open thread – January 1-2, 2021

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.

{ 620 comments… read them below }

  1. MilitaryAnon*

    Military folks! (Or major career switchers.) What things did you find useful as you made your transition? My husband is a 1302 combat engineer in the Marines, getting out after 10 years (leaving as an O-3 Captain). He’s not looking to do demolitions or construction in the civilian world. Logistics is a better description of his job and I think he’d be great at operations.

    I have a phenomenal WFH job making six figures but it involves dealing with a lot of people and process and red tape which is… exactly what he’s trying to get away from so he’s a little suspect of my advice lol. He’d ideally want to move to a simpler 9-5 job where he can leave work at work and be home when he’s at home.

    What should he be thinking about? He’s eligible for the GI Bill but he’s not sure about going back for his masters (I have an MBA and he is not interested in that level of schoolwork even though I know he’d be great a it).

    Happy to answer any questions or provide more details in the comments :).

    1. Wm*

      If you have kids he could be a stay at home parent for a bit or a part time gig!
      I hope he finds something he enjoys!!

      1. MilitaryAnon*

        This made us both chuckle since we love our son (toddler) but we love him *even more* when someone else is doing the 9-5 heavy lifting. Currently that’s my parents living with us because #pandemic but previously he was in daycare and thriving. Stay at home parenting is by far the hardest job either of us have encountered. No breaks. Actual poop. And screaming. Give me my bureaucracy and lazy colleagues any day!

        1. Wm*

          How old is your son? I have a one yr old and feel the same!! My hubby would make a good sahp though. He still isn’t sleeping through the night and I’m so tired. Please tell me it gets better.

          1. MilitaryAnon*

            1.5 years (18.5 months to be precise).

            The good:
            – He (mostly) sleeps through the night
            – He (usually) naps for 1.5-2.5 hours in the middle of the day
            – He has a bunch of words now and it’s absolutely hilarious
            – He will occasionally play quietly by himself with toys in his room (THE HOLY GRAIL)

            The bad:
            – He is fast and he is curious and that means baby proofing everything.
            – He demands a LOT of attention
            – So many snacks

            The ugly:
            – He pooped in the tub last night. Alllll the bleach

            I’m very very spoiled. My parents live with us right now and it takes a LOT of the weight/sharpness out of the grind. Other people who can restock diapers, wash bottles, handle feeding time, read books, sing songs etc. My husband and I are exponentially more loving and patient parents when we don’t have to deal with the daily burdens. We can focus on spending our time together exploring and having fun instead of fighting over mealtime or redirecting away from unpacking the pantry shelves again. For (quite literally) mental health reasons we both need a lot of time to relax and decompress and that kind of time is an impossible luxury once you have kids. Without help we would be frazzled and irritable at each other and probably kiddo.

            But to answer your original question – 18 months is definitely better than 12. He’s more interesting, he can follow basic instructions, and we haven’t hit the full blown temper tantrum age yet.

            1. OyHiOh*

              To chime in from a few years down the road (oldest is 13, youngest is 8), the best age, by far, has been ages 6 to about 10/11. Once pre teen hormones start kicking in, it’s like having a toddler all over again, only this time, they can say the cruelest things, and are faster than you. But those early elementary years are a joy. They’re learning new stuff every day, they want your attention and interest, and they’ve got strong motor skills and can do stuff with you. I love my tweens dearly (13 and 11) and they’re relatively mellow for developmental stage, but it’s hard to like them on a regular basis.

              1. allathian*

                I hear you. My son’s 11 and I love this age. I’ve loved him at all ages, but he’s just so easy to deal with now. Mellow is the word. We’ll see how long it lasts, but TBH neither I nor my husband were very rebellious teens, so we’ll see.

                1. Wm*

                  Do you just have one son? I’m one and done so interested in how that’s going if that’s your case too!!

                2. allathian*

                  I ran out of nesting, so response to Wm. Yes, we have one son, and I’m almost 48 so it’s going to stay that way. I was 36 when we decided to try, and I was surprised to get pregnant right away. That said, I had some complications during my pregnancy and our son had to spend a couple days in NICU. We got lucky, he’s healthy now, but when he was a baby it was fairly tough on me both mentally and physically. By the time I was willing to give another pregnancy a chance when our son was about 4 and I was past 40, it was too late. I had two first trimester miscarriages and one suspected chemical pregnancy before we decided to stop trying.

              2. sb51*

                I’m 10 years older than my sister, and my mom says the year I was 12 and she was 2 was absolutely the worst, because we were both working through issues of autonomy and independence AND didn’t want mom’s help EVER.

            2. Jean (just Jean)*

              From the it-could-be-worse-department: Pooping in the tub may be gross (especially if bath time was involved, because you can’t get a poopy child clean in an equally poopy bathtub) but it’s all smooth hard surfaces in the tub.

              I guess you have to grab and hold the child with one hand while draining the tub (with another hand) before washing them off under the faucet (hmm, we’re up to three hands or two adults by now)…? Or else extract child from poopy bath water, wrap in about-to-be-poop-bedecked towel, and hold firmly (two hands) while another adult (hands #3 and #4) scrubs and rinses the tub prior to re-filling in order to re-wash the child (who presumably voided all available poop during the initial bathtub befouling)?

              Hmm. The cartoon strip “Zits” just this past week had an episode in which the 15-year-0ld character Jeremy grew three additional arms in order to cope with various demanding tasks. I’m sure I was channeling this idea in my post above.

              1. Sasha*

                It depends a lot on how solid it is, and how quickly you notice. It’s definitely just a one person job though.

                Solids are fine: fish them out, drain water, shower child, clean bath, hot dishwasher cycle on its own for poop scoop.

                Non-solid, or anything you don’t spot until it has dispersed: stand child up, hose child off, park them on bath mat. Drain bath, clean bath, child back in for proper wash down, sterilise any bath toys.

                Unfortunately kids do it a lot before they are toilet trained; the warm water relaxes things. You have to get pretty blasé about poop with kids, it is a daily fact of life.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Warehouse logistics is a pretty booming field, especially for someone who can get into the technical side of things. My husband started as a shift supervisor for a shipping team a couple years ago and has now just transferred into an IT-adjacent role interfacing between the IT folks who develop their system and the boots on the ground who actually need to use it.

      1. MilitaryAnon*

        This would be interesting! He’s great at distilling information and communicating priorities. The one thing I forgot to mention is that he will be in the military reserves so we’d ideally be looking for an employer that is familiar with those requirements and large enough to absorb any deployment absences. Which is probably the federal option below.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also consider looking for any manufacturers/vendors of the systems he uses because that can open options: training, tech support, product testing, quality control, regulatory listings support. Some of those don’t have to be local to where you live even in a normal year.

      2. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        Chewy is actively looking for post-military folks. If you have a warehouse nearby, start with them!

        1. MilitaryAnon*

          This one really perked his ears! We love our dog and also use Chewy. Will look into their locations in New Hampshire!

        2. Delta Delta*

          I don’t know how Chewy operates, or how it is as a place to work, but as a consumer, I LOVE them. They seem incredibly organized and responsive. I was just joking with my husband the other day that Chewy is so on the ball they should be in charge of the vaccine rollout.

          1. Wisco Disco*

            Accurate.

            They are great; when our dog died and we had to cancel our order, they sent flowers and a handwritten condolences card.

          2. Uranus Wars*

            Also a huge Chewy fan due to their responsiveness and constant communication & transparency when shipments do run a little slower. Sometimes things are slightly more $$ but I chose them every time.

          3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Husband’s original supervisor went to Chewy’s logistics division when he left husband’s current employer and by all reports has been quite happy there. :)

          4. Clisby*

            They have GREAT customer service. I ordered something from them and got the notice it had been delivered; it hadn’t. I notified them, and when it didn’t show up in 3 days they just sent me a replacement. Then, it turned out it had been delivered to a similar address (not mine). I told them if they’d send me a mailing label, I’d send #2 back; they said nah, just keep it.

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Ahem. Amusing reading comprehension fail: After writing all about poopy bathtubs (above) I first read the start of your second sentence as “My husband started as a sh*t supervisor…”

        My brain did a double-take and demanded, “Re-read that! Now!!” I’m now trying to silence the inner comedian who is cheerfully commenting that warehouse logistics, and probably many other fields, may in fact contain a fair bit of sh*t especially on bad days. Nothing happening here, folks. I’ll show myself out.

    3. Grits McGee*

      Would he be interested in a federal job? It’s government, so there would still be process and red tape, but (at least in my experience) you can definitely leave work at work, and he would have a leg up due to veterans preference in hiring. Might be worth it to browse USAjobs and see if anything looks interesting. (And see what the qualifications are for jobs to see if it would be a good idea to get an MA.)

      1. MilitaryAnon*

        This is a great reminder! I need to see what’s available in New Hampshire. Since he’ll be in the military reserves we’d need an employer that’s familiar with those requirements and flexible with any potential deployments. Law enforcement comes up a lot but that’s definitely not a low key 9-5 job!

        1. Wandering*

          Lots of employers handle reservist obligations. Where I am the public transit system has some, local university has some, retailers like Home Depot have some, Red Cross has some, local & state government have some, & that’s just off the top of my head.

          1. MilitaryAnon*

            Thank you for the helpful list! Sometimes it feels so overwhelming and it’s handy for us to start writing down the different ideas and iterating from there.

        2. Y’all Come Back Now, Y’all Hear?!*

          If you’re in southern NH, BAE might be a good fit if he’s thinking anything supply chain or logistics. I know they have locations in Nashua and Hudson, amongst other locations, and they supply the military, so I’m sure they have some reservists.

    4. Sandi*

      Agreed with the government as a good option, and also big companies that supply the government. The military-industrial complex exists, so try to take advantage of it.

      1. MilitaryAnon*

        I used to live in DC so can 100% confirm that the military industrial complex exists lol. Unfortunately in order to be closer to family we’re planning to move to New Hampshire and the options seem slimmer that far north.

        1. Cabbagepants*

          The military industrial complex is strong in Massachusetts as well. Depending on where you are in NH, the commute could be very reasonable.

          1. MilitaryAnon*

            I had no idea! We’re planning to be commuting distance to Boston so that’s really doable.

            1. Bobina*

              Hah, you might not have seen this in the Saturday thread you originally posted, but when I saw that NH can be commuting distance from Boston, the first company I thought of was Boston Dynamics :D

              But as others have said, if you expand the search to the Boston area, I think you will have a lot more options than you think. Tons of engineering-y companies there that would likely enjoy someone logistics/operations focused.

          2. sb51*

            Yeah, there’s several bases and a lot of military contractors, and there will definitely be lots of places that understand reservist obligations in Greater Boston. (I don’t have any particular recommendations, though; my job is one he wouldn’t want either. :) ) If he’s commuting down, something near the 495 or 95/128 beltways would be good; the closer you get to actual Boston the slower things get.

            Like, there’s a whole pile of industrial complexes/warehouses/etc along 93 in the Wilmington/Ballardvale area and I’m sure they need logistics people, and that’d be an easy commute.

        2. Sandi*

          The companies might be slimmer in NH, but that likely means there are fewer retired military and maybe more demand for his experience? You only need one option if it’s the right one…

    5. SJ*

      You might look into electric utilities. There are some roles where logistics/operations background would be helpful, and I think it’s an industry that looks favorably on military background (historically, a lot of nuclear operators came out of the navy).

      1. MilitaryAnon*

        Adding! Thank you for the tip! He’s had to handle a lot of power and water logistics on various deployments so this would make a lot of sense for him.

        1. Forty Years in the Hole*

          My hubby and I served 30 and 35 years, respectively, in our country (so, YMMV), starting as Privates and retired as Majors (OF-4). We both ended up with civilian positions in the government defence sector. Per my post earlier this week under “weird interview questions” hubby found himself in R&D, and senior-level analysis/reporting. This after someone pitched him the WD and he went for it. Not directly related to his former military career, but – and this is the key – the combined education, experience, and skills in communication, team work, fine-tuned organizational & prioritization skills, meeting deadlines, etc, are hiring gold. Thats’s what gets the offer!
          After I retired I picked up some temp positions, until I was “shopped” by a former colleague (also retired military): while my background was administrative and logistics, they knew me well enough to to be confident enough to offer me the job (more confidence than I had). Turns out I had a flair for business analysis and senior level performance metrics (see traits above).
          So – it’s not just being a military member with technical “hands on” – it’s all those “soft skills” and various networks that come into play. And translating all that experience from military-speak to the civilian world. Good luck!

          1. Forty Years in the Hole*

            And I forgot to mention consulting, if he’s of entrepreneurial persuasion. Defence-adjacent consulting might suit, as the “language” and atmosphere would be akin to his experience.

    6. Squeakrad*

      I don’t have any advice about what types of jobs to seek, as as a former recruiter in HR manager who currently teaches business communications, I strongly recommend you have someone go over his resume with him who is not in the military. The biggest challenge I have with Ex service people is that their resumes reflect what they did in the military using military jargon and phrasing. That’s generally not helpful in the business world.
      Good luck!

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      There are lots of jobs in supply chain and logistics, which it sounds like he’d be perfect for. Just get on CareerBuilder or Indeed and start searching. Most companies are psyched to hire ex-military folks (unlike when I got out of the service in 1988…..)

    8. Ann*

      Has he taken advantage of any of the classes offered to transitioning service members – specifically the career exploration class? While not perfect, it does allow someone to look at their interests, aptitudes and work life values to research possible careers.

    9. Petey*

      I made a very similar transition two years ago (Army engineer officer to working in supply chain analytics/operations in the civilian world). Supply chain is a great field. And being flexible about industry can be helpful. Plus the work can be very interesting and meaningful while still maintaining work life balance. Good luck!

    10. AnonForThis*

      Sounds similar to my SO, who left the AF as an O-3 EOD engineer. Check out construction management, which values the engineer experience but is more about managing people/systems/processes. It can be challenging to get a job above entry-level, but as long as you’re not in a crazy expensive area, even the entry level pay is ok. And it’s 100% the kind of job that you can put aside at the end of the day. Before covid, it was actually impossible for my SO to wfh at all. The field tends to be project based (a few years on one project, then a few years on another, etc) so the deployments would probably be less disruptive than in some industries. Another great option would be state and local government. Good luck!

  2. The Other Dawn*

    My questions: what item(s) have you found indispensable in your WFH setup? What item did you think would be great, but turned out to be useless or just not what you anticipated? If it helps, I’m in banking–back office, financial crime investigation and risk management (BSA Officer, for any other bankers out there).

    I’m setting up a home office for the first time. I’ve worked from home here and there over the years, but it’s usually a day here, two days there. So, I just worked at a table or at my home desk. My company started us on WFH back in March and I’ve been working from my dining room table this whole time. My husband converted a tiny extra bedroom into an office, as my home desk just isn’t a good place for working, and it’s finally finished. (It took about six months due to several factors, some of which was in our control and some not.) My desk is finally arriving Monday, which means I should be able to be working in the new office sometime mid-week.

    Thinking about what I want in the office, I’m not coming up with much other than my desk, chair, sit/stand desk, and a filing cabinet with a drawer. My department is totally paperless, so the filing cabinet is really for personal paperwork and stuff like that. I use maybe a notebook and that’s it. (And even then, I try to keep with using OneNote.) And thinking about my desk at work, most everything in my cube is just decoration. I have a large filing cabinet that has drawers and overhead compartments, and I basically never went in them other than to open them in when I got there in the morning and to put various crap there during the day (snacks, random papers I might get from various meetings, etc.). Oh, and I bought a Bluetooth speaker. When I was in the office, I hated hearing music and always wanted plain old quiet, though I got used to the standard office noise that comes with being in a cube. Now that I’m home, I find I like some music or something. I’m thinking I want to buy a clock. Yes, my computer shows the time, but I find I prefer looking at a clock for some reason.

    I guess I’m just feeling like there should be more that I need, but maybe I don’t.

      1. Carrie*

        Definitely the second monitor. I thought I didn’t really need one until I got it, now I wouldn’t be without it.

        Maybe also a desk lamp? Less harsh light can be good on dark days.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, I was thinking a desk lamp, even though I’m not working with paper. My husband electrified two candle sconces, which are on the wall and serve as the main light, but I’m thinking there might be times when I just need a little more light. Especially with video calls.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, adequate light is a big deal!

        I have a motorized adjustable height desk and it makes me feel very fancy in addition to making it super easy to change positions.

        1. Otter Dance*

          Light! It isn’t just the total lumens (brightness), it’s the temperature (color) and angles.
          I had to turn off my camera in a couple of calls when I realized I was backlit, and my face was completely in shadow. Uggh!
          And light hitting a monitor screen at the wrong angle can make it very hard to read. Eye strain headaches are largely avoidable when you can arrange your own setup.

        2. Toothless*

          Seconding the adequate light! I have a task light and a sun lamp that faces the wall to diffuse the light, and it makes a huge difference – it doesn’t seem like a lot, but I stay awake and focused so much better with the extra light.

    1. Mr Jingles*

      I bought a little organizer for stuff that turned out to be utterly useless and a daylight-lamp that’s really helpful to get up to speed during the short and mostly dark winter month. I feel much better since I have it. Also I bought a funny little light orb which can be recharged and carried around that comes in very handy when my two tomcats have unplugged me again while playing and I have to crawl under my desk to reconnect my network cables. Also I invested in a scratching post with a comfortable cat-bed on top which really helped getting my boys sleep somewhere else than my laptop while the paper rack I bought to sort through my non-existent papers is utterly useless.

      1. Ann Onny Mous*

        Seconding the pet beds. It lets my cats hang out with me without constantly bugging me for attention when I’m trying to get work done. I still need to get a window perch for them, though.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I do want to put something up there for the cats since I have…a lot. They don’t bug me much downstairs; however, one, Emily, is very needy lately. We had to have her cuddle buddy, Oscar, put down last month due to old age and she’s really, REALLY missing him. She cuddled with him all the time, as did some of the other cats. She was never a lap cat and now she wants to be on my lap all the time when I’m at my home desk and sometimes when I’m working at the table.

        I agree with the uselessness of a paper tray. I almost got one, but then realized I’d never use it at all. I have a couple on my home desk, and they just hold random crap I almost never look at.

        1. Mr Jingles*

          I have a mud pillow I can microwave for my creaky neck. It is wrapped in a fuzzy pillowcase because it’s too hot otherwhise. When I put it down next to me, my cat is on it so fast you’d think he just materialized on it. It is soft and warm like a solid body due to the mud-filling. Maybe something like that can help your Emily? We lost our old tomcat in march 2019 and our old lady during summer 2018. The two boys we have now moved in shortly after our old tom died. They where supposed to keep him company but he passed away without ever meeting them. When the older tomcat was feeling lonely he liked laying under blankets or on my warming pillows and the mud-pillow too just as much as my young tomcat likes to do so now. Especially when his brother doesn’t want to be used as a living matress anymore and hides on the cupboard where my little cuddler doesn’t like to be. It’s hard for a cat to loose their beloved companion. Sometimes a very warm place to sleep helps a little.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            My first thought was getting a stuffed animal for Emily to see if she’ll lay next to it. But a warming pillow sounds like a better idea. I’ll have to it and see if she likes it. I don’t mind her on my lap at all. It was actually nice at first since she wasn’t a lap cat usually, but now it’s getting a bit obnoxious, especially because it takes her a while to settle down.

    2. MilitaryAnon*

      Second the second monitor! Also:
      – Confortable wireless headphones (I have AirPods, my husband has JBL overear headphones for gaming)
      – Post-it notes. I use them a lot since I’m a very visual person and lists keep me organized
      – Your favorite pens! Maybe I’m just getting older but the crisp smooth feel of writing with your favorite pen is great
      – Trusty water bottle. I have a gallon jug that I keep next to me so I can see how much water I’ve had during the day
      – Phone charger
      – Desk lamp (makes the whole space so much cozier than an overhead light)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been WFH for six years and about the extent of my office supplies that I actually need for work is a 11×14 dry erase board for “I need to jot this down for like, three hours and don’t want to lose it if my computer restarts.” That’s literally it. Everything else is gravy. :) I technically have a pad of post-it notes, but anything I need for more that a couple days goes into a note on the computer anyway, and anything I need for less than a week goes on the dry erase board, so after six years I am now on my second pad of post-its.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve thought about a dry erase board. I never used one in the office, but I can see times when it might be useful now.

        As for notes on the computer, I use OneNote, but it’s really just for meetings. I’m trying very hard to get myself to use it more, but it hasn’t happened yet. I find I’m not someone who will use complex organization tools, whether they’re handwritten or electronic, so moving to OneNote was a big step for me even though it’s not complex; I was very married to my paper notebooks.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t actually use OneNote – I’ve poked at it a couple times but it’s more than I need at this point. My computer notes are things like, a list of our hospitals and each one’s facility abbreviation in each system (because of course all three systems have different abbreviation formats :-P ), or a list of my staff with each person’s work ID number in our production system, or diagnosis codes that I use just often enough to want to have them noted but not quite often enough to have them memorized. The kind of thing I COULD easily put on a post-it – so I use the sticky notes feature in Outlook, though I only open them up when I actually need to look at one. Otherwise any major references I use are word or excel documents, mostly on shared drives, so I just open them when I need to.

          My dry erase board is for, like – right now I have a daily widget-fixing task that my boss has asked me to track the number of widgets I have to fix the whizbangers on and time spent. So every day I note how many widgets there were, how many of them I had to fix, and how long it took me, and then after I do the Friday widgets I put all that info in an email to my boss and erase the dry erase board. If I have to follow up on a chart tomorrow, I’ll send myself a delayed email to remind me, but if I have to check on it in a couple hours, it goes on the board, and then I clear it off when I’m done. That kind of thing. I’ve considered making a weekly task template, but the dry erase board does the business for now. :)

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’ve found that if it’s not written on paper in front of me/on my desk, I tend to just forget. OneNote and anything electronic, really, tends to be “out of sight, out of mind” for me. I have to consciously remember to open One Note. I’ll likely stick to paper for to-do lists and things like that, although I’ve starting adding tasks with reminders in Outlook and I haven’t dropped anything yet. (I feel like a total dinosaur when I read some things people come up with for organizational systems here!)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Haha, I feel you. If I can make something electronically yell at me, I do okay at remembering it, so I make great use of my reminders and calendar app – I use Fantastical, which puts everything with a set date/time on it in a single app, whether it’s a task with a due date or a calendar appointment, and then tells me on my watch what the next thing with a time is, and if it’s not on there with a pop-up reminder it’s probably not getting done :P

              But for my regular to-do lists, shopping lists, or the like, I hand-write them, either on index cards or on a note app on my tablet, depending on how long I’m developing the list for. If I’m making the list right now for the trip I’m about to make in five minutes, and it’s going to be less than 20 items, I’ll write it on an index card. If it’s going to be a long list or I’m working on it over the course of a week or two, like a vacation packing list or a grocery list for a big Thanksgiving-style meal (in normal times), I’ll keep it on my tablet because otherwise I’ll forget where I put it or spill something on it or such. :P

        2. Mimmy*

          I’m the same way with paper notebooks, sticky notes and the like; I’m just so used to doing it that way. Plus, I think information is retained better when it’s handwritten (at least for me).

          Where I work, we have weekly meetings; maybe I should try OneNote or something similar in the occasional chance that I need to look up something that was discussed. Does OneNote allow for looking up notes by meeting date or keywords?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            The way mine is set up, there’s a pane on the left with my “notebooks.” A notebook is typically a main subject, like one-on-one meetings with my team members or meetings with another department. There’s a pane next to that when you click on one of those notebooks, and it contains all the “pages” in the notebook. For me, those pages are the meeting notes by date within that specific notebook. I’m not sure if there’s a search function, though. I’m sure there’s lots that can be done with OneNote, but I just haven’t been interested enough to look–it was hard enough getting myself to ditch the paper for meetings! And really the only reason I started was because a former direct report used it for everything and it seemed like I should start doing that, too. Plus many of my peers–other managers–would just bring their Surface to the meeting and use OneNote. No paper or anything else. So I felt like I should “get with the times” so to speak. LOL

        3. Observer*

          I use evernote rather than one note. But I still also use the yellow note applet in Windows 10. It’s VERY useful for those little things you want to jot down for a few minutes or hours.

        4. Quinalla*

          I absolutely love one note now. I have it on my work computer, home computer and phone and use it for keeping track of everything utilizing the GTD system, but like most GTD users I’ve heavily personalized it for my taste.

          However, I wouldn’t be without some paper and pens at my computer for quit jots of info I don’t need to keep – one note is for things I’m at least going to reference one more time – and my notebook and pens for meetings. I don’t like taking notes on a laptop and don’t have one right now anyway.

          2nd monitor is a must for me now too and a nice mouse and keyboard since I do a lot of typing and drafting work on my computer for work. I like having a coaster for my drink and the sit/stand desk is great. I personally like a USB headset vs. wireless ear buds when at my PC, I use wireless ear buds when talking on my phone though for sure.

          I do have a filing cabinet and some other paper trays, but it is strictly for personal use. I have a few work “tools”, but they are job specific. I do use paper for work, but mostly only when going to jobsite, so I have a second empty desk next to mine for when I need to lay out a big piece of paper – think 36″x24″ or bigger.

        5. Not always right*

          I have a magnetic dry erase board that I couldn’t live without. It’s big enough to write stuff down and I can stick papers on it with some rare earth magnets I got at Harbor Freight. They powerful and tiny. I glued the magnets to some pretty buttons I had so it is easier to move them around.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Floor mat unless you’re on an office-height rug. Rolling office chairs can damage hardwood floors, sink badly into soft bedroom rugs/carpet, and quickly wear weird patterns into all floors.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’m trying to decide if I want a throw rug or not. My husband did only a light sanding on the floor, which when we pulled up the cheap carpet, linoleum (yes, in a bedroom!), 1920s hardwood, and plywood patching, was revealed to be the original 1700s wide plank boards! I absolutely LOVE the look of the old wood planks and don’t really want to cover them up, but I also worry about damaging them; I’m torn. Downstairs I have a mat made for hardwood floors, but if I get a throw rug I’ll have to buy one for carpeting.

        1. Not Australian*

          IKEA does a really good floor protector. It’s not huge but cheap enough to have two side-by-side if you need them.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Sounds lovely! For what it’s worth, linoleum was THE hot material at one time. (And much greener than some alternatives — primarily made of sawdust and linseed oil.)
          One of the places I tried out my desk didn’t work because it straddled the edge of the rug. That was awful for rolling.
          In a previous home I had a woven mat type of rug, and that was fine to roll on –but I was centered on it, not rolling over the edge.

        3. random*

          If you have hard floors, replacing the hard plastic wheels with rubber or roller skate style wheels will also be nicer in your floors in place of a mat.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oooooh. I will be looking into that. Suggestions for sources so I don’t lose myself in an Internet deep dive?

          2. Watermelon lip gloss*

            Agree, I’m really not sure how I stood the noise of my chair before the rubber wheels. The rubber wheels and a purple seat cushion have made such a difference.

        4. Lurker*

          You can get a glass floor mat! It’s what I have after I got tired of replacing the plastic ones. Mine is made by Vitrazza, you can google them.

      2. female-type person*

        Agree. In the middle of the pandemic, we got new carpet. I got a tempered glass “mat” because all the plastic ones seemed to get terrible reviews for longevity and for potholes developing with plush carpet. It wasn’t any more expensive than plastic. I reposition it about once a week–it does crawl a bit with use– and I’m good. I certainly did not want to destroy the new carpet by working from home. And it isn’t quite as hideous as plastic.

      3. LCS*

        My husband bought a piece of plywood, some edging material and a single box of laminate plank and made me a 4×8 rectangle that my desk and chair sits on, which would otherwise be on carpet. For a very small investment and a bit of labour it looks and functions a lot better than any of the other mats I’ve used, even the supposedly heavy-duty ones. Nothing shifts, I’ve got decent room to roll my chair around (and even add a second chair to the “mat” area for the kids, if they need home school help, and by spreading the load over a full 4×8 area, the carpet underneath is still in great shape. Highly recommend.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve added a monitor stand, a laptop stand, a mat for the top of my desk (to prevent scratching up my desk), a cat cube (which they just use to get on the desk, so that didn’t work out quite right) and an essential oil diffuser (not for any health benefits, just because I like the smell). My favorite purchase is a small 3-tier utility cart that I bought off Amazon. I have a lot of random things that were cluttering my desk (lotion, pen holder, headphones, etc,), and I moved them all to the cart. I pull it over to my desk in the morning when I start work and put it back in the corner when I shut off at night. It’s been a great way to corral random stuff that was on my desk.

    6. Lizabeth*

      An external hard drive (1 TB minimum) set up to back up your data EVERY NIGHT. Don’t underestimate the loss of files, data etc.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have a file maintenance utility to share with all of you: BeyondCompare by Scooter Software. Color coding lets you see at a glance which files are newer in two locations. Hide matching/older files. Copy over only the newer & orphaned files. Hide text strings (*draft*.*, *.bak, etc.) to simplify your view. Save configurations for file comparisons you do frequently – including multiple tabs at one time. Even view & compare the file contents at different levels. s
        I have no financial interest in the company – I’m just a customer who’s happy enough that I bought it at home *and* got my team using it.

    7. Pucci*

      Something to corral all the cords and cables connecting the equipment. Makes it so much easier to clean (you are now the office cleaning crew!) and your feet won’t get tangled in the cords.

      Second the floor mat, and you will probably want the rug to tamp down noise. Otherwise most things are ones you get because you find you need them in this new environment.

    8. 653-CXK*

      The things I’ve found indispensable…

      – My TV functions as a second monitor with an HDMI cable; unlike at work, where my two monitors are side-to-side, it’s top and bottom.
      – A steno pad for taking quick notes and messages.
      – MS Notepad – if the notes on the steno pad are important and sensitive, I can transfer the notes from the steno pad to MS Notepad.
      – A comfortable manager’s chair.
      – A folding table. My regular table is small; the folding table is expansive and
      – Google Tasks and/or a blank journal for logging tasks.
      – A coffee cup for my hot chocolate.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Argh…hit the return key too fast…

        A folding table. My regular desk is small; the folding table is expansive and I can move around it much easier.

    9. LQ*

      More lighting than I thought I would need. It really seems to help for me. And I’m a not wanting it bright at work person, but more lighting matters a lot and variable. I think part of the more is being able to adjust it based on the time of day/amount of ambient lighting.

      I’m on conference calls 8 hours a day so a really nice headset has been critical for me too. Soft, over-ear, with microphone, bluetooth. It has been entirely worth it for me to splurge on a great one. Work provides decent ones (the nice Logitech’s with the mic on an arm – I really like them and for anyone who only has to spend 5 hours a day on calls they are enough) but I wanted something fairly high end and it was worth it to shell out.

    10. Always Anon*

      I got a green screen, but I’ve been having trouble getting it to fill all of my camera field. turned out to be too tall for my low basement office ceiling, so only way to have it fill the screen is to put it about an inch from the back of my chair. Not much wiggle room.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      I think the most important consideration aside from the room itself is a comfortable desk and chair. If that means you need a standing desk setup or special chair, spend your money there first.

      Maybe a laser printer? Other than that, a second monitor, keyboard and mouse are great to have. I also bought some magazine file holders to organize my work folders and notes, but I guess that depends if you still need to print things.

    12. Bob Howard*

      Not seen it mentioned so far: If your laptop can use a docking station, get one. This is one of the things that distinguishes corporate laptops from consumer models. Being able to get in from a presentation and just sit the thing in the docking station with no other plugs to connect makes a HUGE difference.

      1. Bobina*

        Yes. My current company dont do docking stations and I find it super annoying if I ever want to just sit somewhere different or have to go into the office for whatever reason. So many cables.

        I’d also suggest making sure you have enough plugs for everything (extension cord), and also if you have a separate work phone as well, being able to charge it close to your desk setup is really handy.

    13. Observer*

      The big ones for me are the right lighting, 2 monitors and a good scanner.

      Also think about a phone that’s connected to your employer’s phone system.

    14. Hobbette*

      A footrest, if you don’t already have one (you can find several good quality foam ones on Amazon).

      1. Forty Years in the Hole*

        Seconded – good for easing up strain on knees and lower back.
        And the right lighting is essential. I found a really cool light by Ottlite: flex-neck, three settings for lumens and multiple light levels, and a built in fan!

    15. Girasol*

      The tiny corner under the stair that, when I was in it, I was officially “at work,” both in my own mind and to my family. When I stepped out of it, I had returned home and was not at work anymore. (I know, not everyone compartmentalizes work life balance, but I do.) I made a lucky yard sale find of a very small drafting table that fit there, no frills but all I needed for a computer, phone, and coffee cup, and at exactly the right ergonomic height for me. Because it was in the basement, it was chilly, and a sock full of rice heated in the microwave and laid on my feet was also handy.

    16. TextHead*

      I agree with everyone that mentioned a second monitor (I actually have 3). I also have a Desk Cycle 2, which I really like – allows to get some movement in while sitting all day!

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I may have undiagnosed ADD, but more than one monitor is just too distracting for me. I can barely use a split screen. I know accounting types are fond of multiple monitors, including my kid, but it’s a hard no from me.

        I did find an auxiliary large monitor, keyboard, and mouse for the work issued laptop to be essential. I use a small area rug under my chair to protect the hard wood floor. I find a wrist rest helpful also.

    17. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I just got my home office setup. Desk, proper office chair, 2nd monitor. I need curtains for the room, those are en route.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I do need something to cover the window and just haven’t looked yet. Since it’s not a bedroom and it’s the top floor, I’ll probably get a valance. Or I might continue my theme of a sheer panel that’s swept to one side behind a medallion tieback and a colonial-type patterned curtain panel over it, also swept to the side.

    18. Generic Name*

      My work from home setup is pretty ideal. I have a nice large desk my husband made me, a second monitor, a laptop stand, a wireless mouse and keyboard, and a under desk keyboard mount. Most of the items I paid for myself, but I borrowed the keyboard mount and laptop stand from work. Good keyboard mounts are like $300!!

      I’d also make sure that the lighting in your office isn’t behind your head, as it makes the lighting weird for video calls.

    19. tangerineRose*

      I found instrumental jazz to be great to play while I’m working.

      Since you’re in a tiny room, you might find it useful to add a couple of mirrors. That sounds odd, but in a small room, there’s not much space to stretch your eyes. If you position the mirrors so that when you glance at one mirror (I like to have it near where I’m working so I don’t have to think about it), the mirror reflects the other mirror, which reflects something else, that makes it easier to give your eyes a break.

    20. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for all the suggestions so far! It has given me a few ideas.

      Lots of people mentioned multiple monitors, which I have. I have a docking station (company provided). I invested in a good office chair back when this all first started and I have a foot rest. My company would have paid for these things, but knowing I eventually want to move on to another company at some point, I want to own these items so I have them going forward. I also don’t want to have to worry about the cats destroying company-owned property.

    21. GovCon CPA*

      Laptop stand and a dual monitor stand both clamp onto the desk. A good desk pad and a really good ergonomic chair and extra cushion. I also have a foot rest thing. I find I spend much more time sitting at my desk at home than I do in my office since there’s no one to go talk to since all communication is online.

    22. allathian*

      Having a dedicated space to work in is definitely a plus. I have my own computer as well as my work computer and they and share the same monitor, which is my own. I would have been able to bring a monitor, or even two, from my office, but I didn’t want the hassle of transporting them. At the office I use two 23 in monitors side by side. At home I use my laptop screen for email and Skype, and a 32 in 4K monitor for everything else.

      I have a full-spectrum light, because I’m at 60 N, there’s currently no snow, and there’s less than 6 hours between sunrise and sunset. I find it helps at least a bit in combating my winter blues. I haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, but given the choice, I’d hibernate from mid-October to mid-February. I also keep it switched on when I have one of my rare video meetings, if I didn’t, my face would be a dark, indistinct, backlit blob. If you have a lot of video meetings, having a good light is pretty essential.

    23. Cedrus Libani*

      I put rollerblade style wheels on my desk chair – these are large enough to roll smoothly over household carpet, and were easily worth the $30.

      I also bought a wireless headset with built-in mic; apparently my laptop’s microphone is terrible, and meetings go better when the other people can hear you.

    24. Anonymous Hippo*

      The key for me is large monitors. I have 2 32″ that I use both at home, and in the office. A separate desk, a good chair, and a notepad, and that’s all I need. I’ve actually got a lot of doodads in the office (stuffed animals, fidget cubes, snacks etc) but don’t need them at home since literally everything I own is here lol.

    25. Not Your Sweetheart*

      The biggest thing for me was a comfortable, and adjustable, chair. A few items to encourage movement (stress ball, yoga ball, small hand weights, even an app to remind me to stretch/walk) were also important. If I sit too long, I start loosing concentration and the work takes longer than if I had just taken a 5 min. break. I agree with everyone who mentioned a desk or wall lamp. Source lighting makes a huge difference. I know you said you were paperless, but if you take any notes, I found a clipboard useful. It allowed me to take notes without leaning over my desk or maneuvering around my laptop.

  3. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    Happy New Year! Those who work with clients, this question is for you. We have a client who has a habit of making last minute requests that cause people to work over the evening- she waits until the end of the day (or even emails in the evening) to ask for something she needs first thing in the morning. Yesterday, she made a request in the afternoon (we are closed today for New Year’s). When we politely let her know we would gladly provide what she asked on Monday, she specifically asked if we could do what she needed over the holiday weekend and threatened to use a competitor if we didn’t. New Year’s weekend might not be important to her but a lot of people I work with are taking a much needed break and this person is trying to ruin someone’s holiday weekend. What kind of person does this? Sure, we’re all grateful to have a job and all that, but does that give people like this the right to be obnoxious like that? How have you stood up to clients like this?

      1. Joan Rivers*

        And, do you even have “business hours”? If it’s an “emergency” why isn’t she CALLING? An email can go unread or get lost.

        Why no call? — probably because she can get away w/it by email but would be more afraid to ask in person.

        Reply to her in the format she uses, w/firmness and authority.

    1. L*

      This might be rough but do you need her business? Do you charge a fee for last minute jobs? Tell her the price for a rush job and the price for a reasonable job.

        1. tangerineRose*

          True, and if that happens, make sure the person who gets stuck working gets paid more or gets an extra day off, etc.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I love that idea, but this person would balk at the higher costs. She is one of those. :)

        1. Sandi*

          I think that’s the whole point. Have her balk and decide what she wants to do. If you can sort out an official fee, “Requests made after noon that are expected to be complete before noon the next day will be subject to a 50% surcharge to cover additional costs”, and apply it to everyone, then she will hopefully learn to get her requests in on time.

        2. Lizy*

          “Pay up or shut up”. Ok maybe not those exact words but… yeah.

          I work for a propane supplier. Inevitably, people call last minute almost out or out. I tell them that IF (and that’s a big if, depending on how busy the trucks are) we can get you today – for an extra $75. They either understand and say “do what you can thanks so much” or balk. Those that balk have to wait. Your lack of planning doesn’t mean it’s my emergency.

        3. Joan Rivers*

          Whoever is her “contact” maybe can be “helpful” —
          IF it’s her time management problem.
          Maybe talk about her deadlines, not just yours. If you can do that casually, as if you’re on the same team, maybe you can prompt her ahead of her deadline.
          If you know what she’s going to need and when, you might be indispensable but on your terms. Or let her go elsewhere.

        4. Grapey*

          If “I’ll use a competitor” makes YOU balk then it might be a good business practice in the future to outline fees upfront to avoid rushed/inconsiderate requests.

          Depending on your employees’ compensation, they very well might have a “is that a threat or a promise” attitude when told someone might go to a competitor.

      2. TexasRose*

        …and remember that her base rate should have a hefty PITA tax included, as well as
        (her) base rates for
        – standard work
        – after hours (non-holiday) work
        – holiday work

    2. MilitaryAnon*

      THESE PEOPLE

      The calculus here is really variable. I have some clients where I am expected to work over holidays/during vacation. Either because they bring in a huge amount of money or because they’re connected to someone super high up in my org. Over time, I have gotten very good at testing the boundaries to sense when something is actually urgent vs. cosmetically urgent. Actually urgent can often be handled with a phone call explaining a delay. Cosmetically urgent? Hmmmmm I’m just going to let that one sit until I get reminded or it drops (it often drops). Alternatively, I may respond quickly but with a vaguely unhelpful but still plausible answer.

      Unless this women brings in a LOT of money, you should feel free to keep pushing back. My company needs 7-10 days to provide a proposal for our services. If you need something sooner, you’re going to get a ballpark which isn’t going to have nearly as many details. Sometimes you can get people to back off by clearly outlining trade offs.

      Unreasonable people… I might be willing to let her go to a competitor. There is a real value in protecting your team from these kinds of clients because they will burn out your best and brightest before getting their second cup of coffee for the day.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is she your only client? If her requests go unfulfilled, will someone be seriously injured?

      If the answers to these questions are both “no,” then call her bluff. She is a client and therefore important, but you also need to retain staff who don’t get resentful and feel respected by your management.

      And when it comes time to renew your agreement with her, put in parameters about fulfillment, such as, “All requests must be received by 3pm” and “Please allow up to 24 hours for completion” or whatever.

    4. Nela*

      Rush fees. Really. That’s the only way I’d agree to work over the weekend (it’s like overtime pay for me). When I have clients that request unreasonable turnaround, I reset their expectations by explaining that I don’t do such short turnarounds, and unless they’re willing to pay extra for each rush job, they need to give me more lead time. Usually for smaller quick jobs these clients will switch to a different provider and I’m OK with that because those are the jobs I dislike anyway and the profit margin on them is pitiful.

      A PITA client like this is worth losing. Clients don’t get to blackmail you like that! That’s super disrespectful to you and your team.

      1. Sandi*

        People worry about losing bad clients and employees to competitors, but remember that they will drain the competitor as much as they are draining you.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Exactly. They’re not going to become magically wonderful clients to your competitors, they’re going to continue to make the same demands and drain or alienate those competitors too. And it’s an empty threat anyway if your competitors charge more (base or rush fees), so consider those higher fees the new market rates for clients like these.

        2. Nela*

          I feel bad for any colleague that ends up with a bad client! I’d much rather have us all working with amazing clients.

    5. RagingADHD*

      There is no point saying “no” unless you mean it.

      My client relationships are based on honesty & good communication. If I commit to a deadline, it’s real. If I say “no, I’m not available,” it’s real.

      Every viable business that supports rush/overtime work charges extra fees for it. If you will say yes for a price, then set that price as something that benefits you and your team. If you just say “no” and then give in when someone shits on you, then you are privileging shitty clients and you will wind up with more and more of them.

      They will recommend you to their shitty friends, specifically because you are so good at taking their shit. Eventually, your team will be spending the majority of your time taking shit, and you’ll hate your jobs.

      If you intend to allow/require holiday work, then be proactive about it. Work out an incentive system that your team believes is fair & appropriate. Then when a client makes a demand like this, tell them it costs $X to do it over the weekend, or normal price if they wait till Monday.

      If there is no way to incentivise the work or charge more, and you aren’t contractually obligated to do it, then let them walk.

      Unless the work is totally commodified and anyone can do it without any client history or relationship, they will have a very hard time finding anyone else who can do the work at the same level with no notice. They probably know that, and when you say “no” and mean it, they will probably wait till Monday, or come back with a better appreciation of what you do.

      Or they won’t, and good riddance.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love this.

        OP, if all your clients behaved this way what would happen to your business? If even half your clients behaved this way what would that look like?

        My boss has a method that is a Thing of Beauty: “Well, of course, we accommodated your first request, because, eh, stuff happens. And we accommodated your second request because sometimes people just have a run of bad luck and miss a couple details. This request here, is the last request we can accommodate. After this if there are any further requests then X will need to happen. After this we will not be able to accommodate any requests that are x time before y date.” Or you could say late requests will have y charge or whatever you want to do.

        Your client is holding you hostage with their threats of going elsewhere. This is a client that will eventually drain your bank account dry and push your best employees out the door. Your business will be suffering and your client will be going along just fine.

        This client is an indecisive, manipulative person. Ethical business people KNOW when they have made a task harder and they offer something, typically an apology and extra compensation because they realize it is their own fault that they did not think of the additional tasks sooner.

    6. Observer*

      It sounds like it’s time to face the possibility of firing this client.

      It would be bad enough if you though she is just being scattered. But it sounds like this is deliberate. And it’s not something you should subject your staff to. Either that, or charge her extra – and pay your staff extra.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      – Just because they’re a client, doesn’t mean you always have to say “yes” to them. “Our office is closed until Monday. We aren’t available for work until then.” Period, end of. (She’s threatening to go to your competitor, but for all you know, they’re closed for the holiday, too.)

      – Extra charge for work with short deadlines. If that’s not in your current contract with them, then announce that with the new year you’re re-evaluating all your clients’ contracts, and this is a new term for all clients.

      – Raise your base rate with this particular client.

      – Fire the client. When I do this, I wrap up whatever matter I’m working on, and the next time they try to hire me, I tell them that I do not have the time to give their matter the attention it needs, and I refer the case out.

    8. Frankie Bergstein*

      This is unkind and inconsiderate behavior! I’m the client in many cases, and if it were up to me, the teams that submit deliverables to me would *never* work nights or weekends — not just b/c I want them to be able to be fully present for their lives outside of work (vacation, pets, home, family, hobbies), but that if folks are constantly working into the wee hours, the work is going to have more errors.

      One consultant tells me no by reminding me that things aren’t in the contract — I think that’s effective, and I don’t really have a way of pushing back! (I had asked for notes from a meeting once).

    9. Xenia*

      Others have said this but I’ll add on my own agreement: call her bluff. You’ve said she doesn’t pay extra, she’s consistently doing this, and she’s a drain on your people. I would give her three options: wait, pay a rush fee (and make it a good sized fee), or go somewhere else. You’re putting yourself at the risk of losing good workers and good clients in favor of a bad one. Cut yourself free.

    10. Joan Rivers*

      You say she emails at the end of the workday or in the evening. So I’d be “done w/work” and not reply. Then Monday you can email w/a firm reply, if she hasn’t emailed you first.

      Don’t you have “business hours”? Emailing that night is especially too much.

      The fact she uses email means she’s not bold enough to CALL, I assume. So you can play the email game. If it takes her all day to come up with the request, it takes you just as long to get back to her. Slow it all down. Maybe she’s spoiled that you reply so fast.

      I’m suggesting trying to Re-Train her rather than go right to Firing her. Let her know you can’t jump when she asks and she will have to think about her other options. Your competitors won’t necessarily do it either. It would be nice to find out what competition DOES do, if you can find out.

      You can always Fire Her if you have to.

    11. Generic Name*

      I had a client that at the end of our relationship with them basically wanted 24/7 on-call availability. They are a facility with 24/7 operations and are staffed accordingly. We are a consulting business with more or less standard business hours. I discussed it with one of our principals and he said that it was okay to tell them that we didn’t have that capacity and it was okay if we lost them as a client as a result. Honestly, it was a huge relief to not have to worry about being called out of the blue to find someone to go take a sample within the hour. The last straw was when I called 5 people to see if they could mobilize and everybody said no, so I had to do the sampling myself and leave a sick child (middle school aged) at home for a few hours. He was fine and was happy to play video games from the couch, but it was super shitty.

      You are allowed to say no to clients (you could phrase it as “yes, but we’ll get it to you on Reasonable Date”), but if you are unsure, maybe loop in your boss about it. Maybe ask if you could implement a “rush turnaround” fee. Often, clients who want things in a rush suddenly don’t need it so fast when they have to pay extra.

    12. Joan Rivers*

      You say you’re closed but then you’re reading her email.

      She emails at night and you reply?

      Have business hours. Maybe email clients in advance w/special hours for holidays, mentioning your normal hours, or mention it in passing.

      As Passive/Aggressive as it is to email you after business hours or the end of the day —
      it’s not a big enough emergency to CALL, is it? —
      being P/A back by not responding till the next business day is not all that P / A.
      And slowing down replying is not all that P / A.
      You’re just busy. Or closed.
      If she threatens to go to competitors I’d say it’s standard in the field that when you’re closed, you’re closed, and unless it’s a very big emergency, no one can accommodate that kind of response — w/o very high charges. “What would you be willing to pay?” would put the ball in her court again. And it’s just a question, for info. But it would make her think.

  4. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

    I work in radio as an on-air morning show personality in very small market, local radio and I am being low-key sexually harassed by one of our loyal listeners. I think it’s harassment, I don’t like it.

    In small market, it’s very common for your listeners to know you from events (and the grocery store), I’m also a big community volunteer and I’m just kind of a public figure. Because of this, I feel obligated to answer the people that send me messages and what not. It feels like they are part of me keeping my paycheck you know. Our town has less than 20,000 people.

    Anyway, I’m happily married and have a little boy, which is very well known, and I love the outdoors. It’s no secret I solo camp, backpack and hike. It’s not my husband’s thing, and I love it. I don’t post pics while I’m out camping, but I do when I get home (I host an outdoors show too, so that’s part of the deal and my brand). But I have this listener that keeps asking me to go fishing with him(we’re rural, y’all). I told him politely I’m not much of an angler, and would have to pass. But he messages me through my public figure FB page every morning now. The comments go something like this:

    6:38 am:
    Hey Hun, how r u this morning?
    Bet you’d like to be in a tent.
    You’d freeze.

    I don’t answer.

    7:14 a.m.
    ???????

    Me: I’m good. Have a great day.

    Him: You 2 Hun, we need to go fish.

    So, I really was trying to blow this off. I’m 40, he’s in his 60s and I’m sure lonely. It’s very normal for our listeners to feel like they are BFF’s with us. But this has now been happening for three months. Almost daily. Including weekends and holidays. It’s the first thing I wake up to now. It makes me anxious.

    Last week, I had been camping, and after I got home and I posted pictures he messaged again and said I should have had a steak on the fire and he’d cook me one next time. I flat out said “I don’t think my husband would like that plan. I’m going to have to pass on any outings or fishing or making me a steak. That would not be okay.”

    And that MF’er pulled this:

    What? I mean no offense!
    I assumed U husband was with you.
    Now I’m confused!

    So he deflected and blamed me. I honestly thought that might be the end of it, but he’s messaged me everyday for the past two weeks. My co-host knows him well and has offered to tell him to knock it off. At first I said no, because again, this guy listens to us every day and I feel a sense of obligation to be kind, but I feel like this is off. I’m going to ask my co-worker to tell him to knock it off.

    Is my gut right, or am I overreacting? The behavior is so minor, I’m not sure If I’m being overly sensitive or if this is NOT OKAY?

      1. Grits McGee*

        Ditto. I’m just a disembodied opinion of the internet, but this is not ok. And the whole “Ooooh, so your husband isn’t with you out alone in the woods……” creeps me the F out. Get your cohost to tell him to stop (and to not contact you again), and then maybe think about taking more serious steps if fisherman persists.

      2. nep*

        Same. Big time creeped out and triggered just reading that.
        Unacceptable.
        Sorry you’re having to face this, OP. You are NOT being overly sensitive.

    1. MilitaryAnon*

      Not okay at all! Captain Awkward (a national treasure) has an excellent recent post on how to deal with these kinds of “ambiguous” creeps (including scripts!):
      https://captainawkward.com/2020/12/29/1305-please-help-me-close-up-the-proverbial-woodwork/

      But you can also have your co-host answer all his stuff now. You don’t have to confront him because sometimes it’s just not safe to engage with these types of dudes. Removing your attention but still having the “station” reply via your co-host is a possible workaround.

    2. Lizabeth*

      It’s not okay and he’s taking advantage of your sense of kindness. Stop answering him because it rewards him and encourages him to keep doing it. Do whatever you need to on FB settings so you don’t see his posts. Take up your co-host offer to talk to him.

    3. Still*

      You’re not overreacting at all. That sounds creepy, boundary-pushing and exhausting.

      It seems that you feel obligated to interact with him because your audience is so small, but really, what would happen if you blocked him or just ignored him? Will it be any more uncomfortable than you already are?

      Just cause you’re somewhat of a public figure doesn’t mean you owe personal interactions to every one of your listeners. On the contrary, I’d expect any kind of radio personality to have very limited bandwidth for stuff like this. It sounds like you’re the only one putting this pressure on yourself (rather than, say, if your boss demanded that you reply to every message you receive).

      He already knows he’s making you uncomfortable and is choosing to ignore it every day. I vote block him.

      1. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

        You are right on every point! Thank you. I haven’t taken this to my boss, but he would absolutely tell me to block the guy. I have certainly blocked people before, but it’s always been for really blatant “WTF” things.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This has crossed the line into blatant WTF as far as I’m concerned – bears are nothing compared to what a human can do. If nothing else his behaviors now will intrude while you’re doing something that’s supposed to relax & recharge you.

      2. Mary Connell*

        Agreed. It’s out of the ordinary for public figures to interact with their audiences on social media. Some of them do, but again, out of the ordinary. Perhaps OP can look at the management of social media for some well-known public figures to get a better sense of what the public expects.

        1. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

          I’ve in the business two decades, and have worked in larger markets before moving to small market. I can without a doubt tell you there is an incredible difference in the expectations of a radio personality in small market vs. medium/large. I am absolutely expected to interact with the public/fans on a regular basis as part of my job, but I am realizing I am not expected to allow this behavior.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, while I can see that you need to interact with your audience, what you are describing is a whole different kettle of fish. Much more like requiring you to wear more makeup, tighter or more revealing clothes or flirt in person with audience members. You would not accept that you have an “obligation” to any of those and I don’t see a substantial difference between those things and letting this guy hit on you over FB.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            There’s a difference between interacting with them and setting up plans for activities together.

            I am not one to “talk” with public personalities online. However, if I did, there is NO way I would expect them to do ANYthing with me. If I got back “thanks for your comments” I’d be satisfied. This guy wants to fish, cook steak, and whatever else. I don’t even want to know where his brain is at.

            Think about it this way: If one person does not match up with what most people are doing and it’s making us uncomfortable, then that is enough to take a minute to figure out what we need to do differently. I use the questions, “What are most other people doing here? How does this one person differ from the rest?”

            I have a job where the likelihood of getting screamed at is strong, by the time people get to me they are TENSE. Yet, somehow people keep themselves pulled together and we can have a decent and logical conversation. So one day, I got a voice mail from a screaming person. I decided not to call them back. I played the message for my boss. My boss said, “They can chill out and call back with a civil tongue in their head.” This person’s behavior was by far, way different from the behaviors of other people who were also stressed out and worried but somehow managed not to yell.

            So in your case here, this guy has distinguished himself by daily points of contact and by picking specific activities to do together.
            I like to let these types of folks help me to set rules of thumb that I will use over and over. I now have a rule of thumb that I do not return calls from screamers. In your case you could extract several rules of thumb such as:

            You only answer one message per day from an individual.
            OR
            If someone seems too friendly you let your cohort talk to them and you do the same for your cohort.
            OR
            You can develop a one line policy statement when someone invites you to do something with them. “I am unable to accept invites from individuals. Thanks for understanding.”

            I hope you chuckle a little. I was speaking to one person, who started to raise his voice. He was being difficult right along and the raised voice was the beginning of the end of the conversation. So I said, “Sir, when you raise your voice my phone distorts and I can’t understand you….[pause] I still can’t understand what you are saying because my phone is distorting and I have to hang up now.” So you know what happened next: This became my rule of thumb for conversations where the person starts out okay but then accelerates while talking with me.

          3. Mary Connell*

            Are you saying you’d have professional consequences if people knew you’d blocked a predator on social media or saw you not engaging with a creepy member of the public?

            1. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????**

              Not in the slightest. You said it was out of the ordinary fit a public figure to interact with their audience through social media, I’m saying it’s not unusual for a public figure in radio to interact regularly with fans that way. The radio industry is considered to be the most intimate of entertainment mediums, and radio personalities in all sized markets are required to interact with their fans far more than other media industries (a huge portion of our salary comes from public event appearances, Facebook Lives, etc.), specifically in small market. In no way, shape or form am I saying I’d have professional consequences for not interacting with or blocking a creepy member of the public. Just the opposite, I’ve started clearly my boss will have my back on this and is being looped in.

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          I live in a small, rural area and OP is right. Expectations are different. Maybe they could set up a public profile on social media but it is expected they engage with the people.

    4. Reba*

      You are right, you are recognizing the pattern (plausible deniability — “i didn’t mean that, i though your husband was there!” etc.). I don’t think it’s malicious but it is definitely meant to push your boundaries and to have a closer connection than you actually have/want.

      I think it’s good to ask your coworker to have a word, keeping it in the spirit of community and among friends. However, you should make a plan for what you will do if he does not knock it off, and maybe even escalates.

      If you haven’t already it may interest you to do some reading about parasocial relationships and the internet (there was a NYT Magazine feature last year I believe) — a growing sense that we “know” the public figures we follow and that we can have or are even entitled to access to them all the time.

      1. Sandi*

        This is it exactly. These harassers are experienced, and use wording for which there is plausible deniability. Guaranteed he has been doing this for 40+ years, and knows exactly what he’s doing. He is poking at your boundaries, in the hope that eventually he will find a hole and get closer.

        Set the boundary, in whichever way is best for you (coworker)

      2. Xenia*

        Captain Awkward has a phrase for this: Schrodinger’s creeper. If you’re creeped out by it, they hide between the shield of plausible deniability—‘oh, I thought your husband was with you!’. If you’re not creeped out, they will push the boundaries further. Block this dude, take your cohost up on his offer, and strongly consider reading Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear”.

    5. Nela*

      Leave him on unread, and if you think you can manage it, block him.
      Even if he didn’t creep you out, that’s way too many messages for someone you don’t know. If you want to read or watch videos on this phenomenon, look up parasocial relationships.

    6. Sandi*

      I posted but it disappeared, so apologies if this becomes a double comment.

      In my experience, people who make these comments know exactly what they are doing, and are hoping to build a hole in your boundaries one day so that they can get closer to you.

      I guarantee he has been doing this for 40+ years, and he very likely does it with many other women in your community.

      Set your boundaries without regret or guilt!

    7. MilitaryAnon*

      I think my original response is in moderation but go check out Captain Awkward’s blog. Her latest post covers exactly why this feels so creepy and off. Quoting her here:

      “ Now, imagine you go for more directness and get the “Whoa, hold up! I was just joking/I wasn’t hitting on you/I realize you’re ‘taken’ now, thanks for rubbing it in/It was all in good fun/Don’t flatter yourself!” defensive response, with a side of more boundary-testing.

      Future You: “Phew, that’s a relief! Thanks for clearing everything up and keeping it G-rated from now on.”

      Take them at their word, be sincere and specific about what you want from now on. Removing plausible deniability and giving them a constructive way forward means they have to make a concerted, deliberate effort to continue annoying you, which is the same thing as self-identifying as a person you do not have to coddle or tolerate in your precious free time anymore.”

      Sample scripts you could use:
      “Oh, I was pretty sure you were joking, but it was really starting to bother me. You wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff we have to read on these pages. Thanks for being a great listener!”
      “I usually hate being wrong, but this time I’m so glad to know I was misreading your intentions! If you ever have questions about the show, myself or cohost are all ears.”

      Emphasizing your cohost and the show as subject changes at all times can add some distance between you. And it makes it much harder and more obvious when he has to forcibly inject his creepiness back in.

      Summary: it’s not you. Gaslighting sucks. Good luck!!

      1. Wisco Disco*

        I was going to suggest this; Captain Awkward is always good but this recent post was excellent. I had my teens read it and we discussed. Her scripts were spot-on.

        1. MilitaryAnon*

          She’s the best! And her scripts are phrased in a way that actual humans can use them. Many advice columns give ok advice but are conveniently vague on the hard part of how to actually do it. Scripts for the tough moments can really help.

      2. Lives in a Shoe*

        This this this. This is a classic and very typical behavior and Captain awkward handles it beautifully.

    8. BRR*

      block him. He can enjoy the show without messaging you. He 100% knows what he’s doing. block him.

    9. Jay*

      Totally not ok. Definitely creepy, inappropriate, and harassing, complete with deflecting and no doubt gaslighting if you or your cohost actually called him on it. Block this dude. Don’t tell him; you owe him nothing. Just block him on every platform where he could possibly reach you, because when you stop responding he will likely step up his activity in an extinction burst. If it were me in a small community like that I would tell my boss so that if he hears something about you being “mean” to a listener, he has the context. I’m not suggesting you ask your boss for permission to block this dude. From your comment below, it sounds like he’ll have your back.

      Your career requires you to be “relatable,” which I think amplifies the sense many women have that it’s our obligation to be nice even when we’re uncomfortable. In the words of the awesome Captain Awkward, it’s time to hand the awkward back to him. He’s not being nice. There’s no reason for you to be nice. Block him.

    10. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

      Y’all are amazing. I have been second guessing myself for days. I have dealt with my share of creeps, but they were always so much more blunt! I’m taking the steps. I’m actually emailing my boss now (I’m working today) so I have a paper trail. We don’t have HR, but I don’t doubt he’ll have my back.

      1. Lizy*

        Good! I’m glad your boss is the kind to have your back. I cringed just reading your story… I’m not your “hun” and ew.

      2. Clisby*

        Great! I’ve lived in small towns, so I know what you mean about interaction with your listeners, but what he’s saying isn’t minor. Minor would be posting more than most people, but with questions like: “What’s your favorite recipe to cook over a campfire?” Or “Did you see any morels? We listeners *need* to know.”

    11. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

      I also took some advice from the Captain Awkward info and sent this reply to today’s message:

      “Hey XXX! Happy New Year. I appreciate you listening to XXXX and being a friend, but I am uncomfortable with all of the early morning messages I’m getting from you. I don’t communicate with men over messenger often. Thanks for understanding.”

      We’ll see what happens.

      1. Maybe Sexually Harassed Radio Personality????*

        And this is what he said(copied and pasted, so spelling errors aren’t mine):

        “Ok sorry no disrespect ment just see u on when i aim starting my day off an speaking to u as i do a lot of people on my friends list will stop did not know it made u uncomfortable have a good 1”

        And he’s blocked.

        1. Down with Creepers*

          He may show up again after creating a new account (Captain Awkward’s extinction burst). You can block any new accounts that sound like him. It might be like whack-a-mole. I hope not. But it might be.

        2. Lena Clare*

          Oh I have JUST read this after posting my reply below! – good on you and glad he is blocked.

      2. Batgirl*

        That’s an excellent script. You won’t need it for this guy (because he accepted the no) but I would read Gavin Dr Beckers gift of fear. I can’t remember if it’s the original or the workplace specific one had the most helpful tips, but every woman who is a sitting duck on the internet should probably read both.

    12. Batgirl*

      I had a similar problem with an old skeeve as a local journalist. I was print, not radio so I was not a ‘personality’ but it was a specific part of my job to cultivate contacts and to be specifically available on my public FB page. The old skeeve (I was in my twenties, married and he was in his sixties and married) was leader of the council and a really key part of most local stories. My boss was not as supportive as yours seems to be! What myself and the other young female reporters did was to staff each others pages on our days off, giving it a more business vibe and removing the illusion that we were checking it at home in our silk lingerie. So for example Skeevey Leader would post something about going for a run on the beach with me (wow these guys do like nature, don’t they) and the reply would be “Hey, this is Catwoman in the office overseeing Batgirl’s page today. We’d hate to miss any local events while she’s celebrating her anniversary! What’s happening at the beach?”
      “Oh nothing it’s just a good place for a run..”
      “You heard it, the beach is SL’s favourite running spot. Which choice spots do our other runners recommend? Comments below!” It’s a good idea to get a male colleague to do it as well, even occasionally, if you can.
      Oh, and I’d seriously park the desire to be kind. These guys know the bind you’re in and they are exactly the same with the barista and checkout girl who also have smiley jobs to do. I had to deal with SL in person a lot and it’s not long before all kindness is dried up and you’re openly rolling your eyes at his obvious plays for attention. You’re already snapping at him because his having “no idea youd get the wrong idea!” strains credulity and patience. You’re human. Nip it in the bud while still patient enough to be professional. The best response when they push the ‘mistaken impression’ angle (so annoying) is “Glad we agree! As you say my husband would be with me and we have other plans”.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This type of working off each other is done a lot in retail also. A cohort will see that another employee is having difficulty with a customer being overly friendly and find a way to insert themselves in the conversation. When the cohort steps in the customer usually wraps up the conversation and the transaction and leaves.

    13. Dwight Schrute*

      He knows exactly what he’s doing. Does he message your male co host this way? I’d doubt it. Have the co host talk to him, and block him if you can.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Glad to see you’ve blocked him! I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with this for months. What a creep

    14. Observer*

      No, this behavior is NOT minor. And even if it were, he needs to knock it off. Let your coworker do that for you.

    15. Chilipepper*

      I took a workshop on sexual harassment by customers, not so much coworkers. It was good and what I learned was what the offender hears when you do x.
      When you joke back, they hear you like it.
      When you try to ignore it, they hear you like it, try to get a rise out of you.
      When you try to shut them down directly, they take it as a threat to their masculinity and they double down, you’re a b*tech, etc.
      They said what does work is to say something like, “thats not work related, how can I help you with this listener/radio host thing.” Very much like Alison’s script to refocus on something work related.

      I think you could make yourself very boring to him by only talking about work. Like,
      Him: hey hun, bet you’d like to be in a tent, you’d freeze!
      You: most ppl here do like camping. Did you hear the program on *vaguely camping/outdoors related thing on your radio station sometime in the past year?

      Best to you, why do men keep doing this crap?

      1. nep*

        Re: last line here–seriously, why? It’s just so beyond repulsive and offensive. Why indeed. I will refrain from my usual refrain about men.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Just stop replying or block him.

      Whether he’s intentionally being creepy or not, you don’t like corresponding with him. So stop doing it!

      If you’re ever put on the spot about why, you can say he was getting too personal and overly familiar. That’s true without using any recognizeably politicized buzzwords.

      I’m willing to bet there will be no blowback on this, because everyone who knows him personally is already aware that he has poor personal boundaries. That’s probably why he’s lonely and pestering you – he’s already been blocked by his IRL friends.

    17. Choggy*

      *Something* is telling you what this guy is doing is not as innocent as he’s making it seem, so you should just go with your gut on this. If this is FB, why not just hide his posts so you don’t see them, and don’t respond to him? Just because he’s a “fan” doesn’t mean you need to put up with this behavior.

    18. Joan Rivers*

      Don’t ignore your gut feeling, he is being creepy and manipulative too.
      Things like this can go bad sometimes, don’t underestimate it.
      Mutual friend can talk to him and maybe suggest ways he can meet women if he’s just lonely. But needs to also explain to him firmly that HE’s known to you guys just like YOU’re known to him, so he could get in trouble for this. He’s not anonymous here.

    19. Lena Clare*

      Captain Awkward’s latest post shows you exactly how to respond in this scenario. I recommend reading it.
      Use your words. Don’t get your co-host to speak for you; concentrate on how this makes you feel (uncomfortable) and what this guy needs to do to make you feel comfortable, then tell him.
      “I am uncomfortable with your texts and would like you to stop texting me unless it is about x, y, z. Thank you for understanding.”
      It’s not you, it’s him and he knows precisely what he is doing UGHUGUGH.

  5. Hi there*

    Any kneeling chair advice? I thought there was a recommendation for a particular kneeling chair in an open thread lately but can’t find it. Specific suggestions and links are welcome. The chair is for a spot I’d use occasionally, not 8 hours every day. Thanks and Happy New Year!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        In case link doesn’t work outside UK, it’s the original Varier Variable Balans.

  6. LDN Layabout*

    For applying internally, how many people do you ask/can you ask for ‘references’?

    I’m applying for a position where I’d be doing my usual day job, but instead of it being used by Users X, it would be used by Users Y (to be used with Stakeholders A-C).

    I have recently, regularly been providing information for Users Y, some to be used at a high level internally, some at a high level externally and think it’s a big plus for me being able to talk about. The problem is, it’s gone via a large number of people so no one really covers it all.

    Is it enough to talk about the examples, make sure my manager’s aware of them and let him do that part of ‘selling it’ (he’s happy to do so) or do I pick a few particular examples and ask them to be available (this would be the intermediaries asking for the information, not the bigwigs themselves).

    I’m leaning to asking my boss’ boss’ boss (since he usually gets the initial request because he’s senior leadership) to be available as a reference for these types of requests.

    I don’t think anyone involved would say no, they want people from within to fill these positions (they’re temporary promotions) and the people culture is quite good, I’ve just never applied internally and I’m not sure what’s normal vs. asking too much.

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

      For internal applications I’ve never known ‘references’ to be asked to be provided as such. The process would be typically driven by management (existing and prospective) liaising with each other., possibly with the involvement of HR.

    2. Sandi*

      I think it depends on your specific organization. Applying internally within my group of 100 people is different to applying internally within my huge company. Is there someone more experienced who could guide you? Good luck!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Thank you :) I have a meeting with the hiring manager on Monday, so I’ll ask about how they deal with things like this.

        1. Sandi*

          If that’s an option then definitely. Internally you also have the advantage that you don’t have to worry about optimizing references, because there is internal trust. So your boss could be trusted to speak for other more senior people (“I have heard from People A, B, and C that they think highly of LDNL’s work”) in a way that would never work in another context. They likely won’t speak with 3 different people, and all that typical stuff, because they have a reliable assessment method better than anyone external could hope for.

  7. Can I work with a bully?*

    I work with a bully. I hit a breaking point with her recently and confronted her (with the help of my boss.) My direct manager is extremely supportive, however my grand boss sides with the bully since they are friends. Poor upper management aside, is it possible to work with this bully or am I doomed? Tips appreciated.

    1. Grits McGee*

      Is the bullying affecting your ability to do work/you reputation in the office, or is it more personal?

      1. Can I work with a bully?*

        The bully is a salesperson, I am her support person. Most of my work comes from her. Some of her bullying is related to work deadlines, some of it was timing of a mandated furlough. Recently there have been rumors she’s spread around the office about my ability to do my job in regards to covid related conditions. My immediate boss had no such concerns. She is damaging my reputation a bit to those that don’t work with me, however she has had a long standing reputation and burned through several support people.

        1. Batgirl*

          I’d go into CYA mode documenting as much as you possibly can, copying people into emails etc. When she tries to do things verbally get eyes on the situation by emailing “as per our conversation” to keep a record. I never sweat the reputational stuff. I used to, but these people can never hold a lie together any more than they could just be honestly competent. It always comes out in the wash.

          1. Anonforthis1*

            I agree with this. We had a toxic person like your bully at a previous job, except she always invoked the union whenever anyone (peer or supervisor) tried to address the behavior. Our strategies were:
            a) kill her with kindness in every interaction, which defused any ammunition she thought she had and protected our reputations with everyone else.
            b) document every single interaction in follow-up emails or personal memos. Memos were sent to our immediate supervisor who kept everything for when she would escalate issues, and she escalated everything.
            c) copy our immediate supervisor on every email correspondence we had with her, even if it was a follow-up from a hallway chat or a phone call. The key thing here was to get a neutral third party involved who could provide a complete, unalterable record of activities. (Because we found out that this particular bully would delete things in email chains to prove her point and by having someone else on copy, that person’s word that the record was changed was more powerful.)

            The more traceability we showed, the less impactful her bullying became and the quicker everyone saw through the games she played.

          1. Can I work with a bully?*

            She has literally been passed around to everybody. Nobody wants to work with her.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Maybe if she worked with the grand boss, the grand boss would understand why no one wants to work with her, but I’m guessing having her work with the grand boss is probably not how it works at your office.

        2. BluntBunny*

          Can your immediate boss provide you with the work do you and bully share the immediate boss? I doubt she has damaged your reputation that much if it is only this year most people have struggles this year so your coworkers will be sympathetic. I doubt that there is much you can do since there has been multiple people in your positions that have left due to them. Could you support another sales person?

        3. Hotdog not dog*

          I’ve got a salesperson I support who is just like this. I only respond to work related items, and do so in the most professional tone I can muster. One of his tricks is to be very passive aggressive, with statements like, “now, this task is important, so it can’t have your usual mistakes.” (even if it’s a task I’ve been executing perfectly all along.) I just smile and say, “okay.” I know that I’m good at my job and he’s just a jackass, so I try not to let it get to me. The less I react, the less satisfying it is for him, so sticking with uber-professional, calm responses to any and all shenanigans has helped immensely.

      1. Can I work with a bully?*

        Her reaction was to cook up concerns about my work and avoid the situation as much as possible (this was outside of our meeting). During our meeting she deflected any responsibility that she had done anything wrong. Grand boss gave me action items for improvement and she walked away with none. I am to invoke a code word when I am saying it but she is not hearing me, I am to clearly explain to her what I am willing to do outside of my normal job duties, etc. She is simply “willing to change”.

    2. Mr Jingles*

      It is almost impossible to work with abully but one of the few strategies Ifound helpful was reacting totally deflective to provocations, denying them any reaction or discussion.
      I’d neverengage in whatever they’d toss on me.
      For example: you never do xyz and you are so bad at abc.
      Me: whatever you say. Do youhave any work relevant question I can answer? Otherwhise I’m busy. I need to get def done for boss.
      I want you to do xyz for me now. If you don’t, I’ll tell grandboss.
      Me: Boss told me to do abc now. Please go to boss about that so I can do so. It’s not my place to make that decision.
      Random nagging and bullying
      Me: uh-hu. If you say so. I’m sorry I need to go now doing xyz for Jane.
      If someone tries to give me an unreasonable task I deflect this way: splendid! I’ll start on this as soon as you’ve shown me how todo it. I have no idea how to accomplish that but I’m sure you can help me get this done for you. I’m sur we don’t want it to go bad just because I’m not properly trained! So just go on and scedule a meeting for us to put me up to speed. A mail with clear instructions would also be sufficent. I’ll start right away as soon as I know how to do it.
      Usually people are very reluctant to put themselves in a situation where they could fail and the unreasonable demand just vanishes without ever being mentioned again if I seem eager to help but asking for clarification. It also helps to seem extremely apologetic to the point of riddicule. I’m so sorry. Yes maybe you’re right and I’m just too stupid but I’m sure you’ll help me, won’t you? I just can’t do it without your help.
      I learned the hard way that sometimes there are battles you can not win and the only way to deal with that is not to fight.
      Beside that you can only start your job search for someplace without this blatant favouritism from the grandboss.
      Also most bullies desperately fight for recognition. They want to see you suffer. If they feel riddiculed or brushed of they’re not satisfied so ignoring them and not letting them see their impact sometimes annoys them away. Sadly they just latch onto someone else then.
      Pretend you’re dealing with a temper tantrum throwing toddler or an unhinged-crazy person in an asylum also makes it easier to stay calm and aloof till you can get away from them.

      1. Can I work with a bully?*

        Thank you – this is all very helpful and I believe I can enlist my immediate boss to assist with some of the complaints and comments she makes around the office, as she rarely does so to my face.

    3. Alternative Person*

      In terms of changing their behaviour, no. Not with grand boss being on their side.

      In terms of working with them, work with your manager. Route as much communication as possible through them. For anything that can’t, be as neutral as possible. Within whatever boundaries you work within, work to rule. Draw on whatever process rules your organization has and stick to them. If the Bully wants a rush job or something tell them to e-mail you and, route it through your supportive manager. Cover your ass basically.

      Get a few scripts and practice them, ‘You’ll have to e-mail me about it.’ ‘You’ll have to make a request to Supportive Manager’, ‘That process requires X, I can do it when Y’ and so on.

      For personal comments, don’t denigrate yourself to them. Depending on what you want to do/feel able to say, you can ignore it (and mentally add, ‘that’s what buttface {insert your own insult here} thinks’) by acting like you don’t hear it, you can starve the comments of oxygen, you can add a ‘moving on’ or ‘anyways’ after to move the conversation along. If you feel able to comment back you can say something like ‘Why would you say something hurtful like that?’ -basically return the awkwardness to sender but you should do what you feel able to. The key is to pick a strategy and stick to it.

      I’d also consider taking notes on incidents if you haven’t already. I did it when dealing with a toxic co-worker. It didn’t help my case with senior management, but it served me as a good reminder when I was being treated like the bad person for not ‘getting along’ when I was actually holding a very reasonable boundary against a dickhead.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Go “grey rock.”

      Bullies feed on a sense of power and getting a rise out of people. Refuse to give her that.

      Be bland, extremely polite, and do a good job. Ignore all provocations as if they didn’t happen. If she demands a response to some accusation, make it as bland as possible like, “it’s unfortunate that you see it that way,” or “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll bear that in mind.”

      I did once manage to break a bully’s brain with a strategic campaign of minor courtesies, like washing her coffee cup or bringing her treats when I went out on errands. That was extremely satisfying, but it only worked because she was the sort of person who had a vestigial conscience and visibly felt terrible about accepting favors from me after she’d been so mean.

      If your bully is further gone, that likely won’t work. (And would be hard to do remotely anyhow).

      Save all your energy for your job hunt, and good luck!

    5. LGC*

      Okay, so your direct manager is supportive, which is great. Your skip-level…I’m tempted to say throw the whole boss in the trash, but I’m trying to be positive in 2021. (Emphasis on trying.) Do you have a boss three levels above you, and how do they feel about her?

      What can your direct manager do to support you? Does this rise to the level of reporting it to HR (and I don’t just mean “is she committing sexual harassment” or “is she discriminating against me based on a protected class” – I mean is the harassment pervasive or severe enough that you don’t feel safe coming into work)?

      I know that’s a lot of questions, and some of them are kind of rhetorical. Unfortunately, I think this might fall mostly on your direct boss (as it should to begin with). What can your direct boss do without going to their boss?

  8. Molly Weasley*

    Are there any tips anyone has for not becoming resentful for picking up more work because you’re the only one physically working in the office by default?

    My coworker is the type even before the pandemic to find any excuse to work remotely. Now between that and the pandemic, she is working remotely full-time. I am very supportive of that and of remote work in general, given, you know, everything. My issue is that she is the type to take on in-office tasks that aren’t meant to be the responsibility of our department, and now that she is home, she and my boss expect me to take on that work, in addition to covering her work that does fall under our department that she can’t do at home, in addition to my own work and the work of the department (I’m an admin so take on multiple roles and tasks). She’s also senior to me and making more money. (On top of this, she mentions going out visiting family and friends and shopping, so it’s hard not to be a little confused as to why she can do that but not be in the office. Not my business, though.) I rarely get the opportunity to work remotely and now am not sure if I can take any significant time off for the year since I’m doing a lot of work in the office.

    I intend on talking to my manager this week about her expectations while my coworker is remote. I want to be professional and do what I can to help, but I also am concerned my stress with the situation will show and at some point it will result in my work dipping in quality and me being unhappy at work, and it coloring my interactions with my coworker and others I encounter in the course of my job.

    It’s January 1st, and I’m already stressed for this year work wise!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      They can ask you to take on her responsibilities in the office that have to be done in the office, but the clearer you are about what that cuts into, the better for this meeting.

      If you can write out everything you’re doing/being asked to do (ideally, with timing estimates) it gives you the standing to go: I can do X, Y and Z, but it will take up my work week and one of A, B or C will not get done. Can you tell me what I should be prioritising?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d ask about specific tasks that do not belong to your department first and foremost. Name the tasks, “Boss, do you want me doing A, B and C when that actually is the job of Other Department?” Get him to nail it down.

      Then mention that Sally adds tasks to your to-do list. Ask the boss if Sally has say over your work flows/ work responsibilities. If yes, how much say? I might even attempt this one by doing a specific example, “Sally said I needed to do X. Do you want me doing X? Do I check with you before I do X or do I just assume that if it came from Sally that you are okay with it?”

      Most of the time I have gotten the reacton, “WHAAAT the heck? NO, do not do that..”, from the boss. This stuff goes on and the boss has no idea it’s happening.

    3. allathian*

      If you’re in the office by default, and that means you get to do the jobs that must be in the office, this sounds reasonable enough in the sense that it’s better if you’re the only person in the office. However, your current workload is too much. Could you try to offload some of your tasks that could be done from home on someone who is working from home?

      What’s your relationship with your boss? Could you just straight up tell her that you can’t take on any more of the tasks that aren’t meant to be the responsibility of your department without giving up some tasks that are your responsibility? Could you ask your manager to tell your coworker not to volunteer you for any in-office tasks that aren’t the responsibility of your department?

  9. SchoolSucks*

    I’m looking for opinions from people who work in school offices.

    I’ve applied to a lot of jobs at the colleges, universities and private schools near me over the past few years. They’ll all been jobs in the registrar, enrollment, financial aid, or advancement offices (entry/low level jobs just doing data entry, updating records, sending out correspondence, creating reports, processing money, answering inquiries, etc….nothing particularly hard, but things I’m good at and enjoy). I always meet all the minimum/required qualifications, but don’t meet the usual preferred qualifications of having worked in a school or having experience with school-specific databases. I’ve gotten to the interview stage for at least 10 of the jobs, but always either get ghosted or just get a generic rejection letter.

    At the last few interviews, I asked the hiring manager if they thought someone without experience at a school would have any trouble learning the job. The answers I got were things like: All the programs and tasks are easy to learn and anyone could do it. My masters degree makes up for the lack of school experience. They loved my cover letter and thought I would do great in the job. I didn’t need school experience because I had transferable skills. It doesn’t seem like having never worked at a school should be a big deal.

    So is the problem that I don’t have school experience, but other people who are interviewing probably do and that makes them the more desirable candidates? Am I better off just not applying to these jobs anymore since I have no way to get school experience?

    1. Aphrodite*

      I work in a community (two-year) college and in the same town is a University of California campus. (Then you have all the other educational facilities plus several private colleges.) At least at my college and the UC, it was hard to get hired even before the virus. That’s because so many of the jobs are already “filled” before they are even advertised. They know who they are going to hire. I am not sure about the stats at my school but the UC one was about 80 percent filled ahead of time; I had a very reliable source on that.

      I did notice that the UC and sometimes we would advertise for hourly jobs on the Admin section of CraigsList. That was a very good way to get your foot in the door. Also, both the city and the UC used one particular temporary agency, and that was another good way in the door. But how that has changed with the virus I don’t know. Our school cut all hourlies and isn’t hiring at all except for the rare and required management positions.

      So I guess my only advice is to keep trying–and see if either of those back door ideas work for you. It can be done but don’t be discouraged.

      1. SchoolSucks*

        Now that you mention the positions already being “filled” before being advertised, one of the generic rejection letters I got did say something like, “We decided to go with an internal candidate because they knew all our systems and procedures already.”

        When asked to schedule phone screenings or interviews, would it be rude to ask if they have internal candidates? I don’t want to keep wasting time interviewing for jobs that are already filled.

        1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

          Internal candidate =/= filled. I posted a lengthy response below, but one thing I did not mention is that any position we post is going to attract multiple internal candidates. Either internal candidates are looking to get out of toxic environments (and yes, there are offices within our university that are *known* to be toxic) or they’re looking for a higher salary.

        2. BRR*

          I wouldn’t ask. If I was on the hiring side, i would be pretty put off and it’s not a great first impression.

        3. Aphrodite*

          It’s not wasted time because you don’t know which jobs are really looking for candidates. If you are serious about working in education it’s just something you need to do without being concerned in trying ferret out potential competition or spend time worrying about. Just put in the applications and let them go.

          And, no, do not ask. HR in larger colleges is massive and they wouldn’t know anyway. (Think of higher education as like government–which, essentially, it is. Each department is its own world.))

    2. BRR*

      I’m confused why you think it’s about school experience when the hiring manager specifically said it wasn’t. Have you asked for general feedback instead? And this isn’t always helpful but have you looked up who they ended up hiring to see how their experience compares to yours?

      1. SchoolSucks*

        Well, the hiring managers are saying school experience isn’t required to do the jobs, but only major thing I can think of that I lack compared to other candidates is that the other candidates probably have experience working in schools.

        I asked for feedback a few times to companies I did more than one interview with when I was younger, but no one ever responded, so I just don’t do that.

        I haven’t looked up who they hired, but I’ve looked up current and past employees in these positions before doing phone screenings. I don’t remember if they all had school experience or not. What stood out to me was a lot of people had many short term jobs (like a few months to a year). I’ll try to pay more attention to that next time.

        1. Aphrodite*

          Here’s the thing: forget anything you can’t control. You can’t control the number of applicants. You can’t control whether they are internal or external. You can’t control the hiring processes. What you CAN control is your application, your resume and your cover letter. I’d follow Alison’s advice on those and make them as good as you can. Do not try to circumvent any HR process; as I said above higher ed runs very much like government because at least in California it is part of it.

          Even before the virus, it was not unusual to have 80-100 applicants for a position. So you can see the odds for any particular person. Our HR narrows downs the list after the listing closes to those who have the minimum qualifications. They then forward the balance of the applications on to the hiring manager and gather a hiring committee composed of people of different levels and departments. (I’ve been on them.) The committee members get access to the applications, cover letters, resumes and any other materials that have been submitted while the hiring manager selects those she wants to have initially interviewed. That might be 20.) The initial interviews are made, the committee sends the names of three-five applicants to the hiring manager who does the final selection.)

          You can see how impersonal it all is even though for applicants it certainly does not feel that way. But if you are serious—and the outstanding benefits and stable pay are huge draws despite it being a soul-sucking atmosphere at times–are what attract people. If you still want it, keep trying and let go of the emotion. That will keep you steady and able to keep up the work of getting what you want. Since you are going more for entry level I would say the more you do the higher the odds are for you making further inroads.

    3. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      I don’t have experience of working in a school so my comment may not be what you are after but really you hit on something that is a pretty common issue – a lot of tasks in a lot of roles (regardless of sector) are pretty generic and can easily be done by people who have no previous experience in that sector.

      I’d say to you keep going! However what tends to happen when there are more candidates than jobs (eg economy with Covid) is people take the path of what they see as the least resistance ie someone with previous sector experience which translates in their mind to less on the job training whether that’s factually true or not.

      But again there are so many intangibles in hiring, times when I have successfully crossed sectors are when I’ve understood in hindsight I had experiences on my CV that I had no idea where useful/desirable for a particular role.

      So in a sense it is a bit of luck and it also may help in the process to acknowledge to yourself how hard the market is for people right now to be hired – for me that helps in keeping going in any difficult lengthy process.

      Good luck in your search!

    4. A Cat named Brian*

      Getting into those roles are very difficult without experience but not impossible. In my experience, people transfer into enrollment/registrar offices. Or it’s a “who you know” type position. Most started in academic support roles/programs or as grad students and moved around the university after a year or two. Maybe start looking there first. But definitely start networking with people who work at the university or schools.

    5. Wehaf*

      Do any of these schools have a temp pool for office workers? That’s usually a good way to get into the system and get some school experience.

      You may also want to ask a trusted connection to do a mock interview with you, to make sure there isn’t something you are doing in the interviews which is tripping you up.

      Finally applying for data entry jobs with a master’s degree may be working against you – they are likely to think you will always be looking to leave for something bigger and better.

      1. The Bea*

        I second this idea — I work in one of these type of offices, and we have a lot of people who started out as temps and moved into permanent roles in the office. At least in public institutions, it’s typically hard to move someone out if you hire them and they aren’t working out, so someone who has proven they can meet the needs of the role is a much safer bet.

      2. SchoolSucks*

        I actually only include the master’s degree on my resume if it’s mentioned in the “preferred qualifications” section.

        I find all the university and college jobs I apply to directly on the university or college website (there’s always a page that lists all the open jobs). Would temp jobs be listed somewhere else?

    6. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I work at a Midwestern university, and our office does a lot of these type of processes and data/records management. We’ve hired two people in 2020 — a new position (to take some work off a current, overwhelmed staff member) and to replace someone who retired. Here’s my two cents:
      (1) We get a LOT of applicants for these roles. Even prior to COVID, these jobs attracted a lot of applicants. A lot of people want to get hired for tuition remission, either for themselves or their kids. Or, they see these jobs as an in for the “dream job” type roles that are more student-facing (which IMO these jobs are not the “in” that people think they are, but we still hear applicants talk about how they really want to work with student when the specific position has very little contact with students).
      (2) At least for my office, prior experience working in a school setting is *preferred.* Definitely not a requirement, but definitely a preference. Sometimes what we’re looking for is actually experience with our specific software systems or similar systems — sometimes, it’s familiarity with rules and regulations (there are SO MANY! federal and state and institutional) — sometimes, it simply that those who have worked in higher ed have a clearer and more realistic expectation of what the open role actually entails (i.e., they don’t have unrealistic expectations about advising or working directly with students). So, in many cases, those with the prior experience will be able to get up to speed quicker and they will be less likely to experience expectation mis-match between what they think the job will be and what it actually entails.

      So, I realize that sounds very discouraging. But the reality is that the higher ed job market is a tough one to enter at any point, and it’s incredibly competitive right now! So maybe right now is not the time to try to break in. Or, if you continue to try, be realistic that you’re facing even more competition than ever, including those with school experience who were laid off and/or trying to find a more secure position with their office/institution facing great financial difficulty.

      If you keep going for it, I would recommend trying to connect with someone who does work in the type of office you want to get hired in. Your alumni network can probably help you there. Have them look over not just your resume and cover letter, but also see if they can help you practice interview questions. There may be interview questions where you’re just not hitting it out of the park. And some informational interviews may also help give you a clearer picture into the various roles you’re applying for. Working for the Registrar’s Office is not the same as working for Financial Aid — there’s different priorities and policies and regulations in play. Also, the Advancement Office is a whole ‘nother ball of wax …. At my institution, the culture and environment of each of those is very different. Academic is weird.

      In short — very hard industry to break into, so if you’re going to keep at it, you need to step up your game and connect to those already working in those types of roles to get additional info and help, esp. with improving your interviewing.

      1. SchoolSucks*

        I’ve actually been told about the tuition reimbursement and then asked if I planned to pursue more degrees, and my answer is always an honest, “No, I have no interest in getting more degrees.” Does that make me look bad in some way?

        Since you mention people wanting to work directly with students…I actually always talk about the reasons why I love working with information and records, and all the ways I stay organized, am detail oriented, and am a stickler for accuracy and getting things done on time, in both my cover letter and in phone screenings and interviews. When asked why I want to work there, my answers are usually about how I miss working in non-profits for various reasons, and how I feel like working at places of knowledge and education would be rewarding and something I could be proud of. Maybe the problem is I don’t talk about students except in the sense of wanting to make sure their records are right, that they get their financial aid/scholarships, etc.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Have you thought about non profits with an education focus? The software and layers of rules are not necessarily the same as in schools, but there are similar layers of complexity from state and federal. You might settle and get comfy in this kind of an institution, or it might be a useful step into a purely school environment, depending on what markets look like in a couple years. Look at museums with a robust outreach/education wing, community/regional arts centers, at the like.

        2. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

          So my answer is through the lens of my specific institution.
          Not wanting to use tuition remission would not make you look bad. And for the types of offices you mentioned, you seem very clear on what the work entails.
          The only thing that gives me pause is you comparing education to a non-profit. And … it’s a pretty good comparison! But if someone told me in an interview that they missed working in nonprofits, I’d wonder why they’d apply to work for us.
          If you want to show your interest in the specific organization, make sure you’re very familiar with its mission and strategic plan. My university makes a Big Deal about it’s current strategic plan, so I’d be impressed by any external candidate who knew the basics of the strategic plan.

          1. SchoolSucks*

            Aren’t most colleges/universities non-profits though? I did some internships in museums and archives in college (and then never was able to get a job at one). I miss working with people who cared about doing their job well and cared about the mission of the organization. I’ve been working for big corporations, and a lot of employees are more concerned about doing as little work and as poor work as possible while turning a profit (customers hate us).

            1. Enough*

              Technically, but I don’t believe they think of themselves that way. I suspect that when they hear non-profit they think charities and advocacy groups. And that funding is different as the group they serve (students) pay for their services (education).

              1. SchoolSucks*

                I see what you mean. If I decide to apply to any more school jobs in the future, I won’t say anything about non-profits. I’ll just refer to missing supporting the education/knowledge type mission and people caring about their work.

        3. Asenath*

          In my experience, whether or not the degrees make a difference depends on who is making the decisions – I’ve known of divisions in which the management wanted office workers with university degrees in completely irrelevant subjects (not taught in that particular branch and certainly not required to do the office work) to the extent that they would only hire those and also make experienced workers with less formal education feel like they needed to move on because they were so clearly at and would remain at the bottom of the ladder. And I’ve known divisions in which they didn’t care what your education level or aspirations were as long as you could do the work. They’d mention the tuition assistance, but not in a pushing way.

          Your situation may be different, but in mine it was very hard to get a foot in the door – I did it by taking a series of short-term contracts – and they were actually obliged to hire internally if there was a qualified applicant. So getting in from the outside was really hard. Once in, again, sometimes there was an internal candidate who perhaps was successfully doing the job on a temporary basis and who essentially had it, but they are obliged to advertise for and interview other candidates. It was really frustrating for those trying to get in from outside. Also, although the jobs were only reasonably paid, the benefits and a certain level of job security (even aside from the tuition benefit) made them quite desirable, so there was often a lot of competition, internally and externally. Finally, I can believe that knowing their systems isn’t essential – my own experience is that I could fairly easily pick up their essential software on my own with the available help options – I’m willing to bet that if it came down to a choice between someone who actually knew the software well and someone who didn’t, they’d chose the one who did. If I were you, I’d keep applying, but also keep in mind that it may take a long time to actually get your foot in that door. When I look back…I had a choice, one semester, of three temporary contracts with varying conditions. The one I chose – which took ages to even set up an interview, and was only half-time – eventually developed into a full time permanent job I loved. But at the time, I had no way of knowing that. All I knew was that I would benefit from getting at least a little more experience within the place, and that contract wouldn’t leave me unemployed at the end of the semester. But it all came down to persistence and luck.

    7. Thorisa*

      It is notoriously hard to get your foot in the higher ed door. I had a similar experience to yours, and I had already worked in K-12! For me, it was a matter of persistence, and I knew someone in the first office I was hired in…which is not what you want to hear, but seems to be the theme. In my experience, higher ed folks want new employees who “understand what working in higher ed is like” (which frankly, is crap, especially for the kinds of jobs you describe), so they continue to hire people with the experience.

      In my current department, I originally applied for another position, interviewed, and didn’t get it. I mentioned to the hiring manager to keep me in mind in the future, not expecting to ever hear back…but they did contact me a few months later. This is definitely something to do, if you’re not already. I’ve seen us contact former candidates more than once.

      Best of luck. It can be really frustrating to have so many people like you, but just not QUITE enough. Hopefully persistence will pay off for you!

      1. SchoolSucks*

        Would you mind giving more information on why working in the kind of jobs I describe in higher ed is crap? Just wondering. I assumed it could be either good or bad as doing the same type of work in any other office (so basically it would depend on the people you end up working with…my current job deals with records and some of the people are absolutely terrible).

        1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

          Pay is often low. (For public universities, everyone’s pay is public record. A few staff are paid Very Well, and the rest are not.)
          Depending on the office and role, you may get crapped on by faculty, students, or both.
          Faculty who get leadership roles because of their academic credentials, but they can’t manage worth crap.
          Internal politics. Ugh.
          The Haves and Have Nots of funding and resources.
          At least at my university, it takes something REALLY outrageous for someone to get fired.

          There’s a lot to love, too, but there’s very serious issues within academia.

          1. DEJ*

            While there are certainly some crappy things about working in academia, the university I was laid off from earlier this year had amazing benefits, so there are tradeoffs.

            1. SchoolSucks*

              One of the reasons I’m interested in school jobs is that the pay is often much better than my current and previous jobs, the time off is always waaay better, and the health insurance I’ve seen seems like it would be better. (I’ve only ever had crappy jobs, so it’s possible my standards are low though.)

              It sounds like some of the problems of academia are problems I already deal with, just a different context (dealing with customers who crap on you, useless managers, horrible people not getting fired).

        2. Thorisa*

          Oh gosh! I’m sorry that was unclear. I meant that the assumption that you need higher ed experience is crap, not the jobs themselves. I’ve heard in more than one hiring round, “Well, they don’t have any higher ed experience, so who knows if they’ll stick around…” Makes me roll my eyes every time.

          Princess Flying Hedgehog does make some very good points above about some issues you might see. There are pros and cons in every industry!

        3. Mistro*

          I think Thorisa meant those people who are doing the hiring believe that applicants with school experience are the ONLY ones who “understand what working in higher ed is like” and therefore always automatically hire them. She is saying the employer’s ASSUMPTION that “someone with any school experience will be better than all the other candidates” is a crap (not fair/ not true) assumption.

          She didn’t mean that “working those kind of jobs” is crap.

    8. AcademicAnonymous*

      I’ve worked in Academic Affairs at 3 different colleges/universities (2 private/1 public) over the last 20 years. A couple thoughts come to mind …
      -Having a masters degree may make you see overqualified for the types of jobs you are applying for. When I’ve been involved in hiring decisions for entry level positions, we usually don’t interview/hire someone with a masters degree because the thought is that they are just applying as a stepping stone for something else & they won’t stay long. If you don’t already address this concern in your cover letter, you might want to.
      -Although colleges/universities are technically non-profit (at least most of them), they don’t think of themselves that way. Colleges/universities tend to focus on scholarship (faculty research productivity), teaching (actual students) and/or public service (outreach/service programs). Looking at how they describe themselves in the “about” sections and/or their mission statement should help you figure out which kind of university they are. Then, tailor your “why-i-want-this-job” to that particular focus. A research university is not going to be impressed by your desire to serve the community (they should be–but they won’t) but a service university (often community colleges or ag/tech colleges are in this category) will.
      -I work specifically in institutional research, which is typically a smaller office on most campuses. The entry level positions are often labeled as “data analyst” but would be similar to what you describe. If you haven’t looked at any of those positions, I would recommend that as an area to consider. We’re usually on the nerdy side but typically have a great sense of humor :-)
      -My guess is that the “school experience” is not so much about the technical side of things but more just a general approach to work. There is a rhythm to academic life that is different than a typical business job–even though they are both in an office–and the pay is typically less. Sometimes academics are afraid people coming from a business background will either not be able to fit into that rhythm or will expect too much money
      -As far as the crappy side of higher ed, there is a very strong faculty/staff divide. Faculty often have a lot of power and a lot of freedom to decide what they will or won’t do, which can be super frustrating for staff who are responsible to make sure things get done. But you just have to go in knowing that the expectations will be different for staff than for faculty and be very observant of who holds the real power in your area/department.

      I’ve worked in higher ed for 20 years and loved it, but it’s not for everyone.

    9. Green Goose*

      I was in your exact situation 5+ years ago when I was looking for work after my masters. I live in an area that has many UCs, state schools, private colleges and community colleges and I applied and applied and applied and never got an interview. I found out from an insider that, like others have posted, most of the positions were already promised to an internal hire which made me feel so deflated. I felt like I had spent about six months throwing resumes into an abyss without realizing it.
      BUT, once I found this out I started looking up education nonprofits and found a whole bunch of open positions and immediately got a few interviews and one resulted in an offer. So I would recommend looking into education nonprofits and then you could gain experience and network and then maybe apply to a college again in a few years.
      Good luck, and I really know how frustrating it is. Expanding the search was so helpful for me.

      1. SchoolSucks*

        I googled education nonprofits in the nearest major city to me, and the first few I looked at had “volunteer” pages instead of “career/job” pages, so I assume they’re really small and probably not hiring anytime soon. Are there specific types of places I could look for to narrow down my search?

        1. New Mom*

          I did “best education nonprofits to work at” and you could add “city name” to that and see. Or see if any listed have branches near you (or remote work available).
          Idealist also has nonprofit jobs available and you can filter by your interest.

          Also, if there is a specific department at a college you’d like to work in like financial aid you could google “college preparation nonprofit”, “college access”, “national college access”. And there are membership organizations like National College Access Network that post jobs.

    10. LabTechNoMore*

      Having worked at a public and private university, keep in mind that the hiring process (especially for public sector) is weirdly rigid. There’s a good chance your interview is being evaluated on some weirdly-designed rubric that doesn’t always fit the position in question. Also, as others have pointed out, there’s a lot of office politics that goes into hiring, including posting positions that are already filled, but are required to be posted nonetheless. For the types of roles you mentioned, since they’re not looking for a specific specialized skillset, there’s going to be a lot of competition. The only time I’ve successfully gotten university roles (for specialized technical positions) have been when the stars aligned, and by dumb luck my experience and personality happened to resonate fundamentally with all of the members of the hiring committee. Currently unemployed and looking, but university hiring is so lengthy and difficult to find a role in, that I haven’t focused too heavily on the higher education sector. As with most things job-searching, persistence is key.

  10. Baby obsessed*

    This is sort of a mix of work and personal, and I’m happy to get advice along either of those lines!

    I am 30 and about to start my final semester of social work school. My husband works in tech and we live in a big tech hub city. When I started this program two years ago, we agreed that in my last semester (so, now) he would look for a job in the area closer to where we are both from, once he got a job, I would get one two, and then 3 months after I get a job, we could start trying to have a baby.

    This plan is intellectually pretty rational and nothing has disrupted it thus far….except my hormones or something are going absolutely haywire and I’m dying to have a baby RIGHT NOW and correspondingly freaking out that it will takea long time, about the stress of having the baby be conditional on my getting a job offer and how long that will take. There are some warning signs I could have something like PCOS, but also it’s totally possible everything is fine. I feel sick every time a friend announces their pregnancy (I mean, I’m also very happy for them but also sometimes I cry.) Part of me wants to say screw it, let’s try now, we have a lot of savings, and we’ll figure it out regardless! My husband thinks I am not thinking straight, but says that if I’m absolutely 100% sure, that he is open to moving up the timeline.

    The thing is, I know I’m not thinking straight. I’d like to have the option of being a working mom, so it makes sense to wait until I’m eligible for FMLA, plus we’d have so much more help being near family. Would love to hear from others if you’ve navigated something like this and what you would/wouldn’t do differently!

    1. MilitaryAnon*

      Baby rabies!

      Some hate the term but MAN was it accurate for me. Except it hit me after kid #1 when we were 100000% sure we only wanted one kid (and my husband had even gotten a vasectomy to ensure it). Eventually my hormones evened out and while I have the occasional pang when I see larger families, I also see our friends with 2+ kids struggling either for sanity if both parents work or financially if one chooses to stay at home. Unless you have a seriously amazing support system in place, I wouldn’t even consider having a kid right now. You might have an easy pregnancy (I did) or you might have a terrible one with frequent doctors visits. You will want everything in your life as stable as possible before making the jump. I had a difficult labor and really tough newborn stage. Postpartum hit me hard and the only thing that saved me was my parents quite literally moving in for a few weeks. Things might go super smooth for you! But set yourself up for success as much as possible.

      – Stable job
      – More vaccinated population
      – Moved to your new city
      – Engaged with your family/support system of choice

      If you need something to focus on, you can go way down the rabbit hole getting your body stronger and healthier for the pregnancy ahead. Building new habits will help a lot both during pregnancy and after kiddo is born.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep this one. I had a baby last December and the only way I survived postpartum anxiety followed by Covid was… literally living next door to my parents who were in our “bubble” from day one.

        1. MilitaryAnon*

          Yep! As a military family we do see a lot of folks saying “there’s never a good time” because deployments etc. But there are ABSOLUTELY worse times.
          – Being far from family
          – Upcoming move
          – Finances not solid
          – Shaky support system

          Parenthood is already SO hard. There are so many wildcards in the mix that controlling as many of the known factors will make the rest significantly less stressful. My postpartum likely would’ve been debilitating if I hadn’t had help. Birth is an extremely physical event and your body gets zero time to recover before you’re chasing sleep in 2 hour increments and trying to feed a baby who may or may not latch properly. Having other people to watch kiddo and feed me meant I could focus on recovery and bonding instead of stressing about unpaid leave and getting back to work and finding a daycare etc etc. When you want a baby you want the baby RIGHT NOW but giving yourself the gift of good timing pays off in terms of everyone’s health (physical and mental).

    2. ten-four*

      This is tough! I remember wanting to get pregnant just to be sure I could but not actually HAVE a baby yet – the complete lack of certainty/control over actually getting pregnant is really hard.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. It’s all about trade-offs, and annoyingly you don’t even have full information about exactly what you’re trading. I think the hardest part is that BOTH sides of your timeline are full of uncertainty and things you can’t control: both of you finding jobs on one side, and conceiving on the other.

      What if you guys changed your “trying to conceive” timeline to be absolute instead of conditional? Give yourselves six months or a year to get as far along with the job piece as possible, then go ahead and start trying (barring serious changes like unemployment etc). That way you’d have a more concrete “start trying” date, which would probably be easier than this big chain of “ifs.”

      I do tend to think that people should just have their kids instead of waiting for the optimal time (as long as there’s a base level of stability in place of course). But all the reasons you’ve laid out to wait a bit make sense – two new jobs + moving is a LOT of change to process, and spreading that out a bit is a nice thing to be able to do. With any luck, you’ll get some movement on the jobs/moving in your 6 or 8 or 12 month window, and then you can start trying for a baby and keep working on the rest.

      tl;dr – do everything you can to manage uncertainty because there’s going to be a lot of it, but that doesn’t *have* to mean waiting until every puzzle piece is perfectly in place.

      1. 30ish*

        This is a great suggestion! Make sure that the moment when you will start trying is not too far away, but do try to reach the other goals first. I had a similar situation and even though it took us fairly long to get pregnant I am still happy that we made sure that we had our ducks in a row first. Pregnancy and especially the baby phase are highly stressful and it’s much better if you don’t have to tackle other big things during that time.

    3. Batgirl*

      See, I think our feelings and instincts are an important part of our decision making; but I don’t think they should have the last word. If you have concerns about your fertility, look into them. If you think having a baby now is workable: make out that plan in detail and really ask yourself if it’s good enough. If so, I’d agree with you. Perfect timing doesn’t exist and it makes no sense to put off a dream for tomorrow that’s achievable today. But do your homework first.

      1. 30ish*

        It’s really hard to address possible infertility before even starting to try. Or do you mean just charting cycles? That, in my experience, indeed can make sense to do for a few months before starting to try for a baby.

        1. Enough*

          That would be a good start. When trying to have number 2 discovered by charting my temperature that while I had periods I wasn’t actually ovulating. I had always had erratic cycles and probably got very lucky that I got pregnant the first time (15 months without birth control).

        2. Parenthetically*

          BIG +1 to charting — but make sure to do it with good information and guidance! Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a good place to start.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          Chart your cycles, and use ovulation test strips to confirm that you’re ovulating, and on what schedule (this is something you can do while trying as well, to hit the optimum point for intercourse). If age might be an issue, there’s a test you can get to check your egg reserves, which can give you an idea of urgency. Talk to your doctor about the potential PCOS issues to see if there is screening you can do.

          The other fairly simple pre-fertility treatment tests I know about are a sperm test, and the one where they check for blockages/leakages in the fallopian tubes. Unfortunately, a lot of infertility treatment involves trying for a year, and then working your way through basic screening and various increasing levels of intervention, which takes time (and money).

          The other thing I would do is set a date when you’ll start trying, even if you haven’t got everything else in line – in a year or two if you don’t have two jobs in the new city.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I think you should take your list of “baby safety net” items and prioritize it. Ideally, you’d like to start trying as soon as possible, be near family, both employed, and FMLA eligible. Which of those things is most important to you? Obviously, “trying as soon as possible” is at the top of your list right now, so look at the other ones. To me, it sounds like being near family is very important to you, and realistically that means that either you or your husband would want to have a job lined up.

      Would it make sense for him to start applying for jobs now, which was part of your original plan anyway, and you and he could agree that once he gets a job you will reconsider moving up your “start trying” timeline? If he gets a decent job that will relocate you near a good support system, maybe you’ll feel better delaying or risking the other items on your list.

    5. Xenia*

      It sounds like you’re in a very exciting time! I would recommend sitting down with your husband and making a baby list. What are the things you must absolutely have in place (stable income, place to live, support system), what are the things that would be super nice but not critical (FMLA, finding a maternity support system of your choice, nice nursery furniture maybe), and what are some things you can do now to advance your goals? It might feel less desperate if you move your mindset from ‘I’m applying to jobs instead of having a baby’ to ‘I’m applying to jobs as a step towards having a baby’.

      I would also recommend getting a full health work up done, especially if you’re concerned about possible PCOS. That’s not something you want to be surprised by down the road.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I had one baby according to The Plan, and one who showed up by surprise on her own schedule.

      They are both fine and wonderful.

      With the first, we moved house, which was annoying and a lot of work. With the second, my husband got laid off, we had multiple family health crises with me & my parents, the world economy & housing market tanked, I went back to work long before I was ready, and absolutely nothing went according to plan at all.

      Both those children are still wonderful.

      You have a stable relationship, you both want kids soon, you have savings & it sounds like ample job prospects in the next year.

      There is no convenient time to have children, no way to make them NOT be a lot of work, and no way to plan everything. If you’re both ready you might as well try. It will probably be about a year before you actually have the baby, and as we have all seen, *anything* can happen in a year.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Also: go ahead & start taking folic acid now. It won’t hurt you and you need a good reserve before you get pregnant.

    7. Generic Name*

      I completely get it. I went off birth control 2 months before my wedding because I didn’t want to wait. If you are concerned you may have PCOS, you can schedule an appointment with an OBGYN and explain that you want to get pregnant but have some concerns. If PCOS or something else is at play, you’ll have a head start for when you try to conceive rather than finding out after 6 months or a year of trying that there was an issue that could have been addressed sooner. Honestly though, if your husband is onboard, and it wouldn’t be catastrophic to your finances, I’d start trying now. You may be happily surprised or it might take longer than you ever imagined. As a type-A kind of person, it’s difficult to appreciate just how little control we have over our own biology versus other areas of our lives (career, romance, friendships, hobbies, etc).

    8. New Mom*

      There is good advice on here from others but just wanted to add my experience. I just had my first baby (yay!) and I’m so happy but we had a similar idea of achieving x, y, and z and then starting for a baby when I was 31. I had assumed that we would have a baby as soon as we started trying but that ended up not being the case and it took us over two years to get pregnant and for a while, I was worried it would not happen at all. So glad that was not the case.
      I agree with another poster that having support is so, so helpful when you have a newborn so if you are not in the city with family, if you are able to have someone come at the start it’s so helpful. We live close to my parents and their support has been essential to my sanity during this time. Just having another person to do dishes, or hold the baby so you can do the bare necessities.
      And while it can seem a bit awkward to be really new at a company before having a baby, I can say that at my company multiple people have done this and have gone on to have a long tenure with the organization.
      Good luck! Everyone’s situation is different so you guys should just figure out what makes most sense for you and your needs.

    9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I’m going against the grain here.
      When I was 18 I had my next ten years all mapped out… guess what? I only ticked the very first item on the list, because life, and love, happened.
      By the time I hit 28 I was exactly in the same state you are in now, as well as being in a very exciting but also very new relationship, with a guy who very sensibly said that, while he did want kids, it wasn’t a good idea to have them straight away. He was all up for my plan of travelling on a round-the-world trip first (we had both been made redundant from our jobs with loads of severance pay, so had both time and money at our disposal).
      But my hormones got the better of me, I forgot my pill and found myself pregnant. We used our severance pay to buy a small flat, after all the world would still be around once the kids had grown up. My partner started up his own business, which in turn led to him being offered the very good job he has been in ever since. I did a little bit of teaching and a little bit of translating, and managed to turn the pin money into a career. Neither of us had parents nearby but we made some very good friends (who we now spend Christmas with, because they feel more like family than real family). A lot was left to chance, but we seized all opportunities that came our way.
      So nothing turned out as we imagined it, all our plans went wrong, we were desperately poor when the kids were small but: we did manage to feed and clothe them. Our kids have turned into wonderful people with absolutely no memories of hardship, pinching and scraping.

  11. TechWorker*

    This year my project area is getting busier so there’s more people joining my team, and specifically I will be managing a manager for the first time, along with having a couple of people who report directly to me. I’m feeling positive about this but want to get the balance right between ‘making sure things are happening as planned’ and ‘not micro-managering’. The manager coming in is relatively new to management, he will also be gaining slightly more responsibility in this move (an extra report) and he is new to the project, so at least initially I expect to need to work with him quite closely until he’s ramped up.

    Any advice for making this switch?

    1. Anonforthis1*

      I was this person at my last job. I was our department’s top performer so all the new managers in our department were assigned to me and my projects to get spun up. A few of my lessons learned:
      * Be clear about expectations and boundaries. Ask the new manager’s supervisor what their expectations are. Knowing this will help you stay out of the weeds with the new manager.
      * Focus on “now” first — show/tell the manager how things work now, good bad and ugly. When he’s familiar with “now,” then start discussing “should” — the improvements or changes you’d like to see happen that will make things easier, better, efficiently. People often tend to jump right to “should” without learning “now” and that rarely works out.
      * Context is really important. Before taking your new manager to any meetings, brief him about it and give the relevant background and context so he can follow the discussion more easily. For example, if this is a status update meeting, tell the manager what you’re getting updates on and what kind of updates you’re expecting.

      The best piece of advice I ever got is that everyone wants to feel important and everyone wants to help. Take advantage of that! Delegate work to the new manager to help him learn the project since he probably has a lot more time now to do that kind of work. You get bonus points if you delegate the stuff you don’t like to him (even if it’s only for a little while)! For example, if Sally can’t do Task B because it’s contingent on Task A, ask him to find out what’s going on with Task A.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have been that supervisor who needed the orientation to the work and guidelines for managing the people.

      I think that it’s good to realize you have two topics: the work it’s self and the management responsibilities.

      The work it’s self. I had to know what the tolerances were. What is allowed to pass as okay and what is a no-go. I’d rather hear it from my boss than my people. (I did end up learning some of it from my people, but I wanted my boss as the primary lead for this info.) I also needed orientation for resources that I was supposed to provide those under my watch so they could have what they needed on a day-to-day basis.

      Management responsibilities. Sometimes a person just needs to talk about basic management skills and guidelines. But other times the person needs a clear message about what TPTB expect from that person’s subordinates. Don’t skip this part. In my setting management expected them to be exactly on time. (I’ll avoid the big discussion on that and cut to the point.) I had to tell my people that my bosses were clock watchers. If they wanted the job they had to be on time every day. Now I said it much nicer than what i have written here, but I got the point across so that my subordinates knew this is what is expected from them. Teach your manager what to tell their subordinates so that the subordinates AND the manager succeed. These are things that can be unspoken but expected parts of the company culture. OR these things could be just norms for your arena that are not obvious to beginners.

      1. TechWorker*

        Thank you! Maybe not clear but the new manager is coming from elsewhere in the company, so I’m not *too* worried about culture type stuff, but he will no doubt have new/different management challenges, and there’s a lot of project context to get up to speed with.

  12. Cup of Tea then Woosah*

    Happy New Year. Had my annual review yesterday. I’m an individual contributor. Received all exceed expectations and 2 stellars. But. New manager of 6 months also added: Not promotable. Why? Says he can see me getting potential non performing employee a cup of tea and allowing them to talk versus just letting them go. Said I’m a strong leader, popular among peers and other department leaders, but “I don’t know just too nice and woosah for the team of managers I’m trying to build.”

    I’ve worked here for 3.5 years and helped create and support a top performing junior team. When asked previous manager about promotions while helping create the team, I received a hefty raise and bonus but was told no room for growth at the time. She moved to another department 6 months ago.

    New manager was hired from outside and very chummy with grand boss. They used to work together at previous company. I’ve always had a professional friendly relationship with grand boss but she’s been distant over past 6 months. This has all been new and surprising to me. I did not sign or discuss the review in the moment and instead asked if we could review again in 2 weeks to give me time to consider and reflect on the feedback.

    Truthfully I do feel the things he said about me are true but I am assertive when I need to be and my manager and grand boss can both attest to that. I need to think about my next move here, unemotionally. I like the culture and fit in well. I like most of my current duties, my team, value the company’s mission, but shocked at facing the prospect that I’m seen as a leader but not management material. I desire to be a manager and realize it’s a different skill set. I was under an amazing manager for 3 years.

    It hurts to know there’s no other room for advancement and I may need to look outside of a company I thought I would be at for a very long time.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hope Alison has time to read today because I’d love to hear her take on this. I’m remembering discussions about how to _request_ management training. We don’t burst out of Zeus’s skull knowing how to run things, there’s skills to learn that can be taught.
      I have skimmed past these because technical project management is more my thing than people management. I’m sorry I can’t remember well enough to find a specific link for you.

    2. ten-four*

      Your manager is bad and should feel bad. Go ahead and be emotional for a minute, because that’s the most infuriating pile of sexist nonsense I’ve heard all day. Regardless of your/your manager’s gender the idea that a supportive, collaborative management style is too “nice” for their ideal manager team is old fashioned and not borne out by data. Shoot, you’ve already demonstrated that your teams are high performing! Grrr.

      Okay, for tactical next steps: Your excellent manager moved to another department, which suggests that your company is big enough that you could potentially move elsewhere and get out from under this clown of a manager. In the immediate term, is there a lateral move you could make? Any chance you could follow your original manager?

      Even with a lateral move, your grandboss is being cool to you and is chums with your idiot current manager, and even under your excellent manager you were denied a promotion. You are completely correct that this is not a company that will support your growth (and even if they did, their ideas about good management are suspect at best). You will indeed need to leave in order to advance to the next step and beyond.

      The good news is that there’s no immediate pressure to leave. So I’d take stock of your upcoming year, figure out what work/certifications/etc you can take on to polish up your resume, and start the job hunt. Make the mental switch from “their goals” to “your goals” – what do YOU want to learn/achieve before you go? That way even if the job hunt takes a while you’ll still be building up your skills.

      I’m sorry, that’s a real bummer.

    3. voyager1*

      Okay, a few things.
      1. Not signing the review doesn’t mean much, but telling them you need to reflect on it was good.

      2. Honestly I would see this as a gift. Your manager was very honest with you and now you know how he feels about people on the team. If talking to “lower performing people” is not cut throat enough for him then do you really want to work with him?

      3. I would get the ole resume warmed up. I get this is upsetting but your boss was honest with you (even if it is a jerky perspective).

    4. Bobina*

      I know it sucks, and I’m probably biased from reading too many stories here where people are strung along for years, but I’d be glad for feedback like that because it tells you that this company is not the one for you. And certainly not with your current manager – because that feedback he gave was absolute nonsense. Non promotable because you got someone a tea and talked to them? That is completely ridiculous FYI.

      So take a few days to lick your wounds. Discuss the feedback if you want. But I suggest emotionally disengaging from this company. Start working on your resume and planning your exit. Do your job well, but dont give any extra. Take the time to find a company that really fits what you want – and then leave. Take heart from all the Friday good news letters from people who thought it couldnt be any better – and then found out it could!

    5. Observer*

      You say you like the culture, but it sounds to me like the culture may be changing, and not in good ways.

      Maybe I’m reading too much in to this, but your new manager does not sound like the kind of person I would want to work for or with.

    6. RC Rascal*

      Here is my read on the situation: Your company doesn’t see you as management material and they aren’t going to tell you why. Managers have opinions and they aren’t always correct. Nevertheless, at this organization you are at a dead end. Here is what I would do:

      Seek out a volunteer organization that will let you lead something. A committee, a project, and event, whatever. It will give you a taste of leadership as well as some experience managing people. You will find out you actual aptitude for management, and may get some useful feedback from the organization and peers there.

      Secondly, put a resume together and look for another job that will allow you to move into management. Specifically say that as you interview and demonstrate your commitment to that goal by talking about volunteer leadership, and any leadership opportunities you have been able to create for yourself at present job.

      If it helps, it is possible to be a respected employee and not really be management material. I managed someone like this once. He was beloved, respected, and incredibly popular both in the industry and our company. When he retired he won 2 industry achievement awards. The problem? He was everyone’s friend. And his reports and their customers were taking advantage of that. Instead of managing them and making them produce, they were distracting him with conversations about golf and grandkids.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds to me like they wanted to plug their own person into the job and just gave you a line of bs to push you out of the way. Not much consolation, but it’s not about you. They would have done that to anyone who asked as they had a person already lined up.

      Maybe I am reading this wrong, that could be. But it sounds like their excuse is, “We won’t promote you because you won’t be able to fire people.”
      UHHHH…. is there a lot of firing going on? Is this something you will have to do daily or weekly?
      It’s an odd thing to say.
      It seems to me that if you are instructed to fire a person and you don’t, then that is insubordination. You’re hosed. So I am not getting why this is a bfd. As far as firing an individual they should be able to talk you through the process and you’d just follow the steps. All I can think of here is, if they know they CANNOT teach you then they also know you will not learn. Their own weakness is biting them, if this is the case.

      Maybe you are of too much value in your current position and they fear that the next person would not even come close to what you are doing.

      Grieve the loss. I’ve cried over stuff similar to this. Ya know, after the tears/grief we can find new parts of ourselves. Dig down into your internal reserves. Perhaps you can eventually decide that you enjoyed your time there for what it was or find a similar thought that buoys you back up again. I’d love to hear in a while that you got a new job with that management promotion this company said you could not do.

    8. Kt*

      This sounds gendered to be but I’m not sure you mentioned your gender. But it’s definitely the nice = weak dynamic at work.

      If you want to stay, consider looking at Laura Huang’s book Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, as Huang explicitly talks about trying to use stereotypes and misconceptions to your advantage. (Somewhat disturbing example: she had some teacher or professor who insisted on thinking that English was her second language simply because of her heritage, and gave her poor grades on her writing until she wrote some stuff about overcoming her challenges with English or some bs, at which point the prof turned to heaping praise and giving her As. It’s sort of an icky situation… But given that you’re subject to your boss’s prejudices here, is using those prejudices to your advantage an avenue to explore?)

    9. Cup of Tea then Woosah*

      Thank you for your replies. Yesterday, I ran into former manager at the grocery market. I saw her look at me, half turn as if to go in the other direction, then turned back towards me and say Oh hey. Ouch. Yes, I’m done here. Your replies and this incidence gave me all the useful info needed to know this is no longer my (second) home.

  13. B Wayne*

    I know I get a little cranky sometimes when I comment and I suppose that is because I was laid off in April. Since I was right at 66.0, I waited until my birthday and just “retired” with full SS benefits. COVID retired I suppose. But I do wish everyone a wonderful New Year and hope things finally start to get back to a more normal routine. I also wish everyone and their families and relatives, especially the older folks (my dad will be 93 in six weeks and had a few respiratory issues and hospital stay last week) the best of health and best of luck weathering the latest with COVID. It will be worse before it is better and better will ramp up slowly.

    1. Nynaeve*

      I’m sorry you were laid off, but I hope it was only a rough beginning to a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Time to look for your next gig. Retirement is a moment, that is all. What would you like to do with your time now?
      This could be volunteering, working part time, developing a new hobby or whatever. What puts a smile on your face?

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 to Nynaeve’s comment. May you enjoy good health and satisfying activities in retirement.

  14. Cringe*

    I work on a small team of all women admins. When the janitor comes into the office for any reason, he shouts, “Hello my beautiful women! How are my beautiful women doing?” He raises his arms skyward and makes a big show of it, like he’s gracing us with his presence or something. It makes me cringe every time. I’m realizing that all the guys who have harassed me at work or been creepy were janitors, and maintenance and mail room workers. Is that common for anyone else?

    1. Cabin Fever*

      Mine have been a mix! To paraphrase Ratatouille, not everyone can become a chauvinist, but a chauvinist can come from anywhere.

      That “beautiful women” greeting would drive me absolutely up the wall.

    2. Batgirl*

      We used to have a guy called Geoff they hired out of the YMCA- I don’t even know what for, to lift heavy things for under minimum wage I think? It’s good to hire someone who is homeless but not so good to underpay someone like that. Low pay comes with low expectations and so when he sang “Sally up our alley” at my colleague Sally we were supposed to just shrug at it. Mostly his cluelessness was funny in the middle of the day, but I remember myself and another female colleague saying we were a bit uncomfortable with him sometimes (being serenaded: awkwerrd!) late at night and then a male colleague scoffing that we were prejudiced against the homeless. Spoiler: said colleague ended up being skeeve-y central with yours truly. He just had never bothered considering female discomfort.

      1. Confused Single Mom*

        I’m not sure what you mean by “low pay comes with low expectations”. I think low expectations and inappropriate behavior comes at all pay levels. I have seen low paid workers be far more professional and appropriate than workers making six figures.

        1. Batgirl*

          It means that the deal was illegal. That’s what I meant by underpaying. We were all working class but this one person was under the table.

        2. Batgirl*

          Oh and just in case it wasn’t obvious from my first description, Geoff honestly was just clueless. That’s how come they could take advantage of him financially (they paid him the odd tenner and pat on the head), and it’s one reason they weren’t interested in managing him. They were quite happy with the bargain. Let the women manage the situation. The other reason was the senior men were deliberately skeevy and saw no issue.

    3. Batgirl*

      I would get some fun out of rehearsing my reaction to this. It’s been a while since I dusted off my “chronically bored” expression. Or responded to something flatly with “OK” or “Anyway…”

      1. pancakes*

        Why not be more direct and ask someone like this to stop commenting on women’s appearances? It’s a perfectly reasonable request.

        1. Cringe*

          Then you get lectured on how they’re “just being nice” and how you should be grateful for the “compliment.” People who say these types of things aren’t reasonable people so they don’t react well to reasonable requests.

          1. pancakes*

            I agree that reasonable dudes don’t need to be asked not to leer, etc., but I also don’t think that means it should never be a talked about when it happens. If they want to turn it into a lecture, that’s a great cue to interrupt and say, “I understand it’s not your intention to make [me/us] uncomfortable but it does, and that’s why I’m asking you to stop.”

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Which is not a reason to not say anything. The guy is making the woman uncomfortable, so she’s entitled to make him feel uncomfortable. She’s entitled not to be serenaded if she doesn’t want such attention, and she can point out that it’s really not at all appropriate in a professional setting. That should be the end of the story, and if it isn’t, it’s time to make a big fuss and make everyone else especially all higher-ups feel even more uncomfortable.

        2. Batgirl*

          I agree! I have also done so if that’s what I wanted to do. Though I have been in situations where reasonable/direct wasn’t an option and I assume one of the (sadly, common) blockers to women being straightforward was in play. If OP felt able to say “Please don’t” or “Can you not” easily, I assume she would have done so. Besides, we have to do this SO OFTEN (and lets not pretend it’s not a drag even when it’s accepted as reasonable) that I am happy to leave obvious advice to others and coaching to managers. The easiest thing for me to do is to just let my face show its feelings.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not sure we do agree. I certainly wasn’t trying to suggest that it’s not a drag to have to have these conversations! It’s not obvious to me that any sort of direct request to stop was made in this instance. I wouldn’t assume it was.

            1. Batgirl*

              Well if you read what I said about it “wasn’t an option” so I assumed that it was NOT made, not that “it was”, so that’s where your misunderstanding of what I said has come in I think.

  15. MissGirl*

    The astronaut letter got me to thinking that I don’t have any big career dreams. And, even if I did, I’m far too rational and to risk-adverse to actually pursue them. Then the day after I read that letter, I received troubling news that my late-thirties neighbor had a massive heart attack and was on a ventilator (now recovering, thank God).

    The thing is that this neighbor, despite being a single mom, went back to school and started her own interior design business. A lot of people told her (and I thought) that this was a risky endeavor and she should do something more practical. All I could think hearing the news was how amazing she was to take a big risk and how happy she’d been doing it.

    I know on this blog we are more practical and for good reason. A dream should never come at the expense of someone else and it pays to be realistic. My friend did have an inheritance to help her along the way and I don’t want to discount that privilege. But what if we were more like the wannabe astronaut? Dreaming big and taking our shot while still being practical about our chances.

    What’s your big, crazy career dream?

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      I love this post because i think about stuff like this a lot so im glad im not the only one. Im also risk-averse and also very comfortable in my job. Two years ago, I took up resin casting as a hobby and eventually opened an etsy store, mostly so that my house doesnt become over run with trinkets. As i feel my body slowly break down from years of very active massage work, i know there is an expiration date on my career so i day dream about being a full time artist and it doesn’t really get more risky than that. :)

    2. New Senior Mgr*

      To run a small sustainable children’s nonprofit. There, I said it out loud. Feels good.

    3. MissGirl*

      I want to buy a bunch of land close to a national park in my state and put in bunch of tiny homes and rent out to tourists. This is more an early retirement dream.

    4. Bobina*

      Get an awesome job with enough authority that I can tell people what to do and make lots of money. Do that for about 5 years while investing smartly. Have enough money to move to a part time schedule – something like 3 days a week or only work for a few months a year. Then be able to spend large portions of the year travelling or living somewhere warm. Maybe do some kind of volunteer work or set up some kind of really well run non-profit that does something with refugees/women/the environment and helps make the world a better place.

      Some of this is inspired by an old colleague who worked as a consultant and basically worked a 3-4 day week for about 6 months of the year, then took the rest of the year off, and also worked remotely a lot of the time from some nice warm islands. The irony is he consulted for the company that had laid him off then realized they needed his knowledge – he had the joy of getting paid more and only working on his terms. Living the dream as far as I’m concerned!

    5. OyHiOh*

      I want my boss’s job when he retires in around five years or so. Executive Director of a non profit/quasi government org.

      I need to finish my Bachelor’s degree (the job description has minimum education requirement, thank you federal government) but otherwise, should have the kinds of experience needed, if my present position continues its current trajectory.

    6. Dan*

      So… in terms of risk… I’m a math guy by education, but I learned so much more about risk by becoming a half-way decent poker player. Pretty much every action a poker player takes is a calculated risk. Even folding a hand is a calculation that the player can’t win the hand, even if there is a small chance they could.

      There are some (if not many) actions where the risk is reasonably well understood, and the best action for me to take is the action that maximizes the expected value given the information I have *right now*. There are times where one can have a “made” hand, and the opponent is drawing to a stronger hand, but there are only one or two cards in the deck that can make the opponent’s hand stronger and can beat you. You know what? In those situations, it’s almost always better to bet as much money as you think your opponent will match, and if he beats you, so be it. But more often than not, you will win. When you don’t, that doesn’t mean your play was bad, sometimes you’re just unlucky. And so goes the poker table, so goes life.

      In the context of the astronaut letter, what was the risk? Best I could tell, it was just an application. Now, if that application came with a steep fee, or perhaps required the applicant to already be a civilian pilot, and one pursued the pilot training for the sole purpose of becoming an astronaut, then we’d have to talk about whether the risk was worth it.

      I took many calculated risks when I was younger, some panned out, and some didn’t. But because my risks were calculated, those that didn’t pan out weren’t wastes, and in fact, helped the more successful ones actually succeed. And when I have to answer those “tell me about yourself” questions, I get quite a few “wow, that’s really interesting” responses.

      I have the *job* I want, that I got through those calculated risks. When I post about it, I inevitably get several “um, are you hiring? How do I get that job?”

      As a crazy career dream? I’m old enough now where some doors are fully and completely shut. So if we’re talking about things that have a non-zero chance of panning out? I want to become a nationally recognized expert in my field. I did tell my last manager that, and his response was “keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll probably get there.”

    7. RagingADHD*

      I did my crazy big career dream first – moved to NYC to pursue acting. It’s a lot easier to take big risks like that when you’re young, healthy & single. Particularity in an industry that is so all-consuming.

      It was personally very rewarding in terms of having amazing experiences and learning a lot, but career wise, the learning curve on navigating show business was too long for me – right about the time I figured it out & had a decent network, I got sick of the lifestyle and wanted a real home & a real family. And I wanted to stop considering eating disorders as a normal cost of doing business.

      I’d actually probably have a much better chance now if I returned to it, because I have a less idealistic mindset. And there’s less competition in my current age/type niche. But…ugh. No thank you. The downsides outweigh the upsides for me now.

      My career now (writing) is a big dream for a lot of people. I really like it (even though writing for other people pays much better than writing for myself), but I REALLY like having work that is a positive part of my life, instead of my whole life.

      1. Aubrey*

        Ack, I feel this! My big dream is to work in museums (as a collections manager/curator). I made the mistake of falling in love when I took an internship during undergrad, but unfortunately I graduated at 27, and it can take a lot of years to find financial stability in that field (not to mention even more years of education). Now that I’m finally out of school and not living the ramen noodle lifestyle anymore, I just can’t stomach the thought of spending my 30s in the same kind of anxiety-ridden poverty I did my 20s. I want to buy a house, spend actual time with my friends and family, and have other things in my life!

        Very glad to hear that you found something else satisfying, and it sounds like it’s much healthier too!

    8. KoiFeeder*

      I want to be the person that does the CGI reconstructions of dinosaurs.

      I also like money, though, so I sympathize with you.

    9. Quint*

      For context, I’m a scientist (currently in graduate school). My big career dream is to discover/develop a cure for the family of diseases I work on.

    10. AnonForThis*

      I started out wanting to be an astrophysicist, which is not the standard dream of a fourteen year old. I’ve actually made it most of the way – it turned out that I’m not well suited to faculty positions (the long term project planning and publication stresses), but I do well at more technical project based work, and have a reasonably stable full time job on the software end of big projects.

      From watching the academic process into middle age, my views on having big crazy dreams are as follows…

      1) Have a backup plan, and a maintenance plan. How are you going to pay for food and shelter while pursuing your dream? If you don’t get what you want, what can you do next?

      2) Be realistic about what is needed. If you’re a solid B average in undergrad, you’re not going to get into a good grad school, and your chances of getting a faculty job in the end are really, really, low. If you want to start a restaurant, being a great cook is only a small part – you need business acumen, the ability to work 18 hour days, and at least a year’s expenses in the bank. Understand the cost of failure (there’s a difference between giving up and moving on to something different, and ending up declaring bankruptcy with ruined health).

      3) Priorities change with time. “I want financial stability, work life balance, and/or a family” is a perfectly fine reason to change goals.

      4) If you’re unhappy with your life/job, don’t stick it out for years of misery in the slim hopes of a big break. I see this in academia – people who have spent a decade or more in temporary positions, hoping to get a faculty job, are bitter and resentful and are unlikely to get the job that they actually want (or don’t want the jobs they’re competitive for) but refuse to move on. The people who decided they like the job they have and settle to it, or say %#@^ this and moved on are generally much more content.

    11. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I’m actually thinking I’d like to retire to the country, with enough land to have a serious vegetable garden, with hens for eggs, and just continue freelancing to supplement all that.

  16. ThatGirl*

    I sent this to Alison a few weeks ago for the Friday good news, but I’m not sure if she saw it, so here’s the short version: I was laid off the week before thanksgiving, and four weeks to the day later I got a new job offer! It’s a similar role to what I was doing before, at a company that grew in 2020, and everyone I talked to spoke highly of the company and its culture. And I’ll be making roughly 18% more. I start Jan. 11!

    1. Dan*

      Congrats. It’s interesting… for me, losing a job has never been fun, but when it’s happened, it’s ultimately been for the better.

      1. ThatGirl*

        In all honesty, I knew my last job was something of a dead end, while I mostly liked it there wasn’t really room for advancement. But given everything else going on I wasn’t in a big rush to move on. Getting laid off sucked, but mostly I was astonished at how quickly the new job fell into place.

  17. Llama face!*

    Discussion question: What has changed for you after this past year in regard to your work? Could be a change of attitude, priorities, a realization that you want to change fields, a better way of getting things done, or anything else.

    For me, it was a realization of just how badly my dysfunctional workplace had been burning me out- even before 2020 and all its drama. I had been low-key contemplating a change of job but also wanted to move and hadn’t decided where to go so all my plans were on a very low back burner for the last 5ish years. There was no sense of urgency. Now I realize that it would have been healthier to have gotten out before my workplace had such a deleterious effect on my wellbeing. But of course it’s hard to see when you are the slowly boiling frog in the pot!

    1. Anonforthis1*

      How much I like working from home! Don’t get me wrong, I miss going to the office and I am not someone who could work remotely 100%, but I could do it 2 days a week.

      I started a new job January 2020 that required a long commute so I knew I was going to work from home more often here than at my last job. I hated WFH at my last job and I realize now it’s because a) I didn’t have a dedicated space in my home to work from home and b) the culture and mindset at OldJob was “butts in seats” traditional and conservative. OldJob intentionally made WFH painful because they didn’t want anyone to request it…and it was an IT organization! CurrentJob embraced WFH since the early days in tech and capability, and it’s essential to the mission, and employee wellbeing, to be so flexible about WFH.

      1. Llama face!*

        I had the same realization about wfh when my workplace had to temporarily go virtual in the spring. I always thought I wouldn’t be very well-suited for wfh since I needed the external framework of my workplace to keep me on task. But much to my surprise I thrived while at home! In fact I was more productive than while at the office to the extent that I think I was annoying my boss by asking for more work too often.

        Re: IT. When we were ordered to return to our office they also ordered our local IT person back, despite their job being entirely able to be done from home (someone else deals with hardware so it was all database work) and despite them requesting to remain at home due to higher health risks. Glad to hear your new workplace is not like mine!

      2. Nicki Name*

        Same here about WFH. I used to believe I couldn’t WFH long-term because I needed the context of being in the office to keep me focused. Turns out that in my best job ever, where the work is interesting and interactions with my direct teammates and boss are all positive… no problem!

      3. Dan*

        In general, I’ve adapted to working from home much better than I thought. But… I’m not looking forward to splitting time in the office with time at home, at least given my current living arrangement.

        I’m a computer programmer and I live in a one bedroom apartment. I do not code on my laptop screen (too small) and I have the laptop hooked up to a full size keyboard, mouse and monitor with a docking station. I don’t live far from my office (about a 20 minute commute) so the commute itself doesn’t bother me. Space being what it is, I’d rather just go into the office five days a week and get my dining room table back for dining activities.

        I didn’t/don’t plan on renting the same place forever, but if I have to work from home regularly, I really need a more appropriate and dedicated space for it, which means getting into a bigger place a bit sooner than I might otherwise would have.

        Some people have nice big houses and the space (and privacy) to WFH already, and live far from the office to get that space affordably. But some of us live in smaller places closer to the down town core of the metro area, because, um we thought our employer would provide and pay for us to have a dedicated space to work. So having to pay for more space just to work comes with a cost.

        1. Llama face!*

          The right space to work in is really a make or break factor. When I was sent home I was lucky enough to have a dedicated office space already but I know some of my coworkers really struggled with that. And if it’s going to be longer term or permanent of course you want a decent ergonomic setup so you don’t end up with back or wrist or neck issues. Like you say, that isn’t something everyone just easily has available!

          Is your workplace offering any financial contribution for your home setup? It would seem reasonable to have at least an initial home office equipment allowance of some kind but I know that’s not always feasible (and may not solve space issues).

      4. allathian*

        Same here about WFH. I could easily see myself going to the office one or two days a week and WFH the rest of the time.

        I like getting things done, and I do. But I’ve realized I’m never going to be a rockstar and if I try, it’ll drive me into burnout. So I’ve accepted that while some projects need me to go above and beyond, I won’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’ve realized that because my employer won’t raise my salary if I go above and beyond, I’ll tootle along for now. I work for the government in the Nordics and while I can be laid off for financial reasons or because they decide to do away with my job description completely, they can’t fire me and hire someone else to do the same job unless I do something truly egregious or criminal. As long as I get “meets expectations” in my performance reviews, my job is as safe as any job ever. Even if I start failing, there’ll be plenty of warning before my job is in any danger. If I want a higher salary, I’m going to have to look elsewhere because there’s no room for promotion in my current job unless I become a manager, and that’s something I’ve decided I don’t want to do. In the meantime, it’s okay to just be comfortable in my job.

        1. Llama face!*

          That’s insightful. It is a type of wisdom gained when you make the choice about how much energy you are willing to give to your job and then set boundaries around that. Knowing what you do, it will be easier to identify if or when you are ready to move on- and if you do, you will be going into the job search while healthy and not burnt out.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      Oh man, for me it has been all of the above! Ive been with my company for almost 7 years and a manager for 5 of them and with most smaller businesses, the managers wear many hats and the nature of my position meant that i essentially had to be available 7 days a week to take emergency calls, time sensitive questions, etc. It truly was like being a frog in a hot pot and i didnt realize how non-existent my work/life balance was until the shut down.

      I was furloughed for 8 weeks and while im so thankful the business survived, the attitude of some of the upper management about covid was concerning to say the least. Also having that time to truly disconnect from work made me realize how burned out i was.

      I have considered changing jobs, changing careers, selling my house and becoming a mountain hermit and everything in between. So i can relate really hard to everything your post said haha.

      Ultimately i decided to stay with my company but step down as a manager. I love my coworkers and clients and I feel that the company took good steps to keep everyone safe, but knowing some of their personal view points and watching them question employee motives, etc really damaged the relationship. In the spa business, the devil you know is way better than the one you dont so i decided to stay on. If i leave it will likely be due to changing careers which i may have to do anyways as my job is very physical and im getting old and creaky…or ill do the mountain hermit thing.

      So, sorry for being long winded but this tempestuous year was probably the gut check i needed to start taking care of myself and figure out my next moves.

      Btw, not being a manager has been really awesome. My job feels so easy now that i can just focus on my favorite part (providing services). Every time there is drama or problems or whatever i get to quietly tell myself, “not my circus, not my monkeys” and it feels great!

      OP- did you end up changing jobs or decide where you might want to move?

      1. Llama face!*

        Glad you could make some better choices for yourself, Holly the spa pro! I enjoy hearing the details and don’t think it’s long-winded. :)

        I am still in the midst of figuring out my current situation but it will likely involve a new job (and probably moving closer to family) at some point this year. I am dealing with some difficult health issues stemming from burnout and chronic stress at the moment so I’m not able to start working on any of that quite yet. For now I’m concentrating on recovery. Thankfully I do have the privilege of a family safety net so if things got desperate I could count on them. And I live in a country where there is a possibility of some government support to tide me over for a little while if I end up without income for a while.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          Fresh starts like having a new job and moving can be really liberating but dealing with health situations first is really smart! Im glad that you have a support system in place. Best of luck to you!

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I realized how burned out I was at my job, and that it was time for me to leave. I was just done with it. It took me a while to understand that even if things did change there (which was unlikely), I wasn’t going to feel better about it. I was fortunate to find another job that is a promotion and a 25% pay raise. I start on Monday!

      1. Llama face!*

        “…even if things did change there (which was unlikely), I wasn’t going to feel better about it.” is an apt description. I know that feeling!

        Congratulations on the new better job!

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Literally everything changed for me…I was laid off in January, had a fabulous offer for a new job rescinded due to covid in March, interviewed relentlessly for months and months, and finally settled for a job several levels below anything I expected (essentially I’m one step above entry level, after about a decade in management.) Along the way, I learned that while I need to work for my own sanity, I had been burning the candle at both ends for so long that stepping “backwards” has allowed me to create a much better life balance. I may decide to re-climb the corporate ladder, but for now it’s nice to log off after 8 hours and focus on myself and my family.

      1. Llama face!*

        It seems like there’s a recurring theme from commenters: Recognizing and respecting our own need for balance and making changes to better prioritize our own wellbeing over career demands or expectations.
        Something I also need to take to heart this year!

    5. Being WAY too honest*

      A…lot, really.

      Mostly, I’ve realized just how toxically positive my workplace is.

      1) We held an in-person all-hands meeting the week after Rudy Gobert Day (or Tom Hanks Day, whatever you call it) to explain what was going on with COVID and not to panic, everything would be fine. Our state implemented our SAH order on March 20.

      In late April, an employee (who was under 40) passed away from COVID. I’m still haunted to this day by whether he was infected at work, or whether he’d inadvertently infected others.

      1a) We’re small enough that I’m on a first-name basis with the president. He tried to cheer me up on St. Patrick’s Day by calling me into his office and playing cheerful music. Nearly 20,000 deaths in our state later: it didn’t work.

      2) We have wellness checks when we come in. I try to be a good role model, so I filled them out every day. One day – around the time of the Jacob Blake shooting – I said I was slightly more anxious than usual (basically, a 6/10 when I was normally a 5/10). I ended up spending 10 minutes trying to dodge questions about my ~*~Feelings~*~ that week because it was a concern that after being relatively even I had a small bump.

      I stopped answering after that. No one’s noticed.

      3) Recent, but…we have an elaborate cover story for why another staff member is out (they’re really out because of the ‘rona, but we don’t want to ~*~scare people~*~). Like, it’s way more elaborate than it needs to be.

      1. Llama face!*

        Wow. That sounds like a special kind of hell. Kudos to you for making it through almost a year of that.

        Also, how elaborate are we talking? Like on a scale of “the dog ate my homework” to “plot of a spanish soap opera”…

    6. Anonx2*

      I hate a part of my role – being on a call queue. There is history of working these types of jobs in the past and I’m just done with it and any type of butts in seat or close supervision roles. Over it and getting out and far away from it in 2021.

  18. Different username than my usual today*

    I’ve thought of writing in with this but I’m not really sure which aspect of my problem to focus on here. I hope this isn’t too long!
    A few months ago I left my job of almost three years to deal with a severe fatigue disorder. I’ve dealt with fatigue issues for years but mostly was able to manage. But for the last six-ish months of my employment it started to veer out of control and my work declined significantly- I tried to work with HR to see if I could take an unpaid LOA to try and get a proper diagnosis and get a handle on things, but the best they could do was let me switch to an 80% position (at 80% pay of course). I tried to make that work, but my workload stayed the same and eventually I knew I had to resign or I’d end up getting fired, and I preferred to leave when I was still a little stable and hadn’t completely tanked my professional credibility.
    Currently I’m doing a lot better- still working on a more complete diagnosis and treatment, but a few months away have done wonders for my energy levels. I’m now looking for a new job.
    For most of my tenure at that job I got along quite well with my manager- she’d given me consistently positive feedback and we communicated well and got along socially. When my health took a turn, she paid lip service to being supportive, but in practice she turned extremely chilly with me and did not really provide any practical support, even when my workload was supposed to be reduced. And now she’s a completely unusable reference- I reached out to her and she made it clear that she intends to speak very poorly of me to anyone who contacts her. I did reluctantly provide her info to one place that insisted, and what had been a pretty promising candidacy tanked on a dime, so I’m not doing that again. I’d rather withdraw my candidacy than have someone speak to her.
    I’m really frustrated because for the majority of the time I worked with her, we had a really good dynamic. I’m a solid employee, not a rock star, but I’m not looking for rock star jobs here! I wish she’d be honest and provide the full picture- that I was solid until my health declined, and then when my work declined I made the decision to leave. Has anyone had a situation like this where a reference that by all means should be your best one turned radioactive? Any advice on how to deal with something like this? For now when it comes up I do my best to present the situation candidly and fairly, and I don’t speak poorly of the manager. I’d like to. I feel betrayed and furious, but I take the diplomatic route and just say that due to the circumstances our dynamic became contentious without laying any blame. I am open about the fact that my work declined and why (I keep it vague and just say “medical issues”) and I make it clear that I only began job hunting once I became confident that my health is at a point where I can perform highly again.
    A second semi-related question: I initially started out looking for strictly part-time work, so that I have extra time to manage my fatigue issues. Right now I have two really promising prospects. One is a part-time job where the nature of the work would be higher stress, more multitasking, and with a smaller support structure (no one else in my role, I’d be the first that company hired). The other one is full time, but the work would be a much deeper focus on a much narrower scope of responsibility, way less multitasking and having to figure out how to juggle conflicting priorities, plus a good sized team with an existing workflow that already operates smoothly. Both of them have their appeal (the first one would be an adventure and a great chance to stretch professionally and break new ground! The second one would be way lower pressure and much less likely to burn me out, but it’s also more work hours). Assuming that I miraculously get offers from both, I’m very conflicted about which one I prefer. Any opinions? Especially if anyone here is used to working with limited energy reserves and needing to allocate spoons carefully!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Are you outside the US? Small employer? I would have thought that this would be an FMLA situation.

      1. Different username than my usual today*

        Yeah, I’m outside the US. My country does have something of that nature but you have to have a diagnosis of some kind in order to qualify, and at the time I did not. On the flipside, in my country health insurance is not determined by your employer, so at least my health care coverage hasn’t been impacted!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Catch-22. You need a diagnosis to get time off, but time off to get a diagnosis.
          And I’m now second-guessing myself and wondering if FMLA handles that Catch-22 any better.

    2. Jay*

      Can’t answer the reference question. On the second: do not underestimate the role of mental and emotional stress in fatigue and burnout. I’ve had the same experience you did with a part-time position turning out to be full-time work for part-time pay. If you take the part-time job, you’ll need a very clear plan to keep that from happening and ideally would be able to discuss that with the hiring manager. If they haven’t had someone in that role before, how do they know it’s really part-time?

      Only you know which scenario sounds the most stressful and most likely to have a negative impact on your health. If you have a supportive practitioner (therapist, doc, physical therapist – could be any role if they really get you) that could be a fruitful conversation. If you have a supportive friend or partner who can give you some feedback, that might also help. My husband and I have done that for each other. We’ve been together a long time and seen each other through some seriously toxic work situations. He knows what’s hardest for me and vice versa, and sometimes it’s easier for me to see red flags for him than for myself.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Do you have a diagnosis now? If so, I wonder if you could speak to your grandboss or someone higher up, and ask them to either be your reference, or ask them to direct your manager to be more measured in her response to inquiries.

      That might not work, but it sounds like you don’t have much to lose in terms of your manager’s current responses.

    4. RagingADHD*

      For the reference, obviously you want to avoid giving her info. But if you can’t, I’d frame it up front by being honest:

      “We had a great working relationship for many years, but when my health declined, my decreased productivity spoiled her opinion of me. She’s made it clear that any reference she gives will reflect her assessment of my work while I was ill, not the work I was doing before. So if you contact her, please keep that in mind.”

      For the new job, it’s hard to say. Are you naturally more introverted or extroverted? Do you find boredom draining and frustrating? What’s the commute like?

      For me, an environment that’s loud and chaotic is far more exhausting than a quiet one, regardless of hours or workload. For my extreme-extrovert husband, too much quiet time sucks the life right out of him and he gets a lot of energy from being with people.

      Another consideration is boundaries. Being the first hire at a small business means you may well wind up working fulltime hours for part-time pay. Whereas a larger more established business is more likely to stay structured. But those are just general trends, and there are many exceptions.

      It’s difficult to know. Best of luck in choosing!

  19. Mimmy*

    Happy New Year everyone!!

    I have a site question: What’s the easiest way to search for your own posts in the Open Threads? I know how to search WITHIN a thread but what about searching multiple threads at once? I have some burning questions but I want to make sure I didn’t ask something similar already lol.

    1. Annie Moose*

      There really isn’t a way to do that, unfortunately. You can use some Google search tricks to make it a little easier, but that’s about it. Here’s what I’d suggest:

      Adding “site:askamanager.org” will limit Google results to that specific URL. (you can also do something like “site:askamanager.org/2020” which will limit results to only pages under the 2020 directory, or “site:askamanager.org/2020/12” which will get all the posts from December 2020)

      Putting something in “quotation marks” will cause Google to do an exact search for that term. In this case, you could put “open thread” and “Mimmy” in your query and it will find every page with both the phrase “open thread” and the word “Mimmy” in them.

      So your full query would look something like this:

      site:askamanager.org “open thread” “Mimmy”

      or maybe

      site:askamanager.org/2020/12 “open thread” “Mimmy” “[word or phrase you want to search for]”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d suggest searching on your name with an asterisk because Alison’s put it in for searchability. ie “Mimmy*”. If you know it was work related, add Alison’s standard Friday phrase to your search. You may also be able to find some common phrase(s) to rope in the truly open holiday free-for-alls.

    2. Anima*

      Piggybacking: How can I find a comment again? I now I can search for it, but I keep forgetting how.
      There is this one comment from a few month ago that I really want to read the replies to and I *just can not find it*.

      1. PollyQ*

        Have you tried searching the site for “Anima” and any relevant keywords, e.g. ‘Anima possum quarterback’ if you were recounting your pet’s days in the XFL.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Also, once you find it, save/bookmark the parent comment link embedded in its timestamp so you can find it later.

  20. Anonforthis1*

    Would you tell your boss about having PMS/being on your period if there was context for it?

    My severe PMS symptoms have come roaring back since my BC lapsed two months ago. These symptoms are also COVID symptoms. And wouldn’t you know it, this month’s Lady Revenge is occurring the same time I am quarantining after being exposed to a COVID+ person. Even though we are working from home, I needed to take a couple days off work on sick leave because of the fatigue but didn’t know how to tell my boss. I didn’t want to tell her I was “under the weather” (which is my go-to when it’s PMS-related) in case it was COVID, but I didn’t want to tell her it was COVID without having the test to back it up.

    In the end, I told her I was exposed and was quarantining, but didn’t feel well and while my instinct said it wasn’t COVID, medical advice was to treat it as COVID till I test negative.

    1. Batgirl*

      I really like Alison’s standard advice to just say you’re sick and for the culture to be that people don’t pry. Or that a medical issue is flaring up and should be ok by x. It’s not the culture in my (UK and government) workplace though; there’s a specific requirement for them to ask and you to spell out the details.

    2. LQ*

      I think just “Not feeling well.” I’ve done “Not feeling well – it’s not COVID, just regular not well.” if people are being really weird about COVID. “Not well” should be entirely sufficient to take days off, but some people right now fully believe they are entitled to your medical information due to COVID. But you can just brush that off the table and say “Not well, not covid, but will be on sick leave today.” and still avoid details.

      I would absolutely not tell my boss about PMS.

    3. ....*

      Personally I have, since I work with mostly women and it’s obvious that I get super sick one day a month I have told people. Random but you said your BC lapsed, just wanted to throw out there that there are a lot of online prescribers like Nurx where you can get it prescribed and shipped super fast and they have generics that are cheap if your uninsured.

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

      I would lean on the ‘covid symptoms’ aspect and if the test comes back negative (as your gut tells you) … as I understand it there are a significant number of false positive and false negative tests.

      Interestingly I’ve suffered a lot with period/PMS related symptoms in the past which were alleviated with BC also, but they didn’t really overlap with covid symptoms except perhaps the high temperature (I’ve not actually taken my temp. during one of these hormonal outbreaks but did feel like it would probably be raised) – certainly the sense of smell and taste were heightened and didn’t have respiratory symptoms and so on. But I understand that it affects everyone differently.

    5. PT*

      I wouldn’t say it’s PMS, but given that it’s COVID-times, I’d mention it’s a chronic or recurring health issue you have. That way people know you’re not contagious.

      I once worked somewhere we were chronically short staffed, and there it was always appreciated if someone said “I’m under the weather, but don’t worry it’s nothing contagious,” because the minute something contagious worked its way into the building it would be three weeks of scrambling for coverage in waves as everyone took turns catching it and calling in sick.

  21. Connor (student needs advice!)*

    Thank you to everyone who gave advice on my post 2 weeks ago! I’ve successfully deferred my master’s program at “Kore” university. (And also have a therapy appointment lined up yay!)

    I have some new questions I hope everyone could help with again.

    Context:
    I’ve applied to some Masters programs and was accepted at Kore for the Spring 2021 semester. I’m waiting on decisions from some Fall 2021 schools I also applied to, so I deferred Kore to a Fall 2021 start date.

    Kore has an enrollment deadline on Feb 5th where I need to pay a $350 deposit to “finalize my admission”. This seems pretty early, especially since some of the schools have a Feb 5th application deadline!

    I’m hoping I can push some of the other schools to give me their decision earlier. But I don’t know the best way to go about asking (or if its even possible).

    Questions:
    1.What is the best way(s) to ask the admissions offices at the Fall schools to give me a decision before Feb 5th?
    2.What would be the consequences of breaking the enrollment offer with Kore to attend a different school? (I assume I will lose the deposit, but what else?)
    3.What does “finalize admission” mean exactly?

    1. WellRed*

      They want to know you’re committed otherwise they need to move on to the next person to fill the seat so they meet enrollment goals for the fall. Not sure why you think there would be any other consequences beyond losing the deposit? (I feel like you had a similar concern on your last post). It’s not a professional relationship where you might need a reference some day. There’s no relationship at all. What school do you actually want to attend?

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for your advice and for clarifying what the enrollment deadline is about! I didn’t grow up in an English-speaking country, and have been bitten before by making assumptions around formal language.
        I’ve definitely been feeling way more panicked and personal about this application process, so I appreciate the assurance that there is no actual relationship to worry about here and pointing out the main question that I need to answer.

      2. Wisco Disco*

        Well, in the OP’s defense, if an undergrad student goes the early-decision route, there are significant penalties for breaking the arrangement. So although it doesn’t sound like the OP is in that situation, I don’t blame them for being cautious.

    2. Libervermis*

      1. It’s very unlikely that the other schools will change their admissions decision timeline for you – if their application deadline is Feb 5, the chances that anyone has even looked at the materials before then is slim to none. You could try a “I’m excited about [specific element] of your program but am juggling some very different timelines from other programs, is there any chance of knowing the admissions decision before [date]?” Probably you’ll get back “sorry no”, at which point you respond “thank you” and that’s that.

      2 and 3. As WellRed said, this isn’t a professional or personal relationship. You can decide not to go to Kore whenever you decide that, you’ll lose the deposit, and they’ll offer the slot to the next person in line. From your post, it seems the whole situation feels very personal to you, and I assure you no one at any of the programs you’re thinking about feels the same way. They want good people, but mostly they want to fill a class to balance their budget/fulfill their internal obligations. As long as you’re polite and let them know as soon as you know things have changed (if you end up going to another program), no one is going to be bothered or likely even remember. That’s not meant to be dismissive, just meant to assure you that no one is worrying about it as much as you are.

      I echo WellRed’s question – do you want to go to Kore? Are you willing to lose $350 to keep Kore as a backup? Those are the two questions for you to answer.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for your advice! It was very reassuring, not at all dismissive.
        Stress and family pressure has definitely made this application process a Big Emotional Personal thing in my head. So I appreciate the reality check from third parties like you and WellRed, that A) this is not world-ending, the programs are not analyzing my every move. And that B) here are the important questions to focus on.

  22. Danuary Dones*

    Hi all! I’ve been reading AAM for a few months now but this is my first comment.
    My question is this (and I apologize if it has been asked before): does anyone have tips for starting a new position completely remotely? Especially when it comes to training?

    I’m starting my first real adult job after grad school on Monday, and the entire staff is currently working from home. I am definitely qualified for the position, but I have never actually done the work before and will be relying heavily on my manager to learn all the ropes. Does anyone have tips for learning a new role when you are working from home? At this point I’m planning to be proactive when I have questions and be patient with both myself and my manager. Any other ideas would be appreciated!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I posted a link that went to moderation for an October “ask the readers” letter titled ‘starting a new job when you’re working remotely’.

    2. ten-four*

      There is an open thread on this, but I started a fully remote job four years ago (!!) and my big takeaway is that it takes a lot longer to get the hang of things than in a face-to-face environment. There’s not a water cooler, you can’t sit with people at lunch or casually ask questions. Use the channels they give you to replicate that type of chatting/relationship, read up on the project/work files available to you to get a sense of how the company communicates and operates, and just be ready for it to take a while to settle in! My company sets up a buddy, and I hope yours does too – that helps speed things along.

      1. Danuary Dones*

        Thanks so much for your advice! A buddy system sounds great – I hope they have considered something like that

    3. Mystic*

      While I didn’t start my job off remotely, I know people who did at my current job…
      If you have an IM or something, maybe try to find someone that is willing to talk or could direct you to the right person.
      My team/unit also has virtual meetings, and I’ll IM my super if I need help, or ask for a call if I’m still not understanding something.

  23. yay2021:)*

    Happy new year everyone! What are your new years resolutions?

    Mine are to be more open and honest, to take more pictures (and get over that fear) for commemoration of moments, and to spend time on things I love outside of my current commitments too (including family, etc).

    1. Carrie*

      My resolution is to take better care of myself, and not let work take over. I basically didn’t take any leave last year, so when I took leave for Christmas all I wanted to do was sleep.

    2. Grim*

      I resolve to drink more beer and watch more football. I’ve made this same every year and have had great success!

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This is a resolution I can get on board with!

        I generally don’t do resolutions but do set some new goals, if that makes sense. I’m behind this year, but hope to sit down this weekend and figure out what I want to achieve for the year.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Personal: Regular paperwork/archive cleanup (at home too).
      Organizational: Push to make our project wrapup sessions more thorough. I’ve found others who agree that the ‘lessons learned’ need to better address problems handled in the crossfunctional teams and better link the initial project release to corrections/maintenance projects that follow.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Except the OP didn’t mention work related resolutions. It is ironic that the first post of the day doesn’t conform to the site rules. I feel bad for Alison in trying to moderate this site, because it seems like some people are violating the site rules more and more often lately (on top of some disregarding her requests, as she noted the other day).

          1. Deanna Troi*

            It seems like some people are using this as a social media site, not a workplace advice site (I don’t mean to jump on you, OP, I was just very surprised by your post on a thread that is supposed to be about work).

            1. yay2021:)*

              Oops I’m so so sorry I forgot! I’m a new reader and didn’t realize. I’m not sure how to take it down, but I’m really sorry. This can be work related too!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                No worries — I don’t mind having things a little looser on holidays since the overall volume of comments is usually a lot lower. Since it already has a bunch of responses, I’m just moving it down the page so it’s not the first post.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t normally make resolutions anymore since, historically, it just sets me up for failure. But if I were to make one, and since this is a work/school only thread, I’ll stick to a work resolution: it would be to get better at pacing myself through projects and not allowing myself to wait until the deadline is looming. I have a very hard time pacing myself when it’s a long timeline and find I lose interest after an initial flurry of activity, which is why I wait. I find I work better when I’m up against a deadline. And along those same lines, I want to be better about following through when it comes to something I just decide I want to review, like a new software feature, or one that’s been there but we haven’t started using it yet. I find, just like projects, I go through an initial push where I’m really into it, but then I get distracted by something else that’s “newer and shinier,” thus never finishing what I started.

    5. Aphrodite*

      I don’t do those anymore as I find them rather useless. What I did do was take a suggestion I read elsewhere and decide on one word to define the new year for me. For 2021, I have decided it is SUCCESS.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I like this idea. I generally set goals, but a word/mantra would serve me well in professional and personal settings.

    6. Office Grunt*

      My resolution is to not let social media affect my day to day life.

      Gave up FB two years ago, but was an active redditor. Not anymore. I have a LinkedIn, but only update it when I have a career change.

    7. Rebecca Stewart*

      Workwise, to keep streamlining procedures and make sure that everything is able to be handed over if there’s a problem.

      I am going to take this year to intensively research and worldbuild on my novel, so that I can write it and shop it in 2022. If I know the world I can keep writing stories in it, so that works out very well for me.

      I also intend to learn the math I missed, but that’s more personal.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Personal: try to get back to meditating more often.

      Professional: earn that certification, and not just earn it but master the concepts. Get a decent job even if I have to move states. Also, be a little more positive on social media. It’s been pretty damn difficult the last few years.

      I am doing the work but also poking the universe repeatedly to GIVE ME A BREAK.

      1. Anon for this*

        Professional – be more resilient when setbacks pop up at work, and kinder to myself about them. No excuses but also no excessive self-critique unless warranted.

        Personal – get a long-overdue divorce. My husband’s verbal and emotional abuse has escalated wildly during the pandemic. My children and I deserve a calmer, kinder household than this.

        I am committed to following through on both.

    9. comityoferrors*

      Happy New Year!!

      Personal: more and better self-care in general (including physical activity, diet, meditation habits, socializing with people) – the usual :) we’ll see how it goes. I love the idea of taking more pictures, I need to do that too!

      Professional: get a certificate that I spent most of 2020 waffling about, and prep to go back to school by 2022 at the latest. I’m about 60% through my Bachelor’s but had to quit due to family issues, and I’ve regretted it for too long. It’s time to jump back in.

    10. The New Wanderer*

      My main resolution is work related: I started to let a lot of negativity into my head and my actions last year and taking a few things personally that just aren’t about me. I’ve thought a lot about whether I want another job and I just don’t. I want my projects here to be successful and that won’t happen if I’m bitter about this or that less important thing. So I was fortunate to be able to take two weeks off for the holidays and I’m going to use that to mentally reset, get back to focusing on the stuff I really enjoy about my work, and go from there.

    11. Bibliovore*

      Last year, at this time, I committed to work less, play more, take my vacation days and travel for fun.
      Jan and Feb were nuts and oh well. Then there was a pandemic and working from home time and half to just stay in place.
      Then in the summer started scaling back commitments and actually scheduling time off on my calendar.
      Fall- achieved work/life balance.
      I do not work at night except to knock off a few emails.
      Some deadlines are moved forward and some things not delivered on-time. No one died. The world did not end.
      Professional committee appointments, board service with the exception of one passionate commitment were all resigned.
      Freelance opportunities declined.
      Getting used to not rock-starring and have less anxiety about not having a big projects day by day.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not resolutions so much as goals, but…
      Personal: more plant successes than failures. I also keep track of the books I read (281 during 2020).
      Work: I was accepted into a six month leadership training/mentoring program through my employer that starts in a couple weeks and I want to get as much value out of that as I can, both for the benefit of my team/department and my own individual development.

    13. allathian*

      I gave up on making any resolutions years ago, when I realized that I was only setting myself up for failure.

      My goals for 2021 are to remain a productive, appreciated employee, and to enjoy life when I can, and to be thankful of the many blessings in my life rather than to take them for granted.

  24. Is this too petty to feel a little hurt over*

    My company sends out a monthly “happy birthday” and “happy work anniversary” email. Earlier this year my birthday was left off and I just figured whatever, someone didn’t update their spreadsheet or something, it was also a super busy time so I didn’t think anything of it. But then this month my work anniversary was left off, my boss (one of the owners) told me congratulations on one year so clearly someone in management knew.
    I’m a little hurt that both dates were forgotten but I can’t think of any way to say anything that doesn’t come across as weird.
    Anyone have thoughts?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I would send an email to whoever’s in charge of the email and just say, hey, I noticed my birthday and anniversary were left off, so I wanted to make sure you had the dates on your list for next time. Keep it friendly and assume it was a mistake.

    2. Your Local Cdn*

      I used to run a similar list when I interned to send out the emails and 90% of the time the issue was that the persons direct manager didn’t input their anniversary dates into our spreadsheet. My approach would depend on how the system is set up at your workplace but I would just frame it as “out of curiosity” to my manager and see if they’ll address it.

    3. Anon21*

      I think low-key and factual will get it done. Is the person who sends these emails the same one who maintains the spreadsheet? If so, maybe just reply directly to them and be like “looks like my date didn’t get included here—it’s November 15, for reference next year.” And if it’s been a while, you could add something about catching up on emails and seeing it recently.

      If what you really want is some acknowledgment of the anniversary recently past, you could probably drop it in a conversation with your boss and see if that jogs their memory to acknowledge it and possibly even realize it was left out of the most recent email.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I agree just find out who mails the list and send them your dates. They might be set up to opt-in because some people do not celebrate birthdays.

  25. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    How much of a pay increase should you expect when going from your first office job to your second?

    I’ll be hitting 2 years here in 2021 and starting to think about what moving on would look like. Current job is admin/customer service/data entry. I’m not sure how much of an upgrade in pay and responsibilities I should be expecting. I have 6 years of prior work experience, mostly in food service but some in a manufacturing facility.

    I’d just generally love advice on how/where to move on from your first office job.

    1. BRR*

      This is going to vary a lot depending on the specific role. I’d start by looking at openings in your area and try to find ones that list a salary range (easier said than done) to get a feel for what’s out there.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      As a percentage it’s kind of difficult to say as this can vary depending on your field, market, role, etc., and what is realistic within that field.

      But that said, I’ve always aimed for, at a minimum, a $5k salary increase on a job jump. Otherwise, it’s kinda not worth it to jump unless you’re desperate to get out.

      I’ve made jumps that “broke even” and once had a jump that almost doubled my salary ($4ok to $70k) because I’d been setback due to a layoff. But generally, I’ve managed $5k increases and those seem reasonable to employers (IF they insist on knowing my salary). Certainly, you’d want to do your research, because the position might pay much more.

    3. Filosofickle*

      There is no rule about upgrades in pay or responsibilities. I held my first office job for 2 years and my next job was maybe 6K higher? It was something like 20%. IME the only way to get a 10%+ bump is to move.

      My take is that if you’re wondering if it’s time to move on, it’s time to start looking. Because if you wait until you’re really really sure and then it takes months to get a new job (which it often does), that time drags unhappily. Don’t wait til you’re miserable to start the process! And it’s in that process you’ll learn what kind of roles/pay are available to you.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’m not miserable, my problem is more the other way- since I hate job searching, I will happily stay at a boring low pay job for years to avoid it. This time, I’m trying to plan ahead so I can give myself a good kick in the pants when it’s time to go looking again.

        There is nothing wrong with my job now, except that it doesn’t really have any fun/challenging bits. Fine for an entry level job, not so fine for long term.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Once you get some experience under you, it’s normal to want to learn and do more with yourself and to want to move up (and make more money doing so!). Even if you’re not technically “unhappy” with your current job.

          Filosofickle is right that it may take months to find a new job. Plus, you want to feel really, really good about it being the RIGHT job. I always tell people that patience and persistence pays off in the job hunt. Even if you only job search on weekends and apply to 1 or 2 jobs you find interesting per week, you’re doing something to move that process forward. I hope 2021 is the year you find something. It’s a good goal for the New Year.

    4. Dan*

      Maybe none. TBH, your question is a bit vague. OTOH, many people expect there to be much better defined “career paths” than what really exists. Ask yourself, what does a more experienced person in your career path actually *do*, and what is it about what they do that would warrant substantially more pay? If the answer is “I donno” then maybe the real answer is that in that very narrow skill, it doesn’t go that high, and entry level work is always entry level work and will pay accordingly.

      In my line of work, your pay is tied to your “level”, and with the early levels, your level is tied to how much you can productively do independently. For example, the lowest rung(s) go to the people fresh out of school, and it’s expected that they will have to have a well defined task, and that their boss knows how to do it so the boss can step in and help when need be. You might get your first promotion when you can execute fully defined tasks with little oversight. You might get your next promotion when you can talk a vaguely defined task and turn it into an executable plan, and deliver. Your third promotion would come when you can start leading teams and manage customer relationships.

      As an aside, I’m a computer programmer. In some senses, computer programmers are a dime a dozen, and there’s a limit to how much money you will get paid just be being a more efficient programmer. If that’s all one can do, then the reality is, there exists someone who can probably code just as well but do it for a little bit cheaper.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I guess maybe I should have said what my field is, since everyone is asking about it, but the truth is I don’t have one. I didn’t graduate college, just got a job through a temp service. My current job is one part admin, one part customer service, and one part data entry. I am hoping, with 2 years of excellent work under my belt, that I qualify for something slightly more challenging. A bit more responsibility, a bit less data entry. While my job is not miserable, it does get kinda boring sometimes. And there is no room to move up.

        Also, 30K is definitely livable wage around here, but more money would be nice.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I’ve always heard that if you are leaving an O.K. job where you are NOT MISERABLE, then you should get at least a 10% raise. If you are looking to move into something different where you are hoping to pick up some different experience and skills, then you might consider accepting something at a rate close to your current salary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask for more. Review Alison’s advice about negotiating salary.

  26. Unicornucopia*

    Hey, does anyone have tips on how to put an interview out of your mind and keep moving forward in the job search? I know Alison says you should never assume you have a job after an interview, but I’m finding that’s easier said than done. I had an interview (12/23) recently where by the end the interviewer was talking as if I had the job, and she said to be on the lookout for an email from her, but I haven’t gotten one yet and it’s been over a week. While this has been the holidays immediately after and also one of their busier times, it’s perfectly rational that it still works out that I have the job, but I had been hoping for confirmation sooner rather than later so that I know if I need to keep looking (I had taken this past week as a break since there were family celebration obligations). Anyway, I guess this is more of a question about how to ignore my hopeful anxiety about having this job and just moving on than it is about work itself, but in other cases I’m usually way better about assuming I won’t be successful. Any advice or commiseration is appreciated, thanks!

    1. BRR*

      I like the advice of assume you didn’t get the job and proceed like you didn’t. If you hear back then it’s a pleasant surprise.

    2. SchoolSucks*

      Hopefully this doesn’t sound stupid, but…Years ago, immediately after phone screenings and interviews, I would write detailed notes about the various things I learned about the position or company for later reference incase I moved forward in the interview process or was offered the job. I kept a spreadsheet of when I did phone screenings and interviews, and when the hiring manager said I should hear back from them by so I could follow up if I didn’t hear from them for a long time. I would keep all e-mail correspondence in my inbox as if it was important.

      Now I don’t take notes at all. I don’t keep a spreadsheet or follow up. Any e-mails from companies are immediately archived. So basically I act as if I’m not expecting to hear back from them again and make sure there aren’t any reminders about them anywhere. It makes it easier to forget about the jobs and not get invested in them.

    3. Libervermis*

      If you’re actively job searching, keep job searching. Anything that feels like waiting on this job to get back to you is going to feed that hopeful sense, so imagine you’ve heard back “no” and respond accordingly.

    4. Cleo*

      I think the best way is to act as if you didn’t get this job. Start your job search up again as you would if you got an email earlier today saying you didn’t get that job. Proceed as if that job wasn’t even an option. If you find yourself thinking about it, tell yourself “time to check the job ads”, and do so. Make a list of things you can do to benefit your job search, and focus on those tasks (checking various places for ads, writing cover letters, reviewing your resume, practicising answering interview questions etc.) whenever you find yourself thinking about the job. Having something concrete to focus on helps me prevent my mind from ruminating on things that are out of my control.

  27. Anon21*

    Happy 2021, all!

    Question for lawyers about norms around references. I did a federal appellate clerkship in 2012-13. Last time I was job searching, 4 years ago, I used my judge as a reference. In my current job search, I’m inclined not to, since it’s been a fair amount of time since we’ve worked together and I have more recent supervisors I’d rather list. Is it any kind of red flag or bad sign to have clerked and not use your judge as a reference? In most situations I would think obviously not, but clerkships are a bit of an odd beast in the legal world.

  28. Over It*

    Has anyone ever asked for a leave of absence from work and have any tips on how to go about it? 2020 has completely beaten me down mentally between various family issues, including the death of my grandmother, and the pandemic, which has totally changed my previously enjoyable public facing role into a soul sucking remote job conducted nearly entirely over email. I’m burnt out, and I’ve realised I want a year to give my dream of writing and publishing a novel a real shot at succeeding (I’ve had a few other little things published, and have a completed first draft and the savings to commit to this). Before the pandemic, I enjoyed my job and I have the most incredible, supportive manager, which is why I don’t want to quit outright — my ideal would be to have this year out to see if I can make my career as a writer work, and if it doesn’t, slip back into this role. If my manager says a leave of absence isn’t possible, at that stage, I suppose I’ll have to decide if quitting is the only option left. Any advice greatly appreciated!

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      My main advice would just be honest with your manager that you have had a tough year and would like a leave of absence to take a year out. I would probably not mention the novel as that may give off ‘I’m never coming back’ vibes.
      Good luck though with the request and the novel!

      1. Over It*

        Thanks Xavier! She actually knows I’m writing one (and has been a big cheerleader of mine) so might assume that’s what I plan to do, but I definitely won’t name it as one of the reasons I want time off :)

    2. LQ*

      I’ve seen 6 months go over better than a year for some reason. I’m not in academia at all but there is a decent amount of leave and you could get a few solid months if you saved and had the right situation. I think 6 goes over better because it’s more like leave they know like medical leaves. But I’d say that you’d like to take a sabbatical after the tough year and see what they say. Especially if you have a supportive manager framing it as “I need to take some time off and this is what I’d like it to look like.”

      1. Over It*

        Thanks LQ, yes, I’m definitely happy to work with my manager and find a length of time that would suit us both! The year’s the ideal, but honestly I’d take almost anything at this point. They should be able to get someone seconded into my position fairly easily though (it’s uni admin and people switch between departments pretty frequently) so it may potentially be better for me to be off longer. But I will make it an open discussion with my manager for sure.

        1. LQ*

          You’re at a university and they switch people in? Absolutely ask! This sounds pretty ideal conditions for asking. Start with what you’re asking for with the year then. Good luck on the sabbatical and the book!

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

      I replied at length and was met by a strange “are you human?” captcha followed by a server error so I will try again more briefly:

      With a proposed leave of absence like this it seems the employer bears all the risk and you have almost all the upside: taking a year out to try the writing scenario; if that doesn’t work out then you’d like to have a job to come back to but if it does work out then presumably you wouldn’t come back. In the meantime the employer is in ‘limbo’ of sorts, as your work still needs to get done, regardless of whether that leave of absence is paid or unpaid. So they need to mitigate it in some way, by taking on temporary help or re-assigning work to others or whatever.

      The part you’re missing here when you propose asking the employer is “what’s in it for them” — it needs to be beneficial for both sides in order to have a chance of being approved. What’s their upside?: think about that.

      1. Over It*

        Thanks Captain, I will definitely have a think about this before speaking with my manager. A colleague has previously taken a long leave of absence to deal with family issues, so it seems it’s definitely something they’re open to discussing. Because I work in university admin, there’s not much upward movement and people move fairly frequently laterally in 1 year+ secondments. So in theory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone to fill my role (though I don’t know how Covid will affect that). And I’d be willing to wait until a convenient time for my employer to go off on leave. But yes, will think about how this can help them before raising it. Thanks!

  29. Libervermis*

    How long should I wait and/or should I even say something about a new manager who isn’t a good manager? My previous boss, who is now my grandboss, indicated when she asked about shifting me that she wanted to know how things were going. Nothing is AAM-bad, but my new boss is incredibly disorganized, hard to get ahold of, doesn’t know a lot about my day-to-day work even though he’s supposed to be more involved with that, and doesn’t help me prioritize my projects when I ask because of those reasons. He also does things like ask when I’m going to be finished with x project that he never assigned or even mentioned to me, and when I respond that I’ve not been assigned that project but am happy to do it and anticipate y timeline, tells me he’s “not trying to pressure me to do it”. None of that is malicious, I don’t think, he just doesn’t remember who he’s asked to do what and has zero organization. I’m pretty independent, but I do need some manager support.

    It’s only been a few weeks, which feels too soon to say “this isn’t working”, but I don’t see things changing. Should I say something? How long should I wait to say something? I’m a department of one and my grandboss, who is an excellent manager, is super overstretched, hence trying to move some people off her plate.

    1. LQ*

      I think you don’t need to say “this isn’t working” but you could say “you asked for input so I think that he’s struggling with organization because of this and that, etc” Don’t think of it as a Not Working situation. Think of it as responding to your grandboss so she can do her job and help out her report with some things. Very much just give what you’re seeing feedback and early so grandboss can help with direction, and I wouldn’t wait at all. It sounds a little like you’re thinking this is an all or nothing thing and so you should wait so he has as much time to get to where he needs to be on his own or he’ll be fired. But you should speak up early so that grandboss and boss can work together to come up with better ways for success for you and boss.

      1. Libervermis*

        Ah, that is a very wise point, you’re absolutely right that I’ve been thinking about it as all-or-nothing. But it’s just feedback. Thank you!

    2. PinkPen*

      You shouldn’t say anything to your grand boss until you’ve talked to your new boss about what isn’t working and given him a chance to change. It would be truly unfair to say something before that.

      Starting a new position is hard. Managing is hard. Doing that in the middle of a pandemic?? Give him some leeway.

      1. Libervermis*

        I appreciate the comment – I will say that managing me is only one small part of my new manager’s job, and he’s a consultant my grandboss has worked with previously who has taken on the role as a temporary and part-time one. I will start with talking to him about how he’d like to organize and track my projects and go from there, since the way I’m doing so now is clearly not working for him. I have regular check-ins with my grandboss, so I suspect she’ll ask some questions, and I’ll approach that as feedback to improve.

    3. LGC*

      It’s only been a few weeks, which feels too soon to say “this isn’t working”, but I don’t see things changing.

      I’ll be honest: I’m not sure if you’ve given him a chance to improve – whether these things have been pointed out to him. He’s the boss, but he’s also human.

      So I’d point out those issues to your skip-level boss, since she’s already asking. And then give it a few more weeks to turn around – so basically, think of your boss as needing to go on his own PIP of sorts. (And yes, I know the meme is that PIPs are a prelude to being fired, but we’re going to take it literally here – you’re putting him on a figurative performance improvement plan.)

  30. SilentStars*

    How would you answer a question similar to : What did you do with your lockdown?

    Spoiler, I’m in food supply chain and we never really shut down, we just shifted things around a bit. But I’ve been looking to leave my current company since last year (paused, for good reason) and am wondering how anyone else would answer this question? (If there is an expected professional answer, of course)

    1. Nicki Name*

      If it’s asked specifically about work, you could use it to highlight your experience working with COVID precautions if you’ve had to stay in a physical workplace, or staying productive at home if you’re WFH.

    2. Anonforthis1*

      This is a really good question! Assuming this is a workplace conversation, I would probable hedge and say something like “It’s made me reconsider a few things so I’ve done a lot of reflection about what matters to me.” If they press, speak vaguely about your motives for wanting to leave your current company, like “I’m just ready for something new” or “I’ve always been interested in X and I decided it was time to stop thinking and start doing!”

    3. OyHiOh*

      Well, I applied for my current job in the middle of the year, with a fully remote hiring process. From there, I’d address how the org handled COVID precautions (I do go to an office building, but I have my own office with a door), how my org worked in the local and regional community to rebuild business during and after COVID (economic development and disaster resiliancy are my org’s twin mandates), and my specific work meeting those mandates.

      I posted elsewhere that my career dream would be to get my boss’s job in around five years when he retires so I am definitely already thinking about how I would interview with the board of directors and how to address questions like this.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It depends on the context. When I interviewed for my new job, my boss asked what I had been doing to cope with lockdown, which was obviously a non-work question. I talked about how some of my hobbies have shifted. He also asked whether I was working from home and how that was going.

      I appreciated both questions, because I knew he was sincere and not looking for anything spectacular. He just wanted to know about my flexibility and a little about me outside of work. I was able to be as candid as I wanted.

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

      If you’ve been impacted in ways that affect the day-to-day of your role but weren’t laid off, furloughed etc but instead had to continue your role (or some version of it) & start to do things differently (while still working in your main job) then you can use that to your advantage and speak to the flexibility of approach, ability to take on new roles and operating procedures, learn and adapt quickly, … give examples where possible.

      I don’t think there’s an “expected” professional answer to ‘how did you spend lockdown’ as it’s so variable, but I think the motivation in asking this question is probably to ascertain: are they someone who would take advantage of a situation they’ve been “gifted” to slack off or would they take the opportunity?

  31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m so over my job. I missed a lot of deadlines for December but I’m taking today ( a holiday) and the weekend off! My boss was all I’ll only start checking the paperwork Monday as if that was a big concession. I might even stop working until 8 each night and just let the chips fall where they may…

    1. Jessi*

      Thats a good idea. “I have worked 8/10/ however many hours today and this is all I can manage in that time. If you want me to prioritise other things let me know what”

  32. JHB*

    * Second monitor is essential
    * Separate webcam mounted on flexible gooseneck stand so I can control position/angle
    – mine is a Logitech with a physical lens cover that snaps down. I LOVE that.
    * Wireless mouse/keyboard (personal preference, but – for me – critical)
    * Riser/Monitor Shelf – My monitor and laptop sit side-by side, elevated for better ergonomics. Keyboard/mouse on regular desk level. Extra storage underneath. You can order all kinds, but I made my own. Legs from Amazon (about $12) and finished shelf board from Home Depot ($9). Took about 15 minutes.

    Controlling my webcam to avoid accidental exposure is a hot button for me. I have various privacy devices, often given away at tradeshows. But mostly I use Post-it flags with color tab covering the lens. Simple/effective.

    Post-It Example: https://tinyurl.com/yd7ce7tz
    Desk Riser Shelf Example: https://tinyurl.com/y78dpg5q

  33. Amethyst*

    I’ve been WFH since March. In May, they announced it was permanent. I work in the healthcare industry posting payments to patients’ accounts, so there’s some HIPAA concerns here. (Nothing is on paper.)

    I live in an apartment complex that is elderly/disabled focused. My apartment is on a heavily foot-trafficked area, gets all of the sun all day, every day (faces slightly southwest), and is basically open to anyone who wants to look into my windows. In the last couple months alone, I’ve noticed that people cannot resist looking into my windows as they walk past. Several have worn a look of shock on their faces when I catch them/we make eye contact while I’m puttering around in my house.

    My problem: I’ve been searching for window clings that would allow me to see out and prevent anyone from seeing in. My windows are doublepaned, so the usual clings just won’t do due to the major possibility of glass shattering due to the temperature differences inside and outside. Is there anything on the market that will do what I need it to do without breaking my windows? I’ve already asked the head of maintenance at my complex for ideas on this and he was positively not helpful at all other than to suggest I get blackout curtains and keep them closed 24/7, which is NOT a viable option.

    1. JHB*

      I’ve not tried this, but it seems to have good reviews and affordable. https://preview.tinyurl.com/y9stjo6h

      I’ve used decorative vinyl films, but those wouldn’t let you look out easily. (Example: https://tinyurl.com/ybhyhr2p). Some have wider spaced patterns that might have lookouts between design.

      I used to work in a commercial building where the glass was 100% mirrored and my desk looked out to the sidewalk and entrance. It was hilarious as we’d have people facing us (unknowingly) checking their appearance, adjusting clothing, before they walked in.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I don’t know about ones that will let you see out, but you could use privacy vinyl clings – we had some on our front door that worked well, they mimic frosted glass so the light still gets in. Could do it just on the lower panes even.

      1. Ashley*

        I love my vinyl clings. I can’t see out but I get the light.
        If you opt for a sheer there is a new product to mount your support in the wood frame and not the wall for far less work and damage.

    3. BRR*

      What about semi sheer drapes that would let in light but make it hard to make out details? Or leaving blinds half open? Could you get a privacy screen/room divider and leave it near your desk or near the window?

    4. CTT*

      Not a cling, but: what are your inside window ledges like? Someone in my neighborhood has propped a painting against a ground floor window (the back faces the outside) and it covers the window about up to eye level but leaves the top half open so I imagine they still get a lot of light. Not something you would want to do for every window, but it could be a start.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly (sorta) – I have giant windows in my home office, and I got valance curtains that I put on tension curtain rods and put them halfway up the windows rather than at the top as per normal. So they basically cover about a 20-24” swath across the middle of the window, while still letting in plenty of light above and below, and would be dirt easy to remove or rearrange. I think the whole thing cost about $20 per window, between the valance curtains and the tension rods.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You could get sheer curtains. If you get white ones, they don’t really block much light, you can often see through them, but people looking in can’t.

    6. TX Lizard*

      I’m not sure if this would be an issue with your double pane windows, but I have clear prism-y window clings that are non adhesive plastic. They refract the light into rainbows and have a crystal like appearance. They let light in but you can’t see more than very vague shapes if you look in. You can see out somewhat, but mostly still vague blobs. I got them on amazon for pretty cheap. They come in rolls and you cut them to size.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, this sounds like what I mentioned. We had ours on the inside of a double pane exterior door with no problem.

        1. TX Lizard*

          You phrased it much more elegantly! I realized I didn’t really know how to describe mine!

    7. Karen L Smith*

      Sheer curtains! People may be able to see the outline of you, but can’t see any detail!

    8. Kali*

      Ugh, you have my sympathy. I used to rent a room in a house on a major bus route, and my window was at eye-level with the street. Luckily, my room was a repurposed living room and had French doors onto the garden, so I used those as my window and put a wardrobe in front of the other one.

      Net curtains were common where I grew up, though they’re less effective at night or when people get too close.

    9. Amethyst*

      Sheer curtains: I have two cats. One is extremely destructive when she wants to be (dominant cat). I’ve had them at my previous apartment and she basically ripped them to shreds because they were in her way when she wanted to look outside.

      Rainbow clings: I do have those on the lower half of the windows. Each one covers the bottom half because of the glare I get from car windshields and roofs. (I also face the parking lot. *sigh*) The living room windows have shades, which I keep at halfmast on sunny days. My bedroom has a sliding door with vertical blinds. That is also half-covered with the cling because I have an elderly neighbor with a Pom who thinks her dog and my cats “just want to be friends” when her dog is attacking my sliding door and my cats are aggressively hissing and attacking the glass in an effort to get to the dog. (This didn’t stop until I stormed out my house one night in my pajamas and bathrobe and told her to keep her dog away from my house and I’d go after her if my cats were hurt because of her and her dog.) She continues to walk past, but the damage is done, thanks to her, and I had to put up the cling there for my cats’ well-being.

      I have a disability myself, and as a result of it, I’m an extremely visual person. I don’t want to plaster my windows with the clings because I can’t see a thing, and my destructive cat will absolutely rip at least one down to see outside. That’s why I’m asking if anyone knows of one way privacy window clings that won’t break my windows.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      I’d go with sheer curtain panels. That’s what I do when I want light, but don’t want someone who’s knocking at my door to be able to see in (my exterior door and storm door both have glass).

      If you’re working with private patient and financial information and people can see into your work area that well, you really should think about a privacy screen overlay for your computer monitor (unless the screen is facing with its back to the window?). I’m in banking, and our auditors and regulatory examiners all use these. We can’t see what’s on their laptop screen unless we’re standing directly in back of them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Just saw your note about the cats and the curtains. Clings on the bottom (maybe frosted with clear cutouts–I have those on one window) and sheer half panel/valance on the top?

      2. Amethyst*

        Thanks. Unfortunately, my job is utterly cheap and will not allow any of us to expense these purchases. My boss bends the rule a little but it’s centralized around printer ink if a handful of my coworkers are required to per their own job duties. I am not one of those people. Therefore, privacy screens for my monitors would come out of my own pocket, and I don’t make great money to begin with so it’ll take time for me to get them.

        We raised issues with our great-grandboss over incurring additional expenses due to the extra electricity, internet usage, purchases we made for our home offices, etc. He brought it up to HR. We got an email last week from them announcing a measly 2% raise. This works out to about 28 cents extra/hour for me.

    11. Batgirl*

      Are magic screen roller blinds available where you are? Fabric uv filters for sunny rooms but which still allow the light in. Newly appeared on the UK market. Another option is to get some framed glass (charity shops) for pasting the film onto and to hang the ‘pictures’ in the window or hinge them together as shutters, or tabletop sized screens for the windowsill.

    12. Private eye*

      I live in a climate where the temperature varies between -40 and +40 degrees C, so there is often a large temperature difference between indoor and outdoor. I have double-paned windows, and have lined the windows I don’t want anyone to look into with regular old bog-standard privacy film from the hardware store. So far no shattered glass, going on three years.

    13. Perspective*

      Window clings aren’t going to break your windows, and whoever told you that they would is an idiot. Many if not most people have double-paned windows so that’s not special, and thousands of them live in areas with weather variations of 80C or 140F and have never had a window break because a sheet of plastic stuck to it. It does not happen.

      1. Amethyst*

        This was needlessly rude, Perspective. I’ve spent weeks searching for one way tinted privacy clings and everything I considered as a viable option had this warning attached. I suggest you speak to the manufacturers although I must warn you that they would not take too kindly to being called “idiots” for having their products come with this warning.

        Also, if you are willing to front me the money to replace my windows—which, by the way, will take my landlord 6-8 weeks to repair and replace, along with the expenses I’ll incur boarding my cats and having to stay elsewhere for that time period—I will go ahead and purchase them. If you are not willing to incur the costs for a stranger on the internet, neither am I to my own home.

        You are more than welcome to find more important things to be nasty about.

        1. ThatGirl*

          As I said above, I don’t know of any one-way versions, but I can assure you the cling privacy vinyl that mimic frosted glass won’t hurt your window.

          1. Amethyst*

            I’m not sure where you’re coming from. I specifically am looking for one way privacy clings that won’t have the potential to break my windows due to the temperature difference between inside and outside. That’s what I stated in my original post. I have rainbow clings on all my windows for reasons stated in another post. So why you’re running with “frosted clings = window breakage”, I don’t know. Thanks.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I’m saying frosted clings are an option, even if they’re not precisely what you’re looking for. People are just trying to help.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            You and Amethyst are talking about two different things, I think.
            One-way privacy window film is mirrored. So if you’re inside, you can still see out and it’s shaded like looking through sunglasses, but if you’re on the outside the window looks like a mirror and you can’t see in. It’s intentionally reflective, which is why it can cause problems of heat build-up between the panes. There are mirrored films that are designed for use on double-pane, but they’re usually applied on the outside, not the inside. There are a ton of variations. From the brands I’ve looked into, the cheapie removable kind are more likely to specifically indicate they’re not safe for double-pane. The very high end expensive stuff – which needs to be professionally installed – are safe but sound like not an option for the OP.
            Frosted window film lets light through, but whether you’re outside looking in or vice versa, whatever’s on the other side is blurred/just a shadow.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I know we are, sorry if I haven’t communicated that well. I was trying to provide an option for privacy even though you can’t see through it. But thank you for the clarification.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Also, I just looked one up on Amazon and it said it holds the glass together in case of breakage, not that it increases the likelihood of breakage? Is that what you were seeing?

          1. Amethyst*

            No. Again, I was seeing multiple warnings on one-way privacy window clings stating NOT to hang them on doublepaned windows due to the possibility of them breaking. Indoor v. outdoor temperature could be drastic enough to cause the windows to shatter.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I researched these extensively for my house last year and there are definitely some whose packaging explicitly says “not for use on double-paned windows” but there are also plenty that specifically say “safe for double-paned windows”. It’s really a matter of verifying whatever product you’re considering.

    14. Anono-me*

      I have been looking for some for forever. Unsuccessfully.
      Have you considered bifold shutters for the inside bottom half of your windows?
      Would cafe curtains work for you and the cats? (You can use a tension rod or a dowel and command hooks to hang the curtains, if you can’t install curtain rods.)
      You might also want to add privacy screens to to your computer screens. Unless you are right squarely in front of the screen, it is unreadable.
      I would also suggest a window box, either attached to the wall or freestanding. If you get cold winters, you can always use bittersweet sprigs and evergreen branches.

      1. Amethyst*

        I can’t install anything I wouldn’t be willing to repair/replace when I leave, so shutters are out. :/ I also can’t install shrubbery to hide my windows. My landlord would have a heart attack for one, and they’d never allow it because my sliding door is an egress point and must be kept clear. Any major changes to the physical building must be approved by my landlord prior to installation. They don’t allow satellite dishes on the buildings so window boxes would be out.

        I’ve mentioned above that privacy screens would come out of my own pocket and that would take time since I don’t make great money at the moment.

      2. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

        I don’t have anything else to add, but I wanted to second the privacy screens for your monitors if HIPAA is the main concern.

        1. Lizzie*

          I have used bubble wrap for privacy, it just requires misting the window with water and then putting the piece of wrap (cut to size) onto the glass. I wonder if that would have utility for you. I was able to get some for free, as I went into a local furniture shop and asked what they did with their packing materials when new stock came in and they showed me their huge skip thing and said would I like any! – they had to pay to have it taken away for recycling. Otherwise it is obtainable in rolls from the post office, or office supplies.

          The crucial factor is the cats, isn’t it, sounds as if they have firm opinions, as you might expect.

    15. Mockingjay*

      Can you do a cornstarch coating? There’s a bunch of YouTube videos on how. Basically you mix up a paste of cornstarch and water and apply to windows. When it dries, it’s opaque like frosted glass. Some people use a stencil when applying. Easy to wash off when no longer needed.

  34. JHB*

    WORK INJURY AT HOME
    We’ve been 100% WFH since March. Previously, I teleworked 2 days a week, lucky enough to have a nice home office set up. A couple months ago, while on a work call ON A WEEKEND, I tripped, badly injuring my knee.

    It had to be submitted as a worker’s comp injury. Ugh. I appreciate the protections but the process has been an absolute nightmare and treatment delayed at every step. It’s one of those things that mostly time will heal, although small chance surgery required. I’m tempted to just wait it out. However, I’ve heard of horror stories where if similar issue arises later in life (and who DOESN’T have knee problems as they age?), personal insurance may refuse to cover – claiming it relates back to work injury. So I have to be careful to follow all the steps and have everything documented to close this out as resolved properly.

    1. saltedchocolatechip*

      So sorry to hear this!! Someone I know is now dealing with a version of the “later on” issue you mention: After an at work knee injury, doctor has since charged all knee treatments to workman’s comp. Now with age and need for knee surgery, doctor insists surgery must be charged to workman’s comp, workman’s comp insurance disagrees, and this person has been told to get a lawyer (even though a contact at primary, non-workman’s comp insurance says, send it through and we will review, which to my understanding the doctor won’t or maybe can’t do).

      So in your case, maybe it would be helpful to get clarity on what kind of knee issues might arise later and whether or not they could be connected to this injury?

      Hope time and rest help (and fewer weekend work calls!!).

  35. Retail Not Retail*

    Our region’s attitude towards corona found a scapegoat beyond restaurants/bars in us – oh we deserve it, stuff is BAD, but a bowl game happened this week anyway.

    Anyway we’re shut down again and you’d think we’d have a plan since we did this in spring but we don’t. We’re flailing to define “essential” and I’m close to a freakout because it’s like i came in and stood in the clock in building alone to do this? But that identical task isn’t essential? I’m risking my health more than usual per the health department to do THIS?

    Since we’re closed to the public people are masking LESS, no one to see us! So many critics have said we should’ve required guests to mask up all year (yes) but staff won’t do it consistently and correctly. (A lot of us work outdoors and in individual teams so if you get your team sick you didn’t get everyone else. I guess that’s the justification.)

    2 weeks ago our ceo sent a go team email that celebrated our covid compliance and mentioned how we’ve had no cases for a bit. In the past 2 weeks, we’ve had 7 cases.

    Also I found something kind of traumatizingly broken this morning so that sucks. (Not allowed to clean it thank goodness)

    Anyway! Coping mechanisms? Back to denial? Celebrate the freedom to wear headphones and drive wherever I want with no people around? (I am finally ungrounded.)

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Yes we have to wear masks all day on grounds, no nobody enforces it. One person got a consequence at a site we rent – the landlord told him once and then saw him again without the mask and banned him.

    2. tangerineRose*

      What can you do to keep yourself safe? Are the unmasked people decent enough to let you have some space between you? I’d like everyone to be safe, but for my own mental health, I’m trying to take care of myself and do what I can to avoid exposure from people who aren’t being careful.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Oh I STAY in my mask all day and no one is allowed near me without one on.

        It’s just mentally i’m screeching because either nothing will change and we reopen because everyone is a coward or the health department will make us stay closed much longer. And I don’t know what relief is in the new bill for us – i’d like to keep my job and insurance!

  36. Tax question for contractors/consultants*

    Work/tax question. I’ve been in my current situation for 5+ years and never questioned it, but had a conversation last night that has me wondering if I’ve been doing something wrong all along tax-wise. Would appreciate any thoughts or resources– my google didn’t turn up an answer.

    For about a decade, I worked for a company based in Colorado as a remote employee living in MA. I received a W2 from the Colorado-based company that had the MA employer ID and filed MA income taxes. When I was laid off, I collected unemployment from Massachusetts.

    I currently have my own consulting company (“[Name] Consulting”) with a tax ID in my home state of MA. I work as a part time contractor for Company A which is located in Rhode Island and is also a consulting firm with clients all over the country. I also do 2-3 engagements as a 1099 for companies located in states other than MA (NY, PA, AL, etc). When it comes time for taxes, I receive a 1099 with a MA employer ID from each of these companies and I file MA income taxes.

    So, yesterday, I’m talking to my mom. My mom is an independent contractor. She had been living in RI working for a consulting firm in RI as a contractor, receiving a 1099 and filling RI taxes. As far as she knows, her company only does business in RI (all her clients are in RI though she works remotely from MA). She now lives in MA and was planning/expecting to file nonresident RI taxes and MA income taxes for 2020. Her assumption is that she lives in MA but is earning income in RI.

    Who is right? Is the issue that her consulting firm in RI just needs to get a MA tax ID and send her a 1099? Does it depend on where her own company is registered (eg. her own personal TIN needs to be in MA now?)? Are our respective situations different based on the kind of companies we work with? Google has me so confused.

    I’ve had an accountant do my taxes in the past and this has never come up. Mom has had an accountant do her taxes but it was always all RI so never an issue until this year.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If she lived full time in MA for all of 2020, she doesn’t need to file RI taxes at all. She’s an independent contractor; it’s normal to get 1099s from companies from all over the country. She just files taxes in the state where she lives (and federal, of course). I don’t think the companies even need to get state-specific tax IDs, but if they do, that’s up to them, not something she needs to worry about. Really, your mom shouldn’t need to do anything here. Her clients will send her 1099s, she will file her taxes in MA, and that’s it.

      (I get probably 20 1099s a year from clients all over the place. I don’t file in all those states! You file your income taxes in the state where you live.)

      1. Lifelong student*

        Not completely true- CPA here. You may have to file taxes as an independent contractor in states other than where you live if you actually perform services in other states. If all work is remotely done from your home state, there would be no obligation to file in other states. Note- this is not true if you are a W2 employee- then you often have to file in the state of the business as a non-resident. For the person receiving 1099’s with ID numbers from their home state, it means that the employer has nexus in that state- perhaps W2 employees. There have been some changes with requirements for employees working remotely as a result of covid- but there are no quick or universal answers to this question.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah! My work is all done from where I am; I didn’t know it would be different if that weren’t the case. But does that mean that an independent contractor with clients in 30 states who flew to them to do, say, consulting on-site would be filing 30 different state tax returns? (!) Or is there a threshold, like only if it’s over X days per year?

          1. OP*

            OP

            I think this is the crux. In my role as a consultant, I do the vast majority of the work in my own state. But I certainly travel to client sites, run (Pre COVID) in person workshops, etc in other states as part of the engagement.

            I think my mom’s is less clear: she’s a bookkeeper type role. She does the work in MA, but logs into computers that are in the RI office, will take files from the RI office, and bop around to clients in RI to do various paperwork type things.

            Clear as mud I guess.

            From a CPA standpoint, what’s the “audit” or check or whatever that the states use to make sure you are paying to the correct state? Meaning, how would they know who owes them what?

            1. Lifelong student*

              Every state law is different as to what the requirements are. If you were to tell your CPA about other states that you may have physically done work in, he or she may be able to give information- or they may not even know what some of the state rules are without doing research. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the states you have been in may require companies to provide them with copies of the 1099’s they issue. Your mother is clearly doing work in RI. As with many tax questions- the whole thing is a matter of facts and circumstances- and no two sets of facts and circumstances are usually the same.

              An example- athletes and entertainers are generally subject to tax in all the jurisdictions in which they appear. Of course, they can afford high priced CPA’s!

    2. RagingADHD*

      As a 1099 cintractor, I only file in my state of residence. I have always had out of state clients, doesn’t matter.

  37. Academic Librarian too*

    Celebration thread.
    Looking back on 2020, it hard work-wise not to just get down on how stressful everything was this year. Lost grants, pay cuts, pivoting on-line for programs and special events, cancellations, and remote teaching. Missing in person conversations with my colleagues and students. Unplanned interactions. Oy.
    Is there one good thing that happened this year?

    I’ll start
    I was promoted to Full. A huge deal in my R1 institution.

    Post your good news from this year and I will throw you a parade!

    1. Filosofickle*

      Huzzah for your promotion!

      This year I got a consulting client of my very own, after many years of partnering/subcontracting on projects for other consultants & their clients. This is my first step towards rebuilding my own practice & client base. And it’s been a great project in part because I got to set it up and run it my way! I ended the year on a very high note with them.

    2. Lucy P*

      Getting furloughed for 2 months earlier this year actually turned out to be great for me. It was almost like taking a a sabbatical. I did get called in, from time to time, to do work off the books. Still, not having to deal with the office on a daily basis was wonderful.

    3. LQ*

      I got a promotion! It feels like years ago because it was in January. But I got a promotion to a really big deal role I never would have thought of. And I got a giant GIANT contract done that even my boss admitted he couldn’t have gotten done (which is a really big deal).

      There’s “positive” pandemic related stuff but it doesn’t feel good. Just makes me angry and tired.

      I think a celebration for this year is a really nice idea because ooof! it’s been a hard one.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I got a new job, which came with a higher title and a 25% raise. I start on Monday. Congratulations to everyone else on your successes this year!

    5. Talvi*

      I got a job in my field! It’s a full-time permanent position, so I can finally stop watching the job boards on a daily basis! And it’s in a MUCH lower COL city I’d previously been living in, so even though it pays almost $10 less per hour than my last (albeit temporary) job, I still feel like I come out ahead, I can afford a much nicer apartment with no roommates (!!!), and New City is closer to family.

      I’ve been at this new job for a couple of months now and I’m loving it.

  38. Kali*

    Removed – no politics here please. (The original question wasn’t directly political but there’s no way for replies not to be.)

  39. Kali*

    Q: If you change your name, is it normally done to have degree certificates reissued, or would you normally just present the certificate plus the deed poll/marriage certificate/whatever form confirms the change? I’m the UK for context, so it might differ from the US.

    Bonus Q: if you work in a field like academia or journalism, can your publishing name be totally different from any legal name you have? E.g., I’ve heard of people continuing to use their previous name for publishing after marriage, but could you, for instance, use a familial last name even if it was never legally one of yours?

    Bonus Q the 2nd: For any academics, has having a “common” name caused problems? I know there are several professor Snapes, for instance, and with each other and the famous character, and the location, that *must* cause some problems, mustn’t it?

    1. Reba*

      Bonus 1 — Quite a few people I know with common names use an initial, maiden/birth name or even a distinctive middle name, like Jennifer Millicent Smith, to stand out. This is normal, although I don’t think you would have total control over how some journals format authors’ names. I could see a publication being weirded out by a request to publish under a different name in the fields you mention, but I don’t really see why you couldn’t use a name you go by, as long as it’s how you are known professionally.

      Bonus 2 — there is another person with my last name in the quite niche field I trained in. My surname is not especially common but would read as familiar to English speakers. More than one professional acquaintance has assumed we are married to each other!! Then they are embarrassed when I’m like “Oh, I have no idea how he is, we don’t even live in the same state…”

      1. Kali*

        Lol!

        There were at last 3 sets of married professors in my department at uni, all of whom used different names. I learned about one pair because they were expecting their first child and were both very, very excited about it and the husband kept bringing it up during lectures (on genetics, so technically relevant). Another pair left the university while I was there, and another professor mentioned that it was him who’d chosen to leave but she’d followed because they were a married couple. And the third pair I learned about because, while working on an Open-Day stall with both of them, I mentioned how surprised I’d been about the second pair and how discrete they’d been and the wife said: “Yeah, people don’t realise we’re married”.

        I laughed, thinking she was joking, and then a minute later went, “wait, are you serious?”. She said yes, and pointed out their matching wedding rings, but I still wasn’t totally sure she wasn’t having me on until I saw them together at a few other events.

        There were also two with the same last name, and we did briefly wonder if they were married, but they weren’t. Or they might have been, we would probably never have known.

    2. Agnes*

      #3 If you’re in an article field, get an orcid to reduce ambiguity. Might also use your middle initial.

      1. Kali*

        I’d consider using my first initial, middle name, which I know a professor in the department does. He just does it because he goes by his middle name, but the bonus for me is, my middle name is more masculine, which probably can’t hurt.

    3. peasblossom*

      1.) Alongside what Reba said, in academia, it shouldn’t be a problem to go by a family name. You’d just want to a) be consistent throughout your publishing career and b) be prepared to be known by that name professionally. that means at conferences, jobs, speaking engagements, etc. in addition to publications you’d be known primarily by that name so you’d want to be fine with that.

      2.) It’s not a problem. Most people get around it by doing something to distinguish their name from others (like going by Jane P. Smith or J. Patricia Smith). Whatever you choose, it should be a name you’re comfortable going by because you’ll want people in your field to associate you with your name when they meet you.

      Really, don’t overthink this! Pick a professional version of your name that you feel comfortable going by and will want to use consistently.

      (For the top question, I’m in the US but have worked a lot in the UK and am not sure why it’s necessary to have the degree certificates reissued? Perhaps I’m missing something though.)

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

      Degree certificates generally can’t be issued in a new name, only the original name.

      1. Kali*

        What about for trans people? That’s the context I originally saw that question raised in, but no one was sure

      2. pancakes*

        That’s not correct. I changed my first and last names after I’d graduated from college, just because I wanted to—I’m not trans and wasn’t getting married—and was issued a new degree certificate. A quick glance at search results indicates that some schools charge a fee for this and some don’t. I don’t see an advantage to guessing rather than simply asking the registrar’s office and/or looking at the student handbook.

        I’m not sure I understand the question about publishing under other names. There is no central registry that approves or disapproves of publishing work under something other than one’s legal name. Many people use pseudonyms. Others change their names informally.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I think if a colleague confuses you with a fictional character or a *place* (for heavens sake) then the name isn’t the problem. Yiyr colleague’s grasp of reality is the problem.

      1. Kali*

        I didn’t mean they’d be confused, I meant they were low in the search results. You have to be quite specific to find their work.

  40. Lucy P*

    Some time back, someone posted a supposed quote from a celebrity. It said something the the extent that your life, job, etc. doesn’t suck, it’s your attitude. I’ve never hated my job, just questioned some of the things that go on there. Yes, some of those things, to me, really did suck.
    After that post, I tried to reevaluate how I looked at the job. Some things were my attitude. When literally 5 things broke at the same time, and it was my job to see that they got fixed, no one put the pressure on me to get it all done immediately, except for myself.
    But there’s other things that tend to say “maybe it’s not your attitude at all”. I work in a white collar office, where almost everyone has a degree, if not advanced degrees, in their field. When 2 employees, one a manager, got into such a heated argument that they almost came to blows and stormed out of the building, I thought maybe it’s not just me. Worse, big boss said to just let them go because they needed to get it out of their system.
    Then, right after Thanksgiving, one of the executives called me into their office to explain that we would not be given off the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s as had been customary. The reason, 60% of the employees had exhausted their leave. This was true. Normally, in this scenario, employees only had to use 1 day of leave. The rest of the time was paid by the company. A large portion of that 60% never has leave available at the end of the year. They either had to take that one day without pay, or in some cases, it was given as advance leave. The reasoning, thus, didn’t make sense to me. Plus, it was framed in such a way that we were supposed to be grateful for 2, 4-day weekends, as if the company had blessed us with a Saturday and Sunday.
    The company, like many, is in a hard spot, and has been even before 2020. If they had just said that because of the financial situation they couldn’t afford to pay for extra holidays, it would have been understandable. These holidays were never written as policy and I had always understood that there may come a time when we could not have them. This year, I was disappointed, but not mad.
    Then I got a call from someone at a company we’re partnering with. They told me that they had heard we were working through the holidays in order to get work done on a product that was to be released in early 2021 and thanked me for the hard work. I was floored by this, but just kept rolling with it. The same line was repeated in an email that I was copied on, from one of the executives to another outsider.
    2 weeks ago, my immediate boss told me that they needed to find new talent to work on a specific project. My boss kept saying, “I have to find.” I thought it was my boss’ project based on that. Instead, my boss pointed me in a direction and it became my project. Before leaving for the holiday weekend, my boss asked me to put time into it on Saturday and Sunday.
    So, is it my attitude? How would you feel?

    1. Kali*

      It’s possible that any individual could potentially find the right attitude to make any job bearable or even likeable…but, tbh, I’m very suspicious of anyone who would present “attitude” as the only possible problem and solution. Some jobs just suck. It sounds like your job might be one of those, or, at the very least, that upper management are handling the current crisis in a way which makes things very hard on their employees and which could easily be improved upon, even with the current constraints.

      Even in jobs which don’t outright suck, I think some jobs are just wrong for some people. I have ADHD and working in a call centre which timed literally everything we did was horrendous, for me. So was working in a lab under a hood processing covid tests in batches of 90 – we couldn’t move for an hour at a time. Some people actively enjoy those jobs or at least aren’t as miserable in them as I was. While there are things that could have been improved, both in the job and in my attitude, I don’t think those jobs being wrong for me is necessarily evidence of a fundamental flaw in either of us, just a mismatch. Like how you’re not compatible with loads of perfectly nice people.

      1. Lucy P*

        Reading all the stories of horrible bosses on this board, I think that people would really have to be…I don’t know what the word is…to have the attitude of “thank you, sir, may I have another.” You’re right, some do just suck.
        I’m not saying mine does, just aspects of it. Some days the BS is just deeper than others and harder to wade through.

        1. Kali*

          I get it. I mean, I’m basing my opinion that it sucks on a single post you wrote specifically about all the sucky aspects, during a really difficult time. It probably looks very different when you have more information.

    2. LQ*

      I think the is it your attitude thing is an interesting question.

      Reading through what you’ve written here it sort of sounds more like communication style mismatch rather than attitude, which I think is a very different thing. It sounds like a lot of things you’re supposed to have just picked up on (that “I have to find” meant you were supposed to speak up and say you’d do it and then at the end the boss got exasperated and said you had to do it over the weekend, the weird leave revoked to get other work done without saying that’s why) a lot of very indirect communication and things that you’re expected to just pick up on. It’s not uncommon but if that’s how it feels a lot of time it could be a communication difference between your company’s culture and you and that can be pretty hard to get past.

      1. Lucy P*

        I actually used to the “we” speeches where “we” means “me”. This wasn’t the case. Boss actually did do about 10 minutes of the work and then handed it over to me. I don’t even mind the work itself, although finding talent for immediate hire during the last 2 weeks of the year is seemingly impossible. What I mind is the duplicitous nature of why the holidays are shortened and then actually being asked to work on a holiday weekend.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d love to see what that quote was. I tend to discard quotes from celebrities’ and others at the top on certain matters. I think they have plenty of experience to speak about what worked for them and zero background to speak to what should work for the rest of us.

      Let’s say I work at a horse farm. I spent a part of my day mucking stalls. So if I apply this advice will all that horse crap turn into a bed of roses? I’m thinkin’ NOT. Reality is that a job is what it is and no amount of “positive attitude” is going to turn it into something else.

      It sounds like in this example here some celeb is all comfy in life and telling the rest of us to just adjust our attitudes. This kind of stuff reminds me of Glenn Frey’s “I’ve Got Mine”. I guess that celeb “got theirs”?

    4. Beth Jacobs*

      Yeah, I hate complex issues being reduced to a motivational poster.
      It’s absolutely true that your outlook really matters. I know people who complain about everything, claim to be “screwed over” a dozen times a day and just in general find faults with everything. I do think that sometimes you need to consider whether truly everyone else in the world is in the world – or if it’s just you. If that’s the case, I do think there are specific things you can do to feel better – one thing that has helped me is that when I get annoyed, I try to quantify what’s actually the impact on me and if it’s minor, I let it go. An example would be not whining about bureaucratic forms: if my employer wants to pay me for mundane paperwork, that’s their choice.
      But the quote “It’s not your job that sucks, it’s your attitude” is just plain out wrong. I’ve worked multiple jobs and my job satisfaction has varied so much in them! Sometimes it really is the job.
      To touch on your specific examples:
      the heated argument – that honestly sounds like an unhealthy work environment, it’s the job
      the holiday leave – I fault mostly the job since they should have told the employees that much earlier if they wanted them to save PTO for the end of the year.
      the project – This sounds like a case of crossed wires. I think you should have a conversation with your boss about what happened there so it’s clearer in the future.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think that celebrity who supposedly said that it was your attitude, not the job, had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Do you blame children for being abused by their parents? Because that’s what that quote is essentially saying.

      Yes, attitude matters. If you’re constantly negative, defeatist, etc that’s on you. But no, not everything is your attitude. Sometimes, the problem is someone or something else. This isn’t your attitude. This is your boss.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Look, the idea that things are only good or bad according to our mindset is a very ancient piece of philosophy. Like any philosophy, not everyone agrees with it.

      And it doesn’t make sense to try applying it to specific situations like a job, without acknowledging that it is a philosophical concept, rather than a life tip.

      I mean, to argue this precept is to argue whether there is objective truth. Is there such a thing as “good” or “bad” events? Does it make a difference if they are natural events, or human actions that have an element of moral choice?

      In practical terms, some jobs just suck, regardless of whether you’re trying to have a good attitude. Just like cancer sucks, and poverty sucks. Can you transcend the suckiness through philosohical detachment?

      Maybe, if you’re so inclined.

    7. PT*

      I’ve had some jobs like that, where both the job legitimately sucked and attitude affected it. I had a few coworkers who would grouse and ruminate on various things they HATED and were UNFAIR and it SUCKS and this should CHANGE and it’s SO STUPID and they made working there so much worse. I’d leave conversations with them feeling worse than I had when I started it. I’d been irritated or frustrated before, but they amplified it into misery.

    8. D3*

      That quote is ridiculous. Sometimes the job just sucks and no amount of good attitude can fix it.
      My boss angered EVERYONE by announcing on 12/23 that the business would close at noon Christmas Eve. Well, initially everyone was happy-ish. The hourly employees were less happy than the salaried employees, but it was nice to only be expected to work a half day on Christmas Eve.
      But *after* we got back from the holiday, he “reminded everyone” that if they didn’t work a full 8 hours the day before a holiday, there would be no holiday pay, as per company policy. And no one in the company worked 8 hours on Christmas Eve, because HE CLOSED AT NOON AND MADE US ALL GO HOME. The building doesn’t even open until 6 am. WFM is prohibited. He literally made it impossible for anyone to do what policy requires!
      So basically he found a way to screw everyone out of holiday pay under the guise of giving us the afternoon off.
      Tried to do it again yesterday but nobody fell for it and he nearly had a riot on his hands.
      Sometimes, your boss sucks, isn’t going to change, and a good attitude cannot fix that.
      It’s true bad attitudes can be fixed and improve things. But it definitely isn’t a cure all! To say otherwise is gaslighting.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I think we can very safely say that the problem was attitude in the instance you cite, but not your attitude, your boss’s.

      2. Lucy P*

        1st, I am so sorry. We have a similar policy, but it gives leeway for office closings, personal/family emergencies, etc.
        2nd, if there is any chance that you can push back as a group (without sever repercussion since this boss seems like a royal jerk), you may want to try that.

  41. Disappointed In Denver*

    A question for everyone here.
    Our company is an essential service and requires our employees to be in close contact with customers. If you’re looking for a comparable job for reference, we’re closer to personal shoppers than tailors. We need to be in the proximity of our customers (less than 6 feet) but not in constant physical contact with them. This is indoors and for an extended period of time.

    Right now, we have very clear safety protocols – masks, cleaning – and our employees tell us they feel safe in the workplace.

    I’m a senior manager who is one of a team working on these policies, including the owner of the company.

    We’ve seen quite a few articles on workplaces being allowed to require vaccinations when they’re available. We’re based in the US. We’re also considering this, but based on conversations I’ve heard around the proverbial water-cooler, I am worried that some (but not all) of our staff will consider this overreach.

    If we do this, we would offer exemptions for medical or religious reasons, but it would be very helpful to hear from people here. Are any other workplaces considering mandatory vaccines? How would we explain that we would still allow anyone with, say, a medical exemption to continue working unvaccinated as long as they’re still continuing to wear masks and follow safety protocols? There’s no version of the job that can be done remotely and we have staff who need this job to pay all their bills.

    It would be helpful to hear people’s perspectives on this. Thank you.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Just to give you a data point: I am vaccination’s #1 fan and plan to get one as soon as I can, but would consider this to be a bit of an overreach. I don’t want my employer interfering in my medical care and I wouldn’t want to provide proof of a medical exemption to an employer.

      That said, I can see the arguments for the opposite viewpoint and am interested in how others here view it.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I think it’s an overreach too. Can you offer to pay for the cost of the vaccination (if there is a cost)?

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          The vaccine is free in the US (and afaik, everywhere where it’s available right now). Maybe the company could offer to pay for the time spent getting it but I honestly don’t know how many folks that will convince.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m also a vaccine fan. With the covid vaccine, it’s not so clear-cut because we don’t know yet if the vaccine only prevents the vaccinated person from getting sick or if it also prevents spreading the virus to others. If it’s the former, then vaccinated people would be more likely to spread it further, because a larger number of infected vaccinated people would be asymptomatic.

        If the vaccine also prevents spreading the virus to others, the way I see it is that there’s more room for the employer to mandate a vaccine. At least in the medical field, it would be entirely reasonable to say that “if you won’t or can’t get the vaccine, you’re not going to work in the front line with vulnerable patients”. It’s not discriminatory as long as you don’t grant any exceptions for any reasons. Being allowed to work a certain job description is not a right that an employer can’t rescind. In my area, it’s not possible for employers to mandate vaccinations, but it’s entirely possible to limit certain job descriptions to people who have been vaccinated, and hospitals do this every year with the flu vaccine.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just off the vaccine to those who want it?

      I know plenty of people who are very worried about Covid, but they are also worried about the vaccine.

      One job I had demanded certain vaccines. okay, fine. The problem was that for MY setting, once I got a particular shot I had to sit in a doctor’s office for hours to make sure I was okay. Then I had to check in a few days later. Who paid for all that? Not my company. sigh.

      I suspect if you make it optional what will happen is the early adaptors will be the first to get it. In a bit there will be a second group of people come forward asking for it.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I plan to get the vaccine when it’s available to me, unless my doctor says not to. My CEO has publically encouraged everyone to get it. It’s pretty obvious that he would like to require it, but isn’t able to for whatever reason (yet). It is not an attractive look, because it’s also quite clear that it’s for very self serving reasons. He doesn’t like remote work.

      I think it’s appropriate for health care to require vaccination. I think it’s appropriate for all employers, regardless of the field, to ensure that employees and their dependants can get it free of charge if they want. Beyond that, you’re on very shaky ground.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I’d start with education first of all, before considering making it mandatory. Kizmekia Corbett (one of the virologists/immunologists who worked on the Moderna vaccine) has lots of great information on social media and lots of good articles written for a popular audience that address FAQs about the vaccines. Laurel Bristow and Jessica Malaty-Rivera are also excellent for this kind of stuff. Maybe start sharing articles and posts semi-regularly, with an excited, “Oh gosh won’t it be great when we’re all vaccinated” tone, and ask those who are closer to the front of the line to share their experiences.

      I’m ordinarily not a fan of “do this, and if you don’t like it you can find a different job” because capitalism, but we live in a society, FFS. It’s stupid to yell about individual rights without acknowledging collective responsibility.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree with your second paragraph. That said, I’m willing to make an exception in the medical field. Here, healtcare workers who work in the front line with particularly vulnerable patient groups know when they’re hired that they’re expected to keep their vaccinations up to date and if they’re not willing to do that, or have medical reasons for abstaining from vaccinations, they’re simply not eligible for the job. There are plenty of other jobs in the medical field where the requirements are less stringent. Although if I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to be treated by an anti-vaxxer given the choice. How can I trust their judgement on my medical issues if I can’t trust them to trust medical science?

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I work for a hospital system. We require flu vaccinations for everybody who doesn’t have a medical exemption (no religious exemptions). We will NOT be requiring, but are very strongly encouraging, the COVID vaccination for all staff, currently beginning with those who are patient-facing (which I am not).

      (But personally, I’ll be signing up for mine as soon as they’re opening our clinics to non-patient-facing staff.)

      1. mreasy*

        It’s truly upsetting to hear that a hospital that requires flu vaccine is not requiring the covid vaccine.

        1. PT*

          The COVID vaccine has been released under emergency use authorization, it would be a violation of medical ethics for a hospital to force their staff to get vaccinated against their will at this phase. That’s why hospitals are not requiring it yet, but say they will later.

      2. allathian*

        I hope people with medical exemptions aren’t working with particularly vulnerable patient groups… That would be risking patients unnecessarily. It’s not discrimination to make vaccinations mandatory for a particular job description. It’s not discrimination to require a certain level of physical fitness of a police officer or firefighter, or to join the armed forces.

    6. Wino Who Says Ni*

      Please do not force your employees to get the vaccine. As another customer service/retail worker, we already feel powerless about a lot of aspects of our jobs. This would not be good for general morale and would also increase turnover, which is expensive and destabilizing.

    7. AnonoDoc*

      While it is under Emergency Use Authorization, in the US no employer may mandate it. In health care we do mandate vaccinations for employees, both to protect our patients and ensure adequate staffing. There is no talk yet of making it mandatory even within my large org. I agree with other posters — educate first, do what ever you can to help create enthusiasm but do not in any public way even whisper “mandatory” within the next year.

    8. Anono-me*

      How about instead of a stick you use a carrot?

      It will probably be a about a year or more before covid-19 vaccines are fully distributed. It seems like asking for trouble to be asking employees where they are on the vaccine schedule due to their health? Will you require a doctor’s note saying which group they are in? How are you going to handle people with a sincere religious belief vs those with a sincere belief that the vaccines are dangerous? What are you going to do about people who think vaccines in general are good ideas, but are very concerned about how their minority group was represented in testing.

      Alternativly, what if you incentivized people to get the shot? You could offer 2 days paid leave (lots of people feel peaked for a day or two after vaccines) for people to go get the shot along with a $50.00 stipend for miscellaneous expenses, such as parking or a sitter.

      Yes, the carrot approach means you have to put you money where your mouth is, but the stick approach might get expensive also. You may loose people over a mandate, and probably your best most easily poached people. (Hiring and training aren’t cheap.) Also, it is likely that there will be lawsuits over this issue. You don’t want to be the test case.

      Finally, vaccinated or not vaccinated, the recommendations that I am seeing are to continue, masks, distancing, and handwashing until herd immunity is achieved.

      1. allathian*

        I certainly hope that handwashing and sanitizing will continue even when covid is a thing of the past, or a recurring visitor like the flu.

      2. Parenthetically*

        “Alternativly, what if you incentivized people to get the shot? You could offer 2 days paid leave (lots of people feel peaked for a day or two after vaccines) for people to go get the shot along with a $50.00 stipend for miscellaneous expenses, such as parking or a sitter.”

        This is an excellent idea.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      It’s unlikely you’ll be able to implement such a policy for at least a year. So your committee may be a bit premature – unless it’s standard to take several months to decide on this type of policy thing. The vaccines rolled out right now have emergency use authorization. Availability issues aside, you can’t make it mandatory until it has a normal authorization, which usually takes a super long time.
      In other words, hopefully, theoretically, by the time you’d be in a position to require staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the vast majority of them would already have been at some point, and we’d no longer be in epic crisis mode. If it turns out this is the sort of thing where we all need to be re-vaccinated yearly (or some other interval), which we don’t know yet, then yeah this would likely be a good policy at that point. But if you’re looking to this requirement as something that will help in the near-term at your company, that’s not a valid option right now.

  42. Beth Jacobs*

    How do you prefer to receive meeting materials?

    I know I’m overthinking this, but I’m curious on what’s the best way to distribute a short summary (1 or 2 pages) to participants ahead of a meeting. What I do is
    – Always send it by email. I considered using the Outlook function to attach files to meetings or shared folders, but I think people are least likely to miss a direct email.
    – I always send materials as soon as I have them finalised to give everyone maximum time. Sending them closer to the meeting might make the material fresher in people’s minds, but I don’t think it outweighs the negatives.

    I get mixed results. Mostly people seem to have read or skimmed the material, but sometimes it’s obvious they haven’t. Still, I definitely know these summaries are making my meetings run much faster than those I attend that have no materials and agenda. And even people who apparently haven’t read the materials have them in front of them while attending, providing some structure and avoiding obvious questions.

    I know I can’t get a 100 % perfect prep rate, but what works best for you?

    1. LQ*

      I really like it attached to the meeting because when the meeting pops up it’s right there.

      I think a lot of this is who is your audience?
      If you have a lot of very senior folks who are in meetings 6+hours a day, they aren’t going to pre-read in general. A few will, but not most. I sometimes rage read things ahead of time but only when I’m preparing for battle. Otherwise, most stuff should be either something we actually need a conversation around, something that’s not written such that it is understandable anyway, or something that you don’t need me to read but need sign off and I’ll skim and spot check and approve. A good well-written summary will make YOU better at the meeting, even if no one reads it. Especially at 2 pages, that’s for you. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. I always start with giant documents which I end up rolling up into something no one else reads and my message is “I recommend approval.” with a giant document no one reads behind it. But if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be doing my job well…It’s ok that no one is reading it in detail.It’s so much easier to have it when it’s needed.

      If you have folks who are all contributors who were supposed to have worked on/prepared something ahead of time then I think a separate email is a really good way to go and more time the better. I know someone who was a huge fan of attach to appointment and then resend with any updates like day of for freshness. Shared docs can also be good for this these days.

      I have someone who works for me who has a one-note and everything is in the shared (with me) one note, it’s my favorite thing these days. She can update it all she wants before our meeting. Occasionally I’ll peek in and take care of a thing or two, but it’s where it needs to be for meetings both super early when needed and up to date as there has been time to work on it. I didn’t really like onenote before but she’s converted me!

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Thank you, this is a really insightful response. I realise I’ve been focusing on “getting everyone to read my workproduct because I worked hard on it”, which isn’t actually the goal of the meeting: the goal is for higher-ups to finalise a decision or position that I’ve prepped. So you’re completely right about those summaries being for me, not for them!

        1. LQ*

          Don’t get me wrong I totally have those moments of “I worked really hard on this and no one is going to read it” too! Even when I know what it’s like and know that the approver can tell who’s done the work and who hasn’t. My boss just approved something that I spent …40+ hours prepping in like 2 minutes. But if I hadn’t, he wouldn’t have approved it all. So successful prepping. “Well I guess you thought of everything, go ahead.”

          It feels really good to be on the other side of that call. To see something that someone’s done that is so nice and well thought through that you don’t have anything else to say on it? That’s a huge relief! I always feel great about the people who do that work.

    2. mreasy*

      I would both email ahead of time and attach to the meeting calendar reminder. That’s what I do with meeting agendas and people are more likely to read them, even if it’s just when they get their meeting reminder 10 minutes ahead.

  43. How Now*

    Do you think just because something worked well for your boss, it should work well for you?

    For instance, my boss does well working completely independently. She is fine not having support, but does appreciate it (thus why I was hired.) She is a good self starter.

    I on the other hand love working with a team and thrive from it. I find that I need a supportive boss in some kind of aspect to do my work well, and do best collaborating with others and bouncing ideas off my team.

    My boss is leaving, and her boss is not a supportive or people oriented type. She said that she was fine when she was alone, I should be fine too. But as a team of two (now one) I feel my motivation dropping. I’m considering looking for another position, but the “I did great in this situation, you’ll do great in this situation too” is echoing in my head and I can’t help but wonder if that doesn’t have to be true?

    1. Lucy P*

      See Kali’s reply above to my previous question. We’re not all the same and need different types of working environments. On the other hand, can you give it a try for a few weeks and see if it truly isn’t a good fit?

    2. Batgirl*

      I’m a teacher; my boss likes teaching large classes and is good at it. My specialty is small group intervention for low literacy and when we were struggling to fit in everyone on my timetable she was all “Increase size of groups! I can do it. Simples.” But that’s not intervention! It can be good for mixed ability and challenge of high ability: but it’s not going to get the result out of me that I’m best at. I was able to show her a bunch of research about small groups and my track record at getting rapid progress out of low ability went a long way.
      Some things to ask your boss:
      “Did you find you did well because of, or in spite of that set up?”
      “Do you think that’s true for everyone? Has everyone else you’ve managed found this helpful when they tried it?”
      Lean into any differences in your roles/acknowledged strengths: “As you know, I had great success with y project and that’s because of x approach”
      Also, go in with a solution instead of just a problem. She may not have any people to give you. If you’ve got some ideas that can readily implemented it will help.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You can ask your exiting boss to advocate that you have someone in the support role.

      Not every one thrives on their own. I work alone just fine. But if I can pick, I’d rather have someone else around to bounce things off of.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Of course it’s not true. People prefer and need different things.

      If your boss is a reasonable person, then what she means by “you’ll be fine” and “you’ll do great” is that you can get the work done and be successful by reasonable standards. That part is probably true.

      But you are looking at the situation from a different perspective and asking different questions – will you like working that way? Will you be satisfied with your work? Will your stress level be manageable? Basically, will you still be happy in the job?

      I mean, it’s possible. And it’s certainly not worth quitting without anything else lined up, so you’ll have the opportunity to try.

      But no – on no planet is it a given that just because something worked well for your boss, it will automatically work well for you. Especially when you’re starting with different definitions of “working well.”

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this is spot on. Frankly, I think the boss is coming across as a bit tone deaf. Just because something worked for her doesn’t mean it’ll work for the OP. After all, there’s a reason why the boss is moving on to something else now.

  44. so tired*

    What do I say to my boss when we get back from our holiday break about my newly messed up family life?

    My parent was hospitalized with COVID for two weeks, just recently getting out. It’s ruined their kidneys, requiring dialysis. The prognosis is not good. I’m mostly angry about it, because my ill parent is a major enabler to my narcissist parent and they have spent the last nine months telling me I’m a terribly stupid and selfish person for following social distancing/CDC guidelines and not seeing them because “family!!!”

    I told my boss that my parent was hospitalized and things weren’t going well. My boss is extremely supportive, and there’s no problem if I need to take time off. But I’m positive he will ask how things are going when we’re back to work Monday (remotely still), and I’m not sure what to say – “My parent is dying and my other parent is taking it out on me” is not a really cheery way to start the new year. I really appreciate his support and flexibility and I don’t want to keep him completely out of the loop, but I don’t want him to feel awkward or like he can’t share his family updates.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Take that preemptive strike.
      “Hi Boss, I just wanted to run something by you before it came up in ordinary conversation. My parent is not doing well at all. we do not expect them to make it. My remaining parent has a serious set of struggles that I’d rather not go into. This is kind of where I am going- I really appreciate how supportive you are as a boss but if you don’t mind I’d like to avoid conversations about my parents and their health unless absolutely necessary. I don’t mind you or anyone else talking about what is going on in their families, that’s fine. Barring a huge event, I’d like to use my time at work as time out from all my at-home stuff.”

      1. Moi*

        This. I did the pre-emptive strike as well when my daughter was hospitalized. There was no way of hiding it because she was a patient in the same hospital that I work. I sent an email saying as much as I felt comfortable sharing and also told people that it was difficult for me to talk about. So they sent supportive messages to my email and smiled at me as.i walked passed them in the halls. It worked well for me.

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

      Focus on practicalities of what you actually need in the way of time off or similar and don’t get into the family details unless there’s a reason to, such as mental health aspects or caring responsibilities. I feel like you fear the other parent. Do you think they could potentially cause consequences at your work (e.g. showing up and causing a scene?), if so, you probably need to tip off the people in authority (managers and HR etc) at your work.

      1. so tired*

        Luckily (if that’s the right word for it lol), the other parent has a history of the silent treatment so it’s highly unlikely they would show up at my work. However, it’s a good point and I’ll have to double check my emergency contacts to make sure they are not on the list allowed into the buildings.

    3. RagingADHD*

      You can just give a minimal answer: “It’s a tough situation for all of us. Thanks for asking, I appreciate your support.”

      1. BRR*

        This is great language. If it’s true, you could add something about work being a nice distraction. Ask how his New Years was etc if you’re worried he’ll feel like he can’t share.

        But there’s no need to provide a 100% clear picture of everything in your life.

      2. PT*

        “Parent A is still unwell and Parent B isn’t handling it well, it is a very stressful situation.”

        Also, from my experience of having heard many similar summaries at work, it’s fairly common for a family member to get quite ill and their spouse/other close family members to act out and create added drama on top of the existing stressful situation surrounding, so this won’t sound unusual.

        I’m sorry and I send you well-wishes!

        1. LGC*

          OP might even be able to leave off Parent B! It’s not clear from the OP if so tired’s boss knows about Parent B’s abuse.

          I’d tweak it to say “Parent A is out of the hospital, but still not doing very well.”