life.

    4. WellRed*

      Well, I care to a point, but I get what you mean. Our new parent company has a big stock price reveal every year and it’s this huge deal. They are also an hour behind us, so I was surprised to find out that several of my team were all gung ho! about logging on to a zoom presentation after hours to watch this crap.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Who was it? Walmart? Everyone got together in the morning and did a company cheer.

      This is so not me and nothing I could ever do. I had a friend who used to talk about someone’s blood being the company color as opposed to normal red blood. “They EVEN bleed blue [or green or whatever color the logo was]”.
      There are people like this. I can’t get there.

      I do want my company to succeed, at least for the time I work there. My form of cheering is more about putting forth my best effort. It’s up the bosses to figure out how to best direct my efforts and focus in favor of company success.

  78. HannahS*

    Health-care workers, what are you doing to keep your sanity? I’m really starting to lose steam. Everyone is doing their best, but it’s tough to do an already-hard job when you can’t do most of the things you’d typically do to recharge, and many of the more difficult parts of the job are worse.

    1. anon24*

      Self care, ebony black humor, and clinging with all I’ve got.

      And seriously, thank god for both virtual reality and my co-workers. My co-workers keep me going at work and then I can come home and throw my VR headset on and leave reality behind for a few hours.

      Hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. This is really taking a toll on us all.

    2. Louise*

      Not a health care worker but thank you for taking care of all of us during the crazy. (And I do always wear a mask when I leave the house … and almost never leave the house and definitely skip group anything so I am trying to make your life easier.

  79. Student Affairs Sally*

    I just stared a new job at a new institution. It’s a big culture shift from what I’m used to (coming from a huge public state school to a very small private school serving a specific population). My new boss is on the committee that makes decisions for the institution around COVID-related things. Yesterday in our one-on-one, she mentioned that the committee will be voting soon on whether or not to require the vaccine (once it’s widely available) for all members of the school community. She expressed pretty strongly that her personal view is that she wants everyone to be vaccinated, but that she doesn’t think the institution can require it, and specifically cited some folks that would have religious reasons for not getting one. After stating her view (as I said, pretty strongly), she then asked me to think about how I feel about the issue and share my thoughts with her at our next one-on-one, because she wants her vote to reflect our whole (3-person) department, not just her. I already know how I feel about the issue – we require mumps, measles, and rubella immunizations, and this should be no different. There should be a process for people to request exemptions for medical or religious reasons, but apart from that we absolutely should require vaccination for everyone if they want to come on campus. I feel pretty strongly about this, but I also feel uncomfortable making this a hill to die on when I’ve only been here 2 weeks. My manager seems overall pretty reasonable and supportive, and I don’t think she would make negative judgments about me for having a different opinion than her, but I also want to be diplomatic and not make huge waves (maybe a small wave would be okay). Any suggestions for scripts to present my case in a diplomatic way?

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like you actually agree with her? The only difference I see is that she doesn’t think you (as an institution) can require it and you think that you can. And I assume it’s not entirely up to either of you. I think you can be pretty clear about what you think.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      One of the great things about the law is that you can often use it to soften your language. For example, ‘I really would feel more comfortable if we did X, but I don’t know the legal ramifications of X or if there’d be an issue with Y.”

      One thing to consider is that the people may have very real fears about a vaccine that was rushed through as this one was and I can imagine that might cause some pushback. So, just be understanding that folks have reasonable reasons to maybe be hesitant and go into the conversation with that in mind.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        The reasonable fears is a good point. People reluctant to get the vaccine aren’t necessarily anti-vaxxers or anti-science. Some of us lived through mandatory Swine Flu vaccines that had negative repercussions. I know someone who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome.

        At my work place there has been discussions about the protocol for those who opt out. They may need to continue to wear a mask until x happens.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      I think you can point out it’s directly comparable to the other vaccines that are required, and should be treated accordingly, with one difference: availability and prioritization timeline plans may affect whether and when people are actually able/eligible to get vaccinated. That has to be taken into account when deciding policy (timeline and details around requiring/being in person, not whether to require).

      Since she specifically cited religious reasons for not getting it, you can ask how religious exemptions are handled in existing policy for the vaccines that are already required. I suspect the COVID vaccine situation is looming so large that the long history of vaccines—and vaccination requirements—isn’t quite front of mind as people plan, and it’s perfectly reasonable to show up as a person who does keep them in mind, and quite reasonably expects that others will too, once reminded.

      To address the fear of the vaccine: my understanding is that these vaccines have gone through the same rigorous scientific process as any other; the difference is that administrative/funding barriers have been removed to accelerate the overall timeline for development and testing.

  80. anonanon*

    A series of recent events at work have made me completely lose faith in my manager, and I’m really struggling to keep my attitude/productivity where it should be while I’m job hunting.

    I’ve worked for this company for three years now, and love my work. However, I am seriously (SERIOUSLY) underpaid, the role is grant-funded meaning I won’t have an opportunity for a raise for another two years, and they are mismanaging their COVID response (it is a senior living facility, and I run their art programs for residents. None of which are happening in person now. I told my boss I should work from home, and she acknowledged everything I do could be done remotely but it wouldn’t be fair to the nurses, who can’t work from home, and if they allowed people to work from home they’d have to put the work in to determine who is able to work from home and who isn’t. Like…what?!?).

    On top of those things, I was recently told I needed to go to the home of (very wealthy) incoming residents to help them sort through their art collection before moving in (not my job), but that I should bring my male coworker with me. My boss signed off on this without consulting me. When I asked my coworker why he would need to go with me, he said it’s because the resident is know for “being grabby.” I told my boss I wasn’t going to do this, and she told me it was my job to. Then she said I could think of a different way of helping the creep with his art, like reviewing photographs, and told me about how residents who touch women inappropriately in her experience have a heart of gold. She later met with the resident while he was visiting campus with his family and reported back to me that he was absolutely delightful, a total gentleman, and there was nothing to be concerned about.

    I, so far, have not been forced to meet with the resident, but I’m upset and disturbed that my boss saw no problem sending me to do work that required a CHAPERONE in order for me to be safe, gaslighted me about it not being a big deal, and telling me helping this person with his art was more important than my comfort or safety. I refuse to tiptoe around or accommodate poor behavior like this from men, and know I need to move on from this position. But the job market is tough right now and I’m not having luck finding something else. Meanwhile, I am finding it harder and harder to go into work and act like nothing is wrong. Any advice for getting through and not wrecking my reference? My boss is very determined to be buddies with me and I am running out of false cheerfulness while she gaslights me and talks about how “seriously” she and the company take COVID safety. I am seriously not paid enough for this nonsense.

    1. ADHD sucks*

      Sometimes being grabby is a symptom of dementia, so I can see that.

      Things are looking up for job hunting, so if you can stay on your boss’s good side, it’s worth trying.

    2. Ashley*

      “how residents who touch women inappropriately in her experience have a heart of gold”
      oh my gosh what is this the 1950s? I would seriously look into anything your state/county is doing that would help argue the point that you should be remote or not mingling with people outside of your household, etc. I have always hated the logic person X can’t work remotely so no one should. As opposed to person X can’t work remotely so let’s get everyone out of this building we possibly can to make it that much safer.
      My sympathies

  81. Littorally*

    Does anyone have advice on how to handle documenting actions across multiple systems? My role involves a lot of this and I’m finding I have trouble staying on top of it.

    For instance, here’s the ideal work flow:
    – Receive paperwork from client associate
    – Verify individuals listed in paperwork against a public records search
    – Save results of public records search to case file
    – Review paperwork and respond to associate with either an acceptance or revisions needed
    – Document review, public records result, and next steps in firm-wide tracking program
    – Upload paperwork copy to firm-wide tracking program
    – Document review, public records result, and case status in team-specific tracking program
    – Check off paperwork received from client associate in team inbox

    I’m finding that a lot of times, one or more of these (redundant! but required) steps are slipping through the cracks for me. The only thing I can think of is creating a checklist to check off each step, but that feels to me like yet one more task added onto an already deeply repetitive process. Our workload is increasing and I’m looking for ways to be more efficient with all this nonsense, not get more bogged down.

    1. Virtual cheese*

      A checklist IS efficient when it saves you from having to keep everything straight inside your head. How much time are you spending tracking down things that went amiss or slipped through the cracks? You either need a checklist per document or some sort of project management software.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Checklists are VITAL. Trust me, it will save you more time than it costs! I use Asana for multi-part tasks like this and it’s great.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Yeah , a board would be great. My company has access to Microsoft Planner, so for a process like this, I would (Microsoft Planner terms in quotes):
        1) Create a board with a “Bucket” for each stage OP describes
        2) For each document, create a “Task” that represents that document
        3) As each document moves on from one stage to the next, I’d move the respective “Task” to the respective “Bucket”.

        That way, at a glance, you can see where each document is in the process.

    3. Always Late to the Party*

      If you go the checklist route I would make each step as shortly written as possible.

      My last job loved checklists and each step was a few sentences about what you were supposed to do, and once new folks were acclimated to the role they stopped reading the full step and started missing things again.

    4. Generic Name*

      If you have Office 365 you could set up a workflow. It has the steps like a checklist, but once you complete one step, it takes you to the next step. I understand that a checklist seems like more work, but you’re skipping stuff, so you need some system to keep track.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      We made a tracking sheet that we keep inside relevant files. I staple it to the inside of the front cover of the file.

      My boss and I check off our individual parts of the process as we complete the process.

      We found we had to do this, no choice. It was just too easy for stuff to get missed and in our work that is very, very bad.

  82. Anon today, lest the somms come after me*

    TL;DR – question about nonprofit laws specially in CA related to who can be on the board, activity of the board, etc., specifically related to Court of Master Sommelier

    Has anyone been following the situation with the Master Sommelier sexual harassment/lack of diversity scandals (yes there are multiple)? It may be because I’m in the wine industry (for now) but it’s been our hot topic du jour all year, but one friend is still all-in and always brings up the nonprofit rules as a reason to not do anything. A spokesperson for the group commented as such in the Dec 3 NYTimes update, below:

    “In the wake of a New York Times report in October, 12 men are currently under investigation for having inappropriate relations with female candidates for the title of master sommelier, which the court confers after a yearslong testing process. The conduct ranged from unwanted touching to quid pro quos to sexual assault. Women quoted in the Times article said that many board members had long been aware of the abuse, or were perpetrators themselves.

    One of the men, Geoff Kruth, resigned from the court; the remaining 11 were suspended, pending the results of outside investigations. Still, they remained eligible to vote in the election. (A spokeswoman for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas said that was required by nonprofit governance laws in California, where the court is incorporated.)”

    So full disclosure – my friend is fully on the MS kool aid despite every bad article chipping away at his faith in the org, and so I feel like I get a lot of hedging and vague explanations because he doesn’t actually want to fully face the problems, a bit of an ostrich head in the sand thing. One thing we’ve discussed a hundred times is that his primary Master Somm mentor (he is not yet a master) has told him that certain things can’t happen because of their nonprofit laws. Things like 1) having someone outside the organization join the board 2) that bit I quoted above about board members still having voting rights 3) basically any change to their rules/how they operate.

    To me it has alway seemed a cop-out to keep saying “we can’t change anything because our nonprofit rules won’t allow us to” but maybe not? Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Weekend Please*

      I think this is less about national laws regarding non-profits and more about their own internal rules. It is definitely possible for them to change those rules if they want to but the process to do so can be long. So the whole “our hands are tied! We can never do anything about this!” thing is definitely BS but it is probably true that they couldn’t immediately remove voting rights.

    2. CTT*

      Seconding Weekend Place. Also, every state’s nonprofit/corporation/llc governance act is a floor, not a ceiling. These acts have a lot of “Unless you specifically state otherwise in your bylaws, you have to do X” (for example, the state rule is that you would need a winning vote of 51% to make a decision, but the bylaws can up it to 75%). I’m not a CA lawyer, but I imagine that the state law requires all board members to retain voting rights at all times until they resign or are removed (which makes sense! Voting rights are the most important aspect of board membership). And unless this association was extremely forward-thinking and included a line in their bylaws like “board members are prohibited from voting upon suspension from their position pending the outcome of a civil or criminal investigation,” their voting rights remain as the state requires it.

    3. Drago Cucina*

      Yep, the bylaws are the place to look, not state law. They can have someone outside the organization join the board if it’s spelled out. But…how is that person selected? Are they to be affiliated with another wine organization such as the American Wine Society or credentialed with WSET?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Get a copy of the bylaws and read them.

        There should be provisions in there for how to amend the bylaws and how to deal with bad behavior from board members. If you don’t see these types of things then those are pretty crappy bylaws.

        Oh wait. They can’t amend the bylaws because they are too busy with being under investigation. Now I get it.

        This stuff about not being able to change bylaws makes me laugh- it’s such a ridiculous statement. They probably have an over arching group that they belong to? I would check with that larger group and see what their advice is on how to maintain /review and update bylaws.

  83. AnotherLibrarian*

    At what point do you decide to pull a job offer from a candidate? I’ve made an offer and the candidate (Bob) has twice asked for more time to think it over which I have given them, but it’s coming up to over a week now and I have another equally strong candidate that I could make an offer to. Bob seems like they’d do a god job, but they’ve asked for things I can’t promise them like a specific work from home schedule in writing. Given the nature of the job, that’s not possible to promise.

    1. Weekend Please*

      Just say no next time he asks for time to think and say you really need an answer. If he tries to negotiate for things you can’t give him, tell him that the offer is final. You don’t need to pull the job offer, just hold him to the timeframe you agreed to and let him decline or accept.

    2. Ashley*