open thread – January 15-16, 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.

{ 1,146 comments… read them below }

  1. Should I apply*

    Resume advice needed, how to show increasing responsibility without a title change?

    I have been at my current role for 6 years. While my title hasn’t changed I have had increasing levels of responsibility. I want to show that growth but am not sure the best way to do that. I am sure I am overthinking this but isn’t that half the fun of writing a resume?

    Ways I have considered
    Putting is as a separate accomplishment, with project specific accomplishments underneath. Example:
    Increased responsibility from technical contributor to technical lead to project manager & technical lead.
    Developed new method for drinking coffee, that increased sales revenue by 100%
    Identified key coffee drinker needs that were not being met, developed solutions, and successfully pitched project to business leaders.
    Putting the level of responsibility for each accomplishment
    As Technical lead developed new method for drinking coffee, that increased sales revenue by 100%
    As Project Manager & Technical lead identified key coffee drinker needs that were not being met, developed solutions, and successfully pitched project to business leaders
    Leaving off the level of responsibility
    Developed new method for drinking coffee, that increased sales revenue by 100%
    Identified key coffee drinker needs that were not being met, developed solutions, and successfully pitched project to business leaders.

    Also when listing your accomplishments do you list them chronologically or in order of importance?

    1. Who moved my cheese?*

      What about a line in your cover letter that describes the increasing levels of responsibility? Your resume example also looks good. I list my most impressive and relevant accomplishments first.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was at a job for 8 years with a generic title, so I list my top 4 accomplishments on my resume along with a blurb describing my role. As long as your accomplishments are the kind that you would have at a higher level for your role, it should be clear that you grew into the role and made those achievements. I wouldn’t worry about showing the growth, as long as you have strong accomplishments, it will be clear that you are at the top of your game.

    3. Anon for today*

      I’d do this two ways:
      List out the roles:
      Technical Lead, 2015-2018
      Project Manager and Technical Lead, 2018-present

      … and then organize accomplishments by importance, and within that by increasing level of responsibility:
      As Technical lead developed new method for drinking coffee, that increased sales revenue by 100%
      As Project Manager & Technical lead identified key coffee drinker needs that were not being met, developed solutions, and successfully pitched project to business leaders

      1. Anon for today*

        Oh, to be able to edit! I know you said you didn’t have title changes, but if your role has changed it seems reasonable to note that.

        Good luck!

        1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          I agree with this; I had a job for many years with increasing responsibilities and although I never had a formal title change, I was able to break it up into 3 chunks with titles that no one I worked with would have argued with (think Teapot QA worker, Bestselling Teapot Model QA worker, Lead Teapot QA worker) – while there wasn’t formally a team lead in that role, if anyone at the company was asked who knew the most about Teapot QA and could problem solve, etc. they would have named me.

          That said, if you feel more comfortable with designated roles only, I’d agree with other commenters that you can list your most impressive and recent accomplishments. It’s normal if you grew in the role to the point where you were doing more senior tasks, and hiring managers will understand that progress.

      2. Momma Bear*

        This is how I did it. Had the overall length of time with the company and then the length of time in each role.

    4. Octopus*

      I think you should list the level of responsibility (Technical Lead, etc.), but perhaps not put it first in the bullet point, and instead incorporate it at the end, so the focus is on your accomplishment. E.g., “Developed new method for drinking coffee…leading/managing/driving,etc. effort as Technical Lead.”

      1. should i apply?*

        I do like this idea, leading with the role seemed a little awkward, as it seemed to be more of a job duty than an accomplishment. However, I am in product development and there is a significant difference between be a contributor and a lead, and now I am an acting project manager even though my title doesn’t reflect any of that.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          I think you could put a line exactly stating that: “Acted as Project Manager for the Coffee Drinking Improvement Project.This 2-year project with a team of 4 increased client coffee drinking by 35%”

          I’m working on my resume right now and I’m doing something similar. My industry is a bit of a stickler for titles, so I don’t want to misrepresent anything, but I do often take on projects in my current role that are well above what my current title would indicate (hence the reason I’m updating my resume).

    5. Should I apply*

      Also sorry for the bad formatting. I was so excited to be the 1st poster I didn’t look over how post formatted.

    6. Tabby Baltimore*

      I have no advice, only to lament that we can’t put line graphs or charts in resumes, ’cause a picture’s worth a thousand words.

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      I have a relevant “extra stuff that’s not in my job title” on my resume, and I call it out as you do in the first example. It’s the first line, because it puts the other lines in context. “Hired as stable hand; three weeks later, was acting head of IT.”

      But in this case, you might not even need it. It’s not unusual for people to grow towards tech lead and/or project management without getting an official promotion, and you might have enough to just “show not tell” that you’ve reached that level.

      I would also not try to separate the “solution” and the “new method”, as if I understood correctly, those are talking about the same thing. It’s relevant that you identified and proposed this project, and also did the tech lead stuff on it, so I’d put them together in a way that makes it clear. E.g:

      Identified key coffee drinker needs that were not being met, and successfully pitched project to business leaders. Led the development of a [buzzword] coffee delivery system that increased sales by 100%.

      In general, I don’t think you have to go strictly by chronology or by importance. You’re telling a story. Assume limited attention span; put the good stuff up front. But don’t sacrifice context. If you need to mention A so that B makes sense, then A goes first, even if B is objectively more important.

  2. Alternatives to "hi guys"*

    I try to use gender-neutral language where possible but I’m really struggling to find a stand-in for the word “guys” for work emails. “Guys” is the perfect combination of casual&informal-but-not-overally-familiar. I can’t imagine writing “Hi folks” in an email. I stick with writing “Good morning/hi all/everyone” but that sounds weird to say out loud.

    Have you found any satisfying alternatives for “guys” at work?

      1. BubbleTea*

        I say folks, all, or everyone. I’m from the north of England – I know folks and all can sound different coming from different accents/backgrounds.

          1. KaciHall*

            Well, they do if you are from the South but living in Indy. Though I think that’s just because it takes twice as long to say it in a Southern accent.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Well, I’m from Michigan, and nobody bats an eyelash when *I* say “y’all.” Though I have gotten a couple of side-eyes when it’s followed in short order by “aboat”.

              “What do y’all think aboat that meeting agenda, hey?”
              “… Where are you from again?”

            2. Anonymous is In the Northeast*

              I happily say y’all in my New York accent. If questioned, I say I’m on the phone with Kentucky a lot. And that it sounds much better than “youse guys.”

        1. Birdie*

          I live in the Midwest but grew up in the south. I tend to use, “Hi all” in email, but in person, it’s “y’all,” and the only people who comment on it are other ex-southerners who want to ask where I’m from.

          1. I'm just here for the cats.*

            I use hi all in emails too but I’m not from south. It stems from working at a company and our chat feature. If you wanted your chat to show to everyone you’d have to put @all. So @all there’s donuts in the break room.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      “Good morning everyone” / “hi everyone” isn’t as weird to say if you picture yourself speaking to a larger audience. If you were giving a speech, you’d start with some variant of “welcome, everyone”. I’ve said “hi all” in emails and out loud for a while.

    2. TheseOldWings*

      I’m not sure what the context is in sending emails, but we typically use “Team” when sending to a group of people at my company.

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          Same- I personally use these three, and these three only.
          Good morning Team,…
          Hello All,…
          Hi Everyone,…
          A greeting for most every occasion!

      1. Cat on a Keyboard*

        Me too, I like that it sets a collaborative tone for the email contents, even if we’re not a defined “team” working together most of the time. Could be project team, department team, team of people trying to resolve this issue right now, etc. Even when it’s a little hokey it still works.

    3. Orange Crushed*

      I’ve received a few emails that were addressed with “Hi team”. (My colleagues think it’s cringeworthy, but I don’t mind.)

      1. TheseOldWings*

        I thought “team” was cringeworthy when I first started at my current company as well, but basically everyone uses it so it’s pretty normal now.

      2. KayDeeAye*

        I use “Hi, team” a lot. I quite like it.

        I have no problem with “guys” used in a gender-neutral way, and from the frequency with which it is used, I’d say it’s very, very common. But there are people who dislike it a lot, so while I do use it, I wouldn’t start an email that way.

        1. Bopper*

          Some thoughts on using “Guys” as a default term for a group of people:

          https://www.wiley.com/network/instructors-students/education-trends/im-not-your-guy-dude-why-language-really-does-matter

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/01/30/girls-ladies-folks-heres-a-visual-guide-to-what-you-should-call-that-group-of-individuals/?sh=3adf4d6a6619

          https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/08/guys-gender-neutral/568231/

          https://blog.npmjs.org/post/120475872425/this-is-npms-guys-jar-we-didnt-invent-the

          1. I want to be Amy Santiago too*

            That’s good information Bopper. I also really, really like guys, and also am trying to remove it from my language. It’s a work in progress.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      What’s wrong with folks? I use that one and ‘friends’ sometimes.
      I’m in the south and lean heavily on y’all (such a good inclusive and easy word).

            1. Usagi*

              I believe BCE was referring not to “y’all” as in “you all” but “ya’ll” as in “ya/you llama(s)”

              … I’m kidding, of course, but I kind of want it to be a real thing.

      1. SnapCrackleStop*

        I write emails with “Hi, folks” all the time! Internal and customer-facing (though not formal emails.)

      2. Batgirl*

        I wish I could pull off y’all! Scouse accent, so I really can’t. We say “youse” regionally but it’s not seen as appropriate for work…

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I’m born and bred in New York, and somehow I’ve ended up using “y’all” a lot at work. Sometimes it’s the best word.

    5. Neosmom*

      How about using “gals” instead of “guys” and see the reaction you get? I’m sure using gender neutral group terms will get more comfortable after that!

    6. londonedit*

      I don’t think there would be anything weird about saying ‘Hi everyone’ out loud. For something even less formal I’d go with ‘Morning all’, but that may be a British thing.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Actually, I find “gals” pretty cringe-worthy, probably because it’s a dialect version of “girls,” which should not be applied to grown women at work.

        I like “everyone” or “all” better.

        1. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

          I think the point is that it’s a counterpoint to “guys” and points out that “guys” isn’t gender neutral.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood”*

            I have to remember that all the time. In my little spot on Long Island, guys was gender neutral. I could walk into a Girl Scout meeting and say hi guys and they would all say hello back. It doesn’t work so well now that I’m across time zones with lots of other people. My new neutral is “everyone“. (I do fall into saying y’all sometimes too, but then again I read a lot online so I’m also picking up Britishisms like “brilliant” for a clever AAM comment.)

    7. Midwestern Weegie*

      I have thoroughly embraced y’all, despite not being from a geographic area where it’s used (considering I grew up in the UK, it sounds absolutely absurd, which I think is why I enjoy it so much). It really is a perfect gender neutral collective term.

      1. JustaTech*

        Y’all fills a very specific gap in the English language: a separate and distinct pronoun for the second person plural. When I was learning Spanish in high school and we were having problems with when to use “tu/usted” versus “ustedes” my teacher finally said “ustedes is y’all!” “Ohhh” chorused the class. (Not that we were allowed to use y’all in class, because it isn’t proper English. Sigh.)

    8. miss chevious*

      With my internal team I say “hi peeps” because we are informal like that. (Ironically, my team is all women at the moment, so I have to fight the urge to say “hi ladies” because I don’t want to get into that habit and then have to change it when we get a male team member.) When something more formal is required, I use “all” or “team.”

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I like “peeps” for a casual (within my team) spoken greeting too. For email I go with “everyone”.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Worse options: gang, squad.
      So-bad-it’s-good option: starting every meeting with “Avengers Assemble!”

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

        hah. I love the “avengers assemble”
        Similarly over the top silly depending on your audience: “My esteemed colleagues” “My most excellent associates” “My trusted accomplices” “My respected peers”

        1. Grace Poole*

          I love using terms like this, but only in an email to a smaller group of people whom I know would get the joke. It’s not something I’d add to an All Staff email.

        2. Alice Ulf*

          I once entered a room with “Greetings, programs!” but in all fairness it was our IT office. :D

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

            For a non-IT audience you could replace “programs” with “Greetings Humans”

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I constantly want to do this and do not (I do not work in IT).

    10. Chaordic One*

      Personally, I think “guys” is fine, but some women don’t consider themselves to be “guys” and find the term offensive and exclusionary. My default terms have become “People” and “Everyone”.

        1. Oatmeal*

          It’s only gender neutral because it conveys how men are the default. Ie you can say hi guys and mean everyone, but not hi ladies. That’s the kind of thing gender neutral phrasing combats (as well as just being more inclusive in general).

      1. MNLiz*

        Same – it’s very much a regional thing. Here in Minnesota “guys” is used in a gender neutral way and is basically an equivalent of how “y’all” is is used in the south.

    11. Erika22*

      I use “hi all” or “hi everyone” if it’s a bunch of people, or “hi both” or “hi X and Y” if it’s just to a couple people. I feel like using “hey” instead of “hi” sometimes help keep things casual. In real life I use y’all or just say hi/hello. I’ve thought about this a lot because I was intentionally trying to stop using guys too!

    12. Anon here again*

      I’ve used just a plain “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”, but it’s usually for addressing higher-ups or people that I normally don’t talk to. (I wouldn’t use it for my own team. It might be considered too formal or cold.) I was trying to be funny once and used, “My esteemed colleagues” in an email and that gave them a laugh. Otherwise it’s “Dear all” or “Hello all”.

    13. Jay*

      I say “folks” when speaking and use “people” or “team” in Email. Or nothing at all – “Hello!” “Good morning!” are just fine on their own.

      I use “y’all” in conversation. I’m not from the South but the equivalent term from my hometown is “youse” which just – ugh. I never write it.

    14. 404UsernameNotFound*

      I like “Hi all” in writing, and a very slurred “hey y’all” that comes out more as “heyall” in speech (south of UK).

    15. wordswords*

      I like folks personally, but I think that’s something that depends a lot on your region and style; if it doesn’t come naturally out of your mouth, it can feel really artificially, well, folksy, I gather.

      Seconding “hi all” or “hi everyone/everybody!” On a sufficiently informal team you can do “hi peeps” or “hey gang” too — I’ve gotten both from my team lead and not blinked, but there are definitely workplaces where that wouldn’t fly.

    16. Firecat*

      A lot of people, not everyone, consider guys and dudes gender neutral. So I would say it depends on your audience and what you are hoping to accomplish.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        I hate Dude. A dude is Jeff Spicoli, or some rube with a big cowboy hat and no idea how to ride a horse, and I just can’t. But it’s not a word used much around here. (South Dakota)

        I rarely start an email with a greeting. I just start. We used memos at work before email and work emails tend to still follow that style. So no greeting is expected. And that always just carried over to personal stuff for me. I might throw down a “Greeting!” “Hey cuz” or “Howdy stranger” but it’s not at all the norm.

        To: minion@address.edu
        Re: explosion and fire
        What the???

        This form also eliminates the need for Yours, Sincerely, or…

        I might add a closing like “Looking forward to seeing you when the lab decontamination is done” or “when things are sane again”

        but usually not. I blame it on too much time spent communicating with engineers.

    17. Asenath*

      Well, I rarely used a greeting at all. If I was emailing an individual I knew well, I might write “Hi”; to someone I had never met and to whom I was making a formal request (that is, I wasn’t merely adding them to my email lists for information a group might need or find interesting, like upcoming presentations), I’d start with Dear Dr./Ms./Mr. Lastname. Mostly, for anything I was sending to a regular group at work, I’d just dive right in with what I had to say. Sometimes I was emailing to two groups who were usually somewhat separate, and then, to ensure both groups knew I intended to email, I’d start off with “Finishing Team and Preparation Team: The new regulations listed below will affect work on both teams….”

    18. Just a PM*

      I’ll use “Hi everyone” for casual emails to my team. “Good morning/afternoon” or “All” for things that are more business-y or have senior leadership included.

      I do occasionally bust out a “Howdy folks” when I’m feeling particularly folksy but that’s rare.

    19. Anonymous Educator*

      I use folks all the time in emails. Everyone or team (if you’re on the same team) can also work.

    20. Mockingjay*

      Team or All.

      Hey team – for informal stuff
      All, please see attached for the approved document. – tend to use this one for higher-ups.

    21. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      At my office, folks is the norm.
      I just don’t like that word.
      (and peers. “speak with your peers. meet with your peers. Awkward to me.)
      No reason other than personal preference.
      so I say, “hi all,” whether in email to a group.

    22. Maggie*

      I say everyone, I don’t think it sounds weird out loud or in writing. Or I write Hi Team, Hi All, Hi There. My office is very conscious of these things so I’d rather sound a little cheesy than offend a higher up

    23. RagingADHD*

      I always think “everybody” sounds a bit less formal than “everyone.”

      “Hey, everybody” sounds quite natural.

    24. Bagpuss*

      In email, I usually go for ‘Hi All’ or ‘Dear All’ depending on the e-mail. (I personally tend to use ‘Dear All’ when it is a more formal message, such as when I am circulating a new policy or giving instructions, and ‘Hi All’ ‘Hi’ or ‘Good Morning/Afternoon’

      In person, usually just “Hi” or “Good Morning” (or afternoon, as appropriate) , again, depending on how formal it might be.

      I personally don’t like ‘folks’ but that may just be me, or it may be me being British!

    25. Momma Bear*

      Or just “Good morning!” and then proceed into the email. Dep. on the company I have also seen ALCON (all concerned).

    26. Quinalla*

      Folks and y’all are my two go-to replacements for guys which I agree is a nice mix of casual but not too familiar. Other things I use at work are: Team, everyone, all. I much prefer any of these to folks who try to use “Guys and gals” or “Ladies and Gentlemen” because those leave out non-binary folks and there are weird connotations with pretty much every gendered-female term.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Heh. I’ve been in meetings where there were one or two men present among many more women, and the greeting was “Hi ladies!” If women can be “guys” then men can be “ladies”, right?

        Generally speaking, the team is consistent about using terms that acknowledge the mixed-gender group, it was just funny to see such a common trope gender-flipped for a change.

    27. Zephy*

      I sometimes start emails to my immediate team with “Hey kids,” but it’s a joke because I’m the youngest person in the office.

      “Hi folks,” “hey everybody,” or just “good morning/afternoon” are all perfectly fine.

    28. Sylvan*

      I received an email beginning with “Happy Friday, y’all!” as I read these comments. “Folks” and “y’all” work for me, but this place is both casual and actually in the Southern US. These words aren’t new additions to our vocabulary.

      You could use “team.” Your “everyone” and “all” examples sound fine to me. You could also just start with “hi.”

    29. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’m a fan of “hi folks” or “hi all” in casual communications. For a more professional email I go with “hi colleagues”.

    30. Mary*

      Wow, great ideas here to try out! Some of the ones I use in speech/informal chat that I don’t think have been mentioned yet: heyoo, hiyas, yas, youse.

    31. Choggy*

      I usually put Good morning/afternoon as the salutation, but don’t include anything else. I do use “All” or “Team” depending on the audience as well. I have used “Guys” too but that’s only because the rest of my team is all men.

    32. Scout Finch*

      I use “Colleagues”- some people may be above me in standing, but we are all there to support the same mission.

    33. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I have always hated “guys” in a professional (or semi-professional) context, gender issue aside. To me it’s incredibly overfamiliar and inarticulate. Maybe I’m just a stick in the mud but I’ve always preferred all, everyone, colleagues, members of [team], or specific names depending on the context.

    34. TC*

      As someone who’s spent a long time trying to omit “guys” from my vocab, I say “Hey there” a lot at the beginning of meetings. I find there’s really no need in my mind to distinguish saying it to one person or a group. People know it’s a group or not, I don’t need to define that in my greeting.

    35. Natalie*

      My team tends to start emails with, “Hey peeps,” which is short for people…but we’re also pretty informal in emails within the team, so that might not work for your situation.

    36. Generic Name*

      Sometimes I’ll say “peeps” if it’s coworkers I’m close with. You can also say “team”.

    37. Observer*

      Have you found any satisfying alternatives for “guys” at work?

      It depends on where you are. I use guys all the time – including for female only groups. In my neck of the world “guys” is not seen as gendered. On the other hand, if I ever tried to use “y’all” some people would be looking at me like I have two heads and others would be wondering if I’m trying to poke fun at other regions or groups.

      My point is not that you should continue to use guys, but to look around what is used in your circles. Take that as your starting point.

    38. PurplePartridge*

      I’ve used “friends” mostly when talking to other team members at the same level. “Team” is pretty common at my current org.

      Also, thank-you for trying to avoid “guys” in your language! I know plenty of people consider it gender neutral, but as the only woman on my current team, I really notice when I’m addressed with “guys”, “dude”, etc. I’m not annoyed enough to point it out, but it always irks me a little.

    39. Forensic13*

      Anyone else watch Tiger King and become really tempted to start using “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” as a gender-neutral greeting? (I’ve been taping a lot of screencasts for students lately and I’ve been so tempted to start saying that. Because I am basically without the capacity for embarrassment.)

    40. Toothless*

      It’s become somewhat of an inside joke with my work crew of 5 people that our PM uses “ding-dongs” instead of “guys”, usually in the form of “you guys… woops, sorry, I mean you ding-dongs”. The generally accepted substitute in the Seattle area where I live tends to be “folks” though.

    41. Mr. Shark*

      In an e-mail, I would go with Hi Team or Hi All, or Good afternoon/good morning, or specifically to the persons addressed in the e-mail.
      I don’t have a problem eliminating it from my formal speech, but from a normal conversation, guys seems to work a lot better than any of the alternatives, or if I’m referring to a smaller group of people, say, three or four, that do not make up a team.
      “What do you guys think about painting the teapot white?” versus “What do you all…” or anything like that. None of the other options sounds normal/casual enough. And I think using it in this context is gender-nuetral.

  3. Work laptop*

    Which websites are okay to use on your work laptop? Are any of the below?

    Google Calendar – I use it extensively to plan work project stages and relevant dates, but also use it for personally-relevant dates.
    Google Drive
    Advice blogs like AAM, Captain Awkward.
    LinkedIn
    News sites (WaPo, NYT, Slate, local news, etc)
    Forum sites like MetaFilter
    Amazon & other shopping sites

    1. ThatGirl*

      Personally, I think most if not all of those are fine, but I’d read over your company policies to make sure there’s no specific language about any of it.

      Most companies I’ve worked at have basically said “limited personal use” is fine — and most people I know at a minimum do things like check their personal email and visit news sites on work time on occasion. IMHO it’s more about how much time those activities are taking up than where specifically you’re visiting (obviously as long as it’s not, like, adult content or that sort of thing). Plus, I work in marketing — I have legitimate reasons to visit Amazon, Wayfair, YouTube, etc during the workday.

    2. kittymommy*

      Truthfully, depends on where I’m at. Currently I’m at worked and my laptop is plugged into the server but I would still go to all those sites except for the forum site. At home when I’m wireless they’re all fine. Even though I’m in government our IT department is fine with stuff like this as long as where not downloading a bunch of stuff (and we can’t load software or anything ourselves). I currently have the following sites open: FedEx tracking, AAM, NPR live stream, Facebook, and a couple of government sites.

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

      I use most of those on my work computer (not sure about Metafilter, but I use safe-for-work reddits and similar things which I guess is comparable).

      Depending on what you do and information security restrictions around it, using Google Calendar and Drive for work stuff are the two that would bother me most although they are innocuous in themselves, due to the possibility of company documents/information leaving the company servers and going up in to ‘the cloud’ somewhere with who knows what security settings. (I do work in fields where info sec is paramount but this could also apply to things like “meeting with John Smith to review financial position” depending on what you do.)

      1. Security for real*

        This. No problem using Google services for personal things but company data stays on company cloud so unless your employer uses Google Suite that would be a big no-no. Same for any apps or services that are not company provided (so no Trello or whatever for company tasks unless its company provided account etc).

    4. Ashley*

      Those sites are generally fine I think, but most of this goes to company cultural and the time you are on them. Being on Amazon during lunch in most places isn’t a big deal, but if you are there constantly I think that could be the issue.
      In some ways it is helpful to know how your company tracks you and if you aren’t sure I tend to default I am being tracked so I will save work passwords on my computer but nothing that would let them into my calendar that could also have personal information on it.

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 – for me, using google calendar for personal events would be totally fine and using it for work ones totally not.

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I mostly look at work related stuff on my work laptop and use my phone to look at unrelated stuff

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      All of those are fine on my work laptop. The real question is—are they fine on yours? Company policies vary from company to company. They may even vary within a company for different departments.

    7. Might Be Spam*

      I don’t use any websites that need any of my personal information on a work computer or network even if it allowed. The computer system where my daughter works got hacked and many of her coworkers suffered identity theft issues as a result. The company’s IT insurance didn’t cover any of the employee’s losses. Fortunately she used her phone for her personal internet use and didn’t have any trouble.

    8. voyager1*

      Honestly those are all probably fine, it is just going to come down to how often you are frequenting them.

      Personally this is what I do:
      I do AAM on my phone.

      Any news sites on my phone. Anything that can get me tagged for my beliefs I do on my phone.

      I can’t read Capt Awkward.

      I don’t really frequent forums.

      I shop from home, be it Amazon or somewhere else.

      I have the LinkedIn app on my phone.

      I don’t use Google drive or calendar.

    9. Annie Moose*

      I don’t think this is something people on the internet are going to really be able to answer for you! It’s all dependent on the way your company handles laptops and internet usage.

      At my current company, work laptops are basically treated like personal laptops–by which I mean literally no one cares if you use your laptop for personal things off the clock, and we have no internet filtering, logging, or restrictions installed on our laptops. I still wouldn’t do anything questionable like watching porn or pirating movies on it, but otherwise I treat it very similarly to if it were a personal laptop.

      However, there’s other companies that have very strict rules about only using laptops for work-related activities. If I worked in a very strict place like that, I likely would try to avoid doing personal things at all… except maybe stuff like emails that are pretty minor.

      Of course, most companies are going to fall somewhere in the middle, but at the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows where on the spectrum your company is! If you’re unsure, ask a coworker who’s been there longer to get their take.

    10. Quinalla*

      Most companies those would be fine. I tend to keep more personal things on my phone (or right now on my home computer and only do work stuff on my work computer that I remote into), but I don’t worry about it too much as limited personal things is fine on our work computers per company policy. But yeah, I have always been ok with some work/personal overlap – for me that is the best way to manage my work/life to do some personal stuff at work and do some work stuff at home – some really like to keep it separate. But yeah, make sure to check with company policies and/or your manager on anything you aren’t sure about because there are some jobs where only work-related web browsing is allowed and they don’t want you linking anything personal. I have my personal onenote logged in at work because I keep one big “to do” list (GTD style) in my onenote which includes personal and work and I’m not putting that on a work account just in case I leave in the future to go elsewhere. I did verify that was ok with our IT prior to doing it as they are pretty reasonable, but it was one I wasn’t sure about.

    11. Parenthesis Dude*

      I wouldn’t use Google Calendar, Drive or LinkedIn on my work computer. The problem is less that my work would have an issue, and more that anything I do on my work computer gets tracked, and that means they’re tracking my personal e-mail. Not good.

    12. Stephanie*

      Google Drive is blocked on my laptop if I’m on VPN, but all the others are fine. We’re told limited personal use is fine. IT will block some websites as suspicious when they’re not (probably due to some security issue I don’t understand). But with full time WFH…I can just go to an iPad or my personal computer for a lot of that stuff now.

    13. allathian*

      All Google sites are currently blocked on my work computer for information security reasons. They don’t want company data in the Google cloud. Google drive is definitely verboten. Advice blogs are fine, as long as I get my work done nobody cares.

      News sites are fine, although they do frown on excessive video use, so text is preferred.

      Job-related social media sites like LinkedIn would be fine. We have corporate Twitter and IG accounts. We used to have FB as well, but I’m not sure if that’s the case any longer.

      Limited use of shopping sites would be fine, although unless I need to buy something with the company card, I really don’t see any reason to do shopping during working hours. The only time I’ve shopped for something that was’t directly work related was when my favorite band was coming to town and I wanted to book decent seats.

      I use my Outlook calendar for personal (can be flagged personal and private so my coworkers and boss only know that I’m unavailable at that time) and job-related appointments during working hours and my own phone’s Google calendar for personal appointments at the weekend or in the evening. Currently those aren’t really an issue.

  4. WWYD?*

    Colleague “Allen”, while running a Skype meeting, shared his screen and showed a Skype conversation between himself and “Rob”. (Rob was not a part of the meeting.) In the conversation, Rob was talking about looking for another job. That Skype window was up for about 20 seconds, plenty of time to see the entire thing, before Allen clicked away to the meeting agenda.

    At the end of the day this happened, Allen (conveniently) left for a month of field service work on a job site. Now an entire team of people might know that Rob is job searching, including a VP and director, while Allen is out of pocket.

    I have no way of knowing if this was accidental or intentional on Allen’s part. Rob and Allen are fairly equal in rank, but part of different divisions. It’s feasible that they might be competing for some type of promotion, but it seems unlikely given their current jobs, which are specialized and somewhat dead-end positions.

    Rob is stiffly formal and terse when we’ve interacted, but warm towards others during the same conversations. I get the impression from his manner, and from a few comments he’s made, that he feels my department is superficial and less important than his (I’m in marketing, he’s in STEM). This obviously makes me dislike him, which is making it difficult to see the situation impartially.

    Would you approach Rob and tell him what happened, or mind your business and say nothing?

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      I’d MYOB. But I’m petty. If he was terse and cold towards me, he might assume that I had told others as well.

    2. Sherm*

      I would assume that exposing the job search was an accident, especially if Allen seems like a good guy. Besides, you don’t know if Rob is actually go through with a job search, much less get another job. If this or something similar happens again, it’s Allen I would talk to: “Hey Allen, you need to be more careful when you share your screen. There was some information about Rob that I don’t think he would want to disclose.”

    3. Octopus*

      MYOB. The situation doesn’t impact you directly, and it’s not your news to bring to Rob, especially since you don’t have a relationship with him that would warrant it. If you were close friends outside of work, you could give him a head’s up not to discuss job searching on workplatforms. But bringing it up (what might have been purely accidental, or not have been seen by those if they weren’t fully engaged at the time (as is common during the beginnings of meetings, imo)), would just stir up drama. There’s nothing either party (Allen or Rob) can do about it now.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Agreed. What is he going to do about it, anyway? I would only tell someone about an event like that if there was a clear action that they should take, or if there was a foreseeable consequence that they should be aware of (eg, if someone had seen it and commented “We better talk to Rob about this”)

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yeah. It almost certainly was an accident–it’d be quite an elaborate scheme if Allen did this on purpose! And even if Allen did do it on purpose, there’s nothing you can reasonably do about it. You’re not responsible for Rob’s chances at a promotion (which, if he’s job searching, he might not even care about…), and it sounds like you don’t even know him or Allen very well. Stick to your own team and your own job, in my opinion.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You’re in the clear here. I recommend just staying in the clear and let everyone else sort themselves out.

      The take away here is keep an eye on Allen to see if anything else is going on that DOES impact you. Allen might be a good egg over all and this was a genuine mistake.

    5. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      My first thought would be to tell Allen that he was not as quick as he thought he was.
      Why tell Rob at all?
      “Hey, Rob, Allen accidently shared your job search conversation during a Zoom meeting.”
      If this needs damage control (and that’s a big if) it is on Allen.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’d say MYOB.

      I’d also say you’ll have a more pleasant and satisfying work life overall if you stop making up imaginary dramas (like Rob and Allen’s fictional rivalry, and what you think Rob thinks about your department).

      None of that has anything to do with you or your work, and saying something to Rob would just make you a shit-stirrer.

      1. WWYD?*

        The parts you call “making up imaginary dramas” are the parts that this community nitpicks if left out (possible motivations and interpersonal issues). They were included to stave off questions.

        People really can’t win here.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Relevant facts (not speculation) about interpersonal dynamics can be helpful in complicated situations.

          This is not a complicated situation. It’s just none of your business.

          Yeah, there are a lot of people who write fanfiction about the situations in questions, because most readers are just here for their own entertainment.

          I’m just saying don’t write fanfiction on your own life. It’s not good for you.

          1. Cassidy*

            “…most readers are just here for their own entertainment.”

            We are? Speaking for myself, that’s news to me.

    7. Distractinator*

      yeah, say nothing. If you assume it was accidental and everybody in the meeting saw it, make a mental list of who Rob is most likely to hear it from. You’re probably in the lower half of that list. It’s not your problem. It’s probably not even a problem at all (yes, people look for jobs all the time, and it might not even be a secret) and if you are the 4th person to come to Rob with this scandalous gossip about him, he’s going to be really fed up. If it wasn’t accidental it is absolutely drama you’d want to stay out of. Say nothing.

    8. BuildMeUp*

      Oh gosh, I think I disagree the other responses here. I understand the impulse not to get involved, and I definitely understand that Rob’s treatment of you makes it hard to want to be nice to him. But if I were Rob, I would absolutely want to know, whether or not the reveal was intentional on Allen’s part. The kind thing to do, imo, would be to give him a heads up.

      1. Observer*

        Why? What would Rob do about it? Why is this useful for Rob to know? And why should the OP take the effort, which could easily look like they are just trying to make themselves look important or are being a pot stirrer?

        1. BuildMeUp*

          Rob can’t build a time machine and prevent the info from getting out, but he can prepare for the possibility that a manager or coworker might find out and bring it up to him, for example. I would want to know and not be blindsided if my boss decided to bring up the job search I thought was confidential.

          As I said in my comment, I think telling Rob would be the kind thing to do.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              Sorry, I think you must have meant to reply to another comment? I didn’t say anything about OP having a responsibility to alert Rob.

    9. Quinalla*

      Is Allen unreachable or just less available? If just the latter, I’d let him know that he had that up for a while and others may have noticed besides you. Let him handle it with Rob how he wants. If you were close to Rob, I’d say just let him know if Allen is completely unreachable right now, but since you aren’t close, I don’t think you have to feel obligated. I would just because that is how I operate, but not everyone would and I think that is a valid choice.

    10. PollyQ*

      Given that plenty of other people could (and probably will) clue Rob in, I don’t see any necessity for you to be the one to tell him. And -1 for Rob for interacting so differently with colleagues. That’s just rude & unprofessional.

    11. Observer*

      What are you trying / expecting to accomplish? I don’t see anything actionable here and there are just too many unknowns to say that this is genuinely information the Rob needs to have, even if it’s not immediately actionable. And, given what you’ve described, it’s too easy for this to wind up looking like useless pot stirring / trying to make yourself look important.

    12. allathian*

      I would definitely stay out of it, it’s not your responsibility. You don’t owe Rob anything beyond coolly professional treatment, given how unfriendly he is and how dismissive he is of your own work and department. You definitely don’t owe him the sort of heads-up that you might give a coworker you’re friendly with about maybe not talking about job searches in private convos that can be shown by accident (or on purpose) to others.

      What’s your relationship with Allen? It’s a bit unfortunate that he’s at another site for so long. If he had been at your own site you probably could have asked what was up, if you have a good relationship with him. I’m prone to giving people the benefit of the doubt and assume that Allen showed the private convo by accident.

  5. Spillz*

    Would love advice from people who have made a switch from a salaried job to a base + commission role! I currently have an offer on the table, but am not sure if I am crazy for considering it. 

    Here’s my situation: I currently work in a corporate setting, and what I came on do to (events) is almost non-existent with the pandemic, so I have been filling my time other ways, and am truly grateful that I’ve been kept on during this time. However, the organization is to put it nicely, a mess, and even though I haven’t been doing what i”ve been hired to do, I’m not sure I want to stick it out here long term. 

    Enter: the new role. Over the summer, my job cut my pay, so I ended up picking up a PT job working customer service for a startup in the health/fitness space, and it’s been great. I was a customer of the company for about 5 years before I started working here, and I truly have a passion for it. When a full time role came up recently, I tossed my hat in the ring, and ended up getting an offer for the job!! 

    Here’s the problem: I currently make around $85k PLUS the additional side income from my PT role. The new job is offering a $50k base + commission ($80K OTE), so it would be a SIGNIFICANT reduction in base pay, but if I actually hit the OTE would get me close enough that I would be comfortable taking a small cut to work for a company that I truly enjoy/have a passion for.

    Is this a huge mistake? Would love thoughts from anyone who has gone through this previously – good or bad!! 

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just did this, but I got an increase in base pay. I’ve never been in a sales role before, so it’s important to me to have a “back up” if I don’t make my goals. I’m also selling things that people in my industry need in order to make money, so there’s that.

      I completely get your hesitation, but I will say that unless you’ve done this kind of work before… I would be super hesitant.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d be asking a ton of questions when it comes to the variable compensation piece. Just some that pop into my head:

      -What did the top performer on the team earn in terms of variable comp as it pertains to goal? If the top performer isn’t hitting 100% of goal, I think that would be a gigantic red flag.

      -How realistic is their OTE target? What does the average sale do in terms of your revenue goal towards OTE?

      -Are you inheriting any accounts? If so, does those count towards your OTE? I’ve seen some comp plans where inherited accounts fall into a ‘house account’ bucket where you’ll get paid a small amount to manage but they don’t count towards your overall revenue goal.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        Similarly as what the average person hits in terms of goals and OTE, knowing both top performer v regular person can give a better overall outlook.

        I’d be curious how the last year has been and what their continued covid outlook is. Perhaps in normal times this would be a slam dunk of a role but recently has become an impossible task. Or maybe their business is booming, who knows! But you gotta ask.

        Ask about how often they pay out commission, when you could expect to see your first commission, and also ask beyond expanding your own sales what kinds of raise opportunities exist. For instance, last company I worked at didn’t pay commission til they got paid, which was awful. Terms (set by state, controlled substance) were 60 days so you went two months before your first commission check, and planning your life was very tricky because your earnings reflect work from two months ago (fwiw, this is not industry standard, so in my other roles we all got paid our commissions weekly or monthly and there was much less of a struggle in planning that way).

        Know that large commission drops will be taxed more heavily up front. It “works out in the end” but it feels rather painful when you’re expecting a big chunk of money and it taxes you as if you’re making much more money than you are. (If anyone knows how to avoid this please please I’d love to know)

        Unclear from the job but I’m curious if this is a role that will require you to be on call/available outside of traditional hours. What makes it tough in my world is that there’s no standard hours, and so if you’d like to pick up a side gig it makes it that much harder to do so.

        I don’t know – I’ve worked 100% commission and I’ve worked a structure like the one you describe, I’m not totally against it and I liked things about it. But I know right now I’m looking for salary because variable pay during a pandemic is rather volatile and that stress literally will wake me up in the middle of the night.

        1. Atlantian*

          For your taxes question, if your HR/payroll allows it you can adjust your withholdings on your W-4. I would ONLY recommend this if you have the knowledge of exactly when that check will drop, use the IRS calculator to see how it will affect your overall yearly withholdings and ensure that you will not be under-withheld at the end of the year and be penalized for it. Also make sure your HR will let you make the necessary number of changes in such a short time period. Basically, be very cautious, but it can be done to at least get more of your bonus/commission than you would have otherwise and not have to wait for the remainder at the end of the year. People here do it for their bonus every year, but that is the last check of the year, so it’s not so bad if it carries over to the first couple of checks of the new year, since it’s only once a year.

    3. cosmicgorilla*

      How likely are you to ht the OTE? Are there others currently in the role that you can ask about their experiences?
      How much effort would you have to put in to hit the OTE? If you hit the OTE, would they up your quota the next year (making it harder for you to hit)?

      If you don’t hit the OTE, can you manage your expenses? Do you have a cushion if you have some low-commission months?

      Personally, and this is coming from someone with no sales or commission experience, hedging your bets on the perfect future scenario is risky. This feels to me a bit like the folks who got mortgages based on expecting their future salaries to increase, and they were badly bitten in the ass.

      On the other hand, if you think you have a future in this industry, and you wanted to get out of the other one, you might be more accepting of the risk than I would be.

      Other question – if you stayed in your current industry but at a different company, do you think you’d command the same salary?

    4. Weekend Please*

      I would keep looking. Even the best case scenario here involves a salary cut and the minimum take home pay sounds unacceptable to you. If you need to hit the maximum possible commission every month, it really isn’t a good fit.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d also want to know how often commissions are paid? If they pay on a quarterly basis (not unheard of) that may screw up your budget.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Make sure you understand how the commission is structured and just how often that structure changes.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        how often that structure changes.
        THIS!
        They can switch from individual, to group commission.
        They can restructure territory (to bring a new person in at a lower base but with a head start in clients.)
        They can decrease the percentages.
        Right now they are selling you POSSIBLE income, not actual income.
        Not to mention, how much of the job is selling and how much of your after hours/weekends will be administrative work to catch up the week?
        Are you ready This is an awesome opportunity for someone starting a sales career, whether a first career or second.
        If you look at this like, “my current field is insecure, and I should start looking at different career paths,” then still do your due diligence, but also think of it as a starting position.

        1. Spillz*

          Thanks! This is somewhat of a pivot for me, and I am trying to frame the question in my mind of am I willing to take this risk in leaving a stable job in order to get a foot in the door/start a sales career, so trying to determine whether it is the right opportunity for me.

          My current field of events IS somewhat insecure at the moment, and I have also been considering for a while a change to something more like this as I think there is more long-term growth in this career path vs events, but just trying to determine how much risk I am willing to take. The one big positive for me is that I have already been working at this company for ~6 months and feel that I have a good grasp of the company culture, and also of the potential for growth.

    7. RC Rascal*

      Experiences sales professional here.

      There are a lot of games companies play with variable sales compensation. The biggest game is to set goals and compensation that isn’t actually attainable. Some companies also have a philosophy that the sales person should never achieve 100% of bonus and deliberately manage the organization do you can only achieve a portion of it. And if you do achieve all of it heaven help you the next year because you are expected to top it.

      Also — be aware annual bonuses are taxed at the top tax bracket. Commission is taxed at income.

      1. Natalie*

        Bonuses and commissions are taxed exactly the same, as earned income. The *withholding* may be higher, depending on how they are actually paid out – supplemental payment or added to your regular paycheck – and if the latter, how large the face value of the check is. But that is a somewhat arcane feature of how withholdings are calculated, it has no impact on your actual tax rate.

        1. RC Rascal*

          I have been receiving supplemental bonuses for close to 20 years. While I’m not an accountant I can tell you the tax rate has always been much higher than my regular paychecks. After health care, 401k, plus the additional tax burden I see slightly over 50% of my bonus. This is not the case with regular paychecks.

          1. anon2*

            You’re talking about withholding on that particular check. Your overall tax rate for the year is not higher for the portion of your income that was a bonus. If your income puts you in, say, the 23% tax bracket, you will pay 23% of your income for the year in taxes, period, no matter how much of that was bonuses.

          2. Karina Lutze*

            Yes, as Natalie said, your withholdings may be higher. But your actual all in tax rate depends on your total income and not whether it was base pay or bonus. When you do your taxes each year you will receive the extra withholdings back as a refund if you paid in too much based on your total annual income.

    8. jph in the heartland*

      I may be reading this wrong, but is this sales position in the health/fitness space selling memberships to a gym? If that is the case, I would NOT do this! I have seen how this works in our local gyms, through both my trainer and my son-in-law, and it is set up so that the corporation makes money and the salespeople don’t.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Also, COVID. I’ve hesitated to JOIN a gym in my new-ish town because they’re not open at full capacity and the limit on the limited capacity keeps changing. I want the dust to settle before committing, so I’d definitely feel that way if it was going to be my income.

      2. Spillz*

        It is not! Sorry, busy day but popping on to provide more information. It is completely virtual, not in a gym – without giving too much away, players put down a bet that they will accomplish a certain goal, such as losing x amount of money in a period of time, and whoever meets the goal splits the pot, with the company taking a cut. There has definitely been a spike in users recently with people being home more, but I feel confident that it will continue on after the panemic, as I was a user for ~5 years beforehand – and people always need motivation to lose weight or work out! :)

  6. Flaxseed*

    I work in the administrative part in education. I work with part-time employees from other schools. (They have a different boss than me.) Some of them applied for my position. One part-time woman, “Rose”, will make comments to me when she calls. One time she said, “Oh, you’ve made it 6 months in the position.” The last time our phones were down and Rose tried to call. When they were back up, she said “I thought that you had left because you found a really cool job somewhere else.” (No, Rose, still here.)

    Rose is a good worker and knows her stuff, but has trouble with organization and following a process to and from completion. My boss knows this and has admitted this to me (in private.)

    I ignore Rose’s comments, but it’s grating because I’ve worked with people like her before and maybe I’m naive, but I would never talk to someone or say anything like what she says to me. That and she lacks the skills, yet thinks that she’s entitled to the position because she’s been working in her position for years or thinks that she can do the job/do it better.

    Is there any way to deal with people like this? Is ignoring them the best option, or should one say something? (And what do you say?)

    1. Satisfactory Worker*

      I think being blunt but not nasty is the best thing.

      Rose: “Oh they’re still keeping you around?”
      You: “What an awful comment. Why would you say that?”

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I like THIS — we’re often too reluctant to be candid about what someone says to us. When they go over the line, ask them WHY?
        When someone asks you ANY personal question you can say, “Why do you ask?”

        It changes the direction of the conversation and puts them on the spot. They may be too dense to realize and just answer you that they “want to know” — you don’t owe them a big explanation.
        Just letting them sit there after they whine that they want to know can make the point.
        They’ll either talk more and maybe revealingly, or get worked up, or figure it out.

        1. Vermont Green*

          When you use the “Why Do You Ask?” strategy, you can embarrass and hurt the person to whom you are addressing it. It can be useful with family or friends sometimes, but at work, the idea is not only to maintain your boundaries, but also to keep relationships cordial and productive. If you make a colleague feel bad, there can be repercussions throughout the rest of your working life. The solutions involving cheerful deflecting and changing the subject are the ones that will keep things rolling along smoothly.

          1. WellRed*

            How does asking someone “why do you ask” hurtful or embarrassing? I would also say, even if it is (disagree) someone who asks a question they shouldn’t gets the response they get.

          2. Pop*

            Yes, I think that is partially the point. “Why do you ask?” is useful for questions that are not appropriate for work or uncomfortable for you. It just returns the awkwardness of the situation to sender.

          3. allathian*

            Normally, yes. But if the other person is making you feel uncomfortable and awkward nearly every time they open their mouth, you’re entitled to return the awkward to them. The goal is to stop them asking the sort of questions that make you uncomfortable. If they’re a peer, it’s unlikely they’ll have the ability to damage your career in any way. People like this are also likely to do the same thing to others, and are unlikely to be promoted above you. Of course, if such a person happens to be your boss, it’s a tougher line to draw.

            Aggressive cheerfulness is likely to work better with some people who are trying to make you feel uncomfortable on purpose. If it’s just the sort of verbal klutz who only opens their mouth to change feet, this will go right over their head and they won’t understand that what they’re saying is inappropriate and hurtful unless it’s spelled out very clearly.

    2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Personally, I have always responded with aggressive cheerfulness, because it tends to drive these people nuts when their dig goes completely unacknowledged. They are looking for a reaction that indicates they’ve hurt or wounded you, which I joyfully refuse to give them.

      “Oh, you’ve made it 6 months in the position.”
      “Sure have! I’ve learned so much in such a short time, and have gotten wonderful feedback so far from [boss]. It’s a great feeling to know I’m doing so well this early on.”

      “I thought that you had left because you found a really cool job somewhere else.”
      “What could be cooler than this? I’m so happy in this position and glad that [boss] agrees it was a great fit!”

      I have successfully driven some Negative Nancys absolutely bonkers with this approach.

        1. AGD*

          Seconded. The instigator has to be much more overt this way if it’s meant to be the workplace equivalent of negging. Either they push it out into the open (in which case they are obviously the jerk), or they knock it off (in which case, awesome). One of my colleagues did the former to me last year and soon got hauled into the office of the higher-ups.

        2. Elenia*

          So I always joke about this. I am aggressively cheerful about everything, I joke that I can’t help it because my blood type is literally B+, i.e., Be positive. But half the time I don’t even notice when people are trying to sting.

          1. Engineer Mom*

            That’s great. I’m B+ too and when I did the Gallup strength finder a few years ago Positivity was in my top 5 strengths. The flip side of positivity though is while you excel at looking for the bright side, once you are pushed over the limit it’s like you totally shatter. Which is where I’m at with my current job. :(

        3. Aziraphale*

          Definitely! I’m tempted to put this on a small post-it on my desk as a reminder. It works with colleagues and it works with others (I work with the public). And it can turn things around in a conversation when a person who is expecting a negative response encounters relentless cheerfulness and a happy attitude.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I do this too. Aggressive cheerfulness, and repetitious aggressive cheerfulness. I have a moody coworker who is now ignoring me rather than trying to take passive-aggressive swipes at me. Much better.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          This works for over-competitive people, too. I didn’t even know until someone else told me, that I really frustrated a competitive coworker because I never even noticed her competitiveness and was cheerfully congratulating her on everything. Apparently she was trying to make me feel bad and I didn’t notice.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I had someone do this to me in a personal context. She had to *tell* me she was trying to make me feel bad about something, while the entire time I was just mildly surprised that she had been telling me X, Y, Z personal things about her which I would have thought weren’t really my business.

      2. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        I’m with this.
        True story:
        “Wow, you still working on that project? I thought you’d have given up by now!”
        “hey, thanks for asking. I had some bumps, but I am really loving it. I have some cool ideas for the X part.”
        “Oh, well, yeah, I meant, like it’s hard, I know you can do it. I was just saying, like it’s a tough project.”
        “that’s why I took it!”
        Because of course she meant it in the most positive way.

      3. Batgirl*

        I always find it easy to be cheerful with a Rose because they’re so amusing. If there’s anything funnier than someone who’s wounded by their own ineptitude, I don’t know what it is. I go with something that implies we are clearly talking crazy here: “No Rose, if I was going to run away to a life of leisure, you’d be the first to know!” Just turns the whole thing into a farce and Rose has to either smile at the joke or scatter back to her dark corner.

      4. Free Meerkats*

        Yeah, there are only two effective ways to fight this type of person; aggressive cheerfulness or gray rock. And AC is much more enjoyable.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      hmm. I have said, “You made it 6 months!” but there was surrounding context such as, “The first six months is the hardest, and you made it six months! It’s going to start to get easier now.

      I am going to assume there was no surrounding context.

      I think it is helpful to realize that just as someone may sound odd to me, I also may sound odd to them. And this happens often.

      But hold it in the best possible light:
      “Oh you made it six months.”
      “Thanks for recognizing my 6 month anniversary. I am happy about that.”

      “I thought that you had left because you found a really cool job somewhere else.”
      “Aw, Rose, nope I like it here so far. But thanks for wishing me an even cooler job!”

      I am not sure why this is grating on you. Do you like the job? Do you think the boss is satisfied with your work so far?

      The times I have heard people talk like this is because they themselves are unhappy in the job. I think here we see enough to kind of understand that Rose is not happy. To me it sounds like she likes you and wonders why you are in this awful place.
      Uh, heads up, sometimes the Roses of the World are actually correct. Yeah, I have a story of a woman who eventually told me to get out of the place while I was still young enough to find other opportunities and she was right TIMES TEN. It was the worst job- I cried all the way to work and all the way home.

      So I would continue reacting flatly the way you have been. Or if you like your job it’s okay to say that too.

      My thoughts here would change if there were other things to consider in her conversations with you. I am just saying this on what you have here.

      1. Flaxseed*

        “I am not sure why this is grating on you.”

        I was trying to figure this out as well. I’ve dealt with comments from others in this position and previous positions. Plus, she acts like a know it all and while she is smart and knows some info, she has trouble with basic tasks. (I worked with a woman like her in my last job who was like this, so maybe it’s triggering those memories?)

      2. Momma Bear*

        I’d do this and then quickly switch to whatever she’s calling about. “Yup, sure am! So what was it you were calling about?” While it’s annoying, I think the best “revenge” is to keep doing a good job.

    4. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      “No. I accepted the full time position and plan to stay. Did you think something else?”
      and let her stutter about the job and whatever other crap she wants to say.
      Then ask why she called.
      And when she brings it up again, remind her you’ve explained and you’re done.

  7. Agnes*

    So my problem is I suck at my job.

    I’m a professor and primarily do research, represented in my field by grants, and some teaching. I’m up to 20 unfunded grants in a row; at this point I am mainly writing them because it’s expected of me and when I get to 56 unfunded I can say my chances are statistically equivalent to 0. My teaching evaluations are also unbelievably bad. My attempts to move to administration have been, understandably, met with the reaction that those jobs are for people who have research and teaching skills.

    I’m not likely to lose my job in the short run, but I won’t be able to keep this up forever. Theoretically consulting is a possibility in my field, but my attempts have found only small potatoes. There are no structural barriers keeping me back and I’ve been encouraged and supported since my birth. I got my job on my advisor’s and my grad school’s reputation, and I suppose this is the chickens coming home to roost (I am also massively overpaid.)

    How can I turn this around? I swear I do try – I seek and incorporate feedback early and often; I’ve been to tons of workshops on both grant-writing and teaching; I revise after every grant and every semester; I do midterm and final evaluations with my students and peer observers. My time management is almost aggressively aligned with my priorities. But none of it seems to help. I work about 40 hrs a week, so not a huge amount, but I’m already putting some time in on the weekends and I think I would struggle to do more – maybe that is the issue?

    This all predates the pandemic and my field is one that is helped by it, anyway. I just hate sucking at the stuff I do all day, every day, even though I don’t mind and even enjoy the individual tasks.

    1. Not Your Average Jo(lene)*

      Just a question for you… how do you engage with the students? Do you actively engage and have good rapport? Some of my favorite professors who made a difference in my career were not the smartest and didn’t go to the best schools. One didn’t even finish his PhD bc of cancer. He was ABD. I can still call on them if needed. I know that admin looks at research and teaching, but there is more to education than that. Connecting, empathy, caring, etc are all important to students. (Obviously, this post comes off as the “fluffy” stuff bc I have a background in counseling, but the fluffy is what helps people stay in jobs and stay in school! Just a couple of my thoughts. Also, keep your head up. I am glad you care. If you are putting in extra work, that is a good sign. I hope it all works out for you!

    2. Forensic13*

      I teach college students, but only as an adjunct, so I can’t speak to the research part. But for the rest: what do you /like/ about your job? Do you enjoy research? Writing in general? Do you like anything about the teaching aspect?
      I won’t add specific teaching feedback because you haven’t given details, but I’d say that’s the first thing to think about. If you pay attention to what aspects you do enjoy and what skills you do have, that gives you something off of which to build.

      1. Forensic13*

        Oh, also, you mention that you incorporate feedback early and often—do you feel that you might be trying to please too many students/types of students and are becoming too “bland” that way? I am a WEIRD, slightly obnoxious teacher, because that’s my thing and I lean into it. (I show it off early so students can bail if they hate it.). It works because I work on making my style, topics, and ideas interesting so that they’re appealing on their own merits, bringing the students to me. I know some teachers who go the opposite direction and try to change their topics to please every student, and from what I’ve heard, it tends to get rather mealy-mouthed. (And then I do still give them lots of flexibility for their own projects.).

    3. Butch in the Office*

      What do the evaluations say? It’s hard to know what you should change without knowing what the students are saying.

      Sounds like getting students to have a more positive experience may be easier than successfully winning grants. Maybe you should start there and focus on adapting to meet the needs of your students.

      You could almost think of it like customer service. Within the rules you have, and the outcomes you need for the students in terms of what they need to learn, you probably have more room to make choices than you think. How can you make the course a positive experience for the students? What do students want? Start there.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Agreed. It’s tough to give advice without hearing more specifics on the feedback you’ve received. I do imagine this is a tough part of being a professor though, in that unlike K-12 educators you typically don’t need formal training on teaching before being hired for the role.

    4. PostalMixup*

      I don’t know what field you’re in, so this may not be relevant to you. I’m in life sciences, and one of the reasons I went into industry was because the funding situation was so terrible, and because I saw how many evenings and weekends my dissertation and post doc advisors put in and had no interest in that life. By the time I defended, a 10% success rate for funding was considered high. My postdoc advisor couldn’t get her work funded, even though she was considered a rising star in her field. My SIL is a professor, and she works all.the.time. I’m not saying it HAS to be that way, but there’s a very real chance that you’re not actually terrible at your job, but that being a professor is just brutal. So maybe think about what it is you really want to do. Is it teaching? Maybe you could step back from research and focus on that (though you may have to change institutions to do so). Is it research? Honestly, I’m doing some really awesome stuff in industry, and work-life balance is real here. Is it truly being a professor? You might have to put in more hours.

      1. Sherm*

        Yeah, I admit my eyebrows rose a little when Agnes said “40 hours,” since the professors I know work far, far more than that. (Not that I like that situation, but that’s the way it is.) I’m sure that most professors don’t work those hours just because they love working and can’t imagine doing anything else with their time, but because that’s what it takes to succeed. Agnes, maybe your field is different and 40 hours or a little more is OK, but one thing to consider is whether longer hours are necessary and whether that’s something you could accept.

        1. KeinName*

          I think some successful tenured professors actually enjoy working a lot. Also, the more senior you are the more committees you are part of and the actual research and publishing is done outside of the standard 40 hours I suppose.
          I would not advise someone to just work longer hours but rather look at what they want out of life in general.

          1. PostalMixup*

            I think some do enjoy it, but I also think that willingness to work a lot was how they became successful. My dissertation advisor was a big name, and he loved to work. Rumor has it that his wife once joked that she knew he’d never have an affair because Science was his mistress and he didn’t have time for another. I routinely got emails from him at 3am and weekends.
            My postdoc advisor and SIL are both pre-tenure. The time commitment doesn’t bother SIL, but Postdoc Advisor was always frazzled and frantic and complaining about the long hours. She definitely would have cut back if she thought she could.

            1. Cedrus Libani*

              There’s definitely a selection process. All else being equal, the people who live and breathe their field will outperform the people who don’t.

              Very early in my career, I took on a volunteer commitment that took over my life for several months. I promised myself that it wouldn’t affect my work. I kept the same hours, and never did any volunteer work on company time. I was SHOCKED at how much less productive I was. As it turned out, I was using my spare time to idly turn over work problems in my head, such that when I was actually working, I knew what to do. But during this time, my brain dropped all thoughts of work the moment I left the office. So I had to do my head scratching on company time, and it really, really showed.

              FWIW, when I was younger, my field was my life. I couldn’t imagine anything I would rather be doing. But even though I genuinely enjoyed the work, my mental health couldn’t take it. Science is hard, things go bad, and when your whole life is science…

              I’m in industry now, paid (well) to nerd about, but I will never be a star. That’s OK. I have a family, and I have hobbies, and I have interesting work.

        2. Esmeralda*

          As an assistant professor, I regularly worked 60 hours/week during the school year. 25 – 40 in the summer when I was not teaching (research, writing, reviewing and revising my class syllabi and preps, attending conferences and workshops, grant writing — less important than in my field, etc)

          My husband is a full professor. In the summer I’d say he works maybe 20 hours a week, depending on whether he has a writing project going, reads for work, some prep for school year administrative tasks ; 50 – 60 during the school year — all the stuff I listed for asst prof plus administrative duties.

          University and college professor is not generally a 40-hour-a-week job.

          TEaching evals: Hard to advise you on this without knowing what the problem is. (I win teaching awards and I still get some crappy teaching evals — almost always well-deserved…) Can you specify what the issues are so that we can make some suggestions.

          And, you may just not be suited for teaching, although I do think that this is an area where effort and good intentions can be helpful, especially if students see it.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, have you gotten with your peers and compared notes? Are you really as big an outlier as you think or more average. I know grants can be really tough to get in some areas and a little easier than others. As far as student evaluations, I don’t have much advice here except again, talk to your peers, but evaluations aren’t everything. Are students engaged and learning in your class day-to-day or all barely awake? Use the evaluations as one piece of data to judge with others.

        And yes as others have said, do you like your job? It sounds like you’ve pursued some ways to improved, but have you gotten with peers or mentor(s) to give advice on if there is something more valuable you could be doing?

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I agree. I have a friend from grad school who worked way more than I did, did a post-doc which took up much more of her time than my industry job, and is now a successful professor who started out working 80+ hours/week and probably hasn’t slowed down much. She loves the research, but not the life. She said her student reviews are always a mixed bag but (my guess is) that’s most likely due to the nature of the challenging topics she teaches, not how she teaches or connects with students.

        Speaking of, student reviews are somewhat useful but they’re always going to be skewed by bias. Do you teach a hard subject? Are you a tough grader? Do you enforce less popular policies? All that to say, if you’re continuing to work on your teaching and still not seeing results in the reviews, it might be something you just can’t control or fix.

        OTOH, I had worked in industry before, during, and after grad school and knew that was the life for me. 40 hrs/week is typical for my field, I enjoy what I do, I don’t have to write grants for a living, and my salary is good. Even if you’re in a field that doesn’t have a direct industry equivalent, there are most likely parallel careers that might appeal to you and won’t leave you feeling like you are now.

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I don’t know but sucking at job solidarity. I’m always missing a form or running out of time to hit the deadline or saying something awkward. It’s been like a year and a half and I *suck*

    6. Alex*

      It could be that the places where you lack skills aren’t things you can just incorporate feedback about and magically fix. They might be things that you need to really invest in improving. Do you have a mentor you could ask about advice on how to improve your specific weaknesses? Have you been able to look at a successful grants and identify why those were successful? From what you write here, it sounds like you’re doing things that check the box of “I tried to improve” like working a certain # of hours or attending workshops, but you might need to just really specifically target your exact weaknesses and identify what improving them would really look like. If you don’t know what success looks like in your work, you can’t move towards it.

    7. Ashley*

      Do you have any former students in your department you could get feedback from? I tended to dislike most professors outside of my major mainly because I didn’t care as much about the subject matter so the bar for a good evaluation was higher.
      It is odd that a good teacher would make a good administrator as I feel like those are very different skill sets and why wouldn’t you want to keep the best teachers in the classroom? Could you translate your field of study into non academics?
      The other option is to rethink this in terms of what are your strengths, what can you do full time and succeed and look for jobs accordingly.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      Former adjunct instructor & corporate trainer here. Teaching is hard. And it can be physically, mentally, & emotionally exhausting. Not everyone is great at it, but most people can be good at it with some effort & practice.

      I was required to take a pedagogy class as part of my MA (most grad students were TAs – we taught Comp courses). I found it really useful, along with finding mentors. Do you have any one whose teaching style you admire & would be willing to have regular chats with you? Is there a local group you could join?

      One of the best things about good teachers & trainers is their generosity in sharing their experience with those who are still learning the ropes.

    9. Wondering*

      Do you want to get better at it, or would you be happier pivoting to something you’re already good at or have natural strengths in? To be frank this sounds like the ever-present issue when you obtain positions based on reputation and above one’s current capabilities–you’re always behind and playing catch up.

    10. Sally*

      I can’t speak to the research and funding part because I knew nothing about that side of the business. However, I was one of the highest rated adjuncts on faculty when I taught at a state university and I now work in learning design for an organization that creates training for corporations.

      One of the reasons I got the ratings I got when I was teaching is that I created classes with a clear objective. I knew what my students needed to learn through the semester, as well as on a class by class basis. And I made the classes as interactive as I possibly could.

      That was all instinctive, I did not know until I actually took education classes to get my instructional design certification that those were the strongest teaching methods. But I started out teaching thinking about what my students needed and how to make sure they got that.

      So my recommendation would be for you to look at how you’re teaching.
      What skills are you trying to get your students to develop?
      Are you designing your syllabus and your individual courses in a way that will teach that best?
      Put your focus on the students rather than the content, and I think you’ll find that changes a lot.

    11. Reba*

      That sounds so grinding, I’m sorry.

      Regarding teaching evaluations, those are deeply flawed and your university should not count on them for much (not that that necessarily helps you, of course, but maybe it can lessen the personal sting of harsh evaluations). Evaluations reproduce social biases, i.e. female presenting faculty get worse numbers and sexist feedback. And they tend to measure which courses and subjects are perceived as “easy” vs. “hard,” not teaching effectiveness!

      The line about administrative positions, although it definitely reflects people’s attitudes (e.g. deanships are rewards for high-achieving faculty), I reject that it’s logical or reasonable. Like, isn’t it clear that faculty-ing and administering are different skill sets? Again I know this doesn’t necessarily help you, I just want you to reframe these institutional judgments on yourself as things are are messed up about academia, not you!

      I do know that many early career faculty work a LOT of hours. This is, continuing with my theme, not something that we should think of as good or reasonable. But it does seem to be part of the picture, and something for you to think about as you weigh pathways for staying in the field or moving out.

      1. Batgirl*

        Teaching evals are crazy subjective! Simply moving organisations can have a massive effect on how you’re seen.

        1. AGD*

          I once taught the same class twice, identically, in the same semester. One of the classes was in the late morning, and the other was in the evening. By evening I’m tired, so I thought my evaluations for that session would be lower. The opposite happened. The evening crowd liked me quite a bit more. I now think the reason is that the students were more awake.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Or you were looser.

            Or the dynamics in the two groups was just different.

            I teach three or four sections of the same class now and I like to do them right in a row. The last one I’m *tired* but looser, and also I’ve had the benefit of seeing what worked or didn’t work earlier in the day.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah and unless your department/school mandates them, you may only get the students with an axe to grind filling them out. I had perfectly good profs and I just forgot to fill the evaluation out because I didn’t have any real issues with them (mea culpa). My undergrad wouldn’t show you your grades until you filled them out, but even then, I imagine some students might just put in perfunctory answers to get it done.

    12. Tessera Member 042*

      Are you taking advantage of all the university resources? For example, I know the Grants office ran workshops for grad students; might they have examples of successful grants in your field you could look at, like @Alex mentioned? Or someone who could work with you individually to help you revise? And are you sure that your failure rate is unusual, as @PostalMixup mentioned, or is it actually on par with your field?

      What about the Teaching and Learning Center (or whatever department focuses on pedagogy)? Based on the responses in your student evals and peer observations, can you find one area to target and turn to them for resources and help? Would it be possible for you to co-teach a class with someone else? It could be useful to see someone else’s approach to the same class and for an extended period of time.

      For help looking at job opportunities outside academia, most college career centers are trying to do a better job of advertising industry jobs to PhD students and coaching them about how to spin their education and experience for those realms; it might be there are resources on your career center page you can also make use of.

    13. Rachel in NYC*

      On the grants- maybe starts with finding someone you trust, who you know has been successful writing grants and getting them funded. See if they’d be willing to go over one of your grant applications with you.

      Or if your school has someone who writes grants, even if they aren’t in your department, maybe they’d be willing to speak with you one-on-one.

    14. Accounting is fun*

      Judging your teaching just by your student evaluations is hard. It is like grading yourself strictly from YELP! reviews. The reviews have the same biases that students tend to have. Research shows that generally non-white male instructors have 1 point lower student evaluations than white male instructors. Also, peer evaluations tend to have issues as well because you tend to change how you teach when you know you are being observed. Teaching is hard, and unfortunately, college-level faculty get very little training and help in improving teaching and outcomes. So – suggestion 1 is to do observations yourself to see if you can build from their work. How does Prof. J do it? Does that work for you? Another idea is go to your school’s internal education outlets – if they have them.

      One thing to think about. Often, we put new faculty teaching introductory-level courses. This isn’t the best idea. You want your most experienced teachers in the introductory courses, and your new instructors in the higher level courses. I know it seems weird, but it is honestly easier to teach higher level courses than it is to teach introductory courses.

      Finally – grant writing is hard. You don’t know exactly what they want to fund. It’s like constantly getting reviewer #2. So – see if you can get a mentor from your department that is successful in writing grants.

      Academics are often thrown into the deep end with little support of things like teaching and grant writing. It’s assumed because we have succeeded at research and jumping through the hoops of getting that far that we will be able to figure out everything else on our own. Unfortunately, that is NOT true, and often, our colleagues are competitors and aren’t really willing to be mentors.

      I’m sorry I don’t have more help for you, but, it is something to consider. It is also incredibly hard. You have trained for probably 7+ years for a job and now you are not feeling successful in it. The training you get also makes you sometimes “over-educated” for other jobs (depending on your field). It is a catch-22 that isn’t easy to navigate. I’m feeling like I am in a similar position to you, sometimes. So – chin up! Start considering a plan B, and see what you can do about finding some mentors.

    15. College Career Counselor*

      Agreed with the other folks that it’s hard to offer concrete advice when it’s not clear where your (perceived or real) deficits may be. And, it may be that being a professor just sucks. As for moving to administration, is there a particular aspect that you might focus on? Do you LIKE the grantwriting aspect? Many universities have a corporate and foundation relations department that is heavily involved in working with faculty and others to write grant proposals. Talk with those people to see if your skills/experience might match up. (I wouldn’t worry about the unfunded proposal hit rate–if you’re in the sciences, especially, it’s brutal)

      What about working with students? Do you enjoy it? Are you comfortable talking with them outside of lecture/class? Is there a particular population of students that you like to work with? (First generation, athletes, greek life, underrepresented groups, those with learning/accessibility challenges, The Lost Boys*, etc.) Many universities have student affairs/advising roles working with all kinds of student groups on advising, engagement, retention, experiential learning, etc. Perhaps there’s a way to incorporate your research background with working with students interested in pursuing similar kinds of activities.

      Depending on your situation, it may be that you have to move to a different university or college to make the change you want. I don’t if that’s possible given geographic or other constraints you may be operating under.

      *The Lost Boys is what I sometimes call the group of younger undergraduates, mostly male, who are underperforming academically, over-participating in judicial review, and not really sure why the hell they’re in college but they’re supposed to be.

    16. Good Enough for Government Work*

      The fact that you recognize that you’re struggling and want to improve is a great sign! It sounds like you could really benefit from some coaching with a mentor whose judgment you trust. Could your old advisor or head of your Department give you meaningful feedback on the issues with the grants—maybe you need to shift the focus of your research? Are there patterns in the student feedback? Workshops are great, but are you connecting the negative feedback you’re getting with a plan to make specific improvements?

      Also, it is possible your heart just isn’t in the work you’re doing? Why are you in the field you’re in? What do you like about teaching and working with students? Maybe tapping into what excites you about your field could help you refocus? I’ve found the best teachers I had were ones with passion for their subjects—the enthusiasm is infectious. Good luck!

    17. Weekend Please*

      I’m not sure what field you are in, but have you considered transitioning to industry. I’m in academia (biomedical) and a lot of my former classmates went into industry because they didn’t want to teach, write grants or work 60 hours a week. Maybe that would be a good fit for you. I have to say I don’t know many early stage professors who only work 40 hours a week. Academia basically expects your job to be your life and it doesn’t sound like you want that.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I have a friend who did that – pivoted to a non-academic job for a while and re-evaluated after a few years.

    18. STEM Prof*

      I’m also a prof, at an institution where research is approximately 0% of my job. I did my PhD in a STEM field at a university that prioritizes research over teaching, so I do understand some of the struggles in balancing the two.

      I will say that most of the professors that I know of at research-centric universities do work more than 40 hours a week. The workaholics (my PhD advisors for sure, probably others in the department) worked 70-80 hours a week. That’s not healthy or reasonable. I’d say, though, that 40 hours might be on the low side. How many hours do your department colleagues work? Personally, I hate working on weekends, so if I need to I’ll work an extra hour or two a day during the week rather than a few hours on Saturday or Sunday.

      How much time do you spend on the different parts of your job? Are you supervising graduate students or undergraduate students or both? Are you tenure track, and if so, where along the track are you? Are you publishing even if you aren’t getting grants?

      Student evaluations are often biased and unreliable, especially for women and BIPOC folks. (I once had a student say that my class didn’t have a syllabus!) The type of course you teach (what discipline, requirement vs. elective), and the level of the course (freshman level vs senior level), can have an impact on evaluations as well. How much weight evaluations carry varies by institution, though it sounds like your university cares about them to some degree. What does your department chair say? Did your peer observers give you good feedback?

      You are doing so many things right- seeking out feedback and incorporating it, going to workshops, etc. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the current grant funding landscape is a nightmare, and that so many worthy grants aren’t funded. I would bet that many, if not most, of your grants fall into that category. I mean, one of my PhD advisors, who is extremely well known and respected in our field, had a grant that was rated extremely highly and it still wasn’t funded. I’ve also never heard of anyone who only got their job because of their advisor/institution. The hiring committee must have seen something in you that led them to believe that you were the right person for the job.

      The last thing I’ll say is that academia can be extremely stressful and draining. It seems like you are being very hard on yourself as well, especially when you claim that you got your job because of your advisor, that you’re massively overpaid, and that you suck at your job. I know many grad students and professors that struggle with depression, but it isn’t talked about because of the stigma surrounding mental health. There’s no shame in seeking help if you need it.

    19. PhysicsTeacher*

      I don’t have any insight about the research problem (high school teacher here) but teaching is something that I believe anyone can improve at (although I do think there are some people who have slightly more natural aptitude). When you say your teaching evaluations are bad, what things are being evaluated? How is your relationship with your students? What things do your evaluators point out?

    20. OtterB*

      Some institutions have a resource office to help specifically with improving teaching skills. Is yours one of them?

      Do you have a mentor at all? For different purposes it can be helpful to talk to someone in your department, someone at your institution but in an adjacent or different field, or someone in your field at a different institution. Can your old advisor help? It seems like you may need to disentangle a 3-way mix: things that are genuinely problems with your skills or your fit to the job, things that are hard for everyone that you’re taking more personally than you need to, and a generally negative filter you might have developed that makes you paint everything as a failure when some things may actually be okay.

      Where are your successes? Is there something you’ve gotten good feedback on, something you’re happy with?

      Could the problem be a mismatch between you and the institution? Faculty jobs are not uniform and neither are departments. Maybe you’re in the wrong place.

      Funding availability depends a lot on your field, but it’s becoming harder and harder to come by, as PostalMixup says.

      Good luck with it.

    21. Almost Academic*

      What kind of institution are you at? I ask because that will really impact how you spend your time (although you say your time is aligned)

      If it’s an R1 and you’re not getting grants, that’s a problem (even though funding is dismal). How are your publications? Are there collaborations or public datasets you could work on, while still applying for funding? What resources does your grants office have, and are you taking advantage of them?

      It sounds like what you’ve hit is a skills deficit- which is totally normal, because unfortunately academia does a really poor job of providing the teaching and mentorship you need to actually do your job! I would suggest connecting with a mentor and/or tenured faculty member at your institution for suggestions. For building up other skills deficits, I’ve found the following resources helpful:

      1. Research / Grants: There are a lot of great workbooks our there that walk you through the process. I’m not sure what grants you are applying to, but asking around in your field may help. I would also recommend applying for a lot of smaller grants and awards, often these are less popular and needed prior to getting larger funding.

      2. Teaching: There are so many resources for improving teaching, your institution probably has a center for teaching excellence or something along those lines. Make sure your alignment across your course goals, assignments, and metrics is clear (and make them clear to the students through learning objectives). It can be really helpful to record your lecture to see where you can be improved. I would also recommend sitting in on other classes and taking notes of what works well. Your specific discipline may have groups for improving teaching and sharing sample syllabi. Don’t reinvent the wheel, instead ask for resources from other really good teachers. Also, put a lot of effort into showing students that you care – unfortunately this is what many good ratings are based on.

      Overall, sympathies. Academia is brutal, even if you are doing everything “right”.

    22. KeinName*

      I work in university administration, giving support to predocs and postdocs and have a PhD myself. Teaching evaluations have a number of biases (gender for one), and rejection quotas for grants in your field should be available somewhere. You might consider that you are not actually bad at your job.
      To survive in academia you need supportive mentors and a peer group. You could work towards that.
      If you are not enjoying your work anymore there is no shame in moving to industry or research support positions.
      But if you do enjoy your work just do it until someone tells you they don‘t want you there anymore (which might never Happen) and enjoy yourself as much as you can. In work and outside work.

    23. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      If you want to increase your awarded grants, try working with the development team. There is virtually always a “Corporate and Foundation Relations” (or similar) team who will work with faculty to improve their grant applications.

    24. Millenial Professor*

      In your field, what are the consequences of not getting grants funded? Do you need grants to be able to support your research (in particular, to pay grad student salaries) and get tenure, or is that not expected and it’s more like icing on the cake if you do get one?

      Have you thought about collaborating on a grant as a co-PI with someone with a track record of funding?

      You didn’t mention publishing in your letter, but if you’re doing OK at publishing your research, you probably don’t suck at your job! I’d also consider the possibility that your teaching evaluations aren’t as bad as you think. I know that for me, one negative comment can overshadow 20 positive ones.

      Finally, have you considered trying something like the Faculty Success Program (https://www.facultydiversity.org/fsp-bootcamp)? It’s kind of pricey, but you did mention you were overpaid.

      1. TL -*

        “In particular, to pay grad student salaries” – this is super field dependent; over here in biomed, there’s no research at all without funding and most labs spend easily upward of a hundred thousand a year on consumables and machines alone; the bigger ones get into the millions.

      2. Researcher*

        Re: grad student salaries – if you can’t fund student salaries/stipends for grad students or post docs, engage undergraduates. Most will work for just a good letter of recommendation. Yes, you get what you pay for, but good ones can at least assist you with gathering some preliminary data for your grant applications.

        Make sure you have some help.

    25. anon here*

      1) What is your article-writing like?

      2) who are your friends?

      If we were sitting down to coffee (I left academia for a variety of reasons, but near the end got 2 grants in which I was co-PI), I’d say you should consider writing more grants with other people who have been successful. You need to figure out how you’re different than the “successful” people if you want to be successful — you need to either change to be like them, or go even further in the other direction to be wildly different and distinctive. Collaborating strategically is one way to explore these possibilities (and ideally have fun, too — I liked working with others). Organizing workshops etc with these folks is a way to dip your toe in the water.

      You can also just leave academia for more money in corporate.

      I’ll say that my experience as an academic in a field you’d think would be really ripe for consulting was this: as a young woman, I got nothing in terms of consulting offers. I asked my older male colleagues how they got their lucrative consulting gigs, and it was all “my roommate from college called me… I was at a party and this guy said oh, you must be smart, want to do some consulting?….” I never was able to break through from an academic position. Now that I’m in industry, though, amusingly I am consulting on some academic projects, because the academicians need my experience :)

    26. TL -*

      First of all, I think talking to a therapist might help – figuring out if this is really what you want to do and getting some outside perspective and new strategies for dealing with the constant failure that is research. Look for one that is familiar with the beast of academia, and don’t be afraid to look virtual to find them.

      Breaking this down – what kind of school are you at? At my undergrad, our biggest grantmaker in chemistry (at $900k, which is not huge for the field) was told he wouldn’t get tenure if his student evals didn’t go up, while the institutes I work with now basically only care that you’re not breaking the law (and even then, it’s iffy), but if you’re not publishing in top tier journals and bringing in substantial grant money, you’re not getting tenure. Which is more important for you to succeed at to get to the next step of your career – and is that where you want to end up?

      I’m also going to say that 40 hrs a week isn’t a lot for academia (definitely not in my field and in my country, at least!) and if the thought of working more doesn’t seem palatable, that’s something to consider when you think about your long-term plans. There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that you want a small, focused research group where you have enough money to get by and do solid research, but you don’t want to be a superstar in your field (but you do need tenure or long-term stability to get there.)

      Finally, seconding looking for co-PI opportunities on grants with successful appliers. And how are your communications skills? Do you write and present well? If not (and there is little training on that in academia) working on those first would help both your grant applications and your teaching.

    27. Cascadia*

      Teacher here! I found it incredibly frustrating that no one teaches professors how to teach well. We have entire college majors for how to teach up to age 18, but nothing beyond that. Being an engaging teacher is really hard work, it is a learned skill that takes a lot of practice, a lot of trial and error, and comes more easily to some than others. I would look at the evaluations certainly, especially for patterns, but I wouldn’t use that as your only evaluation point. Some students give terrible evaluations because you’re a tough grader, or hold them to a high standard. But sometimes they really have a point! It might be super helpful to be observed by some peers or a mentor, who can give you feedback. I’d also highly recommend trying to observe others teaching, especially any rock star professors that students seem to really love. Watch their classes and see how they do things, how they engage with students and the material. It doesn’t need to be in the same subject matter to give you some good tips on how to improve. I’d also highly recommend you really think about whether or not you want to teach. You don’t mention that you like it it at all, so I can’t tell. I’d recommend you do some soul searching to find out if it’s actually something you enjoy. I have no idea how many hours you’re in class, how much homework you give, or anything like that – but most teachers I know work more than 40 hours a week while teaching – with grading, lessons plans, and individual help for students, it takes a lot of time! I’m not saying you should be working more, but if your students are lacking feedback, or your lessons aren’t well planned, that could be an area to devote some more time. Good luck!

  8. Elenia*

    A middle management job opened at my company. I ws speaking to one of my best employees who had expressed interest in it. Lo! An announcement was made within a few days that they had selected another internal candidate without even interviewing.
    Ok, fine, but at least please tell the other middle managers like myself. I don’t understand a culture of secrecy. If you don’t want the rank and file staff to know, just tell us so we don’t share it, but so dumb to just move somebody into the position as a SURPRISE!

    1. WellRed*

      Agreed with every thing you say, but in the interest of combatting secrecy, did you say anything about this to your company?

      1. Elenia*

        Yes, i sent a polite email this morning to a VP asking that middle management at least be given a heads up. it’s embarrassing when we don’t know what is happening!

  9. ThatGirl*

    My new job/company does not have a formal sick-time policy. We have our standard PTO, but sick time is un-tracked and informal — I was told if I’m sick, let my manager know; if it will be more than 2 days they can ask for a doctor’s note. That was pretty much it. I rarely get sick, but I think this is great in theory — however, I’m curious if other people have seen this sort of policy in place and how it played out.

    1. Nessun*

      We’re somewhat similar – we track sick time separate from PTO, in that we have to choose a code for our timesheets that says “sick” instead of “PTO”, but we have an unlimited amount. We also have to speak to a supervisor if we’re off more than 5 days in a row, because that invokes some different liability issues and pushes it to short term disability. I’ve never seen anyone abuse the policy (20 years with the company, several direct reports), and people appreciate that they can take time off when they’re sick so they can feel better, not get others sick, and heal faster. There is a requirement to tell someone, so that work is covered, but it’s never been an issue. I consider the whole policy a plus when hiring.

    2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      My company has this – granted, I’ve only been here for 6 months, so I don’t have a lot of long-term insight to how it plays out, but at least in my department, nobody is abusing the privilege!

    3. Ali G*

      My husband’s company is like this. If you are sick, you are sick. Depending on the issue they may ask for proof (like if you need weeks off for surgery or something). I’m not sure what happens if you need a lot of time off for health reasons, but I know he’s had staff that needed time and it wasn’t an issue.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      Ours is like this too. Small employer, we all accrue PTO at the same rate (half day per month) but vacation accrues based on length of time here. Effectively PTO = sick time but if you don’t use it for sick time you can use it for vacation days. It works well, it’s not an office with micromanaging so that helps.

      1. ThatGirl*

        That doesn’t sound quite the same – I have PTO/vacation time that’s only for days off. Sick time doesn’t accrue and is not counted or tracked anywhere; it’s simply taken as needed.

    5. Malarkey01*

      We switched to this about a decade ago, and then switched back to having allotted earned sick leave 2 years ago. The thing I noticed that caused unexpected problems was that once it was unlimited people got into the habit of judging whether someone “really” needed to take so much time, and others that were sick would rationalize in their heads that maybe they weren’t so sick. When it was earned bank of time no one thought twice about Beth, the migraine sufferer needing a day a month on average, afterwards people wondered if Beth was taking advantage when Jane didn’t take the same number of days.

      There have been a lot of studies on how unlimited PTO actually leads to less time taken so I assume this is similar.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This is sort of what I was wondering about — does it actually discourage people from taking sick time? I don’t know, and obviously it can depend on the company, but that’s why I was curious.

        Not only do I not get sick often, but my sick days are more frequently “I’m blowing my nose a lot so I can work but it’s better if I do it from home” — which, we’re all entirely remote right now anyway, and even when we do go back to the office, I’m told WFH will be available.

      2. JHunz*

        My take on it is that management’s attitude on sick time being taken can drastically change how willing people are to use it. I had to take 2 weeks this year after a surgery (and an additional week when I wasn’t recovering as fast as I’d hoped) and nobody blinked an eye except to do some planning on how to split out the workstreams while I was out.

    6. Rachel in NYC*

      My office has this (without the sick notes)- I’ve been here 7 years. I was really confused at first but they mean it. It’s great because people don’t come in when they are sick and possibly contagious.

      Plus we still have separate PTO and doctor visit days cuz we’re in New York.

    7. JQWADDLE*

      I had this type of policy at a company. My experience was that it was enforced differently by different managers and with unlimited sick days, it seemed like people took FEWER sick days.

      Enforcement – My manager was great. If we were sick, he would say “Stay home, get better.”. Another manager tried to tell a coworker with a long term illness that the coworker had to take vacation for appointments (!).

      Usage – This really boils down to culture. The culture at the company was to work work work. People seemed to wear coming into work sick like a badge of honor. I think there was also a bit of fear that if you used your sick time it would be counted against you come review time even though it was advertised as “Unlimited”.

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’ve only worked at two companies, but this was the policy at both. Works great. Don’t have to burn PTO on being sick, and you don’t have to worry about the number of sick days in case you have an extra sick winter or what have you. So if I’m sick, I just text or email my boss and let him know I won’t be in. I even use it from time to time on a mental health day.

    9. Annie Moose*

      My company used to be like this, then switched to 30 days of sick time before you need to start talking about FMLA (so, basically still “whenever you need to” unless you have a chronic condition of some kind!). I think it’s nice when you have managers who support sick time usage and don’t make a fuss over it because you don’t have to plan out sick days or worry about using too many or anything like that. It’s just, can I reasonably work today? Not really… okay, I’ll take the day I guess. Far as I know I’ve never had a coworker who’s tried to abuse the policy, either.

      On the flip side, I think policies like this can be a problem if you have managers who pressure you to take fewer of them. When you have a set number of sick days, it can be easier to stand firm and go, no, this is fine, I’m still under [amount the company has determined as The Correct Amount of Sick Days]. Whereas when it’s unlimited/a very high number, you can sometimes worry if you’re taking more than you should.

      tl;dr: my work does this, I think it’s great, but if you have a sucky manager it might not work as well

    10. Haha Lala*

      My company works just like this too. I have PTO time (vacation and personal) that we get a set amount of each year, and separate, unlimited sick time. We can use sick time for sick days, mental health days, or other medical reasons– like surgery, sick kids, etc. Our policy states that a Dr.’s note is needed for more than 3 consecutive days, which seems reasonable.

      I make sure to keep track of my sick days on my own to make sure it doesn’t get excessive, but that’s not been an issue over my 5 years here. And from what I’ve seen, my coworkers actually do take off when they’re sick, since they don’t have to choose between loosing a vacation day or infecting the office.

    11. Mr. Shark*

      My team is this way, and it seems like people are rarely ever sick. Once in awhile you might get someone out sick, but it doesn’t seem to happen often.
      I think it’s nice. No one keeps track of sick days, and you can take time off out of the day to go to appointments or the doctor without costing any PTO. PTO is really only if you are taking vacation.
      If you are sick for longer than 3 days than obviously you have already notified your manager, and at that point I think it is considered short term leave or you can take PTO. I can only think of one person on our team that has required that after a serious health condition. I’m not sure how that was handled except we do have the more long-term leave for which you get a % of your salary.
      But for the most part, I like that we don’t have to track every hour or every day that we need to be off due to health issues. As long as no one is abusing it, it works well.

    12. Jemima Bond*

      This sounds very much like the way it works for everyone in the UK and it plays out fine I think. I mean there are rules you can’t just take unlimited time off sick with no effect (where I work, public sector, you can have five days self certified then you need a doctors note, and if you have a long term issue, after six months you go down to half pay) but there isn’t a limited number of days you can take, you can’t ‘run out’ as such, and they aren’t earned or dependent on length of service. Having a certain number if “sick days” or not being able to take time off when you are ill is basically an alien concept here. Leave (=vacation) is totally separate.

  10. No Tribble At All*

    First question: what level of mistakes do you talk about in a job interview? I’ve read AAM’s guide for interviews, and one of the sample questions you’ll be asked is “Tell us about a time you made a mistake at work.” So…. a medium size mistake? Not a small, trivial one (“I put a typo in an internal email”), because then you’re not taking the question seriously, but you don’t want a serious one either, because it reflects really poorly on yourself (“I was tired and told an annoying customer to go f themselves and get out of my face”). On a scale of 1 – 5, where 1 is a trivial mistake and 5 is just shy of career-ending event, you’d talk about a 2 or a 3?

    1. MissGirl*

      I don’t focus on the size of the mistake but how I fixed it and systems I put into place to keep it from happening again.

      What they want to see is the ability to acknowledge error and grow from it. They also want to measure your self-awareness. Pick a mistake that demonstrates this.

      1. Littorally*

        This.

        I’d even be okay going with a near-career-ending mistake if it was a) long enough ago that I can reasonably say that’s no longer how I do things and b) had my best story for recovering from it.

        What they’re asking for is the recovery. This is a classic STAR question, and you shouldn’t be devoting more than a sentence or two to the nature of the mistake itself. They don’t really care about that. They care about the fixing of it.

    2. Kramerica Industries*

      I usually go with 3-4 where I make sure that I showcase that I can take ownership of my mistake, how I corrected it, and/or what I learned.

      So in your “I was tired and told a customer to f off” example, I would go with something like “I was having an off day, which we all have sometimes, and ended up being overly rude to a customer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but once I thought about the situation more, I was mortified. Now, I’m a lot more perceptive of myself and I realize that taking a bit of time to slow down makes a big difference in how I deal with stress, making sure I’m always courteous towards others, regardless of what happened earlier in the day.”

    3. AndersonDarling*

      You’d want a mistake that required some kind of corrections/follow-up. Your interviewer is wondering how you handle mistakes, more than the kind of mistake. You’ll want to describe how you found the mistake, acknowledged that you made the mistake, you informed your manager/customer that you made the mistake, and you took action to make it right.

    4. Who moved my cheese?*

      You want to talk about a level 2-4 mistake that you handled well and fixed well. Maybe you implemented a new checklist or process or automated check. Maybe you smoothed things over with your impeccable people skills, or saved the day by offering your client a special discount. Your response to the mistake is likely more important than how “big” it was, although you’re right to avoid something so small it doesn’t do you any credit (“I fixed my typo”) or so big it creates doubts about your judgment.

    5. irene adler*

      I don’t think it’s the size of mistake so much as how one handles it.
      Of course, don’t give one where you come off badly. And don’t make it something like “the time I set the building on fire and saved my co-workers lives” sort of thing. The typo would work- assuming the typo had some consequence to it (wrong zip code or it led to a misunderstanding).

      Show that you remedied the mistake without causing upset/more work for others (personally went to recipient and gave them the correct info). And that you have something in place that will prevent the mistake from occurring again (for example: always proofread emails before hitting ‘send’).

    6. Sick Of Applying*

      I go with the one you can spin into the most positive outcome. For example, I’ve used one where I tolerated a colleagues mistakes to the point I just did his portion of the work I needed myself. That was my mistake (among everyone else’s in my department). He never learned about the mistake, or learned what he needed to correct it. After this person left for another job, we all realized we were basically doing his job and created more work for ourselves while he was launching a side hustle on company time. After that, I speak up respectfully to let them know that they need to be either more careful or need more training.

      I hope that helps.

    7. Parquet*

      I’ve talked about mistakes that had company-internal impacts (so not affecting client work at all), like one that resulted in my manager delivering very incorrect metrics to our division head or when I accidentally broke part of the team’s data pipelines and had unscheduled downtime for repairing it. Serious enough for the question but nothing unfixable or unforgivable, and I also mention how I pinpointed what went wrong and what I did to fix it (e.g., I explained and presented the accurate results to our division head in the first case).

    8. Disco Janet*

      Like others have said, the focus should be on how you handled the mistake, but yes, I would say medium size. Even better is a common mistake for people in your field. For example, I’m a teacher, so I talk about a time I realized that a lesson I was teaching was too high or low for my student’s ability level, and how I handled it and then worked to prevent it from happening again in the future.

    9. Malarkey01*

      Mistakes that were from a bad assumption, incorrect risk determination, or unanticipated consequence are better than straight errors or unprofessional actions in my opinion.

      Something like I did not fully appreciate the amount of customer angst over this change I was making, or I did not anticipate that making x change would expose us to a higher risk of y happening… and then explaining how that experience has led to improving your decision making process by incorporating this or that into your evaluation process or how you now solicit additional information in x, or how you’ve improved risk mitigation on y process.
      Avoid things about inappropriate conduct like your example of telling off a customer.

    10. Aurélia*

      I think a 2/3 is a good idea, especially if you can share the solution you worked on to fix it and what you’re doing to prevent it in the future.

    11. Rachel in NYC*

      I think of it as- if you have a mistake that you tell people when you train to remind them that mistakes aren’t the end of the world, you take ownership, you correct, you move on.

      That’s the mistake (or mistakes, I’d use)

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Definitely stay down around a 2 or a 3. Think of it this way, we can guestimate how others will handle a large mistake by seeing how they handle smaller mistakes.

      If you are afraid to tell your boss that you dropped your computer mouse into a bucket of water and the lost mouse becomes an epic story as you try to cover up the loss, then what will you do if something actually difficult happens?
      It gives them an idea of how you handle things when the chips are down.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I’d choose one that leads into the line “and that’s how I learned the importance of …”

      With the important thing being a habit, practice, or principle that has made you a better team member overall — good communication, diligent checking, facing issues directly, being proactive to solve things before they become urgent, etc.

    14. Cassidy*

      “(“I was tired and told an annoying customer to go f themselves and get out of my face”).

      My DREAM interview involves saying exactly this!

      I will see myself out…

    15. Esmeralda*

      No zero level mistakes, btw. Yeah, we had a candidate tell us that they did not make any mistakes. “Haha” I said, “No, really, we all make mistakes! Please tell us about…” Candidate would NOT talk about any mistakes. None. Zilch. We really liked them up to that point, but then we started probing hard for lack of self-awareness, inability to take responsibility/ownership, shifting blame to others, communication skills… It was a much less pleasant interview for both the committee and the candidate from that point on. They performed well on the variuos tasks during their time at our office, and the hiring officer liked them — committee strongly recommend probing all those areas with references.
      Was not hired.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. Everybody makes mistakes. Someone who claims they don’t will be unlikely to take corrective feedback well.

  11. Satisfactory Worker*

    Question: I work in the public sector. We’re all labeled essentials workers and have been back in the office since May. We have plenty of precautions (mask wearing, social distancing, lots of extra cleaning, etc.) and have limited public contact. We have been pretty lucky so far, and have only had one case spread at work, and no one has caught cases from the public.

    We have encouraged employees not to come in sick and follow CDC quarantine and isolation protocols. Our governing agency did not grant us any extra time or make us eligible for FFCRA, but our regular leave accruals are generous.

    There are a handful of individuals who, due to not taking precautions in their non-work lives, are on their 3rd or 4th quarantine period (they have never caught COVID but continue to get exposed outside of work). Other workers have to absorb their workload over and over, and this is our busiest time of year. We have sent guidelines and precautions and kept up our workers up to date on what is going on and how to protect themselves. How do we balance accountability for these workers without being so heavy-handed that people are afraid to report if they have been exposed/are sick?

    1. Dave*

      I think this is basic problem with how COVID is spread. If people don’t take this as seriously they take more risks leading to more potential exposures. To me I take it as people that generally don’t care about others.
      At this point I would say try to hold out hope for the vaccine and that they get the vaccine. I haven’t heard what happens if you have the vaccine and you have a potential exposure at that point though.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I think if you have the vaccine followed by exposure you still need to self isolate as the vaccine doesn’t prevent you getting (or s[reading) Covid, it means you are much less likely to get it severely.
        Presumably as more people have the jab and have a level of immunity that will start to change as the level of risk posed by exposing people falls, but short term I think the position will still be to isolate if you are or might be infectious, because while you may have been vaccinated, the person you interact with may not have been and may still be at risk of a severe case

        1. Natalie*

          One clarification – it’s not that the vaccine definitively doesn’t prevent transmission, we simply don’t know at this time, or how effectively. There is plenty of reason to think vaccinated people will be less likely to transmit covid to others, if nothing else because symptomatic people are more efficient spreaders than non-symptomatic people. But the data hasn’t been been collected. Between that, and the fact that vaccine rollout is slow going, having been vaccinated doesn’t change how anyone should behave quite yet.

    2. Clare*

      I know it is incredibly galling to me when people I know do reckless things (like going on a beach vacation with high school friends!), but I think given the utter lack of social supports you’re better off sticking with your current methods. I’m always at risk of being potentially exposed due to helping care for elderly grandparents, plus having a toddler who can’t skip well child check ups. I’ve heard neighbors without young children complain about how mothers (no mention of fathers) who have their kids in daycare are putting the whole community at risk, with no regard for the fact that most people can’t just quit their jobs. I don’t think there’s a way to shape a policy to strongly discourage risky behavior without impacting people with care responsibilities, second jobs, or spouses/housemates in health care settings.

    3. Malarkey01*

      This is so frustrating about this whole thing. I think a good approach though is to decide what is the preferred outcome between covering workload or getting sick yourself.
      At 10 months in, if people are being reckless (multiple close calls versus someone who took a “reasonable” risk and was exposed) nothing the employer does will stop this. So, as much as it sucks and as much as employers should be taking note of who seems to be using bad judgement, I think the trade off of covering more work to continue to ensure a safe workplace is the better of two evils so to speak.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Can the people who have stepped up to do extra coverage be rewarded with flextime when the busy season is over?

      It’s an acknowledgement that they earned a break, but not such a big incentive that people would be tempted to skip quarantine.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, if there’s some way to reward the people who stepped up, that’s the best thing you can do in this situation. This is one of the hardest things about health/medicine: you have to do your best to pull your (very reasonable) moral judgments out of how you respond.
        You can’t just *not* treat Stan for his injuries just because this is the fifth time he’s wrecked his car because he’s a terrible driver. You don’t *not* treat someone’s lung cancer even if they smoked a pack a day for 30 years.
        In order to keep everyone safe you need the people who are exposed and potentially contagious to stay home, no matter if they got exposed at an illegal house party or pulling someone out of a car wreck or from their kid’s teacher.
        It’s hard, but if you can focus on praising and rewarding the people who stepped up (if you can’t give them money or time off, can you give them a formal letter of commendation to go in their employee record and count towards their next review?) you’ll be encouraging good practices.

      2. Anhaga*

        I like this idea of “reward the responsible.” Using a carrot rather than a stick can sometimes prevent the “lying to avoid punishment” problem, and if it’s not officially put out there as a sort of celebration, but is instead meted out fairly to those who have pitched in to cover the work of others as a sort of “this is a normal thing” bonus, it might help to avoid the fussing that could happen if a big deal were made. That way, the ones who contributed to the problem wouldn’t feel they were being reprimanded, and those who contributed to make sure stuff still got done would feel recognized.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      Even the most careful people can be exposed multiple times. Using myself as an example, I have not exactly been a social butterfly since all of this started, and even in my limited activities I come into contact with people and could be exposed through no fault of my own. So it’s one of those things where you (as a manager/employer) just have deal.

      For those wondering here are my potential exposure points for the last 2 months:
      Grocery Store x 4
      Drug Store x1
      Doggy Daycare 6 visits/week (drop off and pick up)
      Senior independent living community x 5 or 6 (I’m a caregiver to a resident)
      Home -Everyday (I live with a high exposure risk professional who has had at least 7 confirmed covid contacts from coworkers in addition to daily frontline covid patient care)

      So is it my fault if I get sick and/or preventively quarantine? You can’t have it both ways… either you let them stay home or they start coming in with all the risk that entails.

  12. Aurélia*

    So, I’m leaving my dysfunctional workplace at the end of the month (yay! HR just needs to be responsive!) and have been letting people know here and there. Been going ok, but one person I’m nervous to let know is my would-be sponsor. He had been trying to get me over to his department but nothing had worked out to date. He’s been less responsive recently and I keep meaning to call him, but can’t seem to figure out the right words. Like, “Hi Jon! Going to be starting at a new position at OtherOrg on 1 February. Your goodwill and guidance has meant a lot to me over the years and I hope we work together again.” But I’m not sure that’s deferential enough? Has anyone let a sponsor know they’re leaving the organization and maintained a positive relationship? Tips?

        1. Firecat*

          I think what you wrote at the bottom is great. Maybe add a few specific things that you felt helped your or will help you in the future.

          I had a former employee write me a thank you card about all the Adobe tricks I taught her. Years later I still have it because it is so nice to see how I helped her.

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Your script is quite good. If you’re feeling a bit awkward about it, you can note it in the moment; admitting to a certain awkwardness might put YOU more at ease: “Hi Jon! I have some news to share and it’s a little awkward so I’ll get right to it. I’m moving to OtherOrg on 1 February.” If you want to talk more about your and Jon’s relationship you can add a “I had mixed feelings about leaving, since I have some good relationships here – especially with you – but in the end it’s the right thing to do for me.”

      To be honest though I would suggest less is more and no need to lie if you are glad to get the hell out of there. If you have a bond with Jon I’m sure he’ll be happy for you and be sorry to see you go but as Alison always says, this kind of thing happens in workplaces. It’s less awkward than you think!

    2. Your Local Cdn*

      If you have a specific example to add of how they helped your career/development, I find that’s a really great way to make it more personal!

    3. Zephy*

      Your script is good, honestly – especially that second sentence, that’s very good. If you’re comfortable with him having it, you can offer your personal contact info (phone number/email address) so that he can stay in touch with you after you leave.

    4. Venus*

      I think it would help to acknowledge his help in trying to find a spot in his department.
      “I want to thank you for all your efforts in trying to find me a spot in your department. I would have prefered to work with you as my experiences with you are so positive, yet this opportunity came up and I’m hopeful that it will be the fun new challenge that I have been seeking.”

      I have felt guilty about something similar, where someone had been working to help me and I ended up leaving for something that was an immediate improvement, and I felt badly for what I thoguht would be ‘lost’ work on their part. In the end they made me realise that they thought well of me and it didn’t matter where I went provided that I was out of my dysfunctional situation. I went to them to apologise and never did, as their immediate positive response made me realise that no apology was needed.

    5. Aurélia*

      Super helpful! Thank you everyone. Appreciate the sanity-check and wording suggestions. Feels like one of those situations where I’ve just been stuck and I need to move out to move up and hopefully work with the handful of people, like Jon, who have had my back and made my work-life easier again down the road.

  13. Anon for this question*

    My manager recently did a large data import; I’m ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the data. The batch import was intended to help me. Unfortunately I’ve been finding a lot of errors, everything from entries that duplicate data we already have, to formatting issues that cause problems downstream. As an example—this is not what the database really is–let’ say that I maintain the database for a grocery store’s online presence. I’ve found errors with the item itself (is it peanut butter or almond butter?), size of the item (18 oz vs 28 oz), and some of the keywords associated with the item (customers don’t want to search for peanut butter and get paper plates in their results).

    This all makes it harder for customers to find the correct items, or even cause them to order the wrong one. Some of the errors are things that I can query the database for to fix, but others are things that I only find when I stumble across them. I could pull all the records from the import, but don’t have a reliable way to search within that for some of the errors—I’d have to look at each one to ensure that the description matches the actual, physical item.

    My manager is getting ready to do another large import and I’d like to talk to them about some of the parameters they’re using for the import, in order to prevent the errors from occurring again. I tend to be either too blunt or too vague, and I sometimes have trouble with a matter of fact tone. For something like this, that’s caused me a lot of problems, I’m afraid that I’ll come across as frustrated—which I have been. And for the record, I’ve brought up to them that there are a lot of errors, and listed out some of the specific data issues, but not all of them, and we haven’t discussed ways to mitigate the issues from occurring again.

    It would probably help me to keep a professional tone if I had a checklist of the things I’d like them to keep in mind for the next import: “I found a large number of errors in data points a, b, c, x, y, and z in the first import; could we be more consistent about checking for the correct values for these in the next batch import?”

    Does “we” sound too weird there? Are there better ways to phrase it? Also, there are about 10 areas that are affected. Should I list them all out as in the example above, or would it be better to leave out that part of the sentence? “I found a large number of errors in the first import; could we be more consistent about importing the correct values next time? The errors were in data points a, b, c, x, y, & z.”

    Thanks for any suggestions you have!

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

      Are they mistakes made by your manager in generating the data? (It wasn’t clear to me, as you mentioned “parameters they’re using for the import”, but then errors like peanut butter having keywords indicating it is paper plates, so is that wrong in the ‘source’ data as well?)

      As for how to approach it with the manager, I think you can just be matter of fact. I would set aside a time for a discussion to “review the grocery store data import process and results prior to Large Load 2” and then go through the types of errors you found and your suggestions for how ‘we’ can correct them in future. (I think ‘we’ is fine, if it genuinely does mean ‘we collectively’ rather than ‘you’!)

      1. Anon for this question*

        It’s a little of both—some errors are in the source data, & some resulted from the import script created by my manager. Although I’m not really sure how the duplicate entries got in. I’d like to be able to spot-check the raw data before importing it, to cut down on these errors.

        And I had nothing to do with the import, so “we” really means “you”, unfortunately.

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

          From what you’ve said it sounds like eyeballing the data before it gets fully imported is a good suggestion, and reasonable to propose in a discussion with the manager. I would split out things that are errors in the source data from errors in the extract ‘process’ in the discussion.

    2. Parquet*

      Man, it’s always a pain to be responsible for other people’s messy data…are you or your manager actually involved with the import process? You might be able to phrase it such that it comes off as more ‘I’m trying to save us both time down the road’, if that makes sense, and suggest having more checks in those affected areas. “I noticed some issues with the validity of the data in the last batch import, and I have some suggestions to make this go more smoothly”?

      What I’ve done in similar situations is write a quick doc that captures all of the errors (with suggestions for avoiding them in the future, if applicable). Then when I actually talk to whoever’s involved, I pull up one example of the most hard-to-avoid kind (so not something that’s super misformatted since that might be easy to find later) and mention “I’ve seen the same in XYZ other areas; overall about 15% of the data doesn’t have correct values. I summarized the issues here.”

      1. Anon for this question*

        Thanks for this, I don’t want to come across as blaming Manager for the errors so this is helpful.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should have to assign a protagonist to thise narrative (“you,” “we”). Just say that you noticed that the last import ended up creating some duplicate and incorrect values, and you’d like to know more about how you can help the data generation / import process. You aren’t saying your manager was responsible for the errors. You’re saying something went wrong, and you’d like to help so it doesn’t happen again.

    4. TL -*

      A better approach might be, “Hey boss, can we talk about the data import process before we do it again? There were a number of errors from last time and I’d like to understand if there’s an easy fix we could use when importing to save time.”

      1. Generic Name*

        THIS. At my company we blame the process and not the person. So instead of “you did this wrong” it would be “using this process/method produced the wrong results.”

      2. M. Albertine*

        This is exactly how I’d go about it. Name the problem, ask for help with deciding on a solution.

      3. Quinalla*

        Agreed, something like this is what I’d use, “Hey boss, before we import data again, can we go through the errors so we can catch as much as possible on this import? There were errors in the data itself such as X and others I’ve captured in this document that we need to address prior to or during import and there were errors likely from the import like Y and others I’ve listed here that we may need to tweak the import code.” Something along those lines adjusted for your workplace and then have a document that lists everything so if he’s going to do it again he can reference that as he’s writing code, etc. And if you already have ideas or solutions to some of it, bring it up and/or put it in the document.

        This would make it easier for me to not come off frustrated. Most of the info is in the document and you can pick the 2 examples (or however many makes sense) to be ones that are less frustrating or just practice talking about them.

    5. Tinker*

      The “we” in the example you give sounds a little passive-aggressive to me, if I’m understanding correcly that the overall structure is a critique of what your manager did. In that case, using “we” instead of “you” to refer to a thing that clearly is not being done by both people has a tone that’s a bit like a parent telling a child that we need to eat our peas when the person who is sitting in front of an uneaten pile of peas is definitely the child. Matter-of-fact tone here is to put the emphasis firmly on the problem and the solution — “what needs to be done and why” over “what someone did, which was wrong” — more so than being vague about who particularly is involved.

      The bit about having just mentioned that there were a lot of errors without discussing mitigation — it seems like maybe you were expecting your manager to make the connection between “there were errors” through “I made errors” to “I should do something different”, which seems reasonable because it’s probably pretty clear to you. If so, this is really failure prone — say for instance, your manager might be doing something that they don’t do frequently and they don’t have the familiarity you do that makes the error obvious, or they could be doing this thing in passing among a lot of other fragmented responsibilities, which can be common for managers. Clarity therefore pays in this case.

      If you’re looking for your manager to do the thing and have a specific thing to do, I’d probably phrase it more like “After the first import, I found that there were errors in a, b, c, x, y, z. It looks like they happen for thus-and-such reason, and it’s easier to correct that before the import by doing this thing rather than trying to correct that afterward.” Given that this is your manager and what you’re asking for seems to be to have them do a task in your domain, I’d then raise the option of you doing it — depending on context something like “is that something you can do, or do you want me to go through the data before you run the import” or “could you check in with me before you import so that I can validate the data”.

      Depending on norms in your organization, if what your manager did was unambiguously a well-known and common type of error — something like “breaking the build” in software — being non-blamingly direct about the error in the same way you would to anyone else may be an option. “It looks like with the last import (you didn’t X/ X didn’t happen / there was a lot of A, which happens when you don’t X before you Y) — could you double check that before the next import?” If the impact isn’t obvious in context, then clarify the impact: “When there’s a lot of A, it causes problem W later on.” Here, the way you keep blame out of the direct “you didn’t X” is by keeping the emphasis on the ‘X’ rather than the ‘you’ — the point is ultimately that X needs to happen.

      If it really is more of a “we” thing — a collaborative activity that your manager did one part of, more so than “they do the import, then you do something else” — and if the specific solution is less clear-cut, rather than “could we be more consistent”, I’d say “can we look at the process so we can keep from having so much A next time” and then really do that.

      Alternatively, if you can make a process improvement without needing your manager’s input (and your manager would likely follow the documentation if it existed) I’d go straight to that — “After last import, I noticed thus and such a problem. I think if we did X we wouldn’t have A, which means it’s a lot easier to W later on. I’ve written this thing on how to do it / I’ve made this tool for doing it / etc, and I put it in thus and such a location.” Then, depending on context, you can close with a solicitation for feedback “let me know if you have anything to add” and something on the spectrum of asking / telling to use the process — “can we” if genuinely “we”, “can you” if it’s the manager alone, “let’s” if taking a “telling” tone to your manager would be contextually appropriate.

    6. BRR*

      In my field, I would probably go with “it looks like some errors happened in the last import.” I’d probably try and blame the database/process to some degree. It’s usually a good scape goat.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      Ironically, the instacart database for me really has been bringing up paper plates with the peanut butter.

    8. Anon for this question*

      Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I brought it up today using language similar to “I’m concerned about all the data errors, can we chat about cutting down on them next time?” We’re meeting next week, and I have a doc ready with the most egregious errors listed.

      This whole process is new; up until now I’ve imported new data in small batches. This time, to continue the supermarket analogy, it’s as if we’re updating prices for almost 1/2 of the items in the store instead of the usual 5%. My normal workflow works well for weekly changes but isn’t adequate for such a large number of updates in the time period the headquarters office has given us (and that’s a whole other issue!)

      1. Anon Tech Worker*

        One other thing for the future is to first load the data into a pre-production version of your database (i.e. a test environment). Not sure if this is available to you or not, but I’d strongly recommend it for any major data work. Ideally, your boss would do the upload in test, then you’d run some pre-planned checks, you/she would make any needed fixes to the upload batch, then load it up for real.

  14. No Tribble At All*

    Next question: when do you mention you’re OK with moving because it would align with other (family) priorities? Spouse and I live in Northern Virginia. His job is in Maryland, but it’s been remote since he started because of Covid. I’m interviewing for a job in Maryland (~ 1 hr away with no traffic) which happens to be literally next door from his office. If I got it, we would move (no kids) because it’d be silly for both of us to have a terrible commute. Should I mention his location when I mention willingness to move? It strengthens the case, because we’re not just moving for me, but it also seems like too much information. I don’t want them to think I’m not taking the NoVa to MD commute seriously if I say “yeah I’d just move.”

    1. TeacherCurious*

      I can’t speak for others, but I just interviewed someone where it really wasn’t clear why they were open to this location, or that they’d seriously considered it. I don’t think it would have been TMI, it would have been helpful to hear.

      If you don’t want to mention your spouse, you can just say something like, “I was actually already looking into moving to this area.”

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Yeah, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m only interested because of proximity to spouse’s job. Thanks for the advice, all :)

    2. Snubble*

      My last job move was because I wanted to change locations and I found people didn’t seem to believe me that I wanted to move unless I gave them a reason they liked. “I want to move to City, because it’s a lower cost of living” got me side-eyes. “I have family in City” got satisfied nods, because it fit into a familiar narrative.
      I’d honestly be up-front and say “My partner works in the area and we’d like to be able to move here”.

    3. Ali G*

      In this area, it’s probably a non-issue. If you don’t want to chance it, you could put DC Metro Area as your location, and they will see that you are currently local, since you currently work in NOVA or DC (I assume). If they ask about your commute, you can bring it up as a good thing, since you would move so you would both have better commutes.
      I live in NOVA and used to commute to MD, so I know this drill. If someone applied to my previous company from here I wouldn’t bat an eye about it, unless they were on the outskirts of what I consider “Northern VA”.

      1. Weekend Please*

        I agree. My dad lives in NOVA and works in Maryland. It’s a long commute but not unusual for the area. It doesn’t hurt to mention your husband works next door so that they know you are fully aware of what the commute entails, but from my understanding, NOVA is considered “local”.

      2. Me*

        This. In the DMV It’s not remotely weird to be from WV, VA, PA, MD or DC and applying for a job in anyone of those states.

      3. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I used to live in that area. I feel like long commutes are so de facto there that a NoVA to MD commute wouldn’t raise that many eyebrows. If the job in is Baltimore or Baltimore suburbs, that might be questionable, but I had coworkers commuting to Old Town Alexandra from like Southern MD and WV. I wouldn’t bring it up, unless asked.

    4. Massive Dynamic*

      I did this for a previous job – spouse and I wanted to make a move an hour or so away and he landed a job there first and was commuting while I was searching. In the interview of the place I ended up working for, I did explain our family plan and that it was already in motion with spouse’s job. I only commuted as well for a few months before we bought a house out here.

    5. Usernames are hard*

      I agree with others that in the DC area it’s not a big deal living in VA and working in MD. But if you think they might be concerned I would do the casual “I’m actually looking to move to MD”.

  15. Ali G*

    I’m having a dilemma and hoping to get some insight from the you all.
    We recently had a member of our Development (non-profit) team leave for another position. No bad feels or anything, she had moved back to her parents during the pandemic and got an opportunity she liked better. Anyway, my sister is in the same field as this position, although she probably has a bit more experience than the previous person. My sister has been looking for a new job for over a year. She was very close to getting an offer and the COVID hit and it was put on hold. Probably a blessing in disguise as she might have been out a job altogether if she had taken it. The biggest reason she needs a new job is because her current org does not offer family health insurance. She can only get insurance for herself, so her kids get crappy health exchange insurance because that’s all she can afford (she is recently divorced and her ex is “self employed” so he’s no help there either). We have amazing benefits and god pay, so it maybe would be a good fit for her.
    Anyway, I am trying to decide if I should make her aware of this position. The hiring manager said he would consider remote staff, and since my sister already works from home in a different state, it would be OK.
    The thing is, I have no idea how my sis actually operates in a professional environment. The few times she’s asked my opinion on things, I’ve felt she was either overreacting, or just operating with her rose colored glasses. She has a habit of operating as things should be, rather than they are. For example, when she had her first kid, she decided she wanted to start working from home (This was years ago/different job) and so she put in the paperwork and did everything, but…never actually spoke to her boss about it. Then she was shocked!!!! that it wasn’t approved.
    Also, her skills overlap with an area that I currently run, so we’d likely be working together a little, though not a ton. Would this be weird? I have no idea!
    I’m torn between wanting to help my sister, and also I know she’s actually very good at her job, so she could be an asset to our org, but I worry about her quirks reflecting on me, and also how we would work together on a regular basis.
    I’m considering alerting her to the opening, but maybe not doing anything else. We have different last names, so it’s possible no one would notice until we got to the interview stage. Is that a good idea?
    I’m torn! Help!

    1. 404UsernameNotFound*

      I’d recommend exactly what you said – make her aware of the position, but don’t do anything else. I did the same thing with a relative – he didn’t get the job, but because a stronger candidate did. My relation to him never came up.

    2. WellRed*

      Well, from what you know of your sister, will “making her aware” of the posting be enough for her, or will she then expect you to put in a good word or pester you for hiring updates? (honestly, she sounds like the latter ,but I don’t know her).

    3. Anono-me*

      I would suggest consulting your HR handbook to see what your company policies are regarding hiring close relatives. If there is a policy against it, you may be worrying for nothing.

      Otherwise, I would tell my sister about the opening. I would also briefly mention to my direct supervisor that my sister might be applying for the opan position. I would do so in a FYI way, not a ‘rah rah hire my sister’ way.

      If people specifically you about her prior to her hiring, I think your above explanation that you know she has a good professional reputation, but have never actually worked with her and don’t know her professional side would be a good response.

      If she does decide to apply, it may be helpful to have a brief discussion about working together and boundaries so you both are on the same page.

      I’ve worked in a lot of family businesses and in environments that had lots of family members working together. What I appreciated most were the family members that interacted like friendly colleagues.

      Since you’re on the fence about this, I don’t think you have any huge objections right now to your sister working with you. So I think you should aldo consider how your currently unemployed sister would feel about finding out that you not telling her about this job opening and what that would do to your relationship.

    4. ten-four*

      I might be in the minority here but I wouldn’t make my sister aware of the job. There are a hundred ways for working with a family member to go badly, and basically one way for it to go well. Both jobs and family are too important to cross the streams and potentially blow them both up!

    5. BRR*

      There are a few things I’d do first to see if the decision is being made for me:
      1) I’d check for an HR policy. (I imagine relatives in a nonsupervisory role could be ok).
      2) Is your employer set up to have employees in that state? If they’re not, I would probably leave it.
      3) Will the position require face to face meetings (with coworkers or donors) once the pandemic is over? I imagine while there will be a lot more virtual interaction than before, some development work will go back to being in person.

      Then I’d consider if I wanted to work that close to my sibling. Both one-on-one and being seen by others as family (your answer might be no and that’s perfectly acceptable. I’d say no). So if you get past all that, I’d just let your sister know you have an opening. But since you can’t speak to her work, that would be the end of my involvement.

  16. Dalia*

    Hello! I would love advice from people who might have social anxiety and are not so great at asking critical questions during meetings, but have become better at this. I am trying to get better at it, but I get so nervous about what people are thinking, or what I’m going to say next, that I truly blank on critical questions that will help our program (or at least get more information on what we need to do next.) I have tried writing down things I want to know ahead of time, but then things come up in the moment and I get very nervous about the “right” thing to ask. Sometimes it will come later as an email like “I forgot to ask this but…” But I would love to ask more critical thinking questions in the moment. Is this something I can get better at?

    1. JPVaina*

      Are there “low-hanging” meetings, where you can practice chiming in? Can you offer to lead any smaller meetings (or parts of agendas)? That can help build some confidence and get you used to talking more in general. I also used to suffer from the same thing (I would feel like my heart was going to pound out of my chest while I was waiting to speak). Have you spoken to your manager about this being hard for you? I know that one of my first supervisors really helped me overcome this anxiety. She put a goal for me to ask one question in our weekly team meeting, and encouraged me to lead sessions of the agenda.

      I also tried to pay more attention to questions that other people asked. I started noticing that they were sillier than I had initially imagined, and it helped me be like “oh, ok. Sometimes people just sound silly, so if I sound silly, that’s normal.”

      1. Dalia*

        Yes! I’m already leading some meetings, but I swear to bob, I am just blanking on asking questions, and then my manager pipes up and is like “Dalia, let’s also ask about X.” And I’m like DUH X, WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF X! I have spoke to my manager about it, but her solution is just to keep practicing, it’s just taking me longer to get to her level. It doesn’t help that she’s about to transition out of her role and I’ll be on my own for a while, so I won’t have anyone chiming in if I forget to ask a good question.

        And that’s helpful about paying attention to the questions people ask! In my mind, they sound way more intelligent than me. I’ve started prefacing some of my questions with “Sorry if this has already been considered but…” and am wondering if there’s a more confident way of asking questions, while also acknowledging that I might not get it right…

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it’s necessary to acknowledge that you might not be right every time you ask a question. Everyone, no matter how professional or knowledgeable or well-prepared, occasionally makes a mistake, and people who don’t qualify their statements with apologies aren’t trying to signify that they think of themselves as perfect. That said, if you have some reason to believe a particular question has been addressed in the past, I don’t see a downside to looking into the matter before raising it again.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, don’t do that! I work for a car company and I was doing project management of variants of a popular vehicle and confused Variant A and B (and got a confused email back from a contact when I asked about a deadline for the wrong vehicle). I apologized to my boss ad he just laughed like “we have so many variations of that vehicle…everyone’s done that.”

        2. Reba*

          I would definitely scrub out the “sorry!” Whether it has been considered by others or not, you have standing to ask about it. Even if they did, someone may actually welcome the chance to explain their thinking about some issue!

          If you need an on-ramp to your question, you could try “I’m thinking out loud here, what about…”

          But as pancakes said, you don’t need to hedge your questions or downplay your own input! (the point of questions is that you don’t know everything…)

          Good luck! It’s hard to learn to be assertive with questions while also running meetings.

    2. Betty*

      Me! I almost never spoke up in meetings and when I had to, m face would turn bright red. I wasn’t consciously worrying about what people would think of me, but my anxiety would just make my mind blank so I couldn’t think of what to ask or say. It was having a serious impact on me at work. I started a low dose of Zoloft and it has been a really game changer. My mind is no longer totally blank during meetings when I should be asking critical questions and sharing info.

      1. Daphne (UK)*

        Also chiming in with how Zoloft has helped me in the past. It was also a low dose and it took a few months to work, but was like a light switch in certain situations at work where I would just shy away from or take forever to do because I was putting off facing them!

    3. Dave*

      I would say write down your question.
      It also might be helpful to join some community something committee where you can practice and get comfortable talking in meetings in a much lower stake capacity.

    4. Daphne (UK)*

      Just want to say that I’m interested in advice for this too, because I struggle with the same thing!

      I think that noting down potentials questions ahead of time is great, so maybe you have to really push yourself to ask them when the time comes.

      At the end of your meetings, or before moving on to the next topic, does anyone (managers etc) ask “is that everything?” which could give you a chance to pipe up and say “sorry, I have a couple of questions/suggestions”.

    5. Double A*

      For me, I am always impressed when people ask thoughtful questions, or ask about an angle that other people aren’t considering. This is a skill that comes easily to me, so I don’t really have advice about how to get better at it. But it sounds like part of what’s stopping you isn’t that you don’t have the questions, but that you’re afraid of what other people are thinking. So I’m letting you know what at least some other people are thinking, especially regular contributors, is actually, “I’m sure other people here have questions and good ideas, so why is no one saying anything?”

      Maybe if you reframe it to realize that people are grateful and looking for those type of questions (at least in a healthy work environment), it could be easier.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure if this helps.
      For me, I would spend so much brain space wondering what others were thinking that I lost some of the content of what was being said.

      Work on picturing the things they are talking about. Using a stupid example, let’s say the team decides to buy and plant a tree. What parts am I good at here? Well, I can contribute to both parts.

      Okay so the first thing to do is decide what type of tree the group would like. What is the group doing, are they struggling with this or do they have ideas? What thoughts do I have to offer? Next. Where will we buy the tree from? Okay i know a couple good places, how is the group doing with this part of the discussion? Can I contribute anything? So they have a tree and a store. Let’s say they decide on delivery, rather than picking it up. Now it needs to be planted. I can help plant. Do they need volunteers? Can I bring something into this planting project that makes it easier some how?

      Notice I never once said to myself, “I think Sally doesn’t want me on this project!” or “I know Bob will be mad if we go to the store of MY choice.”

      Stick with facts- force yourself to think about factual matters. It takes time and it takes repetition to re-aim that focus. The good part is that you can work on the switch quietly, no one has to know that you are resetting your focus. This can work into a cool thing. Because at some point you may notice the group struggling with something that is actually very easy for YOU. And you catch yourself chiming right in with, “Oh when that happens to me, I do X and it clears the problem right up!” And the group says, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that!”, etc. Then you have had a successful contribution under your belt. Keep going you will have more successes as you go along.

    7. tray table upright*

      I’m also not at my best “in the moment” — I need time to think things over. Are you getting enough material in advance of meetings so that you can digest the info beforehand? If not, can you ask for it? I find that very helpful personally. I’d also say not to beat yourself up too much! I find that the more familiar I am with the material, the better I can be at spotting those critical questions. It makes sense in your case that your boss is seeing those questions more easily. And finally, you might want to consider your state of mind in meetings. You may need to focus on shifting your brain from a more passive, participatory state to a more inquisitive, curious state. You can practice this at home by doing things like watching informational videos like Ted talks or lectures and trying to come up with questions you’d ask if you were in the audience. Good luck!

    8. Becky*

      Do you know what topics will be covered or what the general content of the meeting will be prior to the meeting? Review what you know and write down questions before hand (sounds like you are already doing this to an extent).
      If you don’t know enough prior to the meeting or you think of/realize something during the meeting then while other people are speaking/presenting, jot down notes of what they are saying and any questions or concerns or consequences you think of that ought to be brought up. Hopefully this can help distract you from your anxiety and focus more on the pertinent question and not the delivery.

    9. Quinalla*

      Like others, I’m much better at coming up with good questions after I’ve had time to process. There is nothing wrong with that! However, with more experience at your job, you will know better what questions to ask.

      What may help for now is making a sort of checklist of info you need on projects/whatever and check off or indicate what option as the meetings goes on. Then it may be easier to see what missing information is left to ask about.

  17. TeacherCurious*

    Hello Canadian teachers! I am an American teacher, pondering a move to Canada with my Canadian spouse. I’d like to more about getting into teaching in Canada. (My credentials can be certified and I’d be authorized to work, so this is more about, just, how do you get a job?)

    It seems really…hard in Canada. Like you spend years and years, starting as a sub and taking like 10 years to get full-time. Is there any way to make this easier? What about private schools? Semi-rural districts? The English districts in Quebec? What should I know?

    Thank you! (P.S. Ottawa area if it helps.)

    1. Asenath*

      I’m in a different province and have been out of the K-12 system for years, but certainly in our city would-be teachers tend to have to start as a substitute for years, with no guarantee that they will eventually work their way into full time permanent work. There is just that much competition for not so many jobs. I knew someone who did that for years in a rural area without ever getting a permanent job – rural depopulation, so schools were getting smaller, and even there there was competition. In spite of rural depopulation, it’s often easier to get a position in a rural area than an urban one, although of course everyone who is an unemployed teacher in an urban area knows this. Still, many of them don’t want the commute from urban to rural, or the move to a more isolated area. Teachers with certain specializations find it a little easier – I don’t have current figures, but education for children with various kinds of special needs comes to mind, and in more rural areas, there may be jobs in science or math since those qualifications are less common than, say, English. French teachers are also in demand, especially for immersion classes, but I expect there are plenty of those in the Ottawa area. Sorry, but I expect you will have a challenge finding something. Check out the official board/district websites for jobs, and if you’re interested in a private school, check them out separately. There aren’t a whole lot of private schools around; the local ones are said to have high standards and to be good places to work, so, more competition, I’d suspect.

    2. Oaktree*

      I tried to leave this comment before, but it didn’t post, possibly because I tried to give you a link to more information.

      Anyway, to reiterate: there was a glut of teachers in Ontario for years, but now there’s a shortage. Google the headline “Ontario teacher shortage grows dramatically”; there should be a result from Canadian HR Reporter.

      1. TeacherCurious*

        Thanks, I found the article! It seems Ontario teachers’ employment statistics have improved lately, but I wonder if they’re actually at full employment, or just more-employed as subs.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      It depends where you are and what you teach. I got hired right out of university and have been teaching full-time ever since. Apply to education is a good website to check for job postings. Some boards post on indeed, and some mostly post on their own website. Good luck!

    4. Sandi*

      Availability of jobs is very regional, as I think is also the case in the US. It also varies by topic, so someone who can teach math and science is likely to be hired immediately. My info isn’t the most recent, but in my experience high school teachers are more in demand than elementary. All the teachers I know are now experienced, but when they started they mentioned that it took about 3 years of substituting in order to get the seniority to be offered a regular classroom position. Although I do know one young teacher who just qualified to teach english and drama, and was offered a job almost immediately, but that was a city in the maritimes.

      Ontario has a backward system of two school boards, one catholic, so look at both.

      1. Mephyle*

        Ottawa actually has four public school boards: English, English Catholic, French, and French Catholic.

    5. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Canadian teacher, but not in Ontario and that does make a difference as education is run provincially.
      1- Good news: The 10+ years subbing was vanishing quickly before the pandemic. It was really born out of the great recession so it’s hard to know what’s coming. I can see demand going either way depending on how long it takes for people to feel good about crowded rooms with open windows…in Canada…in January as the sole ventilation source.
      2- Bad news: My BEd class of 2009 called high school English and Social Studies the combination of doom because it was really common and the demand was low.
      And now for advice
      – Getting a masters in resource, or other support teacher qualification is much more in demand and likely to get hired faster.
      – The best first step is trying to get a term teaching position. Due to our year-18 month maternity leaves, term jobs are fairly abundant and have all the benefits of a permanent job minus the job security. Most school boards also require some term teaching before you qualify for a permanent opening.
      – While subbing is not fun, subs are pretty hard to come by in rural areas (Ottawa isn’t rural by any stretch, though) so it isn’t hard to become the go-to sub and get fairly regular work. Subs who have done well in these situations are often given a leg up, or a really good reference, for term jobs.
      – Be as flexible in the types of jobs you apply for as HR will allow. A 100% high school history teaching position is rare and a lot of tenured teachers in the district will apply (and seniority usually rules these applications). If you apply for a weird grab bag posting (say low level English, economics and global history) you will probably have less competition.
      – Not sure about the Ontario curriculum, but where I am, History jobs are really Canadian History focussed. It’s probably worth it to start doing some reading about Canadian History if you haven’t already. Understanding Canada’s history with Indigenous peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation process has a growing importance in our schools and is worth studying. Canada absolutely has a lot of bad stuff with historic and current racism, but it doesn’t quite come across the same here as it does in the US. Again, starting to check out Canadian Treaty Education and anti-racism sources now will help you with interviewing and with actual teaching.
      – If you have a secondary licence, you will probably also be qualified to teach jr high (7, 8 and 9, usually). These are also usually less in demand.
      – Private schools are fine, but the pay is far less and I haven’t seen a lot of teachers transition between the two systems if you’d like to go public later (higher pay, better benefits in the public but I think higher stress too).
      – Due to Quebec’s complicated language politics, the provincial government isn’t a huge supporter of the English districts and Gatineau has a high number of very bilingual people who could work in either district. I’m not sure that the competition will be any less stiff in Quebec, particularly near the Ontario border.

  18. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I have a hard time coming up with something positive that has happened to me in work meetings. I’m a horrible liar and my face when trying to think of some bullshit to say looks “mad”. I eventually stammered something out about Starbucks. How do I answer dumb questions like this first thing in the morning? ( although one girl was like I can go to work every day. Now THAT’S lying)

    1. Just a PM*

      My go-to is “I was craving X for dinner last night and treated myself.” X is usually a restaurant or cuisine. Thai, Cheesecake Factory, pizza, steak. Doesn’t matter if I did or that’s my plan for the weekend. Who’s going to know the difference?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Once I was like ” uh… I ate a lot of food” which was lame. I always feel my answers are really dumb compared to everyone else’s

        1. PollyQ*

          It’s a really dumb question, especially in a business environment. But if you know you’re going to be hit with it, it’s probably worth picking something out ahead of time.

    2. Bear Shark*

      Do you have to come up with something positive on a regular basis? I’d come up with a list that you can rotate through that are bland but positive and vague enough they aren’t lies even if they aren’t recent. That way you can have prepared lines that you don’t have to think about.
      “I got a great parking spot when I had to stop at the store, even though it was busy”
      “The line was really short when I had to go in to the Post Office”
      “My neighbor’s kid shoveled my walk for me”
      “I got to play with a cute puppy at the park”
      “(Seasonal flavor) is back at Starbucks”
      ” I got to try the new (food item) at (restaurant) and it was really good”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea I’ll make up some normie friendly BS. The big problem is I don’t really do anything nowadays so I don’t have a large pool of experiences to pull from. I guess I could research what normies are doing now.

        1. Bear Shark*

          It doesn’t have to be recent or 100% truthful or anything you actually care about. You just have to give a socially passable statement while keeping your face socially acceptable.

        2. Roy G. Biv*

          This one works in my car-culture obsessed Midwestern city: I hit green lights all the way in to work today. Who knew the drive could be so short?

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, if this is a new thing in your early morning meetings, then I’d suggest thinking of something on the way to work or jotting down a list that you can add to when something occurs to you. Honestly, I think you’re overthinking this! I doubt it’s intended to be a deep soul-bearing question (if it is, yikes ;)), so any quick positive thing will do.

    3. Alison*

      Why do you even have to do this in a work meeting? I’d be making a stink face just because of the requirement.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I don’t even know. It probably improves the mood of neurotypicals, but Im like it’s cold, I can’t go anywhere good because of COVID and anything I do that is actually good is really niche – like video games nobody has heard of or old ass anime. Normies, an I right?

        1. Weekend Please*

          Not really. Being neurotypical does not make that question any less obnoxious. I think this falls under the category of “toxic positivity.”

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea my boss is probably trying to get us to focus on the positives or have gratitude or whatever but its like, ugh. Nobody cares.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Us “normies” can’t help that we’re neurotypical anymore than you can help being neurodivergent.

          Why not say “I re-played a favorite video game” or “I watched a new series” or something like that? Those are all things “normies” do.

          1. bluephone*

            Yeah, pretty sure most normies (WTF even is that) are fed up with COVID too and are having trouble thinking of positive stuff to share. So step 1 might be to stop framing this honestly-not-unusual, not-that-egregious work activity as “my special, unique snowflake self vs. all those normies UGH lol.”
            There’s nothing wrong with being neurodivergent but it doesn’t give people free reign to be jerks 24/7 (or like, ever).

            1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              It’s just so much easier for folks to make up stuff and make faces that they might not think about how it’s difficult or uncomfortable for someone else. It’s not job interview level bullshit- that’s so intense everyone has trouble but it is a stumbling block

              1. Eirene*

                Or it could be that there’s so much horrible stuff happening right now that perhaps the people in charge of meetings thought that attendees might like to hear something nice for a change. Granted, it’s a clumsy way of injecting some positivity into things, but I’m 99% certain that this was not conceived of with ill intentions toward you personally. So from one neurodivergent person to another, this “normie” stuff isn’t cute, and your neurotypical coworkers are most assuredly picking up on your overt hostility toward them.

                1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                  I know she’s not trying to be cruel or mean . I’m not “hostile ” towards neurotypicals I put on a good face mostly, I chat , but they enjoy different things than me socially and at work. Im just glad she’s not talking about how we all love Jesus.

                2. Julie*

                  You’re pretty derogatory towards neurotypical people here.
                  When I’m are put off by another person it’s not because they might be neuroatypical, it’s because they’re dripping with contempt for anyone they don’t relate to.

              2. Stephanie*

                Sure…but this is also part of working with people. It might be good to figure out how to work through this in the same way you’d improve a more technical skill like programming.

              3. Esmeralda*

                You misunderstand what it is like to be neurotypical.

                It is not that easy for many of us to make stuff up and it is not that easy for many of us to make nice faces. I can do it but I’ve been practicing for about 50 years — I’m neurotypical but it took YEARS before I could control sadness/anger/annoyance on my face. And that’s because I worked at it. And I still fail at it when I’m tired or over stressed. Thank god for WFH and turning off the camera.

                I’m sorry you’re having a terrible year. Pick like three or four bland things you can say and practice them. Also, in this Plague Year it is ok to say (as one of your three or four things): “Meh, it’s tough, you know?” or “Ugh, today I can’t even.” Other possibilities: “Oh you know, keeping on keeping on!” “Same old same old” “Can’t complain too much but I probably will” (for a tiny bit of humor).

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea my mind goes blank. I didn’t remember it was the release date of an awesome video game. Im just like uuuuhhhh…

          3. Viette*

            Yeah. Every commenter on this site reliably rips into every boss who’s ever made a LW do something like this. I don’t know if the OP here thinks that every commenter on AAM must be neurodivergent, but this is a universally unpopular act.

            “It probably improves the mood of neurotypicals” very much no thank you, OP, for assuming that all neurotypicals are as obnoxious and annoying as whatever boss is making this happen. It’s just a stupid thing at your job, and a stupid thing at a lot of people’s jobs if the letters on here are anything to go by.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I say this as kindly as possible, but you being neurodivergent doesn’t mean you’re unique. Lots of people across the spectrum of humanity like anime and niche video games and hate Mondays and dumb “morale boosting” questions.

        3. pancakes*

          Your answer doesn’t have to name a particular game or anime or whatnot. “I got a new game I’m really enjoying” or “I caught up on movies I’d been meaning to see” are generally sufficient answers to this sort of thing. If people ask for more details, it’s generally fine to name something that not everyone will be familiar with, so long as it’s not sex-centric or otherwise inappropriate for work. “Neurotypical” doesn’t signify “only interested in mass market culture,” so don’t feel you have to make up an entirely new persona for yourself to blend in at meetings.

          1. Lunch Ghost*

            +1. It looks like part of the problem is you’re trying to give a ‘right/acceptable/normal’ answer, but if this is genuinely supposed to be a casual icebreaker, no one should be seriously judging your answer. I have pretty much no interest in car racing or fancy watches or combat video games, but if someone said “My favorite driver won their race” or “I bought this new fancy watch” or “I’m really enjoying the new Call of Halos,” well, good for them.

        4. PollyQ*

          I doubt it improves anyone’s mood, although I’ve got anxiety/depression, so I can’t speak for neurotypicals either. But I think saying you’ve been enjoying video game [X] or anime [Y] are both fine answers. Even if no one’s familiar with the specific property, those are both fairly mainstream hobbies nowadays.

        5. Mirabel*

          What a weird thing to say. I’m neurodivergent and I don’t particularly mind these things. Sometimes they’re fun. It doesn’t have to be “Us vs. normies”, for pete’s sake.

          I’ve had luck with stating that nothing bad or dramatic happened, therefore I count that as a positive. At my job, a week with no hiccups or issues IS a good thing. No news is good news, type of thing. Try that?

        6. BRR*

          So I think the exercise is dumb but you’re perfectly fine naming video games or anime. I imagine whoever is mandating this has a goal of just trying to put positivity out there. So it doesn’t have to be something others enjoy. Or if you can’t make up a lie on the spot, can you make up a lie ahead of time?

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea I’ll have to write a list of neutral things to say so I don’t get mixed up again

        7. anon here*

          You might be surprised at who has heard of a video game or some old anime! Do I “look like” a person who would know Ranma 1/2? No. Did I read all of it that existed in high school? Yes.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Man I used to love Ranma. It’s just that you never know who is old fashioned about that stuff. I do a lot of editing at work like nodding and smiling whenever anyone busts out about Jesus or sororities or sports and kinda mumble something that sounds nice

            1. Esmeralda*

              My neurotypical self also just nods and smiles when Jesus, sororities, and (most) sports are the topic.

              You can turn your lack of knowledge/interest around in a way that makes people think you are nice, a good listener, etc: “I don’t know anything at all about jai alai! What do you like about it, Joe Bob?” “My college didn’t have sororities, so I’m clueless about greeks — do you keep up with the people you met in your sorority, Peggy Sue?” (I stay away from Jesus talk though, because religion is a minefield–also I feel I am All Right With God/Your Favorite Deity and don’t want to argue about it; that’s the right place for “that sounds nice” or “that’s cool”)

        8. Stephanie*

          If it helps, just think of it as a rule you need to follow for work. It’s goofy, but the rules of the job say you need to do it just like you need to send out the TPS reports by 4 pm daily. It’s annoying, but in the grand scheme of things that are annoying at work, it’s minor. Maybe just have a list of stock answers prepared like “Oh, I tried a new coffee flavor today.”

        9. Rainbow*

          Can you expand on this a bit more? I’m reading it as super hostile to all “normal” people and that’s surely not what you’re saying but I think I’m missing the nuance. What do you mean exactly?

    4. Rachel in NYC*

      I’m infamous in my group for coming up with something. (my boss also doesn’t make everyone say something because he knows not everyone will feel they have a positive.) But it’ll be things like stuff I saw on a walk to (this week) my BIL is about to changes military bases which means he can’t be sent to DC.

      That’s my family’s happy thing this January. (and part of December, since it meant he wasn’t getting sent for the inauguration. and so many guys in his job were being sent.)

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you can’t go big, go small.

      I have favorite pens that are hard to find, but when I do it makes my week. I noticed daffodils starting to poke up yesterday. Once I heard a cool story on NPR about how bees detect electric charges to tell which flowers have been recently pollinated. Today I found my favorite fuzzy socks.

      It can be anything.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “I had a wonderful dream. I dreamed I did not have to answer this question any more!”

      I am sorry you are going through this. I recommend shamelessly borrowing from the lives of people in your personal life. “My neighbor got a pup! It’s so cute.” OR “My niece got an A on her test. I am so proud.” You can also go with something weather related: “I didn’t lose power last night.” OR “We got less snow than expected.”

      I’d even go as far as planning what you will say before you go to bed. This type of thing can keep me awake for an hour laying in bed. Grab on to something/anything say that and be done with it. Probably most of the people in your group feel the same as you do.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      With the face thing, I just blame it on post-wisdom tooth nerve damage. “Oh, is my face doing the thing again? Yeah, when my wisdom teeth came out there was some nerve damage, I can never tell if the tingling means it’s working or not working.”

      It’s actually the autism, and not nerve damage, but I really did get nerve damage from the surgery and people don’t get mad about that as severely/often as they do about autism.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s a good one! My face is always weird when I’m not charged up for social and its so hard to explain that I need to actively think about my face and how its looking. Although masks now are good.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Masks are my freaking hero. I go out in a mask and sunglasses and suddenly strangers don’t get pissed off at me for my face! I’m never taking mine off again.

    8. Generic Name*

      During a meeting when a coworker asked how our holiday break went I said that I enjoyed eating a lot of cheese. :)

    9. Zephy*

      I had a job where we started every morning with this kind of thing, sharing a positive thought. “I woke up this morning” is a perfectly cromulent and reasonable contribution, if you have to share something. And, if there is something you are genuinely excited about – maybe you got good news from family, maybe there’s something going on this weekend you’ve been looking forward to, or maybe you just packed a really tasty lunch and can’t wait to eat it – it’s okay to share that, too. You don’t need to go into detail. “My sister shared some good news last night, it was nice to talk to her.” “I have tickets to a virtual comedy show on Saturday night that I’m looking forward to.” “I’ve got homemade chicken soup for lunch today that’s gonna be DELICIOUS! Can’t wait for 12:30!” Nobody cares about any of that, though, you say. That’s fine, the point isn’t to be the Most Interesting Man in the World or to brag about what a cool and interesting life and hobbies you have. The point is to start your day by thinking of something that makes you smile. By sharing it aloud, you can share that feeling with others – they’ll be happy for you, and it might make them in turn think of something that makes them smile. There’s no harm in putting a little bit of joy into the world at the beginning of a workday.

      1. Zephy*

        Also, just to add: I am also neurodivergent. I also like thinking about things that bring me joy, because it feels good. I like the joyful mirroring response I get from other people when I share those things. And I understand that other people like it when I express joy in response to them sharing their own joyful things. You can learn how to emotions even with an autistic brain.

        1. Generic Name*

          I love learning about people’s different perspectives. My son is autistic too, and he’s shared some really neat insights about himself and other people. Thank you for sharing!

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        You seem to genuinely enjoy things! I’m mostly putting on although I do guess that Starbucks WAS enjoyable. Not to the intensity of ” joy” but it was OK.

        1. Generic Name*

          Maybe try not to think of it as “joy”. Maybe if you can share something that made you smile. I find there are tons of those little moments in my daily life. Something as simple at smiling when I pat my dog’s head. If a person struggles to find anything to smile about at all, maybe something medical/mental health wise is up that might be worth checking out.

      3. Generic Name*

        I like this perspective a lot, especially if one is feeling that this question is invasive.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      You’re calling your coworker a liar for being happy she has a job to come to? I’m ecstatic I still have a job. A lot of us really like our jobs, you know. You might want to dial it back a bit.

  19. Orange Crushed*

    I wrote in a few weeks ago that my boss accused me of moving chairs around in our office. Well, it was the end of the day and she was telling a story of how when she started in the position, each department had their own Teapot System and instead of being the same, it was all different. I made a gasp because we have so many different departments and locations that I couldn’t imagine that.

    My boss stopped talking, looked directly at me and said, “Is something funny? Why are you laughing?”

    I looked up from my cubicle and said that no, I wasn’t laughing. I just couldn’t believe how differently things operated. Later on I asked my coworker if he thought that I was laughing and he said no, that he didn’t even hear me. He wasn’t sure why my boss would say that.

    Now I’m afraid to say or do anything. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. To make matters worse, her admin assistant seems to have it out for me- (admin and boss basically run the dept.) I’ve been accused of ridiculous things and she’s always running to the boss over stuff.

    Any tips or suggestions on how to survive a place like this until I can find a new job and leave?

    1. Firecat*

      Treat your boss like an alien you are observing. Detach yourself as much as possible. Interesting the Bossus Snarkus seems to purposfully create misunderstandings as an attempt at dominance. etc…

      1. Joan Rivers*

        But LW gave boss the chance to misconstrue — she made some kind of noise. People don’t always realize that they may be setting up someone who may have an attitude and may WANT to misconstrue.

        LW doesn’t have to “gasp” — she can listen calmly. If boss and asst. actually do have it in for her, she can just not hand them any ammunition. It requires self-control. She may or may not be giving them “body language” or “sounds” that convey there’s tension between them.

        A lot of communication is non-verbal and we read it even if we don’t realize we are. We look at a facial expression or hear a “gasp” and interpret it, correctly or not.

        1. sequined histories*

          I mean, on the one hand, sure, she can strive to be as blandly neutral as possible and maybe that would help.

          On the other hand, if someone in authority is relentlessly seeking a justification for reacting negatively to an employee, it’s not the employee’s fault for making sounds and having a body, and it might not be helpful to invest too much energy in believing that supreme self-control will neutralize this reactivity and (seeming) animosity.

          A calm demeanor and an internal emotional detachment from the lack same in other people are probably good ideas. If common sense and experience in other contexts suggests you’re not the problem though—like, for example, if your involuntary gasping has never offended anyone before—it’s probably better not to exhaust yourself in a hyper vigilant effort to monitor your every breath. Save that energy for doing your job and maybe finding a new one.

        2. Not A Manager*

          People who want to pick a fight will pick a fight. OP didn’t do anything with the office chairs, IIRC, but there was a big kerfuffle about it anyway. “Don’t be human” isn’t really very actionable advice, and if OP *were* able to control all of her human facial expressions, sounds, and responses then her boss would probably accuse her of being mean or angry or sulking.

          This is a game OP can’t win.

          My advice is like others’. Detach, try not to be reactive when these things do occur, and keep looking for a new job. Your boss sounds horrible.

          1. pancakes*

            I agree the boss sounds pretty horrible, but don’t at all agree that “try not to audibly react to your boss” is equivalent to “don’t be human.” Regulating one’s own emotions is a pretty standard expectation of most professionals, and good practice in many situations.

            1. sequined histories*

              Self-control is an important part of adulthood, for sure. The ability to regulate the subjective experience and outward manifestations of our emotions is invaluable. Obviously, losing control of yourself at work is a bad in multiple ways.

              However.

              I think if someone in authority is giving an underling a hard time for very subtle (or even entirely imaginary) micro expressions and behaviors, it’s actually a bad idea to suggest that the answer is for subordinate person to police the tiniest nuances of breath and behavior ever more relentlessly.

              If the OP’s description is accurate, it sounds like she’s being bullied. I’m not suggesting she should make a scene or behave incautiously. Certainly not. But, in my experience, bullies actually feed on the sense that their victims are cowed, intimidated, and consumed with self-doubt.

              Operating on the premise that other people’s behavior will improve if you’re just super, super, super careful of your own usually doesn’t work out to well.

              1. pancakes*

                Good point, and I don’t disagree. I can’t tell from the comment whether the gasp was really an audible gasp or the boss over-reacting to (maybe?) an unidentifiable sound, or something else, though. The third party coworker not hearing laughter doesn’t necessarily mean anything, depending on where they were in relation to OP and boss, and on whether they’re just trying to stay out of any conflict between others.

          2. Orange Crushed*

            “if OP *were* able to control all of her human facial expressions, sounds, and responses then her boss would probably accuse her of being mean or angry or sulking.”

            THIS. I’m quiet and the Admin Assistant (AA) thought that I was mad at her. I went up to go get coffee and went to the bathroom and AA was upset because I was gone “too long”. (A whopping 7 minutes. My job doesn’t require me to be chained at my desk, but apparently AA thinks I should be.) I went to go talk to my Assistant Manager and AA accused me of talking about her. It’s nuts! I’m finally getting feedback from other departments about AA and some of them have had problems with her, so I’m glad that I’m not the only one!

        3. Observer*

          OK. So what is Orange Crshed supposed to do? Turn into a robot? Someone who turns a gasp – a one so quiet that not everyone even heard it – into WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME will find something to pick on no matter how the OP behaves. If they are too bland “why are you not paying attention?!” etc.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Be transparent and be sincere in all you say and do.

      I worked in a place where someone would report me for almost anything. (It was a large group of people and there was a culture of whining. Everyone reported everyone, yeah, it was chaos.) The rebuttal to that is cross all your i’s and dot all your t’s. Make sure everything is on the up-and-up. This can mean labeling things, tracking things and so on. Make your work as neat as a pin.

      Yeah, I worked this way. And the reason is because this did not hurt me. Our work should be neat and our actions should be transparent. And we can always beef up something we are doing. Let them sharpen you. Let them make you into an even better employee for your next employer.
      I even went as far as watching what I was saying, if I could not say a certain thing to everyone there, then I could not say it, period.
      This did work. And I think somehow it did make me a better employee….for the next employer.

      Keep in the back of your mind that when people make ridiculous accusations against us, that is because they are doing that very thing themselves. So AA is actually telling you A LOT about what she is doing.

    3. Caterpie*

      I had a bit of a similar situation in my work-study position in undergrad. My advice: if she’s accusing you of anything, even if its really mild and/or strange, document, document, document. Even if its just your written account, you will have something recorded if your boss escalates things.

      My situation was a little different because I was a student, but I understand the feeling of being accused by a boss when you didn’t do it, and how powerless it makes you feel. My supervisor was in her mid 50s and I was about 19 or 20. Our relationship started out really nicely, she would share a lot of information about herself and home country and seemed to be very generous and open.

      However, she later started accusing me of doing things I didn’t do, such as stealing printer paper and lying on my timesheet. I started taking photos of myself with the clock when I arrived and left, and wrote down accounts of some of her other accusations. When I had to ask the work-study office for a new position after I heard her say some disturbing things on a 2 hour personal call during work hours, it was really easy to switch my assignment because I had everything documented and ready to hand over. They quit placing students with her, so it helped out future students as well.

      I hope you get out of this situation soon! Your boss and the admin sound awful, and it might be worthwhile to read up on the topic of gaslighting. I’m only just learning about it so I’m not sure if its 100% what is going on, but I wish I had known more about it when I was dealing with my undergrad situation.

  20. Pinkie Pie*

    Acoustic management question. My husband is currently sitting at the opposite end of open floor plan from where my two kids are homeschooled. Both kids and mother have adhd. Is there a way anyway to carve a him a quite area?

    1. Just a PM*

      Could you get room dividers to block off your husband’s space? It probably won’t help with most of the noise, but it might help minimize distractions if he/you aren’t visible to each other. By him not being able to see you, it could be easier for him to tune your conversations and activities out as background noise.

      Other than that, could he commandeer a desk in your bedroom? Many of my coworkers have done this. They work in their bedroom while their partner and kids are homeschooling elsewhere in their house/apartment.

      1. Anono-me*

        If you can do the room dividers, if you throw a comforter or blanket over it, it will help to absorb/muffle the sound

        1. Firecat*

          Yes yes and more yes to blankets. However you really have to engineer a room to be quite. Our bedroom was loud, and we had basically put out bed in an area where all the noise from the roads/businesses would funnel straight to our bed. Even though it was the most aesthetically logical place to put it.

          I recommend thinking about how you might be able to move the desk. can you flip the desk so his back to is to the wall and put a desk divder with books on top (books are amazing at muffling sound)? It may look weird but these sorts of things make a huge difference in sound.

          For our bedroom we moved our bed 4 ft in front of the door. The headboard now faces the door and we draped blankets over the headboard. We lined the walls and windows with bookshelves and quilts. The room is so much quieter now it’s crazy.

    2. New Mom*

      I’ll assume that there is not a different space that he can go to. So if he has to stay in the same room, I’d recommend:
      Noise-canceling headphones
      Partition/divider that can be moved away at night
      Noise-machine that he can put in his area to limit background noise during meetings
      Set quiet times (if possible)

  21. Just a PM*

    It is performance review time at my agency and I am procrastinating my self-assessment.

    Does anyone else hate writing self-assessments? How do you procrastinate your performance review inputs? I cleaned my home office and organized my department’s file archives. Then I went on YouTube and pulled up my history to make a list of all the tutorials and webinars I watched for my work even though our performance reviews don’t consider professional development. Now I am on AAM.

    1. Quest*

      This is not immediately actionable advice — I’m sorry! — but will help for next year. I learned from a former manager and mentor to keep a running list of all my accomplishments, seminars attended, etc through the year. When the time comes to do a self-assessment, this will make it much easier. Every time someone compliments your work in an email, save the email. You can include those as well.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I am very good at keeping logs and lists for other people, and very bad at doing it for myself. I have good intentions but inevitably it falls by the wayside.

        What works for me personally is to take screen shots of whatever I *should* be logging, and just pop them all into a folder. I know this is sub-optimal in many ways, but it’s MUCH better than nothing. When I need the information I can just look at the screen shots and make my list at that time.

    2. Seashells*

      We have to do this in the first quarter of the year and I hate it. Oh and it’s 9 PAGES LONG. We do not get merit or performance-based raises so it feels more like a box someone thinks they have to check. I talked to my boss about it a couple of years ago and he said “just copy and paste”, and even though I thought that was…not smart, I did. No one noticed. I’ve done it for a couple of years now and still no one has noticed. He knows of course and he’s fine with it.

      I do pretty much the same thing year after year and I’m totally ok with that. There is just enough new things to keep me from being bored. There’s only so many way to say “I keep all the office machines running, order all the supplies, keep the calendar in order, do paperwork for new hires, do paperwork for event A and B”, etc.

      1. Unemployed Forever*

        Lost my last job due to COVID and worked for myself for the previous 20 years prior to finding the best job I ever had. I so hate the corporate self evaluations and my manager’s reaction to it that I started the cut and paste thing. Worked even better when I moved into the manager position. Nobody ever noticed.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our self-assessments are normally full-on essays, but this year they decided to do away with them because COVID and I’m stoked about not having to write it for a change. (We’re instead doing informal discussions with our management, and my manager basically thinks I hung the moon.)

    4. Annie Moose*

      Ahhhh I hate them too! Also not looking forward to my subsequent one on one with my manager. I’m switching managers (or, more precisely, one of my coworkers is moving up to be project lead/manager and our old manager is shifting to a different project team), but the review is going to be with my old manager, and I’m not sure if that will be a good thing or bad. He almost certainly has no clue what I’ve been doing, due to a lot of project and subproject weirdness, which means all his info will come secondhand. And my midyear review wasn’t fantastic (WFH and I are not friends) and he’s a known grump. So this review will either be ten seconds of “I have no clue what you did in the past six months, bye I guess” or a half-hour of “did you do a bad job, actually” (which is probably true lol)

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I hate having to use our system to do self-assessments/listing of all my accomplishments. But, at its core, I love listing out the accomplishments because I Want Credit for all the stuff I’ve done. Part of the reason this is motivating is because my work generally isn’t very visible to my manager so if I don’t make a point of highlighting all of it, it doesn’t count. One of my past managers still has a diminished idea of the scope of my work or skillset because I inadvertently sold myself short during that year’s review.

      Doesn’t mean I didn’t still procrastinate :-) Just be very sure you include everything you can!

    6. Stephanie*

      Oh man, I am the worst about this. I think I kept cleaning (because it’s always a mess here since I started 100% WFH). It was even worse this year because I got objectives that were written for my boss’ boss, so I had things like “Develop career paths for managers” as an IC. So I just avoided it until like the last possible minute.

    7. Generic Name*

      I procrastinate on long term projects by saying yes to a bunch of quick turnaround projects so I’m running in panic mode by the time the project is due.

    8. Hater of work self assessments*

      I procrastinate the living daylights out of mine every time. Work, AMA, reddit, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, any daily chore, any monthly/seasonally/yearly chore, exercise, have done it all. Eventually I force myself to write *something* before going to bed. I usually end up doing/finishing them up very late at night. If you do this, don’t submit it immediately. I got a email from my boss asking if I had been up all night since they know I’m not a morning person and they got an auto-email about my submission at 4 or 5 am. Oops? Now I still finish it late but I proof-read and submit at a more normal hour the next day.

    9. Wheee!*

      I’ve been working on mine all day! My process went something like this:
      1. Flip through task tracking notebook to remember what happened
      2. Find important thing that needs to be logged in the task tracker!
      3. Open task tracker, remember that there were additional related things that need to be added
      4. Flip through notebook to find that list
      5. Create multiple tickets to cover all of those issues
      6. Remember that there was a weird permissions issue that might cause an issue for the new hires
      7. Open the permissions
      8. Wonder about what the difference is between project roles and groups.
      9. Hunt down the answer
      10. Update the permissions
      11. Wonder about the external user permissions
      12. Look into that and realize that groups we don’t even work with anymore from outside the company might still have access to all of the projects.
      13. Remove their access from all 10 of the projects
      14. Report the issue to IT to make sure their permission is revoked from the system as a whole.
      15. Ask around about one of them because you’ve never even heard of them.
      16. Turn back to notebook to continue work
      17. Find the page with the issue that started it all and realize that ticket wasn’t entered.
      18. Create that ticket
      19. Go back to flipping through the notebook

      As I write this all out, I realize that there were a few other digressions just part of this section that I skipped over. So yes, I can relate!

  22. lifesempossible*

    Looking for the best questions to ask in an interview next week and/or delicate ways of asking them.

    Some background: I recently graduated with an accounting degree, and I pursued that degree because I’m interested in financial advising. I found a position with a respected company for that role! It has both has a local office and allows remote work. I am talking further with them about their “Financial Advising Training Program” versus jumping into an open “Financial Advisor” role. (I qualify for both, according to the minimum requirements.)

    I plan to ask about that remote/office balance, especially as Covid restrictions lift (whenever they do). I like the idea of access to the office, but my husband and I are talking about being snowbirds for part of the year, so the ability to work remotely is important.

    My other concern is that the salary range is quite large, and I think it’s from commissions. The information that the recruiter sent to me talked about being your “own business” in a sense. (You are employed by the company and have their benefit programs, but also are expected to hold clientele.) How can I phrase a question about making sure there is no dropping below a minimum income? Does anyone know if there is a base pay, and then commissions on top of that?

    What other questions do you recommend asking? (Are there some AAM posts somewhere to point me to?) Thanks!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m most familiar with Edward Jones and the way they run their comp is you’re given a salary (whatever you negotiate) for I believe 12 months which at that time, the salary will go away or will reduce to a much smaller figure. The understanding is you’ll be offsetting that loss in salary with an increase in commission from the business you bring in. Turnover as you can imagine, is quite high.

      I’d ask in granular detail about what the compensation looks like and if there is a ‘training wage’ and then I’d dive into the nitty gritty about what that looks like in terms of a time frame, how long it lasts, etc. I’d also dive heavily into what types of support you’ll be getting and if any back office help would come out of your pocket or if the company would pay for it.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      I used to be an administrative assistant for financial advisors. I can only speak for the firm where I worked, but working in a different state for a few months each year would not have been feasible due to licensing and client expectations.

    3. Chestnut Mare*

      OK, I have a lot of thoughts, as I am retired from this field. My first question would be to ask you what type of financial advisor you’d like to be? What types of products to you want to sell? There are many of them.

      Will you have to take any series exams? Any kind of investment product requires at least a Series 6, unless you are only planning to sell insurance products/fixed annuities, in which case you’ll need insurances licenses only.

      If you need to be licensed, how much time will your firm give you to take the exam? Will they give you time to study? Will they pay you a salary until you can generate commissions? Will you be fired if you don’t pass on the first try? Will they pay for the exam(s)?

      How will you get clients? Are you going to be supporting another agent, will you have to cold-call, will you be the representative for a 401(k) plan? Will you have to generate a certain amount of business within a set amount of time, or risk being let go?

      The phrasing of your “own business” makes me think of Edward Jones, as a previous poster mentioned. Unless you are buying out a book of business from a retiring agent, this is likely going to involve many years of hitting up friends and families, hounding them for referrals, and lots and lots of meetings around kitchen tables, all to hopefully clear your expenses. These types of agencies are very much “churn and burn” shops; they cast a wide net and hire a lot of people in hopes that some are great salespeople and become rainmakers. It happens, but it’s rare.

      As far as guaranteed minimum income, it’s not something that typically happens in this industry unless you’re in a salaried support role. You might have that arrangement for a few months, maybe even a year, but at some point you will be expected to generate enough commissions to cover your draw.

      That being said, if you’re passionate about customer service and sales, it can be a great career. I loved it; I enjoy people and really liked putting together financial tools to help them reach their goals. It’s been a good gig for me, but it’s been a lot of work and some very lean times. I’ve also seen it be a predatory business, both in terms of unsophisticated investors being coerced into inappropriate products, as well as people being recruited into firms with promises of easy money. Nothing about this business is easy for very long.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve been in that line of work for over 25 years…a good place to start if you’re looking for a steady income might be as registered support or as a junior member of a team of advisors. The salary isn’t fabulous, but you often qualify for additional comp or bonuses, and it’s a good way to learn the business and develop a network. You will probably also be able to add licenses on the company’s dime without a short deadline. (For new advisors they usually give you anywhere from 30 to 90 days, but support staff typically gets longer.) Most investment companies will change their commission payouts annually, so even if they’re generous now that might not always be the case. That said, when it goes well it’s a great business, very challenging and rewarding! But when it doesn’t go well it will grind you to a pulp. Best of luck to you!

    5. lifesmpossible*

      Thank you to all four of these replies!
      I will say that it isn’t Edward Jones, but it is just as large and well-known, so I’m taking the leap and assuming they operate similarly. The comment of “churn and burn” seems accurate, as these job openings list “Hiring for 5-10 people.” I was suspicious when the hiring salary was fairly high for the region, but barely requires anything other being a “self starter.”

      Honestly, even though I have wanted to do financial advising, this avenue seems like it isn’t quite right for me. I envisioned something more along the lines of income taxes + general planning, where taxes serve as a minimum check-in, and then consulting/appointments the rest of the year. I am also interested in the overlap of psychology and money, like financial therapy.

      When talking to my husband about it, I struggled to separate the characteristics you all have listed from an MLM, which I avoid like the plague. The only marker difference between this company and the MLM seemed to be that you qualify for corporate benefits. (An important thing, definitely. But I feel strongly that there should be a livable minimum income.)

      Thank you again for taking the time to write your replies! I appreciate it!

  23. Free to Freelance*

    Good morning (from the west coast), are there folks who work full time and freelance or have a side business? I really want to start my business, but I don’t think I’m ready to quit my job and dive in (I’ve barely even started setting it up because I’m just so tired after work.)

    If anyone is successfully doing both, how do you find/make the time? If you have a particularly demanding full time job, do you have any tips with starting slow without burning out? Do you basically work on the weekends or nights after work? When do you find time to rest?

    1. Kiko*

      I don’t do this, but my sister does. She is a full-time marketer and runs a photography business on the side. I’ll be honest, it’s really tricky for her. In fact, I think one of the reasons she was dismissed from her last job was because she was letting her side business trickle into her full-time job hours. I think you should start with fewer projects than you think you can manage and work up from there. Also, assign “active” job tasks to the weekend and “passive” job tasks during the workweek when you’re less focused. My sister typically takes portraits during the weekend and then spends the weekday evenings editing. She’s been doing it for so long she just does it while watching TV. Good luck!

    2. Pascall*

      I do freelancing currently, but really just to supplement the small pay cut I took when taking my current job which was purposefully less demanding so I could actually have time/energy to freelance.

      What I recommend is having a set amount of hours or a schedule to start with that you provide clients when you tell them your rates. For me, when starting, I usually relegated my freelancing to weekends so I could have weeknights to just chill; play video games; whatever. But then gradually, as you find time to balance, you can increase that amount of hours you spend to 1 or 2 weeknights in addition to the weekends. You basically have to start small and work your way up and never exceed what you know you can reasonably handle.

      When you start pressing yourself past your limits, your work will suffer. So you have to be very strict about your hours and how much time and effort you spend on freelancing. A lot of the freelancing/entrepreneur culture will convince you that you have to PUSH and work yourself to death, but it’s honestly not worth it when your health and sanity suffers. It’s much better to take your time, build your skills and portfolio (depending on what your business/freelancing skillset is), and work when you’re able to. Then you can be sure that the work you’re producing isn’t rushed or isn’t the result of you on the verge of burnout.

      I hope that helps! On a slow year I’ll earn about $8k-$10k from freelancing and in a busy year, I can earn between $20k-$25k. It’s not a standalone business yet, but I’ve only been doing it for about 4 years now. So I imagine once you’re able to really diversify your skillset and build a client-base, you can eventually branch out on your own.

  24. wantaJobNow*

    How to interpret bad job search advice?

    Since the beginning of the year, I’ve sought job search advice from local nonprofits, government groups, even the “Career Coach” program offered by the public library system.

    I explain at the start of each conversation that I’m looking for specific information about how to rework my resume and cover letter package to make it more appealing for marketing positions. Rather than acknowledging their knowledge is limited/non-existent and they cannot offer guidance, I instead end up with general information more useful for office assistant positions or applying to government jobs (neither of which I’m interested in).

    To provide context, see below for just a few nuggets of horrible suggestions I’ve heard this week:

    Remove 2 years’ worth of work because it involves voter registration and that might alienate prospective employers. When asked what to replace it with, I was told to just leave a sizeable unemployment gap rather than include my non-partisan work.

    Include every job you’ve had since graduating from high school (so, nearly 20 years of employment history on a two-page resume with skills, affiliations, achievements and education) with four or five bullet points each, no matter how long ago you held the position.

    Bold every job position and italicize every numeric achievement on my resume. Seriously, wouldn’t that overwhelm a reader’s eyes quickly?

    When discussing one organization’s preferred resume structure, the woman assisting me showed me a real person’s resume. This person didn’t work in marketing but was a public school teacher helping students on the autism spectrum (a wonderful field of work worthy of more money and respect).

    Based on what I’m being told, I feel that disregarding most of the advice is my best course of action. I am willing to make some alterations to my resume and cover letter as a sort of A/B test to see if there are any differences.

    Do you have any other suggestions or commiserations to share?

    Thanks for taking time to read!

    1. Littorally*

      Bolding the job position makes sense to me — that makes it easier to parse out each position’s section. But italicizing numbers seems excessive; from my experience, italics don’t do nearly as much to organize information as bolding does.

    2. irene adler*

      It might help to seek out persons in the field/industry you wish to work in. Something like a professional organization with a local chapter. They would be able to give you industry-specific suggestions on what employers in the industry like to see on the resume. And what not to put on the resume.

      Remember that a resume is a marketing document designed to display you/your skills/knowledge/experience in their best light. It is not an all – inclusive history. Refer to your LinkedIn page for the chronological rendering of your work history.

      When I review resumes, I want to see information that answers “what can you do for me?” So align your resume skills and accomplishments with the job description that I’m trying to fill. That helps me to see that you are a fit for the position.
      Don’t muck up the resume with things that do not pertain to the job. Otherwise, there’s distractions that won’t let me see how you fit the position.
      If you are worried about gaps via leaving something out, then include the job. But just make it a very brief entry.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, this is all solid advice and I agree that you need to find someone who works in the field to give field specific advice. I work in libraries, but I’ve hired for museums, higher ed, and government jobs. I can give general advice, but only someone in the field knows the best options. The resume I expect from a librarian is not the resume I expect from a professor and is not the resume for a computer programmer. You need to find some marketeers to talk to. Good luck!

    3. Joan Rivers*

      “their knowledge is limited/non-existent and they cannot offer guidance, I instead end up with general information . . .” —

      Sounds like you need to seek guidance from better sources. You can see that these aren’t helpful.

      If you consult the Public Library “Career Coach” you get what you pay for, I assume. Not that it couldn’t be helpful, but maybe not for you.

      These sources sound “free” or “cheap” so maybe you have to ask the question, “What is a good source of help in my situation?

  25. A*

    Advice on not being crushed by a workload coming in over email? I’m leaving a job where we had a huge workload that was hard to quantify for the benefit of our supervisors (and going to a new job next week, which is why this is on my mind).

    In the job I’m leaving, actual job assignments were sent to us on a portal where the clients were supposed to centralize all communication with us. In actual practice, the clients only wanted to email us. Our supervisors only looked at the portal and not at our email inboxes, so a supervisor could say, “Hmm, why is it taking you so long to complete one simple request on the portal?” and the answer would be that I’d spent all that time answering the client’s many angry emails because they refused to communicate in any other way than by email. It was like an unending hot-dog-eating contest.

    My main reason for leaving is that I can’t stand working as fast as I can all day while also being sent snippy “Please try to keep up” messages by my supervisor. But of course, I’m afraid that I will end up in a similar position at the job I’m starting, where I have a hard time proving to my supervisor that my huge workload really is a huge workload. The new place looks better, but of course any employer can talk a good game and then not live up to its promises.

    Advice on how to protect myself from this situation in the future? How does one advocate for oneself when there’s an invisible huge work-stream coming in that doesn’t show up on workplace metrics?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Make the invisible, visible. Put those emails into the system yourself if you can. Hit forward to the manager with a “fyi, got this email, am on top of it but wanted to keep you in the loop”. Ask for assistance training clients to use the portal/redirect them to the portal, etc.

      1. pancakes*

        +1, and quantify the emails in an email summarizing the problem as well. Something along the lines of, “FYI, I added 17 requests that came in via email to the portal this week.” And if a dozen of those came from one particular client, that’s worth flagging as well.

    2. Rachel in NYC*

      Or respond to the emails and cc: your supervisor/boss. My supervisor and I had an early policy that I cc: him on everything, now I do it on most things. He skims those emails but include him so if someone gets mad or an issue comes up when I’m not around, he’ll have a background.

      In your case, it would let your supervisor know how much stuff is coming in by email.

    3. Satisfactory Worker*

      Were you allowed to push back on how client’s using email?

      “Sorry, I can’t respond to this. Corporate says everything has to go through the portal so it is tracked. Can you please submit this on the portal and I will right back to you?”

    4. Not A Manager*

      This might not be the best real-world advice, but after a few of those exchanges with my supervisor I would cc them on every. damn. email.

    5. ana_h*

      I’m in a job like this. I set up a folder in my inbox for emails I’ve actioned every month and click ‘show total number of items’ so I can see how many I’ve dealt with each month. It’s really useful as data to bring to meetings/respond to mgmt with.

  26. Just Peachy*

    So, I have a terrible manager. She was promoted to her current position about 3 years ago when our previous (great) manager resigned.

    Our office hours are 7:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M., but we’re generally dead on fridays after about 2:30 P.M. Our previous manager let us leave between 3:30-4:00 every Friday, and would cover the phones for the last 30 minutes-hour of the day (which would rarely actually ring).

    The current, terrible manager is the definition of “on a power trip”, and has never once let us leave even a minute before 4:30 (she once gave an employee grief for leaving at 4:28!) Ironically, she shows up 30+ minutes late every day and often leaves early herself, despite the nature of her job being a position where she’s often needed at 7:30 A.M. Our customers often complain about her lack of reliability and responsiveness.

    Anyway, yesterday, she calls myself and my the other two employees she manages into her office yesterday. All excitedly, she says “Hey! I just had a great idea! To show my appreciation, I wanted to give you guys a treat! Starting tomorrow, you can all alternate Fridays leaving at 4:00 P.M.! Just make sure to cut your lunch breaks in half (our lunch breaks are generally an hour), and you each will get to leave at 4:00 every third Friday!” I almost couldn’t keep a straight face. Not sure how this is considered a “treat” when we’re all still working 40 hours a week – one person will just be shortening their lunch to leave a half hour early, lol. We’re all salaried employees, btw. Yet, we all work at least 40 hours a week to avoid my boss’s wrath, while my boss herself works about 35 hours a week on average. It’s just comical seeing her act like she’s giving us this huge perk of leaving early once every three weeks by 30 minutes (but still having to make up the time over lunch!), when she consistently works so few of hours.

    In other news – I gave my notice today, as I’m planning on being a stay at home mom when my baby is born next month, so all of the nonsense here will soon be a thing of the past. :)

    1. Firecat*

      But in seats managers are bad enough, but when they are hypocrits and subscribe to the HR nonsense of “Presenting a negative things as if it’s a benefit will definitely make people not furious at you…” is just way worse. Glad you are done soon. Good luck with SAHS!

    2. voyager1*

      What was she like before she was promoted? Honestly this sounds like someone who is trying too hard while at the same time doesn’t have the maturity to be a manager.

      1. Just Peachy*

        She wasn’t as bad, but I feel like she always had that tendency in her. So, I’m not surprised that she is the way she is as a manager. Unfortunately, at the time she was promoted, it was kind of a, “well, there’s no one else” kind of thing (myself and my coworkers were both fairly new at the time, while the current manager had been here for 8 years), and my company likes to hire from within. We would have been better off hiring an external candidate!

        1. Joan Rivers*

          If she leaves early as often as you say, why can’t everyone else too? She won’t know, will she?

          And if she sees you leaving behind her, you can say, “Oh, isn’t it 4:30 yet? I saw you leaving and just packed up.”

    3. Double A*

      I don’t know if you could change this, but do you qualify for FMLA? Because otherwise I wouldn’t quit before going on maternity leave, even if I didn’t intend to come back. Those skimpy benefits are benefits you earned.

      1. Just Peachy*

        I do have those benefits available. I initially intended on using them, but after many discussions and prayers with my husband (and a multitude of other factors), we decided that it was ultimately the best decision for our family for me to resign at 37 weeks. Thankfully, my husband has a great job, we have no debt, have invested a ton in our 401k, etc. I’m at peace with the decision. :)

    4. Annie Moose*

      No advice, just sympathy. I had an old boss who used to come in early in the morning and he was constantly suspicious of those of us who came in later. Like he’d show up at 7 AM and I’d start at 8:30 AM, so obviously I would be around much later in the day than he was. He was always making passive-aggressive comments about us leaving early, if we were working through our lunches and counting that as billable hours, etc. etc. I always figured that it was because he wasn’t trustworthy himself so he just assumed everyone else was trying to short the company too.

      1. Just Peachy*

        Thank you for your sympathy!

        I feel the exact same way about my manager – she is untrustworthy, and assumes the rest of us are, too!

  27. MMM*

    My roommate has been working with a recruiter to try and find a new job, and apparently she had to provide her SAT scores. The recruiter said something about the company really valuing SAT scores and Dean’s List in college (which I can understand a little more than SAT scores but still) We both took the SAT over a decade ago, so she had to contact College Board to even get access to her scores again. I think it’s beyond bizarre, but I don’t really want to insert myself into her job search. If it were me, I’d consider it a red flag that they put so much emphasis on standardized testing success from high school….right?

    1. JohannaCabal*

      It’s also a way for the company to determine age because the scoring system has changed over the years. Right after I took the SAT, College Board added a writing portion which raised the scoring range.

      (I wish the writing portion had been in play when I took it–would have pushed my score higher!)

      1. Firecat*

        Eh don’t count on it. I frequently had A’s in writing, but I got middling scores on the writing portion. I was in the first year it was implemented. A friend of mine got a perfect score and I asked her how – it turns out she had an essay in mind about MLK that she was going to write no matter the prompt. She had refined the essay over months, memorized it, and all of her “writing prep” had been practicing ways to pivot any prompt. I

        So she used the measly 30 minutes of prep to outline your entire essay to just focus how she was going to use to the first paragraph to pivot to her prepared essay.

        I don’t remember the prompt – it was something like explain in your own words what education means to you – or something like that. She said she spend the first paragraph talking about how education is empowering and with that empowerment and learning you get people like MLK and the rest of the essay was about how amazing MLK is and why. It worked she got a perfect score.

        1. TL -*

          The #1 feature of a top score is length. And if you follow the essay structure you’re taught in school & use a lot of big vocabulary words, you’ll do really well, regardless of your ability to actually write.

          1. Stephanie*

            I had a roommate who would write long, rambling Medium essays full of GRE words and they were the most tedious things to read.

          2. Generic Name*

            It really is amazing how far this will get you. I worked with a guy who sounded great but actually didn’t know what he was doing. He could string a series of big words together in a grammatically correct way that actually said nothing of substance, but sounded good to a lay reader.

            1. TL -*

              Yup. I’ve edited someone like that (and I mean, a full line-by-line, 10+ hrs, identifying the reference point of every “it” in the paper edit) and he was outright shocked by the amount of feedback he got.

              Really nice person, smart as a whip and great at his job, but a terrible writer who thought he was good because nobody had ever taken the time to interrogate his big word/complex sentence BS before. (which he had probably been taught at his excellent high school, in his AP classes.)

      2. Stephanie*

        I do pretty well on standardized writing tests, but doing well of them usually doesn’t reflect good writing (or more accurately, it reflects a very narrow interpretation of good writing). Often times, there’s a direct positive correlation between length and score. And they very much like the standard five-paragraph essay format. On the GRE, too, I suspect they wanted you to use GRE-level vocabulary. I knew it, but if I wrote a work email in GRE words, I would sound so strange!

        1. TL -*

          Once I took the GRE twice, about a year apart, and brought my writing score up from the 50% to the 90+% percentile by taking ten minutes to review the second essay and replacing every word I can with a multsyllabic syllable.

          I did nothing else to prepare – I didn’t study, I didn’t read any tips, I didn’t look up strategies, I didn’t do a lot of writing in the intervening year – I just used my (rather impressive) vocabulary to its fullest and I went from average to a top scorer.

          Now I’m actually paid to write professionally and a LOT of what I do is change out multisyllabic SAT words and jargon for simpler language…

    2. Bear Shark*

      I’d consider it a red flag, especially if they wanted proof of her scores. If they take SAT scores that seriously I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked for proof of the score, which would have the date of testing on it and roughly correlate to her age.

      At this point her SAT score has about as much relevance to her qualifications as her high school GPA and her high school summer jobs.

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        This. I took the SAT over 30 years ago. (Yikes!) I would be shocked if the College Board still had my score on file!

      2. MMM*

        Yes she absolutely had to send proof, she was able to call CB and get them sent. Honestly her scores aren’t all that impressive, but since I know her as a whole person I hope for her sake that her previous experience and interview weighs much more heavily

    3. Firecat*

      To me it’s a huge red flag of – we only want to hire rich people who are connected regardless of their work performance.

      The SAT has been proven time and time again to increase with wealth, not correlate with IQ, and frequently limit gifted minorities and poor from education opportunities. SAT doesn’t strongly correlate with college GPAs at all.

      I’d assume the company is stuffed with nepotism and obsessed with breeding. Pass.

    4. Kiko*

      I would not be interested in working for an organization that values test scores and grades. I would be worried that they attach importance to other superficial forms of measurement like how many hours worked rather than the end product.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Excellent point! Arbitrary quantification with minimal relevance to performance isn’t limited to aptitude tests.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      … I didn’t even TAKE the SAT, I took the ACT instead. But yeah, that’s nonsense, because it was over 20 years ago. :P

      1. Reba*

        As universities are moving away from requiring SAT in admissions (not all that many yet, but it’s definitely a trend), I’m hoping this test will finally die.

    6. Stephanie*

      Ugh, consulting firms love test scores. It’s a red flag for me as it’s a firm that overemphasizes a narrow form of academic achievement and (probably) will be not particularly diverse.

  28. No Hablo*

    I need a gut check here.

    A friend (Bobbi) is a personal assistance for the owner of a company. When a job opened at the company as a Teapot Manager, she thought of me as it’d be the next relevant step up from my teapot coordinator position currently. The job description seemed perfect. The only problem – Spanish was listed as a requirement. I applied anyway since it was such a good fit in other ways that I thought why not, particularly if the friendly connection might help get an interview. And I heard from Bobbi that this position has 1 direct report who is fluent in Spanish so maybe it’s not as necessary for both of us to be.

    Bobbi mentioned my application to her boss. Her boss told her to tell me to put Spanish on my resume and resubmit my application. I said I’m not comfortable lying on my resume like that. I figured if interviewed, I’d talk about a willingness to learn but I can’t pretend I can say much more than Hola now.

    My husband and Bobbi are both acting like I’m insane for not wanting to lie. I know I could in the future be fired if lying on the resume got me the job. I’m employed currently and while I’m feeling ready to move on, I’m in a secure enough situation to make sure the next move is the best move. This encouragement to lie on resume from the business owner to get an interview just seems… sketchy? red-flaggy?

    Idk, is it just me?

    1. Who moved my cheese?*

      Have you asked your husband and Bobbi how they expect it to go on Day 1 when you’re supposed to start speaking fluent Spanish for the job? Seriously, what’s up with them?

      1. No Hablo*

        Bobbi shrugged and said if the company owner’s the one saying it it shouldn’t be a problem.

        My husband thinks it would be a foot in the door and then I could explain it in the interview. I’ve done hiring and interviewing before – I can’t imagine I would’ve reacted well to someone admitting they lied on the resume to get an interview. That’d be so much worse to me than just applying without a listed requirement; that I would consider for a hard to fill role but lying? Nah…

        1. pancakes*

          If it’s not required for the position they shouldn’t be using it to screen resumes and encouraging candidates to lie to get through screening. The idea that the owner of the business doesn’t think the position requires Spanish but can’t or won’t get the listing changed to reflect that is very strange. It seems more likely that your contact is lying about the owner’s position on this vs. the owner of the business being powerless to change it.

    2. Llama face!*

      That is sketchy! It isn’t just you. And a falsified document like that could end up biting you in the backside in the future. Frankly, if it were me I would start wondering what other ethical corners they were okay with cutting at that business if the boss goes straight to suggesting you lie on your resume.

      1. No Hablo*

        That’s why it feels like a red flag to me too. If that’s how all hiring happens there, do I want to join this staff?

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

      There’s a lot of resumes out there with falsehoods on them, but you are in the right!

      I can sort of understand (but not agree with) this advice from people like your spouse, friends or family… I’m giving more of a side-eye to the grand-boss proposing that!

      Do you have any knowledge of basic Spanish at all (i.e is it truly just ‘hola’)? If so, you could perhaps mention it (being honest about your actual level) in a cover letter, or even on a resume if you are very clear that it is “rudimentary” (or whatever applies to you) Spanish.

      1. No Hablo*

        If anything, I’d update my cover letter. I worked in a Teapot Manufacturer before as an Admin. 50% of the production staff spoke english as a second language or not at all. I would reference that I found myself able to get by with basics and asking if the person I spoke with was comfortable with so-and-so acting as a translator. I thought about doing that before all this but decided I’d rather focus on my strengths than the one weakness. Putting on a resume feels like a stretch though.

    4. Fiona*

      Extremely weird. It would be one thing if you were proficient but not fluent and you could ramp up your skills if you got the job. It’s another thing to just completely lie. And if your interviewer decides to conduct your interview in Spanish, what happens then?

    5. Asenath*

      I would absolutely not lie on a resume – aside from the moral issues, this is one that will come back to bite you fast. Probably, if you are hired, when you first meet your Spanish-speaking direct report, who will start to chat with you in Spanish. I actually did something like this by mistake when I was a student. I was applying for a student-type job in a foreign country, so of course had to list the languages I spoke. I put down the ones I had studied, including German which I had had about a semester of study in. I honestly thought that was the right thing to do, but it was interpreted as meaning I could actually speak German, which I couldn’t except for common greetings and very short sentences about common situations. They were very nice about it when they discovered this, but it was a lesson to me to be specific and accurate about describing my linguistic abilities – “Studied for a while” does not mean “Fluent”.

    6. Malarkey01*

      Yeah, you’re right and they are very wrong. It would be one thing if they were suggesting you beef up the experience a little or overly highlight a role (still not great). To straight up lie when you can’t even find a bathroom in Spanish would really show you were dishonest and lacked judgement.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Okay, lying aside, there is something really skeevy going on here.

      If the *owner* doesn’t think that the Spanish qualification is important, why not just say, “Oh, it’s irrelevant, don’t worry about it.”

      Who are they lying to? Why are they trying to trick the hiring manager instead of just having a normal conversation with them about what qualifications are actually necessary for the job?

      There is some kind of weird dynamic in that company, and if you play along you are going to wind up being a pawn in someone else’s game that you don’t even understand.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        “Who are they lying to?” Good question! (Also don’t do it because whatever the answer, it’s not great that they want you to effectively lie on record)

        My immediate thought was that it’s like when you attach Principal Investigator profiles/CVs to a grant proposal, to demonstrate that you have people who are qualified to do the work you’re proposing. They seem to want this qualification on file via OP’s resume for Some Reason, so what is it?

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It’s not just you.

      Ages ago, my mother advised me that I put skills I had on my resume even if I didn’t have experience with them at work–that nobody was going to ask my previous employers, or school, whether I’d groomed llamas for them, if I did in fact know how to groom llamas because I’d done it at home for three years, or as a volunteer for the local llama stables.

      But that was only for skills I in fact had, where I could walk into a job and start grooming llamas. You’re not being told to claim work experience in a skill you learned as a hobby–they’re urging you to say things you can’t back. Bobbi and her boss aren’t going to say “we knew she doesn’t speak Spanish, we told her to list that to get past the automatic screening” if you get hired and then draw a blank when asked to use the language.

      1. Metadata minion*

        Yeah, I think skills acquired outside of work can be extremely relevant, especially if they’re on the more quantifiable side (i.e., “I can do X, Y, and Z in Excel” or “I have designed websites for some volunteer organizations; here they are so you can see my skill level” is more reasonable than claiming you have “event planning” because you helped a few friends plan their weddings)

    9. ThePear8*

      Do not lie on your resume. If reading AAM has taught me anything, it’s that it can severely undermine your credibility. If it ends up being important for the job, you might find yourself in a job you’re not able to perform well in without the necessary language skills.
      Plus, when it comes to language especially, there’s a chance the interviewer might even try to speak it with you. It might not be very likely depending on the situation, but for example I helped my sister’s fiancee with his resume when he was searching for a job and told him to list that he knew Spanish because he actually did grow up in a Spanish-speaking family and is quite proficient in the language, so it could be an advantage to have a second language skill on his resume. He said the interviewer at the job he later got noticed it on his resume and spoke some Spanish with him in the interview. Obviously, if you do NOT actually know Spanish, this would be quite a tight situation to be in! It might not happen, but I think it’s best if you don’t have to explain in the interview why your resume includes a blatant lie.
      And as other replies have said, it’s very sketchy that the boss wants you to lie on your resume? That does raise a lot of alarm bells in my head. If you get an interview, I would say it’s a good chance to feel things out and confirm if it’s as much of a red flag as it sounds like…but yeah, you really shouldn’t need to lie on your resume and it’s extremely weird the company is telling you to.

    10. Cambridge Comma*

      In your position I’d put on that I was learning Spanish and start an intensive course asap. I like learning languages, though, so it’s probably not a solution for everyone.

  29. Tbubui*

    So yesterday (Thursday) afternoon I had a huge mess dumped on my desk by another department. They told me, surprise!, instead of a project deadline being the end of February as they said in mid-December, the deadline is now Monday at 9:00am. This is not physically possible. If I worked 24 hours per day until Monday I could not complete this task. And I am the only person that can complete this task in the entire organization, so it’s not like my coworkers can jump in and help.

    My boss is furious with the other department as they have no idea what our work involves (we’re a non-profit educational organization and they’re the finance department of our parent organization, if that makes sense). This requirement was something they have never asked us for before, so it was quite a shock to find out about it before the business closed for 2 weeks over Christmas. And then being told on Thursday the project needed to be finished by the start of the day on Monday is insane.

    I guess my question is: Does anyone have any tips for navigating this issue? My boss and I want to escalate it with the grandboss in our parent organization but I’m wondering if anyone has experience telling a higher-up that a task they have set is literally impossible? It’s a complex and industry-specific task that I would not expect anyone in finance to have experience with, so how do I communicate its complexity without the explanation being overwhelming?

    1. Lunch Philosopher*

      This might not be helpful but I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. It is absolutely and impossibly insane for this team to do this to you.

      The amount of miscommunication between orgs/departments/teams can be STAGGERING. Is there a paper trail for this work? Did they mention the deadline in that paper trail before christmas? If not, that obviously should be flagged to your Grandboss. I also love the language of “working hours,” ie. if you give me something on friday at 3 pm and follow up Monday at 9:30, I’ve really only had 2.5 working hours to look at and complete the task. That could be helpful framing with your Grandboss?

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! There is a paper trail since we’re all at home and communicating via Teams or email. I’m also only a part time worker (15 hours a week) and am not allowed overtime, so that’s important to bring up (thank you for flagging that because I thought they would know, but they probably don’t). I’ll make sure to bring both of those points up with Grandboss.

    2. cosmicgorilla*

      You don’t need to go into specifics. You could say that if you focused on nothing else but this task, ignoring xyz tasks that you’re currently responsible for, you could have it done by x date. Conservatively by x date if no issues cropped up, but realistically, by y date.

      If you think the grandboss will want more specifics, do your best to summarize. Maybe have your boss review the summary – they may be able to summarize even more efficiently, as you’re too close to the details. I am this way, so I totally understand. It’s hard to get out of the weeds. Example – “It isn’t as simple as just filling out some paperwork. Each entry has to be researched to ensure we’re complying with local regulations. Each country has their own regulations. We’re looking at 50 entries per form, and 10 different countries. When we find things out of compliance, we have to go back to the teapot designer to have them re-do the form, then we re-validate their new entry. It’s pain-staking and time-consuming.” You don’t need to go into how the regulations are different or what the regulations cover, just keep it as high-level as possible.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! It’s helpful to remember that I should talk broadly because I do get bogged down in the weeds. I’ll definitely make sure to give a conservative timeline, especially because I’m part-time and have many other responsibilities.

        As for what I do, does this explanation make sense: “Finding [required information for the project] is difficult, as there is no centralized database or record-keeping in our industry. I have to search individual organizational records going back up to 20 years and not all organizations keep records for more than 5 years. Sometimes I need to reach out to these organizations and wait for their response before I can move forward. Therefore I cannot finish this project by the Monday deadline.” And then I would give my timeline.

        1. Hillary*

          Start with your timeline, then say why in the passive voice. Take out anything that could be remotely construed as blame or negative – you’re giving a positive update about the project. Your boss should mention over voice that the Feb 1 date is impossible and maybe give more context, but don’t put that in writing. Assume your email will be forwarded to whoever made the request. I’d say:

          I anticipate completion around February 15. To produce this work I’ll be searching individual records in our paper files going back 20 years, sometimes requiring assistance from our partner organizations. If we go all hands on deck I can train colleagues and aim for Feb 1 (or whatever).

          1. Tbubui*

            Thank you so much! I really appreciate the help. The January 18 date is impossible so I really appreciate the advice on emphasizing the mid-February deadline. Unfortunately this isn’t something I can train colleagues on since they have their own, extremely important (and visible) projects for our organization. But I can say that I can prioritize this project over projects x, y, and z, since those have later deadlines and this is the priority.

            1. Hillary*

              Just remember getting bodies to help isn’t your problem – it’s your boss’s or grandboss’s problem. Basically put the ball in their court – if they can get you people, can you train them?

              1. Tbubui*

                Unfortunately this is a highly specialized discipline (I can’t specify as it will probably out me; it’s that specialized). You need at least 2-3 years of training to get to the point where you can do the task I have to do. And due to the pandemic, we don’t have a hope of hiring someone else to do that because we have no room in our budget. My boss can technically do it as she spent 5 years in my role before her promotions, but she already has a million obligations as the director of our organization, like applying for grants so we can keep running. So unfortunately it’s all on my shoulders and it means to reach the original deadline I have to drop every other project I was working on.

        2. cosmicgorilla*

          I wouldn’t add the “therefore” to your explanation. That just hits me in a negative way.

          I like Hillary’s response, but honestly, as a detailed person, I do like the point about organizations not having records past 5 years, so I’m inclined to keep that in. Otherwise, it might sound like all you have to do is reach out, and all the information is available at your fingertips.

          1. Hillary*

            Can you tell I work in a very political role? As a detail person I like the point about record retention, but to a senior manager it’s going to read like deflection. Just saying you have to work with partner orgs will make the point. They’re used to unresponsive partners.

          2. Tbubui*

            The information is definitely not at my fingertips. I can’t go into details but many organizations take weeks to get back to us with the information if they even have records going back 5 years (which many don’t for this particular specialization). And this project involves reaching out hundreds of times to many different organizations to get that information.

        3. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          I might add a “for example” timeline from past experience. “For example, when I did the entry for [organisation], I sent the request mid-November and received the information from them last week [so the total time elapsed to complete that entry was X].” Or something similar, including any main time-chunks of your own work, to give more of a concrete sense of a typical one.

    3. Buni*

      Usually if you can supply some sort of answer / solution *while* explaining why the initial thing isn’t going to happen, that goes some way towards ameliorating the bad news. In terms of explaining, I’m a big fan of actual bullet points (even if they’re only in you’re brain); think of 3 reasons why it can’t happen, condense them into single sentences and if necessary tick them off as you speak.

      On the other hand just yesterday I had to look my boss in the eye and literally use the phrase “[Boss], that’s not how linear time works.” so you have my sympathies.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thanks! Haha, I said something about linear time to my own boss when I explained to her that finance had moved up the timeline. You’re also right that I want to explain why this can’t happen but keep the news positive by emphasizing my solutions.

  30. Cruciatus*

    How do you make a decision about applying for a job when you’re relatively content at your current job but another job internally would pay more (and would probably be just fine)?
    I work for a university, at a smaller campus than main campus, but I work for the university libraries system. I am not a librarian, but I really enjoy my coworkers, student workers, I enjoy working in the library, and I like being part of the university libraries system because I get to meet more people from all the campuses. However, there is no ability for me to move up (unless my supervisor leaves–doubtful), and library duties don’t really change (except sometimes during a global pandemic–though this will eventually end. Probably).
    A job was just posted that is a grade higher than mine. I know the people in the department and I like them just fine. The duties seem like things I can handle. The department is actually upstairs in the library (though is not a library position–I’d be back to being “just” a local campus employee). But then once I take that job there is no movement in that department either so in a few more years I’d probably be back to looking for another higher grade position on campus. This is just a guess, but if I even got the position it would probably take me from a mid-$30thousandaire to a $40thousandaire, which isn’t a lot to most people, but would be to me.

    If I didn’t get the job I wouldn’t be upset to stay where I am. But the practical side of me is saying I should try to get more money. I know money is not “everything” but my pay is low enough that getting a few more thousand a year is a huge increase–potentially 10% or more (assuming they aren’t being stingy, which I admit they could be).

    I realize none of you can make this decision for me, but has anyone been in a similar position–did you regret it? I’d probably be just fine in that department so I don’t think it’d be a nightmare or anything, but I would be a little sad to see the library staff all the time and not be “one of them” anymore. It might almost be easier if the position were across campus (but I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason to not try for the position).

    1. Anono-me*

      That is a huge jump in pay. If you think that you would be happy and secure in the new position; if I were you, I would go for it.

      Soc. Sec. and most employer retirement programs are based on your earning history . The higher pay is a cumulative advantage beyond your salary.

      The thing is if you have a comfortable financial life now, you can take 1/2 of your raise and sock it away for retirement, the other half I would divide up further into three sections, emergency fund, big ticket (car, house, etc.) and fun money.

      You are talking about what sounds like a 30% raise. That to me is huge.

      Good luck

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Why don’t you apply and see what happens? You don’t need to make a decision until an actual offer is presented to you, right? And you might learn stuff about the new role/department that may sway you more to one side than the other.

      FWIW, I used to work at a college career center and loved my colleagues, the environment, etc. but eventually moved to another role across campus that was a step up for me. I missed my old team! I missed being included in their staff get-togethers, I hated knowing they had new team experiences without me, etc. What I realized, though, is that I still saw them often enough in cross-departmental events, I could still keep in touch with them on a social basis, and once I had a new team to get to know and bond with, it wasn’t so hard to leave my old team behind.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think you might be “cart-horsing” a little. I’d do my due diligence. You know- ask around about the dept, check the Uni pay rules, develop a plan to apply, and then I would apply if you’re still interested. Until you have an offer in hand, there’s really no decision to be made. No reasonable boss will be surprised you left for a 10% pay bump. I know it’s hard to leave a team you enjoy (I had to do it fairly recently), but you will meet new people and develop new relationships and you can keep in touch.

    4. Anon for This*

      A few years ago I got a promotion over a peer because I had moved around a bit and broadened my experience while she had stayed in the same job for that same period. I was rather surprised to be elevated over her – she is a great employee, worker, and manager. But my broader scope and experience made the difference. (And the extra money from each job change didn’t hurt either.) Look at it from the perspective of whether the change is an investment in yourself and see if that changes your decision.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Agreed with the comments from Anon, Anon for this, Another Librarian and not a real Giraffe. I started my career in academic program administration, and I really liked it and enjoyed working with students and faculty. Made a switch (because of no advancement opportunities) after several years to student affairs and gained a new appreciation (higher salary as well) of the structure and function of the university. Sounds like moving up (if you do) will give you the opportunity to learn new things, stay in touch (same building!) with former colleagues, make more money and potentially be more knowledgeable and experienced and therefore a good candidate for a wider range of future positions. Sounds like a good thing to me, and if you got it, you don’t even have to change institutions or move house to do it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am leaning toward no, don’t move, stay put.

      The first thing I’d look at is how much is of the 5k or more goes toward taxes. It might not be as sweet a deal as it seems.

      You mention something that is probably of high value to you, but not monetary value, and that is leaving your group and the sad pup in the window feeling of being on the outside of the group and looking in. Something like this would weigh heavy with me. I would have to have something really special to make me leave the nest. I would need something that made the job really stand out. That could be pay or career path or it could be that I wanted to put some time in working on life goals with the extra money.

      I’d recommend looking around and seeing what other options might appeal to you. It’s really easy to get locked into, “I have to decide between job A and job B.” Very seldom is this statement actually true. Perhaps you could find a part time job. Perhaps you can find a way to change your budget. (I know, that can be super hard.)

      I guess unless I could get all “on fire” about taking this new job and accomplishing X, Y and Z for my career or for my home then I don’t think I’d apply.

  31. Kalongdia*

    Do you guys have any tips for doing well in graduate school interviews? I just got an email inviting me to interview (yay!) , but I don’t really know what to expect!

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Congratulations!
      What field are you studying? Is the interview virtual or in-person?

      Just like a job interview, I’d invest some time in researching the school, department, and any professors you hope to work with. Poke around the website a bit. You may also want to look at the library resources to see what kinds of publications/databases they get in your field (I’m a librarian so this is partly a selfish idea). For many fields, you’ll be asked about your research interests, previous research experience, or any publications or presentations you’ve already done.

        1. AGD*

          Congratulations! In many psychology departments, as I understand it, the process of picking applicants is heavily decentralized: you’re in if a particular faculty member really wants to add you to their lab, basically. That doesn’t mean you need to know everything or have a set path already, of course, since graduate training is still school. But it does mean that it goes a long way if you make a straightforward, self-assured case for which labs you’d fit in well with (and/or which opportunities/resources specific to the program).

          There’s always a temptation for an applicant to say, “I want to attend your program because it’s highly rated and has amazing people,” but anyone could say that. :) They want to know about you: what makes you a good fit for them and them a good fit for you.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Yup. I assume you’ve already done this to some extent, but figure out the specifics of research areas/courses you’re interested in and the specific faculty who work there doing that. If they admit you, they want you to be successful. Make sure that there would be a mentor (preferably multiple) mentors for you to engage with. I once saw an *outstanding* candidate rejected for admission into a prestigious program. The reason was his focus was not something any of the faculty would have been able to support. They want people who will do well, get through in a timely fashion, and reflect positively on the program.

            Good Luck!

    2. Tessera Member 042*

      In addition to the research @Kimmy Schmidt mentioned, it helps to have a specific research project in mind that you would like to work on, and some sense of how this particular grad school can help you with that project (professors/centers/labs you can work with; library resources you can use; etc). This is not to say that you can’t change your research interests once you’re enrolled or that you have to know the topic of your thesis/dissertation now, but since most grad programs are downsizing due to COVID/financial restrictions, they want to see that you can be successful in their program.

    3. Just a PM*

      Congratulations!

      Think about why you applied to the program. Why did you choose them? What’s your interest? What’s your plan with the degree? What kind of exposure have you had to the program/requirements/school before?

      Also look at the school’s social media too, in addition to their website like Kimmy recommended. I looked up the professors on LinkedIn so I could have a better idea of their expertise and publications, especially if it aligned to my areas of interest or future plans. (Though this might be a crapshoot…most of the professors I know don’t keep LinkedIn updated very well.)

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Specificity over general. Why this program? Why this school? Know about the program, the people teaching and what they do and be able to explain why those things align with what you want to do. Also, be yourself and try not to be too nervous. You’ll be okay.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      One thing you want to indicate is a deep interest in the program. Why psychology, why research, why grad school, why this department? Show that you’ve thought about it, have practical career ambitions that make grad school a necessary step and have a decent idea about what graduate studies and future career paths actually look like.

      ie, you want to distinguish yourself from applicants who have finished undergrad, realized the job market is crap, and figure “eh, why not grad school?”, applicants who are enthusiastic, but in a very shallow way that’s likely to burn off soon, and applicants who have no idea what they’re getting into.

    6. Stephanie*

      Congrats! Be prepared to answer why this program and this professor’s lab. And more broadly, as another commenter mentioned, why grad school and why now (beyond the economy sucks and you like school). Looking around the school’s and department’s website should be a good start. I’d be prepared to talk about what subfields you’re interested in. If you’re interviewing with a particular PI, I would go to Google Scholar (or similar) and get an idea of what they’ve published.

      Also, come prepared with your own questions about what students do after the program, the professor’s advising style, etc.

  32. DAMitsDevon*

    I’m wondering if anyone has advice for what to do if your supervisor is making you feel guilty or at the very least seems a bit unhappy that you’re planning on taking the day off for an agency holiday, particular if you work for an organization that has flexible holiday PTO. In previous years, our organization observed 12 holidays, so the office was closed and everyone had the day off. However, in efforts to be more culturally/religiously inclusive, we switched over to having “flexible holiday hours” this year, which means that while we are still technically closed for business on those 12 holidays that we observed in previous years, employees can choose to work on a certain holiday and then use that PTO for a holiday they celebrate in their culture (so a Jewish employee could choose to work on Christmas and then use those holiday hours to take off from work on Yom Kippur, for instance without having to use their vacation or personal hours). Also, now, if you want to take off for a holiday, you have to put in the PTO request (our system used to automatically put holidays on our calendars).

    While I’m happy about the inclusivity, my department has a tendency to encourage overworking and when I first heard about the flexible holiday hours, I feared this would lead to people being pressured to work on minor holidays that we traditionally did not work on, like MLK Day. To get ahead of that, when discussing the new holiday hours with my supervisor last month, I let him know that to keep things simple for myself, I would just be taking holiday PTO on the same days that the offices are closed and that everybody used to have off for. However, because things are a bit busy this week with a bunch of applications we are processing, my boss and another coworker are working on Monday and he seems to have forgotten that I had already sent in my PTO request for MLK Day. When I reminded him, he seemed stressed that I won’t be working on Monday. I’m worried that now I don’t seem like a team player, but I also told him I would be out of the office well in advance, and I thought that the point of flexible holiday hours was to use them to observe the holidays in the manner that you want to? Is this something I should bring up in our next one on one meeting?

    1. Jay*

      If he says something to you directly, then you might bring it up in your 1:1 as a question about planning for the future: “You were concerned that took PTO for MLK day. I thought I’d arranged that far enough in advance. Would you like me to do something differently next time?”

      If he seems upset or is otherwise giving you indirect messages, I’d try to ignore them. You’ve done nothing wrong, you’re totally entitled to that day off, you requested it appropriately.

      Is in the habit of expecting you to guess what he wants without direct communication?

    2. Satisfactory Worker*

      My boss always forgets when I request time off, which I always do via email so there is a record, and gets salty about it every time. I’ve pretty much learned to ignore it. If your boss doesn’t want you to take time off, they should deny your request.

      1. Neosmom*

        Once I receive paid leave approval, I place it on my calendar AND on my supervisors’ calendars. If I had a boss like yours, I would also include in that calendar appointment their email transmission approving the time off.

    3. PollyQ*

      If he hasn’t actually asked you to work on Monday or said anything generally about your PTO use, then I’d just ignore it. Just because he seems stressed doesn’t mean he’s thinking anything negative about you. He may just be stressed about the work.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      As someone who occasionally forgets when her staff have requested PTO (especially if it’s months out), I wouldn’t take it personally. It’s probably just that they forgot. I’d follow up if it comes up again, but this doesn’t sound like an issue unless you think they’ll be punitive about it. Maybe a shared calendar would help clear up any confusion in the future if this is a new policy.

  33. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

    TLDR: helping an isolated new employee

    I have a new employee who is (like we all are!) isolated due to COVID-19. They moved to the area from a different state. They have mentioned that they are alone and don’t have friends up here because the traditional avenues are closed. I *don’t* think bosses should play social directors. I’ve already helped them form professional connections both in the office and in the area, and found a few virtual, work-sponsored affinity groups that they might like. Is there anything else I should be doing to make them feel at home? I don’t want to cross any boundaries, but I do want them to feel good about their environment.

    1. Firecat*

      I think you should be looking for ways to increase socialization amongst the team. Schedule a paid social hour every once in an while, etc. That helps this employee without you oddly getting into their personal life.

    2. OtterB*

      Are there any resources they might not be aware of, say a county recreation department or a local arts center, or something? It’s not your job to line up activities for them, but introducing them to possibilities seems like an introduction to the area, a substitute for the water cooler discussions about what people did over the weekend or what cool activity is coming up.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I try to let newer employees know some go-to people they can ask. I’m happy to be available but no one wants to ask their boss every single time. So I will say “Fergus is great at connecting you with others in the company because he has worked in a few different departments, and Jane is always good for a chat if you need to blow off steam.” You can also suggest to some of the other people on your team that THEY reach out to the new employees, especially after the first month or two when it’s easy to assume the new employee has a lot of their initial stuff figured out. If they are chatting more often with their colleagues it helps them to feel part of the team and also lets them have some more casual interactions.

      I try to remember that relationships are best when they are a bit organic and no matter how much help I can give, it’s the multiple points of contact that will help most. So definitely encourage more social team members to check in. Or a weekly “meeting” where there’s 20 minutes to discuss what people have been watching, listening to, etc.? You could delegate that too if you didn’t want to join yourself.

    4. Stephanie*

      A work friend introduced me to a coworker of his who was in a similar boat (he asked first before he did the intro) and lived nearby. May be a little different as they were peers and he wasn’t her boss. We also were able to meet up to walk when the weather was a bit more pleasant.

      I think what you’re doing is fine. It’s tough right now, unfortunately. Everyone’s Zoomed out, but you could schedule some happy hour or get together (might help to have an activity, so it’s not just everyone staring at each other on the screen). Might help your employee establish more rapport with the team (and I’d be a little more comfortable asking my peer rather than my boss for ideas).

  34. lapgiraffe*

    Has anyone here used Lunchclub? Any thoughts on it? A professional acquaintance gave me a login a few months back and I did it once, but the actual meeting was a lot for me and I haven’t had the nerve to do it again. I’m not usually afraid to talk to new people, quite the contrary in fact and I miss meeting strangers at bars and coffee shops and receptions, and coming away having learned something interesting about someone or even make a new connection in the process.

    But my one call was with someone who was in a very different place career-wise, and I think also looking for very different things than me (genuine curiosity for me v new startups to invest in/someone who could help him in some way for him) and he was so passive and awkward that my cruise director side went into full effect trying to steer the conversation and keep it going, it was exhausting! He gave me one useful bit of information but not so useful that I’d say the call was a success. I haven’t done another one because it just seems like the world’s worst blind date after that initial experience.

    1. AwkwardTurtle*

      I’ve used it a few times and it’s hit or miss. I luckily matched with a very helpful person my second time who was also very friendly and drove most of the conversation. The third time the other person didn’t even show up :/
      I may try again once my schedule frees up but at this point it’s a pretty low investment commitment for me.

    2. SnapCrackleStop*

      I’ve never heard of it before, but am now very intrigued. I’m terrible at texting, so some of the other networking apps haven’t gone well for me, but video chat would be lower stress for me. I’m keeping an eye out on this thread for those who have tried it.

    1. Joan Rivers*

      Congratulations. It’s interesting to speculate if toxic boss will find the next job less conducive to them being toxic. What happens when a toxic boss meets a MORE TOXIC BOSS?

  35. Anonymous for this one*

    Has anyone else seen that Progressive Insurance commercial where the life coach is helping people to not turn into their parents when they buy a house by teaching them, among other things, how to correctly pronounce quinoa. One woman pronounces it “Wakeen,” and I think of this group every time I hear it.

    1. Chicken Gumbo Soup*

      Love those commercials. “The waiter doesn’t need to know your name.” “Your couch has too many throw pillows.”

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        My husband looks at me deadpan during that one and says “see?”.

        We both wind up cackling every single time!

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        Yeah, my husband didn’t understand why I cracked up at “Wakeen.” It was hard to explain it to him.

    2. Choggy*

      My husband has adopted the term “we all see it, we all see it” from this commercial when I have done something he wants me to address (all in good fun, I do the same back!). :)

    3. Bea*

      I laughed so hard when I heard that! Made me wonder if the writer reads this blog.

      I like the blue hair one too.

  36. Tacocat*

    I started a new job this week. Training and onboarding has been a complete cluster. It’s a huge raise and promotion from my old job but I have enormous buyers remorse right now. I miss the familiarity at my old job where I was always the go to. Even more I miss my old coworkers terribly and feel really sad. I’ll be permanently remote in this role and while I like remote work, I feel a sense of loss at not going back to an office post Covid.

    I know this is normal. It just feels so supremely
    sad right now. Does anyone have any works of wisdom? How long did it take you to adapt to a new role? I was at former job for six years, and it was at that time a new industry to me so I’m familiar with not knowing which way is up, but this feels worse somehow because I know enough to feel overwhelmed!

    1. Enigma Alpaca*

      I have been through this a couple of times: once was leaving a small, close-knit office for a big organization and then about 2 years ago I left a midlevel position at a big organization where I was well-liked to be a Senior person at a tiny company. It’s ok to be sad–change is hard, especially during a pandemic. I usually find it takes about 6 months to adjust to a new role/org. You can still be friends with your old coworkers, though you may want to take a bit of a break from contacting them while the transition is still so new.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve been struggling with this. I was less then a year into my new job when the pandemic struck. I still feel lost a lot, but I try to remind myself that it took 3 years to feel comfortable in my old job and so it will likely take the same time here. It’s hard though! I feel you.

  37. Anonollama*

    Reposting since I posted too late last weekend.

    Tl;dr- How do I best update my resume to reflect my current job if I am on a medical leave?

    So I wrote in a while back about requesting accommodation to work from home from my workplace who was being COVID-unsafe. I was struggling with mental health repercussions of trying to work in this hazardous and gaslighting environment. Earlier in the year we had been sent an all office email that said any requests to work from home would be evaluated on an individual basis, but they implied they would try to be flexible (things like needing to wfh because of no childcare were mentioned). However when I submitted a doctor’s note, the response from top management was to immediately respond by claiming my position cannot currently be completed remotely because we are an essential service (logic fail). This is the exact same position that I did remotely- and successfully- for 3 months earlier this year. Since I do about 90% of my work electronically, either via database or email, where I sit to do the work makes negligible difference in output. We are networked and have remote connectivity so I can print something on the office printers from my home work station. So basically they just don’t care enough to do the minimal arrangements necessary to make it work. I might be able to request the decision be appealed but I don’t have much confidence in my employer suddenly having a crisis of conscience. So now I’m looking at a future of being on unpaid leave, getting some government support, and, once I’m a bit recovered, starting the job search process.

    Okay, long update, but I do have an actual question: When I update my resume how would I write this current job’s duration? If I end up being on leave for a few months, do I still show it as currently employed (since technically I haven’t left the job yet)? Do I indicate the leave somehow? Thanks.

    1. Reba*

      I think if you are on leave, you are still employed. Once your leave ends and your employment ends, put the end date. Changing jobs during the pandemic is not really going to require much explanation!

      I don’t think you need to indicate leave on your resume but it might make sense to share at some point in the interview process, in case they go to verify employment dates with your current company, you want to make sure that the information is aligned.

      Good luck!

  38. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    Personally, I have always responded with aggressive cheerfulness, because it tends to drive these people nuts when their dig goes completely unacknowledged. They are looking for a reaction that indicates they’ve hurt or wounded you, which I joyfully refuse to give them.

    “Oh, you’ve made it 6 months in the position.”
    “Sure have! I’ve learned so much in such a short time, and have gotten wonderful feedback so far from [boss]. It’s a great feeling to know I’m doing so well this early on.”

    “I thought that you had left because you found a really cool job somewhere else.”
    “What could be cooler than this? I’m so happy in this position and glad that [boss] agrees it was a great fit!”

    I have successfully driven some Negative Nancys absolutely bonkers with this approach.

  39. Lunch Philosopher*

    Context: I work/live in DC, for a nonprofit that is progressive politics-adjacent, we have multiple offices across the country but are predominantly located in DC.

    Have y’all heard anything from your organizations about … well, everything that has happened over the last few weeks and how it has affected morale?

    My organization has said nothing, has expected work as usual, and it’s really adding to my anxiety about my already excessive workload.

    1. Jay*

      I work for a national organization and we provide services in the home, so we’re always on the road. The state capital is in our territory. National leadership sent out an Email yesterday urging everyone to do telephonic visits on Inauguration Day and in our team meeting this morning our boss made that a requirement. He didn’t say anything about his own opinions – quoted the FBI risk assessment.

      We are in the midst of a long-planned series of DEI trainings, some of which focus on trauma-informed practice, so we’ve had space to discuss our personal responses if we want to.

      I can’t imagine being in DC and not even acknowledging what was going on, especially in an org that is identifiably progressive. My sympathy and gentle hugs if you want them.

      1. Lunch Philosopher*

        Thanks–I realized that many of our partners issued statements to their employees and also, at minimum, didn’t expect business as usual, or at maximum, shut down operations.

        I could write a dissertation on the toxicity of my workplace. I’ve been having daily crying sessions for about a week now.

        1. Agatha Harkness*

          I also work for a self-proclaimed “progressive” nonprofit. Said nothing day of, except to confirm our DC colleagues were all safe and accounted for. Didn’t condemn the actions until two days later and called it “an appalling assault,” but said nothing in regards to racism displayed (while ironically last summer taking a stance on racism and doing several D&I talks since). Also should note that while all of this was happening on the 6th, I was getting emails and calls like it was a normal day.

          I had to take that Thursday (1/7) off because it became very clear to me that they would never take a stance (even internally) because none of this affects them, and they will never understand. Anything they would say or do would be performative.

          I’m sorry your workplace isn’t being supportive. I hope you’re taking care of yourself!