open thread – January 22-23, 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.

{ 1,113 comments… read them below }

  1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I use a rollator (a walker with wheels and a seat) while I’m at work, a cane at other times. Our office closed in March 2020 and will remain closed until April of this year at least. I left my walker by the back door, where it has always lived when I’m not at work, on my last day there.
    I’ve recently had need for the walker, and went, with permission, to the office to pick it up. It wasn’t in its place. I called security…no clue. I called facilities…no clue. No one can find it. I spent quite a bit of money on it, and it would be a hardship to buy another one. Not that I should HAVE to buy another one. What do you suggest? Do I ask work to replace it? I’m stymied. Who would steal a walker???

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Is there a way to send a message to everyone asking about it? I wonder if it was innocently moved (such as during a deep clean) & someone forgot to put it back.

      Otherwise, who takes a walker?! That’s pretty clearly something you need & didn’t just get on a whim.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I agree with messaging everyone! Sometimes buildings have devices like this around in case anyone is to injure themselves at work – like, we have a wheelchair that is generally kept in storage in case of emergency – maybe someone who isn’t a regular part of your office just didn’t realize it was yours and stored it somewhere. Or yeah, deep cleaning. I wouldn’t assume ill intent without sending out a message to check with everyone. I hope it turns up quickly!

      2. bluephone*

        That’s where I’d start. With all the craziness of companies suddenly switching to WFH back in March, it’s very likely that someone moved it and then forgot all about it. I’d bet my hat that it’s sitting in a closet or empty cubicle somewhere. Good luck!

    2. CTT*

      I’m not sure how big your office is, but would you feel comfortable sending an email asking if anyone has seen it? I could see a well-meaning person wanting to put it somewhere else for safekeeping and not consider that you might come back and not find it. (Something similar happened in my office while someone was out on a long medical leave, so that was my first thought. I hope no one stole it!)

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I suspect someone moved it rather than stole it because who would steal a walker? Have you tried an all office, all facility email?

      You can ask them to replace it. It would be good of them to replace it. I don’t think you can expect or demand that they replace it.

      1. irene adler*

        I’ll tell you who would steal a walker.
        A co-worker.
        One that needed one for a family member or friend.
        And it’s a co-worker that folks are not aware have a family member or friend that might need walking assistance.

        I’m in a small company (less than 20 people). And we’ve all been here 15+ years. So you think you’d know co-worker’s true character. We all thought we could trust each other. NOPE! When this pandemic began, someone stole all our N95 masks from inventory. They put cardboard into the mask boxes to simulate the weight/feel of the masks. Only, when we needed those masks, we discovered the hard way that they were gone.

        1. June First*

          My jaw just dropped. That’s not just someone assuming the masks were available to take home. Just…wow.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I would try the all-office email first. Maybe it was stolen, but maybe somebody saw an item left near a door for weeks and put it in storage somewhere. I think it’s possible that it was either in the way of somebody who needed to move something through the door or was a concern in terms of fire codes/not blocking routes of egress.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I would recommend following up with whomever is the office admin/coordinator or whatever for the group that works in that area. If after continuing to ask around the walker is not found I think it is reasonable to raise this with your manager and ask them about options to get it replaced. Generally, companies would tell you they are not responsible for personal property left onsite. HOWEVER, this is medical equipment that you need to get around to do your job. That means that having it replaced could be considered a medical accommodation. If this was in my organization, I would authorize replacement for the walker.

    6. DivineMissL*

      I agree with the others – send out an email. I had an item stored in a closet at my office that disappeared; I sent out several emails over the course of 3 months, asking if anyone had seen it. Then one of the volunteers (not on the company email) mentioned that she had taken it in her car after a community event and it had been there ever since. Sometimes there is an innocent explanation.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Just send an email to everyone in your building and ask if it was moved. I mean, it’s possible it was stolen, but that’s not the most likely explanation. It probably got moved. I stop into my office once a month or so to grab my mail and there’s always something that’s been moved, usually chairs since there’s a few people still working from the office.

    8. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

      You can always ask if they would cover it, they are usually under or up to about $500 so it would be them covering the cost as most work insurance deductibles start at $500 to $1000. Though unless your company is very generous I would expect them to decline the request but I would still ask its the start of a new year and money can be moved around this early . I would also walk the floors desk to desk first or have bring a family member in to walk desk to desk, most likely someone was playing on it and left it by a desk out of the way.

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

      Who has had access to the building while it’s been closed? Since there wasn’t a report of a break in…I suspect it was taken intentionally, but maybe with the excuse that they were “borrowing” it for themself or a family member and would return it before anyone noticed… I would ask that your employer replace it. When we had a rash of petty thefts from our offices and break room and the university covered the loss because it was a person on their payroll. If it was a break in from an outside person, they might not have covered it.

    10. Crowley*

      In my old job I used to do the admin for an ex gratia fund, whereby anyone who had stuff lost or damaged at work could claim the money back. I’d email round first as suggested above, but if not, I’d ask if work can give you the money to replace it.

    11. gsa*

      Contact your Manager for direction. I would do that before an ALCON email.

      Good luck, I hope you find your rollator.

      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        If you need something cheap in a pinch to get you thru while you are waiting to see if the missing rollator can be found, you might try contacting the local thrift shops and seeing if they have walkers in stock. I see them all the time at the thrifts for $10-$20. Not as nice as a rollator but might get you thru until yours can be relocated or replaced. One of my friends walks with a cane. When she’s ill she tends to have dizzy spells which has led to a few falls. I suggested she get a cheap thrift walker to have handy when she’s already feeling under the weather. Most of the time she’s ok with just the cane but when you need more its nice to have that option in the back closet.

    12. RagingADHD*

      In some buildings I’ve worked in, building management oversees the cleaning staff, security and facilities (ie repair and maintenance). The cleaners only come in at night, so there’s no direct client contact number, but there are direct contact numbers for the security and facilities teams. If that’s the case with your site, I’d try calling building management directly.

      I can totally see a situation where the cleaners put something away in a storage area, the facilities contact person never heard about it, and therefore had no answer for you.

      I’d tell building management the value of the item and let them know (politely) that if it isn’t on-site somewhere, you will need to get reimbursed for theft under their insurance policy. Let them do the work of chasing it down. They will be motivated to search thoroughly before going through the hassle of filing a claim.

    13. WellRed*

      I suspect it’s been moved to a closet or something. If it doesn’t turn up, Can you get one from a loan closet, goodwill or posting on a community forum?

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Rollators can get a little spendy. Maybe some kind hearted soul put it some place safe so it would not get bumped/damaged.

      1. Sylvan*

        I feel like a kind-hearted soul would put a walker where the walker-owner expects to find it, or leave a note in the walker’s place about where the walker has been moved. Not make them walk (!) all over the building to search for it.

          1. Bluephone*

            And it’s very possible they didn’t know who actually owned the rollator or where that person normally sat!

    15. Sylvan*

      That’s such bullshit. I’m sorry. I think you should start by calling or emailing people who work closest to the last place you saw your walker. Just ask if they saw anyone move it or heard about that area being cleaned. Maybe they can tell you that so-and-so cleaned out the area on such-and-such date. If that doesn’t work, I don’t think an all-facility email would be a bad idea.

    16. A Poster Has No Name*

      If your company is large (or even in small companies, never know), there is likely a process for contacting facilities or the landlords to get reimbursed for stuff that gets broken or stolen when there’s nobody in the office.

      We had one fairly memorable incident of someone on the cleaning crew swiping small stuff off of people’s desks, and I once had a pair of headphones broken (I think caught in a vacuum) and that was all reimbursed.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        The poor cleaning crew always gets blamed for everything. They are not always the culprit. We don’t know the people in our office as well as we think we do. I have had amazing cleaning people in my office, since it was government they didn’t clean after hours so maybe that makes a difference. But unless there was security footage or other evidence, it isn’t fair to castigate cleaning people in this way.

    17. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Did you mark your name and contact info somewhere on your item? Not everyone may have known the rollator belonged to you. I agree with those who say send out a mass email and maybe a picture if you have it. An assumption may have been made that the item was abandoned. Good luck, but if you don’t get a response, unfortunately you may need to procure a new one. Medicare helps pay for these if you are of eligible.

    18. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Oh, when my mom died, I donated a walker and wheelchair to a nearby village health department. They sanitized them and loaned them to residents. It may be worth checking to see if your local health department does this if finances are a concern.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’m sorry this has happened to you, OP, and I recommend sending an email to your coworkers as the others have suggested with the added recommendation that you ask people to forward it to anyone else who works in the building, because in my large office I certainly don’t know everyone and wouldn’t know who all to email.

        In my community the local Senior Citizen Center operates a lending closet where they loan out wheel chairs, walkers and crutches to residents, such as Tired has mentioned. They have a group of people who repair and maintain them. You might see if there is such an organization in your community, until you either find your walker or purchase a new one.

  2. overly invested friend?*

    Is there a productive way to point out the red flags in a close friend’s new job? My longtime best friend recently started his first office/”professional” job after previously doing shift work. The company he’s working for is an established subsidiary of a well-known corporation so I’m not worried it’s a start-up that’s suddenly going to collapse under him or anything like that. But pretty much everything he tells me about his new job makes me raise my eyebrows.

    This includes: using work he produced from the hiring process as a part of a project on their website, having him work for a month as a “try-out” before officially hiring him, promoting him to a “director” level position within two weeks of him starting, not having an HR department, not having any kind of onboarding process. Am I correct in assessing these as red flags? I’m not super far into my career but I’ve had more time at an office job than he has. For most people I would stay out of it but since it’s my absolute closest friend I can’t help but be worried on his behalf.

      1. overly invested friend?*

        When they published his work online from the hiring process without paying him, I pointed out that it was illegal and showed a lack of ethics from the company. He agreed with that, but it was a really long and miserable hiring process and he said he wanted to see if the company tried to screw him over one more time before he looked for other opportunities. Everything that’s popped up since then has been either neutral for him or exciting (getting a promotion).

        1. Workerbee*

          Job hunting can be so demoralizing. I hope he can still realize that being screwed over once is 100% one time too many, and that there is nothing accidental about this company being all kinds of shady, manipulative, and counting on poor sods like him to overlook or justify away unethical and illegal practices.

          1. Malika*

            I agree, this sounds like the frogs in slowly boiling water. You accept the first instance of shadyness and that starts the slow process of normalizing further shadyness.

        2. Aquawoman*

          Does the promotion come with money? Or just a title that makes him exempt instead of nonexempt and thus not eligible for OT pay?

            1. LunaLena*

              This reminds me of the Futurama episode that ended with a discussion of job titles –
              Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth : I hereby promote you to executive delivery boy.
              Philip J. Fry : Executive?
              Hermes Conrad : [whispers to Leela] It’s a meaningless title, but it helps insecure people feel better about themselves.
              Philip J. Fry : [Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s executive producer credits fade in] I feel better about myself!

          1. Natalie*

            It seems fairly straightforward? They’re not paying him, and it doesn’t sound like he signed over his rights to the work, so it isn’t theirs.

            Whether he has any recourse is a completely different question, of course.

        3. Cassidy*

          “When they published his work online from the hiring process without paying him, I pointed out that it was illegal…”

          Not sure about that. I’m not a lwayer, but, from what I do know, it seems that if he agreed to creating a project as part of the interview process, and used the company’s resources to create the project, technically, the company owns the project, and are thus within legal rights to use it however way they see fit without paying him.

          If they ddidn’t let him know ahead of time that they would do that, it comes off as slimy and underhanded, but not illegal that I know of.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Work done for an assessment as part of hiring is not supposed to be real usable work. Just a skills assessment. If it’s real work, real enough they could and would put it on their website, it’s not a skills assessment, it’s work. It’s illegal not to pay people for time they spend working for you.

            1. Cassidy*

              “Work done for an assessment as part of hiring is not supposed to be real usable work.”

              If you take a photo using my camera, I am free to use it however way I wish, because I own the photo viz. it originating from a resource I own. Doesn’t matter who takes the photo from my camera; I own the photo, regardless.

              As such, I think regarding an assessment as a project is misguided, in that it’d be nearly impossible to prove such intent in a court. So yeah, it’s a sleazy thing to do, but illegal? Which law(s), specifically, would an attorney point to as support for that premise?

              1. a lawyer*

                If I take a photo using your camera, I would own the photo, not you. Under U.S. copyright law, the person who takes the picture owns the copyright, not the person who owns the camera.

                The same would be true for a job applicant who produces work in the context of an interview. Even if the applicant uses the company’s resources, the applicant would own the copyright in the final product.

                After the applicant is hired, the situation changes, since an employee’s work belongs to the company under the “work for hire” doctrine.

                1. Cassidy*

                  Yes, a lwayer, I stand corrected on the camera example.

                  Curious: what is the difference between that example and the fact that universities own syllabi created by faculty?

                  Also, what is the law governing ownership of work created by an applicant during an interview? Is it also copyright law, and, if so, which part, exactly? I tried finding the information and haven’t had any luck.

                  Thank you in advance!

    1. Web Crawler*

      I’d have one serious conversation where you lay out the red flags and explain why they’re red flags- aka, working without pay is illegal, promoting him to director status when he doesn’t have the experience is setting him up to fail, etc. Grab some links from here and have them ready if he wants to read more.

      And then, say that you had to be honest with him because you care about him, but you support him 100% no matter what happens. Also, you trust him to do what’s best. And that if he wants, you’ll drop the subject completely. Then hold to that.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I think you should share your concerns and warn him to be wary, but there’s not much else to do. He’s taken this job. You should continue pointing out unusual, toxic, red flag practices he encounters, but until it’s bothering/impacting him he may want to remain at the job especially at such a high level title (even if it’s unearned).

      I think there’s value in warning him, but he is probably not going to quit based on this.

      1. pancakes*

        He may be able to get retroactively paid for the month (!) he may have worked for them for free. It’s not clear from the comment whether he was paid for that time, but the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires workers to be paid the minimum wage, and on time. The commenters who are suggesting there’s nothing that can be done about that now because he already put in the hours are clearly not familiar with their rights as workers or the process for enforcing them. The statute of limitations on FLSA violations is two years, or three in the case of willful violations. It’s well worth having a look at the federal Department of Labor website rather than guessing!

        1. overly invested friend?*

          He did work for them for free for a month, you’re correct. This is valuable information so thank you! I’ll tuck this into my back pocket.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            He worked for free for a month?!? That’s well past red flag and into toxic sewage dump levels of dysfunction. That’s also extremely illegal – not slightly over the lines in interviewing practices, shaky understanding of employment law because they don’t have HR, but really bad. An employer who will do that will use him, abuse him, gaslight him, fire him if he stands up for himself, and then contest unemployment and try to sabotage his future job prospects. He needs to get out as fast as possible, and make a complaint with the local labour authorities for lost wages.

        2. Natalie*

          There may also be additional state or local enforcement options – my city, for example, has a wage theft ordinance that includes a city enforcement process.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, good point.

            I did a quick search of AAM and it might be useful to read a Nov. 5, 2012 post titled, “my employer is docking everyone one day of pay.” It isn’t quite the same situation the friend is in, but gives some background info on the FSLA.

            Your friend may or may not have some recourse as to his work the company posted on its site, too, but I don’t want to generalize because there’s so much that can vary in terms of industry standards, the language the company used in asking him to submit the work, etc.

    3. Weekend Please*

      It depends. Was he paid for the “try-out” period? If so, that sounds more like probation which is pretty common. How work did he actually produce during the application? Unless it was unusually long and intense, he is likely expanding on something small he did during the interview process which isn’t really a red flag. If he is doing something like publishing articles written by all the applicants then that would be shady. The director title means different things at different companies so again, I wouldn’t take the title as a red flag.

      Given all that, instead of “pointing out the red flags” maybe you can ask him questions about the things that concern you and point out the differences from your experiences. That way you can either put your mind at ease or ensure he knows what things are unusual without sounding patronizing or alarmist.

      1. Weekend Please*

        I just saw your response above. The interview process and that they published his work without paying him does sound like a red flag. However, since he already knows that it was illegal and is on the look out for them doing other things to screw him over, I’m not sure what else you can do. He seems like he is making an informed choice to stay. Maybe you can suggest a low key job search so that he has a fallback for when they do more shady stuff.

      2. Malarkey01*

        I agree to ask more questions before assuming these are red flags. I work with a lot of our new hires, and I hear the probation period mislabeled as tryouts or not fully hired, etc. all the time and need to correct people that they’re still hired, just under different company review rules.

        On boarding is a patch work across companies in the best of times, during CoVid even good places are struggling with this. The HR thing could depend on the size or again a misunderstanding where they use the main company for HR and don’t have onsite HR which was explained weirdly (again maybe due to on boarding gaps).

        This could all add up to a big red flag, but I’d ask some questions first and then suggest he keep alert for other weird things. I definitely wouldn’t leave a job he’s otherwise excited about right now.

    4. cat lady*

      Now that he has the director title, I’d argue that he should stick it out if possible; it will be hard for him to apply to future director roles without the experience to back it up, and applying for sub-director roles will make employers wonder why he’s moving down the totem pole.

      1. overly invested friend?*

        It’s definitely the job title that concerns me the most. We graduated college 2 years ago so I feel like it’s a weird title jump. But I also work in a very old-fashioned workplace so I’m not sure how to gauge it.

        1. Reba*

          I would look askance at that title as well, but I also know that some industries are kind of profligate with titles (thinking of the ubiquitous Vice Presidents in banking).

        2. Tech and Roses*

          The title is definitely the biggest red flag for me too. I had a friend who was promoted to a “director” title very quickly, early in his career, and without any of the typical experience needed (he was good at what he did, but completely unready to be a director). His responsibilities took a MAJOR leap that basically set him up to fail, like completely revamping the onboarding process when he had never onboarded anyone before. It ended up being a huge mess – first they modified the duties of the role to try to fit him, leading to a ton of confusion for him and his reports, and then they reversed course and said he needed to rise to the original expectations or think about leaving, but offered no support or suggestions on trainings/education even when he asked outright. With all the confusion, parts of a very important project got missed, and no one was sure who was actually responsible for it. He ended up resigning out of sheer frustration with the management’s constantly changing expectations. I think he leaves that job off his resume, since he was only there about two months.

        3. JR*

          I don’t think titles matter on their own so much as in the context of the org chart. I worked at a company where director was one rung up from entry level, so most people in that role had maybe 2-3 years experience.

      2. 'Tis Me*

        “It was a small subsidiary of larger company, where the title didn’t include any direct reports, for instance, and I’m aware that in a larger organisation, a subdirector role will actually most likely be a step up in terms of responsibilities.”

        Also, my official job when I was on my university placement year was “Technical Support Executive” – some places just go in for fancy-sounding titles.

        1. cat lady*

          Yes, language like this in the cover letter, definitely, and also something accurately describing the level of responsibility on the resume (even though accomplishments over description is usually preferred)

      3. Natalie*

        I don’t think it really matters if he stays – it doesn’t sound like he’ll actually get director level work experience, so staying just means explaining why he has several years of the title but no experience, instead of a couple of months.

    5. BRR*

      Since he’s your absolute closest friend, I think you can probably be blunt about it. “Hey BTW these things are not normal and I wanted to point them out.” Maybe send him Alison’s article on “how bad jobs warp your sense of what’s normal.” I would probably frame it as pointing it out so he can protect himself from thinking this is how things are usually done and this is how he should do things.

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      Yes, they are red flags. But that does not necessarily mean your friend should leave the company. If the company is part of a larger corporation I would suspect that this division/company is more of a small start-up or a small business that was fairly recently acquired. Mostly likely the parent company has rules about this stuff but they don’t have full integration with this business unit. That might change over time and the parent could get more involved or they might just keep it separate. Either way, the parent company should have some sort of anonymous compliance issue reporting mechanism (hotline, website, etc.) that your friend could use if he continues to see compliance related issues.

      As a side note, the Director level title isn’t really an issue. Different companies use different titling conventions. Heck, in banking anyone in the equivalent of a manager level job is called a VP.

    7. Aquawoman*

      Alison would be better at the technical stuff here than I am but these all sound potentially like ways to try and skirt labor laws. E.g., for the first try-out month, is he a contractor? And if so, does he realize that there are potentially tax implications for him of that? Also, it seems like a lot of times, people who come into that situation find that they’re not officially hired for a long time. And I mentioned above that the title might be a way of trying to make him exempt when he should be nonexempt. Every single one of these seems like a way to try to either stiff him $$ or avoid costs of employment for themselves.

    8. CatWoman*

      “The company he’s working for is an established subsidiary of a well-known corporation ”

      If this is the case, how do they not have an HR department?

  3. esemess*

    I’m working on a project to empower first-time managers on how to grow in their leadership ability/skills and foster an equitable, transparent team.

    I’d love to hear tips/best practices/resources that have helped you and/or your organization with these themes. Thanks!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      My office does a series of lunchtime workshops for new managers that covers effective delegation, hiring/team building, providing and receiving constructive feedback, compliance with ADA/FLSA/other employment laws, the annual evaluation process, organization culture/customer service expectations of the industry, etc. DEI themes are woven across these as well, particularly in hiring/team building, feedback, and evaluation. We also pair new managers with experienced ones (with a strong track record and willingness to give their time) in mentoring relationships. It’s been pretty well-received and tends to mix information with sharing of personal experiences, hypothetical scenarios, and role-playing of difficult situations rather than being straight lecture-style.

    2. Shark Whisperer*

      I highly recommend the book “Feedback Revolution.” I knew feedback was important as a new manager, but I didn’t realize that I didn’t really know what effective feedback looked like until I read that book.

      1. esemess*

        I put this book on hold at my library earlier this week. I’m thrilled to hear that it was useful! :)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So, from the opposite side – I just last week started in a six month training program in my org to develop future leaders and managers, and had a debrief about the first seminar with my manager this morning. Something that she and I were both surprised hadn’t come up early was the distinction between leadership and management, because the seminar used the terms almost interchangeably and didn’t really address the differences and similarities between the two. (I included that in the post-session feedback too.) It might be more important in our situation, because this program is only open to people who aren’t in formal management roles yet so we have some level of “ways you can take leadership initiative without having the management chops to bring to bear”, but I’ve had some bad managers who thought they were leaders and were really just bossing people around because they could. So I would make sure you at least include some level of discussion to that effect. :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          For me, at least, the quick and dirty distinction is

          Management: “Ok, everyone, go that way!”
          Leadership: “Ok, everyone, let’s go that way!”

          and there’s overlap for sure, and places where one is needed more than the other, but the Venn diagram is not a perfect circle :)

    4. Madeleine Matilda*

      One thing we did when we had a group of new supervisors was to pair them with an experienced supervisors to serve as a mentor and sounding board. My organization is really outstanding at training and offered a good new supervisors training as well as other supervisor training throughout one’s career.

    5. LTL*

      I don’t have any specific tips but wanted to chime in to say, definitely include something about diversity and inclusion.

  4. Should I apply*

    Has anyone tried Ramit Sethi’s “Find your dream job” program? He was on a podcast that I listen to regularly and he talked a good enough game, specifically about how to interview, that I decided to check out his website. The website is very slick, but it seems like one big ‘give me all your money’ lure.

    First there was a quiz, that based on a couple simple questions assured me that I could be making 20% more than I make today. Of course I had to give my email to get the results. Then that leads to the, ” I offer this program that will make it happen” but wait, its not available yet.. you have to sign up on a waiting list. The program is supposed to start next week, and there hasn’t actually been any mention of price yet. There have been teaser emails about what will be covered in the program. At this point I am mostly curious and what the cost will actually end up being.

    This was my favorite excerpt from the email “Instead of submitting your resume into the Black Hole of Doom, your resume will be “automatically funneled in” through your new personal contacts. In many cases, you’ll already know the hiring manager, instantly separating you from other candidates! ”

    So have you tried this program or something like it? What are your thoughts?

        1. Autumnheart*

          Imagine being a hiring manager, and suddenly finding yourself overwhelmed with a kajillion emails from candidates who think they have an “in”, because you wound up on this list somehow. No thanks.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I remember another expert whose method to getting any job was to just know every executive in the world. “Just network your way into a job!” “No one gets a job through the application process!”

    2. Rayray*

      I came across many people like this while I was job hunting. Many people offering newsletters, webinars,” master classes” etc.

      I think some of them may offer legitimate advice, but I don’t believe any of them are offering anything you won’t be able to find for free elsewhere. There’s a lot of great information available.

      I can name probably a dozen LinkedIn “influencers” who do this exact thing, saying things like “unlock your potential!” “90% of people who attend my webinar for a job offer on two weeks”. It just feels like a sales pitch to me. I don’t really trust these people.

      1. should i apply?*

        I completely agree. At this point I am mostly just reading the emails out of curiosity / entertainment value. I’m not planning on giving him any money.

    3. voluptuousfire*

      No, but it sounds like a pickup artist scheme. “Follow me and I can help you get the girl of your dreams!”

    4. Sadie*

      I did this, maybe 8 years ago! It was a bit scammy and also a bit helpful. Like AAM it helped me to think about my career and “jobs” in a different way. The idea that you shouldn’t make a resume until you’ve looked at the jobs out there, and then had some informational interviews, was a completely new concept to me then in my late 20s working in academia. I didn’t know about the “jobs” tab of linkedin until I joined the Ramit Sethi thing. I don’t think you should pay him but also you shouldn’t feel stupid if you do end up paying.

    5. Kiitemso*

      I would stay away from these kinds of programs. The success gurus you find online find success only one way: by selling their programs, seminars, e-books. They hustle, that’s about the extent of their wisdom. It is best to maintain healthy skepticism toward all of them.

    6. Maggie*

      Sounds like a gigantic waste of money and possibly an outright scam. Its going to introduce you to specific hiring managers in your area? Just sounds like a bunch of MLM mumbo jumbo or whatever

    7. a-person*

      Ramit himself says that he doesn’t teach anything you can’t find out for yourself online. His point is that he does all the work of collecting, validating, structuring, and teaching the info. I read his book “I will teach you to be Rich” and bought this course when I was young and new to the working world. It contained a lot of info I didn’t know, and my now-husband used the advice to get his first career job. I used his advice to negotiate raises for myself. It was about 2k at the time, and I think I’ve gotten more than 2k of value from it.

      How valuable it is really depends on what you already know. All my family are union workers so they have no advice to offer me about corporate white collar office jobs.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, I would agree with this. I’ve read a lot of his free stuff and he has some good advice which helped me negotiate my salary at my current job. I never signed up for his classes, but I have done an occasional online course from folks similar and sometimes they were valuable, sometimes mediocre. I’d just read his free stuff, you’ll probably get plenty from that!

      2. a-person*

        > This was my favorite excerpt from the email “Instead of submitting your resume into the Black Hole of Doom, your resume will be “automatically funneled in” through your new personal contacts. In many cases, you’ll already know the hiring manager, instantly separating you from other candidates! ”

        I want to explain this a bit. Ramit recommends networking and developing relationships with people in your industry so that when companies are hiring the people who work there already know you. In my own personal experience, companies will ask their own employees if they have anyone to recommend for a role before even posting the job.

        1. gbca*

          I have to say this aligns with my personal experience. The last time I was job hunting (about 2 years ago), I kept a spreadsheet of all the jobs I applied for (47), and noted how I applied and whether I had a referral. Overall, I got at least a phone screen from 21% of companies I applied to (10), but got a phone screen from 70% out of the 10 jobs I applied to through a referral. I went to in-person interviews at 4 companies, and all 4 were ones where I had a referral.

          And here’s the thing. Mostly these were not solid referrals. One was through my old boss so that was a good one, but one in-person interview was at a company my husband had previously applied for, and did not get the job (in a totally different function). When I saw the job posted, he emailed the recruiter with my resume. The job I ultimately got? I met a woman at a networking event (that I REALLY did not want to go to), and she said to look at her company’s website for jobs and she’d be happy to put in a referral. It happens they had one that was a perfect fit, she sent my resume to the hiring manager, and the rest is history. She is not in my function and did not know the hiring manager either. You just need ANY kind of connection to get your resume looked at.

          1. gbca*

            OK I actually didn’t read closely enough before I responded. I think making connections at a specific company who may be hiring is challenging, but the broader your network is, the more you have a chance of having a connection of a connection somewhere. It’s why I only turn down LinkedIn requests that are blatant sales pitches.

            1. a-person*

              I feel like both your responses go to the heart of what I was trying to say with my paltry two sentences. Thanks for elaborating!

    8. RagingADHD*

      I followed his stuff for a while but never bought a program. His first book/infoproduct was “I Can Teach You To Be Rich.” He’s part of an ecosystem of online entrepreneurs whose business model is building and selling courses that teach something people desperately want to know — like how to land your dream job.

      There is some useful content in the free emails and so forth, but it’s not applicable to every industry or every job. There’s a big emphasis on going outside normal channels and impressing people with your “gumption,” as Alison puts it.

      Overall, I’d say much of the advice was more applicable to freelancers and vendors trying to land contracts, rather than applicants for existing FT jobs.

      1. DG*

        His book is also super sexists and really embodies the worst parts of “bro” culture. While I’m sure he’s helped lots of people be rich, I was really turned off by him in just a couple of chapters.

    9. pbnj*

      I heard him on a podcast recently (not sure if it is the same one you listened to, I don’t recall much being discussed about interviewing), and it was pretty apparent to me that he had never worked in corporate America. I told my husband about some of the things he said and we both literally LOL’d. So even if it’s not a scam, I would tread cautiously since I don’t think he has relevant experience for folks who work traditional jobs.

      1. gbca*

        I agree. I followed him a lot in his early days for his personal finance advice (his book is solid – definitely worth the $10!) I dropped off when he ventured more into the entrepreneurial stuff, but I check out something of his every so often. He doesn’t have corporate experience (or if he does it’s very minimal), and is heavily on the entrepreneurial side. I had an employee come to me with a pitch for a raise that sounded like something Ramit would come up with, and it just felt incredibly out of touch with how things are done at a big corporation. It didn’t help that the guy was not a good performer either.

    10. Is it tea time yet?*

      Last fall, I participated in a “career design” fellowship offered from a small company via my alumni association. It wasn’t very expensive (I think $200 at full price?). I figured it was worth a try, even if it was only good for networking with other alumni (on-line) and getting feedback from folks who have different perspectives. They weren’t promising a lot of pie-in-the-sky results, just to give you the tools and skills to figure things out. A lot of the homework was stuff you could find on-line, but the main value was in talking with and bouncing ideas off the teams we were put in. We were all looking to change careers or make changes within our type of work, and it was very supportive. Another nice thing was having everything organized and having structure. I still have access to all the worksheets and information, as well as a forum to keep in touch with everyone from the program. I have a much better idea of what I want my career to look like, so it’s been helpful.

  5. Camellia*

    So last week my company told us that they are eliminating our role. We can interview for some specified other roles this week, and next week they will tell us if we were selected for one of the roles for which we interviewed.

    For a fake example, say they no longer want the role of *dentist*. We can interview for the role of *oral surgeon*, *dental hygienist*, *accountant*, or *insurance company liaison*.

    I elected to interview for *oral surgeon* because maybe I can keep doing dentist-type stuff (“Sorry, person-who-asked, I don’t know who will do fillings and crowns when you no longer have dentists in this office.) and maybe somehow learn how to do surgeon-type stuff also? And they haven’t said they are going to STOP doing fillings and crowns, they just haven’t addressed WHO will do them; I’m sure the existing oral surgeons would be THRILLED to pick up that work. I also picked *dental hygienist* because at least it’s still tooth-related and maybe it will
    be restful and not too boring. I didn’t pick the other two because…I’m a dentist?

    If I get selected for oral surgeon I will see how it goes. If I get selected for hygienist I will probably take a breath, collect myself, then start a job search. If I’m selected for neither then of course it is full speed ahead on a job search. Problem is, I’m close to retirement and really hoped this would be the last company I worked for because it really is a great company with great benefits and I’ve enjoyed my 12 years here. And in my industry, ageism can be a thing. Oh, btw, great company to WORK for (they immediately pivoted last March and all of us have been working from home since then, with no immediate plans to do otherwise) but the severance package sucks – only 4 weeks of pay, no matter how many years (30? 40? yup, a couple of us) you’ve been here. Anyway, please wish me luck.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, start job searching regardless. Can’t hurt, and you might appreciate it later.

    2. TKR*

      I would start your job search now, and not wait! That way if you do end up as a hygienist, you’ll be ahead of where you need to be.
      Good luck either way!

    3. 'Tis Me*

      Good luck! The “start searching now regardless” advice is good – worst case scenario, you have your resume updated, have had a chance to assess the market, etc.

      What happens with salaries? I’m pretty sure that following restructure some people are sometimes allowed to take an effective demotion for the same pay (so being a hygeienist instead of a dentist, but still on dentist pay)?

      1. Camellia*

        Resume is updated because we had to submit one for the interviews we just had. They said that they will try very hard not to reduce our pay but yes, if we were selected for something that is such a low pay band that our current salary is not even within the pay range, then there would have to be some adjustment. But as long as our current salary is within the pay range of the band, then no reduction.

        Since the time frame is so tight I’ve just been focused on getting resume up to date and preparing for my two interviews, the last of which just occurred. I haven’t had the brain power to ramp up an external search yet. I’ll see how next week goes.

  6. Leveling Up*

    I’m in a low-tech technical writing job, trying to jump to a high-tech technical writing job (preferably software). I completed an MS in comp-sci in 2019.

    While I did well in school, I can’t use what I learned in my current job, so it quickly faded from my brain. Seeing local job descriptions during my search has me in despair. People expect full stack dev skills for technical writers these days.

    Keeping my skills fresh means coding on my own time. I don’t understand how to work 10 hours a day, do personal tech projects to stay current, and job search on top of that. There aren’t enough hours in a day. I’m completely exhausted, but taking breaks means I stagnate, and have to run that much harder to catch up again.

    How do you “level up” your career without losing your mind?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      You don’t have to meet 100% of the “requirements” to apply for a job.

      I’d also believe that a Comp Sci degree means you did learn how to code, that you could refresh your memory for those tools you used in school, and learn new ones as needed.

    2. HeyAnonyNony*

      This isn’t a tip, but I hope it’s helpful perspective. I’m working on a CS-related degree while working full time. The only year I didn’t feel burnt out was when my partner took a year between degrees. He was doing some “leveling up” of his own during that time, but he did most of the housework and family admin.
      He’s back in a degree program full time and its just hard. We’ve spent more money on “heat and eat” type food. I’m trying to find projects related to my other interests, but it remains hard to find the energy.

    3. tejanojim*

      I would say just apply anyway. Alison talks about how inflated a lot of job descriptions have gotten. Whatever the description, they still need to choose the best candidate from a finite pool of real applicants. Just go for it, you have nothing to lose!

    4. Weekend Please*

      If you want to switch fields, how important are the personal tech projects? Can you replace that with a coding refresh? You are right that trying to do everything is unsustainable. Maybe you can take a few days off to do an intense coding refresh once you start getting interviews?

    5. Kiwiii*

      I wonder if some roles exist between the two — where you can incorporate some of your tech knowledge, but not at the “full stack dev skills” spot you’re reading about. It might also be worth another glance to confirm if those are wish list qualifications or actually required.

    6. TKR*

      My experience with technical writing has been that the way to make the move from an associate technical writer to a senior technical writer is through experience. As in, working for a few years.
      Not all technical writer jobs require dev skills, but maybe when you’re coming from a comp-sci perspective those are the ones that you’re finding. (FWIW, I have a technical writing degree, but I know several engineers-turned-writers that get a certification like the CPTC to help improve their writing skills)
      I guess overall, I’m not sure what your goal is – go from your current job where you’re not applying your skills to a different position where you would apply those skills? If that’s the case I think previous experience and willingness to ramp up the first few months would be enough. It is hard to tell what you mean when you’re talking about the ” jump to a high-tech technical writing job”
      If your goal is to gain new skills outside of your current role – then I would either ask your current company about professional development opportunities, or accept that you need to do the work outside of your 9-5.

      Really though, I think that you can adjust your standards of how proficient you need to be in order to qualify for a position. I applied for a new position that uses a software I’ve never used. So I downloaded the free trial and have been watching videos to learn the lay of the land.

    7. EMP*

      This is perspective from someone in software but who’s never worked with a technical writer, so, grain of salt but:
      – you definitely don’t need expertise or even experience in everything the job req asks for.
      – if there are certain frameworks or languages that you are most familiar with or see the most often in job reqs, brush up on those as you can but doing some sample interview/coding questions the day/week before you interview can be enough (depends on how you interview and what your field tends to ask)
      – if you have a portfolio you can point to with concrete examples that can be huge without requiring you to /constantly/ do that work. Just do it once and throw it up on a personal website. Classroom projects can be enough for this depending on what they were (e.g. a simple but complete phone app)

    8. Susan Calvin*

      I’m gonna skip straight over the point where consistently working 10 hours every day, every week is an issue, since that’s presumably part of your reason for searching… so moving on, speaking to software specifically, I’d be a bit dubious about those posting – many people really really tend to overestimate their capabilities when it comes to coding, so sometimes the requirements are inflated to compensate for that (and, of course, sometimes people who hire are just not very good at hiring).

      On the other hand, if I’m totally off base and all these jobs really need you to be a competent developer as well, my impression has been that if the personal projects register as “work” rather than “leisure” you’re already off to a bad start. Maybe you just haven’t picked the right project, maybe I’m projecting (took me a bit to admit I was never going to be a dev), so take that with a grain of salt – but my recommendation, if that is feasible at all, would be to prioritize those personal project over active job searching for a while. Build a little GitHub portfolio, join a hackathon or something similar, maybe get a feel for what is out there as possible niches and specializations, and go from there.

      Either way, good luck!

      1. EMP*

        Gotta say I have always hated the perception in tech that you should enjoy it as a hobby as well as a job. There are so few fields that expect this (imagine asking a project manager what projects they manage in their spare time? Or a marketer, or machinist). I don’t do any programming on my off time! Yes, it has hindered my job search but once I got that first job my work spoke for itself and it stopped being an issue.

        That said: if you’re trying to switch fields it can definitely help to have some of those personal projects, even if they are (or feel like) work. If you don’t, be prepared to have a great resume and be ready to convince hiring managers you will be enthusiastic about the work you /are/ paid to do.

        1. Susan Calvin*

          Honestly, that’s fair. On reflection, I also don’t really want to perpetuate the idea that you need to live and breathe software development (and preferably have no other hobbies or life outside work, looking at you, gaming industry) – but I do think that even if you don’t keep it up as a long term hobby, it’s helpful to create something like a “proof of concept” for yourself that you actually do enjoy the work, as much as you can replicate it in a private context, before committing to pursuing a particular career. The fact that for software you can get a lot closer than for many other jobs is, as they say, a feature, not a bug :)

        2. TechWorker*


          I am now moving more into software management so job descriptions look less ridiculous but when I was job hunting a few years ago everyone seemed to want to hire people who’ve been programming in their bedroom every day since they were 12. I like my job – I do not want to do the same thing as a hobby!

        3. Schmitt*

          Hard agree. I have had projects outside of work, it’s good to have those as talking points, but also times where I have not. At the moment in my field it’s common to ask for a project example to spec as part of the process anyway.

      2. Unfettered scientist*

        You mention people often overestimate their coding ability. I worry about this myself especially since a lot of my skills are really scientific domain specific. How would you recommend someone objectively assess their skills?

        1. Susan Calvin*

          Speaking as someone who had some unpleasant realizations during the practical portion of an interview process (or two), I can’t say I have The Answer to that… but if you can find samples for the kind of exercise you’re likely to encounter in the kind of job you’re aiming at (ideally with some frame of reference for time investment) you can probably get some idea. Also, contributing on StackOverflow can be both really good (helping people who know even less than you is always nice) and really bad (there’s always someone who has forgotten more about a topic than you’ve ever learned) for your ego, so proceed with caution.

          Curious to hear if anyone else has better ideas!

        2. Unfettered scientist*

          To be more specific, I think that in general with programming there are various general skill levels/bands, from beginner to intermediate to advanced to expert (sometimes this is ‘per language’). I feel like I have a good sense of what a beginner is like (having seen them in classes I TA). I think I’m probably intermediate with several languages, but ‘intermediate’ feels like a vast ocean and I have no clue how I know when I’d be considered more advanced.

        3. TechWorker*

          To be honest I think the key is being able to talk about things in a way that shows your level of understanding (and/or prep for practical coding interviews if that’s a thing for the jobs you’re applying for). I think putting ‘python – intermediate, C++ – basic’ on your CV is 100% pointless because it just doesn’t mean anything. Better to point to actual projects and be able to talk about them in depth.

          1. Unfettered scientist*

            That’s a great point; demonstrating those skills are what’s critical. I do have that type of “python – intermediate” language on my CV because often I’m applying to jobs where they prefer knowledge of that language but I’ve never actually used it in my work (more academic and personal projects) and I’m unsure any of that experience is actually worth taking up space on my resume. I do include specific examples of other projects done in other languages in my work experience section, but there’s limited space and I do have to balance space devoted to programming with other scientific skills.

            1. Unfettered scientist*

              For the types of jobs I’m applying for, I see this kind of appropriate for a skills/technical section. In the same way I might list specific scientific software I’ve used before, I also list programming languages and general experience level with them. Where possible, I list specific achievements/projects using those skills but I do think a technical skills section can be useful to save some space.

    9. Aquawoman*

      Is it possible to work less than 10 hours a day by challenging deadlines or just not doing the 3rd edit or whatever? Can you brush up the comp sci by doing 1 -2 hours a day over the weekend or take a short vacation? Also, start applying and see what happens–is that a job “requirement” or wishful thinking (do tech writers get paid more than coders or vice versa? if coders get paid more, then you know that requirement is unrealistic).

      Good luck!

    10. Firecat*

      Not sure if this makes you feel better or not, but I was recently hired at a healthcare facility. The job description wanted someone who had data science, tableau, and SQL skills. MSc preferred. I was worried I wouldn’t get the job because, even though I know SQL, I had only used Power BI and I don’t have a graduate degree.

      Well I got the job and … literally most of my day to day is answering emails and filling out lines from forms into excel. That’s it. Most of the “required skills” I use rarely or not at all.

      Apply, apply, apply.

    11. Nesprin*

      For tech writing, doing documentation for an open source project is one of the most valuable demonstrations of skills that I can imagine.

  7. Kat*

    My work-study employee asked me to write her a letter of recommendation for a scholarship she is applying for. She is awesome and I want to write her the strongest recommendation that I can but I’ve never done one of these before. Anyone have advice or resources? The scholarship criteria is not really related to the work she does for me but I know she has deep experience in those areas as well. I assume she’s asked for other letters that speak to that so i was thinking of focusing on how she demonstrates the mission and values of our organization. But I’m getting stuck on how to even start.

    1. Just Here for the Cake*

      Defiantly ask her if there is anything specific that she wants you to include, such as specific parts of the job she completed, things that are more connected to the scholarship, ect. My advisors did this in college, and it honestly made for better letters!

    2. StudentLife4Life*

      Fellow work-study supervisor here! I write several scholarship recommendation letters every year for my students. I think you’re on the right path. I find writing a recommendation is similar to a cover letter, so much of the advice on here for cover letters probably applies. The main difference is you’re talking about someone else, not yourself.

      The best advice I can give you is to be specific with your examples, rather than making general statements about the student’s characteristics. I find a small number of demonstrative examples is more impressive than a list of skills. The first example below, though a bit wordy, is more appealing than the second.
      1. “Sarah took creative lead on (project), coming up with the design and following through on the logistics. She coordinated a team of 3 other students to complete the project. Her commitment to (value/mission/vision) is evident in the way she did xyz.”
      2. “Sarah is very creative and has leadership potential. She is responsible and thorough.”

      If you can tie you examples into some of the qualities listed on the scholarship application, great! If not, though, I agree that emphasizing specific ways she demonstrates commitment to your org is a good way to structure your letter.

    3. Artemesia*

      Since you can’t speak for her expertise in the field she applies to, speak to her strength in the work she did with you. Was she among the top 5% student employees you have had or the best one you have had? If so say so. Think about examples of initiative, follow through, quality of work and be fairly specific about those qualities. I have had tons of interns, work studies, RAs over decades and one or two were spectacular and many just had their thermostat for quality work set low — The key is to make clear that this person is outstanding and does work you can count on without micromanaging. She will have other evidence of her field expertise but you can testify to her work ethic, competence, follow through and commitment to high quality product as well as her personal qualities e.g. teamwork, easy to work with, takes direction well.

    4. SpEd Teacher*

      The idea of “show, don’t tell” I think is really important here. Don’t just say that she is a self starter. Say, “Without needed to be asked she noticed that x needed to be done and did y to address it.” Give specific examples.

      I have always stuck to a very standard, middle school level, 5 paragraph essay with an introduction, a thesis statement (I recommend Jane to to receive this scholarship because she is x, y, and z.), then three paragraphs explaining x, and y, and z using examples, and then a conclusion.

    5. Tessera Member 042*

      When I get requests for recommendation letters, I ask the student to send me 3 things: the description of the scholarship/program/job they are applying for, a copy of their resume (so I can see what else they do beyond my class), and a paragraph about why they are applying to said scholarship/program/job.

      Then I write the rec letter very similarly to a cover letter:
      Intro: how I know the student, what they are applying for, and my “thesis” about why they will do well in that position
      Body: give specific examples of the skills the student has shown in my class they can apply to the position (based on the description), and show how other aspects of their lives demonstrate their interest in the position (using the resume & paragraph)
      Conclusion: reiterate the reasons for my support, add contact info

      Also, think about what unique examples you can supply that her other recommenders might not (especially if they are only instructors), such as ability to follow directions, pick up new skills, and professional behaviors (punctuality, etc.).

      Good luck!

    6. Nesprin*

      Should be ~2 pages, use her formal title (I am writing to recommend Ms Intern for scholarship), speak to her accomplishments that you’ve observed (in the 1 year i’ve over seen her work, she has completely changed how we do X, contributed to project Y at A level of independence), compare her to similar students (i.e. best among 300 I’ve mentored, as demonstrated by her achievements A, B and C) and avoid excessively feminized feeling words like compassionate, helpful etc (i.e. women are often pigenholed into X is the nicest intern I’ve had and she really always wants to help, vs. men who are described as brilliant/accomplished/talented- the latter plays far better). The worst possible letter is one that is short, vague and relates to feelings vs. accomplishments. (i.e. X was my student. They received a decent grade in my class and were always helpful and friendly)

      I usually ask my recomendees for their resume and a cheat sheet- what did you do that you want me to emphasize, and I usually let mine read theirs- because if I’m writing a letter for a person, I think they’re great.

    7. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I asked my supervisor for a letter of recommendation and he got me to write it for him, lol. Of course, he may have totally rewritten it – don’t remember if I saw the finished letter but it worked and I was admitted to the programme I was applying for – but it was a smart move on his part to save his own time.

  8. Huckleberry*

    I was the unofficial Excel expert in my old position, and I’ve now transferred to another position in a different department. I learned Excel on my own on my own time. Is it my responsibility to train my replacement on Excel, or can it be reasonably expected for them to learn it on their own?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you created specialized workbooks (macros, etc), then I think it’s reasonable for you to leave some documentation behind on those. Otherwise, I’d say it’s on the new person to get up to speed on excel if their skills are lacking.

      1. Beatrice*

        And it’s your manager’s responsibility to hire someone with an appropriate knowledge level in Excel, if that’s something that they want your replacement to do or it’s absolutely necessary for the job. You should flag it for your manager and make sure they’re aware of the level of Excel you’re using for your job now and what for, if you think they might not know.

        As far as your unofficial Excel support within your department, your boss may not expect your replacement to fill that particular gap. They may want another member of your department to pick that up, or use a resource from another team, or just try to do without it and see what happens. I left a job a couple of years ago where I was the unofficial VBA expert. I documented my macros thoroughly and and at least documented my edits in the existing ones I’d only tweaked, but my replacement had almost no macro editing experience. My then-boss decided to do without it and in the one-off cases where they needed help with VBA, there was someone in IT who could unofficially help, they just had to wait for him to be available, which sometimes took weeks. They decided to be ok with that level of support.

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

      I think it’s reasonable to train them on the specific Excel functions that you use for your previous position but you don’t have to train them on the comprehensive use of Excel.

      1. Weekend Please*

        You can always send them a link to the resources you used to learn excel. What they do from there is up to them.

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      It all depends on what your replacement is expected to do in Excel. I know more than most users and when I’ve trained folks to take over specific roles of mine over the years, I usually tailored the training to their level of knowledge, with an emphasis on exactly what they need to know in excel to keep any specific files that I’ve built running properly. If the role you’re leaving is heavy in Excel, then whoever the hiring manager is should have done their due diligence in figuring out the new hire’s competency with Excel and your training will be filling in specific details for the role.

    4. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      I think it really depends on how much of an excel expert you are. If you’re doing truly complicated things (advanced stats, etc.), then yeah, maybe you should train your replacement. If its basic stuff that is easily google-able, then no.

      For example, I’m considered the “excel expert” where I work, but all the stuff I’ve done I’ve learned from google.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Unofficial Excel expert doesn’t sound like it was tied to your role, just something you stumbled into. I don’t think you have to train your replacement to the level of Excel skills you had unless it’s specific to a work task. Since it was “unofficial” someone else or your replacement may need to step into that role for your old department.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      It’s one thing to train someone on their job duties, but you can’t be expected to teach someone a skill before you move out of your role. And there are tons of free videos and, of course, google. If they seem to be having troubles, then I’d help them with some of the excel terminology so they know how to phrase a google search to find the right results.

    7. Kat*

      I’ve been in a similar position and I would say probably not. Hopefully your employer sought out a replacement with Excel skills but even if they didn’t, a reasonably resourceful person should be able to figure out most stuff with some googling. You show your replacement what you do and let them know that they’ll need know how to do x y and z in excel. I would be nice to pass along any resources or tips that you’ve collected (I had a big document full of complicated formulas that I could easily modify for different needs, links to useful how-to sites, etc.).

    8. saffie_girl*

      An employer can always request that you train co-workers, but as someone who has been in a similar situation (really good at software, but self taught), teaching is a totally different skill from doing. I have often taken the path of “I am happy to assist with specific questions, but teaching skills are just not in my wheelhouse. Perhaps you/they need a formal course?” There are so many resources available (and often for low or no cost), and those people are experts at it.

      Also, when people ask me to troubleshoot or write their documents/do the work for them, I tend to fall back on either “sorry, I’m swamped, but is there a specific thing you were unable to get google to help with?” or “There are so many ways to do the same thing in excel, and my way may not work for you, so you may have more success doing it in the way your brain works”

    9. Octopus*

      Are you being asked by your manager to do this training? If so, you basically have to, but you can definitely ask that it be considered part of your workload so you’re not expected to carve time out of your schedule in your new position without their support. If it’s something the person in the new position is asking for, you could ask your manager if they want you to allocate some of your time to training them. I think this would be a reasonable and good-will building task if you can make time for it/your manager is supportive of including it as your workload.

    10. JHB*

      In general, no. But you should convey the importance of beefing up those skills and perhaps list some resources you found helpful. Also, if there were specific functions/features you found especially useful – you might point those out as priority. For example, in my speadsheets, I use all the variations of IF statements and identifying duplicates with Conditional Formatting saves huge amounts of time. I’d be sure to at least share that with someone taking on my work.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I agree with this. If the new employee is expected to maintain previously created spreadsheets, then it’s reasonable to at least let her know which functions that are used (vlookups, pivot tables, specific formulas, etc.) and you could go over one or two of them if they are just specific items. If it’s a larger training for a lot of different functions, then I would be referring to her to websites or other resources to investigate that herself.

    11. LKW*

      I agree with the others, if learning Excel was specific to key files/reports then it would be beneficial to train the new person, or provide written directions on what is needed, how to do it, and the purpose it serves. If it was just answering “how do I …” questions, then you can simply advise them that they’ll likely expand their Excel skill set and may want to bookmark some useful How To sites.

    12. WellRed*

      As someone currently struggling to figure out what should be a reasonably simple task in excel (which I barely use, my job doesn’t require it), I think it would be a kindness to go over the basics of what they need for the job, but to learn excel more fully, they should do that on their own. Be available for questions. However, I admit to being irritated that none of the people who regularly use the program know how to do perform the function I need, and my boss’s response to my asking about training resources was to call training “Magical” I may be biased. (I did tell her my request wasn’t unreasonable in a company our size).

    13. Cassidy*

      I wouldn’t worry about at all unless you’re tasked with training. If expected to train, I’d keep the training focused on the role of Excel within the specific job and not, as someone upward mentioned, the entirety of Excel itself.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Only if it is something very specific in Excel for your company. And that you can probably document or leave notes about. Will there still be some questions? Sure. It would be normal for the new person to ask which spreadsheets go with which project, where things are on the server, and basic questions about how you do things “here.”

  9. Middle Manager*

    In a recent leadership meeting, another supervisor was talking about a member of their staff trying to get work done by a deadline and that to do so, the staff person would be taking their laptop to the hospital with them to work on the project post minor surgery. Both the supervisor and their manager’s attitude was, if it’s their choice it’s fine. Even though it wasn’t in my chain of command and it felt pretty uncomfortable, I spoke up and asked if having people working from a hospital was really a good idea (even if the person is choosing it) and that I didn’t think it was because it is contributing to an already pretty workaholic culture and other staff might feel pressured to follow suit. I was kind of stunned that I had to say it and now I feel like maybe my own norms of work have been really warped by our culture. Am I crazy? Or is it just basic bounds of reason to not have staff working from the hospital as a groundrule?

    1. Rayray*

      I’m with you. This isn’t a healthy culture at all. People need time to rest, whether due to surgery or if they just want to use PTO for a mental health day to sit home and watch movies.

      If I were an employee here, I’d be really put off by this. This kind of culture creates fear that no one can use PTO ever.

      This is actually abusive to that employee. They shouldn’t feel obligated to work while recovering. A good boss would reassign their duties.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you said the right thing. Let people recover from their surgery! How good a job will someone who might be on painkillers do, anyway?

      1. Otter Dance*

        Everything I programmed while on hydrocodone after major surgery had to be completely redone when I was back to normal. I think I even messed up a date format validation.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          In my case, nothing was done “incorrectly”, but its a case of “I did WHAT now? I have zero recollection of doing that, are you sure?!”

    3. Not Your Average Jo(lene)*

      I understand the need the employee feels to finish their project to completion, but yeah, I agree that it sends the wrong signal and isn’t the culture you want to show to others. I believe in strong barriers to my personal life. My stance is because I used to be in a position where there was no coverage if someone was out. I had major surgery and stuff was left undone. I was on FMLA, so I was protected, but it left the wrong taste in my mouth.

      1. Ins mom*

        Agree with the above and what about security issues for the laptop and data at the hospital? Bad idea all around

      1. Beatrice*

        It’s possible to tell them no and explain what that does to their team and company culture, if they think it’s just their choice. I would not allow it.

        Also, if they’re on FMLA, not only is it illegal, both the company and their manager personally could be liable for FMLA violations, so it’s a huge no. I had an employee a few years back who was hugely resistant to taking actual medical leave and being off work for her serious medical issue that unquestionably required treatment, and I used that as my pushback to tell her that she HAD to plan to be off work for the time her doctor told her she needed to take off.

    4. Aquawoman*

      I think they may all have unrealistic ideas about the person’s condition post-surgery. They’re thinking, “oh, minor surgery,” but if someone is in the hospital, they are physically and/or mentally compromised. Even just recovering from anesthesia takes a while.

    5. RagingADHD*

      On principle, you’re right.

      In practice, it really depends on how minor the surgery is as to whether this is totally warped or not. If it’s an outpatient procedure with local anesthetic and they are just going to be sitting at the hospital waiting for their ride home, that’s less problematic. Still not good to set that as an expectation, but not a huge deal.

      If they are admitted to the hospital to stay? Yeah, really not something you want to encourage.

    6. pbnj*

      How did they respond after you said that? Did they see why it was problematic? I think you’re not crazy at all. I’ve seen people brag about working while at the hospital (which I thought was bananas), so I appreciate anyone who pushes back on this culture.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Most people on the call seemed like they thought I was being unreasonable/it wasn’t that big a deal, which is why I guess I needed a reality check. Luckily, our director did support it, although not live in the meeting, in an email later. I think that it was almost a bragging point, just like who sends an email the latest at night is, is what was most concerning. And I’m not above it, I’ve also sent those late night emails, maybe why I feel so strongly about it, that’s already too much and the idea that the next level of being a “good” employee in our organization is working from a hospital is just a bridge too far…

    7. Rachel in NYC*

      Definitely not wrong.

      And raises the issue of how voluntary the staff member’s action really was.

    8. Anon for this one*

      A former supervisor sent me an offer letter the very same day she gave birth (I’m not sure whether the email or the child came first). When I realized the timing I was stunned, and in retrospect it was a bit of a red flag about some unreasonable expectations and her habit of responding/reacting without taking context into account. Good on you for speaking up!

    9. Green Mug*

      Before surgery, there is a lot of time one needs to spend laying around in the hospital. It’s boring, and you are nervous. To some people, keeping your mind occupied on work and feeling productive might be a helpful coping mechanism.

      1. Middle Manager*

        I can totally see that. It’s the kind of choice I might even make for myself. But to me it’s not about that person in particular, it’s about the culture we’re creating. Other staff aren’t necessarily going to be aware of the specifics, they might just going to know that staff person A told them they were out surgery and then see emails coming in from them the day they are scheduled off. To me that sets a terrible precedent that these are the norms/expectations around our office.

    10. Claritza*

      A friend was going for promotion to Assistant Principal. The interviewing team arrived at her hospital bedside after her sinus surgery and insisted on conducting the interview, She said she was so medicated that it was an “out of body” experience. She did manage to get the promotion.

  10. Please stop talking to me*

    My job is usually about 85 percent field work, but that’s impossible during the pandemic. My organization did a few weeks of WFH but now has everyone back in the office full-time. We’ve had 3-4 incidents of infection on staff, but zero in-office spread. The org is generous with employees needing to quarantine. We are usually not allowed to WFH, but those needing to quarantine may do so. In general, things are okay for most staff.

    Since I can’t travel, I’m in the office full-time. I’ve been inventing projects to stay busy-ish and productive, but I’m getting stir crazy. I’m very much an introvert – the usual field work is perfect for me, because it involves hours of solo time – so being around people constantly is a huge change and incredibly wearing. These people do. not. shut. up. Our setup is a series of connected rooms, so I don’t have a private office with a door I can close. I do wear headphones sometimes, although they give me a headache. And even with headphones, people still come in and talk to me or sit near my desk to talk with/at my office mate. The office mate often ignores *them,* but constantly interrupts *me* with some headline or bit of gossip (even when I’m wearing headphones).

    I don’t mind morning greetings and human interaction. But this is constant: three of these people have very few duties, so they spend their days gossiping and hanging out. Unfortunately, they’re proteges of the (absentee) Uber Boss, so I can’t appeal up the chain of command. WFH isn’t permitted. (My normal reaction is “use your words,” but due to these people’s connection to Uber Boss and internal politics, that would be… inadvisable, at best.)

    Anyone have coping strategies? Or do I just continue escaping to the restroom when I’m on the verge of shrieking? (Also, I needed to vent as much as anything, so thank you for that opportunity.)

    1. Juneybug*

      Could you work in a conference room? When asked, you can say you needed to focus on a task.
      Sorry you are going through this. It does not sound fun.

    2. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      I think it’s actually OK to talk to the people themselves as long as you don’t do so when you’re already in a foaming rage. If you can frame it as something about you, rather than something about them, it has a good chance of going over fine. More at “hey, can I ask a favor, I find it hard to focus with people chatting around me, would you mind stepping out in the hall” or (to office mate, friendly perky tone) “Hey, you might not realize but I’m actually a raging introvert and I’m feeling ‘peopled out’ lately; hope you don’t mind if I would rather not chat during the day!” Less dramatic tearing off of headphones and running out of office shrieking ‘shut up! shut uuuuupppp!’ (Not that you or I would ever actually do that, but oh I’ve come close in earlier lives.)

    3. Garrett*

      I hear you. I just started a new job and it’s in-office after being WFH for the last year. Plus my previous office was pretty quiet. Here…not so much. My job is singular but I am surrounded by people who have to interact constantly, so lots of chatter.

      My coping has been to take lots of mini-breaks. I get up and take a lap around the building. I sit in the cafeteria at off-times for a minute. I’ve taken a few walks (weather is hindering that) and have even sat in my car. I also take lunch at a different time than most others so I can enjoy the quiet of no one there. Finally, I come in early before most people so I have that quiet time first thing in the morning. You can always go the other way and stay later so you have quiet time at the end of the day.

    4. Rational Lemming*

      I don’t have anything magically to offer, but used to work in an office that was a sea of cubicles and this helped me:
      1) I shifted my computer screens so that I wasn’t making unintentional eye contact with people as they walked by
      2)I know you are already wearing headphones so maybe this isn’t helpful – but I got some obnoxiously colored over-the-ear headphones (think Beats knockoffs) from Amazon (~$40?). They were a great signal that I was busy with something and not open to idle chat. People ended up knocking on my cube wall if they needed my attention. A lot of times there wasn’t even music playing through the headphones… but nobody needs to know that!
      3) This is stupid but it helped a little- I got an hourglass. Enough people saw it and asked me about it (the people that frequently dropped by my desk) that if they saw it in motion they knew I was trying to focus. Maybe it would be a good signal for your office mate?
      4) lots of walks :) I would go to a different floor to fill up my water bottle or go get a soda from the market across the street.

      Someone else on my team worked in the corner and got a sound machine – white noise – and blamed it on “the acoustics of the corner” bouncing sound around. She claimed people were quieter with that on.

    5. Pond*

      If the headphones you have give you a headache, try to find better ones. The headphones I have now are comfortable and I can wear them for hours, but previously I’ve had ones that were immediately painful or hurt after a little while. It might take some trial and error to find ones that are good for you. Things to consider include the shape and size of both the headband part and the ear parts, as well as volume (if you are listening to anything) and noise cancelling.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Eh, YMMV. I have a pair of Sennheiser over-the-ear headphones, and while i can wear them comfortably for 2-4 hours, after that they do tend to hurt. I wear glasses, usually a headband, probably a mask too, and it’s just a lot of competition for the back of my ears. Maybe switch from OTE to earbuds and vice versa every few hours.

    6. WellRed*

      You need to say something, cheerfully, politely, repeatedly till the stop being rewarded by your responding to them. I mean, if you politely say, “well, got to get back to this report” do you honestly think they are gong to say to Uber Boss, “PSTTM told me she had to write a report when I was trying to gossip with her?”

    7. 'Tis Me*

      Aargh my sympathies!

      Are there any meeting rooms you can book to do online learning in relation to your role with audio on (no headphones) so you can take off somewhere and hide? “My headphones are digging in a bit and I really want to focus on this without distracting you, Officemate, but I should still be able to reply to emails quickly etc if anybody needs me” for an hour or two a couple of times a week may help you keep going the rest of the time.

      Alternatively if there’s somebody in HR or management who might be receptive, “I know our culture is a friendly, chatty one, but sometimes people need to focus in silence on something complicated and involved and that can be tricky. Would it be possible to set up a meeting room as a silent work room?” (if somebody instead tries to cut down on the chatter and distractions people may think you were complaining and be a bit peeved so it really depends how it’s likely to land, though.)

      Also, both these plans rely on meeting rooms being available and this being recognised as appropriate use of them at your company…

      It’s a shame “Me introvert. Too many words. Shhh time now. Shhhhh” isn’t an acceptable way to talk to people and you basically need to invent excuses to work effectively! Good luck!

      1. Aquawoman*

        LOL, that is pretty close to how I say it to my family, though. I believe I also have a facial expression that says that for me.

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      Sing tunelessly to yourself. Maybe it will drive them crazy and they’ll go hang out in the other people’s area.

  11. The Cosmic Avenger*

    No question, just good news! I’m back with my old company, my old boss, and much of my old team, and many of the new people are people I have met or worked with a bit already! Oh, and for MORE MONEY than before! \o/

    1. Mx*

      Covid related :

      My coworker who lives near me wants to offer me a lift in her car. The issue is she won’t wear a mask. My other option is to use public transport (about 20mn). Not everyone wears a mask in public transport but it’s not crowded at the time I travel so I can easily keep my distance.
      The car journey would probably be no more than 10mn.
      I wonder what is the least unsafe option. What would you do ?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I am not scientist, but I think the public transport sounds safer.

        Riding in the car exposes you less than 6 fee to the same unmasked regularly. If she’s contagious, you’ll get so much exposure.

        Although there are more people on public transport, you get less exposure to each individual and can probably social distance.

      2. Artemesia*

        This is just so insane. With the new highly contagious variant it is outrageous that people are still around people without masks. What about at the office? Is mask wearing being required there? Certainly being in an enclosed space like a car with someone unmasked is foolhardy. The buses where I am are running with lower numbers and people are masked. Even if some bus riders are not masked that sounds safer than being in a car. But bad alternatives either way.

        Is this same person spewing his/her breath all over the office unmasked as well?

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        If you can sit in the back seat, diagonally opposite the driver, and have the other back seat window open, I’ve seen an article demonstrating the airflow there is relatively safe. Intended for cabs / Uber situations…

        1. Mx*

          It’s a very small 2-sits car so I can’t be at the back. I will probably carry on using public transport

      4. Sparrow*

        If the commute via public transportation is only 20 minutes and you’ll have a good amount of space from people, I’d probably go that route, personally. If I knew the coworker was staying at home and always wore a mask in public/at work and just didn’t like to have it on in the car, I might feel differently, but I rather doubt that’s the case. And I would definitely tell her the reason I was turning down her generous offer.

      5. Mr. Shark*

        “She won’t wear a mask” seems like a big variable here. She doesn’t wear a mask at all, or she has told you point blank she’s unwilling to wear a mask in her commute? Since it’s only 10 minutes, can you just ask her, “I really appreciate your offer. I know you don’t usually wear a mask in the car, but given our inability to socially distance in the car, I would love to accept a lift to the office if we could wear a mask for that short amount of time to keep us both safe. Otherwise I will have to take public transportation, because I don’t want to take the risk. Is this something that you can do?”

      6. Ali*

        I have a friend who got Covid from riding in a car. She was unmasked, but the infected person was masked. I would not do it. (She’s now a long-hauler. It’s miserable.)

      7. linger*

        Actually, I would take the car as the least worst option.
        The thing is, either way, you can’t have perfect social distancing and can’t rely on others wearing masks during your commute.
        Apart from the biggie of not wearing a mask (just in the car? or is mask-wearing not required at your place of work either?), your coworker’s exposure risk profile may not be that different from your own, if you have similar jobs, and live in similar neighbourhoods. You can’t know that for random bus passengers.
        In the car, however, you can have more control over ventilation; you interact with far fewer different people with possible exposure; and there is a shorter overall time of possible exposure with each journey.

      8. Sandman*

        From what I’ve read there haven’t really been outbreaks related to transit, surprisingly enough. The theory I’ve heard is that the constant opening and closing of doors improves ventilation enough that even if an infected person is on the bus, the air exchange keeps the amount of virus in the air low. I would personally choose transit over riding with an unmasked colleague and that math would probably only change for me if we were both masked and had the windows cracked.

  12. Rayray*

    I’m curious to hear from people who have managed to change departments at their companies. I work for a mid sized company at the corporate office. I got my job this summer after a few months of unemployment. I really like the company, but I will need more money. I’m getting by, but it won’t be enough to support myself long term. I had specific experience related to the role and negotiated my pay and I was hired in at a level 2 of the position and at the highest pay scale. There’s people who have been here a couple years and are still level 1, so I don’t anticipate moving up in this department at all.

    There’s other positions within the company I’d be interested in. I also know that you are eligible for transfers after six months with the company.

    What tips do you have for this? I don’t intend to go for anything I’m wildly u qualified for, but I would like to try something different if I can. What was your experience like?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I switched departments at my last company. For me, I had originally taken a job that had some overlap with my skills, but which I was probably a bit overqualified for (I’m a writer/editor/copywriter; the job was a new position within customer service). And after a couple years in it, it became obvious to me that it was never going to be quite the job I’d wanted, for a number of reasons, and I saw that a copywriter job had opened up. Because I knew the products and the company and had the relationships already built, it was super easy to make my case.

      For you, I would take as much time as you can to learn the company and build those relationships, get really good at your job, and learn about the other teams/managers as much as you can, because it will make it much easier to change departments.

      1. Rayray*

        Thank you!

        I think I’m in a similar boat. I do some
        Basic audits of documents but would love to join something like copywriting, marketing etc. I may not have the *exact* experience as those jobs are always competitive, but I’m hoping I could use my previous job experience and college degree as leverage to hopefully join one of those teams.

    2. Hillary*

      It really depends on the company culture, and sometimes the role you’ve started in. At my employer it would be frowned on to try for a transfer before two years. But at my bff’s company they encourage entry-level people to start looking for their next role a year in. Everywhere I’ve worked I would have needed my manager’s support to apply for something else internally.

      Personally I’d wait until you’ve got the lay of the land. Take the time to build trust with your manager and figure out what you’re most interested in.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. If you transfer and it turns out not to be the best fit, you may get stuck for awhile before you can transfer again.

    3. Miss Marple*

      If you can tick a lot of the “must have” criteria then apply.
      If you are unsure and know or know of the Manager that is advertising, book them in for a coffee or meeting to discuss the job. It will tell you what skills are the most needed in the role.
      I have been successful in getting 3 out of 4 internal jobs that I applied for. Ironically the one I missed out on went to 2 people that were less qualified, less experienced and ticked less boxes than me. I ticked 8 out of 10 but the job already had people that ticked those 8 out of 10. The 2 that were successful ticked 5 out of 10 but ticked 1 box where there was nobody with that skill set in the team.
      One job I got, which was a promotion into management I ticked 5 out of 10 boxes. Two boxes I ticked were huge skills gaps in the team, As I had extensive experience in these skills and training others to acquire them, I got the job.
      The ultimate irony with this job, is I hated management and after doing my 12 months I went back to being a skilled teapot maker and have never been happier at work.
      One job I missed out on was with a Manager who I had had a lot of dealings with and he is one of my strongest advocates in the company, in the past he tried to get budget to get me into his team. I ticked 8 out of 10 boxes and missed out to a candidate that ticked 4 out of 10 boxes and had 2 years experience to my 20 years. On of the boxes he ticked was a skill set that nobody in the team had. The other box was he had worked with the client in the past that we were moving onto our system The other box was he had worked in a different role with one of the clients that we were moving onto our system.
      I had a friend that went from Tea Pot Manager to Senior Manager after 6 months. It caused quite a kerfuffle but he got the job as nobody internally applied and external candidates were thin on the ground. Plus he had worked in other jobs such as managing the tea pot painters.

    4. Lyudie*

      I did this a couple of years ago…you’re already getting good advice but here is something to keep in mind. At my company at least, and I’m sure this is some kind of off-the-shelf software, your manager is automatically notified if you apply for an internal position. So I would talk with your current manager before applying so it’s not an unpleasant surprise. If your manager is good (mine was) they might even be able to put you touch with people in the new department to give you a chance to ask questions, see what the work is like, and make that good impression in advance. My manager was very happy to help me take the next step, even if it meant my leaving her team. Of course not all managers are that gracious and invested in their employees’ careers.

      If your company posts job descriptions on the intranet, take a look at those and figure out what areas you are good in and where you are weaker. These might not always be kept up to date but it might be helpful in figuring out if the position would be a good fit.

      1. Isomorphism*

        Same for my company, which is why I (and generally people with bad managers) avoided the official hiring process until I was accepted for a position. Almost every hiring manager here keeps your informal application confidential.

        There is the common understanding that this is a bad system since it prevents people from getting away from bad managers without looking externally, but HR insists on it…

    5. jleebeane*

      I’ve done this! I started out in Customer Service and moved to our technology team, first supporting the custom software we used in CS and now as a product owner for that software, working to translate our users’ needs into changes the developers need to make.

      I’d never worked in technology before but my 4+ years of experience with the company meant I brought a lot of much-needed knowledge to the team. Even now, almost three years removed from my CS experience, I still have an understanding of our processes and the services we offer clients that helps me do my day to day job.

      In addition to leveraging “insider info”, I built really strong relationships with people outside my team, which meant when I was ready to leave Customer Service, I had lots of people willing to discuss their open roles with me and talk about how I might fit.

      I also was really lucky that I felt comfortable going to my then-current-boss to say I needed a change and was shopping, within the company, for a new position. Part of that was just my own confidence that I could find something and part of that was that our CS team was sort of known as a jumping off point within the company, so I had reason to believe I wouldn’t be forced out before I could move on.

      Good luck with finding a new position!

    6. Cassidy*

      Hi Rayray,

      I’m in academia, so I don’t know if my situation would apply in your context, but I worked my previous position for about two years, and, in my second year, asked if I could shadow a different department for a couple of hours a week. I also happen to work in an environment where cross-training among departments within my unit is prized, so my request was readily accepted. When the department I shadowed began the hiring process for a vacant role, guess who got it? It’s been a wonderful experience, except for a co-worker who is just mean-spirited, insecure, and petty. But I guess that part is for a different thread, lol. Good luck!!

  13. Octopus*

    Is there something wrong with me that I don’t like work? I feel like both places I’ve worked take the approach of piling on as much work as in-humanely possible until I’m working 50+ hour weeks and having emotional breakdowns trying to juggle everything. (And I’m fairly entry level and not in a field where long hours are notorious). How do some people enjoy (??) going to work? Is there something wrong with me that the workload negatively impacts me? I’m heading straight toward burnout, and I don’t even want to be promoted/build my career for fear that I would have to take on even more work. I’m feeling really hopeless staring down 30+ more years of this.

    Do people have any advice for finding/building a career path that won’t drive me to burn out? Have I just been unlucky in my past two employers? People here who love your work — do you not face unreasonable workloads at your place of employment, or does it just not bother you?

    1. Web Crawler*

      I’m also entry level and not in a field where long hours are notorious. I do enjoy my job, and I work no more than 40 hours a week, and the workload is manageable.

      I still couldn’t handle 40 hours a week in an office, though. Fluorescent lights give me migraines, I can’t stand our open office, and autism and sensory sensitivity meant that I was super burned out every Friday. So now I work from home (this started pre-pandemic) and everything is easier.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Of course you’re not going to love work if you’re feeling burned out and overloaded!

      I have mostly liked my jobs, but that’s because I’ve worked reasonable hours, felt like I was paid fairly, had good support for training and a good work-life balance.

      I don’t know your field but this could just be bad luck, there are certainly plenty of bad managers and lousy companies out there.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, first, are you the only one getting piled on with that much work? Are you allowing yourself to be taken advantage of? If so, stop it. Allison has posts about how to deal with too much work – find, read, and use.

      1. Octopus*

        I know a lot of people on the team are also very busy, but some people don’t seem to do much work. We’re all working from home, so it’s not immediately clear what other peoples’ workloads are, but I think there’s an element of being taken advantage of (e.g., why am I helping format PowerPoints when there are two people in our office who have “assistant” in their title?). But I basically have three+ people who can assign me work, so it makes pushing back hard/complicated, especially on little things that individually only take ~an hour, but are one more thing to juggle and they all pile up… I have read the related posts on the site (at least I think I found them all!), but I guess I thought they didn’t apply to me…or maybe I’m too scared to use my words and push back…? I just feel like I’d have to take 5-10 minutes to explain to someone why I’m too overworked for their various interruptions/pseudo-emergencies, which in the moment would feel out of place, since the other people don’t have good context for what else I’m working on, the associated deadlines, importance, etc. Gah, I guess I don’t have a great perspective right now because I’m just trying to keep my head above water & very conflict adverse!

        1. Chilipepper*

          Go to your main boss and explain that you are working x hours a day and need to prioritize some things and your plan is to do that by doing a, then b, then c (or whatever you think will work) unless they want you to prioritize things differently.

          Is anyone complaining if it takes a long time to do things?

        2. Quinalla*

          Yeah, you need help prioritizing. My job is similar to this where multiple people assign work and they really do not know how much you have on your plate. You HAVE to either push back and say you can’t take it on or can’t get it done until X date or go to your boss to help you prioritize. With 3 people assigning you work, it might be easier for your boss to assign X hours a week to each person then you can prioritize with them individually for the most part and only involve your boss if 2 or 3 have something urgent/emergency.

          But yeah, set up a meeting with your boss ASAP (Monday at this point) to talk about this, don’t wait. When you have a reasonable workload, I am hopeful you will be able to enjoy work more. My job is pretty typically 45 hours a week, but ranges from 40-50, but that is typical for my industry and I’m fine with it personally. It is deadline driven, so some weeks are busier than others!

    4. Zephy*

      There’s nothing wrong with you, it sounds like you’ve had bad luck with employers. Alison has a lot of advice around setting boundaries and managing up in the archives, which are good skills to cultivate anyway, but it’s possible you just keep picking shitty companies to work for.

    5. DataGirl*

      My personal reality is that I would much rather be a stay-at-home mom/ not work (and my kids are teens- nearly out of the house). The fact is I’d much rather spend my time cleaning, cooking, decorating, crafting, gardening, volunteering, learning, reading… anything creative than be stuck at a job, but I have no choice in the matter, I have to earn a living. My suggestion would be if you are young enough that you can change career trajectories, think about what in your life makes you really happy. Is there anyway to make a living doing that? The answer may be no- I certainly wouldn’t earn enough from my crafts or baking to support myself and my family, but maybe there’s something out there that would work for you?

      1. Octopus*

        Yes, I’d sooo much rather be a homemaker! This is helpful advice about thinking about if I could make a living doing the things I enjoy doing…I also think it’s unlikely for me, unfortunately! (I would love to do creative things, but I don’t want to fall into the starving artist trap). I’m fortunate that my current BF makes enough that he could support both of us, but I am a child of divorce, and I personally want to be able to support myself (theoretically). But I guess that’s a good reminder of why I’m putting myself through this stress…as you said, earning a living is important!

        1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          Octopus if you are WFH take advantage of mini breaks to keep a work/life balance. Like I’ve already got 2 loads of laundry thru the washer this shift. And walking away from the computer for those 5 minutes or less trips helps my brain immensely. Sometimes just going over to a window and staring out it while I sip coffee for a minute is all the mini break I need. I’d really look at prioritizing your incoming work and categorizing it in groups like Done Right Now, Done Today, Can Wait Until Tomorrow. Break your day into zones for working on different tasks. If you can’t keep up loop your direct supervisor in using language like “I can get X,YZ done. Unfortunately that means A,B,C will have to wait” Ask for suggestions or if there is anything you should be prioritizing differently. Sometimes its all about having the right manager too. I’d tell Boss A that I was having trouble keeping up. (Work stacks so large that piles were literally falling off my desk) Boss A would simply say “Don’t worry about it” and do nothing. This in fact did not help me level of worry decrease. It rather sent my blood pressure up. Boss B will say things like “Work on X and Z can wait until another day” Or “I’ll have Person help with A for a few days” Boss B has my eternal gratitude.

        2. DataGirl*

          I wish I could draw- that can at least be translated into a tattoo artist or graphic design or something that makes money. There’s no money in cross stitching, lol. I totally get not wanting to fall into the starving artist trap. Could I open a business decorating cakes? Sure. Would I make enough money to support my kids and myself. Probably never.

          If you can reduce the stress and workload at your job, giving yourself more time to enjoy the things you do love, that might help. Good luck!

    6. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

      I don’t really ENJOY going to work, but getting paid is nice, plus the work gives me some form of social connection with colleagues and a bit of structure to my life.
      However, your problem is more in the lines of unreasonable work loads. Is it common throughout your office / line of work? I was also once in your shoes, and the problem was industry wide. I sought out a new job in an adjacent field and gotten a lot better work life balance. I would recommend you see if its possible to either adjust your workload, or start exploring other jobs. Good luck!

    7. Cat Tree*

      I had a string of four jobs after college, and I was miserable at each one. There were two different factors at play. Part of it was my own mental health. It wasn’t specifically addressed during my therapy but I realized in hindsight that I had been getting caught on bad things and then they would just spiral around in my brain and I could never move past it.

      Once I had that perspective, I figured out the second problem: some of the jobs/companies just truly were terrible. But not all of them. Two were really bad, one was mediocre, and one was actually pretty good. I’ve had other jobs since then and I’m better at evaluating them real-time. Even for one that wasn’t great, I took the perspective that I should try to get as much as possible out of it while I continued to look elsewhere. That helped it be more tolerable. So it’s very possible that you just found two bad jobs. Think about what you really want out of a job and pursue that long-term, always building on the lessons learned at the one you don’t like.

      But also, you don’t have to love your job. Sure, it’s better if you at least like it because you spend so much time doing it. But at the end of the day, you work so you can pay your bills and sometimes that has to be enough.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      Nothing wrong with you. Sounds like you ended overworked and burned out in two jobs.

      I like my job well enough. I like it more than many other things I could get paid for. It fits me well, and I am good at it. I had a bad project that probably stressed me out for the whole of the 5 years I was assigned, but the perks and benefits were still worth it. But to be honest there is always something else other than work I’d rather be doing. I work to get money to live, support my hobbies, support my future retirement.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      A couple things:
      Very few people enjoy consistent high-hour/high-pressure jobs. Most people look at such hours as a tradeoff for money, prestige, career advancement, training etc. If that tradeoff isn’t there for you, then find a different employer.
      Since you aren’t in a field where long hours are expected, I think you got unlucky with your employers. I started off in a field where long hours ARE expected (law), and my first job made me seriously question whether I had made the right career choice. But even there I was able to move from my BigLaw firm to a MediumLaw firm where the expectations were a lot different and it turns out that I love practicing law. Not just at my first firm.

    10. Dr of Laboratoria*

      It sounds to me that it’s not that you don’t like work… it’s that you don’t like the work you’re doing right now. I felt the exact same way at my previous job as you do now.

      Your past and present jobs to not align with what your life to be – it sounds like you want a nice, 9-5, 40hrs, clock out and go do other stuff kind of job, right?

      I can tell you from experience that they are out there, because I moved from a job that was high hours to one that’s very much 40 hours, you’re done, go home, and don’t think about work until you clock in in the morning.
      As you’re thinking about your career development, I would start a list of jobs that sounds interesting, then start comparing them. For example, compare a Certified Personal Accountant vs. Adimistrative Assistant vs. Grant Manager (replace with whatever you’re interested in). Ask friends what they think of their jobs. Be honest with yourself about how far up you want to climb the ladder. Try to schedule some informational interviews of jobs that interest you.

      And at interviews, I think it’s ok to ask about hours and time commitment, especially if you are able to meet with other staff. With the job I have now, I knew I would have to be on call some weekends so I asked what should I expect when working a weekend. It’s a very fair question. I mean, we all have to stay late at our jobs sometimes, but when it gets to be everyday, that’s not OK for a lot of us.

      Just to reiterate – I don’t think it’s YOU and think is the JOBS you’ve landed in. And I bet there’s much better out there that will match the life you want to live.

      Good Luck!

      1. Octopus*

        This is a super helpful perspective — and very uplifting to me to know that you were successful in finding a good fit for yourself! Thank you so much for sharing that it’s possible to find a job that does align with what I’m looking for (you nailed what it is that I want out of my work), and the process you used to find it!!

    11. Two Dog Night*

      I think it’s partly bad luck, and partly that you’re early in your career. Lower-level employees tend to get dumped on. At most companies, as you get more responsibility you’ll also get more flexibility, which helps a lot. But there are companies that won’t expect 50+ hour weeks all the time… and there are companies that will.

      Have you talked to your manager about your workload? Are they at all sympathetic? Is it possible that you’re putting time into making things perfect when they just need to be good enough? Can some of your responsibilities be handed off to someone who had bandwidth, or are all your coworkers in the same boat? Can you detach a bit, so you’re not so emotionally invested even if you’re putting in more hours than you’d like?

      You might want to start looking for a new job, but be really picky about it. Figure out what you do and don’t like about your current job, and think about what kind of jobs have a lot more of the good things than the bad things. When you’re interviewing, ask questions about the culture, read Glassdoor reviews, and ask other people in the industry what they think about various companies.

      I hope that’s not all too general to be helpful… it’s hard to make suggestions without knowing specifics. It is definitely possible to have a good career that doesn’t take up your whole life, but it might take some time to find the right position.

      1. Octopus*

        This is all very helpful as both a reality check of what I’m dealing with (getting dumped on is probably part of it), and the pieces I can influence (not making things perfect when good works). I am really struggling with how to address the issue with my manager, but they are sympathetic on the workload (acknowledging there’s a lot on my plate). I guess I’m worried “I’m drowning, please help” isn’t concrete/professional enough to really raise the issue, and there might not be much she can do because other people assign me work directly. A lot of these projects are temporary too, so I keep telling myself if I “just get through this week” then I’ll be able to step off the gas, but there’s always more.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          I totally sympathize–I’ve been in that position. Your manager should be helping you prioritize and running interference if necessary. If you’ve got more stuff than you can get done in a reasonable number of hours, lay it all out for them and ask for direction–what order should you do things in, what can wait, what can be shifted to someone else.

          And you might want to talk about whether/how much you can push back when people assign you work. If someone gives you something and says they need it done in two days, are you allowed to say, “Sorry, I’m swamped, can’t do it by that time”? That’s going to depend on your company’s culture, but your manager should be helping you navigate it.

          Managing one’s workload is tough. I tend to take too much on because I’m over-optimistic about how long things will take; I’ve really had to learn to pad my estimates and not over-promise. It’s rough, but if you can learn how to do it, it’s a skill you’ll use for your whole career, no matter what you’re doing.

          Good luck! If you can get your workload under control, you might find that you don’t hate work as much as you think. And if you do still hate it, that’s useful information too.

        2. 'Tis Me*

          “Hi, Mainmanager,

          Would it be possible to talk to you about my workload? I’m working 50 hour weeks as standard currently. Because a lot of the tasks are relatively small – say, an hour’s work – pushing back on them doesn’t seem appropriate, but when 6 or 7 people each give you an urgent task that must be done that day, each of which will only take about an hour, that’s basically a day’s worth of tasks, before getting onto any older items with longer deadlines, my standing responsibilities, or meetings.

          I’ve gone through my tasklist for the past week to illustrate what my workload looks like; see the table below.

          Assigned by/Project
          Time taken

          As you can see, no one person is asking me to do an excessive amount, but I received X hours’ more work in total, most of it urgent, on top of Y hours’ meetings, Z hours’ standing tasks, P hours’ work needed on existing projects, etc. This was a typical week.

          As we are working remotely, it’s really hard to ascertain if other people may have capacity, for instance, would it be OK to ask [Bob to ask one of the assistants to format his document in house style]? Would it be acceptable to ask people to fill out a shared Excel document with fields similar to those in the table above as well as emailing me to assign work, with some sort of formatting in place to automatically highlight e.g. If I’ve been assigned over 5 hours of work to do in the last day with less than 48 hours’ TAT? Something like that would make it easier for me to ask people if they can reprioritise. Alternatively, is there another way you would like me to do this?”

          Statement of problem. Quantify. Propose solutions. Make it clear what it is you want from the manager.

          I suspect your manager doesn’t realise how much work is coming your way. Hopefully s/he’ll be happy to support you in setting whatever boundaries will help you manage the work most (no new tasks due by COB after 1pm/24 hour standard TAT expectation for hourly tasks/all items logged somewhere with more visibility so that people can see when you’re swamped/authority and support to ask people to pass certain types of tasks to somebody else/just knowing that if you need to say “I can’t do that this week, I’m really sorry” you can do without repercussion), and when you have a maintainable, sane workload and don’t feel like you’re constantly desperately trying to swim uphill you can at the least take a quiet satisfaction in knowing that you do your job well, with none of the panicky, overwhelmed dread that the whole idea of work currently holds.

    12. HB*

      It’s likely an organizational culture thing, especially if you live in the USA. There’s a joke about having two cows and how each country handles that… The American version is that the company sells one cow, forces the other to produce 4 cows worth of milk, and then hires an outside consulting firm when the cow dies.

      The tendency of companies to not replace workers and instead offload their work onto other employees is toxic and not sustainable and it sounds like you’re getting the brunt of that practice. If this is the only thing about your current job that is impacting you, talk to your boss about your workload. They might just need a nudge to know that they need to stop offloading or they’ll have to redistribute YOUR workload too, when you eventually snap and walk or wind up taking medical leave for exhaustion.

      Also, I’d argue that some folks are okay with being somewhat overworked IF job satisfaction balances that out. I used to be very satisfied in my current position, but COVID has changed that a lot and as a result I’m jumping ship for a safer and better option. I remember loving coming to work and voluntarily working more hours than I was assigned just because it was a fulfilling thing to do. But it’s near impossible to not resent being told to do so when you actively don’t want to.

    13. Malarkey01*

      For me some of it is reframing. I don’t like to work, but I usually like my job- if I had unlimited money there a lot of other productive things that I would like to spend my time on (and some fun but unproductive things too) than a job. So since I must work, I reframe things to finding the job that I’m happiest with (like housework- I hate it but laundry and cooking doesn’t bug me as much so I take that on). I also reframe things and think I’m glad my job allows me to – and sometimes that’s a specific work skill or sometimes it’s allows me to pay for rock climbing trips.

      Most of us go through cycles to where you hate your job or are burned out, but then go to enjoying your job, and back and forth.

    14. mreasy*

      I like my job, and my coworkers, and believe in our mission, but I wouldn’t say I “like” work and I certainly wouldn’t do it if I didn’t need the money.

    15. Generic Name*

      Nobody enjoys being overwhelmed with work to the point of burnout. And there’s a ton of territory between the dichotomy of “emotional breakdown due to crushing workload” and “loving work”. So there’s nothing wrong with you, and I think it would be good to try to improve your working conditions to something you can tolerate doing for pay. Once you’re not miserable you can think of what you would need to enjoy your job. The whole “love what you do” is a myth borne out of extreme privilege. Most people work for pay because job satisfaction doesn’t pay the rent.

    16. New Mom*

      Hey Octopus, here’s my experience and hopefully, it will give some hope/insight:

      I started my career as a teacher and got super burned out by the third year and knew it was not something that I would stay in. I had pretty much ideal teaching conditions, great students, small class size and coworkers that I liked but I was still burned out with management and the same day/in day/out with no option to move up or change certain aspects. And I knew that if I was in a more challenging teaching environment I would have been deeply unhappy.

      I went back and got my master’s and then started an entry-level role in the education field but in a more administrative role. I found that my first year was the hardest, I was learning new systems and my tasks were taking me 2-3 times it would take coworkers because I was still learning systems, and the efficient ways to do things. I also got a lot of the data entry and grunt work because I was entry-level. What is good about my org is that there are many opportunities to advance so I was able to move roles about 18 months in.

      I like the work and I like my coworkers, and now that I’ve spent more time with my work, my tasks are easier to complete because I have multiple years of experience. I appreciate our less busy times to ramp up for the long days that come. But I’d say to try to feel it out and if you are still feeling unhappy and overworked in a few months that it would be worth looking into something new.

      Figuring out what makes you feel content at work is really helpful too. For example, do you want a job that you can leave work at work? Do you want a mission-driven job? Do you want a place where coworkers are around your age and it’s more of a friendly environment? Do you want a short commute?

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Octopus, you need to systematize information about your job so you have a way to present your workload to your boss. I suggest analyzing and writing down all of your responsibilities and the amount of time it takes to do them. Make a chart/table, don’t minimize things like research, sending things for review/approval, revising, and waiting for feedback. If you have more than one project, realize that context switching has a cost – for example, 2 “four-hour jobs” take longer than 1 “eight hour job”.

        Include things like sending and answering emails, preparing for meetings, going to meetings, and after the meetings, organizing the notes you took. Nobody can spend their entire workday on their projects, because of the above kinds of “overhead” tasks.

        You need specifics to take to your boss, to discuss priorities, and how to handle requests that come from coworkers. Sending those people to your boss is an option, and a decent boss will support this. Just say something like “Sorry coworker, but my schedule is really full. I suggest you ask MyBossSally about new-task and she can figure out the priorities, thanks!” (Spoken cheerfully)
        You don’t need to overexplain to the coworker, or convince them that you don’t have time to do what they’re asking.
        Having these boss conversations coworker conversations can feel daunting if you’re early in your career, but being able to do so is a really important skill that you need to develop. Practice by talking to your mirror (yes, it works!)

        After you do the analysis and talk with your boss, then based on boss’s response, you’ll be able to figure out if you have a crappy job and a crappy boss, or whether you and your boss can make enough adjustments to have your job be manageable and tolerable. Not all jobs are loveable, but many can be good enough.

        Also, if you keep doing more than your share over and over, you will be asked to do even more. Figure out what’s reasonable, then say to your boss “I can do A, B, and C, but not D. If D is higher priority, which of the other ones shall I take off my plate/extend the date/hand off to Thurston?”

        A couple of old sayings:
        -You can’t fit 25 pounds of horse manure in a 10 pound bag”
        Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two.

    17. RagingADHD*

      It doesn’t sound like your work is very likeable! There are probably things you can do to get it back under control.

      Most employers/bosses will rely on you to speak up if your workload is unreasonable. When you’re being assigned work, it is normal and expected to have a conversation about priorities and deadlines. This doesn’t have to be a big dramatic thing, it’s just logistics and project planning.

      “I have X and Y due this week, so I won’t be able to start on Z until Monday. Does that work, or should we push back one of the other items?”

    18. Sparrow*

      No, absolutely nothing is wrong with you for not enjoying work. It’s true that some people live to work and love what they do, but it’s also true that many of us are literally only there for the paycheck. It took me a while after graduating to accept this about myself because I’d been taught that career should be central to my life and identity, but once I did, I prioritized finding a job that allowed true work-life balance, and I’m much happier as a result.

      I always look for jobs that I’ll be satisfied with, of course – work I don’t mind and am good at, positive office culture, etc. because while I’m not looking to be in love with my job, I don’t want to hate it, either. But a 40 hour work week is always the top priority so that I have time for the parts of life that the job is there to fund. I had an opportunity to apply for a job doing work I genuinely enjoyed, and I decided to pass because it also involved a lot of late hours and it just wasn’t worthwhile to me.

      It is entirely possible that the work isn’t a great fit for you, or you’ve got other things going on that make work harder to deal with, or that you’ve just had bad luck with companies and you’d like the job just fine with reasonable hours (and I do recommend talking to your boss about balancing your work load, if possible). But if it turns out that work just isn’t something you get a lot of enjoyment or fulfillment from – that’s fine. Truly. If therapy is an option, it might be helpful in identifying what you find unsatisfactory about the job and thus help you make strategic decisions about what to address with your boss and/or what to look for in a future job.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Huh… LOL! Funny but I was just having this thought myself today.
      I’ve worked in some form of marketing for the last 25 years. Lately, I have just been feeling really down and disgusted with the state of marketing and corporate life in general. Literally, like everyone from every department thinks they are a marketing expert and can do a better job marketing than marketing. I don’t tell my dentist how to do a root canal. Or tell legal how to write a contract. Or tell finance how to do taxes. So quit telling us how to do marketing.

      Hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but corporate life doesn’t get much better the longer you’re in it ‘folks.

    20. TechWorker*

      Specifically RE: feeling hopeless staring down 30 years of the same/assuming promotions will make it worse… I’ve definitely felt that and have to some extent come out the other side.

      I do honestly believe that it’s possible to work smarter and not harder, and if you’re getting burnt out on something entry level then probably either a) you’re being assigned an unreasonable amount of stuff or b) there’s something else going on that means things are taking an unreasonable amount of time (Eg, you need more training in some areas, or you’re worrying about quality TOO much, or you’re spending a lot of time panicking). a) you need to talk to your manager about but it’s worth thinking about b) too and things in that category *do* improve over time generally. (Eg, things that at one point seem really difficult/stressful/time consuming can get easier when you’re more used to them).

  14. meep*

    I just remotely started a job based on the west coast but I’m remaining on the east coast until new job has in-person work again. Anyone have advice on keeping the time zones straight in you head? So far I’ve managed but it feels like it adds up to a lot of extra mental labor, and I keep compulsively checking my calendar to make sure I haven’t missed a meeting! Thanks :)

    1. geography major*

      I don’t know if this will work for you, but it may help to start adding “PT” and “ET” every time you are talking about times, even to say it aloud. I have had a few jobs with people in 3 time zones and started doing this, it helped!

      You can also start putting both times if you ever have a need to write it down (in an email you could say – “We’re still on for the meeting at 10am PT/1pm ET, right?”). No one is ever going to complain about too much detail when it comes to confirming times, since the outcome is that everyone is on the same page

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Yeah, my team is split between east and west coast and we always put both time zones (sometimes three if the UK office is getting looped in on something) any time scheduling or timelines are discussed. It makes things MUCH easier for everyone. It’ll take a little practice, doing the add/subtract three hours thing will become second nature pretty quickly.

      2. gsa*

        Make everybody use Zulu time!!!

        I did it once for an online game. Once you’ve got it down it’s easy.

    2. KeepingItPacific*

      Over the summer, I moved to Central from Pacific while keeping my west coast-based job. I’ve found it helpful to keep my work laptop set to Pacific time. I never talk about anything in terms of Central time for work. The only thing that sometimes gets confusing is when I’m discussing my schedule for the day with my husband. Sometimes I’ll tell him I have a meeting at 10 when it’s 11 here.

      1. johnsnowspumphandle*

        Seconding this! I was only one time zone off, but my laptop didn’t allow me to adjust the time which wound up being a blessing in disguise.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        Amplifying this one!
        It’s like theater directions: stage left and stage right are for the actors facing the audience, not the director sitting in the audience. It’s easier for one person to think backwards than fifty. To shift, change your work computer to Pacific. Also, if you are one of those old schoolers and have a watch or a wall clock, set those back too. Keep your ET cell out of the way.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I work with people across all US time zones, and we default to trying arrange meetings w/ ET and I write ET after each time I give a time.

      But if everyone you work with is in the pacific time zone, can you just set your calendar and computer to PT and think of all your work in pacific time?

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      If you use Outlook, that program lets you set up two time zones, so when you look at your calendar you see when an appointment is in both the Pacific and Eastern time zones. I assume Google calendar has a similar feature. It was a huge lifesaver for me when my boss and most of my coworkers were in a different time zone.

      1. A Person*

        Google calendar lets you “display secondary timezone” on your calendar so that also helps me a lot when trying to plan meetings.

    5. Too Many Timezones*

      I usually work in the EST timezone with coworkers in Germany but I’m now working from MST. Here’s what I’ve been using to keep things sorted:

      – I keep my laptop on EST.

      – On Windows 10, you can set up two other clocks on your desktop so that when you hover over the time in the toolbar it can show your machine time plus the two additional time zones

      – In Google Calendar under settings, you can add a second timezone for the times along the side of the calendar.

      -In Google Calendar, there’s also a World clock setting that can be set up for multiple timezones.

    6. Hillary*

      I work across a lot of time zones. I remember people and physical places best (literally what the room looks like), so I mentally associate people with their physical locations and those locations with their time zones. The people who work for this vendor in the US live in Indiana in the eastern time zone, except so-and-so is remote and he lives in central time. That usually triggers me to think about time zones when scheduling or joining meetings.

      I also rely a lot on Outlook, especially during summer time/daylight savings time transition weeks. It’s fun to work with people in every continental US time zone, multiple European time zones, and five different Asian time zones.

      I’m really not a morning person, so in your shoes I’d probably consider taking the morning after spring daylight savings time off. I don’t think I could get up early enough for PST meetings that day without being very grumpy.

    7. pancakes*

      An app. You don’t need to download a new one if you have an iPhone – you can add cities to the World Clock by tapping the + in the upper right corner. I’m sure there are free apps for other phones.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I used to coordinate meetings with folks overseas and now often coordinate with the East and West coast while I’m in Central. I got in the habit of always listing all meeting times in every timezone, so everyone can make sure the math is correct. The only really tricky bit is when the US and the UK or other places change to summer time on different weeks. So the interval will be different during those changeovers.

      Google Calendar (and I assume Outlook does this too) automatically converts to your local timezone. So I just make sure the times are correct when we schedule it, and then run off my own calendar.

      To avoid compulsive calendar checking, I set LOTS of very intrusive alarms – notifications for the meeting itself, and then in the morning I set a loud physical alarm in my home. Then I can be sure I won’t miss the thing, so I can relax.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Before computers, people use to keep clocks on the wall. Each clock was labeled for its time zone.
      I would have to do this, I’d have to have something right in front of me at all times serving as a reference point.

      1. TheHotNerd*

        lol… I used to wonder why there were different clocks for times. Couldn’t you just add/subtract the time in your head?

        And then I began working, via state department, at places where they were 30 min off the normal hour-off. And then I conceded. :)

    10. Rara Avis*

      The silver lining of doing everything virtually is that I get invited to a lot of events I could never get to in person. The lead lining? People don’t indicate the time zone (“Starts at 8 a.m.!”) and they aren’t west-coast friendly. (“Do this training that starts after work!” Yes, in your time zone — at 5 p.m. Eastern I’m still at work, thanks.) I think we all need to get in the habit of adding time zone indicators on a regular basis.

    11. Otter Dance*

      I twice worked with people who shifted their schedule. People in Britain who worked primarily with the US office worked afternoons and evenings instead of normal hours for GMT. The folks in India essentially traded day for night. (For a pittance. Don’t get me started on the evils of outsourcing.)
      Would it be practical for you to stay on Pacific time? It actually sounds wonderful to me: sleeping three hours later, watching the late night talk shows without falling asleep in the middle….

  15. zinzarin*

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

    How long would you say this rule applies? I’ve only ever submitted one question, and it was never answered, but I was curious at the time as to how long it would take to potentially see an answer.

    In fact, I’d love to know more about the answering process. Do you typically email back and forth with the questioner before publishing? Does the questioner ever know at any point (prior to publication) that their question will be getting an answer?

    Some questions seem like they probably need a quick response; how quick can the turnaround be if you choose to publish an answer to a question?

    1. Snip Snap Snip Snap*

      I had a question posted on here prior and there was a bit of back and forth for clarification. And then she sent an email with a link to the question and answer and the time that it would go live on the website.

    2. Chilipepper*

      I had a question answered. It was answered pretty quickly (within 5 days I think). There was no back and forth but she sent me an email with a heads up of the day it would be published so I could join in and answer any questions from the community.

    3. DivineMissL*

      I’ve submitted two questions to AAM and both were published. I received an email from Alison that told me the letters would be published, and on what day (I got the email a day or two before publication).

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The turnaround can be anywhere from one day to many months. (I’ve answered things the very next day and I’ve answered things an embarrassing number of months later, figuring it’ll still be useful to others.) The majority take at least a few weeks, if not longer, but it really depends. It’s not first come, first served; it’s based on what I’m inspired to write on at a particular moment, my sense of how it’ll fit into the mix of recent posts, etc. A lot of things are never answered because I get way more mail each day than I can answer.

      I’ll occasionally email with the person to clarify details but that’s more the exception. If I do publish a question, I send the person a link.

    5. Ocean*

      Once I submitted a question, and at the top I said ‘please tell me if I should put this on open thread instead.’ Alison answered pretty quickly that yes, my question should go on the open thread.
      Of course this won’t work for all questions, but it might be a good idea for questions that you would prefer to ask on the open thread vs not getting any answer.

  16. Resume A/B Tester??*

    Has anyone ever A/B test resume formats?

    I’ve received a lot of suggestions from people about how to format my resume. In particular, people have varying opinions on what information is above the start of the reverse chronological job history section. 
    Please see the options I have and let me know your thoughts.

    Resume Option 1:
    Professional Summary: 1-2 sentences, tailored with relevant experience
    Relevant Experience: Reverse chronological job history with employer highlighted and an average of four quantifiable achievement bullets each
    Technical Skills: Variety of computer programs tied to the job/job description
    Professional Certifications: List those required for the position
    Professional Associations: Professional development group memberships
    Education: recent degrees and the bachelor’s degree

    Resume Option 2:
    Professional Summary: Centered and 2-3 sentences long and mimics the language of the job description (years of experience, software used, required skills)
    Technical Skills: Centered list of computer programs separated by bullets, broken from following section by a black line
    Professional Accomplishments: Three quantifiable achievements tied to position listed, separated from next section by a black line
    Professional Experience: Reverse chronological list starting with position title bolded and italicize with three quantifiable achievement bullets each, separated from next part by a black line
    Professional Associations: Professional development group memberships, separated from next section by a black line
    Education and Training: centered with education, then certifications listed

    I’m not crazy about the second option but am open to trying it. 

    What are your thoughts AAM commenters? 

    1. Zephy*

      I have my skills above my work experience as in option 2, but you can probably dispense with the professional summary – that sounds similar to an “objective” statement, which has been out of fashion for a while now.

    2. should i apply?*

      Personally I like the first option better. I am also in the process of updating my resume, and have wondered about doing some sort of A/B testing. However, I decided that seemed like a lot of extra work for probably minimal gain.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I would only separate “professional accomplishments” and “professional experience” if there is a specific reason to, for example you do specialized teapot design that can be better described as a whole because it was freelance for four different different employers, as opposed to a track record of raising teapot sales 15% at Teapots Incorporated. For the latter, it seems odd to me that you would separate accomplishments out from where you made the accomplishments.

      Similarly, if technical skills are highly relevant to the job — they would never hire someone who hadn’t taken Teapot Course A and Teapot Course B — then it’s great to have that right at the top, but that’s because the person doing the hiring needs to know right off the bat rather than because it looks cool (I get very impatient if the applicant is presenting say, spreadsheet expertise before I can tell if they’ve even worked at a teapot factory before).

      Hiring managers really do just take a few moments to skim and see if they can easily find the information they need. So if there is a reason to mix up the formating by making something important more prominent for the person reading it, it’s smart to consider it. But if it’s just because a friend who doesn’t have experience in your industry likes it another way, I wouldn’t worry about it very much.

    4. A Person*

      As a hiring manager who does resume screening I prefer the first option. You can get away with technical skills above experience if it doesn’t take up much room, but I want to see your accomplishments by position. That said if you have a resume that matches with what I’m looking for I’m not sure it’s going to matter deeply. Biggest risk with option #2 is I might skip the accomplishments to get to experience and miss something important.

      Another thought: could that professional summary from #2 just be included as part of a cover letter?

      1. Resume A/B Tester??*

        Thanks for sharing your insights. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some follow-up questions.

        1. Should I eliminate the Professional Summary section entirely? Is there a preference for length?

        2. Do you believe contract positions should be their own section below the Relevant Experience?

        3. What order–job title or employer–should be listed first for each position?

        4. Should certifications be their own section or be included with education?

        5. How important do you believe it is for the resume to contain words, phrases and even sentences taken directly from the job description? Are resumes stronger if they use some terms and leave the phrases and sentences for the cover letter and/or interview itself?

        Thanks for taking time to read and comment! I genuinely value your input.

        1. A Person*

          1. I would, but it’s also fine to just put a 1 sentence summary. I don’t know if there are some fields where it’s common
          2. I’ve always put contract positions in chronological order with the rest of the experience assuming they are in the same field
          3-4. Now we’re getting into details I don’t think about much :)
          5. The most important thing is to tailor the cover letter and your experiences to the job. Sometimes using the same words or phrases (I’d avoid sentences) helps you do that so that’s where I’d recommend it. This is most important if there are a few different ways of saying something. Like if the job ad asks for Llama Grooming experience, and at your company you call it Llama Brushing, maybe change to Llama Grooming *if you are sure it’s the same*.

          1. Resume A/B Tester??*

            Thanks so much!

            Three and four are areas where differently trained certified resume writers disagree. One argued that your job title is more important than where you worked, while the other insisted the company reputation and size were important enough to warrant the employer listed first.

            For certifications, one preferred they be directly behind skills and have their own section because of the ongoing education aspect and the expiration being listed. The second set of eyes believes anything tied to education belongs at the end of the resume under one heading.

            I’m trying to find someone in my field to review both versions, but it’s proving difficult to find someone willing who has sufficient time and experience.

            Again, I appreciate your suggestions.

  17. Just Here for the Cake*

    Any suggestions of productive, low/no cost things to do during downtimes at work? I work as a corporate trainer, and because of the nature of my work I’ll have weeks where I am really busy followed by days (or sometimes weeks) where there is nothing going on. I always check in with my supervisor and coworkers to see if there is anything I can help with or try to come up with projects I can work on, but a lot of the times I feel like I am really scrapping the bottom of the barrel. I appreciate being able to take it slow some days, but I get so bored when I have nothing for long periods of time. Any suggestions?

    1. FearNot*

      Try to take a lynda/linkedinlearning course on something interesting to you? My work provides it for free, and I do this sometimes. There are so many options on it! Your local library might also give you access to it.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I went through an online degree program and I did almost all of my classes during lunch breaks and down time. If you find a topic you are interested in, you can learn so much in just an hour a day!

      2. Chilipepper*

        I came here to say this – your library will have some free online learning even if it is not LinkedIn Learning.

        But also, I have been tempted to bring my crochet projects to work!

    2. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

      Some ideas:
      – sort out some of the training related data (e.g. attendance, feedbacks, audience scores…etc) that you might have gathered during your courses in a presentation, which might be useful for reporting to bosses on how you have been doing in the year
      – reach out to the office on subjects they might be interested in getting more training on and branch out your work
      – develop training plans for the team

      1. motherofdragons*

        I second these ideas. Relatedly, you might go back through your catalog of training and start to look for anything that needs to be updated due to changes in policy, practice, etc.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Are you looking for quasi work-related or skill building things? Or just any sort of quick fun activity that could occupy your time?
      1. Learn CSS, HTML, Bootstrap, programming languages
      2. Learn new tricks in Excel, PowerPoint, software that you use
      3. Read the news
      4. Edit Wikipedia, bonus points for editing pages about figures or topics in your field (particularly women and BIPOC)
      5. Learn a language
      6. Check out LinkedIn Learning, Khan Academy, or your local public library to see what kinds of online courses interest you

      Hobbies (non work):
      1. Coloring, knitting, cross-stitching, crafting
      2. Listen to podcasts
      3. Make all your household lists – grocery, chores, to-do, to-buy, to-fix
      4. Write letters
      5. Read for fun
      6. Puzzles (my personal favorite, and when I worked as a grad student in a college archives, we always had a puzzle going for when we needed a break)

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I always used the time to review & revise old training materials & try to think of new ones we might need. (As a trainer, I worked on both development & delivery). Otherwise, this is the time to take training yourself & work on professional development projects.

    5. HB*

      See if your library has professional improvement e-books you can read… or even better, e-audiobooks you can listen to while doing hands-on tasks. If not, there are some great, free podcasts out there on the same subject. Since you’re a trainer, I imagine stuff about motivating others, leading, and generally handling difficult situations (like pandemics) would be in your wheelhouse.

    6. JHB*

      I agree with everyone on the opportunity to develop new skills or review extra material. But even that can get old. 1) Can you discretely find other project teams that need extra help? For example, right now my organization has a complicated project where they are BEGGING staff from other divisions to help with document review, proofing, stakeholder engagement. Once you investigate and find an opportunity, approach your manager.
      2) Can you extend your services as a trainer for your professional community or in a voluntary basis? This can be a great way to polish your own skills or test out beta material.
      3) Are there underserved areas of your company that might need help with training? HR, customers? There are often those low priority areas where “if we ever have the time”.

      You likely have writing and speaking skills that could be used in many areas. The trick is finding short term “jobs’ that fit your slack areas.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Organizing and systematizing my work is always helpful. Sometimes that means cleaning up my inbox and adding or archiving folders. Sometimes it means making templates or checklists for recurring tasks or project phases. Sometimes it means brainstorming ways to optimize workflow.

  18. D*

    I got a job offer this week! I am trying my hand at salary negotiations and trying to not freak out as I wait for their response.

  19. Hmmm*

    I can’t decide between two offers!

    Job A:
    – national retail/e-commerce brand
    – 1 yr term (with potential to be converted permanent. In fact, everyone on the team started out on the same w2 1 year contract and was made permanent after)
    – 56k
    – no paid vacation or holidays
    – I’d ONLY do email marketing and nothing else
    – I really liked the team, and it just seemed like a fun job
    – but I might not like my direct manager. She’s new to managing and didn’t have very good responses when I asked her about her managing/training style.

    Job B:
    – Big marketing agency
    – permanent role
    – 40K
    – do ALL sorts of marketing (particular focus on executing paid ads), good learning experience
    – not passionate about the work, but also not sure if I’ll even like the work cos I’ve never done it before.
    – tons of OT (which I don’t like)
    – most people seem to get promoted after 1 year or move onto a higher role at another company
    – manager seemed lovely. We had a lot in common and seemed to click.
    – unlimited PTO

    Health benefits are pretty similar, although I’d say Job B ‘s health insurance options are slightly better. I see both as stepping stones onto better opportunities within digital marketing, but Job A seems to limit me only to email marketing or retail e-commerce marketing, whereas Job B can lead to more broad opportunities?

    My heart says job A but I feel like logically I should be job B? Even tho my gut feeling says I won’t be as happy at job B??

    1. Junior*

      Curious to know, why do you think the logical answer is Job B? Looks like Job A pays significantly better, so for a lot of people that’s the number one consideration.

      1. Zephy*

        Job A is just a 12-month contract, though. Even if “everyone” starts out on contract and gets hired on fully later, that’s a bit of a gamble, especially now. No PTO would also give me pause. Also, the concern about the narrower scope of Job A vs the broader scope of Job B is valid.

      2. Hmmm*

        I live in a very expensive city, where you would have to make at least 90K to be able to live comfortably. I’ve talked to my spouse about these offers, and we both agreed that the 16K difference isn’t going to make a huge impact in the short term and that I need to focus on finding the job that will give me the most potential to grow going forward.

        Background info: I am in my late twenties, switching from non profit career to digital marketing. Non profit world didn’t pay well and had no room for me to advance. So, now I feel like it’s crucial to find the perfect launching pad job in marketing, because I’m already so far behind my peers.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          In that case, I’m voting job B, if you could put up with the OT for a year. The wider variety would help you figure out what direction you want to take your career–if you’re only doing email marketing, you might end up pigeonholing yourself.

    2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Can you explain “logically”? Is it because you see B as a more broad opportunity?

      You mention “most”. Is that 51% most or is that 99% most. There’s a significant pay difference, one has a lot of OT (I’m assuming you’d be compensated for OT?), one has unlimited PTO (does that make up for the difference in the salary to you?).

      1. Hmmm*

        Yes, job B can offer more skills and experience in the overall digital marketing world, which I feel is crucial in an entry level job that can open more doors for me.

        In the marketing agency world, it’s incredibly common to be promoted from associate to senior associate within 1-1.5 years. I can’t place a specific percentage, but it’s super common. The OT is compensated, but still doesn’t quite match Job A’s offer. And personally, I’m not super fond of the unlimited PTO policy, but I suppose it’s better than no paid vacation/holiday?

        1. Bobina*

          From your other comments, I would lean towards job B purely because it gives you broader experience which you can then use to decide if you want to focus on a specific area or not. I dont know the field enough, but would job A be pigeonholing you early on?

          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Absolutely agree with Bobina here. I’m now leaning towards B based on other information provided as well.

    3. Bear Shark*

      My heart says Job A, but with lots of hesitation about the no paid vacation/holidays. Will you be allowed and financially able to take unpaid time off? Are you contract through an agency (so someone else is paying the employer side of taxes, it’s just not e-commerce brand) or is it individual contractor? If you’re paying self-employment taxes that’s really going to eat into the salary differential.

      On Job B are you salaried with no OT pay or would you at least get OT pay? Clicking with the manager is a plus as well but if they promote people quickly you might end up under someone else. I feel like unlimited PTO is kind of a scam, especially in places with tons of OT.

      1. Hmmm*

        Job A is a contract through an agency, so it’s a W2 position with the agency. No need to worry about paying taxes on my own.

        Job B – I agree, I am not fond of the unlimited PTO policy, as people tend to take less PTO and don’t get paid out at the end. 40K is the base salary, but any OT hours would be paid time and a half. HR mentioned this would amount to about 45K-47K total.

    4. A penguin!*

      all of the permanent team starting on the same 1-yr contract isn’t much of a data point, unless you know how many 1-yr contracts didn’t make that conversion.

      between the PTO difference and the OT, the salaries are probably a lot closer than they look as-stated.

      Having said both of those things, it sounds like you prefer job A. Absent a REALLY compelling counter-argument (e.g. if you couldn’t live on the job A salary but could on B) I would take the job I was looking forward to over the meh one almost any day.

      caveat: if you’re particularly new to the work (doesn’t say in your post), I’d be more hesitant to go into a job with a manager who couldn’t articulate answers to questions about training. I’m less worried about not getting an answer about managing style – I always ask about it in my own interviews, but I’ve found even some of the good managers I’ve known/had can’t always answer that one well.

    5. Roja*

      Everyone here seems to be going to for job A, but I dunno, job B looks stronger to me. Less pay, of course, but slightly better health benefits, better stepping stone in the future, better (WAY better) time off, and a good manager. That pay probably levels off somewhat when you add in the holidays/PTO from job B too. Job A might feel more fun from a first look, but will it still be more fun after a year of never taking a single day off (even holidays, what the heck) and a manager who doesn’t know how to manage?

    6. Autumnheart*

      As someone who works for a national retailer in e-commerce, I would absolutely take Job A. First, it pays more. Second, it’s a year contract, so if your manager does suck, you can leave–but she might just be new, and turn out to be okay. (Especially if you ~casually~ mention reading this column.) And third, the name recognition of having worked for that type of company will open you up to a *lot* of positions at similar companies. Retail loves retail experience. Email marketing is also particularly useful, especially if you get to learn how to use something like Salesforce very well–also highly desirable skills.

      1. Hmmm*

        I’m so glad someone in the field read my comment!! Do you feel there’s security in retail/ecomm jobs? I understand that 2020 increased ecomm sales exponentially, but I do wonder about the sustainability of these jobs going forward.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Yes, I do. Absolutely. Physical space is expensive, and the larger retailers are looking at ways to optimize their physical footprint while depending on their online channels to broaden their catalog. It’s a lot easier to make sales efficiently if you just save store space for the things people really want, and keep the majority of your huge-ass catalog of books/movies/video games/vacuum filters/phone cases online only, or ship-to-store.

          I really enjoy this field a lot and have been working in it for 16 years. It’s interesting AF and you learn a lot about the logistics of getting a lot of things to a lot of people. And as I noted, once you work for *a* big retailer, other companies in the industry/similar industries will consider you quite valuable. One example would be healthcare, another would be government.

    7. A Person*

      I’m adjacent to these fields, and another thing to consider is you often have a lot more flexibility of how to direct projects when you’re “in house” vs when you’re at an agency.

      One thing that’s missing from the above for me is whether you have a preference for email marketing vs paid ads (or if you know). If Job A seems fun to you because email marketing seems more fun I say go for that! You can definitely make a career around email marketing (I’ve worked with plenty of marketers with that focus). I’m not in marketing myself so maybe someone else can weigh in on how likely you are to be able to “change your mind” later.

      1. Hmmm*

        My ideal goal is to work in-house, but considering both of these are entry level roles, I won’t have much autonomy to make decisions, so that flexibility on making project decisions isn’t super applicable to me.

        I forgot to mention that Job A is SUPER niche. I would only be working on QAing marketing emails, not the content creation or actual marketing/strategizing. As for the Job B, I have no idea if I would enjoy the work since I’ve never done it before. I know I have the skills to excel, but I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy it.

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      Which one do you think better aligns with your long term goals? Have you worked for an agency before? Agency experience is very valuable for marketing professionals. Also consider how broad are your skills currently? The Agency job could broaden your skill set. How well known is the retailer? Is it a big reputable name with strong marketing content? Do you already have broad skills and now looking to specialize in email/direct to consumer marketing?

      1. Hmmm*

        Great questions! Background info: I am in my late twenties, switching from non profit career to digital marketing. Non profit world didn’t pay well and had no room for me to advance. So, now I feel like it’s crucial to find the perfect launching pad job in marketing, because I’m already so far behind my peers.

        My long term goals are really broad – I basically want to work in digital marketing or ecommerce, but I don’t have a specific set goal in mind. I’ve never worked at an agency before, but I think my end goal is to work in-house one day. As you mentioned, my marketing skills currently are really limited since I am switching from a completely different sector, so the agency route as a media planning associate might be the best option for me at this stage.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m old school. I would always take B because the uncertainty of benefits-free temp work gives me hives.

    10. ???*

      If you’re wanting this to be a launching pad to start your future career, wouldn’t it make sense to go for the job that has bigger name recognition and more types of different marketing for you to learn? Especially if money isn’t an issue?
      Plus even though you may not like the unlimited pto policy it’s better than the nothing the other job is offering.

      1. Hmmm*

        I would argue that Job A has a bigger national name recognition (household brand), but Job B has big name recognition only within the marketing world. But yes, I think you’re right. Job B will have more types of marketing outlets and projects for me to advance further.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Well, it’s a contract position, 1099 presumably. And while OP might not get paid vacation, they also wouldn’t be working a bunch of unpaid overtime either.

        1. Hmmm*

          Job A is a W2 position. The contract is done through a temp agency, so I would be considered a temp employee of the agency. Hourly position, OT eligible (but OT is very rare).

          Job B is permanent W2. 40K is the base salary, and any OT is time and a half.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Well, that’s actually good in both cases. In Job A, even if the contract didn’t lead to a hire, you’d qualify for unemployment. Job B, at least you’d get paid for all your hours.

            At this point I think it really just depends on what kind of work you want to do!

    11. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      Find some quiet time, clear your mind then think about working at Job A. Note how you feel. Then think about working at Job B. Note how you feel. Go with the one that doesn’t make you want to vomit when you think about working there.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Big agencies are a thing unto themselves and can be cutthroat and demanding and low paid. However, they often offer the opportunity to learn A LOT because you’ll be working on different accounts and doing different, often more cutting edge things, and sometimes later this “agency experience” can help you land a better in-house role down the road. Big companies hire agencies for a reason.

      Job A sounds like you’ll be focusing on one specific thing, but it’s higher paid now.

      It kind of depends on you goal, but if money right now is your main concern, I get taking A. Or, if you are drawn to the retail aspect. But if you’re drawn to learning more overall, spending some time at an agency can be beneficial when building your career.

  20. Giddyup*

    I’m having serious guilt over the fact that I got a bonus this year, but my one of my coworkers reached out to say he hadn’t gotten one (before I had my comp meeting so at that point I assumed none of us would get one). I know the budget was tight and I’m surprised I got anything, but I got the same amount as last year. They’re tied to performance and tbf I know he’s had issues pre-pandemic (even comments from other teams), but the guilt comes from the fact that he has two kids and his partner works outside the home. I don’t have to provide childcare while I’m working and as a result typically take on way more work-not always by choice. I even had to ask for the work to be distributed more evenly because I was working round the clock. Still, I feel pretty bad. This person cares about his work even if he struggles a bit, and he’s also working round the clock with work and domestic duties. Should I feel bad, or if not is there a way to stop beating myself up?

    1. Kittens&Ponies*

      It’s based on performance so why should you feel guilty? If he worked very hard and did fabulous work, that would be unfortunate he didn’t receive a bonus but you still shouldn’t feel guilty because the decision wasn’t yours. Also, people who chose to have kids aren’t more deserving or entitled to money than those who did not.

    2. Observer*

      I suspect that the issue is not that he’s not working around the clock. There are plenty of families with young children where both partners work outside the home, where the parents do excellent work. So, if he was struggling to get his work done before the pandemic either your company piles on too much or he is just not that good. In neither case do you have anything to feel guilty about.

      Although if the issue is that the place is not reasonable in how they allocate work (which sounds possible based on what you’ve described) factor that in when you think about your long term goals.

      1. Giddyup*

        Thanks for this perspective. Your last paragraph is accurate but I’m happy to say that the issue got better once I talked to management (using advice from this column). I can see our pipeline and I and one other person really took the brunt of our end-of-year crunch. They’ve since updated their process and actively solicit feedback on it to ensure everything is divided equally.

    3. Annabeth Nass*

      There’s no reason for you to feel guilty because you didn’t make the decision about the bonuses. If it will help you feel less guilty, you could use some of the money to send him (possibly anonymously) some treats for his family, but it’s certainly not necessary.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Try not to feel guilty – it may be that he had more distractions / outside responsibilities so working from home / working in a pandemic was harder for him than for you, but:

      1. You didn’t make the decisions about bonuses, you getting one is not the reason he didn’t get one

      2. He had issues before the pandemic, so it’s not surprising that he hasn’t qualified for a bonus, and may well not have done so even if Covid hadn’t happened

      3. You have done more / extra work to help take up the slack from people who were less able or less willing. And whatever the reasons for others under performing, it’s fair that you should get some reward for working above and beyond.

    5. Anon4This*

      I also received a bonus this year, though most people at my organization did not. One reason that I got one, other than strong performance, was that I stepped in extensively for someone who simultaneously had a major performance failing and then had a family emergency that prevented them from being the one to right the ship, so to speak. They needed to be with their family, not at work, and I made sure that no one called them during the month-plus they were off – but it was brutal on me both in terms of time and in taking the brunt of the heat for someone else’s failure.

      I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with rewarding the people who are picking up the slack from people waylaid by personal responsibilities, especially if their pre-pandemic performance wasn’t great. I have several folks on my team who have small children and are more badly affected by the pandemic than those of us with older (or no) children. My organization has been very flexible with them, but that means someone had to handle that work to give the flexibility. I have no problem with them being first on the bonus list.

    6. Maggie*

      You did more work, and better! thats what bonuses are for! He still got his regular pay so thats what salaries are for. No need to feel guilty!

      1. Chilipepper*

        This is a great answer! I understand Giddyup’s feelings that she was able to do more bc fewer family obligations so it looked like she did more (she did!) and so got the bonus. But that is exactly what a bonus is for! Honestly, there is no need to feel guilty.

      2. Unfettered scientist*

        exactly! I think bonuses are exactly the kind of recognition that employees who pick up extra slack should receive. The fact that you got bonus is not taking anything away from your coworker.

      3. Giddyup*

        Thank you and the rest of the commenters! This one hits home-I think I was viewing bonuses as part of compensation because in normal times they’re a given. But you’re right- he still gets his salary and I’m getting compensated for extra work I put in. I know this sounds weird but I wasn’t thinking about it that way.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Your guilt is misplaced. You didn’t take the bonus away from him. It’s only natural to feel compassion and concern for someone who’s struggling to care for their family. That’s empathy, and it’s a good thing.

      But there are very good reasons why employers are no longer allowed to give bonuses or raises just because “he has a family to look after.” It has to be based on performance, because the other system just exacerbated discrimination and income inequality.

  21. FearNot*

    Any ideas on how to get people to leave you alone when you’re in a zoom meeting but have a glass door to your office? I’ve been locking my door and putting up a sign, but I’ve had multiple coworkers knock on the door until I answer since they can see me right there. I think “sign blindness” is in play, as they always seem apologetic.

      1. FearNot*

        Hmm, it just says “In a meeting [time frame]”, I didn’t think about putting something like Do Not Disturb on there. I’ll give it a shot! Thanks.

        1. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

          Maybe also print it in bigger font and different colours. Some people might have not seen it clearly and assumed it was your title card or a generic poster.

          1. Policy Wonk*

            +1. I would also have a few different signs and change them up from meeting to meeting. As you noted, some people are blind to signs that have been there for a while. Thus if yesterday’s was in blue with an emoji, today’s green with a photo will be noticed. Different sizes or shapes might also help.

        2. CTT*

          I’ve found making that distinction works – I also have glass walls in my office and a lot of people in my office have conference calls where they may be on mute the whole time, so that has led to a culture of “if you look like you’re not leading the call, I will knock and see if I can slip in and drop off something for you”

    1. Web Crawler*

      Tape a bright piece of paper to a stick that says I’M IN A MEETING or PLEASE COME BACK LATER. Hold it up when somebody knocks on your door. (This is only a halfway serious suggestion)

    2. Zephy*

      Is the door entirely glass or does it just have a window? Are you able to cover the window somehow, with blinds or paper or something?

        1. Admin of Sys*

          Any chance you can hang a curtain to let you optionally opaque the entire door? Or a really long blind to pull down? Folks may not ‘notice’ the sign, but if the entire door is blocked off, it may cue them in a bit more.

        2. LegendaryBobcatTaxidermy**

          they also make stick on film that blurs the glass – you can get a roll and cut to size. search “frosted privacy window film” – you just wet it and stick it on there. easy to peel off, doesn’t leave any glue or anything either. it’s about $25 for a roll.

          1. Grace Less*

            Management at my office would lose their minds if anyone covered the glass. They are exceptionally proud of the human terrariums.
            We don’t have issues with interruptions because there is zero soundproofing, so the whole wing knows when you’re in a Zoom meeting…

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Yep, when I was in my cube on a call and someone walked over I would point at my headset and shake my head. That usually got the point across pretty well. If you aren’t wearing a headset, then maybe point at your monitor or even just your ear? The head shake is really the important part. Along with adding “Do Not Disturb” or something to your sign should work together pretty well.

        Some folks will still be oblivious, but that should help with your average knockers who are just going on impulse.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I’d put a big red ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ and then put – meeting in progress – please do not knock or enter’ underneath.

      Make sure to remove it when the meeting is over – maybe even have an alternate one that’s in green and says ‘Please knock and enter’ – people may react better to having two distinct alternatives !

      Sadly people do ignore signs -I normally have my door open, except when it’s really cold. I made a sign which says the door is closed for warmth, please come in if you need me – and still get people leaving things outside the door for me rather than either knocking or coming in !

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It says they have been locking the door. The goal is to stop people knocking anyway, despite the already present sign.

    4. JHB*

      Display the sign at eye level, use bright colors, and explicitly include: “DO NOT DISTURB”. You might also want to search Google for “Do not disturb signs, virtual meeting” and then look at IMAGES. Lots of examples.

      I generally add graphics, likely the “Shhhhh” smiley face or a picture of a person with headphones in a meeting.

      Do you want/like having clear glass? If you want to cover it or maybe break it up, there are many kinds of privacy film that make for a nice option. Here’s one example:

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      All these plus the bonus of following up after the meeting with a “Dude, really?” to the knocker.
      A small amount of embarrassment goes a long way.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Let them knock as long as they want… do you use a headset (so it won’t be audible to the people on the other end of the call)? If asked about it later, “sorry I must not have heard you knocking as I was on a call” I think you would only need to do this once or twice to get the message through.

  22. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

    Question to folks, if you send out an invite to your colleagues to contribute to some boss mandated fun (in this case, a company fun photo montage board), and you aren’t getting much entries, do you send out a reminder? Or do you just accept the entries you already have and count those as a small win?
    Out of 60 staff members, I only got 5 entries (counting my own). I kinda want to send out a reminder (hey guys remember to gimme your photos), but 1) I don’t want to nag a bunch of grown ass adults 2) it’s not that important 3) maybe they just aren’t interested. But on the other hand, 5 entries would make the montage board look a bit pathetic.

    1. Web Crawler*

      I appreciate follow up emails for fun things. The organizer in my office sends them and it makes me more likely to contribute, especially when I saw the first email and wanted to join but immediately forgot.

      1. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

        Man, thanks for the vote of confidence Web Crawler. Guess there is no harm in sending one reminder. :-)

    2. ladymacdeath*

      I think one reminder is acceptable! Also if you can ask people in person/over the phone/after a meeting/over Zoom, that will probably be more fruitful than a faceless email! Just keep it super nice and pleasant and don’t nag.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Are any of the 5 entries particularly interesting? If you can point to it as in, “we’ve had a picture of [insert example] and can’t wait to see what else is out there” it may encourage people to think about a specific entry of their own.

      Don’t go overboard though, a follow up email is completely warranted but you don’t want it to be eight paragraphs long either.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I’d say on follow up is OK, but don’t chase beyond that. It will catch those who are willing to / intended to join in but overlooked it or forgot, and hopefully means that those who are not interested and are ignoring it on purpose don’t get too annoyed.

      And if the showing is poor, maybe that will feed back to the boss that this isn’t something that the majority of employees are interested / see as fun, so she can suggest something different another time.

      (I have to admit, I would probably be in the ‘delete and ignore’ camp, unless I felt that not participating would negatively affect my standing at work, although assuming that your original e-mail was clear you were acting on Boss’s instructions I would be irritated at them, not you, if I got multiple follow up e-mails! I think if you are speaking to someone directly (phone or zoom) anyway, asking them in the conversation is fine, but I wouldn’t make a specific call (unless of course your Boss instructs you to) as I think that would tp over into being more annoying that fruitful.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I oversee a lot of this stuff for our office and reminders are key! I think, especially for something that requires staff contributions, it’s helpful to let people know others have already contributed. So many times, people delay responding to these things because they don’t want to be the first one — but if they know others have kicked things off, they’re more likely to add on.

      FWIW, I have sent out multiple reminders and I think so long as they are upbeat and brief, it’s not a big deal.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      One reminder is fine – this is the kind of thing that I would file away under “things to think about later,” and never think about it again.

    7. Workerbee*

      I’d be tempted not to follow up, and let the lack of enthusiasm show the boss that this kind of mandated fun was ill-conceived.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      I notice in my organization that people do not like to submit photos of themselves but they love to submit photos of their pets. Maybe you can have a pet themed montage?

    9. CDM*

      is it possible to have the montage be a dynamic one, so others can add to it as they have time and inclination? Ours sort of grew organically (out of a situation where Lucinda plastered the office with pics of Jane’s newborn while no pics were posted of Wakeen’s newborn, and we need to fix that before Wakeen comes back from parental leave tomorrow) and now we have the “Wall of Awesome” with kid pics, holiday pics, pet pics, graduation pics and a “birth” announcement for a college intern. Anyone is free to add a new one wherever there is space or replace an older one with an updated pic. We get monthly update pics of Wakeen’s daughter. No deadlines, no pressure, and 18 months in, we have about 80% participation. It’s nice.

    10. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yep I vote for sending out reminders. Maybe even include some fun pics that will help spur creativity of the staff. I need the reminders and the inspiration for these things. Remind away, Captain!

    11. allathian*

      One email reminder is OK. Maybe another in a meeting. More than that would probably be perceived as nagging. You want to be able to show your boss that you tried, but that the boss mandated fun didn’t go down well.

      In this case, given that there are only 5 participants, so unless your boss is completely tone deaf about these things, they should realize that a company montage board isn’t very high on people’s list of priorities. It’s much harder to opt out of mandated fun (what an oxymoron!) without adverse consequences when the vast majority wants to participate. But it’d be weird to impose consequences on your employees when it’s just a case where a “fun idea” went down like a lead balloon.

  23. Green Snickers*

    Has anyone ever been hit with an unexpectedly bad review at the end of the year? Like flagged for needing improvement even though you haven’t been spoken to about any issues?

    My boss doesn’t give feedback during the year despite my repeated requests to do so so my end of year review is always a point of anxiety for me. Even though I’m almost 2 years into my job, I’m extremely insecure about my performance as I work with a new practice that is still finding their footing. I’m used to have pretty clear deliverables and this job is anything but. I feel like I do the everyday parts of my job well and I do work hard so I’m not micromanaged but I think my boss would like to see more strategy and leadership direction from me. After everything this year, I’d be happy to come away with all ‘meetings expectations’ but can’t shake the fear that I’m going to get hit out of the blue with something bad. Just wondering if this is my anxiety running wild!

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Ask! You can set up an informal meeting to say “I feel good about the job I’m doing with A, but I’ve been here almost 2 years now and I don’t have a good sense of how much you expect on strategy B. Can we talk this through a bit to make sure we’re aligned on expectations?”

    2. Slipping The Leash*

      I can’t help with your anxiety but understand your frustration! I’ve been at my job for 21 years and have never had a review — in the early days this really, REALLY freaked me out (we’re salary plus bonus based, and eventually I cornered my boss who shrugged and said, “I hate doing reviews. I just say it with cash.” After a couple of years of fat bonuses I decided I was fine and to just not worry about it any more).

      I suggest being subtle about your feedback requests and do it on a small scale throughout the year: “Lola, I finished the teapot report. Let me know if you’d like any changes to the format — otherwise I’ll continue to do them that way going forward.” “Lola, I set up the client management system like this — does it work with your overall vision of how things should be organized?” If you make it simple for your boss to give you a fast but still useful answer on how things are going, it might put your mind at ease.

    3. Can Can Cannot*

      You have a bad boss. Given that one of the top reason for leaving a job is having a bad boss, you might want to think about looking for a better job with a better boss that can provide meaningful feedback and help you grow in your career. Your current boss is not helping you.

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      I think there are two things here. As some other folks said, while your boss doesn’t like to give general feedback, it is probably a good idea to ask directly about specifics. Take the things that were marked “needs improvement and just directly ask if you have improved. “Fergus, last year you had indicated you wanted me to improve my performance when it comes to analyzing the teapot size metrics. I have been working on that, so I want to check in with you there and see if I’m where you want to be or if there are still things you’d like to see change.”

      Also, remember that a performance review shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. If they say you need improvement on something and you need clarification there, ask! “OK, so, you have marked ‘needs improvement’ under taking initiative on new tasks. That’s a little surprising to me. Can we go into more detail there? What kind of things are you looking for that I’m not doing already?” Then the once you’ve set that out, don’t be afraid to ask again three months later to see if you’re on track. It’s unfortunate that you need to manage up like this; but if your manager won’t supply the information it’ll be in your best interests to see it out a little, even if you do it a bit more informally.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I had a boss like this. Twice in twelve years, I got very unexpected “you’re doing terrible” reviews when nothing had changed in my performance. First time, (second year on the job) I made a specific point of setting up meetings with the boss – monthly for the first quarter and quarterly after that, to check in and discuss performance, set identifiable and measurable goals, etc. Second time, (twelfth year on the job) I realized her bad reviews had nothing to do with my performance and were an excuse to avoid giving a COL raise and trim the budget. I started updating my resume and had a new job in eight months.

    6. RC Rascal*

      I had this happen. It was my terrible boss trying to scapegoat me for his own issues and paper my file so he could fire me. In my case he left a majority of my accomplishments out of the review as well as several of my major duties. ( Scope of the role has drastically increased). I wrote a very specific rebuttal to the review which really passed him off. I ended up hiring a. Attorney and making discrimination charges. All my reviews previous to this were very good.

      Your boss is a jerk. An underperforming employee should never get this information for the first time at the review. My guess is he wants someone different in the role & is setting you up for termination.

  24. Marie*

    Did anybody get any work done on the 20th? I had a full day meeting, but was watching the inauguration on a second screen.

    1. DataGirl*

      Very little. I was a ball of nerves most of the day, alternating between relief/hope and fear that something bad would happen.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I had a few meetings I was doing my best to focus on, but on top of everything else, my dog had a seizure and threw up during one of them. So that distracted me as much as anything. (He’s fine!) I’m still new at my job so luckily I wasn’t super busy with work stuff…

    3. NJBi*

      I was very fortunately able to take the afternoon off (East Coast). Crammed in as much as I could in the morning, did the last hour with the inaugural ceremonies on the TV while I worked on my laptop, and logged off before 1. Honestly, I was worried that something like on the 6th would happen–whether at the Capitol or elsewhere in the country–and knew that if that was the case, I’d certainly not get any work done, so may as well plan ahead by keeping my schedule clear… It was nice to be able to watch the virtual parade and stuff live, and fortunately no anxious PBS NewsHour stress-watching this Wednesday!

      1. Jaid*

        I did get a lot of work done, but I also was streaming CNN for a couple of hours on my work computer. I watched some of the virtual parade when I got home.

        I was worried about snipers. :-(

    4. CTT*

      The two boards I’m on both meet on the third Wednesday of the month, so it was never going to be a super-productive day regardless, but it was even less productive since I was able to watch the stupid ceremonies between meetings.

    5. HB*

      I spent most the day talking about the inauguration and sharing Bernie memes with my coworkers. My supervisor was out that day too so we all just sort of chilled out. It was a nice break from the stress everyone’s been under.

    6. Captain Marvel*

      Very little work. Luckily most people in my organization were doing the same thing I was and anxiously watching to make sure it went well.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Nope. I had an important call scheduled for that day, and at the last minute they postponed it to the 21st. I don’t know the reason, but I was sooooo glad.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is the first inauguration I’ve not had off in about two decades – our DC-based office usually closes because of the proximity to the festivities and security measures, but, since we’re working from home, they decided not to formally close this time (though even voluntary entry to the building was completely out of the question for the past week, given the security presence). I blocked my schedule for the actual ceremony and left the other festivities playing in the background for the rest of the day and just turned the volume down/off if I had a call or meeting.

    9. Can't Sit Still*

      I had to schedule several meetings and follow up on a few things in the morning, but there were virtually no IMs, emails or calls between 11:30 am and 2 pm EST. I was able to watch the inauguration until my boss started calling around 2 pm. I didn’t get any responses to emails, etc. until yesterday morning, so it seems most of my team was watching as well. I feel like I was as productive as could be expected.

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      I wasn’t able to watch it live, so I watched an abbreviated version (yay time zone differences). I was a sniffly weepy mess for about an hour. But suffice to say, I got more done on the 20th than on the 6th.

    11. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I had to work until late that night because I watched all the morning stuff. So amazing that we get to watch these events.

    12. Middle Manager*

      Luckily, I have a lot of comp time to use up, so I took an extended lunch and watched without trying to also work. I had a 1pm meeting and had to re-do my make up though, since I made the mistake of wearing eyeliner…

    13. Allura Vysoren*

      I was surprised how much work I got done in the morning. My wife called out of work but I went because I figured that work would be just as distracting as anything else. We’re both WFH and usually I work out of the basement, but I brought my work laptop to the couch for most of the day so I could watch the proceedings. I ended up taking an early lunch because I started crying over the inauguration. The afternoon…very little. I was prepared to take PTO the rest of the day if anything terrible happened, but I didn’t think about how hard it would be to focus over the sheer overwhelming *relief* of it going well.

  25. vaccination consternation*

    Inspired by this week’s post about the CEO trying to get early access to the vaccine and some of the comments. Has anyone else not received clear information about their COVID vaccination eligibility? How did your workplace handle it? What did you do? How do you feel about it?

    I work at a community mental health org that provides mental health and addiction services and runs a mental health crisis response team, but we also provide tons of non-clinical social services. We see Medicaid eligible folks and many of clients lack reliable phone or internet, so most services have been in person during the pandemic. Org leadership kept asking local gov what priority group we fall into, but they refused to give a response. They eventually decided 1a (includes ancillary healthcare workers) and encouraged us to go sign up to be vaccinated. I would have assumed we were 1b (includes community outreach workers) or 1c (“other” essential workers not categorized). But I went ahead and got my first dose anyway during 1a three weeks ago, and get my second dose next week. I said on the online registration system I worked in ancillary health services and brought my work badge to the appointment just in case, worrying I’d get pushback, but the only thing they checked was my health insurance. Now my area has moved onto phase 1b, which also includes anyone 65+, and the rollout has been an absolute clusterfudge in my area. My coworkers who did not sign up during 1a are having a lot of trouble getting appointments now. At first I felt a little bad about getting vaccinated so early because I am in my 20s and healthy. But I’ve spent 10 1/2 months providing important in-person services, sometimes to people who have refused to wear masks, and there have been multiple COVID cases on staff, so I’ve been able to let go a lot of that guilt. Interested to hear about the experiences of others!

    1. anonymous for secret reasons*

      My partner works for the federal government in a role where they’re WFH, but others in their position do face to face essential work, and they could technically be put in a f2f role at any time. It’s been an absolute cluster. First the department said no doses were available from the department, you’d have to go through regular local channels. OK, fine. Then dept said there were doses available at specific sites (just a few for the entire country… none accessible to my partner). Good for those people though, I guess? Weird that they’re changing the rules but this still seems good? Then they said that everyone in this position should be classified as 1a, so my partner contacted the state vaccine coordinating group to have their pre-registration changed from 1c (where they had been assigned) to 1a. So now they’re registered in 1a, but neither the state registry, nor the medical group running the super site where they has ALSO preregistered, has contacted to register an appointment, opened a portal to pick an appointment online, opened a phone line… nothing. The guidance for my partner’s workplace has changed from “you’re general public” all the way to “you’re 1a” but the fact of the matter is, it’s still not possible to find a place where they’ll put the shot in the arm!

      I 100% agree that you shouldn’t feel guilt in this situation–the rollout has been very chaotic and had a lot of problems, and anyone who gets a shot (except for like, the conniving CEO…) is morally in the clear. Better to have the shot in your arm, so that soon you can more safely provide services and protect the people who you serve as well as your neighbors etc., than to have that dose not be used.

      1. Chilipepper*

        What is the 1a, 1b, 1c classifications several of you are mentioning? Is that local to you or a nationwide thing?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I believe those are national classifications — basically breaking the first group of eligible people down further into smaller subgroups, to help states figure out how to prioritize.

        2. vaccination consternation*

          Yup, these are the national recommendations, but states ultimately have final say on prioritization. I know Florida and Texas for example have opted to prioritize seniors over most non-hospital essential workers.

    2. Bye Academia*

      I can definitely relate! I work in higher ed in a position where most of my tasks can’t be done remotely. Where I live, they were originally defining 1b as “teachers and education workers”, which I thought would include me. However, when they later broke it down, they included everyone who works in K-12 schools, but only in-person college instructors. Our union is trying to argue that “in-person college instructors” should also include in-person college professional staff (me), but hasn’t gotten clarification yet.

      In your case, I wouldn’t feel guilty about taking it. Working at a community mental health org with direct patient/client contact seems like a pretty clear priority to me! Plus, being too granular about the groups is slowing down administration. At a certain point, we just have to do the best we can while getting shots in arms. Some of my friends who work remotely in admin for K-12 schools have gotten vaccinated already while I’m still waiting, but I honestly don’t mind. I’m happy they’re protected now, and I just hope my turn will come soon.

    3. vaccination consternation*

      Yeah I don’t really feel bad anymore. It’s generally agreed upon by bioethicists and medical providers that people with direct contact with COVID patients and nursing home residents should get vaccinated first, and healthy individuals who have the ability to work from home (even if it’s not ideal) should get vaccinated last. But there’s no real consensus on how to prioritize everyone else, which is a HUGE chunk of the population. And the strategy that the U.S. has taken so far certainly ain’t it. I’m optimistic that the new administration will be better, but I also think it could take several weeks to a month before things start going smoothly and am skeptical the 100 million vaccines in 100 days plan will actually pan out. But I’d love to be wrong. I hope anonymous that your partner and Bye Academia that you get vaccinated soon!

    4. Fluffernutter*

      I work for a big healthcare company that owns a bunch of hospitals so I’ve been lucky to have been able to rely on their communications regarding vaccines since they are the ones responsible for vaccinating the employees. They split all employees into different waves and we get vaccinated according to the waves. I honestly haven’t even been looking at my state vaccine schedule since my company is so on top of things. I am a remote employee but if they say I can get it, I can get it. (I’m signed up to get it tomorrow!)

    5. Minimal Pear*

      It’s not even work-related but just in general I should qualify as an early-ish candidate for health reasons but I have no idea if they’ll count me in the 2+ conditions group or the 1 condition group. (I do think I should be counted as having two, but one of said conditions is obscure and might not be included because the people making the list don’t know about it.)

    6. Chilipepper*

      I’m in Florida, so no, no information other than you have to be 65 and over and maybe medical staff can get it – but police, fire, and other front-line workers cannot. And actually anyone 65 and over cannot get it because the systems for making an appointment are all broken (but are coming online soon).

      I work in an agency that helps people make appointments for things like this and we have almost no information.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Well not from my workplace. But even my state has been providing mixed messages, which is frustrating because we’ve been doing relatively well (Washington state.)
      For months, we’ve been told “if you work in (essential industry), you are in group X.” I go to the signup website and they say to qualify for group X you have to “work in (essential industry) and are be in unavoidable groups less than 6′ from others for more than six hours a day.” Those… are two different standards. Meanwhile, I have been 100% work in the office since May.

  26. Another day another payroll questions*

    Is it legal for a company to withhold their portion of the withholding out of your pay?

    They have done this before on bonuses, and they just say that our actual bonus is actually the smaller number, but this time, I actually have a contract that states exactly what the bonus is, and I don’t understand how they can reduce it by the payroll taxes, that seems like it would be really really illegal.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking.

      If you get a bonus of $5000, and there’s tax withholdings or other items (401k, etc) of $1k, then you’re going to actually get $4k in cash. This is normal and fine. Now, if the company withholds the $1k but doesn’t actually disburse that money to the appropriate places, that’s illegal and a huge problem.

      1. Who moved my cheese?*

        I think they’re saying, they have a contract saying they’ll get a $D bonus and they expected to get $D to take home, but the company gave them ($C which = $D minus withholding). In the past the company has just said “your bonus is $C” instead of “your bonus is $D but we’ll take out withholding, so you net $C.”

        Are you sure this is “normal and fine” in every situation? Is there any way Another Day’s contract could have been written that means they really actually should take home $D? Just curious.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          In my experience (US based), bonsus, pay rates, etc are expressed as gross amounts. IE, before taxes and other withholdings are taken out as the norm. On rare occasions, I have seen things be grossed up, but it is explicitly stated as such.

          1. Another day another payroll questions*

            No, it was expressed as gross, I totally expected to pay the employee portion of payroll taxes. But they have also charged me with the additional 7.65% of employer payroll taxes. So virtually 8% of the gross they promised just evaporated.

            1. PollyQ*

              That seems very wrong, so much so that I have to think you’re either misunderstanding or that they made a mistake. I’d double-check the stub to make sure it’s saying what you think it is, and if it still looks wrong, go to payroll and ask for clarification.

    2. Elspeth*

      Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are asking but it seems legal and normal to me.
      Example of what I am thinking – your contract states that you get a $10k bonus – they pay you a $10k bonus which after taxes/other withholdings comes to $7500. They still paid you a $10k bonus. They’re not under any obligation to gross up the bonus so that your net is $10k. Or am I off base and they are doing something entirely different?

    3. Another day another payroll questions*

      Let me clarify further. Say my bonus was announced as $10K, they are pulling out the 7.65% of employer taxes from that, making my gross bonus, where all MY withholdings and the like are calculated from $9,235. So my “gross” is lower by their portion of the withholding.

      1. Elspeth*

        Yeah that does seem sketchier than I was imaging, I apologize for misreading your original post. Not sure of the legality but it doesn’t sit right with me.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Sounds normal to me. Bonuses are taxable income. I’m sure they do the same with your paycheck.

        1. Natalie*

          The poster is talking about the employER half of payroll taxes, which (as the name suggests) have to be paid by the employer, not withheld from the employee’s paycheck.

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Yeah, that’s sketchy. Not sure if it’s actively illegal, but it would make me rethink how long I wanted to work for that company for sure. However, if you do some googling for the payroll laws in your location you should be able to figure out what the law actually says.

      4. Natalie*

        I can’t speak to the contract part, but taxwise whether or not it’s legal depends on how they are reporting it on their and your tax documents. If the gross amount of the bonus they report to the IRS and SSA is $9,325, and that’s the amount that ultimately ends up on your W2, that’s legal but strange. But if the gross amount they report is $10,000, then they’re making an improper withholding.

        1. Five after Midnight*

          This is the correct answer. :-) Now, as far as the contract goes, if it explicitly states the gross amount of bonus to be $10k (as in your example), then you likely have a civil action for a breach of contract. But they are not breaking any laws, just a contract. It’s definitely dodgy, but not illegal.

    4. A penguin!*

      It’s likely to depend on the wording of your contract. As long as they’re paying (to you, your benefits, the government) the amount of the bonus they should be legal, barring specific language in the contract that says otherwise.

      Some of my companies have scaled up what they pay such that the bonus I receive is the number indicated; some have paid the number indicated and after various factions take their cut the number I received has been lower. Neither is ‘standard’ in my experience.

    5. Observer*

      If I’m understanding you, not only is is acceptable, it’s actually legally required if you are in the US. If you are an employee any wages, whether regular hourly pay or bonuses, are subject ot standard withholding. It’s annoying, but the taxes need to be paid, like it or not.

      1. Another day another payroll questions*

        It’s not my withholding, it is their withholding. Companies have a portion of taxes that they have to pay, that is completely separate from the withholding they hold out of your check. There is an employer and an employee portion of payroll taxes. They are charging both to me.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      I agree with “I’m A Little Teapot” — I’m not quite sure what you are asking. If they say you are going to get a $5000 bonus, then they have to exclude taxes (including social security) from that. Your net will be less than $5000. That is appropriate and legal and actually the only way they can do it.
      Now, if you are asking whether they can deduct THEIR portion of the Social Security from your pay, the answer is no. SS is paid half by the employee and half by the employer. Your half is deducted from your paycheck (along with federal withholding). The employer can’t also take their half of the SS out of your paycheck. But it doesn’t sound like that is what is happening.

    7. Another day another payroll questions*

      Update: I’ve approached the C-suite HR guy, and he has assures me it is legal, but I’ve asked him to provide me with documentation that bonuses are different from wages in this regard, because I know that charging the employee with the employer half of payroll taxes on wages is illegal. I’m very interested to see what he comes up with (he said it will take a while, which you’d think they’d have these things to hand if it is the policy) but I still don’t believe it.

      (I’m “that” employee. They all know I question everything, lol, so don’t worry on my behalf for jumping straight at HR with “illegal”).

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Employers have the discretion to treat bonuses as supplemental income rather than wages (see IRS Publication 15 (2020), sec. 7 and examples 2 and 3), but that treatment is a separate issue from having the employee pay the employer portion of the payroll tax. IANAL, but I don’t think that’s legal.

        Your employer should have someone who can explain their withholding to you, including whether they are treating the bonus as wages (taxed on the usual scale) or supplemental income (federal tax of flat 22% under $1M, 37% for $1M+, plus any additional payroll or state withholding). Some employers also “gross up” bonuses to ensure the employee gets the full bonus amount. My regular bonuses are taxed as supplemental raises, but we’ve received a few “special bonuses” that are adjusted so we take home the intended amount.

        1. Another day another payroll questions*

          They are doing it as supplemental income, using the flat 22% bonus rate. But that’s aside from this whole issue. The original amount they sent on the bonus payout scheudule, which state exactly how much we are to receive each of the 3 payout dates, is not the gross amount on the check. So no deduction to explain, they simply deducted it from the total before it even hit the paycheck. So tax wise, they should be good, ie only considering wages the number after they pulled out their portion of the payroll taxes. But it still doesn’t seem right that I should be ‘penalized’ for their portion of the taxes. It may be legal, there is some jargon in the plan (which I will say they refused to let me see when I was signing the contract and I had to go to three different c-suite officers to get it) which could be construed to say that they can pull their portion out, but it could just have easily meant the regular withholding (which is how I originally read it, prior to this development). At the very least, they have been guilty of a supremely stupid PR issue, as in if they were planning to deduct this all along, they should have updated the payment schedule to include it so everyone wasn’t making their decision to accept the program or not with flat out wrong details.

      2. BRR*

        This question is really interesting to me. So IANAL but it sounds like it would be illegal if your bonus is in a contract and is black and white. If there’s any type of discretionary language anywhere it would probably be an uphill battle for you. I hope you’ll update us on the developments.

    8. HRBee*

      Are you saying that they are withholding both the Employee AND Employer portion of taxes from your bonus? That’s most definitely NOT OK. I cant for sure say its illegal because its so crazy I’ve never even considered it before, but I am 99% sure it has to be illegal. There’s a reason its the employER portion. Its theirs, not yours.

      1. Another day another payroll questions*

        That’s what I’m saying, and that’s exactly my gut reaction.

        Family accountant doesn’t know of any law that would support this either. I think they’ve gotten around this in the past by not announcing the bonus amount, and just telling us the number is whatever the number is after their portion comes out. I don’t think they can do that this time, and I don’t think they are going to like that at all. For the entire bonus structure, that a LOT of money. :sigh:

    9. no name*

      Bonuses, just like any other compensation, are required to be taxed. If I am getting a $x bonus from my company, they actually give me $y which is $x after taxes are taken out. But they are going above and beyond by doing that. I think that as long as your bonus is whatever number your contract says BEFORE taxes, they are acting legally. Just like if your salary is $50,000/year, you don’t actually take home $50,000/year.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t see how we can pay someone else’s taxes FOR THEM. They would have to show our payment of their taxes as income to them.

      Not much different than if the employer said we had to pay for cases of TP. The employer would have to show that the employees paid that expense as a credit or income on their books.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Well, you can in some ways. I did this in the other direction as the employer when I was settling a relative’s estate.

        Her household help worked under the table, but in the last year of relative’s life, she’d been paying by check and I had to show those payments in the estate accounting and final tax return. And on the advice of my accountant, we needed to make sure everything was kosher with the IRS in terms of withholding.

        I didn’t want the helper to wind up with an unexpected tax bill (especially since it was pretty clear she wasn’t paying taxes on any of her income from other jobs, either). So the estate paid both halves of the income tax, and we treated the amounts paid by check as her “net.” This effectively increased her wages on paper but was a wash to her.

        The IRS didn’t care as long as they got their money and all the boxes were ticked.

    11. HR Exec Popping In*

      Ask payroll to explain the deductions. They are used to those type of questions and are happy to explain. Also, the name of each deduction may not be exactly what the deduction is. For example, in Washington state there is a payroll tax that pays for state LOA. A portion of this is paid by the company and a portion is paid by the employee. The wording my company’s payroll department put in the system and was printed out on paystubs was very confusing to our workforce. I think it was something like LOA deduction which people thought was that they were paying back money for taking a leave. My point is, ask payroll what specifically the line item is and they will tell you.

      1. Another day another payroll questions*

        I have spoken to HR/payroll. The thing is it isn’t a deduction. They gave us a schedule of what our payment would be, and the gross amount on the paystub is less than that amount, which people naturally freaked out about. So they told us the difference was that they pulled the employer portion of the payroll taxes out of the original number before creating our paychecks. It’s basically not on paper at all. What I have is a payment schedule that says one thing, and a paycheck that says another.

  27. Tech Writer*

    If anyone has signed a letter of intent before, how long does it take for the employer to get back, and is it a signal the employer has the contract? I recently finished an interview with two rounds, and the hiring manager and program director were on the second round. I emailed them earlier on 1/19/2021 asking about the status of the update, and was told that they had sent the information over to the client and would know sometime this week. After that email, the recruiter and HR had me sign a letter of intent but I’ve heard nothing back.

    I’m worried that the employer may not have the contract, even though it sounded like they already did during the interview and is signing a letter of intent before hiring someone usual?

    1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      A LOI does not mean they have the contract. It’s something they use to hopefully improve their standing in the competition. They can basically say to the source selection committee “look, we will have this specific person on board if we win”. It does kind of commit them to hiring you if they win. Otherwise they have to explain to the contracting office why you’re not there. That’s my experience anyway.

      1. Tech Writer*

        Oh I see. It’s my first time signing a letter of intent, and what they told me was (paraphrased here) that they had the contract, and the recruiter told me that they had sent my information over to the client, and awaiting approval. After that, they’d send me the official offer letter.

        I thought letters of intent usually meant the company already had the contract, but thanks so much for clarifying it!

    2. Skeeder Jones*

      I’ve only ever signed letters of intent when being recruited as a contract employee through an agency and I had to sign that before they could send my information to the client.

  28. DataGirl*

    Any Data Scientists or Data Analysts here? I’m looking to get into the field and wondering what the best path is. I have about 10 years experience in Database Administration/Development/Design. My most recent job of 3 years I have a title of DBA but my daily work is mostly reporting and end user tech support. I’ve reached a point where I need to move on and do some retraining, but I really don’t want to be a DBA anymore. My favorite part of my work is the data analysis, so I’d like to pivot my career into that area. I currently work in medical education and am also interested in staying in the field of medicine. I’d love any tips on the best way to pursue this- should I go back to University for another degree (currently have a MLIS which is pretty useless)? Take paid certification courses? Just do free classes on Coursera or some other platform and hope that’s good enough? Also- what are the biggest differences between Data Science and Data Analysis? Is one field more competitive/more difficult/better compensated? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      You could probably apply for Jr. Data Analyst jobs at the big healthcare systems in your area, if you are in a city area. They tend to be able to train Analysts and your DBA background would qualify you. You would likely be making a lot less $$, but you could springboard to another job after a year or two of experience.
      The main diff between Data Analytics and Data Science is descriptive analytics and predictive analytics. A Data Analyst builds reports on historical data to help people make decisions. A Data Scientists builds algorithms to predict the future.
      I’ve done Data Analytics and Data Visualization of 10 years and got my degree in Data Science. I’ll be lurking around if you have follow up questions!

      1. DataGirl*

        Unfortunately I can’t really do a lot less $$. A little pay cut would be okay for a while, but I’m the only one paying the bills. Do you think any kind of degree or certifications would help me move into a less Jr. role?

        Thanks for explaining the difference between Data Analytics and Science. I’m definitely more used to the analysis side, looking at the data to try to make recommendations for improvements and I’d be comfortable staying in that lane.

    2. EMP*

      In my experience (software, used to work adjacent to a data science team but not with them), free classes don’t speak much on a resume unless it’s for a very concrete skill (like a specific programming language that you can then demonstrate) or supplementing an existing certificate or degree, just because there is minimal accountability. Free+ like EdX where you can pay a small amount (~$50) for a certificate is a bit better because then you can point to a grade/completion certificate that shows the hiring manager you did the work.

      I have seen certificate programs for things like data science designed to be completed in a year or so. I can’t speak to any particular courses reputation or cost effectiveness but I would look into something like that before doing another degree program since you already have work experience in a related field.

      1. DataGirl*

        Thank you. I’m currently taking a free math class on Coursera to try and dip my feet in, and they have full (paid) courses in Data Analytics and Data Science, but I’m not sure how something like that compares on a resume as to something directly through a University/College. I worry that it falls a little into ‘University of Phoenix’ territory.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      I feel like the difference between data science and data analytics is the methods used. Data scientists use more sophisticated methods and are required to have strong statistical skills. Based on your background, you’d almost certainly need a masters (I wouldn’t recommend a second bachelors) in something more math based to have a chance at being a data scientist. Data scientists earn more than data analysts – due to their stronger math background.

      Data analytics is where I’d look if I were you. Your SQL background probably makes you competitive for some of these roles. But having an ability to use either Tableau or Excel or program in some programming language would probably also be necessary. If you have an ability to do something other than SQL, you can probably just apply for jobs. Otherwise, I think you’re going to have find a way to improve your skills at either data visualization or programming and can do that by either taking courses online or more schooling.

      1. Bobina*

        This. Maybe its my industry, but for me, data science is specific to people with a good amount of technical knowledge around big data, statistics, modelling, AI/ML etc.

        Your background however seems very suited to pivot into data analysis. Depending on the kind of reporting you’ve done and the tools you’ve used in addition to SQL, you could start looking at those kinds of jobs straight away, or maybe brush up on some courses around Tableau or Power BI, build a couple of dashboards at work and you’re good to go.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Agreed. If you want to do predictive analytics, that’s likely to involve a trip back to school – but there are plenty of jobs at the analyst level for people who can turn data into useful descriptions of reality, and that mostly involves skills a DBA would know (SQL queries, basic scripting, the inevitable clean-up of raw inputs, etc). There’s also data visualization, but you likely have the background to pick that up quickly.

          You might consider working up a sample project. Find a public data set (ideally one you’re already working on), and show that you know how to slice and dice it. Then make some pretty graphs. That, plus DBA experience and subject matter experience, should put you in reasonable shape.

          1. DataGirl*

            Finding some public data to play with is a good suggestion. I have the opportunity to do some research upon request to some of our doctors but I haven’t really delved into it, I should do that. Obviously I couldn’t share anything from work data but public data would be something I could share. Thanks.

      2. DataGirl*

        Data analytics does sound better suited to my current skill set. I’m not terrible at math, but I don’t have any higher education experience in advanced maths or statistics so it would be a steeper learning curve. I’m pretty decent in Excel as my current job I’m mostly using Access / Excel. I should learn Tableau and R and data visualization, maybe a programming language. What languages are ‘hot’ right now, anyone know?

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          For a first programming language, I would recommend Python. It’s popular for a reason – it’s got all the power you’d want in an all-purpose language without needless complexity. Tons of great libraries too. Nowadays, you can get Python to do pretty much everything that R can – though I already knew R by the time Python got to that point, so anything that involves turning a tidy data table into graphs and/or fancy statistics, I’ll still do that in R. But if there’s any wrangling whatsoever that is required to stuff the data into said table, that’s Python.

        2. Parenthesis Dude*

          Tableau is data visualization. R is a programming language. If you’re good at building charts, then you’ll be valuable as an analyst. If you’re good at programming, then you’ll have value as an analyst. If you can do both, then that makes you more useful.

          I would ask the other programmers or analysts on your team what they program in and learn that. Try to leverage your SQL knowledge as much as possible. Python and R are both very popular, but I know that SAS is the primary programming language in the healthcare world. I would think that it’s the same for medical education, but I don’t know.

          The other thing you should ask yourself is whether you know enough about your field to build custom reports on your own. Do you understand the main concepts that you’re building databases for, or do you just enough to build the database itself?

    4. water data nerd*

      Jacqueline Nolis and Emily Robinson recently released a book called “Build a Career in Data Science”. I haven’t read it myself but have heard very good things about it, and from looking at the table of contents, it touches on skill-building, whether and how to choose a degree path, different types of data science jobs and companies, how to set up your resume for this type of job, how to settle in to a new role, move up, and even leave a position. Check it out, and if you don’t need to have it right away, follow the authors on Twitter because occasionally the book is on sale and they’ll tweet the code for it.

      I haven’t broken into straight data science myself, but what I see in the data science circles I follow is that demonstrating your skills is very important. Blogging can help; putting code on GitHub can help. People (at least in the R data science scene) know that you won’t have every possible skill when you start the job, so they need to know that you have the ability to pick up what you need. I’m blanking on who else to suggest you follow on Twitter, except for Chris Albon – he frequently tweets about hiring and managing data scientists, which is a really useful perspective. Good luck to you!

      1. DataGirl*

        Thank you I will check out that book! I’m not on Twitter but I’ll think about joining for that purpose.

  29. Nonsensical boss*

    I work for a small company with about 100 employees. Boss keeps chewing us out at company meetings to not ever go anywhere outside of work so we don’t get Covid and bring it to work. Every company meeting. These happen twice a month. In person. In a room where we barely all fit.
    He keeps saying that if it gets into the company and spreads the company will die.
    And yet.
    He keeps doing these company meetings that could be emails.
    He does not wear a mask while lecturing us about mask wearing.
    And lecturing about social distancing while we are all crowded into the one room.
    He refuses to allow work from home for those who could do so because it’s not possible to allow it for all and it “wouldn’t be fair.”
    And he does not enforce masks in the building. Only about 2/3 of the employees wear them at all, and noses hanging out are plentiful.
    But if someone shows up with an obvious haircut they get called to the carpet over the risks of visiting the hair salon and told if anyone at the company gets sick it’s ALL THEIR FAULT.
    The cognitive dissonance is strong with this boss.
    Anyone else work for a boss like this? Any tips for coping while I’m job hunting?

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

      This sounds like someone who is convinced of the difference between “us” and “them” and that viruses are cognizant and will of course avoid anyone he deems in HIS “bubble”. My advice on how to cope is to protect yourself as much as possible — mask, hand washing, sit near the door or back of the room, stand away from people — all of these at work and away from work. HE wants to be safe (he doesn’t care if the rest of you are safe), and it’s all on your shoulders to provide him that protection. :-\

    2. HB*

      Boss at my current job has us working in a public building, no limit on time for public users, everyone working on site, we’ve had three confirmed cases and one death… And she sends us e-mails that state things like “Don’t spend time indoors with people not from your household” and I want to scream “So why are we here in our offices with all our coworkers AND with the public coming in and hanging around?!”

      I know the response will be “just wash your hands” or whatever but ugh ugh ugh. The cognitive dissonance here is so frustrating and disheartening. It’s the biggest reason why I’m leaving for a different job!

    3. KR*

      I don’t have a job like this but my work keeps talking about the projected return to the office day and the importance of COVID precautions when they have me traveling to a city hours away, staying in hotels, and our field staff have to go into work every day. It’s “social distance and stay at home” until they decide something just has to be done in person, I guess. Feels super disingenuous, especially when a lot of this stuff doesn’t have to happen for a critical reason but because our policy says it has to be done or it has to be done in order to keep business going like it normally does without a pandemic.

    4. tangerineRose*

      If you act really enthusiastic about this and try to give the vibe of “I hear what you’re saying, and I’m trying to be proactive” and look up useful stuff on the CDC website and maybe find stuff that agrees with the correct stuff he’s saying and then add stuff that you wish he’d do, could that help? Something like “I’ve been so inspired by what you said, that I went to the CDC website to see what else we can/should do. They recommend letting people work from home when they can, and they suggest making meetings virtual and wearing masks when you’re around others.”

  30. Snip Snap Snip Snap*

    So I snipped at a coworker today. I have worked for my organization for over two years and was hired to do communications and government relations, government relations being what I was actually interested in. My coworker, Jeff, is responsible for regulatory affairs and government relations. So there is supposed to be overlap between our positions. Well, in reality, I exclusively do communications and my repeated requests to be included in government relations have been met with “yes of course” that never pan out. Like Jeff will joke with me that I am a LINO, lobbyist in name only.

    Anyways, our secretary forwarded me a call from a lobbyist, who I had a pre-existing relationship with, who wanted to discuss legislation with me. My boss and Jeff were both cc’d on the message. And boss writes back “After speaking with him, please kick this over to Jeff if there is any follow up needed.” Anyways I called him back and all that jazz and honestly snapped in my email to Jeff and wrote “So if you want to follow-up with him because I can’t comprehend simple legislation, here’s his number.”

    I feel bad. But at the same time I really don’t. I’m tired of being the doormat and having my career be the butt of the joke.

      1. WellRed*

        total boss problem and I’m guessing it hasn’t been addressed, leading to this unfortunate moment.

    1. Observer*

      Well, if you want your career to be taken seriously, you need to consider how you address people.

      Why are you snapping at Jeff over something your boss told you to do? And why the sarcastic snark instead of a straightforward response like “Sure. Is there a reason that I should not work with this?”

      If you keep asking reasonable questions and get no reasonable responses, start looking for another job. But if you handle situations this way, best case you’ll get nowhere. Worst case, you will confirm whatever issues they (think they) have with you, and yo’ll develop a reputation for being difficult and childish.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is great advice. I am totally empathetic to the snappy impulse as well as not feeling like you’re getting to grow into the position or having the parts you want to dig more into go to Jeff (been there, done that, have the t-shirt… and, his “LINO” comments are not great either) – but Observer is absolutely right that if there are concerns about your performance preventing opportunities from coming to you, snipping at Jeff for following Boss’s direction is going to confirm them, not refute them.

        If it’s possible to discuss this directly with your boss to figure out if you’re ever going to get to do the things you want (or to find out what’s hindering that), start there. Try to be forward looking and make specific asks about the projects you’d like to work , too – specific commitments tend to be harder to break than nebulous, we’ll-look-for-an-opportunity ones.

      2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        Its like the old saying about catching flys with honey as opposed to vinegar. If you had messaged cc back to both with “Of course I’ll send this to Jeff. I know Lobbyist personally. Would this be an opportunity to be included in govt. relations like we previously discussed?” If they come back and say no then you can push back with “Can I please have a more specific timeline on how/when I will be included in govt. relations? We’d discussed this in the past, and its part of my job description. Is there something you need to see from me before we can start XYZ?” At the end of the day its like Grandma used to say. Politeness in Mandatory. Respect is Earned. Be polite and you will hopefully earn their respect.

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

      Sounds like regardless of what you were hired to do 2 years ago, your de facto job at the moment is the communications part and your boss sees anything other than ‘basic’ / non-time-consuming (?) legislation-related work as being Jeff’s domain rather than yours.
      I’d echo what others have said, that this is potentially an issue with your boss rather than with Jeff. Have you ever had any conversations with Jeff about your respective roles i.e. do you think his impression is that government relations is exclusively ‘his’ responsibility?

  31. Calling Kiwi's/those who work in NZ*

    Hi! I have two questions for those who are Kiwi’s or who have / are working in NZ.

    I had a zoom interview earlier on in the week and they are now contacting my references. Is this the same as in the UK where in my experience my references have only been contacted when it’s likely I am going to be made an offer?

    Second q: is it the done thing to negotiate a salary offer or would I come across as being wildly out of sync with the NZ norms?

    (I have a valid work visa, a plane ticket and my hotel quarantine spot all sorted.)

    1. Ems*

      Not Kiwi but worked in NZ for a few years (am from the UK originally). My experience was that reference checking was more in line with the American way of actually finding out more about the person, not just the box ticking exercise it generally is the UK. For the job I applied for, I know my references received quite an extensive questionnaire asking about my strengths/weaknesses. I did receive an offer as a result but I believe the hiring manager did take the information the referees gave into account.

      And yes, it’s normal to negotiate salary (even for government jobs, which I did not actually realise before applying, and was my mistake).

      Good luck with the offer! I loved my time working in NZ and would go back in a heartbeat.

      1. Calling Kiwi's/those who work in NZ*

        Thank you for your comment – that’s really helpful to know. I hope you manage to get back to NZ at some point :)

    2. GreyNerdShark*

      I’m a skip not a kiwi but as far as I know Australian norms are similar.

      Generally references are part of the final process. If you have one standout you contact before the offer as the final test, if you are trying to decide between two people references might tip the balance. I’ve never bothered for a shortlist only for the final choice or as a tiebreaker.

      Salary negotiation should be fine. Just realise that NZ is a polite “English” country at least the middle class Anglo bits I have dealt with are. So understated and reserved. Don’t go over the top when negotiating. I found the cultural norms around expressing emotion much more like the genteel middle class Australia of my youth (which was a long time ago) than Australia now.

      1. Calling Kiwi's/those who work in NZ*

        Thank you – that’s really helpful information and yes, thanks for the reminder about the polite-ness!

    3. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Kiwi here (who used to work in recruitment). It’s fairly common for companies to only reference check their preferred candidate prior to making an offer.

      However if it was an academic position that you applied for then the process will likely be different. Generally a long list is selected, references are requested, and a shortlist of folk to be interviewed is then decided.

      Yes, it’s completely normal to negotiate on salary.

      1. Calling Kiwi's/those who work in NZ*

        Thank you- it is higher ed but on the professional services side not as an academic.

    4. Bob_NZ*

      I’m UK-born (and lived there until I was 29) and living in New Zealand since 2005. For the last 5 years I’ve been a hiring manager in the public service.

      As others have mentioned, I generally progress to reference checks for my top candidates. I’d never do a ref check for someone who is a definite “no” (due to not wanting to waste my time or the time of the referee) but I do sometimes use reference checks to decide between two great candidates. Thinking back to my last 10 hires, I probably did reference checks for 12 candidates.

      As for negotiating salary – yes, absolutely do it! Ask politely, citing the ways you’d add value to the position. It will help to know the salary scale for the position – not always advertised but HR departments can advise it if you ask – and typical movements within each scale. Even a sentence like “is there any room for movement on that?” can be handy. The worst case scenario is that you’ll get a polite “no” and you’ll be no worse off than if you hadn’t tried. Thinking back to recent hires, newish grads tend not to negotiate (maybe one person in 20?) but those with 5+ years’ work tend to, and rightly so.

      I hope that helps!

  32. Bloop*

    I can feel it… I am self-sabotoging. I recently joined the app Clubhouse and it’s been a great and hard experience. So many people on there are creating rooms about how they’re doing well in their work and business, starting 6 figure entrepreunerships, etc. And I keep thinking… am I alone?

    I’m turning 29 this year (something something saturn return) and I feel both lost and behind. I’m too scared to go for a promotion because I’m afraid of failing, I’m too scared to explore a career switch because I’m afraid of the uncertainty, and I’m too scared to explore my passion project because I’m scared at being an imposter. So many women in their 30s that are in my purview are so successful, and confident, and here I am– too afraid to speak up in a meeting because I’m convinced I’m the least smart in the room.

    I’ve been in therapy for years, but this has been my roughest year as far as self confidence and belief. The cultural (or maybe my own because I know so many successful, amazing people) pressure to Be Great and Do Great is weighing on me, especially as I creep closer to 30, but emotionally feel like I’m still a confused 21 year old. I’m considering anxiety medication now because just therapy and affirmations haven’t helped.

    I just wanted to see if anyone else felt the same way, and maybe I’m not alone. I want to get better and believe in myself, because I do feel like I want to do more. I’m just really afraid.

    1. Lucy Kean*

      I am also turning 29 this year and I feel like I could have written everything you just said about myself. It is a constant struggle to remind myself that people only post on social media the things they want to be seen. Most of that stuff is perfectly polished (and likely exaggerated) and leaves behind the ugly realities of “hustling” or whatever you want to call it.

      This year has been hard for me, too. But I noticed that the less I check social media and see other people living fabulous lives, the less I am concerned that my job (and my life) isn’t fabulous enough. Easier said than done, I know. I’m sending you good wishes with whatever avenue of mental health options you choose! You are not alone.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I echo this, to get off Clubhouse and Insta, or at least aggressively edit your feeds and get well away from people posting about how to be successful. A lot of it is inaccurate and some is a downright scam.

        The other sort of life suggestion I have is to find a cause you care about and join a group. Just get involved in something — or level up involvement if you already do this. There is a lot more to life than work and “success.” Not to get too political, but individualist, capitalist ideology is behind (what I think is) this impoverished view of what it looks like to accomplish things in life. You are right to identify this as a cultural pressure — it’s not like, a law of nature!

        Speaking from the mid-thirties…you never really get to a point where you’ve got things figured out. But hopefully you accept yourself more, and have more perspective that you incorporate into your view. I do totally get the fear of failing thing. Maybe you can try to separate that issue from the unfavorable comparisons to others habit. Elsewhere I have seen suggestions to practice failing or being bad at lower-stakes things (even simply games or new hobbies) to build resilience.

    2. Joielle*

      I have a lot of thoughts about this, and I know this way of thinking is a total oversimplification, but this is what helped me get past the same issue.

      I used to feel SO MUCH like this, and then I went to law school and realized that men do not have this problem where they’re afraid to speak up because they’re worried they’re not smart enough (I mean, I know some individual men do, but not men as a group, on average). Just some of the dumbest men I have ever met, speaking up every single day to share their ill-informed and poorly-thought-out opinions, fully believing in themselves – and some really smart women holding back. And I just thought, why should I hold myself back when these guys aren’t. If these complete idiots believe in themselves, then I should too.

      I felt like a veil was lifted when I realized this! I started saying my thoughts out loud in classes and meetings, and quelle surprise, they were very well received. The more you speak up, the more you get good feedback, the easier it gets. But they key is, you have to fully believe that your opinions are good and worthy, because they came from your brain and you’re a smart and qualified person.

      It’s really hard at first! But it gets easier. I did some therapy, which helped a lot, and took beta blockers for a while to deal with anxiety (I liked them because they basically eliminated the physical heart racing/sweaty palms/shaking voice part of anxiety and it made it a lot easier to just do things without getting worked up about them).

      I’m really sorry if this comes off as bragging or tough love! It was a hard road. But I know what you’re going through, and I feel like I had to give *myself* tough love to get past that same thing. Just remember – you’re a smart person with valuable opinions. You know they’re valuable because they came from your brain, which is smart. (Again, OF COURSE, this is an oversimplification. But for me, I couldn’t let my brain get bogged down with nuance because then I’d keep talking myself out of speaking up. Trust yourself.)

    3. Sandy*

      You’re not alone. I’m a good ten years older and have some of the same feelings. In fact, the comparison stuff can get worse over the years as people who found their niche early build success on success and are doing really amazing things now. But we all have our own path. Cliche, but still true.

      As to what to do about it, I’ve tried affirmations and for me they work best as ways to drown out negative voices in my head – I think they’re useful, but they’re not a driver of change for me. In my experience, the only driver of change has been keeping small promises to myself, putting myself out there, and doing the things that scare me. Feelings aren’t truth and the stories they tell can really hold us back. I’d encourage you to go out there and do more – even the smallest things, like speaking up in the moment – and worry less about believing in yourself. The believing is more likely to follow the doing than to precede it.

    4. motherofdragons*

      Hi! I’m 33 and SAME. You are NOT alone. Fear is such a beast. I second what others have said above – (1) Social media =/= real life, and (2) that feedback loop of “try something > it pays off > confidence boost to try another something” is effective.

      What also has helped me, honestly, is therapy. Anxiety and fear are extremely linked. When I’m anxious about something (aka I fear the outcome), I avoid it. My therapist has pointed out that in avoiding it, I am reinforcing my brain’s fear – “We think this Thing is scary, so we are avoiding the Thing, which definitely means it is scary and worth avoiding to keep us safe!” Just recognizing this pattern of thinking helps me see how ridiculous it is. So my therapist told me to approach what scares me instead of avoid it. That has really helped me confront some fears of speaking up or putting myself out there.

    5. pancakes*

      Listening to people making unverifiable boasts about how well their careers and lives are going on social media does not seem great in these circumstances. It seems like a bad idea even for someone who isn’t struggling with self-confidence, because the content is heavy on self-aggrandizement and puffery and isn’t, in my understanding, vetted in any meaningful way. Consider taking a break from it! Also consider reading a recent article about it in GQ titled, “Clubhouse wanted to be different. But bigotry flourished anyway.” The title is a little misleading because it also talks about misinformation, not just bigotry.

      Also, please don’t consider medication as something to try only as a last resort. Medication can and does help a lot of people out on a chemical level that talking things out can’t always or inherently help.

    6. A Person*

      What’s your goal with the Clubhouse app? Is it helping you? Or are you using it to make yourself feel worse?

      I highly recommend The Happiness Trap – I got it from a therapist and for me personally was the best help for my mental health stuff. I suspect based on your post you’re spending a lot of time and mental energy on what you should do and be and feel rather than identifying what you REALLY want and working on barriers. Do you WANT a promotion? Is it important for you to explore your passion? What can you do to get there? Is it okay to feel anxious and afraid while you do these things? (Hint: yes.)

      When I got out of the mindset that negative emotions were a failure in themselves and was able to switch to thinking about what I want to do (even if it’s scary and I have low self confidence) it was a HUGE boost to my career. And now I’m about to take a bit of step back because I realized I don’t want to be at this level and I still do feel a fear that I’m failing, etcetera. But today-me has the tools to recognize what is helpful and what isn’t helpful and still push through and do what’s best for me.

      Personal experience: I spent years thinking I was going to Do Science, was a research assistant, went to grad school, dropped out, etc. At 29 I was about a year out from *starting* my eventual long term career path and still a few years away from reading the book above. Are there tons of people “ahead” of me since they figured things out sooner or have more drive or whatever? Yep. Do I feel jealous and not good enough sometimes? Yep! I’m human, feelings happen. But I’ve gotten to the point where I can generally keep making the best decisions for myself despite all this.

      Ooh, another book recommendation if you want – Laziness Does not Exist. A good recent read into how much pressure we all get right now and how it’s kind of toxic.

      1. Reba*

        Oh yeah, the “shoulds” — this can be really devastating, and social media exposure can definitely feed it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Okay so go into it.
      Go one fear at at time.
      Let’s start with speaking up in meetings. Reality is that each one of us is not the smartest NOR the dumbest person in the room. And that is because we are all smart and dumb about various things, no one person knows it all.

      One thing that helped me was to vow to apologize where appropriate if I said something wrong. For example, if I stepped on someone’s toes or lawn I would apologize as soon as I realized my error. That was oddly very freeing. Deciding what to do when things went bad, helped me so much.

      On the positive side, I decided to be strategic when I did speak up. I decided to look for a point where I could make a legitimate contribution. I set a goal of speaking once or twice initially. Saying “good morning” counts, as the idea is to speak. Thanking the organizer on the way out is another opportunity to speak.

      Another angle to consider is most of what you are telling yourself are myths. Be Great, Do Great? REALLY? The reality is that success looks like “Be good, do good”. That’s the highest level most of us can expect. And ya know what? There’s a lot of satisfaction to be found just in getting that far.
      Another myth you might want to ditch is that life comes together by age 29. Naaawww…. it’s more like age 45 or later. Hang in there, it’s okay to not have checked all the boxes and done all things for all people at 29. Eh, it’s okay at age 60 too because most of us never check all the boxes.

      Small consolation? I think my 20s were HARD. Older people seem to make fun of my ideas, “oh you young people!!” And then there were the know-it-alls, “Well how come you don’t have a zillion dollars in your IRA by now???” This stuff started to slow down and almost vanished as I went through my 30s. My question to you is, if you were 200% sure that things would start getting better in the future, then what would you do differently today? I’d suggest start living now AS IF you know for a fact life will get better at some point. What I like about this is it allowed me to acknowledge that life was not wonderful atm, but at the same time gave me hope that I was going toward something better in the future.

      Other things to consider:
      I can’t tell and only you would know, are you forcing yourself into an arena that is just plain NOT YOU? Do you think you have the skills or you can gain the skills in your arena to eventually consider yourself “good” at your job? I have joked a few times here, there are reasons why I did not make a career repairing cars. I know for a fact that I would never, ever get through the learning curve. I have too many gaps in knowledge and the gaps are not something that can be bridged.

      Another thing to consider is how you handle fear when it jumps out at you. I mentioned the Crappy Childhood Fairy last week. She offers a suggestion of journalling our fears. She actually has a self-paced program to follow that involves writing down our fears each day. I have to look this closer.

      I know that many of my fears stem from childhood issues. The way I have dealt with fear was to confront fear as much as I can. I have noticed fear varies with the type of problem, some times fear is higher than other times. I do think that we can confront some lower level fears and in a small way this helps the higher level fears even if we are not dealing with higher level fear at the moment. We can only carry so much worry- try to drop off worry as often as possible by seeking solutions to each particular worry. Don’t let yourself get too big a backlog of worries.

    8. RagingADHD*

      What I learned is that for me, the idea of “Being Great and Doing Great” begs the question – being great *at what* and doing great *with what?*

      “Being” something is not actionable. It’s yelling into a fog. And that lack of specificity – that non-answer – is where the fear comes from. At least for me.

      What problems do you want to solve that impact other people? What do you believe needs changing in the world or in your industry? What skill do you want to get good at? What concrete thing do you want to create or accomplish?

      Focus your goals away from your own sense of yourself and toward things you can DO that benefit or create value for others. Nobody ever did anything great by assessing their own level of greatness. Find a small thing you can do, do it, and then do the next small thing.

      It’s the work equivalent of “don’t look down” when you’re on a bridge. Figure out what’s on the other side that you want to get to, and focus on that.

    9. CatWoman*

      I’m the same age as our new Vice President, but I’m certainly not going to compare myself to her or anyone else because there’s only one me. There’s not time or age limit on whatever makes you feel “successful”, and comparisons to what others on social media are doing/achieving/posting are exactly that – self-sabotaging. Speak up whenever you want, because your ideas and opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s in the room – trust me!

    10. Sally*

      The best way to address your fear, is to take small steps. Do something that kind of scares you, succeed at it, or fail and learn that it didn’t kill you, and recover. Then do another small thing that kind of scares you. Each time you discover you’re capable of surviving both success and failure, you gain more confidence in your ability to cope. Courage is a muscle you have to build up.

    11. Bloop*

      Wow!! I am amazed that other people are feeling this way (I really need to find friends who are feeling the same way) and also knowing that some people are in a healthier place than they were and that it could happen to me too. I’m so glad to not be alone. Thank you all for sharing your stories!

  33. writingsample*

    I am interested in applying for a job that has requested a writing sample. I am not sure why, as the position doesn’t entail any type of writing for publication or distribution etc. However I would still like to toss my hat in the ring. The problem is I don’t have any type of writing to submit. I haven’t written anything since college and I graduated in 2008. Plus I don’t even know if I have items I wrote back then. Any ideas on what to do for the writing sample?

    1. Tech Writer*

      In your last position, did you write anything that was published? It could published internally, like a magazine article – would that work as your writing sample?

    2. Not Australian*

      Your writing should have evolved since 2008 anyway, so even if you *could* locate your old work it probably wouldn’t be much use.

      Unless they specify a topic, or there is something obvious that stands out – I’m assuming not, or you wouldn’t have asked the question – I’d go with something that’s important to you personally. Do you have a hobby or a pet that would make entertaining ‘copy’? A particular location you love and visit often? An author who inspires you? Or you could maybe write a letter to your past or future self. I suspect what they’re looking for is the ability to organise your thoughts and present them logically and coherently, and this could weigh in to all sorts of useful attributes like decision processing or explaining things to clients/co-workers. In other words, they’re probably interested in your *process* rather than your *product*.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Can you find a topic relevant to the organization/position or glean anything from the directions given? I only have two positions that require writing samples (because the actual job involves writing), and we provide materials and directions for the sample itself based on an old project to finalists. Is there an HR contact on the posting who can clarify expectations?

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Until I fleshed out my portfolio, I wrote a cooking blog style recipe. Told a story, wrote the recipe and the instructions. Showed writing, instructions, formatting, educational style… and gave them a recipe for a killer chocolate cake. Bribes work. :-)

    5. Lorac*

      You could write instructions for how to do your job for your replacement. It’s a good way to show business level writing and how well you communicate, as well as being useful for your current job if you leave.

      Things like, where to look for certain information, who to contact if they have questions about stuff. All with names redacted of course. Common troubleshooting “This program crashes occasionally,y if that happens just XYZ.”

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      Is there something you do that you can write a job aid for? Or a policy/procedure type doc? That’s one of the things I wrote when I needed a writing sample that wasn’t intellectual property/proprietary.

  34. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

    Hi all!

    I need advice on how to cope with boring work when you struggle with boredom in general. I’m temporarily doing more interesting work, and when I go back to my original role it will comprise even more dull work than it did before. I was already considering leaving because I was bored six months into the job but decided to stay because the temporary role I was offered interested me and is not something I would otherwise get the chance to do (it usually requires a 4-year degree in my field where I have a 3-year (Bachelor’s) degree, but as I had proved myself capable my boss thought it was better to give me that temp position and hire another temp for mine). I was bored partly because the job is very repetitive (the same basic tasks need to be done every day, and then about a week per month there’s a bit of additional work that is more interesting) and partly because the volume of work was too low for me. It looks likely that the volume won’t be as much of an issue anymore BUT it’s going to be because additional boring tasks will be added.

    I’m okay doing boring tasks IF I know that more interesting things are coming (routinely like in a monthly accounting cycle, or upcoming projects). But I really can’t face having 95% boring work and 5% slightly-less-boring work with no hope for getting more interesting work down the line, and that is where things seem to be heading. I have a … pretty active mind, shall we say (probably not ADHD but probably Autistic, not been evaluated for either though, also #formerly gifted kids anonymous), and can find myself unable to sleep if I’m off work for too long, write macros in VBA to minimise repetitive dull tasks, etc. I’m only 30 so I feel like I’m too young to be this bored and absolutely don’t want to settle for boring work that just pays the bills; while I have a life outside of work I don’t have enough energy left over to make that exciting/fun/whatever enough to be satisfying to me—my work needs to be fulfilling too (also boring work makes me more tired than interesting work does, even if the interesting work can get very intense, so settling for boredom would impact my life outside of work too).

    Also, until this week I had been hoping to continue doing part of the work I am doing now (as I have a background that made me able to expand some of the work in the role I’m doing temporarily—the person who is coming back to this role would likely not be able to continue that part of the work, and as mentioned I had room enough to take on some more work in my original role). I’ve received glowing reviews from the C-suite about the whole of my performance but particularly about this area so I kind of had reason to hope. But this week they posted an ad for a whole new position that will take over that part of this job and parts of my boss’s job. At first I thought they might have created that position to keep me doing the work I’ve expanded on but a call with my boss made it clear that that is not the case. I feel really deflated—it’s like “sure you’ve done great but we want someone BETTER” (and my sexism radar is blaring loudly tbh, both I and the person I’m covering for are women and I’ve suspected before that my boss is uncomfortable with that). And the thanks I get for working my butt off is more grunt work?! So now my motivation is down to zero even for the interesting work that I’ll still be doing for a while longer (though it may be shorter than planned if they find whoever they’re looking for). This especially rankles as the things they want the new hire to have are things they could easily send me to training for—sure it would cost some money (and time) but SO DOES HIRING RIGHT? And they’re going to have double the hiring costs now because I am definitely leaving ASAP. (The boredom and the lack of growth opportunities are only the things that are easy to define—my boss is also horrible with his micromanagement, lack of structure and planning, and an awful way to word emails that constantly makes it seem like we’re failing to do things when actually he’s changed the expectations without telling us. I had already applied for another job when this job was posted so I’m not leaving only because of this. But as long as I was getting to do interesting enough work I was kind of prepared to overlook some of the other downsides.)

    Anyway, so, as I live in a small town and would like to take a step forward and preferably into an organisation where I’d like to stay for a while (i.e. with a boss who doesn’t micromanage, has the ability to look ahead and plan, and doesn’t constantly move the goalposts without mentioning it), AND there’s a pandemic going on … I should probably expect to be here for quite a while longer. Any tips for a) coping with the boredom and/or b) keeping my head up and keeping on doing this work after being told I’m not good enough at it? How do I pretend to be okay once I have to return to the office?

    Thanks in advance, and thanks for being such an amazing resource! I’ve learned so much both from Alison’s posts and the commentariat, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if a friend hadn’t told me about this place 6 years ago.

    1. Autumnheart*

      That sucks. I’ve had jobs before where I wasn’t challenged, and yet management seemed uninterested in giving more work, more challenging work, or developing my skills in any way. I did what you did and found a new job, but in the meantime, I think the only thing I could recommend are the usual time-passers (online courses, working on your portfolio/resume/cover letters/Linkedin, Solitaire) and maybe proactively contacting recruiters yourself. It might take a while to find a new position, but on the other hand it might not!

      1. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

        Thank you! I will re-focus on picking up the skills I want to be able to use in the future and ramp up my jobsearch.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I don’t know. Sometimes I put on a podcast and just do boring stuff for an hour. Then I do something fun

      1. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

        Thank you, I might experiment with an audiobook for the most dull stuff, though I am generally easily distracted. Sadly the fun stuff has strict deadlines (or comes in unpredictably) so I can’t really spread it out–right now I have about 2-3 weeks of (mostly) fun stuff then 1-2 weeks of dull stuff interspersed with “ad hoc” requests in the fun areas before the next round of fun stuff starts. Once the temp position is finished it’ll be more like dull stuff all month interspersed with about 1 week a month of fun-ish stuff.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Boredom would have killed me. I would have died young. I have such a low tolerance for boredom that I can’t even talk to a stranger online about boredom. So no tips from me, I can’t encourage you to remain bored.

      My best thought and I mean it in the kindest way you can think of: Stop limiting yourself. Start looking for that job NOW. And this is how you will deal with the boredom at work by telling yourself, “I have a plan. I am moving on.”
      Don’t waste these precious months waiting for that “ideal” time to job hunt. YOUR ideal time is RIGHT NOW. This job was over awhile ago.

      1. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

        Wow, thanks, this means so much. Part of me worries I’m being a spoiled brat for wanting to actually use my brain so hearing that it’s not just me makes it feel more legitimate!

        And thanks for the encouragement to get on with getting a new job! I have been monitoring ads for months now and the job I’ve applied for is the ONLY one in that time that’s been appropriate but I’m going to reach out to some temp agencies and the recruiters I was in contact with in my last search so I’ll be on file for when they get any positions to fill.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Part of me worries I’m being a spoiled brat for wanting to actually use my brain so hearing that it’s not just me makes it feel more legitimate!”

          hmm. This is what overthinking looks like. Spoiled brats don’t want to use their minds or their muscles to earn a living. You, OTOH, are saying you want to use more of your mind to earn a living.

          Life tends to go toward whatever we demand out of life. If you want a job different than what you have now, then start looking for it. I am amazed by how many times in my personal life and working life that things have changed for me simply because I decided to start looking for something different. Keep talking with others. This is another thing that has been of huge value in my life, inputs from others, who are not necessarily ones close to me. But I was selective about who I talked with.

        2. allathian*

          You seem to be so over this job. You want to be challenged and there’s nothing wrong with that. Boreout is a real thing and can be as bad for you as burnout. It leads to disengagement from the job, as you’ve noted yourself. Personally, if I had to choose, I’d rather be bored than overstretched, but most of all I prefer to be suitably challenged most of the time, neither bored nor stressed out.

          Employers that actually value engagement in their employees don’t let them get bored.

          While it’s true that young professionals in many fields have to pay their dues in possibly boring entry level jobs, good companies are always on the lookout for employees who want more than that.

  35. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

    Just had an interview for a job that I’d know I’d crush. It was great.

    The drawback is that on the application materials it said it was a 40 hour position. Then, in an email with me, they tell me its “slightly less than full time” and when I got to the interview and asked them to clarify, “its more like 32.”

    UGH. Like, unless there’s a 20% or more pay increase from what I’m currently making, this isn’t going to be an option for me.

    Why can’t places be upfront about something as simple as HOURS???

      1. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

        Fortunately, the same email that said “less than full time” did give benefits, otherwise it would have been a complete non-starter.

  36. Bonbon*

    How many hours per week do you work? (not including your commute, but including time at home answering emails, etc)

    1. londonedit*

      My contracted hours are 37.5 a week, and that’s pretty much what I do. I don’t answer emails or do work outside of my normal working day but I can’t say I take a full hour for lunch every day (especially since 2020 happened and I’m working from home without anywhere interesting to go!)

      1. Nessun*

        Same – 37.5 h per week minimum (we track our time). I’m in management, so I’m salaried and my OT does not get paid out; I do sometimes work more hours in a week, but it’s nothing egregious. Sometimes I’ll hit 44 hours a week, but not very often, and I can decide for myself when that extra happens (weekend, after hours).

      1. Becky*

        Ditto–I work generally right a 40. When I qualified for OT pay I would take it when I could but now that I don’t qualify–my boss is great about letting us take comp time, unofficially.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      My work is fairly cyclical and flexible. During my busy time I average around 45 hours a week, but sometimes up to 55. During my non-busy time, I’m probably around 38 hours a week.

    3. anonymous for secret reasons*

      Technically scheduled for 36.25 but it varies from more like 32 to more like 45-50 depending on project load. US, nonexempt but treated like an exempt employee. My actual work would have me classified as exempt, but my job title is firmly nonexempt, and my boss and I have been in a dispute with HR for months and months trying to have that discrepancy resolved. (Yeah, I am looking at other jobs…)

    4. A penguin!*

      39-42 most weeks. Just came off a rare (once ever so far) push of 50-55/week that lasted maybe six weeks.

      Engineering manager, US

    5. ThatGirl*

      I’m scheduled (not in a time clock sort of way, but in a “here’s what my manager and I agreed on”) for 7:30 to 4:30 with an hour for lunch. In reality that doesn’t sort to precisely 40 hours because I get up to take the dog out, or yesterday my lunch was cut short by a meeting, or I shut my computer down 10 minutes early — but yeah, it’s usually pretty close to 40.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Officially, 7-3:30 with a 30 minute lunch. Practically, I usually log in between 6:45-6:50 and log out between 3:30 and 3:45, and almost never actually take my lunch, so … 43-45? But I also, as a result, don’t get too fussed if I take a couple AAM breaks during the day or if I have to skip out an hour early for an appointment or whatever, and my boss is also unconcerned about such a thing. I’m willing to stay later for meetings or such when necessary, our powers that be tend to be more the 9-5 schedule types, but that’s rare – but I don’t touch my work email or such outside of my scheduled hours.

    7. Kiwiii*

      I probably average about 41. I’m non exempt and overtime isn’t really necessary except for maybe one outside of regular hours testing thing a month (I work a role that’s not tech, but works closely with tech), or a little crunch time.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I rarely check email/chat outside of hours unless it’s just that I got off a little before whoever has a question/needs some help.

    8. Crowley*

      30. I work 6hrs 5 days. I could do 4 normal full time days but when the kid is in school it doesn’t seem worth it.

      Usual full time for my org is 37.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      It varies greatly between 40 and 70 depending on what is going on but I would say I average around 55.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m non-exempt and work 40 hours a week with very occasional overtime. I typically work 10 – 15 hours of OT per year now, compared to previous jobs where I worked 10 – 15 hours of OT per week. It’s definitely an improvement in my work/life balance! I occasionally check email after hours if I am expecting something that needs to be taken care of before the next working day.

    11. Ali G*

      35. i typically don’t do any emails or anything outside work hours. If i have to stay late for a call one day, I work less another. The only times I work outside of normal hours are if I’ve procrastinated and did it to myself.

    12. Glitsy Gus*

      Around 45-50 hours a week. I’m salaried, so I don’t really track beyond what I need to do for billing/metrics tracking and it does flex a bit based on what happening but I would say that’s the average.

      I am trying to scale that back, my job is jerking me around a lot and I’m tired of doing work well above my current title level and not getting paid for it so I’m working on putting in some boundaries there. Hopefully in a few months 40-42 will be closer to the norm.

    13. Veronica*

      This doesn’t count the time I spend thinking about my projects while I exercise, shower, listen to my kids tell me about the latest Minecraft updates….

    14. Maggie*

      40 hours, but its 9 hour days because we have a mandated hour lunch. But I always take the full hour probably 98% of the time and I take a break too.

    15. Hillary*

      Right now I average around 35. My projects for the year haven’t been officially approved and I can’t travel. Under normal times I work between 40 and 80 hours, more if you count travel time. I prefer to “waste” a day getting there early to adjust to the time zone. I can’t go from an overnight flight straight into a full day of meetings and be productive.

    16. LCS*

      “Slow” times, anywhere from 45-60 hours. Busy periods (about 8-10 weeks a year) is 75-100+ hours per week. One week out of 6 I’m on call so need to be attached to my phone, completely sober, and able to physically be at work in <1 hour if the phone rings. It doesn’t ring often but still puts a damper on other extracurricular options, or at least it would in non-COVID times. It’s honestly kind of ridiculous. Compensation is good, anywhere from $150-200k depending on bonus (Canadian, so adjust that accordingly and account for high taxes). And on paper I have a ton of vacation but it’s hard to actually take it without still checking in / responding to emails. Seriously considering if it’s worth it or not.

    17. Chaordic One*

      I work 40 hours according to my time card, but realistically I probably put in between 41 to 43 hours per week.

    18. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I’m salaried for 40 but honestly, I only have to put in a true 15-20 hours per week to stay on top of my work.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Me too! I can probably get away with about 30 hours of actual work per week, which means I take somewhat frequent breaks throughout the day and don’t rush on tasks. Sometimes I feel like a slacker but other times pretty okay with it

    19. allathian*

      I’m not in the US, and my official workweek is 36 hours 15 minutes, so 7 hours 15 minutes per day. That said, I can put in that work between 6 am and 11 pm every day, and there’s a banking system for overtime. We must take a 30-minute break at some point if we work at least 6 hours, but that’s pretty much the only requirement. We don’t get paid overtime except in very exceptional circumstances. I mostly have between 10 and 50 banked hours. I’m expected to attend meetings that I’ve accepted the invitation to, but as long as I keep my calendar updated so that people know when I’ll be available, I can pretty much determine my own working hours freely, especially given that my job doesn’t require much synchronous collaboration. The flexibility has certainly helped me maintain a healthy work-life balance.

      Given the flexibility I have, I don’t answer emails outside of my “working hours”. If I get an urgent message at 6 pm on my phone and I’ve stopped working at 3, I just log on again and put in as much time as it takes to deal with that urgent message, or a minimum of 15 minutes, because we log our working hours in 15-minute increments. That said, this has happened once in the 7 years when this flexibility has been available to us.

    20. MissDisplaced*

      Generally 40-45. Usually it’s not more unless there is a big important meeting or something.

      Since being WFH I have to admit there are some weekdays I slack off, but end up working on the weekend instead. It has been distracting lately.

  37. Here we go again*

    My boss told me to call the Assistant Manager “Fergus” to go pick up Teapots. When I called Fergus and asked, he said, “No- that’s not going to happen. Tell her to ask John or Jane.” and hung up.

    John and Jane weren’t available, so I went to go pick up the Teapots. While I was driving, Fergus called me and said that he could have gone to pick up the teapots. He said that he was “just joking”.

    Um, excuse me? For someone joking, he sounded pretty serious.

    Fergus is also allergic to work, so I shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. He’s there for socializing and anything food related, but when it comes to meetings, or anything work related, he doesn’t want to do it. He’s also the epitome of the “kiss up/kick down” and sucks up to the higher ups and puts down anyone lower than him.

    The problem? Him and my boss are close friends and talk frequently, boss knows his family and lets him get away with everything, so going to the boss won’t help.

    Is this a lost cause? (ie: “Your coworker stinks and isn’t going to change”) Should I be doing anything?

    Fergus now thinks that I’m mad at him, but I just wish that he wouldn’t joke around so much with work stuff. I told him this, but I don’t think that he will listen.

    1. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      I wouldn’t cover for Fergus anymore! You were told to tell him to pick up the teapots. Its not your responsibility to make sure that he gets them. He’s an adult.

      1. anastaziad*

        Heartily agree. You were told to TELL Fergus to do something, but instead you ASKED him to do it, opening up the door to his refusal. If your boss wanted YOU to pick up the teapots, your boss would have asked or told you to do so. You took time away from your other work …not good.

    2. PollyQ*

      1) Fergus’s moods & beliefs are his problem. He probably thinks you’re mad because he knows that’s a valid reaction.
      2a) If Fergus ever pushes back on any work assignment at all in the future, say “Ha! Good one, Fergus! But seriously, I’ll let Boss know you’ll be getting the teapots.”
      2b) OR, if Fergus pushes back, tell him you’ll let Boss know that he’ll be unable to do that. Then tell Boss, and ask how you should proceed. Do not take on the task as yours unless Boss explicitly tells you to. I hear you that Boss coddles Fergus, but that shouldn’t mean that you also need to cover for Fergus. “Return the awkward” to Boss and let him deal with it.

    3. Observer*

      To some extent it’s a lost cause. You cannot change him, but you CAN change how you handle this stuff.

      So in a situation like this, you call Fergus and *tell* him “Boss said to go pick up the teapots.” You stay in STRICT message delivery mode. If he says “Tell boss blah blah” respond with “Tell boss yourself” and then hang up. If he says that and hangs up, go back to boss (preferably in email) and say “Fergus said to tell you blah blah and then hung up.” And that’s it. Don’t make any offers, don’t ask what to do, nothing. Let the boss figure this one out.

      If the boss has you do the work Fergus refused to do, make sure that you let the boss know what you won’t be able to do because you are doing Fergus’ work. And if Fergus tells you “I was just joking” tell him “I didn’t know that. I can’t tell when you are joking unless you tell me so.” And keep on repeating that. Whether you “SHOULD HAVE KNOWN” or “You have no sense of humor” or “whatever”, stick to “I can’t tell if you are joking about this stuff unless you tell me so.” Just be a broken record.

    4. Workerbee*

      Sounds like Fergus suddenly got worried that you would, rightfully, let the boss know of his behavior, so called you and pretended he’d been joking.

      Ferguses deserve to be reported on. They already give you all the facts you need to present a clear case every time. Doing work for the Ferguses just teaches them that you are there to be used.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Any chance you could e-mail Fergus in the future? A paper or e-mail trail could be helpful.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You have a crappy coworker. But your boss is even worse than the coworker because the boss should not allow this situation to exist.

      I don’t see anything wrong with Fergus thinking you are mad at him. I would have said, “I don’t come to work to fluff off, I come to work to… you know… work.”

    7. The New Wanderer*

      Fergus was trying to CYA so you don’t report him to the boss for acting like a jerk. He wasn’t just joking. Just joking would be “Nope, too busy! Ha ha just kidding, I’ll do it.” NOT saying “no, get someone else,” and then hanging up on you. That’s disrespectful of him and him saying you’re mad at him is him trying to make it *your* fault.

      I’d have been very tempted to email him, cc’ing Boss, and saying “You disconnected before I could confirm, so I’m reiterating Boss’ instruction that you please pick up the Teapots.”

      At the very least, next time Boss asks you to ask Fergus to do something, I’d say “Hmm, based on my previous experience, he might take that request coming better from you. Last time I tried to pass along the request he hung up on me.” Being friends with Fergus, your boss might downplay it but I think that gives you an opening if it happens again to say, “sorry Boss, Fergus is just not receptive to me relaying your instructions.”

    8. RagingADHD*

      Fergus is messing with you. Just don’t play.

      If he pulls something like that, immediately shoot him and Boss an email “just confirming that Fergus refused to pick up the teapots. I have reached out to John and Jane but they are not available. Would you like me to go get them? It will mean I can’t do X, Y, and Z while I’m gone.”

      Make Fergus’ so-called sense of “humor” your boss’s problem instead of yours. It will stop very fast.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yep. This. Fergus will probably tell the boss he was joking, but if this happens a lot, the boss will probably tell him to knock it off.

    9. Budgie Buddy*

      Fergus sounds kind of right that you are mad at him tho? And it seems like the issue is more that he slacks off his work and mistreats his fellow employees than just that he jokes too much.

      1. pancakes*

        If he was genuinely concerned about anyone being mad at him he wouldn’t behave the way he does. I wouldn’t take his feigned concern about it any more seriously than the kissing up behavior OP described, which is a type of affectation.

  38. Might Be Spam*

    How do we handle my mother’s caregiver, who doesn’t want to wear a mask? Mom is legally competent but doesn’t stand up for herself. We finally talked her into getting a part time caregiver through an agency. The first day the caregiver didn’t have a mask so we got a box of kn95 masks. When I asked my mom how it worked out, she said they weren’t using them. Mom says she is probably safe, but we don’t know how many other people the caregiver is exposed to. We contacted the agency who told the caregiver to wear the mask.

    Yesterday I learned that she still isn’t wearing a mask. Mom is uncomfortable about the risk, but also has some difficulty understanding the caregiver because the mask mufflers her voice and she also has an accent.

    We don’t want mom to possibly die. How do we get the caregiver to wear a mask if she is able to manipulate my mom into saying it’s OK not to wear it? Mom is paying, so we can’t fire her.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Call the agency again and state that the caregiver still isn’t wearing masks, and they need to fix it, stat. Given that they’ve already told this individual once to wear a mask and they’re still not complying, you probably need a different caregiver.

    2. Slipping The Leash*

      I’d do what I could to get this person fired – lack of judgement, lack of responsibility, believing fairy tales are real – she is a danger to the agency’s clients. I certainly wouldn’t allow her back in the house with your mom.

    3. PollyQ*

      Contact the agency and tell them you need a different carer who will wear the mask 100% of the time. This is a literal life and death situation.

    4. Observer*

      Contact the agency – it’s not like your mother thinks that this person is her protective angel. You’re mother doesn’t like confrontation, but if you tell your mother that you are going to see if the agency will send someone else, I’m sure she won’t mind.

      And when you call tell the agency that you are actually providing the masks, so this is NOT an issue of asking someone who is relatively low paid being asked to carry the burden of masking!

    5. Might Be Spam*

      We contacted the agency again today and they said they would talk to her again. I have to be careful asking my mom because she might be afraid to tell me the truth. If she sounds evasive, I’ll have to make a surprise visit to verify the situation. Technically I can’t fire anybody because my mom is paying.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s not a good response from them. I think at minimum you should contact them again and request a different carer rather than waiting on them to continue having ineffectual chats with the current one. Best thing to do would probably be to hire someone else through a different agency, though. I understand your mom is paying but she is being put in serious danger by this.

      2. tangerineRose*

        “they said they would talk to her again” This sounds like at least partially an agency issue. Do they have no one else to send? Seems like, even if they want to give the person another chance (I don’t know if I would), they could send her somewhere else and not back to your mom again.

      3. PollyQ*

        Do you have the option of switching to another agency? This is a very poor response, and it suggests that even if you got a different carer from them, the new person would be no better.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Report her to the agency again and ask for someone else!

      You don’t negotiate with people like that. You fire them.

    7. Cassidy*

      You get a different caregiver who willingly wears a mask and who reminds your mother to put on her own if she forgets to. Meanwhile, you report the “caregiver” – quotes intended – who refuses to wear a mask.

      The remedy here couldn’t be clearer

  39. Not a Tech Person*

    Any advice for onboarding outside of your subject area?

    I’m a director who is (virtually) onboarding a new technology leader. I’m not a tech person, and this is our first time hiring for this role because we haven’t been big enough to need the position before. My role and experience is more tech-adjacent, and our needs were getting far outside of my expertise.

    I’m having trouble keeping up with this new person, in part because I don’t know what they do. (If I did, I would do it myself!) I don’t know how long it takes to learn the things they need to learn about our tech environment, or how to set expectations for ownership and management when this isn’t really my area at all. Has anyone else been here?

    1. Bobina*

      Hm. I’ve not had your exact experience, but I would say if you are tech adjacent – give them an overview of where you currently are, the things *you* know and need from the tech, and then leave the rest up to them.

      I’m also curious about expectations for ownership and management – ideally when the role was created, some of this should have been figured out right? Ie where they sit in the org chart and…what the responsibilities of the role are? Does this person report to you or are they going to be a peer?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The first group of things comes under general orientation to company rules and policies.
      Then there are standard operating procedures such as how to call in sick and other similar things.

      The next layer is the job itself. In addition to telling him what is needed explain that you will also need some idea as to time frame for a various projects and what supplies, etc he will need. You don’t want him sitting there waiting for you to buy X, when you don’t even know X is needed.

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

      How were they recruited in the first place, is there someone else at your company who was more involved / had more detailed technical knowledge in order to assess the new person’s suitability for the role? If so could you try reaching out to whoever that is for input?

  40. Anonymouse*

    “John” in IT is supposed to help out with our Llama Database. I need data uploaded and it’s in XML format which I don’t know how to convert from an excel file. John has uploaded data for us before.

    I told my boss this because we have a lot of data coming in that will need to be uploaded. The Llama database company makes a converter that accepts different file types and my boss told me to look into it so that we “won’t have to bother John with this if we don’t have to.”

    I understand her reasoning, but this is part of John’s job! I realize that he is busy, but otherwise it will take me a long time to key in the data. My boss always wants to figure things out for herself, which is sometimes good so that you’re not bothering anyone, but it is also helpful to get their input. There might be someone other than John that can figure it out as well.

    My boss also does this with other people in our department- we needed help, but she said that she “felt bad” and didn’t want to ask “Archibald”. She’s his boss! He was happy to help, but I don’t understand her hesitation.

    Any advice on this would be appreciated.

    1. Excel Jedi*

      Honestly, you have two different issues here. One is a boss who doesn’t like to ask for help. The other is a mentality that job definitions shouldn’t change.

      If there’s a widget that allows you to upload documents more easily, without going to an IT person, and which would free that IT person up for more complex work, that sounds like a win to me. Your manager is right to want to look into those solutions. I’d be confused and concerned if my staff complained about being able to take on uploading work themselves instead of relying on tech.

      The fact that your manager feels bad about asking for help is her and her manager’s problem, not yours to fix.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. As someone who works with a lot of data/databases, if there is a conversion tool/plug-in designed by the database manufacturer, these are almost always a better choice than having a human convert and load it (from both a time and risk-of-error standpoint). One of my teams IS John, and I’d still buy that tool for them to reduce the time and human error (which impacts time, credibility, etc.) and keep them focused on more important things.

        That doesn’t address the boss’s hesitancy to ask for help, but Excel Jedi is right that those are separate issues, the latter of which isn’t really something you can do much about other than flag when it impacts your ability to do your job.

        1. Observer*

          Exactly this.

          Keep in mind that if you push back on this, you lose a lot of credibility to also push back when it’s legitimate.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I can’t speak to much on the manager situation, but if you don’t have a dedicated database administrator, then it is probably a good idea to have a tool to do as much as you can on your end. (Is it Alteryx? It’s a blast to use! Get it!)
      If any big IT projects or emergencies come up then database stuff always seems to get moved to the bottom of the to-do list. It would be a good insurance method to bring some of the work into your department so you can keep moving forward if IT has delays.

    3. PollyQ*

      A function conversion program should take an XML file and spit out an Excel file, with minimal human interaction. There should be no “keying in of data” by anyone. This seems like a good plan and a good use of money.

    4. Observer*

      It’s always sensible to find tools that will automate tasks if the automation actually works correctly. It’s stupid to push back on it because “that’s part of X’s job”.

      If you boss is telling you to manually rekey data instead of “bothering John”, sure, push back. It’s a bigger waste of your time to re-key than for him to convert the files. But your boss is telling your to find out about a tool that does the conversion, not rekeying the data so why are you bringing that up?

    5. Girasol*

      Can you arrange with John to give you access to a tool that converts from your favored format and uploads the data, or if none exists, put a formal request for one in IT’s work queue?

  41. Noncompliance Officer*

    How do you suggest dealing with HR when the HR person is generally unpleasant and often wrong? Our current HR person came from outside the agency and outside our field. They are unfamiliar with our agency policies, but also just wrong about general HR stuff. For example, what qualifies for FMLA, ADA procedures, etc. My boss and I have both had to correct this person multiple times, which has not done wonders for the relationship or how they treat our department.

    1. Late Bloomer*

      Yikes. I would bring it up (gently) with your boss if you have a good relationship with them, as they seem to be noticing the issues as well.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      G0 to your HR person’s manager. It would help if your boss and their colleagues feel the same and express their frustration. HR has performance issues and bad hires just like every other department. Treat this just like you have a bad IT support person and raise the issue with their manager.

    3. Observer*

      You need to kick this upstairs. Skip “general” and “unpleasant”. Stick to specific factual situations. Like “when Susie’s daughter got sick HR person claimed that we needed to x information about the diagnosis in order to allow her to take FMLA.”‘ “HR Person said that we can’t start the interactive ADA process until Fergus explicitly asks for an accommodation”, “HR person says we don’t have to listen to Julie’s doctor about accommodations. We can choose the accommodation we want and she needs to accept that.”

    4. Pond*

      Is there someone above the HR person that your boss (or boss’ boss or someone at a closer level) could go to?

  42. warmeverythingbagel*

    I’ve been job searching for the better part of the pandemic, though I did land a steady survival job less than a week after I was laid off back in May 2020 (not in my preferred industry, but a good fit for my skills). I applied for a job at the company that laid me off before Christmas, emailed my previous supervisor who is the head of the department I applied within, and felt really good about it since she emailed me back within ten minutes saying what wonderful news it was that I had applied and that she would be reaching out soon.

    It had been radio silent until this Wednesday when a previous coworker (who didn’t get laid off) reached out with a form email that asked me to fill out a Google survey so they can “get to know me better.” From my POV, the survey is their way to handle a flood of applications and the fact that they laid off all entry-level positions and they don’t have anyone with enough bandwidth to conduct phone screens. But the survey seems so impersonal and I know that I answered basically every question in my cover letter (such as, “Why did the job posting interest you?” and “What relevant experience do you have that is the most similar to this role?”).

    And although I’m not technically an internal candidate, it feels like I am in some ways because I have so much history in this company. the role is very similar to my previous role, and I know everyone in this department so well. So I guess I’m frustrated too that I’ve been lumped in with the bulk of the candidates to do an equivalent to a phone screen. I just want to work in my industry again! Anyone experiencing something similar? I know job searching can be tough but I have worked consistently in my difficult-to-break-into industry since college and am feeling the struggle for the first time because of COVID.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      I feel your frustration, that would be very annoying. I think first, keep reminding yourself what you said in you post, this really isn’t personal and the email and survey were probably auto-generated and sent to everyone. It’s possible that the person you technically received the email from didn’t even see your name, that the mail merge did that job. SO, yeah, this isn’t a snub, it’s just computers doing their thing.

      Fill in the survey and don’t hold back in pointing out that the reason you’re qualified is because you already worked there and know the job. After you send it back, drop a quick email to your old supervisor and let her know you completed that step. That way she can know to keep an eye out if there is anything she can do to help move you to the top of the pile. Then tell yourself once again, that yes, this is very annoying, but it isn’t personal.

    2. WellRed*

      Did you respond to the former coworker to verify you had to take it. They may not have been paying attention.

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      It may be that they are trying to treat all applicants fairly by making everyone complete the survey or they may not have sorted through the applications yet to see if there are any known candidates. Use the survey as another opportunity to sell yourself.

      Also reach out to your previous supervisor again to let her know you have applied and received the initial survey. I think Alison had a letter recently where she said that if you had an internal contact you knew well it was OK to let them know you had applied so they would keep an eye out for your application as they screen.

  43. The Turtle*

    If you’re switching careers, how long do you give yourself in a relatively complicated job (i.e., my job is heavily built on relationship building and also federal regs to learn) to feel competent? I’m at month 8 and while I’m getting…some of it. I feel slow on learning some of these things. There are also parts of my job that I haven’t really done, just observed my boss doing, but will eventually take over. I’m trying my best not to compare buuuut. How long do you think it takes (or how long did it take you) to feel really confident in your job?

    1. Littorally*

      My job is similar (relationship building & federal regs) and I would say it took me at least a year to really feel like I wasn’t still learning the job when I started in this industry. I’ve been in my current role since mid-May and I’m still running into new situations or asking my more experienced colleagues for help with odd wrinkles of our
      function probably 2-3 times a week.

    2. Just a PM*

      It took me about a year but even still, I’m not as confident as I’d like to be because most of the people I’m having meetings with, I have never met them in person. (I started at my job 6 weeks before we went to WFH and I was still very much onboarding at the time.) I also do federal regulations and policies and that was such a learning curve I only had my jello moment a couple of weeks ago.

      Cut yourself some slack! You started a new job in a new career during a really weird and crazy time. It’s okay to take longer to learn and do what you’re there for.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’m a big believer that it takes a year to really get your feet fully under you in a new job. At 8 months you are hitting the spot where you are figuring things out but realize you still don’t know what you don’t know and that can be frustrating. Give it a little more time.

  44. Late Bloomer*

    I feel like I got a late start in my career, through a combo of the early aughts recession, the place I was born and my own lack of knowledge/laziness. I tried to chase my dream of working in art non-profits. Now I’m almost 35, making 38k (a full time job with benefits, gaining more transferable skills, which is probably the pinnacle I can expect!) in an expensive city and thinking of going back to school (part time, in the evenings) for a whole new career in the legal field (paralegal/legal assistant). I hope to be able to make a little more money and have more financial security. Am I insane? Is this a pipe dream? COVID has me questioning everything.

    1. Reba*

      Not at all.

      Have you looked into arts law and entertainment law as part of this research? If there is a demand for that in your area, that would seem to me a way that this career path would “make sense” (not that that is necessary, but it can feel good to have a story to tell!).

    2. Ginger Baker*

      Depending on where you live and what kind of firm you work for, you can make quite decent money as a paralegal. If you are able to show transferable skills for an admin (still often titled Legal Secretary….) job in the meantime, that should still be a big step up from where you are. For reference, you should definitely make between 70k and 90k as a legal secretary/admin for a BigLaw firm in NYC (possibly less with a smaller firm) and should make more than that as a paralegal in the same firm.

      1. Late Bloomer*

        That’s in line with that (experienced) paralegals make where I live. I’d be happy with 50k-60k, honestly. Part of what makes it very tempting.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Not ridiculous at all. I know lots of people who got a paralegal cert after trying other things first. I also know some who went to law school in their 30’s and 40’s. If it seems like work you’d be good at and find satisfying, that’s a great reason.

      Nobody is keeping score. You’re not “late” to anything. You were doing one kind of work, now you are going to do something different.

      People change career tracks all the time, for all kinds of reasons. It’s normal.

    4. Venus*

      I like the advice “What age would you be if you didn’t try this?” You are eventually going to be 40 and 50 years old. What do you want to be doing then?

    5. mreasy*

      I recommend looking at Devon Price’s writing about laziness and trying not to refer to yourself that way (I am also trying to break the habit). You are not insane and this seems like a very realistic path.

    6. Malika*

      Better now than never! You want to transfer to what seems to be a stable and attainable field. It therefore seems like a highly sensible situation.
      After finally being diagnosed with adhd at 38 and receiving medication, I feel since this year that i can achieve my potential for the first time in my life. I am sure to an outsider i came accross as lazy. In reality i was struggling, but couldn’t even articulate this to myself. In these situations it’s very tempting to compare ourselves to people with linear career paths. I hope you can appreciate your progress, and that you can keep taking steps forwards in your career development.

      1. Late Bloomer*

        This is really kind of you to share. I was diagnosed with major depression and general anxiety disorder as a teen (and was raised by someone with untreated mental illness) and I have lately been feeling that I had different (lower) expectations for myself because of it. I didn’t really find effective treatment until I was in my late twenties, which is a big part of why I feel like I’ve just gotten started even though I’m older.

  45. LGC*

    So I just got transferred to a new office, and…for the first time in months, I’m bored at work! It’s great.

    The minor issue (relatively speaking) is that some people habitually wear their masks improperly. What’s the best way to approach this as a new supervisor? I don’t want to be overbearing. (I’ve also caught my current co-supervisor with her mask partly down as well.)

    The MAJOR issue is…the project is pretty delayed, from what my boss has said. But I’m not sure whether she wants me to address this or whether it’s not an issue right now, given that the client is working with a skeleton crew right now.

    1. Captain Biggs and Wedge*

      If the office poster police is not too strict, there might be no harm in printing some of those half-joking “How to Wear a Facemask” PSAs in the office.

      1. LGC*

        I used to be the poster police! And actually I think we do have some of those posters (they’re ubiquitous here).

    2. LGC*

      Okay, so, I phrased the second part awkwardly. My boss said the project was very behind, and I think I’m pretty good at getting production on schedule. But I’m extremely wary about bulldozing people, and I’m not sure if she’s even that concerned (in the past, other projects have been significantly delayed and she didn’t address it until the customer brought it up).

      It’s also a project I have past familiarity with, so I’m not starting from scratch. And I might have some ideas. But I’m not sure whether they want my input.

      1. Bobina*

        Why not just ask her? I’ve gone to my boss and said “This thing is delayed, do you want me to try and push as much as possible or are you fine with how things are?” Sometimes there are other priorities and they dont care, sometimes they do.

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

      Are being “bored at work” and the lateness of the project linked? (as in, e.g. .. you are “downstream” of something that’s got delayed, so you/your team can’t carry out your part of the project until upstream has delivered their part?)
      Can you get a feeling from your co-supervisor (or your direct reports, as long as you “trust but verify”! :) …) about what the situation is?
      Based on what you’ve said, I think “the project is pretty delayed” is just factual information, or she would have asked you to take action, but check with boss rather than assume!
      Is there anything else (tactical/strategic as it may be) work you can take on in the meantime to be in a better place for working on the project when it ramps up, or just to be in a better place in general as the new supervisor?

  46. Midwestern Weegie*

    How do I ask for less money….?

    My current company is liquidating, and I have an excellent job offer on the table. It’s doing the same work I’m currently doing and very much enjoy, but it’s a temporary position without benefits. I am pregnant, and have young children, who were on my insurance. My spouse’s insurance is unaffordable (think 4 figures per month). Currently, my children and I qualify for Medicaid, which I will lose if I take this offer.

    I really don’t know how to say “yes, I want this job… but I want less money than you’re offering” without sounding like a complete idiot, or laying all my cards on the table.

    1. Weekend Please*

      First, consider reaching out to an insurance broker to find out what type of subsidy you would qualify for if you took the job and got an ACA plan. You may be surprised and find it is actually affordable with the subsidy. Most insurance brokers do not charge a consultation fee so you have nothing to loose and can get a better understanding of your options.

      If you won’t get enough of a subsidy, then I think you need to simply be honest with he company. Tell them that you can’t afford to lose medicaid for a temporary position without benefits and what salary you would need them to offer in order to accept (both the number that keeps you medicaid eligible and the number that you need to buy other insurance).

      1. Midwestern Weegie*

        I did reach out to an insurance broker the day my company announced the liquidation. I am guaranteed to hit my deductible this year, what with having a baby and all, which means that I have to factor an extra couple of thousand dollars into the cost. The breakdown was basically I’d need $8 more per hour than they’re offering in order to not go into debt from the deductible, or ask for $5 less per hour in order to keep medicaid.

        I’d be making less money than the team I’d be leading (I get to bring my team with me!), but at least I won’t have thousands of dollars of medical debt…

      2. Weekend Please*

        Another thing to look into is whether your kids would qualify for CHIP and whether that would make this job feasible.

    2. Disco Janet*

      Does this job offer insurance that you’d be able to afford with the pay increase? If not, you may have to lay your cards on the table here. Not ideal, but might be necessary.

      1. Midwestern Weegie*

        Nope- nothing. No benefits whatsoever, which is why they offered a pretty decent increase from my previous salary.

    3. CatCat*

      I’d lay the cards on the table if this is a deal breaker (and it sounds like it is!). This blows and it is frustrating how Medicaid can be all-or-none.

      Maybe something like, “I’m excited about the position and would love to accept! However, because their are no health insurance benefits, I rely on other coverage through a healthcare program hard income limits. As such, I can only accept the offer if the pay is $X. Would that work?”

      My biggest concern is if this lead to full time work with benefits at the same company and the company tries to keep you at the same rate of pay. But cross that bridge when you come to it if getting this temporary position is more important for your current situation.

    4. Another JD*

      Will you meet the Medicaid income requirements at the current offer once your baby is born? If so, maybe ask for $x-5 now, then $X+5 as a guaranteed raise when your baby is born?

      Did you check the price of COBRA insurance?

      Can you ask for PTO and a lower salary?

      P.S. I’m sorry and this sucks.

    5. Jaded Millenial*

      One strategy: ask they to trade a portion of your salary for more vacation time! Then you get two benefits!
      If they say no, then you might have to have the other discussions…
      Good luck!

  47. helpet*

    I don’t want to go back into the office! I work in public health and up until about 4 months ago my job required me to physically go into an off-site work location every day (february through four months ago…) I got transitioned into a new project that can technically be done almost 100% from home (a few things like boxing up items or inspecting items and mailing them out that I might need to go in like every other week or so). But my supervisor is super old fashioned and moved me and my other coworker on this project into this little office in our new location. He hasn’t explicitly said “you can never work from home,” but he’s always badmouthing and making fun of work from home people. for being lazy and he clearly thinks people just can’t/don’t work from home. The rest of our office (who had been doing a combination of telework and working at our normal office location since February) have been exclusively teleworking since December due to a massive increase in cases.

    Anyway, we’ve had a few COVID cases the past couple months and last week a coworker who I had fairly close contact with tested positive. She literally came in that morning and took one of the rapid tests and was positive. I was on my way in so one of my coworkers called and told me I don’t have to come in if I don’t want to. So I didn’t lol. Everyone else is apparently going in and getting rapid tests every day. I haven’t been in since and no one had discussed me returning but I am guessing they will soon or I need to talk about it soon. I had already been testing the waters with teleworking by asking to do it on a specific day of the week because that day is literally zoom meetings from 7:00 to 6:00 and there’s no need for me to be in the office for that (there’s not a need anyway, but at least it was an excuse haha).

    How can I possibly approach just not going back unless I need to? What is the best wording and how should I bring up my return (or should I wait for someone to ask when I’m coming back?) I feel like they’ll want me in at least a few days a week. There’s so many reasons I don’t want to keep going in 1) I used to walk 8 minutes to work and now I’m driving 20 and I have severe driving anxiety 2) my work hours are now approximately 7-6 when they used to be 8-4 and it’s much better to do that from home… 3) COVID!!! Why expose myself and others if it’s not necessary? All my coworkers (other than the one who just got COVID) are 65+ older men or young men in their 20’s who are super “tough guys” and I’m a healthy 26 year old woman so I know I’ll be judged for being scared of COVID when there are much higher risk people physically going in. Also because I’m early career I feel like I can’t ask for these things sometimes.

    1. Juneybug*

      I would be curious what the company’s leadership/HR is thinking about future WFH options. Are they for it or against it? Are there situations where it is acceptable? I would reach out to HR first to see if they have information about upcoming plans. And ask them if it’s possible to work from home. Your boss might not be passing along info that the company is allowing WFH options.
      I would also ask leadership, using a curious tone, when you see them in the elevator, break room, etc. – so what are the company’s plans about working from home?
      I would ignore your boss. He’s an idiot.
      Good luck!

  48. Disco Janet*

    I get my Covid vaccine today – woo hoo! Work related since my job as an in-person teacher is the only reason I’m allowed to get it now, haha.

    I sent this in to one of the teacher columns awhile back but haven’t heard anything, so I thought I’d toss it out here and see what people think. The end of the semester is approaching, and my students just turned in their final essay of the semester. I am getting an incredibly large amount of emails from parents requesting to know if their child turned in their essay, how it looks, when it will be graded, etc. Then they start CCing the principal if they don’t receive a response almost immediately (like e-mail me at the end of the school day and send a nasty note about not getting a response yet the next morning.) It’s completely out of hand – grading essays takes twice as long as necessary because I keep having to stop…to respond to e-mails about why essays aren’t graded yet. Ugh. The irony.

    My coworkers and I have brainstormed a couple potential solutions but are interested in hearing some non-teacher opinions and which you’d prefer as a parent.
    1. Sending a welcome e-mail at the beginning of the semester that nicely but firmly addresses this issue, letting parents know that their child can show them whether or not they turned in their essay (they can still view it even once it’s turned in), and asking them to please wait a week past the due date to send any grading questions so that we have time to focus on grading and giving their children feedback as quickly as possible.

    2. Sending an e-mail letting parents know that an essay is due a couple days before the due date, and then giving them the above reminder about please holding off on grading questions, and asking their child about it if they would like to see confirmation that it was submitted.

    3. Not doing any of the above, but just having a copy and paste type generic message to send to the parents who send these e-mails. That way we’re not sending the message to anyone who doesn’t need to hear it, but I suspect some parents will find this off-putting and want a more personalized response.

    Open to other suggestions as well! We all agree it’s gotten out of hand, but are struggling to find a solution that works. Sending individual responses to all of these parents is just taking up way too much time. For context, the parents are used to having access to their student’s Google Classroom and being able to see everything they’re doing at all times, but beginning in 10th grade (which I teach), we begin to transition away from that to try to build more student independence.

    1. Weekend Please*

      I think a combination of 1 and 3 is best. I like the welcome e-mail and setting expectations on when they will receive the grades. You could also include instructions one how they can check if it was turned in themselves. Then have a copy paste message ready that reiterates those points if they start pestering you. Depending on the students ages, you could also say that you will reach out to parents if the student does not turn in their essay on time but I would only do that if the students are at an age where they can’t be expected to manage deadlines on their own.

      1. Disco Janet*

        They’re 15/16, so at the age where we want them to be learning to manage deadlines on their own. Thanks for the suggestion! A combination will likely be necessary if we go with #1.

        1. Observer*

          Do NOT send reminder emails to parents. That’s encouraging the exact behavior you want to STOP.

    2. NJBi*

      Oh my goodness, those parents!! I’m in higher ed in a student-facing role (think TA, but not prof), so most of the way to a non-teacher opinion…

      I really like the first option, laying all that info on the table at once. Perhaps you could also make a one-page flyer with instructions for how to see the work that students have turned in and, in big type, “DO NOT ASK ME ABOUT GRADES FOR AT LEAST A WEEK.” (The fact that this needs to be said at all…!) If you get enough of these emails to where it’s most of what you receive in the 48-72 hours before a big due date, you might even think about putting an automatic reply on your email account that says, “Hi, due to high grading load at this point in the semester, it might take me up to two business days to reply to your email. The rubric for this assignment is available here. If you are a parent writing to me about grading, please see this reference sheet for information about how to see your student’s assignments. I am not able to respond to inquiries from parents about student assignments for at least one week while I grade the assignments.” Then you can drop in the new rubric for each major assignment, and turn the auto-reply on and off as needed.

      That buys you some time until you can sit down and bang out replies to 15 parents at once. It’s totally absurd for parents to expect quick responses from you about grading stuff while you’re supposed to be grading. I definitely think a form email that you can lightly customize is sufficient here if the auto-reply is a no-go. If the kid needs more info, the kid can reach out–these are 10th graders!!

      1. Disco Janet*

        I really like some of your wording here! Thank you so much – saving it in a document for when we create our generic automatic reply type message. (Well, I can’t actually set it to automatic reply as I get too many e-mails from my boss for that. But it would be a good copy/paste type thing.)

        1. Bobina*

          Depending on your mail client and how happy you are using rules, a quick google showed that its possible to have automatic replies that only go to certain people (eg people outside your organisation). So if you really want – you could definitely have automatic messages that are only sent around grading period to annoying parents!

          1. another_scientist*

            yes, most email clients should let you prepare a ‘canned message’. In Gmail, it’s called templates. When you get a pesky parent message, you can respond with a few clicks: hit reply, go to templates, pick a template, hit send.

    3. em*

      1 and 3. Having something on your syllabus/welcome letter along the lines of “Grades are usually posted within a week of the due date” to set the expectation, and then a form follow-up reinforcing it if people ask. It sounds like they already have access to see if things have been graded/turned in so it’s obnoxious that they’re even asking, but the follow-up could also direct them to your website/gradebook as if oh, of course they would’ve checked there if they’d known!

      Don’t send out reminders because high schoolers should be expected to keep track of their own deadlines even if it’s … challenging to make that happen lol

      1. em*

        Also, unless there’s an expectation that you answer parent emails within a very short time period, could you just log out/mute notifications while you’re grading? Set aside 10 minutes a day to send out the “stop bugging me” responses and don’t even read them while you’re focused on other work.

    4. Observer*

      I would do #1, an auto-responder to messages about assignments saying something like “I will respond to your email within the next day” or whatever is reasonable, and then blocking our a specific amount of time to answer emails from parents. For parents who are asking things that were answered in your opening email, I would have a canned cheerful “Oh, that was covered in the welcome email. Here is it with the instructions” and attach that email. And, unless your school has a policy otherwise, do not get into actual discussions of the kids’ work. The only kind of question you should be answering are things like “Johnny handed in his paper last week. When should he expect to see his grade?” and the answer should look like “By the end of the week” or whatever the time frame is.

    5. This Old House*

      As a parent (although of younger kids), I’d prefer a combination of 1 and 3. 2 gives up too much ground if the goal is to get the kids to manage their own deadlines, not the parents. I think 1 alone would be ignored by the parents who need it most, but might get a few people off your back, and 3 would be a necessary reminder to the ones who ignore 1.

    6. Veronica*

      What does the principal do when she gets these emails? If she thinks your fine, you don’t need to jump every time a parent complains.
      Or maybe an auto reply “grading periods are very busy and I may not be able to reply to your email with the normal 48 hours. Then instructions on how to ask their kids….

    7. Girasol*

      Considering that AAM often addresses embarrassing job interview issues where Dad arranged an interview and ordered his offspring to go, and Mom called afterward to bawl out the interviewer when son or daughter wasn’t hired, I wonder if (1) isn’t the ideal solution. At that age they’re right on the eve of taking on that level of responsibility. You could help both the parents and the kids learn where to set boundaries. If the price of a stern lesson on actions and consequences turns out to be a low grade, that’s not so awful, is it?

    8. Black Horse*

      What the… 10th grade? I was expecting you to say you were teaching kids in their first year of middle school.

      I’m answering 100% from a parent perspective (6th, 9th and 12th grades). The 15/16 age range isn’t known for communicating well with parents, so I do understand the parents’ frustration. But unless there are known problems (the child is close to failing, or clearly falling behind on their work, in which case I’m assuming you already have a conversation going with the parents), that’s a communication issue between parent and child, not between parent and teacher. I think the combo of #1 and #3 is a great way to go, with your #3 template cheerfully repeating the “your kid can show you what they’ve done, it’ll take a week before we have everything graded, thanks for your understanding!”. And I would definitely play up the “we’re teaching your child to be independent scholars!” since that is a significant part of why you are doing things the way you’re doing them. I am curious if this is an issue new this year (when everyone is so stressed and, at least in our house, on top of each other more than normal), or if you have this problem every year; not sure that will change your response, but it may be worth thinking about.
      And as an aside, thanks so much for what you are doing!

    9. Anonymous for now*

      Hi Disco Janet,
      If you’re stil checking this thread, can you tell me the teacher boards you read? Thank you!

  49. Tax resources for freelancers*

    I’m starting to branch out into a new but somewhat related industry on a freelance basis, and I’m trying to read up on all the tax procedures, but I don’t have an accountant’s brain, so the legalese on the IRS website isn’t as clear to me as I’d like. Are there any freelancers here with some good resources to recommend? How does the quarterly estimate thing work? What else do I absolutely, definitely need to know?

    1. Lifelong student*

      CPA here- rule of thumb- assume that somewhere between 25-30% of what your net take in will go to taxes and keep it in a separate account. Basic taxes- social security and medicare- 15.3%- due with your federal income tax when you file it at the end of the year. Federal income tax at your marginal rate. State and local income tax. Those are mostly often due as quarterly payments- You can find the forms online by taxing agency. Quarterly payments are due in April, June, Oct., and Jan of following year.

      There are sometimes other local business taxes.

      A lot is dependent on your locale.

      Read up on business deductions- track and document things which may be deductible to arrive at the net take in.
      Plan on having a tax professional do your return at least the first time- and on an ongoing basis if this becomes a larger enterprise.

      1. Lifelong student*

        Oh- and keep all this in mind when you set your fees! These are costs of doing business as a freelancer!

    2. LuckySophia*

      You likely need a separate tax ID number for your freelance business, check with an accountant or lawyer. Set up a separate business checking account for your freelance work, and absolutely do not run any of your personal expenses through that account…use it for business expenses only. Don’t forget about acquiring State and City or County Business Licenses if they’re required in your area (I think they are required in most areas.) When I started out as a “Sole Proprietor”, I had my accountant help me set up simple systems for tracking income & expenses and tabulating the totals monthly, so I always had a picture of where things stood. Make sure you clarify with your clients the exact procedures they have for project management: Do you have to get registered in their system as a vendor? Do you have to sign a confidentiality agreement? Do you have to submit a formal written estimate or bid, and then wait to receive their purchase order, before starting any work on a project? Make sure there is clarity about your invoice terms. My company’s terms were “Net 30 days”….but a large client had a rule that they would only pay “Net 60 days”. So that had to be negotiated! (For whatever it’s worth….I had zero “accounting” brain cells when I started my business, but all this stuff can be learned. When you talk to your accountant or lawyer, take good notes, refer to them often, mark you calendar with tax-filing dates. Keep organized and all the stuff that is “new” will soon become second nature! )

      1. Lifelong student*

        You won’t need a separate tax ID number if you are a sole proprietor without employees. Maybe if you are doing business under a separate name.

  50. Laney Boggs*

    I’m a not-so recent college grad (2017) that’s had trouble breaking into my field. I’ve been working restaurant and customer service jobs over the last nearly four years.

    My resume currently has my college degree, college work experience doing writing/editing, and then my most recent CS work, with about a 18month gap between graduating &My current company.

    Is this OK? I know Allison generally advocates for just using relevant experience, and I’ve generally assumed everyone can guess what I was doing for those 18 months. But also, I’m desperate to get out of this job & dont want to hurt any chances

    1. CatCat*

      I’m not sure I understand the gap. Are you leaving off work during that period because you don’t think the work is relevant? Or you were not working at all during those 18 months?

    2. Observer*

      I think you are misunderstanding the advice. Don’t leave significant jobs or expect people to “guess what you have been doing”. They might guess correctly or they might not.

      Better show that you were working than not. Put the jobs in.

    3. Retired worker bee*

      I wouldn’t dare leave an 18 month gap on my resume, especially if I had been working during those 18 months. I would be too afraid that companies might think that I spent those 18 months in jail.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That … is not usually the first assumption. Employers will just ask what you were doing during that time. No one is assuming you were imprisoned (!).

        (That said, I agree with others that the work should go on there. But it’s not because it raises the specter of prison otherwise.)

      2. PT*

        It doesn’t raise the specter of prison, but I used to work at an organization that ran child programming, and odd resume gaps were considered a “red flag” for someone leaving a job off a resume because they’d been asked to leave for inappropriate behavior towards a child (the sort of behavior where the reference, if checked, would say, “I really can’t recommend Fergus for this position, he shouldn’t be around children, he has a terrible temper/is creepy/had the preschool group watch uncensored South Park episodes all day every day.”)

        That does not mean someone with a resume gap would be automatically assumed to be a hazard! Plenty of people with resume gaps can and did get jobs with us! It would just mean if you saw something else in the resume or interview process that made you question whether Fergus would be a good fit for being in charge of a group of children, you should err on the side of caution and connect those two dots.

  51. em*

    I know you don’t have to include every job on a resume, but do you have to list them all on an application or elsewhere?

    I once left a job without notice after about two months, which I can kind of explain away with a physical health issue I had at the time but still cringe about. I assume it would show up on a background check, but would an employer see that it was in the background check but not my work history? Is it better to list it even though it makes me look terrible?

    If it matters, I work in K-12 education in the US.

    1. Paris Geller*

      In my experience it depends on the application. Some applications ask for all jobs you’ve had in the last ten years. Some for all relevant work experience. Some ask for every job you’ve ever had, which I personally find ridiculous but there it is. I think if an application ask for all work experience, it’s better to list just in case. Honestly, though, if you left one job after two months and then had steady, long-term work after that, I wouldn’t be too worried.

      1. em*

        Unfortunately I don’t have a great-looking work history overall (trailing spouse then SAHM). So it’s like 4 years of working in state A, 1 year gap in state B (+ghosted job), 1 year working in state C, 5 years SAHM in states C and D. I can and have addressed the appearance of job-hopping in cover letters and interviews but this one job makes me look less like a professional who had to move a few times and more like a flake, despite having good references and a solid reason for leaving the earlier job.

    2. Kiwiii*

      I’m not familiar with how they do look backs in K-12, but I can’t imagine anyone seeing a 2 month job left off and having that be a flag — imo, it would say more about their expectations than yours, if they had an issue with it.

    3. pretzelgirl*

      I have left jobs off resumes and included them on applications. I had a job right after college that was a literal nightmare. I lasted about a week and do not include it on any of my resumes. I also did a temp job for about a month, I don’t include either. But since applications are more official and can be used for background checks I include. I have found that most hiring managers don’t really use the application anyway. They used my resume, to go over my past accomplishments, etc.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Not for work (yes, you need to list everything for a security clearance) but in the case of a background check I needed for volunteer work with kids I was asked for everything for I think the last 10 years. I wouldn’t put it on my resume, but if they have some kind of form for the background check yes, list you need to list it there. Don’t wait for it to show up on the check.

  52. Furloughed in Texas*

    I am being furloughed starting Monday.

    I met with HR, they are continuing my heath care (plus paying my portion) for the duration, I won’t have email or network access, but can use my computer for personal use, I asked about my health savings account, how much notice they would give when/if I’m called back,

    What am I missing? Any other good questions to ask or info to have?
    I’ve never been furloughed before, I am eligible and will file for unemployment, do I look for other jobs? Right away? After a few weeks?

    I’m fortunate that I have savings, a spouse with a job, and some safety net, so I will get through this. I’m planning to take a week or so to relax, then volunteering; industry required continuing education webinars, and maybe study for some professional certifications.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Ask about any accrued paid time off and if they will cash it out now or carry it over. In some states you have to pay it out when someone is furloughed (California).

      You should start looking for a new job. Obviously the company hopes that they will be able to have you return, but I think I read something recently that said about half of furloughed workers end up being laid off. I’m not sure about that number though. Good luck!

  53. SBM*

    *sigh* if I haven’t heard back after an interview after I’ve already followed up once I should leave it right? Like a second follow up after one non-response is a no-go?

      1. SBM*

        About a month, they gave me a timeline of about 2-3 weeks. It’s a government job so I gave them a bit more time because of *gestures at everything* (also because I know goverment hiring is slow even in more standard circumstances). I guess I can properly wallow and move on now though, haha

        1. Kiwiii*

          Oh, yeah, my previous job was in state government — there’s really no timeline they stick to and they only close the loop about half the time. I’d try not to think about it and be pleasantly surprised if they do follow up.

  54. Kiwiii*

    A little good news — I’ve been here before when I moved to my first professional full time job in Nov 2018 at about $16/hr, and then when I moved to my current job in Aug 2019, where I asked for a little more money at offer and they went from $41.5k to $42.5k. After a 6 month delay due to covid, I just got a yearly raise + a promotion and raise (from I to II with the same general title), and am up to $47k (which — around 10%)!

    Hoping to stay put for at least another year or two — before this I did a lot of job hopping, but besides a week where some stuff got fumbled in November, I haven’t been antsy to leave at all.

  55. Llama Wrangler*

    I have an college intern starting next month and would love people’s tips for supporting interns remotely. We are a small department, and don’t have interns regularly, so there’s not an established structure to plug them into. This is through an outside partnership, so I don’t yet have a strong sense of their skillset and ability to work independently (with support) – our previous interns were pre-pandemic, and one of them was able to work very independently once she was set up on a task, while the other one really struggled and needed a much more hands-on approach.

    I’m curious how other people have approached developing, supporting, observing, etc for interns in fully-remote contexts. (This person will be doing about 8-10 hours a week of work.)

    1. Caterpie*

      I did a fully remote internship this summer, so I hope its ok to give my opinion here! My internship was full time, so I’m sure there will be differences between that and an 8-10 hour/week position.

      Two things that helped me feel more integrated into the team were (1) a virtual ‘happy hour’ in which I got to put names to faces and introduce myself, and (2) my internship supervisor had me do an informational interview (Zoom-based) with a C-suite person at the company so I could learn more about their mission and how it ran from the top level. C-suite person later pulled me in to work on their own projects, so that was a valuable experience.

      Does your workplace have document sharing software available? Me working on a document while my internship supervisor could look at the document live and give suggestions over the phone seemed to work well for us. As I got more experience, I could write the documents independently and coordinate edits over email.

      1. Hi there*

        My office had 25 remote interns at different nonprofits over the summer, and those activities went well. Besides the informational interview we also asked them to do a professional development activity of their choice (we gave them a menu, the most popular was a linked in learning, especially excel). We also tried to have a mix of little projects and a big one that we built up towards over the summer.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          I like the idea of a variety of small projects and building up to a big project over time.

  56. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How do you evaluate a new internal job? My boss said Company is doing New Thing. It reminds me of you and I was like Oh I used to do Thing a while back. It might be easier to get my license doing New Thing but with the lack of training at my company I’m not sure I’ll be able to become good at Thing. I was OK at Thing before but only did it for a short time.

    About last weeks question I answered by saying I was watching a new series and then we talked about TV.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Sorry, I’m not really able to parse what you’re trying to ask; the context you provided after your initial question is confusing me.

      On your first question: I think I would evaluate an internal position pretty similarly to any other position, but with the benefit of being able to talk with the hiring team.

  57. Beezus*

    This is a super random question, but does anyone know of a decent overview of basic HR practices for Canada?

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      SHRM has an article that outlines the differences in HR between the US and Canada. It is named “5 Ways HR in Canada is Different”. It is a little dated (May of 2018) but covers:
      – Termination of employment
      – Parental benefits
      – Marijuana
      – Sexual harassment
      – Minimum wage

  58. Kat*

    I hope this is an appropriate place for this question, but I am looking for recommendations on really comfortable shoes for work in a business-casual (but more on the casual side) office. Working at home has got me really hating putting on anything other than my fuzzy slippers to go into the office! What work shoes have you found that feel good? I have very flat feet with narrow heels so I tend to gravitate towards boots or mary jane style flats or low heels since anything that isn’t well secured to my feet tend to fall off when I’m walking!

    1. Cat Tree*

      I wear flat boots from Aerosoles with custom orthotics from my podiatrist. They come in wide widths, aren’t super expensive, and hold up pretty well.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      They’re a little spendy, but my go-to for nicer shoes is Rothys round-toe flats – I have flattish feet with wide toes and narrow heels, so I feel you on the fallings-off, but the Rothys have been great. In terms of comfort, I have literally taken a pair brand new out of the box, put them on my feet and gone for a three mile walk around my neighborhood without any issues, and in years past, I’ve worn them for full 10-12 mile days at Disneyworld. They come in a frazillion color options, the insoles are removable so if you want to put nicer ones in you can, and they’re machine washable. They do NOT have any stretch at all, if that’s a concern, and some folks find they get stinky, but I personally have not found that to be the case.

      I’m not familiar with their other styles, though I was getting ready to try a pair of their Chelsea boots pre-lockdown, but opted to wait since I’ve left my house like three times in any given two-month period for the last almost-year.

    3. Comfortable flats*

      Try Hotter shoes. They’re pricey from the UK and you have to look through a lot of grandma shoes. But they have some really cute and nice flats that are great for working & walking.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I have the same problem with shoes not staying on my feet. I have good luck with Bob’s by Skechers – they have tons of cute flats, some have extra padding, and they stay on my feet!

    5. Lyudie*

      I like Clarks a lot. They run a little wide for me (my feet are a bit narrow) but styles like boots or loafers that I wear with socks are fine. I have spent most of a day walking in the city with them and they were great.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I love San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS) for work. My daughter who is on her feet all day loves NurseMates.

    7. Working mom*

      Tieks are my favorite! Lots of colors and super comfortable. Definitely an investment but once I started wearing them I haven’t worn anything else.

    8. It happens*

      Ah, fellow flat-footer here. I see people have recommended Rothy’s, they are not good for us. Though I have four pairs to tell you I’ve tried. They are so cute. And comfy. But flat as a pancake with no sole to speak of. If you like the idea of them, I found a $30 knock off at Macy’s from Alfani. Seemingly the same, but better, Allbirds flats. They have more of an insole and sole, and are also washable. My seven months a year solution now. Many colors.

      Generally, flat feet need a little elevation, so I’m in boots once it’s boot weather. With tights when I’m wearing skirts (what are those anymore;) After a few calf injuries that turned into plantar fasciitis my doc told me I had to wear something on my feet at all times. So I got the ugliest pair of on-sale Merrell clogs I could find and now I stomp around my house all the time.

      1. S.*

        I have elastic shoe straps, in clear, that make me feel more secure and prevent that ugly flapping sound.

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

      Skechers – I am on my 3rd pair (because I like them, not because they haven’t lasted, haha!)

  59. Cat Tree*

    I feel overwhelmed. I have a project that I just don’t know how to do. I keep getting asked for updates because it’s high profile. In December I asked my boss to find a mentor from another department that has done this kind of thing. I don’t want to just ask someone informally for help because it will be a big time commitment. My boss did reach out to that group’s boss but nothing can of it because December is a busy month.

    Now my grandboss has scheduled a check-in meeting because he’s frustrated with the lack of progress. My boss offered to help by giving me input on my presentation but I want more than that. To make it more frustrating, I could have at least made some progress in December, however inefficient, if I had time to work on it. But two important, urgent things came up in December that my boss wanted me to help with. Both times he went to the trouble of asking if I had the capacity to help, I said no, and he said to do it anyway because those things were a higher priority and other stuff could wait. Well, this project waited and now I’m behind.

    I will ask for a project mentor again at my next 1:1, but even if that pans out it won’t be soon enough for me to accomplish something impressive by the check-in meeting. I know it won’t be *bad* but I’m embarrassed to present something mediocre. This weird form of perfectionism where I’m more worried about being mediocre than actually failing is something I have been working on.

    1. small & unsure*

      It sounds like you have been doing your best but need more support and time to work on this project. Do you think your grandboss would be open to you asking for those things in your meeting?

    2. BRR*

      Your boss needs to explain to your grandboss that he assigned you two things that held up progress on the high profile project. If your boss won’t do that, I’d figure out a way to somehow mention the other tasks to your grandboss.

      I think you need to ask for what resources you need to get this done. Training? Move some tasks to other people? Get someone to devout some time to this? It sounds like you need something other than a project mentor.

    3. Gumby*

      Can you reframe it in your mind so that for this meeting being good at your job means presenting an accurate picture of progress, next steps, timeline, etc.?

      Being “good” does not mean pretending you are on schedule or have accomplished more than you have – that would be being **horrible** at running the project! You could also change the way you think of other things: higher priority projects are not excuses – they are business realities. Not having time to work on this because you had to do that and the other thing is not a personal failing. It’s just reality. Ditto not having the expertise that is needed. The only failing would have been had you not said something and tried to fake your way through – but you didn’t! You did the right thing and tried to get access to the needed expertise! This meeting with the grand boss could actually be a great opportunity where you could really get some traction on getting the help and time you need.

      In this situation, absolute transparency is probably your friend. Hiding the problems just makes the project sponsor think things are fine and then when/if larger problems or delays arise later it’ll be all “but you said things were fine!”

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

      This is an interesting one that I can somewhat relate to.
      Will your immediate boss be in the check-in meeting with the grandboss?
      Do you have a sense of whether or how much visibility the grandboss has about this project? — it’s high profile, but grandboss either knows it isn’t making much progress (but presumably doesn’t know why) and is frustrated by that, or is frustrated with a lack of “updates” on progress. Which is it in fact – has your boss been communicating with grandboss about the status of this project? (if not then why).

      Then your immediate boss potentially undermined the company’s priorities by redirecting you on to those other projects. Were they really more urgent? I appreciate that “urgent” and “high profile” are not always the same and often at odds with each other!

      What should have happened in most companies is your boss should have been communicating to grandboss that “Cat Tree has had to be redirected to work on the XYZ deliverable, so her progress on Project P will be delayed accordingly” and then boss and grandboss work out the priorities between them. And in most places grandboss would be checking in with your boss, rather than with you directly, about the status of Project P.

      Also important: do you think that you “should” know how to do this project, as part of your role and expected competencies but you don’t? Or is it that the project is outside of your usual area of expertise, or similar, so you just don’t know how to do it because it isn’t something you have any experience with?

      [Frame challenge that you didn’t ask for:] I’m not so sure that being “more worried about being mediocre than actually failing” is a flaw to work on, as such. Do you mean something like being afraid to accept something “ok” when circumstances demand it when you know it could be better (perfection being the enemy of just getting it done)? It all depends on the reasons for failing and the impact of a mediocre (rather than good or great) delivery :)

  60. Scared and Broke*

    I’m really struggling at work and I’m wondering when it becomes appropriate to take long term mental health leave.

    My current position is an hourly contract position where I don’t have paid leave or benefits, and the firm’s “hit by a bus” plan basically says that if I’m not comatose, I need to actively track deadlines on all my cases and contact my coworkers to ask them to do each individual task so that nothing gets missed. There are legal consequences to missing some of these deadlines. That level of involvement is not something I could do while taking MH leave— it’s stressful to the point that the leave wouldn’t work.

    But my health is doing incredibly poorly working this job. I’m crying multiple times per day, too nauseous to eat, staying up all night worrying. I’ve had to call multiple crisis hotlines to calm myself down enough to not quit on the spot or leave a sobbing voicemail for my boss. The work is inherently stressful, I’m not particularly good at it, and the intermittent pay (I’m only paid if there’s work for me to do, and there isn’t always) has so far not been enough to cover my rent. I’m looking for new work, but if I drop this job before finding something else I’ll be in more debt than I am already and the job market is bad enough it took me 5 months to even get this job.

    I’m so scared that I can’t take this leave without being fired, so I don’t want to take leave if it’s possible not to. At what point should I bite the bullet and just say “I am so sick I need to leave for 2 weeks and cannot be involved in monitoring my cases”? My instinct says sometime before I become suicidal, but I really don’t know what to do.

    1. SpicySpice*

      First, I’m so sorry. This sounds rough and no matter how it turns out, this internet stranger is rooting for you. Second, how’s your relationship with your boss? If you flat out told them that you are struggling badly, do you get the sense that they would be open to helping you?
      If you only get paid if there’s work, and therefore you’re not getting paid a lot, would it seriously be more cost effective to get some random job elsewhere? There’s no shame in being a Target cashier or whatever for a while to get your mind right.

      1. Scared and Broke*

        My boss definitely has an attitude of “I’m far too busy and important for your problems”, which was annoying when my problems were “he’s procrastinating on my employment contract” and not, like, serious health concerns. Another employee recently quit (because of poor treatment) and the rhetoric about how everyone else was left in the lurch has been pretty hostile. He might step up if I’m in the hospital, but if I’m not, I think there’d be a lot of contacting me when I’m out, blaming me for work not getting done, and guilt trips about taking time.

        A full-time retail job might pay more than I’m currently making– my hourly wage now is a lot higher than retail jobs, but the workload is closer to 5-10 hours a week so a full 40-hr slate at a lower wage might balance out. My primary concern taking that route would be experience in my field– there are next to no entry level jobs in my field, so any amount of relevant work is important to getting a proper job. I’m gonna have to weigh my options carefully here; work experience, pay, stability, risk of COVID– a lot of factors to be sure. I should keep that in mind, though.

        1. Janne*

          Your mental health is much, much, much more important than experience in your field. It has been said already, but I just wanted to repeat it. Crying every day, multiple times a day, not being able to eat normally, not being able to sleep normally, having to call crisis hotlines: this is not just a bit of a stressful job, this is hurting you badly.

    2. Witch*

      Take the mental health leave now. I’m in the same boat, where I’m always under pressure and struggling mentally. You need to divorce the amount of care you have about your work. If you’re fired (especially for taking mental health leave), you can likely apply for unemployment.

      Don’t quit, exactly, but realize your main priority now needs to be you. Then finding a new job. Then doing the bare minimum for this one. Get selfish, almost.

      1. Scared and Broke*

        Unfortunately, I haven’t worked enough W-9 hours in my state to qualify for normal unemployment, and the COVID-19 provisions for independent contractors only apply to people losing work because of COVID (vs people losing work for other reasons that would normally qualify). I’d go from making some money to making none if I lose this job. I wish the unemployment system worked differently than it does.

        1. Observer*

          If you are worried about becoming suicidal, not having a job is less of a risk. So, you don’t really have much of a choice. Take the leave.

    3. Weekend Please*

      I am so sorry! From what you have written here, it sounds like the time to take that mental health leave is now. It is probably time to leave this job altogether, so having them fire you for taking leave because of your mental health may make you eligible for unemployment. But this job is causing you to have a mental health crisis AND doesn’t pay you enough to live on. It sounds like right now you are sinking further and further into debt while working a job that is making you actually think you could become suicidal. Find a job in retain, fast food, instacart, door dash, uber basically absolutely anywhere other than where you are right now. Then once you are able to recover your mental health you can start looking for a job in your field.

    4. Observer*

      It doesn’t matter what their “plan” is. If you are taking leave (and therefore not being paid) then you CANNOT be expected to track this stuff.

      Get a note from your doctor – it’s generally not legally binding but if your company is even HALFWAY decent, it helps. Basically have you doctor note that you need a leave of absence and that means NOT BEING IN CONTACT WITH WORK. The thing you can do, since it sounds like you can still manage a LITTLE bit, is to schedule your leave.

      So, say you take a 3 week leave. Schedule it for a week from tomorrow and all of this week send out the task assignments. When you do this, be explicit about the legal ramifications AND about the fact that you will not be available to track, remind or assist in any way shape or form on any of these tasks.

      When you on leave, turn on an autoresponder. And DO NOT take any calls or emails from work.

      1. Scared and Broke*

        Thank you for the advice! It makes sense to get a doctor’s note. I have an appoint with a new doctor on Feb 1, so I may be able to take a week working to create my “here’s what y’all need to do b/c I can’t” list and then get the doctor’s note for official illness leave. I think I can make it through that with my health not getting significantly worse.

        (This is a complaint unrelated to work but man do I wish it was easier to schedule MH appointments in a quick way. This one’s been on the books since December and February was the earliest they could do then. Gotta love being in a pandemic in a state with a dearth of qualified therapists)

  61. Junior Dev*

    Can someone help me find an article/open thread on this site about how to look older (for women in particular)? I remember seeing something about this from a woman who kept getting mistaken for a teenager but I can’t find it.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Oh gosh, I think there have been about a million, haha! There is a search bar towards the top; if you type in something like “how to look older” (with the quotation marks – otherwise you’ll get a bunch of loosely but not really related stuff), you might be able to find it. I just did that and a couple older ask the reader questions on this showed up.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      There’s a couple that might be useful. “Is my acne keeping me from getting a job” and “Will looking like a teenager harm my job search”. Links to follow.

  62. Paris Geller*

    So asking a question for my partner: he currently works as a night auditor at a upscale hotel. He’s been there since the beginning of 2017. Of course, with covid the hospitality industry isn’t doing too well, and we’re especially hurting in our area because we’re a beach town. The hotel is doing OK right now because they’re housing a traveling nurse company, so he doesn’t think the hotel is in danger of either temporarily or permanently closing, but his (and everyone’s) hours have been cut and it’s been struggle. He’s also had issues with his job for awhile, so has decided to start casually job searching, but he’s not necessarily keen on staying in the hospitality industry. Any idea of what kind of roles he could look for? This is his relevant background:

    -BA in hospitality management
    -lots of customer service experience: car sales (hated it), mattress sales (liked it), multiple hotels ranging from mid-range to high end
    -some phone operator experience

    He doesn’t necessarily want to go back to sales or public-facing roles, however. He’s not opposed to work that’s more physical, but he does have some moderate medical issues that would prevent super physical jobs. For example, something like standing all shift or having to bend down/lift a lot is fine, but something like janitorial work or construction where there’s constant moving/climbing, etc. is out.

    1. Fluffernutter*

      I have a friend who was also in hospitality management in the hotel industry. She was furloughed and is now applying to jobs that are event coordinator types at companies. It’s probably a step down for her since a lot of the listings require corporate event planning experience instead of hotels but she is fine with getting a foot in the door to move out of the hotel industry.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      Random, but what about something customer-facing in healthcare? Different organizations call them different things: receptionists, registrars (at hospitals), registration staff, front-desk staff, medical system call center… but he has a lot of transferrable skills and it should be a steady job and a place to start in an industry that’s not as decimated as hospitality.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Leveraging his experience, he should take a look at whether there are jobs available in applicable industry associations, or perhaps in one of the government agencies that oversee the industry.

  63. small & unsure*

    I’m the team lead on a project to set up a new committee at work and I’m struggling to take the final steps because I think some of management won’t agree with my decisions (and I’m also doubting myself!)

    Here’s the situation: I worked with a team to set up this committee, including a high level manager (Carol), but their role was to “champion” the project and I was officially the project lead. (This is a special project that exists kind of outside of our standard team structures). The team has been involved throughout the process and I am at the stage of selecting the committee members from applications I have received (I asked Carol if she also wanted to be involved in the selection and she said there was no need).

    I spoke recently with our HR manager who has previously set up a number of committees to ask for her perspective on any resources that might be useful for the committee to have and we chatted about the selection process as well. She clearly disagreed with some of my decisions, saying she didn’t think some of the committee members would be “capable” of taking the role of committee chair if needed, and seemed to think I should select more members in management positions (for context there will be an assistant manager on the committee).

    I’m torn because I think this is mostly just that she is more concerned with hierarchy and power structure whereas I think staff are capable and will continue value to this committee despite not being management – but I also don’t want to the put the committee members in a situation where they are not being taken seriously by management because there is only one manager on the committee, if that makes sense? The context is that the organisation I work for can be quite bureaucratic – to the point where it impacts on the ability of staff to do their jobs.

    I thought about asking Carol for her input, but from previous experience I think she may just agree with the HR manager and ask me to change it, or nitpick something else that I don’t really feel matters. I don’t want to be forced to change my decision when technically I am the project team lead, even though Carol is senior to me.

    I’m unsure how much of this is just my anxiety (this is often an issue for me) and how much is me trying to be careful in a work environment that can be bureaucratic and sometimes punitive. Hoping this all makes sense. Thoughts?

    1. Annabeth Nass*

      I think the answer depends on the purpose of the committee. If you already have applications, what was sent out to generate the applications?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can you choose a couple of people as liaisons between the committee and management. I mean at some point you will need everyone’s buy-in including management. These liaison type people should be interested in seeing the project succeed, this means no Eeyores.
      Additionally, these folks might be able to help you craft a project that management will accept at the end. They are going to know how others at their level tend to think and view things. You could tailor your project accordingly.

  64. HappyFeet*

    My coworker, Betty, seems to misunderstand and ignore things I say when we chat.

    As some examples:
    -She tries to convince me to drink the office coffee while acknowledging that I always tell her I don’t drink coffee.
    -If someone in the office brings in food to share, or if she finds a new food she likes while shopping, she nags me to go try it/buy it even if I say I’m not interested.
    -When I tell her I don’t have time to talk right now because I’m busy with work, she keeps talking, and then acknowledges that I told her I’m busy when I repeat myself.
    -She wanted me to watch a specific TV drama series, but I told her I’d rather stick with the comedy series I’m currently watching. The next day she told me I said I couldn’t handle the violence in the show, but she said the show needs the violence, I can just fast forward through the violent parts, it’s worth watching despite the violence, and we have to get together one weekend to binge watch it.
    -I got a heavyweight cardigan to wear in the office in the winter, and might get a lighter one for the summer, but told her I don’t want to buy more than that for various reasons. She later told me I said I want cardigans in many different colors and she wants me to go shopping with her to get a big collection of them.

    It’s becoming increasingly confusing and annoying, and I feel guarded when I talk to her. Has anyone encountered a person like this before? How did you deal with them?

    1. irene adler*

      Information diet. For all topics. The more you tell her about your likes, and off- work doings, the more she’s going to reciprocate or comment upon. And misconstrue. So keep things limited to topics you do want to talk to her about. Work maybe?

      You won’t be much fun to talk to if you aren’t there/available to listen. When you indicate that you don’t have time to talk, do you couple this with an action? Talking about such things as, walking away, turning to your computer or desk (with your back to her), or initiating a conversation with someone else (ideally a work-related conversation).

    2. Web Crawler*

      I strongly dislike people like that. I’ve encountered many of them. Depending on the specific person, my strategies were*:

      1. Give her the same answer over and over. “No thanks, I don’t drink coffee” “why not?” “Because it’s coffee” “but you should drink this coffee” “I don’t drink coffee”. End the conversation when you can

      2. Change the subject. “Have you seen comedy show?” “Have you been shopping recently?” I find these people usually love talking about themselves

      3. Become equally frustrating by responding with nonsense. This is a terrible strategy for work, but I find it fun. Stuff like “no thanks, it’s coffee-flavored”, “I don’t shop”, “what’s a ?”

      * I say “were” because since I look like an adult man instead of a young woman, my “no thanks” is taken seriously

    3. Observer*

      Stop talking to her so much. You don’t have to explain yourself, you don’t have to answer every question she asks or statement she makes, and you don’t have to wait for her permission to turn away from a conversation.

      She wants you to try a new food / show / Clothing item? “thanks for mentioning it”. But… “Like I said thanks for mentioning it, but I have other plans” turn back to your work. Repeat no matter what argument she makes.

      She keeps talking to yo when you tell her you are busy? Turn back to your work, pic up the phone and / or walk away.

    4. RagingADHD*

      She’s not misunderstanding, she’s pushy and bored. Cultivate a tone that is very polite, but use extremely literal and direct words.

      “No thanks, I don’t want any coffee, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Excuse me, I have work to do.”

      “Betty, I don’t have time to talk, I have work to do. Please stop interrupting me.”

      “No, I don’t want to go shopping. We are not going shopping. Please stop interrupting me.”

      The key is to be very neutral and not angry. She won’t like it and will probably pout, but there’s really nothing else to do.

    5. Totally Minnie*

      It feels less like she’s misunderstanding what you say and more like it doesn’t really matter to her what you say. Looking at it through that lens might make it easier for you to formulate your responses to her. She doesn’t care why you don’t want to watch her show, she just wants you to watch her show. So since your reasons don’t matter to her, stop trying to give her better ones. Reasons are for reasonable people, and Betty’s not being reasonable. So stop trying to explain why you don’t want to do what you want. The next time it happens, just say you’re not interested and change the subject. “I’m not interested in that show. Hey, did you see the picture of Jane’s new kitten?” Or “I’m not interested in shopping for more cardigans. Do you have the data for that report?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d add it might be time to consider saying things such as, “Betty we already talked about that. ” OR “Betty you asked me that yesterday and I answered you.” OR, “Betty, please don’t put words in my mouth. I did not say that.”

    6. allathian*

      At a former job, my Betty had been annoying me for months. I don’t know why, but she latched on to me like I she thought I was a friend. Everything you said sounded oddly familiar.

      In the end, what stopped it was that I and another coworker, Jane, were talking about the annoying habits other people have at work. I didn’t name any names, but I mentioned some of the annoying things Betty had done recently. Jane said something like “Oh, that sounds like Betty, was it?” I just nodded and then I heard a sob from behind me. It was our Betty who had overheard us. I felt awful, because Jane had set a trap for Betty by starting that convo about annoying work habits. I had my back to our coffee machine, so I didn’t see Betty come and get her coffee. She left with it and went back to her desk. I also got up and said something like “Was that really necessary?” to Jane, who just shrugged in reply. I couldn’t really focus, and before I left for the day, I went to Betty’s desk and asked if I could have a word. Then I apologized for my part in the whole thing. She also apologized and said that she was trying to learn to read people’s reactions better, because she truly didn’t realize when she annoyed people but that she wasn’t doing it on purpose. Then we agreed that I should be even clearer when I really didn’t want to or have the time to talk to her, and that interrupting her was fine. I also told her that recommending a TV show you like is fine, but if someone says they’re not interested in that show, trying to persuade them to watch it is unlikely to change their mind.

      For as long as both of us stayed at that job, while she still occasionally annoyed me, she was at least willing to learn. Luckily things got better, but I admit that I was a bit annoyed with Jane for a while. After that incident, I had coffee with Betty more often than with Jane…

  65. UKbased*


    Can anyone recommend a CV support service in the UK, one they trust? I have a lot of disparate experience (and a lot of transferable skills) but I need help transforming my CV from blah to something that helps me sound competitve. I’m not looking for someone to just crank out a CV for me but someone who would work with me to help me write a great CV. Google has thrown up a lot of (slightly dodgy looking) options but I would really prefer a recommendation. No one I know personally has anyone they would recommend. I’d be greatful for any advice!

    1. Bobina*

      Im UK based and have used AAM advice to form the basis of my CV. But the other place I’ve recently found a good amount of advice is Reddit strangely enough. Theres a UKjobs subreddit and I’ve definitely seen people offer CV reviews there. UKcasual also started doing a monthly advice post and there are people there in recruiting who have said they are happy to look at CVs.

      The other one I’ve used as a guide even though its not my industry is the consulting subreddit. They have a wiki with a lot of tips and samples. They have people who will review your cv, but they are very. very blunt about telling you if it sucks (which they often do). What I did find helpful though was looking at all their critiques, and then very honestly looking at my CV with fresh eyes and using their advice to make each bullet much sharper and more focused.

  66. SpicySpice*

    Some years ago, the woman adjacent to me and up one level retired and my boss asked me if I wanted to apply for her position. After much thinking, I said no. She was putting in 12 hour days regularly and “only” 6-8 on the weekends. I value my free time. Sure enough, the woman who filled her place also puts in those kind of hours.
    Now Woman #2 is going on leave and I am covering for her. It will be 3 months. I’ve never covered for anyone like this before. Is the general expectation that I’m going to perform exactly like her while she’s out, or will I be basically doing enough to keep us afloat until she’s back? I can’t imagine doing my own job plus her entire job on top of that. I’d never sleep!

    1. Not Australian*

      You need to discuss this with your boss and get them to flag up the core components of Woman #2’s job, what is essential and what can be left until she gets back. Personally I’d go for three categories, VITAL, ROUTINE, and WOULD BE NICE … with the third category only receiving attention from you when you can really spare the time.

      1. SpicySpice*

        This is awesome advice, thank you! Luckily I have a few weeks to get organized, so I will be proactive and get on this.

    2. Annabeth Nass*

      Sounds like you need specific input from your boss. I doubt you would be expected to do the full job of someone on a higher level as well as your current job. If I were in that situation, I would ask my boss what specific duties need to be covered, and if there are any tasks that I normally do that could be transferred to someone else.

  67. johnsnowspumphandle*

    I have an employee that started in August in a database administrator/analyst job. She is struggling still, but I believe she has the skills and is lacking in confidence. I think I’ve figured out that she needs coaching to gain confidence in her interpretation of the facts and data, which is what the folks in my office are really looking for when they ask for numbers. Have you ever coached somebody this way? Or have resources that I can study to learn how to coach her?

    1. Just a PM*

      It sounds like your employee may not have much experience presenting her data or interpretation or she has been burned in the past so she second-guesses everything. 1:1’s or pairing her with a more senior colleague (kind of like a mentor-mentee dynamic) to learn on the job might be helpful.

      My boss liked to have me present my analysis to her first before I sent it out to anyone or did a briefing. She’d work through any sticky points with me, tell me what kind of questions I’d get from certain people, and help me plan an answer to address those topics. Is that something you could do for her?

  68. GoldenFrenchFry*

    Looking for those who have completed research-based graduate programs to advise on how much work towards old projects is reasonable after graduation. Or really anyone who has transitioned to a new role with unfinished projects at the old role!

    I will graduate from a STEM graduate program soon, and my PI has already asked me to keep working on publications after my official employment/studies are over. I enjoy editing and revising text, so I’d be happy to do that 1-3 hours a week (this would be unpaid), but PI was vague when I asked about the scope of the further work. History suggests that there would be quite a bit more than simple editing/revising.

    My school’s policy is that extra work is allowed, but completely voluntary and uncompensated. I would prefer to focus on my new career (and enjoy the few days’ break in between school and my new job starting), but am afraid of potential bridge-burning.

    How much work did you do towards your graduate project after graduation, if any, and how did you go about setting these boundaries with your mentor?

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I published two journal articles and wrote several conference talks based off my dissertation after I left grad school and started my career-job. It took nearly two years, all told, putting in hours after work/on weekends, between writing/iterating on the initial drafts and then managing revisions (there were months-long breaks between submission and revisions). None of it was compensated but I never had that expectation.

      My advisor was very active in supporting this work, but it was clear that I would do the bulk of the work in writing and managing the submissions. His deal with students was always that we should get credit for the work we do/did and publishing/presenting the work as first author was the primary avenue for that. If the student chose not to author the work then my advisor would write it up as first author, putting the student as second author.

      I know plenty of students who chose not to publish because they were not interested in continuing to work after the degree and it really didn’t benefit them career-wise. I don’t think it burned any bridges – a reasonable advisor will understand that your current work demands should come first (and frankly that not everyone wants to keep revisiting grad school work for a year or longer after finishing!). OTOH, I have worked with my advisor several times in the years since graduating and we continue to have a good working relationship, so I’m glad I invested the time.

    2. another_scientist*

      I really depends on your new career. These kinds of unpaid labor are expected because of the presumed benefit that you’d be getting yourself. An extra publication on your CV can be good.
      Are you staying in an academic research setting? If yes, it’s much more important to keep the bridge to your grad advisor intact. If you pursue a research career, you will typically always come back to your grad advisor (among others) for recommendations for future jobs and promotions. Most people therefore tolerate a lot of bad-boss-behaviors from advisers.
      As The New Wanderer points out, anything you finish up unpaid, you should get full credit for. In a lot of fields that means first authorship, but it can vary.
      Unpaid work should also be limited to finishing up/writing up research that was done in grad school. Only invest effort in further work/further collaboration with the old advisor, if it fits into your new research direction, and if your new boss supports it, at which point it’s part of your new job and no longer unpaid.
      Once you have a job outside of academic research, there is less of an expectation that you will still do unpaid academic labor. Soon, your job accomplishments and reference from your first job out of grad school will outweigh what came before.

    3. Unfettered scientist*

      Depending on the field this can be pretty common. Are you going for an academic position? If so, it’s going to be more important to do the extra work and squeeze as many papers out of your graduate work as possible. Also critical to keep on your PIs good side if you’re going to rely on them for academic rec letters. But if you’re not, then personally I would finish up the work related to your degree but then mostly leave the ball in your PIs court once you have a draft. These things can take a lot longer than you might expect.

  69. Laura H.*

    So I have a weird question.

    I’m a seasonal employee at a retail store and I caught Covid at the tail end of my season. My store management was helpful and wished me well. (The corporate HR was as well, but this question is more for showing appreciation to my local store that I work for seasonally.)

    I understand the way to say thank you in the work context for something like that is keep working well, but I won’t get that opportunity till the next season (hopefully late April or early May start time). I’ll get called for the next season.

    I don’t have a need or strong want for a new product at the moment. I do have some business to do as a customer- it’s care for product I already own as well as picking up an item before I was ill. I’ve already verbally thanked the folks who work with me who checked in on me during my illness.

    Is there something that wouldn’t be intrusive, but be more immediate in addition to the working hard when I have the next opportunity that would serve as an added “Thank you for helping me not feel guilty about catching this crud at the tail end of the busy holiday season.”?

    1. Who moved my cheese?*

      Say a thoughtful thank you! Verbally or a greeting card. “Thank you for supporting me and (specific stuff they did), especially during such a busy time!”

    2. pancakes*

      You can send a card if you like, but I don’t think it’s necessary. What you’ve described on their part is what I consider baseline decency. Wishing a coworker well when they’re sick isn’t going above and beyond. If you do send something, I would advise not mentioning feeling guilty or potentially feeling guilty at all. It’s a bit too personal for a work context, and doesn’t really have anything to do with wishing a coworker well when they’re sick.

  70. Witch*

    Okay! It’s 2021 and I need a career change. I’m in public relations right now, but I realize I very much dislike the amount of constant pressure I’m under. The things I do like about it; Helping people find information and writing.

    I know I need a career change. I was considering human resources. I’m comfortable with understanding and explaining complex processes and topics. (I work in the auto industry with some really technical clients) And from the outside it seems like HR is focused on helping people find employment information. I’m particularly interested in the employee relations aspect of this work.

    Do you think a background in communications would translate well? How do I approach the hurdle of lacking HR-specific expertise? (for ref I’ve already addressed this in my cover letter)

    I was also considering a job in library sciences but I understand the industry is really really tough to get into. What are some possible jobs for a communicator who enjoys talking with people that can grow into a full-time career?

    1. anastaziad*

      What about training jobs that may or may not be HR related. If you are good with public speaking, can put together a presentation, etc. This would more directly use communication skills. I supposed some of this type of work would fall under employee relations—consider how much you want to be writing manuals vs working with people, and read lots of job descriptions to get a better idea of what seems like a good fit. You should be able to translate your skills to one of these areas.

      1. anastaziad*

        Also, if you are good at explaining complex topics, a niche area might be developing and presenting seminars related to retirement plans to the plan participants. For example, there are several large firms that do a lot of work for companies with pension plans, or for governmental entities with pension. Often there may be changes to the plans, or one-time opportunities to make elections, etc, that requires a high level of communication. Pre COVID, that might include in person workshops, but now may be online interactive webinars, etc.

        1. Witch*

          Oh!! That’s a really good idea. One of my former co-workers got a position with the UAW explaining insurance benefits to retirees. I should reach out to her!